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IW News Brief: French Food Fight, CAIRless Lawmaker

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 13 May 2015, 11:04 AM

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Some French schools institute pork-or-nothing policies

As British schools increasingly ban pork, the opposite approach is gaining traction in France. Mayor Gilles Platret of Chalon-sur-Saône, a town in Burgundy, recently told parents that students who avoid pork for religious reasons will no longer be offered an alternative meat dish starting in September. This signals a "return to the principles of secularism," said Platret, a member of Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement. Sarkozy, the former French president, defended the much-criticized stance, asserting that "if you want your children to observe dietary habits based on religion, then you should choose private religious education." Officials in Arveyres and Sargé-lès-Le Mans previously announced similar changes in their cafeterias, and Marine Le Pen pledged that substitute meals would be pulled from schools in towns won by her nationalist party in last year's local elections.

Putting aside the issue of whether such rules are productive or merely vindictive, the hard feelings underscore how dependence on government services exacerbates cultural strife. The more people expect from government, the more they expect it to conform to their own values. Arguments about too much or too little accommodation are the inevitable outcome. If you want something done right, do it yourself — advice that applies equally well to those who consume pork and those who reject it. What is the French term for "brown-bag lunch"?

Left: If pork is on the menu, French mayors like Gilles Platret want students to eat it. Right: Politician Larry Haler, an example of how not to deal with CAIR.

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IW News Brief: NYC Muslim Holidays, Corporate Speech Police

by David J. Rusin  •  Mon, 13 Apr 2015, 11:43 AM

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New York City adds Muslim holidays to school calendar

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that New York City public schools will close for two Muslim holidays. The next academic year will start a day earlier to make room for Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, on September 24; Eid al-Fitr, marking Ramadan's end, now falls during the summer but will eventually drift into spring. Several school systems observe Islamic feasts, and activists had long targeted New York due to its size, symbolism, and demographics (about 10 percent of students are Muslim). Framing the move as "a matter of fairness," de Blasio urged critics to "look at the Constitution of the United States."

A 2014 essay by Muslim lawyer Farhan Memon does just that. Though public schools may close on holy days, a secular purpose like high absenteeism is needed. "New York's large Jewish population and its historic involvement in the teaching professions" support closures on Jewish holidays, Memon writes, but such a reason "does not exist" for Muslims because the number of Muslim teachers is "much lower" and students could simply be granted excused absences. "The primary effect of having Eid as a school holiday is to advance the Muslim religion, which clearly contradicts the intent of the Establishment Clause." Scheduling is also problematic. For example, Eid al-Fitr begins with a new moon, but Muslims differ on whether it must be sighted by eye. In setting a date beforehand, public schools are "endorsing one religious practice over another." No, the constitutionality is not so obvious after all. However, that has not slowed the push to create "a pecking order of religions where some receive benefits because of growing political clout."

Left: Islamist Linda Sarsour, in the pink hijab, applauds as Bill de Blasio outlines his policy. Right: "Say it with Nutella," a promotion declares. Just don't say the wrong thing.

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IW News Brief: Cartoonophobia, Outspoken Mayor, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Fri, 13 Feb 2015, 8:29 AM

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Charlie Hebdo fights on, but free speech is suffering

The defiant hashtags and rallies that followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre have become increasingly distant memories amid a cavalcade of capitulations to the very Islamic blasphemy laws that inspired gunmen to commit murder over drawings of their prophet. Submission started early as many media outlets blurred, cropped, or declined to show the relevant cartoons. High-minded talk of sensitivity crumpled beneath obvious double standards. CNN steered clear of the Muhammad images even as the photo of a crucifix in urine adorned its website. New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet cited the need to consider "the Muslim family in Brooklyn who read us and is offended," but his paper had republished anti-Jewish cartoons from Iran. Media self-censorship began once more after Charlie Hebdo rolled out a "survivors' edition" with a tearful caricature of Muhammad. In one cringe-inducing episode, Sky News cut off Charlie Hebdo contributor Caroline Fourest when she attempted to display the cover on live television.

Anxiety continues to take its toll. A German carnival canceled plans for a "float with a cartoonist forcing a pencil into the barrel of a terrorist's gun" because locals feared for their safety. Belgium's Hergé Museum nixed a tribute to the dead artists as it "doesn't want to fuel the fire." Security concerns likewise prompted London's Victoria and Albert Museum to delete from its website evidence of a poster that reverently depicts Muhammad, and an art installation featuring high-heeled shoes on Islamic prayer rugs was pulled from a show in France after a Muslim group warned of "uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents." Yes, mass murder could harm the Islamist enterprise in the long run, but currently it seems to be having the desired effect.

Left: "I prefer to die standing than living on my knees," explained Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier. He was killed on January 7. Right: The no-nonsense mayor of Rotterdam has earned praise for his colorful remarks about Islamists.

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New FBI Hate Crime Stats: Another Blow to Islamist Fictions

by David J. Rusin  •  Mon, 15 Dec 2014, 3:16 PM

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The FBI's newly released hate crime statistics for 2013 offer a fresh example of how reality refuses to conform to the dubious narrative of widespread Muslim victimization at the hands of American bigots. As in previous years, most hate crimes were not religiously motivated, most religiously motivated hate crimes were anti-Jewish, and Muslims suffered fewer total incidents than many groups and fewer per capita than gays or Jews. Anti-Islamic crimes did not involve greater violence than others and have not become more frequent. A glance at the details:

  • Of the 5,928 incidents of hate crime tabulated in 2013, 135 (2.3 percent) were anti-Islamic, an increase of five over the prior year but still slightly below the annual average of 139 from 2002 to 2011.

  • The small rise in recorded anti-Islamic incidents could be attributable to improved data collection rather than a true uptick. Reports submitted by law enforcement agencies covered a population of 295 million Americans in 2013, 18.6 percent higher than in 2012.

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IW News Brief: CAIR's Terror Disaster, Harrods Protest, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Sat, 6 Dec 2014, 12:13 PM

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CAIR, MAS designated as terrorist organizations by UAE

The government of the United Arab Emirates has listed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Muslim American Society (MAS) as banned terrorist groups based on their known connections to extremism and the Muslim Brotherhood, which UAE authorities have outlawed as well. CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case that involved a scheme to finance Hamas. Specifically, the feds classified CAIR among the "individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood's Palestine Committee and/or its organizations." The U.S. government affirmed in a separate legal matter: "From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists," adding that "MAS was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America."

Beyond pronouncing the news "shocking and bizarre," CAIR's response was typified by a debate between CAIR-Florida's Nezar Hamze and the Clarion Project's Ryan Mauro in which Hamze brazenly denied the existence of documents linking CAIR to the Brotherhood — documents that Mauro was quoting and holding up to the camera. Yet what else was Hamze to do? When even a Muslim government acknowledges CAIR's ugly track record, there is little choice but to deceive, distort, and pray that enough people are willing to have their intelligence insulted one more time. Let us hope that Daniel Pipes is correct when he predicts that this terror label, regardless of whether it is overturned via U.S. pressure or appeal, will be "a stigma CAIR can never escape."

Left: Graphics such as this should haunt CAIR for many years to come. Right: Activists claim that shopping at Harrods bankrolls the global jihad.

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IW News Brief: Rotherham Rape Horror, Shari'a Police, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Fri, 31 Oct 2014, 2:30 AM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Rotherham: Girls sexually exploited as PC officials looked away

A bombshell report reveals that Pakistani-heritage gangs subjected 1,400 children to appalling sexual abuse in Rotherham, England, while the government and police turned a blind eye amid worries that defining and confronting the problem would fuel charges of bigotry. "Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so." During 16 years of dithering, girls as young as 11 "were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated." (Read victims' harrowing tales.) Many predators remain unpunished. "Political correctness and cultural sensitivity are more important than child rape," lamented Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk.

This pattern of Muslim men grooming mostly white underage girls for sex is a familiar one in the UK, but Rotherham's denial and cover-ups hit new lows: Cops were known to dismiss the rapes as "consensual" and detain parents trying to rescue their kids. Minutes from decade-old meetings on these matters have disappeared. Three prior reports on sex gangs were suppressed. A researcher on one of them claims that council staffers stole her data, warned her "never [to] refer to Asian men," and sent her for diversity training. Although some officials have resigned and London has launched a probe of "institutionalized political correctness," the damage is done. Let Rotherham forever remind us of how the PC worldview can act as the handmaiden to depravity.

Left: "I think there was a culture of not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat," said former Labour MP for Rotherham Denis MacShane, admitting that he had largely ignored the town's pathologies. "As a true Guardian reader and liberal leftie, I suppose I didn't want to raise that too hard." Right: An Islamist vice squad ready for action in Germany.

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IW News Brief: Burqa Ban Victory, Islamic Pants, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Thu, 28 Aug 2014, 1:44 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

French burqa ban gets seal of approval from European court

In a decision that will refocus the debate over burqas and niqabs, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has backed the French statute that proscribes concealing one's face in public. Judges rejected a woman's claims that she has suffered discrimination and that the limits on personal freedoms are incompatible with European law. Interestingly, the ECHR downplayed valid concerns about public safety and emphasized social cohesion instead. An official statement explains that the court was "able to understand the view" that these coverings "call into question the possibility of open interpersonal relationships, which, by virtue of an established consensus, formed an indispensable element of community life within the society in question." Because the law is not targeted solely at religious dress and does not generally restrict freedom of movement, it "could therefore be regarded as proportionate to the aim pursued, namely the preservation of the conditions of 'living together.'" Objections rang out, but there is no place to appeal.

Beyond affirming the status quo in France and Belgium, which has a similar law and was a party to the defense, the ECHR has reinvigorated opponents of such garb elsewhere. The government of Spain's Catalonia region quickly pledged to advance a bill as the Catalan city of Reus passed a measure of its own. Rumblings about legislation have also been heard in Austria, Britain, Denmark, and Norway. Is this the beginning of the end for Europe's burqas and niqabs?

Left: The culture clash as seen in a photo from a London subway. Right: John Walker Lindh's prison duds have put him in a litigious mood.

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IW News Brief: Niqabs in Court, Jihad in Brussels, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 25 Jun 2014, 12:01 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Women testify in Michigan court with faces veiled

Imam Mohammad Masroor was found guilty of raping three children in a case that "may be the first in Michigan and the U.S. where a judge allowed women wearing a niqab to testify," the Detroit Free Press reveals. Combined with other garments, niqabs leave only the eyes exposed. Masroor's lawyer insists that Judge Michael Hathaway's unusual accommodation meant that his client was "denied the right to fully cross-examine and confront" two veiled witnesses. The prosecutor had warned that rejecting them would be "a message to criminals everywhere that they can target women with niqabs or burqas because they would have a hard time testifying." Michigan's top court has set rules giving judges discretion in the matter.

Covered witnesses are rarely accepted, but courts continue to grapple with the subject. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada outlined a test for determining if "the salutary effects of requiring her to remove the niqab outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so." Applying the test in 2013, the Ontario judge who had sparked the review by refusing a woman's request to stay veiled nixed it again when the case came back to him. An English judge also did not permit a Muslim to wear a niqab on the stand last year, citing the need "to see the defendant for the purposes of evaluating her evidence." One hopes that the Masroor trial will not mark the beginning of a new trend that puts cultural considerations above the integrity of the judicial process.

Left: Mohammad Masroor was convicted of raping girls of ages 10, 12, and 13. Right: On May 24, a gunman murdered four at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.

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IW News Brief: NYPD Cop-Out, Brotherhood Probe, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 30 Apr 2014, 2:19 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

NYPD drops intelligence unit detested by Islamists

A year to the day after the Boston bombings, the New York Police Department announced the end of a program designed to protect the city from violent jihad. The Demographics Unit, which angered Islamists by gathering intelligence on Muslim neighborhoods and the radicalism therein, has been disbanded. Reflecting Commissioner Bill Bratton's softer approach, the NYPD will strive to amass comparable data through outreach. Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the "critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys" — whatever that means.

Promises that more focused intelligence work will continue are less than reassuring. The New York Post recalls that Bratton "once backed a similar 'mapping' program as Los Angeles' top cop, only to later scrap the idea under political pressure." Given this record of caving, one fears that ongoing objections to what remains could prompt more PC-sodden adjustments. Some also ask if the city will now cease to defend its legal right to conduct proactive surveillance, which is challenged in lawsuits. Finally, the mere perception that New York is letting its guard down could entice jihadists to try their luck, a scenario noted by former police official Paul Browne. If the worst comes to pass, de Blasio and Bratton will have difficult questions to answer.

Left: Islamist Linda Sarsour, a vocal opponent of NYPD surveillance, was among the community "advocates" who were granted a preview of the policy shift a week before the public rollout. Right: David Cameron wants to know what the Brotherhood has been up to in the UK.

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IW News Brief: NYPD Vindicated, Islamists United, and More

by David J. Rusin  •  Mon, 31 Mar 2014, 12:41 PM

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Islamist Watch (IW) maintains an extensive archive of news items on nonviolent Islamism in the Western world. The complete collection can be found here; lists organized by topic are accessible on the right side of the IW homepage.

The following are some of the recent developments covered in the IW database:

Federal judge backs NYPD's counterterrorism tactics

Outraging Islamists, U.S. District Judge William Martini dismissed a lawsuit accusing the New York Police Department of violating Muslims' civil rights by covertly investigating mosques, businesses, and student groups in New Jersey to identify possible terrorists. The plaintiffs, he explains, "have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion. The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies" after 9/11. "The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself." To the extent that Muslims experienced "adverse effects," the secret program's disclosure by the Associated Press is to blame. "Nowhere … do plaintiffs allege that they suffered harm prior" to that, he notes. An appeal was filed; a separate suit is pending in a Brooklyn court.

The ruling is the latest vindication of the NYPD and a win for common sense. Why does counterterrorism work gravitate to the Muslim community? Because that is where terrorists tend to be found. Other police departments would be wise to ignore the Islamists' complaints, some of which compared the NYPD's efforts to Japanese-American internment, and instead emulate the NYPD. With the anniversary of the Boston attacks near, they should heed an Investor's Business Daily editorial: "If Boston authorities had been as proactive as their counterparts in New York, they might have caught the radicalization of the Tsarnaev brothers at their Cambridge mosque."

Left: Judge William Martini, a reasonable man in unreasonable times. Right: CAIR's Nihad Awad spoke at the launch of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations on March 12.

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