Are the Saudis Muslims?

I wrote here about the silliness of the commonly-expressed view that Islamic terrorists can’t be *real* Muslims, and shouldn’t be referred to as such, since Islam is a religion of peace. I don’t suppose anyone would deny, however, that the Saudis are real Muslims. Thus, this story from Saudi Arabia is illuminating, even though it is not about terrorism.

Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger who had a web site called the “Liberal Saudi Network.” He criticized the Saudi regime and advocated free speech. In 2012, he was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including apostasy and insulting Islam. He was lucky: the apostasy charge, which carried the death penalty, was dropped. Instead, he was sentenced to ten years in prison–the original sentence was only seven years, but it was increased on appeal–a $266,000 fine, and 1,000 lashes.

A Saudi Arabian blogger has been publicly flogged after being convicted of cybercrime and insulting Islam, reports say.

Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail, was flogged 50 times. The flogging will be carried out weekly, campaigners say.

Bedawi is to receive 50 lashes once a week for twenty weeks, presumably because the 1,000 lashes would kill him if administered all at once.

The flogging took place outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after Friday prayers, witnesses said.

AFP news agency, quoting people at the scene, said Mr Badawi arrived at the mosque in a police car and had the charges read out to him in front of a crowd.

He was then made to stand with his back to onlookers and whipped, though he remained silent, the witnesses said.

This site has more; I believe this photo depicts Mr. Badawi during the flogging, but that is not entirely clear:

flog-man-360nobs

Human rights groups object that the Saudis’ treatment of Bedawi violates international law, but the Saudis naturally are unmoved: Bedawi was guilty of insulting Islam. Being a defense lawyer in Saudi Arabia is risky, too:

Last year Mr Badawi’s lawyer was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of a range of offences in an anti-terrorism court, the Associated Press news agency reported.

I don’t suppose anyone would deny that the Iranians are real Muslims, either. They hang homosexuals from cranes.

People who know nothing about religion often naively assume that all religions are more or less the same. The New York Times offers this morsel of ignorance:

A handful of non-Muslim researchers in the West — typically outside the academic mainstream — seek to build a case that Islam is inherently more violent than Judaism or Christianity by highlighting certain Quranic verses. But they struggle to explain away approving passages about violence in other religious texts, such as the book of Joshua in the Old Testament, the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, or the statement attributed to Jesus by the Gospel writer Matthew that “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.”

I doubt that the reporter has read any of the books in question–Joshua, Matthew or Revelation. If he has, he certainly didn’t understand them. The idea that the Book of Revelation encourages Christians to slaughter members of other faiths is ludicrous. The only crazier suggestion is that Jesus advocated or approved of any such thing. Did Mohammed, on the other hand, tell his followers to turn the other cheek, or relate a parable about the good Samaritan (or the equivalent)? I don’t think so.

It is often said that Western governments can’t fight radical Islam if they are not even willing to identify it as the ideological foe. I would add that you can’t fight radical Islam–not effectively, anyway–if you are unwilling to be honest about how it relates to the mainstream Islam that is practiced by around a billion people.

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