Even though revelations had already come out about the Ford Foundation’s involvement in funding terrorist groups, Alyssa A. Lappen’s Front Page piece today is eye-opening. Some of the new information even involves Khaled Abou El Fadl, the prominent Muslim academic who was recently embroiled in an imbroglio with an Egyptian newspaper he says misquoted him.
Read it all: it is full of enlightening information (plus an abundance of supporting links). But here are a few highlights:
“To most Americans, it may seem unlikely that the U.S. Constitution could — or should — ever be revised to conform to strict Islamic law. But an educational program funded by the Ford Foundation has explored that very possibility, challenging our right to unfettered freedom of speech. The program, administered by the woefully misnamed Constitutional Rights Foundation, asks students to ponder how the Constitution could be amended or otherwise interpreted to prohibit blasphemy against Allah. . . .
“Just how piddling are the offenses in question? Ask a group of young party-goers in Seattle. They printed a flyer advertizing a “rave” and unknowingly decorated it with a verse from the Koran. Ali-Salaam Mahmoud, head of the Sea Tac, Washington Majid As Salaam mosque demanded the rave promoters recall and destroy their 50,000 brochures. The rave promoters did not comply, but 400 Seattle Muslims organized a taxi work stoppage in protest. Several Jewish and Christian leaders supported the offended Muslims. . . .
“In Islam, cursing Allah or misusing the Koran is equivalent to blasphemy. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the legality of the offending brochure. Even if the rave promoters had knowingly used the Koran script, their right to distribute it would still be protected. No U.S. citizen is required to defer to this or any other religion; indeed, the Constitution confers on Americans the right to ridicule religion if they choose. . . .
“The Los Angeles-based Constitutional Rights Foundation was established in 1962 to ‘instill in our nation’s youth a deeper understanding of citizenship’ and ‘values expressed in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.’ Its $3 million annual budget creates and distributes teaching materials ostensibly to support the Bill of Rights. However, CRF’s Service Learning Network in 2002 issued online ‘diversity’ teaching units featuring terrorism and Islam sections–plus a whitewashed history of Islamic law and a proposed blasphemy amendment to the U.S. Constitution. CRF created the Islamic Issues segments for the winter 1998 edition of its quarterly newsletter.
“Its final Islamic study unit does ask students to consider Islamic views on the Salman Rushdie case–and a proposed blasphemy amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating, ‘The First Amendment shall not be interpreted to protect blasphemous speech. States shall be free to enact anti-blasphemy laws as long as they prohibit offensive speech against all religions.’ Students are asked to define blasphemy, explain the ‘strong’ Islamic reaction to Rushdie’s novel, and assume the role of a U.S. Senator considering the amendment. They are not asked to discuss the Sharia punishment for blasphemy, which traditionally has been death. Such condemnations occur to this day. . . .
“The same Ford Foundation that funded anti-Semitic NGOs at the UN Conference Against Racism in Durban also finances CRF’s Service Learning Network. . . . UCLA Islamic law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl was academic reviewer for CRF’s 1998 Origins of Islamic Law unit, reissued online in 2002. He read the other units as well, according to Hayes, who adds that he continues to advise CRF on Islamic history together with University of Southern California Middle East ‘expert’ Lori Brand and UCLA associate history professor Michael Morony. Curiously, Hayes says the adviser for the blasphemy unit ‘did not want to be identified.’
“In May 2003, El Fadl’s reputed ‘moderation’ earned him a seat on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (CIRF). In November 2002, he reported receiving death threats a year earlier, after writing that the September 11 attacks reflected a crisis at Islam’s core. In April 2003, in a 10,000-word Boston Review essay El Fadl claimed that Sharia ‘fulfills the criteria of justice and legitimacy,’ is ‘based on the rule of law,’ and binds the governed to governor. Sharia ‘deprives human beings of arbitrary authority over other human beings,’ he claimed, and could therefore provide a ‘normative stance’ considering ‘justice and diversity to be core values’ of a democratic constitutional order.
“Sharia offers no democratic foundation, however. Far from protecting diversity or justice, Sharia historically has provoked and sanctioned oppression and wholesale genocide of non-Muslim minorities. Such policies continue to this day in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Sudan and Indonesia, where Muslims perpetrate genocide against Christian and other minorities with little sanction.” But I doubt you will find Professor El Fadl acknowledging that.