Thursday, January 05, 2006

More Patriot Act Paranoia

Courtesy of Jihad Watch, comes this truly ridiculous piece of hysterical nonsense from a Ms. Semeen Issa:

AS we headed to the public library to gather some information for my daughter's research paper, my husband clearly and adamantly relayed the message that we should not check out any books, whatsoever on the topic about which she had chosen to write.

My daughter initially looked at him with surprise and rebelliousness, but then a resigned expression appeared. "Oh yeah," she responded, "we're Muslim."

His fear was not unfounded because the topic she had chosen to research for her high school Comparative Religions class was "Jihad; The Conflict within Religion."

Actually, his fear seems utterly unfounded to anyone acquainted with the facts and not infected by left-wing paranoia. There is no evidence whatsoever that anyone has had their library circulation records checked by the FBI as a result of the Patriot Act, or that Section 215 (the so-called "library provision"), has ever been used in a library setting. The one confirmed use of the Patriot Act in a library appears to have involved one computer in one branch library in Connecticut.

The notion that there is a widespread program for monitoring the reading habits of Muslims or anyone else flies in the face of logic, common sense, and the evidence. The idea that checking out books on jihad will earn you a trip to Guantanamo is a laughable but unfortunate byproduct of the hysteria that groups such as ALA have generated over the Patriot Act.

Ms. Issa then goes on to dispute the notion that jihad involves violence of any sort:

The phrase holy war was originally invented by the Christian crusaders, who used it to mean the war against Muslims. The term Jihad in the broad sense actually means "an inner struggle" as in striving to rid oneself of immoral or unethical behavior. Along the same vein, resisting unhealthy habits can also be your jihad, or struggle.

Jihad, in its true from encompasses a much larger, moral implication than what the media has branded it. Along with Jihad, the American media has recently invented a new term. This new term, jihadist, is an American neologism that has a completely different connotation to Muslims than it does to the average American. As a Muslim, I had never heard the term jihadist before the media started exercising its use, and I was not able to translate it into Arabic to have the same negative connotation as it does in English.

Actually, as scholars such as David Cook and Mark Gould have shown, jihad has involved violent struggle against the enemies of Islam since the early days of the religion. This is not the only definition, nor does it mean that the jihadists have not distorted the term for their own ends. However, as Dr. Bassam Tibi has noted, "[i]t is wrong and even deceitful to argue that jihadism has nothing to do with Islam". In short, Ms. Issa is either uninformed or disingenuous when she implies that jihad has no connection with warfare or violence.

In my research through Muslim and non-Muslim sources, I found no mention of the word jihadist, except for one Internet source. According to Wikipedia, an encyclopedia Web site that can be controversial, "Jihadist is sometimes used to describe militant Islamic groups, including but not restricted to Islamic terrorismÖ"

A Google search for the term jihadist returns 704,000 matches.

Therefore, knowing that this term is quite complex to Muslims, it seems unjust that non-Muslims could oversimplify the principle of jihad to further a political agenda, such as the Patriot Act.

Actually, as noted above, it's Ms. Issa who's doing the oversimplifying.

The broad powers outlined in the Patriot Act are frighteningly unconstitutional in that they allow our government to create evidence that might not exist.

If, for example, my 17-year-old daughter checks out books from the library pertaining to jihad and this information is passed on to the FBI, she could be detained for questioning because her name is very obviously Muslim. This fact might also lead the FBI to wonder why she wants to learn more about jihad, which in their minds means "terrorism" and "holy war."

Yes, and then she'll have to go to one of the special camps for people with Muslim names who check out books about Jihad. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this kind of absurd hysteria. It boggles the mind...

In the end, though, Ms. Issa and her family managed to overcome their fear of the Muslim-hating, jihad-misunderstanding FBI thugs who have nothing better to do than search her daughter's library records:

After coming home with about 15 books on the subject of jihad, checked out from our local public library, my husband very worriedly pointed out that we might be receiving a knock on our door from the FBI. We'll let you know if they show up, but they'd better not interrupt the Rose Bowl game between USC and Texas, or they'll hear my adolescent's wrath for showing up at such an inopportune moment.

Somehow, I suspect they were able to watch the game undisturbed.


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