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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nicholas Kristof, "The Diversity of Islam": No Mention of "Honor Killings"

Do you remember Nicholas Kristof's June 2012 New York Times opinion piece entitled "Hugs From Iran," which he started by telling us, "My 1,700-mile road trip across Iran began with a giddy paean to America, reinforcing my view that at the grass-roots level, this may be the most pro-American nation in the Middle East." Honor killings in Iran? Not a mention. Stoning to death of women for adultery? Not a mention. Hangings of homosexuals? Not a mention. Horrific persecution of Kurds, Sunnis and Christians? Not a mention. Discrimination against Baha'is? In fact, there is a passing reference:

"'Iranian people are happy with their leaders,' Monad Omidvar, a 38-year-old farm laborer, told me as he played marbles with his friends beside the road near Mashhad. He has a ninth-grade education, and his only source of news is the government media.

When I asked about human rights activists and members of the Bahai faith who are in prison, he shook his head skeptically. 'I don’t think that in our country innocent people go to jail,' he said. 'They must have done something.'"

That's all Kristof has to say about this oppressed minority group, whose leaders remain imprisoned in Teheran's notorious Evin Prison.

Today, on the other hand, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Diversity of Islam," Kristof, expanding on comments expressed as a panelist on Bill Maher’s HBO television show which debated the "merits" of Islam, tells us:

"The persecution of Christians, Ahmadis, Yazidis, Bahai — and Shiites — is far too common in the Islamic world. We should speak up about it."

So in 2012, during his trek around Iran, why didn't Kristof do this, and also denounce the oppression of women, homosexuals, Kurds, Sunnis and journalists willing to express their opposition to this monstrous regime?

Kristof goes on to say in today's opinion piece:

"Third, the Islamic world contains multitudes: It is vast and varied. Yes, almost four out of five Afghans favor the death penalty for apostasy, but most Muslims say that that is nuts. In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, only 16 percent of Muslims favor such a penalty."

Wonderful! Only 16 percent of Muslim Indonesians favor the death penalty for apostasy. Indonesia has a population of some 250 million people, which means that only 40 million Muslims in that country support killing those who abandon the faith.

But as long as we're on the topic of Indonesia, why is it that Kristof fails to mention that according to the Pew Research Center:

  • 72 percent of Indonesian Muslims favor making sharia the law of the land.
  • 48 percent of Indonesians who say sharia should be the law of the land, favor stoning as a punishment for adultery.
  • 95 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that homosexuality is immoral.
  • 93 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that a woman should always obey her husband.
  • 32 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that a woman should be able to divorce her husband.
  • 65 percent of Indonesian Muslims believe that converting others is a religious duty.

Concerning the rights of women in Muslim countries, Kristof notes that "of the 10 bottom-ranking countries in the World Economic Forum’s report on women’s rights, nine are majority Muslim," but also observes that "historically, Islam was not particularly intolerant, and it initially elevated the status of women." How comforting! Mention by Kristof of the plague of "honor killings" in the Muslim Middle East? None.

And of course, Kristof warns us, "Beware of generalizations about any faith because they sometimes amount to the religious equivalent of racial profiling." He explains:

"The Dalai Lama today is an extraordinary humanitarian, but the fifth Dalai Lama in 1660 ordered children massacred 'like eggs smashed against rocks.'

Christianity encompassed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also the 13th century papal legate who in France ordered the massacre of 20,000 Cathar men, women and children for heresy, reportedly saying: Kill them all; God will know his own."

Such wonderful news! In another couple of centuries, Islam might also come to its senses!

Kristof's conclusion:

"Let’s not feed Islamophobic bigotry by highlighting only the horrors while neglecting the diversity of a religion with 1.6 billion adherents."

Indeed, bigotry should be avoided, yet when according to the Pew Research Center 60 percent of young Muslims in America think of themseves as Muslim first and only 15 percent of American Muslims under age 30 believe that suicide bombings "can be often or sometimes justified in the defense of Islam" (no mention by Kristof of the Boston Marathon bombing), it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Kristof should be reading more recent travel history: liberal icon SCOTUS William O Douglas's 1957 travel memoir: "West of the Indus" of his roadtrip from Karachi to Istanbul.

    in 1957, Iran was very dangerous for Americans; as was Iraq, so the Douglas station wagon spent more time with the Kurds and Yazidis. (Afghanistan was safe and friendly, as was Pakistan and Turkey)

    I do not think anyone at the NYT can smell the stink in their offices