but non-muslims are pretty judgemental eh?
My comments are dispersed below.
The NZ Herald reports:
"An Auckland man has pleaded guilty to possessing, making and distributing extremist Islamic videos which featured footage of people being beheaded and burned alive. Imran Patel, 26, admitted the charges at Auckland District Court this afternoon, just hours after 27-year-old Niroshan Nawarajan became the first person in the country to admit such offending."
"It can now be revealed that just over a year ago Patel was jailed for 10 months for holding a large knife to a driver's throat and threatening to kill him while yelling an Islamic exclamation.
Patel gestured to the driver then ran across the road and held a knife - measuring 20cm - to the driver's throat yelling, "Allahu Akbar" [Allah is the greatest - sic. "greater"], and, "I'm going to kill you motherf***er".
And only six weeks before that incident, he was convicted for intimidating a former New Zealand Muslim Association president at his Sandringham home, where one man allegedly yelled 'jihad will start from here'."
It seems there was a difference of opinion concerning a split in the Avondale Mosque and perhaps the wider Islamic leadership in NZ when some more moderate and some less moderate Muslims argued over the Mosque's theological direction.
So far so professional - the Herald is just reporting the facts. Just what we should expect. Well done Herald.
However our friends at Stuff cover the story with a different slant. Stuff doesn't mention the previous knife incident and the cries of "Allahu Akbar" and "Jihad". Instead they seem to think it their duty to shine the light on the failings of New Zealanders in these prosecutions.
Stuff adds to its report the opinions of two academics:
"Experts say the active curation and distribution of such material is often the starting point of radicalisation. It has raised questions by security experts about how to deal with what could be the first hints of home grown New Zealand radicalisation.
Professor Richard Jackson, deputy director of the National Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, said overseas evidence suggested that a heavy-handed response to expressions of anti-Western sentiment or young people exploring radical ideas could be detrimental.
"There is evidence that that does contribute to further radicalisation. It creates the sense that Muslims are unfairly targeted, because there have been cases where right-wing extremists, or Christian extremists, don't get that same type of treatment, they're treated much more leniently.
"[T]he active curation and distribution of such material is often the starting point of radicalisation" - I suggest to Prof. Jackson that the real starting point of "radicalisation" is the Qur'an and the Sunnah (the authorised words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad containing the Hadith and to some extent the Sira). Islam's primary texts as authoritatively taught by its top scholars throughout the centuries and today are the real "starting point of radicalisation".
Oh and may we please have the specifics of the cases of these "Christian extremists"? I have been following Islam for 20 years or so and have been a professing Christian for 35. In that time there have been many jihad attacks, both actualised and thwarted, based on the sacred scriptures of Islam and the example & words of the prophet Muhammad. But I cannot recall a single attack from a "Christian extremist" nor can I recall any propagation of "Christian extremist" materials or videos based on the New Testament or the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. I would be surprised, no astonished, if Prof. Jackson could provide a single concrete example. On the other hand if he means to suggest that by definition right-wing extremists are somehow "Christian" simply because they are American, European or White he is making an unfounded and sweeping generalisation. Perhaps he was alluding to the fact that in the understanding of many Muslims all Westerners are Christians. That's the best explanation, his intention was too nuanced for the reporter and was unclearly represented in the article. Otherwise it is merely sloppy thinking, something I can't imagine someone is his position engaging in.
"There's also a sense that if you're a Muslim, you're not allowed to be vocally critical of Western foreign policy whereas a sort of white person can easily do that without falling under suspicion."
More imprecision: all Muslims are now non-white.
We should also understand that many Muslims start from a point of view of being victims. Common Islamic conspiracy theories compare with the best the West can produce: "it's the Catholic Church, it's the Jews it's the Freemasons". A common Muslim perception is that there has been "a centuries long attack on Islam and its followers" that has resulted in Muslims "being held down" and Islam and its magnificent prophet being slandered. This is a part of the mindset of many Muslims growing up in New Zealand today. Many start off from the position that NZ society is out to get them.
Jackson said: "We live in a post 9/11 world where the authorities have taken the view that it's better to be safe than sorry so even when people make jokes or out of anger make statements that in context we wouldn't take seriously, because they think there might be a one per cent risk they sort of clamp down on them."
Is there any other religion associated with the terrorism in anything like the same way since 911? Is there any other religion that has pressed on when numerically capable and set up its own parallel justice system - Sharia courts? Apart from the Yazidis - themselves a syncretistic religion that started as a branch of Shi'a Islam which remains tiny in number and is mostly geographically localised - is there any other religion that has a formal death penalty for those who leave the religion or even draw cartoons of their prophet? Therefore, is it too much to suggest that if people give this particular religion a bit more scrutiny it is only because we have noticed that it produces some bad things? By the way - in the West today we have people making jokes (or drawing cartoons) about this religion and "out of anger mak[ing] statements that in context we wouldn't take seriously" who are themselves being prosecuted very effectively under Western laws. Look no further than Tommy Robinson (UK), Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn (both Canada).
Security expert Dr Paul Buchanan agreed locking up the two men in prison could be detrimental.
"There is fairly strong evidence throughout Europe, North America and to some extent here that people do, if not get radicalised in jail, certainly get more hardened. Whatever criminal propensity they have, a lot of people come back a lot more hardened than before and rehabilitation stories are few and far between."
However, authorities had to also protect the public and took threats like this seriously.
Dr. Buchanan is quite right in this. Prison populations consist of a far higher percentage of Muslims in Europe and Britain than the general population, sometimes multiple times higher. Much of this is due to the pressure put on inmates to convert to Islam or face the often violent consequences. We should all be disturbed that it is also happening here.
Is it too far-fetched to suggest that such people as Nawarajan & Patel, who consider themselves in a very real sense soldiers of Allah fighting under the banner of the Islamic State - an entity that has declared war on the West and NZ, should such soldiers of Allah be treated as Prisoners of War and placed in POW camps? Not indefinitely, just until until the war is over as is the normal practise. Separated from the rest of the prison population & unable to "radicalise" or even proselytise the kaffirs (unbelievers) or munafiqun (Muslim hypocrites), their terms of imprisonment would also not then lead to the extension of the total religious war they themselves say they believe they are involved in.
Jackson also warned it was important media took great care in reporting the case responsibly, as it could cause xenophobia and also add to radicalisation as Muslim fears that the West hated them seemed to be confirmed.
"It is a bit worrying, because to be honest the media has not been that responsible in reporting on these types of issues...and [it] contributes to that broader social anxiety.
"There is a strong well-spring of public opinion out there that Muslims, as a group of people, are inherently dangerous and this will confirm that and lead to more calls to restrict immigration and perhaps expel people from the country."
Now I hope that we are all old enough to know that the media isn't what it used to be. Many news outlets do now seem to require stories to be written with a bit of sensation - that is to say written in varying degrees irresponsibly and unethically - in order to grab our attention. Now having said that, if it was not for the fact that New Zealanders, on an almost daily basis, are confronted with one form or another of Islamic supremacism somewhere around the world - including terrorism done in the name of Islam by Muslims - perhaps "public opinion" might be a little more charitable towards Muslims as a whole. I once more hasten to point out, I agree with Jackson here: Muslims per se are NOT the problem. The problem is Sharia and those Muslims who wish to follow and implement Sharia, such as these two Islamic State supporters.
The Stuff article ends with a few paragraphs of the now obligatory statements of peace and good will from a NZ Muslim leader. Well done that leader – we all thoroughly support you and your efforts. But… we’ve seen a major fracture along theological lines in the Avondale Mosque which we imagine may also be present in other mosques (see my previous post on at least one another “radicalised” NZ mosque here), so we have to ask: What concrete structures are being put into place to teach against this problematic form of Islam in your mosques? This form of Islam is, we are constantly reassured, actually nothing like the true, peaceful and loving Islam, so it should be easy to debunk and obliterate. No doubt all your efforts are going towards this end. But how exactly are you planning to do it? What courses are there set in place to teach that this form of un-Islam is heretical? I imagine there is a well thought out response being put in place – what is it? It would be nice if our media followed that question up.
In conclusion, one can't help note the emphasis Stuff gives the story and what they have chosen to leave out of the coverage (see previous post: "Boy" in alleged Australian ANZAC Day terror plot: Or: How not to report the glaringly obvious). No mention here of the knife to the throat, Allahu Akbar or Jihad. Why not? It all seems pertinent. It seems that Stuff is again bending over backwards to avoid any connection whatsoever between these men, the religion they so proudly follow and the prophet they so completely serve. To the exclusion of basic and relevant facts of the case. To the exclusion of the men's own testimony. To the general detriment of the NZ public's understanding of what the threat really is. But to the inclusion of hinting that non-Muslims who harbour genuine concerns about dedicated Sharia-compliant followers of the prophet actively working in our country are probably xenophobes and as much of a problem as the jihadis themselves.
Not good enough.