But only in a Muslim country, not in America, and “it’s a very merciful religion if you try to understand it.”
A “community debate” in Pennsylvania: “Furor over author Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s visit stirs debate on religious freedom,” by Robin Acton in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, with thanks to Joe:
…A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Islamic leaders tried to block the lecture, which was sponsored through an endowment from the Frank J. and Sylvia T. Pasquerilla Lecture Series. They argued that Hirsi Ali’s attacks against the Muslim faith in her book, “Infidel,” and movie, “Submission,” are “poisonous and unjustified” and create dissension in their community.
Although university officials listened to Islamic leaders’ concerns, the lecture planned last year took place Tuesday evening under tight security, with no incidents.
Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali’s appearance.
“She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death,” said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.
Hirsi Ali, an atheist, has been critical of many Muslim beliefs, particularly on subjects of sexual morality, the treatment of women and female genital mutilation. In her essay “The Caged Virgin,” she also wrote of punishment, noting that “a Muslim’s relationship with God is one of fear.”
“Our God demands total submission. He rewards you if you follow His rules meticulously. He punishes you cruelly if you break His rules, both on earth, with illness and natural disasters, and in the hereafter, with hellfire,” she wrote….
Although ElBayly believes a death sentence is warranted for Hirsi Ali, he stressed that America is not the jurisdiction where such a crime should be punished. Instead, Hirsi Ali should be judged in a Muslim country after being given a trial, he added.
“If it is found that a person is mentally unstable, or a child or disabled, there should be no punishment,” he said. “It’s a very merciful religion if you try to understand it.”
Zahida Chaudhary, a member of the education council and education secretary at the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville, insisted that Islam is a peaceful religion.
“The Prophet Mohammed was a peacemaker and a role model for humanity,” she said. “My understanding is that he was a peaceful person who believed that religion was a choice. He tried to teach people and bring them into it, not punish them.”
In fact, he said, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him'” (Bukhari 9.84.57).