Tuesday, November 16, 2010

California tution case

Here is a link to a case decision just decided by the California Supreme Court, in which the court over turned a lower court decision disallowing in state tuition to illegal immigrants. The court decided the California law is not preempted by a federal law because the in state tuition is granted to anyone who attends three years of high school in California and not on residency, but the court refused to say it was a constitutional right under the privileges and immunities clause. It's an interesting case and I recommend you read it no matter which side of this debate you are on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reaching Understanding Between Cultures


An interesting piece on suggested steps to bridge the gap between "the West" and "Muslim communities." The final paragraphs provide:

"Improving the overall relationship between Muslim communities around the world and the West is a task that has political, religious, intellectual, social, cultural, and economic components. It requires the best efforts of leaders from all sectors and from both sides of the divide.

Governments must not shy away from a leading role in this process but rather constantly strive to guide and develop mechanisms for integration in their societies. It will take time and require patience, but the objective is vital if we are to learn from, not repeat, the mistakes of the past."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When religion meets the law: Shariah law in Australia


This is an interesting article on a proposal (from 2009) that Australia integrate Sharia law, particularly as it relates to the banking and finance system, into the Australian legal system. The author suggests that Christian and Jewish elements and ideals have found their way into the Australian legal system -- why not make a place for Islam too?

Interesting website on Lawyers and Religion


This newsletter for the National Lawyers Guild, Mass. Chapter, has a few articles on many different religions. I think the last article on Judaism's "mandate to pursue justice" shows that lawyers can get outside the billable hour box and commit to helping those in need.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Check this out: "The Radicals Who Pray in Our Capitol"

I randomly check various online news sites and this is the front headline picture on FoxNews. It is appropriate for our class topic. What do you think?? What if this was a group of Christians praying at the Capitol?? Would it be the same headline?

FoxNews says "An Al Qaeda leader, the head of a designated terror group, a confessed jihadist-in-training — it's a 'Who's Who' of controversial figures linked to radical Islam, and in some cases terror, that a FoxNews.com investigation reveals have attended weekly prayer sessions on Capitol Hill since the 9/11 attacks."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Islam in theory versus practice

In contrast to the links in my previous post, the link below suggests that the oppression of women is not mandated by Islam itself, but is rather created by sociological conditions. The author argues that women and men have the same religious obligations, as provided by the Qu’ran. The author also cites a number of verses suggesting that women have a duty to seek education, much as do men. The Qu’ran condemns female infanticide, which was apparently widely practiced prior to Islam. Finally, in response to the verse directing that males receive twice the inheritance of females, the author suggests that whereas the man must support his family with the inheritance, the woman can do as she pleases.


I also found interesting the following video, discussing the compatibility of feminism and Islam. The woman discussing their compatibility seems to ignore the actual content of Sharia law, and speaks instead about the compatibility of feminism with the secular governments and institutions of certain Islamic countries.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Family Rights


Typing "human rights" and "Islam" into Google seems a great way to find nothing. So instead I asked an Indonesian woman to help me find something worth talking about. She pointed me to this event from 2009 because it was the first time she'd participated in a human rights anything.

As I read this article, a few things immediately jumped off the page. The first being the comment made by the author that simply the ability to have this discussion in Malaysia was a step in the right direction. That such repression of an ideal we Americans take for granted everyday is rampant in places as secular as Malaysia and Indonesia took me aback. I assumed those types of things occurred in Afghanistan, but in southeast Asia?

The second thing that really struck me from the internal discussion were the competing ideas for the concept of basic human rights. That there was a mainstream push for "equality" that does not seem to live up to its billing as well as a push for what I can only classify as a westernized equality of religious ideals rooted in constitutional protections. What happens to these insufficient changes and doctrines with respect to meeting the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights or even organizations like Human Rights Watch? How much progress is sufficient?

Obviously there is a problem in the area of women's rights in the family in many Islamic countries and there are significant strides being made that are not televised. But to what end? Are we expecting Islamic women to have the freedoms of Catholic women in the US or Atheist women in the Netherlands? 70 years ago, few women were in the American workforce. 100 years ago they couldn't vote. A few hundred years ago, the property rights of women varied by state. If we hold the Islamic women's rights movement to a western standard, we'll be standing here waiting quite some time. Hopefully they have a shorter learning curve.

The Qu'ran and Women's Rights

I wanted to see what the Qu’ran itself says about the rights of women, and I came across the following website in the process. Of particular note in the Qu’ran are a number of verses suggesting that women are inherently less valuable than men (see, for example, the verses regarding inheritance and bearing witness). For comparison, however, many Bible verses taken out of context are only marginally more favorable to women (see also below).



Several of the articles that I found on the interaction between Sharia law and women’s rights echoed these ideas.

http://www.ntpi.org/html/womensrights.html (though admittedly, this isn’t the most unbiased of websites).

Colorado tries to define "person"

Here is an election story we did not discuss in class last week about how Colorado had a ballot issue called Amendment 62 which was trying to define a "person" at the moment of conception. The issue was defeated 71% to 29%, but here is an article discussing the pro's and con's of the the proposed amendment.

Pastors who don't Believe in God

This is a story Dan Harris of ABC News did about what happens when pastors stop believing what they preach. This was not necessarily attacking the pastors for losing thier faith, but the story looked at the struggle these men have gone through and the tough decisions they now face when these men are torn between providing an income for thier families and what they now do not believe. These men also face the challenge of possibly losing everyone around them including friends and family, which only adds to complicate the situation. This is a unquie look at an interesting problem.

The French burqa ban

Though this isn’t directly related to the extent that Islam respects human rights, the French burqa ban provides some interesting insights. In particular, it suggests that many European countries (including, as discussed below, the French), perceive that Islam treats women as inferior by forcing them to wear this traditional garb. I have provided a few links below describing the ban and reactions to the ban. One interesting fact: women who wear one in public receive a small fine and are forced to attend citizenship classes, whereas men who force a woman to wear a burqa receive a substantial fine and potential prison time.

Some basic information: http://www.smh.com.au/world/contentious-veil-ban-sails-through-french-senate-20100915-15cqo.html

A Saudi woman’s blog favoring the ban: http://saudiwoman.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/the-french-burqa-ban/

Another Muslim woman’s discussion of the ban: http://news.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/12-burka-the-other-view-620--bi-10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Islam and Human Rights - few links

A great place to start is the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. This was seen (by some) as an alternative to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Of course it does not speak for all of Islam, and it does not speak for everyone in a Member state, but it provides some insight on the issue.

It has a decent wikipedia page for background, but the full text of the Cairo Declaration is here:
It affirms at the outset that it is a Document on Human Rights in Islam that will serve as a guide for Member states in all aspects of life.

Moving on from the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, Ayatollah Khomeinei states that the basic fundamental rights are: the right to live, the right to be free, the right to benefit from justice, the right to welfare.
www.iranchamber.com/history/akhamenei/works/human_right_islam.pdf (see page 7)

Lastly, I'd like to link to this site, which uses a great deal of scripture and Quran references to develop the author's positions on human rights, and it is a good summary.
Of particular note for this week is the Rights of Enemy Combatants, as we will be discussing war.


human rights and islam

Here is an interesting website I found regarding whether Islam is compatible with human rights. This site suggests the two are compatible, listing numerous "rights" that can be supported by the Qur'an. "Are Human Rights Compatible with Islam" www.religiousconsultation.org/hassan2.htm I also found an interesting law review article that suggests basically the same notions and discussed classical Islamic interpretations. The law review article is of course more lengthy than the website but very interesting and I have cited it several times for my GWR paper. This article also discusses Islam and democracy. Citation is 27 Fordham Int'l L.J. 4, it's by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Islam or Islamism?

Here's one charge-and-response to Islam as the source of the recent interrupted bombing attempt.

How frequently is violence today associated with Islam?


Out of the 7 Current Major Conflicts claiming 1,000 or more lives per year, 5 are motivated by Islam as set forth by at least one of the belligerents involved in the conflict. By Comparison, none of those conflicts were motivated by any other religion.

14 out of 20 lesser, ongoing violent conflicts are either directly motivated by Islam or fought by a people or country to which over 85% of its adherents are Muslim.

The link takes you to the current ongoing military conflicts. You'll have to click on the info about each conflict and each country in order to verify the results of my research.

What is "Jihad"?

Here's an old NPR story I heard a little while back about the meaning of "Jihad." I remember being surprised to hear that you can call your efforts to quit smoking or pray more a jihad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Islamic Law and Terrorism

First, it's been said a million times, but terrorism is a tiny, insignificant portion of the billion Muslims on the planet. Regarding terrorism, the Muslim majority has uniformly spoken out against it. In fact, the Council on American-Islaimic Relations (CAIR) put out a 65-page collection of statements by Muslim scholars and organizations around dealing with this.

But, I think the question of what role "Jihad" and violence has within the accepted texts of Islam is a valid one. The article I've chosen to share was written by Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, a professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. (His CV here; he's qualified to talk about this stuff.)

"From Defensive to Offensive Warfare: The Use and Abuse of Jihad in the Muslim World" is an article about how historically, Jihad was always used in defensive terms, but has recently been abused by leaders in the (radical) Muslim community to promote offensive warfare.

I'm sorry in advance; the article is long and takes some academic slogging... but he makes some good points. His ultimately argues that Muslim jurists need to correct the misinterpretation of Islamic law that has been used by terrorists. Here (a few) general points
  • "Jihad" is often used as a term referring to national liberation. (We should be careful about applying the label of "Islam" to what is essentially a political movement.)
  • In response to Osama Bin Laden's fatwas calling for "Jihad" against the West, Sachedina says "This argument for terrorism as a legitimate means of conduct in war is a clear departure from the classical rulings which regard the ethics of war as important part of jihad."

For some lighter reading, here is another decent article basically saying the same thing: "Terrorism Is at Odds With Islamic Tradition," by Khaled Abou El Fadl (a law professor at UCLA). It's a really great article (originally published in the LA Times), and especially interesting since it was written pre-September 11th.

Jihad: an Overview from Sudan to 9/11

Jihad is sanctioned holy war. Jihad was a blurry concept for me prior to 9/11/01. Sure, I’d heard of it and thought of it as an historical underpinning of Islam, but I never understood the reality that jihad is alive and well in our modern culture. One thing to remember is that there are a handful of sects in Islam that all have their interpretations of the Koran and that base their behavior and beliefs on the Koran as well as other "authoritative" writings. Some of these sects are much more violent than others. The dangerous tendency is it lump all Muslims into one category, just as some try to lump all Christians into one category. One's beliefs determine one's behaviors. It is a fact that Muslims carry out many violent acts of terrorism in the name of Allah. Of course, the Muslim might see US military involvement Afghanistan and Iraq as violent acts of terrorism.

Obviously, to state that "Islam is a violent religion" is taking a complex issue and reducing it to a level of simplicity that is naive, especially in the law profession. To get a closer look on the issue I researched many sites and I thought this line of blogs might be the most thought provoking: http://www.danielpipes.org/990/what-is-jihad. I wanted to start with this article because it points out that jihad is not a rare occurrence in modern society. It occurs very frequently. In fact, it seems our society is numb to jihad. We hear about religious attacks almost every day. And, the grisly reality jihad plays in our modern culture cannot be simply wished away until a form of non-violent jihad is proclaimed by moderate Muslims as the only modern option for Islam.

Daniel Pipes, the author of the blog above, expounded on some of the atrocities of Sudan’s state-sponsored jihad. I have many close friends from Sudan and one in particular who barely escaped jihad with his own life. His name is Malual and as a young boy he had to outrun the jihadists who murdered his father in cold blood and openly raped the women and girls at their family home. At only 8 years old, Malual almost died many times on a treacherous journey to move undetected to the Sudanese border. He eventually found refuge in Ethiopia (only to be turned away) and ultimately made it safely to Uganda, completely on foot with no worldly possessions. He said his faith kept him strong. He talks about the hatred he experienced first hand, but it is the love of Christ that allows him to move on in forgiveness. His forgiveness is surprising! Check out this gripping website for more info on the Lost Boys of Sudan: http://www.allianceforthelostboys.com/. Malual’s reality of terror from militant Islam seemed worlds away until it hit America on 9/11.

Merely typing “jihad 9 11” in Google produces some very unique sites. Many sites are extremist and could be the prototype of “Islamophobia” as discussed in class. An example is “History of Jihad” which outlines various arguments why Islam should be stopped and invites professors and scholars to join the debate (perhaps we should join in because what I read did not seem balanced): http://www.historyofjihad.org/. I also came across the Loyalist party which is dedicated to the eradication of Islamic threat around the world. http://www.loyalistparty.com/. I left disgusted by these sites due to the sheer lack of knowledge and the message of hate they spread.

The reality is, 9/11 was planned and carried out by radical Muslims mostly from Saudia Arabia. Here is a website that profiles the terrorists from 9/11. http://www.sptimes.com/2002/09/01/911/plotters.shtml. It’s interesting to think about how the jihadists lived amongst Americans for months prior to 9/11. Did they ever see humanity or want to renege on their commitment to terror?

Even today as I looked at updated election results I ran across this article and almost kept on going: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39969792/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/. A tragedy like this would be headline news before 9/11, rather than just another article about militant uprisings. It appears jihad and terrorism now go hand in hand…which is why it’s no longer a blurry concept for the Western World. If one’s beliefs determine one’s behaviors, then I only hope that those who believe that Islam is not a violent religion would begin to gain control and thrust out of the modern Islamic belief system.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Islam and Violence

In response to the Western perception that Islam is a violent religion/culture, I chose this week to research Islam in order to better understand where that perception comes from and if it is accurate, which I doubted. Here is an article entitled Islam and the Question of Violence which I thought was interesting and addressed my question.