Sunday, July 17, 2005


Johann Hari follows-up on his exploration of the origins of Islamism. This time, he offers ideas on how to defeat the jihadists. He proposes a dual approach:
  1. Empower Muslim women:
    The best way to undermine the confidence and beliefs of jihadists is to trigger a rebellion of Muslim women, their mothers and sisters and daughters. Where Muslim women are free to fight back against jihadists, they are already showing incredible tenacity and intellectual force. In Iraq, mass protests by women stopped the governing council from introducing sharia law in 2003. In Europe and America, from Irshad Manji to my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Muslim women are offering the most effective critiques of Islamism.

    The jihadists themselves know that Islamic feminism is the greatest threat to their future - that's why, in Iraq, the "resistance" has been systematically hunting down and killing the leaders of Muslim women's rights organisations. No ideology can survive on terrorising half the population indefinitely. When it comes, the Islamic Reformation will be drenched in oestrogen.
  2. Energy independence:
    I have (reluctantly) begun to think that, until we are no longer dependent on Middle Eastern oil, no amount of pressure will make our governments support real democracy and women's rights in the region. The risk of another 1973-style oil-price shock will mean they will always support the "stability" of control over the gamble of proper democracy, no matter how enthusiastically the methods of control are rebranded or relaxed. Until we stop being addicted to the petrol and the status quo in the Middle East, we are part of the problem, not part of the solution.