Free Speech vs. Islamic Law?

  • The law regarding freedom of speech and of religion, as it exists in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, is already compelled to protect all citizens and to extend that protection to non-citizens who come to American shores.
  • Are Muslims in need of greater protection? According to the FBI’s 2014 Hate Crime Statistics, there were 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes in the U.S. that year: Of those, 56.8% were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Jewish bias. 16.1% were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Muslim bias.
  • “We cannot agree that prohibiting speech is the way to promote tolerance, and because we continue to see the ‘defamation of religions’ concept used to justify censorship, criminalization, and in some cases violent assaults and deaths of political, racial, and religious minorities around the world.” — U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe.
  • Again and again, Muslim individuals and organizations have released documents to define Islamic human rights, and in each instance, all rights are restricted to those given by God and are subject to the phrase “according to the Shari’a.”

House Resolution 569 was introduced to the U.S. Congress on December 17, 2015 and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. The resolution is headed: “Condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States.” The problem is that the law regarding freedom of speech and of religion, as it exists in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, is already compelled to protect all citizens and to extend that protection to non-citizens, be they businessmen or tourists who come to American shores: “Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” No democracy should believe otherwise.

The House of Representatives’ Resolution 569 introduces the following Whereas clauses:

(1) expresses its condolences for the victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes;
(2) steadfastly confirms its dedication to the rights and dignity of all its citizens of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures;
(3) denounces in the strongest terms the increase of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes targeted against mosques, Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim;
(4) recognizes that the United States Muslim community has made countless positive contributions to United States society;
(5) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all United States citizens, including Muslims in the United States, should be protected and preserved;
(6) urges local and Federal law enforcement authorities to work to prevent hate crimes; and to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those perpetrators of hate crimes; and
(7) reaffirms the inalienable right of every citizen to live without fear and intimidation, and to practice their freedom of faith.

The resolution seems above criticism — every clause in it could seemingly have the wholesale approval approbation of anyone — yet something feels incredibly wrong. That something is the question of why the U.S. House of Representatives has issued such a resolution for Muslims and Muslims only. They and everyone else — Christians, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, and Scientologists, right through to the adherents of satanic cults — are already granted the full protection of the law so long as they do not break it.

Are Muslims, then, in need of greater protection than everyone else? Are they more subject to assaults, hate speech, arson attacks than any other religious community? If they were, this resolution might be welcome, even though it would not add a single article to existing legal protections. However, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports: 2014 Hate Crime Statistics, of the 1,140 victims of anti-religious hate crimes that year in the U.S.:

  • 56 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.
  • 16.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Muslim bias.
  • 6.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ bias against groups of individuals of varying religions (anti-multiple religions, group).
  • 6.1 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Catholic bias.
  • 2.5 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Protestant bias.
  • 1.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ anti-Atheist/Agnostic bias.
  • 11.0 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders’ bias against other religions (anti-other religion).

On that basis, we might expect there to have been quite a few House Resolutions concerning Jews. All I have been able to find are: H.Res.293 “Expressing concern over anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement within the Palestinian Authority” and H.Res.354 – “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the safety and security of Jewish communities in Europe.”

Again, both Senate and Congress have issued resolutions to condemn the persecution of the Baha’i religious minority in Iran.[1] But as the Baha’is are not persecuted in the U.S., one might not expect a resolution concerning their protection under U.S. law. These might be worthy resolutions, but have no relevance for the United States as such.

Surely, then, there should be laws protecting Jews! However, neither H.Res. 293 nor H.Res. 354 addresses that issue in distinction to H.Res. 569, which specifically concerns Muslims “in the United States.” The disparity between anti-Jewish hate crimes and the much smaller incidence of anti-Muslim crimes stands in stark contrast to the indifference of Congress towards Jews in an age of rapidly rising anti-Semitism and what appears excessive (though decent) concern for Muslims.

In reality, of course, there is no need for extra legislation to protect Jews. They are already protected by existing laws, as are all other religious communities, as noted above.

Why, then, did not a single member of Congress get up on the floor to point out this manifest discrepancy? Surely it must be obvious that, should the resolution pass into law, Muslims will be the only group (religiously, politically, ethnically, or what you will) in the United States to be ring-fenced from anything that might offend them.

We know that Muslims and Muslim authorities are not robust in taking criticism or satire, but are, rather, seemingly hypersensitive to almost anything non-Muslims say of them.

The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 seems to have influenced Congress. Do not forget that the OIC is the only international religious body to have campaigned ceaselessly for legislation to protect believers of Islam from physical and verbal abuse, with verbal abuse determined according to shari’a principles rather than the traits of international or national democratic values.

In Great Britain, a landmark judgement was passed on January 5, 2016, in a court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when a judge ruled that evangelical pastor James McConnell was not guilty of hate speech directed at Muslims. McConnell had been arrested last May after remarks during a sermon about Islam at his church. In his sermon, he had spoken of Islam as “satanic,” “heathen” and “a doctrine spawned in hell.” These may be sentiments with which most of the world would not agree, but entirely within the bounds of evangelical Christian theology, not least in that frequently bigoted region of fundamentalist, belief, where even the majority of fellow Christians are despatched to hellfire, with Catholics at the bottom of the heap. It is also not that different from what many Muslim clerics say about Jews and others.

As his sermon had been posted online, McConnell was charged under the Communications Act 2003 of making improper use of a public electronics communications network and of causing a grossly offensive message through those channels. But even though the judge found his remarks offensive, he was exonerated and walked out of a court a free man.

In Europe, criticisms of Islam have been met with a range of penalties. Individuals have been prosecuted and sometimes been found guilty of “Islamophobic” speech or writing — notablyElizabeth Sabatisch-Wolff and Susanne Winter in Austria, Geert Wilders and Gregorious Nekschot in the Netherlands, Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe in Denmark, Michel Houellebecq and Brigitte Bardot in France, Oriana Fallaci in Italy, and others elsewhere. Some have been exonerated, others jailed or fined. Pastor McConnell has been fortunate in avoiding jail. So far the UK has been tolerant, but further trials — very often for what really amounts to nothing more than blasphemy as perceived by Muslim groups or individuals — are very likely. Today, more than ever, there are forces at work that seek to make these prosecutions a certainty, not just in Europe, but in the United States, Canada, and other countries in the West.

The threat to freedom of speech a comes mainly from one quarter: an international body known as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In recent years, one of the core activities of the OIC has been repeated attempts to introduce via the United Nations Human Rights Council a law forbidding any form of blasphemy, criticism, or negative comment, especially about the Islamic religion. To understand this, it is important to note that, from the time of the prophet Muhammad to the present day (and more strongly within modern radical Muslim movements), the Islamic religion has been predicated on a call for domination over all other religions and political systems. Here, for example, are some explicit expressions of that demand in radical websites: a YouTube video and a website linked to the British extremist, Omar Bakri Muhammad.

In the video, Omar Bakri declares “We must live by and make a domination and die (?) on in ourda’wa (missionary work) and jihad in order to spread it [Islam] all over. The video page is entitled “Proclaim openly for Izharudeen”, meaning “proclaim openly for making the faith victorious over all others,” and displays a photograph of several Muslims carrying placards declaring “Islam will dominate the world: Freedom go to hell. A website publishing extracts from the classical Qur’an commentary of Ibn Kathir is headed with the words: “Islam is the Religion that will dominate over all Other Religions” and below that cites a Qur’anic verse declaring that God will “make it [Islam] victorious over all religions” before quoting several traditions declaring the same thing in various formulations. Finally, a Facebook page titled “In sha Allah, Islam will dominate the world” from which several more sites with the same statement are revealed below the main heading.

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Denis MacEoin is a scholar of Islam and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

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State Dept. Official to Attend OIC Meeting Today on Banning ‘Defamation of Islam’ UPDATE: OIC scrubs website, screenshot added, cover-up begins

PJMedia: by Patrick Poole

UPDATE: Well, that didn’t last long. Earlier this morning before I posted this item the OIC press release noted that US Consul General in Jeddah Anne Casper would be attending the OIC’s meeting:

The Session will be attended by Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General. It will be chaired by Ambassador Ahmad Taib , Director General of the Branch of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, Makkah Al-Mukarrammah region. It will also be attended by Sergey Kuznetsov, Consul General of the Russian Federation and Anne Casper, US Consul General in Jeddah.

But within the past few hours that mention has been scrubbed. The press release I linked to earlier now reads:

The Session will be attended by Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General and members of the Jeddah diplomatic community and other invited guests.

No more mention of Anne Casper attending today’s OIC session on banning ‘defamation of Islam’. Let the cover-up begin!

Here’s a screenshot of the earlier version noting Casper’s attendance at today’s meeting (click to enlarge):

ORIGINAL POST: After the disaster of trying to blame an obscure YouTube video for the attack on the CIA operation in Benghazi and Obama’s prophecy at the UN that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” Hillary Clinton’s State Department appears to be taking another run at the First Amendment free speech rights of American citizens.

A notice was posted yesterday on the website of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) about a symposium to be held today at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on “Defamation Acts Against Islam.” And one top U.S. State Department official will be in attendance:

The headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation will host a symposium on “Defamation Acts against Islam: conflict dimensions and perspectives of co-existence between Islam and the West” on Monday 19/11/2012.

The Session will be attended by Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General. It will be chaired by Ambassador Ahmad Taib , Director General of the Branch of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, Makkah Al-Mukarrammah region. It will also be attended by Sergey Kuznetsov, Consul General of the Russian Federation and Anne Casper, US Consul General in Jeddah.

The OIC has made no secret of its intentions to use the UN and international law to criminalize what they consider to be “defamation of Islam.” For example, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu gave a speech last Friday on “An OIC Approach for Combating Discrimination and Intolerance against Muslims,” in which he gave a road map of how they plan to do it:

OIC’s position has all along been entrenched in international legal instruments and we need to build on this tradition. We must emphasize that there is no hierarchy of human rights whereby a single right can trump others. Freedom of opinion and expression is among the fundamental rights.It does not include a licence to hate mongering. Freedom of expression does not mean the right to vilify. Our position must also be rooted in history and culture. Having indicated our seriousness at building consensus, we must seek to be reciprocated in the same spirit. We need to seek multi-stakeholder support for an international discourse seeking an intercultural solution – A solution that acknowledges that denigration of symbols and personalities sacred in Islam must be viewed as a matter of identity. It inflicts the psyche of Muslim all over the world. It is in that context that we seek an end to the systematic pattern and increasing frequency of events that contribute towards stereotyping, stigmatization and alienation of Muslims. Such events constitute an affront to human dignity violating the whole range of human rights of victims.

Coinciding with that “brainstorming” session during the OIC’s annual meeting of foreign ministers, the OIC released its Fifth Annual Report on Islamophobia, which is primarily directed at acts of free speech committed in the United States.

Hillary Clinton’s complicity with the OIC towards these ends is no surprise either, since she met twice with the OIC last year as part of the “Istanbul Process,” including her vow to use “old fashioned techniques of peer-pressure and shaming” to target “Islamophobia.”

Those meetings played out last December when the State Department backed the OIC-drafted UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. Check out the membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

No word on when Hillary Clinton intends to press the OIC about the pandemic racism and “kafirphobia” of the Muslim world.

Patrick Poole is a national security and terrorism correspondent for PJMedia. Follow me on Twitter.

Obama’s shariah czar Mohamed Magid hands diversity award to Jew-hater Dawud Walid

By Patrick Poole

Mohamed Magid is the Obama administration’s go-to guy for Muslim outreach and advise on international affairs and counterterrorism. He is a regular visitor to the White House (even when the administration wants to conceal it), attends important administration speeches on the US Middle East policy at the State Department, he counsels the Department of Justice to criminalize defamation of Islam, he entertains the deputy national security adviser at his DC-area mosque, and he serves on the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. He also advises the FBI and many other federal agencies.

He has also been profiled by Time Magazine and the Huffington Post has even dubbed him “America’s Imam“. His ubiquitous presence across the Obama administration undoubtedly makes him the most influential and sought after Muslim authority in the country.

Imam Magid also serves as the president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In that capacity last weekend he presided over ISNA’s “Diversity Forum” held in Dearborn (where Muslim residents were recently video recorded stoning Christian protestors).

One of the speakers at the ISNA Diversity Forum was CAIR-Michigan executive director Dawud Walid. Imam Magid even gave a “diversity award” to Walid, as seen in the photo below:

(Picture by Khadija of America)

Walid, too, is popular with the Obama administration, taking two taxpayer financed trips overseas on behalf of the State Department.

But just a little over a month ago Dawud Walid gave a sermon at the Islamic Organization of America (IONA) mosque in Warren, Michigan.

As noted by an Investigative Project report issued just days after Walid’s appearance, during the sermon he asked, “Who are those who incurred the wrath of Allah?” Answering his own question in Arabic, he replied, “They are the Jews, they are the Jews.”

Read more at PJ Tatler