Who Deserves Our Sympathy: Embarrassed Muslims or Mutilated Muslims?

July 28, 2008

Recently, the president of the UN Human Rights Council placed a ban on religious debates in their council. As a result, a discussion about stoning women, marriages for girls as young as nine, FGM (female genital mutilation) and honor killings was stifled. All of these practices are based on Islamic law and/or are considered Islamic by those Muslims who practice them. So, in the case of Islam, stifling discussion about religion means stifling discussion about human rights violations.

According to a joint statement prepared by the Association for World Education and the International Humanist and Ethical Union for the UN, 96% of Egyptian women’s genitals are mutilated despite the fact the practice of FGM was outlawed in 1997. Yet the Egyptian UN delegate was only concerned about exposing the link between Islam and FGM, not about the plight of mutilated girls and women. It seems he cares more about protecting Muslims from embarrassment than he cares about protecting Muslims from mutilation.

Similarly, the Muslim delegates seemed to be more concerned about embarrassment than about the victims of honor killings, stonings, and child marriages.

If these issues were more broadly discussed, solutions may be found. This shows that stifling free speech which may offend “religious sensibilities” has real victims, in the form of mutilated and/or dead women, and married little girls. Is it more important to protect Muslims from being embarrassed, or to protect the real victims? Remember this question the next time you read about how important it is not to offend Muslims.


Notice What Does NOT Offend Muslims

July 8, 2008

The Amboy Times has posted a growing list of Things That Offend Muslims. Several of the items on this list have been protested quite visibly by many Muslims, in some cases including death threats, violence and even murder.

Thousands upon thousands of Muslims have protested a bunch of cartoons published in Denmark. Muslims worldwide have expressed their outrage, not only through peaceful protests, but also by burning down embassies and murdering innocent people.

More recently, the movie Fitna was produced by Geert Wilders, a Dutch PM. Again, thousands protested.

Now, let’s look at what does NOT offend Muslims….

If worldwide demonstrations, violence, and mayhem shows us what offends Muslims the most, then it is equally revealing to pay attention to the events that do not cause sufficient offense for Muslims to muster any noticeable protest at all:

  • Apostates Tortured, Killed: As we have noted, apostates of Islam may be threatened with death, even in the West. Recently, a Muslim man who converted to Christianity in Iran was arrested, tortured, and may yet be killed. Many other apostates have been killed, beaten, or threatened. Where’s the Muslim outrage over this travesty? Why are there no large, visible groups of Muslims fighting for the right of apostasy?
  • Religious Minorities Persecuted Throughout Muslim Lands: Christians, Jews, Bahais, Hindus, Buddhists and others are persecuted throughout the Muslim world. Why aren’t Muslims more offended by this than they are by a movie?
  • Women Treated as Second Class Citizens: In Pakistan, thousands of women in prison are rape victims. Honor killings, stoning of adulteresses, and FGM (female genital mutilation) plague the Muslim world. Saudi women can get into trouble for driving a car. Why no big demonstrations against this appalling treatment of women? Is this less of an offense than a cartoon?
  • Islam Linked to Militant Jihad by Muslims: Muslims are offended when non-Muslims discuss Islamic Jihad (which was one subject of the movie Fitna). However, there are Muslims who have linked militant Jihad to Islam, in modern times and throughout history, yet these Muslims who promote militant Jihad are never protested in a large way by other Muslims. A press release may be issued, but Muslims are not demonstrating in the streets over this. Why the double standard?
  • Mohammed’s Example Justifies Marital Sex with Nine-Year-Olds: According to a Saudi marriage official, a girl can be married at any age, even one year, so long as the marriage isn’t consummated until she is nine. This is based on authenticated Muslim Hadith (traditions) that Mohammed married Aisha, his favorite wife, when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. How is it possible that Muslims aren’t sufficiently offended by the Saudi’s comment to protest his words?
  • Jews Marked for Death Worldwide: According to Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad on Al-Aqsa TV, the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation.” This is not the only recent example of Muslims calling for a new Jewish holocaust. Why are Muslims not offended by these calls to genocide? Why is there no obvious sign of Muslim outrage over this?
  • OIC Moves to Quash Free Expression in the West: The OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) is making bold moves to stifle criticism of Islam through the UN. There is a plethora of other Muslim groups attempting to stifle free speech about Islam in the West. All Muslims who embrace free speech and free press must be terribly embarrassed about this. Where are the demonstrations?
  • Slavery Practiced by Muslims: Recently, UAE royals enslaved 17 women at a luxury hotel in Belgium. Slavery has never been entirely abolished in the Muslim world. Surely this would be enough to generate some Muslim outrage, but I have seen no mass demonstrations against those Muslims who continue this abhorrent practice.

It isn’t that no Muslims are offended by the above list. On the contrary, there are some examples of decent Muslims speaking out against abuses committed by Muslims, often in the name of Islam. To notice the lack of public demonstrations over the above list does not disparage the tremendous efforts of these brave individuals and small groups. However, the Muslim community as a whole does not seem sufficiently disturbed by the items on this list to protest them en masse. Why would some cartoons be more offensive than torturing and killing apostates? Why would a movie be more offensive than declarations of genocide? Where are the Muslims who would demonstrate in the streets for the right of apostasy, true equality for religious minorities in Muslim lands, equality for women, full renunciation of militant Jihad, marriage for adults only, respect for Jews, free expression, and a real abolition of slavery? Hello? Are you out there?


Would It Be Wrong to Reject a Muslim Presidential Candidate?

July 8, 2008

Many people believe Barack Obama is now or once was a Muslim. Setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether or not there’s any truth to those rumors, what if a Muslim did run for President? Would it be appropriate to elect a Muslim President of the United States at this moment in history? Various commentators have expressed dismay at the notion that a Muslim could be rejected for the office of President based on his religion. Recently, for example, Colbert King of the Washington Post wrote:

What will they [orators 150 years from now] say about our professed fidelity to religious freedom when they find out that many of the Americans who thank God for their religious liberty are also ready to turn their backs on a candidate if they think he is a Muslim or Mormon?

This clearly implies Mr. King believes that to turn our backs on a Muslim presidential candidate would be religious bigotry.

Let’s interject some common sense here. We have been attacked by Muslim Jihadists, and are in the midst of an ongoing conflict with Islamic Jihad. Even if there was no inherent conflict between certain Islamic doctrines and our Western values, this would not be an appropriate time to elect a Muslim to the Presidency. I have no objection to electing a Japanese-American as President at this time, but it would not have been appropriate to do so in the context of WWII. This is not bigotry, but simply acknowledgment of a basic principle: when an individual is a member of two groups, and there is a conflict between those groups, we cannot be completely certain where his loyalties lie. Maybe we can be certain enough to be the individual’s friend, but not certain enough to elect the individual President. The stakes are just too high.

In addition, a significant number of Muslims believe that Islam ultimately requires the removal of non-Muslims from power and implementation of Sharia law worldwide. There is considerable evidence that this agenda is being advanced by stealth. Sharia is in conflict with our Constitution, violating such principles as freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, equality under the law, and more. This conflict would need to be decisively resolved, such that Sharia would no longer be considered a valid source of law by mainstream Muslims, before it could be appropriate to elect a Muslim as President of this country.

Is Obama, in fact, a Muslim?

From the evidence I’ve seen, I think it’s virtually certain he was raised as a Muslim, at least for a period of time. Taking into account his Muslim background, there is also a small chance he remains a closet Muslim, as we can’t read his mind to find out what he really believes in his heart. For a Muslim to deceive non-Muslims (taqiyya) in certain circumstances gets the green light by Sharia law. For example, according to Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali as quoted in Reliance of the Traveller, a classic book of Islamic law, lying is permissible to reach a permissible goal that cannot be reached by telling the truth. If, for example, a Muslim believed that he would have to lie about his faith in order to be elected President, lying in this context would be permissible according to Ghazali.

Of course, just because lying can be justified in Islam does not mean that Obama is a closet Muslim. Not all Muslims practice taqiyya, and non-Muslims can also be dishonest. However, since it appears Obama has been dishonest about his Muslim upbringing, is it wise to trust his honesty regarding his current religious beliefs? And, given that there’s probably a small chance Obama is a closet Muslim, would it be responsible for us to risk it? That’s a judgment call each of us can make, but it certainly is a legitimate consideration that has nothing to do with bigotry, and everything to do with national security.