Monday, April 23, 2007

Defamation and Death Threats

A Muslim cleric has called for the death of author, former Muslim, and outspoken critic of Islam Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Sadly, this is neither new nor surprising. After all, Ms. Ali's collaborator, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, was murdered in November 2004 by an Islamist fanatic. A note was pinned to Van Gogh's body threatening Ms. Ali's life.

So where did this latest death threat come from? Tehran? Islamabad? Riyadh? Cairo? Sorry, none of the above. What makes this story more disturbing than usual is that this call for Ms. Ali's death comes from that noted jihadist hotbed, Johnstown, PA. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the details:

Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali's appearance.

"She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death," said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.

Hirsi Ali, an atheist, has been critical of many Muslim beliefs, particularly on subjects of sexual morality, the treatment of women and female genital mutilation. In her essay "The Caged Virgin," she also wrote of punishment, noting that "a Muslim's relationship with God is one of fear."

"Our God demands total submission. He rewards you if you follow His rules meticulously. He punishes you cruelly if you break His rules, both on earth, with illness and natural disasters, and in the hereafter, with hellfire," she wrote.

In some Muslim countries, such as Iran, apostasy -- abandoning one's religious belief -- and blasphemy are considered punishable by death under sharia, a system of laws and customs that treats both public and private life as governable by God's law.

(Emphasis added-DD)

To be fair, Imam ElBayly doesn't think Ms. Ali should actually be killed on American soil:

Although ElBayly believes a death sentence is warranted for Hirsi Ali, he stressed that America is not the jurisdiction where such a crime should be punished. Instead, Hirsi Ali should be judged in a Muslim country after being given a trial, he added.

"If it is found that a person is mentally unstable, or a child or disabled, there should be no punishment," he said. "It's a very merciful religion if you try to understand it."

Okay, thanks for clearing that one up.

(Emphasis added-DD)

One of the reasons Ms. Ali moved to America last year from the Netherlands was so she could live without being under constant armed guard. Unfortunately, according to a report published last month, she's already had to adopt a comparable level of security as she had in Holland. I think it's now abundantly clear why this is necessary.

Again, this was not some anonymous threat made via phone or e-mail. This was a Muslim cleric living in the United States stating for the record that Ms. Ali deserves to be murdered for her views. Islamist threats and violence against reformers and freethinkers are not something that can only be found in places like Iran or Pakistan. They are occurring even here in America.

(Link via Jihad Watch)


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