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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on "Twisting Islam to Justify Cruelty" by Paul Sheehan

To the Editor
The Sydney Morning Herald

I am writing to congratulate you on publishing Paul Sheehan's courageous and fair-minded piece "Twisting Islam to Justify Cruelty" (May 27, 2013). There needs to be a conversation about radical Islamic theology and its Koranic foundations.  Sheehan is to be commended for tackling this thorny subject.

Concerning Mohamnmad Abdalla's response "Critical opinion of Islam ignores the fundamental truths", his article is littered with misrepresentations.

Violence and Context in Islamic Texts

This article was first published by Gatestone (here).

Recently, the journalist Paul Sheehan, reflecting on the Woolwich beheading of Drummer Lee Rigby, invited consideration of the view of Muslim violence in authoritative Islamic texts. In the Sydney Morning Herald of May 27, 2013, Sheehan observed that the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad seem to be a factor behind Muslim violence, and offered these critical observations:
  • Many violent attacks on civilians are done in the name of Islam.
  • The existence of violent Islamic sectarian conflict and the repression of religious dissent in Muslim nations give the lie to the "absurd claim" that Islam is "the religion of peace."
  • Many verses in the Koran call for violence against unbelievers, and these are invoked by Muslims who murder others: "So many Muslims have been encouraged to murder civilians by such exhortations that the rate of violent incidents perpetrated in the name of Islam is staggering, a toll that shows no sign of subsiding."
A rejoinder was published the next day by Associate Professor Mohamad Abdalla, founding director of the Islamic Research Unit at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. Abdalla rejected the proposition that Islam supports killing innocent people: "A contextual reading of the Koran or Hadith leads to one conclusion only: there is no justification for killing of innocent people…"

Friday, June 7, 2013

Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood: what is the difference?

For western lay people, it can be hard to distinguish one radical Muslim from another.  What is the difference between Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood?  Are they really all that different?  And why do Western governments seem to favour and even partner with Brotherhood-backed groups, but denigrate Salafis?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Dhimma Returns to Syria

The following report comes from Martin Janssen in Amman, Jordan (original in Dutch). The preceding notes and translation from Dutch into English are by Dr. Mark Durie, an Anglican vicar in Melbourne, Australia, author of The Third Choice, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

In his report Janssen tells of his experience of a prayer walk in Amman, held on May 21 2013 for the two abducted Syrian clergy, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim.  These Archbishops have been captured by Syrian rebels.

After the prayer walk Janssen had the opportunity to meet with Syrian Christian refugees, who told him how they came to flee their homes and villages.  Their village was occupied by rebel forces, who proceeded to announce that they were now under an Islamic emirate, and were subject to sharia law.

The Christian residents were offered four choices: 
1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam;
2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya);
3. be killed;
4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind. 
Some Christians were killed, some fled, some tried to pay the jizya and found it too heavy a burden to bear after the rebels kept increasing the amount they had to pay,  and some were unable to flee or pay, so they converted to Islam to save themselves.