Well, we finally have the missing piece of the debate-cancellation puzzle. As it turns out, my first suspicion was spot on. If you recall, I initially accused Yahya Snow and the Muslim Debate Initiative of conspiring to shut down open dialogue. When two members of MDI (Sami and Yahya Seymour) said they didn’t know what I was talking about and that there was no ban from MDI, I removed all mention of MDI from my initial post.
Alas, I acted too soon, not because I pointed a finger at MDI, but because I excused the organization. The primary culprit in ending several public debates next month was none other than MDI’s director, Abdullah al-Andalusi. (I assume Sami and Yahya weren’t aware of Abdullah’s actions when they posted their comments here.)
The results have been disastrous. Locations had been rented, a professional film crew hired for all of the debates, and advertisements sent out. When Sheikh Awal backed out of his debates with me, Sam no longer wanted to debate him. Since Sheikh Awal’s cancellations had such a negative effect on next month’s plans, the Center for Religious Debate is no longer willing to work with him for future debates (which put an end to two debate series in September and November, and to most of Sheikh Awal’s debate opportunities in the U.S.). Due to MDI’s underhanded involvement in the cancellations, the Center for Religious Debate has decided not to work with MDI in the future. (Note: The vast majority of Christian-Muslim debates in America are arranged by the Center for Religious Debate.) In other words, somewhere in the ballpark of 90% of the Christian-Muslim debates that would have taken place over the next few years are now officially over.
So why did the leader of a group called the “Muslim Debate Initiative” work behind the scenes to put an end to public debates? I debated Abdullah three times less than a year ago (see here, here, and here). What’s changed since then to account for his move from “Let’s debate David” to “Let’s ban David”? Only one thing. I drew attention to Abdullah’s comments on terrorism. When Abdullah defended the Fort Hood Massacre, I pointed out what he said (and allowed him to respond, giving readers the opportunity to make up their own minds). Not long after, Abdullah called in to “Jesus or Muhammad” during our discussion of the Fort Hood Massacre, and he admitted that he agrees with some of the most violent teachings of classical Muslim scholars (properly interpreted, of course). Interestingly, after a call for peace from Sami Zaatari, I never posted the clip. But since things have changed a bit, consider what Abdullah says.
Abdullah was in a position that no debater wants to be in. He was applying his “Argument from Orthodoxy” against us. If he were consistent, he’d have to agree with the violent teachings I quoted (which would get him into quite a bit of trouble). If he doesn’t agree with the violent teachings I quoted, then he would have to admit that he doesn’t really believe the “orthodoxy” criterion he so vehemently applies to Christians (meaning that he was being deceptive or illogical in applying it to us). His solution? He says he agrees with the violent passages . . . without the spin. Unfortunately for Abdullah, we didn’t spin any of the passages, and the meanings were perfectly clear to our viewers.
So what does a young debater do when his true views start rising to the surface? Does he apologize for what he’s said? Does he try to keep a tighter reign on his words? No. Abdullah’s solution is to silence anyone who would dare expose him. Normally, this would be impossible. But Abdullah has been spending all his time over the last two years getting Muslims around the world to join his group. Why? To debate? Obviously not. It seems that Abdullah wants to control the debate spectrum. He wants to control who debates, when they debate, what topics they debate, and so on.
There is one thing that bothers me more than anything else, however. Instead of openly declaring some sort of “Anti-David” boycott, Abdullah decided to work behind the scenes, shutting down opposition under cover of darkness. What’s worse, he was completely willing to let Yahya Snow take the fall for his manipulation. If you recall, Yahya Snow had proclaimed a boycott by a Muslim apologetics group. When MDI assured me that there was no such ban, and Yahya refused to identify a group, I accused Yahya of telling tall tales. In reality, Abdullah was secretly shutting down debates, and he apparently convinced Yahya to keep quiet (which ultimately didn’t work too well, since Yahya decided to point me in the right direction). But what did Abdullah do when I was accusing Yahya? Did he jump in and say, “Don’t blame him. I did it. I’m responsible.” Not at all. He was completely willing to let Yahya take the fall, despite the fact that Abdullah played a much larger (and more sinister) roll. While Yahya has always been open about his desire to shut down public debates, Abdullah continued to portray himself as a champion of public debates (even though he was behind the scenes plotting to overthrow anyone who dares challenge him, all the while letting other people take the blame).
Is this the sort of person who should be running a debate organization—a man who can’t handle criticism, who uses his position to thwart those who expose his statements, who throws his fellow Muslims under the bus to further his own selfish agenda, and who lets his fellow Muslims take the fall for his deceptive and manipulative misdeeds?
Abdullah al-Andalusi (like Yahya Snow, leaders of CAIR, etc.) portrays himself as a respectful Muslim. But there’s a massive difference between what Abdullah says to your face and what he says behind your back. Is anyone surprised? As Muhammad’s companion Abu Darda put it, "We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.''
I have no desire to continue debating in an atmosphere of deception, manipulation, intimidation, and cowardice. It seems I’ll now be turning to atheists for a good debate. (Sadly, I suspect I’ll find more integrity among atheists than I have found with Abdullah.) I will continue to expose Islam on this blog, on YouTube, and on “Jesus or Muhammad.” But after the events that have already been scheduled for next month, I will not engage in public debates with Muslims.
In case anyone wants the context to the above video, here’s the full discussion with Abdullah. (Note: This was shortly after the Fort Hood Massacre, which Abdullah had already defended. After going through Major Nidal Malik Hassan’s PowerPoint presentation, a Muslim called in to defend the massacre. Needless to say, with temperatures running high, Abdullah’s attempts to distort the Bible and evade questions were not well-received. As a rule, don’t expect a perfectly polite exchange following terrorist attacks!)