It doesn’t happen often, but this article appears to be on the money. I couldn’t care less whether the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, swears in on the Bible, the Quran, or on a copy of Penthouse Forum for that matter. But I do care about theocracy, whether in Christian form or Muslim form, and it appears that Ellison has close ties to an openly theocratic Muslim group. Less than 2 weeks after being elected, Ellison spoke at a conference of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF).
The conference was sponsored by American Open University, a Muslim distance learning college that apparently is responsible for training most of the NAIF members. AOU was founded by Jaafar Sheikh Idris, who preaches a very theocratic version of Islam. Most disturbingly, he explicitly advocates theocracy for the United States, arguing that no Muslim could possibly support a secular society that separates church from state. Many of the lecturers at AOP are members of the NAIF.
The WND article quotes Idris on a number of issues. I went and looked at his webpage and those quotes are not out of context or distorted. This guy is a real theocrat with very, very dangerous views. An example:
“No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism – which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word ‘religion’ does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviors and details of living,” Idris says. “Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because it requires us to abandon [Allah’s] decree for that of a man.”
“There is a basic difference between Islam and this form of democracy,” he says. “The basic difference is that in Islam it is [Allah’s] law as expressed in the Quran and the Sunna that is the supreme law within the limits of which people have the right to legislate.
“No one can be a Muslim who makes or freely accepts or believes that anyone has the right to make or accept legislation that is contrary to that divine law,” Idris adds. “Examples of such violations include the legalization of alcoholic drinks, gambling, homosexuality, usury or interest, and even adoption.”
Should this be a concern? Absolutely. it’s every bit as much a concern as the many Christians in Congress with ties to Christian Reconstructionist groups. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Ellison is a theocrat; I know people, like Herb Titus, who speak to reconstructionist groups but are not reconstructionists or genuine theocrats themselves. But it certainly raises a red flag for me. In fact, it raises a larger issue for me, one I’m rather unsettled about.
The United States is large enough that what Muslim immigration we have does not make a significant difference in our culture. It’s also true, at least in my experience, that a large percentage of the Muslims who emigrate to the US are very well educated, often in Western schools and often trained in scientific fields in particular, and thus they tend to have a largely Western outlook. That is, a sizable portion of them, probably a majority, are not of the fundamentalist variety and generally support the notion of a secular state, religious freedom, and so forth.
Even the religious right’s agenda in America pales in comparison to the theocratic vision of radical Muslims like Idris. Yet the Muslim American community has generally not aligned themselves even with that comparatively mild anti-gay agenda (compared to those who would stone them to death, that is) or supported it in any significant numbers. But in Europe, where national populations are smaller and Muslim immigration much higher and generally less well educated, such immigration is causing them enormous problems.
Some prominent voices in Europe, like Oriana Fallaci, have openly called for limits on such immigration, on the grounds that allowing massive numbers of people who reject the basic tenets of a free secular state inevitably undermines a country’s culture in very specific ways. And frankly, I’m beginning to think they’re right. You need look no further than the Netherlands, one of the world’s most open and tolerant nations, where radical Muslim immigrants have been attacking gays in Amsterdam and issuing death threats against those who speak out against their barbarism (and of course, murdered Theo Van Gogh after he made a documentary film about the mistreatment of women in Islam).
As a general rule, I am in favor of open (legal) immigration. Even more strongly, I am opposed to applying religious or ideological litmus tests to determine who can and can’t come into a country. But I think there is an argument to be made for restricting immigration for those who do not accept the most basic premises of this country (or European countries). I don’t know how it can be done fairly or objectively, and I’m not entirely comfortable even suggesting it.
But can a free society remain free in the long term if a larger and larger percentage of its population rejects the very notion of freedom? I don’t think it can. I’m certainly not in favor of censoring those ideas when advocated in this country; like all bad ideas, the best way to combat them is with ideological confrontation, with more speech. But I know this: radical Islam is the most dangerous and reactionary movement in the world today. It is the very definition of barbarism. And a civilized society cannot survive long if it allows barbarians inside where they can undermine that society.
How to prevent it without preventing all Muslims from coming in? I don’t know. And I cannot support such a policy. I know too many good and decent Muslims who are as appalled by this barbarism as I am, who support the ideals of freedom and equality as strongly as I do. I cannot let them be sacrificed for the sins of others who put the same label on their beliefs. I’m certainly open to suggestions, including the suggestion that maybe my concerns here are entirely unfounded. Frankly, I hope they are. But what’s going on in Europe and elsewhere suggests that there’s a real problem here and it doesn’t have an easy solution.