Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s Muslim Problem

By Juan Cole

Bravo to Ben Affleck and Nicholas Kristoff for telling Bill Maher off about his chronic case of Muslim-hating bigotry. (He would say he doesn’t hate Muslims, only their religion, but then those who hate gays say much the same sort of thing).

Maher and Sam Harris like to demonize Islam and by association Muslims. Ben Affleck de-demonized them by appealing to the banalities of everyday life. Most Muslims, he said, just want to have a sandwich and get through their lives. This is true.

Addressing the arguments of Maher and Harris is like nailing jello to the wall. They shift between cultural practices that are now objectionable in the US (but some of which were common here until recently) and an assertion that Muslims are unusually violent. But this latter is not true. As for Islamic law, it clearly forbids terrorism.

See Terrorism and the Other Religions

and here .

Maher’s and Harris’s charges against Muslims in general are ridiculous. Neither one has ever lived in a Muslim-majority society or knows the languages or cultures. They just retail invidious calumnies second-hand. Almost anything polemicists like Sam Harris say of Muslims can be said of others; i.e. they are just describing the human condition, unfortunate as it often is. In the 1990s an ABC poll showed that 10% of Americans sympathized with far right wing white supremacist groups like the Michigan Militia. My recollection is that polling showed that a significant proportion of Chinese sympathized with the 9/11 attacks and to this day only a third think al-Qaeda committed them (i.e. it wasn’t viewed as a fundamentalist act but as an anti-imperialist one [this point of view is execrable; I’m just reporting it]). Note that in this last instance, the attitudes have nothing to do with religion but rather with nationalism/ imperialism, a binary pair that explains the world much better than religion/atheism. The same statistics, if glibly given by Maher or Harris for Muslims, would damn the latter and their tradition; but what about the Chinese? Is Communist-Capitalism or the Confucianist heritage to blame here?

via Real Time HBO

The dispute decided me to reprint my essay on Maher and Muslims from a couple of years ago, below:

Comedian Bill Maher puts himself in the company of “9/11 liberals” who believe that Islam as a religion is different and decidedly worse than all other religions. He said Friday that ‘at least half of all Muslims believe it is all right to kill someone who insults ‘the Prophet.’ His bad faith is immediately apparent in the reference to 9/11, not the work of mainstream Muslims but of a political cult whose members often spent their time in strip clubs.

Now, it may be objected that Maher has made a career of attacking all religions, and promoting irreverence toward them. So Islam is just one more target for him. But that tack wouldn’t entirely be true. He explicitly singles Islam out as more, much more homocidal than the other religions. He is personally unpleasant to his Muslim guests, such as Keith Ellison. His reaction to the youth of the Arab Spring gathering to try to overthrow their American-backed dictators was “the Arabs are revolting.” Try substituting “Jews” to see how objectionable that is.

Maher ironically has de facto joined an Islamophobic network that is funded by the Mellon Scaife Foundation and other philanthropies tied to the American Enterprise Institute, etc. which is mainly made up of evangelical Christians, bigoted American Jews who would vote for the Likud Party if they could, and cynical Republican businessmen and politicians casting about for something with which to frighten working class Americans into voting for them.

Maher is a consistent liberal and donated $1 million to the Obama campaign, so he is in odd company in targeting Muslims this way. So what explains this animus against Muslims in particular? The only thing he has in common with the Islamophobic Right is his somewhat bloodthirsty form of militant Zionism. He strongly supported the Israeli attack on helpless little Lebanon in 2006, in which the Israelis dropped a million cluster bombs on the farms of the south of that country. He talks about how the besieged Palestinians of Gaza deserve to be “nuked.” His interviews with Likudnik Israeli officials are typically fawning, unlike his combative style with other right wing guests.

In short, Maher is in part reacting as a nationalist to Muslims as a rival national group, and his palpable hatred for them is rooted not in religion but in national self-conception. It is a key tactic of militant Zionism to attempt to demonize and delegitimize Muslims; you don’t have to apologize for colonizing or imposing Apartheid on Palestinians, after all, if they aren’t really human beings. In addition, like many Americans, Maher sees the United States, Europe and Israel as ‘the West’ locked in a rivalry with an alien, Islamic civilization that is intrinsically fanatical and backward (his fellow-traveller on this issue, Pamela Geller, uses the word ‘savage.’) Maher is aware of the history of Christian bloodthirstiness, of course, but he often speaks of it as being in the past. He seems to see contemporary Muslims as having the same sorts of flaws (Inquisition, Crusades) as medieval Christianity.

Maher is not important, but his thesis is widely put forward, and it matters in real people’s lives. There is a nation-wide campaign by religious bigots (most of them sadly evangelical Christians) to prevent American Muslims from building mosques in their communities, and one of the reasons often given is ‘fear’ that the Muslims are homicidal and so the mosque is a conspiracy to commit murder waiting to happen. Maher’s singling out of Muslim as different willy-nilly encourages people to treat them as different, i.e., to discriminate against them.

It is significant that Maher tries to pin the label ‘murderer’ on the Muslims (or half of them?) Because one of the centerpieces of classical Western hatred of Jews was the blood libel, the allegation that they stole the babies of Christians and sacrificed them in secret rituals. It is hard to see what the difference is between that and arguing that some 3 million American Muslims are walking around like a grenade with the pin pulled out. Both blood libels configure a non-Christian group as homicidal, and locate the impulse for their alleged killing sprees in secret religious beliefs opaque to the normal Christian.

Refuting Maher would be tedious and, as others have noted, like nailing jello to the wall, since he doesn’t have a cogent set of testable theses about Muslims, he just despises them. For what it is worth, It is fairly easy to show that Maher’s specific assertions about Muslims, and more especially about American Muslims, are simply not true. Most reject militant groups, and nearly 80% want a two-state solution on Israel and Palestine, i.e. they accept Israel assuming Palestinian statelessness is ended.

Crowd politics is different in various parts of the world and it is certainly true that riots can be provoked in each culture by different things. It is a straw man to say Muslims “would” kill people for insulting Muhammad. How many such killings happen each year? where? And it stacks the deck against them to single out their motive from other possible impetuses to violence. Is the complaint that they are more violent than other people (not in evidence)? Or that their motives for violence are peculiar (depends on how you classify them)? In the United States, the police beating of Rodney King resulted in 3000 shops being burned down in Los Angeles. Race seems to be the thing that sets off riots in the US. Rioting over race relations is so common that major such incidents, as in Cincinnati, often do not even get national press.

The touchiness of Muslims about assaults on the Prophet Muhammad is in part rooted in centuries of Western colonialism and neo-colonialism during which their religion was routinely denounced as barbaric by the people ruling and lording it over them. That is, defending the Prophet and defending the post-colonial nation are for the most part indistinguishable, and being touchy over slights to national identity (and yes, Muslimness is a kind of national identity in today’s world) is hardly confined to Muslims.

In India, dozens of Christians have sometimes been killed by rioting Hindus angry over allegations of missionary work. Killing people because you think they tried to convert members of your religion to another religion? Isn’t it because such a conversion is an insult to your gods?

In Myanmar, angry Buddhists have attacked the hapless Muslim minority, sometimes alleging they were avenging an instance of the rape of a Buddhist girl (i.e. these are like lynchings in the Jim Crow South).

Or then there have been Sri Lanka Buddhist attacks on Tamil Christians. In fact, Sri Lanka Buddhists have erected a nasty police state and shown a propensity for violence against the Tamil minority, some elements of which have had revolutionary or separatist aspirations (not everybody in the group deserves to be punished for that).

And, militant Israeli Jews have set fire to Muslim mosques in Palestine and recently tried to “lynch” three Palestinians in Jerusalem. If Maher thinks only Muslims are thin-skinned, he should try publicly criticizing Israeli policy in America and see what happens to him.

Since Iraq didn’t have ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and wasn’t connected to 9/11, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that 300 million Americans brutally attacked and militarily occupied that country for 8 1/2 years, resulting in the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the wounding of millions, and the displacement of millions more, mainly because Iraq’s leader had talked dirty about America. Now that is touchy.

Americans tut-tutting over riots in the Arab world appear to have led sheltered lives. In most of the world, crowd actions are common over all kinds of issues, beyond the ones of race, class and college sports teams that routinely provoke them here. When I was living in India there were always items in the newspaper about a bus driver accidentally running over a pedestrian, and then an angry mob forming that killed the bus driver. Neighborhood nationalism. The same sort of crowds gather when a blaspheming author drives his discourse into the sanctity of their neighborhood. It is appalling, but I’m not sure what exactly you would do about that sort of thing. It certainly isn’t confined to Muslims…

Maher is using his position as a comedic gadfly to promote hatred of one-sixth of humankind, and that is wrong, any way you look at it.


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41 Responses

  1. Bill Maher and Sam Harris have a faulty approach to religion in general. And they are strongly pro-science. We hear a lot from atheist science guys on the one hand, and religious anti-science folks on the other. We don’t hear enough from science-friendly people who are strongly religious. There is no reason for conflict between science and religion. But, a lot of ‘modern’ people mistakingly think that the fact that science tells us so much about the implies that nothing can exist that is not a part of the material world. And a lot of religious people think they can deny what science tells us about the world.

  2. Hey its today’s TV: “Comedian Bill Maher puts himself in the company of 9/11 liberals” but finds himself a patriarch sans beard of Duck Dynasty.

  3. Been waiting a long time for someone to put Maher in his place. You should get on that show Dr. Cole. Would certainly be interesting.

  4. “Maher is a consistent liberal and donated $1 million to the Obama campaign, so he is in odd company in targeting Muslims this way.”

    One little nit-pick. Maher is hardly a liberal. The fact that he gave $1million to Obama, another decidedly non-liberal, should be evidence of that.

  5. When Maher started blabbering on about vaccines being dangerous I just decided he is a quack and stopped looking at him for any sort of entertainment or thought. This only adds to the pile of reasons to ignore. Thanks for the write up.

  6. Maher lost me a long time ago when he said he admired Colin Powell. That was after Powell’s craven speech (February 5, 2003) before the UN that was ripped apart almost immediately by people who knew what they were talking about and were ultimately proved right. Christopher Hitchens got it right when he said Powell was the most-overrated man in Washington.

    • It sounds like you have never served in the Armed Services. Powell’s speech was not craven because it was done out of duty not for self serving interests. I was against the Iraq War well before it was a twinkle in Dick Cheney’s eye. It actually made me physically ill. Nevertheless, I always have and always will respect Colin Powell have because I understand the reasons.

      • I’ve never respected Colin Powell. Ever since I read about him being a Major who helped whitewash the My Lai massacre.

        If you want to respect someone who only follows orders, that’s your call. It does put you in some disagreeable company though.

  7. Thanks for this post Juan – bigotry like this needs to be called out articulately and knowledgeably, esp. if it comes from someone who has an enormous platform from which to speak and uses it to spout insidious and poisonous misinformation. It is esp. discouraging to such vile hate come from someone many would consider “Left” of “Liberal” – no wonder Maher can remain “friends” with creatures such as Ann Coulter. Folks like myself are thankful for public intellectuals such as yourself and Reza Aslan who can call out this crude sort of thinking when they see it.

  8. Thanks for this. “Maher is a consistent liberal” and has been so willing to point out the hypocritical contradictions embedded in so many issues. However on Israel and their crimes against humanity over the decades he goes blind as so many so called liberals in our congress, MSM host, New York Bloody Times etc have also done for decades. If someone actually the time to examine closely the time that Maher spent bashing the violence exhibited by Christian faiths, Islam you can easily see he did not spend the same amount of time on violence in Judaism or Zionism (which has in many ways become a faith)

    Sam Harris “Islam the mother lode of bad ideas” Yikes

  9. It appears that a case can be made that the Catholics on the Supreme (sic) Court who voted for Citizens United put this nation at greater risk than anything ISIS is likely to come up with, but that is no reason to condemn all Catholics.

    • Two fallacies:

      1) It’s not about being of a particular religious group and doing a bad thing. It’s about bad behavior being a consequence of certain beliefs and attitudes (religious beliefs and attitudes in this case).

      2) They don’t condemn all Muslims. They’re condemning certain Islamic beliefs and attitudes, assent to which varies among Muslims.

  10. I watched the Maher show and (as a non-practicing Christian) I was disgusted with his remarks. For the most part, I have enjoyed his work, but such blatant bigotry coming from someone who portrays himself as a progressive, was disappointing. He needs to listen to his own remarks with a critical and objective mindset. I think that he too would be disgusted with his own rhetoric.

  11. Professor Cole I’m afraid I think you’re wrong here. This is about criticizing ideas, not bigotry. The analogy with anti-gay people is a good one but it doesn’t work in the way you would like I’m afraid. There can be no doubt that efforts in this country to keep gay people second class citizens are driven by specific religious beliefs. Beliefs about the morality of homosexuality as dictated by the one true God, the obligations Christians have vis-a-vis creating a society God approves, etc. They’re all founded on specific propositional beliefs about the origin and nature of one particular book.

    By your reasoning it would be bigoted of me to criticize the beliefs of Christians because of their link to the outrageous societal consequences of those beliefs. The same is true for Creationism and I could go on. With regard to Islam, I honestly don’t know what the numbers are on say, death as punishment for apostasy. But whatever they are, you can’t seriously be saying that criticizing such a religiously-based belief amounts to bigotry, can you?

    Harris and others do not deny that there is bigotry against Muslims as people and they seem to be right that criticism of religious beliefs held by substantial numbers of Muslims (not all by any means) is regularly shut down as being bigoted or racist.

    I’ve long been a fan of the work of Sam Harris though he his wrong about many things and likely significantly in error with regard to the link between Islam and suicide terrorism. But he is making cogent argument which should be met with counter argument, not accusations of racism.

    • If you were to say that Christian beliefs are harmful to gay people, you’d be doing a disservice to the numerous open and proud gay Christians who read the scripture differently than gay-bashers.
      Saying that Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas is on a par with telling someone you disagee with that there mind is malfunctiong. It’s not an argument.

      • I would say that Christian beliefs being harmful to gay people is a fact. Whether saying so is a disservice to anyone is a separate issue.

        “Motherload of bad ideas” is of course Sam Harris. I’m not interested in defending that statement but he has written a lot about what ideas he sees as so bad. He may well be completely wrong but arguing that the ideas which comprise a belief system are ‘bad’ is not the same thing as saying someones’ “mind is malfunctioning”.

  12. Juan, I’ll start watching TV for news when you get a weekly show. As you have cogently pointed out in the past, some “groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s,…and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalists are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them.” link to

  13. Methinks you left out another ordinary down home Zionist folk who were not intimidated into submission but fully supported the murderous Netanyahu’s attack on Gaza, slaughtering thousands of Palestinian civillians and laying it to waste.
    Would love to hear Maher’s musings and justification on Israel’s latest assault.

  14. As you say, widely held ideas allow people with violent tendencies to justify their actions. The belief that Islam is the problem has led to killings of peaceful Muslims and Sikhs (who are often mistaken for Mslims).
    A 2006 poll by CNN found that 56% of Americans favor amending the Constitution to outlaw flag desecration. You can find other evidence that Americans are not real big on civil liberties. But, the ACLU doesn’t go on hostle rants about flag-wavers.

    • RJ,
      Any oppression of minorities is abhorrent. The critical question, however, is the degree of risk, which is increased in direct proportion to the percentage of people that hold anti-social views. An example would be North America. I am sure that African Americans suffered discrimination in Canada but it was far more pernicious and violent in the United States, hence the risk toward African Americans in the US was far greater.

      There is no guarantee that acts of violence will not be committed in any country in the world. In the US, however, there are legal mechanisms to put perpetrators in jail, a long time, especially if these crimes are considered hate crimes.

      In countries like Iran there is no such mechanism and much of the violence against minorities such as the Baha’is is institutionalized and sanctioned by the state. In the US Muslims have legal recourse, in Iran the Baha’is have none. That is the difference.

      As far as flag burning that is a different can of worms because that is an active political statement. This is different than the persecution of law abiding minorities who simply want to get on with their lives. Their crime is because of their beliefs not because of their acts.

  15. The desire to see a policy implemented is one thing, the ability to implement it quite another. We have ideas and opinions that have violent tendencies as well (as you note concerning TR) – and we act on them still to this day, such as the idea that it’s okay to have a massive military-industrial-media complex that has bombed, on dubious pretexts and with dubious results, seven Muslim countries under Obama. To wag fingers at peoples about their views on civil liberties and them to bomb them – there seems to be a real disconnect somewhere here. Of course, the main point to remember is you have looked at a particular poll in a particular country at a particular time. To generalize that this is how all Muslims think would be wrong, which was Affleck’s (and Aslan’s) point – countries such as Turkey and Indonesia (for example) are far more liberal in their policies than (say) Saudi Arabia. But the real heart of the matter is that Maher and Harris present these opinions as an implied justification for our continued use of force in Muslim countries.

    • With regard to the death penalty for apostates, this is a good bell weather for other civil liberties. Turkey is a good example because it is secular state and relatively liberal. Even so, according to a recent poll, 5% of Muslims there favor the death penalty for apostates. This is the best case scenario.

      Here are some more countries that favor the death penalty for apostates

      Afghanistan >70
      Pakistain > 60
      Egypt > 60
      Palestine 60
      Malaysia > 50
      Iraq 40
      Benglandesh 37

      If you took the same poll here in the US among Christians, it probably would be minuscule.

      I am not going to defend the US actions because I am not representing their view point and I disagree with many actions they have taken in the past (e.g. invasion of Iraq, opposition to the ICC).

      • How many apostates are executed in those countries?

        Where is apostasy a capital crime in the Qur’an?

        People tell pollsters all kinds of things.

      • Probably not many, but the poll numbers are indicative of attitudes and attitudes drive social behavior.

        It seems like an anachronism in this day and age, although, I could see it as an act of treason in the early days of Islam, when their numbers were few and they were surrounded on all sides by hostile forces.

        Now it seems to me like an ego thing, “how dare someone leave my religion”. If your faith is really strong, it really shouldn’t matter if people enter or leave your religion, it is between you and God.

  16. The commenters defending Maher and Harris in this thread, or at least justifying them, seem to forget that we – and our interests – have been historically the victim of so-called Islamic violence mainly as a result of our support of autocratic regimes in the Muslim world and for our continued unfettered and pathological support for Israel. Were it not for western interests in those countries, I very much doubt we’d be concerned too much about Islam one way or the other.

    War and conflict frequently does not start on the battlefield, but with the word. The rhetoric of Maher serves as an enabler for such organized state violence that has its origins here at home. Then again, democracies are not always the best at risk assessment – as someone who works on hunger issues you will never convince me that childhood hunger in the US is not a much bigger issue and more dangerous for us than, say, civil liberties in Saudi Arabia, or violent Muslims who would like to attack us. But hungry kids remain invisible, have always been around, and don’t get ratings like beheadings or Sabbath Gas Bag pundits.

    Defending Maher to me sounds at this point like special pleading, not to mention willfully ahistorical.

    • Hate to prick a hole in your support of your dictator theory but during the cold war both the US and the USSR supported dictatorial regimes in Africa and Latin America. The US was far more involved in Latin American politics than probably anywhere else. Nevertheless, these countries evolved into democracies without the terrorism that plagues the Middle East. The example I know best is Panama(I lived 20 years). The Panamanians peacefully and patiently negotiated the transfer of the Panama Canal for 15 years with virtually no violence until they obtained their objective. The Panama Canal issue was not just a Panamanian issue but a sore point for all Latin Americans. Nevertheless, few acts of terrorism against civilians were committed.

      As far as the US supporting dictators, I have personal experience with that as well. Dictators become entrenched locally way before they are recognized internationally. Once they are entrenched, the only way to do business in that country is to go through a dictator.

      Another example you should look at is India. Was there any country in Asia more abused by the European powers that that? It took India hundreds of years to gain independence with very few acts of terrorism. Today they are one of Asia’s rising stars.

      What is the difference you might ask? It is the concept and the mis-application of Jihad. Originally it was meant to create a society where people could choose their religion, where Muslims could practice their faith without fear of persecution. Unfortunately, it has evolved into the cornerstone of many Islamic fundamentalist belief systems. In this day and age it is completely unnecessary because most of the world (with the exception of the Middle East) guarantees religious freedom.

      • You might be surprised to know that I agree with you in part. But do we really think that but for western interference there would be the sort of situation we are facing today? Or that we would be very concerned about what Muslims think?

        As for the examples you cite, fine. However statistically, just how many places can the US and its allies intervene before we finally stir up a hornets’ nest (in my lifetime its been Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Greece, Guatamala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, Afghanistan, Panama, and that’s just off the top of my head)? So alright, Panama and India didn’t turn terrorist against outside aggressors and have relatively stable societies. Obviously that will not always be the outcome, as the lingering legacy of western colonialism in the Near East shows, and the results of our 2003 misadventure in Iraq depressingly reveal.

        • Actually, south east Asia turned out pretty good as well.
          But getting back to the Middle East, there are homegrown movements that promote religious tolerance. The Iranian cleric, ayatollah hamid masoumi tehrani, comes to mind, who courageously stated regarding the Baha’i community of Iran, “symbolic action to serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing human beings, of peaceful coexistence, of cooperation and mutual support, and avoidance of hatred, enmity and blind religious prejudice.”

          Also, the recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala. These are the people we should be looking to.

          If we justify the actions of the extreme fundamentalists, on the other hand, we are enabling the worst sort. The violence will never end. Those fundamentalists have built their belief edifice on a whole slew of misconceptions and false traditions. They have no place in the modern world. Take for instance their view on apostasy and capital punishment. If you really look at the Koran it only touches on it about maybe 3 times, and nowhere does it recommend the death penalty.

          During the 60s there were two main movements among the African Americans, one led by Dr. King, the other by the Black Panthers. Dr. King advocated non-violence, the Black Panthers violence. Who had the most lasting impact on our society?

  17. @Phaedrus, the Qur’an does not condemn apostates to death. On the contrary it explicitly states that there is no compulsion in religion (2:256). There are a few hadiths (Islamic secondary sources) which some Muslims use as their rationale for thinking that apostates are condemned to be killed. But many Muslims see these hadiths as not being authentic. Regarding Buddhists, I don’t know much about their texts, but they are engaged in the worst of atrocities in killing the Rohingya Muslims who they have herded by the hundreds of thousands in concentration camps which Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes has written about. Please see link to
    There are bigots and killers in all religions and all secular ideologies.

  18. Dom Huntman

    IMHO @billmaher is happy to be a classic bigot if it catces those percentages that ‘want’ to believe an evil enemy is out there.

  19. I don’t know if this is true but I found this in wikipedia:

    According to one female journalist; “If the Quran does not address the subject, then the clerics will err on the side of caution and make it haram (forbidden). The driving ban for women is the best example.”[14] Another (Sabria Jawhar) believes that “if all women were given the rights the Quran guarantees us, and not be supplanted by tribal customs, then the issue of whether Saudi women have equal rights would be reduced.

    Limiting the rights of women also seems to go against the very spirit of Islam(also from wikipedia).

    His first wife, Khadijah, was a powerful businesswoman who employed him and then initiated the marriage proposal on her own.[20] Another wife, Aisha commanded an army at the Battle of Bassorah and is the source of many hadiths.[21][22] Muhammad ended female infanticide and established the first rights for women in Arab culture. He reportedly told Muslim men, “You have rights over your women, and your women have rights over you.”[23]

    • There are roughly 800 million Muslim women. Only the ones in Saudi Arabia, 11 mn., are forbidden to drive. No Sunni or Shiite or Ibadi country has this peculiar law, which is not based in Muslim but in tribal tradition.

      • It will be interesting to see the reaction to Malala’s winning of the Nobel Prize in her home country of Pakistan

  20. I have always respected Mahar until his constant bashing of Muslims. YES Bill you are now officially a bigot.

  21. Bill Maher really needs to get out more. How does anyone live in any cosmopolitan city in the U.S. and NOT meet neighbors, colleagues, etc. who are practicing Muslims?

    I don’t have a huge social circle, but I’ve met people of all faiths–including practicing Muslims–in my college days, at the various apartment complexes where I’ve lived in Los Angeles and San Diego, and at work.

    There’s nothing like an ordinary friendship or two to make it obvious that the practice of Islam (which has much in common with the practices of Christianity and Judaism) does not require adherents to run around beheading non-believers.

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