August 24, 2009
Rifqa Bary faces death for her apostasy from Islam, while the media ignores the solid religious and institutional grounding for the practice. Today. In America.
Magdi Allam, is an intrepid Egyptian-born writer and vociferous critic of jihadism who was publicly converted to Christianity from Islam by Pope Benedict XVI during an Easter eve service in St Peter's Basilica broadcast worldwide, Saturday March 22, 2008. Writing at the time of his public apostasy, Allam highlighted the West's weakness and flaccidity, foremost, its stifling multiculturalism.
Allam decried the multicultural ethos for blandly asserting the "equality" of cultural and religious mores, even abjuring rational criticism of Islamic religious bigotry -- such as authoritative Islam's living, consensus jurisprudence that those who apostasize from Islam must be killed -- lest the tender sensibilities of Muslims be offended. He noted how in his adopted homeland of Italy, every Muslim can go to a mosque, but in the Muslim world there is ongoing and long-standing discrimination against religious minorities -- notably Christians -- entirely ignored by Western multiculturalists, of all ilks. Allam observed, moreover, the perverse phenomenon that in Western countries,
"When a Westerner decides to convert to Islam, that's fine, but when a Muslim converts to Christianity, it is suddenly the end of the world. Everyone condemns him, as though he has done something of which he should be ashamed."
"I say that it is time to put an end to the abuse and the violence of Muslims who do not respect the freedom of religious choice. In Italy there are thousands of converts to Islam who live their new faith in peace. But there are also thousands of Muslim converts to Christianity who are forced to hide their faith out of fear of being assassinated by Islamic extremists who lurk among us. If in Italy, in our home, the cradle of Catholicism, we are not prepared to guarantee complete religious freedom to everyone, how can we ever be credible when we denounce the violation of this freedom elsewhere in the world."
The unassuming and previously unknown Rifqa Bary, has now become, arguably, America's most conspicuous apostate from Islam to Christianity. Truncated, grossly warped media depictions of her plight demonstrate that the American chattering classes remain stubbornly unwilling to even acknowledge, let alone confront Islam's malevolent doctrinal intolerance, ignoring Magdi Allam's plaintive appeal.
Rifqa Bary is a 17 year-old Sri Lankan native who was living in New Albany, Ohio (a suburb of Columbus) until recent dramatic events precipitated her flight to Orlando, Florida. An excellent student and High School cheerleader, Rifqa apostasized from Islam, clandestinely practicing Christianity for some 4-years by her account. Hard evidence, i.e., a FaceBook webpage captured by Pamela Geller -- consistently ignored by the media, including Fox News -- clearly documents that she was a professing Christian over two years ago, at any rate.
Geller's singularly tenacious and thorough reporting has provided the chronology and context which elucidates Rifqa Bary's plight. Rifqa was "exposed" as a Christian apostate from Islam by her father's Columbus area mosque -- the Noor Islamic Center, a hotbed of jihadism and Jew- and other infidel hatred. As Bary's August 18th legal petition records,
"The child's parents are devout followers of Islam and members of the extreme Noor Islamic Cultural Center in Columbus, Ohio. This is where the internationally known Hamas cleric, Salah Sultan, was the resident scholar before being banned from the United States. Salah Sultan is known as a global terrorist who publicly advocates the killing of Americans and Jews. The largest cell of Al Qaeda operatives was operating from the largest mosque in the Columbus area. Columbus is one of the cities under current investigation concerning the U.S. operations of Al-Qaeda. The child is a target for the radical Muslim community of Columbus, Ohio."
Subjected to paternal abuse (bruises on Rifqa's limbs classmates allegedly brought to the attention of her High School counselor), Rifqa ultimately felt compelled to flee Ohio in July when her father threatened to murder his "apostate" daughter. She found temporary refuge in Orlando, Florida with Reverend Blake Lorenz, pastor of the Orlando-based Global Revolution Church, whom she had met through an online Facebook group. With Lorenz at her side, Rifqa Bary provided this desperate appeal (captured in full on YouTube) during an ~ 6-minute interview with WFTV:
"If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn't be alive. In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first -- imagine the honor in killing me? There is great honor in that, because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It's in the Koran. I'm fighting for my life. You guys don't understand. ... I want to worship Jesus freely, that's what I want. I don't want to die."
This past Friday August 21, Orlando Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson's decision granted her the right to remain protected within Florida's foster care system until another hearing is held September 3rd.
The mainstream media narrative, in stark contrast to Pamela Geller's hardboiled (while patent) shoe leather reporting, was apparently developed via inept, lazy and uninformed pseudo-investigation, and imbued with an impenetrable "see no Islam" mentality. Hence the repeated media portrayals of Rifqa Bary as a delusional teenage rebel, "brainwashed" to leave her loving middle-American Muslim home by a Florida-based fringe Christian cult. Although Fox News television has at least reported the story, it has also been a (the?) major purveyor of this warped narrative, and its coverage has been devoid of the critical Islamic context -- in legal theory and practice -- regarding apostasy.
Fox News legal analysts -- with the exception of one who hosted a pellucid ~ 4-minute discussion by security expert Frank Gaffney -- have endlessly spoken about "jurisdiction," Florida versus Ohio, yet they appear incurious about the corpus of germane Islamic jurisprudence -- which remains applicable in our era -- sanctioning the killing of apostates. Fox News has ignored moving and informed written public appeals in support of Rifqa Bary by two prominent, remarkably courageous Muslim apostate intellectuals who have sought refuge in America, Nonie Darwish, and Wafa Sultan.
Fox News has also failed to provide its vast audience with the insights of the most authoritative contemporary scholar on apostasy in Islam -- Ibn Warraq, author of the definitive modern work on the subject, "Leaving Islam." Mr. Warraq is also a refugee from lethal Islamic intolerance now living in America. All three of these individuals -- Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq -- are readily accessible to Fox News, but the media giant has thus far chosen not to interview them and share their views.
Punishment by death for apostasy from Islam is firmly rooted in the most holy Muslim texts -- both the Koran (verses such as 2:217 and 4:89) and the hadith (i.e., collections of the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as compiled by pious Muslim transmitters), as well as the sacred Islamic Law (the Shari'a). For example, Muhammad is reported to have said "Kill him who changes his religion," in hadith collections of both Bukhari and Abu Dawud. There is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i), as well as Shi'ite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy:
"An apostate...is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, ‘Slay those who change their din [religion]'...Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition...prior to his execution."
The contemporary (i.e., 1991) Al-Azhar (Cairo) Islamic Research Academy-endorsed Shafi'i manual of Islamic Law, 'Umdat al-Salik (pp. 595-96) states:
"Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst.... When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory...to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed."
The media's ignorance (or denial) of relevant Islamic jurisprudence on apostasy is compounded by its obliviousness to public pronouncements by North American Muslim legal scholars and clerics urging draconian punishments for Muslims who renounce Islam in Canada, or the US.
Syed Mumtaz Ali, the late architect of Canada's Sharia (Islamic Law) tribunal, and law professor Ali Khan, for example both advocated extending Islamic apostasy laws to the West. Mumtaz Ali, in a disturbing essay, affirmed the traditional Islamic legal viewpoint that apostates must "choose between Islam and the sword," arguing further that if Canada were to act in accord with its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian government must grant the country's Islamic community authority to punish those Muslims who apostasize, or malign their faith.
Washburn (Topeka, Kansas) University Law Professor, Ali Khan, another practicing Muslim, provided a more original, but no less chilling rationale for Muslims in the West to violate -- fatally -- the basic freedom of conscience of their co-religionists. Khan argued in The Cumberland Law Review that apostasy from Islam is an "attack" upon "protected knowledge," which if deemed (i.e., by some Islamic tribunal one must assume!) to be "open, hostile, and voiced contemptuously," justified punishment by death. Ali Khan is convinced that traditional Islamic law precepts antithetical to freedom of conscience nevertheless trump this foundational Western freedom, because,
"Islam is the truth beyond doubt. [And] [t] hese rules preserve the dignity of protected knowledge, discouraging an ‘easy in, easy out' attitude toward Islam."
Just this April, Harvard Muslim chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser explained approvingly to a Muslim student that the traditional Islamic practice of executing apostates from Islam, remained both venerable, and applicable:
"There is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment), and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human-rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand."
With the exception of my colleague Diana West, the mainstream media completely ignored this important and revealing story, emanating from Harvard, no less.
Rifqa Bary's public apostasy from Islam is a watershed event which will gauge just how far into the depths of stultifying Islamic correctness we have descended. Diana West recently provided this unflinching assessment of what is at stake if we fail to muster the requisite moral and intellectual fortitude:
"...the war against alienating Islam is not a war I want to fight - and no adherent of Western liberty could believe it is the war we want to win. Indeed, this war effort turns out to be the same thing as fighting for Islam. It calls us to self-censorship, self-abnegation, self-extinguishment. It depends on and encourages our submission."
[Note: I would like acknowledge my indebtedness to the work of two exceptionally courageous, and intellectually honest journalists, Pamela Geller, and Diana West. Pamela has done the only serious investigative reporting on Rifqa Bary's case. Diana West coined the apt phrase, "see no Islam" as part of her unique, ongoing analysis of the dhimmitude of the American intellectual class.]
Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.