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Refuting claims about Islam: Other Voices

I must speak up to correct the inaccurate “historical records” used to excuse and defend the radical form of Islam in the June 18 “Other Voices” column by Sami A. Ibrahim (“History contradicts claims made against Islam”).

To characterize Nonie Darwish – who spoke before a Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley audience – as an “Islam hater” is merely name-calling. We all could wish that there had been some “Nazi haters” in Germany, “Communist haters” in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China, and “Young Turk haters” in Turkey who might have raised the alarm before it was too late to prevent millions of citizens being killed. Darwish was speaking from her personal experience about the radical form of Islam, not the majority of peaceful Muslims worldwide. The entire world would benefit if these peaceful Muslims spoke up more to condemn the Islamic terrorists and less to excuse them.

The author quotes “The Outline of History” by H. G. Wells, but Wells’ judgment can be questioned. Wells’ book was indeed popular but received a mixed critical response from professional historians when it was published in 1920. Wells was a socialist, fiction writer and utopian who believed in one-world government. In the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, he said of Stalin: “I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest,” and made it clear that he felt the “sinister” image of Stalin was unfair or false.

My family’s own history proves that the statement “the radicalization of the Muslim nations of the Middle East began following World War I” is patently false. The Armenians (Christian) in Turkey came under Ottoman (Muslim) rule during the 15th and 16th centuries. All Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their religion, but they lived under the dhimmi system and were treated as second-class citizens. The Turks referred to them as gavours – a pejorative term meaning “infidel.”

In 1890, Hamid II (“The Bloody Sultan”) created a paramilitary outfit known as the Hamidiye, made up of Kurdish irregulars who were tasked to deal with the Armenians as they wished. This resulted in the Hamidian Massacres of 1894-1896, with an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 killed. It is chilling to realize that the Muslim horsemen armed with swords ran down and killed the defenseless Christians shouting “Allahu Akbar” – exactly as the Islamic terrorists do today. It was during this time that my ancestors left Turkey while they still could.The Armenian genocide took place in 1915 during World War I, not after it.

Now that the Iraq War has become unpopular, the writer claims that it was “President George W. Bush’s Iraq War,” but he fails to mention that both houses of Congress voted twice to grant him the authority and many foreign allies joined him in the war as well.

Alan C. Merchant is a Los Altos resident.

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