Posted tagged ‘Blashphemy’

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.

The Failed Tactic of Flattering Islam Won’t Go Away

May 11, 2015

The Failed Tactic of Flattering Islam Won’t Go Away, Front Page Magazine, May 11, 2015

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The recent attack in Texas against a “draw Mohammed” event ended up with two dead jihadis and widespread criticism of event organizer Pamela Geller for “inciting” or “provoking” the assault on our First Amendment right to free speech. The hypocrisies and ignorance behind such criticism have been amply documented, including by some on the left. But there’s another argument against actions and events like Geller’s that needs dismantling. This is the received wisdom that we should avoid criticizing Islamic doctrine or Mohammed because it will alienate moderate Muslims who otherwise would help us against the so-called “extremist” jihadists.

Geraldo Rivera on Fox News invoked this rationale in his hysterical attack on Geller for “spewing her hatred and making us all look like the intolerant jerks they are saying we are in the Middle East and elsewhere.” In other words, most Muslims dislike the jihadis, who have “hijacked” and “distorted” their faith, and want to support our efforts against them. But they are put off by our “insults” of Mohammed and our “intolerance” of the wonderful “religion of peace,” all of which serve to “recruit” new jihadists. Even Bill O’Reilly and Laura Ingraham skirted this notion, advising against making any image of Mohammed, and thus in effect ratifying the legitimacy of the shari’a law against any representation of Mohammed, good or bad.

Consistent with this notion that flattery and respect can change Muslim behavior, many in the foreign policy establishment, including conservatives, have for decades counseled flattering “outreach” to Muslims as a tactic in winning the “hearts and minds” of the supposed large majority of Muslims angry at the jihadists’ “distortions” of their faith. Even before 9/11, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, called Islam “a faith that honors consultation, cherishes peace, and has as one of its fundamental principles the inherent equality of all who embrace it.” Even after 9/11 confirmed Islam’s traditional theologized violence and intolerance, George Bush claimed in his first address after 9/11 that Islam’s “teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.” In 2005, administration officials encouraged this tactic of false flattery as a way “to support the courageous Muslims who are speaking the truth about their proud religion and history, and seizing it back from those who would hijack it for evil ends.”

Of course Obama, who has serially groveled before Muslims and praised Islam, has continued this sorry practice. After his administration blamed the Benghazi murders on an obscure Internet video, he lectured that “the future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.” The 2 gunmen in Garland Texas obviously agreed.  His quondam Secretary of State and now presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is on record extolling Islam’s “deepest yearning of all––to live in peace.” How is that going in Nigeria, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan? Worse of all, training materials used by our military and security services have excised any mention of jihad, which Western infidels have redefined as “a quest to find one’s faith in an external fight for justice,” as the New York Times put it in 2008. So Obama identifies the 13 slaughtered at Fort Hood to the traditional jihadist cry of “Allahu Akbar” as victims of “workplace violence.” Never mind the Koranic command to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush”––exactly what various jihadi outfits are doing today across the Middle East, and tried to do in Garland Texas.

Two decades of such flattery and admiration have failed to prevent nearly 26,000 violent jihadist attacks since 9/11, for they are based on Western bad ideas rather than on an accurate understanding of Islamic doctrine and the Muslim mentality. Behind our delusions is the peculiarly arrogant assumption that traditionalist Muslims––by which I mean those who take seriously the doctrines and precepts of their faith has practiced for 14 centuries––do not have their own motives and aims, but can only react to our bad behavior. Besotted by our own materialist superstitions and failure to take religion seriously, we reduce jihadist behavior to material and psychological causes: wounded self-esteem, resentment of “colonial” and “imperial” crimes, disrespect of Islam, or the lack of jobs, political freedom, or even sexual access to women.

Thus despite consistent polling data showing widespread Muslim support of illiberal shari’a law and its draconian penalties like death for blasphemy, we won’t accept that millions of Muslims actually believe what the Koran, Hadith, and 14 centuries of jurisprudence teach about the superiority of Islam and their right to use violence in order to bring the whole world under the sway of the superior social, economic, and political order that shari’a represents. In the guise of “respecting” Muslims, then, we patronize them as little more than children who can only “act out” violently in the face of injustice instead of “using their words.” Having reduced our own faith to holidays and comforting slogans, we simply can’t believe that Islam endorses violence and cruelty in the name of Allah, or that otherwise loving and kind people, as bin Laden was said to have been by all who knew him, can at the same time slaughter and brutalize innocents in pursuit of spiritual aims. No, either they are “crazy” or “evil,” or they are traumatized by our bad behavior.

This dubious pop-psychological assumption is usually accompanied by a catalogue of the historical crimes against Muslims perpetrated by the West, from the Crusades to the wars against the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. These depredations, so the story goes, also fuel anger and resentment, and help to incentivize otherwise peaceful Muslims into turning jihadist. But this narrative is belied by the facts of history. For what history tells us is that the record of Muslim conquest, occupation, colonizing, slaving, raiding, and killing of Christians far surpasses the alleged crimes of the West against Islam. We recently marked the centenary of the Ottoman genocide against the Christian Armenians, Assyrians, and Chaldeans, a crime being duplicated today by ISIS in northern Iraq. Recently our historically challenged president whined about the Crusades and the Inquisition, with nary a word about the centuries of Muslim invasion, occupation, colonization, and brutal suppression in Christian Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, and Greece.

Or what about the 1066 pogrom in Granada, the alleged paradise of “pan-confessional humanism,” as an ignorant Wall Street Journal editorial claimed a few years back. Those tolerant, humanist Muslims slaughtered 5000 Jews, equaling the toll of dead during the whole existence of the Inquisition. But can anyone name one Muslim religious leader in the Middle East who has publicly and consistently apologized in Obama fashion for these 14 centuries of slaughter? Who has justified our defensive wars in the region as an understandable reaction to that history? Who has chastised Muslims for destroying and desecrating churches, and blamed them for inviting violent reactions? Muslim Turkey won’t even own up to its copiously documented slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians. If anyone has a historical grievance that justifies payback, it is Christians and Jews.

Finally, if Western insults and crimes against Muslims are really the reason jihadists want to kill us, why do they let Russia off the hook? No Christian power has killed more Muslims or occupied more Muslim lands than has Russia, from the siege of Izmail in 1790, when 40,000 Muslim men, women, and children were slaughtered, to the invasion of Afghanistan, which killed a million, to the brutal wars against Muslim Chechnyans, which killed at least 100,000. Or how about the 10 million Muslim Uighurs oppressed by China and forbidden to fully practice their faith?  Is Russia or China the “Great Satan”? Are they the constant targets of jihadist attack and thundering denunciations by the mullahs of Iran? Are “moderate” Muslims “alienated” by their behavior and rushing to join the jihad against them?

The obvious answer is no, for the simple reason that Russia and China are contemptuous of such juvenile psychological blackmail, pursue their national interests without regard for criticism by the “Muslim community,” and respond with brutal force to violent attacks. Meanwhile the U.S. has rescued millions of Muslims in the Balkans, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan from brutal dictators, ethnic cleansing, and psychotic autocrats, yet is deemed “Islamophobic” because we exercise our Constitutional rights in our own country. Worse yet, we grovel and apologize and demonize those like Pamela Geller who practice their right to free expression at a private function, and we vainly believe despite all evidence that if we just act nice to Muslims and join them in demonizing their critics, they’ll ignore their spiritual beliefs, the traditions of their faith, and the model of Mohammed and his credo to “fight all men until they say there is no god but Allah.”

To paraphrase Cicero and Orwell, there are some things so stupid that only rich, arrogant Westerners will believe them. If we let this president continue to predicate his dealings with Iran on this same delusional belief in the power of flattering engagement and “mutual respect,” we will soon find out the high cost of this stupidity.