From Obscenity to Clarity: A Factual Understanding of the Maher-Affleck Islam “Debate”

Yesterday (Thursday, October 9, 2014), I gave two interviews which introduced the factual basis for the recent obscenity-laden Maher-Affleck kerfuffle on HBO (“Bill Maher vs. Ben Affleck On Islam: ‘Mafia That Will F**king Kill You If You Say The Wrong Thing’”), which has been almost entirely obscured.

Much of my large 2012 compendium Sharia Versus Freedom, addressed the underlying “debate” between Maher and Affleck. Suffice to say, it provides overwhelming support—hard data—for Maher’s basic argument, minus his inflammatory language.

One of the modern tools I make consistent use of is polling data. Over the years, I have distilled the arguments down to key points of emphasis so people can understand the scope of the problem of basic, widespread Islamic attitudes—rooted in the Sharia—which are antithetical to freedom (hence the title of the 2012 book!)

The interviews, with Jeff Crouere, and Steve Malzberg, embedded above, allowed me to present data-based arguments I have been making for some years now, boiled down to their essence, given how the Maher-Affleck dispute has brought this matter to public attention.

Here are the materials I drew upon, within the time constraints allowed, to make the following three key points:

1) To understand the Maher-Affleck “debate” one must comprehend the quintessence of Islamic Law, Sharia, (for example, as I discussed more “elaborately,” in 2-minutes, with Lou Dobbs on Fox Business News, 11/9/2012 (please view the 2-minutes; video transcript, reproduced below):

[Bostom] Sharia is really foundational in Islamic societies. It is derived from the canonical texts of Islam, the Koran, the Hadith—the traditions of Mohammed, and it has many ritual aspects that might be similar to other religions, but it’s also an entire political system, and here is where it runs afoul of modern human rights concepts like our Bill of Rights, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It includes a timeless war doctrine, the doctrine of jihad, it also rejects basic human freedoms, like freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and it imposes discriminatory regulations, legal regulations against non-Muslim minorities, and women. It also includes dehumanizing punishments, what we would consider dehumanizing punishments, like, lashing for alcohol consumption, stoning to death for adultery, and mutilating punishment for theft.

[Lou Dobbs]: Is it your view then that, there is no way in which our American culture can accommodate Sharia within a multicultural society for which would be Muslim?

[Bostom] Absolutely not. Certainly not for the overt, liberty-crushing dehumanizing aspects of Sharia. And unfortunately, it is an integrated whole. It has proven historically very, very difficult for Muslims to de-sacralize Sharia, to secularize it, and to eliminate the political and liberty crushing aspects from the simple religious ritual aspects.

2) I then transitioned to hard data on Sharia support in Muslim societies, per my May 4, 2013 essay (“Sharia Über Alles”), published right after Pew released its April 30, 2013 “poll of polls, complemented by Pew’s separate polling data on the attitudes of Iranian Shiite Muslims, published June 11, 2013.

Responses to the following question on the Sharia, comprised the Pew “poll of polls” survey’s salient finding. The question was, “Do you favor or oppose making sharia law, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?” Summary data from the nations with the five largest Muslim populations (as per 2010) surveyed, Indonesia (204 million), Pakistan (178 million), Bengladesh (149 million), Egypt (80 million), and Nigeria (76 million), revealed: 72% of Indonesian Muslims, 84% of Pakistani Muslims, 82% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 74% of Egyptian Muslims, and 71% of Nigerian Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. The population-weighted average from these 5 countries was 77% supportive. (Composite regional data confirmed these individual country trends–84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern/North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims favored application of the Sharia as official state law.) Furthermore, the Pew survey results confirm the abject failure of the U.S. midwifed Iraqi and Afghan “democracies” to fulfill the utopian aspirations of the much ballyhooed “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine.” Instead, the negative prognostications, epitomized by my colleague Diana West’s evocative description “Making the world safe for Sharia,” have been realized.

After three decades of strict re-application of the Sharia in Iran (which has included stoning to death for adultery, execution for homosexuality, abrogation of freedom of conscience and religious minority rights, etc.), and notwithstanding delusive arguments that these phenomena had engendered mass public rejection of Islamic Law, Pew polling data released June 11, 2013 (from face-to-face interviews with 1,522 adults, ages 18 years of age and older), reveal an entirely different reality. When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the implementation of  Sharia law, or Islamic law in our country?”,  83% favored its application. A largely concordant finding demonstrated that only 28% of Iranians were at all concerned (i.e., 9% “very,” and 19% “somewhat” concerned) about “extremist religious groups” in the nation. These data provide the sobering context in which the Presidential election of Hasan Rowhani—an unabashed Ayatollah Khomeini-supporting Shiite cleric, and long term political apparatchik of the theocratic regime—must be viewed.

3) I concluded with data on Sharia support within the US Muslim community:

Notwithstanding Pew’s inattention to this critical matter, the results of polling data collected by Wenzel Strategies during October 22 to 26, 2012, from 600 U.S. Muslims (i.e., a sample characterized by high socio-economic status), indicated widespread support among American votaries of Islam for Sharia-based rejection of freedom expression, as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. (The First Amendment states, plainly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”) When asked, “Do you believe that criticism of Islam or Muhammad should be permitted under the Constitution’s First Amendment?, 58% replied “no,” while only 42% affirmed this most basic manifestation of freedom of speech, i.e., to criticize religious, or any other dogma. Indeed, oblivious to US constitutional law, as opposed to Islam’s Sharia, a largely concordant 45% of respondents agreed “…that those who criticize or parody Islam in the U.S. should face criminal charges,” while 38% did not, and 17% were “unsure.” Moreover, fully 12% of this Muslim sample even admitted they believed in application of the draconian, Sharia-based punishment for the non-existent crime of “blasphemy” in the US code, answering affirmatively, “…that Americans who criticize or parody Islam should be put to death.” Also, consistent with such findings 43% of these U.S. Muslims rejected the right of members of other faiths to proselytize to adherents of Islam, disagreeing, “…that U.S. citizens have a right to evangelize Muslims to consider other faiths.” Additional confirmatory data revealed that nearly two-fifths (39%) agreed “…that Shariah law should be considered when adjudicating cases that involve Muslims,” while nearly one-third (32%) of this American Muslim sample believed “…Shariah law should be the supreme law of the land in the US.”

Americans—ordinary citizens and our feckless “leadership” alike—must re-discover, and embrace, Robert H. Jackson’s intuitive, sobering wisdom regarding the Sharia. Jackson, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1941-1954), who also served as the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, made these timeless observations in his foreword to a treatise on Islamic law, Law in the Middle East, 1955:

In any broad sense, Islamic Law offers the American lawyer a study in dramatic contrasts. Even casual acquaintance and superficial knowledge—all that most of us at bench or bar will be able to acquire—reveal that its striking features relative to our law are not likenesses but inconsistencies, not similarities but contrarieties. In its source, its scope and its sanctions, the law [i.e., Islamic Law, Sharia] of the Middle East is the antithesis of Western Law…Islamic law, on the contrary, finds its chief source in the will of Allah as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It contemplates one community of the faithful, though they may be of various tribes and in widely separated locations. Religion, not nationalism or geography, is the proper cohesive force. The state itself is subordinate to the Qur’an, which leaves little room for additional legislation, none for criticism or dissent. This world is viewed as but the vestibule to another and a better one for the faithful, and the Qur’an lays down rules of behavior towards others and toward society to assure a safe transition. It is not possible to separate political or juristic theories from the teachings of the Prophet, which establish rules of conduct concerning religious, domestic, social, and political life. This results in a law of duties, rather than rights

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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