After a police raid Friday at Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland, bakery employee Devaughndre Broussard admitted to murdering Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post. Bailey was writing a series of investigative articles about the Bakery – and that's why, according to police, Broussard killed him.
Your Black Muslim Bakery is an outpost of the Nation of Islam, not of any orthodox Islamic sect, but in this murder Devaughndre Broussard has followed a pattern that some orthodox Muslims have also followed. Violent reprisal has long been an occupational hazard of those who dare to question or investigate Islamic groups or criticize Islamic practices. Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered in November 2004 by a Muslim who took exception to his criticism of the oppression of women in Islamic societies. In 1947, the Iranian lawyer Ahmad Kasravi was murdered in court by Islamic jihadists; Kasravi was there to defend himself against charges that he had attacked Islam.
Four years later, members of the same radical Muslim group, Fadayan-e Islam, assassinated Iranian Prime Minister Haji-Ali Razmara after a group of Muslim clerics issued a fatwa calling for his death. In 1992, the Egyptian writer Faraj Foda was murdered by Muslims enraged at his "apostasy" from Islam — another offense for which traditional Islamic law prescribes the death penalty. Foda's countryman, the Nobel Prizewinning novelist Naguib Mahfouz, was stabbed in 1994 after accusations of blasphemy. And of course, there is the Iranian regime's notorious death fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
Chauncey Bailey, moreover, is not the first person in the United States to have been murdered by a Muslim who didn't like what he said. That distinction may belong to Rashad Khalifa, an unorthodox interpreter of the Qur'an who was murdered in Tucson, Arizona, in January 1990 – probably by a member of the jihadist group Jamaat al-Fuqra. But Bailey's is still a singular case. Much more common has been the practice of trying to intimidate critics into silence through legal threats.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has had great success with this over the years, although lately the tactic appears to be faltering. CAIR was unsuccessful in bullying the Young America's Foundation into canceling a talk by me last week: the address went on as scheduled on Thursday. In 2006, CAIR dropped a lawsuit against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR after Mr. Whitehead's attorney asked a series of probing questions during the discovery process. But before that, CAIR successfully cowed National Review magazine, Fox's 24, and others into muting in various ways their criticism of Islamic violence and extremism.
Nor is CAIR alone among Muslims in its efforts at legal intimidation. Billionaire Saudi financier Khalid bin Mahfouz has sued journalist Rachel Ehrenfeld and others for libel in the U.K., where the libel laws favor plaintiffs. Ehrenfeld's offense? In her book Funding Evil, she wrote that bin Mahfouz was involved in funding Hamas and al Qaeda. Bin Mahfouz denied that he had knowingly given any money to either. And Cambridge University Press has, in response to another libel suit filed by bin Mahfouz, just removed from circulation and destroyed all unsold copies of Alms for Jihad by Robert Collins and J. Millard Burr, because the book made essentially the same allegations. But France's foreign intelligence agency has recently revealed that as long ago as 1996 Mr. bin Mahfouz was known as one of the architects of a banking scheme constructed for the benefit of Osama bin Laden – and that both U.S. and British intelligence services knew this.
The most notorious attempt at legal intimidation of all may be the Flying Imams case, in which six imams are suing US Airways because they were removed from a flight for suspicious behavior. They are also – although some reports now dispute this – suing the passengers who reported them. If this suit succeeds, imagine the effect: no one will dare report suspicious behavior in an airport or airplane, for fear of being sued. And jihad terrorists will have a free hand.
The lawyer for the Flying Imams is Omar T. Mohammedi, who as of 2006 was president of CAIR's New York chapter.
The murder of Chauncey Bailey should provide renewed impetus to call upon the American Muslim community to take genuine action against the deeply ingrained culture of violence that provides the context in which such things happen. And the pattern of legal intimidation has been followed so many times now that Americans are becoming increasingly aware of how it works and how it can and must be resisted. For if this intimidation – both violent and nonviolent – is not resisted, those who are doing the intimidating will eventually succeed in establishing a protected class in America, an ideology that cannot be questioned or rejected. And that, more than anything else, will be the end of any semblance of Constitutional government.