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October 25th 2014 print

Peter Smith

Islamic Derangement Syndrome

Amid all the assurances of Islam's gentle soul, young men continue to wage war on the societies that have never questioned their right to draw inspiration from the Koran. Unless that sacred text's invocations to violence are repudiated openly and often, there is not the slightest hope of peace

crescentNo sooner had we seen Western Sydney teenager Abu Khaled (aka Abdullah Elmir) fronting up on YouTube and promising to fly the black flag over Buckingham Palace, among other places, than out came the soothing brigade on the ABC. Two fresh-faced women under hijabs conveyed the shock and concern of their community and suggested that more money should be provided to imams (from taxpayers, I assume) to teach young Muslim men that it was not OK to cut off people’s heads if you don’t like their religion. Well, the lady in question didn’t exactly say that, but what else could it be?

Do ‘moderate Muslims’ ever wonder what the heck is going on? Do they ever attempt to join the dots? Another head rolls in the name of Islam and the Koran and the Prophet, and another and another and another. There is nothing to see here — nothing to do with us! — nothing to do with the Religion of Peace. Hmm!

Put aside the carnage going on in the Muslim world — in Sudan; in Somalia; in Yemen; in Libya; in Syria; in Iraq — two attacks have occurred this week in Canada and one in New York. In the first a man mowed down two soldiers in his car, killing one. In the second, a man shot and killed a soldier on duty at a war memorial before rampaging through parliament. In the third, a man used a hatchet to attack a group of policemen. Two policemen were injured, one critically, before their assailant was shot dead.

All of these so-called lone wolf attackers appear to have been influenced by Islamic jihad. One or all of the perpetrators may have been mentally deranged, to use the designation favoured by the liberal media. “Mentally deranged man on killing rampage” is a lot more PC than “Muslim man on killing rampage”.

Apparently Major Hasan’s murder of thirteen US soldiers on an army base in 2009 is still called “workplace violence”. Surely that should be ‘workplace violence by a mentally deranged serviceman influenced by a religious affiliation we are reluctant to dwell upon.’

I don’t care whether people who go around cutting other people’s heads off are diagnosed as deranged. I know they are deranged. I consider all of the ISIS crew to be deranged.

We are told that one in four of us will suffer some kind of mental illness in our lifetimes. I don’t know what percentage of such people (notice I am excluding myself) will become deranged. What I do know, from experience, is that however deranged they may become, they are unlikely to go around cutting off people’s heads. The ‘deranged’ thing alone doesn’t do it for me.

Whatever spin is put on it, there is enough material in the Koran and the Hadiths to support killing non-Muslims — kaffirs, infidels, non-believers — who refuse to convert or submit to Islam. Of itself that might not be a problem. It becomes a problem when large numbers of fundamentalist religious leaders preach it. Not imams all preach it, true, but it is widely preached. And its existence provides an outlet for the deranged.

Also, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking that only the clinically deranged are susceptible. There is plenty of evidence that cults can promote and produce destructive behaviour among those who, in normal circumstances, might live fairly normal lives. Think of the followers of Jim Jones and Charles Manson. There are many others.

We are entitled to believe that Islam itself, through the prism of its scripture and fundamentalist preachers taken together, is a heady enough brew to create fanaticism — derangement, if you like — among large numbers of susceptible people. Young Muslim men, particularly those without a glittering career in front of them, appear to fit the bill.

What is to be done? Well giving money to imams of more moderate persuasions won’t do much good. I doubt they have the drawing power to compete with the firebrands.

Only a thoroughgoing revision of Islam will do it; with an Islamic version of the Nicene Creed which, in producing a consensus among Muslims of different sects, would take the violent edges off the religion. What might be called Islamic Derangement Syndrome will then fade away. Sadly, it is impossible to conceive it happening. Therefore, there is no benign outcome to look forward to, only a 100-year struggle. What a pleasant prospect.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics