Saturday, November 04, 2006

War and Peace: Dialogue with a Good Muslim

War and Dialogue with the Muslim World

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a Muslim and the general manager of Arab news channel, Al-Arabiya has said:
It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.
Yesterday’s post, which involved a guest blog by a good Muslim from the beautiful country of Lebanon, Tarek El Khatib, author of the blog rambling and blabbering, evidently aroused much interest, apparently in the whole world. It was a record traffic day for this blog, which has been increasing meteorically in traffic anyway.

I think the rapid rise in traffic for this blog is due to the exact attempt to deliver its name—truth. Truth is unusual. Truth is necessary for winning wars and gaining peace. Truth is lacking in most places because of the fear of retribution, and even of being unpopular. Many of my views are unpopular. I oppose much of the great continent of Europe in my views, 99% of the United Nations, much of the Arab world, and half of my own country. Plus, I oppose even half of the half of my country that agrees with me, when they are wrong too.

Am I always right? Yes. What, you expect me to be humble? Good luck.

I think one reason for the interest in yesterday’s post is that there are many good people in the world. Any sign of hope is much appreciated. We hunger for peace, and we want there to be good Muslims in the world. Well, I found one. He is a young man much like any young man in the world, just trying to succeed in life, have a little fun, and contribute his part for the good of society. This might not be remarkable except that he is a practicing Muslim, and willing to share his views about terrorism and Israel and his part of the world. Again, even this might not be remarkable, except that I am willing to tell this dear young man my version of the truth and engage him as he reacts.

So far, he has reacted with dignity. I know he will continue in the same vein. He truly is a good person, I have no doubt about that. Still, it is not enough, in our times, just to be good. Good people now are confronted with evil. When evil exists, good people must do something. Tarek is doing his part by being open, honest, and forthcoming. My readers are doing their part by considering what we say.

We await the Islamic world’s reaction to the West’s disappointment in them. Are they going to continue strapping on bombs and killing innocents, or turn Islam into a true religion of peace?

This is not an exhibition. This is not a show. This is our lives.

Tyk’s Comments on Yesterday’s Post

Hey Rock... Wow, very honored and touched by what you said already...

Listen, I love your reaction about what you think I am, i.e. an open minded Muslim, who will not send you anthrax or a bomb for disagreeing with, but I promise, MOST Muslims are moderate. It's because of the media and the attention that you only hear about al-Qaeda and about Iraqis ripping each other open and all the sort... You never hear about anything happening in Singapore or Malaysia, which are fully Muslim nations that integrated in Eastern Asia... You never hear anything about Morocco or Tunisia or how they're developing human rights and democracies while raising their standards of living...

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That's the problem. We have a communication problem and the West only sees the bad side of Arabs and Muslims, but ask people who have actually been to the Arab, Muslim worlds, or the Middle East what they think of what they've seen. Especially in Lebanon (which has probably the highest percentage of Christians in the Arab world). It's got beautiful nature and an amazing nightlife, with clubbing, drinking, pubs, bars, lovely restaurants and cafes... I've actually met Americans here who told me about curfews in places like Boston where clubs have to close at 3 whereas here in Lebanon there are clubs that don't get packed until 3-4... And with the exception of Saudi Arabia and some parts of some Arab countries, the countries ARE NOT DESERTS where women are covered from top to bottom and where some kind of hardline Zarqawi style police walk around beating up people who are not fundamentalist terrorists...

MOST OF THE ARAB AND MUSLIM WORLD ARE AGAINST OSAMA BIN LADEN. There are Sheikhs that have made fatwas (religious decrees) about how it is Islamically wrong to commit suicide attacks.

The thing is, UNFORTUNATELY, there are a bunch of people who were probably abused during their childhood or who have too much spicy food or for whatever reason ended being the fanatics that they are and again UNFORTUNATELY all what you hear is about these people and their murders and their terror plots, and again UNFORTUNATELY they associate and justify themselves Islamically with verses from the Quran playing in the background and the name of Allah hung behind their death announcements, and so people end up inclined to believe that Muslims are terrorists or that they support the killing of innocent children or whatever...

Rock you actually said something about Islam being currently used to spread hatred, and I hope I gave you a deeper perspective on things... We'll chat some more and I'll give you closer looks about how things function here and why things end up the way they are on this side of the globe...


Again, thanks a lot for your post, and you're more than welcome in Lebanon anytime!!!!

Rock’s Response

Tyk, thanks for the welcome, and thanks again for your comments, and for the lovely pictures of Lebanon I took from your blog and put up in yesterday’s post. Lebanon indeed is a gorgeous country. You deserve peace in your land. I am deeply honored and grateful for your kindness, openness, and willingness to be forthcoming.

All I can say is I hope you are right. I’d like to believe you when you say that most Muslims are against Osama bin Laden and terrorism. If this is true, then yes, we do have a communication problem. You make valid points about all the peaceful Muslim countries you describe. This should get more publicity, so your words are a good start. This is a good thing. However …

I don’t expect you to answer this, Tyk, but I’ll simply point out that most of the world’s major problems today seem to be connected with Muslims. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or get defensive. I take you at your word and believe you are reporting your sincere beliefs that the majority of Muslims are peace loving.

I don’t see it this way—yes, because of the reporting, but also because of the actual videos I see on TV, and the breadth of their examples, and the fact that most major problems today in the world, again, seem connected with Islam.

What We Need from Muslims

I’m going to get specific in a minute, but let me preface this with saying that you and your friends, Tyk, it seems, and Muslims like you, are important to the world. Yes, we do need to hear more from you. In addition, we need people like you, and more important, Muslim leaders, to speak out against terrorism and hatred for the West. I sense that you are a young man of good will. I think we need this. It is not enough for Muslims just to avoid being terrorists. It is not enough for Muslims just to avoid supporting suicide bombers. Good Muslims must also, I believe, speak out against hatred for the West.

Hatred for the West

I realize that a portion of the Muslim community, in my estimation a large portion, millions, hates the West. Part of the reason, I perceive, why they hate the West is exactly one of the things you promote as a positive about Lebanon. The clubbing, the pubs, the partying. Fundamentalist Islam, it seems to me, wants to control family life and women to preserve their idea of family values. I can even understand this desire.

We have our own fundamentalists who want to do the same. Mormons, fundamentalist Christians, Orthodox Jews, and so on. These people also have set ideas about family life, rituals, how women should dress and behave, who is the head of the family, even who is going to heaven and so on. There is even some residual anti-Semitism in some quarters, as in fundamentalist Islam. There is, too, a desire to “convert the world” to their way of believing, with some sects. Many of these people would consider Las Vegas, for example, to be the decadent symbol of a crumbling society.

I was born and raised a Catholic. At one point in my life I was a true believer and I even would avert my eyes during the sexy parts of James Bond movies. I have left my “fundamentalist” past over the years, but I still remember how it felt to be that way. I still retain, as you know, my belief in God, though I have expanded this to include most religions, except Islam, and added New Age beliefs.

My point is, I can empathize with a fundamentalist’s desire to have an orderly world, and an orderly progression to the afterlife. I can understand the hope for an intact family with common values. I can comprehend wanting my girlfriend or wife, and my sister, to be “pure.”

I might go to Las Vegas and enjoy the decadence, for example, but I still don’t want to become a part of it. I don’t want my family to become strippers or prostitutes (but, as Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”).

The difference, though, between our fundamentalists, or my lingering traditionalist feelings, and fundamentalist Muslims, though, is a matter of degree. The fundamentalist Muslim hates. He/she wants Christians, Jews, all infidels, dead. He wants Israel off the map. She wants Israeli’s driven to the sea. She is willing to strap on an explosive vest and murder innocent people out for a night of “clubbing.”

Let me be specific:

Examples of Muslim Attacks

7 March, 2006 Varanasi bombings. An attack attributed to Lashkar-e-Toiba by Uttar Pradesh government officials, over 28 killed and over 100 injured, in a series of attacks in the Sankath Mochan Hanuman temple and Cantonment Railway Station in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi.

9 November 2005 - 2005 Amman bombings. Over 60 killed and 115 injured, in a series of coordinated suicide attacks on hotels in Amman, Jordan. Four attackers including a husband and wife team were involved.

29 October 2005 Delhi bombings. Over 60 killed and over 180 injured in a series of three attacks in crowded markets and a bus, just 2 days before the Diwali festival.

23 July 2005 - Bomb attacks at Sharm el-Sheikh an Egyptian resort city, at least 64 people killed.

7 July 2005 - Multiple bombings in London Underground, 53 killed by four suicide bombers. Nearly 700 injured.

4 February 2005 - Muslim militants attacked the Christian community in Demsa, Nigeria, killing 36 people, destroying property and displacing an additional 3000 people.

3 September 2004 - Approximately 344 civilians including 186 children, are massacred during the Beslan school hostage crisis by Chechen Islamic Terrorists or "Chechen Separatists".

11 March 2004 - Multiple bombings, Madrid bombings, on trains near Madrid, Spain. 191 killed, 1460 injured. (alleged link to Al-Qaeda).

16 May 2004- Casablanca Attacks - 4 simultaneous attacks in Casablanca killing 33 civilians (mostly Moroccans) carried out by Salafaia Jihadia.

12 October 2002 - Bombing in Bali nightclub, 202 killed, 300 injured.

24 September 2002 – Machine Gun attack on Hindu temple in Ahmedabad, India. 31 dead, 86 injured.

7 May 2002 - Bombing in al-Arbaa, Algeria. 49 dead, 117 injured.

9 March 2002 - Café suicide bombing in Jerusalem; 11 killed, 54 injured.

3 March 2002 - Suicide bomb attack on a Passover. Seder in a Hotel in Netanya, Israel. 29 dead, 133 injured

13 December 2001-Suicide attack on India's parliament in New Delhi. Aimed at eliminating the top leadership of India and causing anarchy in the country. Allegedly done by Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists organizations, Jaish-E-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba.

September 11, 2001 attacks, 4 planes hijacked and crashed into World Trade Center and The Pentagon by 19 hijackers. Nearly 3000 dead.

The USS Cole bombing was a suicide bombing attack against the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) on October 12, 2000 while it was harbored in the Yemeni port of Aden. 17 sailors were killed.

7 August 1998 - 1998 United States embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. 224 dead. 4000+ injured.

25 June 1996 - Khobar Towers bombing, 20 killed, 372 wounded.

26 February 1993 - World Trade Center bombing, 6 killed.

April 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing, in Beirut, Lebanon. 63 killed.

According to statistics of the National Counterterrorism Center, a national government organization of the United States, Islamic extremism was responsible for approximately 57% of terrorist fatalities and 61% of woundings in 2004 and early 2005, where a terrorist perpetrator type could be specified. Extremist acts have included airline hijacking, beheading, kidnapping, assassination, and suicide bombing. Terrorist threats have included fatwas and death threats. Both Muslims and non-Muslims have been among the targets and victims.

Some terrorist activities committed by Muslims do not fall into the category of Islamic extremist terrorism: Nationalist and separatist organizations in the Muslim world often derive inspiration from secular ideologies. These are not well described as either Islamic extremist or Islamist.

See Extremist Terrorism.

Muslim attitudes towards terrorism

In the parliamentary election of January 2006, 57% of Palestinians voted for Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, United States, Canada, and the European Union and responsible for a number of attacks against Israeli civilians. Observers are divided over whether the election results represent support for the organization's tactics, support for the organization's social programs, or dissatisfaction with the previous government which was widely seen as corrupt and incompetent. A public opinion survey released following the election, indicated that nearly three quarters of Palestinians believe that Hamas should change its policy regarding the destruction of Israel and 84% of Palestinians support a peace agreement with Israel. Among Hamas voters, 73% of respondents supported a peace agreement with Israel. However Hamas has ruled out removing the clause in its constitution which demands the destruction of Israel.

A 2005 Pew Research study that involved 17,000 people in 17 countries showed support for terrorism was declining in the Muslim world along with a growing belief that Islamic extremism represents a threat to those countries.

A Daily Telegraph survey showed that 6% of British Muslims fully supported the July 2005 bombings in the London Underground.

A 2004 Pew survey revealed that Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%), Jordan (55%) and Morocco (45%). In Turkey as many as 31% say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable.

The Free Muslims Coalition rallied against terror, stating that they wanted to send "a message to radical Muslims and supporters of terrorism that we reject them and that we will defeat them."

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a Muslim and the general manager of Arab news channel, Al-Arabiya has said:
It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.
Statistics compiled by the United States government's Counterterrorism Center present a more complicated picture: of known and specified terrorist incidents from the beginning of 2004 through the first quarter of 2005, slightly more than half of the fatalities were attributed to Islamic extremists but a majority of over-all incidents were considered of either "unknown/unspecified" or a secular political nature. The vast majority of the "unknown/unspecified" terrorism fatalities did however happen in Islamic regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or in regions where Islam is otherwise involved in conflicts such as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, southern Thailand and Kashmir.The methodology employed by the Center is sometimes disputed.

Iranian Ayatollah Ozma Seyyed Yousef Sanei issued a fatwa (ruling) that suicide attacks against civilians are legitimate only in the context of war. The ruling did not say whether other types of attacks against civilians are justified outside of the context of war, nor whether Jihad is included in Sanei's definition of war.

On the other hand, Fethullah Gulen, a prominent Turkish Islamic scholar, has claimed that "a real Muslim," who understood Islam in every aspect, could not be a terrorist. There are several, if not many, other people with similar points of view such as Karen Armstrong, and Prof. Ahmet Akgunduz, and Harun Yahya.


So, Tyk, the conclusions are uncertain. You are probably right, and I’ve learned a lot by researching this issue. There are millions of Osama lovers among Muslims, it seems, but also millions of peace loving Muslims like you.

I believe Islam needs a centralized kind of structure and a reformation. I don’t think good Muslims like you will be effective in countering the Islamic world’s bad press until and if the trouble spots in the world associated with Muslims go away.

Questions for the Islamic Community

Why can’t more Muslims speak out, as you have done Tyk? Why doesn’t Islam reform itself? Why won’t Islam let Israel exist in peace? Why do so many Muslims want to take over the world and impose Sharia? Why is much of the Islamic world governed by primitive tribalism and hatred?

These are tough questions. I can understand how difficult it is to answer them.

Thank You Tarek

You are doing your part for goodness in the world, and I am grateful for this. I just don’t know what is the answer for Muslims who choose to hate. I continue to believe that forums like this are a start, and people like you speaking out is a beginning.

This is the hope.

Truth, Love and Obligation

Unfortunately, war sometimes is the only alternative. When 3,000 of your fellow citizens are murdered, when young families are murdered, when teenagers out for a night on the town are blown up, something must be done.

Who will be stronger? People like you? The United States and Israel? Or, the terrorists? Or, their enablers, like most of Europe, pacifists, and Democrats?

I know you probably will continue to disagree with some of my conclusions. We will disagree about Israel. Still, I appreciate you for just being you. You do count. You do matter. For being a good Muslim with love in your heart, I thank you, and I believe most of America thanks you. We send our love to all good Muslims in the world.

For you and for us, though, there are difficult choices to be made, and much work to be done.


(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)

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Don Matterhorn said...

50 years on and still no solution! Diplomacy has failed. The use of force - also didn't solve the problem.
Here's a new proposal how to end the war in the Middle East: (

caliibre said...

Nice blog... Just a small technical correction regarding Tyk's comments on "yesterday's post"... "You never hear about anything happening in Singapore or Malaysia, which are fully Muslim nations that integrated in Eastern Asia..." Firstly Singapore is not by any stretch of the imagination a Muslim nation and (I'm not trying to be pedantic, howevever) it is actualy in 'South East Asia'. More importantly perhaps can I suggest that Tyk get hold of a great book written by Malaysian Muslim 'realist', Syed Akbar Ali, called "Malaysia And The Club of... DOOM".

Unfortunately there is a growing Islamist (or perhaps more accurately Arabization) problem in Malaysia today. Not a lot is reported as Malaysia does not have a free press.

Ric (caliibre)

caliibre said...

Regarding Tyks' comment, "You never hear about anything happening in Singapore or Malaysia, which are fully Muslim nations that integrated in Eastern Asia..."

Sorry, however Singapore is not by any stretch of the imagination a Muslim country and it is in South East Asia (not to be pedantic).

More importantly Tyk should try to get hold oh a great book by Malaysian Muslim 'realist' Syed Akbar Ali called "Malaysia And The Club of... DOOM" which explains the problems emerging in Malaysia because of the growing Islamist movement, or probably more correctly, the incressing trend towards Arabization of the indigenous Malay population.