Monday, July 26, 2004

Dar al Islam - meet Dar al Jihad 

Anthony Browne writes in the "Spectator":

"A year ago I had lunch with an eminent figure who asked if I thought she was mad. 'No,' I said politely, while thinking, 'Yup.' She had said she thought there was a secret plot by Muslims to take over the West. I have never been into conspiracy theories, and this one was definitely of the little-green-men variety. It is the sort of thing BNP thugs claim to justify their racial hatred.

"Obviously, we all know about Osama bin Laden's ambitions. And we are all aware of the loons of al-Muhajiroun waving placards saying 'Islam is the future of Britain'. But these are all on the extremist fringe, representative of no one but themselves. Surely no one in Islam takes this sort of thing seriously? I started surfing the Islamic media."
What Browne has found surprised him (which is rather scary, seeing that he is a correspondent for London "Times"), but as he notes, there is no conspiracy or secret plot - the desire of many (majority? overwhelming majority?) in the Islamic world to see the rest of the world converted to their religion is quite in the open. And quite understandable - after all, in its sentiment it's no different then the great missionary push of the 19th century, which saw a massive effort on the part of virtually all Christian denominations to convert the "heathens" of Africa, Asia and the Pacific. There are some differences, though, as Browne points out:

"Christendom has - by and large - stopped conquering and converting, and indeed in Europe simply stopped believing. Even President Bush's most trenchant critics don't believe he conquered Afghanistan and Iraq to spread the word of Jesus. It is ironic that by deposing Saddam, who ran the most secular of Arab regimes, the US actually transferred power to the imams.

"I believe in a free market in religions, and it is inevitable that if you believe your religion is true, then you believe others are false. But this market is seriously rigged. In Saudi Arabia the government bans all churches, while in Europe governments pay to build Islamic cultural centres. While in many Islamic countries preaching Christianity is banned, in Western Christian countries the right to preach Islam is enshrined in law. Christians are free to convert to Islam, while Muslims who convert to Christianity can expect either death threats or a death sentence. The Pope keeps apologising for the Crusades (even though they were just attempts to get back former Christian lands) while his opposite numbers call for the overthrow of Christendom.

"In Christian countries, those who warn about Islamification, such as the film star Brigitte Bardot, are prosecuted, while in Muslim countries those who call for the Islamification of the world are turned into TV celebrities. In the West, schools teach comparative religion, while in Muslim countries schools teach that Islam is the only true faith. David Blunkett in effect wants to ban criticism of Islam, a protection not enjoyed by Christianity in Muslim countries. Millions of Muslims move to Christian countries, but virtually no Christians move to Muslim ones."
How the world, both Islamic and Western, will manage and try to resolve these problems will surely be one of the great tests for humanity in the twenty first century.


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