Goldman’s next bombshell is to report that police identified 250 mosques in the metropolitan area and whittled them down to 53 “mosques of concern.” Evidently, you are to be alarmed by the one-in-five breakdown, the suggestion that fully 20 percent of mosques are problematic.
You should be alarmed, but for the opposite reason. If Goldman is right, the police are probably low-balling. As I mentioned over the weekend, the recently published Mapping Sharia study found that four out of five American mosques — 80 percent — disseminate literature that endorses violent jihad. The imams in mosques that feature these materials tend to promote them. Further, over half these mosques feature guest speakers known to preach approvingly of violence.
The true number of “mosques of concern” is surely higher than the number to which the police have apparently whittled it down, perhaps by a factor of four. The only sensible conclusion is that the NYPD is bending over backwards not to target Muslims
for investigation. And sure enough, Goldman concedes that most of the 53 “mosques of concern” have been “flagged for allegations of criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, financing Hamas, or money laundering.” It is precisely not a matter of NYPD’s “conflating strong religious views with violent extremism.”
In a dark tone, Goldman adds that other mosques have been scrutinized due to their “ties to Salafism” or to what is vaguely described as mere “rhetoric.” But his implication that this runs afoul of the First Amendment is meritless. To take “rhetoric” first, the direct nexus between the exhortations of Islamist imams and the commission of violence by Muslims is too well documented to call for much additional comment. There is no constitutional protection for rhetoric that incites lawlessness or that evidences seditious designs.
Regarding Salafists, Goldman naturally fails to alert the reader that they are infamous for promoting violent jihad (see my column earlier this year on the savage attacks by Salafists against Coptic Christians in Egypt). Amusingly, Goldman’s lame effort to camouflage the Salafists as extremely devout rather than extremely violent succeeds only in highlighting the dangers of sharia. He describes Salafism as “a hardline movement preaching a strict version of Islamic law.” Well, yeah . . . but what makes this “hardline” is the uncongenial fact that “strict” sharia is inextricably linked to — all together now — violent extremism.
Equally disingenuous is Goldman’s concern that the NYPD focused on two mosques “for having ties to Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old Egyptian mosque that is the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world.” Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the AP is correct and that the police had no reason other than some hazy connection to al-Azhar for giving a mosque special attention. Goldman’s rendering of al-Azhar is ludicrously incomplete.
Yes, it is the ancient seat of Sunni learning. That happens to make it the cradle and sustenance of Islamist ideology — and, given its weighty influence in the Muslim ummah, that also makes it the chief obstacle for Islamic reformers we are supposed to be trying to help. Al-Azhar has produced such jurisprudents as the Blind Sheikh (Omar Abdel Rahman), whose authority to issue fatwas for assassinations and mass-murder plots (including the 9/11 attacks) owes solely to his status as a renowned al-Azhar scholar. Ditto Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood scholar whose fatwas have called for killing Americans in Iraq and for suicide attacks in Israel.
That some of al-Azhar’s faculty condemned the 9/11 attacks, and that the university won praise from top Bush adviser Karen Hughes, as Goldman takes pains to point out, doesn’t tell half the story. Sheikh Qaradawi condemned 9/11, too. It’s not that he and al-Azhar oppose terrorism in principle. They don’t. Indeed, al-Azhar scholars rallied to Qaradawi’s defense over the fatwa authorizing terrorist attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq. No, al-Azhar and Qaradawi were against 9/11 for tactical reasons. The U.S. is not an Islamic country, so there was no sharia mandate to attack Americans here as there is to attack Westerners if they occupy a Muslim territory such as Iraq. When there is no mandate, Islamists decide whether violent jihad should be launched against non-Muslims based on a cost-benefit analysis, not on any conviction that killing non-Muslims is immoral. This is a close question when it comes to America — we might call it a question on which unreasonable minds can differ.