Recently there was a demonstration by extremist Muslims in Sydney. Around the world, radical Muslims have been demonstrating against a film Innocence of Muslims which - assuming at least some of the people commenting on it have actually seen it – ridicules Islam.
To be honest, I tried to watch it and found it a simplistic and preachy, pathetic attempt at humour. I say tried to watch it because it was too tedious to sit through to the end. Does it preach hate? Can’t say, but I can see why it would be as insulting as the worst stuff directed against Christianity or other schools of spiritual thought.
The Sydney protesters did not seek a licence, it seems to have been a spur of the moment thing organised by text message [swarming]. It was barely containable despite the arrival of a huge contingent of police – in fact, several police officers were badly hurt during the fracas.
Children were used to carry placards with messages of hate. Not just messages of hate and intolerance; but a call to violence.
Some time ago Alan Jones – right wing shock jock – said our Prime Minister should be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea.
There are some key differences between the Sydney protest and Jones’ comments, though I’m not sure just how much worse one incident was than the other.
We expect sanctimonious hyperbole from shock jocks. It sells.
Alan Jones was only targeting one person.
Both calls to violence were public – a radio audience would be much larger than the number of people in contact with the Muslim protesters in Sydney. But a physical presence is intimidating and – as seen by the number of police injured – can make for fantastic news footage.
The number of protesters in Sydney was smaller than Jones’ radio audience, but worldwide the number of protesters was huge.
Jones’ unforgivably cheap rudeness was a reaction against alleged political hypocrisy.
The extremist Muslim protest and violence was supposedly a reaction to the alleged, widespread intolerance of Islam.
The accusation of intolerance made by the extremists is so generalised it deems millions of Australians guilty with no right of appeal. It seems to assume people are either “with ‘em or agin ‘em” and most people in democratic countries are agin ‘em.
I can’t help but wonder how we ought to define incitement to hatred or violence in a way that lends a sense of proportion to Jones’ outburst compared to the jihadist call for beheading people – most of whom are, at worst, guilty of yawning indifference.
Where should we place the limits to freedom of speech? If we silence people, how will we know how many people are thinking what?
The extremist Muslim interpretation of jihad has parallels with the Christian Inquisition that ruled the western world [and its ‘possessed’ territories of empire] through terror for centuries. The only real changes have been technology, and the ratio of Christians to Muslims.
[Ironically enough, in both cases, Jewish people are targets for genocide, even though the two top teams in the grand final playoffs were Christians and Muslims.]
This violent protest episode has given me pause. I’ve long assumed that we’ve only involved ourselves in the internal conflicts of other countries when there has been a threat to the availability of resources such as oil.
The ‘war on terror’ and the invasion of Iran have been built on a hollow claim about Weapons of Mass destruction, but are we now seeing a political shift from a domino theory about the spread of communism to a domino theory about the spread of radical Islam? If so, aren’t we a little outnumbered, and aren’t we fighting a much tougher enemy?
If the main lesson of the war in Vietnam is that money and might don’t necessarily win against ideology, we shouldn’t be too cocky about trying to stamp out radical Islam outside our own backyard.
It is one thing to fight proxy wars against the USSR’s perverted idea of communism, which ultimately proved as unpopular within the USSR as it became elsewhere – and another altogether to fight a war against an idea not contained within any particular borders.
Extremist Islam is an idea so irrational it could survive just about anything we care to throw at it
Jihad and its greatest weapon, the suicide bomber, have strong parallels with the racial and religious imperialism, and kamikaze cult, which characterised Japan’s involvement in WW II.
While I hate to think that we might ever be able to justify killing innocent people or resorting to atomic bombs, it is widely accepted that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only way to stop Japanese Imperialism in its tracks.
However, there is no single country we could attack effectively enough to put a halt to the march of extremist jihad.
The leftist hippy part of me thinks it’s long past the time when we should stop dropping bombs from the sky and start dropping gifts. But of course, this is ridiculous because without the arms industry the global economy might well collapse completely.
One problem is that trying to identify exactly who is the enemy is a little like shovelling smoke.
Muslims have very quickly become “they” to some, and there have been many people insisting that the more reasonable Islamic councils in Australia must speak forcefully against extremist violence.
To be fair, some branches of the media are acknowledging that more reasonable Islamic councils have spoken forcefully against this violence, both on this occasion and in the past.
One organization which did not speak out against the violence is Hizb ut Tahirr which, according to Wikipedia, was founded in Jerusalem in 1953. The Wiki article says Hizb ut Tahirr describes Israel as an ‘illegal entity’. The article further says this organisation “explicitly commits itself to non-violence”, so their failure to say anything about the Sydney violence – apart from ‘it wasn’t us’ – seems a tad inconsistent.
We can talk about what should be a crime and how it should be punished, or suggest that another solution is to be more careful about who we accept as immigrants, but little is being said about the root causes of worldwide support for this extremism, or what we must address if we want to prevent the spread of support.