LOS ANGELES – The editors of a new book compiling the testimonies of ex-Muslims say they weren’t surprised when the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacked their work without reading it.
But, say Islamic experts Joel Richardson and Susan Crimp, they were shocked that the New York Daily News characterized the group as the voice of moderate Muslims.
“Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out,” published by WND Books, was skewered by CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in the paper – weeks before today’s official release date. The book is controversial for two reasons – the gripping firsthand personal accounts of men and women who risked their lives by abandoning the Koran and because it is the first American book release to feature a picture of the prophet Muhammad on the cover.
CAIR didn’t wait to look inside the cover before attacking the publisher for spewing hate. But the editors of “Why We Left Islam” say those in the media seeking the opinions of CAIR apparently don’t know who they are dealing with.
“Even though CAIR wants to convince people that it’s a moderate organization, the facts say otherwise,” asserts Richardson, who writes using a pseudonym because of previous death threats from Islamic radicals. “The federal government named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas, and Representative Sue Myrick, R-N.C., said evidence suggests CAIR is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Evidently, CAIR’s ties to Islamic extremists run deep,” adds Richardson, who noted that a recent WorldNetDaily investigative report linked 14 CAIR officials to terror investigations. Richardson said that he and Crimp — who is a noted journalist and author of books on Mother Teresa and the Kennedys — knew from the start of their collaboration that radical Muslims would go to great lengths to discredit “Why We Left Islam,” so CAIR’s attack came as no surprise.
The group’s spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, lambasted the book in an interview with the New York Daily News, saying, “This book is put out by WND Publishing [sic], which promotes hate every day on its extremist anti-Muslim hate site.” Hooper also falsely asserted that the company’s editor “suggested air-dropping pig’s blood over Afghanistan,” a claim which CAIR’s lawyer subsequently retracted.
“Why We Left Islam” chronicles the moving accounts of 23 people whose raw and shocking stories reveal the horror of living in a Muslim-dominated society. And the book’s cover makes an equally bold statement with an illustration of the prophet Muhammad. The picture, which comes from an ancient manuscript and is based on a 10th century illustration by a Persian scholar, marks the first time Muhammad’s face has appeared on a book from an American publisher.
Could CAIR’s attacks of the book and its Muhammad cover incite a violent reaction? In Muslim countries around the world, mullahs and government officials have demanded that books dealing harshly with Islam be banned and their authors condemned to death. In 2006, the infamous Danish cartoons lampooning Muhammad instigated riots. But Richardson, himself a target of death threats, says that the brave men and women who share their stories in “Why We Left Islam” chose to risk their lives when they walked away from Islam. He notes that apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic law.
“Why We Left Islam” hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s Islamic category – a week before the latest title from WND Books is even released. It has also hit the top 50 among non-fiction titles.
Farah said he is grateful for the response to his retraction demand to the New York Daily News, but is disappointed CAIR continues to make outlandishly hyperbolic and reckless denunciations of WND.
“CAIR can always be counted upon to make wildly untruthful and reckless claims about others, while maintaining a hypersensitivity about its own concerns,” said Farah. “Here, for example, Hooper makes this claim that WND promotes anti-Muslim hate on its site every day, offering only one example – and that one is totally untrue. Why other responsible media outlets continue to offer CAIR a platform for making such outrageous statements is beyond me. How many CAIR staffers and officials need to be indicted and convicted before my colleagues recognize these people as the extremists they are?”
“If Muslims rioted around the world after a Danish newspaper published a political cartoon making fun of Muhammad, what will they do in response to this book?” wonders Farah, himself a former Middle East correspondent of Lebanese and Syrian ancestry.
“Why We Left Islam” is filled with first-person stories of former radicals who began to question the Quran and ultimately changed their lives.
Khaled Waleed, for instance, said he was indoctrinated with the same type of teaching as fellow Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden.
“Our teacher and other Islamic scholars told us that as Muslims, we are the best people in the world,” he writes. “I listened to my imams and was disturbed when they used abusive language to describe non-Muslims as the grandsons of monkeys and pigs … [they] told me that it was my duty to revile and ridicule non-Muslims.”
Waleed says the attack on the World Trade Center changed him: “On Sept. 11, 2001, I saw the real face of Islam. I saw the happiness on the faces of our people because so many infidels were slaughtered so easily. I saw many people who started thanking Allah for this massacre.”