FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
American Islamic Forum for Democracy stands in support of the First Amendment
AIFD condemns calls by Islamists from Kansas City to Egypt to limit our unalienable right to free speech
PHOENIX (October 1, 2012) – Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith” issued the following statement on behalf of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy in response to growing calls by Islamists domestically and abroad to limit the reach of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
“The American Islamic Forum for Democracy is appalled by recent calls by Islamists domestically and abroad to limit the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Their call for limits on the grounds that distasteful or “hateful” speech against Islam or the Prophet Muhammad is an “incitement to violence” is a flagrant insult to every American and especially every God fearing American Muslim. The Islamic Society of Kansas City is currently circulating a petition that calls for the President and the Congress to bring forth legislation that ‘outlaws any action that may insult one’s religion.’ The petition is put forth by their board of directors and signed by over 300 supporters. In Dearborn hundreds of Islamists gathered to call for similar legal limitations against the American understanding of free speech in order to pressure the U.S. government to enact their interpretations of blasphemy laws against Islam as they would want them under shar’iah which would prohibit any ridicule of Islam or the Prophet.
As American Muslims who deeply love the foundations of our country and our faith, we stand firmly against such calls for any speech limitations at all. We call the attention of all Americans to the paramount and revealing nature of this battle and how it is an unmistakable litmus test for Islamism in Muslim communities. Exposing which Muslims stand with the First Amendment and the freedom to denigrate all faiths and which Muslims ask for the special so-called “protection” of Islam or all faiths for that matter against any speech will better expose those Muslims who are guided by an Islamist (theocratic) or shar’iah based agenda versus those who are advocates for liberty and anti-Islamist reforms.
The attempts of groups like the Islamic Society of Kansas City to invoke “incitement to violence” language about criticism of Islam as an excuse which they deceptively attach to our First Amendment is an outright insult to every Muslim. To assume that harsh criticism or even hate of Islam or the Prophet Muhammad is akin to a direct incitement to violence is an attempt to infantilize Muslims and is the same language used by autocratic Islamist regimes from Iran to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to smother dissent, reform, and human rights.
Make no mistake. This fight within our Muslim communities between liberals and Islamists about free speech runs at the heart of defeating the greatest security threat to the West- the ideology of Islamism and its protean movements.
The Islamic Society of Kansas City and the protesters in Dearborn are not alone. They are a product of a far more reaching global Islamist leadership that echoes the same Islamist concerns. Free speech is but one fault line in the attempt of Islamists to advance their interpretations of shar’iah upon the West and separate Muslims out of the consciousness of freedom. Since 1999, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, a Saudi based neo-Caliphate like organization of 56 Muslim majority countries) has annually tried to attack the protections of our First Amendment by putting forth resolutions at the UN to condemn the ‘defamation of religion’. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish secretary general of the OIC calling for “an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of incitement material,” demanded that the international community “come out of hiding from behind the excuse of freedom of expression.” The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb summarily condemned the West telling Egyptians in reference to the film condemning Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that “the West throughout history has not treated Islam with respect, but showed hostility [against it], and chosen the path of conflict, rather than understanding.” We have now also seen calls for the U.S. to “revisit its First Amendment” from the Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran and Pakistan.
It is disgraceful that Islamists from Iran to Kansas City have the temerity to tell the freest nation on earth to curtail our freedoms in order to protect Islam when it is countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran that propagate truly genocidal speech against Jews, Christians, and non-Muslims in the form of state sponsored hate films like the Protocols, Wahhabi texts that compare Jews to apes and pigs in the name of Islam, and the President of Iran who denies the Holocaust in addition to calling for the end of the state Israel.
History shows that the banning of speech results in tyranny and that faith is best served in an environment that protects each individual’s right to accept or reject whatever practices they choose.
We wholly reject any attempt by our government to protect belief systems. We have not had a problem identifying speech that incites violence in the United States. It is the Islamists who are attempting to subvert our first amendment by conveniently broadening the definition of incitement. The reactions of Islamists should not be allowed to dictate the free expression of faith around the world or the opinions of free Muslims.
The right to redress any faith is a hallmark of our freedoms in the U.S. To limit speech of any kind is to limit the free exercise of our basic liberty. These calls are in fact blasphemous to the very ideals that built the United States. Religious freedom cannot exist without the unencumbered right to critique and criticize religion.
At AIFD we fully condemn and reject these calls for limiting the First Amendment and instead call on the Administration to aggressively make the case for liberty and advocate a Liberty Doctrine for the Middle East. The only way to truly eliminate the violence that we have seen is to empower the people of the Middle East with the principles of liberty and freedom- the same principles that our Founding Fathers came to enjoy in their escape from theocracy.
We must stand on principle and reject concepts that are borne from the intolerance of ideas and diversity of thought.”
About the American Islamic Forum for Democracy
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. For more information on AIFD, please visit our website at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/.
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