Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and freedom of speech

Watching Randy Linn in court last month was unsettling. He pleaded guilty to defacing religious property, using fire to commit a felony, and carrying a firearm as he walked through the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo last Sept. 30. He accepted a binding plea agreement of 20 years in prison, without appeal or parole, for the arson.

His diatribe at the hearing was worse. He cited news media, especially Fox News, for inspiring his desire to avenge U.S. military deaths. He conceded he knew nothing about Muslims or Islam, other than that Muslims did not believe in Jesus Christ as savior.

America’s Constitution promises justice, liberty, and protection of citizens. Yet a wave of Islamophobia, reflected in incidents such as the Islamic Center arson, suggests that we are more intent on protecting freedom of speech than Americans’ lives and property.

In 2004, when he signed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, President George W. Bush said that “extending freedom also means disrupting the evil of anti-Semitism.” The law requires a specific federal agency to document acts of physical violence against Jews, their property, their cemeteries, and their places of worship. It also mandates monitoring of anti-Jewish propaganda and promotion of unbiased school curricula.

There is no similar law to respond to this country’s ferocious and well-funded Islamophobia industry, which relentlessly whips up anti-Muslim sentiment that can inspire disturbed people to destroy property, maim, and even kill.

Mahjabeen Islam in the Toledo Blade, 6 January 2013

Stand by for right-wing Islamophobes and self-styled secularists to denounce this excellent article as a demand for a blasphemy law and for the destruction of free expression in the US through the imposition of Sharia on the non-Muslim majority.