Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools Prank? I Don't Think So:
Islam Watch Reports Imam's Bloodthirsty Beliefs

A disturbing news report is starting to circulate in the blogosphere.

One version:
"Report: Non-Muslims Deserve to Be Punished"
FOXNews.com (April 1, 2008)

It leads with: "A report posted on Islam Watch, a site run by Muslims who oppose intolerant teachings and hatred for unbelievers, exposes a prominent Islamic cleric and lawyer who support extreme punishment for non-Muslims — including killing and rape."

What follows is a chilling set of excerpts from a page on Islam Watch, repeating a London imam's statements about the proper treatment of non-Muslims.

A Lesson to Learn: Always Check Your Source

The original Islam Watch report is quite likely accurate: and it links to a 3 minute, 40 second interview video in which the beliefs reflected in the report are confirmed in general, if not in detail.

The news report, however, contains a serious error. Islam Watch is described as "a site run by Muslims who oppose intolerant teachings ...."

Islam Watch's 'about us' page ("Who are we?") Reads in part: "We are a group of Muslim apostates who have left Islam out of our own conviction when we discovered that the religion of Islam is not a religion at all. Most of us had taken a prolong period of time to study, evaluate, reflect and contemplate on this religion of our birth. ..."

There's a considerable difference between "Muslim" and self-described "Muslim apostate."1 People who, for whatever reason, turn away from the faith into which they were born may exaggerate or over-generalize flaws in the familial faith.

Apostate, Shmapostate, What's the Big Deal?

In news reporting, accuracy tends to encourage belief. Lack of accuracy does the opposite. If you read an article about American history that started with the words, "Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary War hero...", would you be more or less inclined to believe the rest?

I think there are two dangers here:
  1. Dismissing Islam Watch's report, because of the reporting error - or for other reasons
  2. Taking Islam Watch's report on the Imam as being representative of all Islam.
Muslims Against Sharia," for example, is an organization of (non-apostate) Muslims whose stated goals are to educate
  • Muslims about dangers presented by Islamic religious texts and why Islam must be reformed
  • Non-Muslims about the differences between moderate Muslims and Islamists (a.k.a. Islamic Religious Fanatics, Radical Muslims, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamic Extremists or Islamofascists)
  • Both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Moderate Muslims are also targets of Islamic Terror
That's a far cry from the 'kill the infidel! Rape his women!' policy of Imam Abdul Makin.

Finally, Something About the Islam Watch Report

A London Imam has been making statements that my pagan ancestors, a dozen centuries or so back, would have recognized as being similar to their own customs and beliefs. They might have decided to do unto him and his, before he had a chance to do unto them, but I don't think they'd have been very shocked by his words.

That was then. Christian missionaries, the Magna Carta, and several centuries of social and administrative reform changed the culture of Europe> One of Europe's more successful colonies, America, took those changes and made some more.

Imam Abdul Makin and his predecessors don't seem to have been in the loop.

Here's part of what Islam Watch had to say:

"London Imam's Attempt to Carry Out Sunna Gone Awry"
Islam Watch (March 22, 2008)

"During a question answer session in East London Mosque, preacher Imam Abdul Makin was asked by a niqabi muslima about recent fatwa from a well known Imam.

"Naqabi Woman: 'One eyed hooked Imam Hamza Mesri said muslims can kill British infidels and have sex with their wives and daughters, Do you agree with him?'

"Imam: 'It is not what Imam Hamza said nor is there a question of my agreeing with him or not. It is in Quran thus those are Allah's orders.'

"N.W.: 'But why would Allah tell muslims to kill and rape innocent non muslims?'

"Imam: 'Because Non-muslims are never innocent, they are guilty of denying Allah and his prophet. If you don’t believe me, here is the legal authority, the top muslim lawyer of Britain, Anjem Choudhary (Video).'

"N.W. 'But our Prophet was sent as a mercy for all the humanity; he never hurt any body in his life'

"Imam: 'Yes he never hurt a muslim in his life. But Allah said non-muslim are lowest beasts and worst creatures in ayas 8.22,8.55,95.5 and 98.6 and muslim are ordered to kill them.' "

Finally, that 3:40 interview video on YouTube is an informative, if unpleasant, experience. The Muslim leader, asked if he would condemn new attacks on London said: "No, I can never condemn a Muslim brother. I would never condemn a Muslim brother. I will always stand with my Muslim brother ... whether he is an oppressor, or oppressed."

That's Scary, But is it Islam?

I'd like to think that Imam Hamza Mesri is as much like many other Muslim leaders, as James Warren "Jim" Jones was to Billy Graham. The existence of groups like Muslims Against Sharia and individuals like Mahathir Mohamad make me think that there are many followers of Islam who can tolerate the presence of people who aren't exactly like them. Maybe, enough to counteract people like the London imam.
1 (Apostate: "One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause." - The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, on Bartleby.com)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.