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Monday, November 23, 2009

Islam: How Threatened are We by the "Religion of Peace?"

I've been doing a lot of research on Islam lately because of the connections between an Islamic mosque in Falls Church, VA known as a hotbed of terrorism and an Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) network started in my diocese by a couple of liberal priests that includes the mosque and a number of "progressive" jewish and protestant churches. In the process I also got in the middle of a somewhat contentious discussion about Islam on an email list at my parish church.

What I'm finding is that there are plenty of folks out there claiming to stand for one thing who may actually stand for another. How does one separate truth from propaganda?

Let me give a specific example. One of the liberal priests running the IAF affiliate which is called VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement) organized an interfaith discussion with an imam, a priest, and a rabbi ostensibly to increase understanding. I didn't go. Since I can't trust the priest and I know he's connected to the radical mosque and progressive jewish, I suspect the meeting is biased from the git-go, so why waste my time making the nearly four hour round trip? Not interested.

Someone who did go recommended a book by John L. Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. Esposito teaches at Georgetown (another place that can't be trusted.) where he is the Director of the Saudi-financed Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding which was founded at Georgetown in 1993 and has received $20 million from the Saudi prince for whom it is named. Now what does the prince expect to get for his hunk of change, one wonders? Would one expect a group financed by Stalin to be a heavy critic of communism?

Last year, Congressman Frank Wolf asked for an investigation into how the money was being spent. It is especially problematic in view of the fact that Georgetown trains many foreign service officers.

According to an article by the Investigative Project:
Wolf's letter seeks assurances the Georgetown center "maintains the impartiality and integrity of scholarship that befits so distinguished a university as Georgetown." He then asks whether:

• "the center has produced any analysis critical of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for example, in the fields of human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, women's rights, minority rights, protection for foreign workers, due process and the rule of law."

• "the center has examined Saudi links to extremism and terrorism, including the relationship between Saudi public education and the Kingdom-supported clerical establishment, on the one hand, and the rise of anti-American attitudes, extremism and violence in the Muslim world, on the other."

• "the center has examined or produced any critical study of the controversial religious textbooks produced by the government of Saudi Arabia that have been cited by the State Department, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and non-governmental groups for propagating extreme intolerance."

• "any of the Saudi-sourced finds have been used in the training, briefing or education of those going into or currently employed by the U.S. government.

The article raises serious questions about Esposito's neutrality which are brought into further question by an article at Progressive Conservative USA which described a speech given by Esposito at Stanford in February 2008. Esposito appears to have his own ax to grind and if I read his book it will be with a healthy dose of skepticism.

I'm in the process of reading two other books on Islam: Londonistan by Melanie Phillips, a columnist for London's Daily Mail writing about the growth of Islamic extremism in Great Britain among native born british Muslims and Infiltration by Paul Sperry with the subtitle, How Muslim Spies and Subersives Have Penetrated Washington. I'm mindful of the fact that Phillips is Jewish which may color her views on the subject. But I'm afraid that what may be the most dangerous these days is a naive trust. Islam failed to overrun Europe in the middle ages due to the first crusade. The United States may not be so fortunate.

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