We hear a lot about the so-called War on Women these days. Usually, it’s in the context of some Democrat accusing some Republican of waging that war by allegedly denying women access to abortion or birth control—as if those were the only things women should care about. The truth is there really is a War on Women going on today, but the most vocal opponents of this war always seem to be looking in the wrong places for it.
On Thursday, a Sudanese Christian woman, who is 8 months pregnant, was sentenced to death for refusing to deny her faith. Twenty-six-year-old Meriam Ibrahim was raised as a Christian by her mother after her Muslim father left them when she was a small child. Her father’s family claims she was born a Muslim and turned away from Islam when she married a Christian man, Daniel Wani, who is from southern Sudan and is also an American citizen. He fled Sudan as a child during the civil war and then returned.
In Sudan, it’s unlawful under shariah law for a woman to marry outside the Muslim faith, and unlawful for anyone to turn away from Islam (apostasy). However, Meriam contends Christianity is all she’s ever known: “I was never a Muslim. I was raised a Christian from the start.”
Along with the death sentence, the court in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum also said she should be given 100 lashes for having “illegitimate” sexual relations with her husband (because he’s a Christian), whom she officially married in 2011. The couple also has an 18-month-old son who has been in jail with Meriam. Her lawyer is planning to appeal this conviction saying that the judge was “thinking more of Islamic Shariah laws than of the country’s laws and its constitution” when he claimed Meriam’s marriage was void due to marrying a Christian.
In recent years, many Sudanese have been convicted of apostasy, but escaped execution when they recanted their faith. Short of a miracle, Meriam Ibrahim will face death by hanging for her faith in Jesus Christ. Amnesty International has come out in support of Meriam calling the conviction “abhorrent”. No word yet on whether President Obama will pick up the phone to lend his support to her as he did to Sandra Fluke in her demands for taxpayer-funded contraception. There have also not been any new Tweets from a sober-faced Michelle Obama bearing a sheet of paper with #SetMeriamFree written on it.
Why should Americans care what happens to some woman living halfway around the world? The same reason we should care what happens to the Nigerian schoolgirls who are still in the hands of Boko Haram, a bunch of shariah-loving terrorists.
An opinion piece last week in The Wall Street Journal gives an excellent wake-up call to the West regarding radical political Islam and shariah law. It was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born American woman who advocates for the rights of women around the world and is critical of Islam and its practice of female genital mutilation. As a 5-year-old girl she was forced to undergo the procedure, so she is well aware of the pain and oppression women suffer under shariah law.
In the article, Ali, who is an atheist, says it’s time liberals in the West start to pay attention: “If they choose to regard Boko Haram as an aberration, they do so at their peril. The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls. If my pointing this out offends some people more than the odious acts of Boko Haram, then so be it.”
Ali was to have been given an honorary degree this year from Brandeis University, but due to her outspokenness on Islam and the Brandeis administration’s kowtowing to Islamic support groups like CAIR, the honor has been withdrawn.
No supportive phone calls or Tweets for her either…only the lonely sound of crickets chirping as the war rages on.
Manchester, Tennessee isn’t a place most people know about or think about, unless it’s June and they’re making their way there to party with the very young music lovers that gather there every year for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.
Last night, hundreds (one report said 2,000 people) descended upon the town for other, less entertaining reasons. It was the location of a seminar sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) called “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society”. Sounds fairly harmless and even a little boring, but it’s had the attention of patriot groups from all over the country for the past several weeks. There may be good reason. They see this as a meeting that will let concerned Muslims know—and non-Muslims understand– that some speech that could be seen as offensive by Muslims could potentially be prosecuted as civil rights violations under federal law.
Bill Killian, the Obama-appointed U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Kenneth Moore**, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville office were the presenters at the event. Some in attendance shouted as they spoke. The room was filled to capacity and hundreds of others stayed outside displaying signs supporting free speech. Killian said the meeting was meant to be an “educational effort with civil rights laws”. For a different opinion, read free speech activist Pam Geller’s commentary and see her pictures here on the sometimes raucous atmosphere at the meeting.
This all started when a local politician in the Manchester area posted a controversial picture on Facebook of a man aiming a shotgun to the camera. It had the caption “How to Wink at a Muslim”. Stupid and insensitive perhaps, but rising to the level of a hate crime? I wouldn’t think so. Prior to the event, Killian asked what would happen if someone had posted the same image directed at Christians?
That’s easy—nothing would have happened. We know this, because it never does. Over the years, “artists” have submitted work featuring crosses sitting in urine, and paintings of Jesus’ mother Mary tainted with animal feces and these get prominently displayed in museums that exist because of taxpayer dollars. Aside from some editorials and interviews with Catholics who found them offensive, there were no reports of Christians burning buildings or rioting. That wasn’t the case in 2005 however, when a Danish paper printed editorial cartoons featuring the prophet Muhammad. Protests and violence in Europe and the Middle East resulted from those who claimed to be offended by the cartoons.
According to First Amendment Center president and executive director Gene Policinski, the Facebook post of the Tennessee politician lacked specificity in who was being targeted and presented no imminent threat to any one person so it was therefore protected under the First Amendment. He said the First Amendment “requires government to really demonstrate that it’s a true threat before they can restrict our speech.”
Brenda Jinnett, who attended the AMAC meeting, said she’s offended this event was held at all. She told WSMV: “I see Jews talked about every day. I see lots of different religions – even the Mormons – crucified on a daily basis, but I don’t see the DA coming into the communities and educating on the taxpayers’ dime on what you can and cannot say in our society”.
The meeting seemed to leave people with more questions than answers, particularly when it comes to exactly what would be considered hate speech and therefore subject to criminal charges. Is an honest discussion about jihad, a tenet of radical Islam, considered hate speech?
State Senator Mike Bell said he attended the event because of the concerns he had when he read Killian’s statement announcing the meeting. After the event, Bell said he still wasn’t sure where Killian stands on freedom of speech. That’s a frightening prospect considering Killian is only doing what his boss, the president, would want him to do. I think if you’ve been paying any attention lately, the IRS scandal and the seizing of journalists’ phone records show us how lightly this administration takes the First Amendment and the Constitution as a whole for that matter.
It’s noteworthy that AMAC, the organization responsible for last night’s event, was formed two years ago when Tennessee’s state legislature was considering a bill that would not allow the practice of sharia law in the state (sharia law is the strict, authoritarian set of laws practiced by those most devoted to Islam). Blasphemy laws restricting speech (anything deemed offensive to Islam and Muhammad) are a large part of sharia. The organization says it just wants people to understand their Muslim neighbors and their culture better.
Those standing for free speech want everyone who comes to America—Muslim or not— to understand that you come here for freedom and it comes with a price: the knowledge that at some point, you will hear or see something you don’t like. That’s life. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee anyone the right to never be offended.
**Moore was instrumental in the whitewashing of FBI training manuals that removed any references to “jihad” and terrorism- anything that would be deemed offensive to Muslims**