A Tribal Discrepancy

Kalashnikov Ammunition & ISIS Propaganda Seized After Paris Mosque Closure – (Link to news article)

Wow. In France, they have now closed 3 mosques, raided 2,235 buildings (including homes and mosques), arrested 232 people, and found 334 “weapons of war” and Jihadist tracts and videos.

I have to admit that, in light of his recent controversial comments, the first thing I thought was, “I wonder if Donald Trump is on to something”. Although barring admission into the US to a particular class of aliens is not without precedent, it’s most certainly a radical move made on the edge of a slippery slope. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful people who love their families, pray and give alms, and generally live good lives. But in light of the current state of the world, is what Trump is proposing actually unwise?

There is an assumption that, because jihadist propaganda was found in these French Mosques, the guns and ammo they seized were weapons intended to be used in jihadist activities; namely, terrorism. While not an established fact, it’s certainly a logical assumption and more plausibly true than not.

The can of worms in all of this is that according to the news article, “between 100 and 160 more mosques will be closed because they are run illegally without proper licenses, they preach hatred, or use takfiri speech.”

hate-speechIt’s the part about hate speech that got me thinking. How are they defining hate speech? According to Wikipedia, takfiri is a Sunni Muslim who accuses another Muslim (or an adherent of another Abrahamic faith) of apostasy. The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (unbeliever), and is described as “when one who is, or claims to be, a Muslim is declared impure”.

I am an American who was raised in a country where I am guaranteed a right to free speech, so the act of simply accusing someone of apostasy doesn’t rise to the level of “hate speech” in my world. However, as we’ve seen, there are Muslims that consider apostasy worthy of punishment and even death. (With some Quranic foundation. See: Quran 4:89) Furthermore, a reasonable link can be made between hateful speech toward specific groups of people (which I’ll call “tribes” for the sake of simplicity) and violence.

Not all tribes who speak hatefully about other tribes escalate to violence, of course. But it’s fair to assume that tribes who commit violence against other tribes have also spoken out against them in a hateful manner. Therefore we could reasonably conclude that hateful speech by one tribe toward another tribe could be considered an indicator of the potential for future violence on the part of the hateful tribe.

Which brings up the issue of tribal differences. If a Christian or Jew accuses someone in their faith of apostasy, it’s not even interesting enough to make the local newspaper, much less lead to a violent attack on the apostate and his family. Even wantonly hateful speech and actions, like those of the Westboro Baptist church against other Christians, does not lead to bombings and massacres.

This is not the case with some Muslims. Even hatred for cartoons that made jokes about Islamic leaders and Muhammad can lead to violence, as we saw in the case of Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, and the failed Curtis Culwell Center attack in Garland, Texas.

american-mosqueSo how would all this Mosque-raiding play out here in the US, the land of guns and free speech? Do American Muslims have the right to defend themselves with guns? Absolutely! So how would we justify taking away guns found in American mosques? Do American Muslims have the right to exercise free speech? Absolutely! So how would we justify closing down American mosques for using takfiri speech?

The question we should all be all asking is this: given the recent attacks by Islamic terrorists, how can we best keep Americans safe from this kind of violence? It’s a thorny problem that brings to mind the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

A lot of what we’re experiencing here in the US is fear of the unknown. Most Americans aren’t Muslim, so most of us don’t know what’s going on or being taught in the Mosques near us. I am calling on peace-loving American Muslims to find the courage to speak out much more loudly against terror attacks committed by Muslims. And I am calling on them to report suspicious behavior in their own communities and Mosques. That’s what I would do if came across a stash of assault rifles or KKK propaganda in my church!

Share your thoughts.