August 10, 2007
From Dr. J. Ahmed Salib
Dear Sirs and/or Madames:
It has come to my attention that you have, in a recent post, decried a website bearing the articles of myself and my colleague, Sarah Ghorab. The website belongs to Faith Freedom, and the posting is here: http://www.freekareem.org/2007/07/02/our-campaign-is-not-associated-with-faith-freedom/ .
I fully agree that you have the right to associate or break with whomever you see fit, whether personally or professionally. What I do not agree with is the repulsive manner in which you went about effecting this break. I say “break” because your citation of my article above was not the first mention you have made, however distasteful my article may have been to you.
To this end, I must respond to the charges, state my rebuttal, and express my feelings on this matter.
To begin with, I have never signed on with Faith Freedom. I am not decrying them in the least, but I did not sign up with them or with any other organization.
That is to say I am not affiliated with any association or website or publication except my website, http://www.ahmedsalib.com .
I have (gratefully) noticed that numerous websites have picked up some of my articles, and while a few have asked permission (or gone as far as requesting my take on something) a great majority have done so without my knowledge or express permission (they have it, however).
In fact, I don’t seem to recall allowing you to post my translation of Kareem’s “incriminating” essay on your site.
I don’t blame you for having nicked it, my translation was far and away the most accurate and literal one your site has ever posted (you really must look into getting better translation software, some of your Arabic-to-English’s have been abominable).
What I do blame you for is for having the nerve to post my words—not a link to them, mind, but the actual words—while providing an unfriendly disclaimer against my analysis.
Let’s now take a trip back in time, just in case you forgot what you said:
“DISCLAIMER: The creators of the Free Kareem campaign would like to stress the fact that they do not agree with the contents of this article.”
Please. Don’t give yourself airs. Nobody’s visiting the site to hear what you have to say, they just care about young Kareem and his fate. You’re a non-entity. Important (in this case) only for the news you carry. A vessel or a channel.
What’s more, you could have been kinder in denouncing the views stated in my article, especially when I have not said anything (literally) that Kareem hasn’t said himself.
Very interesting, is it not, that you should defend Kareem’s right to say it—in a Moslem country, no less—but not me in the West.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were using him as a “cause” to attract attention to yourselves, whether for worldwide fame or your resumes or to feel that you really did make a difference in the world (longing to break free of your vessel-tude, are we?)… or to show how open-minded you are—that the maligned would stand up to defend the speech of someone who maligned them. How magnanimous!
While I’m on that subject, it also feels, at times—and maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, and if so, I’ll shut up—that you’re using the platform you’ve ill-obtained in order to make frequent judgment calls and disseminate false information.
Not about Kareem, for you’ve done a great job in that respect. The false information is rather the image you’re trying to cloak Islam in. If Islam were as you purport, a haven of freedom, I’d be the first to defend it. (And my beef with you today is nothing to do with Islam, though because you seem to enjoy being the voice of Moderate Modern Islam, I have to confront this issue.)
The truth, though, remains that no self respecting mufti or imam would agree with the level of tolerance you’d like us to believe you have. Not that you’re tolerant of people like me, which basically puts you in the same boat as an American “liberal” who will defend atheists and gays and pagans and, yes, Moslems—but try to restrict or at least be intolerant of Christians and our rights.
Personally I prefer the death threats and disgust that some Moslems toss my way, at least they’re honest about it (as I am, when writing my thoughts on and arguments against your religion).
Can’t everyone just live and let live? There’s a tiny (alright, miniscule-ly infinitesimal) chance that it’s Islam that’s right and if so, maybe I’m OK with being an infidel.
Maybe I don’t want to go to heaven (have a look at this article of the same name, since you love my work so much: https://ahmedsalib.wordpress.com/2006/03/09/maybe-i-don%E2%80%99t-want-to-go-to-heaven/); can’t you be pro-choice and let me choose hell?
Or, more to the point, can’t you quote my article without bellyaching about how you disagree?
Be a man. This is how to do it:
“Have a look at the translation on this article (their opinions are their own, by the way).”
There, was that so painful? Did that make you look like less of a devout Moslem because you mentioned an anti-Moslem page without breaking into death threats? If that is the case, then I’d seriously call into question what sort of religion you belong to, but I will save that for my next article.
In closing, I am unhappy at your opportunistic (and theatrically reluctant) use of my translation, your unfair lumping of us with Faith Freedom (only because you seem to posit Sara and I as ambassadors for them, when we’re just private citizens), and your coattail-riding (especially sad, since a young man’s health and very life are the cost of your fame).
I could have added the sin of “disrespecting the writer who pulled the lid off the case in the Western world” to your list of offences, only that’s beneath me. (And yes, my article was the first english-language non-press release non-blog post bona fide ARTICLE that appeared, right after his expulsion in 2006.)
I am sorry to say that the way you have handled your campaign may turn people off to Kareem’s cause. Your page is consistently sanctimonious, and could never be called objective or unbiased.
Perhaps my work isn’t either, but at least I am not using a poor helpless and wrongly imprisoned boy as a front for my feisty pieces.
It is with sadness that I close this letter. Sadness because your campaign was more unbiased and fact based when you first began and your fame has gone to your head.
Remember always that this good cause (freedom in general and Kareem in particular) does not belong to you, and that while you may have done stacks of work to promote it, while I may have written the first proper article about it in english, it would have made its way to hundreds of papers on its own strength, without either of us.
Despite my distaste for your ploys, I do still wish Kareem the best, and continue to daily pray for him.
And I wish you a speedy recovery from the hydrocephalus that you’ve recently contracted.
J. Ahmed Salib
I expect that you will either totally ignore this letter, or else share it among yourselves and be outraged and “Can you BELIEVE that guy??” and “We’re SO persecuted, and all we’re trying to do is help!” for days. I briefly considered including another possible mode of action, one where you post this and collect sympathy from your fans/warn them against me, but I don’t think you’re that far gone. I also toyed with the notion of including the possibility that you may remove all mentions of me and my work on your site, but again, that would undermine what we’re all trying to expediently do in different ways such as writing, collecting info, getting the word out, holding rallies, speaking to congress, et cetera.
Let’s call a truce and agree to disagree, ok?