World

Reza Aslan misrepresents his status as scholar of ‘religions’; downplays his ties to extreme Islamists

Aslan is also a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, writing for the Washington Post in 2012, “The Muslim Brotherhood will have a significant role to play in post-Mubarak Egypt. And that is a good thing.” Aslan also praised the election of Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist leader of Egypt who was recently ousted by a military coup with wide popular support.

This easy tone goes back at least to a 2007 appearance in which Aslan categorically stated that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was not a jihadist organization.

In a February tweet, Aslan guessed that the relationship between Morsi and extremist Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would “help their countries” — an assertion that raises serious questions about his reputation as a moderate, in addition to having been proven spectacularly wrong in the ensuing five months.

Aslan’s claim would also come as a surprise to Morsi himself, who in a 2012 speech exhorted the chant “Jihad is our path, and death for Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”

Aslan also claimed that Osama bin Laden was not inspired by Islam to attack the United States. “His justifications are not religious,” Aslan stated in a 2007 debate with atheist writer Sam Harris. “He states very clearly it’s because of Palestine, it’s because of troops in Saudi Arabia, it’s because of now what’s going on in Iraq.” He repeatedly told Harris that there were no theological grievances.

That, too, is false. Bin Laden had repeatedly invoked the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad to justify his attacks. “I’m fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans,” he told al-Quds al-Arabi the day after the Islamist terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Reza Aslan with Mohammad Khatami. Facebook

Aslan does not limit his kind words to Sunni extremists, however. His comments on Iran rarely if ever depart from the official line of that country’s mullahs.

Aslan, whose last name is actually Aslanpour, did not return a phone call request for comment.

Since Aslan’s Fox News interview he has become a cause célèbre for BuzzFeed, The New York Times, Huffington Post, and many others. His book has also skyrocketed on Amazon’s bestseller lists.

The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple has demanded that Fox apologize to Aslan.

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