Feral House’s Adam Parfrey Brings Us Extreme Islam: Anti-American Propaganda of Muslim Fundamentalism Just in Time

Written by John Strausbaugh on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.



Consider,
Adam Parfrey suggests, that no fewer than a dozen nations have issued stamps
commemorating that little Palestinian boy shot dead cowering in the street with
his dad, in full view of the news cameras, at the start of the second Intifada.
Read what some young radical Muslims are writing, from a post-9/11 ode to anthrax
to an essay entitled "You Have Made Me Your Human Bomb." Calculate
that even if only a tiny minority of the world’s
Muslim
population embraces militant ideals, that still represents millions of people.



Then recognize
that when the Bush administration warns that the "war on terrorism"
may be years in the prosecution, it’s no joke. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda may
be only the spear-tip of a very large movement, spread throughout the globe.


Parfrey
has edited, and published through his L.A.-based small press Feral House, a
collection of primary texts and images called Extreme Islam: Anti-American
Propaganda of Muslim Fundamentalism
(318 pages, $16). He’s no newcomer
to extreme ideas, having edited and published previous anthologies like Apocalypse
Culture
, Apocalypse Culture II and Rants & Incendiary Tracts.


Extreme
Islam
is an enlightening, disturbing and often frightening primer on radical
Muslim thought. In the post-9/11 environment, it may well be slammed as yellow
journalism, slanted to pander to current fear and hatred of Muslims. Parfrey’s
response, I think, is a good one: If you don’t read what the radicals are
declaring in their own words, how can you know how to defend yourself against
them?


Some of
this is familiar material, like a list of the mad restrictions the Taliban imposed,
or the extravagant promises of heavenly rewards that help a bin Laden turn young
Muslim men into camelkazes–excuse me, "martyrs." For example:
"‘Allah will bring forward the martyrs, on the Day of Judgment, with
such pomp and splendor, that even the prophets if mounted, will dismount to
show their respect for them.’ With such grandeur, will a martyr appear
on the Day of Judgment." And the assurance that "Every man who enters
paradise shall be given 72 houris; no matter at what age he had died, when he
is admitted into paradise, he will become a 30-year-old, and shall not age any
further… A man in paradise shall be given virility equal to that of 100 men."
To demonstrate that Islamic militants think of "Jihad" as nothing
less than a global holy war of conquest (or liberation, depending on whose side
you’re on), there’s the extremely influential Sayyid Quib explaining
that "The reasons for Jihad… are these: to establish God’s authority
on the earth; to arrange human affairs according to the true guidance provided
by God; to abolish all the Satanic forces and Satanic systems of life; to end
the lordship of one man over others, since all men are creatures of God and
no one has the authority to make them his servants or to make arbitrary laws
for them."


There’s
also plenty here that may be new and surprising to the Western reader. Like
a gloss of a conversation between Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in
1941, excerpted from Walter Lacquer’s The Israel-Arab Reader, in
which Arabs and Nazis pledge their total support for each other’s plans
to eradicate Jews and destroy other common enemies like the British. And a grimly
funny speech by the Ayatollah Khomeini to his people in 1983, which begins:
"Honorable nation of Iran; I have received the news of the severing of
relations between the U.S. and Iran. If Carter has ever in his life done a good
thing for the oppressed, it is this very severing of relations. Relations between
a world-devouring looter and a nation that has risen up to liberate itself from
the claws of the international looters, will always be to the loss of the oppressed
nation and in the interest of the looter. We consider this severing of relations
as a good omen; it shows that the U.S. government has given up all its hopes
for Iran."


The book
contains many distressing post-9/11 texts, from bin Laden speeches to that ode
to anthrax, written by a Hamas journalist:



The truth
is that I wondered how to begin! Should I greet you [i.e., anthrax], or should
I curse you? Should I hold my tongue? …I will begin by saying: Oh Anthrax,
despite your wretchedness, you have sown horror in the heart of the lady of
arrogance, of tyranny, of boastfulness! Your gentle touch has made the US’s
life rough and pointless…


You have
entered the most fortified of places; [you have entered] the White House and
they left it like horrified mice… The Pentagon was a monster before you entered
its corridors… And behold, it now transpires that its men are of paper and
its commanders are of cardboard, and they hasten to flee as soon as they see–only
see–chalk dust!


Nevertheless,
you have found your way to only eight American breasts so far… May you continue
to advance, to permeate, and to spread. If I may give you a word of advice,
enter the air…the water faucets from which they drink, and the pens with which
they draft their traps and conspiracies against the wretched peoples.



Though the
book is primarily Islamic rants, Parfrey has included enough material from both
sides of, for example, the Arab-Israeli conflict to skinny past complaints that
the book is one-sided and anti-Muslim. He balances historical readings on the
centuries-long plight of Jews in Arab lands with equally damning material on
the arbitrary and violent creation of the Jewish state, the terrible treatment
of Palestinians subsequently and the vilely racist ravings of Zionist loonies.
And there are a few entries by American Christian fundamentalists who can sound
more Zionist than the Zionists. ("I don’t think Ground Zero is in
New York," Parfrey says to me. "Ground Zero seems to be East Jerusalem,"
where Jewish and Christian Zionists keep plotting to blow up the Al-Aqsa Mosque
on Temple Mount to make way for the Third Temple and kick-start Armageddon.
It was Sharon’s visit to the cornerstone for the Third Temple in the fall
of 2000 that prompted the second Intifada.)


Also, to
counter our tendency to think of "Islam" and "Arabs" in
monolithic terms, the book presents some moderate voices like Sadat, some background
on the ongoing conflicts between Iran and Iraq and among various factions inside
Algeria, and the text of a 1998 fatwa pronounced by Italian Muslims against
Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. (There’s also a communique calling for
Islam to destroy Western democracy, from a man calling himself Shaykh Abdalqadir
as-sufi al-Murabit, "thought to be formerly known as the Scots author Ian
Dallas." Italian Muslims? Scottish Muslims? Who knew?) Parfrey delineates
as well a distinction often lost on Americans: between Arab nation-states and
the historical growth of the Pan-Islamic movement as evidenced by groups like
the Muslim Brotherhood, wherein Islamic radicals pledge their primary allegiance
to no nation, but to the faith itself.


At first
glance many people will think Extreme Islam is just another post-9/11
quickie, but Parfrey contends, "I’ve been wanting to do a book like
this for years," and estimates he’d collected maybe 40 percent of
the material in the book before 9/11. He does concede, however, that the September
attacks were a giant prod to get the book finished and into stores. His sources
range from books, pamphlets and magazines to a philatelist in Jordan to the
Internet–where, he says, a number of good sources of radical Islamic thought
have been blocked in the U.S. in the wake of 9/11.


We discuss
the plethora of palliative post-9/11 editorials about how peaceful the Koran
is, and how extremists represent a tiny minority of an overwhelmingly peaceful
religion. While Parfrey does not claim the ideas he’s gathered in the book
are representative of all Islam, "I do say the Koran is an extremist document,
like the Old Testament and the Babylonian Talmud are extreme documents…
The thing about the fundamentalist extremists is they’re more true to the
Koran, I believe, than the moderates. Obviously there are the peaceful sentences
and passages…but it’s like these people pick and choose what to read
and believe."


Parfrey
agrees that radical Islam is "an undercurrent," but it’s one
that has shown a great strength and ability to spread its revolutionary ideas
throughout Islam. "It is remarkable how extreme a lot of this undercurrent
is. One would think from reading the papers it’s just a few guys in Afghanistan,
and just maybe a few splinter groups. It’s far bigger than that… What’s
incredible to me is why this book hasn’t been done before." There
are plenty of books about Islam, of course, and some, like Sacred Rage,
about Muslim radicals, but Parfrey insists this is the "first and only"
one to present a sampling of texts by the radicals themselves. "I’m
trying to show the way these people really communicate… You should know what
these people are saying about you. And it’s not just a couple. Let’s
say it’s only one percent of Muslims–that’s millions of people."


How does
he think American Muslims might react to this book?


"I
hope they read the thing," he replies. "If they truly are a moderate
force, then they would understand that in their own religion there are people
who would like to see the death of Western Culture, absolutely."


Afterwords


Two New
York Press
folks have new writing out. Music writer Jessica
Hundley has co-authored with Jon Alain Guzik a paperback guidebook with the
engaging title Horny? Los Angeles: A Sexy, Steamy, Downright Sleazy Handbook
to the City
(Really Great Books, 205 pages, $18.95). Now, I don’t know
this guy Guzik but I’ve met Hundley and she’s a nice young lady, so
I’m not amazed to find that Horny? hardly meets the New York City
definition of "downright sleazy." What it is is a guide to L.A.’s
strip clubs, nude beaches, sex shops, pickup bars and fetish joints, written
for both gays and straights, and you may well find it handy next time you’re
planning a trip there.


Our research
editor and frequent writer Daria Vaisman has a cool essay in the latest issue
of Cabinet, still my favorite arts and culture quarterly. It was just
a few years ago that conspiracy theorists, as well as fans (and research contractors)
of advanced military hardware, were all abuzz about Non-Lethal Weapons (NLW),
and one of the more intriguing avenues of research was the use of sound. There
was much talk of weapons that could disorient you with low-frequency infrasound,
and sound cannons that could knock you off your feet, and Russian "sound
bullets," and so on.


Now Vaisman
finds that the research has largely dried up. Turns out that focusing and projecting
sound for antipersonnel purposes is harder than was believed. File "acoustic
warfare" next to your 70s books about "psychic warfare" on the
shelf of fascinating but apparently unfeasible military research schemes.


Cabinet
is $8 an issue or $24 for a year’s subscription, from Immaterial Incorporated,
181 Wyckoff St., Brooklyn, NY 11217 (www.immaterial.net/cabinet).


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