my Trade Tripper column in the 20-21 November 2015 issue of BusinessWorld:
The 13th of November, of course, was the day radical Islamic terrorists attacked Paris. It was also an anniversary of sorts, it being the day, almost a hundred years earlier, when Western troops occupied Constantinople, the capital of the Caliphate that was the Ottoman Empire.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But this is what’s certain: Islamic terrorists specifically targeted in Paris a football game between France and Germany, a heavy metal rock concert (where the US band Eagles of Death Metal was playing), a hip upscale Cambodian restaurant, and three bars.
This was an attack not simply on Paris but against a way of life. Which is the same kind recognized by most in this globalized world. Of which the Philippines is a part.
Anybody who says those barbaric acts are solvable with better understanding and tolerance of other’s viewpoints to achieve peaceful coexistence is in cuckoo land.
There is no compromise or inane “don’t judge” position available in this case.
Accept it or not, the moment you ask for tolerance and plea for coexistence you make a stand. A stand peculiarly Judeo-Christian Enlightenment in view regarding human right, freedom, and reason. And which is precisely diametrically opposed to and clashes with the radical Islamic belief that everyone must think and do as they do.
If you don’t believe that, try asking for gender equality and religious freedom in radical Islam controlled areas.
Indeed. What these radical Islamic terrorists want is for us to change our way of life or lose it.
Realistic coexistence is unobtainable. Sayyid Qutb (a 20th century Egyptian Islamic theorist) influentially equated modernity and nonbelief in Islam to jahiliyya (ignorance of divine guidance), and declared that “Islam cannot accept any compromise with jahiliyya. Either Islam will remain or jahiliyya. The mixing and co-existence of truth and falsehood is impossible.”
Or, if you like, take the late unlamented Osama Bin Laden’s rant against Western culture, demanding we “reject homosexuality, intoxicants, gamblings, and trading with interest... drugs... art, entertainment, tourism, and freedom,” and further demanding that people be ruled by the “Sharia of Allah.”
And it goes on and on. Hating our freedoms: the fact that women are free to be educated or work, for homosexuals to be treated as people, for anyone to be free to join any religion, and to have a constitutional system that espouses the separation of Church and State.
Thus, more than foreign intervention or economics, what radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on is our world view: their unenlightened totalitarian version of existence against our twin pillars of faith and reason that created democracy and religious tolerance.
And they absolutely abhor the fact that we celebrate our freedom and that such influences their youth: from Manchester United to the trashy Kardashians, the sublimity of Bach, to reading Shakespeare and watching animé.
And that is why radical Islam prefers isolation rather than assimilating with other societies. In France alone, there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of so-called “no-go zones” that Fox News was forced to apologize for even though it actually exists.
These autonomous areas are not officially recognized but are parts of the country dominated by Muslims and largely exclude non-Muslim people or culture. Civil authorities have abdicated control for fear of violence and secular laws are supplanted by Shariah.
Unfortunately, these areas have been taken advantage by radical Muslim clerics to preach their hateful ideology, resulting in the brainwashing of future terrorists and provide safe havens for present ones.
And thus the unfortunate and ironic statistic (taken last year) where 27% of 18- to 24-year-old French citizens support the Islamic State (IS; 16% for the whole population).
Due to the social media environment we live in, this quite blindingly obvious caveat is made: I am not against Muslims or the Islamic faith. I am not against any religion or race. What I am against are people who seek to impose their beliefs on others by violence.
So what do we do?
First is to value our way of life. We defend it rather than apologize for it. And aggressively, completely reject the littlest notion that real or imagined oppression or minority status will ever justify the slaughter of innocent people.
Another is to call these terrorists for what they are: radical Islam. Because that’s what they call themselves. Because you don’t see Catholic nuns blowing up restaurants. Because these terrorists wreak havoc to make the world ruled by an Islamic Caliphate.
We must also strongly call on the US to finally lead: restrictively guarded measures on refugees and putting boots on the ground.
While France (along with others in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) took the admirable step of committing to obliterating IS, they just cannot do it without US strength and resources. And President Obama’s incredibly incompetent “leading from behind” presidency is utterly making matters worse.
Finally, we must also act with this realization: foreign policy is but an extension of our domestic policy. By which I emphasize: our policy in relation to Philippine territory.