Al-Masri conviction reveals “free speech” double standard

This is cute. Just as the cartoon controversy is being portrayed as evidence of Western values of “free speech” versus inherent Islamic intolerance, comes the conviction of Shiekh Abu Hamza al-Masri in Britain—on charges of, basically, expressing his opinions publicly. That he holds some pretty awful opinions is beside the point. The jihad fan club in the blogosphere will have a field day revelling in this irresistibly ironic display of Western hypocrisy, as Jihad Unspun does in the below blurb. Note that the Sheikh was acquitted of the charges which actually sound vaguely legitimate, “solicitation to murder” and “threatening behavior.”

Selective Free Speech: Abu Hamza al-Masri Found Guilty On Charges Of Inciting Murder
Feb 08, 2006
JUS News Desk, Agencies

Shiekh Abu Hamza al-Masri has been found guilty of inciting followers to kill Jews and other non-Muslims and stirring racial hatred. Also wanted in the United States on charges that he tried to establish a terrorist camp in Oregon and conspired with kidnappers in Yemen, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. U.S. authorities are seeking his extradition.

Al-Masri was followed, recorded and filmed for years by police assigned to track Islamists, but he was not charged with a crime in Britain until five months after the U.S. indictment was announced in May 2004. When the charges did come, they focused on his speeches and sermons over the years at the mosque and its meeting rooms and on materials seized at his home in West London.

A jury found al-Masri guilty of 11 charges including six of solicitation to murder, three of using threatening words and behavior with intent to foment racial hatred, one of possessing audiotapes intended to stir up racial hatred and one of possessing an “Encyclopedia of Afghani Jihad,” which prosecutors described as a terrorist manual dedicated to bin Laden. One chapter listed likely terrorist targets such as the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben in London. The Sheikh was found not guilty of four charges: three of solicitation to murder and one of threatening behavior. (JUS)

Note that the notorious Shiekh al-Masri helped spark the UK’s new draconian anti-terror law and “rendition” policy.

  1. Curtains for free speech
    The anti-free speech consensus which is emerging on both sides of the (oversimplified) Islam/West divide is truly terrifying. While Britain locks up Islamic clerics for thought crimes, the standard conservative Muslim reaction to the cartoon controversy is “We support free speech, but…” The “but” is inevitably “not when it insults our religion.” Here’s an example from Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. He is ostensibly calling for restraint (which should make Tony Blair happy), but it is actually unclear whether he is referring to protesters or newspaper editors when he says freedom should not be used “to create social unrest and instability.”

    03 Feb 2006

    Don’t Be Provoked By Mischievous Elements Over Cartoon Row

    The Muslim Council of Britain is deeply concerned by the continuing refusal of several European newspapers to understand and acknowledge the immense hurt they have caused to Muslims the world over by printing gratuitously offensive caricatures of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

    “We reiterate our absolute condemnation of the decision to publish these images in Denmark and view their republication in other European countries as a deliberate and senseless act of provocation. Newspaper editors must exercise restraint and good judgement instead of adding to the increasingly xenophobic tone being adopted in parts of Europe against Muslims. These newspapers should apologise immediately for the harm they have caused,