Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Islam and witch hunts

There is a lot of talk in the world about the Islamic idea of "Taqiyya".  According to wikipedia, Taqiyya is:
a practice in Shia Islam whereby adherents may conceal their faith when they feel that they are under threat, persecution, or compulsion.
Some people have used this to conclude that any seemingly innocent Muslim is actually an undercover agent of sorts, intent on destroying America.

I'm getting a feeling of Déjà vu.

Ahh...the European witch hunts.  It is estimated that as many as 100,000 'witches' were executed.  The witch hunts were prevalent in what is now Germany.  

Friedrich Spee was a priest who likely heard the confessions of accused witches.  He was outspoken against the use of torture to elicit confessions.   In 1631 he wrote the Cautio Criminalis (Precautions for Prosecuters)

Friedrich Spee in the Cautio Criminalis
1. Incredibly among us Germans, and especially (I am ashamed to say) among Catholics, are popular superstitions , envy, calumnies, backbiting, insinuations, and the like, which, being neither punished nor refuted, stir up suspicion of witchcraft. No long God or nature, but witches are responsible for everything.
11. Therefore the old woman is put in prison. A new proof is found through a second dilemma: she is afraid or not afraid. If she is (hearing of the horrible tortures used against witches), this is sure proof, for her conscious accuses her. If she does not show fear (trusting in her innocence), this too is a proof; for witches characteristically pretend innocence and wear a bold front.

An accused witch was guilty if she were to confess, and guilty if she refused to confess. Much like modern Muslims.

Some have created a situation where any Muslim, regardless of their actions, is presumed guilty. If they are outwardly violent, then they are guilty. If they are outwardly peaceful, then they are hiding their true intentions.

To think that it is Muslims who are so often decried as living in the 14th century.

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