Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Open Letter in Response to a Statement by Kofi Annan

A recent speech by the Secretary General of the U.N. was found on an official site.
I have reproduced it here, and inserted footnotes at several critical points. My responses to those points are contained in an enumerated list immediately below the Secretary's statement. Each footnote is hyperlinked to its response.


Your Highness, [Abdallah al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar]

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First let me thank Your Highness for hosting this meeting and providing an environment conducive to its very important task

I am very grateful to you all for being here today.

When we set up the Alliance of Civilizations last year, we said that it was “intended to respond to the need for a committed effort by the international community – both at the institutional and civil society levels – to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions and polarization”. We should all be grateful to the Prime Ministers of Spain and Turkey for being prescient in anticipating a vital issue in today's world.

We also said that the Alliance would “aim to address emerging threats emanating from hostile perceptions that foment violence”; and we specifically mentioned “the sense of a widening gap and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western societies”.

The passions aroused by the recent publication of insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and the reaction to it, show only too clearly that such threats are real, and that the need for a committed effort by
the international community is acute.

Of course, the Alliance was not launched to deal with immediate crises like this. But the intensity of feeling that we have witnessed in the last few weeks comes from a deep reservoir of mistrust and resentment,
which was there long before the offensive cartoons were first printed. In fact, this present crisis can be considered an expression of a much deeper and longer-standing crisis, which is precisely the one that the
Alliance was intended to address.

At the heart of this crisis is a trend towards extremism in many societies.1 We should beware of overemphasizing
it, because extremism in one group is almost always fed by the perception of extremism in another group.2
Few people think of themselves as extremists, but many can be pushed towards an extreme point of view, almost without noticing it, when they feel that the behavior or language of others is extreme.3

So let us always remember that those who shout loudest, or act in the most provocative ways, are not necessarily typical of the group on whose behalf they claim to speak.4 I think one can safely say that most non-Muslims in western societies have no desire to offend the Muslim community, and that most Muslims, even when offended, do not believe that violence or destruction is the right way to react.5

Let us also remember that neither “Islamic” nor “Western” societies are homogeneous or monolithic.
In fact, there is a great deal of overlap between the two.

In past centuries one could speak of clearly distinct Islamic and Western (or Christian) civilizations, but many modern societies embody the heritage of both those civilizations, and many individuals today see no contradiction between their Muslim religion and their membership of Western societies.6

In truth, the present conflicts and misunderstandings probably have more to do with proximity than with distance. The offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were first published in a European country which has recently acquired a significant Muslim population, and is not yet sure how to adjust to it.7
And some of the strongest reactions – perhaps especially the more violent ones – have been seen in Muslim countries where many people feel themselves the victims of excessive Western influence or interference.

Whether or not those who published the caricatures were deliberately seeking to provoke, there is no doubt that some of the violent reactions have encouraged extremist groups within European societies, whose agenda is to demonize Muslim immigrants, or even expel them.8

Similarly, the republication of the cartoons, and the support for them voiced by some leaders in Europe,9
have strengthened those in the Muslim world who see Europe, or the West as a whole, as irredeemably hostile
to Islam,10 and encourage Muslims always to see themselves as victims.

So mis perception feeds extremism, and extremism appears to validate mis perception.11 That is the vicious circle we have to break. That, as I see it, is the purpose of the Alliance.

It is important that we all realize that the problem is not with the faith12 but with a small group of the faithful
– the extremists who tend to abuse and misinterpret the faith to support their cause13, whether they derive it from the Koran, the Torah or the Gospel.14 We must not allow these extreme views to overshadow those of the majority and the mainstream.15 We must appeal to the majority to speak up and denounce those who disrespect values and principles of solidarity that are present in all great religions.16

If they fail to do so, the essential dialogue between cultures and societies will be reduced to an angry exchange between the fringes, with each side assuming that extremists speak for the other side as a whole17
and – in turn –allowing its own extremists to frame its response.

Yesterday we had a meeting of leaders from concerned international organizations – the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, as well as the United Nations – and the foreign ministers of some concerned countries – Spain, Turkey, and our hosts here in Qatar.

We all agreed that everyone is entitled to freedom of worship and freedom of opinion and expression, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But we also agreed that these rights carry with them an inherent responsibility, and should not be used to degrade, humiliate or insult any group or individual.18 On the contrary,
we should all exercise great sensitivity when dealing with symbols and traditions that are sacred to other people.19

We also agreed on the need for dialogue on these issues between people of different beliefs or traditions, and on the need to work together to overcome intolerance and exclusivism.20

But we also realised that that is much easier said than done. We had to ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: how effective are our voices of moderation and reconciliation, when it comes to countering the
narratives of hatred and mistrust?21

The sad truth is that these narratives, however deceptive, can be very compelling. Incidents like a caricature of the Prophet, or a death threat to the artist who drew it, make far more impact on the popular imagination than pious statements issued by foreign ministers and secretaries-general.22

And this is where we look to you, the High-Level Group, for help. Lofty ideas alone are not enough. We need to develop a language that will carry them. We need to develop sobering, but equally compelling counter-narratives of our own.23 We need to engage in dialogue not only scholars, or diplomats or politicians, but also artists, entertainers, sports champions – people who command respect and attention right across society, and especially among young people, because it is very important to reach young people before their ideas and attitudes have
fully crystallised.

I very much hope that you can come up with specific, concrete suggestions for ways of carrying this dialogue forward so that it can really catch the popular imagination; so that we are not just a nice group of people agreeing with each other, but people with a message that can echo round the world.24

That message must say that free speech involves listening as well as talking.

It must tell people of all faiths that it is too late in our common history to go back to wars of religion,25
and urge them to ask themselves whether they want their children to grow up in a world of hate.

It must say – but in better, more compelling language than I can find – that diversity is a precious asset, not a threat.

It must be a divine message – heard not in the earthquake, nor in the fire, nor yet in the rushing mighty wind, but in the still, small voice of calm.26

Thank you very much.

  1. This vague expression: "trend towards extremism in many societies" is obviously designed to project guilt from the aggressors onto the intended victims Muslims are trying to intimidate. Are Danes, Norwegians, Englishmen or Dutchmen filling the streets with thousands of cursing Christians chanting "Death to Islam"?
    Are they burning embassies, retail markets and vehicles? Exactly what 'extreme' actions are they taking? A
    few of them, and a growing number of Americans, are petitioning our governments for the preservation of our rights of free expression, which are threatened by the Islamic demands for censorship. A
    few are petitioning our governments for reasonable limits on Islamic immigration and for deportation of hate mongers. Which is 'extreme': placards demanding the death of cartoonists & promising repetitition of horrific mass casualty attacks or peaceful petitioning?

  2. I repeat: what 'extremism' are Western Europe & America engaged in? Does the publication of a dozen
    editorial cartoons, some of which depicted Muhammad as a terrorist, somehow constitute 'extremism'? Which of these is 'extreme': a cartoon depicting Muhammad as a terrorist, or a "great religion of peace" whose sacraments include perpetual conquest, genocide & terrorism and whose "Prophet" bragged
    about victory through terror?

  3. They hacked Danny Perl's head off with a dull knife. They slew hundreds of children in Beslan. So we "feel that the behaviour or language of others is extreme". By your definition, extortion, torture and genocide are not 'extreme', cartoons and petitions are 'extreme'. What dictionary areyou using?

  4. Those who chant "Death to America" & "Death to Israel" are "are not necessarily typical of the group on
    whose behalf they claim to speak". Who is? Who is qualified to speak for 'Allah's religion'? Could it be Muhammad? If not Muhammad, Allah's final messenger, then who? And what did Muhammad say? He said that he was "commanded to fight with men" until they submit. He said that Jihad would be performed
    from the first day of his Prophethood until Judgment day, which would not come until stones
    and trees
    would inform Muslims of the hiding places of the Jews they would seek to kill. He said "kill
    them whereveryou find them
    ". He said "Allahs curse be upon" Jews andChristians. He said that Islam was to be "made superior" over all other religions. He said that "fighting in Allah's cause" means "fighting to make his word superior".

  5. You can "safely say" that "most Muslims, even when offended, do not believe that violence or destruction is the right way to react"? How do you know "what most Muslims believe"? I know what they believe
    from what their "Prophet" told them to do, and what he did. Is it possible that "fight them" is a call to violent action? Is it possible that "they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers" refers to physical destruction? If "most Muslims" were peaceful & non violent, would they tolerate the actions of the Mujahideen? Why won't they turn over Osama bin Ladin and Ayman
    al-Zawahiri ? Why did HAMAS recently win 70% of the vote in "Palestine"? Why did the Muslim Brotherhood win a large number of votes in Egypt?

  6. 4:144.O you who believe! Take not for Auliyâ' (protectors or helpers or friends)
    disbelievers instead of believers. Do you wish to offer Allâh a manifest proof against yourselves?
    This would clearly prohibit a Muslim from submitting to government by Kuffar!!

  7. How should a society adjust to the formation of enclaves of inimical foreigners where gang rape of natives is a common occurrence and the police and rescue services fear to tread?

  8. 'Extremist' groups? Who? How many? Where are the riots? Where are the demonstrations?

  9. Which "leaders in Europe" have voiced support for the cartoons? Muslims are the victims? Who committed genocide against the Hindus? Who committed genocide against the Armenians? Who
    committed genocide against the Assyrians? Muslims are the victims?!! Muslims are victims because one Prime Minister spoke a few sentences in support of free expression?!! 57 Britons were slain and hundreds were injured by bombs in buses and subways; Muslims are the victims?!!

  10. The proponents of Islamic Jihad & terrorism perceive that they are disliked by their victims; their perception is enhanced by publication of cartoons which point out the fact that their 'Prophet' was a
    terrorist; so they riot, threaten mass casualty attacks and chant hateful slogans, confirming the fact that they are terrorists!!! And the cartoonist is to blame!!!

  11. Allah commanded Muslims to "fight with men until they" submit. Allah commanded Muslims to fight disbelievers until only Allah is worshiped. Allah commanded Muslims to fight Jews & Christians
    until they pay extortion and feel subdued. Allah said that he would "cast terror into the hearts"
    of disbelievers and commanded Muslims to smite their necks, fingers & toes. Muhammad bragged
    about being "made victorious by terror
    ". Muslims, carrying out Allah's commandments, blew 3000 Americans, 200 Spaniards, 300 Russians and 57 Britishers to smithereens and a cartoon, published after the fact is to blame!!! How many Muslims did the cartoonist shred with flying metal fragments??!!

  12. What did Allah sanctify? What did Muhammad exemplify? Conquest! Genocide!! Terror!!! NO PROBLEM?!?

  13. What the Hell is their cause? What was Allah's cause? Are they not obeying Allah?
    Are they not emulating Muhammad?

  14. Where in the Torah does YAHWEH command perpetual war against all gentiles? Where in the Gospels does Jesus Christ command conquest, genocide & terror; where is he on record exemplifying them??!

  15. If the Quran'ic commands to conquest, genocide & terror are not mainstream Islam, what is? How did Muhammad occupy the last decade of his life? Explain how his 86 wars, rape, pillage & plunder are not mainstream??

  16. On February 8 I appealed to the Moderate Muslim Majority to renounce Jihad & terrorism.
    I emailed links to the petition to CAIR, FMCAT, MPAC, ICNA and to several individual Islamic reformers. I promoted the petition in Islamic Paltalk chatrooms. None of the addressees have responded to my email. None of them endorsed the petition. Only three Muslims have signed the petition!

  17. Who speaks for Allah? Who is his messenger? ! What did he say? What did he do?

  18. I have the right to worship, or not, as I see fit. How does my exercise of that right "degrade, humiliate or insult any group or individual"? I choose to worship YAHWEH and accept the salvation offered by his son Yeshua. My choice offends Muhammad and Allah. Will I allow my freedom of conscience to be annulled by Islamic reaction to it? HELL NO!!! I reveal, vocally in person & verbally on the internet, the truth about Islamic doctrine and practice, which are the genesis of Islamic terror attacks. That revelation offends
    Muslims. Will I allow my freedom of expression to be annulled by Islamic reaction to it? HELL NO!!! By God, I stand on & maintain my first amendment rights and I will not relinquish them to any
    self-appointed authority, whether Islamic, local, state, federal or international!!! Each & every objector to my freedoms may go directly to Hell!!!

  19. Lets examine Muhammad's great sensitivity to Christian deity & symbols: Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept
    charitable gifts. 9:30. And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allâh, and the Christians say: Messiah
    is the son of Allâh
    . That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allâh's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!

  20. "intolerance and exclusivism" are enshrined in the Qur'an, which can not be changed; how then shall we over come them?
  21. The Qur'an is the ultimate narrative of hatred. It is given and accepted as Allah's final and immutable will & testament. How doyou hope to counter Allah's word ?!
  22. Allah's damnable commandments and Muhammad's execrable conduct made a fatal impression
    on 3000 of my countrymen slightly more than four years ago. Your sanctimonious malignant malarkey only infuriates me.

  23. I have developed a counternarrattive: the Congress Debate Koran petition and the U.N. Investigate Koran petition, which point out the most egregious examples of Islamic evil and demand televised hearings into Islamic doctrine & practice with a view toward delegitimatization & outlawing of Islam. I
    urge everyone to sign those petitions and send links to your Congressman & Senators or Member of Parliament and everyone in your address book.

  24. Your message is false: a malicious and malignant projection of the guilt of the aggressor onto his innocent victims.

  25. How can Islam go back to a practice it has never terminated? Muhammad declared that Jihad
    would continue
    until Judgment Day!

  26. If I had children, I would want them to live in a world free of hate and war; a world free of Islam!
    While Islam exists, peace is impossible!!

8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone [in the whole of the world ]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allâh), then certainly, Allâh is All-Seer of what they do.

9:29. Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the
religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

8:67. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (foryou) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise .
3:151. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allâh, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zâlimûn (polytheists andwrong­doers) .

8:12.(Remember) when your Lord inspired the angels, "Verily, I am with you,
so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the
hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks,
and smite over all their fingers and toes."

33:26. And those of the people of the Scripture who backed them (the disbelievers) Allâh brought them down from their forts and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) a group (of them) you killed,
and a group (of them) you made captives.

33:27. And He caused you to inherit their lands, and their houses, and their riches, and a land which you had not trodden (before). AndAllâh is Able to do all things.

59:2. He it is Who drove out the disbelievers among the people of the Scripture (i.e. the Jews of the tribe of Banî An-Nadîr) from their homes at the first gathering. You did not think that they would
get out. And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allâh! But Allâh's (Torment) reached them from a place whereof they expected it not, and He cast terror into their
hearts, so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. Then take admonition, O you with eyes (to see).

Sahih Bukhari

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220:

Narrated Abu Huraira:


Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing
the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast
in the hearts of the enemy), and while I was sleeping, the keys of the
treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand." Abu
Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people,
are bringing out those treasures (i.e. the Prophet did not benefit by

Abu Dawud Book 14, Number 2635:
Narrated Anas ibn Malik:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: I am commanded to fight with men
till they testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is
His servant and His Apostle, face our qiblah (direction of prayer), eat
what we slaughter, and pray like us. When they do that, their life and
property are unlawful for us except what is due to them. They will have
the same rights as the Muslims have, and have the same responsibilities
as the Muslims have.

Abu Dawud Book 14, Number 2526:

Narrated Anas ibn Malik:

The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of
faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god
but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits,
and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad
will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet
until the day the last member of my community will fight with the
Dajjal (Antichrist). The tyranny of any tyrant and the justice of any
just (ruler) will not invalidate it. One must have faith in Divine

Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight
with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will
say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

4:91. You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from
their people. Every time they are sent back to temptation, they yield
thereto. If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace, nor
restrain their hands, take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you
find them. In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant
against them.

9:30. And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allâh, and the
Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allâh. That is a saying
from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old.
Allâh's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the

9:33. It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad ) with guidance and the
religion of truth (Islâm), to make it superior over all
religions even though the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans,
idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) hate (it).

Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book
59, Number 598:

Narrated Majashi:

I took my brother to the Prophet after the Conquest (of Mecca) and
said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have come to you with my brother so that
you may take a pledge of allegiance from him for migration." The
Prophet said, The people of migration (i.e. those who migrated to
Medina before the Conquest) enjoyed the privileges of migration (i.e.
there is no need for migration anymore)." I said to the Prophet, "For
what will you take his pledge of allegiance?" The Prophet said, "I will
take his pledge of allegiance for Islam, Belief, and for Jihad (i.e.
fighting in Allah's Cause)"

Sahih Bukhari Volume
1, Book 3, Number 125:

Narrated Abu Musa:

A man came to the Prophet and asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What kind of
fighting is in Allah's cause? (I ask this), for some of us fight
because of being enraged and angry and some for the sake of his pride
and haughtiness." The Prophet raised his head (as the questioner was
standing) and said, "He who fights so that Allah's Word (Islam) should
be superior, then he fights in Allah's cause."

98:6. Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islâm, the
Qur'ân and Prophet Muhammad ()) from among the people of the
Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikûn will abide
in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.

3:85. And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be
accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.

10:64. For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world (i.e. righteous
dream seen by the person himself or shown to others), and in the
Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allâh, this
is indeed the supreme success.

Halloween History

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