Sunday, August 21, 2005

Voice of the Cape Talks Back

Last month I wrote about some articles on the web site of the Voice of the Cape, a Muslim radio station in South Africa. That post can be found here. The thrust of it is that there is indeed, at last, a shift in "Muslim opinion" away from terrorism, and that the VOC articles are evidence of that shift.

This week Mr. Shafiq Morton, the author of one of the articles, posted two comments on my original post. These are given below in their entirety. The first is:
"Imam Faisel Abdur-Rauf was edited out by the New York Times. Read his book 'What's Right with Islam'."
This is in reference to this part of his original article, which I quoted with a "Yeah, right" dismissal:
"The other side of the proverbial coin is that the broader community may argue that it sees too little of Muslim abhorrence of terror. The fact is that it's usually there, but unheard. When, for example, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of New York condemned 911 with his Christian and Jewish counterparts, the New York Times edited out his statement."
First of all, Mr. Abdur-Rauf's remarks may or may not have been edited by The New York Times. I doubt very much that any strong condemnation of a Muslim of 9/11 in a public forum about the attack would (or could) have been covered up by the Times. It would have been "big news" in the US. Even had they desired to do so, there would certainly have been plenty of other media present to publicize it.

I did Google searches on Mr. Abdur-Rauf, using some variations of the spellings. He appeared on the TV show "60 Minutes" on Sept. 30, 2001, talking about Islam and terrorism with other panelists. Reading his remarks in the transcript of the show, he does offer some condemnation of the killers along with criticism of the US. The "60 Minutes" shows are always heavily edited, so perhaps this is the venue and incident he refers to in his book? He would not be the first guest (or the last) on "60 Minutes" to complain about the editing, as the show is notorious for that.

Mr. Morton's second comment was:
By the way, don't insult my intelligence by saying I'm "half-heartedly" condemning terrorism. I have never condoned - and never will- the killing or hurting of innocents anywhere, at any time. Please don't smear me with innuendo. It doesn't serve debate very well.

I went back to the VOC site to try to re-read the entire article, but I cannot find it anymore. The link leads to a page that changes. I don't see the article in the archives, and a Google site search doesn't find it either. There is a new article by Mr. Morton at the site (link will not last).

Mr. Morton, I must agree based on the parts of your original article that I quoted and your new article that I see no instances of you "half-heartedly" condemning terrorism. I therefore withdraw that charge and apologize for making it in the first place. I will update my original post accordingly.

Returning to the issue of Muslim condemnations of the "Islamists" / "jihadists," I (and others) often find them tepid. Too often the main aim seems to be protection of Islam's reputation by denial and taqqiya. Actually combatting the radicals is not so important. For example, CAIR has apparently never seen an anti-terrorism measure or arrest that it agrees with.

In contrast, consider the reaction of the Israelis to the Jewish terrorist who attacked Arab Israelis. Similarly, if any American were to get wind of a plan to attack a mosque or Muslims, it would be expected that we would immediately report it to the police. Failure to report it would make anyone who knew about it an accomplice and subject to arrest. Do Muslims get a similar message from their imams about the need to root out and expose extremists? Perhaps many do, but clearly there are many who do not get that message.

We'd like Islam to really be a "religion of peace," but look around the world today. Muslims are killing innocent people of all religions: Christians; Hindus; Jews; Buddhists; atheists... They are doing it in the name of Islam. This is not a problem of the perception of Islam by non-believers; it's a fundamental problem within Islam itself. In the end, that can only be fixed by Muslims vigorously rejecting the killers.

Mr. Morton and VOC seem to be moving the discussion in the correct direction. We wish them well.

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