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Yes, This is about Islam
New York Times ^ | Nov 02, 2001 | Salman Rushdie

Posted on 11/02/2001 10:11:37 AM PST by AgThorn



November 2, 2001

Yes, This Is About Islam

By SALMAN RUSHDIE

LONDON -- "This isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West, partly because if the United States is to maintain its coalition against terror it can't afford to suggest that Islam and terrorism are in any way related.

The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting on the Taliban side?

Why the routine anti-Semitism of the much-repeated Islamic slander that "the Jews" arranged the hits on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the oddly self-deprecating explanation offered by the Taliban leadership, among others, that Muslims could not have the technological know-how or organizational sophistication to pull off such a feat? Why does Imran Khan, the Pakistani ex-sports star turned politician, demand to be shown the evidence of Al Qaeda's guilt while apparently turning a deaf ear to the self-incriminating statements of Al Qaeda's own spokesmen (there will be a rain of aircraft from the skies, Muslims in the West are warned not to live or work in tall buildings)? Why all the talk about American military infidels desecrating the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia if some sort of definition of what is sacred is not at the heart of the present discontents?

Of course this is "about Islam." The question is, what exactly does that mean? After all, most religious belief isn't very theological. Most Muslims are not profound Koranic analysts. For a vast number of "believing" Muslim men, "Islam" stands, in a jumbled, half-examined way, not only for the fear of God — the fear more than the love, one suspects — but also for a cluster of customs, opinions and prejudices that include their dietary practices; the sequestration or near-sequestration of "their" women; the sermons delivered by their mullahs of choice; a loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with music, godlessness and sex; and a more particularized loathing (and fear) of the prospect that their own immediate surroundings could be taken over — "Westoxicated" — by the liberal Western-style way of life.

Highly motivated organizations of Muslim men (oh, for the voices of Muslim women to be heard!) have been engaged over the last 30 years or so in growing radical political movements out of this mulch of "belief." These Islamists — we must get used to this word, "Islamists," meaning those who are engaged upon such political projects, and learn to distinguish it from the more general and politically neutral "Muslim" — include the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the blood-soaked combatants of the Islamic Salvation Front and Armed Islamic Group in Algeria, the Shiite revolutionaries of Iran, and the Taliban. Poverty is their great helper, and the fruit of their efforts is paranoia. This paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, "infidels," for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity, is presently the fastest growing version of Islam in the world.

This is not wholly to go along with Samuel Huntington's thesis about the clash of civilizations, for the simple reason that the Islamists' project is turned not only against the West and "the Jews," but also against their fellow Islamists. Whatever the public rhetoric, there's little love lost between the Taliban and Iranian regimes. Dissensions between Muslim nations run at least as deep, if not deeper, than those nations' resentment of the West. Nevertheless, it would be absurd to deny that this self-exculpatory, paranoiac Islam is an ideology with widespread appeal.

Twenty years ago, when I was writing a novel about power struggles in a fictionalized Pakistan, it was already de rigueur in the Muslim world to blame all its troubles on the West and, in particular, the United States. Then as now, some of these criticisms were well-founded; no room here to rehearse the geopolitics of the cold war and America's frequently damaging foreign policy "tilts," to use the Kissinger term, toward (or away from) this or that temporarily useful (or disapproved-of) nation-state, or America's role in the installation and deposition of sundry unsavory leaders and regimes. But I wanted then to ask a question that is no less important now: Suppose we say that the ills of our societies are not primarily America's fault, that we are to blame for our own failings? How would we understand them then? Might we not, by accepting our own responsibility for our problems, begin to learn to solve them for ourselves?

Many Muslims, as well as secularist analysts with roots in the Muslim world, are beginning to ask such questions now. In recent weeks Muslim voices have everywhere been raised against the obscurantist hijacking of their religion. Yesterday's hotheads (among them Yusuf Islam, a k a Cat Stevens) are improbably repackaging themselves as today's pussycats.

An Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist: "The disease that is in us, is from us." A British Muslim writes, "Islam has become its own enemy." A Lebanese friend, returning from Beirut, tells me that in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, public criticism of Islamism has become much more outspoken. Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world.

I'm reminded of the way noncommunist socialists used to distance themselves from the tyrannical socialism of the Soviets; nevertheless, the first stirrings of this counterproject are of great significance. If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must be encouraged until they swell into a roar. Many of them speak of another Islam, their personal, private faith.

The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order to become modern. The only aspect of modernity interesting to the terrorists is technology, which they see as a weapon that can be turned on its makers. If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern is based, and without which Muslim countries' freedom will remain a distant dream.

Salman Rushdie is the author, most recently, of "Fury: A Novel."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: clashofcivilizatio; clashofcivilizations; islam; rusdie; rushdie
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Ah, good old Rushdie ...
I was thinking about buying his book just this morning.

Wonder if I can get it on Amazon.com and if the Ayatollah still has a price on his head?

Hope his sales go up ...

1 posted on 11/02/2001 10:11:37 AM PST by AgThorn
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To: AgThorn
The democrats are mad because they haven't had a new idea in 40 years. But the Muslims are madder, they haven't had a new idea in over a hundred years. Rage has a way of building when you accept you're a failure, or you redouble your blind faith.

Poor Muslims, they're worse off than democrats.

2 posted on 11/02/2001 10:25:56 AM PST by GOPJ
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To: AgThorn
Thanks for posting this. It provides a great deal of insight into the "Islam-mania" that
is flooding the world at the moment. It also gives me some hope that some of the Muslim
faith MAY be ready to reform the archaic radical elements of Islam and join the real world.
3 posted on 11/02/2001 10:26:27 AM PST by EggsAckley
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To: AgThorn
Islamic leaders and clerics risk death by saying even a single word of moderate praise for Rushdie ....

The Taliban [so-called "Students of God" ... B.S. !!] are so vile that they must all be wiped off the planet.

Justice = KAAAABOOOOOM!

Sorry, but that is just the way I see it.

4 posted on 11/02/2001 10:26:56 AM PST by ex-Texan
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To: AgThorn
"Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world."

Finally a glimpse of hope from the Muslims themselves.

5 posted on 11/02/2001 10:30:15 AM PST by etcetera
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To: GOPJ
There is something wrong when we have so many Muslims in our country without making any staements condemning the terrorists actions. I think that there are some moderate Muslims but they are cowed by the overwhelming majority of fanatic Muslims and the terror they can inflict. This is an ominous sign of the numbers, even in our country, of fanatic Muslims.
6 posted on 11/02/2001 10:32:13 AM PST by meenie
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To: EggsAckley
It also gives me some hope that some of the Muslim faith MAY be ready to reform the archaic radical elements of Islam and join the real world.

Why would you think that? Where are the MODERATE Muslims? Have you heard any of them condemning OBL?

7 posted on 11/02/2001 10:32:34 AM PST by Howlin
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To: AgThorn
If you're going to buy one of his books, "Midnight's Children" is by far and away the best.

The odd thing is, a few years on BBC2, he did a monologue in which he hailed the unease that the muslim/third world influx into Britain was inspiring among Anglo-Saxons. It was the chickens of colonialism coming home to roost, and the Brits had no right to complain about mosques and strange cultures invading their High Street shopping centers.

All very righteous and politically correct. Now his tune has changed.

I guess having a price put on your head by a bunch of camel-scented clerics from the dark ages can help a man to concentrate on the important things in life -- things like just staying alive.

8 posted on 11/02/2001 10:34:43 AM PST by Big Bunyip
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To: AgThorn
it would be absurd to deny that this self-exculpatory, paranoiac Islam is an ideology with widespread appeal.
9 posted on 11/02/2001 10:35:13 AM PST by Helms
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To: Howlin
I actually have heard a number of American Muslims expressing outrage over bin Laden's perversion of their religion. Not enough, granted, and not very high profile. But at least Rushdie proves that there are Muslims who are not nut-cases like bin Laden. If they want to keep Islam alive, then they MUST reform it and remove all the nonsensical, violent, and hateful rhetoric from it.
10 posted on 11/02/2001 10:37:14 AM PST by EggsAckley
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Bears repeating ... here's the cliff notes version!
Suppose we say that the ills of our societies are not primarily America's fault,
that we are to blame for our own failings?
How would we understand them then?
Might we not, by accepting our own responsibility for our problems, begin to learn to solve them for ourselves?

An Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist:
"The disease that is in us, is from us."

A British Muslim writes, "Islam has become its own enemy."

A Lebanese friend, returning from Beirut, tells me that in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, public criticism of Islamism has become much more outspoken.

Many commentators have spoken of the
need for a Reformation in the Muslim world.

 

11 posted on 11/02/2001 10:40:05 AM PST by AgThorn
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To: EggsAckley
Well, maybe I'm only seeing the "squeaky wheels," you know? But even Fred Barnes was screaming on Fox last night about somebody needing to speak up.
12 posted on 11/02/2001 10:41:32 AM PST by Howlin
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To: AgThorn
Saying ad nauseam that "This isn't about Islam" simply means we haven't got a genuine dialogue going with the Muslim world. Most of them would absolutely insist that this terrorism conflict is all about Islam. It's just easier and less unsettling for us in the liberal, self-absorbed West to foist our own preconceptions and prejudices on Muslim opinion, even while claiming to act in the name of "tolerance," rather than listening to what Muslims really have to say on the subject.
13 posted on 11/02/2001 10:42:32 AM PST by Map Kernow
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To: EggsAckley
It also gives me some hope that some of the Muslim faith MAY be ready to reform the archaic radical elements of Islam and join the real world.

I really need to hear more voices like this from the Muslim world because I am fast growing to hate them every bit as violently and thoroughly as they hate us. Since 9/11, I have fantasies of being able to push a button that would kill every last one of them, from the Nation of Islam types here, to Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, etc. All of them. Women, children, elders, everyone. I hate them that much. It's sad to admit this, and I don't want to feel that way. But I need a little help from the Rushies of the world or this will eventually solidify and I'll be able to look upon suffering of the worst kind and feel nothing. And I really suspect that's not good for me.

14 posted on 11/02/2001 10:42:38 AM PST by Anamensis
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To: AgThorn
Here's hoping the Taliban go the way of all Inquisitions. GONE.

I just hope another "ism" isn't the result in the West.

15 posted on 11/02/2001 10:43:12 AM PST by gone_to_heck_back_soon
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To: AgThorn
I find it difficult to derive any hope from the moderate opinions of a Muslim who would be shot on sight by a huge proportion, perhaps half, of the Muslim world.

What, pray tell, could be characterized as a "mainstream" Muslim position? I fear that the answer would not be pleasant.

I agree and sympathize with Rushdie, but believe that he speaks, as of today, for a small minority.

In times of horrific terrorist danger, we must act on today's reality, not idealistic hopes.

16 posted on 11/02/2001 10:44:08 AM PST by Kennard
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To: AgThorn
Rushdie called Islam, "that least huggable of faiths."

---S.Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Henry Holt: New York, 1999. p.74

17 posted on 11/02/2001 10:48:19 AM PST by Shermy
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To: Helms

it would be absurd to deny that this self-exculpatory, paranoiac Islam is an ideology with widespread appeal

... spoken like someone who understands political movements

18 posted on 11/02/2001 10:50:35 AM PST by Kennard
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

Comment #20 Removed by Moderator

To: Howlin
Re:" Where are the MODERATE Muslims?"

Dead.

21 posted on 11/02/2001 11:19:04 AM PST by G.Mason
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To: AgThorn
Rushdie's close to unreadable- and I don't mean that as a compliment, a la James Joyce- but he's dead right in this mercifully short article.
22 posted on 11/02/2001 11:36:32 AM PST by Oschisms
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To: AgThorn
It seems to me that Muslims are attempting to get around the "coversion" idea, and go straight to a militant Islamic in your face kind of religion. Some who called themselves Christians in the past tried this approach, and it's a failure.
23 posted on 11/02/2001 11:42:02 AM PST by AlGone2001
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To: AgThorn
Oh,oh I smell a new fatwa coming. Any fatwas yet against OBL ordaining his murder?
24 posted on 11/02/2001 12:12:12 PM PST by rebdov
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To: meenie
Cowed? Like the Germans were cowed? They loved Hitler, and the Muslims love Osama. I don't believe for one second that their hearts aren't glowing with pride thanks to OBL.
25 posted on 11/02/2001 12:14:53 PM PST by rebdov
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To: EggsAckley
Like the Imam in Cincinatti who was caught in the lie of 'tell the stupid infidels one thing and the Muslims the truth'? Or like the Imam who was playing kissy-poo with the Jews in NYC, and then took off overnight to Egypt and let loose that the Jews did the 911 attacks? These were moderates to the face of the dumb Americans but told it like it is to fellow Muslims. These were hot stories right here on FreeRepublic when was this week, last week? I am sure plenty will remember. But for all the protestations, not one fatwa ORDAINING the murder of Osama. Why not? The Muslims had no problem with a fatwa against Rushdie for mere words, but for Osama's actions no demand for HIS head, why? I think that most of the Germans under Hitler were not active Nazis, but they sure loved what Adolph was doing. I think our local Muslims also are full of Islamic pride that Osama brought the great Satan low, he is standing up to Shaitan. The only thing they don't like is that people talk against Islam. That is why the average Muslim on the street fervently believes that the Jews were guilty for committing the 911 massacres, not Muslims. If not for fear of counter attacks. I'd bet you could sell a million OBL sweatshirts right here in the US to Muslims.
26 posted on 11/02/2001 12:26:55 PM PST by rebdov
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To: Howlin
Yeah, I know moderate Muslims who roundly condemn Osama. There's lots of them. Osama and his gang of thugs go after anyone who disagrees with them. That includes Muslims.

Where are the MODERATE Muslims? Have you heard any of them condemning OBL?

27 posted on 11/02/2001 12:36:13 PM PST by GOPJ
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To: AgThorn
You're right on this. The fundamentalist have created a religion that works well if you live in the year 1000. All creativity and easy flow of ideas has been squashed by this bazaar form of Islam. Religion works best when it's not the law of the land. When Christianity was married to state power, we had the same disaster. It's time to move on. Separate the powers of church and state. Reform now.

Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world.

28 posted on 11/02/2001 12:42:18 PM PST by GOPJ
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To: AgThorn
Good post. I agree with the author's premise that religion needs to be a personal and individual matter and not something enforced and compelled by the state or any other organized entity.
29 posted on 11/02/2001 1:14:03 PM PST by semaj
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To: AgThorn
I am amazed the liberal rag printed it.
30 posted on 11/02/2001 1:19:27 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: Map Kernow
"This isn't about Islam" simply means we haven't got a genuine dialogue going with the Muslim world. "

The War Against Terrorism will never be won if we continually refuse to identify the enemy.

31 posted on 11/02/2001 1:28:55 PM PST by semaj
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To: AgThorn
Bump
32 posted on 11/02/2001 1:48:05 PM PST by the_alfalfanator
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To: GOPJ
Yeah, I know moderate Muslims who roundly condemn Osama. There's lots of them. Osama and his gang of thugs go after anyone who disagrees with them. That includes Muslims.

Where? Here in the U.S.?

I sincerely doubt bin Ladin can send thugs after "good" Muslims here. They are either with us or against us, and silence looks like "against" from here. If they need help defending themselves from local Islamist thugs, I'm sure there are many that can help.

33 posted on 11/02/2001 2:01:47 PM PST by FreedomPoster
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To: AgThorn
This thread will get pulled. You're supposed to link to NY Times articles rather than post them verbatim. Don't you know these bozos have a suit against freerepublic ? Next time read the disclaimer at the front page.

Though I find the Rushdie article intriguing it's a pity it appears in the Times.

34 posted on 11/02/2001 2:13:43 PM PST by Cacique
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To: Cacique
Posting of NY Times articles is allowed. It is the Washington Post and the LA Times which can not be posted in their entirety.
35 posted on 11/02/2001 2:36:29 PM PST by Sidebar Moderator
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To: Cacique
Don't you know these bozos have a suit against freerepublic ? Next time read the disclaimer at the front page.

Looks like one of the two of us needs to read it .... and it ain't me!! ;-)

36 posted on 11/02/2001 3:13:42 PM PST by AgThorn
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To: AgThorn
I heard President Bush say "Islam is a peaceful religion." Where is the proof of this?
37 posted on 11/02/2001 5:08:07 PM PST by NoControllingLegalAuthority
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To: NoControllingLegalAuthority
I think it's called being "politically correct"! ;-)
38 posted on 11/02/2001 5:15:03 PM PST by AgThorn
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To: AgThorn
My mistake, I guess the Times dropped out of the suit. I do remeber at one time we couldn't post NY Times articles, I had assumed that ban was still in effect. My mistake.
39 posted on 11/02/2001 5:19:12 PM PST by Cacique
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To: Kennard
Zarathustra and Nihilism is knocking on the Doors of Islam.

I would like to steer clear of this, however it is diffficult. Europe in the 19th and 20th centuies went through this with untold death and destruction.

40 posted on 11/03/2001 6:28:08 AM PST by Helms
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To: AlGone2001
....It seems to me that Muslims are attempting to get around the "coversion" idea, and go straight to a militant Islamic in your face kind of religion....

Perhaps that is its weakness and the reason we are here. Maybe it cannot be mutated, ameliorated. I suspect that at its base, it carries a message of war rather than peace, intolerance rather than iolerance, violence rather than pacifism.

41 posted on 11/03/2001 6:36:16 AM PST by Helms
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To: AgThorn
Islam needs a Ghandi
42 posted on 11/03/2001 6:37:31 AM PST by ChadGore
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To: Helms
I think the problem is Islam started to mutate because it could no longer coexist with the changes in the modern world and what it was turning into something other than Islam. I do not believe Islam is capable of change and still be Islam, so in order to survive Islam has to change the environment (ie return people to the 14th century where Islam could survive). As long as America and western society has the ability to infuence the world exists Islam can not have the environment that it needs to exist.
43 posted on 11/03/2001 6:59:12 AM PST by CathyRyan
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To: CathyRyan
Some people could handle the change and accept it while many could not.
44 posted on 11/03/2001 7:07:40 AM PST by CathyRyan
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To: CathyRyan
I am interested in your prognosis for the Mideast, or is this all shades of things to come. As I understand it, Christianity was said "to render under Ceasar.." while Islam may seem such a tribal shamanistic religion.

I worry about Islamism in the US. There must be so much masked resentment living amoungst us. I suppose that they can only take refuge in a sense of false superiority.

45 posted on 11/03/2001 9:01:56 AM PST by Helms
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To: GOPJ
But the Muslims are madder, they haven't had a new idea in over a hundred years. Rage has a way of building when you accept you're a failure, or you redouble your blind faith.

The Muslims haven't had a new idea in more than a thousand years! This is what happens when a fanatical religion takes hold of a culture.

46 posted on 11/03/2001 9:08:43 AM PST by WRhine
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To: Shermy
Least huggable?!? LOL. Rushdie has the gift of understatement. He was scheduled to speak in my neck of the woods -- Minneapolis -- the nite of 9/11.
47 posted on 11/03/2001 9:09:53 AM PST by irgbar-man
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To: meenie
Thousands of Iranian students and young people were put in jail and hospitals because they stood up for America. Candlelight vigils were held in cities all over Iran for the past 6 or 7 weeks. They Iranian Muslims stand with America against those who took down the WTC. Our press, for the most part, didn't cover these protest. Why?

By Michael Ledeen. Mr. Ledeen is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book, "Tocqueville on American Character," has just been published in paperback by St. Martin's Press.

"An event of world-historical potential is underway in one of the largest and most powerful countries of the Middle East, yet almost no one seems to have noticed. Ever since the night of Oct. 12, the citizens of Iran have repeatedly demonstrated against the murderous Shiite theocracy that has oppressed them for the past 22 years. The most recent demonstrations started last Wednesday and ran for four successive nights in Tehran and other major cities."

"These events are unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic. They involved hundreds of thousands of people at a minimum. One second-hand account I received spoke of more than a million antigovernment demonstrators in Tehran alone. The first "victory" in our war on terror could be the fall of the regime in Iran."

Attacking the Ayatollah

"Unlike previous demonstrations, which were largely limited to students at major universities, the latest round involved young people from all walks of life and of both sexes."

48 posted on 11/03/2001 11:01:32 AM PST by GOPJ
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To: Helms
It depends I think on what happens next. If they nuke us etc all bets are off and we will never accept their presents or ideology and I think we will clean house (ours and theirs) till the ones let see it our way. If nothing more happens we will bloody their noses good in Afghanistan and Iraq (taking out Saddam) then threaten to do it to anyone else that crosses us again, then we would hunker down and brood. Regardless the Islamic-American community and the world Islamic community have lost the respect and the trust of the American people (separate and apart from the any US government position) and they will be at the bottom of the pecking order for a very long time. I do not think their psyche will handle that well.
49 posted on 11/03/2001 11:46:19 AM PST by CathyRyan
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To: *Clash of Civilizatio
Bumping to Clash of Civilizations list.
50 posted on 11/28/2001 4:48:56 PM PST by denydenydeny
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