Paving the Way for a Muslim Parallel Society A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists. She didn’t know it, nor did she even expect it. She had good intentions. Perhaps it was a mistake. In fact, it was most certainly a mistake. The best thing to do would be to wipe the slate clean. Last week, in the middle of the storm, Christa Datz-Winter, a judge on Frankfurt’s family court, was speechless. But Bernhard Olp, a spokesman for the city’s municipal court, was quick to jump in. Olp reported that the judge had been under emotional stress stemming from a murder that had been committed in her office 10 years ago, and that she was now planning to take a break to recuperate. He also mentioned that she was “outraged” — not about herself or her scandalous ruling, but over the reactions the case has triggered.
A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists. She didn’t know it, nor did she even expect it. She had good intentions. Perhaps it was a mistake. In fact, it was most certainly a mistake. The best thing to do would be to wipe the slate clean. Last week, in the middle of the storm, Christa Datz-Winter, a judge on Frankfurt’s family court, was speechless. But Bernhard Olp, a spokesman for the city’s municipal court, was quick to jump in. Olp reported that the judge had been under emotional stress stemming from a murder that had been committed in her office 10 years ago, and that she was now planning to take a break to recuperate. He also mentioned that she was “outraged” — not about herself or her scandalous ruling, but over the reactions the case has triggered. The reactions were so fierce that one could have been forgiven for mistakenly thinking that Germany’s Muslims had won the headscarf dispute and the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons in a single day and, in one fell swoop, had taken a substantial bite out of the legal foundations of Western civilization.
A Muslim woman whose small-claims court case was dismissed after she refused to remove her veil sued the judge Wednesday, saying her religious and civil rights were violated. Ginnnah Muhammad, 42, of Detroit, says in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit that Judge Paul Paruk’s request to remove her veil – and his decision to dismiss her case when she didn’t – was unconstitutional based on her First Amendment right to practice her religion. The claim against Paruk also cites a federal civil rights law in alleging that Muhammad was denied access to the courts because of her religion. Muhammad wore a niqab – a scarf and veil that covers her head and face, leaving only the eyes visible – during the October hearing in Hamtramck, a city surrounded by Detroit. She was contesting a $2,750 charge from a rental-car company to repair a vehicle that she said thieves had broken into. Paruk told her he needed to see her face to judge her truthfulness and gave her a choice: take off the veil while testifying or have the case dismissed. She kept it on. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co. then filed a claim seeking a judgment of $2,000 against Muhammad. A hearing is set for April 18 before Paruk in Hamtramck’s district court. Muhammad’s attorney, Nabih Ayad, said that she unsuccessfully sought to get a different judge to hear the case and that she and her client plan to ask him to remove himself from the case. A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for Paruk. Metropolitan Detroit has one of the country’s largest Muslim and Arab populations. The lawsuit says that because of that, others have either come before Paruk or will come before him. “Thus, future harm is imminent.” “You should be able to be who you are as long as you’re not a criminal or hurting other people,” said Muhammad, who converted to Islam when she was 10 and runs an aromatherapy business in suburban Detroit. “I want to make sure everyone across the board is able to practice their religion freely in a democratic society.” Muhammad said she would have removed her veil before a female judge. “The way I believe in Islam is that a woman is very virtuous,” she said. “We should be covered when we come out. This protects me as well as other people. I believe that God wants me that way.” Michigan law has no rules on how judges should handle religious attire of people in court.
Politicians and Muslim leaders denounced a German judge for citing the Quran in her rejection of a Muslim woman’s request for a quick divorce on grounds she was abused by her husband. Judge Christa Datz-Winter said in a recommendation earlier this year that both partners came from a “Moroccan cultural environment in which it is not uncommon for a man to exert a right of corporal punishment over his wife,” according to the court. The woman is a German of Moroccan descent married to a Moroccan citizen. The judge argued that her case was not one of exceptional hardship in which fast-track divorce proceedings would be justified. When the woman protested, Datz-Winter cited a passage from the Quran that reads in part, “men are in charge of women.” The judge was removed from the case on Wednesday and the Frankfurt administrative court said it was considering disciplinary action. Court vice president Bernhard Olp said Thursday the judge “regrets that the impression arose that she approves of violence in marriage.” While the Quranic verse cited does say that husbands are allowed to beat their wives if they are disobedient, Germany’s Institute for Islamic Questions noted that such an interpretation was no longer standard. “Of course not all Muslims use violence against their wives,” the group said in a statement. Olp said the judge thought she was protecting the woman, who had been granted a restraining order against her husband. She had seen no reason to grant help in paying court costs for a fast-track divorce. Olp said her reasoning was unacceptable, but insisted it was a “one-time event” that would not have an effect on other cases, or on the final ruling in the divorce proceedings. The latest uproar comes amid an ongoing debate in Germany about integrating its more than 3 million Muslims, most of them from Turkey. A decision last year to cancel an opera featuring the severed heads of the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures out of security concerns caused a furor and was later retracted. Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries condemned the judge’s decision. “Every so often, there are individual rulings that seem completely incomprehensible,” she said. Lawmakers from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats said traditional Islamic law, or Sharia, had no place in Germany. “The legal and moral concepts of Sharia have nothing to do with German jurisprudence,” Wolfgang Bosbach, a lawmaker with the Christian Democrats, told N24 television. “One thing must be clear: In Germany, only German law applies. Period.” Ronald Pofalla, the party’s general secretary, told Bild: “When the Quran is put above the German constitution, I can only say: Good night, Germany.” Representatives of Germany’s Muslim population were also critical of the ruling. “Violence and abuse of people – whether against men or women – are, of course, naturally reasons to warrant a divorce in Islam as well,” the country’s Central Council of Muslims said in a statement. The mass-circulation Bild daily asked in a front-page article: “Where are we living?” The left-leaning Tageszeitung headlined its Thursday edition: “In the name of the people: Beating allowed.”
By Veit Medick and Anna Reimann He beat her and threatened her with murder. But because husband and wife were both from Morocco, a German divorce court judge saw no cause for alarm. It’s a religion thing, she argued. The case seems simply too strange to be true. A 26-year-old mother of two wanted to free herself from what had become a miserable and abusive marriage. The police had even been called to their apartment to separate the two — both of Moroccan origin — after her husband got violent in May 2006. The husband was forced to move out, but the terror continued: Even after they separated, the spurned husband threatened to kill his wife. A quick divorce seemed to be the only solution — the 26-year-old was unwilling to wait the year between separation and divorce mandated by German law. She hoped that as soon as they were no longer married, her husband would leave her alone. Her lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk agreed and she filed for immediate divorce with a Frankfurt court last October. They both felt that the domestic violence and death threats easily fulfilled the “hardship” criteria necessary for such an accelerated split. In January, though, a letter arrived from the judge adjudicating the case (…)
American Muslims attending a major religious conference in Toronto on Friday are concerned they’ll be subjected to extraordinary searches and delays by U.S. border guards when they return home. Their concern followed a ruling by a New York district judge on Thursday that such searches did not violate the U.S. constitution. Judge William Skretny wrote that Customs and Border Protection “had reason to believe that these conferences would serve as meeting points for terrorists to exchange ideas and documents, co-ordinate operations, and raise funds intended for terrorist activities.” “I believe in religious freedom, and I will not allow the federal government to intimidate me out of that belief,” he said. Last year, several dozen Muslims men and women were searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for up to six hours before being allowed to cross back into the U.S. after a conference held in Toronto. The New York Civil Liberties Association took up their case. The association sought an injunction to prevent similar inspections following this year’s conference. It also launched a lawsuit demanding the state destroy any personal information retrieved through past searches. The judge did not grant the injunction, and threw out the lawsuit.
Controversy in Italy over a local judge’s decision to order the removal of school crucifixes has died down, following intervention by higher authorities to guarantee their presence. Despite initial appearances, the matter was not a question of church-state conflict. Neither was it a simple Christian-Islam clash.
An Italian judge suspended Friday, October 31, an earlier verdict on removing crucifixes from a kindergarten, after it triggered uproar across the secular but largely Catholic country.