“Nobody is safe: today it’s the Shia, tomorrow it could be us Catholics too,” says the Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan.
Cardinal Onaiyekan explained to Vatican Radio that recently, for the government in Nigeria, the question of Shia Muslims has become an issue.
He said [Shia] followers have been holding protests to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been detained in prison for the last four years.
Various tribunals and courts, he noted, have ordered that he be released, and the government has refused to obey the courts’ order.
Thus, Cardinal Onaiyekan said, the established Sunni majority in Nigeria “doesn’t want to recognize that the Shia are also Muslims, and because of this the government treats them with serious violence”.
He said Shia have been holding almost daily protests in the streets of Abuja for over a month.
“From my own understanding, the protests were always peaceful and we never saw them armed,” he said.
And yet, he noted, government soldiers and police have attacked them with arms, rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters.
News outlets said at least 20 members of the group were killed over the past week during the demonstrations.
“I am scandalised by all these men dying at sea, by the human trafficking, by the mafia networking, by the organised slavery.”
A Catholic priest and scholar has some useful insights into the Islamic world, its relationship with Christianity, and its relationship with the Western World.
“To understand what is happening today in regard to the Western World and the Middle East we must understand the main branches of contemporary Islam. They are a) Pan-Arab nationalism, and, b) Takfiri [also commonly referred to as Wahhabi-Salafist] Jihadism which has roots in both the Middle Ages and the nineteenth-twentieth centuries.”
UK visas: YES to radical Islamists, NO to Christian archbishops!
It is hard to imagine a more incongruous headline – just as the world’s attention focuses on the liberation of Mosul, the UK government has refused to grant a visa to the Archbishop of Mosul to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, a church whose flock includes many refugees fleeing persecution from Islamists in Iraq and Syria………..
……….. Yet, at the same time this is happening, radical Islamist leaders are being told they can have visas – even though they represent organisations or movements that incite violence and persecution against Christians.
“The reason I’m sitting here before you,” Bishop Oliver Doeme tells me mid-interview, “is the grace of God.” For a moment I think this is a pious generalisation about divine providence. But that’s not what Bishop Doeme means. He means that, by rights, he shouldn’t really be alive.
The bishop’s diocese is Maiduguri in Nigeria – the epicentre of terrorism in the country. Nigeria is where Boko Haram is most active. Founded in 2002, the Islamist group claims affiliation with ISIS, and is no less demonic in its aims and methods. Among its chief aims is to kill as many Christians and to blow up as many churches as possible. Bishop Doeme is an obvious target.
The story of Maiduguri’s Catholics is one of terrible suffering. “To experience what we are going through is enough martyrdom,” says Bishop Doeme. But it is also something else: a story of supernatural intervention, and of the immediate power of prayer. For Boko Haram has run into trouble – partly thanks to a successful campaign by the Nigerian military, but also, it seems, for more supernatural reasons.
In 2014, Bishop Doeme had a vision while praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus appeared to him, and handed the bishop a sword – which, as soon as he received it, turned into a rosary. Jesus then repeated the words: “Boko Haram is gone.” Bishop Doeme decided at once that this was an invitation to spread devotion to the rosary. So he began doing just that.
Maiduguri had always been a Marian diocese – when Bishop Doeme was installed in 2009, at the age of 48, he consecrated the diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a consecration which has been repeated every year.
But after the vision, the bishop wrote a pastoral letter encouraging the daily saying of the rosary – and especially, rosary processions – in families, schools and parishes. At his own residence there is a rosary procession every evening; if he isn’t there, his secretary or someone else will lead it. Every Saturday, meanwhile, Mass is offered throughout the diocese in honour of Our Lady.
Why does Bishop Doeme think Jesus appeared in 2014? “It happened that way not because of me,” he says. “I am just a poor sinner … It was about Jesus and his Mother, and his suffering people, his suffering children. It happened at the climax of the suffering of our people… 2014 will never be forgotten by our people.”
That was when Boko Haram’s attacks were at their most terrible. In that year they killed more than 6,000 people; the 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok were abducted (218 are still missing); over 80,000 Catholics were displaced; 25 priests (half those in the diocese), 45 nuns and 200 catechists and parish workers had to flee.
“Churches were razed down,” the bishop remembers, “schools were razed down, hospitals were razed down. So our people were devastated, our people were traumatised. And the Lord came in order to console his people, [to show] that his Mother is there for us.”
The vision encouraged Maiduguri’s Catholics to believe “that the rosary would ultimately give us victory over this evil. Boko Haram is evil. ISIS is evil. So as long as we go to a place with his Mother, especially by praying the rosary, which is the most pronounced form of Marian devotion, we will be victorious.”
Although it is too early to declare victory, Boko Haram has suffered defeat after defeat since the people of Maiduguri stepped up their Marian devotion. In September 2015, the Nigerian military reported that the terrorists were “completely in disarray”, and that they were no longer capable of holding territory.
A few months later, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated”. Bishop Doeme says the terrorists have been driven into the forests, and “will soon fizzle out”.
Catholic journalist Iben Thranholm tells it as it is in a wide-ranging video interview about contemporary moral and social problems.
You can’t fight something with nothing
Why is Europe unable to defend its people against terrorism?
This question is becoming increasingly urgent to growing numbers of Europeans, especially after the terrorist attack in Brussels. Despite massive surveillance and armed guards, terrorists succeeded in striking yet again. The reaction from media and authorities followed the same old template as the display of stunned impotence applied to the Paris attacks. Politicians and experts condemn, explain and analyse – without a shred of sensible response – the fact that radical groups in the West are growing. Voices – like Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA – clamour for even more surveillance and powers for intelligence agencies, while politicians call for initiatives to take pedagogical measures to soften radicalism. This crescendo will grow to a withering cacophony until the next attack springs its deadly surprise, with mayhem and new floods of inane infotainment news.
This predictable pattern leaves many Europeans with the distinct impression that politicians and police are incapable of protecting their populations against terrorism.
Why do public authorities fall so pathetically short?
Father Jacek Miedlar’s speech to 70,000 participants at the March for Independence 2015, calling for the defence of Christianity in Poland in the wake of the ‘refugee’ invasion of Europe.
The entire march and rally, according to different sources, ranged from 70,000 to 150,000 participants.
To understand what is happening today in regard to the Western World and the Middle East we must understand the main branches of contemporary Islam. They are a) Pan-Arab nationalism, and, b)Takfiri Jihadism which has roots in both the Middle Ages and the nineteenth-twentieth centuries.
It must be recognised that Classical Arab culture (not the religion of Islam, especially when interpreted in its fundamentalist and fideist form derived from Al-Ghazali) is not a course or rough Bedouinism, devoid of substance and depth (which Al-Ghazali reduced it to), which is how it is commonly presented by a politically-correct Western media today.
In fact Classical Arab culture is humanistic and scientific (originating in India and China and then transmitted to Europe by way of Arabia). Arabic Aristotelian philosophy (Avicenna, Averroes) touched great heights of development in the Middle Ages before its decline. The decline, primarily theological, philosophical and exegetical, influenced by the philosophy of Al-Ghazali, became far-reaching, but didn’t replace the Classical Arab culture that underwent a revival under social Pan-Arab nationalism. Pan-Arab nationalism is fundamentally opposed to Takfiri Jihadism which is bankrolled by the USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In the Middle Ages Thomistic metaphysics, based on Aristotle, corrected and purged Arabic philosophy of its rationalistic defects and also perfected the doctrine of being as the final act of essence.
The philosophy of the West, which is the theoretical foundation of Neo-Conservative politics, is Enlightenment Empiricism influenced by Nominalism leading to Agnosticism, and which, according to St. Pius X, is “the evil of the modern world” and the basis of theological Modernism.
So Empiricism is radically opposed to sound scholastic philosophy, theology and metaphysics. The mediaeval Arab world was only imperfect in respect to it, but not opposed to it.
Eventually, if we study a) mediaeval Jewish metaphysics (especially Maimonides), which despite some healthy theological and metaphysical principles borrowed from Aristotle, Averroes and Avicenna, flows into Nihilism, and b) contemporary Jewish philosophy (Buberand Levinas) which is Subjectivist, Structuralist and Nihilistic, it is clear that there exits a radical incompatibility between them and right reason, sound theology and divine revelation.
When we objectively and dispassionately study mediaeval Arab, Jewish and Christian metaphysics and Western Empiricism, we find that a much greater opposition to classical Greek-Roman metaphysics and to Christianity (patristic, scholastic and social doctrine) comes from Jewish Nihilism (Maimonides), Anglo-American Neo-Conservative ideology(Burke, Strauss, Kristol, Popper, Hayek, Mises and Friedman) and Zionism (Buber and Levinas), than from the metaphysics of mediaeval Arabia and modern Pan-Arab nationalism.
By going back to the origins of current events we can distinguish:
1) The incompatability in religion between Christianity and Islam, which is, however, less than that which exists between the Gospel and Hebrew Talmudism;
2) The affinity between mediaeval Arab and Thomist metaphysics, which are to one another as potency is to act, and less perfect to more perfect;
3) The irreconcilability of Western Agnosticism with right reason and the Christian Faith, which stand against each other as black and white, yes and no;
4) The unitary design of Jewish-Anglo-American Globalism which uses the Takfirism-Salafism–Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia to undermine and destabilise the foundations of lay Arab States, causing division and chaos in countries once socially and economically ordered and not morally corrupted by the immanent subjectivism of Western modernity.
The existing branches of Islam
Classical Islamic theology and culture was formed in Arabia in the seventh century. Towards the end of the thirteenth century it began to decline and towards the end of the eighteenth century, with the expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte in Egypt, came the eruption of European Enlightenment modernity.
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1917 and the fragmentation of the Arab world into French/Anglo colonies there was a renaissance in the Arab world in the form of a social-orientated nationalism as a reaction to the forced establishment in Palestine, in 1948, of the State of Israel.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1990, a radical anti-nationalist, and anti-Arab, Islamicist ideology funded by the United States, the Gulf States and Israel, with some co-operation from Turkey, became prominent. These Islamicists were first deployed in the 1979-89 proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and have been operating as a proxy force in Chechnya ever since, in Iraq since the Second Gulf War of 2003, in numerous countries afflicted by the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ that began in earnest in 2011, and in the central regions of Africa.
In the nineteenth century there prevailed at first in the Islamic world a certain fascination towards modernity. Egypt was the first Moslem country to send a team of forty scholars to France to study the sciences, technology and literature, and to apply them to the socio-economic benefit of the country, without, however, wanting technological progress at the expense of their traditions, culture and religion.
Therefore the social emancipation of the Moslem world was always viewed in light of a renewal and rebirth of Arab culture, and not in opposition to it. The study of European science and technology was intended to be in line with a return to the sources of Arab culture and used by the Arab nations to solve the political and social problems that they faced in the nineteenth century.
The late introduction of philosophical modernity – subjectivist, rationalist and relativist – in Arab countries, irreconcilable with their religious tradition, gave birth to a traumatic disturbance in the populations of the Near and Middle East. This was exasperated by Anglo-French colonialism which was not accepted by the Arab world, in part because it was more inclined to exploit economically than to evangelise and civilise.
Father Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), a missionary in Algeria and Morocco, had explained tirelessly to the French authorities the grave danger of what was primarily a material and exploitative colonialism that neglected or rejected being the bearer of the Gospel and Christian civilisation; a colonialism that was, therefore, unable to conquer the minds and wills of the Arabs. It was not only necessary but opportune to bring the Gospels to the Arabs because they were still immune to the rationalism of the Enlightenment and still profoundly orientated towards the transcendent, despising atheism and agnosticism, and thereby being open to grace having a deep impact on their souls.
Unfortunately modern Europe, with the exception of the missionaries sent by the Church (who were not supported by the secular power of the State), instead of bringing the Gospels, the Fathers, Thomist metaphysics and the social doctrine of the Church, brought with it Agnosticism and Enlightenment culture along with the technological development and, therefore, the colonialism of Europe was, with good reason, despised and hated by the Arabs.
Faced with the sudden intrusion of European Enlightenment modernity into the nineteenth-century Arab world, many of the leaders of Arab society were blinded by self-preservation and lust for greater wealth and power, and began to act as parrots who aped Napoleonic Liberalism, without trying to understand its meaning, and without trying to distinguish what might be consistent with truth and what was not.
In turn, this led to an exaggerated fideistic reaction which was anti-metaphysical and gave birth to Wahhabism, Salafism, the Muslim Botherhood and the radical politicised movement of a fundamentalist Islam that came into conflict with traditional Sunni and Shia beliefs, and the social-orientated nationalism of Egyptian Nasserism and Syrian and Iraqi Baathism.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Arab intellectuals studied European thought in the light of the Arab renaissance and formed a national and Pan-Arab political vision and understanding of the world.
Pan-Arab social thought, which was mainly political without being irreligious, and somewhat comparable to Ghibellinism or to Italian Fascism and therefore fundamentally different from both Atheistic and Materialist Marxism on the one hand and religious integralism on the other, attempted to raise Arab culture to the high levels once obtained during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This Pan-Arab current looked towards Islam as the cement for reunification and political and cultural renaissance of the Arab world, with the Arab national and political element holding primacy over the Islamic religious element.
This socially-inclined Arab nationalism was tolerant, not confrontational, with Christians who accepted the building of a national and Pan-Arabic State and its culture; for example in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The national and Pan-Arabic State was also seen as a means of emancipation from Ottoman-Turkish despotism.
However, this current of thought was opposed by Salafist thinkers or ideologues who rejected all the developments of Islamic thought and culture over the centuries as innovations, and who want to return to an almost stone-age cultural barbarity. The conflict of the Muslim Brotherhood with Arab nationalism gave birth to Al-Qaeda and Jihadist revolution and the current on-going struggle against the Pan-Arab nationalist and secular Islamic regimes and populations of Iraq, Eqypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria.
So, since the nineteenth century, two types of Islam have collided: the first secular-nationalist/patriotically-inspired, religiously Islamic but not fundamentalist (Nasserism in Egypt, Baathism in Syria and Iraq), and the second which is fundamentalist and Jihadist which wants to fight against social Pan-Arab nationalism but which, at the same time, is trained and bankrolled by a US-Israeli-Gulf-Turkish alliance which they theoretically claim to oppose.
The armistice signed ninety-seven years ago, which was hailed as putting an end to ‘The War That Will End War,’ was really only a temporary halt to the genocidal objectives of the New Unhappy Lords of the Modern Age. Every war and conflict that followed throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st can trace its cause to the social upheavals, fragmentation of Old Empires and the consolidation of a growing New World Empire that resulted from the ‘Great War’.
Two seminal books were published nine years ago that laid out Catholic Just War principles, and questioned from every conceivable angle the morality of pursuing War in Iraq. Those principles of Catholic Just War doctrine remain just as profound, just as vital and just as applicable today whether it be in regard to the ongoing butchering of Syria and Iraq, or the insane provocations continually pursued against Iran and Russia, whether it be by direct military intervention, or by the training and funding of Takfiri or Banderite terror forces.
Refuting the myth that America’s socially conservative thinkers, journalists, and commentators tended to support the war in Iraq, Neo-Conned: A Condemnation of War in Iraq incorporates the opinions of some of the leading figures in America’s conservative movement on why the decision to go to war and the continuing occupation of Iraq was and is the wrong course of action. Twenty-five articles by influential thinkers such as former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, syndicated columnists Sam Francis, Joseph Sobran, Eric Margolis, and Charley Reese, leading economist Jude Wanniski, social critics Tom Fleming and Paul Gottfried, and religious figures Bishop John Michael Botean and the late Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani make the case against the Iraqi conflict using conservative arguments on geopolitics, Christian morality, and common sense. Four detailed appendices on the war teachings of the Catholic Church are also provided.
In Neo-Conned Again: Hypocrisy, Lawlessness and the Rape of Iraq the moral, political, and legal problems surrounding the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq are addressed with uncommon frankness by an eclectic mix of some of the world’s most influential academics, lawyers, journalists, politicians, and military, intelligence, and media experts. Contributions include academics such as Noam Chomsky, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Claes Ryn; journalists Milton Viorst, Robert Fisk, Kirkpatrick Sale, and Justin Raimondo; former CIA professional Ray McGovern; former Defense Intelligence Agency professional W. Patrick Lang; and Fr. Jean-Marie Benjamin, personal friend of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Traiq Aziz. Discussing the Iraq war and related issues such as the legal foundation of the war on terror, the detention practices at Guantanamo Bay, and the roots of the American Neo-Conservative ideology, the essays illustrate the hypocrisy and illegality of America’s stance on terrorism and its policies of aggression in the Middle East.