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April 24, 2007

Time for American Muslims to Speak Up: ElBayly Must Be Fired
Posted by Shadi Hamid

This is disgusting. Former Dutch MP, outspoken critic of Islam (and now fellow at AEI), Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke at the University of Pittsburgh last week. "Islamic leaders" tried to stop it from happening. One of them, Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, said the following:

[Hirsi Ali] 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.

Yes, you heard that right (read the original Pittsburgh Tribune article here). ElBayly essentially passed a death sentence on Hirsi Ali. It wouldn't be the first time, but it's probably the first time for an American-Muslim (he's been here since 1976, so I'm assuming he has citizenship). Here's hoping that the Muslim blogosphere (to the extent that it exists), rises up in arms, speaks out and condemns this guy, and tells him, "if you don't respect even the most basic American traditions of free speech and expression, then why the heck are you in our country? If you're going to go around passing death sentences on people you disagree with, then please leave not only the Islamic Center you purport to lead, but also this country." So, yes, here's a call to action: the Johnstown Islamic Center should fire ElBayly immediately. He should be prevented from holding any leadership post in the American Muslim community.

I'm no fan of Hirsi Ali and I've criticized her at length in previous posts. I suspect most American Muslims don't like her either. That, however, should not keep us from speaking out against ElBayly and those like him. 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.   


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Geez, this reminds me of Zionists in NYC who closed down a play about a young Candian woman peace activist,run over by Israeli bulldozers in Occupied Palestine a few years ago. Such attempts at censorship are equally pernicious and yes, members of both communities should be encouraged to publicly protest these acts/words of their own militants.

"but it's probably the first time for an American-Muslim"

The following Letter to The Editor of the Lansing State Journal was published on July 6, 2006. The author teaches kindergartners at an Islamic Sunday School in East Lansing, Michigan.

Islam or death

I read Le Roy Barnett’s letter (“Muslims, speak up,” June 26) about Muslims’ opinion on Abdul Rahman’s [the Afghani man who had to leave Afghanistan in fear for his life] conversion to Christianity.

Islam is not only a religion, it is a complete way of life. Islam guides Muslims from birth to grave. The Quran and prophet Muhammad’s words and practical application of Quran in life cannot be changed.

Islam is a guide for humanity, for all times, until the day of judgment. It is forbidden in Islam to convert to any other religion. The penalty is death. There is no disagreement about it.

Islam is being embraced by people of other faiths all the time. They should know they can embrace Islam, but cannot get out. This rule is not made by Muslims; it is the supreme law of God.

Please do not ask us Muslims to pick some rules and disregard other rules. Muslims are supposed to embrace Islam in its totality.

Nazra Quraishi
East Lansing

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