Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Tale of Two Arabs

A week ago, I posted excerpts from a WSJ op-ed by Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Saudi Institute in Washington, who personifies an "Arab moderate":
[W]here I come from [Christians] are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. . . As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. . .

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.
Well, al-Ahmed's dark-side doppelganger, Haroon Siddiqui (former Editorial page chief for the Toronto Star), published Koran flushing Q & As in Thursday's Totonto Star:
Q: Political opportunists in Pakistan and elsewhere hijacked the Qur'an incidents to whip up public fury.

A: Don't our politicians exploit every chance to advance their agenda and themselves, often at the expense of the common good? Aren't George W. Bush and other Republicans particularly adept at using religious and moral wedge issues?

Q: Muslims should be up in arms about the killing of 17 fellow Muslims in the Qur'an protests.

A: Unlike the impression left of crowds lynching one another, most of those who died were killed in police shootings ordered by the pro-American governments of Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Hamid Karzai. There has been plenty of criticism of that, which is not what Messrs. Friedman and others, shedding crocodile tears, are looking for. What they want is for Muslims to berate Muslims for being Muslim in a way not acceptable to America.

Q: Muslims must condemn "their culture of death," as demonstrated in the Qur'an protests and in suicide bombings, lately in Iraq.

A: Sure. But as a recent study by Robert Pape, professor at the University of Chicago, has shown, suicide bombings are not the exclusive preserve of Muslims. The Tamil Tigers, who happen to be Hindu, have been the leading user of that dastardly weapon. . .

Q: Nobody mounts deadly demonstrations when the Bible or other sacred texts are violated.

A: This point has drawn two responses: the Qur'an plays a far more central role in the lives of Muslims than do the sacred texts for others, and, secondly, it's not the fault of Muslims if other believers, especially in the West, have lost their sense of the sacred (something the new Pope also complains about).

But that misses the greater principle: Having guaranteed freedom of religion, it is not for us to dictate how strongly some people might feel about their faith, so long as they operate within the rule of law.

The protests over the Qur'an episodes have been presented as the utterly incomprehensible actions of illiterate and irrational mobs. They are at one level. But on another, they are understandable — not justifiable but understandable — given the scandalous mistreatment of Muslims in America, Iraq and in Afghanistan, day after day, for more than three years.
It's kinda hard to choose from such rich material, but here's my Siddiqui Top 6:
  1. "Sure." What, did you expect me to be surprised? Worried? Jihad is the law throughout Islam, and as common as, say, wife 3 asking "Do you want me to stop at Blockbusters on the way home and pick up a DVD?" "Sure," I say, "but not Ishtar again, or I will be forced to whip you."

  2. It it's not me, it's the filthy Hindu! Or even the Jooooooooooooossss!

  3. Your religion forbids killing over trivia, and thus is lost the mandate of heaven. You must turn the dial on the way-back machine, and return to the 11th Century. Then America's foreign policy can revert to mutually assured destruction (MAD)--only this time, the balance of power will be settled by jousts between scimitar-brandishing, ululating, soldiers on camels. The winner will rule Europe and earn a Euro-rape pass, good for 200 years or President Chirac's immunity from prosecution, whichever is longer.

  4. The Newsweek incident proves Muslims have more freedom of religion than Western infidels. Our Koran is more important than your ancient Bibles (I can never remember: was Jesus the older book and Moses the new one? Or the other way around?), so our government is Constitutionally forbidden to prevent the free exercise of the Islamic Constitutional right to jihad and Jizya. Here in barbarous America, your religion has been expelled from the Capitol temple and, I am told, the prescribed punishment for many murderers now is forbidden! It could never be so in Islamic lands; the way of the desert is but two: "the Dar al-Islam—the "house of Islam" or "house of submission" to God—and the Dar al-Harb, or "house of war"—those who are at war with God," blessed be his name."

  5. Your foolish neo-cons, insisting Bush isn't a Christian crusader--such will be the end of America. Though the barbarous West's reformed tradition, the Islamic world's excelled in evading modernity and preserving the scriptural theocracy. And, as you know, some Muslims soon will celebrate the most holy of holy days; the one Mohammad himself -- having booked the last space (middle seat, third row from the end; curses unto El Al!) on the Al-Buraq El-Sharif El-Airbus to Jerusalem, when returning water to the sand behind a big rock, shielded by a long wall -- declared, in honor of having been bumped to first class AND pulling into the gate 15 minutes early, the festival of E'r Za'ts el-Ekzun would be held whenever jinn el-Carter visited a chief's tent. And so it has. In a few days, it will be E'r Za'ts el-Ekzun day in Iran. While anointing himself for the celebration, spiritual leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei spoke through the factotum Hasani,
    You need to vote for Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. This way we will finally be able to have for ourselves the atomic bomb to fairly stand up to Israeli weapons," said Hasani. Freedom, democracy and stupidities of this type cannot be carried over to any part, and these concepts are out of sync with the principles of Islam.
    So while America gyrates and sings of "losing its religion," Islam grows ever stronger, blessed be the name of the prophet.

  6. Still, we do tremble, O heathen leader Bush, for we have learned ("our source was the New York Times") of secret powers obtained not through Allah. Newspapers in Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis confirm your Bush has unworldly powers to project lethal force near or next to oceans thousands of miles distant--and still sparing many in between, mostly apart from coasts. We do not understand this dark wind, activated merely with a mention of "partial birth abortion," "support our troops" or "the sanctity of marriage." I pray to the prophet that, when he next slams the triple-blade switch, fires up the Van der Graph generators, and mysteriously summons lightning at 4:45 pm each Washingon summer day, Bush faces away from Toronto when speaking blasphemous wedgies.