Protesters took to the streets across Turkey this week, after audio recordings purportedly of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordering his son to dispose of vast amounts of cash amid a graft probe surfaced and went viral on the Internet. Thousands of people demonstrated in 11 cities, including Ankara and Istanbul (Constantinople), shouting anti-government and anti-Erdogan slogans, according to China’s Xinhua news agency. Police in the capital fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd that chanted, “The government resigns” and “Thief Erdogan.”
In Istanbul, protests were reportedly held at 10 locations, with the biggest demonstration in the district of Kadikoy, where some 5,000 people marched to the district center, carrying banners reading, “Where are the thieves?” and “You will answer to the people.”
As is usual in this part of the globe, Turkey's prime minister on Tuesday accused Israel of being behind the ouster of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, offering as the only evidence for his claim a statement by a Jewish French intellectual during a meeting with an Israeli official, while both Israel and the US State Department reject the claim as baseless and unsubstantiated, also usual in these other two sectors.
In his nationally televised speech, Erdogan also took a swipe at Muslim nations, accusing them of betraying Egypt by supporting the country's military-backed new leaders.
Protests against Erdogan were also held in the cities of Izmir, Antalya, Antakya, Samsun, Trabzon, Eskisehir, Kocaeli, Bursa and Canakkale, according to Xinhua. Clashes between riot police and the crowds were reported in Istanbul, Bursa and Eskisehir.
A chief prosecutor’s office on Tuesday initiated an investigation into the audio recordings in question, Turkish state-run media reported, as opposition parties demanded that the government resign. Erdogan met with Turkey’s intelligence chief shortly after voice recordings of two peoplealleged to be Erdogan and his soncirculated on the Internet on Monday.
As to be expected, the Turkish leader has drawn parallel between Morsi's ouster and a series of anti-government protests in Turkey in June that he has blamed on an international conspiracy to topple his democratically elected government albeit through illegal means, for Erdogan has been slowly rolling back the secular state to allow Islam's theocratic forces to assert themselves against the opposition of the military. This regress to the pre-Ataturkian mindset is causing much consternation among a large population of secular Turks and the West in the run-up to Turkey having its best chance at joining the EU.
Turkey should never be allowed to join the EU. And yes, the West should hasten Erdogan's ouster by diplomatic means if no other. Until Islamic nations recognize and begin admitting the error of their ways, improving the lives of their own people, ceasing hostilities against other faiths, and pushing for a more secularized version of their former selves, the factions of warcivilization against civilizationwill only heat up.
ORWELL LIVES! EVEN AS EGYPT'S GOVERNMENT attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the US is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the Internet, a kill switch. The legislation, which would grant presidential powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a Senate committee, Wired.com reported. It was initially introduced last year but expired with a new Congress. The proposed legislation, introduced into the US Senate by independent senator Joe Lieberman, who is chairman of the US Homeland Security committee, seeks to grant the President broad emergency powers over the internet in times of national emergency.
Last year, Lieberman argued the bill was necessary to "preserve those networks and assets and our country and protect our people". He said that, for all its allure, the internet could also be a "dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets". US economic security, national security and public safety were now all at risk from new kinds of enemies, including "cyber warriors, cyber spies, cyber terrorists and cyber criminals". Although the bill was targetted at protecting the US, many have said it would also affect other nations.
According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday. Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.
One of Australia's top communications experts, University of Sydney associate professor Bjorn Landfeldt, had previously railed against the idea, saying shutting down the internet would "inflict an enormous damage on the entire world". He said it would be like giving a single country "the right to poison the atmosphere, or poison the ocean".
The scale of Egypt's crackdown on the internet and mobile phones amid deadly protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak is unprecedented in the history of the web, experts have said. US President Barack Obama, social networking sites and rights groups around the world all condemned the moves by Egyptian authorities to stop activists using mobile phones and cyber technology to organise rallies. "It's a first in the history of the internet," Rik Ferguson, an expert for Trend Micro, the world's third biggest computer security firm, said.
Julien Coulon, co-founder of Cedexis, a French internet performance monitoring and traffic management system, added: "In 24 hours we have lost 97 per cent of Egyptian internet traffic". Despite this, many Egyptians are finding ways to get access, some using international telephone numbers to gain access to dial-up internet. According to Renesys, a US Internet monitoring company, Egypt's four main internet service providers cut off international access to their customers in a near simultaneous move at 2234 GMT on Thursday. Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the internet, according to official figures, more than a quarter of the population.
"In an action unprecedented in internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the internet," James Cowie of Renesys said in a blog post.
WE ARE IN LUCK. In his latest essay, the venerable Norwegian who calls himself Fjordmanstill in exile but vitally alive thanks to his nom de guerre and underground bunker returns to examine what Barack Obama calls "civilization's debt to Islam."
US President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech delivered at Cairo University in Egypt on June 4 2009 contained so many half-truths, distortions or plain lies that it is almost impossible to deal with all of them adequately in a single essay. I will concentrate on the science part in particular here. Take this quote:
“As a student of history, I also know civilization's debt to Islam. It was Islamat places like Al-Azhar Universitythat carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”
Is there even a single truthful statement in this entire paragraph? Perhaps Muslims had some decent calligraphy, and a few of their scholars made contributions to algebra, but apart from that it's almost total nonsense. The magnetic compass was invented by the Chinese, and possibly by Europeans independently. Printing of books, too, was invented by the Chinese, and was stubbornly and persistently rejected by Muslims for a thousand years or more due to Islamic religious resistance. They liked the Chinese invention of gunpowder a lot more.
No direct link has ever been proven between Gutenberg’s printing press and printing in East Asia, although it is conceivable that the basic idea of printing had been imported to Europe. In contrast, we know with 100% certainty that Muslims were familiar with East Asian printing but aggressively rejected it. Scholar Thomas Allsen in his book Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia has described how the authorities in Iran under Mongolian rule in 1294 attempted to introduce Chinese-style printed banknotes but failed due to popular resistance:
“Certainly the Muslim world exhibited an active and sustained opposition to movable type technologies emanating from Europe in the fifteenth century and later. This opposition, based on social, religious, and political considerations, lasted well into the eighteenth century. Only then were presses of European origin introduced into the Ottoman Empire and only in the next century did printing become widespread in the Arab world and Iran. This long-term reluctance, the disinterest in European typography, and the failure to exploit the indigenous printing traditions of Egypt certainly argue for some kind of fundamental structural or ideological antipathy to this particular technology.”
It is likely that due to trade that Middle Easterners were familiar with printing centuries before this incident, yet because of Islamic religious resistance they did not adopt this great invention until a thousand years or more after it had been invented in China. Minorities such as Jews or Greek and Armenian Christians were the first to use printing presses in the Ottoman realms. The first book printed in the Persian language was probably a Judaeo-Persian Pentateuch.
As for music, Greek theory on the subject evolved from Pythagoras before 500 BC. The Church was the dominant institution in post-Roman Europe and drew on Greek philosophy and musical theory. Some elements of Christian observances may derive from Jewish tradition, too, chiefly the chanting of Scripture and the signing of psalms, poems of praise from the Book of Psalms. Christians integrated music into their liturgy. In the Western Church, Gregorian chant and the development of polyphonic music was valued as decoration, a concept central to medieval art and architecture. According to A History of Western Music, Seventh Edition, by Donald J. Grout, Peter J. Burkholder and Claude V. Palisca, “Polyphonic performance heightened the grandeur of chant and thus of the liturgy itself.” This gave rise to a musical tradition which led to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Nothing similar happened in the Islamic world, despite the fact that Muslims initially had access to much of the same material. I have described this in my essay Why Muslims Like Hitler, but Not Mozart.
Historian Bernard Lewis writes in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years:
“Since Muslim worship, with the limited exception of some dervish orders, makes no use of music, musicians in the Islamic lands lacked the immense advantage enjoyed by Christian musicians through the patronage of the Church and of its high dignitaries. The patronage of the court and of the great houses, though no doubt useful, was intermittent and episodic, and dangerously subject to the whims of the mighty. Muslim musicians devised no standard system of notation, and their compositions are therefore known only by the fallible and variable medium of memory. There is no preserved corpus of classical Islamic music comparable with that of the European musical tradition. All that remains is a quite extensive theoretical literature on music, some descriptions and portrayals of musicians and musical occasions by writers and artists, a number of old instruments in various stages of preservation, and of course the living memory of long-past performances.”
There are those who are critical of Mr. Lewis as a scholar and consequently believe that he shouldn’t be quoted as an authority. You should always maintain a healthy criticism of any writer, but I know from other sources that the above mentioned quotes are largely correct.
Many forms of music are banned in Islam. "The Reliance of the Traveller" by Ahmad Ibn Lulu Ibn Al-Naqib and Noah Ha Mim Keller has been formally approved by al-Azhar in Egypt, the highest institution of religious learning among Sunni Muslims. It quotes a number of ahadith, authoritative sayings of Muhammad and his companions which form the core Islamic texts next to the Koran, among them one which says that “There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful …” Another quote says that: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.” The scholarly conclusion is that “All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful.” Another legal ruling says that “It is unlawful to use musical instrumentssuch as those which drinkers are known for, like the mandolin, lute, cymbals, and fluteor to listen to them. It is permissible to play the tambourine at weddings, circumcisions, and other times, even if it has bells on its sides. Beating the kuba, a long drum with a narrow middle, is unlawful.”
Ihile I certainly do disagree with Mr. Lewis sometimes, in my experience he occasionally errs by being too positive when writing about Islamic culture, not too negative. If you believe Lewis, “The earliest specifically anti-Semitic statements in the Middle East occurred among the Christian minorities, and can usually be traced back to European originals.” This view fits well with the anti-European, Multicultural bias of modern media and academia, yet it is completely and utterly wrong, as Dr. Andrew G. Bostom has conclusively demonstrated in his extremely well-researched book 'The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism".
I wouldn't say that absolutely no scholarly achievements were made in the medieval Islamic world, only that they are greatly exaggerated for political reasons today. Let us divide scholars into three categories: Category 1 consists of those who make minor contributions, category 2 medium-level ones. Category 3 consists of scholars who make major, fundamental contributions to an important branch of science or found an entirely new scholarly discipline. Examples of the latter would include Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Nicolaus Copernicus, Aristotle, René Descartes or Galileo Galilei. Not a single scholar of this stature has ever been produced in the Islamic world even at the best of times. Finding some medieval Muslim scholars who made minor contributions to mathematics or alchemy is not very difficult, and I can probably name half a dozen to a dozen individuals who might qualify under category 2.
The highest-ranking contribution of any Muslim scholar in my view came from Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham) in optics. The mathematician Muhammad al-Khwarizmi did not “invent” algebra; the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Indians, Chinese and others had early forms of algebra; the most important pre-modern scholar was arguably Diophantus of Alexandria in the third century AD, and modern algebra was created in Europe. Nevertheless, just like you cannot write a history of optics without mentioning Alhazen, you cannot properly write a history of algebra without mentioning al-Khwarizmi. In historiography, Ibn Khaldun could be mentioned, although he shared the contempt for all non-Muslim cultures which hampered the growth of history, archaeology and comparative linguistics in the Islamic world. Muslim scholars did not seriously study other cultures with curiosity and describe them with fairness, al-Biruni’s writings about India being one of very major few exceptions to this rule.
Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan) did good work in alchemy for his time and may have been the first person to create some acids, but he falls far short of Antoine Lavoisier and those who developed modern chemistry in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe. The Persian Omar Khayyam was a creative mathematician, and fellow Persians Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and well as Rhazes (al-Razi) were capable physicians for their time, but Khayyam was at best a highly unorthodox Muslim and al-Razi didn't believe a single word of the Islamic religion. Whatever contributions they made were more in spite of than because of Islam. Moreover, while I do consider al-Razi to have been a competent physician, the greatest revolution in the world history of medicine was the germ theory of disease, championed by the Frenchman Louis Pasteur and the German Robert Koch in late nineteenth century Europe. They were aided in this by the microscope, which was an exclusively European invention.
It is true that some texts were reintroduced to Europe via Arabic translations, at least initially before they were supplemented by translations directly from Byzantine Greek originals, and that these have left traces in certain words. For instance, quite a few stars in modern European languages have Arabic names or Arabized versions of older Greek names. However, it is important to remember that astronomy in the Islamic world, with certain exceptions due to influences from India, was based on a Ptolemaic Greek theoretical framework, just as it was in Europe. After the translation movement, it is striking to notice how fast Europeans surpassed whatever scholarly achievements had been made in the Middle East.
The best Muslim scholars could be capable observational astronomers, above all Ulugh Beg. A few of them made some adjustments to Ptolemaic astronomical theory, among them Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Ibn al-Shatir, but none of them ever made a huge conceptual breakthrough comparable to that provided by Copernicus in 1543 when he put the Sun, not the Earth, at the center of our Solar System. With the work of Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler afterward, Ptolemaic astronomy was in reality outdated in Europe even before Galileo and others introduced telescopic astronomy in 1609. In contrast, Muslims resisted Copernican heliocentrism in some cases into the twentieth century. Scholar Toby E. Huff explains in his excellent book "The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West," second edition:
“In the Indian subcontinent, Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-98) was at the forefront of intellectual reform in India, encouraging India to adopt Western educational standards. In his early career of the 1840s, he had defended the Ptolemaic view against Copernicanism, believing that this was incumbent upon the devout Muslim. As he studied the matter more, he realized the need to adopt heliocentric view and to reconcile its metaphysics with traditional interpretations of the Quran. Soon after he moved to adopt the heliocentric position, he ran into overwhelming opposition, especially Jamil al-Din al-Afghani's (d. 1897) attack of the early 1880s. At that point Ahmad Khan fully recognized the clash between the worldview of modern science and traditional Islamic thought. His efforts to articulate a new synthesis fell on hard times.”
Among the major regions on the planet, the two with the most similar medieval starting point were the Middle East and Europe. Greek geometry was unknown in East Asia in pre-modern times. This constituted a major disadvantage for Chinese, Japanese and Korean scholars in optics and astronomy. The only regions in the world where clear glass was extensively made were the Middle East and Europe. Clear glass was used by Europeans to create eyeglasses for the correction of eyesight, and later for the creation of microscopes and telescopes and thus the birth of modern medicine and astronomy. The Mayans in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica did not know how to make glass and could not have made glass lenses for microscopes or telescopes. Middle Eastern Muslims could have done so, but they didn't. Likewise, medieval Europeans invented mechanical clocks while Muslims did not, despite a similar starting point.
Muslims had access to Greek optical theory, which is why Alhazen could achieve what he did. It is puzzling that his Book of Optics, possibly the greatest original scientific work ever written in the Arabic language, was largely ignored in the Arabic-speaking world, yet was studied with interest in Europe. It was written in Cairo, Egypt, but was not studied at al-Azhar close to where Alhazen lived for many years. Ibn al-Nafis in Cairo described the pulmonary circulation of the blood in the thirteenth century, yet his discovery was not followed up, despite the fact that he lived and worked in one of the major cities of the Islamic world.
Even though al-Azhar was a center of education in the Islamic world, it was a center of religious learning and sharia law, not secular learning and science. In contrast, Greek natural philosophy and secular learning was taught at medieval European universities in addition to religious subjects, which is why optics was studied by scholars at European universities. The excellent historian of science Edward Grant explains this in his book "Science and Religion".
While university-educated people were a miniscule fraction of the total European population, their cumulative influence should not be underestimated. A striking number of the leading scholars in early modern Europe, from Copernicus to Galileo and Newton, had studied at these institutions. Although the Scientific Revolution began in the seventeenth century with the systematic use of the experimental method and a more critical view of the knowledge of the ancients, exemplified by individuals such as Galileo, the initial institutional basis for these developments was laid with the natural philosophers of the medieval universities.
I have encountered few if any institutions outside of Europe that I would call “universities” in the Western sense before modern times. Among the best candidates is the Great Monastery of Nalanda in India, which was a Buddhist institution. It was not built by Muslims; it was destroyed by them, as were so many cultural treasures in India and Central Asia. Al-Azhar was created in the tenth century AD and is often hailed as one of the oldest “universities” in the world. Yet in the early twentieth century, the blind Egyptian author Taha Husayn complained about the total lack of critical thinking he encountered at the institution:
“The four years I spent [at al-Azhar] seemed to me like forty, so utterly drawn out they were....It was life of unrelieved repetition, with never a new thing, from the time the study began until it was over. After the dawn prayer came the study of Tawhid, the doctrine of [Allah's] unity; then fiqh, or jurisprudence, after sunrise; then the study of Arabic grammar during the forenoon, following a dull meal; then more grammar in the wake of the noon prayer. After this came a grudging bit of leisure and then, again, another snatch of wearisome food until, the evening prayer performed, I proceeded to the logic class which some shaikh or other conducted. Throughout these studies it was all merely a case of hearing re-iterated words and traditional talk which aroused no chord in my heart, nor taste in my appetite. There was no food for one's intelligence, no new knowledge adding to one's store.”
Taha Husayn was the kind of intellectual who found absolutely no room for free inquiry at this leading Islamic madrasa. He enrolled at the secular Cairo University, founded after European models in 1908, and continued his education at the Sorbonne in Paris. Although best know abroad for his autobiography "Al-Ayyam" (The Days), he created a controversy in Egypt by daring to suggest that some passages of the Koran should not be read literally, and for claiming that some pre-Islamic poetry had been forged to give credibility to traditional Islamic history. For this he was accused of heresy. Had he lived in the more aggressively Islamic atmosphere a few generations later, he might well have been killed. Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck and almost killed by enraged Muslims in 1994.
The Greek texts that were translated into Arabic were usually copied from manuscripts by Greek-speaking Byzantine Christians. As Timothy Gregory writes in "A History of Byzantium":
“It is often pointed out that the Arabs made use of the writings and ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists, and they played a significant role in the transmission of that knowledge to the medieval West (in the twelfth century). What is not always recognized is that to the Arabs these works were 'Byzantine,' and they borrowed the books from Byzantine libraries, where the manuscripts had been preserved and copied, and translated them into Arabic as an important foundation for their own science and culture.”
Muslims rejected most of the Roman heritage and many aspects of the Greek one, from wine, sculpture and pictorial arts to theater; the only aspect of Greco-Roman civilization that was more compatible with Islam than with Christian culture was slavery. I have explained why in my essay "Why Christians Accepted Greek Natural Philosophy, But Muslims Did Not."
In medicine, there is the phenomenon of “transplant rejection,” which happens when an organ is transplanted into another body and that body's immune system rejects it as an alien intrusion. This is a useful analogy to keep in mind when assessing how Muslims and Christians treated Greek natural philosophy during the Middle Ages. Muslims did engage the Greek heritage, but only parts of it, and eventually even this limited acceptance was rejected by theologians such as al-Ghazali. The immune system of Islamic culture considered Greek philosophical ideas to constitute an alien intrusion into its body, fought them and ultimately rejected them. In contrast, for Christian culture, the Greek philosophical heritage did not constitute something alien. Christians did not accept all parts of the Greek heritage as valid for them, but most of them didn’t consider Greek logic, modes of thinking and philosophical vocabulary per se to be something alien and hostile. We could say that Christianity was a Jewish child, baptized in water steeped in a Greek philosophical vocabulary and raised in a Greco-Roman environment. This new synthesis was personified by Saint Paul, a Greek-speaking Jew, a follower of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, and a Roman citizen.
French writer Rémi Brague believes that Muslims in particular usually lacked the European instinct for self-criticism and appreciation of “the Other.” They, or rather non-Muslims under their rule, did translate scientific works from Greek and a few other languages into Arabic, but they usually didn't bother to preserve the originals. This made “renaissances,” the act of going back to the sources to reinterpret them, impossible in the Islamic world. It also made it impossible for anything resembling the linguistic scholars of modern Europe to emerge.
European scholars not only translated texts from Greek, and later from Persian and Sanskrit; they proceeded to explore and explain how these languages came into existence in the first place, which was far beyond what any Muslim scholar had even contemplated doing. Greek shares a common history with Persian and Sanskrit: They are all Indo-European languages, as are Germanic languages such as English. The Indo-European family is the largest and most influential language family in human history, and it all traces back to a single, hypothetical Proto-Indo-European language which must have existed thousands of years ago.
Between 1600-1200 BC you could find horse-drawn chariots in use throughout Eurasia, from the border regions of Shang Dynasty China via Egypt and Anatolia to Northern Europe. This corresponds to the period of the ancient Vedas and the emergence of Vedic Sanskrit in India. Peoples speaking Indo-European languages played a vital role in the diffusion of wheeled vehicles. The Proto-Indo-European language which has been reconstructed by leading European and Western linguists over the past two centuries contains words for a technological package which probably did not exist before 4000 BC, possible not even before 3500 BC. PIE must accordingly in all likelihood have been a living language in the fourth millennium BC.
It is likely that a very early form of PIE existed before 4000 BC and a very late form slightly after 3000 BC. Before 3000 BC, PIE was rapidly expanding geographically, probably aided by early forms of wheeled vehicles, and gradually broke apart into what would soon emerge as different Indo-European branches. Scholars J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams tell the tale in The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World:
“[I]ndividual Indo-European groups are attested by c. 2000 BC. One might then place a notional date of c. 4500-2500 BC on Proto-Indo-European. The linguist will note that the presumed dates for the existence of Proto-Indo-European arrived at by this method are congruent with those established by linguists' 'informed estimation'. The two dating techniques, linguistic and archaeological, are at least independent and congruent with one another. If one reviews discussions of the dates by which the various Indo-European groups first emerged, we find an interesting and somewhat disturbing phenomenon. By c. 2000 BC we have traces of Anatolian, and hence linguists are willing to place the emergence of Proto-Anatolian to c. 2500 BC or considerably earlier. We have already differentiated Indo-Aryan in the Mitanni treaty by c. 1500 BC so undifferentiated Proto-Indo-Iranian must be earlier, and dates on the order of 2500-2000 BC are often suggested. Mycenaean Greek, the language of the Linear B tablets, is known by c. 1300 BC if not somewhat earlier and is different enough from its Bronze Age contemporaries (Indo-Iranian or Anatolian) and from reconstructed PIE to predispose a linguist to place a date of c. 2000 BC or earlier for Proto-Greek itself.”
Before Islam, Greek was still a major language throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond, including in Anatolia or Asia Minor, now occupied by Turkish-speaking Muslims and called “Turkey.” Muslims have spent 1400 years wiping out Greek-speaking communities throughout the entire region, a process that has continued into the twenty-first century at the island of Cyprus, yet they now want credit for “preserving the Greek cultural heritage.” When the Ottoman Turks gradually conquered the Greek heartland, the Balkans and the Near East, they showed no serious interest in studying the culture and history of their new subjects.
As Bruce G. Trigger writes in "A History of Archaeological Thought," second edition, “Serious archaeological work did not begin in Greece, however, until after that country’s independence from Turkey in the early nineteenth century.”
Ibn Warraq explains in his well-researched book "Defending the West" why archaeology was invented by Europeans in the post-Enlightenment period. Muslims, despite the fact that they controlled the cradles of the most ancient civilizations on the planet, were indifferent or actively hostile to their remains. "Austen Henry Layard", who was active in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in the mid-nineteenth century, recounts this story of "Claudius Rich," a pioneer of field archaeology and British resident in Baghdad:
“Rich learnt from the inhabitants of Mosul that, some time previous to his visit, a sculpture, representing various forms of men and animals, had been dug up in a mound forming part of the great inclosure. This strange object had been the cause of general wonder, and the whole population had issued from the walls to gaze upon it. The ulema [religious scholars] having at length pronounced that these figures were idols of the infidels, the Mohammedans, like obedient disciples, so completely destroyed them, that Mr. Rich was unable to obtain even a fragment.”
Following the brief Napoleonic expedition to Egypt around 1800, a new fad for ancient Egypt began in nineteenth century Europe. This took the local Muslims completely by surprise, as they could not understand why anybody would be interested in worthless infidel stones. The lavishly illustrated book "Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo" elaborates:
“Initially the Egyptians were unaware of the motives behind the Westerners’ interest in what for them were simply stones emerging from the ground. A rumor then began to circulate that these stones concealed untold treasures. The inhabitants of the villages in the vicinity of archaeological sites began to attack statues, tombs, and temples in the vain hope of extracting jewels and precious objects. Soon, however, Egyptians came to realize that the foreigners were interested in the stones themselves rather than anything they were rumored to contain. While they did not themselves see the attraction of a lump of carved rock, they became masters in the search for and discovery of antiquities. When they were short of authentic relics they had no hesitation in producing fakes, so well made as to fool even the Egyptologists of the era.”
The French expedition to Egypt in 1798-1801 brought many scholars to catalogue the ancient monuments, thus founding modern Egyptology. The trilingual Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, was employed by the great French philologist Jean-François Champollion to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822. He made use of the Coptic language to achieve this. Arab and Turkish Muslims had controlled Egypt for more than a thousand years, yet had apparently never managed to decipher the hieroglyphs nor for the most part displayed much interest in doing so. Europeans did so in a single generation after they reappeared in force in Egypt, and they did so with the help of the liturgical language of the Copts, the Egyptian Christians, a direct link to ancient Egypt that the Arab invaders hadn't managed to completely eradicate.
The French scholar Auguste Mariette during a stay in Egypt became convinced that the country needed more effective legislation regarding the conservation of its monuments. He was responsible for the constitution of the Egyptian Antiquities Service and the foundation of the first Egyptian Museum in Cairo. He was buried in the garden in front of this museum, and his remains rest within a stone sarcophagus that resembles those of ancient Egypt.
It is not a coincidence that the Islamic world was often slow at adopting cultural inventions from the outside world. Muslims tend to be indifferent at best toward non-Muslim cultures, past or present, at worst actively hostile. An attack on statues at a museum in Cairo in 2006 by a veiled woman screaming “Infidels, infidels!” shocked the outside world. She had been inspired by the Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, who quoted a saying by Muhammad that sculptors will be among those receiving the harshest punishment on Judgment Day. According to the extremely influential Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi at his website Islam Online, “Islam prohibits statues and three-dimensional figures of the living creatures,” except dolls made for children. “Therefore, the statues of ancient Egyptians are prohibited.”
The great Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan were demolished by the Taliban regime in 2001, aided by Pakistani and Saudi engineers, who decreed that they would destroy images they deemed “offensive to Islam.” It is tempting to conclude that the only reason why the famous pyramids of Egypt have survived to this day is because they were so big that it proved too complicated, costly and time-consuming for Muslims to destroy them. Otherwise they might well have ended up like countless Hindu temples in India and Buddhist statues in Central Asia, or Christian and Jewish places of worship from Indonesia to Kosovo. The smallest of the three Giza Pyramids outside of the modern city of Cairo did in fact suffer visible damage after an attempt by a medieval Muslim ruler to dismantle this infidel monument.
US President Obama claims that “throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.” In reality, it is rather difficult to find such examples from any region in the world with a significant Islamic presence. Islamic doctrines specifically state that Muslims are not supposed to consider non-Muslims to be their equals; they are supposed to wage war against them until they convert or submit. I recommend that Mr. Obama reads the great work of scholar Bat Ye’or on this subject. Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the pre-eminent historian of Mughal India, wrote this about dhimmitude, the humiliating apartheid system imposed upon non-Muslims under Islamic rule:
“The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is as a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only.…A non-Muslim therefore cannot be a citizen of the State; he is a member of a depressed class; his status is a modified form of slavery. He lives under a contract (dhimma) with the State.…In short, his continued existence in the State after the conquest of his country by the Muslims is conditional upon his person and property made subservient to the cause of Islam.”
This “modified form of slavery” is now frequently hailed as the pinnacle of “tolerance.” If the semi-slaves rebel against this system and desire equal rights and self-determination, Jihad resumes. This happened with the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians and other Christian dhimmi subjects of the Ottoman Empire, who were repressed with massacres, culminating in the genocide by Turkish and Kurdish Muslims against Armenians in the early twentieth century.
Even for those regions which were not under Islamic rule, endemic Jihad raids disrupted normal communications between many regions of Europe and the Byzantine Empire, where Classical texts were still preserved. As historian Ibn Khaldun proudly proclaimed about the Early Middle Ages: “The Christian could no longer float a plank upon the sea.” Dr. Mahatir, the outgoing Prime Minister of Malaysia, during an OIC (Organization of Islamic Conference) summit in 2003 wished for a return to the glory days when “Europeans had to kneel at the feet of Muslim scholars in order to access their own scholastic heritage.”
Jihad piracy, slavery and attacks on European countries were a constant menace from the seventh century until the Barbary States of North Africa in the nineteenth century. Some would argue that it is resurfacing now. I have explained this in my online essays "Europeans as Victims of Colonialism and Fourteen Centuries of War against European Civilization", which is included in my printed book Defeating Eurabia.
Paul Fregosi in his book "Jihad in the West: Muslim Conquests from the 7th to the 21st Centuries" calls Islamic Jihad “the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history. It has, in fact, been largely ignored,” although it has been a fact of life in Europe, Asia and Africa for almost 1400 years. As Fregosi says, “Western colonization of nearby Muslim lands lasted 130 years, from the 1830s to the 1960s. Muslim colonization of nearby European lands lasted 1300 years, from the 600s to the mid-1960s. Yet, strangely, it is the Muslims…who are the most bitter about colonialism and the humiliations to which they have been subjected; and it is the Europeans who harbor the shame and the guilt. It should be the other way around.”
If we look at the post-Roman period as a whole, a picture emerges where Europe was under siege by hostile aliens for most of the time, yet succeeded against all odds. Already before AD 1300, Europeans had created a rapidly expanding network of universities, an institution which had no real equivalent anywhere else, and had invented mechanical clocks and eyeglasses. It is easy to underestimate the importance of this, but the ability to make accurate measurements of natural phenomena was of vital importance during the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. The manufacture of eyeglasses led indirectly to the development of microscopes and telescopes, and thus to modern medicine and astronomy. The network of universities facilitated the spread of information and debate and served as an incubator for many later scientific advances. All of these innovations were made centuries before European colonialism had begun, indeed at a time when Europe itself was a victim of colonialism and had been so for a very long time. Parts of Spain were still under Islamic occupation, an aggressive Jihad was being waged by the Turks in the remaining Byzantine lands, and the coasts from France via Italy to Russia had suffered centuries of Islamic raids.
It is true that the transatlantic slave trade is a dark chapter in Western history, but one of the reasons why it was possible to establish this trade was that it could tap into the large and well-established Islamic slave trade in this region. All the way back to ancient Egypt, slavery was an important component of Africa’s trade with other continents. Yet according to Robert O. Collins and James M. Burns in A History of Sub-Saharan Africa:
“The advent of the Islamic age coincided with a sharp increase in the African slave trade. The expansion of the trans-Saharan slave trade was a response to demand in the markets of Muslim North Africa. The moral justification for the enslavement of Africans south of the Sahara by Muslims was accepted by the fact they were ‘unbelievers’ (kafirin) practicing their traditional religions with many gods, not the one God of Islam. The need for slaves, whether acquired by violence or by commercial exchange, revived the ancient but somnolent trans-Saharan trade, which became a major supplier of slaves for North Africa and Islamic Spain. The earliest Muslim account of slaves crossing the Sahara from the Fezzan in southern Libya to Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast was written in the seventh century, but from the ninth century to the nineteenth there are a multitude of accounts of the pillage by military states of the Sahel, known to North African Muslims as bilad al-sudan, (‘land of the blacks’), of pagan Africans who were sold to Muslim merchants and marched across the desert as a most profitable commodity in their elaborate commercial networks. By the tenth century there was a steady stream of slaves taken from the kingdoms of the Western Sudan and the Chad Basin crossing the Sahara. Many died on the way, but the survivors fetched a great profit in the vibrant markets of Sijilmasa, Tripoli, and Cairo.”
Unlike the West, there never was a Muslim abolitionist movement since slavery is permitted according to sharia, Islamic religious law, and remains so to this day. When the open practice of slavery was finally abolished in most of the Islamic world, this was only due to external Western pressure, ranging from the American war against the Barbary Pirates of Muslim North Africa to the naval power of the British Empire. Slavery was taken for granted throughout Islamic history and lasted longer than did the Western slave trade. Robert Spencer elaborates in his book A Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t:
“Nor was there a Muslim abolitionist movement, no Clarkson, Wilberforce, or Garrison. When the slave trade ended, it was ended not through Muslim efforts but through British military force. Even so, there is evidence that slavery continues beneath the surface in some Muslim countriesnotably Saudi Arabia, which only abolished slavery in 1962; Yemen and Oman, both of which ended legal slavery in 1970; and Niger, which didn’t abolish slavery until 2004. In Niger, the ban is widely ignored, and as many as one million people remain in bondage. Slaves are bred, often raped, and generally treated like animals. There are even slavery cases involving Muslims in the United States. A Saudi named Homaidan al-Turki was sentenced in September 2006 to twenty-seven years to life in prison for keeping a woman as a slave in his Colorado home. For his part, al-Turki claimed that he was a victim of anti-Muslim bias.”
There are several names in use for Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Syria. One is the “Near East.” Another is “West Asia,” which excludes Egypt, a country with strong historical ties to this region. I prefer the term the “Middle East” because it is a reminder that this region is in the middle of Eurasia. It was the only region that had regular contacts with all major civilizations in the Old World, from Mediterranean Europe via India to East Asia. The Chinese had little exposure to Greek mathematics and natural philosophy whereas Muslims were well familiar with Greek ideas and geometry. Europe suffered the worst disadvantages by having little direct contact with South, Southeast and East Asia, largely cut off by Muslims. The favorable geographical position of the Middle East is demonstrated by the early access to Chinese paper and the Indian numeral system, to name but two important inventions. Europeans eventually greatly outperformed Muslims in science, despite having a significantly weaker starting point.
In addition to this, the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the five pillars of Islam, could have been a great opportunity for exchanging scientific and technological information to and from all regions of the Old World. This did happen occasionally; some inventions were transferred to sub-Saharan West Africa in this way. Primarily, however, it served to spread information on how to conduct Jihad against infidels or to implement sharia law.
Muslims enjoyed a favorable geographical position, ruled over significant numbers of non-Muslims and had access to the accumulated learning of many of the oldest civilizations in the world. The challenge here is not to explain why there was a brief burst of creativity in the earliest centuries of Islamic rule; the challenge is to explain why this didn’t last. Islam's much-vaunted “Golden Age” was in reality the twilight of the conquered pre-Islamic cultures, an echo of times passed in a region that was still, for a while, majority non-Muslim.
The Greater Middle East was the seat of the oldest known civilizations on the planet and the source of many of the most important inventions in human history, including writing and the alphabet. It is surely no coincidence that the first civilization in the Indian subcontinent arose in the Indus Valley in the northwest, close to Sumerian Mesopotamia, just as it is no coincidence that literate European civilizations took root in lands that were geographically close to Egypt and the Fertile Crescent: The Minoan civilization of Crete, later Greece and the Balkans, then Rome. Contrast this with modern times, when the Balkans is Europe's number one trouble spot. So is the seat of the first Indian civilization, in Pakistan and Kashmir.
I've recently re-read the bestselling book Guns, Germs, and Steel by the American evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond. What strikes me is how Diamond, with his emphasis on geography and diseases, fails to explain the rise of the West and especially why English, not Arabic, Chinese, Sanskrit or Mayan, became the world’s lingua franca. His most important flaw is his failure to explain how the Middle East went from being a global center of civilization to being the global center of anti-civilization it arguably is today. This was not caused by smallpox or because zebras are more difficult to domesticate than water buffaloes; it was caused by Islam, which remains the main cause of the backwardness of this region.
IT'S SPRINGTIME IN THE HUB of global politics. Besides the birds and the bees, the swine flu, and the pollen, we can now add possible espionage to our spring watchlist.
President Barack Hussein Obama's recent appointment of Dalia Mogahed to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships is not just another low level nod. Mogahed is a self described expert on studying the way Muslim's think. The left-wing media has insisted in article after article that she is a Muslim moderate.
The American Daily Review questions these descriptions of Mogahed, after research has linked Mogahed with a group called the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project which advocates engaging the very troublesome and radical Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose stated purpose is to destroy the west.
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is currently outlawed as a political party yet nevertheless holds a fifth of the seats in Egypt's lower house of Parliament, sees its mission as, “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
When combined with these facts with the notion that her appointment has apparently brought hope and joy to Egyptians, there is certainly cause for alarm. She was also involved in a polling project that deliberately sought to sanitize the image of Muslims by distorting the facts of her survey. Perhaps you remember a Gallup survey that supposedly showed that Muslims supposedly have the same attitudes as the rest of America? This survey, conducted by Mogahed, declared that only 7% of Muslims are radical (only 7%!) while the same survey concluded that 36% of Muslims approved the attack on the World Trade Center.
Mogahed and a notorious colleague were exposed by Robert Satloff writing for the Weekly Standard. The respected Mr. Satloff takes a detailed look at the faulty conclusions Mogahed presented to the world, conclusions that are not support by the data she presents.
Satloff's article is informative reading. When it was published in 2008 the article caused quite a stir. In other words, the Obama White House knew about this controversy before they appointed Mogahed to her new post. One wonders why they would chose a Muslim with a checkered record rather than someone without controversy.
Clearly, this appointment shows that Obama’s appeasement to this nation’s enemies continues, unabated. This appointment also seems to fit in with a long record of appointments Obama has made of people with radical, anti-American ties.
ISRAEL'S SECURITY CHALLENGES ARE daunting. Hamas remains in power and will try to rearm itself with an even more deadly arsenal. This goes without saying, however much the Arab and Western Left wish to spin "context" contrary to the facts on then ground since day one of Israel's declaration of independence as a modern state on May 14, 1948.
The Israeli papers carried reports on Monday (here, for instance) about an article in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat claiming Egypt was warning Hamas to strike a deal with Israel before Binyamin Netanyahu forms the next government. Otherwise, the Egyptian officials are supposed to have said, Hamas stands to “lose everything.”
Rumors were flying about a ceasefire of a year to a year and a half in which Israel would open the crossings to Gaza and free 1,000 Hamas prisoners in return for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel’s current leaders Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, and Tzipi Livni are said to be anxious to conclude a deal for Shalit before the February 10 elections.
If so, they’re badly miscalculating. Israelis want Shalit freed and are perturbed that Operation Cast Lead didn’t secure that result. The renewed terror puts the government’s claims about restored Israei deterrence in doubt as well.
Clearly Olmert, Barak, and Livni can’t boast that the war was a resounding success, gravely weakening Hamas, and then agree to abject terms of 1,000 terrorists for one Israeli soldier. Israelis would rejoice to see Shalit back home in any case—then send Livni and Barak (with Olmert finished in any case) deeper into political defeat.
Bibi to world: I don’t believe Operation Cast Lead came anywhere near defeating or neutralizing Hamas. I am realistic about the danger Hamas continues to pose.
“Hizbullah has de facto control over Lebanon and has tripled its lethal capacity.”
Bibi to world: Ditto for the Second Lebanon War. It didn’t achieve much and I am realistic about the danger Hizbullah continues to pose.
“And advancing peace with moderate Palestinians is possible, but must be done in a way that does not sacrifice Israel’s security interests.”
Bibi to Obama administration: Again, I don’t dismiss this idea, but I’m going to be real careful about it and will not be pushed into moves I deem harmful to Israel.
“Above all else, the top priority of the next government of Israel will be to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. Iran is a regime openly pledged to our destruction, and its threats must never be dismissed lightly. Israel must immediately redouble its efforts to work with the United States and other allies to neutralize this threat.”
Bibi to Obama administration and Europeans: If you’re really intending to do something about it, I will work with you against the Iranian threat. If you’re not, take note: Israel will go it alone.
To sum up, Netanyahu’s advent evokes rational fears in those who wish Israel ill and irrational enmity in those purporting to wish it well. Netanyahu, aware of the various perceptions, wants it to be known that he is above all an Israeli nationalist concerned about his country’s survival. After three years and more of weak, obsequious leadership, Israelis—with their mixed feelings about his earlier tenure at the helmare ready to put him there again.
We, in the United States, who share this resolve to identify and stop the rising global tide of Islamic jihad in all of its infamy can only hope that Bibi Netanyahu rises once again to the top slot in the Israeli government at this most dangerous time in history. His abiding strength and iron resolve to confront those who would "wipe Israel off the map" not with weakness but with clarity of purpose will be the corrective and timely anecdote to the wobbly Obama policies already in motion.
Remember people, our Dear Leader has alreadyin his first week as top policy maker of the most powerful military force on earthreached out to the Islamic rabble in a pitiful show of "dhimmitudinal" solidarity, just like he telegraphed in one of those two biographies of his (and William Ayers), in stating that "when the political winds change in an ugly direction I will stand with my Muslim brothers."
As Charles Krauthammer put it, "Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims with to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect, his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.
Krauthammer is being gentle. The truth is that Obama has more up his sleeve than even this well-respected conservative columnist will admit publically.
Is it "new" to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to "restore" the "same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."
Astonishing. In these most recent 20 yearsthe alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic worldAmerica did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involvedand resulted inthe liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
That's right. Stop the misplaced appeasement to these vulgar peoples who are aggressive the world over, thanks to Saudi-financed Wahabbi madrassas now stretching into every corner of the free world. Bottom line, Mr. President. No more dhimmitude. We had enough of that with the last man to sit in the same seat you now occupy. Enough! said this patriot.
ON THE HEELS of Republican Tom Tancredo's recent controversial television spot, where he links open borders to lost American jobs and easy immigration access to jihadists, here is an excerpt from The Concord Monitor in New Hampshire of a recent exchange between the candidate on the campaign trail and a young Muslim woman in his audience:
Describing the United States as "the last best hope" for carrying on the ideals of western civilization, Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo called last night for an end to the nation's "bilingualization" and "Balkanization."
Tancredo's comments didn't go unchallenged last night. One after another, audience members pressed him on his views on language, assimilation and border security, at times leading to heated exchanges.
"I speak the same language as the people that flew into the towers; I speak the same language as all the Iraqis we are killing; I speak many languages, and I'm proud of it," said Siham Elhamoumi, 22, who recently graduated from St. Michael's College in Vermont and traveled to the event with a group from the college. "Am I the enemy?" Elhamoumi then pulled her shawl over her head, so it covered her hair. "Am I the enemy if I do this?"
"Do you take us for idiots, for people who have no appreciation of our history?" she asked. "Perhaps you don't have an understanding of your country right now, of its composition."
Tancredo repeatedly broke in, asking Elhamoumi to pose a question. He finally asked her a question of his own: "Do you believe that we should replace the Constitution with Sharia law?"
"That is below me," Elhamoumi replied. "Do not belittle people's opinions and people's beliefs and people's religions. Do not put one religion above the other."
Pure subterfuge and deception. Islam is the religion that puts itself above all others, and in fact seeks to eradicate all others as soon as it possibly can gain the upper hand. Just ask the Buddhists and hindus in the Far East. Ask the Christians in Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, and dozen of other fronts. This young Muslim women is a codespeaker.
While Muslims may stress sexuality in heaven at the expense of life's more natural inclinations in the here and now, they are eager to suppress to the point of murder their own and any other woman who dares any hint of revealed skin or individuality. Yes, most religious cultures, including the Jews and the Christians have incarcerated their women in similar phases of blatant irrationality with regards to what constitutes a woman's place in society and the home, so I'm guessing this display of raw bosomly cheer won't pass the Muslim stress test, even if it would save them from a bomb.
Now for the moral equivalency brain twister of the day. Which religion among us currently boasts one point two multitudes of followers now roaming the face of the earth who would love nothing better than to stone or behead these two old hippies sporting a snappy catch-phrase and a chestful of dangling flesh? This is an open book test, people, so take your time.
"In 1992, Islamic assassins had gunned down my good and brave friend Farag Foda, a professor and columnist, a human-rights activist, and an outspoken critic of the Islamic militants. The murder had shocked Cairo and terrified intellectuals... Egypt's most popular preacher, Abdel Hamid Kishk, a blind sheikh who constantly attacked both the government and its official religious establishment. Kishk had been telling his audience that Muslims who entered paradise would enjoy eternal erections and the company of young boys draped in earrings and necklaces. Some of the ulema, the religious scholars at al-Azhar University, the governments seat of Islamic learning, had disagreed. Yes, they said, men in paradise would have erections, but merely protracted, not perpetual. Other experts disputed the possibility of pederasty in paradise. "Is this what concerns Muslims at the end of the 20th century?" [Farag] Foda asked in a column in October magazine. "The world around us is busy with the conquest of space, genetic engineering and the wonders of the computer, while Muslim scholars," he wrote in sadness and pain, 'were worried about sex in paradise.'... he was killed."
The repercussions of ridiculing Islamic scholars...