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Monday, October 13, 2014

You are warmly invited to attend an upcoming seminar in Melbourne on “Israel, Islam and the Church”.  Jointly sponsored by the Institute for Spiritual Awareness and Christians for Israel, this seminar explores crucial issues facing Christians as they seek to understand the place  of Israel and Islam in the world today. 

Where:  Camberwell Grammar School, Performing Arts Centre Auditorium
              55 Mont Albert Road, Camberwell, Canterbury.
When:  Sunday November 9, 1.30 - 5.30 pm.
Speakers:  Mark Durie, Andrew Tucker and Julie Blinco
To register phone (03) 9532 8129 or email events@c4israel.com.au

Download a flyer here.

For those who cannot make it to Melbourne on November 9 (!) - we will miss you!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jihadi Islam: a further response to John Azumah

By Mark Durie


This is an edited version of an article posted by Fulcrum.

John Azumah has taken yet another bite of the apple by releasing a third response to my Lapido Media article “‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial”. This is an earlier response, now re-issued, in edited form, with Fulcrum (for his previous comments, both reported on Lapido Media, see here and here).

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fear and the rhetoric of 'unprecedented' barbarity

By Mark Durie

Many leaders have been stating that the Islamic State’s actions are ‘unprecedented’, ‘extreme’, ‘unique’, or even ‘eccentric’.  Western leaders who are intervening in the Syria-Iraq conflict justify their actions by declaring the Islamic State to be uniquely evil.  In announcing military action and increased security measures, Australian Prime Ministry Tony Abbott said of the Islamic State that “To do such evil — and to revel in doing such evil — is simply unprecedented”. David Cameron stated that “ISIL is a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before.”  Barack Obama claimed “these terrorists are unique in their brutality.”

Muslims Need Truth and Love

By Mark Durie

This article first appeared in Eternity Magazine.

The past few weeks have been hard ones for Australians, not least for Australian Muslims. Various alleged plots by Islamic State supporters to slaughter Australians has Islam in the news. Even as I write, five out of ten of the “most popular” articles on The Australian’s website are about Islamic jihad and national security.

What are ordinary Australians to make of conspiracy theories aired by Muslims on the ABC’s Q&A program, implying that recent police raids were staged as a cynical act to manipulate public opinion?  Are Muslims being unfairly victimized by all these security measures?

How are we to evaluate Senator Jacqui Lambie’s claim that sharia law “obviously involves terrorism”?  Or the Prime Minister’s decision to mobilise Australia troops against the Islamic State? 

What about the Islamic State’s grandiose claim that “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.”  Or Mr Abott’s declaration that the balance between freedom and security needs to be adjusted in favour of greater security and less freedom? 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Complexity, Truth and the Islamic State: a Response to John Azumah and Colin Chapman

Recently Lapido Media published an article of mine entitled ‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial: How dissimulation about Islam is fuelling genocide in the Middle East.  In it I argued that Western theological illiteracy, made worse by demonstrably false statements put out by scholars, has weakened leaders’ and governments’ capacity to manage the risks associated with Islamist radicalism.  Because of this illiteracy Western leaders have had great difficulty grasping the implications of the global Islamic revival, especially its impact upon religious minorities.

I referred to three Christian scholars whose writings are examples of this problem: Miroslav Volf, Colin Chapman and John Esposito.  

Colin Chapman and John Azumah have responded to my article (see here, here, and also here), to which I am responding in my turn with this article.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Christians are 'asking' to pay jizya: reflections on the Islamic State

An important documentary by VICE News has been published which uses extensive footage gained by a journalist embedded with Islamic State forces.  The youtube video linked here is set to start at 29m 58s, just before a section in which it is declared that Christians had asked for a dhimma pact, requesting to pay jizya.



(The link for the youtube video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUjHb4C7b94)

There are many noteworthy things about this documentary.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

‘Three Choices’ and the bitter harvest of denial: How dissimulation about Islam is fueling genocide in the Middle East

By Mark Durie

Published first by Lapido Media: see here.
Republished by permission.
Also see summary and comment by Jenny Taylor here.

In northern Iraq religious genocide is reaching end-game stage.  Islamic State (IS) soldiers, reinforced with military equipment originally supplied by the US, are driving back Kurdish defenders who had been protecting Christians and other religious minorities.  While hundreds of thousands of refugees have been fleeing into Kurdistan, around 40,000 Yazidis and some Christians are trapped on Mount Sinjar, surrounded by IS jihadis.  (Yazidis are Kurdish people whose pre-Christian faith derives from ancient Iranian religious traditions, with overlays and influences from other religions.)

The Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq has reported that children and the elderly are dying of thirst on Sinjar.  Parents are throwing their children to their deaths off the mountain rather than see them die of thirst or be taken into slavery by IS.  

The IS jihadis are killing the men they capture.  In one recent incident 1500 men were executed in front of their wives and families.  In another incident 13 Yazidi men who refused to convert to Islam had their eyes plucked out, were doused with gasoline and burned alive.  When the men are killed, captured women and children are enslaved to be used for sex, deployed as human shields in battle zones, or sold to be used and abused as their new owners see fit.

The United States has ironically called for greater cooperation.  UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, urged ‘all parties to the conflict’ to allow access to UN relief agencies. She called on Iraqis to ‘come together’ so that Iraq will ‘get back on the path to a peaceful future’ and ‘prevent ISIL from obliterating Iraq’s vibrant diversity’.

Of course it is not ‘vibrant diversity’ which is being wiped out in Iraq, but men, women and children by their tens of thousands.  This is not about the failure of coexistence, and the problem is not ‘conflict’. This is not about people who have trouble getting on and who need to somehow make up and ‘come together’. It is about a well-articulated and well-documented theological worldview hell-bent on dominating ‘infidels’, if necessary wiping them off the face of the earth, in order to establish the power and grandeur of a radical vision of Islam.  


Monday, June 23, 2014

Update on The Koran and Child Marriage

In my last post I criticized  an article which had appeared in The Australian, It is the young flesh they want.  

 I challenged a paragraph in which an academic, Associate Professor Jennifer Burn was quoted as claiming that “The Koran does not support child marriage”.  However Associate Professor Burn asked the Australian to amend the article by removing this quote, as she had been misquoted: Anne Barrowclough, the journalist who wrote the article, had apparently not checked the quotation its alleged source. The Australian has made this correction. 

The original offending paragraph was:
“It is critical that the whole community is educated,” says Jennifer Burn of Anti-Slavery Australia. “The Koran does not support child marriage and the Grand Mufti of Australia says that consent is vital. But there are over 60 different traditions within the Muslim community, with different interpretations of the religious scriptures. We need the religious leaders to take the message into the communities, because they will listen to their leaders rather than us.”
The corrected paragraph is:
“It is critical that initiatives to address child marriage and forced marriage are developed in consultation with communities and with community leaders.”  
I have amended my previous post to inform readers about this correction.

I would also ask those who have reposted my earlier article to update their versions using the version at: http://markdurie.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-koran-and-child-marriage.html

=========

Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist, pastor of an Anglican church, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum, and director of the Institute for Spiritual Awareness. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Koran and Child Marriage

Today a report appeared in The Australian, a national daily newspaper, which discussed forced marriages in our nation.  There were many good points made in this article, which was entitled It is the young flesh they want. [This article has now been amended - see below: changes paragraphs are in blue.]

However the article reported, as if it were true, a completely false and easily disprovable statement about the Koran.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Boko Haram and the Dynamics of Denial: Islam is not the victim here

It is a common refrain of pious Muslims in the face of atrocities done by other Muslims in the name of Islam that Islam must not be shamed: whenever an atrocity potentially dishonors Islam, non-Muslims are asked to agree that ‘This is not Islamic’ so that the honor of Islam can be kept pristine. However the real issue is not what would be good or bad for Islam’s reputation.  … Islam is not the victim here. The pressing issue here is not to get people to think well of Islam, but how these girls can be rescued, and above all how Boko Haram’s murderous rampage is to be halted.

This article was first published by Front Page Magazine.