[lit-ideas] Re: Islam vs the Islamists

  • From: "Lawrence Helm"<lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 23 Jun 2007 15:24:44 +0000

Is it significant in some way that Nations with huge Islamic populations like 
India and Indonesia are not in the forefront of Islamic Radicalism? Is it 
significant that they have a great number who are not Radicals? 
1. In the first place, our war against Islamism, aka terrorism, aka radical 
Islam, etc had a beginning and is growing. The Arabs have claimed it with some 
justification because of the Saudi Wahhabis, the Egyptian (they like to think 
of themselves as Arab) Muslim Brothers, Sayyid Qutb and a host of others. 
2. Iranian Islamism had its beginning in Iran and did extend itself into 
Lebanon (something Phil blithely refers to as a "civil war"), but it hasn’t 
grown to the extent that Khomeini hoped it would. He imagined an Islamic 
revolution, but the war with Iraq hampered his plans and then he died.
3. So when we concern ourselves with a "Moderate" backlash against Islamism, we 
are of course concerned about the Arab and Persian radicals. Their nations are 
the localities that have been threatening the rest of the world. These are the 
places where there has been an dearth of Moderates. Moderates have not hampered 
the growth of radical Islam in these regions. Quite the contrary. Radical Islam 
has rather effectively shut the mouths of the Moderates 
4. It misunderstands the Radical Islamist menace to create a new paradigm, one 
in which the non-radicals predominate, or at least possess a significant 
presences. We are not at war with a quantitative construction. We are at war 
with real radicals who have declared war against us and are bent upon carrying 
it out. Moderates are scarce in the Arab and Persian centers of Radical Islam. 
5. Well, what of the other regions? Aren’t the moderates in places like India 
and Indonesia in a position to counter Radical Islam in Arabia and Persia? 
Aren’t they rolling it back? And even if they aren’t rolling it back, aren’t 
they at least maintaining a secure Moderate presence. Does Indonesia have to 
worry about Islamic Radicalism?
5.a. http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/000254.php This article is entitled 
"Radical Islam's inroads in Indonesia" In it Endy M. Bayuni of the Jakarta Post 
is quoted as saying, "Political Islam has been making significant inroads ever 
since Indonesia embarked on democracy in 1998. To the casual observer, the 
specter of Islamist political forces overrunning secular parties in democratic 
elections seems all too real in a country where nearly 90 percent of its 220 
million people are Muslims." The Radicals don’t have perfectly smooth sailing 
in Indonesia, but their numbers and influence is increasing. 
5.b. http://jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=23417 This 
article describes the bombing of Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel in August of 2003. 
The article goes on to discuss the pan-border Jemaah Islamiya (JI, literally 
"Islamic Communities") network that seems to have made in-roads into Indonesia.
5.6. http://www.indonesiamatters.com/385/nu-mosques-subverted/ This is an 
Indonesian Blog which among other things refers to the takeover of Indonesia 
Mosques by Fundamentalists: "Recently hundreds of mosques built by NU people 
have been taken over by fundamentalist groups. The reason they give is that 
this is a house of god. They even say that the teachings of the NU are 
6. My reference to Malcom Kerr was not a "conclusion" as Phil states but a 
separate comment; something that should be of interest to anyone taking an 
academic position in a University in an Islamic nation in which Radical Islam 
is making significant inroads. Phil suggests that Kerr was somehow caught up in 
a shootout between rival factions in a civil war. That isn’t the case. He was 
assassinated by Islamists. 
6.a. As Martin Kramer writes, Kerr was the son of AUB, a founder and past 
president of MESA, a supporter of Arab causes . . .. "In it [his inaugural 
address in Beirut], he pointed to the evolution of AUB ‘from a university 
offering Western culture to the Arabs, to one that promotes both Western and 
Arab cultures and implicitly looks for a symbolic relation between them, in the 
best tradition of European Orientalism.’ In 1984, Kerr was gunned down outside 
his office, by assassins who must have seen this symbiosis and its best 
tradition as forms fo imperialism." 
6.b. Here is a NYT article reporting Kerr’s assassination: 
The president of the American University of Beirut, Malcolm H. Kerr, was killed 
here today when unidentified gunmen fired two bullets into his head while he 
was walking to his office. Soon after the killing of the 52-year- old educator, 
a male caller telephoned the Beirut office of Agence France- Presse and said 
the slaying was the work of Islamic Holy War - supposedly a pro-Iranian 
underground group. Callers saying they were from Islamic Holy War took 
responsibility for bombing the American Emb...
January 19, 1984 World News
6.c. This was an editorial at the time, presumably from the NYT, but I’m not 
sure: More Murder in Beirut
In the murk that is Lebanon, there is a danger that the murder of yet another 
American might be seen as just so much more savagery. But the killing of 
Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University of Beirut, is a particularly 
barbaric challenge. Far from qualifying as a fanatic's "nationalist" gesture, 
it is a grave assault on civilization everywhere. It is from 
6.d. Here is a Time Magazine article of Kerr’s assassination: 
The writer of the article writes that Kerr "was shot dead by two unknown 
gunmen, apparently for no reason except that he was an American." Well, Phil 
might take comfort in that.
Lawrence Helm
San Jacinto

------------Original Message------------
From: "Phil Enns" <phil.enns@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Sat, Jun-23-2007 3:41 AM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Islam vs the Islamists
Lawrence Helm wrote:
"It is "fairly obvious" to me that every time someone produces a lot
of "moderates" to refute me they find them either in the United States
or some other place outside of the Middle East."
I do apologize for giving the largest Muslim country in the world as
an example of where one might find moderates actively working against
extremists.  What was I thinking?  For future reference, I take it
that you would prefer discussion of the lack of moderates in Islam to
focus solely on Iran and Saudi Arabia?
"As to Indonesia ...if there is a trend in regard to Moderates vs
Radicals, it is against the former and in favor of the latter."
Yes, well don't let me bother that perfectly usable preconception of
yours with pesky facts.  I like your use of the word 'trend'.  It is
so wonderfully vague while giving the impression of being precise.

Lawrence concludes:
"Congratulations on your appointment, but don't overestimate the
moderation you believe is there.  Remember what happened to Malcom
Marvelous!  Instead of seeing my appointment as a sign of moderate
Muslims fighting back against extremism, you bring up a murder from
Lebanon at the height of its civil war.
For the record, I am well aware of the risks but some of us think it
important to respond when moderate Muslims reach out.
And we miss the tropics.  Particularly fresh Mangoes and Guava.

Phil Enns

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