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The Arab World

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Editorial correspondence | Back to Politics | Back to the world news
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Islam: my version of the facts
Not Islamic fascism but Islamic denial
The Middle East out of control
Connecting with the Muslim majority
Why USA citizens don't trust Islam anymore
The rise of the Quran
Islam vs freedom of the press
Al Jazeera on the Palestinian elections
Why are portraits of Mohammed banned?
Articles on the Arab world of 2005
Arabs till 2004
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

  • (September 2006) Islam: my version of the facts. I have an article on my version of the facts about the historical Jesus. It is based not on faith but on historical records and on logic. Here is a similar guess about Mohammed, the man whom Muslims believe to be a prophet sent by their god.
    There is no question that Mohammed prayed towards Jerusalem and was heavily influenced by Jewish traditions. Despite Saudi Arabia's program of scientific destruction of the archeological record (see Unspeakable Islamic terrorism), it is difficult to deny that Mohammed adopted a Jewish religion (the Old Testament), prayed towards the Jewish capital (Jerusalem) and worshipped a Jewish shrine (Mecca). Before the fanatics of the Arabian peninsula made it illegal to portray Mohammed, there were countless portraits of Mohammed, and they consistently depicted him as a Jew, not an Arab (e.g., he rides a donkey not a horse). Therefore he either was a Jew himself or he was very close to the Jewish community. Therefore it makes sense that he decided to adopt a monotheistic religion. But therefore there was no reason to choose Allah as his god: why not choose Yahweh himself, the god of the Jews? Allah is the Arab name for Enlil, an ancient Mesopotamiam god (See A history of Islam). He was one of the many gods worshipped at Mecca. Mecca, before Mohammed, was a model of religious tolerance: a place where all gods were respected and accepted. (A good idea for the United Nations would be to rebuild the original Mecca shrine, as a tribute to religious coexistence around the world). Both Jews and Christians worshipped their gods at the Mecca shrine. Mohammed could have chosen Yahweh: why choose Enlil/Allah? The family that went on to establish the Umayyad dictatorship over the newly founded Islamic empire used to be a tribe of powerful warlords of Mecca. Mohammed fought them and defeated them. But two generations later the Umayyad destroyed Mohammed's family and seized power. (The first Umayyad caliph, Muawiya, was the son of Abu Sufyan, whom Islamic historians themselves considered the fiercest enemy of Mohammed because he both strongly opposed the new religion and tried to exterminate its early followers in series of famous battles). Sunni Islam as we know it today was largely defined by the Umayyads. (Shiite Islam is, theoretically, closer to what Mohammed really wanted). Back in Mecca, before Mohammed invented Islam, the Umayyads were probably worshipping Allah. One cannot help wondering if it is possible that Mohammed was a Jew or at least believed in the Jewish god Yahweh and simply founded a movement of Jewish religious revival that was later hijacked by the Umayyads and turned into a worship of their god (not Mohammed's god) Allah. After all, the first century of the Islamic empire was a century in which brutal warlords fought for control of it (three of the four early caliphs were murdered), not a century of smooth propagation of the faith.
    The Quran was written by at least two people. The Quran is divided into two periods, the revelations in Mecca and the revelations in exile, in Medina. The Meccan revelations are peaceful. The Medina revelations are not. The former sounds like a paraphrasis of the Christian literature of Syria (not surprising given the similarities between the Syriac script and the early Arabic script). The latter sounds like a manual of war. I wonder if it is possible that the Quran is nothing but the combination of a book written by the Christians of Syria and a book written by the Umayyads to justify their imperialist campaign.
    Unfortunately, the Islamic world has fallen under the control of Saudi Arabia. For centuries Islam was controlled by the more enlightened regimes of Egypt, Turkey and Iraq. Saudi Arabia has decided to erase any possible discussion and create a Sunni dogma. It is doing so by destroying anything that archeologists, historians or linguists could use to reconstruct what truly happened.
    This only increases my suspicions that Islam was hijacked once before, at the very beginning, and that one billion Muslims are praying to a god that their prophet Mohammed wanted to destroy.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (August 2006) Not Islamic fascism but Islamic denial. George W Bush, who never misses an opportunity to inflame the world's public opinion, referred to the Pakistani terrorists of London as "Islamic fascists". The term is probably more appropriate than Muslims would like to admit (one can find similarities between the political ideology contained in the "Quran", if taken literally, and Hitler's "Mein Kampft"), and it is encouraging that Bush is beginning to see the whole of Islam (not a few crazy individuals) as "the" problem (the West has its own mass murderers, just like the Islamic world has its own, but the real difference between the Western and the Islamic worlds is their ideologies, which are probably incompatible). However, the real issue was not that "Islamic fascists" tried to blow up civilian planes in the Atlantic ocean. The real issue is the way the Islamic world reacted to the news: the usual denial. (See The Muslim masses in denial and Connecting with the Muslim majority).
    Muslims live in denial of everything that happens in their own backyard, not to mention of everything that Muslims export to the rest of the world. Problems will not be solved for as long as one billion Muslims deny that terrorism exists and take sides (with us or against us). The first reaction of millions of Muslims worldwide is to deny that anything actually happened. Just like most Muslims believe that the prisoners of Guantanamo are all innocents and should be simply released, they now believe that the plot uncovered in London is all a fabrication by the British and USA governments to humiliate Muslims.
    To understand this reaction one has to realize the state of denial in which millions of Muslims live. To them, a Muslim is innocent by definition. There cannot possibly be a guilty Muslims. Whenever a Muslim is accused by infidels of a crime, their first reaction is to take the side of the Muslim, regardless of what the accusation is and what the charges are. Even when the victims of the Islamic terrorist are Muslims (as was the case with Zarqawi's terrorism in Iraq and Jordan), the first reaction by the Muslim masses is to deny that the terrorist attack was carried out by the Islamic terrorist and to accuse Israel or the USA or both of being behind the carnage.
    Note that the very same Muslim who supports terrorists is ready to deny the existence of terrorists. The very same Muslim who goes to the mosque every friday and asks for revenge against the infidels will be the first one to deny that any Muslim could have possibly plotted to kill infidels.
    There are certainly many causes of terrorism, and certainly the West has much to blame itself for it. But the root cause of terrorism remains the state of total denial in which the Muslim masses live. A terrorist is in a win-win situation: a terrorist gets support from the Muslim community, and then never gets blamed by the Muslim community, no matter what he or she does. The Islamic world makes it too easy for terrorists to do their job and get away with it.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (July 2006) The Middle East out of control. There were success stories. The USA overthrew Saddam Hussein (2003). Libya surrendered its weapons of mass destruction (2003). Israel withdrew from Gaza (2005). Iraq had its first democratic elections (2005). Palestine had its first democratic elections (2005). Syria withdrew from Lebanon (2005) and the anti-Syrian coalition won Lebanon's elections (2005). Iran and Syria were surrounded by USA allies and less and less capable of wreaking havoc in the region. The other Arab governments, from Morocco to Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Jordan were becoming friendlier to the USA and Israel.
    Then (also in 2005) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won presidential elections in Iran and started the sharpest confrontation with the USA and Israel since the times of Khomeini. Whether he realized that all this peace offered a unique opportunity for war or he was just a demented demagogue in the right place at the right time, his election was the beginning of the end for the USA's dream of a peaceful and democratic Middle East.
    Within a year the Palestinians installed a prime minister of Hamas, mostly famous for suicide bombings and a darling of Iran. Iraq descended into even more chaos. Iran refused to stop its nuclear program. And finally both Palestinian and Hezbollah militiae attacked Israel, causing the most massive military Israeli-Arab escalation in a decade. The trend is towards a nuclear-armed Iran dominating the region, funding continuous warfare against Israel, and Israel retaliating by annihilating its neighbors, while the Iraqi civil war drags on for years. This is not exactly the goal for which USA taxpayers spent bllions of dollars.
    Syria and Iran not only regained their influence on the region, but now look like the keys to any peaceful resolution. In other words, they (not the new democracies of the region) look set to call the shots.
    The USA is struggling to turn so many failures into a success (the "birthpangs of the new Middle East" as Condoleezza Rice put it) but that depends on so many unlikely factors (that the Iraqis suddenly stop slaughering each other, that Iran suddenly surrenders its nuclear program, that Syria suddenly makes peace with Israel, that Israel destroys the terrorist groups that it has never been able to destroy) that nobody seriously thinks Rice will succeed diplomatically.
    It looks more and more inevitable that the USA can only do two things: 1. withdraw and let the Middle East go to hell (almost literally) with the danger that Iran will become a world power and possibly unify the Islamic world against the USA; 2. increase (not decrease) its military involvement in the region, attacking directly both Iran and Syria. Neither is an appealing scenario for a USA public opinion that is tired of wars and hungry for cheap Middle Eastern oil.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (April 2006) Connecting with the Muslim majority First, the good news: the vast (vast) majority of Muslims in the world are peaceful and, in fact, much friendlier than the average westerner. Just travel around the Islamic world and judge by yourself.
    Now the bad news. There is indeed a problem in communicating with the masses of the Islamic world. The problem is not Osama or Zarqawi (who are criminals by any standard, Muslim or otherwise). The problem is the average Muslim, the so called "moderate".
    The problem begins with the denial. Muslims who are peaceful people (again, the ultra-vast majority) live in denial of what the Quran actually says. This is due to two simple facts: 1. most of them never read it, 2. almost all of them never read any other religious book of any other religion (thus they cannot compare). The vast majority of Muslims in the world are convinced that Islam means "peace". Some of them even play word games with "islam" (which means "submission" and was used by Mohammed to ask for an enemy's surrender) and "salam" (which means, more or less, "peace"). The good news, again, is that these Muslims are strong believers in peace, and twist their religion to turn it into a religion of peace. The "denial" lies in the fact that Islam is just the opposite. No matter how you "interpret" it, there is no question that Mohammed is the only founder of a major religion who personally killed people, who personally launched a war of conquest, who personally founded a political entity (the Arab empire). There is no question that his followers went on a rampage and conquered a large area of the world from Spain to Iran in the name of his religion. There had been empires before, and all of them had been as brutal as the Arab empire, but the Arab empire was the first one to be "religious" in nature. The Egyptian, Persian, Roman empires did not use religion as a pretext to invade their neighbors: they invaded their neighbors because they wanted to expand. (In fact, they did not care what religion the conquered people wanted to continue worshipping). The followers of Mohammed were the first ones in history to kill, invade, conquer and annex in the name of a god. (Their great invention was later copied by the Christians).
    Ultimately, Mohammed's followers carried out all these bloody wars because that is what Mohammed commanded, that is the essence of the Quran. Any non-Muslim who reads the Quran is shocked by the violence that it contains. It is even more shocking to hear Muslims who claim that there is no violence in the Quran. Needless to say, that "is" the problem. If you think that killing is not an act of violence, then you indirectly justify terrorism, which, by these standards, is not a big deal. (Muslims are routinely offended by anyone who calls Mohammed a "terrorist", but Mohammed himself said that his goal was to inspire "terror" in the heart of the infidels: isn't that precisely the aim of today's terrorists?).
    Paeceful ("moderate") Muslims have to deny these simple facts. They are offended if you tell them "Mohammed killed" (a fact that no Islamic scholar ever denied) or if you tell them that all the territories from Morocco to Iran are "occupied territories", occupied by the Arabs (Muslims routinely think of "occupied territory" as a territory that used to be Muslim and it is now controlled by a non-Muslim country, such as Israel or Spain). Muslims get upset if you tell them that the Christian Crusades were simply a reaction to the Muslim invasion of Christian lands (it was legitimate that Muslims invaded the lands of other nations, but it was a crime for other nations to try to get back those lands). Muslims even resent it if you tell them that they are Muslims only because someone won a war (had the Arabs lost the war, the people from Morocco to Syria would still be Christians and Iranians would still be Zoroastrians). The people of Morocco to Pakistan are Muslims not because Allah wanted it but because Arabs (and later Turks) killed more efficiently than the other kingdoms.
    This denial leads to the "Muslim double standard": it is not ok for the rest of the world to do what the Muslims did. It was perfectly ok for Muslims to conquer Palestine, the homeland of the Jewish and Christian religions. It is not ok for, say, one USA soldier to step into Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Islamic religion. The Muslims of the world find it perfectly reasonable that the Palestinians (Muslims) want to control Palestine, despite the fact that Jesus (the founder of the Christian religion) was born there and despite the fact that Jews lived there a thousand years before the Muslims. On the other hand, Muslims would strongly oppose (presumably sacrificing their own lives) any attempt by a non-Islamic country to invade Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Islamic religion.
    If Muslims control Bethlehem and the other Christian areas, why shouldn't Christians control Mecca? If Muslims want half of Jerusalem, the Jewish capital, why shouldn't Jews control half of Mecca? If Muslims control the Indus valley, the homeland of Hinduism (a land now entirely inside Pakistan), why shouldn't Indians control Saudi Arabia?
    How would your Muslim friend react if a Christian, Jewish or Hindu army invade the homeland of the Islamic religion? Does your Muslim friend realize that Islamic armies have invaded and are still occupying the homelands of the Christian, Jewish and Hindu religions?
    Muslims who live in denial of their roots and their history cannot answer these simple questions. Muslims who accept their roots and their history (such as Osama and Zarqawi) have a simple answer: because Mohammed said so, because the Quran says so, because Islam is a violent ideology of world domination.
    Thus the good news is that the vast majority of Muslims want peace and twist the words of the Quran and the history of their religion in order to prove that Islam means "peace". The bad news is that, by twisting the very nature of their religion, Muslims apply a double standard, one for Muslims and one for the rest of the world.
    Last but not least, the problem is one of mindset. Islam invented the religious war, that, basically, did not exist before Mohammed. The religious war has remained very much in the minds of all Muslims. It is part of their education. It is not that they are trained to carry out a religious war: they are trained to "interpret history" in terms of religious war. They see religious war every time there is a problem between a Muslim community and a non-Muslim community. Where westerners, Russians, Chinese and Indians see only a problem between two entities (regardless of their religion), Muslims see a problem between a Muslim and a non-Muslim, and therefore a religious war. Christians have never been united on anything. The world wars were wars among Christians. Christians do not think of their country as a "Christian" country. Not even Christian fundamentalists in the USA, who gladly insult France any time they can. Not even the Pope, who prefers Islam to the USA lifestyle. Muslims, instead, look at religion first. They first look at the religions of the people involved in the issue, and then take sides. And guess which side they take. There is literally no Muslim who sides against a fellow Muslim anywhere in the world. Religion prevails. Every Muslim in the world sides with the Kashmiri independentists, with the Kosovo Albanians, with the Palestinian Arabs, with the Chechnyan separatists, with any Muslim group from the Philippines to Morocco. Where westerners are divided on most of these issues, Muslims are 100% behind the Muslim side, regardless of what the issue is. For a Muslim the issue is always a religious war, and therefore her/his duty is to side with the Muslims. For a Muslim the "issue" that the other side discusses is not an issue: it is only a pretext to wage a religious war against the poor Muslims. (When no Muslims are involved in the dispute, the average Muslim of the world is simply indifferent: ask your Muslim friends what they think of the civil war in Nepal or in Sri Lanka: they probably hardly know that there is anybody dying there).
    Thus the almost complete Muslim support for the Iraqi insurgents in Iraq. It is not a matter of whether the Iraqis are better off with Saddam or without Saddam. For the Muslim masses, that was only a pretext for the USA to wage a religious war against the Muslims. Very few Muslims are interested in discussing what was best for the Iraqi people. Almost all Muslims are interested, first and foremost, in an immediate withdrawal of the USA. Saddam is ok (in fact, there never was a jihad against Saddam, there never were mass demonstrations against Saddam, there never were Al Jazeera reportages of Saddam's massacres). A USA occupation is not ok, no matter what benefits it could bring to the Iraqi people. For a Muslim the issue is not the well-being of the Iraqi people but the confrontation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
    Thus Muslims are sympathyzing and honestly suffering for the Iraqi people (and not so much for the Iraqi people who are trying to create a viable democracy and for the Iraqi soldiers who are trying to maintain order). But the same Muslims care absolutely zero about the people of Darfur, despite the fact that the number of people who are dying is almost the same and Darfur is much smaller. Muslims don't care about Darfur because it is Muslims who are doing the killing. Muslims interpret everything as a religious war. If Muslims kill Muslims, then it is not a religious war, then it is not worth getting too upset. If one USA soldier by accident kills one Iraqi civilian, that "is" worth getting very upset about it. Muslims never demonstrated against the massacres of the Taliban, but they demonstrated when the USA accidentally bombed a village in Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban. This has nothing to do with a Muslim's willingness to live under the Taliban: most likely, only a tiny minority of Muslims would like to live under the Taliban. But most Muslims conceive the USA invasion of Afghanistan not as a liberation of "people" oppressed by brutal dictators, but as a religious war waged by a Christian power against "Muslims".
    Thus we never see Muslims demonstrating in the streets against whatever crimes other Muslims commits. There have never been massive Muslim demonstrations against the terrorism in Kashmir or in Israel, or against the dictatorships of Syria and Iran. The only demonstrations against terrorism take place when the victims are Muslims (for example, recently in Jordan) and they routinely turn into demonstrations against Israel and the USA (in the face of the evidence that the perpetrators were Muslims). The Muslim mindset is that all these unpleasant events are part of a religious war. Since even the worst terrorists are, ultimately, on the side of Islam, and even the best infidels are, ultimately, enemies of Islam, then the "moderate" Muslim has to find excuses to justify the terrorists and excuses to criminalize the infidels.
    kosovo was a case in which a Christian country (the USA) bombed a Christian country (Serbia) to protect an Islamic community. There was no Muslim in the world who complained about this USA attack against Serbia. The same Muslims who protest against the liberation of Afghanistan or Iraq were more than happy to see the USA defend the Muslims of Kosovo. The same Muslims who march in the streets whenever the USA accidentally kills an Afghani civilian were more than willing to accept that some innocent Serbian civilians would die in the USA bombing of Serbia.
    Muslims are brainwashed as children to think of every world event as a religious war, and a Christian who bombs a Christian is not a religious war, therefore it is ok. Not only ok: it fulfills the Quran's will. No Muslim has stopped one second to ponder that Kosovo is the homeland of the Serbs. How would the same Muslims react if a non-Muslim minority became a majority in Mecca and the USA bombed Saudi Arabia to protect that minority against the Muslims?
    Thus the first problem is one of denial. The second problem that derives from the first one is the double standard. And then the Muslim perception that every crisis in the world must be viewed as a religious war: Islam against non-Islam. Then we have the clash between Muslims and the rest of the world (USA, Europe, Russia, China, India, Philippines, you name it). Wherever there is Islam, there is a war.
    De facto, Islam is the last problem left in the world. The great powers are at peace for the first time in the history of the world. But don't expect Muslims to realize that their religion is the last problem in the world. For them it is the rest of the world that is at war against their religion. Their religion means "peace".
    Unfortunately, the only way to change this situation is to teach Muslims the truth that they never wanted to learn about their prophet and their religion: that Islam means "war". When Muslims face this fact (the same way that Catholics eventually faced the truth about the Popes), we will be on the right track to solve the last major problem, and we will be very close to a world without wars.
    Sooner or later, Muslims have to start telling their children the truth. The truth is actually very simple. In those days it was good to kill enemies. Every Muslim historian of the past centuries emphasized that Mohammed personally killed his enemies (and raped their women). In those days it was considered a good thing to do. That "is" what made Mohammed credible to the yes of his people: he killed his enemies and won the war. Trying to deny that Mohammed killed is like trying to deny that Julius Caesar or Napoleon killed. They all killed because in those days it was good to kill, even to kill people who had not hurt you. They all built empires because they killed the people who did not want to "submit" (islem). His companions continued his religious war and forced all the people from Spain to Iran to "submit" (islem). In those days it was considered a good thing that some warriors defeated so many people and conquered so much territory. In those days nobody doubted that it could be reprehensible to kill so many innocents. It is pointless to try to deny that it happened, just like it would be silly to deny that the Roman Empire or the Persian Empire or the British Empire killed a lot of innocents. That is how Islam spread. That is why a Muslim is a Muslim: because her or his people were subjected by the Muslims. The Quran embodies this imperial philosophy. Sooner or later, Muslims have to start telling their children this very simple truth. There is actually little to be ashamed, because all civilizations did the same, and in any case we live in age in which children are not considered responsible for the sins of the fathers. Muslims need to face the simple fact that Mohammed was a warrior, that his followers were an army, that Islam was an empire (the first religious empire), and that today we live in a different world, in which warriors, armies and empires are no longer welcome.
    The rest of the world too has to help by stating loud and clear that the behavior of Darius, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, etc is something of the past, and today we don't believe in invading neighbors at will. We can blame the Muslims for not telling their children the truth about Mohammed and the Islamic empire, but we also have to blame the French prime minister Villepin for hailing Napoleon as a hero and thousands of Italian teachers for teaching that Julius Caesar was a hero. The entire planet has to agree once and forever on what is "good" and what is not "good". Invading, killing and destroying people who have not provoked us is not good in our age. It was accepted and even encouraged in the past, but today we do not want anyone to be inspired by those brutal conquerors, whether it was Darius, Caesar, Mohammed, Napoleon or the British army. We want peace. Not Islamic or Roman or Persian or British or USA peace: "real" peace.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (March 2006) Why USA citizens don't trust Islam anymore. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, the percentage of USA citizens who believe that Islam causes religious violence has more than doubled in the four years since the terrorist attacks of 2001 from 14% to 33%. While this is still less than 50%, it is nonetheless a significant jump in just four years.
    Muslims will claim that this is all because of some distorted portrayal of the facts by the western media. But it really doesn't take a genius: Shiites and Sunnis are blowing themselves up by the dozens in Iraq (and, for that matter, in Pakistan too), based on religious affiliation, and thousands (if not millions) of Muslims rioted in the streets in the name of their religion when a Danish newspaper published cartoons deemed offensive to their religion. All the conflicts that involve Muslims are fought in the name of Islam (unlike, say, the Nepalese civil war or the Colombian civil war or the many wars in black Africa, where neither party invokes their religious affiliation). Call it the way you like, but it is the perpetrators themselves who dedicate their violence to Islam. Denying that Islam is related to so much world-wide violence is like denying that communism has anything to do with lack of human rights in North Korea, Cuba and mainland China.
    Most USA citizens believe that Islam preaches hate. Muslims will argue that this is not true, but talk to any mosque-goer in any part of the world, and most likely you will hear very confrontational opinions that do not differ that much from Osama's opinions, although they are routinely wrapped up in a "Islam means peace" kind of statement. Mosque-goers rarely doubt the terrorists, but always doubt western leaders. Mosque-goers rarely blame a Muslim for an event, and almost invariably blame non-Muslims for it. Etc. Like it or not, Osama bin Laden is, de facto, a spokesman for the peoples of the mosques.
    So what is truly surprising of this poll is that 67% of USA citizens do not think so. One wonders if they are so well informed about Islam to decide that Islam does not preach violence, or if they simply do not know enough about what is going on. I suspect the latter is more true than the former, and that, with time, the percentage will only increase, as more and more people learn about the reasons that trigger violence in the Islamic world. I suspect that many USA citizens have a confused idea of what is going on in Iraq, blaming it mostly on a small group of terrorists and on Bush's inept policies. I suspect that the vast majority of USA citizens has not heard anything about the cartoon protests. And i suspect that, when they do, the numbers of these polls will double again.
    What is worse is that a similar poll in Europe would most likely show an even greater increase in distrust for Islam. The backlash from the cartoon protests is likely to be much bigger than the backlash from September 11 or even the Madrid bombings, because it showed the face not of a handful of terrorists but of a much larger population of Muslims.
    The other factor, that is almost never mentioned in these statistics, is the mounting awareness of non-Muslims about the content of the Quran. Muslims routinely invite non-Muslims to read the Quran, but those Muslims have never read the religious books of other religions and do not realize the effect that the Quran has on the people of the world. There is hardly a more violent book in the history of human religions, but Muslims who never read the Hindu Upanishad, the Buddhist scriptures and the Gospels are convinced of the opposite. By inviting non-Muslims to read the Quran, they create their own problem. Christians, Buddhists and Hindus who read the Quran are appalled by the sheer violence that is contained in it, ostensibly the words of the very prophet of Islam. Read the Quran and it will be obvious why so many Muslims (out of a population of one billion) resort to extreme violence.
    Muslims can scream, as usual, that this is discrimination and prejudice. Or they can look into the mirror and see that the world is simply judging them based on the facts. Yes, it was only a small minority of Muslims that burned Danish flags and asked for the extermination of Danish people (plus Israel and the USA, that are always added for good measure in any Muslim protest), but the Islamic society at large did nothing to stop them. And make sure to add: "as usual". In most Islamic countries the few intellectuals who dared defend the Danish government and downplay the incident were fired and even arrested. (See Islam vs freedom of the press). Yes, most Muslims are in favor of "interpreting" the Quran, not sticking to the letter: but they keep telling "us" (non-Muslims) not "them" (the radical Muslims). How many Muslims march in the street to protest against the radical interpretation of Islam? How many Muslims burn the flags of Iran to protest against the radical interpretation of the ayatollahs? How many Muslims burned Taliban flags to protest against the Taliban's radical form of Islam? Let us face it: one billion Muslims never did anything to show their opposition to the radical Islam implemented (not only theorized) by the Taliban and by the Iranian ayatollahs. Yes, there are very few Muslims who side openly with Al Qaeda, maybe even less than 1%, but the majority of Muslims is perfectly happy to watch Al Jazeera, whose ideology is very similar to Al Qaeda's and whose role is pretty much one of articulating the ideological justification for suicide bombers (as in "the Islamic world is perfect and all the evils of the world are caused by non-Muslims" and "Muslims only have their bodies to use as weapons"). How many Muslims complain that Al Jazeera takes every word by Osama as truth that doesn't need to be verified while it implies that every word by non-Muslim leaders is a lie? Muslims have a long way to go to convince the West, Russia, China and India that theirs is a peaceful religion. They, not us, have to do the homework.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (February 2006) The rise of the Quran. The world (not only the Christian world) has been shocked by the reaction of some Muslims (including governments) to some cartoons published in an obscure newspaper of a small European country. The shock has reverberated from China to India to, of course, Europe. Each continent (and almost each country) has its own grievances against crowds of rioting Muslims who, at some point or another, feel "offended" by the behavior of their hosts or their neighbors and try to impose the will of Islam on other people. Muslims such as the president of Iran have involved the Jews (who had nothing to do with this episode). So it has now become a "global crisis", as the prime minister of Denmark correctly said. The old theory of the "clash of civilizations" has been resurrected to explain why Muslims (not only the extremists) keep missing the point. See Decolonization and the Islamic civil war for my opinion on the "clash of civilizations".
    The way Islam dominates the societies of the countries from Morocco to Pakistan is indeed unique. And that "is" the issue. The life of a Muslim (not necessarily a radical Muslim) is (on average) much more under the influence of the Quran than the life of a Christian is under the influence of the Gospels or the life of a Buddhist is under the influence of the Buddhist scriptures. Over the last few centuries, the Islamic world has not followed the same path as the rest of the world towards emancipation from the power of organized religion, but viceversa.
    Examples:
    • Portraits of Mohammed are now "really" banned (they were commonplace until a few centuries ago)
    • Non-Muslims are leaving Islamic countries by the millions, leaving those countries entirely in the hands of Muslims
    • For the first time in centuries, there is an Islamic state (Iran). There were actually two until september 2001 (the Taliban in Afghanistan). And there might be two again, depending on whether one considers Palestine (now ruled by Hamas) as a state.
    • Suicide bombers were invented in the 1980s. Martyrs of Islam have always existed, but suicide bombers (who blow up mainly civilians, including Muslim civilians) had never existed before.
    • Any discussion on the origin of the Quran is banned from the Islamic world (for example, see this summary of research on variants of the Quran, or this book on the similarities with Syriac religious texts)
    There is a very visible dimension of the growing importance of the Quran. Most people in the world are very private about their religious beliefs. Most christians who own a Bible keep it in a drawer, as if they were ashamed of it. And they will probably turn down a conversation on Christianity. The vast majority of Christians has never read the Bible, and no intention of reading it. Most practicing Buddhists in Japan carry out their religious functions quietly, so much so that it is not easy to guess the religious affiliation of a Japanese. The vast majority of Buddhists has never read the Buddhist scriptures, and no intention of reading it. The vast majority of Hinduists has never read the Upanishads. Large areas of the world (such as China) are virtually devoid of any religious practice. Today's Muslims, instead, proudly display their copy of the Quran, loudly declare their allegiance to Islam, and warmly identify with fellow Muslims. Christians wish Merry Christmas to everybody, but (during equivalent religious holidays) Muslims wish well only to fellow Muslims. The majority of Christians and Buddhists and Hinduists are a bit ashamed of the superstitions written in their holy books, and they are fully aware that all religion is superstition. Muslims are not ashamed at all of the Quran. They treat it no more and no less as the rest of the world treats a book by Shakespeare or by Einstein: something that one should be proud of having read and one should quote in every intelligent discussion.
    Furthermore most people on this planet are curious about other religions. Europeans and Americans routinely read books about other religions (including Islam). Countries like India and China are melting pots of different religions (including Islam). Muslims, instead, tend to know very little about the other religions. In fact, the average Muslim never read a line of any religious book other than the Quran. Because Muslims never read the holy books of other religions, they cannot compare the Quran to other holy books. (Thus Muslims routinely fail to understand the reaction of non-Muslims who read the Quran, a reaction that is usually very negative).
    While the rest of the world has undergone a period of rapid development in both the Sciences and the Arts, the Islamic world has had virtually no developent at all in either the Sciences (not a single discovery) or the Arts (not much literary, architectural or musical innovation compared with the rest of the world). While the rest of the world has clearly broken with the past, the Islamic world still lives very much in the past.
    Thus Islam is moving in the opposite direction from the rest of the world, towards stronger (not weaker) religious dominance. No surprise then that the rest of the world is moving towards peace whereas the Islamic world is getting involved in more and more wars. For the first time in centuries, there are no wars between the world's powers (notably between Christian powers). With the small exceptions of Colombia and Nepal, the only wars that are still going on (Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Sudan, Philippines, Kashmir, Al Qaeda) involve Muslims (This is not a statement about who is right or wrong in those wars: Italy is probably right in claiming that Corsica belongs geographically to Italy, but it does not start a war with France over Corsica. Spain is probably right that Gibraltar should not belong to Britain, but does not start a war with Britain over Gibraltar. Etc. There are countless grievances all around the world that do not result in wars).
    The social, economic, military, scientific and cultural decline of the Islamic world is well documented. What is not well documented is the parallel process: the rise of Islam. The importance of the Quran has increased proportionally with the decline of the Islamic world. No surprise then that the reactions of the Islamic world to actions by non-Muslims have become more and more violent. The reason is that today Muslims feel much stronger (than a thousand years ago or 500 years ago) about the word of the Quran and the fact that it should be obeyed even in non-Islamic lands.
    A series of revolutions "demoted" the status of religion in pretty much every part of the planet, except the Islamic world. The American revolution of 1776 clearly stated that people should be free to believe any superstition they like to believe, but that superstition should not interfere with public life. The French Revolution of 1789 made it even more explicit by persecuting religious people. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese revolution of 1911 were "materialist" revolutions that replaced religious morality with state morality. Right or wrong, the effect of these revolutions was to emancipate all these regions of the Earth from the old religions. The Islamic world (with the exception of Turkey) did not have any revolution of this kind. In fact, the Islamic world is the only region in the world where non-religious people feel persecuted: on "must" be a good Muslim to be respected by the community. (To be fair, one Islamic country did have an anti-religious revolution, and that country is, by far, the most progressive of the Islamic world, producing plenty of writers, philosophers and scientists: Turkey).
    Whether it was a cause or an effect, the progressive emancipation from religion coincided with the triumph of the West (and, later, of Russia and of China and now also of India). The rise of the West caused the decline of the Islamic world, that had dominated the Middle East and Northern Africa for many centuries. The military decadence of the Islamic world had started earlier. Perhaps the key event was the defeat of the Ottomans in 1683 (the second time they tried to take Vienna). Under pressure from the emerging western powers, the Ottoman empire started to unravel. At the same time the Safavid empire (centered around Iran) was beginning to implode (last but not least because of Russia's expansion). The last major decision by the Safavids was religious in nature: to adopt Shiite Islam instead of Sunni Islam as the state religion (thus today Iran and most of Iraq are Shiite). But the real blow to the Islamic world came from countries that did not even bordered on Islamic countries, such as Portugal, Holland and Britain. These small European countries had found a way to trade with the Far East by sea, without having to cross the Islamic lands. This fact completely changed the nature of world trade, making western Europe more and more relevant while the Islamic world was becoming less and less relevant. An accidental consequence of the new European sea trade had been to "discover" America, a fact that, within two centuries, made the Islamic world even less relevant.
    The Islamic world also missed the scientific revolution that was propelling the industrial revolution. Besides leaving the Islamic masses much poorer than the European masses, this fact also accounts for the inferior ships and weapons of the Islamic world. There is no question that Islam played a major part in this decision: the Islamic establishment opposed the printing press (other than for printing religious books) and opposed the translation of foreign books. To this day, the Islamic world has (by far) the lowest percentage of foreign books and of non-religious books in the entire world. The first printing press in the Islamic world was founded in Istanbul only in 1727 and was torched a few years later by Islamic fundamentalists.
    The decadence of the Islamic world has been going on since at least the 17th century, and continues today. It is likely that today is the lowest point of the Islamic civilization since its birth, and that the decline is continuing.
    The decadence did not involve non-Muslim people living within the borders of the Islamic world. Both Jews and Christians (and Hindus and Buddhists in the East) benefited from the economic boom of western Europe. They had no problems adopting the modern views of Europe. While they were still not considered equal citizens (non-Muslims were tolerated but did not have full rights), the non-Muslim populations were getting much richer than the Muslim population. Eventually, the Islamic world resorted to genocide (notably against the Armenians) and to ethnic cleansing (still going on throughout the Islamic world) to get rid of non-Muslims who, because they were not living the Islamic life, were getting richer and richer.
    The Ottoman empire kept shrinking. The Iranian state kept shrinking. Both tried (too late) to adopt the Western lifestyle, with its emphasis on education and technology. Egypt and all of North Africa became a European colony. Somehow a side effect of this global loss of power was a new emphasis on pure Islam, on the literal interpretation of the Quran.
    The reasons are more psychological than political. The Muslims of the Islamic world probably felt a mixture of anger, envy and humiliation. On one hand they got poorer and weaker by not adopting the Western lifestyle. On the other hand it was humiliating to adopt the lifestyle of non-Muslim people whom Muslims had dominated (culturally) for so long. Muslims envied the success of the Christian people, but refused to copy the Christian way of life, and therefore tried to achieve the same success using a different system, the system of the Quran. Instead of identifying the cause of the problem (Islam), they stuck stubbornly to the very cause, thus making the problem only worse, more insoluble. Whichever the cause, the effect was to rapidly increase the importance of the Quran within the Islamic world. For example, portraits of Mohammed came to be forbidden (they had been commonplace for centuries) and anything that has to do with entertainment became suspicious (the Taliban even forbade the radio).
    (The prohibition of images was in fact a further cause of cultural decline, because it made painting and sculpture irrelevant. Islamic mosques were bare buildings when Christian, Buddhist and Hinduist religious buildings were the glorious summa of the cultures of the European, Chinese and Indian societies. The prohibition of images de facto deprived the Islamic civilization of one of the main drivers of cultural development in all other civilizations).
    It didn't help that the culturally advanced regions of Iran, Egypt and Turkey became as poor as the culturally backward region of Saudi Arabia (which had been virtually lawless from the 9th century till the Saudi family unified most of the peninsula under the fanatical Wahabi ideology). Previously Muslims had rarely taken inspiration from Saudi Arabia (the Umayyads and the Safavids created empires centered around Damascus and Baghdad, not Mecca, and the armies of the Seljuqs and the Ottomans paid almost no attention to this desolate region). But now that the old Islamic regimes were collapsing there was no reason to consider Saudi Arabia a land of stone-age tribal warlords. Alas, Saudi Arabia was rapidly falling under the influence of the Wahabi sect, preaching a return to Ibn Hanbal (strict obedience to the Quran and the Hadith). Instead of the advanced societies of Turkey and Iran influencing the backward society of Saudi Arabia, the opposite started happening (and is still happening). The discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia in 1938 helped push Saudi Arabia to the top tier of Arab states, for the first time since Mohammed. Not only were Muslims around the world more motivated to pay attention to Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia now had the money to make itself heard all over the Islamic world.
    The other oil-rich country that had money to waste was Iran, that happened to be the first country to become an Islamic republic (1979). The outcome of that revolution (initiated on totally different grounds) was both an effect and a cause for the Islamic revival. On one hand, the Islamists won because the Iranian people identified Islam as the alternative to Western civilization. On the other hand Khomeini's victory became another cause of the further Islamization of the Arab world. Besides the example that they set, Iran and Saudi Arabia could flood their neighbors with oil money to support all sorts of Islamic movements. Thus Iran (opposed to the USA) supported Palestinian terrorism and Saudi Arabia (opposed to the Soviet Union) supported the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
    The revolutions of the 1950s and 1960s had not caused the same kind of seismic readjustment because they were inherently different. Even after Nasser's pan-Arab nationalist program (1952) and the Algerian civil war against French colonialism (1962), which were the two spectacular events of the previous decades, there were still millions of Christians and Jews in north Africa and the Middle East, and relatively few people were willing to die in the name of the Quran. Even the earlier Palestinian terrorists, led by Arafat (1969), were more interested in getting a homeland than in Islam. None of these leaders cared much for Islamic orthodoxy. Nasser, Ben Bella and Arafat were not fighting in the name of Allah but in the name of self-determination and independence (and even socialism, religion's public enemy number one). The events that dramatically altered the ideological landscape were the oil crisis of 1973, that accidentally propelled the more conservative Arab countries (such as Saudi Arabia) to the forefront of international politics, and the Islamic revolution of Khomeini in Iran (1979), that offered a new ideological motivation for the many troubles of the Islamic world. SLowly but steadily the disease spread to the rest of the Islamic world: The Algerian civil war (1992), supported by Iran, the Taliban revolution in Afghanistan (1996), supported by Saudi Arabia, and the second Palestinian intifada (2000), led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad (that were religious institutions, unlike the original Palestinian Liberation Organization), introduced a new levels of ferocity inspired by Islam because they belonged to a new phase. The Christian powers, busy fighting each other in the Cold War, paid little attention to the radicalization of the Islamic world. This is the time when the exodus of non-Mulims became irreversible.
    The escalating faith in the letter of the Quran was paralleled by a combined population shift: 1. a population boom in the Islamic lands that pushed Muslims towards and against their non-Muslim neighbors in a way that never happened before; 2. a mass emigration of poor Muslims towards non-Muslim countries in search for work, resulting in the establishment of undesired Muslim communities well inside the non-Muslim world; 3. a global form of Islamic ethnic cleansing that has greatly reduced the number of non-Muslims living within the Islamic world. This third phenomenon ranged from the expulsion of Jews and Christians from Algeria in 1962 to the expulsion of Jews from Iraq during Saddam Hussein's tyranny to the mass exodus of Jews and Christians from Iran after the Islamic revolution to the ethnic cleansing of Buddhists carried out by the Taliban in Afghanistan to the current exodus of Christians from Iraq. When Pakistan was created, the percentage of Hindus was 24%: today it is less than 2%. (By contrast, India's Muslims have increased from 10% to 13% of the population). Christian churches are being burned on a monthly basis all over the Islamic world, from Egypt to Iraq. There are virtually no Jews left outside of Iran. There are 5,000 Jews left in Morocco, less than 100 in Algeria, Egypt and Iraq, and zero in Saudi Arabia (even in historically Jewish areas, ask Mohammed in person). The Islamic country with the largest population of Jews is Iran, with 18,000. These are lands where Jews even outnumbered Arabs in ancient times. (See World's Jewish population). These non-Muslim communities had a beneficial influence on the Islamic world because they reminded Muslims that there are other religions, with other values, and indirectly taught them religious tolerance. (In fact, the Arab world used to be more tolerant than the Christian world).
    Needless to say, this population shift has sent abroad the Muslims who are not strict about the Quran. Therefore the Muslims who still live within the Islamic world are the ones who tend to be more conservative and now they don't even have the example of non-Muslims to show them different religions. They are getting used to the idea that there is only one religion, and that the Quran is the only important book in the world. And they brainwash their children. So each generation is more fanatical than the previous one, even if they think that they are "moderate" Muslims (they are not moderate at all compared with the Muslims of five centuries ago).
    Thus the growing importance of the Quran. I doubt the Quran was ever so important for a Muslim in 1,400 years of Islam. I doubt that the Islamic world was ever dominated by the "culture" of the Arabian peninsula at any point in its history as it is today.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2006) Islam vs freedom of the press A small Danish newspaper published some cartoons that caricatured Mohammed, the founder of Islam. According to modern Islamic clerics, it is a sin (a mortal sin) to depict Mohammed, and of course it is a sin to make fun of him.
    Demonstrations against Denmark have been spreading throughout the Islamic world, with governments (not only fanatics) joining the choir of protests.
    The government of Denmark has replied that a democratic government cannot tell a newspaper what to print or not to print. This has only increased the violence of the protests.
    A number of newspapers from several western European countries (notably none from Britain) have reprinted the cartoons to show solidarity towards freedom of the press. That has only increased the violence of the protests. Protesters in Palestine shouted: "Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up". Basically, they advocated the extermination of the entire Danish people for the action committed by one Danish newspaper.
    To be fair, we do not know what percentage of the Muslim population is involved in these protests, but very few Muslims have spoken out "against" the protests. One (one) newspaper in the entire Islamic world has dared publish the cartoons, asking Muslims to be reasonable about the fact that these are just cartoons, and that Westerners routinely caricature everybody, including Jesus, the Pope and their own political leaders. The editor of that newspaper was fired the following day and now risks going to jail.
    Here is what the world has learned from this display of Islamic belligerence:
    • As far as the importance of religious subjects, the Islamic world is proceeding in the opposite direction from the rest of the world: religion matters less and less around the world, but more and more in the Islamic world (see The rise of the Quran).
    • Some Muslims have a unique way to create a war out of nothing. Then they blame it on everybody else except their own actions. (The other Muslims are not any better if they don't speak out against this violent "minority").
    • Westerners live in free societies, and they want to continue to live in free societies. Year after year, some Muslims prove to the West that this very simple concept is too difficult for Muslims to understand. We may be approaching the point where Westerners (and not only westerners) will stop trying to convey the message and will use Sharon's method (metaphorically if not physically): build a fence all around the Islamic world.
    • Incidents like this increase the world's xenophobia against Muslims. Paraphrasing a Danish citizen interviewed on television: "Muslims of the world: leave us alone. Go back to your countries and live the life you want to live, but let us live our lives the way we want to live them." This is the message that one hears more and more often from Portugal to the Philippines, from Australia to Malawi.
    • Westerners don't burn Egyptian flags if one Egyptian does something that Westerners condemn. It is scary to see Muslims burn Danish flags because of something that a Danish person did. This is precisely the worst image that Islam has around the world: stone-age people who still live according to tribal rules. (A few years ago a French newspaper published a portrait of Jesus, naked and wearing a condom, and a famous movie depicts Jesus as the lover of a prostitute: some Christians wrote letters of protest, but they didn't torch buildings and didn't demand the beheading of all French people).
    • Some Muslims have a unique way to turn a debate about different moral values into a debate about fact versus superstition. Muslims from different countries are comparing the cartoons that make fun of Mohammed to the theories that the Nazist extermination of Jews (the Holocaust) never took place. In other words: if the world does not believe in what Muslims believe, then Muslims feel free to stop believing in the science, history, mathematics and maybe even geography in which the world believes. (These Muslims are so ignorant they don't even know that the Danish are Christians, not Jews: an Iranian newspaper has promised to publish cartoons about the Holocaust in retaliation for the Danish cartoons about Mohammed. This ignorance is even funnier than the cartoons). A leader of the Danish Muslim community asks if Americans would be offended by cartoons making fun of the victims of September 11... If you want to "retaliate", why not make fun of Jesus or of the Pope, i.e. of the equivalent superstitions of the Christian world? Muslims have a unique (and truly terrifying) way of confusing facts (september 11 really happened, regardless of what is your religion) and superstition (Mohammed is a prophet only if you believe in the superstition that there is a God and this God had nothing better to do than speak to this citizen of Medina).
    • We care for the life of a living Danish (or Moroccan or Australian or Brazilian or Iraqi or...) citizen much more than we care for the status of an imaginary prophet. These Muslims care more for the status of the imaginary prophet than for the life of a living human being (Danish or Australian or Brazilian or Iraqi or...).
    • The reasoning by these Muslims is that something should be forbidden just because it offends millions of Muslims. Well, Islam is offensive to hundreds of millions of people (from France to Japan, from India to Russia) who read the Quran and were shocked by its philosophy, and it is particularly offensive to hundreds of millions of women who perceive being denied civil rights and even paradise by the Quran. Does this mean that Islam should be forbidden all over the world because it offends so many people?
    • Instead of the Islamic world solving its problem with Islam (the fact that Islam dominates their societies), the Islamic world is exporting the problem to the non-Islamic world. It is bad enough that the Islamic world lives under the dictatorship of Islam, but now these Muslims also want to export the dictatorship of Islam to non-Islamic countries.
    • According to these Muslims, from now on Islam will decide what the world (not just the Islamic world) can write, read and think: anything that Islam considers "offensive" must be forbidden, not only within the boundaries of the Islamic world but all over the planet (and presumably in every corner of the universe).
    • How is it possible that millions of Muslims have nothing more important to protest about than a religious superstition? Are these Muslims burning flags of their country to protest against the corruption and stupidity of their regimes? Are these Muslims burning copies of the Quran to protest against the miserable conditions in which their clerics make them live? How is it possible that these Muslims have nothing better to protest against than some cartoons published by a small newspaper in a small remote country? Days after the riots started a suicide bomber blew up 23 people in Pakistan: the Islamic world has an infinite number of problems to solve, but it chooses to focus only on the non-problems. Maybe that is a reason why the problems don't get solved.
    • One simple reason why there is no freedom of the press in the Islamic world, why Muslims get government-controlled newspapers and "news" channels such as Al Jazeera, is that, ultimately, that "is" what many of them want.
    • These Muslims who claim to have been offended by the cartoons would be more credible if they had protested when the Taliban destroyed (not just made fun of) two giant Buddhas in Afghanistan. Didn't that offend hundreds of millions of Buddhists (and of non-Buddhists too)? How many Muslims marched in the streets to protest against this act by the Taliban? How many Muslims burned Taliban flags in the streets? How many Muslims burned copies of the Quran to protest against the actions of the Quran-inspired Taliban?
    • Muslims claim that it is blasphemous to picture Mohammed, but never question why. Why is it blasphemous? (No, it is not in the Quran, see the P.S.) How can millions of people blindly believe something just because the clerics told them so? How can millions of people not wonder why? Why were all the portraits of Mohammed destroyed in the Islamic world? Why were all traces of Mohammed's life scientifically destroyed by Saudi Arabia? Why are Islamic clerics so afraid of showing the face of Mohammed? What is Islam afraid of? (If you want my opinion, and if you are not a fanatic Muslim, read Why are portraits of Mohammed banned?).
    • These same Muslims usually complain that they are always depicted as the culprit. Maybe it is because they never miss an opportunity to "be" the culprit. The day that the Islamic world produces great scientists and writers, instead of terrorists, dictators and rioting crowds, the world will be happy (very happy) to hail those scientists and writers.
    • Muslims have no sense of humour. This doesn't make Muslims more appealing to the rest of the world: who wants to mingle with people who may launch into an extermination campaign of you and your family and your entire nation if you or one of your relatives or one of your compatriots happens to do or say something that happens to offend them? (I recently tossed in the recycling bin my old copy of the Quran because i found a better copy at a library sale: does that mean that one billion Muslims are offended that a library was selling a Quran for one dollar and that i threw a copy of the Quran in the garbage? Do i want to have a Muslim neighbor, knowing that he may get offended by my ordinary actions?)
    • Muslims keep encouraging the rest of the world to study the Quran to learn about Islam. It is about time that Muslims start doing what they tell others to do: study the other religions. How many Muslims have read the Upanishad of Hinduism, the Buddhist scriptures or just the Christian Gospels? If Muslims studied the other religions, they would better understand why so many Muslims (and not so many Hindus, Buddhists or Christians) call for extermination of others out of the most trivial of matters.
    • Last but not least, most of the world had their own revolutions against organized religious superstitions. How many centuries will it take for Muslims to start their own revolution against their religious superstitions that have enslaved one billion brains?
    • Basically, the protests and burning of Danish flags are proving that the Danish cartoons were not just caricatures: they are very real. Right or wrong, this is what the world understood. It is up to one billion Muslims to prove that we understood wrong: march in the streets in support of the government of Denmark that defended the freedom of the press. That is how Islam can gain our respect.
    • What is going to be next month? Every month there is an issue with thousands of Muslims burning some kind of flags and demanding the extermination of this or that nation. The world is getting tired.
    A footnote: Europeans routinely accuse the USA of not knowing how to deal with the Islamic world. This incident will help clarify who knows and who does not know how to deal with the Islamic world. Maybe it is Europe that, so used to be the colonial power, has never learned how to deal with the Islamic world as an equal partner, whereas the USA, a former European colony, knows exactly how to.
    But please check the page of the Good News and look for "February 2006": the rest of the world is mainly moving towards peace, not war. And one of the best news is that several Muslim journalists risked their lives to condemn the Muslims who protested the cartoons (see below).

    P.S.

    Note that, technically speaking, the Quran (the book that Muslims obey) does not say that Mohammed cannot be depicted. The Quran prohibits idol worship (XIV: 35; XXII: 30) but it does not forbid making portraits: all it says is that a Muslim cannot worship them, not that one cannot make them. (So much so that for centuries Muslims published portraits of Mohammed in all sorts of books, which are preserved in libraries and museums all over the world). Nor does the Quran say that one should not make fun of Mohammed: there is no section of the Quran that prohibits sense of humour. Furthermore, the prohibition of idol worship applies to every object, which includes... the Quran itself: when a Muslim objects to a copy of the Quran being mistreated, the Muslim is performing idol worship, which is a mortal sin according to the Quran itself... These Muslims who feel "offended" don't realize how they have been brainwashed by the modern Islamic establishment to believe in things that were never part of their religion. They should indeed feel offended, not by some distant Danish newspapers but by their Islamic leaders. Instead of feeling offended they should just feel ashamed of their own gullibility.

    P.P.S.

    Note that the cartoons were published in september, and went mostly unnoticed by everybody. It was only months later that Egypt's foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit started talking about it. (Egyptians are very unhappy with their government, and their government never misses an opportunity to change the subject). Fanned by Al Jazeera's inflamatory coverage, the news spread to all Islamic countries and caused all the uproar. Without that foreign minister and (more importantly) without Al Jazeera's massive campaign, nobody (in the Islamic world or in Europe itself) would have noticed. Other governments that have domestic problems (such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran, not to mention terrorist groups such as the Taliban) joined in the protests. Then the protests spread to ordinary Muslims. But it should be obvious that these Muslims are simply being "used" by their governments... obvious to everybody except to these Muslims themselves. Again, these Muslims should be ashamed of their own gullibility.

    P.P.P.S.

    Last but not least, note that someone did speak up in the Islamic world. (See this article). Eleven journalists in five Islamic countries accused the Muslims of everything i have written in this article. The Jordanian journalist Jihad Momani wrote: "What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras, or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony?" The Yemeni journalist Muhammad al-Assadi wrote: "Muslims had an opportunity to educate the world about the merits of the Prophet Muhammad and the peacefulness of the religion he had come with... Muslims know how to lose, better than how to use, opportunities." The Egyptian writer Said al-Ashmawy said: "With the Islamization of the society, the list of taboos has been increasing daily. You should not write about religion. You should not write about politics or women. Then what is left?" The sad news, of course, is that they have all been suspended or even arrested for defaming Islam. Even more important was a statement (largely ignored by the Arab news channels: Aljazeera.com deleted the webpage where it originally reported it) from eleven well-known religious leaders of Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Indonesia, Egypt, India and the USA: "We appeal to all Muslims to exercise self-restraint in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Violent reactions can lead to our isolation from the global dialogue." (See this article). The Egyptian journalist Adel Hammoude lamented that: "Egyptians do not go out on the street in protest about what happened in the case of the sinking ferry or against corruption". In countries where one gets killed for the slightest offense, these words count ten times more than anything that has been written in Western media. We honor the courage of these Muslims.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2006) Why are portraits of Mohammed banned? The outrage over the Danish cartoons of Islam's founder Mohammed (see Saudi Arabia tells Europeans what to publish), which is escalating to ridiculous proportions due to the fanaticism of some Muslims and (mainly) the intolerance of the regimes of the Islamic world, is only partially due to the ironic content of the cartoons. The real crux of the matter is that Islam forbids any representation of Mohammed. Needless to say, the rest of the world wonders why there is such a ban. What is the secret all about? What does Islam have to hide?
    Explanations vary, but my favorite is based on the fact that the destruction of anything related to Mohammed has increased dramatically after the Arabs decided that Jews are evil. Portraits of Mohammed were common in ancient times (at least two are still visible in Istanbul's museum, and many are visible in medieval manuscripts preserved in libraries of Europe). It was only during the last few decades that Islamic clerics from Saudi Arabia (and recently from Iran and Afghanistan) became so strict about forbidding any representation of Mohammed, and this coincided with their campaign against the Jews.
    In my opinion these Islamic clerics are trying to hide a simple truth: that some evidence points towards Mohammed being a Jew. See my old article: Unspeakable Islamic terrorism. The more we know about Mohammed, the way he looked and the way he lived, the more he looks like a Jew and not like an Arab. Needless to say, for that article i have received death threats from some Muslims (the ones who never miss an opportunity to prove that Islam is not about peace at all).
    The Quran prohibits idol worship (XIV: 35; XXII: 30) but it does not forbid making portraits: all it says is that a Muslim (a Muslim) cannot worship them, not that one cannot make them. So much so that for centuries Muslims published portraits of Mohammed in all sorts of books. (And the Quran doesn't say anything about non-Muslims).
    Whether my suspicion is correct or not (i guess i will never be able to prove it, because all the evidence has been destroyed), the "owners" of the Islamic religion have their own agenda, and need to hide the face of Mohammed. What is shocking is that hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world let these clerics brainwash them, and then side with the clerics, instead of rebelling against them.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (January 2006) Al Jazeera on the Palestinian elections. I have been privileged with meeting a Palestinian dissident (a Palestinian who sides with Israel on most political issues). Needless to say, he cannot disclose his identity or would be immediately killed (such is the freedom of speech in the Islamic world). He described to me how Al Jazeera covered the Palestinian elections. Fearing a victory of the pro-USA elements, Al Jazeera consistently derided the Palestinian elections as a farce. Only when it turned out that the anti-USA party Hamas won the elections did Al Jazeera change tone and a) recognize the elections as free and fair, and b) demand that the rest of the world recognizes them. Until the previous day, Al Jazeera had a) not recognized the elections as free or fair, and b) demanded the rest of the world did not recognize them.
    • Al Jazeera emphasized that the majority of Palestinians are excluded from voting because they live in exile. This statement is technically true and infuriates the Arab masses. But Al Jazeera fails to emphasize that the Palestinians who do vote are among the very few Arabs who are allowed to vote. Previously to the invasion of Iraq by the USA, the only Arabs who were allowed to vote in free elections were the Arabs living in Israel, the USA and Western Europe. After the USA invasion of Iraq, some Arabs can finally vote in free elections in their own countries (namely Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese). All the other Arabs who still live in their own countries are not allowed to vote in free elections. Thus the fact of living in exile is not relevant: Arabs who do not live in exile cannot vote in free elections. Another aspect that Al Jazeera hides is that no Arab leader has even asked for the right of Jewish refugees to return to their countries: millions of Jews were forced to leave Egypt Iraq, Iran, Yemen and other Arab countries (only less than 50,000 Jews remain in the Islamic world). In fact there might be more Jewish refugees than Palestinian refugees. The difference is that Jewish refugees are given a nice home by the Jewish state of Israel, whereas Palestinians refugees are shunned by all Arab countries. So Al Jazeera's statement is technically correct but obviously its purpose is only to infuriate the Arab masses with a distorted view of the facts and to produce suicide bombers for the terrorists.
    • Al Jazeera emphasized that the Palestinians who are voting are living under Israeli military occupation. Al Jazeera manages to present this simple fact (that tells a very important truth) in a way that completely changes its meaning: the only Arabs who have obtained the right to vote are the Arabs who lived under foreign military occupation. It should be something for Arabs to meditate on, and, incidentally, for which to be grateful to Israel. If someone brings you a gift, do you shoot him or do you thank him? But Al Jazeera manages to present the right to vote as something terrible. The way Al Jazeera presents the fact that only Arabs under military occupation are allowed to vote is meant to simply produce more suicide bombers not to make Arabs admire Israel and revolt against their own tyrannical regimes.
    • Al Jazeera equated the free elections in Iraq that yielded an Islamic majority (hardly what the USA hoped for) with the Syrian-controlled elections in Lebanon that yielded a pro-Syrian majority. Al Jazeera equated the free elections in Palestine that yielded a victory by Hamas (Israel's worst enemy) with the old farces in Lebanon that always yielded the government that Syria wanted. One has to wonder how stupid the Al Jazeera viewer must be to consider that one election under military occupation is as good as any other: if one man protects you with a gun and another one robs you with a gun, are they both doing the same thing to you just because they are both holding a gun?
    • Al Jazeera routinely refers to the Jewish settlers in the West Bank as colonists, invaders, occupiers, etc. Al Jazeera rarely explains to its viewers why those settlers live there. In fact, most Arabs have no idea why Palestine is called "Palestine" (it was the Roman name for the land of the Jews). Most Arabs have no idea that there never was a Palestinian state under the various Arab and Turkish empires. The Arab masses are left with the impression that "Palestinian people" is an expression that makes perfect sense, whereas Israel does not make any sense in Palestine.
    • Al Jazeera routinely omits to mention the many places in the Arab world where free elections are NOT allowed. Despite the terrible conditions in which they live, the Palestinians managed to stage wonderful democratic elections. Again, Al Jazeera does not mention that the only Arabs who manage to stage wonderful democratic elections are those under military occupation. Just a coincidence? How come Libyans, Saudis, Syrians and Sudanese cannot stage the same wonderful democratic elections? Does it take a genius to answer such a simple question? Because all Arab regimes were and are much worse for the Arab people than Israel and the USA. Arab regimes treat their own people worse than Israel treats Palestinians (and infinitely worse than the USA treats the Iraqis). Palestinians and Iraqis have NEVER been treated so fairly in modern times (the Palestinians weren't even considered a people when they were subjects of other Arab states).
    • Al Jazeera emphasized that Hamas supported a Christian Palestinian candidate. This is supposed to be a sign of how open-minded the Arab world can be. Christians are supposed to be grateful that, in the homeland of Christianity, one (one) Christian was allowed to stand for election. How would Al Jazeera comment a Christian invasion of Saudi Arabia after which Christians allowed one (one) Muslim to stand for election? As religious tolerance?
    • Al Jazeera basically told the Arab people that Fatah lost the elections because it was corrupt. Isn't that was Israel said all the time? Isn't that the very season that Israel stopped dealing with Arafat? Now the Arab masses finally hear in Arabic what the rest of the world has always known. Do the viewers of Al Jazeera realize that the same may be true of everything else, that Al Jazeera is the last organ to admit the obvious truths that Israel and the USA keep repeating? Al Jazeera's insistence on defending the most corrupt Arab regimes is only meant to produce suicide bombers. When the need has disappeared for other reasons, then Al Jazeera has no problem telling its viewers the truth. (Of course, Al Jazeera never adds "...as Israel always told us").
    • Al Jazeera comically claims that the USA media are biased. Al Jazeera rarely explains which (of the thousands of USA media) would be biased, but almost always uses USA or British sources (New York Times, BBC News, Michael Moore, assorted British opposition figures) to prove its anti-USA points: if the "USA media" (whatever than means) are biased, why does Al Jazeera find so much truth in their articles?
    • Al Jazeera keeps repeating the mantra that USA policy is shaped by Israel via powerful lobbies such as AIPAC and the Christian "Zionists" (Arabs love the term "zionist"). Not a word, of course, about the much more powerful Arab lobbies that are very close to the Bush family and to all the companies of the Dick Cheney mafia.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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