The Muslim Taxi Driver

February 28, 2014

 

If you want to kill legislation that protects the right of Christians to withhold business services from same-sex couples, here’s one way to do it: Don’t warn people about Christians. Warn them about Muslims.

That strategy was on display in the campaign against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits if they acted on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But in Arizona, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents went for the Muslim angle.

Many Americans who talk about religious freedom are really just interested in the rights of conservative Christians. They’re not so keen on Muslims. In fact, they worry about Muslims imposing their beliefs on Christians. Two days ago, in praise of the Arizona bill, Rush Limbaugh complained, “Religious beliefs can’t be used to stop anything the left wants to impose—unless they’re Muslim religious beliefs, and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted.”

The first reference to Muslims in the Arizona fight, as far as I can tell, came from the Anti-Defamation League in a letter to state senators and in testimony before a state Senate committee on Jan. 16. If the bill were to pass, the ADL’s assistant regional director told the committee, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”

This week, as lawmakers voted on the bill and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer weighed whether to sign it, the chorus grew. On Feb. 20, the editorial board of the Arizona Republic warned Brewer, “The proposed law is so poorly crafted it could allow a Muslim taxi driver to refuse service to a woman traveling alone.” On Feb. 21, John Aravosis, the editor of Americablog and a political consultant, brought up theMuslim cab driver and other scenarios raised by the ADL. On Feb. 22, Box Turtle Bulletin, a gay rights blog, published a post titled “Did the Arizona Legislature Just Legalize Sharia Law?

On Feb. 24, USA Today columnist Owen Ullman asked, “if religious beliefs are a justification for refusing gay couples, shouldn’t Arizona extend the principle to all religious beliefs? Devout Muslims should have the right to refuse service to women who are not covered in burqas.” On Feb. 25, fellow columnist Kirsten Powers, a former communications consultantadded:

I can’t prove that all this Muslim talk influenced Brewer’s decision to veto the billlast night. But it definitely caused trouble. During the state Senate debate on Feb. 20, the bill’s sponsor struggled with the Muslim taxi driver question. (Skip to minute 1:22 of the video.) On Feb. 25 the state’s Capitol Media Services raised the taxi driver scenario in an analysis of the bill’s legal ramifications. On Feb. 26, CBS News asked the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which helped craft the bill, whether it would “protect a Muslim wedding photographer who does not want to photograph a Jewish wedding.” She said it would.

Slate.com: http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/02/27/arizona_s_antigay_bill_did_warnings_about_muslim_religious_freedom_help.html

USA Today.com: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/24/voices-column-on-arizona-anti-gay-bill/5775081/

CAIR-AZ Condemns ADL’s Stereotyping of Muslims in Bill 1062 Debate

February 28, 2014

 

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today called on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to apologize for stereotypical statements made about Muslims during recent debate over Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from lawsuits if employees acted on religious beliefs to discriminate against customers.

In testimony before a state Senate committee the ADL’s assistant regional director posed a scenario in which, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”

“It is unconscionable that a group purporting to defend civil rights would resort to religious bigotry to promote its political agenda,” said CAIR-AZ Board Chair Imraan Siddiqi. “The introduction of this stereotypical scenario gave way to the narrative that Muslims are in some way serial abusers of ‘religious freedom based denials of service,’ which is completely baseless.”

Siddiqi noted that Muslims, like the majority of other Arizonans, believe that those serving the public must treat all customers equally, or be prepared to seek another line of work.

In 2010, CAIR’s New York chapter called on the ADL to retract its statement against the construction of an Islamic community center in New York City.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12390-cair-az-condemns-adl-stereotyping-of-muslims-in-bill-1062-debate.html

ADL criticizes new bullying guidelines

WASHINGTON — The Anti-Defamation League is taking issue with a new, broadly supported pamphlet on balancing anti-bullying policies and religious speech in public schools.

The pamphlet, written chiefly by the American Jewish Committee, was released on Tuesday (May 22) with endorsements from groups ranging from the National Association of Evangelicals to the National School Boards Association to the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

On Thursday (May 24), the ADL, a Jewish civil rights group, criticized the pamphlet for suggesting that “bullying erupts in the aftermath of disagreements over political or religious speech.” What actually happens most frequently, the ADL said, is “the intentional targeting of an individual with less physical or social standing for physical, verbal, and emotional abuse.”

But to the ADL, the pamphlet sends mixed messages and contradicts state laws and federal guidelines on bullying by emphasizing students’ First Amendment rights over schools’ responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all students, especially those who may be particularly vulnerable to bullying.

The pamphlet, entitled “Harassment, Bullying and Free Expression: Guidelines for Free and Safe Public Schools,” was produced by the Washington-based Religious Freedom Education Project/First Amendment Center.

CAIR commends Florida Jewish group for condemning hate speech

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) commended the Florida office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concerning the anti-Islam hate of Dutch politicial Geert Wilders, who was recently given a standing ovation at a Florida synagogue.

At the end of April, CAIR called on members of the Jewish community to condemn “Nazi-like” statements by Wilders, who claimed that “Islam is not a religion” and “the right to religious freedom should not apply to this totalitarian ideology called Islam” at a Palm Beach, FL synagogue. He received applause and a standing ovation from his statements. In a statement released by the ADL Florida Regional Director, Andrew Rosenkranz said: “The ADL strongly condemns Geert Wilders’ message of hate against Islam as inflammatory, divisive and antithetical to American democratic ideals. This rhetoric is dangerous and incendiary, and wrongly focuses on Islam as a religion, as opposed to the very real threat of extremist, radical Islamists.”