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IW News Brief: Niqabs in Court, Jihad in Brussels, and More
by David J. Rusin • Jun 25, 2014 at 12:01 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:
Women testify in Michigan court with faces veiled
Imam Mohammad Masroor was found guilty of raping three children in a case that "may be the first in Michigan and the U.S. where a judge allowed women wearing a niqab to testify," the Detroit Free Press reveals. Combined with other garments, niqabs leave only the eyes exposed. Masroor's lawyer insists that Judge Michael Hathaway's unusual accommodation meant that his client was "denied the right to fully cross-examine and confront" two veiled witnesses. The prosecutor had warned that rejecting them would be "a message to criminals everywhere that they can target women with niqabs or burqas because they would have a hard time testifying." Michigan's top court has set rules giving judges discretion in the matter.
Covered witnesses are rarely accepted, but courts continue to grapple with the subject. In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada outlined a test for determining if "the salutary effects of requiring her to remove the niqab outweigh the deleterious effects of doing so." Applying the test in 2013, the Ontario judge who had sparked the review by refusing a woman's request to stay veiled nixed it again when the case came back to him. An English judge also did not permit a Muslim to wear a niqab on the stand last year, citing the need "to see the defendant for the purposes of evaluating her evidence." One hopes that the Masroor trial will not mark the beginning of a new trend that puts cultural considerations above the integrity of the judicial process.
Czech president speaks the truth after Brussels shooting
With the arrest of Mehdi Nemmouche, a French national, the deadly terror attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium on May 24 appears to be the first in Europe by a homegrown Islamist who returned from the Syrian jihad. Initial responses ran the gamut: Islamist scholar Tariq Ramadan saw a conspiracy to blame anti-Semitism, recycling rumors that it was a hit on Israeli agents — as if that would justify spraying bullets into a public area. Yvan Mayeur, mayor of Brussels, declared the solution to be more diversity. But another politician demonstrated refreshing candor.
Even before Nemmouche had been found with a video lauding this "attack against the Jews," President Miloš Zeman of the Czech Republic fingered Islamic extremism. "I will not be reassured by claims that these are the actions of small fringe groups," he said. The problem is the "ideology on which these fanatical groups rely." Blasting "political cowardice," he added: "We should clearly name the enemy of human civilization, and this enemy is international terrorism coupled with religious fundamentalism and religious intolerance." He then referenced jihadist violence from New York to Nigeria and quoted an Islamic prophecy that promotes the killing of Jews. Despite pressure, Zeman has not apologized. Stand firm, Mr. President. Europe needs you.
Museum resists calls to airbrush Islam out of 9/11
The National September 11 Memorial Museum has opened amid complaints that a short film being shown there "refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad," the New York Times reports. Interfaith advisors "took strong exception to the film, believing some of the terminology in it casts aspersions on all Muslims, and requested changes." Panel member Mostafa Elazabawy resigned in protest, predicting that it "would greatly offend" and imperil Muslims. "Don't tell me [al-Qaeda] is an Islamist or an Islamic group; that means they are part of us," he said. Islamist organizations piled on. In reality, the museum bends over backwards not to depict Muslims negatively and had scholars vet the film. "The critics who are going to say, 'Let's not talk about it as an Islamic or Islamist movement,' could end up not telling the story at all," Princeton's Bernard Haykel explained. The museum has stood its ground thus far.
"We dishonor the dead by ignoring the identities and motives of their murderers," Investor's Business Daily argues. After all, the terrorists themselves linked 9/11 to Islam. Sanitizing their inspiration would leave the pain without context, the what without the why. Only by grasping the totalitarian ideology at the heart of 9/11 can we hope to prevent more such pain.
Concerns about Hizb ut-Tahrir personnel in positions of influence
Members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks a new caliphate and sometimes serves as a gateway to violence, often turn up in mainstream roles. "A British doctor responsible for the care of some of the country's most vulnerable people" is "a senior leader of a radical Islamist party banned in several countries," the London Telegraph reports. Taxpayer-funded psychiatrist Imran Waheed, who has advocated Shari'a governance and anti-Israel jihad, focuses on sexual dysfunction, PTSD, and cultural aspects of medicine; he "also provides advice to courts in criminal cases on potentially dangerous individuals." MP Khalid Mahmood has asked for an investigation into whether Waheed "can keep [his views] separate from his practice as a psychiatrist."
Further, the Copenhagen Post notes: "Last year at an extraordinary general meeting of the Brøndby Strand football club (BSI), Hizb ut-Tahrir members Zahid Mansoor and Ibrahim Atrach were given places on the club's board. Today, they are respectively the chairman and treasurer of the club," prompting worries about their agenda. "It is unpleasant that they lead a football club that has direct access to young men and boys," one researcher opined. Mansoor, who has ended alcohol sales at games, promised that "there is absolutely nothing to fear." We beg to differ.
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For additional news and analysis, please visit the IW website.