Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Daniel Pipes - 4

Jihad Khazen Al-Hayat - 30/06/06

If Daniel Pipes is not diverting attention from Israeli murder of Palestinian schoolchildren, is not attacking Arabs and Muslims, or is not intimidating university professors in Middle Eastern studies, one would find him exercising his racism and extremism in his most recent project, Islamist Watch.

The Middle East Forum website has been carrying a job announcement – the director for the forum’s new “Islamist Watch” project. This project will add new weapons to Pipes’ long campaign against Islam and Islamists.

The self-avowed aim of Islamist Watch is to “combat the ideas and institutions of non-violent, radical Islam in the United States and other Western countries. It exposes the far-reaching goals of Islamists, works to reduce their power, and seeks to strengthen moderate Muslims.”

This statement invites the question of definitions. Given they are non-violent yet radical, how is this to be defined? And how are the ‘moderate Muslims’ of the type acceptable to Pipes and his group to be identified?

Given the years of campaigning against Islamists by Pipes, this suggests that Muslims in the US and the West are in for more hate campaigns and targeting. It is a recipe for increased paranoia, which may be what Pipes wants.

Why is it that the Middle East Forum sees “Lawful Islamism” as such a threat? It says that Islamists ultimately seek “hegemonic control via a worldwide caliphate that applies Islamic law. Afghanistan under the Taliban offers one model of what they would establish globally.”

Here the Middle East Forum is taking the most extreme example of an Islamic state, allowing no room for variation and diversity of view. This is like a Muslim accusing all Jews around the world, the vast majority of whom are peace-loving, of being as criminal as the Israeli government. Such a Muslim would be as racist as Pipes.

Pipes suggests that non-violent Islamists are a threat. “Terrorism is one method to advance these projects but it is not the only one. Indeed the activities of non-violent Islamists arguably will prove a more effective tactic in the long term.” While the public “intuitively understands” the threat of terrorism and is mobilized by it, and while states have well-developed institutions such as law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the military and the justice system, to protect and fight against it, the activities of non-violent extremists are not alarming and institutions do not exist to deal with this problem.

How do lawful Islamists advocate their cause? “Through lobbying politicians, intimidating the media, threatening international boycotts, making predatory use of the legal system, advancing novel legislation, influencing the contents of school textbooks, and in other ways exploiting the freedoms of an open society.”

The Middle East Forum warns that the lawful Islamists advance their agenda in “incremental steps, each of which in itself is minor but in the aggregate point to fundamental changes in society.”

Pipes’ think tank gives numerous examples of “steps taken by non-Muslims to accommodate Islamists”. They include selling land at discount prices for building mosques or other Islamic institutions; banning the use of piggybanks – the symbol of frugality – in the advertising of two British banks; requiring that female American soldiers in Saudi Arabia wear US government-issued abayas; recognising polygamous marriages for tax purposes in the UK; permitting public schools and public airwaves to be used to convert non-Muslims; setting aside women-only bathing at a municipal swimming pool in France; using taxpayer funds for Muslim-women only swimming times in Washington State; and authorising Muslim-only neighbourhoods or events.

Pipes does not mention the fact that by no means all Muslims supported the banks’ ban on piggybanks in advertising, with some Muslims considering the banks were being over-sensitive. Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood criticized the ban and said he doubted that many Muslims would be seriously offended by the advertising. The use of pigs in advertising has in any case proved controversial in Britain, not just among Muslims but also among Jews. There was a huge fuss when the Labour party in the last general election campaign devised posters depicting the leader of the Conservatives Michael Howard and the shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin as flying pigs. Both Howard and Letwin happen to be Jewish, and there were accusations of anti-Semitism over the posters, which were withdrawn.

How does Pipes think Lawful Islamism should be resisted?
His group says the fight against “invidious Islam” has two components.

The first is to widen the “war on terror” from violent enemies to political enemies. “The war needs to be understood to involve scholarship, think tank research, textbooks, campus activities, the media, press relations, philanthropy, corporate decisions, political lobbying, lawsuits, feature moves, toys computer games, and much else.”

The second component is “to identify and encourage the work of truly moderate Muslims who working with non-Muslims, can help reduce the power of the Islamists.” Moderate Muslims have several key roles: such as fighting the application of Islamic law as in Ontario.

Bizarrely, the Middle East Forum singles out for praise as a “moderate Muslim engaging in undercover work” Mazher Mahmood, the highly controversial journalist at the News of the World who was recently discredited and exposed when he tried to entrap the MP George Galloway in a sting concerning the financing of his Respect Party. Maybe Pipes likes the fact that Mahmood targeted Galloway - certainly Pipes wouldn’t like Galloway’s stance on Palestine and on Iraq.

If Daniel Pipes is allowed to decide who is moderate and who is radical I am leaving the Umma.
The “creative thinking in this more subtle war” must be initiated outside the government, the Middle East Forum says. Why? Because due to the demands of political correctness, state authorities find it difficult to do and say what is needed. “Governments have a record of bad judgements and of welcoming Islamists.”


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