Thursday, March 27, 2008

Freedom of Speech: It's Protected in America

There seem to be all sorts of people who follow Islam.
  • Talking about Fitna, a contributor to the Washington-based Islamica Magazine, Arsalan Iftikhar, told CNN that "he doubted the film would spark the same type of violence that followed the caricature of Mohammed, adding, 'We in the global community learned a lot from the Danish cartoon controversy ... I don't think it will be anything remotely like that.' " [emphasis mine] " Dutch lawmaker's film criticizing Islam finds Web host" (March 27, 2008).
  • Then, there's Joseph Cohen. He born in a Jewish family in America, went to an Orthodox Rabbinical school, decided that it was a "racist cult," converted to Islam and started calling himself al-Khattab.
    His website,, is discussed in "U.S. Based Revolution Muslim Website Spreading Messages of Hate" FOXNews (March 26, 2008). Content on the website changes rapidly, and has included
    • The Statue of Liberty, with an ax blade cutting through her side
    • Video mocking the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl, entitled "Daniel Pearl I am Happy Your Dead :) "
    • Video of a puppet show lampooning U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq
    • The latest speech from Sheikh Abdullah Faisal, an extremist Muslim cleric convicted in the UK and later deported for soliciting the murder of non-Muslims
    He operates his website out of his home in the New York City Borough of Queens, and says he doesn't support terrorism. He also says:
    • 9/11 was an "inside job"
    • U.S. foreign policy is to blame for the 9/11 attacks
    And what he says is free speech, defended by the First Amendment.
    He launched his website with the intention of
    • "Preserving Islamic culture"
    • "Calling people to the oneness of God"
    • Asking people to "support the beloved Sheik Abdullah Faisal, who’s preaching the religion of Islam and serving as a spiritual guide."
Sheik Abdullah Faisal may sound familiar: he's the spiritual leader in the United Kingdom who taught racial hatred and urged his followers to kill Jews, Hindus and Westerners. It seems he broke a law doing this. He was convicted of his crimes in 2003.

I think that al-Khattab's website is, to say the least, distasteful. I also am dubious about his claim that he does not support terrorism. I suppose it depends in part on what he means by the term.

But this is what freedom of speech is about: allowing someone to express his opinions. Even if you don't agree with them; even if they aren't popular in Berkeley, or in Saline, Michigan, for that matter.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

1 comment:

Chelle Blögger said...


I really love your blog and your honesty.

This is such an excellent post, and I'm finding it very difficult to bite my tongue about this whole free speech issue lately.

I unequivocally respect other's right to exercise their free speech but these same people I feel deserve this right would see no problem in stifling mine.

I really struggle with the hypocrisy of it all.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.