At the beginning of 2009 The Times of London revealed that Britain was preparing to receive an unknown number of Guantánamo Bay detainees so that president Obama would be able to permanently close the detention center down. The gross short sightedness of Obama's decision was illustrated in recent days, when it was revealed that the CIA has informed the new president that the most likely source of attack on the US would be Britain, or, more particularly, British-born Pakistani extremists.
Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer has told The Sunday Telegraph that, "The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda's best mechanism for launching an attack against North America." A British intelligence source also told the newspaper that, "[…] a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain."
Former Guananamo Bay inmates sent to Britain will become a part of Islamist propaganda. At the very minimum, they will be elevated to symbols – or rather living proof – of defeating the "great Satan." The Left – including elements of the press – will also use this to bolster their cases against the now discredited "war on terror," which is, in large part, a "war of ideas." But, we should also acknowledge that Britain and Europe has long provided, and will continue to provide concrete evidence for supposedly necessary changes to US law, culture, etc., and in this regard Obama's decision is doubly unwise.
I was struck recently by former chair of CAIR-CAN, Sheema Khan's argument in the January 28, 2009, edition of the popular Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, that despite a 2005 Ontaria high court ruling banning religious arbitration altogether, sharia law should be given legal standing. Khan used Britain's sharia courts as an argument for the recognition of sharia in Canada, suggesting – erroneously – that:
"Since these [Britain's sharia] 'courts' are outside the legal system, there is no accountability, review or transparency of the judgments […]"
"The British situation illustrates that if sharia is driven underground, quasi-courts will proliferate in response to demand, without the necessary checks and balances. [...] Making Islamic arbitration illegal will not make it vanish. Without proper oversight of informal sharia courts, we risk ending up with the mess in Britain."
But, sharia courts in Britain had been reclassified as tribunals in 2008, thus attaining legal recognition in that country, and making headlines around the world. Khan doesn't mention this.
But the problem is not limited to the accuracy – or otherwise – of reporting, or to comments in the press. Islamism is a global phenomenon, and as such, it is one that thinks globally, while adapting national culture. Organizations, spokesmen, and preachers located in the Middle East, that would be regarded by the average Westerner as extremist, are, in many cases, able to present their message to the West. Extremist ideas, including anti-Semitism, are being repackaged in moderate language. Piggybacking on the Left, Islamists are adept at using Western arguments and ideas in its service. Most especially, this means acceptance of radical Islam and sharia law on the basis of "multiculturalism," being a "modern" country, "justice," and "democracy," while shouting down criticism of the same as "racist" or "fascist."
Today, as I write this, for example, Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of Muslim youth organization the Ramadhan Foundation, has commented the Dutch MP and anti-Islamist, "Mr [Geert] Wilders and his fascist views are not welcomed to our country where we pride ourselves as a multi-faith society." Khan, in the Globe and Mail article cited above, asserts, perplexingly, that "With the raucous, sometimes racist, nature of the Ontario controversy, many Muslims were forced to focus on sharia as a component of identity, resulting in a plurality wishing to abide by Islamic principles in matters of family law." And in one of the most egregious examples, a manual published by a New York based Islamic publishers (reproduced on the DG Counter-Terrorism blog) is titled What Should You do if You are Arrested or Framed by the Racist, Fascist, Criminal Police? Or the Racist, Fascist, Criminal FBI?
Director of the Mapping Sharia Project and the Owner of DG Counter-terrorism Publishing Dave Gaubatz has also spoken recently of Islamists waging war on America through violence and propaganda, or the "pen" and the "tongue." "The gravest danger to America," Gaubatz believes, "is the use of the 'pen' and 'tongue' by Jihadists and their supporters." Though he believes this to be a widespread phenomenon, Gaubatz suggests that "The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), are prime examples of using the Jihadist method of the pen and tongue. Both utilize the television, internet, and develop source networks with important political and law enforcement officials."
Similarly, Michael Whine has said in Current Trends in Islamist Ideology (vol. 2) [pdf] that the – supposedly moderate – Muslim Association of Britain is in effect the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK. And, again, Zeyno Baran has observed [pdf] the extensive inroads that the Muslim Brotherhood has made into the US. He notes, for example, that the founder members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) were one-time members of the Muslim brotherhood. And, of ISNA, he says for example that, "Their Salafi background is clear, as is their connection to other Muslim Brotherhood related organizations created inside the U.S."
Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of ISNA was one of the first people to criticize president Bush's use of the terms "Islamofascism" and "Islamic fascism." Mattson suggested "terrorism, crime, violence" be used instead. But, Mattson's is not so generous when it comes to those who oppose Islam. In her statement 'Respecting the Koran', Mattson condemns Geert Wilders, for his anti-Islamification film Fitna, along with other "self-proclaimed nationalists – really, racists." (Mattison, by the way, is a Canadian (Caucasian) convert to Islam.)
But Mattson's views are already mainstream in Europe. Last year the British government drew up a phrasebook for use by the authorities when dealing with Islamism. Phrases such as "Islamic terrorist" and "jihadi fundamentalism" were proscribed. "Violent extremism," "thugs," etc., are now required to be used instead.
I was struck by another parallel, between Mattson's speech and the main opposition Conservative Party's own, little-known, Conservative Muslim Forum (CFM) recently. In the last few days, however, Britain's Home Department has banned Dutch politician and anti-Islamist, Geert Wilders, from entering the country, claiming that his presence would pose a serious threat to security. Only a couple of days previously British MP, Lord Nazir Ahmed, threatened to amass 10,000 Muslims to protest against Wilders. Nevertheless, statements made by Muslim MP Lord Ahmed and Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of Muslim youth organization the Ramadhan Foundation, in reference to the banning of Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering Britain, also present the same argument or position. Thus, in its statement on the conflict in Gaza in January 2009, the CFM said that it was:
[…] deeply concerned that Israel's action is already damaging community relations in the UK and may provoke people to take extreme actions whose repercussions can last for years. The British Government and all political parties need to recognise that Israel's onslaught risks poisoning community relations not only in the Middle East but also here.
Likewise, Lord Ahmed has remarked in regard to Wilders:
If this man [Wilders] was allowed into this country it would certainly cause problems within communities around Britain.
Mohammed Shafiq has commented,
[…] his [Wilders] presence in the UK may lead to community tensions.
Lastly, Mattson had remarked in 2006, in regard to the Bush administration's use of the phrase "Islamic fascism," that:
If our major concern is security, security of this country, this is a term [Islamic fascism] that has very bad resonance in the Muslim majority world and makes us feel uncomfortable here.
The CFM appears to suggest that if the British government does not adjust its foreign policy to suit (particular) Muslims, then violence might result. Likewise, Mattson appears to imply that if the US government continued to use "Islamic fascism" or "Islamo-fascism" to describe al-Qaeda and the related Jihadist movement, the US would be at greater risk of being attacked by Muslim extremists. The comments regarding Wilders appear to imply that violence might result if Geert Wilders were allowed to visit Britain.
The British and other European governments have strengthened hate speech laws to protect Muslims from feeling insulted since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, hoping that this would help quell the rise of extremism in their respective countries. But, instead, it has facilitated the rise of extremism, by threatening those who not only have a legitimate argument against Islamism, but who are generally factually correct. "Hate speech," does not demand that the speaker be factually incorrect in his assertion, merely that he has intended to cause hate in another person, or persons.
In 2006, for example, Britain amended the Public Order Act, which "creates offences involving stirring up hatred against persons on religious grounds." Similar legislation in Holland has been used to prosecute Wilders. Due to the difficulty of ascertaining why a person has said something controversial, the burden of proof appears to fall to the speaker. The claim that he desires only a "debate," for example, can be trumped by another person or group expressing that his position might or has hurt their feelings, might "lead to community tensions," "makes us feel uncomfortable here," etc. Those predisposed to violence and threats have thus become the "victims" who must be protected from rational debate, artistic works, etc., in case they act violently in response.
Yet, president Obama has indicated that he will strengthen the hate speech bill. US Lieut. Pertinently, Col. Allen B. West (retired) said of this recently, that,
"The irony struck me that here we have the new President seeking to extend US Constitutional protections to Islamic terrorists, the enemy. We plan to provide them legal rights under the equal protection clause. Yet in Holland, a fellow democracy, the government is ordering the criminal prosecution of an elected representative for exercising one of the Western world's most precious freedoms, freedom of speech; and in this case, freedom of speech to discuss the jihadist ideology of the enemy."
But president Obama is keen to heal the rift between America and the Muslims of the world, including American Muslims, and has signaled a change of approach to the nation's relationship with Muslim nations. Such keenness, recent history tells us, suggests that moderate Muslims will be shunned in favor of more radical Muslims. And Obama already appears to be taking the same sort of disastrous steps as did the British Labour government after 9/11. Closing the four-day inauguration, for example, Obama and the first lady attended the National Prayer Service, at which prayers were offered for the administration. Among the ministers and rabbis was ISNA's Ingrid Mattson.
ISNA has been strongly criticized by the moderate Muslim organization, Muslim Wake Up. In an article entitled 'ISNA Thugs,' Umbreen Shah has referred to "a tendency in ISNA to enforce a particular religiously conservative philosophy," and that "Women presenters at ISNA have been routinely asked to wear hijab during presentation even though they don't normally wear the headscarf." And ISNA has been accused of being a front organization for Hamas. According to terrorism expert Steven Emerson, She [Mattson] has made statements that essentially legitimize Osama bin Laden's actions by claiming that he would be peaceful if only he had a peaceful outlet to express his views."
Obama has told the Middle East that his administration will "start by listening." We can be sure that they will not waste such an opportunity.