Monday, June 19, 2006

WSJ: At a U.S. Mosque, Path of Tolerance Leads to Tumult

Personally, I think everyone should subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. It is, by far, the best run and best written newspaper in the English language. Sadly, non-subscribers are not allowed access to it's excellent website, but the subscription fee is well worth the price, especially if you can qualify for the student rate.

Most people think the WSJ is all about stocks, bonds and business...and it is...but there's a lot more to the paper that non-subscribers realize.

For example, in today's edition there is an excellent article about the power struggle between Muslims here in the USA, and as you can imagine, the voices of moderation are losing out to the voices of extremism.

In one particular mosque in San Francisco, a rather extreme iman sued a mosque known for it's moderate stance, after the mosque fired him. As you might guess, the extremist iman won the case...(after all, it was tried in San Francisco...)

Here's an interestsing excerpts from the article:
Sheik Safwat filed suit against the Islamic Society in April 2003, accusing the mosque of illegally firing him in retaliation for exposing corruption. At the time, U.S. forces were invading Iraq and emotions among Muslims everywhere were raw. "They have declared religious war against Islam," Sheik Safwat told followers at his new mosque, Noor Al-Islam, according to a San Francisco Chronicle account. "It is a new Crusade." He said he blamed the U.S. government, not the American people.

Mr. Ghali, although he is not a professional imam, gave a sermon that same day at the Islamic Society. He urged restraint, the newspaper reported. "We are misunderstood," he said. "Allah demands that we be patient and wise. Let not the hatred of others allow you to swerve to wrong and depart from justice."

A few weeks later, as Baghdad itself was falling, Sheik Safwat delivered a tirade against infidel invaders and called for holy war to redeem Muslim lands. This sermon, captured in a cassette recording, was professionally translated and submitted as evidence in the court case.

Sheik Safwat, invoking familiar extremist rhetoric for his Sunni listeners, blamed the fall of Iraq on connivance by the "traitor" Shiites and Arab heads of states, whom he branded "agents of treason." The sheik also said he saw the hand of the "sons of Zion," the Jews. With the fall of Baghdad, he said, Israel had "realized" its dominion "from the Nile to the Euphrates."

He praised martyrdom. While the Muslim dead of Jerusalem, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Sudan were in paradise, he said, the infidel dead were burning in hell. "The beacon of the jihad will not be extinguished by the tank and will not be extinguished by the airplanes," he said. "The clash of civilizations and the combat of cultures and the recapture of the land and honor, this is what believers are waiting for."

In another sermon, the sheik adopted the slogan used by the Palestinian political party Hamas to reject Israel's right to exist: "Palestine, from the sea to the river."

Mr. Allababidi, who serves as the Noor Al-Islam mosque's general secretary, says the sheik won't elaborate on the 2003 sermons because they're a "distraction" from "the corruption" at the Islamic Society mosque.

At the trial, the jury had to decide how much credence to give Mr. Ghali's claim that the mosque had properly fired the sheik for his extremist rhetoric. Jurors never heard the sheik's later sermons because the judge ruled that evidence from after the sheik's 2002 firing was irrelevant to the case. Mr. Ghali testified that the sheik told him twice that the best way to deal with Jews was to "slaughter" them. Mr. Memon, the lawyer and former mosque worshiper, testified that the sheik told followers to "emulate" suicide bombers. Another attorney testified she'd heard Sheik Safwat preach hate at the Islamic Society's regular Friday services.

The sheik and his lawyer maintained that Mr. Ghali and his allies had capitalized for years on their positions at the mosque for financial gain. They showed the jury blowups of canceled checks written to "cash" and donation receipts allegedly inflated for tax purposes. They cast doubt on the two attorneys' testimony about hateful preaching, noting that neither spoke Arabic and both relied on simultaneous translations of the sheik's sermons. Some Muslim scholars testified that they knew the sheik to be a peace-loving man.

<>< TM


Changeit said...

Is that boat yours?

theodicy said...

No, the boat pictured isn't's just a picture of a boat I found on the Internet.

I love boats, but don't wish to own one.

<>< TM