Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald poses two questions to Alain Gresh of Le Monde diplomatique relating to the common notion that poverty gives rise to Islamic terror:
I have two questions for Alain Gresh, the silly redacteur-en-chef of Le Monde diplomatique, and author of the entirely predictable book of apologetics, “L’Islam, la Republique, et le monde.” Gresh, born in Cairo to a Coptic father and a Jewish mother, believes that this background entitles him to be taken as an expert without having studied Islam at all. He is of a piece with Dominique de Villepin, who because he was born in Morocco, considers himself to have special insight into that world. He is of a piece also with Edward Said, an Arab who was not a Muslim, and who did not grow up in the Islamic world but in the U.S. from the age of 14, and who apparently thought that his mere “arabness” would somehow — osmosis, anyone? — give him special insight into what Islam is all about. And a good many people seemed to find that plausible, and to forgive such things as his dreamy belief that Muslims conquered Byzantium before conquering Spain, when it was the other way round, and by 700 years.
Gresh seems to believe that only sinister “anti-Arab racists” would raise questions about Islam and attempt to frighten one and all about this entirely inoffensive religion (yes, for Gresh it is definitely and wholly and solely a religion, not a belief-system with any political content or significance whatsoever). So what we have here, in the reactions of alarmed Infidels, from southern Thailand to the streets of Holland to the beaches of Australia to the outskirts of Washington, is simply “anti-Arab racism” in the clever disguise of “Islamophobia.”
Question #1 has several parts, and you, Monsieur Alain Gresh, redacteur-en-chef of Le Monde diplomatique, must answer all of them — but take your time. Here goes:
If poverty in Morocco gives rise to the Jihad, what caused Mike Hawash, Intel engineer completely integrated — from the outside — in American life, and earning $360,000 a year, to embrace the Jihad, make out his will, and set out to fight his fellow Americans in Afghanistan? And if “poverty” causes the Jihad, how is it that the richest country per capita in the world for many years (it has since fallen), Saudi Arabia, has produced so many Jihadis, who show up in Bosnia, and Afghanistan, and New York, and in Washington, and in Iraq, and everywhere? And if “poverty” in Morocco explains the growth in Jihadist sentiment, and not something else (such as a renewed attention to the world-view that Islam presents, in offering the Infidel as the Source of All Evil and All-Purpose Scapegoat) could you explain why Osama bin Laden, one of the scions of the richest family of commoners in Saudi Arabia, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, from one of the most powerful families in Egypt (his great uncle Azzam Pasha was Secretary of the Arab League, and was promoting the Jihad against Israel back in 1948), and himself a doctor, are the two most famous Jihadists in the world? And could you explain why the various studies of the background of many hundreds of terrorists all conclude that they are, on average, better educated (many of them having attended college) and much better off than the average resident of an Arab Muslim country?
Now please use a fresh blue-book for Question #2.
If “poverty” explains the violence and aggression of the Jihad, why is it that all over sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, and in the poorer cities of India and south Asia, that people far poorer, and far more desperate than any in Morocco never engage in anything like the Jihad — though they certainly have lives more miserable and hopeless than the Jihadis of the various Arab and Muslim states?
Question #1, you will see, goes to the issue of whether Poverty Is Necessary for the Jihad — and suggests that it is not. Question #2 goes to the issue of whether Poverty is Sufficient for someone to engage in the Jihad, or in other acts of violence and aggression that would constitute a kind of Jihad, even if outside of Islam.
And the answers to #1 and #2 demonstrate conclusively that Poverty is Neither Necessary nor Sufficient an Explanation of Jihad.
But one thing — and one thing only — is necessary and sufficient to explain the Jihad as a world-wide phenomenon (with, of course, local expressions, and a kind of mix-n’-match of personnel, so that a Pakistani might be in Chechnya, a Chechen in Madrid, an Arab in Jalalabad or Bali, and so on).
And that explanation is: the Ideology of Islam.
So come weez me, not to ze Kasbah, M. Gresh, but to ze Tres Grande Bibliotheque, ze last monstrositay (apres les colonnes de Biran) of M. Mitterand, and togezaire we will read ze bookz about Islam, and you weel learn a lot, hein, and I can stop this Pepe-le-Moko routine, because it’s getting on my nerves.