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Mr Charles Moore, is it only Christianity and Islam that are fair game?

By Shaykh Riyad Nadwi, PhD.

On Saturday (11/12/04), Mr Charles Moore published an historically inaccurate article in the Daily Telegraph defending the right to ridicule Christianity and Islam. My question is: when did the Telegraph last publish an article mocking Judaism or Zionism? My guess would be never. Even if the reasoning behind it were merely to maintain the pretence of objectivity, the charge of anti-Semitism would saturate the air we breathe before the ink had dried on the paper. One need only look at the recent Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, passed in the US House of Representatives in October this year, to see the intensity with which Judaism is protected. Were Mr Moore a genuine defender of free speech, as he would like the world to believe, one would have expected him to engage two months ago with the fact that the Act orders the establishment of an office within the State Department dedicated to monitoring anti-Semitism. Congress overruled strong opposition from diplomats in the State Department who complained in an internal memo that a special focus on Judaism "opens us up to charges of favouritism and challenges the credibility of our reporting".

Many Christians and Muslims have begun to question why a Pro-Israel newspaper (The Daily Telegraph) is fixated on defending the right to mock and ridicule the faiths of others while global schemes are being promoted and implemented to protect every facet of sentiment among followers of Judaism. It is an issue upon which the Telegraph is tactfully complacent.

Angered by Mr Moore’s article, a young Muslim sent me a letter he had written asking why Muslims were not responding with an equal charge of paedophilia in Judaism by quoting the Rabbis’ verdict that, “A girl three years old may be betrothed through an act of sexual intercourse” (Neusner 1993, 41) and that, according to the Tannaïte Rabbis, Moses had ordered the Israelites to kill all women older than three years and a day old, because they were suitable for having sexual relations. My response to this was that as Muslims we are commanded to revere and send salutations on all the Prophets of God including Moses and Jesus. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace) is mentioned by name in only four places in the Quran whereas Moses (on whom be peace) is mentioned 136 times. Together with Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians around the world, Muslims also find the latest waxwork exhibit at Madame Tussaud's in London disrespectful and offensive to the esteemed status of Jesus in the Quran. We do not encourage or follow the wrongdoers into their swamps of contempt for the best of humanity.

Michael Hoffman II, a right wing commentator on Jewish affairs, claims on his website that according to Judaic teaching all gentile women are "Niddah, Shifchah, Goyyah and Zonah" (menstrual filth, slaves, heathens and whores) and he laments the failure of Muslims to respond with the Torah, saying, “Westernised Muslim ‘intellectuals’ have a real blind spot in this regard too. They are the ones who should be throwing the Talmud's misogyny back in the face of all these people. But they don't.”

The reason we do not is, despite being part of traditional Jewish teaching, we believe it does not reflect the true teachings of Moses (on whom be peace) and those who claim it are misguided. Hence, despite the continuous onslaught of vile attacks from the Telegraph’s Will Cummins and his substitutes, we continue to exhibit what some see as an extraordinary degree of restraint.

Mr Charles Moore should know that his slight of hand attempt to ferment strife among Muslims and Christians by listing the recent unfortunate incidents about Christians in Iraq does not alter or hide the fact that Christian communities have lived and flourished in Muslim lands for hundreds of years. The presence of Arabic-speaking Christian communities in the 21st Century is testimony to Muslim tolerance and respect for the followers of Isa (Jesus, on who be peace). If Muslims were inherently hostile to the existence of Christians in their lands they would not have waited fourteen centuries to attack those churches. The question we need to ask is: what is so different about 2004? Could it be that some people, who envisage therein a great benefit to themselves, are trying to incite a clash between the Muslim and Christian worlds? Publish this Mr Charles Moore if you are indeed a defender of free speech.

Shaykh Riyad Nadwi
Oxford, UK