Do not even start to tell me this has nothing to do with Islam:
- Angry mobs stabbed and set fire to bystanders Thursday in rioting that erupted after a newspaper suggested Islam’s founding prophet would have approved of the Miss World beauty pageant. At least 50 people were killed and 200 injured.
….Street demonstrations began Wednesday with the burning of an office of ThisDay newspaper in Kaduna after it published an article questioning Muslim groups that have condemned the Miss World pageant, to be held Dec. 7 in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Muslim groups say the pageant promotes sexual promiscuity and indecency.
“What would (the prophet) Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them (the contestants),” Isioma Daniel wrote in Saturday’s article.
The newspaper ran a brief front-page apology on Monday, followed by a more lengthy retraction on Thursday, saying the offending passage had run by mistake.
In Thursday’s rioting, more than 50 people were stabbed, bludgeoned or burned to death and 200 were seriously injured, Ijewere told The Associated Press.
At least four churches were destroyed, he said. [AP]
A religion of peace and tolerance, burning churches, rioting, indescriminate killing of bystanders, mob-rule bloodlust – why again? Because a newspaper ran a column saying Muhammad would have dug the Miss World contestants.
Then out of abject fear after one of their offices was burned – letters to the editor didn’t suffice here, free expression required the torching of the paper – the paper offered this sniveling, obsequious self-flagellating retraction and apology:
- An Apology to All Muslims…
To all our Muslim brothers and sisters, Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahamatul-Llahi Wa Barakatuhu. May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon you all. With all sense of responsibility, sensitivity and respect for all Muslims, the staff, management, editors and Board of THISDAY Newspapers apologise for the great editorial error in last Saturday’s edition on Miss World Beauty Pageant.
We are sorry that the portrayal of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW) in a commentary written by one of our staff was not only unjustified, but utterly provocative.
The supervising editor made an attempt to remove the offensive portion during the editing process. But we must say that this time, technology failed us, and gravely too. When we realised that the publication had gone to the market, we did not wait to be reminded. The Editor promtply issued an apology and retracted the story . This was published on the front pages of Monday and Tuesday editions. But many thought the apology was insufficient…
At THISDAY, we have no reason to denigrate Muslims or the Holy Prophet. Why should we? Key members of our management are devoted Muslims, including our Group Executive Director, Alhaji Deji Mustapha,…
….Islam teaches that no human being is infallible. And that is why we all constantly seek Allah’s Rahama. Says the Holy Book:
“… whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah…” Qr 42 v. 40.
“And verily, whoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah” Q 42 v. 43
Saturday November 16 was our error, for which we feel very sorry. We recognise the gravity of this error, and we have handled it with all the seriousness it deserves, including very strong disciplinary measures for those who failed in their duties.
We therefore seek the understanding of our Muslim brothers and sisters and sincerely hope that in the spirit of the Holy month of Ramadan, and in the interest of our beloved country, Nigeria, we would show forgiveness and understanding. [ThisDay]
Yes, we apologize for forcing you to riot, burn chruches and our office, kill at least 50 people, and in general behave like rampaging savages.
Rather thean the paper apologizing, it seems more appropriate for the paper and every other media voice on earth to demand that every single representative of Islam on every continent demand that the violence stop, condemn it unequivocally, denounce the use of violence as a form of protest. NOW is the time, THIS is the chance for the spokespersons of Islam to make their case, to prove their sincerity, to apologize and condemn the unspeakable behavior of their fellow adherents.
But thus far intellectual dishonesty, squeamishness, equivocation and dissembling not only dominates the Islamic sphere, but infects its apologists and political sympathizers as well – this from The Guardian one year ago:
- The studied moral evasiveness, callous ness and plain nastiness of Said’s article, with its refusal to condemn outright the attacks on America or show any sympathy for the victims or Americans, leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of anyone whose moral sensibilities have not been blunted by political and Islamic correctness. In the face of all evidence, Said still argues that it was US foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere that brought about these attacks.
The unfortunate result is that academics can no longer do their work honestly. A scholar working on recently discovered Koranic manuscripts showed some of his startling conclusions to a distinguished colleague, a world expert on the Koran. The latter did not ask, “What is the evidence, what are your arguments, is it true?” The colleague simply warned him that his thesis was unacceptable because it would upset Muslims.
Very recently, professor Josef van Ess, a scholar whose works are essential to the study of Islamic theology, cut short his research, fearing it would not meet the approval of Sunni Islam. Gunter Luling was hounded out of the profession by German universities because he proposed the radical thesis that at least a third of the Koran was originally a pre-Islamic, Christian hymnody, and thus had nothing to do with Mohammed. One German Arabist says academics are now wearing “a turban spiritually in their mind”, practicing “Islamic scholarship” rather than scholarship on Islam. Where biblical criticism has made important advances since the 16th century, when Spinoza demonstrated that the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses, the Koran is virtually unknown as a human document susceptible to analysis by the instruments and techniques of biblical criticism.
Western scholars need to defend unflinchingly our right to examine Islam, to explain its rise and fall by the normal mechanisms of human history, according to the objective standards of historical methodology.
And to defend the right of newspaper columnists to speculate idly on Muhammad’s taste in women. This hysteria that attends any discussion of the Prophet or any of the basic tenets of Islam speaks of an underlying lack of confidence in the precepts so freziedly defended – it gives an outsider the impression that the whole spiritual structure is a house of cards waiting to be toppled with the adjustment of ANY single element.
Has anything changed in the last year? Not really, except the essentially good-hearted and trusting American people would appear to be losing their patience:
- A surprising new ABCNEWS/Beliefnet poll shows that after starting out surprisingly tolerant, public opinion of Islam has become more negative.
The percentage of Americans having an unfavorable view of Islam has jumped from 24 percent in January 2002 to 33 percent now.
The portion of Americans who say that Islam “doesn’t teach respect for other faiths” rose from 22 percent to 35 percent.
A total of 73 percent of Americans do not feel they have a good basic understanding of its beliefs and tenets, and that, too, has risen, from 61 percent last winter. This suggests that any additional information people have gleaned about Islam has confused more than clarified
….During a dinner in early October sponsored by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Judith Kipper chastised Muslims for not saying and doing more. “There is a need now for Muslims in America to stand up and be accountable,” said Kipper, an ABCNEWS consultant and director of the Middle East program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Keeping your head down isn’t going to work anymore.”
American University professor Akbar Ahmed admitted as much: “For the first time in history, Muslim civilization is on a direct collision course with all the world religions.”
Ahmed said that at this point, he is aggravated that many Muslims won’t acknowledge this. “After Sept. 11, there was this mantra, ‘We are peaceful, we are peaceful.’ After Muslims killed 3,000 people, it makes no sense to me.” [ABC]
Why all of this? Again we must look objectively at the sorrowful history:
- Today’s sorry situation contrasts starkly with the Islam of yesterday. Between the 9th and 13th centuries — the Golden Age of Islam — the only people doing decent work in science, philosophy or medicine were Muslims. Muslims not only preserved ancient learning, they also made substantial innovations. The loss of this tradition has proven tragic for Muslim peoples.
Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because of a strong rationalist and liberal tradition, carried on by a group of Muslim thinkers known as the Mutazilites.
But in the 12th century, Muslim orthodoxy reawakened, spearheaded by the Arab cleric Imam Al-Ghazali. Al-Ghazali championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. He damned mathematics as being against Islam, an intoxicant of the mind that weakened faith.
Caught in the viselike grip of orthodoxy, Islam choked. No longer would Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars gather and work together in the royal courts. It was the end of tolerance, intellect and science in the Muslim world. The last great Muslim thinker, Abd-al Rahman Ibn Khaldun, belonged to the 14th century.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world moved on. The Renaissance brought an explosion of scientific inquiry in the West. This owed much to translations of Greek works carried out by Arabs and other Muslim contributions, but they were to matter little. Mercantile capitalism and technological progress drove Western countries — in ways that were often brutal and at times genocidal — to rapidly colonize the Muslim world from Indonesia to Morocco. It soon became clear, at least to some of the Muslim elites, that they were paying a heavy price for not possessing the analytical tools of modern science and the social and political values of modern culture — the real source of power of their colonizers. [Washington Post]
But what is happening right now, today? IslamOnline.net is held to be the very soul of Islamic moderation, one that wishes to “present a positive view of the faith to non-Muslims”. What do they have to say about the riots?
- Dozens Dead in Nigeria Riots After Paper Slanders Prophet
LAGOS, November 22 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) – Dozens have been killed in northern Nigeria in riots that erupted over a Miss World beauty contest article that slandered Prophet Muhammad (Peace and prayers be upon him), as local leaders tried to calm anger.
The government has appealed for calm and has assured Muslims that those responsible for the ThisDay article would be brought to book, for exceeding the bounds of responsible journalism, BBC News Online reported.
ThisDay has retracted the offending article and has published apologies.
The chairman of the group that owns the Lagos-based paper suggested that a computer glitch could have been to blame for the fact that the story went to press in the first place.
….The protests began after an article appeared in a newspaper suggesting that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would probably have chosen to marry one of the contestants if he had witnessed the beauty pageant, said BBC.
According to AFP, the newspaper suggested that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would have approved of the Miss World beauty contest.
Muslim groups complain that the contest is immoral and degrading to women, and are also angry that preliminary events began during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, said BBC.
And that makes it if not okay, then at least understandable is the clear implication here. No description of the murderous rioters as muderous rioters, just framing of the story in such leading terms as “slander,” leaders trying to “calm anger” (justifed anger is the obvious implication), and the statement that “those responsible for the ThisDay article would be brought to book, for exceeding the bounds of responsible journalism.” What about those responsible for the murder of at least 50 innocent passersby, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or to be of the “wrong” religion. It is as if the “sin” committed by the writer is the equivalent of those who committed mass murder – no I take that back, the sin of the writer would appear to be worse.
Even more telling: read these headlines of “Related Links“:
- Related Links
Nigerian Army Quells Lagos Ethnic Clashes
10,000 Protest Continued Detention of Nigerian Islamic Leader
Police Breakup Demonstration For Islamic Law In Nigeria
Christian Leader Says Fight Against Islamic Law Is “God’s War”
State Assembly In Nigeria Bans Prostitution, Alcohol, Gambling
Nigerian Riots Caused By More Than Shari’a Debate
Mosque Set Ablaze In Nigeria
Christian Anti-Sharia Campaign In Nigeria Claims Over 200 Lives
3 Muslims Killed By Christians in Nigeria
Egyptian Fatwa Bans Beauty Contests
A bit leading and one-sided? Perhaps a bit. And this is the “moderate” voice of Islam.
At least IslamOnline mentions the riots, another site, IslamiCity.com doesn’t even feel the murder of at least 50 innocents by rampaging Muslims is newsworthy. Here are their headlines:
Top Islamists accuse U.S. of leading new crusade
Israeli troops occupy Bethlehem
Nato’s doubters prevent solid support for U.S.
Islamists escalate fight in N. Iraq
Is this global war on terror?
U.S. to set up ‘Big Brother’ citizen database
Oil spreads along Spanish coast
Egyptian Islamist group faces key leadership question
Pakistanis question perks of power
‘The threat of the modern Kharijites’
Outrage over MP’s call to ban Muslim dress
Militant patriotism and America’s jihad
A new Crusade?
Islam is the fastest growing religion in America
Diet during Ramadan
Ramadan Challenges in History
The Spanish oil spill warrents mention, but not the death of, now we are told, at least 100 people.
Finally, let us consider the place of tolerance in Islam, as written by Khaled Abou El Fadl, the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law at UCLA, writing last December in the Boston Review:
- Any text, including those that are Islamic, provides possibilities for meaning, not inevitabilities. And those possibilities are exploited, developed and ultimately determined by the reader’s efforts – good faith efforts, we hope—at making sense of the text’s complexities. Consequently, the meaning of the text is often only as moral as its reader. If the reader is intolerant, hateful, or oppressive, so will be the interpretation of the text.
It would be disingenuous to deny that the Qur’an and other Islamic sources offer possibilities of intolerant interpretation. Clearly these possibilities are exploited by the contemporary puritans and supremacists. But the text does not command such intolerant readings. Historically, Islamic civilization has displayed a remarkable ability to recognize possibilities of tolerance, and to act upon these possibilities. Islamic civilization produced a moral and humanistic tradition that preserved Greek philosophy, and generated much science, art, and socially benevolent thought. Unfortunately, however, the modern puritans are dissipating and wasting this inspiring moral tradition. They are increasingly shutting off the possibilities for a tolerant interpretation of the Islamic tradition.
If we assess the moral trajectory of a civilization in light of its past record, then we have ample reason to be optimistic about the future. But the burden and blessing of sustaining that moral trajectory – of accentuating the Qur’anic message of tolerance and openness to the other – falls squarely on the shoulders of contemporary Muslim interpreters of the tradition.
Exactly, and that just isn’t happening.
Arabia.com doesn’t even mention Nigeria in it’s news section.
Nothing whatsoever in the ArabNews, either.
Nothing from the International Islamic News Agency.
I hate to be redundant, but isn’t this pretty shocking, that a story of this magnitude doesn’t even get a mention in the Arab/Islamic press? What does this tell you about openness, analytical abilities, honesty, perspective? Who are they protecting? Why?
Would the Christian Science Monitor ignore a story if Christian rioting killed over 100 people? The very thought is absurd.
The rampage has moved and continued. The BBC reports:
- Hundreds of Muslim youths have gone on the rampage in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, following Friday prayers.
The BBC’s Haruna Bahago in Abuja says people armed with sticks, daggers and knives set fire to vehicles and attacked anyone they suspected of being Christian.
….Our correspondent in Abuja says that many people suffered either knife wounds or beatings and the rioters were advancing on the city’s central market.
He was himself surrounded by a group of angry Muslim radicals, who suspected he was Christian and had to shout “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) until they let him go.
The riots began at Abuja’s central mosque, a short distance from the hotel where the Miss World contestants are staying amid tight security.
This was inevitable unless the pageant execs are as insane as the rioters:
- Organizers of the Miss World (news – web sites) pageant said Friday they were moving the event from Nigeria to London after more than 100 people died in Muslim protest riots in the West African state.
“Miss World Organization and Silver Bird Productions Limited, organizers of the 2002 Miss World pageant, have decided to move the grand finale to London, England,” the organizers said in a statement.
“This decision was taken after careful consideration of all the issues involved and in the overall interests of Nigeria and the contestants participating in this year’s edition,” it added.
Pageant spokeswoman Stella Din said the London pageant would take place on December 7, the same date as had been originally scheduled for the event in Nigeria. [Reuters]
I am guessing this will be the last time anyone will try to hold a beauty pageant in an Islamic country for a millennium or so.
UPDATE – Monday
- The death toll from sectarian violence over the Miss World pageant in Nigeria rose to at least 215 – more than double previous estimates – a Red Cross official said Sunday.
….About 500 people were injured and 4,500 lost their homes in Kaduna. At least 22 churches and 8 mosques were destroyed in the rampage.
Families ventured out of their homes Sunday morning to go to church and replenish food stocks. [AP]