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CAIR's Spin Guide By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, December 12, 2007


As part of its ongoing campaign to make sure you learn about Islam only what it wants you to learn, the notorious Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued a new media guide – available only to "media professionals" – that purports to "educate the media and disabuse journalists of misinformation" about Islam. The notorious Islamic advocacy group, which has seen several of its officials convicted on various terrorism-related charges, and which was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror funding case, asserts that "common misperceptions in the media include the notion that Islam is not compatible with democracy or modern culture, that the Quran teaches violence, that Muslims around the world hate the US, that Islam does not respect women’s rights, and that all Muslims are Arab." The media guide itself claims to correct other "misperceptions" also, including the idea that Islam doesn’t value religious freedom (which will come as a surprise to Abdul Rahman, the Afghani who was arrested in 2005 for converting from Islam to Christianity) and that Islam was spread by the sword.

Where could such misperceptions have come from? Could the media have gotten the idea that Islam is not compatible with democracy from the Ansar al-Sunnah Army in Iraq, which stated that democracy "is considered apostasy and defies the belief in one God — Muslims’ doctrine," because it means "the rule of the people, which means that the people do what they see fit"? Or maybe from Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, who said in 2006 that the devil uses concepts "such as liberty and democracy to achieve his plans"? Or was it from Usman Badar, president of the Muslim Students Association at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who in April 2006 declared: "Democracy sounds nice enough, (but) not to a Muslim"?

Of course, not all Muslims think such things. But when CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper explains that the organization developed this guide because "that’s one of the hot-button issues for American Muslims and Muslims worldwide -- the portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the media," he gives the impression that the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible is media-generated. And the new CAIR media guide blames misuse of the Qur’an on non-Muslims: "There is a common misperception among Westerners," says the guide, "that the Quran teaches violence. Critics of Islam will often take verses out of context, or quote selectively to fuel this false idea."

Was the Ayatollah Khomeini, then, a "critic of Islam" when he thundered: "Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all!...There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of Muhammad] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim." But CAIR, instead of spitting back at Khomeini and other Muslims who think like him today, pretends in this guide that violent understandings of the Qur’an come from non-Muslims – while Muslims appeal to the Qur’an to justify acts of violence around the world today.

Nor is Khomeini alone. The suicide bombers who have posed for photos holding a Qur’an and a rifle before going out to kill infidels and themselves would agree with the late Iranian revolutionary’s assessment of the Qur’an. So would Osama bin Laden, who sprinkles his communiqués with copious Qur’an quotes, and builds Islamic arguments from them urging Muslims to wage war for Islam. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a young Muslim who drove an SUV into a crowd of University of North Carolina students, attempting to kill as many as possible, explained in a letter: "Allah demands of believers to retaliate violently against persons responsible for attacking them or their fellow Believers around the world. ([Qur’an] 2:178-179, 5:45, 8:72, 9:38, 9:71, 42:39-42, 49:10)."

Does CAIR endorse such perspectives on the Qur’an? Evidently not, since they describe them as "misconceptions," but here again, global jihad activity, routinely justified by jihadists by reference to the Qur’an, shows that the problem lies within the Islamic world, not with American non-Muslims and certainly not with the American media.

Most egregious of all may be CAIR’s inclusion of the idea that "Islam does not respect women’s rights" among these allegedly non-Muslim and media-driven misconceptions. For it was not non-Muslim journalists, but Saudi officials, who just weeks ago sentenced a woman who had been gang raped to 200 lashes for being alone with men to whom she was not related – which is indeed forbidden in traditional Islamic law. It is easy to see how such "misconceptions" gain currency when those who portray themselves as the guardians of Islamic purity speak and behave as if Islam is incompatible with democracy, the Qur’an teaches violence, and Islam does not respect women’s rights. It is hard to see how CAIR can prevent Muslims from falling prey to such "misconceptions" by blaming non-Muslims for them instead of working for genuine reform among Muslims in America. Unless, of course, the organization has other things in mind besides reform.

Which is almost certainly the case. CAIR is currently leading a fight to get corporations to stop advertising on outspoken radio host Michael Savage’s show, and that is just the latest in a series of campaigns to silence critics of Islam. It doesn’t even matter if what these critics say is true: a few years ago CAIR successfully pressured National Review magazine to stop advertising a biography of Muhammad, even though what the book said about Muhammad’s violent actions were all derived from Islamic sources. It appears that all that CAIR wishes to allow non-Muslims to know about Islam is contained in this whitewashed and deceptive media guide.

CAIR passes itself off as a "civil rights" organization, though no informed observer will mistake it for the NAACP. CAIR is seeking, by intimidation, to marginalize and then end discussion of the dangers inherent in Islam, the Islamic community’s tolerance of terrorism, and anything that stands in the way of Islamic hegemony.

"Media guides" such as CAIR’s are not sources of genuine information; they are instruments to limit its flow.


Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.



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