Back in July, right after jihadis murdered French priest Fr. Jacques Hamels in a church, Wall Street Journal editorial writer Sohrab Ahmari tweeted that he was converting to Catholicism. The ensuing coverage was largely focused on how a Muslim writer, disgusted by the crimes of jihad terrorists, had left Islam — an entirely reasonable conclusion, given the timing of Ahmari’s announcement and the fact that he had been born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
However, when Jihad Watch repeated published reports to that effect, praising Ahmari for his courage, he lashed out on Twitter (and is apparently ashamed of having done so now, as he has deleted most of the relevant tweets), calling us “unbelievably trashy” and “ideological trash” for having stated that he had been Muslim — which, again, we got from published reports.
Now, however, in a narcissistic “conversion story” in the Catholic Herald, Ahmari acknowledges the truth of what he called us “trashy” for having reported: he is “a Muslim-born Iranian.” He says he decided there was no God when he was 12, and takes us on a windy journey through his interior life, but there is no doubt that until he left Iran, he was known outwardly as a Muslim, and even says that after that, as he journeys through Marxism, he would pray half-remembered snatches of the Qur’an in times of distress.
The point here is to highlight the accuracy of what we report here, and the thoroughgoing and consistent dishonesty of our critics. The published reports we repeated were accurate: Ahmari now admits in his own piece that he was raised a Muslim, and had some relationship with Islam, however disjointed, faint, and tenuous, until he started going to Mass after, he says, bouts of heavy drinking.
Sohrab Ahmari owes us a public apology, but I have no illusions that we will ever actually get one. In any case, he stands today at the Wall Street Journal as yet another inveterately dishonest mainstream media journalist (as if we needed another one of those). As the International Business Times wrote about him back in 2012: “The more troubling issue is that the WSJ failed in its journalistic obligation to ensure factual accuracy, even on the editorial page. The WSJ’s editorial by Sohrab Ahmari was blatantly fallacious on multiple counts.” Blatantly Fallacious ought to be Sohrab Ahmari’s baptismal name.
My journey from Tehran to Rome,” by Sohrab Ahmari, Catholic Herald, September 29, 2016:
As a Muslim-born Iranian, I first doubted God, then flirted with Nietzsche and Marxism. But the whisper of conscience kept suggesting that I go to Mass
On July 26, I announced my decision to join the Catholic Church. Hours earlier, a pair of jihadists had attacked a church in France and murdered a priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, while he was celebrating Mass.
Two months before that, I had begun studying one-on-one with a priest in London, reading Catholic books and immersing myself in the catechumen’s life. But I had no intention of going public with my conversion, not until after being received into the Church.
When news of the killing first broke, I knew next to nothing about Fr Hamel. Photos online showed an octogenarian priest with wispy white hair and a look of quiet, ordinary holiness.
This priest, this man, had been forced to kneel and had his throat slit in the name of ISIS – an evil act that demanded a response. So like any good millennial, I took to my Twitter account and wrote: “#IAmJacques Hamel. In fact, this is the right moment to announce I’m converting to Roman Catholicism.” It was an impulsive thing to do, not exactly in keeping with our Lord’s teaching to be as wise as serpents.
Over the next 48 hours, thousands of people re-tweeted me, and hundreds contacted me through social media. Then my announcement made its way to Christian media. Well-meaning journalists read my Wikipedia entry, noted that I’d been born and raised in Iran, and concluded: Fr Hamel’s final act had been to convert a Muslim.
Thousands more shared these news stories on Twitter and Facebook, usually accompanied by the famous saying of Tertullian that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”. I wished my road to Rome had been as easy as “Moslem Writer Moved by Priest’s Martyrdom to Convert to Catholicism” (an actual headline from a Catholic outlet). The real story was much longer and more complicated.
When I was 12, I decided that there was no God. I remember the circumstances only vaguely. The year must have been 1997. I was on holiday with my parents in northern Iran, by the Caspian Sea. Many middle-class Iranians from the capital, Tehran, own modest cottages on the Caspian shore. My parents didn’t, but they had friends who did, and the summertime “villa trip” was a tradition….