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by Johanna Markind • Thu, 25 Jun 2015, 9:25 AM
After Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced yesterday, Massachusetts US Attorney Carmen Ortiz gave a press conference at which she hastened to assure us that his crime was "A crime of terrorism, a crime not religiously-motivated... And he couched his comments in line with Allah and Allah's views, which gives it a religious tone and there was nothing – as you heard Judge O'Toole say in the courtroom – there was nothing about this crime that was Islam-associated." Apparently the press wasn't buying it, because in response to an inaudible reporter's question, Ortiz doubled down: "That is a skewed view of the religion of Islam. That is not what Islam is all about... It's a radical ideology which really isn't at the heart of what is truly a peaceful and loving religion."
This is not a new theme for Ortiz, who offered similar views on May 15 following the jury's decision to impose the death penalty. "The defendant claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims. This was not a religious crime," she insisted, "and it certainly does not reflect true Muslim beliefs."
We have received similar assurances from others in the current administration, including President Obama, and from President Bush before him. It appears to reflect a desire not to smear all Muslims with the deeds of a few, and that impulse is commendable.
by Johanna Markind • Wed, 17 Jun 2015, 5:06 PM
In an article published by PJ Media and republished today by Islamist Watch, Johanna Markind explores how CAIR's efforts to "Ferguson"-ize the Usaama Rahim shooting only begged the question of where its local representatives were. Although CAIR feigned otherwise, there is no local CAIR chapter in Massachusetts, and possibly never was. In fact, CAIR seems to have lost four or five other chapters since 2007. It has also lost membership support since 9/11. The national organization is almost entirely dependent on large donations from unknown sources.
by Marc J. Fink • Wed, 17 Jun 2015, 2:01 PM
News from Islamist Watch
PHILADELPHIA – June 17, 2015 – Islamist Watch (IW), which protects the West from lawful Islamism, has launched Facebook and Twitter pages, bringing its message to new audiences.
IW's social media provides readers with news, rapid analyses, and updates on its activities. In addition, by liking and following, readers join a community of citizens opposed to Islamic supremacist efforts to exploit Western freedoms to undermine from within.
For immediate release
For more information, contact:
by Johanna Markind • Tue, 16 Jun 2015, 11:39 AM
Today's New York Times print edition carries an article entitled, "Muslims Work to Shed Stigma Tied to Terror." The article can't quite decide what story it's trying to tell: Muslims as victims, external criticism of the community (which it tries to minimize), or Muslim self-criticism. The lack of focus and efforts to gloss over signs of extremism within the Boston Muslim community, even among those calling themselves moderate, result in an article more propaganda than journalism.
It begins with the executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) complaining that after terrorist incidents, the mosque is victimized by phone calls asking what connection it has to the perpetrator. This is a classic tactic of trying to change the subject from Muslims as perpetrators to Muslims as victims in the immediate aftermath of Islamist violence that has appeared very frequently in the media.
It mentions that Boston is one of three locations selected by the Obama Administration for a pilot program in countering Islamist radicalization and recruitment, given the anodyne name "Countering Violent Extremism." Why those three, and in particular, why is Boston one of them? The article, about the Boston Muslim community, does not ask the question directly.
by Johanna Markind • Wed, 10 Jun 2015, 5:48 PM
In three separate items posted online today, the BBC reported about the first prison sentence handed down in the UK under new legislation against forced marriage. In all, the court imposed a 16-year sentence for rape, bigamy, and voyeurism, as well as forced marriage.
Four times in the three articles, BBC refers to culture (cultural traditions, beliefs, and practices) as the problem. For example: "Many say the problem lies in deep-rooted cultural traditions and that young people are reluctant to come forward to the authorities."
What culture is that? The articles do not say, but coyly supply suggestive details. One says: "The code of family honour and shame can run very deep in families with strong roots on the Indian Subcontinent." Another article elaborates: "The FMU [Forced Marriages Unit] was involved in cases covering 88 countries, with most from the Asian subcontinent [emphasis in original] - 38% from Pakistan, 8% from India and 7% from Bangladesh." The sentenced man entered into his forced, second marriage at a mosque. His victim was a "devout Muslim." The story quotes a woman from the Muslim Women's Network UK.
by Johanna Markind • Mon, 8 Jun 2015, 3:31 PM
The New York Times continues its efforts to inculcate Americans with the value of wearing a hijab or scarf and expand their sympathy for Islamic modesty requirements. Today's print edition includes a feature story about a lawyer who started covering when she was in college, against her parents' wishes. The story sympathetically portrays the young lawyer's concerns about potential discrimination in hiring decisions and work assignments, and how she navigated them. It shares her piety, the "comfort and courage" she finds in her faith, and "elat[ion]" about the Supreme Court's recent decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch.
by Johanna Markind • Mon, 1 Jun 2015, 3:12 PM
Today's US Supreme Court decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch illustrates that the American conception of the role of religion differs markedly from that of France and Western Europe. The French Revolution viewed religion as the enemy and strove to create a secular society that dis-established religion by actively pushing it out of the public sphere. The burqa-ban and its progeny (e.g., the current debate over banning the Muslim headscarf at nurseries) are the latest manifestation of this approach, which is gathering steam in Europe – witness the Dutch debate over a partial veil ban.
by Johanna Markind • Wed, 27 May 2015, 11:18 PM
The New York Times appears to be on a campaign to show wearing the hijab/veiling in a positive light, at a time when France is extending its ban on religious clothing and the Netherlands has proposed its own burqa-ban. Yesterday, it posted an article complaining about France's "'preoccupation' with Muslim women's attire." It offered anecdotes and claims from mostly unnamed sources arguing that France's ban on religious symbols in public places is counter-productive of integration and disabling and alienating to Muslim women.
Today, it posted a collection of feedback from Muslim women expressing their views about covering. These two dozen, culled from over a thousand responses, mostly favored covering or veiling, while emphasizing that it was a matter of personal choice. The Times reports, "For almost all of these women, it was a matter of personal choice." Almost. The responses are eloquent in expressing the positive aspects, but counter-arguments are largely missing.
by David J. Rusin • Wed, 13 May 2015, 11:04 AM
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"?
by David J. Rusin • Mon, 13 Apr 2015, 11:43 AM
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."