On jihadi extremists, their goals and methods

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“ So it’s no surprise that both parties talk about security. However, the term itself is open to debate. People will point out that cows, clothes and cars kill more people every year than terrorism. Some say the threat we face from jihadi terrorism is unprecedented, while others say that, in historical terms, Europe is in a period of relative peace and that the larger dangers are from our own governments grabbing power in the wake of tragedy. Who’s right? Well … it’s complicated. Security expert Bruce Schneier describes security as both a reality and a feeling. The real risks of your children being the victims of a terror attack are low, but the odds don’t matter when it’s happening live on the news. Certainly, the raw number of attacks were higher in the 70s and 80s. That may be contributing to a greater sense of threat: if our baseline expectation of violence is minimal, attacks have more impact than if they are more regular (…) Westerners and Muslims, of course, are groups of significant overlap. They are not in opposition, but extremists on both sides want them to be. Professor Matthew Feldman, an expert in extremism at Teesside University, explains that an often overlooked impact of extremist activities is that they make the broader community feel forced to pick a side. Seen through this lens, the rush to demand that Muslims condemn the violence, setting up new loyalty tests for ordinary Muslim citizens, reinforces the Isis/English Defence League narrative that Islam cannot be accommodated within European culture (…) The Manchester bomber and the London Bridge attackers were atypical in historical terms but match a recent pattern of Isis terrorists. They weren’t religious extremists who became radicals, but radicals who became religious extremists. Isis is targeting young men who are already angry, disillusioned and rootless, and giving them a focus for that anger ”

Phil McDuff, ‘It’s complex: why the us-and-them approach to extremism won’t work’, The Guardian

On far-right Breivikism

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“ While the far right has always been obsessed with Jewish people, today’s far right is fixated too with Muslims and Islam. After three Islamist terrorist attacks in just a few weeks, some believe that Muslims as a whole are a fifth column, an internal menace to western civilisation. And that’s what leads on to what you could call ‘Breivikism’. In 2011, the Norwegian fascist terrorist Anders Breivik launched an Islamophobic attack that did not target Muslims. Instead, he targeted young socialists, whom he believed were traitors responsible for mass immigration, multiculturalism and the Islamisation of Europe. According to this worldview, the left is the enabler of Islam, and therefore just as culpable for the destruction of the west ”

Owen Jones, ‘Far-right extremists are cornered and dangerous. They must be challenged’, The Guardian

On the distribution of political violent acts over the political spectrum

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“ The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that right-wing extremists have plotted at least 150 terrorist acts in the United States over the last twenty-five years, killing or injuring more than eight hundred people. An earlier ADL report found right-wing extremists were responsible for 74 percent of the 372 people killed in domestic terror attacks between 2007 and 2016 (…) Conservatives — and, it now appears, the mainstream press — love to complain about the ‘intolerant Left.’ But only one side of the political spectrum has been engaged in consistent, sustained, politically motivated violence for the last two decades ”

Branko Marcetic, ‘Whose Violence?’, Jacobin Magazine

On how Muslims can offer the world their best qualities

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“ My existential crisis as a Muslim man haunts me to the core of my being. Amid the horrendous nihilism of Isis, the dull orthodoxy of self-proclaimed custodians of Islam and the culture of fear in the west which sees everything Muslim as pure evil, I seek an answer to a simple and unasked question: how does it feel to be Muslim today? Instead, you ask me to denounce – even apologize for – the horrors of Manchester, Nice, Orlando, Paris and Berlin, as if I were a silent accomplice cheering softly behind the garb of my faith. You mistake my silence for duplicity, my shock for deceit, and my choking inability to comprehend for disloyalty. But have you asked me how I feel instead of how you feel about me? (…) How can we reconcile the anarchic savagery of our worst Muslims today with the humanist generosity of our best Muslims of yesterday? What have we to offer the world today? (…) My aim here is not to disparage a civilization, but to diagnose its current malaise, one that inflicts Muslims today and prevents them from thinking themselves into the world, not because they are incapable of doing it, but because of a coordinated campaign to deny them the right to do it. Like many Muslims, I feel the weight of this tension everyday because the distance between our religious leaders and the world in which we live is a gaping hole. The biggest orchestrator of this campaign is not Isis. That is only one of its sad manifestations. It is Saudi Arabia and its rampant Wahhabi religiosity which cripples everything Muslim today. Its literalist theology is suffocating and has no place in the modern world. How can we tolerate a religious system which still flogs its people in public squares, denies its women basic rights like driving and looking out windows and criminalizes any form of dissent? Weighty words fit for a colossal peril that is Saudi Arabia ”

Nabil Echchaibi, ‘Muslims today face a deep malaise. We must confront it’, The Guardian

 

On the causes of Qatar’s isolation

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“ The problem of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and all the others is precisely this: that by pursuing its national goals, Qatar has disturbed their plans. More than indirect support to terrorist groups […] Qatar has been isolated for supporting movements that threaten the stability of Sunni regimes and monarchies, such as Muslim Brotherhood or Shiite minorities, And for keeping in touch with the worst enemy of the Saudi-led front, that is, Iran. These are all things that should be remembered when we ask: does Qatar really support terrorism? ”

Translated from Italian.

Elena Zacchetti, ‘Does Qatar really support terrorism?’, Il Post

On Corbyn’s strengths and May’s weaknesses

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“ Despite so many years of protest, Corbyn’s greatest strength lies in proposition rather than in opposition: his gentle style is better suited to explaining his own vision than to contesting his opponent’s. The more exposure he receives, the better he looks – while the cameras expose May as charmless, cheerless and, above all, frit. She won’t stand up to anyone who wields power. She will say nothing against Donald Trump, even when he peddles blatant falsehoods in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in this nation, exploiting our grief to support his disgusting prejudices; even when he pulls out of the global agreement on climate change. She is even more sycophantic towards this revolting man than Tony Blair was to George W Bush. She won’t confront Saudi Arabia over terrorism or Yemen or anything else ”

George Monbiot, ‘I’ve never voted with hope before. Jeremy Corbyn has changed that’, The Guardian

On May’s response to terrorism

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“ The blowback theory, which blames Islamist terrorism directly on western expeditionary warfare, is both facile and irrelevant in this case. By bombing Libya we did not enrage or radicalise young Muslims such as Abedi: we simply gave them space to operate in (…) But it is the job of a government to do more than decry things. It has to deal with the mess created. And to do that, it has to ask a question May never bothered with: are cuts to the police and defence budgets sustainable in the context of the increased terror threat? May’s response, to the rooms full of police federation reps who did raise it, year after year, was to reject the premise of the question. Now, with the terror threat at critical, she has had to deploy troops to guard key installations ”

Paul Mason, ‘The Libya fallout shows how Theresa May has failed on terror’, The Guardian