Liberal talk show host Tawfiq Okasha recently appeared on "Egypt Today," airing a video of Muslims slicing off a young man's head off for the crime of apostasy -- in this instance, the crime of converting to Christianity and refusing to renounce it. The video—be warned, it is immensely graphic—can be seen here (the actual execution appears from minute 1:13-4:00) [Editor's Note: YouTube recently took this video down]. For those who prefer not to view it, a summary follows:
A young man appears held down by masked men. His head is pulled back, with a knife to his throat. He does not struggle and appears resigned to his fate. Speaking in Arabic, the background speaker, or "narrator," chants a number of Muslim prayers and supplications, mostly condemning Christianity, which, because of the Trinity, is referred to as a polytheistic faith: "Let Allah be avenged on the polytheist apostate"; "Allah empower your religion, make it victorious against the polytheists"; "Allah, defeat the infidels at the hands of the Muslims," and "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."
Then, to cries of "Allahu Akbar!"— Allah is greater!"—the masked man holding the knife to the apostate's throat begins to slice away, severing the head completely after approximately one minute of graphic knife-carving, as the victim drowns in blood. Finally, the severed head is held aloft to more Islamic slogans of victory.
Visibly distraught, Tawfiq Okasha, the host, asks: "Is this Islam? Does Islam call for this? How is Islam related to this matter?...These are the images that are disseminated throughout the electronic media in Europe and America…. Can you imagine?" Then, in reference to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, whose political influence has grown tremendously, he asks, "How are such people supposed to govern?"
Only the other day, a prominent Egyptian Salafi leader -- referring to the canonical hadiths, including Muhammad's command, "Whoever leaves his religion, kill him" -- openly stated that no Muslim has the right to apostatize, or leave Islam.
Any number of Islamic legal manuals make explicitly clear that apostasy is a capital crime, punishable by death. The first "righteous caliph," a model of Muslim piety, had tens of thousands of former Muslims slaughtered—including by burning, beheading, and crucifixion—simply because they tried to break away from Islam. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the most authoritative reference work on Islam in the English language, "there is unanimity that the male apostate must be put to death."
Finally, a word on the "prayers" or supplications to Allah made by the Muslim executioners in the video: these are standard and formulaic. In other words, these are not just masked, anonymous butchers who pray to Allah as they engage in acts of cutting throats and holding up heads, these are top-ranking Muslim leaders, who appear regularly on TV, who invoke such hate-filled prayers. See here for examples of Muslims supplicating Allah to strike infidels with cancer and disease "till they pray for death and do not receive it;" there are even formalized prayers in Mecca, blasted on megaphones as Muslims honor their obligation to go on a pilgrimage at least once in their lives, supplicating Allah to make the lives of Christians and Jews "hostage to misery; drape them with endless despair, unrelenting pain and unremitting ailment; fill their lives with sorrow and pain and end their lives in humiliation and oppression."
"Is this Islam?" You decide.
Raymond Ibrahim is an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.