There was quite an interesting debate reported in the media last week. No, not that one. I am referring to the debate in the Muslim world on whether it is permissible under Islamic theological teachings to seize and behead hostages. The best reporting on the beheading debate can be found in a Sunday article by the Iranian, Paris-based commentator Amir Taheri in the Wall St. Journals' Website, WSJ.com. (The following quotes and items come from Mr. Taheri's report.)
This debate was triggered by the killings of the schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia. According to Mr. Taheri's reporting, most Muslim scholars opposed the killings (called exhibition killings in Muslim theology) not because it violated religious guidelines but for the political reason that because Russia had supported the Palestinian cause, they did not deserve to have their children killed.
"Sheik Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Sunni Muslim scholar based in Qatar, was among the first to condemn the Beslan massacre. At the same time, however, he insists that a similar attack on Israeli schools would be justified because Israeli schoolchildren, if not killed, could grow up to become soldiers (Sheik Qaradawi also justifies the killing of unborn Israelis because, if born, they could become soldiers.)"
Similarly, when two French journalists were taken hostage in Iraq, the Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, called for their release: "France is a friend of the Arabs; we cannot treat friends this way." This position was confirmed by the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, who has not condemned any of the other 140 hostage takings and other beheadings. (So much for applying Geneva Convention standards to POWs in war with Muslims. Such application will be a tad one-sided.)
The French government well understands this perverted policy of many Muslim clerics and politicians of beheading Americans, Israelis and other enemies, but not Frenchmen. As Mr. Taheri reports:
"The French authorities have reinforced that sentiment. (French) Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin speaks of the Iraqi insurgency as "la resistance." And (French) Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has announced that France would reject the international conference on Iraq, proposed by the Bush administration, unless "elements opposed to the occupation," meaning the terrorists, are invited."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.