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The GFA and Islam



Roy Johnston • 24 September 2006

The implied link in the above title may not be obvious, but let me try to explain its potential, as I see it.

The reform of the NI police under the influence of the Patten Commission has been positive and significant, and Sinn Fein I hope will in the end come around to participating, thus removing what could be the last obstacle to the emergence of a power-sharing arrangement for government. It is difficult to see how Paisley can continue to block political progress when business interests increasingly see the win-win advantages of the all-Ireland market, in an all-Europe and global context.

A working power-sharing political system, if it were to exist, would be the makings of a creative model alternative to the earlier system, which basically was one tribe in a majority permanently voting down a minority tribe. Democracy in Israel exists, but only for Jews; this was modelled on Craig's 'Protestant Parliament for a Protestant people'. The ghost of Balfour's 'Loyal Jewish Ulster in the heart of the Middle East', as the core-idea of Zionist imperial/colonial policy now taken over by the US, needs to be laid finally to rest.

The global implications of the successful working of this pilot model are profound. There are many similar situations in the world, of which the currently most acute is Israel/Palestine. The 'ethnic cleansing' process up to now has been almost a standard. Its replacement by a structured power-sharing process gives the opportunity for working people of differing ethnic groups to recognise shared common interests. Marx's call to the working people of the world to unite has up to now been weakened or blocked by ethnic and religious divisions, usually deliberately fomented by ruling elites.

I have also read the Pope's controversial paper, and was wondering how it should be dealt with critically. Anthony McIntyre has made a start. But somehow we need to hold out an encouraging hand to the critical Enlightenment process which is going on in Islamic culture. The following initial critique, which points out an important gap in the Pope's paper, might perhaps initiate further critiques, in more depth.

The Pope's references to Islam were totally negative, despite the opportunity presented in his historical approach to the linked development of science, theology and reason in European culture. He totally ignored the fact that the European culture of science and reason, which emerged as the key factor in the Renaissance, was largely dependent on picking up the link with Greek science via Islam, in which culture science thrived when Europe was in the Dark Ages.

Overlaid on the Alexandrine Greek legacy conserved in mediaeval Islamic civilization, we have the invention of Algebra and Arabic numerals, with the importation of the 'zero' concept and notation from the Hindu mathematicians in India; we have the 'bain-marie', the alembic and the art of distillation, leading to serious chemistry; these links need to be studied and understood; we are historically in Islam's debt in the sciences.

The reason science failed to develop under Islamic culture subsequent to the Renaissance in Europe could have been the banning of the printing press. Thus the Islamic enlightenment was, perhaps, premature, and was nipped in the bud by persistent feudal practice. Also of course the insistence on Arabic as the language of the Koran. In Europe the translation of the Bible into the local vernacular, combined with the printing press, were key factors encouraging literacy, and the subsequent development and propagation of the useful knowledge essential to European productive skill.

We need somehow to interact with scholarly writers from the Islamic culture who are in a position to state the current problems within Islam, and who have a critical attitude to the simplisic 'clash of civilisations' view of history, which GW Bush is obviously trying to promote, in the interests of his military-industrial complex.


















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

25 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

DNA and Diplock: A Recipe for Injustice
Martin Galvin

Carrots and Sticks
Dr John Coulter

The Time of My Life
Ray McAreavey

Hunger Strikers for Sale on Ebay
Breandán Ó Muirthile

Strange Logic
Anthony McIntyre

Digging Up the Past
John Kennedy

The History of the Belfast Anti War Movement
Davy Carlin

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 11 & 12
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 13 & 14
Michael Gillespie

Lights Out
Anthony McIntyre

Papal in Glass Houses
Derick Perry

The GFA and Islam
Roy Johnston

Muhammad's Sword
Uri Avnery

We Are Not As Evolved As We Think
David Adams

Stone Me
John Kennedy

18 September 2006

Kick the Pope
Anthony McIntyre

When Saying Sorry Isn't Enough
David Adams

"The third camp is about real lives": Interview with Hamid Taqvaee
Maryam Namazie

John Kennedy

Sympathy for the Victims
Mick Hall

For The Victims of Britain's Holocaust in Ireland
Brian Halpin

Dreary Eden
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Legalize the Irish
Frank [Name Supplied]

Careful What You Wish For
Dr John Coulter

The Peace Process — A Children's Fantasy
Tom Luby

John Kennedy

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