AP tells us that “two American Muslims who tried to join the Taliban were sentenced to 18 years in prison Monday during a hearing in which they denounced the Bush administration and pleaded in song for freedom.
“Patrice Lumumba Ford, 32, and Jeffrey Leon Battle, 33, had pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
“Both said that in trying to reach Afghanistan, they were fulfilling their Islamic duty to defend fellow Muslims.
“‘The attack on Afghanistan killed and maimed thousands of people without achieving its objective,’ said Ford, who had traveled to China in an unsuccessful attempt to reach Afghanistan. ‘I refuse to stand passive in the face of such policies.'”
“Ford, once an intern at Portland’s City Hall, said he felt obliged to defend his fellow Muslims against ‘President Bush’s cruise-missile diplomacy.'”
At the sentencing, a U.S. District Judge, Robert E. Jones, seized the opportunity to lecture Ford about Islam: “You do not represent the Muslim faith. Muslims do not engage in the activities you engaged in. You are an insult to that faith.”
Why American officials feel it necessary to do this, I don’t know. I also don’t know where Sheikh Robert E. Jones learned his Islam, but I would wager that Battle and Ford are better versed in the teachings of that faith than he is. They are hardly going to take seriously a lecture on Islam from a non-Muslim American judge.
But it was a wild courtroom in many ways. “Battle, a former Army reservist, also spoke of his obligations as a Muslim and concluded by singing a 10-minute song he said he had written in prison. The courtroom was silent during the song, which ended with the stanza, ‘Free, free, free, for all humanity, release me.'”