Obama Obama, We Love Osama! The True nature of the Muslim Riots

Today, Sydney Australia was rocked by violent protests as Muslim demonstrators surged through the streets holding signs saying “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet Muhammad”, and carrying the flag of the Jihadists. Hundreds of protesters battled with police, hurling rocks at them, and injuring at least six officers. The crowd also vandalized property, and assaulted some individuals in the street. Police ended up gassing the crowd and using dogs to disperse the rioters, who vowed to return in greater numbers.

The reason given for the violence was the perceived insult to Islam by the trailer to the film made in America The Innocence of Muslims. Although not even confirmed as legitimate, the film has sparked uprisings around the world, with the most tragic moment being the assault on the American embassy in Libya and the murder of the American ambassador to Libya.

However, let us not fall into the trap of thinking these protests are in any way a legitimate expression of anger against this film. Let us not look at Sydney and claim that the violence was in any way, shape, or form a justified response to oppression. The vast majority of these rioters have never lived under oppression, have never been persecuted for their faith, and have lived in a free and democratic country which has been well known for their policy of openness to immigration and multiculturalism.

This violence is another outbreak of what Samuel Harrington termed the “Clash of Civilizations”. The Muslim world believes, rightly or wrongly, that the West has declared war against them, and against Islam in particular. The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been painted as a crusade against Islam. This picture has not been helped by ill advised comments by the previous American administration.

In response to this, the Muslim culture has risen up against the West. They will fight back with everything they can against America and it’s allies, including Australia. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are only a symbol of the festering conflict between East and West; between Christian and Muslim. Groups such as Al Qaeda have been very open in appealing to the religious nature of this war, and they are absolutely correct. This is a fight, not against a government or a geopolitical ideology. It is a fight against a way of life. It is a fight against a culture.

America has been taught time and time again that to the Muslim people, a term I will use in a general sense, it is always seen as a target, no matter if they are allied to them or not. Americans feel hurt and angry that they are attacked in Iraq and Afghanistan after removing despotic regimes from power. They are confused why Libyans slaughter their ambassador after they freed their country. They do not understand why Muslims world wide are attacking their embassies due to an obscure film that the American administration had nothing to do with, and have not supported in any way.

The fact is, the film is meaningless. It is not the cause of this hatred. It is merely an excuse to carry on a campaign of hatred and terror against the West. No matter now much the West has done for these people. No matter now free the country in which they live, to the Muslim community, they will seize control of the nation and impose their own law on the people. And then they will have their revenge for perceived years of oppression in their homelands. Thus, radicals such as Ibrahim Siddiq-Conlon in Australia call for Sharia law openly, and state that only a Muslim government of Australia would be legitimate. Siddiq-Conlon is right when he states

“One day Australia will live under sharia; it’s inevitable,” he said. “If they (Australians) don’t accept it, that’s not our problem. We hope, and our objective is to have a peaceful transition, but when you look at history that has never been the case. There’s always been a fight. It is inevitable that one day there will be a struggle for Islam in Australia.”


Later, this charming individual goes on to state that he hates democracy, and calls for the hatred of the worship of any other religion than Islam.

To radicals like Siddiq Conlon, the battle on the streets of Sydney is far more than an isolated outburst against a video. It is a culture war. They are not in Australia to assimilate, they are in Australia to attack the country, the culture, the people, and to take over.

Australians, good natured, trusting, and blissfully ignorant until recently of the affairs of the world, are shocked and stunned by these attacks. While Australians have the reputation of being racist, and indeed can be, they have no idea of how to respond to an attack on their very way of life by people they feel they have given refuge and shelter to.

The protesters in Sydney are not only attacking a culture, they are expressing open support for terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda. In a chant on the street, Muslim men in Sydney shouted “Obama! Obama! We Love Osama!”. In another photo, protesters are holding a flag similar to those used by Al Qaeda.

Until Australia, America, and the UK realize that they cannot negotiate, cannot give in, and cannot placate such hatred, the clash between Muslim and Australian, American, or Briton will become more and more frequent. Immigration from largely Muslim homelands to Australia and Europe especially has created concern among the local population, who feel intimidated by actions such as what happened in Sydney today. In response, increased racism and violence in return occurs, resulting in greater ill will between the two cultures, and thus strengthening a cycle of violence.

However, in a message to Muslims in Australia, I would say: I do not hate you. I sympathize with some of your grievances, however this is not the way to go about addressing them. I do not wish you out of my country. I welcome you to Australia, as long as you abide by Australian law and live as a law abiding citizen.

However, if you attempt to destroy the freedoms I enjoy here, and which are freely offered to you. If you attempt to cause harm or violence to me, my country, or my people, this attempt will be resisted, and I will work to restrict your ability to carry out such attacks. Attacks against this country will result in a blowback to your interests by Australians. If you wish to find freedom in this country, respect the laws of the country, and the country will respect you.

Your actions today in Sydney, and elsewhere around the world, are reprehensible. They show many of you for what you truely are. If you hate this country, if you hate our way of life, if you hate the West so much, I understand that your views will be more warmly received in Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Syria, or Iraq. Please take your views back to these places or others where they will be received.

If a Clash of Civilizations occurs, the West must understand what is at stake, and what must be done to win in this war. Tolerance must exist. Hatred towards Muslims, the Muslim religion, or towards the community in general makes us as bad as the protesters. Our response must be both respectful, but firm. Such behaviour as this should not be allowed, and must be met with swift justice. Not injustice, not vigilantism, but justice through the policing, intelligence, and legal systems of this country.

To Muslims in Australia, remember: What image you give to Australians now, will determine how you are treated by this country.


Respect and Political Fear

The father of modern political thought, Thomas Hobbs, who wrote in the early 1600s, believed strongly in the power of the state, as the overreaching “Leviathan”, which kept watch over the citizens below. To Hobbs, power rested with the state through the introduction of what he termed the “Social Contract”. In simple terms, the social contract states that the people of a nation will give up certain rights and freedoms in exchange for the rule of law and security by the state. One of the greatest “rights” given up was that of violence, which only the state then had the right to use. Only the state could resort to violence, and violence, according to Hobbs, was an instrument of the state to maintain law and order. Agents of the state, such as the police, military, and intelligence services could be given the right to use violence if necessary in order to maintain order.

Hobbs believed that there were two alternatives to the Human race. Either a population would give up part of their power to a central government, which Hobbs believed to be unaccountable for their actions, or anarchy and chaos would result. This anarchy and chaos was what Hobbs termed the “natural state” of man, and was driven by what he saw as the relentless pursuit of man for power.

Hobbs saw civilization, and the power of a central government, as integral to preventing this violent anarchical struggle which mankind would fall into by default.

This view is not new with Hobbs, however. Machiavelli before him wrote on power, and the use of such by a state. Thousands of years before, the Bible itself wrote of the early formation of the Jewish state as being in such a state of anarchy. The story is told in the book of Judges, for example, of the tribe of Dan who came across a household with precious goods and idols which they promptly took by force and threats. The story goes that they tribe then proceeded to seize territory by massacring the inhabitants of a peaceful city as they were stronger and of greater numbers. Further in the book, the story is told of a full breakdown of law and order in a city with travellers being accosted and killed, leading to a civil war in Israel. All through the book of Judges, there is story after story of acts of violence taking place just because one party was stronger than the other.

The book of Judges ends with the quote that “In those days, there was no King in Israel, so every man did what was right in his own eyes”.

Indeed, this is the very definition of anarchy, and would seem to support Hobbs belief that a central order was necessary to keep this natural state from developing.

Going on in history, we find that any society or civilization goes through this stage of the strong overpowering the weak, and then creating a ruling order to centralize their power over the nation. Warfare then became the instrument of the state, and was used against other weaker nations. If we fast-forward in history, we can see the results of a collapsed state which is experiencing anarchy in such failed states as Somalia, where the natural order can be seen. Indeed, whenever there is a breakdown in the power of the state, chaos and anarchy seem to follow.

During the last 60-70 years, politics and political thought has experienced another revolution. With the formation of the United Nations was established a principle of Human Rights. For much of history, up until the Treaty of Westphalia, warfare was a legitimate tool of statecraft. Leading up to the end of the First World War, there was a desire among many European nations to never again see such a war take place. Thus, treaties such as the Treaty of Paris were signed, which forbade wars of aggression. Interestingly enough, both Japan and Germany were signatories to this treaty, which was flagrantly broken during the Second World War.

With the Second World War, the concept of genocide came into popular focus. While genocide was not a new concept by any means, the extermination campaigns of the Nazi party against Jews shocked the world like never before.

With the establishment of the United Nations, Human Rights were introduced. Political thought recognized that states do not always fulfil their side of the Social Contract which was introduced by Hobbes, and misuse their power against their own citizens. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations laid out 30 rights that citizens have, including freedom from persecution, protection of women and children, right of religion, and right of free expression in Government.

However, the UN upheld by social contract theory of Hobbs by stating that

“In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.  (UN Charter Article 29)

Thus, these freedoms are limited by the expression of the rights and freedoms of others, social morality, and public order and general welfare.

However, where does the line exist between the establishment of order and the will of the population? If the natural order exists in the absence of a centralized government, as Hobbes predicted, where do current protest movements ranging from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement sit?

Last year, at the start of the Libyan civil war, I wrote on this blog that Libya faced an uncertain future if Gadhafi was removed. The danger of a power vacuum being created existed then, and exists even more so now. Egypt has experienced a similar crisis, with the Mubarak regime being removed, but with an uncertain political future now existing.

In the opinion of Australia’s foremost expert on Libya and perhaps on the Arab Spring, Dr Sally Totman, the Arab Spring has accomplished very little actual good to the general population. In both Libya and Egypt, the ruling elites now are the same as before the rebellion. In Egypt it is the military who supported Mubarak, but who threw him to the wolves when international tide turned against him. In Libya, it is the old supporters of Gadhafi who once again turned against him with the general tide.  Syria has been in a state of anarchy and civil war for almost a year, with extremist influences such as Al Qaeda becoming more and more active in the country.

The mood of the Arab Spring has turned from one of optimism and change to one of cynicism and discontent. In Libya, the united tribes are beginning to turn on each other, with violent encounters occurring, and little attempt to create a stable state. In Egypt, there have been protests after protests against the current ruling body, to no avail. A general malevolent atmosphere has settled over the Middle East, setting in motion attempts by regional power brokers to seize greater support for themselves.

In short, the Arab Spring has turned into an Arab Winter, with few of the goals of the revolution being achieved, and only the figureheads of a regime being taken away.

But why are such movements gaining traction? Why are people, especially in the West, dissatisfied with their life, and are willing to take up action against the Government that they elected into power?

Hobbes, in his theory, considered greatly the idea of fear in politics. To Hobbes, mankind was driven by fear, and the greatest fear according to Hobbes was the fear of death. As the state was the only entity with the legitimate use of violence through the justice system against its own people, Hobbes held that fear was a necessary part of a stable society – fear of the sovereign and the consequences of acting against him. Machiavelli stated this also by posing the theoretical question “Should a Prince strive to be feared or loved?” His answer was very diplomatic:

Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated, which will always be as long as he abstains from the property of his citizens and subjects and from their women. But when it is necessary for him to proceed against the life of someone, he must do it on proper justification and for manifest cause, but above all things he must keep his hands off the property of others, because men more quickly forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.   

To both Hobbes and Machiavelli, a certain fear of the sovereign powers should always be present in the citizenship. Not hatred, but a certain fear of acting against them. The responsibility of the state, under the social contract, was not to move against their people unjustly or to attempt to use unjust force against them.

It may be argued that such revolutions as in Syria are a response to attempts by the Government to use unjust force against those protesting. It may also be argued that such force by the population is not unjust, even under a Hobbesian model, as Hobbes always held that citizens should have the right of self-preservation, even through use of violence.

My argument, however, is far more pragmatic. In countries experiencing the Arab Spring, the Government did incite a culture of fear surrounding them. The general citizens were afraid of their governments, and with good reason. However, attempts to attack the government were not in response to actions by the Government. In Libya, Syria, and Egypt, there were no attempts by the state to engage in hostile action against the general population. Dissenters may have been treated harshly, however in the political climate these states existed in, such actions often were seen as necessary to keep order. In Libya, for example, harsh measures defeated the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, pushing them to the table to negotiate peace. In Egypt, they kept an undercurrent of fanaticism and terrorism controlled for decades.

It is said that desperate situations call for desperate measures, and this is what we have seen in Syria, Egypt, and Libya. Were they democracies? No. Were they necessarily a kind and welcoming regime? No. Did human rights abuses occur? Most probably yes. However, these were no worse than others in the region, and may be argued were a strategy by the government to ensure a stable society. The validity of such a revolution can be argued either way.

But what about Australia, Europe, and the US? Is there any reason for protest and revolt in these countries? I would say, absolutely not. I can speak from an Australian perspective, as that is what I am most familiar with. In Australia, there is a country which is one of the richest in the world. The economy has continued to be strong, and the recession did not nearly hit Australia as hard as other parts of the world. Australia as a social system which is large and generous, with public health cover, myriads of  government grants, and a unemployment system which enables one to effectively live without working productively. In short, life in Australia is mostly prosperous. Even counting in people’s bad decisions, it is not hard to survive in this country. And yet, we see violent protests in capital cities across Australia. We see a mob like attack on Australia’s elected Prime Minister. We see groups representing a large number of interests all attacking the government.

Here is where the concept of fear must be introduced. People must respect and fear their elected government, while at the moment, this lack of fear emboldens the protesters. With the attack on the Prime Minister in Canberra, no arrests were made, no person was charged, and very little attempt was made to disperse the rioters. With the Occupy protests, clashes in Melbourne resulted in attacks on serving Police Officers by protesters who flatly refused to obey direct orders by the state.

With the previous Melbourne G20 riots in 2006, Australian protesters assaulted police, destroyed property, attacked police vans, and generally engaged in public rioting.

Why do riots occur? They occur because there is no respect or fear left of the government. And this is partly the government’s fault. As with a child, the child must have a certain respect and sometimes even fear of the consequence of their actions in order to be brought up properly. If this respect for authority, and fear of consequences of bad behaviour is not present, the natural order of things will take place.

This natural order of things, this anarchy which is dreamed about by the left is a lie. It is a utopian concept which will result in public disorder and chaos. One can say that the most free society on earth is Somalia, or similar states with a breakdown of law and order. But my question is: “Is that what we want to live in?”

The Picture of Anarcy.