From Legal Times, with thanks to Skeetstreet:
In a recent criminal trial in Virginia, the prosecutor told the jury that the defendant couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth, that he would lie to their faces — all because of his religious beliefs.
That’s entirely reasonable. The Qur’an says that “any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief – except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty” (16:106). So those who utter unbelief under compulsion are exempt from the dreadful penalty. How can someone who believes this be expected to honor an oath to tell the truth on the witness stand, when to do so could put him in jeopardy?
The defendant, an American citizen accused of supporting terrorism, was convicted. The religion in question, of course, was Islam.
Now, the Virginia attorney representing Ali Al-Timimi is pushing for a new trial, saying that prosecutors secured the guilty verdict by appealing to religious bigotry against Muslims.
Is it bigotry to be aware of Qur’an 16:106 and point out its implications? I didn’t make up those implications. The classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir says that this verse makes “an exception in the case of one who utters statements of disbelief and verbally agrees with the Mushrikin [polytheists] because he is forced to do so by the beatings and abuse to which he is subjected, but his heart refuses to accept what he is saying…The scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to… go along with them in the interests of self-preservation…”
Might perjury then be justified “in the interests of self-preservation”? Is it “bigotry” to wonder about this? Or dhimmi idiocy not to?
The case illustrates the difficulty in prosecuting suspected terrorists who subscribe to a form of militant Islam, without airing tenets of the religion itself before a jury. And it raises the question of how far is too far when it comes to using a defendant’s religious beliefs as evidence of criminal intent. The issue will likely continue to confront judges as more cases against accused terrorists come to trial.
Timimi’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon Jr., is seeking to overturn Timimi’s conviction, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the prejudicial impact of statements he says portrayed Islam as a violent religion. One specific objection: that Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg instructed the jury in his closing argument that Timimi, a devout Muslim, would lie to jurors because the jurors were “kafir” — or nonbelievers.