Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Here’s an outrageous story. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born woman who escaped an arranged marriage and emigrated to the West to avoid Muslim brutality, recently spoke in Pennsylvania but her appearance was protested by an Imam who called for her death for apostasy:

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.


Let me explain something to you, Imam. Religions don’t have laws, governments do. Religions have rules which are followed voluntarily by those who choose – note that word – to be members of that religion. If they choose no longer to follow those rules, you are of course entirely free to kick them out of your religion. What you cannot do – and this is a real law – is threaten them or harm them. Period. This is not negotiable, it’s not optional and if you insist on doing so you’re going to find yourself in prison where you belong.

Just listen to how insanely malevolent this guy is:

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.”

Oh yeah, you sure make it sound like one. If an adult makes a rational decision to leave your barbaric religion, you stone them to death. That’s the very definition of merciful. Here’s the most galling part to me, found in this story from a week earlier before the speech took place when the university met with this nut and another nut as they tried to cancel the speech:

Fouad ElBayly, president of the Islamic Center of Johnstown, and Mahmood A. Qazi, its founder and past president, met with Jerry Samples, Pitt-Johnstown’s vice president for academic and student affairs…

Samples said his meeting with ElBayly and Qazi was congenial.

“They expressed their concerns and I understand their concerns,” he said…

Qazi, who has resided in the region for approximately 13 years, said the Muslim community here gets along well with others.

“I don’t want this woman (Hirsi Ali) to create dissension among us,” he said. “I don’t want her to poison anyone’s mind.”

In a letter to Etheridge, Qazi said area Muslims are “enraged and deeply hurt” by the event.

The proper response: fuck your concerns. You do not have a right not to be offended by the views of others, you do not have a right to try and shut people up for offending you, and the moment you begin to issue death threats you’ve lost any right to be taken seriously or to have your feelings or concerns considered anything but insane and barbaric. Forget about Ali poisoning anyone’s minds, your minds are already poisoned with the delusion that your hurt feelings give you the right to kill someone for criticizing you.

And here’s an American Muslim who gets it and is calling out these Imams:

Hirsi Ali’s freedom of expression must be protected, and it is here that Voltaire’s famous quote is most operable (“I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to my death your right to say it”). The irony of it all is that in one stupid, dangerous statement, ElBayly has succeeded in “defaming” Islam more than Hirsi Ali ever could.

Comments

  1. #1 Disgusted Beyond Belief
    April 24, 2007

    “I’ll kill you for making the claim that my religion is overly bloodthirsty!!!!”

  2. #2 Gretchen
    April 24, 2007

    Well gee, I guess we should be happy we don’t have a Muslim world government such that Hirsi Ali could killed according to the customs of a religion of which she is no longer a member in a country which is non-theocratic (and wouldn’t be an Islamist theocracy if it were). Guess you’re out of luck, Fouad ElBayly! Maybe if that’s the way you’d prefer things be, you’re in the wrong country.

  3. #3 Russell
    April 24, 2007

    Were I Hirsi Ali, I would sure look into getting a concealed carry permit. This isn’t the Netherlands, and one’s last words to a religious fanatic needn’t be, “let’s talk about this.”

  4. #4 konrad_arflane
    April 24, 2007

    “You do not have a right not to be offended by the views of others”

    Oh, but he does. If he doesn’t want to be offended, he can freely choose not to be offended. There’s no law against that.

  5. #5 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    April 24, 2007

    Is ElBayly a US citizen? If not, this seems like grounds for deportation.

  6. #6 Gretchen
    April 24, 2007

    Is ElBayly a US citizen? If not, this seems like grounds for deportation.

    He’s been in the U.S. for longer than I’ve been alive. As heinous as his comments are, I don’t think they qualify as a crime, much less an offense worthy of deportation.

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    April 24, 2007

    If he’s not a US citizen, I think calling for the death of someone is reasonable grounds for deportation. If he is a US citizen, that’s a much dicier proposition.

  8. #8 MyPetSlug
    April 24, 2007

    What happens now if a fundamentalist Muslim in the US now goes out and kills Hirsi Ali? Since Fouad ElBayly merely “suggested” the action, but had nothing to do with it being carried out, is he not guilty of a crime? Or, because he made the threat knowing that one of his followers may very well act on it, can he be thrown in Jail?

    Just curious how the law works here.

  9. #9 kehrsam
    April 24, 2007

    Slug: The Southern Poverty Law Center had a great deal of success during the 1990s in suing white power groups for wrongful death after murders committed by their members. They put a couple of Klan organizations out of business. So if the killing is by anyone associated with the Mosque, there is precedent.

    On the other hand, I recall reading somewhere (ie, I don’t have the cite) that this guy is associated with the Saudis, so I imagine this Mosque has some deep pockets.

  10. #10 Michel E
    April 24, 2007

    Then drain ‘em.

  11. #11 blf
    April 24, 2007

    What is the difference between this guy and, oh, say, the pope–or any other religious (read: fuckwit) except, maybe the dalai lama? It’s standard operations for religions: Kill everyone who doesn’t pay “you” enough (money or sex or whatever the particular religion’s fuckwittery is).

  12. #12 Kristine
    April 24, 2007

    It gets worse. A practicing Muslim woman is not even supposed to marry a man who is not a Muslim.

    I think ElBayly’s words constitute a crime. If under sharia she should be tried, but he then prematurely pronounces sentence as he has done, it’s a threat as far as I’m concerned.

  13. #13 MR
    April 24, 2007

    Always good to see such flagrant acts of douchebaggery. Seriously, this is the kind of thing we want people to say loud and clear where everyone else can hear it. It makes it easier to deal with the crazies when they mark themselves off. If I could just convince them to wear my new “I’m A Crazy” T-shirts…

  14. #14 Leni
    April 24, 2007

    Drain em with what Michel E? Shall we deluge them with imprudent investment suggestions disguised as friendly but urgent pleas from a priest in Nigeria? Sell them bad mortgages? Offer them Charter cable at shockingly low intruductory rates?

    What are we to do?
    :)

    (We could tax the crap out of them- but we all know that ain’t ever gonna happen…)

  15. #15 Leni
    April 24, 2007

    Wait wait wait… blf- the pope kills people who don’t pay him money? Or does he just threaten a little bit here and there?

    Because that could actually be really scary.

  16. #16 Ed Brayton
    April 24, 2007

    blf wrote:

    What is the difference between this guy and, oh, say, the pope–or any other religious (read: fuckwit) except, maybe the dalai lama? It’s standard operations for religions: Kill everyone who doesn’t pay “you” enough (money or sex or whatever the particular religion’s fuckwittery is).

    When was the last time you heard a Pope calling for someone who insulted Catholicism to be put to death? It’s been a long time. There’s a reason for that. In the West, Christianity has been neutered by mixing with Enlightenment thinking in a basic Hegelian dialectic process. That has changed Christianity. Yes there are still fringe elements in Christianity that say such things but they are just that, a fringe that is ostracized from the mainstream of the religion. The element in Islam that believes such things is far larger, far more influential and far more dangerous precisely because there has been no dialectic process. Islam is where Christianity was 500 years ago, pre-Reformation and pre-Enlightenment.

  17. #17 Bartholomew
    April 24, 2007

    A bit of background:

    Brother Fouad ElBayly, native of Eqypt, has lived in the US for over 30 years now. He has recently retired as a Corrections Officer from the Pennsylvania State Corrections Institute. Currently he is volunteers his time as an Imam and President of the Islamic Center ofJohnstown. He has attended over 100 interfaith dialogue events at local churches, synagogues, and community centers, is a visiting Imam at the PA Department of Corrections and Federal Corrections. He also serves as a Muslim Representative of the Flight 93 Memorial in Johnstown, PA.

  18. #18 Ex-drone
    April 24, 2007

    ElBayly’s and Qazi’s god is pretty pathetic. He’s so lazy that he requires humans to kill apostates and blasphemers, and his message is so lame that human lecturers can easily poison the minds of their audience. He’s hardly worthy of the devotion of these mindless zealots.

  19. #19 Coin
    April 24, 2007

    When was the last time you heard a Pope calling for someone who insulted Catholicism to be put to death? … Yes there are still fringe elements in Christianity that say such things but they are just that, a fringe that is ostracized from the mainstream of the religion.

    And “Imam Fouad ElBayly” of the “Johnstown Islamic Center” is the mainstream of Islam, or in some way comparable in mainstreamness within Islam as the Pope is within Christianity? Hm.

    One thing I do want to say: While I am not trying here to support “blf”‘s crazed comments in any way, or to imply those violent wings within Christianity and Islam are equal in scope or influence–

    While I can’t remember the last time a Pope in specific called for anyone’s death, the last time I saw a representative of something I would call mainstream Christianity call for someone’s death was a year and a half ago. I incidentally have serious doubts that particular person has heard of GWF Hegel.

    Just saying.

    On a separate note, Bartholomew wrote:

    Brother Fouad ElBayly… also serves as a Muslim Representative of the Flight 93 Memorial in Johnstown, PA

    …Um, wow. The first thing that comes to mind here is that Mr. ElBayly’s association with said memorial really should not be allowed to continue…

  20. #20 Brandon
    April 24, 2007

    Even Fred Phelps said that Matthew Sheppard’s murder was a tragedy that should not have happened. When a Westboro Baptist can hold the moral high ground over you, you really need to reevaluate your life.

    And yes, the Pope would be so much cooler if he was actually a Sith Lord. Until then, I think we need to split this site into Scienceblogs and Angryathiestblogs so we can hold an intelligent conversation for once.

  21. #21 Engineer-Poet
    April 24, 2007

    Quoth Leni:

    (We could tax the crap out of them- but we all know that ain’t ever gonna happen…)

    Some Catholic dioceses are not so sanguine.

    All you have to do is take their facilities away.  The threat of having infidels own them and defile them should either make them very circumspect, or drive them into even more insane behavior.  In the case of the latter, they are likely to wind up imprisoned, deported or dead.

  22. #22 Wonders for Oyarsa
    April 24, 2007

    When was the last time you heard a Pope calling for someone who insulted Catholicism to be put to death? It’s been a long time. There’s a reason for that. In the West, Christianity has been neutered by mixing with Enlightenment thinking in a basic Hegelian dialectic process. That has changed Christianity. Yes there are still fringe elements in Christianity that say such things but they are just that, a fringe that is ostracized from the mainstream of the religion. The element in Islam that believes such things is far larger, far more influential and far more dangerous precisely because there has been no dialectic process. Islam is where Christianity was 500 years ago, pre-Reformation and pre-Enlightenment.

    Medieval Christianity was nowhere near this bad. As much as I’d like to be proven wrong, I just don’t see anything like the peace of God being proposed in the modern Islamic world, or anything like the work of St. Francis.

  23. #23 FishyFred
    April 24, 2007

    it is here that Voltaire’s famous quote is most operable (“I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to my death your right to say it”).

    I always nitpick this, but Voltaire DID NOT ACTUALLY WRITE THIS.

  24. #24 David Durant
    April 24, 2007

    Ed said:
    > If he’s not a US citizen, I think calling for the death of
    > someone is reasonable grounds for deportation. If he is a US
    > citizen, that’s a much dicier proposition.

    Ed, obviously any sane person must believe in limits on free speech (not revealing the names of undercover spys springs to mind). You seem to say that you don’t support the right for people to call for the death of other people – I’m genuinely interested in what other limits on free speech you support.

  25. #25 Ed Brayton
    April 24, 2007

    David-

    Very few, as I’ve written many times. I am about as close to a free speech absolutist as one can get. And if the imam was a US citizen, I don’t think the first amendment would allow us to prosecute him. While he said that she deserved death, he did not actually threaten her directly. But if he’s here on a visa and is not a US citizen, the legal standard is different; I see no reason why we should allow advocates of barbarism come here to preach such things. At the very least, this is exactly the sort of nut who should be under constant surveillance.

  26. #26 kehrsam
    April 24, 2007

    Let’s see: Libel, conspiracy, serious breach of the peace (shouting “fire” in a crowded theater), incitement to a crime, overt treason. That’s about all I can come up with. Hurting someone’s feelings doesn’t make the list.

  27. #27 Wonders for Oyarsa
    April 24, 2007

    I think getting in someone’s face and screaming at them that their wife is a whore (when she isn’t) counts as at least a punchable offense…

  28. #28 doctorgoo
    April 24, 2007

    So Wonders, if their wife actually is promiscuous, then does this mean it’s no longer a punchable offense?

  29. #29 Wonders for Oyarsa
    April 24, 2007

    It certainly changes the dynamic – but I suppose it might still be punchable.

  30. #30 Thony C.
    April 25, 2007

    “Medieval Christianity was nowhere near this bad.”

    Go away and learn some history before you start making statements like that. I suggest you start with the Albigensian Crusade and move on from there. If you need any help finding new topics just ask, I will be pleased to advise.

  31. #31 Gretchen
    April 25, 2007

    Ed said:

    And if the imam was a US citizen, I don’t think the first amendment would allow us to prosecute him. While he said that she deserved death, he did not actually threaten her directly. But if he’s here on a visa and is not a US citizen, the legal standard is different; I see no reason why we should allow advocates of barbarism come here to preach such things.

    I think the Bill of Rights should cover anyone the U.S. government has occasion to deal with– if they are truly inalienable, then they apply just as much to non-citizens as citizens. The U.S. is not a big family who should be deciding what kind of people “we” should allow over to “our” house. They are not guests who can overstay or abuse their welcome. They are people who have come under an umbrella in which certain rights are acknowledged as being due to human beings, and as human beings they are entitled to them just as much as we are. I think to say otherwise is to allow that circumstances of birth should determine what rights a person ought to have– that is, to allow for cultural relativism.

  32. #32 Miguelito
    April 25, 2007

    When I first read the headline, I thought it was against Kirsti Allie and was for it.

    Then I read it a second time and was against it.

  33. #33 David Durant
    April 25, 2007

    > I think the Bill of Rights should cover anyone the U.S.
    > government has occasion to deal with– if they are truly
    > inalienable, then they apply just as much to non-citizens as > citizens.

    Bravo Gretchen.

  34. #34 David C. Brayton
    April 25, 2007

    Gretchen–A careful reading of the Constitution reveals that certain rights are enjoyed by “the people” and others are enjoyed by “citizens”. Courts have found that these two different phrases mean different things. For example, voting is a right reserved for “citizens”.

    Inalienable rights, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are not found in the Bill of Rights but rather the Declaration of Independence. I’m not aware of any place where the Constitution talks about inalienable rights. And besides, with the due process of law, alienable rights may be alienated. We take away people’s liberty every day if they are suspected of a crime and certain states and the federal government have the death penalty.

  35. #35 Ed Brayton
    April 25, 2007

    Gretchen-

    I think when dealing with a non-citizen, it’s a much closer call than that. Because while we all take the position that one has a right to free speech, the person in question does not have a right to be here, they’re here because we have chosen to allow them to be here. As a sovereign nation, we control our own borders and do decide who gets to come in and who doesn’t and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to set a standard that says if you agitate for the murder of those who disagree with you, you’ve lost the privilege of being here. Is this position correct? I don’t know. I certainly see the validity of your argument as well. I just don’t think it’s all that unreasonable. Do we really have to welcome people here who undermine the most basic principles we hold? I don’t think it’s out of bounds to ask that question.

  36. #36 spartanrider
    April 25, 2007

    I am all for rights,but giving crazy visitors second amendment rights goes slightly farther than I am willing to go.It would seem that most of the world’s governments feel this way.The time for armed non-citizens has not yet come.Gretchen I don’t think you will get many takers for your position.

  37. #37 Ed Brayton
    April 25, 2007

    David wrote:

    Inalienable rights, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are not found in the Bill of Rights but rather the Declaration of Independence. I’m not aware of any place where the Constitution talks about inalienable rights.

    I don’t think this is a compelling point. As I’ve written many times, I consider the Declaration to be part of the organic law and the lens through which we should view the Constitution. My argument here, though, is that it’s not unreasonable to set a standard for those we allow to come here and live, particularly those who are in positions of influence as this Imam is, that they not actively undermine the principles found in the Declaration and the Constitution. Again, I see the validity of the counter-arguments as well and I’m not entirely comfortable with my own argument here. But I think it’s worth discussing. Do we have a legal or ethical obligation to welcome in to our country those who actively undermine our most basic principles?

  38. #38 David C. Brayton
    April 25, 2007

    Ed–The only point I was trying to make is that the term “inalienable” is found in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Gretchen mixed several concepts together and the result was a bit messy. Reading the Constitution in light of the D/I can be illuminating.

    So, it might be useful to imagine how we would go about banishing this Imam from the United States because he doesn’t believe in the same things all good Americans believe.

    What charges could result in banishment? Racism? sexism? Homophobia?

    Would we set up a special court? Who would initiate proceedings? Coulda neighbor walk into court and initiate a case based on mere allegations just like in civil court? Or would the ‘prosecutorial’ power be limited to just governmental officers that go around looking for ideological wackos?

    Would the judiciary be involved in any way? Any right of appeal? Are lawyers allowed? Do we allow hearsay? What is the standard of proof? Does double jeopardy apply?

  39. #39 Raging Bee
    April 25, 2007

    So, it might be useful to imagine how we would go about banishing this Imam from the United States because he doesn’t believe in the same things all good Americans believe.

    It might be more useful to imagine how we would go about banishing this imam for trying to incite a criminal act — specifically, a murder.

  40. #40 spartanrider
    April 25, 2007

    Any persons life or liberty is protected in the US,without due process this may not be taken.You may pursue happiness anywhere on the planet.If you are born here or naturalized you may pursue it here.If you are a guest and become a pain in the ass it is the right of the host to throw you the hell out. Your right to the pursuit of happiness remains,just not here.

  41. #41 Gretchen
    April 25, 2007

    Please understand that my comment wasn’t intended be based on what the law actually says, but what I think should be the case. I have a strong belief that the rights guaranteed in the Constitution are not given to us by the government, but rather acknowledged because they are something we are entitled to as people– that is, rational and independent human beings.

    Ed, I certainly don’t think it’s out of bounds to raise the question of whether people have the right to be in the United States. My opinion is simply that they do. You say that “we” get to control our borders as a sovereign nation, but the reality is you and I really have no say in who is allowed into the country. I don’t consider myself any more worthy of the rights acknowledged in the Constitution than somebody from another country– I’m not inherently any smarter or more moral than them, so I can’t support my government denying the same rights I enjoy to anyone who manages to get themselves under its jurisdiction.

  42. #42 David C. Brayton
    April 25, 2007

    Raging Bee–my mistake. Ed proposed that aliens that “actively undermine our most basic principles” be deported.

    But, all of the same questions remain. What does it mean to ‘actively undermine’? Is hate speech designed to get other to join organizations like the Klan ‘actively undermining’? Is everything that is protected by the First Amendment considered not “actively undermining’?

    And what are our ‘most basic principles’? Should we have a nationwide vote on this? Or leave it up to Congress to pick the three or four most basic principles?

  43. #43 Randi Schimnosky
    April 25, 2007

    If he was in Canada Fouad ElBayly would be thrown in jail for calling for someone’s death under the hate speech law – as he apropriately should be.

  44. #44 spartanrider
    April 25, 2007

    It doesn’t take much of a reason for a sovereign nation to throw you out.Six years ago I was working for a large corporation.I was asked to go to Calgary,Alberta to fill in for a couple of weeks.Had a great time.Expense accounts are nice that way.While I was there I went to visit some local motorcycle enthusiasts.I spent a couple of hours visiting and had a couple of drinks.One month later I was asked to return.I stepped off the plane and was immediately grabbed by immigration.After being held for a few hours I was given the choice between voluntary deportation or being held in jail to await a hearing.Needless to say deportation sounded real good.Canadian officials placed me on a Denver bound jet and did not leave until the door was closed.They gave me a nice certificate in English and French telling me not to darken their door again.For good measure they told me to stay out of the entire British Commonwealth.My crime they told me was being a known associate of organised crime.No more,no less.

  45. #45 Raging Bee
    April 26, 2007

    David C: at the very least, citizenship and permanent resident status should not be given to foreigners who are known to have acted contrary to specific provisions of the US Constution. If someone explicitly demands the killing of people who question his religion, that is flatly contrary to our clearly stated principle of freedom of speech and religion, and a blatant attempt to incite and/or encourage a criminal act. Letting people into a country who don’t respect that country’s governing princples does no good for the country. Why should we let this Imam live here, and respect his rights under our laws, if we can’t count on him to reciprocate?

    Nor are such restrictions unusual: people applying for citizenship in a country in which they were not born, usually have to pass tests intended to demonstrate understanding of that country’s laws, government and basic moral principles.

    If this Imam is a US citizen already, tough shit for us. If not, he should be deported. Why does he want to be here at all, if he doesn’t respect our values?

  46. #46 Shawn Smith
    April 26, 2007

    Raging Bee,

    … Why does he want to be here at all, if he doesn’t respect our values?

    Perhaps it’s, “to promote the global jihad to bring the one true religion (his) to the world.” And if any don’t see the obvious “Truth” then they aren’t really human, and can be dealt with as such. I am, of course, just pulling a guess out of my nether regions, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to be wrong. It would trouble me more if I were right.