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SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 07:58 AM
By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, January 5, 2005; Page A01

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Jan. 4 -- Aceh's highly influential Islamic clerics have explained the giant wave that devastated this overwhelmingly Muslim region as a warning to the faithful that they must more strictly observe their religion, including a ban on Muslims killing Muslims.

The infusion of religious meaning into the tragedy, in a province already known as Indonesia's most fervently Muslim area, suggested the consequences of the Dec. 26 tsunami could extend well beyond the death toll. The sweeping destruction has torn apart the infrastructure on the northern part of Sumatra island.

The idea that the killing on both sides of a years-old conflict between secessionist rebels and Indonesia's military helped bring divine wrath could affect the way Aceh's 4.7 million residents view the central government in Jakarta. At the same time, the devout people of this region, who seem to have embraced their clerics' views, could demand even tighter strictures in Aceh, which is already governed by Islamic law, or sharia.

The extent of Islamic influence across Aceh has been on display from the moment the wave swept in from the Indian Ocean and flattened an uncounted number of towns, villages and neighborhoods. Down almost every road, beside almost every street, mosques immediately took in refugees, setting up tents and organizing food distribution before the provincial government or international aid agencies got relief operations up and running.

Azhari Banta Ali, a provincial official, said village and neighborhood imams across Aceh province have traditionally acted in tandem with local administrators in matters affecting their followers. The Islamic clerics here have little sense of hierarchy, he added, meaning the imam of each mosque wields strong moral authority within his own area.

"Wherever you go in Aceh, you will see the village leader and the imam working together," Banta Ali said. "One is the religious leader, the other is the government leader at the lowest level of the administration."

In this atmosphere, the swift care provided around mosques and the interpretation handed down in sermons and individual counseling by local imams seemed likely to be decisive for years to come in how the people of Aceh understand the tragedy that has befallen them.

"God is angry with Aceh people, because most of them do not do what is written in the Koran and the Hadith," the collected sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, explained Cut Bukhaini, 35, an imam. "I hope this will lead all Muslims in Aceh to do what is in the Koran and its teachings. If we do so, God will be merciful and compassionate."

Bukhaini, surrounded by refugees camping on the grounds of his Baitush Shakhir Mosque in Banda Aceh's Ulee Kareng district, said people here were guilty of forgetting their obligation to pray five times a day and of concentrating too much on earning money rather than living according to their religion. Moreover, he explained, they offended the Almighty by entering into a conflict in which "Muslims killed Muslims" in contravention of Koranic strictures.

The provincial rebellion, by a group known as the Free Aceh Movement, began as an effort to split the region from Jakarta's rule. Although the movement has Islamic overtones, its goals are primarily separatist, and the conflict has never revolved around religion.

The soldiers dispatched here to put it down are Muslims, as are the rebels, and the central government has always voiced pride in Indonesia's role as the world's most populous Muslim nation. In that light, Bukhaini said, the conflict was unlawful under Islam, with guilt shared by both sides and the people of Aceh paying a terrible price.

In last Friday's sermon and in statements since then, imams have said the disaster should be a lesson to Muslims to more closely observe Islamic laws, including those governing consumption of alcohol and relations between the sexes, according to Aceh residents who attended weekly services in their mosques.

Unlike most of Indonesia, this province enforces sharia, including a ban on public sales of liquor. But the atmosphere has never been as austere nor the enforcement as complete as in other sharia jurisdictions such as Saudi Arabia.

"I think people were making love before marriage, doing bad things, forgetting to pray to God," said Jack Solong, 25, a waiter and dishwasher at a popular Banda Aceh coffee shop. "God punished us. I believe that."

The cafe owner, Haji Nawawi, 45, who pulls down his shutters three times a day for prayers, agreed. He suggested that the disaster could persuade people to intensify their observance of the faith that, except for some Chinese Buddhists and central Sumatran Christians, nearly all of them share.

"Before the tsunami, all the people were full of bad conduct," he said. "Boys were sitting close to the girls. There was corruption in the government. This was God's punishment."

A number of people interviewed Tuesday in Banda Aceh shared Nawawi's convictions.

"We have to make a lot of changes in our lives, and this is God's way of letting us know," said Hetty Meutia Dewy, an agriculture student at Bogor University and a member of the Islamic Association of Students. "The imams have said it was a warning. They said God loves the Aceh people, but the tsunami was a warning to be better people.

Neva Zarlinda, an 18-year-old high school student camped beside Baitush Shakhir Mosque, said she also viewed the disaster as a warning from God and, as a result, planned to be more observant.

"I hope that I will pray more now, because I have done a lot of wrong things," she said, hanging around the government-provided tent where she, her mother, her father and her five siblings have taken up residence. "I seldom prayed. God willing, I will pray more."

Despite her resolution, Zarlinda did not bother with the head scarf worn by many Aceh women.

The Islamic Defender Front, a militant group that flew volunteers in from Jakarta to help in the relief effort, said its members were the first to clear bodies and debris from the gleaming white Baiturhahman Mosque, the main symbol of Islam in Aceh, which rises from a broad esplanade in Banda Aceh's city center.

"The mosques are central for Muslims," said Mohammed Maksouni, 36, a leader of the group, explaining why refugees instinctively flowed into mosques after they fled the wave. "And also, the houses were destroyed but the mosques were left standing."

Ansufri Sabow, 34, another member and college lecturer on mathematics and Islamic studies, said the tsunami could "cleanse the sins of the people" as well as caution them.

"God has warned us," he said. "Wake up. Wake up. Wake up."

The Islamic Defender Front has made a name for itself in Jakarta by trashing bars during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Although it has no known links to Indonesia's underground Islamic terrorist movement, the group has criticized U.S. and other Western influence in the country.

Sabow specified, however, that he welcomed the U.S. Navy helicopters working out of Banda Aceh to deliver food and relief supplies to isolated refugees. "If they come here to give food, give aid, no problem," he said. "Aid, not AIDS."


Link (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48407-2005Jan4.html)

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 08:39 AM
Interesting parallel in Jerry Falwell's response to the 9/11 attack:

[ QUOTE ]
On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked..."

"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.

Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."

"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.

Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club program, seemed to agree with Falwell's earlier statements in a prayer during the program.

"We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," said Robertson. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."



<hr /></blockquote>

Link (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/14/Falwell.apology/)

One critical difference being that the Tsunami was a natural disaster and the other was man-made. In both cases it appears that religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim, are using the same approach in an attempt to capitalize on a catastrophe.

highsea
01-05-2005, 09:21 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Jan. 4 -- Aceh's highly influential Islamic clerics have explained the giant wave that devastated this overwhelmingly Muslim region as a warning to the faithful that they must more strictly observe their religion, including a ban on Muslims killing Muslims. <hr /></blockquote>
It was only a matter of time until the Imam's started up with this crap. Notice the ban is not on killing people, just muslims.
__________________________________________________ ____

Barbara
01-05-2005, 10:09 AM
And when haven't the religious fanatics of the world not correlated a natural disaster to the wrath of their religion's dieties?

Barbara

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 10:43 AM
[ QUOTE ]
And when have the religious fanatics of the world not correlated a natural disaster to the wrath of their religion's dieties?
<hr /></blockquote>

Good point Barbara. I think it's a natural response for people to feel overwhelmed and out of control when something like this happens. Some people prefer to rely on superstition as a means of explaining what for them is unexplainable. Attempting to place the blame on immorality is only one small part of the ongoing efforts of fundamentalists of all flavors to assert power and influence over their flock.

The sad thing about it is that, all too often, it works.


Snake

Barbara
01-05-2005, 10:51 AM
Snake,

I edited my post to read "And when haven't..."

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> &lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;
And when have the religious fanatics of the world not correlated a natural disaster to the wrath of their religion's dieties?
<hr /></blockquote>

Good point Barbara. I think it's a natural response for people to feel overwhelmed and out of control when something like this happens. Some people prefer to rely on superstition as a means of explaining what for them is unexplainable. Attempting to place the blame on immorality is only one small part of the ongoing efforts of fundamentalists of all flavors to assert power and influence over their flock.

The sad thing about it is that, all too often, it works.


Snake <hr /></blockquote>

Barbara

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 11:16 AM
[ QUOTE ]
I edited my post to read "And when haven't..." <hr /></blockquote>

I assumed that's what you meant. Didn't sound like you were coming to the defense of religious zealotry.


Highsea -
[ QUOTE ]
It was only a matter of time until the Imam's started up with this crap. Notice the ban is not on killing people, just muslims.
<hr /></blockquote>

Religious followers, both Christian and Muslim, have a long history of accepting (if not outright approving) the killing of non-believers. The position of the Inams does not surprise me.

There are many so-called 'religious' people in our country who feel little remorse over the death of Muslims. Not a hell of a lot of difference between the two groups if you ask me.

Snake

Wally_in_Cincy
01-05-2005, 11:26 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>

There are many so-called 'religious' people in our country who feel little remorse over the death of Muslims. <hr /></blockquote>

Are you taliking about the death of terrorists who are trying to kill US Marines? If that's the case you may be right.


Or are you talking about the Christian fundamentalists who are beheading innocent Muslims on the internet and setting off car bombs in front of police stations?

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>

Not a hell of a lot of difference between the two groups if you ask me.

<hr /></blockquote>

I beg to differ.

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 12:08 PM
[ QUOTE ]
Are you taliking about the death of terrorists who are trying to kill US Marines? If that's the case you may be right.


Or are you talking about the Christian fundamentalists who are beheading innocent Muslims on the internet and setting off car bombs in front of police stations?
<hr /></blockquote>

You're taking my over generalization and politicizing it - LOL. Admittedly, the line between religious belief and politics can get blurry quick.

I don't think any of our military people are killing opponents in combat based on religious beliefs. I do think that there have been thousands of peripheral innocent civilian casualties due to our invasion of Iraq -in addition to the deserved combat killings that you mention.

As to fundamentalists bombing buildings? I think we've seen a few examples of that here in the good old USA. Abortion clinics come to mind.

"Violent protests, in the form of arson, firebombing, and vandalism started in the early 1970's in the U.S. Then, as now, most of the violence appears to be the acts of religiously-motivated criminals acting alone. However, recent cases involving the assassination and attempted murder of abortion providers in both the U.S. and Canada have shown that perpetrators appear to be sheltered by a network of sympathizers.

In recent years, the term "anti-abortion" has been used to identify individuals and groups which employ violence and murder to attain their political ends.

They are differentiated from the vastly larger "pro-life" movement which rejects violence against persons and property. Both the pro-life and anti-abortion movements are motivated by one concept: that human personhood begins at the instant of conception. From this principle, it naturally follows that a newly fertilized ovum, an embryo and a fetus are all human persons who should be granted the same rights, privileges and protections as a child or adult. Some view an abortion clinic as the ethical equivalent of a Nazi death camp."


Link (http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_viol.htm)

Wally_in_Cincy
01-05-2005, 12:33 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr>

...As to fundamentalists bombing buildings? I think we've seen a few examples of that here in the good old USA. Abortion clinics come to mind.

"Violent protests, in the form of arson, firebombing, and vandalism started in the early 1970's in the U.S. Then, as now, most of the violence appears to be the acts of religiously-motivated criminals acting alone. However, recent cases involving the assassination and attempted murder of abortion providers in both the U.S. and Canada have shown that perpetrators appear to be sheltered by a network of sympathizers....

<hr /></blockquote>

These cases are rare. They are also condemned by the vast majority (I would guess 99%) of the Christian clergy in this country.

How many Muslim clerics have condemned the innocent killing of infidels by Islamic terrorists?

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 12:42 PM
[ QUOTE ]
How many Muslim clerics have condemned the innocent killing of infidels by Islamic terrorists? <hr /></blockquote>

Wally, I'm not sure how to give you an accurate statistic on this. However I don't think it's because such statistics don't exist. Here's a recent example of the kind of condemnation you mention.

[ QUOTE ]
Six Saudi clerics have sharply rebuked al-Qa'ida terrorists for killing fellow Muslims and damaging public and private property during a recent string of bombings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"There is no doubt even to the least knowledgeable of the Koran, the Sunnah, and the opinions by the ulema [Muslim religious scholars] of the nation, that it is a forbidden act and that its perpetrator is a criminal," the clerics said in a statement released through the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). "Islam came to preserve five essentials, which are religion, soul, mind, honor, and property, and forbade any encroachment on them," the statement intoned.

"The bombings that took place in the city of Riyadh, ... and the previous bombings and incidents that led to the loss of lives and damaged public and private property, were a heinous crime and a great sin."

The six clerics -- Shaykh Abd-al-Rahman Bin-Nasir al-Barak, Shaykh Dr. Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Rahman al-Jibrin, Shaykh Dr. Safar Bin-Abd-al-Rahman al-Hawali, Shaykh Dr. Salaman Bin-Fahd al-Awdah, Shaykh Dr. Abdallah Bin-Humud al-Tuwayjiri, and Shaykh Dr. Nasir Bin-Sulayman al-Umar -- cite eight points on why the terrorist bombings violated the Islamic faith, according to an SPA news dispatch June 13.

The statement is especially noteworthy because three of the signatories, al-Hawali, al-Awdah, and al-Umar, were radical clerics who had been jailed from 1994 to 1999 by the Saudi government. In his 1996 "Declaration of War Against the Americans," al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden specifically mentioned the arrests of al-Hawali and al-Awdah.

These six Muslim scholars are among a number of other Islamic leaders who have also condemned terrorism and extremist interpretations of Islam.

During a June 13-15 conference of the Islamic Centers in Europe, Secretary-General Abdelouahed Belkeziz of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said that "combat[ing] the pockets of blind religious fanaticism and extremism strewn here and there, which have no basis whatsoever in Islam, ... are founded instead on extremely exaggerated misconceptions misleadingly ascribed to Islam.

"Such misguided behaviors, as you are well aware, cause Islam and Muslims unspeakable harm, and all but succeed in obscuring the real, shining and tolerant Islam, and depicting it as a backward religion based on extremism, bigotry, rejection of modernity, and repudiation of contemporary civilization."

On June 20, the OIC issued a press release condemning the beheading of American hostage Paul Johnson, saying:

"Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, has expressed his strong condemnation and stigmatization of the brutal killing and decapitation in Riyadh of the U.S. hostage Paul M. Johnson, which has provoked large-scale indignation and outrage.

"The Secretary-General reaffirmed that such a heinous act against foreigners repudiates the very principles of Islam which urge the provision of full care and protection to foreigners and which proscribe the killing of the innocent."

A terrorist group in Saudi Arabia that claimed it was an affiliate of the transnational al-Qa'ida terrorist network killed Johnson in mid-June. Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the self-proclaimed military leader of al-Qa'ida in Saudi Arabia, who claimed he killed Johnson, was killed soon thereafter while disposing of Johnson's body on the outskirts of Riyadh.

These are the reasons why Muslims are not permitted to carry out terrorist bombings, according to the six clerics' statement:

-- "First: It is an act of corruption on earth and God Almighty has forbidden in His Book and condemned its perpetrator. God said: 'And do no evil nor mischief on the face of the earth.'

-- "Second: It involves killing innocent lives without any right. The ulema of the nation are unanimous in forbidding attack on innocent life, whether it is the life of a Muslim or a non-Muslim, among those whose security is pledged. The Koran and the Sunnah forbid that, considering it a great sin.

-- "Third: It is damage of protected property without any right. The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon, is cited as saying in the farewell pilgrimage: 'Your blood, property, and honor are sacrosanct as this day, in this month, and in this country.' The Prophet is also cited as saying: 'It is forbidden for a Muslim to encroach on his fellow Muslim's blood, property, and honor.'

-- "Fourth: It involves terrorization of peaceful Muslims. The Prophet, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, said: 'A Muslim has no right to terrorize fellow Muslims.' This was related by Imams Ahmad [Al-Shafi'i] and Abu Dawud.

-- "Fifth: It involves taking up arms against Muslims. Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim cite Abu Hurayrah, may God be pleased with him, as saying: 'The Prophet said: No one should take up arms against his Muslim brother.' ... The Prophet is cited as saying: 'Whoever takes up arms against us is not one of us.'

-- "Sixth: It involves harm to Muslims. God said: 'And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly bear on themselves a calumny and a glaring sin.' The Prophet is also cited as saying: 'The Muslim is the one whom Muslims are safe from his tongue and hand.'

-- "Seventh: It leads to splitting Muslim ranks and unity, which they are in dire need of at a time when other nations are vying with one another to harm them and lie in wait for them; and

-- "Finally, we advise all Muslims, and those who got involved in these acts, or whose mind has been polluted, to fear God for themselves and their Muslim brothers. He who got involved must repent to God, give up every sin he committed, and return to his senses and the truth. He should unite with his brothers against their enemies, who are lurking for them. He must not become a pickaxe that demolishes the entity of the nation. ..."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
<hr /></blockquote>

Link (http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/shanghai/pas/hyper/2004/july/01/epf405.htm)

highsea
01-05-2005, 02:12 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> Six Saudi clerics have sharply rebuked al-Qa'ida terrorists for killing fellow Muslims...'It is forbidden for a Muslim to encroach on his fellow Muslim's blood, property, and honor.'....
'A Muslim has no right to terrorize fellow Muslims.'...'The Prophet said: No one should take up arms against his Muslim brother...It involves harm to Muslims<hr /></blockquote>
This is the overriding sentiment. Only twice were non-muslims mentioned, and only in the broader context of protecting muslims' image.

When a non muslim is killed, their main concern is how it reflects on muslims. And 90% of the clerics don't even give it a passing mention.
[ QUOTE ]
"Such misguided behaviors, as you are well aware, cause Islam and Muslims unspeakable harm...It leads to splitting Muslim ranks and unity...He who got involved must repent to God, give up every sin he committed, and return to his senses and the truth. He should unite with his brothers against their enemies, who are lurking for them."<hr /></blockquote>
These are your "moderate" clerics talking.
__________________________________________________ ________

SnakebyteXX
01-05-2005, 03:38 PM
[ QUOTE ]
When a non muslim is killed, their main concern is how it reflects on muslims. And 90% of the clerics don't even give it a passing mention.
<hr /></blockquote>

I'm not terribly surprised to see the comments of the Muslim clerics preponderantly about Muslims but I agree with you that much more could be done. After a little Net surfing I've come across another (more dated) article that may show a little more balance:

Leading Muslim Clerics in Iraq Condemn Bombing of Churches
NY Times

By IAN FISHER

Published: August 3, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 2 - Top Muslim clerics and political leaders united Monday behind Iraq's Christians, condemning the coordinated bomb attacks on five churches the day before as a dangerous escalation of the war and an assault on centuries of coexistence between Christians and Muslims here.

Still, some Christians, who make up less than 5 percent of the nation's 25 million people, said they feared that the attacks were a frightening signal of a rise of fundamentalist Islam - and that the day might come when they were no longer welcome in Iraq. At least 10 people were killed in the bombings, timed as Christians gathered in churches for Sunday evening Mass.

"What else do they want?" asked a Christian woman, who gave her name as Um Khalid, 56, who runs a food shop down the street from an Assyrian Christian church in Baghdad, where twisted and blackened cars still stood from the explosion the night before. "They want us out of here."

Iraqi officials lay blame for the attacks on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant with ties to Al Qaeda. But his group, Tawhid and Jihad, did not claim responsibility for the attacks, as has been its practice for others.

The group did release two videotapes on Monday: one showing what appeared to be a Turkish hostage shot to death with three bullets to the head, the other saying it was releasing a Somali truck driver because his employer had agreed to halt operations in Iraq.

The Iraqi Christian community, concentrated around Baghdad and the Kurdish-controlled region in and around Mosul, is one of the oldest in the world, tracing its roots back 2,000 years. Most of its members are Assyrians, an independent Christian church, and Chaldeans, Eastern-rite Catholics who recognize papal authority.

Though subject to persecution throughout their history, they considered themselves generally well treated under the largely secular rule of Saddam Hussein, and some of them - notably the former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz - rose to positions of power.

Their numbers have dwindled to about 800,000 now and falling, from about one million in 1991, around the time of the Persian Gulf war. The exodus has grown markedly since the fall of the Hussein government last year, with the crumbling of the generally secular atmosphere and the spread of lawlessness.

A recent rise in attacks on retail businesses often owned by Christians and considered blasphemous by Islamists - liquor stores, beauty salons and shops selling Western music - has increased the worries.

On Monday, leaders from nearly every major Muslim group, Sunni and Shiite alike, spoke out forcefully against the bombings, in what amounted to a call for national unity against what they said were terrorists aimed at pulling the country apart.

The most revered Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, described the bombings as "criminal actions" and called on the new Iraqi government to end such violence.

"We confirm the necessity of respecting the right of Christians and other religious minorities and their right to live in their country, Iraq, in security and peace," Ayatollah Sistani, who communicates publicly only on matters he regards as vital, said in a statement.

There were similar words from the Muslim Scholars Association, a relatively moderate group of Sunni Muslims which nonetheless has ties to the insurgency here. Even Moktada al-Sadr, the rebel Shiite cleric whose militia is thought to be responsible for many of the attacks on liquor stores, condemned the bombings.

The American military also strongly condemned the attacks. "These terrorists will attack anyone and anything to create widespread fear and destroy the security and future of Iraq," Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, a military spokesman, said in a statement.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said both the nature of the attacks and evidence collected from the bombing sites pointed firmly to Mr. Zarqawi, possibly working in cooperation with supporters of Mr. Hussein. He said there were direct similarities with earlier bombings believed to have been carried out by Mr. Zarqawi, including the types of explosive and detonators.


Link (http://www.genocidewatch.org/IraqLeadingMuslimClericsCondemnBombingofChurches3a ugust2004.htm)

Also came across this web page regarding condemnation of the 9/11 attack:

Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks (http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php)

Another (even more dated) article:

Saudi clerics condemn terrorists
Sunday, August 17, 2003 Posted: 11:44 AM EDT (1544 GMT)


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Saudi Arabia's highest religious body has condemned violence by Islamic militants and deemed helping terrorists "one of the greatest sins."

The statement from the Council of Senior Clerics came a day after Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 suspected militants and seized a large weapons cache in the southern Jazan province.

The government has cracked down heavily on Islamic militants since May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh killed 26 people, as well as the nine attackers. The bombings also touched off a public debate over whether the strict form of Islam preached in the kingdom fostered intolerance and extremism.

The Council of Senior Clerics said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency that participating in terrorist acts is "a dangerous criminal act ... punishable by Islamic law."

Terrorism, "is an act of sabotage, and an absolute aberration. (Those behind recent attacks and plots) shouldn't have been moved by corrupt statements and slogans that cause division and corrupt the nation," the statement said, adding that justifications for violence have "no religious grounds."

The council also urged Saudis to cooperate in ridding their society of violence and warned against "harboring or giving (terrorists) shelter, as it would be considered one of the greatest sins."

The Council of Senior Clerics has great influence over what is said in mosques, taught in schools and discussed in the media.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah said Thursday his kingdom is engaged in a "decisive battle" against violent extremists and warned that any Saudi who harbors terrorists will not be spared. His comments followed warnings by the United States and Britain of new terror threats in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure to crush networks that include al-Qaida, the terror group blamed for the Riyadh bombings and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi and al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was born in Saudi Arabia.


Saudi clerics condemn terrorists (http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/08/17/saudi.clerics.ap/)

Ross
01-05-2005, 11:17 PM
Highsea, I agree that there are currently more Muslims brainwashed by the extremists in their religion than followers of most other religions. Islam certainly doesn't have a monopoly on fundamentalist extremism, but unfortunately it is currently leading the way.

But that doesn't mean that Islam is evil (even though it may have a slight edge over the Bible in its barbaric teachings) or that most Muslims are fanatics. The same people, following the same Koran, if raised in more progressive countries would not be so vulnerable to the venom-filled teaching of the more extreme Imams. But in their current environments, many young males especially, end up being as brainwashed as participants in the Christian Crusades were 800 years ago.

In my view, the lack of democracy and laws protecting individual freedoms (like freedom of speech, of press, of religion, of education, freedom from discrimination, freedom from governmental corruption) in Arab countries has kept them from truly progressing. The lack of progressive constitutions and laws in these countries make them analogous to computers with bad or antiquated operating system. The backward rules of the system just won't allow progressive "programs" to grow or flourish no matter how much effort individuals put into it.


So I don't think the answer lies in attacking the Islamic religion or demonizing Arabs or Muslims. It lies in fighting against the conditions under which the more zealous and intolerant versions of it florish in regions held back by ignorance and tyranny and corruption and repression.

But I also think that just using persuasion and the pressure of public opinion to accomplish this change alone won't work when you have the more extreme fanatics in power. Unfortunately you sometimes have to use force to overthrow the Hitlers, Saddams, and Bin Laden's of the world.

Hopefully, a democracy ruled by laws that protect individual freedoms will someday take root in Iraq and it's neighboring countries. But it will likely be a very long and rocky road for them and us before they get there.

highsea
01-06-2005, 03:14 AM
Actually, I agree with what you say. I was not criticizing Islam as it could be, just the clerics who issue these supposedly moderate statements, and the way Islam is being practiced in the Arab world today. These statements are drenched with venom. Damning with faint praise. It only fuels the fire, because the [clerics] are not sincere, and it's obvious.

And no doubt that Christianity had it's dark period. But it was able to reform itself. Islam once had the kind of tolerance that Christianity now has, but for the most part, they have lost it.

The Arab leaders have made a pact with the devil, imo. They have satisfied themselves with turning over morality to the Imam's, while they concern themselves with affairs of State. So now they are in a situation where they can't separate religion from law. And the holiest country in all of Islam (KSA) is the most intolerant. Imagine what our country would be like if our laws were based on the Old Testament. That's Saudi Arabia today. And that's the center of Islam.

I know several Muslims, some living here or in Canada, and some living in Pakistan. The most intolerant ones I know are the younger ones living in the west. My friends living in Pakistan are very friendly, and while they don't really trust the US, they are pragmatic. But before Musharraf, they had a democracy, so they have had a taste, and it's one they fought for themselves. Their 1974 Constitution is sacred to them. The ones I know in the US and Canada are just full of hate. It makes no sense. They are sons of refugees, and never had a democracy of their own. Now they have it, and they hate us for it.

I did some work for a Morroccan a few years back, and not only did he stiff me for my work, but we went out to dinner one time and he was extremely abusive to the waitress. It really pissed me off.

I agree that the only thing we can do is to continue to promote freedom in the Arab world, and push for a peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But I fear things will get worse before they get better.

Anyway, it's getting late, and I am not being very coherent with my thoughts. Sorry if this sounds disjointed.

-CM

cheesemouse
01-06-2005, 08:28 AM
This subject, in my mind, is a slippery slop. Ross mentions our individual freedoms listed in the constitution. In this case the freedom of religion and its separation from government. I think when we view the goings on in other parts of the world we should take note that in most other countrys, no matter the form of government, they mix religion with governance. The mixture of religion and government seems to always result in a confusion, discrimination and distrustful suspision of the citizinery. Given that this is true, we, as Americans, should continue to reject any religious groups attempt to insert their religious views into our form of government.....

Gayle in MD
01-09-2005, 11:48 AM
Bravo Cheese,
Unfortunately, War and Organized Religeon, seem to have a long historical partnership. The Evangelists in this country, such as Jerry Falwell, are totally out of hand IMO. There seems to be a much more pronounced religeous presence in our political arena of late. Then again, never before have we had a president who intentionally used his religeous philosphy as a platform in his campaign, and targeted a particular religeous group nation wide, Evangelicals, to mobilize for his election and re-election.

In the past, presidents treated their religeous beliefs as personal and separate from their political campaigns and policies. Kennedy even suggested that we not to allow his religeous affiliation to affect our votes one way or the other. This, IMO, is what our country should be about.

Religeon should not be part of our political dialogue. It should be treated as a personal and private matter.

I think it is very dangerous, and also very fragmenting, socially and politically, when we begin to integrate religeous doctrine into our political decisions, and also that this very practice is one of the reasons why our country is so polarized by this president, who has, IMO, crossed that delicate line, Separation Of Church and State.

Gayle in Md.