Australian Justice Peter Johnson knows all about Islam, and isn’t afraid to explain the religion to errant Muslims who misunderstand it with dangerous consequences. According to Australia’s 9 News, Johnson last Friday lectured Bourhan Hraichie, a hardline and unrepentant Islamic jihadist who plotted to kill cops and carved an Islamic State slogan on another prisoner’s forehead, about Hraichie’s religion. Hraichie reportedly “cheered as he was sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court. He interjected at various points, including when Justice Peter Johnson said his beliefs were based on a ‘distorted understanding of Islam.’”
Some might find Justice Peter Johnson, a non-Muslim, to be hubristic. Why should he presume to tell a man who had dedicated his life to understanding Islamic teachings properly and living them out scrupulously that he was getting Islam all wrong, terribly wrong? The oddity of this becomes all the more glaring in light of the fact that Johnson doesn’t know of some Islamic texts or principles that Hraichie is ignoring, but because the implications of the possibility that Hraichie might be applying Islamic texts as their authors intended them to be applied is too terrible for him to contemplate.
This has happened before. Justice Johnson is just the latest in a long line of judges who have lectured Islamic jihadis about how they’re misunderstanding their peaceful, cuddly religion. The only problem here is that jihadis, as The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS shows, for 1,400 years have invoked core Islamic teachings to justify their violence. Peter Johnson, in reality, doesn’t know the first foggiest thing about Islam, but he thinks he does, because many people he trusts and respects have assured him that it’s a Religion of Peace, and he has also been taught that the only people who think otherwise are racist, bigoted “Islamophobes.” Bourhan Hraichie is no racist, bigoted “Islamophobe,” but clearly the poor lamb has been improperly instructed in his religion. If only Peter Johnson had been there in the mosque to teach him the true Islam.
The most outrageous case of a non-Muslim judge censuring a jihadi for transgressing the tenets of a religion the judge knows nothing about came back in 2013, when two Muslims, Mujaahid Abu Hamza and Ismail ibn Abdullah, aka Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, killed British soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight on a London street and explained why they did it: “We are forced by the Qur’an, in Sura At-Tawba [the Qur’an’s ninth chapter, which contains its clearest commands to wage jihad against unbelievers], through many ayah [verses] in the Qu’ran, we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Justice Nigel Sweeney told them in response: “You each converted to Islam some years ago. Thereafter you were radicalised and each became an extremist, espousing views which, as has been said elsewhere, are a betrayal of Islam.” This enraged them, and they began a fight in the courtroom. It would have been interesting to have seen Mufti Sweeney explain what exactly was a betrayal of Islam in their actions, but he didn’t, because he couldn’t.
This is because the Qur’an says, “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors” (2:190). That “do not transgress” has often been interpreted by Islamic scholars as meaning that Muslims should not begin hostilities; it is a foundation for defensive jihad. But in this case, as the killer himself made clear, he believed that the soldier was fighting Muslims in Islamic lands — Iraq and Afghanistan. So the soldier was already fighting Muslims, and the killer would have thought that he was not “transgressing” by therefore fighting “in the way of Allah those who fight you” — i.e., the Muslims.
And how is one to fight them? “And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers” (2:191). “Kill them wherever you overtake them” — even on, say, a street in Woolwich.
Until authorities all over the free world come to grips with the fact that there is ample Islamic justification for such murders, and stop playing games with their Let’s Play Pretend version of Islam, there will be many more such killings.
Bob Dylan had Johnson’s and Sweeney’s number when he sang about “false hearted judges dyin’ in the webs that they spin/Only a matter of time til night comes steppin’ in.” Indeed, and it will come steppin’ in thanks to Johnson, Sweeney, and the multitude of other authorities all over the West who hold the same assumptions.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His new book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.