In today’s world, a brilliantly written book by a female author on family relations and gender abuse is usually championed by the liberal-socialist crowd. Nevertheless, Dr. Nancy Kobrin’s The Sheikh's New Clothes: the Naked Truth about Islamic Suicide Terrorism is likely to be an exception to the rule.
Not everyone will like the fact that Dr. Kobrin demonstrates how Islamist violence comes from the degradation of women in Muslim society. However, the so-called "progressive" Left might not even have to ignore it. Kobrin’s prospective publisher has recently refused to release the book, not because it is flawed, nor because it will not be profitable, but because the publisher fears “the consequences” of such a publication.
I first met Dr. Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin in Madrid in June 2004, a few months after the train bombings, at a time when I knew my days working for the Spanish Police Department were numbered.
It seemed somehow ironic to go and listen to a lecture by a psychoanalyst on Islamist suicide terror and its roots. The psychiatric approach to the issue was new; at the time, I was much more concerned about the presumed consequences of terror (the abrupt change of government in Spain) than interested in its roots.
Kobrin’s presentation was a fascinating combination of conviction and humbleness, only to be found in individuals who address controversial issues with authority but without arrogance and challenge forgone conclusions without seeking provocation. As the lecture went on, I realized how sensible it is to focus on the violent nature of terrorism and to research its shared roots with phenomena such as domestic violence or serial killings.
Dr. Kobrin offers a new perspective on terrorism, giving people a very good reason to resist the temptation to be “politically correct” when discussing the issue. As a Spaniard who witnessed 9/11 from Riyadh and as a senior advisor to the head of the Spanish police at the time of the Madrid attacks (3/11), I have had enough first-hand exposure to intolerance to feel morally obliged to revolt at every sign of intellectual kidnapping.
Violence and tolerance are two mutually exclusive realities. Far too often, however, liberty, tolerance and freedom of thought are sacrificed for the sake of avoiding confrontation.
Spain is a particularly good example of why one should not shape one’s policy to the special sensitivity of Islamists. It is difficult to deny that the Madrid attacks were organized to weaken the previous, pro-American Spanish administration and contribute to the victory of the Socialist party, which promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq and to oppose U.S. foreign policy, a promise they kept once they took control.
But the ousting of the conservation government did not make Spain any safer. A few weeks after the elections, the terrorists that perpetrated the attacks committed suicide when surrounded by the police after trying to blow up a high-speed train (in response to the Socialist decision to stay in Afghanistan).
What about recent events in the now soft-on-terror Spain? The main Socialist newspaper (El País) has often compared former president Aznar’s ideology with bin Laden’s. An MP from Aznar’s party who has written a couple of books on Islam and Islamist terror has been singled out in an Islamist web page as a legitimate target after being depicted as an enemy of Islam by a local Muslim leader.
There is also an increasing demand for a change in history textbooks to downplay our seven-century struggle against Arab occupation. The coat of arms of one of Spain’s regions has been changed to erase a Moor head that has been in it for centuries. There is mounting pressure for similar changes of potentially offensive popular celebrations that commemorate famous battles between Christians and Muslims during the 711-1492 period. Significantly, some groups of converts with substantial financial links to countries in the Arabian Peninsula where religious and political tolerance is nonexistent are being particularly vociferous.
But, all in all, Spain might not be so different from these oppressive regimes. The “cartoon crisis” showed a stark contrast between today’s Western societies and the ones that just few years ago reacted unanimously against Salman Rushdie’s fatwa. Less than a month ago, the Pope, while addressing an audience in a German university, quoted a historical figure criticizing Islam with the purpose of illustrating religious intolerance. But condemnations and protests flooded the global info-sphere anyway.
More recently, again in Germany, a performance in which the representatives of three religions were to be figuratively decapitated was cancelled because Islamists found it offensive. For anyone wondering whether this is some kind of European disease, please do consider that Kobrin’s now-reluctant publisher is based in the U.S.
Why is all this happening? Some call it respect. It’s not. We are dealing with the sheer fear of being attacked by amorphous mobs and virtual executioners. We are increasingly paralysed by terror and starting to identify ourselves with the Islamist aggressors by regarding those who do dare to stand up and speak out with increasing suspicion.
Sherezade, in the 1001 nights, saved her life by telling stories. Osama bin Laden has killed many by telling his. Dr. Kobrin knows very well that in our struggle against Islamist terror we can’t afford either to neglect our story-telling or to silence those who are pointing their fingers at our current moral nudity.
Isaac Martínn-Barbero is former Executive Advisor to the General Director of the Spanish Police and Director of The Institute for Police Studies.
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