Group Calls for Prosecution of Muslim Cleric After He Reads Passage Calling For The Killing Of Jews

There is a controversy in Montreal where Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr was invited to speak at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque and quoted a version calling for the killing of Jews.   The imam recited in Arabic the verse: “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”  People have called for his prosecution for hate speech, rekindling the debate over Canada’s roll back of free speech with hate speech and discrimination laws.

The address only recently surfaced even though it was given  on Dec. 23, 2016. He is reciting a passage from a hadith, which interprets the words and actions by  Muhammad.

B’nai Brith Canada has filed a complaint with Montreal police on the basis that his comments incite violence and radicalization.

We have seen some alarming examples of how Canada has rolled back on free speech, particularly in cases of alleged discrimination (here and here). While there have been rulings in defense of free speech in Canada, the country has plunged deeply into speech controls and criminalization.

I despise the words of this cleric who strikes me as another hate-spewing, ignorant extremist. However, there is much in religious texts of various religions that can be viewed as radicalizing or supporting violence. For example, in the Book of 1 Samuel God orders King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Saul does not carry out the massacre and for that he loses his kingdom.

I have serious free speech concerns if we are going to see the criminalization of repeating such passages, even with support for their content. It risks the type of slippery slope that Canada is already on when it comes to the regulation of speech. I remain an old fashioned free speech advocate. I believe that the solution of bad speech is more speech. This cleric has been identified as a hateful and disgraceful figure. The mosque has been identified as a forum for hate by inviting such a person. The alternative is to have the government regulate religious speech and allow the same prosecutions that we have seen of political speech around the world. That is a dangerous prospects given the high tensions over religious differences in the world.

What do you think? Should the Canadian government start to prosecute religious speech deemed inciteful?


82 thoughts on “Group Calls for Prosecution of Muslim Cleric After He Reads Passage Calling For The Killing Of Jews”

  1. Let’s let Gorsuch tell us if this kind of speech qualifies for protection under the First Amendment. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, so often cited, constitutes perfectly acceptable speech IF there is a fire in the theater. That state of affairs seems to me to be somewhat analogous to what we have at this time. And, to Karen S., the fact that Islam has not had a “reformation” since inception, unless one considers the retrograde reformation under the Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab, should be a warning to all. The fact that “most” Muslims don’t live on or act upon clearly written verses in the Koran simply means they are not following the specifics of the “faith.” For such behavior, they can be, and have been, cited for apostasy, with all that such a verdict requires.

  2. Again, this all depends on context. Simply reading a quotation is not in itself criminal. If this man is inciting violence in an ordinary criminal sense then yes, it needs to be investigated. And when I mean “inciting violence” I do not mean some stretch of the imagination. I am referring to a calculated plot to cause actual harm to innocents.

    Still, why give him power by affording him an international audience? Some people are best left ignored.

    1. If the guy was Rap Brown, the audience would have responded by burning down a couple of city blocks. That they did not tells you the speech in question does not qualify as sedition.

  3. “I despise the words of this cleric who strikes me as another hate-spewing, ignorant extremist. However, there is much in religious texts of various religions that can be viewed as radicalizing or supporting violence. For example, in the Book of 1 Samuel God orders King Saul to attack the Amalekites: “And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Saul does not carry out the massacre and for that he loses his kingdom.”

    There is much in the Old Testament that is violent. For one, it was written thousands of years ago and is reflective of the times. Christians do not believe that God took up a pen and wrote the Bible in blessed ink. We believe that the writings were revealed through human, and fallible, prophets who were products of their time. As such, that colors our understanding, depending on denomination. In addition, the New Testament specifically supersedes the Old Testament, which is why Christians have not burned a bull on the Sabbath for quite some time.

    There are those who will argue about continuity vs replacing, but no one will say that modern Christians live according to Old Testament ways.

    The issue that the Islamic Community struggles with is that they believe that Allah literally wrote the Qu’ran. As originating from an omniscient god, with no interpreter, His writings would never be considered a product of the times, or need to be reformed. The Hadith, and other writings specific to the Prophet could conceivably have that aspect of human fallibility. But not the Qu’ran. Which is one of the reasons why there are millions of Muslims today who still believe in laws based a thousand years ago, such as the subjugation of women and the killing of gays and apostates. They live and believe and behave the way that you only find in rare Christian cults today, and even those are not militant or out for global domination. Sure, you can find a Christian who may believe that homosexuality is wrong, but it is rather more difficult to find a Christian who feels that gays should be put to death, than it is to find a Muslim who believes so. This is especially true of those who live in Muslim majority nations, which I find to meet the definition of extremists. Anyone who wants to prevent someone from leaving a fait upon pain of death, would physically harm anyone, emphasizing women, who stray from a religion’s teachings, in my view is an extremist. There are far more moderates living in the US, happily cheek by jowl with Jews, apostates, and gays, and getting along just fine. But back in the homeland, there is unrelenting pressure to behave as if it is still a thousand years ago. There have been some strides in improvement, for instance in the education of women, which is a bit better in some Muslim majority countries than others, but in no way do women have the freedom or equality in the eyes of the law, than they do in the US. I can’t even include the UK anymore, since they foolishly allowed Sharia courts to handle family law, where women are often treated as second class citizens. Why they tolerate such mistreatment of their citizens in their own country, I will never understand.

    Every religion has had to go through a reformation, bar none. Islam is no exception. It may be quite painful for many to admit that they have a problem, but traditional Islam’s attitudes towards Jews, gays, and women do not align with modern Western values. This would be fine in other countries if their Jewish, gay, apostate, and female citizens were free to leave…if it was all voluntary like some commune. But they are all trapped there in a country that means them harm. I cannot change that fact, but I can condemn it, because I personally believe that Western values are superior. If their way was better, then their women wouldn’t be in such a hurry to throw off the veil the second their plane touches down here. In my personal opinion, I find it neurotic to hyper fixate on controlling women and ensuring that they are “perfect” – what are they thinking, saying, who are they talking to, what are they wearing, whom may they marry, where did they go, may they drive, may they travel alone, what male relative gave them permission to go there, don’t show your ankle, don’t show your hair (although kudos to young Persian women who are seriously pushing the envelope on the roosari), and never forget that the entire family’s honor hangs in the balance on your behavior on all of the above…

    I consider those Muslims who are moderate, happily living in the West, ignoring the sword versus, befriending Jews and gays, and basically living a normal life in which their religion is only a positive, to be similar to Protestants who rebelled against the excesses of the faith. Even the Catholic Church has gone through several reformations, and in fact is undergoing a rather painful one today. There is nothing wrong with deciding to practice a gentler form of a religion. ISIS may think so, but I don’t. More power to you, and welcome to the 21st Century in the West. Some moderate Muslims veil, through personal choice, and some don’t, some are quite active in mosque, and some aren’t. But above all, they get along with everyone quite well, in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Qu’ran which the fundamentalists running their ancestral countries take a literal interpretation of.

    1. I forgot to mention that, in order to take the Old Testament in context, one must recall that they were written over a range of time, the oldest estimated to be 3500 years ago. And the New Testament was written about 1500 years ago. It’s basic assumption to have been written by humans based on revelations is quite beneficial when one encounters background aspects, such as slavery, that is anathema today.

  4. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Let the hateful Imam be prosecuted or tear down their wretched anti-free speech laws. Let the Amalekites bring suit also.
    I stand with Professor Jordan Peterson who refused to adopt the usage of non-binary pronouns and was under fire from the University of Toronto.

  5. See :

    The case had nothing to do with fires or theaters. The quote was Holmes giving a general statement that has no actual bearing on the case or precedential value in court (“dicta” in the legalgeek speak).
    The case is, to this day, considered one of the more odious and regretful decisions by the Supreme Court, in which they locked up a member of the Socialist Party for distributing incredibly tame pamphlets to give to prospective draftees about their rights during World War I.
    The case was later effectively (though not explicitly) overturned by Brandenburg v. Ohio and the ruling in the case itself is no longer binding caselaw anyway.
    Holmes himself, very soon after this decision, issued another decision that argued quite differently in Abrams v. United States, where he made the much more reasonable and useful argument:

    “The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”

    As Ken White argues in his piece:

    Holmes’ quote is the most famous and pervasive lazy cheat in American dialogue about free speech.

    1. Incorrect, Bob987. You (unstated) case does INDEED refer to fires and theaters.

      Here is what Oliver Wendell Holmes actually wrote in U.S. v. Schenck:

      “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. . . The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger.”

      In effect, Holmes is saying that the First Amendment DOES NOT protect false speech that is likely to cause immediate harm to others.

      Stop reading and posting worthless blogs are go do some original research for a change.

  6. I find it amusing how the “learned” Professor Turley pretends that someone calling for the killing of Jews is merely exercising free speech. Even high school students know that there are limits to free speech where that speech could result in danger or harm to individuals or the public. For example, high school students know that if a student yells “fire” in a crowded auditorium when there is no fire, and then people start to rush out, trampling on one another, causing bodily injuries, that is NOT an example of free speech.

    Calling for the murder of any group of individuals is tantamount to calling for the murders of the individuals in that group, and there should be a price tag for anyone who utters such statements publicly.

    While Professor Turley may applaud the killing of Jews as “free speech,” he would, indeed, feel differently, if someone were to call for the murders of all attorneys whose last name begins with the letter “T,” for example. And even if he denies that, if some crazed individuals started to actually kill attorneys whose last name begins with the letter “T” as serial murder rituals, he would, I’m sure, be forced to abandon his hypocrisy under those circumstances.

  7. “What do you think? Should the Canadian government start to prosecute religious speech deemed inciteful?”


    1. Google ‘Svend Robinson’. Plenty of drama queens around, and it’s best not to give them any leverage.

  8. The seminal judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada is R v Keegstra[1990]3SCR697.It held that,although the hate crime provision of the Criminal Code infringed the freedom of expression guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,it was a “reasonable limit” on that right provided for in s.1 thereof and,therefore,valid legislation.

    1. IOW, the guarantee in the Charter of Rights is nullified in favor of judicial willfullness. Why does this not surprise me?

      The Charter is verbose, inelegant, and corrupted by the pointless inclusion of text on matters of political architecture and text which guarantees welfare expenditure rather than delineating immunities from state agents. Perfect Trudeaupian product.

    2. And the enemies of free speech in the US will use “badges and instruments of slavery” or nuisance theory to restrict speech. Read Professor Tsesis’ articles. It’s coming, mark it on your calendar.

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