Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fox News and Forced Conversions

By Aussiegirl

I tuned in last night to watch the one-hour interview with Fox reporters Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig. I fully expected to hear a further explanation and discussion of their forced conversion to Islam at gunpoint. Curiously, no mention was made of that part of their ordeal at all. Why is this? Are they afraid? Is this an uncomfortable reality that does not comport with their passionate defense of the "beauty of the Palestinian people"? Or is it merely embarrassing and something they'd rather forget.

Just imagine for a moment if a Muslim prisoner being held by United States authorities was forced to convert to Christianity at gunpoint. Imagine the hue and cry from Amnesty International, the invocations of the sacred Geneva Convention, the denunciations of the abuses of fundamental human rights, and lamentations about religious fanaticism. But all we heard was the sound of silence, or perhaps - the silence of the dog that did not bark in the night.

I have no problem with Steve and Olaf reciting those words or pretending to convert under those circumstances. Heaven knows what I would do. I doubt that I would be impelled to refuse to convert knowing that I was not dealing with rational players. But that's beside the point. They are not being held now. Why the silence? Are they not outraged at this violation of their fundamental human right to believe as they wish? Is it important to them to make clear to the world that they disapprove of this kind of religious coercion and wish to set the record straight that they do not now consider themselves Muslims and that their conversion was false. Or are they afraid to do so for fear of retaliation from Islamic groups? After all, apostacy is punishable by death in Islam, and as such this forced conversion was more than a mere extortion of false statements by a prisoner, it was tantamount to a death sentence or a fatwah. What happens if either of them chooses to attend a church service in the future? Will this be seized on as evidence of apostacy by Muslim fanatics? Are they to eschew Christmas or Easter services from now on?

No one seems to be discussing this. It seems that there is a curious delicacy regarding talking openly about what has happened to these two newsmen. Let's look at some of the ramifications of this conversion.

As I already said, one is that there is an obvious reluctance by Steve and Olaf, and Fox News to discuss this issue at all. As such, they are already guilty of censoring the news. In addition, there has been a reluctance to criticize these two journalists because of the fact that they work for Fox News, an ostensibly middle-of-the-road or conservative leaning news outlet. But Steve and Olaf were quick to point out that the most "tragic" thing about their abduction was the fact that all journalists left Gaza after their abduction, and their statement that the most important thing for them was making sure that the story of the beautiful and peaceful Palestinian people was told. Their ordeal does not seem to have changed their view in the least. Their forced conversion and the implied fatwah that it carries just seems to be an inconvenient fact that they are willing to overlook. Perhaps this can also be explained by the fact that neither journalist may hold a strong personal religious belief and so a professed conversion to one or another religion makes little difference -- Muslim, Christian, Jewish, what's the difference?

But there have been reports coming out of that part of the world that terrorist groups were out to target news outlets in order to intimidate them into more favorable coverage, and as part of this intent, Fox News came in for particular attention, given that they are perceived to be more sympathetic in their coverage to the Israeli side, or at least try to not be as openly pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab as CNN, which famously made a deal with Saddam Hussein to cover up unpleasant stories and to allow their reports to be censored in exchange for access. It seems that the terrorists have succeeded in their goal. There was not one word of criticism or outrage coming from either of these two men last night.

As such I would say that from now on neither of these journalists, especially Centanni, should be allowed to report from the Middle East. Their impartiality is in question. Are they Muslims? Do they now consider themselves Muslim? If not, why have they not made it clear that their conversion was coerced and therefore invalid. Or are they now afraid? If they are, they are compromised, and so is Fox News, and other news outlets. This is another nail in the coffin of the silencing of our media by the Islamists of all stripes.

In our own country we have CAIR ready to pounce on any speech which portrays Islam in any way realistically. President Bush recently had to backtrack from rightly naming our adversary as Islamic Fascism. The assault on our free speech proceeds unabated, from the Cartoon Jihad to the abduction and conversion of journalists, no one dare to say out loud what is really happening.

American Thinker - This is your Gazan conversion -- Andrew Bostom

The forced conversion of two television journalists to Islam is nothing new – except for the use of videotape and the celebrity value in play. The jihad of today is actually very old, and embedded in the very foundations of Islam.

Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and his accompanying cameraman Olaf Wiig were released on Sunday, August 27, 2006, following almost two weeks of captivity. While both men appeared to be in good physical health, the prognosis for their psychological state, and future journalistic contributions, is less sanguine. As depicted in this disturbing video, Centanni and Wiig were forced to convert to Islam, and recite an anti-Western diatribe, complemented by treacly Islamic apologetics.

During the brief press conference held almost immediately after their release , both men preferred to focus on the plight of the kind and benevolent denizens of Gaza. Momentarily acknowledging the coercive nature of their “conversion,” Centanni admitted off camera, “We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint.” But he felt compelled to add this bizarre disclaimer,

“Don’t get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it,”

before concluding candidly

“…it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn’t know what the hell was going on.”

Centanni expressed his primary concern to the reporters gathered at the Gaza City Beach Hotel press conference as follows.

“I hope that this never scares a single journalist away from coming to Gaza to cover the story because the Palestinian people are very beautiful and kind-hearted…The world needs to know more about them. Don’t be discouraged.”

Wiig reiterated these sentiments.

“My biggest concern really is that as a result of what happened to us foreign journalists will be discouraged from coming to tell the story and that would be a great tragedy for the people of Palestine…You guys need us on the streets, and you need people to be aware of the story.”

And Wiig’s wife thanked unnamed “Palestinian women” from Gaza for their “solidarity”.

Within moments of making these effusively conciliatory statements—despite having been held captive and forcibly converted to Islam—the freed kidnapping victims were whisked off to Israel. Notwithstanding their pious ecumenical pronouncements, Centanni and the Wiigs failed to linger and socialize with the “very beautiful and kind hearted” local Muslim residents of Gaza, even those Gazan women who had shown them such “solidarity.”


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