The Pope has embraced jihad denialism at the historical moment that jihadists have declared war on Christianity.

The Pope has embraced jihad denialism at the historical moment that jihadists have declared war on Christianity. His recent denial that jihadism is rooted in Islamist theology, his selective criticism of Western secure border policy and his belief that the celebration of European Christianity amounts to colonialism have many Catholics wondering whether he is capable of protecting the church in a time of crisis.

The jihadist murder of Jacques Hamel marked the end of innocence in the 21st-century Christian West. It is the first time Islamic State jihadists have entered a Western church to kill a priest. Following the attack, the Pope said the world was at war, but he denied its roots were religious. Instead, he ascribed jihadism to a battle over resources and money.

Empirical evidence suggests the Pope is wrong ­— gravely so. The murder of Hamel was inspired by Islamism, motivated by hatred of Christians, enacted by jihadists and claimed by Islamic State. In its propaganda mag Dabiq, Islamic State vowed that Christians “will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.”

Normandy’s Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church was one of several Catholic churches found on an Islamic State hit list. L’Express magazine reported that one of the Rouen jihadists, Adel Kermiche, explained in advance his plan to attack Christians as they prayed: “You take a knife, you go into a church. Bam!” What part of jihadism does the Pope not understand?

The jihadists smiled after slitting Hamel’s throat and desecrating the altar before turning on nuns and parishioners. Consistent with jihadist trial by ideology, they investigated the nuns for Koranic compliance. After one nun, Helene Decaux, attested to reading several surahs and offered respect for the Koran, the Islamists denied Christ, stating: “Jesus cannot be God and a man.”

Islamists are monotheistic and deny the triune God of Christianity to the degree that some Islamic countries codify the submission of Christians by prescribing them second-class citizen status under sharia law. However, Pope Francis appears unable or unwilling to grasp the connection between political Islam, anti-Christian oppression and jihadism.

In a press conference, a journalist asked why he hadn’t referred to Islamic terrorism or fundamentalism when speaking about the jihadist killing of Hamel. In his reply, the Pope indulged in base cultural relativism by comparing the system of transnational jihadism with individual instances of domestic violence.

The latest issue of Dabiq offers a timely corrective to the Pope’s loose grasp on the reality of jihadism. Titled “Break the Cross”, its cover depicts a jihadist desecrating a church by destroying the cross on its steeple. Its authors urge Muslims to subjugate Christians and kill those who refuse to submit. Subjugation takes the form of cultural genocide. In the caliphate, Christians are banned from building or rebuilding churches, wearing the cross and openly practising their faith. They are required to “make room for Muslims and stand for them when they want to sit”. And they are forced to pay Muslims a hate tax, jizya, simply for being Christian. As the jihadists state, the purpose of the tax is to elevate Muslims over Christians and Jews.

Despite the increasing frequency of Islamist terror attacks on Western citizens, political and religious leaders commonly lapse into what I would describe as jihadist denialism. The constitution of jihadist denialism is: the creation of a false distinction between Islamic scripture and Islamist terrorism; a form of cultural relativism that holds Christians and Jews equally responsible for modern terrorism as jihadists; a sole focus on the militant expression of jihadism while ignoring its political form; and the omission that codified inequality is a political fact of many Islamic states under sharia law. Jihadist denialists often omit the influence of Christianity in the formation of the secular state, the idea of free will and free choice, the abolition of slavery, the recognition of formal equality and universal human rights.

Jihadist denialism minimises both the deleterious effect of political Islam and the positive legacy of Christianity. It is a dual fallacy.

The confusion that besets Western political and religious leaders when faced with jihadism is a luxury that persecuted Christians in Islamic nations cannot afford. Several organisations such as Open Doors and the Pew Research Centre have produced research showing Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. The primary persecutors of Christians are Islamist and communist regimes. There is no equivalent persecution of Muslims in the Christian-majority nations of the West.

Reverend Majed el-Shafie is a refugee who fled the Islamic world after being imprisoned and tortured by the Egyptian government for converting from Islam to Christianity. In the wake of Hamel’s murder, el-Shafie explained its cause to British newspaper SundayExpress with a clarity that appears to have eluded the Pope: “I believe Christians are a main target just like we used to be. This has been happening to Christians in the Middle East for hundreds of years.” Islamic State is simply the latest iteration of jihadism whose global organisations include al-Qa’ida, Hezbollah and Hamas. As el-Shafie stresses: “The problem is the ideology of the extremists.”

The principal aim of jihadists is to impose a global caliphate governed by sharia law. To achieve it, they must destroy liberal democracy, Judeo-Christianity and all of the West’s attendant freedoms.

Our response to jihadism should not be appeasement born of denial and fear, but the courage to think free thoughts, speak freely and pray to the god of our belief, or observe no god at all. If the West is to survive the 21st-century war with Islamist terror, we must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards jihadists and their ideology. That means supporting persecuted Christians by doing what jihadists loathe: rebuilding the churches they destroy, supporting the communities they persecute, giving shelter to Christian refugees, letting the church bells ring out and wearing the cross with honour.

 

 

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ISIS to Christians: Convert or “live under the authority of Islam in humiliation,”

 or “only thing between you and us is the sword”

Note first that this jihadi’s explanation for his actions in becoming a terrorist begins and ends with Islam. He doesn’t talk about poverty or lack of opportunity. Then note his theological critique of Christianity: Muslims proselytize among young Christians worldwide using arguments like the ones below, and the various churches have nowhere bothered to help their youth formulate responses to these arguments. Finally, note that everything Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi says about how the Christians will be treated is based upon the Qur’an: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).

“Trini ISIS sniper: All Christians must die,”
“Trini ISIS sniper: All Christians must die,”

 

ISLAMIC State’s most recent edition of its online propaganda magazine, which calls on Jihadists to destroy Christianity, features an extensive interview with a Trinidadian fighting with the terror group. He says Christians should die by the sword.

Named in the article as Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi, he said Christians are legitimate targets “due to their mere disbelief,” and “for this reason, amongst others, the Islamic State leadership emphasised the importance not to differentiate between disbelieving soldiers and their so-called ‘civilians.’”…

Dabiq: When did you become a Muslim and how did it happen?

Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: All praise is due to Allah. May blessings and peace be upon Allah’s Messenger.

I come from a family of Baptist Christians, so from a very young age they would send my cousin and me to Sunday school. There I would learn about the Bible, parts of which I even memorized, and also learn about the prophets. My journey towards Islam began when I was around 7 or 8 years old. My mother would take me to church on Sundays. While attending service one day as the members of the congregation were singing and dancing, I took a look around at the pictures they claimed to be of Jesus, angels, and others, as well as the crosses. I said to myself, “Something is wrong here,” because I remembered that the first two commandments were, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,” as I had been taught in Sunday school.

So this had an affect on me as well as the fact that I used to see the pastor – who was married with children – coming next door to commit adultery. I would wonder how this man could lead me when he himself didn’t follow the Bible. I told my mother that I didn’t want to go back to church, and I would pray on my own based on what I’d learned from the Bible. Years later, my grandmother bought me a silver chain with a cross pendant. When I would wear the chain I would think to myself, “This pendant is an idol.” So I took it off and kept the chain. My knowledge of only the first two commandments gave me the understanding that what they were practicing was not in line with the truth. At this point, I didn’t consider myself part of any of the Christian denominations, but that was as far as I got.

In school, I was exposed to all the various religions but I remained upon what I knew. When I was around twenty years old, I would come to accept the religion of truth, Islam. I was working at a call center and got to know a Muslim co-worker there. We happened to share many of the same worldly interests, and for this reason, I would spend much time with him. I used to ask him many questions about the religion. In our conversations I would ask him about the beliefs of Muslims, and would also ask him about Jesus and Muhammad, and everything he told me made sense to me and was in line with what I remembered of the first two commandments, so I quickly gravitated towards Islam and soon found myself debating Christians because I knew their beliefs were corrupt.

Sometimes, because I was drawn to Islam, when I saw him praying, I would pray like him, and when I did, I would feel very calm afterwards. I accompanied him to the Friday sermon a couple of times to see what it was about, and then became certain that this was the true religion – the religion of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. In the last conversation we had before I embraced Islam, I told him that I was planning on selling drugs to support my family. He said that this was wrong and that the ends don’t justify the kill people but I can’t sell drugs to feed my family?”

He then began explaining to me the ultimate purpose of jihad as well as enlightening me concerning some of the Muslims’ plights, and after the conversation, I was settled. So I declared the testimony of faith and became a Muslim.

Dabiq: How did you find the da’wah to jihad?

Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: There was a faction of Muslims in Trinidad that was known for “militancy.” Its members attempted to overthrow the disbelieving government but quickly surrendered, apostatized, and participated in the religion of democracy, demonstrating that they weren’t upon the correct methodology of West, the da’wah to jihad took hold of me through the lectures of Shaykh Anwar al-‘Awlaqi . After listening to his various lectures repeatedly, I gained a firmer understanding of what we as Muslims were supposed to be doing.

I listened to his lecture series titled “Constants on the Path of Jihad” and his lecture series on “The Book of Jihad.” By Allah’s grace, there was a man of sound knowledge who I was able to refer to and who would answer any questions I had. His name was Shaykh Ashmead Choate and he had studied hadith and graduated from one of the Islamic colleges in the Middle martyrdom fighting in Ramadi.

Dabiq: Tell us about your jihad endeavor in Trinidad and Tobago.

Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: I, along with my brothers in Christian paganism is widespread in Trinidad and Tobago Islam Abu ‘Abdillah (another convert from Christianity), Abu ‘Isa, and a number of other brothers from Trinidad that later made hijrah after us formed a group and would deal with some of the issues of the Muslims that people were afraid to deal with. One of our goals was to eventually make hijrah – when we had the ability to do so – and join the mujahidin striving to cleanse the Muslims’ usurped lands of all apostate regimes, and as a result, I would keep myself up to date on all the latest news around the Muslim world and the jihad fronts. We would weigh all of our options as we awaited our opportunity for hijrah. At the same time, we knew that we couldn’t just sit and dream while doing nothing, so whenever the disbelievers in Trinidad would kill or harm a Muslim, we would take revenge. We would work to accumulate money in order to buy weapons and ammo. Alhamdulillah, we were successful in many operations, and this was only by Allah’s grace.

Abu ‘Abdillah, my wife, and I were arrested at one point, but the police weren’t able to make a case against us. We were nonetheless charged for possessing guns and ammunition. They seized my computer and phones and found the videos, books, and lectures on jihad. The taghut government of Trinidad then plotted against us, claiming that we were planning on assassinating the prime minister and a number of other ministers in order to cause chaos and panic in the country. That would have been an honor for us to attempt, but the reality of our operations was much smaller, as I described before. We were imprisoned for terrorism along with some Muslims who merely knew us as well as others whom we had never even met before. Alhamdulillah, they planned and plotted but Allah is the best of planners. They were unable to make a case against us and we were freed, by Allah’s permission, and despite being placed under surveillance, we went back to doing what we knew we had to do, commanding the good and prohibiting the evil….

Dabiq: How did your family react when they found out you became a Muslim?Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: When I became a Muslim, my mother told me that she respected my decision.

Alhamdulillah, she too embraced Islam, a few years after me. She loved Islam so much that she would later say she wished that she had learned of Islam long before so she could have embraced it earlier. Alhamdulillah, one of my brothers also began practicing Islam. As for the rest of my family, I ask Allah to guide them.

Dabiq: How did your family react when they found out you became a soldier of the Islamic State?

Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: Some of my disbelieving Christian relatives have used the fact that I am a soldier of the Islamic State in their quarrels with others. They’ve said, for example, “My relative is an ISIS terrorist, so you better watch out!” Subhanallah, when it comes to the honor that Allah has granted the Caliphate, we even see many disbelievers recognizing it….

Dabiq: As a convert from Christianity, what message would you like to direct to Christians?Abu Sa’d at-Trinidadi: To the Christians I say, you know that you have strayed far away from the true teachings of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Your book was corrupted long ago by your leaders. I call on you to remember the first two commandments, for they are what led me to Islam and to the true teachings of all the prophets. Submit to the one who created you and do not differentiate between the prophets, for they all came with the same message. Follow the final messenger, Muhammad, for in doing so you will be following all of the prophets. If you refuse, then we offer you the option to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation. If you refuse, then the only thing between you and us is the sword.

Time to take Turkey to task over Genocide

Across Australia, Australian descendants of Armenians, Assyrians and Greek survivors of the 1914‑1923 genocide inflicted by the Turkish led Ottoman Empire continue to hold commemoration ceremonies to remember the victims of one of the most horrific episodes in 20th century history.

In echoes of the modern day actions of the Islamic State, millions of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians were mass slaughtered, forced to convert to Islam, systematically raped or sold into sex slavery, had their property stolen or had their Christian cultural, historical and religious monuments destroyed.

Unlike the Germans, who have publicly recognised and shown remorse for the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, the Turkish Government not only refuses to not only acknowledge the genocide, but seeks to punish foreign governments who do.

Of the 21 countries which have recognised the genocide, which includes France, Russia, Canada, Italy, Poland, Greece and Germany, the Turkish Government, in response, has regularly launched sharp diplomatic criticisms, withdrawn their ambassadors and even placed travel restrictions on foreign nationals who wish to visit Turkey.

Despite attempts to have the genocide officially recognised by the Federal Parliament, successive Australian Governments have kowtowed to pressure from Ankara, fearing that official recognition may result in Australians being blocked from visiting the shores of Gallipoli during Anzac ceremonies among other bilateral repercussions.

Such cowardice is out of step with Australian values and historical parliamentary practice.

Australia’s respected international reputation as a good international citizen is derived from being a peace loving nation that is also willing to stand up against injustice and atrocities that have occurred across the world.

Whether it be the Holocaust, Kosovo, Tiananmen Square, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Tibet, East Timor or more recently Syria, Australia has not hesitated to denigrate acts of genocide or systematic human right abuses wherever they have occurred.

Our long standing position has been that failure to acknowledge systematic human rights abuses risks providing the licence for other would be rogue governments that such action is accepted within international practice.

The Australian Parliament should also seek to officially recognise the direct contribution of Australia’s military forces who served in WW1 that helped prevent further mass slaughter of Assyrians during the genocide, including the heroic actions of Australian Army Lieutenant General Stanley Savige.

Savige, who was part of the British secret operation named Dunsterforce, volunteered with the British High Command to lead a force of only eight men under his command which successfully rescued and transported 60,000 Assyrian refugees to safety against Turkish military resistance.

The Turnbull Government should not fear a deterioration in Australia-Turkey relations.

Recent actions by the Turkish Government demonstrate that Turkey is neither a friend to Australia nor a nation that shares common interests or our values.

Turkey has played an instrumental role in facilitating the growth of the Islamic State, despite this being against Australia’s national security interests. It has done this through the purchase of stolen oil seized in both Syria and Iraq by ISIS which the Turkish Government has either actively participated in or turned a blind eye to.

Moreover, the recent mass arrests of academics, journalists and members of the judiciary critical of the Erdogan regime, coupled with the suspension of civil rights, the closure of over 130 media organisations and social media platforms as well as the intermingling of radical theology with public policy demonstrate that Turkey has abandoned its long standing embrace of secularism, western institutions, protections of minorities and democratic practices.

As a result, Christian Turks, among other minorities, have become subject to increasing physical violence, attacks on their churches and even murder.

Without Australia standing with the international community to condemn previous Turkish atrocities and the actions of the current Turkish Government, our inaction risks passively facilitating a repeat of history.

A century ago Australia’s finest gallantly took on the Turks. It is time we now do it again.

John Adams is a former Coalition Advisor

This article was published in today’s Daily Telegraph

New Boko Haram Leader Vows to Bomb Every Church, Kill All Christians

boko-harams-leader-abubakar-shekau-appears-in-a-video-screen-grab

The Islamic State is trying to change up the leadership of Nigerian-based Boko Haram and has appointed a new leader who is vowing to bomb churches and kill all Christians.

IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) announced Wednesday in its al-Nabaa newspaper that Abu Musab al-Barnawi is the new leader of its Nigerian-affiliated outfit, calling him the “Wali” (governor) of its West African Province.

In an interview published by the IS news source that was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, al-Barnawi vowed to kill less Muslims and more Christians.

Under the leadership of Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram has been known to kill not only Christians but also Muslims who oppose the terrorist group.

Al-Barnawi, who was formerly believed to be just the group’s spokesman, vowed to end attacks on mosques and vowed to attack more churches, the Associated Press reports.

“They strongly seek to Christianize the society,” al-Barnawi was quoted as saying. “They exploit the condition of those who are displaced under the raging war, providing them with food and shelter and then Christianizing their children.”

Al-Barnawi said that the militants will respond to the threat of evangelism by “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those [Christians] who we find from the citizens of the cross.”

Despite IS’ claim of leadership change, Shekau, who claimed leadership of the group in 2010, was featured in a recording posted to YouTube on Wednesday night, hours after the al-Barnawi interview was released.

In the 10-minute recording, which according to The New York Times is believed to be authentic, Shekau accused IS of staging a coup against his leadership. Shekau is a former lieutenant of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in 2009.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/new-boko-haram-leader-vows-to-bomb-every-church-kill-all-christians-167558/#Ys7xKHtqwTfOUjjJ.99

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/new-boko-haram-leader-vows-to-bomb-every-church-kill-all-christians-167558/#y4Q5SzX1AECHhRdq.99

 

Shekau discussed a split in the faction over whether Muslims who don’t live by Boko Haram standards deserve to live.

According to BBC, Shekau accused others in Boko Haram of stopping him from communicating with IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“I was asked to send my ideology in writing to the caliph but it was manipulated by some people in order to achieve their own selfish interests,” Shekau explained.

He explained that he sent eight letters to IS leadership and never heard back from them until he heard the news that he had been replaced.

“It’s a very public divorce in many ways,” Yan St-Pierre, a chief executive of the Modern Security Consulting Group in Berlin, told The New York Times.

“This could weaken them like it does any organization,” St-Pierre added. “And that could play into the Nigerian military’s favor.”

BBC reports that journalists who cover the group have pointed out that al-Barnawi is the son of the group’s founder, Yusuf.

“In choosing one of Yusuf’s sons, the Islamic State has shown they understand the importance of continuity of a local vision to their allies,” wrote Nigerian analyst Andrew Walker, the author of Eat the Heart of the Infidel. “Concern will intensify that al-Barnawi and his IS backers will take a more international, outward-looking path.”

Source

The Abrahamic Fallacy

Introduction

The Abrahamic Fallacy is the belief that Abraham is a figure of unity for Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The phrase “Abrahamic Religions” has become very popular as a cover-term for these three faiths. It is particularly popular among Jewish and Christian progressives on the one hand, and Muslim apologists on the other. The term implies a kind of unity or brotherhood across the three faiths.

More broadly, the term “Abrahamic religions” has become the standard term, both in comparative religions and popular parlance, to refer to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in contrast, for example, to Indian religions and East Asian religions.

In essence the claim embodied by the expression is that Abraham is “shared” as a point of common origin by all three monotheistic religions, and naming him as their shared identity is meant to signal that these three faiths are linked together in some kind of theological continuity.

The expression is in fact used in a variety of ways. Adam Dodds points out that for some, it is simply a cover term for the grouping of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, a kind of functional shorthand without any intended theological content. Others – perhaps the majority of writers – use the phrase to imply some degree of “historical and theological commonality,” perhaps unspecified. For still others the term implies an intimate unity, namely that it is one and the same God who has authored the Bible and the Qur’an, and the same eternal message is presented in both books.

But is the construct of “Abrahamic religion” helpful, or quite the opposite, a bad idea? And specifically, is the multi-faith Abraham the same person found in the pages of the Torah, or is he merely a product of wishful thinking?

Abraham in Genesis: Judaism and Christianity

To be sure, Christianity and Judaism do have the Abraham of Genesis in common. This is the Abraham of covenant and promise, the “father of many,” and specifically “father” or “patriarch” of Israel. The Abraham of the Bible is a symbol of God’s benevolence to the nations.

No model of moral perfection, the Abraham of Genesis is nevertheless also the prototype or forerunner for Israel of someone in intimate, personal, covenantal relationship with God, a state to which the Hebrew scriptures testify on almost every page.

While the overlap between Judaism and Christianity in their appreciation of Abraham – embodied in the Genesis account – is profound, there are important differences in how these two faiths understand Abraham. Neither Judaism nor Christianity is content to read Abraham solely through the lens of Genesis.

For Christians it is Paul who frames Abraham, casting him as someone justified by faith: “For Abraham believed and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:22, Genesis 15:6). Thus the Pauline Abraham might be considered as the prototype of a de-Judaized, Gentile Christian liberated from the shackles of the rabbinical Law.

While for Jews Abraham’s paternity is through literal descent, Christians consider themselves to be Abraham’s children “by faith,” following Paul who calls Abraham the “father of all who believe” (Romans 4:16). This involves a new lineage for Gentiles, or as Paula Frederikson put it,  “Christians are children of Abraham, but not from Isaac and Jacob.”

On the other hand, Jews read Abraham through the Oral Traditions (the Talmud), which portray him as an idol-destroying monotheist, and a forerunner of Torah observance.

A story recorded in a Jewish midrash tells of how the young Abram smashed his father’s idols, and then told his father that the one remaining idol had attacked and destroyed all the others. The father disagreed, saying that the idol was only a statue, thus validating Abram’s contention that his father’s idols were no gods at all.

This story is not found in the Bible. In reality there is nothing in Genesis that unambiguously portrays Abraham as an exclusive monotheist or opposed to idol worship. To be sure, there is an implication in Genesis 18:19 that Abraham walked in accordance with God’s laws – which implies rejection of idolatry:

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.

Here Genesis states that God has chosen Abraham for the purpose of establishing his generations to do “what is right and just” as a part of a covenantal relationship. However what cannot be deduced from Genesis is that Abraham actually lived out this commission in an exemplary way, nor that this involved an explicit rejection of idolatry. (The first time the theme of rejection of idolatry crops up in Genesis is when Abraham’s grandson Jacob tells his household in Genesis 35:2, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.”)

In Joshua 24:2-3 it is implied that Abraham was chosen by God out from the religious context of his idol-worshipping father, Terah – implying that Abraham made a break with this practice – but here again, it is not stated explicitly that Abraham renounced idol worship. Indeed there is no reference to idols or other “gods” in the Abraham story.

Moreover there is no code of conduct, which might be called a “law,” described in connection with the Abraham of Genesis. In God’s engagement with Abraham in Genesis, there is no impartation of a system of ethics. What is there is covenantal relationship: favour, promise and references to Abraham’s faith and his notable acts of obedience (e.g. Genesis 12:4, 15:6, 22). The only regulation reported for Abraham’s religion, apart from the Lord being his family’s god, was the custom of circumcising males (Genesis 17:13), instituted as a sign of covenant faithfulness.

Although there is nothing explicit in Genesis which portrays Abraham as opposed to idols, what is of great relevance, in contrast to the competing idol worship of the surrounding nations, is the incident of the binding of Abraham’s son Isaac, in which God intervened to spare Isaac and symbolically put an end to child sacrifice, replacing this with the sacrifice of an animal instead. This act anticipates the instruction in the Law of Moses that Israelites had to “redeem” a firstborn son through an animal sacrifice (Exodus 22:29, 34:19-20).

Later of course, for Christian theology, the story comes full circle when God replaces temple sacrifices of animals with the offering of his only Son, Jesus, on the very same mountain, Moriah, where Abraham attempted to sacrifice Isaac.

The binding of Isaac

The Akedah, or binding of Isaac, was important in defining the distinct identity of the Israelites. The Hebrews were culturally closely related to the surrounding Canaanites, and linguistically virtually indistinguishable from them. Hebrew is classified as a Canaanite language (others were Phoenician, Ammonite, Moabite and Edomite). Ancient Canaanite religion is well known for the practice of child sacrifice. The Akedah account of the interrupted sacrifice of Isaac — and the subsequent practice of redeeming the firstborn son — set the Israelites apart from their Canaanite neighbours, and elevated the worship of the God of Abraham above that of Molech, who welcomed human sacrifice.

The practice of child sacrifice was at certain times also a Hebrew practice, an issue which much concerned the prophets (Jeremiah 19:4-5; Ezekiel 16:20-21). This practice continued among the Israelites right up until the Babylonian exile and was one of the reasons for it (Psalm 106:37-39). Solomon himself built a temple to Molech, and this was only torn down in the reforms of Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).

God’s intervention in the Akedah could be regarded as an anti-idolatry polemic (against Canaanite child-sacrifice practices). But if so, this is an indirect reference to idolatry, and apart from this, Genesis offers us little evidence to regard Abraham as a model monotheist. A follower of God, yes; a trenchant anti-idolator, no.

So, in summary, Christianity and Judaism share the Abraham of covenant, the father of many and patriarch of the nation of Israel.

A divisive figure

Despite the shared Biblical narrative, Abraham remains a divisive figure between the two Biblical faiths, because for the Jews he is the very model of a Torah-observant Jew — a perspective which is not so much Biblical as Talmudic; but for Christians he is the man saved by faith, a figure who stands opposed to continuing Jewish adherence to the Torah — a perspective which is based more on Paul than on Genesis.

There are of course tensions even in Paul’s view of Abraham and his children the Jews in general. On the one hand Paul extols Jewish identity, and affirms the promises of God to the Jews as irrevocable (Romans 11:28-29). On the other hand, Paul castigates Jews for holding on to the Torah in opposition — as he saw it — to salvation by faith, and for seeking to impose the Torah upon Gentile believers. It is not, he asserts, “the children of the flesh” who are the children of God, but the “children of the promise” (Romans 9:8). The legacy of Abraham is received by faith, not by adherence to the law (Romans 4:13): “For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless” (Romans 4:14).

While both Christianity and Judaism accept the Bible’s narrative that the promise was passed on through Isaac (and not the older son Ishmael), the idea that the children of Israel, Abraham’s grandson, are the people of God’s promise has proved a stumbling block to Gentile Christianity. Often Christianity has adopted a supersessionist theology which dispenses with God’s covenant to the Jews, appropriating the title “people of God” to Gentile Christianity, and displacing the Jews as the beneficiaries of God’s promises to Abraham.  This was already a theme of early Christian thought: Paul’s Abraham of faith was used as a kind of stick for beating Jews over the head. In this way Abraham has become a core point of contention and division between Jews and Christians.

Abraham in the Quran

The later Jewish view of Abraham as the idol-destroying monotheist developed in extra-biblical Jewish traditions. From there it passed over — along with fragments of other Jewish traditions — into the Quran. However, although this is a link between the Abraham of Jewish tradition and the “Ibrahim” of the Quran, the Quran’s overall take on Abraham diverges considerably from that of Genesis. The word appropriationrather than inheritance is apposite. Ibrahim of the Quran is a very different figure from Abraham, the “father of many” of Genesis: his function in theological history and his relationship with God is very differently understood.

What does the Quran have to say about Abraham?

A great deal. There are 69 verses in the Quran which mention Abraham by name: he is the second most frequently mentioned Biblical figure after Moses. Like other Biblical references found in the Quran, this material appears to allude to Jewish traditions circulating in the 7th century AD. The references do not show signs of being directly shaped or even influenced to any degree by someone who was directly familiar with the text of Genesis.

Abraham is a figure alluded to repeatedly throughout the Quran. Unlike the Bible, the Quran normally does not have one specific section devoted to telling the story of individuals — such as Genesis 12-25 which deals with Abraham — but instead treats them allusively, making multiple references, some of which are fragments of narratives, presented in a way which implies that the reader is already familiar with the content of the story.

There are allusions in the Quran to some Biblical stories connected to Abraham. For example there are various references to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (e.g. Sura 26:160ff) and to the visit of the angels to establish a covenant (e.g. Sura 11:69-73). There are also extra-biblical stories taken from Jewish tradition such as the Talmudic narratives of Abraham’s destruction of his father’s idols (Sura 21:58) and being thrown into a fiery furnace, a trial he survived by the miraculous intervention of God (Sura 21:68-70).

Throughout these scattered references, Abraham is presented as one in a long line of prophets of Islam: Ibrahim of the Quran is prophet of Islam, a model monotheist and opponent of idol worship. Some of the key points are as follows:

“He hath named you Muslims”

Abraham is the one who gave the name Muslims to Allah’s followers:

And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! (Sura 22:78 – Pickthall)

One true religion

Abraham taught the same religion brought by Muhammad, the religion of Moses, Noah and Jesus:

He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him). (Sura 42:13)

Abraham had a book

Abraham, consistent with Muhammad’s understanding of “prophets” and just like Muhammad, had a “book” from God like that of Moses (i.e. like the Torah).

You prefer the life of this world, but the hereafter is better and more enduring.  And this is in the Books of the earliest (revelations) — the Books of Abraham and Moses. (Sura 87:16-19 Yusuf Ali)

Or are they jealous of mankind because of that which Allah of His bounty hath bestowed upon them? For We bestowed upon the house of Abraham (of old) the Scripture and wisdom, and We bestowed on them a mighty kingdom. (Sura 4:54; see also 19:41)

A model imam

Instead of calling Abraham “father of nations”, the Quran describes him as the imam or “leader” of nations (Sura 2:124), and from his line other “leaders” will come (including Muhammad). Thus instead of Abraham being a blessing to the nations, he is a forerunner and model for future “leaders”, and ultimately for Muhammad. This is reinforced by tracing him as an ancestor of Muhammad by the line of Ishmael.

Abraham in the Quran adheres to core Islamic doctrines such as belief in Judgement Day (Sura 2:126), which was anachronistic for Genesis: in the Bible, this belief is only introduced much later, by the prophets.

A model of hostility and hatred

Strikingly, Abraham of the Quran also adheres to the same doctrine Muhammad taught of hatred and enmity to unbelievers:

There is a goodly pattern for you in Abraham and those with him, when they told their folk: Lo! we are guiltless of you and all that ye worship beside Allah. We have done with you. And there hath arisen between us and you hostility and hate for ever until ye believe in Allah only – save that which Abraham promised his father (when he said): I will ask forgiveness for thee, though I own nothing for thee from Allah – Our Lord! In Thee we put our trust, and unto Thee we turn repentant, and unto Thee is the journeying. (Sura 60:4)

Mecca and Ishmael

A distinctive of Abraham in the Quran is the report that he and his son Ishmael built the Kaaba in Mecca and established it as a place of worship for Allah:

And when We made the House (at Makka) a resort for mankind and sanctuary, (saying): Take as your place of worship the place where Abraham stood (to pray). And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ishmael, (saying): Purify My house for those who go around and those who meditate therein and those who bow down and prostrate themselves (in worship). (Sura 2:125)

And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower. (Sura 2:127)

Of course, as the English scholar Guillaume pointed out:

… there is no historical evidence for the assertion that Abraham or Ishmael was ever in Mecca, and if there had been such a tradition it would have to be explained how all memory of the Old Semitic name Ishmael … came to be lost. The form in the Quran is taken either from Greek or Syriac sources.

The point Guillaume was making is that the form of the name “Ishmael” found in the Quran is borrowed from Greek and Syriac (from the Biblical traditions). It is implausible that a tradition of the Kaaba being built by Abraham and Ishmael could have been passed down and preserved only in Greek and Syriac (i.e. Christian) traditions, while the name “Ishmael” was forgotten by the Arabs for centuries.

Hadiths or traditions of Muhammad (not the Quran) refer to the Akedah event, but in these traditions it is Ishmael who Abraham sacrificed, not Isaac.

Notably, the Quran refers to Ishmael as a prophet of God like Abraham, and within a litany of what the Bible calls patriarchs and the Quran calls “prophets” the name Ishmael can be found.  Jacob himself names Ishmael among his “fathers”:

Or were ye present when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me? They said: We shall worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One God, and unto Him we have surrendered. (Sura 2:133)

However, in other places there is reference to “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” without naming Ishmael.

The religion of Abraham was Islam

What is particularly interesting in the Quran – and a key point for this presentation – is that it is in the Quran that the expression “the religion of Abraham” is to be found. This is repeated several times.

What is the meaning of this Quranic phrase, the “religion of Abraham”? The meaning is made clear when the Quran commends the “religion of Abraham” to Jews and Christians, rebuking them for having rejecting it:

Say: Allah speaketh truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, the upright. He was not of the idolaters. (Sura 3:95)

Say: O People of the Scripture! Why disbelieve ye in the revelations of Allah, when Allah (Himself) is Witness of what ye do? (Sura 3:98)

Say: O People of the Scripture! Why drive ye back believers from the way of Allah, seeking to make it crooked, when ye are witnesses (to Allah’s guidance)? Allah is not unaware of what ye do.  (Sura 3:99)

Muslims also are commanded to follow the “religion of Abraham” as the religion of Muhammad:

And afterward We inspired thee (Muhammad, saying): Follow the religion of Abraham, as one by nature upright. He was not of the idolaters. (Sura 16:123)

Thus, according to the Quran, it is Islam, in contrast to Christianity and Judaism, which is the religion of Abraham.  It is the followers of Muhammad who have the “best claim” to Abraham:

Lo! those of mankind who have the best claim to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet and those who believe (with him); and Allah is the Protecting Guardian of the believers. (Sura 3:68; see also 4:125)

Abraham was neither a Christian nor a Jew

Christians and Jews are rebuked for commending their faith to the Arabs. Muslims, the Quran asserts, follow the religion of Abraham, not the religion of idolaters:

And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters. (Sura 2:135)

Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. (Sura 2:136)

The Quran claims that Abraham was “neither a Christian nor a Jew”:

O People of the Scripture! Why will ye argue about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye then no sense? (Sura 3:65)

Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man (hanif) who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters. (Sura 3:67)

Or say ye that Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know best, or doth Allah? And who is more unjust than he who hideth a testimony which he hath received from Allah? Allah is not unaware of what ye do. (Sura 2:140)

Muslims must accept Abraham

Indeed it is an article of faith that Muslims are commanded to “make no distinction” between the messengers — i.e. they should accept Abraham just as they accept Muhammad.

Following Muhammad is following Abraham (Sura 2:285, 4:152). Another way of putting this is that if you accept Abraham as a prophet of Allah, you should also “make no distinction” and accept Muhammad:

Lo! We inspire thee [Muhammad] as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as We imparted unto David the Psalms; (Sura 4:163)

The prototypical Muslim

From the Quran’s perspective, Abraham was the prototypical Muslim. He is used by Muhammad in the Quran as a stick to beat over the heads of Christians and Jews. This arises for example in the context of Muhammad’s disputes with the Jews of Medina (specifically in this Sura: 4:44-57, 156-162). Muhammad is in effect saying, “You quote the name Abraham to me, but Abraham was a Muslim, one of a long line of prophets. If you accept Abraham, you must accept me.”

Islam is the true Judaism and the true Christianity

Not only Abraham, but Moses and Jesus were Muslim prophets according to the Quran. So Islam is the true heritage of Jews and Christians. Jews and Christians who convert to Islam are actually reverting to the faith of the patriarchs, returning to the one true religion.

An Abrahamic political vision for America

According to this view, the “religion of Abraham” is a kind of code for Islam’s precedence over all other religions. Islamic da’wa or mission to Christians and Jews involves calling them to the “religion of Abraham,”i.e. to Islam. Shamin A. Siddiqi of Flushing, New York put this position in a letter to Daniel Pipes:

Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad were all prophets of Islam. Islam is the common heritage of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community of America, and establishing the Kingdom of God is the joint responsibility of all three Abrahamic faiths. Islam was the din (faith, way of life) of both Jews and Christians, who later lost it through human innovations. Now the Muslims want to remind their Jews and Christian brothers and sisters of their original din. These are the facts of history.

This vision, clothed in harmonious-sounding language, in fact is of a sharia-compliant United States led by Muslims and created with the help of Jews and Christians. It is “Abrahamic” in the sense that it is Islamic, as Islam is the common heritage of the three faiths. And within this vision of sharia America, non-Muslims should be relegated to the subservient role of promoters of Islam.

Today the phrase “Abrahamic religion” has become a touchstone of interfaith dialogue and unity between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. But ironically this phrase is another rendering of the “religion of Abraham” of the Quran: the phrase refers to Abraham as a Muslim.

Abraham a Figure of Division Between the Three Faiths

In reality Abraham is an intensely divisive figure between Jews, Christians and Muslims. For many Christians he is the apostle of salvation by faith alone, in opposition to Torah-observance. For Jews he is the Torah-observant father of the Jewish nation, and a reminder of God’s irrevocable covenant with the Jews. For Muslims he is the prototypical Muslim prophet, a prominent forerunner and validator of Muhammad’s claim and the ground of Muslim claims that Islam both predates and supersedes the Biblical faiths.

The Origins of the Expression “Abrahamic Religion”

I have been tracing the origins of the concept of “Abrahamic faith” in reference to monotheistic dialogue. Its most important and influential promoter was a Lebanese Maronite priest, Youakim Moubarac, following in the footsteps of his teacher, Massignon, who regarded Islam as a faith of genuine revelation — and Muhammad as a prophet — but in more primitive stage than Christianity.

Moubarac devoted his 1951 doctoral dissertation Abraham dans le Coran to the topic of Abraham in Islam. He was subsequently a significant influence on Vatican II’s policy on Islam, which has shaped the current Catholic catechism, which sees Islam and Christianity as united by adoration of the one God:

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” [330]

An Abrahamic utopia and dhimmi theology

Moubarac saw in the theme of Abrahamic faith a force which could unite Christians, Jews and Arabs into one family. Thus he wrote that one should “promote an egalitarian Palestine in which Jews, Christians and Muslims demonstrate together its abrahamic and ecumenical vocation.”

This vision of a political and spiritual reconciliation between faiths based upon a shared identity as followers of “Abrahamic faith” is fundamentally flawed. In fact it leads to Islamization, as a society based on the Quranic concept of Abrahamic faith is a sharia state, which by virtue of the structure of Islamic law, is devoted to the decline and ultimate disappearance of Christianity and Judaism.

It should not be surprising that a Christian from a dhimmi background, from a nation traumatized by the massacres of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, would produce an quintessential dhimmi theology, one which offers to Christians the option of serving Islam by embracing the legitimacy of Islam and thus of Muslim power. Bat Ye’or writes:

Moubarac interpreted the end of Christian political power [i.e. in Lebanon] as a religious liberation which would restore to the Church the vocation that Islam had assigned to it: a service of charity and love toward Muslims. (Islam and Dhimmitude p. 183.)

The promotion of “Abrahamic faith” as the touchstone of interfaith religious dialogue was linked in its origins with a vision of a Middle Eastern utopia in which Christians, Muslims and Jews would live side by side in unity. In reality this vision encouraged Islamophile church leaders in Lebanon to fight alongside Palestinians to destroy the political and national structures of Christianity in Lebanon. The ultimate outcome has been, and will continue to be, the progressive Islamization of that nation and destruction of the church – in accordance with the internal goals of Islamic doctrine, a process which is now reaching end-game stage in Iraq and perhaps also Syria.

Rowan Williams on Sharia law in Europe

I am minded to recall the previous Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’s suggestion that the British embrace aspects of Sharia law, claiming that “It is not as if we’re bringing in an alien and rival system.” Undoubtedly Williams’ views were based upon his experiences of interfaith dialogue, which had schooled him in the underlying unity of the Abrahamic faiths. Thus he became an apologist for sharia law and its alien and abhorrent treatment of women: the pointy end of Williams’s proposal is of course the entrenchment of sharia courts in the UK, which are not good for the rights of Muslim women. By making this statement he became, albeit unwittingly, an apologist for the sharia itself, including by implication its demand that Muslims be politically dominant.

Conclusion

The concept of “Abrahamic faiths” is a fallacy. Its contemporary influence was, tragically, born out of a century of Christian suffering in the Middle East and foisted upon the unsuspecting West. It is reasonable to ask whether this is a theological Trojan horse designed to promote an Islamic worldview of relations between faiths.

By all means, let us discuss Abraham and what he stands for in different faiths, and note that the narratives of the three monotheistic faiths refer to Abraham. But it is unwise to take Abraham as a touchstone of unity and theological continuity. On the contrary, the name of Abraham stands for the profound divisions between the three monotheistic faiths.

______________

Dr Mark Durie is a theologian, human rights activist and pastor of an Anglican church. He has published many articles and books on the language and culture of the Acehnese, Christian-Muslim relations and religious freedom. A graduate of the Australian National University and the Australian College of Theology, he has held visiting appointments at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992. at the University of Leiden, MIT, UCLA and Stanford, and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1992. The Third  Choice, Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom is reviewed under the title Dhimmitude Dominates and excerpted in theNew English Review. An interview with Dr. Durie can be found in The West Speaks published by the New English Review Press. He also is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

 

There has to be a will to bring us together – Andrew Bolt

THINK AGAIN – An Interview with Andrew Bolt. An agnostic who publically defends the Christian faith and believes Islam needs reform

Calvary Christian Church

  • Q & A bias against Christians
  • Media treats Christian church different to Muslims
  • excessive courtesy to Islam
  • 5 journalist subjected to threat to their lives here in Australia
  • I see the link between the chritian faith and the freedoms i enjoy, its no coincidence that the freer societies in the world are almost universally Christian.
  • I think Humility is what is missing
  • You are living on the fat of Christianity
  • Foreign Minister Julia Bishop described radical Islam as a greater threat to world peace than communism was during the height of cold war
  • as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. Jesus very different to Muhammod
  • Julia Bishop said to truly defeat Islamic state we need to challenge and repudiate its idealogy
  • Islam and Ideology –  an artificial distinction. need to say reform “What” The “What” is the Koran
  • The Church should be very explicit about its teachings.

 

 

Western media shuts its eyes to persecution of Christians by IS

There is one minority group that is more persecuted than any other in the world, persecuted more frequently, more widely and with more intensity.

There is indeed in one substantial region an explicit campaign of genocide being carried out against this group.

Unverified videos emerged on Sunday, which appear to show gunmen from the group ISIS executing about thirty Ethiopian Christians in Libya. The videos purportedly made by the organisation, were first posted on social media sites. The militants in the first section of the video refer to Christians as “Crusaders” as they proceed to behead around fifteen men after marching them along a beach. ISIS militia control large swathes of Iraq and Syria and are spreading out to Libya, taking advantage of…

Yet you will hardly ever hear about it in the Western media.

The minority group in question is Christians. A terrible process of ethnic and religious cleansing of Christians from the Middle East is strongly in train. Although especially acute in Syria and Iraq, this reflects, and is a kind of grim culmination of, dynamics at work for decades, indeed for centuries.

The western media and political correctness are implicated as enablers:

But the active persecution of Christians extends far beyond the Middle East.

The Western media is imprisoned in a kind of psychotic fantasy loop that makes it all but ignore this historic drama. The postmodern ideological mindset of most Western media attributes all the world’s international ills to Western colonialism, neo-colonialism, capitalism and militarism, and in all instances (except Israel) the villains are nominally, or formerly, Christian states of the West.

Therefore the Western media cannot bring itself to describe, much less make moral judgments about, the savage persecution of Christians.

According to a study by the non-partisan Pew Research Centre, Christians are the most persecuted minority in the world. In 2014, according to this study, Christians were persecuted and harassed by government or the general society in 108 countries, an increase from 102 the year before. …

The media could at least alert people about it. How much airplay has it received on the ABC, compared to truly important things like whether Rolf Harris or Cardinal Pell might have fondled some kids decades ago?

Even if the world cannot stop this persecution, it at least discusses such issues. There is very little open discussion of the systematic persecution of Christians. …

The scale of the genocide is huge. Guess it must be one of those genocides, like in communist Russia, China, or Cambodia, that the PC media does want to not discuss for ideological reasons:

A century ago, about one in seven people in the Middle East were Christian. Today the figure is less than one in 25, and the proportion continues to decline.

The process resembles the savage persecution that led to the exodus of nearly a million Jews from Arab and Muslim countries in the region after World War 11. …

The scale of the tragedy in Iraq and Syria is immense. Once there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Perhaps 10 per cent of those remain there now, and most of them would leave if they could.

 

 

Source  also Similar article

 

Religious bigotry and persecution

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s important speech about Religious bigotry and persecution  and PZ Myers’ defamatory smear against her

Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave an important speech to the American Atheists Convention this weekend. She argued that Islam is significantly more dangerous than Christianity today, and that we should focus our limited campaigning resources where they are most effective in tackling injustice and persecution.

In response, in his latest defamatory smear, PZ Myers has accused Ayaan, who lives with constant security protection against threats on her life, of “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” and “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives”.

He based this smear on the following selective quote attributed on Twitter to Ayaan:

“If you are gay the worst the Christian community can do in America is not serve you cake.…I just want you to think about being Muslim and gay today…the worst case scenario…bullies throw you off a building.”

You’ll notice three sets of ellipses there. That shows that there is something intentionally left out of the quote. This is the main piece that is left out of the middle of the quote:

“I tweeted Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who I think is very brave by going out there and describing what it is that the LGBT community faces in predominantly homophobic communities. The discrimination is subtle, and it lurks in the shadows.”

Ayaan also said elsewhere in her speech, about discrimination by Christians in America:

“I understand, I empathise, and you have my support in fighting religious bigotry, and in Christian America there is probably a lot to do.”

“So I understand, if you are ex-Christian, the kind of pain that you have to go through, and what a big battle it is we have to fight.”

She quoted David Silverman as saying about the Convention venue that “We go to places where we know that there is a great deal of religious oppression. Last time it was in Salt Lake City. Now it is Memphis.” She added that she thinks that is a great strategy.

She said that she wanted people to consider the points she was making as brainstorming, instead of brainwashing, because atheists should spend the day thinking.

How on earth could this reasonably be described as “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” or as “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives”?

Tackling injustices proportionately

I agree with the central point that Ayaan was making at the Convention. She was arguing that religions are different, that Islam is significantly more dangerous than Christianity today, and that we should focus our limited campaigning resources where they are most effective in tackling injustice and persecution.

I disagree with part of the final line of her speech, which was: “Let’s stop going after Christians and Christianity. Let’s go after Islam as the most threatening doctrine of our time. Let’s ask them those questions that we put to the other religions.”

The part that I disagree with is “Let’s stop going after Christianity.” I believe that we should challenge all injustices by all religions, including both Islam and Christianity, and that we should do so proportionately to the scale of the injustices, the level of our resources, and the effectiveness of our options.

For example, in Atheist Ireland, we challenge the mostly-Catholic religious discrimination that the State endorses in Ireland, we work with other advocacy groups on human rights and social justice issues in Ireland and at the UN, and we campaign internationally against mostly-Islamic injustices and atrocities along with our colleagues in Atheist Alliance International and the International Campaign Against Blasphemy Laws.

However, given the other things Ayaan said in her talk, a charitable interpretation of her final line would include an implicit “disproportionately” after the phrase “Let’s stop going after Christians and Christianity.” She may well have clarified what she meant in more detail if she had more time, as she introduced this point by noting that she had less than a minute left to speak.

But even without that clarification, she said nothing that could be remotely described as “happily exploiting atrocities to justify continued injustices” or “using the threat of murder elsewhere as a club to silence those who strive for respect and dignity in their lives.”

The context of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s comment

You can see this even more clearly by reading the context. This is what Ayaan said leading up to, and immediately after, the part of her speech that PZ selectively quoted from. Please notice that, at various points, she is is distinguishing between social discrimination and legal discrimination.

“If you happen to be a member of the LGBT community, you are even talking about laws being passed not to serve you a cake. There is a gentleman, I want you to look him up. His name is Shelby Steele. He inspired me in many ways through his books, and one of the statements he made says:

‘During the civil rights movement, if you were black and showed up at any place they wouldn’t serve you or take your money because you were black. And he says that one of the biggest achievements of the civil rights movement is that, after the racists and bigots were defeated, what stood between a black man and whatever he wanted to consume was his wallet.’

I think the LGBT community today is at a place where you can afford to say to he or she who doesn’t want to serve you that I am going to take my money somewhere else. And it took a long time to get there and we are not yet there.

In Christian America, when women fight for their reproductive rights, the right to work, the right to own their own bodies, and it is a long history, of maybe about two hundred years, as a woman living in America I can celebrate and say to the sexists, go F yourselves.

I understand, I empathise, and you have my support in fighting religious bigotry, and in Christian America there is probably a lot to do.

But I want to draw your attention to a different kind of religion. If you become a Christian apostate the highest price that you will pay is that your family, your neighbours, your community will disown you. Trust me, I understand that pain. Nothing has hurt me more than my father and mother telling me that we cannot accept you unless you continue to, what, deny my conscience?

So I understand, if you are ex-Christian, the kind of pain that you have to go through, and what a big battle it is we have to fight. Yet, given the limited resources we have, the limited time we have, and the potential energy and force and magnitude and resources of the Islamic threat, I want to draw your attention to the religion that threatens us the most in 2015.

As an ex-Muslim, I have come to terms with the fact that my family will not accept my conscience. If only they would leave it at that. But I will never come to terms with the fact that all kinds of strangers out there, who happen to have been raised in the same religion I was, want to kill me, and not only me. Every single individual who was raised within Islam and who doubts the truth of Mohammed, and the truth of the Quran, today runs the risk of being killed.

At lunch I ran into two ex-Muslims. One said my name is Mohammed and I am an ex-Muslim. I said ‘What are you going to do about the name Mohammed?’ And he said ‘I am Mohammed the Atheist.’ And that is heartening, It is so delightful.

But less delightful is when I ran into the next ex-Muslim, who is from Bangladesh. And he said: ‘I don’t know how much of the news you follow, but in two months in Dakar, Bangladesh, Muslim fanatics too meat cleavers to kill individuals – we don’t even know if they were ex-Muslims, we know that they were secular, we know that they were thinking, we know that they were writing their thoughts by blogging about it. And because the zealots found them online, they followed them, and took meat cleavers to them, and killed them.

As an ex-Muslim, as an apostate of Islam, that is what you are up against. And it is not only Dakar, Bangladesh. It is right here. Do you think I want to be around these gentlemen twenty four hours a day? (gestures to her security protection team) Hey guys, I love you, and I am grateful to you, but we go on and on in America about privacy, and I have to live in that bubble and think ‘what privacy do I have?’ That is what it is to be an ex-Muslim and speak out.

But what if you are an ex-Muslim and you want to get out of the closet? Maybe it is something much more narrow, much smaller. It is a small box. Your conscience is narrowed down. All day long you spend time lying and lying and lying. To your parents, pretending that you are praying love times a day when you don’t want to pray five times a day. Given our lifestyle, if you come from a Muslim family, somebody is going to notice. You’re not reading the Quran. You’re not fasting. You are associating with infidels. And ‘infidel’ in islam is very broad. It covers everyone who doesn’t worship in that narrow way.

And so that is my first point. I wanted to highlight the difference between the religions. If you are gay today in the United States of America, the worst thing the Christian community can do to gay people is to not serve them cake when they want to get married. I tweeted Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, who I think is very brave by going out there and describing what it is that the LGBT community faces in predominantly homophobic communities. The discrimination is subtle, and it lurks in the shadows.

But I just want you to think about being Muslim and gay today. In the worst case scenario – you have seen it on television, on YouTube – to be accused, you don’t even have to be gay, if you are accused of being gay, you are marched to the tallest building in town and bullies throw you off that building. And there is a crowd of people waiting there to stone you with glee. And as they do that, they scream ‘Allahu Akbar’. And they cite that that is how the punishment is for gays in the Quran and in the Hadith. This is 2015.

In the best case scenario, if one finds out that you are gay, and in Islam stories about lesbians are not told that much, but if you are a gay guy and you think I don’t like girls, what will your family do? They will force you into marriage. I know that over the years I have spoken out about forced marriages of girls and women, but there is also the forced marriage of the gay community. And can you imagine the kind of family that you establish in that sort of frame?

If you are a woman living in the United States of America, and you face people who in the name of Christianity will challenge your reproductive rights, you will get to a point where you are going to have a debate about whether the State is willing to dispense contraceptives or not. The big fight is not with the American Government. The big fight is with your own family, your siblings, your own community, your own neighbourhood, the church you used to belong to. That is where you seek and demand acceptance, and you find that you are not accepted, so that is where the battle is.

But in the world of Islam, whether it is a Muslim community in Dearborn, Michigan, or whether it is in Saudi Arabia, quite the other extreme, what you are facing is a stultified, frozen, moral system from the seventh century, that demands that you be covered from head to toe before you leave the house, that you need a male guardian, that you are for ever a slave. If you are raped, it is your fault. The burden of proof lies with you. If your father dies, and leaves anything behind, then half of it will not go to you, only half of half will go to you.

It is such a blatant discrimination in the name of religion. Segregation, the worst kind of segregation we have ever seen, because in many of those radical Muslim homes, there is a space for woman and a space for men, and it is a very unhealthy arrangement, I can tell you. And this takes me back to the gays, because a lot of Muslim men will have sex with little boys, they will have sex with men, but they will erupt in joy when they see a gay man put to death. It is that kind of hypocrisy, it is that the of sickness, that we are up against.

And it is not only atheists. I want you to take note of the plight of religious minorities in Muslim countries and within Muslim communities. If you want to be a Christian, and you are in a Muslim community, or a Muslim family, you know what? Please read Richard Dawkins. That’s about the worst I can do to you. I can introduce you to Sam Harris. But I will never threaten to disown you, to kill you, or anything. Today, if you are Christian, or Jewish, or even any of the myriad minorities within Islam, you cannot practice your religion freely.

And as atheists, our job is not only to defend our own narrow path to reason. I think that our efforts should also be about defending the freedom of conscience in general. Voltaire: I do not agree with what you say, I despise it, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. If you want to be superstitious, go for it. I don’t like it, but I will put my life on the line to defend your right to say it. That is the soul of a free society and an open society.”

Source

 

Here is Ayaan’s full speech, for more context. The above section represents perhaps one third of it..  Keynote speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, at the American Atheists Convention in Memphis, April 3, 2015

Genocide of Assyrian Christians in Iraq continues in Syria

Destroyed 118 Churches in Iaq

Published on 3 Mar 2015

The genocide of Assyrian Christians in Iraq continues in Syria.

ISIS attacked 35 Assyrian villages in northeast Syria in the Hassaka province. At least 9 Assyrians fighters were killed defending their villages. Up to 373 Assyrians were captured. 3000 Assyrians fled from their villages and are now in shelters in Hasaka and Qamishli.

None of the Assyrians want to return. This is what they have told their bishops.

Three weeks earlier, ISIS ordered Assyrians in the region of Hasaka to remove the crosses from their churches and to pay jizya (Christian poll tax), warning residents that if they failed to pay they would have to leave or else be killed (AINA 2015-02-03).

The list of atrocities against Assyrians in Syria is very long; it includes murders, kidnappings and the destruction of cultural resources, including churches and ancient Assyrian historical artifacts.

In Iraq it has been the same. With the first church bombing on June 24, 2004 there began a relentless, low grade genocide which culminated in the displacement of 200,000 Assyrians from the Nineveh Plain by ISIS. Where the population of Assyrians in Iraq was at 1.4 million in 2004, it has dwindled to 300,000 in 2015. Most fled to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey –and now these same refugees will be forced to flee from Syria, along with the Assyrians of Syria.

ISIS has not only killed and displaced Assyrians in Syria and Iraq, it has destroyed the Assyrian cultural heritage. It has destroyed 118 churches in Iraq and 6 in Syria. It has destroyed Assyrian archaeological sites and historical artifacts in Iraq and Syria.

This is genocide — there is no other word for it. This is the erasure of a nation from the land which it has inhabited for 6764 years.

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide lays down the meaning of genocide:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
• Killing members of the group;
• Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
• Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
• Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
• Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

To this we can add the destruction of the cultural heritage of a nation, including the destruction of secular and religious institutions and historical and archaeological artifacts.

All of these acts have been committed against Assyrians in Syria and Iraq in the last ten years.

It is ironic that the ISIS attacks on Assyrians in Syria is occurring in 2015, the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Turkish genocide of Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians, in which 750,000 Assyrians were killed (75%), 500,000 Pontic Greeks and 1.5 million Armenians.

This is not a coincidence. ISIS is pretty savvy and is historically informed. When ISIS pushed into the Nineveh Plain in Iraq last year, forcing 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes, they began their invasion on August 7, which is the official Assyrian Martyrs Day, a day on which each year Assyrians remember their fallen.

How should the civilized world react to this? When a group destroys a nation it destroys the cultural heritage of the civilized world. When the Taliban destroyed the 2,500 year-old Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, the civilized world lost. When ISIS destroyed the walls of Nineveh, the civilized world lost. When ISIS killed Yazidis, the civilized world lost. When ISIS killed Shiites the civilized world lost. When ISIS killed Assyrians the civilized world lost.

And now ISIS is destroying the very foundations of world civilization. It is in Mesopotamia where civilization as we know it began. Destroying Assyrian artifacts is ISIS’s message to the world, that it aims to eradicate the very basis of its civilization because it is not Islamic.

There is no moral ambiguity in what is occurring — ISIS is evil and the source of this evil is Islam.

The civilized world must find the courage to accept the force of its moral superiority and act on it. If it does not, the world will fall into shadow.

There is a dark veil falling on the world and it is Islam as embodied by ISIS. Who has the courage to lift this veil?

Please forward a link to this video to your congressman and anyone you know who wants to see an end to these gross human rights violations of Christian Assyrians in the Middle East. Thank you.

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This video was made from a news article written by Peter BetBasoo of AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency and used with permission. Their web site is: http://www.AINA.org