A hail of hatred falls on moderate Muslim Maajid Nawaz, Internet fights back with humor

December 27, 2015 • 9:45 am

Maajid Nawaz, a moderate Muslim, has been vilified by both Muslims and leftists for his efforts to harmonize Islam and Western values, and especially for engaging in both written and spoken dialogue with Sam Harris. For these acts, as I noted a while back, Nawaz has been called a “lapdog,” a “porch monkey,” and a “native informant.” All these are simply updated synonyms for “Uncle Tom.” Yet Nawaz was once a militant Islamist, jailed in Egypt for five years for organizing radical movements.  Since then he’s become de-radicalized and has founded Quilliam, a think tank devoted to reinforcing moderate brands of Islam and to opposing religious extremism. And by his own account he’s still a believer.

Many of us believe that if Islam is to truly reform, purging itself of its violent and extremist elements, that change will have to come from inside—from Islamic moderates. In other words, from people like Nawaz.

But I’m beginning to wonder if that will work. For Nawaz, who should be the poster boy for effecting this kind of change, is regularly vilified by both Muslims and Westerners. The former hate him for being too moderate, and he’s attacked from both sides for supposedly being a lackey of the colonialist West. He can’t win, and, as far as I know, receives constant death threats and requires protection.

Yet who is better placed to be a spokesman for “moderate Islam”? The man has seen radical Islam from the inside, and gave it up. Nobody can accuse him of not knowing what he’s talking about.

Here’s an example of what he now faces. In Islam,  du’a is a prayer-like gesture, a submission and supplication to Allah for fulfillment of a need. So Nawaz’s fellow Muslims simply established a Twi**er site,  #duaagainstmaajidnawaz, collecting du’as for Allah to bring down all kinds of violence on their moderate coreligionist. Here are a few tw**ts from that site reproduced at Harry’s Place. It’s this kind of stuff that makes Nawaz fear for his life:

Screen shot 2015-12-27 at 4.15.59 AM

But there’s good news, too. People defending Nawaz have hijacked that thread (go look at the latest ones), posting hilarious and satirical supplications that have nothing to do with Islam.  The pushback has diluted the real threats to homeopathic proportions. Here are a few folks who have gone to bat for Nawaz:

Screen shot 2015-12-27 at 5.57.11 AM

I have to say that the discovery that a cookie contains raisins rather than chocolate chips seriously distresses me.

Here are a few others from BuzzBry:

May your USB cable be inserted upside down 80% of the time…And may your shopping cart have one confused wheel. #DuaAgainstMaajidNawaz

— Ryan (@Ryan_ronron) December 23, 2015

#duaagainstmaajidnawaz may you be named the new miss universe only to have it taken away seconds later @MaajidNawaz

— Philippe Assouline (@Philassie) December 23, 2015

May your dvd player slightly scratch your copy of Mary Poppins, making it skip slightly during the good songs. #duaagainstmaajidnawaz

— Stewart Carl Bova (@StewartCBova) December 23, 2015

@MaajidNawaz May Donald Trump speak very highly of you at his next campaign rally. #duaagainstmaajidnawaz

— Margo Jones (@3DTruth) December 23, 2015

I’m always amazed at the hidden comedic talents revealed by the Internet, in this case directed at Muslims attacking Nawaz for his laudable acts.

Sarcasm may have derailed that Twi**er site, but the problem remains: if moderate Muslims like Nawaz reap vilification from their coreligionists, and if Islam’s pacification requires those very moderates, how will any change occur? Every moderate Muslim or ex-Muslim I know publicly trying to effect that change has been subject to threats of violence and death.

And of course many of us worry that truly moderate Muslims will remain silent lest they suffer the same fate as Nawaz. If Western newspapers are so fearful of retribution that they won’t reprint Danish cartoons satirizing Islam, how can we expect Muslims to take even more dangerous stands? Nawaz is a very brave man, and I revile those who  label him a Muslim Uncle Tom.

Here’s an example of the kind of stuff that brings him opprobrium: an unveiling of the anti-Enlightenment sentiments of Muslims who would prefer to keep them under wraps. Contributor Grania sent me a link to the video below, commenting, “This is fricking hilarious (in an unfunny way): watch Muslims weasel out of answering whether gays and women can morally be stoned to death.”  Maajid Nawaz is the interlocutor, and he doesn’t let up. I may have posted the video before, but it’s worth watching again given the flak that Nawaz is taking from both sides:

Ten years ago 40% of British Muslims favored sharia law being introduced in parts of their country (only 41% opposed it) , and even some Anglican clerics, most notably the last Archbishop of Canterbury, have said that some elements of sharia should be incorporated into British law. That’s the mindset that Nawaz is fighting against, and as yet I see little success. It’s like fighting creationism in the U.S.: just as you can’t convince many conservative Christians that evolution is compatible with their faith, so you can’t convince many conservative Muslims that democratic, nonreligious law is compatible with Islam.

121 thoughts on “A hail of hatred falls on moderate Muslim Maajid Nawaz, Internet fights back with humor

  1. I loved those Twitter responses to the hateful remarks directed at Nawaz & especially liked the Miss Universe one.

    I wonder what Ben Affleck has to say to Nawaz. I think it would be interesting to see the two of them in conversation because Nawaz, being a brown Muslim, would set off something in Affleck’s brain that would make him want to defend him, yet Nawaz would be speaking up against radicalism and those radicals, many of them also being brown, would inspire Affleck to protect them as well.

    It’s such a shame the left do not support him. He is on their side & he needs their help to stop the horror of the other side the left supports. It is heartening, however, that those Twitter remarks exist — it shows there are supporters out there and maybe the tide will turn.

    1. I’d watch a bio-pic of Nawaz’s life: what a story. And I’d pay good money to see Ben Affleck in the title role. x

    2. It is indeed heartening, but I wonder how many of those mockers are themselves Muslim. If they are/were, that would be so much better.

    3. I know I’m being pedantic, but many on the left do support him. I’ve been an admirer for a long time.

      Those on the left who don’t support him are the crowd who think criticism of Islam is the same as criticizing all Muslims and is somehow therefore racist. i.e. the regressive left (a term first used by Nawaz) as opposed to the progressive left.

      Imo, the regressives give the left a bad name, and are much closer to the far right in tactics and the way they believe than they are to the majority on both the left and centre right. The regressives have, for example, no problem shutting down free speech if it says something they don’t agree with.

        1. I asked that question a few months ago. I suspect they get 72 male virgins. Groped to raise welts and a 30 second quickie every night. What a prospect!

          1. Muslim women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex so they’d probably be blessed with babies or something women are supposed to want.

            1. Actually, Muslim women are supposed to enjoy sex, but only with their husbands. And the concept of them being permitted to refuse sex isn’t normally there. (Phrases about “waiting like a field to be ploughed” come out from time to time from the unwary.)

              1. I think they are supposed to submit to their husbands not necessarily enjoy sex. They are supposed to do their duty.

              2. Pleasure while performing their duty is permitted.
                On the other hand, in the same conversations (over beers and whiskies, but not ham sandwiches) with the same Muslim men, the concept of being expected to ever provide pleasure to any or all of their wives elicits a blank look.

      1. Well they wouldn’t be virgins for eternity, would they?

        (Reminds me of the old Punch joke:
        Nervous passenger: Do these planes crash very often?
        Hostess (reassuringly): No mam, only once.)


        1. Actually, certain imams claim the 72 virgins will be virgins for eternity. Don’t ask how that’s supposed to work.

          1. Same way the Virgin Mary stayed one, presumably. [g]

            If that’s the case, it’d be even worse (as Ken noted). Long before I’d got halfway through them I’d be begging desperately for some bad girls who knew what’s what and weren’t so much hard work…


    1. Finding yourself in heaven with 72 virgins sounds like a fate worse than life to me. Before I get to virgin #2, I’d be begging Allah for a weekend pass to Vegas, to mingle among the showgirls and pros.

      1. What do female Muslim suicide bombers get in Heaven? They find themselves young and virginal, standing in a line with 71 other women- screwed again!

  2. “I have to say that the discovery that a cookie contains raisins rather than chocolate chips seriously distresses me.”

    Indeed. Cookies with raisins are like speed bumps: Hard to believe humanity did such a thing to itself.

    1. I must say and defend the raisin by saying, if the cookie were an oatmeal cookie, the raisin would be far preferable to a chocolate chip. Who would want chocolate chips in their oatmeal cookie?

        1. While I completely agree with PCC that “I have to say that the discovery that a cookie contains raisins rather than chocolate chips seriously distresses me” I also agree with the others who lavish praise on oatmeal raisin cookies.

          In fact, my wife bakes what we usually just call “the best cookie in the world”, oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips, pecans, dried cherries, and dried blueberries. To die for (and, I probably will, if I eat too many of them).

          1. Yay for kitchen sink cookies (named because everything but the kitchen sink goes into them)! Our household version comprises of oatmeal, spices, chocolate chunks, rum-soaked raisins, walnuts, and maple syrup. 🙂

      1. You’re right; putting a chocolate chip in an oatmeal cookie would be like putting a Hershey kiss on a cow pie. A complete waste of chocolate.

  3. May you wake up to your alarm clock, only to realize that daylight savings time means you have an extra hour of sleep.

    1. May you oversleep, panic, tear around getting washed and dressed, and only realise it’s a non working day as you leave your house…

  4. “And may your shopping cart have one confused wheel.”
    That’s going a little too far. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. What ever happened to civil conversation, like “trampled on”, “destructive death” and (best of all) “financial harms” ?

  5. Bringing up the idea of the Creationist and belief that discussion or time will somehow bring him or her around to a more moderate religious view just simply does not happen. That is why, after all these hundreds of years we still have them. The same is likely true of the Islamic extremest (the hard liners).

    The religion has to more or less become unpopular or disappear from the culture and society at large before the extremest are pressured to change their ways.

  6. If the average age of moderates is reasonably less than the fundamentalists, then there’s hope, since, as we know (paraphrasing Max Planck) progress advances one funeral at a time.

    The fatwas and death threats suggest that the radicals are aware of this, and so maybe from that standpoint this is reason for some hope.

    1. I’m just having a mental brain infarction at the concept of Groucho Marx presenting Max Planck’s work, in character.
      The sizzling sound is braincells dieing.

      1. I think you just experienced entanglement.

        Don’t worry, I hear the coherence time for Groucho was about one to two text lines.

  7. With regards to reforming the faith from within: It seems to me Sam Harris’ End Of Faith thesis still holds (as many of us atheists have been arguing for a long time):

    The very nature of religion and faith undermines internal argumentation from all sides. Religious belief essentially depends on giving up one or more of the tools of reason to begin with, and once you’ve allowed yourself to hobble reason, you’ve removed the grounds for others within your religion to do the same.

    I’ve watched and listened to a great many debates between Christians and every time the take away was crystal clear: they don’t have the right tools for establishing who
    is right or wrong. You can’t take the view that any religious text represents The Divine without making egregious exceptions in your critical reasoning, and people can always see those exceptions from the other point of view. When liberal-type Christians debate fundies their liberal position is utterly undermined easily by the fundy, who rightly points to the cherry-picking of the Liberal Christian. You can’t to in there with a beliefs that is full of holes to begin with, and think this is the optimal position from which to change the opinion of others who are allowing the same method themselves.

    It seems to me most “reforms” of religion have come essentially from pressure outside the religion forcing that change – as Sam Harris puts it the “collision with modernity” and secular/enlightenment values for Christianity. For Islam, the most “reformed” or liberal versions don’t seem to come from “within” isolated Islamic societies, but in the context of interaction with outside, usually secular, surroundings – e.g. the way you will find much more moderation in Muslims living in the West, or from Islamic countries which have had the most incursion of secular pressures.

    Reason – consistency – still seems the best route we have.

    1. Your argument is extremely well presented. Good work! Reason is the best hope, but whether it is good enough remains to be seen.

      The real question is whether the hard shell that surrounds the religious fundamentalism of believers can be cracked. It is certainly not impossible for religious fundamentalists to escape the cocoon that had surrounded them, but in terms of percentage I don’t know what the rate is, although I suspect it is small. What seems an inescapable truth to me is that any society that is composed of groups with radically different beliefs is one that experiences extreme tension and discord, sometimes leading to violence between the groups. For a society to be relatively harmonious, a high degree of homogeneity in beliefs and values is necessary. The fact that so many societies throughout the world are in turmoil supports this view. Over time, sometimes differing groups can come together and live relatively harmoniously. An example of this is Catholics and Protestants in America. During the 19th and early 20th century, there was a great deal of hostility between these groups. Today, this hostility is largely muted, perhaps because they are united against newly perceived common enemies – atheists, secularists and recently Islam. Whether Islam can reform itself so that its core beliefs become consistent with Enlightenment values remains an open question. Until and if that day arrives, fundamentalist Islam will remain incompatible with these values and thus will be in tension with those societies that embrace them. Also, fundamentalist Christianity is equally inconsistent with these values.

    2. I think you are right. Consistency in the application and publicity of reason will gradually win out.
      As time goes on potential recruits to ISIS will become more familiar with the implications of radicalism and will become skeptical. ISIS will not be able to create a successful caliphate, and will become known as a dead end. As long as it is opposed forcefully by reason, at that point if will fade away.

      1. I do expect that their caliphate will prove unsustainable. They exist by plunder and subjugation. They cannot legally trade with anyone, and they will never know peace along their borders.

        1. I am not sure. They have oil under their control, so they don’t need real economy. The similar theocracies of Saudi Arabia and Iran have so far been sustainable, though every new Iranian president is hailed as “moderate” by wishful Westerners.

          1. ISIS’s problem with its oil trade is that it has to vastly undercut the market price and sell to smugglers, so its revenues are well down on what they should be. The mafia methods and amorality of their economy must be testimony to its unsustainability.

            But this attachment on ISIS marks a new low, and I do not exaggerate, worse, imo, than sex-slavery. It is fatwa 68 – a number which should become infamous – allegedly captured by the US from ISIS in May.

            It’s the theological warrant for the trade in unbelievers’ organs and cannibalism.

            Allele akhbar.


    3. I am not sure. It’s fine to talk about the Enlightenment, but I think it was really the Thirty Year’s War that put a decided check upon militant religion in the West. That war ended the confessional violence spawned by the Reformation (at least at a state level). I think that for Islam to reform it first has to accept that it cannot militarily hope to achieve success. Then reason can work.

      1. Credit the Enlightenment that we haven’t had a repeat of the Thirty Year’s War (not as tragedy the second time, but as farce). Or maybe we have, and just haven’t called it that.

    4. It seems to me that most religious (political/philosphical’cultural) beliefs are emotional beliefs – the emotional ‘truth’ that satisfies you unconsciously is accepted before the more fragile rationality can take hold. Hence the fierce reaction to people who have other deeply held beliefs.

      Rational argument is rarely enough on its own to deconvince an emotional belief – people have to want to adopt a more satisfying emotional belief first.

      1. I don’t think reason by itself is going to directly contribute, though it will have to be a factor if the edifice is going to be robust, or else we’d just be replacing one form of faith with another. When faced with reason, the two go-to responses are either to show how one’s faith-based position really is reasonable to believe in, or to deftly switch the conversation so that reason is no longer the important thing, but “being human” or “believing in something” or “living a way of life” or some other tired, romantic way of trying to look good about defying rational standards. These two responses cover the entirety of religious apologetics, and are the main reasons why people won’t let go of their pet beliefs.

        If reason is going to contribute, it’ll have to be in a war of attrition. However many bromides and bluffs people put up around their faiths, they do sooner or later care about what is true and want to be seen as such. Constantly battering away at these shields will, sooner or later, reveal how weak they are by comparison, even if that realization takes more than one lifetime to sink in.

        In any case, to paraphrase Harris’ point on an unrelated matter, we simply can’t get people to respect intellectual honesty by lying to them.

  8. “…just as you can’t convince many conservative Christians that evolution is compatible with their faith…”

    Of course, that is because they are NOT compatible. I am slightly more optimistic about the compatibility of Islam and secular society, but not much.

    1. To me, the mere existence of deleterious mutations is much more difficult to account for under the idea of a benevolent, omnipotent God than evolution. E.g. what is God’s excuse for allowing trisomy 13? Not being able to count to 46?
      The difference is that believers are told in churches/mosques that they must be against evolution, but nobody has ever talked about mutations.

  9. And the difference between Maajid Nawaz and Karen Armstrong? Are they both not Sophisticated Theologians enabling fundamentalist beliefs?

        1. Don’t you mean ‘West countries’, since Armstrong is a christianist and some of those have a lot of christianists?

          Your argument doesn’t seem to make sense, Nawaz is a mohammedanist and speaks to those all over the world.

          1. Yes Armstrong is Christian, but she is inclusive of Islam when it comes to her “apologetics” (if that is the right word).

    1. The difference is that Armstrong spends her time defending religion from any forms of criticism. Nawaz, while religious, spends much of his time criticizing religion’s propensity towards inspiring violence. Both may have similar beliefs in many ways, but Nawaz is the one who co-writes a book with Sam Harris about them discussing the problems Islam has right now – Armstrong is the one who tries to make it seem like those problems have nothing to do with Islam.

      1. Yeah, Nawaz doesn’t proselytize for his faith, or even publicly promote religion over non-religion, AFAIK. Hardly anyone’s idea of a “Sophisticated Theology” proponent there. His efforts, instead, are directed at taking on the fundamentalism of his coreligionists (and deathly dangerous work that could be, indeed).

        If Armstrong does anything even remotely similar, I’ve missed it.

  10. Reforming Islam to a more moderate form will continue to face resistance until social reforms are made. I think the problem can be very much like the problem of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S., which regularly goes up and down in popularity with the economy. We will see limited effect until young people can get jobs and see a brighter future.

    1. Many European countries have a worse economic situation and higher unemployment than the USA and still are predominantly atheist. There must be some other factor behind the perpetuation of religion in the USA.

    1. How correct must all my beliefs be for me to qualify as rational in your mind? What percentage of false beliefs am I allowed, for whatever reason (I’ve not reconsidered it in some time, I’ve got incomplete or incorrect information, I’m blinded by an emotional weakspot regarding this one belief, etc.)? 5%? 1%?

      I ask because if someone has to be right about everything to be rational, no one qualifies, and the word becomes useless.

      1. Well said, Pali.

        Is Francis Collins ‘rational’? Was Newton? How omniscient do we have to be, to be certain that all our beliefs are evidence-based (or better, statistical-probability-based)?

        How afraid should I be of lightning if I’m walking in a thunderstorm (bearing in mind I’m statistically much more likely to die in a car accident)? In fact if I was really rational I wouldn’t go swimming, since that carries a hazard of drowning which I could quite easily avoid by just not swimming.


        1. But part of a rational mindset is recognizing one’s fallibility and shortcomings, or at least acknowledging uncertainty. By those lights, we almost certainly are profoundly limited and incomplete, even biased, in our worldviews. Which is why we try and get better. Rationality doesn’t have to be “all-or-nothing”.

          1. ‘Rationality doesn’t have to be “all-or-nothing”.’

            Absolutely agreed.

            But Servatius’ wording implied that it does. Hence Pali’s and my dissent.


      2. Is Servatius somehow forbidden from criticizing any person’s shortcomings, including Muslim beliefs, even in the form of an otherwise admirable and like-minded man such as Nawaz? It’s not high on the priority list, given the context, but neither is it necessarily negligible. Besides, you could have just said as much instead of assuming, right off the bat, that Servatius is an easily rebutted absolutist and hypocrite.

        1. Pali did not suggest that Servatius was a hypocrite.

          Servatius’ wording (“I do not think he is a rational person”) implies a black-and-white view of Nawaz, with which Pali and I disagree.


    2. Every human has false beliefs.

      To believe that all muslims are less rational then all atheist is a false belief.

      Only Vulcans are rational, humans are at best partial rational.

      1. To believe that all muslims are less rational then all atheist is a false belief.

        Except in one particular subject area. The question is worth asking, though: why a moderate Muslim, and not, say, an out-and-out apostate? Just because he isn’t advocating death to unbelievers, doesn’t mean his beliefs get a free pass, especially under the spurious idea that it’d be somehow self-invalidating hypocrisy to criticize them.

      2. There are people in our societies that without emotion. We say they have a “loss of affect” psychosis…a trait shared by most sociopaths. Trust me, you do not want to be Spock. You do not want to meet a Spock. A real-life version of Spock would think no more of killing a sentient being than they would a fly; if it’s the rational, calculated thing to do, they’d do it without qualm or remorse. Then, if they were curious, they would think nothing of cooking and eating your body or even screwing it, because it is our emotional responses that tell us to honor the dead.

        1. What a strange comment. For starters, “loss of affect” at best matches the symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder rather than sociopathy, and in both cases is explicitly about a loss of empathy, not necessarily emotions en masse. Secondly, the best example of a living Spock would be, say, Damasio’s patients who had parts of their orbitofrontal cortexes removed. The result of losing their emotional abilities was a level of critical analysis so severely pedantic that they basically became hopelessly indecisive over even the simplest of daily actions.

          Thirdly and most broadly, our emotional responses say a lot of things, including that spiders are damn terrifying abominations and you’re going to fall through the reinforced viewing glass hanging over the Grand Canyon even after it’s made obvious you’ve got a better chance of getting killed in a car accident on the way home. Emotions are shortcut calculations of an organic computer. They don’t have the last say on anything.

    1. Here is a harmless spoiler: The stormtrooper that gets tricked into letting Rey out of her cell was played by Daniel Craig. He did it just for fun.

  11. The man has seen radical Islam from the inside, and gave it up. Nobody can accuse him of not knowing what he’s talking about.

    As the song says, “That’s the way to make people hate’cha!”
    Challenging someone’s worldview, particularly when you do know what you are talking about and formerly were a co-believer, is an effective way of bringing every speck of their cognitive dissonance to the surface in a way that they cannot avoid and cannot easily dismiss out-of-hand. Therefore they have to actually face their cognitive dissonance.
    This is painful for most people, and striking out at the person bringing them pain is an extremely common reaction.
    I’m sure that Maajid Nawaz is well aware of this, and knows exactly what is going on in his assailant’s heads. That’s another reason for them to hate and fear him.
    Whether this is effective remains to be seen. I would doubt that it has any lasting effects on his interlocutors. Whether it is effective at reducing recruitment to either the religion, or to the more extreme margins of the religion, remains to be seen. Which would be a step forward, one Planckian funeral at a time.

    1. (It’s also the reason that Islam in particular, but religions in general, reserve such opprobrium for people who convert away from the religion. Opprobrium as well as special corners of their Hell, and extra tortures.

      1. As a munafiq, a reforming Muslim, Nawaz’s special safe space in hell is to be the kindling that keeps it burning. In a way, worse than being an apostate, I suppose. x

        1. Is the tinder that sparks the kindling an even lower place in Muslim hell, reserved for the worst-of-the-worst tergiversaters?

    2. Islam likes to boast about being the fastest growing religion, but that is only because of birthrate. It has very few converts, and with many Muslim-majority countries having severe penalties, including death, for apostasy, those who no longer believe aren’t open about it.

      The Catholic Church continues to count all those baptized within it as members, but plenty of them no longer consider themselves Catholic.

      1. Yeah Heather, I saw a demographic report the other day: I wish i had saved it.

        By 2050, due as you say to rising birth-rate, the number of Muslims will almost equal the number of Christians. The growth mainly occurs in Africa. By 2100 there would be more Muslims than Christians, but predictions that far in advance are methodologically tricky.

        Imagine today’s world population. In approximate billions. The Americas = 1, Europe = 1, Africa = 1, Asia = 4. The projections for 2100 are: Americas = 1, Europe = 1, Africa = 4, Asia = 5. x

        1. Yeah – big changes to world demographics are coming, and the increases are in the places that are going to find it hardest to come up with enough food and water. We’ve been making enormous progress reducing world poverty (which a lot of people don’t realize) but it’s going to be hard to maintain going forward simply because of these population increases.

          People will keep having babies to look after them in old age as long we don’t have proper social security systems.

        2. What rising birth rate?

          The ‘birth rate’ myth” : “The fertility rate for Muslim families is actually falling rapidly, not just in Western countries but across the world. In 1995 the average was 4.3 children per family. By 2010 that figure had fallen to around 2.9 and it still continues to fall.”

          Also : “Today, it is readily apparent that Islam is not connected with population growth. Just look at Iran, the world’s only Islamic theocracy, where the average family had around 7 children in the 1980s — and has 1.7 today, a lower rate than France or Britain. Or look at the United Arab Emirates, with 1.9 children per family. Or Turkey, ruled by an elected party of devout Muslims for a decade, which now has 2.15 children per family. Or Lebanon, which, despite Hezbollah’s rise, has only 1.86 children per family (so that its population will soon be shrinking).”


          1. Partially because Herodotus gave the Persians such a complimentary write-up in The Histories, because Cyrus the Great got to be a Messiah in the OT before Jesus, because Zoroatrianism so obviously converted the Jews from monolatry to monotheism, because Persia gave the Roman Empire such a run for its money, because of the Shiraz grape, because the Iranians so nearly succeeded in the Socialist Revolution of 1979, because of Iranian intellectuals’ support for Salman Rushdie, because of fesenjan, duck in a pomegranate and walnut sauce, served with chole (oily fried rice), because of the Iranian film industry, because Maryam Namazie, because Sheema Kalbasi, because of ‘My Stealthy Freedom’, because I have such civilized Iranian friends, but not because of Reza Aslan, I can’t help but admire Iranian civilization. Oh that I could go to Iran. x

            1. Would that the CIA had not snaked Mossadeq’s government out from under him back in 1953, Iran would be a very different place today — and you and I might be sitting down to a plate of fesenjan and a glass of Shiraz there right now.

              1. I am not sure. Societies have their own dynamics that is not easily hijacked by foreign factors. Since 2003, everyone has kept repeating the mantra that if the USA hadn’t intervened, everything in Iraq would be roses and unicorns. Obama put the hypothesis to a test by not intervening in Syria. The results are out for everyone to see, though many people still blame the Iraq war for what happened in Syria.

              2. There’s a big difference, though, between what happened in Syria and the CIA’s affirmatively orchestrating the 1953 coup in Iran to depose a democratically elected prime minister, no?

                I’m not saying all would be roses and unicorns in Iran today if the US hadn’t engineered the return of the Shah, but it would certainly be different — and difficult to believe different for the worse.

            1. Iran is probably acutely aware that the US has the bomb, Russia has the bomb, Israel has the bomb, Pakistan has the bomb and India has the bomb. And at least two of those have recently invaded middle eastern countries. It seems a bit inconsistent, to say the least, to expect Iran to be the exception.

              Now if Israel, Pakistan and India (just for starters) were to scrap all their H-bombs, there would be a moral case (rather than just a political one) for denying Iran the bomb.

              (Not that I’m in favour of nukes, I’d like to see them all safely destroyed).


              1. I’d also like to see all the world’s nuclear weapons disappear in a flash (… ok, bad choice of word there). In the meantime, however, I’d hate to see nukes proliferate to a place run by mullahs and surrounded by sworn enemies. It isn’t lost on me, though, the hypocrisy of a nation sitting on a stockpile of the damn things telling another nation that it can’t have them, too.

              2. I agree, I’d just as soon see Iran not have the bomb. I think what I wrote is probably how the Iranians see it.

                Which means that denying it to them requires some skilful diplomacy. Hopefully Obama’s capable of it, I dread to think what Trump or the rethuglicans might make of it.

                I’m acutely sorry, in all this, for the more enlightened Iranians, who had a reasonably advanced society ~40 (?) years ago. I’d hate to see them suffer the same fate as the Iraqis, nobody deserves that.


      2. The number of converts to Islam is definitely non-zero. the number of Christian-to-Muslim converts that I have known personally is at least 3.
        All had the same story : worked in the oilfield ; met a beautiful Indonesian through work; wanted to get married ; converted to Islam and got married.
        The falling birthrate in Muslim societies that follows from female education and employment outside the home is explicitly considered – by some – a reason for preventing female education and employment outside the home.
        If nothing else, this means that their economies will eventually be outcompeted once the advantages of oil reserves is eroded.

        1. There’s apparently a noticeable (though I’ve no idea of the stats) number of people converting from Hinduism to Islam in India. Apparently it’s because despite being outlawed, people still take note of the caste system and Muslims treat each other equally. So people from lower castes are converting.

          1. I’ve heard that too. Needless to say, losing their dogsbodies and people-to-sneer-at is extremely unpopular with higher-caste Hindus.
            They’re not too happy about losing low-caste underlings to Christian conversion either.
            Missionaries have died for this.

            1. Interesting – I didn’t know about the Christians. I do have Hindu friends who are pretty disgusted with their parents’ attitudes to those of lower castes though. It’s quite shocking to hear about how some people are looked down upon and treated, even in NZ, because of an accident of birth.

              1. Ah, that’s the (horrible) effect of talking to people with different ideas.
                Isn’t it important to prevent the next generation of $RELIGION$ from outside influences.

          2. “despite being outlawed, people still take note of the caste system”
            But hopefully that will fade, and quite possibly faster than fundamental islamism.

            “and Muslims treat each other equally”
            Do they? (That’s not rhetorical, I really don’t know. But I’d be a little surprised if my two separate lots of Muslim tenants – Bosnian Muslims and Pakistanis – regarded each other as equals).


            1. Yeah, that might be a different story. 🙂

              As for the equality, it’s supposedly part of Islam that all believers are equal, but I’m sure there are still issues. We’ve only got to look at the way moderate Muslims are treated by more traditional believers to see an example where an excuse is found not to treat each other as equals.

              1. Even notional improvements can be inspiring to people – think of the stuff in (say) the US constitution that took a while, but eventually was interpreted (if partially) to apply to more than white property owning males.

    3. In the embedded video, every time Nawaz asks one of the Muslim spokespeople a direct question — such as, “If the conditions specified by Sharia law are met, do you support stoning adulteresses?” — the first thing our of their mouths (instead of the straightforward yes-or-no answer called for) is some version of the Courtier’s Reply.

      Goes to show that, in the Sophisticated Theology barrel, once you’ve skimmed off the cream and ladled out the milk, the stuff left sitting there on barrel’s bottom is really scuzzy.

      1. Right. It is also pretty weaselly to claim Nawaz is not as thoroughly read as he should be when he’s a well read Muslim himself. The theologians are used to easily bullying non Muslims with that tactic.

  12. I have to say that the discovery that a cookie contains raisins rather than chocolate chips seriously distresses me.

    I was once mistakenly served a raisin cookie at a drive-through Starbucks. Had to return and sue … not only for loss of consortium with chocolate chips, but for reckless infliction of emotional distress, too.

    Those curses called down on Nawaz by the haters sure are scary. But they left out “May Mister Snuffleupagus sit on your head.”

  13. This is a very interesting web post: http://www.islam.gov.my/sites/default/files/apostasy_is_not_human_rights.pdf As far as I can tell, it is on an official website of the Malaysian government, and posted by an agency of that government. The basis argument of the paper is that if you deny Muslims the right to kill apostates, you are infringing on the rights of Muslims to practice their religion, since killing apostates is part of their religious beliefs. I am not kidding.

    1. It’s clear this document condemns the apostate in contrast to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Apostasy is not seen as an individual right because the public act of apostasy can undermine other Muslims and the Islamic society.

      ” At such time, the act of apostasy should not be seen from the angle of individual rights to change his religion, but from the aspect of the presence of “hirabah‟‟ element which is an attack on the fundamentals of
      religion that is the pillar of an Islamic government. Therefore, … should he remain defiant and insist to apostate,
      the end is a death penalty on the grounds of…”

  14. And in other news from the Savanorola Times, today Faisal Saeed al-Mutar had his news feed banned for 30 days by Facebook: I’ve already complained to them.

    I’ve been censored on fb by TellMama for my criticism of the transparency and methodology of their collection of statistics on anti-Muslim bigotry, as well as my criticism of some tenets of Islam: and they are supposed to be liberals! That’s the 2nd time I have been censored: the first time was by Great Britain United, whoever they are, some Muslim organization.

    Btw. always copy your comments to word and if they are deleted, write another post explaining that you have been censored and then copy and paste your original documents back up: it does make them look foolish and I find that the repeated comment is not subsequently deleted. Public shame is a powerful weapon.

    That’s what Maajid Nawaz faces: a culture and religion whose immediate reaction is to ban in the face of disagreement. Hard work. x

  15. “May Donald Trump speak very highly of you at his next campaign rally. ”

    I wouldn’t call that a *mild* threat… 🙁


    1. Or, “May you get spam emails from Bill O’Reilly”.

      (This actually happened to me today. In between the 50 russian women who want to f*&k [sic] me, offers of cheap Viagra presumably to assist with the above, and hundreds of genuine fake watches (!) to impress them with, was one from ‘Fox|ALERT’, ‘Bill O’Reilly Report – Obama’s Second Term is in Serious Trouble’. Wtf? I didn’t click on it.

      What did I do to deserve that? Or is it just the usual trojan-infested phishing clickbait?)


  16. “I have to say that the discovery that a cookie contains raisins rather than chocolate chips seriously distresses me.”


    I was also most amused by that, and I prefer raisins to chocolate.

  17. The Guy he’s talking to Choudry ,is a pain in the arse, he’s a Solicitor by profession, a profession he doesn’t practice, because he prefers to live off Benefits provided by the State he wishes to destroy and which allows him the freedom to spout his insane bullshit ! you couldn’t make it up !

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