The Daily Mail, whose coverage of the Paris atrocity has been outstanding, reports that there have been at least three incidents of “revenge” attacks overnight. The attacks have focused on mosques and a kebab shop rather than on actual Muslims.
The desire to lash out at the symbols of Islam (and a kebab shop) makes sense in the wake of the atrocity; but it actually reflects the correct perception that the political class is incapable of anything beyond in the moment police work and platitudes as to how the Charlie Hebdo attack had nothing to do with Islam. All of which is an indication that the political classes don’t have a clue what to do about terrorism and it roots in Islam.
This is largely because the political classes are in a state of deep denial as to what might be termed the root causes of Islamic terror. Here’s a hint – it is Islam and at its very root, the Koran.
Assorted “far right” commentators have taken the time to read the Koran and have been shocked at what it contains. Understanding the texture of the Koran requires a bit of knowledge of Mohammed’s story and how that influenced the early Mecca portion of the Koran and the later, much more violent, Medina surah. (A quick guide can be found here.) The “death to the unbelievers” portions are generally from the later period.
I argued yesterday that Islam is not a religion. It is, however, a political cult based upon a willingness to spread its power by the sword. Jihad is not a peaceful inner struggle, it is a tactic with the strategic goal of converting or killing unbelievers. (And for all those ahistorical dimwits out there moaning about how Christians have killed for their faith, find a single gospel story where Jesus exhorted the faithful to murder “unbelievers”. You won’t.)
Against this view are arrayed a good deal of scholarship which suggest the admonitions of Allah through his prophet were situation specific and the Juden haus of the Koran was directed at specific tribes of obstinate Jews who got in the way of the spread of Islam. Which may very well be true, but the first thing a serious approach to Islamic terror needs to recognize is that this liberal interpretation of Islam is not what drives the terrorists.
One would think that would be obvious, but listening to the great and good exonerate Islam at large for the Paris atrocity it becomes obvious they are willfully blind to the interpretation of the Koran which fuels Islamic terror. So long as the political class takes this Pollyanna approach there is not the slightest chance Islamic terror will be taken seriously enough to be defeated.
Rather than taking the mildest, most liberal, construction of the Koran, politicians and opinion leaders need to look at the darkest, nastiest, most brutal interpretation which, in fact, drives the lone wolves, the wolf packs and outfits like IS and Hamas. It is that dark version of Islam which implies a never ending war, mandated by God, until the Peace of Submission encompasses the entire world.
Armed with that understanding, the political class will be able to intellectually, and eventually tactically, separate the sheep from the goats. Understanding the dark, violent, side of Islam is the only way to beat Islamic terrorists. And to reach that understanding, the political class will have to actually learn some history and read within the Wahabbi and Safalist traditions. When they do they will discover that Islam is not, by the lights of its terrorist theologians, a religion so much as a complete tactical guide for the forceful conversion of all non-Muslims.
Happy clappy, kumbaya approaches to Islam which have so far characterized the Western elite’s limited engagement with the problem, rest on the presumption that only a tiny minority of Muslims accept the dark vision of Islam triumphant by the sword. To address Islamic terror that presumption needs to be tested against reality.
There is a fair bit of survey research which suggests that Muslims in Middle Eastern and European countries are broadly supportive of sharia law. A significant minority indicate support for the bloodier forms of jihad including IS and Hamas. Digging into this support will identify the sources of these profoundly anti-democratic views.
A root cause is just that: a cause to which specific acts of terror and support for terror can be traced. For example, it may well turn out that the Paris murderers were influenced by a specific imam, or a specific book or website. And there is where the pushback needs to happen.
Randomly bombing kabab shops will do nothing to address the roots of Islamic terrorism. Deporting radical imams, closing Islamic bookshops which sell hate literature and shutting down Islamic websites which support violent jihad are all easily justified and potentially effective ways of countering radical Islam.
As importantly, creating a chilly climate for Islamists is the least Western societies can do to protect themselves. Ending immigration from Muslim nations without positive security and cultural vetting – which will, because of the resources required, slow immigration to a trickle – is a necessary first step. Prohibiting the construction of mosques on the basis that they are political rather than religious buildings is another useful step. Cancelling the so called “reasonable accommodation” provisions which create gender segregation and allow self ghettoization should make Western countries less attractive.
Creating a hostile environment for Islamic terrorists will, necessarily, create a somewhat unpleasant environment for non-terrorist Muslims. Tough. There is no reason to accord a political movement’s members any privileges which are not enjoyed by the rest of the society. If someone shows up for a job interview wearing Nazi regalia we expect that fact to be taken into account. The political dress adopted by Muslims in the West should have exactly the same status.
A serious, measured, approach grounded in an understanding of Islam as a political movement with totalitarian aims will begin the process of defeating Islamic terror. The time to start was twenty years ago, but today will have to do.