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Articles and Blog Posts by Daniel Pipes   RSS 2.0 Feed

Assessing Obama's Mosque Speech on Islam

by Daniel Pipes  •  February 8, 2016  •  Investigative Project on Terrorism

Wishing to address growing anti-Islamic sentiments among the American public, Barack Obama ventured on Feb. 3 to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (sadly, a mosque with unsavory Islamist associations) to talk about Islam and Muslims. The 5,000-word speech contains much of interest. Here's an in-depth assessment of its key points:

OBAMA: a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque. To the folks watching this today who haven't — think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other. There's a school where teachers open young minds. Kids play baseball and football and basketball — boys and girls — I hear they're pretty good. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance here.

PIPES: All true, but what about the dark side, the unique and repeated role of mosques in parlaying totalitarian ideas and fomenting violence? That goes unsaid in the president's rose-colored presentation.

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Identifying Islamists through Interrogations
Skillful questions can distinguish enemy from friend among Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 13, 2016  •  Washington Times

When Donald Trump in December called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," I replied that changing just one word – "Islamists" instead of "Muslims" – would transform his outrageous and dead-end effusion into a politically feasible and operationally viable policy idea.

In response, came this valid question from readers: And how does one distinguish between Muslims who are Islamist from those who are not? This is a very doable task, though an expensive, time-consuming one demanding great skill.

By Islamists (as opposed to moderates), I mean those approximately 10-15 percent of Muslims who seek to apply Islamic law (the Shari'a) in its entirety. Islamists, not all Muslims, are the modern barbarians; they, not all Muslims, must urgently be excluded from the United States and other Western countries.

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2015's Hits at DanielPipes.org

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 10, 2016

Which articles, blog posts, speeches, and interviews on my web site, DanielPipes.org, fared best in the year recently concluded? In ascending order, here are 2015's ten most widely read, listened-to, and watched pages:

10. Middle East Provocations and Predictions (Sep. 9)

A survey of critical Middle East issues: the Iranian nuclear buildup, ISIS, Erdoğan's Turkey, the Saudi monarchy, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Islamism, and Israel.

9. What Actually Causes American Fear of Islam and Muslims? (Feb. 13)

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Two Weaknesses Could Undo the Islamist Movement

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2016  •  Boston Globe

The Islamist movement may appear stronger than ever, but a close look suggests two weaknesses that might doom it, and perhaps quickly.

Its strengths are obvious. The Taliban, Al-Shabaab, Boku Haram, and ISIS take Islamism – the ideology calling for Islamic law to be applied in its entirety and severity – to unbearable extremes, rampaging and brutalizing their way to power. Pakistan could fall into their hands. The ayatollahs of Iran enjoy a second wind thanks to the Vienna deal. Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is becoming Turkey's dictator. Islamist operatives swarm the Mediterranean toward Europe.

But weaknesses within, especially squabbling and disapproval, could undo the Islamist movement.

Infighting became vicious in 2013, when Islamists abruptly stopped their prior pattern of cooperation among themselves and instead began internecine fighting. Yes, the Islamist movement as a whole shares similar goals, but it also contains different intellectuals, groups, and parties with variant ethnic affiliations, tactics, and ideologies.

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Paris' Eerily Familiar 1930s Immigrant Problem

by Daniel Pipes  •  January 4, 2016

The world's most prolific author, the Belgian writer Georges Simenon, published a mock-memoir in 1951, Les Mémoires de Maigret (Paris: Les Presses de la Cité; English: Maigret's Memoirs, London: Heinemann, 1978), which featured the ostensible recollections of his fictional character, Inspector Maigret. The sixth chapter, titled in the English translation "One Staircase after Another!" (and brought to my attention by C. Paul Barreira) describes the pro-fascist uprising in Paris on Feb. 6, 1934. It reminds one eerily of today's North African immigration and Islamist alienation.

Simenon begins by noting that during political upheavals, human elements commonly appear in wealthier districts of Paris "whose very existence is generally unknown there, who seem to have emerged from some haunt of beggars and whom the inhabitants watch from their windows as they might watch ruffians and cutthroats suddenly appearing from the depths of the Middle Ages." These elements proceed to "spread as much terror around them as a pack of wolves."

He then asks if it is known that a single police squad is

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Can the Dubai Model Inspire Arabs?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 31, 2015  •  Asia Times

DUBAI – At a time of civil war, anarchy, extremism, and impoverishment in the Middle East, the city-states of Dubai and Abu Dhabi stand out as the places where Arabic speakers are flourishing, innovating, and offering a model for moving forward.

But can it last? I recently visited the United Arab Emirates to seek answers.

To begin with, some basic facts: Once called the Trucial States by British imperialists, the UAE consists of seven small monarchies bordering the Persian Gulf. They banded together in 1971, as the British retreated, to form a single federation.

The country has been doubly blessed: oil and gas abundance along with a smart and commercially-minded group of leaders. The former gives the country immense resources, the latter keeps it out of harm's way, free of ideological extremism, with a focus on the economy. The result looks and feels like a basically happy place, especially as the lot of immigrant laborers is improving.

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The Danger of Partial No-go Zones to Europe

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 29, 2015  •  Washington Times

Partial no-go zones in majority-Muslim areas are a part of the urban landscape from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, with the French government alone counting 751 of them. This shirking of responsibility foreshadows catastrophe and calls for immediate reversal.

I call the bad parts of Europe's cities partial no-go zones because ordinary people in ordinary clothing at ordinary times can enter and leave them without trouble. But they are no-go zones in the sense that representatives of the state – police especially but also firefighters, meter-readers, ambulance attendants, and social workers – can only enter with massed power for temporary periods of time. If they disobey this basic rule (as I learned first-hand in Marseille), they are likely to be swarmed, insulted, threatened, and even attacked.

This situation needs not exist. Host societies can say no to the poor, crime-ridden, violent, and rebellious areas emerging in their midst. But, if governments need not abdicate control, why do they do so? Because of a fervent, slightly desperate hope to avoid confrontation. Multicultural policies offer the illusion of sidestepping anything that might be construed as "racist" or "Islamophobic."

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America's Hidden Jihad

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 23, 2015  •  Washington Times

The police and press did an impressive job of sleuthing into the lives and motives of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married couple who massacred 14 people on Dec. 2, in San Bernardino, California.

We know about their families, their studies and employment histories, their travels, their marriage, their statements, and their preparations for the assault. Most importantly, the cascade of background work means we know that the pair had jihadi intentions, meaning, they attacked in their role as pious Muslims spreading the message, law, and sovereignty of Islam.

We are all better off for knowing these facts, which have had a powerful impact on the body politic, making Americans far more concerned with jihadi violence than at any time since just after 9/11, as they should be. For example, in 2011, 53 percent told a pollster that terrorism was a critical issue; that number has now reached 75 percent.

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An Israeli Gas Pipeline to Turkey? Bad Idea

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 20, 2015  •  National Review Online, The Corner

News that the Turkish and Israeli governments are about to renew full diplomatic relations after years of tensions causes me to smile cynically – and to worry again about Israeli gullibility.

The two states enjoyed close relations in the 1990s, when a common world outlook led to a strong military bond, growing trade, and exchanges of people and culture. Writing in 1997, I characterized this bilateral as having "the potential to alter the strategic map of the Middle East, to reshape American alliances there, and to reduce Israel's regional isolation."

It flourished for another five years, until the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) won the Turkish elections of 2002 and proceeded to move Turkey in an Islamist direction. Among many implications, this meant distancing Ankara from Jerusalem and, instead, warming relations with Hamas in Gaza.

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Trump: You Should Ban Islamists, Not Muslims

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 11, 2015  •  Washington Times

Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, called on Dec. 7 for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." Replace one word in this formulation and it goes from outrageous to brilliant.

Reacting to massacres by Muslims in Paris and San Bernardino, Trump pointed to a Muslim hatred "beyond comprehension" for the West. Therefore, he concluded, "Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad."

The negative responses, domestic and international, Muslim and non-Muslim, came in fast and furious – and rightly so, as Trump's crude blast is unconstitutional, unacceptable, unworkable, and unstrategic.

Unconstitutional: Every Western basic law is secular, disallowing a religious test for immigration, rendering Trump's statement less an exercise in practical policy making than a gadfly provocation.

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ISIS' Imminent Demise

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 5, 2015

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2249, passed unanimously on Nov. 20, sums up the consensus that the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL Daesh), poses a mortal danger to civilization by calling it an "unprecedented threat to international peace and security." There's also a widespread sense that ISIS will be around for a long time; for example, Barack Obama has predicted that the fight against it will be "a long-term campaign." Permit me to disagree strenuously on both counts.

On the first: ISIS is not exactly the equivalent of Nazi Germany. It's a little bug that the powers could quash at will if they put their minds to it. It survives only because no one really takes it seriously enough to fight with ground troops, the only gauge of an intention to prevail.

On the second: Between its alienation of its subject population and its gratuitous and unrestrained violence toward foreign countries, ISIS has made enemies of nearly everyone. Recent days alone have seen attacks on three powerful states: Turkey (the bombing in Ankara), Russia (the airliner over Sinai), and France (the attacks in Paris). This is not a path for survival. Friendless and despised, its every success shortens its life.

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Muslim "No-go Zones" in Europe?

by Daniel Pipes  •  December 2, 2015  •  Daily Caller

The existence of "no-go zones" in predominantly Muslim areas in Europe has been a major topic of conversation since the latest Paris massacre on Nov. 13, primarily due to the assailants' many connections to Molenbeek, a heavily Muslim district of Brussels. This discussion brings to mind my visit to a drug- and crime-infested slum of 7,000 inhabitants in Marseilles, France, on Jan. 29, to see the situation for myself.

I entered the housing complex in an unmarked but recognizable city-owned car driven by a city employee who had been tasked with showing me around. Unfortunately, being mostly a paper-pusher and not experienced in the field, he got spooked and abruptly turned around to leave, raising suspicions among the drug dealers around us, who proceeded to set off the alarm.

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Why the Paris Massacre Will Have Limited Impact

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 17, 2015  •  Philadelphia Inquirer

The murder of some 127 innocents in Paris by a jihadi gang on Friday has again shocked the French and led to another round of solidarity, soul searching, and anger. In the end, however, Islamist violence against Westerners boils down to two questions: How much will this latest atrocity turn public opinion? And how much will it further spur the Establishment to deny reality?

As these questions suggest, the people and the professionals are moving in opposite directions, the former to the right, the latter to the left. In the end, this clash much reduces the impact of such events on policy.

Public opinion moves against Islamists specifically and Islam more generally when the number of deaths is large enough. America's three thousand dead on 9/11 stands out as by far the largest mortality but many other countries have had their equivalent – the Bali bombings for Australia, the railroad bombing for Spain, the Beslan school massacre for Russia, the transportation bombings for Britain.

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Will Turks Accept the Election Results?

by Daniel Pipes  •  November 3, 2015

[N.B.: NRO titled this analysis "Turkey's Election Results Stink of Fraud"]

Like other observers of Turkish politics, I was stunned on Nov. 1 when the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) was reported to have increased its share of the national vote since the last round of elections in June 2015 by 9 percent and its share of parliamentary seats by 11 percent.

The polls had consistently shown the four major parties winning about the same number of seats as in June. This made intuitive sense; they represent mutually hostile outlooks (Islamist, leftist, Kurdish, nationalist), making substantial movement between them in under five months highly unlikely. That about one in nine voters switched parties defies reason.

The AKP's huge increase gave it back the parliamentary majority it had lost in the June 2015 elections, promising President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a semi-legal path to the dictatorial powers he aspires to.

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Ending a Century of Palestinian Rejectionism

by Daniel Pipes  •  October 27, 2015  •  Washington Times

Palestinians are on the wrong track and will not get off it until the outside world demands better of them.

News comes every year or two of a campaign of violence spurred by Palestinian political and religious leaders spreading wild-eyed conspiracy theories (the favorite: Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is under threat). A spasm of unprovoked violence against Israelis then follows: rocket attacks from Gaza, car-rammings in Israel proper, stone-throwing in the West Bank, street stabbings in Jerusalem. Eventually the paroxysm peters out, only to start up again not too much later.

True, these bouts of violence bring some gains to the Palestinians; in the United Nations, in faculty lounges, and on the streets of Western cities they win support against Israel. Each round ends, however, with the Palestinians in a worse place in terms of dead and wounded, buildings destroyed and an economy in tatters.

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