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IW News Brief: CAIR's Top Jew, Vaccine Squabble, and More
by David J. Rusin • Dec 31, 2013 at 2:19 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:
CAIR's Philadelphia office hires Jewish executive director
The Philadelphia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) threw a curveball in October by appointing Jacob Bender, a Jewish leftist, as its executive director, making him the highest-ranking non-Muslim in the nationwide Islamist group. Bender promptly released a letter that quotes from the Koran and speaks of "defending CAIR against the unfounded and hate mongering attacks of the Islamophobic network." He obviously has the jargon down pat. Some Jewish organizations are skeptical about Bender — and given his less-than-friendly stance toward Israel, they should be. The Philadelphia Daily News, which recently talked with him, fuels the fire by relaying that "he doesn't help himself, either, with his critics by refusing to say whether he supports Israel's right to exist." Bender remarked elsewhere that "I find no contradiction between my long-stated opinions on the Middle East and those of CAIR," adding that "I've never had any question or negative feeling about CAIR" — a disturbing thought considering its status as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal trial that focused on the illegal funding of Hamas.
"CAIR's choosing of a Jewish filmmaker to lead its Philadelphia chapter is just a headline-grabbing step in its overall interfaith offensive," writes the Clarion Project's Ryan Mauro, who notes how CAIR uses non-Muslim allies "as a battering ram." Bender's Jewish background provides specific advantages, including the opportunity to revisit the narrative — previously retailed by a CAIR spokesman on Iranian TV — that compares the plight of American Muslims to past Jewish suffering. He is already playing this card: "As part of a community that has historically faced persecution in Europe and the United States as well, I hope that I would bring a certain amount of sensitivity." A non-Muslim chapter head also bolsters CAIR's push to move beyond purely Muslim issues, a rebranding seen in its joining an anti-NSA lawsuit and calling for the Washington Redskins' name to be changed. As useful idiots go, Bender may be more useful to CAIR than most.
Controversy erupts over UK flu vaccinations
A campaign to protect British children from the flu ran into a roadblock when Muslims objected to Fluenz, a vaccine in the form of a nasal spray that employs pork-derived gelatin. The dispute surfaced months ago in Leicestershire, where officials scrambled to assure Muslims that Fluenz "works better on children" and is permissible under Islam as gelatin is "a transformed product." Complaints soon delayed the program in Glasgow, with Muslim leaders urging the faithful to forgo the insufficiently halal Fluenz because it is a precautionary measure, not a necessity. The project was restarted there with an option to choose less effective injections. The row continued spreading into December. Though Jews also avoid pork, Jewish authorities backed Fluenz.
From halal vitamins to halal meningitis vaccines, many items have emerged to help Muslims address their medical needs while satisfying dietary requirements. It is the right of Muslims to seek them out. However, when it comes to defending Muslim children from a dangerous illness that can be easily transmitted to others — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — the religious sensibilities of one group must not automatically trump the health and safety of all.
Legal challenges could sink French burqa ban
Will France's law prohibiting face-concealing garments in public survive 2014? Two cases may shape the statute's future. The attorney for niqab-wearing Cassandra Bélin, whose identity check by police touched off riots in July, got a court to postpone her trial for violating the ban and insulting officers — "Allah will exterminate you," she allegedly declared — so it can contemplate whether the charges are unconstitutional. At a December 11 hearing, her attorney argued that the Constitutional Council should take the unusual step of reconsidering an approved law because, he said, it is biased against Muslims. The court will rule on this request shortly.
A more important case may be S.A.S. v. France, which was heard by the European Court of Human Rights on November 27. French Muslim S.A.S. asserts that the law discriminates against her and limits her freedom of religion, expression, privacy, and assembly. Government attorney Edwige Belliard countered that the ban had been properly enacted and serves vital state interests. "Wearing the full veil not only makes it difficult to identify a person," she maintained. "It … effectively erases the woman who wears it." The decision, which is expected sometime in 2014, could ultimately affect a similar Belgian law in force since 2011 and derail efforts to restrict face coverings in Spain, Switzerland, and beyond.
Fake news report hits too close to home for Dearborn
A satirical news site posted a story in October claiming that the city council of Dearborn, Michigan, had voted to "officially implement all aspects" of Islamic law, which "could see citizens stoned for adultery or having a limb amputated for theft. Lesser offenses, such as drinking alcohol or abortion, could result in flogging and/or caning." Mayor Jack O'Reilly was not amused. Insisting that Dearborn will never be under Shari'a, he slammed the "misguided attempt at humor [that] furthers the goals of some people who have tried to suggest that the city of Dearborn is anti-American because our population includes residents who are Muslim."
Every good joke begins with a grain of truth. No, Dearborn has not fully adopted Islamic law. But as demonstrated by the city's stifling of free speech to placate Muslims and the proliferation of halal food in its public schools, Dearborn officials clearly rank among the chief enablers of Shari'a creep in the U.S. And that, unlike mock news on a parody website, is no laughing matter.
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.