NPR, Juan Williams, and Sharia Law
by Brigitte Gabriel and Guy Rodgers
NPR’s sacking of Juan Williams was more than the politically correct act du jour. It was the latest in a series of media and political capitulations to Sharia law.
A central provision of Sharia law is its prohibition against speech that can be construed as “defaming” Islam or the prophet Mohammed. Where Sharia is practiced and enforced, such “defamation” is a criminal offense that can be punished by death.
In other words, what we in America take for granted as free speech is a capital crime in some areas of the Muslim world.
Islamists around the world are seeking to impose Sharia’s muzzling of free speech on free societies. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, composed of 56 Islamic states, has won passage of a United Nations resolution calling on countries to criminalize speech that “defames” religion—clearly referring to Islam. After all, does anyone really expect countries like Saudi Arabia to criminalize speech that “defames” Judaism?
Criminalizing speech that is deemed “defamation” of Islam is tantamount to a backdoor enactment of Sharia law. The law may have a different name or description, such as prohibiting “hate speech,” but the effect on speech is the same as if Sharia law were in place.
The Netherlands and Austria are two countries where such de facto “Sharia-compliant” laws are in effect. Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders is currently on trial for publicly criticizing Islam. Austrian Parliamentarian Susanne Winter was convicted of a similar “crime” in early 2009. And just last week we were informed that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian who is an ACT! for America member and chapter leader in our expanding international program, will go on trial there for allegedly transgressing the same law.
When newspapers around the world, including most in America, refused to publish the satirical Mohammed cartoons, capitulation to de facto Sharia law occurred. The ostensible reason was to avoid “offending” or “inflaming” the Muslim world. The practical effect was a widespread media self-censorship that was every bit as much a compliance with Sharia law as if Sharia law were the actual law of the land.
Some Muslims and Islamic organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) argue that such self-censorship is necessary because without it “Islamophobia” will continue to rise. But there is more here than meets the eye.
Immediately after Juan Williams’ appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, CAIR swung into action and demanded that NPR “address” what Juan Williams said.
Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman, appeared on Megyn Kelly’s program on Fox News to defend CAIR’s actions. Tellingly, he failed to reiterate his comment made in a 1993 article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, in which he said, “I wouldn’t want to give the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”
CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad expressed a similar sentiment in 1998 when he was quoted in two California newspapers maintaining that “the Koran should be the highest authority in America.”
In other words, he wants Sharia law, not the Constitution, to be the supreme law of the land.
Contrast Hooper’s statement with one recently made by moderate and reformist Muslim Dr. Tawfik Hamid:
"Organizations like ACT! for America have come into existence because of the very real threat posed to free people everywhere by what some call “radical Islam” or “Islamism.” Sadly, the response I see from too many in the Muslim world is to reflexively label such efforts as “Islamophobic” rather than [to] conduct a serious evaluation of Islam that asks why so many non-Muslims harbor legitimate fears and concerns. I believe [that] the Muslim world needs to provide a peaceful understanding of the religion that unambiguously rejects the current mainstream teachings in Islam that promote hatred, discrimination, and violence. It is the responsibility of Islamic scholars to provide such alternative teaching to Muslims before asking the world to stop engaging in so-called “Islamophobia.”
Hamid’s reference to the harboring of “legitimate fears” by non-Muslims speaks directly to what Juan Williams was expressing. Don’t shut down free speech. Instead, we should encourage more speech that candidly addresses the threat of radical Islam and what that threat means to Americans, whether they are Muslim or non-Muslims.
It’s clear that NPR decided to make an example of Juan Williams for crossing a line into the Forbidden Zone of political correctness when he spoke out on the “sensitive” issue of Islam. But NPR’s action transcends the boundaries of political correctness. As newspapers did when they self-censored cartoon renderings of the prophet Mohammed, NPR sent an unmistakable message to Islamists worldwide that Sharia law, even when not formally the law of the land, trumps our First Amendment.