Some Stark Intolerance by ‘progressive’ Jews
I made my own comments on this yesterday on TONGUE-TIED. I find it hard to get past the religious aspect of this -- the fact that the only person in the shul who was faithful to the Torah was Michele Bachmann. Do the self-righteous homosexuals in the congregation ever read the Torah? Bachmann is a better Jew than they are (Leviticus 18:22). Their "faith" is just Leftism. They profane the faith of the children of Israel by calling themselves Jews. They are just play-acting secularists
While most of the Jewish world generally considers Yom Kippur as being a time for setting aside grudges and petty dislikes and undertaking a little personal introspection, a bizarre series of events seems to have unfolded around a non-Orthodox congregation in Chicago, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and the Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei service.
The former Republican Presidential candidate and long time supporter of Israel had reportedly taken up the invite of the President of AIPAC to accompany him to the Kol Nidrei service at Anshe Emet Synagogue. However, when the protocol was followed of announcing Michelle Bachmann’s presence at the service a murmur of disapproval was heard amidst the congregation and a number of congregants even walked out of the service. Later, several members of the community registered their strong opposition to Bachmann’s presence at their service, with one same sex couple claiming that they would refuse to attend services the following day, presumably on account of the Congresswoman’s views on same sex marriage. One has to wonder if they threaten never to return every time a reading from the Torah takes place, given its position on the subject.
Of all those whipped up in the outrage, the most vocal opposition seems to have come from a young man called Gary Sircus who by all accounts found the demonic forces of Michelle Bachmann so overpowering that in his own words “The holiness of the room and the holiness of the evening was greatly diminished for me, if not completely destroyed”. Indeed, it seems that for Sircus the holiness of the day had been rendered so tarnished that he evidently felt compelled to forgo several of the religious prohibitions associated with the day and promptly went out and donated funds to Michelle Bachmann’s Democrat opponent that very same evening.
Yet, perhaps it is unfair to question Mr Sircus’ talk of holiness, for it appears he saw his mission against Michelle Bachmann in quasi-religious terms, claiming “Bachmann actively campaigns against virtually every principle on which my faith is grounded.” Even more startlingly, in an email he sent out as part of the campaign he has launched to win funding for Bachmann’s opponent in the wake of her synagogue visit, Sircus stated: “Even though I do not vote in Minnesota, please do everything in your power to take away this evil woman’s soapbox.” The assertion that Bachmann should be considered ‘evil’ does not go completely unsubstantiated, however, for as Sircus explains “Our congregation values and embodies tolerance, compassion, respect for individual rights, intelligence, science — all of the things that I think Michele Bachmann stands against”.
Just on a side, it would be fascinating to hear from Gary how exactly he squares these allegations of Bachmann’s mission against her twin enemies; ‘compassion’ and ‘intelligence’, with her having fostered 23 children and her tireless campaigning to ensure that schools give a genuinely academic education, against attempts to reduce them to places of mere vocational training.
Anyway, what is so striking about these comments is that having identified Michele Bachmann as a force for absolute evil in the world, the more familiar relativist sentiments also clearly raise their head. The fashionable talk of tolerance often suggests the possibility for allowing for all viewpoints, all identities and all people. Except, that is, for those individuals who will not likewise commit to this same worldview; those such as Michele Bachmann, who has as a believing Christian and opponent of radical Islam made clear that there are some things that should not be tolerated so lightly. And so the tolerance professed by communities such as Anshe Emet, with its prominent LGBT population, appears to be rather a sham tolerance, a tolerance that extends only so far as to those individuals who share the values of the community, as Sircus makes so clear in his remarks. He may talk of tolerance and compassion as being values embodied by the community, yet it seems that in practice Congresswoman Bachmann was deemed worthy of being afforded neither of these sentiments. Similarly, while he spoke of the community’s purported support for individual rights, when it came to the right of freedom of religious and political conviction, clearly Michele Bachmann could not expect to enjoy such rights and still have her presence at the synagogue tolerated.
Gary Sircus could not have been clearer than when he qualified his actions with the statement that “she is not simply someone with whom I disagree, but symbolizes and promotes a brand of politics that is in tolerable.” And clearly many others felt the same when they put their money where this rather intolerant mouth is and joined in donating to Bachamann’s Democrat rival as an apparent act of punishment for her having visited their community (with donations from the Chicago area to the Democrat candidate in Minnesota reportedly having increased 400%).
The idea that tolerance means accepting those who have a view that runs counter to and even offends your own would seem to be an anathema to so many self-titled liberal Jews. That is not liberalism. Not in any meaningful sense as most people would understand it, certainly not as the liberal thinker John Stuart Mill would have understood it. Going on a witch hunt against those who dare to show their face at your community while holding opinions different to your own is not liberalism, its fanaticism.
It is curious that having reached out in this way to another faith group and to a community that is so actively supportive of LGBT groups, Michelle Bachmann is not cheered but is instead chastised by this supposedly liberal community. Were Michelle Bachmann to never visit other faith groups or were she to have visited a deeply conservative Orthodox congregation instead, she would doubtless have been criticised by the very same Anshe Emet types. It is as if there is nothing that Bachmann can be allowed to do that might risk redeeming her somewhat in the eyes of progressives. As an evangelical, Tea Party, Republican woman she must remain perpetually vilified and accept the likes of the ever compassionately tolerant Gary Sircus branding her as evil.
What is certainly not the least troubling aspect of this whole affair are the comments made by the congregation’s Rabbi, Rabbi Michael Seigel, who explained without any apparent tone of irony; “I am aware of the fact that our congregation’s policy in regards to public officials clearly caused pain to some members of our community on the most precious day of reconciliation on the Jewish calendar…That we regret deeply.” Yes indeed, Yom Kippur is a day of reconciliation. But why was it that Michelle Bachmann, an evangelical Christian, seized on this opportunity for reconciliation with another faith group and a community associated with LGBT, while ‘progressive’ Jews used this as a chance for rapprochement, hostility and launching a further attack.
Geller Agonistes — Truth in Advertising About the Jihad Against Israel
Andrew Bostom uses a lot of hard words below but his message survives it. ("Agonistes" is ancient Greek for "warrior" but the allusion is probably to "Samson Agonistes" by Milton)
All of us who cherish Western free speech, particularly when it elucidates irrefragable truths, owe an enormous debt to journalist and author Pamela Geller.
With courageous tenacity, and unflappable poise (listen to former New York Governor David Paterson's own eyewitness account of her appearance at the New York Metropolitan Transportation [MTA] Authority board meeting, 9/27/12 ), Ms. Geller obtained permission to post advertisements in the New York City subway system that appositely characterize the Palestinian Muslim-and larger global Muslim umma's-annihilationist jihad against Israel.
An earlier advertising campaign allowed by the MTA promulgated the ahistorical, Islamic supremacist narrative: that all of historical Palestine remains the "fay territory," or booty, of its 7th century Muslim jihad conquerors who massacred, pillaged, deported, and enslaved the indigenous non-Arab Christian, Jewish, and Samaritan communities; ignored the fact that in 1922, 78% of the League of Nations Mandate for a Jewish Palestinian homeland was arbitrarily used to create a Judenrein by law Muslim state, i.e. "Trans-Jordan" (see contemporary Jordan's law no. 6, sect. 3, April 3, 1954, reactivated in law no. 7, sect. 2, on April 1, 1963; p. 119, n 82); claimed that since 1948, Israel's defensive wars of survival deprived the would-be murderous Palestinian Muslim community (abetted by Muslim nation armies, and jihadist volunteers, in the Middle East, and beyond) of some of the remaining disputed territory, while being responsible for "4.5 million Palestinian refugees"- at least six-fold the actual number of perhaps 750,000, and oblivious to the fact 900,000 Jews in Muslim lands, well removed from the battlegrounds in historical Palestine, were simultaneously made refugees via murderous pogroms, expropriations, and expulsions, between 1948 and 1967.
Geller crafted a response to these mendacious anti-Israel ads, and overcame the MTA's initial refusal to post her ad, with a successful legal challenge. The anti-jihad ad (just below) paraphrases Ayn Rand's astute, if blunt comments about Palestinian irredentism during a 1979 appearance on Phil Donahue's show, while, affirming, correctly, the jihad war being waged against Israel.
The jihad pathology identified and held up for opprobrium in Geller's ad was captured in this graphic discussion of jihadist carnage "celebrations" by the Palestinian Muslim masses, excerpted from Dr. Raphael Israeli's 2003 book Islamikaze-Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology:
...few outsiders have paid attention to the makeshift stage, erected at the terminal of those processions, which bring to their climax the celebrations. Often the latest target they destroyed, for example an Israeli bus loaded with dozens of passengers on board, is meticulously reconstructed in paper, cardboard and cloth, painted so as to imitate the original, and then set ablaze to the lunatic cries of delight of the watching crowds. All the while, the perpetrators of the actual horror against the real Israeli bus, or more often their successors, who wished to cultivate the "heritage" of the deceased Islamikaze, run around the stage in frenzy, shoot long bursts in the air as if possessed by some other worldly power, shout blood-chilling war cries, repeatedly invoke the Power of Allah, smash the burned carcass of the bus and stab with bayonets the "remnants" of the slain "passenger," whom they, or their fellow kamikaze had earlier slain in reality.Moreover hard data confirm the ongoing implacable, murderous irredentism of Israel's Palestinian Muslim "peace partners."
Even these horrendous scenes, taken from a different reality than the one known to civilized people, can be "improved upon" by the Hamas. In Nablus, during the Palestinian Intifadah that broke out in October 2000, a most disturbing "exhibition" was presented to the general public in the city public square, which showed in inhuman detail the replicas of blown-up limbs and body pieces of Israelis who had perished in a restaurant by Hamas Islamikaze. It was only the reports of the deeply disgusted foreign correspondents, and the protests of the Israelis who did not want to relive that horro by seeing it replicated on the screens, which convinced the Palestinian Authority to move the exhibition indoors, not to close it down, and arrest its promoters.
During July 2011, American pollster Stanley Greenberg reported the findings from what was described as an "intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in Judea-Samaria, and the Gaza Strip."
Here are the two most salient, pathognomonic survey results which further validate the underlying veracity of Geller's anti-jihad ad:
First, 73% of the Palestinians surveyed agree with the annihilationist dictates of this canonical hadith (the words and deeds of Islam's prophet Muhammad which have a weight often equal to the Koran), quoted in the Hamas Covenant.
As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology - end of times theology - highlights the Jews' supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl - the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ - or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, or Jerusalem, wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered - everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7). The hadith - which three-fourths of those surveyed agree should be acted upon - is cited in the Covenant as a sacralized, obligatory call for a Muslim genocide of the Jews:
...the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)Second, 80% agreed with the quoted sentiments expressed in article 15 of the Hamas Covenant (subtitled, "Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is a Personal Duty"), which describes classical jihadist theory - including jihad martyrdom (i.e., homicide bombing) operations - as well as its practical modern application to the destruction of Israel by jihad, and the need to recruit the entire global Muslim community, or "umma," in this quintessential Islamic cause:
The day the enemies conquer some part of the Muslim land, jihad becomes a personal duty of every Muslim. In the face of the Jewish occupation of Palestine, it is necessary to raise the banner of jihad. This requires the propagation of Islamic consciousness among the masses, locally [in Palestine], in the Arab world and in the Islamic world. It is necessary to instill the spirit of jihad in the nation, engage the enemies and join the ranks of the jihad fighters. The indoctrination campaign must involve ulama, educators, teachers and information and media experts, as well as all intellectuals, especially the young people and the sheikhs of Islamic movements...The actual Palestinian Muslim jihad savagery, and its equally heinous, continued, and widespread promulgation with an Islamic religious imprimatur, is far worse than conveyed in the ad's comparatively staid language.
It is necessary to establish in the minds of all the Muslim generations that the Palestinian issue is a religious issue, and that it must be dealt with as such, for [Palestine] contains Islamic holy places, [namely] the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is inseparably connected, for as long as heaven and earth shall endure, to the holy mosque of Mecca through the Prophet's nocturnal journey [from the mosque of Mecca to the Al-Aqsa mosque] and through his ascension to heaven thence. "Being stationed on the frontier for the sake of Allah for one day is better than this [entire] world and everything in it; and the place taken up in paradise by the [horseman's] whip of any one of you [jihad fighters] is better than this [entire] world and everything in it. Every evening [operation] and morning [operation] performed by Muslims for the sake of Allah is better than this [entire] world and everything in it." (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja). "By the name of Him who holds Muhammad's soul in His hand, I wish to launch an attack for the sake of Allah and be killed and attack again and be killed and attack again and be killed." (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim)
Free speech champion Pamela Geller, in the words of the late historian and human rights activist David Littman (quoting his beloved Shakespeare's Henry V, Act 3 Scene 1), has "shown us the mettle of her pasture." All who wish to protect freedom of speech must share the burden of its defense, or this bedrock Western freedom will disappear, trampled by Sharia supremacists and their morally cretinous non-Muslim abettors.
The inverted snobbery of the British Labor Party leader relies on a deception
Some comments below by a British woman who went to a real "comprehensive" school, which makes her a "compster". Such schools vary a lot according to their catchment area but their reputation is for bad pupil behaviour and poor intellectual standards. They are Britian's principal taxpayer-supported schools. They are rarely a starting point for a lifetime of achievement
My privately educated mate has lovely manners and first-rate grammar. But in suffering, in bitter experience, I am his superior and I carry that knowledge like a knife. This is where Compsters score: lacking playing fields, we have never been under any illusion that life is cricket.
Ed Miliband made a big issue of his school in his acclaimed “One Nation” conference speech. “I went to a comprehensive,” Ed said. About 15 times. Unlike the Labour leader, I don’t believe that a choice your parents made for you merits applause. It’s the choices we make ourselves that prove who we are.
Anyway, it’s pretty pathetic that Ed should need to boast that he went to the same sort of school as 93 per cent of Britons, isn’t it? But then it’s pathetic that, in a modern democracy, only eight out of 31 government ministers are fully fledged Compsters. Ed set out to convince people how ordinary he is compared to the “born-to-rule” elite to which Cameron and Clegg belong. Hugging his invisible hoodie to his skinny frame, Pleb Ed pointed out that he had once lived among us at Haverstock Hill Comprehensive in north London.
What Ed forgot to explain is that he is the scion of leftist intellectuals, another kind of social – or socialist – elite. Around the Miliband dinner table in Hampstead, young Ed would say, “I must switch on the television set and discover who shot JR.” And old dad Miliband would snort: “Dallas is American hegemony in action, son. Beware Sue-Ellen, that sensual-mouthed, lipsticked lackey of capitalist running-dogs!”
No wonder Ed was thrilled to go to Haverstock with local oiks who thought Marx was a mate of Spencer. There, he could enjoy the educational experience on offer to any bright, hard-working child in an inner-city comp – being picked on, thumped, and sent on his way with cheery cries of “F--- off, Brains!”
On Twitter this week, the novelist Jojo Moyes recalled her own experience at the same school: “Crossing the playground [at Haverstock] was like crossing No-Man’s Land. Have been in less frightening riots in the Falls Road [Northern Ireland].”
Pleb Ed recalled no such grim scenes; they would have complicated a feelgood speech. He said only that Haverstock was “a really tough school” and he was grateful for the chance to “meet kids from all walks of life”. And be stabbed by them.
“I wouldn’t be standing on this stage without my COMPREHENSIVE education,” hollered Pleb Ed. That’s a lie, and a cowardly one. If your father can wangle you work experience in Tony Benn’s office, then you are not a bog-standard Compster. If you grow up in a book-lined Georgian villa, you are born to a life of privilege most Compsters can only dream of.
The tragedy is not that Miliband is a hypocrite who uses his biography selectively to curry favour with the masses. That’s now standard political practice. No, the tragedy is that Ed actually went to the kind of crap school thousands of kids have to put up with, but ideology prevents him telling the truth about it.
In his new memoir, Last Man Standing, Jack Straw displays rather more candour. He confesses that inner-city schools “had become less pretty than many on the Left were prepared to admit”. Comprehensives, says Straw bluntly, were the brainwave of “elites planning for other people’s children”.
Shamefully, Pleb Ed’s speech contained not a single word of praise for Labour’s academies programme, which has done so much to bring back discipline and raise standards in secondary swamps. Instead, he took some cheap shots at Michael Gove, who is trying to build on that good work.
Pleb Ed should ask himself why the present head of Haverstock admits his school is no longer chosen by middle-class parents. Teachers who were allowed to be frightening; setting and streaming which permitted the geeky Miliband brothers to learn away from disruptive kids… over the years, such things were banished by Labour in the name of progress, which stymied the very children it was supposed to help.
If Ed Miliband is serious about the One Nation idea, he could start by admitting that too many comprehensives, like the one he attended, are failing and that every child deserves the education enjoyed by those lucky enough to be at private school. Then he could throw his party behind city academies and any kind of educational provision which gets results. Scorning elitism when you are the product of an elite yourself is no kind of lesson to teach our young people.
At which point, the resident public schoolboy would probably sigh and say: “An nescis, mea puella, quantilla prudentia mundus regatur?”*. To which I would reply: Speak English, you posh git!
Did I mention I went to a comprehensive?
Western Courts Bend to Islamic Practices
Judges' consideration of Shari'a when deciding cases may be the most alarming avenue by which Islam influences Western legal systems, but it is not the only one. With increasing regularity, Islamic practices sway the administration of courtrooms, affecting when sessions are held, who must rise, and what attire is permissible. This trend should not be overlooked. Courts that yield to Islamic norms, even in mundane matters, encourage Islamists and cast doubt on the future of equal rights and responsibilities under the law.
Ramadan. The Islamic month of fasting can require significant shuffling of schedules by devout Muslims, but are secular courts obligated to alter theirs? Some answer in the affirmative.
Muslim convert Mark Edward Wetsch is one recent beneficiary. Charged with robbing 13 Minnesota banks, he objected to a hearing set for July 20, 2012, the first day of Ramadan, and asked that it be pushed back for a month. Though Judge Jeanne Graham initially declined the request, he persisted. Ramadan means "not engaging in conflict and argument," but rather taking part in "work to reconcile differences and seek peace," according to a motion filed on his behalf. "Clearly, a contested hearing in which the government is making allegations against Mr. Wetsch and he is fighting against [them] causes him to engage in conflict and argument." Graham relented and issued the desired continuance.
The U.S. military court that will try five al-Qaeda terrorists accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks bent to similar sensitivities this year. After turning their May 5 arraignment into a circus, the jihadists sought to postpone a hearing scheduled for the week of August 8, near the end of Ramadan. James Connell III, a government-compensated defense attorney, stressed in a filing that "the last 10 days of Ramadan commemorate the night God - Allah - revealed the Holy Quran to the Prophet Mohammed." Hence, "these 10 days are the most holy period of the Muslim calendar and are typically observed by fasting, prayer, and seclusion." Despite having previously ruled out Ramadan-related extensions, the judge, Colonel James Pohl, agreed to a delay. Connell was relieved: "It's very difficult to pay attention to sometimes intricate legal proceedings when you haven't had any sleep and you haven't had any food." (In one bright spot, Pohl rebuffed a petition not to hold hearings on Fridays, the day of communal Islamic prayers.)
Such Ramadan accommodations are not new. Four years ago, a French judge postponed a trial after a lawyer complained that "his client, a Muslim, would have been fasting for two weeks and thus, he said, be in no position to defend himself properly," in the words of the BBC. "He would be physically weakened and too tired to follow the arguments as he should." (Note that Muslims have played professional football during Ramadan fasts, so it is not obvious that ordinary Muslims are incapable of sitting in a courtroom.) A prosecutor denied that Ramadan had anything to do with the change, but others believed it to be the sole viable explanation. Fadela Amara, a Muslim then serving as urban affairs minister, decried the "knife wound" to France's separation of religion and state.
Of course, scheduling controversies are not exclusive to Islam. In 2011, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court had "abused its discretion" by rejecting an Orthodox Jewish plaintiff's motion to suspend a malpractice trial for two days due to Shavuot, during which his faith would preclude him from working or having work done for him. However, the decision stands out because many other U.S. federal and state courts have found no abuse of discretion by judges who did not grant similar Jewish holiday requests. If a continuance of one or two days is not automatic, then certainly the bar should be that much higher for a month-long Ramadan break - especially when its religious necessity is far less concrete than the work proscriptions characterizing strictly observed Jewish holidays.
Rising for judges. Standing when a judge enters and leaves the courtroom is a centuries-old tradition conveying respect for authority and maintaining order. Those who fail to rise may be cited for contempt, but some Muslims are challenging this point of protocol.
The most important U.S. case has centered on Amina Farah Ali, a citizen and Minnesota resident who, along with a second woman, faced federal charges of funding a Somali terrorist organization; both were convicted last autumn. After Ali did not stand at a pretrial hearing, Judge Michael Davis warned that all must do so. Unlike other Muslims present, she refused again and again for the first two days of the trial, prompting Davis to issue 20 contempt citations carrying jail time. The defendant said that because Islam's prophet had told his followers that they did not need to honor him in that way, it would be wrong of her to stand for anyone but Allah. An appeals court threw out 19 of the citations in June, determining that an ultimatum to rise "substantially burdens the free exercise of religion" for her. It instructed Davis to consider her rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which declares that religious exercise can be curbed only if the government has a compelling reason. On September 18, Davis reinstated contempt charges but then quickly "purged" them, dropping the penalties. While there are precedents for religious exemptions from the standing requirement, involving Quakers in particular, Ali's case opens the door for a very different group: American Islamists eager to thumb their noses at the secular legal system. Expect more such incidents in the U.S.
Comparable conflicts have erupted elsewhere. Several radicals later found guilty of shouting hatred at British troops during a 2009 homecoming parade would not rise at their trial, because "in Muslim countries it is a grave and cardinal sin to show respect in this way to anyone other than God himself." Although the UK is not a Muslim country - at least not yet - the judge caved, acceding to a compromise whereby they could enter the courtroom after she did. Accused terrorists are not big fans of the standing requirement either, as seen in 2007 at the outset of proceedings against nine men from Sydney, Australia, charged with plotting attacks. According to one account, the judge "was not concerned by the refusal but suggested it might not be a wise course of action when the trial started," for jurors could take a harsher view. The jihadists got their comeuppance regardless: all eventually pleaded guilty or were convicted.
The issue has extended to lawyers as well. Mohammed Enait, a fundamentalist attorney in the Netherlands, initiated a long dispute over his resolve to stay seated on the grounds that all are equal before Allah. Mixed messages ensued. A court in 2008 approved an exception for Enait, but it was reversed. Meanwhile, the bar association reprimanded him, but an appeals tribunal voided it, referencing his "sincere and authentic religious convictions."
Clothing. Common sense dictates that face veils (niqabs) should not be welcome in a court of law, where security is critical, participants must be identified, and some judges and lawyers use facial expressions to analyze the veracity of statements. Yet none of this has slowed the push for concessions.
The good news is that most witnesses wanting to wear niqabs are turned down, as demonstrated by examples from Australia, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the temporarily uncovered women often are allowed to testify with backs to the audience or from behind screens - an accommodation in and of itself. Also of relevance, judges have been known to expel women in niqabs from public seating areas, with recent ejections in France, where face-concealing attire is now broadly restricted, and Sweden, where safety concerns were voiced at a hearing related to a plot to kill cartoonist Lars Vilks.
The bad news is that there have been leaks in the dam, with the potential for more. Three years ago, a woman became the first in Denmark to give evidence from underneath a niqab, after briefly revealing her face to a female judge for identification purposes. A 2012 decision by Italy's Higher Judicial Council clears the way for veils to be worn as long as they "constitute a legitimate exercise of the right to profess one's own religion" and meet the subjective criterion of not "causing disturbance to the regular and correct court proceedings." Indeed, judges in most jurisdictions are not bound by rigid guidelines. For instance, following Judge Paul Paruk's dismissal of a plaintiff's case in 2006 because she would not testify with her face showing, the Michigan Supreme Court affirmed only that lower courts are to "exercise reasonable control over the appearance of parties and witnesses." A judge more in thrall to multiculturalism could have acquiesced to the niqab - just like the Danish one did.
A Canadian case that began in 2007 is among the most pivotal. At its center is a sexual assault complainant, N.S., who wished to testify against two male relatives at a preliminary inquiry while wearing her niqab. The accused men objected, insisting that they would need to see her face to evaluate her claims, and Judge Norris Weisman noted that N.S. was not veiled in her driver's license photo. Weisman determined that she must remove the niqab, but this order was quashed by the Ontario Superior Court and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The latter extensively acknowledged the religious rights of niqab wearers in the courtroom, though it did admit that in some circumstances a defendant's right to a fair trial could require a witness to bare her face. It sent the issue back for reconsideration and urged "constructive compromises," including such possible arrangements as a female judge and an all-female courtroom staff. The Supreme Court of Canada heard testimony last December, as N.S. was still seeking an order entitling her to take the stand covered. Its eventual ruling may shake up the niqab debate in that country and beyond.
Even the jury box can be a place of controversy. In March, a UK judge took the "extraordinary" step of prohibiting a niqab-clad woman from serving. Muslim leaders condemned it as bias, but one could argue that she actually benefited from a new shade of courtroom accommodation that rescued her from the unpleasantness of jury duty: forget about dropping the veil and just go home. Will more Muslims be inspired to arrive in niqabs, hoping to escape their own obligations?
Although most wrangling has focused on face veils, mainstream Islamic attire occasionally stirs the pot. Allowing judges to wear headscarves (hijabs), which could preempt the desired image of religious neutrality on the bench, is an issue in Europe. A state-appointed body recently recommended that Norwegian judges be permitted to don them, while the topic formerly roiled the Danish government. Lawyers also have been involved in such disputes. In 2009, an appeals panel of the Dutch bar association ruled that the same Mohammed Enait introduced above could wear a "Muslim hat." As for others with business at the courthouse, the U.S. state of Georgia has led the way in officially relaxing restrictions on headgear to accept apparel worn for religious reasons, following the 2008 arrest of a woman who refused to remove her hijab at a security checkpoint; the shift has aided Muslim men as well.
Finally, no discussion would be complete without mentioning Cheryl Bormann, a Pentagon-paid civilian attorney who has covered her hair when representing one of the accused 9/11 planners. She requested that the court order modest dress for all women participating in the Gitmo legal process - "out of respect" - so pious terrorists are not compelled to look away "for fear of committing a sin under their faith."
Additional concerns. Prayer-related concessions are a source of growing discomfort. A court building in Dsseldorf, Germany, ditched crosses but installed footbaths for ritual washing; the need is said to have arisen because Muslims were cleansing their feet in toilets. The anti-military protesters who managed to remain seated at their UK trial "were given an extra 20 minutes on top of their lunch break to go to pray at a mosque," according to a Daily Mail article, and "a separate 'quiet' room [was] set aside for their regular prayer intervals." Early this year, the Associated Press noted in passing that a federal judge presiding over a sex trafficking case in Tennessee was "allowing the defendants to take scheduled Muslim prayer breaks during the proceedings." Deferential inaction also assisted the alleged 9/11 conspirators in using prayers to disrupt their arraignment.
Another jihadist testing the limits of accommodation is Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist facing a court-martial for murdering 13 people at Fort Hood. Contrary to Army regulations, Hasan began sporting a beard at pretrial hearings in June, sparking a protracted legal battle. "In the name of almighty Allah, I am a Muslim," Hasan explained to the judge, Colonel Gregory Gross, on August 30. "I believe that my religion requires me to wear a beard." However, prosecutors suspect that he simply intends to make it harder for witnesses to identify him. Gross ruled on September 6 that Hasan will be forcibly shaved if he does not shave himself - a decision that has been appealed, thus further delaying his trial and, with it, justice for his victims.
Last but not least, recall the infamous, decade-old British case in which a judge banned Jews and Hindus, as well as anyone married to them, from sitting on the jury that ultimately convicted Muslim cleric Abdullah el-Faisal for promoting the murder of those religions' followers. Though the bizarre move was more of an insult to Jews and Hindus, portraying them as completely emotional beings, than a sop to Islam, nobody should assume it to be the only time that a court will employ creative means to segregate Islamists from the groups they despise.
Demands for courtroom accommodations of all types show no signs of diminishing. Given their success in advancing the Islamist cause, why would they?
Unlike believers of various faiths who aspire to fulfill purely personal religious needs, Islamists view concessions as stepping stones to supremacy. Practitioners of cultural jihad understand how obtaining special privileges that appear minor on an individual basis can yield fundamental transformations in the aggregate, eating away at the bedrock principle of equality under the law and establishing that adherents of Islam are more equal than others. This phenomenon is particularly damaging when it takes place inside the courtroom, the venue in which that law is administered most visibly.
Judges must be mindful of this Islamist campaign of inches. Deference to Islam in any aspect of the legal system calls into question its impartiality as a whole, thereby sapping public confidence in the institution and making it an even more attractive target. Excessive accommodations also communicate a troubling message beyond run-of-the-mill weakness. Professor Barry Rubin's remarks on the Amina Farah Ali case put it best: "If Muslims are told that the state accepts the argument that Islamic law is recognized as superior to state law . they are being taught to be political Islamists."
Surely we have enough political Islamists dreaming of our defeat and dhimmitude as it is.
Update: Middle East Forum president Daniel Pipes points out another interesting example of accommodation not included above. In 2004, a federal judge in New York allowed a Muslim, Rafil Dhafir, to avoid a strip search before entering the court for his trial. Dhafir had argued, in the words of the Syracuse Post-Standard, that "Muslims must never appear naked in front of anyone except their spouses."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.