As the Muslim community in the United States grows, an increasingly active Islamist lobby has submitted numerous white papers and amicus briefs to legislators and courts arguing for the religious right of Muslims to apply Shari‘a law, particularly in relation to family law disputes. This looming jurisprudential conflict is significant for it raises issues about the rights of community members to marry outside the community, forced marriages, and the minimum age of brides, and whether wives and daughters may enjoy equal inheritance. In cases of non-family law, it raises the question about whether the testimony of women will be considered on par with that of men.Although American history is replete with such separate religious enclaves from the Oneidans to the Shakers, this is still a very disturbing trend, particularly regarding the issues Houck raises on family issues. I can just picture the issue of polygamy coupling those groups who already support polygamy, with gays and their supporters arguing for respect for people's private arrangements, plus these Islamic groups fueled by Saudi money. I expect to see such cases moving their way through the courts.
No previous enclave in U.S. history has ever been so vigorously protected by agents of group identity politics or so adamantly defended by legal watchdogs; nor has any previous religious enclave possessed the potency of more than one billion believers around the world. Islamic-only communities may also benefit from the largess provided by billions of petrol dollars to finance growth. The track record of Saudi and other wealthy Persian Gulf donations and charitable efforts are worrisome. There is a direct correlation between Saudi money received and the spread of intolerant practices.
Monday, April 10, 2006
David Kennedy Houck has a disturbing article in Middle East Quarterly about the efforts of Islamic groups to establish separate legal enclaves within the United States.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:30 AM