This is, of course, how Islamic groups in the U.S. have reacted to every act of violence and every threat that any Muslim has issued in recent years: they've raised fears of a non-existent "backlash" and claimed they're being persecuted, rather than address the root causes of the violence and brutality within their own community. And the bemused, befuddled multiculturalists in the mainstream media go along with it happily, every time.
The Orlando Sentinel has been engaging in a full-scale campaign to discredit Rifqa Bary and her defenders. Pamela Geller skewered a few of their recent propaganda pieces here, here, and here. And here's the Sentinel's latest fresh steaming pile of Rifqa coverage:
"Muslims fear runaway girl's case will fuel religious hatred," by Jeff Kunerth for the Orlando Sentinel, August 31 (thanks to Larry):
From the sidelines, the Muslim community watches the saga of Fathima Rifqa Bary with sadness and weariness.
What looks to many Muslims like a family squabble between Muslim parents in Columbus, Ohio, and their runaway daughter in Orlando has become something of a new crusade by evangelical Christians.
Forget about Rifqa's charge that her father threatened to kill her. This was all provoked by the media's favorite whipping boy, "evangelical Christians."
The frustration for many Muslims in Central Florida is that the accusations of one teenage girl who says she fears her father would kill her for becoming a Christian has become a wholesale distortion of their religion.
"We feel frustrated because this is a family problem of a certain family, and the way it has been portrayed is defaming Islam and giving a way, way negative picture of our religion," said Imam Tariq Rasheed, director of the Islamic Center of Orlando.
See how it works? Father threatens to kill girl, in full accord with Islamic law regarding apostates. Girl flees, and reports what her father said. And suddenly this becomes an act of "defaming Islam." Even if Rifqa's father didn't actually threaten her, there is nothing in the least unbelievable about the charge that he did, in light of the many killings of apostates and threats to their lives that take place frequently in the Islamic world.
Yet if you speak of this, you're "defaming Islam" -- a clever ploy to try to deflect attention away from the killings for apostasy, and from the father's alleged threat, and onto Muslims as being victimized by coverage of all this.
And now the Sentinel explains it all for you, letting Islamic spokesmen correct the alleged errors of Rifqa's defenders:
In their advocacy of the 17-year-old girl, her defenders contend that Bary's fears of being beaten or killed because she converted to Christianity are real. The fundamentalists lobbying the state to allow Bary to remain in Florida cite instances of "honor killings" where women and girls who have shamed their families have been killed.
"There is a significant population, a growing population, of extremist Muslims who take the Quran quite literally and apply it as they have on this case," said Bary's attorney John Stemberger. "My concern is she is literally a dead girl if she is sent back to Ohio. It's only a matter of time until she disappears into the night."
Quran vs. law
Such a contention is a blatant misrepresentation of Islam, Rasheed said.
"There is not a single verse in the holy Quran that stops a person from exercising the freedom of choosing his or her religion. There is nothing about a punishment if you change your religion," Rasheed said.
Ultimately, even if what Stemberger says were a "blatant misrepresentation of Islam," which it is not, it is irrelevant. For Rifqa's father may have threatened her even if to have done so would have violated the tenets of Islam. The assumption that Mohamed Bary, or anyone, must always and in every instance act in accord with the tenets of his religion is absurd. Rifqa Bary could be in danger from her father whatever Islam teaches. Rasheed is essentially arguing that Islam doesn't teach death for apostasy, and therefore Rifqa is not in danger.
But of course, Rasheed is also lying. The death penalty for apostasy is rooted in two Qur'anic verses, 2:217 and 4:89. Here is 2:217:
They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.
What does it mean that the works of those who "turn back from their faith and die in unbelief" will "bear no fruit in this life" as well as in the next? Let's go for an answer to the Tafsir al-Qurtubi, a classic and thoroughly mainstream exegesis of the Qur'an. About 2:217, Qurtubi says this:
Scholars disagree about whether or not apostates are asked to repent. One group say that they are asked to repent and, if they do not, they are killed. Some say they are given an hour and others a month. Others say that they are asked to repent three times, and that is the view of Malik. Al-Hasan said they are asked a hundred times. It is also said that they are killed without being asked to repent.
Did you notice one option that Qurtubi never mentions? That's right: he never says anything like "some say the apostate should not be killed." The only point of contention seems to be how long the Muslim must wait before he kills the apostate.
Meanwhile, 4:89 says this:
They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they). But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.
Thus those who have fled from what is forbidden, i.e., embraced Islam, should be killed if they "turn renegades." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn, another venerable and respected commentary on the Qur'an, explains that a Muslim should not trust these people "until they emigrate in the way of God, a proper emigration that would confirm their belief" -- that is, if they leave their homes to join up with the Muslims. "Then, if they turn away, and remain upon their ways, take them, as captives, and slay them wherever you find them." Here again, no attempt is made, in this Qur'an commentary or any of those that Muslims revere as trustworthy, to explain that this does not actually mean that one should kill the "renegade."
And of course Rasheed speak only about the Qur'an. He never mentions, although he surely must know, that Muhammad said "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him," and that this statement in the Hadith (in which it appears several times) became the foundation for the unanimous verdict of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence: the apostate must be killed.
The article continues:
Though there are Muslim nations where "honor killings" are condoned, it is not for leaving Islam, said Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, assistant professor of religion at the University of Florida. Non-Muslims often confuse "honor killings" with a provision in ancient Islamic law that calls for capital punishment for Muslims who leave the religion. But that law is applied by a court, not by individuals or family members, as is the custom with "honor killings," which usually involve adultery or fornication by unmarried women.
"They assume the law and the Quran are synonymous, and they are not," Simmons said. "The Quran is not a law book."
No, but there is Islamic law, and a manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy says that "retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right." However, "not subject to retaliation" is "a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring's offspring." ('Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2).
In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. In accord with this, in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that "Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values."
Fathima Rifqa Bary herself may be confused about the difference between capital punishment under Islamic law and honor killings, Simmons said.
Not all Muslim countries operate under Islamic law and not all Muslim countries permit honor killings — just as not all states in America have the death penalty. Sri Lanka, where Bary's parents are from, does not use Islamic law in its judicial system, Simmons said.
So what? Are we to believe that because Sri Lanka doesn't follow Islamic law, that therefore the Barys don't follow it either?
The custody battle between Christian evangelicals in Florida and her Muslim parents in Ohio comes at the same time an evangelical church in Gainesville posted a sign that said "Islam is of the Devil" on its property. Several children were sent home the first week of school for wearing T-shirts with that message.
Both cases — equating Islam with evil and contending that Muslims who convert to Christianity will be killed — feed into what Simmons calls "Islamophobia."
Where did anyone get the idea that "Muslims who convert to Christianity will be killed"? Was it really from greasy Islamophobes? Or might it have been from the Muslims who insisted on exactly that (see all my links above)?
"This plays into an irrational sense of fear among people who aren't familiar with the tenets of the faith," she said.
The portrayal of violent Muslims who want to kill their daughter and devoted evangelical Christians who want only to save the soul of a innocent child only perpetuates stereotypes of both Muslims and Christians, said Claudia Schippert, associate professor of humanities at the University of Central Florida.
"What is shameful in this entire ordeal is the way in which those who should know better, and who profess quite different values otherwise, are willing to repeat stereotypes and fuel fires of ignorance and violence," she said of the Christians at the center of this controversy.
On Aug. 21, Muslims began their monthlong observance of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims turn inward away from the distractions of the everyday world that, these days, include the tug-of-war over a teenage girl who has placed their religion on trial.
"With other communities, when an individual does something, it's that individual," Rasheed said. "When it's a Muslim, it's Islam that is the motivating factor."
And why might that be?
"The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam." -- Osama bin Laden, October 6, 2002
"We ask to be near to God, we fight you and destroy you and terrorize you. The Jihad in god's cause is a great duty in our religion." -- the 9/11 plotters, December 2008
And so on. In other words, people see Islam as "the motivating factor" in Islamic violence because its perpetrators say that it was the motivating factor.