07.30.10 Standing Up to Anti-Muslim Bigotry

This is a long post that will take some patience to get through.  It begins with a classic internet hoax email sent to me (sadly) by a relative of mine.  (I guess he assumes, since we are ethnic Jews [I’m not “of the faith”] that I would be sympathetic to an anti-Muslim rant.)  Following that is a discussion between me, my brother (Seth), and the woman who originated this instance of the email calumny (Max).

Here’s the original email [color emphasis preserved from original]:

Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 11:32 AM

Subject: FW: Fwd: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

A must read!

This was written by a woman born in Egypt as a Muslim.

This is not hearsay, and it will scare the life out of you.

Make sure you read the paragraph (in red) towards the end.

Joys of Muslim Women

by Nonie Darwish

In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child. Consummating the marriage by 9.

The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave) and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.

Even though a woman is abused she cannot obtain a divorce.

To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses.

Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry.  The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. Husbands can beat their wives ‘at will’ and he does not have to say why he has beaten her.

The husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion.

The Shariah Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.

In the West World ( America ) Muslim men are starting to demand Shariah Law so the wife cannot obtain a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her.  It is amazing and alarming how many of our sisters and daughters attending American Universities are now marrying Muslim men and submitting themselves and their children unsuspectingly to the Shariah law.

By passing this on, enlightened American women may avoid becoming a slave under Shariah Law.

Ripping the West in Two.

Author and lecturer Nonie Darwish says the goal of radical Islamists is to impose Shariah law on the world, ripping Western law and liberty in two.

She recently authored the book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.

Darwish was born in Cairo and spent her childhood in Egypt and Gaza  before immigrating to America in 1978, when she was eight years old. Her father died while leading covert attacks on  Israel .  He was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza

When he died, he was considered a “shahid,” a martyr for jihad. His posthumous status earned Nonie and her family an elevated position in Muslim society.

But Darwish developed a skeptical eye at an early age. She questioned her own Muslim culture and upbringing.. She converted to Christianity after hearing a Christian preacher on television.

In her latest book, Darwish warns about creeping sharia law – what it is, what it means, and how it is manifested in Islamic countries.

For the West, she says radical Islamists are working to impose sharia on the world. If that happens, Western civilization will be destroyed. Westerners generally assume all religions encourage a respect for the dignity of each individual  Islamic law (Sharia) teaches that non-Muslims should be subjugated or killed in this world.

Peace and prosperity for one’s children is not as important as assuring that Islamic law rules everywhere in the Middle East and eventually in the world.

While Westerners tend to think that all religions encourage some form of the golden rule, Sharia teaches two systems of ethics – one for Muslims and another for non-Muslims. Building on tribal practices of the seventh century, Sharia encourages the side of humanity that wants to take from and subjugate others.

While Westerners tend to think in terms of religious people developing a personal understanding of and relationship with God, Sharia advocates executing people who ask difficult questions that could be interpreted as criticism.

It’s hard to imagine, that in this day and age, Islamic scholars agree that those who criticize Islam or choose to stop being Muslim should be executed. Sadly, while talk of an Islamic reformation is common and even assumed by many in the West, such murmurings in the Middle East are silenced through intimidation.

While Westerners are accustomed to an increase in religious tolerance over time, Darwish explains how petro dollars are being used to grow an extremely intolerant form of political Islam in her native Egypt and elsewhere.

(In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the  U.S.   to elect the President by themselves! Rest assured they will do so… You can look at how they have taken over several towns in the USA .. Dearborn Mich. is one… and there are others…)

I think everyone in the U.S. should be required to read this, but with the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!

It is too bad that so many are disillusioned with life and Christianity to accept Muslims as peaceful.. some may be but they have an army that is willing to shed blood in the name of Islam.. the peaceful support the warriors with their finances and own kind of patriotism to their religion. While America is getting rid of Christianity from all public sites and erasing God from the lives of children the Muslims are planning a great jihad on America ..

This is your chance to make a difference…! Pass it on to your email list or at least those you think will listen..

Some of those I’m sending it to WILL NOT!

Put your head back under the covers so you can’t see the boogie man!

Here is is the reply I sent to Max and everyone else whom my relative had forwarded the email to:

Date: July 29, 2010 11:04:50 PM EDT

Subject: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

For shame — this is bigotry, pure and simple!

I condemn anti-Semitism (against Jews and Arabs, who are both Semitic peoples) and all other forms of bigotry, from racism to homophobia to sexism.

There are fundamentalist extremists in all religions.  There is no more a secret conspiracy of Muslims to infest the US and impose Sharia than there are Protocols of Zion and a secret conspiracy of Jews to rule the world

I oppose fundamentalism, injustice, and violence on all sides.  I am grateful for the ACLU that works day in and day out to protect and preserve your civil liberties and mine.

I love my family and it pains me to have to respond publicly on this matter, but I cannot let communications like this go without comment.

Of course, among your civil liberties is your right to disagree with me and I am open to your feedback.

–Keith

And Max’s reply:

Date: July 30, 2010 8:05:44 AM EDT

Subject: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

Hi Keith..

Obviously we disagree on this but here is the Urbanlegends confirmation of the factuality of the information……but then  the great thing about the United States we can all agree to disagree until the ACLU lobbies to take that right away!

Max

Analysis: Despite the attribution at the top — “Joys of Muslim Women by Nonie Darwish” — this text was not written by Nonie Darwish; indeed, the bottom two-thirds of it refer to her repeatedly in the third person. Darwish confirmed via email that she didn’t write the article, though it is, in her words, “to a large extent accurate.” She said her 2009 book,Cruel and Usual Punishment, better represents her views, however.

It should be noted that though the article is at least partially based on Darwish’s personal experiences growing up in a Muslim country and reading the Qur’an, it’s awash in generalizations and makes pronouncements about Islam and Islamic practices that don’t necessarily hold true for all Muslims.

For more on Nonie Darwish’s views in her own words, see Cruel and Usual Punishment (Interview) – FrontPage Magazine, 13 March 2009.

For a differing view on the Islamic faith, see Myths About Islam by Christine Huda Dodge – About.com.

My next turn:

Date: July 30, 2010 10:17:41 AM EDT

Subject: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

Hi Max!

First of all, I really appreciate your replying in a civil manner, even though we may disagree.  Second, I’m glad you take the time to check the accuracy of information before forwarding it, at least partly.

For what it’s worth, I was not disputing that fundamentalist Islam is cruel, especially to women.  There’s no doubt about that.  The things I dispute are: (1) that fundamentalist Islam represents a majority of Muslims (hard for me to disprove, but certainly there are huge numbers of Muslims who are relatively secular and wholly modern) and (2) that Muslims are going to take over our politics and country if we don’t stop them.  In 2009, there were 2,454,000 Muslims in the US out of a total population of 310,000,000 — that’s .079% (see: http://bit.ly/asL0Vf for Muslim stats; US total population I got from the CIA World Factbook). Like I wrote earlier, it is mathematically impossible for such a small percentage to become a majority in 20 years, unless the US suddenly goes out and actively recruits a hundred-million Muslims to immigrate here (like that would ever happen!). To report otherwise is nothing but race-based fear-mongering.

In contrast, Jews make up about 2.5% of the US population (http://bit.ly/ckang0).  Anti-Semites claim that we run the not only the US, but the world.  That’s a lie, of course (like the lie in the email you have circulated),  But, there is no question that Jewish influence in the US is far greater than our numbers: in terms of political organizing, campaign contributions, op-ed writers, scientists, lawyers, stock-brokers, artists, and intellectuals in general, we are hugely overrepresented. Honestly, what do we have to fear from a tiny and uninfluential Muslim minority in our country?

This is not to say there is no international threat to the US from militant Islamic fundamentalists.  They can do and have done great damage.  But even in the international sphere, these militants are a tiny minority of all Muslims.  It’s important, in any case, not to confuse an international military threat and the existence of people of a certain ethnic heritage or religious practice here at home.  (Think of the injustice done to Japanese-Americans during World War II, when we threw them into concentration camps because of where their parents or grandparents happened to be from.)

Ok, the culture and practices of fundamentalist Islam are abhorrent to us. I would argue that the Lubivitchers’ and Southern Baptists’ practices and beliefs are equally abhorrent.  And the fundamentalist Christians in our country are much closer to implementing their views though legislation than Muslims here ever will be.  (In fact, fundamentalist Christians already have imposed  their will on huge swaths of the US: consider, for example, the disappearance of evolution from our schools and of available abortion services in most states).

I can’t talk you out of being scared or of harboring ill-will toward Muslims in your heart.  But I can urge you to put your communications about these issues in perspective and to avoid inciting hatred for its own sake.

Thanks for listening.

–Keith

Seth weighs in:

Date: July 30, 2010 11:09:24 AM EDT

Subject: Re: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

There is another urban legend – that Nonie Darwish is an unbiased commentator on Islam. When the West considers information on a culture or advocacy group, the source must always be taken into account, and Darwish is not a source whose opinions can be accepted blindly. She has, in a word, renounced Islam for a US fundamntalist-Christian strain of loyalty to Israel, and in so doing has essentially declared that her views on Islam are unsympathetic in the extreme. So when she labels  Islam as inherently Jihadist she is grinding an axe to a very sharp and dangerous point. And no one reading her should fail to appreciate that. This does not mean that her facts are wrong, it does mean that her opinions are suspect.

Max, I don’t know you. You don’t know me either. I will disclose that I am Keith’s brother. But you tell me too much about you by accusing the ACLU of stifling speech. It was the ACLU that was willing to lose half its members to defend the right of white supremacists to march in Skokie, Ilinois. The ACLU has rarely supported any limits on politically-incorrect speech. That you would say otherwise only suggests that you, Max, like Ms. Darwish, are more interested in agenda than accuracy. I will defend your right to spread untruths because I take a very broard view of speech rights.

Max, by breeding hatred that did not exist in reality to the degree you claim you are making the world far more dangerous than it would be otherwise. The Talibn had little power (box cutters are not power) before the US fed the flames of anti-Muslim jingoism. The Taliban will not weaken as long as average Muslims feel they need to protect themselves from average Americans.

Seth Berner

Max’s turn:

Date: July 30, 2010 12:26:54 PM EDT

Subject: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

Hi Seth!

I am getting to speak w/ all the Berner boys today!

Actually I am more concerned w/ women’s rights than anything else..as you cannot surmise from my name I am a woman and I work on many efforts globally to end women’s oppression and slavery…and that crosses all religions and cultures but when it is previlant in the laws of certain countires or cultures that is a reason of concern for all humanity and especially to other women.

Comments?

Max

And my final reply:

Date: July 30, 2010 12:59:59 PM EDT

Subject: Re: JOYS OF MUSLIM WOMEN

Max–

I honor your support of women’s rights.  Indeed, I have been passionate about gender issues since I was raised by a feminist mother.  But I just don’t see how fighting one form of bigotry can justify using another form.

As I wrote, there is no doubt about the cruelty of fundamentalist Islam to women (among its other less-than-savory practices).  So — condemn those practices!  But don’t denounce Muslims — all 1.6 billion of them (and the measly 2.4 million in the US of A).  And, rather than relying on the message of one justifiably angry former fundamentalist Muslim, why not also seek out the view of Islamic feminists and progressives?  The brush you are using condemns these folks and the hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t makes their women wear veils, don’t engage in honor killings, don’t blow up planes, etc.

(Do you know, by the way, that the Hindu Indians have an appalling record of honor killings?  Do you know that female genital mutilation in Africa is most prevalent in non-Muslim countries? Shall we seek to banish these people from our shores?)

In any case, there are countries in this world whose human rights records are atrocious, regardless of their religious make-up.   I support the cause of human rights everywhere – for women oppressed by fundamentalist Muslims, for Jews hated by Austrians (who continue to elect anti-Semitic leaders), for Falun Gang members brutally crushed by China.  I support the cause of Hispanics who have been subjected to progroms in Arizona.  Spreading hate — as opposed to shedding light — against any of the perpetrators will not relieve the oppression one iota.

Your communication (forwarding the hoax-ish email) helps no one.  If your cause is feminism, you are not even helping yourself and other women, because your uncareful, inflammatory speech kills your credibility.  Credibility is enhanced by truth, facts, and fairness.

And Seth is right.  Your view of the ACLU is factually incorrect.  You may disagree with the results of ACLU actions (for one thing, they will stand up every time for the rights of Muslims in this country to be treated fairly and justly), but it has never lobbied to remove or reduce the rights of *anyone*.  How does it help your cause to go after them?

Keith

Blog Post ©2010 Keith Berner; emails composed by each identified author.

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4 Comments on “07.30.10 Standing Up to Anti-Muslim Bigotry”

  1. zamanbitiyor Says:

    An informative blog

    Like

  2. Fuoad S. Says:

    Keith,

    I am Muslim and my wife who works at a Jewish Temple had one of the members forward this to the Temple’s email (which the person said was by mistake). My wife, who is a convert to Islam, was offended by this and complained to the Rabbi who agreed with my wife’s repugnance. I urge people reading this not to put much stock in many untrue things that Noni Derwish says.

    I am an immigrant to this country and forfeited the citizenship of my old country because I wanted to be a citizen of a nation which had more enlightened citizens. I don’t care for the fear-mongering and hatred floating around about Muslims in this country and encourage people to find out what Islam really says about jihad, rights of women and violence.

    I am Muslim not only because I was born one but also chose to embrace it as an adult because of the fairness it embodies. I appreciate your views not because you are defending Islam or Muslims but because of their fairness.

    Thanks.

    Like

  3. Biggs Says:

    I am sick of this. People hating one another for what they believe in. To me I ask the question what if we are all wrong. There is no God, Allah or whatever you believe in. That leaves us with this life. A life everyone shares a common goal. To Live, enjoy their life, to love, to accomplish, to prosper. When I see one religion or another suppress another human being, it makes me angry. It’s an attack on what every human being wants to be. Themselves. I think an attack on any people in the name of something else other than self defense is murder, bullying, forceful and by all means not acceptable. I think foremost people should be punished for trying to change other people’s way of life. Just because you believe in a certain way doesn’t make you right, a God or give you the right to attack me. If we spent the same amount of money we have on wars in helping each other through things we can not control such as drought, starvation, viral epidemics, etc, we would have a very peaceful world. The worst thing that happen to us in evaluation is taking free will and justifying it as an oppression to force on others. We have no right whatsoever to compare our life to others and say you are wrong. The only time we can do that is when the human race becomes endangered because of someone’s ideals. I don’t judge people for what they are or what they believe in. I just say shame on you if you think I should believe the same way you do. It’s time we embrace human life and respect it for what it is and what we know we al want. To live in peace. Eat well, love and prosper.

    Like


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