Such nonsense

Ali Eteraz provides a great rebuttal to Edward Luttwak’s absolutely moronic op-ed in the NYT .* Why are there practically no Muslims who are worried about Senator Obama’s alleged apostasy? Because he isn’t an apostate, because he was never a Muslim. And the reason that Luttwak’s piece contains not a single quotation from a Muslim or scholar of Islam is because it has no basis in reality whatsoever. The best points are Eteraz’s third and fourth ones:

Third, people that appear to be Muslims, but don’t follow Islam and choose another religion, are permitted under Islamic law to leave Islam without penalty. A major case in Malaysia recently handed down — a woman who was Muslim for some time in order to marry an Iranian was permitted to go back to Buddhism — is an example. Obama, unlike the Malaysian woman, didn’t even make a profession of faith to Islam, so it makes even less sense for him to be considered an apostate.

Fourth, Islamic law recognizes abandonment by the biological father. Obama’s Kenyan father abandoned Obama. As such, any religious imprimatur he may have had over Obama — which is already a stretch since the man was an atheist — is null and void. In such a situation, Obama’s mother’s religion is controlling. She was not Muslim. Even if someone makes the argument from patriarchy: that Obama’s paternal grandparents were his rightful guardians, that would fail since they also constructively abandoned him.

I think the instructive case that we should look towards is that of Carlos Menem, former president of Argentina. Born to Muslim Syrian-Argentine parents, Menem converted to Catholicism in order to run for president. His first wife, also of Syrian descent, remained Muslim. Menem traveled to Syria and other Muslim majority countries without incident, and even married a Muslim woman after he had converted out of the faith. There are questions about the authenticity of his Catholicism. But in Luttwak’s world this would be cause for the complication of the security planning of state visits by President Menem to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Mr. Menem’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it did, no doubt, when he won the Casa Rosada. Right? Wrong.

*[ The NYT seems to have developed a habit of idiotic reporting and opining on Muslims, Arabs, and their affairs; perpetually tinged with bigotry, condescension, and xenophobia; see their coverage of Geert, Hirsi Ali, Syrian immigrants, Rezko, and incidences of racialism or bias against Muslims which are not taken seriously by its writers. Matt Yglesias asks “I’m no expert on Islamic law, but if this were any kind of real issue, shouldn’t The New York Times be able to locate an actual Muslim who sees things this way?” The NYT doesn’t consider Muslim opinion relevant; it rarely asks actual Muslims about topics that pertain to their votes, views, religion, or culture; only white reporters and “experts” are objective enough to cover such topics. At least that’s how it seems to play out. ]


5 thoughts on “Such nonsense

  1. Well, it is in no way limited to the Muslim world or Muslim related issues. The NYT coverage on Europe and European issues is at best lacking in credibility, and most of the time frankly ridiculous.

  2. Actually, in Algeria the papers are full of stories about people harassed because they converted. The latest story in El Watan is here:

    A quick summary for those who don’t read French. A young woman is threatened with a sentence of 3 years in jail for possession of Christian literature (books, bibles). The main accusation is that she intended to proselytize (which is illegal in Algeria).

    I can’t remember the source, but in another article on the same story, the district attorney told her that he would drop the case if she came back to Islam.

    There are many more stories one can dig up on this topic.

  3. Karim,
    The point isn’t that people are harassed for conversion, as they clearly are (in Algeria, as well as in Pakistan, Egypt, and anywhere else it occurs in the Muslim world). The point is that it isn’t usually an issue for politicians, especially Western ones, and that there isn’t very much evidence that any Muslims actually view Obama in the way that American pundits are saying they do.

  4. Well, it might not be an issue for American politicians, but it is a discussed topic for European ones. To be honest, it is not (and by far) a main point of contention, but it is often used by extreme right or right wing anti-Muslim leaders (Le Pen, Rita Verdonk, Hirsi Ali, Gert Wilders, etc.). Interestingly, it is far less used than the Muslim women condition.

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