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February 15, 2011
Pamela Geller: Where Are All the Jassers?
In an extraordinarily lengthy article in the American Thinker last Sunday, Zuhdi Jasser responded to the reservations I expressed about Congressman Peter King's upcoming hearings on the radicalization of Muslims in the U.S., and in particular, about King's capitulation to pressure from Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups. Methinks Jasser protests too much. The objective is bigger than just responding to me. Rather, it is an attempt to validate and advance Jasser's preposterous narrative.
Dr. Jasser entitles his article "American Islamists Find Common Cause with Pamela Geller." Equating me with Islamic supremacists is like saying that Patton found common cause with the German General Rommel, the Desert Fox, because Patton criticized the British Field Marshal Montgomery. My criticism of King's capitulation and CAIR's attempt to impose the Sharia in America by silencing and punishing those exposing the hidden war have nothing in common with each other. So here Jasser is intellectually dishonest and deliberately misleading. He knows this, and yet entitles his article based on this false premise. He is being at the very least disingenuous here, and is attempting to marginalize me in the most debased and dishonest fashion (as does CAIR). Placing me on the same moral playing field as those who are working toward "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within" and annihilating the Jews is very stealth jihad. It is propaganda of a kind I am very familiar with. Not good, Mr. Jasser.
Expanding on this outrageous claim, Jasser says that "Geller and Spencer's comments in their echo chambers show that they are against any solutions from within the ‘House of Islam'. This only aids and abets all Islamists. But, then again, that doesn't matter if the target includes all Muslims and their only viable solution is conversion of one-fifth of the world's population."
Echo chamber? Between the two of us, Robert Spencer and I reach just under two million people a month on our blogs. That and our book sales, regular TV and radio appearances, speaking engagements, conferences, and additional 50,000 "friends" on our various Facebook pages, Twitter and SIOA group, etc., make for quite a cacophonous echo chamber. I submit that it is Jasser's chamber that is empty. Where are all the Jassers?
Jasser mentions "many Muslim reformers." Where are they? Where are the Muslims who take to the streets when another girl is killed for honor, or another apostate is murdered under the Sharia? Where were all the Muslims taking to the streets after Mumbai, London, Madrid, Beslan, Bali, Times Square, Fort Hood? But they take to the streets by the hundreds of thousands, light embassies on fire, and slaughter innocents when a cartoon offends them.
Even the title of Jasser's article, "American Islamists Find Common Cause with Pamela Geller," plays into this false narrative. "Islamist": what is that? What is a Christianist? A Judaist? A Hinduist?
Simply his use of the word "Islamist" here predetermines the futility of Jasser's enterprise. It's not Islamism, it's Islam.
But the fact that Islam teaches violence and supremacism doesn't mean that I am against all Muslims, as Jasser implies. This is patently untrue. Through my work with "Refuge from Islam," we help Muslims here in America who want to leave Islam and are under threat from their families and communities. Escaping their mosque, their "faith community" and their families to safe houses is dangerous. People do not begin to know the difficulty, although Amina and Sarah Said, murdered by their father for dating non-Muslim boys, gave us a graphic window into the lives of these girls.
The safety network was covertly established, and requires utmost secrecy and security. Does Jasser do this kind of work? Does he even acknowledge it? I was raked over the coals for this work -- for my campaign to save them. Did Dr. Jasser come to my defense? He was strangely silent. He lives near the spot where Noor Almaleki's father murdered her for honor. He should talk more about that, and about why women suffer so under Islam. I am glad his wife is safe, but the world is bigger than Jasser's home.
In my January 20 American Thinker article, "King Abdicates," I wrote: "Jasser's Islam does not exist. He does not have a theological leg to stand on. His mosque threw him out." Jasser first says that neither I nor any other non-Muslim am allowed to speak about this question. He apparently thinks that only Muslims should be permitted to speak about what Islam may or may not be, despite the fact that anyone can read the Qur'an and Hadith, and the statements of Islamic jihadists and supremacists who read and quote them. Jasser says non-Muslims have to shut up and have no right to read such documents and think about them: "Frankly, it takes a lot of chutzpah for any non-Muslim, let alone one who has never met me, to insist that I am not practicing Islam."
Nevertheless, Jasser acknowledges that he does see a "valid debate as to the prevalence and intellectual underpinnings of the Islam I and my family practice, and whether it constitutes a minority or majority of Muslims. It is an important national conversation whether most Muslims can be counted upon to lead any type of genuine, lasting reform toward modernity."
It is a valid debate, only non-Muslims can't participate. Got it?
Despite Jasser's wishes, I am going to participate. What I wrote was true: Jasser's Islam really does not exist. When I interviewed him, he spoke about moderate Muslims, saying that they should be judged by "how devout they are, how they treat other people, the Golden Rule, how honest, what their integrity is, what their character is." That sounds good, but in reality, Islam has no Golden Rule. In the Qur'an Muslims are told to be "merciful to one another but harsh to unbelievers" (48:29). That's a far cry from "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
In that same interview, Jasser claims that the Qur'an has "passages where God tells Muhammad if I wanted everyone to be Muslim or believe in God I could have made them but I did not.'" Jasser makes this sound like an expression of tolerance and pluralism by Allah. Actually it is something quite different. Here's the full verse: "And if We had so willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but the word from Me concerning evildoers took effect: that I will fill hell with the jinn and mankind together." (Qur'an 32:13) So actually Allah is saying that he decided not to guide some people, but instead to send them to hell - apparently for no reason at all.
He also claims in that interview that "there are passages that say ‘your affairs are up to you.' That's the only passage actually in the entire Qur'an that refers to government. There is absolutely no passage that talks about how citizens should form their government. So to me it is completely consistent that on modern interpretation is that you can separate religion and government."
But the Qur'an also says this: "If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) unbelievers." (Qur'an 5:44) And unbelievers can be killed (2:191, 4:89, 9:5). So the society the Qur'an envisions is a coercive one in which people who do not "judge by what Allah has revealed" may be killed - this is hardly a pluralistic vision.
Jasser tried to blame the antisemitic passages in the Qur'an on faulty English translations: "I am not sure I agree with that translation. You have to remember that a lot of the translations that are currently being used are coming out of Wahabist interpreters." Would he have us believe that there is some possible translation of the Qur'an that doesn't say that the Jews are the Muslims' worst enemies (5:82) and are under Allah's curse (9:30)?
Also in my interview with him, Jasser even claimed that " the passage that is being interpreted by most translation as being permission to beat your wife actually does not mean that in Arabic. Those that are experts in classical Arabic will tell you that that means...it actually means whenever you have an argument step away, take a timeout, etc. It doesn't mean to beat them."
Nonsense. This is a false statement. Robert Spencer explains:
Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Al-Hilali/Khan, Shakir, Sher Ali, Khalifa, Daryabadi and Asad are Muslims. All these Arabic experts, both Muslim and non-Muslim, got the word wrong, and Jasser is the only one who got it right?
Of the Islamic law that Muslim men can marry non-Muslim women, but Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men, Jasser said: "Most of the Shariah interpretations are that Muslim women need to marry Muslim men because of protecting their rights and because of the way the faith is transmitted paternally rather than maternally." He makes it sound so benign. In reality Muslim women can't marry non-Muslim men because if they did, the non-Muslim communities would grow instead of perpetually declining.
Jasser in the interview characterized Islam as "a completely personal faith between me and God. There is no institution for excommunication or communication." Yet historically, Islam has never been this way. All sorts of authorities excommunicate Muslims they consider heretical (takfir). Islam has never taught that the Muslim is on his own as an individual before Allah - instead, he is part of the umma. He also says that Islam "accepts all of the same moral constructs" as Judaism and Christianity. But it doesn't: Polygamy, wife-beating, honor killing, clitorectomies, suicide bombing, on and on: none of this is justified by Judaism or Christianity. Only by Islam.
So does Zuhdi Jasser have his own private Islam? You be the judge.
Jasser says in his new article: "Between the two of us, I certainly more than Geller have a far more credible perspective coming from a lifetime as a practicing Muslim from within diverse Muslim faith communities," but the record of those "Muslim faith communities" is clear. It needs pointing out that wherever Muslims live in non-Muslim countries, there is a level of agitation, conflict if you will, the level of which is directly tied to the size of the Muslim population. That says a great deal about which brand of Islam - Jasser's or, say, Anwar al-Awlaki's - is more mainstream among Muslims worldwide. Aside from those Muslims in non-Muslim countries, the rest of the world's Muslim population is already living in one of 56 Muslim nations, so the only conflict there is between differing Muslim groups, i.e., Sunni vs. Shia.
Jasser says, "To dismiss me as having a ‘private Islam' is absurd for anyone let alone an outsider," but can he point to "Muslim faith communities" that not only do not practice violent jihad or pursue the Islamic supremacist imperative to impose Sharia, which Muslims may refrain from doing for a variety of reasons, but also reject them in theory and have a version of Islamic theology that rejects them, as does Dr. Jasser?
Jasser also objects to my pointing out that when I interviewed him in 2007, "he referred to Israel as occupied territory in the last five minutes of the interview....He blew his cover." He first says that "this is absolutely false," but a few paragraphs later he admits that he did say this - or something close to it: "Geller alleges that I ‘referred to Israel as "occupied territory"' (singular) - when, in fact, as the recording and transcript of this interview show, I actually said ‘occupied territories' (plural)." He says this makes a big difference, because Hamas thinks of all of Israel as "occupied territory," while he was referring only to Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") and Gaza.
In the first place, he's wrong: I said "territories." In my May 22, 2007 blog post about the interview, I wrote this in an update I added that same day: "The occupied territories? That says it all. Jasser refutes Islamic antisemitism and then refers to ‘the Occupied territories?'" Second, it's just as bad to refer to "occupied territories" as it is to refer to "occupied territories." Judea and Samaria are not occupied; they are Jewish land. Israel gave up (not back) Gaza for peace. They got nothing in return but another base for jihad attacks against them.
Also, no one complained about Judea and Samaria and Gaza being "occupied territories" when they were under the control of Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967. It's only when they were administered by Israel that they became "occupied." That Jasser would accept this construct speaks volumes.
Jasser also tries to make a big deal out of a time lapse he claims between the interview and my pointing out that he spoke about "occupied territories": "Well surely, you're saying, she must have mentioned it the next day, right? Or the following week - or month? Nope. When did she finally make this allegation, for the first time? Two years later - on May 13, 2009 - just as ‘The Third Jihad' was about to be released."
Not true. I wrote about it the same night as the interview, May 22, 2007: see here.
On several points Jasser accuses me of fabrication. On my statement that he was thrown out of his mosque, Jasser says: "I have never been thrown out of any mosque - let alone the mosque that I and my family have attended for years, and continue to attend." My source for this was Dr. Andrew Bostom, who had it, he said, on good authority. I don't know who might be protecting whom in this case, but I passed along the information in good faith. That is also true of Jasser's disputing of my statement that Geert Wilders "refused to meet with Jasser because Wilders ‘doesn't meet with Muslims'. That never happened, according to Wilders." Bostom informed me of this also; if Jasser's story differs, I believe Bostom.
Jasser complains that Robert Spencer had no trouble participating in a FrontPage symposium with him in May 2010, and didn't say anything about this 2007 interview. He doesn't mention that Spencer said in that symposium that "interpretations of Islam such as Dr. Jasser's are personal, idiosyncratic, and non-traditional - a fact that is all too often glossed over by his enthusiastic and well-heeled non-Muslim backers, who would prefer to pretend that he represents the dominant mainstream."
Jasser goes on: "During the twenty-four month period between our interview and this libelous assault, she conducted many more radio programs, and wrote hundreds of blog articles - yet never once mentioned this allegation. To the contrary, she posted instance after instance of positive references to my efforts to fight radical Islamism - yet not a word about how I supposedly ‘blew my cover' on anything."
Yes, because I do not hate all Muslims. Because I, too, wanted to believe. Those "positive references" are years old -- prior to my continued reading of Ibn Warraq, Robert Spencer, Wafa Sultan, et al, and earlier in my study of Islam in the West and in the Muslim world. Who doesn't want to believe Jasser? Yes, I was more supportive when I was less informed on Islam. We all want to believe in Santy Claus. But avoiding reality is not an option. You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.
Jasser claims that my "target includes all Muslims" and that the "only viable solution" I offer is "conversion of one-fifth of the world's population."
Here again Jasser echoes the stealth jihadists, in adding some implied threat against 1.5 billion Muslims threat into the pot. Conversion? Is he saying that the Muslim world will not reject the violent teachings of the Qur'an and work to expunge it of its violent texts? I never suggested conversion of one-fifth of the world's population. But any ideology that calls for violence and oppression of those outside the fold must be defeated.
Jasser insists that he has been "one of the most outspoken American Muslims against the toxic and potent linkage of our Muslim faith community to the goals and propaganda of the Palestinian lobby in the United States." But where has he been outspoken against the virulent Jew-hatred in the Qur'an, which is the source of and motivation for everything that Palestinian lobby does? The hatred against the Jewish homeland is not a "Palestinian" invention. ("Palestine" itself, incidentally, is a Latin word for the Jewish state.) No, it is rooted in Islamic teaching that encourages Jewish genocide. If Jasser strongly supports Israel, he must fight to expose and expunge Islamic teachings of this hate, but instead, he obfuscates on this key issue.
Above all, Jasser criticizes me for taking issue with King's hearings. Of course I support King, but I am free to observe and opine on what I see as his mistakes. And I support Jasser's objective of separation of mosque and state -- the objective of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization Of America -- but the premise is false, and smoke and mirrors will not effect any change.
Regarding the fact that King is planning to call the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) to testify at his hearings, Jasser writes: "Testimony from Islamists would actually serve to give Americans an on-the-record understanding of the obstacles and the actual ideological diversity within the Muslim community."
This may be -- but without an understanding of true Islam, the very thing Jasser obscures, such exposure is impossible. Were that not true, Islamic supremacism would never have advanced as far as it has since 9/11 in the "hidden war."
Jasser must know that in Islam he is a "hypocrite," and under the Sharia that is punishable by death. He advances the idea of separation of mosque and state, but even he must know that in Islam, mosque is state.
So when Jasser writes that he wants Americans to "see the stark difference between Muslims who are part of the problem (promoters of Islamism) and Muslims who are part of the solution (anti-Islamists who promote reform and modernity)," forgive me, but who is he talking about other than himself? Daisy Khan and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf? Jasser here sounds just like Daisy, who recently said, "The era of extremism is over."
I understand that everyone wants moderates or secular Muslims to be the silent majority, and Jasser gives them a much-needed face. But in order for Islam to reform itself, the truth about Islam must be made known by the civilized, and the genocidal, racist aspects of Islamic teaching must be rejected (like Nazism) and those who hold it forced under the weight of international pressure to reform.
So the answer is no, Dr. Jasser, I am not aiding the "Islamists." But it is not at all certain that you aren't.
Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and former associate publisher of the New York Observer. She is the author of The Post-American Presidency.