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“Bridge-Building” to Nowhere: The Catholic Church’s Case Study in Interfaith Delusion

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The Interfaith Racket: Passport to Credibility

by Douglas Murray

Interfaith dialogue is one of those things it can seem impossible to be against. What reasonable, rational person could possibly object to people of different faiths coming together and discussing their differences? Well, as with any negotiation, the problem only really comes if one individual, or group of individuals, heads into the discussion ignorantly or naively while another knows exactly what he is planning to get from it.

Such is the case with much of the interfaith dialogue conversations in Britain today and there can be no better exemplar than that thrown up by an old friend of this column – the disgraced ex-Labour peer Lord Ahmed of Rotherham.

Lord Ahmed, it will be remembered is the serially expelled “first Muslim peer” in Britain. Having been hastily promoted by the Labour party, his career in public life reached a nadir a few years ago when, whilst texting on his mobile phone, the noble lord ran over and killed a man on a motorway. Ahmed went to jail for driving offenses, and has cropped up a number of times since – most recently a few weeks ago, when a recording came to light – courtesy of the Times (London) newspaper – showing Ahmed on television in Pakistan. In that interview (conducted in Urdu) Ahmed was shown, among other things, blaming his conviction and imprisonment for driving offences on Jewish lawyers and Jewish media.

Swiftly expelled by the Labour party, Ahmed had to face yet another disciplinary process (he has been reinstated before). He has now said that he does not wish to go through the process and has resigned from the Labour party. So far, so sad. But one of the matters least considered was his membership in numerous groups which held themselves out as providing “interfaith dialogue” between the Muslim community and – in particular – the Jewish community. The Joseph Interfaith Foundation, for instance, featured Ahmed as a Trustee.

The Joseph Interfaith Foundation declares itself to be “committed to fostering engagement through constructive and realistic dialogue and interaction between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain. The Foundation also aims to promote a deeper understanding of both faiths among the general public.” How that squares with having one of your Trustees blame the Jews for his driving offense and sentencing is a difficult question to answer. What seems at least plausible is that Ahmed – who had a long track record of sympathizing with the most extreme Islamists – used interfaith networks to give himself credibility.

When the Times revealed the story of the Pakistan interview, Ahmed took the opportunity of an interview with a Muslim journalist to say how sorry he was to the Jewish community. Now – true to form – he has backtracked on that backtrack. And the manner in which this has been done speaks as much to the naivety of “interfaith dialogue” as it does to the matter of Ahmed’s sincerity.

For, as London’s Jewish Chronicle recently reported, before Ahmed’s final resignation, he chose once more to play the victim card. Ahead of his suspension hearing with the Parliamentary Labour party, he claimed that he would not receive a fair hearing because he had not seen the evidence against himself. Despite the fact that theTimes posted the expository video on its website and paid a number of translators who all agreed that the words that came out of Ahmed’s mouth on the tape were the words that come out of his mouth, Ahmed said: “I don’t have the evidence against me.”…

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Islamists Exploiting the Interfaith Racket

By Hillel Zaremba

While it is all well and good to encourage the commonalities that unite Americans of all faiths, it is equally important to inquire into the bona fides of organizations that onlyclaim to promote tolerance. Philadelphia presents a sorry but enlightening example of how groups whose agendas directly challenge American values get a free pass from the interfaith establishment due largely to the firmly held belief that “diverse” (and disquieting) viewpoints must be respected — as long as they are Muslim.

A prime example of this is the Mayor’s Office of Faith-based Initiatives(MOFI), “the primary liaison between the Office of the Mayor and Philadelphia’s diverse communities of faith and their leaders.” Despite being provided with evidence of the U.S. government’s case against one of its partners, the terror-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the office’s interim director, Reverend Malcolm Byrd, declared: “We will engage with CAIR. … We don’t have to endorse you to work with you.” After reviewing the evidence, MOFI decided to maintain the relationship.

According to this twisted logic, MOFI ought to welcome the KKK, a group which misappropriates Christian symbols and beliefs, or local supporters of the Westboro Baptist Church, with their strident attacks on homosexuals and Jews. It does not, but it does welcome the Nation of Islam, whose leader Louis Farrakhan unabashedly declares Jews to be part of “the Synagogue of Satan.”

A similar approach is exhibited by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia (ICGP), “dedicated to interreligious dialogue, education, and community building.” It seemed reasonable to assume that the organization would want to vet its members to some degree, to be sure they truly embrace tolerance and respect for diversity. The ICGP’s executive director, Abby Stamelman Hocky, soon disabused us of that notion.

While teens that take part in an ICGP initiative called Walking the Walk are encouraged to ask “the tough questions,” Hocky was disinclined to take seriously information collected from the websites of three of the Muslim groups participating in it. If we really knew the leaders of these groups, we were told, we would be convinced they were, in truth, moderates; repeated requests to facilitate meetings with these leaders were ignored.

By ignoring the ideologies held by Muslim groups, the ICGP and others afford cover for those whose beliefs would otherwise be abhorrent to them, like the Villanova-based Foundation for Islamic Education (FIE). FIE hasdescribed itself as a satellite campus of Al-Azhar University of Cairo, while its leaders and faculty have sanctioned suicide attacks against Israeli civiliansdefended the execution of Muslims who convert out of their faith and threatened Copts  for questioning the Qur’an….

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“Islamophobia”

“…The “world” was not “compelled to coin a new term” — it was Muslims who coined the word, and they did so deliberately. For that word so deliberately kept undefined is merely a weapon employed to deflect criticism, to label all those who may offer criticism of Islam and of its adherents, basing their criticism not on some blind prejudice, but on their own observations and study. Indeed, the entire Western world — its political leaders, its media, its university departments of Middle Eastern studies — have all been engaged in a massive effort to deflect criticism or disarm it. It is despite all that that Infidels everywhere are coming to some conclusions about Islam, and the more they study, and the more they observe, and the more “Interfaith” gatherings and little Muslim Outreach evenings they attend, all of which end up being dismal exercises in Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque argumentation, the more wary, and critical, and indignant, and sometimes more, they become. The game is up. From a Beslan school full of children to a Bali nightclub full of revellers, from Madrid subways to Moscow theatres, from New York skyscrapers to Najaf mosques (where Sadr’s bezonians tortured, killed, and stacked the bodies of Iraqis who had opposed their reign of terror), from Istanbul to India, the evidence just keeps piling up. And the evidence, too, of what is actually in the Qur’an and hadith and sira — and how many Infidels, a few years ago, even had heard of the “hadith” and the “sira,” or had any idea what was really in the Qur’an, or had ever heard of the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya — now online, and it can easily be read. And all the excuses, all the nonsense, can no longer be offered up — for we Infidels, fortunately, have the guidance of defectors from Islam, ex-Muslims such as Ibn Warraq (whose own guide to debating Muslims, and how not to be intimidated or snookered, will for many prove invaluable)…”

Read more: http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/11102/sec_id/11102

Saudi “Propaganda Center” Sets Up Shop in Vienna

by Soeren Kern

Saudi Arabia is spearheading the establishment of a controversial new “interreligious and intercultural dialogue center” in the Austrian capital Vienna.

The King Abdullah Center for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue (herehere and here) was inaugurated at the Albertina Museum in downtown Vienna on October 13. The foreign ministers of the three founding states — Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia — were in attendance. The institution will be located at the Palais Sturany on the Schottenring in the heart of Vienna.

The Saudis say the purpose of the multi-million-dollar initiative is to “foster dialogue” between the world’s major religions in order to “prevent conflict.”

But critics say the center is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to establish a permanent “propaganda center” in central Europe from which to spread the conservative Wahhabi sect of Islam.

Austrian politicians on all sides of the political aisle have criticized the initiative.

The Green Party, which governs Vienna in a coalition, said the center glorified a country “where freedom of religion and opinion are foreign words.”

“Austria should not allow itself to be misused in this way, to allow itself to be involved in whitewash by a repressive Saudi regime which is using this center as a fig leaf for its dishonorable human rights situation,” the party said in a statement.

The only Muslim member of the Austrian Parliament, the Turkish-born Alev Korun, branded the project as “highly absurd.” She said Spindelegger “must be either incredibly naïve or only interested in business relations with Saudi Arabia.” She also accused the foreign minister of “closing both eyes” to breaches of human rights in Saudi Arabia.

The center-right Die Presse newspaper said in an editorial titled “Islamic Center in Vienna: Austria-Aid for Propagandists of Intolerance?” that: “The Austrian government needs to ask itself whether it knows what it is doing: Is it not known that as the state religion of Saudi Arabia Wahhabism is fiercely opposed to other religions and uses ‘intercultural dialogue’ as a means for aggressive proselytizing?”

“To clarify: Wahhabism is the only officially recognized and allowed religion in Saudi Arabia. Other forms of Islam and other religions are banned and persecuted by the state. Saudi Arabia is the only Islamic state in which there is no church, no synagogue and no other place of worship of any other religion. Shiite Muslims have been systematically discriminated against for decades. Jews are even forbidden to enter the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia practices a form of Sharia law that is one of the most brutal systems in the world. Saudi Arabia has at all times rejected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Women may not drive a car and can be punished by flogging. Corporal punishment, including amputations and executions, are part of everyday life in the country. Just two weeks ago a Sudanese immigrant in Saudi Arabia was publicly beheaded for ‘sorcery.’ Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world in which the death penalty is enforced even on teenagers,” the paper said.

The paper concludes: “Does the Austrian Foreign Ministry really want to give such a state the opportunity to build an international propaganda center in Austria?”

Critics also say the Saudis deliberately chose Vienna to serve as the headquarters for the new organization because of the city’s historic role in preventing Islam from overrunning Christian Europe during the Siege of Vienna in 1529 and the Battle of Vienna in 1683. The Saudis, they say, are simply fighting a new phase of a very old conflict….

More: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2519/saudi-propaganda-center-vienna

 

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