The Islamist website that last Wednesday posted threats to kill American hostage Paul Johnson yesterday posted photographs of his decapitated body. A statement accompanied the photographs, saying: “This is to heal believer’s hearts. It is God’s voice rising in anger,”and that, “the group was determined to humiliate all ‘polytheists until we establish a country of Islamic law and justice.'” The statements excited anger among many Muslims who condemmed the killing, as well as renewing accusations against Saudi Arabia’s tolerance of Wahhabi extremists. A sampling of headlines:
–From Al Jazeera : “‘We, by the will of God, will continue to fight the enemies of God…This act is revenge against them and will be a lesson so that they can be sure of the fate of those who come to our country.’ The statement warned other Americans would meet a similar fate if they went to Saudi Arabia…Earlier, prominent Saudi cleric Shaikh Salah bin Abd Allah al-Humaid, in a sermon at Friday prayers in Makka’s Grand Mosque, denounced Johnson’s capture and potential killing as grave sins under Islam, the most senior Saudi cleric to do so.”
—Saad The Believer: Wednesday, a mystery letter urged militants to free the American hostage, Paul Johnson, saying killing him violates Islamic law as the writer, a Saudi Muslim friend of Johnson had bestowed his protection on the hostage. It “pointed to a saying by Islam’s Prophet Mohammad (PBUH): ‘If they were granted (Muslim) protection, then killing or taking their money or harming them is forbidden.'”
—Shahed Amanullah on Alt.Muslim: “Many of those who read this won’t believe me when I say that Muslims genuinely abhor these crimes – Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi, and even Wahabbi. I don’t know anyone who condones these attacks and have never seen support of them on the dozens of Muslim e-mail lists that I’m on. But that doesn’t change the political reality in this country, unfair as it is, that says that Muslims who remain silent on this issue are unwittingly condoning it. So because of that, Muslims need to rise up against this extremism, not because of political expediency or ‘saving our skin,’ but because of the larger issue–that militancy like this will consume Islam from the inside and turn it into something that drives people away from God instead of drawing them near.”
—Mona Eltahawy in The Daily Star: “Of all the countries in the region where governments have struggled to put down militants, Saudi Arabia is the most pivotal, and not just because it can determine the next emergency OPEC meeting. Islam was born in what is now Saudi Arabia. King Fahd is referred to as the ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ of Mecca and Medina, which millions of Muslim pilgrims visit every year. If oil has been Saudi Arabia’s trump card on the international stage, then Islam has given it plenty of prestige on the Muslim one.”
8:15 am: The U.N. to hold anti-Semitism conference: “‘It’s the first one ever by the United Nations on anti-Semitism,’ said Elan Steinberg, executive vice president of the World Jewish Congress. ‘That certainly has political and moral meaning for a place like the United Nations, which unfortunately all too often in the past has been the site of anti-Semitic utterances and declarations.'”Read more.
8:00 am: “Wafer watch”: Catholic bishops attending the Denver conference this week, yesterday approved a statement denouncing pro-choice politicians for “cooperating in evil,” but stopped short of forbidding them to take communion. The New York Times’s Laurie Goodstein reports.
7:45 am: “God’s biggest wooden chariots“: Today begins the annual journey of three Hindu deities–Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra–pulled by Indian devotees in chariots made from 1,130 wooden logs, in a procession known as rath yatra, or chariot festival.