"Ramzi Yusuf, you are not fit to uphold Islam. Your God is death. Your God is not Allah. ... What you do you do not do for Allah; you do it only to satisfy your own twisted sense of ego." Mimi Stillman and I quoted this statement by Judge Kevin Duffy from the sentencing of Ramzi Yusuf, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, in a co-authored article. The point of the quote was that the U.S. government – executive and judicial branches alike - has taken upon itself to sever "the common association Americans make between Islam and terrorism. Officialdom does not deny that devout-seeming Muslims are constantly trying to kill Americans, but it vociferously denies their connection to Islam." We deemed this to be beyond the competence of politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and other members of U.S. officialdom, who have no particular competence to decide what is or is not Islamic.
Well, judges are still at it. In a U.S. District Court yesterday in Portland, Oregon, Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced two members of the "Portland 7" would-be Taliban gang, Patrice Lumumba Ford and Jeffrey Leon Battle, to 18 years in federal prison. The Oregonian reports how Jones admonished the two: "You do not represent the Muslim faith. You are an insult to the Muslim faith."
It's time for judges in a secular legal system to contain themselves and not issue opinions on what constitutes the Islamic faith and which are its true representatives. (November 25, 2003)