Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
This video, published in February 2013, is a film of a debate held by the Cambridge Union on the proposition: “This House believes religion has no place in the twenty-first century”. (Organized religion only is meant.)
It is over an hour and a half long. Is it worth watching?
We think it’s worth hearing what Richard Dawkins has to say in support of the motion. And also for what another eloquent atheist says – Douglas Murray, who surprisingly opposes it, but for quite different reasons from those of the other two opponents. They are a pair of downright villains: the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who campaigned for sharia to be introduced into Britain; and his friend Tariq Ramadan of the Muslim Brotherhood. You’ll only get an earful of pious poppycock from each of them.
There is no argument over theology. No one mentions the wars of religion raging in the Middle East.
We came to one certain conclusion: religion may linger on a while yet, but Oh, it will be dull!
British banks, with enthusiastic encouragement from Prime Minister David Cameron, succumbed to the temptation to provide “sharia compliant” loans and generally cater to the demands of the enemy, Islam.
Now one bank, HSBC, has changed its corporate mind about dealing with at least some – perhaps the worst – of its Muslim clients.
This is from Gatestone by Sam Westrop. (Sam Westrop, Douglas Murray, and Melanie Phillips are the leading voices – among very few – who dare to speak out loud, clear, and often against the destructive encroachments of Islam on British law, institutions, and traditions.)
In late July, HSBC, a British multinational bank, closed the bank accounts of Anas Al-Tikriti, a prominent British Islamist activist, and his family. HSBC also closed down the bank accounts of the Cordoba Foundation, of which Tikriti is the Director, and the Finsbury Park Mosque.
In response to enquiries, the bank simply stated that to continue providing services would be outside the bank’s “risk appetite.”
This latest round of bank account closures has come as a surprise to counter-terrorism experts and much of the media, who note that the Cordoba Foundation and the Finsbury Park Mosque have enjoyed strong political support in the past.
Just a few weeks previously, HSBC also closed the accounts of the Ummah Welfare Trust, a leading British Islamist charity that has previously partnered with the Al Salah Islamic Association, described by the U.S. Treasury Department as “one of the largest and best-funded Hamas charitable organisations in the Palestinian territories.” Senior Hamas officials have confirmed that Al Salah is “identified with us”.
Anas Al-Tikriti, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, had his bank account, along with that of his wife and two children, shut down by HSBC. Tikriti has been described as “one of the shrewdest UK-based Brotherhood activists … [who] has sought to persuade Western governments that they should fund Brotherhood groups as moderate alternatives to al-Qaeda”.
Tikriti is also a vocal supporter of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, and he has regularly hosted a program on the Arab TV satellite station, Al-Hiwar, founded by Azzam Tamimi, Hamas’s “special envoy” to the UK. Tamimi, in 2004, told the BBC that he would become a suicide bomber if he “had the opportunity”, and described self-sacrifice for Palestine as “a noble cause”.
In an interview with the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Tikriti affirmed “the right of the Iraqis to engage in legitimate resistance against foreign occupation”. He also has stated that the decision by the Muslim Council of Britain to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day was a “principled stand”.
In response to HSBC’s closure of his bank account, Tikriti claimed that, “HSBC has targeted my family because of my activity in defence of Gaza against the barbaric aggression of the Zionists” and because of his efforts to “oppose the military coup in Egypt”.
While many would dispute Tikriti’s conclusions, his instincts might be right. The one thing that connects Tikriti with the Cordoba Foundation, the Finsbury Park Mosque and the Ummah Welfare Trust is evidence of their support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the designated terrorist group, Hamas.
The Cordoba Foundation, which Tikriti heads, has been described by Prime Minister David Cameron, as a “political front for the Muslim Brotherhood.” In 2009, Cordoba co-sponsored an event organized by Cageprisoners, a pro-jihadist group, which featured as a guest speaker Anwar Al-Awlaki, who later became a senior leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, before he was killed in a U.S. drone-strike in 2011.
The Cordoba Foundation also works closely with the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, whose website was originally registered to Tikriti’s wife, Malath Shakir, whose bank account was also shut down by HSBC. According to UAE media, the Emirates Centre for Human Rights is part of the global Muslim Brotherhood network.
For human rights! How they make a mockery of Western moral principles.
The most surprising organization to be shut out by HSBC, however, is the Finsbury Park Mosque. The loss of its bank accounts has sparked anger from leading British Muslims and sympathetic parliamentarians.
The Finsbury Park Mosque was once a much easier target for criticism. Ten years ago, the hook-handed Imam of the mosque, Abu Hamza – recently found guilty of eleven terrorism charges after a five-week trial in New York — was arrested on terrorism charges.
We didn’t hear much about that from the media in the US, did we?
After his arrest, however, the British government, eager to rid the Finsbury Park Mosque of its pro-terror reputation, passed control of the institution to the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), one of the better-known Muslim Brotherhood fronts in the UK, and one with which Anas Al-Tikriti was once closely involved. Tikriti’s lobbying efforts for the government to embrace Muslim Brotherhood groups as “moderate” alternatives to more overtly terrorist organizations appeared to have paid off.
The government seemed oblivious, perhaps wilfully so, that the MAB’s founder, Kemal Helbawi, has proclaimed:
Oh honoured brothers, the Palestinian cause is not a struggle on borders or on land only. Rather, it is an absolute clash of civilisations: a satanic programme led by the Jews and those who support them and a divine programme carried by Hamas and the Islamic Movement in particular and the Islamic peoples in general.
We call it a clash of civilization with barbarism.
To run the Finsbury Park Mosque, the MAB appointed directors such as Mohammed Sawalha, a Hamas official described by a Brotherhood website as being “responsible for the political unit of the international Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.” Sawalha is also “said to have masterminded much of Hamas’s political and military strategy” out of London, as reported by the BBC.
In addition, the current Imam of Finsbury Park Mosque, Sheikh Rajab Zaki, was a key speaker at rallies in support of Mohamed Morsi, the former Muslim Brotherhood President of Egypt.
Finsbury Park Mosque continues to promote the Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Jamal Badawi, who has described suicide bombers and Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “martyrs.” Badawi also advocatesthe right for men to beat their wives, if they show “disregard for [their] marital obligations.”
Badawi has also shared a platform with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and he is a director of the International Association of Muslim Scholars, which, in 2004, issued a fatwa authorizing the murder of American troops in Iraq. In addition, during the U.S. terror-financing trial of the Holy Land Foundation in 2007, Badawi was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Finsbury Park Mosque still enjoys strong support from the local Council and the Metropolitan Police, both of which have sponsored events at the mosque with the support of the World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi group that is a prolific publisher of anti-Jewish and anti-Shia material. WAMY is accused by a number of governments of funding terrorism.
Both the police and the local government body have provided several tens of thousands of pounds in grants to the mosque.
Likewise, the Ummah Welfare Trust has enjoyed the support of MPs; and the Cordoba Foundation has als0 received government funding through the Prevent scheme, a fund established by the previous Labour government to combat extremism.
Combat extremism by funding the extremists! What’s that if not insane?
As for Anas Al-Tikriti, in January 2014, he was invited by President Obama to the White House, as part of a delegation led by Iraqi politician Osama Al-Nujaifi, who leads the Mutahidoun bloc, a coalition of Iraqi political parties, the leading member body of which, according to Al Monitor, is the Islamic Party, the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The biggest question now about HSBC’s actions is “why?” Some observers have suggested that the HSBC’s decision in 2012 to hire Stuart Levey, the former under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, might have something to do with it. Others have suggested the possibility that the British government’s review into the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Prime Minister is due to hear during the summer recess, might be already having some effect.
On the face of it, it seems unlikely that the government would pressure HSBC to shut down Muslim Brotherhood bank accounts while allowing the British police to fund and sponsor Finsbury Park Mosque, one of the Brotherhood’s most important institutions.
But the coalition government, much like the Labour government that preceded it, seems always to have embraced a contradictory approach in its efforts to confront British Islamism. The present government, for instance, managed to declare the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation a “Hizb ut-Tahrir front” and at the same time provide it with £70,000 of taxpayer monies.
In addition, after the announcement of the Muslim Brotherhood review in March 2014, the Foreign Office revealed that its advisory group on “freedom of religion” was to include a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Tariq Ramadan, as a board member.
Tariq Ramadan it is worth noting, is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna.
Regardless of these apparent contradictions, HSBC’s decision to close down these bank accounts is welcome. For far too long, Muslim Brotherhood groups in Britain have escaped censure in spite of their promotion of extremism and their connections to terrorism. Even if the government is dithering, at least the private sector is acting.
Without letting ourselves become too optimistic, we venture to hope that this action by HSBC night start a trend.
We took this excellent though horrifying video from Front Page.
We feel the need to comment on only one thing. At the end, Bill Whittle says that Obama is “up against” the mass murderer Putin. But we doubt Obama sees Putin as an opponent. Obama was raised as a Communist. We think he is more likely to see Putin – even now – as an ideological ally than as an enemy.
Is the religious war in the Middle East likely to stay in the region or spread over the globe?
Secretary of State John Kerry, who now definitely proves himself to be even stupider than Vice President Joe Biden, has somehow pondered his way to the conclusion that what the Islamic State (IS) is doing in Iraq - waging war, cutting off heads and displaying them on poles, slicing children in half, raping and enslaving women and children or burying them alive, imposing all the cruelties of sharia law on the territory it controls across Iraq and Syria – is “unacceptable”. Like a proposition that doesn’t suit one’s plans.
But only to a degree. Though maybe a degree too far. He has announced … to whom? The American people? The world? His barber? … that whoever it is who hears him must “come to grips” with this degree. The degree, that is, to which an immense upsurge of savagery threatening to spread further through the Middle East and into the West including America, is “unacceptable”.
What he said exactly was this:
This is serious business. I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the degree to which this is unacceptable.
The Obama administration, however, will accept it. It will let the Muslim savages carry on with what they’re doing. They’ve conquered territory? Let them keep it.
The Washington Post reports:
Ongoing U.S. airstrikes are equally notable for what they have not tried to do. U.S. military officials have emphasized that the strikes are not designed to reverse the gains Sunni extremist fighters have made. …
The limited nature of the airstrikes has drawn criticism from more hawkish Republicans and some former U.S. military officials who have said that the Obama administration is squandering an opportunity to deliver a crippling blow against the insurgents.
“Time is of the essence,” said Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO … “The longer the airstrikes drag on, the more time Islamic State fighters will have to learn how to survive them. Without a fast and serious response, including Special Operations forces on the ground, the chances of reversing IS gains or even breaking their evident momentum is very low,” he said. …
The administration is apparently confident that -
U.S. spy agencies will be in position to detect when the organization crosses the threshold from regional problem to transnational terrorism threat. …
So it is actually taking that development into account. Not that it’s planning to do anything when it happens.
Most terrorism experts said the threat posed by the Islamic State is likely to increase as fighters with Western passports return home.
And one at least predicts that the US will have to eventually come to grips, not with “a degree of unacceptability”, but with IS itself.
“Bottom line: We are likely to have a confrontation with IS in the future … The threat will almost certainly grow.”
Yezidis are being enslaved and killed by faithful followers of Muhammad. Those who can, flee.
Imagine seeking refuge in the battlefield which is Syria! These people did, having nowhere else to go. Then they had to flee from Syria, and again having no choice, are returning to Iraq. Many die on the way.
Watch deeply religious Muslims of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS or ISIL) commit mass murder. They proudly recorded themselves doing this service for Allah.
There are a few, a very few, public voices in Britain that dare to say that Islam is the enemy of the West.
Even fewer who will say a good word for the small beleaguered state of Israel.
One of the few is Leo McKinstry. This is from a column of his in the Express:
Across the western world the Jewish state has been increasingly portrayed as brutal aggressor bent on the wholesale slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians.
The soaring death toll from the recent conflict, which [by the end of July] stood at more than 1,700 since the start of July [according to Hamas - ed], is widely seen as the responsibility of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Even mainstream British politicians have joined in this condemnation.
Always keen to jump on any passing bandwagon, Labour leader Ed Miliband called Israel’s incursion into Gaza “wrong and unjustifiable”.
Miliband is Jewish by descent but a Leftist, and Leftism trumps everything for the true believer.
Just as forthright was the former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown. Calling for peace talks, he described Israel’s approach as “very foolish” and “disproportionate”.But all this populist anti-Israeli posturing is dangerous. It shows not the slightest grasp of the reality of Islamist aggression in the Middle East and the depth of the challenge that Israel faces.
In practice denouncing the Jewish state means siding with the malevolent, murderous forces of jihadism, a stance that not only represents a complete inversion of morality but a suicidal disdain for the interests of western civilisation.
With their habitual self- righteousness Miliband and Ashdown claim that Israel is losing the propaganda war.
“Israel has lost the support and sympathy of the world,” said Ashdown yesterday, speaking in his self-appointed role as spokesman for the planet’s citizenry.
However, Israel is fighting a real war, not a propaganda war.
It is up against a fanatical enemy – the Hamas terror network, dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.
The idea, sedulously cultivated by western appeasers of radical Islam, that the Palestinian movement is innocent is absurd.
The present conflict was started by Hamas firing rockets at Israeli civilians and since the beginning of July more than 2,800 of these missiles have been launched.
Britain would not tolerate an aerial assault without striking back so why should Israel?
The fact that Hamas’s rockets have inflicted only a few casualties is a reflection of their poor technology, not of their users’ lethal intent.
Moreover Hamas has constructed a series of tunnels into Israel with the aim of inflicting more deadly attacks. Israel, like any other nation, has a duty to defend itself by destroying this terrorist infrastructure.
In this context the parrot cry for negotiations is fatuous.
Negotiating with terrorists legitimizes them. The Israelis shouldn’t be doing it. No state should ever do it.
Hamas, an offshoot of the infamous Muslim Brotherhood, is not interested in a peace settlement, only in the annihilation of Israel and the Jewish people. Its founding charter, drawn up in 1988, proclaims that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.”
Last week an imam in a Palestinian mosque declared: “Our doctrine in fighting you, the Jews, is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive.”
So on what aspect of anti-Semitic genocide is Israel supposed to negotiate with Hamas?
(This was written before the negotiations in Cairo started. Fortunately they have now stalled.)
Instead of traducing Israel, western politicians and the media should face up to the terrifying global threat of fundamentalist Islam, of which Hamas is a key part.
We see that threat all over the world from the turmoil in Libya to the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria, from the stoning of women in Afghanistan to the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq.
If Israel’s defences crack, it will be another milestone in the slide from a liberal civilisation into a new dark, totalitarian age dominated by bigotry, misogyny and intolerance.
The baleful force of anti-Semitism is central to this aggressive Islamist ideology.
That is why, among militant Muslims and their western cheerleaders, there is such a neurotic obsession with Gaza. It is the ideal vehicle for trying to demonise Israel and delegitimise the Jewish state’s very existence.
The tragic irony is that Israel is one of the most open, prosperous countries yet now, thanks to the vicious anti-Jewish racism dressed up as concern for the Palestinians, it is treated in fashionable progressive circles as a pariah.
In trumpeting their compassion for Palestine and opposition to Israel progressive activists could hardly be more misguided.
There is nothing compassionate about Hamas’s creed of Islam, which seeks complete Sharia law and the subjugation of the infidel.
Similarly when western progressives bleat about ending “the cycle of violence” they are in denial about the violent nature of jihadism. Hamas’s 1988 charter explicitly states, “initiatives and so-called peaceful solutions are in contradiction of the principles of the Islamic resistance movement”.
British liberals often point to the success of the Northern Irish peace process but in the early 1990s the Republicans gave up because they were beaten by the British Army and the loyalist paramilitaries.
That is what needs to happen in Gaza. Israel has to break Hamas’s ability to wage war. Only by defeating terrorists can peace be achieved.
Rather than carping from the sidelines western politicians should support that goal.
Israel is a bulwark of civilisation against Islamism.
Ultimately we will pay a terrible price if we betray this heroic nation.
A video made by conservative Rod Shelton in strong attack mode. (“God” is mentioned in passing, but is moved along briskly.)
(Hat-tip to our Facebook commenter Ramon Homan)