If you have not read the story in today’s Haaretz about the Palestinian man jailed for criticizing Islam on Facebook, you should. I think that nothing comes closer to illustrating the depth of the difficulty in achieving peace than this article. Why? I shall explain.
This young man from Qalqiliya, Walid Husayin, wrote on Facebook in criticism of Islam. He wrote parody. Some, if not much of what he wrote was highly insulting of Islam, and he went so far as to write under the name of “God” in some Facebook groups. It is understandable that many Muslims were offended by what he wrote. In fact, considering the lack of tolerance in the Arab world, it is astounding that a Palestinian MUSLIM (his family are MUSLIMS) would write in this manner. Needless to say, he tried to keep his identity a secret. Husayin is an atheist who proclaimed the evils of his family’s faith in public. He aired dirty laundry. Husayin committed heresy.
Palestinian Authorities caught him because he was spending hours in an internet cafe. The Palestinian Authority may well have been worried that he might be a radical jihadi, I would imagine. Perhaps a Hamas operative in the West Bank. Instead, they found out that he was “God” on Facebook, an atheist critic of Islam. Now, here we have reached a problematic point.
How would the Palestinian Authority treat a Hamas operative? A radical jihadi? Probably throw him in jail, hold him for a bit and release him. His friends and family would probably cry foul about the arrest.
In this case, this man may well never be let out of prison, if he is not sentenced to death. You read it right, “DEATH.” Of course, if he were let out of prison, he might well be murdered in the streets by someone “acting in defense of Islam.” The article relates the following:
Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for insulting the divine essence. Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.
“He should be burned to death,” said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqiliya resident. The execution should take place in public to be an example to others, he added…
Two cousins attributed the writings to depression, saying Husayin was desperate to find better work. Requesting anonymity because of the shame of the incident, they said Husayin’s mother wants him to remain in prison for life – both to restore the family’s honor and to protect him from vigilantes.
The article went on to note that:
A small minority has questioned whether the government went too far. Zainab Rashid, a liberal Palestinian commentator, wrote in an online opinion piece that Husayin has made an important point: that “criticizing religious texts for their (intellectual) weakness can only be combated by oppression, prison and execution.“
If this man is being sentenced to life in prison or potentially execution for speaking ill of Islam, how can it possibly be imagined that the same government, the Palestinian Authority would be willing to concede the fight to recover the entire land of Palestine or even consider yielding and allowing Israel to maintain control over the Old City of Jerusalem including Al Aqsa? Which is a bigger affront to Islam or to the honor of the Palestinian people or Arabs? Husayin’s words? Certainly not.
So can one imagine a Palestinian President yielding on those two issues, in many minds acting against Islam, when an individual who speaks in criticism of Islam is to be jailed for life or killed?
But think of this: How is condemning a person to life in prison or even sentencing such a person to execution for expressing unpopular views in accordance with either modernity or Western morals and ethics? The terms that come to mind to describe such a government are “oppressive,” “tyrannical,” and dare I say it, “fascist.”
Merriam-Webster’s definition of Fascism is pretty much on the mark here:
a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
Should America support such a government??? How can it???