Islamic attack on Livius.org

Last night the Livius.org ancient history site was hacked and defaced.  It is down at this moment.  The vandalism indicated that the culprits were a Turkish-speaking Islamic group. We don’t quite know why they did this, or what they disliked about the site. 

Jona Lendering created the site, which is invaluable for people interested in ancient history and the raw historical data.  I don’t agree with every opinion expressed, but Jona has researched in detail some areas of ancient history which are of wide interest.  To attack this site is no better than burning books. 

In a week when I have been researching the stories about the supposed Moslem destruction of the library of Alexandria, it is curious to witness an actual, real-life Moslem attempt to destroy literature.

We live in fortunate times.  Out of pure generosity, the USA has given the internet to the world, and it has made freely available a huge mass of data and enjoyment and learning to us all.  It has made it possible for ordinary people to contribute, in such a way that every one of us benefits.   It is an act of astonishing beneficence, which we take for granted.  In turn we lesser contributors do our best to increase the amount of knowledge available online, accessible to everyone and anyone.

Then there are those who take this gift, and seek to abuse it.  It is inevitable, given recent history, that there would be Moslems who do this.

The suicide bombings of 9/11 raised the question in some minds of whether Moslems should be permitted to use aircraft at all.  It wasn’t Moslems who invented aircraft — they enjoy something which they could never have created by themselves. And then they abused it, as guests in someone else’s land. 

Must we now ask whether Moslems should be allowed access to the internet?   Is that what it will take, to put an end to this sort of activity?

Of course I doubt that this is practical politics!  Nor, in calmer mood, would it be quite fair to penalise ordinary Moslems who have committed no crime for the actions of those who claim to represent them.  But this was an evil act, and we need to stand up and resist attempts to intimidate us of this kind.

UPDATE: Jim Davila presses the claims of Russia and China for priority of disconnection here, although perhaps he didn’t realise it.  Surely, in a tolerant and diverse world, we could agree to disconnect all three?

22 thoughts on “Islamic attack on Livius.org

  1. “Must we now ask whether Moslems should be allowed access to the internet? Is that what it will take, to put an end to this sort of activity?”

    Roger, this is unworthy.

  2. I put up your post on my FB page and got this reply from one of my Turkish friends (I’ve sent it on to Jon by email):

    Kemal Güneş
    In 1993 they tried to burn Aziz Nesin’s books…But, then they changed their minds and they attempt to burn Aziz Nesin himself.Just watch the docementary video below and see what happened in 1993…

  3. sm: Sorry you feel that, but remember we all were injured by what happened, you, me, all of us. Groups whose activists advance their cause by violence can hardly complain if their victims ask if they should treat that group as enemies!

    Judith: I wondered who these people were. (What’s an “FB page”?) Is “Kemal Güneş” the name of the people responsible?

  4. Obviously I don’t know what the hacker wrote, but after googling Turkish hacker I get the impression that for some young Turkish men hacking sites is something of a sport and is pure vandalism rather than trying to further any sort of cause. They do it because they can, not because they object to anything on the site.

  5. About 600 websites were attacked yesterday by a Turkish group called TheWayEnd. As far I can see now they are ordinary hackers and the website of Jona was only one of them, most other websites are from churches and Christian organizations.

    In most cases they deleted the content of the websites and placed a message in the home-page. For a picture of the message see http://www.bijbelaantekeningen.nl/blog/2010/09/15/webterreur/

    At this moment the group has hacked this year 27.941 websites (!!) which is only a small part of the total hacked websites (600.000!!) this year

  6. Roger,

    I have called you a benefactor of humanity in my blog, for sufficient reason. [edit] I find this hard to juxtapose with the lack of generosity you’ve shown in blaming all Turks for the the act of vandalism you’ve talked about, on the specious grounds that turks did not invent the Internet and that they have misused what we have so generously given them.

    Do you know that no Turks helped invent the Internet? Are you really willing to deny millions of people whom you throw into the same basket access to this public good, simply because there is a handy label that allows you to lump them together ?

    Then there is also the word “us” –Are you really part of the class that has the power to deny others access to the Internet? Are you sure? On what is this membership based? And what action by people you have never even met with might exclude you from your privileged position?

    This loose use of us and them gets dangerous very quickly.

    [Edited for irrelevant personal stuff – RP]

  7. Well, I think you are entitled to your opinion. Those whom I condemn do not think you are entitled to your opinion. So it is depressing that you post to attack me, not them.

  8. I am sorry you saw what I thought as a plea to reconsider [edit] as an attack.

    I had no expectation of influencing the hackers.

  9. Roger, you can’t really support punishing all members of one religion or one nationality because a group of their compatriots/coreligionists did something heinous.

    In reading your post, days ago, I assumed some questions were rhetorically negative. In reading this comment thread, I’m shocked to think I may have misunderstood.

    Please clear this up, if possible.

  10. Quite aside from the question of nationality and religion, there used to be much more decisive action taken toward malicious “cracking” back in the early days of the Internet. There have been times in the past, and not that long ago, when entire countries and universities were essentially cut off from the Internet for a while because the inhabitants were annoying the rest of the world. (If everybody else in the world has blacklisted your domains, you can’t send anybody email or visit their sites.) The way to stop being blacklisted was for ISPs to show that they’d kicked out the troublemakers.

    So if .tk is doing bad things to the rest of the world, blacklisting .tk is a perfectly fair and balanced option by the ancient laws of the ‘Net. Draconic and decisive action with little appeal was why you never torqued off the admins. The same thing goes for China and Russia and many other classic troublemakers.

    The problem is that trolls and troublemakers have been allowed to get the upper hand. So it’s doubtful whether one could implement any quick, elegant solution.

  11. I remember those days as well. Disconnection is exactly what would happen — the old “Internet Death Penalty”. That’s why I proposed it, albeit only semi-seriously.

    But you’re right; we now have the absurd situation in which this kind of attack is essentially risk free for those doing it.

    One depressing note: few have dared to rally to Jona’s defence. Appeasement is back, it seems.

  12. Are you sure it was an Islamic group? My site was taken down by a Turkish hacker yesterday(see rwmg’s comment above) and in no way was Islam a factor. The vandal in question has taken down tens of thousands of sites at once to show off his skills, replacing them with a waving Communist flag and a picture of Ataturk.

    He’s the same as any other cracker from anywhere else in the world: the aim is to rake up and numbers and make a reputation for himself, not to represent Islam or a political ideology.

  13. The info that I have is that this one WAS by a Turkish Islamic group. Whether that is so I can’t say! My feeling is that this stuff is going on under a condition of low visibility, which isn’t really that helpful either way.

  14. To cut off a university as Maureen proposed is not the solution, because
    1) these hackers are moving from town to town, using public networks, internet-cafees etc..
    2) they have their botnets (= hacked computers from private persons) all over the world which they are using.

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