Monday, 17 January 2011

Any suggestions?

Christopher Hitchens on fine form about what he calls "the hideousness of Islamic jihadism", and in particular its unpredictability:


Amid all our loose talk about Muslim "grievances," have we even noticed that no such bill of grievances has ever been published, let alone argued and defended? Every now and then an excuse is offered, but usually after the bomb has gone off in the crowded street or the "offending" person has been eliminated. Sérgio Vieira de Mello was murdered, and the U.N. offices in Baghdad leveled along with him, because he had helped oversee the independence of East Timor. Many Australian tourists in Bali were burned alive on the same retrospective pretext. Or it could be a cartoon. Or an unveiled woman. Or the practice of the "wrong" kind of Islam—Ahmadi, for example, or Shiism. Or the practice of Hinduism. Or the publication of a novel. But the sinister, hateful thing about all these discrepant "causes" is precisely the fact that they are improvised and to a large extent unpredictable. That, and the fact that no effort is ever made to say precisely why the resort to violence is so immediate and its practice so random and indiscriminate.


Of course, it's easier to pose the question than to work out how we can deal with it. Hitchens was writing in the wake of the murder of Salmaan Taseer by the fanatic Mumtaz Qadri and the extraordinary reaction to it: the outpouring of support from religious and political leaders in Pakistan for the murderer. That incident ought to remove all doubt that a virulent and corrosive poison has infected the body of Islam - mainstream Islam - in many of its historic centres and will not be expelled by warm words, concessions, self-abasement or more "understanding". There are many Muslims with fine intentions and a peaceful disposition, but even the scholars among them are now powerless to do anything about the hotheads. Even by speaking up they risk their lives. I feel for them, but they are not the solution. I increasingly worry that there is no solution. Islam is doomed, and much of human civilisation with it.

Any suggestions?