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Arab Moderates


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Right here on this board, we see thread after thread after thread wherein passionate, interested people debate the machinations of and methods employed by their government in attempting to deal with the endless turmoil in the Middle East.

The hawks are certainly well represented, as are the doves, as are even the mostly silent majority populating the broad category between which, for convenience sake, we'll loosely term "moderates." Despite the inevitable occasional spat and literary excesses between individuals, the objective observer could well make the case that as a group, we are nothing if not generally representative of the whole. Introspective and self-critical of our nation and her standards on the one hand, passionate advocates of clear and decisive unilateral action in her interests on the other.

And, of course, those generally quiet voices in the middle that try to parse the gray stuff in between. :)

Right here on our streets, we watch the daily protests against the various manifestations of our nation's actions in dealing with the endless turmoil in the Mid East. The virulent antiwar, anti-involvement types take to the pavement with passion and sincerity. Their causes are vocally championed by luminaries and celebrities and politicians and the general citizenship. The staunch, hawkish supporters of current military involvements generally take to the streets in small numbers, but that is, arguably, more than made up for on talk radio and the op-ed pages. Their causes, too, are vocally championed by luminaries and celebrities and politicians and the general citizenship.

And, of course, there are those in the middle that quietly try to parse the gray stuff in between.

Don't worry, I am actually going somewhere with all this. ;)

At the end of the day, I think it's safe to say that "the West" has produced for itself – and passionately presents – a pretty damn good debating society; one that both represents and helps shape public opinion, and by extension, through the admittedly sloppy machinations of representative government, ultimately shapes the direction over time of the policies of its government.

Perhaps the problem that we here in the West have in truly understanding both the public opinion, and, by extension, the actions of the people and their governments in the Middle East, is that we simply aren't exposed to daily access to the debating societies framing and shaping them.

I'm thinking that, in this Information Age, it should be pretty easy to correct that.

Perhaps if those "in the know" about where we here in the West might find and read for ourselves the passionate debate in the Arab Middle East would point us in the right direction, we could better educate ourselves and understand the policies coming from that part of the world.

It's certainly easy enough to find the hawkish dialogue – that stuff seems to be everywhere. It's the virulent anti-war types, not to mention the generally quiet voices in the middle that try to parse the gray stuff in the middle, that frankly just don't seem to be filtering through.

Surely, at this time of upheaval, those voices are out there clamoring to be heard. Surely, there are at least some people in the streets passionately protesting their leaders' actions, and surely, their causes too are being vocally championed by luminaries and celebrities and politicians and the general citizenship. I think it's simply tragic that we've missed them.

So ... personally, I'd like to correct that and further my understanding.

Somebody point me in the right direction please.

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Om, I agree with your sentiment. I've said here, particularly with reference to Israel, that if the radicals continue to drive the process, there can be no peace. That's also true of Islam at large.

Islam is a religion whose doctrine seems more prone to violent interpretation than any other major religion I can think of. Indeed, I offered a challenge a while back for anyone to name a country/nation/region in history that had become predominantly Muslim through peaceful means - there were no takers and I for one can think of no examples.

Mind you, I don't label Islam "violent" (all major religions have had wars fought and blood spilled in their name) so much as to point out that the hard-line language that can be found in the Koran, combined with the locally-controlled, almost entreprenurial way that the religion is run through local mullahs/clerics, lends itself to promotion of radical views and actions in the name of those views that are not answerable to a higher authority in the same way that they would be were one dealing with a more centrally organized organization, e.g. the Catholic church. If the populace around a mosque is for example virulently anti-Israel, how could the local cleric dare to preach a more moderate stance without perhaps even putting himself in danger of physical harm?

Perhaps it is understandable that local mosques mirror the surrounding peoples' world views. What is most alarming and disheartening to me, however, is the lack of criticism from elsewhere in Islam, from the more moderate settings. I expect the Shiites and Wahabbist Muslims to preach violence and hatred; but there are many, many more who allow themselves to be represented to the world at large by these radicals without so much as a peep of clarification, much less protest.

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Indeed, I offered a challenge a while back for anyone to name a country/nation/region in history that had become predominantly Muslim through peaceful means - there were no takers and I for one can think of no examples.

Didn't someone point out the same thing about most religions...christianity being one of them?

I would subject that every (or at least all that I can think of off of the top of my head) creation of a country has seen a religious backing of it with violence attached.

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TEG- I agree with you that there has been violence among religios factions the world over. That's not what I'm referring to.

I'm asking about religious conquest.

I don't believe, for example that Italy, France, or the British Isles for example were conquered in the name of Christianity. The Romans conquered them as building blocks for their empire in the centuries before the Roman Emporer Constantine converted to Christianity. The empire converted with him.

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Originally posted by redman

Islam is a religion whose doctrine seems more prone to violent interpretation than any other major religion I can think of.

Hmmm.... Christianity? Judaism?

There have hardly been any periods in history when wars were not being fought under various Christian or Jewish banners.

And Christianity arguably radicalized Islam with its brutal Crusades that achieved little but the mass slaughter of Muslims.

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Yes there have been many wars fought under the banner of Christianity. But how many are recent? Art pointed out that almost every upheaval in the world today involves Muslim extremists. Why is that?

Sure there are Christian extremists, even here in the US (Rudolph, McVeigh etc). The difference is our Govt hunts them down and takes them out. The muslim extremists in the middle east are rewarded and revered.

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Wars fought "under various Christian or Jewish banners"?

Got a list handy we can break down?

Oh ... an the last Crusade was, I believe, in the 13th century.

How about let's stipulate that vocally "moderate" voices back then were few and far between and try to wrangle this puppy back to modern times.

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You want a modern Christian based war?

Look no further than Northern Ireland - Protestants and Catholics have been fighting there forever now....then their are lunatic christian fringe groups like the KKK, the Order, the New World Order...etc...they are fighting a war aren't they?

BTW - there were/are a lot of christian references in Nazi propoganda... it was not uncommon to see Jews draining blood from Christians and reports of plans to kill off the German race in that propoganda...

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Shall we bother to point out that in Northern Ireland you have Christians battling Christians, making it rather a different animal than what is happening the Middle East, or is that too fine a distinction to try to make here?

Or that the KKK and the Order are fringe groups involved in what only a severely stretched interpretation of the word "war" would define as such; and oh yeah, that get prosecuted to the full extent of the law within the country they operate in when they act in support of said "war?"


So much for sounding out the Arab moderates.

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TEG, the factional violence in N. Ireland is happening between two groups of Christians, not between a Christian group and some other religion. Besides, that has as much or more to do with ethnic fighting between the English and Irish as it does with religion. As a result, that example doesn't apply.

As for the Crusades, those arose out of a time of trememdous dysfunction for Christianity, when the Church was frankly more of a political body with earthly aims than it was a religious body. Heck there was a fairly sizeable "nation" in existance then called "The Papal States", which is the precursor to today's Vatican. It's no coincidence that the era of the Crusades were followed shortly by the Reformation, which was the ultimate protest against the Church's excesses.

Again, I'm not bashing Islam nor am I here to excuse Christianity's sins; rather I am explaining how Islam's doctrine seems prone to just this sort of radical interpretation that we're seeing today.

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Would it then suffice to say that perhaps Islam is going through its dark period - much like Christianity did back during the Crusades?

I wonder what other religions thought of it back then - that it was a violent religion? Perhaps - who knows though.

Point well taken regarding N.Ireland and the fight between the same brand of religion...but I personally think it shows Chrisitianity isn't any less violent than Islam - innocents being blown up and all weekly in both extemes of the religion...

Arab moderates you ask - what about Sikhs? Are they classified as Arabs? Or are we only concerned with true Islamic moderates? I confess...is Sikhism a form of Islam?

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Originally posted by Om


Quick primer. :)

As to whether Islam is going through its dark period, TEG, I think it would be hard to argue otherwise. Which is why I posted a thread to hopefully discuss the dearth and/or need for moderate voices from within it to stand up be counted.

Thanks OM - have to read it at home since "Traditional Religions" websites are blocked at work...


Not much terror since the 1998 Good Friday treaty...

Looks like the Irish mafia is a concern though...

Organized Crime Threatens N.Ireland -Police

Wed Jun 11, 7:21 AM ET Add World - Reuters to My Yahoo!

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (Reuters) - Three decades of conflict in Northern Ireland have left a legacy of organized crime that threatens the province's transition to normality, British ministers said Wednesday.

The third annual threat assessment from the province's Organized Crime Task Force said 700 people were involved in gangsterism in the province of 1.6 million, with two-thirds of criminal networks linked to paramilitary groups.

"Organized crime is one of the gravest problems facing Northern Ireland," said Britain's chief minister in the province, Paul Murphy, at the launch of the document.

"I'm determined that the legacy of the troubles will not be a mafia culture of organized criminality...because Northern Ireland is making the transformation to a normal society, and organized crime must not be allowed to impede that progress."

Since the 1970s, Catholic republican paramilitary groups intent on ending British rule and Protestant loyalists dedicated to maintaining it have been heavily involved in organized crime, from robbery and racketeering to smuggling and counterfeiting.

Five years on from the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, which aimed to draw a line under 30 years of violence, paramilitary godfathers show no signs of dismantling their criminal empires.

"It is clear that, despite the continuing successes by law enforcement agencies over the past 12 months, there remains a worrying threat to our society from serious and organized crime," said Assistant Chief Constable Chris Albiston.

The Organized Crime Task Force was set up in September 2000 to co-ordinate the efforts of police, customs, tax authorities and government departments in tackling organized crime.

Its latest threat assessment says smuggling of tobacco, alcohol and fuel is the most widespread and lucrative activity, with criminals exploiting the border with the Irish Republic.

Customs officials estimate two-thirds of filling stations in the province sell some illicit fuel, with a third dealing predominantly in smuggled petrol and diesel.

Extortion "remains the cornerstone of fundraising among paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland," the task force document says, adding 65 percent of known cases cannot be pursued because the victim requests no police action.

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Damn, TEG, your bosses are even tougher than Uncle Sam. :)

Here's the text from the page I linked. I do recommend checking it out when you get the chance, though ... good site with some nice work comparing Sikhism to various religions.

Bottom line ... Sikhism is not part of Islam. It stands alone.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak [15th century] who shaped a new, unique and distinct religion during his lifetime. Under the stewardship of the Ten Gurus Sikhism was able to gather many followers from other religions. Although the Gurus were critical of other religions they very strongly believed in religious freedom. They also emphasized that the most important thing was not which faith one followed but the remembrance of God at all time and the leading of a decent and honourable life. Due to it's relatively young nature Sikhism is sometimes misunderstood to be only a reform movement or branch of older existing religions. This is certainly not the case, like all religions there are some similarities as well as differences.
Something I didn't know ... it ranks as the 5th most popular "organized" religion in the world (20 million or so Taoists, apparently, lack sufficient organization ;) ).

Source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0904108.html

1. Christianity 1.9 billion

2. Islam1.1 billion

3. Hinduism 781 million

4. Buddhism 324 million

5. Sikhism 19 million

6. Judaism 14 million

7. Baha'ism 6.1 million

8. Confucianism 5.3 million

9. Jainism 4.9 million

10. Shintoism 2.8 million

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