Lara Logan: Victim of Egyptian Islam’s Misogyny and Jew-Hatred
Last Friday (2/11/11), Lara Logan, chief foreign correspondent for CBS News, was beaten and raped in Cairo during a thirty minute assault by a frenzied throng of over 200 Egyptians. According to a report in today’s New York Post, Logan’s attackers were shrieking, “Jew! Jew!,” while they assaulted her. Moreover, the day before the assault, Logan informed Esquire.com that she and her crew were harassed by Egyptian soldiers who had accused them of “being Israeli spies.” The 39 year-old Logan—who is based in Washington, where she lives with her 2-year-old daughter, and husband—is not Jewish.
The horrific fate of Ms. Logan—as a woman in misogynistic Egypt she fared worse, and was raped—reminded me of a plaintive letter published in the Egyptian newspaper Akhir Sa’a during 1948 by a “light-skinned” Egyptian Muslim man.
It would seem that most people in Egypt are unaware of the fact that among Egyptian Muslims there are some who have white skin. Every time I board a tram I see people pointing at me saying, “Jew, Jew!” I have been beaten more than once because of this. For that reason I humbly beg that my picture (enclosed) be published with an explanation that I am not Jewish and that my name is Adham Mustafa Galeb.
Such virulent Muslim Jew-hatred, inspired by the core, profoundly Antisemitic motifs of Islam’s foundational texts—the Koran hadith, and sira—dates from at least the 11th century as documented by Jews living under Muslim rule then, in Egypt, and neighboring areas of the Middle East. S.D. Goitein’s seminal analyses of this primary source documentary record of letters revealed a unique strain of Islamic Jew hatred was extant at this time (i.e., up to a millennium ago). The Jewish victims of this Muslim hatred created
…a special word for it and, most significantly, one not found in the Bible or in Talmudic literature (nor registered in any Hebrew dictionary), but one much used and obviously coined in the [11th century] period. It is sin’ūth, “hatred,” a [Muslim] Jew-baiter being called sōnē, “a hater.”
Incidents of such Muslim Jew-hatred documented by Goitein were particularly frequent in Egypt.
All of the following events which wrought tremendous devastation to Egyptian Jewry under Muslim rule, up to a millennium before the advent of the modern bogeymen of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928: the murderous persecutions of al-Hakim during the early 11th century, one of which was timed for Passover in 1012; Jews in Alexandria and Cairo being pogromed and plundered in 1047, 1168, 1265, and 1324; and Sultan Baybars in the 13th century blaming Jews for starting a plague, and subjecting them to extortion, massacre, and expulsion.
Five hundred years later, the great scholar of Arabic E. W. Lane reported after nearly a decade of residence in both Cairo and Luxor (through 1835), on the difference between the attitude of Egyptian Muslims toward Jews and Christians, highlighting the influence of Koran 5:82:
They [the Jews] are held in the utmost contempt and abhorrence by the Muslims in general, and they are said to bear a more inveterate hatred than any other people to the Muslims and the Muslim religion. It is said, in the Koran [quoting 5:82] “Thou shalt surely find the most violent all men to those who have believed to be the Jews…”
Lane further notes,
It is a common saying among the Muslims in this country, “Such one hates me with the hate of the Jews.” We cannot wonder, then, that the Jews are detested far more than are the Christians. Not long ago, they used often to be jostled in the streets of Cairo, and sometimes beaten for merely passing on the right hand of a Muslim. At present, they are less oppressed: but still they scarcely ever dare to utter a word of abuse when reviled or beaten unjustly by the meanest Arab or Turk; for many a Jew has been put to death upon a false and malicious accusation of uttering disrespectful words against the Koran or the Prophet. It is common to hear an Arab abuse his jaded ass, and, after applying to him various opprobrious epithets, end by calling the beast a Jew.
Subsequent 19th century accounts validate and expand upon Lane’s narrative regarding the pervasive Egyptian Muslim Jew hatred which was endemic well before the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. For example, the French surgeon A.B. Clot who resided in Egypt from 1825 to1848, and served Muhammad Ali as a medical adviser, earning the honorific title, “Bey”, made these confirmatory observations written in 1840, five years after Lane’s travelogue first appeared in 1835:
The Israelite race is the one that the Muslims hate the most. They think that the Jews hate Islam more than any other nation…Speaking of a fierce enemy, the Muslims say: “He hates me the way the Jews hate us.” During the past century, the Israelites were often put to death because they were accused rightly or wrongly to have something disrespectful about the Koran.
And three decades later, such hateful attitudes directed at the Jews specifically, persisted among Egyptian Muslims, as recorded in 1873 by Moritz Lüttke:
The Muslim hates no other religion as he hates that of the Jews…even now that all forms of political oppression have ceased, at a time when such great tolerance is shown to the Christian population, the Arabs still bear the same contemptuous hatred of the Jews. It is a commonplace occurrence, for example, for two Arabs reviling each other to call each other Ibn Yahudi (or “son of a Jew”) as the supreme insult…it should be mentioned that in these cases, they pronounce the word Yahudi in a violent and contemptuous tone that would be hard to reproduce.
Jacob Landau’s modern analysis of Egyptian Jewry in the 19th century elucidates the predictable outcome of these bigoted archetypes “constantly repeated in various forms”—the escalation from rhetorical to physical violence against Jews:
…it is interesting to note that even the fallahin, the Egyptian peasantry (almost all of them Muslim) certainly did not know many Jews at close quarters, but nevertheless would revile them. The enmity some Muslims felt for the Jews incited them to violence, persecution, and physical assault, as in 1882…Hostility was not necessarily the result of envy, for many Jews were poverty-stricken and even destitute and were sometimes forced to apply for financial assistance to their co- religionists abroad.
From the 1930s onward, traditional Egyptian Islamic Jew-hatred was complemented by the influx of European Antisemitism, especially Nazi motifs, which resonated with the Muslim masses. During World War II, after the creation of Israel in 1947-48, and following the Suez war of 1956, anti-Jewish pogroms, riots, and finally government expropriations and expulsions caused the final liquidation of the Egyptian Jewish community.
Jihad and traditional Islamic Jew-hatred in Egypt during the contemporary era have of course been re-focused on the neighboring Jewish State of Israel. Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956 by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar University—Sunni Islam’s Vatican—and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa’s language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:
Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory.
[as] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants… Jihad… to restore the country to its people.. is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.
Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.
Despite the Sadat era peace agreement—and in direct violation of its principles—Egypt’s mainstream Islamic institutions, most notably Al-Azhar University itself—have continued to expound unmitigated, “sacralized” Jew-hatred.
A front page New York Times story published January 10, 2009, included extracts from the Friday sermon (of 1/9/09) at Al Azhar mosque pronounced by Egyptian-government appointed cleric Sheik Eid Abdel Hamid Youssef. Referencing well-established Antisemitic motifs from the Koran (citations provided, below), Sheikh Youssef intoned,
Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people whom God has become angry at [Koran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Koran 5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [Koran 5:60] out of them. They killed prophets and messengers [Koran 2:61 / 3:112] and sowed corruption on Earth. [Koran 5:33 / 5:64] They are the most evil on Earth. [5:62 /63]
Earlier, on March 22, 2004, Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, who previously issued a fatwa (April 15, 2002) declaring Jews “apes and pigs,” was asked the following question in an online chat room: “What, according to the Koran, are the Jews’ main characteristics and qualities?” Sheikh Saqr answered by highlighting 20 negative, inveterate traits of the Jews as described by the Koran: fabricating (Koran 3:75; 5:64); listening to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and supporting deception (3:78); rebelling against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); hypocrisy (2:44); selfishness (2:87); wishing evil on people (2:105); feeling pain at others’ happiness and feeling happiness at others’ afflictions (2:120); arrogance and haughtiness (5:18); utilitarianism and opportunism (4:161); rudeness and vulgarity (4:46); murder of innocents, especially prophets (2:61; 3:112); mercilessness and heartlessness (2:74); breaking promises (2:100); rushing to sin and transgress (5:79); cowardice and greed (59:13; 2:96); miserliness (4:53); and distorting divine revelation (2:79). He prefaced this defamatory litany with an upbeat assurance that the perfidious Jews would be vanquished by the Muslim umma:
We would like to note that these are but some of the most famous traits of the Jews as described in the Koran. They have revolted against the divine ordinances, distorted what has been revealed to them and invented new teachings which, they claimed, were much more better [sic] than what has been recorded in the Torah. It was [because of] these traits that they were not warmly received in all the countries where they tried to reside. Instead, they were either driven out, or lived in isolation. It was the Almighty Allah who placed on them His Wrath and [humiliated] them due to their transgression. Almighty Allah told us that He had sent to them those who would pour upon them rain of severe punishment that would last till the Day of Resurrection. All this gives us glad tidings of the coming victory of Muslims over [the Jews], as soon as Muslims cling to strong faith and belief in Allah and adopt modern means of technology
The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such antisemitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi-Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from1996, till his death in March 2010.
My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first time English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions. Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], [and see Sheikh Saqr’s Koranic citations, above] corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word…[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, a position he held for 14-years. These were the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope – the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear.
Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis:
…anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews…[I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., Jews in the Koran and the Traditions, cited above]
Not surprisingly, according to Pew polling data, at least 95% of Egyptian Muslims currently view Jews “unfavorably.”
This is the irrefragable, mainstream Islamic doctrinal and historical context—uninterrupted for over a millennium—which explains why those throngs of Muslim men who sexually assaulted Lara Logan shouted, “Jew! Jew!”
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