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IW News Brief: NYC Elections, Swiss Burqa Ban, and More
by David J. Rusin • Oct 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm
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:
Islamists salivate over Bill de Blasio, New York's mayor-in-waiting
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successor will bring change to New York City, and some of it is likely to warm an Islamist's heart. Consider the NYPD's post-9/11 intelligence-gathering operations inside the Muslim community. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have defended these counterterrorism tactics against years of criticism; long-shot Republican candidate Joe Lhota also supports them. However, Democratic frontrunner Bill de Blasio has pledged to replace Kelly and clearly seeks to curb the NYPD, telling Muslims that "the efforts of surveillance have to be based on specifically specific information." Recapping the Islamist terror plots thwarted by the NYPD, writer Daniel Greenfield explains that "the standard of 'specifically specific information' would have led to the deaths of countless New Yorkers." He adds: "They relied on informants drawing out potential terrorists, instead of waiting blindly for them to strike. If Bill de Blasio has his way, that will no longer be something that the NYPD will be able to do." The sole silver lining is that any resulting tragedy will prompt the swift repudiation of such kinder, gentler counterterrorism — at least until forgetfulness triumphs once more.
Another probable change involves city schools. Both de Blasio and Lhota favor closing them on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, a move that Bloomberg opposes. One can reasonably argue that Muslim holidays should be treated no differently than Jewish holidays if the two populations are of comparable size. Yet there are drawbacks to altering the calendar. First, the mere prospect of adding Muslim holidays has already sparked a flood of requests that other groups be similarly recognized. Second, this concession will only embolden Islamists to demand more — and that is never a happy outcome.
Voters reject CAIR candidate for New York City Council
One piece of positive news from Gotham: Zead Ramadan, a longtime senior official with the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), came up far short in his bid to represent Manhattan's District 7 on the New York City Council. Despite some significant endorsements, including one from former mayor David Dinkins, Ramadan garnered a paltry 657 votes, 3.6 percent of the 18,010 cast in that district's Democratic primary election.
A 2013 IW article outlines Ramadan's Islamist record. In addition to having served as board president of CAIR-New York, one of the notorious pressure group's more radical chapters, he has smeared the U.S. on Iranian state-controlled TV, refused to denounce the Hamas terrorist organization, and blasted NYPD counterterrorism activities. His defeat is a victory for New York.
Swiss canton votes to ban the face veil
By a nearly two-to-one margin, voters in the Swiss canton of Ticino approved a constitutional ban on the wearing of face-concealing attire in public. Though the text does not explicitly mention Islamic dress, its driving force, campaigner Giorgio Ghiringhelli, described his goal as "put[ting] a stop to the inevitable spread of niqabs and burqas." The September 22 referendum marked the first time that any of the 26 cantons has backed a prohibition. Previous legislative attempts failed in cantonal parliaments as well as the federal parliament in Bern, which now must decide whether to accept the change to Ticino's constitution. Little may be done until the European Court of Human Rights rules on challenges to French restrictions on face coverings.
With its unique instruments of direct democracy, Switzerland is a particularly promising arena for foes of the burqa and niqab. A 2009 nationwide referendum outlawing the construction of new minarets showed that the Swiss are willing to act against overt signs of Islamization when offered the chance. Expect to see more referenda targeting the veil there. Also note that Switzerland is not the only European country witnessing efforts to ban the burqa on sub-national levels. Multiple Spanish towns have enacted laws, but the Supreme Court recently gave them the thumbs down. Currently there is a renewed push to bar the face veil in Spain's Catalonia region.
Halal's long march through Danish institutions
Muslims comprise 4.1 percent (2010 estimate) of Denmark's population, but accommodating their dietary requirements increasingly means making the other 95.9 percent eat like Muslims. Based on a survey by Ekstra Bladet, dozens of Danish daycare centers and nurseries no longer serve pork, and some use only halal meat slaughtered according to Islamic ritual. Moreover, it has been revealed that all beef fed to patients at Hvidovre Hospital near Copenhagen is halal. In further halal news from the summer, a social appeals panel ruled that giving pork to Muslim foster kids violates their rights, and traces of pork in supposedly halal kebabs led to an assault.
"We need to remember in our zeal to welcome new citizens not to lose sight of our own culture," said Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, explaining her opposition to dropping traditional pork dishes from menus due to hypersensitivity. She also urged the voluntary labeling of halal meat. It was reported years ago that "a vast majority of all Danish slaughter chickens — 99 percent — are butchered using the halal method." Is it any wonder why a third of non-Muslim Danes now believe that Denmark has gone overboard in its demonstrations of "tolerance"?
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.