As I strongly disagree with those who threaten Norris, I must also disagree with the usage of the term “violent jihad” in Mr. Payne’s well-meaning piece.
What extremists such as Al-Qaeda teach is not true jihad (struggle), and there are legitimate uses of jihad that are forceful, which have no relation to extremism. If someone, for instance, comes on your property and unlawfully enters your home with a firearm and you shoot them in defending your life and property, that is a form of jihad. If an army (lets say the Russians) unlawfully invade Alaska and Alaskans fight back and kill invading Russians to drive them out, that is also a form of jihad.
The predominant day to day jihad, which is resisting lower desires and sinfully personal conduct to struggling to refine one’s character and intellect, has no relationship to violence; however, there are times in all societies when it is acceptable for persons to struggle against criminality with violence, which is also jihad.
With the misusage of the term jihad by extremists and the repetition of this misusage by the mainstream media, the unfortunate effect is that it furthers the misunderstanding of mainstream Muslims and perhaps emboldens those on the margins who have been misled to thinking that terrorists are involved in legitimate jihad.
Very unfortunate indeed.
Free speech thwarted in U.S. as cartoonist forced to hide
Henry Payne / The Detroit News
A leading Detroit-area Muslim has condemned the threats against a Seattle Weekly cartoonist who has been forced into hiding for drawing Mohammed.
“This is unacceptable,” says Dawud Walid, president of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR). “We like to ask ‘What would Mohammed do?’ ” referring to the Muslim prophet’s own pleading for tolerance when he was condemned for his point of view.
Molly Norris, former cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, is now in FBI protective custody and living under an assumed name after drawing a cartoon of Mohammed that sparked “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!”
After the cartoon was published in April, Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki said Norris was a “prime target” for execution. The FBI told Norris they were taking the threat seriously. Al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born 39-year-old, has been called the highest-profile English-speaking supporter of violent jihad.
Walid said that while he does not condone the cartoon of Mohammed — it is forbidden by some Islamic texts — he supports her right to free expression.
Norris has also received support from the head of the Washington State chapter of American Islamic Relations, Arsalan Bukhari.
Norris is an unlikely target of attack having apologized to “everyone of the Muslim faith who has or will be offended” by her cartoon and supported calling off “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day.”
These American Muslim leaders attest to the shelter America’s First Amendment provides religions across the globe. Many in their flock have taken refuge here from the intolerance of Muslim extremists abroad.
Sadly, however, Norris needs the protection of the FBI.