‘Keep extremists out of college’, urges JC columnist

Geoffey AldermanIn the current issue of the Jewish Chronicle, Geoffrey Alderman devotes his weekly column to a – rather belated – scaremongering piece on the Islam at Universities in England report by Dr Ataullah Siddiqui (pdf here). Alderman writes:

“The report calls for the employment of Muslim scholars to teach Islamic theology. What sort of scholars? Scholars who will approach Islamic texts critically and with an eye to their historical context, and not be afraid to condemn – for instance – the so-called ‘sword verses’ of the Koran, which glorify offensive war against ‘unbelievers’, who are deemed explicitly to include Jews and Christians?

“I don’t think so, because what the report actually says is that ‘students should be given the opportunity to learn from competent traditionally trained Islamic scholars’.

“The sub-text here is inescapable: Islamic theology at our universities should be taught by Islamist faculty steeped in a violent, triumphalist view of Islam in the modern world. This view would – indeed, must – be anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli, anti-democratic, anti-gay and anti-feminist.”

Jewish Chronicle, 13 July 2007

What makes Geoffrey Alderman (hitherto not widely known as an expert on Quranic exegesis) think he has the right to lecture Islamic scholars on how to interpret their holy book? Furthermore, why should they be required to “condemn” rather than historically contextualise the sword verses? What Alderman presents is just an ignorant caricature of Islamic scholarship.

And before he starts accusing other people of being “anti-gay”, Alderman might perhaps consider setting his own house in order first. This is the man who, in his 2 February column in the JC, entitled “Gay adoption undermines us”, complained that “the children so fostered will grow up believing that the homosexual lifestyle is an alternative norm”. He told his readers that the shift in attitudes towards homosexuality exemplified by the acceptance of gay adoption “may not offend your credo as a Jew. But it offends mine”, and he went on to draw a parallel between gay men and paedophiles.