New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's favorite imam believes that the producer of an online video insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad should be prosecuted criminally.
Americans enjoy free speech, but "have no right" to mock things holy to Islam, Mohamed Qatanani, imam at the Islamic Center of Passaic County told The Blaze in an interview published Monday.
"My position is that White House has to say strong in its condemnation [of the filmmakers] and take this person to court," Qatanani said. "If he is innocent, we will accept that… The government has strong case against this person."
Qatanani has a history of Hamas support and was related by marriage to a leading Hamas operative in the West Bank. He is due to return to a New Jersey immigration court in November for a rehearing in a deportation case based upon his failure to disclose this when he sought a green card in 1999. An appellate board determined his original hearing was flawed.
While Islamist political activists and religious leaders have condemned the violence and murder that erupted in recent weeks over the film and other factors, Qatanani is not alone in using the incident as a justification for blasphemy laws.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), for example, called a news conference to decry the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But the group also posted a Saudi cleric's declaration to its home page which clearly called for insults against Islam to be crimes.
"Provoking the feelings of over one billion people" can threaten world peace, wrote Sheikh Abdallah bin Bayyah, vice-chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and president of the Global Centre for Renewal and Guidance in Jeddah.
"We are extremely concerned with a small active minority in your countries that seeks to perpetuate a state of conflict and war. We estimate that such objectives do not serve the general interest. Therefore, it is our hope that you reconsider and criminalize the denigration of religious symbols, as such provocations do not serve the principles of free speech, principles that you and us both seek to uphold.
A Council on American Islamic Relations official went on Iranian-controlled television to say America need to reassess its military and foreign policy to calm Muslim anger.
All of this makes a column last week by Canadian anti-Islamist Muslim Tarek Fatah a must read. He reveres Mohammad as God's messenger, but recognizes the rest of the world may not. The belief systems of others, even when it rises to insult against Islam, shouldn't affect him. But "getting offended, it seems, is the most identifiable attribute of my Muslim brothers."
That leads to deadly violence throughout the world, often against wholly unrelated targets.
"What alarms me," Fatah wrote, "is the devious, unethical and immoral nature of a critical mass of Muslims who are not offended when Saudi Arabia destroys the 7th century home of Mohammed, but freak out at a film they have not seen or a book they have not read."