LaFayette, Louisiana–Before, hearing the constant din of Muslim-bashing taking place on both the mainstream and alternative media in America only aggravated him. However, when a car was recently set ablaze in the parking lot of the LaFayette Islamic Center (to which he is the newly-elected president) and accompanied with notes written in the language of an approaching lynch mob, he decided that enough was enough.
“I am an American citizen” said Hesham Tillawi, president of the LaFayette Islamic Center, who has announced his decision to file a lawsuit against persons and entities responsible for creating the present state of anti-Islamic hysteria sweeping the nation. “My wife and children are American citizens. We came here to find freedom, not violence and hatred. This week it was an empty car set on fire. How long before it is my own home, or before someone slashes my throat, like took place last month to the cab driver in New York?”
For Tillawi, at issue here is that–despite nothing being proven in a court of law viz-a-viz who exactly carried out the terrorist attacks on 9/11, nevertheless–the entire Islamic world has been charged, convicted and sentenced in the court of public opinion. The entities responsible for creating this climate of suspicion now resulting in daily acts of violence against Muslims in America and throughout the West is this 2-headed monster represented by the U.S. government on one side and the news media–both mainstream and alternative–on the other. According to Tillawi– “What started out as a series of terrorist attacks blamed on 19 Middle Eastern men has now expanded to include the religion of Islam itself and along with that, 1.5 billion men, women and children who are its followers. We are talking about 9 years, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day where Islam is being slandered and falsely portrayed by certain parties who stand to gain a lot by fomenting this clash of civilizations between Muslims and the West. In this kind of climate, I am not safe. My children and friends are not safe, and there is no reason to expect things are going to get better unless we push back against the lies and the calumny. Wasn’t this the lesson we were supposed to learn from the Holocaust? Do we have to wait until 6 million of us are killed? Is that the magic number where it is okay for us to step up and say ‘enough!’?”
When asked about including the media–both mainstream and alternative–in the lawsuit, he was unequivocal. “Freedom of speech is not the freedom to lie. You lie in court and you go to jail. You deliberately ruin someone’s reputation, resulting in tangible damage being done to that person and you are liable. Those in the media–both mainstream and alternative–are supposed to check their facts before printing them. Anyone sitting down with a copy of the Koran for even 5 minutes can see that what’s been alleged about the Muslim people and their religion is a mountain of lies, and with disastrous results. This is not an issue of ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘balance’ as some individuals in the mainstream and alternative media like to claim as their defense. This is about responsible journalism, because ideas lead to actions and those actions can result in dramatic events in others’ lives. If I were to spread lies about the reputation of someone that resulted in harm being done to him, should I be held accountable? Of course. If I shout “Fire! in a crowded movie theater, resulting in a stampede where people are injured or even killed, can I claim ‘freedom of speech?’ No way. And that’s what both the U.S. government and media have done, only instead of yelling “Fire” in a crowded movie theater they have yelled “Muslim!”.
At present Tillawi is assembling his legal team for the case. Some of those contacted are household names in the field of law who have navigated through both the Federal court system and media frenzies of the past. As soon as the final details have been worked out and the law suit is ready to be filed, another press release will be issued to keep the public up to date.
As far as restitution, Tillawi has still not decided on a number. “To me, there is no amount of money that would bring justice to the innocent people whose lives have been destroyed by the deliberate campaign to demonize Muslims.”
One thing he has decided for sure though, which is that in the event the case goes to court and a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs is reached, that one of the outcomes will be a public announcement on the part of both the U.S. Government and media that Islam was not responsible for the events of 9/11.
Tillawi ended the interview saying “We came to America to find freedom and to live in peace as good American citizens. This remains our dream, but we know it will not be realized if we are forced to live as hunted animals in our own country.”
Developments as they occur…
© 2010 Mark Glenn