Merry Christmas from the World of Islam

With attention focused on the flagrant security breaches around Flight 253 on Christmas Day, too little has been made of the timing of the attack. Most readers will be surprised to learn that this was not the only Christmas attack on Christians. Here is a list of other holiday attacks which I found without extensive research: 

  1. On December 23, a bomb was detonated near the Syrian Orthodox church of St. Thomas in Mosul, Iraq.
  2. On the same day, a bomb exploded in the same city outside the Chaldean church of St. George, killing three people.
  3. Fifty Muslims barred the doors of the Tafat Church in northern Algeria to stop a Christmas service. According to the Algerian newspaper El Watan, the Muslims threatened to kill the pastor.
  4. On Christmas Eve, armed Muslims attacked worshipers at a church in Kalar Kahar, Pakistan, injuring 65 Christian women and children. Local police were called but refused to help.
  5. On December 17, about a thousand Muslims attacked the nearly-completed church of St. Albert, which was being readied for Christmas Mass, in Bekasi Regency, near Jakarta, Indonesia. The Muslims carried tanks of kerosene with which they set the church afire.
  6. In Nag Hamadi, Egypt, near Luxor, gunfire from a speeding car directed at worshipers leaving midnight mass on Coptic Christian Christmas (January 7) killed seven. The assailants escaped; Copts claimed that police sided with the Muslims who attacked them. A Coptic priest called it "a terrorist attack at a sensitive time." The head of the interfaith committee at al-Azhar University, Egypt's foremost  Islamic institution (where President Obama spoke last June), said the attack "wasn't motivated by religious differences," but out of the region's strong "concept of revenge" over an alleged sexual crime by a Copt last year.  
What the Media Ignore

I have not searched for additional instances. Isn't it noteworthy that you did not hear about any of this from the general media? Reporting such attacks might compel the media to consider tenets of Islam which appear to mandate desecration of Christian holy days.  Understanding that the analysis ventured below will subject me to accusations of bigotry and Islamophobia, let me hasten to explain: I have spent more than a half-century as a lawyer and writer defending human rights, including a long stint as counsel for the ACLU (an agency with which I am now in considerable disagreement) at the outset of my career. I do not seek to defame hundreds of millions of Muslims who live in peace alongside Christians. But neither can it be contended that Christmas violence is an aberration confined to the distant fringes of Islam.

A look at some texts widely circulated among Muslims -- with highlighting added by me --  is instructive. Sheikh Najih Ibrahim was confined until 2004 in an Egyptian prison for his role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat, apparently increasing his credibility to many followers. He explains the Jizya, the tax imposed on Christians and Jews, as "a symbol of humiliation of the infidels." He cites as authority the 14th-century Sunni scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, who wrote that the Jizya "aims at humiliating ungodliness and its followers, and insulting them." The medieval scholar in turn quotes a notorious passage of the Koran (9:29) which says Jizya is imposed "until they give the tribute by force with humiliation." Similarly, the 18th-century scholar Sheikh Maliki al-Adawi wrote: 

There is no doubt that one of the principal conditions of equity consists in banishing infidels from any distinction and any possibility of raising their status, and reducing them to humiliation and abasement.

The Clear and Present Danger to Our Civilization

Am I selectively choosing quotations to support my thesis? Definitely, yes. I am not attacking the Muslim literature, but I am calling attention to the killings committed in its name. I am not an expert on Islam. But it is well-known that Islamic tradition divides the world between dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam, and dar al-Harb, the abode of war. While advocacy of violence can be found in the literature and history of Christianity and Judaism, there is currently no ceaseless toll of daily murders committed in the names of these faiths. There are undoubtedly many quotations in the universe of Muslim literature which advocate peace and tolerance. But the clear and present danger menacing our country -- indeed, all of western civilization -- is the existence of significant numbers of Muslims who are willing to act on what they believe are divine commandments to humiliate and massacre Christians. We don't know how many of them there are or where most of them are hiding. But it appears that their numbers are increasing. And they are embedded among us. Anwar al-Awlaki, the persuasive preacher who indoctrinated both the Christmas would-be-bomber and the Ft. Hood mass murderer, was born in the United States, as were the five jihadis from northern Virginia recently arrested in Pakistan.

The Christmas attacks summarized above were committed in many countries on several continents, but the common thread is that Muslims felt they were ordained to humiliate and kill Christians. President Obama is now willing to say -- seemingly begrudgingly -- that we are "at war," but only with al-Qaeda (which is preferable to his dimwitted Secretary Napolitano, who calls terrorist attacks "man-caused disasters"). But the events of Christmas 2009 show that war is being waged against us on vast fronts. Tony Blair grasped more shrewdly than our own leaders that the threat comes not only from al-Qaeda, but from all of radical Islam when he recently said, "We will defeat this terrorism when we understand that it is one battle, one struggle (against) a global movement with an ideology." Blair knows what he is talking about because Muslim students at British universities are imbued with murderous ideology; four heads of student Islamic societies have been charged with serious terrorism.

Where Is Muslim Outrage at Mass Murder?

If there are contemporary Muslim authorities and scholars who have unambiguously condemned such murderousness and the texts claimed to justify them as repugnant to Islam, I have not seen the condemnations -- and I follow such matters closely. Nor have I heard apologies from Muslim leaders akin to what President Obama felt constrained to confess in Cairo. Instead, Muslim organizations tell us it constitutes bigotry to mention Islam and terrorism in the same breath, or to profile the young Muslim males who comprise the pool from which all the murderers are recruited. I have had this discussion face-to-face with both Mubarak (who said terrorism has "nothing to do with Islam" but, in point of fact, punishes terrorists harshly) and Arafat (who of course lied by defining jihad as nothing more than "the struggle to purify the soul"). Recently, I had a rather demure (for me) debate in print with Turkey's leading "moderate" Islamic spokesman. All he wanted to talk about was alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza, while he dismissively acknowledged that mass murders by Muslims are no more than "a problem." The bizarre, if not masochistic, nature of the conflict comes into focus when we recall that democracies are urged to refrain (and sometimes they do) from attacking Muslim terrorists during the "holy month" of Ramadan.

Islam is not a hierarchical religion, so there is no single authority who can prohibit mass murder of innocents in the name of Allah. But why can't a broad coalition of Muslim authorities announce that this is so instead of obsessively complaining about alleged offenses to Islam? Until this is at least attempted, the killers can continue to insist that they are acting in the name of authentic Islam. If our top intelligence gurus knew anything about the Islamic commandment to humiliate Christians, they would not have all been vacationing (and then failing to return) on Christmas Day. Nor would they have unpardonably blundered by failing to treat the bomber as an enemy combatant to be rigorously questioned before his government-provided lawyer told him to clam up. Let's hope our people are more vigilant -- and on the job -- on Easter.
With attention focused on the flagrant security breaches around Flight 253 on Christmas Day, too little has been made of the timing of the attack. Most readers will be surprised to learn that this was not the only Christmas attack on Christians. Here is a list of other holiday attacks which I found without extensive research: 

  1. On December 23, a bomb was detonated near the Syrian Orthodox church of St. Thomas in Mosul, Iraq.
  2. On the same day, a bomb exploded in the same city outside the Chaldean church of St. George, killing three people.
  3. Fifty Muslims barred the doors of the Tafat Church in northern Algeria to stop a Christmas service. According to the Algerian newspaper El Watan, the Muslims threatened to kill the pastor.
  4. On Christmas Eve, armed Muslims attacked worshipers at a church in Kalar Kahar, Pakistan, injuring 65 Christian women and children. Local police were called but refused to help.
  5. On December 17, about a thousand Muslims attacked the nearly-completed church of St. Albert, which was being readied for Christmas Mass, in Bekasi Regency, near Jakarta, Indonesia. The Muslims carried tanks of kerosene with which they set the church afire.
  6. In Nag Hamadi, Egypt, near Luxor, gunfire from a speeding car directed at worshipers leaving midnight mass on Coptic Christian Christmas (January 7) killed seven. The assailants escaped; Copts claimed that police sided with the Muslims who attacked them. A Coptic priest called it "a terrorist attack at a sensitive time." The head of the interfaith committee at al-Azhar University, Egypt's foremost  Islamic institution (where President Obama spoke last June), said the attack "wasn't motivated by religious differences," but out of the region's strong "concept of revenge" over an alleged sexual crime by a Copt last year.  
What the Media Ignore

I have not searched for additional instances. Isn't it noteworthy that you did not hear about any of this from the general media? Reporting such attacks might compel the media to consider tenets of Islam which appear to mandate desecration of Christian holy days.  Understanding that the analysis ventured below will subject me to accusations of bigotry and Islamophobia, let me hasten to explain: I have spent more than a half-century as a lawyer and writer defending human rights, including a long stint as counsel for the ACLU (an agency with which I am now in considerable disagreement) at the outset of my career. I do not seek to defame hundreds of millions of Muslims who live in peace alongside Christians. But neither can it be contended that Christmas violence is an aberration confined to the distant fringes of Islam.

A look at some texts widely circulated among Muslims -- with highlighting added by me --  is instructive. Sheikh Najih Ibrahim was confined until 2004 in an Egyptian prison for his role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat, apparently increasing his credibility to many followers. He explains the Jizya, the tax imposed on Christians and Jews, as "a symbol of humiliation of the infidels." He cites as authority the 14th-century Sunni scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, who wrote that the Jizya "aims at humiliating ungodliness and its followers, and insulting them." The medieval scholar in turn quotes a notorious passage of the Koran (9:29) which says Jizya is imposed "until they give the tribute by force with humiliation." Similarly, the 18th-century scholar Sheikh Maliki al-Adawi wrote: 

There is no doubt that one of the principal conditions of equity consists in banishing infidels from any distinction and any possibility of raising their status, and reducing them to humiliation and abasement.

The Clear and Present Danger to Our Civilization

Am I selectively choosing quotations to support my thesis? Definitely, yes. I am not attacking the Muslim literature, but I am calling attention to the killings committed in its name. I am not an expert on Islam. But it is well-known that Islamic tradition divides the world between dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam, and dar al-Harb, the abode of war. While advocacy of violence can be found in the literature and history of Christianity and Judaism, there is currently no ceaseless toll of daily murders committed in the names of these faiths. There are undoubtedly many quotations in the universe of Muslim literature which advocate peace and tolerance. But the clear and present danger menacing our country -- indeed, all of western civilization -- is the existence of significant numbers of Muslims who are willing to act on what they believe are divine commandments to humiliate and massacre Christians. We don't know how many of them there are or where most of them are hiding. But it appears that their numbers are increasing. And they are embedded among us. Anwar al-Awlaki, the persuasive preacher who indoctrinated both the Christmas would-be-bomber and the Ft. Hood mass murderer, was born in the United States, as were the five jihadis from northern Virginia recently arrested in Pakistan.

The Christmas attacks summarized above were committed in many countries on several continents, but the common thread is that Muslims felt they were ordained to humiliate and kill Christians. President Obama is now willing to say -- seemingly begrudgingly -- that we are "at war," but only with al-Qaeda (which is preferable to his dimwitted Secretary Napolitano, who calls terrorist attacks "man-caused disasters"). But the events of Christmas 2009 show that war is being waged against us on vast fronts. Tony Blair grasped more shrewdly than our own leaders that the threat comes not only from al-Qaeda, but from all of radical Islam when he recently said, "We will defeat this terrorism when we understand that it is one battle, one struggle (against) a global movement with an ideology." Blair knows what he is talking about because Muslim students at British universities are imbued with murderous ideology; four heads of student Islamic societies have been charged with serious terrorism.

Where Is Muslim Outrage at Mass Murder?

If there are contemporary Muslim authorities and scholars who have unambiguously condemned such murderousness and the texts claimed to justify them as repugnant to Islam, I have not seen the condemnations -- and I follow such matters closely. Nor have I heard apologies from Muslim leaders akin to what President Obama felt constrained to confess in Cairo. Instead, Muslim organizations tell us it constitutes bigotry to mention Islam and terrorism in the same breath, or to profile the young Muslim males who comprise the pool from which all the murderers are recruited. I have had this discussion face-to-face with both Mubarak (who said terrorism has "nothing to do with Islam" but, in point of fact, punishes terrorists harshly) and Arafat (who of course lied by defining jihad as nothing more than "the struggle to purify the soul"). Recently, I had a rather demure (for me) debate in print with Turkey's leading "moderate" Islamic spokesman. All he wanted to talk about was alleged Israeli crimes in Gaza, while he dismissively acknowledged that mass murders by Muslims are no more than "a problem." The bizarre, if not masochistic, nature of the conflict comes into focus when we recall that democracies are urged to refrain (and sometimes they do) from attacking Muslim terrorists during the "holy month" of Ramadan.

Islam is not a hierarchical religion, so there is no single authority who can prohibit mass murder of innocents in the name of Allah. But why can't a broad coalition of Muslim authorities announce that this is so instead of obsessively complaining about alleged offenses to Islam? Until this is at least attempted, the killers can continue to insist that they are acting in the name of authentic Islam. If our top intelligence gurus knew anything about the Islamic commandment to humiliate Christians, they would not have all been vacationing (and then failing to return) on Christmas Day. Nor would they have unpardonably blundered by failing to treat the bomber as an enemy combatant to be rigorously questioned before his government-provided lawyer told him to clam up. Let's hope our people are more vigilant -- and on the job -- on Easter.