After Paul Weston published his brief account of our role in the Counterjihad Brussels 2007 conference, several people have asked me to write a history of the Counterjihad movement.
As it happens, such a history was already in preparation at the time Paul wrote his testimonial, and had been for several months. It was written by the Counterjihad Collective, a group of people (including myself) who have firsthand knowledge of the history of the transatlantic Counterjihad.
The paper has just been completed, but it’s too long for one blog post. I’ll post it here in eight parts, broken up into its numbered topics, which are of varying lengths.
Many thanks to all the people who contributed to this project.
A Brief History of the Transatlantic Counterjihad
by the Counterjihad Collective
Over the past few years a transatlantic political and social movement that is now commonly known as the Counterjihad has gained increasing prominence. As it became more mainstream, it attracted attention from the legacy media, especially in Europe, where the debate over Islamization has made it to the pages of major newspapers.
The resistance to Islamization and sharia started long before September 11, 2001. The roots of the movement can be traced back to antiquity, since the first violent razzia against Christian civilization in the 7th century, under Mohammed and the early Caliphs. Successive jihad attacks destroyed the Christian cultures of the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of southern Europe. With each wave of Islamic invasion, Europeans became aware of Islamic ideology through its deadly praxis. Popes, Patriarchs, and scholars wrote about the nature of the Mohammedan aggression, and the necessity for resistance to it. European Christians massed forces to launch Crusades in an attempt to reclaim Muslim-conquered territories in the Near East for Christendom.
Moorish Islam was expelled from Spain by the Reconquista in 1492, and the tide of the Ottoman expansion was turned back at the Gates of Vienna in 1683. For the next two centuries European civilization was ascendant, as Turkish power gradually receded and disappeared from the Balkans and Greece. Europeans were technologically superior to Islamic cultures, and became the colonial masters of Muslims in North Africa, Asia Minor, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and the archipelagoes of the Indian Ocean.
During those years the ideology of Islam ceased to matter to Europeans, and the violent and expansionist doctrines of the Koran, the hadith, and the Sunna no longer drew much attention among non-Muslims. Occasionally a European writer — most notably Winston Churchill, in The River War — would analyze the barbaric, inhumane, and imperialistic ideology of the Mohammedans. By and large, however, the menace of Islamic violence, which had been intimately familiar to millions of Europeans for a millennium, was forgotten.
All that changed when the ownership of Middle Eastern oil fields passed from European and American corporations into the hands of Muslim emirs. Suddenly the Islamic world was awash with wealth. And, for the first time in history, all that bounty became available to Muslims without the necessity of conquest and slaughter.
The reality of Islamic economic power drew the attention of the West during the oil crisis of 1974. The satraps of Muslim countries were able to put a thumb on the petroleum carotid of Western Europe and bring European political leaders to their knees. In the ensuing years, the Islamic colonization of London, Paris, Marseille, Brussels, and Rotterdam began in Europe. The first urban Islamic enclaves formed in those cities and others, becoming the nuclei of the notorious no-go zones and sharia enclaves that have metastasized for the last three decades all across Western Europe.
Among Sunni Muslims the fundamentalist revival was spearheaded by a group known as Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen, or the Muslim Brotherhood. Founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood grew in popularity during the middle of the 20th century, even under official state repression by the Nasser regime. Al-Banna was assassinated in 1949, after which Sayyid Qutb took over the leadership of the group. Qutb was a prolific writer and theoretician, and his works inspired millions of Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East and beyond. By the time he was hanged in 1966, the Muslim Brotherhood had become a formidable force in Middle Eastern politics, even though it was banned. The stage was thus set for the oil-funded Islamic revival.
The current crisis began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. The origins of the Counterjihad may be traced to the writer V.S. Naipaul, who was the first prominent observer to understand what was at stake, and what lay ahead. He visited Iran and other Muslim countries in the wake of the Iranian revolution in an attempt to understand the Islamic awakening. The following report, from the hinterlands of Sind in Pakistan, presents the Islamic worldview in a nutshell*:
The maulana’s [religious teacher’s] room was more enclosed than the guest house, but not less bare. He had been lying down on his string bed; he sat up to talk to me. He was turbanned and bearded, an old man, but still vigorous, and not gentle. In the late-afternoon gloom, soon made gloomier by a very weak electric bulb, in the dust and bareness of his peasant setting, he was alive with a religious passion that was like malevolence: the passion for the true faith running, as it can easily run, into the idea of Islam in danger, the need for the holy war, the idea of the enemy.
He asked me about myself and my travels. I told him I had been to Iran.
He said, “Khomeini is a good man. He is Islamic.”
“Why do you say that?” I had expected him, so orthodox and fierce, to disapprove of Khomeini’s Shia Islam as a deviation.
He said, “He has banned women from appearing on television.”
This was all that he knew of Iran since the revolution.
He said, “We don’t have an Islamic government here.”
How could he say that? The government had ordered civil servants to break off every day and say their prayers It had legislated for Koranic punishments like whipping and stoning to death. It was talking of levying a Koranic tax, to be paid out to the poor as alms. The president had just made the pilgrimage to Mecca. What more did the maulana want?
He said, “They haven’t abolished interest in the banks.” The Prophet had outlawed usury; a banking system that depended on interest was not Islamic.
What kind of banking system did he want? How did he want the financial affairs of the country to be managed?
He didn’t know. He hadn’t thought about it. But he didn’t care. He said, “If Pakistan makes money in an Islamic way, everything will follow.” He was pleased with that thought — logic was one of the subjects taught at his school — and he repeated it slowly.
He was half a politician, a man of local influence; and in his criticism of the government there was no doubt some local or personal grudge. But he was not being disingenuous; he lived by his rules. His world had shrunk to a hut in a crumbling village. He was prepared for even that to crumble away further, once the faith was served.
Mr. Naipaul was prescient in his analysis of the ideological imperatives of Islamic doctrine, anticipating the rest of us by more than twenty years. His brief account includes the Sunni-Shi’a divide, jihad, the subjugation of women, barbaric Islamic punishments, sharia-compliant finance, and Islam’s theological indifference to the material well-being of its adherents. All of these issues are now routinely highlighted by 21st-century Counterjihad activists.
The Third Wave of the Great Islamic Jihad was further inflamed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which also took place in 1979. Over the next decade the United States covertly armed and trained the Afghan mujahideen as an anti-Soviet resistance force, laying the groundwork for what eventually became the Taliban.
Islamic violence intruded more and more on Western consciousness throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. The death fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, the Khobar Towers bombing in 1995, the African embassy bombings in 1998, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000: all of these served to increase public awareness of Islam’s propensity for violence, and forced Western political leaders to adjust their policies to take the new reality into account.
During these “prodromal” years in the 1990s, members of the Muslim Brotherhood quietly inserted themselves into positions of influence in federal, state, and local governments in the United Stares. Their new roles allowed them to exert subtle influence over the direction of American government policy vis-à-vis Islam. A parallel Brotherhood infiltration occurred in Western Europe during the same period, especially in cultural institutions.
These preparations left the Ikhwan fully prepared to neutralize any serious attempts by Western governments to deal with radical Islam within their societies. Brotherhood operatives developed a shrewd understanding of modern Political Correctness and Multiculturalism, which allowed them to exploit the weak spots in Western culture by invoking the shibboleths of “racism” and “xenophobia”.
Then came September 11th. Millions of people who had never paid any attention to Islam suddenly became aware of the destructive power that was inherent in its ideology. They began to educate themselves and talk to other people whose interest had been similarly awakened. They formed volunteer organizations, did research, and published articles. With the onset of blogging, anyone could contribute to the cause, and many thousands did.
Thus was the Counterjihad born.
In September 2006 the 910 Group was founded in a Gates of Vienna comments thread on a post entitled “The Emperor is Naked”. A collection of interested commenters, most of them Americans, joined the discussion and decided to form an activist group that would do more than just talk about resisting the jihad. The focus over the next few weeks was on organizing a movement that could actually initiate action against the encroachment of sharia in Western Society.
The British Counterjihad formed at about the same time as a reaction to the March for Free Expression in September 2006. The American and British activists soon encountered each other, and gathered under the 910 Group umbrella along with volunteers from Canada, Australia, and other parts of Europe, particularly Denmark.
In 2007 an expanded version of the group changed its name to the Center for Vigilant Freedom (CVF).
A year or so later CVF was folded into the International Civil Liberties Alliance, reflecting an extended network of associated groups. In addition to English, the ICLA website now publishes material in Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and German.
From its inception the purpose of the organization that eventually became ICLA was to facilitate alliances among existing groups. Its mission is to be a “network of networks”: to promote communication and common action among the various organizations that have sprung up since 9-11 to combat sharia and resist the Islamization of Western Culture.
The paramount goal of the Counterjihad is to reverse the encroachment of sharia (Islamic law) in the Western democracies. Sharia contradicts all Western constitutions, and is fundamentally incompatible with the rule of law as is commonly understood in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia. Because Islam is a unified system embracing religion, political ideology, and jurisprudence, preventing the establishment of sharia also serves to prevent the Islamization of countries with a substantial Muslim minority.
Thus the goal of Counterjihad groups is to stop the spread of sharia within their own societies. Activists realize that initiatives against sharia must be mounted on two distinct fronts: at the national level (in the legislatures and judicial systems of individual democratic countries) and in international bodies (the European Union, the United Nations, etc.).
The latter front is particularly important, since the EU and the UN are undemocratic and unaccountable to the people they purport to represent. The Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which functions as the collective expression of the world’s Muslim-majority countries, wields a disproportionate amount of influence at the United Nations, and vigorously pursues its sharia-based agenda there.
Coming up: Part II, “Conferences”
* V.S. Naipaul, Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey, Alfred A. Knopf, 1981, pp 92-93