Religious Intolerance Returns to Europe
Poland, 1939: Jewish men are forced to shave one another while their neighbors look on with delight
France recently denied citizenship to a woman on grounds that she was too orthodox in her Muslim faith:
"I would never have imagined that they would turn me down because of what I choose to wear," Silmi said, her hazel eyes looking out of the narrow slit in her niqab, an Islamic facial veil that is among three flowing layers of turquoise, blue and black that cover her body from head to toe. But last month, France's highest administrative court upheld a decision to deny Faiza Silmi, 32, citizenship on the ground that her "radical" practice of Islam was incompatible with French values like equality of the sexes.There's no nice way to say this: Fadela Amara is an idiot. You can't liberate women by restricting their choices. And if the French government were really interested in protecting women from patriarchy, why do they single out conservative Muslims? Why don't they also bar conservative Catholics from obtaining citizenship? The church automatically excommunicates any woman who attempts to join the priesthood, which is the only path toward a position in which a person would lead men.
The ruling has received almost unequivocal support across the political spectrum, including among many Muslims. Fadela Amara, the French minister for urban affairs, called Silmi's niqab "a prison" and a "straitjacket."
"It is not a religious insignia but the insignia of a totalitarian political project that promotes inequality between the sexes and is totally lacking in democracy," said Amara, herself a practicing Muslim of Algerian descent.
Obviously, Silmi's case is not symptomatic of a growing respect for women, but of a growing religious intolerance in Europe:
Supporters of a Swiss referendum collected enough signatures two weeks ago to call for a constitutional ban on minarets, the towers used to call worshipers to prayer. No date has been set for the vote.I have to wonder why "moderate" Muslims are so willing to go along with attacks on the Muslim faith. Do they imagine that the bigots will stop, once they've driven out or otherwise eliminated the Muslim fundamentalists? Religious intolerance doesn't work like that. The last time a wave of religious intolerance washed over Europe, it wasn't just he Orthodox Jews who were victimized.
Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni announced this month that he wants to close a Milan mosque because crowds attending Friday prayers spill onto the street and irritate neighbors. In April, the city of Bologna scrapped plans for a new mosque, saying Muslim leaders failed to meet certain requirements, including making public its source of funding.
In Austria, the southern province of Carinthia passed a law in February that effectively bans the construction of mosques by requiring them to fit within the overall look and harmony of villages and towns.
Far-right leaders from 15 European cities met in Antwerp, Belgium, in January and called for a ban on new mosques and a halt to "the Islamization" of European cities. The group said mosques act as catalysts for taking over neighborhoods and imposing Islamic ways of life on Europeans.
Of course, religious intolerance isn't limited to Europe. In an astounding ruling, a Pakistani court refused to return kidnapped Christian girls to their parents, saying that the children had converted to Islam:
District judge Mian Muhammad Naeem, of the section of Muzaffargarh, has ruled that the two Christian sisters "have converted in a legitimate manner to Islam", and for this reason they cannot be "restored to their family of origin". Setting aside the request from their father to regain custody of his daughters, the judge also admitted the "validity" of the marriage of the girls to two Muslims.I'm pretty sure that if Christians had kidnapped Muslim girls, the judge would have reached a different verdict.
Saba Younas, aged 13, and her sister Anila, aged 10, were kidnapped last June 26 in the village of Chowk Munda, where they had gone to visit their uncle. The girls' uncle says that the Muslims involved in the kidnapping are acting as a "gang", recruiting the girls in order to "make them work in a bordello".
Pope Benedict XVI, who has done what he can to stoke the fires of hatred against Muslims, announced that he's deeply sorry about the church's child molestation scandal. But he still hasn't gotten around to apologizing for taking an active role in protecting the child molesters and covering up their crimes.
(cross posted at appletree)