As details of the terror attack on Pamela Geller’s AFDI’s (American Freedom Defense Initiative) free speech rally in Garland, Texas unfolded this week, pundits on both the left and right of the American political spectrum once again failed to recognize the political agenda of Islamic doctrine and its sharp contrast to other religions. Although Christians are often accused of “forcing” their beliefs on non-believers there is nothing within Christian doctrine requiring non-believers to conform to Christian beliefs. Islam, however, is more than a religion. It is a worldview that insists on controlling the behavior of not only believers but the behavior of non-believers as well, crossing the proverbial line between “church and state” that atheists and others often accuse Christians of crossing.
Many commentators argued that the AFDI should not have held the event because the images offended peaceful Muslims or even our allies in countries such as Egypt or Jordan. These images were not displayed in a public setting where Muslim sensibilities could be damaged, but rather at a private event attended by those that chose and paid to attend. If such portrayals are deemed so offensive by peaceful Muslims that Americans are not allowed to hold private events that portray the prophet, then Muslims such as Omid Safi, director of the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University should also be condemned since Safi admits that he keeps an image of the prophet in his home.
These Western apologists for Islam failed to mention that the ban on art depicting the prophet Muhammad is not universal in the Muslim world. For instance in 2008 the Iranian government commissioned a five-story mural depicting Muhammad on the wall of an apartment building in Tehran. Those criticizing Geller also failed to mention that a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad riding on a horse appeared during the Arab Spring uprisings as street art became part of the revolution in Egypt.
Museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, contain historical depictions of Muhammad. The Museum’s website explains, “These portrayals, while somewhat rare, are not unheard of, as there were (and still are) many different attitudes toward depicting the prophet – and humans in general – in the Islamic world.” In fact, “An image of the Prophet Muhammad at the beginning of a book endows the volume with the highest form of blessing and sanctity. Thus, illustration of him was a common practice, particularly in the eastern regions of the Islamic world.” (Emphasis mine.)
Illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad that did not illicit violent protests and terror attacks are numerous. These images include full depictions of Muhammad, faceless images of Muhammad, European Medieval and Renaissance images of Muhammad by non-Muslims, and modern satirical cartoons of Muhammad. The dangerous Islamist idea that violence is justified whenever they are deeply offended by cartoons or art depicting Muhammad is one that has recently gained momentum as Western journalists and Islamic apologists have voluntarily surrendered to pressure from Islamist groups.
For this reason, AFDI’s decision to display images of the prophet Muhammad should be defended not condemned. Many commentators suggested Pamela Geller provoked the violence since she should have known that there could be a violent reaction to the Draw Muhammad rally. This is the same worldview that blames Western rape victims for provoking Muslim men to violence simply because they are wearing western clothing. What is next? Will those condemning Geller stand in agreement with Islamist extremists such as Shahid Mehdi in Copenhagen who stated that women who did not wear a headscarf were asking to be raped?! How far do we carry such appeasement?
As Christians, we are to strive to show the goodness and grace of our God as opposed to the rigid conformity sharia law requires by Allah. Although we certainly do not appreciate art or cartoons that depict Jesus negatively, we should understand those who portray Him this way simply do not understand our love for our God nor could they possibly understand the relationship we have with Him. We also know their portrayal does not change the love or nature of our God, and despite their ridicule our God’s love for them is unchanged by their actions.
Ultimately our heart is to introduce those who are spiritually trapped in a false religion and destructive worldview to a new way of living, to a new worldview, one that esteems lives and loves all, regardless of faith. This cannot be accomplished unless we in the United States aggressively defend and resolutely guard our right to free speech. Should we surrender to this false narrative that somehow Pamela Geller’s exercise of her freedom of speech incited the two terrorists’ attempt to harm those at the free speech rally then we are truly surrendering to Islamic sharia law through appeasement. We are, in fact, speeding down the slippery slope to Dhimmitude (the second-class status of non-Muslims living in an Islamic state).
The question should not be whether Geller was right or wrong to hold the event. The question for all Americans is “Are we going to stand tall for our right to free speech – even when it is offensive or are we going to give in to the Qur’an’s demands for supremacy over all other religions and governmental systems?” Today Islamists claim drawing a picture is blasphemy. What will we do as Christians when these same Islamists demand that churches no longer declare that Jesus Christ is the Son of God since that too is blasphemy in Islam?
Recently 25 schools in Birmingham, Britain became the focus of multiple investigations when reports of a plot by hardline Islamists to takeover state supported schools came to light. Birmingham, the second largest city in Britain with over one million residents has a Muslim population of approximately 22%. As news of the plot spread, investigators are also looking into new allegations of similar activities in other British cities including Bradford and Manchester.
The concerns stemmed when an undated and anonymous letter detailing a plot called “Operation Trojan Horse” surfaced last year. The letter revealed a plan by a group of organized Muslim teachers, school governors, and others to remove secular head teachers and staff and replace them with individuals who will run the schools according to Islamic principles. The letter claimed responsibility for changing the leadership in four schools, stating, “we have an obligation to our children to fulfill our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles.”
The letter was sent to the Birmingham City Council in November of 2013, but did not become public until March 2014 when it was leaked to a London-based newspaper. Since the letter has been made public, British authorities have received over 200 complaints from parents, teachers and school leaders about the imposition of strict Islamic practices in the publically funded schools.
An investigation by the Department of Education revealed that one of the schools under investigation, Park View, did practice forced discriminatory gender segregation in many classes with “boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides.” The school invited an extremist Islamic speaker, Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman to address an assembly of students. Al-Suleiman “is known to extol…the stoning of homosexuals, anti-Semitic views [and is] sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” The school is also accused of misusing taxpayers’ money to purchase loudspeakers for the playground to call students to Islamic prayers.
The curriculum in some schools was changed to adhere to Islamic values, and in at least one British school Arabic was compulsory for all students. After a non-Muslim head teacher was driven out by “a concerted campaign to remove her and Islamize her school,” Oldknow, holds Muslim prayers every Friday and has organized trips to Mecca at taxpayer expense. Considered un-Islamic, the school’s traditional Christmas tree and pantomime were cancelled in 2013. In addition, a teacher at the school led students in a chant mocking Christians who celebrate the holiday.
Britain is not the only European nation struggling with an attempt by Islamists to take over their publicly funded schools. According to German media reports, fundamental Islamic groups have infiltrated at least 25 schools in Hamburg, Germany. A leaked report to the German newspaper, Bild describes Muslim fundamentalists are “waging a religious war” against non-Muslim teachers and students. Schools are being pressured to set up Muslim prayer rooms, and one school reports that Muslim parents are being pressured by the more fundamentalist Muslims to make sure their daughters are dressing according to Islamic standards. The schools are also reporting students shouting Islamist slogans on school playgrounds and cases of religiously motivated violence.
Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, wrote, “The most important single element of stealth Islamization is the effort to convert Western schools from centers of secular education into hubs of Islamic indoctrination.” Because many Westerners naively embrace multiculturalism and do not understand the all-encompassing nature of Islam, our schools and ultimately our children are easy targets for the Islamist agenda.
Pray that the truth will continue to be revealed regarding the agenda of fundamental Islam in western nations.
The Cato Institute features an illuminating interactive map on their website labeled the Public Schooling Battle Map. This particular map marks conflicts within the American public schools from 2001 through 2013. Such conflicts include disagreements concerning curriculum, freedom of expression, human origins, moral values, reading material, and religion.
As the map illustrates, conflicts regarding the education of children are numerous and widespread. Of particular interest to Christians are conflicts regarding religion in schools. The map below spotlights those conflicts that are defined as, “disputes involving the presence of religion in schools, either through employees, students, or outside groups.”
Most of the disputes marked have occurred when schools and/or districts have disallowed elements of Christianity i.e. Christian prayer, Christian hymns sung during “holiday” programs, etc. The justification often cited for disallowing a Christian influence is the misapplication of the separation of church and state. There is, however, a double standard in the way religions are being handled in U.S. public schools. While Christianity’s influence is increasingly diminished within the public schools, Islam’s influence is escalating.
A glaring example of Islam’s favored status was reported by ESPN from a public high school in Dearborn, Michigan. In 2010, Ramadan, a month long time of daylight fasting observed worldwide by Muslims, happened to coincide with the beginning of football practice for the Fordson High School team. The team, winner of four state titles, after receiving “approval of school and district administrators and the blessings of players, parents and police” scheduled their practice sessions from 11 pm to 4 am so that Muslim players, who are allowed to eat and drink after sunset, could participate. The New York Times attempted to equate the religious accommodation for Muslims during Ramadan to Brigham Young University’s refusal to play athletic events on Sunday because of their religious convictions. However, this comparison fails to recognize the stark difference between a decision by a privately owned university and a publicly funded high school.
Accommodations for Muslim students are not only limited to the United States. Last April, The Guardian reported three quarters of the schools supported under the Waltham Forest Council (a school system in Britain) serve only halal meat despite the fact that Muslims only make up about 15% of the population of the area. Halal meat is slaughtered using Islamic standards including pronouncing the name of Allah during the slaughter. Only one school in the area serves both halal and non-halal meat. The schools that are serving halal meat to non-Muslim children report that the decision is based upon logistics since many school kitchens are not large enough to store and prepare two types of meat.
Valley Park Middle School in Toronto, Canada allows approximately 400 Muslim students to attend imam-led prayers in the school’s cafeteria. The 30-minute prayer service takes place every Friday from November to March – the months in the Islamic calendar when Islamic prayer times are during class times. The school agreed to the arrangement after large numbers of Muslim students were leaving on Friday afternoons to attend afternoon prayer at a local mosque, but then were not returning to school following the short prayer session. Imagine western school systems allowing Christian prayer sessions during Advent or Lent, which would certainly be equal treatment, but most likely meet with much opposition.
The prayer sessions began in 2008, and are currently still continuing. The sessions remained without scrutiny until July of 2011 when Muslim, Tarek Fatah, the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, raised objections to the treatment of young girls in the prayer sessions. The Toronto Sun quotes Fatah, “My concern is the Toronto District School Board (is) using tax money to tell girls they are second-class citizens.” The prayer sessions are set up in a traditional Islamic fashion with boys in the front and girls behind them. Strict Islamic tradition dictates that menstruating young women are considered unclean and are sent to the back of the room. Fatah is further quoted as saying, “It’s a fearful time for a young woman to get her first period, and right at that time you have this man (the Imam) telling them they are unclean. That should not happen in Canada.”
In November of 2011, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, host of “Shariah and Life” – a television program broadcast on Al Jazeera with an estimated audience of 60 million and chief religious scholar for IslamOnline, encouraged Muslims to adopt the concept of gradualism. Gradualism is the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages. Qaradawi wrote, “Gradualism is one of the laws of nature that Allah Almighty has created. It is also needed in applying the ruling of Shariah to make a change in people’s life.”
The greatest threat to western society is not through open war with Islamists, but through the gradual indoctrination of westerners. What may appear to someone who is not familiar with the teachings of Islam as an accommodation is actually a surrender of the freedom of thought and religion to a system that does not allow such freedom.
Prior to his arrest in August of 2013, Mohamed Badi, former Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide, outlined the six phases of the Brotherhood’s plans to rule the world:
- Sharia over the individual
- Sharia over the family
- Sharia over the society
- Sharia over the government
- Resurrection of the Caliphate
- Mastership of the world
When western public schools disallow Christian prayers and Christmas programs, yet embrace and encourage Islamic prayer and traditions, they are already operating under Islamic sharia law.
In the next few months Best Current News will be exploring other methods Islamists are using to subvert the hearts and minds of our greatest blessings – our children.