open your eyes
Unfortunately, over the twenty-odd years I have been a student of Islam, Sharia Law and Jihad I have had to expose myself to a great many harrowing images, videos and accounts of those who suffered under the devout followers of the prophet. These have turned me into something of a grizzled veteran. In the days surrounding the Christchurch attack we've also seen 120 Nigerian Christians murdered with Guns and machetes. There's also been a Cathedral bombed in Jolo, the Philippines, killing 30. The perpetrators of these acts were Muslims.
I've had to sit down with my wife and coolly discuss whether I really intend to go on discussing Political Islam because there is always a likelihood of something happening to us. It may have seemed unlikely to most people that something might happen to us in New Zealand, but now I hope those people have caught up with the game. You see attacks like these have been going on for a long, long time.
I understand that as New Zealanders we are focused on the dreadful events here, but it seems to me that the continuation of what has been since 911 over 34,000 such acts perpetrated by those who call themselves Muslims and who rely solidly on sacred Islamic texts and have the blessing of Islamic clerics passes almost completely unnoticed by us. Why is that? One can only hope that a new era of sympathy in my country will arise as we become equally outraged over similar atrocities regardless of where in the world they are or who it is that undertakes them.
But honestly - that's just not going to happen.
Time to grow up
Over the years I've studied Islam and followed the unfolding jihad I've seen some harrowing sights.
- homosexuals killed by being thrown alive into a burning pit, others were thrown off tall buildings (these were Muslims);
- (Muslim) women stoned to death for adultery or blasphemy (these were particularly traumatic for me to watch);
- the hands of thieves being cut off (yep, Muslims);
- scores of Syrian soldiers with hands bound being them shot in the back of the head and their bodies dumped into the Euphrates by the Islamic State (again, Muslims);
- Ahmadi Muslims being beaten to death with Bamboo poles in Indonesia because they weren't "real Muslims";
- church shootings bombings, including suicide bombings, in Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere - where the sanctuary was covered with blood from the shattered and dismembered bodies of the elderly, pretty young women and innocent children;
- the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi which lasted several days and during which people were mutilated with knives and machetes, in addition to the women being brutalised in the usual fashion, their eyeballs, lips, ears, noses were removed. Little kiddies were split open with knives and thrown into walk-in freezers to die alone in the freezing dark or thrown off the top of the Mall roof onto the concrete below. A woman had her hand cut to a point to resemble a pen and she was ordered to write her name with her own blood. It was said that Kenyan security forces demolished the building over the heads of everyone inside - tormentors and tormented alike - because after several days of increasing torture they could no longer stand the deafening sounds of agony.
One experience that has made a great impact upon me was the Mumbai attack, which included a Jewish hospitality house where the terrorists tortured that poor young family to death and butchered the children in front of their parents before brutalising the woman in front of her husband and then slaughtering the husband. That woman, who was 5 months pregnant, had her baby cut out of her. The walls of the large room where they did this were literally covered with blood up to shoulder height as was every square inch of floor. The terrorists took a couple of hours to do all this. I've never seen anything so hellish.
I would often come to bed at night weeping like a small child and my wife would lay beside me and pray for me until I could close my eyes to sleep. So please, don't tell me that I don't care about this particular group of human beings in Christchurch. I do. The reason I'm going into all this unusual (for me) detail about the atrocities I've witnessed is that I think you have now grown up enough to be exposed to them. A man walks into a place of worship and murders as many people as he can in the name of his ideology. Friends, this is almost a daily occurrence in the rest of the world. This is what you must face up to.
So I find myself assuming the role of the old soldier sitting the young fellas down in the middle of their first battle and giving them some even older advice: "Calm down. Pull yourselves together. For God's sake think! If you become emotional you will make mistakes, people will suffer. Your mates will suffer. Keep your head."
But the people I'm talking to won't listen to me. Emotions have taken over & even though they are making themselves and everyone else even more vulnerable to destruction it doesn't matter, I just can't get their attention.
What about those 120 Nigerian Christians killed by Muslims in the name of their prophet the last week? You didn't hear about it? Or maybe you did and it just didn't register. The media didn't spend much time on it, if they noticed it at all, and if the media don't think it's important well, it can't be important. People can't hear. They can't see.
In my country we haven't seen very much of this sort of brutality - there was the matter of a young Muslim convert in Christchurch last year who was narrowly prevented from driving a vehicle over people and stabbing them. Fortunately he was stopped before he could act. He was ordered to receive supervision from the Muslim community in Christchurch. At the time I wondered if the supervision had anything to do with the Al Noor Mosque and if so, how risky such supervision might be. The Al Noor mosque which, it was reported, was responsible for "radicalising" two male New Zealand converts to Islam subsequently linked to al Qaeda & killed in a drone strike in Yemen. The Al Noor mosque which was the scene of dozens of deaths last Friday.
This was not a religiously motivated attack
Despite suspicions or statements to the contrary this was not a religiously motivated attack. Tarrant was not a Christian and he didn't have any interest in Christian theology or the theology of the people he killed. All he could see was the colour of their skin and that Muslims had been responsible for many attacks & rapes in "White" lands. He viewed Muslims as part of a growing threatening demographic that would displace "White" people from their lands. But he changed his target from a Dunedin mosque to Al Noor mosque and its daughter mosque in Linwood because he suspected - with some reason - they were training grounds for jihadis.
In fact, in his manifesto Tarrant states that one of the reasons he chose this particular mosque was because of its past radical associations. But this brings me to a major point: This was not a religiously motivated attack it was almost entirely racially motivated. In his Manifesto he answers the question "Are you a Christian?" by stating "That's a good question. When I know, I will tell you." He ended the document (as he started his video) by saying "See you in Valhalla." Valhalla is not a Christian concept. According to Nordic legend Valhalla was the place where the souls of the virtuous dead were transported by the Valkyrie after dying in battle. He only entertained the question of whether or not he was a Christian because that was the religion of his "White people" for hundreds of years not because he held any faith in it himself. He was a follower of Odin, not Jesus.
Though the NZ Police have quite rightly said anyone who distributes Tarrant's manifesto will be prosecuted, I have read the thing and it states he has no interest in Islam as a religion; he couldn't care less about Sharia law or Islamic theology. He chose that mosque because it had a large concentration of non-white people on what he considered white man's land and saw it as a centre for the civilisational attack he perceived on "white" people. It was overwhelmingly a racial attack. Similarly he intended to attack the Ashburton mosque - to which it seems he was travelling when he was arrested - because it was in a converted church which he took to be particularly symbolic of the capitulation of the "white" West before an invading force of non-whites.
I read that a survivor of the mosque attack said he lay there for a while waiting to be shoot, but thought "I'm not afraid, I will be a martyr." But no, he wouldn't be. Tarrant wasn't killing these people for the sake of Islam or Muhammad or Allah, his main motivation was the colour of their skins.
His Manifesto outlines his concerns centre around demographics & the replacement of the Whites. Interestingly he constantly referred to non-whites as "Invaders". When I read that I was reminded of a film I recently saw, Black Panther. In that film a white man in the black hero's homeland was repeatedly referred to as "Coloniser" and told to keep silent. It concerned me at the time and it concerns me even more now that this attack has occurred. A bit of public outrage might not be amiss here: why is it OK to "other" and stigmatise all white people based on the worst possible skewed view of history but not at all OK to do the same to non-whites? This is a distinct blind spot.
What was he after?
And this brings us to the point of the attack. Tarrant's objective was to turn us against each other. Certainly in New Zealand the attack seems to have done the exact opposite. People are pulling together, donating money to the victims and getting alongside their Muslim neighbours to support them. When I've given public talks about the dangers of Islam in the past I've mentioned that there may well come a day when Christians like me will have to stand in front of ordinary Muslims to protect them if society turns evil. I have a couple of Christian friends who work overseas with the Persecuted Church. They've seen it all - terrible loss and brutality suffered by Christians simply because they are Christian. Overwhelmingly the suffering has occurred in Muslim majority contexts. If anyone should feel bitter and angry at every Muslim for this it should be them. But no, they live in Christchurch and visited some Muslim neighbours, taking food and flowers to comfort them. They all wept together. My friends followed Christ's core teaching to love God with all their hearts and love their neighbour as themselves.
Tonight I'll be going to a public prayer vigil in the Blenheim central square. On Friday I intend standing outside where the Muslims gather for their Friday meeting where I imagine others will also be in solidarity. These people are not the enemy. These people are our neighbours, they need our support. Many New Zealanders view them in this way. People are coming together to bring something good out of the tragedy.
Don't give the terrorist what he wants
However, in the longer term we are going we are going to get exactly what the terrorist wanted. He wants a large scale division between races, economic levels, religions - every possible fracture will be stressed. Do you really want him to win? Are you going to see him set a trap for you in plain sight and still insist on walking into the thing?
But if we're pulling together how can I say he's going to win? Here's how.
The mid-term effects are going to be exceedingly grim. Already I've heard Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch saying that he expects his website to be closed down in the next few months. Others will follow if this happens. The purge of "hateful bigotry" will begin. But this is to completely miss the point.
Look at this: In his manifesto Tarrant makes the same observations that many of us in the counter-jihad movement do (read that again, it's "counter-jihad" not "anti-Muslim"), for example:
- there is a large movement of people into the West who are not adequately vetted - violent & supremacist Muslims are among them;
- there are an increasing number of Islamic no-go zones appearing in Europe;
- the Muslim rape gangs in Rotherham and other areas in England were ignored if not protected by authorities, Police and politicians because of the worry of Islamophobia & racism while the victims were forgotten;
- There have been many egregious attacks by Muslims in the West: on New Years Eve of 2016 a large number of women were gang raped by largely Muslim immigrants, this event was covered up by Police and media until it was forced into the open by its sheer scale; the Manchester Ariana Grande concert attack was perpetrated by Muslims; a couple of main motivators for him was the murder of Ebba Akerlund by a Muslim and he used a photo of the body of a child with a doll next to her who was killed in the Nice truck attack which was conducted by a Muslim;
- he noted the history of Islamic aggression against the West, going back to the invasion of Spain and that the French leader Charles Martel drove out the jihad advance at the Battle of Tours/Poitiers in 732 and he was aware of the history of white slavery undertaken by Muslims over a period of several hundred years that took about one million white slaves out of Europe from as far away as Iceland & Norway.
All these are simple facts and not unsubstantiated racist slanders.
However he then made the cardinal error and did exactly what so many people accuse those in the counter-jihad movement of doing: he attributed the problems to race and missed the real issue which is the ideology.
He named the popular Youtuber Pewdiepie in his video partly because he was using a common internet meme from a few weeks ago when Pewdiepie was competing for the top YT spot with an Indian channel: "subscribe to Pewdiepie." It's an esoteric reference intended for an "in" crowd. There is also though the intention to smear Pewdiepie with his actions and turn a large part of our culture against this perfectly ordinary - and innocent - person.
Same with the reference to Candace Owens in his Manifesto. He claims she's too extreme "even for my tastes". Is Candace Owens an altright white supremacist? Candace Owens is a young black American lady who came to some prominence because she is telling everyone in her black community to stop thinking like victims and take responsibility for improving their lives. She has the potential to do a lot of good in that community and even to reshape the political landscape in America by bringing people of all races together around commonly agreed principles. So in his mind, she has to be turned into the opposite of what she actually is. She is also a Black in a "White" land and so he hates everything about her.
The thing that those of us on the counter-jihad front have emphasised is that Political Islam, Sharia Law and the orthodox teachings of the prophet are the real enemy and they have no skin colour. I found the livestream of Tarrant's attack online and found myself muttering "What are you doing? What are you doing? They are not the enemy." Tarrant observed the same phenomena as those in the counter-jihad did yet arrived at a completely different conclusion: We see the ideology as the enemy, he sees all non-white people as the enemy.
In this he is diametrically opposed to everything that we stand for and have ever advocated.
People need to think, to calm down and stop pointing the finger at people like us. Go to my blog or Jihad Watch or Mark Durie's website or Raymond Ibrahim's website or, yes, anything that Tommy Robinson has said or written and find a single instance of an incitement to violence against Muslims. You won't find any. That's because we don't see Muslims as the problem, we see them as the first victims of the real problem - the religion of orthodox, traditional, scriptural Islam.
Ignorance and backlash
I have a friend who was a missionary in Indonesia for several years. He predicts we will have some Muslims from there visiting us in the next few months. Some posts on social media have already appeared from jihadis promising retaliation. We should expect this and decide in advance if an attack on a church should occur - what shall we do about it?
Already there has been some disturbing misinformation coming out about the attack from those who are expected to provide the public with trustworthy information. Disappointingly, publicity has been given to some "experts" that is only going to push a jihadi retaliation.
When I heard about the attack I thought "well, at least nobody can blame Trump for this one." But no - one of our New Zealand academics has indeed stated that Trump's rampant racism and the assistance he's wittingly or unwittingly given to the "alt-right" have contributed to this attack. Reference has been made in a article to President Trump's "Muslim ban." Although the wording is carefully crafted to note his intended was made when he was a candidate, the author neglects to note that when the ban was implemented it was modified to apply only to a handful of countries which were deemed, by former President Obama no less, to pose significant security threats to America. That the list of countries was predominantly Muslim majority simply reflects that - as the 34,000+ jihad attacks since 911 demonstrate - followers of the prophet pose a large threat to non-Muslim peoples.
So what are the "experts" saying about the attack?
Stuff carried this article: Warning signs of terror attack in New Zealand have been apparent, experts say. In it we read the opinions of three experts:~
"For a long time [New Zealand] has assumed that this extremism is not here, but it is," said Massey University Centre for Defence and Security Studies counter-terrorism expert Dr John Battersby. "The internet is causing this, the echo chambers of the internet where people with extremist views can get together and listen to each other and encourage each other. We have been warning about this for some time."
So far so good. I've been warning about it being here for a long time too. And the internet is providing opportunity for people to meet with like-minded people and stimulate their direction and involvement - whether that be in a healthy or unhealthy way.
Distance was no protection from from the rise of global extremism, with the flourishing of the right in Europe, and US President Donald Trump and the alt-right in America emboldening potential terrorists, he said.
Oops. What Dr Battersby takes as a rise in right wing extremism is viewed by ordinary Europeans, Brits and Americans - as well as this particular Kiwi - as a rise in frustration with dynasty political and media supported by academics who are detached from people's ordinary lived experiences. Ordinary people have observed the increasing number of no-go zones, the rapes, the Muslim rape gangs (up to one million girls in England alone according to one lady Labour MP, but such gangs perform as well in Holland and Finland), the treatment of gays, the territoriality and the terrorism.
After decades of totalitarian control ex-Eastern bloc countries have been particularly aware that their EU leaders in Brussells are telling them that there is no problem other than your refusal to embrace such Muslims when they themselves know that they've treated them just like any other immigrant and that this particular group of people seem to be a problem wherever they go. Politicians and the Police under their direction, academics and news media have all - with the best intentions we're sure - conspired to obfuscate and continue to endanger their own people. It is not necessary to be alt-right or neo-Nazi to notice this.
There are undeniable problems with Muslim populations wherever they are throughout the world. The root of these problems is in their religion.
Dr Battersby discusses guns and then this:
Battersby said New Zealand security services had always had an awareness the threat could be homegrown.
It's a small point, but this wasn't a home grown problem. Tarrant was an Aussie. I think he was speaking before Tarrant's nationality became known
Dr Paul Spoonley is the author of Politics of Nostalgia: Racism and the Extreme Right in New Zealand. He said Christchurch has long been a hotbed for white supremacists and the extreme nationalist movement...
I'm going to attribute the use of the word "hotbed" to the journalist here, I doubt Dr Spoonley would employ such an imprecise term.
Far-right groups were particularly attractive to young, working-class males, he said. "They feel as though they are losing their place as the dominant group and their culture is under attack from multiculturalism. What's happened since 9/11 is there's been this big international conspiracy theory that Muslims are the major threat. "They think 'they're undermining our culture and identity and also physically attacking us so we've got to fight back.' The type of things these people think and write about ethnic and religious minorities are truly dreadful and hateful."
Dr Spoonley, 34,000+ jihad terror attacks world-wide since 9/11 is not a "conspiracy theory." The fact that people are noticing this sort of thing isn't because there's a problem with them. On the contrary, while our media, politicians and academics continue to say that "there's nothing to see here" the piles of corpses tend to distract us. As I said above, concert bombings, rape gangs and the political and media cover-ups excusing these things is what people are noticing. People are also noticing that anyone who raises their voice with these concerns are often targeted by Police and/or targeted by social media in order to be silenced. This is the cause of the monster that has been created.
This far-right extremism had noticeably grown in New Zealand in the past couple of years, Spoonley said. He pointed to the popularity of Islamaphobic commentators like Stefan Molyneux, who had planned to speak here in August last year. At a free speech rally in July, after mayor Phil Goff refused to let Molyneux speak at a council venue, protesters were holding "Free Tommy" placards, Spoonley said. This refers to Tommy Robinson, a violent anti-muslim activist in the United Kingdom. "It feels very counter to New Zealand political culture, but I've done enough work over enough years to know that there are some very extremist groups and individuals who are always capable of it. "
Stefan Molyneux is "far right"? Or perhaps merely "Islamophobic"? I'd better not read too much into this, but the statement as reported pushes us towards the conclusion that the "Islamophobic" Molyneux feeds the far right. Well most New Zealanders would like to comment on this, but they can't. Because they weren't allowed to hear what he had to say and have to take the word of people like Phil Goff who certainly can't quote anything "Islamophobic" that Molyneux has said because he's never attacked Muslims just the ideology.
The comments on Tommy Robinson are distressingly ill-informed. He has a violent past - which he readily admits - included in this violent past were the occasions where he beat up genuine far-right neo-Nazis for attending his rallies. He hates the ideology of these people. But we're not going to hear that from Dr Spoonley.
How we reacted will be a test of our culture, Spoonley said. "We have to accept there is an issue we need to work on in our communities, which is social cohesion and respect, and the rise of online hatred. This is us echoing what the rest of the world has been experiencing for some time."
By all means work on social cohesion and respect, however the real issue here is the threat of Sharia compliant, orthodox, historic, scripturally based Islam. If we insist on continuing to treat the symptoms we are going to end up like Bradford or Luton or Dearborn or Malmo. All the time wondering what more we can do to ensure the happiness of our Muslim neighbours while the many genuine Westernised Muslims among them are too afraid to speak up for fear of their more zealous brethren.
Now we get on to the most excruciatingly ill-informed of the three experts' opinions from the aptly named Dr Pratt.
University of Auckland Professor Douglas Pratt is an international expert in religious terrorism and the author of Religion and Extremism: Rejecting Diversity. He said the language, phrases and world-view of the suspected Dean Ave gunman's manifesto pointed to this being a form of Christian terrorism. "This is not simply political, it is a deeply-engrained religious extremism. These people act on the premise that Muslims are the people to be feared because they are seen to be extreme, and this would be considered a pre-emptive strike."
This is imprecise, sweeping, unprofessional and unscholarly. With it he stigmatises an entire religion with apparent ease. I wonder if he ever uses the term "Islamic terrorism"? Or would that be unjustified profiling and "othering" of hundreds of millions of people? But we can do this to Christians though eh? This statement will upset every single Christian that reads it. It is an abominable libel and it only serves to destroy any regard the followers of the world's largest religion might have had for anything Dr Pratt goes on to say.
I mentioned above some Christian friends who showed love to Muslim neighbours based on Christian religious texts. That's what we Christians call "Christian Extremism" Dr Pratt. As I said, Tarrant does not identify himself as a Christian in any but the broadest strokes. He's some sort of "Christian" merely because Europe is, or used to be, some sort of "Christian" continent. He looks forward to Valhalla, not the Christian heaven.
Dr Pratt's statement here is categoric and unequivocal: This is not simply political, it is a deeply-engrained religious extremism. The man knows nothing of Tarrant. The best I can do is postulate that he has not seen the video as I have. But this makes his idiocy even more flagrant. How could a genuine academic expert offer intelligent commentary without seeing those things? The answer may be written before us.
Once again, according to Tarrant's own statements he hates non-whites in what he considers white land. He doesn't mind them is they're in their "own land" - he likes them just fine there - but not "over here". He didn't go to Syria to fight ISIS as he could have, and perhaps should have, done. He came to slaughter a peaceful people in a peaceful land in order to drive all non-whites out of the West. Dr Pratt embarrasses himself. Again, Tarrant observed the illness but mis-diagnosed the solution. He rejected the war of ideas he should have engaged in and followed the Devil down the road of hating people instead.
"As we become more secular religion goes more underground, including extreme forms of it. I was expecting at some stage it would manifest in a violent act."
Again, who exactly is a "Christian extremist"? Mother Teresa? Billy Graham? The Vicar of the Anglican church down the street who has dedicated their life to studying the Faith, preaching about Jesus and helping everyone they can with the love of God? No. Some racist with a grudge and a gun. Amazingly unprofessional. Just stupefying.
We are all White supremacists now
So why are those concerned about the rise of Islam and the decision of many Muslims not to integrate into Western life being looked at as part of the problem? We can't stand what Tarrant did. We utterly disagree with his conclusion. And we are convinced that given the opportunity we can diffuse the bomb ticking away in our midst. The problem now is: we are running out of time. The response to Tarrant's actions are going to be ill-considered and self-defeating. I can see that in New Zealand there will be no middle ground, which is just what Tarrant wanted. I can see things gearing up for it now. Either you want uncontrolled immigration of unvetted Muslims & voice no criticism whatsoever of the perfectly observable & verifiable problems that will likely follow or you're the kind of person that Tarrant based his actions on. A fear-mongering xenophobe one step away from ripping the hijab off a Muslim woman on a bus.
The problem isn't white people any more than the problem is all non-white people. The problem is Tarrant's ideology. We know what his ideology was - we don't have to guess - he wrote a Manifesto explaining everything. It is this ideology and people who follow this ideology that are the problem. Not all White people, or White Australians. Similarly we know the ideology of Islam. It's written down and settled. All but peripheral issues have been totally uncontested by Islamic scholars for several hundred years. It's in the Qur'an, the Hadith, the Sira, in the Tafseer commentaries on sacred scripture and in the books of Sharia Law. All these are easily available for anyone to read.
For goodness sake read them. Get upset about them, get angry with them. Your local Muslims, most of whom - in my experience - are not at all familiar with their contents are not the problem. Tarrant wrote down his worldview and plan. So did Muhammad. Confront the ideas. Break the plans. Leave the people alone. The real enemy is in the realm of ideas.
As I said the other day and will keep saying: the reason this attack occurred was the refusal by politicians, academics, by the Police & other authorities and by the Social Media platforms to allow honest and informed discussion of the real issues. We have brought this down on our own heads, but if we don't get command of ourselves RIGHT NOW we risk losing it all.
Escape the Bird Box
Recently there was a TV film put out called Bird Box which showed the world being overrun by some sort of demonic beings able to force anyone who saw them commit suicide because of the terror of gazing upon them. People hid inside or covered their eyes if they ever ventured out because to see them meant death. However there were some people who were able to look at them and not die, but we found that these people were already insane murderers and so couldn't be driven made by the spectacle. The problem is they think the demons are wonderful and want everyone else to see them too. So instead of being friends and potential saviours they are the enemies of everyone else. I get the impression that this is where we have got to in the area of public discourse around Islam and Muslims.
People like me are now conflated with Tarrant - we're the madmen who can gaze on the horror and not be affected because we love it. Ordinary people are in the process of convincing themselves that they must not look into the problems surrounding Islam or they will be led astray and destroyed. They must not listen to people like me, perhaps we are the demons themselves who whisper to them in the familiar voices of loved ones to "take off the blindfolds" and look. But the reverse is true. Keeping on the ideological blindfold will not protect you. Having the courage to confront your fears and the dominant worldview will. Being informed and able to discern what the problem is will in fact protect you and yours, not destroy you.
Somebody said a long time ago that "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."
Is that true or not?
If we persist in this infantile view of the world without nuance, without knowledge, without even the intention to discover then we will fall.
Worse than that, we will deserve to fall.