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Human rights in the birthplace of Islam • Brooklyn Paper

Human rights in the birthplace of Islam

The east-west culture clash was exposed like a lanced boil last week when FBI agents met graciously with Muslim leaders to update them on their counterterrorism efforts while, more than 7,000 miles away in Saudi Arabia, authorities sentenced a chronically ill hajj pilgrim to 500 lashes and a year in jail for blasphemy.

The pair of events demonstrated the striking divide between America, the best nation on human record for maintaining civil rights even in critical times, and Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam where popular punishments range from stoning and limb amputations to public beheadings and crucifixions.

The FBI sought to calm tensions with groups such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the Council on Islamic-American Relations, in the wake of the American Civil Liberties Union’s “Mapping the FBI” initiative, accusing the agency of using demographic information and data to investigate local Muslim communities, raising the question: who else was — and is — the FBI supposed to trail and track after 9-11 if not Muslims? They, in turn, should have no worries if they are loyal Americans with a regard for national security.

The Saudis, by contrast, sought to impose their cruel policies — sadly, deplorable yardsticks for Muslim behavior across the world — by severely punishing an Australian man accused of insulting the companions of the prophet Muhammad, without making the charges against him public. One of the more appalling aspects of the doomed pilgrim’s ordeal was that he was accosted and arrested by the “religious police” in the middle of his prayers, showing the Saudi thirst for violence over its solidarity with fellow Muslims — even at the holiest of times.

Muslim Americans and their advocacy groups should be toiling to expose and overturn the rampant hypocrisy and abuse in Muslim nations above questioning the FBI for doing its job in taxing times — quite well, too, judging from the 45 terror-attack plots thwarted since 9-11, when it only takes one to do the damage.

Yet, C.A.I.R. is more concerned that “FBI outreach initiatives will inevitably have a counterproductive chilling effect on constitutionally protected activities if they are merely a cover for illegal intelligence gathering.”

No amount of “illegal” intelligence work in the U.S. could begin to rival the flagrantly lawless degradation of civil liberties in the birthplace of Islam. Lofty Muslim American groups should head there to defend and avenge their persecuted, tortured, and murdered religious brothers and sisters, who could use the support.

Shavana Abruzzo's column appears every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. She can be reached at sabruzzo@cnglocal.com.

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