Maajid Nawaz and the New York Times weigh in on the Nice attacks

Yes, I’ve had to add a new category of post: “terrorism.” It’s sad. When I wrote about the Nice attack yesterday, I suspected that the perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, might have religious motivations, or at least be working for an organization like ISIS, but there was little information. This morning I learned from CNN that ISIS has now claimed credit for the murders:

In an online statement by the terror group’s media agency Amaq and circulated by its supporters, it said the person behind the attack is an ISIS “soldier.”

Five others, including  Bouhel’s wife, have been arrested: the CNN piece gives more detail. It’s not clear whether Bouhel was actually sent by ISIS to do the deed, or was a sympathizer working under their direction. Or, I suppose, ISIS could be lying, but I’m not aware that they’ve falsely taken credit for an attack.

Yesterday Maajid Nawaz weighted in on the attacks, even before any information from ISIS came out. I thought this was a bit precipitious:

But Nawaz’s main point holds: if this were a Catholic movement acting with the approval and direction of the Vatican, and Catholics engaged in repeated acts of mass murder in the name of their faith, nobody would have a problem calling it out, and blaming, at least in part, that faith. Imagine, for instance, that hospital after hospital that performed abortions was blown up, attacked, and its doctors murdered, all by Catholics, and in both Europe and the U.S. Can you imagine for a minute that the media would avoid mentioning Catholicism?

Islam, of course, is special: liberals have to go easy on it out of both fear—Islamists retaliate—and a misguided feeling that terrorists might be acting as members of an oppressed Group of Color.  In the case of Islam, we can always refrain from comment out of liberal guilt, usually a salubrious emotion—but not in this case. Liberal journalists that refuse to even name the religion are derelict in their duty, and reprehensible cowards.

Nawaz has expanded his tw**t into a piece in the Torygraph, “Please stop saying the Nice attacks have nothing to do with Islam.” The first part of his article is taken from that tw**t, but then he limns the solution he’s always offered: name the phenomenon for what it is—Islamist terrorism—and then try to make the faith less extremist:

All we can do is stop the supply of recruits – and there are far too many of those. No terrorist represents the values of all Muslims, of course, but we have allowed hardline Islamism to permeate our communities and mobilise the vulnerable.

To stop it we have to make it less attractive, and that is a long-term struggle, similar to the those against racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism.

Campaigns like Families Against Terrorism and Extremism and the #MyIslam campaign are a start, but we will need the help of every element of society.

So please stop denying the nature of jihadism. Please stop ignoring the narratives which drive these attacks. Instead of aiding extremists who insist Islam today is perfect, perhaps you should aid us beleaguered reformist Muslims who are attempting to address this crisis within Islam against all the odds.

Some ‪#‎solidarity, please. Because if you want to stop this, you need us.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Nawaz’s solution is the only one that’s viable in the long term. You can’t bomb militant Islamism out of existence, and national security can never stop all attacks. The only solution is to encourage all Muslims to reject the militant version of their faith, and that, of course, involves not only action on the part of Muslims themselves, but an explicit recognition that much of the problem is connected with religion.

But I despair that this solution isn’t working now—how effective have liberal reformers like Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali been?—and, if it works, will take centuries to do so. The U.S. and European “solution”, however, is just to beef up security and to avoid naming religion at all costs, and that won’t do anything. This is why reformers like Nawaz, Hirsi Ali, Maryam Namazie and others are so precious: they are, at least in theory, the only nucleus for a reformation of Islam. But instead of recognizing this, liberals demonize these moderates. We’ll see in a minute how lame the Liberal European Solution really is.

At any rate, if militant Catholicism and Christianity can be tamed, so can Islam. All it takes is an embrace of Enlightenment values. But don’t expect to see that in our lifetimes.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is making piously liberal noises about the problem. In an editorial published yesterday, “Our best defense against terrorists,” the Times editorial board says that the solution lies in—wait for it—holding on to our democratic values:

But whoever struck the blow, whatever its malevolent purpose or toll, the response cannot be to abandon the respect for human rights, equality, reason and tolerance that is the aspiration of all democratic cultures. Though it has become almost a cliché to argue that the goal of terrorists is to bring their victims down to their moral level, it is also a truth, and it must be reaffirmed after every attack.

. . . As Mr. Valls and many others have warned, there will be more terrorist attacks. More innocent lives will be lost. There is no way that the police can track every vengeance-seeking potential killer or neutralize every weapon as commonplace as a truck. What threatened nations and their leaders can do is to firmly instill the idea that the only sure defense is to stay true to what democratic societies really stand for.

The editorial also attacks the jingoistic, right-wing statements of the French National Front and Newt Gingrich’s call that we deport all Muslims who support sharia law. And yes, that’s right: we would be lost if we suddenly got involved in Big Brother-like scrutiny of everyone, or in the demonization of Muslims who want only to live a good life in the West.

But none of that will solve the problem! The Times editorial is, in fact, an exercise in virtue signaling, and says nothing substantive. Maybe they should consider mentioning religious motivations for murder and the need for Islam to be reformed—from within. But that, of course, is verboten at the Good Gray Times.

If you really want to see a bunch of Western liberals ineffectually offering “solutions” to Islamist terrorism, check out the Times‘s “Room for Debate” editorial feature, in which five well-intentioned “experts” give short answers to the question, “Can we just ‘live with’ terrorism?” I’ll spare you a detailed description of their take, and just summarize what each expert said (the experts’ credentials are taken from the article).

  • Amos N. Guiora (former commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ School of Military Law and a professor at S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah). His solution is to continue with counterterrorism measures and do what Israelis do: “. . .  the most effective societal response to a terrorist attack is to continue living. Sitting at home, with a ‘woe is me’ attitude is to give in to terrorism.” Yeah, a lot of actions are said to be “giving in to terrorism,” but I’m dubious. At any rate, this has worked for Israel, but it took them years of being attacked to work out a way to deal with it. And of course it won’t stop the killing by Islamist radicals. Further, the U.S. doesn’t have an “Iron Dome” to stop missile attacks, either, for we aren’t attacked by missiles. Israeli domestic security is, by and large, able to stop (not completely!) the kind of mass murders we have in Europe and the U.S.
  • Paul Rosenzweig (a principal at Red Branch Consulting and a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security). Rosenzweig says we need to think more about terrorists’ methods, like using trucks, reinforce the perimeters of attackable areas, and, yes, install metal detectors at baseball stadiums. In other words, accept that terrorism is here to stay and learn how to deal with it better. That’s pretty much worthless advice.
  • Michael B. Mukasey (U.S. attorney general from 2007 to 2009, and then a United States district court judge for the southern district of New York from 1988 to 2006). At least Mukasey admits the obvious: “[Terrorism] results from the purposeful conduct of people who are motivated by two things: a twisted reading of Islamic scripture, and success.” He’s the most hawkish of the respondents, saying not only that we need to gather intelligence better (duh!) but “go on the offense.” I think he means pre-emptive strikes, but it’s not clear. At any rate, this doesn’t seem like much of a solution, either.
  • Noura Erakat (a human rights lawyer an assistant professor at George Mason University, and a co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya).  Erakat is the Apologist, who says that terrorism should be placed on the doorstep of Western Colonialism, and ending terrorism requires us to admit that violence against civilians in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Yemen should also be counted as terrorism.  The implication is—as always with apologists—that if the West just gets the hell out of the Middle East, or apologizes for having intervened there decades ago, terrorism would end. I don’t buy it. The Brits made a mess out of India with the Partition, as well as years of oppression, but we don’t see Indian citizens committing terrorism all over the planet. Erakat winds up by saying this: “Our ability to protect humanity, literally and figuratively, depends on our ability to draw connections between the terrors inflicted on all civilians and to stem those attacks without a counterproductive and inaccurate framework of ‘just vs. unjust uses of force’ based solely on the perpetrators’ identity and status.”  Now there’s a solution!
  • Liah Greenfeld (professor of sociology, political science and anthropology at Boston University and author of “Mind, Modernity, Madness: The Impact of Culture on Human Experience”).  Greenfeld touts her own speciality as the solution: we need to reduce the incidence of mental illness, which she sees (along with any convenient enabling ideology, like Islam) as a major cause of terrorism. I quote her:

The great majority of “homegrown” or “lone-wolf” terror acts are committed by people with a known history of mental illness, most often depression, which counts social maladjustment and problematic sense of self among its core symptoms. Severely depressed people are often suicidal, they find life unlivable. As a rule, they cannot explain their acute existential discomfort to themselves and may find ideologies hostile to their social environment – the society in which they experience their misery – appealing: such ideologies allow them to rationalize, make sense of the way they feel. Any available ideology justifying their maladjustment would do: Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel might have been inspired by radical Islam, but Micah Johnson, who killed five police officers in Dallas, had a different inspiration.

Of course another solution is to tame the enabling and radicalizing ideology. After all, there are plenty of mentally ill Catholics and Protestants in this world, but they don’t commit frequent mass murders! Could it be that the nature of the faith makes some religions breed terrorism—even among the mentally ill—more than others?

The Times’s whole useless discussion shows how impotent we are before those willing to die in the service of their faith. Is there any solution beyond Nawaz’s: infusing Islam with a titer of Enlightenment values, leading its adherents to reject extremism? If there is, I don’t see it.

h/t: Jeremy


  1. Cindy
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Pfft. “Holding onto our democratic values” is what oppresses Muslims! Democracy and the enlightenment are “oppressive”, white ideas from what I understand!

    The best, most inclusive thing that we can do is let the Islamists run our governments, sharia style. Anything else is just straight up oppression!

    To be truly “tolerant, we , as enlightened Westerners, must accept extreme intolerance.

    • somer
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      And not a few idiot “progressive” version of leftists would agree with them. Centre left is a stigma these days.

  2. Merilee
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink


  3. GBJames
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink


  4. DireLobo
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I think Nawaz is right, the only solution is to modify islam by injecting modern enlightenment concepts and values. But, this will take time. A whole lotta time. Lots, of, time. Decades. Maybe a century, or more.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure the infusion of Enlightenment ideals into Islam has to take centuries. You’re certainly on the side of prevailing wisdom, but I’m more hopeful than that.

      The reason I’m hopeful is social media. In the West, the move to atheism and humanism is rocketing amongst young people simply because they’re becoming aware of it. Information and exposure to new ideas are now possible in a way they never have been before. According to a survey released by Pew two days ago, Nones are now a fifth of the US electorate (and the vast majority are Democrats).

      Enlightenment ideals really are better than the values of Islamism or any other extremist ideology and when knowledge of them is made available, people choose them, especially when everyone around them is doing the same.

      Anyone who argues with Enlightened Christians knows that most credit Jesus with the introduction of Enlightenment values, and not their real source. This is likely to eventually happen within Islam too as Enlightenment values spread through it.

      • Achrachno
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:32 am | Permalink

        I agree with that. The more oppressive systems are, I think, more prone to dissolution through enlightenment IF they’re not in charge.

        Many of the Muslims I’ve met in the US have evolved a lot in an enlightenment direction (but, not all). They’re not trapped in a social and legal cage, so their thinking can evolve in many directions.

      • Scott Draper
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        “when knowledge of them is made available [enlightenment ideals], people choose them”

        I see no evidence this is true, even in the West. If anything, I’d bet that Enlightenment ideals are in retreat around the globe.

        As for the Nones, you can’t conclude these people are becoming more rational just because they don’t consider themselves to be Methodists anymore. It does, perhaps, clear the field a little to allow a more rational philosophy to enter, but I don’t yet see evidence that this is occurring.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

          The problem, imo, is Saudi Arabia, funding violent Wahhabist and Salafi imams around the world.

          As long as they exist, they will be there to entice disaffected people who are looking for meaning in life.

          • chris moffatt
            Posted July 17, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

            Exactly right. And that is where we need to start to address the problem. No more extreme saudi imams spreading the jihad propaganda; no more saudi money supporting jihadis worldwide; no more saudi cash to build mosques to provide their imams a platform for jihad propaganda. It’s past the time that western governments shun KSA for its evil foreign and domestic policies, its oppression of its own and other peoples instead of constantly kissing up to it. But as long as we in the west persist in democracy as a spectator sport in which we don’t want or need to get involved our pusillanimous governments will continue to pander to KSA, perhaps because it is a source of much of their own personal revenue? I urge everyone to read the 28 (redacted) pages just released by the House committee. Very enlightening.

            • Cindy
              Posted July 17, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

              Taslima Nasreen:

              Religious leaders are looking at educated youth for Islamisation because they need talented young people as recruits. They have grandiose dreams to control the world, for which they need to recruit bright young educated men with brains. The old stereotypes of poor, underprivileged and frustrated people turning to religion has changed. Educated young people are turning to religion and are being groomed through Islamic education and the Quran within their families.

              There has been a lot of talk about the misinterpretation of the Quran by preachers. But like the Quran there are other holy books too which have also doubtlessly been misinterpreted by fundamentalists — but that has not given rise to Christian or Jewish terrorists who slaughter people. Only one religion creates terrorists who kill innocents around the world.


        • peepuk
          Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

          “I see no evidence this is true, even in the West.”

          How perceptions can differ.
          Look at how the world was 50, 100 or 1000 years ago.

          I think it’s evident that liberalism / capitalism / democratic – package is still conquering the world. Violence and poverty is declining, education is improving.

          Occasionally there are some hick-ups.

          • Scott Draper
            Posted July 17, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

            Improvement in levels of violence, poverty, education are not demonstrations enlightenment values. Soviet Russia improved on these things, too.

        • Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          “If anything, I’d bet that Enlightenment ideals are in retreat around the globe.”

          Fully agree.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I sometimes wonder if we are witnessing some backlash because of the spread of Enlightenment values, but I don’t know if that’s true in the Muslim world. One think that is for certain, is there are lots of atheist Muslims out there in the Muslim world and I hope that leads to something.

        Also, the craziness of the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in the US of late — perhaps that’s a reaction to liberal values….I sure hope it is!

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          I think it is. I think it’s a backlash because Enlightenment ideals are succeeding. We’re hearing more and more from the extremist preachers who are raging against same-sex marriage and the acceptance of LGBT people, but statistics show that despite those preachers, more and more people are actually accepting of those things.

          According to Pew, in 2001 US was 57% opposed/35% for gay marriage. Their latest survey (May 2016) shows 55% support and 37% oppose.

          Statistics also show more partisanship though. 70% of Democrats support same-sex marriage, 61% of Independents and only 33% of Republicans.

          See here:

  5. Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Actually, ISIS does take credit for attacks it had nothing to do with:

    The claim must be greeted with caution. The Islamic State has at times asserted responsibility for attacks carried out in its name, even when there was no indication that the terrorist network had any direct role in planning or carrying out the violence.

    There is of course the possibility that the killer was self-radicalized and inspired by ISIS, but French authorities have yet to reveal what they’ve found out (if anything) about his ideological proclivities.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      It has been reported, but not yet confirmed, that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

      Perhaps he wasn’t a member of ISIS and only a fellow traveller. On the other hand it is also reported that he had guns, ammunition and grenades in the truck. Which tends to undermine the ‘loner madman’ defence offered by the supine.

      In other news it has been reported that some of the people killed in the Bataclan massacre had allegedly been mutilated, possibly before they were killed. Now you could argue that the ‘authorities’ are keen to minimise the extent of the atrocities for fear of an unjustified anger against innocent Muslims – or you could argue that they are trying to avoid being held to account themselves. Whichever is true it puts off the hard decisions that should be made for the safety of us all.

      • Achrachno
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        “it is also reported that he had guns, ammunition and grenades in the truck”

        But, I just read an article at CNN which, besides reporting apparent panic and grasping at explanations by officials, said: “After Bouhlel was shot, police found a handgun and some ammunition in the truck’s cab, as well as a replica handgun, two replica assault rifles, a cell phone and various documents, …”

        Except for one handgun, everything seems to have been fake. The grenades which I saw mentioned in early reports, seem to have disappeared from recent ones.

        “Which tends to undermine the ‘loner madman’ defence offered by the supine.

        Don’t jump to those sorts of insulting conclusions based on early sketchy reports. There is always a lot of confusion and misinformation in the first day or two. The “loner madman” hypothesis looks as good as any at the moment, and better than most. Maybe that’ll change by mid week.

        Evidence — can we get some before we decide?

        • DiscoveredJoys
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          According to the BBC:
          “Police said that, at the time of the attack, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was in possession of an automatic pistol, bullets, a fake automatic pistol and two replica assault rifles (a Kalashnikov and an M16), an empty grenade. Also in the lorry with him were a driving licence and a bank card.”

          You are of course right to urge that we make no decisions before we get the evidence. But will we ordinary people get the evidence? Or will we only get what the ‘Government’ wishes us to know? I’m not claiming any conspiracy theory and there may be details which are suppressed for operational reasons – but 250 people have been killed in 18 months of terrorist attacks in France so you can reasonably expect the public wanting to know what’s what, and what is to be done.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 21, 2016 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

          Bouhlel planned the attack for months prior
          He had accomplices
          It is a clear case of Islamic terrorism

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Maybe ISIS is becoming like Anonymous – anyone can act using that name.

      (Though I cannot imagine a jihadi wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.)

  6. Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure he was working for ISIS directly. Like Mateen in Orlando, Bouhei’s act might be another example of ISIS successfully crowdsourcing terror via social media. I doubt anyone in ISIS had heard of Mateen until he’d been named as the shooter. And once his pledge to the Caliphate was reported, ISIS took credit.

    • Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      The French newspaper Le Monde is wondering whether Bouhlel was “a secret jihadist sympathizer or had he wanted to turn his suicide into a martyrdom operation”.

      But the scary line is when they point out that “the triggering from a distance of the morbid pulsions of individuals is an integral part of the strategy of the IS.” That is a frightening thought.

      • Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        “The French newspaper Le Monde is wondering whether Bouhlel was “a secret jihadist sympathizer or had he wanted to turn his suicide into a martyrdom operation”.”

        Wouldn’t one have to be a jihadist sympathizer to believe your suicide will grant you martyrdom? These aren’t mutually exclusive things.

  7. Derek Freyberg
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    While I think it’s, for the moment, unlikely he was an ISIS actor, the fact that he had two automatic (perhaps just semi-automatic, I haven’t heard for sure) weapons and a grenade suggests to me more that he was more than just a single disgruntled individual.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      A faked or failed grenade, is what I read.

  8. Achrachno
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Where’s the evidence that this guy was any more religious than any of us who regularly read this site? So far, we don’t know what his motives were, but why do we think religion played more of a role than it did for the Colorado theater shooter or any of several other angry or mentally ill SOBs?

    I’m afraid we just have to be patient for a few days until more information comes in, then we can assign blame and wonder what might have prevented the Nice tragedy. As of the time I write this, there has been no evidence presented that this guy had any faith — but maybe he did. Being originally from Muslim country is not very strong evidence that he acted based on Islam. It suggests a line of inquiry, but alone does not justify a conclusion.

    • Cindy
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Reports are coming in that he shouted ‘Allahu Ackbar’ during the attack

      • Achrachno
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        And we never get erroneous reports right after an event like this, right? The news media never get anything wrong in the immediate confusion and panic?

        Let’s be patient until at least some initial investigations have been conducted. No need for us to decide anything today or tomorrow. I imagine that by the middle of the week we’ll have something to go on.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          yes, anything, anything at all to not connect this to Islam! We must do whatever we can to pretend that all of this:

          Is actually the fault of:


          All of the attacks listed in my link are just ‘coincidences’ that really have nothing to do with Islam!

          So I saw this really interesting documentary, “Warriors From the North”, about young Somali-Scandinivian, men, often second-generation, who, after living a life of debauchery, and not appearing to be overtly religious…join Islamic radical groups and become suicide bombers. The people profiled in the movie tended to be hard partying, hard drinking, promiscuous young people, often in trouble with the law. They joined local Wahhabist/Salafi groups, and were slowly radicalized. The radicalization gave them meaning in life. One young man went to Somalia and suicide bombed a graduating class of doctors. Doctors who were going to improve life for impoverished Somalians. But since medicine and education = western values, they had to be murdered!

          • Achrachno
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            You seem to be in a bit of a panic.

            Yes, Islam is a particularly dreadful religion (at least some of the dominant strains are — the Sufi and Ahmadi seem OK)but there’s still no evidence that this slaughter was motivated by Islam. But, maybe it was — let’s wait a few days until we can better judge. If it turns out that he was motivated more my Islam than mental illness, then you and I can issue a joint statement of condemnation of the relevant flavor of lunacy. OK?

            • GBJames
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

              “…motivated more my Islam than mental illness…”

              False choice.

              • Achrachno
                Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:55 am | Permalink

                I concede that all religion can be considered mental illness. But, sometimes a Baptist sticks up a liquor store for reasons that are not religious.

              • Cindy
                Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                I cannot help but notice how you deftly ignored BarnOwl’s comment..

              • GBJames
                Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

                One does not need to think that all religion is mental illness. But one does need to acknowledge that a mentally ill person can be motivated by religious faith.

            • somer
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

              Ahmadia Islam is only 10 million strong and shunned by all Sunni Muslims
              Sufi Islam adheres to all the orthodox doctrines of Sunni or Shiism but adds a mystical layer. Some sufis in the past have been religious warriors guarding the frontiers of Islamic empire in small outposts – Marabouts – or jihadi commanders. Some like the Sufi leaders of the barelvis have a peaceful side yet encouraged and supported the guy who killed the Pakistan governor that wanted to repeal the blasphemy laws, who was himself a barelvi Some can be of the kind that encourage humility and compassion and inclusiveness. What Im saying is not all sufis are the same. Increasingly the sufis are seen by political Islam as too mystically oriented to further the aims of the religion in the modern world, so disliked, especially by Salafis and Wahhabis.

              The extreme sects – Wahhabis and some Salafis – practise extreme sectarianism and take to the Hadith about the 99 types of muslims which other muslims see as weak. They see only a few Muslims as true muslims and the rest are impure or at worst must convert or die. Wahhabis are distinct but subscribe to the most hardline – Hanbali school which is the smallest of the Sunni school and includes quite a number of weak hadiths.

            • chris moffatt
              Posted July 17, 2016 at 7:06 am | Permalink

              ‘You seem to be in a bit of a panic.’

              Untrue and unfair. Projection on your part maybe?

          • Merilee
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

            I saw that film a couple of weeks ago. Made me so angry/sad/disheartened. I read a recent NYer article called Shadow Doctors (by Evan Osnos, I believe) which talked about the way the Assad regime has targeted medical personnel and hospitals. Some ver brave western docs have set up underground ( some times literally ) field hospitals and even train surgeons over Skype.

            • Merilee
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

              Ben Taub not Evan Osnos wrote the Shadow Doctors article. Osnos had another article in the same issue.

        • somer
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

          Lets be patient … whether its inspired by religion. Theres been numerous terrorist attacks that have turned out to be Islamist attacks – and many in France. Various newspapers saying the driver shouted Allah Akbar. Driver from Salafi background. Five people have been arrested. Driver is Tunisian Muslim migrant who had long problems for violence and separated from his wife and children. Had suspended prison sentence for assault against another driver. ISIS appeals to violent people. Mowing dozens of people down deliberately is gratuitously violent, but only a political/religious cause would motivate the driver to die for it even if they are a Breivik type psycho (Breivik had an odious political cause but he asked the police for a bandaid when arrested; he knew he would most likely survive in Sweden). ISIS has claimed responsibility and its channels are gloating feverishly about it.

    • Dave
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      I’ve read reports that he was shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he drove along – that might be a bit of a clue.

      And what might have prevented the Nice tragedy (and the Bataclan, Brussels airport, London underground, Madrid train bombings, Cologne New Year sex attacks, Rotherham child rape gangs – to name but a few atrocities)would have been for western European countries to not make the catastrophic mistake of importing large numbers of muslims. If western governments actually listened to their people, who by and large never wanted mass muslim immigration (and want it even less now), then many, many lives would have been saved.

      • Achrachno
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        As long as we also exclude Christians, Jews, etc. that’d be fine.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          Please, show us a comparative list of Christian and Jewish attacks:

          In fact, I also find it curious that Tibetans, whose nation is currently being oppressed and occupied by China, are not engaging in suicide bombing and mass murder themselves. It seems that the only folks who go on rampaging murder sprees in China are…the Islamist groups.

          It’s almost like there is a pattern here.

          • Achrachno
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

            Would you agree that a large percentage of the US supporters (including all the key administration players)of the attack on Iraq were Christians and Jews and that their support of that irrational and deadly response partly grew out of their religious commitments? How many kill credits do Christians get for that incident? Or, do you only count one side in these things?

            • Dave
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

              “Would you agree that a large percentage of the US supporters (including all the key administration players)of the attack on Iraq were Christians and Jews..”

              Yes, they were.

              “…and that their support of that irrational and deadly response partly grew out of their religious commitments?”

              No, the religious doctrines of Christianity and Judaism had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision to invade Iraq.

              “How many kill credits do Christians get for that incident?”


              Glad to have cleared that up for you!

              • Achrachno
                Posted July 16, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

                Dedicated believing Christians do bad things and their religion is not to blame, but a cultural Muslim, with no apparent interest in religion, does bad things and Islam is to blame? Interesting standards.

            • somer
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

              Relativist cow shit. And Saddam Hussein was such a Nice Guy. Listen to Sunni Muslims who escaped his regime saying it was worse than living under Big Brother of 1984

      • Torbjörn Larsson
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        The problem isn’t muslim immigration, the problem is when individuals don’t follow the law of the land.

        And yes, we can blame religion for some of that, but most muslims are law abiding and contribute to EU immensely at this time. To get racist on a group isn’t rational, and if UK has good laws the actual practice of racism as opposed to the dumb vocalization is unlawful as well.

        • Cindy
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          And yes, we can blame religion for some of that, but most muslims are law abiding and contribute to EU immensely at this time.

          Please explain how they ‘contribute immensely’

    • barn owl
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Another reader has screenshots of Bouhlel’s Facebook page, which was apparently full of “I❤ Quran"-type likes and Quran quote images. Take a look the comments under PCC(E)'s post "But never religion" below. Also, following questioning of individuals detained because of possible interactions with Bouhlel, authorities are now starting to say that he was radicalized.

      • Achrachno
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        OK, that would certainly be the sort of evidence I was looking for. Can we check it out?

        I still suggest we wait a few days to decide — it’s awfully easy to jump to conclusions based in inadequate evidence and expectation. We’re all inclined to dislike Islam, but we need to remember what Feynman said about fooling ourselves, and why he said that. If someone just wants to condemn Islam, they hardly need this incident to do it. But if you want to add this incident to the list of crimes, rumors don’t help much.

        • barn owl
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          By all means, check it out. As someone who is surrounded by religious hypocrites of the Christian variety, I have no problem accepting that someone who displays behavior that is contrary to religious dictates, might nevertheless consider hirself a believer, devoted follower, and future beneficiary of heavenly rewards.

          I wonder why the onus isn’t on you, to demonstrate that Bouhlel was not a follower of Islam?

          • Achrachno
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

            I thought we usually put the onus on the person making an assertion of fact — that God exists, or whatever. What evidence is there that he was Muslim, other than perhaps culturally (as Dawkins is Christian)?

            That said, according to various statements of neighbors and relatives that I’ve read, he never prayed, never went to mosque and just didn’t show any interest in religion. Maybe that changed last week — is there positive evidence that it did?

            • barn owl
              Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

              I don’t think anyone here is making an “assertion of fact,” but rather considering the possibility that Bouhlel’s murderous rampage may have been motivated in part by extremist Islamic beliefs, i.e. religion. Neighbors described Bouhlel as a weird, ill-tempered loner who wouldn’t say hello or talk/interact with them, so how would any of them know whether he prayed or had any interest in religion? Most of his family is in Tunisia, and yesterday his brother denied that he could have been responsible for the attack, and was wondering why he wasn’t answering his phone. O.o

          • Achrachno
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            BTW — I’m not on Facebook. Has a copy of his page been posted somewhere that I can access? I’ll try googling.

        • somer
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          I think you are being naive about the interplay of biology and unreconstructed culture. The Germans hankered after Leibenstraum even during WW1. Extreme traditionalist values are dangerous – the denouement of imperialist rivalries within Europe and colonialism only broken by WW1 and WW2 – prior to that the west was still overtly class bound and religious but it then had another unreconstructed expansionist state to face – Russia – addicted to strong man leaders and expansionist boundaries due to its bitter history of hundreds of years of devastating invasion – including 200 years of brutal Mongol occupation. Communism was useful initially, now its back to religion. Even China now has reverted to a hardline version of Confucian values, although historically it is not nearly as expansionist as China. Unfortunately we have to deal with present human behaviour and try to make it better whilst surviving in the meantime. Key is we have to be as fair as we can but we also have survive as a fairer culture in the meantime without being forced to adopt another’s more traditionalist values, or revert to them ourselves to avoid that.
          Humans are good at adding nice sounding ideologies and religions to supremacist projects involving complete obedience to traditional authority and population expansion.

          A poster on Godless Spellchecker says they snap shot the Brouhels posts from Facebook onto their computer – but its no doubt somewhere around on twitter.

          • somer
            Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

            “Even China now has reverted to a hardline version of Confucian values, although historically it is not nearly as expansionist as China.”
            I meant the last
            “Even China now has reverted to a hardline version of Confucian values, although historically it is not nearly as expansionist as RUSSIA.”

    • Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      A commenter here cited evidence from Bouhlel’s Facebook page.

  9. Craw
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Deny the wahhabists victories and prestige.
    We are witnesses to a civil war within Islam. The bad guys win serious prestige points every time they humble the unbelievers. We must deny them these cheap victories. That is how we help the good guys.

    IMO that involves destroying ISIS. One can disagree with this particular case, but it’s the main reason I lean to Hillary.

  10. rickflick
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I don’t know any good short term solution to Islamic terrorism. Long term, it will require converting a billion people to enlightenment values. No easy task, but I think it is necessary and ultimately inevitable.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      We don’t have to convert a billion people to enlightenment values – only that their religious values are subordinate to national laws, which are secular in the Western world.

      I don’t care what people’s religious beliefs are as long as they do no harm to others.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Enlightenment values include separation of church and state. But the trick is to get all those Muslims who are theocrats to recognize that they can get along in a pluralistic culture by ignoring some of their sacred texts.
        One thing that might help is to ensure that all children living in Europe and the US are exposed to enlightenment values from an early age. Religious schools probably don’t make a point of this.

  11. Albert Habichdobinge
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    How about Islamic clergy declaring the death of these terrorists to be a suicide, which is strongly condemned by Islam, and not an act of martyrdom and not a sure ticket to go to paradise. This would completely take away the religious legitimization for anybody to end their life committing a terrorist act.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately those clergy would be declared ‘not true Muslims’ and therefore as likely to be killed as any other non-believer.

  12. Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    “making piously liberal noises”

    Charmed I am by these four words. Well done.

  13. Achrachno
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    That would probably help, but unfortunately Islam is so decentralized that there’s always going to be a cleric available, in some other school, to justify anything.

    It’s like these danged Protestants — who cares that the Methodists have condemned something, when we know that they’re not following the true ideas of Jesus, as taught by Brother X on my TV set.

    • Achrachno
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      That was supposed to be a response to Albert @ 11.

  14. James Widdershow
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    As per the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee report in 2003:

    “That threat [of Al Qaida and associated groups] will be heightened by military action against Iraq. The broader threat from Islamist terrorists will also increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”

    It’s telling that the governments involved have freely admitted that US/UK imperialism has led to increased radicalization among and generalized anti-US/anti-Western sentiment Muslims, yet you and others continue to heap scorn on the notion.

    In your refusal to see the effects of US foreign policy, even as they are laid out in black and white by US/UK intelligence agencies, you are the direct counterpart of the left that refuses to admit Islam is part of the problem.

    • Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      First of all, I have never said that colonialism and foreign intervention in the Middle East AREN’T part of the problem, or haven’t contributed to radicalization and destabilization of the region. I freely admit that. Sadly, we can’t undo the ill-advised Iraq invasion. The question is whether religion is also an important part of the problem, and I’ve given lots of evidence that it is. There are plenty of actions by Muslims (killing other Muslims, apostates, gays, and so on) that simply can’t be laid at the door of the West. Unless, that is, you think that Muslim actions are 100% reactive to Western intervention. I doubt you’re dumb enough to think that. And there are plenty of terrorist acts committed by people who weren’t involved in the Iraq invasion. Right?

      We can all quote different sources with different opinions; you quote the advisory committee; I can quote Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, an analysis of the origins of Islamist terrorism, which, by the way, largely indicts Islam.

      Learn some civility, okay? You can make your points without insulting people.

      By the way, your post was quite rude; if you post any further, please be civil.

      • merilee
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        I’ve had Wright’s Looming Tower for quite some time. Might be time to get it off the shelves…

        I’m sure that many many things have contributed to the mess we’re in now, including our invasion of Iraq, Sykes-Picot, etc., but S-P in particular is ancient history and there is nothing that can be done about this now. Nawaz seems to have the most intelligent response I’ve heard so far.

    • Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Currently, all Europe and Mideast are suffering as a result of the LACK of military action in Syria and the resulting humanitarian disaster and radicalization. And, of course, the shameful failure of EU to guard its damn borders.

  15. Scott Draper
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    “At any rate, if militant Catholicism and Christianity can be tamed, so can Islam. All it takes is an embrace of Enlightenment values.”

    Enlightenment values were only embraced in the West after the political power of Christianity was already on the wane.

    My impression that the route out of theocracy in the West was due to secular authority finding it to their advantage to undermine religious dogmatism. It’s not clear to me that this would have been successful had high explosives and social media been available.

    The position of religious fundamentalism in the Muslim world seems highly stable in the engineering sense; any force that attempts to dislodge fundamentalism creates powerful forces that counteract and overpower those forces.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Consider that roughly the jihadism terrorism problem is confined to the west Asian/African muslim nations, and the east Asian muslim nations are not affected.

      The UCDP analysis has apparently identified the difference in Nawaz’s Enlightenment values. The east Asian muslim nations are democratic, or at least allow democratic party work.

      I suspect more or less democratic, more or less rich east Asian nations have better access to high explosives and social media than the poverty stricken, undemocratic nations of west Asian/African muslim regions. Singapore is a huge center for disseminating both.

      [Disclaimer: I am going from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program 2016 early press release and the interviews that followed. I have yet to see their published research.]

      • Scott Draper
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        “east Asian muslim nations are not affected.”

        For now.

        An unstable system doesn’t collapse instantly into a stable one; you can balance a pencil briefly on its point, but it won’t stay there long.

        When the forces act slowly, it’s hard to identify stability by the result, but you can make guesses by the direction and magnitude of the forces involved.

      • GBJames
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        “…east Asian muslim nations are not affected.”

        Is Indonesia unaffected?

        Is Malaysia unaffected?

        Is India unaffected?

        Is the Philippines unaffected?

        Where exactly are all the unaffected East Asian nations you refer to?

        • Cindy
          Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          Islamic terrorism in China

          the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, whose aim is to the establishment of a fundamentalist Muslim state to be called “East Turkistan” and the conversion of all Chinese people to Islam,[72] operates throughout Central Asia and claimed responsibility for over 200 acts of terrorism from 1990 to 2001, resulting in at least 162 deaths and 440 injuries

          Political Islam *is* the religion of Islam. The religious and the political cannot easily be separated.

    • Albert Habichdobinge
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      The enlightenment and the age of reason were a consequence of the religious wars in Europe, when Christianity utterly disqualified itself as a moral authority. The destruction caused by these wars were immense. Let’s hope we do not have to go through the same process with Islam.

      • Cindy
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Let’s hope we do not have to go through the same process with Islam.

        Why should we be concerned about this? None of these attacks have anything to do with Islam! It’s all criminals, homophobia, guns or a reaction to colonialism!

        So why should Islam have to reform at all since the root of the violent reactions can be blamed on everything *but* Islam?

      • Scott Draper
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        “The enlightenment and the age of reason were a consequence of the religious wars in Europe”

        These views could never have been expressed if they were met by assassination and mass public protests.

      • Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. Maybe after a few more millions die, the Shia/Sunni wars will lead to the discovery of tolerance. Like you, I’d rather find another way, though.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Well, the papers are overflowing with descriptions (initiated by his astounded family, I note) of Bouhlel’s longstanding mental and relationship problems. But that is no excuse for the premeditating religion.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that Nawaz’s solution is the only one that’s viable in the long term. You can’t bomb militant Islamism out of existence, and national security can never stop all attacks.

    But the former is precisely what the data tells us is happening, modulo complete elimination, the self proclaimed “caliphate” is failing. (2014 was Daesh’s top killing year if UCDP statistics are correct; Daesh territory, economy, personnel and recruitment is dropping fast; bombings of personnel and installations has been part of the forcing of that.)

    And the latter is just one factor of suffering. Someone noted that the frequency of heart attacks, that can devastate families, is 30.000+ times worse. Modern medicine can never stop all attacks.

    That said, I think it is terrible with every factor of suffering that we can prevent, such as terrorism. (And bombing is problematic, despite its contributions in the current situation.) Nawaz’s solution may be the only viable prevention, it has a history of success, and it is an Enlighted way to proceed.

  17. Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  18. Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    I remember all those Yazidis on the hillside, murdered or sold into sexual slavery, apologizing for Zoroastrianism and its direct alignment with U.S. foreign policy.

  19. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    As soon as I heard of this attack, I thought of the attacks in Israel last year where terrorists were running into people on streets. There is footage of someone doing that to a bunch of people at a bus stop and it is really awful. My friend, who lives in Israel, emailed me at that time and said that she was going into Tel Aviv to go shopping with her daughter for a wedding dress and she was really worried. This is not like her. She witnessed acts of terror before and she always managed to go on without too much fear (though getting her “I’m okay” emails was a relief of fear from all her friends and family).

    So, when I thought of my friend, afraid to go shopping in Tel Aviv and the French, run down celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, I thought of what Sam Harris said and realized how right he was and is: “The truth is, we are all living in Israel; it’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.”

    • Posted July 17, 2016 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I think, however, that Israel will survive for much longer than European countries.

  20. Albert Habichdobinge
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    As long as Islamic clergy does not outright and vocally condemn any terrorist attack, perpetrated by Muslims or non-Muslims, as a crime and an un-Islamic act, but considers it a valid act of martyrdom in an alleged Jihad, Islam has to accept its share of the blame.

  21. P. Puk
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Islam hates everything and wants it all dead. How is there a way to reform this flavour of insanity?

    As bad as the Old Testament is there are no similar calls for death to infidels for all eternity.

  22. Posted July 16, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    But Nawaz’s main point holds: if this were a Catholic movement acting with the approval and direction of the Vatican, and Catholics engaged in repeated acts of mass murder in the name of their faith, nobody would have a problem calling it out, and blaming, at least in part, that faith. Imagine, for instance, that hospital after hospital that performed abortions was blown up, attacked, and its doctors murdered, all by Catholics, and in both Europe and the U.S. Can you imagine for a minute that the media would avoid mentioning Catholicism?

    I would disagree with this statement to a certain extent. For the best part of thirty years the I.R.A. committed acts of terrorism in Northern Ireland and on the U.K. mainland. The I.R.A.identified with the Catholic minority in the North. While not being directed from the Vatican (as far as I know) there were definitely priests who gave them succour. There was also a North American organisation called NORAID which supported them financially. I don’t remember any condemnation of them that specifically mentioned Catholicism other than from Ian Paisley and the like.

    • somer
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      but very few of the IRA leaders were religious and it was really about nationalism

      • somer
        Posted July 16, 2016 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

        Plus the very worst killing done by the IRA (or Unionists) was the IRA Omagh bombing which killed 37 people – in 40 or so years of conflict over NI. Compare to Islamists thousands killed in September 11, hundreds killed in Spain in same year, hundreds killed in France, 57 in London, 188 killed in Bali bombing, numerous instances of numbers similar to Omagh bombing killed in Western world. And as for the level of terrorist killings of civilians in the Muslim world its off the chart

  23. keith cook + / -
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Will jihad grow weary and die a natural death? Maajid Nawaz et al have a very workable solution to helping it on it’s way.
    Time will be the final arbitrator and that is the sad part to this humanist, people die violent and premature deaths for time to erode a kill doctrine of very little value.
    I liken it to a festering boil that needs to come to a head so the core can be extracted and lanced but I think, it will not be in my time.
    But, he says hopefully, something or someone could be an outlier, apply a poultice and draw this despicable era of Islamic killing to an end.
    For what’s it’s worth, Maajid Nawaz has my support.

  24. leonkrier
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Enlightenment Values

    Help me out here! What am I missing?
    I am entirely supportive of Enlightenment Values. However, Mechanistic Determinism and Incompatibilism has shown that “free will” does not exist (it’s an illusion at best). However, free will is one of the legs of the table of Enlightenment values. So the same line of argumentation of Mechanistic Determinism can be made against other Enlightenment values such as freedom, individual rights, democracy and choice of leadership. Therefore, are not these “values” as illusionary as free will? Does this not undermine our shared efforts to combat religious violence?

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      One of the greatest of all the Enlightenment values is a commitment to change one’s views as evidence comes in. Changing one’s view on free will (not political freedom, which is something else entirely) is an example of this (assuming it has been done rationally, etc.)

  25. Albert Habichdobinge
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I guess the big difference is that enlightenment values do not include the permission of killing people due to an unproven god concept.

  26. Posted July 16, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    The optimist in me hopes that there will be some great Monty Python like comedy sketches coming out of the Middle EAST in a hundred years, illustrating just how ridiculous these times are in areas in the world untouched by Enlightenment values.

  27. Dionigi
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    When you have societies that are religiously based and they are only moving forwards due to technology imported from the west and the people there see the west as having a much better lifestyle than them, they demonise the western society because they must be being helped by the devil.
    This is why they hate and rail against the west. I never met one Saudi who ever mentioned colonialism in their country.

  28. somer
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    According to various newspaper reports the perpetrator shouted Allahu Akbar as he drove and before he was killed by police so I would assume from that it was an Islamist attack

  29. Mike
    Posted July 18, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    According to the Islamic Hijri Calendar, we are living in the year 1437, ask yourself what the Catholic Church was doing to Heretics and Apostates in 1437. ? much the same stuff as ISIS is perpetrating now, and it may take a further 579 yrs for the Islamic Religion to be where Catholicism is now.

    • Posted July 18, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      After finally getting to watch Spotlight this past weekend, I’d contend where the Church is now isn’t that great either. But, at least we can rest assured the Catholic Church won’t be leading us into WWIII. Islam, on the other hand, certainly could. As Sam Harris has pointed out, a 7th century ideology with access to 21st century weapons could be very problematic.

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