Toronto Islamic web site calls Hurricane Sandy ‘divine slap’ at U.S.

·National Affairs Contributor

A pro-Islamic web site based in Toronto is calling Hurricane Sandy "a divine slap on the face" of U.S. arrogance.

But before your heads explode and you flood the comment section with nasty slurs, let's not forget what some Christian leaders have said in the past about the godly origins of other natural disasters.

An unsigned post on Crescent International, which describes itself as the "newsmagazine of the Islamic movement," was discussing the so-called super storm in terms of its effect on the U.S. election and the economy.

"Even the Wall Street sharks were powerless before God's fury," the posting noted.

"In the meantime, as the storm batters homes and cities, Obama tries to look and act presidential pretending that he is more interested in people's well being than worrying about electioneering. This of course is nonsense. He is trying to act presidential because he thinks it would garner him more sympathy and therefore support."

The article talks about the the importance of battleground states in next week's vote and offers this:

"The real cliffhanger is Ohio where housewives will decide who becomes the next U.S. president.

"While the overwhelming majority of Americans are quite ignorant about issues beyond their concern for jobs, the fact that Ohio housewives will determine who should occupy the White House to decide on such weighty matters as dealing with the Middle East, Iran's nuclear program or U.S. relations with Russia is quite amusing, and revealing.

"This is what American democracy is all about. But for now, Hurricane Sandy, as a divine slap on the face of arrogance, is smashing its way through the Eastern Coast of the US."

[Related: Hurricane Sandy blows U.S. election off course]

Crescent International is a publication of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, which the National Post said often promotes the worldview of Iran's Islamic regime.

Institute director Zafar Bangash, who the Post said is also director of the Islamic Society of York Region, said he did not write the posted item.

"We have a number of bloggers that put on stuff on our web site but that particular writer perhaps felt that it was a slap on the face of the U.S. government and its policies," he told the Post before hanging up on the reporter.

The apparent gloating contrasts with offers of help from elsewhere in the Muslim world, some of it surprising.

The organization Islamic Relief USA said Tuesday it had deployed its disaster assistance response team to help residents of New Jersey affected by Sandy.

Even Islamic terrorist leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the architect of the 2008 Mumbai attacks who has a $10-million U.S. price on his head, said his organization is ready to help Americans cope with Sandy.

"We are ready to send food items, medicines and doctors to the US for the people affected by the storm," Saeed said, according to India's First Post.

He said though the United States had put a bounty on his head, it was the duty of Muslims to help fellow human beings, irrespective of their faith, during a natural catastrophe.

Attributing natural disasters to God's wrath has a long history and it's pretty non-denominational.

"Natural disasters are difficult to understand," Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest whose home is a block from the New York high-rise construction project where a crane teetered near collapse, said in the Huffington Post.

"For even the most devout person who may be faced with a catastrophic loss, it can really shake them."

[ More Daily Brew: Atlantic City mayor wants to go "mano-a-mano" with New Jersey Governor ]

Religious leaders are always faced with the question from adherents whether catastrophes are a punishment from God.

The web site Religious Tolerance notes that throughout history religions have explained earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics as God reacting to some transgression or other.

"It may be impossible to determine what God's motivation is," said a post in the wake of the December 2004 tsunami that killed thousands in southeast Asia.

"One could try to seek the answer from God through prayer. However, one pilot study seems to indicate that one cannot assess the will of God in this manner.

"In the meantime, God could use many techniques for informing the human race of his displeasure: Email, fax, telephone, radio, television, postal service, Internet, etc. But he appears to prefer to keep humanity guessing."

Of course, some think they've got a line on God's intentions.

As Sandy left 11 dead in Cuba, Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of pastor Fred Phelps of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., tweeted that "God sent the whirlwind #ThankGodForRighteous Judgment."

Phelps' followers are best known for picketing the funerals of U.S. veterans to publicize their anti-homosexual views.

"Silly brutes, God IS involved," Phelps-Roper tweeted Tuesday in response to an article posted on Canadian Christianity asking whether Sandy was an "act of God."

Writer Paul Arnold noted another U.S. preacher, John McTernan, had pronounced the disaster a judgment on the world for transgressions such as gay marriage, abortion and insufficient U.S. support for Israel.

And of course, who can forget TV evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blaming the 9/11 terror attacks on American moral degeneracy.

And just two years ago, Robertson blamed the devastating earthquake in Haiti on a centuries-old "pact with the devil" Haitians made to free themselves from French control.

He also blamed Hurricane Katrina on legalized abortion.

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