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IW News Brief: Islamist Condos, Vaccine Lawsuit, and More
by David J. Rusin • Feb 27, 2014 at 1:24 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:
Massive Muslim enclave planned for Toronto area
Residents of Thornhill Woods, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, are up in arms about a proposed "high-density Muslim community" there. On land that includes its Jaffari Centre mosque, the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) wants to add a pair of 17-story condo towers and 61 townhouses, prompting a parade of objections at a public hearing on February 4. Though many concerns focus on overcrowding in the low-density neighborhood, some fear a Muslim-only enclave. Developer Shafiq Punjani insisted that "it will be open to everybody," but ISIJ president Shabbir Jeraj has said the opposite (see video at the link). Asked if the housing will be exclusively for Muslims, he replied, "Of course! Because we are building it. We are paying for it."
Also alarming is that the ISIJ-affiliated East End Madrassah was using Iranian teaching materials that call Jews "crafty" and "treacherous," while urging boys to stay fit "so that you may physically be ready for jihad whenever the time comes for it." Moreover, the ISIJ demanded that Ontario's government apologize for welcoming Salman Rushdie. Problematic Muslim enclaves are not uncommon, but the boldness of the ISIJ plan, the radicalism of its backers, and its location in a "predominantly Jewish area" make this a particularly interesting battle to watch. A city council-sanctioned working group will offer rezoning recommendations by summer.
Ex-staffer sues Boston hospital after being fired for refusing flu vaccine
"A former Children's Hospital Boston employee who said she was fired because her Islamic beliefs prohibited her from getting a mandatory flu shot sued the hospital," the Boston Business Journal reports. Leontine Robinson apparently balked at the traces of pork-derived gelatin contained in it. She claims to have been permitted to skip the shots for years, which is disturbing, but the matter came to a head when a stricter policy was enforced in 2011. According to the article, her suit explains that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a flash of common sense, "dismissed a similar complaint she had filed with the agency against Children's."
As detailed in a previous IW news brief, some British Islamic leaders advised Muslims to avoid a flu vaccine for children in 2013. The Boston dispute also highlights broader requests to exempt Muslim health workers from standard safety practices. Daniel Pipes compiles prominent cases, many from the UK, including rejections of alcohol-based antibacterial hand lotions and rules about leaving the lower arms uncovered to ease washing and prevent contamination when treating patients. Among the concessions was an order letting British Muslims wear disposable sleeves for modesty. In contrast to a number of topics tracked by IW, there is little gray area with this one. Religion simply must not take precedence over the health of others.
Pork in Scandinavia: To serve or not to serve
Scandinavians continue to debate the accommodation of Islamic dietary norms by restricting the availability of pork in certain establishments. Remarks from two freshly appointed cabinet members reflect the divide. One camp is represented by Manu Sareen, Denmark's integration minister, who "told Politiken newspaper that it should be up to every council, daycare institution, and hospital to decide whether to ban pork for the sake of the Muslim minority." Dozens of Danish childcare facilities have dropped pork. Comparable changes have appeared in Sweden.
On the other side is Sylvi Listhaug, Norway's agriculture minister. "We cannot stop serving pork because Muslims have moved to Norway," she stated, citing a trend witnessed in hospitals, prisons, and so forth. "Those responsible for food in public institutions should put pork on the menu, and then make sure that those who do not eat pork can get something else." The right-of-center Listhaug was echoing Sareen's left-of-center boss, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. "We need to remember in our zeal to welcome new citizens not to lose sight of our own culture," the Danish prime minister cautioned last year while speaking out against the withdrawal of pork products. "We have to stick with the way we eat and what we do in Denmark. There should be room for frikadeller [meatballs]." Indeed.
Zombie Osama target puts Canadian politicians in the crosshairs
Two Conservative Party politicians from Alberta, MP Rob Anders and candidate Melissa Mathieson, provoked the thought police by posing at a gun range with a zombie Osama bin Laden target in the background. This paints Muslims "as people who should be shot or belittled," said Souheil Merhi, chairman of the Muslim Council of Calgary. "As leaders, they should promote tolerance and show the real image of Canada, a peaceful place where people come to enjoy freedom of speech and religion, and not being judged because of somebody else's actions."
We have been here before. In 1998, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sought the removal of billboards in California that were "reinforcing negative stereotypes of Muslims" by featuring bin Laden's picture and describing him as "the sworn enemy." Last year, CAIR convinced a Michigan gun shop to quit selling targets that "perpetuate hate" by portraying bin Laden as a turban-wearing, rifle-toting skeleton. Such overt capitulation was not replicated at the Canadian range, but the responses were uninspiring nonetheless. Anders claimed not to have noticed the target; Mathieson tried to duck the issue entirely. Wiser politicians would have seized the chance to defend freedom of expression and critique self-anointed Muslim spokesmen and their bizarre aversion to caricatures of the arch-terrorist. Timidity in confronting the various strains of radical Islam will ultimately reshape our societies more than bin Laden ever could.
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.