The Blog

Just Say No

8:30 PM, May 15, 2009 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Obami scouts, reconnoitering this week in Cairo, have narrowed the field to three possible venues for the U.S. president's address to the Muslim world next month, the AP reports; most highly recommended is the Al Azhar Mosque,

. . . one of the oldest, most prestigious and most influential institutions of higher learning for Sunni Islam. Delivering his message from the 10th-century mosque would convey the American president's regard for Islamic religion, culture and history, Al-Azhar officials said.

Yes, this choice, if made, will be celebrated by Muslims the world over. "Al-Azhar is a beacon of knowledge and moderation for the whole Islamic world," says Sheikh Fawzi Zefzaf, a scholar there. But caveat emptor: For this beacon of knowledge and moderation has produced not only some deeply bizarre fatwas in recent years, but also, and more important, some deeply chilling ones. Indeed, the choice of Al Azhar will be a boon to anti-Semites the world over. The president so beloved of American Jews (78 percent) can't really want that, can he?

From the ridiculous: "One recent fatwa forbade the practice of yoga on the grounds that it is an ascetic Hindu practice. Another declared that Muslims should not use the internet because it makes them waste their time. Most recently, a fatwa announced that ironing women's pants was forbidden as women are not allowed to wear pants in Islam." (Middle East Times, December 2004)

To the ludicrous: "According to an Arabic article in Al-Arabiyya . . . the Egyptian Parliament is now discussing a fatwa from an Al-Azhar cleric that aims to circumvent the prohibition on a male and a female who are not married to each other from working together in private. All she has to do, you see, is suckle him. Then he becomes her foster child, and they can be together without a chaperone." (Dhimmi Watch, May 2007)

To the transcendently hateful: In response to a fatwa issued by Sheikh Ahmad Ali 'Othman of the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments averring "that all pigs are descended from the Jews whom Allah transformed into apes, swine and worshippers of Satan, and must therefore be slaughtered," Sheikh 'Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Al Azhar Fatwa Committee, says:

When Allah punishes a group of people because they have incurred his wrath, the punishment applies only to them. When Allah was angry with the people of Moses, he turned them [and only them] into apes and pigs. It was an unusual punishment, meant to serve as a deterrent to others. But [those apes and pigs] died, and did not multiply, as Sheikh Ahmad 'Ali 'Othman claims. (MEMRI, May 2009)

Well, aren't we glad to have that cleared up? Now, will the president actually consider entering this mosque, never mind orating from it? Will the Jews who work for him permit him to speak from a platform so tainted by hatred for them? Will their co-religionists who so fervently support him watch in cowed silence as he ascends to that vicious podium? Or will Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Stephen Spielberg, and the rest stand up and be counted in defense of the blood and faith of their forbears, if not their own, and just say no?