Reader Rebuttal: Book about Islam

Posted: June 21, 2006 in Politically Incorrect News & Views

By ERIK SKINDRUD

The Huntington Beach resident is a journalist

Read the book review that promoted this rebuttal

www.ocregister.com/ocregister/opinion/bookreviews/article_1168174.php

It's unfortunate that the Register devoted a column to one of the more virulently anti-Muslim books of the past decade ("Militant Islam, without blinders," Book Review, Commentary, June 4).

The writer, Steven Greenhut, a senior editorial writer, used the space to suggest that Serge Trifkovic's "The Sword of the Prophet" (2002) somehow taps into "the unvarnished truth" about Islam and Muslims. "Sometimes that truth can be hard to take," he adds.

Indeed it can. Just as Jews resent anti-Semitic literature, Muslims are offended when writers who dislike and even hate them quote their holy texts out of context – in an attempt to make them look selfish, aggressive and repressive.

Greenhut's column neglects to quote the book's full title. In full, it is "The Sword of the Prophet: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, History, Theology, Impact on the World." The full title much more accurately reflects the direction the book heads in.

It's important to point out that the book has been largely ignored in mainstream circles (defining "mainstream" broadly). Database and Internet searches suggest that Trifkovic's book has not been reviewed in any major (or even any) American or British newspaper. The title only came to light last year when the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the conservative National Review to drop ads for the book from the magazine's Web site. The National Review complied, generating an outcry from conservative bloggers and letter-writers. The magazine has apparently reversed its decision, as the book appears on the National Review Book Service's Web site this month.

It is not worth exploring or arguing "The Sword of the Prophet's" slanted claims about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad himself. It is more useful to learn a bit more about the author, whom Greenhut dubs a "European scholar."

Trifkovic, in fact, is a Serb who formerly served as a spokesman for the Yugoslavian government. In 2003, Trifkovic testified as an expert witness for the defense during the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the trial of Milomar Stakic, later sentenced to life in prison for war crimes during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s.

After the war, Trifkovic claimed that the internationally documented genocide against Muslims in Srebrenica was a "stage-managed massacre" and that it was "self-inflicted." He has also claimed that the accepted figure of 250,000 Muslims dead in the conflict could be as low as 2,500. In a 2004 interview Trifkovic said, "Islam is a violent cult characterized by the fundamental lack of love."

These are outrageous claims. Even limited research shows that Trifkovic is anything but an unbiased "scholar" when it comes to writing about the religion of his former enemies. To suggest he is such is irresponsible and offensive.

And despite Trifkovic's claim to the contrary, Jews, Muslims and Christians share a common heritage. Followers of the three great Abrahamic religions are all "peoples of the Book," (to use a term from both Arabic and Hebrew) and need to look to their common heritage instead of their shared history of conflict.

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