This is unconstitutional, but it's going to come up sooner or later unless we defeat Al Qaeda with no more incidents nearly as horrifying as 9/11. Better to start thinking now while our heads are somewhat cool.
"The Two Faces of Islam" is a book with faults, but some of what it says seems well documented. Many American Mosques have received Saudi funding, and even if the teaching of Jihad as militarnt Islam is not as common here as the author implies, he does site a number of sources. Does the situation justify sending undercover government agents to major Mosques where there is no proof of terrorist involvement just as a precaution? I will admire those who say no, and will admire them more if they continue to say it as the situation worsens.
If perhaps some are inclined to say yes, let us count the costs. I suppose you could say freedom of religion isn't being technically violated - but who would not be angry if their own religion were treated thus? Freedom of Speech? It depends on what happens to those who praise Osama bin Laden, whether it comes to be considered incitement or not. Traditionally you don't have 'incitement to riot' unless a speaker is trying to whip up a crowd to do something violent then and there. On the other hand, the belief that suicidal murderers are 'martyrs' plays an undeniable role in suicide attacks, and a religious authority figure who praises them clearly contributes.
I think we need to define charity carefully as well. The families of suicide bombers may sometimes be victims, not even knowing what was about to happen, but the knowlege of financial rewards for their impoverished families has sometimes been part of the motivation for suicide bombers. I think we must be prepared to say that any organization which gives money to the families of suicide bombers is a terrorist organization.
Monday, February 10, 2003