The death of Nelson Mandela has been the occasion for a great deal of self-righteous preening. Barack Obama cribbed from Edwin M. Stanton in his statement, declaring that Mandela “belongs to the ages,” but CNN helpfully recalled more original words from Obama about Mandela from 2010, in which he laid claim to the great man’s mantle:
Through his choices, Mandela made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is — that we could do our part to seek the world as it should be….In the most modest of ways, I was one of those people who tried to answer his call.
The tributes to Mandela all sounded similar themes: he fought oppression and injustice and prevailed, transforming South Africa and the world. But Obama’s was by no means the only accolade to contain a self-congratulatory note. Numerous leftists and Islamic supremacists hurried to remind the world that Mandela was once branded a “terrorist,” implying that modern-day terrorists would one day be hailed as new additions to the pantheon of secular saints. Al Jazeera’s Wajahat Ali tweeted:
Let’s never forget #Mandela’s courage once made him despised & feared. The long road to icon-hood is paved w/ persecution & sacrifice.
Yet these modern-day mini-Mandelas, however they may style themselves as champions of the downtrodden and oppressed, laboring mightily against the contemporary incarnations of the architects of apartheid, have a curious blind spot. Mandela fought against an unjust system built upon racial prejudice. His struggle is easy enough to support from twenty-first century armchairs, when the oppressive system is long dead and no one in his right mind would support it or call for its revival. But oppression and injustice are by no means dead on the African continent – they’re just coming from a different source.
The video is chilling: a jihadist from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda’s branch for those two countries, addresses a crowd of boys at a school in Syria, rallying them to jihad. The boys look to be about ten or twelve years old, and they eagerly participate in the lesson – which is all about how Muslims should wage war and slaughter infidels in order to defend Islam.
“The mujahideen are coming here, to Syria,” says the jihadist, telling the boys that they have come from “Egypt, from Chechnya, from Morocco, from the U.S., from Belgium, from China, from Russia, from Cameroon. … Who unites them?”
“Allah!,” the children dutifully reply.
The jihadist bats back a follow-up: “Why did they gather here?”
The boys aren’t stumped: “For the sake of Islam,” they answer readily.
That was what the jihadist wanted to hear, as he was ready to expand on the point – one gets the impression that he was asking the boys questions that they had been asked and answered many times before. “Islam,” he tells them, “unites everyone under one word, with no distinction between skin color, nationality, or anything. The entire Earth belongs to Allah. Islam elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.”
Had he so desired, the jihadist could have pointed to Qur’anic sanction for the idea that Islam “elevates the Muslims and humiliates the infidels.” The Muslim holy book tells believers to “fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden” even if they are of the “People of the Book,” that is, primarily Jews and Christians, “until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.” (9:29)
“The Child is father of the Man,” wrote William Wordsworth, and nowhere is this truer today than in the Russian Muslim Republic of Dagestan, from which hailed the Boston Marathan jihad mass murderers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In a telling indication of what kind of environment the Tsarnaevs grew up in, children in Dagestan have found a new source of fun far more engrossing than Assassins Creed or World of Warcraft: in imitation of their parents, they’re filming their own jihad videos.
The children of Dagestan are not so concerned, at least so far, about beheading Western journalists or demanding the end to this or that “occupation” or else many more will die; as is understandable given their age and experience, their jihads are somewhat smaller in scope. Brandishing weapons (which Russia Today assures us are toys), they’re filming themselves demanding good grades in school or money from their parents or others.
They are, of course, imitating what they have seen their parents and other adults around them do: Dagestan is a hotbed of jihad activity, and jihadists there are no different from jihadists the world over: they love filming themselves waving guns around, issuing threats against the infidels, spouting Qur’an verses to buttress their argument, and posting them on the Internet for the world to see.
The children of Dagestan have no doubt grown up seeing this – watching the adults around them film such videos, and gather around to watch them, and spend evenings planning them. So now they’re making their own and posting them to YouTube by themselves. They’ve been raised in a culture of violence. It is what they know.
“Shoot first, ask questions later” in the old Westerns referred to a hothead who assumed that everyone he encountered was an enemy, and was ever-ready to strike out against those enemies, even before he had adequate information. The phrase has passed into the national argot as an appellation for someone who is touchy, angry, insecure, paranoid, and reckless – but in light of some of its most recent manifestations, it should now be revised to “behead first, ask questions later.”
The first came last Thursday, when jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria announced that a recent beheading they had triumphantly filmed and posted online was, well, a mistake. They had claimed that the head, which the killers had exultantly brandished before the camera and the cheering crowd, belonged to a member of a Shi’ite group fighting to defend the Assad regime, but someone who saw the video recognized it as having once rested on the shoulders of Mohammed Fares, a fellow Sunni jihadist and ally of those who murdered him.
The second came from India on Friday, when a man was acquitted of blasphemy charges that had been originally brought against him in 2010. T.J. Joseph, a teacher and a Christian, was accused of including questions that insulted Muhammad on an exam that he gave to his students at Newman College. Members of an Islamic supremacist group, the Popular Front of India, got wind of Joseph’s exam and made the blasphemy accusation, whereupon Joseph was inundated with threats. Finally, a Muslim mob attacked Joseph and cut off his right hand and part of his arm. Newman College, seeing the way the wind was blowing, followed in the footsteps of centuries of cowardly academics and fired Joseph, canceling his pension.
Late-night comic Conan O’Brien tweeted Friday night: “Marvel Comics is introducing a new Muslim Female superhero. She has so many more special powers than her husband’s other wives.” The predictable self-righteous firestorm ensued.
O’Brien was referring to “Kamala Khan,” Marvel Comics’ new Muslim superhero, unveiled with great fanfare last week. They are only introducing this Muslim superhero because of the hugely successful post-9/11 campaign by Islamic supremacists and their Leftist allies to portray Muslims as victims of “Islamophobia” and “hatred” — when actually the incidence of attacks on innocent Muslims is very low (not that a single one is acceptable or justified), and the entire “Islamophobia” campaign is an attempt to intimidate people into thinking that there is something wrong with fighting against jihad terror and Islamic supremacism.
Will Kamala Khan fight against jihadis? Will Marvel be introducing a counter-jihad superhero? I expect that the answer is no on both counts.
In any case, O’Brien’s tweet was just a silly quip, but as the Ayatollah Khomeini said, “There is no humor in Islam.” One of those who were offended wrote: “I didn’t know that @ConanOBrien had Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller writing for him now. Interesting.” A legion of Leftists descended upon O’Brien’s Twitter feed, accusing him of being a “f***ing racist scumbag” and “Islamophobic,” and his joke of being “kinda tasteless,” “really ignorant and terrible,” “in very poor taste,” and “f***ing gross and racist.”
“Racist”? What race is Muslim polygamy again? I keep forgetting. O’Brien’s joke has a factual basis. The Qur’an says: “And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].” (4:3)
But as O’Brien is discovering now, calling attention to uncomfortable truths about Islam is “racist” and wrong, even if they’re undeniably…truths. I am sure that Conan O’Brien will not make this mistake again: almost immediately after people began criticizing him for it, he took the offending tweet down. After all, he wants to stay on television; bringing uncomfortable aspects of Islam to light is the quickest way to be read out of polite and decent society. Just ask Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, formerly darlings of the Leftist intelligentsia — until they touched that third rail of American public discourse and dared to criticize the violence and brutality that Islamic jihadists commit and justify by reference to Islamic texts and teachings.
Yousef al-Khattab was the ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin of American Muslims: a merry villain, enjoying saying and doing things that he knew would shock and annoy those whom he held in contempt. Al-Khattab made no secret of his love for jihad terror and hatred of the infidels. He praised Osama bin Laden, filmed himself rejoicing in the murder of Daniel Pearl and saying he had no problem eating popcorn while watching the video of Pearl’s beheading, and mocked the killing and maiming of U.S. troops in Iraq.
It all caught up to him last Thursday, when al-Khattab pleaded guilty to posting material online supporting jihad terror attacks and targeting Jews. But unremarked in all the coverage of al-Khattab’s gleeful evildoing is the fact that he is more than just a scoundrel straight out of a comic book: he’s a father.
Al-Khattab was a founder of the Revolution Muslim group, as well as the Islamic Thinkers Society. He has said: “I love Osama bin Laden…I love him…because I haven’t seen that he’s really done anything wrong from the Sharia. I love him more than I love myself.” Of Fort Hood jihad mass murderer Nidal Malik Hasan, al-Khattab wrote:
An officer and a gentleman was injured while partaking in a preemptive attack. Get Well Soon Major Nidal We Love You. We do NOT denounce this officer’s actions… .Sharing a Smile with the International Community, Yousef al-Khattab.
All this (and there was much more like it) was bad enough, but al-Khattab also demonstrated a decided inclination not just to praise jihadi killers like bin Laden and Hasan, but to follow in their footsteps. Philadelphia Magazine reported that al-Khattab,
posted a message asking Allah to punish Jewish people using “liquid drain cleaner in their faces” and by making “their fingers and brains stick on cafe walls from impact.”
He strongly hinted that Muslims should take up that job for Allah and kill Jews themselves. This glorification of jihad mass murder of Jews is all the more chilling in light of the fact that Yousef al-Khattab is a convert to Islam from Judaism. Formerly Joseph Cohen, he lived in Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and Israel before violently rejecting his religion, culture, and heritage.
Al-Khattab seemed particularly intent on inciting the murder of his former friends and associates. According to the Washington Post,
in a January 2009 post, he told viewers to seek out leaders of Jewish Federation chapters in the United States and “deal with them directly at their homes,” court records show. In another post that year, Khattab, who lives in Atlantic City, added a photo of the Chabad Jewish organization headquarters in Brooklyn with a link to a map, court records show. He noted that Chabad’s main temple was always full at prayer times and wrote, “Make EVERY attempt to reach these people and teach them the message of Islam or leave them a message from Islam.”
What kind of message from Islam he had in mind was illustrated by an image he once posted of himself with his three sons, photoshopped onto the Jerusalem skyline, with the Dome of the Rock prominently in the background. Al-Khattab and each of his sons, Abdel Rahman, Abdel Aziz, and Abdullah (who looks about eight years old), is holding an AK-47.
Clearly al-Khattab wanted to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Qur’an 8:60) by making the world think that he was training his sons to be jihad terrorists. After all, he also posted on his website a video of his hero, Osama bin Laden, saying: “So talk yourself into martyrdom operations… because to the same degree that the number of young men who carry out martyrdom increases, the time of victory gets closer, with Allah’s permission.”
Last Monday in the Russian city of Volgograd, a 30-year-old woman from Dagestan named Naida Akhiyalova boarded a bus. Akhiyalova, a convert to Islam, soon afterward exploded a jihad-martyrdom suicide bomb vest, killing herself, murdering six other people, and injuring over 30 more. The vest, as it turned out, was a gift from Akhiyalova’s 22-year-old husband, Dmitry Sokolov, himself also a convert to Islam.
Nothing says “I’m just not that into you” quite like giving your wife a suicide vest. The immediate explanation for Sokolov’s gift to his bride was that he had grown disenchanted with a wife eight years his senior, and found a convenient means to get her out of the way – however much his marriage to an older woman resembled that of Muhammad to Khadija, his first wife, who was fifteen years older than the prophet of Islam.
However, that scenario doesn’t account for why Sokolov didn’t just say the triple talaq (“I divorce you”), which would have rid him of Akhiyalova quickly, easily, and painlessly. Nor does it explain why Akhiyalova was apparently willing to get on the bus, even though she knew it would be her last ride.
Not much is known about her at this point, but it may be that she was a true believer. There are, after all, numerous precedents. On June 21, 2005, a 21-year-old Muslim woman named Wafa Samir al-Biss tried to kill herself and murder as many infidels as possible at an Israeli checkpoint, but her explosive vest failed to detonate. She recounted later that day that her “dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death.”
Eid al-Adha, the Muslim feast commemorating Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Ishmael, was Tuesday. Muslims frequently give special gifts (eidi) to those they love on such festive days, but in Muhammad Aslam’s home in Faisalabad, the great day came and went and Aslam had no eidi for his wife. In fact, she recounted later, he ignored her completely for the rest of the week. But that turned out to be the least of her troubles.
The following Friday, Aslam’s wife had made plans to go shopping with some of her friends, women from the area. She accordingly approached Aslam and made bold to ask him for eidi of 5,000 Pakistani rupees – that is, $47.13.
She didn’t get it. Instead, Aslam jumped up, seized her by the hair, and began beating her. Not content with the damage he could do alone, he called his brother, Muhammad Akram (no explanation is given in the Pakistani news item for the brothers’ identical forenames and different surnames). Akram, says the news report, “caught her by the arms while Aslam threw kerosene oil at her. They then set fire to her clothes.”
The poor woman is now in critical condition, with severe burns over 55 percent of her body. Pakistani police are hunting for Akram and Aslam, who fled the scene. But even if they are caught, the underlying problem will remain: Muhammad Aslam’s wife was the victim of entrenched and religiously sanctioned culture of violence against women, which still remains, and will victimize many, many more women.
The girl’s Muslim parents forced her into the marriage when she was fourteen. Her mother tried to put a good face on a bad situation, enticing the girl with a picture of marriage as a never-ending party: her husband, she said, would treat the girl to ice cream and lollipops and take her to movies and amusement parks. Reality turned out to be a bit different: her husband imprisoned her inside their home and forced her to watch violent videos featuring jihad attacks against soldiers from Western countries. He also raped her and beat her frequently.
The girl went to her father for help. But her father, as she recounted later, was completely unsympathetic, telling her: “So what if he raped you? So what if he bashed you? The only way you can come back to me is in a coffin.”
This didn’t happen in Pakistan, or Egypt, or Indonesia. This girl suffered in comfortable suburban Australia, where Western society failed her as thoroughly as did Islamic society: she went to a teacher and explained what was happening, but despite laws requiring teachers to report such incidents, nothing was done.
Perhaps the teacher was afraid that if she reported the girl’s husband, she’d be accused of “bigotry” and “hate.” The forces promoting multiculturalism are as strong and deeply entrenched in Australia as they are in Europe and the United States. But inevitably, the multiculturalist acceptance of all things Islamic and stigmatization of any and all opposition to Islamic law as “racist” and “bigoted” are going to come into conflict with core Western principles of human rights and human dignity. This Muslim teenager’s teacher apparently accepted child marriage and spousal abuse as the price of eschewing “Islamophobia.”
Last week I wrote that Western countries were soon “going to have to make a choice as to whether they’re going to affirm the human dignity of women and maintain the illegality of polygamy, or whether they’re going to allow them to become mere possessions and playthings, denizens of de facto harems.” The same choice is coming regarding child marriage. Australian society, along with European and American society as well, is before too long going to have to choose between protecting the rights of women and thus fighting against child marriage, or allowing it in the interests of marching together with Sharia adherents into the brave new multicultural future.
Polygamy is against the law in the U.S. and Canada, and that’s a good thing: the practice devalues women, reducing them to the status of commodities, and stands as an affront to their equality with men as human beings. But now anti-polygamy laws are coming under stealthy and subtle challenge, as both governments bow before the god of multiculturalism and dare not confront the increasing number of Muslims who are practicing polygamy in both countries.
The QMI Agency reported on October 1 that “Canadian immigration officials are letting polygamous men into the country as long as they arrive with only their first wife and promise not to obtain a harem afterward.” The polygamous men are gaming the system, as immigration lawyer Richard Kurland explained: “Under Canadian law, all other marriages after the first are illegal. For this reason, the first spouse only may enter Canada on a permanent basis, which creates a monogamous marriage.”
But if a polygamist wants to bring his other wives into Canada, all he has to do is divorce the others and remarry them in turn, while promising not to practice polygamy. Kurland explains: “You can immigrate with one (wife) by divorcing the others — divorce the one in Canada, marry the second one, bring her in (and) repeat the loop, as long as you sign a paper promising that you are not living in a polygamous relationship in Canada. There is no enforcement, control, or monitoring.”
There isn’t any in the United States, either. In 2011, a Muslim named Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif was charged with plotting a jihad attack against the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle military recruiting station. His niqabbed wife, Binta Moussa-Davis, declared of her husband: “He just good Muslim. Perfect Muslim. He pray five times a day.” One feature of Abdul-Latif’s devout commitment to Islam was his desire to marry again – without divorcing Binta, of course.
Ideally a neighborhood is a small family, a community of people who are kind and sympathetic to one another, who share the common interests of their locality even if they differ in other ways. But just as the vision of the family in Islamic law is that of a community of a man and his slaves rather than a community of love between a man and a woman, so also the ideal neighborhood that Islamic supremacists envision is not exactly the kind of place where you might lean over the fence and have a friendly chat with your neighbor.
We have seen illustrated anew in Syria recently, as Robert Fisk (of all people!) reported last week in the Independent: “The Diab family,” Fisk wrote, “can never return to Maaloula. Not since the Christians of this beautiful and sacred town saw their Muslim neighbours leading the armed Nusrah Islamists to their homes.”
“We knew our Muslim neighbours all our lives,” says one Christian whose home was destroyed. “Yes, we knew the Diab family were quite radical, but we thought they would never betray us. We ate with them. We are one people.”
The Christians, he said, had even looked after the wives and children of local jihad fighters while they were away:
A few of the Diab family had left months ago and we guessed they were with the Nusra. But their wives and children were still here. We looked after them. Then, two days before the Nusra attacked, the families suddenly left the town. We didn’t know why. And then our neighbours led our enemies in among us.
This was an ugly shock, because previously “there was a kind of coexistence between us. We had excellent relations. It never occurred to us that Muslim neighbours would betray us. We all said ‘please let this town live in peace – we don’t have to kill each other’. But now there is bad blood. They brought in the Nusra to throw out the Christians and get rid of us forever. Some of the Muslims who lived with us are good people but I will never trust 90 percent of them again.”
International Business Times reported Friday that
a French mother who named her son Jihad has reportedly been convicted by an appeals court in the city of Nimes, France, of “glorifying a crime” for sending the 3-year-old to school wearing a shirt emblazoned with the French words for “I am a bomb” and “Jihad born on September 11th.”
The jihadi mother, Bouchra Bagour, got a suspended sentence of a month in prison and a $2,705 fine. Jihad’s uncle, Zeyad Bagour, got a two-month prison sentence, also suspended, along with a fine of $5,409, for buying him the “I am a bomb” shirt.
But Bouchra and Zeyad Bagour say the whole thing was just a joke. “For me,” said Bouchra in court, “the text is simply my son’s name and his date of birth. It’s a bit different, but I thought it would make people laugh. … My brother gave my son the sweatshirt, I put it on him, and I never thought anything of it.”
Zeyad Bagour added that he “had no intention of being provocative or shocking people. “For me, the words ‘I am a bomb’ mean ‘I am beautiful.’”
The Bagours’ attorney, Gaële Guenoum, expressed shock at the court’s ruling, calling it “severe, surprising and amazing.”
Prosecutors, however, weren’t buying it. “At some point,” one observed, “there must be limits. They are not stupid. They understand the significance of what they are doing.” They knew that in this context, the Bagours weren’t just making a cute joke; they were glorifying evil.
At the height of the controversy over U.S. military intervention in Syria, as I noted last week, an Iranian official named Alireza Forghani issued a novel threat to the United States: if the U.S. entered Syria, he said, there would be “mass abductions and brutal killings of American citizens around the world and the rape and killing of one of Obama’s daughters should the United States attack Syria.” Forghani said that within two days of the beginning of the military action, a relative of every U.S. cabinet member, ambassador, and military commander around the world would be abducted and mutilated, all to be lavishly depicted in lurid YouTube videos.
As David Swindle noted right after the Boston Marathon jihad bombing,
We are now entering a new phase of the Islamic war to replace liberal societies with Sharia law. This is World War IV, a multi-decade conflict that will be for our generation what the war against Nazism and Fascism was for our grandparents. Except it will probably be worse.
Forghani’s threat illustrated just how much worse it could get. It is not outside the realm of possibility that his threat could come true, and that Islamic jihadis worldwide could begin raping, torturing and murdering Americans in large numbers, and filming the whole thing as they filmed the beheadings of Daniel Pearl, Nicholas Berg, Paul Marshall Johnson, and others. This could conceivably happen in the United States as well. Rape has always been a weapon of war; German women in Berlin as it was falling to the Soviets in April 1945 grew accustomed to regular rapes from the Soviet soldiers. This became so common that in their black humor they joked, “Better a Russki on the belly than an Ami on the head” – that is, better to be raped by a Russian than to fall victim to an American bombing raid.But it couldn’t possibly happen here, could it? Well, why not? It is already happening in Britain, where an appallingly large number of Muslim rape gangs have abducted English girls, gang-raped them, forced them into prostitution, and in some cases killed them. These gangs have frequently made statements that indicate that they see their actions as justified because their victims are non-Muslim; one Muslim who murdered his captive sex slave called her a “kuffar bitch” – that is, an infidel. Many of the captors have been noted for being particularly devout Muslims; one even raped numerous girls to punish them for being outside without permission of a male guardian, which is a crime in Islamic law. One judge told a captor, “You preyed on these girls because they were not part of your community or religion.”
The controversy over whether the U.S. should intervene militarily in Syria has become more about proving manhood than about chemical weapons, al-Qaeda, or geopolitics. Each side appears to be more intent on proving that they’re men than in doing the right thing by Syria, or anyone else, for that matter.
First and foremost is Barack Obama, whom Pamela Geller has indelibly dubbed the “helmeted bike rider.” His international coalition against Syria did not materialize; even the British refused to go along, for the first time in anyone’s memory. The French, who alone had pledged to go along, are now hesitating. And for good reason: Obama still has not been able to provide convincing proof that Assad launched the chemical weapons that made him want to attack Syria in the first place.
His supporters, meanwhile, appear increasingly ridiculous. His secretary of State insists that the Syrian rebels are mostly secular, contradicting intelligence reports from both the U.S. and Europe. His former opponent and now stalwart servant on the other side of the aisle, John McCain, has just as risibly promised that the Syrian rebels, whom even the New York Times has acknowledged are dominated by al-Qaeda, are “moderates.”
Obama has even admitted that “we may not be directly imminently threatened by what’s taking place” in Syria. May not be? There is no conceivable calculus by which we are directly imminently threatened by what’s taking place in Syria, but McCain’s sidekick, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, did his level best to come up with something, hysterically claiming that if the U.S. didn’t attack Syria, Iran might nuke Charleston Harbor.
The hysteria was a sign of desperation. Exposed, abandoned, and bereft of a case, Obama should have backed down. But he couldn’t, because it would have been a sign of weakness. Obama’s weakness has already been abundantly demonstrated, but seldom this nakedly and pointedly, and so he charged ahead, trying and failing to drum up support for his Syrian misadventure at the G-20 summit. The helmeted bike rider had to prove that he was a real man, a strong man, even if it meant any number of dead Syrians, and the U.S. allying with al-Qaeda.
In light of all that, it was hard to argue with Vladimir Putin’s charge that “what Congress and the U.S. Senate are doing in essence is legitimizing aggression.” Aggression is precisely the response of an aggrieved and insecure man to a challenge to his manhood.
Reza Aslan’s notorious interview with Lauren Green on Fox News has made him the toast of the liberal media, and his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth a massive bestseller. There’s just one problem: the book is lousy. It’s full of all of the empty portent of a bad B-movie screenplay (think Ben Hur as directed by Ed Wood), decades-old (and often discredited) scholarship breathlessly presented as brand-new discovery, and outright falsehoods foisted onto the unsuspecting reader, as Aslan manipulates facts to usher the reader to his predetermined conclusion.
Aslan arrogantly waved his credentials in Green’s face, and the media has eagerly taken up this particular cudgel for him: how dare Green question the prodigious scholar, the multi-degreed eminence, the dispassionate Muslim teller of truths about Christianity that are unpalatable to the racist, bigoted, Bible-thumping Islamophobes on Fox?
Matthew J. Franck, writing in First Things, noted that Aslan actually lied about his credentials to Green: he told her, “I am an expert with a Ph.D. in the history of religions. … I am a professor of religions, including the New Testament–that’s what I do for a living, actually. … To be clear, I want to emphasize one more time, I am a historian, I am a Ph.D. in the history of religions.” But he is not actually a Ph.D. in the “history of religions” at all; in reality, his Ph.D. is in sociology, and his dissertation was not on the New Testament at all, but on “Global Jihadism: a transnational social movement.”
Less often noted, however, is an even greater problem with Aslan’s obsessive citing of his credentials: degrees, particularly in this era of the politically correct stranglehold on academia, are no guarantee of knowledge, wisdom, or truth. Even if everything he had said to Green about his degrees had been true, it would confer on his book no presumption of accuracy or truth. There are plenty of fools with degrees, and plenty of geniuses without them. Aslan, from the looks of Zealot, is among the former – or at least he is hoping that his readers are. Here are five of this master scholar’s most egregious false statements:
1. Aslan refers numerous times throughout his book to Jesus living in “first-century Palestine.”
He has defended this usage in interviews by claiming that that was the Roman name for the area during Jesus’ time. But in fact, Jesus lived not in first-century Palestine, but in first-century Judea, a place that no one called “Palestine.” The Romans renamed it “Palestine” after emptying the area of Jews after the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 A.D. Aslan’s usage is an anachronism, and given his venomous opposition to the state of Israel, perhaps a politically motivated one at that.
In recent protests over the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood supporters looted, burned and destroyed 58 churches, Christian schools, and other Christian installations. Many members of the Brotherhood have decided to scapegoat the Christians for the downfall of Morsi’s government, even though they had nothing to do with it, and have targeted them ever since. But in fact, as Raymond Ibrahim documents in an important new book, the recent persecution in Egypt is nothing new.
In Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery), Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian, reveals why it is such a cruel irony that leftists and Islamic supremacists in the U.S. routinely tar the foes of jihad violence with charges of “bigotry” and “hatred.” In reality, it is they who are fronting for a recrudescence of bigotry and hatred on a grand – indeed, worldwide – scale: the Muslim war on Christians that stretches from Nigeria to Indonesia and involves restrictions on Christians’ freedom and Christian worship, creating a climate of hate in which Christians live on the precarious edge, constantly bracing themselves for a violent Muslim outbreak against them that could come at any time, without warning.
In Egypt, which Ibrahim uses as a paradigmatic example of the plight of Christians in Muslim countries, Coptic Christians have suffered discrimination and harassment for centuries. The recent worsening of their situation didn’t start just with the “Arab Spring.”
Late in 2010, for instance, Muslims in Egypt subjected the Copts to an unprecedented reign of terror. An Islamic jihad-martyrdom suicide bomber murdered twenty-two people and wounded eighty more at the Coptic Christian Church of the Saints in Alexandria, Egypt on New Year’s Eve. Just days later, as Christmas (which Copts celebrate on January 7) 2011 approached, an Islamic website carried this ominous exhortation: “Blow up the churches while they are celebrating Christmas or any other time when the churches are packed.”
It is iron dogma for the politically correct establishment in the U.S. that “moderate Muslims,” which for that establishment includes every last Muslim in the U.S., abhor and despise “extremists,” whom they don’t even consider Muslims, and whose violence and supremacism they reject. That’s the story, anyway. But it was sorely put to the test last week, when the Florida Muslim leader Ahmed Bedier made this sad announcement:
My brother Amir Bedier has returned to Our Lord. To Allah we belong and to Allah is the return. Amir was shot and killed by Egyptian police forces in Rabaa square today. We are proud of him and his courage to stand up for his beliefs and the rights of others. He was fasting and unarmed. He left behind a wife, two children, five brothers and his two parents and countless relatives and friends who loved him.
Ahmed Bedier, former chief of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), is widely regarded as a “moderate” Muslim leader – in this guise, he even appeared on Glenn Beck’s CNN show in March 2007 to speak out against “extremism.” On the show, he declared: “We condemn any nation, country or group that uses Islam or misuses and misinterprets Islam in violent ways.” Later, when he announced his departure from CAIR, he explained his future plans in terms to warm any multiculturalist’s heart: “I’m going to expand on and build upon my work as a civil rights and human rights leader into broader areas of peace building, interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.”
As is so often the case, things are not always as they seem. Unfortunately, like so many putative moderate Muslim groups and individuals in the United States, Bedier is not really all that moderate. He has said that before 1995, when the State Department declared Palestinian Islamic Jihad a terrorist group, there was “nothing immoral” about associating with the group. The anti-terror advocacy group Americans Against Hate notes that “Bedier’s answer is startling, given the fact that, prior to 1995, Palestinian Islamic Jihad took credit for five terrorist attacks, which resulted in the murders of eight innocent people. This includes a suicide bombing in the town of Netzarim Junction, in November of 1994.”
And when two Muslim college students, Youseff Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed, were found with pipe bombs (and one of whom admitted to making a video about how to use remote-controlled bombs against American soldiers), Bedier claimed that the pipe bomb material was just fireworks and said, “Both of them are really naïve kids.” On a Florida TV show, Bedier sidestepped numerous opportunities to condemn the barbaric practice of stoning.
For standing by her putative man, the exposed Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin has for the first time received some negative press attention amid the avalanche of coverage calling her “smart,” “accomplished” and “elegant.” But still off-limits has been any discussion in the mainstream media of her numerous ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
It’s not that the evidence is lacking. It’s that the politically correct elites have forbidden examination or discussion of it. Even to question whether Abedin has any connections with the Brotherhood, and whether those connections had any influence over Hillary Clinton’s decisions as secretary of State, is to demonstrate that one is a bigot, a racist, an Islamophobe, and a hatemonger, as well as a hysterical paranoiac.
Indeed, one infallible way to determine a stranger’s political positions on just about anything is to ask if he or she thinks Huma Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. If the stranger responds with righteous outrage, you’re dealing with a doctrinaire, mainstream liberal. If, on the other hand, the response is, “Yes, that is something that should be investigated,” you’re face-to-face with a Tea Partier.
That’s why Huma Abedin is the new Alger Hiss. For decades, ever since the former State Department official and advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was outed as a Soviet spy in the most celebrated espionage case of the nation’s history, the leftist establishment stoutly insisted that Hiss was innocent. Even today, some refuse to acknowledge the “present-day consensus among historians…that Alger Hiss was in fact a Soviet spy.”
But the controversy over whether or not Hiss was a Communist and a spy for the Soviets was (and is) not just a dispute over the evidence. It was, for the Left, a measure of whether or not you were a decent human being. Anna Roosevelt Halsted, the daughter of Eleanor and Franklin, said in 1956 that Hiss’s accuser, Whittaker Chambers, was “contemptible” and clearly “out to get” Hiss. Her mother said at a 1961 dinner party that Chambers was “utterly contemptible and probably a psychopathic liar.” Adlai Stevenson, present at the same gathering of liberal glitterati, agreed that the prosecution of Hiss was “one of the darker chapters in U.S. history.”
Recently I had a conversation on a train that raised an issue about the leftist media’s darling of the moment, Reza Aslan, along with larger questions about Islam and Christianity. Oddly enough, for all of the Left’s continuing outrage over Fox News’s “Islamophobic” interview of Aslan regarding his new book Zealot, the anointed pundits have never touched on this question: why aren’t Reza Aslan’s Christian relatives and friends trying to kill him?
It might seem to be a bizarre question, but it isn’t. It is a staple of mainstream media discourse that Islam and Christianity (and all other religions, for that matter) are essentially equal in their capacity to inspire both benevolence and violence. If Muslims commit jihad terror attacks today, well, remember the Crusades. If Muslims commit 91% of honor killings worldwide and several Muslim countries have relaxed penalties for such murders at the insistence of Islamic clerics, well, the Republican Party is just like the Taliban, anyway. And if Islam has a death penalty for apostasy, Christians must abuse those who leave Christianity as well.
I encountered this line of thought yet again on the train. Seated next to me was not (luckily) Reza Aslan himself, but a jovial and somewhat inebriated gentleman who told me in the course of our conversation that he was an Iraq war veteran. Then he told me about how once he was on patrol in Baghdad with an Iraqi soldier who asked him his religion. By this time the man had been in Iraq long enough to know what the Iraqis hated the most, and so he responded mischievously to the question: although he was a Catholic, he told the Iraqi he was Jewish, and when the Iraqi didn’t understand the English word, he drew a Star of David in the sand — whereupon the Iraqi drew his rifle on him.
I then explained that Islamic anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in the Qur’an, which calls the Jews the worst enemies of the Muslims (cf. 5:82). I told him about the genocidal hadith, in which Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is depicted as saying that,
the last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him (Sahih Muslim 6985).
To all that, however, he responded that, well, the Bible had plenty of bad stuff in it, too. That put me in mind of Aslan’s notorious Fox interview, in which he avowed that “my mother is a Christian, my wife is a Christian, my brother-in-law is an evangelical pastor.” Aslan recounts that he himself was an enthusiastic evangelical Christian until his studies gave him the impression that the New Testament was not historically reliable, whereupon, he says: “I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.”
One thing the mainstream media knows about Huma Abedin is that she is elegant. Time reported on how Weiner’s “elegant and accomplished wife… declared her love and support for him, visibly pained at having to speak in public as the sad, sordid details of his repeat behavior were exposed yet again.” The Wall Street Journal lamented:
Watching the elegant Huma Abedin stand next to her man Tuesday as he explained his latest sexually charged online exchanges was painful for a normal human being to watch.
What they’re less sure of is why this elegant woman would stand by the increasingly ridiculous Weiner. Time thinks, rather fancifully, that it’s because “divorce can still be stigmatizing in some social circles where parents are particularly ambitious about providing the absolute best environment for their children” – and because, well, Huma just “loves this guy despite it all.”
Most others, however, agree that it is because she is seeking power and influence, and thinks – however improbably – that Anthony Weiner is still the pathway to them. Even Weiner’s sexting partner Sydney Leathers said of the Weiner-Abedin union: “It almost feels to me like it’s more of an arrangement, or a business relationship, than a marriage.” She said she thought Abedin stuck with Weiner “for the power, for the fame, for the stature.”
Maybe so. And she also may be staying in it because Weiner’s indiscretions just don’t matter to her that much – not necessarily because they have a sham marriage, but because Abedin is approaching the marriage from an Islamic perspective.
This week’s Muslim rioting in France was touched off when a policeman in the town of Trappes gave a ticket to a Muslim woman who was wearing a face veil, in violation of French law. Her husband, enraged at this affront to the family honor, attacked the cop and began trying to strangle him. His arrest in turn enraged his fellow Muslims, and now the rioting is entering its fourth day and has spread to nearby Elancourt, with so far twenty cars torched and Muslims shooting at police.
According to CBS News, France prescribes “small fines or citizenship classes for women wearing veils.” Thus this veiled woman’s offense is roughly the equivalent of getting a parking ticket. Nonetheless, for her husband the ticket was an offense warranting strangulation.
A Western husband might not think that the proper response to his wife’s getting a ticket would be to try to strangle the policeman, but that is precisely what the strangler and the rioters would consider to be a central failing of the West: that it lacks a sense of honor. As the social anthropologist Raphael Patai observed in his monumental The Arab Mind, in Arab culture, “cost what it may, one must defend one’s public image. Any injury done to a man’s honor must be revenged, or else he becomes permanently dishonored.”
Even though most Muslims today are not Arabs, Arab culture has a strong influence upon and large area of overlap with Muslim culture, for Muslims generally bear Arabic names, and are required to pray and read the Qur’an in Arabic, making for a strong Arabic coloring to Islamic religious observance in general. With regard to honor, the devout husband in France may have assumed that if he had not attacked the police officer, he would have stood dishonored for failing to respond to an affront to his family and his religion. Thus once the ticket was issued, the attack on the officer was virtually inevitable.
What’s more, once the policeman had dishonored the Muslim woman who was wearing a veil by giving her a ticket, and once her husband had been arrested for trying to strangle the police officer, the riots were also essentially inevitable. They, too, were a matter of honor. As Patai notes, “there is a strong correlation between honor and group survival. Honorable behavior is that which is conducive to group cohesion and group survival.” Intriguingly, Patai points out that “although Muhammad condemned `asabiyya [family or tribal spirit] as contrary to the spirit of Islam, this could not eliminate it from the consciousness of the Arabs. Ibn Khaldun, the great fourteenth-century theoretician of Arab history, even went so far as to uphold “`asabiyya as the fundamental bond of human society and the basic motivating force in history.”
According to Bilal Hito, who attends the same mosque Kaliebe has frequented in Bay Shore, Long Island, Kaliebe’s parents divorced when he was just three or four years old. A news report identified Kaliebe as hailing from “Babylon and Bay Shore, N.Y.,” suggesting a dreary home life shuttling back and forth between parents engaged in a polite cold war. And Hito said that the boy just wasn’t right: “There was something about Justin that made you feel you were around a little boy. Mentally he was very young. He was more like a kid brother.”
Kaliebe’s friend Ahmad Deib, who also knows Kaliebe from the Bay Shore mosque, vehemently dismissed the jihad terror charges against Kaliebe. “That, to me, is a bunch of garbage. This is a case of entrapment. This kid, he couldn’t hurt a fly. He is one of the most kindhearted kids you would ever know.”
As gentle and autistic, mentally young and kindhearted as he may be, Kaliebe certainly seemed to be fully aware of what he was trying to do. Undercover officers caught him pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda and jihad leaders: “I pledge my loyalty, allegiance and fidelity to the Mujahedeen of Al-Qaa’idah in the Arabian Peninsula and its leaders, Shaykh Abu Baseer Nasir Al-Wuhayshi and Shaykh Ayman Al-Zawahiri, hafidhahum Allah [may Allah protect them]! May Allah accept this from me and may he allow me to fight in his cause til the day that I leave this dunya [world].”
Planning a summer trip to London? So was I! But the British Home Office had other ideas, explaining in a kind letter to me that admitting me into the country would be “not conducive to the public good.”
So let’s say that the kids are nagging you to book that trip to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, but you just don’t have the money or the time, and are looking for that golden letter from British Home Secretary Theresa May, closing the door to perfidious Albion to you forever. It’s easy. All you have to do is do what I did: read a few books.
The Home Office’s letter to me explained that I was banned because I said that Islam “is a religion and is a belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society,” and that “because media and general government unwillingness to face the sources of Islamic terrorism these things remain largely unknown.”
These horrifying quotes were apparently taken from a documentary I appeared in about ten years ago, Islam: What the West Needs to Know. I said these things because I had read a few books; if you dare to read them as well, you, too, might end up banned from Britain yourself.
1. Towards Understanding the Qur’an (The Islamic Foundation, 2008).
This is a one-volume translation of the Qur’an by Zafar Ishaq Ansari, plus commentary by Sayyid Abul A‘la Mawdudi (also spelled Maududi). Mawdudi was a twentieth-century Islamic scholar and political leader in Pakistan. His influence is mainstream and international; he wrote a multivolume commentary on the Qur’an and numerous other works that can be found readily in Islamic bookstores in the U.S. and all over the West.
In this book he writes: “The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is not, as one might to think, to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather, its purpose is to put an end to the suzerainty of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over people. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the True Faith; unbelievers who do not follow this True Faith should live in a state of subordination. Anybody who becomes convinced of the Truth of Islam may accept the faith of his/her own volition. The unbelievers are required to pay jizyah (poll tax) in return for the security provided to them as the dhimmis (‘Protected People’) of an Islamic state. Jizyah symbolizes the submission of the unbelievers to the suzerainty of Islam.”
You could almost get the idea that Mawdudi thought that Islam was a religion and a belief system that “mandates warfare against unbelievers for the purpose for establishing a societal model that is absolutely incompatible with Western society,” as it would relegate non-Muslims to a second-class state of submission to the Muslims, paying a special tax and accepting other discriminatory regulations. Mawdudi had no trouble getting into Britain, but then again, he was a Muslim, and as I explained last week, you can talk about jihad violence in Britain, as long as you’re for it. So if you’re not a Muslim, get this book, and watch your mailbox for your ban letter.
When he learned that Pamela Geller and I had been banned from entering Great Britain, Roger Kimball wrote in a marvelous PJ Media piece titled “Free Speech Dies in UK” that what Geller and I do is “speak out against the intolerance of Islam,” and for that, we are not welcome in a country where recently a British soldier was “hacked to death by Muslim fanatics.” He summed up the situation in a single phrase: “the irony of the situation is rich.” And since then, it has gotten even richer than that.
Kimball succinctly summed up the Leftist mindset behind the ban:
Disagree with me and I’ll have you named an enemy of the state. Entertain views that conflict with the dominant left-wing narrative and I’ll see to it that you are branded a hate monger and are ostracized (or worse). Say or write something I don’t like and I’ll pretend you did something criminal: I’ll deliberately confuse the expression of opinion and criminal behavior so that the expression of opinion blends seamlessly into criminal behavior….Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer say and write things the timid, politically correct bureaucrats who run Britain don’t and they’re declared pariahs.
The British Home Office was kind enough to spell out which of my views and opinions were so unacceptable as to make it “not conducive to the public good” for me to enter the country. The Home Office’s letter stated that I said this:
… the Prophet Muhammad said that when the Muslims fight the Jews, each and every stone and tree will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him…
I have to admit that the Home Office has a point. After all, to suggest that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, whom Islamic scholar Karen Armstrong has likened to Gandhi, called for the genocide of the Jews – clearly such a thing would be morally abhorrent. Theresa May, the British Home secretary, almost certainly has been told again and again that Islam teaches tolerance of Jews and Christians as “People of the Book.” Saying that Muhammad told Muslims to kill Jews would be hateful! Islamophobic!