Killing for Allah in North Carolina

Before he drove a rented SUV onto the campus of the University of North Carolina and tried to run down and kill as many people as he could on March 3, Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar left a letter of explanation in his apartment. In the letter, Taheri-azar identifies himself as "a servant of Allah." He declares that “in the Qur’an, Allah states that the believing men and women have permission to murder anyone responsible for the killing of other believing men and women."

In a letter written a week later, Taheri-azar asserted: "Allah gives permission in the Koran for the followers of Allah to attack those who have raged [sic] war against them, with the expectation of eternal paradise in case of martyrdom and/or living one’s life in obedience of all of Allah’s commandments found throughout the Koran’s 114 chapters. I’ve read all 114 chapters approximately 15 times since June of 2003 when I started reading the Koran." And he did not try to murder UNC students "out of hatred for Americans, but out of love for Allah instead."

Taheri-azar may have been referring to passages such as Koran 2:190 ("Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you…") and 9:111: "Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs in return is the garden of Paradise: they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain…" There are numerous other passages enjoining violence against unbelievers (2:216; 9:5; 9:29; 47:4; etc.). But in response, according to a local news report, "several leaders of the Triangle Muslim community say Taheri-azar’s personal interpretation of the Quran is wrong and it goes against the true belief of Muslims across the world — which is peace."

Such a response was predictable both in its content and lack of specificity. Every day brings more evidence that Muslims believe the Koran enjoins anything but peace: Monday saw hundreds of Muslim clerics demonstrating in Afghanistan against the release of Christian convert Abdul Rahman. Cleric Faiez Mohammed was succinct: "Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it."

It is abundantly clear that even if Mohammed Taheri-azar acted alone, his view of the Koran is not eccentric among Muslims worldwide. Yet three-and-a-half years after Muhammad Atta and his crew flew a plane into the World Trade Center out of love for Allah, we still don’t see any sustained or concerted effort by self-proclaimed peaceful Muslims in the United States or anywhere else to disabuse their coreligionists of this jihad ideology, and its globalist, supremacist, totalitarian political agenda. Such an effort should not be seen as optional or incidental; without it, the very commitment of these self-proclaimed moderates to the United States and its Constitution can and should be called into question.

Also, analysts keep focusing on the question of whether or not Taheri-azar was a "terrorist." I don’t care if you call him a canteloupe. The real problem here is that anyone anywhere at any time can read the Koran and come to the same conclusion that he did. If American officials were really serious about preventing a future attack, they would address that. If American Muslim advocacy groups were really serious about being loyal, patriotic Americans, they would address that.

Am I saying that the Koran should be outlawed, as was attempted long ago in Calcutta and about which there have been some rumblings recently in Germany?

No, I would prefer to deal more in the realm of what is realistically possible. I’d like to see an honest public discussion of the elements of the Koran and Sunnah that give impetus to violence and fanaticism. I’d like to see American Muslim spokesmen explain how they will specifically address these elements, and teach Muslims to reject them in favor of the principles of the equality of dignity and rights of all people, women as well as men, non-Muslims as well as Muslims. And I’d like to see them follow through on these explanations with real action.

Only then might we be getting somewhere against the phenomenon represented by Mohammed Taheri-azar.

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