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New York Times hits “disturbing trend” of seeing Islam as “not a religion”

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This outstandingly disingenuous article is written by Asma T. Uddin, a Muslim religious liberty lawyer and scholar, who undoubtedly knows very well that when Bennett, McCarthy, Flynn and others say that Islam is a political ideology, they’re 100% correct. And that’s the real issue here, not whether or not Islam is a religion. If Islam is a political ideology, even if it is a religion as well, then that political ideology has to be evaluated in light of its compatibility, or lack thereof, with the U.S. Constitution and the rights and freedoms it guarantees. Asma Uddin presents her quotes from people saying that Islam is a political ideology as if they were self-evidently false, yet Islam is implemented as a political ideology today in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and elsewhere. The elements of Islamic law that are political, authoritarian, supremacist, and injurious to the rights of women and others are the focus of anti-sharia laws, not the aspects of sharia that involve Muslim religious practices.

Uddin hits me for pointing out that there is a “Muslim effort to impose Islam on the secular marketplace,” and yet there is. The efforts to get accommodation for Muslim women wearing hijabs in the workplace are not the same thing as Christian bakers refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, because the Christian bakery is not part of a larger effort to establish and reinforce the principle that wherever Christian belief and practice conflict with American law, it is American law that must give way. But there is a large-scale and ongoing effort, as longtime readers of the Geller Report well know, to establish and reinforce the principle that wherever Islamic law and American law conflict, American law must give way.

The larger question in this insidious New York Times article is whether the protections afforded by the First Amendment give Muslims — or anyone else — permission to break other American laws. If some odious practice is enshrined in sharia, such as FGM or the killing of apostates, does that mean we have to allow it in America, because of the First Amendment? That question is on the table now in the trial of the FGM doctors in Detroit, who are using religious freedom as a defense. If they win, the door will be open for Muslims to commit any crime at all, as long as they can argue that it is sanctioned by sharia.

“The Latest Attack on Islam: It’s Not a Religion,” by Asma T. Uddin, New York Times, September 26, 2018:

Religious liberty has become a particularly politicized topic in recent years, and recent months were no different. In a long-awaited June decision, the Supreme Court decided in favor of a Christian baker who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a gay couple. In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions introduced a “religious liberty task force” that critics saw as a mere cover for anti-gay discrimination. And Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record has been scoured for evidence of what his appointment to the Supreme Court would mean for future decisions in which Christian beliefs clash with law and policy.

But when it comes to religious liberty for Americans, there’s a disturbing trend that has drawn much less attention. In recent years, state lawmakers, lawyers and influential social commentators have been making the case that Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment.

Why? Because, they argue, Islam is not a religion.

This once seemed like an absurd fringe argument. But it has gained momentum. John Bennett, a Republican state legislator in Oklahoma, said in 2014, “Islam is not even a religion; it is a political system that uses a deity to advance its agenda of global conquest.” In 2015, a former assistant United States attorney, Andrew C. McCarthy, wrote in National Review that Islam “should be understood as conveying a belief system that is not merely, or even primarily, religious.” In 2016, Michael Flynn, who the next year was briefly President Trump’s national security adviser, told an ACT for America conference in Dallas that “Islam is a political ideology” that “hides behind the notion of it being a religion.” In a January 2018 news release, Neal Tapio of South Dakota, a Republican state senator who was planning to run for the United States House of Representatives, questioned whether the First Amendment applies to Muslims….

The fear is not limited to mosque cases. There have been legislative efforts in 43 states to ban the practice of Islamic religious law, or Shariah law; 24 bills were introduced in 2017 alone, according to the Haas Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. This year, Idaho introduced an anti-Shariah bill, bringing the number of measures introduced since 2010 to at least 217. Of those, 20 have been enacted.

The laws’ backers seem to see them as necessary stopgaps to protect against their imagined Muslim takeover of America. When an Idaho state representative, Eric Redman, a Republican, introduced his anti-Shariah bill in January, he said it was needed so that “foreign law” would not “defile our constitutional laws” and to “protect our state and our country.” That’s a similar sentiment to the one expressed by the conservative political activist Pamela Geller, who argued in a 2016 commentary published by Breitbart that Muslim women seeking accommodations to wear a head scarf in the workplace are part of a “Muslim effort to impose Islam on the secular marketplace.”…

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