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Monday, September 07, 2009 

Islamists want to have it both ways in Rifqa Bary case

Finally, a voice of sanity can be found in a mainstream paper's website in discussing the case of Rifqa Bary, on the Newark Star-Ledger at NJ.com, one of several prominent Newhouse News Service sites. (Hat tip: Jihad Watch). Paul Munshine writes:
You might be following the story of Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old Ohio girl who claims that her father wants to have her killed for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Various Muslim activists - and their liberal supporters - are trying to make the same tired argument here that they make whenever such issues come up.

What they argue is that Muslims here in America would never do such a thing. Sounds good. But just try and get them to denounce Muslims in other countries who do so.

I tried. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks I went and interviewed a local Muslim leader in New Jersey. I spent more than an hour trying to pin him down on the thorny question of whether it is or isn't okay for Muslims to use physical force against apostates, Christians who proselytize, and so on.

The column ran on Dec. 12, 2001. It was headlined

"Tolerating the intolerant"

I went into my interview with one of the leading spokesmen for New Jersey's Muslim community with a preconceived notion: I believe that writers should be able to write what they want without threat of physical violence.

I realize this belief is self-serving. I am, after all, a writer. I don't want to be killed. Nonetheless, I believe virtually all of my fellow writers here in the United States also hold this belief. It may even extend to editors, though I confess I have seen evidence to the contrary.

So I was curious to see whether Yasir El-Menshawy shared this belief. Menshawy is the president of the New Jersey Council of Mosques and Islamic Organizations. There are two branches of Islam in the United States, one that is purely religious and another that maintains that religion and politics are inseparable. Menshawy comes from that second wing, by far the larger of the two, he says.

For this reason I wanted to discuss with him a particularly thorny question of religion and politics: the death sentence issued against Salman Rushdie. [...]

Me: "But, seriously, you didn't get to the question. Was it wrong for them to condemn Salman Rushdie to death for a book he wrote?"

El-Menshawy: "I'm not going to answer that question."

So much for freedom of speech.

I also pressed Menshawy on the question of freedom of religion. I noted that some Muslim countries, most notably Saudi Arabia, outlaw proselytization by Christians. Again, Menshawy steered the conversation down various cul-de-sacs for a good 10 minutes until we eventually reached the following conclusion:

Me: "You're dodging the question. Can you conceive of circumstances where a government may lock up a person for advocating a religion, yes or no?"

Menshawy: "I'm not going to answer that question."

Here's another classic in the genre:

Me: "Do you think there are circumstances under which someone can be locked up legitimately for exercising free speech?"

Menshawy: "I don't know that there are. But I don't know that there aren't." [...]

COMMENTS: I realize this is a controversial issue. I'd like those who comment to stick to the narrow issue of whether it is acceptable for Muslims in America to either argue for or stay silent on issues of intolerance among Muslims in other countries. In many such countries, for example, the law bans proseyltization by Christians. Many Muslims support that practice but openly proselytize here in America.

Is that sort of behavior acceptable? That's what is at issue here.
Well spoken. Kudos to Mr. Munshine for providing a voice of reason at a mainstream paper in discussing the subjects. I do hope more like him will speak up and stress the problems we're facing here.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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