Egypt, ‘Hurriyya’ Vs. Freedom, and ‘Muslim Moderates’

Egypt, ‘Hurriyya’ Vs. Freedom, and ‘Muslim Moderates’

Andrew G. Bostom


Ominous polling
from the contemporary Egyptian population reflect their deep,
longstanding favorable inclination toward the Sharia, in all its
totalitarian, brutally anti-freedom “glory.” The electorally successful Algerian
Sharia supremacists of two decades ago came up with an apt expression of where
such sentiments lead, given a one man, one vote (and likely, one time)
opportunity: Islamic
State by the Will of the People!
Despite ebullient
appraisals of events in Egypt — which optimistic observers insist epitomize
American hopes and values at their quintessential best — there is a profound,
deeply troubling flaw in such hagiographic analyses which simply ignore the vast
gulf between Western and Islamic conceptions of freedom itself. The current
polling data indicating that three-fourths of the Egyptian population are still
enamored of the totalitarian Sharia confirms that this yawning gap still exists
strikingly so
— in our era.
Hurriyya (Arabic  for “freedom”) and the uniquely Western concept of
freedom are completely at odds. Hurriyya ‘freedom’ is  —  as Ibn Arabi (d.
1240) the  lionized “Greatest Sufi Master”, expressed it  —  “being perfect
slavery.” And this conception is not merely confined to the Sufis’ perhaps
metaphorical understanding of the relationship between Allah the “master” and
his human “slaves.”
The late American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal (d. 2003) analyzed the
larger context of hurriyya in Muslim society. He notes the historical absence of
hurriyya as  “…a fundamental political concept that could have served as a
rallying cry for great causes.”
An individual Muslim, “…was expected to consider subordination of his own
freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper
course of behavior…”.
Thus politically, Rosenthal concludes,
…the individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he
wished to be governed…In general, …governmental authority admitted of no
participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real
freedom vis-a-vis it.
Bernard Lewis, in his analysis of hurriyya for the venerable
Encyclopedia of Islam, discusses this concept in the latter phases of the
Ottoman Empire, through the contemporary era. After highlighting a few
“cautious” or “conservative” (Lewis’ characterization) reformers and their
writings, Lewis maintains,
…there is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in the
formation or conduct of government — to political freedom, or citizenship, in
the sense which underlies the development of political thought in the West.
While conservative reformers talked of freedom under law, and some Muslim rulers
even experimented with councils and assemblies government was in fact becoming
more and not less arbitrary….
Lewis also makes the important point that Western colonialism
ameliorated this chronic situation:
During the period of British and French domination, individual freedom was
never much of an issue. Though often limited and sometimes suspended, it was on
the whole more extensive and better protected than either before or
after.’ [emphasis added]
And Lewis concludes with a stunning observation, when viewed in light
of the present travails in Egypt and throughout the Muslim world, optimistic
assessments notwithstanding:
In the final revulsion against the West, Western democracy too was rejected
as a fraud and a delusion, of no value to Muslims.
I would like to add these three germane observations. Two are from
scholars quite sympathetic to Islamic culture whose opinions are based upon very
different scholarly backgrounds — S.D. Goitein (d. 1985), a specialist in
classical Islam, and Muslim-Jewish relations in particular; and P.J. Vatikiotis
(d. 1997), a political scientist who focused on the modern era in the Middle
East, especially Egypt. Both men also lived for extended periods in the region.
The third is from a lecture Bat Ye’or — who lived her youth in Egypt — gave in
1998, with Elliot
All three observations serve (or should serve) to remind us of the profound
limitations of relying upon what Ibn
has aptly termed “protecting Islam from Enlightenment
values,” while supporting “dishonest tinkering” with Islamic doctrine (not to
mention complete denial of the historical consequences of such doctrine), in
lieu of the honest, mea culpa-based, wrenching reforms that are necessary to
transform Islamic societies.
Goitein, circa 1964, from p. 185 (Review: [untitled] Author(s): S. D.
Goitein Reviewed work(s): Modern Islam: The Search for Cultural Identity
by G. E. von Grunebaum Source: Journal of the American Oriental
, Vol. 84, No. 2, (Apr. – Jun., 1964), pp. 185- 186.)
The military or police dictatorships controlling today almost all Islamic
countries now appear not merely as successors or revivals of medieval despotism.
They are (credited with) fulfilling a function similar to that of the belief in
the God of Islam in the past-namely that of relieving man from the
responsibility for his own destiny.”
Vatikiotis circa 1981 (from Le Debat, [Paris], no. 14,
July-August, 1981), wrote:
What is significant is that after a tolerably less autocratic/authoritarian
political experience during their apprenticeship for independent statehood under
foreign power tutelage, during the inter-war period, most of these states once
completely free or independent of foreign control, very quickly moved towards
highly autocratic-authoritarian patterns of rule…One could suggest a hiatus of
roughly three years between the departure or removal of European influence and
power and overthrow of the rickety plural political systems they left behind in
Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and the Sudan by military coups d’etat.
Authoritarianism and autocracy in the Middle East may be unstable in the
sense that autocracies follow one another in frequent succession. Yet the ethos
of authoritarianism may be lasting, even permanent…One could venture into a
more ambitious philosophical etiology by pointing out the absence of a concept
of ‘natural law’ or ‘law of reason’ in the intellectual-cultural heritage of
Middle Eastern societies. After all, everything before Islam, before God
revealed his message to Muhammad, constitutes jahiliyya, or the dark age of
ignorance. Similarly, anything that deviates from the eternal truth or verities
of Islamic teaching is equally degenerative, and therefore unacceptable. That is
why, by definition, any Islamic movement which seeks to make Islam the basic
principle of the polity does not aim at innovation but at the restoration of the
ideal that has been abandoned or lost. The missing of an experience similar, or
parallel, to the Renaissance, freeing the Muslim individual from external
constraints of, say, religious authority in order to engage in a creative course
measured and judged by rational and existential human standards, may also be a
relevant consideration. The individual in the Middle East has yet to attain his
independence from the wider collectivity, or to accept the proposition that he
can create a political order.
Finally, I urge the reader to consider very carefully Bat Ye’or’s
analysis of “Muslim moderates” and their terrible failings — completely
squandered opportunities during the end of the colonial era (as noted above from
a different perspective by Vatikiotis) — from the perspective of a great
scholar who grew up among them, as a non-Muslim, indeed a Jew. Written 10 years
ago, the attitude she describes of complete denial by
Muslims, even “progressives,” and “moderates,” still applies with the rarest of
isolated exceptions. And the consequences of this ongoing denial are equally
It is this lack of testimony that has brought back the evils and the
prejudices of the past — the jihad mentality, and the laws of dhimmitude that
were only abolished by the colonial European powers. And now, more and more,
because of this lack of testimony, we see moderate Muslims themselves being
persecuted. Because they were indifferent to the humiliation of Jews and
Christians, because they remained silent and aloof, they now find themselves –
in Algeria, Egypt, and elsewhere – suffering from cruel injustices and
barbarism. Testifying together, giving testimony against dhimmitude, would have
allowed Muslim intellectuals to rethink their whole relationship with the People
of the Bible – and with all non-Muslims, and this without renouncing their
faith. Such an attitude would have brought all of us together in the fight
against tyrannical oppression, against the process of dehumanization. This is
what could have been done and what was not


Hamas says asked by US to keep silent on talks

Hamas says asked by US to keep silent on talks

Islamist group source says senior American officials request contacts remain secret ‘so as not to rouse Jewish lobby’
Roee Nahmias

 A senior Hamas figure said Friday that official and unofficial US sources have asked the Islamist group to refrain from making any statements regarding contacts with Washington, this following reports that a senior American official is due to arrive in an Arab country in the coming days to relay a telegram from the Obama Administration.

 The Hamas figure told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that the Americans fear discussing the talks publicly would “rouse the Jewish lobby and other pressure groups in the US and cause them to pressure the administration to suspend all talks with Hamas.”

 The Hamas figure, who is close to Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the government in Gaza, added, “This is a sensitive subject. The Americans don’t want anyone to comment on it because this would catch the attention of pressure groups (in the US) and cause problems.”

 He said Hamas’ exiled leadership in Damascus is overseeing the contacts behind closed doors.

 On Wednesday a Washington-based Arabic newspaper quoted a senior official as saying that an American envoy is scheduled to meet with Hamas representatives in an Arab country and hand them a letter from the Obama Administration.

 According to the report, the official said Washington has no choice but to work with Hamas due to its influence in the Arab and Islamic world.

Rep. Mike Pence Has a Question for the President “Mr. President, Whose Side Are You On?”

“Mr. President, Whose Side Are You On?”

By Doug Powers  •  June 10, 2010 04:22 PM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

In light of the fact that all problems are solved in the United States and our debt and spending are under control, President Obama yesterday pledged $400 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian territories. The money was pledged during a meeting between Obama and Mahmoud Abbas.

Obama said he would not meet with the CEO of BP because “he’s going to say all the right things to me, I’m not interested in words, I’m interested in actions,” so it’s nice to see him have such confidence in Abbas to be honest and forthright in his ultimately successful attempt to get his hands on hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars.

Cassy Fiano calls it a “terrorist stimulus package,” and if it is, the only reason for optimism is the hope that a terrorist stimulus will work as well as the stimulus package. If Sheriff Biden is in charge of making sure the aid works as intended, Abbas is screwed.

But remember, the $400 million is just a “down payment”:

The Obama administration’s promise of aid includes money to increase access to clean drinking water, create jobs and build schools and affordable housing. State Department officials called the projects “a down payment” on the U.S. commitment to improving life in Gaza.

Last year, U.S. officials pledged a total of $900 million for Gaza and the West Bank, but acknowledged the difficulty of distributing the funds, especially because Hamas controls Gaza and is considered a terrorist organization. The aid announced Wednesday may be distributed through organizations performing relief work, State Department officials said.

Sure. This aid will be different… it won’t be handed to the guys in the “Hamas” shirts, but rather to the nice folks wearing the “samaH” shirts (inability to recognize a t-shirt turned inside-out is a time-honored skill that’s been handed down through generations of United Nations aid distributors).

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana isn’t happy with any of this, and asks Obama what I’d consider the rhetorical question of the week: “Whose side are you on?” (h/t Cubachi):

“Mr. President, Whose Side Are You On?”

Here are some things the media doesn’t report about Gaza. It ain’t all misery and Israeli-induced dispair.

According to exit polling on election day 2008, 78% of Jewish voters went for the US presidential candidate with a background that suggested he would empathize with the Muslim point of view (and I’m putting that so mildly that it borders on beyond sarcasm). I’m not Jewish, so if three-quarters of American Jewish folks don’t mind, maybe I shouldn’t be as concerned as I am. We’ll see what the numbers look like after the 2012 election.

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Funding Hamas

Funding Hamas

Posted By Congresswoman Michele Bachmann On June 15, 2010 @ 12:24 am In FrontPage | 14 Comments

We are $13 trillion in debt. We will be $19.6 trillion in debt come 2015. Yet, the President wants to send $400 million for “humanitarian aid” to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an area controlled by the terrorist organization Hamas. As well intentioned as this offer may be, how can we be sure our money will not be used to fund terrorist activities? Well, we can’t.

If the money given to the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat is any indication, our dollars will be used to fund more terrorist activities and line the pockets of those in charge. Moreover, people have been sentenced to prison for funneling money to Hamas under the guise of “humanitarian aid,” so it’s a bit peculiar that our government would send money under the same conditions. Before one dime is handed over to the Palestinians, Congress needs to do its due diligence to ensure there are safeguards in place to prevent money from being used for terrorist activities.

Why is Obama Handing out Millions of Dollars to Terrorists?

Why is Obama Handing out Millions of Dollars to Terrorists?

June 11th, 2010

By Patrick Brown

Obama Abbas

President Obama and Palestinian President Abbas

On Wednesday, Obama announced that the U.S. will be sending Palestine 400 million dollars of aid after a lengthy meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to Obama, the money is for “assistance for housing, school construction, [and] business development.” Ten million dollars of this amount is funding for school construction in the Gaza strip.

School construction? There can’t be anything wrong with that, right? Besides the glaring problem that the U.S. is 13 trillion dollars in debt and can ill afford to fund Palestinian construction projects, the main problem is that Israel has spent the last few years (highlighted by the recent incident with the activist flotilla) trying to keep construction materials out of Gaza because of the high likelihood that such materials will be used by Hamas to construct bunkers and rocket launching sites used to attack Israeli cities. Sure, there will be promises that no money will go to Hamas. But how often is aid to countries intercepted by the rulers while the people are left to rot? And why would it be any different with Hamas, a terrorist organization and ally of Iran?

How naive can Obama be? Or does this announcement actually reveal his contempt for Israel and its right to survive? I’m sure 10 million dollars would feel nice in the pockets of terrorists who call America the “Great Satan” and want to wipe Israel off the map.

Obama’s naivety/contempt is also shown by his discussion with President Abbas about Palestinian incitement. Prior to the meeting, White House officials hosted a leadership meeting of the Jewish advocacy group, the Orthodox Union, and promised that Obama would confront Abbas about Palestinian incitement of violence.

Abbas’ response to this was simple: “I say in front of you, Mr. President, that we have nothing to do with incitement against Israel, and we’re not doing that.”

Obama evidently took this at face value and proceeded to promise Abbas 400 million dollars rather than call out this bald-faced lie. The fact that Obama earlier promised Jewish leaders to confront the encouragement of violence shows that he had at least some knowledge of Palestinian incitement, which he obviously chose to ignore.
A recent report by the Palestinian Media Watch shows the truth about Abbas and the Palestinian Authority’s incitement of its people to hate Israel. According to the report, “Official PA TV continues to teach children to envision a world in which Israel does not exist and all of Israel is instead part of the “State of Palestine.” One official statement on PA TV a few weeks ago said that all the cities that are now within Israel should be part of Palestine and told all Jews to get out and go back to their homeland in Poland. Hmm, didn’t now-former White House correspondent Helen Thomas say something very similar recently? Maybe she got her ideas from watching a little late-night Palestinian TV.

It seems Obama would rather provide material aid to enemies of the U.S and her allies than call out the Palestinian president’s lie. Why are we giving Palestine 400 million dollars of U.S money at a time when we have 13 trillion dollars of national debt and when much of the aid may land in the hands of Hamas? Obama will to have to answer some tough questions in the days ahead.

Update: If there was any question of Obama’s attitude toward Israel, William Kristol reported today that Obama will be supporting an anti-Israel resolution in the UN next week. It seems Obama’s true feelings are starting to come out

Obama and Hamas

Obama and Hamas

By Ted Belman

President Obama is not letting the flotilla crisis go to waste. He is using it as a springboard to change U.S. policy regarding Hamas. In his words, uttered in a recent interview by Larry King, “Time to move forward and break out of the impasse,” and “the status quo is unsustainable.” Totally aside from whether it is really unsustainable, one need not wonder how Obama intends to break out of the impasse. He will bring Hamas in from the cold.
It was recently disclosed by Aaron Klein that
The group behind the Gaza flotilla that engaged in deadly clashes with Israeli commandos today counts among its top supporters the friends and associates of President Barack Obama, namely the founders of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of the radical activist organization Code Pink.
Barack Obama should be included in this cast of characters.
The anti-blockade movement was promoted by a Turkish “charity,” IHH, which has been designated as a supporter of Hamas by both Israel and the U.S. One of the backers of this “charity” is Tariq Ramadan, who was banned from entering the U.S. due to his financial support of Hamas. Yet Obama believes that “Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process.”
In April of this year, Obama’s administration lifted the ban on Ramadan. A week ago, the Guardian ran this headline: “Hamas leader says American envoys making contact, but not openly.” And this was before the crises.
But the Obama-Hamas connection goes way back.
From BizzyBlog comes evidence that Obama’s church not only has anti-white, anti-American feelings, but may also have a pro-Hamas bias. The July 22, 2007 Trinity United Church of Christ bulletin reprinted an article written by Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy of the political bureau of Hamas. Originally printed in the LA Times as “Hamas’ stand“, Pastor Wright added a new title, “A Fresh View of the Palestinian Struggle”. The Times was criticized for giving a “Platform To Genocidal Terrorist.” Where does that leave Obama’s church? Marzook is a known terrorist and created an extensive Hamas network in the United States.”
Indeed, where does that leave Obama himself?
During his election campaign, Obama was aided by Hamas-controlled Palestinians manning a phone bank from Gaza. Al Jazeera reported on the story.
Seven days later, on January 27, 2009, Obama allocated $20.3 million for Palestinian migration and refugee assistance. Quite a reward. Why was he bringing Hamas terrorists to the U.S.?
But Obama’s gratitude didn’t end there. One month later, in the middle of a great economic crunch, Obama sent $900 million to Gazans, or should I say Hamas.
So how does Obama intend to end the impasse? An indication may be in President Carter’s written initiative, which he delivered to Hamas a year ago. In it, he proposed talks between the Islamist group and the U.S. without Hamas having to accept all conditions previously laid out for dialogue by the American government.
After the Hamas takeover of Gaza three years ago, the U.S. and Israel decided to impose a blockade on Gaza to bring Hamas down. Hamas started firing rockets at Israel over the next few years to force a change in this policy. This resulted in Cast Lead, in which the IDF attacked Hamas and delivered a major blow. Israel shocked everyone by ending the operation before Hamas was annihilated. It was reported that she did so at the request of President-elect Obama, who was about to be inaugurated.
For the time being, the rockets being fired by Hamas are few and far between, perhaps because Hamas has a friend in the White House. Instead, Hamas has been planning, along with friends of Obama above mentioned and Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, to break the siege with a flotilla…and to make sure to create a sufficient crisis to enable Obama to chart another course more favorable to them, they planned a violent confrontation.
“Ending the impasse” means lifting the blockade. Netanyahu in a recent speech gave Israel’s bottom line, saying, “Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem.” The same, I am sure, goes for an airport in Gaza.
Let’s see how Obama squares the circle. No doubt he will propose some international inspection of cargo, certainly arriving from the Mediterranean and possibly from Egypt. But Israel need look no farther than UNSC Res 1701, which ended Lebanon War II. That resolution was to put a stop to the rearming of Hezbollah. It failed miserably. Why should better results be expected in Gaza?
Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit. He made aliya from Toronto a year ago and is now living in Jerusalem.

WHITE HOUSE SIDES WITH HAMAS!… Says Gaza Blockade Unsustainable


Posted by Jim Hoft on Saturday, June 5, 2010, 12:01 PM


The Obama White House is now siding with Hamas over Israel. Despite the documented ambush on the Israeli soldiers this week by radical Islamists in the Mediterranean, the White House is pressuring Israel to end its blockade of Gaza essentially undermining Israel’s last wall of defense against the Islamic killers of Hamas.


President Obama refused to side with Israel after the attack and told Prime Minister Netanyahu to go back to Israel out of concern that the Israeli Prime Minister would use the White House as his backdrop while discussing the flotilla ambush.

Reuters reported:

The White House said on Friday Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip was unsustainable and urged a Gaza aid vessel sent by pro-Palestinian activists to divert to an Israeli port to reduce the risk of violence.

“We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza,” said Mike Hammer, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations,” Hammer said in a statement.

Israel was preparing to intercept the Irish-owned ship the Rachel Corrie, bound for Gaza with aid and activists, after its naval operation on Monday in which nine Turkish activists were killed on another ship when it was boarded by Israeli forces.

The White House is asking Hamas to act “responsibly”? Since when has Hamas acted responsibly?

As Charles Krauthammer wrote this week:

Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses — a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what’s left?

Exactly. Obama wants the Jews defenseless.
There can be no other explanation.