The Rev. Patrick Sookhdeo, an expert on Islamic history and politics, directs the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity in London and the Barnabas Fund, a charity…The following are excerpts from a talk he
gave Sunday in Fairfax County.
I think we have a greater problem in Islam than we realize. Much as I understand why politicians in the U.S. and UK have made the kinds of affirmatory statements they have made, I think time will show they have
made a mistake.
In dealing with Islam, you have to tell the truth. And you have to meet it head on. It understands power and only power. And so you have to know how to exercise power. I believe we face a much greater threat from Muslim communities within our own countries than we realize…
…With the advent of Islam in the West, the Western countries have to come to terms with a minority and they didn't know how to do it because of civil liberties. We have got societies that are strong liberal democracies. Our own legal framework stops us from dealing with extremist religion.
Historically, Islam has never learned to live as a minority because its basis exists in power…
…I think we must drive Islam to have a reformation, which is what Salman Rushdie is saying, that Islam unreformed will be brutal and barbaric…
…If I say the history of the West has been infinitely superior to that of the Muslim world; that freedom, democracy, human rights and religious liberty have come out of Christianity and the West…
As Red Cross officials prepare to inspect the U.S. Navy base in Cuba where 50 al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are being held, human rights organizations are escalating allegations that the detainees are being
housed under inhumane conditions and should be declared prisoners of war to guarantee them certain rights.
The detainees from the Afghanistan conflict, who have been transported to the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay over the past week, are being housed in temporary 6-by-8-foot pens exposed to the elements, with metal roofs and chain-link fencing as walls. The floors are concrete, but the prisoners are given mats and blankets on which to sleep and pray.
"We're concerned about the conditions, the open cages, the chain-link fence enclosures," said Jamie Fellner, director of U.S. programs for the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch. "We believe this doesn't meet
U.S. military officials deny their treatment of the detainees is inhumane. The prisoners are being held at the isolated Camp X-Ray until permanent facilities can be constructed…
…Human rights groups have criticized the fact that at least some of the prisoners were hooded during the flight from Afghanistan, saying it violates U.N. rules against sensory deprivation…
…Yesterday, Amnesty International joined the International Committee of the Red Cross and other groups in asking the government to define the prisoners as POWs.
"It is not the prerogative of the Secretary of Defense or any other U.S. administration official to determine whether those held in Guantanamo are POWs," Amnesty International said in a statement. "An independent U.S. court, following due process, is the appropriate organ…"
…Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross are scheduled to visit the prisoners at Camp X-Ray this week…
The only way for Israelis to have security is, quite simply, to end the 35-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Israelis must abandon the myth that it is possible to have peace and occupation at the
same time, that peaceful coexistence is possible between slave and master. The lack of Israeli security is born of the lack of Palestinian freedom. Israel will have security only after the end of occupation, not before…
…Let us not forget, we Palestinians have recognized Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine. It is Israel that refuses to acknowledge Palestine's right to exist on the remaining 22 percent of land occupied in 1967. And yet it is the Palestinians who are accused of not compromising and of missing opportunities. Frankly, we are tired of always taking the blame for Israeli intransigence when all we are seeking is the implementation of
And we have no faith in the United States, the provider of billions of dollars in annual aid to fund Israel's expansion of illegal colonies, the "fighter of terrorism" that supplies Israel with the F-16s and helicopter
gunships used against a defenseless civilian population, the "defender of freedom and the oppressed" that coddles Sharon even as he faces war crimes charges for his responsibility in the 1982 massacre of Palestinian
refugees. The role of the world's only superpower has been reduced to that of a mere spectator with nothing to offer other than a tired refrain of "Stop the violence" while doing nothing to address the root causes of that violence: denial of Palestinian freedom….
…So we will protect ourselves. If Israel reserves the right to bomb us with F-16s and helicopter gunships, it should not be surprised when Palestinians seek defensive weapons to bring those aircraft down. And while
I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbor, I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. If Palestinians are expected to negotiate under occupation, then Israel must be expected to negotiate as we resist that occupation.
I am not a terrorist, but neither am I a pacifist. I am simply a regular guy from the Palestinian street advocating only what every other oppressed person has advocated -- the right to help myself in the absence of help from anywhere else.
This principle may well lead to my assassination. So let my position be clear in order that my death not be lightly dismissed by the world as just one more statistic in Israel's "war on terrorism..."