U.S. Muslim calls for restrictions on free speech at event hosted by Obama appointee

Qasim Rashid

Qasim Rashid

By Robert Spencer:

Qasim Rashid, an extraordinarily arrogant man who is deeply contemptuous of any opponent of the Islamic supremacist agenda, joins his fellow Ahmadi Harris Zafar in calling for restrictions on the freedom of speech. That is a recipe for tyranny, and it bodes ill that an Obama appointee was involved. “Obama’s Religious Freedom Appointee Involved in Muslim Event Calling for Limiting Freedom of Speech,” by Elizabeth Harrington for CNS News, March 26 (thanks to David):

(CNSNews.com) – America’s free-speech model is in desperate need of an update, says an American-Muslim human rights activist who recently spoke at an event linked to an Obama administration appointee.

Dr. Qasim Rashid argued that cyber-bullying laws could be used to limit freedom of expression – such as the burning of Korans — in war time:

“When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in times of peace are a hindrance to this effort,” Rashid said on March 19 at Howard University. “And their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and…no court can regard them as protected by any constitutional right.”

Rashid began his remarks by personally thanking Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in June 2011. Al-Hibri founded Karamah, a group devoted to the rights of Muslim women, and it was this group that invited Rashid to speak.

“I do want to start by thanking Karamah,” Rashid said. “I was fortunate enough to have several constitutional scholars look at this paper and provide feedback. Dr. al-Hibri, of course…”

The topic of the March 19 event at Howard University was titled, “The Limits of Free Speech in a Global Era: Does America’s Free Speech Model Endanger Muslim Americans?”

“Our understanding of free speech today is not some long-held 227- or 235-year understanding,” said Rashid, a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, who presented a paper titled “In Harm’s Way: The Desperate Need to Update America’s Current Free Speech Model.”

Read more at Jihad Watch

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U.S. Pastor Seized in Iran May Face Death Penalty

Pastor Saeed

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today called for the immediate release of Saeed Abedeni, an Iranian-American pastor reportedly awaiting a January 21 trial on trumped-up national security charges that date back to 2000 when he lived in Iran.

According to sources familiar with the case, Mr. Abedini was arrested in Iran in September 2012 for his involvement with the underground house church movement.  Mr. Abedini’s lawyer was unaware of the charges until January 14, when he was informed the trial would be held on Monday, January 21.

Mr. Abedini married an American citizen in 2004 and has lived in the United States since 2005.  He became a U.S. citizen in 2010 and periodically travels back and forth to Iran.

“The national security charges leveled against Mr. Abedini are bogus and are a typical tactic by the Iranian government to masquerade the real reason for the charges: To suppress religious belief and activity of which the Iranian government does not approve,” said USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett.  “USCIRF calls on the Iranian government to release Mr. Abedini immediately and unconditionally.”

Mr. Abedeni’s trial reportedly is scheduled to be heard by Judge Abbas Pir-Abbassi of Branch 26 of Iran’s Revolutionary Court.  “Judge Pir-Abbassi is notorious for conducting swift trials and imposing lengthy prison terms, as well as the death penalty, without any semblance of due process,” said Lantos Swett.

An Iranian news outlet reports that Abedeni wrote in a letter to his wife that he has been subjected to torture and threatened with death by hanging. He is being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.

In 2011, under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), USCIRF called on the U.S. government to impose travel bans and asset freezes on three “hanging judges” — Judge Pir-Abbassi, Judge Salavati and Judge Moghiseh — for committing serious human rights abuses against Iranian citizens, including religious minorities.  In April 2011, the European Union imposed sanctions for human rights violations on all three judges.  The U.S. government has not as yet followed suit.

Read more at Radical Islam

via US Commission Demands Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Immediate Release Days  Before Trial:

The ACLJ further reminded concerned citizens that although  President Barack Obama and the rest of the U.S. marked National Religious  Freedom Day on Jan. 16, pastors like Abedini and many other people of faith  remain imprisoned based on dubious charges, and the State Department needs to  step up and do everything possible to help them in their plight.

“Today, we also remember that religious liberty is not just an American  right; it is a universal human right to be protected here at home and across the  globe. This freedom is an essential part of human dignity, and without it our  world cannot know lasting peace,” Obama  wrote in a statement on Jan. 16.

The ACLJ says that over 100,000 people have signed a petition to the U.S. Congress calling for  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to personally speak up for Pastor Abedini’s  release.

White House Has No Statement on Trial of American Citizen in Iran

Go to ACLG to sign the petition to free Pastor Saeed

The Obama Administration’s War on Persecuted Christians

By Raymond Ibrahim:

The Obama administration’s support for its Islamist allies means lack of U.S. support for their enemies, or, more properly, victims—the Christian and other non-Muslim minorities of the Muslim world.  Consider the many recent proofs:

According to Pete Winn of CNS:

The U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.  The new human rights reports—purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered—are also the human rights reports that include the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.  Thus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.  For the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011… (emphasis added).

The CNS report goes on to quote several U.S. officials questioning the motives of the Obama administration.  Former U.S. diplomat Thomas Farr said that he has “observed during the three-and-a-half years of the Obama administration that the issue of religious freedom has been distinctly downplayed.”  Leonard Leo, former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said “to have pulled religious freedom out of it [the report] means that fewer people will obtain information,” so that “you don’t have the whole picture.”

Of course, censoring information is a regular theme under Obama: if the administration is suppressing knowledge concerning the sufferings of religious minorities under Islam, earlier it suppressed knowledge concerning Islam itself (see here for a surreal example of the effects of such censorship).

In “Obama Overlooks Christian Persecution,” James Walsh gives more examples of State Department indifference “regarding the New Years’ murders of Coptic Christians in Egypt and the ravaging of a cathedral,” including how the State Department “refused to list Egypt as ‘a country of particular concern,’ even as Christians and others were being murdered, churches destroyed, and girls kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. ”

And the evidence keeps mounting.  Legislation to create a special envoy for religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia—legislation that, in the words of the Washington Post“passed the House by a huge margin,” has been stalled by Sen. James Webb (D-Va):

In a letter sent to Webb Wednesday night, Rep. Frank Wolf [R-Va, who introduced the envoy bill] said he “cannot understand why” the hold had been placed on a bill that might help Coptic Christians and other groups “who face daily persecution, hardship, violence, instability and even death.”

Yet the ultimate source of opposition is the State Department.  The Post continues:

Webb spokesman Will Jenkins explained the hold by saying that “after considering the legislation, Senator Webb asked the State Department for its analysis.”  In a position paper issued in response, State Department officials said “we oppose the bill as it infringes on the Secretary’s [Hillary Clinton’s] flexibility to make appropriate staffing decisions,” and suggested the duties of Wolf’s proposed envoy would overlap with several existing positions.  “The new special envoy position is unnecessary, duplicative, and likely counterproductive,” the State Department said (emphasis added).

But as Wolf explained in his letter: “If I believed that religious minorities, especially in these strategic regions, were getting the attention warranted at the State Department, I would cease in pressing for passage of this legislation.  Sadly, that is far from being the case. We must act now….  Time is running out.”

Much of this was discussed during Coptic Solidarity’s third annual conference in Washington D.C. last month, which I participated in, and which featured many politicians and lawmakers—including the U.K.’s Lord Alton, Senator Roy Blunt, Congressman Trent Frank, Congressman Joseph Pitts, and Frank Wolf himself.  As Coptic Solidarity’s summary report puts it, “All policy makers voiced strong support to the Copts…. Some policy makers raised concerns about the current U.S. Administration’s overtures towards religious extremists.”

There was little doubt among the speakers that, while Webb is the front man, Hillary Clinton—who was named often—is ultimately behind the opposition to the bill.  (Videos of all speakers can be accessed here; for information on the envoy bill and how to contact Webb’s office, click here).

Read more at Front Page

Related article:

Bulletin of the Persecution of Christians June 28 – July 30, 2012 (Political Islam)

Silent Night For Christians In Afghanistan And Iraq

IBD Editorials:

 

Religious Freedom: As our nation celebrates Christmas, Christians in the nations we shed blood and treasure for to establish democracy face extinction. For Christians in Iraq and Afghanistan, it may be the last Christmas ever.

Christianity faces the threat of actual extinction in Iraq and Afghanistan as a consequence of systematic, sustained and sometimes violent persecution, according to the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

According to USCIRF head Leonard Leo in an interview with CNSNews.com, the Iraqi government has not taken adequate steps to protect Christians or prosecute those who attack them. The precipitate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the return of sectarian violence may leave Iraqi Christians in the cross hairs of Iraqi extremists.

“I’m very, very concerned about what will happen after our presence is completely gone,” Leo said, “and I don’t know how we continue to put pressure on the Iraqi government and on the security forces and others in Iraq to protect the Christians in the absence of any presence.”

Persecution of and violence against Christians in Iraq has caused a modern-day exodus. “Half or more of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian community is believed to have left the country, with Christian leaders warning that the consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq,” USCIRF said in its annual report.

“In 2003, there were thought to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), Protestants and Evangelicals in Iraq. Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 50,000.”

For Christians in Iraq, Christmas 2011 was indeed a silent night as Christmas celebrations were subdued lest they provoke a repeat of an October attack on Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad in which 68 people were murdered, including two priests. The Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida-linked group, took credit for that attack and vowed a campaign of violence against Christians wherever they are.

The Iraqi church bombing was followed by a series of targeted attacks on Christian homes by bombers who clearly knew every Christian address. Christians were also shot to death in Baghdad and Mosul, while 70 Christian students were injured by a roadside bomb attack on a convoy of buses taking them to a university in Mosul.

USCIRF has asked the State Department to officially name Iraq as a “country of particular concern” for the lack of religious freedom there. But the State Department, concerned these days with the rights of gays and lesbians abroad, has declined to do so.
 

The situation in Afghanistan isn’t any better. In Afghanistan, Leo says, a constitution that was drafted with the help of the United States government has effectively given the Afghan government license to deny religious liberty to people who adhere to minority faiths, including Christianity.

“In the past year,” says the USCIRF report, “the small and vulnerable Christian community experienced a spike in government arrests, with Christians being detained and some jailed for the crime of apostasy.”

According to the State Department, the last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010.

That there is in fact an organized effort by Islamofascists to drive Christians and Christianity out of the Middle East, out of the heart of Islam, cannot be denied. Some, however, would like to tap dance around the obvious in the name of political correctness.

It can be seen in the ruins of the Talbiya Coptic Christian Church in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. Twenty-one Christians attending a New Year’s Mass were killed with 97 people, mostly Christians, injured after a car bomb detonated outside.

As we talk about winning hearts and minds, we need to keep Christians who are being persecuted today as in ancient times in our hearts and minds.

 
 

The Professor Who Sharia’ed Bill Clinton

By Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage:

Obama has announced the appointment of Azizah al-Hibri to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Al-Hibri (full name, Azizah Yahia Muhammad Toufiq al-Hibri) is a Muslim professor and the granddaughter of a Sheikh, who claims that the Koran inspired Thomas Jefferson and the Founders and that the Saudi criminal justice system is more moral than the American one because it accepts blood money from murderers.

Appointing a Muslim scholar to a commission on international religious freedom is only justifiable if that scholar recognized that much of the injustice in the world originates from Islamic law. But Al-Hibri has made her career whitewashing Islamic law and even presenting it as superior to American law. While she has been called a reformer, her call in 2001 for a return to the fundamentals echoes Wahhabi rhetoric. Rather than examining the incompatibilities of Islamic law and the modern world, and urging the appropriate adjustments, as genuine reformers have done, Al-Hibri instead builds myths that uphold the Islamist agenda.

According to Al-Hibri, “Islamic fiqh is deeper and better than Western codes of law”. She favorably compares Saudi Arabia’s willingness to accept blood money bribes to excuse a murder, to the “impersonal and powerful” American justice system. Al-Hibri is often billed as a Muslim feminist, but she is equally hypocritical on women’s rights. Rather than conceding that Islamic law discriminates against women, she whitewashes its discriminatory treatment of women, arguing that guardianship is meant to protect “inexperienced women”.

Rather than trying to bring Islam in line with the modern world, Azizah Al-Hibri pushes for the modern world to be brought in line with Islam. Rather than reforming Islam, it is America that she would like to reform to Islamic standards. Placing a woman who believes that American law is inferior to that of the Koran on an American commission to promote international religious freedom perverts the purpose of the commission and promotes religious tyranny instead.

Given a forum to call for reform, Al-Hibri unerringly insists that there is nothing to reform. At the UN, Al-Hibri expressed outrage that the Koran, which “established acceptance of others, now needed to be defended” and insisted that Islam “guaranteed freedom of thought”. Listening to her defend Mohammed’s tyranny as an early form of democracy at the UN is a reminder of the era when Soviet representatives to the UN angrily defended their record on human rights and insisted that there is no freedom outside of Communism.

In Al-Hibri’s distorted history, the wave of genocides and conquests that turned the multicultural Middle-East into a desert of brutality governed by minor variations of Islamic ideology, was actually a wave of enlightenment. The massacres of the region’s Jews and the purge of all other religions from the area never occurred in Al-Habri’s history book. Revisionist history of this kind would be dangerous even if it were not coming from a woman in a position to influence opinion leaders.

The twin approaches of the Islamist narrative may be described as the Caliph Omar​ bridge. When the Muslim armies of the Caliph reached the great Library of Alexandria, he decreed that it should be burned, for if the library’s scrolls held the same ideas as the Koran they were redundant, and if they opposed the Koran, they were heretical.

While some Islamists attack the United States Constitution as a heretical document and Western Civilization as worthless– others more cleverly represent the Constitution as an inferior version of the Koran and Western Civilization as derivative of Islamic civilization. Either way they must burn along with the Library of Alexandria. But the second approach is more seductive. Rather than launching a direct attack, it seeks to construct a bridge that connects Islam and the West. But the structure of the bridge is only a more insidious form of attack.

These bridge builders don’t come bearing a torch, rather an argument that since American law is derived from Islam, it must ‘revert’ to the higher standards of Islamic law. By contrasting the reality of American law with an ideal version of Islamic law that does not exist anywhere in the world, they manage to make the system that protects human rights seem shabby, while the system that represses women and minorities appears noble and righteous. That is the kind of revisionist history that Al-Hibri traffics in, creating a noble Islamic creed contrasted with a flawed American system.

Al-Hibri appears to transmute the rhetoric of Islamism into sweet music to progressive ears, and her associations only reinforce that image. She served on the advisory board of Alamoudi’s American Muslim Council, defended it in print against accusations of extremism and made joint appearances with Alamoudi even after his statements in support of terrorism.

In 1995 she even testified at a congressional hearing against the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act’s ability to cut off funds to terrorist groups, because, “it gives the President the ability to designate, with no effective recourse, certain groups as terrorist”. The America Muslim Council, whose national advisory board Al-Hibri sat on, had reason to fear that portion of the act. Some years later the AMC would be caught encouraging donations to the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation, both charities affiliated with terrorists.

In the early days of 2001, Al-Hibri traveled to the Afghan border and criticized the Western press for “sensationalizing” Taliban atrocities and using them “as an opportunity to attack Islam”. After the attacks of September 11, she cautioned against bombing Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets during Ramadan. And that same year she defended Wahhabism as part of Islam’s “religious diversity” and its “marketplace of ideas”.

Al-Hibri appeared at an ISNA panel two months ago to call on Obama to stand up for Muslims against their American critics. And her insistence that no Muslim country practices true Sharia law appears to echo a familiar Islamist slogan.  When the Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed bringing Sharia to the UK, Al-Hibri gave an approving quote. Last year at the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association, she called for a “a council of scholars” to serve as a central authority on Islam for the United States.

Azizah Al-Hibri’s feminist credentials rest heavily on Karamah, an organization of Muslim women lawyers, primarily funded by her brother Ibrahim El-Hibri and nephew Fuad El-Hibri’s “El-Hibri Charitable Foundation”. The El-Hibri clan are a curious footnote in the War on Terror. Ibrahim El-Hibri had made a fortune doing business with Saudi Arabia. His company dominates the manufacture of the anthrax vaccine and suspicions have been raised by the Wall Street Journalabout leaks from their company into the hands of terrorists. Regardless of all that, there is something ironic in Azizah Al-Hibri’s feminist organization being funded by her brother’s charitable trust with a board of trustees that includes two male members of the family, but not her.

Another donor to Karamah was Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of the famously progressive Saudi royal family. A kingdom well known for promoting feminism and women’s rights, which no doubt in between banning women from driving cars and distributing such feminist tracts as “Women Who Deserve To Go To Hell” funds organizations that empower women. Rather than organizations that put a faux feminist face on the Islamic repression of women.

Yet the oddest moment in Al-Hibri’s career of promoting Islamic law in the United States may have come when before Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, she actually wrote an article discussing how a sitting President of the United States might be tried under Islamic law.

“Had the President been testifying in an Islamic court, he would not have been placed in this terrible predicament in the first instance,” Al-Hibri wrote. As an added bonus, to Bill, she added that under Islamic law, it would be his accusers “would be punished for committing the crime of qathf”. In a further reminder of the Islamic commitment to freedom of speech; “Others who violated his privacy and broadcast his behavior are guilty and, if not repentant, are punishable.” We can only guess if this involved stoning Matt Drudge.

Al-Hibri went on to point out that four witnesses to the crime were lacking. The same law that makes it so easy for gang rapists to accuse their victim of adultery, while leaving her helpless to defend against the charges. Then she wrote, “Coming from a religious background, the President may have understood the religious significance of penetration and hence avoided it.” Clearly Bill Clinton wasn’t just the nation’s first Black president. He was also its first Muslim president.

At no point in this surreal article did Al-Hibri acknowledge that adultery is a crime punishable by death or vicious corporal punishment in much of the Muslim world. Instead she used a congressional investigation into presidential malfeasance to misrepresent Islamic law, which lashes or stones adulterers to death, as a more liberal code.

What can such a woman offer to the cause of international religious freedom? Only Obama and Bill know.