Lion's Den: No to Islamic law

Although the West long ago accommodated Jewish Law, Shari'a must be opposed as public policy due to its encroachment on non-Muslims.

daniel pipes 88 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
daniel pipes 88 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Those of us who argue against Shari'a are sometimes asked why Islamic law poses a problem when modern Western societies long ago accommodated Halacha, Jewish law. The answer is easy: Islam is a missionizing religion, Judaism is not. Islamists aspire to apply Islamic law to everyone, while observant Jews seek only to live by Jewish law themselves. Two very recent examples from the United Kingdom demonstrate the innate imperialism of Islamic law. The first concerns Queens Care Centre, an old-age home in the coal town of Maltby, 40 miles east of Manchester. At present, according to the Daily Telegraph, not one of its 37 staff or 40 residents is Muslim. Although the home's management asserts a respect for its residents' "religious and cultural beliefs," QCC's owner since 1994, Zulfikar Ali Khan, on his own decided this year to switch the home's meat purchases to a halal butcher. His stealthy decision meant pensioners at QCC could no longer eat bacon and eggs, bangers and mash, ham sandwiches, bacon sandwiches, pork pies, bacon butties or sausage rolls. The switch prompted widespread anger. The relative of one resident called it "a disgrace. The old people who are in the home and in their final years deserve better... it's shocking that they should be deprived of the food they like on the whim of this man." Queried about his decision, Khan, lamely replied he ordered halal meat for the sake of (nonexistent) Muslim staff. Then he backtracked: "We will be ordering all types of meat" and went so far as to agree that religious beliefs should not be imposed on others. His retreat did not convince one former QCC staffer, who suspected that Khan "intended to serve only halal meat but has had to think again because of the row." A SECOND example of imposing Shari'a on non-Muslims comes from southeast England. The Avon and Somerset police force, which patrols Bristol and Bath as well as surrounding areas, has just issued hijabs to female officers. The hijabs, distributed at the initiative of two Muslim groups and costing £13 apiece, come complete with the constabulary's emblem. Now, issuing hijabs as part of uniforms in Great Britain is nothing new - the London police led the way in 2001, followed by other police forces, at least one fire brigade and even the furniture chain Ikea. What sets the Avon and Somerset hijabs apart from these others is their being intended not just for pious Muslim female staff but also for non-Muslim staff, in particular for their use upon entering mosques. Rashad Azami of the Bath Islamic Society finds it "highly pleasing" that the constabulary took this step. One of the seven non-Muslim officers to receive a hijab of her very own, Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Roberts, calls it "a very positive addition to the uniform and one which I'm sure will be a welcome item for many of our officers." Dhimmitude is the term Bat Ye'or coined to describe subservience to Shari'a by non-Muslims. Assistant Chief Constable Roberts's enthusiasm for the hijab might be called "advanced dhimmitude." "Hijab bullies" (as David Rusin of Islamist Watch calls them) who coerce non-Muslim females to cover up are just one stripe of Islamist imposing Shari'a ways on the West. Other Islamists focus on impeding the uncensored discussion of such topics as Muhammad and the Koran or terrorist financing; still others work to bring taxpayer-funded schools, hospitals and jails into conformity with Islamic law, not to speak of taxi cabs and municipal swimming pools. Their efforts don't always succeed but in the aggregate, they are rapidly shifting the premises of Western, and especially British, life. Returning to pork: Both Islam and Judaism forbid the flesh of swine, so this prohibition offers a direct and revealing comparison of the two religions. Simply put, Jews accept that non-Jews eat pork but Muslims take offense. That, in brief, explains why Western accommodations to halacha have no relevance when dealing with Shari'a. And why Shari'a as public policy must be opposed. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.