Is America’s Largest Mosque Against Violence (or Free Speech)?


Hassan Al-Qazwini

Hassan Al-Qazwini (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Well it is good to hear the largest mosque in America speaking out against the violence Muslims are perpetrating around the globe. Al Qazwini, imam at the Dearborn mosque, has even stated that Muslims cannot tolerate killing. Yet, even with this ostensible condemnation of Muslim violence, Al Qazwini offers three very troubling remarks for those who care about freedom.

First, this imam’s definition of “inciting to violence” displays vision that’s about as clear as, say, Mr. Magoo’s.  After a quick condemnation of the violence in the Middle East, the imam pontificates about the urgent need for stringent action to stop those inciting violence. What the imam means is that there needs to be stronger action against people who make movies that criticize or insult Muhammad.  In other words, there must be stronger action to shut down free speech if it happens to be speech against Islam.

This imam has a fuzzy definition indeed.  Whatever one wishes to say about the putrid nature of the film trailer, he must admit that it did not call anyone to violence against the U.S. embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and elsewhere. I don’t think it even called for violence against Islam.  Since when did making fun of a religious leader equal inciting to violence? If that were the case, the Monty Python group would have been drawn and quartered years ago.

Second, the only call to action we get from Imam Al Qazwini is a call to shut the movie-makers down.  Indeed, he offers two reasons these movie-makers ought to be silenced. The first reason to silence them is for the supposed safety of American diplomats abroad (like Chris Stevens, the ambassador killed in Libya).  This is an odd concern.  From whom do these ambassadors need protection, the movie-makers? No.  They need protection from violent Muslims. Muslims—not movies—are the problem that must be addressed.

The second reason Al Qazwini gives for silencing the movie-makers is that they “have blood on their hands.”  This charge is unconscionable to me.  It asserts that the people who made a movie mocking Islam are guilty of murdering the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Nonsense. More and more, the evidence is making plain that the attacks in the Middle East were not spontaneous and had little, if anything, to do with the movie. Even if the movie were involved, the movie is not an act of war like the attacks on a U.S. Embassy are acts of war. The violence here is 100% on the side of the Muslims and must be completely condemned as such, with no admixture of excuse.  When Imam Al Qazwini calls for action against movie-makers and says something must be done against them, he is showing his real concern is not Muslim murderers but movie makers. Actions speak more loudly than words.

Rally at Dearborn Mosque against violence and movie

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Finally, the equivocation is unmistakable in this article. And it is reprehensible.  Anytime in the article that there is a hint of condemnation related to the murders committed in the Middle East, there is at least equal condemnation against those who made the Innocence of Muslims movie.  This is insanity.  The end of the article offers a plea to rally at the mosque against violence, a rally “to condemn the attacks on U.S. embassies and an anti-Islam video that angered protesters.”  The rally would have been much more helpful without the “and.”

If Islam is a religion of peace, then Muslim leaders must condemn violence outright, without hesitation and without any hint of excuse. I am not making these remarks out of so-called “Islamaphobia” or hate; I am offering an honest critique which explains (reasonably) why many people struggle to believe Islam is a religion of peace.  And, even more importantly, I am offering glimpses into the future (or lack thereof) of free speech for Americans—especially for Christian Americans, who cannot afford to be silent. Your comments and questions are always welcomed.

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