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Harris Zafar and His Straw Man
by Robert Spencer
On January 10, FrontPage Mag published my article, "The Grand Mufti's Sex Tape and Violence in Islam," in which I noted, in conjunction with the sex tape scandal of Rakhmatulla-Hajji Egemberdiev, the Grand Mufti of Kyrgyzstan, that he was the sixth Grand Mufti of Kyrgyzstan to be replaced in four years – since, as al Arabiya reported, "recent grand muftis, who are elected to five-year terms, have resigned early amid corruption scandals and been kidnapped and beaten."
This became my jumping-off point for a series of speculations as to why so much violence – kidnappings, beatings — surrounded the office of Grand Mufti of Kyrgyzstan, which led me to examine the fates of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs (all murdered) and the violent exhortations of the Muslim holy book, the Qur'an. In the Huffington Post a week later, Ahmadi Muslim spokesman Harris Zafar said this amounted to my blaming Islam for the Grand Mufti's sexual misconduct, and invoked Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker and Ted Haggart in constructing an elaborate tu-quoque argument: you see? Christian clerics get involved in sex scandals, too, so shut up.
The only problem with Zafar's article was that I had not actually blamed Islam for the Mufti's sex scandal at all. My article was an exploration into Islamic texts that might shed light on why so many Grand Muftis of Kyrgyzstan had been kidnapped and beaten, and why so much violence surrounded even some of the founding and most revered figures of Islamic tradition. Zafar's entire article, with all its pious posturing about fostering mutual understanding instead of indulging hatred and bigotry, was based on a straw man: the false claim that I had attributed the randiness of Kyrgyzstan's mufti to Islam.
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