Two Fox journalists kidnapped by militants two weeks ago in Gaza have been released and appear to be in good health.
Fox reporter Steve Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig were released shortly after noon Sunday and dropped off at the Beach Hotel in Gaza City, where they were greeted by a swarm of people offering hugs. The hotel is a popular place for journalists.
The two men later crossed into Israel and left en route to Jerusalem. The Palestinian government had condemned the kidnapping and the men’s families pleaded publicly for their release.
That’s the good part. There’s some weirdness, though. Here’s the first weird thing:
“I just hope this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover this story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful, kind-hearted loving people who the world needs to know more about,” said Wiig.
Centanni echoed those remarks. “That would be a tragedy for the people of Palestine and especially for the people of Gaza. Your story doesn’t get very well told because it is difficult to go here and any little discouragement that something — an incident like this could give a network an excuse not to be here and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Gaza,” he said.
I find this a bizarre statement from men who were kidnapped at gunpoint, especially because Centanni, after describing how he and Wiig were kidnapped, goes on to say “That was the beginning of our torment that night.” You don’t get tormented by beautiful, kind-hearted people. Was two weeks enough to get Stockholm Syndrome in gear? Are Centanni and Wiig still under threat, as in “we know where your families live?” Maybe I’m the only one to find it bizarre that two people who are kidnapped at gunpoint would be heaping praise on the people who did this to them.
Here’s the second weird thing:
Hours before their release, a video from Ramattan showed the two reading statements proclaiming that they had embraced Islam with the Prophet Mohammed as their leader.
“Islam is not just meant for some people — it is the true religion for all people at all times,” Centanni said in the video while garbed in a beige robe his captors may have given him. Wiig was dressed in the same attire. “Islam helps people to love mercy, brotherhood, equality and justice.”
But speaking to Fox News after their release, Centanni indicated the conversion was not real.
“We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint, and don’t get me wrong here, I have the highest respect for Islam, and learned a lot of very good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do, because they had the guns, and we didn’t know what the hell was going on,” he told Fox.
I’ve never understood conversions at gunpoint. Maybe it’s the lawyer in me. American law has it that, if someone uses fraud, coercion, duress, etc., to get you to make a promise, that promise is not legally binding. How could it be? You never would have made it but for cruel external forces. In what bizarre realm do people believe that a religious conversion under duress can have any spiritual meaning? Do they really believe that God values a promise made under threat of death?
This is not a matter of “no atheists in foxholes,” which is an internal form of duress where people themselves find God. This is, “convert or we will pull your toenails out.” Under those circumstances, I’d convert in an instant because I would understand that the conversion is a charade, a meaningless exercise that does not at all affect my own belief systems.
In any event, I’m again surprised by Centanni’s words of praise for Islam. It would have been easier just to have left them unsaid. That is, you don’t have to heap insults on Islam or Palestinians, but you don’t have to praise them either. Any guesses as to why Centanni and Wiig are behaving in this bizarrely placating manner now that their ordeal is over?
UPDATE: I learned something at Michelle Malkin regarding that gunpoint conversion. I’d forgotten about the fact that, in the Muslim world, apostasy is punishable by death. A Michelle Malkin reader, however, hadn’t forgotten:
Everybody so far is talking about how the ‘Conversion’ card is an easy way out of Islamic Terrorists’ hands… but it is a career ender for Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig. You see, you can kidnap an infidel; but the Koran dictates that a muslim in good standing must kill an apostate.
If Steve Centanni ever announces that he is not a Muslim, he signs his own death warrant… can he ever be assigned to a Muslim nation again without the knowledge that he is now legally a target for death because of his own actions?
Keep praying, it’s not over yet.
Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.