I haven’t yet seen Hotel Mumbai, but I was surprised to learn of its release last month. The surprise was on two counts: first, that anyone had dared to make a movie that depicts Muslims as terrorists, and, second, that the terrorists hadn’t been transformed, for politically correct reasons, into white supremacists from rural Virginia.
The story certainly merits big-screen treatment. In November 2008, ten heavily armed members of an Islamic terrorist organization laid siege for four days to the city of Mumbai. Their most iconic target was the majestic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel which could be seen on televised news reports with smoke billowing from its upper floors. Altogether, 164 people were killed and 300 wounded.
I remember thinking at the time that Mumbai would be a turning point. People would finally wake up and take decisive action to counter the ideology that led to the carnage in India’s largest city. But I had thought the same thing after the London tube and bus bombings (2005), the bombings of four commuter trains in Madrid (2004), the attack on an elementary school in Beslan, Russia which left more than 330 dead (2004), and, of course, after 9/11.
But here we are, eleven years after Mumbai, eighteen years after 9/11 and 35,000 deadly Islamic terror attacks in-between, and I don’t think we’ve made any progress in understanding the threat.
And that’s the optimistic assessment. The truth is, we’re not simply back where we were in 2001. We’ve actually regressed. Today’s average college graduate has a poorer understanding of the enemy we face than his counterpart of eighteen years ago. The ‘woke’ generation is alert to every variety of “microaggression,” but it seems oblivious to the most macro aggressive force on the planet. That’s because the politically correct crowd have now gained a much tighter control of the narrative. In the early days of the “war on terror,” it was still permissible to say that our terrorist enemies were inspired by the more radical teachings of the prophet Muhammad. The forces of obfuscation had not yet shifted into high gear, and the term “Islamophobia” had not yet been turned into a club with which to beat Islamosceptics into submission.
Although President Bush assured us that Islam is a religion of peace, it didn’t seem so to many in America at the time. Indeed, Islam looked to be an aggressive religion, and it was still possible to say so without fear of being denied a public platform or of losing one’s job.
Since then, the narrative has shifted nearly 180 degrees. “Islamophobia,” which initially seemed nothing more than a PR ploy, is now an ironclad doctrine. The slightest criticism of Islam brings swift retribution. When a guest on Fox News began to speculate that the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral might have been purposefully set, he was immediately shut down by host Shepard Smith. Likewise, when Catholic League president Bill Donahue began to speculate in the same direction, Neil Cavuto abruptly cut him off. The religion that must not be named is now setting the parameters of public discourse.
In the days immediately following 9/11, Muslims were suspected of being aggressors, but they are now defended as victims—of Islamophobia, hate crimes, discrimination and worse. This narrative was bolstered on March 15 when a deranged white supremacist killed 50 Muslims in two mosques in New Zealand. From the month-long worldwide coverage, one would think that this was simply the worst example of a long campaign against mosques that must now finally be brought to an end.
But that is not the case. Attacks on mosques by non-Muslims are a rarity. The New Zealand attack was essentially a one-off, not part of a pattern. Meanwhile, a very obvious pattern of attacks on Christian churches by Muslims had been unfolding for years. But, by and large, the media refused to look at it.
The media has given only minimal attention to the hundreds of attacks on Christian churches in recent years in Nigeria, Egypt and elsewhere. Nor has it paid much attention to the hundreds of churches that have been vandalized, desecrated and torched in France alone in the last year. It wasn’t until the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral that most Americans first learned of the string of attacks on French churches. And even then, they had to pay close attention. It was a brief mention of these church desecrations which caused Neil Cavuto to hang up on Bill Donahue lest viewers learn too much.
Of course, some Muslim attacks on Christians are so blatant that even the mainstream media can’t ignore them. But they can downplay them. Such is the case with the horrific attacks on three Christian churches, and three luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday by Muslim terrorists. As a number of columnists have observed, the mainstream media dragged a basketful of red herrings across the story in an effort to throw readers off the scent. Mark Steyn points out that the lead sentence in The Economist was:
It has been nearly ten years since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka’s civil war. But bloodshed returned with a vengeance…
A number of other news reports began with the same lead. If you didn’t read beyond the lead, you’d think, “It’s those darned Tamil Tigers again. Haven’t they done enough damage?”
In the meantime, several presidential candidates didn’t think the story of hundreds of Christians being killed in church was worth mentioning at all. The day after the bombings, CNN hosted a Town Hall for five Democrat candidates. Not a single one mentioned the horrific attacks. Nor did the CNN anchors see fit to even raise the question. Jihad terror against Christians is, apparently, not a big issue for Democrats or for CNN.
What will it take to wake up people to the gravity and extent of the jihad threat? Will it take a more massive attack on the scale of Mumbai? More devastating attacks on churches and hotels like the ones that occurred last week in Sri Lanka? Or will it take another 9/11—only this time on a larger scale with even more loss of life?
We assume, of course, that at some point everyone will wake up, and decisive action will be taken. But that’s not necessarily so. For some—in press rooms, in broadcast studios, in universities, and in government—it may well be that nothing will wake them up. In what Samuel Huntington called “the clash of civilizations,” many have, in effect, already chosen sides. Their automatic defense of Islam is part of a worldview that is based on fear or dislike of Christianity and the West, and faith in diversity. They are so committed to this narrative that no evidence to the contrary will shake their faith. They may see some problems with Islam, but, like Walter Duranty, the New York Times correspondent who covered-up Stalin’s forced starvation of millions in Ukraine, they are willing to tell lies for the sake of an illusory future harmony.
If you wait for the mainstream media to wake up, you might be waiting for a long time. But where else shall we turn for guidance? There are some world leaders who seem to grasp the situation: Victor Orban, Sebastian Kurz, Matteo Salvini, Donald Trump, and others. But they are a minority. Many other world leaders, by contrast, seem clueless about Islam. They continue to implement policies—such as increased immigration—that will lead to the death of their own cultures.
In times past, people could look to the Catholic Church for guidance regarding Islam. But not anymore. Amazingly, jihad terror seems to be a secondary issue for the Church. Even though the Church is one of the jihadists’ main targets, the bishops’ radar is focused elsewhere—on climate change, on the needs of the LGBT community, and, ironically, on “Islamophobia.”
Indeed, some Church leaders are intent on portraying Islam as a beleaguered fellow faith. Many seem more interested in defending Islam from criticism than in defending Christians from violent attacks. Thus, key members of the hierarchy have consistently maintained that attacks carried out in the name of Allah have nothing to do with Islam, and Pope Francis has drawn a moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity on more than one occasion.
This policy betrays either a deep ignorance of Islam, or else a willingness to conceal the truth. If Church authorities are lying, they undoubtedly justify it to themselves as a ‘noble lie’—a lie told for the benefit of others. Perhaps, they fear that the truth might provoke a “backlash” against Muslims which would set in motion a cycle of violence. Perhaps they hope to create a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby Muslims come to believe all the positive things said about their faith, and strive to act accordingly. Or, perhaps, Church leaders fear that a frank discussion of Islam would only provoke more Islamic violence against Christians.
Whatever the reasons, the strategy of prevarication is not working. Church authorities continue to praise Islam as a religion of peace and justice, and Arab leaders applaud the pope for his defense of Islam, yet Muslim attacks on Christians keep escalating. And not just in Iran, Nigeria, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, but also in Europe.
Meanwhile, the odds for the backlash which secular and Church leaders fear, are increasing. As it becomes more apparent that Church leaders won’t tell the truth about the threat, and that the state won’t protect them, more people will, unfortunately, be tempted to take matters into their own hands.
The point is, the current head-in-the-sand approach of pretending (or actually believing) that jihad has nothing to do with Islam, only serves to fuel the jihad. The repeated assurance that jihadists are a tiny minority who misunderstand their religion only guarantees that Christians will be unprepared for the next attack. They were certainly unprepared in Sri Lanka. As the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith said: “It’s very difficult and a very sad situation for all of us because we never expected such a thing to happen and especially on Easter Sunday.”
Especially not on Easter Sunday? If the archbishop was acquainted with the activities of jihadists, he would know that they prefer to attack churches on Christian holy days such as Easter, Palm Sunday, and Christmas, and he might have taken precautions. But in the current climate, simply taking precautions might be seen as an act of distrust toward one’s Muslim neighbors. As Robert Spencer asks in a recent article, “Would it have been Islamophobic to have Sri Lankan churches guarded for Easter?”
The doctrine of jihad—the belief that Muslims have a religious obligation to fight unbelievers—is subscribed to by a significant percentage of Muslims worldwide. It is solidly based in the Koran, the Hadith, and the Sira. Moreover, it is rooted in Islamic history. The history of Islam—a history with which today’s non-Muslims are mostly unfamiliar—is largely a history of jihad. By one estimate, up to 80 million people in India alone lost their lives to jihad over the centuries. Considering Sri Lanka’s close proximity to India, it might be expected that the Archbishop of Colombo would know some of this history. But the Archbishop does not seem to be the inquiring type. Three days after the attack, he met with several Islamic ambassadors who assured him, he said, that the bombings had “no connection to Islam.”
Church leaders have rightly condemned white supremacists, but seem not to have noticed that Islam is a supremacist religion which considers Muslims “the best of people” (Koran 3: 110), and non-believers, “the worst of creatures” (98: 6). Unbelievers are also “unclean” (9: 28), “ignorant” (6: 111). “helpers of the devil” (4: 76), like “cattle” (7: 179), and, in the case of Jews who displeased Allah, “transformed into apes and swine” (5: 60). Meanwhile, Islamic law books which are available on Amazon, and widely consulted for guidance, assert that the value of a Christian or Jew is one-third the value of a Muslim.
Since the same law books, together with the Koran, present jihad as the best deed a Muslim can perform after belief in Allah and Muhammad, it should come as no surprise that jihad attacks are so frequent and widespread. There is even less reason to be surprised when we consider that jihadists are guaranteed immediate entrance to paradise and the company of 72 virgins.
Yet, like the Archbishop of Colombo, people continue to be surprised. But, of course, archbishops and cardinals have less reason to be surprised than most. After all, religion is their territory.
At some future point—perhaps in as few as fifteen or twenty years—subjugated Christians in Europe and other parts of the Western world will wonder why no one had given them warning. Why, they will ask, hadn’t previous generations learned the lessons provided by Mumbai, Madrid, London, Beslan, New York, Orlando, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Bali, Nigeria, Egypt and Sri Lanka?
Catholics, especially, will wonder why their shepherds had felt no obligation to inform them.
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