Meet the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence debate on Islam

  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5728

    Jan 18, 2015 11:47 PM GMT
    Meet the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence debate on Islam


    The campaign began, at least in its modern form, 10 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a mini-United Nations comprising the world’s 56 countries with large Muslim populations, plus the Palestinian Authority — tasked then-Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with combating Islamophobia and projecting the “true values of Islam.” During the past decade, a loose honor brigade has sprung up, in part funded and supported by the OIC through annual conferences, reports and communiques. It’s made up of politicians, diplomats, writers, academics, bloggers and activists.

    In 2007, as part of this playbook, the OIC launched the Islamophobia Observatory, a watchdog group based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, with the goal of documenting slights against the faith. Its first report, released the following year, complained that the artists and publishers of controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad were defiling “sacred symbols of Islam . . . in an insulting, offensive and contemptuous manner.” The honor brigade began calling out academics, writers and others, including former New York police commissioner Ray Kelly and administrators at a Catholic school in Britain that turned away a mother who wouldn’t remove her face veil.

    ...Alongside the honor brigade’s official channel, a community of self-styled blasphemy police — from anonymous blogs such as and to a large and disparate cast of social-media activists — arose and began trying to control the debate on Islam. This wider corps throws the label of “Islamophobe” on pundits, journalists and others who dare to talk about extremist ideology in the religion.

    ...The official and unofficial channels work in tandem, harassing, threatening and battling introspective Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere. They bank on an important truth: Islam, as practiced from Malaysia to Morocco, is a shame-based, patriarchal culture that values honor and face-saving from the family to the public square. Which is why the bullying often works to silence critics of Islamic extremism.

    ...The OIC helped give birth to a culture of victimization. In speeches, blogs, articles and interviews widely broadcast in the Muslim press, its honor brigade has targeted pundits, political leaders and writers — from TV host Bill Maher to atheist author Richard Dawkins — for insulting Islam. Writer Glenn Greenwald has supported the campaign to brand writers and thinkers, such as neuroscientist and atheist Sam Harris, as having “anti-Muslim animus” just for criticizing Islam.

    ...Charlie Hebdo is not the only evidence that, to self-appointed defenders of the faith, a call to kill the message can very easily become a plan to kill the messenger. In January 2011, a security officer for the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, Salman Taseer, assassinated him after Taseer defended a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. In court, supporters laid flowers on the shoulders of the assassin in approval.

    Murderers like him would be much harder to radicalize in a climate that welcomed debate about Islam rather than seeking revenge on its critics. But in so many Muslim communities now, saving face trumps critical thinking and truth-telling. This is why reform from within Islam is so difficult. In my experience, if you try to hold the community accountable, you’re more likely to be bullied and intimidated than taken seriously.
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    Jan 19, 2015 1:20 AM GMT

    " if you try to hold the community accountable.."

    And therein lies the rub. You can't. It's like holding Christians here responsible for the Christian militias in central Africa that massacred Muslims last Feb.
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5728

    Jan 19, 2015 6:27 AM GMT
    There is certainly nothing positive to be said about the "Lords Resistance Army" (which I think perpetrated the massacre your reference). But it is a group of 250 terrorists with no international backing. Not exactly comparable to ISIL, numbering 25,000 or 50,000 or more (and presently ruling over 8 million people).

    While most Christians didn't condemn that (primarily because they didn't hear about it, because it happened in Africa - just as we don't hear much of Muslim terrorists in Kenya doing a "selection" between passengers on a hijacked bus and executing only those who can't cite verses from the Quran), I think any person who heard about it would immediately condemn it. They won't deflect with "why should I condemn it?".

    Surely, though, if Christian terrorism were a worldwide phenomenon (rather than almost entirely limited to one tiny corner of the world that is largely deemed irrelevant), how much debate would there need to be about it within the Christian community... and how likely is there to be, let alone be successful, an organized campaign to stifle such a debate (assuming it even necessary)?
  • mwolverine

    Posts: 5728

    Feb 06, 2015 5:53 PM GMT
    Breaking the silence

    This is great and exactly what is needed (rather than circling the wagons or claiming the brothers' actions in Paris and Boston had nothing to do with Islam or that they were just individuals fascinated with violence who watched too many video games, let alone while simultaneously claiming they were politically/ideologically "provoked"):

    Brooklyn Imam Tareq Yousef Al-Masri: