Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam

egyptian-coptic-christian-007In latest news, an Egyptian court has sentenced a woman and her children to 15 years in prison for converting from Islam to Christianity.

A criminal court  in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef  meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.

Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said conversions like Nadia’s have been common in the past, but said Egypt’s new Sharia-based constitution “is a real disaster in terms of religion freedom.”

“Now that Sharia law has become an integral part of Egypt’s new constitution, Christians in that country are at greater risk than ever. The cases will increase in the future,” Tadros said. “It will be much harder for people to return to Christianity.”

President Mohamed Morsi, who was elected last June and succeeded the secular reign of Hosni Mubarak, who is now in prison, pushed the new constitution through last year.

The most interesting fact about this story is that those hearing it probably think it is something tragic, but rare. In truth, these are daily occurrences in North Africa, Southern Asia and the Middle East. Every Christmas and Easter, churches are burned and Christians are slaughtered. Even in the relatively pecaeful countries, Oman for example, where my parents currently live, simply telling a non-Christian about Christianity (proselytizing) is illegal. Thankfully, you’re not likely to be charged with anything unless someone turns you in. Non-islamic religious gatherings are not permitted in homes, but only in locations specifically set aside by the government. You can’t distribute non-islamic religious literature to people outside your religious group. In fact, the basic philosophy is: you can practice your religion as long as you keep it to yourself and do nothing that the government does not like. (Where have I heard something similar?). Blasphemy, which could be anything from saying Allah is not God to accusing Muhammad of having sex with a nine year old girl is forbidden.

You’re probably picturing some sort of hellhole, right? No, Oman is a quiet, beautiful and safe place. Safe, that is, for those who do as they are told. If you believe the citizens, the Sultan (King) is the best thing since Netflix. Some people occasionally make mistakes – over the summer, a number of people were arrested for insulting the Sultan but it’s nothing like Saudi Arabia where Christians were arrested for ‘plotting to celebrate Christmas‘. At least that’s what I think. I don’t really know what would happen if my parents were to put a Christmas display in their yard in December. I doubt they want to find out.

2011prayermap
Map of Countries Hostile to Christians or in which Christianity is restricted

The most painful part of this is not the silence in the mainstream media. It’s the fact that every church burning, mass slaughter, execution, imprisonment is greeted with the insistence that those are just the ‘radical Muslims’. The whole bloody Muslim world is like that! I often think that there are only two types of Muslims in the world: those who persecute others and those who with their money, silence, ignorance, or self delusion, support the persecution.

I write that in anger and honesty. It is immoral to see evil around you and do nothing to stop it. In a moral society, the strong fight for the weak. But it is not so on earth. Atheists get their whiskers in a bunch because high school cheerleaders have Bible verses on their banners. ‘Christians’ live as if the most important things in their lives is the latest news about Kim Kardashian. Muslims respond with fury that someone is terrified that the heavily bearded Arabic speaking man is going to behead them – the Islamophobes. And the cries of those Buddhists, Christians, and atheists oppressed in communist, atheist and Muslim regimes are met with crickets.

 

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ keeps a list of reported Islamic attacks. Their count for the last week is 209 dead bodies and 358 critically injured.

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Tracy

I’m Tracy

23 thoughts on “Egyptian court sentences Christian family to 15 years for converting from Islam”

  1. I still think we can have religious freedom only when we support the state to enforce secular equality laws. And by ‘secular’ I don’t mean atheist; I mean it in the sense of founding law based on the consent of the governed rather than derived from someone’s (or some quoted scripture’s) interpretation of what divine authority must look like in action.

    It seems to me that once you allow religious influence into the public domain, you can’t help but set the stage for its privilege in law (from those in government and the courts who favour it). And once this begins to happen then you have law that promotes inequalities.

    If we care about freedom, including the freedom to believe what we want – then I think we have a responsibility to do our part – regardless of our religious allegiances – to keep religion of any kind out of the public domain.

  2. What you ask for is
    1 impossible
    2 inadequate

    Take Nigeria for instance. The Northern half, having been heavily influenced by the Arab merchants, is heavily muslim. The southern part, having been influenced by European missionaries, is heavily Christian. We’re talking about a near 50 – 50 split with only a tiny percentage (1-3%) still practicing the traditional pagan African religion.

    Both regions are part of the same country, with the same structure of government – Local, State, Federal. Both the north and the south have what you have referred to as a ‘secular’ government. The laws are not copied from the Bible or Quran.They are made in the same style as for any representative republic: The people vote in leaders who make laws in accordance with the preferences of the people and the country’s constitution. Yet, the North implements sharia law. Christmas and Easter are open season on Christians. It looks pretty much like your average Arab country with the only difference being that the havoc those states can wreak is limited by the mostly Christian status of the members of the federal govt. In the middle belt, there is constant war between the Christians and Muslims. The south, whatever its problems, has religious freedom.

    Why is this? Simply, because when the rule is based on the consent of the government, the govt makes laws in accordance with the people’s philosophical beliefs. If the people believe in high taxes and high spending, the representatives must do that or be voted out of office. If the people believe in socialism or capitalism or that women should always cover their hair, or that women should not work, the govt must put such laws in place. If the people believe that Christians should be forced to convert to Islam, accept a lower social status or die, the govt must enforce those laws. Forget the constitution. It is made by people and can be changed whenever they have a sizable majority.

    You cannot ask that the laws should be made in accordance with the wishes of the people and also insist that certain laws not be made. Someone’s philosophical beliefs must be made law and in a democracy, it is the majority’s. The reason for the difference between Northern and Southern Nigeria is not that people are making laws in accordance with their beliefs in the north but not in the south. it is that in the south, people do not believe that women should cover their hair and all other religious adherents should be killed. Just like the difference between North Korea and the US is that North Korea believes that worshipers of any god other than the emperor are evil. North Korea implements laws based on that belief, and the US has laws based on their belief (or that of the lawmakers) that people should be free.

    Religion here is replaced with all religious beliefs, afterall, North Korea can hardly be called religious and the problem of persecution can hardly be limited to religions. It cuts across all philosophies – social, economic, etc.

    So, my conclusion is that you cannot demand that religious beliefs be left out of law while encouraging democracy. If there is a law, it is based on someone’s beliefs.
    And secondly, that if you did keep all religious beliefs out of laws, China, North Korea and their peers will still carry on their religious persecution. The problem isn’t ‘religious’ beliefs any more than it is ‘economic’ beliefs. The problem is the content of the beliefs.

    1. my conclusion is that you cannot demand that religious beliefs be left out of law while encouraging democracy. If there is a law, it is based on someone’s beliefs.

      The measurement is simple: does the law promote and protect equality rights? Equality rights under the law is not a philosophical belief but a necessary component for justified civil power, evidence of consent from the governed. Without equality legal rights, civil power has to be coercive, meaning a top down exercise of power. This is why democracy without first establishing legal equality rights is nothing more than mob rule, the tyranny of the majority or some privileged sector of the community. You cannot have a religious presence in the public domain without directly undermining legal equality rights.

      As for sharia, this is evidence that islam is incompatible with enlightenment values of a civil government justified by the consent of the governed because it respects neither legal equality nor individual rights. Note the important word: incompatible. Sharia – a top down imposition of religious law – will always be a source of constant conflict with the political and legal expression of individual rights and equality law, and without these bedrock principles held inviolate by constitution (which is what the military protects) there can be no legitimate government. There can only be tyranny. And the primary source of tyranny is any top-down system that assumes authority to be imposed on the governed. Religion falls squarely into this top-down category, which is why it is always in conflict with secularism. Religious authority does not want religious freedom; it wants religious dominance and this is exactly what we find throughout a serious study of history: the battle for dominance. Unfortunately, there is no middle ground to be had for any of us in this ongoing public battle. Fortunately, the battle is slowly being won.

      1. The relevant definition of Philosophy here is: “a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.”

        So, the belief that laws must treat everyone equally is a philosophical belief. It’s also a false philosophical belief. We can’t treat apples and oranges equally. Like things are to be treated alike. So, for instance, denying minors the right to vote is not injustice, because it treats different groups (minors and adults) differently. The question is: what differences can we discriminate based on?

        The rule in the US is that you can’t discriminate based on gender, race, or religion. You also can’t discriminate based on things like marital status and country of origin in certain issues. The idea of ‘equality under the law’ isn’t clear cut. It is defined – by people. With differing opinions.

        So, your proposition is still impossible. These legality rights are made by the people (or their representatives), and enforced and changed by the same. So, today the US does not discriminate based on race and gender. If in the future, the US population decides that women are men are different in a fundamental way such that they should not be treated equally in a particular sector, that is what it will be. The reason for this is that what/who is equal is a philosophical opinion (whether it is true or not). People hold different views on the subject and make laws according to those views. It will always be so.

        Democracy is mob rule. It is mob rule with a set of legal rules that all legal rules must follow, but all rules (constitutions included) change when the mob decides to change it. Democracy isn’t a political system designed to give the people what is right. It is designed to give the people what they want. The constitution and bill of rights are amendments to the system in order to stabilize it, but they are all eventually subject to the rules of the people. If you want power of the people, by the people and for the people, that is what you’ll get. Legal equality rights are defined by the people and will be whatever they want it to be. You can make a constitution and stipulate that it not be changed, but given enough people with enough power, it will change in a democracy.

        It is sad, that human beings can’t come up with a political system that works and have to settle for good enough. Let’s face it. We don’t give political power to only one person because they might misuse it. The majority can also misuse power. The difference is that they’ll misuse it for their collective benefit, rather than for one person’s. Neither monarchy nor democracy will work as long as people retain their human (read: unwholesome) ways.

        “Religious authority does not want religious freedom; it wants religious dominance”

        That’s like saying philosophical views want dominance, not freedom. It is false. Communism wants dominance. Capitalism is based on freedom. Hinduism encourages freedom of worship. Islam in the Quran demands the non-believers be forced to submit. Christianity in the NT wants people to join it, but not by physical force. Judaism doesn’t care. You can’t lump all religions together. The fact that they are all fruit does not make them equivalent.

        Any philosophy – religious, economic, social, whatever – is a force for good or evil given its teachings, not its category.

      2. So, the belief that laws must treat everyone equally is a philosophical belief. It’s also a false philosophical belief.

        Straw man.

        Equality laws are based on the principle that all individuals (at the age of majority) share exactly the same rights (and often described freedoms). This is not a philosophical belief but a reasoned value that founds authority of a political system for legitimate government in those who are governed.

        Yes, there are certain restrictions, but these, too, are shared exactly the same by all (those under the age of majority, for example, all share exactly the same restrictions). This is not a ‘false belief’ but principle established in practice by law. Majorities cannot alter this practice in law without directly undermining and dismantling the principle of legal equality necessary for authority. From all the people (not some, not a privileged caste or group) comes the shared authority to consent or withhold consent to be governed by an endowed authority. In other words, a government has authority only by its temporary granting from the governed who possess this authority in perpetuity equally and then loan it out to various levels of government for public use.

        It is only this recognized legal authority of equality from each citizen that we get the authority that legitimizes or removes legitimacy from any government. It is a bottom-up system. This kind of authority stands exactly contrary to those who (falsely) believe that legitimate authority for governance comes from anywhere else. Those who claim authority to govern in the name of some god, some tyrant, some majority, cannot legitimize the authority they exercise in the name of those governed unless and until they first endow the governed with authority! No top-down system in principle can do this… although we hear people pretending otherwise all the time and appealing to crowds for their support to rule in their name. Only the gullible believe it. Mob rule does not add legitimacy to governance because it does not empower the principle of equality for all first; it empowers top-down authority… and this is exactly what we see in failed revolutions: the emergence of a strong man backed by the mob who then enforces authority by coercion and fear. All top-down systems are the same: from theocracies to totalitarian regimes and all are forms of tyrannies because all do not possess legitimacy of consent. They do not possess the legitimacy of consent because they do not legally empower the governed with authority. Regardless of what other ‘teachings’ any tyranny advertises itself to have, all are illegitimate for the authority to govern.

        This is not ‘unwholesome’. What is unwholesome is supporting any authority that does not recognize yours.

      3. So, let me get this straight. It is a fact that all individuals possess the same rights and restrictions. So, for instance, everyone possesses the right to vote as long as they are above 18 years of age.They also possess the right to own poverty.

        Let’s forget, for a moment, the arbitrary nature of the restictions: 17 and a half, 18, 21 years. Assuming that this is a fact, that does not preclude it from being a philosophical view. It is a philosophy simply because some people believe it and make laws based on it and some people don’t. You can argue that the ‘equality’ itself is not a philosophy, but your belief in it is.

        According to you, majorities cannot alter the practice without undermining the principle of legal equality. Of course. If they’re saying you can’t vote unless you’re black, they are saying you’re not equal.

        The rest of your comment just talks about democracy. Authority to rule comes from the people who are all equal and equally empowered to choose their leaders. Top down authority, claiming to govern in the name of gods, bla bla bla. Democracy is the way to go.

        So, your argument goes like this.
        1. Assert that all people have the same rights
        2. Assert that an authority is only legal if it comes from those being governed. (Thereby empowering millions of kids around the world to dictate to their parents what they will and will not do).
        3. Diss systems in which authority comes from someone other than the governed (especially the view that parents do not answer to their children).
        4 Assert that majorities cannot change the rights of others without jeopardizing their ability to choose their government. Afterall, if people don’t all have the same rights, how can they ever choose their leaders. There were no leaders during the days of slavery, no? Or the leaders were not legitimate leaders (even though they functioned as though they were)

        Don’t get me wrong. Your assertions make sense. They just lack one thing: why the hell anyone should listen to you. Asserting that you are right isn’t going to cut it. As long as the majority has the power, they can do whatever they want even if their actions violate the rules you have put forward. They can deprive minorities of rights and force them to work on their plantations and they (the majority) will be better off for it. That’s Democracy, dude. As long as the laws can be changed, they will suit those in power: be they the kings or peasants.

  3. Laws like this one are completely abhorrent and should have no place in society. People absolutely should not stand for it–there should be international pressure to fight this inhumanity.

    tildeb said…

    As for sharia, this is evidence that islam is incompatible with enlightenment values of a civil government justified by the consent of the governed because it respects neither legal equality nor individual rights.

    Wow. Wow. Blatant Islamophobia, offered without any apparent shame whatsoever. ALL OF ISLAM is apparently incompatible with civil governance because SOME MUSLIMS want to impose sharia law. Perhaps you are unaware of the religious lobbies in various other western countries that push to implement blue laws? It’s not just Muslims that push for theocracy, and it’s not even a majority of Muslims who do. Stereotyping in this way is not rational.

    tildeb said…

    Religious authority does not want religious freedom; it wants religious dominance

    You do a disservice by regarding religious authorities as if they were a monolith. Not every religious authority pushes for theocratic government. In fact, I suspect the majority do not.

    Tracy said…

    So, the belief that laws must treat everyone equally is a philosophical belief. It’s also a false philosophical belief.

    Right. Treating everyone equally is only just if everyone is equal. Since people are not equal, it’s more appropriate to push for equality of opportunity, which is only accomplished through secular governance. (Secular = no religious discrimination, so Muslim, Christian, Buddhists, atheists, and so on are all equal under the law.) Of course, religions aren’t even so discrete, as “Christian,” “Muslim,” etc. have sub-categories, and those internal sects often conflict with one another–this is another reason for secular governance, as it prevents Christian-on-Christian (etc.) discrimination.

    A distinction that must be drawn is between religious texts and religious beliefs. The two are not identical. Christians do not mindlessly adhere to every passage in the Bible. Muslims do not mindlessly adhere to every passage in the Qur’an. Islamic scripture may demand “the non-believers be forced to submit,” but I think a majority of Muslims do not practice this belief, just like the majority of Christians rightfully do not practice 1 Timothy 2:12.

    I also cannot support the depiction of democracy as mob rule. The latter suggests elements of violence and might-makes-right mentality. In a pure democracy, the voice of the majority may be tyrannical, stifling the well-being of minority groups, but I’m not aware of a single nation that operates as a pure democracy.

    1. You would be hard pressed to find a Christian who says: “1 Timothy 2:12 teaches this and I completely disagree with it so I don’t live my life after it.”. You can find them in liberal churches, I presume, but you can also find people there who believe that Jesus was just a great teacher and it doesn’t matter which part of the elephant you touched as long as you’re nice to everyone. The Christians I speak of are people who actually care about keeping Christianity as opposed to those who believe that all roads lead to God. Those Christians will insist that they follow 1 Tim 2:12. They simply differ in their interpretation.

      The debate is something along the lines of:
      Jesus said: “follow me and I will make you a huge bowl of cheese”.
      Did Jesus mean those people around him? Or did he mean all Christians everywhere and in any century? If Jesus said something like “Wait for me while I use the restroom”, there would be no debate, but the tradition of reading the epistles as if they are talking to us right now does present this problem.

      So, those who say women should not teach will say they’re taking the literal meaning of the passage (hogwash, if you ask me. What they’re doing is demonstrating a less than acceptable grasp of the English language). Those who don’t do that will point to the fact that despite that statement, Paul did in fact allow women to speak, and the statement meant something different at that time (e.g. silence in the context of learning, since the women weren’t educated enough to teach, he didn’t want them to be like roman fertility cults, etc. etc.) i.e. context, context, context. Whichever view you take, it is unwise to say that most Christians do not obey 1 Timothy 2:12. They have a different interpretation of the passage and they live in accordance with their interpretation. Whether or not that interpretation is right, is up for debate. (I’m expecting someone to turn up, ignore everything I just said, and start talking with the assumption that the second view here presented is wrong )

      I do agree that there is a difference between religious texts and religious beliefs. People can believe whatever they want, but a philosophy is usually clearly defined and does not change based on what people think. What that means is that if Christianity is defined by the Bible and the Bible demands the killing of one in ten girls, then Christianity demands the killing of one in ten girls. Christians all over the world might flatly refuse to follow that rule, but it is Christianity.

    2. Wow. Wow. Blatant Islamophobia, offered without any apparent shame whatsoever. ALL OF ISLAM is apparently incompatible with civil governance because SOME MUSLIMS want to impose sharia law. Perhaps you are unaware of the religious lobbies in various other western countries that push to implement blue laws? It’s not just Muslims that push for theocracy, and it’s not even a majority of Muslims who do. Stereotyping in this way is not rational.

      One non-theist accusing another of Islamophobia! Isn’t this a sight?!

      Collin, assuming that a phobia is still an irrational fear, I can assure you that Tildeb is neither scared nor irrational. Furthermore, if he were scared, it would be a rational fear. Tell the Christians whose churches and homes are being burned and who are being lined up and killed that their fear of Islam is irrational and see how they respond. Even the daily fear of having the govt knock on your door to inform you that someone turned you in for proselytizing is rational enough. As that one site put it, “It’s not Islamophobia if they really are trying to kill you“.

      I do agree with you somewhat. Islam is not incompatible with democracy because some people want to impose Sharia (that’s not what Tildeb said, by the way). Islam is incompatible with religious freedom because the religion itself demands Sharia law. I can help you with a Quran and some Hadiths and Sirah, if you wish to dispute the claim. Or you can just click the link to thereligionofpeace.com When adherents of one philosophy are racking up 200 dead bodies per week because of their philosophy, calling fear of that philosophy irrational is irrational.

      Man, we have a three way disagreement going here. I love it!

  4. The central tenets of the religion of islam is incompatible with establishing and respecting equality human rights (sharia law in particular is a brutal and criminal legal code that strips you of legal autonomy). Collin, as much as you may want to, you can’t respect both because they are at opposite ends of the legal and political spectrum. You have to choose which values to support – islam or enlightenment – because supporting both in practice only supports islam.

    No one likes hearing this, and most – like you – want to blame the messenger as the intolerant one, the one suffering from bias and prejudice, the one who doesn’t fully grasp the nuances of the religious belief in its benevolent state, and so draws poor conclusions. And most who live comfy and cozy lives in western liberal secular democracies, where their legal rights for autonomy are protected by the state, prefer to think of themselves as wisely tolerant of an imaginary peaceful religious majority blemished on occasion only by a few bad apples, a few misguided extremists, a few fundamentalists who do horrible things. What you don’t realize, Collin, is that your imagination does not define the reality we share: reality does. And when you investigate this reality, you find that what you presume is the islamic fringe is, in fact, the religion itself.

    Unlike christianity, islam is not a religion with a spectrum of liberal to fundamental believers; you are either a good muslim or a bad one based entirely on accepting and putting into practice the perfect word of god as revealed in the koran. This is why sharia law, for example, IS islam in action and it is neither tolerant nor respectful of your secular rights. It is neither tolerant nor respectful of your different views and opinions. It is neither tolerant nor respectful of your legal autonomy, and any muslim who pretends it is otherwise is a very poor muslim. Until you can wrap your head around this reality, you will continue to malign those who have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the islamic bully who struggles to protect your right to malign them.

    After all, I am not the one calling for your death as an unbeliever, to be stoned to death for your apostasy, to be throw you in jail for your kafir opinions. I am not the bad guy here. You may want to learn why this religion in particular does not deserve your tolerance and respect because it does not grant them in return. That’s why, as much as you may wish it were otherwise, you cannot have it both ways… regardless how much this reality disturbs your sense of being a nice and tolerant person. The followers of this intolerant and disrespectful religion by their allegiance to it demonstrate the danger they – not I – bring to you and your legal autonomy. You should use this fact as a clue…

    Sometimes, we need to stand on principle and demonstrate our commitment to these tolerant values by rejecting and condemning outright a religious set of beliefs that is dedicated to subjugating them in the name of god. Unpleasant, I know, but necessary nevertheless. Go read the article again and then try to explain to us how daring to criticize such a legal travesty is just too darn intolerant for your refined tastes. Tell that to the people whose autonomous legal rights have been raped in the name of showing respect for god.

  5. Tracy said…

    Collin, assuming that a phobia is still an irrational fear, I can assure you that Tildeb is neither scared nor irrational.

    A phobia might be, but “Islamophobia” is a clumsy word. It represents “phobia” no more than “homophobia” does. In neither case is it a phobia; it’s just bigotry.

    I’m no fan of religion, but stereotyping 1.6 billion people as holding beliefs that are antithetical to democratic principles is simply absurd. Most of the world’s Muslims are good people, just like most of the world’s Christians are good people. Yes, there absolutely are fundamentalist Muslims who wouldn’t mind if we heathens died, and some of them wouldn’t mind being the ones to make that happen, but that’s not unique to Islam.

    Pointing to the Qur’an and the Hadiths as requiring atrocities is ridiculous because the Bible does the exact same thing. Deuteronomy and Leviticus are loathsome and inhumane–there’s no denying that. Yet we don’t tolerate anyone saying Christianity is “incompatible with enlightenment values.” Allowing this double standard to run unchallenged is Islamophobia.

    tildeb said…

    You have to choose which values to support – islam or enlightenment – because supporting both in practice only supports islam.

    This is more shallow-mindedness, delivered in the form of a false dichotomy. Islam is not a monolith. It makes no more sense to talk about “Islam” like it were one thing than it does to regard “Christianity” as a single institution. Perhaps there are more sects of Christianity than Islam (I don’t have figures, but I suspect this is true), but there is still no single Islam.

    And could you try any harder to sell me a fallacious appeal to emotion, there? Your rhetoric is empty. Islam has shades of belief, just like every other religion in the world. Do you get your information on Islam from Fox News? I began my comment with an unequivocal condemnation of the behavior in the article–did you overlook it? I’m not criticizing you for criticizing the article, I’m criticizing you for doing so poorly.

    After all, I am not the one calling for your death as an unbeliever, to be stoned to death for your apostasy, to be throw you in jail for your kafir opinions. I am not the bad guy here.

    Neither are most Muslims. I didn’t say you were a bad guy. I’m actually pretty sure you’re not because if you were, I suspect Tracy wouldn’t be allowing you to comment here. What I am saying is that your ideas about Islam are fallacious, and your poor reasoning has the effect of dehumanizing a billion and a half people.

    Since we don’t know each other, let me share a bit about my beliefs: I’m an atheist with strong anti-theist leanings. I see religion used as an excuse to commit atrocities around the world, and it makes me sick. The fundamentalists who perpetrate those crimes have been poisoned by their beliefs–they have been victimized by their own religion. That said, I’m also a skeptic, and I know better than to accept an argument based on a hasty generalization fallacy. Wingnuts are not representative of the whole–what you’re talking about is the religion held by a group of statistical outliers, Islam(fundamentalists), and you’re trying to apply that to the superordinate category of Islam(collective). While I believe religions do more harm than good, railing against straw men instead of having an honest, measured discussion about the things people actually believe and do in the real world makes progress harder. It’s also intellectually lazy. Let me clarify: I don’t think you are intellectually lazy, but to generalize so sloppily is. (Everyone slips up sooner or later, so it’s not something you should dwell on, but it is something you should fix.)

    1. Good. Now we’re getting somewhere. You say, it’s (islamophobia) just bigotry. I’m no fan of religion, but stereotyping 1.6 billion people as holding beliefs that are antithetical to democratic principles is simply absurd.

      No, it’s not bigotry. It’s an accurate reflection of the religion because it is a monolith.

      You don’t believe it. Fine. Go ask a muslim if he or she thinks the koran is the perfect word of god. You will not find muslims who fall along a spectrum (from liberal to fundamentalist) that you will find in christianity; you will find 100% agreement that the koran is the perfect word of god.

      Mull this over. Don’t ignore it. Deal with the ramifications.

      There is no middle ground among muslims regarding this allegiance. We are are either good muslims, meaning those who act on holding true to this belief, and bad muslims, meaning those who still act in ways contrary to what the koran says. Your beliefs do not alter this fact, Collin, and you pretend it isn’t true at your peril. But what it does reveal is that anyone who supports the koran in such a way must cause effect. And we see this played out, for example, in the percentage of British born people who come from a social background of relative affluence in a secular society who have graduated from university and who identify as muslim. What percentage do you think agree that killing in defense if islam is acceptable? Now compare and contrast that percentage with all other religions and you will see a very stark difference (More a third – 34% – of these people agree that killing other people in defense of their faith is acceptable compared to under 2% for all other religions). What you call my bigotry is in fact an understanding of the very great danger that islam promotes within our societies. You, apparently, have no problem with this huge discrepancy and want to blame me for it. I’m not the one claiming the religion is benevolent; you are, and you do not have the evidence to back it up.

      Granted, most muslims – like everyone else – are terrific people individually. But their religious allegiance when put into action is antithetical to enlightenment values. If you bother talking with muslims as I have done in the thousands, you will quickly realize that, unlike other religious allegiances, a very significant percentage is ready and willing to be what you describe as an extremist should the call come forth to defend the faith. This is neither shallow-minded nor a fallacious appeal to emotions but a clear sighted view of the tremendous problem islam brings into the public forum. That you don’t want to see or act on this actual state of affairs does not defend tolerance and good will but threatens exactly those secular values that upholds them.

  6. No, it’s not bigotry. It’s an accurate reflection of the religion because it is a monolith.

    Let’s be skeptics: demonstrate this claim.

    Go ask a muslim if he or she thinks the koran is the perfect word of god.

    Go ask a Christian if they think the Bible is the perfect word of god. Now ask that Christian if they’re going to be murdering anyone anytime soon for working on Sunday. People rationalize away horrible things in their holy books. They don’t obey what the book says, they obey what they want to believe the book means. Surely I don’t have to explain this in great detail? “Religion” is not equivalent to “holy book(s).” People bring their own beliefs to the table and superimpose them onto their texts. This is motivated reasoning 101.

    You can take this principled reductio ad absurdum (itself another fallacy) stand all you like, saying that because “the religion” (or rather your straw man) has certain consequences, but believers ignore the consequences of their beliefs on a daily basis. Religions often contain horrible things. People are typically good. The consequence of this interaction is that people ignore the horrible stuff in their own religion. There is also a difference between what people claim they’re willing to do and what they’re actually willing to do. (Please review the literature on the Milgram experiments–people are notoriously bad at estimating their behavior in hypothetical situations they’ve never been in.)

    Your argument can be applied equally to Christianity (where it would still be wrong, mind you), yet you haven’t acknowledged this yet. That suggests a double standard.

    Come down from Mount Straw Vulcan and join me here in reality. Idealized principles don’t exist at ground level.

    You’re also putting words into my mouth. I have no idea why you think I’m blaming you for anything other than the words you’re typing. I am no friend of Islam, but I’m even less of a friend of bad arguments.

    1. Go ask a Christian if they think the Bible is the perfect word of god.

      I have. Very few. And there are compelling reasons for this: authorship, transcriptions, translations, copiers, etc..

      Have you asked some muslims?

      Yeah, that’s what I thought.

      The argument about islamic effect through sharia being incompatible with enlightenment values stands uncontested by you – merely decried as bigotry. Again, it’s not. It is a very reasonable conclusion of a religion that is intolerant of your human rights, your human freedoms, your secularism. You’re okay with this. I’m not. I will criticize this religion to my last breath because it has proven itself incapable of evolving into a more moderate, tolerant, liberalized religion. It is as shrill today about honouring the Koran as it was 700 years ago. No. Exceptions. Will. Be. Tolerated.

      You are under a delusion that the koran is reasonable. It isn’t. You’re under the a delusion that the rule of abrogation doesn’t really apply for ‘modern’ muslims. It does. You are under the delusion that groups like the muslim brotherhood and al quida are somehow separate and extreme political entities rather than entirely from the religious mainstream we call islam. You seem unaware that the central goal of the religion is to bring about the conditions and then impose sharia on everybody. That includes you. And you’re okay with this… that if we raise these very real issues of incompatibility between these religious goals and our enlightenment values that the fault lies with those who are rude enough to point it out rather than where your criticism rightly belongs: with islam itself. My secular values and the importance I grant to them are not the problem here – although you identify them as bigoted. The problem is with that which strives to bring about their end: islam. This is the goal of islam: religious dominance over all humanity.

      Look, I have friends who also happen to be muslim and christian and jewish and buddhist and hindu (welcome to Canada). I work with people who also happen to be muslims and christians and jews and buddhists and hindus. I teach people who also happen to be muslims and christians and jews and buddhists and hindus. I play with people who also happen to be muslims and christians and jews and buddhists and hindus. To all of these people I grant my equivalent respect, caring, and compassion as people as I do for my own family. But I cannot in good conscience grant to others what they are not willing to grant to me: respect for my legal autonomy and human rights equal to their own… regardless of what religious blueprint they use for their justification for privilege. And the religion dedicated to dismantling my legal autonomy and human rights i, without question, islam. But don’t take my word for it. Go talk with muslims!

  7. You guys need to distinguish between religious people and religions. If I say a religion is intolerant, I’m not saying its followers are. There’s a difference.

    And, since I’m not in the mood to moderate this conversation, I would like to inform you both that on this blog, making negative comments about a person’s character requires you to provide evidence of the truth of your claim or be tarred and feathered.

  8. Tildeb, you’re still stereotyping. You have no valid justification for your beliefs here.

    The argument about islamic effect through sharia being incompatible with enlightenment values stands uncontested by you

    STOP RIGHT THERE. You are now attempting to move the goalposts. You said ISLAM is incompatible with enlightenment values, not sharia.

    Not every Muslim wants government codification of sharia law. Is that clear?

    You are under a delusion that the koran is reasonable.

    It is, at this point, perfectly clear that you are not reading my arguments. Please go through this thread again and read what I said very carefully.

    I do not think the Qur’an is reasonable. I also do not think the Bible is reasonable. These books both contain atrocities masquerading as morality. What you are failing to take into account is that human beings are more reasonable than their holy books. For you to read my words as an implicit endorsement of the imposition of sharia law is simply laughable.

    You are under the delusion that groups like the muslim brotherhood and al quida are somehow separate and extreme political entities rather than entirely from the religious mainstream we call islam.

    You do not get to assert without evidence that attitudes held by fundamentalist Muslim groups can be applied to all Muslims. You need to go into the google box and find “spotlight fallacy.” You are committing this fallacy. Hard.

    My secular values and the importance I grant to them are not the problem here – although you identify them as bigoted.

    Your reading comprehension skills are less than stellar. Secular values are not the problem, and I have never said otherwise. I hold secular values to be paramount. What I am saying is that your attempt to portray every system of beliefs that falls under the umbrella term “Islam” as being incompatible with enlightenment values is fallacious.

    Religions are not platonic forms. They do not exist independent of people.

    Tracy:

    I would like to inform you both that on this blog, making negative comments about a person’s character requires you to provide evidence of the truth of your claim or be tarred and feathered.

    Have I at any point made a negative comment about someone’s character here? If so, please point it out so that I can apologize and amend the record.

    1. Collin, what you call ‘moving the goalposts’ is not true. Let’s look at what informs my argument: muslims do not consider themselves ‘liberal’ or ‘fundamentalist’; they consider themselves good or bad muslims by how closely they implement in life the teachings of the koran. Sharia law is a central tenet of doing just this: again, if you ask muslims, they will tell you that sharia governs every aspect of their lives. The two – islam and sharia – are not separate at all and, if you spoke with muslims, you would know this; a good muslim fully supports and implements sharia, a bad one does not. Sharia law is the antithesis of enlightenment values. Therefore, good muslims support a religion whose values are incompatible with the values that inform our secular law.

      Does this an effect? Well, you say I’ve offered no evidence for this, that I am merely spouting bigotry. This is not true; although I certainly don’t want to inundate you with facts, any honest research will show that what you call islamic ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘extremism’ is very often close to a majority in support from muslims born, raised, and educated in the West. Because Tracy has already mentioned this site, you might want to give it a quick once over and tell me how bigoted PEW is and how islamophobic Gallup must be to get these consistent poll results.

      Once you understand why sharia and islam are intricately linked, you may have a better grasp on why such legal travesties as we read from Tracy’s linked article are, in fact, extraordinarily common wherever islam is practiced – from individual homes (and family structures) to national theocracies.

      I don’t want anyone to support and permit religious belief anywhere in the public domain. It simply doesn’t belong. On this I think (and hope) we can agree. But I also recognize the salient fact that islam is in a class of its own and a great danger to all of us because of its tethering to anti-enlightenment values that are to be exercised by real people in real life in great numbers in every facet of life causing real, and highly negative, effect. The religion itself must be constantly criticized, and this criticism sustained over time, and exposed for causing the effects it does… not because I believe in some unreasonable way that it does but because of overwhelming evidence you choose to categorize as simply some vague, extreme, isolated misreading, or misrepresentation of the vast majority of peaceful and productive muslims. You are accommodating that which is intolerant of your right to be tolerant and I think this is mistake that will pay dividends not to supporting secular values but help to undermine them. Your skepticism is founded solely on your assumptions that are factually wrong.

      1. Sorry about that: what I cal ‘this site’ should have included this link but there are dozens of quality studies to show real affect of the danger islamic values bring to western liberal democracies.

      2. This has gone on quite long enough. You’re making nothing but inaccurate assumptions about me. You aren’t even reading my arguments. Haven’t acknowledged where I have pointed out logical fallacies in your arguments. You are failing at critical thinking. Good day.

  9. Just a little real life demonstration for Collin’s education why there is compelling evidence that the koranic directive to implement sharia over everyone is not a fringe movement or an extreme position by the few but a central tenet of the religion itself. Note the justification for imposing sharia on everybody: “This is a muslim area!”, as if this alone negates civil liberties.

    This demonstrates the truth value of my statement, “As for sharia, this is evidence that islam is incompatible with enlightenment values of a civil government justified by the consent of the governed because it respects neither legal equality nor individual rights.” And this is demonstrably true: sharia doesn’t respect legal equality or individual rights. But sharia is not separate from islam nor some fringe component as Collin assumes. Sharia enforces the teachings of the koran, which identifies what is halal and what is haraam. Respect for civil rights of secular citizens in a secular liberal democracy play no part in this determination, which is why sharia is religious tyranny in action. Calling people nasty names like islamophobe who dare to accurately point out the source of this practice within our secular liberal democracies – from good muslims and not some fringe element – does not support what’s true but detracts from it. Criticizing the criticizer merely attempts to redirect justifiable concern away from those who create and distribute the problem: good muslims.

    It is true that, unlike liberal theologies, islam itself is a root problem for respecting civil liberties. Labeling criticizers like I am as an islamophobic serves only to support and encourage this kind of creeping tyranny by attacking those willing to stand against it under the guise of magnanimous tolerance. And you do this by attributing the problem of religious tyranny within islam to some small, extreme fringe, whereas it is a central tenet of the faith for all good muslims. You ignore or trivialize this significant problem by intentionally misunderstanding it.

    1. I don’t see how anyone can believe it to be a fringe movement after surveying the majority Muslims communities around the world. Northern Nigeria, Oman and Pakistan are not the minority in Islamic communities.

      In related news:

      On a percentage basis France has a considerably larger population of Muslims than America. Thus, the French have more experience living with Muslims than do most Americans.
      Yesterday, the French newspaper Le Monde reported the results of a new poll about the French attitude toward their Muslim neighbors.
      The results were not encouraging.
      74% of those who responded consider that Islam is an “intolerant” religion and that its values are incompatible with French values.
      Worse yet, 8 out of 10 respondents believe that Muslims are trying to impose their way of life (mode de fonctionnement) on others.
      Obviously, this leaves open the question of whether the French are fundamentally biased against Muslims or whether the reputation of Islam has been severely damaged by the behavior of French Muslims and their co-religionists around the world. Source

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