Threats Real and Bogus

No-one can sensibly deny that those who offend Islamic extremists can find themselves on the receiving end of threats and murderous violence, even if they live outside the Islamic world. Most famous, of course, was the religious judgement against Salman Rushdie passed 20 years ago; as the Economist recalls:

Rarely had a book stirred up such intense feelings. Hitoshi Igarashi, its Japanese translator, was stabbed to death. Ettore Capriolo, the Italian translator and William Nygaard, the book’s Norwegian publisher, were stabbed and shot respectively, although both survived. Bookshops were bombed and the tome was burned in public across the world. Mr Rushdie, fearing for his life, was forced into hiding.

More recently, in 2004 we saw the murder of Theo van Gogh at the hands of an extremist offended by his Submission film, and his scriptwriter, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, remains under threat. The UK Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, has received death threats and is under police protection, and of course we all remember the sanguinary banners at the Danish cartoon protests. All this is, needless to say, an appalling state of affairs.

However, that does not mean that we should suspend critical faculties every time someone cries out that they are the victim of unwelcome Jihadi attentions. Here are a few contrived cases that deserve a more sceptical reception:

1. Patrick Sookhdeo and the Barnabas Fund. As I blogged just a few days ago, Sookhdeo has spoken of his “great hurt and distress” after his book Global Jihad got a bad review from Ben White, and the Barnabas Fund has told supporters that “we are very concerned for Patrick’s safety and that of his family” because a Muslim blogger who knows White concurred. In fact, though, Sookhdeo has provided no evidence of any threat, and his anti-Islam views have been public knowledge for a long time – this is more about Sookhdeo’s desire to take revenge on White, even at the cost of damaging the reputation of the Barnabas Fund.

2. Glen Jenvey. Jenvey is currently under investigation by the Press Complaints Commission over claims that he made pseudonymous postings to a Muslim discussion forum as a certain “abuislam” and then presented those postings to the Sun as evidence of extremism. The story was reported in the Guardian here. Jenvey alleges that the PCC is thus guilty of “hate crimes” against him and that it is protecting Al-Qaeda. Jenvey also alleges that the Guardian covered the story because the editor wished to protect a Muslim who wrote some columns for the paper some time ago, and who may be the real “abuislam”. While Jenvey has been swift to expound this bizarre conspiracy theory, he has not yet explained why “abuislam” shared the same identifying details as a certain “Richard Tims”, who posted to the same forum several months ago to promote a website owned by Jenvey.

3. Joseph Farah. In 2008 WorldNetDaily published a book about ex-Muslims called Why We Left Islam. Farah gleefully predicted riots across the Muslim world, but instead all that happened was that CAIR issued a statement pointing out that Farah was known for anti-Islam views and that the book should be ignored. Farah then laughably claimed it was unfair to suggest he was anti-Islam, and that CAIR had lied by suggesting he had run a column which suggested dropping pigs’ blood over Afghanistan. In fact, Farah has always been perfectly open with his anti-Islam views, and he had run a post-9/11 column which suggested (jokingly) putting pigs’ blood in Kabul’s water supply. Farah whined that CAIR’s “Hooper put a target on my back”, and he threatened to sue for libel. Obviously, this was a shameless attempt to concoct a death threat where none existed.

There are other cases where death threats have been asserted, but curiously no police investigation appears to have followed.

Presumably these characters think that no-one will dare to challenge them lest they be accused of supporting Islamic extremism. It seems to me, though, that crying “wolf” like this when people have been killed or had their lives blighted by real Islamic extremists is particularly distasteful and reprehensible.

4 Responses

  1. A threat fake or real is still a threat.

  2. Not if it’s been made up by the person claiming to be under threat.

  3. […] I also noted last year, this is not the first time that WND editor Joseph Farah has trivialised what happened to Rushdie […]

  4. […] I also noted last year, this is not the first time that WND editor Joseph Farah […]

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