“Yes what about the virgin birth, the parting of the Red Sea, the angel staying the binding of Issac, the burning bush, the slaying of the first sons…. All true?”
But that’s precisely the point. Lots of people criticize or mock stories in both the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) and the New. Bill Maher often does so himself — see his film “Religulous,” for example. And Jeffrey Taylor, who is also discussed in the above article, writes, “Not just belief in the Koran leads to mayhem, though,” before going on to tackle passages in both the Old and New Testaments that he finds objectionable: http://www.salon.com/2014/10/25/reza_aslans_atheism_problem_fundamentalist_atheists_arent_the_issue_apologists_for_religions_are/
In light of this reality, it would be inconsistent to make criticizing or mocking Islamic scripture off-limits.
As for Rula Jebreal, she made some good points. (Not the one about a gay identity being acceptable in Gaza, though.) For example: “To say that the rise of ISIS is Islamic is simply wrong. There is a theology that’s wrong and needs to be reformed.”
I’m not sure who gets to decide if a theology is “wrong,” let alone reform it, but she’s right about misguided or malicious people’s attempts to collapse the length and breadth of Islam into terrorism.
Her next sentence, though, strikes me as problematic: “But also, unfortunately, the rise of ISIS is a byproduct of the Iraq War and the terrible way that Iraq was administrated.”
This seems to me only partly true. There is nothing foreordained about the way a human being will react to marginalization or oppression, which is what the Sunni Arabs of Iraq have suffered under a succession of sectarian Shiite governments enabled by the US and then backed by Iran. If you choose to resist, and even if you choose violent resistance, it does not have to be Islamist in orientation, let alone of the ISIS variety. For example, you could decide to fight under the banner of a secular ideology, one that would deny the majority religious denomination in your country the right to transform the state into its image and discriminate against or persecute your and other minority communities.
But there’s something else to keep in mind when discussing ISIS. The ISIS phenomenon is much bigger than a resistance movement against the Shiite-dominated government. For example, the group has made clear that it opposes the way Shiites worship, irrespective of their political affiliation. As a result, it hasn’t just executed captured Shiite soldiers, but blown up Shiite mosques and husseiniyyas in areas it has cleared of Iraqi troops. ISIS has also sought to turn Christians into second-class citizens. And why has the group been harder on Yazidis than Christians? Because, in its view, Yazidis (unlike Christians) are not “people of the book” deserving of Muslims’ protection so long as they accept second-class status.
In other words, it’s a pretty big leap to go from wanting to resist the Shiite government that’s oppressing you to considering Shiite rituals (and even Shiite Islam itself) unacceptable, relegating Christians to an inferior legal status, and presenting Yazidis with the choice of converting to Islam or facing execution. For this reason, coupled with the group’s harsh rule in areas it has taken over, many if not most Iraqi Sunni Arabs oppose ISIS. Those who join or support it are not doing something “inevitable,” but exercising their free will, either because for them the fact that ISIS fights the Shiite-dominated government trumps its ideological fanaticism and its violence against innocent people, or because they buy into the whole ideological package and attendant violent practices.