In Egypt Islam becomes too fragile for criticism
In Cairo on Wednesday, a Coptic Christian blogger named Alber Saber was convicted of blasphemy and “contempt of religion.” There’s a tragic irony: As any of the country’s Christians can tell you, contempt of religion is not merely permitted but encouraged in the new, post-Mubarak Egypt. What is criminal, what has become increasingly perilous, is any criticism of Islam.
Nor is truth a defense. Another Egyptian court recently upheld the blasphemy conviction of Makarem Diab, also a Coptic Christian. Diab had gotten into a discussion with a Muslim acquaintance, Abd al-Hameed, who, in the course of mocking Diab’s faith, insisted that Jesus was a serial fornicator. Diab countered Hameed’s baseless taunt with an assertion most Islamic scholars regard as accurate: namely, that Mohammed had more than four wives. Yet, because the context of Diab’s assertion evinced an intention to cast Islam’s prophet in an unfavorable light, Diab was prosecuted for “insulting the prophet” and “provoking students.” He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.
This is now everyday life in Egypt. It is also certain to be the future of Egypt. The overwhelmingly Islamist population, having first elected Islamic supremacists led by the Muslim Brotherhood to top leadership positions, is now poised to adopt a constitution that is founded on sharia, Islam’s totalitarian legal framework, and that expressly enshrines these blasphemy standards. But the problem is not just sharia in Egypt. Sharia is here.
About three weeks ago, another Egyptian court sentenced seven people to death after convicting them in absentia on blasphemy charges. Most of the seven are in the United States. Most of them are Coptic Christians; one is a Florida-based pastor who is a blistering critic of Islamic scripture. The charges relate to the defendants’ alleged involvement in “Innocence of Muslims,” an obscure amateur video that Islamists have frivolously cited as a pretext for their latest round of international mayhem — and that the Obama administration has fraudulently portrayed as the catalyst of a massacre in Benghazi in which jihadists killed four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya.
So how has President Obama responded to the Egyptian government’s human-rights violations, its failure to protect the Copts from persecution (indeed, its willing participation in that persecution), and its provocations against Americans — which now include ordering their killing, through a kangaroo-court process that flouts our due-process standards, over their engagement in activity that is expressly protected by our Constitution?
Well . . . the president has announced that not only will he continue funding Egypt’s Islamist government, but he intends to include in that U.S. aid the provision of 20 F-16 fighter jets. Moreover, Obama is continuing his administration’s collaboration with the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the “Istanbul Process.” That is the OIC’s campaign to impose sharia’s repressive blasphemy standards.
The most recent aggression in this blasphemy enterprise — a years-long, carefully plotted OIC campaign to snuff out American free-speech rights under the guise of “defamation of religion” — is U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18. It calls on Western governments to outlaw “any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has zealously colluded with the OIC in seeking the implementation of 16/18. Notwithstanding her contortions, it is a gross violation of the First Amendment. Our law permits the criminalization of incitement to violence only when an agitator willfully calls for violence. Our Constitution does not abide what the resolution is designed to achieve: the heckler’s veto and, worse, the suppression of speech predicated on mob intimidation — the legitimation of barbaric lawlessness.
Nor does the Constitution’s guarantee of free expression tolerate the outlawing of speech that prompts discrimination, much less hostility. And contrary to administration hairsplitting, it makes no difference that the resolution would not “criminalize” expression that prompts discrimination or hostility. To quote the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law” suppressing protected speech. It does not say “Congress shall make no criminal law.” No law means no law — no civil law, rule, regulation, guideline, etc.
...Since blasphemy laws are clearly unconstitutional the Clinton Obama exercise is one to pretend otherwise to curry the favor of Islamic governments. It is the idiocy of "smart diplomacy" at work. We should be standing up for freedom.