Saudi King Abdullah has been urging the United Nations to pass a universal law prescribing imprisonment for criticizing Islam. Some skeptics, including myself (notwithstanding that I twice enjoyed the King's generous hospitality in Riyadh), have suggested he start instead by establishing religious liberty in his own country, where all religious observance other than Wahabi Islam is banned. Two events occurring last week -- the hideous carnage in Mumbai, accompanied by shameful proceedings at the U.N. -- convinced me it is urgent for His Majesty to radically alter his plans.
Since the U.N. actions were less publicized, let me begin there. A key U.N. committee passed by 85-50 the King's "Islamophobia" resolution, criminalizing any "defamation of religion," especially Islam. The General Assembly is expected to soon approve this measure. Governments will be directed to amend their criminal codes accordingly; the resolution will be incorporated into amorphous "customary international law," which liberal Supreme Court justices are relying on, notwithstanding that much of this "law" springs from anti-democratic sources. While "defamation of religion" conveys a sonorous label, Islamic countries consider "Islamophobic" any expression linking Islam to such subjects as 9/11, terror attacks, honor killings, suicide bombings, beheadings, executions by stoning, persecution of homosexuals, fatwas against authors, death threats to cartoonists, etc. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has decreed that even "hostile glances" are Islamophobic.
As I surveyed reportage about Mumbai, I wondered if the Islamophobia resolution, had already become universal law, perhaps quietly ratified by our Congress, while I wasn't looking. Most coverage was so infested with political correctness that the words Muslim, Islamic and terrorists were never linked. The most egregious offender (guess who?): the New York Times. In its summary articles, you must read to the seventh paragraph before finding a word as strong as "militant" (a despicable misnomer bequeathed by the lexicon of political correctness) used to describe the terrorists. The Times -- echoing its deliberate nearly invisible under-reporting of the Holocaust -- lied on the last day of the siege by saying "It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen or was an accidental hostage scene." CNN was equally terrified of offending terrorists. Most of the media refused to say that the killers were Islamic radicals; one might have thought they arrived from an un-named planet. Mehul Kamdar, a Chicago-based Indian writer, complained online "how extreme political correctness in the Western media keeps key information from being reported through self-censorship."
While full investigation must be awaited to identify the murderers definitively, it was apparent from the outset that the terrorists (I beg forgiveness for using that harsh word) were Islamic extremists. Who else, pray tell, would indiscriminately slaughter Hindus, Christians and Jews, i.e., anyone who was not Muslim, while shouting "Allahu Akhbar" (according to eye-witnesses)? If the media had used in 1941 the truth-avoiding restraints practiced today, Pearl Harbor would have been reported without using the word "Japanese." To erase all doubt, the terrorists told Indian TV during the attacks that they were protesting "mistreatment of Muslims." Notwithstanding, Britain's respected Channel 4 falsely claimed the "militants" showed "wanton disregard for race or creed." Turkish hostages were spared when they screamed "We are Muslims." Christians next to them were executed.
Alas, the media reflect unwillingness of society -- from the top down -- to face candidly the menace of Islamic radicalism. Messrs. Bush and Obama ritualistically condemned the attacks. Neither named the perpetrators. Bush misled us for years with the jargon "war against terror," instead of specifying the enemy. Obama spoke elliptically of combating "hateful ideology" without identifying it. Both leaders, like the media, gave us Pearl Harbor sans the Japanese. If we are to defeat the terrorists, we must name and understand them. And before I am hauled before the World Court on charges of Islamophobia, note I have not said the enemy is Islam. It is Islamic radicalism.
It is unacceptable racism to suggest that all Muslims support terrorism; nonetheless, it remains legitimate to ask why support for terrorism is widespread among Muslims. Palestinians danced in the streets on 9/11 and widespread approbation of the atrocity was found among Arabs (before the U.S. invasion of Iraq). Last week also brought the Dallas federal jury verdict finding the Holy Land Foundation -- America's largest Islamic charity -- guilty of funneling more than $12 million to support Hamas terrorists. A Chicago federal appeals court ruled significantly this week that it is unlawful to funnel money to an organization engaged in terrorism even if there is an effort to earmark the donation for nonviolent purposes.
King Abdullah, who once explained in my presence that his financial support of an infamous Hamas sheikh was merely "gifts to a sick old man," should tell us whether criticizing support of terrorists amounts to Islamophobia.
Sending ACLU Lawyers to Mumbai
While I have bi-partisanly disrespected the incoming and outgoing presidents for vacuous verbiage, let me emphasize one key difference between them. President Bush recognized after 9/11 that his prime responsibility was preventing reprise, as intended by al-Qaeda. He deserves hosannas for completely succeeding, albeit by utilizing harsh interrogations and intrusive surveillance as well as locking up enemy combatants. If you hated Bush's methods, you helped elect Senator Obama, who is entitled to pursue his own counter-terrorism agenda. I approve the moderate mettle of most of Obama's initial appointments, except -- most conspicuously -- the dangerous Harvard quack Samantha Power, who left the Obama campaign last summer after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." But last week, Obama dropped John Brennan, his respected Intel adviser, from consideration for a high position after the Leftist blogosphere went berserk over guilt by alleged association with "harsh" interrogations.
At an academic reunion in October, a brilliant Yale Law School panel, including the eminent Dean, could not answer coherently my question about what legal advice they would give to interrogators probing the intentions of a terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned 9/11 and slit Danny Pearl's throat. If the Obama team believes that we must treat terrorists like the Mumbai killers by reading them their rights and providing an ACLU lawyer, we are in for hard times. It is tragic that the Indians -- unlike our Administration -- did not draw meaningful lessons from the massive 2006 train bombings.
Which returns me to King Abdullah and his resentment over Islamophobia. The 9/11 terrorists received Islamic education in his country. The Mumbai terrorists were indoctrinated in mosques and madrassas in Pakistan and perhaps elsewhere. Some horrific defect in their Islamic education rendered them eager to slaughter non-Muslims. It is emerging that there may be a Saudi link to the group which apparently organized the assault on Mumbai in furthering its known commitment to continuous jihad as an obligation binding on all Muslims. No less authoritative a source than Husain Haqqani, the distinguished scholar presently serving as Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., wrote in 2006 about the group which sent the killers to Mumbai :
"The most significant jihadi group of Wahabi persuasion is Lashkar-e-Taiba (The Army of the Pure) founded in 1989 by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services, Lashkar-e-Taiba became the military wing of Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad (Center for the Call to Righteousness). Saeed created a large campus and training facility at Muridke, outside the Pakistani metropolis of Lahore."
Will Wahabi Scholars Condemn Massacres?
Thus, I respectfully suggest to the monarch that he alter his course. Instead of concentrating on trying to jail people in western countries for criticizing Islam, I suggest that our Government and media ask him: Why don't you load your formidable religious establishment -- ulema, sheikhs, imams, cadis, mullahs, jurisprudents -- on one of your jumbo jets and dispatch them on an intensive teaching mission to madrassas and Islamic schools around the world, starting in Pakistan. Islam is not a hierarchical religion, but it claims to respect teachers. The first lesson might be: Murder is wrong. The second: Mass murder is worse. The third: Non-Muslims are children of G-d who have a right to live. If the educational mission succeeds, there will be no need for an Islamophobia law. And many lives might be saved.