Recently on Egyptian TV, Dr. Abdullah Badr, an Al Azhar graduate and professor of Islamic exegesis, proclaimed that a new day has arrived, when there will be absolutely no more toleration for anyone who speaks against Islam—including people who speak against the implementation of Sharia law and its draconian punishments.
Currently on trial for libel and defamation of female Egyptian artist Elham Shahin—whom, among many other derogatory statements, he called a "whore"—an unrepentant Badr, appeared again on TV, and made the following oath:
I have sworn to Allah, that any dog—for that is how Allah described them, for they are like dogs that are constantly panting—that any dog who mocks the Sharia, or mocks Islam, or blames it, we will cut his tongue out, I'm saying it here: We will cut his tongue out! That's it. The time of transgressing against Islam, and speaking insolence, has passed—it's over. Today, the People of Lies [code for secular people] defend their falsehoods with great zeal; so shall we will defend Islam with all our might—no matter what it costs, no matter what it costs! I'm saying it here and now: Let the whole world burn, but Islam not be mocked.
None of this is figurative. Days after Dr. Badr made these pronouncements, on October 30, a roaming band of Salafis in Suez attacked and severely beat a young Egyptian grocery store worker, and even tried to cut off his hand, because he prevented one of their gang from using the store bathroom without permission, to which the bearded Salafi had responded: "I do not ask for permission."
The assaulted youth's brother, angered at what had happened, "insulted the men." Accordingly, Suez's new Sharia enforcers, who call themselves the "Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice"—styling themselves after Saudi Arabia's "morality" thugs—ordered that the man's tongue be cut out, claiming that he had insulted Islam (this is the same group that earlier stabbed to death a young Egyptian man for walking in public with his fiancée).
The father of the two boys, a longtime local, gave more detail, including how he had never seen the Salafi group, who "spoke in formal/Quranic Arabic"; also, in this video, the father explains how one of the Salafis, "a short man," kept screaming at the top of his voice that his son "has insulted the religion! His tongue must be severed as soon as possible!"
With help from others, the youth managed to escape Sharia justice.
Not all attempts of tongue-cutting are failed; nor is this matter limited to the Salafis of Egypt. In May 2011, a poet in Yemen had his tongue cut out by "unknown assailants," supposedly for writing a poem in praise of Yemeni dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh, who opposed the Islamist uprising. It is worth remembering that the prophet of Islam himself regularly had poets who offended him assassinated, including one woman who was slaughtered while suckling her babe in her house at night.
Also, in April 2011, in "moderate" Bahrain, a muezzin was attacked, beat, tortured—including with boiling oil—and had his tongue cut, reportedly to Islam's war cry, "Allahu Akbar!"
Indeed, even in the non-Muslim world, Muslims are hacking at tongues. In Australia, a Muslim man was recently sentenced to eight-and-a-half years' jail time "for severing a woman's tongue." Among other things, he invaded the apartment of a non-Muslim woman he was formally involved with and "smashed an empty bottle over the 20-year-old's head several times, fracturing her eye socket. Tahir then dragged a knife across her face, cutting her mouth and severing her tongue, the court heard."
Why so much violence against the tongue? For the same reason that Dr. Badr would rather see the whole world set aflame than Islam insulted: the tongue—which utters words and free speech—is fundamental to exposing and combating the things of Islam, whether formal, Sharia law or whether the violent, supremacist culture born of it, very much in accord with the words of the 13th century Sheikh of Islam himself, Ibn Taymiyya: "Waging war verbally against Islam may be worse than waging war physically."
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.