Tuesday, March 22, 2005

An Islamic hate-speech double standard

Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer for the American Muslim Union, has asked the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate comments made by members of the Coptic Christian community of Jersey City, according to an article in Newsday. In the days after the killing of a Coptic Christian family in January, many members of the community lashed out at Muslims, blaming religious hatred for the deaths. It turns out that religious differences had nothing to do with the murders. Police have arrested Edward McDonald and Hamilton Sanchez, upstairs neighbors who needed money to pay a debt and probably had no clue if the Armanious family was Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian.

Mohammed said those comments might have been designed to dissuade Muslims from attending the funeral, and could have been intended to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment ... "We are concerned that those comments were deliberately intended to incite the public," Mohammed said. "If it was intentional, we want Mr. Harvey to do an investigation and determine if it was a bias crime. If there was bias related to it, it becomes a bias crime."

Fine. Point taken, and the Attorney General's Office will look into it. Now does anyone from the American Muslim Union have anything to say about the comments made last Friday by a protester outside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where Amina Wadud lead a mixed-gender Muslim prayer service? Amina Wadud is a woman, and women are traditionally barred from leading men in prayer in Islam.

A report by Reuters quoted a protester named Nussrah: "'That woman does not represent Islam at all. This is blasphemy, and the penalty for blasphemy is death and that is what this woman deserves.'" To their credit, Al Jazeera also reported on the prayer service and the protest, and even quoted Nussrah's implicit call for a lynching: "'If this was [sic] an Islamic state, this woman would be hanged.'"

Talk about "dissuading people from attending."

Try standing outside St. John the Divine the next time there's an interracial wedding going on inside. Carry a protest sign and spout off to reporters that back where you come from your bigoted friends would lynch the groom or the bride or both. See if the police let you stick around to throw rice. See if they even let you go home.


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