From Moses to Moses: Traversing two Maimonides Quotes on Muslims

From Moses to Moses: Traversing two Maimonides Quotes on Muslims

March 30 marks the birthday of Moses Maimonides. As such, it seemed to be a good time to discuss two of his quotes that have been used in discussions of Islam and Islamophobia in part due to the range of views that seem to be expressed in them by the same author.

Original Guest Post

By JustStoppingBy

Recently, Robert Spencer tried to make a distinction between Allah and God, arguing that “even though they may share a name, any examination of the particulars of Christian and Islamic theology reveals that the deities in question are quite different in character.”

Note that Spencer does not say that Christians and Muslims have “different views of the same deity” but discusses “the deities in question.” In doing this, he invites the reader to reach the conclusion that the “Muslim Allah” is not the same as the “Christian God.” Danios has already provided a thorough explanation on the use of the term Allah by Jews and Christians in pre-Islamic times. As Danios points out, a common Islamophobic response is to claim that Muslims appropriated the term Allah while referring to a different entity, perhaps a moon god, but not to the god that Jews and Christians worship.

To further create a distinction between Allah and the Christian God, Spencer has asked whether the hajj is an act of apostasy based on his claims that the rites involved in the hajj are of Hindu origin. Of course, it is widely accepted that polytheists made pilgrimages to Mecca and that the Ka’bah was a pagan shrine that contained idols before the advent of Islam, including a belief that pre-Islamic pilgrims to Mecca, “[w]ith all their polytheism and idolatry, they too used to circle the Ka’bah and kiss the Black Stone.” So, even if Spencer were right, that would not seem to be a particularly Earth-shattering revelation.

Since many who propound this “deities” theory won’t listen to Danios perhaps they will listen to some other views. We can start by moving a little away from the Christian-Muslim deity distinction that Spencer wants to draw and referring to a statement by perhaps the most renowned post-Biblical Jewish scholar, Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Rambam). In Responsa #448, Maimonides writes as follows (ellipses in Wikipedia, bolding added; alternate translation also available):

The Ishmaelites are not at all idolaters; [idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts; and they attribute to God a proper unity, a unity concerning which there is no doubt. And because they lie about us, and falsely attribute to us the statement that God has a son, is no reason for us to lie about them and say that they are idolaters … And should anyone say that the house that they honor [the Kaaba] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship,then what of it? The hearts of those who bow down toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven … [Regarding] the Ishmaelites today – idolatry has been severed from the mouths of all of them [including] women and children. Their error and foolishness is in other things which cannot be put into writing because of the renegades and wicked among Israel [i.e., apostates]. But as regards the unity of God they have no error at all.

Maimonides’ life covered various phases of Muslim-Jewish relations. Maimonides was born in Córdoba in 1135, at the tail end of the longest potential extent of the “Golden Age” of Spanish Jewry, which saw the blossoming of Jewish culture and the attainment by individual Jews of high positions in commercial and public life. As a result of the Arab political dominance, Maimonides knew Arabic, read many texts in Arabic, and composed many of his most famous works in Arabic and referred to God as Allah in his Arabic writing.

In 1148, Córdoba was conquered by the Almohads, an Berber-Muslim dynasty that revoked the dhimmi status of Jews. There is, no doubt, much debate about the quality of the life of a dhimmi, but scholars have noted that “in any historical case, these relatively abstract and general provisions of the dhimma could and did materialize as either a tolerant and even liberating arrangement, or at the other extreme, a culturally repressive policy within which religious freedom is a hollow formality.” (María Rosa Monocal, The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain,” p. 73. Garibaldi reviews the book here.) Life for Jews under the Almohads went from the previous tolerant and liberating arrangement to the other extreme, with the result that “[m]any Jews were forced to convert, but due to suspicion by the authorities of fake conversions, the new converts had to wear identifying clothing that set them apart and made them available to public scrutiny with many forced to convert or go into exile.” The point of this is not to dwell on history, but to put Maimonides’ responsa into context. It was written not by someone who had experienced only positive relations between Muslims and Jews, but who had also witnessed among the harshest of relations. And one should note that after fleeing Córdoba, Maimonides eventually again found himself in a place where he could establish good relations with Muslim authorities, becoming court physician to Saladin.

So, what does Maimonides have to say about how Muslims view God? Returning to the quote, we see that Maimonides says that “[idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts.” This, is in fact the same story told in Islam’s view of its own history: before Muhammad, the Ishmaelites (as Maimonides refers to them) in and around Mecca were idolaters. But, since the advent of Islam, “they attribute to God a proper unity.” The Islamic term for a “proper unity” istawhid, which, in essence, is not just a superficial form of “unity” but a “proper unity” that has an influence on Islamic philosophy and jurisprudence. It is also possible that Maimonides was even distinguishing between the “proper” Jewish and Muslim view of God’s unity and what he would consider the “improper” Christian view of a trinitarian unity. Nowhere does Maimonides even suggest that Muslims are worshiping some different deity or that they do not share the Jewish view of God’s character.

Maimonides further argues that “should anyone say … [the Kaba’a] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship, then what of it? The hearts of those who bow down toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven.” This can be read as a pre-rebuttal to arguments made by Robert Spencer about the Kaba’a and the hajj based on views, true or not, about their pre-Islamic origins. As Maimonides points out, if Muslims view Allah as the same god Jews view in Heaven and direct their prayers accordingly, pre-Islamic history does not affect their monotheism. Say what you want about any possible idol remnant in the Ka’bah or the etymology of the term Allah, it is clear that the “hearts of [Muslims] today are only toward Heaven.”

Now, why is Maimonides such an interesting person to quote from when countering Spencer’s Islamophobic rhetoric? For one thing, Spencer’s polemical partner Pamela Geller has also quoted from Maimonides, believing that it helps the position that she and Spencer take in general and in her fights about her ads about a choice “between the civilized man and the savage” in particular. Here is a quote she uses, from Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen:

Let Ye understand, my brothers, the Holy One Blessed HE through the trap created by our iniquities cast us amongst this nation, the people of Ishmael [Muslims] whose oppressiveness is firmly upon us and they connive to do us wrong and despicably downgrade us as the Almighty decreed against us (Deuteronomy 32:31, “Your enemies shall judge you”).

There never came against Israel a more antagonistic nation. They oppress us with the most oppressive measures to lessen our number, reduce us, and make us as despicable as they themselves are [Psalms 120:5].

Geller, misleadingly introduces this quote by saying that Maimonides “said this of Islam.” She further introduces the purely religious term Muslims in brackets where Maimonides referred to the “people of Ishmael,” a term that could have ethnic, political, and/or religious connotations.

On the religious aspect, while Maimonides did not accept Islam, it is clear from the earlier quote that he fully accepted that Muslims, or Ishmaelites, were monotheists whose hearts are directed only toward heaven in prayer. Instead, the conflict he describes is a political one, in particular with the Yemeni Shi’a of the time. Ultimately, “Maimonides interceded with Saladin in Egypt, and shortly thereafter the persecution came to an end.”

There are a few additional points worth noting in this quote from Maimonides. First, the reference to “the people of Ishmael” may sound like a form of generalization today, but no more so than the positive references to Ishmaelites in the first Maimonides quote or his reference to Jews as Israel in the second.

Second, unlike Geller, Maimonides does not attempt to create a picture in which one side is civilized and the other savage. Indeed, Maimonides describes Israel’s exile as a “trap created by our iniquities.” Traditionally, this referred to the “baseless hatred,” or the religious and political disputes, mistakes, violence, and venom that existed at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and the onset of the Exile. Thus, Maimonides’ approach was not to turn a political dispute or suffering persecution into a basis for misrepresenting the religious views of others. Nor did he argue that those of his religion were pure and those of another religion were not; rather, he pointed out sinful behavior in both. In Maimonides’ view, monotheism was a good quality, and, from the first quote, we see that he was able to acknowledge what he saw as the good in his political opponents rather than feeling the need to suppress any of those qualities or actions as if his entire position would fall apart if his political adversaries had any good side. In addition, when Maimonides corresponded with a community of Jews who were being persecuted by a Muslim majority, he made a point of noting that even the Jews who then felt persecuted should not ignore their group’s own history of hatred and violence, including political mistakes that were part of the reason for their exile.

While there are aspects to the two quotes from Maimonides that one can agree or disagree with, they do reflect an overall attitude that contrasts sharply with those of Spencer and Geller.

While Maimonides had political differences with various Muslim groups, he did not seek to mischaracterize their religion or their religious beliefs. For there can be no true peace with the Other without recognition of the truth of their beliefs and behavior and honest dialogue based on those truths, a sharp contrast to the insidious Spencer/Geller policy of no peace, no truthful recognition, and no honest dialogue. Compare Maimonides’ recognition of Islam’s positive monotheistic quality, even when he disagreed politically with Muslims, with Spencer, who has argued that “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim,” meaning that in his view, the only morally good Muslim is one who is not an Islamically good Muslim.

In terms of lessons for today, it may be helpful to see how Maimonides separated the political battles he faced from the opportunities to engage in religious prejudice against the beliefs of the Other. This did not mean that he refrained from political activity, as seen by his appeal to Saladin. But, neither did he refrain from standing up for the truth about another group’s religious beliefs. In viewing how Maimonides conducted these two fights, perhaps it can be said that the lesson is that we should fight our political battles as if there were no religious prejudice, and we should fight religious prejudice as if there were no political battles.

About that Muslims Harass Christian & Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help Story

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About that Muslims Harass Christian & Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help Story

by Sheila Musaji

This particular strategy of the Islamophobia network is getting tiresome.

Pamela Geller posted #MyJihad in Paris: Muslims Harass, Attack Christian and Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help in which she published an email she received from an anonymous “Atlas reader” in Paris.

We are supposed to take her word for it that this individual’s statement is true.  Geller, of course, will take the word of anyone who has anything negative to say about Islam and Muslims.

What is the story that Geller must share with the world?

An anonymous reader of her site asks Pamela to help her “tell the world about what is going on here so that people will fight these horrible pigs.”  [the “pigs” she refers to are Muslims.] In her story she complains about the French “socialist government”,  altercations with Muslim neighbors, and bizarre incidents that she is aware of (like Muslims forcing a Jewish child to eat pork or they would kill her parents).

This would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that there are individuals who do take Geller’s postings seriously.  This is the sort of incoherent story you get from people walking the streets and talking to themselves.

Not content with putting this story out on her site, Geller also tweeted it out using the #MyJihad hashtag, as part of her ongoing effort to undermine that positive effort by Muslims to take back the term from both Muslim extremists and Islamophobes.  And, her followers followed suit, tweeting and re-tweeting this “story” using the #MyJihad hashtag.

Interestingly, the two groups who share extremists views about Islam – the Muslim extremists and the Islamophobes - both attacked the campaign.  Geller & Spencer accused the #MyJihad campaign of inspiring a Chicago bus threat.  They also began churning out articles with the hashtag #MyJihad in their titles, and then tweeting the titles of those articles and encouraging others to re-tweet, in an attempt to take over the #MyJihad hashtag by overwhelming it with hateful messages.  Many of the articles they have come up with have been, even by their standards, disgraceful.  Here are just a few of these false hate pieces from the past few days:  (Don’t worry, the links take you to responses, not the original)  #MyJihad: Egyptian Cleric Warns Christian Women: If You Don’t Wear a Veil You’ll Be Raped - #MyJihad: Muslim cleric tells converts to bury their Christian parents as if they were dead dogs - #MyJihad in Serbia: Kosovo Muslims destroy Serbian Orthodox monastery.  In addition to these new lies, they are recycling many of their old lies in tweets including the hashtag, e.g. #MyJihad 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars - #MyJihad 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11, etc.   See the RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH ISLAMOPHOBIA SUMMARY section below for links to responses to many of these current and previous hateful claims.

Based on Geller’s past performance it is difficult to believe that any sane person could take her rantings seriously, but they do.  I prefer to save myself the trouble and just use the Pamela Geller:  Shrieking Harpy Rant Generator to get my dose of Geller “humor” for the day.

Why does this story sound so familiar?

Geller, and her partner Robert Spencer have proven hundreds of times that they have a Tenuous Grasp of the Concept of “Truth Telling”.

One of the many previous lies they spread was very similar to this current one.  In that case Geller posted an article titled “Hate Crime” which shared an email from a reader who had supposedly been harassed by Muslims in her neighborhood and was unable to get law enforcement or elected officials to do anything about it.

In that case, the writer calling herself “Danusha (Redacted) PhD” claimed a Muslim man accosted her and “impeded” her ability to walk down the street, and that Muslims regularly mock her, and one even hit her with his SUV.

When the article was originally posted it included this introduction to the email by Geller:  “The hypocrisy loooms [sic] large. Here’s a letter I thought I should share with you. I expect the gutless congressman who witnessed his Muslim constituents dancing on 9/11/01 will do nothing but hide beneath his desk. If this continues — auxiliary law enforcement will be necessary.”

Subsequently the original email from the “victim” was removed from Geller’s site, as was Geller’s lead in to the article, and replaced with an almost incoherent rant. In that rant, Geller claimed that ” I’ve removed the letter from this post because of threats to its author. The incredible evil that is standard operating procedure for those on the left led them to try to identify the author, and effectively target her for retribution. Thus I removed the letter. Imagine: this woman lives in fear every day, and the response to this violation of her basic human rights was an attempt to out her and put her life in jeopardy. That’s what we’re dealing with.” 

An article I wrote at the time exposing this nonsense, notes that according to Charles Johnson

… the individual who wrote this letter is Danusha Goska and he links to an email sent to a site called VDARE from this person in 2008.  That email complained about “Hispanic noise pollution” in her neighborhood.  In that email she included a copy of a letter that she had sent to her local mayor and claims that her complaints have gone unanswered.  The VDare site posts a note at the bottom of this post saying Goska, a teacher and Democrat, previously wrote to us about her experience with National Public Radio. with a link to this previous letter.

That link takes you to an email she sent which included an “essay” she had sent to NPR.  At the bottom of the “essay” is this:  Goska, a writer, teacher and Ph.D. from Indiana University does “manual labor to make ends meet.” She submitted this essay to NPR (e-mail) which rejected it.

Johnson also turned up a strange film review posted by a person named Danusha Goska.

In a simple google search I turned up a number of articles including this one - Islam and Terror: Some Thoughts after 9/11 by Danusha V. Goska, PhD.

She seems, like Geller to be focused on anti-Muslim rabble rousing.  Geller, rather than explain that she had been taken in by an email from a seemingly unstable person, instead pulled the email, and substituted a rant that still managed to make it seem as if the information contained in that original email was accurate.

This pattern of making outrageous claims based on no evidence at all, and then if caught out, attempting to conceal the evidence is a pattern.

Counter Ads: Jews and Christians Strike Back

Choose LoveCounter Ad: Rabbis for Human Rights, North America

Pamela Geller’s hate ads seem to have backfired. The latest round of  counter ads promoting love and tolerance are truly inspiring.

In addition to subway ads,  the progressive Christian group, Sojourners, is also sponsoring a billboard near the Toledo mosque that was the site of a recent arson attack. (H/T: Young & Free)

Pro-Muslim Subway Ads to Hang Near Anti-Jihad Ads

By ASHWAQ MASOODI, New York Times

Updated, 6:47 p.m. | Striking back against an anti-jihad advertisement in the subways widely perceived as anti-Muslim, two religious groups – one Jewish, one Christian – are taking out subway ads of their own to urge tolerance.

Rabbis for Human Rights – North America and the group Sojourners, led by the Christian author and social-justice advocate Jim Wallis, are unveiling their campaigns on Monday. Their ads will be placed near the anti-jihad ads in the same Manhattan subway stations, leaders of both groups said and transit officials confirmed. The groups said their campaigns were coincidental.

The ad by Rabbis for Human Rights turns the language of the earlier ad, placed by a pro-Israel group, on its head. The original ad says, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.” The ad by Rabbis for Human Rights says, “In the choice between love and hate, choose love. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.”

“We wanted to make it clear that it is in response to the anti-Islam ad,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, whose members include rabbis from all streams of Judaism.

The Sojourners ad simply says, “Love your Muslim neighbors.”

Another Christian group, United Methodist Women, an affiliate of the United Methodist Church, has placed similar ads in the same 10 Manhattan stations where the anti-jihad appears. The ads, which went up on Wednesday, say, “Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed.”

One of the Methodist group’s ads, in Times Square station, is posted right next to one of the anti-jihad ads.

The anti-jihad ads, placed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative in 10 Manhattan stations, went up only after the group successfully sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which wanted to ban them. They were posted late last month – in the wake, as it happened, of violent protests that had erupted in many parts of the Muslim world over an American-produced video ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, and one of them was immediately defaced. They have been defaced at least 15 times since then, said Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the authority.

Last week, the authority changed its advertising rules to ban ads that could “imminently incite or provoke violence or other immediate breach of the peace.”

Mr. Donovan said the new ads “are accepted and conform with our guidelines,” adding, “The M.T.A. doesn’t endorse any of the ads we carry.”

The executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new ads.

 A new subway ad by United Methodist Women is also a response to the anti-jihad ad.

Rabbi Jacobs said: “Geller thinks she is speaking for the entire Jewish community. We are a group of 1,800 rabbis and we want everyone to know that we have to work in partnership with the Muslim community and do not believe in dehumanizing them.”

Sojourners’ campaigns manager, the Rev. Beau Underwood, said, “An essential tenet of Christianity is to love our neighbors.” He added: “In the face of religious extremism, the best response is to treat others like we would want to be treated. Our ad campaign has a simple message that is at the heart of our faith.”

Sojourners, together with some local interfaith communities, recently put up “Love your Muslim neighbors” billboards in Joplin, Mo., where a mosque was burned in August.

Sojourners solicitation for donations says: “Hateful anti-Muslim ads only result in violence, hatred, and more fear. Everyone — regardless of race, religion, or creed — deserves to feel welcome & safe when riding public transit in the United States.”

Muslims Stoning Christians in Michigan? Not quite…

Sensational, misleading headlines are a favorite tactic in the looniverse, and the notion Arabs in Michigan are “stoning” Christians is bound to attract attention.

Drama aside, there were some young people hurling water bottles and pop cans at some  ”protesters” who were clearly their to provoke a reaction. Even some of the articles on the right wing site, The Blaze, leaned toward more honest reporting:

SCREAMING ANTI-ISLAM PROTESTERS TAUNT MUSLIMS WITH PIG’S HEAD: ‘YOU’RE GOING TO MELT IN THE FIRES OF HELL!’

If you‘re looking to spread God’s love, it’s probably not a good idea to show up to the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, with a pig‘s head on a stick and signs telling Muslims that they’re poised to burn in hell. Yet this is exactly what happened over the weekend when some Christians from an anti-Islam group showed up at the event and confronted Muslim adherents with some unwelcome messages.

One of the protesters yelled, “You’re going to burn in hell,” among other sentiments. The signs the individuals held were less-than-covert in their messaging as well. One read, “Islam is a religion of blood and murder” and another said “Muhammad is a…liar, false prophet, murder, child molesting pervert.” Clearly, those in attendance weren’t there to play nice.

Among the most tense moments during the Friday showdown occurred when some of the Arab Americans present at the conference began throwing water bottles and pop cans. Some of the attendees chanted “Allah-U-Akbar,” which translates to “God is the greatest.” The Christians responded with, “Jesus Akbar.” Most of the protesters who engaged in this debate were from an anti-Islam group called “Bible Believers.”

In the video, below, a man — purportedly part of the group — can be heard yelling, “You’re going to go straight to hell you little dirtbag, wicked heathen.” Then, he continued screaming at the the Arab attendees, claiming that they have “a religion of hate” and that God is going to “melt” them “one day in hell” (at another point he says, “You’re going to melt in the fires of hell forever!”).

Alan Noble sheds light on how the events were manipulated, and demonstrates once again that many stories that go viral in the looniverse can’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny. (H/T: CriticalDragon1177)

Muslims Stoning Christians in Michigan? Not quite…

by Alan Noble, Christ and Pop Culture

Earlier this year I wrote a excruciatingly detailed feature article describing how Wretched TV had deceptively edited footage of some Christian streetpreachers at the Arabfest in Dearborn Michigan in order to portray the Muslims in attendance as violent, bloodthirsty foreigners. I pointed out that the “Christian” preachers were led by Ruban Israel, a notorious street preacher (who was and is not supported by or connected to Wretched TV) who went to the festival specifically to agitate and incite the Muslims. If you look at unedited footage of the event, it’s clear that the “Christians” were inciting Muslims to hate, which, of course, never justifies violence, but it does explain why it happens.

I bring this up because it’s happened again. Ruben Israel returned this year to the Arab Festival and once again incited the festival goers to scream and yell and throw trash. Although Wretched TV did not report the story this year, it was picked up by The BlazeAmerican Vision, American ThinkerFrontPage Magazine, and other, smaller conservative websites.

Each of these reports has included and cited a YouTube video edited by The United West, a group “dedicated to defending and advancing Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam.” Good journalism would demand that these sites check their source and consider possible biases, but, for whatever reason, these conservative news sites report on the event as if it the video was an accurate representation of what occurred. But it was not. Not at all. Here’s United West’s video:

I wish I had the time and energy to point out every deceptive edit in this video and all the manipulative ways in which this event was reported on, but I don’t. So here’s a short list, and if you’re interested in seeing more, watch the unedited, hour long YouTube video of the incident. Watch carefully. It looks a lot different if you’re paying attention.

1. The United West video (See here) and many of the reports on this incident either claim or insinuate that the police did nothing to stop the kids from throwing trash at Ruben and his friends.

However, in the unedited video, you can see the police interviene oncetwice (note the police dragging a kid off at this point–something none of the articles mention), thricefourse [sic] (note that this appears to be another arrest or citation? Again, never mentioned in any of the reports I listed), and I’m not going to bother looking for more examples.

Bottom line: the video lies/misrepresents the truth and each of these reports, either in ignorance (in which case they are examples of bad journalism) or knowingly repeats this lie or fails to challenge it (in the case of The Blaze).

2. Muslim adults repeatedly work to calm down and stop the kids from yelling and throwing trash. In fact, one, apparently, Muslim man stands in front of the Christians, protecting them from the angry crowd. Does this mean Islam is a religion of peace? Nope, it just means that this man (as well as many others in the video) wanted to prevent violence from happening. Does the fact that the “mob” of kids threw trash and possibly a piece of concrete mean that Islam is a religion of violence? Nope, it just means that some kids got offended and angry.

If we want to discuss whether or not Islam is inherently violent, we need to look for evidence elsewhere.

3. The video edits out the part where Ruben Israel explains to a police officer that they have a pig head on a pole because Muslims are “petrified” of pigs and so it “keeps them at bay.” No really. He says that. Can you understand now why a group of Arab kids might feel threatened by these predominately white, Christians coming to their cultural festival to shout at them that they are going to hell and that their religion is a lie? Get a bunch of kids together, mock their beliefs, try to ward them away with a pig head on a stick, yell at them, and no matter what religion they are, don’t be surprised if they start throwing trash. That doesn’t in any way justify their action, but it does explain it.

4. As you watch the video it is clear that the police helped protect the Christians when they could. Could they have done a better job? Perhaps. It’s not clear from the video how many people were in attendance (I believe it was around 100k) or how many officers were available to help out. But it is clear that those officers did in fact intervene and protect the Christians several times.

5. It is also clear that this group of Christians was almost entirely focused on angering these Muslims, forcing the police to protect them after they had incited violence, and complaining over and over again about their rights and how they were being persecuted. What on earth does this have to do with lovingly sharing the Gospel to lost people? How is a preoccupation with asserting your rights honoring to God?

6. In United West’s edited video (which has over 440,000 views in three days), they show a clip of an adult Muslim telling the kids to either jump the Christians or leave. What they cut out are the shots of this same man pushing kids away from the Christians, trying to disperse the crowdmultiple times. By cutting these shots out, United West has given the impression that this adult was egging the kids on to violence; when in actuality, he seems to have been calling their bluff and trying to get them to realize how foolish they had been acting….

Read the rest here >>

Spencer Proven Wrong by Muslim-Christian Unity in Egypt

Spencer wasn’t expecting (or hoping) for this:

In contradistinction to the vapid antagonizers who wish to see a religious war between Muslims and Christians there are those souls who are willing to stand up for religious freedom — and thankfully they are an overwhelming majority!

Christians Persecuted in India, Robert Spencer Silent

India is branded as the largest democracy in the world and it is a growing world power, however unfortunately it at times suffers from chronic sectarianism that explodes into all out violence in the form of riots, pogroms and discrimination. For the past few years there has been extensive violence against the Christian communities in certain regions of India, specifically Orissa.

Recently, Robert Spencer and fellow Islamophobes have been focusing on the mistreatment of Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim countries but they have been precariously silent on the condition of Indian Christians.

Hindu mob storms Orthodox school

A group of rightwing Hindu activists yesterday attacked an Orthodox school in a central Indian town in protest at disciplinary actions against three students, witnesses say.

The group forced their way into the visitors’ room of St. Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and shouted anti-Christian slogans, ucanews.com reports.

They then smashed a picture of the Blessed Virgin in the visitors’ room state before staff prevented them from further action.

Another group of nearly 50 young people later went to the school and threatened the staff.

School principal Father K. J. Louis said the troublemakers had been angered by the school for punishing three students for indiscipline.

The police were called and are now being asked to offer protection to the school, the principal told ucanews.com today.

The principal said the school acted against the students after getting their parents’ consent. They had been suspended them for 10 days in November after they were caught setting off firecrackers in the school premises.

Catholic Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur condemned the incident, which he said was part of an ongoing hate campaign against Christians in the state.

The protests are suspected members of the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people’s party) which rules Madhya Pradesh.

Christians and their institutions in the state have witnessed several incidents of violence after the BJP came to power seven years ago.

Since then, more than 180 cases of attacks on Christians have been reported from the state.

The school has started 25 years ago and has some 2,500 students.

SOURCE

Hindu mob storms Orthodox school (ucanews.com)

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

by Inconnu and Danios

A few months ago, Islam “experts” Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller hosted on their respective websites a video of a young Hindu girl who advocated “wiping Pakistan off the map.”  At that time, LoonWatch had quickly responded and exposed the genocidal content expressed in the video.  It has now come to our attention (hat tip: Jack) that in addition to the genocidal content, the makers of the video are of interest.  The video was shot and released by the Vishaw Hindu Parishad (VHP), a militant and genocidal group.

This extremist Hindu nationalist party seeks to “Hinduize” India.  They view India as a Hindu country, and the Muslim and Christian minorities in it as invaders, or at least those descended from invaders.  The Islamophobes like Spencer and Geller sympathize with Hindus who revile Muslims for the Arab conquest of India, but conveniently forget the British colonization of India.  Both occupations resulted in sizable Muslim and Christian minorities respectively.  Many Hindu Indians want their country to be a pluralistic and democratic state, comprised of people of various faiths all equally Indian.  The VHP, on the other hand, doesn’t want this.

Human Rights Watch says that the VHP has “collectively and violently promoted the argument that, because Hindus constitute the majority of Indians, India should be a Hindu state.”  VHP members want to enact a fundamentalist Hindu interpretation of religious law in the country, and want to “cleanse” the country of the influence of the Muslim and Christian “invaders”.  The VHP’s view of Muslim and Christian Indians as “invaders” causes the group to flirt with genocidal ideas.

Those genocidal ideas became more than just ideas in 2002, when VHP members orchestrated the Gujarat riots, which Human Rights Watch refers to as an “anti-Muslim  pogrom” and which Professor Allan D. Cooper calls a “genocide” of Gujarati Muslims.  Prof. Cooper includes the Gujarat massacre in his book The Geography of Genocide, in which he provides a “case series” of historical genocides.  On pp.183-184 of his book, Cooper writes (emphasis is ours):

A Hindu mob stormed the Muslim area of Naroda Patia in Ahmedabad…killing at least 65 people…More attacks on Muslims in Gujarat state followed that killed about 2,500, destroyed thousands of homes, and resulted in the gang rapes of hundreds of Muslim women and girls.

There is evidence of state complicity in the genocide against Muslims…The government had ordered the killing of Muslims.

More than 20 Hindus eventually were sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in the genocide.

Human Rights Watch issued a report, declaring:

The groups most responsible for the anti-Muslim violence include the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), the Bajrang Dal (the militant youth wing of the VHP), and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS).  Collectively they form the sangh parivar (or “family” of Hindu nationalist groups).

The VHP was founded by RSS and maintains links, so all three groups implicated by Human Rights Watch are related to VHP.  The VHP has a “militant youth wing” that has inflicted violence upon Muslims and Christians throughout the country.  Following the Gujarat riots, the VHP promised similar developments throughout India.  Human Rights Watch writes:

…VHP officials declared that the strategy used in Gujarat would be repeated all over India, thus raising concerns of further communal violence…Members of the VHP in Rajasthan are busy distributing weapons similar to those used in Gujarat, as well as literature depicting Muslims as sexual deviants and terrorists…

The violence in Gujarat underscores the volatile consequences of rising Hindu nationalist sentiment propagated by the sangh parivar…The arming of civilians continues unabated in the state.  Training camps, known as shakhas, continue to multiply, providing weapons such as tridents and swords and extensive physical and ideological training to men as well as young boys targeted in recruitment drives.

So far, there is nothing that would upset Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller too much.  After all, the violence is only against “Moozlems.” But perhaps they ought to read the following line in the same Human Rights Watch’s report:

Christians in the state have also come under renewed legislative and physical attack [by the VHP].

The VHP has been responsible for widespread communal violence not just against Muslims, but against Christians.  HRW’s report holds the VHP responsible not only for “nationwide violence against India’s Muslim community in 1992 and 1993″ but also for “nationwide violence…against Indian’s Christian community since 1998…stemming in large part from violent activities and hate propaganda.”

In 2008, the All India Christian Council issued a fact finding report after anti-Christian attacks. The report states:

The VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) instigated the attacks and carefully targeted Christians throughout Kandhamal District, Orissa.

The report states that 95 churches were burnt and destroyed, and 730 houses were set on fire and completely destroyed (415 of them in one village alone). Not only this, the attackers looted the gold, cash, and jewelry from the homes of villagers.  The Guardian reports that overall thousands of churches and houses have been burned down to the ground.

According to the report by the All India Christian Council, the VHP attackers used several hate-filled slogans, including:

Only Hindus to stay here – no Christians to stay here

Kill Christians

Just to give one example from the report:

There was a small church that was attacked. The pastor, Rev. Kalia Mani Digal, and 12 Christians were forcibly taken to a field and were tonsured (heads shaved) because they refused to deny their Christian faith. Later all of them were told to eat raw rice mixed with goat blood in order to become Hindus.

The report also states that there was a conspiracy to hide the bodies of the dead Christians to conceal the evidence of deaths in the Christian communities.

On their website, the VHP addresses some of the allegations of violence against Christians. Their answers are eye-opening:

There has been violence against Christians in Gujarat. What are the reasons for it?

Much of this violence has been due to the provocation by the Christians…Unless the provocation is removed, the violence will continue.

In fact, a simple glance at their website finds that they dedicate more of their vitriol against Christians than Muslims. The VHP has a particular problem with Christian missionaries who operate in India, whom they accuse of “tricking” Hindus into converting to Christianity…which was the “provocation”.  On its website, the VHP says:

…A convert from Hinduism is not only one Hindu less, but an enemy more.

Not only this, they claim that Christian missionaries undertake social services in order to convert Hindus to Christianity:

The objective of the social service is to get an access to the people who are targeted for conversion. Once the missionaries come close the people, and the latter become obligated to them, the ‘benefits’ of believing in Christ is explained to them. This is done not on the basis that there is any special merit in the new system, but because Christ is supposed to have told them that praying to any other god will make them go to hell.

This social service is of many forms – education, medical facilities, etc. In the past these services were concentrated in urban or rural areas. During the colonial times, these services were financed mostly by the taxes that were levied on the local people. In many cases, land and facilities belonging to Hindu organisations were appropriated and given to the missionary organisations. Also, Hindu organisations were discouraged from starting social service projects.

Hence, the social service was done by utilising the money of the people who are Hindus. Even today,many of the established social service activity is funded by the state. For example, all the colleges, whether run by the missionaries or the Hindus, get state aid. Many of the other projects also receive government support through grants being given to those registered as NGOs. The funds received from outside India are then used for setting up the organisation for conversions.

Moreover, the VHP even claims that Christians use “inducements and fraud” to convert people:

With conversions by force not being possible, the methods that are applied are inducements and fraud. Inducements are the so-called social service activities, and these have been documented by the Niyogi Committee. In most cases, the social service benefits was provided only to those who agreed to convert. A loan given to a tribal is cancelled if he, along with his family, becomes a Christian. While the commission dealt with Madhya Pradesh only, the practices that have been narrated are the ones that are a common practice all over India, and indeed in the rest of the world.

The fraud that is done is to pretend that a person has become well because of the ‘power’ of Christ. While treating an illness, a missionary gives medicine of no value and asks the tribal to take it while offering prayers to his present deity. Of course, there is no cure. Next, the missionary gives real medicine and asks the tribal to take it while offering prayers to Christ. The recovery is attributed to Christ and not to the medicine.

Fraud also takes place when there are programmes of what are called faith healing. ‘Lame’ people are said to be cured, and ‘blind’ recover their sight. These ‘miracles’ are used to establish the superiority of Christ.

In fact, they are so against Hindus converting to Christianity that the VHP has organized mass conversions back to Hinduism (most of them are forced conversions as we shall see later):

More than 200 Christians in the eastern Indian state of Orissa have reconverted to Hinduism on Thursday in the presence of the leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

They were reconverted at a Hindu temple in Jharsuguda in western Orissa where the tribal Christians were first purified by rituals and then re-admitted into Hinduism.

Representatives from the hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) were also present.

The ceremony was part of the VHP’s plan to reconvert 400,000 tribal Christians back to Hinduism.

On their website, the VHP has delineated a set of principles, their “Hindu Agenda.” They call for a ban on conversion from Hinduism to Christianity, declaring:

Strict ban should be imposed on the nationally dangerous process of conversion of Hindus through allurements, mispropaganda and terror by taking disadvantage of the poverty and gullibility of the backward segments of Bharatiya community.

The ban applies to any conversion based on “mispropaganda”, and the VHP classifies missionary teaching as such, thereby effectively prohibiting virtually all conversions.

Why the silence from Spencer, the resident “Islam expert,” on this lack of religious freedom? Why has he not spoken out against the resistance of the VHP to conversions from Hinduism to Christianity?  As we see, it is not only Muslim fundamentalists who kill apostates; Hindu extremists do it too.  Hundreds of Christians have been forcibly converted to Hinduism, whereas we have not heard of any forced mass conversions in the Muslim majority world today.

Islamophobes like Spencer and Geller like to rant about how many extremist Muslims there are in the world.  Well, there are 6.8 million members of the VHP alone, not to speak of the other extremist Hindu nationalist groups.  The Guardian reports:

Convert or we will kill you, Hindu lynch mobs tell fleeing Christians

Hundreds of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa have been forced to renounce their religion and become Hindus after lynch mobs issued them with a stark ultimatum: convert or die.

The wave of forced conversions marks a dramatic escalation in a two-month orgy of sectarian violence which has left at least 59 people dead, 50,000 homeless and thousands of houses and churches burnt to the ground. As neighbour has turned on neighbour, thousands more Christians have sought sanctuary in refugee camps, unable to return to the wreckage of their homes unless they, too, agree to abandon their faith.

Last week, in the worst-affected Kandhamal district, The Observer encountered compelling evidence of the scale of the violence employed in a conversion programme apparently sanctioned by members of one of the most powerful Hindu groups in India, the 6.8-million member Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) – the World Hindu Council.

Standing in the ashes of her neighbour’s house in the village of Sarangagada, Jaspina Naik, 32, spoke nervously, glancing towards a group of Hindu men watching her suspiciously. ‘My neighbours said, “If you go on being Christians, we will burn your houses and your children in front of you, so make up your minds quickly”,’ she said. ‘I was scared. Christians have no place in this area now.’

On her forehead, she wore a gash of vermilion denoting a married Hindu woman, placed there by the priest at the conversion ceremony she had been obliged to attend a day earlier, along with her husband and three young children. ‘I’m totally broken,’ she said. ‘I have always been a Christian. Inside I am still praying for Jesus to give me peace and to take me out of this situation.’

She and her neighbour, Kumari Naik, 35, gazed forlornly at the charred remains of the house. The mob that arrived one evening in the first week of the violence, armed with swords and axes, had looted what they wanted before dousing the building with petrol and setting it alight. Kumari had fled into the nearby forest with her husband, Umesh, and 14-year-old son Santosh. A smoke-damaged child’s drawing of Mickey Mouse pinned to one wall was all that remained of their former lives. Shattered roof tiles crunched underfoot as the women moved through the blackened rooms.

The priest had given them cow dung to eat during the ceremony, they said, telling them it would purify them. ‘We were doing that, but we were crying,’ Jaspina said…

Christian leaders, though, have accused the authorities of dragging their feet, claiming they are reluctant to antagonise the majority Hindu community in the run-up to parliamentary elections next year.

Relations between the Hindu and Christian communities were already at a low ebb when the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on 23 August provided the trigger for the current wave of violence. The VHP blamed Christians and the mobs descended on the homes of neighbours and friends. Those who were too slow to get away were killed. Amid the savagery, two incidents stood out: a young Hindu woman working in a Christian orphanage was burnt alive and a nun was gang-raped.

Yet the VHP is unrepentant and appears to be involved, at least at grassroots level, with the campaign of forced conversions. One priest who converted 18 Christians in the village of Sankarakhole last week told The Observer that he had been approached by local VHP representatives to carry out the ceremony.

‘The VHP people came with letters that said they wanted to be converted, so I converted them,’ said Preti Singh Patra, who is the brother of a senior VHP official…

It is a landscape scarred by the ugly remains of homes and churches which lie shattered between other houses still inhabited and unscathed, those belonging to Kandhamal’s Hindus.

A few miles down the road from Sankarakhole, in the village of Minia, Sujata Digal, 38, stood outside her own burnt-out home. The mob had arrived at 3am, she said. She and her husband Hari hid in the forest and watched the house burn. When they came out of the forest, the mob returned and told them to convert, and it was not a hard decision.

‘They said, ‘If you don’t become Hindu, we’ll burn your houses too and start killing you’,’ said Ashish Digal, the former Christian pastor. ‘I’ve been forced to convert. Everyone is being converted. They beat us in the fields. I went to the temple. We had to say that we belonged to the Hindu state of Orissa, and that from this day we are Hindus.’

Before the violence started, Christians outnumbered Hindus in Minia: now 115 have converted, roughly half of their original number. The rest have fled.

Burn your Bibles, the men told Ashish Digal…

In fact, the VHP offered cash rewards for Hindus who would kill Christians…a pastor’s head is worth $250 a pop. The Times reports:

Hindu extremists’ reward to kill Christians…

Extremist Hindu groups offered money, food and alcohol to mobs to kill Christians and destroy their homes, according to Christian aid workers in the eastern state of Orissa…

The US-based head of a Christian organisation that runs several orphanages in Orissa – one of India’s poorest regions – claims that Christian leaders are being targeted by Hindu militants and carry a price on their heads. “The going price to kill a pastor is $250 (£170),” Faiz Rahman, the chairman of Good News India, said.

A spokesman for the All-India Christian Council said: “People are being offered rewards to kill, and to destroy churches and Christian properties. They are being offered foreign liquor, chicken, mutton and weapons. They are given petrol and kerosene.”…

Orissa has suffered a series of murders and arson attacks in recent months, with at least 67 Christians killed, according to the Roman Catholic Church. Several thousand homes have been razed and hundreds of places of worship destroyed, and crops are now wasting in the fields.

Burning Bibles and giving money to kill apostates?  Imagine how Robert Spencer et al. would smear all of Islam if this were Muslims doing this.  He would make it seem as if Muslims are the only ones who have their share of wackos.  Remember how Spencer always points to Muslim fundamentalists who want to kill those who insult their prophet?  Well, how about this here, straight from the Hindu Agenda:

Insulting any religion and Hindu culture, faith, convictions, traditions and reverential characters through the electronic media and print media would be treated as an offence and it would be enforced strictly.

The penalty?  Death.  In fact, you don’t need to insult the Hindu religion to be killed by these fundamentalists.  Eating a hamburger will do the trick.  The Hindu Agenda declares:

Killing of any animal including cow at any stage within the borders of Bharat should be declared as a stringently punishable crime by passing a strong and competent law for the purpose.

What is that “stringent” punishment?  Death by lynching.  Dhananjay Tripathi of the Indian news agency Meri News reports:

The Hindu fundamentalists always defend themselves and their acts by coining terms like ‘minority appeasement’, ‘Hindu rights’ and claim to be the real sons of the soil. The real sons of the soil have license to burn down churches, bring down mosques and kill Muslims, Dalits and Christians anywhere in the nation. The hooligans and lumpen activists belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are involved in most of the atrocities perpetrated on the minorities and Dalits. VHP has a history of spreading venom and inciting mass violence.

In 2002, the VHP lynched five Dalits in Haryana for following their traditional trade of leather-tanning, as revealed by a dead cow in their possession. Over a carcass, the VHP killed innocent Dalit youths in Jhajhhar. VHP shamelessly defended this heinous crime when their leaders, Griraj Kishore said, “according to our shastras, the life of a cow is very precious (shastron ke hisab se gau ka jeevan bahut moolya hai)”. This statement makes it clear that for VHP, human life has no meaning.

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller lose their minds when a Muslim man serves halal food in his own diner, yet don’t blink twice when the VHP (a group whose video they promote on their websites) calls for all citizens–regardless of religion–to follow Hindu dietary restrictions, demanding everyone to become vegetarian or be killed.

Spencer is constantly clamoring about how Islam itself does not allow conversion out of the faith (a very dubious claim at best). Yet, when there is clear evidence that the VHP’s interpretation of Hinduism is actively killing Hindus who don’t “convert back”, Spencer doesn’t seem to care. Are these Indian Christians not “Christian enough” for Spencer?  Or are they simply expendable in his polemical war against Islam?

What does Spencer have to say about this? Nothing. In fact, his silence is deafening. That’s because the people who are terrorizing Christians are not Muslims. So, he could care less. Not only that, he is cheering on this young Hindu girl associated with the VHP because she threatened to wipe Pakistan off the map. It doesn’t matter to him that in the same breath she threatens Christians as well.  Or that she belongs to a genocidal group that wants to efface Christianity from India.

The VHP not only preaches hatred against Muslims and Christians, but wants to institutionalize it.  Human Rights Watch writes:

Their revivalist campaign includes the “Hinduization” of education, including the revision of history books to include hate propaganda against Islamic and Christian communities.

Hate propaganda?  Maybe they can use Spencer’s Jihad Watch website and Geller’s Atlas Shrugs site to find inspiration for half of that equation.

The hate propaganda promoted by the VHP resulted in pogroms against both Muslims and Christians.  Spencer and Geller reproduced it on their sites, and the video blended in completely with the rest of the rhetoric on their sites.  This is why we here at LoonWatch stress the dangerous nature of their hate-filled discourse.  It results in ethnic violence, death and destruction.  The only difference between the VHP’s hate propaganda and Spencer et al.’s is the fact that the former targets Muslims and Christians whereas the latter only targets Muslims.  That’s it.

Spencer and Geller are using the same language as that of a genocidal group.  They might try to deny it now and argue that they didn’t know what group the video they posted belonged to.  That’s not a viable excuse for them, however, since the video itself explicitly mentions genocidal ideas in it.  The brainwashed girl in the VHP video declares:

…Soon our whole nation [of Hindustan] will rise.  When our people rise up, it will be very difficult for you [Pakistanis].  It will be disastrous for every inch of your land…Kashmir will continue to exist, but not Pakistan.  Who [amongst you] will voice such concerns?  Who will show the braveness to use the atom bombs we have [against Pakistan]?  Ask them [the Indian government] who is going to use the [atomic] weapons we have?  Whom are they waiting for?  Don’t worry what is happening now.  History is where it is. We have the capacity to change the geography of the world [by wiping out Pakistan]…everything between [the Pakistani cities of] Karachi to Rawalpindi will become worthless…There won’t be any Pakistan!  If you continue to believe this, I assure you that Pakistan won’t be present in the world for long.

To this genocidal talk, Robert Spencer remarked: “The girl is right.” Pamela Geller exclaimed in glee: “Perhaps with an online Colb. (collaboration) we can run her for president in ‘16. She gets it.”

So Spencer and Geller explicitly supported genocidal remarks.  Their only “mistake” was inadvertently promoting a video that belonged to a group that also had such ideas about Christians, not just Muslims.

This is of course not the first time that Spencer and Geller have flirted with genocide.  In fact, Spencer had joined a genocidal Facebook group, one which advocated the complete eradication of 150 million Muslims in Turkey.  Geller, meanwhile, explicitly supports the genocidal ideas of the Hindu extremist girl, and argues that Israel should nuke Mecca, Medina, and Tehran.

To conclude:

1. Muslims are not the only ones with zealots  There are Hindu extremists such as the ones we discussed above, Christian extremists who kill hundreds of children suspected of being witches, Jewish extremists who burn mosques and call for the killing of Gentiles and their babies, and of course Islamic extremists.  They exist in every religion, and it’s wrong to demonize any one of them.  (For the record, this article is not meant to denigrate Hinduism or Indians; the Hindu extremists above do not represent the entire faith or country.  In fact, many Hindu Indians want to live in a pluralistic and democratic state.)

2. Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller are completely discredited and vitriolic hate-mongers, who flirt with genocidal ideas. (Yes, I’m being Captain Obvious here.)