Claim endorsed by William Murray, Mark Gabriel, and Pamela Geller
Last week, WND‘s Jerome Corsi put forward the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wears a ring engraved in Arabic with the words “In the Name of Allah”, the fifth part of the Muslim declaration of faith, or Shahada. The theory relied on an image blown up to such an extent that it was seriously blurred, although Snopes has since published a large and very clear photo which should have put the whole non-story to bed. Snopes judges the story to be “probably false” rather than just “false”, but it is obvious that the supposed Arabic inscription is simply a loop pattern. It’s not in the least amenable to any other interpretation.
However, although that should have been the end of the matter, WND and Corsi have ploughed on regardless with follow-up articles, and the story remains a banner headline on the WND homepage. They have even managed to prompt a short piece in a Turkish newspaper.
Joel Gilbert, who was first to conclude that the ring bears the Shahada, has issued a detailed analysis he prepared with the assistance of Yousef Shehadeh, a native Arabic speaker from Nazareth who studied Arabic for 13 years in the Holy Land and now works as a graphic artist in Los Angeles.
Gilbert, who has studied Arabic himself, told WND he sent close-up photographs of the ring to Shehadeh “cold,” without offering any opinion, and asked Shehadeh to evaluate them.
Shehadeh replied to him that the script on Obama’s ring is Arabic, and it is the first part of the Islamic declaration of faith.
You’ll note that that link is dead; Gilbert appears to have lost confidence in his “detailed analysis”, and he’s also taken down a YouTube video on the subject. Gilbert featured on this blog a couple of weeks ago; he heads a Bob Dylan tribute band, and he recently produced a documentary claiming that Frank Marshall Davis was Obama’s father and that Ann Dunham had appeared in pornographic magazines. Gilbert also describes himself as an “Islamic history scholar”, although he appears to be basing this claim on his undergraduate studies in the 1980s.
A couple of individuals who have set themselves up as experts on the dangers of Islam staked their credibility on agreeing with Gilbert’s claim:
Staffers in Jordan with William J. Murray’s Religious Freedom Coalition also believe the ring, which Obama wore on his wedding-ring finger for at least a decade before he married Michelle Robinson, pays homage to Allah.
The Amman staffers said they have seen other rings like it.
Egyptian-born Islamic scholar Mark A. Gabriel, Ph,D., as well as a native-Arabic speaker employed by WND who has provided translations of critical Arabic statements, believe the ring is Islamic. A Duke professor interviewed by Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com news service also confirmed their conclusion.
Given that Obama’s ring comes from Indonesia, it’s not clear why Murray’s “Amman staffers” would see a special resemblance to rings in Jordan.
The “Duke professor” wisely kept his name “off the record”. William Murray has also featured on this blog previously: last year, he took part in the “Constitution or Sharia” conference in Nashville, at which speakers included the likes of Christian Concern’s Paul Diamond. Gabriel, meanwhile, is Founder and President” of the Union of Former Muslims, and the author of Culture Clash: Islam’s War on America.
Also more or less on board was Andrew Bostom, who declared that Corsi’s and Gabriel’s evidence “appear to be” sound, as was Pamela Geller:
She said Obama’s “anti-freedom, pro-jihad foreign policy has given the global jihad a new lease on death, and clearly he is happy about that, as this ring indicates.”
Robert Spencer, meanwhile, was slightly more cautious:
[Spencer] said that should the ring on Obama’s finger prove to include an inscription of an Islamic prayer, it could explain his foreign policy attitudes and actions regarding freedom in the Middle East.
Other sites, meanwhile, have suggested that the ring shows that Obama is “married to Allah”. This is not a concept that is found in normative Islam.
Oddly, one person who was unimpressed was Glenn Beck’s End-Times prophet Joel Richardson:
Joel Richardson… said he was skeptical that there was an Arabic script on the ring, which he has not examined personally.
What a shame that Richardson wasn’t similarly sceptical when his associate Walid Shoebat claimed that the Arabic contours of “In the Name of Allah” are present in the Biblical Greek for “666”. Arabic letters seem to be particularly amendable to this kind of “reading in”: some Muslims themselves have sometimes claimed to have found the words “In the Name of Allah” present in natural phenomena.
Snopes also raises the point that
One might also consider the incongruity that a politician who has long been dealing with (and denying) rumors that he is a Muslim would openly wear a symbol demonstrating those rumors to be true.
Actually, I doubt very much that Obama himself spends time “dealing with” such a rumour, but there’s an implied further element in the conspiracy: perhaps Obama is secretly signalling his Muslim allegiance to other Muslims, who are collectively keeping it to themselves (see Update 2 below). Hence we recently saw discredited fake “ex-terrorist” Kamal Saleem explain to Frank Gaffney that when Obama recites the pledge of allegiance he holds his hand in a special way that shows he is really performing an Islamic prayer. In 2009, WND‘s Joseph Farah claimed that Obama had made a speech “in code” to the Muslim world in which he conveyed a promise to revive and continue Hitler’s Holocaust (no, really).
UPDATE: I wasn’t aware of just how deeply Geller invested in this. On Wednesday 10 October, she wrote:
I’d like to see one member of the press corps ask Obama about this. It certainly jives with Obama’s islamophilia and his pro-sharia foreign policies, and with his extensive Muslim background, as detailed in my book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America.
The implications of Obama’s ring aside, the level of his dishonesy is breathtaking. Jerome Corsi over at WND has this blockbuster story.
That entry in her Atlas Shrugs blog has now been deleted – and, as expected, she has felt no need to offer her audience either an apology or an explanation. Robert Spencer behaves in the same way (see here and here for two examples). I’ll repeat what I’ve said before: any blogger dealing in current affairs is likely to make a mistake from time to time; but what separates a serious person from a charlatan or demagogue is how one attempts to put a mistake right (H/T The American Muslim).
UPDATE 2: And I now see that Corsi has indeed claimed that Muslims are in on the ring conspiracy, speaking with VCY (“Voice of Christian Youth) America’s Vic Eliason on 12 October. Right Wing Watch has the transcript:
It’s almost like it’s a secret communication, like it’s a wink-wink and ‘I’m with you.’ In Islam, taqiyya which is a practice, it is okay for believers in Islam to mislead infidels. So in other words you can lie, you can say you’re Christian if that serves your purposes and in Islam the high point of taqiyya would be to communicate to believers that that’s what you’re doing and that’s what I think this ring could easily do.
This then bizarrely segues into the claim that Obama is a promiscuous homosexual.
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