Tag Archives: jihad

Angels of Woolwich

Angels of WoolwichThe story coming out of the public, broad-daylight murder of a British soldier in the Woolwich section of London yesterday includes the actions of three ordinary English women who happened upon the scene: Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, who spoke to one of the killers in an effort to calm him and prevent more bloodshed, and a mother and daughter, Amanda and Gemini Donnelly-Martin, who cradled the body of the brutally butchered British soldier and prayed at his side. All of this took place while the police had yet to arrive. In the British press, they are already being called the “angels of Woolwich.”

So, there is a testimony of actions on May 22nd, 2013, on this street in Woolwich. It looks something like this: The two killers were driving in a car. They saw the soldier, who we now know to be Lee James Rigby. (Whether this was a chance encounter or a carefully planned one is yet to be established.) They swerved their car into him, pinning him against a road-sign or other obstacle. Now that he was injured and disabled, the two men got out of the car with their knives and proceeded to hack him to pieces while yelling “God is great.” That was their act of bravery and their statement of devotion to their god and their chosen culture. And they spent the rest of their time making sure that their pictures were taken and their voices recorded taking credit for what they did and why they did it. Continue reading Angels of Woolwich

The Cinch Review

Newsflash: It’s illegal to spray paint stuff in the New York City subway system

You would think that even a tourist from Bangladesh would understand that it’s against the law to whip out a can of spray-paint and start coloring things in the NYC subway (despite some people’s nostalgia for how things were in the 70s and 80s) but a journalist living in New York named Mona Eltahawy was arrested for doing so, and persecuted the poor arresting officers with strident demands to know what she was being arrested for. Well, “duh,” as they say. Watch below, if you have the gumption. Her attempt to deface an advertisement with which she did not agree was vigorously opposed by a blogger named Pamela Hall.

There’s so much to say on this subject that it’s hard to know where to begin and where to end.

If the goal of the ads was to cause controversy and provoke debate, they have succeeded to the nth degree.

The ads state:

IN ANY WAR
BETWEEN THE CIVILIZED MAN
AND THE SAVAGE
SUPPORT THE
CIVILIZED MAN

SUPPORT ISRAEL
DEFEAT JIHAD

These ads were designed by Pamela Geller, in response to anti-Israel ads that ran in September of 2011 in the MTA system. Due to legal challenges, Geller’s ads did not run until now (as it happens in the wake of the recent anti-YouTube riots throughout the “Muslim world”).

I strongly support the sentiment behind the ads, but I wouldn’t have written them this way. I think that when the word “savage” is invoked, versus the “civilized man,” the first thought by the average liberal New Yorker would be of Native Americans victimized by white Europeans. Their education, from high school, college and popular culture (right up to James Cameron’s “Avatar”), kicks in very strongly at the concept of “savages.” If there are any savages, they must be noble ones. It is the so-called “civilized man” who is to be suspected, if not loathed outright.

So, if you label anyone as a savage, you have awarded them with an advantage, in terms of public relations.

I simply would have worded the ads this way:

IN ANY WAR
BETWEEN FREEDOM
AND OPPRESSION
SUPPORT FREEDOM

SUPPORT ISRAEL
DEFEAT JIHAD

In the end, that’s what this is about. Still, Pamela Geller has provoked debate about all of these issues, and perhaps some of those who are asleep will be woken up by the ruckus. That would be a very good thing.

Myriam Monsenego

Mohammed Merah: a “Lone Wolf” and an Idea that Will Not Be Shamed

Myriam MonsenegoMohammed Merah was the twenty-three year-old jihadist who brutally murdered three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse, which was a follow-up to his killing of three French soldiers earlier in March. His older brother, Abdelkader, reportedly has said that he “is proud” of Mohammed’s actions.

Those actions include not only the cold-blooded human slaughter itself, but Mohammed’s filming of the acts. He had already uploaded his videos to a jihadist website, to inspire his brothers in faith, including the footage of him killing a terrified eight year-old Jewish girl. From the New York Post:

Mohammed Merah is seen yanking Myriam Monsenego by her hair — then firing a bullet into her head while he holds her.

Officials believe Merah strapped on a camera before each murder and posted the videos on jihadi Web sites, where he believed they would inspire other al Qaeda wannabes.

Mohammed was not really innovating in what he did. Al-Qaeda and other jihadist killers have long used video recordings of their bloody slaughter of helpless victims to encourage, entertain and inspirit one another. None of these jihadist perpetrators should properly be called “lone wolves.” They share a philosophy and a network, one which continues to produce additional actors all over the world.

It’s not pleasant to contemplate this kind of evil. It’s natural to want to turn one’s head away and dismiss it as aberrant and incomprehensible. I’m as guilty of that inclination as anyone.

However, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, these acts raise questions that have to be reflected upon by anyone who desires to live oriented towards reality rather than a false rosy horizon. There is violence everywhere, and there always has been, but what is it that makes so many human beings today believe—without any apparent doubt or shame—that acts of this nature are not only desirable in the moment but objectively good? Mohammed Merah truly believed as he jumped out that window with bullets flying that he was on his way to heaven, to be with God and to be rewarded by God for the actions he had taken. God, he believed, was going to reward him for grabbing the hair of eight-year old Myriam Monsenego, yanking her head towards him and firing a bullet into her skull. His brother, still living, agrees, as do his fellows watching the videos on the jihadist websites. This is the same motivation which is behind countless acts of inexpressibly horrific violence going on around the world. (Most of it, of-course, takes place not in western nations like France, where it gets so much attention, but rather in Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, often directed against fellow Muslims, or in countries with burgeoning Muslim majorities like Nigeria.)

It is a very different quality of evil which is so confidently convinced of its own objective and eternal goodness, very different to the evil of pure blood-lust or of violent greed for money and power. It cannot be characterized as being completely unprecedented; people have been killed in the name of dark distortions of Christianity and of other religions before. However, surely it is unique in its imperviousness to the judgment of time and its apparent immunity to correction through reflective leadership and reform. Islam originated with Muhammad in the seventh century and, bluntly-speaking, the idea that killing people on the basis of who they are (Jews, Christians, infidels) can be regarded as an objective good has persisted since those earliest days. Of-course, it is not a behavior practiced by the majority of Muslims, as if that even needs to be said. But the idea itself that slaughtering even the helpless, even innocent children, on the basis of their non-submission to Islam can be good, laudable and holy: that idea has not gone away. And the consequences of that idea show no signs of abating in our modern world, in this twenty-first century. Far from it, as if that even needs to be said. President Obama is in Seoul this very day at a summit regarding nuclear proliferation. He has said that the danger of terrorists setting off a nuclear bomb in an American city is “the single most important national security threat that we face.” If or when that happens, it’s almost certainly going to be just one more consequence of this same idea. Millions may be destined for violent death in this century as a direct result of it.


Again, I feel I’m probably belaboring the obvious, and perhaps coming across as being naive, but every now and then, as these events proceed on and on, it is worth stopping to ask the basic questions, if only to resist falling into total callousness. Here is such a basic question: What is being done, within Islam, to defeat and eradicate this persistent idea? It is not enough for some imams or select Islamic spokespeople to react to the acts of a Mohammed Merah by saying, yet again, “This has nothing to do with Islam.” Yes, it did have something to do with Islam. Mohammed Merah believed he was going to heaven and would be rewarded for, among other things, grabbing eight-year old Myriam Monsenego by her hair while discharging his gun into her cranium. He believed this was a good thing, that it was something to proudly film and share to encourage others. And all around the world, more and more Mohammeds are convinced daily of the same basic idea, and are acting upon it. (If they are not killing Jews or infidels, they are killing fellow Muslims who they judge to be falling short in some way.) Why is it so apparently impossible for this idea to be fought and defeated by other Muslims? Why in fact does the horrible nature of such acts not produce a wave of shame that might extinguish the fire of would-be perpetrators?

I know that there are those who can write treatises in response to such questions, and I sometimes read them too. Maybe the answers are already out there. But sometimes you just have to stop and ask the questions again.