Media Ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Death Threats, But Focus on Al Sharpton's

Photo of Hirsi Ali from BBC


Two figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Al Sharpton, were recently targeted with a death threat, but the media treated them very differently. An article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that when the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown booked Hirsi Ali to speak, along with other Islamic leaders, a Johnstown Imam “tried to block" her from speaking and thinks she should be put to death. Other than the Pittsburgh article, the only news coverage of this was local. Here's a group of men who tried to prevent a woman from speaking and advocated her death, and even in a world hyper-aware of violence against women, the rest of the media ignored the situation and statements like this (emphasis mine throughout):

Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali's appearance.

"She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death," said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.

The media didn’t ignore Sharpton’s death threats after he denounced radio shock jock Don Imus’ recent remarks, even though, so far, there are no roaming gangs of talk radio fans beheading people who “defame” Imus. Except for the ones held by tourists, there wasn’t a camera in the country that hadn’t recorded Sharpton ranting about Imus and discussing death threats, at least until the Virginia Tech shootings took the media's attention.

As a minority who endured female genital mutilation, beatings and an arranged marriage and who has a solid stance on human rights, Hirsi Ali should be a darling of feminists and of the media and cultural elite of America, especially when she speaks out against religious bigotry, the subjugation of women and violence against women and homosexuals. However, because she dares to criticize Islam, she gets the cold shoulder.

Aside from the call for Hirsi Ali’s death; the Islamic leaders in Johnstown did not even want her to say anything negative about Islam, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review minimized that. The smaller Johnstown Tribune-Democrat did not and zeroed right in on this attempt to quiet Hirsi Ali:

[Founder and past president of the Islamic Center of Johnstown Mahmood A.] Qazi , who has resided in the region for approximately 13 years, said the Muslim community here gets along well with others.

“I don’t want this woman (Hirsi Ali) to create dissension among us,” he said. “I don’t want her to poison anyone’s mind.”

Maybe it's that "Iron City" moxie, but, in a rare move, the Pittsburgh paper did address in more detail the prevalence of extremism than the Johnstown paper, and showed the difference in how dissent is handled in modern Islam and in modern Christianity and Judiasm. Charles C. Haynes from the First Amendment Center was "stunned" by ElBayly's comments:

"There are more radical, extreme views of Islam in European counties than in the U.S. It's rare to hear it and even more rare to learn that American Muslims believe it," he said.

This kind of reporting is a rarity. The fact that the media refuse to embrace someone with the characteristics they usually lionize, much less publicize death threats, indicates there is an unofficial policy of not criticizing Islam, even when it is in the wrong.


UPDATE: a Jihad Watch reader transcribed a conversation with Imam ElBayly (emphasis mine and JW):

Me: I understand that you called for the murder of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

ElBayly: Oh no no, that was not correct.

Me: I have the quote right here. You said, "She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death."

ElBayly: Yes, but that is not my word. That is the call of God.

Me: So you said that.

ElBayly: Before anybody gets into the relations with Islam [I couldn't type fast enough to type everything he said] ... you don't get into the relationship with Islam [...] what Ali did is called corruption on earth. It is worse than murder. She was disturbing the peace. That is not a peaceful life.


UPDATE II: Hot Air has Hirsi Ali's response to John Gibson on his radio show when he asked her what she thinks of ElBayly's statement that she deserves to die for defaming Islam(emphasis mine):

Exactly right, retorts AHA; that’s what the Koran says. The man’s just following his religion. The takeaway: “This imam has been strikingly honest.”

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