City of Brass

City of Brass

Cartoon controversies and radical imams

A number of articles have been written about Park51 that drew some manner of analogy to the Danish Cartoon controversy (or as Abu Aardvark called it, the Cartoon StupidStorm). But none have made such an insight into the parallel as Lawrence Wright at The New Yorker – his somewhat blandly titled piece may possibly be the single smartest thing, and arguably the only intelligent thing, said to date about Park51.

When a dozen cartoons satirizing the Prophet Mohammed appeared in the conservative Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, in September, 2005, there was only a muted outcry from the small Danish Muslim community, and little reaction in the rest of the Muslim world. Six months later, however, riots broke out and Danish embassies were burned; more than a hundred people died. Assassination threats were made, and continue to this day.


Last year, when plans were announced for Cordoba House, an Islamic community center to be built two blocks north of Ground Zero, few opposed them. The project was designed to promote moderate Islam and provide a bridge to other faiths. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Sufi cleric leading the effort, told the Times, in December, “We want to push back against the extremists.” In August, the Landmarks Preservation Commission granted Park51, as the center is now known, unanimous approval. A month later, it is the focus of a bitter quarrel about the place of Islam in our society.

The lessons of the Danish cartoon controversy serve as an ominous template for the current debate. One reason for the initial lack of reaction to the cartoons was that they were, essentially, innocuous. […]


So what happened? A group of radical imams in Denmark, led by Ahmed Abu Laban, an associate of Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an Egyptian terrorist organization, decided to use the cartoons to inflate their own importance. They showed the cartoons to various Muslim leaders in other countries, and included three illustrations that had not appeared in the Danish papers. One was a photograph of a man supposedly wearing a prayer cap and a pig mask, and imitating the Prophet. (He turned out to be a contestant in a French hog-calling competition). Another depicted a dog mounting a Muslim in prayer. The third was a drawing of the Prophet as a maddened pedophile gripping helpless children like dolls in either hand. The imams later claimed that these illustrations had been e-mailed to them as threats–although they never produced any proof that they hadn’t made the drawings themselves–and so were fair representations of European anti-Muslim sentiment. The leaders saw them and were inflamed. The Sunni scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi demanded a Day of Rage. So far, we have had five years of rage. […]


In the dispute over Park51, the role of the radical imams has been taken by bloggers and right-wing commentators. In this parable, Pamela Geller, who writes a blog called Atlas Shrugs and runs a group called Stop Islamization of America, plays the part of Ahmed Abu Laban. […]

Geller framed the argument for the New York Post, which added the false information that Park51 was going to open on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Deliberate misrepresentations of Imam Abdul Rauf as a supporter of terror further distorted the story, as it moved on to the Fox News commentariat and from there to political figures, such as Newt Gingrich, who compared Abdul Rauf and his supporters to Nazis desecrating the Holocaust Memorial Museum by their presence. These strident falsehoods have undoubtedly influenced the two-thirds of Americans who now oppose Park51.


The entire article is worth a read in full, as Wright moves on from Geller and indicts other radical imams of Islamophobia with more parallels to the Stupidstorm. It’s also worth reading Abu Aardvark’s old essay on the StupidStorm, because so much of what he says therein is frighteningly applicable to the Park51 fracas – including, I might add, this observation:

The only bright side is that voices of reason are beginning to assert themselves in the Arab media, even if they may be having trouble getting traction in the hyper-politicized environment. I’ve seen at least a dozen op-eds in the last few days saying some variation of “shame on you for offending the Prophet, but shame on Muslims for reacting as they did.” A lot of ordinary Muslims – not extremists – are genuinely upset about this, and their legitimate anger should not be conflated with the manufactured “rage” of the extremists.


The PR team at Park51 need to keep that in mind, so as not to fan the flames being started by the radical imams like Pamela Geller even further.

I’ve already vowed not to comment on Park51 further, but this essay was so good I had to at least link – and now it basically has rendered moot any further commentary, by anyone.

(h/t freetoken at LGF)

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posted September 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Excellent post, Aziz. I like this from Abu Aardvark’s piece:
“So far this controversy is running according to script: strengthening extremists on both sides and silencing the middle, creating a clash of civilizations that shouldn’t exist and making a mockery of reasonable public discourse. And that, my friends, is a StupidStorm. Can voices of reason break through?”
Good question. Thanks for the quote and link from Lawrence Wright. Wright is right. BTW, did you see the excellent piece by Akbar Ahmed in Foreign Policy: “Inside America’s Mosques”?,0

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posted September 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Abu Pokemon

posted September 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Excellent article Aziz. Lets hope and pray that people on all sides exercise more restraint and the voice of reason win in the end.

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Anan E. Maus

posted September 16, 2010 at 6:20 am

I certainly believe in the right to religious freedom. And I certainly believe that Islam is a true path to God.
But I am not sure I believe that having this mosque in proximity to Ground Zero is such a great idea. It is probably too late to change direction now. And the imam of that center believes that removing the mosque will inflame matters even worse.
I think that every decent Muslim leader needs to start making overt, strong statements, in direct opposition to terrorism, to violence and to all manner of racial hatred against Jews.
Racial hatred of Jews is still widespread in the textbooks of children. This must end.
The way to defeat extremism is for the voice of goodness to manifest itself. It is not enough to simply preach the teachings of Mohammad and hope that message is received as compassion and not violence. The community of the good and decent people of Islam need to directly oppose the activities of the extremists.
I don’t think Islam has any duty to surrender to the greed, materialism and debasement of spirituality embodied in the West. But I do think Islam needs to directly oppose the violence embodied by the extremists. Imams need to lead their congregants away from all manner of hatred…overtly and directly.
We need to hear the voices of peace shouting louder than the voices of violence.

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posted September 16, 2010 at 10:39 am

Speaking of cartoons, this link comes via Andrew Sullivan:
I agree completely with Anan E. Maus about the way to defeat extremism. Akbar Ahmed’s article about American mosques, which I linked to above, describes the diversity of American mosques, without pulling any punches about the conflicts within moderates and Islamists in America. Defending freedom of religion and freedom of speech go together. Illiberal forms of Islam, such as practiced by those who threaten the life of cartoonist Molly Norris, need to be opposed with the same fervor that we use to oppose those who propose burning the Quran.

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Hicham Maged

posted September 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

quoting “In the dispute over Park51, the role of the radical imams has been taken by bloggers and right-wing commentators”
This is an insightful conclusion that helped me in understanding some points that were not clear for me. Among of them was the sudden appearance for this issue before 9/11 with few months as while exploring the background of the project, I found it returns back to the last year (2009)

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posted September 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm

In your opinion is Hamas a terrorist organization?
What are your thoughts on Sharia Law?

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Aziz Poonawalla

posted September 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Andy, I invite you to explore my extensive archives here at City of Brass on Beliefnet (just search for “Hamas” on the search bar) or at the older archives of the previous incarnation of the blog at for plenty of information about my views on Hamas and Shari’a. I will expect you to do due dilgence before engaging you in further conversation.

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posted September 19, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Due to the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, America has woken up to the evil of Islam. Now that the sleepy dog has woke, it is important to emphasize that this battle is an ideological one against Islam and not a physical or personal one against “Muslims.”
Ever since 9/11, this issue has been greatly and purposely confused. Islam apologists in particular constantly confuse it. They have long accused anyone critical of Islam as being a racist. They now commonly accuse those critical of Islam of being “Islamaphobic.” This obviously parallels words such as “homophobic,” a clear accusation of bigotry. They frequently smear those critical of Islam as wanting some type of mass genocide against Muslims. Those of us who have been criticizing Islam since shortly after 9/11 have had to constantly thwart this accusation and remind others that Islam is an idea, not a race of people, and all ideas can and should be subject to criticism. A critique of Islam does not necessitate an advocacy to kill all Muslims any more than criticizing Christianity necessitates an advocacy to kill all Christians.
Now that it is becoming more socially acceptable to criticize Islam, some Islam critics are now making the battle to be one against Muslim themselves. There have been sweeping broad generalizations about what all Muslims are like. The usual accusation is that they are all savage. There have been calls to ban all Muslim immigration. There have been sentiments to completely destroy Muslim countries for the moderate Muslims’ silence can be taken as compliance with Islamic dictatorship or terrorism.
Let me make it clear, again: This is an ideological battle against Islam, not Muslims, to be had in the forum of public debate.
To be sure, Islam is a violent religion. The Koran, if you read it, will shock you. Many say all religions are violent. Please, please, read the Koran. It is not just a matter of stories of Allah killing specific infidels. The entire Koran, from front to end, is dedicated to professing the goodness of believers and the evilness of infidels. Infidels are called stupid, blind, thankless, and liars. Allah hates them and will send them to Hell where they will choke on food, have boiling water poured on their head, and have no friends. There are clear calls to fight against them; take their houses; and force them to convert, live in dhimmitude, or be killed. It’s not just a few verses here or there. It is a very clear burning hatred for infidels through and through.
Of course I realize that a “Muslim” is a person who follows the Koran. So isn’t a Muslim by definition a violent person as outlined in the Koran? Well it is not that simple.
The problem is there are too many people who self identify themselves as a Muslim while having no clue or total indifference to what is in the Koran.
Let’s thus divide Muslims into two different categories. The first type has studied the Koran intently, pondered upon it, and allowed it to be the guiding force in their lives. This person, necessarily, will either become a terrorist or at least support terrorism. The second type of Muslim is one who self identifies themselves as a Muslim but is either ignorant or indifferent to what is in the Koran. Most describe the former as a fundamentalist and the latter as a moderate.
Why would a person self identify themselves as a Muslim without having read or accepted the Koran? There are a few reasons.
One is they are illiterate and can’t read. This is the situation of the majority of Muslims. Different sources report between 60-80% illiteracy rates among Muslims. Mohammed himself was illiterate. These Muslims are thus ignorant of their religion and can only rely on what people tell them. This is something the Muslim leaders want. The illiterate Muslims often get told that theirs is a religion of peace that respects women’s rights!
The next situation is that they are literate but they just plain haven’t read the Koran. Most people, anywhere, just accept the current culture of their time. If one is born into a family that is mostly Muslim, they are very likely to also call themselves Muslim. Indeed, many Muslims see their Muslim nature as tied to their blood. One man I talked to still called himself a Muslim even though he said he was agnostic! He told me, “I can’t help how I was born.” Being a Muslim of course is a choice but that’s not how they see it.
The final situation is that they are literate, do read the Koran, but through some amazing mental acrobatics, decide to reject or evade the bulk of the Koran.
The main issue is that there are many self-identified Muslims who are decent people. To say that these people are our enemy would be erroneous.
To be sure, if any Muslim does take the Koran seriously and becomes a terrorist, they are an enemy. Their violence is to be met with violence. But until any “Muslim” becomes violent, verbally states intended violence, or sympathizes with violence, they are not the enemy.
A physical battle against Muslims would be a gigantic waste of resources. It would quickly turn into the situation of the Crusades. Islamic terrorism should be fought militarily. Islam itself must be fight ideologically only.
Broad generalizations about Muslims, i.e., attacking them personally, is a non-starter, comes across as bigotry, and is counter-productive to the cause of convincing others that Islam is evil. Most people know someone who is a self-identified Muslim and is a decent person. If you attack “Muslims” instead of Islam, most will remember this decent person who was a Muslim and simply assume you are a bigot. (I will discuss in Part II how any self-identified Muslim can become a decent person.)
These “watered-down” Muslims are the very ones who need to hear that Islam is evil. They need to be shown what their religion actually says. Lumping them altogether into one monolithic group and making derogatory statements about them does not aid in that.
There are some situations in which individual attention is not possible and statistics should guide our behavior. For instance, for airport security, due to the risk assessment of a person, people of Islamic countries should be screened more vigorously than an elderly Western woman.
Similarly, our immigration policy should not outright ban Muslim immigration but certainly, after 9/11, Islamic countries should have been given lower preference on our priority list. But this should be based on their nationality not religious preference.
Both of these measures are perfectly rational and should not be confused with bigotry.
The accusation of racism has long been a thug tactic to silence opposition. It is certainly alive and well in the debate about Islam. But this tactic only has power because people are decent people. They aren’t racists and don’t want to be accused of it, and they will go out of their way to show they are not. In this way, if a person does make it a battle against Muslims instead of Islam, I notice they very rarely have to endure accusations of racism. The person who is racist does not have to endure the attacks but the person who is not racist does. I believe this is because as soon as someone has declared their bigotry, clearly the accusation of racism has no effect. This shows that the accusation is done indeed for effect. It is not a genuine accusation. As soon as it has no effect, the accusation disappears.
However, as a decent person, I ask you to remember: the battle is against Islam not Muslims.
September 19, 2010
Amber Pawlik

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posted September 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Most Westerners seem to believe that what will save us from radical Islam is moderate Islam. Being opposed to Islam itself would be too mean. You see, we Americans want Muslims to have their religion. We totally adore that they dress differently and have unique religious practices. Just please leave the terrorism at the door. If Muslims could just design a new variant of Islam that is terrorism-free, then the entire world would be happy.
This position comes utterly naturally to Westerners due to the way they view their own religion. The dominant religion in the west is Christianity. Most Westerners however are quite secular. But since Christianity is popular and few want to be unpopular, they self identify themselves as Christian. Meanwhile, they do not go to church, read the Bible, or live their life as a Christian. Thus they want Muslims to be Muslim in the same way they are Christian: in name only.
It is true that there are many people who self identify themselves as Muslim who are very decent people. Many are smart, loyal, caring, even patriotic! There are charismatic Muslim characters on television such as Abed from Community. Most seem to agree that Muslims in America are different than Muslims elsewhere in the world. This article seeks to explain how a Muslim becomes a decent person and why they are particularly decent in America.
First, it needs to be stated: Islam is a violent religion. There is nothing of redeemable value in it. Mohammed was a psychopathic warlord who raped women, murdered people, and ordered others to murder people. The Koran outlines how Mohammed’s wife did not want him to sleep with (read: rape) a slave he owned, but he told her Allah told him he was allowed. Hence to hell with his wife’s wishes! Islam was one gigantic excuse for Mohammed to do what he wanted in the name of religion. The Koran itself is one long vitriolic speech against infidels. Over and over again, believers are described as good while infidels are evil. There are clear calls to fight against infidels (not just historical stories of how infidels were killed) until they either convert; live as second class citizens; or are killed. The Koran makes it clear that the world is to be “all of God’s.”
No amount of watering this down will make a person good. At best, a person can evade, deny, or not listen to what is written in the Koran. But to make a person actually decent, they must have been influenced by some other, better, more rational philosophy.
I want to take a look at two men I knew, both very decent human beings, who were Muslim.
One was a retired U.S. Marine Officer. Like all retired Marine Officers I know, he was larger than life in every way. When they get out of the Marine Corps, many Marines’ exercise habits change but their eating habits often do not. Thus, they are round. They are not amorphously overweight like some are but round. His voice was loud and bellowing. You could hear him from several doors down the hall. He was extraordinarily extroverted and humorous. As far as how he treated his wife, I did not know him very well personally, but I do know he instructed his sons not to forget her on Valentine’s Day.
The other I only knew at a surface level. He was a boy, about 15 or 16, who was being awarded his Eagle Scout. An Eagle Scout is the highest merit in the Boy Scouts. I only attended the ceremony, but he was one of the few Scouts to give a speech due to his exceptional performance. His speech was endearing and his family seemed nice. Grandma had a head scarf on but mom and granddaughters did not.
Both of these men are not just decent but good men. But please notice something about both of them: they were influenced by another, better philosophy.
The retired Marine officer was obviously influenced by the Marine Corps. Marines have superb values, if not the best values. The Marine Corps is widely regarded as the branch of military service that holds itself to the highest standards. I have worked with Marines and I can attest that the idea that they are “strong but stupid” is total crap. They are bright, listen to what you say, and reliable. The Marine Corps is smaller than the other services so Marines have to do a lot with a little. This scrappiness begets initiative, independent thought, and creativity.
The boy was influenced by the values cultivated in the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts are an extraordinary organization. They seek to give young men good values. They raise men to not only be courteous and friendly but also heroes by giving them real skills to deal with challenges in life effectively (such as reading a map, tying a knot, etc.). The Boy Scout Law is that, “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.” The Boy Scout motto is to “Be Prepared.” These are wholesome, decent, and good values.
These men are good men because of the values they adopted into their life and lived—values cultivated by healthy organizations such as the Marine Corps and the Boy Scouts, not Islam. People are influenced by a wide variety of philosophies and the sum of their character cannot be summarized so simply as a sliding scale of moderate to extremist. Indeed, there was nothing “moderate” about either of the men. They were both exceptional in what they did. The boy in particular was extremely excellent for he received high commendations at the ceremony.
Similarly, nearly every accomplishment from the Muslim world was due to the influence of another, better philosophy. Take for instance that certain contributions in Algebra are accredited to Muslims. But the person who did this was Iranian. Another person usually referenced when naming Muslim achievement is a man named Razi. Razi made contributions in medicine, alchemy, music, and philosophy. Razi was also Iranian. He was so hostile to Islam that he actually wrote books denouncing faith.
The reason that they are Iranians is important is because the Iranians have a long history that values education and tolerance. It was this cultural influence that created these men who were capable of great achievements. Islam, a violent cult, simply cannot.
A similar Aristotelian influence impacted the Muslim world from about 700 – 1200 AD.
It seems by “moderate” what people really mean is “peaceful.” And “extremist” means “violent.” But if this is what they mean, why not define it as such? Nothing about “moderation” implies “peace.” By begging for a “moderate” Islam, really what they want is an Islam that does not take specifically the Koran so extremely, thereby admitting that the Koran is violent. The language is sloppy and effectively negates the fact that other, better philosophies cause people to be peaceful not simply “moderation.”
It seems to be widely accepted that Muslims in America are much more decent people than Muslims elsewhere in the world. I propose this is for two reasons: freedom of religion and economic opportunity.
It makes a huge difference if a person is Muslim or not if they are forced into it or not. Muslim countries force people to wear Muslim dress, parents must name their children with Arabic names (the language of Mohammed), etc. Islam in fact can only thrive under this situation: where it is forced. If they don’t have to incorporate Islam into their lives, a person is far more likely to turn from it completely or almost completely. Indeed, many new Muslim immigrants to America may wear Muslim dress but second and third generations typically do not.
There is something else in America however that allows Muslims to assimilate, whereas in almost every other country they do not. In America, they have upwards economic mobility. If they work hard and/or go to school, they can make something of themselves. It doesn’t very long to realize that working hard and getting a nice house, car, etc., beats living in squander praying to Allah 5 times a day. Most other countries do not have this. For instance, France is developing a “Muslim problem.” Muslims riot in the streets; vandalize stores; etc. France does not have upwards economic mobility. Most of Europe is comprised of gigantic “good old boys’ clubs” (which are frequently comprised of women) where entering them requires you know someone. As such, Muslims remain poor.
A moderate Islam is not the answer. A moderate Muslim is one who simply does not take the Koran very seriously. These people are not our enemy but they are not our hope either. Moderate Muslims have been notoriously silent. Of the ones who are verbal, they fully admit that the Koran is violent. Moderate Muslims are simply ones who ignore or evade the Koran. When other Muslims commit violence in the name of Islam, how will the moderate Muslims know if they are being true to Islam or not? They have no idea.
If Islam is to be tamed, we cannot just water it down. It must be met by an equally strong or stronger, better philosophy. To remove the threat of Islamic terrorism, Islam must be intellectually discredited. In its place must be an enlightened philosophy: one that advocates reason, freedom, and a strong and decent morality.

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Eric K

posted September 20, 2010 at 11:56 am

“Without truth, evil becomes not merely undefined, but undefinable.”

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Doug Ison

posted September 21, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Aziz I applaud you for your forum of reason and reality. It is sad that truth in the beginning is always over shadowed by those more intent on pursuing their own cause than those who pursue with patience and diligence the truth. Since the beginning the truth has been distorted by waves of deceit and lies, but the truth will prevail and for us to resist the evil in this world by revealing the deception, turning on the light of the truth. Soon the darkness and ignorance of men will be overcome and we’ll all stand before Allah. says: Allah (Arabic: ????? All?h, IPA: [?al????h] ( listen)) is the standard Arabic name for God.[1] While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by Arabs of all Abrahamic faiths, including Mizrahi Jews, Bahá’ís and Eastern Orthodox Christians, in reference to God

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posted September 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

You know, I have been listening and observing the controversy over the religion of Islam. As a supposedly enlightened people of tolerance and religious freedom it still amazes me that Islam is considered an evil religion. And why is that? Because of a few radical sects that interpet the religion for their own idealogical reasons. It’s easy to hate and every religion in the world has its detractors. The catholic religion has killed more people than all the wars ever fought in this world. They have aided in the annihilation of countless peoples around the world through the guise of bringing people to Christ. They benefitted from the holocaust, stealing billions of dollars from the slaughtered jews in Germany. Yet they are not considered evil. Their priest molest children and yet their followers continue to support this institution. Now, I realize that religion, in any form, is designed for one purpose, to bring man closer to his God, whoever he feels that is, and to enlightened and enrich his life and the lives of those he loves and humanity as a whole. Every religion has had its periods in which it has sought to justify its cruelity and avarice in the name of its God. Does that make it inherently evil? I think not. Religions are made of men, and men sometimes think that their only option for compliance to an idea, opinion, or rule is to force those to whom they are trying to convince by coercion, threats, or intimidation. If we look at history it is easy to find myriad instances where religion, for the sake of and in the name of, has committed atrocities against it own and others for the sake of some ideaology. Mormans, baptist, catholics, judaism, buddhism, they all have their detractors and good and bad aspects of what we call religion. Is it bad or evil? Or is it that blind unquestioning faith is evil? Would a true God want us not to question the leaders of our faith when our own moral clock is saying to us that this is not what God means or wants. If God is about love and peace, why would you follow a leader who advocates hate and destruction. No, it is not, nor never has been the religion that is evil, but those who choose to interpet that religion for their own purposes. The real evil is in those who choose to follow that path in some misguided hope of redemption. That God would reward them for the atrocities that they have purpetrated on this earth in the name of him. That is where the evil lies.

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Teed Rockwell

posted September 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Amber Mawlik exhibits a remarkable mix of thoughtfulness and narrow-mindedness. There is really only one thing that can be said in response to it. I have read the Koran carefully, as a non-Muslim, and I don’t interpret it the way you interpret it. I also know many people who have read the Koran carefully, far more carefully than I have, who have built their lives around it and who are humane and decent people. These people have not been influenced by either the Marines or the Boy scouts or any other Western influences. They were raised as Muslims in Muslim countries. From this I conclude that your interpretation of the Koran is not the only possible one, and therefore your insistence that all Muslims must convert is unfounded.
I can also point out, as many people already have, that there are things equally bad in the religious texts of other religions. Abraham and Jacob had sex with their slave girls. The books of Joshua and Esther approvingly describe mass murders of other tribes that were actually carried out, not just urged. Jews read the book of Esther every year at Purim, and cheer this slaughter. St. Paul defends slavery. The Marines killed innocent people in Vietnam, and the Boy Scouts are homophobic. None of these facts stop these groups from providing a wholesome spiritual and ethical life for their adherents.
I think your problem is that you have read the Koran out of context, an easy thing to do because it provides almost no context of its own. You must remember that Muhammad was leading a community that was under constant threat of physical annihilation from tribes that were Jewish, Pagan and Christian. This is why there are more calls for arms in the Koran proportionally than in many other sacred texts. The calls to “kill the Jews etc.” are references to those particular Jewish tribes, not to all Jews. These calls for violence are also repeatedly qualified by statements that those who make treaties and refrain from violence should not be attacked.
My feeling about Islam is exactly the opposite of yours. I think that if the Koran and Hadith were read more carefully, Islamoid extremism would be revealed to be without foundation. What exactly do you gain with your interpretation? Why are you so sure that there is only one interpretation, and that you know what it is? You may say that you don’t want to discriminate against Muslims, only against the Koran. There are many people who say they have no problems with mosques in America, as long as they are not near ground zero. But if they take a look at the people standing next to them, they will see signs that say “no mosque anywhere!”. Beware the company you keep, and don’t think you can stop the damage you are doing by making fine grained distinctions that no one will notice in the heat of conflict.

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