After reading Elyse Semerdjian’s special to the U-B column (“Blaming all Muslims for terrorism ignores the facts,” Aug. 2), I was happy to see Craig Buchanan defend his right to express his opinion (“Claiming ‘hate’ is just way to censor speech,” Aug. 6).
I agree with the title of Professor Semerdjian’s column (and much of the content), but some points are questionable.
Claiming Buchanan’s letter is an “incitement to violence,” “hate speech” or that by publishing it the U-B has “put Muslims in our community in fear of harassment and even violence” is an unreasonable stretch. The right to voice our opinion is one of the most valuable of our personal freedoms. Of course others have the right to challenge those opinions, as has been done here.
I’m sure Walla Walla’s Muslim exchange students are wonderful people whom I would enjoy meeting, and I hope their stay is (or has been) a rewarding and happy experience. Writing this on Aug. 7, I also wish them a happy Eid al Fitr (marking the end of Ramadan).
Professor Semerdjian wrote, “Referring to these groups as ‘jihadists,’ as Buchanan’s letter does when referring to the 9/11 attackers, lends legitimacy to what is, in fact, the illegitimate use of violence by misguided fringe groups.” Well, Islamist Jihad groups can hardly be defined as “fringe.”
Sure, Mr. Buchanan appeared to include all Muslims in the actions of a violent minority, but unfortunately that global minority is vast in number. Supporters (of over 80 identified Sunni and Shia Islamic terrorist groups worldwide) number in the millions, according to polls.
Jihad — in the “holy war” context rather than the other definitions — is a word commonly used by Islamist personalities, including Osama bin Laden, his mentor and current al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri, Ayatollahs Ruhollah (“Islam is Not a Religion of Pacifists”) Khomeini, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb and Muhammad Atta (leader of the 9/11 terrorists whose five-page suicide note makes it clear they were jihadis) and others. Today’s Islamist terrorists and supporters justify these cowardly acts of “mass-murder martyrdom” (Shahid) as jihad.
What’s next? Do we really want laws such as in Italy where the late, outspoken war correspondent Oriana Fallaci was tried for “defaming Islam” (with a Swiss judge ordering an arrest warrant?), or France, where Brigitte Bardot was charged five times for “insulting Islam?”
I don’t think so. Not in America.