The larger import of the reporters’ forced conversion

Andrew Bostom, who has written a detailed, erudite treatise entitled the Legacy of Jihad : Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, weighs in on the Fox reporters’ forced “conversion.”

Forced conversions in Islamic history are not exceptional—they have been the norm, across three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe—for over 13 centuries. Orders for conversion were decreed under all the early Islamic dynasties—Umayyads, Abbasids, Fatimids, and Mamluks. Additional extensive examples of forced conversion were recorded under both Seljuk and Ottoman Turkish rule (the latter until its collapse in the 20th century). But the list is much longer yet. The Shi’ite Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Persia/Iran. During the jihad ravages on the Indian subcontinent, beginning with the early 11th century campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazni, and recurring under the Delhi Sultanate, and Moghul dynasty until the collapse of Muslim suzerainty in the 18th century following the British conquest of India.

Moreover, during jihad—even the jihad campaigns of the 20th century [i.e., the jihad genocide of the Armenians during World War I, the Moplah jihad in Southern India [1921], the jihad against the Assyrians of Iraq in the early 1930s, the jihads against the Chinese of Indonesia and the Christian Ibo of southern Nigeria in the 1960s, and the jihad against the Christians and Animists of the southern Sudan from 1983 to 2001], the (dubious) concept of “no compulsion” (Koran 2:256; which was cited with tragic irony during the Fox reporters “confessional”!), has always been meaningless.

In the Western tradition, of course, a forced “conversion” is meaningless, because it doesn’t arise from true religious conviction. As I’ve been reminded, however, both from comments left at my blog and from reading articles about the reporters’ experience, a forced Islamic conversion is an entirely different kettle of fish. It subjects the convert to sharia law — whether he wants to comply or not — with all the penalties associated with violating that law. In addition, if he attempts to practice his own faith, the one in which he actually believes, he can be executed for apostasy. It’s a lose/lose situation for those unfortunate enough to be “enticed” at gunpoint into “embracing” a new religion. You’ll learn a lot — none of it good — just by reading the entirety of Bostom’s article.

UPDATE: Anna led me to a Caroline Glick column that manages seamlessly to discuss the incredible pressures placed on Centanni and Wiig — of the kind that would result in a forced conversion — and the Palestinians’ masterful media manipulation. Here’s a sample:

While their [the reporter’s] remarks [praising the Palestinians] were covered extensively, no one seemed to think that the fact that their first post-release statements were made at a Palestinian Authority sponsored media extravaganza in Gaza was significant. No one noted that the men were flanked by Palestinian “security forces,” and stood next to Hamas terrorist leader and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

No mention was made of the fact that the two were initially kidnapped by just such PA “security officials,” or that Haniyeh is one of the leaders of one of the most fanatical jihadist organizations in the world, an organization that the majority of the “beautiful, kind-hearted and caring” Palestinians voted into office last January.

That is, no mention was made of the fact that until the two men left Gaza, they remained unfree. No one asked whether they had been given the option of not giving a press conference in Gaza. And now that they have spoken, there can be little doubt that a second press conference by the two men, in Israel or the US where no one will force them to convert to Judaism or Christianity or threaten to kill them, will draw far less media interest. After their press conference, the two men became yesterday’s news.

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  • mamapajamas

    What they need to do is issue a very LOUD public statement saying, “Now that we’re no longer under threat of being murdered, we will hold a real press conference at xx:xx time at Yyyy place.”

    That should get everyone’s attention.

  • Ymarsakar

    In addition, if he attempts to practice his own faith, the one in which he actually believes, he can be executed for apostasy.

    The rule of law. Is it not the motto of the Democrats? perhaps they know something we don’t. Maybe they know that in the rule of law, he who controls the law, is supreme.

    This is how propaganda works, smoke and mirrors. You can’t fight propaganda with facts. Propaganda trumps facts. When people said Bush was lying, the reality was that Bush wasn’t good enough to tell the truth without being called a liar. Bush got caught in a web and he wasn’t powerful enough to get out, or maybe he just didn’t want to get out given the price.

    Propaganda is a hallucination. It makes you see things. Even if you know and saw how the magician did his trick, even if you know that you are hallucinating, you still cannot get out of the illusion. This is the power of illusion. The weakness of illusion is that it can’t reattache your head back to your body, dead is dead, executed is executed, power is power. There are two counters to propaganda. Use your own propaganda, which Bush refuses to do. Or, use hard power to offset illusion by killing prisoners at GitMo and other jails full of Muslims that Hamas and the Palis want released.

    Is it the duty of private citizens and blogs to do Bush’s job for him? No. This is a matter between states. It is why we even have a government in the first place, to deal with stuff like this. No private organization or person can allocate as many resources and funds to an operation of this caliber, as the United States government.

    What they need to do is issue a very LOUD public statement saying, “Now that we’re no longer under threat of being murdered, we will hold a real press conference at xx:xx time at Yyyy place.”

    We’ll see. Jill Caroll didn’t do that. She went into the shadows. Did they do as good a job on Centanni? Perhaps.

    Personally, I believe that you can get the best results by a combination of hard power and propaganda. Propaganda without the realistic threat of execution and pain, is not that powerful. It’s like a political ad, I can shut it off at any time and push it from the mind. The same goes for killing and hard power. If you just kill a bunch of people, without using propaganda to shield it, then that just pisses people off and only net you short term benefits that will disappear soon enough.

    I think a good scenario would have been Bush announcing on national tv that he is going to exchange 10 prisoners in return for Centanni. The media would have been in an overroar, complete utter craziness and media circus. Once you get the media focused on Bush, Bush should then televize some executions and then say “Okay, I’ve given you pieces of the 10 prisoners, now give us Centanni back unharmed like we agreed”

    A little fudging of the deal, can make it possible to setup the wording that way. If Hamas kills Centanni, in retaliation, well we have more prisoners than they have Americans. This would be a pretty clear message that kidnapping Americans will net you no positive propaganda coup or get you any live prisoners back. If Hamas releases Centanni, then does the press release getting the propaganda. Well, Bush and Hamas would then be even. Bush gets his execution propaganda media circus video, and Hamas gets their video of live Americans converting.

    Hamas could kill one American, let the other guy go. Half and half, you know. Ya, but you can halve the prisoner’s limbs as easily as you can do decimation. So again, is the goal saving the lives of the hostages, or preventing future hostages from being taken?

    Bush doesn’t negotiate with terroists, isn’t that because the lives of future hostages is a better policy than saving the lives of the two present ones with ransoms? Isn’t the long term considered more important than the short term?

    The objective is not to save Centanni and Wig. The objective is to make sure the terroists are not rewarded for taking hostages, and also to make it clear that terroists in the future will be punished for taking hostages.

    These Arabs are kind of clever. They know that America, unlike Germany and France and Italy, won’t pay ransom. So they make do with what they have. Nice. Maybe we should make do with what we have as well, if victory is anything but a game to the US government. These are policy decisions. Citizens cannot affect it, military personnel cannot counteract it. Policy is made by the Executive Branch, and only the Executive Branch.

  • Anna

    Thanks for the link! Greta’s show on Fox will be interesting if only to see what they saw now that they’re home.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Well, since forced conversion at gunpoint isn’t a big deal to Lefties, how about if we Judeo-Christians have a go at Guantanamo?

  • Ymarsakar

    Keep the conversions back, just hold down on the trigger with the mini-gun.