Christchurch

A few of my thoughts about the terror attack in Christchurch New Zealand.

The question has been asked why NZ?

The fact that the alleged perpetrator was Australian and had far rightwing, racist allegiances is very relevant to that question.
Political rhetoric in Australia in recent years has developed an ugly racist element. The Guardian article linked below gives a lot of detail of that.
Also see the link to an earlier blog post of mine that refers to the foolish Christian involvement in support of that political direction.

Added to that atmosphere is the difference in gun laws between close neighbours Australia and New Zealand. Many years ago the Australian parliament passed laws that prohibited the kind of fire arm used in the Christchurch attack.

Those guns are legally available in New Zealand, making an attack like the one on Friday easier to carry out against Muslims in New Zealand than it would be in Australia, where the type of weapon used would not be easily obtained.
Combine the Australian political climate that has given traction to far right racist dogma together with the availability of semi-automatic weapons in nearby NZ and I can understand “why New Zealand”.

Yesterday I noticed that the Sunday Telegraph front page had a large photo of a small child, one of the victims of the shootings. The major headline read “Peace Be Upon You” – a common Muslim religious phrase that is used to greet or say farewell to others.

The Sunday Telegraph is one of the Murdoch papers referred to in the Guardian article. The Murdoch press has regularly given a platform for strong anti-Muslim rhetoric from commentators in their weekly columns and I believe that has been instrumental in fomenting a political climate that makes far right extremism more likely.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/17/australians-are-asking-how-did-we-get-here-well-islamophobia-is-practically-enshrined-as-public-policy

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/danny-nalliah-false-prophet-and-political-agitator/

From Baghdad Burning blog, Sunday, September 11, 2005

From Baghdad Burning blog, Sunday, September 11, 2005

It has been four years today. How does it feel four years later?

For the 3,000 victims in America, more than 100,000 have died in Iraq. Tens of thousands of others are being detained for interrogation and torture. Our homes have been raided, our cities are constantly being bombed and Iraq has fallen back decades, and for several years to come we will suffer under the influence of the extremism we didn’t know prior to the war.

As I write this, Tel Afar, a small place north of Mosul, is being bombed. Dozens of people are going to be buried under their homes in the dead of the night. Their water and electricity have been cut off for days. It doesn’t seem to matter much though because they don’t live in a wonderful skyscraper in a glamorous city. They are, quite simply, farmers and herders not worth a second thought.

Four years later and the War on Terror (or is it the War of Terror?) has been won:

Score:
Al-Qaeda – 3,000
America – 100,000+

Congratulations.

https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com.au/2005_09_01_archive.html#112647459352403679#112647459352403679

(After clicking on the link, scroll down to post from 11 Sept)

The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and 9/11

The Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and 9/11. Dr. Nabeel Jabbour interview – Part 2

This is part two of the series of interviews with Dr. Nabeel Jabbour, continuing his history of modern day Islamist extremism.
Here he shows how the events touched upon in the last audio led to Al Qeda and the attacks of September 11, 2001.

From the Zwemer Centre for Muslim Studies:
http://www.zwemercenter.com/zwemer-podcast/page/6/

How ISIS Began in Colorado

How ISIS Began in Colorado (interview with Dr. Nabeel Jabbour – Part 1)

The next few posts will be audios from the Zwemer Centre for Muslim Studies.
http://www.zwemercenter.com/

They are a series of interviews with Dr. Nabeel Jabbour about the origins an influences behind the rise of present day extreme Islamism.

The roots of this extremism stretch back to surprising places.

I had recently come across a lot of the content of this particular audio from a “secular” source on ANB radio
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/what-he-saw-in-america:the-violent-legacy-of-sayyid-qutbs-visi/7795158

Understanding Jihad

Part One: The Heart of a Jihadist

Youssef had just graduated from university and was returning to his home country in the Middle East. He had arrived in Europe eager to promote Islam and gain a western education. It was at university he first encountered sincere disciples of Jesus who were willing to share their beliefs and friendship with him. As his relationships with them grew, so did his curiosity about the Messiah. Youssef eventually gave his life to Christ and exchanged his radical views of fundamental Islam for the meekness of a risen Savior.

Now it was time for Youssef to move on. He was leaving Europe with a new education, but more importantly, a new purpose in life. Determined to share Christ with his family and friends, he had decided to return home. This concerned his Christian brothers and sisters greatly. Youssef’s father was a high-ranking political figure in his home country. As a child, Youssef had been invited to observe quietly as his father held important meetings in their home with men like Osama bin Laden.

Youssef’s Christian friends implored him not to go back and suggested other ways he might effectively share the Gospel. The risk was high, and they worried for his life.

Youssef looked at them squarely in the eye and said, “As a young boy, my mother sat me on her knee and stroked my hair as she whispered, ‘My son, one day you will strap a bomb to yourself and become a glorious hero for Allah.’ Since I was a child, I have been prepared to die for God. But now, I know the God I am dying for. His name is Jesus, and He died for me.

full article here:
https://www.crescentproject.org/articles-blog/2017/5/4/understanding-jihad-part-one-the-heart-of-a-jihadist

Part two is here:

https://www.crescentproject.org/articles-blog/2017/5/5/understanding-jihad-part-two-the-creed-behind-the-cruelty

See also:

It is important to protect communities we live in. The only way we can do that is to meet Muslims in our communities and share the Gospel with them. The Gospel will change their lives…

…Christians must resolve to move beyond the anger and fear incited by the media and obey the command of Jesus who said, “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age,” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Abundant life does not mean you live in the United States of America or own a fancy car. It means you have been saved, forgiven, and the Holy Spirit is guiding you throughout your life.

As Christians, we can invite the Muslims in our communities to enter this abundant life through Jesus the Messiah.

https://www.crescentproject.org/articles-blog/2017/5/5/will-jihad-ever-end-an-interview-with-the-president-of-crescent-project

as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone

I see this as a continuation of what I wrote in my earlier post a hate-speech whirlwind, particularly with regard to the bible reference quoted in it.

1 Cor 5: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

 

Consider the content of the talk in this video. Compare and contrast its message with common Christian attitudes and behaviours towards others.
Does it concern you (even before listening to it) that the talk is given by a Muslim woman?

 

The Muslim on the Airplane: Amal Kassir

 

After taking some time to make the above mentioned comparison and contrast, consider how often commonly expressed and displayed Christian attitudes live up to the content of this scripture excerpt:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

“I Am Not A Number”

I Am Not a Number: A Refugee’s Tale: Nujeen Mustafa

Also:

Escape from Syria

Today, 1 in 113 people are refugees. In fact there are over 21 million refugees or asylum seekers world wide, and over half are under the age of 18.

Born with cerebral palsy, 16 year old Nujeen Mustafa had barely left her family’s fifth floor apartment her entire life. But in 2014, as a member of Syria’s Kurdish minority, was forced to flee the violence in Aleppo. Christina Lamb tells the remarkable story of being a handicapped child refugee who nevertheless used her optimism and skills with the English language to negotiate with border police and authorities, and finally reaches Germany.

From here:
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/nujeens-escape-from-syria/8575370

A Few Thought About Recent Events

 

Yet another terrorist attack in the west, and who knows how many more outside of western interests where these things are not as rare or infrequent as they are closer to home? (At least one in Indonesia reported today 25th May)

And not unexpectedly, the murderer was a deranged Muslim extremist expecting to get fast-tracked to paradise. Imagine the disappointment on arriving at his eternal destination.

the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Rev 21)

I can see at least two of those labels are clearly relevant to that deluded young man (cowardly and murderer) and possibly more.

 

At these times debates always arise about the nature of Islam. There are inevitable contradictory contrasts presented, with some declaring Islam a religion of peace, others that it’s a religion of violence and hatred.
While arguments fly, with people taking one side or the other, equally valid arguments could probably be made for both views.

 

Firstly, most Muslims are probably no less peace loving, peace desiring than the majority of non-Muslims. They just want to get on with their lives, taking care of their families in safety and security. They are Muslims because they were born into a Muslim family and follow the rituals and practices they’ve been taught. There would be little difference between them and their attitudes and those of most western “Christians”, except the Muslim often has a much more developed daily awareness of their god than the majority of westerners (even church goers) and are often far more devoted to their beliefs than a great number of professing Christians. And remember, it is only in recent decades that the Muslims among us have become targets of suspicion. Previously they lived  among us with little cause for concern, and Christians need to resist  demonising the people no matter how we view the religion they’ve been brought up to follow.

 

Moving to the other side of the argument, we only have to look at those nations where Islam dominates and see how it affects their laws, their governments and the lives of their people. Those nations include some of the most openly brutal and intolerant in the world, often responding to perceived lawbreakers with violent punishments, and dealing harshly with those alleged to have been insulting to Islam. All of that is justified by appeal to Islamic teaching.
Those who insist on portraying Islam as violent need only to point to those nations, and also highlight those parts of the Koran that justify the harshness in those nations – the parts that teach intolerance for and retribution against “the infidel” (or non-Muslim) and the lawbreaker. And parts of the Koran can make that an easy argument to prosecute. It is to this view of Islam that the terrorists belong, seeking to bring down those outside of their particular religious view of the world.

 

However is pointing out Koranic violence the wisest argument for Christians to make, when it is equally easy to turn the accusatory finger to point the other way?
The Bible itself isn’t free of violence commanded by God. God given Law also demands lethal and violent punishment (some punishments the same as in the Koran, which partially draws on the older scriptural writings that preceded it).
It can be non-productive and unhelpful, to make arguments against Islam citing violent instruction in the Koran, that can equally be levelled against Christianity and Judaism through citing the old and New Testaments.

 

So is there any difference? Are Judaism and Christianity any less condemnable that Islam for having violence at their heart (as provable from the evidence of their holy writings)?

I say there is a difference.
The unfolding message of the Bible is different. There is an ongoing purposeful development throughout. The Bible presents a history of God’s relationship to mankind, showing where we came from, through to God’s ultimate purpose for us.
The Bible starts with God’s creation of the universe and the planet where we live, and how he populated it with an incredible variety of living things, culminating in man and woman.
It tells of how His perfect creation was tainted by the introduction of sin (rebellion) and continues with an unfolding account of God’s means of restoring the relationship between God and man that was lost through that initial rebellion.

 

The violent events recorded in scripture fall within the context of that developing history of fallen mankind struggling with a Holy God of perfect justice. A history that continues to unfold, heading towards a complete renewing of creation. In fact a totally new creation where only righteousness can dwell, a creation free of the hatred and violence that became the inevitable result of man’s rebellion against God.
It will be a new creation, a new heavens and earth populated only by those who have chosen to be willing followers of God through the gift given via His Son Jesus.

 

And that is the difference I see – that there’s an end purpose; GOD’s purpose, where the continuing cycle of men’s violence and other corrupt actions are stamped out, and God’s ways become man’s ways.

 

There’s a reason why we are told that the enemies we face aren’t flesh and blood. That we don’t wage war as the world does. And yet Christians often go against that instruction and put hope and trust in, and support, man’s violent military solutions to the evils of groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their blind foolish followers. Support that can take on a misplaced patriotic fervour. Support for military action often conducted against relatively small groups who have established themselves in poor, vulnerable and insecure nations, or nations MADE insecure by earlier military action. Military action that exacerbates the problem and supercharges the recruitment drive of the enemy “we” are intended to defeat, to the extent that it’s “our” purpose that is defeated and not the enemy “we’ve” been fighting.

 

And while they turn their military might against the nations unwillingly harbouring terrorists – our governments continue to align themselves with gulf state sheikdoms, particularly Saudi Arabia, home and supporter of extremist Islam; who have thrown hundreds of billions of dollars into exporting the extremists Islamist ideologies that we allegedly want to destroy.

And why is that the case?
Indian researcher Professor Brah-ma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi says:

“Money is the main reason why the United States in particular is unwilling to break its longstanding alliance with the gulf sheikdoms.”
(http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/saudi-arabia-responsible-for-worlds-terrorist-ideology/8553832 )

 

As the title of this article says, this post expresses a FEW thoughts about recent events.
There’s probably a lot more that could be said to add to the topics I’ve touched upon. Some of the subject matter is far more complex than many people like to think, and therefore I’m not sure whether I’ve clearly expressed some of the things I wanted to say. I just hope I’ve made enough sense to take a glimpse beyond the glib political and religious rhetoric we tend to be bombarded with through various mass media, so we can avoid the same feelings and expressions of hatred that we accuse others of harbouring.

A Blast From The Past: Chemical Weapon Use.

Before Trump, there was another evangelical favourite. Here is a tribute to part of his legacy.

__________________________________

 

US criticised for use of phosphorous in Fallujah raids
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent November 9, 2005

A leading campaign group has demanded an urgent inquiry into a report that US troops indiscriminately used a controversial incendiary weapon during the battle for Fallujah. Photographic evidence gathered from the aftermath of the battle suggests that women and children were killed by horrific burns caused by the white phosphorus shells dropped by US forces….

The 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons bans the use of weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus against civilian – but not military – targets. The US did not sign the treaty and has continued to use white phosphorus and an updated version of napalm, called Mark 77 firebombs, which use kerosene rather than petrol. A senior US commander previously has confirmed that 510lb napalm bombs had been used in Iraq and said that “the generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect.”

http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2005/051109-phosphorus-fallujah.htm

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Conventional Terror…

Image after image of men, women and children so burnt and scarred that the only way you could tell the males apart from the females, and the children apart from the adults, was by the clothes they are wearing… the clothes which were eerily intact- like each corpse had been burnt to the bone, and then dressed up lovingly in their everyday attire- the polka dot nightgown with a lace collar… the baby girl in her cotton pajamas- little earrings dangling from little ears.

Some of them look like they died almost peacefully, in their sleep… others look like they suffered a great deal- skin burnt completely black and falling away from scorched bones.

The Pentagon spokesman recently said:

“It’s part of our conventional-weapons inventory and we use it like we use any other conventional weapon,”

This war has redefined ‘conventional’. It has taken atrocity to another level. Everything we learned before has become obsolete. ‘Conventional’ has become synonymous with horrifying. Conventional weapons are those that eat away the skin in a white blaze; conventional interrogation methods are like those practiced in Abu Ghraib and other occupation prisons…

Quite simply… conventional terror.

https://riverbendblog.blogspot.com.au/2005_11_01_archive.html#113218124805731713#113218124805731713
scroll down to entry for Nov 17, 2005.

_______________________________

 

 

US used white phosphorus in Iraq

 

 US troops used white phosphorus as a weapon in last year’s offensive in the Iraqi city of Falluja, the US has said.

“It was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants,” spokesman Lt Col Barry Venable told the BBC – though not against civilians, he said.

The US had earlier said the substance – which can cause burning of the flesh – had been used only for illumination.

BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says having to retract its denial is a public relations disaster for the US.

 

Col Venable denied that white phosphorous constituted a banned chemical weapon.

Washington is not a signatory to an international treaty restricting the use of the substance against civilians.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4440664.stm

 

________________________________

The US used chemical weapons in Iraq – and then lied about it

George Monbiot
15 November 2005

 

White phosphorus is fat-soluble and burns spontaneously on contact with the air. According to globalsecurity.org: “The burns usually are multiple, deep, and variable in size. The solid in the eye produces severe injury. The particles continue to burn unless deprived of atmospheric oxygen… If service members are hit by pieces of white phosphorus, it could burn right down to the bone.” As it oxidises, it produces smoke composed of phosphorus pentoxide. According to the standard US industrial safety sheet, the smoke “releases heat on contact with moisture and will burn mucous surfaces… Contact… can cause severe eye burns and permanent damage.”

Until last week, the US state department maintained that US forces used white phosphorus shells “very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes”. They were fired “to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters”. Confronted with the new evidence, on Thursday it changed its position. “We have learned that some of the information we were provided … is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, ie obscuring troop movements and, according to… Field Artillery magazine, ‘as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes…’ The article states that US forces used white phosphorus rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds.” The US government, in other words, appears to admit that white phosphorus was used in Falluja as a chemical weapon.

 

 

We were told that the war with Iraq was necessary for two reasons. Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons and might one day use them against another nation. And the Iraqi people needed to be liberated from his oppressive regime, which had, among its other crimes, used chemical weapons to kill them. Tony Blair, Colin Powell, William Shawcross, David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Ann Clwyd and many others referred, in making their case, to Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. They accused those who opposed the war of caring nothing for the welfare of the Iraqis.

Given that they care so much, why has none of these hawks spoken out against the use of unconventional weapons by coalition forces? Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who turned from peace campaigner to chief apologist for an illegal war, is, as far as I can discover, the only one of these armchair warriors to engage with the issue. In May this year, she wrote to the Guardian to assure us that reports that a “modern form of napalm” has been used by US forces “are completely without foundation. Coalition forces have not used napalm – either during operations in Falluja, or at any other time”. How did she know? The foreign office minister told her. Before the invasion, Clwyd travelled through Iraq to investigate Saddam’s crimes against his people. She told the Commons that what she found moved her to tears. After the invasion, she took the minister’s word at face value, when a 30-second search on the internet could have told her it was bunkum. It makes you wonder whether she really gave a damn about the people for whom she claimed to be campaigning.

Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/nov/15/usa.iraq