Tuesday, April 24, 2007
It is not just in Europe:
A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
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.
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."
When a religious leader in the United States makes a statement like this, there should be strong reactions and protests. The religious leader and his congregation should be made to understand that people in the United States believe that killing people for their beliefs or comments about a religion is an outrageous violation of rights and that it undermines the freedom and harmony that the United States system promotes. It is amazing that the nation goes crazy when Don Imus insults people but seems to say nothing when religious leaders advocate the killing of people because they are perceived to have insulted Islam.
(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)