Christian apologist James White recently had a debate with Nadir Ahmed, which can be seen here on youtube. According to James White, Nadir Ahmed was ill-mannered and rude. To quote James White (our emphasis):
"I really would not consider this much of a debate ... A number of the Muslims commented both here and during the audience's questions which you will see, and that afterwards that they were pretty embarrassed by the way that Mr. Ahmed debated and how he behaved. And my hope, of course, is that other than answering the questions that were asked of me clearly and forcefully that the debate itself and this video will encourage other Muslims to avoid allowing Mr. Ahmed to represent them because I really don't believe that anything positive can be accomplished with someone who just simply lacks any capacity to meaningfully engage these subjects."
(Time slice = 00:23 - 01:08)
On his blog, James White writes (our emphasis):
"What an amazing experience! I truly had never seen anyone misbehave as badly in a debate as Nadir Ahmed did this evening. Combine this with his utter incapacity to grasp the most basic elements of scholarly discourse and argumentation, and well---the results were predictable. But, the Muslims in the audience were so put off by his childish behavior and hubris that I do believe I had some opportunity of truly speaking to them about the key issues, especially when it came to audience questions."
It is true that Nadir Ahmed did not behave in a way that a Muslim must behave, but we do feel that James White is exaggerating a bit over here. The only objection I have to Nadir Ahmed's performance in the debate is how he went off topic on his concluding remarks (this is not to imply anything negative about Nadir Ahmed's arguments throughout the entire debate).
In this paper we wish to draw the readers' attention to a character who is rude, offensive and ill-mannered in his conduct and whose abusive behavior has not once been condemned by James White. Indeed, Nadir Ahmed is an angel when compared to this character. Sadly, when his attention was drawn towards this with proof and evidence, James White refused to comment upon the issue. This character is none other than Sam Shamoun - a very good friend of James White.
See the evidence of some of his abuses here:
Sam Shamoun: A Disgrace To Christians
The above contains links to:
1. Evidence of many filthy, offensive and vulgar emails sent by Sam Shamoun, without provocation (as if provocation is a legitimate excuse for hooliganism) to his Muslim counterparts in which he uses gutter language not only towards individual Muslims but upon Islam as well.
2. Records of chat room conversations where Sam Shamoun directs abuse and slander not only towards Muslims but, once again, towards Islam [Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) specifically].
3. Audio recording of the debate between the Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari and Sam Shamoun in which the latter went on to heap abuse towards Sami Zaatari even though he (Sami) was cordial and polite throughout the course of the debate until Shamoun provoked him (we state for the record that Sami Zaatari should have had more self control and not insult back)
Surely, the above is far worse and insulting than any type of rudeness displayed by Nadir Ahmed in all of his exchanges with Christians. Sam Shamoun hurls blasphemies towards Islam. But James White, seemingly, has no problem with this, thus his refusal to speak up against Sam Shamoun.
In response to the above link, James White first reacted (our emphasis):
"Once again, your link is defective. But I honestly have no interest in reading attacks upon Sam from Islamic apologists."
Instead, had James White bothered looking at the link (he could have easily located the paper on the site even if the link contained an error), it would have become clear to him that it is a documentation of the attacks (in the form of mocks, blasphemies, abuses, insults, etc.) heaped by Sam Shamoun towards Islam and Muslims rather than an attack upon Sam Shamoun (on a side note, if James White is genuinely interested in ascertaining the truth and hearing both sides of an argument, then he should be interested in knowing what critics of Sam Shamoun have to say).
James White went on to say:
Bassam, my brothers and sisters in Christ are imprisoned, beaten, and murdered, by Muslims every day around the world. Muslims mock, blaspheme, and are sarcastic, toward the Christian faith daily, and I am not just referring to "radical" Muslims. I refer to imams and mullahs and Islamic leaders in Islamic countries. One of the main reasons I do what I do is to encourage those brothers and sisters who suffer under Islamic persecution. I believe Christians, who serve the one who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, are bound to speak the truth in love, even when persecuted for so doing. God is just, and justice will be done in the end.
It really does not suit a scholar to come out with such comments. This is not how scholars should speak. Bottom line: Two wrongs don't make a right. The problem with the above comments is as follows:
James White makes a broad generalization when he talks about "Muslims" who "every day" imprison, beat and murder Christians. We do not personally know any Muslim who has done this. None of the authors writing for this, and sister, websites has engaged in such activities. This alone is sufficient to render false James White's hard generalization. The overwhelming majority of Muslims do not engage in such acts and such incidents do not occur uniformly every single day in every region where Muslims are the majority, though they may well occur in some localities where tensions between two communities exist. How can a scholar offer such overly simplistic and shallow comments? Likewise, not all Muslims Imams, Mullahs and "Islamic leaders in Islamic countries" mock, blaspheme and are sarcastic towards Christianity, while some indeed are, as are some Christians towards Islam (Sam Shamoun, James White's good friend! and other evangelical Christians). But what is the point in mentioning all this when James White is presented with conclusive evidence demonstrating Sam Shamoun's very low and dishonorable conduct?
1. James White seems to be suggesting that because Christians are persecuted in Muslim countries, that constitutes a legitimate excuse for Sam Shamoun to insult, abuse, and name-call and apply filthy language towards Islam and Muslims. Is it James White's argument that this disgraceful behavior is permissible under certain circumstances? It sure sounds as if James White is supporting and agreeing with Sam Shamoun's conduct, without, of course, saying it in so many words.
2. The ones who are at the receiving end of Sam Shamoun's abuses are ones who have no links and have nothing to do with the issues highlighted by James White. None of them have been even minutely as insulting or abusive towards Sam Shamoun as Sam Shamoun has been towards Muslims and Islam. From the emails we can see that it is Sam Shamoun who, out of no where, begins viciously abusing them and mocking/blaspheming Islam. Even if Sam Shamoun can prove that he was provoked, how does that still justify his abusive reaction?
3. What is the logic behind mocking and blaspheming Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) with disrespectful words, phrases and rude terms/comments? How do the issues presented by James White justify directing abuse towards ones religion? Even if he is right, is James White suggesting that this behavior is then acceptable from Christians (which takes us back to point #1)?
4. Would James White be content if certain Muslims also, applying his underlying logic, began to direct abuse, slander and foul language not only towards Christians but also towards the Bible, Christianity, Paul and all personalities held in esteem by devout (as well as not so devout) Christians?
There would have been nothing wrong had James White, first and foremost, openly acknowledged that Sam Shamoun's behavior was an embarrassment for Christians and that he (James White), as a Christian, opposed this type of behavior because it was unchristian. Thereafter James White could well have added that he hoped that more Muslims would speak out against persecution of Christians in Muslim societies etc. Granted, the two are unconnected issues and of different types, but such an approach by James White would have been fine.
But when he outright refuses to speak up against Sam Shamoun's documented despicable manners, then James White is being inconsistent.
Many Christians and Muslims in different parts of the world have been involved in conflicts with each other for centuries and such conflicts will, unfortunately, likely continue in the future and even new conflicts between the two sides may emerge. Does that mean that a Muslim and a Christian, who live in areas of relative peace and harmony, who happen to be each others' neighbors etc, are required to be at each others' throats as a result of conflicts occurring between the two sides in other parts of the globe?
Is it not possible for a Muslim and Christian to be respectful towards each others' beliefs, be polite and well-mannered towards each other despite having disagreements and despite the various conflicts between the adherents of the two religions in other areas of the world?
One gets the impression from James White's above cited comments that this is not possible. In his strange "logic", Muslims need to condemn ill-manners of the likes of Nadir Ahmed without offering any excuses. We cannot, for example, refuse to speak against Nadir Ahmed by citing examples of the crusades and modern persecution of Muslims at the hands of Christians in this and that area of the world. If we dare to follow this path, then James White will probably use that as an excuse to mount a polemic towards Islam (see below). But Christians, in the world of James White, can not only refuse to speak out against Sam Shamoun's abusive behavior, but it is also perfectly legitimate for them to then cite examples of Christian persecution by Muslims to defend Sam Shamoun.
This means that James White is inconsistent.
Imagine had Muslims refused to speak up against Nadir Ahmed's behavior. Predictably, James White would have taken that as an opportunity to launch a polemic against Islam, containing subtle arguments against Islamic teachings themselves to explain to his congregation the "real reason" behind the Muslim silence etc. A less scholarly and intelligent Christian polemic would have been to state the matter as follows: "Muslims refuse to speak out against Nadir Ahmed because Islam teaches them to be rude towards others and they know Nadir Ahmed was only being a good Muslim when he behaved rudely." James White would have, we suspect, presented a similar type of argument, albeit dressed in heavy scholarly language.
Perhaps we should apply a similar type of argument to explain James White's silence? The argument would go something like this:
Sam Shamoun goes out of his way to insult, abuse, and slander Muslims and, very eagerly, hurl blasphemies towards Islam and whoever Muslims hold in immense esteem because the Bible teaches him to maintain such a demeanor towards others. A number of New Testament authors were abusive towards their opponents. For example, Paul was often abusive towards his opponents (see Phil 3:19, 2 Cor 10:10, 11:16, 11:4), as were the authors of 2 Peter, Jude and the Pastoral Epistles, who often merely offered insults and name-callings rather than engage with the arguments of their opponents (see here). Perhaps James White also believes that abusive behavior is condoned by the Bible and, therefore, he pretends to be nice and courteous towards Muslims in his writings and, at the same time, refuses to speak against Sam Shamoun? Well, unless James White (and other Christians) say something concerning Sam Shamoun's foul manners, it is understandable how a non-Christian may come to such a conclusion (Note: we are not arguing that the Bible does encourage its readers to behave in this manner).
Just as James White rightfully expects Muslims to speak out against Muslims who misbehave in their debates and dialogues with Christians, we expect James White to have the courage to do the same when it comes to misbehaving Christians - particularly a filthy ill-mannered and an utterly dishonorable character such as Sam Shamoun. This attitude does no good for either side. When Muslims behave arrogantly and rudely, they drive people away from Islam. Likewise, when Christians behave arrogantly and rudely, they too drive others away from Christianity. This misbehavior is a hindrance towards genuine dialogue and only succeeds in instilling suspicions and, even hatred, towards our religions in the hearts and minds of others.
Moreover, just as it is wrong for Muslims to appeal to Christian conduct during the crusades or in certain modern day regional conflicts when asked to comment upon the behavior of the likes of Nadir Ahmed, it is equally unacceptable when Christians hide behind examples of past and recent mistreatment of Christians at the hands of certain Muslims when asked to comment upon the vulgarities, blasphemies and scorn thrown by the likes of Sam Shamoun.
When James White refuses to speak up against Sam Shamoun's abusive conduct, while he expects Muslims to speak up against Nadir Ahmed, then James White is being inconsistent. James White should know better, for he likes to say: