Thursday, August 28, 2008

COMMENT: Israeli columnist accuses Daniel Pipes of lying about Senator Obama ...


Daniel Pipes has again tried to run some sort of crazy line about Senator Barack Obama's religious affiliation. In a column for the Jerusalem Post, Pipes repeats his claims that Obama, if not currently a Muslim, was a Muslim at some stage.

Some readers will be wondering what difference does it make. After all, there is nothing in the US Constitution which bars an American of any religious affiliation from holding the highest office in the land.

That may be the legal position. But Pipes, a columnist who isn' exactly known for his love for Muslims, wants American voters to imagine that there is some possibility that Obama may well be a Muslim. Hence Pipes makes the following extraordinary claim ...

... Muslims the world over rarely see him as Christian but usually as either Muslim or ex-Muslim.
And what is his proof? A statement from Colonel Gaddafy-duck, a few columnists, a conversation in Beirut between a baker and his customer, one or two remarks from academics here and there and this line from someone whom Pipes describes as "the President of the Islamic Society of North America, Sayyid M. Syeed".

Really, Mr Pipes? Is Sayyid Syeed the President of ISNA? How come no one has told Professor Ingred Mattson of this? Did Pipes instal Syeed as president while nobody was watching? When did Syeed make these remarks? Was it well before Obama began his presidential quest?
Pipes claims that Muslims are required to have a certain view about Obama. And what is that view? And which Muslim theological of juristic source does he rely on?

Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute explains why: "Barack Obama's father was Muslim and therefore, according to Islamic law, so is the candidate. In spite of the Koranic verses explaining that there is no compulsion in religion, a Muslim child takes the religion of his or her father... For Muslims around the world, non-American Muslims at any rate, they can only ever see Barack Hussein Obama as a Muslim."
Wow. That's a reliable source. Check out Lee Hudson's background here. What are his qualifications in Islamic theology or sacred law? Here they are ...
















Yep, that's the extent of Lee Smith's qualifications in Islamic sacred law and theology.
Pipes chose not to quote Smith's other comments in his article. Here is how Smith describes Muslim societies as a whole ...

Sure, there are numerous instances of dark-skinned people who won respect in the Muslim world ... But generally, it should come as no surprise to anyone save the most cloistered third-world fantasists, that a society which discriminates against sex, religion, ethnicity, language, nation, tribe, and family is not likely to have very progressive attitudes about race. Arab society, like many others, has a race problem ... It's not clear to me why Americans seem now to be trying to export a very un-American idea - that a man's color and his faith matter.

Lee Smith, a visiting fellow in Hudson Institute's Center for Future Security Strategies, is currently based in Beirut, where he is writing a book about Arab culture.

What the ...? Is this guy for real? Is he alleging that Arab society and Muslim society are one and the same thing? Is he suggesting that Muslim societies all have very unprogressive views on just about every collective trait? And what is so un-American about having a President of a particular colour or ancestry? Did Smith object to President George W Bush making an issue of his ability to speak Spanish during his campaign?

Returning to Pipes, he ends his analysis with this curious claim ...
In sum, Muslims puzzle over Obama's present religious status. They resist his self-identification as a Christian, while they assume a baby born to a Muslim father and named "Hussein" began life a Muslim.
Er, which Muslims are doing the puzzling, Mr Pipes? The handful of Arab columnists and the Beirut baker?

Now here is the shocking news for Mr Pipes? Muslims believe that we are born Muslim regardless of who our father is and what religion he may or may not have. So Muslims believe that even someone who hates Muslims as much as Pipes was in fact born a Muslim. It's a simple concept called "fitrah" or inherent purity. We are all born with it. Islam has no concept of original sin. Yes, Mr Pipes, even you were born Muslim. Deal with it.

Here is what Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston describes Pipes' claims about Obama and religion ...

What may frighten some Americans about Barack Obama is his very excellence. His fiercest critics have so far had little else to go on.

But if he is truly that scary, why is it so necessary to lie about him?

If the real truth about him is so frightening, why is it so necessary for someone like Daniel Pipes to
ingeniously resuscitate the lie that Obama is a Muslim?

If the actual facts are so damning, why was it so necessary for Fox and others to pump up the packet of hardbound fictions called
Obama Nation, a miserable book whose manipulative distribution propelled it to a debut at the top of The New York Times best seller
list?

There will be those for whom race is the deciding issue, but I believe their numbers are few.

So there you have it, folks. A columnist in an Israeli newspaper accuses Pipes of lying, and implies that Pipes is trying to turn race into an issue in this election.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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