SAN DIEGO, January 23, 2015 — We live in interesting times, and it is easy to move on to new stories and forget the old. The story that just ten days ago gripped international headlines has nearly vanished from the news: the 12 cartoonists and satirists who were gunned down by hooded attackers in the offices of Charlie Hebdo,
Charlie Hebdo is still a vitally important story, not just out of sympathy for France, but also because of the responses from President Obama and Pope Francis. As two of the most influential leaders in the world, their reactions are a cause for concern.
We don’t need to guess about the reason for the attack. The killers burst into the magazine offices shouting “Allah Akbar!” They did it to avenge their prophet. They were offended by cartoons of Mohammad.
World leaders responded by going to France to walk in solidarity against Islamic terrorism. But not Obama. He watched football.
He made his absence up to France by sending Secretary of State John Kerry a few days later with James Taylor, who treated an audience to an acoustic rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend.”
That should make France sleep better. The leader of the free world sent them a singer.
On the heels of the massacre, Obama, a master of bad timing, also released more prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. He did it even though it has been proven that many of these unshackled inmates return promptly to their Islamist cause.
Asked about the timing, the White House explained that Guantanamo only inspires more terrorism.
Guantanamo Bay is the inspiration of Islamic terror? Really?
Let the terrorists speak for themselves once in a while. During the Bush Administration, al Qaeda called upon the United States to “convert to Islam or suffer the consequences.” Their problem was that we won’t embrace their religion and give up our own way of life.
This conflict is not unique to the 21st century. There was no Guantanamo Bay prison when Muslims first set out to conquer the world in the 600’s.
Conquer. Whose idea was that?
The motivation came from the Koran, as dictated to Mohammad, he claimed, directly from an angel who spoke the words of Allah. Mohammad, the founder and prophet of Islam, not only taught Jihad; he carried out Jihad. He marched on and took Mecca, slaughtering those who opposed him, and his followers then exploded out onto the rest of the world.
The White House refuses to use the phrase “Islamic terrorist,” opting for the more general designation, “violent extremists.”
This is a useless description and should be retired. Let’s not mince words. The attackers were Muslims, and not fringe Muslims who hijacked a peaceful religion. They are not a majority of Muslims, but they remain real, honest-to-goodness Muslims who read what the Koran actually teaches and do what it commands.
There are many peaceful Muslims in the world, but like social Christians, they reinterpret very clear verses like those found in Surah 9 to suit themselves.
Terrorists, on the other hand, just read what it actually says:
“Prophet make war (“jihad,” actual word) on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home an evil fate. They swear by God that they said nothing yet they uttered the word of unbelief and renounced Islam after embracing it.”
When asked why Obama won’t use the word “Islam” in association with terrorism, a White House spokesperson said that our war is not against Muslim extremists alone, but against all extremists.
Extremism. What does that mean?
In April, 2009, shortly after Obama took office and took over the war on terror, Homeland Security issued a report called “Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. “
This report expanded the definition of those about whom our government should be concerned and mentioned a variety of causes that can potentially percolate into terrorism. These included those who “reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority,” or “rightwing extremists … antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues.”
Also mentioned were those Americans who might have “the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages,” those who “perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms,” and “individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion.”
Not everybody feels better about our freedoms being protected when we hear Obama talk less about those who have declared war on the American way of life and more about “extremism” in general.
But the president is in good company.
Pope Francis has also weighed in on the subject. He denounced the Paris shootings, but he did not take a stand for free speech in the process.
“You can’t provoke, you can’t insult the faith of others, you can’t make fun of faith,”
One can only hope that if asked to explain the context of his remark, Francis might alleviate some of the confusion.
He explained himself somewhat:
“Everyone has not only the freedom and the right but the obligation to say what he thinks for the common good … we have the right to have this freedom openly without offending.”
Both comments seem to say that we should refrain from speaking against another person’s religion if that person might take offense. Which Bible is Francis reading? The one with an Old and New Testament?
In the books of Moses, God clearly speaks against the religions in ancient Canaan, particularly the ones that sacrificed babies on the altar.
“Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD” (Lev. 18:21). And in Matthew 24, Jesus told us to beware of false prophets.
Many reading this column do not believe in either the claims of Jesus or Mohammed. That is your choice, but we are talking right now about freedom of speech and consistency. The Pope does believe in Jesus, including claims to Jesus’ divinity. The Koran clearly denies that Jesus is God.
We cannot accept both the Koran and the Bible at the same time. If Jesus was the Son of God, Mohammad is a false prophet. Muslims like hearing this as little as Christians like hearing things about Jesus that go against the testimony of the Bible.
People who parody, satirize and belittle Christ generally do not worry that a task force of nuns or pastors is going to gun them down.
Be that as it may, if Pope Francis believes it is wrong to speak against religions, he should challenge Muslims and the Koran’s anti-Semitic and anti-Christian statements.
“Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship will become one of their number. God does not guide the wrong doers” (Surah 5:51).
“The most implacable of men are the Jews and the pagans” Surah 5:82).
But why confuse people with actual facts? This isn’t about being factual or theological. Time to talk about what’s really going on here.
The purpose of a terror attack is to provoke fear and suppress freedom.
It’s working. From popes to presidents, it’s working.
We must still speak out regardless of what our mealy mouthed, politically correct president says and regardless of what a well-intentioned pope says.
Freedom of speech is to be cherished, any speech, whether it offends or not. If our forefathers thought speech would never be offensive, they would not have needed to protect it in our Constitution.
Even when ideas are inaccurate, people still have a right to process them and express them.
As it happens, calling Islam a violent religion is accurate, at least from its source: Jihad is commanded in the Koran
We don’t need to automatically make fun of Islam, but sometimes satire such as that found in magazines like Charlie Hebdo makes a point. As a Christian radio talk show host, I use satire often to challenge my fellow Christians in areas of error or hypocrisy. I have been very critical of the church in its many incarnations, from Catholic to Protestant to Evangelical to Fundamentalist.
I will also be critical of Islam should the occasion call for it, and lately the occasion calls for it quite often.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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