Ben Carson slanders Islam: Here’s exactly why his claims about Muslims are dead wrong

deadstate-Ben-CarsonThe neurosurgeon-turned-Republican candidate is spreading absurd lies about the world’s second-largest religion

In his recent anti-Muslim crusade, Ben Carson promoted a disturbing form of religious segregation, claiming that a Muslim should only be president if he or she “renounces the tenets of Islam.”

Sadly, just as racial segregationists long garnered votes by promoting fear of black Americans, religious segregationists such as Carson today garner votes by promoting fear of Muslim Americans. In fact, Carson’s anti-Muslim intolerance has advanced his polling numbers and dramatically increased his campaign fundraising.

In the process, Dr. Carson has helped promote and sustain frighteningly high levels of anti-Muslim sentiment. A recent PPP survey in North Carolina reported that 72 percent believe a Muslim should not be allowed to be president of the United States. Likewise, 40 percent seek to ban Islam altogether.

Under Dr. Carson’s crusade of religious segregation, some Americans appear to have forgotten the First Amendment’s fundamental religious freedom guarantee, and likewise Article VI of the Constitution, which forbids religious tests for any government office. Like his racial segregationist predecessors, Dr. Carson demonstrates that the Constitution is suddenly meaningless when influential politicians use fear and hate to advance their agenda.

Undeterred from his myopic comments on CNN and the resulting blowback last week, Carson advanced his religious segregationist views in a recent email to his constituents, claiming that “Under Shariah law, women must be subservient and people following other religions must be killed.”


Healing the wounds between Islam and Christianity

History (1)SPECIAL REPORT | One of Indonesia’s most prominent liberal Muslim intellectuals says politics and economics are major factors in conflicts between Christianity and Islam – and that people of both faiths must work together to heal the wounds.

Azyumardi Azra, who is Rector and Professor of History at Univeritas Islam Negeri in Jakarta, was speaking in Adelaide recently at the first of an Australian-wide series of public discourses on whether Christianity and Islam can co-exist.

Azra described Islam, Christianity and Judaism as “siblings” because they are all “Abrahamic faiths”. Abraham, Moses, Noah and Jesus are, with Mohammed, Islam’s five Major Prophets, he said.

“So that’s why Islam is the youngest among the three siblings.”

As such, Azra said Muslims believe in the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as in the Quran.

“Of course, all religions preach, teach you, peace,” he said.

“But there are sometimes certain passages of the holy books’ content, statements or doctrines that can be used to justify violence within one single, particular religion or against other religions.”

Azra said this “ambiguous nature of religion” meant such passages led to “extremist or violent acts” when taken “in a very literal way, a very ad hoc way and not in a very comprehensive way”.

“This, of course, becomes complicated when it comes to politics,” he said.

“Most of the so-called violence with religious chaos in our time is mostly related to economy and politics.

“I would argue that economics and politics are very important factors that in the end create a lot of resentment among different religious groups that can explode.”


Even Christian Groups Disagree With Republicans’ Plan To Prioritize Religious Minorities In Refugee Crisis

Syrian refugeesWASHINGTON — Christian groups that work with refugees are strongly opposed to a proposal that would in effect put Iraqi and Syrian Christians ahead of Muslims for resettlement in the U.S., even if they are also victims of persecution.

Ten House Republicans have signed on to a bill introduced this month by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) that, among other things, instructs the government to prioritize religious minorities from Syria and Iraq for refugee status. The Obama administration plans to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on Thursday.

As western countries determine how many people to take in from the Middle East amid an ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, the religious provision in McCaul’s proposal points to a key point of tension: the fact that most Syrians are Muslim.

This has been specifically highlighted by some leaders, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who said admitting more refugees could take away Europe’s Christian identity.

U.S. politicians who oppose accepting more Syrian refugees have been less explicitly focused on religion, but contend that it would harm national security because some of those acceptedcould be potential terrorists. In announcing the legislation, the congressman did not mention any religion specifically, but instead focused on the “threat posed by inadequate security screening procedures for refugees seeking entry into the United States,” including members of the Islamic State. 


Why the Qur’an might not be what you thought, and why it matters

quranOn the face of it, it’s a little unlikely. But not long ago, what may be the oldest copy of part of the Qur’an was discovered in the Cadbury Library at Birmingham University.

The two parchment leaves had been bound together with leaves of a similar Qur’an manuscript, which is datable to the late seventh century. These, however, are earlier. Radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment – prepared animal skin – on which the text is written to the period between AD 568 and 645. Mohammad himself is generally thought to have lived between AD 570 and 632, raising the intriguing possibility that it could have been written in his own lifetime.

The fragment contains parts of suras (chapters) 18-20, written with ink in an early form of Arabic script known as Hijazi. So far, so fascinating: it’s like finding a copy of one of Paul’s letters from 40 AD, or a Matthew’s Gospel from 80AD. From a historical point of view, it sends goose-bumps up the spine – and for a Muslim, even more so. The chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque is reported to have said: “When I saw these pages I was very moved. There were tears of joy and emotion in my eyes. And I’m sure people from all over the UK will come to Birmingham to have a glimpse of these pages.”


The Republican Attack on Muslims

23wed1-blog427The Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is drawing criticism over the bigoted comments he has been making recently about Muslims. It is well deserved, and is not a matter of “P.C. culture,” as Mr. Carson has claimed. Nor does Mr. Carson represent some minor fringe element in the Republican Party.

This latest sordid mess to arise from the G.O.P. nomination contest touches on bedrock American values, constitutional principles and American history. It reflects a pernicious habit among the leaders of the Republican Party to play with fire by pandering to an angry, disaffected and heavily white base by demonizing selected minorities. Muslims are just the current target.

Mr. Carson declared Sunday on ”Meet the Press” that Muslims are unfit to run for president because a president’s faith should be “consistent with the Constitution.” Later, he told the newspaper The Hill that Islamic Shariah law isn’t consistent with the Constitution because “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Leave aside for a moment the unintentionally funny spectacle of a member of the current Republican Party declaring that religion should be kept out of public life, and that Mr. Carson, as an African-American, is a member of a much belittled minority. The freedom of religion embedded in the First Amendment rules out the very idea of a religious test for public office, as John F. Kennedy so eloquently argued and then proved by becoming the first Catholic president.

As for Shariah law, Catholicism has canon law and Judaism has the Halakha and nobody is painting them as threats to the republic — at least not this year.


Why I want Pope Francis on my team

immigrantsHaroon Moghul is a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. He is an author, essayist and public speaker. Follow him @hsmoghul. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)I’d like to invite His Holiness Pope Francis to convert to Islam. I hope the world’s Catholics don’t misunderstand me. In fact, I hope they see my overture as a compliment — we’d love to have him on our team, even though it’s a desperate concession. I mean, have you seen who’s on our team?

There’s no Muslim figure cHaroon Moghulomparable to Pope Francis, and certainly none with the kind of platform he enjoys. We Sunni Muslims used to have a Caliph, but not since 1924. Of course, we do have leaders who aspire to similar authority, including Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, whose official titles include that of “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

Sounds nice, right? Virtuous, humble, devotional: He leads by serving. And leads who? Pope Francis is leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Christianity’s largest denomination. Saudi Arabia claims to be, and is often described as, the principal Sunni Muslim power, leading the world’s more than 1 billion Sunnis, though its government isn’t even chosen by its own citizens.