Last Friday, Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, held an anti-American, anti-Israel demonstration. Protestors carried a large model of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and waved signs bearing slogans such as “US Hands Off Muslim Land.” But the most arresting image was of a Muslim woman carrying a large sign featuring the face of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Time dims memories. I wonder if any onlooker at the demonstration saw the Khomeini sign and remembered those tense days of the Iranian hostage crisis, when Khomeini’s regime violated the traditional sanctity of the embassy and held 50 Americans for month after month while Jimmy Carter dithered. I wonder if any of the onlookers knew that Khomeini’s triumph in Iran in 1979 embodied the idea that Islamic law was superior to all other ways to order societies, and must be pressed forward by force. As Khomeini himself put it: “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world....But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.”
The goal of this conquest would be to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. As Khomeini put it: “What is the good of us [i.e., the mullahs] asking for the hand of a thief to be severed or an adulteress to be stoned to death when all we can do is recommend such punishments, having no power to implement them?”
Khomeini accordingly delivered notorious rebuke to the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace crowd: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]…. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”
Was the woman who carried Khomeini’s image in the Dearborn demonstration concerned about the human rights of women? Did she know that the Ayatollah himself married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight? Did she know that Khomeini called marriage to a girl before her first menstrual period “a divine blessing,” and advised the faithful: “Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house”?
It is unlikely that the protestor knew that in 1985, Sa’id Raja’i-Khorassani, the Permanent Delegate to the United Nations from the Islamic Republic of Iran, declared, according to Amir Taheri, that “the very concept of human rights was ‘a Judeo-Christian invention’ and inadmissible in Islam. . . . According to Ayatollah Khomeini, one of the Shah’s ‘most despicable sins’ was the fact that Iran was one of the original group of nations that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
I wonder if anyone at the Dearborn protest realized that the appearance of these signs in Dearborn, Michigan, exalting this man as a hero, indicated that Khomeini’s vision for society is alive in America today — and that it is dangerously naive to assume that all Muslims immediately and unquestioningly accept American pluralism and the idea of a state not governed by religious law. The Netherlands is just finding out, thanks to the cold-blooded murder and attempted decapitation of the “blasphemer” Theo van Gogh by a Muslim who appears to have been part of a larger jihadist cell, that not all the Muslims in Holland are the committed pluralists and secularists that they have been assumed to be by credulous European authorities.
With Khomeini a hero in Dearborn, Americans may be finding that out for themselves before long. Just where American Muslims stand on Khomeini’s doctrines — and how many stand with Khomeini — are still forbidden questions for the major media. But if the old man could have spoken from his sign in Dearborn, he might have said, “Ignore me at your own risk.”