The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the story (emphasis added):
A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Islamic leaders tried to block the lecture, which was sponsored through an endowment from the Frank J. and Sylvia T. Pasquerilla Lecture Series. They argued that Hirsi Ali’s attacks against the Muslim faith in her book, “Infidel,” and movie, “Submission,” are “poisonous and unjustified” and create dissension in their community.
Although university officials listened to Islamic leaders’ concerns, the lecture planned last year took place Tuesday evening under tight security, with no incidents.
Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali’s appearance.
“She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death,” said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.
Hirsi Ali, an atheist, has been critical of many Muslim beliefs, particularly on subjects of sexual morality, the treatment of women and female genital mutilation. In her essay “The Caged Virgin,” she also wrote of punishment, noting that “a Muslim’s relationship with God is one of fear.”
“Our God demands total submission. He rewards you if you follow His rules meticulously. He punishes you cruelly if you break His rules, both on earth, with illness and natural disasters, and in the hereafter, with hellfire,” she wrote.
In some Muslim countries, such as Iran, apostasy — abandoning one’s religious belief — and blasphemy are considered punishable by death under sharia, a system of laws and customs that treats both public and private life as governable by God’s law.
Sharia is based largely on an interpretation of the Quran, the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, a consensus of Islamic scholars and reasoning, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. In some countries, sharia has been associated with stoning to death those who are accused of adultery, flogging for drinking wine and amputation of a hand for theft.
One of the most noted cases of apostasy in recent years involved author Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” offered an unflattering portrayal of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. The book prompted Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa — a religious decree — in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s assassination.
Although ElBayly believes a death sentence is warranted for Hirsi Ali, he stressed that America is not the jurisdiction where such a crime should be punished. Instead, Hirsi Ali should be judged in a Muslim country after being given a trial, he added.
“If it is found that a person is mentally unstable, or a child or disabled, there should be no punishment,” he said. “It’s a very merciful religion if you try to understand it.”
No thank you.
More from the article:
Zahida Chaudhary, a member of the education council and education secretary at the Muslim Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Monroeville, insisted that Islam is a peaceful religion.
“The Prophet Mohammed was a peacemaker and a role model for humanity,” she said. “My understanding is that he was a peaceful person who believed that religion was a choice. He tried to teach people and bring them into it, not punish them.”
Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57:
Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”