By Beila Rabinowitz
[Editor's Note: As established by a myriad of Middle Eastern scholars, forced conversion under Islam is as old as the religion itself, spanning a period of well over a thousand years. The Western press' unwillingness to delve into the nature of and historical record of Islam reflects - at a base level - a bias that conflicts with whatever claims of objectivity they might make. Broaching such a "delicate" subject would reveal a particularly repellent truth - for the left and other enemies of liberal democracy - the rapacious nature of Islamic fundamentalism, i.e., Islamic fascism.
With the details of the Steve Centanni/Olaf Wiig kidnapping now public fodder and following so closely on the heels of the remarkable "convert or die" entreaty made by U.S. jihadist Adam Gadahn - the former heavy metal California meatball Adam Perlman - Samuel Huntingtons' "clash of civilizations" looms as a religious war of epic proportions:
"We send a special invitation (to convert to Islam) to all of you fighting Bush's crusader pipedream in Afghanistan, Iraq and wherever else 'W' has sent you to die. You know the war can't be won...It is time for the unbelievers to discard these incoherent and illogical beliefs...Isn't it the time for the Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists to cast off the cloak of the spiritual darkness which enshrouds them and emerge into the light of Islam...If the Zionist crusader missionaries of hate and counter-Islam consultants like Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, Michael Scheuer, Steven Emerson, and yes, even the crusader-in-chief George W. Bush were to abandon their unbelief and repent and enter into the light of Islam and turn their swords against the enemies of God, it would be accepted of them and they would be our brothers in Islam."
While the concept of forced conversion might seem to many an artifact of another millennia it should instead serve as a warning to those who seek to minimize the danger represented by militant Islam and the fanatical nature of those who seek to advance this theology of totalitarian hate by force of terror.]
September 4, 2006 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The Islamist jihad against the West took a chilling turn a little more than a week ago, when two FOX News journalists, Steve Centanni and his photographer Olaf Wiig - who had been kidnapped in Gaza a few weeks earlier and held at gunpoint - were forced to convert to Islam as a precondition for their release, their captors telling them that they had to "convert to Islam or die."
The two said they opted to convert because, "...[it] was something they had to do, because they had the guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on."
After their release, the journalists were made part of an club-footed propaganda stunt; forced to stand next to Hamas leader Haniyeh in a room full of terrorist supporters while speaking about "how beautiful the Palestinian people were" while the wife of captive Wiig expressed her appreciation for the "solidarity" she had received from the women in Gaza.
The trio did not linger to celebrate the magnanimous gesture of having being given the option to live as Muslim converts instead of being put to death as infidels by the "beautiful people of Palestine" - they high tailed it out of Gaza for the safety of the American Consulate in Israel. It appears that the terrorists of the Holy Jihad Martyr Brigades' Islamic etiquette lessons were less than effective.
The hope that Centanni and Wiig's near hyperbolic praise of Palestinians at the Hamas photo op was only a prudent life saving device, and that - upon their departure from Gaza both men would render judgment upon terrorists who kidnapped them - was dashed several days later when they appeared together with Wiig's wife on "Good Morning America." Inexplicably, instead of expressing understandable and righteous anger and outrage over what had happened to them, the two instead expressed pro-Palestinian sentiments, with Wiig even declaring that he couldn't condemn his captors:"In some ways, I feel such sympathy for the Palestinian cause. You know, in my heart. You know, I can't hate them for what they did. I resent on behalf of my family what they did. But there's a funny bit of me that's sympathetic to them still."
Fully understanding the complexity of Centanni & Wiig's dilemma - wanting to remain active in Middle East journalism while maintaining their objectivity but with potential apostasy now in the mix - one still has to wonder long and hard what level of outrage would have had to have been experienced to dampen their apparent admiration for their captors.
When Hamas leader Haniyeh was asked by a journalist at the press conference if the kidnappers would be arrested, he was evasive. This was no small wonder as he knew who kidnappers were all the time, the Holy Jihad Brigade being a faction within the terrorist group Hamas, which had tunneled into Israel from Gaza and then kidnapped Gilad Shalit and killed two IDF officers, with Haniyeh's blessing.
Holy Jihad's retaliation against the two journalists was apparently triggered by Haniyeh shutting them out of the negotiations on the fate of Shalit, a decision which he has now apparently reversed.
The central fact of this case is that although both Olaf Wiig and Steve Centanni have been released, they remain hostages in perpetuity - forced to live under a potential death sentence. Though their "conversion" saved them from immediate execution, any public repudiation of it would mark them as targets for murder as apostates.
According to international law forced conversion under threat of death is considered invalid and the same opinion could also be issued by an Islamic court. However, the jihadi interpretation is clear - once a convert to Islam any attempt to renounce it is punishable by death. In short, both FOX journalists are now hostages of Allah.
The horrific implications of this dynamic should be - as if it was needed - a wake up call to the West as to the fanatical nature of the enemy and the choice he is offering - conversion or the sword.
The idea of Jihad through conversion has long historical precedent. Plainly not a remant of the distant past, it was openly and recently called for in North America by Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, who told members of the Muslim Youth Association."Jihad can be with the pen and the tongue just as it can be with the sword and the spear. Islamic Jihad is not limited to military efforts only; it extends beyond this, including several means that Muslims need to utilize now more than ever. We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America! Not through (the) sword, but through Da'wa..." - Source Jihad Watch
According to one Islamist website it takes less then 5 seconds to convert to Islam."...Any human being can embrace Islam. You do not need anyone's permission. You simply say and believe that there is No God except Allah and that Mohammad is his Messenger. Once you say this sentence, you automatically become Muslim..."
Some Islamist propagation groups also take conversions over the phone. Of course the irrevocable nature of the decision to become a Muslim is seldom discussed, so that anyone who thinks they have made a mistake and decides to repudiate Islam either must refrain from making it public or risk being branded an apostate.
Qaradawi's statement epitomizes the vulnerability of non-Muslims being forced to submit to Islam or be killed. The brother of journalist Steve Centanni made a video in which he pleaded for both men's release stating that, "By now you know they cherish life. They have no power...I respectfully ask that you let my brother Steve and his colleague come home to their families." He concluded by pleading deferentially, "You reached out to us. Now allow us the opportunity to reach out with my words...The video shows you treated them with honor, and I thank you." -CNN
Last year, there were reports of forced conversions by terrorist gangs in the UK operating both in prison and on the streets. A group called "The Muslim Boys" was reported to have made "their interpretation" of Islam central to their identity as killers and criminals and was thought to be responsible for at least two murders - executions of local lads who refused to convert."
In the U.S. there have also been recent demands that "infidels" convert to Islam to appease Muslim wrath.
Last year demonstrations by Muslims at the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper against the publishing of the Danish cartoons, were accompanied by a threat issued by Iqbal Barqai - the regional head of ICNA [Islamic Circle of North America] - a Saudi funded enterprise which is in the forefront of a "jihad through da'wa campaign" in Norh America.
Barqai [who is also an engineer with the Pennsylvania State electrical company, PECO] told a journalist from the Christian Science Monitor that Muslims were canceling their subscriptions to the newspaper adding that, "Muslims are very angry and the Inquirer offices could be attacked." - Militant Islam Monitor
The Inquirer editorial staff tried to placate local Muslims by meeting with Barqai and others representing ICNA, CAIR and local radical Islamist clerics. The Inquirer's editors were deferential and spoke of the need for them to "build bridges" with Muslims. They provided space in their paper for Muslims to publicize their grievances over the Danish cartoons, and agreed to consult with them regarding the paper's future coverage of issues pertaining to Islam.
Sensing capitulation, Philadelphia Imam Isa Abdul Mateen the chairman of the "Justice and Integrity Department" of the local Majlis Ash Shura [Islamic religious council] wrote a piece with the inadvertently ironic title "Free Speech and It's Discontents," implying that nothing short of the Inquirer staff converting to Islam could make amends.
"We Muslims love the Prophet Muhummad, upon whom be peace, more then ourselves and more than our parents. This is well known. Thus we know that the Inquirer and every newspaper that published the offensive cartoons did so with the deliberate intention of reviling our beloved prophet and the religion of Islam. It was no mistake. It was no misunderstanding. Instead of heaping childish insults upon Muslims, we invite you to accept Islam and become Muslims as thousands of Europeans have already done."
Even more alarming at the time, Imam Isa Abdul Mateen's brazen call to conversion produced little in the way of outrage on the part of the Philadelphia Inquirer editors and staff. They did not consider the story of a local Imam calling upon the staff of a major American newspaper to convert to have any news value at all.
Paradoxically, Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig's experience may have made them the subject of the news in the Middle East rather than mere observer/reporters, but the real question is if the phenomenon of forced conversion and its implications will be understood by the public and policy makers.
Wiig and Centanni were "freed" but are still on on a probation of sorts - once having submitted to Allah, they must remain on that path or suffer grave consequences.
Practically then, they remain hostages, Jihad through forced conversion being simply another weapon in the arsenal of terror.
The Holy Jihad Martyrs Brigades may not have won their demand to have all Muslim prisoners released from United States jails in exchange for Centanni and Wiig, but they and their Islamist bretheren have sent a clear message to non-Muslims regarding the stakes in this war.
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