Last night I interviewed Dr. Paul Williams, an FBI trainer and terrorism analyst. He shared tragic information about numerous Syrian Christians in Iraq being targeted and slaughtered by Iraqi authorities because of Islamic law. Many had been decapitated by Iraqi authorities. Hundreds more have fled the country as refugees. I have heard none of this in the news, not that we would hear any truth from our media about the various real dramas going on in Iraq. Why do that when you can position Iraq coverage only to manipulate votes away from Bush and His supporters. Here this whole time I have been under the impression we were building a fragile, but true democratic government style, not Taliban like Islamic law that wipes out Christians and anyone falling under the high and impossible bar from hell. Why has this never made the news over here? This needs to be addressed as an emergency in Iraq. If they want to be Islamic that is their deal, but are we rescuing and rebuilding their country to have all the non-Islamic residents rounded up and slaughtered? I think not!!!!!!!!Boldface mine. And the reason I did was to say to Dr. Roth one word: GOOGLE!!!
But we have had quite a demonstration of how the Iraqis think and behave. It has been edifying. And the officers and men of the American military, who have served in Iraq, ought to be consulted first about whether or not they think that we "owe Iraqis" something and whether or not they think tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Muslims should be allowed to settle in our country, or for that matter other Infidel lands.The Boston Globe article I linked to states that the US has ''a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year''. If that FOR ANY REASON (including ''Christian compassion'') changes America IS IN DEEP TROUBLE!!!
The response of those officers and men should be instructive.
In Iraq, the press will continue its successful anti-American offensive. By year’s end, a special ops team of New York Times theatre critics will announce that the war in Afghanistan is also lost and call for David Geffen to lead negotiations with the Taliban.Just reading (or hearing) THAT CRAP also now makes my blood boil. So I offer a challenge to the ''Junk Food Conservitives'' that vomit that nonsense out:
Four reasons I don't like president bush:Note: Because it was only 'up' for one week in 2005, I include those posts here. I rang in 2006 online as well.
1. He LOVES Big Government (and outspends the other liberal president from Texas, LBJ)
2. He is so stupid that he doesn't know what the word VETO means.
3. He calls FUTILE ''nation-building'' efforts defending America.
4. He calls those who actually defend America from mexico's colonization of it ''vigilantes'':
Yet we continue to try to teach the pig to sing...This is the warped mentality that began to sour me on that Yahoogroup. And to answer the question above, YES. EXACTLY.
UPDATE:I got a very terse email from ''Thomas Sylvester'' (no, I WON'T post his email addy here, nor will I give it to you. So don't bother asking).
I was QUITE INSULTED BY THIS. I explained WHY I thought the Mission has been completed and I get A SIX WORD dismissal. No explanation, (I provided one) just:
Mission is not done. That simple.
I am sick and tired of the phrase ''Cut and run''. How 'bout ''MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! We're coming home''? We accomplished what we went there to accomplish. Our job is done.
It is now time for the Iraqi people to take charge of their own affairs. Unless you think they need ''more handholding'' by us. We bestowed upon them a Constitution (such as it is) we gave them free elections (and they voted overwhelmingly for an islamic government) and now you argue that ''we are not done''. That forces the question ''OK, so when are we done''?
It is now time to take off the 'training wheels' and let Iraq BE Iraq. We taught them how to fish, now it is time to step back and allow them to fish on their own.
That WAS our purpose in iraq, was it not??? WE WON!!! Mr. President, ''bring 'em home'' and allow us to begin THE VICTORY parades that our loyal troops HAVE EARNED.
Mr. President, it is time to take the yellow ribbons off the trees and allow us to welcome our fellow Americans home with open arms and joy!!!
THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THEIR MISSION!!!
WELCOME THEM HOME...
In a message dated 1/14/2006 11:58:25 P.M. Central Standard Time, newsveiws writes:
That forces the question: If we can't ''teach the pig to sing'' why are we continuing to try?
So I take it that you do not believe that freedom is an innate desire in most humans and that you want to fight terrorism on our shores instead of theirs?
Bush said Saddam received a fair trial - "the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime." He said the trial, which ended with Saddam being sentenced to death, was a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move beyond decades of oppression and create a society governed by the rule of law.We all know the verdict and sentence had been detrimined the moment he was pulled out of his 'spider hole'. The whole point of the 'trial' was to demonstrate how the western justice system works to the arabs (in an attempt to get them to emulate it).
"Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule," Bush said.
I wrote here the other day, after our meeting with a group of representatives from the Dallas Muslim community, my version of how the meeting went. I described the Muslim visitors as evasive and defensive. The group's leader, Mohamed Elmougy, wrote back to accuse me of being dishonest, and said I should be fired from the editorial board.I have seen and heard this over and over again with moslims. People point out ''Your fellow moslims said (and/or did) this'' and ''This is what the koran says, do you agree with it?'' and moslims get evasive.
I made a tape recording of the meeting, which was on the record. I've spent quite some time today transcribing most of the meeting. There was nothing controversial discussed until halfway past the 14 minute mark, when I got my first question. What follows on the jump is a full transcript of the conversation thenceforth, which lasted about 50 minutes. Any errors in the transcription are unintentional. I'm going to try to get the soundfile made linkable, so readers can listen to it. I did not have the names of all the Muslim participants, and have indicated when I don't know the name of the person speaking. Also, owing in part to the placement of the tape recorder, and in part to the accents of some of the visitors, parts of the transcript are garbled.
Read below and judge for yourself if I was unfair. It's important to read this.
[transcript begins at the 14 min 30 second mark]
Rod Dreher: There were some things I brought up to you that many of us in this culture, our culture, find objectionable, violent. Like punishing homosexuals by death, by some form of wife beating. I said to you that I find that violent and objectionable. You responded, as I recall, by saying [to me] that what you find violent, we find a form of social defense, of defense of the family. Would you clarify your remarks, and explain them if I’ve misheard them?
Mohamed Elmougy: If I recall correctly, we were talking about how do you as an American cope with some of the positions in the Koran, and reconcile that with living in this country.
RD: No, I think you had asked me why I find Sheikh [Yusuf] Qaradawi to be violent, and I said I went to his website, and he advocates that someone found guilty of homosexuality, that they could be killed. He advocates within certain limits Muslim husbands beating their wives. And I said to you I find that to be violent. And you said that actually, in the Muslim tradition, in the Koranic tradition, this is a form of Muslim society defending itself, and defending the family.
ME: OK, OK. We were talking about the family, and I can kind of repeat what we were talking about for a little bit of education. We were talking about where does Islam stand, and what is the purpose of some of these edicts and some of these traditions that someone like you would find, you know, to be violent. And I think I also talked about how in the Bible, you will find some of these things, the punishment for sodomy, you have stories in the same way, you can find the same thing in the Bible. It’s no different in the Koran. The way we view it, we don’t look at it as violent. We look at it as a deterrent. Example: if you have children – and I think I used that example – if you have a child, and you go put chocolate in front of him, and you know, he knows he’s going to touch that chocolate, and you tell him if you don’t do that, you know, we’re going to reward you, I’m going to take you to soccer practice, or something that he really likes. Or if you do that, we’re not going to go to soccer practice.
It’s not like you enjoy punishing the child. It is that you try to really come up with a deterrent so they don’t do something that, in your case, something you find disruptive to the family.
And I think homosexuality in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and probably in many other religions, is something that many people and the religion itself has issues with. Nothing you or I can do to change that. We don’t view it as violence. We view it as a deterrence.
So when we tell somebody that if you go steal, we’re going to give you three chances. First we’re going to give you a job so you can go earn a living, and I think that’s what happens in Saudi Arabia, because they apply the sharia law probably different from everybody else. And the second time, we’re going to make sure you have enough money, and the third time you’re just doing it for the sake of doing it, not out of necessity, or hunger, or to feed your children, then obviously you will have your hand cut off. To you that may be violent, but we view it as a deterrent.
RD: Do you believe that homosexuals convicted in a sharia court should be killed, or otherwise punished physically?
ME: I don’t condone homosexuality. I have a lot of friends, a lot of people who work for me, just so you know. I don’t go kill them. But, you know, I don’t condone what they do outside of work, so long as it’s something not in front of me. So do I condone the sharia? We don’t apologize for our religion. If that is what our religion says, we certainly accept it open-heartedly.
RD: I understand that [Christianity calls homosexuality a sin]. What concerns me though is what do you believe in *this* society the punishment for those sorts of transgressions should be. Because a lot of us, certainly I speak for myself, you read about the very harsh punishments for violating the moral law – adultery for example – in the sharia, and I wonder what Muslims here really think should happen.
[Unidentified imam]: Who is going to punish anyway, even if the crime is committed?
[unidentified Muslim]: You don’t have any authority as Muslims living in north Texas or any state … You have to go through the process of a court hearing, a judge, and the Islamic state ruling in the case.
RD: I guess what I’m wondering though is what you think the role of sharia *should be* in a pluralistic secular society like ours, under ideal circumstances.
[Imam]: As an imam, my whole foundation of dealing with this subject is my concern that somebody within the community is a homosexual. He still have the right to come to the mosque to pray with me, behind me, as the imam, as a member of the community.
But I have to make maybe special effort to educate him about it, to educate myself about it, how to deal with it. That is through the education system. Other than that, I have no authority over anything.
RD: But what do you think *should* be the authority. That’s what I’m asking. In an ideal situation, would you like to see sharia law be the basis for law in this country, and how would you reconcile that –
DMN correspondent Tod Robberson: Or put it another way. In this country, the law of man takes precedence over the law of God. In your opinion, is that the way it should be?
[garbled answer by heavily accented man, saying something to effect that the law is flexible from country to country, but there are some things that we don’t have the authority to change.]
[Ghassan – did not get his last name]: President George Bush feels that he is inspired by God, and based on that he makes his policies. He made that known to us. [crosstalk] President Bush told us that law made by man is not good enough law, that we should be following God’s law.
DMN editorial columnist Bill McKenzie: I have to admit that I’ve followed Bush very closely, and I’ve never heard him say that. Can you tell me where he said that? Of course he talks about his faith, he talks about praying, but I have never heard him –
[Ghassan]: But when he talks about these things as president of the United States, isn’t he implying that, that, that is … so we have a different opinion.
BM: But you’re saying he has come out and said, in effect, that God’s law trumps man’s law and we should follow God’s law. I just have never heard him ever come close to saying that.
[Ghassan]: OK so now we’re talking about literal things, and I understand what you’re saying. So I will go back to Rod and say … Rod has concluded that Islamic law promotes violence, and he cited certain examples, specifically adultery. My question to Rod is, what does he know about the law itself? How did he reach this conclusion? What is the historical evidence that he has gathered? What are the specifics about the law and how it’s implemented?
RD: On adultery?
RD: Mohamed [Elmougy] told me. Mohamed [Elmougy] brought up something from the hadith, there was a story about a woman, an adulteress who came to the prophet, and he ordered her stoned for her sins.
ME: She wanted to be stoned. He kept sending her back.
RD: But she was stoned, and if I’m remembering correctly, [the Prophet] saw her in paradise. Is that correct?
ME: No, I think you must have read that – I mean, I [garbled] the story, but I think you do a lot of reading on the Internet, and that’s part of the problem. What you’re asking specifically, I think, is such a paranoid view of Islam that you almost give the impression that we’re so bloodthirsty people. And that is my issue with really your writings and your angle on things. That I could do the same thing to Catholicism. And I told you at the beginning that if you’re Catholic, you need to prove to me that you’re not a pedophile, before you’re not. Because certainly it’s not for lack of examples that I have within the church of pedophile priests – and you know we have a congressman who was doing that and he blamed it on his minister or priest – that’s such a narrow approach. That does nothing but create suspicion. That does nothing but alienate our children, who were born and raised here. You could take that angle but you’d be paranoid. You’d be sitting here with me and –
DMN editorial page editor Keven Ann Willey: Let me interject here a minute. You asked us to ask questions, and we’re trying to clarify what I think is a very legitimate difference of interpretation of religion. And I think this is a legitimate question, and Tod framed it in a slightly different way, which kind of helped with that. I don’t know, calling it “paranoid” doesn’t facilitate a full exchange of information here, so I think perhaps going forward, let’s watch our characterization.
RD: Just describe to me your view, the Islamic view, of sharia. What role should sharia play in this society?
ME: [garbled] I don’t sit up all night thinking what the role of sharia needs to be. All I can tell you is that we as American Muslims, living in a non-Muslim country, are ordered to follow the rules of the country that we live in, no matter how much we agree or disagree with. So do I go after you if you’re homosexual, to try to kill you today? No. We haven’t seen that.
So I think to go focus on that and to leave all the other good things that American Muslims are part of, and that the religion is talking about, and only focus on things that to you sound or feel strange is just not the correct approach. Forget paranoid, it’s just not the correct approach. And it does nothing, as I said, but alienate our children from the society that they’re going to be living in, and die in.
My goal at this meeting, and the many other meetings I’ve been involved in, is that we have to kind of snap out of that mood, we as journalists, that we need to really look at us as part of the community. Taxpayers, you know very contributing people of the community, and find out how could we live in harmony. How do we create more understanding and take the myth out of this plan, and Muslims, after September 11, and begin to really look for ways to coexist in this country, as opposed to pointing the finger, and to take one thing from here and there, and to focus on it – as if that’s all we do 24 hours a day. That’s really my issue with some of [Rod’s] writings.
We can sit here today and say OK, what does Catholicism say about homosexuality. What does it say? It is the same thing. It is no different! Now do we go ask the Pope, you know, well listen Pope, what do you feel, do you feel we should go kill them? It’s in that Bible that – no. It’s kind of a very narrow approach. My goal today is to create some kind of comfort level.
We’re not here to defend Islam. Islam doesn’t need our defense. It’s there. Anybody can read it. Anybody can form their opinion. The majority of people, I think, know that we’re peace-loving people, and the folks who committed September 11 are a minority. We’ve said that, we’ve condemned them 50 million times. And we need to move on past that.
One of the issues, since we’re going to ask questions I think it should be a two-way street, that we have with some of the editorials that come out, is that air of suspicion about Islam and Muslims. We need to figure out a way for you, so we can help you get rid of that. But it’s not going to happen by accusing us or trying to corner us on one aspect of punishment in the sharia law and say, “Well folks, why don’t we focus on what the sharia law says about orphans?”
RD: Because it’s an important thing to a lot of Americans, Mohamed, because I think most people want to believe, want to think well of their Muslim neighbors, of Muslim-Americans. But when we see things like this happening overseas, or you see an imam or something in this country who is found to be preaching what strikes a lot of Americans as extremism against homosexuals, or whatever, it concerns people, who want to know where does Islam stand on this. I don’t think it’s a matter of wanting to find something to pick out about Muslim Americans to say “A-ha!” But it’s wondering who is living among us, what do they believe, and how does what they believe fit in with American culture? People think the same thing about the fundamentalist Mormons who are now on trial, their views on polygamy. It is against – it is outside the American mainstream, and people are right to wonder.
[Ghassan]: I believe, and I’ll give you an example from history. As Muslims, we, our ideal examples come either from the Koran or from the traditions of the prophet. These are the two main sources for how we try to model our lives. Our prophet taught us, during the time when the Muslims were oppressed in Mecca, they ordered his followers to migrate to Abyssinia. Abyssinia was ruled by a Christian king. He told them that I know there’s a just king there who will protect you.
So when those Muslims went there, they announced themselves as Muslims, they pleaded their case before the king, they had a debate with a Quraishite who tried to bring them back to Mecca so they could be persecuted further. But the king allowed them to stay, and history tells us those Muslim citizens lived in Abyssinia following the law of the land. That is an important rule for us, and you’ll find if you go after what the [garbled] and jurists, the scholars, they always cite this example, and it’s a very important example.
And for us, to go back and give you an answer, how do I view the sharia applying in the US? It applies perfectly for me. I am supposed to follow the law of the land. That’s No. 1. And everything else fits with the values of the land. Don’t steal. Be kind to the neighbors. All the Ten Commandments that we know, these are things that apply to our lives. There is no difference.
And so that’s exactly how I view the sharia applies to me, and this is how I teach it to my children. And I think we need to demystify that. Now, if an imam today – and certainly I’m not an imam – an imam today, I know this much, that an imam, he cannot, religiously, he cannot apply certain rules that does not fit the law of the land, because this is a non-Muslim country. So certain Islamic rules do not apply here, but it should apply to you as an individual now, but the imam cannot prevent a person who adopted the homosexual lifestyle from coming to the masjid. No, I can’t.
I might disagree with his lifestyle. But guess what? My religion tells me I am obligated to advise that brother or sister that this is not a right lifestyle. If I’m a religious man, I believe in God and I believe that following God’s way is going to take me to a better place, then I need to wish that for everybody else. I should not be faulted for believing that. I should not be faulted for – if I like you as an individual, right, you’re going to blame me one day, ‘Ghassan, if you knew what you had was good, why did you not share it with me?’ You cannot blame me for sharing what I believe is best for all of us with you. I believe that’s a good thing. I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
But unfortunately what we do, is we focus on the soundbites. ‘The Muslims cut off the hand.’ Well, my question to you back is tell me what you understand about that particular law. ‘Oh, the Muslims stoned adulterers.’ I’m gonna ask you specifically, tell me what you know about that? Because I have a whole story about that. But what you grabbed is a soundbite. But there’s about maybe 50 pages you need to read to know that during the Prophet, all those punishments people volunteered and came forward and said, ‘Prophet, punish me, I committed this sin.’ [garbled] We know that two individuals, two individuals have to see the actual intercourse taking place. When does that happen? Four, actually four. You see what I’m saying?
We’re not violent people, want to kill everybody, but what we’re saying is listen, if you do these bad things, you really disturb the order of society, and there is going to be a price for it. But it doesn’t mean we go ahead and apply that price every day. I really believe that in your mind you should move away from ‘Islam is violent.’ I don’t want to tell you what to think, but I’m conveying to you what we perceive you’re thinking. Right. If [garbled] says what does Islam offer, right, you can’t just take soundbites. You can investigate, but go nowhere if you focus on soundbites. OK, what is this punishment. Let me read some more about it, let me read some more about it – I guarantee you that your view would change.
RD: Ghassan, that’s the point, though. You say, and I believe [you], that we Muslims believe this is the punishment set down in the Koran, and in Islamic law, whatever, for this violation of the social order – but we don’t apply it in this society. I think what concerns people, or what concerns me, is, OK, do you think it *should* be applied, necessarily, and if you had the power to apply it, would you support the law being changed to bring the principles of Islamic law into US civil law. That’s the thing that concerns me.
ME: Let me take it further. Do you really think we’re here to change America into a sharia…
RD: I’m asking. I honestly don’t know, Mohamed.
ME: Well I hope you don’t think so, because that would be a pretty optimistic, you know, project, you know, that’s – we’re been trying to survive or fend off accusations, for the past six years, about how a ‘fifth column’ we are, not to be trusted, and how everything’s against American principles and so on and so forth. Certainly the last thing in our mind is to go and apply the sharia law and make America a Muslim country. Do people want that? As I told you in the meeting, I would love for you to be a Muslim. I would love for – just like you would love for me to be a Catholic. But that doesn’t mean that all we do here 24 hours a day is the hidden agenda approach that we’re trying to come up with.
I agree that you need to move past that, because once you move past that, I think you’ll have a lot more open mind, to listen to us and really begin to search in depth really what something is so we can move on to other questions. Because you and I can sit – we invited you to the mosque. You’re more than welcome to come. But don’t come with an accusatory tone. Come with an inquisitive tone. There’s a very big difference between the two. When I sit there and you’re like pointing the finger at me, that is not a dialogue. That is a trial. When you sit there and say, you know, here is what I believe in as an American Muslim, what do you think of that, I will be a lot more receptive, and you will probably gain a lot more by approaching us that way. And that’s all we ask.
Know that you’ll have concerns and continue to have concerns, you have our business cards and we invite you to come sit with us more, alright? We left the door open for you from a year ago. All we ask is in the writings, just understand that these – I’m not going to use the word paranoid, but these alarming writings, you send these alarms through the American public about us, about our place of worship, about our imams, and about our children even – is not very productive.
Because all you have to do is look at Europe, and what they’ve done to their Muslim population there, and what the end result is. Now they’re doing 10 times the effort to try to embrace them. And that’s the mistake that my biggest fear is happening right now, that we’re alienating Muslims. We’re not going anywhere. The more difficult everybody makes our lives, the more determined we are to stay here. The more determined my son, my daughter is [garbled].
I think we have to contend with the fact that we are part of the American family. We can make it a more productive dialogue and part of the fabric, or we try and reject it – but that’s not gonna happen. So, saying that, you and I can sit here and talk till tomorrow like we did last time, but to be fair to everybody else, we need to move on. You have my card. I’ll buy you lunch again [N.B., the News bought lunch the last and only time we met. – RD], and we can talk all you want, but I ask that you do it in an inquisitory manner, not an accusatory manner, and that’s a big difference to us.
[Imam spoke in heavily accented voice, hard to understand. He seemed to be making the point that the newspaper never says anything good about Muslim in Dallas, that we ignore them. Bill McKenzie said that’s not true, and cited work he’d done in his column specifically to include Muslim opinion.]
ME: I think what the imam is trying to articulate is that are there not enough examples, positive examples, that we can research, or focus on, and all of us go look at the hypothetical “what if” – do you really believe in that? – and forget about the reality, which is what all of us contribute to society. And that’s really all we’re trying to say. Dallas Morning News did really do that. There have been a lot of positive things that came – and a lot of good positive things that came – out of the dialogue and the discussion that we’ve had. Absolutely, and nobody can deny that. But I think the editorial board – because we look at the editorial board as the opinion of the Dallas Morning News. Are we correct in assuming that?
ME: When we see something that the editorial board, that is inaccurate, is a concern for us, because that means there’s not a lot of research going on. When we see lines injected in an editorial about the Dallas Central Mosque, and its imam, and that they teach certain things there when actually the editorial had nothing to do with that, that somehow made that line, to put it there to aid that air of suspicion – we get concerned because that means the newspaper – not Rod, we know Rod – the newspaper is taking that direction. That’s where we get concerned.
Rod can write on the blogs all he wants, write a viewpoint all he wants. That’s his right. This is America, you’re entitled to your opinion. I may or may not read it, I may or may not agree with it, but as an editorial board, I’m here today looking at you to say do you vote on these things, do you read these things, when you see a line like that in an article that has nothing to do with the Central Mosque is teaching about this book that’s by this guy, you know, I’m like what does this have to do with – the imam of the Central Mosque is the most involved with, you know, multi-religions, you know, why, is it accurate No. 1, and No. 2 it gives this air of suspicion about it, and it’s not right.
RD: But is it true? Is it true?
[Dallas CAIR spokeswoman] Saffia Meek: And that’s an issue we want to bring up! If you have a question, you know who we are.
RD: We tried to call the imam and get him on the phone twice. I had one of our editorial board members try to get him on the phone twice. He wouldn’t answer my email, and he wouldn’t answer a phone call.
ME: Do you blame him?
RD: But you can’t come in here and accuse us of –
KW: Excuse me, but I really would like to keep this a conversation. You’ve asked a series of questions about how the editorial board works, and I’m happy to try to answer them. In this particular case, let me just insert that you said can you blame him for not returning the call. Well, can you blame us for not getting a quote when we tried?
[Unidentified Muslim:] I have an answer for that.
KW: And then I would welcome the opportunity to answer your earlier question.
[Unidentified Muslim]: First of all, the blog [garbled] is not a personal blog. It’s from the Dallas Morning News. So in a way, it represents the [garbled] opinion. It’s not personal. It’s not Rod Dreher [garbled]. It’s under the sanction of the Dallas Morning News. So to me, I take still some of the comments that have been offensive to me are not personal. If Rod Dreher [garbled] free country, no problem. So I’ve said this point before. [garbled] If the Dallas Morning News do that, I take offense [garbled].
No. 2, as far as the imam, the imam discusses some of the stuff before he responds, and over the years he’s grown skeptical. He has not been able to gain the trust, so I don’t blame him for not responding. But he did a little more research on this issue. Come to find out he was being asked to comment on somebody’s [garbled] to Turkey. Hey, sounds pretty good, you’re Turkish. But he researched to find out that there was already something going to be written about Turkey, which was going to get diluted what he said about it. So it’s not a stand-alone viewpoint.
[Note: here the visitors are confusing several specific issues involving Dr. Yusuf Zia Kavakci, imam of the Dallas Central Mosque. – RD]
[Viewpoints editor] Sharon Grigsby: Excuse me, I really need to respond to that, because Saffia and I, we dealt on this, and I was actually going to bring it up. Couple of real quick points, because we’re going to run out of time. First of all, I understand how you feel about the blog. I disagree with almost everybody on our board on the blog at one time or another. It gets rough. I’m a traditionalist. The blog’s not always been my favorite thing to do. But I appreciate that. There are people on the board who, you know how you might feel about things Rod might post, I post some things that are so liberal, peacenik, whatever.
[Unidentified]: I’m not commenting on the blog, I’m just saying that it’s the Dallas Morning News, it’s not independent –
SG: I know, but we’re talking about the same blog. In other words, you’re talking about the Dallas Morning News blog. I’m on it, Rod’s on it, Bill’s on it, and we all say things. I have, for instance, have a lot of people in the Jewish community here who have wanted to rake me over the coals over some things – they think I’m very pro-Palestine. I understand what you’re saying. We all take the heat from different people. I take a lot of heat, frankly, and have my meetings with the Jewish community, just like y’all have yours. On the Turkey point in particular, the Pope was going to Turkey, and we thought it would be so cool, because the imam is Turkish, and moreso I wanted to get his daughter on the Viewpoints [page]. So Rod was going to write a piece, so I went to my best source, the person who – Saffia’s given me her home e-mail address, so I knew she’d answer me. So I send her an e-mail, I told her right up front that Rod was going to write a piece, here’s what he was going – I beseeched her. I e-mailed the imam myself.
RD: I suggested you contact the imam to write it.
SG: I never got an answer. Saffia was great. And I understand, he didn’t want to participate in anything Rod was doing. But to say we were going to take his piece and water it down? All I can say was it was a profound disappointment on my point that I couldn’t get a voice to participate. So I just want to be real clear.
ME: OK, let me talk about watering down. Do you recall one time there was an article by Nabil Sadoun, and in it we talked about Rod, and some of his past statements about nuking Mecca. And he was given a choice: either take this out of that Viewpoints [column], or it wasn’t going to be published. Was that watering down?
KW: And I can address that. And we’ve had this conversation several times, Mohamed. The reason it was taken out was because the way it described the comment was inaccurate. And we don’t print – knowingly – inaccuracies. And I guess we could continue that conversation, but if the point of today’s meeting is to ask questions –
SG: And I want to go back to the moving on part. You think the imam thought his Turkey piece would be –
[Unidentified]: The punch line was it would not be a stand-alone comment that the imam would be making that would be independent, but it would be in context of something that Rod—
SG: It would be on the same page.
[Unidentified:] And we didn’t want to get into that –
SG: I just want to be real clear. We were asking for the imam, or even better his daughter, to talk about this, and I think if you go back and read Rod’s piece, it was almost exclusively about the Orthodox issue, very little about that. So just to go back to them [garbled] answering your original question, I know that one line you’re talking about, Saffia and I talked about it. How many months or years ago was that editorial?
ME: It was probably about a year and a half ago.
SG: My question is, what have we done since then? Has there been anything since that year and a half ago, that we all have our opinions on, anything in the last year and a half in an editorial that you’ve felt that way about. Because that’s what I’d like to hear about.
ME: That we’ve felt the same way?
SG: That you’ve felt that we were either being inaccurate or misrepresenting the community.
ME: There’s one that I think this is what triggered this meeting, was the issue of Sayyid Qutb. There is this writer. This obscure Egyptian writer who in the Sixties wrote a book, and Rod is obsessed with it. [garbled] And I read the book, I got it from Amazon.com, it’s his view on how to unite the Muslim community and clean it out of the immorality that he observed in the West, because he visited the West and came back ‘Oh my God, how can people,’ I mean, he was fascinated by the ingenious of the West. And I read the book, just because of the discussion, I had promised him to read it.
It didn’t bother me in the least. It’s his viewpoint. And it doesn’t say anything about go kill people. And the impression that was given in this editorial [N.B., It was not an editorial but a bylined opinion column written by me – RD] – that today is, you know, a lot of people subscribe to these views, and then at the end there’s a line, ‘and in the Dallas Central Mosque there was a conference that had this book as part of its reading’ – is almost like saying at the hotel there is a homosexual staying in room 102, and they condone that.
RD: I have to tell you, though, that I’ve read the book, “Milestones,” and Sayyid Qutb is not an obscure person, he’s very influential in certain strain of Islam, and this goes back to what we were talking about earlier. Why is it not a matter of concern when a man who preaches violent revolution to purify Islam and the world, that’s being taught to teenagers as part of this quiz at the Dallas Central Mosque – why is that not of concern to the wider community?
ME: It was not taught. It was part of the recommended reading. When I went to St. John’s College for liberal arts. And I read a lot of books. Marxism and all that. Does that mean they were asking me to become a Marxist? Come on, Rod. Wouldn’t you say children, here are a bunch of books you can read from, maybe we can have a dialogue about what this guy thinks and all that. Does that make them a Sayyid Qutb follower.
ME: [Qutb] was someone who had a view, or a vision, about what we needed to do to kind of clean up, or gather, you know, Muslims under a cleaner environment, where they can live together. [garbled]
RD: But he says you should overthrow governments, and that’s a real concern. He’s very clear about that, Mohamed.
Ghassan: For the sake of the group, Sayyid Qutb is a writer from Egypt, from the Sixties, he was from Egypt. He was basically imprisoned and killed by the late president Gamal Nasser of Egypt. So he’s no longer alive. You have to know that there are many groups who have either disowned his writings and views, and you also know that the group he was a part of have, for the last 15 years, been distancing themselves from his writings. [N.B., the Muslim American Society, which co-sponsored the Islamic youth quiz, is the American version of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose chief ideologist Qutb was. – RD.]
You have to also, Rod, present that view as well. I read, after Mohamed invited me for this meeting, I read that book, and I read through the chapter of jihad in that book, specifically. I read it, and I mean, he has, for most of the chapters, a good explanation, and very decent one, to the point where I thought I can quote some of this translation. It’s good. There’s some good stuff in that chapter. But some of it is his own personal view, and you’ve got to present it like that.
Now like Mohamed says, what is the point of that? The mosque, as an administration, serves a large community. People come and apply, ‘Can I have this activity in this community.’ People come and go, no big deal. I’ll give you an example. When Dallas Morning News, maybe Rod it was you or an assistant, called the school. I’m the president of ISF [Islamic Services Foundation, an educational organization that oversees at school in Dallas] [garbled]. The question came “Do you teach ‘Milestones’?” [Garbled] The principal called and said ‘Ghassan, what do I tell them?’ and I said ‘Do you teach Milestones?’ he said “No,” so I said, “Just tell them no!”
SG: And they wouldn’t tell me anything.
G: No, no, no, I have the e-mail. [Garbled] And this conversation took place within 24 hours, so we were very responsive to you. The point is, you had a question, we answered it, and I still think, “What is the point? Are you going to ask me about every author that I read in my life?” You’re going to ask me what I have in my library, and I read a lot about stuff? To me, I’m thinking these things, right. I don’t see the point of that.
Sayyid Qutb has been in the conversation of Middle East governments for years and years and years. I’m originally from Damascus, Syria, and I know that they had traps in bookstores in the streets of Damascus. If you bought Sayyid Qutb books, you get arrested on the spot. That’s a fact, not fiction. But so what? Because the government at that time was against him.
But like I said, he’s an author that had good ideas. Some of his writing in Arabic is very artistic. He had his own ideas. A lot of groups and a lot of organizations have kind of thought he’s out there. I don’t see the point of making an issue of it now. Because today, you go to any of the Middle East government, and you hear this also from Tel Aviv and Israel, you know, ‘All these Muslims are following Sayyid Qutb,’ and I say man, there have been two or three generations of Muslims, Arabs, you say who Sayyid Qutb is and they have no clue. And so they have no clue. I know, because you made me aware of it. [laughs] You made me go look it up. You made me aware of it. There are some things that are better left unsaid. [Garbled.] Move on.
RD: When it is part of a program, a quiz program, for Muslim teenagers at the biggest mosque in Texas, it is a matter of concern.
G: Let me ask you a question, Rod. What other material was recommended reading in that program?
RD: I have it in my desk. I don’t know. That was the one that jumped out at me, because I knew who Sayyid Qutb was.
G: Well, okay, look at the others. Maybe the others are excellent.
RD: Could be. Could be. But –
ME: You go to UNT [University of North Texas], and they’re reading Marx. Does that mean that they’re trying to teach them to become a communist?
RD: I wanted to find –
ME: Shouldn’t that concern you?
RD: Depends on the context.
ME: Now wait wait wait a minute. Marx? Talk about communism. We’re in capitalism, they were our biggest enemies, shouldn’t that – this is my point. You are so obsessed with us as [garbled]. If you keep looking at us that way, that is your privilege, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve given you the opportunity, two hours, your lunch, [garbled] was sitting there, Keven was sitting there, to answer any questions very candidly. If you walked out of there feeling that these guys are bad, that is your privilege. You’re entitled to that opinion. My concern is not you. There’s always going to be you somewhere. My concern is as an editorial board, should somebody with that view kind of dominate that, and inject sentences here and there that really create suspicion and you know make concern about our places of worship and our children’s schools. Question.
TR: The question, and I’ll give some context to it, is at what point does it become a legitimate concern. In the United Kingdom, I went up to Leeds, and I looked at the bookshop where three of the bombers, the subway bombers, had eaten their lunches, eaten their dinners, spent all their free time there. And Sayyid Qutb, he was one of the authors represented in that bookshop. There were a number of other very strong examples at that bookstore. At what point do these things become a concern, because in the Muslim community in London, in the United Kingdom, this is a huge concern, about what the youth of that country, the Muslim youth of that country, are being taught.
ME: I think if you approach it from the angle that it’s a threat, that you have to really try to understand why would the youth go seek that book, read it, and then go – I didn’t get that impression from the book that I needed to go out and bomb the subway tomorrow. Somehow I did not get that impression out of the book. You know, so, I don’t know. Is what we’re doing creating suspicion about them really not helping these youths –
TR: No, no, but my question is at what point does it become a legitimate concern for us to begin examining it?
ME: In this country, one of the things I was taught was freedom of expression. There are many books taught in public schools. I’ll give you an example in Coppell, where I live. They have a book called “The Terrorist,” that was taught to fifth graders. And they talked about you know, in London, how there was this kid who was a terrorist and all and they went in front of the school board and they said it was freedom of expression and we cannot take the book out. Amen. OK, fine. “Mein Kampf” – Bob Mong [DMN editor-in-chief] was telling me I’ve got it at home. Does that make him a Nazi? OK. The fact that a book is available –
TR: Was I justified as a reporter to go up and look at that bookstore, knowing that those young men had spent a huge amount of their time –
ME: As a journalist [garbled] your conclusion is where I would differ from you. You can get the US Constitution and create a violent something out of it. You know, freedom and all that. Somebody feels that they are oppressed, they can go fight or kill for their freedom. You can get any book and get anything you want out of it. The point is, that becomes the focus, and it becomes kind of the obsession of an editorial – and that becomes a concern for us, but when you ask it –
TR: We’re not talking about rights. We all know what our rights are here. I guess I’m looking for the point at which you say, “Yeah, that’s legitimate to look at that and be skeptical about that” – where you would not raise concerns over the way we cover this stuff.
[unknown]: [garbled] If you want to know what we’re teaching the kids, why don’t you come ask our curriculum, sit in the classroom, [garbled] be one of them.
TR: I tried that in –
TR: I’m just saying, there are certain steps to this process [of radicalizing Muslim youth], it’s not something that’s there right now. It’s a slow progression. In the United Kingdom, it’s much more obvious than it is here. I’m not even saying that it’s happening here. And if it were, it’s 50 years away.
G: [garbled] ISF is an organization that way back, we recognized this point, especially after September 11. We don’t want any more – traditionally Islamic schools brought in material from overseas, but we said this is no longer going to be the case. We cannot control, as executives of the organization, what comes from these groups – although we believe they’re good, right. To not leave room for the chance of anything, we’re developing a home-grown Islamic studies curriculum. I invite you to get a copy of that. That will tell you what we’re teaching our children. That’s public information. We’re up to grade six. By summer we’ll have seven and eight. That tells you what kind of indoctrination, if you want to call it that, because that’s what we’ve been accused of, you know, this is what you’re implanting in the minds of the kids.
Just get those books. Give us a review of those books. Tell us what you think about it. This is public information. We’re putting it out there. Because we believe that Islamic studies, going back to your original question, that it needs to be taught in America. It needs to be authored in America, it needs to be taught in America. Not bring an author who authored it somewhere else. Because the whole material is out of context. Everything in Islam has a tiem and a place. Jurists, when they make rules [garbled] this is basic. Anybody who doubts that doesn’t know anything about jurisprudence. Time and place dictates the law.
KW: Forgive me –
KW: -- but on that note, “time and place,” we are overdue.
[End of meeting]
Posted 4:13 PM | Rod Dreher
The first step would be to make it clear that the United States will tolerate no action by any state that endangers the international flow of commerce in the Straits of Hormuz. Signaling our determination to back up this statement with force would be a deployment in the Gulf of Oman of minesweepers, a carrier strike group’s guided-missile destroyers, an Aegis-class cruiser, and anti-submarine assets, with the rest of the carrier group remaining in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. Navy could also deploy UAV’s (unmanned air vehicles) and submarines to keep watch above and below against any Iranian missile threat to our flotilla.Now Arthur Herman describes it as ''strangling'' iran ONLY. I see it as quite possible to ''strangle'' the saudis at the same time. What tends to hamstring our efforts in the ME is the fact that Asia is starved for oil. What we should be doing is making sure as copious a supply to them as possible is ensured by The US Air Force And Navy.
The terror leader accused the U.S. of instigating a Palestinian civil war.As I cry crocodile tears for each and every one of those 16 moslim deaths I'm going ''YESSSSS! Keep up the good work moslims!''. The ''palistinians'' are nothing more than psychopathic killers. It's Hannibal Lector vs. Jeffery Dahmer! It's Freddy vs. Jason!
Hamas-Fatah clashes in Gaza have killed at least 16 Palestinians the past five days.
My comment about the cultural Muslims was made in cynicism...if you go to my blog www.jihadophobic.blogspot.com and read my very first post (Why the Radical Islamic Threat, Threatens Moderate Muslims and Us All) and the subsequent ones you'll see where I stand - I am not "clueless"...and it would have been cordial that since I had sent you a PRIVATE message, you clarified my position prior to assuming what it was and posting that erroneous impression...especially since it was made in a chat room that is often full of cynicism and humor.I humbly extend my apologies to her. I did indeed take what she said out of context. I read and reacted to it.