Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sullivan Sounds Alarm on Islam, Again

In a post entitled "Facing Down the Bullies", Andrew Sullivan alerts his readers to a "very credible death threat" against Salman Rushdie and the other eleven signatories to an anti-Islamist manifesto occasioned by the Muhammad cartoon protests. The threat was posted on Ummah.net, which Sullivan refers to as a "British Islamist site."

The only problem: it's not. Or is only if no distinction whatsoever is made between the word "Islamic" and the word "Islamist." Ummah.net is a general clearing house for people seeking information about Islam and it features some Islam-related news (much of it poorly written and anti-American, but no more so than Michael Moore). Here's an example of the kind of Islamic radicalism being touted by Ummah.net:
We should pray too that God in His infinite Mercy will guide us to do good, avoid evil and shun intolerance and bigotry.... We should implore our Lord to allow children of all races, nations and creeds to know laughter and banish forever the tears from their eyes.... We face a potential debacle because we have abused our faith. We have allowed the voices of intolerance and extremism to smother the gentler tones of those who prefer to work for inclusiveness and moderation.
If that's Islamism, sign me up! I struggle to see how this differs in any way from the message that Sullivan has been seeking ever since the cartoon crisis broke.

The post in question, which appears to have been removed from the site (I can't locate it, at least), was apparently in the website's online forum. There's a thread up now in the forum that discusses the death threat, which was allegedly posted on Saturday. If you read it, you'll notice that it has one thing in common with most non-Islamic online forums: it appears to be written entirely by 15-year-old boys.

On what authority does Andrew Sullivan deem the threat "very credible"? I wouldn't regard anything written in these forums as even moderately credible. Standing up against death threats and intimidation is one thing—and a great thing. But it's no excuse for having your facts wrong. Why, when it comes to Islam, does Sullivan always seem to jump the gun?

Update: Sullivan has updated his blog with a post that bears a description of Ummah.net that is a little more nuanced than "Islamist." Good for him.
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