“Political correctness gone mad”: Christian charity bans Christmas

November 22, 2006

* Christian charity bans Jesus & the bible
* “Has the United States ever engaged in a crusade against Islam? No, never”

 

CONTENTS

1. Prominent British Muslim sent funds to David Irving
2. German police foil plane terror plot
3. Dutch government backs Burqa ban
4. UK legal staff can wear the veil in court
5. Hizb ut-Tahrir infiltrates the British Home Office
6. Turks march against radical Islam
7. Canada rejects “family honor” as a murder defense
8. President of Penn University pictured with suicide bomber
9. “Political correctness gone mad”
10. “Christian charity bans Christmas themed children’s gifts” (D. Mail, Nov. 10, 2006)
11. “Christian Exodus” (AP, Nov. 12, 2006)
12. “In 1796, U.S. vowed friendliness with Islam” (New York Sun, Nov. 7, 2006)

 

This is the second of three dispatches this week highlighting stories about militant Islam. This dispatch concerns radical Islam in Europe and North America.

Yesterday’s dispatch, about radical Islam in Africa and Asia, can be read here.



[Note by Tom Gross]

PROMINENT BRITISH MUSLIM SENT FUNDS TO DAVID IRVING

Asghar Bukhari, a founding member of the influential British Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), has been exposed by The Observer newspaper as a supporter of David Irving, the British “historian” currently serving a three-year prison sentence in an Austrian jail for Holocaust denial.

Bukhari, who is one of Britain’s most prominent speakers on Muslim issues, contacted Irving after reading his website. Bukhari wrote to him “You may feel like you are on your own but rest assured many people are with you in your fight for the Truth.” Bukhari urged Islamic websites to ask visitors to make donations to Irving’s cause, and also donated some of his own money to the Holocaust denier. In a follow-up letter obtained by The Observer Bukhari wrote: “If there is any other way I can help please don’t hesitate to call me. I have also asked many Muslim websites to create links to your own and ask for donations.”

He headed his mail to Irving with a quotation attributed to the philosopher John Locke: “All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to stand idle.”

MPAC, which describes itself as Britain’s largest Muslim civil rights group, and claims to be “merely anti-Zionist,” has a history of anti-Semitism. It was banned by the British National Union of Students from all British university campuses in 2004 for “anti-Semitic” activities, but continues to operate unofficially on campuses.

At the last election MPAC drew up a list of Labour party candidates with links to Israel, whom it urged Muslims to vote out. One MP, Lorna Fitzsimons (who is a subscriber to this email list), lost her seat to the (more anti-Israeli) Liberal Democrats by 400 votes.

* For more on Irving, please see David Irving says from prison: “The Jews will see a second Holocaust in 20 to 30 years” (Feb. 27, 2006). Irving was also mentioned in my article “The barbarians of Europe”.

GERMAN POLICE FOIL PLANE TERROR PLOT

German police have foiled a plot to smuggle a bomb onto a passenger plane. Speaking on condition of anonymity, German security sources said on Monday that the bomb was due to be placed on a plane at Frankfurt International Airport, one of the world’s busiest airports. The German newspaper Die Welt claimed the target was Israel’s El Al airline.

The Berlin daily “Tagesspiegel” reports that the terror cell were from Jordan and other Arab countries, but lived in nine apartments in the German states of Rheinland-Pfalz and Hessen. Die Welt reported on Tuesday they had paid to enlist the help of a male employee of Frankfurt airport who had access to the security department.

German police uncovered a failed plot by two young Lebanese men to detonate suitcase bombs on trains in Germany in July.

DUTCH GOVERNMENT BACKS BURQA BAN

The Dutch immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, who is known for her tough policies, has proposed a ban on Muslim women wearing the burqa in public places. The Dutch cabinet has backed the proposal. The burqa is a full body covering that also obscures the face. The Dutch proposal would ban it being worn on public streets, trains, schools, buses and in law courts.

Verdonk said: “The Cabinet finds it undesirable that face-covering clothing including the burqa is worn in public places for reasons of public order, security and protection of citizens.”

The decision came just before elections were due to be held in the Netherlands today, which the ruling center-right coalition is expected to win.

France has passed a law banning religious symbols, including Muslim headscarves, from high schools. Some German states ban teachers in public schools from wearing headscarves, but there is no blanket rule against burqas. Italy has banned face-coverings, resurrecting old laws passed to combat domestic terrorism, while citing new security fears.

UK LEGAL STAFF CAN WEAR THE VEIL IN COURT

The head of the UK immigration tribunals has also given legal staff permission to wear the Islamic veil in court, including those that fully cover a woman’s face. Mr Justice Hodge, president of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, ruled that legal representatives should be allowed to wear the veil because “it is important to be sensitive in such cases.”

The veil row began after Judge George Glossop objected to Shabnam Mughal, a Muslim, wearing a veil when she appeared at a tribunal in the town of Stoke-on-Trent last week.

England’s most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, was consulted by Mr Justice Hodge (who is the husband of Tony Blair’s Industry minister, Margaret Hodge) before he made his decision.

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw provoked a fierce debate last month when he called the veil a “visible statement of separation and difference” and “bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult.”

HIZB UT-TAHRIR INFILTRATES THE BRITISH HOME OFFICE

A senior member of the militant group Hizb ut-Tahrir which Tony Blair had pledged to ban following last year’s multiple suicide attacks on the London transport system has infiltrated the British Government Home Office. The activist, Abid Javaid, has been employed as an information technology worker at one of the Home Office’s most sensitive branches and has even been given a grant to organize an event for the radical group. Inflammatory videos encouraging Muslims to attack “infidels” were shown at the event.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has a Trotskyite-style policy of “infiltration” in order to create an Islamic state throughout Europe. As noted in the dispatch Dilpazier Aslam, extremist member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, sacked by The Guardian (July 26, 2005), Hizb ut-Tahrir is already banned as a terrorist group in several European countries. In Germany it is also banned under German laws outlawing organizations which propagate Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, but it remains legal in Britain.

This email list/website also reported on Hizb ut-Tahrir in the dispatch Islamic militant Hizb ut-Tahrir infiltrates Reuters (& Prince Harry apologizes) (Sept. 15, 2005).

The HuT infiltration at the British Home Office was discovered by Vigil, a group campaigning against religious extremism. In a mocked-up video shown to new recruits, an actor playing a woman interrogator at Guantanamo Bay was shown wiping blood over the face of a prisoner to make him confess. A student in his twenties working for Vigil, who posed as a recruit to HuT, said: “The reaction was shocking. The group were clenching their fists and shouting, ‘We’ll kill her, how can you do this to our brothers? F****** kuffars [non-believers].’”

The young man, who is known as Jay not his real name was forced to rob three people to show his loyalty to the group. Many of the HuT groups were Black and White converts to Islam. “They were thugs,” said Jay, who spent six months with them.

Although the group claims it is non-violent, its website advocates the introduction of shariah law and adds: “We begin fighting the enemy even if he did not start fighting us.”

Separately, the British Government warned last Friday that “Britain faces a sustained threat from extremist Islamic groups recruiting in British universities.” Bill Rammell, the UK higher education minister, said there was evidence that undergraduates were being “groomed” by groups infiltrating campuses disguised as ordinary students.

The British Muslim Forum, a moderate umbrella group affiliated to almost 300 mosques, welcomed the statement and said that the “radicalism of Muslim youths” on campuses needed to be tackled.

TURKS MARCH AGAINST RADICAL ISLAM

Thousands of Turks marched in Ankara on November 4 “in order to defend secular life against radical Islamic influences.” Around 12,000 people marched to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, chanting “Turkey is secular and will remain secular.” Many Turks fear that if left unchecked, Islamic fundamentalism could lead to a theocracy similar to Iran.

The current Turkish government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stoked secularist concerns. Edrogan has spoken out against restrictions on wearing Islamic-style headscarfs in government offices and schools and supporting religious schools. He also tried to criminalize adultery before being forced to back down under intense EU pressure, and some party-run municipalities have taken steps to ban alcohol.

CANADA REJECTS “FAMILY HONOR” AS A MURDER DEFENSE

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to consider that Muslim cultural and religious beliefs in “family honor” should be taken into account as justification for receiving a lighter sentence for killing an unfaithful wife.

The court this month declined to consider the appeal of Adi Abdul Humaid, a devout Muslim from the United Arab Emirates, who admitted to stabbing Aysar Abbas, then aged 46, to death with a steak knife on a visit to Ottawa in 1999. He stabbed her 23 times in the throat and neck.

Humaid’s lawyer, Richard Bosada, had argued Humaid was provoked by his wife’s claim she cheated on him, an insult so severe in the Muslim faith it deprived him of self-control, and therefore he should receive a lighter sentence. The application claimed that the concept of “family honor” in the Muslim culture means a man is disgraced if his wife has an affair.

The Ontario Court of Appeal concluded Humaid’s defense lacked an “air of reality.” The prosecution said it was “irreconcilable with the principal of gender equality” enshrined in the Charter of Rights. Humaid and Abbas were Canadian citizens who lived in Dubai in 1999.

PRESIDENT OF PENN UNIVERSITY PICTURED WITH SUICIDE BOMBER

Amy Gutmann, the President of the University of Pennsylvania, was pictured at a Halloween party with a student dressed as a suicide bomber. The pictures can be seen here.

Saad Saadi, the student who came dressed as a suicide bomber had plastic dynamite strapped to his chest and a toy automatic rifle. Both Gutmann and Saadi have apologized for the incident.

“POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD”

I attach three articles below. The first, from the (British) Daily Mail, reports on “Samaritan’s Purse” a Christian charity bringing Christmas cheer to needy children abroad, that this year has banned “Jesus, God and anything else connected with its own faith” in case Muslims are offended. As the paper notes, the charity has been accused of “political correctness gone mad”.

The second article reports on Christian populations in Muslim lands, which are in decline, largely as a result of intimidation by radical Islamists. The Associated Press cites Palestinian Christians as a prime example of this phenomenon.

The final article below is an opinion piece by Daniel Pipes who uses a document from 210 years ago to prove “an extraordinary statement of peaceful intent toward Islam” by the United States. Pipes writes: “Has the United States ever engaged in a crusade against Islam? No, never. And, what’s more, one of the country’s earliest diplomatic documents rejects this very idea.”

-- Tom Gross

 

UPDATES: 100 ARRESTED FOR WATCHING A MOVIE

* Updating the item on Azerbaijan in yesterday’s dispatch, the Azerbaijani journalist who criticized Islam along with his editor has been jailed for two months. In addition, an Iranian cleric has offered his house as a reward to anyone who kills the Azeri writer. On Sunday, 50 people gathered in front of the Azeri embassy in Tehran chanting slogans against the author forcing police to cordon off the area.

* Updating the items on Somalia in yesterday’s dispatch, Islamist officials yesterday arrested at least 100 people in Lower Shabelle province in Somalia because they were watching a movie. The new Islamic regime has banned movies. Those arrested included women and children, who were watching an Indian film. The young people taken into custody had their heads shaved, according to news reports (reports which were not carried prominently by liberal-left media in the West).

* The Red Cross today suspended its activities in the Gaza Strip until further notice after Palestinian gunmen kidnapped two of its Italian aid workers yesterday. The two workers were released this morning, Palestinian security officials said. Over the past two years, there has been a rash of kidnappings of foreign aid workers and journalists in Gaza. Officers of Palestinian Authority security services were said to play a major role in many of the abductions. Separately, on Tuesday, Palestinian Islamic gunmen opened fore on the car of Ramallah’s new mayor, who is a Roman Catholic.



FULL ARTICLES

CHRISTIAN CHARITY BANS JESUS & THE BIBLE

Christian charity bans Christmas themed children’s gifts
By Sam Greenhill
The Daily Mail (UK)
November 10, 2006

www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=415551&in_page_id=1770

Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse fears anything relating to Jesus may offend Muslims

It is a Christian charity bringing Christmas cheer to needy children abroad. So its decision to ban Jesus, God and anything else connected with its own faith has been greeted with little short of puzzlement.

Operation Christmas Child, run by the charity Samaritan’s Purse, sends festive packages to deprived youngsters in countries ravaged by war and famine. Donors are asked to pack shoeboxes with a cuddly toy, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap and flannel, notepads, colouring books and crayons but nothing to do with Christmas.

Stories from the Bible, images of Jesus and any other Christian literature are expressely forbidden in case Muslims are offended.

Yesterday the charity’s policy of censoring its own faith was described as political correctness gone mad.

Last Christmas, Britons filled 1.13million shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse to send to children abroad.

But Barbara Hill, who works at the worldwide charity’s UK headquarters in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, said: “Anything we find in the boxes which has a religious nature will be removed.

“If a box was opened by a Muslim child in a Muslim country they may be offended so we try to avoid religious images.” The charity has also banned war-related items such as Action Man-type figures, as well as chocolate and cake.

Yesterday the policy was condemned as “bizarre”. John Midgley, cofounder of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: “It seems extraordinary that a Christian charity is so concerned about political correctness that it is banning itself from its own core values We have members from all faiths who would be appalled at this patronising sort of attitude.”

Mike Slade, the Rural Dean of Locking, Somerset, added: “Personally I think it is a great shame that we can’t share the gift of Christmas which comes from the Christian faith with children all over the world.

“I think a number of Muslim people would respect Christians sharing their faith as they would accept respect from us. Political correctness is increasingly creeping into many spheres of life. We are very sad to hear about this.”

A Church of England spokesman said: “We are very clear that in Britain, Muslims are not offended by Christians celebrating Christmas.”

But he added: “In other parts of the world, in Muslim countries, if Muslims have strong values that would regard this as a hostile act, it is different. Ideally, a child would receive a present with a Madonna and Child card, but if that is not possible, it is more important than the aid gets through than the Christian message.”

The appeal sends shoe boxes from Britain to children in countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Romania, Serbia, Sudan and Mozambique.

Although no Christian literature is included in the boxes, the charity does separately distribute Christmas stories from the Bible and encourages Bible study in areas where it gives toys out.

A spokesman for Samaritan’s Purse, which was introduced to Britain by evangelist Billy Graham and is run internationally by his son Franklin, said: “Christianity motivates many of our supporters to help children in need. We are a Christian charity and that’s about helping people.

“But it’s our policy not to put religious, political or military items in boxes which go to areas of different cultures. All shoeboxes are checked in the UK warehouses in case someone has ignored the instruction and put such an item into a shoebox and, if found, any such item is removed.”

Devoutly Christian MP Ann Widdecombe said: “Either this is being done in the name of Christ or it isn’t. This is Christmas, a Christian festival. If it’s being done for Christmas, there is no reason on earth why they should not have Christian symbols.”

Last year, Lambeth Council in South London renamed its Christmas street decorations ‘Winter Lights’ to avoid offending non-Christians, while several years ago, Birmingham City Council notoriously rebranded the Christmas holidays ‘Winterval’.

 

IN MUSLIM LANDS, CHRISTIAN POPULATIONS ARE IN DECLINE

Christian Exodus
By Brian Murphy
The Associated Press
November 12, 2006

The death threat came on simple white fliers blowing down the streets at dawn. A group calling itself “Friends of Muhammad” accused a local Palestinian Christian of selling mobile phones carrying offensive sketches of the Muslim prophet.

The message went on to curse all Arab Christians and Pope Benedict XVI, still struggling to calm Muslim outrage from his remarks on Islam.

While neighbors defended the merchant saying the charges in the flier were bogus the frightened phone dealer went into hiding, feeling less than satisfied with authorities’ conclusion that the Oct. 19 note was probably a harmless rant.

Now the dealer is thinking of going abroad.

Call it part of a modern exodus, the steady flight of the tiny Palestinian Christian minority that could lead, some predict, to the faith being virtually extinct in its birthplace within several generations a trend mirrored in many dwindling pockets of Christianity across the Islamic world.

This is one of the major themes the pope is expected to carry to Turkey for a four-day visit beginning Nov. 28 his first papal visit to a predominantly Muslim nation. The Vatican calls it “reciprocity:” Muslim demands for greater sensitivity from the West must be accompanied by stronger protections and rights for Christian minorities.

In some places, such as Pakistan, it means more safeguards from extremist attacks. In Indonesia and elsewhere, it touches on appeals to quell growing sectarian clashes. In Turkey, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, it seeks to preserve communities dating back to the time when Jesus and his apostles preached.

But nearly everywhere in Muslim lands, Christian populations are in decline.

NO PLACE IS THIS MORE STRIKING THAN THE HOLY LAND

For decades, it was mostly economic pressures pushing Palestinian Christians to emigrate, using family ties in the West or contacts from missionary schools. The Palestinian uprisings and the separation barrier started by Israel in 2002 accelerated the departures by turning once-bustling pilgrimage sites such as Bethlehem into relative ghost towns.

The growing strength of radical Islamic movements has added distinct new worries. During the protests after the pope’s remarks in September, some of the worst violence was in Palestinian areas with churches firebombed and hit by gunfire.

“Most of the Christians here are either in the process of leaving, planning to leave or thinking of leaving,” said Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem-based peace group. “Insecurity is deep and getting worse.”

The native Palestinian Christian population has dipped below 2 percent of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab East Jerusalem, down from at least 15 percent in 1950 by some estimates. Meanwhile, the Muslim Palestinian birthrate is among the highest in the world.

Dire predictions abound. The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land said Christians could become “extinct” in the region within 60 years.

“It certainly doesn’t look good for us,” said Mike Salman, a Palestinian Christian who has conducted studies on demographic trends.

A WALK ALONG SHEPHERD STREET PUTS A FACE TO THE LAMENT

Hannah Qumsieh spends his days playing online poker, fretting about unpaid bills and trimming his lemon trees at his house overlooking the field where the Bible says an angel told shepherds of the birth of Jesus. Qumsieh retired from the Palestinian tourism office last year, but has received no pension checks since the militant faction Hamas won elections in January and the West slashed aid to the Palestinian Authority.

“If I had money to leave, I would,” he said, casting a glance at the newly built white-stone house next door in Beit Sahour, one of the last Christian-dominated enclaves in the West Bank. Bethlehem, just up the hill, is now less than 20 percent Christian.

A day earlier, Qumsieh’s eldest son turned over the house keys to tenants and took his family to Chile. Down the road, a Christian restaurant owner, Ibrahim Shomali, is selling what he can before he leaves with his wife this month. They will head for Flint, Mich., to join his brother and hunt for work in one of the most economically depressed areas of America.

Shomali also will leave a stack of paperwork for his lawyer, who is fighting a group that took control of land that Shomali insists has been in his family for more than a century. Christians claim Muslim gangs routinely try to seize Christian property using doctored documents, but Palestinian authorities say it’s random lawlessness in areas where land deeds are not registered.

“Here is where Jesus was born and over there, across the hill in Jerusalem, is where he was crucified,” Shomali said. “We Christians now feel like we are on the cross.”

SOME ARE TRYING TO CHANGE THE MOMENTUM

Groups dedicated to Muslim-Christian cooperation are active. During the protests over Benedict’s remarks, militiamen from Islamic Jihad vowed to protect a West Bank church. A poll released Oct. 18 by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found 91 percent of respondents opposed attacking churches to protest Benedict’s comments.

Fuad Kokali, one of six Christian deputies in the 132-seat Palestinian parliament, proclaimed there “are no religious divides” in the struggle against Israeli occupation.

But, after a while, he told another story. He spoke of how Muslims and Christians mixed freely at weddings and other events in the 1980s. Now, it’s a rarity, he said.

“The world is becoming a more unstable and frightening place,” he said. “In these times, people revert back to their core identity. That means closing yourself within your religion and looking out at the other with suspicion.”

These days Palestinian Christians dominated by Greek Orthodox and Latin rite churches loyal to the pope face questions about whether their hearts lie in their homeland or in the West. It gets even more complicated because of the strong support for Israel and Jewish settlers from American evangelical Christians.

“We are stuck in no man’s land,” said a leading Palestinian Christian activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of reported death threats. “In the eyes of the West, we are Arabs. In the eyes of Arabs, we are a fifth column.”

The choice is either stand up against Muslim radicals or doom Holy Land Christianity to a slow death, said Ayman Abuaita, a Christian leader who previously served in the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, which has waged suicide bombings against Israelis.

“This is our land. This is where our faith was born,” he said. “We cannot be weak and just fade away.”

BUT BEING BOLD CAN BRING A BACKLASH

On Oct. 12, Christians students at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank protested an exhibit by an Islamic group that included artwork mocking the pontiff and a poem deriding Christianity. The argument deteriorated into a brief melee with fists and sticks.

No one was seriously injured, but political and religious leaders rushed to the college to try to keep the violence from spreading as it did in 2002 when Beit Sahour was engulfed by street battles after a Muslim man took a surreptitious photo of a Christian woman in a changing room.

At the St. Theodosius Monastery, a site with a Christian history dating to the fifth century, the Greek Orthodox caretaker, Father Ierotheos, said he mostly remains behind the walls. He claims he was harassed by “Muslim fanatics” for speaking about Christian fears on a local television show.

“It’s a jungle for us now,” he said.

Every Friday, the noontime bells from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem ring out during prayer calls at a mosque on the other side of Manger Square.

“You can hear the bells and think that it is a sign that Christians will never be pushed out of this land,” said Abuaita. “Or you can hear it as a cry for help.”

 

“THE UNITED STATES IS NOT FIGHTING ISLAM THE RELIGION BUT RADICAL ISLAM”

In 1796, U.S. vowed friendliness with Islam
By Daniel Pipes
The New York Sun
November 7, 2006

Has the United States ever engaged in a crusade against Islam? No, never. And, what’s more, one of the country’s earliest diplomatic documents rejects this very idea.

Exactly 210 years ago this week, toward the end of George Washington’s second presidential administration, a document was signed with the first of two Barbary Pirate states. Awkwardly titled the “Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796 (3 Ramada I, A. H. 1211), and at Algiers January 3, 1797 (4 Rajab, A. H. 1211),” it contains an extraordinary statement of peaceful intent toward Islam.

The agreement’s 11th article (out of twelve) reads: As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

In June 1797, the Senate unanimously ratified this treaty, which President John Adams immediately signed into law, making it an authoritative expression of American policy.

In 2006, as voices increasingly present the “war on terror” as tantamount to a war on Islam or Muslims, it bears notice that several of the Founding Fathers publicly declared they had no enmity “against the laws, religion or tranquility” of Muslims. This antique treaty implicitly supports my argument that the United States is not fighting Islam the religion but radical Islam, a totalitarian ideology that did not even exist in 1796.

Beyond shaping relations with Muslims, the statement that “the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” has for 210 years been used as a proof text by those who argue that, in the words of a 1995 article by Steven Morris, “The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians.”

But a curious story lies behind the remarkable 11th article. The official text of the signed treaty was in Arabic, not English; the English wording quoted above was provided by the famed diplomat who negotiated it, Joel Barlow (1754-1812), then the American consul-general in Algiers. The U.S. government has always treated his translation as its official text, reprinting it countless times.

There are just two problems with it.

First, as noted by David Hunter Miller (1875-1961), an expert on American treaties, “the Barlow translation is at best a poor attempt at a paraphrase or summary of the sense of the Arabic.” Second, the great Dutch orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), reviewed the Arabic text in 1930, retranslated it, and found no 11th article. “The eleventh article of the Barlow translation has no equivalent whatever in the Arabic,” he wrote. Rather, the Arabic text at this spot reprints a grandiloquent letter from the pasha of Algiers to the pasha of Tripoli.

Snouck Hurgronje dismisses this letter as “nonsensical.” It “gives notice of the treaty of peace concluded with the Americans and recommends its observation. Three fourths of the letter consists of an introduction, drawn up by a stupid secretary who just knew a certain number of bombastic words and expressions occurring in solemn documents, but entirely failed to catch their real meaning.”

These many years later, how such a major discrepancy came to be is cloaked in obscurity and it “seemingly must remain so,” Hunter Miller wrote in 1931. “Nothing in the diplomatic correspondence of the time throws any light whatever on the point.”

But the textual anomaly does have symbolic significance. For 210 long years, the American government has bound itself to a friendly attitude toward Islam, without Muslims having signed on to reciprocate, or without their even being aware of this promise. The seeming agreement by both parties not to let any “pretext arising from religious opinions” to interrupt harmonious relations, it turns out, is a purely unilateral American commitment.

And this one-sided legacy continues to the present. The Bush administration responded to acts of unprovoked Muslim aggression not with hostility toward Islam but with offers of financial aid and attempts to build democracy in the Muslim world.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.