A Serious Allegation by Dr Anthony McRoy

Cross-posted on Harry’s Place.

Dr Anthony McRoy has explained why he agreed with Rev. Sizer to ask the police to talk to me – the police visit to my house last November being at both men’s request. McRoy writes:

This brings me to the point of my agreeing to the police talking to Mr Weissman. His comments about me – misrepresenting me as a supporter of Al-Qaida – placed me and my wife and children in physical danger. My children came across Weissman’s comments once when surfing the web. Imagine if there had another major Al-Qaida operation against the UK like 7/7. What if people were killed – and then people in my neighbourhood, or pupils at my children’s school, surfing the web, came across Weissman’s falsehood that I supported Al-Qaida. In the fear and outrage following such an incident, my family could have become the targets of revengeful violence.

I’d like to take a step back.

This is the paragraph which I believe Dr McRoy is referring to:

Meet Dr Anthony McRoy, lecturer at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology. Seismic Shock has already criticised McRoy for his praise of Hezbollah, and now examines his apparent admiration for Al Qaida, and terrorist leaders Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The rest of the article consists of a number of sourced quotes from articles written by Dr McRoy which I found disturbing and deplorable. In particular, I found this article from the Muslim Weekly on the “legacy” of Al Qaeda’s Abu Musab Al Zarqawi deeply problematic. In the piece, Dr McRoy compares the ‘martyr’ to Che Guevara, and concludes:

“The next time ‘martyrs’ attack London, or even New York, the people to blame will not only be the mujahideen themselves, nor even just Al-Qaida, but the Neo-Cons and their British lackeys whose deceit and aggression in Iraq allowed Al-Qaida to regroup, win new members and supporters, and gain immediate experience of fighting US security forces in order to both recruit and train the next wave of would-be martyrs to penetrate America and carry-out the next 9/11 or 7/7. Indeed, 10/11 and 8/7 when they happen may well be the greatest legacy of Zarqawi.”

I did not say that Dr McRoy supported Al Qaida. My impression was that he “apparently admired” Zarqawi’s cleverness, compared him to an iconic Left wing revolutionary, and concluded with a condemnation of the “lackeys” who were fighting against him. I strongly disagreed with the argument and tone of that controversial piece, and said so, just as hundreds of commenters do on the Guardian website, every day.

Dr McRoy also criticises my take on his paper given at a messianic Khomeinist conference in Iran, entitled “The solace of the savior and Hezbollah’s victory: belief in the Mahdi and Jesus as an encouragement to resistance”. That conference “enjoys the enthusiastic backing of President Ahmadinejad. He was the introductory speaker”.

Dr McRoy now says:

At the conference I attended, all the Muslims were excited about the outcome of the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict that year. Since the subject of the conference is Mahdism and Messianic expectation, I thought it appropriate to examine the role of Mahdist expectation in the history of Hezbollah, and compare and contrast it with Messianic expectation in Christianity. The linking theme was Justice, since Muslim expectations of the Mahdi are that he will ‘fill the world with justice and equity’. Naturally, after offering an academic description (not endorsement) of this in Shi’ism and more expressly in the Iranian Revolution and Hezbollah, I looked at the Christian approach to Justice – and the means to achieve it – obviously, one that was non-violent.

Frankly, I would have thought it ridiculous that anyone would assume that I somehow believed in Islamic eschatology, especially as it influenced Khomeinist ideas.

I do not think that this was a ridiculous assumption at all.

There were a number of passages in that paper that worried me. You can read them here. In summary, it seemed to me that Dr McRoy was drawing a provocative – and contentious – parallel between Jesus’s suffering at the hands of Roman and Jewish authorities, the martyrdom of Hussein, and the Hezbollah’s inspiration by the Mahdi to fight Israel:

Just as the Mahdi will avenge the blood of Hussein with the blood of Oppressors, so the Lebanese avenged the blood of their sons and daughters with the blood of Israeli soldiers.

[…]

Hezbollah also used one of its own special types of resistance against the Zionist enemy that is the suicide attacks. These attacks dealt great losses to the enemy on all thinkable levels such as militarily and mentally. The attacks also raised the moral [i.e. morale] across the whole Islamic nation.

[…]

Thus, we can truly say that Hezbollah’s victory over the Israeli bombardment in 2006 was the Triumphant Jihad of the Mahdi. The fact of the Mahdi’s inspiration of Hezbollah’s jihad was hidden from the eyes of the Israelis.

[…]

[L]ike Hussein, Jesus was cruelly murdered by His religious opponents, suffering scourging (Mark 15:15) and Crucifixion at the hands of the pagan Romans (Mark 15:24), incited by the Jewish priesthood (John 19:6).

It worries me that McRoy thinks that here he is merely expressing a dispassionate academic opinion. He must surely have had some idea of how these ideas would be interpreted by his audience in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I also find it odd that McRoy will criticise the apocalyptic drive of Christian Zionism whilst having nothing but kind words for the similarly apocalyptic drive of Khomeinist Islam.

My final criticism of Dr McRoy is one which, at the time, I thought was fair. I now would like to withdraw it for reasons I explain below.

I think that Dr McRoy, in the past, has tended to tell his audiences what he thinks that they want him to hear. In one post, I compared and contrasted a talk to Cheam Baptist Church with his paper in Iran, and concluded:

Anthony McRoy says different things to different audiences, and thinks that, whilst he should tell other people to preach the Christian message to Muslims, when he himself addresses a Muslim audience, the most important thing to talk about is resistance to Israel.

There is evidence of this approach in the paper in Iran, in theChe/”Lackeys” article about Zarqawi in the Muslim Weekly, and in anotherarticle which originally appeared in the Muslim Weekly, in which he Dr McRoy says of Ahmadinejad:

Those meeting Ahmadinejad commented how intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming he was. Surprisingly, the US delegates seemed especially taken with him. Personally, I tend to be cautious of all politicians whatever their nationality, but I could why he worries America – not because of the nuclear issue, but because he is such a contrasting alternative for people in the region to the corrupt, self-interested pro-US despots that litter the Muslim world. Recent polls in the region show that Ahmadinejad is vastly popular. The Sunni Arab delegates lauded him. Certainly, it was wise of Bush to decline Ahmadinejad’s offer a debate. Those who remember the way George Galloway wiped the floor with Senator Coleman will have an idea of what would happen.

Not a word of criticism of the man: only praise for his talents.

Dr McRoy now says in response:

I remember writing a parallel article for Evangelicals Now (which Mr Weissman saw fit NOT to reproduce) where I elaborated on this, expressing disappointment that Ahmadinejad did not address the Embassy hostage issue. Please note that I did NOT say that I found him ‘intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming’ -rather that was the reaction of others. I then made a descriptive analogy of his ability and manner in answering questions to explain why it would not have been a good idea for Bush to have debated him – but note that I said that Blair could have done so. Acknowledging someone’s debating ability and manner is NOT the same as endorsing his policies.

He makes my point. The article for Evangelicals Now criticises Ahmadinejad, but the one for Muslim Weekly does not.

I now want to explain why I think that my criticism of Dr McRoy is no longer fair. Dr McRoy reveals:

Last year I was interviewed – not so much as a Christian, but as an academic expert – by Iran-based Press TV on the three revolutions in world history – the French, Russian and Iranian. When I addressed the latter, I was asked whether the revolution had been true to its roots. I answered that the Khomenists got what they wanted, but not the leftists, or secular democrats. Moreover, I observed that religious minorities – Jews, Christians Zoroastrians – were all excluded from political office, apart from dedicated seats in the Majlis (Parliament), and that Christian converts from Islam had often either been executed or ‘mysteriously’ disappeared only to turn-up dead. I also referred to the mistreatment of the Bahais.

I then stated that if Iran wanted to improve its relations with the West it would have to redress these issues – and again, I highlighted that people in the West, whatever their religious opinions, or how secular or even atheists they are, will never accept that a person should be killed because he changed his religion. I was recently interviewed by an Iranian state channel on the revolution, where I largely repeated these points, especially the on the killing of converts. Hardly a case of supporting Iranian policy – nor of failing to say to Iranians what I say to Western audiences. I did not compromise my message to one degree. Needless to say, Mr Weissman never referred to this on his website – perhaps he didn’t know. If he had contacted me in the normal way, I could have told him.

That was a very admirable and brave thing for Dr McRoy to have done. I would hope that, in a similar situation, I would have the courage to enter the lion’s den, and to argue against the wicked policies of the Islamic Republic on PressTV. It contrasts impressively with the approach that so upset me in the Muslim Weekly articles, and in the Mahdi conference in Iran. I am not surprised that Dr McRoy now cannot get a visa to enter Iran.

However, I have an open blog. Anybody can read it, and anybody can post on it. Dr McRoy could have posted the story of his courageous performance on PressTV at any time. I would have immediately have published it, and I would have revised my opinion of him.

Instead, he called the police.

Dr McRoy – did you really believe that a short article critiquing your Zarqawi comment piece endangered your family’s safety? You are a man who has now criticized the Islamic Republic of Iran, on its own television channel. Iran sponsors both Hezbollah and Hamas. Surely they present a greater danger than the mere possibility that a classmate of your children might misunderstand my comments on a website?

By contrast with your performance on PressTV, your decision to send the police round to tell me to delete my blog was not a brave response at all.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “A Serious Allegation by Dr Anthony McRoy

  1. Anon

    Forgive the holier-than-thou nature of this comment, but as a Christian, do you really think this negative, aggressive and provocatory way of criticising people is honouring to God?

    (Ignore Sizer, McRoy, everyone else you may disagree with for now. They have to answer for their own behaviour. Is how you have behaved the right way for a Christian to act?)

  2. zkharya

    I’m afraid that, while I find McRoy’s use and abuse of Revelation in his paper on Hizbullah problematical, and, coupled with his double standard towards Jewish and Islamic militant resistance, arguably antisemitic (and Joe did not say that the paper, apparently, was not delivered -which it makes it no less worthy of criticism), it goes too far to say that the passage cited above expresses admiration for Al Qaeda.

    The rest of the article does seem to express a kind of admiration for Al Qaeda as an organization, if not its goals. With which I think there is nothing necessarily wrong. Many western experts have expressed such admiration or respect for Al Qaeda’s highly successful replication around the world. Having a measure of respect for one’s enemy is healthy.

    I think Joe would have been better using ‘respect’ instead of ‘admiration’, and he should have stressed for what the admiration was i.e. organization, not its goals. McRoy is entitled to complain that it can carry a connotation beyond mere respect for means rather than ends.

    I think McRoy can get you for that, Joe. Saying someone ‘admires’ Al Qaeda without qualification, is something which they can say is libellous, or inciteful.

    But the tenor of Joe’s article, which largely consists in quotations, is this:

    ‘“”Effectively, US Government foot-dragging on the Odeh case sends a message to bin Laden; if he is searching for a new safe haven, he need only convert to Judaism and migrate to Kiryat Arba, where the Zionist regime will shield him and any other Jewish terrorist killing American citizens, and the US Government will quietly forget his case.”

    That’s very odd, including the reference to the Israeli government as a ‘Zionist regime’, echoing a kind of Arab Sunni and/or Iranian or Shi’a Islamic nationalist discourse which appears also in his paper on Hizbullah.

    This quote also struck me:

    ‘Attacking Arab churches did not and would not lead to America quitting Iraq; since Western leaders never expressed any concern for the plight of Palestinian Christians, why should they care about Iraqi believers either? All it accomplished was to speed the Christian exodus from Iraq.’

    Note how McRoy makes Israel the number one original cause or case of Arab Christian exodus from the middle east. Isn’t the rise of Islamic extremism or nationalism the number one cause? Isn’t the religio-political sympathy, of which the rise of the MB is a symptom, the cause?

    I’m not enough of an expert to answer that definitively. But McRoy’s evangelical Christian view of the middle east does seem to hold the ‘Zionist regime’ as chief enemy, indeed neo-’crucifier’, a recapitulation of the regime that crucified Jesus, if his paper on Hizbullah is anything to go by.

    To which view he is entitled.

    But, if he uses arguments to get there which, it seems to me, are antisemitic, one is entitled to say so.

  3. Pingback: A Serious Allegation by Dr Anthony McRoy « ModernityBlog

  4. seismicshock

    Fair enough Zak, but I did qualify it with the word ‘apparent’ – it seemed that way to me. Perhaps I could have used a more explicit word than ‘apparent’. Moreover, the piece certainly wasn’t critical of Al Qaida.

  5. Dooley

    Anonymous: are you Stephen Sizer?

  6. Pingback: Stephen Sizer, The Police And The Barbra Streisand Effect « ModernityBlog

  7. Anon

    I am not Stephen Sizer. My question is to Mr Weissman, and comes as a concerned brother.

  8. Aslan

    Concerned brother anon, was Sizer’s defamation of a whole country and hob-nobbing with assorted nasties honouring to God? Was his slippery inclusing in the footnote of his book insinuating that the Israelis did 9/11 honouring to God?

  9. Dooley

    Of course not, well said Aslan

  10. Anon

    You are changing the subject. The question was to Mr Weissman, and it was about his behaviour. Your argument is like those people who try to wriggle out of criticising Hamas by pointing to Israel and saying, they’re much worse! Mr Weissman is not responsible for Mr Sizer’s actions, but he is responsible for his own, and that’s what I was asking him about.

    Mr Weissman, do you really think this blog is honouring to God?

    (Now I agree that it would be fun to have a conversation with Mr Sizer about his behaviour, and to put questions to him.)

  11. Aslan

    Ok, anon, lets see you try ask Sizer he closed comments on his blog!

  12. dona

    To Anon,

    I don’t see your point. When you publish books and give lectures and talks, tv and radio shows, etc etc, you are NOT a PRIVATE individual with a PRIVATE opinion, and therein is the problem.

    Rev. Sizer is a public figure with strong views which he publicly endorses and writes and speaks about. That is his behavior. Mr Weissman’s behaviour is to question and disagree with him and say so in a public manner (this blog) He then goes on to examine why he disagrees and shows why, in quotations and citations. He also questions some of his public associations and the platforms he chooses to speak in (as I do and many many do the same) This is not bad behavior. Many many disagree with Sizer so are you advocating they should all shut up because it is bad behavior as a Christian to do so? I have never read any personal slander of Sizer as a person or any attack on his character, just an examination of his views, his published facts and actions- all spoken and written words and all done in public.

    Accountability and responsibility works both ways especially in the public domain.

  13. dona

    Re above article.

    It does seem strange that he can be all to all peoples, the quotes you referenced, here’s one -“Just as the Mahdi will avenge the blood of Hussein with the blood of Oppressors, so the Lebanese avenged the blood of their sons and daughters with the blood of Israeli soldiers” is appalling. Though he says this is pure academic talking – not self belief – his choice is terrible, he would have been applauded by his Muslim audience. Was that the point? Could he not have shared the something more positive and not reinforced Muslim thinking and theology with a lecture by a evangelical Christian teacher.

    This one – academic talking or not – “Thus, we can truly say that Hezbollah’s victory over the Israeli bombardment in 2006 was the Triumphant Jihad of the Mahdi. The fact of the Mahdi’s inspiration of Hezbollah’s jihad was hidden from the eyes of the Israelis” Is a load of rubbish! The Israelis are that stupid and 2006 was that victorious to whom? Trying the Arabic handle does not a expert make and yet he states it as facto. So all I see is a Dr.McRoy giving a lecture on what Muslims believe unchallenging and boring. You would leave a very happy audience of Muslims in this case but what is the point of doing it? Thus we can TRULY say….. nothing. I would not live in such a bubble even for all the academic credos I could achieve.

    Last. I see Mr Weissman’s point re the life in danger scenario, to me it borders on paranoia or an excuse. Then he goes out on Press TV and is not worried cause he lives in Al-Qaida free UK suddenly? Far easier to get killed crossing the road.

  14. zkharya

    ‘Moreover, the piece certainly wasn’t critical of Al Qaida’

    Which could have been another qualification. But you should have also have explicitly stated that there is no evidence that McRoy’s supports Al Qaeda, judging by what he had written elsewhere (did you check?).

    You have to be very precise about these things, and very careful. McRoy could easily argue you were obfuscating facts to misrepresent, maliciously, his position.

    Knowingly or carelessly telling half the truth is scarcely different from lying. I’m not saying you were, just as a general rule.

    One should try to keep broadly to the same criteria that would be acceptible in academia.

  15. zkharya

    Anon,

    does your cowardly anonymity honour g-d?

    • Anon

      I’m not sure God has a particular view of anonymity on blogs. But I am happy to be corrected. My concern here is to encourage a Christian brother to grow in the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. I think that certainly honours God.

  16. CZ

    McRoy doesn’t get my sympathy here. He knew very well that he was crossing the line in saying one thing to a Muslim audience and another to a Christian one.
    He could indeed have posted on Seismic Shock’s blog to respond fully to criticisms of his writing.

    Getting the police out against a blogger who is defending Israel’s right to exist is sinister. It’s an evasion of the RESPONSIBILITY to utilise free speech. If someone criticises you in print, get over it and respond in print. I am very glad indeed that Index on Censorship, the BBC, Harry’s Place and everyone else covered this story.

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