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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Who Are We?": ISIS Is a "Violent Mutation" of Islam?

Writing from Dubai, Thomas Friedman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Are We?" would have us believe that ISIS represents something unlike mainstream Islam. Friedman writes:

"[T]he Islamic State, or ISIS, is homegrown; its aim is not to strike at enemies far away, but to spread and impose its vision of an Islamic society right here and right now; it’s attracting Muslim youths from all over, including the West; its ideology is a violent mutation of the puritanical, nonpluralistic, Wahhabi Islam, the dominant trend in Saudi Arabia."

ISIS is a "violent mutation" of a more moderate Wahabi Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia? Oh really? As reported by Janine di Giovanni in a October 14, 2014 Newsweek article entitled "When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS Has Nothing Over Saudi Arabia," notwithstanding the outrage generated by the execution of Westerners by ISIS, beheadings are also commonplace in Saudi Arabia:

"[D]ecapitations are routine in Saudi Arabia, America’s closest Arab ally, for crimes including political dissent—and the international press hardly seems to notice. In fact, since January, 59 people have had their heads lopped off in the kingdom, where 'punishment by the sword' has been practiced for centuries."

Ms di Giovanni goes on to describe what it's like to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia:

"You will be dressed in something that leaves the soft skin of your neck exposed. Your hands are bound together behind your back. It’s better for all concerned to stay still, as is clear from a video of the execution of Rizana Nafeek, a 24-year-old Sri Lankan maid who was accused of murdering her employee’s 4-month-old son. She swayed from side to side, making her execution sloppier than most. (Nafeek pleaded not guilty, saying the baby choked on his milk bottle. She was beheaded anyway, in January 2013.)

. . . .

But even in death, you are not liberated. Your murder is meant to be a sign to the people in the crowd that Saudi Arabia does not tolerate dissent. A loudspeaker announces your crime. Your body may be taken away to be buried immediately. But if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified."

The enormous difference between "moderate" Wahabi Islam and ISIS? Perhaps Tom would care to elaborate.

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