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The Barcelona Response

Monday, August 28th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — from a half-million-strong march to the hug of a victim’s father and an imam, Barcelona and Spain repond to terror with nobility and grace ]
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Telesur‘s headline read Nearly 500,000 March for Peace in Barcelona, and their subhead:

Marchers, on Saturday, displayed signs and banners with various slogans. Some read, “No to Islamophobia,” “The best response: Peace,” and “I’m not afraid.”

The march:

A makeshift shrine to those killed in the attack:

A monarch visits the survivors of terror:

NPR reports on the celebration of Mass in La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona:

Mass Held In Barcelona To Honor Victims Of Terror Attacks

Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia and other dignitaries attend a solemn Mass at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basilica on Sunday for the victims of the terror attacks that killed 14 people and wounded over 120 in Barcelona, Spain.

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We remember the sacred magnificence of the ritual setting, Antonio Gaudi‘s Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, in which this Mass was offered:

And Spain’s considerable Moorish history, exemplified by the Mezquita of Cordoba:

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We witness the profound gesture of the father of the youngest victim, as reported by Daily Sabah, Europe:

Father of youngest victim of Spain attacks hugs imam in defiance of terror, Islamophobia

The father of the youngest victim of last week’s tragic terror attacks in Cambrils and Barcelona hugged a local imam in an emotional protest against terror and Islamophobia.

Xavier Martinez, who lost his three-year-old son Xavi in the attack on Las Ramblas avenue, embraced Spanish imam Driss Salym in the town of Rubi, near Barcelona on Friday. The video of the two hugging, defiantly showing unity and compassion, was widely shared on social media.

Here is the BBC’s video:

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Oof, the imam’s tears at the end of that clip.

Many cities have shown their resilience when attacked, and we are proud of them: Barcelona best of all.

Sabrina Tavernise – A Story with heart

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a story with heart — what other kind is there? — beautifully written, too ]
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Sabrina Tavernise has a wonderful, heart-felt story in the NYT today, titled The Two Americans: Abraham never fit in. Hisham finally felt at home. Then their worlds collided in western Arkansas. I’d have pointed you to it anyway — it’s deeply moving — but this parallelism observed really struck me:

The mosque’s phone started ringing, and didn’t stop. Churches called. A synagogue called. Buddhists called. So did residents who had seen the news or simply driven by. One man called, crying. His daughter had seen the graffiti on her way to work and told him about it. He said the vandals could not have been Christians. No true Christian would have done it.

Anas Bensalah, a mosque member who had taken the day off to help with the cleanup, told the man that he understood completely: That was exactly how he felt every time there was an attack by the Islamic State.

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I’m collecting tales of forgiveness — not exactly miraculous forgiveness, but forgiveness where one might not necessarily expect it. Mandela-style forgiveness.

In its mild way, this is one such tale. Recommended: The Two Americans

Well, it’s a DoubleQuote, and well, it’s by Julian Assange

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — & details suggest IS/AQ and the alt-right are at least somewhat comparable ]
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Jihadists and hard right, comparables?

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Arie Perliger‘s 2012 report for West Point’s Countering Terrorism Center, Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right runs a hefty 148 pages, but it opens with two epigraphs, each of which similarly compares jihad with the ambitions of far right violent extremists:

This operation took some long-term planning and, throughout the entire time, these soldiers were aware that their lives would be sacrificed for their cause. If an Aryan wants an example of ‘Victory or Valhalla’, look no further (Thomas Metzger, Leader of the White Aryan Resistance, in response to 9/11 attacks)

… We should be blowing up NYC and DC, not waiting for a bunch of camel Jockeys to do it for us (Victor Gerhard, Vanguard News Network)

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The thing is, the mode of terror in Charlottesville, ramming pedestrians with a car or truck, itself “rhymes” with all too many earlier attacks, in a series including the 2006 attempted murder by SUV at the University of North Carolina, the 2013 incident which ended with the murder of Lee Rigby in London, incidents in Dijon, Nice, Stockholm and Westminster — not to mention one incident in Tiananmen Square, and a slew of vehicular ramming attacks across the years in Jerusalem.

The second issue (2010) of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula‘s magazine Inspire recommended the tactic:

— and while the majority of incidents listed in Wikipedia’s article on the topic were perpetrated by jihadists, the tactic has also been used against Muslims — by no means necessarily jihadists or even sympathizers themselves — in the Finsbury Park Mosque attack earlier this year.

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This brings such great repute on jihadists, islamophobes, alt-right, whomever.

Moral Equivalence

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — in which a sunni sheikh protects a yazidi family ]
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Yad Vashem:

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I seldom make comparisons that strike me as demonstrating moral equivalence as such — mostly I intend the juxtapositions I present to illustrate some parallelism or opposition that’s worthy of note as one aspect of a bigger picture, but by no means the whole. Often such an aspect will add nuance to the broader picture, sometime by contrasting with the overall impression. I relish those opportunities to see more that the first glance would tell me, to begin probing, digging deeper into a particular situation or issue.

Here though, I think I may have stumbled onto a juxtaposition that does reveal a moral equivalence — in this case, a Sunni tribal leader standing in the same relation to the Yezidis he saved as one or another of the Righteous Among the Nations does to a Jewish person, family, or group they saved.

The details of tribal anthropology in the Sunni-Yazidi case — which would be of interest no doubt to our friend David Ronfeldt — are fascinating in themselves:

Fadel was a wealthy Sunni, and a tribal leader from the Shammar tribe, one of the world’s largest and most influential Arab tribes. He was also a close friend of the family.

When Fadel found out where the family was, he rushed to the IS headquarters in Kocho, where he negotiated with the local militant leaders. “Please, let me take them with me,” he told them. “They belong with me.”

While thousands of other Yazidi women and children were transferred to other places in Iraq and Syria – and most of the Yazidi men were killed on the spot – Nadine and her children, along with dozens of their relatives, were taken to the tribal leader’s house in Ba’aj, a small town in Nineveh governorate.

Immediately, the family buried their mobile phones and Yazidi clothing. It was the beginning of a long period in hiding.

But why would the local sheikh go to such lengths to protect this Yazidi family? The families go way back and have a long history together, explained Nadine. He was their ‘krive‘ – a kind of godfather or patron. “And he had promised to protect us,” Nadine said.

Just like Muslims, Yazidis circumcise their young boys. During the ceremony, the man who holds the boy on their lap is considered his godfather, or “blood brother” – or krive.

Before 2003, the krive was often historically selected from among religious families or even influential Muslim families. Yazidis believe that this creates a special bond between two clans; they have to respect and protect each other whenever needed.

Sadly:

But the ritual shared between the two religious groups declined amid Iraq’s sectarian violence, and after the Yazidi genocide in 2014, it completely disappeared.

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Note here the role of circumcision, adding nuance to the parallel with Judaism. Ritual here is not some form of “dry as dust” repetition, but the instrument of deep, indeed life-saving human bonding.

As so often, I wish I knew more — and in the meantime, I am grateful to those such as Oscar Schindler, Fadel of the Shammar, and so many others — the righteous protectors.

Nadine Naif and family, your story brings me hope. Fadel, I salute you.

Quietly now, a possibility

Monday, August 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a comment by Hegghammer, possibly echoing Bukhari re the Khawarij ]
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Ritual practice with greater intensity..

Very much a book to read..

  • Thomas Hegghammer, Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists

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