News from the Arab World

Shillman Journalism Fellow Raymond Ibrahim translates and interprets news that never makes it to English.

Christians Should "Convert, Pay Tribute, or Leave," Says Muslim Brotherhood Presidential Candidate?

According to the popular Egyptian website, El Bashayer, Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, just declared that he will "achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya," the traditional Islamic tax, or financial tribute, required of non-Muslim "dhimmis."

In a brief report written by Samuel al-Ashay and published by El Bashayer on May 27, Morsi allegedly made these comments while speaking with a journalist at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, adding "We will not allow Ahmed Shafiq [his contending presidential candidate] or anyone else to impede our second Islamic conquest of Egypt."

After his interviewer pointed out that the first Muslim conquest of Egypt was "carried out at the hands of Amr bin al-As [in 641]," he asked Morsi, "Who will the second Islamic conqueror be?" The presidential candidate replied, "The second Muslim conqueror will be Muhammad Morsi," referring to himself, "and history will record it."

When asked what he thought about many Christian Copts coming out to vote for his secular opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, Morsi reportedly said, "They need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya or emigrate."

If this interview is accurate, certainly Morsi would not be the first political Islamist in Egypt to say he wants to see the nation's Christians subjugated and made to pay jizya (see here for more examples).

However, considering that English language media are currently reporting that Morsi is trying to woo Egypt's Christians and women, to win more votes, it is difficult to imagine that he actually made these comments: one does not doubt that he favors the idea of a "second Islamic conquest" and the subjugation of Christians; one doubts that he would be so foolish as to reveal his mind now, publicly, and thereby jeopardize his chances of winning the presidency.

Then again, his remarks are reported in the context of a private meeting at the headquarters of the Brotherhood's political party. Perhaps a relaxed Morsi thought he was speaking to a fellow Islamist who would not expose him? Perhaps he was annoyed at having to win Christian Copts over and was "venting" for a moment? Stay tuned.

Saudis Demand Punishment for McDonald's Toy that 'Insults Muhammad'

Saudi Arabians are angry at a McDonald's toy which they say mocks their prophet Muhammad. According to a report appearing May 27th on the Arabic news website,, the McDonald's fast food restaurant "abused the Prophet Muhammad by placing his name at the base of a toy that is being distributed as part of the Happy Meal, a toy which steps on the name 'Muhammad.'"

The toy consists of a blue superhero figurine (apparently a Power Ranger Samurai). It stands on one leg, and, when the lever is pressed, it pounds on the base with the other leg. According to the Saudis, the designs that appear all around the base, where the figurine stomps its foot, is really the name "Muhammad" written several times in circles (click here for pictures).

The toy had been distributed a few days before Saudi children and their parents began to take note of the name. Soon thereafter, Saudi Muslims launched several campaigns against McDonald's in "response to the savage attacks on the noble Prophet," under banners like "Help your Prophet!" and "Together in support of the Prophet."

Saudis, "demanding the strongest possible punishment for the restaurant" and insisting that "they will not be silent until this is realized," further complained how such an obvious insult could pass the supervision of the management at McDonald's.

In response, "Saudi McDonald's" has withdrawn the toy from all its restaurants, "in order to safeguard against any accusations or misunderstandings."

Salafi Leader: No Freedom in Islam; Apostates Must be Persecuted

Last month, Sheikh Yassir al-Burhami, a prominent figure in Egypt's Salafi movement—who also hates Christian Coptshates Mother's Day, and is an advocate of taqiyya—appeared on the Egyptian show Al Hayat Al Youm ("Life Today"), giving his views on the presidential candidates. At one point, the host asked Burhami which of the policies of Abu al-Futuh—the "liberal" Islamist candidate who lost out to the more "conservative" Muslim Brotherhood candidate—he especially rejected.

Burhami started vaguely, saying, "There were some things we were concerned about," adding that they met and discussed these matters with Abu al-Futuh, and how the latter had clarified his position, finally agreeing that he might need to revise his opinion.

Then Burhami made clear what the issue at hand was: Apostasy—if Muslims have the right to leave Islam and convert to other religions. In the words of Burhami:

For example, is it the right of the Muslim to convert to Christianity or another religion? Of course this is not a right; this is a matter that Sharia has clearly addressed, according to the agreed upon hadiths. It is impermissible, for any reason, for a Muslim to leave the community. Of course, you cannot coerce any infidel to enter into Islam [Koran 2:256]—except for the apostate. It is impossible to let the apostate remain in [a state of] apostasy, deeming it a form of "freedom."

For the record, the "agreed upon hadiths" that Burhami indicated are, in fact, unequivocal in regards to the crime of apostasy. The most canonical and oft cited among them simply has Muhammad saying: "Whoever leaves his religion, kill him."

Egyptian Sheikh Makes Female U.S. Official Wear Hijab

According to El Badil, Sheikh Ahmed al-Mahlawi recently gave a sermon in his popular Alexandrian mosque, warning the ulema (Islam's scholars and theologians) from "appearing on TV programs with women who do not wear the hijab." He pointed out that some Islamic leaders make the excuse that, because they see non-veiled women all the time in the streets of Egypt, sitting with one at a TV studio should be fine as well.

For Sheikh Mahlawi, however, the ulema have no choice about seeing non-veiled women in the streets, "since that is imposed on them," but, where they have a say—such as whether to appear on TV with an unveiled woman—they must say no. He then proceeded to brag about how a female official from the U.S. Consulate wanted to meet with him, but he made her wear the hijab first. Finally, he culminated his sermon by saying "those who do not wish to apply Allah's Sharia" are also those who "love the West, and wish to implement homosexual marriage."

Saudi Arabia: Child Flogged and 'Severely Beaten' by Koran Teacher

In Saudi Arabia, it was recently revealed that a 5-year-old boy was "severely beaten" and whipped by his teacher, with "wounds appearing on various parts of his body." According to Garaa News, it is unknown why the teacher scourged the child, and the teacher's identity has been withheld to protect him from the boy's father who is attempting to press charges.

What is known, however, is that the man was a teacher of Koran studies and memorization, and the location of the school is Mecca, the holiest city of Islam—two facts that speak for themselves, and Islam, much more honestly than the ongoing depictions of Islam as the "religion of peace" championed by Muslim apologists in the West.

Egypt: Taqiyya in Action

Here is an interesting anecdote of taqiyya—the Islamic doctrine that permits lies and hypocrisy whenever Muslims fear their stronger adversaries, including fellow Muslims: Soon after the clash between Egypt's military and Islamists at al-Abbassia, Sheikh Hassan Abu al-Ashbal, one of the leaders of the Salafi party, declared a full-blown jihad against the military—only to retract it, once the Egyptian media exposed it. Backing down, al-Ashbal said that he was "angry at the spilling of innocent blood by the military," and so he "spoke words he did not mean," including his "declaration of war and the raising of the banner of jihad in Egypt."

Instead, the sheikh redirected his rage at those who exposed him—the "rabid media," which he proceeded to blame for the chaos in Egypt. This, of course, is reminiscent of the recent threats Egypt's On TV received from the "Jihad Group to Cleanse the Country," which blamed the media station of "seeking to destroy the nation and create chaos to implement the American and Zionist agenda." Apparently, some Egyptian media are not as sympathetic or apathetic to the Islamist agenda as are their counterparts in the West, no doubt because the threat is much closer to home.

Lebanon: Church Pastor Abducted for Baptizing Muslim Girl

One of the classic rules of dhimmitude, recorded in the infamous Pact of Omar—which mandates several debilitations and humiliations for non-Muslims living under Islam (it was first ratified with the conquered Christians of Syria)—commands Christians never to convert Muslims to their religion. If they do so, their blood becomes halal, or free game.

Some fourteen centuries later, not much has changed. According to Al Ahram, on May 7, "unknown persons" tracked down and abducted the Christian pastor of Our Lady of Assistance Church, in Baalbek, Lebanon—a Hezbollah stronghold. The reason? He baptized a Muslim woman who, after being trapped in her parents' house, escaped and came to him, wishing to become Christian.

Jordan: Bank Fires Women for Refusing to Wear Hijab

Several Arabic news reports appeared yesterday, Tuesday, May 22, exposing the new hijab policy of the Jordanian Dubai Islamic Bank. Under new ownership, bank management recently decreed that all females must wear the hijab, the Islamic veil, or be terminated. According to Najem News—which says the bank's policy "contradicts Jordan's laws and constitutions"—the bank "fired all female employees who refused to wear the hijab, after warning them that it is mandatory, despite the fact that some of the employees are Christians." There are also suspicions that, along with Islamizing the bank's atmosphere, this new policy was further set to target and terminate the Christian employees, since it is they who are most likely to reject the hijab.

One female Christian employee who had worked at the bank for 27 years is among those just fired. Though not available for comment, an associate of hers said in response to the new hijab rule: "Is this to be the new approach in Jordan during the Arab Spring revolutions—suppression of freedoms, intolerance for others, the exercise of intellectual terrorism, the quantization of minds, and the imposition of obligations in the name of religion?"

Some may be tempted to draw parallels between this and similar precedents in the West. For instance, some Western banks refuse to serve Muslim women in full hijab. However, this is done for security measures—shown by the fact that the hijab is not singled out, but also hats, hoods and sunglasses—whereas the Jordanian Dubai Islam Bank is basing its policy entirely on religious discrimination. More to the point, forcing Christian women to wear the hijab is no different than forcing Muslim women to wear a cross.

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