One of the OKC Muslims wrote an op-ed criticizing Islamic terrorism in general and al-Qaeda in particular. Since then he has been kicked out of the local mosque and threatened with violence. This story was not widely publicized because it doesn’t fit into MSM agenda, but it made CBN and some blogs. Considering the shitstorm we created by admitting that the Koran is not perfect, what do you think would happen to us if our identities ever made public?Because the incident in question took place in Tulsa, not Oklahoma City, it took me a little while to figure out what MAS meant, but I eventually found an excellent archive of posts on the topic of Jamal Miftah at Batesline.
Miftah published a piece in the Readers Forum of the Tulsa World, in which he describes a friend who volunteered to fight American forces in Afghanistan as "innocent." He makes generalizations such as, "Cowards like al-Zawahri and bin Laden are inciting the ignorant and innocent youths to commit suicide bombings to kill innocent civilians including children, women and the elderly, while they hide in spider holes and caves. They never send their own sons and daughters, born out of half a dozen of their wives, to get killed in the name of Islam." al-Zawahiri's wife, Azza, and their three children were reportedly killed in the December 3, 2001 airstrikes on caves near Jalalabad.
The beginning of the article admonishes, "'Islam' means submission and is derived from a word meaning 'peace.' Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same origin, the Prophet Abraham. The prophet of Islam has said that God has no mercy on someone who does not have mercy for others." However, the article concludes, "I appeal to the Muslim clerics around the world that, rather than issuing empty fatwas condemning suicide bombing, they should issue a fatwa for the death of such scoundrels and barbarians who have taken more than 4,267 lives of innocent people in the name of Islam." He also states, "Even mosques and Islamic institutions in the U.S. and around the world have become tools in their hands and are used for collecting funds for their criminal acts. Half of the funds collected go into the pockets of their local agents and the rest are sent to these thugs."
Perhaps resenting the implication that it was a tool in bin Laden's hand, the Islamic Center of Tulsa forbade Miftah from worshiping there until he took back what he wrote. Ali Eteraz, a critic of Islamic extremism who writes under his own name (as do members of the Free Muslim Coalition), interviewed Miftah and reported that Miftah's article led "certain members within the Islamic Society of Tulsa to call him an 'agent,' a 'traitor,' and an 'anti-Muslim' and to ban him from the mosque. The reason behind the IST's apprehensivenss? As one of its leaders said to Miftah: 'you can't write bad things about Muslims in front of non-Muslims.'"
Yet in the interview, "when [Etaraz] asked him whether he was concerned about any reprisals from 'the Muslim community' he was quick to say 'no, not the Muslim community, because I too am a Muslim, but from Al-Qaeda sympathizers.'" Etaraz adds, "He certainly feels betrayed and angered by the fact that he was called numerous names by the IST and pushed out. However, instead of taking any aggressive actions, he has simply reiterated to the mosque leadership that he is not going to rescind his article; he is not going to apologize for what he said; and in fact, he is going to wait for them to apologize to him for mistreating him."
Perhaps becoming embittered by the IST's claims that he was expelled for being audibly disruptive, Miftah wrote to the Tulsa World saying, "I am also surprised why office bearers of IST are so defensive about channeling funds to illegitimate organizations by them. My article does not say anything to that effect by IST mosque in Tulsa, rather it was reference to the mosque in Brooklyn (Al-Farooq Mosque), New York, California, Albany, New York, Bridgeview, Illinois, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and one in Texas, and the result of investigation on the London bombing plot, leading its trails to funneling of earthquake donations collected in Britain to the terrorists involved. I have not yet made any allegation about IST on this count, yet some of their activities that I am aware of and have evidence certainly create doubts about legality of some of their activities."
In a March 2007 interview with Frontpage, Miftah reiterates his belief in the innocence of Pakistanis who crossed into Afghanistan in order to fight U.S. forces, "During the course of time, ordinary people including myself realized that all the leaders made it back to their homes safe and sound, whereas a number of the ordinary men never returned. They either got killed or were held for ransom by Afghans and possibly the Taliban." Or they're in, um, Guantanamo Bay. Miftah also stated, "It now makes me believe, from the kind of response and the treatment that I received, that there are elements within the mosque leadership who have sympathies for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. To root out and expose such elements we need moral support from organizations like yours and also legal help to prosecute such rogue elements."
Miftah concluded that he wanted help in pursuing a court case against the IST, and had contacted the ACLU but they said they didn't have the funds for his case. (Given that a private religious organization cannot violate the First Amendment and therefore is free to kick anyone out for his speech, I suspect this was the ACLU's polite way of saying that they didn't believe Miftah had a constitutional case.) Unsurprisingly, the history Ph.D and non-lawyer interviewing Miftah replied, "Trust me, the ACLU doesn't have scarcity of funds for all kinds of things. They just don't have any funds to support a moderate Muslim against radical Islam."
Notwithstanding his own highly public remarks accusing the IST's leadership of legally dubious activities and sympathy with Al-Qaeda, in June 2007 Miftah filed suit against the IST for assault, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The two paragraphs copied on the Batesline blog sound like a questionable legal theory:
24. The acts of Defendants, individually and jointly, are outrageous in that Defendants knew that if they labeled Jamal Miftah a "traitor… anti Muslim and anti Islamic" his life would be forfeit should he be found in a Muslim Country and labeled apostate and that he would live in constant fear and dread of vigilante “justice” from certain Muslims in the United States.So now no Muslim can accuse another of being "anti Muslim and anti Islamic" without legal liability? I don't think an American court sensibly can import theocratic norms into its decisions on freedom of speech within the U.S. Perhaps it is insensitive and even morally reckless to make such statements if one knows the weight they may carry within a particular religious community, but our courts cannot force people to be silent in Tulsa (whether by injunction or through fear of further money damages) because of the reactions of people in Tripoli.
25. The acts of Defendants are the proximate cause of severe emotional distress in that Jamal Miftah is now labeled as apostate, forced along with his wife and four children to attend to prayers in their home, apart from the fellowship of other Muslims, prevented from traveling to any Muslim Country, including his homeland of Pakistan and robbed of his peace of mind and right to speak freely against those he believes have brought his faith into disrepute via attacks on his adopted homeland and other acts of terrorism.
Moreover, in the U.S. calling someone a traitor to a religion is not an opinion that should be subject to legal penalty through a defamation claim. A traitor to the nation, yes, because such is a crime and accusing someone of a crime is inherently defamatory. But there is no crime in being a traitor to Islam. If this is the lawsuit Miftah wanted the ACLU to pursue, no wonder they said no -- it counters their stance on the First Amendment.
 I'm not going to assume that Etaraz's interpretation of words would track with mine, given his remark, "The last editorial in the New York Times which gave space to a Muslim to write on terrorism, on the other hand, was by a short story writer named Anar Ali who essentially said she could not be bothered with issues involving other Muslims (even as she played the Islam card to sell her anthology)." I didn't really get that from Ali's begging off from any expected expertise on terrorism:
Whether you want it or not, as a Muslim (secular and otherwise) you are automatically pulled into the debate on terrorism. Not that I don't want to discuss it, I do. But I want to discuss it as a citizen, not just a Muslim.
As a Muslim, people expect you to be an expert, to have special inside knowledge on the topic. They want your opinion on the issue, your help in explaining and analyzing complex political issues, the history of Islam, the psychology of suicide bombers.
I have no sense of what motivates a terrorist (except maybe as a fiction writer, since it's my job to enter the hearts and minds of characters). Terrorists and radical Islamists live in a different place from me, psychologically and culturally, even if they were raised in Canada just as I was. To better understand these young men and why they turn to violence as a means to an end, it might make more sense to ask someone who was a skinhead, a member of the Irish Republican Army, a Tamil Tiger, or a Weatherman.
If you asked me, I would have to speculate, as most people do, from the sidelines.