Attorneys general from 16 states, DC fight travel ban appeal

The top attorneys from 16 states and the District of Columbia say President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban would hurt their higher education and medical institutions and have a chilling effect on tourism.

The attorneys general urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a brief Wednesday to uphold a ruling that blocked the travel ban targeting six predominantly Muslim countries. The attorneys general say the executive order seeks “to fulfill the president’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country.”

 

Rising numbers of Islamic burials pose challenges to German cemeteries

For a long time, German Muslims have predominantly buried their dead abroad: especially the members of the country’s large Turkish community preferred to find their final resting place ‘back home’. Many of the so-called guest workers had envisaged a return to Turkey during their lifetimes but stayed on in Germany for work or for the sake of their families. The return home was delayed until after death.

Yet for some of the children of those who moved to Germany, the ties to their ancestors’ country of origin are increasingly remote. For others, the expense of a costly transfer of the body is simply too high; although this factor is often offset by the high cost of maintaining a grave in Germany. For yet others, warfare in their countries of origin makes a return for burial impossible.

All of this has led to a strong rise in demand for burials in conformity with Islamic rites in Germany. A seemingly innocuous issue, questions and perceptions surrounding these burials are indicative of the complex processes of adaptation Muslim communities undergo in the Western European context – as well as of the challenges this processes involves.

Running afoul of German law

To begin with, a number of Muslim traditions run counter to German legal regulations.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/menschen/bestattung-von-muslimen-teilweise-problematisch-14942392.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 )) In Germany, burial heeds to be carried out by an expressly hired professional undertaker; a notion unknown in other parts of the world. At the same time, there is not just a need for familiarity with the Islamic ritual on the part of the undertaker, but also for specific facilities to wash the dead body.

Muslim tradition encourages burial within 24 hours after death. Yet the slowly grinding mills of the German bureaucracy mean that burials cannot generally be accomplished in less than 48 hours. Medical regulations ate at times also adduced against quicker burial.

When it comes to the actual burial site itself, Muslims’ graves are customarily oriented towards Mecca – a requirement that cannot be fulfilled by most regular German cemeteries since the existing lines of graves are ordered differently.

What is more, in a somewhat macabre twist, an ‘eternal resting place’ in Germany generally means a maximum of 20 or 25 years – after that, graves are reallocated. Maintaining a grave beyond that point may be either impossible or dramatically increase the price of the grave lease. According to Muslim tradition, however, the dead should be buried in untouched earth and should have a genuinely eternal last home.

To name but one more hurdle, many administrations and cemeteries across the country require bodies to be buried in a coffin; a practice forbidden in Quranic tradition.

Pragmatic solutions

In many cases, practical solutions have been found.((https://www.welt.de/regionales/hamburg/article162782576/Wie-sich-deutsche-Friedhoefe-fuer-Muslime-veraendern.html )) Specialised Islamic undertaking businesses have cropped up all over the country, offering their services to a Muslim clientele. Especially larger towns and cities have begun to create Muslim sections in their cemeteries in order to accommodate graves oriented towards Mecca.

Some municipalities have been more lenient on the rules restricting early burial, provided that no medical reasons demand that the burial be postponed. A specifically Muslim cemetery is set to open in the city of Wuppertal, offering graves with an unlimited lease.

Enduring challenges

In some cases, however, such solutions have proved elusive. Three German states – Bavaria, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt – continue to categorically prohibit burials without a coffin while others no longer require the casket.((http://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/menschen/bestattung-von-muslimen-teilweise-problematisch-14942392.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 ))

For some on the political right, upholding the so-called ‘coffin obligation’ (Sargpflicht) has become a matter of principled defence of autochthon values and traditions. (It should perhaps be noted that burials in a coffin were only introduced in Germany in the 18th century, making it a tradition presumably less essential to local identity than one might think.(( http://www.brauchwiki.de/Beerdigungsriten )))

Acts of vandalism

Nor have Muslims’ graves gone unnoticed in largely (post-)Christian neighbourhoods, with some expressing anxieties about the expansion of cemeteries’ Islamic sections. Only a month ago a series of Muslim graves was vandalised and desecrated by swastika signs in the southern town of Aalen.(( http://www.swr.de/swraktuell/bw/aalen-muslimische-graeber-auf-friedhof-geschaendet/-/id=1622/did=19107694/nid=1622/1tyli8u/index.html ))

Yet apparently it is not only the far right that has been bent on destroying graves: in 2011, Islamic religious purists appear to have embarked on a purge in the Muslim section of a cemetery in Bielefeld, smashing angel figurines, terracotta sculptures and other ‘German-style’ adornments.

Since the graves themselves and a number of other Islamic symbols remained untouched, police surmised that the vandals only attacked those elements they deemed offensive to their restrictive understanding of Islam.(( http://www.nw.de/lokal/bielefeld/mitte/mitte/4902487_30-muslimische-Graeber-geschaendet.html ))

The salience of identity politics

The question of death and burial is thus surprisingly revelatory about the nature of Muslim life in Germany. The scope for pragmatic accommodation balancing German legal frameworks and Muslim traditions seem large; yet a fair amount of intransigence from various players in the system also makes this room for manoeuvre more difficult to use. Identity politics in its more toxic forms – emanating from ethnically German xenophobes and Islamist fundamentalists alike – leaves its mark.

More generally, when following this issue in the centre-right section of the mainstream media, one is struck by the whole range of contradictory emotions and expectations that German Muslims are faced with: the implicit reproach of a lack of loyalty is directed at those who choose burial abroad. Yet at the same time, the expansion of Islamic segments on German cemeteries is greeted with a certain amount of suspicion and civilizational angst.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/menschen/bestattung-von-muslimen-teilweise-problematisch-14942392.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 ))

In this manner, all sides manage to project their political ambitions onto Muslims’ final resting places. At times, the resulting debate seems almost as eternal as the peace people from across religious divides are seeking for their dead.

Rennes: Girl attacked by man who wanted to make ‘sacrifice for Ramadan’

Source: http://www.lepoint.fr/faits-divers/rennes-attaquee-par-un-desequilibre-qui-voulait-tuer-pour-le-ramadan-14-06-2016-2046654_2627.php

June 14, 2016

 

A teenage girl was seriously injured in a stabbing attack in Rennes when a man assaulted her on the street. The attacker, who has a history of psychiatric problems, claimed that he needed to make “a sacrifice for Ramadan.”

 

The girl, 19, was stabbed two times in the wrist and once in abdomen, Rennes prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet told journalists, adding that her wounds are not life-threating.

 

The girl’s assailant told a witness that he was a Muslim. He was immediately detained by police at the scene of the crime and later told officers that he was obeying voices in his head that had ordered him to make a sacrifice for Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting that began on June 6.

 

“Voices told him that he had to make a sacrifice on the occasion of Ramadan,” Jacquet said.

 

The attacker, 32, was assessed by a medical specialist immediately after his arrest and sent to a psychiatric hospital. The Rennes prosecutor said that the man had already received special treatment at psychiatric hospitals several times.

 

The assailant later told investigators that he was being treated for schizophrenia and was supposed to receive an injection on Tuesday. An enquiry has been opened into attempted murder.

 

The attack came just a day after another attacker killed a police officer and his partner in the town of Magnanville, 50 kilometers from Paris. The murder was later classified as a terrorist attack. The assailant, who was identified as 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.

 

Police also found a list of other potential targets at the site of the killing near Paris that included the names of public figures, rappers, journalists, and police officers, Molins added.

Religious leaders removed from the board of the National Advisory Council on Ethics

January 27, 2014

 

In nominating the new board of the Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique (CCNE) or National Advisory Council on Ethics in September 2013, President Francois Hollande chose not to include any religious leaders, and replaced them with secular figures.

This Council, created in 1983, is in charge of providing advisory guidelines on bioethical questions raised by medical, scientific and health research. The CCNE may have an advisory purpose but remains nonetheless influential.  Under its influence, the abortion limit went from 10 to 12 weeks in 2000. The Council opposed medically assisted reproduction in 2005, surrogate motherhood in 2010, and assisted suicide by euthanasia in 2013.

The 1983 founding decree states that the interdisciplinary board must be composed of forty members including ‘five belonging to the main philosophical and spiritual families’. Until 2013, two clerics had been chairing: Pastor Louis Schweitzer and Rabbi Michael Azoulay. Islam wasn’t represented by an Imam but by a Muslim thinker, Ali Benmakhlouf. Likewise, Catholicism wasn’t represented by an ecclesial figure but by a professor of theology, Xavier Lacroix. All four have now been replaced with more secular figures.

In theory, Francois Hollande respected the founding decree, which implied that the five religious board members could be secular but not necessarily clerics. However, the President changed a tradition. ‘We want to return to the founding principals of the Council in 1983, and to call on secular figures to represent the religious communities’, said the Elysée.

According to a former president of the CCNE, ‘nominating civilian figures over clerics is a good thing, because they always end up deploying religion in the debates.’ Mohammed Moussaoui, former president of the CFCM (Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman) deplores the eviction of Rabbi Azoulay and the other religious members. To him, it reflects Hollande’s changing vision of state secularism.

 

Source: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/pourquoi-religieux-ont-ete-ecartes-comite-consultatif-national-dethique-7505.html?utm_source=newsletter-karisik-liste&utm_campaign=08cb84806d-Zamanfrance+28_01_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2d6e3a9a0e-08cb84806d-315948881

Proposed medical office would accommodate Muslim-American patients

May 7, 2013

By Ashley Rueff,

 

Orland Park could become home to what’s described as a “first-of-its-kind” outpatient surgical center with a mission of accommodating the religious and cultural beliefs of Muslim patients.

Dr. Naser Rustom has applied for state approval to open an ambulatory surgical treatment center at 10 Orland Square Drive, the site of the former Plunkett Furniture store, according to a state permit application for the project. The medical office, Preferred SurgiCenter LLC, would welcome patients of all faiths and beliefs, but it would employ staff who are familiar with and facilities designed to accommodate the needs of patients who follow Islamic Divine Law.

“We’re going to service every race, every nationality. We’re not going to discriminate against anyone,” said Manager Robyn Fina. “However, in the Orland Park and the southwestern suburbs, there is a huge concentration of Arab-Americans. I think there is a lack of facilities for them to receive the care that they need while taking into consideration their special religious and ethnic background.”

In its permit application, the project is described as a facility “that appeals to the general population as a whole; but, to the trained eye, the ASTC will also be the first-ever surgery center that is designed and operated in a manner that is fully compliant with the Shari ‘a Law.”

The proposed 11,000-square-foot space would offer pain management, gastroenterology and general surgery, according to the project application. The total cost is estimated at about $5.5 million with an anticipated completion date of July 2014, but that will depend on approval from the state.

According to its application documents, the facility would be staffed with employees who understand Muslim-Americans’ needs when approaching health care. The facility would include a prayer room and additional washing facilities to more easily accommodate the prayer schedule and rituals followed by some patients.

As much as possible, she said the facility will also accommodate patients who would prefer to be seen by staff of their own gender and will attempt to offer increased privacy.

Fina said such a facility is expected to improve health behaviors of Muslim-Americans who may have had negative experiences when attempting to follow their religious beliefs while seeking health care in the past.

“There are individuals who feel uncomfortable going into facilities because the staff don’t recognize their special needs,” Fina said. “What we are attempting to do is to address as many of those needs as we can within the confines of state and national laws and health care.”

Imam Nazir Chahin of the Prayer Center of Orland Park said he is unfamiliar with the details of the proposed medical office, but he thinks the concept would be welcomed by the Muslim community of the southwest suburbs.

 

Chicago Tribune: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-07/news/ct-tl-0509-proposed-muslim-accomodating-medical-ce-20130508_1_health-care-patients-application

Atheists in the military need chaplains, too

November 22, 2013

 

This summer the House finally passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, catapulting military issues to the forefront of public debate.

Among these issues was the question of Humanist chaplains in the military. Currently nearly 30 percent of the military identifies as religiously unaffiliated or atheist/agnostic. Yet there is not a single atheist or Humanist chaplain to serve these brave men and women who make incredible sacrifices to protect our freedoms every day.

To understand the importance of chaplains for all service members – including atheists – one must first understand military culture, in which a visit to a psychiatrist can have a devastating impact on the member’s career.

In contrast, despite that the nonreligious outnumber the combined total of Hindus, Muslims and Jews in the armed services, all of these groups have chaplains for their respective religions.

Furthermore, atheist or non-religious family members are also being deprived of a channel of support for their questions and concerns as they deal with issues of separation, life on a base and even the death of a family member.

The military began employing chaplains because they felt that the health of service men and women was not being sufficiently maintained by medical professionals. And the very fact that the Department of Defense has employed chaplains of different faiths indicates that they believe that a chaplain of the same faith as the service member who seeks their help is the ideal situation.

Despite that the amendments failed, real progress was made. In a historical and ground-breaking moment, 150 representatives openly and on the record, voted in favor of supporting nontheists—a strong showing that was previously unheard of.

And in a heartening and spirited show of support, several representatives spoke openly about their support for the nontheistic community—an act that could have meant political suicide not long ago. Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington, stood up for the nontheistic community, saying that nontheists do have strong belief systems, which “they value just as much as Christians value theirs.” He continued, “To say that an atheist or Humanist doesn’t believe anything is just ignorant…The response to the gentleman’s amendment makes me feel all the more the necessity of it.”

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/11/22/atheists-in-the-military-need-chaplains-too/

It’s time to confront this taboo: First cousin marriages in Muslim communities are putting hundreds of children at risk

November 14, 2013

 

The man wept as he told how his beautiful, dark-eyed child died in a hospital cot with medical tubes snaking from his frail body as nurses fought unsuccessfully to save him. Sick with pneumonia, the two-year-old gave up the battle for life.

A heartbroken Mr Rehman told the inquest that he and his wife were unsure whether to have any more children. The coroner expressed deep sympathy before saying that Hamza’s death should serve as a warning to others. ‘This highlights a cultural and religious issue relating to first-cousin marriages and the potential risk to children that some medical experts say can result from such unions.’

This week, leading geneticist Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, warned that ‘inbreeding’ in Islamic communities was threatening the health of generations of children. This is not the first time the distressing issue has been raised. Ann Cryer, the Labour MP for nearby Keighley, has said that cousin marriages are medieval, harm children and are arranged in order to keep wealth and property within families.

One in ten children from these cousin marriages either dies in infancy or develops a serious life-threatening disability. While British Pakistanis account for three per cent of the births in this country, they are responsible for 33 per cent of the 15,000 to 20,000 children born each year with genetic defects. The vast majority of problems are caused by recessive gene disorders, according to London’s Genetic Interest Group, which advises affected families.

As one British-Pakistani put it bluntly on a similar website: ‘A main reason why this corrupt practice is still followed in Britain is because the family wants to keep their property, land, jewelry and money in the family – with many parents believing it is an ‘act of God’ or the ‘will of Allah’ that their children are born disabled.

 

The Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1394119/Its-time-confront-taboo-First-cousin-marriages-Muslim-communities-putting-hundreds-children-risk.html#ixzz2kePe8xKf

Florida Parents Protest Textbook With Chapter About Islam

November 6, 2013

 

Parents upset about a history textbook that they say emphasizes Islam more than other religions protested outside Volusia County school district headquarters.

The parents claim that the book contains too much information about Islam and not enough about Christianity and other religions. There was even a call by organizers asking students to go home and tear the section on Islam out of their books.

Because tearing up (or burning?) books is always the proper response to such things.

The county district was forced to postpone a Tuesday meeting “in the interest of public safety.”

“This group is holding a protest and rally to oppose the teaching of the historical and basic pillars of Islam to students in Volusia County,” said Hassan Shibly, Florida executive director of CAIR, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

“It is displaying an alarming level of intolerance and brazen disregard of minority religions… We find their actions un-American and against every core principal that makes this country so great.”

The textbook in question, Prentice Hall World History, protesters claim, devotes an entire chapter to Islam and teaches children about how it came to be and about the building of the Muslim empire, while Christianity and Judaism are referenced only in small paragraphs here and there.

And we can see the problem here: Where in America will the children learn about Christianity?

Of course, the protesters claim that this is in no way about getting all worked up and encouraging kids to vandalize a schoolbook because they think Islam is un-American and evil.

It’s about religious equality!

You know, with all the crazy things going down in Florida, such as a law that makes it perfectly legal for a person to shoot and kill another person because he or she feels threatened, and with people with serious medical conditions that can be alleviated only with medical marijuana having their homes raided by cops like they’re the leader of a drug cartel, it’s good to know there are citizens out there tackling the truly important issues.

 

Broward-Palm Beach New Times: http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2013/11/florida_parents_protest_textbo.php

 

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

November 3, 2013

 

Doctors were asked to torture detainees for intelligence gathering, and unethical practices continue, review concludes Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services “designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees”.

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra “first do no harm” did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.

The CIA’s office of medical services played a critical role in advising the justice department that “enhanced interrogation” methods, such as extended sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which are recognised as forms of torture, were medically acceptable. CIA medical personnel were present when waterboarding was taking place, the taskforce says.

Although the DoD has taken steps to address concerns over practices at Guantánamo Bay in recent years, and the CIA has said it no longer has suspects in detention, the taskforce says that these “changed roles for health professionals and anaemic ethical standards” remain.

“The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve,” said Dr Gerald Thomson, professor of medicine emeritus at Columbia University and member of the taskforce.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/cia-doctors-torture-suspected-terrorists-9-11

Military jury sentences Army psychiatrist to death for 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas — A military jury on Wednesday sentenced Maj. Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, handing the Army psychiatrist the ultimate punishment after a trial in which he seemed to be courting martyrdom by making almost no effort to defend himself.

 

The 13-member panel spent less than two hours deliberating privately, and the president — or forewoman– announced the finding in open court with a clear voice, that Hasan “be put to death.”

The rare military death sentence came nearly four years after the attack that stunned even an Army hardened by more than a decade of constant war. Hasan walked into a medical building where soldiers were getting medical checkups, shouted “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for “God is great!” — and opened fire with a laser-sighted handgun. Thirteen people were killed and 32 others were wounded.

 

The convicted killer said nothing as the decision was announced, and had appeared emotionless earlier in the morning when dramatic closing arguments in the sentencing phase were held without his participation.

 

The judge quickly accepted the verdict; the matter now goes to the “convening authority” — an Army general who will review the four-week court-martial proceedings and make the binding decision whether to accept the guilty verdict and capital sentence.

 

It is a process that could take a few more months, and only then will the verdicts become official.

The convening authority has the option of reducing the sentence to life in prison without parole. The defendant will then have the right to appeal through the military justice system.

 

Appeals could take years

 

If swift justice is the goal, history may not be on Hasan’s or the government’s side. The last military execution was in 1961, and only five servicemen face lethal injection. Three are African-American, two are white.

 

If Nidal Hasan plans to welcome a death sentence as a pathway to martyrdom, the rules of military justice won’t let him go down without a fight — whether he likes it or not.  But before an execution date is set, Hasan faces years, if not decades, of appeals. And this time, he won’t be allowed to represent himself.

The mandatory appellate process could take years, even if Hasan voluntarily foregoes many of the procedural steps available to any defense.

 

John Galligan, a retired Army colonel who was Hasan’s former lead civilian counsel, said he doesn’t believe Hasan is seeking execution, as his appointed standby lawyers at trial have suggested. He has met with Hasan frequently during the trial and said several civilian attorneys — including anti-death penalty activists — have offered to take on his appeal. Galligan estimates the military has already spent more than $6 million on Hasan’s trial. He said that will triple during appeals, which he believes will take longer than Hasan’s remaining life expectancy.