UK: Terry Jones Invited to EDL Demonstration

The alignment of Robert Spencer’s favorite UK organization and the loon pastor of Florida, Terry Jones.

Theresa May pressed to halt visit by anti-Muslim US preacher

(Guardian)

Home secretary Theresa May is under intense pressure to ban controversial anti-Muslim preacher Terry Jones from Britain after far-right activists said he had agreed to address them at a demonstration about “the evils of Islam“.

The English Defence League (EDL) said it was “proud to announce” that the US pastor, who caused outrage with plans to burn the Qur’an on this year’s anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be attending the event in Luton in early February. Jones confirmed that he would be arriving in the UK. The pastor’s website said he intended to visit the EDL’s “biggest demonstration to date” in February. The website stated: “During the protest, Dr Terry Jones will speak against the evils and destructiveness of Islam in support of the continued fight against the Islamification of England and Europe.”

President Barack Obama warned in September that Jones’s planned Qur’an burnings would be a “recruitment bonanza” for al-Qaida and the US state department said it would put the country’s citizens at risk across the world.

Tonight the British anti-extremist campaign, Hope Not Hate, launched its own petition urging May to ban Jones from Britain, while MPs demanded immediate action from the home secretary. Hope Not Hate’s campaign co-ordinator, Nick Lowles, said: “Pastor Jones’s presence in Luton will be incendiary and highly dangerous. He will attract and encourage thousands of English Defence League supporters to take to the streets of Luton.

“Like the EDL, Pastor Jones indiscriminately targets all Muslims and their actions can only lead to increased tensions and racism in our communities. His appearance will rightly cause concern and fear among Muslims across the country.”

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, said he would table an urgent parliamentary motion tomorrow demanding that the pastor be banned from coming into the country.

“We have seen how Pastor Jones, with a very small congregation in Florida, created a firestorm by urging the Qur’an to be burned,” Cruddas said. “We should not allow racial hatred to be whipped up in this manner in our country.”

The EDL announced Jones’s planned visit on its Facebook site today, saying he would attend “our biggest demo to date” and describing it as “the big one”. There are fears that copies of the Qur’an could be burned by extremists.

The last time the EDL marched in Luton, 250 of their supporters went on the rampage through an Asian area of the town. Shop windows were smashed, cars overturned and a number of people were attacked. Thirty-five people were arrested as a result of the violence. Eleven people were arrested yesterday as 500 EDL supporters marched in Peterborough.

“The EDL march in February has the potential to be far worse,” Lowles said. “Only extremists will benefit from his visit and, as we know, extremism breeds hatred and hatred breeds violence. Pastor Jones, a preacher of hate, must be stopped from entering the UK.”

The home secretary has the power to exclude or deport an individual if she thinks their presence in the UK could threaten national security, public order or the safety of citizens. She can also do so if she believes their views glorify terrorism, promote violence or encourage other serious crime.

May has been keen to show that she is tough on extremism. Five weeks after the coalition government came into power, she banned a radical preacher who claimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” from entering Britain. Zakir Naik had been due to give a series of lectures at Wembley Arena and in Sheffield in June.

However, visitors from other countries cannot be banned just for having opinions that other people would find offensive. In the past, May has said the powers can only be used in “very serious” cases. She has already acted against the EDL, banning a march in Leicester in November.

News of Jones’s planned visit comes as the head of the police intelligence unit on domestic extremism reveals that the EDL and related splinter groups have become his biggest concern.

Adrian Tudway, the national co-ordinator for domestic extremism, told the Observer: “We look at the extreme right and left, but currently our biggest single area of business are the various groups which call themselves defence leagues. These defence leagues can be found across England.”

The unit is monitoring a “number of individuals” connected to extreme rightwing groups, details of which are disseminated to local police forces.

At the height of the controversy over Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an, effigies of the pastor were burned in Afghanistan and there was widespread condemnation across the Muslim world. Jones is a Pentecostalist who bases his theology on the literal text of the Bible. He runs the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Centre, which objects to Islam because it “teaches that Jesus is not the son of God, therefore taking away the saving power of Jesus and leading people straight to Hell”.

Michael Kruse: How Real are Runaway’s Fears of Being Killed

kruse_michael_wp_10347a

Michael Kruse

This is another excellent article by Michael Kruse on the Fathima Rifqa Bary case. It explores the charges made by anti-Islam bloggers as well as Rifqa herself. He also gets the opinions of various Islamic scholars on the issues that have been raised by the case, separating truth from fiction.

How Real Are Runaway’s Fears of Being Killed for Becoming Christian?

Will religious runaway Rifqa Bary be killed if she’s sent home to Ohio?

Bary is the 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida in July because she’s terrified that her Muslim family has to murder her due to her conversion to Christianity.

Authorities in both states say there’s no “credible” threat against her. Investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say her fear is “subjective and speculative.” Her parents say they don’t want to hurt her and just want her back.

She’s living with a foster family as a court in Orlando tries to decide what to do with her. The next hearing is Monday afternoon. Attorneys for her parents are expected to argue that the case should be shifted to Ohio.

This is a good time to pause for a bit and take another look at her Aug. 10 interview with local TV. It remains this ongoing story’s primary source.

“I’m fighting for my life!” she said in her nearly seven-minute interview with Orlando’s WFTV. “You guys don’t understand!”

Let’s understand then.

• • •

“Imagine the honor in killing me,” she said. “It’s in the Koran.”

It’s not. Here’s what is.

One verse: “If any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.”

Another verse: “If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them.”

Those are parts of the two verses Robert Spencer cites to support his belief that Bary will be killed because Islam says she must be killed.

Spencer blogs at JihadWatch.org. He’s written nine books, with titles like Stealth Jihad, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Two of them have been New York Times bestsellers. In Stealth Jihad, published last year, he writes of the coming “Islamic conquest of North America” and urges this country’s schools to stop “the empty rhetoric of inclusion and multiculturalism.”

Here are some other things the Koran says.

One verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

Another verse: “Show kindness to parents, and to family.”

The Koran, like many other holy texts, is long, complicated and at times contradictory, and over centuries different people have had and continue to have different interpretations.

Bary has committed apostasy. That means she was a Muslim and now she’s not.

“The Koran condemns apostasy,” said Jonathan Berkey, a professor of Islamic studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, “but the verses about seizing and slaying ‘renegades’ concerned enemies of the prophet Muhammad’s state, people who posed a political or even military threat.

“For others,” he said, “the Koran implies that apostasy is something that God will punish.”

Not people. Not in this life.

• • •

“They have to kill me,” she said.

Let’s acknowledge this right here: There’s no way to know for sure if her parents, or anyone else for that matter, will kill her.

But this can be said with certainty: They don’t have to.

This idea, though, comes from sharia, or Islamic law. There is one Koran but there is no single sharia. It comes from many sources, including the Koran, and is “more like a discussion by Muslim scholars concerning the duties a Muslim should perform,” said Valerie Hoffman, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Illinois.

Most Muslim jurists say apostasy is punishable by death — but not all of them. It is “the heart of a burning debate among modern Muslims,” said Sherman Jackson, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan.

“There are lots of liberal Muslims today who feel that there should never be any execution of people who convert from Islam to another religion,” Hoffman said. “You can’t say Islam says this or Islam says that.”

Also important is the fact that sharia is law only to the extent that specific governments choose to enforce it as such. Some governments in the Muslim world do. Most don’t. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Its government does not.

“Sharia is just not applied very often, particularly in the modern world,” Berkey said. “There are few places in the Muslim world where much at all of sharia is applied with the force of law.”

Apostasy executions are rare.

An official at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom told the New York Times in 2006 that he knew of four: one in Sudan, in 1985; two in Iran, in 1989 and 1998; and one in Saudi Arabia, in 1992.

In the case of Bary, which government would order her execution for apostasy — Ohio, Florida, the United States?

“The allegation that Muslim parents would be required to kill an apostate daughter is absurd,” said Carl Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina, “particularly if there is no evidence to back this up besides the daughter’s statement.”

• • •

“I don’t know if you know about honor killings,” she said.

Honor killings are real. The United Nations Population Fund says there could be as many as 5,000 a year worldwide.

Honor killings are usually when a man in a family kills a woman in that family because of some shame the man believes she brought on the family. It typically involves some sort of perceived sexual impropriety, anything from promiscuity to adultery to dating the wrong guy or dressing too “Western.” Sometimes, women are killed after they’re raped.

Honor killings happen mostly in the Muslim world. In the last couple of years, though, there was a double murder some called an honor killing in Texas, there was one in Georgia, there was another in upstate New York.

But honor killings and apostasy executions are not the same thing.

“This is a basic mistake of conflating two things,” said Brett Wilson, a professor of Islamic studies at Macalester College in Minnesota.

Ernst, the professor from UNC, called honor killings “a local or tribal custom,” having far more to do with culture than religion — “more or less equivalent,” he wrote in an e-mail, “to the so-called ‘unwritten law,’ honored by judges in Texas at least through the 1950s, which considered it legitimate for a husband to kill his wife and her lover if he discovered them in a compromising situation.”

• • •

To believe absolutely that the girl from Ohio will be killed if she’s sent home, you have to believe that there’s no variation in the interpretation of Islam — no Sunni, no Shia, no Sufism — among the approximately billion and a half Muslims worldwide, stretching from Southeast Asia to Africa to the Middle East to Europe to Florida and Ohio. Saying all Muslims have exactly the same rigid and literal beliefs and act on those beliefs in exactly the same ways is like saying the same thing about Christians.

Times news researchers Shirl Kennedy and Will Short Gorham contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

Robert Spencer: Self-declared Scholar v. Real Scholar on the Fatimah Rifqa Bary Case

Andrew Bostom and "Islamic Scholar" Robert Spencer

Andrew Bostom and "Islamic Scholar" Robert Spencer

The Right-Wing anti-Muslim loonocracy and its minions in the blogosphere have secured a new cause to rally around, ironically enough it once again involves a Muslim minor, and in this regard, the anti-Muslim blogosphere really doesn’t have a good track record.  As recent history has proved, the last time the anti-Muslim blogosphere got this riled up about Muslim minors they turned up with egg on their faces.

After viewing a picture online of a wedding in Gaza, with grooms holding the hands of their young female cousins and nieces, the Islamophobia hit epic proportions with accusations of pedophilia being flung about wily-nily without nary a fact check. Tim Marshall, who reported on the wedding wrote about the Islamophobic response to the wedding,

Our report on this put it into context saying that it took place just a mile from the Israeli border and was a message from Hamas about its strength confidence and future fighters. Oh and that the brides were elsewhere. Pretty straightforward.

It never struck me for a moment that the little girls might later be described in the bloggersphere as the brides! How naive I am.

Dozens, and I mean dozens, of websites took the video of the event and wrote lurid stories about Hamas mass paedophilia with headlines about ‘450 child brides’, and endless copy about how disgusting this was, how it showed how depraved Islam is, et al, ad infinitum. Site after site jumped on the story, linking from one totally wrong load of rubbish to the next.

Robert Spencer was amongst the bloggers that falsely reported the incident as an instance of pedophilia.

The Fatimah Rifqa Bary Case

This time the case involves 17 year old Fatimah Rifqa Bary the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who came to America in 2000 seeking treatment for her vision problems. And before you could say “expediency,” the typical hordes of vultures started cycling, not so much out of interest for the girl’s welfare or the facts of the story, but as what they saw as a golden opportunity to reaffirm their caricature of Islam and Muslims as a dangerous cancer lurking within an otherwise good and pure Western civilization.

Fatimah, a cheerleader at New Albany High School ran away from her Columbus, Ohio home and ended up at the home of a pastor in Florida named Blake Lorenz. The details on how she ended up in Florida are still murky but what is clear is that she is leveling some very serious allegations against her family, including that she will be killed if she is returned to Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch reports in a story titled Girl Brainwashed, Parents say:

With Lorenz holding his arm tightly around her, Rifqa told WFTV-TV in Florida on Monday that she would be killed if she came home.

“They love God more than me; they have to do this,” she said. “I’m fighting for my life. You guys don’t understand.”

The family disputes these allegations and believes their daughter has been brainwashed. They state quite categorically that she is free to practice whatever faith she wants,

“We love her, we want her back, she is free to practice her religion, whatever she believes in, that’s OK,” her father, Mohamed Bary, said yesterday.

“What these people are trying to do is not right — I don’t think any religion will teach to separate the kids from their parents,” he said.

The family is not the only ones questioning the young girls allegations, Sgt. Jerry Cupp, the Chief of the Columbus Police Missing-Persons Bureau has said that Mohamed Bary (the father) “comes across to me as a loving, caring, worried father about the whereabouts and the health of his daughter.”

Robert Spencer, however, without knowing anything about the family — or the complete facts of the case — believes there is a slow motion honor killing in the making.  Starting from the pre-set conclusion that he derives from his personal study of Islam, he states that Islam requires the death penalty for apostates, and that it is a dead letter only “if no one cares or is able to enforce it in a particular case.” He writes this in response to Muslim scholar M. Cherif Bassiouni, a distinguished Law professor at DePaul University and President of the International Human Rights Law Institute, who wrote in 2006 that “a Muslim’s conversion to Christianity is not a crime punishable by death under Islamic law.”

Professor Bassiouni wrote this in 2006 when a man in Afghanistan was under the penalty of death for converting to Christianity. He wrote it as part of a document that was submitted to the court in Kabul. It has also been professor Bassiouni’s opinion as early as 1983. Professor Bassiouni responded to Spencer stating,

My position on apostasy has been expressed as early as 1983, namely that at the time of the Prophet it was not considered as only changing one’s mind but that it was the equivalent of joining the enemy and thus constituting high treason. In fact, at one time the Prophet had an agreement with the people in Makkah to return to Makkah all those who came from there, who wished to return after they had converted to Islam. I and a number of other distinguished Muslim scholars have long criticized the views of the four traditional Sunni schools…It is amazing to me how apparently little good faith and intellectual honesty you are displaying in your attack upon Islam and Muslims.

Professor Bassiouni’s position is pretty straight forward, he disagrees with those Muslims and non-Muslims who believe Islam legislates death for apostates and that his and many other distinguished Muslim scholars’ opinion is that it doesn’t. This is not so hard to grasp as LoonWatch contributor Barbel notes directly addressing Spencer,

In an obvious attempt to categorically associate this situation with all Muslims you wrote:

If she is sent back to her family, she could be killed, in accord with the death penalty that is prescribed by all Muslim sects and schools for those who leave Islam.

Surely, as a “scholar” you must be aware of this verse from the Muslim holy book, the Quran:

Those who believe, then reject Faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject Faith, and go on increasing in Unbelief,- God will not forgive them nor guide them on the Way.

How would it be possible to reject faith twice or go on increasing in unbelief if one was suppose to have been killed after the first rejection?  Furthermore, what purpose would withholding guidance have if the person had a death sentence anyway?

Robert, regardless of what you might want us to believe, Islamic scholars are NOT in consensus nor have they ever been in consensus over the apostasy issue.  Historically, the sentence of death was only applied to people who converted from the religion AND committed espionage. Consider what the 10th century scholar Shams al-Din al-Sarakhsi had to say:

The prescribed penalties are generally not suspended because of repentance, especially when they are reported and become known to the head of state.  The punishment of highway robbery, for instance, is not suspended because of repentance; it is suspended only by the return of property to the owner prior to arrest. … Renunciation of the faith and conversion to disbelief is admittedly the greatest of offenses, yet it is a matter between man and his Creator, and its punishment is postponed to the day of judgment. Punishments that are enforced in this life are those which protect the people’s interests, such as just retaliation, which is designed to protect life.

More recently, the contemporary Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan (a man you have repeatedly tried to defame) had this to say:

I have been criticized about this in many countries.  My view is the same as that of Sufyan Al-Thawri, an 8th-century scholar of Islam, who argued that the Koran does not prescribe death for someone because he or she is changing religion. Neither did the Prophet himself ever perform such an act. Many around the Prophet changed religions. But he never did anything against them.  There was an early Muslim, Ubaydallah ibn Jahsh, who went with the first emigrants from Mecca to Abyssinia.  He converted to Christianity and stayed, but remained close to Muslims.  He divorced his wife, but he was not killed.

I know this is probably still not enough for you, so here are over a hundred more Islamic scholars who are against the death penalty for apostasy.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that this girl (or many others who are in similar situations) isn’t at serious risk.  She very may well be.  All it means is that the straw man version of Islam that you have created only serves to ignite more hatred and promote your own personal ideological agenda.

This highlights the absurdity that is Robert Spencer, an absurdity that projects an ominous pre-set conclusion on any heated situation that arises dealing with Muslims and castigates “all Islam” in the process without acknowledging the polyvalent interpretations that exist or the context.

Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy on Religious Freedom

What further makes the Fatimah Rifqah Bary case one which exposes Spencer and his cronies is the hypocrisy of it all. This is being painted as a freedom of religion case, specifically the freedom to change one’s religion, but it seems in this department Spencer sounds like the pot calling the kettle black since he supports those who would restrict the freedom of religion of Muslims.

As we have written on extensively before, one of the close comrades of Spencer is neo-fascist European politician Geert Wilders. Spencer is on the record stating his admiration for Wilders who he sees as the only European politician standing up for Western Civilization.

"Under his wing": Geert Wilders & Robert Spencer

"Under his wing": Geert Wilders & Robert Spencer

Wilders is by all accounts an odious individual who calls for the out right denial of religious freedom to Muslims. He has called for the banning of the Quran which he compares to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, he has also stated that, “Freedom of Religion should not apply to Islam.” He is also working to end Muslim immigration and strip Muslims in Dutch society of their citizenship.

This is Spencers friend. Spencer has also participated in forums with Wilders, conferences, writes articles about him, has interviewed him and cites him often. In one article Spencer wrote in response to CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper he says,

I didn’t actually have anything to do with that conference in Florida, but Hoop could just say straight out that I support Wilders. And so should anyone who holds dear the Western values that are threatened by Islamic supremacists.

So is the Fatimah Rifqah Bary case another instance of Robert Spencer jumping the gun or is her life legitimately under threat? The courts will resolve that question, but Spencer has shot his credibility in this department with a track record of obfuscation, innuendo and misrepresentation and is wholly unreliable.

Will Spencer also back track on his position that “all Muslim sects and schools of thought” legislates the death penalty for apostates and concede that there is a valid counter opinion such as the one articulated by Professor Bassiouni? Finally, will Spencer quit the charade that he is a democrat that cares for Freedom of Religion when in fact his position is to support those who would deny religious freedom?

It seems that per his practice, Spencer seized on this case to further his well-oiled agenda that Islam is evil and Muslims are backward. As the story of Fatimah Rifqah Bary plays out we will see more clearly that the anti-Muslims are not motivated by her welfare but rather to confirm their warped hatred of Islam and Muslims.