Ayaan Hirsi Ali debates whether Islam is a religion of peace, wins in a rout

Intelligence Squared hosted some intellectual heavyweights on Oct. 6 to debate the motion: "Is Islam a religion of peace." Those who took part included Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, who argued in favor of the resolution, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch MP and critic of Islam, who argued against it.

The result? Hirsi Ali won in a landslide. Intelligence Squared polled the audience before and after the debate, and she prevailed over almost all of the undecided audience members and even a segment of those who had previously disagreed with her. Here's the hard data:

Before the debate:

41% FOR

After the debate:

36% FOR

This will be painted as a chilling sign of the rise of Western anti-Islam bigotry, but I'm not so sure that's clear. Obviously, Islam isn't a "peaceful" religion any more than, say, Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism. If the audience was only convinced that the violent tendencies in Islam are on par with those religions, that does not necessarily mean that they're all about to become fans of Geert Wilders. If anyone had asked my vote, I would have told them that it's a stupid question.

Ian Waldie/Getty Images


Niger Delta rebels promise another bomb attack imminently

To prove that none of those arrested or questioned surrounding a bomb attack on the Nigerian capital of Abuja earlier this month were in fact involved, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has just released a note to journalists vowing to strike again. Letter from the spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, is pasted below:

"In an obvious attempt to intimidate anyone opposed to the presidential ambition of Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian government hiding under the cloak of terrorist hunters have been witch-hunting, falsely accusing and harassing its perceived opponents.

A perfect opportunity emerged on October 1, 2010 after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) detonated car bombs in a symbolic attack in Abuja for which we reaffirm responsibility but with regrets to the avoidable loss of lives.

The government of President Goodluck Jonathan responded by arresting innocent persons on trumped-up charges, linking them with the attack. From Chief Raymond Dokpesi which indirectly was pointing at former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida to Henry Okah in South Africa, the government has also named and arrested persons not connected with our actions as suspects and masterminds. 

The South African government is playing an obviously partial role over the Independence Day Bombing in its handling of the Henry Okah angle because the Nigerian government has threatened to nationalize the South Africa communication giant, MTN if the country does not follow a devious script.

Since the court in South Africa has turned into a Kangaroo one that is scandalously biased, and both governments are bent on blaming innocent persons on ridiculous insinuations and unrelated evidence, we have decided to carry out another attack in Abuja without altering our mode of operation to proof the suspects' innocence.

As usual we will give a thirty minutes advance warning to avoid civilian casualties then sit back and watch how the blame game will be played out on all those already falsely accused.

Jomo Gbomo