December News and Notes

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

by George Kane

Head shot of George, smiling in jacket and tie.

Thanksgiving, we all learned in school, was created as a national exercise in piety and acknowledgment of the beneficence of God. This year we awoke on Thanksgiving Day to news of acts of extreme evil which religious fanaticism has made so familiar. It began nearly three days of coordinated terrorist attacks in the Indian financial center of Mumbai that killed nearly 200 and injured nearly 300. At this writing, no group has claimed responsibility, but Indian and American intelligence sources blame Lashkar-i-Taiba, a Pakistani Islamist group. Concerning this group, Wikipedia reports: “The Lashkar’s agenda, as outlined in a pamphlet titled ‘Why are we waging jihad,’ includes the restoration of Islamic rule over all parts of South Asia, Russia and even China. Further, the outfit is based on a sort of Islamist fundamentalism preached by its mentor, the JuD. It seeks to bring about a union of all Muslim majority regions in countries that surround Pakistan.” While terrorist groups vary in their location and specific nationalistic ambitions, Islamic supremacy and Shariah law inspire religious fervor wherever Muslims take arms against secular governments.

The assault by Islam against secular government continues on the diplomatic front, too. I have previously reported on the Declaration on Combating Defamation of Religion, which the Organization of the Islamic Conference has been promoting in the United Nations Human Rights Council. Based on the Cairo Declaration, that declares Shariah law to be the source of all human rights, the Declaration on Combating Defamation of Religion proposes to criminalize blasphemy in all member nations. It will be coming to a vote in the General Assembly by the end of this year. We should credit lobbying by human rights organizations, including the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), for perhaps having an effect. For the first time, the vote in the Human Rights Council carried with fewer votes in favor than the total of votes against and abstentions. 

Of course, these are very different threats from Islam, one armed and the other diplomatic, but the incompatibility of that religion to human rights and secular government are fundamental to them both. The first front is fought by stateless, well-funded paramilitary cells, the latter by sophisticated officials of modern states. And there are more fronts. In Europe, Muslim immigrants have silenced critics of Islam with threats of violence. In predominantly Muslim nations, radical Imams have been able to rally their followers into deadly street riots in retaliation for any hint of insult.

Preserving secular government requires a coordinated effort on many fronts-military, diplomatic, police and in public opinion. An effective response demands an alliance of all of the nations that have suffered Jihadist attacks, and all of those with Muslim populations clamoring for Shariah law. Islam has emerged as an existential threat to secular government around the globe, so it cannot be defeated by the next American administration alone. The next administration must work cooperatively with other nations, a task made more difficult by the “if you’re not with us you are against us” policies of its predecessor.

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