Post-Islamophobia: How Cultural Integration Can Prevent Terrorism and Build Peace

News Abroad

Mr. Adolf, author of Peace: A World History (Polity Press, Wiley Distributor), is publisher and host of One World, Many Peace: Current Events Creating the Future, Blog and Podcast.

The Swiss are usually characterized as among the most hospitable people in the world, especially when it comes to keeping foreign coffers secretly safe. Just as this last image was recently called into question when the U.S. received confidential financial information from the Swiss bank UBS, so now its hospitality is coming under closer scrutiny with a civil rights fiasco  to which only two other current events can compare.

The Swiss far-right has just won a referendum declaring the construction of any minarets (the often ornate top-shaped steeples of many Mosques), to be illegal— surprising as many natives as pundits. As may be expected, Amnesty International was as quick to condemn the results as were other far-right European officials to commend it. Perhaps ironically, the liberal-democratic principles at stake were touted most loudly by Sheik Mohammed Saleh Shedeed in a Times interview:

My message to the Swiss government is that if it's about banning minarets and not other places of worship, then it's unfair. My message to the Swiss People's Party is that you have the right to express your point of view, but let Muslims express theirs.

But no one yet has proposed a constructive alternative. Putting this openly discriminatory referendum and its results in perspective offers one such prospect.

Freedom of speech was the flag under which the Danish cartoonist depicted the Muslim Prophet Mohammed in 2005, a sacrilege according the Koran. and was defended. The protests those pictures flared around the Muslim world and among Danish Muslims is a sure sign that religious or cultural defamation can be an effective trigger for terrorism. Secularism was the banner under which French authorities have for several years debated and denied Muslim girls the right to wear their headscarves at school, again a trigger-like reaction for protests and perhaps more both within France and without. It is in this wider European context that the minaret debacle can be better understood, and hopefully diffused before the prohibition to build Islamic-style buildings becomes the spark that blows up European-style ones.

Facile as it may be to trace similar such acts on Europeans’ part back to the Nazis, doing so here serves a double purpose: “never again” has for the far-right in Switzerland, Europe and America become “hooray, the good ole days are back,” if only with a different victim. Their failure to see their own consciences as such is a sure sign of how deeply their convictions run, and how difficult they are to divert. Yet if the Holocaust and today’s terrorist attacks teach us anything, it is that we are all their victims in some way, as preventative and retaliatory action absorbs affairs of state. Abusing freedom of speech and secularism in their own name is like calling the naked king clothed and then handing him a selection of robes to hide.

Cultural integration can play an effective leading role in preventing terrorism and genocide — while creating peace — in several ways. Swiss Muslims do have their (albeit weak) representative voice within the national forum and the European Union, as the leader of the Green Party has raised the possibility of a complaint at the EU-level. Another is also already happening in Caux, Switzerland. Initiatives for Change, an organization which brokered meetings in the late 1940s between opposing factions in World War Two, have recently organized conferences for European Muslim students to become cultural ambassadors for peace in their communities and countries. The organizer, Peter Riddell, believes both sides (meaning Muslims and Europeans) need to seriously reconsider their relations. "We're faced with a need to redefine what it means to be European.”

As we know, identity-definitions (belonging to the nation-state or not) that remain static often lose their validity within different historical contexts, which means we must also come to terms with the temporal dimension of cultural change’s influence on identity formation and legitimization — and the unique opportunities for integration thereby gained. One line of cutting-edge work in pragmatic conflict transformation today seeks to use the powers of perennially or newly contested narratives to change self-understanding and behavior (say, terrorist or genocidal) and reorient self-understanding and behavior (say, towards peace). Narratives are not just found in the novels we read and movies we watch, but constitute the high-impact stories we tell in court, to legally immigrate, in business proposals and through which we understand who we are as individuals and societies. The influence narratives possess lie in their explanatory, persuasive and predictive powers, which the most effective leaders know how to wield to their ends, integrative or exclusivist.

Competing versions of local, regional, national and international histories can for example be reworked to be more inclusive, potentially stemming violence originating in the experience of exclusion. South Africa has probably taken the most proactive steps in this respect in recent times. Institutions like museums, galleries, sporting events, parades and holidays have for as long as we’ve known been consciously used in nation-building. The ethnic parades in Northern Ireland that have decreased in bloodshed and the religious monuments in Jerusalem that have increased in tensions are two cases in point. That they and the narratives they institutionalize and canonize can also be used in peacebuilding should be less of an innovation than it is. The opportunities for cultural integration they collectively offer exposes the minaret debate for its deliberate exclusivity. Perhaps the first step in systematizing and practicing cultural integration as a means of preventing terrorism and build peace at local, regional and global levels is to separate the nation and the state, just as John Locke did for religion and the state three centuries ago.     

 “In many ways you could say that European culture has defined itself in opposition to Islam," Riddell continued in his BBC interview. He’s right, but only to a point. Muslims were the fabled enemies of medieval Iberians, but they were also their trading partners and military allies on many an occasion. It is strange to arrive in Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire in Peru, and find in the cathedrals decorative arts that are more Islamic than Christian in character, and more native than Christian in others. Beloved croissants are said to be shaped that way because they were modeled on the flags of the Turks who sieged Vienna in 1529. Let us also not forget important figures of European culture such as Aristotle, who resurfaced thanks to Arabic translations; or the mathematical and nautical knowledge that the Portuguese took from Muslims and used to make the first European empires. The point is not that we should all become Islamophiles, even if in a pragmatically ideal world there would be no need to be anti-islamophobe. To be islamophobe is to fear and hate part of who we — in the global sense — already are, and hopefully just a transitional phase to post-islamophobe world.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

arthur m. eckstein - 12/20/2009

Elliott, you might add that Sderot, the settlement within the 1967 borders that has been hit by thousands of mortars and missles from Gaza, is a settlement of Jewish refugees from Morocco.

What, Jewish refugees? Yes--there were 850,000 of them from Muslim lands between 1948 and 1960, which is one hundred thousand MORE than Palestinians affected by the Nakbah, and they were classified AS refugees by the UN, just like Palestinian refugees. But no one talks about the Jewish refugees.

People like Omar always insist that Palestinian suffering is unique. It isn't the worst, not in scale (as just shown), and not in violence either; ask the 800,000 refugees KILLED in the Partition of India. But no one talks about them, either. The number killed in India is more than the total of Palestinians who fled or were forced to flee. (Total Arab dead in the Partition of the Mandate, including soldiers fighting from the five Arab countries that invaded in May 1948, was around 10,000: that is 1/80 of the dead refugees alone in the Indian Partition.)

Elliott Aron Green - 12/20/2009

Egypt too is a place where the native Christians, Copts, are constantly harassed and persecuted. They are also effectively discriminated against in the public service [govt jobs], and high-ranking govt positions, etc.

Egypt too is considered a key US ally. Just ask Condy Rice and Hilary and Mr Obama.

Arnold, the bolsheviks supported Muslims against non-Muslims as far back as the manifesto of the Commisariat of Nationalities [An Appeal to the Muslim Toilers of Russia and the East], headed by Stalin, in late November-early December 1917. This was while the Ottoman massacres of Armenians were still going on. The Bolsheviks supported Muslim claims to rule against Armenian demands for self-determination. So Arnold, your pro-Arab, pro-Muslim position fits in with the traditional Communist pro-Arab/pro-Muslim position. Nothing new under the sun.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/20/2009

`Umar, in response to your #138683:

You have a strong drive to always deny or minimize the sins and crimes of Muslims or explain them away in some fashion. Do you acknowledge the repeated massacres --amounting to genocide-- by Arabic-speaking, Muslim Sudanese forces against the tribal, non-Muslim Black population in southern Sudan which went on off and on from 1956 [when Sudan got independence] up to about 2003??? I don't discern much tolerance there. Do you?? Then again, you might read Bat Ye'or's books on the dhimmis and the history of early Muslim/Arab imperial expansion. Bat Ye'or [= Daughter of the Nile] notes many massacres of non-Muslims in that early period. Some of these are described in a book called "The West Syrian Chronicles" or some such title. The editor/translator was Andrew Palmer. Robert Hoyland has some of the same material in one of his books. So the Arab conquests were bloody and the Arab/Muslim repressions of native revolts against them [in Egypt 3 times, and elsewhere, not to mention the Revolt of the Zanj (black slaves) in Iraq] were bloody too. So maybe, `Umar, the Arab-Muslim record does not look so good, maybe it was even worse than that of the Western colonial/imperial powers.

Since Bill mentioned Morocco, I will point out that in the hinterland of Morocco in the 19th century many Jews there suffered a semi-slave status, a kind of serfdom perhaps.

As to rabbis involved in trading in human organs, this demonstrates your drive and urge to always accuse others. A few months ago, there was a large number of arrests in northern New Jersey and in New York. A few rabbis were arrested, mainly for money-laundering, plus a number of non-Jewish politicians plus one Jew [not a rabbi] for trading in human body parts. No rabbi was arrested in those raids for trading in body parts.
Maybe you ought to apologize to the rabbis.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/20/2009

Art, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Desert Democracy that has been considered a Good Friend of the United States as long as I can remember --just remember the pistols that John Foster Dulles gave to the King back about 1957-- got around to outlawing slavery in 1962. There too it still goes on "under the table".

arthur m. eckstein - 12/19/2009

A pitiful response to the 15 million Africans enslaved by Muslims. And it's still going on, most notoriously in the Sudan. Also in the Islamic Republic of Mauretanian which finally "outlawed" slavery in 1980. That's 1980--not 1882. Kuwait "outlawed" slavery in 1962. That's 1962--not 1862. And in both countries it still goes on "under the table".

We learn through comparison--Polybius, ca. 150 B.C.

arthur m. eckstein - 12/18/2009

"We learn via COMPARISON": the historian Polybius, 2,150 years ago.

Professor Dresner, the focus on Switzerland as if it is a center of religious intolerance is wrongheaded. If you and Maria Elena are truly repulsed by religious intolerance, and are not simply pursuing anti-Western propaganda focused on Europe as a center of religious intolerance, then more power to you. But then you should go to Saudi Arabia and begin your campaign for religious tolerance, including the building of churches with BIG crosses on them.

Hope you come back.

omar ibrahim baker - 12/18/2009

Surely an anti racism attitude that displeases racists.

arthur m. eckstein - 12/17/2009

And yet, Arnold, it is these violent ignorant medieval religious fanatics--anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-semitic, but casting themselves as third-world victims from the 1960s--that you Marxists with to ally with, or even find your natural allies. And this is because they are the only anti-Western anti-capitalist game in town.

It just makes me want to shake my head.

A. M. Eckstein - 12/17/2009

Of course, if you have 2,500 suicide bombers intentionally killing tens of thousands of civilians in the name of God during one year, with 5-9 suicide/homicides a day in the name of God, it makes you wonder about ideological elements in that religion.

Those are Robert Fisk's numbers, by the way.

Arnold Shcherban - 12/17/2009

In my humble opinion to argue for one religion versus the other is practically futile and theoretically
baseless. Any religion is a compilation
of MYTHS and LEGENDS and derived from the latter rules of personal/social behavior, thus making it(religion) a FALSITY.
However, you're right that demonizing
one religion in favor of the other is not only wrong, but malicious, as well.

arthur m. eckstein - 12/17/2009

Oh, yeah--here's another good one.

According to Al Arabyia, the Hamas legislature in Gaza, on Dec. 24, 2008, passed a law indicating that the penalty for apostasy from Islam could even include crucifixion. The story was also reported by Al Hayat (London). Merry Christmas!

Jonathan Dresner - 12/17/2009

If Switzerland, not Saudi Arabia, is in the block, that's because of people such as Dresner and Maria Elena. It is not logical, neither is it moral. If you are truly interested in condemning religious intolerance, you know where you have to do it.

Switzerland and Saudi Arabia are in the dock (I think that's what you meant), and if you're "truly interested in condemning religious intolerance" then you have to do both. Nobody here is saying that the minaret ban is worse than the Saudi policy -- that's a gross misrepresentation, a slander -- just that both the dinghy and cruise ship, to use your floating metaphor, are boats, and at the moment, the discussion's actually about dinghy's so the problems of ocean liners are largely irrelevant.

arthur m. eckstein - 12/17/2009

I suggest you google Abdul Rahman + Afganistan; I suggest you google Salmon Rushdie. Omar just loves the Iranian mullahs, so for death-squads tracking down and executing apostates in Iran, see the Freedom House report on this which can be easily found; on treatment of Bahais in Iran see the article by Friedrich Altoffer in the journal War Crimes, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity 1 (2005); an Egyptian MP, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (another of Omar's favorite groups) advocated the execution of Bahais as apostates (Reuters, May 3, 2006); see also: "Iranian academic sentenced to death," BBC, Nov. 7, 2002; Algeria passed a law in March 2006 requiring imprisonment for anyone who advocated leaving Islam; in April 2007, two Turkish converts to Christianity, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, were killed in the Malatya Bible Publishing murders, after having been tortured for hours first; the reason given by the murderers: protection of Islam. There are also cases from Pakistan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Somalia.

One could go on and on. One of the leading advocates for the death-penalty for apostasy is the famous and very influential extremist Maududi--another favorite intellectual of Omar's, I suspect.

Say, Maria Elena: is any of this happening in SWITZERLAND?

If you are SO concerned about intolerance, really moved by that spectre, why don't you go and combat it where it REALLY exists and is enforced? Oh--I know why. Because you'll never come back.

Elliott Aron Green - 12/17/2009

Bill, don't forget that Arabs and other Muslims were equal opportunity enslavers too. They took black folk as slaves from deep in Africa. They also took white folk as slaves from the Ukraine, southern Belarus, southeastern Poland, as well as from Western Europe, from Sicily, southern Italy, southern France, southeastern Spain, even from southern England and Ireland, not to mention at least one slave raid on Iceland.

They were not all that prejudiced against Blacks. White Europeans too could serve just as well as slaves.

omar ibrahim baker - 12/17/2009

"The fact is that one can't compare banning of minarets in Switzerland with the death-penality for non-Islam in Muslim countries. "
Thus spake a man of bottomless erudition and unbounded wisdom.
That his sentence is the equivalent of 2+2=4 does not deter from its siminal worthiness except that people here at HNN hardly need reminding that 2+2=4.
Unless of course the whole point is to insinuate that imposing the "death penalty" on non Muslims ("non-Islam"??) in Moslem countries is an evry day occurence; an absurdity for which he should seek another audience than HNN readership!

arthur m. eckstein - 12/17/2009

The fact is that one can't compare banning of minarets in Switzerland with the death-penality for non-Islam in Muslim countries. That's becausee the latter is infinitely worse.

If Switzerland, not Saudi Arabia, is in the block, that's because of people such as Dresner and Maria Elena. It is not logical, neither is it moral. If you are truly interested in condemning religious intolerance, you know where you have to do it.

But perhaps you don't because you're afraid of being executed there if you protest intolerance even with a sqeuak. In Switzerland, I think, you won't have to worry...

You can't say a rowboat is far worse than an ocean liner of intolerance--unless, of course, it suits "multi-culturalism" purposes, and one examines the gnat in Europe's eye while swallowing the Muslim camel easily.

Maria Elena - 12/16/2009

To answer Omar, it was my first time commenting on hnn and I was brought on here because of the subject of the article, and it was interesting to see its author's book topic as well:)

Now, for the last time, comparing the banning of minarettes in Switzerland with extreme religious intolerance in some Muslim countries is the exact reason for which that referendum was so wrong- it brought about comparison of Switzerland with Saudi Arabia and people are actually pissed that Switzerland is...losing the intolerance game? How ridiculous is that? This is not poker! "I'll match you banning religious architecture, and I'll raise you... death!" You want what? Switzerland to go all in?

Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2009

Mr. Eckstein,

I'm not denying reality, merely pointing out that you're taking a very bad argumentative position. Once "hypocrisy" becomes a component of a debate this broad, pretty much everyone loses.

Given that many Muslim-majority states do abjure religious pluralism, doesn't it say something about the Muslims who chose to live in pluralistic societies? Perhaps the sins of the group don't necessarily apply to all individuals?

Never mind. I know better than to involve myself in these discussions; I had a finals week slip. I'll leave you folks alone to fulminate in peace.

A. M. Eckstein - 12/16/2009

that should read: You'll have a case when Islam is illegal in France--as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and every other religion but Islam is illegal in Saudi Arabia.

A. M. Eckstein - 12/16/2009

It's not tu quoque. It's far far worse than tu quoque in many Muslim countries. Things are far far worse for Christians in many Muslim countries than they are in Switzerland for Muslims who can't build minarets other than the ones they already have. You'll have a case when Islam is illegal in France, as it is in Saudi Arabia. You'll have a case when conversion to Islam is punishable with death in Switzerland, as conversion away form Islam is punishable by death in eight Muslim countries. Until then, you have no case. Until there is full Muslim reciprocity in terms of religion, any protest is rank hypocrisy.

If you're concerned about religious freedom protest where it is *really* repressed.

For Leftists to line up with primitives from the Middle Ages who are themselves intolerant religious fanatics, on the grounds of multiculturalism, is grotesque.

Jonathan Dresner - 12/16/2009

Until personal religion is free in Muslim countries, any Muslim protest over things like the Swiss vote about minarets is rank hypocrisy.

Until religious architecture is free in Christian countries, any Christian protest over things like the Muslim ban on new churches is rank hypocrisy.

Tu quoque is a terrible foundation for an argument.

arthur m. eckstein - 12/16/2009

Until personal religion is free in Muslim countries, any Muslim protest over things like the Swiss vote about minarets is rank hypocrisy. Eight Muslim countries have the penalty for conversion to any other religion but Islam as death. Death. Does Switzerland have a similar law regarding leaving Christianity?

Christians are regularly slaughtered in Iraq, Christians are regularly slaughtered in Pakistan--and we see no protest from Muslim imams. Saudis demand "freedom of religion" for Islam in the West while banning Christianity and Judaism in Saudi Arabia. It's grotesque.

And lefties like the idiots on this blog join up with reactionaries from the Middle Ages because it's the only anti-Western game left in town. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Of course, they won't be.

omar ibrahim baker - 12/15/2009

You have asked questions and I have answered.
Apparently you have expected different answers that would sustain your anti Islam onslaught!
Sorry to disappoint you .
Now you choose, instead, a general tour d'horizon .

Some of your "findings" are truly amazing: that you could NOT see a church in Morocco or , more amazing still, that the nearest Coptic church to Cairo was in Fayum!
I can safely attest that Cairo has if not hundreds then scores and scores of Coptic, and other, churchs in Cairo.

You stress the fact that a certain , presumably Moslem, "cleric" ( quite an indeterminate category) slapped a certain women in Casa Blanca!

Are you, or are you NOT, aware of the scores and scores of Christian priests of the Catholic and other Christian churches and of Jewish Rabiis accused and convicted of sexually molesting children in theit custody AND of Rabbiis involved in the trade of human organs?

So what ??

Is it not an axiomatic fact that NOT all Jews, Christianns and Moslems are honest and decent disciples of their respective religions?
Is it NOT a glaring fact that many , clerics and other wise, from all religions do committ acts contrary to the precepts and commands of their religions?
You have, Bill, fallen into the childish pit of GENERALIZATIONS and TYPICALIZATION based on isolated events and personal observations.

Re tolerance: an objective reading of history will demonstrate that under Islamic rule peoples of the BOOK enjoyed more tolerance in the practice of their respective religions than under any other system or than ever granted to Moslems or Jews.
-Did you ever hear or read anything about "INQUISITION " courts in Islam ?
-Did the Moslems ever decimate whole nations in their quest to convert them to Islam as Christiandom( NOT Christianity!) did in South America?

The Moslem record is far from PERFECT but certainly far superior to anything you may have in mind!

Bill Heuisler - 12/14/2009

The killings and stonings are done in the name of Sharia law and the words of Allah as written by Mohammed.

I have traveled extensively in Maroc and have never seen a Christian church. In front of the Hyatt Regency in Casablanca in August of 1992 I observed a Muslim cleric slap a woman and drag her off the street after one of my companions spoke with her.
Egypt? Go to old Cairo and ask for the Ben Ezra Synagogue. When you get there you will find "the oldest Synagogue in Egypt" in ruins. You will read about the "20 churches and the 62 Jewish families" in old Cairo. But when you ask to see those churches and those Jewish families you are shown more ruins next to the City of The Dead (ancient cemetery in Old Cairo) and told those Jewish families have moved. There are no services in Ben Ezra and the booklet given tourists is made available by the Director of the Coptic Museum, Dr. Bahour Labib. The Coptic museum is another ruin near the cemetary inhabited by one old Arab cleaner. Dr. Labib would not answer any questions about Coptic Christians in Egypt except that the government allows them to practice their religion freely. The nearest Coptic church open for Christian worship was said to be in El Faiyum.

Omar, you have admitted the barbarism of Saudi Arabia, but implied other Moslem countries are different. They are different from Saudi Arabia only in degree of provincialism. Please direct me to the Catholic church nearest the Hotel Safir in Rabat...or perhaps to the largest Christian church in downtown Cairo. Just a general address will suffice.

Face it, Omar, Muslims want European tolerance, but will give none.
Bill Heuisler

omar ibrahim baker - 12/14/2009

Now that you ask straight forward questions I will answer to the best of my ability/
Q1-Do you applaud the killing of young women for the "honor" of their family?
A1-Absolutely NOT.I whole heartedly reject and condemn it and hold that the perpetrator should be severly punished to the limit of the law.

Q2- Do you approve of the stoning of homosexuals?
A2-Ditto ; absolutely NO and NOT!

Both "breachs" fall under the category of personal behaviour and should NOT, I believe, be dealt with by a public "law" unless they transgress on others'rights or liberties.

Homosexuality, though, should be very strictly followed up and supervised for fear of adults' abuse of children.
That to me is almost unpardonable!

As long as the issue is between consenting ADULTS the law has no role to play.

Now Bill you answer my questions:

Qa-When contrasting why just appox X, Y or Z of the West with, of all Moslem countries, Saudi Arabia that is, for historical reasons, definetely an,THE, EXTREME case .
Why NOT with the larger and more influential Indonesia, Morrocco or Egypt?

Qb-Is that NOT an attempt to portray Saudi Arabia as typical and representative which is neither as is universally known?

Qc-Is that NOT proof of intellectual dishonesty and bad will?

Peter Kovachev - 12/13/2009

Maria Elena,

The topic of Eastern Europe's antisemitism and role in the Holocaust is certainly under-researched. Any attention to it is to be highly commended.

However, I'm puzzled as to what you are refering as the "same kind of prejudice." Do you mean antisemitism or any forms of prejudice? If you researched your topic in depth you would have noticed the antiquity, power and uniqueness of antisemitism in European thought. It's a weird, barely explicable phenomenon for which it is hard to find adequate comparisons and I cannot see how the Holocaust could be understood without aknowledging the continuity of European antisemitism which appears to have been unbroken since the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the majority of the Jews from Judea. If you are wondering about what happened to that continuity, observe EU's increasingly hostile treatment of Israel today and its cynical and fake "pro-palestinianism." First, Europe attempted to destroy its Jews as stateless outsiders, and today it continues this tradition by trying to weaken and eventually destroy the only Jewish state as the world's only "outsider" in the community of nations.

Peter Kovachev - 12/13/2009

Right you are, Arnie, I'd go with declaring bagels and croissants as islamophobic, running-dog imperialist, anti-proletarian opiates peddled by the ruling classes.

Bill Heuisler - 12/13/2009

As usual you don't address the subject: contrast between religious tolerance in Switzerland and Saudi Arabia where women are beaten on the street by religious fanatics simply for walking with a male. Do you applaud the killing of young women for the "honor" of their family? Do you approve of the stoning of homosexuals?
Answer those questions about life and death under Moslem rule before you dare complain about not being allowed to build a minaret in Switzerland.
Answer? You won't. But you will say I'm just part of a conspiracy.
Bill Heuisler

Arnold Shcherban - 12/13/2009


My answer to your question would be:
The same folks who traditionally benefited (all over the world) from spreading racial, religious and national hatred following the infamous "divide and conquer" motto.
But you knew it, didn't you?

omar ibrahim baker - 12/13/2009

Had this been your first contribution to HNN I strongly hope it will NOT be your last one.

For you have achieved a great deal simply by pointing out and thus unmasking, with constraint and scholarly moderation, the reflexive hate, bias and closed mindedness of some whenever or where ever the words Arab and/or Moslem are mentioned.

Your lady like and scholarly refusal to react to taunting and cheap provocative name calling, mostly indirect,attests to mind and pen that I, among presumably many others, hope will have much more to read from and ponder in the future.

Sincere Regards

omar ibrahim baker - 12/13/2009

I was hoping that someone would try to answer the question of my post:
" The question is: who stands to benefit (now) from that ( the ongoing demonizing of Islam in the West)?? ".
( ): latter additions to original question.

Arnold Shcherban - 12/12/2009


You're absolutely right that promoters and apologists of West-above-all (lately became US-above-all) policies
have always seeking enemies to find some (no matter how flimsy) excuse for
their imperialist drive to conquest and control. When those enemies are difficult to find, they are either created or (if insignificant and not scary enough) greatly magnified and demonized through provocations, lies,
diversions, and open interference in internal affairs of other countries.
This approach has been a leitmotif of
the US-West policies for at least two centuries by now.

Arnold Shcherban - 12/12/2009

Ms Elena,

Read my lips: Those US-over-all and Zionist zealots (who hang on this site just to promote their ideological and geopolitical imperialist agenda) that argue with you have very little, if any, empathy for the fate of women, religious minorities, or other groups
in any Muslim or non-Muslim country.
Their primary concern is economic, political, and military (when needed) CONTROL over the situation in those countries and subversion of the latter one to their own national interests.
The rest, as has been undeniably proved by numerous events and their own statements, is a camouflage, a fugue leaf to cover the emptiness of their moral and social principles, vicious double standards, and gravity of crimes.

Maria Elena - 12/11/2009

This is not about how good or bad the religion itself is. This is about an absurd referendum that happened in Switzerland. Not Iran, not Saudi Arabia, but Switzerland. And they didn't even had the guts to take it to the extreme they really wanted- ban mosques, ban the religion. They picked on minarettes! Or, even worse, maybe they do have the guts and they are starting with minarettes... I cannot expect Saudi Arabia with their sites of Mecca and Medina and religious fundementalism to get all christian or jewish loving. It makes business sense if you think about it, they don't need to allow any other house of worship since they have the biggest one in Islam! I do expect better from western countries especially ones with long traditions of religious tolerance.
And as a woman...I am being asked to cover up in any church, at orthodox jewish weddings, in temples. In France, if I were a Muslim woman going to public school or just wanting to go for a swin in a pool,I would be asked not to cover up. In Spain I wouldn't have had the right to divorce until the 80s and in some parts of US I would probably have a hard time getting an really I cannot single out Islam when it comes to being denied rights.

Bill Heuisler - 12/11/2009

Sheik Mohammed Saleh Shedeed asks the Swiss to allow mosques and minarets but he knows churches and synagogues are forbidden in his country.
What effrontery!
And by the way, how can you, a woman, defend the spread of a sect that deprives women af all freedoms? When you next discuss Flamenco in Riyadh wearing a tank top and standing in front of a Christian house of worship I might understand your sympathies.

Arab geographic presumption is behind all the trouble in the Middle East and is the source of their ceaseless castigation of the Crusades.
Bill Heuisler

Lewis Bernstein - 12/11/2009

Ah yes, but when the religious zealots took power tolerance disappeared.

Maria Elena - 12/10/2009

I'm not claiming Arab-origination of science, I am pointing out Arab contribution and enrichment of culture and science, and it looks like people are offended by it and try to deny it altogether.
I don't think Mr. Adolf's article mentiones anything about Arab geographic presumption and this is a whole new discussion.
I just don't see how recognizing the existence of European-Muslims and not putting forth antagonistic and unecessary referendums (there are more minarets on the propaganda posters for the referendum than they are in reality in Switzerland)is considered "appeasement".
When I lived in France I had 2 good friends. A second generation Belgian of Maroccan origin and a Spaniard who grew up in Switzerland. The main debate: the origin of flamenco- is it Spanish or is it North African. First of all- both of these friends are European. So I do have a big problem with any attempt to demonize a big part of the population based on their religion. Secondly, there was an argument created where it shouldn't have been none.They should have both recognized and celebrated that out of the "mix" beautiful dance and music was born. And that's where I see the historic precedent- in periods and places of religious tolerance such as the Caliphate of Cordoba, and United States of America. And if you don't agree with my precedants, we should at least recognize that the many precedants of predicating peace on intolerance and on purity (of religion, ethnicity, language, food etc etc) should make us look for a better solution instead of repeating the same mistakes.

Bill Heuisler - 12/10/2009

Maria Elena,
You are correct. In my pompous rejection of Mr. Adolph's history I made a 200 year mistake, placing the rise of Islam in the Fifth Century. Even I know the Hejira was 622 AD and the destruction of Pontic, Ionian Greek and Persian cities was in the Seventh Century.
It was kind of you not to point out my egregious error.
That said, how does the fact that Algebra came from India refute the argument against Arab-origination of science? This should not an East-West discussion, but more a refutation of any righteous claims of validation by geographic origin. If Ryan & Pitman are correct in their thesis (Noah's Flood, Simon & Schuster, 1998) modern migration began from the Volga-Don basin after the Deluge.
The point is that Arab geographic presumption is just as ridiculous as Frankish or Greek or Persian or Turkish or..., and that each people can demand whatever they like with equal chutzpah.
However I hope you will admit that predicating peace on appeasement has no historic precedent.
Bill Heuisler

Maria Elena - 12/10/2009

If you're curious I did extensive research on the Eastern-European countries' anti-semitism prior to and during WWII- anti-semitism which they still refuse to recognize shifting the blame entirely on Germany. And I'm appalled to see the return to same kind of prejudice and hypocrisy in less than 100 yrs. It's also disheartening to see how any moderate voices trying to show the other side of the story and bring forth peaceful solutions to a mess hundreds of years in the making are being condescendingly shutted up.

omar ibrahim baker - 12/10/2009

Whether under the pretext of "free speech" , "secularism" or "the war on terror" the fact that Islam is now under attack in the West must be recognized as the sympton of that reccurrent deep seated Western malaise that seeks comfort and emotional outlets( and often material benefits)from public attitudes liable to be met with some "public" support by always demonizing something!

At one time it was the Jews, then it was communism , now it is Islam... and the West has something to hate!

The fight against Islam in the West, is now , more often than not, as were against the Jews and communism
,camouflaged as being in defense of a "threatened, though seldom practiced,"Christianity";
However whereas both the Jews and communism were primarily "internal" entities/factors and as such pan West indigenous Islam,that in no way could be deemed as a major internal entity anywhere in the West, is an external/alien entity to the West.

Herein, I contend, lies the danger in that anti Islam is liable to cause nation(s) to nation(s) animosity and international conflicts and eventually state to state wars if humoured and allowed, by public indiference, to progress unchecked!

A turn of events that certainly favours and pleases a West RIGHT anxious to revive and resume colonialist/ imperialist conquests that inevitably triggers resistance as, inter alia, presently in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan which revive historical conflicts!

The question is: who stands to benefit from that??

Peter Kovachev - 12/9/2009

Let me guess, Maria, you are in the other pseudo-discipline; Middle Eastern Studies? If not, your reading comprehension, reasoning skills and charming way of expressing the depth of your astounding knowledge make you just the right candidate. After that crank Said, it's become academia's sump tank for the post-modern, post-colonial post-academia, and a degree in that might qualify you for a great job in the postal services. Come back when we can understand what you're trying to say and when you can do that with a modicum of courtesy.

Maria Elena - 12/9/2009

Let me start by saying that I had a good time reading the comments to this article, they are so full of self-importance and pseudo knowledge of history in general and Arab and Muslim culture and history in particular. It's ok, though let's blame it on the (almost)1000 years of brainwashing since the first crusade. I am not going to give a free pass though to the childish comparison between European countries with a large Muslim populations and the Middle Eastern countries that do not allow building of churches or sinagogues. How can a person who considers itself knowledgeable in world affairs and educated defend the Swiss referendum by pointing the finger to...wait for it... Saudi Arabia!! " Saudi Arabia does it!! Why can't Switzerland do it, it's their country!" Following this twisted logic it's how US got to violate the Geneva convention by torturing alleged terrorists because, hey they are mean ones, they blow themselves up, so they deserve being tortured. (hehehee GENEVA convention, get it, they actually had some HUMAN RIGHTS credibility these Swiss people).
Also, for the people who questioned the benefits to Western civilization of Arabs' culture and achievements in math, literature, philosphy, architecture etc, by dismissing it as just being acquired from persians and greeks (nobody mentions persians and greeks owe a lot to Babylonians, Asyrians, Egyptians etc), I have a couple of words for you... ALGEBRA AND ALGORITHM.( please research, please point out that Arabs did not invented algebra, but "acquired" it from India and then please realize that it was due to the arabic treatises that Europeans use arab numerals). And, if not for Arabs, Greek works that we consider being the foundation of the Western Civilization would have been lost because the Christian Church destroyed most of it. Too PAGAN you see. (for those who have a problem with that read Greek Thought, Arab Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early 'Abbasid Society (2nd-4th/8th-10th centuries)- written by a Greek!!)
In conclusion, my dear gentlemen- since I don't have time to write a book pointing out your ignorance- remove thy head from thy ass and smell the arabic coffee. Recognize the wrong when you see it. Just because the world today has fundamentalist countries, don't fall in the same trap. And for the gentleman who says peace studies are "pseudo-disciplines"- you're an idiot.

Christopher John Ward - 12/8/2009

I have a great deal of respect for pacifists who are true to their beliefs but significantly less for peace studies and other pseudo-disciplines. Whether Mr. Adolf chooses to look at the real world is entirely his business. He throws the word Islamophobia around as though it was a communicable disease. I am significantly older than Mr. Adolf and I have seen and read enough about Islamic terrorism to know that he is living in cloudcuckooland. How many times do Islamic terrorists have to attack countries in the West before he reads Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations? The Swiss people have every right to refuse the construction of minarets in their country. If Mr. Adolf knew anything much about the Arab world, he would know that it is impossible to construct Christian churches in allied countries such as Saudi Arabia. Because we are dependent on their oil and regard them as a necessary adjunct to US foreign policy, a blind eye is turned to their export of Wahabbist doctrine and the construction of mosques and madrasahs in the West, where hatred for Christianity and Israel is spewed forth weekly. I’m not sure whether Mr Adolf has higher academic aspirations but he has convinced me that he has the correct background for a doctorate in hypocrisy.

Arnold Shcherban - 12/8/2009

It only proves that any religion is a
ideological and political tool to keep
masses subordinated to the essential interests of dominant economic and social groups/classes, not already mentioning a well-known FACT that religion is a myth created by PEOPLE.
This is, by the way, is the only reason
the US and other Christian Western countries ally with Saudi Arabia, but not with Iran.

Grant W Jones - 12/8/2009

Posting crap like this makes it clear why HNN now has to beg for money.

Peter Kovachev - 12/8/2009

Mr Adolf,

Why on earth should a minaret ban or a bunch of cartoons be a "trigger for terrorism"? Christian churches, with or without steeples, are banned in much of the Muslim world and the newspapers in Islamic countries are full of the vilest political cartoons and commentaties defaming Christians, Jews and others. Moreover, Christians and others are brutally persecuted there as well. This hasn't triggered acts of brutality or terror against Muslims in the West. In fact, we are twisting ourselves into pretzels worrying how not be even perceived as mildly disrespectful.

Clearly your formula is wrong. Or am I missing something here? If so, what?

Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2009

Mr. Adolf,
Anthropology and Linguistics will help you understand Arab and Moslem cultures are equal opportunity interlopers as well.
More references:
Topaldis, S. (2009). Pontos World.Development of the Pontic Greek Dialect. Pontic Greek and Koine from 400 BC to 400 Ad;showtopic=5161

Bill Heuisler - 12/7/2009

Mr. Adolf,
This is a History site. Your knowledge of history is apparently abysmal and your immature political development is quite obvious.
First politics: You use the term, far right, many times in a peurile, but vain bid for sophistication. Further you advance the oft-disproven theory that pacifism and appeasement will bring peace. History shows that the opposite is true. Cite one example before you preach.

Second: Muslims were invaders. They have no proprietary claims to any territory outside the vast wastelands in Arabia from whence they burst with fire and sword in the early 400s. You write as though Moslem culture was the beginning of all culture in the Middle East. In the early fifth Century AD illiterate nomad Arab Muslims sacked and destroyed hundreds of cities in a thriving civilization of Ionic and Pontic Greeks. These Muslims acquired most of their scientific knowledge from the Greek and Persian societies they pillaged.
Don't give them a moral validation you refuse Crusaders or Greeks.

History lesson? See:
Comrie, B. (2008). Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol.37: 131-143 Linguistic Diversity in the Caucasus;journalCode=anthro

Mike Schoenberg - 12/7/2009

It's one of the most ironic bits that the croissant and the bagel supposedly came from the same seige. On a more serious note, as the Christian Science Monitor pointed out last week, there are those Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia where Cristianity is totally outlawed.