John Walker Lindh, infamously serving a 20-year prison sentence for aiding the Taliban, is now seeking new ways to insult the United States, including insulting the many liberty-minded Muslims who value our nation’s freedoms.
The prison where Lindh is held has had a generous policy for its many Muslim prisoners. Until they were disciplined for not responding to a fire alarm, the prisoners were permitted to gather in congregation for three of the five daily prayers. Now, the prisoners are only permitted to gather for the Friday afternoon “jummah” prayer.
Lindh is not satisfied with this accommodation of his religious beliefs and practices. He has asserted that the prison’s restriction on gathering for prayer is an infringement on his religious rights, and that he must gather with other Muslims for the daily prayers. He has even brought his case to court, suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the right to pray in congregation more than once per week.
Islam does not require Muslims to perform their daily prayers in congregation, and allows for Muslims to miss the Friday prayers if circumstances make attending them impossible. Imam Ammar Amonette of Richmond, Virginia has commented on Lindh’s case, affirming this widely-known Islamic guideline. Despite this, Lindh continues to insist that he receive special treatment.
This kind of arrogance is no surprise coming from a notorious terrorist convicted of numerous crimes against the United States and innocent people everywhere. It is also a hallmark of the Islamist mindset, which seeks to use the freedom and reason of the West in its quest to defeat it. Islamists relish the opportunity to demand even accommodations well outside of mainstream Islamic practice: niqabs (face-veils) in the courtroom, extra congregational prayers for terrorists. Islamists make these absurd demands with full knowledge that they act against both non-Muslims and the majority of Muslims worldwide. They view their mission as a holy war, in which they seek to defeat all people who believe in freedom and the preservation of human rights. To them, no sacrifice is too great – and those Muslims who won’t fight alongside them are primary targets.
This is not the first time Islamists in the prison system have petitioned for special privileges: in 2009, Randall T. Moyer (a former spokesman for the Muslim American Society, or MAS and member of the “Virginia Jihad Network”) was housed in the same prison as John Walker Lindh, and also sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons for additional congregational prayer rights. Louay Safi, former director of leadership development for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), backed Moyer’s request, saying that Moyer’s demands followed the “prophetic tradition,” and that Muhammad promised greater rewards to those who pray in congregation. (Read more about Safi and his career in ISNA’s leadership here and here.)
The ACLU is defending Lindh, and they may be well-intentioned in doing so. We certainly support protecting civil rights for all Americans. By choosing to support Lindh, however, the ACLU seems to be trying to support an identity group – Muslims – but are instead supporting Lindh’s Islamist interpretation of Islam, which actually subjugates individual Muslims and restricts their rights. Islamism doesn’t value individual liberty, freedom of expression, or civil rights.
As liberty-minded Muslims, we are intensely grateful for the freedoms granted we enjoy in the United States, where we are freer to practice our faith than we would be anywhere else in the world. We believe that John Walker Lindh’s demands for greater privileges are not just unreasonable, but also dangerous. He, like other Islamists, seeks to define Islam as a faith utterly incompatible with modernity, freedom, and human rights. We urge those who may be swayed by Lindh’s argument to recognize that they may be setting a dangerous precedent by helping to advance a jihadist’s interpretation of Islam, which seeks to strip us of the very liberties that make us who we are.
Disturbing: a jihadi song in in honor of John Walker Lindh, aka Mujahid Sulayman al-Faris.