Archive for the ‘Islamist freedom’ category

The Great Price of “Blaspheming” against Muhammad

May 15, 2017

The Great Price of “Blaspheming” against Muhammad, Gatestone InstituteRaymond Ibrahim, May 14, 2017

Because the word of a Christian “infidel” is not valid against the word of a Muslim, accusations of blasphemy, often with little or no evidence, routinely lead to the beating, imprisonment, and possible killing of Christians and other minorities every month in Pakistan.

“The available evidence in all these cases suggests that charges were brought as a measure to intimidate and punish members of minority religious communities… hostility towards religious minority groups appeared in many cases to be compounded by personal enmity, professional or economic rivalry or a desire to gain political advantage.” — Amnesty International.

“Iran sentences a 21-year-old man to death for ‘insulting Islam’ … after confessing when police promised he would be pardoned if he came clean.” — Daily Mail.

A few days ago in Pakistan, a Christian pastor who has been “tortured every day in prison” since 2012 when he was first incarcerated, was sentenced to life in prison. Zafar Bhatti, 51, is accused of sending “blasphemous” text messages from his mobile phone; but human rights activists contend that the charge “was fabricated to remove him from his role as a Pastor.” His wife, Nawab Bibi, says:

“Many Muslim people hated how quickly his church was growing; they have taken this action to undermine his work. Yet despite their actions the church grows. I wish our persecutors would see that Christians are not evil creatures. We are human beings created by God the same God that created them although they do not know this yet.”

She adds, “There have been numerous attempts to kill my husband — he is bullied everyday and he is not safe from inmates and prison staff alike.” In 2014, he “narrowly escaped assassination after a rogue prison officer,” Muhammad Yousaf, went on a shooting spree “to kill all inmates accused of blasphemy against Islam.”

Bhatti is one of countless Christian minorities to suffer under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has helped make that country the fourth-worst nation in the world in which to be Christian.

Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother, has been on death row since 2010 on the accusation that she insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code:

“Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Because the word of a Christian “infidel” is not valid against the word of a Muslim, accusations of blasphemy, often with little or no evidence, routinely lead to the beating, imprisonment or killing of Christians and other minorities every month in Pakistan.[1] An Amnesty International report from 1994 summarizes the situation:

Several dozen people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan over the last few years; in all the cases known to Amnesty International, the charges of blasphemy appear to have been arbitrarily brought, founded solely on the individuals’ minority religious beliefs… The available evidence in all these cases suggests that charges were brought as a measure to intimidate and punish members of minority religious communities… hostility towards religious minority groups appeared in many cases to be compounded by personal enmity, professional or economic rivalry or a desire to gain political advantage. As a consequence, Amnesty International has concluded that most of the individuals now facing charges of blasphemy, or convicted on such charges, are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their real or imputed religious beliefs in violation of their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Other Christians accused of blasphemy never get the chance for even a mock trial and are dealt “justice” at the hands of angry mobs — such as the young Christian couple burned alive on a spurious accusation of blasphemy in November 2014. A report from 2012 found that “Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy” in Pakistan.

Last month, three burqa-wearing sisters shot and killed a man accused of committing blasphemy in 2004. “[W]e couldn’t kill him at the time because we were too young then,” they explained.

Also last month, a 23-year-old college student “was killed and another seriously injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly ‘publishing blasphemous content online.'” The incident occurred on campus; the mob was yelling “Allahu Akbar” throughout.

Although Islam’s blasphemy law is most associated with Pakistan, several other Muslim nations use it to persecute Christians and other minorities. Days ago, around the same time Bhatti was being sentenced to life in Pakistan, in Indonesia, Ahok, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was sentenced to two years in prison on the charge of insulting Islam and desecrating the Koran.[2] Similarly, on March 30, a report appeared saying, “Iran sentences a 21-year-old man to death for ‘insulting Islam’ … after confessing when police promised he would be pardoned if he came clean.”

JAKARTA, INDONESIA – MAY 09: Members of various hardline Muslim groups celebrate after Jakarta’s Governor was convicted of committing blasphemy on May 9, 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Hardline Muslim groups gathered outside Jakarta’s court during the trial of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Pernama known widely as “Ahok”, who was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday after being found guilty of blasphemy as the trial continues to threaten social harmony in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. (Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images)

Earlier this year in Algeria, Samir Chamek, a 34-year-old Christian man, was sentenced to a year in prison after a court found him “guilty of insulting Islam and its prophet over items he posted on his Facebook page.” They were described as “accusing the prophet Muhammad of terrorism and murder and comparing the prophet to Hitler, mentioning the persecution and massacre of the Jews.” Also in Algeria, last August, a Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to the maximum five years in prison for saying that the light of Jesus will outshine Islam and its prophet Muhammad on social media, which the court ruled as “blasphemous.”

In October, in Ethiopia, four Christian girls — aged 18, 15, 14, and 14 — handed out a booklet entitled, “Let’s speak the truth in love.” Because it challenged Islamic accusations against Christianity, local Muslims deemed the book blasphemous and rioted. They attacked a church and assaulted Christians. The girls were arrested and, after a brief court hearing on November 15, sentenced to a month in prison.

As in Pakistan, Muslims mobs and “vigilantes” often take “the law” into their own hands. In March, in India, a Muslim-turned-atheist “was hacked to death by a four-member gang” of Muslims. Last September, a Christian writer and activist was murdered outside of a courthouse in Jordan. The 56-year-old man was earlier arrested for sharing a “blasphemous” cartoon about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. As he was walking into court to stand trial for “contempt of religion” and “inciting sectarian strife,” a man dressed in traditional Muslim garb shot him to death.

Last August, in Nigeria, after two university students got into an argument, the Muslim student accused the Christian student of insulting Muhammad. Soon a mob of Muslims assembled and said the Christian must die. Then they savagely beat and nearly killed him. The following day, mobs of Muslims rioted and vandalized Christian campuses and churches.

Such nonstop accusations, incarcerations, murders, torture and death penalties meted out to non-Muslims on the mere accusation of “blasphemy” — at the hands of mobs, vigilantes, and court judges — call into question any claims of tolerance, modernity or pluralism in many Muslim-majority nations.

Raymond Ibrahim is the author ofCrucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians(published by Regnery with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

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[1] At least one but often more blasphemy-related cases appear practically every month in Pakistan and are documented in the monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians” reports. The following are incidents that occurred in the last report, January 2017:

  • An evangelical Christian was arrested on charges of blasphemy and faces the death penalty. According to a complaint by a Muslim, Haji Nadeem, Shahbaz Babu desecrated the Koran by writing his name on some pages, tearing them up and then scattering them on the street in front of a mosque. Although the Muslim admits he did not see the accused in the act, Babu—whom rights activists say is “completely illiterate”—was nonetheless arrested. In a nation where the mere accusation that an infidel insulted Islam could get the non-Muslim killed by the mob, executed by the state or simply imprisoned, Babu’s defenders wonder at the notion that he “is supposed to have desecrated the Qurʾān in secret, but then left the evidence for everyone to see.” Others say that he was disliked by the mosque because several members had stopped attending it and listening to the evangelist who is popular in his region.
  • An imam in Lambanwali accused an elderly Christian of writing and sending to him a series of “derogatory letters” in which he defamed Islamic prophet Muhammad. Once the blasphemy accusation was made, police promptly stormed the Christian’s home in the night and arrested his entire family. Although the man denies the accusation—correctly pointing out that only a suicide would do what he is accused of doing in Pakistan—he “is likely to face an imprisonment of 10 years while there are assumptions that Section 295-C might be invoked in order to aggravate the punishment to death penalty,” said the report.
  • A blasphemy case was registered against Shaan Taseer—son of Salman Taseer, a human rights activist and defender of persecuted Christians who was assassinated by Muslims—for saying “Merry Christmas.”
  • Five Christian rights activists were known for their public opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws all went missing within the same week.

[2] The blasphemy controversy erupted when a video appeared online of Ahok saying that many Muslims misunderstand Koran 5:51 — which commands Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians. That a Christian would dare try to distort the Koran’s call for hostility against Christians and Jews in order to boost his chances at reelection was deemed blasphemous enough to prompt mass riots and calls for his death in Indonesia.

A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny?

April 26, 2017

 A Palestinian State or an Islamist Tyranny? Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, April 26, 2017

Abbad Yahiya’s novel takes aim at Palestinian taboos such as fanaticism, Islamic extremism and homosexuality. The novel’s publisher has been arrested and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yahiya.

The head of the Union of Palestinian Writers, Murad Sudani, attacked the writer and called for an exemplary punishment. Ghassan Khader, a Facebook user, wrote on his page that Yahiya “should be killed”.

We could go on with this list of Palestinian intellectuals who paid a high price for daring to speak the truth to Mahmoud Abbas and his corrupt circle on many issues: coexistence with the Jews, secularism, sexual freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, or telling the truth about the Holocaust.

A Palestinian state created with the current Palestinian Authority would destroy freedom of conscience for journalists and writers; exile Christians and homosexuals; torture Arab inmates; impose sharia as the only law, and put people to death for “atheism” and “apostasy” (read, conversion to Christianity).

From the United Nations to the European Union and the mainstream press, it seems that the Jews living in Judea and Samaria are the obstacle for the Middle East coexistence. But have these well-known “observers” really observed what is going on in the areas self-governed by the Palestinian Authority, and that two-thirds of the world’s nations want to turn into another Arab-Islamic state?

Recently, one of the brightest Palestinian novelists, Abbad Yahiya, saw his fourth book, Crime in Ramallah, seized by the Palestinian police in the West Bank. The order came from Palestinian Attorney General Ahmed Barak, who ruled that the book “threatens morality“. The novel’s publisher was arrested and a warrant was issued for Yahiya’s arrest.

When Palestinian novelist Abbad Yahiya recently published his fourth book, Crime in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority police seized all copies the book, claiming it “threatens morality”. The novel’s publisher was arrested and a warrant was issued for Yahiya’s arrest. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

His novel revolves around the murder of a Palestinian girl in Ramallah, and follows the lives of three other boys, from a homosexual to a drinker of alcohol. The novel takes aim at Palestinian taboos such as fanaticism, Islamic extremism and homosexuality. The young gay protagonist of the novel ends up moving to France.

“I do not know what to do”, said Yahiya, who fled to Qatar. “If I return, I will be arrested”.

The head of the Union of Palestinian Writers, Murad Sudani, attacked Yahiya and called for an exemplary punishment as happened with Boris Pasternak and other Soviet novelists. According to Sudani, Yahiya’s novel “violates national and religious values”. He went on to say that “my freedom as a writer ends when the freedom of the country begins”. So Palestinian writers should behave like the Soviet “engineers of souls”, then at the service of Communism, now of Islamic extremism and the Palestinian war against Israel.

Yahiya was also threatened on social media. Ghassan Khader, a Facebook user, wrote on his page that Yahiya “should be killed“. Yahiya should apparently meet the same fate of the Algerian writer Tahar Djaout, murdered by Islamists in 1994. Yahiya’s publisher, Fuad Akleek, was arrested in a library “in a very humiliating way”. The Palestinian police are reported to have entered five hundred libraries and bookshops of the West Bank to seize all the copies of the novel.

Yahiya’s fate is reminiscent of many others under the Palestinian Authority:

  • Waleed al Husseini is a Palestinian blogger who has spent ten months in a Palestinian prison for the same “crime” as the one for which the Charlie Hebdo magazine’s journalists were murdered: “Blasphemy”. Like the gay man in Yahiya’s novel, Waleed now lives in France, protected and blessed by Europe’s freedom.
  • Haidar Ghanem, the Palestinian human rights activist, was less lucky. He was shot to death by Islamic extremists.
  • Mohammed Dajani, the Palestinian professor who took his students on a field trip to Auschwitz, had to resign to save his own life after months-long campaign of death threats, campus riots and intimidation. He broke the Palestinian taboo of Holocaust denial. “I put my job on the line to expose the double-talk we live”, Dajani told Haaretz. “We say we are for democracy and we practice autocracy, we say we are for freedom of speech and academic freedom, yet we deny people to practice it”.
  • Many Palestinian Christian activists have also been found dead.

We could go on with this list of Palestinian intellectuals who paid a high price for daring to speak the truth to Abbas and his corrupt circle on many issues: coexistence with the Jews, secularism, sexual freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, or telling the truth about the Holocaust.

Famous Israeli writers such as David Grossman, Amos Oz and Abraham Yehoshua, the “peaceniks” most pampered by the Western newspapers, should, instead of blaming their own country, ask themselves what Abbad Yahiya’s case means for the Arab-Israeli conflict, and if they should denounce the Palestinian Authority for what it is doing to him.

What happened to Yahiya’s novel contains the real reason for the failed negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Negotiations did not founder over few houses in Judea and Samaria. The failure is the result of the abyss between an open society, Israel, and a closed regime, the Palestinian entity; between a democracy based on Western liberal principles and a gangster autocracy based on an Islamic dictatorship determined to destroy the Jewish state.

And that abyss is just four kilometers wide, the distance between the Palestinian town of Tulkarem and the Israeli city of Netanya.

A Palestinian State created with the current Palestinian Authority would ethnically cleanse Jews, as Jordan did when it attacked and seized Jerusalem in 1948.

It would be led by Holocaust-enablers such as Hamas, or by a Holocaust-denier such as Mahmoud Abbas. It would destroy freedom of conscience for journalists and writers; exile Christians and homosexuals (hundreds of Palestinian gays now live beyond Israel’s security fence); torture Arab inmates; continue to accept funding from Iran and Sunni Islamic extremists in the name of “the caliphate or death”; impose sharia (Islamic law) as the only law; put people to death for “atheism” and “apostasy” (read, conversion to Christianity). It would most likely oblige women to wear burqas and hijabs as in Saudi Arabia; commemorate terrorists and baby-killers who butchered 1,500 Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada; abolish democratic elections; fill libraries with anti-Semitic and anti-Western books; ban alcohol in public, and ask plainclothes officers to stop young couples to show marriage licenses, as in Iran.

How would you describe that state, if not as a carbon copy of a Nazi government? And what is the only country that would allow the creation of such a state on its own shoulders? The world’s only Jewish State? Of course.

As a Muslim, I am Shocked by Liberals and Leftists

March 25, 2017

As a Muslim, I am Shocked by Liberals and Leftists, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, March 25, 2017

(Please see also, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh: Why the Islamist State of Iran is So Dangerous. — DM)

It is the fear of this violence, torture and death, wielded by extremist Muslims, that keeps every person desperate to obey.

If liberals are in favor of freedom of speech, why do they turn a blind eye to Islamist governments such as Iran, which execute people for expressing their opinion? And why do they not let people in the West express their opinion without attacking them or even giving them the respect of hearing what they have to say? They seem, in fact, like the autocratic people from whom I was fleeing, who also did not want their simplistic, binary way of thinking to be threatened by logic or fact.

As, in Islam, one is not allowed to attack except to defend the prophet or Islam, extremist Muslims need to keep finding or creating supposed attacks to make themselves appear as victims.

Finally, a short message to liberals might go: Dear Liberal, If you truly stand for values such as peace, social justice, liberty and freedoms, your apologetic view of radical Islam is in total contradiction with all of those values. Your view even hinders the efforts of many Muslims to make a peaceful reformation in Islam precisely to advance the those values.

If you had grown up, as I did, between two authoritarian governments — the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria — under the leadership of people such as Hafez al Assad, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you would have seen your youth influenced by two major denominations of Islam in the Muslim world: the Shia and the Sunni. I studied both, and at one point was even a devout Muslim. My parents, who still live in Iran and Syria, come from two different ethnic Muslim groups: Arab and Persian.

You also would have seen how the religion of Islam intertwines with politics, and how radical Islam rules a society through its religious laws, sharia. You would have witnessed how radical Islam can dominate and scrutinize people’s day-to-day choices: in eating, clothing, socializing, entertainment, everything.

You would have seen the tentacles of its control close over every aspect of your life. You would have seen the way, wielded by fundamentalists, radical Islam can be a powerful tool for unbridled violence. It is the fear of this violence, torture, and death, wielded by extremist Muslims, that keeps every person desperate to obey.

My father was brutally tortured — justified by some of the fundamentalist Islamic laws of the ruling governments in both Iran and Syria. The punishment extended to my mother, my family, and other relatives, who were tormented on a regular basis.

What was even more painful was, upon coming to the West, seeing the attitude of many people who label themselves liberals and leftists, towards radical Islam.

These liberals seem to view themselves as open-minded, but they have a preconceived way of thinking about Islam: to them, it seems, there is no radical Islam, Islam is only a force for the good, Islam can do no evil.

How could they not see the way extremist Muslims exploit some aspects of the religion of Islam to legitimize its acts? How could they not even acknowledge that radical Islam, a force that threatens to destroy the planet, let alone my family, exists?

Instead, many liberals would criticize me or attempt to turn a blind eye, as if I were accidentally making some embarrassing mistake. They seemed instead to love being surrounded by Western Muslim “scholars”, those who are apologetic towards radical Islam and — notably — have never actually lived in a Muslim country under the strangling grip of the official fundamentalist laws, sharia.

Why do many liberals, who criticize Christianity and religious conviction in general, appear to open their arms to radical Islam so affectionately? Why are so many liberals, who call themselves the robust defenders of peace, social justice, and freedoms, apologetic for all types of fundamentalist Islamist laws?

If, as liberals argue, they support women’s and LGBT rights, why, by their silence, do they condone gays executed and women subjugated on a daily basis throughout most of the enormous Muslim world? If liberals are in favor of freedom of speech, why do they turn a blind eye to Islamist governments such as Iran that, based on the government’s radical, theocratic laws, execute people for expressing their opinion? And why do they not let people in the West express their opinion without attacking them before even giving them the respect of hearing what they have to say?

Liberals argue that they are in favor of critical thinking, but they do not like anyone challenging their “comfort zone”. They seem, in fact, to be just like the autocratic people from whom I was fleeing, who also did not want their simplistic, binary way of thinking to be threatened by logic or fact.

Even if a person is from a Muslim country, and has direct experience with extremist Islam, many liberals will strenuously avoid this information. They seem not to want their apologetic view of radical Islam to be questioned or contradicted. They apparently have no desire to open their closed minds on the subject. The thought of a question evidently wounds them, as if an answer would mean that they were turning their backs on the ongoing crimes against humanity. How come, then, that so many liberals appear resistant to seeing that the crimes of radical Islam are those crimes against humanity? And at present, the largest?

Second, these liberals — indulging in faulty, sophisitic, logic — seem to think that if they criticize Christianity and Islamists criticize Christianity, then Islamists will like them for hating the same thing. In the same vein, many liberals hate the U.S. Republican government and many radical Muslim groups hate the U.S. Republican government, so perhaps many liberals think that Muslims will like them for hating the same government? Sadly, as these liberals will soon find out, the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend.

Third, and more fundamentally, sympathizing with all kinds of Islamist practices and radical Islam seems to fit a wider narrative of bashing the West and white people for “imperialism, colonialism, and any sense of superiority”. Unfortunately that view fails to take into account that there have been no greater imperialists the Muslim armies; they conquered Persia, the great Christian Byzantine Empire in Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, virtually all of Eastern Europe, most of Spain, and Greece.

As, in Islam, one is not allowed to attack except to defend the prophet Muhammed or Islam, extremist Muslims need to keep either finding or creating supposed attacks to make themselves appear as victims.

Anjem Choudary, a radical British Muslim cleric, was sentenced late last year by a British judge to five and a half years in prison for encouraging people to join the Islamic State. (Image source: Dan H/Flickr)

Many liberals, not knowing the background, buy into this claim. By siding with the “other”, they probably feel a moral superiority: they are helping a cause, championing the “other” and rescuing a “victim”! But this moral superiority is both superficial and misplaced. It is more like that of the proverbial boy who murders his parents and then asks the judge for mercy because he is an orphan.

Maybe that is why, when many liberals hear criticism of radical Islam and the nuances of some aspects it, they refuse to hear it. For them, as radical Islam is not being depicted as a victim anymore, this view does not offer them the comfort of being morally superior defending victims. Ironically, that is the same motive for many radical Islamists: feeling morally superior defending Islam. The liberals then become confused, and do not know how to answer because I am a Muslim, have grown up there — not a Western Muslim who has never lived in a Muslim society. I am not even a Western conservative, with whom the liberals are also at odds. Many liberals, like all people happily married to a fantasy, and despite towering evidence, will stick to the fantasy and to their binary way of thinking. It is like trying to tell your friend that the stripper he wants to marry might not want to stay home, make babies and cook. He is so emotionally addicted to his dream that he will do anything to protect it.

Finally, it goes without saying that, as with all of us, liberals too attempt to preserve their financial and political interests. These material and social investments are also threatened by hearing from Muslims who have endured oppression and torture under radical Islam. Those liberals seem to suspect, correctly, that this new information might create some kind of conflict of interest, so possibly decide it might be safer not to hear it in the first place. Instead, again to protect their investment, many liberals and leftists ignore or criticize Muslims such as these.

Finally, a short message to liberals might go: Dear Liberal, If you truly stand for values such as peace, social justice, liberty and freedoms, your apologetic view of radical Islam is in total contradiction with all of those values. Your view even hinders the efforts of many Muslims to make a peaceful reformation in Islam precisely to advance the those values. In addition, sadly, your view towards radical Islam actually contributes to the violence and the repression of millions of people — women, children, slaves, and all those people whom you claim you want to protect. These are the true victims. They are subjugated, dehumanized, terrorized, tortured, raped and beaten on a daily basis by the practitioners of radical Islam and the religious laws of sharia, which are at the core of that fundamentalism. It is time to open your eyes and your minds and see what is staring at you.

Islamic Terror and the U.S. Temporary Stay on Immigration

February 13, 2017

Islamic Terror and the U.S. Temporary Stay on Immigration, Gatestone InstituteUzay Bulut, February 13, 2017

It is short-sighted and reckless to blame President Trump for trying to protect his country and keep his country safe — as any good leader is supposed to do. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs — at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.

To many people, it must be easier to go after the U.S. president than after ISIS terrorists. That way, critics of the president can also pose as “heroes” while ignoring the real threats to all of humanity.

Critics of Muslim extremists get numerous death threats from some people in the West because they courageously oppose the grave human rights violations — forced marriages, honor killings, child rape, murdering homosexuals and female genital mutilation (FGM), among others.

Why do we even call criticism of such horrific practices “courageous”? It should have been the most normal and ordinary act to criticize beheadings, mutilations and other crimes committed by radical Muslims. But it is not.

On the contrary, the temporary ban aims to protect genuine refugees such as Bennetta Bet-Badal, who was murdered in San Bernardino. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs — at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.

In San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, 14 people were murdered and 22 others seriously wounded in a terrorist attack. The perpetrators were Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple. Farook was an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, who worked as a health department employee. Malik was a Pakistani-born lawful permanent resident of the United States.

Among the victims of the terror attack was Bennetta Bet-Badal, an Assyrian Christian woman born in Iran in 1969. She fled to the U.S. at age 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian revolution.

“This attack,” stated the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement (NEC-SE), “showcases how Assyrians fled tyranny, oppression, and persecution for freedom and liberty, only to live in a country that is also beginning to be subject to an ever-increasing threat by the same forms of oppressors.”

“NEC-SE would like to take this opportunity to once again urge action to directly arming the Assyrians and Yezidis and other minorities in their indigenous homeland, so that they can defend themselves against terrorism and oppression. This tragedy is evidence that the only way to effectively counter terrorism is not solely here in the US, but abroad and at its root.”

Members of the Islamic State (ISIS) have declared several times that they target “kafirs” (infidels) in the West.

In 2014, Syrian-born Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the official spokesperson and a senior leader of the Islamic State, declared that supporters of the Islamic State from all over the world should attack citizens of Western states, including the US, France and UK:

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be.

“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”

It is this barbarity that the new U.S. administration is trying to stop.

FBI Director James Comey also warned in July of last year that hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the U.S. to carry out attacks on a wider scale, as Islamic State is defeated in Syria. “At some point there’s going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before. We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris,” said Comey, adding that future attacks will be on “an order of magnitude greater.”

How many ISIS operatives are there in the U.S.? Are ISIS sleeper cells likely in American cities? The people who are trying to create hysteria over the new steps taken by the Trump Administration should focus on investigating these issues more broadly, but they do not. To them, it must be easier to go after the U.S. president than after ISIS terrorists. This way, they can also pose as “heroes” while ignoring the real threat to all of humanity.

It is not only Islamic terrorists that pose a threat. It is also the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the font of all the modern extremist Muslim ideologies.

The crimes committed by radical Muslims are beyond horrific, but it is getting harder to expose and criticize them. Many critics of Islam in Western countries — including those of Muslim origin — have received countless death deaths and have been exposed to various forms of intimidation.

Some were murdered, such as the Dutch film director, Theo van Gogh. His “crime” was to produce the short film Submission (2004) about the treatment of women under Islam. He was assassinated the same year by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan-Dutch Muslim.

2055In 2004, Moroccan-Dutch terrorist Mohammed Bouyeri (left), shot the filmmaker Theo van Gogh (right) to death, then stabbed him and slit his throat.

Some have had to go into hiding. American cartoonist Molly Norris, who promoted an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, had to go into hiding in 2010 after her life was threatened by Islamic extremists. She also changed her name and stopped producing work for the Seattle Weekly, the New York Times reported.

Who are these people hiding from? From the most radical and devoted followers of the “religion of peace”.

Why should people living in free Western countries be forced to live in fear because they rightfully criticize a destructive and murderous ideology?

They get numerous death threats from some people in the West because they courageously oppose grave human rights violations — forced marriages, honor killings, child rape, murdering homosexuals and female genital mutilation (FGM), among others.

Why do we even call criticism of such horrific practices “courageous”? It should have been the most normal and ordinary act to criticize beheadings, mutilations and other crimes committed by radical Muslims. But it is not. It does require tremendous courage to criticize these acts committed in the name of a religion. For everybody knows that the critics of Islam are risking their lives and security.

In the meantime, “an Islamic State follower posted a message on the Telegram app that said President Trump was wasting his time by blocking refugees from Syria,” reported the journalist Rowan Scarborough.

“‘Trump is preventing the entrance of the citizens of [seven] countries to protect America from terrorism,’ said the message captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute. “Your decision will not do anything to prevent the attacks; They will come from inside America, from Americans born in America, whose fathers were born in America and whose grandparents were born in America.”

President Trump’s executive order is not a ban on Muslims. Individuals of all religious backgrounds of these seven countries have been affected. Nor is it a ban on refugees. On the contrary, the ban aims to protect genuine refugees such as Bennetta Bet-Badal, who was murdered in San Bernardino.

It is short-sighted and reckless to blame President Trump for trying to protect his country and keep it safe — as any good leader is supposed to do. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs — at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.

On Defining Religion

February 12, 2017

On Defining Religion, Gatestone InstituteNonie Darwish, February 12, 2017

(Please see also, Georgetown Professor Condones Rape And Slavery Under Sharia. Does the First Amendment “free exercise” clause prohibit Federal or state intervention against enforcement of the dictates of Sharia law? If members of a religious cult from Latin America moved to the United States and required families to turn over their young virgin daughters for sacrifice to their Volcano God, would the “free exercise” clause prohibit Federal or state intervention?  — DM)

What the West does not understand is that Islam admits that government control is central to Islam and that Muslims must, sooner or later, demand to live under an Islamic government.

The majority of the world does not understand that much of the American media is in a propaganda war against the Trump administration simply because he names Islamic jihad and would prefer to see a strong and prosperous America as a world leader rather than to see a dictatorship — secular or theocratic — as a world leader.

Islam claims to be an Abrahamic religion, but in fact Islam came to the world 600 years after Christ, not to affirm the Bible but to discredit it; not to co-exist with “the people of the book” — Jews and Christians — but to replace them, after accusing them of intentionally falsifying the Bible.

Islam was created as a rebellion against the Bible and its values, and it relies on government enforcement to do so.

Political and legal (sharia) Islam is much more than a religion. Is the First Amendment a suicide pact?

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that President Donald Trump’s 90-day ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is “a religiously based ban,” and “if they can ban Muslims, why can’t they ban Mormons.” This has become the position of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, which has influenced not only the American public but has convinced the majority of the world that America is “bad.” How can we blame the world, and even a good segment of American citizens, for hating America when such disingenuous and misleading claims are aired to the world from US officials and broadcast by American television channels?

The majority of the world does not understand that much of the American media is in a propaganda war against the Trump Administration simply because he names Islamic jihad and would prefer to see a strong and prosperous America as a world leader, rather than to see a dictatorship — secular or theocratic — as a world leader. He ran as a Republican; meanwhile, Democrats and the mainstream media refuse to engage in respectful and legitimate debate on the most vital threat to Western civilization in the twenty-first century: Islam. Truth has become irrelevant; people seem to prefer a political game of tug-of-war to sway public opinion against the Trump Administration, and, presumably, to elect Democrats forever. That is how the system is set up.

Political discussions on television have become extremely frustrating; they have turned into shouting matches and name-calling at the least informative levels. Television hosts often become instigators and participants in the shouting matches. The thinking is apparently that the louder they get, the more attractive the program will be. Meanwhile everyone is talking at once; the viewer cannot hear anyone, so the program could not be more boring.

Under the US Constitution, freedom of religion is protected. and Islam has been welcomed inside the West on that basis as one of the three Abrahamic religions. According to Western values and the Western understanding of the word, “religion” is supposed to be a personal relationship with God, where free will is of utmost importance; the believer has authority only over himself or herself when it comes to religious laws or punishing sins (such as leaving the religion or committing adultery) — quite different from criminal laws intended to protect society. Western values also allow followers of a religion the freedom to proselytize, but never by resorting to government enforcement.

Bottom line, the Western definition of religion is in harmony with the Biblical values of the human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that all human beings are created equal under the law. It is considered a basic Western value to view God, family and country as a top priority.

Now let us compare these values to Islamic values:

  1. Muslim citizens have the right to punish other citizens with humiliating, severe, cruel and unusual punishments such as death, flogging and amputation, for sinning against Allah, the Quran or Islam. Those “crimes” include leaving Islam, being a homosexual, or committing adultery. And if the Islamic government does not enforce such punishments, any Muslim on the street has the right to apply the punishment against another Muslim and not be prosecuted. That is why apostates, such as myself, cannot visit any Muslim county; the fear is not only from Islamic governments but from anyone on the street.
  2. Being a Muslim is not a personal relationship with God, as it is under the Bible, but is enforced by the state at birth. When a child is born in Egypt to a Muslim father, the birth certificate is stamped “Muslim” and all government-issued documents as well. A child must learn Islamic studies in school and practice Islam throughout his life. In Egypt, the twin sons of a Christian divorced mother were forced to take Islamic studies and become Muslim just because their originally-Christian father converted to Islam. Today, in Egypt, I am still considered Muslim and such a status could never change if I ever lived there again.
  3. Islamic law and leaders rely on government enforcement — under penalty of death — to keep Muslims within Islam and to convert the minority Christian population into Islam. Islamic sharia law, obliges Islamic states to enforce religious law, and if the Muslim head of state refuses to follow religious law, sharia permits the public to use force to remove the head of state from office.
  4. Islam claims to be an Abrahamic religion, but in fact Islam came to the world 600 years after Christ, not to affirm the Bible but to discredit it; not to co-exist with “the people of the book,” Jews and Christians, but to replace them — after accusing them of intentionally falsifying the Bible. Islam was created as a rebellion against the Bible and its values, and relies on government enforcement to do so.

The tenets above are just a few of the differences in values between Islam, the Bible and the Western concept of religion. What the West does not understand is that Islam admits that government control is central to Islam, and Muslims must demand to live under an Islamic government sooner or later. That might explain the reason for the eternal violence in nearly all Muslim countries, between government being in the hands of a religious theocracy or of the military. Islam, as it is practiced today, has violated all Western definitions of religion and values.

Political and legal (sharia) Islam is much more than a religion. Is the First Amendment a suicide pact?

2294(Image source: Brent Payne/Flickr)

Raheel Raza Hopes To Be The Muslim Extremists Hate Most

February 6, 2017

Raheel Raza Hopes To Be The Muslim Extremists Hate Most, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, February 6, 2017

1963-1

Just a month into 2017 and America’s hot-button issues are already clear: women, radical Islam, and the civil rights of Muslims in the West. The Trump presidential campaign, fraught as it was with controversy over his comments about women, sexual harassment, immigration and Muslims, has been followed, in his presidency, by protests, political debates, executive orders, and above all, confusion.

Sorting out that confusion requires profound understanding of the issues. And the irony here is that few people understand them better than do Muslim women – particularly the Muslim women who stand up against radical Islam and who denounce the abuse and oppression of women in Muslim countries. They, best of all, know what it means to be the victim of sharia laws that deny them even the most basic of human rights. They, best of all, recognize the portions of the Quran that can be – and are – manipulated by extremists to suit their needs. They, too, best recognize those areas of their faith that must be modernized, that need to be reformed, to suit modern understanding of basic human rights, human dignity, democracy, and justice.

Yet these are the people who also are most virulently attacked. Muslim fundamentalists accuse them of not being “really” Muslim. They are called apostates, and their lives and families threatened. Some non-Muslims accuse them of lying, of being part of an underground “stealth jihad” conspiracy aimed at Islamizing the West. Their work takes selflessness, determination, and extraordinary courage.

Among those leading that fight is writer-activist Raheel Raza, a Pakistani-born Canadian and author of Their Jihad, Not My Jihad: A Muslim Canadian Woman Speaks Out. As a human rights leader, she has spoken out loudly against gender inequality in Muslim families, called for a ban on the hijab and burqa in Canada, and condemned groups that support the introduction of sharia law in the West. In 2012, she founded Muslims Facing Tomorrow, an organization with a core mission “to reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion” while supporting Enlightenment ideals of free speech and democracy.

Most notably, she participated in Paula Kwestin’s award-winning documentary “Honor Diaries.” Described as a “movement to expose women’s rights in the Middle East,” the film exposes hard truths about honor violence and the oppression of women in the Muslim world. In a discussion with other female Muslim leaders in the film, Raza minced no words: “We need systematic change in the Muslim world.”

The Investigative Project interviewed Raza about her views, her courage, her work, and her vision for both Muslims and the West in the years ahead.

(This transcript was edited lightly for style and clarity.)

Abigail R. Esman What made you first feel you needed to speak out as a Muslim woman on the issues you now champion?

Raheel Raza: While I was growing up in Pakistan, I lived in a culture that considered women should be seen and not heard. There was also an honor based environment where everything was about “what others will say.” I rebelled against this and gender discrimination at a young age (for which I was always in trouble). I left Pakistan when I was very young to embrace the West for its values of gender equality, freedom of expression and a liberal democracy. I found my voice and have never stopped speaking out for those who do not have a voice.

ARE: What was the initial response like? Did it cause you to doubt what you were doing?

RR: The initial response was more against my gender, i.e. how can a Muslim woman speak out? Not against the content because deep down people know that I am speaking from within my faith and also addressing a compelling issue that affects Muslim majority society in a deep way. I never doubted what I am doing because the intention is to reform the way Muslims interpret and implement the faith.

ARE: When and why did you create Muslims Facing Tomorrow? Do you feel you are meeting your objectives?

RR: We launched Muslims Facing Tomorrow in 2012 with an intent and vision to be an alternate narrative to the voices of extremists. We are about ideas, as it is a violent ideology that we have to defeat. We are slowly but surely meeting our objectives because the world is hearing our voice to understand that there are Muslims who are the largest victims of radical Jihad and that we are concerned citizens who are speaking out.

ARE: Have you faced threats from radical Muslims for your work? If so, how have you handled them?

RR: Yes, of course – how else would I know that they are listening? I am the proud recipient of a fatwa, death threat and hostile emails. I am also listed as number six on the website of the world’s most hated Muslims, and I plan to become number one.

ARE: “Honor Diaries” was an extremely important project – but a controversial and difficult one. What made you want to get involved?

RR: I have always been committed to women’s rights and have worked on this my entire adult life. Three years ago I was approached by the producer of “Honor Diaries” about the idea of having ‘voices from within’ – Muslim women speaking on the issue. I agreed, with one condition: that this would not be scripted because for too long we (Muslim women) have been scripted, so they agreed, and [the] rest is history.

ARE: Do you feel the film has been successful in influencing change?

RR: “Honor Diaries” has been very successful in implementing and influencing change because it is more than a film. It’s a movement which has picked up traction globally. In Canada we sent copies of the film to each Member of Parliament and as a result, we have Bill S-7, which is a bill about zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices. Similarly in [the] UK, a law was passed making female genital mutilation and forced/underage marriage a criminal offence. I gave testimony in the Swedish Parliament about Honor Based Violence and also addressed the UK House of Lords as a result of which there is a bill which is being tabled. We screened “Honor Diaries” at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, so overall it has won awards and was the first documentary to openly address these issues.

Now of course there are many others, which gives us hope. “Honor Diaries” also empowered the victims of honor-based violence to speak out because they felt the solidarity, so we have activists on the ground all over the globe who are working on these critical issues.

The movement has now become even more important because it has led to a yearly event called CWFF — the Censored Women’s Film Festival — in which Honor Diaries hosts films by not-yet-known film makers on taboo topics that have had pushback.

ARE: More recently, many of your fellow modern Muslim activists [such as and Shireen Qudosi and Asra Nomani] supported Donald Trump for president. You, I gather, did not. What would you say to them?

RR: In a way I do support Mr. Trump, although he is brash with his words. However when I look at eight years of the Obama administration, nothing was done to defeat a radical jihadist ideology. In fact Mr. Obama could not even articulate the words! So the radicals felt empowered and grew in numbers and action as we have seen with the slew of terrorist attacks last year. Mr. Trump (for all his faults) has addressed the issue head on and has also put out feelers to say that he will dialogue and sit with reform minded Muslims around the table to find solutions. This has yet to happen but I am hopeful that change will come to this global threat.

ARE: You had at one time called for a stop on immigration to Canada from countries with high terror rates. Now President Trump has issued his executive order in the U.S. against specific countries, but also not including other, obvious sponsors of terrorism like Saudi Arabia. What are your thoughts on this move?

RR: President Trump is implementing his election promises so no surprise here. I had suggested a temporary moratorium in Canada from countries that fund and promote terrorism because the safety and security of my country is paramount to the future of my children and grand children.

On not including some countries, I can’t comment on the inner workings of the U.S. political system as I am not American but we should wait and watch where this goes.

ARE: Still, the work you do is not easy, and often misunderstood. What keeps you going?

RR: Activism is never easy – you go against the flow and the status quo. It’s doubly challenging if you happen to be a woman. I do this work for the future of the next generation. This is for a better world for my children and grandchildren. In a way I am very spiritual and I believe that each one of us is answerable to the creator about what we did when the world was burning. I can sleep at night knowing I am doing my part. The backlash against me is a very small drop in the ocean of work that has to be done, so I continue despite the challenges.

Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting

January 31, 2017

Smoking Out Islamists via Extreme Vetting, Middle East Forum, Daniel Pipes, January 28, 2017(?)

(Please see also, A Muslim Reformer Speaks Out About His Battle Against Islamism And PC. — DM)

On January 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to implement his proposed “extreme vetting” of those applying for entry visas into the United States. This article by Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes, who has written extensively on the practicality and enforceability of screening for Islamists, is an advance release from the forthcoming Spring 2017 issue of Middle East Quarterly.

3570Smoking Them Out (1906), Charles M. Russell.

Donald Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 27 establishing radically new procedures to deal with foreigners who apply to enter the United States.

Building on his earlier notion of “extreme vetting,” the order explains that

to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

This passage raises several questions of translating extreme vetting in practice: How does one distinguish foreigners who “do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles” from those who do? How do government officials figure out “those who would place violent ideologies over American law”? More specifically, given that the new procedures almost exclusively concern the fear of allowing more Islamists into the country, how does one identify them?

I shall argue these are doable tasks and the executive order provides the basis to achieve them. At the same time, they are expensive and time-consuming, demanding great skill. Keeping out Islamists can be done, but not easily.

The Challenge

By Islamists (as opposed to moderate Muslims), I mean those approximately 10-15 percent of Muslims who seek to apply Islamic law (the Shari’a) in its entirety. They want to implement a medieval code that calls (among much else) for restricting women, subjugating non-Muslims, violent jihad, and establishing a caliphate to rule the world.

For many non-Muslims, the rise of Islamism over the past forty years has made Islam synonymous with extremism, turmoil, aggression, and violence. But Islamists, not all Muslims, are the problem; they, not all Muslims, must urgently be excluded from the United States and other Western countries. Not just that, but anti-Islamist Muslims are the key to ending the Islamist surge, as they alone can offer a humane and modern alternative to Islamist obscurantism.

Identifying Islamists is no easy matter, however, as no simple litmus test exists. Clothing can be misleading, as some women wearing hijabs are anti-Islamists, while practicing Muslims can be Zionists; nor does one’s occupation indicate much, as some high-tech engineers are violent Islamists. Likewise, beards, teetotalism, five-times-a-day prayers, and polygyny do not tell about a Muslim’s political outlook. To make matters more confusing, Islamists often dissimulate and pretend to be moderates, while some believers change their views over time.

3567In 2001, the Pentagon invited Anwar al-Awlaki to lunch. In 2011, it killed him by a drone strike.

Finally, shades of gray further confuse the issue. As noted by Robert Satloff of The Washington Institute, a 2007 book from the Gallup press, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on a poll of over 50,000 Muslims in 10 countries, found that 7 percent of Muslims deem the 9/11 attacks “completely justified,” 13.5 percent consider the attacks completely or “largely justified,” and 36.6 percent consider the attacks completely, largely, or “somewhat justified.” Which of these groups does one define as Islamist and which not?

Faced with these intellectual challenges, American bureaucrats are unsurprisingly incompetent, as I demonstrate in a long blog titled “The U.S. Government’s Poor Record on Islamists.” Islamists have fooled the White House, the departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury, the Congress, many law enforcement agencies and a plethora of municipalities. A few examples:

  • The Pentagon in 2001 invited Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Islamist it later executed with a drone-launched missile, to lunch.
  • In 2002, FBI spokesman Bill Carter described the American Muslim Council (AMC) as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States” – just two years before the bureau arrested the AMC’s founder and head, Abdurahman Alamoudi, on terrorism-related charges. Alamoudi has now served about half his 23-year prison sentence.
  • George W. Bush appointed stealth Islamist Khaled Abou El Fadl in 2003 to, of all things, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
  • The White House included staff in 2015 from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in its consultations, despite CAIR’s initial funding by a designated terrorist group, the frequent arrest or deportation of its employees on terrorism charges, a history of deception, and the goal of one of its leaders to make Islam the only accepted religion in America.

Fake-moderates have fooled even me, despite all the attention I devote to this topic. In 2000, I praised a book by Tariq Ramadan; four years later, I argued for his exclusion from the United States. In 2003, I condemned a Republican operative named Kamal Nawash; two years later, I endorsed him. Did they evolve or did my understanding of them change? More than a decade later, I am still unsure.

Uniform Screening Standards

Returning to immigration, this state of confusion points to the need for learning much more about would-be visitors and immigrants. Fortunately, Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” signed on Jan. 27, 2017, requires just this. It calls for “Uniform Screening Standards” with the goal of preventing individuals from entering the United States “on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission.” The order requires that the uniform screening standard and procedure include such elements as (bolding is mine):

  1. In-person interviews;
  2. A database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants;
  3. Amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent;
  4. A mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be;
  5. A process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and
  6. A mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.

Elements 1, 3, 5, and 6 permit and demand the procedure outlined in the following analysis. It contains two main components, in-depth research and intensive interviews.

Research

When a person applies for a security clearance, the background checks should involve finding out about his family, friends, associations, employment, memberships, and activities. Agents must probe these for questionable statements, relationships, and actions, as well as anomalies and gaps. When they find something dubious, they must look further into it, always with an eye for trouble. Is access to government secrets more important than access to the country? The immigration process should start with an inquiry into the prospective immigrant and, just as with security clearances, the border services should look for problems.

3572Most everyone with strong views at some point vents them on social media.

Also, as with security clearance, this process should have a political dimension: Does the person in question have an outlook consistent with that of the Constitution? Not long ago, only public figures such as intellectuals, activists, and religious figures put their views on the record; but now, thanks to the Internet and its open invitation to everyone to comment in writing or on video in a permanent, public manner, and especially to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), most everyone with strong views at some point vents them. Such data provides valuably unfiltered views on many critical topics, such as Islam, non-Muslims, women, and violence as a tactic. (Exploiting this resource may seem self-evident but U.S. immigration authorities do not do so, thereby imposing a self-restraint roughly equivalent to the Belgian police choosing not to conduct raids between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.)

In the case of virulent, overt, outspoken jihadis, this research usually suffices to provide evidence to exclude them. Even some non-violent Islamists proudly announce their immoderation. But many Islamists adopt a milder and subtler tone, their goal being to appear moderate so they can enter the country and then impose Shari’a through lawful means. As suggested by some of the examples above, such as Abou El Fadl or CAIR, research often proves inadequate in these instances because cautious Islamists hide their goals and glibly dissimulate. Which brings us to entrance interviews.

Entrance Interviews

Assuming that lawful Islamists routinely hide their true views, an interview is needed before letting them enter the country. Of course, it is voluntary, for no one is forced to apply for immigration, but it also must be very thorough. It should be:

Recorded: With the explicit permission of the person being questioned (“You understand and accept that this interview is being recorded, right?”), the exchange should be visibly videotaped so the proceedings are unambiguously on the record. This makes available the interviewee’s words, tone, speech patterns, facial expressions, and body language for further study. Form as well as substance matters: does the interviewee smile, fidget, blink, make eye contact, repeat, sweat, tremble, tire, need frequent toilet breaks, or otherwise express himself in non-verbal ways?

Polygraph: Even if a lie detector machine does not, in fact, provide useful information, attaching the interviewee to it might induce greater truth-telling.

Under oath: Knowing that falsehoods will be punished, possibly with jail time, is a strong inducement to come clean.

Public: If the candidate knows that his answers to abstract questions (as opposed to personal ones about his life) will be made public, this reduces the chances of deception. For example, asked about belief for the full application of Islamic laws, an Islamist will be less likely to answer falsely in the negative if he knows that his reply will be available for others to watch.

3568Look for inconsistency by asking the same thing in different ways. An example: “May a woman show her face in public?” and “Is a male guardian responsible for making sure his women-folk don’t leave the house with faces uncovered?

Multiple: No single question can evince a reply that establishes an Islamist disposition; effective interviewing requires a battery of queries on many topics, from homosexuality to the caliphate. The answers need to be assessed in their totality.

Specific: Vague inquiries along the lines of “Is Islam a religion of peace?”, “Do you condemn terrorism?” “How do you respond to the murder of innocents,” depend too much on one’s definition of words such as peace, terrorism, and innocents to help determine a person’s outlook, and so should be avoided. Instead, questions must be focused and exact: “May Muslims convert out of Islam, whether to join another faith or to become atheists?” “Does a Muslim have the right to renounce Islam?”

Variety in phrasing: For the questions to ferret out the truth means looking for divergence and inconsistency by asking the same question with different words and variant emphases. A sampling: “May a woman show her face in public?” “What punishment do you favor for females who reveal their faces to men not related to them by family?” “Is it the responsibility of the male guardian to make sure his women-folk do not leave the house with faces uncovered?” “Should the government insist on women covering their faces?” “Is society better ordered when women cover their faces?” Any one of the questions can be asked in different ways and expanded with follows-up about the respondent’s line of reasoning or depth of feeling.

Repeated: Questions should be asked again and again over a period of weeks, months, and even longer. This is crucial: lies being much more difficult to remember than truths, the chances of a respondent changing his answers increases with both the volume of questions asked and the time lapse between questionings. Once inconsistencies occur, the questioner can zero in and explore their nature, extent, and import.

The Questions

Guidelines in place, what specific questions might extract useful information?

3574Zuhdi Jasser (L) with the author as teammates at a 2012 Intelligence Squared debate in New York City.

The following questions, offered as suggestions to build on, are those of this author but also derive from a number of analysts devoting years of thinking to the topic. Naser Khader, the-then Danish parliamentarian of Syrian Muslim origins, offered an early set of questions in 2002. A year later, this author published a list covering seven subject areas.

Others followed, including the liberal Egyptian Muslim Tarek Heggy, the liberal American Muslims Tashbih Sayyed and Zuhdi Jasser, the ex-Muslim who goes by “Sam Solomon,” a RAND Corporation group, and the analyst Robert Spencer. Of special interest are the queries posed by the German state of Baden-Württemberg dated September 2005 because it is an official document (intended for citizenship, not immigration, but with similar purposes).

Islamic doctrine:

1. May Muslims reinterpret the Koran in light of changes in modern times?

2. May Muslims convert out of Islam, either to join another faith or to be without religion?

3. May banks charge reasonable interest (say 3 percent over inflation) on money?

4. Is taqiya (dissimulation in the name of Islam) legitimate?

Islamic pluralism:

5. May Muslims pick and choose which Islamic regulations to abide by (e.g., drink alcohol but avoid pork)?

6. Is takfir (declaring a Muslim to be an infidel) acceptable?

7. [Asked of Sunnis only:] Are Sufis, Ibadis, and Shi’ites Muslims?

8. Are Muslims who disagree with your practice of Islam infidels (kuffar)?

The state and Islam:

9. What do you think of disestablishing religion, that is, separating mosque and state?

10. When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for female drivers’ license pictures), which gets priority?

11. Should the state compel prayer?

12. Should the state ban food consumption during Ramadan and penalize transgressors?

13. Should the state punish Muslims who eat pork, drink alcohol, and gamble?

14. Should the state punish adultery?

15. How about homosexuality?

16. Do you favor a mutawwa’ (religious police) as exist in Saudi Arabia?

17. Should the state enforce the criminal punishments of the Shari’a?

18. Should the state be lenient when someone is killed for the sake of family honor?

19. Should governments forbid Muslims from leaving Islam?

Marriage and divorce:

20. Does a husband have the right to hit his wife if she is disobedient?

21. Is it a good idea for men to shut their wives and daughters at home?

22. Do parents have the right to determine whom their children marry?

23. How would you react if a daughter married a non-Muslim man?

24. Is polygyny acceptable?

25. Should a husband have to get a first wife’s approval to marry a second wife? A third? A fourth?

26. Should a wife have equal rights with her husband to initiate a divorce?

27. In the case of divorce, does a wife have rights to child custody?

Female rights:

28. Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?

29. Does a woman have the right to dress as she pleases, including showing her hair, arms and legs, so long as her genitalia and breasts are covered?

30. May Muslim women come and go or travel as they please?

31. Do Muslim women have a right to work outside the home or must the wali approve of this??

32. May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men?

33. Should males and females be separated in schools, at work, and socially?

34. Should certain professions be reserved for men or women only? If so, which ones?

35. Do you accept women occupying high governmental offices?

36. In an emergency, would you let yourself be treated by or operated on by a doctor of the opposite gender?

Sexual activity:

37. Does a husband have the right to force his wife to have sex?

38. Is female circumcision part of the Islamic religion?

39. Is stoning a justified punishment for adultery?

40. Do members of a family have the right to kill a woman if they believe she has dishonored them?

41. How would you respond to a child of yours who declares him- or herself a homosexual?

Schools:

42. Should your child learn the history of non-Muslims?

43. Should students be taught that Shari’a is a personal code or that governmental law must be based on it?

44. May your daughter take part in the sports activities, especially swimming lessons, offered by her school?

45. Would you permit your child to take part in school trips, including overnight ones?

46. What would you do if a daughter insisted on going to university?

Criticism of Muslims:

3575Denying the Islamic nature of ISIS reveals much about a Muslim.

47. Did Islam spread only through peaceful means?

48. Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam, even if it casts doubt on the received history?

49. Do you accept that Muslims were responsible for the 9/11 attacks?

50. Is the Islamic State/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh Islamic in nature?

Fighting Islamism:

51. Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight Islamism, even if this might mean extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)?

52. When institutions credibly accused of funding jihad are shut down, is this a symptom of anti-Muslim bias?

53. Should Muslims living in the West cooperate with law enforcement?

54. Should they join the military?

55. Is the “war on terror” a war on Islam?

Non-Muslims (in general):

3573Praying at the Hindu Temple in Dubai, founded 1958.

56. Do all humans, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, deserve equal rights?

57. Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims?

58. Do you accept the validity of other monotheistic religions?

59. Of polytheistic religions (such as Hinduism)?

60. Are Muslims superior to non-Muslims?

61. Should non-Muslims be subject to Islamic law?

62. Do Muslims have anything to learn from non-Muslims?

63. Can non-Muslims go to paradise?

64. Do you welcome non-Muslims to your house and go to their residences?

Non-Muslims (in Dar al-Islam):

65. May Muslims compel “Peoples of the Book” (i.e., Jews and Christians) to pay extra taxes?

66. May other monotheists build and operate institutions of their faith in Muslim-majority countries?

67. How about polytheists?

68. Should the Saudi government maintain the historic ban on non-Muslims in Mecca and Medina?

69. Should it allow churches to be built for Christian expatriates?

70. Should it stop requiring that all its subjects be Muslim?

Non-Muslims (in Dar al-Harb):

71. Should Muslims fight Jews and Christians until these “feel themselves subdued” (Koran 9:29).

72. Is the enslavement of non-Muslims acceptable?

73. Is it acceptable to arrest individuals who curse the prophet of Islam or burn the Koran?

74. If the state does not act against such deeds, may individual Muslims act?

75. Can one live a fully Muslim life in a country with a mostly non-Muslim government?

76. Should a Muslim accept a legitimate majority non-Muslim government and its laws or work to make Islam supreme?

77. Can a majority non-Muslim government unreservedly win your allegiance?

78. Should Muslims who burn churches or vandalize synagogues be punished?

79. Do you support jihad to spread Islam?

Violence:

80. Do you endorse corporal punishments (mutilation, dismemberment, crucifixion) of criminals?

81. Is beheading an acceptable form of punishment?

82. Is jihad, meaning warfare to expand Muslim rule, acceptable in today’s world?

83. What does it mean when Muslims yell “Allahu Akbar” as they attack?

84. Do you condemn violent organizations such as Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Shabaab, and the Taliban?

Western countries:

85. Are non-Islamic institutions immoral and decadent or can they be moral and virtuous?

86. Do you agree with studies that show non-Muslim countries such as New Zealand to be better living up to the ideals of Islam than Muslim-majority countries?

87. Is Western-style freedom an accomplishment or a form of moral corruption? Why?

88. Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries?

89. Do you accept living in Western countries that are secular or do you seek to have Islamic law rule them?

90. What do you think of Shari’a-police patrolling Muslim-majority neighborhoods in Western countries to enforce Islamic morals?

91. Would you like to see the U.S. Constitution (or its equivalents in other countries) replaced by the Koran?

This interview:

92. In an immigration interview like this, if deceiving the questioner helps Islam, would lying be justified?

93. Why should I trust that you have answered these questions truthfully?

Observations about the Interviews

Beyond helping to decide whom to allow into the country, these questions can also help in other contexts as well, for example in police interrogations or interviews for sensitive employment positions. (The list of Islamists who have penetrated Western security services is a long and painful one.)

3569Islamists are hardly the only ones who condemn Israel. Here Jewish Voice for Peace activists protest.

Note the absence of questions about highly charged current issues. That is because Islamist views overlap with non-Islamist outlooks; plenty of non-Islamists agree with Islamists on these topics. Although Leil Leibowitz in contrast sees Israel as “moderate Islam’s real litmus test,” Islamists are hardly the only ones who demand Israel’s elimination and accept Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate political actors – or believe the Bush administration carried out the 9/11 attacks or hate the United States. Why introduce these ambiguous issues when so many Islam-specific questions (e.g., “Is the enslavement of non-Muslim acceptable?”) have the virtue of far greater clarity?

The interviewing protocol outlined above is extensive, asking many specific questions over a substantial period using different formulations, probing for truth and inconsistencies. It is not quick, easy, or cheap, but requires case officers knowledgeable about the persons being interviewed, the societies they come from, and the Islamic religion; they are somewhat like a police questioner who knows both the accused person and the crime. This is not a casual process. There are no shortcuts.

Criticisms

This procedure raises two criticisms: it is less reliable than Trump’s no-Muslim policy and it is too burdensome for governments to undertake. Both are readily disposed of.

Less reliable: The no-Muslim policy sounds simple to implement but figuring out who is Muslim is a problem in itself (are Ahmadis Muslims?). Further, with such a policy in place, what will stop Muslims from pretending to renounce their religion or to convert to another religion, notably Christianity? These actions would require the same in-depth research and intensive interviews as described above. If anything, because a convert can hide behind his ignorance of his alleged new religion, distinguishing a real convert to Christianity from a fake one is even more difficult than differentiating an Islamist from a moderate Muslim.

Too burdensome: True, the procedure is expensive, slow, and requires skilled practitioners. But this also has the benefit of slowing a process that many, myself included, consider out of control, with too many immigrants entering the country too quickly. Immigrants numbered 5 percent of the population in 1965, 14 percent in 2015, and are projected to make up 18 percent in 2065. This is far too large a number to assimilate into the values of the United States, especially when so many come from outside the West; the above mechanism offers a way to slow it down.

As for those who argue that this sort of inquiry and screening for visa purposes is unlawful; prior legislation for naturalization, for example, required that an applicant be “attached to the principles of the Constitution” and it was repeatedly found to be legal.

Finally, today’s moderate Muslim could become tomorrow’s raging Islamist; or his infant daughter might two decades later become a jihadi. While any immigrant can turn hostile, such changes happen far more often among born Muslims. There is no way to guarantee this from happening but extensive research and interrogations reduce the odds.

Conclusion

Truly to protect the country from Islamists requires a major commitment of talent, resources, and time. But, properly handled, these questions offer a mechanism to separate enemy from friend among Muslims. They also have the benefit of slowing down immigration. Even before Trump became president, if one is to believe CAIR, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) asked questions along the lines of those advocated here (What do you think of the USA? What are your views about jihad? See the appendix for a full listing). With Trump’s endorsement, let us hope this effective “no-Islamists” policy is on its way to becoming systematic.


Appendix

On January 18, 2017, just hours before Donald Trump became president of the United States, the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed ten complaints with the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) for questioning Muslim citizens about their religious and political views. Among the questions allegedly asked were:

1. Are you a devout Muslim?

2. Are you Sunni or Shia?

3. What school of thought do you follow?

4. Which Muslim scholars do you follow?

5. What current Muslim scholars do you listen to?

6. Do you pray five times a day?

7. Why do you have a prayer mat in your luggage?

8. Why do you have a Qur’an in your luggage?

9. Have you visited Saudi Arabia?

10. Will you every visit Saudi or Israel?

11. What do you know about the Tableeghi-Jamat?

12. What do you think of the USA?

13. What are your views about Jihad?

14. What mosque do you attend?

15. Do any individuals in your mosque have any extreme/radical views?

16. Does your Imam express extremist views?

17. What are the views of other imams or other community members that give the Friday sermon at your mosque?

18. Do they have extremist views?

19. Have you ever delivered the Friday Prayer? What did you discuss with your community?

20. What are your views regarding [various terrorist organizations]?

21. What social media accounts do you use?

22. What is your Facebook account username?

23. What is your Twitter account username?

24. What is your Instagram account username?

25. What are the names and telephone numbers of parents, relatives, friends?

CAIR also claims a Canadian Muslim was asked by CBP the following questions and then denied entry:

1. Are you Sunni or Shia?

2. Do you think we should allow someone like you to enter our country?

3. How often do you pray?

4. Why did you shave your beard?

5. Which school of thought do you follow?

6. What do you think of America’s foreign policy towards the Muslim world?

7. What do you think of killing non-Muslims?

8. What do you think of [various terrorist groups]?

Finally, CAIR indicates that those questioned “were held between 2 to 8 hours by CBP.”