Will the Saudis Succeed in Exporting Shari’a to the US?

Will the Saudis Succeed in Exporting Shari’a to the US? [ahem]

Via the Boston Globe, the current predicament of Rachel Ehrenfeld, Director of the American Center for Democracy and author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, a book exposing the role of a wealthy Saud in funding Al Qaeda. (No link to Amazon as you’ll soon understand.)

AN IMPORTANT question will be argued tomorrow before the federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan: should American journalists who write about controversial issues be subjected to legal intimidation from abroad? More precisely, will American courts halt the growing practice of “libel tourism” whereby wealthy foreigners sue American writers and publishers in England, despite little chance of enforcing the judgment in this country?…

Rather than confront bin Mahfouz on England’s libel-friendly turf, Ehrenfeld sued him in a New York federal court seeking a declaration that his English judgment is unenforceable in the United States as repugnant to the First Amendment.

The English judgment has impaired her ability to find publishers for her other work. Remarkably, the district court dismissed her case, ruling in effect that Ehrenfeld must await legal action in the United States by bin Mahfouz to enforce the English judgment before raising her First Amendment defense. …

Writers are now subject to intimidation by libel tourists. Little wonder that the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Association of American Publishers, and 14 other media groups have filed a “friend of the court” brief to support Ehrenfeld’s quest to raise her First Amendment defense now. Until she is able to do so, she will have problems finding American publishers willing to risk publishing her research and writing.

Judge Robert Casey of The Southern District Court in Manhattan dismissed her case:

But Judge Casey ignored Ehrenfeld’s plea for her First Amendment rights, and decided that he had no jurisdiction over the case. Ehrenfeld is filing an appeal and faces a daunting challenge of raising enough money to support a case that she believes will help determine whether or not American writers will be able to continue to expose America’s enemies.

According to an excellent and alarming article by Robert Locke originally appearing in Dhimmi Watch in July of this year:

The laws of Saudi Arabia, based upon the sharia law mandated by the Koran, do not recognize the rights and freedoms guaranteed Americans by the Constitution. The Saudi government makes no secret of its ambition to export Islamic tyranny worldwide, as the Koran commands. What most Americans don’t realize, is that American courts are helping it in a number of ways. For example, they are collaborating with Saudi attempts to squash the free-speech rights of Americans with abusive libel lawsuits….

British law requires the loser in a court case to pay the winner’s court costs. This is the real attraction for shady millionaires: the chance to bankrupt their opponents into silence. Because of this, Britain has become a Mecca for rich but shady characters seeking to purchase the appearance of legal vindication. There’s even a name for it: libel tourism….

… the larger issue, of course, is how it became the business of a British court to render judgments against American authors. The legal pretext here is laughably flimsy: despite the fact that the book was never published, or even offered for sale, in the UK, 26 Britons bought copies over the Internet from American booksellers like Amazon.com (which, to its credit, joined an amicus brief supporting Dr. Ehrenfeld in this.) And a few downloaded the first chapter, which was posted on the Internet.

By this standard, every author in the United States is now subject to Britain’s Victorian libel laws, and the Declaration of Independence has failed.

Although you’d think that the issue would be crystal clear, you would be wrong:

Whether American courts can block those judgments, or at least certain of their provisions, is a question none of the judges yesterday appeared especially eager to tackle. And the court expressed little interest in the First Amendment concerns that legal observers say are present in the case.

One judge on the panel, Jose Cabranes, seemed worried that a ruling in the researcher’s favor could open up American courts to suits challenging the judgments of other courts across the globe.

And you’ll be pleased to note that in related news:

Democratic strategist and former Michael Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich, and the former American Civil Liberties Union president in Massachusetts, Harvey Silvergate, recently joined the attorneys representing two alleged Boston al Qaeda funders.

Emadeddin Z. Muntasser and Muhammed Mubayyid face charges in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts for the soliciting and expenditure “of funds to support and promote the mujahideen and jihad, including the distribution of pro-jihad publications.” Their Care International “charity,” a now-defunct Boston-based al Qaeda front organization, published, among other things, the English version by al Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam of “Join the Caravan,” which states: “[t]he obligation of Jihad today remains [individually required] until the last piece of land, which was in the hand of the Muslims, but has been occupied by disbelievers, is liberated.”

It’s a religious freedom case. 

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