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From 1776 To 2007
There was a very important new declaration of independence last week -- issued in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the Secular Islam Summit. Signatories include a couple of my heroes, Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Here's the current list of endorsers, plus a little biographical info I've linked to on each of them:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Magdi Allam
Mithal Al-Alusi
Shaker Al-Nabulsi
Nonie Darwish
Afshin Ellian
Tawfik Hamid
Shahriar Kabir
Hasan Mahmud
Wafa Sultan
Amir Taheri
Ibn Warraq
Manda Zand Ervin
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

Robert Spencer, in FrontPageMagazine, calls this declaration "the most comprehensive and forthright statement of Islamic reform anyone has yet managed to come up with":

Confronting directly the elements of Islamic Sharia law that are at variance with otherwise generally accepted principles of human rights, it affirms “the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience,” in contrast to the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s dictum, “If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him” (Bukhari 4.52.260), and calls upon governments to “oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy.” It declares, “We believe in the equality of all human persons,” cutting against the Qur’anic observation that non-Muslims are the “the worst of created beings” (98:6) and that “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves” (48:29).

Challenging the jihadist aspirations to establish a unified Islamic state under the rule of Sharia, the Declaration states: “We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights…. We call on the governments of the world to reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms…”

Anticipating criticism, the Declaration adds: “We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called ‘Islamaphobia’ in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.”

Problems with that, anyone? But, of course! There's CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations; or, perhaps we should refer to them as Investor's Business Daily does, as "the PR machine of militant Islam." Spencer continues his piece with a few words from huffy CAIR spokesdrone, Ahmed Bedier:

“In order to have legitimate reform, you need to have the right messengers.” In an editorial, Investor’s Business Daily gave the perfect response to this: “And who might that be? The four CAIR executives who have been successfully prosecuted on terrorism-related charges? The CAIR co-founder who said the Quran should replace the U.S. Constitution as ‘the highest authority in America’?”

Oops! So what's CAIR really about, anyway? To twist a little Aristotle, it seems inaction is character. Spencer asks about CAIR:

Shouldn’t a dedicated and sincere group of Islamic moderates jump at the chance to go on record opposing “all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy,” as well as opposing “female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage”?

Shouldn’t CAIR gladly and without hesitation endorse a statement calling for protection of “sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence” and the elimination of “sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims”? Isn’t CAIR dedicated to protecting “civil liberties”? And as for the developing of “an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation,” wouldn’t such a public atmosphere help CAIR “encourage dialogue” and “build coalitions”?

What’s not to like? CAIR need not worry that endorsing the St. Petersburg Declaration will lead anyone to think they are associated with the “neoconservatives” behind the Summit. But such an endorsement would go a long way toward reassuring people that CAIR is indeed what it presents itself to be, and not a group whose goals are, in fact, quite different from those of the St. Petersburg Declaration.

Posted by aalkon at March 13, 2007 11:28 AM

Comments

Usually in a conflict, the aggressor sets the rules of engagement. If radical Islam wants to kill us, we need to kill them.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 13, 2007 4:54 AM

Just following up an earlier related thread: Rahan Arshad convicted of battering his wife and children to death, after he found she was having an affair. He is described as a strict Muslim.


I guess the children were just guilty of existing.

Posted by: Norman at March 13, 2007 8:03 AM

That's quite a story, Norman. You kinda wonder why, if he was going to be so masculine about it, he didn't confront the guy who was, y'know, banging his wife... instead of pummeling his own flesh and blood to death.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2007 9:15 AM

That is quite a story. He was a taxi driver, but left a BMW at the airport. He bought the tickets out of country 2 weeks in advance.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 13, 2007 9:55 AM

Actually I don't think his being Muslim has anything to do with it: "irate father murders family" is a horribly common story.

Posted by: Norman at March 13, 2007 11:06 AM

Well, you noted that he was described as a "strict Muslim," which is probably worth noting. After two weeks of planning to kill your family, it's difficult to defend you as "irate"; it was an arranged wedding and an arranged murder, and I'd wager there's a theme at work.

Posted by: Crid at March 13, 2007 11:16 AM

I started seeing CAIR as a bunch of Muslim Goebbels when they blamed embassy burnings on twelve Danish pencilers instead of mobs of Arabs with torches and gas.

Oddly enough, this is probably the same time I became aware of CAIR's existence.

Posted by: Steve at March 13, 2007 11:57 AM

You've got to be kidding Norman.
Where are the "irate father murders family" stories I'm missing?
This has everything to do with Islamic tribal honor.

Posted by: Jon at March 13, 2007 12:05 PM

Well, CAIR does have connections to the Holy Land Foundation charities that are currently under a DOJ investigation for being a terrorist front group. Also, in 2006, four CAIR officials were indicted on terrorist related offenses. They also have a history of doctoring photos and reporting fake statistics about the population numbers of Muslims in the USA.

Let us not forget the current convicted CAIR members:

1. Rabih Haddad, CAIR fundraiser charged and deported for close associations with Global Relief Association, a front group for Al Qaeda.
2. Ghassen Elashi, board member and co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation. He was convicted on 21 counts of fundraising for terrorist groups, mainly Hamas.
3. Bassem Khafagi, director of community relations and co-founder of the Islamic Assembly of North America, he was charged for fundraising for various terrorist groups, plead guilty and was deported to Egypt.
4. Randall "Ismail" Royer, civil rights community coordinator was arrested along with 10 other men as members of a Virginia jihad group and indicted on 41 counts concerning training and participating in jihad activities overseas. The cell was connected to the Lashkar-e-Toiba* terrorist group. 4 of the 10 men plead guilty. The remaining 7 were re-indicted on 32 more counts dealing with material support for the Taliban and A.Q. Royer was convicted and sentenced to 20 years.

*Pakistani based terrorist group in Kashmir.

Posted by: Joe at March 13, 2007 1:12 PM

"Randall "Ismail" Royer, civil rights community coordinator..."

Nice title.

They know how to play the game.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 13, 2007 8:58 PM

Where are the "irate father murders family" stories I'm missing?


I googled the BBC website (+site:bbc.co.uk) and counted the hits for various stories. Here they are, in descending order:


  1. murder - 903,000

  2. osama bin laden - 400,000

  3. twins - 303,000

  4. plane crash: 20,900

  5. man murders wife - 20,400

  6. suicide bomber - 29,800

  7. mother murders children - 28,900

  8. father murders children - 14,800

  9. wife murders husband - 6,920

  10. cancer cure - 5,790

  11. triplets - 2,210

  12. quadruplets - 114


I made up search texts at random. The search text was not in quotes. The hits are not all relevant, of course - but many of them are. Comparison is not that easy. Suicide bombers are international stories, infanticide is not.


You might argue that unusual events have more hits precisely because they are unusual, and therefore more newsworthy. The figures for twins, triplets and quadruplets can be used to test this, because we know the actual frequency multiple births. Appendix D of this paper gives figures per million pregnancies:


  1. twins - 12,500

  2. triplets - 109

  3. quadruplets - 1.7


If the total hits (303,000+2,210+114) is divided in the same ratio as actual births, you get: twins 302,644; triplets 2,639; quadruplets: 41. These are close to the actual hits. I think this is good evidence that number of hits is a reasonable measure of the number of events, if other factors are equal.


"Father murders children" is not a particularly rare event. In fact, probably more people are murdered by their father than are killed by suicide bombers, if you take the locality of the story into account.

Posted by: Norman at March 14, 2007 2:19 AM

Interesting analysis, Norman. I think it is misleading in a couple ways.

I quickly scanned some stats for England: in 2003 there were approx. 1000 homicides, around 50 being children killed by family members, so about a 5% rate. From your stats:

# murder - 903,000

# mother murders children - 28,900

# father murders children - 14,800

So the 5% rule seems reflected in your stats, but I'm suspicious about twice as many kids being killed by the mother.

I don't think 5% translates to "horribly common".

Posted by: doombuggy at March 14, 2007 8:36 AM

There are times you tell a story with a sensitivity to its importance that contrasts wonderfully with the run-of-the-mill.
"The child is father of the man" has many analogies.
You know that.

Posted by: opit at March 14, 2007 8:57 PM

Opit-


I don't understand what you're trying to say. Could you re-phrase?

Posted by: Norman at March 15, 2007 4:49 AM

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