Michael Kruse is yet another mainstream media pseudo-journalist who relentlessly pursues a politically correct multiculturalist agenda, and the facts be damned. You can see previous discussion of this “reporter’s” casual acquaintance with the truth here.
Yesterday in the St. Petersburg Times he continued his campaign to discredit Rifqa Bary, the girl who says her father threatened to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity, and her defenders. A girl’s life is a stake, but who cares? The gods of political correctness must be appeased.
“How real are runaway’s fears?,” by Michael Kruse for the St. Petersburg Times, September 19 (thanks to Kinana):
Will religious runaway Rifqa Bary be killed if she’s sent home to Ohio?
Bary is the 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida in July because she’s terrified that her Muslim family has to murder her due to her conversion to Christianity.
Authorities in both states say there’s no “credible” threat against her. Investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say her fear is “subjective and speculative.” Her parents say they don’t want to hurt her and just want her back.
On the FDLE report, see this analysis of its many flaws by a veteran FBI agent. As for what her parents say, what does anyone realistically expect them to say? Even if everything Rifqa Bary has said that they said to her is true, does Michael Kruse, or the FDLE, or the Governor of Ohio, or anyone else actually think that they’re going to say, “Yes, of course we want to kill her, now send her back to us so that we can slit her throat!”? Also, other fathers who have threatened to kill their daughters have lured them back home with assurances that all is forgiven — only to murder them when they return. These include Yaser Said, the father of Amina and Sarah Said, who were murdered in Texas on New Year’s Day 2008, and Mohammed Parvez, father of Aqsa Parvez, who was murdered in Canada in 2007. Do we really want to take that kind of a chance with Rifqa Bary’s life?
She’s living with a foster family as a court in Orlando tries to decide what to do with her. The next hearing is Monday afternoon. Attorneys for her parents are expected to argue that the case should be shifted to Ohio.
This is a good time to pause for a bit and take another look at her Aug. 10 interview with local TV. It remains this ongoing story’s primary source.
“I’m fighting for my life!” she said in her nearly seven-minute interview with Orlando’s WFTV. “You guys don’t understand!”
Let’s understand then.
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“Imagine the honor in killing me,” she said. “It’s in the Koran.”
It’s not. Here’s what is.
Note that this supposedly “objective” journalist does not simply report — as would a genuinely objective journalist — that some people say that the Koran mandates the killing of apostates and that some people say it doesn’t. Instead, he sets himself up as judge in the case and decides it all for you. To be sure, he trots out witnesses in his show trial, including me, but he has already delivered his verdict: Is the death penalty for apostates in the Koran? “It’s not.”
One verse: “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.”
Another verse: “If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them.”
Those are parts of the two verses Robert Spencer cites to support his belief that Bary will be killed because Islam says she must be killed.
I don’t think Rifqa Bary “will be killed because Islam says she must be killed.” That would be asinine, and I expect Kruse knows that. I think Rifqa Bary might be killed because she says that her father said he would kill her, and because there is abundant support in Islam for the idea that apostates should be killed. Michael Kruse wants to gamble with her life. I don’t.
Spencer blogs at JihadWatch.org. He’s written nine books, with titles like Stealth Jihad, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Two of them have been New York Times bestsellers. In Stealth Jihad, published last year, he writes of the coming “Islamic conquest of North America” and urges this country’s schools to stop “the empty rhetoric of inclusion and multiculturalism.”
Note that Kruse once again attributes to me the idea of an “Islamic conquest of North America,” as if it were a crazy idea I originated out of paranoia and bigotry. He did this before, when he reported my quoting of CAIR’s Omar Ahmad’s statement about the Koran being the only law in America as if it were solely my assertion — see here, here, and here. And now he ignores the centerpiece of the book Stealth Jihad: the “Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America,” by Mohamed Akram, May 19, 1991, which detailed the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal in the U.S. It said that the Muslim Brothers “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Also in the book I gave abundant evidence that the Brotherhood is acting upon this directive. But Kruse, of course, mentions none of this.
In the same vein, Kruse gives his readers the impression that it is only I, in my incorrigible bigotry, who interpret Koran 2:217 and 4:89, the two verses he quotes above, as having anything to do with apostasy. In reality, I didn’t originate this interpretation; it comes from mainstream and authoritative Islamic sources.
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, as 2:217 says? 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 that “if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them.” 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.”
Back to Kruse:
Here are some other things the Koran says.
One verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”
Another verse: “Show kindness to parents, and to family.”
The Koran, like many other holy texts, is long, complicated and at times contradictory, and over centuries different people have had and continue to have different interpretations.
Kruse does not mention, of course, that Islamic authorities are unanimous about the death penalty for apostasy. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (look him up, Michael, he is an internationally renowned and influential Islamic scholar, and even John Esposito likes him, so he must be good, right?). Qaradawi says: “That is why the Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.”
Bary has committed apostasy. That means she was a Muslim and now she’s not.
“The Koran condemns apostasy,” said Jonathan Berkey, a professor of Islamic studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, “but the verses about seizing and slaying ‘renegades’ concerned enemies of the prophet Muhammad’s state, people who posed a political or even military threat.
“For others,” he said, “the Koran implies that apostasy is something that God will punish.”
Not people. Not in this life.
Note that Berkey cites no authorities for his view. I did for mine. In reality, some hold to his opinion that the Koran says nothing about apostasy. But then there is the Hadith, in which Muhammad says, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” Is that statement (and others like it in the Hadith) authoritative for Muslims? Kruse should ask Berkey. I’d like to see what he says.
Kruse doesn’t mention this statement or discuss its authority, but he does go on to assert erroneously that there is no consensus (ijma) about the death penalty for apostates:
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“They have to kill me,” she said.
Let’s acknowledge this right here: There’s no way to know for sure if her parents, or anyone else for that matter, will kill her.
But this can be said with certainty: They don’t have to.
This idea, though, comes from sharia, or Islamic law. There is one Koran but there is no single sharia. It comes from many sources, including the Koran, and is “more like a discussion by Muslim scholars concerning the duties a Muslim should perform,” said Valerie Hoffman, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Illinois.
Highly misleading. Kruse should ask Hoffman: is Sharia really just some kind of discussion group, or are rulings on which there is a consensus (ijma) considered authoritative for Muslims by almost all recognized Islamic authorities?
Most Muslim jurists say apostasy is punishable by death — but not all of them. It is “the heart of a burning debate among modern Muslims,” said Sherman Jackson, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan.
“There are lots of liberal Muslims today who feel that there should never be any execution of people who convert from Islam to another religion,” Hoffman said. “You can’t say Islam says this or Islam says that.”
Note that Jackson refers to “modern Muslims” and Hoffman to “liberal Muslims.” Rifqa Bary referred to her parents as “radical, radical Muslims.” As Kruse might have known if he had done any genuine research instead of simply looking for support for his propaganda points, “radical Muslims” are radical traditionalists, who advocate for traditional Islamic rulings and ascribe all of society’s ills to the straying from those traditional norms. Even if Rifqa Bary is lying and her parents are actually as liberal and modern as the day is long, this point might have borne some investigation, no?
Also important is the fact that sharia is law only to the extent that specific governments choose to enforce it as such. Some governments in the Muslim world do. Most don’t. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Its government does not.
“Sharia is just not applied very often, particularly in the modern world,” Berkey said. “There are few places in the Muslim world where much at all of sharia is applied with the force of law.”
This is completely irrelevant. Sharia adherents are found in all Muslim countries. The fact that most majority-Muslim countries don’t enforce Sharia today doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in each of them who believe that Sharia should be enforced. Did the Jamaat al-Fuqra group refrain from killing Rashad Khalifa, whom they considered to be an apostate, in Arizona because the U.S. is not a Sharia state?
Apostasy executions are rare.
An official at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom told the New York Times in 2006 that he knew of four: one in Sudan, in 1985; two in Iran, in 1989 and 1998; and one in Saudi Arabia, in 1992.
In the case of Bary, which government would order her execution for apostasy — Ohio, Florida, the United States?
Kruse’s inept attempt at a reductio ad absurdum is obscene. He ignores, of course, the many Sharia freelancers who have not hesitated to take the death penalty for apostasy into their own hands, and to murder or threaten to murder apostates. He says nothing whatsoever about the many killings of apostates and threats to their lives that take place frequently in the Islamic world. Click on every word, Michael — each one is a story about an apostate being murdered or threatened with death. Now, isn’t that odd? Why didn’t any of these murderers and threateners wait for their respective governments to take action? Didn’t any of them realize that the Koran says nothing about the death penalty for apostasy, and that Sharia is just a “discussion” in which liberal Muslims say the apostates should not be killed? Why, Michael, are so many Muslims misunderstanding Islam in just the same way, and how can you be sure that Mohamed Bary is not yet another Misunderstander of Islam regarding apostasy?
“The allegation that Muslim parents would be required to kill an apostate daughter is absurd,” said Carl Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina, “particularly if there is no evidence to back this up besides the daughter’s statement.”
The key word here is “required.” Even if one grants that they are not “required” to do so, that the death penalty for apostates is a general obligation on the community and not a specific obligation on the parents, does that establish that Rifqa Bary is out of danger? Unfortunately, it does not. But Ernst seems as willing to gamble with her life as is his fellow propagandist Kruse. Ernst’s Iranian masters will be pleased.
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“I don’t know if you know about honor killings,” she said.
Honor killings are real. The United Nations Population Fund says there could be as many as 5,000 a year worldwide.
Honor killings are usually when a man in a family kills a woman in that family because of some shame the man believes she brought on the family. It typically involves some sort of perceived sexual impropriety, anything from promiscuity to adultery to dating the wrong guy or dressing too “Western.” Sometimes, women are killed after they’re raped.
Honor killings happen mostly in the Muslim world. In the last couple of years, though, there was a double murder some called an honor killing in Texas, there was one in Georgia, there was another in upstate New York.
And all were perpetrated by Muslims, although Kruse doesn’t tell you that — it wouldn’t fit his paradigm. He just led his readers to believe that Muslims follow Sharia only in Sharia states, and is not willing to contradict himself so openly. But the contradiction is there nevertheless.
But honor killings and apostasy executions are not the same thing.
“This is a basic mistake of conflating two things,” said Brett Wilson, a professor of Islamic studies at Macalester College in Minnesota.
Ernst, the professor from UNC, called honor killings “a local or tribal custom,” having far more to do with culture than religion — “more or less equivalent,” he wrote in an e-mail, “to the so-called ‘unwritten law,’ honored by judges in Texas at least through the 1950s, which considered it legitimate for a husband to kill his wife and her lover if he discovered them in a compromising situation.”
See, we’re all the same here. Yaser Said, murdering his daughters for having non-Muslim boyfriends, he’s just like those good old boys in Texas who murdered their adulterous wives, you hear? But here again, one wonders at the point of Ernst’s tu quoque here. Even if Islamic honor killing were equivalent to men in Texas allegedly honoring some “unwritten law,” how does that establish that Rifqa Bary is safe in her parents’ home? Honor killing is real, and the death penalty for apostasy is real, and they are not the same thing, but the fact that they are not the same thing doesn’t do a single thing to establish that Rifqa Bary is not threatened by both.
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To believe absolutely that the girl from Ohio will be killed if she’s sent home, you have to believe that there’s no variation in the interpretation of Islam — no Sunni, no Shia, no Sufism — among the approximately billion and a half Muslims worldwide, stretching from Southeast Asia to Africa to the Middle East to Europe to Florida and Ohio. Saying all Muslims have exactly the same rigid and literal beliefs and act on those beliefs in exactly the same ways is like saying the same thing about Christians.
Note the sleight of hand here. “To believe absolutely.” Kruse wants you to believe that Rifqa’s defenders are saying that she will be killed if she is sent back to her parents. No one has actually said that. Might she be killed, or sent out of the country and institutionalized, if she is sent back? Certainly — and that fact has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that there is “variation in the interpretation of Islam.” Even if just one tiny group of Muslims believed that apostates should be killed, if Rifqa’s parents were among that group, and threatened her, there would be reason to believe she was in danger. And in fact, she says her father threatened her. Her father is from Sri Lanka, where the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence prevails, and the Shafi’i school teaches that apostates should be killed.
But Michael Kruse would have you ignore all that. His pitiless politically correct multiculturalism makes it a cardinal sin of bigotry to believe that Muslims actually act upon Islamic teachings, or even that Islamic teachings involve a death penalty for apostates. And Michael Kruse is willing to bet a girl’s life on that.