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The new Muslim smear for Obama

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 13, 2008 | 1:30 am

I made a mistake Monday morning. I should have read that Edward Luttwak op-ed on Barack Obama the Muslim apostate that I linked to here but didn’t discuss. As the day dragged on, my Google Reader filled up with a few RSS feeds attacking the bankruptcy of Luttwak’s argument that Obama, as an apostate who purportedly was born a Muslim and converted out to Christianity, could not be tolerated by other Muslims and might even be killed for it.

Here is what Luttwak wrote:

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings.

Obama, in fact, is not the son of a Muslim father. This belief comes from that rumor that he’s a closet Muslim. Secondly, Luttwak’s argument is not original, having first been made last summer in FrontPage magazine, courtesy of the man leading a battle against peaceful Islam, Daniel Pipes.

“This is an example of editorial lunacy,” Richard Silverstein responded to Luttwak’s column. “Why would you take a trashy rumor published in a David Horowitz shmate and transfer it to the N.Y. Times? I feel dirty just reading it there.”

At Huffington Post, Ali Eteraz breaks down the fallacies inherent in Luttwak’s piece, beginning “with his facile understanding of Sharia.”

Luttwack and the other fake experts promoting this new smear do not understand Islam. Religion is not hereditary as it is in Judaism. Islam is not a race. Just because a child has a Muslim father—which, again, Obama didn’t—doesn’t mean anything unless the child is being raised as a Muslim. At the time of birth, Muslims engage in a symbolic act—of saying the Call to Prayer in the child’s ear—that renders a child Muslim. If Obama’s father was agnostic/atheist, then he wouldn’t have done such a thing.

No call to prayer in the ear, not raised as a Muslim, born to an atheist father, and then abandoned to a Christian mother both by father and his family, equals not Muslim. Obama is right to say he had no religion until he became a Christian.

Also in the Obama files, Republicans politicians and the Republican Jewish Coalition respond to the Illinois senator’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which they spoke at length about Israel. Here’s a compilation.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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