I have been a longtime supporter of the National Civic Council founded by the late Bob Santamaria, arguably one of Australia's greatest intellectuals. I have stood outside churches selling copies of the NCC magazine, AD 2000. I have called on supporters selling raffle tickets and helping to raise funds for special projects. When I can I help with the fortnightly "wrap" of the NCC publication, News Weekly, readying it for mailing to subscribers.
This is why I am deeply concerned about the article "The Boston Marathon bombing in perspective" in News Weekly 11/5/13 by Pat Byrne, (not a relative of mine) Vice President of the NCC. I would have preferred to raise my concerns in the pages of News Weekly, but Pat Byrne has banned articles critical of Islam and of the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries from being published in News Weekly and AD 2000 - although the latter describes itself as "A monthly journal of religious opinion".
Not only are articles critical of Islam banned from NCC publications but even articles already published have been removed from News Weekly's website - apparently without the approval of the editor or the knowledge of the authors, in what could be described as a "slash and Byrne operation". (Remember, I am not a relative!) Articles that have been "disappeared" from the website in a policy reminiscent of the re-writing of history in the era of Stalin include those by Cardinal Pell, Rev. Mark Durie, Anglican vicar of St. Mary's, Caulfield, Victoria, who is an Arabic scholar and expert on Islam, Bill Muehlenberg of Culture Watch, Babette Francis of Endeavour Forum, and several writers with expertise on security matters. There is much talk of "intellectual property theft" in these days of Internet publishing; the removal of articles from websites without the knowledge or permission of the authors could be described as intellectual vandalism.
The explanation for these deletions as announced at the NCC's Annual Conference in February 2013 was that it was done to "protect the reputation of the NCC - we really have a good reputation". Whether the reputation of the NCC is superior to those of the "disappeared" authors is a moot point, but I won't belabour the issue. What is deeply worrying is that the NCC's stance on Islam mirrors that of the multicultural Left with whom the NCC has little else in common. It is tragic that the NCC, so perceptive in analysing the ideology of Marxism and the Greens, is failing to do the same with Islam.
The gravamen of my concern is Pat Byrne's statement that "...what is striking is the apparent rarity of such attacks [as the Boston Marathon bombing] following those of 9/11 on New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon". Byrne references the New York Times in support of his optimism - a source the NCC would generally regard as "Pravda on the Hudson" - at least until Pravda became right wing! But rarity? Here's a list of terrorism post 9/ll to jog Byrne's memory:
- The terrorist attack in the Moscow theatre in 2002 where 850 were taken hostage, 130 of whom plus 40 terrorists died.
- The Chechnya Beslan school massacre, 2004, in which 186 children and 148 adults were killed. The Boston bomber brothers were of Chechen origin and Russia warned the US about potential security concerns involving the older brother, but these were not acted on, possibly because of the Obama Administration's focus on political correctness, diversity and multiculturalism, and a refusal to acknowledge that most terrorists today are Muslims.
- The Madrid train bombing in 2004 in which 191 were killed and 1800 wounded.
- The London train bombing in 2005 in which 52 civilians and 4 bombers were killed and 700 injured, among whom was an Australian who lost her legs.
- Much nearer home, the Bali bombings: in 2002 (202 killed including 88 Australians) and in 2005 - 20 killed and 129 injured.
- The 2008 Mumbai bombing in which 138 Indians and 27 foreigners were killed. Most iniquitous was the selective slaughter of the Jews at the Chabad house Jewish centre in Mumbai. The rabbi and his wife were among those killed, she was 5 months pregnant. Their toddler son was saved by his Indian nanny. If only US deaths count, Pat Byrne should remember some of the Jews killed in Mumbai were US citizens.
- Of terrorism planned for the US, there was Richard Reid, the shoe bomber who in December 2001 tried to blow up a plane flying from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris to Miami in Florida, and the 2012 underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab, son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, who tried to blow up a plane with chemicals concealed in his underpants shortly before the plane landed in Detroit. (So much for the theory that terrorism is inspired by poverty). Abdulmutallab's father tried to warn various authorities that his son was a danger. This father is probably representative of the majority of Muslims who dislike terrorism but are powerless to do much given the inspiration in the Islamic scriptures on killing infidels, beheading apostates etc:
The Qur'an says "Fighting is obligatory for you, though you dislike it." [Sura 2:126]. The word in Arabic for fighting means "to kill." And it says also "I shall cast terror into the hearts of the disbelievers. Cut off their heads, and cut off their limbs." [Sura 8:12]
Indeed the inspiration for the Boston bomber brothers appears to have partly come from speeches made by a Sheikh in Australia, although our Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus assures us that the Sheikh has modified his views. How reassuring - but the brothers were also inspired by the utterances of Sheihk Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was killed by a US drone strike.
The Boston bomber brothers were helped after the event by three friends, two of whom are natives of Kazakhstan and one who is a US citizen, who helped conceal their "fireworks"and backpacks. So support for terrorism in the US is more widespread than Pat Byrne may realise.
- Then there is Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the army doctor who in 2009 in Fort Hood Texas went on a killing spree murdering 13 soldiers, including one who was pregnant, and attempted to murder 32 others. Although Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" while firing, the Obama adminstration has described his murders as "workplace violence". Like Pat Byrne, Obama prefers to think there is little Muslim terrorism in the US.
The above list of terrorist attacks does not include the many which were foiled, both in the US, Australia and other countries by the vigilance of security services. Some would-be terrorists in Australia have been tried and imprisoned. Nor does my list include the myriad acts of violence all over the world, like the kidnappings by Somali pirates, the insurgency in Mindinao in the Philippines, the murder of a Jewish rabbi, his two children and another child killed in France by a Muslim terrorist, the terrorist attack on the US embassy in Jakarta, the murder of a priest in Turkey and a nun in Ethiopia, the violence against Copts in Egypt, desecration of their churches and kidnapping of girls.
Recently there is a request accompanied by a veiled threat by the United Jihad Council in Kashmir that Christian missionaries should leave the region. (Remember that quote from Islamic militants: "First we will deal with the Saturday people [Jews] then we deal with the Sunday people".) And two Syrian Orthodox bishops have been kidnapped in Syria - one of them is in urgent need of medication for a heart condition and diabetes.
Not to be outdone, in the current Malaysian elections, Barisan Nasional, the political coalition that has governed Malaysia since its independence, has launched a billboard campaign with pictures of Christian churches. The billboards ask the majority Muslim electorate in the upcoming national election whether they want their children and grandchildren to pray in such places: "Vote Barisan Nasional because they can protect your religion, race, and nation," the billboard adds.
When Byrne writes about the few who have lost their lives in the US post 9/11 he should remember also those who have lost their limbs. Eight-year-old Martin Richard was killed in Boston, his sister lost a leg and his mother has a brain injury. I doubt if his father shares Byrne's euphoria about terrorism. There is a poignant picture on the internet of a poster
Martin made for his recent First Holy Communion - showing a host, a dove and an olive branch.
Pat Byrne has apparently overlooked the many hapless citizens of Pakistan like Aisia Bibi and Rimsha Masih on death row on spurious charges of blasphemy. The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Co-operation is currently trying to push through a universal law on "blasphemy" through the UN. This is all mainstream Islam - not Al Quaeda.
If Byrne is rejoicing that so few US citizens have lost their lives, I would remind him of the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three colleagues who were murdered in Benghazi in 2012 (allegedly because of an amateur video about the prophet Mohamed produced in California) but which actually was a well executed attack of terrorism. The day before he was killed Ambassador Stevens pleaded with the US Government to send him more security help, but his request was not fulfilled. Perhaps the US Government is suffering from the same euphoria as Pat Byrne about the infrequency of deaths from terrorism.
The reality is that a civil war is raging between Sunni and Shia in much of the Muslim world - there are weekly bombings and killings in Pakistan. Minority Muslim sects and non-Muslims are often collateral damage. We need to hope that a Islamic Mahatma Gandhi, an apostle of non-violence, will arise and inspire Muslims to abjure violence. The majority of Muslims are a kind and hospitable people who will often shelter neighbours (when they are not accusing them of blasphemy that is) from the violence around.
And sometimes there are inspiring people who give us hope that the world can be a better place - like Sandra Samuel, the Indian Catholic nanny who risked her life to save the Jewish toddler in the terrorist massacre in the Jewish Chabad House in Mumbai. She found him crying in blood-soaked clothes alongside the bodies of his murdered parents. She has been granted Israeli citizenship and has gone to Israel to look after Moshe until he is an adult. From the Talmud: "He who saves one life it is considered as if he saved an entire world".