“Al Qaeda should attack China, not the US!”

Or so says this Lebanese blogger in this original and most unusual post:

Little says more about al Qaeda being a bunch of little punks obsessed with hitting the big guy (the US and the West) than their lack of adherence to their ideology.

If al Qaeda truly wanted to make the world a better place for Muslims, the US would not be the first country they would attack. Muslims live incredibly free and profitable lives in the United States. And Muslims can be seen thriving in all areas of employment and life as shopkeepers, doctors, artists, and professors.

But in China, this is not the case. Muslims are horribly oppressed by the Chinese government. The Chinese government is officially atheist and has no problem toppling every pillar of Islam. Chinese cuisine is packed with pork, and alcohol is a popular commodity (okay, that’s not really a key point). The Chinese government indirectly supports the genocide of Muslims in Darfur (albeit by other Muslims).

The United States does not stop anyone from expressing their faith. In fact, some American Christians argue that Muslims and other religious minorities receive more religious rights than they do. At elite universities, it is accepted to practice Islam, but it is absolutely unacceptable to profess one’s Christian faith. That’s not the way it is in China.

Yes, I realize the anger stems from America supporting the Saudi regime, Israel, and keeping dictators like Hosni Mubarak in power in the Middle East. But the hate has become entirely irrational. The US took out Saddam Hussein, a man probably responsible for more Muslim deaths than anyone else alive. The US is working (although slowly) to distance itself from Saudi Arabia. The US is pressuring Israel (although very little) to continue with the Gaza pullout. The US is pushing for rightful democracy in Lebanon.

But now al Qaeda is working with entities that do not benefit the Muslim community; they entities that are merely against the United States. The government of Syria massacred over 20,000 Muslims (the number changes depending on who you ask) in Hama in 1982. The Assad regimes mercilessly clamped down on Sunni groups. The Syrian government is an unIslamic government run by Muslim heretics. The Syrian Baath is secularist. And yet al Qaeda and Syria are cooperating to mount attacks in Iraq.

The same goes with Iraqi Baathists. Baath ideology is counter to Islamic movements, and yet al Qaeda operatives are allying with them.

These people are not driven by ideological zeal. They are driven by blind, irrational hate of the US, and they will do anything to take the US down.

If they actually believed their faith and wanted to fight to promote it and help their brethren, China would be a much more suitable target.

Let’s see how far he gets with his “refocus your terrorism on China” campaign. My guess is it’s not going very far. The hatred against the US is too intense, too all consuming, and the terrorists aren’t very open to arguments that run counter to the party line. Too bad we’re so bogged down in Iraq that we can’t give Al Qaedea all the attention they deserve. They are sick monsters, a living breathing threat, and they have chosen their target, the US of A, not the PR of C. That’s not changing.

The Discussion: 40 Comments

Ouch, bad timing! There was a suicide bomb in a bus in Fujian yesterday. From what I read, the bomber died and thirtysomething people were injured. It was done by a man who was in the late stages of cancer and had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or anything like that, but scary and unfortunate nonetheless.

August 8, 2005 @ 8:16 pm | Comment

Amazing, Kevin.

August 8, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

The hatred against US has its root in religion confrontation.

On one side, you have islam fundamentalist.

On the other side, you have christian fundamentalist. US never thought itself as fundamentalist. But in the eyes of bystander, they have the same zeal of fundamentalist:

US generals are arguing his God is more powerful;

US president is calling crusade(Oops, a slip of tongue, then he switched to another word.)

“Religion is the opium of the people.”

August 8, 2005 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

You are totally, totally wrong on this one, Steve. Al Qaeda’s rage against the US has NOTHING to do with Christian fundamentalism, which has only come to the forefront over the past few years. So I want to know why you say this.

What they are against is the perceived western DECADENCE, which the Christian fundamentalists also condemn! Their main targets of rage are the money-makers of Wall Street, the corruption of Las Vegas with its worship of loose sex and gambling, NOT fundamentalist Christianity, which is ideologically quite similar to fundamentalist Islam, only they are based on different books.

Please, if you make a statement like this be prepared to back it up.

August 8, 2005 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

“Please, if you make a statement like this be prepared to back it up.”
Backing statements up does not seem to be steve’s area of expertise.

August 8, 2005 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

Daily linklets 9th August

They’re back…. A guide to Hong Kong’s Chinese blogs. Danwei has a good China media guide. Hong Kongers don’t want to be a part of China. Another Simon in Hong Kong starts blogging: Capitalist Solutions from Simon Patkin, of the eponymous think-tank. …

August 8, 2005 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

Steve is wrong, but I think for reasons primarily different to the ones you put forth, Richard. Islamic terrorism stems from shame. Shame at a poor, failed, repressive, stagnant and clearly trailing culture. Shame leads to anger and that anger is naturally directed at the society seen to be the wealthiest, freest and most dynamic.

If the West abandoned Israel, withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan and stopped supporting any Arab governments, do you really think Islamic terrorism would stop?

Hell no. They’d still be yammering on about the Crusades and Andelusia

Why do they hate us? In the case of he extremists, they hate us because they hate themselves (specifically, their powerlessness and poverty) and they are projecting.

Consider this, In the three pre-9/11 modern struggles between Muslims and non-Muslims — Israel/Palestine, the Balkans and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — the US supported the Muslims (by force of arms) in 2 of them. When secular Baathist Iraq attacked religious Kuwait and threatened religious Saudi Arabia, the US supported the religious over the secular.

If the Islamist extremists were at all rational, you might think that would earn some tiny modicum of good will. But it hasn’t.

August 8, 2005 @ 10:24 pm | Comment

“Why do they hate us? In the case of he extremists, they hate us because they hate themselves (specifically, their powerlessness and poverty) and they are projecting.”

Wonderful argument. I am sure that will help address hatred issue. ”

” Shame at a poor, failed, repressive, stagnant and clearly trailing culture.

What is that culture? Isam.

“Shame leads to anger and that anger is naturally directed at the society seen to be the wealthiest, freest and most dynamic.”

what is that? a christian culture.

Yeah, you still deny the confrontation of religion. Why do you adopt this ostrich policy?

Conrad, I used to have muslim friends, well educated and complained about US greatly. I am wondering how many muslim friend do you have? Does any of them complain to you about US?

August 8, 2005 @ 10:39 pm | Comment

Conrad, I agree about the roots of their hatred against us. Like China, the Islam world was once the envy of the planet. Look at them now. Leaving Iraq would certainly not stop Islamofascist attacks. But if we weren’t there, I do believe (as you know) we would have the strength to more effectively combat this lethal and determined enemy, the great threat of our time — Al Qaeda and its ilk, not Saddam. But that’s something you and I have debated countless times ( with me winning each time).

As you say, they are utterly irrational, and I don’t believe there is a prayer in the world they can be stopped by any means like a “war on terror.” At best, they can be contained and their threat minimized. Eradication, tragically, is out of the question, especially in light of the huge recruitment boom brought about by Iraq.

I do think that the comparison of Islamofascism and fundalmentalist Christianity is totally fair. You can write a checklist of all the things they hate: Gays, women, science, freedom of speech, religious toleration, critical thinking, etc. Any kind of fundamentalism, including Hasidic Judaism, is a blight on society.

August 8, 2005 @ 10:45 pm | Comment

Very few Souther Baptists and Hasidic Jews strapping bombs to themselves, though, eh?

As for you Steve, I am pretty damned sure I currently have more Muslims on my speed dial than you’ve ever met in your entire life.

And if you thnk that Western/American culture is “Christian” you are bonkers. Secularism is the defining characteristic of Western society and a primary reason for its relative success.

August 8, 2005 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

“I am pretty damned sure I currently have more Muslims on my speed dial than you’ve ever met in your entire life.”

Congratulations! Does anyone agree with your statement of “trailing culture”? They must really appreciate your respect.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

Steve, what is an ostrich policy?
You really lost me with that comment.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t wish terrorism on any country, but it’s odd you should mention it..

August 8, 2005 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

My guess is that Al-Q target the US rather than China for three reasons.
1 The US has occupied Arab/Muslim lands. [OK, We’ll get to Xinjiang later]
2. The US’s one sided support for Israel
3. Many Muslims move to live or study in the west where they become radicalised.

Simply put, China doesn’t have a high profile in the Middle East, doesn’t have troops or bases in Muslim countries and doesn’t have large numbers of well educated Muslims seething with indignation about Palestine, Iraq or women wearing short skirts.

That’s why despite the repression of Muslims in Xinjiang, there wont be many suicide bombers on the Beijing subway. Oh and of course because the PSB has much better informers than the CIA.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

Plenty do. Lets start with Anwar Ibrahim:

The culture in Muslim countries is, today, all too often one of repression, poverty, ignorance and stagnation.

In the Sixties and the Seventies, the Islamic movements represented hope, the language of justice, the ideal of self-reliance for the masses languishing in misery. A plethora of Islamic movements and initiatives made their appearance; and we toiled against autocracies and despotism in Muslim societies.

But the movements became a mirror image of what they were fighting. The leadership passed from intellectuals to semi-literate demagogues. What the Islamic movements have generated is fanatic militancy, a fundamentalism that is as autocratic, illiberal and repressive as the established order they seek to dethrone. Instead of allowing debate, and a rethinking about the contemporary meaning of Islam, fundamentalist notions became something to die for and finally something to kill and destroy for in pure hatred and envy.

The failure of Islamic movements is their inability to come to terms with modernity, to give modernity a sustainable home-grown expression. Instead of engaging with the abundant problems that bedevil Muslim lives, the Islamic prescription consists of blind following of narrow pieties and slavish submission to inept obscurantists. Instead of engagement with the wider world, they have made Islam into an ethic of separation, separate under-development, and negation of the rest of the world.

The struggle against violence in the Muslim world is much more than a struggle against murdering fanatics like the Taliban. Or despotic leaders like Saddam Hussein and Mahathir Muhammad. It is also a struggle against the Islamic movements whose simplistic and virulent rhetoric often ends up sanctifying the fanatics and demonises everything else in the absolutist, unquestioning terms of all totalitarian perspectives.

The answers to the problems of the Muslim societies are not hard to find – merely difficult to initiate. Political freedom, open debate, the liberation of society to be civil, plural and humane – these are obvious remedies. But the Islamic movements have become a barrier to them.

We need reasoned creativity and critical awareness. These used to be favourite phrases of Anwar Ibrahim. But his most frequent prescription was humility. The humility to acknowledge one’s own mistakes and shortcomings.

August 8, 2005 @ 11:41 pm | Comment

There’s no historical memory of Chinese-Islamic conflict, too, for all that it existed at points. The Wahabbist rhetoric is of the Crusades and the reconquista.


August 8, 2005 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

i am very surprised that richard cite this article, in which the author, not matter with what excuses, says that china should be attacked by terrorists

August 8, 2005 @ 11:55 pm | Comment

“what is an ostrich policy?”

Kevin, the phrase started from the belief that Ostrich buries its head in sand. Since it does not see others, it assume others does not see it either.

For example,


August 9, 2005 @ 12:04 am | Comment

Bingfeng, I quote it because it’s kind of crazy and ridiculous. That’s why there’s the exclamation points in the headline!! It involves China and it’s an interesting but bizarre viewpoint, don’t you think?

Do you really think I posted it because I believe terrorists should attack China? Please. I’m going there in 2 weeks.

August 9, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment

china should be attacked by terrorists, a blogger says

china should be attacked by terrorists, a blogger says

August 9, 2005 @ 12:12 am | Comment

Okaaay …..

China might not be verynice to its domestic muslim population, but America is the only country that is actively attacking Muslims in their own countries.

Maybe when China invades an islamic homeland or two it should get the same treatment as America. The only Muslim country that China has oppressed has been east turkistan, and then they only did it because it had formerly been Chinese by conquest for centuries.

August 9, 2005 @ 1:24 am | Comment


Okaaay, then when did the US start invading Muslim countries, and when did the terrorism start? Not sure if I’ve got your cause-effect timeline right.

August 9, 2005 @ 1:30 am | Comment

America is the only country that is actively attacking Muslims in their own countries

Oh yeah? Tell it to the Uigurs:

As a strong young man, Yusufbeg Muhlisi was an officer in the forces of the Republic ofEast Turkestan, which existed in the late 1940s, until China invaded and crushed it in a deal with Joseph Stalin. Today, at 80, Agha is the leader of the Liberation Front of East Turkestan and an open advocate of revolt against Chinese occupation.

“This is a battle, not mere violence,” said Muhlisi. “This is not terrorism but a fight for national liberation. It’s like Bosnia or Chechnya. What’s different is that for our people, time is
running out. Every minute is important. We don’t want dialogue. We have to fight.”

The late Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a prominent Uigur leader, once said of his people: “The Chinese have made the Uigurs like pandas – a species on the edge of extinction.” In 1949, Uigurs made up 90% of Xinjiang’s population. Now they make up just 47% of its 17m inhabitants.

August 9, 2005 @ 1:57 am | Comment


Though there was never a clash of the dimension of the crusades or the siege of Vienna it is not correct that there were no conflicts between the Muslims in China and other religious groups and the government.
Only to mention one example you could look up the muslim rebellions in the 1850es and 60es in Yunnan in your history book.

August 9, 2005 @ 4:58 am | Comment

For all those who think the islamic terrorists are only a problem to the West or the US:

Those lunatics hate everybody who doesn’t share their interpretation of islam. Be they moderat muslims, christians or atheists no matter if they are of American, Chinese or German origin.

This is not about the confrontation of religions but about the clash of one fundamentalist interpretation of a religion with reality.

If this was only about hate towards christianity, why didn’t they attacked the Vatican in the first place instead of the symbol of secular materialism, the WTC.

P.S. I hope Steves clash with reality won’t have compareble serious consequences.

August 9, 2005 @ 5:15 am | Comment

Here is a very ineresting op-ed on the roots of islamic fundamentalism in Europe:


August 9, 2005 @ 5:52 am | Comment

Karen Armstrong has recently published a pretty comprehensive history of all three kinds of monotheistic fundamentalisms – Jewish and Christian and Muslim fundamentalisms – entitled “The Battle For God”. I don’t entirely agree with her analyses, but her historical details are worthwhile.

August 9, 2005 @ 6:13 am | Comment

I just put this in the open thread but it’s more relevant here:

Gracious, another Chnese blogger in need of some serious therapy.

August 9, 2005 @ 7:21 am | Comment

What a weird day…. I find myself agreeing completely with Conrad, of all people. At least I did until he started talking about East Turkestan, but that’s a different story.

But as for Christian fundamentalism, I’m sorry, but it is an issue here. Why? Because it has such a huge affect over how America reacts to the Islamist terrorists. And I’m sorry, but I can’t really believe that Christian fundamentalism is only a recent phenomenon in American politics. For many a long year now many people in the rest of the Western world have seen America as being the last truly Christian, and largely fundamentalist, country in the world. The evil does not stem purely from the Islamists. Sure, not too many Christian fundamentalists or Hasidic Jews have blown themselves up of late, but there’s been no lack of those willing to assasinate abortion doctors or Palestinians. Certainly not as many as Islamist terrorists, but still there’s been too many. I suspect the difference in numbers has as much to do with the economic, political and strategic situations as with anything else. Why should young Christian or Jewish men blow themselves up when their governments kill Muslims far more efficiently and with far deadlier effect and much greater technology than any government of a Muslim country or any Islamist organisation could ever afford?

Still, that point about 2 of the last 3 Muslim-non Muslim conflicts is ver enlightening. Why should America side with religious Muslims? Because America has far more in common with religious Muslims than it could ever admit? Or because there might actually be some residual belief in freedom and democracy with some influence over US foreign policy? Buggered if I know. But that point shows very, very clearly just how irrational all the fundamentalists- muslim or otherwise- involved in the conflict are.

Thanks, Conrad, for reminding us of the historical context of this conflict.

August 9, 2005 @ 7:45 am | Comment

china should be attacked by terrorists, a blogger says

china should be attacked by terrorists, a blogger says

August 9, 2005 @ 7:45 am | Comment

Chris, I despise Christian fundamentalism, buit its effect in America had been negligible until Bush came into power, and it was basically a non-issue until after his second term started, when the became MUCH more brazen. Over the hysterical objections of the Christian Right, abortion remains legal, the Terry Shiavo BS bill was rejected, all the efforts to stop teaching evolution or label it a “theory” failed, and the list goes on and on. The one instance where it really affected policy was stem cell research, and that is haunting Bush — most Americans are frimly in favor of embryonic stem cell research, even Nancy Reagan and now (flip-flop, flip-flop) Bill Frist. Those who assassinated abortion clinics are serving lengthy jail terms and most Americans see them as deranged and dangerous. (Even the evangelical leaders have denounced them in no uncertain terms, but I see this as hypocritical, since their branding of abortion doctors as “baby killers” inspires unbalanced followers to commit bloodshed.)

I see them as a huge menace and a gathering threat as they mobilize to end gay civil unions, womens’ reproductive freedoms, contraception education, public broadcasting and much more. But nationally they scored very few victories until Bush came into office, and the depraved acts of a handful of fanatics has helped mobilize much of America against them. The big difference now is the Bush factor and his nauaseating suck-up to them, as we saw with his advocacy last week of teaching “intelligent design.” (All I can say is, if there really were such a thing, Bush would never have come into existence.)

You and I tend to agree, but I would like to know why you say the Christian Right “has such a huge affect over how America reacts to the Islamist terrorists.” You may certainly be right, but I have never heard this expressed before. What are you referring to?

And again, no one is more critical of the fundies than I. But in terms of tangible changes in America, they haven’t had any huge victories — yet. Let’s keep it that way.

August 9, 2005 @ 8:16 am | Comment

Is Rudolph a fundamentalist, or a white supremacist?

August 9, 2005 @ 10:40 am | Comment

Rudolph is an insane monster. Probably a little of each.

August 9, 2005 @ 10:46 am | Comment

I will be curious to know how you define “Christian fundamentalists”.

August 9, 2005 @ 10:52 am | Comment

In my definition, it’s someone who takes the Bible literally, discounting evidence based on science and history. Once they believe the Bible (or the Koran or the Book of Mormon) is the fundamental truth and will accept no argument, their minds are closed and they are capable of extreme behavior or beliefs, based on superstition and bullshit. What is your definition?

August 9, 2005 @ 10:57 am | Comment


Based on your definition, Rudolph can not be a fundamentalist. Because He doesn’t take the Bible literally. Where is it written in the Bible that the Whites are the true Isrealites (which Rudolph believes in)?

And if I just change a few words in your description, it will fit about 80% of the people of the world.

In my definition, it’s someone who takes the Accepted Wisdom of the Day literally, discounting evidence based on science and history. Once they believe the Accepted Wisdom of the Day (or the Koran or the Book of Mormon) is the fundamental truth and will accept no argument, their minds are closed and they are capable of extreme behavior or beliefs, based on superstition and bullshit.

August 9, 2005 @ 11:42 am | Comment

Look Zhong Wen, I never claimed I knew a thing about Rudolph. You asked if I thought he was x or y and I said probably a little of both. That’s all. So don’t try to put words in my mouth and stop playing games. If you have a point to make, please share it.

August 9, 2005 @ 11:46 am | Comment

But if the Chinese state-controlled media don’t acknowledge attacks (like they didn’t acknowledge AIDS or SARS), what would be the point of a terrorist act? Seems like a gamble, whereas the West would be more of a sure thing.

August 9, 2005 @ 12:11 pm | Comment


I happen to see someone mention in this thread that Chrisitian fundamentalists assasinate abortion doctors and I just want to set the record straight.

August 9, 2005 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

I sure never said that. However, what the Christian fundies preach definitely adds to the notion that violence against abortion clinics is acceptable. Here are some of the more famous examples proving my point:

“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.” – Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, 8-16-93

“When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed… If we’re going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testoserone flowing through their veins. They are not afraid of contempt for their contemporaries. They are not even here to get along. They are here to take over… Somebody like Susan Smith should be dead. She should be dead now. Some people will go, “Well how do you know God doesn’t have a wonderful plan for her life?” He does, it’s listed in the Bible. His plan for her is that she should be dead.” – Randall Terry, Aug 8, 1995, talking about doctors who perform abortions and volunteer escorts

“What it is coming down to is who runs the country. It’s us against them. It’s the good guys versus the bad guys. It’s the God-fearing people against the pagans, and some of the pagans are going to church.” – Randall Terry, 1992

August 9, 2005 @ 12:26 pm | Comment

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