Isis: the Origins of Violence, Tom Holland

ISIS: Origins of Violence

Tom Holland’s film goes to the Islamic roots of ISIS
Jennifer Taylor | May 17, 2017
https://providencemag.com/…/historian-tom-holland-film-goe…/

ISIS | Middle East & North Africa
On Wednesday night, historian Tom Holland—leading writer on the ancient world and author of no less than five award-winning civilizational epics—sticks his neck on the line.

He has made a film for Channel 4 TV in Britain—sadly not available yet in the US—about the Islamic State called Isis: The Origins of Violence that even he admits was “brave”.

In it he goes back to Sinjar in northern Iraq, the scene of genocide against the Yazidi people, escorted by a former SAS security advisor, and gets to within one mile of where ISIS fighters are based.

Fearful of abduction and standing by a mass grave of women considered too old to enslave, he evacuates the contents of his stomach. You don’t see that bit. Too gross.

But later he retches again in the stinking rubble, and the camera deliberately lingers on his misery.

Tormented by the unreality of a genocide sanctioned by a holy text but ignored by the West’s liberal intelligentsia, he believes only a changed sensibility will result in a desperately needed and more effective foreign policy.

And he believes that message is so urgent, only a graphic film can do justice to it.

Preaching

When the BBC’s Muslim Head of Religion, Aaqil Ahmed, said on a Huddersfield University platform last year that “of course ISIS are Islamic: they’re not preaching Judaism”, the story went viral, coming right after President Obama’s disavowal of the same notion.

But Holland, who is 49, is after more than a good soundbite in the media. He wants to change our whole approach to what’s at stake.

He tackles head on what is perhaps the last great taboo—the proscription against linking the Qur’an, the sacred text of a billion Muslims, with violence.

He does two things in the film, one as a historian, the other as a citizen. As a historian he examines the influence of Christian martyrdom on the tradition of Islamic martyrdom. And he goes to Paris to investigate the impact of the Enlightenment on the Islamic world in the age of Napoleon.

But as a person, he deliberately puts his own character into the story so that “you’re seeing what I actually think; what I actually feel.

“However much a historian may try to abstract him or herself from his/her individual feelings, and emotions and contexts, he is always a creature of them. That’s what a film can do. A book can’t do that”, he tells me.

Crucified

Holland travels to Jordan to speak to a leading Salafi who directly cites, to camera, the Qur’anic justification for the actions of ISIS.

“It had never crossed my mind that I would witness in the lands occupied by the Assyrians and the Romans, a campaign in which men were being crucified and women enslaved”, says Holland.

Yet the sanction for such behavior is in the Qur’an and being actualized as we live.

Ideology and terror combined to make other empires great, says the author of Persian Fire and Rubicon. And it also made the Islamic State great.

To defeat the group, you must defeat the ideology—as the new religion of Christianity eventually defeated the brute imperialism of Rome.

“Anyone who writes about ancient history and who revisits the primordial scenes of Mesopotamian civilization, who stares terror and violence directly in the face as directly as I did, cannot help but inform how one’s understanding of ancient imperialism worked.

“It was coercive, ideologically coercive. It was not just enough to commit atrocities, but those atrocities had to be justified with reference to God or to a ruler. And that terror is an essential part of conquest.’

That cannot remotely be countered by the evasive nostrums of liberalism, he believes.

“I am hoping we will be slightly less naïve in accepting that very very powerful and potent ideas are not all necessarily liberal!” he laughs.

“It is a liberal Protestant conceit that we have secularized, and it is grotesquely ill-suited to a religion that is as different to Western Protestantism as Islam.”

Unless that violence is stopped, it will spread, Holland wrote in an article last weekend for the Sunday Times, in which he likens it to the spread of cancer.

Unless Muslims construct what he calls “a clear and impregnable firewall between the Islam of those who find in it an affirmation of human dignity and the Islam of killers such as [the British medical student who exulted in the approval of God for the slaughter of Yazidis] Muthana, there is a risk the defeat of ISIS will prove to be only an episode in an ever-darkening cycle.”

A grim but real enough prospect.

For in one small home counties market town, nestled in the Chiltern Hills west of London, there is right now a Muslim in fear of his life for blowing the whistle on three imams who preached that the killer of the Governor of Punjab in Pakistan who defended Aasia Bibi on a contested charge of blasphemy, was a shaheed—a martyr.

None has been charged with incitement.

Instead the matter has been referred by the police to the local interfaith group.

Interrogation

Holland insists the West must be more robust “at every level” in its interrogation of what’s really at stake, in the same way people in Europe were obliged to interrogate nationalism and Darwinism after Nazism, and in the way that Christianity interrogated how the Gospels had fostered anti-Semitism.

“What’s needed is acknowledging the problem, at every level. I am just astonished there’s not more of an interrogation of that by Muslims predominantly. It’s their faith that is spattered with blood.”

Holland’s articulacy has won him a huge following and many awards, and in 2015 he was included among the Sunday Times’ 100 Most Influential People. Does he not fear he will be branded in some way for so negative a portrayal of Islam?

“Well it’s not illiberal to object to ideological genocide,” he says.

He received death threats after his first film Islam: The Untold Story, also screened by Channel 4. Is he worried about that?

“ISIS is Islamic which doesn’t mean they embody Islam. Islam is just a name we give to the vast agglomeration of perspectives that go by that name.

“You are morally obliged to ask, well, what’s within that tradition that has encouraged this rather than just burying your head in the sand and saying it has nothing to do with it whatsoever.”

It is something Europeans should be peculiarly sensitive to. European civilization after all gave us Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Locke, as well as imperialism and the Holocaust.

“It’s part of the continuum, but a measure of self-criticism is incumbent on a people whose culture has resulted in such crimes.”

Ironically, Holland, who is married with two children, believes that the kind of Muslims who issue death threats would not mind the film, as they are always being told they are not Muslims, whereas Holland is saying they are.

As for being called racist, “The irony is that in our anxiety not to repeat the sin [of racism] we are sanctioning a license to commit genocide.

“That even to criticize that license is somehow racist is a peculiarly grotesque paradox.”

Holland is unwilling to see himself as a prophet—historians no longer, unlike Gibbon, do civilizational failure, he says. But, on a more personal level, he is gloomy about the moral supremacism inherent in the rise of violent Islam.

“I don’t think there is anything inherent in human nature that implies we accept one another as equals.”

He tells of a Muslim journalist in Cairo who described a “civil war” within Islam between those who believe they are superior to the rest of humanity by virtue of being Muslim, and those who do not.

“There is no law that says that the supremacists won’t ultimately emerge triumphant. In which case, it’s bad news for everybody else. And we know as Europeans what the consequences of that will be.”

Isis: The Origins of Violence will air on Channel 4 on 17th May at 9pm. It has been made by Blakeway Productions, directed by Kevin Sim and produced by Kevin Sim and Alex Niakaris. The Executive Producer is Denys Blakeway.

Jennifer Taylor is a Bloomsbury author, a journalist, and founder of Lapido Media, Centre for Religious Literacy in Journalism, the first religious literacy charity in the world. Based in London, she did her doctorate on Islam and de-secularization in Britain at the School of Oriental and African Studies under Professor Grace Davie. She worked with theologian Bishop Lesslie Newbigin for ten years until his death, co-authoring his posthumous Faith and Power: Christianity and Islam in Secular Britain also with Professor Lamin Sanneh of Yale University.

Photo Credit: Historian Tom Holland in Sinjar during filming for Isis: the Origins of Violence. Source: Channel 4.

Further material connected to Tom Holland:

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/tom-holland-delivers-the-christopher-hitchens-lecture-from-hay-festival-2015/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/in-the-shadow-of-the-sword-global-empire-and-the-rise-of-a-new-religion-by-tom-holland/

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/islam-the-untold-story/

 

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Erdoğan’s Turkey, now challenges Khomeinist Iran for the title of the Middle East’s most dangerous regime

 

Two Bullies, Putin and Erdoğan, Try Friendship

by Daniel Pipes
Australian
December 23, 2016

http://www.danielpipes.org/17135/two-bullies-putin-and-erdogan-try-friendship

[N.B.: Australian‘s title: “Erdogan cosies up to Putin as Turkey makes trouble.”]

The assassination on Dec. 19 in Ankara of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, raises some major geopolitical issues: Will this act of violence break relations between the two countries, isolate Turkey, or – counterintuitively – improve their ties? And does this murder affect the Middle East and the world beyond?

Turks and Russians have a long and complex history that starts with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the Russian dream to win it back for Orthodox Christianity. The two states fought twelve major wars in the 3½ centuries between 1568 and 1918, had a flurry of good relations under Atatürk and Lenin which went south with Stalin, improved substantially in 1991 upon the Soviet Union’s dissolution, then subsequently plummeted (2015) and revived (2016).

One depiction of the siege of Constantinople in 1453. Continue reading

Israeli Fires and Irish Skirmishers by A.J. Caschetta The New English Review

In an article yesterday I suggested that the Salifi project was not that foreign to Irish people in that an exponent of it was O’Donovan Rossa put forward this strategy of hit and run attacks which were to include civilians. In her magisterial book, The Seven published earlier this year Ruth Dudley Edwards alludes to this strategy on page 16 of her book.

https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/reflections-on-the-salification-of-germany/

 

“Self aggrandising, alcoholic, wildly indiscreet and prone to helping himself to funds, Rossa was set on sending waves of ‘skirmishers’ to England to slaughter, cause widespread panic and set the English against the Irish in their midst. His plans included the assassination of Queen Victoria, the poisoning of the entire House of Commons and the indiscriminate bombing of civilians.”

Last year this was the person the Irish state commemorated as a true patriot and it kicked off the commemorations which celebrated 1916. Patrick Pearse the exponent of this cult of death built his authority having given the oration at the funeral of Rossa.

Related image

 

The Catholic Church endorsed this cult of death this year in suggesting that the Rising was of a deeply Christian nature. This was expressed by both the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin and by Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin. Continue reading

Reflections on the Salification of Germany

 

A response to the Gatestone Institute report on radical Islamists in Germany.

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9614/germany-saudi-arabia-qatar-kuwait

 

“Declining to assimilate in the West continues with the apparent, religiously mandated, preference to have the host countries become Islamic.”
As Tom Holland has shown the actual shape of Islam is dependent on Byzantine Christianity. The notion of Christendom and Christian States is still held in the USA and Europe. Germany has state supported Churches. Can you blame Muslims for believing they have as much right to change countries into Islamic States? First of all there are no Christian states or nations. There are only Christians within each State. We must get rid of mind set of Christian Europe and see our states as secular as soon as possible. George Igler calls for assimilation for Muslims living in Germany. This is an unacceptable demand and must be resisted by all who believe in human rights. Assimilation leads to the loss of one’s own culture and identity. Anyone coming to any European country must integrate and respect the constitution of that state. Anyone attempting to set up an Islamic enclave using the device of Sharia law as a minority and seeking to undermine the constitution of that state must be expelled. We can’t have Apartheid Islamistans in our midst. However, religious freedom must be protected. This documentary gives a good insight into this issue. Continue reading

Holy Wars a documentary contrasting the Islamist world of Khalid Kelly and the Evangelical Pentecostal Missionary Aaron Taylor

Khalid Kelly argues there is no such things as moderate or extreme Islam there is only Islam.

Prime Time – 13/12/2016. Richard Downes examination of Khalid Kelly, the Dubliner who became Ireland’s first suicide bomber. A very Irish story from Terry to Khalid Kelly.

Prime Time - 13/12/2016

Khalid Kelly, born Terence Edward Kelly  (1967 – 4 November 2016), also known as Abu Osama Al-Irlandi and Taliban Terry was born in the Liberties and was an Irish Muslim convert and at one time the leader of Al-Muhajiroun in Ireland.

Kelly was once a nurse. He was jailed in Saudi Arabia for making alcohol and transporting a large quantity of Johnnie Walker. Like Yvonne Ridley, he converted to Islam after being imprisoned in Saudi Arabia in 2000. He has a daughter who lives with her non-Muslim mother as well as two sons, Osama and Muhammed.

In November 2016 he was reported to have blown himself up on the orders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during the Battle of Mosul (2016)

This RTE documentary is an appropriate documentary to end the 100th Anniversary of 1916. Khalid Kelly‘s radical transformation from bootlegger to Islamist mirrors our own history of Proclaimist violence. When the Republic was proclaimed by the 7 signatories it was assumed that this entitled them to breach the laws of democracy and to open fire on anyone they wished. The evil Empire of Britain was fair game. You will note how Khalid took the same view when gave support to the Islamist project. We have grown weary of analysing our own violent origins but Khalid in a gentle way mouthed this same ideological perspective.

His final photograph as the programme shows is on the one hand an expression of despair and commitment but there is an air of uncertainty as if as the programme concludes he had boxed himself into death. Not as the valiant defender of Mosul but rather his world ended as T.S. Elliott puts it not with a ‘bang but a whimper.’ He goes not to a triumphant meeting with the virgins in paradise, but rather to the hell of his Christian origins. Continue reading

Gulen organisation is keeping a low profile

IMAG0059The Gulen organisation has gone underground in Dublin. Turkish Irish Education Society. They are now on Marlborough Street, south and to left of North Earl Street.

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