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A Journey Out of Islamophobic Darkness

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2012 by loonwatch

 

islamophobia-drfus

Leaving the Islamophobia nightmare

The Islamophobia propaganda machine has its roots in years of concerted online, media and marketing campaigns. This well oiled machine of hate has attracted many followers, and they can be broken up into several groups (there may be considerable overlap):

1.) Those who were ripe for the picking. These individuals already had a hate for Islam and Muslims or Arabs, they were already racist in one way or another, and easily attached themselves to Islamophobia.

2.) Opportunists. These individuals are always looking for a way to make a buck, to line their pockets. Real, honest work doesn’t suit their tastes and so they’ve devoted themselves to that centuries old money-maker, hate.

3.) True believers. They may come from various ends of the ideological spectrum, most of them are very afraid, fear courses through their every waking moment, they are made even more afraid by modern interpretations of say Biblical prophecies, or fears about the existential threat of the end of Western society.

4.) The gullible or the naive. These individuals read and believe the Islamophobic propaganda because they perceive the arguments as objective, factual, honest, and fitting with their worldview, or answering their confusion and incomprehension of world events or history.

There may be a few other groups not identified here, but those in the last category, the “gullible or the naive,” are usually individuals who later become enlightened and realize the true nature of Islamophobia. They start to question the poor “analysis,” the skewing of “facts,” the blindly subjective and hateful methodology employed by those they once respected as honest brokers on the issues of Islam and Muslims.

One such individual is Charles Johnson. Loonwatch documented his groundbreaking and public quarrel with his former allies, JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller of AtlasShrugs. For Johnson it was their too easy comfort and alliance with fascists like Geert Wilders that broke the proverbial camel’s back, and ever since, he has been outspoken in his criticism of Islamophobes.

Their have been many like Johnson, some who have changed their minds because of our site or their own introspection. One such individual is regular Loonwatch commenter and tipster CriticalDragon. CriticalDragon was quite involved with right-wing anti-Muslim sites, respected the leading lights of Islamophobia, and even commented (under a different screen name) on Jihad Watch amongst other blogs.

We asked CriticalDragon to tell us about how he at one time embraced Islamophobia, and how and why he eventually left the quagmire of hate:

LW: What first attracted you to the “counter-jihadists?”

CD: Prior to 9/11, I was naive and had an overly simplistic and overly positive view of my country and the world. It’s not that I thought that America had done no wrong, but I believed that in every war since World War II, its intentions were noble.

I always considered myself an anti-bigot, which was ironic since I would become a bigot myself. Although I wasn’t as bad as some of the Islamophobes out there, I said and supported some things that I’m now really ashamed of. One of the reasons why I fell for the “counter jihadists” may have been in part because prior to 9/11, I didn’t hear much about anti-Muslim bigotry.

I did however have a very black and white view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I got most of my information on that from people like Rush Limbaugh. Although I wouldn’t call Rush an Islamophobe, he always portrayed the Palestinian side as evil. However, he did not make a connection between the conflict and Islam.

Right after 9/11 occurred, I wanted to find out why we were attacked. What had America done to deserve such an attack in their eyes, and why were they so willing to die to hurt us?

I knew about suicide bombers in Israel, but I really knew that I didn’t understand what motivated them either, but I didn’t think much about it, because I was not involved in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It didn’t affect me much, or anyone I knew, but now I felt that my country was in danger of being attacked again at any moment. I became aware shortly after the event of the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were Muslims, but I did not connect the two until later.

Searching for answers I came across the “counter Jihad blogs.” I can’t remember if the first one I came across was Jihad Watch or another one, but at some point I reached Jihad Watch. I read it and some other relatively moderate “Counter Jihad” blogs and basically believed everything I read without doing enough research to determine if they were true or not. For a while I assumed that what they were saying did not apply to most Muslims, and tried, but not hard enough, to find some peaceful liberal Muslims who denounced terrorism.

Even after visiting those sites I probably wouldn’t have bought into the Stealth Jihad or Population Jihad conspiracies if not for two events.

First, I assumed that after we overthrew the Taliban, the government in Afghanistan would be a genuine liberal democracy with religious freedom. At the time, and even though I believed people like Spencer in regards to what they presented as the “teachings of Islam” (death to the infidels, lying to the infidels, oppressive theocracy), I assumed most Muslims did not follow such “teachings.” But after the war was over, I remember an Afghan man who was set to be put to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, and it not only disappointed me, it kind of shocked me.

I literally believed what George W. Bush said about people wanting to live in freedom, and the Afghan people had chosen to install a government without freedom of religion, even after living under a brutal theocracy, and it seemed to me that we had even encouraged it to some degree.

Second was the cartoon riots, which really scared me, because it looked like large numbers of Muslims around the world spontaneously erupted over harmless cartoons, and I saw what looked like Western governments caving-in to their demands.

LW: Which Islamophobic blogs did you frequent?

CD: Mostly The Infidel Blogger’s Alliance, Bosch Fawstin, Citizen Warrior, FrontpageMag, Culturism, and Religion of Peace, which is the worst of them all. It literally scared me, every time I visited it.

They’re really deceptive in how they cherry pick news stories and post hundreds of terrifying stories about Islam and Muslims to support their agenda.

I might suggest that Loonwatch take the “Religion of Peace” website to task more often, except most of the stuff on there isn’t written by them. Most of it is just links to articles on other websites.

Although I read at least two of Robert Spencer’s books I did not spend a lot of time at Jihad Watch. I may have admired him at the time but I didn’t spend much time on his blog. The same is true for Pamela Geller and her Atlas Shrugs blog. One of the reasons why I didn’t realize how nuts she was may well have been because I didn’t spend much time there.

If you are going to take on one of the Islamophobic bloggers whose blog I used to follow I would recommend laying the smack down on Citizen Warrior. He’s kind of like Robert Spencer, but maybe a bit more sophisticated, although he hasn’t written any books that I’m aware of.  You might also want to take on John Kenneth Press (AKA Culturist John) who wrote the book Culturism, and runs the blog by the same name, and eviscerate some of his arguments, although he usually doesn’t deal with Islam or Muslims.

LW: You’ve mentioned in your comments that you truly believed in the threat of “stealth jihad.” Were there any other major themes that seemed to make sense to you at the time?

CD: I’m really embarrassed to say this, but after reading Marks Steyn‘s America Alone, I actually became convinced that Muslims in Europe were having far more children than non-Muslims, and given enough time, they would become the majority. I believed they would most likely turn those countries into Islamic theocracies, because at the time, that’s what I thought most of them wanted, or they wouldn’t be willing to resist when the fanatics started taking over.

I thought it might take centuries but still it scared me, the idea that these people with such an alien worldview might destroy Western culture and eventually replace it with Sharia’. I know its stupid, but I wasn’t thinking too hard at the time unfortunately.

Note that I never saw this in racial terms, always cultural terms. I was Islamophobic, but I was not a racist. I believed that Muslims in the West were raising their children in such a way that they would not share our values. It was not something genetic, but rather how I thought they were raising their children.

I also believed that the West was at war with Islam, yet simultaneously did not believe that all Muslims were evil, or even our enemies. I know that’s a contradiction, but I didn’t think about it too much at the time. On the occasions when other people would bring that up, I just rationalized it away. However, the fact that I realized that not all Muslims could be evil, would eventually help bring me out of the Islamophobic nightmare.

LW: For how long were you a regular visitor to the “counter-jihadist” blogs?

CD: Sadly, I was a follower and supporter of “counter jihad” blogs for about ten years following 9/11. I only really stopped being an Islamophobe some time in late September of 2011, and even then it would be another month or two before I completely rejected all their nonsense. For example I was still somewhat suspicious of CAIR until I realized that just about every blog that suspected them of being connected to terrorist groups like Hamas, recommended Jihad Watch and by that time I had come to see Robert Spencer as the bigot and liar that he really is.

LW: About Ten Years? Why did it take you so long to see the light?

CD: I got scared and I did not do a very good job of questioning what I was told. I was terrified, and I wanted to stop Jihadists from destroying our freedom. It seemed so obvious to me, because I was getting such a distorted picture of reality.

Early on when I joined the counter jihad movement, most of the information I was getting on what was going on in the world involving Islam and Muslims was incredibly biased to say the least, and I did not try very hard to critique it, because all the evidence seemed so overwhelming at the time. Most of the blogs I frequented outside of the “Counter Jihad Movement” rarely mentioned Islam or Muslims. I occasionally, though rarely, visited left wing political blogs.

One of the few exceptions was American United for the Separation Of Church and State, but I don’t even think they talked about Islam until people in the states started trying to pass anti-Shariah legislation. I spent the vast majority of my time on right-wing Islamophobic blogs, and my preferred news channel was Fox News, which rarely debunked Islamophobes. For those reasons, I almost always saw what left wing bloggers wrote refuting Islamophobic claims through the eyes of Islamophobes, and I rarely heard about Muslims protesting evil done in the name of their faith.

However, if I had been willing to do a bit more research to see what groups like Act For America really based their opposition on, outside of the Islamophobic blogs I frequented I would have seen just how wrong they were. In addition I was too quick to dismiss arguments against their positions.

There were some skeptical science blogs and YouTube channels that I really enjoyed, and they tended to be rather left wing, but they rarely mentioned Islam, that is until the idea of Everybody Draw Muhammad day and the issue of the “Ground Zero Mosque” came up, which was years after 9/11 and the cartoon riots.

Even then, too often, I tended to just dismiss them unless I already agreed with them. I got to the point where I really did not want to admit I was wrong. Maybe I didn’t want to admit I was being a bigot.

Case in point, when atheist YouTuber and foe of creationists everywhere, “Thunderf00t” came out in support for Everybody Draw Muhammad day, and made at least one anti “Ground Zero Mosque” video, I tended to dismiss the arguments that other, better, Youtuber skeptics made against him.

I admired “ThunderF00t,” for his strong stance for science and reason and against the “backwardness of Islam.” Ironically I would eventually come to respect and admire the people on YouTube who opposed him like Coughlin 666 (now Coughlin 616 and Coughlin 000) and Ujames1978 (now Ujames1978Forever and Pirus The God Slayer).

I was a horrible skeptic to say the least. For a long time I fell for just about every single prominent Loon.

I believed most of the things that they said, and it seemed like there were just so many “former Muslims” out there talking about how “evil” Islam is, and how the West was destined to be Islamized if we did not do anything to stop it, because there were just so many fanatical Muslims out there determined to force us to convert or submit. I used to really admire Wafa Sultan and, although I thought Walid Shoebat‘s fundamentalist Christian beliefs were a bit nonsensical to say the least, I never doubted that he really was a “former Muslim terrorist” until much later.

I had managed to entrap myself in my own nightmarish digital web of Islamophobia.

LW: What effect, if any did self-proclaimed Muslim supporters of Robert Spencer, such as Zuhdi Jasser have on you?

CD: They actually encouraged me to support the “counter jihad movement” early on and likely contributed to my own Islamophobia, but ironically and counter-intuitively they also were one of the factors that prevented me from seeing all Muslims as the enemy.

Let me explain.

By doing the things that he did, such as being the host of the Clarion Fund‘s anti-Muslim propaganda film, “The Third Jihad,”Jasser likely convinced a lot of people that there really was a conspiracy among American Muslims to “Islamize” the country. Some Islamophobic websites link to his organization, the “American Islamic Forum for Democracy,” and they use it as a way of claiming that they’re not really bigoted against Muslims because some Muslims support them and vice versa.

This certainly reinforced all of my fears, but at the same time, since I couldn’t come up with what I thought would be a good reason for him to be lying about this, it encouraged me to think that not all Muslims were bad. In fact, he was one of the few Muslims that I was certain was not lying to me.

Ironically, I didn’t lose respect for Jasser even while other anti-Muslim bigots tried to convince me that he was really a Stealth Jihadist as well. The only thing that made me completely lose respect for him was something he did after I left the “anti-jihad” movement, when he made a video defending Lowes at the moment they gave into intimidation and pressure from anti-Muslim bigots to drop support for the show “All American Muslim.” I was no longer an Islamophobe at that point and was in fact trying to fight anti-Muslim bigotry.

I’m not sure if Jasser is a “self hating Muslim” for lack of a better term, but he may be a useful idiot for Islamophobes. I have come across multiple instances where Islamophobes accused him of being a Stealth Jihadist as well, just because he’s a Muslim, they think he is lying to them and that he really supports groups like AlQaeda. What he and his organization are doing is perpetuating baseless conspiracy theories about Muslims, and he won’t convince Islamophobes who are already convinced that he’s the enemy that he’s a friend.

In fact, if he ever comes to see how baseless the Stealth Jihad conspiracy really is, and turns around and stops supporting “counter jihadists,” then a bunch of people who used to support him will become  convinced that he really was a stealth Jihadist all along.

LW: What changed your mind? Was it a single event or a process over time?

CD: It was a process, but there were some definite events.

I recall these events not in any particular order:

Even before 9/11, I considered myself a conservative, but I had some views that were not stereotypical of a conservative. For one thing I was a supporter of the separation of Church and State. I considered myself a secularist and a skeptic. I may have rightfully rejected things like scientific creationism, but a good skeptic would never have fallen for someone like Spencer or Geller, or if they had, they would have had too many doubts as soon as they started talking about things like the Stealth Jihad, or learned that they had their “scholarly” work published in the same series of books that promoted creationism and other forms of pseudoscience.

When I learned that Spencer’s, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades,” had been published by the same people who published “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Creationism and Intelligent Design,” it should have set off some red flags, but I had allowed myself to become too convinced that he was correct by then, and that he was a “real scholar.”

I was shocked when secularist groups like American’s United For the Separation of Church and State actually came out against the anti-Sharia’ legislation. I assumed they would support such laws, because in my mind it was fighting for secularism. The problem was that since I believed in those nonsensical anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, I actually believed that Muslim fanatics were a greater threat to our freedom than the religious right.

Like all bigots I was closed minded, but maybe not as closed minded as some. Part of the problem was that I was getting most of my information on Islam and Muslims from right-wing sources and they were incredibly biased. It made it look like there was a large number of Muslims out to take over the world. While I’m certain there are some blogs out there run by genuine right wing anti-loons, I didn’t come across too many. When I happened to come across a video debunking the claim that Muslims were likely to become the majority through immigration I began to doubt it for the first time.

Earlier, I came across another more “moderate critic” of Islam who went by the user name, “Klingschor.”  He started out as a supporter of Robert Spencer and at one time had favorited the ridiculous “Three Things You Probably Don’t Know About Islam” video on his YouTube channel.  However, as Klingschor got more educated, he eventually turned against Spencer. He created a video supporting the “Ground Zero Mosque,” and Imam Rauf, where he viciously attacked Spencer and Geller for being bigots.  (The video is no longer on his channel, although now I wish he’d repost the original or remake it).  I admired Spencer and Geller and I was convinced that Rauf was a “stealth jihadist,” so this shocked me, since I admired Klingschor as well and he didn’t seem pro-Islam to me. I wondered why he wasn’t convinced as I was that Rauf was up to no good and why he had suddenly turned on Spencer and Geller.  I had trouble explaining it.

In addition, I began to realize that if things did not change, a lot of innocent people were going to get hurt, and not by Muslim jihadists. I knew that not all Muslims were our enemies, and I would sometimes get into arguments with other people who held worse views than I did; people who wanted to nuke Mecca and kill every single Muslim on the planet.

Even when I pointed out to them how innocent people would be killed, it did not phase them. These nuke Mecca/kill all Muslims people were so bad that I saw them as anti-Muslim bigots even when I was an anti-Muslim bigot. That’s how bad they were.

Then something else happened, something that was somewhat of a watershed moment.

Most people in the “counter Jihad movement” assumed Anders Breivik was a Muslim when news of his rampage first came out. I was not really that shocked by the fact that he was not a Muslim, since I knew non-Muslim terrorists existed, but I was shocked by his motive.

He went on his rampage and murdered innocent people including many children, believing it was necessary to stop the Islamization of Europe. Of course excuses were made for Spencer and Geller not being responsible, and I bought into them at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that their rhetoric did nothing to discourage a Breivik.

Even if Breivik got his beliefs from somewhere else, he idolized Spencer and Geller and was an avid supporter, not to mention other prominent figures in the “counter Jihad Movement.” If anything, they encouraged his behavior even if they did not specifically tell him to commit violent acts.

It was also about this time that I found out that a couple of the lesser known Islamophobes that I admired were racists.  No one you’ve probably heard of, just a couple of nobodies really, but I had admired them and thought they were smarter than they actually were. This was another shock to my system because I had really respected them, and I had always regarded racism as abhorrent and stupid. I instantly lost respect for them.

Plus I saw a video by Coughlin 616, called “Pamela Geller Busted.” Although at the time I thought he was wrong to oppose Geller and believed he was far too concerned with neo-Nazis as compared to Jihadists, I decided to watch the video. After watching it, and checking Coughlin’s sources, I realized that he had proven that Geller was a liar. What’s more she might have been covering for Breivik or someone like him. I suddenly had a lot more respect for Coughlin and a lot less respect for Geller.

In the meantime, I saw more videos by Klingscor, and another Youtube atheist critic of Islam, CEMBadmins, that actually debunked some common Islamophobic claims. One of them was taqiya, both of them made videos on the subject thoroughly debunking the claim that taqiya is lying for Islam and that Muslims are more likely to lie than non Muslims.

CEMBadmins really made it hard for me to continue to believe in the taqiya conspiracy since he was not only a critic of Islam, but an ex-Muslim. In his video, he talked about a poll taken of members of the Council of Ex-Muslims (his organization) and it turned out that most of them had never even heard of taqiya, and those that had regarded it as a defensive mechanism to protect themselves from persecution, not lying to promote Islam like I had been taught by others in the “counter jihad movement.”

I thought to myself, “Why would ex-Muslims lie for Islam?” It slowly began to hit me just how wrong people like Spencer were on the subject.

Soon, I saw a couple of videos on Muslims who helped save Jews during the Holocaust. At least one of them I came across on Loonwatch. Although I always knew there were at least some rare instances when Muslims helped non Muslims, I had no idea that so many Muslims had done so much at one time to help a large group of non-Muslims. I was slowly realizing just how much the evil done by Muslims to non Muslims like myself in the name of Islam was exaggerated by people in the “counter jihad movement,” and how much they ignored the good done by Muslims in the name of Islam.

The final nail in the coffin for my support for those “counter jihad” blogs and Spencer and Geller was when I realized that Islam has not traditionally endorsed terrorism.  When I found Loonwatch and looked at the actual statistics for the first time I realized that very few terrorists in the United States and Europe were even Muslims.

I came to realize just how wrong I was, and I felt an odd combination of happiness and relief as well as guilt and shame, simultaneously.

LW: Why do you spend so much time trying to help fight anti-Muslim bigotry now?

CD: For one thing, ever since I allowed myself to see the light, I have come to realize just how wrong I was. I’ve come to see that the people I once admired and supported like Geert Wilders are actually a greater threat to our freedom than the threat they claim to be fighting.

Since Stealth Jihad and Islamization are myths, there’s no need for any legislation to fight them. If anything, a lot of innocent people are going to be hurt by “counter jihadists” including innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and for what? To fight imaginary conspiracy theories?

Also, the Christian religious right is more likely to turn America into a theocracy. With Muslims at less than one percent of the American population, they don’t have the numbers to do so, even if they all wanted to. In fact, I now understand that as someone who normally wouldn’t support the religious right, by trying so hard to fight the imaginary threat of Islamization, I made myself a useful idiot of the religious right. The same is true for any secularist who supports them out of fear of Jihadists taking over and turning the West into an Islamic theocracy.

Finally, I want to make up for the mistake of supporting the “counter jihadists.” The only way I can clear my conscious now is to actively oppose the people and organizations I once endorsed. I feel a lot of guilt, I did and said a lot of things that I regret now.

LW: Do you have any suggestions for those who still admire bloggers like Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller?

CD: If you want to hear people criticize Islam, look for people who are not bigots, and do not believe in nonsensical conspiracy theories, like “the stealth Jihad.” Make sure they reject the idea that Islam teaches Muslims to lie to promote their faith and that Muslims are more likely to lie than non Muslims. Find people who are at least trying to be objective and who avoid making sweeping generalizations about Muslims.

Also listen to what Muslims have to say about themselves, their politics, their philosophy and their faith. In many cases it will be completely counter to the negative stereotypes. Let me use someone who appears on Loonwatch from time to time as an example.

When I first saw “Dawah Films”  respond to “Thunderf00t,” I saw it only through the eyes of “Thunderf00t.” I thought he was threatening to kill him for criticizing his religion, but when I actually watched other videos he made, and talked to him about it, years later, I realized how radically different his motives actually were. Contrary to the way “Thunderf00t” portrayed him, he supported free speech and he even defended another YouTuber, “ZOMGitscriss,” against death threats from genuine Muslim extremists, when she made some minor criticisms of Islam.

In addition to listening to Muslims and moderate, rational critics of Islam, you should also take an Islamic Studies course at an accredited university, if you have the time. I’m hoping to do that, since contrary to what I used to believe, I don’t know much about Islam, and if I’m going to fight anti-Muslim bigotry, I’m going to have to know more about Islam and its history. If you can’t do that, or even if you can do that, in addition, try to find a few books about Islam written by genuine scholars who studied Islam within academia.

LW: How did you find Loonwatch?

CD: I believe I first heard about Loonwatch on a conservative blog that I used to visit from time to time.

The person behind the blog wrote a story critiquing something you wrote, but I don’t remember if I read it or not, but either way, I didn’t check his sources, so I didn’t find out what Loonwatch was until much later, after I left the “counter Jihad” movement.

After I stopped being an Islamophobe, I wanted to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and I started looking around and I came across Loonwatch and its sister site, SpencerWatch. However, I did notice that “Dawah Films” recommends you guys on his channel, but I can’t remember if I clicked on his link before or after I did a Google search.

LW: Do you regularly visit any other anti-bigotry sites, and if so, which ones?

CD: I really think the Southern Poverty Law Center is an excellent resource, especially if you include their blog “HateWatch.” The anti-Defamation League is also generally a good anti-bigotry organization. I know the American Civil Liberties Union does not specialize in fighting bigotry, but they do a very good job of protecting civil liberties including the civil liberties of minorities. More recently I started exploring Sheila Musaji’s “The American Muslim,” which also does a good job debunking anti Muslim myths as well.

I’d also recommend more than a few Youtube channels that have done a lot to fight irrational hatred and bigotry. I’ve already mentioned Coughlan and Ujames1978Forever’s channels, and would like to add EvoGenVideos and HannibaltheVictor13. EvoGenVideos is a genetics student who sometimes uses his scientific knowledge to debunk racists. HannibaltheVictor13 is an anthropologist who has also debunked racists.

LW: Is there any meaning behind your nickname, Critical Dragon1177, that you’d like to share?

CD: When I realized how wrong I was to support the “counter Jihad” movement, I also realized that I had said some incredibly stupid and often bigoted things that I was ashamed of. Plus I wanted to disassociate from those bigoted anti-Muslim blogs that I used to visit.

In order to do what I wanted to do, I needed a new user name. I made a new years resolution to be a better skeptic.

I realized that the biggest reason that I fell for what Islamophobes were telling me, and continued to believe them for so long, despite the overwhelming evidence against what they were saying was my lack of critical thinking on the matter. My story is really about the danger of not thinking critically, and of giving into your emotions.

That’s where the first part of my user name comes from. I added ‘Dragon’ because I like fantasy, and I love fantasy creatures. The numbers were added just in case someone else had that name.

LW: In conclusion is there anything else you would like to share with the LW audience?

CD: I’ve read a book called A World Without Islam that I highly recommend. It’s by Graham E. Fuller.

According to his biography over at Amazon.com,

“Graham E. Fuller is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, a former senior political scientist at RAND, and a current adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of numerous books about the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam. He has lived and worked in the Muslim world for nearly two decades.”

In his book, “A World without Islam,” Fuller goes a long way to debunk the claim that we are at war with Islam, and that Islam is the cause of terrorism and our problems involving Muslims and Muslim majority societies.

I haven’t read any of his other books, but based on this one, he’s largely anti Robert Spencer, and he has far better credentials than him. In fact if I had read something like this book just after 9/11 instead of going to all those bigoted “counter jihad” sites, I don’t think I would have taken people like Spencer seriously at all.

It was recommended to me by my friend, Klingschor, along with another book by Tamim Ansary called “Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes,” which I’ve started reading as well.

I also have a friend on Youtube that I would like to introduce, he goes by the user name, Ramio1983. He’s made at least one video fighting anti-Muslim bigotry, and I think he’s working on another one, maybe someone here could help him.

LW: Thank you, CriticalDragon, for sharing your story here on Loonwatch, and for joining the fight against bigotry.

CD: You’re Welcome.  I’m pleased to be able to share my story.  My hope  is that it will help someone else to see the truth.

In Defense of Demonization: Frontpage’s lame defense of Robert Spencer

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer

By now you probably have read all the details concerning the terrorist attack in Oslo, Norway. This attack has shined a spotlight on the demonization of Muslims at the hands of anti-Muslim bloggers we have profiled on this site. For example, the NY Times published a devastating expose of the shooter’s ideological ties to Robert Spencer. The evidence is so damning that Spencer is in a panicked state of damage control. So his friends at Frontpage Magazine have jumped to defend his Islamophobic enterprise, an apologia worthy of a detailed response from Loonwatch.

The article begins with some whining about how poor Spencer is the victim of the lamestream media:

No tragedy goes long without exploitation, and the atrocities in Norway are no exception to that rule.

Spencer spends his days exploiting bad news about Muslims, but when the news reflects poorly on him and he is criticized, it suddenly becomes exploitation?

Is silencing researchers who have put years of effort into exposing networks of radicals the right response to a terrorist attack? No reasonable person would think so. But that is exactly what media outlets like the New York Times and the Atlantic are trying to do.

Who is silencing Robert Spencer? Has his website been shut down? Is he prevented from publishing more books? Rest assured that Spencer’s first amendment rights are intact. The problem here is that Frontpage is cynically playing victim; they cannot distinguish between being fairly criticized and actually being denied rights.

Now let’s turn to the voluminous citations from Spencer found in the Shooter’s manifesto:

The “64 times” cited by the Times and its imitators reflects lazy research since the majority of those quotes actually come from a single document, where Spencer is quoted side by side with Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice.

See, Spencer was only cited 64 times making the argument (unlike Blair and Rice) that terrorism is an essential aspect of mainstream Islam.

Quite often, Robert Spencer is quoted providing historical background on Islam and quotes from the Koran and the Hadith. So, it’s actually Fjordman quoting Spencer quoting the Koran. If the media insists that Fjordman is an extremist and Spencer is an extremist — then isn’t the Koran also extremist? And if the Koran isn’t extremist, then how could quoting it be extremist?

Actually, it’s Fjordman quoting Spencer quoting the Quran (out of context) and explaining that good Muslims are terrorist killers. Why shouldn’t he defend Western civilization from Muslims?

The New York Times would have you believe that secondhand quotes like these from Spencer turned Breivik into a raging madman… The complete absence of quotes in which Robert Spencer calls for anyone to commit acts of terrorism reveals just how empty the media’s case against him is.

See, Spencer is just arguing that good Muslims are terrorists, that Islam is pure evil, and that Muslim immigration, aided by liberals, is destroying Western civilization. He supposedly never* actually calls for outright violence, but he has no problem with people who post violent comments on his website.

If we follow Spencer’s logic, it can be easy to conclude that violence is needed to stem the Hottentot Mongol tide of immigration. This argument ignores the fact that demonization leads to violence:

“When you push the demonization of populations, you often end up with violence,” said Heidi Beirich, research director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But the shooter didn’t kill Muslims, so Islamophobia cannot be involved, right?

And even this is irrelevant because Breivik did not carry out violence against Muslims… If Breivik was motivated by Islamophobia, then why did he not attempt to kill Muslims? Why did he not open fire inside a mosque?

This point is refuted by Alex Pareene at Salon:

Opposition to Islam was the killer’s stated motivation. He targeted other white Scandinavians because he considered them race traitors. He wrote all of this down, too, so we don’t even have to make guesses about it! He blamed liberals for enabling jihad by supporting “multiculturalism.”

Just because he didn’t directly attack Muslims does not mean Islamophobia had nothing to do with this attack. In fact, it had everything to do with the attack. But there is one last straw for Spencerites to grasp at:

Not only did Breivik not target Muslims, but he considered collaborating with Muslim terrorists… “An alliance with the Jihadists might prove beneficial to both parties,” Breivik wrote. “We both share one common goal.”

Interesting, Breivik and the Islamophobic ideology he shares with Spencer do indeed share one common goal with jihadists. They both want a homogenous society that doesn’t tolerate the Other. They both want to incite religious/nationalist war. They both want to increase Islamophobia; Spencer because it is his source of income, and jihadists because it is good recruiting propaganda. So, it is not a surprise to us that extremists share common goals but for vastly different reasons. We’ve known for some time that Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists reinforce one another.

In sum, Spencer and Frontpage want free reign to demonize Muslims and peddle baseless sharia conspiracy theories, but they cry foul when they get criticized in public. They suddenly demand the nuance that they have so far happily denied to Muslims as a whole.

*Admin Note: Spencer has subtly and overtly endorsed violence or a violent posture against Muslim citizens and their “liberal enablers” in the West. Just in January, in a piece titled “Digging Graves for the Next World War,” Roland Shirk a contributor at JW wrote,

The strings that knit together peaceful coexistence among communities are straining under the pressure of millions of resident aliens who should never have been admitted, who can only be tolerated when they are as sure as we that compared to us they are helpless. Islam is a religion of fear and force, and its adherents can only be at your feet or at your throat. We had better decide which posture we prefer. The time is short.

Those words are essentially the theme of Breivik’s manifesto, and Spencer approved it. This is on top of the knowledge that Spencer joined a Facebook group that sought as its objective a Reconquista of Anatolia, a holocaust of Turks and a forced conversion of any and all remaining Muslims. Spencer never denied joining the group, only claiming that he was the victim of a “trick.”

Frontpage Muslim-bashing Authority Can’t Do a Two Second Google Search

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2011 by loonwatch

Behold the erroneous misinformation factory at Front Page Mag, the online place where Islamophobes go to find spurious arguments that make them feel better about being intolerant of Muslims. Today’s gem comes from Raymond Ibrahim, a skilled harvester of Islamophobic cash cows, a particularly spite-filled individual with an obsession for essentializing Islam as a religion of war, slavery, and sexual misconduct.

Where before have I heard similar claims about a similar religion? Oh yeah. Every anti-Semitic website on the internet. The strong parallel between the claims, rhetoric, and methodologies of Anti-Semites and Islamophobes have been discussed many times before, so there is no need to repeat those arguments here.

Today, I will comment on Mr. Ibrahim’s unprincipled “research” which has as an a priori(beforehand) conclusion that Muslims are never victims, only perpetrators. What perturbed me is that Front Page praises Mr. Ibrahim as a “widely recognized authority on Islam” who can translate “important Arabic news that never reaches the West.”

You see, according to David Horowitz, anti-Muslim ideological commitment makes someone a “widely recognized authority” on Islam; not rigorous academic training, as those foolish liberals believe, with their pesky “facts,” their elitist “research methodologies,” and their vexatious love of “balance.”

To the matter at hand. You may have heard the recent story about two Egyptian Christian girls who were allegedly abducted by Muslims. Raymond pens an anti-Muslim hit piece entitled “Egypt: Christian Girls Kidnapped and ‘Sold’.” Ready for some bombshell evidence of Islam’s collective depravity? Won’t find it here. Raymond is upset that the Egyptian Newspaper, Al-Masry Al-Youm, didn’t report on this story with an acceptable level of anti-Muslim bias:

At the end of the Al-Masry Al-Youm report, we get a trailing sentence alluding to “claims” that two Christian girls “were abducted by Muslims and forced to convert to Islam” as the reason why Copts were demonstrating and clashing with the police in the first place.

This is the “claim” that Mr. Ibrahim wants to advance, the claim of the Christian protestors, i.e. the girls were kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, and this sort of thing happens all the time because of the tenets of Islam. (Sigh). It should go without saying that mainstream Islam explicitly teaches against forced conversions. Several Quranic verses can be produced to support this:

Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. So can you [Prophet] compel people to believe? (10:99)

If your Lord had pleased, He would have made all people a single community, but they continue to have their differences… (11:118)

If you find rejection by the disbelievers so hard to bear, then seek a tunnel into the ground or a ladder into the sky, if you can, and bring them a sign: God could bring them all to guidance if it were His will, so do not join the ignorant. (6:35)

The messenger’s only duty is to give clear warning. (29:18)

We know best what the disbelievers say. You [Prophet] are not there to force them, so remind, with this Quran, those who fear My warning. (50:45)

There is no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error, so whoever rejects false gods and believes in God has grasped the firmest hand-hold, one that will never break. God is all hearing and all knowing. (2:256)

Say, ‘Obey God; obey the Messenger. If you turn away, [know that] he is responsible for the duty placed upon him, and you are responsible for the duty placed upon you. If you obey him, you will be rightly guided, but the Messenger’s duty is only to deliver the message clearly.’ (24:54)

Note that the last two verses were revealed in Medina, just in case anyone wants to bring up the tired, old canard that everything wise and peaceful in the Quran was abrogated. In fact, Al-Azhar University’s Commission for Embracing Islam may “spend several days making sure that the person wants to convert to Islam voluntarily and as a result of their own desire.”

Therefore, if it is true that the girls were kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, this would be an obvious breach of normative, mainstream Islamic teachings, not to mention Egyptian civil law. This would make it a case of criminal behavior, not normal religion. Whoever forces someone to be a Muslim is not behaving like a Muslim. Period.

However, as we shall see, we have strong reason to doubt these girls were kidnapped in the first place.

What are Mr. Ibrahim’s sources for claiming the two girls were in fact kidnapped and forced into Islam? A dubious Arabic website entitled “Free Christian Nation.” No possibility of bias there (sarcasm intended). Mr. Ibrahim boasts about his expert Arabic translation skills:

One must again turn to Arabic sources for the telling details. I have put together the following narrative and quotes based on these two Arabic reports:

The two girls, Christine Azat (aged 16) and Nancy Magdi (aged 14) were on their way to church Sunday, June 12, when they were seized. Their abductors demanded $200,000 Egyptian pounds for their release. The people of the region quickly put their savings together and came up with the ransom money; but when they tried to give it to the kidnappers, they rejected it, saying they had already “sold” the girls off to another group which requires $12 million Egyptian pounds to return them.

Two unsourced reports in Arabic? From which news agency? There are no authors or publishers listed on the reports. If you can read Arabic, seriously, check it out. So your ability to translate from some random anonymous Arabic websites is why you are a “widely recognized authority on Islam”?

But what our “widely recognized authority on Islam” failed to mention is that other mainstream newspapers (even in English, accessible to non-scholars, no translation necessary) have published reports contrary to his central claim. Mr. Ibrahim tells us about his scholarly research methods:

I tried to find this story in English-language media and, as expected, found nothing…

Oh really? I did a two-second Google search and found some. For example, Al-Ahram reported that:

During recent weeks, the two girls, who are cousins, have uploaded videos on YouTube announcing their conversion to Islam and that they were not kidnapped by ‎anyone. This came in response to the father of one of the girls reporting their‎disappearance. ‎

According to this report, the girls willfully converted to Islam, so Mr. Ibrahim tries to explain this away:

Some have tried to pass the usual rumor that the girls “willingly” ran off and converted to Islam, but even Egyptian officials reject this, saying that Al Azhar, which is the institution that formally recognizes conversions to Islam, has not acknowledged the conversion of underage minors.

This “rumor” happens to be based upon the Youtube testimony of the girls themselves, which would make it more than a rumor. The fact that Al-Azhar University did not announce their conversions is not proof that the girls didn’t willfully convert because, as Al-Ahram reports, Al-Azhar “does not accredit ‎conversion to Islam from anyone younger than 18.”‎ Minor details!

The point here is not whether the girls converted or not. I won’t get into “he said, she said” arguments about a pending legal case. The point is that Raymond, as usual, obviously didn’t research and balance his reporting, which means the only reason he brought it up at all is because it is useful ideological propaganda. His readers don’t read Arabic. They won’t double check his work. These blatant mistakes will get swept under rug, again as usual, to be replaced by the next propaganda item, the next blog post, the next hit piece. The erroneous misinformation factory marches on.

Does Raymond really want to help the Christian community in Egypt? Coptic Christians, whom Raymond pretends to defend, have rejected these kind of tactics and propaganda that divide Egypt along religious lines. Bishop Markos of Shubra al-Kheima told Al-Masry Al-Youm that:

Copts fall under the protection of the Egyptian state, and Muslims and Christians in Egypt fall under the protection of God, who mentioned Egypt and its people in the Quran and the Bible.

So don’t be fooled into thinking Raymond cares about these girls or even Egyptian Christians. He’s just using them and their story to whip up anti-Muslim populism, to use as a religio-political wedge issue in the campaign against Obama and liberals.

Undoubtedly, the guys at Front Page would not campaign for the human rights of these two girls if they had really converted to Islam. If their conversion to Islam was genuine, would Mr. Ibrahim and Horowitz support their religious freedom?

I ask these questions because, contrary to the 24-hour hate-on-Islam-a-thon at Front Page, Egyptian Christians who convert to Islam have also faced persecution. This certainly wouldn’t be the first case. As Al-Ahram reported:

This is not the first story of Muslim converts that has been a source of public debate and ‎concern. Camilia Shehata, who disappeared from her house in July 2010, was‎alleged to have converted to Islam only to be held in church after conversion to prevent ‎her from practicing her new religion.

Of course, stories about Muslims being denied religious freedom by Christians don’t quite fit into the Islam-is-all-evil-all-the-time-RSS-feed at Front Page Mag.

I’m not expecting an honest answer from Raymond.

Robert Spencer rankled by Muslim rights hearings, blames Muslims for Islamophobia

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer

We will be live blogging the hearings tomorrow on Twitter, follow us @ Loonwatchers.

Robert Spencer has a very big problem. Important people in high places are catching on to the fact that Islamophobia is a form of bigotry as vile and dangerous as anti-Semitism. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) plans to consider “measures to protect the rights of American Muslims” in a March 29 hearing. With the recent barrage of Qur’an-burningsanti-Muslim hate protestsanti-Muslim hate crimes, and White-supremacist-inspired anti-Sharia laws in many states, it only makes sense that a responsible government will move to protect a vulnerable minority. But not if you’re Robert Spencer.

In his latest excuse to hate on Muslims, he writes:

On a day when Islamic jihadists exploded a bomb in Jerusalem that murdered at least one woman and wounded thirty, and when Islamic jihadists opened fire on and killed two Christians outside a church in Pakistan, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) announced that he was going to hold hearings on the rise in “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

This opening paragraph displays the stupidity of Spencer’s thinking: violent fringe extremists strike in far off parts of the world and somehow all Muslims, especially American Muslims, are implicated, and because all Muslims are collectively guilty, we shouldn’t be concerned if peaceful, law-abiding Muslims lose their constitutional rights. Most Jewish people, like Lesley Hazleton, can recognize this as an obvious example of “the stereotyping of millions of people by the actions of a few,” no different than equivalent attacks lobbed against Jews by anti-Semites. In this case, the glaring similarity between Spencer’s Islamophobia and classical anti-Semitism cannot be missed.

Spencer then takes a cheap shot at Rep. Ellison, whose moving testimony displayed the humanity of a people Spencer would like to dehumanize. He writes:

Ellison used the bully pulpit King gave him to paint a lurid picture of Muslim victimhood, all the while saying nothing (of course) about the sharp increase in jihad terror plots in this country over the last two years. How can Durbin top that?

Actually, it was King who was in control of the bully pulpit. Nevertheless, when Muslims criticize government policy or Islamophobic hate, Spencer dismisses all such criticism, valid or not, as simply whiny, Muslim “victimhood.” Once again, Spencer precisely displays the sixth point of the Runnymede Trust’s comprehensive definition of Islamophobia: “Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.”

Predictably, Spencer claims “Muslims” (meaning all Muslims in all times and all places forever) are solely responsible for the venom spewed at them through politicians, pundits, and countless blogs. Taking the typical ritual shots at CAIR, he writes:

If anyone in the United States today is suspicious of Muslims in general, it is because of those jihadis and others like them – and because of Muslim spokesmen like Keith Ellison and CAIR’s Ibrahim “Honest Ibe” Hooper, who never acknowledge that the Muslim community in the U.S. has any responsibility whatsoever to teach against the jihadist view of Islam that they supposedly reject.

Of course, nearly every mainstream American Muslim organization has led public campaigns against terrorism and extremism: CAIR’S “Not in the name of Islam” campaign, MPAC’s anti-terror campaign, ISNA’s history of counter extremism and promoting tolerance, youtube videos by respected American Muslim leaders, and the list goes on. With respect to CAIR, anyone who wishes can read for themselves what a prominent leader in the organization believes. But none of that matters to Spencer, who plays the game of “six degrees of people who don’t eat bacon” to connect anyone and everyone to the allegedly omnipresent Muslim Brotherhood. He continues:

The “anti-Muslim bigotry” industry, in sum, is generated by Muslims and perpetuated by Muslims. And only Muslims have the power to end that bigotry.

Perhaps, in a Freudian slip, Spencer admits that Muslims are facing a mounting bigotry industry in America; but rather than see this as a problem (because he is a big part of that industry), Spencer wants you to think that Muslims deserve that bigotry. So how can Muslims end such bigotry, you ask?

Here’s how they can do it, if they care to:

1.     Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.

Okay, “if they care” (because, according to Spencer, Muslims need hate crimes to score political points) Muslims should focus all their energy on fringe extremists and basically stop criticizing Islamophobes. Just shut up and take it, alright?

2.     Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just “terrorism,” but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means.

Okay, Muslims should denounce the non-existent conspiracy to overthrow America. Nevermind that even ultra-conservative fatwas (Sharia legal verdicts) demand that Muslims obey American law. Good Lord, this is like asking Jews to denounce the fictional plot of the Elders of Zion! What’s next?

3.     Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.

Spencer knows very well that the majority of modern Islamic seminary institutions and the ordinary Muslim masses are not adhering to the 12th century jurisprudence of the Abbasid Empire. Shaykh Al-Azhar Mahmud Shaltut’s treatise, Qur’an and Fighting, makes this perfectly clear (peace is the norm, war is the exception). But again, basic knowledge of facts on the ground threatens to diminish the fat cheques his boss Horowitz cuts for him every month. Anything else?

4.     Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.

Academic studies (you know, those conducted and reviewed by real scholars) have shown that terrorist radicalization doesn’t take place in mosques, but that doesn’t stop Spencer from promoting forged statistics and demanding Muslims solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Are you done yet?

5.     Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

Spencer probably knows (or should know) that Muslims have been responsible for thwarting numerous terror plots, or that there are plenty of Muslim cops who put their lives on the line every day for their fellow citizens, or that Muslims loyally serve in our country’s armed forces. But none of that is important when your day job is to hate on Muslims, right Spencer?

If Muslims did those five things, voila! “Anti-Muslim bigotry” will evanesce almost immediately!

Guess what, Bob? Muslims have done all those things and more, but you intentionally hide these facts from your gullible conspiracy-minded audience, lest your network of closed-information systems dissolve in light of the truth. Hence, the obvious need for Durbin’s hearings, which are bound to strike a devastating blow to your hate-filled machinations.

Reza Aslan was right. The day is growing closer when people will catch on to your scheming and these hearings are bringing that day even closer. Perhaps one day we will wake up and, Viola! Anti-Muslim bigotry will evanesce almost immediately! But that would put you out of a job wouldn’t it?

Better start working on your résumé, Bob.

David Horowitz: “Islam is Religion of Hate…Palestinians are Morally Sick”

Posted in Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by loonwatch
David Horowitz

David Horowitz, founder and editor of FrontPageMag as well as Robert Spencer’s financier and boss is at it again, targeting Palestinians and Islam. Horowitz said of the Palestinians,

“No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians”, adding, “In the history of all mankind, there was never a people who strapped bombs on their bodies and killed innocent people. No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians, and everyone is afraid to say it.”

About Islam Horowitz was likewise unrestrained, describing Islam as a religion possessed by,

“hate, violence and racism”,

This is the radical anti-Muslim and racist anti-Palestinian agenda that drives both Horowitz and Spencer. While Spencer’s anti-Muslim and anti-Islam animus is clear and copiously documented it is unknown whether he shares the same opinion about Palestinians/Arabs as his boss. What is certain however is that Spencer does not mind these statements, nor does he condemn them and therefore he is complicit in his boss’s hateful rhetoric about Arabs.

The full article can be read at Israel National News,

FrontPage Editor at Bklyn College: Palestinians are Morally Sick

by Fern Sidman, INN New York Correspondent

David Horowitz,  conservative commentator, prolific author and founder of theFrontPage Mag web site, spoke out  in response to ongoing Israeli Apartheid Week on campus. A full house gathered at the Brooklyn College library auditorium on Thursday evening,  under exceptionally heavy security, to hear him.

The speech, delivered one day before the barbaricmassacre of five members of the Fogel family on Friday night in Itamar, became tragically prescient..

Describing the Palestinians, Horowitz said:  ”No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians”, adding, “In the history of all mankind, there was never a people who strapped bombs on their bodies and killed innocent people. No other people has sunk so low as the Palestinians, and everyone is afraid to say it.”

Describing Islam as a religion possessed by “hate, violence and racism”, he said that a resolution to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio could is not beyond reach. “If you disarm the Palestinians in the Middle East there will be peace, but if you disarm the Jews, there wil be further death and destruction.”

David Horowitz’s blog spouting propaganda as usual part 2

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by loonwatch

It’s a daily barrage of explicit anti-Muslim messages over at David Horowitz’s NewsRealBlog. Not just extremist Muslims, but all Muslims (over 1 billion people) and Islam (over 1,400 years of tradition) itself. I recently called out Mr. Paul Cooper for his sweeping claims about women and Islam. Today, we find another Islamophobic underling spouting anti-Muslim talking points but whose knowledge of basic facts is, to be polite, somewhat limited.

Mrs. Lisa Graas, a self-proclaimed Catholic, is furious that Cardinal Sfeir of Lebanon is “suffering from an acute case of dhimmitude.” His crime? This single statement:

Islam is, of course, a religion that promotes worshipping the goodness in life, worshipping God and being fair to others.

Of course, what the Cardinal said is the largely accepted non-controversial stance of serious comparative religion scholars who aren’t indoctrinated with anti-Muslim libels and canards. The Quran says:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted. (4:135)

This call for justice is universal; that is, it is applied to both Muslims and non-Muslims, as is clear from the phrase, “even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.” It is recorded in the practice (Sunnah) of the Prophet and his early companions:

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr: The Prophet said: “Whoever killed a person protected by a treaty shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be found at a distance of forty years (of traveling).”

[Sahih Bukhari, Book 83 Number 49]

Dr. Maher Hathout, a respected American Muslim scholar, writes about the precedent set by the first four Caliphs of equal treatment, Muslims and non-Muslims, before the law:

The Caliph Ali is noted to have said, concerning non-Muslims, “they only entered the covenant so that their lives and properties would be [protected] like our lives and properties.” This point is important because it highlights the underlying purpose of entering into a treaty with the ruler. The state has the ability to provide protection for its people and both Muslims and non-Muslims enter into a political contract with the state so that they are granted equal protection.

The equality with which all are to be treated before the law is illustrated when the Caliph lost his armor in the battle of Siffin. A few days later, he noticed a Christian wearing that armor. He referred the case to a judge, and both he and the Christian appeared before the judge, each arguing that it was his armor, but the Christian stated that his possession of it was proof of his ownership. Caliph Ali could not produce any witnesses to support his own claims to it. When the judge hesitated in pronouncing the verdict, given the Caliph’s status [as chief executive], he exhorted the judge to disregard any such considerations. The judgment was in the Christian’s favor, and the Caliph accepted it.

[Hathout, M., Jamil, U., Hathout, G., & Ali, N. (2006). In pursuit of justice: The jurisprudence of human rights in Islam. Los Angeles: Muslim Public Affairs Council. P. 212]

All three branches of the United States government have acknowledged this fact about Islam; such as the 96th Congress, the United States Supreme Court, and many Presidents including Bush and Obama. In addition, Mrs. Lisa Graas, a self-described “experienced apologist for the Catholic faith,” has likewise either not read or has rejected the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions by Pope Paul VI:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Thus, in reality, Cardinal Sfeir is being faithful to what the Catholic Church has taught about these matters; an interfaith consensus of peaceful coexistence and respect built over many, many years of painful learning from the follies our collective intolerance. But that doesn’t stop Mrs. Graas from accusing the Cardinal of betraying his symbolic Christian blood oath and paving the road for non-Muslim enslavement, simply by stating what Islam and Christianity obviously have in common. Nay! For those indoctrinated in the Spencer-Horowitz closed information system (based on pretend information), anything uttered about Islam must be in terms of pure evil, otherwise it becomes part of the conspiracy. She fusses:

While Lebanon is not yet to the point of being a Muslim-majority country enslaving, abducting, or deporting Christians, it is important to point out that attitudes like Cardinal Sfeir’s are attitudes of contentment with dhimmitude that pave the way for the advancement of Islam which itself results consistently in more oppression of non-Muslim peoples.

Cardinal Sfeir tendered his resignation to the Vatican some time ago, but the Vatican has yet to accept it. Considering that Pope Benedict XVI has been consistent in every opportunity available to address the plight of Christians under Islam, emphasizing the need for divided Christians to unite and for Christians and Jews to work together, we can believe that a suitable replacement for Cardinal Sfeir is being sought by the Vatican, and one that will actually contend for the true peace offered by Christians, Jews and other peace-loving people rather than the false peace of dhimmitude.

Mrs. Graas relies on links to the closed information-propaganda system (based on pretend information) called discover the networks which features non-expert loons like Bat Ye’or and Andrew Bostom. She essentializes Islam as pure dhimmitude, the imaginary lust for persecution of non-Muslims that is the Islamic religious impulse. She has no need to refer to any contemporary realities concerning modern Muslim interpretations of classical rulings on dhimmi (“protected”) people and citizenship, such as the recent solidarity Egyptian Muslims showed to their Coptic Christian neighbors by serving as human shields against violent extremists. Nor does she need to refer to any fundamental documents that might shed light on attitudes about citizenship in Lebanon such as, perhaps, the Lebanese Constitution:


All Lebanese are equal before the law.  They equally enjoy civil and political rights and equally are bound by public obligations and duties without any distinction.

1.     The Chamber of Deputies is composed of elected members; their number and the method of their election is determined by the electoral laws in effect.  Until such time as the Chamber enacts new electoral laws on a non-confessional basis, the distribution of seats is according to the following principles:

a. Equal representation between Christians and Muslims.

b.    Proportional representation among the confessional groups within each religious community.

c.     Proportional representation among geographic regions.

2.     Exceptionally, and for one time only, the seats that are currently vacant, as well as the new seats that have been established by law, are to be filled by appointment, all at once, and by a majority of two thirds of the Government of National Unity.  This is to establish equality between Christians and Muslims as stipulated in the Document of National Accord [The Taif  Agreement].

Rather, for Graas, Islam is the essence of every evil the human mind can conceive; persecution, war, slavery, rape, abduction, misogyny (hatred of women), irrationality; and Cardinal Sfeir is a part of the problem because he won’t describe Islam for what it allegedly is. Perhaps she should read Danios’ enlightening article about how the medevial dhimmitude she essentializes to Islam was, although second-class by today’s standard, still far better than her own historical co-religionists. Yet, we know that loons have a strong allergy to information that contradicts their anti-Muslim ideology.

Mrs. Graas, take some anti-Islamophobia-hystamine by reading a balanced primer on Islam such as, say, Huston Smith’s World Religions. It’s great for undergraduate studies (where you seem to be).

 

David Horowitz’s Blog Spouting Propaganda as Usual

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2011 by loonwatch
David Horowitz

David Horowitz’s NewRealBlog is (like FrontPageMag) a lightning rod for people who want to justify their preconceived prejudices about Islam and Muslims. Today, we find an article by Paul Cooper, a pastor, which allegedly purports to expose the reality of women under Sharia law. Of course, we’ve come to expect the usual dose of anti-Muslim bias from David Horowitz’s cash for hate scheme which regularly dehumanizes Palestinians and inspires right-wing terrorists.

Mr. Cooper exposes the “left-leaning” (what most call mainstream moderate) journalists who refuse to describe Sharia law in terms of pure evil:

Every week new articles come out from left-leaning journalists about how great Sharia law is and how we have nothing to fear. Yet we at NewsReal have written on many sad cases of how children are treated under Sharia all over the world. You don’t hear the whole story of the dangers of Islamic law unless you see how it affects women. This past week in Pakistan, for example, two women were falsely accused of blasphemy and almost beaten to death.

Cooper follows classic far right-wing tactics by using Islam as a political wedge issue; that is, to divide Americans according to their position on Islam. I’ve written before about right-wing activists using Islam as a stick to bash the Left. One wonders if his primary target is his political enemies (Democrats), not necessarily Muslims themselves.

Historically, Muslims had done away with harsh blasphemy laws in 1839 during the Reformation of the Ottoman Empire, specifically by a decree known as the Noble Edict of the Rose Chamber. For Mr. Cooper, though, a small troublesome detail like that need not prevent him from claiming that such severe laws are essential Islamic traditions practiced all over the Muslim world.

Admittedly, there are problems with Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. But Muslims have been voicing their criticism of the Pakistani government’s heavy hand for quite some time. Yursil Kidwai, in an excellent piece for the Huffington Post, describes how so-called Sharia laws are actually tactics used by corrupt governments to distract people from their endemic corruption:

It seems more than coincidental that these ‘Sharia’ incidents occur in states that are run by atheistic/communist dictators (i.e. Saddam Hussein) or ridiculously corrupt ‘Islamo-democratic’ governments.

In Pakistan’s case, the International Crisis Group provided a report last year stating:

“Decades of mismanagement, political manipulation and corruption have rendered Pakistan’s civil service incapable of providing effective governance and basic public services. In public perceptions, the country’s 2.4 million civil servants are widely seen as unresponsive and corrupt, and bureaucratic procedures cumbersome and exploitative. Bureaucratic dysfunction and low capacity undermine governance, providing opportunities to the military to subvert the democratic transition and to extremists to destabilize the state.”

Ridiculous distractions such as modern ‘Islamic’ states opinions on blasphemy, adultery, and theft allow Islamophobes to target their favorite religion, while allowing corruption and real problems to go under the radar. These laws today serve a purpose that they never had in what was the most authentic Islamic state (now only a memory): a means to prove a government’s religiosity in a midst of lies, deceit, money and total corruption which make up most of its actual administration.

Yursil is correct that the misguided policies of unelected dictators to enforce only the most harsh Sharia laws are nothing more than superficial attempts to legitimate illegitimate governments. Islamophobes like to focus on these irregular examples as a typical day of Sharia law. However, this belies the sophisticated Ottoman legal system which, using Sharia’s own internal mechanisms (such as ijtihad and istihsan), had done away with severe punishments like stoning and blasphemy. Yursil continues:

Islamic laws which reward charity, promote honesty, promote tolerance have been forgotten in these states, while a handful of ‘Shariah’ punishments were mixed in with brand-new torturous and oppressive policies and procedures.

Interestingly enough, these selected ‘Sharia’ punishments were frowned upon under the centuries of Ottoman rule and by its end had become completely unpracticed. In Ottoman lands where Sharia was the be-all, end-all official state law, these laws were unenforced as a matter of practice. This was not through denouncing or revising Islamic Law, but by putting into practice the complete and holistic set of checks and balances built into Islamic Sharia.

Of course, most Muslim law makers are following precedents similar to the Ottoman reforms. Yet, all this history and context is simply too much information to consider before David Horowitz and company declare Sharia law a threat to all women. After recounting in detail a single anecdote from Pakistan, Cooper concludes that such events are representative of the entire Muslim world (over 1 billion people):

Sadly such stories are common in many Islamic regions. Yet news agency [sic], women’s groups, and human rights organizations continue to turn a deaf ear. Despite their indifference, some of us are listening and committed to getting the word out on the true dangers of Sharia law.

We are left to believe that women everywhere in the Muslim world, without exception, are suffering every day under Sharia law. I am curious to see how Mr. Cooper explains the fact that Pakistan, allegedly under misogynist Sharia law, has twice elected a woman Prime Minister. But what do you expect from someone who links his article to Nonie Darwish, among others, as his “resource” for Sharia?

Mr. Cooper, perhaps those “news agencies, women’s groups, and human rights organizations continue to turn a deaf ear” because they don’t pay attention to exaggerated politically self-serving claims about women and Sharia law from non-experts like yourself.