Can You Be a Good Muslim and a Good American?
There are many Muslims in the US who are both good Muslims and good Americans. They "get it" when it comes to free speech and the separation of church and state. It doesn't mean they don't hate the Innocence of Muslims film and won't protest against it in a similar way Christians protested against the Andrew Serrano photo "Piss Christ." But it does mean that they have successfully assimilated and adopted the American reverence for freedom of thought and expression.
But for some Muslims activists who don't "get it," there is advocacy for international anti-blasphemy laws that would make our First Amendment a hollow shell.
Led by a newspaper publisher, Muslim activists will call for putting limits on American free speech at a Dearborn rally this evening. You can't make this stuff up.
Nearly a decade after Dearborn's streets celebrated America for bringing down Saddam Hussein and opening a door to democracy in the Mideast, the same city will be the epicenter today of calls to squelch free speech. Protesting the film, "Innocence of Muslims," that has sparked protests in the Mideast, rally organizer Tarek Baydoun says that so-called blasphemy laws are necessary to prevent speech that hurts the "the religious feelings of Muslims."
This assault on the First Amendment in the name of the prophet Mohammed is a sad day in America - and confirms fears that Muslim-American activists do not understand the fundamental separation of church and state in the American Constitution.
"There is a need for deterrent legal measures against those individuals or groups that want to damage relations between people, spread hate and incite violence," said Arab-American News publisher Osama Siblani, a self-proclaimed "moderate" who is apparently oblivious to how gutting the First Amendment would affect his own business.
The Dearborn organizers seek an international law banning what they define as anti-Mohammed speech that would supersede American law. The rally comes just days after President Obama reaffirmed America's commitment to free speech in a U.N. address.
But the rally also comes as Fox News reports that the Obama Administration knowingly lied about the deadly attack on the Libyan embassy. Contrary to claims that "Benghazi-gate" was a spontaneous rally protecting the anti-Mohammed film, officials now admit that the rally was a pre-panned terrorist attack. Siblani & Co. say they condemn the violence - which ABC News now says had nothing to do with the film - but are using the film to advance their anti-free speech agenda.
Advocating for anti-blasphemy laws may make you a good Muslim in some sense but a lousy American. That newspaper editor is oblivious. Suppose another pressure group got together and advocated that all Muslim media be silenced? What moral leg would he have to stand on if someone came after his free speech rights?
I have no idea how broad the support is for anti-blasphemy laws among US Muslims. I suspect it's significant -- perhaps even a plurality. But second and third generation Muslim immigrants are far more secular oriented and, like every other immigrant group who has come to our shores, eventually sloughs off old habits and old beliefs to adapt to their new home.
You can be a good Muslim and a good American. All it takes is a recognition that the rights Muslims enjoy as Americans are for everyone and are there to guarantee our freedom.
Sadly, some Dearborn Muslims have failed this basic citizenship test.
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