Recently, Tarek Fatah (no fan of mine, but a defender of my right to be wrong) chose to launch an attack on Dr Wafa Sultan following some remarks she made at an event in Toronto. Joanne Hill responded. Kathy Shaidle found herself, in what may well be an historic first, somewhere in the middle.
Now, Licia Corbella of The Calgary Herald has weighed in, as follows:
Recently, Tarek Fatah wrote a column that condemned former Muslim, Wafa Sultan, who gave a speech recently at a Toronto synagogue. During the speech, Sultan, Syrian-American and author of A God Who Hates, said the Prophet Muhammad raped Aisha, one of his wives when she was nine and he was 54. Evidence makes it clear that this is not true.
Really? What evidence? All the earliest accounts state that Aisha was six or seven when she was married to Mohammed, and nine when the marriage was consummated. The exception is the biography of the Prophet written by Ibn Ishaq (died circa 761) and edited by Ibn Hisham (died 833), which states that Aisha was ten when the marriage was consummated. Other than that, the age is not a matter of serious dispute.I think what she's saying is that Tarek Fatah is one of those "moderate" Muslims who we must defend at all costs, even if the Sultan-Pipes debate appears to have caused him to lose his cool. After all, come October, McClelland will be publishing his new book about Muslim anti-Semitism (original title: Why We Hate the Jews; current title: The Jew Is Not My Enemy)--and we definitely want to be seen to support that. The subtitle for both titles (the original one, no doubt, was nixed for being a tad too provocative) promises to tackle "the myths that fuel Muslim anti-Semitism". That's going to be quite a tall order, given that much of what fuels Muslim Jew-hate, and always has, are the words of the Koran and the example of the Prophet, both of which are highly problematic (an epic understatement) when it comes to the Jews, and both of which the faithful consider to be perfect and thus unassailable. It will be interesting to see how Fatah deals with the facts (perhaps by proferring them as "myth"?), but I have the sense that the Sultan fracas may well provide a preview of coming attractions.
So what does Ms Corbella mean when she says the "evidence makes it clear that this is not true"? No, Aisha wasn't nine? Or no, it wasn't rape because it was consensual? It was all very pleasant and relaxed - lights down low, Johnny Mathis on the hi-fi, or more likely the Jonas Brothers. Hitherto, most western feminists have taken the position that a nine-year old "woman" is not in a position to give consent. So what exactly is Ms Corbella saying?..
As for Steyn's remark about Fatah not being a fan of his: I happened to be standing directly behind Fatah about a year and a half ago at the Indigo in the Manulife Centre when Heather Reisman interviewed Steyn, and Fatah certainly seemed to be every bit as onside with Steyn's statements as the rest of us were. Certainly, from my vantage point, he seemed to laugh, applaud and groan in all the right places. That's one reason I was so shocked--blindsided, really--by his reaction to Sultan. To me, it seemed to come completely out of left field.