The granddaughter of a mullah weighed in on the Franklin Graham controversy this week, contending that there is a difference between criticizing Islam and Muslims.
Graham and others like him who criticize Islam are not saying they hate Muslims, said Sabatina James, a well-known Paskistani convert to Christianity who lives in Europe, in an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
"Make the difference between sin and sinner," said James, "between Islam and Muslims. Don't say that every Muslim is a terrorist and every Muslim is bad because that is just not true. But there are definitely things that need to be changed in Islam or else you can't live in a democracy."
James, who is living under police protection and constantly on the move because of death threats against her, said Islamic rights do not fit in a country like the United States.
"Nobody is allowed to beat up his wife just because she's not obedient but that is written in the Quran," she said. "You know you have to think about it."
"Is there a different Quran? No they are teaching the same Quran where it is written 'beat your wife if she is not obedient.' They are teaching the same Quran where it is written 'the Christians and Jewish people are evil.' It is written in the Surah Al-Maidah. It is written there 'don't take Jewish and Christian people as your friend.' That is what you are taught in the Quran schools."
James' paternal grandfather was a mullah in Pakistan and she was brought up to read the Quran in Arabic every day and pray five times a day. She pointed to the fourth Surah (chapter), verse 34 in the Quran that said if your wife is not obedient then you are allowed to beat her.
The former devout Muslim, who even prayed as a child for the courage to die for Allah one day, said if someone like Franklin Graham reads or hears these passages she "can't imagine him not getting upset by that."
"We are living in a democracy and everybody can say his opinion," James stated.
Franklin Graham was disinvited by the army last week from an upcoming Pentagon prayer event over past criticisms he made about Islam. The army said the comments were inappropriate and went against the army's message of tolerance.
Also, on Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group widely accused of having ties to terrorists, urged congressional sponsors of the National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill to rescind their invitation to Graham as a featured speaker at the May 6 gathering. CAIR denounced Graham as an "anti-Islam preacher" who sends a message of "religious intolerance."
"Franklin Graham has the right to be an Islamophobe, but he does not have the right to a taxpayer-funded public platform," said Corey Saylor, CAIR national legislative director, in a statement.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Graham called Islam a "very evil and wicked religion." Then in an interview with CNN's Campbell Brown in December 2009 he said:
"True Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries."
Graham has not retracted his earlier remarks but said he has Muslim friends and loves the people of Islam. The humanitarian group he heads, Samaritan's Purse, works in several predominantly Muslim countries.
"It's (Muslim world) a part of the world I love very much," Graham said, according to CNN. "And I understand it. But I certainly disagree with their teaching."
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), who has sponsored the Congressional National Day of Prayer event at the Capitol for the past four years, defended Graham's attendance at next week's prayer event.
"Franklin Graham and his father have been spiritual leaders in our nation for many years. They are great men of faith and Franklin is an appropriate speaker for a National Day of Prayer observance in Washington," said Aderholt, in a statement Wednesday. "President Obama, Franklin & Billy Graham prayed for each other on Sunday in North Carolina and I'm honored that Franklin will come to Congress to speak and pray for the legislative branch of government on May 6th."