"It is symptomatic of Jonathan’s behaviour to appeal to straw men when criticised either about his behaviour or his statements. No Muslim has ever stated that his criticism of Islam amounts to racism, however, his castigating of Muslim immigrants and their ethnic communities in Europe as a cancer and a virus is racial based vitriol, and this is what is considered racism. To begin with, Jonathan considers Muslim immigrants of an ethnic background to be “cancers” and “viruses” that are invading Europe."As evidence for his allegation, Ijaz then embeds a video clip excerpted from a lecture I gave on evangelism to Muslims in the UK last August. The only problem is that, in the video clip, I do not say what Ijaz claims I said. I doubt anybody in the audience would have understood my words in the way Ijaz does, and it had not even occurred to me at the time that my words could be misinterpreted in the manner in which Ijaz interprets them.
In the video clip, I was asked a question in the Q&A about the consequences of the rise of Islam in Europe and the UK. This is not really an area I have chosen to major on. As part of my response, I briefly mentioned the existence of Shariah-governed enclaves ("no-go zones") in European cities. My sources at the time had included several articles I had read (such as this, this, and this). As I noted, however, in a post (dated August 25th) at CrossExamined.org, when I undertook some further research into this phenomenon, I found the evidence for these so-called Shariah-governed enclaves to be rather weak. No-go zones appear to be real, in some sense, but poverty and drug trafficking appears to be a much more important factor than radical Islam.
While I try to present information with a high level of factual accuracy (and I think I succeed in doing this for the most part), occasionally I can make a mistake or change my mind on something that I have said. I take full responsibility for anything that I say that is not accurate, and I hope to always correct those when brought to my attention. In this case, in addition to the above-linked post at CrossExamined.org, I also noted my change of view on ABN Sat's Trinity Channel, in an interview with Pastor Joseph (which was noted by Ijaz's friend, Yahya Snow). So my current views are no secret.
That mistake on my part aside, did I really describe "Muslim immigrants of an ethnic background to be cancers and viruses that are invading Europe"? No, I did not. I noted in my post at CrossExamined.org (which I know Ijaz has read),
"Over the past week, I have been contacted concerning a comment I made in passing, in a recent lecture I delivered on Islam, concerning so-called no-go zones in France, governed by gang-imposed Sharia law. This was not an area of particular interest to me, and so I had regrettably not researched it with my usual care. It was not the focus of my lecture, and was only raised in response to a questioner in the Q&A concerning the effects of the increase of Islam in Europe. I had mentioned the fact that there are now Shariah courts in the UK, and had also briefly touched on so-called “no-go zones” in France. In what was regrettably a poor choice of wording on my part, I likened these Muslim enclaves in France to a cancer — my meaning of course was that such enclaves are a breeding ground for Islamic radicalism. It was not intended to refer to the individuals who live in these areas. By likening the enclaves to a cancer it was the ‘No Go Zone’ structure itself I was talking about, and not the Muslims living within such areas nor even the ones who were enforcing such a structure." [Emphasis added]My word choice during the talk was doubtlessly poor (for which I apologize). In any case, however, I have now corrected Ijaz's representation of my words, both publicly and privately, not just on this issue but on other issues as well. Yet Ijaz persists in misrepresenting me.
Ijaz further alleges that,
"...despite now saying that he does not believe ISIS’ brand of religion is normal for most Muslims, in the past [Jonathan] has argued that they are and shared videos towards that cause."To support his allegation, Ijaz links to a video on his YouTube channel, highlighting a lecture I shared on Facebook back in September of 2015. The only problem is that nowhere in the video is it claimed that ISIS is normative for all, or most, Muslims. In fact, the lecture itself makes the appropriate distinction between moderate and extremist/radical Muslims.
Ijaz goes on:
"If race has nothing to do with it, then why is that he’s recently criticised and mocked “White Converts to Islam“? See, he has a bad habit of saying one thing, denying it and then saying another. His lack of integrity knows no bounds. This is one reason that he’s decided to go to South Africa where racial intolerance has currently been spiking, he has found that his ideas about White’s, immigrants and Muslims, appeal more to Christians in Africa than in the UK. He can be assured that there will be many surprises awaiting him when he lands in South Africa."So now I am apparently racist towards white people (despite being white myself). In support of his allegation, he links to an article he posted in December of 2015, which itself links to Yahya Snow's blog post to a similar effect. These articles concerned an occasion on ABN where I mentioned, in an interview with Pastor Joseph, that in my experience the vast majority of white converts to Islam from Christianity are abysmally ignorant of Christianity. That, however, is not racist. It is simply a fact. I had mentioned a few names, including Joshua Evans, Yusuf Estes, Abdurraheem Green (whom I have debated) and Khalid Yasin (whom I met a number of years ago in Glasgow). Yasin is obviously the odd one out, since he is not white. But it was not of any importance to what I was saying. Nonetheless, Ijaz and Yahya kicked up a fuss about the fact that Yasin is dark-skinned and not white (as if that had anything whatsoever to do with what I was saying). What makes Ijaz's article dishonest is that he embeds a screen shot from a Twitter thread, on which I replied, in response to Paul Williams, that I had met Khalid Yasin in person. Paul Williams asked me "Was he white then?", to which I replied "No." But Ijaz did not report on that response, and erroneously claimed that I was persistently asserting Khalid Yasin to be white.
There is already much tension that exists within the interfaith community. Ijaz's actions do nothing but add to it. I am more or less through with Ijaz, and, at least for the time being, I do not at this point intend to interact with him further.
I am personally of the view that Muslims and Christians should participate in some joint events, where a focus would be collaboration on projects of common interest (such as developing a comprehensive case for theism and refuting the neo-atheists, for instance). Our differences matter enormously, for sure -- and we should continue to debate those differences. But there are also areas on which Muslims and Christians can work together. If any Muslims desire to collaborate on furthering this end, I would be more than happy to explore possibilities (you can contact me on Facebook).