I have just had a pretty intense hour-long conversation with Rukmini Callimachi a foreign correspondent at the New York Times who covers ‘Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism’. She approached me out of the blue on twitter to ask:
I don’t understand where you are coming from Paul. Do you deny that specific verses of the Quran advocate killing – even as others advocate peace (a problem that exists in all scripture, including the Bible).
As you can read below there followed a very robust exchange ranging from the ISIS’s take on the Quran, the Ku Klux Klan, postmodern interpretations of scripture, and the teaching of the classical Islamic tradition on the limits of war. She holds the weird view (for such a distinguished journalist) that normative Islamic teaching and ISIS propaganda are equally valid interpretations of the Qur’an and sunnah. She can only sustain this by combining a deliberately skewed reading of the Qur’an with an ideological insistence on all-interpretations-are-valid-no-matter-how-wacky line. Needless to say I was not very impressed.