February 25, 2015
Make no mistake, the radical Islamic jihadist terrorist attacks in Paris strike at the very heartbeat of Western Civilization, namely freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. These freedoms are essential and priceless values of Western Civilization. In fact, the belief that freedom of speech is cherished as a universal right was enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 of which declares, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
For radical jihadists to slaughter cartoonists for offensive cartoons must not be tolerated. At this point, I believe it is important for me to state that personally I do not think people should mock or caricature religious figures or their followers’ faith convictions. I do not believe that people’s religious beliefs or family members should be mocked or vilified. We can and should analyze, discuss, and even argue people’s beliefs on the merits, not mock and caricature them. I know how offended I have been when I have seen a crucifix submerged in urine masquerading as a work of art. After all, as a Christian I am commanded to follow the “Golden Rule” and do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
Having said that, when people murder human beings who do mock and caricature such figures and convictions, then society has an obligation and a duty to stand up and say, “You are not going to bully or intimidate us.” I believe the correct response to this assault on our basic rights and freedoms is to say something along the lines of “I may disagree with everything someone is saying, and I defend to the death their right to say it.”
I believe every major print and electronic news outlet in this country ought to publish and broadcast the offending cartoons collectively on the same day. There is strength in numbers, and in doing this we as a society would be telling our enemies what our forefathers told those denying their rights almost 250 years ago: “Don’t Tread on Me!”
As the now murdered French cartoonist said in the face of previous jihadist threats, “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.”
In 1988, in the Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell case, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that the protection of the most vile and crude parodies of religious and other public figures. Justice William Rehnquist, writing for the majority in this notorious case, said, “At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern.” Justice Rehnquist went on to say that “the freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty—and thus a good unto itself—but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.”
We must exercise our rights, or we will lose them to these barbarians who are seeking to impose a hegemony of barbarism on the world through highjacking and perverting a religion. The radical Islamic jihadists want to seize and suppress our God-given freedoms of conscience, expression, and speech at the point of a sword, the barrel of a gun, or the explosion of a bomb.
These new Nazis must be confronted and defeated, not appeased. Without American courage, principles and leadership, such confrontation and defeat will not happen, just as the Nazis would not have been defeated without American leadership in World War II. However, American cannot do it alone. And at long last it looks as if real, powerful, potential and critical help is on the way—and it’s from within the Muslim world.
While the horrific consequences of the radical Islamic jihadist attacks in France have monopolized much of the focus of the world’s population, the past few days may have witnessed the beginning of a seismic shift in the Muslim and Arab world concerning the issue of radical Islamic jihadism. On January 1, of this year, the president of Egypt, Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, went to the Al-Azhar University (widely considered the most important center in the Arab world for Islamic doctrine and principles) in Cairo and delivered a speech that may be looked back upon as being as definitive an event historically as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech and Ronald Reagan’s, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech.
Egyptian president al Sisi delivered his speech directly to the Islamic clerics and scholars assembled at the university. Aiming his speech directly to the assembled imams and scholars, president al Sisi called upon them to lead a revolution within Islam. President al Sisi’s speech is truly remarkable:
I am addressing the religious scholars and clerics. We must take a long, hard look at the current situation. . . . it is inconceivable that the ideology that we sanctify
should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. . . . I am referring not to “religion” but to “ideology”—the body of ideas and texts That we have sanctified in the course of centuries . . . . It has reached the point that this (this ideology) is hostile to the entire world. . . .I say these things here, at Al-Azhar, before religious clerics and scholars.
May Allah bear witness on Judgment Day to the truth of your intentions, regarding what I say to you today. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked (in this theology). You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened theology . . . . let me say it again; we need to revolutionize our religion. . . .Honorable Imam (the Grand Sheik), you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We are ourselves are bringing it to perdition.
And Egypt’s president did not just talk. On Tuesday, January 6th, al Sisi attended a Coptic Christian mass (a first for any Egyptian president) and spoke of his deep affection for Egyptian Christians. Whatever one thinks of President al Sisi’s politics, these were bold and courageous actions, which could easily get him assassinated as was his predecessor President Sadat a generation ago.
It can also be the first sign of the beginning of a “reformation” within Islam that could be as significant historically as the one led by Martin Luther five centuries earlier.