“Profound” and dangerous? Profound, according to Merriam Webster, means “having intellectual depth and insight”; “difficult to fathom or understand”; “extending far below the surface”; “coming from, reaching to, or situated at a depth : deep-seated” (a profound sigh); “characterized by intensity of feeling or quality”; and “all encompassing : complete (profound sleep) (profound deafness).” Islam doesn’t have any notable intellectual depth — the much-vaunted Muslim philosophers were generally dismissed within the umma as heretics. Nor is it difficult to fathom or understand, contrary to the lies and obfuscations of Islamic supremacist spokesmen (You have to have a degree in Islam! You have to be fluent in Arabic! Etc.) Sufi mysticism may extend far below the surface, but that is not what Blair is talking about; nor does he seem to mean that Islam comes from a depth, or is characterized by intensity of feeling, or is all-encompassing (although that it certainly is, with a law for everything). It seems as if he meant “profoundly dangerous,” not “profound and dangerous.” But apparently no one in his office or any of the dopes at the Daily Mail noticed the odd word choice.
Anyway, this profoundly incoherent article represents an advance in the grasp of the jihad problem among the Western intelligentsia, but it is still severely marred by a great deal of politically correct willful ignorance and wrong analysis.
“The ideology behind Lee Rigby’s murder is profound and dangerous. Why don’t we admit it?: Tony Blair launches a brave assault on Muslim extremism after Woolwich attack,” by Tony Blair in the Daily Mail, June 1 (thanks to all who sent this in):
There is only one view of the murder of Lee Rigby: horrific. But there are two views of its significance.
One is that it is the act of crazy people, motivated in this case by a perverted idea about Islam, but of no broader significance.
Crazy people do crazy things. So don’t overreact.
The other view is that this act was indeed horrible; and that the ideology which inspired it is profound and dangerous.
I am of this latter view.
So of course we shouldn’t overreact. We didn’t after July 7, 2005. But we did act. And we were right to. The actions by our security services will undoubtedly have prevented other serious attacks.
The “˜Prevent” programme in local communities was sensible. The new measures of the Government seem reasonable and proportionate.
However, we are deluding ourselves if we believe that we can protect this country simply by what we do here. The ideology is out there. It isn’t diminishing.
Consider the Middle East. As of now, Syria is in a state of accelerating disintegration. President Assad is brutally pulverising communities hostile to his regime. At least 80,000 have died. The refugees now total more than one million. The internally displaced are more than four million.
Many in the region believe that the Assad intention is to ethnically cleanse the Sunni from the areas dominated by his regime and then form a separate state around Lebanon. There would then be a de facto Sunni state in the rest of Syria, cut off from the wealth of the country or the sea.
The Syrian opposition is made up of many groups. The fighters are increasingly the Al Qaeda- affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra. They are winning support, and arms and money from outside the country.
Assad is using chemical weapons on a limited but deadly scale. Some of the stockpiles are in fiercely contested areas.
The overwhelming desire of the West is to stay out of it. This is completely understandable. But we must also understand: we are at the beginning of this tragedy. Its capacity to destabilise the region is clear.
If Blair wants to see the region further destabilized, just wait until the British and American troops get there. There are no significant non-jihadist elements among the Syrian opposition, so we would be fighting to establish an Islamic supremacist state with a significant jihadist presence. What could possibly go wrong?
Jordan is behaving with exemplary courage, but there is a limit to the refugees it can reasonably be expected to absorb. Lebanon is now fragile as Iran pushes Hezbollah into the battle. Al Qaeda is back trying to cause carnage in Iraq and Iran continues its gruesome meddling there.
To the South in Egypt and across North Africa, Muslim Brotherhood parties are in power, but the contradiction between their ideology and their ability to run modern economies means that they face growing instability and pressure from more extreme groups.
Then there is the Iranian regime, still intent on getting a nuclear weapon, still exporting terror and instability to the West and the east of it. In sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is facing awful terror attacks. In Mali, France has been fighting a pretty tough battle.
And we haven’t mentioned Pakistan or Yemen. Go to the Far East and look at the western border between Burma and Bangladesh. Look at recent events in Bangladesh itself, or the Mindanao dispute in the Muslim region of the Philippines.
In many of the most severely affected areas, one other thing is apparent: a rapidly growing population. The median age in the Middle East is in the mid-20s. In Nigeria it’s 19. In Gaza, where Hamas hold power, a quarter of the population is under five.
When I return to Jerusalem soon, it will be my 100th visit to the Middle East since leaving office, working to build a Palestinian state. I see first-hand in this region what is happening.
He is saying there is a problem with the jihad ideology while simultaneously working to establish a “Palestinian” state that would be from the first to the last solely a jihad base to launch renewed jihad attacks against Israel. Madness.
So I understand the desire to look at this world and explain it by reference to local grievances, economic alienation and of course “˜crazy people”. But are we really going to examine it and find no common thread, nothing that joins these dots, no sense of an ideology driving or at least exacerbating it all?
There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature. There is not a problem with Muslims in general. Most in Britain will be horrified at Lee Rigby”s murder.
“There is not a problem with Islam. For those of us who have studied it, there is no doubt about its true and peaceful nature.” There’s that weird word choice again. “True and peaceful nature” — so Blair thinks Islam’s nature is true and peaceful? Will he then convert to Islam, if he thinks it is true? Doubtful — it is more likely that he means that Islam’s true nature is peaceful. But how did a man who writes English so incoherently rise to become Prime Minister?
And as for the idea that Islam’s true nature is peaceful, which Qur’an did he read? Did he read the sura entitled “The Spoils of War” (chapter eights)? Did he read that Muslims must fight until religion is all for Allah (8:39)? That they must make ready the steeds of war to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah (8:60)? Slay the pagans wherever they find them (9:5; cf. 2:191 and 4:89)? Fight against and subjugate the Jews and Christians (9:29)? Behead the unbelievers (47:4)? Did he read the many hadiths that support the idea that Muslims must fight against and subjugate Infidels? Did he study the rulings of Islamic jurists who all say the same thing?
Anyway, here he has contradicted himself. He earlier dismissed the idea that Rigby’s murder was motivated by “a perverted idea about Islam,” and opts instead for the idea that “the ideology which inspired it is profound and dangerous.” But if “there is not a problem with Islam,” then this ideology that is “profound and dangerous” must be a “perverted idea about Islam,” no? Well, sort of. Blair will allow that while there is not a problem with Islam, there is a problem with “the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam.” Apparently this “strain within Islam” doesn’t constitute a “problem with Islam.” Maybe it is something like having a tumor but being otherwise healthy: the tumor must be benign. But of course it isn’t benign: it is “a problem.” Yes, it’s a problem, but it doesn’t make for a problem with the larger body. If all this makes sense to you, congratulations: you have mastered the muddled mind of Tony Blair.
But there is a problem within Islam — from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam. And we have to put it on the table and be honest about it.
Of course there are Christian extremists and Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu ones. But I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies.
Where are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu extremists murdering people and justifying the murders by quoting their holy texts? Where are they working to conquer and subjugate those who believe differently, based on mandates of conquest and subjugation that are found in those holy texts?
At the extreme end of the spectrum are terrorists, but the world view goes deeper and wider than it is comfortable for us to admit. So by and large we don’t admit it. This has two effects. First, those with that view think we are weak and that gives them strength.
Second, those within Islam — and the good news is there are many — who actually know this problem exists and want to do something about it, lose heart. All over the Middle East and beyond there is a struggle being played out.
There are many within Islam who know this problem exists and want to do something about it? It would have been helpful if Blair had named a few. While he was Prime Minister, the British government began working with numerous “moderates” who turned out to be anything but. How does Blair establish that a Muslim knows this problem exists and wants to do something about it? Is a vague condemnation of terrorism enough, even if the Muslim in question is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamic supremacists?
On the one side, there are Islamists who have this exclusivist and reactionary world view. They are a significant minority, loud and well organised. On the other are the modern-minded, those who hated the old oppression by corrupt dictators and who hate the new oppression by religious fanatics. They are potentially the majority, but unfortunately they are badly organised.
We see them demonstrating in Egypt and Turkey. However, we don’t see Obama or Cameron rushing to aid them. Mustn’t offend the Islamic supremacists Morsi and Erdogan.
The seeds of future fanaticism and terror, possibly even major conflict, are being sown. We have to help sow seeds of reconciliation and peace. But clearing the ground for peace is not always peaceful.
The long and hard conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have made us wary of any interventions abroad. But we should never forget why they were long and hard. We allowed failed states to come into being.
Saddam was responsible for two major wars, in which hundreds of thousands died, many by chemical weapons. He killed similar numbers of his own people.
The Taliban grew out of the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and made the country into a training ground for terror. Once these regimes were removed, both countries have struggled against the same forces promoting violence and terror in the name of religion everywhere.
Not every engagement need be military; or where military, involve troops. But disengaging from this struggle won’t bring us peace.
Neither will security alone. We resisted revolutionary communism by being resolute on security; but we defeated it by a better idea: Freedom. We can do the same with this.
The better idea is a modern view of religion and its place in society and politics. There has to be respect and equality between people of different faiths. Religion must have a voice in the political system but not govern it.
We have to start with how to educate children about faith, here and abroad. That is why I started a foundation whose specific purpose is to educate children of different faiths across the world to learn about each other and live with each other.
We are now in 20 countries and the programmes work. But it is a drop in the ocean compared with the flood of intolerance taught to so many. Now, more than ever, we have to be strong and we have to be strategic.
These programs will never work. They will forever be hindered by Blair’s partial understanding of the problem.