Friday, August 19, 2005

Condemnations of terrorism -- real and bogus

Sam Fleischacker recently called attention to a formal ruling by the Fiqh Council of North America that condemns "all acts of terrorism targeting civilians." When one examines such pronouncements closely, it usually turns out that there's less to them than meets the eye. But I am increasingly convinced that this one, exceptionally, is for real--and it ought to be highlighted and commended. To quote from my message message posted below:
As I have noted in the past, there is a distressingly common tendency for individuals and groups to make pious declarations that pretend to be unequivocal condemnations of all terrorist attacks that target "innocent civilians" ... but then, when one examines the fine print, it turns out that there is an exception allowing or excusing attacks against Israeli and/or Jewish civilians.
(The recent declaration by allegedly "moderate" Muslim religious leaders in Britain, which allegedly condemned all terrorism against civilians, is an an excellent example.
[....]
=> One rare and admirable exception is worth highlighting. This is a recent fatwa (i.e., a formal Islamic legal ruling) by a group of Islamic scholars in the US & Canada, the Fiqh Council of North America, that condemns "all acts of terrorism targeting civilians"--and really means it. On several occasions including an NPR interview Muzammil Siddiqi, head of the Fiqh Council of North America, has gone out of his way to indicate explicitly and unambiguously that this prohibition includes attacks against Israeli civilians. (I recommend listening to the NPR interview, for which I haven't come across a free transcript.)
So it would be incorrect and unfair to say that there have been no rulings by Muslim religious leaders that genuinely condemn the indiscriminate murder of Israeli civilians.
=> For the longer discussion from which these passages are lifted, see below.

Shalom,
Jeff Weintraub

=======================
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Hizb ut Tahrir - Dishonesty about terrorism, contd. (Harry's Place)
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 09:34:53 -0400
From: Jeff Weintraub
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

As I have noted in the past, there is a distressingly common tendency for individuals and groups to make pious declarations that pretend to be unequivocal condemnations of all terrorist attacks that target "innocent civilians" ... but then, when one examines the fine print, it turns out that there is an exception allowing or excusing attacks against Israeli and/or Jewish civilians.

(The recent declaration by allegedly "moderate" Muslim religious leaders in Britain, which allegedly condemned all terrorism against civilians, is an an excellent example.)

Let me emphasize that this kind of selective and dishonest pseudo-rejection of terrorism against civilians is NOT restricted to Muslims and Muslim organizations. However, since the September 11 attacks in 2001, it has increasingly become standard practice for radical Islamist organizations and their foreign apologists, who realize that an honest and straightforward endorsement of terrorist attacks against ordinary civilians--even Israelis and/or Jews--is no longer so respectable when addressing western audiences. The item below offers one more illuminating example.

=> As the old saying goes, hypocrisy is sometimes the homage that vice pays to virtue--so this could be taken as an encouraging sign that many people are uneasy with the idea that the deliberate and indiscriminate murder of ordinary civilians is a legitimate strategy for political conflicts. But it is important not to swallow this kind of stuff uncritically and let its practitioners get away with it. To reiterate what I said in a previous message:
Unfortunately, all this is typical, not exceptional. Whenever one reads news reports about Muslim clerics "unequivocally" condemning terrorism and the murder of civilians as un-Islamic, always check to see whether they added explicitly that this condemnation includes attacks on Jewish and Israeli civilians. If not, then the claim that they have "unequivocally" rejected terrorist attacks on civilians should be viewed with skepticism [which is a polite way of saying it is almost certainly bullshit].
=> One rare and admirable exception is worth highlighting. This is a recent fatwa (i.e., a formal Islamic legal ruling) by a group of Islamic scholars in the US & Canada, the Fiqh Council of North America, that condemns "all acts of terrorism targeting civilians"--and really means it. On several occasions including an NPR interview Muzammil Siddiqi, head of the Fiqh Council of North America, has gone out of his way to indicate explicitly and unambiguously that this prohibition includes attacks against Israeli civilians. (I recommend listening to the NPR interview, for which I haven't come across a free transcript.)

So it would be incorrect and unfair to say that there have been no rulings by Muslim religious leaders that genuinely condemn the indiscriminate murder of Israeli civilians.

--Jeff Weintraub
======================

David T on the mostly-British democratic-left weblog "Harry's Place"
August 19, 2005

Hizb ut Tahrir: The Islamic Rule on Hijacking Aeroplanes

Hizb ut Tahrir professes to be a non violent organisation and is seeking to avoid a ban on the basis that they do not incite their members to violence and specifically do not permit violence against civilians.

On their page, "FAQ About Hizb ut-Tahrir", the party states:

The rules of Islam forbid any aggression against civilian non-combatants. They forbid the killing of children, the elderly and non-combatant women even in the battlefield. They forbid the hijacking of civilian aeroplanes carrying innocent civilians and forbid the destruction of homes and offices that contain innocent civilians. All of these actions are types of aggression that Islam forbids.

That is, literally, a true statement. It is however deliberately misleading. It is clear that Hizb ut Tahrir are using the word "innocent" in its technical legal sense only.

If you click on this link, you can read Hizb ut Tahrir's learned and authoritative statement on the position. The ruling in question dates from 1988. It is Hizb ut Tahrir's present policy. It has not been rescinded, and it has not been superseded.

It provides that

- Aeroplanes from an "Islamic country" is "Muslim property" and cannot be hijacked.

- Aeroplanes from a "Kafir state with whom there is no direct war with Muslims" may not be hijacked.

- Aeroplanes from a "country which is at war with the Muslims, like Israel, it is allowed to hijack it , for there is no sanctity for Israel nor for the Jews in it and their property and we should treat them as being at war with us". In that case it is permitted to hijack and destroy the aeroplane and terrorize and kill the passengers.

As you know, Hizb ut Tahrir is a racist theocratic totalitarian political party which has been trying to make itself look itself look respectable, particularly since it now faces banning. Just as the BNP has tried to play down its racism, Hizb ut Tahrir has also been airbrushing away as much racist material as it can find from its website, in order to give the false impression that it is not a racist party.

When I pointed out what Hizb ut Tahrir was up to in my Open Democracy article, Abdul Wahid claimed that "the decision to remove some of our overseas literature from our British website was a considered response to the legitimate proposition that people who read it out of its context might see it as offensive".

That is simply untrue.

They removed the racist literature because it showed, too clearly, the true face of Hizb ut Tahrir.

And now they have been caught out again.

Hizb ut Tahrir is a party whose existing policy sanctions the hijacking of aeroplanes, and the killing of their passengers.

Posted by david t at August 19, 2005 11:04 AM | TrackBack

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