Jeff Jacoby writes about a leading light of moderate Islam, a graduate of and former professor at Al Azhar University in Cairo, who had the temerity to question Wahhabi orthodoxy via his Koranic studies.
[Ahmed Mansour] learned the hard way that Muslim reformers who speak out against Islamist fanaticism and religious dictatorship can indeed end up in prison —— or worse. It had happened to him in his native Egypt, which he fled in 2001 after receiving death threats. He was grateful that the United States had granted him asylum, enabling him to go on promoting his vision of a progressive Islam in which human rights and democratic values would be protected. But would he now have to fight in America the same kind of persecution he experienced in Egypt?
Mansour is just one of many people and organizations being sued for defamation by the Islamic Society of Boston, which accuses them all of conspiring to deny freedom of worship to Boston—area Muslims. In fact, the defendants —— who include journalists, a terrorism expert, and the founder of the American Anti—Slavery Group, plus the Episcopalian lay minister and the Jewish attorney who together with Mansour formed the interfaith Citizens for Peace and Tolerance in 2004 —— appear to be guilty of nothing more than voicing concerns about the ISB's construction of a large mosque in Roxbury.
Ed Lasky 5 17 06