Clarification of crucifixion reports

Crucifixions have been reported in some Islamic nations, all of which requires a  sensitivity in handling source materials, as may be inferred from my early post Not on the 10 o’clock News.  However, lack of such expertise – and of a grasp of spiritual dynamics – generated a great deal of verbiage, misunderstanding and  false conclusions, as outlined below:

A fortnight ago I noted Stuart James’ question on his popular blog-forum eChurch:   “Are Christians being crucified by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?   Important blog post by my friend Gordon looking at the veracity of the Christian crucifiction(sic) claims in Egypt, that have spread like wildfire online and created widespread anger amongst Christians.”

Gordon Hudson’s blog examines various reports and commentaries of this event in some depth. (It is claimed to have taken place in front of the presidential palace.)  He endorses Canadian editor and columnist Jonathan Kay’s National Post article entitled Egypt’s ‘crucifixion’ hoax becomes an instant Internet myth, wherein he pronounces at the very outset:

It’s a story worth dissecting — not because it’s true (it isn’t), but because it is a textbook example of how the Internet… has been co-opted by culture warriors as a weapon to fire up the naïve masses with lies and urban legends.

In concluding his ‘investigation’ of this particular case, he refers to a dated report (ie. three years old!) that repudiated false reports of crucifixions and thus wrote:

The people reporting this false story were not deliberately lying.  As I noted in my original post, they have simply become so wrapped up in the idea that we are fighting an existential war against militant Islam, that they are willing to believe any nonsense story they come across without checking it. If it sounds like it could be true, then it must be. The first casualty of war, as always, is truth.

Stuart’s friend puts it, “It shows how stories can change as they are spread. Especially where indignation is involved and there is an information vacuum.” Both these writers  dug around a lot and have taken the trouble of posting updates, all of which may be read via the above links. It’s too easy, however, to pontificate from the comfort of one’s cosy corner…

Within hours I received an email update from the original Western reporter.

As far as I can find, critics haven’t refered to the original report, its publication date or the identity of the man who’d broken the story to the West!  The account first appeared in a ‘guest column’ of The Investigative Project on Terrorism on 15th August under the title Muslim Brotherhood ‘Crucifies’ Opponents, Attacks Secular Media, by Raymond Ibrahim.

Unlike his critics, Raymond is not only fluent in Arabic but also a specialist in Islam who explores “the pivotal but ignored point where Islam and Christianity intersect, translating pertinent Arabic news that never reaches the West”.  Born of Egyptian Coptic parents, Raymond discovered, translated and published original Al-Qaeda treatises (earlier post refers: Muslim Persecution of Christians).

In response to the deluge of media speculation Raymond has reconsidered his report and answers Jonathan Kay point by point. He takes up Kay’s above opening shot with,

Alternatively, dissecting Kay’s claims is useful as it is a textbook example of how the Western mindset tries to rationalize away whatever does not fit its intellectual boundaries.

He doesn’t so much dissect as dismembers Kay’s argument. His rebuttal Crucifixion, Not Fictions should be read by all who are concerned about these severe issues. In point of fact he noticed, ahead of Kay, that the original Sky News report he’d seen and written about had been withdrawn!  In reviewing the facts he writes on 4th Sept:

 I did not have to make this point, or mention Sky News at all, since other reports—including El Balad, a much higher trafficked Arabic website which I also quoted—independently mentions the crucifixions in original language and further adds that two people died. And that report, as of now, is still up.

Raymond proceeds to answer Kay’s claims by referring to actual facts of life in Egypt, including the Maspero Massacre, and especially as regards media subjugation under the Muslim Brotherhood’s president Morsi. This had also been reported by renowned Caroline Glick in her long analysis published 17th August, Who lost Egypt?

On Sunday, new President Mohamed Morsy (sic) completed Egypt’s transformation into an Islamist state. In the space of one week, Morsy sacked the commanders of the Egyptian military and replaced them with Muslim Brotherhood loyalists, and fired all the editors of the state-owned media and replaced them with Muslim Brotherhood loyalists.

He also implemented a policy of intimidation, censorship and closure of independently owned media organizations that dare to publish criticism of him. (my emphasis)

Raymond Ibrahim concludes his firm rebuttal as follows:

All this leads to the most important point. Whereas Kay appears intent on proving that the crucifixions never happened, a close read of my article shows that I never said they did happen. As always, I merely reported and translated what was on the Arabic media; noted that Sky News took its story down; and then offered my own interpretation—including the fact that Muslims have been known to crucify their opponents in the modern era, crucifixions are prescribed by the Koran and Sharia, and an Egyptian parliamentarian recently called for crucifixions to be legalized.

In light of all the above, I reiterate my original conclusion: “there is little reason to doubt this crucifixion story.” (my emphasis)

Indeed, soon after this crucifixion story appeared in the Egyptian media, a disturbing video surfaced from Yemen, of a mutilated man, crucified.

How long before the usual naysayers try to portray even this video as a “hoax”?

If you wish to query Raymond’s argument, I’d direct you to this article in response to the decapitation of a Christian in Tunisia, and in which he lists several pertinent facts about the Arabic media and blogo-sphere that Western self-styled pundits miss.

The crucifixion video which he provides a link to is gruesome – it can be viewed only by turning safety button off!  It thrusts a grim reality into one’s face.  AND, amputation as punishment is common, the latest occurrence of which is in Mali (AP report here). I’ll desist from commenting about medieval religious mindsets that attempt to justify and promote outrageous barbarity. It brings a vivid portrayal of what would have happened to Jesus Christ, which Paul Priest portrays in The reality of the Crucifixion, [not for the squeamish].

By the way, there’s also ongoing persecution in Israel of Christians and Messianic Jews from ultra-orthodox Jews, of which the latest vandalism at a monastery is a minor episode (see World News – thanks Stuart).

So is someone, or something, masterminding a ‘crusade’ against Christians? And why?

Answers please on a postcard…

UPDATE: May 2013

For another well-informed and fuller, historical consideration see the Orthodox Christian Robert Sidway’s Crucifixion in Islam: Christians ascend their Golgotha

 

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