Sam HarrisÂ quote:
“It is time we recognizedâ€”and obliged the Muslim world to recognizeâ€”that “Muslim extremism” is not extreme among Muslims. Mainstream Islam itself represents an extremist rejection of intellectual honesty, gender equality, secular politics and genuine pluralism.”
Sam, you don’t know a damn thing about Islam, the Koran, or Muslim history. Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by extremists.
Tall order to tame extremists
Looks like our old disclaimer has just been busted:
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation “but the vast majority of Indonesians practice a tolerant, moderate form of Islam”Â –
How do you like the new one?
“90 per cent of Indonesian youth are prepared to carry out violence in the name of Islam.”
ONE of the great failures of the post 9/11 decade all over the world has been the attempt to de-radicalise Islamist extremists. I have just returned from a week in Indonesia and I have to report to you that de-radicalisation there has been a bust.
I spent an afternoon with two leaders from the Institute for International Peace Building, YPP in its Indonesian acronym. YPP runs a series of de-radicalisation programs in Indonesian prisons. Their verdict was that they have some success with foot soldiers, and very occasionally with failed field commanders, but virtually never with those they term “ideologists”.
Unlike other de-radicalisation programs, their approach is not concerned much with theology and Islamic issues. When they are dealing with poorly educated people they will try to challenge the Islamist ideology, but overwhelmingly their focus is on helping inmates with a more practical view of life: how they can support their families or find a job.
* Trouble is they don’t want a job because in their warped and twisted minds Allah will take care of everything…..
- Indonesia: Muslim who attacked church swore oath to obey jihad leader’s orders “based on the Koran and Sunnah”
- Indonesia: 1.8 Million Take Part in Terror Networks…
- Indonesian Islamists Seize Local Church Accused of Evangelism
- Indonesia arrests three Misunderstanders of Islam with suspected connections to suicide attacks
- The threat to moderate IndonesiaThe Australian,Â 4 days ago
- Indonesian bomber strikes churchHerald Sun,Â 26 Sep 2011
- Intolerance fans extremist flamesHerald Sun,Â 10 Sep 2011
- The unheeded steps of a psycho killerThe Australian,Â 28 Jul 2011
- Hardline Islam a bigger threatThe Australian,Â 7 Jul 2011
Indonesian jails have been notorious as schools for terror. The Islamist extremists inside dominate prison mosques, are looked up to by other prisoners, can mobilise contacts outside to threaten their enemies and can bribe or harass guards into allowing access to mobile phones, Islamist literature and much of the paraphernalia of successful planning of terrorist operations.
The Indonesian government is pondering whether to build a jail specifically to house Islamist extremists. My YPP friends tell me this could be good or bad. It might make it much more difficult to separate the foot soldiers from the leaders and could easily backfire in a messy fashion.
My impression, after talking to people in many countries, is that almost everything Western governments do in their own societies under the rubric of de-radicalisation is a waste of money or makes things worse.
Darebin Council to tackle Ramadan traffic issues using anti-terror funds:
A story in Melbourne this week reported that de-radicalisation money was being used to employ an outreach officer to help a local mosque deal with residents’ complaints about traffic snarls caused by Ramadan services. This may or may not be a useful way to spend taxpayers’ money but it’s hard to believe it will have the slightest effect on whether someone takes up terror. But it shows how difficult it is for governments to make any meaningful contribution in this at all.
As I have often written, and firmly believe, the overwhelming majority of Indonesian Muslims are naturally tolerant, pluralist, inclusive and believe in the rule of law. However, it is wrong to understate the problem of extremists. As my YPP friends told me, there are thousands of Indonesians who have been trained in jihadist values and some military techniques. That training has occurred in Mindanao in The Philippines, and within Indonesia in Ambon, Poso and other key locations.
Indonesia is intensely important to Australia. It has prospects for a good economic future and far more natural forces at work to blunt the sharpest edges of extremism than in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the practice of Islam in Indonesia is becoming more conservative and the numbers who practise intolerance, sometimes violently, are rising.
Here we come to one of the deepest conceptual questions about Islamist extremism: are we dealing with psychological pathology or with a hearts-and-minds strategy? Are violent extremists the psychological equivalents of members of Western cults or are they psychologically sound but have deliberately embraced an ideology of extremist Islam?
It is fair to say this is still an unresolved question among Western intelligence and analytical agencies. I think the numbers of intolerant Indonesians are simply too large for the cult analogy to hold up.
Islam is genuinely different from other religions in its inherent militancy, the call to its followers to create a political order according to the specific rules of Islam and in the interpretation of jihad as a violent struggle for Islamic supremacy that attracts at least a minority of Muslims. It may be a relatively small minority, but it is a minority big enough to cause endless trouble.
What is encouraging about Indonesia is that the good guys, who explicitly reject all this, are highly active. I don’t mean liberal Muslims exactly. Except for a tiny Jakarta elite, who are more liberal than Muslim, liberal Islam has all but died out in Indonesia. I mean the small-c conservatives who believe in human rights and in the rule of law and who are willing to campaign for that vision as their interpretation of Islam.
I met a brilliant, dynamic young man, Fajar Riza Ul Haq, who heads the Maarif Foundation, which campaigns for Muslims to see human rights as integral to their religion. He told me that when he first broaches this concept with schoolteachers they typically find it objectionable, seeing it as a Western concept. Indeed, he accepts the analysis that Indonesian Islam is generally more conservative today than a decade ago, and becoming more conservative still. He doesn’t equate being conservative with a propensity to violence, but he does think this conservative bent can be a precursor, as it were, to a more extremist view, that it shares a certain degree of cultural and even analytical commonality with the extremists’ world view.
He is also convinced, while avoiding conspiracy theories, that outside actors, especially elite players within Indonesian politics, intentionally stir up communal hostilities for their own political purposes. He comes originally from Solo, and while Solo is a centre for conservative Islam, it traditionally has not been the site of violent Islam-Christian clashes until recently. Fajar believes recent attacks on Christian churches have been carried out by groups from outside Solo who believe that, by engineering serious communal strife there, they can radicalise a large number of new jihadists, as my YPP friends told me happened in Ambon.
Fajar also reports a disturbing statistic: that 90 per cent of Indonesian youth, according to surveys, would be prepared to carry out violence in the name of Islam. That’s an ambiguous result, hard to interpret because of the imprecise nature of the question, but it’s not really reassuring.
That Fajar finds resistance among schoolteachers to his message on human rights shows how much work is still to be done. That he can generally talk them round over time, and that he is engaged in this work with energy and skill and commitment, is a powerful sign of hope. Â Â 20 comments on this story
Â Moustafa’s got it all worked out:
Hisham Moustafa of AustÂ Posted at 1:03 PM October 13, 2011
Just a response to Greg’s following comment from his article: “Islam is genuinely different from other religions in its inherent militancy, the call to its followers to create a political order according to the specific rules of Islam and in the interpretation of jihad as a violent struggle for Islamic supremacy that attracts at least a minority of Muslims. ” Judaism is another religion that has a canon of law that explicitly supports violence to acheive religious aims. I’m sure there are other religions too, and while Christianity is a little less clear in terms of non-personal religious doctribe, it has historically advocated violence as a core element of the religion (the ‘crusade’). What is more, nationalism is probably the best example of an ideology that incorporates violence to achieve political aims. If you asked Australians whether they would be prepared to carry out violence to defend Australia, I’m sure the figure might be similar to the 90% refered to above.
We have seen this before. In Britain,Â the head of the Islamic Medical AssociationÂ told parents that vaccines were haram. In Nigeria,Â jihadis struck a vaccine warehouse, and paranoia about vaccines being a U.S. plot to sterilize MuslimsÂ led to a polio outbreak. “Religious beliefs hinder vaccination in E. Java,” by Elly Burhaini Faizal forÂ The Jakarta Post, October 15: (Â Read more: not halal)