Other debate (guests)
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am an atheist, so as a result I think the last speaker would say my opinions on Islam are completely worthless. But I'd like to reassure him that at least I'm not gay. Otherwise he'd really dislike me.
[Note: My opening is a reply to the previous speech.]
I'm not gay, but I think gays deserve the right to live their own lives in peace in whatever country in the world they happen to find themselves. No claps for that I see.
Let me get back to addressing the motion. Now in one sense this motion is a really interesting question. It is the question of the age. And in one sense, this motion is absolutely obviously false. Nobody I talked to about this motion thought: "Oh, that's a really strange topic for a debate. 'Islam is a religion of peace'? Oh, I never thought about that .. Islam, violence .. There was some incident one time .. Yeah, maybe .."
Nobody thought that. Instead they expressed concern for my safety. So everybody knows that Islam has a problem with violence. And that's why we're here.
Modern killings for IslamNow in case you don't read the newspapers, I'm just going to give you a very quick list.
We had 9/11. Then we had the shoe bomber. We had the LA airport attack. If you don't know these things, go Google them. The Beltway sniper. The Madrid train bombings. We had the 7/7 London bombings. The 21/7 followups. The Seattle Jewish centre attack. That was just under Bush.
Under Obama, we had the Boston Marathon. Little Rock. Fort Hood. Flight 253. That was the underpants bomber, if you remember him. The Toulouse massacre, which was absolutely disgusting. The Times Square bombing attempt. The Frankfurt airport shooting. The Charlie Hebdo arson attack. The Bulgarian bus bombing. The Woolwich near-beheading and the Jewish Museum shooting. And lots more to come before Obama leaves office.
All of this is just within the West. And I've left out a ton of them. A tiny sample. I've left out all of the Islamic terror attacks in Israel, in Russia, in India. These are only recent attacks and only in the West.
Outside the West, we can start talking about Boko Haram, who people started paying attention to this year, but of course they've been slaughtering Christians in Nigeria for years and years, for about 7 years now. [Note: Should be 5 years.] We can talk about ISIS, and before that the Iraqi jihadis, and the Syrian jihadis of different stripes. The Algerian jihad. Does anybody remember all the village slaughters in the 1990s in Algeria? Is this all swept under the carpet? Al Shabaab in Somalia, who kill apostates and people who watch the World Cup. The Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban, who are slaughtering at girls' schools, at primary schools. They've had chemical attacks on girls' schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And then the state killing by countries like Iran and Sudan.
Historic killings for IslamNor did we talk about the past. So our ancestors, 100 years ago, as Oliver, the first speaker said, were well aware - had the kind of view - of Islam as a violent religion. And that's because of the endless violence between Islam and the West, going right back to the start of Islam. So we had the Armenian Genocide. The genocide and expulsion of all non-Muslims from Turkey. And Turkey itself of course had been conquered by Islam. As you all well know, it was 90 percent Christian when it was conquered by Islam by the sword. Our ancestors were well aware of all this.
Now I'm not going to defend Christianity. We have a bunch of atheists here. The Christians aren't here to defend themselves. And in fact the thing about modern Christians is they probably wouldn't defend 1400 AD Christianity anyway. Anyway, if you want defence of Christianity you're in the wrong place. It's not going to come tonight.
But we're talking about Islam. And so, you had the forced conversion of Turkey by warfare. Before that you had the conquest of Spain. And of course the conquest of Christian North Africa and the Christian Middle East. So what has happened is that there has been an ocean of blood for 1,400 years. A chap called Bill Warner has at least attempted to put numbers on all this. I haven't talked about the Hindus. Tens of millions of Hindus killed on what you might call the eastern front. Bill Warner estimates that Islam has killed 270 million people over 1,400 years. And that's more than Communism. I thought communism was the top killer. But according to Bill Warner, Islam is the greatest killer of all time. In the history of the world.
Now, he might be right. His numbers might be too high. But the fact is, there is an ocean of blood caused by Islam. And one caused by Christianity. And one caused by Communism, etc. I agree with that. But the idea that Islam for 1,400 years has been a religion of peace is comically false.
So is there anything to debate? I should just sit down now, having proved the point, and not push it any further by trying to attempt some other argument. I'm going to attempt something, which is: What does this ocean of blood have to do with most Muslims? And what does this ocean of blood have to do with the religion itself? I'm going to attempt a couple of things, and they won't be exactly nice answers. I'm not here to make everybody feel happy.
What does this ocean of blood have to do with most Muslims?So, are most Muslims jihadists? Well of course they're not. Most Muslims, around the world, 1.6 billion of them, they want to live life, they want to bring up their family, they want their kids to go to school, and they want to be able to afford a reasonable house and a car, or whatever.
And that's great. And in the history of the world, it's often the people who stay home are the heroes, and the people who go out with ideas are actually quite often the villains. It is ideas that put people into gas chambers. If you're selfish and hedonistic and stay home and watch TV, you won't be putting people into gas chambers. It's because you believe in some kind of ridiculous load of nonsense that you end up chemically bombing girls' schools in Pakistan or putting kids in gas chambers in Poland.
So most Muslims stay home. But do they support the jihadis in principle, or at least rhetorically, or from the comfort of their armchair? Well obviously not 100 percent. So what? Is it 1 percent? Here we need to turn to opinion polls. And I've got a bunch of opinion polls. And they're mixed. And that's my message. The message on this is mixed. It's not necessarily happy clappy. It is mixed.
In the year 2000, this is before 9/11, 73 percent of Palestinians supported suicide attacks against America. Not against Israel - probably more against Israel - but against America. So this is before 9/11. After 9/11, in 2002, 52 percent of Egyptians supported 9/11. So these are majorities. I'm not even talking about the countries with 30 percent support for 9/11, or 40 percent. We can find countries with majority support. In 2004, the majority in Jordan and Morocco supported suicide bombing of the Jews of Israel. In 2006, 40 percent of Indonesian Muslims would use violence against those blaspheming Islam. The numbers go on. They're not necessarily that good. There's 20 percent here, 30 percent there, 40 percent. 51 percent of Jordanians support Hezbollah. 56 percent support Hamas. 54 percent of Nigerians support Bin Laden. That's 2010. In 2013, 35 percent of Palestinians support Al Qaeda.
So, jihadism is not a lunatic fringe. The message that I'm giving you is that jihadism is one very mainstream interpretation of Islam. It might be a terrible interpretation according to some people. And that's great. I certainly hope most people agree it's a terrible interpretation. But it's mainstream, and it goes right back to the start of Islam. And it is supported by, let us say, 20 percent of all Muslims, so 300 million people. So, remember, it's 300 million. It's not 1.6 billion. So don't say it's 1.6 billion, if anybody does. Nobody does that I know of. But let's not say it's 300 thousand because that's not true either. It's more like 300 million. So a bit depressing. A bit dark.
What does this ocean of blood have to do with the religion itself?The second thing is, does this all have anything to do with the religion of Islam? Here I think the answer is also somewhat depressing, because of course it does. Where else do you think these people get these ideas? The Boko Harams, the Taliban and all that. As far as they're concerned, it's a lot to do with the religion of Islam. It is Islam. It's not even just a political movement based on Islam. It's Islam itself. So all of these groups - Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, the 9/11 bombers, the 7/7 bombers - all of these people are getting their inspiration from a particular reading of the religion of Islam. A reading that I am here to say is very mainstream, and that's our big problem. It's not tiny fringes.
The disturbing question is would the Prophet Muhammad approve of this? Now I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that he probably would. I think the Prophet Muhammad would not necessarily have a problem with violence. Even his admirers - I'm sure we've plenty of his admirers here - would have to agree that he was involved in a huge amount of warfare, violence and assassinations in the last ten years.
I'll just give you one example, which is the slaughter of Jews of the Banu Qurayza, where he beheaded all the males, and took the females captive as booty. And children were sold into slavery. Now this was just one particular event. There were a huge number of other violent acts. There were assassinations of critics, and so on. So I think, not having any particular great following for the religion of Islam or any other religion, I think the idea that Muhammad would disapprove of Al Qaeda certainly would have to remain unproven.
Is there any hope?So I'm painting an absolutely miserable picture. 300 million people support jihad. It's firmly rooted in Islam. Muhammad would probably approve. It's been going on for 1,400 years. Is there any hope? I'm going to give you three things where I think there is hope.
Religions do not have to be logicalAnd the first one is that - you may not predict what I am about to say. The first one is that religions do not have to be logical. Religions do not have to follow their founders. Now what do I mean by this: "Religions don't have to be logical". Well, again, I think there is no religion that is based on logic and evidence. If you're into logic and evidence you'd be into science and atheism. Religions are based on faith, which is a belief in things that can't really be justified by the standard methods of logic and evidence.
I'll give you a quick example, based on attacking Moses, of all people. Which is in Numbers 31 when Moses ordered all the rapes. Right, you know all that? In Numbers 31, when Moses said: "You didn't rape those women. I'm annoyed with you." Right? No, you don't know it, because Christians and Jews don't talk about it. And that's a good thing. Christians and Jews don't talk about it because it's kind of embarrassing, what Moses said in Numbers 31. He was angry with his army for not raping all the women. They were the Midianites.
Christians and Jews claim to follow Moses. But they don't follow that. In fact, nobody follows Moses. So how do religions do that? It's because they are irrational. They found some kind of way theologically to say that this is where they came from, this is the tradition they came from, but they don't follow it at all. In fact I think Moses would be horrified if he came down to earth and saw what Christianity and Judaism are. He'd want to have killed Jesus, for example. He'd have agreed with the crucifixion.
Could Islam change?So can Islam do this? I think it's already happening. The people I see doing it are the Ahmadis, who have started up a mosque here in Galway. Now the Ahmadis are great. There have been 24,000 Islamic terrorist attacks. In history? No, since 2001, since 9/11. There have been 24,000 Islamic terrorist attacks. As far as I know - and you can correct me - not a single one was done by an Ahmadi Muslim. They deserve a round of applause for that to be honest.
The Ahmadi Muslims have a theological belief that any kind of justice needs to be implemented in the next life or whatever. Now I don't believe in the "next life" or whatever, but whatever gets them through the day is brilliant. The Ahmadis are much to be admired. Whatever they want to believe. If that's what they believe, we can all live with them. Let me tell you one thing. If every Muslim in the world was an Ahmadi Muslim, there would be no terrorism. So think about that. None of those groups would exist that I've talked about. I'm going to now annoy the Ahmadi Muslims by saying that if Muhammad came back to life he mightn't approve of them. But, it doesn't matter.
So, what is my optimism for the future? My optimism is that Islam will evolve, in the direction that the Ahmadis show. That violence or whatever is symbolic, or should be put in the past, that justice is for Allah, whatever. They can come up with some theological "fudge", you might like, or "new argument", if you prefer that, to make it all good, and make it that we are going to be peaceful, we aren't going to persecute gays, we aren't going to persecute apostates, we aren't going to persecute blasphemers. Allah will sort all that out.
Now that's what I want to see. Is it going to happen?
Religions changeI just say it could happen. And the great example of why it could happen is Christianity. Because if I was saying any of the stuff I've been saying in 1500 AD in Galway, I'd have been taken out and burnt at the stake, as an atheist, as a heretic, as a blasphemer, as a dissenter. So how on earth did Christianity change from that? The fact is, religions change, over hundreds of years, and they can become the opposite of what they used to be. Because they're not based on logic.
So, I have a hope that this will happen. I'll have to tell you the reasons why I do have some hope. Most counter-jihadists have no hope at all that the world will get any better. They think it's all going to get worse. I do have some hope, but I'm out of time. But I'm just raising the possibility that in the long run, maybe not in our lifetimes, but in 100-200 years, Islam will be entirely like Ahmadi Islam.
Islam is a religion of peace, apparently. The Islamists and leftists won the day. But the jihad continues.
An experiment waving an ISIS flag and an Israeli flag at UC Berkeley, Nov 2014.
The students get angry at the Israeli flag but not at the ISIS flag.
This video sums up why Islamic terror attacks against the West will continue.
One student rushed to defend Umar al-Qadri.
Another student claims he normally doesn't side with right-wing Islamic religion.
Debate continues with Dean Buckley - who said the democracies are the big killers.
He struggles to find a metric by which this is true.
He ends up talking about "economic violence" and "invisible and indirect violence".
He claims the West is the cause of third world poverty.
Claire Finn schools him: "People die in countries that don't have political and economic freedom. That's not caused by nations that do."