Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch wrote recently about a bit of good news out of France -- that the French Jewish scholar Georges Bensoussan was recently absolved of the "crime" of "hate speech" against Muslims.
All that is fine and dandy, and as usual, the bulk of Hugh's essay is sterling silver -- except for one line where my tooth hit pewter, when Hugh was busy mentioning supporters of Bensoussan:
"...and importantly, from several Arabs, including the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, who had witnessed the Algerian civil war of the 1990s, and the Algerian journalist Mohamed Sifaoui, who has risked his life both in Algeria and in France denouncing Islamist threats."
First, what's an "Islamist"? and how is that different from a "Muslim"?
Second, why is Hugh calling these two Muslims "Arabs"? Did he have a flashback to when he was going to college during the Nasser era?
Third, why is Hugh vamping the résumés of these two Muslims with their experience supposedly confronting "Islamism"?
The reader may wish to revisit one of the two go-to Muslims Hugh relies on -- the Boualem Sansal character, whom I analyzed in my essay, The ponytailed Muslim, with special mention in my other essay, Our Reliance "on" the Traveler.
The other Muslim character Hugh trots out, Mohamed Sifaoui, is even flimsier (though all comparative terms measuring quality of Muslims relative to other Muslims founder on our inability to adjudicate taqiyya). Has Hugh not read about this guy on the French website Riposte Laique...? Their reports seem to show he's another one of these pseudo-"reformer" Muslims pretending to be against "Islamists" but still defending Islam. I guess he's pretending pretty well, since he fooled Hugh.
One can also find plenty of ammunition (depending on one's level of Islamo-literacy, that is) against Sifaoui on his own website. In one posting, after Sifaoui has railed against the Riposte Laique for its "racism" in its blanket criticism of Muslims celebrating Ramadan as ipso facto contravening civic duty and helping to drain the system by, among other things, increased visits to the ER from its fanatical fasting regime, he goes on to write:
"You assume that I am reacting against the criticism of the religion [of Islam]. What fools! It is false and dishonest to asseverate such a thing, because I am one of those who has fought in order that dogmas, religions, beliefs, all Gods and all Saints and all Buddhas be open to criticism."
Notice Sifaoui's equivalencism there, implying that criticism of Islam is okay, as long as such criticism is safely corralled together under the common umbrella of an amorphously generalized criticism against "all religions" -- when it is only one religion, Islam, and no other, that is causing the problems in our time warranting criticism (if not, indeed, condemnation). And this equivalencism is also matched by its gold standard -- in the hackneyed portrayal of the "Palestinian"-Israeli conflict as a problem of a bilateral "cycle of violence", a matter of both sides succumbing to "extremism". One may glean this from his many posts on Israel, and particularly this one. (This was rather dramatically exposed on Riposte Laique in terms of Sifaoui's "mask coming off", and by other bloggers, including Paul Landau, who wrote on the blog Vu de Jerusalem an article titled, "The anti-Israeli 'coming out' of Mohamed Sifaoui".)
Sifaoui then goes on to level that certain accusation against Riposte Laique which we've come to know all too well in our weariness:
"You agitate just like the Extremists you so readily demonize.
"For you, it's the 'moderate Muslim' -- and elsewhere you write that he doesn't even exist. [You thus imply that] he does not exist unless he leaves Islam and pledges allegiance to your rhetoric of insignificant hotheads."
If what Sifaoui says about Riposte Laique is accurate (and from my reading so far, it is), I like those guys!
Moving on, we find Pascal Hilout, an apostate (i.e., an ex-Muslim), writing of the criticism of Islam in robust, bold terms, in a piece partially addressed to Leftist lesbian critic of Islam Caroline Fourest who demonstrably is, as I would say, a "Counter-Jihad Softy":
"My diagnosis is very simple... the name of the disease is 'Islam' = veneration of the Koran and of Mohammed. Certainly you might stubbornly insist, Madame Fourest, to have spent a great deal of time denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, and the Jihadists, among other Muslims afflicted with this filth that is the emulation of the Islamic practices of Mohammed... Historical facts demonstrate the nullity of your theory and the inanity of your fight: countless dictators, good Muslims, have fought, and still fight in our time against the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafists, the Jihadists; in Algeria and Egypt, for example. The result: the pathogenic germs are still there, and in our time spreading better than ever. The struggle against "Islamism" is mental masturbation which will generate nothing useful for humanity... It has even be come a religious litany and a political business, which consists in sacrificing those human beings most afflicted with the need to flatter those who are 'moderately' contaminated ..."
Pascal Hilout is among many whom Mohamed Sifaoui has seen fit to attack, for his supposed bigotry and "racism" (and we must reasonably assume, behind those conveniently popular charges, lurks Sifaoui's repulsion at the capital crime Hilout has committed, apostasy). As Jean Bourdillon put it in a Riposte Laique essay:
"Where does his hatred against people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali come from, and even more so against Pascal Hilout -- who, among other things... have dared to say loud and strong what Mohamed Sifaoui is even incapable of whispering under his breath?"
As we mentioned above, many have taken Sifaoui to task for his mask-slippage with regard to Israel. Guy Millière writes that Sifaoui --
"...has manifested a mildness in response to the Gaza flotilla, which we know was a flotilla for Hamas, and which had been equipped by the İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, a "humanitarian" organization with marked ties to diverse Islamist groups."
Moreover, Millière points out that Sifaoui ha s attacked Bat Yeor and Daniel Pipes:
"...and he went so far as to compare Bat Ye'or's work with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Then we have an essay by Guy Beaupin, revealing further disqueting (but supremely unsurprising) things about Hugh Fitzgerald's go-to Muslim, Mohamed Sifaoui:
"Mr. Sifaoui has insisted many times concerning the fundamental difference there is between Islam and Islamism, that they ought not to be confused.
"In one and the same book, the Koran, there are two ways to understand it, one good and one evil. The Taliban, for example, whose goal is to study the Koran, understand it in an evil way. Moreover, from it they apply the law, the Sharia, a divine law, of which they show us an Afghanistan, a concrete example. According to Mr. Sifaoui, in the Koran there is that which is written and that which must be understood."
At this juncture, Guy Beaupin notes, with wryly apposite verve:
"If Mr. Sifaoui rails against those who who have an evil comprehension of Islam, let us note that he fails to take advantage of this occasion to indicate the good passages of the Koran which we apparently have ignored. It would have been a good teaching moment for him."
We conclude with an observation by Beaupin on Hugh's go-to Muslim, Mohamed Sifaoui, that reflects the gold standard of the "Better Cop" Muslim ("Better" because they go further to appear to be condemning Islam, thus to fool the smarter folks in the Counter-Jihad -- like Hugh):
"As a Muslim, M. Sifaoui has suffered from religious [i.e., "Islamist"] fanaticism; he condemns the fanaticism but not the religion that produces it."
Is that really the kind of Muslim Hugh Fitzgerald wants to hold up as an example of an ally in our common cause? And behind that rhetorical question and its answer, we surmise that for Hugh, the very fact that he selects useful Muslims like a connoisseur would pick what his flawed monocle takes to be dainty morsels out of a raging pile of shit on fire, indicates how far he is from the epiphany that any Muslim whatsoever, by the mere fact of being Muslim, is forever untrustworthy.