Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Islamism and the Toronto Star

An email to Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui, and his reply. 

Dear Haroon Siddiqui:

In your column of February 14, you attempt to neutralize Islamic violence by pointing out the violence of non-Islamic people. Your observation "given Christian European history" does not excuse Islamic history. My bad behaviour does not justify the bad behaviour of my neighbour.

You state that Pope Benedict's "pronouncements are all the more shocking coming from an otherwise well-regarded religious scholar."  Damning with feint praise is high school rhetoric gleaned from Mark Anthony's "honourable men" funeral oration. Attacking the messenger does not produce quality argument. Perhaps the Pope had in mind the Christians being persecuted in many Muslim countries today. Follow this for a few weeks: www.persecution.net.

You describe the Pope's statement as a "bigoted view of Islam." Nor does name calling further any discussion. In his Regensburg speech (to which I presume you refer), Benedict quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel II. The emperor feared another Ottoman invasion (they had failed twice already), and was pleading for European assistance, when he said, "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

What could have motivated Manual to say that? Starting with Mohammed's command to conquer (Qu'ran passim), and up to Manuel's time (1391), Muslims had invaded, occupied, colonized, pillaged or raided for slaves, Christian Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, France, Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Cartage, Pisa, Armenia, Anatolia, Gallipoli, Kosovo, Southern Italy, Rome, and Thessalonica where they captured 30,000 Christians for their slave markets.

You object to the police "spying on law-abiding Muslims." During World War Two, law-abiding Germans, Austrians, Italians and suspected sympathizers, were spied on, investigated, finger printed, and interrogated at home and at places of employment. The government used its authority to detain anyone acting "in any manner prejudicial to the public safety or the safety of the state." As a result, many law-abiding citizens, some Canadian-born, were interned for the duration of the war.

The work of CSIS cannot be dismissed as uncovering only "few dozen at best" jihadists in Canada. It is fewer than "a few dozen"  who are currently in jail for conspiracy to blow up buildings in downtown Toronto. It was fewer that "a few dozen" who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon. It was fewer than "a few dozen" who blew up the Madrid and London subways. 

Given recent history, death is more than an "infinitesimal" possibility.

Yes, let's rid ourselves of "clichés and misconceptions," and be welcoming, but keeping history in mind. 

Siddiqui's verbatim reply: "It is not an excuse. It is a fact of European history. You defending the Pope's statement that he himself has recanted and apologized for and mostly reversed himself on? But I do thank you for reading."

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