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Feds Move Against Iranian Mosques; 1st Amendment Rears Its Head

November 12th, 2009 - 10:47 pm

The action against the Shiite Muslim mosques is sure to inflame relations between the U.S. government and American Muslims, many of whom are fearful of a backlash after last week’s Fort Hood shooting rampage, blamed on a Muslim American major.

“we are concerned that the seizure of American houses of worship could have a chilling effect on the religious freedom of citizens of all faiths and may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

As luck would have it, that Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the featured subject in today’s Washington Times.  The article suggests that CAIR–which has never registered as a lobbying organization– has skated very close to the edge of acting as an advocate for Iran.  Which squares the circle:  religious freedom is invoked to protect organizations that, according to the Feds, act to spread the doctrines used to recruit terrorists, and to advance the interests of the Iranian regime.

We will have plenty of time to debate the fine points, one of which is whether religious speech is subject to any restriction.  Justice Holmes said that there is no right to (falsely) yell “fire” in a crowded theater;  even the First Amendment doesn’t permit anyone to say anything.  Is it unreasonable to ban calls to jihad?  Lord knows that “hate speech” is punished all over the Western world nowadays.  Doesn’t incitement to violence, let alone murder, qualify?

We’ll get some answers.  Not quickly, of course;  those wheels of justice grind slowly.  But at least it’s on the docket now.  We need this debate.  We should have had it long since.  But on at least one point there should be no disagreement.  If the Feds are right, the Alavi Foundation collects rent in the U.S. and send the profits to Tehran.  That’s just not acceptable.

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