Georgia Newspaper Column Calls On U.S. To Send Muslims ‘Back To Their Native Land’

A local newspaper in Georgia recently published a column ostensibly about U.S. Middle East policy but which took a hard right turn into birtherism and racism, highlighting the Islamophobia problem at the local-level.

In its June 19 edition, the Advance — local newspaper for Vidalia, GA — published a “Plain Talk” column from author Gerry Allen on the current atmosphere of turbulence in the Middle East. The full article, titled “An Arab Spring or an Arab Fall,” can be read in full here.

Allen opens the piece claiming that Rudyard Kipling — author of the poem “The White Man’s Burden” essentially justifying Western imperialism — is one of his favorite authors, quoting the British writer as once saying, “East is East and West is West and never the twain will meet.” Allen then immediately calls up some of the most repugnant stereotypes of Islam, saying that while denying women and girls educations, Muslims “really don’t favor educating anybody in anything but mayhem.”

From there, the column becomes a tour de force of racism and Islamophobia masquerading as a critique of U.S. foreign policy. On Iraq, Allen notes the folly of attempting to impose democracy on a “truly backward people who had been ruled by tyrants and the Koran for thousands of years.” He criticizes President Obama — whom he frequently refers to as “Obumer” — for wavering on Syria, claiming that the President lacks the “backbone” to impose a no-fly zone. The reason for this lack of decisiveness? “He is a Muslim himself or at least a Muslim sympathizer,” Allen claims of Obama, repeating claims that birthers have made for years.

The localized nature of Islamophobia in the United States lends itself to problems both on the policy front and in terms of hindering efforts to end discrimination. CAP expert Matt Duss recently co-authored a report in which the effect of laws seeking to ban “Sharia law” within states often have unintended legal consequences. “Although packaged as an effort to protect American values and democracy, the bans spring from a movement whose goal is the demonization of the Islamic faith,” Duss wrote, along with the Brennan Center’s Fazia Patel and Amos Toh. “Beyond that, however, many foreign law bans are so broadly phrased as to cast doubt on the validity of a whole host of personal and business arrangements.”

Attempts to correct the many misperceptions of Muslims at the state and local-level often finds itself in conflict with those who would prefer to continue to spread hatred. Just last month, protesters shouted down calls for tolerance at a Tennessee meeting, instead cheering references to an area mosque being set on fire during its construction.

 

Malaysia charges Borders manager with selling Canadian’s banned book on Islam

News Agencies – June 19, 2012

 

A Borders bookstore manager in Malaysia has been charged with distributing a Canadian writer’s book that was banned as being against Islam. The government in the Muslim-majority country regularly bans books it considers threats to religious stability. “Allah, Liberty and Love” was banned in late May. The website for author Irshad Manji says it is about “how to reconcile faith and freedom in a world seething with repressive dogmas.” Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz could face a two-year prison sentence and fine if convicted of the charge that was filed Tuesday.

Shariah charade: The bogus threat of Islamic law in the U.S.

In the 19th century, Catholicism was regarded by many people in this country as thoroughly incompatible with Americanism. They saw it as a hostile foreign element that would subvert democracy. Today, a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court are Catholic, and they are taken to be as American as Mountain Dew.

We’ve come a long way in religious tolerance. Or maybe not. The belief that Catholics are irredeemably alien and disloyal has given way to the fear that Muslims pose a mortal threat to our way of life.

That distrust is behind a push in state legislatures to forbid courts from applying Islamic Shariah law in any case. Arizona, Tennessee, Louisiana and Oklahoma have passed these bans, though the Oklahoma law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

The chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Peggy Mast, explained, “I want to make sure people understand there’s sometimes a conflict between other laws and the Constitution, and we need to assert our Constitution is still the law of the land.” That’s like asserting that the sun is hot: It will be true regardless.

The change will have about as much effect in Kansas as a ban on indoor co-ed field hockey. It turns out no one has been able to find a case where a Kansas court has actually employed Islamic strictures to reach a verdict.

If, for instance, a Muslim man marries a Muslim woman and then tries to divorce her by saying “I divorce you” three times, in accordance with Shariah, he will find he’s wasted his breath. State marriage law will govern in Kansas just as it has in other states when it conflicts with the dictates of Islam.

French Entrepreneur Pays Dutch Burqa Fines

16 September 2011

In coverage of the burqa ban making its way through the Dutch cabinet, Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries an article about Rachid Nekkaz. The French entrepreneur has established a million-euro fund in France to pay the fines of women wearing burqas, which in the Netherlands will cost 380 Euros. Mr. Nekkaz, a Muslim with an Algerian background, thinks the bans violate European constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms, and announced that his organization Touche Pas a Ma Constitution will also help Dutch women if the ban is introduced.

Oklahoma anti-Shariah amendment heads to appeals court

An amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that bans state judges from considering Islamic law will face its next legal hurdle on Monday (Sept. 12) when a federal appeals court considers its constitutionality.

Just weeks after it was approved by 70 percent of Oklahoma voters last November, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled it unconstitutional, saying “the will of the ‘majority’ has on occasion conflicted with the constitutional rights of individuals.”

While judges routinely consider religious law when deciding family or contract disputes that could not be settled by religious authorities, constitutional law supersedes religious law if they are found to be in conflict.

Opponents say the Oklahoma measure would invalidate civil documents like marital contracts and wills, which some people draft according to religious guidelines.

While many Muslims viewed the Oklahoma referendum as discriminatory and fueled by Islamophobia, they say it has also given them a chance to educate non-Muslims about Shariah and Islam.

“We’ve stepped up our outreach efforts, and I think we’ve been able to change a lot of minds,” said Saad Mohammed, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “If the referendum were held again tomorrow, I think a lot fewer people would support it.”

Full-Face Veil Ban in France Sees 27 Arrests

News Agencies – May 5, 2011

France’s burqa ban has seen 27 offences recorded since it was brought into force in April 2011. The law bans people from covering their faces in public spaces, effectively outlawing the burqa and niqab. The country’s Interior Ministry says on average one or two women a day have been given verbal cautions since the ban began on April 11.
Minister Claude Guéant said, “A lot of people were worried about this. They said the law was inapplicable. In fact, the people stopped have complied and have generally been given a verbal warning.” The most recent fine, added Guéant, went to an American at Charles de Gaulle airport. Having returned from Saudi-Arabia she initially complied with the request to remove the veil, but was fined after putting it back on in the airport. The maximum fine for breaking the law is €150 and or a course on citizenship. 


Muslim Headscarf Headache for Swiss Basketball Player

18 October 2010

Sura Al-Shawk, a Swiss citizen of Iraqi origin, has been unable to participate in any basketball games since her regional league banned her in 2009, due to the headscarf that she wears. Since that time her case has been tossed “like a hot potato” between the regional and national basketball associations, while a civil court has rejected the case. The regional association argues that it has been simply following the rules of the International Basketball Federation (Fiba), which bans religious symbols during official games.

Al-Shawk’s lawyer continues to argue that his client’s “individual rights have been infringed,” and is considering taking the case to the Federal Court.

Michigan’s smoking ban versus hooka business

New state law in Michigan bans hooka, the Arabic water pipe with flavored tobacco, from cafes serving their customers with food. Hooka will be offered only in specialty tobacco stores. The law is to be enforced on May 1, 2010. In Arab-American capital of the United States, the change implies important social impacts.