|Home | Articles | News | Blog | About | Mailing List | Resources | Prominent Islamists | Middle East Forum | Keep Us Informed | Donate|
IW News Brief: PC Counterterrorism, Brothers in Exile, and More
by David J. Rusin • Jan 31, 2014 at 9:55 am
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:
Washington promises more politically correct counterterrorism
"The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation in their investigations," the New York Times reports, citing an anonymous official. The move responds to "criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations." NBC confirms that there will be no exception for national security matters. Details of the updated policy were leaked from a meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City. De Blasio has pledged to rein in the NYPD's controversial intelligence programs that target Muslims.
But counterterrorism has not focused on the Muslim community due to bias; it has done so because that is where the terrorists are. A review of Justice Department data finds that "more than 80 percent of all convictions tied to international terrorist groups and homegrown terrorism since 9/11 involve defendants driven by a radical Islamist agenda." Muslims also dominate the FBI's list of wanted terrorists. Further, while demographic factors have few intrinsic links to most types of crime, Islamist terrorism has religion at its heart. Ignoring reality by formalizing a see-no-Islam approach to terrorism can only end in more Fort Hoods, more Bostons, and worse.
Egyptian Brotherhood bigwigs relocate to London
"A cramped flat above a disused kebab shop in North London has become the focal point of the Muslim Brotherhood's effort to regroup" after the removal of Mohamed Morsi as president, the London Telegraph reveals. High-ranking Brotherhood figures have escaped Egypt's crackdown and made their way to the office run by relatives of Morsi's arrested aides. It is "the key hub" for strategizing with affiliates and disseminating pro-Morsi narratives. Those holed up in London include former Egyptian parliamentarians, the ex-head of Morsi's defense committee, and reputed spiritual leader Gomaa Amin.
It is amusing to think of top Brotherhood officials — their dream of ruling Egypt snatched from their grasp — now crowded into an apartment above a kebab joint in Cricklewood. Schadenfreude, however, must not obscure more pressing concerns. The Brotherhood is dangerous, as seen in its connections to terrorism and the machinations of its Western offshoots, and London is a tinderbox that flared up when a pro-Brotherhood mob shut down a talk last fall. Egypt's ousted Brothers will cause problems in Britain and beyond. Foreign Islamists deserve no refuge.
French burqa ban clears one legal hurdle, more to come
Foes of the French law prohibiting face-concealing attire in public suffered a defeat on January 8 when a court in Versailles convicted Cassandra Bélin of wearing a face veil and insulting and threatening police during an identity check last July in Trappes, a Paris suburb. Bélin's attorney had argued that the ban is unconstitutional and should be reconsidered, but the court rejected this challenge on the grounds that it had already been approved by the Constitutional Council. Bélin received a suspended one-month prison term and a €150 fine.
Given European officialdom's hostility to burqa bans, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) presents a far greater obstacle to restrictions on such apparel. Its decision in S.A.S. v. France, which centers on claims that the French law violates the European Convention on Human Rights, is pending. This court operates under the Council of Europe (CoE), whose Parliamentary Assembly elects its judges and unanimously passed a resolution criticizing statutes like France's in 2010. A year later, the CoE's human rights commissioner blasted anti-burqa laws as "a sad capitulation to the prejudices of xenophobes." Will ECHR judges follow suit?
Religious concessions make sports uniforms less uniform
Fawad Ahmed was named Australia's Muslim sportsman of the year in December, and if there were a prize for the most accommodated athlete, he might have snagged that as well. Cricket Australia, the country's governing body for the sport, recently agreed to let Ahmed wear a special jersey without the logo of Victoria Bitter beer, a sponsor of the national team that includes Ahmed, because as a Muslim he shuns alcohol. Former cricketers slammed the exemption, observing that sponsorships help to cover salaries. One article recalls that Ahmed "has previously gone through the same process with his Victorian state team where he was given permission to play without the beer company's logo on his shirt."
Sports uniforms are a common battleground. A blog post by Daniel Pipes on the elimination of Christian symbols to appease Islamists discusses the external pressures faced by several teams to drop crosses from their clothing or emblems. Also note that Ahmed is not the first Muslim player to request changes to his personal uniform. The Telegraph points out that Muslim cricketers in South Africa and England likewise managed to avoid beer-branded garb. In 2013, footballer Papiss Cissé of the UK's Newcastle United raised a fuss about a jersey advertising a payday loan company because Islam frowns on interest, but he eventually gave in. Years earlier, Frédéric Kanouté wore an unbranded uniform after he objected to Spanish soccer club Sevilla's deal with a gambling website; a compromise that put him back in the standard shirt was reached. There is no "I" in "team," as the saying goes, but more athletes are noticing the "I" in "Islam" and asking to be accommodated accordingly.
* * *
For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.