US Wingnuts Accuse UK Daily Mail of Being “In Bed with Islamic Supremicists”

Jihad Watch puts forward the unlikely suggestion that the notoriously right-wing Daily Mail has chosen to censor a story in order to avoid “offending” Muslims. The piece concerns Sabina Akhtar, who was murdered by her husband Malik Mannan after a campaign of threats and violence. According to the original Mail article, on one occasion:

…Using both hands to squeeze her windpipe he told her to read her Koran adding: ‘Read whatever other stuff you need to read now. This is your final hour.’ The arrival of his brother stopped the attack but Mannan left shouting: ‘I’m going to get a knife and when I return I’m going to slaughter you.’

This has now been changed to:

In the early hours of the following morning he attacked her again, telling her ‘This is your final hour’, but left after she made a desperate call for help to his brother, threatening to return with a knife and ‘slaughter’ her.

Inevitably, this revision has been seized on by right-wing bloggers as British appeasement of Islam; Jihad Watch even offers a trophy screenshot of the original wording as evidence of the sinister cover-up.  Pam Geller at Atlas Shrugs, with typical nuance, screams that:

THE DAILY MAIL, DHIMMI PRESS IN BED WITH THE ISLAMIC SUPREMACISTS, REMOVES REFERENCE TO MUSLIM HUSBAND TELLING HIS  WIFE TO READ THE QUR’AN AS HE STRANGLED HER

But if this is all part of a PC plot to appease Muslims, how come that the Koranic reference which the Mail dare not name appears in…the liberal Guardian?

The court heard that Akhtar, 26, reported her husband to police last year, telling them he had battered her 25 times and made threats on her life. On one occasion, in July, he told her to prepare for death by reading passages from the Qur’an, adding: “I am going to get a knife and when I return I am going to slaughter you.”

And in…the BBC?

He would squeeze her windpipe when they were arguing and made at least three threats to kill her…

In July last year he told her to prepare for her final hour by reading passages from the Koran and said: “I am going to get a knife and when I return I am going to slaughter you.”

And in…the Mirror?

The next morning, Mannan attacked again. Using both hands to squeeze her windpipe he told her to read her Koran warning: “This is your final hour.” The attack stopped when Mannan’s brother arrived, but he left shouting: “I’m going to get a knife and when I return I’m going to slaughter you.”

However, an earlier report in the Manchester Evening News put it like this:

The court heard he grabbed Sabina’s throat and ordered her to read passages from the Koran. “This is your final hour’,” he is alleged to have told her.

The jury was also told he said to Sabina: “I am going to get a knife and when I return I am going to slaughter you.”

It should also be noted that there is a significant difference between (a) “he…ordered her to read passages from the Koran” and (b) “he told her to prepare for her final hour by reading passages from the Koran”, adding this would be her last chance to read “whatever other stuff you need to read” – (a) suggesting some kind of bizarre religious ritual and (b) more of a generic “say your prayers” type of threat. When Sabina was finally murdered, in September, it was by being stabbed in the chest; there is no indication of any “ritual” or “honour” aspect to the killing. Perhaps, at some point, the Mail realised the details were ambiguous and amended its wording – unaware that thousands of American readers were slavering over the Koran detail.

Incidentally, I don’t chase after these things in order to “defend Islam”, despite what some others have suggested. What I will defend, though, is the need for careful reporting and sensible evaluation over rumour, hysteria, and scaremongering.

(slightly updated)

The Cross and the Fearmonger

A dramatic banner headline on WorldNetDaily:

Famed pastor, author predicts imminent catastrophe

The pastor is none other than David Wilkerson, whose 1963 biography The Cross and the Switchblade (as ever, “as told to John and Elizabeth Sherrill”) remains an evangelical paperback classic . WND tells us that Wilkerson has a blog, where he has just revealed a message from the Holy Spirit:

“An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen,” he writes. “It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us.”

Wilkerson’s vision is of fires raging through New York City.

“It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires – such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago,” he explains. “There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting – including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

…”God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations,” claims Wilkerson. “He is destroying the secular foundations.” Wilkerson urges everyone to stockpile a 30-day supply of food and other necessities to deal with the catastrophe he foresees.

“I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off”…

Presumably “the secular foundations” is a dig at the recent electoral set-backs of the Christian Right; WND of course loves the idea that Obama might be the true architect of the current economic woes that Wilkerson is capitalising on. We’ll also assume that the 1965 Watts riots are invoked because of their severity, rather than because Wilkerson wants specifically to predict “race riots”, although the connotation is unfortunate.

Wisely, however, WND declines to quote Wilkerson’s underwhelming opening sentence:

For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City.

Ten years? How about more than twenty years? Here’s the opening of his 1985 Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth:

America is going to be destroyed by fire! Sudden destruction is coming and few will escape. Unexpectedly, and in one hour, a hydrogen holocaust will engulf America — and this nation will be no more.

It is because America has sinned against the greatest light. Other nations are just as sinful, but none is as flooded with gospel light as ours. God is going to judge America for its violence, its crimes, its backsliding, its murdering of millions of babies, its flaunting of homosexuality and sadomasochism, its corruption, its drunkenness and drug abuse, its form of godliness without power, its lukewarmness toward Christ, its rampant divorce and adultery, its lewd pornography, its child molestations, its cheating, its robbing, its dirty movies, and its occult practices.

Or how about 35 years? In his 1974 The Vision, Wilkerson predicts:

Nature will release its fury with increasing intensity over the next decade. There will be short periods of relief, but almost every day mankind will witness the wrath of nature somewhere in the world.

That book also predicted “the biggest, most disastrous” earthquake to take place in the USA.