Tag Archives: ISIS

Tom Holland on ISIS and others on the Yazidi 


Tom Holland’s “ISIS: The origins of violence” aired this week on channel 4. Through out the film Holland made clear how Muslims were outraged by the violence perpetuated by ISIS. That Koranic, Hadith and Sharia were interpretated in ways most would never dream as an ideal, let alone one to be envisaged in their lifetime. 

When it comes to ISIS, strategies to minimise their importance or any link between them and the Islamic faith are made. Mehdi Hasan described them as “a bunch of thugs” that must not be considered a state, Islamic or a military power in the region. This when they controlled territory the size of England. In the face of global terror attacks organised and inspired by ISIS, this was more than thugs that make you cross the road on a Saturday night. 

The beheadings and crucifixions of ISIS are designed to make us not only appalled and frightened by their savagery, but to remind us of a history closer to the lifetime of Mohammed. As Tom Holland mentions, ISIS justification is that what they do were either done by Mohammed or are justified by appeal to Islam. Whilst a theological context can be made to counter this modern interpretation, a far simpler one is that these were the tortures and punishment of the age when Islam originated. Hence the more shocking they are today.

A reminder of today: mobile video footage of the Paris attack, with people running for their lives as a pregnant woman hanged out of a window at the bataclan. The faces of Yazidi people in Lalish, facing a genocide because they are considered devil worshippers and thus ISIS intend to purge them from the land. For there is one God, and Mohammed is His Prophet. When fanaticism meets monotheism, horrors will terrorise the land as a howling wind blowing over the red soaked dunes. Such acts against a people must not be forgotten, and when being carried out the reasons for not ignored.

In a critique of Tom Holland’s documentary in the Middle East Monitor by Alastair Sloan, the Yazidi are missing. Holland is criticised as being a propagandist for ISIS. Yet I would describe people saying this more like ISIS propagandists:

“ISIS demanded jizya (tax for non-Muslims under an Islamic state) from the Yazidis, who refused to pay, and as a result, were forced to retreat to Mount Sinjar in western Mosul.”

The denial of genocide by Dilly Hussain in the Huffington Post above was called out by me at the time. Yet to ignore there is even an issue involving what ISIS want to do with the Yazidi – cultural genocide by forced conversion or genocide by mass extermination by ISIS – that needs telling and how such the Yazidi are looked at via Islam – as tax dodgers or devil worshippers? The silence is itself a propaganda coup for ISIS. When people refuse to call out genocide, there is a complicity in the actions of others that should make us nauseous. 

Where does Alastair Slogan views on the Yazidi place him? Twitter gives us a glimpse. 

No wonder the Yazidi are not mentioned in the review. It’s “Yazidi hyperbole … hugely exaggerated” used as a “ruse” by America. When you are downplaying the atrocities of ISIS, no wonder it’s Tom Holland you want to focus on.  

Mehdi Hasan though is mentioned in the above critical review, mentioning his view of how ISIS are not religiously observant nor theologically knowledgable. The thieves who have their hands cut off by ISIS would applaud such a sleight of hand if they could at missing the obvious. The reason for ISIS fighting is that they claim to have the right way of living the faith. Jihad comes first, after conquest comes their sharia and Islamic way of life. This you could hear them chanting in the documentary. 

The simplicity of calling Tom Holland an anti-Islamic ideologue for pointing this out does not bare scrutiny. If you are to call anyone who does not believe Mohammed is a prophet, or for believing that the Koran is a text composed by human mammals rather than the whisperingings of an angel, as being anti-Islam, then take a closer look at ISIS. For there is the divide that they wish all Muslims to make between themselves and non-Muslims. If you as a  Muslim do not feel about Islam as they do, you are an apostate. As the destroyed Shia mosque Holland visited bore out, and the graffiti marking where Sunni, Shia and Yazidi had once lived together in peace. 

The Battle for Ideas

Western colonialism was mentioned in the documentary via Napoleon and the bloody French Revolution. How an uprising against monarchy unleashed an imperialism to bring the enlightenment not just to Europe by force, but to Muslims via the invasion of Egypt to plunder its riches as Alexander the Great once did. Religion was meant to be the past, reason the future. Instead what we have seen played out over generations is a battle of ideas, which once had gullitones on the ground and now drones in the air, making their deadly point. Potentially we are all in the cross hairs thanks to the past and how it is reimagined today by all sides. 

Stature in history is measured by some as the height of a statue on a plinth, the western idea of a great man of history by how quickly people will defend what can only be described as savage. One day perhaps, instead of heroes standing on a pile of corpses to deliver their version of a better world, we might look to others as a model to follow. Yet too many are tied  to the idea of an apocalypse to solve humanities woes. One which some pray for, some kill for. 

We need something more than religion or the enlightenment. The drones in the sky and the crosses of ISIS on the ground, are not going to deliver that brave new world. Rather being sick at the destruction humanity is capable of delivering in the name of their vision, is what we need.  

The world is worth fighting for, and so the fight for what makes it a better world goes on. If history shows us anything, it really does matter who wins. 

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Global Day For Kobane

At the Secular Conference in London a few weeks ago a resolution was passed in solidarity with the people of Kobane.

Today marks a global show of solidarity and support.

Saturday 1 November, 2-5pm Trafalgar Square, London SW1. INFO

Global Day of Action in solidarity with the heroic Kurdish democrats who are spearheading the fight against ISIS fascism in the city of Kobane, north Syria.

Protests will take place in cities across the world this Saturday.

The London rally is organised by Peace in Kurdistan and the Kurdish People’s Assembly, with the support of the Kurdish Cultural Centre and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

The Kurdish defenders in Kobane need aid to defeat the ISIS terror.

SIGN the petition to urge the international community to airdrop supplies. [More on: Peter Tatchell Foundation]

My Huffington Post Article on ISIS and Clerical Fascism

Here are just a few tweets throughout the world of people showing solidarity with Kobane, and the need for humanity to unite against theocratic fascism.

If you see some more that should be included feel free to include a tweet link in comments (auto generates the tweet when you post).

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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The Sun: United Against IS (A Review)

Where The Sun front page, and editorial fail, my initial skepticism is reassured by Sara Khan who delivers on how to challenge extremists.

Right now Britain and about 60 countries are committed to undermining ISIS. Fascists that use religious nationalism to bring Sunni Muslims together under a caliphate. It includes flag waving, and demanding that all muslims of various sects unite.

With that in mind The Sun front page stood out:

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A right wing tabloid uses religious nationalism to bring all people of faith together as one nation. It includes a cut out flag (Page 3), and demanding that all people of faith unite.

Strength through unity. Unity through faith.

The blood runs cold, that the answer to fanatical religious nationalism is religious nationalism lite. That such an image concept, that has caused such misery in the world, might serve to combat extremism is insulting to those that think about it’s execution. Those of no faith appear to have nothing to say about fighting religious extremism, according to the blurb.

However, open the paper and a different story emerges. The editorial begins:

THE Sun today calls on Britain to unite against the murderers of Islamic State.

Whatever your faith — or if you have none — you can help crush the greatest evil of modern times.

The arrest of a suspected IS terror cell in the UK and the slaughter of aid worker Alan Henning show why we must stand together.

We must help snuff out the warped ideology of IS and stem the flow of Britons to its ranks.

Britain is a beacon of tolerance, a mainly Christian country that embraces all religions. IS seeks to destroy that unity by sowing the hatred that acts as its recruiting sergeant. We mustn’t let it happen.

Cheers for remembering us of no faith this time. But then the faux pas that we are mainly a Christian country. That does not bare scrutiny. A Christian Country destroying an Islamic State. That will make borderline radical Islamists stop in their tracks. Not.

We are mainly a no faith country, that embraces religious freedom for all including those of no faith. Equal citizenship is not a matter of religion, or your politics, or even whether you think we should be fighting this war or not. Here we celebrate freedom of speech, and freedom of expression.

The young woman on the front page could choose to wear the hijab. Under ISIS, the Niqab is mandatory with armed thugs demanding women keep their faces covered. The celebration in the UK is not our faith, but our ability to live voluntarily by our conscience in matters of belief. We may manifest our right to religious expression and identity. As equally, we may denounce religion. Free speech – it lets you speak out against hate.

Thank goodness for Sarah Khan, director of Inspire, saving the day in the paper:

People of a non-Muslim faith can help in this fight against IS by stamping out hate as a whole. IS plays into the fears that some people have about the Muslim faith and burn the bridges within our society.

If we respond by promoting hate to each other we are letting them win. They want Muslims to feel marginalised so they will want to join their twisted cause.

We need to say we’re not going to allow you to destroy us and we say that by not tolerating hatred or violence to anyone.

The common theme here is to make a stand against any hatred or extremism. It’s not what it means to be British.

Exactly what this blog stands for.

The aim of #makingastand are worth supporting:

Through #makingastand we commit ourselves to rejecting terrorism and violence practised in the name of Islam. Together we will:

Challenge hatred and extremism wherever we find it.

Exert influence in our Mosques and communities.

Create local support networks and partner with statutory agencies.

Equip our communities with counter-narratives and help families identify the signs of radicalisation.

Spread the word with the use of the #makingastand campaign.

If you follow the link above you will see a familiar image. The blurb next to it this time brings out a positive image of challenging extermisim.

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Sara Khan and Inspire have been given a huge platform. Please help to support, and take action.

Ok I still hate The Sun, and considering it’s past headlines this may strike some as insincere. But Iram Ramzan is right when she says the front page does grab your attention despite it’s flaws. The counter narrative just went public in the best selling tabloid newspaper against religious extremists and the far right.

That in itself is cause for some optimism, in the tabloids wobbled first steps on the issue.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Naomi Wolf Suggests ISIS Beheaded Victims and Families Part Of Conspiracy

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Absolutely astounded that someone could be so naive, crass and gullible.

Update: 4 October 2014

Naomi Wolf has posted after NYT reporter contacted her as above:

A commentator below self-identified as being the New York Times reporter covering the hostage crisis. This reporter asked me to take my post about asking for confirmation of the hostage story down, as this reporter said that keeping it up is “irresponsible” and not respectful to the pain of the families involved.
The reporter wrote that there has been a news blackout requested of media for the last two years and that the abductions were known for two years to news outlets, who were respecting the blackout. The reporter also said that it is common tor people in conflict areas to go from the military to nonprofit work.

So I have taken the post down pending more reporting of the questions, at which point I will include the new reporting and repost it with the new information included. I asked the reporter to contact me at info@naomiwolf.org, first so I can confirm this is indeed the New York Times reporter who is covering the hostage crisis, and second because, as I wrote back, we still have several unanswered questions we have been putting to the New York Times for some weeks about this story.

First: it is helpful for us to know that there was a news blackout, according to this commentator/reporter (I gather that was reported). But it raises more questions — if there was a news blackout that protected the hostages for the last two years, how are news outlets not endangering them by reporting so widely on the crisis now?

Second: I asked the reporter to help us understand some issues that we have not had solid answers from the New York Times about yet (or other outlets for that matter). One is: if we can assume the identity of the hostages is confirmed (and I would still want to know the reporter’s sources for being certain) — how does the New York Times know the video/s are real? These are two separate reportorial issues. I am not saying they are not — I am saying (as I have said for weeks) that the source of SITE is problematic, that it received half a million dollars in government funding in 2004, that it is a syndication service for media so we can’t seem to double-check the videos online (other people have not been able to find them) and that I was trained, as are all journalists, to have two independently confirmed sources for a news story. As far as I know there is only this one problematic source for most of the videos.

Third: the New York Times public editor told us they “verified the videos internally”. I would like for our readers and the Times’ readers to have more disclosure about this process. I am very familiar with the New York Times’ facility as a family member of mine worked there for many years. Unless this has changed recently, I am not aware that the Time has a video analysis facility. So we just want to understand the process of the Times “verifying the video internally.”

I guess fourth is — this is a public story now; the Times made the decision to run it big, as did every other news outlet. If reporters can ask questions — as they should — I really don’t see how it is irresponsible of citizens (or other reporters) to ask questions as well.
It is a terrible thing, a verified video of an assassination, of course. That should go without saying. But many stories the New York Times and other major outlets have run based on government assurances — including the Weapons of Mass Destruction story — seemed very solid at the time and one would have sounded disrespectful at the time to request confirmation of the reporting; but confirming important news stories is really what reporters are supposed to do.And citizens should be trained to do it too if democracy is to be strong and journalism as well.

The word you are looking for is sorry.

Massive hat tip to Frances Barber

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Correction – mistakenly wrote up as if Naomi Klein rather than Naomi Wolf few minutes ago. Whilst I am sure screen shots from tweets above made clear my error apologises to her and email subscribers. My thanks to those that instantly corrected me on twitter.  

Deleted that post. This is the same post bar that obvious correction.

Sorry folks.

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Alan Henning and Violence In The Name of God

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Alan Henning was moved to try and make a difference. He gave up Christmas with his family that he might take supplies to help people suffering in Syria. Yesterday it was reported that ISIS carried out their threat to execute him.

On Eid Mubarak they sacrificed a man that had dedicated himself to humanitarianism. He is not the first, nor it seems will he be the last. Militarily this is a tactic to reduce aid to besieged people. ISIS make great play that they can provide for people in their terroritry. How much easier to make cities fall to them, because aid agencies dare not operate?

That we are being taunted, manipulated and terrorised by ISIS is unmistakable. Their desire to have the international community turn on them to rally people to their cause is not the only thing. They want Muslims and non Muslims to turn on each other. The reason for a caliphate to be made stronger by us turning on the wrong people.

I will not let such evil people treat me like a puppet on a string. Yet when discussing such matters on twitter it was clear people wanted to say Islam was bad. Unlike Christianity. The Koran promoted violence against infidels. The bible does not.

Well …

We then have such articles like the review of Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong, book review: Neo-cons, prepare to get angry

The review in The Telegraph had this quote I mentioned in a tweet, which missed what Jesus is supposed to have said:

Related article: The Truth About Religion and Extremism

The problem is the reader taking from “their Book” the permission to do violence, slavery, and rape. While these verses remain, evil people will use them as stated, out of context or not in relation to other commandments and commentary, to carry out religious zealotry.

The Spanish Inquisition was religious. The belief that they were saving souls by consuming the flesh with fire, or purifying via torture was not a cover for psychopaths and sadists. They believed it. For the sufferings on earth were nothing compared to the eternal torment of everlasting hellfire. (I have not read Aaronovitch’s review but suspect he makes a similar point from his tweet).

Just as Karen Armstrong makes light of the religious aspect then, she and others are doing so with ISIS now. Some will be doing this to prevent the hatred and persecution they fear Muslims would suffer in the UK. Others that religion is always peaceful, and violence when committed has nothing to do with it. That it is a smokescreen for other motives.

A nuanced position recognises that the chicken or the egg debate to the scripture/violence link misses that both feed into each other in their own ways. Breaking the cycle matters more than blame games, apologetics, and false statements as I debunked above.

ISIS really do believe they are fulfilling a religious edict to create a caliphate and that their means are sanctioned by defensive Jihad. A counter narrative is useful, but do not for one second think they are insincere about this. They are in deadly earnest.

What helps is seeing the bigger picture. Religious extremism is on the rise. Together we have to tackle it. Let us start by being accurate about the problem.

Do not give in to terror. In memory of Alan Henning remember that compassion can also move humanity.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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ISIS and Fighting Clerical Fascism

The need to fight fascism and prevent genocide are as close to self evident truths as humanity might wish to invent. When both present themselves in the form of ISIS the question is how, rather than why, they must be destroyed.

Yet those siren voices are calling: the west must not get involved. Iraq and Afghanistan are painted as strategic failures. We need to point out not intervening in Syria gave the space and time for ISIS to emerge.

That non intervention made it too easy for Islamists to paint a narrative: the west were not getting involved because spilt Muslim blood means nothing compared to the flow of oil. Assad was slaughtering his people, even using Chemical weapons and air strikes on the civilian population.

You can imagine the videos, too disturbing for mainstream media, used to recruit people to fight back. The world community was found wanting. As too often it is when massacres and appalling suffering happen.

That was the draw – the reality is crucifying, beheading, and sexual slavery. Still, you get your rent paid, canned goods and free health care. Welcome to the theological fascist military outfit that is ISIS.

A military power that controls territory about the size of England, spread over two countries. Controlling sufficient oil supplies it can create an effective internal market to keep the finance coming. Let alone hard currency from oil smuggled out. Money on the side kidnapping.

Mehdi Hasan said we should not call them a military power – they don’t have a navy among other things (nothing gets past Mehdi). But “bunch of thugs” as he prefers really does not explain them. This is a death cult of well led fascist fanatics.

They have routed larger armies. Such is the terror and effective command structure brought in by previous military Baathists that were kicked out with the fall of Saddam. Deny people a stake in the new order, they have no allegiance.

The death squads roaming Iraq, and the sectarian violence presented the opportunity for ISIS to launch their attack on a disintegrating state. Coming as liberators, promising Islam as in the golden age. Dealing out justice to the foes of the faith, by The Book.

The secular Muslim heritage, the mysticism of Sufis, a spiritual Caliphate – they are forgotten on this rampage. Universal human rights are absent. This is total war as they enlarge their territory. Imposing clerical fascism. The Art of War with Jihad coupled with modern tactics. Announcing they were now a geographical Caliphate was a message.

A message for political Islamists that envisage a unified Islamic empire that can defend and promote one theological Islam to the world: we have done it join us. Even now, some ask if the territory can be kept intact with the defeat of ISIS.

Those siren voices again. To use the murder, pillaging and atrocities of ISIS for the realisation of an Islamic caliphate that might undo the old colonial powers. As if ISIS were an eraser for the lines that western imperialists drew on the map as they carved up territory.

So of course you will have the likes of Anjem Choudary belittling the carnage, and Dilly Hussain saying Yazidi were fleeing tax dodgers, and Mo Ansar saying this could give birth to a good Islamic state. Islamists hope that people will rally up against their incompetent and dictatorial rulers for an Arab Winter to freeze the whole of the Middle East and South Asia into a theological ice block of uniformity. Even some Islamists that are against ISIS hope a thaw sees a different set of theocrats in charge one day.

Political Islam has laid the ground work for a caliphate to be seen as a requirement for Muslims. The misrule by secular despots and incompetent clerics has made many buy into this vision.

How many have to die for theological hedgemony? As many as it takes. So the question then becomes why antagonise the US and UK by beheading their citizens?

The risk is ISIS want a final confrontation. A battle to end all battles. Set up the theological state, Allah is meant to be the Ace in the Hole. They believe Muslims will flock to their banner to finally rid the infidel once and for all. At last the unity of Muslim people, and the final victory of ISIS. The Caliphate remains.

We can and must denounce fascism in all it’s gory forms. Theological fascism should be no exception. Not only denouncing ISIS but the caliphate they wish to create. Too many people, Muslim and non Muslim, have died because of this nightmare.

People have to decide their own governments and way of living. That cannot be done while living under the shadow of a sword. Fascism always rises when a vacuum is created. You know it when you see it; totalitarianism, military conquest and complete obedience to the state. If the alternative is anarchy or a status quo that crushes them, people will flock to the banner.

Make no mistake. People like Russell Brand will say terrorist attacks increase if we drop bombs on Muslims, and we will keep having the same problem unless we leave well alone. Others will claim this is about war profits for the US military industrial complex. Those siren voices will say this is not our fight, we will make the situation worse. They will even try to tell you this is not about religion – no matter how many times ISIS say it is.

If all we do is drop bombs we will not defeat ISIS. The ideology of Islamism has to be shown for what it is. It needs to be challenged – a counter theological narrative so Secular Muslim heritage can reassert itself. Where we have failed is in challenging political Islam throughout the world. By our governments not standing up for the oppressed people in allied Muslim majority nations, we have lost the moral high ground.

Too often we went with what was expedient. Siding with bloody dictators. John Kerry is doing the same again with Egypt. We wonder why the Islamist narrative appeals to people when we ourselves shake the bloodied hands of mass murderers, while calling them a friend.

This is not going to be easy. There is no quick fix, and this is not the starting point we would wish. Muslims and non Muslims have to work together to defeat political Islamists. As a coalition is built to deal with ISIS, we need one that tackles theocrats, mad mullahs, and extremism.

If you care about human rights, sexual equality, democracy, pluralism, the separation of religion and state – it is time to saddle up for the battle of ideas. Do not let clerical fascists claim religion as a cover for their insidious actions in the public space.

Religious freedom must not be a gateway for a bunch of thugs to abuse.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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The World According To Dilly Hussain

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Mo Ansar can move over (as he retweets old media appearances in the hope someone forgets his tendency to report would be hosts to the police). There is someone else unpleasant gaining a media spotlight.

May I introduce the deputy editor of 5Pillarz, Huffington Post Blogger and according to a now deleted tweet soon to be working for The Independent newspaper. Dilly Hussain.

His first blog post for The Huffington involved the caliphate. ISIS was never mentioned, as he came up with such gems as:

Rather, it is documented in history that Caliphates were the most advanced states in the world and were in fact pioneers of modern states.

The term “Caliphs” and the subsequent statement of “fulfil allegiance to them one after the other” indicates that the governing structure post-prophethood is a Caliphate. The Prophet Muhammad is commanding Muslims to fulfil their allegiance to every Caliph.

Finally, in the study which Mehdi alluded to in his article, John L Esposito and Dalia Mogahead concluded that “Majorities in many countries remarked that they do not want religious leaders to hold direct legislative or political power”. This was based on 50,000 interviews with Muslims in more than 35 countries. To illustrate how convincing this statistic is I’d like to do some maths – 50,000 in a population of 1.6billion Muslims is 0.003125%, which carries as much weight as taking political advice from the Monster Raving Loony Party.

[The Huffington Post]

An article that at no point addresses whether ISIS as a self proclaimed Islamic State and caliphate deserves obedience. He dismisses Muslims as secularists. His inability to understand sampling and weighted polls is to promote that Muslims want religious rulers and that the Prophet Mohammed promotes a caliphate to rule only.

There is no mention of the other caliphate – the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. They do not raise banners on the streets protesting their persecution in self claimed Islamic States. Much less flags of conquest quoting the Koran, as ISIS do to bring fear into the hearts of all on their bloody genocidal rampage.

The conquest of the Ahmadiyya is the human heart – starting with their own. That by serving humanity they may show the teachings of Islam. It is a preferable way to try and win hearts and minds than a brutal fascist theocracy.

Dilly Hussain has this to say about the Ahmadiyya:

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He has a tendency to delete tweets, so I am grateful that people took screen shots. Another deleted one that demonstrates his world view:

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The old classic rebuke if you espouse liberal democratic secular views:

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Plus the added one if you are a woman:

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[More on this twitter exchange can be read here]

Still, he claims to be going places:

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Though as he deleted this tweet no idea if it is hush hush, or just the product of another fantasist who loves a platform. With dreams of everyone following Islam the same way, in an Islamic state.

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A platform for stating that the Yazidi were only up a mountain because “ISIS demanded jizya (tax for non-Muslims under an Islamic state) from the Yazidis, who refused to pay, and as a result, were forced to retreat to Mount Sinjar in western Mosul.”

Tax dodgers rather than fleeing for their life, with no supplies?

To also again make the “normative” claim regarding goal of Muslims should be a caliphate as a state with Sharia: “More recently, Muslims find themselves under pressure again due to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham’s (ISIS) declaration of a Caliphate. The concept and obligation to work for a unified and borderless Islamic polity, which rules by Shariah law is a mainstream belief in normative Islam whether you’re Sunni or Shia.”

Then to promote the idea of victim hood against an oppressor that destroyed Islamic civilisation – Britain: “Libraries are filled with books authored by historians and academics who described how Britain destroyed Islamic civilisation by military force, cultural infiltration and the infamous colonial strategy of ‘divide and rule’.”

That sense of colonial guilt is one reason the left give a platform to such people, rather than vigorously defend liberal secular values. Hopefully, The Independent will see this might not be the voice to raise above others.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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