Islamophobia’s Victory over Freedom of Speech and the Criminalization of Christianity

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We Americans have been overwhelmed by the polemics surrounding Somali-born House Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for a 2012 Tweet: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awake the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Last Thursday, following days of debate over comments by Omar that many lawmakers said were anti-Semitic—to say nothing of her public and favorable sentiments towards terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah—the House of Representatives, by a vote of 427 to 23, passed House Resolution 183 (H. Res. 183) condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. The legislatures who opposed the resolution, all Republicans, wanted a measure that focused solely on anti-Semitism. Instead, they were met by Muslim lobbyists who were able to convince Congress to also incorporate their own purported grievances, thereby giving more leeway to Islamists who wish to impose their draconian-sharia norms in our society, and isolate, if not criminalize, Christianity.

The Preamble H. Res. 183 condemns “anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and [likewise condemn] anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.” Notice how Christians were left out. Judging by this, it seems as if everything is fine at the O. K. Coral for those of us who profess Jesus Christ, so long as we do not try to defend or live by our teachings, especially with regard to the family: marriage between man and woman, as well as the right for parents to form their children without government interference. 

Yes, the bill does mention President John F. Kennedy’s then-accusation of dual loyalty because of his Catholic faith as an example of religious bigotry in our nation’s history. It also does remind us of the murder of the nine African American worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015 by a white supremacist. I am not lamenting the fact that Christians were omitted from the H. Res. 183 list, nor am I contesting that Jews have not been racially targeted and discriminated against, and that they, as with anyone, should not have to undergo racism. But how many times have Christians in our own nation have been discriminated against for refusing to accept what  is contrary to the Gospels, such as accepting same-sex unions as a civil right? Or acknowledgement of the LGBT Pride Month, something President Donald Trump has also reject his first two years in office — incidentally, the LGBT was listed in the H. Res. 183. Let us also not forget the mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obama Care) that penalized Catholic hospitals and institutions for refusing to provide coverage for abortions to their employees. These, among numerous other discriminatory acts that violated our freedom of religion were not mentioned.

The ultimate concern is that questioning, let alone pointing out, some of the hatred and the call for violence against non-Muslims found in the texts Muslim hold sacred: the Quran and the hadiths, is automatically identified as unwarranted prejudice against Muslims; it is categorized as Islamophobia. The term Islamophobia is a neologism without any fixed meaning that is normally used to refer to two polarized phenomena: physical attacks and harassment of innocent Muslims, which are never justifiable, and an objective examination of how Islamists refer to their texts and teachings to justify hatred, violence, and other forms of oppression. Protagonists, such as Linda Sarsour and Ilhan Omar have personified themselves in the media as victims of religious hatred. With the help of philanthropists, such as George Soros, and organizations like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the American Civil Liberties Union they have orchestrated conditions through public communications utilizing defensive terminology and accusing anyone who questions their intentions of racism or Islamophobia. This Islamophobia campaign, which is already sublty impeding our right to free speech and exercise of religion has just not been an American dilemma.

In the Sunderland region of the United Kingdom, it was discovered just a few days that an elementary school imposed a homework assignment upon the children to write a letter to their families about converting to Islam. The schools justification, according to its principal Nicola Cooper: “At Kepier [the aforementioned school] we feel it is very important to introduce our learners to all faiths and cultures and we do this throughout the academic year.” Could you imagine had she been asked to write a letter as to why she should maintain her Christian faith? All hell would have probably broken loose for religious intolerance. Yet the step-step-father of a twelve-year-old girl student who objected his daughter’s project was classified as a racist and had his life threatened on social media.

Let us also not forget that last year, also in the UK, the arrest of Tommy Robinson for “breaching the peace” after live streaming outside a courthouse and reading aloud the charges against several alleged members of a Muslim rape gang. And in 2017 German politician Laleh Hadjimohamadvali was accused of Islamophobia for saying that Islam was “worse than the plague” in light of Muslims who had become politically stronger in Germany with the goal of taking over. Her accusation was notwithstanding that she was born in Iran and fled to Germany to get away from the draconian tenets of Islam in the 1980s after the 1979 Iranian Revolution led to the establishment of an Islamic Republic.

As a Catholic priest, I believe that the fullness of the truth of God is found in Jesus Christ and must follow up on His last command: “Go out and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Why else would I have chosen to become a priest if I thought differently? This is a natural right we are allowed to exercise and should not be restrained from doing so, so long as we do not seek to forcibly  impose our beliefs upon anyone. Yet it is as if silence has become the norm for us Christians in Western society, for God forbid we speak up in defense and promotion of our tenets. It would almost seem as if, notwithstanding the First Amendment prohibition to recognize any established religion, it has given preference to Islam as the “chosen” religion of America since it is beyond the reach of critique.

I am all for legislation that is against any type of racial discrimination. The H. Res. 183, however, does not seem to altogether do this. Whether it becomes law or not, its passage in the House is reflective of the times we live in — we cannot question the religious motives of a Muslim who engages into terrorism or commits other types of violence in the name of Islam for then we risk in being discriminated against. Raising concern about this in the public realm should not classify one as an Islamophobe or as a racist — I was actually accused of being a fascist in Italy where I live because of my book on Islam and other publications that have highlighted the dilemma. That being said, If I may be so bold so as to invite lawmakers who seek to defend Muslims against “Islamophobia” or any type of hate speech to read verse 6 of the 98th sura in the Quran: “Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.” Or verse 55 of the 8th sura: “Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the kafirs [disbelievers = Christians and Jews].” If this is not hate speech, tell me what is?