Are We Asking the Wrong Question About Violent Islam?


In his recent U.N. address, President Barack Obama boldly prophesied that the future would belong to those who do not insult the prophet Muhamad.  I both hope and suspect his is a false prophecy.  The problem with his approach is that it is impossible. Exploring the question of what insults the prophet Mohammed yields answers as varied as Teddy Bears and movie trailers. Consider just a few of the “offenses” to Islam which led to rioting, violence, and killing:

Miss World pageant(2002);

Down with Muslim Terror

Creative Commons

Newsweek (2005);

Cartoons (2006);

A Teddy bear (2007);

Facebook Photo (2012):

Speech from the Pope on how all religions should agree that Murder is wrong (led to worldwide murders);

And, finally, free speech itself offends some Muslims.

Honestly, it would be easier to state the one thing that apparently doesn’t offend violent Muslims: Perfectly enforced Sharia Law in a Muslim state.  Everything else (as noted above) is offensive to violent Islam.  Sadly, violent Islam speaks for the Muslim world. Non-violent Islam is unheard over the noise of terror.  And violent Islam is offended by anything and everything that is not complete submission to Islam.

Playing the shell game of which action will offend Muslim terrorists is about as liberating as deciding which handcuffs you want to wear, which color you want your prison jumpsuit to be, or which weapon you’d like used in your own execution. Such decisions might feel liberating in the moment, but they will never end well.

When it comes to appeasing Muslim violence, accommodations lead only further into fear; accommodations are by nature admissions of defeat.  It’s time to admit that non-Muslims aren’t the problem. America is not the problem. Christians are not the problem.

Are We Losing Our Free Speech? Two Stories Which Make the Point


Earlier in the week, I noted how the largest American mosque is equivocating on free speech. Now, two more stories have erupted which keep the issue on the table of concern for anyone who cares about basic human rights.

First, the U. N. Secretary General (Ban ki-moon) asserted that stringent limits should be placed on free speech. Free speech lost two stories christianSpecifically, he notes 2 general guides which would severely limit (if not eliminate altogether) free speech.

The first limit he thinks should be imposed is positive: Speech should be free as long as it promotes common justice and the common good. While this sounds “positive,” it is actually destructive. Who decides “common justice” and “common good”?  Most likely, it will be the group with the most uncommon political clout. This means there will be no minority dissent possible, as it would go against what is perceived as the common good. That this concern is accurate is reflected in the fact that Ban’s comments were made in response to the satirical movie on Islam. Any criticism of Islam would prove to be not for the “common good” because it might provoke violence.

The other limit Ban seeks is negative: Speech is not protected when it provokes or humiliates another person’s beliefs or values. What Ban is saying in this restriction is, basically, that free speech should no longer exist. It’s difficult to see what speech of any substance could reach this bar. Criticism of sexual beliefs would be deemed humiliating. Criticism of Muhammad or Islam would be humiliating. Ban’s idea of free speech is an offer for us all to accept the government’s great ventriloquist routine in which we just sit in the government’s lap while one voice does all the talking. The U.N. is leaning toward a ban on free speech.

The second story which has outed its discomfort with free speech is much closer to home, from the L.A. Times (ironically enough).  In this story, the author, Sarah Chayes, argues that the movie trailer may not meet the threshold for free speech because of its propensity to put people in imminent danger of violence.

Again, this is strange because, historically, when speech was considered violent and thus not free, it was speech in which someone stirred up someone else sympathetic to his cause for the expressed intention of provoking these allies to violence. When Muslims respond with violence to free speech acts, they are doing so against those who made the speech act.  In other words, the relationship is one of enemies, not of allies (see further here).

Even more insanely, the violence is typically directed toward the person(s) who made the speech act. In the case of the recent movie trailer that supposedly started the violence (but really did not), the makers of that movie are now in hiding because their lives have been threatened. So, again going back to a previous post, this ends free speech as we know it. Now, the person who speaks out is also guilty of inciting a riot—against himself!

Free Speech

Public Domain

From the standpoint of freedom, this shift in our thinking reflects the loss of free speech in any meaningful sense. More important, if this new and twisted way of understanding free speech is allowed to stand, then Christianity will effectively be outlawed. How can a Christian preach Christ exclusively without also insulting Islamic beliefs and values?

While many undoubtedly would welcome the demise of Christianity, they should also take note of the offense Muslims take against homosexuality and women’s rights. The Christians may be the first shut down, but they won’t be the last.

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.

Films Don’t Kill, Islamic Militants Kill


I will have a fuller article posted later (and maybe a podcast or video), but I felt the need to get this thought out: Films do not kill people.  Why must this be said? Because article after article makes it sound as though the Muhammad Film is responsible for protests, violence, and murder.

Whatever one thinks of the film (and it looks deplorable to me), the film has killed no one. The film will not and cannot kill anyone.  The violence Muslim Violence over Muhammad filmdoes not stem from the film.  The violence stems from Muslims who do not like the film.  They are offended by the film. They do not have the right to destroy property and commit murder based on that fact. Would anyone have considered it acceptable for Christians to riot and kill embassy officials in response to The Last Temptation of Christ? Instead, that movie got rave reviews and was nominated for an Oscar.  No Christian stormed an embassy. And no one would have approved if he had.

Why, then, is it quickly becoming an accepted meme that this Muhammad film has led to protests, violence, and murder? The film did not do that. Muslims did that. To put the blame on the film–and even on Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who threatened to burn a Koran–is to appease violent people out of fear of them. In other words, it is cowardice.

UPDATE (September 19, 2012)

According to this story, even the White House is now having to admit that the attacks in Libya had nothing to do with the movie trailer for Innocence of Muslims. It was  pre-planned attack using heavy artillery.  The U.S. policy apparently was to “minimize” our presence there so as not to incite violence.  Thus, our Ambassador is dead.  Clearly, the movie is not to blame. It’s incredible how error spreads like a prairie fire.

Update Two: According to the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, the film had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Libya.

2 Important Persecution Stories from the News


 

Pakistan

Persecution Pakistan christian GirlQuite a bit of coverage has been given to the sad case of Rimsha Misrak, a Christian girl in Pakistan who is accused of blaspheming Muhammad.  She remains in jail, and her family is in protective custody.  I have read some reports which say Rimsha is 11, but this story reports that she is 12.  (Does it matter?)

Her crime is blasphemy. Supposedly, she defamed pages of the Quran, possibly by burning them.  The BBC reports,

The crowd wanted to burn her alive, this is a condemnable act and a clear violation of human rights.  She is an innocent child – she doesn’t even know what she did. She is in a state of shock.

Many will say that no one is ever actually killed under the law, but the truth is that 46 people who have been charged were killed by mob violence either before or after their trials (see here).  If Muslims are peace-loving and value human life, then surely they will decry not only this incident but also Pakistan’s horrendous law 295 which encourages such behavior.

Egypt 

In Egypt, Christians and others protesting the new Muslim Brotherhood government are in fact being crucified (See Here). Crucifixions are not unheard of, but they are almost certainly a religious statement as much as a punishment. If one wished only to kill dissidents, a bullet would work just fine. The extra labor involved in setting up a crucifixion must be to make a point.

I think the point being made is this: If you wish to follow Christ, then follow him—all the way to the cross.  In an ironic way, the executor ends up making the same point Christ made in Luke 9:27,

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.