Monday, August 28, 2006

Fox Newsmen Freed In Gaza--"Unharmed?"

Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig were released into freedom yesterday by those who kidnapped them early last week.

According to an umsubstantiated report by DEBKAfile the terms of their release were as follows: 1. That the hostages convert to Islam, 2. That they do so as part of a pubicly released video, and 3. That a six-figure ransom be paid to the man who orchestrated the kidnapping.

The ransom allegation has not been confirmed but clearly, the first two alleged requirments were fulfilled as, shortly before they were set free, a video of the two men confessing their faith in Islam was released.

According to Centanni,
"We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint, and don’t get me wrong here, I have the highest respect for Islam, and learned a lot of very good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do, because they had the guns, and we didn’t know what the hell was going on,” he told Fox.
In the video (via Allahpundit), however, with no apparent hint at satire or hypocracy, an Arabic quotation from the Quran appears that reads, there is "no compulsion in Islam."

More outrageous than this is the opening line of the NY Times article announcing their release:

JERUSALEM, Aug. 27 — Two journalists kidnapped in Gaza were released unharmed on Sunday after being forced at gunpoint to say on a videotape that they had converted to Islam (emphasis added).
"Unharmed?" Dean Barnett and Omri Ceren had something to say about that.

First Barnett:

Interesting locution there, “released unharmed,” no? This comes from the newspaper that believes that a Christmas crèche or a prayer uttered before a high school football game is a violation of the highest order. And yet being forced to adopt another faith at the point of a gun doesn’t rise to the level of “harm” in the Times’ judgment.
Now Ceren:

You idiot! You total blistering idiot! Being forced to convert is a harm. It might be the oldest harm short of death - being forced to renounce your faith and your god. Millions of people - literally millions - have died rather than deign to utter words that would force them to give up their faith. No wonder liberal journalists are utterly baffled by fully half of the United States - they don't think having to give up your religion is harmful. We are beyond certain that if Muslim prisoners at Gitmo were forced to convert away from Islam as a condition of their release, the New York Times would not be putting the phrase "released unharmed" into their lede.

As I have previously noted Centanni is a close relative of my wonderful wife's best friend. Along with his family we celebrate the release of these two men.

What surprises me most of all in this story, especially in light of the "trigger-figure" emotion that seems to arise whenever Islam or Muhammad is brought into disrepute by the West, is that there are no hordes of Muslims protesting the forced, violent conversions of kidnapped hostages to Islam in direct violation of the holy words of Muhammad in the Quran.

The lack of such outrage clearly demonstrates either the cowardice of supposedly "true" Muslims in the face of annihilation by radical members of their own faith or else reveals the utter hypocracy and moral bankruptcy of the faith itself.

Is there anyone in the Muslim world who will step forward and challenge these two charges that I have made here? Although I sincerely pray that someone will sincerely challenge me I am not holding my breath.

UPDATE: I just noticed this quote from an AP story quoted by John at Powerline:
[S]enior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start.
As John notes, "If that's true, one wonders what took so long." Not to mention, 1. What is Hamas' policy on "forced conversions" and, 2. Who gets the ransom money (if there was a ransom paid)?

HT: lgf & Powerline