Marisol seems to be taking over the writing duties today at Jihad Watch as Spencer heads off somewhere in the distance, no doubt wearing his Superman cape to fight for the beleaguered West against the Muslim hordes.
In similar Police blotter fashion as her teacher Spencer, Marisol writes today about a story of some Saudi judge who was embezzling funds and then went and blamed it on someone bewitching him with a Jinn (genie). It is a classic corruption case and when the individual was caught he cried, “the devil made me do it.” The difference here is she blames Islamic belief in the existence of magic for his corrupt actions.
The truth however is that this belief in magic is found in other religions, not least Robert Spencer’s own Christianity, and doesn’t in any way allow for a carte blanche cover to commit criminal activity. What’s to blame is the flawed, nepotistic Saudi judicial system and not Islam.
Imagine the hoopla if these children who are accused and murdered as witches and practitioners of magic were Muslim? Spencer and co. would have a field day:
More African Churches are dealing with the troubling problem of Christian pastors torturing and executing “witch children” in the name of their faith. Quite a disturbing phenomena to say the least. The Huffington Post reports (hat tip: Tomas):
The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall.
His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him – Mount Zion Lighthouse.
A month later, he died.
Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. Other practices include beating with sticks, sawing or driving a nail into children’s heads, burying or burning them alive, forcing them to eat cement, and other grizzly acts of merciless cruelty. (Note: burying children alive is specifically forbidden by the Qur’an, see verses 81:8-9). The parishioners take very literally and seriously the Biblical injunction:
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. (Exodus 22:18)
Since these Christians quote scripture to justify their misdeeds, we must conclude that this is a mainstream “orthodox” Christian practice, right?
Wrong. It is definitely not a mainstream “orthodox” Christian practice, as the Post reports:
“It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,” said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria.
Bishop A.D. Ayakndue, the head of the church in Nigeria, said pastors were encouraged to pray about witchcraft, but not to abuse children.
“We pray over that problem (of witchcraft) very powerfully,” he said. “But we can never hurt a child.”
Reasonable people should be able to conclude that such practices are an aberration which goes against the well-known Biblical commandment to be merciful and love one’s neighbor.
But what if they were Muslim?
UWe’d expect the anti-Muslim blogosphere to erupt in self-righteous indignation, led by JihadWatch and AtlasShrugs, citing a few Islamic scriptures, maybe an archaic medieval Muslim law manual (all in ready-made English translations of course because, as we know, Spencer holds no degree in Arabic nor is he proficient in the language). From this handful of cherry-picked evidence, we’d be given the horribly stereotyped determination that such an aberrational practice is standard, normative, traditional, mainstream, “orthodox” Islam accepted by all interpretations of Islamic law. Of course, this would again conveniently ignore abundant evidence to the contrary. But when has Spencer ever played fair?
Christians rightly condemn the practice of murdering “witch children,” despite the citation and literal interpretation of Exodus, because as we know Christianity has a vibrant interpretive tradition. So it is clearly unfair to take any Christian religious nut at face value when they cite the Old Testament. If we used this incident to indict all of Christianity in all times and all places forever, Spencer and his company would cry foul by pointing to the Christian interpretive tradition.
Not so with Islam. In fact, Spencer’s entire million-dollar hate-blogging Muslim-bashing brainwashing industry critically depends on denying mainstream Islamic interpretive tradition. As Dr. Robert Crane rightly put it:
Spencer’s readers are carefully steered away from all contact with the Islamic interpretative tradition, which equals or exceeds that of any other religion, because any scholarly knowledge about Islam would expose all his extremist interpretations to ridicule.
Bottom line: it is unfair and deeply hypocritical to apply one mild standard to Christianity and another harsher standard to Islam. We don’t take these children murdering Christians at face value when they cite their scripture as justification, so why should we take Al-Qaeda at face value when they cite the Qur’an?
But what do I know. Aren’t I just a liberal-dhimmi/stealth-jihadist?
“Acclaimed scholar” on Islam (chuckle…chuckle), Robert Spencer is at it again using his pseudo-scholarly approach when it comes to Islam. In a recent post on his website, Robert Spencer wrote:
Muhammad Al-Arifi is an Islamic cleric. He has devoted his life to studying the Qur’an and Islam. And somehow he has gotten the crazy idea that the Qur’an says that Muslims should fight against unbelievers, subjugate them, and make them pay the jizya. Now, whenever non-Muslims point this out, they’re called bigoted, hateful, and ignorant of Islam. So is Muhammad Al-Arifi a self-hating Muslim who Misunderstands Islam and just narrowly avoided flunking out of his seminary? Or could it be that the “bigotry,” “hate” and “ignorance” charges are just smokescreens designed to bamboozle the unwary into not realizing that the truth is being told?
He then goes on to quote this heretofore unknown Muslim cleric’s views on “killing the infidels” and projects them upon all of Islam. It is exactly as Ahmed Rehab in his piece about Spencer said:
The Set Up: Spencer and his associates scour the web for the most sensational and extreme expressions within the Muslim world. They may be related to a certain extremist interpretation of Islam, or may not even have anything to do with Islam altogether, but that won’t matter, so long as the perpetrator is a Muslim, it will do.
The Performance: Spencer then supplants his own commentary on the story which he meticulously crafts with the ultimate goal of convincing his readers that the bizarre incident in question is representative of the faith of Islam and Muslims at large. This subtle leap of faith that he hopes no one notices is the key to his magic act.
The Prestige: He can then rightly claim, with the innocence of a schoolboy, that he does not make up the material he produces, that he is merely quoting things as is, hoping no one notices that he uses the aberrant to define the normative.
So, just because this one cleric believes that Muslims should “fight the unbelievers,” that is the truth, and all the evidence in Islam to the contrary is just a “smokescreen.” Continue reading →
Ali Hussain Sibat, a Lebanese national and fortune teller, was recently arrested in Saudi Arabia and charged with the “crime” of sorcery. Many sincere human rights groups raised awareness about his case, and international outrage prompted the Saudi government to issue him a stay of execution. Islamophobes, such as Robert Spencer, have chosen to exploit Mr. Sibat’s plight to demonize Islam and Muslims. For those of us living in the West, the arrest of a “sorcerer” seems beyond insane, and it is quite easy for the Islamophobes to use this incident to reinforce negative stereotypes of Muslims: “wow, those Moozlems must be really backwards.”
Yet, few Westerners realize that witch hunts are now an international problem…and it is not an area of concern limited to Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia. Would it interest the Catholic apologist Robert Spencer to know that witch hunts are much more prevalent amongst Christians than Muslims? Some Evangelicals continue to take the Bible quite literally, following its commandment: “Thou shalt not allow a sorceress to live” (Exodus, 22:18), and “sorcerers amongst you must be put to death” (Leviticus, 20:27). The Huffington Post recently wrote a piece on the upsurge of witch hunts in Africa brought on by hardliner Evangelicals:
African Children Denounced As “Witches” By Christian Pastors
…Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files. [Exodus, 22:18]
…The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire.
Nigeria is one of the heartlands of abuse, but hardly the only one: the United Nations Children’s Fund says tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa.
Saudi Arabia has recently arrested one individual for the “crime” of sorcery (it seems about five people in the last few years), and the Islamophobes like Robert Spencer have expressed their ardent outrage. Yet, there were “15,000 children [who] have been accused…and around 1,000 have been murdered” by Christians in Africa…Where is your outrage, Mr. Spencer? If we must conclude that Islam is the most dastardly of religions due to the persecution of a handful of people in Saudi Arabia, then should we not conclude the same for Christianity when there were 15,000 who stood accused and 1,000 executed recently?
Christian witch hunts are not limited to Africa. In Papua New Guinea, a country which is 96% Christian, the government passed the 1976 Sorcery Act, which prescribes imprisonment for the practice of black magic. An article written in 2009 details how one hundred “witches” were executed in Papua New Guinea in just the last year. Witch hunts have in recent years taken place in Haiti, again by Christians (in this case aimed against non-Christians); a human rights lawyer told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that “literal witch hunts have been launched [by Evangelical Christians] against priests and practitioners of this [traditional Haitian] religion.” Similar witch hunts have been launched in Kenya, Nepal, and other regions, reaching a global stage:
“Murder and persecution of women and children accused of being witches is spreading around the world and destroying the lives of millions of people, experts said Wednesday … “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp of the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR told a seminar organized by human rights officials of the world body.”
According to some U.N. experts tracking the issue “at least” tens of thousands have died due to witch hunts, while millions have been beaten, abused, isolated, and turned into refugees. While economic hardship is given as a reason for the recent escalation in witch-related violence, experts at the UNHCR also claim that the rise can also be attributed to”religious practitioners” who exploit local fears and superstitions.
“Some religious practitioners make a living from exorcising alleged witches and charging exorbitant fees to those who request the ritual. In Foxcroft’s experience, the most vulnerable members of society – children and the elderly – are often the victims of these accusations.”
“Witchcraft is still widely practiced in many countries in Africa by witchdoctors who often use human body parts in their spells. Some witchdoctors employ gangs of young men to attack and kill victims, often young children, for their body parts, which are frequently removed while the victim is still alive. An estimated 300 people are killed each year in South Africa alone as a result of this practice. But horrific though this practice is, it is only part of the problem. In Nigeria, in both the Muslim North and the Christian South, witch hunts are not uncommon and this has led to a second form of abuse. Some unscrupulous pastors, many linked to Pentecostal churches, have a lucrative trade in making unfounded accusations of witchcraft against young children. [The pastors then agree to “cure” the witches for a substantial fee. Many children are being ostracized and abandoned by their parents as a result of these accusations.]“
Reuters – Murder and persecution of women and children accused of being witches is spreading around the world and destroying the lives of millions of people, experts said Wednesday.
And community workers from Nepal and Papua New Guinea told the seminar, on the fringes of a session of the U.N.’s 47-member Human Rights Council, that “witch-hunting” was now common, both in rural communities and larger population centres.
The experts — United Nations officials, civil society representatives from affected countries and non-governmental organization (NGO) specialists working on the issue — urged governments to acknowledge the extent of the persecution.
“This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp of the U.N.’s refugee agency UNHCR told a seminar organized by human rights officials of the world body.
Aides to U.N. special investigators on women’s rights and on summary executions said killings and violence against alleged witch women — often elderly people — were becoming common events in countries ranging from South Africa to India.
Witch hunts are of course not limited to Christians. An article written in 2006 discusses how 10 witches were killed in India in the past year alone. Here is a CNN report that shows an Indian woman being punished by a Hindu mob, on grounds of her being a witch:
The purpose here is not to bash Christianity, Hinduism, or any other religion. It’s simply to point out that witch hunts are a problem throughout the world. If you just follow Islamophobic sources like Robert Spencer, you’d come to think that the only “culprits” are Muslims, but like I said before: it’s simply not true. The selective outrage of Spencer et al. shows that they don’t really care about human rights at all. Their indignation is not principled, but political in nature. Let me, however, not mince words: as a self-proclaimed progressive, I support human rights groups that seek to rid the world of witch hunts, be they in Muslim majority Saudi Arabia or Christian majority areas of Africa.
Islamophobes will claim that the Prophet Muhammad said: “The punishment for the magician is that he be struck by the sword.” So, they argue, isn’t Saudi Arabia just following Islam? Isn’t it Islam that is the problem? Well, first off, I already reproduced what the Bible says about sorcerers, which is to kill them. (Note: the Quran does not mention any worldly punishment for sorcerers.) Therefore, we could use the same line of argumentation here: the Nigerian Evangelicals are just doing what the Bible commanded them to do, and as such, Christianity itself is the problem. (Of course, I reject such a simplistic view.)
With regard to the saying (hadith) attributed to the Islamic prophet, it is found in Sunan al-Tirmidhi. The compiler of said hadith, namely al-Tirmidhi, commented on this hadith as follows: “The correct saying is that it is mawquf .” According to the Islamic science of hadith, this term mawquf means “stopped” and what this means is that the chain of transmission does not reach the Prophet Muhammad (but rather stops before it reaches him). Said in simpler terms: the Prophet Muhammad is not the one who said it.
Yes, the Prophet forbade sorcery (in line with the Abrahamic belief of relying on God alone for any form of supernatural help–what Muslims refer to as tawhid) and called it a form of fraud. However, not a single statement can be authentically attributed to him in which he calls for a corporal punishment against a sorcerer. In fact, a self-proclaimed sorcerer by the name of Labeed ibn al-Asam tried to do black magic on the Prophet in order to hurt him. When his wife asked him why he didn’t seek any retaliation or punishment against Labeed, the Prophet Muhammad replied by saying: “I hate to cause harm to anyone.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
After the Prophet Muhammad’s death, the early Muslims introduced corporal punishment for witches, but it never became nearly as big an issue as in the Christian world, where–according to an estimate by A.L. Barstow in Witchcraze–up to 100,000 witches were executed from the year 1480 to 1700. Indeed, laws against sorcerers (or whatever you want to call them) fell into disuse in the Islamic world. Today, aside from Saudi Arabia, it has become largely a non-issue. One need only walk down the streets of Pakistan or Egypt to see this quite clearly: on every other corner sits some fortune teller or other occultist.
While I was doing the research for this article, I stumbled upon this documentary, which depicts quite graphically the victims of witch hunts in Africa. Clearly, the problem is not limited to Muslims.