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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Obama You're No Osama Revisited

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Center for Strategic and International Studies fellow, Edward Luttwak has a particularly interesting op-ed in today's NY Times titled "President Apostate" which has garnered a good deal of blogosphere buzz and the thesis of which is best summed up here:

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).
The point is a legitimate one. Of course it is unsurprising that I would find this to be so since it is the same point I made on this blog's second post way back in January as can be seen here. And no I don't think Luttwak somehow found his way into my small corner of the universe and swiped my swell idea. Daniel Pipes raised the idea in an article back in December 2007 as have others. (And no I didn't steal the idea from Pipes or anyone else.) It is a legitimate issue to raise. My thinking on the matter was that although I don't believe that Obama is a Muslim (this emphasis being required so that people don't miss that point, intentionally or otherwise) he may well be perceived as having been one and therefore may now be considered to be an apostate by many Muslims. As I said in the original post:

But the issue can’t just end there. While whether baby-Obama was Muslim or not may or may not matter to you or me there are people to whom it matters a great deal: Muslims. The fact that there is some evidence that he was once an adherent to the faith and now proclaims himself to be a Christian makes him an apostate; and that is not a very good thing to be at all. And the fact that he should be viewed as such has some very real ramifications should he become President.

According to Islamic teaching the punishment for apostasy is death. Now while George W. Bush may be an infidel, the very existence of whom may cause any self-respecting Islamofascist to start sharpening his scimitar, apostates really drives them berserk. We are in completely alien territory when we begin to try determine how, not just Muslim extremists would react to having an apostate as President of the US (although considering how some not unusually nasty cartoons sent them into a tizzy, I’m sure we can all just imagine) but how even more “moderate” Muslims would react.

The effect it would have vis-à-vis relations with the Arab world might be seen if we look at how Muslim countries treat apostates within their legal systems. As it turns out apostates don’t fare very well. In Saudi Arabia apostasy is punishable by death. The death sentence hasn’t been imposed for a number of years however, 300 lashes being the preferred punishment of late. Sudan, Qatar and Mauritania also have codified death as the proper penalty for converts as well. Shari’ah courts in a number of countries also have called for fatwas for the offense. Even as American-friendly a country as Afghanistan recently had a controversy over its prosecution of Abdul Rahman, once Muslim, now Christian. After a loud international outcry he was eventually released, going to Italy with his life intact, if not his nerves.

How exactly would countries whose laws call for the death of apostates work with, negotiate with a US President who is one? Would he be invited to those countries? Would his representatives? How would Pakistan, already unstable, react to such a turn of events? How would it affect the “peace process”?

And what would be the foreign policy implications within the US? The Democrats, who have seemed to adopt a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend policy toward Islamic radicals while George Bush has been in office may find their blinders ripped off when an ever growing Islamofascist “fringe” makes the central focus of their lives the destruction of, not the hated hillbilly Texan but their own beloved hero.
Luttwak is right in sync with this line of thought:

Because no government is likely to allow the prosecution of a President Obama — not even those of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the only two countries where Islamic religious courts dominate over secular law — another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.

At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a President and many people (granted most of them are Lefties) believe that in electing Obama President they'll be getting someone who is more likely to "get along" with the rest of the world. This belief may turn out to be as misguided as many of the ideas of what an Obama Presidency are likely to be. President Obama could find himself even more loathed abroad than *GASP* GW Bush.

A personal aside: My original post about Obama's perceived apostasy was written before this blog was even a glimmer in my eye. It actually originally ran as a post on To my enormous surprise, within an hour or two of the post being published it was removed and I was banned from Redstate *sniff* never again to be allowed to post there. The actual reaction can be seen here .

When this happened I really didn't know what to think. I didn't think the post was "bigoted" or inappropriate in any other way and yet I was gone. Their actions angered me and made me decide that if I wanted to get my opinions "out there" the best way to do it was to do it myself. Thus Because I'm Right was born. Thank you,

I have to admit to feeling somewhat vindicated by Luttwak's piece and the good deal of attention that it has gotten, including this comment by Lisa Schiffren on NRO:

Andy and Byron, you make excellent points about the Luttwak piece on the possibilities that a former Muslim president will create more ill-will than good among the Islamic nations.
Numerous other bloggers have discussed the issue (there are links to some of them below) I smiled at that. I really did.

Hot Air comments on a NY Times op-ed on just this subject.
Gina Cobb finds the topic worthy of discussion as well
Outside The Beltway adds their thoughts
Gateway Pundit picks up the story, too.
Abe Greenwald at Commentary Magazine looks at the issue, as well
The Southern Appeal finds it an interesting topic.
BLACKFIVE finds merit in the argument, too.
A Blog For All is also finds sense in the idea.
Ditto for Rhymes With Right

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