BEWITCHED ANIMALS & THE MUSLIM MEDIA
By Raymond Ibrahim
A close examination of these theories, however, reveals pathological trends that need to be acknowledged especially by Western leaders who stubbornly interact with the Muslim world under the assumption that all Muslims "think just like us."
Consider, for starters, those conspiracy theories dealing with subversive animals:
Israel unleashes rats and pigs against Jerusalem Arabs: According to the Palestinian Authority's official news agency, Wafa, Israel is "using wild pigs to drive Palestinians out of their homes" and "Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem."
"Israel responsible for fatal shark attack and lethal jellyfish in Red Sea": According to South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel, "Mossad throwing the deadly shark (in the sea) to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm."
Saudi Arabia "arrests" a vulture as part of a "Zionist plot": According to a BBC report, the vulture appears to have been tagged by Tel Aviv University researchers studying migration patterns; even so, "the bird could meet a horrible punishment in the notoriously severe Saudi justice system."
As the reader mulls over the plausibility of these charges, here is the latest example, from just last month. According to released Gitmo inmate Walid Muhammad Hajj, the Jews at the base cast "spells" on the Muslim inmates including through the use of bewitched birds and a phantom feline that tried to sodomize Walid:
Considering that the Koran depicts talking ants and birds, vouches for the power of sorcery, and has an entire chapter dedicated to the Jinn (Sura 72); that Hamas arrested 150 "witches" in Gaza last year; that Islam's prophet Muhammad decreed that black dogs must die, "for they are devils"; that there is a fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse (a cartoon character), since rodents are "corrupters, steered by Satan" considering all this, it should come as no surprise that animals are being portrayed as infidel operatives.
Rather, the surprise lies in who is making and disseminating these stories. After all, conspiracy theories are not the sole domain of the Muslim world; the West has its share of crackpot theories. Yet, they are not in the mainstream. Conversely, far from coming from a marginalized periphery, all of the aforementioned animal accusations were either made or disseminated by "authoritative" sources in the Muslim world: Spying squirrels, Iranian state-sponsored news; rampaging rats and pigs, Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority media; tourism-destroying shark, an Egyptian official; spying vulture awaiting Sharia justice, Saudi media.
Consider the most recent example of Gitmo witchery. The problem is not that one Walid Muhammad Hajj believes this, but that Al Jazeera by far, the highest rated news network in the Arab world aired it on prime time. That the suit-and-tie host was very sympathetic, never once casting doubt on Hajj's narrative, speaks volumes. (Incidentally, this Gitmo story was aired on the same show that earlier provided Muhammad al-Awwa a platform to incite Egypt's Muslims against its Christian minority thereby contributing to the latest slaughter of Copts in Egypt on New Year's Eve.)
The point here is simple: if the media especially news and current affairs programs reflect the concerns of their society, imagine if a prime-time CNN program hosted someone who earnestly accused people of witchcraft, talking birds, and rapist cats all to a sincerely concerned host. What would that suggest about the American mindset?
What does it suggest about the Muslim mindset?
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Raymond Ibrahim, a historian of Islam, Islamism and the Middle East, is the Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, and the editor of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, a collection of tranlations of key texts and documents of the Islamist movement. Ibrahim's translations of the religious texts and political propaganda comprising this collection help readers comprehend the origins, development, history, and serious danger of the Islamist war doctrines of Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Founders of Al-Qa'ida and implacable enemies of the U.S.A. and the West.
The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in Hudson New York, January 26, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ΰ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2825/bewitched-animals-muslim-media)
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