Islamic leaders in Missouri and New Jersey are calling for lawmakers to limit free speech after an anti-Muslim film sparked outrage across the world.
The Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City has launched a petition calling on Congress to “establish a law against insulting one’s religion.”
“We understand the First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and, as such, prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, etc., but when the allowance of “free” speech incites violence it should be banned,” read a statement from the Islamic Society.
While condemning the violence that was originally blamed on the film, the Muslim group said ti would “be in everyone’s interest to ban such actions from reoccurring.”
“We condemn the violence and feel that, in spite of the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, action may be necessary to pass such a bill or, at least, censure such actions in order to calm the current situation as well as prevent future re-occurrences,” the statement read.
The Islamic Society in Kansas City is not alone in their calls for limiting free speech.
“We, as Americans, have to put limits and borders [on[ freedom of speech,” Imam Mohammad Qatanani told The Blaze.
He leads the Islamic Center of Passaic County, one of the largest mosques in New Jersey.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, told Fox News that he doesn’t believe the calls for speech restrictions will go anywhere.
“I think it’s just an expression of frustration at the insults directed at the Prophet Mohammed,” he said. “It’s really a non-starter. The First Amendment protects freedom of expression – – even hate speech.”
Hooper said mainstream Americans should be promoting mutual understanding.
“The real answer is to promote more speech – but speech directed at promoting mutual understanding and not interfaith hostility,” he said.
And Hooper said in this day and age it’s nearly impossible to limit speech.
“Even if one wanted to put limitations on any type of speech – in the Internet era – it’s just impossible,” he said. ‘no matter what anyone would try and censor there would always be a way around it.”
Paul Kengor, a professor of political science at Grove City College, told Fox News he is not surprised at the calls to limit free speech.
“This is America,” Kengor said. “You have the right to be critical and even insulting of other religious beliefs – so long as you do it in a peaceful and nonviolent way. That’s what makes us different from the Muslim world – where you generally don’t have those same rights.”
Kengor said he is interested to see how liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union responds to the petition.
“Are they going to stay true to their convictions of freedom of expression or are they going to hold a double standard here and accommodate Muslims?”
The ACLU did not return calls seeking comment.