pageok
pageok
pageok
The Odd Assumption of Islam as Monolith:

In the comments to the post about the Muslim policewoman who was barred from wearing a khimar on the job, one of the commenters expressed regret that the decision "means that observant Muslim women are, in effect, barred from serving as police officers." Another commenter responded,

Considering the restrictions most Muslim countries place on women I'm surprised that she thinks she can be a police officer in the first place, in a country that expects women cops to drive, handle guns, arrest men, etc., just like the male ones. (Saudi Arabia does have women on the police force, but AFAIK they really function as a sort of auxiliary so male cops don't have to manhandle, search, or even talk to non-related women.) OTOH, if she can be flexible about those restrictions, why can't she be flexible about the head-dress? The department isn't requiring that she go bareheaded, just that she wear the uniform hat. As I understand it, Mohammad only prescribed that women be "modest"; interpreting that as any particular garment is a cultural thing, not Islam.

I've heard similar arguments before, but they've always struck me as quite weak, a weakness that we can see if we adapt them to Judaism or Christianity. We know how varied Judaism is -- yet we don't express surprise when, say, a Reform Jewish man refuses to eat pork but doesn't wear a yarmulke. Nor would we, I think, have prisons deny Jewish prisoners pork-free meals just because the prisoners aren't full-on Orthodox, on the grounds that "they're flexible about some Orthodox Jewish religious laws, why can't they be flexible about pork?"

Likewise, some Christians observe a Saturday Sabbath; some observe a Sunday Sabbath; some observe no Sabbath (in the sense of a day of rest) at all. Many Christians are very serious about following some Old Testament rules, but think the others (such as the Sabbath observance and the kosher rules) have been superseded. Why isn't it equally plausible that some Muslims may interpret Islam to allow women a great deal more latitude than the Wahhabi do, yet still preserve some aspects of traditional Islamic women's garb?

Similarly, it's not uncommon for cultural rules and religious obligations to be closely intertwined. As I understand it, the requirement of wearing a yarmulke is a cultural tradition that is not understood even by the Orthodox as being mandated by the Torah. I'm not sure about this, but my sense is that the wearing of Christian-themed jewelry and the placement of ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday is "cultural" in the sense of not being seen as mandated by religion, but is surely linked to religious sentiments.

It may well be that the court's decision in this case is right; I'm not speaking about that here. My point is simply that some American Muslims' rights shouldn't be determined based on what Saudi Muslims do, or even other American Muslims do, just as some American Christians' rights aren't determined based on what other Christians do, and some American Jews' rights aren't determined based on what other Jews do.

Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all include multiple denominations, both formal and informal. And American religious freedom law recognizes that no religion ought to be treated as a monolith with a single Established Official View that somehow affects the rights of all members of that religion.

Joshua:
Islam has a monolithic image to Americans for a reason: While there are indeed many denominations of Islam, a very small number of those denominations, by dint of the wealth, sophisticated organization, aggressive proselytization and/or sheer number of adherents behind them, are today far, far more powerful and influential than the rest. As such, they can claim to speak for the entire ummah (the global Muslim "community", for lack of a better term) and be believed by the vast majority of non-Muslim Westerners who don't know any better. I might add that the aforementioned Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a major backer of one of those few, disproportionately powerful branches of Islam.

Unfortunately, those same few branches also happen to be among the strictest in terms of applying shari'a law, and while they may not support terrorism, ideologically they are still way too close to al Qaeda for comfort.
6.14.2007 9:21pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):
The above post makes sense, but I think there's a simple "Us vs Them" dynamic about it too, not just religions, but different cultures.


I'd hazard a guess that most Americans, even most intelligent Americans, only have a cursory knowledge of the tenets of Islam.

Although I have no information to really suggest this, I'd likewise guess, the average person who grew up in a wholly islamic community knows little more than the basic tenets of Christianity.

When ones knowledge is limited, it's much easier to make assumptions about a whole group rather than nuanced judgments about parts of a group.

It's easier to assume that those women who are islamic but choose not to wear head scarfs may not believe something different than those who do, but are, rather, the equivalent of christians who were baptized as children but now go to Church maybe on Christmas and Easter.

Likewise, one could probably make the same assumption about an average muslim. They may know a fair amount about the basic tenets of christianity, but can they go into detail about what the differences between Catholic and Protestant Christianity are? Probably no more than a Christian could about Sunni and Shia Islam, and with the wearing of headscarves or garments, we're talking about even finer levels of distinction.
6.14.2007 9:34pm
whackjobbbb:
Yeah, that particular religion can't be compared to the other great religions, not straight up. I've listened to those who claim that you MUST read the holy book in arabic, for example, and other translations and usages are substandard. There is a certain amount of monolithism, and certainly it can't be compared to the manner in which the world's other great religions overlay onto the different regions and cultures they've migrated to (1/2 the Catholics in this country pretty much ignore the Pope's edicts, for example, and sorry in advance if that offends some). Some Euros are complaining about distinct cultural enclaves sprouting up here and there, parallel societies almost, and some might say that the recent French election results had a component of backlash to this sorta fracture/rejection of their culture.

Not that this should all make us worried that this cop wants to wear a certain garment, but I do have to ask, since she's making an issue of her religious beliefs, is there any other of her religious beliefs that might make her incapable of performing her job?
6.14.2007 9:36pm
scote (mail):
I think that the theocratic Islamic states help with this false notion. In those states there are national standards for how women must dress.
6.14.2007 9:37pm
Smokey:
If just 1% of Islamists in this country and the EU would stand up publicly and shout out, ''The murdering of innocents is WRONG!!'', maybe I'd start to think that Islam has some saving grace.

But I've been waiting since 9-11-01...

*crickets chirping*
6.14.2007 9:38pm
Henri LeCompte (mail):

Why isn't it equally plausible that some Muslims may interpret Islam to allow women a great deal more latitude than the Wahhabi do, yet still preserve some aspects of traditional Islamic women's garb?


I dunno... Because they shot the last people that tried it?
6.14.2007 9:44pm
scote (mail):
We also shouldn't discount the possiblity that strict codes of dress and food standards are a deliberate construct of these religions designed to isolate them and keep the religion from being diluted. Such precepts can be found in Christiantiy, Islam and Judaism. So, to a certain effect these wounds are "self-inflicted" be the religions themselves--though don't interpret that as a positon against accomodation by me. I haven't taken a position yet, though I'm inclined to think that poliece should be non-denominational in appearance.
6.14.2007 9:44pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
I agree with the claim that we can't distinguish the 'real' religious believers from the 'fake' ones. The choice to call some people lapsed practitioners of one faith or active believers in another (less demanding) faith is purely arbitrary. However, the very policy at issue here requires us to distinguish between religious and non-religious strictures and the exact same argument shows we can't do this either.

If pressed many of my Jewish friends (and I suspect a non-trivial fraction of reform jews) will admit that they keep (partial) kosher and other observances for purely cultural reasons. Yet this sort of cultural refusal to eat pork doesn't warrant any different treatment than a refusal to eat pork because your father chocked on a piece of pork or any other reason. Now at least statistically it seems to be true that members of religious groups who are willing to be flexible on some strictures are more likely to view the other strictures as a purely cultural matter.

Ultimately this puts the government in a very akward place of either having to determine exactly what constitutes a religious belief versus a cultural preference. Alternatively the government can do what it does in practice which is to offer special exemptions based on popularity, i.e., it's religious if the same act is religious to enough people.

Why not just extend the exceptions rule to cover *ANY* strongly felt personal stricture. Leave the government out of WHY you refuse to eat pork so long as you have a strongly felt, consistently practiced habit it should be treated the same.
6.14.2007 9:53pm
agesilaus:
Would an observant Hassidic Jew seek employment in a pork sausage factory? I doubt it. So why would this women seek employement where she should know that she would be required to dress in a uniform?
6.14.2007 9:58pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
A clarification: I'm don't actually think any line can be drawn between cultural practice and religious rule at all. At the very least such a line cannot be drawn without first coming up with a definition of religion, not an easy task. Even then the problem is that most people just do things because that is how they were taught to behave. The average person doesn't have a worked out theology which tells him whether he does something because god cares or because his culture cares.
6.14.2007 10:06pm
scote (mail):

Would an observant Hassidic Jew seek employment in a pork sausage factory? I doubt it. So why would this women seek employement where she should know that she would be required to dress in a uniform?

Well, perhaps she was hoping the US is more tollerant than, say, Saudi Arabia where women can't even drive.

I don't think asking to wear a headscarf is like a Hassidim working in a pork sausage factory, but the need to wear a headscarf is probably not the last accommodation she'll need. I wonder about a Muslim policewoman who can't touch or talk to men? This is quite the can of worms...
6.14.2007 10:07pm
Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka (www):
Would an observant Hassidic Jew seek employment in a pork sausage factory? I doubt it. So why would this women seek employement where she should know that she would be required to dress in a uniform?

Because she was hoping the rules would be modified for her. No different that an Orthodox Jew getting a job in a place that usually requires working on Saturday.
6.14.2007 10:07pm
AnonLawStudent:
As someone who has spent a significant amount of time living in the Islamic world, I think that whackjobbbb is on to something. Even among the educated classes in Morocco, one of the most "liberal" of the Islamic countries, there is a huge amount of identification with a fairly monolithic Islamic world. Consider also the history of prosletyzing in the Middle East - universally unsuccessful, as thoroughly discussed by Michael Oren in "Power, Faith, and Fantasy."

The linguistics of the Koran reinforce the monolithic nature of the religion. Almost unique in Arabic literature, the Koran is fully vowelled and cased, with the specific purpose of removing the ambiguity usually present in written Arabic. Thus, unlike the Bible, differences in meaning or interpretation are absent, with no changes through translational error/choice.
6.14.2007 10:40pm
great unknown (mail):
There is speculation in the article as to possible branches of Islam that allow female police officers acting as a police officer would in this country, yet require a head covering. Is there any evidence that such a branch exists?
If such branches do exist, with membership numbering in the hundreds, would that consitute a valid religious group requiring accomodation? How about ten members? Does a religious branch require a recognized authority as a leader?
Very tricky questions IMHO - it reminds me vaguely of a recent story of a college fraternity organizing as a religion [to get around zoning laws, if I remember correctly].
6.14.2007 10:43pm
Aleks:
Re: We also shouldn't discount the possiblity that strict codes of dress and food standards are a deliberate construct of these religions designed to isolate them and keep the religion from being diluted.

Once upon a time Muslim garb was very similar to the sorts of apparel you'd find men and women wearing in all civilizaed countries (with local variations for climate of course). Respectable Greek and Roman women also covered their heads when they went outdoors, for example. It's not as if Islam created some uber-strict dress code while Christians and Hindus and Buddhists were going about in mini-skirts and tank tops.

Re: Thus, unlike the Bible, differences in meaning or interpretation are absent

If you know anything about language, then you'd see this as absurd: even modern texts where translation and anachronism are not an issue generate considerable argument over their interpretation by native speakers of the languages in which they are written. This is especially true when the text in mystical and rather confusing in nature (as the Qu'ran most certainly is). Moreover no one grows up speaking 7th century Meccan Arabic; it is as much an alien tongue even to a modern Saudi (let alone a Moroccan or Somali) as Byzantine Greek is to a modern day Athenian.
6.14.2007 10:58pm
neurodoc:
EV: It may well be that the court's decision in this case is right...

Is there reason to doubt that the court's decision was right, that is that it was a legally solid one, not likely to be overturned if appealed? If so, I don't know what the reason(s) for doubt might be.

The factual background to this case is rather interesting. It seems that Ms. Webb, who I suspect is a convert to Islam, perhaps a member of the Nation of Islam, if that is indeed Islam as understood by most of the adherents thereof, asked for any special dispensation with regard to uniform when she joined the force in 1995. It was only 7+ years later, in February of 2003, that she asked to be allowed to wear the khimar while on duty, and still later (August 2003) when she defied her superiors orders by wearing it.

scote wondered, quite correctly I think, whether a religiously observant Muslim woman, someone who would see it as a religious obligation to wear the khimar could/would perform all the duties that may be required of a police officer, including talking to and touching men. If she is a regular police officer, not something like a meter maid or school crossing guard, can we reasonably assume that she went through the police academy and in the course of her training there had to wrestle with men?

I don't think courts should be required to delve deeply into religious questions in order to decide whether the accommodation sought is one that should be granted. And this court didn't, in effect assuming that the complainant was sincere in her religious belief, ruling against her because it held that the accommodation sought would impose more than a de minimis cost on the employer. So we need not ask whether the Muslim faith really requires her to wear the khimar (or alternatively, to resign from the police force), nor ask whether it matters that she didn't feel obliged to wear it during the course of her first 7+ years on the job. And the fact that the commissioner who suspended her was himself a Muslim doesn't matter either, except as the court took note of that in deciding that Ms. Webb was not being mistreated on account of religious bias. But if the law was not as clear in this case as I think it was, then these particular facts might come into play.

Now, will Ms. Webb appeal, quit, or accommodate herself to the non-accommodating job?
6.14.2007 11:03pm
Ben Pollitzer (mail):

Thus, unlike the Bible, differences in meaning or interpretation are absent, with no changes through translational error/choice.


I don't quite think you mean that.

If there were no differences in meaning or interpretation there wouldn't be such a thing as Koranic scholarship.


I'll admit there may be less latitude than in Bilical scholarship, but there are legitimate Islamic scholars that put forward moderate interpretations.

If we accept the view of the hard line islamicists, then we only have the option of saying that moderate scholarship is illegitimate.
6.14.2007 11:11pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
On matters of dress, even the Saudis aren't monolithic. They are, however, very much in the midst of a cultural transition.

The Quran differs from the Bible--according to Muslims--because it is not the word of God as transmitted to mankind, but the very words of God which were dictated to the Prophet. Thus, this holy text is considered not only inerrant, but perfect. This is why Quranic exegesis is very limited in its scope.

The Quran was not given vowels and diacritical marks, nor the various consonants 'dotted' until hundreds of years after it was dictated to the Prophet. This leaves huge room for arguing that errors were made. It seems clear to me that Arabic vocabulary abound in words, identical or very close in meaning, which differ only in the position and number of dots marking consonants. As vowels are not generally marked, they are the first to start slipping and sliding in dialects. Arab scholars have spent centuries in trying to determine exactly what the Meccan dialect of the 7th C. was.

All this, without even touching upon the fact that there are at least 11 identifiable languages, from Amharic to Persian, from Aramaic to Greek, that appear in the Quran.
6.14.2007 11:23pm
Elliot123 (mail):
So, if we can't differentiate between cultural and religious practices, are there any practices or customs which would not be candidates for accomodation? What cultural practice cannot be linked to a religious sentiment by someone's personal sincerity?

Are we moving into an area where religion is simply considered any sincerely held belief, and any practice or preference therefore has a religious imprimatur? If that's the case, the only practical response is hard and fast uniform regulations with no exceptions for anything. And that includes the faithful cops who worship at the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster; they would be forbidden to wear small rubber dangling dieties on their lapels.
6.14.2007 11:29pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
So, taking your point to its conclusion, every individual's personal interpretation of whatever religion he professes to profess gets entitled to whatever ritual hoop-de-doo he declares necessary to his spiritual well-being. Even if not one other person believes that, say, it is necessary to carry a live canary in his pocket.
6.14.2007 11:33pm
scote (mail):

It's not as if Islam created some uber-strict dress code while Christians and Hindus and Buddhists were going about in mini-skirts and tank tops.

I didn't actually single out Islam. There isn't really any ancient reason why Hasidim should dress as 18th century noblemen, though it has become a strong tradition. Likewise the Amish.

Separatism is not unique to Islam, however the tenant that Qur'an contains the literal and perfect text of God tends to make Islam one of the less flexible religions, to the point that Islamic scholarship can literally be deadly.
6.14.2007 11:39pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
For me, this case all comes back to the inadviseability (perhaps constitutional conflicts) of having the business end of the State openly displaying a religious preference. Would anyone have a problem with a judge wearing a big shiny crucifix or a priests collar on the bench? I would.

If a Christmas Display is traumatic enough for nonbelievers to warrant its being removed from the public square, how much worse dealing with an armed officer? Would a practicing jew feel intimidated being pulled over on a dark road by a police officer wearing a Khimar (or a crucifix)? Isnt that a legitimate concern?
6.15.2007 12:18am
neurodoc:
So, taking your point to its conclusion, every individual's personal interpretation of whatever religion he professes to profess gets entitled to whatever ritual hoop-de-doo he declares necessary to his spiritual well-being. Even if not one other person believes that, say, it is necessary to carry a live canary in his pocket.

From a court's perspective, need it matter whether 1 person believes "it is necessary to carry a live canary in his pocket," 1,000 believe it, or 1,000,000 believe it? If the police department has no problem with one of its officers carrying about a live canary in his/her pocket, then no case and controversy for the court to adjudicate. If the police department does have a problem with it, and they can show that to allow canaries in officers' pockets would impose more than a de minimis cost on the department, then they need not allow it, no matter the sincerity of the complainant in their belief system or how many others adhere to that belief system.

I think a court would give short shrift to the person asking to be allowed to carry a canary in their pocket while going about their job as a police officer. Do you know of cases in which courts have required that special accommodations be made by employers for religious practices that all but a few of us would see as whacky?
6.15.2007 1:04am
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Annointment with ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday is a long-standing Catholic ritual. It is an official part of the liturgy (the liturgy of a day when you are, in general, religiously obligated to attend Mass), as compared to, say, a Catholic cultural practice of naming one's children after saints. Just an FYI.

Separate FYI: one of your advertisers (can't tell which, but its one of the ones that serves images) has accepted DriveCleaner, which does browser hijacking if your IP does not resolve to the United States. This is approximately the most obnoxious hijack I've ever seen, and works on both FF 2.0 and IE 7.0. As I'm in Japan I've been hijacked three times on the Conspiracy in the last week. I can only imagine they don't hijack American IPs because if they did and major websites started becoming unusable they'd get shut down by the ad network much faster (the hijack makes it impossible to get the browser session back).
6.15.2007 1:06am
Henri Le Compte (mail):
Well, I think that this question misses the fact that Islam is breathtakingly more strict, orthodox, and rigid than any other major world religion. Prof. EV, can you think of the last time major figures in the Judaic or Christian hierarchy issued death edicts upon unorthodox novelists? Or, which Christian or Jewish sect routinely sentences apostates to death? Or, how about this-- have you noticed the extreme sectarian violence that is taking place in Iraq? When did Christian sects last use religion as an excuse to torture each other to death? (the Inquisition?)

Islam, in its current incarnation, with its current practitioners, and its current internal culture, seems to be as inflexible and anachronistic as it could possibly be. That's why.

Islam has, by and large, decided to ignore its potential reformers-- and that's the best case scenario!
6.15.2007 1:44am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Patrick McKenzie: Thanks very much for both items. If people are having technical problems with the site, either because of the ads or because of something else, please do let us know -- but please e-mail me directly (volokh at law dot ucla dot edu) rather than posting a comment, since I don't always read the comments.
6.15.2007 1:46am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Do you know of cases in which courts have required that special accommodations be made by employers for religious practices that all but a few of us would see as whacky?'

Well, I personally think they're all whacky, but, yes, at labor law reviews that I go to from time to time, there are such tales. Sorry, I don't have notes by me. Most of the cases cited to me come from California.
6.15.2007 4:13am
A.C.:
The trouble with Islam and all its claimed restrictions on women is that many of these restrictions are deeply offensive to many westerners. We want to be tolerant of other religions in general, but one religion in particular keeps claiming that it requires things that I consider human rights violations. I keep hoping they'll say they don't mean it, and that the restrictions in question are cultural and therefore subject to change.

Otherwise I'm caught between intolerance for religion and tolerance for practices I would reject categorically under any other circumstances. If that is truly the choice, then I pick intolerance for religion, but that has its own problems.
6.15.2007 8:17am
Smiley (mail):
Smokey:

As an American Muslim, I'm tired of being told that "the Muslim world" is silent in the face of terrorism. This is no less evil than the "blood libel" we are always being told is hurled by anti-Semitic Middle Easterners. A simple google search refutes this:

For a compilation of leading American Muslims organizations and their condemnation of 9/11:

:condemn

By Muslims abroad:
abroad
:


Against the London bombings:


London condemnation
State Dept Forum

We were here in Washington, DC on September 11th. We were all attacked in our buildings because we were suppose to meet with the President that day — so every major Muslim political organization was represented in Washington DC. By noon or shortly thereafter every Muslim organization condemned the terrorists attacks unequivocally. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. We said this is an attack against our country. This is terrorism and this is against Islam. I think every Muslim here did what happen (sic) and I think I can explain part of the problem. During the first few minutes, it was reported on some of the networks that some Muslim organizations condemned the attacks, but then after that you didn't hear from Muslims. We didn't get the microphone. Other people had the microphone. So when you turned on the TV or you read the paper, chances are a non-Muslim was talking about these issues. There are few Muslim columnists. There are few Muslim spokespeople in the national media. I think that void creates confusion and doubt among certain people as to what exactly the Muslim sense of it is, whereas we know exactly what it is because we were here and we saw the press releases from every Muslim organization.


So, to Smokey et al: if you dont hear Muslim condemnation, its because you are not listening.
6.15.2007 10:40am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Islam may not be a unitary rock--which I believe is what monolith means--but one or two of the bits of gravel which make up the multilith have demonstrated both energy and savagery in killing those others who disagree.
We are not fighting Islam. We are fighting a part of it which acts like a monolith when useful--"Careful, you're pissing off a billion people."--and individuals otherwise--"Careful, you can't blame a billion people for the acts of a few."--when necessary.
6.15.2007 10:52am
Smokey:
Smiley:

So, to Smokey et al: if you dont hear Muslim condemnation, its because you are not listening.

Nah. I've been listening. I read plenty of news feeds every day, and I hear more from CAIR -- with its pathetic 1,700 members nationwide -- than from all other Islamist organizations combined. The occasional *mild, timid* statements of disapproval by a very small handful of Islamists are never repeated continually, but are generally one-off lip service statements intended only to provide cover for the speaker and his murder-enabling organization. If they actually believed the words that very few of them occasionally mouth, they would certainly get the word out every day. And then you wouldn't have to try and convince us that black is white, up is down, and evil is good.

How many Islamist leaders are out there regularly and publicly banging the table and loudly demanding that all Islamists must cease to advocate, financially support, and by their deafening silence, condone the evil actions of the suicide-bombing, head-sawing, fatwa-issuing Islamists? Can you name one who regularly and loudly shouts out that Islamic suicide bombers and their evil mullah supporters are criminals? What we hear instead are smarmy CAIR apologists, desperately trying to spin the issue to portray the average Islamist as a good guy. But the average Islamist is evil -- and will remain evil -- so long as he condones by his silence the savage, uncivlilized, barbaric violence endemic and central to Islam.

There should be literally hundreds of prominent mullahs and Islamic leaders in this country alone issuing their own fatwas against the militants and publicly condemning their murderous actions. Why are they silent? When your largely mythical 'good' Islamists should be calling regular press conferences to condemn the violence, all we hear are crickets chirping.

Truth be told, most Islamists secretly approve of the suicide attacks, head sawings and other atrocities; not many are fence sitters on the issue. The Islamic murderers should be regularly and loudly condemned in the strongest possible terms by their co-religionists. But the only loud and insistent condemnations come from non-Islamists. Where are the fire-breathing mullahs who should be issuing their fatwas against the gangs of murderous Islamic savages within their own ranks? Where are the fatwas against suicide bombers? Or even against using women and children as suicide bombers (but never the mullah's own children) to kill dozens of innocent people in a marketplace? Where are the fatwas against paying cash to volunteers willing to put on a nail-bomb vest? Silence is concurrence, and by their silence, Islamists condone what is happening within their ranks.

99.9% of Islamists make the rest look bad. As Cato would surely have said, Islam delenda est!
6.15.2007 12:56pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
How come anybody goes to the Saudi-funded mosques and madrassas? It's not like they don't have choices, here in the US.
Why aren't those places empty?
When Christians decide to leave a church individually, they find another one, or, if in a body, they rent someplace for services until they can build their own.
Nothing's keeping the membership in the Wahhabi mosques in the US but personal choice.
6.15.2007 1:03pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
It might help, smiley, if there were broadcasting channels in
Arabic with large audiences that did NOT regularly run shows calling Jews the descendants of pigs and apes.

It might help if ONE of the 50 or so Islamic majority countries offered half as much tolerance to infidels within their borders as the US offers to Muslims.

It also might help if these statement against terrorism did not so often conclude with the 'but . . .' clause.

I have, in fact, spent some time trying to find a clear, unequivocal statement by some Muslim organization (not just some heartstricken individual) in favor of interreligious amity. Such things are, so far as I can tell, very scarce.
6.15.2007 1:57pm
Yankev (mail):

Nor would we, I think, have prisons deny Jewish prisoners pork-free meals just because the prisoners aren't full-on Orthodox, on the grounds that "they're flexible about some Orthodox Jewish religious laws, why can't they be flexible about pork?"

At a seminar on religious rights of prisoners held in the early 1990s, two protestant chaplains employed by the Ohio Dept. of Corrections and a representative from the Ohio Attorney General took EXACTLY that position. The chaplains said they would not provide a kosher diet for such a prisoner absent a certification from an Orthodox rabbi that the prisoner had, in their words, "converted to Orthodox Judaism." I explained that Orthodox Judaism recognizes no such distinctions, and does not require "conversion" of a non-Orthodox Jew, and moreover would say that non-Orthodox as well as Orthodox Jews need to be given kosher food if they request it. They refused to believe me. Whan an Orthodox Rabbi in attendance confirmed what I said, they said they still would not change their policy -- they stood by their misconceptions, even after acknowledging that the certificate they required could never be issued, even to a formerly observant Jew who had become Orthodox in every respect, let alone one who merely wished to keep kosher.
6.15.2007 2:35pm
Mac (mail):
I think some comments, while understandable, are unfair to US Muslims. It is the MSM who have given CAIR a voice and a face out of all proportion to their membership. Muslims have been leaving the organization in droves (29,000 down to 1700). This is clearly not a ringing endorsement on the part of Muslims in this country. However, the MSM must have a victim and CAIR does that job very nicely. Muslims have clearly spoken how they feel about CAIR. The MSM has yet to get the message.
Receently, PBS, after a change in the head of that organization, refused to air a documentary showing how Muslims in this country do try to speak out and do not subscribe to the radical viewpoint. I apologize for not remembering the details, but it was clear that PBS was having nothing to do with anything showing American Muslims as loyal citizens and happy to be here. Again, the MSM MUST have a victim and this documentary didn't fit the bill.
I am left wondering how many Muslims want to speak out and do, but have no way of having their voices heard? We at least have to look at what options are afforded them by the MSM and if there are none, then we can not hold them I.e. Muslims totally to blame.
Another example, the MSM does not run to Thomas Sowell for comments on matters of race and Blacks in this country, but to Jessie Jackson and his ilk.
Enough said.
6.15.2007 2:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
A technical note. All adherents of Islam are Muslims. Their culture is Islamic. However, very few Muslims are Islamists. The violent Mulsims and their supporters who want to force Islam on the world and their supporters are Islamists.
6.15.2007 2:57pm
Elliot123 (mail):
That was a truly mangled sentence. Let me try again.

A technical note. All adherents of Islam are Muslims. Their culture is Islamic. However, very few Muslims are Islamists. An Islamist is one who advocates violence to force Islam on the rest of the world.
6.15.2007 3:18pm
David Drake:
Smokey--

As an American Catholic, I think that Smiley is right. Lots of mainstream Muslim ("Islamist" means something different) organizations around the world have condemned and continue to condemn the activities of the jihadis. But the MSM does not report this in nearly the type size that it reports on the bombings, beheading videos, vicious rants by self-proclaimed clerics, etc. For example, last year, at the outbreak of the Israeli war with Hezbollah, a leading Saudi Muslim cleric issued a fatwah that prohibited any support (including prayer!) for Hezbollah. How many of us saw that on the Six O'Clock News?

As I understand it, CAIR is a spin-off of a Hamas-backed organization. Don't look to it for opposition to the jihadis.

BTW--Ash Wednesday is not a day on which Catholics are obligated to attend Mass.
6.15.2007 3:40pm
Smiley (mail):
Smokey:

So keep changing the goal post. From "not one voice" to "not many, and not very aggressive."

Btw, if you hear from CAIR every day, as you claim, then you would know that they do condemn terrorism without any ifs ors or buts.

So yes, if you keep changing the goal post, then its no wonder that you arent satisfied. But then I have a sneaking suspicion that short of all 1.x billion Muslims just vanishing Rapture-like off the face of the planet tommorrow, nothing would satisfy you.

>(link)Harry Eagar (mail):
It might help, smiley, if there were broadcasting channels in
Arabic with large audiences that did NOT regularly run shows calling Jews the descendants of pigs and apes.

It might help if you got your information about broadcasters from any place other than MEMRI. I've never seen any such depiction, and we've had access to Middle Eastern stations for over two decades.


>It also might help if these statement against terrorism did not so often conclude with the 'but . . .' clause.

The "but" is in your own eyes, or, I suspect, off the townhall/LGF/Robert Spencer sites you get your news from.

> I have, in fact, spent some time trying to find a clear, unequivocal statement by some Muslim organization (not just some heartstricken individual) in favor of interreligious amity. Such things are, so far as I can tell, very scarce.

I've posted several links earlier, containing unequivocal condemnations from virtually every prominent organization. But at some point, I just have to throw my hands up and concede that apparently nothing is going to satisfy some folks.
6.15.2007 3:49pm
Smiley (mail):
>Elliot123 (mail):
>That was a truly mangled sentence. Let me try again.

>A technical note. All adherents of Islam are Muslims. >Their culture is Islamic. However, very few Muslims are >Islamists. An Islamist is one who advocates violence to >force Islam on the rest of the world.


Elliott, I appreciate what you're trying to say. But I suspect that few here accept that distinction. Witness our friend Smokey:

>99.9% of Islamists make the rest look bad. As Cato would >surely have said, Islam delenda est!
6.15.2007 3:52pm
whackjobbbb:
Yeah, CAIR is going the way of the passenger pigeon here, and I do take that as indication of the state of affairs here in the US, and it's a positive sign.

No need to pile on US Muslims, any more than we piled on my buddies who used to talk nice about the IRA, and even shipped cash to certain groups over in Ireland. It's a complex overlay here, and our melting pot is always in various stages of melt.

In the runup to WWI, to many, it was unclear not only whether we should GET into it, but on WHOSE SIDE WE'D GET IN ON. Lots of Germans and Irish here remember, even though obviously history would indicate we support our forebears. But again, recognizing that "Geography is history", if England wasn't physically positioned as it was, and wasn't blockading Germany, and cutting off all our trade (and the Brits WOULD have shot at our merchantmen if we'd tried to run that blockade, and in fact there were incidents on the water where they demonstrated their resolve on that score), would we have been so quick to abandon trade with Imperial Germany, and jump into bed with the limeys? I've often wondered.

Hate to come back to this, but when you're dealing with us here in the US, you have to be "nuanced" in your review of things external. But if somebody says they don't support running airliners into skyscrapers here, I take them at their word.
6.15.2007 3:57pm
David Drake:
On the main topic, I do NOT think that the rules for what is truly at the heart of the practice of a religion and therefore require accomodation are either subjective or difficult to ascertain.

For example, Muslim students are required to pray five times a day facing Mecca. That's a bedrock requirement of the religion and that practice must be accomodated.
But Catholics are not required to attend Mass every day, and so do not need to be accomodated (Days of Obligation--where there is a requirement--aside), even if lots of Catholics do attend Mass daily. There's a difference, as noted repeatedly above, between matters of personal piety and religious requirements.

How do you find out? Ask a priest, or a minister, or a cleric at the local mosque. Or send a question to any of the excellent Catholic, Protestant or Muslim websites. Or ask that the person making the claim produce a letter from someone in authority in his or her religion supporting the requirement with citations of authority.

No religion that I know of requires that its adherents walk around with a canary in the pocket, a pizza on the head, etc.

BTW, Whackjobbbb, your statement re rebellious Catholics in the U.S. doesn't offend me, as I think that's about the right percentage of those who ignore the basic rules of the Church but still call themselves "Catholic". And the number of us who actually follow all the rules of the Church every day probably equals or approaches zero.
6.15.2007 3:58pm
whackjobbbb:

It might help if you got your information about broadcasters from any place other than MEMRI. I've never seen any such depiction, and we've had access to Middle Eastern stations for over two decades.


Careful, Smiley. MEMRI is a well-respected institution. Are you saying that when they translate some of this filth, they're lying? And I doubt they'd say it's all filth, but what of the filth that there is?
6.15.2007 4:01pm
markm (mail):
"yet we don't express surprise when, say, a Reform Jewish man refuses to eat pork but doesn't wear a yarmulke." That's not quite the same. Eating pork is clearly and specifically prohibited in the Torah; I know Jews who eat pork, but they just aren't observant Jews, not members of a synagogue that's decided that eating pigs is OK but other Jewish practices must be rigidly met. OTOH, an observant Jew could easily dismiss the yarmulke as a tradition not rooted in the Torah, unless I missed the part that not only tells men to cover the head, but says to cover it with a particular type of cap. Nor does the Koran say that women must wear a particular garment, and in fact there are a wide variety of head-coverings worn by women in different Muslim countries - all supposedly prescribed by the same Koranic verses, which it is blasphemous to re-interpret.
6.15.2007 4:42pm
Mac (mail):
Smiley wrote:>(link)Harry Eagar (mail):
It might help, smiley, if there were broadcasting channels in
Arabic with large audiences that did NOT regularly run shows calling Jews the descendants of pigs and apes.

It might help if you got your information about broadcasters from any place other than MEMRI. I've never seen any such depiction, and we've had access to Middle Eastern stations for over two decades.

Smiley, I have seen these depictions of Jews on several news shows, the most recent being FOX who ran a special on this fairly recently. These shows were not limited to Palestine but included our "friends" in Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries. These are done by state run television. Another, quite recently, showed them using American icons such as Mickey Mouse to propagate this filth. Many of these shows are aimed at children. While I agree with you that some here are getting very close to crossing the line from facts to bigotry, denying that something is happening is not helpful to facing or solving the problem, if there is any solution.


The song from South Pacific keeps running through my head, "They have to be taught to hate ,,,". You do and they are. Gotta deal with it.

And, Smiley, while I admire your desire to stick up for the perceived underdog, at least on this thread, denying facts does not advance your argument.
6.15.2007 4:56pm
Elliot123 (mail):
David Drake: "On the main topic, I do NOT think that the rules for what is truly at the heart of the practice of a religion and therefore require accomodation are either subjective or difficult to ascertain."

I agree that established and recognized religions can offer guidance on the duties of its members. The difficulty arises, as EV implied, where cultural practices are linked to religious sentiment. For example, the practices of Saudis differ from Indonesians, yet both populations are Muslim. And we can observe that both link their practices to religion.

A similar situation exists with the hundreds of Christian sects. There really is no place to determine Christian obligations. We might find Catholic duties, or we might find Missouri Synod Lutheran duties. But there are hundreds (thousands?) of unaffiliated Christian churches, some with very small congregations.

I think referencing formal sources for a religion would necessitate a formal list of religions. State recognition of approved religions? What comprises a religion? How many people have to adhere? Can I have my own personal religion? Right there we would run afoul of the First Amendment.

Who will determine if the Church of the Blessed Yellow Canary qualifies as a religion, who will dteermine if my chirping pocket pal is an obligation, and where will we find a list of CBYC obligations?

The issue eventually devolves to each individual's personal sentiment and preferences.
6.15.2007 5:14pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
There's a difference, as noted repeatedly above, between matters of personal piety and religious requirements.

How do you find out? Ask a priest, or a minister, or a cleric at the local mosque. Or send a question to any of the excellent Catholic, Protestant or Muslim websites. Or ask that the person making the claim produce a letter from someone in authority in his or her religion supporting the requirement with citations of authority.
But different rabbis, ministers, and clerics will tell you that different things are religious requirements. And guess what? They're all correct. There's no one right answer. Nobody has the authority to determine what's "personal piety" and what's "religious requirement" in non-hierarchical religions.
6.15.2007 5:47pm
Smiley (mail):
Mac:

I'm not denying that there is occasional odious programming on Middle Eastern TVs. What I do question is its relative frequency on prevalence - like I said, I've never seen any, and I've watched for years.

Coming to the Fox special on this. What Fox News et al do is cherry pick and distort a few pieces - akin to the average Muslim being offered a few choice pieces of Ann Coulter, Cal Thomas, Michelle Malkin, LGF, and the Freeper Discussion boards, and being told this "poisonous rhetoric" is about par for American media depictions of Islam.

Rinse, lather, and repeat.
6.18.2007 10:20am
whackjobbbb:

What Fox News et al do is cherry pick and distort a few pieces - akin to the average Muslim being offered a few choice pieces of Ann Coulter, Cal Thomas, Michelle Malkin, LGF, and the Freeper Discussion boards, and being told this "poisonous rhetoric" is about par for American media depictions of Islam.


Do any of yoru mentioned sources call for genocide and break out with the "pigs and monkeys" nonsense? And are they members of the political class in this country, as are many quoted by MEMRI?
6.19.2007 12:11pm