Why Mohamed Elhassan, the Dallas Imam Who Played Defense Attorney in Quran-Torching Church, Says He "Admires" Terry Jones

Categories: News, Religion
MohamedElhassan.jpeg
Mohamed Elhassan, a Sufi imam and business owner here in Dallas, lost his case for the Koran last month in Terry Jones' Florida church.
When Florida pastor Terry Jones finally made good on the threat he'd been toying with in the press for months, to burn a Quran in his church, it set off days of deadly protests in Afghanistan. And while U.S. military officials and lawmakers work to undo the damage he caused, and President Obama condemns the book-burning, Jones is seeking retribution. His church in Gainesville, Florida, denies responsibility for the riots.

There is a Dallas man involved in all of this: Sheik Mohamed Elhassan, who played defense attorney in Jones's mock trial and failed to sway the "court" at the Dove World Outreach Center. He's the man referred to in most news reports simply as "a Dallas imam." And he's not shying away from the controversy. As a matter of fact, he says, he is looking for a local church where he can mount an appeal.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Elhassan told Unfair Park that while he doesn't feel Jones gave him enough time to make his case, he's still "proud to be a defender of the Holy Quran."

Even after the violent response to the Quran burning in Jones's church, Elhassan says he doesn't feel responsible for the backlash. "I went there to make it not happen," he says.

He says he appreciates Jones giving him a forum to defend the Quran in terms of Sufism, a more mystical, new-age reading of the text. "I admire Terry Jones for doing that," he says.

"From my heart, I feel very OK. But I have some people who don't like that from my Muslim brothers. I see their faces, they don't want me to go and talk. But this is my opinion. I'm not living in Sudan, or Saudi Arabia. I'm living in a free land," Elhassan says.

Elhassan says he heard Jones's church was looking for someone to bring a legal defense of the Quran in their court, and was glad to be the one they picked."They put an ad on their channel: 'Whoever feels in himself he has the power to defend Quran is welcome,'" he recalls. "I was chosen by accident. It was not a setup, as other media said."

Elhassan says he knew Jones had threatened to burn a Quran in the past, but understood that this time the church was simply holding a trial.

"They said they were not going to do it," he says. "So I went there. But when they did burn the Quran, I was not there." He says Jones gave him and his family the opportunity to leave the church before the book met its sentence.

Still, Elhassan says he didn't nearly get a fair shake in their trial, and he's looking to make it right.

"It was far from fair. It was not fair," he says, "so now we are doing an appeal. I am looking for a brave priest like Terry Jones, because I am going to bring all the evidence that the Quran is not guilty." Today, he says, he's making calls to local churches in Dallas and Irving, hoping to find another pastor interested in church into a courtroom for the Quran.

Elhassan, who was born in Sudan, is no stranger to debate -- he ran against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir last year, and says he faced the same backlash he's hearing now from traditional Muslims who disagree with his "New Testament" view of the Quran. He says he has serious issues with the hardline, traditional readings of the text, and he's writing a book about his reading of the Koran -- with working titles like Jesus Among Us With the Quran, or The New Understanding of the Quran.

"Now Terry Jones has made a path," he says. "People need to understand the meaning of the Holy Quran. Whoever follows the Old Testament needs to ask himself why he does not go to the market and kill everybody, any nonbeliever wherever he finds them."
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Sanders Kaufman
Sanders Kaufman

This goes to show that we Americans need to take a second look at the whole "freedom of religion" thing in our Constitution - and to maybe harshen it up to be a bit less tolerant of religion.

God knows - they've been harshly intolerant of us.

Booger
Booger

Oddly enough - Mathematicians aren't making public statements of protest by burning Chemistry books. I mean they teach very different things, don't they?

Religions tend to be divisive and exclusionary. I think it's time we put religions in the proper context - historical reference - not current doctrine.

Jim Bob Guthrie
Jim Bob Guthrie

Elhassan is a great example for Muslims to follow. Not just in Dallas, but the world. We're proud of you!

Paul Miller
Paul Miller

Put your forehead on the floor and your booty up in the air and continue to pray to a murdering rapist, that was hellbent on gaining Power and Control. Muhammad was able to trick the Stupid with a blueprint he found in christianity and it's followers. Religons sucks and God is Not Great. Let's not be idiots for the next 2,000 years

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I wish they'd be inspired to be peaceful. It would have really shocked me if they had been rational about the situation. They wouldn't have occupiers if they could rule themselves and keep rogue elements from having their basecamps there. Besides burning a Koran here, a large portion of the population is Christian, eats pork, and women work. I don't know how there aren't massive protests for those 3 by themselves.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Muslims have a problem with pork, the other issues are no issue. Muslims and Christians have lived peacefully side by side or centuries, as have Muslims and Jews. And, women working is their right under Islam.

But, you ignore a few vital facts. 40 yrs ago, Afghanistan was a very stable place. Women's role was relatively advanced for the region. Specifically, Afghan women enjoyed a greater role in society than they did in Pakistan and India. This region is the focus of the "Great Game" between Russia and Britain. The British destabilized the area, poisoning the Indian divide and moderate Afghanistan which had managed to stay relatively free of either Russian or British influence.

Afghanistan is NOT part of the Middle East, the histories are different, and some of the claims and assumptions that are somewhat true about the Middle East, aren't as applicable to Afghanistan. Specifically, over a dozen years after the British had left the region, we armed the Mujuhadeen to draw the Russians into Afghanistan, to enjoy their own Vietnam. We were happy to see war divide Afghanistan, for it's economy to crumble and its people become so desperate. So, forgive them their mistrust, and don't forget our slights against them--after all Jesus councils us to keep that in mind, as does Mohammad and the Torah. We should all be able to agree on that one.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Middle East Asia then? The issue that drew us in was the Taliban and their ways, I apologize for not making that clear, so I'm sorry. I don't consider myself overly religious, I think for someone to interpret things that were written thousands of years ago, just isn't doable these days. We do take our religious freedoms for granted. Outside of our hemisphere you are persecuted for your religious beliefs. Some of you might not give a damn about religion but for those that do, that's huge.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Right, but the story I told gets you to a broken state where we armed religious warriors, trained them to oppose foreign interference. We helped establish religious schools in Afghanistan to radicalize the people. We then left right after the Russians left, leaving a broken country to fester, infected with our guns, radicalization, scars of war. Then, a dozen years later, Al Qaida attacked us, not the Taliban. The Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden if we'd present evidence. Even still, Bush's top command told our soldiers to stand down and not disrupt the evacuation of 3 jumbo jets leaving Tora Bora. The head of the Pakistani ISI is appointed and approved by our own CIA head. The ISI has funneled money, guns and support to Al Qaida. But, the simple narrative you've recounted is likely all there is to the story. All these contradictory facts are just a smokescreen.

And, then there's this story just today, "George W. invited Bin Laden's son to White house. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new...

Daniel
Daniel

So where are all the rational Muslims?

Oh. Wait. Right.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Keeping their heads down and hoping this all goes away, just like all the rational Christians and Jews every time someone twists those religions to their own ends.

Mike B.
Mike B.

How did they pick the jury in the mock trial? If there was no jury, who were they trying to convince-the Gainseville congregation who was probably there to see a book burning anyways?

J Michael Daniel Jr
J Michael Daniel Jr

Do I dare tread? Here we go.

I was raised poor southern baptist, was once told by a deacon that my family didn't contribute enough to participate in the church social activities. Fast-forward to teen years and considered myself christian enough to get the enjoyment of being accepted with peers who seemed to be upwardly mobile. Freshman year in college I took a world religions class that opend my eyes to all religions. I have never consistently practiced any faith but have participated in many and I consider my self religious in self faith. Late college and grad studies I made many friends of many religions that range from fundamental to cross cultural marriages.

I have had muslims drink me under the table, I have watched hindus beat me in a burger match...sheesh I even got in a 6 month bitter argument with a buddhist. I'm heterosexual but Ian Kinsler is a JILF(big bob is a close second).

Point is, the fringe get the press(self-centered media). A slim minority of all religions practice the fringe elements so no need to worry over the petty arguments of the few. Just be humane, be yourself, listen to others and we will all be better for it.-----my god i'm becomming a hippy.

Why Mohamed Elhassan didn't just play the "Chewbacca" defense

http://www.strimoo.com/video/1...

ad show clips of Westboro Baptist Church in action is beyond me.

Usaabd
Usaabd

Because I am from middle east I read and write Arabic, Islam is the Problem by "Muhammad "called himself the Prophet , to understand Islam, Islam itself is the problem, reading the Quran and Hadith books by Arabic, Islam from beginning to the present time, incite violence, killing in daily practice. terrorism carried out in the name of Islam . Islam is the manual for terrorism. American, western Europe and free world must stand up to expose the dangerous and the hatred of Islam to the world . Islam is infected disease as concern. humanity to put an end to this kind of helplessness and cowardice in the face of this inhumane behavior.

scottindallas
scottindallas

apparently you've never read the book of Joshua. Apparently you know nothing of millenialist Christians who believe that the recitation of a syllogism makes you beloved in God's eyes and all others are damned to hell.

slohand
slohand

so a guy burned a book.....so a bunch of knuckleheads in another land, far different than ours decided it a good idea to burn a bunch of their own stuff (cut your nose off to spite your face? ahem) in defiance.....wonder if these people ever step outside and look in for a moment....wonder if they did, would they be surprised? For as different as we are to them, so they are to us.This guy is a clown in FL, but I will say at least he has the nuts, for whatever his personal reasons, to light the torch. One way or another, this thing needs to be resolved internationally. it would be wonderful if this could be addressed rationally as adults, but given it's spiraled so far out of control, I think we're past that.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

if they burn a Cowboys jersey I'm going to be enraged.

scottindallas
scottindallas

The difference here is that you are ignoring that WE are occupying their land. We've been doing this for decades and demonstrating our wrath, and disregard for their children. When we show such callous regard for their traditions, they rightly bristle against our rule. You remove the US occupation of Afghanistan, the US support of corrupt satraps, the use of "democracy" and "liberation" only to subjugate and pilfer then you might get a better sense of the deep and righteous resentment that they have towards our occupation. How can we justly rule a people we seem to think so little of?

slohand
slohand

I agree. And wrapped that up in my final sentence. I will confess a certain amount of shame. Not because I did nothing about it, but because I knew so little about it. It's my ignorance, and you rightly called that. That being said, given I wasn't an architect of this, nor any of these endeavors, (nor slavery, nor our fellow American Indians) I feel threatened internally because, as it's beginning to appear, nothing is as it seems. We have a major breakdown of our own internal policies that have allowed certain veins to get away with things that DO NOT represent the majority of American's sentiment towards resolve in ANY given situation.Much like the stock market; if there are no checks in balances in place to ensure integrity, and you buy into the belief that we all promulgate a sense of right (and decency) - you're gonna loose.I don't have the answer, maybe a civil discord of our own ~ but clearly, things need to change here as well. This is a classic example of what happens when you have entombed political structures as opposed to the many countries out there that had/have very simple political paradigms (dictatorships) that are more susceptable to change. I don't have the answer my fellow American, but I do personally believe if I had to pin it down to but one word, I would simply say, "boycott".peace.

scottindallas
scottindallas

You ask what, if not oil. Actually, the Middle East was the source of great wealth and wisdom, much of it derived from the trade routes which brought spices, food, gold, knowledge and all the advantages of trade. These were a source of great strength for the Ottomans. In fact, when the British and the Spanish Armada were duking it out in the Atlantic, neither country could sail safely through the Eastern Mediterranean. The Corsairs, or the Barbary Pirates extracted tribute from the Europeans, and the US' first war was fought against Libya. We basically lost, finally resolving to pay the tribute of a $1,000,000/yr. It was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire which was finally utterly destroyed in WW1. The Treaty of Paris divided those lands among French and British negotiators. The very issues that they created then, persist today. According to Ed Wallace, the single best book is "A Peace to End All Peace" to capture this narrative, the very families that were handpicked then, and who still rule today--still thanks to Anglo direction.

Benjamin Germany
Benjamin Germany

Throughout known history, the Middle East has been almost constantly occupied by varying hostile empires, with extremely varying beliefs, cultures, religions, etc. Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Turks; all have come and gone. Occupation is nothing new to these people, which is part of the reason why they are a culture steeped in mistrust of any outsiders, and violently opposed to any control not from within.

slohand
slohand

so the question (at least in my mind) then becomes; "why"? It can't be because of 'oil'. Or maybe back in the 'before' time, it was hair oil. Or maybe it's because they've consistently exposed/expressed a hostile temperament. I don't know. When I was a kid, the only middle eastern person I knew was a cartoon character.This was why many people, imo, voted for Obama - transparency....that we've yet to see from the source.

Drthomas Ahmad
Drthomas Ahmad

Islam is a religion that contains two contradictory messages. One message apparently peaceful and the other hostile and violent. Out of fear for his life and having less followers Muhammad could not use violent approach when he was in Makkah. 72 people accepted Islam during 13 years of his preaching. However, as soon as Muhammad moved to Medina and gained more followers he claimed that Allah has ordered him to strike off the neck of every one refuses to accept him as the messenger of God. Therefore, in ten years time Muhammad converted by the sword the entire inhabitants of Arabia. Accordingly, Islam became two religions in one. However, the Qur’an tells us that the violent approach abrogated the peaceful approach. While he is dying Muhammad said, “I have been made victorious through TERROR and the booties of my enemies are halal to me (i.e. the women, children, wealth, and properties of the infidels are rightful for Muhammad and his followers). No one can understand Islam if he read the Qur’an only.

The Qur'an is a book full of contradictions, repetitions, and confusions that it is impossible to understand it without reading the works of Muslim commentators and biographers. Besides, the Qur’an contains one third of the message of Muhammad. 75% of the teachings of Muhammad which abuse women and encourage and instigate his followers to kill those who refuse Islam are found in the Sunna (hadiths). That is why Muslim scholars collectively forbid anyone to try to understand the Qur’an by himself/herself. Moreover, Muslim scholars throughout the history of Islam argued that no one is allowed to interpret the Qur’an if he doesn’t know the Nasikh (abrogator) verses and the Mansukh (abrogated) verses of the Qur’an. For instance, one single verse in Sorah altouba 9: 5 is known as the Verse of the Sword and has abrogated or nullified the legal power of 124 verses of the Qur’an which speak about peace and avoiding killing infidels. Therefore, no Muslim scholar is allowed to make a Shari’a law out of those abrogated verses.

http://muslimsliberationmoveme... abdelrahman.ahmed22@yahoo.ca

Paul Miller
Paul Miller

why would people follow a "religion" that is designed to send mixed messages and confuse the message. This criminal conspiracy is such a fraud that muslims are just puppets in the quest for power by islamic tribal power base. Why are muslims always the one's with bombs strapped on. We never have examples of jews or christians or buddhists doing these EVIL deads. Islam == Criminal CONSPIRACY

scottindallas
scottindallas

Uhhh, no, South Americans have reacted EXACTLY the same way to our colonial machinations in their countries as well. You're a tool of Glenn Beck and your war-monger funded pundits.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

"The Qur'an is a book full of contradictions, repetitions, and confusions"

Just like the Bible.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Sadly, this conversation like this going on. In fact, the Quran's take on Jesus offers the only real resolution to the "Jews murdered Jesus" conundrum. After all, if a rabbi were to teach that he was god incarnate, that would be blasphemy. If, as Muslims suggest that Jesus is the Messiah, though not God, that is a message that could unite Muslims, Christians and Jews under one banner.

Paul Miller
Paul Miller

Religion is a FRAUD. Wake-up. Religion is a method to CONTROL and keep power in the hands of a limited # of men. Ghosts , spirits , angels, etc etc , GIVE me a f'n break. It's dirt and worms so get over it

scottindallas
scottindallas

Islam is the least hierarchical of the three faiths, there is no one who speaks for all the others, each is his own imam. The mosques are simply adorned and non-denominational. In the Sufi tradition and among adherents you will find a faith and tradition that doesn't proselytize, believes in keeping private matters private and is the most welcoming.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I've noticed you've got a lot of hate inside you after reading some of your other posts. Mad at the world much?

Paul Miller
Paul Miller

actually much love. I'm a man of peace , unlike the religions of the world. I will not kill in the name of a "Holy Spirit". I do good deeds to show my love of mankind. I DO NOT use control and intimidation to influence people. "Sweet" talk and lies get nowhere with me , so save your feelgood diatribe for the ignorant. Good Actions are what it is all about

Nancy
Nancy

I am very proud of Mohamed Elhassan and his new understanding.

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