“PROMINENT NJ IMAM”
“Free Speech that Mocks Islam is National Security Treat For U.S.”
Allowing hostile Koranimals to settle among us causes the security threat, not free speech.
There are religions that promote turning the other cheek even when mocked, but it appears Islam is not one of them. According to one of the most prominent imams in North America, IslamÂ neverÂ condones violence, but it also, under no uncertain terms, “everaccepts” speaking ill of the Prophet Muhammad.
In fact, so grave is mockery of the prophet considered, that the cleric â€“Â Mohammad Qatanani, who leadsÂ one of the largest mosques in New Jersey â€“Â even believes free speech that criticizes Islam poses a national security threat to the U.S. and that those responsible should be investigated by the Department of Homeland Security.
“We, as Americans,Â have to put limits and borders [on] freedom of speech,”Â Qatanani, leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), told TheBlaze.Â He explained that while Americans mayÂ ”haveÂ theÂ freedom“Â to speak their mind, ultimately, they “have noÂ rightÂ to [talk about Muslim] holy issues“ as it will incite ”hatred or war among people.”
- Islamopproved: Hollywood Begins Hiring Muslim Clerics To Censor Movies Of Whatever They Deem Offensive To IslamÂ (Pat Dollard)
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last week expressed concern about free speech because sometimes it can be “used to provoke or humiliate.”–Eliasson’s boss Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said last month that using “freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs” was not worthy of protection. Rather, Ban Ki-moon indicated that such freedom only deserved protection when “used for common justice, common purpose.”
- High U.N. Official Calls Free Speech a ‘Gift: Â ’Free speech is a “gift given to us by the [Universal] Declaration of Human Rights,” said Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson during a press conference on October 2nd at UN headquarters in New York.Â It is “a privilege,” Eliasson said, “that we have, which in my view involves also the need for respect, the need to avoid provocations.” Â»
Qatanani said he thinks agitators who slander Islam, or, more specifically, the Prophet Muhammad, incite violence and hence, pose aÂ national security risk that threatens the safety of Americans at home and abroad. Thus,Â America should disregard its First Amendment as it is typically applied and instead act in accordance with sharia law for the ultimate “good” of society.
Well, not quite: there is still a bit of resistance:
Lawyers Rally in Defense of Anti-Muslim Filmmaker
Policinski and others say that Nakoula’s case should be watched closely. There isÂ growing concern that the maker of the anti-Muslim film may be unfairly targeted for his inflammatory film.
“Anytime the government moves against someone who has clearly said something the government doesn’t like, there is a requirement for the rest of us to watch that very closely, to see whether it is justified or is a content-based argument that violates the first amendment. We assert our rights, but we also need to protect that,” he said.–What happened toÂ first amendment protections for our right of free speech?
In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze, the cleric, who wasÂ nearly deportedÂ in 2008 for failing to disclose his former ties to the terrorist organization Hamas on a 1996 Green Card application, explained that Muslims are required by Islam to respect the law of the land in their host-countries. He followed up that statement, however, with a treatise on howÂ those who slander the prophet be pursued legally.
While some leaders within the Muslim community have spoken out against the anti-America driven violence in the Middle East, many have qualified their condemnation with moralÂ equivalence, treating a film dubbed “InnocenceÂ ofÂ Muslims” (which some claim served as theÂ catalystÂ for the attacks), with even harsher disdain than they do murder. Qatanani saidÂ the Obama White House should take legal action against the filmmakers.
“My position is that White House has to say strong in its condemnation [of the filmmakers] and take this person to court. If he is innocent, we will accept that… The government has strong case against this person.”
When asked what can be done to prevent future attacks, QatananiÂ invokedÂ Homeland Security again,Â suggesting that the department actually step-in to prevent artists, composers, movie-makers, orÂ satirists (among others), from producing works critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.Â He believes it is in America’s best interest to quell this kind of free speechÂ as it “ruins” America’s image abroad and will ultimately hurt people.
Qatanani’s statements make it appear that, in so many words, the cleric is advocating for the U.S. to operate by sharia law â€“Â theÂ religious lawÂ ofÂ Islam â€“Â when it comes to freedom of speech as it relates to Islam. If so, it would seem toÂ echo comments in a previous report on TheBlaze outlining Islamists’Â “10-year plan” to make slandering Islam unlawful on an international level.Â
American freedom versus Islamic freedom
One of the most revealing insights made by the controversial faith leader came when he juxtaposed American freedom with the type of freedom permitted under sharia law.
The imam acknowledged that observant Muslims view freedom only through the lens of that which is permitted by the Quran and Sunnah, the two sacred texts of Islam, and is therefore much different from the way Americans view freedom.
“They [Muslims] think our [American] freedoms are too much,” Qatanani said. “The freedom of the American people is so different from their [Muslims’] freedoms. We believe freedoms have limits and rules, otherwise we will get people into trouble…Freedom according to Islam must be according to the QuranÂ andÂ Sunnah. You can do [anything] you like within the teachings of these two resources. This is the difference and main reason [for the conflict].”
A different standard of freedom?
“People there [in the Middle East] don’t understand the American Constitution and freedom of speech,” Qatanani said. We have toÂ understandÂ each other because misunderstanding is a killing issue… The issue of Prophet Muhammad is very delicate â€“ they [Muslims] willÂ not acceptÂ in any way, anybody who talks badly about Muhammad.”
He went on to explain that not even Jesus or Moses, who Muslims also revere as heroes and prophets, would be permitted to speak ill of their ultimate Prophet Muhammad andÂ statedÂ emphatically, and repeatedly, during the interview that Muslims willÂ neverÂ “accept”Â or tolerate such slander even in the U.S. under the auspices of freedom of speech.
At one point Qatanani said that it is essentially fine to mock Jesus or Moses (as Americans often satire various religious figures) but that is absolutely verbotenÂ to mock Muhammad. Later, he added that Muslims would be equally upset if anyone were to slander Christian or Jewish figureheads.
On the embassy attacksÂ
At the end of the day Qatanani was consistent in his call for peace, however, he was particularly fixated on the “InnocenceÂ of Muslims” as egregious enough to justify violence.
“I believe the producer of the film’s [goal] was to have people hate each other. We are against theÂ bad reaction,Â but the producerÂ wantsÂ people to react that way [rioting]. He has a hidden agenda.”
In fairness, TheBlaze has reported that the filmmakers appear to be dubious characters with checkered pasts, and perhaps even ill-intentions. That said, they were certainly within their “right” under American law to produce the movie, whether tasteful or not. Qatanani pressed that irrespective of context, such movies and rhetoric will be exploited by extremists and thus, America has a responsibility to prevent inflammatory material that could agitateÂ jihadists from reaching the mainstream.
An interesting point to note was thatÂ throughoutÂ the discussion, Qatanani repeatedly called for peaceful action andÂ condemnedÂ violence as beingÂ anathemaÂ to true Islam. Conversely, heÂ referred to the attacks on U.S. embassies abroad that left a U.S. ambassador, two Navy SEALs and one additional civil servant dead, as merelyÂ ”a bad reaction.”
He then repeated calls for peace and maintained that such “bad reactions” go directly against Islam’s peaceful nature.
“We condemn anyÂ bad reactionÂ that is not peaceful. That is not Islamically acceptable, even by the teachings of the prophet. It is unacceptable.”
So whoÂ isÂ Qatanani?
Qatanani’sÂ notorietyÂ soared in 2008 when U.S.Â immigrationÂ authorities attempted to deport him.
Born in the Palestinian city of Nablus, Qatanani wasÂ arrested, pleaded guilty and was convicted in an Israeli military court in 1993 for aiding Hamas during an uprising that same year. When he immigrated to the United States in 1996, the cleric failed to include information about his ties to the terrorist group on his U.S. Green Card application. TheÂ omission, along with the cleric’s checkered past, prompted immigration officials to file a motion to deport Qatanani and his family.
Qatanani and his attorneys have since minimized the cleric’s history, maintaining that he was merely among hundreds of other PalestiniansÂ detained during the uprising and that he had been convicted in absentia and later subjected to harsh interrogation tactics, even “torture.”
Ultimately, Qatanini and his family were granted permanent residency in 2008, but the case is currently being appealedÂ through the New Jersey Immigration Court of Appeals. HeÂ is alsoÂ suingthe FBI and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency for the release of any records that bear relevance on his ability to remain in the U.S. The imamÂ filed his suit under the Freedom of Information Act in a U.S. District Court in Newark at the end of June, 2012. His suit claims the ofÂ Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have ignored his requests for records for more than five months.
It should also be noted that Qatanani has been much admired, not only in the Muslim community but interfaith communities as well. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hasÂ even embracedÂ the cleric, calling him a “friend.”
So what does one of America’s most high-profile and perhaps controversial Islamic scholars think is really behind the animus Islamists harbor for the West? “Miseducation.”
According to Qatanani, “miseducation on both sides” is fanning the flames of discontent in the “Muslim or Arab world…and the solution is education for everyone.” For the cleric, misunderstanding can, and clearly has, led to “killing.”
“The people here don’t understand the Arab world, how they think and deal with holy issues â€” issues related to the Quran and Prophet Muhammad,” the imam told TheBlaze.
The imam clarified his position by saying that there is an onus on each and every person â€” Muslim or not â€” to weigh the potential harm that could come from his or her words. The message Qatanani was attempting to convey is that “we have to stop” putting people’s lives in danger and sabotaging Muslim-American relations with anti-Islamic language and imagery. He did not address the lives that are put in danger fromÂ actualÂ acts of agression waged by Muslims who are not respecting another culture’s “law of the land.”
Qatanani said that in these sensitive times following the Arab Spring, Muslims abroad “want to be close to America” but that saboteurs are getting in the way. “I believe that understanding each other and education is the key,” QatananiÂ said, adding that cross-pollinationÂ is possible if Muslim and American scholars travel to one another’s regions to educate the public.
“So we need to build that bridge. The Muslims living here in U.S. can do that.”