Reza Aslan, a Typo, and the Petty Vindictiveness of Robert Spencer

Reza

Reza Aslan, a Typo, and the Petty Vindictiveness of Robert Spencer

by Ilisha

As we’ve noted before, Robert Spencer seems to have an unhealthy obsession with Reza Aslan. Sadly for Spencer, his interest is not reciprocated.

In this case, serious engagement would elevate Spencer and give him a veneer or credibility he does not deserve. The best response to irredeemable loons is laughter and ridicule. Aslan has responded by teasing Spencer about a man crush:

1. You don’t actually think I read the drivel you send me do you? You’re a clown and the only proper response to clowns is laughter. Unless of course your obsession with me is motivated by something else. In that case, I must tell you that I’m flattered but you’re really not my type.

2. I don’t know how else to tell that I’m just not attracted to you. You and I are never going to get together Robert. You should stick to men your own age and weight.

3. I told you. I’m into women not walruses.

4. Ok. Fine. I’ll think about it. But first you have to shave and lose some weight.

5. If I send you a picture will that satisfy your lust for a while?

Undeterred, it seems Spencer continued, and received this response:

Dear Mr. Spencer. This is Mr. Aslan’s assistant. You seem to be under the impression that Mr. Aslan is actually opening, reading, and responding to your emails. I assure you he is not. The email responses you are receiving are automated responses set to respond to your emails indefinitely. You can’t actually think he is interested in reading anything you have to say. Mr. Aslan is a world renowned, best selling scholar. There is nothing about you or your “work” that would interest him in the slightest. Still, we hope that you will keep up your writings about him. Not only does everything you say validate Mr. Aslan’s importance. But you are a source of immense amusement for our team. Thank you.

Roshi

Spencer actually posts these responses on his website, apparently proud he managed to get a response at all. Undeterred, he recently attempted once again to engage Aslan.

His latest onslaught was sparked by an interview with Sarah Harvard in DL Magazine. Spenceraccused Aslan of being an “Islamic supremacist” who thinks Christianity teaches reincarnation:

ASLAN: It has to do with the symbolism and metaphors that Islam provides to think about God. All of that actually made more sense to me. When I think of God, I think about it in the terms of radical unity, which Islam talks about, and less in the terms of the trinity and reincarnation, which Christianity talks about. That’s it. My faith hasn’t changed. The language in which I use my faith has changed.

Reza Aslan responded to Spencer’s accusation on Twitter:

Twitter Aslan

In turn, Spencer described Aslan as an “immature, foul-mouthed creep,” and wrote [emphasis mine]:

Stung by my noticing that he thinks Christianity teaches reincarnation, Islamic supremacist Christianity-debunker Reza Aslan is claiming that it was just a typo and slinging his usual invective. Only an imbecile, apparently, would be fool enough to believe that Reza Aslan would be fool enough to believe that Christianity teaches reincarnation.

This is at least the second time Spencer has made this accusation, having devoted a previous articleto the topic of Aslan’s alleged belief that Christianity teaches reincarnation.

Reza Aslan wrote an entire book devoted to the life and times of Jesus. If he believes that Christianity teaches reincarnation, it seems likely he would have said so in his book. A search on Kindle reveals his book mentions the word “reincarnation” only once, and the reference is not literal:

Malachi’s prophecy explains why the courtiers at Tiberias see in Jesus thereincarnation of Israel’s quintessential end-times prophet. Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, p.130

In contrast, the word “incarnation” is mentioned six times, on pages 12, 36, 105, 138, 170, and 213. In reference to the trinity, Aslan mentions the notion of Jesus as God “incarnate,” which in fact is a widespread Christian teaching:

The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos (Word), “became flesh” by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos (God-bearer). The incarnation, then, is the God-Man ‘Jesus Christ’.

If Aslan really “thinks” Christianity teaches reincarnation, why did he neglect to mention this throughout his entire book? The word “incarnation” is clearly more consistent with his work. Still, could it be that Aslan is lying about the typo?

In fact, Reza Aslan was clearly vindicated when DL Magazine has posted a correction [emphasis mine]:

CORRECTION 12/29/13: The original published version of this interview stated that Reza Aslan rejected “reincarnation”. That is incorrect; he states that he rejected “incarnation”. DL Magazine regrets the transcribing error. Thank you.

Spencer also tried to take a swipe at Aslan’s best-selling book, Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. Rather than challenging the content, he suggested the book was ghost written because:

…so obvious is Aslan’s abysmal ignorance of the subject matter and only dim awareness of how to write a grammatically correct sentence.

Is that the best he can do? Instead of offering a substantive critique of Aslan’s work, Spencer has now devoted two articles to huffing and puffing about something spectacularly petty.

At the time of this writing, Spencer has not updated his article. If the past is any indication, he will not post a correction. He will let his false accusation stand, and when the mood strikes, he will no doubt challenge Aslan again–and invite another round of ridicule.

Related:

Exclusive Loonwatch Interview with Reza Aslan

Robert Spencer: “I have exactly the same credentials as [Reza] Aslan”; Oh, Really?

Robert Spencer Discovers Chess Set Jihad

Islamized Chess

by Ilisha

In the widely used Staunton chess set, the king is topped with a Christian cross. At this years’s World Youth Chess Championship in the United Arab Emirates, a new design has been introduced. The Christian cross has been replaced by the Islamic crescent.

Robert Spencer is outraged. He has accused “Islamic Supremacists” or “forcing” non-Muslim children to play with the “Islamized” chess sets. The horror!

Judging from Spencer’s outrage, one might think European Christians invented chess, and the Muslims are trying to co-opt “their” game.

In fact, Chess was brought to Christian Europe by Muslims. 

The precise origins of chess are unknown, but the game is thought to have originated in ancientIndia or Central Asia, and from there, spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Europe.

One of the world’s oldest chess sets was found in Afrasaib, near Samarkand in Uzbekistan. The set included a king, chariot, vizier, horse, elephant, and 2 soldiers.

The traditional Staunton chess set Robert Spencer is defending as sacred is actually the product of European “Christianization” of earlier designs.From

The original Indian and Islamic game was adapted to reflect medieval European society, so that the Indian war elephant was replaced with the figure of the bishop. The rooks biting their shields resemble the Viking berserkers of Norse myth, while the pose of the queens is derived from depictions of the grieving Virgin Mary. The pawns, lacking any human features, reflect the abstract pieces used in the Islamic version of the game.

Are Muslims reclaiming the game of chess in the Name of Islam? Of course not. Many cultures have influenced chess over its 1500 year history, and unless you’re a paranoid “counter jihadist,” there’s no reason to view those contributions as divisive or sinister.

World Youth Chess Championships in UAE using Islamized chess sets

Jihad Wartch

..The photo above of some of the chess sets being used in this year’s tournament in Al Ain are just the icing on the cake. Traditional chess kings have a cross on the top (a design that has been in use for centuries). But this year in the UAE, they’ve removed the cross and replaced it with an Islamic crescent. A veteran chess player tells me: “In my entire life playing chess I have never seen such a thing.”

Some of the children in this year’s tournament are being forced to use these sets:here are some photos from the actual playing hall with participants using the Islamized sets..

…As you will see, only some of the sets have this Islamic design — probably because few have been made as yet, and the organizers need thousands of sets for such a huge tournament. So the majority of sets under use are “normal” style. But even so, the Islamic supremacist implications of the new design are self-evident. This is not a big deal, but obviously it was to the Emiratis who went to so much trouble to alter the set. Why not leave it as it was? Was it because of Islam’s abhorrence of the cross?

UPDATE: The Islamized sets are in wide use…

Pamela Geller has cross posted Spencer’s article on her blog Atlas Shrugs, and added her own paranoid twist:

Robert Spencer has broken the story that in the UAE, the World Youth Chess Championships are listing Israeli players as from the country “FIDE” (World Chess Federation), and are using Islamized chess pieces (above). If the Jews win the tournament, there will be a worldwide terror alert! All free nations must go to Defcon 5 — expect embassies to burn and millions to march and call for death to the Jews. The magic Islamic chess pieces will have lost their mojo — Allah is not pleased. Allah may be akbar, but these chess pieces will have proved not to be.

Yes, Pam, climb onto your broom and head to the UAE. You and your minions must save the world from the Muslim rage that will no doubt follow if the “magic Islamic chess pieces” fail to defeat “the Jews.”

Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever

Radical Obama New YorkerThe controversial cover of The New Yorker magazine on July 14, 2008 in New York City, which carries an illustration depicting Barack and Michelle Obama, dressed as a Muslim and a gun-toting militant. Photograph: Chris Hondros/Getty images

It’s tough keeping up with all the paranoid conspiracy theories swirling around President Obama. Fortunately, Mother Jones has compiled a summary, accompanied by a handy chart.

Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever

By  and , Mother Jones

Barack Obama’s presidency has been an inspiration to many Americans—especially nutjobs. Ever since the first-black-president-to-be appeared on the national political stage, a cottage industry of conservative conspiracy theorists has churned out bizarro, paranoid, and just plain racist effluvia—some of which has trickled into the political mainstream. Below, we’ve charted some of the Obama-baiters best (i.e., worst) work. (Scroll down for more detailed descriptions of the conspiracy theories in the diagram.)

Obama Conspiracy Chart

The Conspiracy Theories

Disclaimer: It should go without saying that none of these are true. Follow links at your own risk.

Obama is a secret Muslim: This one began right after he took the stage at the 2004 Democratic convention, with chain emails alleging his “true” religious affiliation. The rumor soon found its way onto the popular conservative online forum Free Republic, and took on a whole new life in the years to come. Related: Obama secretly speaks Arabicattended a madrassa as a kid in Indonesia, referred to “my Muslim faith” in an interview, and was sworn in on a Koran. 

Obama’s bringing 100 million Muslims to America: Avi Lipkin and his PR outfit Special Guests claimed to have evidence of a scheme to bring roughly 100 million Muslims from the Middle East into the United States, converting the country into an Islamic nation by the end of Obama’s second term and making it easier to obliterate Israel.

Obama once aided the mujahideen: Harlem pastor and professional race-baiter James David Manning contended that in his younger days, Obama went undercover as a CIA agent to facilitate the transfer of cash and weapons to the Afghan mujahideen in the ’80s, thereby aiding what would become the Taliban.

Obama is in the pocket of the Muslim Brotherhood: Billy Graham’s son Franklin wants you to know that Obama is allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the federal government.

Obama redecorated the Oval Office in Middle Eastern style: Driven by his fierce sense of anti-American interior design, Obama got rid of the red, white, and blue decoration scheme in his White House office.

Obama married a Pakistani guy: World Net Daily correspondent and conspiracymonger extraordinaire Jerome Corsi posted a video in which he claimed to have “strong” evidence that Obama was once married to his college roommate from Pakistan. The smoking gun: Photos of the chums in which the future president is “sitting about on the [Pakistani roommate’s] lap.” Related: For years Obama wore a gold ring on his left hand. Was it his gay-wedding ring?

Obama’s ring has a Koranic verse on it: The very same ring is allegedly emblazoned with a key phrase in the Islamic declaration of faith: “There is no god except Allah.” (It’s not.)

Obama was funded by a Saudi prince: Another fairy tale courtesy of Corsi: In late-’70s Chicago, Obama secured political and academic funding from a variety of sketchy Arab sponsors, including a Saudi prince. Which may explain why President Obama bowed to the Saudi king.

Obama was born in Kenya: In early 2008, fringe theorists began a push to prove Obama was born on foreign soil and was therefore ineligible to live in the White House. The theory gained national attention thanks to the efforts of perennial GOP candidate Alan Keyes, “birther queen”Orly Taitz, and Corsi. Related: Obama’s birth certificate is a fake, he killed his grandmother in Hawaii because she knew the truth, sealed access to his birth certificate and other damning documents, and did pretty much everything horrible you could possibly do for the sake of a phony birth certificate.

Obama lost his US citizenship: According to Corsi, Obama became an citizen of Indonesia while he lived there as a child.

Michelle’s “whitey” tape: During the 2008 campaign, rumors surfaced that a video of Michelle Obama using the word “whitey” would be released to sink her husband’s campaign. It’s never materialized. Related: The time Glenn Beck called Barack Obama a racist.

Obama was a Black Panther: Well, only if you’re not very good at spotting photoshopped images.

Obama is the son of Malcolm X: Because, you know, black people. This charmer popped up on Atlas Shrugged, Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim website. (Geller is also known for obsessing over Shariah turkeys she believes are destroying Thanksgiving.)

Obama is the son of Frank Marshall Davis: The conspiracy film Dreams From My Real Father espouses the theory that Davis, a leftist activist, was not only Obama’s ideological mentor but his biological father. Related: Obama got a nose job to make his nose look less like Davis’.

Obama’s mom and dad were communists: And you know that communism is an inherited condition.

Obama’s ghostwriter was Bill Ayers: Conservative commentators claimed they uncovered evidence that ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers was the true author of Obama’s 1995 memoir Dreams from my Father. Former Republican congressman Chris Cannon of Utah went as far as to try to commission an Oxford professor to confirm Ayers’ authorship through computer analysis.

Obama trained to overthrow the government: In 2008, leading Obama conspiracy theorist Andy Martin declared on Fox News’ Hannity’s America that the then-presidential candidate had trained for “a radical overthrow of the government” during his time as a community organizer in Chicago.

Obama wouldn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance: During the ’08 campaign, Obama was rumored to have refused to say the pledge during a town hall meeting. A photo of the incident was actually taken while the national anthem was being sung.

Obama removed the flag from Air Force One: …and replaced it with his campaign logo.

Obama ordered soldiers to swear allegiance to him: In April 2009, a clearly satirical report detailing how secretary of defense Robert Gates was growing “extremely frustrated” with the White House’s plans to scrub the Constitution from the military oath of loyalty made the rounds on the right-wing blogosphere.

Obama secretly gave away American islands to Russia: Texas House candidate Wes Riddle endorsed this theory and noted the relinquishment as grounds for impeachment. However, the seven Arctic islands were actually given away in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.

Obama caused the recession—in 1995: According to a recent Daily Caller story, Obama’s efforts to force banks to lend to African Americans in the mid-’90s led to the subprime mortgage crisis that killed the economy in 2008.

Obama’s youth reeducation camps: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) warned that “young people will be put into mandatory service” at politically correct, billion-dollar camps run by the Democrats.

Obama’s coming for your guns: Extreme gun-rights outfits, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), alleged that the Obama administration is supporting the (nonexistent) United Nations Small Arms Treaty, which would lead to nationwide gun confiscation.

Obama’s coming for your gold: This theory was floated by Glenn Beck—and the gold company he shilled for.

Obama is planning FEMA concentration camps: Again with the camps. This theory got a big boost from Glenn Beck (who claims he didn’t mean anything by it). Related: An executive order titled, “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” was issued in the middle of March 2012. Conservative commentators saw it as a martial law power-grab that allowed the president to commandeer farmland, steal everyone’s food, and draft any American into slave labor for a war of aggression against Iran. Also, he has a “secret vault” at Interpol’s headquarters for imprisoning Americans. (Chuck Norris is on the case.)

Obama wants to confiscate your IRA: Townhall.com sent out an message ad claiming that Obama wants to seize your retirement account by force.

Obama caused the BP oil spill: Conspiracy-minded radio host Alex Jones promoted the theory that the Deepwater Horizon spill was all part of the administration’s plans of oil nationalization and global government.

Obama was behind the Aurora massacre: In July, Gun Owners of America blasted out a press release claiming that the mass murder at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was suspiciously timed. “Someone in Washington” was probably behind it, paving the way for Obama-led firearm confiscation and “government genocide.”

Obama personally caused Hurricane Sandy: It wasn’t global warming that made Sandy so intense; it was Barack. Alex Jones’ site reportedthe president engineered the storm using a Pentagon weather modification project. The mayhem caused by the hurricane would afford Obama the opportunity to score points by briskly managing disaster relief a week before the election.

Obama had Andrew Breitbart killed: In March 2012, conservative media impresario Andrew Breitbart died of heart failure. Less than a month prior to his death, he had announced that he had uncovered footage of Obama’s formative years as a radical. So obviously, Obama had him offed. (The tapes were later revealed to contain things like a young Obama hugging a black college professor.) Related: People—like a Rod Blagojevich fundraiser and an Obama impersonator—died between 2008 and 2012. Obama was in office between 2008 and 2012…coincidence?!?!

Obama spiked the jobs report: ”Jobs truthers” (like former GE CEO Jack Welch and Florida tea party congressman Allen West) accused the Obama administration of cooking the September unemployment numbers to manufacture a rosier picture of the economy and boost the president’s chances of reelection.

Obama faked bin Laden’s death: Since no photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse were produced, the Al Qaeda leader must still be out there. Fox News’ Steve Doocy and Andrew Napolitano entertained the idea that Operation Neptune Spear was merely a ploy to revive Obama’s sagging approval ratings. Related: Obama was photoshopped into the iconic killing-OBL White House photo.

Obama’s plan to fake an assassination attempt: A false-flag operation would create urban tumult and give Obama the pretext to declare martial law, thus suspending democracy, postponing the 2012 election, and prolonging his stay in office. The theory was flagged by Tenn. State Rep. Kelly Keisling, among others, after circulating online.

Obama the brainwashing hypnotist: As a master of neurolinguistic programming, Obama convinced Americans to vote for him via subliminal messages. Related: Rush Limbaugh pondered if hypnosis was the reason that so many Jewish voters were in the bag for Obama.

Obama’s teleprompter: Obama’s eloquence is a myth! The 44th president is incapable of speaking in public with his teleprompter.

Obama had a ghostwriter for everything: Jack Cashill over at WND had a hot scoop on how Obama’s love letters to his college girlfriend were ghostwritten.

Obama’s anti-Semitic poetry: However, according to the American Thinker, Obama’s ghostwriters did not write his youthful poem “Underground,” which compares Jews to fig-eating underwater apes and echoes Koranic verse.

Obama’s exiled lover: Obama was supposedly fooling around with an attractive young staffer from his 2004 Senate campaign. Michelle Obama had the temptress packed off to the Caribbean before the ’08 campaign.

Obama is gay: Which explains why he joined Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. No, really. (Via Corsi, of course.)

Obama’s crack cocaine/gay sex/murder orgy cover-up: In 2008, a small-time conman named Larry Sinclair and his kilt-wearing lawyer held a press conference to tell the world of the future president’s murderous, drug-and-sodomy-fueled crimes.

Obama’s campaigns were funded by drug money: During an October conference call organized to oppose pot legalization, a writer from Lyndon LaRouche’s magazine asked about “reports [that both Obama’s] 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns have been financed in part by laundered drug money.”

Obama is the Antichrist: Obviously. Related: If you play his 2008 Democratic nomination acceptance speech backwards, you can hear him instruct listeners to do Satan’s bidding.

Obama is a lizard overlord: According to codes hidden in Biblical verse, Obama is a reptilian humanoid. This idea has found its way on to some right-wing radio shows, and two Daily Caller reporters recently published a (satirical?) e-book on the topic titled, The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama’s True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer.

Obama’s adventures on Mars: As a teen, Obama participated in a CIA initiative to teleport to Mars using a top-secret “jump room.” Self-described time travelers William Stillings and Andrew Basiago claim to have met the future POTUS at American space bases on the Red Planet. In early 2012, a spokesman for the National Security Council actually acknowledged these claims, and issued a fairly convincing denial.

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.”

Daniel Pipes: A Muhammad Cartoon A Day

Our Leader
Afghans hold placards reading: “Our leader Mohammed” during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

 

On Friday, Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) [love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Day] was observed throughout Pakistan. Many demonstrators  carried signs with red hearts bearing the Prophet’s name and inspiring slogans (“Our leader Muhammad” and “Honor Our Prophet”). This positive theme had great potential, but unfortunately, was marred by more violence.

A  thousand peaceful protests can be overshadowed by a single protest turned deadly, especially with the media so eager to highlight episodes of violence. Loons can hardly contain their glee.

In fact, Daniel Pipes wants to see more violence and mayhem. A lot more, until the so-called “Islamists” are finally tamed.

In his recent article published on mainstream conduit of hate, Fox News, Pipes has dipped into the historical archive and culled together an assortment of events, including the controversies over Salmon Rushdie’s lackluster book more than two decades ago, the Danish Cartoons of 2005, the nutty antics of the infamous “Reverend” Terry Jones, Qur’an burnings, and the recent provocations by the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hedbo. He clearly relishes each and every incident that reinforces the notion of perpetual “Muslim outrage.”

According to his cynical interpretation of events, Muslims aren’t protesting because they’re defending their beloved Prophet Muhammad and their routinely maligned faith, Islam. Rather, Muslims, or “Islamists” in loon parlance, are protesting violently because they want to take over the West and abolish free speech.

Despite Pipes hateful motives and cynical exploitation of tragic events, he’s right about one thing: Provocateurs cannot be stopped by protests, and a violent backlash will only encourage more provocations. The right to free speech and exercising that right in a moral or responsible way are two different things, but it isn’t practical to legislate kindness and decency.

Many Muslims are quite understandably sickened and angered by attacks on their faith and the prophet they revere, but Islam is a religion of love and mercy, not of anger and revenge:

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. Qur’an 41:34

And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” Qur’an: 25:63 

You are neither hard-hearted nor of fierce character, nor one who shouts in the markets. You do not return evil for evil, but excuse and forgive.  The Prophet Muhammad

These outrageous provocations will not end until they cease to generate sensational headlines, or in Pipe’s own callous words, ”until the Islamists [sic] become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”

A Muhammad Cartoon a day

by Daniel Pipes, Fox News

When Salman Rushdie mocked Islamic sanctities in his magical 1989 realist novel “The Satanic Verses,” Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini did something shockingly original: He issued a death edict on Rushdie and all those connected to the production of his book. By doing this, Khomeini sought to impose Islamic mores and laws on the West. We don’t insult the prophet, he effectively said, and neither can you.

That started a trend of condemning those in the West deemed anti-Islamic that persists to this day. Again and again, when Westerners are perceived as denigrating Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam, Islamists demonstrate, riot or kill.

Khomeini’s edict also had the unexpected side effect of empowering individuals – Western and Islamist alike – to drive their countries’ policies.

Fleming Rose, a newspaper editor, created the greatest crisis for Denmark since World War II by publishing 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad. Florida pastor Terry Jones sowed panic among American commanders in Afghanistan by threatening to burn a Koran. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and friends prompted a crisis in U.S.-Egyptian relations with his amateurish “Innocence of Muslims” video. And the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo caused the French government to temporarily shut down diplomatic missions in 20 countries. Plans by the German satirical magazine Titanic  to publish attacks on Muhammad likewise led German missions to be closed.

On the Islamist side, an individual or group took one of these perceived offenses and turned it into a reason to riot. Khomeini did this with “The Satanic Verses.” Ahmad Abu Laban did likewise with the Danish cartoons. Afghan President Hamid Karzai goaded his people to riot over burned Korans by American soldiers, and Egyptian preacher Khaled Abdullah turned “Innocence of Muslims” into an international event.

Any Westerner can now buy a Koran for a dollar and burn it, while any Muslim with a platform can transform that act into a fighting offense. As passions rise on both sides of the divide, Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other, as confrontations occur with increasing frequency.

Which prompts this question: What would happen if publishers and managers of major media outlets reached a consensus — “Enough of this intimidation, we will publish the most famous Danish Muhammad cartoon every day, until the Islamists tire out and no longer riot”? What would happen if Korans were recurrently burned?

Would repetition inspire institutionalization, generate ever-more outraged responses, and offer a vehicle for Islamists to ride to greater power? Or would it lead to routinization, to a wearing out of Islamists, and a realization that violence is counter-productive to their cause?

I predict the latter. A Muhammad cartoon published each day, or Koranic desecrations on a quasi-regular basis, would make it harder for Islamists to mobilize Muslim mobs. Westerners could then once again treat Islam as they do other religions – freely, to criticize without fear. That would demonstrate to Islamists that Westerners will not capitulate, that they reject Islamic law, that they are ready to stand up for their values.

So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: Display the Muhammad cartoon daily, until the Islamists become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.

White Plains: Protesters denounce Geller’s ads as Islamophobic

White Plains MTA Protest
Photo credit: Angela Gaul | Frank Brodhead of Hastings and French Conway of Dobbs Ferry hold up signs calling for an end to Islamophobia during a rally and press conference in downtown White Plains. (Sept. 6, 2012)

It’s nice to be reminded of the many people of good will, who recognize a hate campaign for what it is and stand up for the rights of all their fellow citizens, including Muslims.

Protesters denounce Metro North ads as Islamophobic, call on MTA to rethink campaign

lohud.com, Journal News

WHITE PLAINS — As supporters held up signs protesting Islamophobia, a coalition of community leaders and residents gathered downtown Thursday to denounce anti-Muslim advertisements posted at Metro-North stations throughout Westchester County.

The coalition revealed its plan to counter the anti-Islamic campaign, calling on Metro-North to distance itself from the advertisement and donate revenue earned from its publication to an organization that combats extremism.

Paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative — a group led by Pamela Geller — the ads associate the religion of Islam with 19,250 terrorist attacks carried out by extremists since Sept 11, 2001. Printed in large block lettering on a dark background, an asterisk denotes that number is rising, and a slogan below reads: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”

“The bigotry and hate this ad directs at Muslims and Islam is totally unacceptable in Westchester or anywhere else,” said Priscilla Read, a community activist who helped organize the event. “Our purpose is to raise awareness about what this ad represents, and mobilize action in support of our Muslim neighbors.”

Geller told The Journal News the advertisments highlight the reality and magnitude of Islamic jihad and the mainstream media’s cover-up of it.

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to publicly denounce the signs, suggesting a disclaimer be placed on Metro-North platforms saying the agency does not support the advertisement.

Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro-North Railroad, said it does not endorse the viewpoint expressed in the ad but refrains from banning advertising based on its message. Anders added that the railroad relies on advertising to generate revenue. MTA chairman and CEO, Joseph Lhota, has indicated the agency will discuss its policies on political ads later this month.

“When I first saw the word Islamorealism, I thought, ‘Hey, maybe these people actually met some Muslims,’” said Rev. Gawain de Leeuw of St. Bartholomew’s Church in White Plains. “But I know these people. I know they are opportunists who seek to prey on the fears and worries of hard-working Americans. But what they don’t know is that this will not work. Toleration is a part of our American DNA from the very beginning.”

Related Stories:

Pam & Bob: Welcome to the Bay, Where We Don’t Tolerate Hate

Mondoweiss: Another Morphing Muni ad and a Hat Tip to Ayn Rand

TheReligionOfPeace.com: Working to Streamline the American Empire’s “War on Terror”

The Muslim Brotherhood: Crucifixion or Just Plain Fiction?

Crucifixion

Lurid tales of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood allegedly “crucifying” President Mohammed Morsi’s political opponents has gone viral all across the looniverse, but skepticism seems to have surfaced in an unlikely place.

The American Thinker is not generally friendly to Muslims, and articles from notorious loons like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer routinely “grace” its pages, as evidenced by their respective archives here and here. Yet, despite the ridiculous assertion that rabid anti-Muslim bigot and serial fabricator Raymond Ibraham is “usually reliable,” the American Thinker indulged in a bit of fact checking and concluded the tale of crucifixion is, “at best, an exaggeration, and at worst, a hoax.

At the time of this writing, Google searching the phrase, “Muslim Brotherhood crucifixion” in quotes yields 341,000 results. Despite this bout of  ”lone wolf” fact checking by the American Thinker, this fabricated tale will no doubt be recycled endlessly, masquerading as “proof” of alleged Muslim depravity for months, or even years, to come.

Is the Muslim Brotherhood crucifying opponents of Morsi?

by Rick Moran, American Thinker

This story is hard to believe but comes to us from multiple sources, including the usually reliable Ray Ibrahim. The problem is that the original report is from the Arab media. And while Ray, no doubt, faithfully translated the stories, there is no reliable source that could confirm the substance of the report.

However, it certainly is not beyond imagining that Salafists allied with the Muslim Brotherhood could have carried out such a barbaric act.

Ibrahim reports:

Last week in Egypt, when Muslim Brotherhood supporters terrorized the secular media, several Arabic websites-including Arab NewsAl Khabar NewsDostor Watany, and Egypt Now-reported that people were being “crucified.” The relevant excerpt follows in translation:

A Sky News Arabic correspondent in Cairo confirmed that protestors belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others. Likewise, Muslim Brotherhood supporters locked the doors of the media production facilities of 6-October [a major media region in Cairo], where they proceeded to attack several popular journalists.

That there were attacks and violence-both in front of Egypt’s presidential palace and at major media facilities, is well-documented. An August 9 report by El Balad, a widely read Egyptian website, gives the details:

Last Wednesday, August 8, “thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters” attacked 6-October’s media facilities, beat Khaled Salah-chief editor of the privately-owned and secular Youm 7 newspaper-prevented Yusif al-Hassani, an On TV broadcaster, from entering the building, and generally “terrorized the employees.”

El Balad adds that the supporters of Tawfik Okasha, another vocal critic of President Morsi-the one who widely disseminated the graphic video of a Muslim apostate being slaughtered to cries of “Allahu Akbar”-gathered around the presidential palace, only to be surrounded by Brotherhood supporters, who “attacked them with sticks, knives, and Molotov cocktails, crucifying some of them on trees, leading to the deaths of two and the wounding of dozens.”

“Crucified in front of the presidential palace?” One would imagine that something so barbaric done so openly would catch the attention of at least some western news outlets. Or even al-Jazeera, who would almost certainly report such an atrocity. They can’t all want to cover up for the Brotherhood. A story like this is just too juicy to pass up in the name of political correctness or ideology.

A check of the Sky News website shows no story about crucifixions.. In fact, there is no time or date of the crucifixions reported by Ray at all.

These are all red flags that makes me think that this widely disseminated story is, at best, an exaggeration, and at worst, a hoax…

Continue Reading…

Related Story: Raymond Ibrahim and the Islamophobic Cash Cow

The Sham “Terrorism Expert” Industry

Glenn Greenwald

Terrorism: “It is a telling paradox indeed that this central, all-justifying word is simultaneously the most meaningless and therefore the most manipulated. It is, as I have noted before, a word that simultaneously means nothing yet justifies everything.  Indeed, that’s the point: it is such a useful concept precisely because it’s so malleable, because it means whatever those with power to shape discourse want it to mean. ” ~ Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday was Glenn Greenwald’s last day at Salon. He is moving on to grace the pages of the Guardian. Greenwald is a Loonwatch favorite, and we wish him luck and continued success at his new venue.

His last article published at Salon appears below. It is a powerful expose of the “terrorism expert” industry, and it generated an interesting rebuttal at Foreign Policy entitled,”What’s Glenn Greenwald’s Problem?” I personally found Greenwald’s article far more compelling, but have included a link to the rebuttal so readers can judge for themselves.

The sham “terrorism expert” industry

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Shortly prior to the start of the London Olympics, there was an outburst of hysteria over the failure to provide sufficient security against Terrorism, but as Harvard Professor Stephen Walt noted yesterday in Foreign Policy, this was all driven, as usual, by severe exaggerations of the threat: “Well, surprise, surprise. Not only was there no terrorist attack, the Games themselves came off rather well.” Walt then urges this lesson be learned:

[W]e continue to over-react to the “terrorist threat.” Here I recommend you read John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, in the latest issue of International Security. Mueller and Stewart analyze 50 cases of supposed “Islamic terrorist plots” against the United States, and show how virtually all of the perpetrators were (in their words) “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.” They quote former Glenn Carle, former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats saying “we must see jihadists for the small, lethal, disjointed and miserable opponents that they are,” noting further that al Qaeda’s “capabilities are far inferior to its desires.”

In the next paragraph, Walt essentially makes clear why this lesson will not be learned: namely, because there are too many American interests vested in the perpetuation of this irrational fear:

Mueller and Stewart estimate that expenditures on domestic homeland security (i.e., not counting the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan) have increased by more than $1 trillion since 9/11, even though the annual risk of dying in a domestic terrorist attack is about 1 in 3.5 million. Using conservative assumptions and conventional risk-assessment methodology, they estimate that for these expenditures to be cost-effective “they would have had to deter, prevent, foil or protect against 333 very large attacks that would otherwise have been successful every year.” Finally, they worry that this exaggerated sense of danger has now been “internalized”: even when politicians and “terrorism experts” aren’t hyping the danger, the public still sees the threat as large and imminent.  As they conclude:

… Americans seems to have internalized their anxiety about terrorism, and politicians and policymakers have come to believe that they can defy it only at their own peril.  Concern about appearing to be soft on terrorism has replaced concern about seeming to be soft on communism, a phenomenon that lasted far longer than the dramatic that generated it … This extraordinarily exaggerated and essentially delusional response may prove to be perpetual.”

Which is another way of saying that you should be prepared to keep standing in those pleasant and efficient TSA lines for the rest of your life, and to keep paying for far-flung foreign interventions designed to “root out” those nasty jihadis.

Many of the benefits from keeping Terrorism fear levels high are obvious. Private corporations suck up massive amounts of Homeland Security cash as long as that fear persists, while government officials in the National Security and Surveillance State can claim unlimited powers, and operate with unlimited secrecy and no accountability. In sum, the private and public entities that shape government policy and drive political discourse profit far too much in numerous ways to allow rational considerations of the Terror threat.

* * * * *

But there’s a very similar and at least equally important (though far less discussed) constituency deeply vested in the perpetuation of this fear. It’s the sham industry Walt refers to, with appropriate scare quotes, as “terrorism experts,” who have built their careers on fear-mongering over Islamic Terrorism and can stay relevant only if that threat does.

These “terrorism experts” form an incredibly incestuous, mutually admiring little clique in and around Washington. They’re employed at think tanks, academic institutions, and media outlets. They can and do have mildly different political ideologies — some are more Republican, some are more Democratic — but, as usual for D.C. cliques, ostensible differences in political views are totally inconsequential when placed next to their common group identity and career interest: namely, sustaining the myth of the Grave Threat of Islamic Terror in order to justify their fear-based careers, the relevance of their circle, and their alleged “expertise.” Like all adolescent, insular cliques, they defend one another reflexively whenever a fellow member is attacked, closing ranks with astonishing speed and loyalty; they take substantive criticisms very personally as attacks on their “friends,” because a criticism of the genre and any member in good standing of this fiefdom is a threat to their collective interests.

On a more substantive level, any argument (such as Walt’s) that puts the Menace of Islamic Terror into its proper rational perspective — namely, that it pales in comparison to countless other threats (including Terrorism from non-Muslim individuals and states); that it is wildly exaggerated considering what is done in its name; and that it is sustained by ugly sentiments of Islamophobic bigotry — is one that must be harshly denounced. Such an argument not only threatens their relevance but also their central ideology: that Terror is an objective term that just happens almost always to mean Islamic Terror, but never American Terror.

Thus, Walt’s seemingly uncontroversial article was published for not even 24 hours when it was bitterly attacked for hours on Twitter this morning by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, and it’s not hard to see why. Looking at Gartenstein-Ross’s reaction and what drives it sheds considerable light onto this sham “terrorism expert” industry.

Gartenstein-Ross’ entire lucrative career as a “terrorism expert” desperately depends on the perpetuation of the Islamic Terror threat. He markets himself as an expert in Islamic Terror by highlighting that he was born Jewish, converted to Islam while in college, and then Saw the Light and converted to Christianity. During his short stint as a Muslim, he worked at the al-Haramain charity foundation in Oregon — the same one that was found to have been illegally spied upon by the Bush NSA — but became an FBI informant against the group because — as he claimed in a book,”My Year Inside Radical Islam”, which he subsequently wrote to profit off of his conduct — he was horrified by “the group hatreds and anti-intellectualism of radical Islam.”

He is now listed as an “expert” at the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (the group’s list of “experts” is basically a Who’s Who of every unhinged neocon extremist in the country). Gartenstein-Ross is specifically employed by the Foundation as something called “Director of the Center for the Study of Terrorist Radicalization.” According to his own bio, he also “consults for clients who need to be at the forefront of understanding violent non-state actors and twenty-first century conflict” including for “major media companies, and strategic consultations for defense contractors” and “also regularly designs and leads training for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Leader Development and Education for Sustained Peace (LDESP) courses, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance, and domestic law enforcement.”

Unsurprisingly, Gartenstein-Ross — like so many “terrorism experts” in similar positions — is eager to depict Islamic Terror as a serious threat: he knows where his bread his buttered and does not want the personal cash train known as the War on Terror ever to arrive at a final destination. If you were him, would you?

In 2009, he wrote a study entitled “Homegrown Terrorists in the U.S. and U.K.” which, needless to say, was only about Muslims: an “examination of 117 ‘jihadist’ terrorists in the United States and the United Kingdom” which “concludes that religious beliefs” — namely, Islam –”play a role in radicalization.” In 2011, he wrote a book entitled Bin Laden’s Legacy: Why We’re Still Losing the War on Terror, which argues that “despite the death of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda remains a significant threat.” He has hyped the ludicrous alleged Iranian Quds Forces plot against the Saudi Ambassador (explaining that ”Holder weighing in on the plot’s connection to Iran means the administration is deadly serious about it”), and recently touted Nigeria as the “next front in the war on terror.”

To be sure, Gartenstein-Ross is more nuanced and sophisticated than the standard neocon “terror expert” cartoon — his 2011 bin Laden book argues against wasteful counter-terrorism programs that are out of proportion to the actual threat, and he has, to his credit, publicly opposed some of the more crass Islamophobic attacks — but if the War on Islamic Terror disappears, so, too, does his lucrative career as a “terrorism expert.” In that regard, he’s a highly representative figure for this industry.

Walt’s clearly expressed and uncontroversial argument about the exaggerated Terror threat prompted hours of angry derision and personal mockery today from Gartenstein-Ross (who ironically often holds himself out as the Beacon of Civil Discourse). It began this way:

Tweet

 

Gartenstein-Ross then demanded that Muslim Terror be taken more seriously than Walt suggests: “terrorists actually put 3 bombs on passenger planes since 2009.” He was then joined by fellow “natsec” clique members for hours of swarming group mockery aimed at Walt (that’s how they typically behave). Gartenstein-Ross continuedForeign Policy ”should rename Walt’s blog ‘An Ideologue in an Ideological Age.’ The idea he transcends ideological blinders is laughable.” Professor Walt, he then said, is “far less rigorous than his reputation suggests” and “the gap between perception & reality is rather astounding.” Then: “when an academic starts blogging it’s often easy to tell if that ‘authority’ is undeserved.”

All this public impugning of Walt’s reputation, scholarship and character over the crime of pointing out that the threat of Islamic Terror is wildly overstated by people who have an interest in perpetuating the threat. It’s as though Gartenstein-Ross and his friends were eager to jump up, wave their arms, and prove Walt’s argument by identifying themselves as precisely the fear-mongering culprits he was criticizing.

Exactly the same thing happened this week in response to Juan Cole’ssuperb post entitled “Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others,” pointing out all the revealing differences in how white perpetrators of violence are talked about versus non-white (especially Muslim) ones. Cole’s argument was every bit as threatening to the vested interests of the “terror expert” industry as Walt’s was, as it reveals the ugly truth that the hysteria over the Muslim Threat is motivated far more by Islamophobic bigotry and subservience to U.S. Government militarism than any rational policy assessments or high-minded scholarship.
This was too much to bear for J.M. Berger, a self-described “specialist on homegrown extremism” and author of “Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam,” which, in his words, “uncovers the secret history of American jihadists” — meaning Muslims, of course. “American Muslims have traveled abroad to fight in wars because of their religious beliefs,” says the book’s summary. (Symbolizing how relentlessly incestuous this clique is, Gartenstein-Ross randomly took a moment out of his attack on Walt today to pimp what he called Berger’s “valuable book”). Like Gartenstein-Ross, Berger avoids the more overt forms of anti-Muslim rhetoric, often stressing the need to distinguish between Good Muslims and the Terrorist kind, but he spends his time doing things like shrieking about the Towering Menace of Anwar al-Awlaki and generally hopping on whatever Muslim-Terrorism-is-a-Grave-Danger train that comes along.

Berger denounced Cole’s piece as “80 percent BS, 20 percent fair points” and said it was composed of “lazy generalizations.” Specifically, Berger complained that when a Muslim launches a violent attack, there are “whole stories dedicated to AQ being fringe and Islam being peaceful,” but when there’s a violent attack by a white shooter, “no one does stories about how white people are mostly peaceful and non-racist” (apparently, the true victims of unfair media coverage of Terror attacks are white people, not Muslims). He insisted, needless to say, that white perpetrators of violence are depicted as lone nuts while attacks by Muslims are depicted as part of a broader Terror threat only because it’s so true. It’s vital to Berger that Islamic Terror continue to be perceived as a vital, coordinated national security threat or else J.W. Berger and his “expertise” will cease to matter.

The key role played by this “terrorism expert” industry in sustaining highly damaging hysteria was highlighted in an excellent and still-relevant 2007 Washington Post Op-Ed by Zbigniew Brzezinski. In it, he described how the War on Terror has created an all-consuming Climate of Fear in the U.S. along with a systematic, multi-headed policy of discrimination against Muslim Americans based on these severely exaggerated threats…

Continue Reading…

Loon Victory: Muslim Doctor Ousted for FGM Thought Crime

Dr. Hatem al-Haj
Dr. Hatem al-Haj

by Ilisha

All across the Looniverse, hate mongers are congratulating themselves on a stunning victory.

They’ve managed to oust Dr. Hatem (Elhagaly) al-Haj from his role as a pediatrician at the prestigious, US-based Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for nothing more than a thought crime.  There is no evidence Dr. al-Haj has injured, neglected, or in any way harmed any of his patients, and furthermore, there are no formal complaints against him stemming from his practice.

The successful campaign was spearheaded, according to loons, by a lone Jihad Watcher, who garnered hundreds of signatures on a petition submitted to the Mayo Clinic alleging the doctor endorsed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and therefore posed a potential danger to his patients. The “smoking gun” and centerpiece of  the campaign against Dr. al-Haj is a paper he wrote seven years ago as part of his doctoral thesis. The paper was translated from Arabic into English by a notorious translator already exposed as incompetent by Loonwatch here.

The translation appears to be deliberately manipulative, and falsely attributes a quote to Dr. al-Haj saying FGM  is “an honor for women.” It is unclear whether Dr. al-Haj resigned under pressure or was fired by the Mayo Clinic in the wake of the manufactured “controversy,” but it is nevertheless an astounding achievement for bigots devoted to marginalizing Muslims in the West and demonizing Islam.

Dr. al-Haj is the latest victim caught in the crosshairs of a relentless, coordinated campaign to portray Muslims as misogynist and barbaric by falsely attributing FGM to Islam. In fact, FGM does not have its origins in Islam, is not practiced exclusively by Muslims, and is virtually unheard of in many Muslim-majority countries.

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation is a term used by most human rights groups to describe various degrees of genital cutting performed on girls and women. The United Nations categorizes four major types:

Type 1:

Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.

Type 2:

Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

Type 3:

Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).

Type 4:

Others, such as pricking, piercing or incising, stretching, burning the clitoris, scraping of itssue surrounding the vaginal orifice, cutting of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten the opening.

How prevalent are these procedures?

Although bigots always cite the most extreme forms of FGM and the corresponding side effects, Types I and II are most common, accounting for about 85% of all FGM procedures. Type III is mostly confined to Somalia, northern Sudan and Djibouti, and the highest rates of FGM today are found in parts of Africa:

FGM Map

Why is FGM performed?

FGM is sometimes viewed as necessary to control a woman’s sexuality, and though evidence contradicts this notion, some believe FGM helps to to ensure virginity and fidelity by diminishing sexual desire. In some tribal communities, FGM is part of traditional initiation rituals for girls entering womanhood, and continuation of the practice is sometimes bolstered by myths, such as the notion an uncut clitoris will grow to the size of a penis.

In other cases FGM is incorrectly thought to enhance fertility and improve hygiene, and some perceive it as more aesthetically pleasing. Some practitioners also believe it is religiously sanctioned or mandated, and in some communities, it is a prerequisite to marriage.

Is FGM a Muslim problem?

FGM does not have its origins in Islam, but it does need to be discussed among Muslims for several reasons. The practice is widespread in some Muslim majority countries, especially in Africa, and in countries like Somalia and Egypt, large majorities of girls undergo some form of FGM.

There is no direct correlation between religion and FGM. However, Muslims in areas where the practice is common often conflate this cultural inheritance with religion, believing FGM is either mandated or at least recommended, in Islam.

What is the origin of FGM?

Despite the fact many hate sites refer to FGM as “Islamic,” its is an ancient practice that predates Islam by centuries. FGM is thought to have originated under the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt, which is why Type III procedures are sometimes referred to as “pharaonic circumcision.” Archeologists have found circumcised female mummies, and in the fifth century BCE, Herodotus reported the practice among the Phoenicians and Ethiopians, as well as Egyptians, which means FGM predates Christianity as well.

Various forms of female genital cutting have also been traced to parts of Africa, the Philippines, the Upper Amazon in South America, Mexico among the Incas, and to parts of Australia where aborigines performed FGM and in some areas, still do. Female genital cutting also occurred among the early Romans.

In Victorian times, clitoridectomies were performed in Western countries.  The first reported clitoridectomy in the West was carried out in Berlin in 1822 by Isaac Baker Brown, an English gynecologist who was the president of the Medical Society of London. He believed that “unnatural irritation” of the clitoris caused epilepsy, hysteria, and mania, and would remove it whenever he had the opportunity. His views sparked outrage and he was eventually expelled from the Obstetrical Society, though he certainly was not alone in believing removal of the clitoris was a legitimate treatment. As recently as the 1950s, clitoridectomies were sometimes performed in Western Europe and the United States to treat various “ailments,” including hysteria, epilepsy, mental disorders, masturbation, nymphomania, melancholia and lesbianism.

What’s being done to end the practice worldwide?

Fortunately, FGM has already been eradicated in many regions, and in 2003, the United Nations launched the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation as part of a campaign to end the practice worldwide. In recent years, a growing number of countries have passed laws banning FGM. However, laws alone are not enough to eradicate the practice, and may in some cases, merely drive FGM underground.

Firmly entrenched in some societies where it has been practiced for centuries, FGM is viewed as essential by some families, regardless of their religious affiliation. If physicians are banned by law from performing any form of FGM, families sometimes resort to an unlicensed practitioner who may use crude tools in an unsanitary environment, causing further pain, trauma, and potential complications. Stiff penalties also may deter families from seeking proper medical attention if complications arise, further endangering the lives of girls who undergo the procedure despite the ban.

This brings us back to Dr. Al-Haj, who discussed in his paper the “ritual nick” as a possible alternative to other forms of FGM, which in some cases may appease families convinced FGM is necessary without causing permanent harm to the girl or woman. This suggestion caused a firestorm of protest, yet it is noteworthy that the supposedly “radical” position espoused by Dr. al-Haj in his paper was endorsed in 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics as reported in the New York Times. Criticizing a federal law that prohibits all forms of female genital procedures, including the ritual nick, the group said:

It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm. ~ The American Academy of Pediatrics

No matter how adamant and eager activists may be to end the practice, social change is a process, and it takes time. The strategy for eliminating the practice should first and foremost take into account the health and well being of girls and women, and not the politics of bigotry.

The Other Side of the Story

Many of the hate sites crowing about their victory include a link to Dr. al-Haj’s website, despite the fact his thoughtful explanation undermines their case against him:

I have always condemned Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. Moreover, I have unequivocally voiced both orally and in written form the condemnation of all harmful forms of Female Genital Cutting FGC, justifiably known as FGM. Furthermore, I have taught that nothing in Islamic Law and religious texts supports such a heinous crime. In fact, it is repugnant to Islamic principles and values to inflict such trauma and suffering on any female. The severest forms of this practice are akin to killing in Islamic Law.

The statements I have made, that are now being unfairly distorted against me, are those regarding a subtype of Female Genital Cutting FGC, a harmless procedure called the ritual nick. This subtype doesn’t involve any form of clitorectomy. It is merely an incision (or a minimal excision, as explained in the details below) of part of the clitoral hood, the counterpart to the foreskin in males, and does not remove any part of the clitoris. This opinion is scientifically irrefutable and shared by many American non-Muslim pediatricians. It is the position expressed by the Committee on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics. [Pediatrics Vol. 125 No. 5 May 1, 2010 pp. ‎‎1088 -1093‎.], which noted:

“This [the ritual nick] is no more of an alteration than ear piercing. A legitimate concern is that parents who are denied the cooperation of a physician will send their girls back to their home country for a much more severe and dangerous procedure or use the services of a non–medically trained person in North America.”…

The claim that I said, “Female genital mutilation is an honor” is so repugnant. The statement sounds to me like an intractable conflict. However, my opponents have used against me every other logical fallacy in their campaign, such as generalization, poisoning the well, straw man, etc. Therefore, it does not surprise me that they ascribed such statement to me.

Despite my acknowledgment of the harmlessness of the ritual nick, I have unwaveringly discouraged all people from having it done because of its illegality in the US. I have never advised, suggested or encouraged any of my patients or their families to undertake any type of female circumcision, including the ritual nick…

The smear campaigns against me are unfounded in that they are based on religious bias, ignorance and misconceptions of my real positions and actions on the issues at hand. These defamers have misquoted me, taken excerpted words out of context, distorted my position and plainly fabricated lies against me in order to vilify me as some type of evil, backward extremist physician. I am none of these things. Quite the contrary, I give medical care to my young female patients, as I would my own daughters…”

Read the Rest here: http://www.drhatemalhaj.com/

Whatever one thinks of the “lesser evil” of a ritual nick, it doesn’t seem as if mere discussion of the prospect should cost a doctor his job. As Dr. al-Haj has said, and even the loons admit, he has never performed any form of FGM, has never seen any such procedure performed, and has never actually recommended it to any patient. His paper merely provided an overview of Muslim opinion with respect to FGM.

Circumcision in Islam: A Wide Range of Opinions

Hate sites put an emphasis on any evidence they can harvest to suggest FGM is mandated by Sharia (Islamic Law). Fortunately, they are not able to present evidence from the Qur’an, nor reliable hadith, promoting the practice of FGM. They must resort to quoting dubious sources, ranging from uneducated villagers to imams whose credibility is highly questionable, and who are not recognized authorities in the Muslim community. In the absence of a comprehensive global survey, it is impossible to determine how widespread support for FGM is among Muslim scholars. However, it is clear there is a broad range of opinion regarding the practice.

Despite Pamela Geller’s constant reference to “clitoridectomies” as being “Islamic,” there is apparently no credible Muslim scholar who believes removal of the clitoris is mandated in Islam. Based on his interpretation of the ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago, American-born Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller has said that circumcision is mandatory, and includes removing the prepuce of the penis in men and the prepuce of the clitoris in women. His opinion is based not on the Qur’an, but an interpretation of the Sunnah, and he makes it clear that this does not include removal of the clitoris itself. Keller distinguishes between the procedure he advocates, which he refers to as “circumcision,” and what he considers to be female genital mutilation.

Other prominent Muslim scholars have issued fatwas against FGM in all its forms. In 2006, leaders from around the world gathered in Egypt and ruled female circumcision un-Islamic, and the following year, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa against the practice. Gomaa said FGM is not commanded in the Qur’an, nor the hadith, and while it may have been accepted in the past, studies showing dangers to health make it unacceptable today.

Gomaa also pointed out that there is no record of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives or daughters ever having undergone the procedure, and suggested it was an unwelcome innovation stemming from cultural tradition. The full fatwa can be read on his website here.

Gomaa received support from the Grand Sheikh of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, Muhammad Sayyed Thanthawi. Thanthawi said female circumcision is prohibited and cannot be justified on religious grounds. Despite the loons consistent efforts to present inauthentic hadiths as evidence of support for FGM, Thanthawi also confirmed that FGM is justified neither by the Qur’an nor reliable hadith, and further stated that circumcision in Islam applies only to men.

While the circumcision of men is a majority opinion, it is further testament to diversity that some Muslim scholars believe all forms of circumcision are prohibited in Islam. They cite passages in the Qur’an (40:64, 64:3, 95:4, 4:119, and 6:38) as evidence that God created the human being in the desired state, without need for alteration, and argue that circumcision violates the central theme of compassion in Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have been born without a foreskin (aposthetic), and while some Muslims argue boys should be circumcised in order to emulate the Prophet, opponents point out it is possible to glean the opposite message: since the Prophet Muhammad obviously didn’t undergo circumcision, boys today can best follow his example by not being circumcised.

Don’t expect to see this wide range of opinion on the issue of circumcision on hate sites devoted to portraying Muslims as a monolith. Anyone sincerely devoted to ending the practice of FGM should be promoting statements by Grand Mufti Gomaa and like minded scholars to spread the good news FGM is not mandated in Islam. Instead, bigots masquerading as “human rights activists” use their considerable resources to spread the opposite message, putting their agenda ahead of the interests of the girls and women whose rights they pretend to represent.

The Fate of Dr. al-Haj

Emboldened by their ill-conceived victory, anti-Muslim bigots have waged a new campaign aimed at having the doctor’s license to practice medicine revoked as well. Because their baseless accusations can’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny, the new campaign should fail. Unfortunately, in the current climate, where irrationality and knee-jerk reactions often prevail, they may very well succeed in sacrificing Dr. al-Haj’s career and reputation on the alter of anti-Muslim bigotry.

It is shocking and disappointing that the Mayo Clinic would take action based on this devious and dishonest witch hunt. Dr. al-Haj is guilty of nothing more than being a Muslim and engaging in a “thought crime,” perpetrated years ago in a paper written as part of his doctoral thesis. If the prestigious Mayo Clinic is willing to cave into a few loud-mouthed bigots based on a campaign of lies and distortions, what’s next for Western Muslims?