Tag Archives: Mohammad

CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS SPREADS

Young Islam on Trek

President Erdogan of Turkey used the term “clash of civilizations” to describe the growing divide between Islamic nations and the West, following the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket in Paris.

NBC’s Richard Engel used the same term Monday evening in a news report focused on the ten Muslim countries that witnessed demonstrations and riots over the weekend.   They were angry over Charlie Hebdo’s caricature of the prophet Mohammed on its cover this week.

In the West, people are showing their support for freedom of speech and of the press.   Muslims, on the other hand, are opposed to any image of their prophet, as this is considered a sin and an insult to Islam.   There is no narrowing the gap!

Amongst the countries that witnessed demonstrations over the weekend were Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya (ruled by Russia), Pakistan and Niger, north of Nigeria.   In the latter, churches were set alight with people in them.

It was university professor Samuel P. Huntington who first popularized the term “clash of civilizations” in his book on the subject, published in 1996.   Prior to that the term had been used by Huntington in a lecture to the American Enterprise Institute and earlier by Middle East expert Bernard Lewis.   In fact, usage goes back as far as 1926, when Basil Matthews wrote “Young Islam on trek: a study in the clash of civilizations.”

When we consider the term goes back almost a century, we can realize that the concept is not a new one.   What makes it more urgent and serious is that the number of Muslims in the world is increasing rapidly while the number of Christians isn’t.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, roughly 25 % of the total number of people.   Of greater significance is that 62% are under the age of 30.   This is the recruiting pool for ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist factions.   The problem of Islamic terrorism is only going to worsen.

The clash of civilizations is partly due to ignorance. People in the West are lacking in knowledge when it comes to Islam but Muslims are ignorant of Western history and culture and do not understand how long it took to gain freedom of speech and how it is a fundamental component of western culture.

Leaders of western countries seem bewildered and do not understand how to tackle this problem.   Most leaders are of the 60’s generation that believed religion was something in the past, of little relevance today.   They have been proved wrong – but don’t know how to adjust their thinking.

Ordinary citizens seem to have a better grasp on reality, experiencing the clash of civilizations first hand with their neighbors, colleagues at work, people in stores and on the streets.   There is a widening gap between the elites and the people, which could presage dramatic changes this year as elections are held in a number of European countries.   Populist parties are gaining strength and will likely continue to do so with each terrorist attack.

Although the Bible does not use the term “clash of civilizations,” a coming clash between two major powers is prophesied in Daniel 11:40.   These powers are called “the king of the south” and the “king of the north,” two powers who are situated south and north of Jerusalem.   Conflict arises when the “king of the south” attacks the “king of the north.”   One translation uses the term “pushes”.   What we are seeing now with repeated terror attacks by Muslims in Europe could just be the beginning of this clash.   The question is: at what point will the European nations hit back?

 

 

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OUR CONTRIBUTION TO TERRORISM

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Shortly after September 11th, 2001, I was visiting Ghana in West Africa.

I remember being stuck in a traffic jam with a fellow minister, observing all that was going on around us.   The streets in African countries are always full of people.   At the side of the road, there are stalls selling everything you can imagine.

At one stall on this particular visit was a rather large painting of Osama bin Laden. It must have been 4 feet tall. I turned to my friend and asked him why it was for sale.

Ghana’s Muslim population is about 14% of its total. Most Muslims live in the north and we were on the south coast.

He explained to me that people feel America is trying to take over the world and that Osama bin Laden will stop them.   I was rather taken aback by this remark.

I was shocked on future visits to see many pictures of OBL in Christian homes.

He had clearly made a positive impression on many people.   I also remember seeing a popular calendar on peoples’ walls showing people jumping out of the twin towers. Why would anybody want to be reminded? They were, in fact, celebrating a humiliating defeat for the most powerful country in the world.

My friend’s explanation interested me. Why do people think America is trying to take over the world?

The answer lies in America’s cultural pervasiveness, from the style of clothes to the type of movies and television programs we produce, the music, the attitudes and the language.

I also remember an incident on another visit. We had stopped for refreshments halfway from Kumasi to Accra, a five-hour journey. A vehicle pulled up next to us. A number of people got out. They all seemed to be Ghanaians. Then we heard the most awful language. Every sentence included at least one four-letter word. A Ghanaian minister leaned over and said they had all been in America.   Ghanaians frown on the use of the “F” word – any Ghanaian using it is likely to have spent some time in America. That’s the perception, at least, and perception is reality.

In another memorable incident, I was asked why Americans allow their children to talk back to them. I asked the individual what made him think this was the case. He replied that he had seen it many times on American TV shows.

American television shows are shown all over the world. I should elaborate and say that the worst American TV shows are shown everywhere. Jerry Springer fills the airwaves. Violence (“Action!”) is preferred over sex.   And we certainly have a lot of violent shows for export. Is there any wonder that we are seen as a violent country? America’s wars seem like an extension of that violence.

Thinking about the events of the last ten days, the terrorist attacks in Paris and subsequent events, we need to ask ourselves: How much have we in the West contributed to the present situation?   Nothing could possibly condone acts of terrorism but we may be inadvertently contributing to it.

Second generation Muslim immigrants are, in far too many cases, turning to extremism. Could this be their way of dealing with the daily contradiction that is their lives – trying to reconcile a strict religious upbringing with the degeneration they see around them?

President Erdogan of Turkey warned today of a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.   Many Muslims already see themselves as being in a war against “Christianity,” not realizing how unchristian the West has become.

Islam has very different values to those of the secular West. Muslims are deeply offended by the content of entertainment emanating from the West. Yes, they could turn their television sets off, just as they can refuse to buy copies of Charlie Hebdo with a cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

But we could also stop producing trash! Sadly, in the world of entertainment, there’s little money to be made by adhering to the words of the Apostle Paul. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Phil 4:8)

There was a time when America was highly respected around the world. At that time, the country was more Christian with a population living more in accordance with the scriptures, though not perfect by any means.   Today, the US flaunts its immorality, especially in its entertainment.

The US and, indeed, the whole western world, would be wise to remember the words found in Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

PARISIAN AFTERMATH

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It really is a dialog of the deaf!

I’ve just been listening to a discussion on the World Service of the BBC.   The program was Newshour, one hour of serious world news, the best available.

The discussion was about the cover of this week’s Charlie Hebdo satirical paper.   Only last week ten members of staff, including four cartoonists and the managing editor, were all killed when terrorists invaded their office. Their motive was revenge, to kill those who had insulted the prophet Mohammed by depicting him in their paper.

In defiance, the paper’s staff, now temporarily housed in the offices of Liberation, refusing to be intimidated, have again depicted the prophet on their front page, holding up a sign saying “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie).   Interestingly, not one of the 200 members of staff of Liberation disagreed with the decision to house those from Charlie Hebdo, even though they clearly endanger themselves.

The BBC presenter was interviewing two female journalists, one a practicing Muslim of Algerian origin and the other a journalist with Liberation.

The Muslim explained to the BBC’s worldwide audience how deeply offensive the cartoon is, that it is, in Islam, blasphemy.   The other journalist countered by explaining that France has freedom of speech and that they are expressing their highly valued freedom.

What was particularly interesting to me was the Muslim saying she is deeply committed to freedom of speech but that does not extend to insulting somebody else’s religion.

It reminded me of a segment on the same program two or three years ago following the Arab Spring, a period of time when western countries thought they were witnessing the flowering of western style freedom in the Arab world. The interviewer then was talking to Tunisians who were anticipating democracy in their country.   They were asked a number of questions and gave the same responses as most people in the West would give.

That is, until the interviewer asked if their vision of democracy extended to allowing people to choose their own religion.

That was a definite no-no.   Nobody could ever renounce Islam

A huge gulf separates western thinking, which is based on individual freedom, and Islam, which means “submission.” They are two opposites.

This is not only a dialog of the deaf; it is also a clash of civilizations.

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The clash between these two worlds is going to be the defining conflict of our age, just as the Cold War was for over forty years.

Tom Rogan, a writer for National Review and an expert on Islamic terror groups, said on the latest McLaughlin Group that there are three types of terrorists now operating in the West.

One group is the al-Qaeda operatives, who have been around for about twenty years.

Secondly, we have those returning to the countries of their birth, from Syria and Iraq.   They have been trained for conflict and encouraged to stage terror attacks in their home countries similar to what we saw in Paris last week.   All western countries should expect to see a surge in such attacks in the foreseeable future.

The third group is made up of those influenced by “YouTube.”   These are often the lone wolfs we saw recently in Ottawa, Sydney, and New York. They keep an eye on terrorist websites, which encourage them to stage terror attacks, especially on police, security personnel, and government buildings.

Mr. Rogan predicted that we will see more attacks this year.

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While we are on the subject of terrorism, it should be noted that while the world’s attention was on the 17 deaths in Paris, an estimated 2,000 died in NE Nigeria when Boko Haram attacked a small town. Most of those killed were women, children and the elderly who could not run fast enough to escape from the terrorists.

The BBC has not been able to verify the figure because it is impossible for anybody to get nearer than 200 kilometers to the area. Boko Haram also destroyed the cell phone tower in the town, so that nobody living there has been able to communicate.

People who escaped ran to the nearest big city of Maiduguri. All told the same story of countless numbers of dead within and outside of the town.

A few days later, in the same region of Nigeria, a ten-year old girl, used by Boko Haram as a suicide bomber, blew up a market, killing twenty people.

It’s not surprising that the local archbishop has called on the US and other western countries to intervene to save the people from the Islamic onslaught.

The Nigerian army seems to be doing very little.   Neighboring Cameroon claimed today that is has killed 150 terrorists belonging to the organization.

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FOOTNOTE:   Sky News has just said that 5,000 EU citizens are now fighting in Iraq and Syria with ISIS.   What will they do when they return to their home countries in Europe?

Clearly, President Obama was wrong when he said a few months ago that the War on Terror was over. It seems more likely that it’s just starting.