In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
This was posted on the Chicago Tribune’s religion blog The Seeker.
Imagine an ad on a Chicago taxicab or bus that has a picture of a child. On top of the picture is this statement: “Victim of Priest Sexual Abuse”, and below is a website: LeaveCatholicismSafely.com. When you visit this site, you realize that it has nothing to do with priest sexual abuse, but it is an attack site on Catholic Christianity.
How would Catholics feel about this? What would the Catholic Church say? I suspect that there would be a huge outcry against such an ad. Yet such an ad about Islam has hit the Chicago taxi cabs, and there has not been any peep of protest, from either Muslims or non-Muslims. Perhaps this is intentional, not wanting to give the group behind the ad – Stop the Islamicization of America – any attention at all.
Nevertheless, the ads are wholly disingenuous. They capitalize on a truly horrific crime, so-called “Honor Killings,” to attack the religion of Islam by repeating the multiply-debunked myth that Islam calls for the murder of those who leave the faith. Islam does not endorse the death penalty for anyone who leaves its fold. Indeed, hundreds of Muslim scholars, thinkers, academics, and writers – among which I am honored to be counted – have affirmed this fact.
Honor killings are a truly repugnant stain on the human fabric, and they must be eradicated. And, sadly, many honor killings do occur in Muslim majority nations. Yet, as mentioned by the United Nations:
According to a 2002 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, “honour killings” take place in Pakistan, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Morocco and other Mediterranean and Gulf countries. It also occurs in countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom within immigrant communities. It is not only in Islamic countries or communities that this act of violence is prevalent. Brazil is cited as a case in point, where killing is justified to defend the honour of the husband in the case of a wife’s adultery .
In addition, Human Rights Watch recently issued this statement:
The Indian government should urgently investigate and prosecute those responsible for the recent spurt in reported “honor” killings, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should also strengthen laws that protect against kinship, religion-based, and caste-based violence, and take appropriate action against local leaders who endorse or tolerate such crimes…
So, contrary to what SIOA intimates with these taxi ads, “honor killings” are a problem that cross ethnic and religious lines.
Nevertheless, It is astonishing that this ad uses the legitimate problem of “honor killings,” against which I have been vocal, to try to attack Islam and create a wedge with which they can divide Americans on religious lines. Now, SIOA has the right to say whatever they want to say about Islam; they have the right to hate Islam outright. But, it is my hope and prayer that fellow Americans can see through this ad campaign and reject the messages of division and intolerance that they espouse.