Blogs > HNN > The Attack on the International Islamic University and the Future of Pakistan

Oct 24, 2009 7:31 am

The Attack on the International Islamic University and the Future of Pakistan

Of all the violence that has plagued Pakistan in the last few years perhaps none is more symptomatic of the larger war over the country's future than the double suicide bombing that occurred in the International Islamic University in Islamabad this [LAST] week.

The Taliban confirmed it was behind the attacks. One of the movement's main trainers of suicide bombers explained that with the army's invasion of South Waziristan the Taliban “now considered all of Pakistan to now be a war zone.” Even, it's now clear, a women's cafeteria and the country's leading religious university and the office of the Department of Sharia, or Islamic law.

As I watched video of the scene of the attacks my mind was flooded with memories of when I had lectured in the very building where the second bombing took place, and of how the many encounters I had there utterly changed my understanding not merely of Pakistan, but of the future of Islam as well.

I had only just landed in Islamabad a few hours before I was scheduled to give my first talk at the university, and whether it was the 13-hour time difference with Los Angeles, two nights flying in coach, or walking through an arrivals lounge that had recently been attacked by terrorists, I was more uneasy being in Pakistan than being in Baghdad or Gaza during their own periods of intense violence.

Matters weren't helped when I was introduced to a group of male religious studies students by my host as someone who'd lived in Israel and speaks Hebrew—in fact, my stomach sank a bit—especially as their long beards and traditional dress reminded me a lot more of the Taliban than the graduate students I normally spend time with. But as with most things in Pakistan, appearances were deceiving, and the situation was far more complex, in fact inspiring, than I'd imagined.

It turned out that the students with whom I was meeting weren't merely studying Islam, they were PhD students in comparative religion. That is, they were situating Islam, its history and religious dynamics, within the broader study of religious experience world-wide. Moreover, the recently established program in which they were studying was a model for the International Islamic University's drive to develop a new curriculum, one that would combine 1,000 years of Islamic learning with the latest developments in American and European humanities and social studies scholarship.

What's more, the students explained, they were all learning Hebrew, as well as biblical criticism and contemporary approaches to religious studies as part of their course work. As we began to talk it immediately became clear that neither students nor faculty had much time or desire to engage in spirited critiques of the United States or the West (the more secular intellectuals and activists with whom I met had covered that angle well enough).

They were much more interested in discussing how to better integrate “Western” and Islamic methodologies for studying history and religion, and more troublingly, trying to figure out how to criticize the government “without disappearing” into the dark hole of the Pakistani prison system for five or ten years, or worse.

Colleagues in the history and political science departments were just as eager to develop the most up-to-date curriculums possible, and in so doing lay a benchmark for the development of their fields, not just in Pakistan, but globally.

This is not to say that the members of the University community supported US policies in the Muslim world. Far from it. But as good social scientists (or social scientists in training), they understood the the importance of the interplay of local and global dynamics, and of the problems in their own societies that contributed to the violent relationship between the the US and many Muslims around the world.

Indeed, when I delivered my second lecture, on globalization early on a Saturday morning, the room was filled with students, more women than men (at least half the student body at the University are women), who grilled me about the assumptions underlying my research and methodologies. Would that most of my students back home were as interested in what I was teaching as were they.

As I walked around the campus, and met faculty and students who'd come from all over the Muslim world to study there, the role of the IIU in the larger context Islam globally became evident. The University was carving out a much-needed space in Muslim intellectual, and through it political, life through its bringing Muslim and Western traditions into dialog. Yet it was receiving and continues to receive far less attention from scholars, commentators or policy-makers than the fully American-style universities being opened across the Persian Gulf, as most recently evidenced by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, just established with great fanfare, and a $10 billion endowment, in Jeddah.

Such a venture is surely important, not just for having one of the world's fastest super computers or giving every newly hired professor $400,000 in research money—I got $3,000 when I was hired at UC Irvine, and that was when the University of California was flush with cash. Most of the faculty I met at the IIU were using decade old computers with one dial-up modem available per office—but for being a coed institution and barring the Saudi religious police from operating on campus.

Yet the singular focus of KAUST on hard sciences is ultimately myopic and will likely produce little in the way of larger societal change in Saudi Arabia predicted by the new university's boosters. Such changes come only with a robust public sphere where citizens who are educated broadly and humanistically are equipped with the social knowledge and skills to challenge the dominant political and social-religious discourses.

Building such an active Pakistani citizenry was, and I imagine despite the bombing remains, a major goal of the IIU. Sadly, it's just such a goal that made it a “legitimate” target for the Taliban, for whom a healthy public sphere populated by educated citizens willing and able to challenge, and potentially democratize and clean up their government, would pose at least as big threat to its position in the country as the army they are now fighting in the country's Northwest.

Not surprisingly, the core mission of the IIU would also not win it many friends among the country's corrupt economic and political elite, who, many of the senior education and religious officials I met confided to me, share the Taliban's desire to silence any kind of critical scholarship or societal debate more broadly.

With this attack, the Taliban have struck what what until now was a sanctuary, however fragile and inchoate, where the emerging generation of Pakistanis and Muslims more broadly could determine on their own terms how best to bring together their own and other cultures and traditions to grapple with the profound challenges faced by their societies. I suppose it was inevitable, but I hope it doesn't weaken the spirit and resolve of the thousands of students who've come to the IIU from across the Muslim world to help build a better future. They are not just the future of Pakistan, or of Islam; they are are future as well.

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Ashfaq Ahmed - 11/20/2009

Mr. A. M. Eckstein, I am sorry but your information about Pakistan, Taliban and even Islam is myopic, incomplete and inauthentic.
Yes it was a suicide bomber who blew the IIU cafe, but was not a Taliban? Can u please get it confirmed?
84 Girls schools were not blown, simply shut down due to un availability of female teachers who could teach those girls according to Taliban's standard Shariah Law. Before there used to be male teacher and staff in those school.

I would even say even your intentions of discussing all this Islamic stuff don't seem sincere. why? because you continuously keep on blaming Islam for every dirty act a Muslim or a Group of Muslim do.

True Taliban are those in Afghanistan. They never allowed suicide bombing against civilians or non combatant enemies. Since US & Nato have been fighting them you would definitely blame them for like 9/11, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden etc. Because its all projected like that in YOUR CONTROLLED MEDIA. If Taliban or Al Qaeda could do something like 9/11 then why are they hiding in Afghanistan now. Bin Laden record a video against the west then upload it over the internet without getting noticed - Amazing. Which ISP did He used? & What type? Wireless, Dial up, Satellite?
A highly expert Hacker, some where in Malaysia put up a virus and with in 24 hrs got traced and arrested. Why can't bin Laden?

Any way If you are a Zionist/Zion Lover start better worrying about your self. Because what is destined to happen in Palestine is already written. whether you like it or not.

... and Taliban (the real ones) would Insha ALLAH be a good part of it. Whether the US or Nato or Isreal or whatever else like it or not. And believe me most Zionist know and believe in this much better than we Muslims do.

My Name is Ashfaq Ahmed from Karachi, Pakistan

arthur m. eckstein - 11/5/2009

The Japanese government also apologized in 1992 to Korea, because of the "comfort women", and again in 1993 on this topic, and again in 2007 on this topic.

The Japanese government ALSO apologized to:

Korea in 1965, to China in 1972, to all Asian countries in 1982 (twice in three days), to Korea in 1982, to Korea in 1984 (twice in three days again, including from Emperor Hirohito personally--which, um Mr. Dresner bitterly demanded: well, Mr. D, it happened), to all Asian nations in 1985, to all previous enemies in 1989, to Korea in 1990 (over forced removal of Koreans to Sakhalin Island), to Korea twice in two days a month later in 1990 (including from Emperor Akihito personally), to Korea again, twice, in 1992; to all Asian nations in 1994, to all previous enemies but especially in Asia in July and then in August 1995 (statement by the Diet, statement by Prime Minister), to Korea in 1996, once in June (by the Prime Minister), once in October (by Emperor Akihito), to all Asian countries, but especially China, in 1997, to Britain (over treatment of prisoners of war) in 1998, to Korea in 1998, to all Asian nations in 2000 (Foreign Ministry), to all previous enemies in Sept 2001 (Foreign Ministry), to Korea in Oct. 2001 (Prime Minister), to Korea in 2002 (Prime Minister), to all Asian countries, 2003 (Prime Minister), to all countries, 2005 (Prime Minister), to the U.S. (over treatment of prisoners of war) in 2007.

Well really...

Given THIS record, who is more right about the frequency of Japanese apologies--Abdalla al-Matiri, or Professor Desner?

In any case, the Arab record of apologies--in contrast to Japan--is zero.

A. M. Eckstein - 11/5/2009

Do you deny that the Emperor and the Prime Minister made this public apology?

The apology may be insufficient for you, Mr. Dresner, but it was very meaningful to the Japanese (as one knows from the opposition to the government decision).

The Muslims, meaning, have never offered any apology to their victims. For anything. Period.

The difference *even* with Japan is striking.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/5/2009

Mr. Eckstein, I'm a Japanese historian. I'm not taking any position in the discussion on Middle East apologies and politics, merely pointing out that al-Matiri, and yourself, are very wrong about Japan.

A. M. Eckstein - 11/5/2009

I named the specific country. I named the specific Mumbai terrorists.

Omar is simply afraid to look inside himself and and answer the question. Where else in the world, Omar, do people in the name of religion blow up 84 girls' schools? (I named the place: Swat.) Or blow up a WOMENS' cafeteria in a university (I named the university: IIU).

Omar throws a bit of dust in the air because he is afraid to look inside himself and answer the question. The quite specific question.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/5/2009

With such totally inane generalizations confidently laid down not only as ipso fact but as an every day practice as:
" why in Islamic countries men throw acid in women's faces. "
(Re: Bridging the GAP: addendum (#137936)
by arthur m. eckstein on November 5, 2009 at 9:00 AM )
Does it make any sense to answer and/or even attempt to discuss it with such a mentality?
NOT to, by or with me; for sure!

arthur m. eckstein - 11/5/2009

The apologies were very meaningful to the Japanese.

The Muslims have never offered any. For anything. Period.

I'm sure you see the difference. You just don't want to confront it.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/5/2009

Abdallah was exaggerating but not wrong. You can try to get around it all you want, but the fact remains that apologies were offered, including by the Emperor himself (very striking).

I'm sorry, Mr. Eckstein, but in this case the exaggeration does represent a fundamental error. If the apologies offered were meaningful, these issues would, in essence, go away; instead, they remain sore points precisely because these were effectively private rather than official acts, widely and correctly seen as token gestures rather than meaningful expressions.

As "striking" as you may think the Imperial gesture is, you're wrong. A similar statement from the previous emperor, under whose rule the atrocities were committed, might well have meant something, but his son has neither the historic role nor the authority to matter.

arthur m. eckstein - 11/5/2009

2nd sentence should read: why in Islamic countries men throw acid in women's faces. The vile Mumbai terrorists of last November...etc.

arthur m. eckstein - 11/5/2009

I meant your own personal version, Omar.

I repeat: you need to explain why in Islamic countries men blow up girls' schools (84 in Swat, dozens more in Afghanistan). Or why throw the vile Mumbai terrorists of last November came from the single area in the world which has the largest number of such attacks in the world--for reasons of religion (Islam). Or why a Pakistani female govt minister was shot dead two years ago (DEAD, Omar) by a religious Muslim on the grounds that Islam forbids women in politics.

You keep avoiding this question.

If it is a misinterpretation of the Koran or Sharia, you need to explain why this (mis)interpretation is so widespread.

This is the fifth or sixth time I have asked you this direct question. When you ask me a direct question, I answer.

Omar, you obviously don't want to answer this one.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/5/2009

As with your history prowess (Cultures of the World in 1000 words?) your ( singular) ability at across the board indiscriminate general incision, inspection , characterization and appraisal of diverse cultures is breathtakingly awe inspiring , unmatched, unmatchable and enviable.

Coupled with the astounding ability to declaim such pearls of wisdom and historical and/or personal detection as :
"Your ( is that singular or plural?) version of Muslim culture is infantile: us vs. them,... "

Denotes an extraordinary courage coupled with bottomless erudition.

arthur m. eckstein - 11/4/2009

Nevertheless, with all the caveats, Abdallah was exaggerating but not wrong. You can try to get around it all you want, but the fact remains that apologies were offered, including by the Emperor himself (very striking). That the Emperor spoke a the behest of the cabinet doesn't detract from the statement--quite the opposite.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/4/2009

The Japanese PM at the time was Socialist, and had to speak informally "for himself and the cabinet" but could not -- due to parliamentary resistance -- speak for the government or people of Japan. The Emperor's statement was done at the behest of the cabinet -- as are all Imperial statements -- and has not been repeated, nor published as formal remarks.

Pelosi, also, was acting on her own behalf -- at best in her political role as Speaker of the House -- and has no mandate to speak for the American people on this, or any other issue.

Both of those were singular events, not "every year" rituals.

A. M. Eckstein - 11/4/2009

You denied such an analysis of the origins of the U.S. Civil War was ever or could be done; I gave you a summary of the usual points made, and added that (of course) much more could be said.

Having been shown up, you resort to infantile sarcasm. How about an apology instead?

Oh--you don't engage in introspection. Even when Muslims blow up girls' schools, or the Girls' Cafeteria at IIU, for religious reasons.

Well, it's one difference between your personal version of Muslim culture and the culture of the West. Your version of Muslim culture is infantile: us vs. them, that's the only issue, and it's an outrage if an "infidel" does violence to a Muslim even if the infidel is only SHOOTING BACK, and no apologies should be offered to the infidels, ever, no matter how grotesque Muslim behavior is. Like I said, it's infantile. The other culture does customarily engage in analysis and self-analysis. As I've just shown.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/4/2009

Obviously Prof you are a great historian and possibly a history making historian.

Obviously Prof your capability for in depth analysis of the interplay between culture /society/history making factors , in less than 700 words, is unmatched, unmatchable and enviable.

Obviously Prof you deserve to stand, shoulder to shoulder, with, inter alia, Gibbons, Hitti and Toynbee.

Obviously Prof you are underestimated!!

A. M. Eckstein - 11/4/2009

In 2007, U.S. House Speaker Pelosi personally placed a wreath at the monument to the Hiroshima victims.

art eckstein - 11/4/2009

In 1995 both the Japanese prime minister and the Emperor apologized for the Nanking Massacre.

The Chinese weren't satisfied, but that's a different issue.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/4/2009

Arab journalist 'Abdallah Al-Matiri wrote:

"Every year, nations apologize for their past mistakes. Every year, the American people apologize to the Japanese for the crime of dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The Japanese, for their part, apologize every year for their crimes against the East Asian countries…

That's one of the most bizarre things I've ever read: is he being satirical? Japan is famous for its unapologetic attitude towards its continental victims, and US attitudes regarding the atomic bomb are more in the "hell, yeah" than the head-hanging category.

arthur m. eckstein - 11/4/2009

"Unlike Other Nations, the Arabs Are Incapable Of Apologizing"

Arab journalist 'Abdallah Al-Matiri wrote:

"Every year, nations apologize for their past mistakes. Every year, the American people apologize to the Japanese for the crime of dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The Japanese, for their part, apologize every year for their crimes against the East Asian countries…

"These examples show that acts of murder and destruction are usually accompanied by a feeling of shame - and therefore the Arabs are an exception to the rule, [since] they invariably refuse to apologize or to acknowledge mistakes.

"This sick, confused, and twisted behavior is the product of a culture that judges not on the basis of 'right vs. wrong' but of 'me vs. the other' - [i.e.] I condemn only that which harms me, and everyone else can go to hell.

"Some claim that although the September 11 attacks were perpetrated by Muslims, the Muslims [as a whole] are not responsible for them; there is no right to lay collective blame. Many have used this argument. Yet I will ask: Throughout past or modern history, has the [Arab or Muslim] nation been known to apologize even once? Has Iraq apologized to Kuwait? Has Egypt apologized to Yemen? Have the Muslims apologized for the crimes they committed in the times of the Muslim Empire? Nothing of the kind has ever happened…

"The only courageous position is the one that prompts man to condemn any crime against humanity, irrespective of its motives. It is the only correct position."

The attack on IIU happened; the attack on the Women's Cafeteria there happened; the blowing up of hundreds of girls' schools happened; the blowing up of hundreds of worshipping Muslims in mosques, during Ramadan, by other Muslims happened. 9/11 happened. 5/5 in London happened. Vicious attacks on Jewish, Christian and Hindu civilians, and vicious attacks on women everywhere, happen all the time.

But to you, Omar, it is not real. What counts is not right vs. wrong but only us vs. them--as al-Matiri says. So to point out these real and horrible facts being inflicted on the planet by Muslims is to you merely slander, vilification, and evidence of profound ill-will. Good will would evidently be to ignore Muslim hyperviolence against civilians planet-wide (mostly, to be sure, against fellow Muslims but not limited to them).

arthur m. eckstein - 11/4/2009

It's easy.

Obviously vile racism in the South, with all its psychological sources, in contrast to the Christian Revival in the North, with all its psychological sources, were deep cultural factors that led to the Civil War; obviously capitalism in the North, vs. agricultural economy in the South, led to great misunderstandings between the parts of the country; obviously fear of the extension of the moral stain (and economic competition) of slavery into the North motivated Lincoln and many others in the North, along with a fear of the imposition of a slave-owning aristocracy on "free soil"; while paranoia about slave rebellion deeply motivated Jefferson Davis and many others in the South. One could go on. It's a common method of analysis. The Muslim world is not, and should not be, immune to this sort of analysis, especially since the majority of violence against innocent civilians in the world is being committed by Muslims.

The FACT is that Muslims never are self-critical in front of Infidels--and never apologize for the vile acts committed in the name of Islam. That includes you, Omar. You can't do it. You simply can't do it.

And other cultures can. Ask the Pope. Even the Japanese have apologized for the Nanking Massacre.
But Muslims such as yourself simply can't look inside to figure out why the vast majority of attacks of acid against women in the entire planet occur in the most religiously Muslim part of Pakistan. Or why the Taliban blew up the Girls' Cafeteria at the IIU. Or blew up hundreds of girls' schools in Swat and Afghanistan. If Islam doesn't command this, even so you must ask yourself seriously why do the Taliban think it DOES--and commands widespread support?

But you simply won't do it.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/4/2009


“What is it in American democracy/ economy/temperament/social –psychological build up that made Americans go on killing millions of their compatriots for several years in the American Civil War?”

Being, to you, a " a perfectly legitimate historical question, ... "
Would you care to answer it within the limitations of HNN posting??

A. M. Eckstein - 11/3/2009

That would be a perfectly legitimate historical question, and there is a vast literature on it.

My question too is perfectly legitimate. Omar is desperate not to answer is, as if widespread religiously-inspired Muslim violence doesn't exist and cannot be parallelled in any modern religion. Rather than face the attack on the IIU, he ascribes any concerns to "vilification." It's a way of avoiding answering the question.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/3/2009

Attempts at vilification by presumed simplification of complex political/social/economic issues by outlining, or implying, a certain facet, event(s) or accompaniments thereto as "typical", "largely representative ", "representative " or “standard” for or about a people , doctrine or culture pithily condensed for theatrical effect into supposedly “penetrating questions” quite often denote abysmal ignorance and/or moronic disposition and more often than not emerge there from.

To, say, ask:
“What is it in American democracy/ economy/temperament/social –psychological build up that made Americans go on killing millions of their compatriots for several years in the American Civil War?”

Would be such a question!

arthur m. eckstein - 11/2/2009

That should be: Omar still has to explain *why* this (mis)interpretation of Islam is so dreadfully widespread.

I doubt he can do it without embarrassment. I'm not saying this is all of Islam, so don't make that slanderous accusation, Omar, as a way of avoiding the question. It is a question you have been asked dozens of times, and have never answered.

A. M. Eckstein - 11/2/2009

"Widespread" refers to the hyperviolence against civilians consistently done in the name of Islam--for instance, blowing up universities such as IIU. Or girls' schools--84 in Swat, for instance, and dozens in Afghanistan. Or blowing up dozens of mosques, filled with worshippers--done by Muslims.

If such hyperviolence against, e.g., institutions of learning, including higher education, is a misunderstanding of Islam, Omar still has *why* this (mis)interpretation of Islam is so widespread.

We're not talking about one crazy Jew in Hebron 15 years ago. We're talking about an entire widespread movement.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/2/2009

OK Prof I will put it in simpler words for you to better understand.

The above mentioned ascendancy of the imperialist/Zionist, aka the Christian Fundamentalist-neo con /Jewish-Zionist, alliance was naturally enough accompanied by an extensive PR and disinformation campaign aiming at the vilification of Islam and further alienating the Arab-Moslem/Judeo-Christian worlds towards each other

Being in almost total domination of the media and the greater part of Academia the said alliance thus managed to create the "wide spread" animosity towards Islam you refer to.

Perhaps their biggest success in this respect, an achievement that substantially and ultimately serves only Israel and Zionism, was to collate in the general Western mind Islam/Jihadism with Al Qaeida / Ben Laden particularly post 9/11.

Later, and presently ongoing, events have, as you might have noticed, led to the slow unveiling of the ulterior objectives and ultimate beneficiary from this “war” and the burgeoning unraveling of this alliance .

arthur m. eckstein - 11/1/2009

In other words, Omar has no answer to my specific question.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/1/2009

"why the religion (Islam) is
subject to such *widespread*

The question is asked out of ignorance or malice.
Most probably it is asked out of both PLUS, clearly, as part of the ongoing politically motivated , imperialist/Zionist, general vilification campaign; of which this particular question is only a puerile rehash .

A well known historical fact is that almost immediately after the fall of the USSR and the demise of the communist block which led to the ascendency of the Zionist/imperialist coalition Mrs. Thatcher, then prime Minister of the UK, declared " Our prime enemy now is Islam"( which is NOT a direct quote but actually words to that effect.)

Then president of the USA, Ronald Reagan, was quick to concur and neo conservatism was not late in becoming the declared and officially adopted political doctrine of the USA and followers.

Neo-conservatism, in essence a Christian Fundamentalist-imperialist /Jewish-Zionist alliance, openly ruled the USA, most of the West and underlings, for eight years during the Bush/Wolfowitz Administration.
The political record of that Administration left little doubt as to its political orientation and is too recent to recapitulate.

An interesting footnote in modern history is that during the capitalist/communist conflict
"official Islam" was a pampered and cherished ally of the imperialist camp that substantially contributed to the fall of the USSR, and communism in general, in Afghanistan.

The Western attitude towards Islam has invariably been formulated and dictated in modern times by Western political motives.

(However Professor Eckstein as long as “widespread” includes your likes there is absolutely no reason for Moslems to worry for soon enough it will be restricted to your likes.
If anything at all coming from you and ilk it is a testament to its efficacy in combating both imperialism and Zionism. )

arthur m. eckstein - 11/1/2009

It's not my "prejudice" that led to the blowing up of over 80 girls' schools in Swat when the Taliban ruled there, Omar.

It's not my "prejudice" that has led the Taliban to blow up dozens of girls' schools in Afghanistan.

Even if you say that their interpretation of Islam is wrong, corrupt, and degenerate, you have to answer exactly why the religion is subject to such *widespread* misinterpretation.

I repeat: we're not talking about one crazy Jew in Hebron. We're talking about an entire movement.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/1/2009

The professor inquires:
"How else but on "Islamic" religious grounds do you explain the attack on the WOMEN's Cafeteria at the IIU, Omar?"

It only takes a truly perverted and sick mind, boundless ignorance of Islam to find no other possible explanation for this abominable act.

In as much as it reflects a thoroughly blinding bias, an incapacitating predujuice and bottomless ignorance of Islam it denotes a very limited mental capability.

arthur m. eckstein - 11/1/2009

1. How else but on "Islamic" religious grounds do you explain the attack on the WOMEN's Cafeteria at the IIU, Omar?

2. I think Omar may be implying that this attack was "really" done by Mossad, or perhaps the CIA...Anyone but the Muslims who (according to the Muslim govt of Pakistan) did it. The same Muslims who destroyed 87 girls' schools in Swat, in the name of Islam. Or was tht Mossad as well, Omar?

3. As for Goldstein, Omar's depiction of his popularity in Israel is simply false. (What else is new?)

4. Omar also implies that I am happy about what occurred. That's a slander as well. What I have is just grim confirmation of the mindless hyperviolence I see happening from certain types of Muslims all around the world (not once, in Hebron, 15 years ago). In any case, people are being blown up in mosques almost every day in Iraq and Afghanistan--by Muslims. By Muslims, Omar. What in the religion causes this, what in the religion allows this? That a crazy Jew once did a similar attack 15 years ago does not absolve the Muslims who do it every day currently on a much vaster scale.

omar ibrahim baker - 11/1/2009

Some mega crimes, particularly mass massacres of civilian bystanders which normally carry a political” message” are often impossible to explain and more so to attribute , ie to identify its their direct and indirect perpetrators and their real motives, with so many potential “beneficiaries” .Patently this crime was/is a source of joy for some .

Others are well known, widely publicized, unerringly attributed and glorified.
The killing of scores of Moslems at prayer in the Hebron Grand, Al Ibrahimi, mosque is one of the latter category.
Its perpetrator is well known, his name is spoken with reverence, his motives are widely shared, his crime is defended, justified and eulogized and his memory is idolized by his fellow settlers who erected a statue in his honor,…. where else than in Israel??

arthur m. eckstein - 10/31/2009

Gee, Omar--does that explain the homicidal attack on a UNIVERSITY?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/31/2009

Professor Le Vine
I believe I do understand you and I do appreciate that you are among the well intentioned Western minority that holds as promising and eventually fruitful what you paraphrased as : " where the emerging generation of Pakistanis and Muslims more broadly could determine on their own terms how best to bring together their own and other cultures and traditions ( principally Judeo/Christian- Western /my addition)to grapple with the profound challenges faced by their societies. "

Being the bottom line of your post, both physically and substantially/meaningfully, your sentence seems to conclude by strong implication that:
"how best to bring together their own and OTHER cultures " is THE problem.

It, mutual and reciprocated acceptance and respect of our respective cultures and sovereignty, certainly is a problem BUT CERTAINLY NOT THE PROBLEM that separates us, alienates us and pits our two worlds and cultures against each other in an increasingly acrimonious and geographically wide spread confrontation.

The problem is POLITICAL in the sense that the WEST is using all direct, as the conquest of Iraq, and indirect methods at its rich disposal, as the implantation and sustenance of Israel in Palestine and empowering it into the regional super power, to maintain its suzerainty over us by infringe on our sovereignty and dominating both us and our resources for the ulterior benefit of its economies and cultural biases.

Only an outright cessation of the West's attempts to extend its direct and indirect colonialist domination, though under new disguises, a clear termination of Western identification with Israel and an unequivocal ending of its domineering designs and aspirations could help to bridge this ever widening gap.

arthur m. eckstein - 10/28/2009

Prof. Levine, can you name me one other faith where universities are literally blown up in the name of God? This university wasn't attacked for political reasons alone; it was attacked for *religious* reasons, isn't that one of the thing the Taliban said?

One can talk about how the Taliban in their primitive manner have hideously corrupted Islam. Maybe so, yet they have many, many followers in the NWF areas. They are pouring out of the madrassas, are they not? And if those hundreds (or thousands) of "teachers" in all those madrassas are teaching a perverse, violent and anti-intellectual form of Islam, in which it is good to blow up universities, then what, in your opinion, makes Islamic dogma so susceptible to this sort of anti-human interpretation?

I am asking not a polemical but a serious question.