The fatwa denounces Islamic extremism. Or does it?
The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) issued the fatwa -- a religious decree -- announced at a press conference held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The fatwa, in part, said, "Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives [emphasis added]. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram -- or forbidden -- and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not 'martyrs.' The Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, states: '[W]hoever kills a person [unjustly] . . . it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind' [Qur'an, 5:32]."
The Los Angeles Times, in an Aug. 2, 2005, editorial, nearly fainted with enthusiasm. Under the headline "A Welcome Fatwa," the Times wrote, "A broad group of U.S. and Canadian Muslim scholars and religious leaders last week issued a fatwa that is as unequivocally anti-violence as those of Khomeini or Osama bin Laden were pro-murder." Unequivocally anti-violence?
The Times also noted that "Similar, if less sweeping, edicts have been issued by British and Spanish clerics in the wake of the attacks in those countries."
But the newspaper also took the opportunity, of course, to take a whack at the Bush administration for its lack of enthusiasm over the fatwa: "The U.S. is safer for their efforts, but the government has been curiously reticent to acknowledge and praise the anti-terror cooperation of Muslim organizations." No, the Bush administration took greater care in analyzing this supposedly powerful fatwa. They read the not-so-fine print.
For starters, the fatwa never defines "innocent lives" and condemns killing someone "unjustly." This represents a hole big enough to drive a Hummer through. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson said, "It [the fatwa] does not condemn by name any Islamic group or leader. In short, it is a fake fatwa designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate. In fact, officials of both organizations [FCNA and CAIR] have been directly linked to and associated with Islamic terrorist groups and Islamic extremist organizations. One of them is an unindicted co-conspirator in a current terrorist case; another previous member was a financier to Al-Qaeda."