Middle East studies in the News
Just How "Afraid" are Muslims at Amherst College? [incl. the Middle East Studies Association]
Out at Amherst, where hope is the thing with feathers, a panel discussion about Islam at the college on September 25 included Michael Graham, a radio host who has, in the past, suffered for his outspokenness about Islam.
After the event, Muslim students wrote an "Open Letter," claiming that Graham had made them "afraid" and that he ought to "apologize" for what he said. In their complaint they quoted briefly from his remarks the other day, but concentrated mainly on what he said 12 years ago on his Washington radio show. And what he said in 2005 was this: "Islam is a terrorist organization," "moderate Muslims are those who only want to kill Jews," and finally, that "the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam." CAIR protested at the time, and Graham was fired as a result. These remarks do not appear to be threats, but attempts at characterization which may or may not be true. They hardly qualify as "hate speech" that threatened Muslims then, much less threatens them today.
Did Graham, at Amherst College in September 2017, physically threaten Muslims or suggest that others should harm them? Did he attempt to whip up hatred toward all Muslims? Apparently not, for if he had, we can be sure that in their letter of complaint the Muslim students would have included such remarks. Here is what he said: "Every rational person should acknowledge that Islam is the only major world religion with terror committed in its name." When the KKK was brought up as an example of Christian terrorism he replied that the KKK was a "minority group" within Christianity; he might also have added that the KKK is not following Christian doctrine at all. Graham claimed that "there is a civil war going on in Islam right now," which the Muslims who wrote the Open Letter bizarrely insisted was a way of implying that Islam is limited to a war-torn geographical region. Graham did not say, however, that this "civil war" has engulfed the entire Muslim world. The complaining Muslims claimed Graham said that "all Afghans are wired differently from the rest of the world." Graham explained that what he meant by that was simply this: having been invaded so often in their history, the Afghans have come to deeply distrust all foreigners.
The only thing we know for certain about the writers of the "Open Letter" is that they wish, through their demand for an "apology," to limit the freedom of speech when it comes to Islam and Muslims. It's an attempt at censorship. For if an apology could indeed be elicited (as of this writing, it has not been forthcoming), that would be a warning to others not to dare in the future to criticise Islam as Graham had done.
The "Open Letter" of the Muslim Student Association (which was also signed by members of the South Asian Student Association) included this astonishing remark:
"No student should ever have to feel afraid for their safety or have to wake up in the morning knowing that there are other students on this campus who hate them for an integral part of their identity and are willing and able to voice these hurtful ideas on a public platform."
As there is no evidence — no direct quote from Graham — provided to show why it would be reasonable for Muslims "to feel afraid for their safety or have to wake up in the morning knowing that there are other students on this campus who hate them for an integral part of their identity and are willing and able to voice these hurtful ideas on a public platform," we can only take on faith that Muslims "feel afraid" because of something Graham said. In the letter of protest, there was ample room to quote any threats he might have made, but there were none; since his remarks 12 years ago were stronger than those he made two weeks ago, and we were being asked to believe that those "Islamophobic" comments still hung in the air and, presumably, were right now making Muslims "afraid." And if there was such fear, why did only nine people, out of the entire membership of both the Muslim Student Association and the South Asian Student Association, sign the letter of protest? In fact, judging by their names, at most four of the nine were Muslims; the other five simply went along as a gesture of solidarity. So, out of a student body of nearly 2,000, with — we can reasonably assume — about 50-100 Muslims among them, only four Muslims bothered even to sign a letter about their supposedly feeling "afraid" for their "safety." This handful of protesters against Graham does not suggest that, as the protest letter insists, Graham's "presence on campus was extremely unsettling and disturbing for students who identify as Muslim." If it were, surely more than four of Amherst's Muslims would have signed. And since we know that there have been many cases of manufactured "victimization" by Muslims across the country — see Robert Spencer's "It Has Been A Big Week For Fake Hate" — why should we not believe, rather, that the fear that handful claim to feel is entirely made-up, designed to support the suppression of anti-Islamic speech, no matter how fact-based that speech may be. Furthermore, the letter of protest was not just a protest about past speech, but was in effect a demand for prior approval, by Muslims, of any speakers coming to the Amherst campus to talk about Islam. Here is how this extraordinary demand for prior censorship was worded:
"We feel that a dialogue prior to the event with the relevant student groups — especially the Muslim Students Association (MSA), but also other groups such as South Asian Students Association (SASA), Middle East Studies and Student Association (MESSA) and International Students Association (ISA) — would have been conducive to finding a productive and appropriate speaker qualified to speak on this topic while still keeping the perspective that ACR wanted to share through this event."
In other words, the Amherst Conservative Review ought to have consulted — that is, established a "dialogue" — with the Middle East Studies and Student Association (and other groups representing foreign students) so as to find "a productive and appropriate speaker qualified to speak on this topic" (Islam). That means censorship by Muslims.
All of this talk about being "afraid for their safety" puts one in mind, of course, of the truly hair-raising remarks about Unbelievers in the Qur'an itself, that is the immutable and uncreated word of God. At Qur'an 98:6, Muslims learn that non-Muslims are "the most vile of creatures," while Muslims themselves are — see Qur'an 3:110 — "the best of peoples." Muslims are commanded to attack non-Muslims, not for anything they have done, but because they are Unbelievers. If you were aware of even a handful of the 109 verses about Jihad, wouldn't that be cause for real, and not feigned, alarm?
Consider this handful:
9:5: "(The Verse of the Sword): And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful."
9:29: "Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.'
2:191-193: "And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah's; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers."
8:12 (A famous "strike terror" verse featuring dismemberment and beheading): "[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, 'I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'"
47:4: "So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah – never will He waste their deeds."
Imagine the more than 100 other verses in the Qur'an similar to these in significance. Think, too, of the nearly 31,884 attacks by Muslims since 9/11/2001. Think of the news brought each day, about the slaughter of a Coptic priest, and then a day or two later, of a Coptic bishop in Egypt, of jailed Christians awaiting to be put to death for "blasphemy" in Pakistan, of the killing of Christians by Muslims, for the crime of being Christians, in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia. Think of the Sunni attacks on the Shi'a as well — for let's not forget that for many Sunnis, the Shi'a are no better than Infidels.
It would not be ridiculous for you, if a non-Muslim, to be "afraid for your safety" in much of the world, including now parts of Europe where Muslims are now a considerable and aggressive presence, not because of a single speaker, such as Michael Graham, but because of 1.5 billion people who are taught to, and most do, believe, that the Qur'an is the Word of God, the Qur'an which includes so many murderous imprecations against the Infidels.
Or suppose you are not just non-Muslim but, specifically, Jewish, and you are aware of what is written about Jews both in the Qur'an and by the most respected Qur'anic commentators.
Robert Spencer's compilation is hair-raising:
The Qur'an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah's power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah's beloved people (5:18); devouring people's wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.
The classic Qur'anic commentators do not mitigate the Qur'an's words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur'an 2:61 ("They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah") this way: "This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly." Another Middle Ages commentator of lingering influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: "The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled."
Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, when "the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with 'Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews." The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. 'O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'" This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.
Not just contemporary jihadists, but modern-day mainstream Islamic authorities take these passages seriously. The former Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who was the most respected cleric in the world among Sunni Muslims, called Jews "the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs." The late Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon that Jews are "the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs."
Another Saudi sheikh, Ba'd bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: "The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places ... is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam–which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam."
Shouldn't Jews, those that become aware of these Qur'anic verses and the commentary on them right up to today, have much greater reason to be "afraid for their safety" than Muslims who claim that a handful of remarks uttered twelve years ago by one Michael Graham, whose words, unlike the Qur'an, are not taken by anyone to be the Word of God but indeed got him promptly fired — have made them "afraid"? Don't Christians, who are denounced, not quite as frequently as Jews, but still often enough in the Qur'an, and of course they are included in all of the 109 Jihad verses directed at Infidels, also have real reason to be afraid "for their personal safety"? Do we see, as we look around the world, murders of Muslims by Christians, or only the reverse? Look at the Coptic priest, and the bishop, both stabbed to death in recent days in Egypt. Think of all the Assyrians and Chaldeans killed in Iraq and Syria in the last decade, the churches blown up, the more than a million Christians who have fled Iraq since 2003 alone. Think of the Christians in Pakistan killed by mobs for supposed "blasphemy" (even now several sit in prison awaiting their death sentence to be carried out in more formal fashion), of the martyrdom of Bishop John Joseph in Pakistan in 1998, who committed suicide to protest the mistreatment of Christians in that country. Think of the Christian schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia, the Christian villages razed, the churches torched, by Muslim mobs, sometimes on the direct orders of imams. Think of the Christian villages destroyed, and the Christian girls kidnapped, by Boko Haram, in northern Nigeria. With all of these attacks by Muslims, against Christians, now as in the past, who should really be "afraid"?
It would be salutary if, by way of reply to the "Open Letter" of protest signed by four Muslims, the Amherst Conservative Review were to offer not the apology demanded, but rather, to produce for public consumption the verses in the Qur'an that command Jihad warfare against the Infidels, an enormous and unanswerable list of terrifying commands to "strike terror," to "smite at their necks," to "slay them wherever you find them,'" and so on, letting those grim quotes be submitted to a candid world, and asking rhetorically, if anyone has good reason to be afraid, is it not the those against whom these verses are directed? Then let everyone judge for himself which remarks — those of one Michael Graham, speaking only for himself, and threatening no one — or the more than 100 Jihad verses in the Qur'an, are more likely to make someone "afraid...for his own safety."
The protesting Muslim students — all four of them — insist that "No student should ever have to feel afraid for their safety or have to wake up in the morning knowing that there are other students on this campus who hate them for an integral part of their identity and are willing and able to voice these hurtful ideas on a public platform." True enough: but anyone familiar with the Qur'an will want to redirect these words at Muslims themselves. Which Amherst students have good reason to "feel afraid for their safety" because "other students...hate them for an integral part of their identity"? Don't the Qur'an's many Jihad verses command murderous hatred and killing of non-Muslims not because of what they do, but only because of an "integral part of their identity" — that is, the very fact of their being non-Muslims? Haven't we non-Muslims, when we see what has happened to other non-Muslims, conquered and subjugated by Muslims during the past 1400 years, earned the melancholy right to feel afraid? I'm — afraid — so.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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