News & Politics

The New York Times’s Islamic Flimflam Man

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On February 18, in keeping with its apparent goal of remaining America’s most reliable source of pro-Islamic propaganda, the New York Times ran yet another op-ed by Mustafa Akyol, who seems to be replacing Tariq Ramadan (who is currently in jail awaiting trial for raping two women) not only as the Times’s house dissembler on Islam (since 2013, he has held the title of contributing opinion writer) but, more broadly, as the leading personification of “modern Islam” or “moderate Islam” in the West.

Last November, the Times published a piece by Akyol entitled “True Islam Does Not  Kill Blasphemers.” Anyone who has even a patchy awareness of Islam knows just how dishonest a claim this is; as Robert Spencer dryly observed at the time, “if Akyol denied the death penalty for blasphemy in any Sharia state, he could end up being executed for blasphemy himself.”

In keeping with his practice of blatantly lying about his faith and its adherents, Akyol’s latest Times piece was headlined “The Creeping Liberalism in American Islam.” It began as follows:

Since 9/11, a recurrent theme in the far-right circles of America has been “creeping Shariah.” It reflects the fear that Islamic law will silently spread through the land of freedom to ultimately overtake it — to put all women in burqas and all adulterers to death.

Implicit here is that such concerns are outrageous and that only an extremist – a member of the “far right” – would profess them. Never mind that as the number of Muslims in Western Europe has proliferated, so have burkas. Never mind that it’s a core tenet of Islam that adulterers – like blasphemers – must be put to death. Akyol continues:

In this scenario, American Muslims, who make up only 1 percent of the population, will pursue this grand scheme because they are here not for freedom and opportunity, but to form a fifth column in it, as Steve Bannon seriously claimed in 2016.

Akyol implies that one percent is a ridiculously paltry number and that this figure will remain at one percent. It wasn’t long ago that Muslims made up only one percent of Western Europe, too. Presumably, Akyol prefers not to acknowledge that, given the difference between infidel and Muslim birth rates and the much younger age at which Muslim females begin to reproduce (to say nothing of continued Muslim immigration), a tiny percentage can very quickly become a sizable one.

As for the idea of Muslims as a “fifth column” – an enemy within – Akyol goes on to describe this as “sordid fantasy” and “paranoia” and a “calumny about Islam.” So it’s “fantasy” to think that American Muslims might go the way of their European counterparts? So it’s “calumny” to tell the truth about Islamic belief and practice – about sharia law and the doctrines of jihadist conquest – and about the dark and dramatic ways in which Islam is transforming Europe?

But Akyol is just winding up for his big point. And here it is: conservative Muslim leaders in America today, he maintains, aren’t “cheering for any creeping Shariah”; instead, they “seem worried about a creeping liberalism within American Islam.” He cites a Muslim imam who frets that young American Muslims are challenging traditional Islamic norms and a Muslim academic who complains that American Muslim women are embracing “individual choice” and wearing “‘sexy’ versions of the hijab.”

Akyol would have you think all this is new and that it’s a sign of broad-based Muslim integration. Nonsense. This sort of thing has been going on in Europe for years. Muslim girls start dressing in ways their fathers or imams don’t like, or insist on staying in school or starting careers instead of submitting to an arranged marriage. Consequently they’re accused of being “Westernized.” Sometimes they end up the victims of honor killings; sometimes they eventually knuckle under; sometimes they break free. This doesn’t mean Western Islam as such is modernizing or liberalizing; it means some individuals, after being exposed to Western values and possibilities, are trying to liberate themselves from this primitive, evil cult.

Akyol notes that surprisingly high numbers of American Muslims tell pollsters they support same-sex marriage. I looked this one up. The poll in question was done by Pew Research Center. The question was: do you oppose or strongly oppose gay marriage? The responses were broken down by age. You might expect opposition to be highest among older people. On the contrary, only 7% of American Muslims over 65 say that they oppose same-sex marriage. The figure grows steadily as you move to younger and younger cohorts. 13% of Muslims aged 50 to 64, 35% of Muslims aged 30 to 49, and 45% of Muslims aged 18 to 20 say that they oppose same-sex marriage. In other words, younger Muslims – the Muslims who represent the future of American Islam – are less liberal-minded. No wonder Akyol deep-sixed this detail: it totally contradicts his thesis.

But do all those Muslims really accept same-sex marriage? Or are they practicing taqiyya– misrepresenting their views, as their faith encourages them to do, when it seems useful to do so? Who knows? I’m willing to believe that many American Muslims who aren’t really believers – but who keep this fact to themselves for fear of being killed for apostasy – are sincerely O.K. with same-sex marriage. But pious Muslims can’t possibly be, because their faith makes it quite clear that gay people should be executed.

As evidence of the blossoming liberalism of American Islam, Akyol adduces “the pro-L.G.B.T.Q. stance” of our two wonderful new Muslim congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. I don’t buy for a second that either of these vixens is gay-friendly. They’re part of the same unholy alliance between “progressives” and Muslims that dominates the left throughout Europe and that’s currently in the process of taking over the Democratic Party in the U.S. They and the other Muslims involved in this charade (Keith Ellison, etc.) aren’t liberals in any sense of the word – they’re neither classical liberals nor socialists. They’re hardline devotees of a brutal religion who, in the cause of advancing that religion, have entered into an entente, like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, that will endure only as long as it takes to win them and their allies greater power.

Akyol even tries to spin Omar’s outspoken anti-Semitism in such a way as to help make his point, accepting her ridiculous claim – after party leaders forced her to apologize – that she’d been unaware of“the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.” Pathetic. Imams around the world preach those tropes, and madrassas around the world spread them daily. Those tropes are at the center of their curricula. She’s a product of them. Omar hasn’t been educated out of her anti-Semitism; she’s only been educated out of expressing it so explicitly. Is that a positive development? No.

Akyol isn’t done with same-sex marriage. He introduces us to Jonathan Brown, “a convert to Islam and scholar of Islamic studies at Georgetown University,” who he says has worked out an Islamic way of accepting same-sex marriage – namely, “by making an analogy to traditional Muslim empires’ noninterference in what he called ‘incestuous Zoroastrian marriages.’” Ah, Jonathan Brown. In a tweet promoting his Times piece, Akyol thanked Brown. I wasn’t aware that Brown had come up with this Koranic loophole. What I am aware of is that not very long ago, Brown, director of Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (named for and funded by the Saudi royal who was arrested in November 2017 for money laundering, bribery, extortion, and other crimes), was defending the Islamic death penalty for gays.

That’s not all. In a 2017 lecture, “Islam and the Problem of Slavery,” Brown defended Islamic slavery, describing it as far more humane than slavery in the antebellum U.S. South, and even defended the rape of slaves by their masters, calling consent “a modern Western concept.” (During the subsequent Q & A, Brown insisted that it’s “not immoral for one human to own another human.”) In addition to his association with Prince Alwaleed, Brown is the son-in-law of Sami Al-Arian, a Florida professor who was deported in 2015 for aiding the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Akyol went on to quote with admiration Eboo Patel, whom he described as “an interfaith leader.”

Who is Patel? As Daniel Greenfield noted in 2016, he’s a man who has appeared at events held by the Islamic Society of North America (an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial for terrorism funding) and who “celebrated the election of Ingrid Mattson” (a defender of Sami Al-Arian) as head of that group. Aykol also approvingly cited Rashid Dar, “a thoughtfully committed Muslim academic.” Who’s he? He’s a guy who, while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, belonged to the Muslim Students Association (a Muslim Brotherhood front) and condemned an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at UW-M. In 2016 he hooked up with CAIR (another Muslim Brotherhood front) to promote the charge that he’d been punched on the street by an Islamophobe.

Like Akyol himself, these are duplicitous characters who, while posing as “moderates” or “progressives” or “bridge-builders,” have ties to ultra-orthodox Islam and terrorist groups. It’s no surprise that the Times, which has a history of celebrating such charlatans, should repeatedly give him prime op-ed space. Somewhat more surprising is that, apparently as of last year, Akyol is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

Now, I have several friends at Cato, some of whom I’ve known and respected for more than three decades. They’re no dummies. But in this case I think they’ve been hoodwinked. I suppose I can understand how it happened. Cato loves mass immigration. At its website you can read the following: “The overriding impact of immigrants is to strengthen and enrich American culture, increase the total output of the economy, and raise the standard of living of American citizens.” Fair enough. But even the folks at Cato have to be capable of recognizing that there are some immigrants who seek not to strengthen American culture but to destroy it. And they need to wake up to the fact that their new colleague, Mustafa Akyol, is nothing more or less than a slithery apologist for such immigrants – a systematic whitewasher of a religion whose core dogmas make it an existential threat to the very freedom for which Cato stands.