An online petition by Just Foreign Policy, an organization that calls itself "an independent and non-partisan membership organization dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy," urges readers to participate in a campaign to make the New York Times "investigate why dubious and unsubstantiated claims about Islam are appearing in the paper as news analysis."
The group takes issues with an article by James Risen published on April 15 titled, "Seeking Nuclear Insight in Fog of the Ayatollah’s Utterances."
According to Just Foreign Policy, the article's claim that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei can't be trusted to comment on the country's nuclear program is based on the fact that Iran's leaders are Shiites, and "Shiites have a religious doctrine called 'taqiyya,' which allows them to lie."
"For centuries an oppressed minority within Islam, Shiites learned to conceal their sectarian identity to survive, and so there is a precedent for lying to protect the Shiite community," Risen writes in the New York Times.
Middle East commentator Juan Cole argues in his blog Informed Comment that taqiyya "is widely misrepresented by Muslim-haters and does not apply in Khamenei’s case."
Just Foreign Policy writes that Risen's argument is unsubstantiated and "should have been a red flag" for NYT editors.
The taqiyya argument, Juan Cole says, "is just some weird form of Islamophobia, and policy-makers and analysts can safely disregard it."