American Forces Press Service

January 22, 2014

 

The Defense Department today released a new instruction that details its updated policy on making religious accommodations requested by service members, Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan J. Christensen said today.

A DOD instruction implements a policy or prescribes the manner or plan of action used to carry out a policy, operate a program or activity, and assign responsibilities.

“The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members,” Christensen said, “unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline.”

When a service member requests such an accommodation, he added, department officials balance the need of the service member against the need to accomplish the military mission. Such a request is denied only if an official determines that mission accomplishment needs outweigh the need of the service member, Christensen said.

Requests to accommodate religious practices will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, the spokesman noted.

Defense.gov: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=121525
Updated DOD Instruction Regarding Religious Accommodation: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130017p.pdf

Growing In Faith: California Muslim Youth Experiences with Bullying , Harassment & Religious Accommodation in Schools

Full Report: Growing In Faith

 

The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR-CA) 2012 Muslim Youth at School Survey was the first statewide survey to examine the experiences of American Muslim youth at school. It targeted youth from across California and received responses from 21 counties. In total, 471 Muslim American students attending public school between the ages of 11 and 18 responded to the survey, which consisted of 10 multiple choice questions and space for comments.

Through the survey, CAIR-CA sought to better understand how comfortable American Muslim students felt attending their schools and participating in the classroom. CAIR-CA also made it a goal to enhance its awareness of the extent to which students were being bullied and their responses.

California’s Muslim students, for the most part, reported a healthy school environment in which they were comfortable participating in discussions about their religious identity, believed that their teachers respected their religion, and felt safe at school.

Most of the respondents came from areas of California with large and robust Muslim populations, such as Orange County and Santa Clara County. This may account for the many responses we received from students who stated that they felt confident and supported in asserting their Muslim identity at school.  While many respondents indicated that they simply internalized anti-Muslim name-calling from peers, such as “Osama Bin Laden” and “terrorist,” many indicated that this did not have a long-lasting effect on them.

As evidenced by the findings in this report, there are still significant issues facing American Muslim youth at school. The majority of school-related cases reported to CAIR involve teacher discrimination. Therefore, it is significant that 18% of the surveyed students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked about feeling comfortable participating in classroom discussions and 19% of students answered: ‘Strongly Disagree,’ ‘Disagree,’ or ‘Undecided’ when asked if their teachers respected their religion.

More than 10% of American Muslim students reported physical bullying such as slapping, kicking, or punching. Seventeen percent of the female respondents who wear a hijab, the Islamic headscarf, reported being bullied at least once because of this. Most importantly, 50% of American Muslim students reported being subjected to mean comments and rumors about them because of their religion. Additionally, more than 21% of students reported experiencing some form of cyberbullying.

Students had mixed reactions to reporting incidents to adults. About 63% said that they reported incidents of bullying to a teacher or principal, while only 53% said they reported to their parents. As to whether they thought reporting helped, 35% answered that it ‘Never,’ ‘Rarely,’ or ‘Sometimes’ helped, and only 17% answered that it ‘Often,’ or ‘Very Often’ helped.

With respect to how students reacted to their aggressors when they were bullied, 8% said that they fought back, 21% said that they insulted them back, and 11% said that they reacted by making fun of the aggressor’s religion or race. Sixty-one percent reported that they never fought back, 51% said that they never insulted their aggressor, and 60% reported that they never made fun of the bully’s religion or race.

School bullying is a phenonmenon that affects students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and American Muslim students are not exempt from being subjected to harassment and discrimination at school. As Islam and Muslims continue to be in the public spotlight, negative representations and assumptions in the public sphere serve as obstacles to cultivating a tolerant, nurturing, and healthy school environment for all students.

Link to pdf of report: http://ca.cair.com/downloads/GrowingInFaith.pdf

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): http://www.cair.com/

Quebecois Journalists Revisit Reasonable Accommodation Following “Honor” Killings

Speculation that the deaths of three Montreal-area sisters and their female caregiver could have been “honor” killings has rekindled the reasonable accommodation debate in the Quebec press.

Le Devoir columnist Jean-Claude Leclerc called the tragedy, which took place in Kingston, “the pretext for another dispute over tolerance in Canada.” Le Journal de Montreal’s Richard Martineau declared the killings a result of a “barbaric” extremist ideology and concluded by quoting French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement regarding the banning of the burqa in France: “We should not be ashamed of our values, we should not be afraid to defend them.”

In La Presse, Patrick Lagacé reserved some of his outrage for the police officers involved in last week’s press conference.

Muslims will be searched by sniffer dogs despite objections, say police

Questions have been raised over using sniffer dogs to search Muslim passengers at train stations following complaints that it is against their religion. Some Muslims had raised objections over being searched by the explosive-detecting animals, but British Transport Police have said they will continue to use the specially trained animals. The saliva of dogs, and not dogs per se, is considered to be unclean in Islam. The complaints came after a rail security trial at Brighton station, the Government revealed. The Muslims reported that it was not permissible for them to have direct contact with dogs due to their religious beliefs. Asked if the findings would lead to certain measures not being used on certain people, a BTP spokesman said: “The legislation applies to everyone. It’s not a case for exemptions. “Officers will be sensitive where appropriate but obviously there are practical implications.”

Full-text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)

Bouchard Taylor Reasonable Accommodation Report (Canada)

The long-awaited 96-page report on “reasonable accommodation” was released last week in Québec, concluding that Quebecois can no longer define themselves in terms of their French-Canadian heritage and should accept immigrants more readily. Philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérald Bouchard based the report following hearings across the province and having reviewed more than 900 briefs submitted by the public. Of the 21 specific cases studied by the commission’s researchers, only six were found to have been reported in the media without distortion. The report concludes that high-profile incidents like prenatal classes that supposedly barred fathers to avoid offending Muslims and a maple-sugar shack that agreed to serve halal meals were overblown. The report states, “We can only ask ourselves what form debate would have taken if the public had obtained complete, objective information.” The hijab figures prominently in the commission’s findings. Prime Minister Jean Charest has promised to act quickly in response.

Details Emerge from the Bouchard Taylor Reasonable Accommodation Report

The long-awaited 96-page report on reasonable accommodation was released last week in Quebec, concluding that Quebecers can no longer define themselves in terms of their French-Canadian heritage and should accept immigrants more readily. Philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gerald Bouchard based the report following hearings across the province and having reviewed more than 900 briefs submitted by the public. Of the 21 specific cases studied by the commission’s researchers, only six were found to have been reported in the media without distortion. The report concludes that high-profile incidents like prenatal classes that supposedly barred fathers to avoid offending Muslims and a maple-sugar shack that agreed to serve halal meals were overblown. The report states, We can only ask ourselves what form debate would have taken if the public had obtained complete, objective information. The hijab figures prominently in the commission’s findings. Prime Minister Jean Charest has promised to act quickly in response.

The Reasonable Accommodation recommendations from the province of Québec released

The report by sociologist G_rard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor, based on their reasonable accommodation debates in the province, states that there is a problem of perception and not a problem with integrating immigrants. Bouchard and Taylor claim that both the francophone and immigrant communities must come together in a moral contract to ensure social harmony. Immigrants should learn French while the majority francophone population must also participate in the integration of Qu_bec society. The commission added that in trying to accommodate the needs of minorities, courts should be avoided. The province’s premier, Jean Charest, added, We cannot erase our history. The crucifix is about 350 years of history in Quebec that none of us are ever going to erase, and of a very strong presence, in particular of the Catholic Church.

In a Europe Torn Over Mosques, A City Offers Accommodation

Next June, the French town of Creteil’s Muslims are scheduled to move into a new $7.4 mosque able to accommodate more than 2,500 worshippers. For many European Muslims, many of whom were born here as second-generation immigrants, new mosques denote a sense of recognition and acceptance of their growing numbers and rising status after decades of praying in informal buildings. Creteil’s mosque, however, is not without much controversy. French authorities are attempting to deport the mosque’s planned imam over inflammatory and radical comments, and anti-immigrant city council members are protesting the use of public funds for its adjacent cultural center. Despite challenges, the mosque remains on track, with an 84-foot minaret, soaring dome, and hybridized architecture of French and classical.