AP writer Lee Keath published an article on Monday dealing with the “debate among Muslims over interpreting faith” — without mentioning that thousands of deaths are meted out every year in the name of Islam across the globe. Keath instead describes those who question the link between Islam and jihadist violence as “increasingly brazen.” Rather than focusing on the “brazenness” of the murderers in Islam’s name, the author instead points towards those who dare critique the Religion of Peace.
Western critics are increasingly brazen about suggesting there is something inherent in Islam that is sparking violence by some of its adherents. Most Muslims reject this, arguing that the tumult of the post-colonial Middle East has created fertile ground for radicalism among people whose faith is fundamentally one of peace.
By suggesting that Westerners have become “brazen” about Islam in their critiques of its followers’ promulgation of worldwide violence, the AP has dismissed the tens-of-thousands of Islam-related killings as mere coincidence.
Keath accused Saudi Arabia of sending conflicting condemnatory signals following the actions of AQAP and ISIS-linked terrorists and their attacks against Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket last week.
After gunmen in Paris killed 12 people, Saudi Arabia’s top body of Muslim clerics quickly condemned the attack and said it could have no acceptable justification. It was a signal from some of the Islamic world’s strictest voices that cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were not a reason to kill the artists.
Only days later, Saudi Arabia sent an opposing message: On Friday, a young Saudi was whipped 50 times in a public square in the city of Jiddah, the first of what will be 20 such weekly rounds of lashes. That, along with 10 years in prison, is his sentence from the kingdom’s religious-based courts for insulting Islam, based on posts on his blog criticizing prominent clerics close to the monarchy.
The contradiction points to the difficulties at a time of a growing debate within Islam about whether and how to reject a radical minority that some fear is dragging them into conflict and wrecking the faith.
Saudi authorities, however, never said that Charlie Hebdo’s artists should not have been punished for their cartoon depictions of Islam’s Muhammad. A correct interpretation of Saudi authorities’ remarks would reveal that they believed the artist’s punishment was simply too severe. Nowhere in the statement did the Saudi government reveal a contradiction in the way the Wahhabi kingdom conducts itself.
The real contradiction occurs when attempting to bring Shariah, where criticism of Islam and Muhammad is forbidden, to a societies that protect freedom of speech, not when the Saudis decide to whip instead of kill one of Islam’s “offenders.” The Shariah-compliant view clashes with some of our highest Western values, which include the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. While one is free to practice their religion, the First Amendment of our Constitution does not guarantee freedom from religious criticism. Most Western nations have some analog to this provision. Under Sharia law, however, punishment is mandatory for the critics of Muhammad and Islam.
Worse, the AP news story passively accuses Charlie Hebdo’s writers of being racists.
Muslims who denounced the killings were often clearly discomfited by the content and defended their right to be upset over cartoons even some Western critics said crossed into racism.
The writer makes a blanket accusation that Charlie Hebdo writers not only disagree with the religion of Islam, but are also somehow racist, without providing any evidence to confirm the accusatory comment.