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  The Growing Conflict in America

Muslim Americans Living in a Secular Democracy and a Predominately Christian Country

 [A five-part series]

Part V

 

Introduction

 

By way of deception, thou shalt do war. Israel’s Mossad

 

The United States and much of the civilized world in 2016 is increasingly under attack from radical Islam. The purpose of this fundamentalist jihadist ideology has, as its goal, to either kill or convert all people on earth who don’t support their fundamentalist ideology. They have dreams of world conquest and domination, and a desire to make Islam the one and only religion on the planet. And, they want the entire world to be under Sharia Law, regardless of how much barbarian cruelty is involved. They also want the elimination of all civil rights and human rights worldwide.

 

The first part in understanding these attacks and what to do about them is to recognize that the threats themselves fall into two basic categories: (1) threats involving “civilization jihad” being achieved without guns and bombs. This is the rather insidious attempt to slowly infiltrate and convert the United States into an Islamic state through intimidation and the cry of Islamophobia whenever anyone questions their motives. And, (2) the second category of threats involves both violent jihad here in the United States and abroad.

 

In countering these threats, the United States needs to be fully aware of what is going on here and abroad, and no longer be willing to naively put its head in the sand. We must take decisive action now.  

 

Part IV dealt with the reality of the plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to   infiltrate American society and all its institutions in order to slowly convert the United States into an Islamic state.

    

     This Part V will describe my observations and recommendations as to what to do now. Basically, what actions should our country take? There is growing rage by most Americans that is now being directed at radical Islam worldwide.

 

But such rage is beginning to spill over to eradicate and subjugate any and all who want to internally convert the United States into an Islamic state by way of “civilization Jihad.” Unless we are able and willing to confront our enemies here and abroad, our enemies will ultimately devour us.

 

Nature of Threats

 

Threats abroad have involved more than threats themselves, but actual murder of large groups of people such as in Paris, Brussels, Syria, Iraq, and recently in Pakistan. These attacks have injured and maimed thousands of people worldwide.

 

Violence perpetrated by ISIS and other terrorist groups has resulted in the murder, torture and slaughter of Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other ethnic groups. The United Nations has now recognized and spoken out and declared their acts of violence as genocide. Unfortunately, Americans have a short memory. For now, let me give my cyberspace audience a reminder of what has happened.

 

 

Jihadist Violence in America—Remembering the Slain and Injured

What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing.

George S. Patton

War as I Knew it (1947), Part One, Ch. 1

 

There appears to be quite a definite similarity or overlap between what is happening overseas in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and what has happened here in the United States going back to September 11, 2001.

2001—Terror Hits America Big Time

The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda on the United States on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The attacks consisted of suicide attacks used to target symbolic U.S. landmarks.

Four passenger airliners—which all departed from airports on the U.S. East Coast bound for California—were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists to be flown into buildings. Two of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, were crashed into the North and South towers, respectively, of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed, with debris and the resulting fires causing partial or complete collapse of all other buildings in the World Trade Center complex, including the 47-story 7 World Trade Center tower, as well as significant damage to ten other large surrounding structures.

A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon (the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense) in Arlington County, Virginia, leading to a partial collapse in the Pentagon’s western side. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, initially was steered toward Washington, D.C., but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers.

In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 2,996 people (including the 19 hijackers) and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage and $3 trillion in total costs. It was the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed respectively.

Suspicion for the attack quickly fell on al-Qaeda. The United States responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaeda.

Many countries strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorist attacks. Although al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, initially denied any involvement, in 2004 he claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Al-Qaeda and bin Laden cited U.S. support of Israel, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as motives. Having evaded capture for almost a decade, bin Laden was located and killed by members of the U.S. military in May, 2011.

Jihadist Attacks on America since 9/11

Today we have a similar situation with Islamic Jihadist attacks; the Boston Marathon Jihadist attack that killed 4 people and injured many others; the November 2009 attack at Fort Hood that killed 13 soldiers and wounded 30 others; the July 15, 2015 attack by a Jihadist at a military recruiting facility and naval center killing four marines and one sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee; the carnage that occurred with the death of 14 citizens and many more wounded, in San Bernardino, California; and, as recently as January 7, 2016, a professed jihadist tried to murder a Philadelphia police officer shooting the officer 11 times. Fortunately, the officer chased him, and then fired back wounding the assailant.

And, internationally, all of this was preceded in 2015 by Jihadist attacks in Paris, France that killed 130 people; Beirut Lebanon where 40 were killed and 200 others injured at a university; a hotel in Mali where 20 were killed; and the downing of a Russian passenger jet over the Sinai desert that murdered 224 passengers.

With all these attacks by radical jihadist Muslim extremists, fear has once again gripped the entire nation. But, so have anger and finally the willingness of our nation to put itself on a war-footing with radical Islamic jihad, whether there is a formal declaration of war or not. If there was a formal declaration of war made by the United States Congress, the country would give the President the powers to engage the enemy with all its might, including strategic nuclear weapons.

What is the Strategy to Terminate the Enemy Abroad?

 

The best way to describe the strategy abroad to defeat ISIS is to first discuss President Obama’s original plan disclosed in September, 2014. It is also important to report on the progress to prosecute the war since then.

 

The President revealed a 4- point plan described as follows:

  1. U.S. airstrikes: Obama said such attacks have already been successful against al-Qaeda in Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.
  2. Support to foreign ground forces: He vowed to send 475 more U.S. troops to Iraq to support local security forces as well as provide military equipment and training to Syrian rebels.
  3. Counterterrorism: The U.S. will work with allies on intelligence and programs to prevent foreign fighters from joining ISIS.
  4. Humanitarian assistance: Aid will go to Muslim, Christian and religious minorities in danger of being driven out of their homes by ISIS.

He stressed the strategy was different than the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

The President stated in his meeting at the White House at that time, “But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists, who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Current Fight against ISIS in the Middle East

As of early February, 2016 much progress has been made since inception of President Obama’s original 4-point plan a year and a half earlier. This progress includes:

(1)  10,000 strategic air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but also ongoing for years in Yemen and Somalia.in Africa.

(2)  Because of the air campaign strikes, ISIS now has 40% less territory in Iraq and Syria than it did before the campaign. The leadership of ISIS and individual commander’s lives are, on a daily basis, being terminated by American Special Forces, precision air strikes and drones, and also because of increased intelligence gathering and information sharing among all the coalition partners.

(3)  Coalition partners are now making greater contributions to the war effort to destroy ISIS in terms of logistics, ground forces and some humanitarian aid for refugees.

(4)  The money supply for paying ISIS fighters has been cut in half by a precision strike in the city of Mosul. Also ISIS’ finance director, a long time jihadist, was killed in an air strike.

(5)  ISIS is now confronting a shortage of new recruits for ISIS forces.

(6)  New territory is reclaimed by coalition forces every day and roads are being controlled which prevent ISIS from replenishing their own needs.

(7)  Two cities are soon to be reclaimed, and ISIS fighters will be captured or killed. They include the main headquarters city of Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul in northern Iraq near the Turkey border. As soon as these cities are re-taken the others will begin to fall like dominoes.

 

     The above progress cited strongly suggests that President Obama’s plan has succeeded a great deal in the war against ISIS. I believe however that there may be some fine-tuning of his basic approach to destroying and defeating ISIS that may expedite its completion as well as deal with its long-term effects.

 

     Consequently, I’d like to suggest both a short term and a longer term approach to defeating ISIS militarily, but also crippling it from returning in the future.

 

Short-Term Approach

 

First, there is the problem that ISIS fighters are perniciously embedded with Muslim or other captives. Second, ISIS also has a total malevolent stranglehold on the cities it has captured.

 

In my opinion greater use of psychological warfare needs to be employed against ISIS since ISIS morale is at an all-time low due to the precision killing of their leaders, not getting paid as much because of air strikes in Mosul that destroyed their money supply, and knowing that 40% of their forces have been destroyed by airstrikes since 2014.

 

 

In this war, which was total in every sense of the word, we have seen many great changes in military science.  It seems to me that not the least of these was the development of psychological warfare as a specific and effective weapon.

General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

In my opinion, no plan of psychological warfare is ever perfect, but credibility, even when it’s based on a lie, is the key to effective deception. The first step in taking ISIS cities, large or small, is to surround them on all sides so there is no way for ISIS fighters to escape. U.S. warplanes and coalition warplanes can assist in tracking and killing ISIS fighters who try to escape. In addition, in the case of cities like Mosul, Raqqa, Fallujah, and others, all water, food, electricity, and drug sources need to be stopped. U.S. Special Forces could be very useful in carrying out these missions. In addition, the ISIS fighters must not be allowed to sleep. PA systems need to produce very loud irritating blasts of sound 24/7.

 

Psychological drugs have been given to ISIS fighters and others in the past to make them willing to die for their cause without regard to their own safety or desire to live. In essence, when under the influence of drugs supplied by their leadership, they do not fear death. Without a source for these drugs an individual’s greatest need is to survive. Down deep they value their own life.

 

Leaflets would then be dropped on the cities to give ISIS fighters a chance to live. A timeline is made clear to these fighters by giving them 24 hours before a horrible death awaits them. They will be told in the leaflet that they must release all captives in that 24 hour period before hostilities of an unusual nature will occur. If they do, they are told their lives will be spared.

 

You don’t tell them what this horrible death will be; you leave that to their imagination. They will stew during the 24 hours (just a bit of psychological terror). At 24 hours, if they don’t surrender and release the hostages, high-flying crop dusters will go to work spraying the city below with a white powder laced with an active, yet mild form of the influenza strain.

 

In another 24-36 hours people in the city will begin to get sick.

 

ISIS Fighters will be made to think (another leaflet) that you’ve just dropped Ricin (Ricin is very toxic. Ricin can be made from the waste material left over from processing castor beans. It can be made in the form of a powder, a mist, or a pellet or it can be dissolved in water or weak acid.) to give them that horrible death. Their own imagination will create in their minds their own worst nightmare.

 

Then begins the waiting game whereby inhabitants begin to suffer the symptoms of influenza (weakness, high temperature, throwing up, diarrhea, that over-all crappy feeling). Without food and water they will soon begin to hallucinate, amplified by their own fear of impending death.

 

They are told over the blasting PA system that medical attention is there for them if they surrender. At this point deception is followed by a “grand lie.” The enemy is told what they have.

 

We broadcast a message that they have been infected with ricin. They are told that in the next few hours they will begin foaming at the mouth and convulsions will soon occur. They are told, however, that if they surrender, then medical attention will help them survive.

 

If ISIS fighters resist anyway, then snipers should be used to pick off any who resist. At this moment tank fire will begin to bombard the city on all sides. Streets will be hit by the shells, not buildings where people are hiding.

 

If all this fails to get ISIS to surrender then recapturing forces would then begin to target buildings with tank fire from every direction. If they try to use captives as shields, snipers will need to separate the “wheat from the chaff.”

 

What I’ve described is just one scenario on how to extricate an enemy from a city using psychological warfare. If ISIS fighters want to die in the end for Allah, then we can help them do that. As General Patton said during WWII, “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

 

This is not of course WWII. ISIS does not have a country; what it does have is an Islamic State trying to overtake other countries and impose their will and their own ideology. Once we kill their Caliphate, tensions in the Middle East may get much better. For now their numbers are dwindling, and it’s time to strike a fatal blow in every city that ISIS, al-Qaeda, or Boko Haram is holding.

Long Term Approach

 

When the shooting ends the war is not over. All survivors from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa need to be helped with aid. Survivors will help us and others to bring all ISIS fighters, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram enemies, and their leaders, to a war crimes tribunal. Survivors will identify and give testimony before these tribunal courts. Court judges will be appointed by the respective presidents from the United States, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Belgium. Rather than being held in The Hague in the Netherlands, these trials should be held in Iraq.

 

Following these initial trials, there needs to be a relentless multi-national approach to track down and capture those enemy combatants or supporters, who fell through the cracks. This would be similar to the efforts made after World War II to track down and capture Nazi war criminals. This process may need to be conducted for many years to come.

 

In addition, the United States needs to end all foreign aid to any country in the Middle East or Africa (ally or not) who supports in any way Sharia Law. Nation building gets a “bad rap” these days, but we must find ways to eliminate or get rid of Islamic religious law (Sharia Law) from the face of the earth. And, in America, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights needs to be in every textbook in America from K-12. All education of Muslim American children need to have all textbooks and teaching materials approved by a secular State Board of Education. All public and private school education in the United States needs to be reviewed every year.

 

 

What is the Strategy to Terminate “Civilization Jihad” at Home?

 

I reported in Part III of this series this piece of social science research finding, i.e., “At the present time, 51% of Muslim Americans, according to the Gatestone Institute (an international policy council), want or would prefer they be governed by Sharia Law.”

 

I find this statistical evidence very troubling. Why? Because it adds fuel to the fire that slightly more than 50% of Muslim Americans prefer Islam’s political aspects of superiority to all other religions and promotes a disingenuous pretense of moderation including perhaps a disdain for America’s laws including the United States Constitution. If more than half of all Muslims in the United States feel this way—we indeed have a very serious problem.

 

There are, of course, wide differences of opinion in the Muslim American Community whereby 49% of those surveyed don’t necessarily go along with Islamic religious laws reflected in the Koran any more than Christians buy into the Old Testament as representing “real Christianity.” The idea of the Old Testament in Christianity is looked upon, even by many evangelicals, as rather quaint in today’s world. Likewise, many Muslim Americans think for themselves and reject the “fundamentalist viewpoint” of Islam or any religion for that matter.

 

I am reminded of the true distinction (See Part IV) of importance pointed out by Robert Spencer who wrote the book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. In his book he said, “Those who are working to advance the subjugation of non-Muslims are not doing it solely by violent means. The common distinction between ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims has generally been made between those who are engaged in blowing things up or are plotting to do so, and those who are not. However, the evidence presented in this book shows that the distinction ought to be placed elsewhere: between those Muslims who believe that Islamic law is the perfect system for human society and who are working by whatever means to impose that Islamic law, and those Muslims who support Western pluralistic governments and seek to live with non-Muslims as equals, under secular law, on an indefinite basis.”

 

Plan to Terminate or Disembowel “Civilization Jihadists” in the United States.

 

Because half of Muslim Americans prefer Sharia law to the laws in America, it is clear that these citizens may need to be under close and constant surveillance. In addition, our laws on treason need to be revised and expanded under the Patriot Act to include “civilization Jihad” as Treason.

 

Anyone who plans to overthrow the United States government by whatever means, is guilty of treason and would be subject to the death penalty. Such individuals or organizations in a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the United States by violent or “civilization jihad” means would all be subject to asset forfeiture and confiscation of all properties thereof. This will get the point across to those who want to promote Sharia law in the United States that they will be caught, subject to the harshest of laws, and if found guilty will be subject to very long prison sentences and, following that—deportation from the United States.

 

Where Muslim front groups are concerned, the Justice Department, FBI, and Homeland Security need to make greater use of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate or require scrutiny of all funds in and out of these organizations on a regular basis.

 

The FBI should join forces with the Internal Revenue Service to track where such money is coming from and going to. Rather than wasting resources, the 160 current FBI agents dedicated to investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server account, could be more wisely, prudently, judiciously, and effectively utilized to fight against this internal threat from civilization jihad.

 

Nearly half of all Muslim Americans are pissed off that political jihadists had high-jacked their religion of Islam. Given that Sharia Law is an integral part of Islam, the time has now been reached whereby the social cement of oppression and contamination by Sharia Law should be eradicated or purged worldwide including right here in the United States. Twenty-five states already have proposals, laws or pending legislation to eliminate Sharia Law in the United States.

 

What must be promoted is a kind of “democracy jihad” in reverse. The United States needs very much to make disincentives meaningful against all countries in the world that use Sharia Law. The country can start by ending all foreign aid to all countries that use Sharia Law. As they say, “What goes around comes around.”

 

We Need Muslim American Support

 

 

It will be critical to the country’s effort to destroy our internal threat of “civilization jihad” by enlisting the help and support of the Muslim Reform Movement. Zuhdi Jasser, who has been a target of the Muslim Brotherhood, is co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.

 

Here are their declarations or what they stand for:

Origin of Muslim Reform Movement

Declaration of the Muslim Reform Movement / Signed by AIFD (December 4, 2015)

Preamble

     We are Muslims who live in the 21st century. We stand for a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam. We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism, or politicized Islam, which seeks to create Islamic states, as well as an Islamic caliphate. We seek to reclaim the progressive spirit with which Islam was born in the 7th century to fast forward it into the 21st century. We support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by United Nations member states in 1948.   

     We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. Facing the threat of terrorism, intolerance, and social injustice in the name of Islam, we have reflected on how we can transform our communities based on three principles: peace, human rights and secular governance. We are announcing today the formation of an international initiative: the Muslim Reform Movement.

     We have courageous reformers from around the world who have written our Declaration for Muslim Reform, a living document that we will continue to enhance as our journey continues. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.

DECLARATION

 

  1. Peace: National Security, Counterterrorism and Foreign Policy
  2. We stand for universal peace, love and compassion. We reject violent jihad. We believe we must target the ideology of violent Islamist extremism, in order to liberate individuals from the scourge of oppression and terrorism both in Muslim-majority societies and the West.
  3. We stand for the protection of all people of all faiths and non-faith who seek freedom from dictatorships, theocracies and Islamist extremists.
  4. We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.

 

  1. Human Rights: Women’s Rights and Minority Rights
  2. We stand for human rights and justice. We support equal rights and dignity for all people, including minorities. We support the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
  3. We reject tribalism, castes, monarchies and patriarchies and consider all people equal with no birth rights other than human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Muslims don’t have an exclusive right to “heaven.”
  4. We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny.

 

  1. Secular Governance: Freedom of Speech and Religion
  2. We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty. We are against political movements in the name of religion. We separate mosque and state. We are loyal to the nations in which we live. We reject the idea of the Islamic state. There is no need for an Islamic caliphate. We oppose institutionalized sharia. Sharia is manmade.
  3. We believe in life, joy, free speech and the beauty all around us. Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights. We reject blasphemy laws. They are a cover for the restriction of freedom of speech and religion. We affirm every individual’s right to participate equally in ijtihad, or critical thinking, and we seek a revival of ijtihad.
  4. We believe in freedom of religion and the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation, persecution, discrimination or violence. Apostasy is not a crime. Our ummah–our community–is not just Muslims, but all of humanity.

 

Final Comments

This entire five-part series has been to bring some clarity to the current war against radical Islam in the United States and abroad. We are at times between a “rock and a hard place.” That is, on the one hand Islamophobia is real and needs to be curtailed; less innocent Muslims may fear for their lives and are subject to unwarranted and unfair persecution. On the other hand, there are Muslim Americans who would prefer a more fundamentalist perspective on Islam, and want to turn our country into an Islamic state.

Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers, once wrote “give me liberty or give me death.” Liberty and freedom are not free—it comes with a cost. And that cost is vigilance, tenaciousness and the willingness to take anyone on.

Whether we believe it or not, democrats and republicans both love freedom and democracy. We just have differences of opinion as to how to protect our freedoms and defend this country. The things we take for granted such as civil rights, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, often times need protection during times of war but also when there seems to be no apparent threats to the country at all.

This time in the 21st Century, in this country, there are definite threats to our way of life. Nobody can ask you to put yourself in harm’s way unnecessarily in this position. We depend on others such as law enforcement, the military, and our government to protect us. But this dependency on others all the time is what leaves us most vulnerable to harm—more than you think. It is time to get your buried head out of the sand and stand up and be tough and resilient. Never has there ever been a time for the nation to pull itself together against our enemies here and abroad.

As I said in Part I in this series, “Americans are not weaklings; Americans are tough, extremely resilient, tenacious and strong-willed. As a nation we are protective of our people, our laws, institutions, and the supreme law of the land—the United States Constitution.” I am reminded again of a famous 20th Century quote from Winston Churchill. It is also a good idea from our perspective in the 21st Century.

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

 

Winston Churchill

 

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The Growing Conflict in America

Muslim Americans Living in a Secular Democracy and a Predominantly Christian Country

[A five-part series]

Part IV

 

Introduction

I will present information and data on the Muslim Brotherhood. The basic question of Part IV of this five-part series is as follows: Has the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrated America with the goal of transforming the United States into an Islamic State? The answer, of course, is yes.

Earlier in this series I described the reality of the extant concept of “Civilization Jihad,” or how Radical Islam is subverting America without guns or bombs. If one is really interested in learning this in more detail, I’d like to direct your attention to four very good sources: (1) a DVD from 2012 titled, Jihad in America: The Grand Deception, and three books, (2) Stealth Jihad—How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs by Robert Spencer, (3) United States of Jihad by Peter Bergen and (4) While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer.

What follows is: (1) a brief history of the Muslim Brotherhood, (2) description of the revealed plot to Islamitize America, and finally (3) what individuals and organizations are involved.

Brief History of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Society of the Muslim Brothers, also known as the Muslim Brotherhood, is a transnational Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt by Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in 1928. The organization gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups such as Hamas with its “model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work,” and in 2012 sponsored the elected political party in Egypt after the January Revolution in 2011.

 

However, it suffered from periodic government crackdowns for alleged terrorist activities, and as of 2015 is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

 

The Plot to Destroy America

 

The following material came from an online un-authored document of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, titled “FBI: Muslim Brotherhood deeply rooted inside U.S.” dated 2/21/2011.

 

According to the report, back in 2011 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that the Muslim Brotherhood is deeply rooted inside the U.S. Accordingly, the House and Senate intelligence committees said they were probing the domestic security threat posed by the radical Muslim Brotherhood and, specifically, whether the Muslim Brotherhood operatives have penetrated the U.S. government.

As it turns out, federal court documents reveal that virtually every major Muslim organization in America is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. Such documents also showed that its U.S. network has raised millions of dollars for Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. According to veteran FBI agent John Guandolo, “The most important Islamic organizations in the United States are all controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. Department of Justice has identified no fewer than 61 Muslim Brotherhood figures and entities operating within the U.S.”

 

How the Plot Became Known

 

“In August of 2004, an alert Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer observed a woman wearing traditional Islamic garb videotaping the support structures of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and conducted a traffic stop. The driver was Ismail Elbarasse, and he was detained on an outstanding material witness warrant issued in Chicago in connection with fundraising for Hamas.

 

The FBI’s Washington Field Office subsequently executed a search warrant on Elbarasse’s residence in Annandale, Virginia. In the basement of his home a hidden sub-basement was found; it revealed over 80 banker boxes of the archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America.

 

One of the most important of these documents made public to date was entered into evidence during the Holy Land Foundation trial. It amounted to the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic plan for the United States and was entitled, “An Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” The Explanatory Memorandum was written in 1991 by a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America and a senior Hamas leader named, Mohammed Akram.

 

It had been approved by the Brotherhood’s Shura Council and Organizational Conference and was meant for internal review by the Brothers’ leadership in Egypt. It was certainly not intended for public consumption, particularly in the targeted society: the United States. For these reasons, the memo constitutes a Rosetta stone for the Muslim Brotherhood, its goals, modus operandi and infrastructure in America.

 

It is arguably the single most important vehicle for understanding a secretive organization and should, therefore, be considered required reading for policy-makers and the public, alike.”

 

What Individuals and Organizations are involved in the Plot?

 

According to the FBI report, “American Muslim activists deny the Muslim Brotherhood operates inside America. Even Muslims who have attached themselves to the Republican Party have pooh-poohed the internal threat.” Many of the following organizations regularly use Islamophobia as their defense against any accusations that the following organizations are a front for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the FBI has overwhelming evidence of the underlying conspiracy to Islamize America.

 

Who Are These Organizations?

 

They include The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, the umbrella

Organization for most of the Muslim Groups in the U.S. and Canada; The North American Islamic Trust, or NAIT, which holds title to most of the major mosques in America, including one in the Washington suburbs attended by both the Fort Hood terrorist and some of the 911 hijackers; and The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, the largest Muslim-rights group in the country. All are funded by wealthy patrons in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast nations, according to sensitive embassy cables, tax records, bank wire transfers and other documents cited in the book, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” an expose of the Muslim Brotherhood and its American Front groups.

 

“Their names were entered into evidence as ‘co-conspirators during a federal trial which ended in 2008 with the convictions of several Muslim Brotherhood leaders on terrorism charges. The ‘list of un-indicted co-conspirators’ implicated these otherwise mainstream Muslim groups in a criminal scheme to funnel millions of dollars to Palestinian terrorists under the guise of charity.”

 

     According to the report by the FBI, “One secret document found during the raid of Elbarasse’s home laid bare the Brotherhood’s ambitious plans for a U.S. takeover that would replace the U.S. Constitution with Shariah, or Islamic law.”

 

In the document in 1991 by another agent, Mohammed Akram Adlouni, the strategy paper described the group’s long-term goal of ‘sabotaging’ the U.S. system. It’s a blueprint for a stealth ‘grand jihad.’ Under the heading, ‘The role of the Muslim brother in North America,’ it states:

 

   “The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within, and ‘sabotaging its miserable house by the hands of the believer’s, so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

 

     Besides the few organizational fronts mentioned above there are many more Muslim organizations in America that are subversive and criminally dangerous. In addition to ISNA, NAIT and CAIR’s forerunner IAP, they include:

 

The International Institute for Islamic Thought, or IIIT, the largest Islamic think tank in America; The Muslims Students Association, or MSA, which actively recruits on college campuses across the country; The Figh Council of North America, which renders religious rulings, or fatwahs, based on Islamic law for Muslim Americans; and, The Islamic Circle of North America, or ICNA, which recently merged with the Muslim American Society, or MAS, another Brotherhood front organization based in the Washington suburbs. For years, politicians and journalists have described these organizations as “moderate.” Investigators now warn they are U.S. franchises of the radical Brotherhood, established with a markedly different purpose than what they publicly claim.

 

 

Overview of Organizations to be prosecuted

 

The most notorious Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States was the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation (HLF), formerly the largest Muslim charity in the country. In late 2008, HLF and its officers were convicted of financing Hamas and sentenced for up to 65 years in prison.

The alphabet soup below is a partial list of the Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and affiliates in the United States. The major ones are in bold-face. Those on the prosecutor’s list of unindicted co-conspirators of HLF to be prosecuted next are highlighted in yellow:

  • American Muslim Council (AMC) •  American Trust Publications (ATP) •  Americans for Constructive Engagement (AMCE) •  Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE) •  Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) •  Audio-Visual Center (AVC) •  Baitul Mal, Inc. (BMI) •  Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) •  Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) •  Foundation for International Development (FID) •  Holy Land Foundation (HLF) •  Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) •  Islamic Book Service (IBS) •  Islamic Centers Division (ICD) •  Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) •  Islamic Education Department (IED) •  Islamic Free Market Institute (IFMI) •  Islamic Housing Cooperative (IHC) •  Islamic Information Center (IIC). •  Islamic Medical Association (IMA) •  Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) •  Islamic Teaching Center (ITC) •  International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) •  Malaysian Islamic Study Group (MISG) •  Mercy International Association (MIA) •  Muslim American Society (MAS) •  Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) •  Muslim Businessmen Association (MBA) •  Muslim Communities Association (MCA) •  Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) •  Muslim Student Association (MSA) •  Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) •  North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) •  Occupied Land Fund (OLF) •  United Association for Studies and Research (UASR)

 

 

Other Documented Material

 

 

Here are some comments on the threats posed by the Muslim Brotherhood overseas as well as here in America.

 

In the book, While Europe Slept—How Radical Islam is destroying the West from Within, Bruce Bawer wrote that, “The struggle for the soul of Europe today is every bit as dire and consequential as it was in the 1930s. Then, in Weimar, Germany, the center did not hold, and the light of civilization nearly went out. Today the Continent has entered yet another ‘Weimar moment.’ Will Europeans rise to the challenge posed by Radical Islam, or will they cave in once again to the extremists?”

 

As it turns out, “As an American living in Europe since 1998, Bruce Bawer has seen this problem up close. Across the Continent—in Amsterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, and Stockholm—he encountered large, rapidly expanding Muslim enclaves in which women were oppressed and abused, homosexuals persecuted and killed, ‘infidels’ threatened and vilified, Jews demonized and attacked, barbaric traditions (such as stoning and forced marriage) widely practiced, and freedom of speech and religion firmly repudiated.”

 

Another author, Peter Bergen, in his book (United States of Jihad—Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists) took a panoramic look at “homegrown Islamist Terrorism from 9/11 to the present.” Among the perpetrators are Anwar al-Awlaki, the New-Mexico born radical cleric who became the first American citizen killed by a CIA drone and who mentored the Charlie Hebdo shooters; Samir Khan, whose Inspire website has rallied terrorists around the world, including the Tsarnaev brothers; and Omar Hammami, an Alabama native and hip-hop fan who became a fixture in al-Shabaab’s propaganda videos until fatally displeasing his superiors.”

 

The final set of comments I want to report on comes from Robert Spencer who wrote the book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs.

 

He says, “In this book, I offer evidence for the proposition that terror attacks involving bombings and shootings are not the sum total of terrorist aspirations, but are just one component of a larger initiative. The goal of that initiative is the imposition of Jihadists’ ideology over the world—over their fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike. That ideology may be summed up by the phrase “radical Islam,” although the term is used in many different ways. Some use it to suggest that the core teachings of Islam are essentially peaceful and that it is only radicals—those who distort those teachings into “radical Islam”—who are responsible for violence committed in Islam’s name.

 

I am not using the phrase in that way. Rather, I have long contended that Islam is unique among the major world religions in having a developed doctrine, theology, and legal system mandating warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. There is no orthodox sect or school of Islam that teaches that Muslims must co-exist peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis. I use the term “radical Islam” merely to distinguish those Muslims who are actively working to advance this subjugation from the many millions who are not, as well as to emphasize that the stealth jihad program is truly radical; it aims at nothing less than the transformation of American society and the imposition of Islamic law here, subjugating women and non-Muslims to the status of legal inferiors.

 

Those who are working to advance the subjugation of non-Muslims are not doing it solely by violent means. The common distinction between “radical” and “moderate” Muslims has generally been made between those who are engaged in blowing things up or are plotting to do so, and those who are not. However, the evidence presented in this book shows that the distinction ought to be placed elsewhere: between those Muslims who believe that Islamic law is the perfect system for human society and who are working by whatever means to impose that Islamic law, and those Muslims who support Western pluralistic governments and seek to live with non-Muslims as equals, under secular law, on an indefinite basis.

 

Those who are working to advance the hegemony of Islamic law do so in innumerable ways, including by introducing it, bit by bit, into American society and demanding that Americans accommodate it; by shouting down any and all who dare to discuss the supremacist impulse within traditional and mainstream Islam; and by engaging in efforts to transform and control Western economics.

 

The West today faces the threat of stealth jihadists. By using this term, I am not implying that they operate in secret; to the contrary, one of the key characteristics distinguishing them from their violent counterparts is that they carry out their business openly, carefully constructing a façade of moderation.

 

What is stealth about these operatives is their ultimate agenda—they are not seeking to protect Muslims’ “civil-rights” from the rampant “Islamophobia” that ostensibly plagues Western societies, as they claim. Rather, they are leading a full-scale effort to transform pluralistic societies into Islamic states, and to sweep away Western notions of legal equality, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and more.

 

The stealth jihadists have already made significant inroads into American life. They are well-funded, well-organized, and persistent. They will not be pacified by

negotiations, compromises, or concessions; they cannot be bought off. And every day they are advancing their agenda—while most Americans don’t even know they exist.

 

In his controversial book American Alone, Mark Steyn suggests that Europe is falling to the Islamic jihad and that only America will be left as a bulwark against Islamization. But it is unclear how much of a bulwark we will be if we allow our freedoms and way of life to be eroded in the name of “getting along.” That is exactly what is happening today. The stealth jihadists are working energetically to wear away the very fabric of American culture. It is happening right now under our noses.”

 

 

Final Comments

 

     I said before that ‘generally’ I really don’t put much stock in “conspiracy theories.” This is because conspiracy requires a lot of simultaneous effort on the part of a lot of people to keep nefarious activities secret or hidden. It also requires incredible effort to control people from talking or making secret activities public.

 

However, the conspiracy I’ve just described is for real. The evidence is far too overwhelming, and the intelligence community has been on this for more than a decade. And, as things go, the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood are clandestine, sinister, and pose a major threat to the safety and security of the United States. This is no joke; it is reality at its worst.

 

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS continues to be the most visible threat globally. And on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 terrorism struck again, this time in Brussels. And today, Easter Sunday, 2016 a bomb exploded in a park in Pakistan that killed dozens of people, mostly women and children, and injured scores more. This latest terrorist attack was by an off-shoot of al-Qaeda.

The attack in Brussels was caused by ISIS. CNN news reported this story in the following way:

“ISIS claimed to strike yet again on European soil Tuesday, saying its “fighters” launched attacks on the airport and a subway station in Belgium’s capital that killed at least 31 people and wounded about 230 more.”

While jarring, the carnage wasn’t altogether surprising. Belgium has been going after terrorist threats for months, as illustrated by last week’s capture of Europe’s most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam, in a bloody raid in Brussels.”

“We feared terrorist attacks,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters Tuesday. “And that has now happened.”

“A Belgian government representative told CNN that 20 people died at the Maelbeek metro station and 130 were wounded, plus 10 more were killed and 100 wounded at Brussels’ international airport.”

The “working assumption” is that the attackers came from the same network behind November’s massacres in Paris, which left 130 dead, Belgian security sources said, while cautioning it is very early in the latest investigation.

“After Tuesday’s attacks, Belgian state broadcaster RTBF reported that Belgian authorities carried out midday raids in a search for people linked to the attacks. Several witnesses told CNN they’d seen police Special Forces combing through the northeast Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek, cordoning off a train station there.”

“Belgian authorities have given their U.S. counterparts pictures of three possible attack suspects, a U.S. law enforcement official said. None of the men who were shown pushing luggage carts has been identified by name, nor was it immediately known if any attackers are at large.” Subsequent to this report, six more arrests have occurred and a dragnet is underway to capture one of the bombers who got away.

I’d like to point out that Bruce Bawers’ book, “While Europe Slept—How Radical Islam is destroying the West from Within,” was published ten years ago in 2006. Although Bruce Bawer wasn’t trying to be an Edgar Cayce, isn’t it amazing how Bawer’s book is all coming true in 2016?

I nevertheless think the Islamic world has underestimated what people are willing to do to crush both ISIS and any sympathizing “civilization jihadists.” France, for example, has closed three Islamic mosques and actively now patrols Islamic communities. And that is only the beginning; Europe is beginning to finally wake up from its long sleep and take notice.

In Part V ahead, I will describe the steps I think the United States should take to eradicate the threat at home and a few suggestions as to what America can do in the Middle East and Africa to more forcefully eradicate and terminate the cancer known as ISIS and other malignant groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Growing Conflict in America

Muslim Americans Living in a Secular Democracy and a Predominately Christian Country

 [A five-part series]

Part II

In Part II, I will answer the questions of what it means to be an American, and how well do Muslim Americans identify with being an American? The majority of Muslim Americans are moderates—as the Pew research data will show. However, it is also true from their survey data that a small minority of particularly younger Muslims and native-born African Muslims may put the country at risk by adopting an extremist jihadist viewpoint.

These latter groups may need to be under local, state and national surveillance in order to prevent another Paris or San Bernardino violent attack. Under normal circumstances, such surveillance might be characterized as racial, ethnic, or religious profiling.

However, we are no longer living under normal circumstances. The threats that have been perpetrated on the home front are too many. The nation cannot and will not ignore these threats. There will always be a need to balance civil or legal rights on the one hand, with the need to protect our citizens from harm on the other.

Now we move on to answering the first question above. A good starting point in answering the first question is to discuss what it means to be an American. One standard that’s been around for 109 years comes from our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.

What it means to be an American

In 1907, one of our greatest presidents laid out what it means for immigrants of any origin to come to America and be an American. Nothing less than that will suffice. The standard set by Teddy Roosevelt was indeed high, as it should be.

Whether most groups of immigrants coming to America today are meeting this standard has yet to be determined. So what is this high standard set by President Theodore Roosevelt? In my estimation it is all about value judgments and that translates to where one’s sincere loyalty lies.

The Standard for Being an American

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American and nothing but an American … There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”                                                                                    Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

In one of the previous Republican debates Senator Rick Santorum made the statement that “not all Muslims are jihadist, but all jihadists are Muslim.” Because of the open-ended suspicion generated by that statement, fear of Muslims overseas and Muslims here at home is causing increased tension between the Muslim world and those of non-Muslim populations worldwide. At the same time on the Home front, Islamophobia is running rampant here in the United States. This is very similar to the reaction against Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbor. That, of course, led to the round-up and incarceration of Japanese American citizens in internment camps based on nothing more than race. Individuality, loyalty, or proven disloyal conduct were never part of the equation to incarcerate American citizens who were presumably as protected by the U.S. Constitution as any other citizen. History has showed that such hypocrisy subsequently brought shame and dishonor to the country that presumably ignored what Theodore had said about immigrants coming to this country. But these were not immigrants—they were American citizens.

Muslims in America

What is needed is a fresh factual look at the Muslim community, particularly a comprehensive review of their demographic characteristics, religious beliefs and practices, education and income levels, identity, assimilation and community, political and social values, attitudes toward foreign policy, terrorism and concerns about extremism.

First up is a summary from Pew Research’s 2007 study. Here are their findings: In a 2007 survey titled Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream, the Pew Research Center found Muslim Americans to be “largely integrated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.”

However, forty-seven percent of respondents said they considered themselves Muslims first and Americans second. However, this was compared to 81% of British Muslims and 69% of German Muslims, when asked the equivalent question. A similar disparity exists in income; the percentage of American Muslims living in poverty is 2% higher than the general population, compared to an 18% disparity for French Muslims and 29% difference for Spanish Muslims.

Interestingly, Pew Research in 2007 found that 42% of Christians see themselves as Christians first, and as Americans second. An additional 7% of Christians see themselves as both equally.

Politically, American Muslims were both pro-larger government and socially conservative. For example, 70% of respondents preferred a bigger government providing more services, while 61% stated that homosexuality should be discouraged by society. Despite their social conservatism, 71% of American Muslims expressed a preference for the Democratic Party. The Pew Research survey also showed that nearly three quarters of respondents believed that American society rewards them for hard work regardless of their religious background.

The same poll also reported that 40% of U.S. Muslims believe that Arab Muslims carried out the 9/11 attacks. Another 28% didn’t believe it, and 32% said they had no opinion. Among 28% who doubted that Arab Muslims were behind the conspiracy, one-fourth of that claim the U.S. government or President George W. Bush was responsible. Only 26% of American Muslims believe the U.S.-led war on terror is a sincere effort to root out international terrorism. Only 5% of those surveyed had a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” view of the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Only 35% of American Muslims stated that the decision for military action in Afghanistan was the right one and just 12% supported the use of military force in Iraq.

In 2011, a Gallop poll found that 93% of Muslim Americans considered themselves loyal to the United States.

The 2011 Pew Research Survey

Like Christians and non-Christians alike, religious and secular populations are very diverse. Between groups and within groups people are quite different. The Pew research below demonstrates such diversity among American Muslims. The following (It was written by Michael Lipka) is a precise and detailed summary of the Pew Research from 2011. Below are its major findings:

Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the World

By Michael Lipka

“Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries.

Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

Here are answers to some key questions about Muslims, compiled from several Pew Research Center reports published in recent years:

How many Muslims are there? Where do they live?

There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.

Although many countries in the Middle East-North Africa region where the religion originated in the seventh century are heavily Muslim, the region is home to only about 20% of the world’s Muslims. A majority of the Muslims globally (62%) live in the Asia-Pacific region, including large populations in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Turkey.

Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s single largest Muslim population. With more than 300 million Muslims, Indonesia is currently the country with the world’s single largest Muslim population, but Pew Research Center projects that India will have that distinction by the year 2050.

The Muslim population in Europe also is growing; it is projected that 10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050.

How many Muslims are there in the United States?

According to estimates, Muslims make up just less than 1% of the U.S. adult population. Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study (conducted in English and Spanish) found that 0.9% of U.S. adults identifies as Muslims. A 2011 survey of Muslim Americans, which was conducted in English as well as Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, estimated that there were 1.8 million Muslim adults (and 2.75 million Muslims of all ages) in the country. That survey also found that a majority of U.S. Muslims (63%) are immigrants.

Pew research estimates that Muslims will make up 2.1% of the U.S. population by the year 2050, surpassing people who identify as Jewish, on the basis of religion as the second-largest faith group in the country (not including people who say they have no religion).

A recent Pew Research Center report estimated that the Muslim share of immigrants granted permanent residency status (green cards) increased from about 5% in 1992 to roughly 10% in 2012, representing about 100,000 immigrants in that year.

Why is the global Muslim population growing?

There are two major factors behind the rapid projected growth of Islam, and both involve simple demographics. For one, Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups. Around the world, each Muslim woman has an average of 3.1 children, compared with 2.3 for all other groups combined.

Muslims are also the youngest (median age of 23 years old in 2010) of all major religious groups, seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims. As a result, a larger share of Muslims already is, or will soon be, at the point in their lives when they begin having children. This, combined with high fertility rates, will fuel Muslim population growth.

While it does not change the global population, migration is helping to increase the Muslim population in some regions, including North America and Europe.

What do Muslims around the world believe?

Like any religious group, the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims vary depending on many factors, including where in the world they live. But Muslims around the world are almost universally united by a belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad, and the practice of certain religious rituals such as fasting during Ramadan, is widespread.

In other areas, however, there is less unity. For instance, a Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in 39 countries asked Muslims whether they want sharia law, a legal code based on the Quran and other Islamic scripture, to be the official law of the land in their country. Responses on this question vary widely.

Nearly all Muslims in Afghanistan (99%) and most in Iraq (91%) and Pakistan (84%) support Sharia law as official law. But in some other countries, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – including Turkey (12%), Kazakhstan (10%) and Azerbaijan (8%) – relatively few favor the implementation of Sharia law.

How do Muslims feel about groups like ISIS?

Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably. In some countries, considerable portions of the population do not offer an opinion about ISIS, including a majority (62%) of Pakistanis.

Favorable views of ISIS are somewhat higher in Nigeria (14%) than most other nations. Among Nigerian Muslims, 20% say they see ISIS favorably (compared with 7% of Nigerian Christians). The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, which has been conducting a terrorist campaign in the country for years, has sworn allegiance to ISIS.

More generally, Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq.

In the United States, a 2011 survey found that 86% of Muslims say that such tactics are rarely or never justified. An additional 7% says suicide bombings are sometimes justified and 1% says they are often justified in these circumstances.

In a few countries, a quarter or more of Muslims say that these acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 40% in the Palestinian territories, 39% in Afghanistan, 29% in Egypt and 26% in Bangladesh.

In many cases, people in countries with large Muslim populations are as concerned as Western nations about the threat of Islamic extremism, and have become increasingly concerned in recent years. About two-thirds of people in Nigeria (68%) and Lebanon (67%) said earlier this year they are very concerned about Islamic extremism in their country, both up significantly since 2013.

What do American Muslims believe?

Our 2011 survey of Muslim Americans found that roughly half of U.S. Muslims (48%) say their own religious leaders have not done enough to speak out against Islamic extremists.

Living in a religiously pluralistic society, Muslim Americans are more likely than Muslims in many other nations to have many non-Muslim friends. Only about half (48%) of U.S. Muslims say all or most of their close friends are also Muslims, compared with a global median of 95% in the 39 countries we surveyed.

Roughly seven-in-ten U.S. Muslims (69%) say religion is very important in their lives. Virtually all (96%) say they believe in God, nearly two-thirds (65%) report praying at least daily and nearly half (47%) say they attend religious services at least weekly. By all of these traditional measures, Muslims in the U.S. are roughly as religious as U.S. Christians, although they are less religious than Muslims in many other nations.

When it comes to political and social views, Muslims are far more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party (70%) than the Republican Party (11%) and to say they prefer a bigger government providing more services (68%) over a smaller government providing fewer services (21%).

As of 2011, U.S. Muslims were somewhat split between those who said homosexuality should be accepted by society (39%) and those who said it should be discouraged (45%), although the group had grown considerably more accepting of homosexuality since a similar survey was conducted in 2007.

What is the difference between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims?

Sunnis and Shias are two subgroups of Islam, just as Catholics and Protestants are two subgroups within Christianity. The Sunni-Shia divide is nearly 1,400 years old, dating back to a dispute over the succession of leadership in the Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632. While the two groups agree on some core tenets of Islam, there are differences in belief or practices, and in some cases Sunnis do not consider Shias to be Muslims.

With the exception of a few countries, including Iran (which is majority Shia) as well as Iraq and Lebanon (which are split), most nations with a large number of Muslims have more Sunnis than Shias. In the U.S., 65% identify as Sunnis and 11% as Shias (with the rest identifying with neither group, including some who say they are “just a Muslim”).

How do Americans and Europeans perceive Muslims?

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2014 asked Americans to rate members of eight religious groups on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating. Overall, Americans rated Muslims rather coolly – an average of 40, which was comparable to the average rating they gave atheists (41). Americans view the six other religious groups mentioned in the survey (Jews, Catholics, evangelical Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons) more warmly.

Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party gave Muslims an average rating of 33, considerably cooler than Democrats’ rating toward Muslims (47).

Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to say they are very concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the world (83% vs. 53%) and in the U.S. (65% vs. 38%), according to a December 2015 survey. That survey also found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers (68% vs. 30% of Democrats) and that Muslims should be subject to more scrutiny than people of other religions (49% vs. 20%). Overall, most Americans (61%) say Muslims should not be subject to additional scrutiny solely because of their religion, while U.S. adults are closely divided on the question of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence. (Note: This paragraph was updated Dec. 17 to reflect a new survey.)

In spring 2015, we asked residents of some European countries a different question– whether they view Muslims favorably or unfavorably. Perceptions at that time varied across European nations, from a largely favorable view in France (76%) and the United Kingdom (72%) to a less favorable view in Italy (31%) and Poland (30%).

How do Muslims and Westerners perceive each other?

In a 2011 survey, majorities of respondents in a few Western European countries, including 62% in France and 61% in Germany, said that relations between Muslims and Westerners were bad, while about half of Americans (48%) agreed. Similarly, most Muslims in several Muslim-majority nations – including Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan – agreed that relations were bad, although fewer Muslims in Pakistan (45%) and Indonesia (41%) had this view.

The same survey also asked about characteristics the two groups may associate with one another. Across the seven Muslim-majority countries and territories surveyed, a median of 68% of Muslims said they view Westerners as selfish. Considerable shares also called Westerners other negative adjectives, including violent (median of 66%), greedy (64%) and immoral (61%), while fewer attributed positive characteristics like “respectful of women” (44%), honest (33%) and tolerant (31%) to Westerners.

Westerners’ views of Muslims were more mixed. A median of 50% across four Western European countries, the U.S. and Russia called Muslims violent and a median of 58% called them “fanatical,” but fewer used negative words like greedy, immoral or selfish. A median of just 22% of Westerners said Muslims are respectful of women, but far more said Muslims are honest (median of 51%) and generous (41%).

Do American Muslims meet the Standard for American Citizenship?

This actually is a complicated question. If one uses the standard set in 1907 by Theodore Roosevelt, then it’s very clear American Muslims do not meet the American standard for citizenship. Forty-seven percent of Muslims surveyed see themselves as a Muslim first before identifying themselves as an American. However, the Pew Research Center found that in 2011 that 93% of Muslims considered themselves loyal to the United States. It appears from the Pew data that the lion’s shares of American Muslims (approximately 93% if we extrapolate from a sample to the entire population of Muslims) is not a threat to the country, and are supportive of the United States.

The data also showed that Muslim Americans by and large are no friend of either al-Qaeda or ISIS. People who target Muslims in general are engaging in Islamophobia of the worst kind, actual discrimination. The picture that emerges from the Pew data is that, by and large, Muslim Americans are a diverse group within the religion of Islam and identify with being an American reasonably well considering acts of mistreatment by the general public. The most poignant findings of the 2011 Pew research data are as follows.

Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated into American society and they are largely content with their lives. More than six-in-ten do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society, and a similar number say that most Muslims coming to the U.S. today want to adopt an American way of life rather than remain distinctive from the larger society.

By overwhelming margins, Muslim Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in their own lives and rate their local communities as good places to live. And Muslim Americans are far more likely than the general public to express satisfaction with national conditions.

Assimilation and Identity

     A majority of Muslim Americans (56%) say that most Muslims coming to the U.S. today want to adopt American customs and ways of life. Far fewer (20%) say that most Muslims coming to the U.S. want to be distinct from the larger American society, with a similar number (16%) volunteering that Muslim immigrants want to do both. Native-born and foreign-born Muslims give similar answers to this question.

The U.S. public as a whole is less convinced that immigrant Muslims seek to assimilate. An April 2011 Pew research survey finds that just a third of American adults (33%) think that most Muslim immigrants want to adopt American ways, while about half (51%) think that Muslim immigrants mostly want to remain distinct from the larger culture.

National Identity

     When asked whether they think of themselves first as an American or first as a Muslim, about half of Muslims (49%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, compared with 26% who think of themselves first as American. Nearly one-in-five (18%) volunteer that they think of themselves as both Muslim and American.

A May survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds that 46% of Christians in the United States think of themselves first as a Christian, while the same percentage says they consider them first as an American.

Among both Muslims and Christians, people who say religion is very important in their lives are far more likely to view themselves primarily as a member of their religion.

     Among Muslims who say that religion is very important in their lives, 59% say they think of themselves first as Muslims. Among those for whom religion is less important, only 28% identify first as Muslim. Similarly, among Christians who place great personal importance on religion, 62% say they are Christians first, compared with 19% among those who view religion as less important.

Pew Global Attitudes Project surveys conducted this year found substantial differences in views of national identity across Muslim communities. Nearly all Pakistanis (94%) consider themselves first as Muslims rather than as Pakistanis. By contrast, just 28% of Muslims in Lebanon say they consider themselves Muslim first – far fewer than the number of U.S. Muslims expressing this view (49%).

Many Muslims report having friendship networks that extends beyond the Muslim community. About half of U.S. Muslims say that all (7%) or most (41%) of their close friends are Muslim; about as many say that some (36%), hardly any (14%) or none (1%) of their close friends are Muslim.

More women than men have a close circle of friends consisting mostly or entirely of other Muslims. And Muslim Americans who are highly committed to their religion are much more likely than those with medium or low commitment to say that all or most of their close friends are Muslims.

More than six-in-ten American Muslims (63%) see no conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society, twice the number who do see such a conflict (31%).

A 2006 Pew Research survey found a nearly identical pattern among American Christians who were asked about a possible conflict between modernity and their own faith. Nearly two-thirds of Christians (64%) said there is no conflict between being a devout Christian and living in a modern society, compared with 31% who did perceive a conflict.

Muslims of all ages express similar views on this question. Similarly, there are only small differences between native-born Muslims and immigrants, as well as between those who are personally religiously observant and those who are less religious.

There are, however, sizable differences between men and women in views on this question. More than seven-in-ten men (71%) say there is no conflict between Islam and modernity, but fewer women (54%) agree. The view that there is no conflict between Islam and modernity is also much more common among college graduates than among those with less education.

 

Final Comments

The Pew Research organization has provided a valuable service to everyone in terms of good social research. There was lots of interesting data on Muslims living abroad and those living here in the United States.

Nevertheless, I detected many unanswered questions from the data they presented from their 2011 study that should be looked into. Such questions relate to degree of assimilation, legal questions regarding religious belief from religious practice, and finally, prejudice and discrimination among Muslim Americans.

Questions about Assimilation

The first question is what percentage of Muslim Americans wants Sharia Law in the United States rather than following our legal system of a U.S. Constitution as well as state constitutions and all other federal, state and local laws and regulations?

Related to this is the question of whether Muslim Americans prefer sending their children to Muslim schools instead of integrating them into the general educational system in the United States? While those who follow Catholicism have church schools in the U.S., by and large, the children from these schools are nonetheless highly integrated into a secular society. To what extent is this true for the Muslim American child population?

Another unanswered question not asked in the Pew data relates to inter-faith marriages and marriage itself. What proportion of Muslim Americans marries non-Muslims? Are such marriages forbidden by Islamic law, culture, or the scriptures of Islam as well? It has been reported that anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 of the American Muslim population (2008 estimate) engage in polygamy. Women under Islamic law are forbidden to have multiple husbands, but men are permitted to have two, three or four wives.

Questions about Religious Belief versus Religious Practice    

Another area for questions has to do with general differences between religious belief and religious practice. In the future will a legal brief dealing with Sharia Law be brought before United States Supreme Court as a violation of separation of church from state? Since Sharia Law is an integral part of Islam’s scriptures, will there be a separation of religious belief from its practice?

For example, the Mormon practice of having more than one spouse did separate belief from practice. Today, neither in Utah nor elsewhere in the United States is bigamy or polygamy allowed under the law. Was religious practice separated from religious belief in this case? Another example is where religious cults engage in human sacrifice. There is no doubt that belief is separated from practice in that case. Anyone can believe whatever they want; however, once belief crosses the line into actual behavior, American Law has something to say about that. Human sacrifice is viewed as murder, and is prohibited under all U.S. law.

The acceptability of foreign law (religious or otherwise) in the United States has yet to be decided by the United States Supreme Court. To my knowledge the U.S. Congress has yet to act against Sharia Law. Less clear is why?  Sixteen states have already passed state laws to forbid Sharia Law or foreign law. The legal issue, whether Muslims can be allowed to impose Sharia Law within the United States, a law that violates provisions of the U.S. Constitution that are concerned with the separation of church and State, is one the high court needs to address.

Questions about Prejudice and Discrimination

Islamophobia is real and has caused many Muslim Americans to complain about it. But what isn’t known are the racial, ethnic and religious prejudices held by Muslim Americans.

No group in society is immune from this aspect of life. Sociologists back in the 1950s found that there was as much prejudice and discrimination caused by minorities as there was among majorities in U.S. society. Its character was sometimes different, such as minorities’ prejudice and discrimination against other members of minorities. As then as it is now—nobody wants to confront this type of social phenomena.

Given that Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East have never been fond of the citizens of Israel, would such attitudes be prevalent among Muslim Americans living in the United States? Are there attitudes among the Muslim population that promote anti-Semitism and discriminatory behavior against people of the Jewish faith, or directed against Jews living here or abroad?

What’s needed is a comprehensive sociological study of racial, ethnic and religious attitudes (prejudices and discrimination) by Muslim Americans.

As one can see, many questions remain unanswered.

In Part III, I will discuss Sharia Law in more detail, and discuss if there is a plot underway to replace American Law with Sharia Law.

The most troubling aspect of all is that Sharia Law, as a religious practice, is a 7th Century set of religious rules that are barbaric, discriminatory, homophobic, misogynist, and intolerant of all non-believers, as well as those from other religions.

Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan had the dream of world domination. World domination by any group in the past failed, and will fail in the future. Any group that intends, surreptitiously or otherwise, to dominate the United States and convert it to a non-democratic country will ultimately experience the wrath of the American people. Any real threats from abroad will also experience the wrath of the most awesome military power on the face of the earth. We will be all over such threats “like a fly on you know what.”

Our values here in the United States reject Sharia Law as it is a serious threat to all civil and human rights. It is an extremist set of religious laws that are currently practiced in many (but not all) Muslim countries around the world. Stay tuned for Part III.

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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part V

 

Understanding the Context of Religious Terrorism and Fanaticism

One of the greatest influences in my life as a young college student back in the 1960s was the written works of sociologist, longshoreman, philosopher and columnist—Eric Hoffer.

It is with the context of Eric Hoffer’s seminal 1951 book, The True Believer that I offer an explanation for groups as diverse as ISIS, The Ku Klux Klan, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, or other international, national or locally grown fanaticism groups.

Such diverse groups really have much in common as far as their psychology and sociology are concerned.

 

The True Believer

 

     The True Believer: Thoughts On the Nature of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by American writer Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.

The book analyzes and attempts to explain the motives of the various types of personalities that give rise to mass movements, why and how mass movements start, progress and end, and the similarities between them whether religious, political, radical or reactionary.

Hoffer argues that even when their stated goals or values differ, mass movements are interchangeable, that adherents will often flip from one movement to another, and that the motivations for mass movements are interchangeable. Thus, religious, nationalist and social movements, whether radical or reactionary, tend to attract the same type of followers, behave in the same way and use the same tactics and rhetorical tools. As examples, the book often refers to Communism, Fascism, National Socialism, Christianity, Protestantism, and Islam.

The first and best-known of Hoffer’s books, The True Believer has been published in 23 editions between 1951 and 2002.

 

Summary

 

Part 1. The Appeal of Mass Movements

Hoffer argues that mass movements begin with a widespread “desire for change” from discontented people who place their locus of control outside their power and who also have no confidence in existing culture or traditions.

Feeling their lives are “irredeemably spoiled” and believing there is no hope for advancement or satisfaction as an individual, true believers seek “self-renunciation.” Thus, such people are ripe to participate in a movement that offers the option of subsuming their individual lives in a larger collective.       Leaders are vital in the growth of a mass movement, as outlined below, but for the leader to find any success the seeds of the mass movement must already exist in people’s hearts.

While mass movements are usually some blend of nationalist, political and religious ideas Hoffer argues there are two important commonalities: “All mass movements are competitive” and perceive the supply of converts as zero-sum; and “all mass movements are interchangeable.”

As examples of the interchangeable nature of mass movements, Hoffer cites how almost 2000 years ago Saul, a fanatical opponent of Christianity, became Paul, a fanatical apologist and promoter of Christianity. Another example occurred in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s, when Communists and Fascists were ostensibly bitter enemies but in fact competed for the same type of angry, marginalized people; Nazis Adolf Hitler and Ernst Rohm, and Communist Karl Radek, all boasted of their prowess in converting their rivals.

Part 2. The Potential Converts

    

     The “New Poor” are the most likely source of converts for mass movements, for they recall their former wealth with resentment and blame others for their current misfortune. Examples include the mass evictions of relatively prosperous tenants during the English Civil War of the 1600s; or the middle- and working-classes in Germany who passionately supported Hitler in the 1930s after suffering years of economic hardship. In contrast, the “abjectly poor” on the verge of starvation make unlikely true believers as their daily struggle for existence takes preeminence over any other concern.

Racial and religious minorities, particularly those only partly assimilated into mainstream culture, are also found in mass movements. Those who live traditionalist lifestyles tend to be content, but the partially assimilated feel alienated from both their forbearers and the mainstream culture. (e.g., “The orthodox Jew is less frustrated than the emancipated Jew.”)

A variety of what Hoffer terms “misfits” are also found in mass movements. Examples include “chronically bored,” the physically disabled or perpetually ill, the talentless, and criminals or “sinners.” In all cases, Hoffer argues, these people feel as if their individual lives are meaningless and worthless.

Hoffer argues that the relatively low number of mass movements in America is attributable to a culture that blurred traditionally rigid boundaries between nationalist, racial and religious groups, and which allowed greater opportunities for individual accomplishment.

Part 3. United Action and Self-Sacrifice

In mass movements, an individual’s goals or opinions are unimportant. Rather, the mass movement’s “chief preoccupation is to foster, perfect and perpetuate a facility for united action and self-sacrifice.” To this end, mass movements have several means.

Mass movements demand a “total surrender of a distinct self.” One identifies first and foremost as “a member of a certain tribe or family,” be it religious, political, revolutionary, or nationalist.

Every important part of the true believer’s persona and life must ultimately come from his/her identification with the larger community; even when alone he/she must never feel isolated and unwatched.

Hoffer identifies this communal sensibility as the reappearance of a “primitive state of being” common among pre-modern cultures. Mass movements also use play-acting and spectacle designed to make the individual feel overwhelmed and awed by their membership in the tribe, as with the massive ceremonial parades and speeches of the Nazis.

While mass movements idealize the past and glorify the future, the present-day world is denigrated.  “The radical and the reactionary loath the present.” Thus, by regarding the modern world as vile and worthless, mass movements inspire a perpetual battle against the present.

Mass movements aggressively promote the use of Doctrines that elevate faith over reason [sound familiar] and serve as “fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world.”

The Doctrine of the mass movement must not be questioned under any circumstances. Examples include the Japanese holdouts who refused to believe that WWII was over, or the staunch defenders of the Soviet Union who rejected overwhelming evidence of Bolshevik atrocities.

To spread and re-enforce their doctrine, mass movements use persuasion, coercion, and proselytization. Persuasion is preferable, but practical only with those already sympathetic to the mass movement. Moreover, persuasion must be thrilling enough to excite the listener yet vague enough to allow “the frustrated to […] hear the echo of their own musings in the impassioned double talk.” And, as Hoffer quotes Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, “a sharp sword must always stand behind propaganda if it is to be really effective.”

 The urge to proselytize comes not from a deeply held belief in the truth of Doctrine but from an urge of the fanatic to “strengthen his own faith by converting others.”

Successful mass movements need not believe in a god, but they must believe in a devil. Hatred unifies the true believers, and “the ideal devil is a foreigner” attributed with nearly supernatural powers of evil. For example, Hitler described Jews as foreign interlopers and, moreover an ephemeral Jewishness alleged to taint the German soul was as vehemently condemned as were flesh-and-blood Jews.

The hatred of a true believer is actually a disguised self-loathing, as with the condemnation of capitalism by socialists while Russia under the Bolsheviks saw more intensive monopolization of the economy than any other nation in history. Without a devil to hate, mass movements often falter (e.g., Chiang Kai-shek effectively led millions of Chinese during the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and ’40s, but quickly fell out of favor once the Japanese were defeated).

Fanaticism is encouraged in mass movements. Hoffer argues that “the fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure” and thus uses uncompromising action and personal sacrifice to give meaning to his life.

Part 4. Beginning and End

Hoffer identifies three main personality types as the leaders of mass movements, “men of words, “fanatics”, and “practical men of action.” No person falls exclusively into one category, and their predominant quality may shift over time.

Mass movements begin with “men of words” or “fault-finding intellectuals” such as clergy, journalists, academics, and students who condemn the established social order (e.g., Gandhi, Trotsky, Mohammad, and Lenin). These men of words feel unjustly excluded from, or mocked and oppressed by, the existing powers in society, and relentlessly criticize or denigrate present-day institutions.

While invariably speaking out in the name of disadvantaged commoners, the man of words is actually motivated by a deep personal grievance. The man of words relentlessly attempts to “discredit the prevailing creeds” and creates a “hunger for faith” which is then fed by “doctrines and slogans of the new faith.” A cadre of devotees gradually develops around the man of words, leading to the next stage in a mass movement.

Eventually, the fanatic takes over leadership of the mass movement from the man of words. While the “creative man of words” finds satisfaction in his literature, philosophy or art, the “noncreative man of words” feels unrecognized or stifled, and thus veers into extremism against the social order.

Though both the man of words and the fanatic share a discontent with the world, the fanatic is distinguished by his viciousness and urges to destroy. The fanatic feels fulfilled only in a perpetual struggle for power and change. Examples include Jean-Paul Marat, Maximillian de Robespierre, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.

The book also explores the behavior of mass movements once they become established as social institutions (or leave the “active phase”). With their collapse of a communal framework, people can no longer defeat their abiding feelings of insecurity and uncertainty by belonging to a compact whole.

If the isolated individual lacks opportunities for personal advancement, development of talents, and action (such as those found on a frontier), he will seek substitutes. These substitutes would be pride instead of self-confidence, memberships in a collective whole like a mass movement, absolute certainty instead of understanding.

The “practical men of action” take over leadership from the fanatics, marking the end of the “dynamic phase” and steering the mass movement away from the fanatic’s self-destructiveness. “Hitler, who had a clear vision of the whole course of a movement even while he was nursing his infant National Socialism, warned that a movement retains its vigor only so long as it can offer nothing in the present […]

The movement at this stage still concerns itself with the frustrated–not to harness their discontent in a deadly struggle with the present, but to reconcile them with it, to make them patient and meek.”

The focus shifts from immediate demands for revolution to establishing the mass movement as a social institution where the ambitious can find influence and fame. Leadership uses an eclectic bricolage of ideological scraps to reinforce the Doctrine, borrowing from whatever source is successful in holding the attention of true believers.

For example, proto-Christians were fanatics, predicting the end of the world, condemning idolatry, demanding celibacy and sowing discontent between family members; yet from these roots grew Roman Catholicism which mimicked the elaborate bureaucratic structure of the Roman Empire, canonized early Christians as saints, and borrowed pagan holidays and rites. In the absence of a practical man of action, the mass movement often withers and dies with the fanatic (e.g., Nazism died as a viable mass movement with Hitler’s death).

Mass movements that succeed in causing radical change often, but not always, exceed in brutality the former regime that the mass movement opposed. The Bolsheviks in Russia and the Jacobins in France ostensibly formed in reaction to the oppression of their respective monarchies but proved themselves far more vicious and brutal in oppressing their opponents.

Hoffer does not take an exclusively negative view of “true believers” and the mass movements they originate. He gives examples of how the same forces that give rise to True Believer mass movements can be channeled in more positive ways.

“There are, of course, rare leaders such as Lincoln, Gandhi, even F.D.R., Churchill, and Nehru. They do not hesitate to harness man’s hungers and fears to weld a following and make it zealous unto death in service of a holy cause; but unlike a Hitler, a Stalin, or even a Luther and a Calvin, they are not tempted to use the slime of frustrated souls as mortar in the building of a new world …. They know that no one can be honorable unless he honors mankind.”

— p.147

Hoffer argues that the length of the “active phase” of a mass movement — the most energetic phase when fanatics are in control — can be predicted with some accuracy. Mass movements with a specific goal tend to be shorter-lived and feature less terror and bloodshed (e.g., the American Revolution). In contrast, an amorphous goal tends to result in a longer active phase of decades rather than months or years and also include substantially more bloodshed (e.g., the Bolsheviks in Russia, National Socialism in Germany).

In either case, Hoffer suggests that mass movements are accompanied by a dearth of creative innovation because so much energy is devoted to the mass movement. For example, in England John Milton began a draft of his epic poem Paradise Lost in the 1640s before turning his literary talents to pamphleteering for the Commonwealth of England, only to finish the poem and his other major works after a change in government in 1660.

Reception

     U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower read The True Believer in 1952, gave copies to friends, and recommended it to others. In 1956, Look Magazine ran an article calling Hoffer “Ike’s Favorite Author.”

Allen Scarborough chose The True Believer as one of 25 books that “you need to read to know just about everything.”

     The True Believer earned renewed attention after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and, also after the Tea Party Protests and Occupy Wall Street protests a decade later.

 

Bibliography

 

The True Believer Quotes

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

Preview — The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

“It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”
“People with a sense of fulfillment think it is a good world and would like to conserve it as it is, while the frustrated favor radical change.”
“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”
“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”
“There is no doubt that in exchanging a self-centered for a selfless life we gain enormously in self-esteem. The vanity of the selfless, even those who practice utmost humility, is boundless.”
“The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.”
“The enemy—the indispensable devil of every mass movement—is omnipresent. He plots both outside and inside the ranks of the faithful. It is his voice that speaks through the mouth of the dissenter, and the deviationists are his stooges. If anything goes wrong within the movement, it is his doing. It is the sacred duty of the true believer to be suspicious. He must be constantly on the lookout for saboteurs, spies and traitors.”
“Propaganda … serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our propaganda.”
“A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action.”
“Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience… The desire to escape or camouflage their unsatisfactory selves develops in the frustrated a facility for pretending — for making a show — and also a readiness to identify themselves wholly with an imposing spectacle.”
“The conservatism of a religion – its orthodoxy – is the inert coagulum of a once highly reactive sap.”
“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.”
“The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others.”
“Jesus was not a Christian, nor was Marx a Marxist.”
Final Comments

     The purpose of this five part series has been to describe the characteristics of religious fanaticism in the world today. It is clear that there are definite behavioral characteristics of individuals who choose to start, or be part of, radical or extreme groups. Eric Hoffer has definitely captured in his Theory of Mass Movements the psychological appeal such movements have.

     The sociological side to religious fanaticism or global movements reflects the facts that, particularly in the Muslim world, three strikes against them give rise to extremism—low literacy rates, low educational levels, and high unemployment.

     There needs to be a renaissance in learning throughout the Muslim world if they are ever going to escape their vulnerability to extremist mass movements and the appeal of radical Jihadists.

     Ever since the Ottoman Empire down-played the importance of education and learning for their people, millions upon millions of Muslims over the millennial have suffered the consequences.    

 

 

 

 

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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part IV

 

In Part IV statistics concerning education, literacy rates, and employment among Muslims are presented and compared to other groups.

Education and Literacy Rates

 

Worldwide Historical View

     Note that the breakup of the Ottoman Turkish Empire resulted in about 40 new countries, including 22 Arab states.

     The Ottomans had their virtues, but they were no friends to public education, independent news media and the printed word. Ottoman culture favored the oral tradition, expressed in gorgeous poetry and music, and integrated the revered calligraphy of the Koran into every possible visual art form, from painting and ceramics to architecture and metalwork.

But literacy languished, particularly among Muslim Arab populations. According to historian Donald Quataert, general Muslim literacy rates were only 2 to 3 percent in the early nineteenth century, and perhaps 15 percent at its end. The vast majority of Muslim women remained illiterate well into the twentieth century. Prior to 1840, an average of only eleven books a year was published in the imperial capital of Istanbul.

     Books and printed matter in Turkish and Arabic were unknown before the end of the 18th century, and even then they were of limited impact because of widespread illiteracy.

Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition established a Hebrew printing press about 1494. Armenians had a press in 1567, and Greeks had a press in 1627. These presses were not allowed to print in Turkish or in Arabic characters, owing to objections of the religious authorities. One result of this delay was to give Greeks, Armenians and Jews an advantage in literacy, and therefore an advantage in commerce, and in having a means to preserve and propagate their culture that was denied to Turks and Arabs. The major result was to retard the development of modern literate society, commerce and industry.

The first Turkish printing press in the Ottoman Empire was not established until 1729. It was closed in 1742 and reopened in 1784. The press operated under heavy censorship throughout most of the Ottoman era. Elections were unknown of course, though government decisions were usually reached by consultation of the government, provincial chiefs and religious authorities.

     The whole Arab world translates about three hundred books annually–one fifth the number that Greece alone translates; investment in research and development is less than one seventh the world average; and Internet connectivity is worse than in sub-Saharan Africa.

August 2002

Fifty-seven Muslim majority countries have an average of ten universities each for a total of less than 600 universities for 1.4 billion people; India has 8,407 universities, the U.S. has 5,758.      Of the 1.4 billion Muslims 800 million are illiterate (6 out of 10 Muslims cannot read). In Christendom, adult literacy rate stands at 78 percent.

November 2005

Large numbers of children in African and Arab countries are still shut out of classrooms, with primary school participation at below 60% in 17 OIC countries. More than half the adult population is illiterate in some countries, and the proportion is as high as 70% among women. Four out of 10 children in the African sub-region are out of school, as are a quarter of children in Arab member states. Only 26 out of 57 OIC members are on course to achieve the primary education gender equality targets for 2005.

November 2005

The 57-member countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) have around 500 universities, compared with more than 5,000 universities in the US and more than 8,000 in India. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an “Academic Ranking of World Universities,” and none of the universities from Muslim-majority states was included in the top 500.

May 2007

The 2002 United Nations Arab Development Report compiled by leading Arab scholars and intellectuals, reported that fewer than 350 books were translated into Arabic every year, less than one-fifth the number translated into Greek. The 2003 report added that the 10,000 books translated into Spanish every year exceeded those translated into Arabic— over the entire millennium.

2008

With an average adult literacy rate of 71.7% in 2010, OIC countries as a group lagged well behind the world average of 80.1% and also the other developing countries’ average of 82.5%.

2013

 

Arab World

Nearly half of all women in the Arab world are illiterate.

Nearly one in three people in the Arab world is illiterate, including nearly half of all women in the region, the Tunis-based Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization (Alecso) said Monday.

Three-quarters of the 100 million people unable to read or write in the 21 Arab countries are aged between 15 and 45 years old, Alecso said in a statement.

Equally alarming, some 46.5% of women in the region are illiterate, the organisation reported, urging governments to put the fight against illiteracy at the top of their agendas.

January 2008

 

Denmark

Two thirds of all immigrant school children with Arabic backgrounds are illiterate after 10 years in the Danish school system:

Those who speak Arabic with their parents have an extreme tendency to lack reading abilities – 64 percent are illiterate. … No matter if it concerns reading abilities, mathematics or science, the pattern is the same: The bilingual (largely Muslim) immigrants’ skills are exceedingly poor compared to their Danish classmates.

May 2007

 

India

There has been a growing concern about the lack of educational qualifications of Muslims in India. While so far statistical information was lacking, the Census of India 2001 for the first time gives detailed educational data across religious groups.

Made available to INDIA TODAY exclusively, the findings are disheartening. The facts irrefutably demonstrate that, on an average, Muslim men and women are far less educationally accomplished than their non-Muslim counterparts, and this is so across almost every state in India. .      In 2001, only 55 percent of India’s 71 million Muslim males were literate, compared to 64.5 percent for the country’s 461 million non-Muslim men. Less than 41 percent of the country’s 67 million Muslim females were literate, versus 46 per cent of India’s 430 million non-Muslim women.

In proportional terms, the all-India Muslim male literacy rate was 15 per cent lower than that of non-Muslim males; this percentage difference increased to 17 percent in urban India.

     Far more serious was the percentage difference in literacy rates between Muslim females and their non-Muslim sisters; an 11 per cent disadvantage at the all-India level increased to over 19 per cent in urban India.

At the basic level of being ‘literate, ‘ Muslim women were proportionately 11 percent worse off than non-Muslims. The difference widened to 19 percent for those educated up to middle school; to 35 percent for those who studied up to Class X; to 45 percent for those who learned up to Class XII; and to 63 percent for those who were graduates and above.

August 2006

Muslims, India’s largest religious minority, are “lagging behind” on most things that matter.
Educational disparities were among the most striking. Among Muslims, Shariff said, the literacy rate is about 59 percent, compared with more than 65 percent among Indians as a whole. On average, a Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, against a national average of four years.

     Less than 4 percent of Muslims graduate from school, compared with 6 percent of the total population. Less than 2 percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology are Muslim. Equally revealing, only 4 percent of Muslim children attend madrasas (colleges for Islamic Instruction), Shariff said.

November 2006

The first is the high drop­out rate among Mus­lim students. It is below even SC/ST students, who are generally considered the most educationally backward communities.

Six percent of girl students are forced to stop their education as parents think that there is no need for them to be educated.

The transition rate of Muslim students from class VII to VIII is very low compared to other communities.

September 2013

 

Indonesia

The global standing of Indonesia’s universities has dropped according to the latest world rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds. The University of Indonesia, remains No. 1 in the country, but is only ranked 273rd globally.
United States and British universities dominated the top 20 in this year’s list, while ETH Zurich was the only university from a non-English speaking country that landed in top 20.

     The University of Hong Kong came in as the best performing university in Asia, securing 23rd place, followed by the National University of Singapore at 25th. The Australian National University was also among best performers in the region, finishing in 24th place.

The University of Indonesia was the only Indonesian institution in the top 300, but fell from 217th from last year to 273rd.

September 2012

Nigeria

 

     Illiteracy among Nigerian women of child-bearing age is three times as high among Muslims (71.9%) as among others (23.9%). Two-thirds of Nigerian Muslim women lack any formal education; that goes for just over a tenth of their non-Muslim sisters.

January 2011

 

Pakistan

Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel while addressing the inaugural ceremony showed his concern over the literacy rate in Pakistan which he said is amongst the lowest in the world. The actual literacy rate in Pakistan is hovering around 30% while this rate is around 15% in the tribal areas and the female literacy rate in tribal areas is around 5%.

December 2011

Fata comprises some of the least developed areas of the country, according to official figures, with the literacy rate for women standing at barely three per cent.

January 2012

    

   Pakistan ranks second in the global ranking of countries with the highest number of out-of-school children with the figure estimated to be about 25 million. Seven million have yet to receive some form of primary schooling. As many as 9,800 schools were reportedly affected in Sindh and Baluchistan due to floods. Around 600,000 children of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are reported to have missed one or more years of education due to ongoing militancy.      Pakistan has the lowest youth literacy rate. Only 59 percent females are literate as compared to 79 percent of males in the age group of 15 to 24 years. There are around 51.2 million adult illiterates in Pakistan. Only 65 percent schools have drinking water facilities, 62 percent have toilet facilities, 61 percent have a boundary wall and only 39 percent have electricity.

September 2012

Saudi Arabia

     In Saudi Arabia, the lack of books is accompanied by the struggle to modernize basic educational institutions. In his new book, Prophets and Princes, Mark Weston points out that Saudi Arabia did not have a high school until after 1930, and its first girls’ school was established after 1950.

     The Saudis have only 250 public libraries to serve a population of 26 million people, and there were no hours for female readers until 2006. The Saudis spend many millions of dollars translating and publishing the Quran into other languages, without devoting similar efforts to making foreign books available in Arabic.

2008

Tajikistan

The deputy chairman of Tajikistan’s State Committee for Religious Affairs said Friday the country has more mosques than schools.

Mavlon Mukhtorov said official figures show there are 3,425 regular mosques, 344 cathedral mosques, and 40 central cathedral mosques.

Mukhtorov said on February 16 his ministry issued permits for 45 new mosques to be built in different parts of the country.

Tajikistan’s Education Ministry reports there are 3,793 schools, most of them overcrowded, and in many cases one classroom has up to 40 students.

February 2012

 

Turkey

Pollster Adil Gür of A&G polling company interviewed 3,252 women in 42 provinces across Turkey on the subject of gender-based violence, ntvmsnbc.com reported.
Ten out of every 100 women in Turkey over the age of 18 are illiterate. Approximately 30 percent of women surveyed graduated from high school, and only 9 percent have a college degree. Twenty out of every 100 women over the age of 44 are illiterate.

March 2012

Moroğlu [the head of the Turkish Association of University Women (TÜKD)] stated that only 2 percent of women have access to a university education, which is far below EU standards. She further stated that every two out of 10 women are still illiterate in Turkey.

November 2012

 

United Kingdom

     People of working age with no qualifications: by religion, 2004, GB

In 2004 a third (33 per cent) of Muslims of working age in Great Britain had no qualifications – the highest proportion for any religious group. They were also the least likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications (12 per cent).

Percentage of 16 to 30 year olds with a degree: by religion and country of birth, 2004, GB

 

Thirty percent of pupils of Pakistani origin gained 5 or more GCSE grades A-C in 2000, compared with 50 per cent of the total population      One in three Muslims has no qualifications, the highest for an ethnic group in Britain. They also have the lowest proportion of degrees or other higher qualifications.

July 2006

A large part of this, of course, reflects the lack of educational qualifications among the first generation of migrants. However,  Dale  etal. (2002) suggest that Muslim groups, such as Pakistani and Bangladeshis are most likely to have to retake exams to gain qualifications.
There appears to be an Asian polarization with pupils of Indian origin doing very well and pupils of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin performing poorly in comparison to other minority groups while at the same time doing better than their socio-economic position would suggest. Figures for 2006 show that Bangladeshi and Pakistani pupils perform below the national average at Key Stages 1 and 2, and at GCSE attainment including English and mathematics. For example, at Key Stage 1 Reading, 77 per cent of Pakistani pupils and 78 per cent of Bangladeshi pupils achieved the expected level compared to 84 per cent nationally… Pakistani pupils’ relative attainment at GCSE and equivalent is six percentage points below the national figure, 50.9 per cent compared with 56.9 per cent, rising to nine per cent when English and mathematics are included.

2007

 

United States

According to a Gallup Institute study involving 300,000 people, American Muslims for the most part have lower incomes, less education, and fewer jobs than the population as a whole.

March 2009

 

Yemen

A shocking 65% of married Yemeni women aged between 15 and 24 are illiterate.

According to the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by Ministry of Public Health and Population in September 2006, illiteracy among mothers the health ministry’s survey shows, that on average 35 percent of married Yemeni women aged between 15 and 24 are literate, with 59 percent of married women in urban areas, and 26 percent of married women in rural areas being able to read and write.

November 2008

Employment

 

Worldwide

Unemployment remained one of the most serious problems facing the OIC countries. According to the latest available data during the period 2007-2011, the average unemployment rates in the OIC countries were significantly higher than the world average and the averages of the developed and other developing countries. During this period, total unemployment rate in OIC countries increased from a level of 9.4% in 2007 to 9.9% in 2011.

November 2013

 

Middle East

The Middle East is the region with the highest rate of unemployment in the world, confirmed the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which reports that unemployment in the region is 10.3% compared to 6.2% on average globally.

The situation presented in “Global Employment Trends 2011” is even more dramatic when looking at the young segment of the population up to the age of 25, where the unemployment rate is estimated to be 40%. The data published by the UN agency raised a further alarm for a region that has already been observing popular insurrection and protests with cries for “more bread, more work” in recent weeks.

January 2011

Around three quarters of Arab youth want to migrate to countries out of their region due to rising unemployment in Arab states, an Arab League official said.

“Due to their poor participation in society and politics and to rising joblessness, 70 percent of the Arab youth want to migrate out of the region,” Khalid Al Wahishi, director of Population Policy and Immigration at Arab League, said.

“We at Arab League have been warning member states at all our meetings to empower the youth. Unemployment, alarmingly high at 26 per cent, poor participation of youth and illiteracy are major hindrances to population policy development and implementation,” Al Wahishi told delegates at a gathering of population experts from member-countries in Qatar.

November 2011

 

Australia

Unemployment rate in Queensland:

Muslims – 10.9% Non-Muslims – 4.7%

Research shows the unemployment rate of Australian Muslim women is over three times higher than Australian-born females from English speaking populations.

2006

 

Denmark

In Denmark, Muslims make up 5% of the population but receive 40% of social-welfare outlays. Their preachers have told them, Mr. Bawer reports, that only a fool would not take maximum advantage of the bounty that Western Europe offers.

February 2006

 

     Ninety percent of applicants for economic help to celebrate Christmas [in North Als] are Muslims.

November 2012

 

Germany

Foreign nationals are consistently overrepresented in unemployment figures. Turkish nationals are in the worst situation; they have an unemployment rate of 23 percent and comprise up to one third of all unemployed foreigners.

2007

Talina (11), Svenja (11) and Jason (9) do not understand a word spoken on the playground. Their classmates speak only Turkish or Arabic. In class, the three of them explain German words to their classmates.      They are the last German children at their school, The Jens Nydahl elementary school on Kohlfurter street (Kreuzberg). Ninety Nine percent of the 313 students are from an immigration background. The parents of 285 of them are financially supported by the state. One of the many school problems Bild reported on.

September 2011

India

In the famed national bureaucracy, the Indian Administrative Service, Muslims made up only 2 percent of officers in 2006. Among district judges in 15 states surveyed, 2.7 percent were Muslim.
The gaps in employment are likely to be among the most politically explosive. Muslims appear to be overrepresented among day laborers and street vendors and underrepresented in the public sector. Muslims secured about 15 percent of government jobs, considerably less than the share filled by “backward” castes and dalits, who were considered “untouchables” in the Hindu caste system.

November 2006

The survey [by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Centre] revealed that 47 per cent of Indian Muslims said it was difficult to survive on their incomes, compared with 39 per cent of Hindus.
More than 9,500 Indians, including 1,197 Muslims, were interviewed face-to-face last year and this year for the poll.

December 2011

Among religious groups, Sikhs have lowest poverty ratio in rural areas at 11.9 per cent, whereas in urban areas, Christians have the lowest proportion of poor at 12.9 per cent. Poverty ratio is the highest for Muslims, at 33.9 per cent, in urban areas.

March 2012

 

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the youth unemployment rate in 2009 was over 30%. Other areas that need to be assisted with large investments, according to ILO analysts, include SMEs and the private sector.

January 2011

A study conducted by Booz and Co. for global management and strategy consultation, showed that 78.3% of female university graduates in Saudi Arabia , as well as over 1,000 Ph.D. holders, are unemployed.

According to the report, thousands of women graduate from Saudi universities each year who fail to find a job due to their area of specialization which were described as “routine” and “theoretical.” Women’s studies, the report added, are very nearly restricted to education and health.

The study explained that since 1992, female participation in the job market in Saudi has increased by three fold as it leaped from 5.4% to 14.4%. The number, however, remains the lowest in the Gulf region, according to Saudi newspaper al-Sharq.

June 2012

Spain

 

     Forty-two percent of Moroccan immigrants are jobless, but remain in Spain. Note that 99% of Moroccans are Muslim.

They are staying on in Spain whether they have jobs or not. Immigrants from Morocco, the largest foreign group resident in Spain, are also the one most affected by unemployment.

Of the more than one million unemployed persons of foreign origins registered as living is Spain at the end of 2009, around 350,000 are of Moroccan nationality. This is 42.4% of the community of 775,054 immigrants from Morocco with residence permits. These figures come from the 4th survey of immigration and the job market, which has been issued by the Ministry of Labour and Immigration and is quoted in today’s edition of the daily ABC.

August 2010

Turkey

According to a government study in Turkey, some 23.4 percent of women have been forced by men to quit their jobs or have been prevented from working; in the lower-income category, this figure is 21.5 percent while it is 21.2 percent for those with higher incomes.

February 2011

United Kingdom

     Muslim men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi background are disproportionately unemployed relative to other Asians, according to a Cabinet Office report commissioned by Tony Blair. Even after allowances for education and residential area, Pakistani Muslims are three times more likely to be jobless than Hindus; Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed than Indian Hindus.      Downing Street commissioned the study from the Performance and Innovation Unit, whose brief was to come up with ways of improving the economic performance of ethnic minorities.

     Hindus are four times less likely to be unemployed than Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims.

February 2002

In 2004 the unemployment rate among economically active Muslim men (13 per cent) was twice the rate of Sikh (7 per cent) or Hindu (5 per cent) men.      Muslim women have the highest rates of economic inactivity. In 2004 almost seven in ten (69 per cent) Muslim women of working age were economically inactive, a rate twice that of Hindu (31 per cent) and Sikh (36 per cent) women.

2004

Thirty-five percent of all Muslim children are growing up in a household where no adult is in employment, compared with 17.6% of all dependent children.

September 2004

Unemployment rates: by religion and sex, 2003-2004, GB

Unemployment rates for Muslims are higher than those for people from any other religion, for both men and women.

In 2004, Muslims had the highest male unemployment rate in Great Britain, at 13 per cent. This was about three times the rate for Christian men (4 per cent). Unemployment rates for men in the other religious groups were between 3 and 8 per cent.

The unemployment rate for Muslim women at 18 per cent was about four times the rate for Christian and Jewish women (4 per cent in each case). Unemployment rates for women in the other religious groups were between 6 per cent and 9 per cent.

Unemployment rates were highest among those aged under 25 years for all religious groups. Muslims aged 16 to 24 years had the highest unemployment rates. They were over twice as likely as Christians of the same age to be unemployed – 28 per cent compared with 11 per cent.

Economic inactivity rates of working age people: by religion and sex, 2003-2004, GB

Men and women of working age from the Muslim faith are also more likely than other groups in Great Britain to be economically inactive, that is, not available for work and/or not actively seeking work.

October 2004

  • 28 percent of Muslims live in socially rented housing as opposed to 20 percent for the general population. . . .
  • The unemployment rate for Muslims is 15 percent which is approximately three times higher than Christians and Hindus.
  • The unemployment rate for Muslims aged 16-24 is 17.5 percent as opposed to 7.9 percent for Christians and 7.4 percent for Hindus.

December 2005

 

     2/10 Pakistani or Bangladeshi women are active in the job market, compared to 7/10 black Caribbean and white women.

£150 a week is the average amount that Pakistani and Bangladeshi men earn less than white men.
     Thirty-one percent of working age male Muslims were economically inactive, the highest level in the country, in 2004.

July 2006

Muslims are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than the national average (16.4 per cent, compared to 7.7 per cent).

Worryingly, unemployment is especially high among young Muslims under the age of 30 (23 per cent), which is again higher than the UK average for young people (17 per cent).

The jobless rate for the least educated young Muslims – those with no qualifications – is even higher, approaching 40 per cent.

February 2010

Unemployment among ethnic minorities costs the economy almost £8.6 billion a year in benefits and lost revenue from taxes. Half of Muslim men and three quarters of Muslim women are unemployed.

October 2010

While there is some variation in employment rates among different religious groups, the most significant gap is for Muslim people who have the lowest rates of employment in the UK.
Fifty-one percent of second generation British Muslim women (those born in Britain) are inactive in the labor market, compared to only 17% of second generation- Hindu women. Of second generation British Muslim women, 13% are unemployed, compared to 4% of second generation Hindu and Sikh women, and 3% of Christian women.      Muslims are also more likely to experience periods outside education, employment or training, than Christians or those of no religion. Young Muslims are more likely to be NEET by age 19-21 than Christian young people, or those of no religion (28% compared to an average of 23%). This worsens with age: by age 22-24 Muslims are among those most likely to be NEET (42%).
Fourteen percent of Muslim women were employed full-time, 10% were employed part-time and 2% were self-employed. Moreover, 42% were categorized as ‘inactive, looking after the family, home.’ This compares to 10% of Christian women and 16% of Hindu women.

October 2010

Because such Islamic multiple-marriages are not recognized in Britain, the women are regarded by the welfare system as single mothers — and are therefore entitled to the full range of lone-parent payments.

As a result, several ‘families’ fathered by the same Pakistani man, can all claim benefits as they are provided for by the welfare state, which treats them as if they are not related.

Figures are hard to obtain, but it’s thought there may be around 1,000 polygamous families living in the UK, costing taxpayers millions of pounds every year.

September 2011

United States

     According to a Gallup Institute study involving 300,000 people, American Muslims for the most part have lower incomes, less education and fewer jobs than the population as a whole.

 

Final Comments

Unfortunately, Muslims are at the very bottom of the social ladder in terms of three very important social variables: education, literacy rates, and employment. Hundreds of years ago the de-emphasis on education and learning in the Ottoman Empire created the conditions for future failure in the Muslim/Arab world to elevate itself above poverty and ignorance. In this author’s opinion, the Muslim culture has been ripe, in terms of vulnerability, for the rise of radical Islam and groups like ISIS or al-Qaeda.

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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part III

 

What is Jihad?

The Arabic word “jihad” is often translated as “holy war,” but in a purely linguistic sense, the word “jihadmeans struggling or striving. The Arabic word for war is: “al-harb.” In a religious sense, as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, “jihad” has many meanings.

In the Muslim world as well the non-Muslim world, human behavior can, and often is, based on a mixture of motives. In turn, different motives can and do lead to differences of opinion that account for differences in value judgments about a particular set of religious scriptures.

Scriptures and their meanings in the Holy Bible have also produced a plethora of differing groups espousing different interpretations of what the bible means. If there was unanimity of opinion in Christianity, there wouldn’t be so many divisions (Catholics and the multiple factions found among Protestants). It should not be surprising then that Judaism also has four major factions from the most conservative to the most progressive, including those who are ethnically Jewish but non-religious atheists.

Today, with all the violence, the religious ideology and concept of Jihad is foremost in the spotlight of worldwide attention. Consequently, what follows is a presentation of assessment of opinion as to what Jihad “really” means and also how the Quran and its followers are viewed under the microscope of world opinion.  First up to bat are the moderates.

 

The Voice of Moderation

Top 10 Myths about Islam

By Huda

Islam Expert

Huda is a Muslim educator and writer with over two decades of experience researching and writing about Islam on the Internet. An American woman of European descent, she has been a Muslim for 25 years.

Experience

Huda is an educator, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of The Everything Understanding Islam Book, originally published in 2003, with a 2nd Edition in 2009. She currently teaches elementary school in the Middle East.

“Islam is a widely-misunderstood religion. Those who are unfamiliar with the faith often have misunderstandings about its teachings and practices. Common misconceptions include that Muslims worship a moon-god, that Islam is oppressive against women, or that Islam is a faith that promotes violence. Here we bust these myths and expose the true teachings of Islam.”

1.  Muslims worship a moon-god

“Some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Allah is an “Arab god,” a “moon god,” or some sort of idol. Allah is the proper name of the One True God, in the Arabic language. The most fundamental belief that a Muslim has is that “There is only One God,” the Creator, the Sustainer — known in the Arabic language and by Muslims as Allah. Arabic-speaking Christians use the same word for the Almighty.”

2.  Muslims don’t believe in Jesus

“In the Qur’an, stories about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (called ‘Isa in Arabic) are abundant. The Qur’an recalls his miraculous birth, his teachings, and the miracles he performed by God’s permission. There is even a chapter of the Qur’an named after his mother, Mary (Miriam in Arabic). However, Muslims believe that Jesus was a fully human prophet and not in any way divine himself.”

3.  Most Muslims are Arabs

“While Islam is often associated with Arabs, they make up only 15% of the world’s Muslim population. The country with the largest population of Muslims is Indonesia. Muslims make up 1/5 of the world’s population, with large numbers found in Asia (69%), Africa (27%), Europe (3%) and other parts of the world.”

4.  Islam oppresses women

“Most of the ill-treatment that women receive in the Muslim world is based on local culture and traditions, without any basis in the faith of Islam. In fact, practices such as forced marriage, spousal abuse, and restricted movement directly contradict Islamic law governing family behavior and personal freedom.”

5.  Muslims are violent, terrorist extremists

“Terrorism cannot be justified under any valid interpretation of the Islamic faith. The entire Qur’an, taken as a complete text, gives a message of hope, faith, and peace to a faith community of one billion people. The overwhelming message is that peace is to be found through faith in God, and justice among fellow human beings. Muslim leaders and scholars do speak out against terrorism in all its forms, and offer explanations of misinterpreted or twisted teachings.”

6.  Islam is intolerant of other faiths

“Throughout the Qur’an, Muslims are reminded that they are not the only ones who worship God. Jews and Christians are called “People of the Book,” meaning people who have received previous revelations from the One Almighty God that we all worship. The Qur’an also commands Muslims to protect from harm not only mosques, but also monasteries, synagogues, and churches — because “God is worshipped therein.”

7.  Islam promotes “jihad” to spread Islam by the sword and kill all unbelievers

“The word Jihad stems from an Arabic word which means “to strive.” Other related words include “effort,” “labor,” and “fatigue.” Essentially Jihad is an effort to practice religion in the face of oppression and persecution. The effort may come in fighting the evil in your own heart, or in standing up to a dictator. Military effort is included as an option, but as a last resort and not “to spread Islam by the sword.”

8.  The Quran was written by Muhammad and copied from Christian and Jewish sources

“The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of two decades, calling people to worship One Almighty God and to live their lives according to this faith. The Qur’an contains stories of Biblical prophets, because these prophets also preached the message of God. Stories are not merely copied, but the oral traditions are referred to in a way that focuses on the examples and teachings that we can learn from them.”

9.  Islamic prayer is just a ritualized performance with no heartfelt meaning

“Prayer is a time to stand before God and express faith, give thanks for blessings, and seek guidance and forgiveness. During Islamic prayer, one is modest, submissive and respectful to God. By bowing and prostrating ourselves to the ground, we express our utmost humility before the Almighty.”

10.  The crescent moon is a universal symbol of Islam

“The early Muslim community did not really have a symbol. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, Islamic caravans and armies flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes. The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years, and wasn’t affiliated with Islam at all until the Ottoman Empire placed it on their flag.”

Muslim Scholars to ISIS: You Have Misinterpreted Islam

By Amelia Rosch—Posted on (September 25, 2014)

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Following President Obama’s declaration at the United Nations yesterday  “the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace.” Over 120 international Muslim scholars released a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). Within the letter, they call ISIS un-Islamic and argue that the group is incorrectly using scripture to support its cause.

The letter said that the group’s claim to a caliphate is illegitimate, arguing that their “attitude is based upon a corrupt circular logic that says: ‘Only we are Muslims, and we decide who the caliph is, we have chosen one and so whoever does not accept our caliph is not a Muslim.’”  The scholars argue in the letter that it “is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims” and that ISIS is “a group of no more than several thousand [that] has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion and a half Muslims.” The scholars also say that ISIS’s claims to jihad are also illegitimate, arguing that they “have killed many innocents who were neither combatants nor armed, just because they disagree with your opinion. There is no such thing as offensive, aggressive jihad just because people have different religions or opinions.”

In the letter which has been released online in both Arabic and English, the scholars outline 24 practices that ISIS has been carrying out that the authors say are forbidden by Islamic scripture, including denying women and children their rights, torturing people and killing “emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats” including aid workers and journalists.

The scholars quote from Islamic scriptures which promise rights to both women and children and lay out the way that ISIS has broken those promises, saying “you treat women like detainees and prisoners…” and by torturing and executing children who “are so young they are not even morally accountable.” The scholars say that ISIS’s practice of enslaving women also breaks a century-long Islamic prohibition on slavery. They argue that mass killings and decapitation, both of which ISIS have been documented doing, are both forbidden under Shari’ah, Islamic law. They also say that journalists are “emissaries of truth” and aid workers “emissaries of mercy and kindness” and that killing them goes against the rule saying not to kill emissaries.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said that the letter purposefully used the “heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” in order to offer a point-by-point argument to the group’s claims. He said that the goal of the letter was to reach out to the Muslim community, not a Western audience.

The letters’ authors included leading Islamic scholars, including several of whom are Egyptian, members of the United Arab Emirates, and Nigeria’s fatwa councils, and the muftis from Egypt and Jerusalem.

The group of scholars joins many other Muslims speaking out against the Islamic State. Last week, German Muslims held a national day of prayer to “make clear terrorists and criminals do not speak in the name of Islam…and that murderers and criminals have no place in our ranks, in our religion,” according to the head of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek. In England, British Muslims have been using the hashtag #NotInMyName to call out ISIS and distance Islam from the group.

In addition to Obama, other world leaders have made a distinction between Islam and ISIS; in a speech last week, David Cameron said that members of ISIS “are not Muslims, they are monsters,” while France’s foreign minister said that “they are not representative of Muslims.”

The Voice of Criticism

In this segment of Part III I will report on material opposed to Islam and whose criticisms will resonate with many in Cyber-land. These criticisms pertain not to just ISIS inspired violence, but also to the very foundation of Islam itself—the very scriptures found in the Quran.

Due to space limitations in Blog writing, I’ve limited the material to the first five statements found at the site. I recommend interested individuals go to their site and read other evaluative statements. The site can be found at TheReligionofPeace.com Home Page.

     The previous section presented the opinions of moderates; this section looks at the criticisms. It is up to the reader to decide where the truth lies.  

The Myths of Islam

“Muslims often complain of popular ‘misconceptions’ about their religion in the West.

We took a hard look, however, and found that the most prevalent myths of Islam are the ones held by Muslims and Western apologists.  The only glaring exception to this is the misconception that all Muslims are alike (they aren’t, of course), but even Muslims often believe this as well, as evidenced by the various contrary factions insisting that they are the  true Muslims, while those who disagree with them are either infidels, hijackers, or hypocrites.

Don’t be fooled!  Hear the myths, but know the truth.”

Islam Means ‘Peace’

Islam respects Women as Equals

Jihad Means ‘Inner Struggle’

Islam is a Religion of Peace

Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions

 

 

[Islam Means Peace]

The Myth:

Lesser educated Muslims sometimes claim that the root word of Islam is “al-Salaam,” which is “peace” in Arabic.

The Truth:

An Arabic word only has one root.  The root word for Islam is “al-Silm,” which means “submission” or “surrender.”  There is no disagreement about this among Islamic scholars. al-Silm  (submission) does not mean the same thing as al-Salaam (peace), otherwise they would be the same word.

Submission and peace can be very different concepts, even if a form of peace is often brought about through forcing others into submission.  As the modern-day Islamic scholar, Ibrahim Sulaiman puts it, “Jihad is not inhumane, despite its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law.”

In truth, the Quran not only calls Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state of submission to Islamic rule.  This has inspired the aggressive history of Islam and its success in conquering other cultures.

[Islam Respects Women as Equals]

The Myth:

The Quran places men and women on equal foundation before Allah. Each person is judged according to his or her own deeds. Women have equal rights under Islamic law.

The Truth:

Merely stating that individuals will be judged as such by Allah does not mean that they have equal rights and roles, or that they are judged by the same standards.

There is no ambiguity in the Quran, the life of Muhammad, or Islamic law as to the inferiority of women to men despite the efforts of modern-day apologists to salvage Western-style feminism from scraps and fragments of verses that have historically held no such progressive interpretation.

After military conquests, Muhammad would dole out captured women as war prizes to his men.  In at least one case, he advocated that they be raped in front of their husbands.  Captured women were made into sex slaves by the very men who killed their husbands and brothers.  There are four Quranic verses in which “Allah” makes clear that a Muslim master has full sexual access to his female slaves, yet there is not one that prohibits rape.

The Quran gives Muslim men permission to beat their wives for disobedience, but nowhere does it command love in marriage.  It plainly says that husbands are “a degree above” wives.  The Hadith says that women are intellectually inferior, and that they comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.

Under Islamic law, a man may divorce his wife at his choosing.  If he does this twice, then wishes to remarry her, she must first have sex with another man.  Men are exempt from such degradations.

Muslim women are not free to marry whom they please, as are Muslim men.  Their husband may also bring other wives (and slaves) into the marriage bed.  And she must be sexually available to him at any time (as a field ready to be “tilled,” according to the holy book of Islam).

Muslim women do not inherit property in equal portion to males.  This is somewhat ironic given that Islam owes its existence to the wealth of Muhammad’s first wife, which would not otherwise have been inherited by her given that she had two brothers and her first husband had three sons.

A woman’s testimony in court is considered to be worth only half that of a man’s, according to the Quran.  Unlike a man, she must also cover her head – and often her face.

If a woman wants to prove that she was raped, then there must be four male witnesses to corroborate her account.  Otherwise she can be jailed or stoned to death for confessing to “adultery.”

Given all of this, it is quite a stretch to say that men and women have “equality under Islam” based on obscure theological analogies or comparisons.  This is an entirely new ploy that is designed for modern tastes, and disagrees sharply with the reality of Islamic law and history.

[Jihad Means ‘Inner struggle’]

The Myth:

Islam’s Western apologists sometimes claim that since the Arabic word, Jihad, literally means “fight” or “struggle,” it refers to an “inner struggle” rather than holy war.

The Truth:

In Arabic, “jihad” means struggle.  In Islam, it means holy war.

The Quran specifically exempts the disabled and elderly from Jihad (4:95), which would make no sense if the word is being used merely within the context of spiritual struggle.  It is also unclear why Muhammad and his Quran would use graphic language, such as smiting fingers and heads from the hands and necks of unbelievers if he were speaking merely of character development.

With this in mind, Muslim apologists generally admit that there are two meanings to the word, but insist that “inner struggle” is the “greater Jihad,” whereas “holy war” is the “lesser.”  In fact, this misconception is based only on a single hadith that Islamic scholars generally agreed was fabricated.

By contrast, the most reliable of all Hadith collections is that of Bukhari.  Jihad is mentioned over 200 times in reference to the words of Muhammad and each one carries a clear connotation to holy war, with only a handful of possible exceptions (dealing with a woman’s supporting role during a time of holy war).

[Islam is a Religion of Peace]

The Myth:

Muhammad was a peaceful man who taught his followers to be the same.  Muslims lived peacefully for centuries, fighting only in self-defense, and only when it was necessary.  True Muslims would never act aggressively.

The Truth:

There shouldn’t be any argument over who the “true Muslim” is because the Quran clearly distinguishes the true Muslim from the pretender in Sura 9 and elsewhere.  According to this – one of the last chapters of the Quran – the true believer “strives and fights with their wealth and persons” while the hypocrites are those who “sit at home,” refusing to join the jihad against unbelievers in foreign lands.

In truth, Muhammad organized 65 military campaigns in the last ten years of his life and personally led 27 of them.  The more power that he attained, the smaller the excuse needed to go to battle, until finally he began attacking tribes merely because they were not yet part of his growing empire.

After Muhammad’s death, his successor immediately went to war with former allied tribes which wanted to go their own way.  Abu Bakr called them ‘apostates’ and slaughtered anyone who did not want to remain Muslim.  Eventually, he was successful in holding the empire together through blood and violence.

The prophet of Islam’s most faithful followers and even his own family soon turned on each other as well.  There were four caliphs (leaders) in the first twenty-five years, each of which was a trusted companion of his.  Three of these four were murdered.  The third caliph was murdered by those allied with the son of the first caliph.  The fourth caliph was murdered in the midst of a conflict with the fifth caliph, who began a 100-year dynasty of excess and debauchery that was brought to an end in a gruesome, widespread bloodbath by descendants of Muhammad’s uncle (who was not even a Muslim).

Muhammad’s own daughter, Fatima, and his son-in-law, Ali, who both survived the pagan hardship during the Meccan years safe and sound, did not survive Islam after the death of Muhammad.  Fatima died of stress from persecution within three months, and Ali was later assassinated by Muslim rivals.  Their son (Muhammad’s grandson) was killed in battle with the faction that became today’s Sunnis.  His people became Shias.  The relatives and personal friends of Muhammad were mixed into both warring groups, which then fractured further into hostile sub-divisions as Islam expanded.

Muslim apologists, who like to say that is impossible for today’s terrorists to be Muslim when they kill fellow Muslims, would have a very tough time explaining the war between Fatima’s followers and Aisha to a knowledgeable audience.  Muhammad explicitly held up both his favorite daughter and his favorite wife as model Muslim women, yet they were invoked respectively by each side in the violent civil war that followed his death.  Which one was the prophet of God so horribly wrong about?

Muhammad left his men with instructions to take the battle against Christians, Persians, Jews and polytheists (which came to include millions of unfortunate Hindus).  For the next four centuries, Muslim armies’ steamrolled over unsuspecting neighbors, plundering them of loot and slaves, and forcing the survivors to either convert or pay tribute at the point of a sword.

Companions of Muhammad lived to see Islam declare war on every major religion in the world in just the first few decades following his death – pressing the Jihad against Hindus, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists.

By the time of the Crusades (when the Europeans began fighting back), Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world by sword, from Syria to Spain, and across North Africa.  Millions of Christians were enslaved by Muslims, and tens of millions of Africans.  The Arab slave-trading routes would stay open for 1300 years until pressure from Christian-based countries forced Islamic nations to declare the practice illegal (in theory).  To this day, the Muslim world has never apologized for the victims of Jihad and slavery.

There is not another religion in the world that consistently produces terrorism in the name of God as does Islam.  The most dangerous Muslims are nearly always those who interpret the Quran most transparently.  They are the fundamentalists or purists of the faith, and believe in Muhammad’s mandate to spread Islamic rule by the sword, putting to death those who will not submit.  In the absence of true infidels, they will even turn on each other.

The holy texts of Islam are saturated with verses of violence and hatred toward those outside the faith, as well as the aforementioned “hypocrites” (Muslims who don’t act like Muslims).  In sharp contrast to the Bible, which generally moves from relatively violent episodes to far more peaceful mandates, the Quran travels the exact opposite path (violence is first forbidden, then permitted, then mandatory).

The handfuls of earlier verses that speak of tolerance are overwhelmed by an avalanche of later ones that carry a much different message.  While Old Testament verses of blood and guts are generally bound by historical context within the text itself, Quranic imperatives to violence usually appear open-ended and subject to personal interpretation.

From the history of the faith to its most sacred writings, those who want to believe in “peaceful Islam” have a lot more to ignore than do the terrorists.  By any objective measure, the “Religion of Peace” has been the harshest, bloodiest religion the world has ever known.  In Islam there is no peace unless Muslims have power – and even then…

[Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions]

The Myth:

Religious minorities have flourished under Islam.  Muslims are commanded to protect Jews and Christians (the People of the Book) and do them no harm. The Quran says in Sura 109, “To you, your religion.  To me, mine.”

The Truth:

Religious minorities have not “flourished” under Islam.  In fact, they have dwindled to mere shadows after centuries of persecution and discrimination.  Some were converted from their native religion by brute force, others under the agonizing strain of dhimmitude.

What Muslims call “tolerance,” others correctly identify as institutionalized discrimination.  The consignment of Jews and Christians to dhimmis under Islamic rule means that they are not allowed the same religious rights and freedoms as Muslims.  They cannot share their faith, for example, or build houses of worship without permission.

Historically, dhimmis have often had to wear distinguishing clothing or cut their hair in a particular manner that indicates their position of inferiority and humiliation.  They do not share the same legal rights as Muslims, and must even pay a poll tax (the jizya).  They are to be killed or have their children taken from them if they cannot satisfy the tax collector’s requirements.

For hundreds of years, the Christian population in occupied Europe had their sons taken away and forcibly converted into Muslim warriors (known as Janissaries) by the Ottoman Turks.

It is under this burden of discrimination and third-class status that so many religious minorities converted to Islam over the centuries.  Those who didn’t often faced economic and social hardships that persist to this day and are appalling by Western standards of true religious tolerance and pluralism.

For those who are not “the People of the Book,” such as Hindus and atheists, there is very little tolerance to be found once Islam establishes political superiority.  The Quran tells Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah” until “religion is only for Allah.”  The conquered populations face death if they do not establish regular prayer and charity in the Islamic tradition (i.e. the pillars of Islam).

Tamerlane and other Muslim warriors slaughtered tens of millions of Hindus and Buddhists, and displaced or forcibly converted millions more over the last thousand years.  Islamists in Somalia behead Christians.  In Iran, they are jailed.

One of the great ironies of Islam is that non-Muslims are to be treated according to the very standards by which Muslims themselves would claim the right to violent self-defense was the shoe on the other foot.  Islam is its own justification.  Most Muslims therefore feel no need to explain the ingrained arrogance and double standard.

     There are about 500 verses in the Quran that speak of Allah’s hatred for non-Muslims and the punishment that he has prepared for their unbelief.  There is also a tiny handful that says otherwise, but these are mostly earlier verses that many scholars consider to be abrogated by the later, more violent ones. 

As for Sura 109, any true Quran scholar will point out that the purpose of the verse was to distinguish Islam from the gods of the Quraysh (one of which was named “Allah”) rather than to advocate religious tolerance for non-Muslims.

At the time that he narrated this very early verse, Muhammad did not have any power, and thus no choice but to be “tolerant” of others.  By contrast, there was no true tolerance shown when he returned to Mecca with power many years later and demanded the eviction or death of anyone who would not convert to Islam.  In fact, he physically destroyed the cherished idols of the people to whom he had previously addressed in Sura 109.

If tolerance simply means discouraging the mass slaughter of those of a different faith, then today’s Islam generally meets this standard more often than not.  But, if tolerance means allowing people of other faiths the same religious liberties that Muslims enjoy, then Islam is fundamentally the most intolerant religion under the sun.

Now you have the information, opinion and debate. It’s up to my cyberspace audience to decide for themselves. 

In Part IV ahead  I will provide statistics on three variables I think provides a solid background as to why Islam and Islamic people are very susceptible to religious fanaticism. These variables are: education in the Islamic world, literacy rates, and unemployment.

These variables, in addition to the insightful work of Eric Hoffer in Part V, I believe forms the best explanation to date as to why what has happened in the middle east has produced a growing menace of Islamic Terrorism that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Terrorism is a major threat to the rest of the civilized world including the United States.

 

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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part II

Michael A. Sheehan stated in 2000, “A number of terrorist groups have portrayed their causes in religious and cultural terms. This is often a transparent tactic designed to conceal political goals, generate popular support and silence opposition.”

Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)

Conflict in Iraq and Syria has seen ISIS seize vast territory. Charting the group’s rise, Peter Welby says that future dangers lie in the appeal to Islamists worldwide of their claims to a caliphate.

The resounding successes of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the summer of 2014 were shocking. Cities fell to ISIS forces a fraction of the size of their defenders; soldiers were ordered to abandon their posts; and those soldiers who were captured were massacred. Buoyed by its advance, the group declared a caliphate, a move that has split the jihadi world despite long being the aspiration of such organizations.

Reeling from its string of defeats, it took until March 2015 for Iraqi forces to start their counter-attack in earnest. But unprecedented as these advances were in scale, they fit into a pattern that the group has set since its foundation.

ISIS can trace its roots back to 2002, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – a Jordanian who was to gain notoriety in the Iraqi insurgency from 2003-6 – founded a jihadi organization called Tawhid wal-Jihad in the north of Iraq. Zarqawi had been linked with al-Qaeda while in Afghanistan in the late ’90s, but was not a member of the group and disagreed with the tactic of focusing on the ‘far enemy’ (the West) as opposed to the ‘near enemy’ (rulers in the Islamic world).

Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi’s organization grew more active and affiliated itself to al-Qaeda in 2004, becoming al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Despite the tactical differences, this made a useful alliance of convenience: Zarqawi’s organisation gained the recruiting and resourcing benefits of being part of a global and credible jihadi organisation, while al-Qaeda gained an affiliate in Iraq, already by that stage the global center of jihad.

Zarqawi’s AQI was an influential actor in Iraq’s descent into chaos between 2003 and 2007. It had an explicit policy of stoking sectarian violence with the aim of rallying the Sunni community around Sunni jihadi groups, a tactic that ISIS is replicating now. This gained criticism from al-Qaeda’s leaders, who felt that the indiscriminate and brutal violence risked alienating their supporters. However, it continued to support Zarqawi in public until he was killed in an airstrike in 2006.

In late 2006 AQI joined with eight other Islamist insurgent groups to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), without permission from the al-Qaeda leadership. The name chosen for this new group indicated its ambitions: it was more than a mere jihadi group, but an embryonic caliphate, governed by Islamic law, to which all Muslims within its territory owed allegiance.

As the US surge took hold in 2007 and the so-called ‘Anbar Awakening’ or sahwa – the cooptation of Sunni tribes in Anbar province in the fight against the insurgency – diminished the group’s support base, the notion of the Islamic State’s ‘territory’ was a tenuous one. Successive ISI leaders were killed in airstrikes, and the group’s capacity to launch attacks was severely diminished. But the accession in 2010 of its current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, coincided with a change in the external pressures the group faced. The USA withdrew its forces in 2011 and the promised integration of the Anbar militias into the armed forces was abandoned, removing a significant counter to insurgent activity. Absent American restraint, Prime Minister Maliki gave vent to his more sectarian impulses, creating grievances that the Islamic State was quick to exploit. Moreover, the start of the Syrian civil war created a fertile new cause and battlefield for the group’s recruitment, and molded it into the military force it has become.

The Syrian war also facilitated the Islamic State’s final break with al-Qaeda. Since 2006, the group’s relationship with al-Qaeda had been ambiguous, possibly deliberately so: the mutual benefits that had first prompted Zarqawi to affiliate to the organization remained.

In 2011 Baghdadi created a Syrian subsidiary, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), under Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, in order to gain a toehold in the war. In 2013, with JN showing unwelcome signs of independence, he announced their reabsorption into the expanded Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – ‘al-Sham’ being the Arabic name for Greater Syria, with connotations of earlier caliphates. However, Jolani appealed to al-Qaeda’s central command, which ruled in his favor, ordering Baghdadi to confine his group to Iraq.

The alliance between al-Qaeda and ISIS was no longer convenient. ISIS could now claim a history and a support base that established its credibility, and al-Qaeda’s central leadership was weak. An ISIS spokesman declared that al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was sinful, and Jolani nothing less than a traitor. Shortly afterwards, Zawahiri announced that ISIS had nothing to do with al-Qaeda.

In subsequent fighting in Syria, much of it with other rebels including JN and other jihadi groups, ISIS has gained and held significant amounts of territory. It captured the city of Raqqa from other rebels in early 2014, using it since as a base to launch attacks in Syria and Iraq. In Iraq, the group exploited botched Iraqi military operations in Fallujah in January 2014 to gain control of the city. Control of sparsely populated transport corridors allowed them to advance rapidly in the kind of surprise attacks that delivered them Mosul, among other cities, in June of the same year.

However, 2015 has brought setbacks for the group, with Kurdish forces comprising mainly the Popular Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and the Peshmerga in Iraq, emerging as key opponents. A hard-fought four month battle for the city of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, culminated in victory for the YPG in January 2015 – though ISIS has maintained a presence nearby. In Iraq, the Peshmerga were able to dislodge ISIS from key areas around Mount Sinjar in December 2014. Furthermore, Iraqi security forces, aided by Shia militias supported by Iran, in March 2015 launched the first major government offensive against ISIS since June 2014, in Tikrit.

Regardless of these defeats, ISIS’ development since 2013 changed the nature of the group. It is no longer a mere terrorist group, but an army that can hold and administer territory. It governs according to harshly interpreted principles of Islamic law, including the imposition of dhimmi pacts on minorities – guaranteeing protection in exchange for the payment of a tax and the acceptance of second-class citizenship. Minorities, including Shia Muslims, have been subject to severe human rights abuses, including massacres and forced conversion, and the persecution of minorities in northern Iraq has been particularly brutal.

ISIS has also provoked shock and condemnation worldwide for its brutal execution of foreign journalists and humanitarian aid workers, as well as captured combatants from opposing forces. While the quality of its governance is questionable – a 2006 paper produced by the group stated that improving the quality of the people’s religion was more important than improving the quality of their lives – it can broadly coerce the consent of the people it governs.

Meanwhile, a further danger lies in the group’s appeal beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria. While other jihadi groups, both in these countries and elsewhere, seek to establish an Islamic caliphate, ISIS claims to be one. Baghdadi has declared himself “Caliph Ibrahim,” and goes by the title “Commander of the Faithful.” In the language of his speeches and in his titles, he lays claim to a form of authority from the earliest days of Islam. This combined with the supposedly just cause of the fight against Assad in Syria has proved to be a powerful draw to young Islamists across the world, spread by means of an adept use of social media, and slickly presented propaganda such as the monthly magazine Dabiq. Some of these recruits will eventually return to their homes, taking with them their experiences as members of the most brutal jihadi group in the conflict.

The danger is not limited to individuals attracted to ISIS’ flag. In November, Baghdadi demanded that all Islamist and jihadi movements across the world be dissolved or absorbed into his ‘caliphate’. Many groups have taken up the call. While some were previously unknown, others, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in Egypt have long been prominent actors in their own countries’ conflicts.

In September 2014, an international coalition led by the US began a military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, supported by more than a dozen European and Arab states. Extensive airstrikes have supported the operations of Kurdish and Iraqi ground forces in making strategic gains.

A focus on ISIS should not underestimate the unpredictable nature of this conflict: sudden changes in fortune have been a hallmark of the Syrian civil war, and in Iraq the concerted action of Shia militias and the military – not to mention Iranian interests – may yet turn the tide. Moreover, as the development of ISIS shows, jihadi groups can fracture suddenly and dramatically.

However, ISIS is bolstered by state-of-the-art equipment seized from Iraqi bases and resources from oil fields in its territory; it’s also reported that ISIS has extensive assets. The Iraqi army also melted before them in June 2014. Because of these factors ISIS will not be defeated without a hard fight.

The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050

Why Muslims Are Rising Fastest and the Unaffiliated Are Shrinking as a Share of the World’s Population

The religious profile of the world is rapidly changing, driven primarily by differences in fertility rates and the size of youth populations among the world’s major religions, as well as by people switching faiths. Over the next four decades, Christians will remain the largest religious group, but Islam will grow faster than any other major religion. If current trends continue, by 2050:

  • The number of Muslims will nearly equal the number of Christians around the world.
  • Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion – though increasing in countries such as the United States and France – will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.
  • The global Buddhist population will be about the same size it was in 2010, while the Hindu and Jewish populations will be larger than they are today.
  • In Europe, Muslims will make up 10% of the overall population.
  • India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.
  • In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.
  • Four out of every ten Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

These are among the global religious trends highlighted in new demographic projections by the Pew Research Center. The projections take into account the current size and geographic distribution of the world’s major religions, age differences, fertility and mortality rates, international migration and patterns in conversion.

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