Friday, January 25, 2008

Repost of a riposte

At Gates of Vienna this morning, an apologist for Islam who hides behind the Internet moniker of "Truth Seeker" posted a comment that included the following passages (errors original):

"I would like to remind you that you would not have had the renaissance if it wasn’t for the Islamic intellectuals whom translated ancient Greek texts into Arabic and Latin. If the crusades didn’t take place then you may have an issue but because of the Vatican thirst for world domination and greed the chickens are coming home to roost. I suggest you look up some text regarding the Vatican in the 15th century and the new worlds – treasure in religion out."

"Before you continue down this path of hatred and ignorance i suggest you look at the issues that unite us which are many instead of the focusing on a small minority of unenlightened and misguided individuals that don’t understand and respect the tenets of Islam."

"I hope for peace and will always look for the better side of an individual without collectively stigmatising or judging religion due to the evil perpetrated by a very small minority of individuals."

This prompted the following response from your correspondent, which it seems apropos to repost here.

“Truth Seeker”:

Your Internet handle is as spurious as the notion that the odious creed of Islam is a “religion of peace.” That notion is refuted by the very tenets of Islam that you take us to task for failing to “understand and respect” – for example, Sura 9, Ayah 29 of the Qur’an:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

In case the latter phrase wasn’t clear enough, the “Islamic intellectual” Ibn Kathir explained it in his tasfir on this ayah: “... disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of the Dhimmah or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced, and humiliated. ... This is why the leader of the faithful Umar b. Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, demanded his well-known conditions be met by the Christians, conditions that ensured their continued humiliation, degradation, and disgrace.”

Such is the grim reality your mendacious professions of “peace” conceal. As Ibn Kathir noted in his tasfir on another ayah (3:28 *), “Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, ‘We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.’ ”

Be advised that I am well aware of the tenets of Islam and the curse in the hearts of its adherents – and that I will never “feel myself subdued” or submit to “humiliation, degradation, and disgrace.”

* Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah. (Emphasis added.)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Questions remain in Fuat Deniz killing

Swedish police made an arrest Thursday in the Dec. 11 murder of Fuat Deniz, an Örebro University professor whose research focused on the genocide carried out by Turkish, Kurdish and Arab Muslims of the Ottoman Empire against that empire’s Assyrian Christian minority during the early years of the last century. The suspect is the 42-year-old first cousin of the slain academic, with whom, according to Swedish police, he had been embroiled in a personal conflict. A police official has repeatedly declared that there was “no political conflict” involved in the crime.

Your correspondent’s suspicions that the opposite is true, based on several indicators set forth here, should ostensibly be allayed. While I am perfectly willing to acknowledge having been misled by said indicators if such should prove to be the case, at this point too many questions remain unanswered for me to do so in good conscience. Among these are:

* What was the nature of the conflict between the two first cousins?

* How is it that Fuat Deniz immigrated in childhood to Sweden from Turkey, while the son of his father’s brother did so 20 years ago from Syria?

* Is Fuat’s cousin an Assyrian Christian as he was, or is he an adherent to some other creed?

* Why are the negotiations that led to the suspect’s arrest being kept from the public?

* Why is the suspect’s attorney under an official gag order?

* Why has the police information manager (nice title, that) repeatedly assured the public that “the political motive is no longer valid” in this case, while offering no basis for this assertion?

* Why, if the suspect “actually wanted to tell the police what he had done, and therefore phoned the police after the knife-cutting,” has it taken more than a month to take him into custody? Didn’t the police consider that there might be a risk of flight?

* Why, if it has been known for a month that “the political motive [was] no longer valid,” have Swedish authorities let Fuat Deniz’s colleagues, several of whom have told of threats related to their work in his field, live in fear for their lives?

* Why has the Assyrian diaspora worldwide been left for a month to dread that Fuat Deniz had been the victim of what a senior Assyrian clergyman called “dark powers that want to hurt our people” – a clear reference to Turkish Islamists of the sort that assassinated newspaper editor Hrant Dink in Istanbul a year ago today?

The conduct of Swedish authorities in this case may be politely be described as rather less than heroic. If they would dispel continuing apprehensions that there is more to the murder of Fuat Deniz than a family feud, let them address the questions raised above.

In the meantime, let us bear in mind the sentiments of General George Patton: Rather than regretting that such a man died, let us rejoice that such a man lived. And let us not only cherish Fuat's memory but advance his important work, and ensure that the true history of the Assyrian genocide is not buried in obscurity, as the "dark powers" of whom Mor Polycarpus Augin spoke at his memorial service in the Netherlands in December so cruelly desire. It is my hope that his books may one day be translated and published in the English-speaking world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cry us a river

More retching about the altered terrain in journalism from erstwhile news icon Dan Rather, quoted in the Boston Herald:

"When it comes to blogging and some things on the Web, there's little or no accountability. This is the new American political coverage media. It's a wilderness, and when you go into the wilderness there's always some danger."

Rather, of course, has it bass-ackwards. What he's really bewailing is the passing of the days when, for media bigwigs like him, there really was "little or no accountability." Once upon a time the purported memo about President Bush's military record that Rather tried to pass off as genuine in a September 2004 CBS 60 Minutes report -- supposedly typed in 1973, but actually printed in a 21st-century Microsoft Word font -- would likely have passed muster and possibly altered the results of the 2004 election. In the new "wilderness," however, bloggers not only exposed the hoax but were able to get the word out -- and it was Rather, not his target, who ended up in disgrace. (Rather is suing his erstwhile employers and it appears that he will get his day in court. Whether he can get the egg off his face remains to be seen.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Cry the beloved profession, redux

If there is anything the doyens of the American mass media more fiercely resent than the encroachment of bloggers and Internet news outlets on what has long been their turf, it is the extent to which their status as gatekeepers of the news has been undermined by the same. And from time to time, they get vocal about it -- as did the putative "dean of the White House press corps," Helen Thomas, Jan. 4 at a National Press Club roundtable discussion. "What I really worry about," the 87-year-old columnist for Hearst Newspapers fretted, "is that I think the bloggers and everyone, everyone with a laptop thinks they're journalists. And they certainly don't have our standards. They don't have our ethics, and so forth."

To appreciate how spurious Thomas's tut-tutting really is, recall that in February of 2006, when the Danish Muhammad caricatures were central to the ongoing story of how embassies were being burned, innocents were being killed, and Muslim demonstrators worldwide were bearing signs with slogans like "Free expression is Western terrorism," "Our religion does not allow unconditional freedom of speech" and "A Muslim's faith is above Western values," the editors of only three major American papers (the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman and the Rocky Mountain News) had the integrity to push back, assert their rights, and print any of the cartoons along with their coverage of the uproar. The rest demurred, spouting weasel words about "taste," "respect" and "responsibility." Had it not been for the bloggers, few Americans would have seen the cartoons and been able to judge for themselves whether the intense Muslim wrath was justified. "The people's right to know," it's called -- and the mainstream American mass media did their damnedest to abrogate it.

And this garrolous gorgon dares prattle about the loftiness of their "standards" and "ethics"? Give me a break.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Regarding the murder of Fuat Deniz

An open letter. (Updated and bumped to the top. Links to come.)

Jonas Hafstrom
Swedish Ambassador to the United States
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Hafstrom:

I am writing to express my great concern over the heinous murder of Professor Fuat Deniz of the University of Örebro on his campus Dec. 11, and the way Swedish authorities have handled the investigation into this crime.

It is extremely unlikely that this was merely a random act of violence. Professor Deniz was a prominent academic authority on the genocidal campaign carried out early in the last century by the Ottoman Empire against its Assyrian minority, which occurred contemporaneously with the better-known massacre of the Armenians. He presented a paper at an international conference in the United States last summer and was to have done likewise at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands mere days after he died of neck wounds inflicted with an edged weapon.

Several factors strongly suggest that Fuat Deniz’s murder was in fact a politically motivated assassination – an act of terrorism intended both to suppress his academic work and to intimidate other researchers in the field. Consider that:

* The goal of Deniz’s scholarship – to bring to light a genocidal atrocity by Ottoman Muslims against rayas (non-Muslim Ottoman subjects) – is strongly resented and fiercely resisted by the current Turkish government, which continues in the face of a mountain of documentary evidence and decades of assiduous scholarship to deny that the campaign to annihilate rayas was either genocidally oriented or centrally directed by Ottoman authorities. That government has repeatedly prosecuted its citizens for pointing out the plain truth under the notorious Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which prohibits “insulting Turkishness.”

* Candor about the dark history of the Ottoman genocides prompted the Jan. 19 assassination of Hrant Dink, editor of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, in front of his office on an Istanbul street. Dink had been prosecuted under Article 301 once and faced yet another such charge at the time of his murder. In his last article, printed the day of his death, he described “Hundreds of threats ... by phone, email and post – increasing all the time ... The memory of my computer is filled with angry, threatening lines ...”

* Dink on several occasions expressed concern that he had been targeted for persecution by Turkey’s “deep state” – according to the Greek English-language newspaper Kathimerini, “a clandestine group within the security and intelligence services” whose existence even Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged. Dink’s fears appeared to have been borne out when his confessed killer, a young man with ties to Islamist militants who was heard to shout “I shot the infidel” as he left the scene, was shown on Turkish television after his arrest, posing with the crescent-and-star national flag as his police captors beamed in approval.

* Efforts to bring to light the truth about the Ottoman genocides are not merely a threat to Turkey’s nationalist and religious sensitivities but to its economic aspirations – specifically, its desire to gain admittance to the European Union. At a European Parliament conference held March 26 in Brussels, panelists declared that before Turkey can be admitted, it must acknowledge the genocides and open its archives from the period before being allowed to do so. Speakers included members of the European Parliament from Sweden and Germany – and Fuat Deniz’s colleague, Professor David Gaunt of Södertörn University College.

* Fuat Deniz’s academic associates are now in fear for their own lives – for , according to Gaunt, this was only the latest incident in a campaign of intimidation carried out against academics in his field. In a story in the Dec. 15 edition of Svenska Dagbladet, Gaunt told of being tailed by security police during travels in Turkey and subjected to a smear campaign in the Turkish press. Moreover, Gaunt told the paper, “On several occasions at our seminars people would attend claiming to be journalists, only to then walk around photographing delegates.”

“All those interested in Christian minorities in Turkey are considered a threat,” Gaunt added.

* An Assyrian activist was threatened last summer by Turkish officials, Länstidningen i Södertälje reported Dec. 18. Simon Barmano, the former head of the Assyrian Federation in Sweden, told the paper that on Aug. 31, four Turkish district governors, objecting during their visit to Sweden to a proposed memorial to the Assyrian genocide victims to be erected in Södertälje, warned him to “stop highlighting the genocide or your people will get hurt.”

* Various scholars, including Vahakn Dadrian of the Zoryan Institute, Andrew Bostom of Brown University, Roderic H. Davison of George Washington University, and Hannibal Travis of Florida International University, have documented the Islamic zealotry that fueled the Ottoman genocides. It is accordingly pertinent that Fuat Deniz’s attacker struck at his neck, a manner of killing specifically mandated by Islam’s prophet Muhammad in at least two verses of the Qur’an:

Sura 8, Verse 12 – Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: Smite ye above their necks ...”

Sura 47, Verse 4 – Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), Smite at their necks ...

* Örebro, where Fuat Deniz was murdered, is home to one of the most militant and internationally connected Muslim communities in Sweden. During last summer’s furor over the “Muhammad as a rondellhund” caricatures drawn by the artist Lars Vilks, all of the complaints to Sweden from the Muslim world – Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference – centered around their publication in the Örebro newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, even though they also appeared in several other Swedish papers, including Aftonbladet, Dagans Nyheter, Sydsvendskan and Barometern. Moreover, in addition to the two Muslim demonstrations held in Örebro against Nerikes Allehanda’s publication of Vilks’s drawings, several hundred copies of the newspaper were burnt on the night of Sept. 4 while awaiting delivery.

Well might Mor Polycarpus Augin, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the Netherlands, warn at a Dec. 23 service commemorating Fuat Deniz that “there are still dark powers that want to hurt our people and make an end to its enlightenment,” who “expected to silence Fuat through putting a knife on his throat.” Mor Polycarpus spoke at the Mor Kuryakos Church in Enschede, the Netherlands.

One would think that solving a case of this sort would be a high priority for Swedish law-enforcement agencies. But when the prize-winning Swedish journalist and documentary filmmaker Nuri Kino looked into the matter, he found that it seemed to have been placed on the back burner. After a trip to Örebro, he reported in the Dec. 21 edition of Aftonbladet that:

* No security or “any other form of support” had been offered by Swedish authorities to Deniz’s bereaved family; a “nervous” widow and a three-year-old daughter.

* Deniz’s campus office had not been sealed off to preserve possible evidence.

* Deniz’s academic colleagues, including those who have received threats, expressed “shock” at the “lack of knowledge regarding ethnic, political and religious clashes” on the part of the police.

* Despite declaring on radio news that a security-camera picture of a blood-spattered man taken in a store the day of Deniz's killing is uesless,” Örebro police have ignored an offer of assistance from a technical specialist in cleaning up such pictures.

* When Kino called Örebro police, he was told that their public information officer was on vacation and the lead prosecutor in the investigation was out sick – without anyone acting in his stead. Moreover, “police in Örebro will be reducing the number of police on duty over the coming holiday period.”

* A spokesperson at the National Criminal Police Corps murder commission, from which assistance in the investigation was sought by Örebro police, told Kino that “Those that work at The National Criminal Police Corps murder commission have taken their Christmas holiday and won't return until the second of January. They have their holidays and they definitely deserve it as they are never home.”

After Kino’s report appeared, Örebro police belatedly offered protection to Fuat Deniz’s frightened family, and lead investigator Per Jan Eriksson acknowledged to SVT television that his department had been remiss in failing to seal off the slain professor’s office. But many Örebro police remained on holiday, as did agents of the Swedish national police – and as they took their leisure, the trail of Fuat Deniz’s murderers grew ever colder.

In all candor, Mr. Hafstrom, this does not speak well of either the competence or the motivation of Swedish law enforcement. At best, it bespeaks a police corps so suffused with bureaucratic torpor that its personnel couldn’t be bothered to interrupt their holiday revelries and relaxation with anything so trifling as the assassination of an internationally known genocide researcher. At worst, it suggests that the investigation into the murder of Professor Fuat Deniz has been neglected due to some squalid raison d’état.

I realize that as a diplomat, this police matter is outside your area of responsibility. All the same, I urge you to convey to the relevant organs of your government my outrage over Fuat Deniz’s assassination – and my concern that said organs have not been doing all they should to see justice done. Kindly advise them also that, as an independent journalist, I intend to do what I can to publicize this case in the United States.

Respectfully yours,
Paul Green

Money doesn't talk – it lectures

At JihadWatch today, Robert Spencer quotes an article by Paul Stenhouse in the Australian magazine Quadrant noting the establishment of a new “Chair of Islamic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue, within a Centre of Inter-Religious Dialogue at the Fitzroy campus of the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne” with a “thoroughgoing commitment to promoting a certain kind of Islam through a Catholic university, and filtering it through all the faculties to ‘future leaders.’ ” For Stenhouse, this brought to mind “a by-now virtually unobtainable book, Moslems in Europe and America by Ali al-Montasser al-Kattani, published in Iraq in 1976 by Dar Idris. It called for the establishment of chairs of Islamic Studies in universities in Europe, America, the West Indies and other countries, and the setting up of committees of Muslims to select other Muslims to occupy these chairs. At the same time it called for an end to any aid, moral or financial, that might already be being given to established chairs of Islamic Studies held by Christians or Jews.”

This prompts Spencer to wonder whether this could be “the smoking gun of MESA Nostra” (JihadWatch commentator Hugh Fitzgerald’s moniker for the Middle East Studies Association) – that is, the blueprint for the steady encroachment on Middle East Studies Departments by Muslims and their academic toadies. A similar idea was also propounded by London University Institute of Education instructor A.L.Tibawi (described in Robert Irwin’s “Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents,” pp. 319-22) in his “Second Critique of English-Speaking Orientalists and Their Approach to Islam and the Arabs” (London: The Islamic Cultural Centre, 1979). In “Appendix IV: Note on Arab Subventions to English universities, Tibawi wrote that:

“Arab financial assistance to Western universities is a very recent development that came in the wake of the accession of hitherto poor countries to considerable wealth as a result of the exploitation of oil resources. It is very difficult to discover when or how the process started or which universities were the first recipients of money from Arab or Muslim countries.”

After bewailing the scholarship of an unnamed professor at subvention recipient Cambridge University (probably William Montgomery Watt – see Irwin, pp. 267-8) who had the temerity to “publish views offensive to Muslim sentiments, namely that the Qur’an is not a divine revelation but Muhammad’s own composition” and discussing grants then being made to institutions in both the U.K. and the U.S., Tibawi proposed that:

“Since Arab financial assistance is likely to continue and may even increase, the situation calls for a simple suggestion to regularise it ... It would be appropriate to channel all financial assistance through a committee in London (and a similar one in Washington) composed of the ambassador of the country concerned, an Arab academic and the director of the Islamic Cultural Centre. This committee should have the power to review existing arrangements with a view toward confirming them, or recommending changes in the terms or termination. All future applications should be submitted through this committee, which, after due consideration, would refer to the government concerned with the appropriate recommendation. In due course the decision in every case should be communicated through the committee. It must be agreed to put an end to all personal patronage and backdoor approaches, especially by persons known to be unfriendly to Arabs and Islam, and to establish the principle of accountability of the recipients.”