A professor of Islamic exegesis at Cairo's preeminent Islamic university, Al Ahzar, Dr. Abdullah Badr, recently proclaimed on Egyptian television that a new day has arrived: apparently from now on, 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 seventh century punishments.
Badr is currently on trial for possibly libeling and defaming a female Egyptian artist, Elham Shahin, whom he called, among other disparagements, 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 out his tongue. I say this without hesitation: We will cut out his tongue! That's it. The time of transgressing against Islam, and speaking insolence, has passed—it is over. Today, the People of Lies [code for secular people] defend their falsehoods with great zeal; so shall we defend Islam with all our might—no matter what it costs, no matter what it costs! 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, severely beat and tried to cut the hand off a young Egyptian grocery store worker because he prevented one of their gang from using the store bathroom without permission. The bearded Salafi had said: "I do not ask for permission."
The assaulted youth's brother, angered at what had happened, then "insulted the men." Accordingly, Suez's new roaming band of Sharia enforcers, who call themselves the "Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," after Saudi Arabia's "morality police," claimed that he had insulted Islam and ordered that the man's tongue be cut out. 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 have failed, nor is this matter limited to the Salafis of Egypt. On May 3, 2011, a poet in Yemen had his tongue cut out by "unknown assailants," supposedly for writing a poem in praise of the Yemeni dictator Ali Abdallah Saleh, who opposes the Islamist uprising there. The prophet Muhammad regularly had poets who offended him assassinated, including one woman slaughtered while suckling her baby in her house at night.
Also, in April 2011, in "moderate" Bahrain, a muezzin was attacked, beaten, tortured—including with boiling oil—and had his tongue cut, reportedly to Islam's war cry, "Allahu Akbar!" in a wave of violence by Bahrain's opposition forces.
In the non-Muslim world, Muslims are also 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 formerly 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 on fire rather 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. As the Sheikh of Islam himself, Ibn Taymiyya, once wrote, "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.