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Friday, November 27, 2015

John Eibner on the Future of Syria

John Eibner, director of Christian Solidarity International and anti-slavery activist, shares his wisdom on the future of Syria on The Tablet blogs, including reflections on the collective desire of the West, Turkey and Gulf States to establish a Sunni Salafist state in Syria as a bulwark against Iranian power. 

This failed policy let the Sunni jihadi genie out of its bottle in Syria to create the ‘opposition’, which led to the creation of the Islamic State and disintegration of Syria and Iraq. The only rational solution, Eibner argues, is a return to a policy of supporting a secular state.

However the more likely outcome is a long and cruel proxy war which only finishes when the fighting-age manpower of Syria is exhausted – i.e. when a generation of young men has been killed or fled the region.

Along the way there are serious risks that tensions will escalate between the external powers whose proxy war this is. e.g. Iran vs the Gulf States, or Russian vs. Turkey (as we have seen this past week with the downing of a Russian Jet by Turkey).

This is what the post-American Middle East looks like.

Paris attacks: Islamic State sees its attacks as sacred strategy

This was published in the Australian Inquirer. It is a more general version of a longer article posted a few days previously on Lapido Media ‘Paris attacks were not nihilism’.

As the expressions of shock and solidarity subside after the Paris killings, the challenge to understand will remain. Much commentary of the past week has situated these atrocities in opposition to values familiar to western people. Seen in this light the attacks appear senseless and even insane. US Secretary of State John Kerry called the killers ‘psychopathic monsters’. However the first step in understanding a cultural system alien to one’s own is to describe it in its own terms.

We can and must love our neighbour, as Walid Aly urged this week on The Project, but this need not prevent us from understanding our enemy, and to do this we need to grasp that this latest slaughter was shaped by religious beliefs.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Love alone is not enough

Waleed Aly is a well-known Australian media commentator.  This week on Channel Ten’s The Project he produced an impassioned and compelling speech about the Paris killings. This went viral, achieving 27 million views on social media within just a few days. That is more hits than there are people in Australia.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Paris attacks were not 'nihilism' but sacred strategy

LEADING commentator Janet Daley's article in Saturday's TelegraphThe West is at war with a death cult’ stands for everything that is woeful about European elites’ response to Islamic jihad.

It is a triumph of religious illiteracy.
Janet Daley has called ISIS a 'death cult'

The jihadist enemy, she asserts, is utterly unintelligible, so beyond encompassing in ‘coherent, systematic thought’ that no vocabulary can describe it: ‘This is just insanity’, she writes. Because the enemy is ‘hysterical’, lacking 'rational demands', 'negotiable limits,’ or ‘intelligible objectives’ Daley claims it is pointless to subject its actions to any form of historical, social or theological analysis, for no-one should attempt to ‘impose logic on behaviour that is pathological’.

Despite this, Daley then ventures to offer analysis of and explanations for ISIS’ actions, but in doing so she relies upon her own conceptual categories, not those of ISIS.

Her explanations therefore fall wide of the mark.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sex Slavery and the Islamic State

This article appears first in On Line Opinion.

Jamie Walker, Middle East correspondent for The Australian, asked two critical questions in a recent article which discussed the involvement of two Australian citizens, Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, in Islamic State sex slavery. In 2014 Elomar purchased sex slaves, of whom four, all Yazidis, later escaped to a refugee camp where the ABC caught up with them and interviewed them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Challenging Islam’s Warrant to Kill

This post was first published by FrontPage Magazine.

Last week the Islamic State’s ‘Hacking Division’ released the names and addresses of one hundred US military personnel.  It urged the ‘brothers residing in America’ – i.e. American Muslims – to ‘deal with’ them, which is to say, it wants them killed. 

There is much talk these days of radicalization and deradicalization. At the heart of both processes are religious ideas: theological dogmas.  What are some of the key theological principles which might cause a Muslim to take this call seriously? What is the Islamic reasoning given by the IS Hacking Division in support of its call to kill non-Muslims?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

‘A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross’

This post is a analytical explanation of a film produced by Al-Hayat Media of the Islamic State,  which portrays the ritual slaughter of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, in the film “A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross”.  Words in blue are from the film, either in the form of titles or sub-titles, or as narration.  Text in red is for the words of Muhammad or the Qur’an.  This is Part 2 of a pair of posts about this film.  Part 1 is Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State.  This post has also appeared on Lapido Media.

Bearing the cross: a letter to the Islamic State

This is the first of a two-part post on the 21 Egyptian martyrs killed in Libya.  This first part is a reflection, as a Christian, on aspects of this event and reactions to it.  The second part, ‘A message signed with blood to the Nation of the Cross’ consists of explanatory notes on the texts – spoken and written – which were part of the Islamic State’s film of their ritual beheadings.  This post has also appeared on Lapido media, and Quadrant Online.

The Islamic State sent me a letter this week. This letter was in the form of a short film produced by the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media centre.  This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere.  Its title was A Message Signed with BLOOD to the Nation of the Cross.  This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians.  Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the ‘signature’ at the end of the video.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

From Broken Hill to Martin Place: Individual Jihad Comes to Australia, 1915 to 2015

One hundred years ago today, a lethal jihad attack was staged against New Year’s Day picnickers in Broken Hill, Australia.  This attack and the recent Martin Place siege, events separated by almost exactly a century, show striking similarities.

For Australians, the anxious question about the Martin Place attack, which has grabbed the attention of everyone, is whether this atrocity is but a harbinger of a further series of deadly attacks on Australian soil, or whether it will pass into memory as an exceptional one-off event, much as the 1915 New Year’s Day massacre in Broken Hill did.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Announcing SISTER RELIGONS? - Interviews with Mark Durie and others

Sister Religions? a series of extended interviews with Mark Durie and others has been published in DVD form by Hatikvah Films.  It is available on Amazon (US) and direct from Hatikvah in the UK.

Sister Religions features groundbreaking interviews with Mark Durie, Elizabeth Kendal and Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.

As a battle of ideologies rages across the Middle East, many people are asking the questions: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? Are Judaism, Christianity and Islam Sister Religions? Simple questions or maybe not...

You have three choices. Which will you choose?