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Accommodating Islam?

Accommodating Islam?

Religious accommodation never meant that everyone must conform to the dictates of these religions. Until now.


At first, the reports were infrequent. They seemed remote, like border clashes in some distant land. Then the reports became more insistent. Today, dedicated Web sites track the new phenomenon on a daily basis: the accommodation of Islam at the expense of the dominant culture and religion.

Consider some recent examples:

  • A British flight attendant was fired for refusing to wear a black robe, and walk behind her male colleagues, on flights to and from Saudi Arabia;
  • Yale University published a book on the notorious "Danish cartoons" of Mohammed (including the one shown above), but Yale censored the book and removed the cartoons, citing possible violence;
  • British banks discontinued their tradition of giving out toy pigs to young children; they also stopped using drawings of pigs (such as Piglet from Winnie-the-Pooh) in their advertising.

Now there's nothing new about making room for people to worship in whatever way they see fit. America was founded for exactly that reason. And by the 1960s, other Western democracies embraced the idea that people should be free to observe their own faith.

In government, in the workplace, even in the prisons, everyone -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others -- needed breathing room to worship as they chose. American law called this idea "religious accommodation."

Back then, accommodation meant removing obstacles to religious expression. Jews needed to be in synagogue on the Jewish holidays without fear of losing their jobs or being penalized by their schoolteachers. Muslims needed time off for their daily prayers. In prisons, both needed access to food that satisfied their respective dietary laws. And so on.

But it was never suggested that religious accommodation meant the whole country must conform to the dictates of these religions. Until now, that is.

Today, in many parts of Europe, we see Muslims demanding that the majority culture change – on a wide range of issues -- to conform to Islamic law. This remarkably aggressive stance has gone from unthinkable to non-negotiable in less than a generation.

Suppose Jews were to demand that cheeseburgers be banned in all restaurants across America.

The issue here isn't respecting other religions, or helping minority groups make their way in the larger society, or being flexible to accommodate religious diversity. No, the issue here is remaking society to conform to the religious law of one particular faith. This is something new – and very troubling.

To see what it really means, let's imagine would happen if Jews made similar demands in the United States.

Take food. The Torah forbids Jews to mix meat and milk, or to derive any benefit from such mixtures. Suppose Jews were to demand that cheeseburgers be banned in all restaurants across America, because they offend the Torah?

Now take business and commerce. The Torah forbids Jews to charge interest on loans made to other Jews. (Halacha and Sharia law actually have much in common here.) Suppose American Jews were to insist that all loans made in America should now be interest-free in order to comply with the Torah?

These two simple examples show what's wrong with the whole idea. The Torah speaks primarily to Jews, and it would be outrageous if Jews suddenly expected all Americans -- Protestants, Baptists, Catholics, Unitarians, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, atheists, etc. -- to keep the Torah.

But the equivalent of that outrageous demand is now being made in Europe and America on a regular basis. It isn't enough for non-Muslims simply to respect their fellow citizens who follow the way of Islam. No, non-Muslims are now expected to observe many of the precepts of Islamic law.

Like most great waves of historical change, this one began by lapping gently around our ankles. No one is demanding that Germany outlaw all pork products -- yet. No one expects the non-Muslim women in Paris to cover their heads -- yet.

But it would be a mistake to think that all is well because those extreme demands aren't being made today. Recall that no one threatened to blow up British banks if they gave another toy pig to a child. No one threatened to attack Yale if it reprinted those cartoons.

No such threats were necessary, you see. Western culture is yielding quite willingly without the need for threats. The mere specter of someone claiming "religious intolerance" or "anti-Muslim bias" is enough to encourage a civilized and quiet surrender.

Every little surrender sets the stage for the next -- and larger -- confrontation.

When the basic principle is unacceptable, every little surrender just sets the stage for the next -- and larger -- confrontation. If we agree today that there's actually something wrong with a British bank distributing toy pigs, what will we say when the demand is made to ban the sale of all pork products? If we agree today that a non-Muslim stewardess must dress and behave like a Muslim woman, how can we defend the right of non-Muslim women in Paris to leave their heads uncovered?

The West desperately needs to re-think what it means to be accommodating. And the hour is growing late.

This article is dedicated in loving memory of the author's father, Reuven ben Ya'akov z''l.

September 29, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 45

(44) Mr. Cohen, August 10, 2016 3:30 AM

Two Quick Quotes from Leading Arabs and Muslims:

Two Quick Quotes from Leading Arabs and Muslims:

In December 2015, the New York Times described Imam Yasir Qadhi as “one of the most influential clerics in American Islam”. Imam Yasir Qadhi said:

“If filthy Jews and Christians do not convert to Islam, [then] their life and property are halal [free for the taking] for the Muslims.”

In June 2016, Sultan Abu Alainin [a member of the Palestinian Authority Central Committee, and a top advisor to Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas] said:

“Whenever you see an Israeli, slit their throat.”

PLEASE help SUE the terrorists in court:

www dot IsraelLawCenter dot org

www dot TheLawFareProject dot org


(43) Beverly Kurtin, September 3, 2014 8:14 AM

I prefer to live in THIS CENTURY

I refuse to have any deaelings with Islam and its followers.Why shoud any jew or American have dealaings with a political organization that has blood on its hands? If you are the wrong KIND of Muslim, you and your family is going to be killed. Islamists have brought nothing ot the world except hijackings, mass murders, and has on their Charter the fact that they wantto kill every man, woman, and chid to deateh for simply having the wrong thoughts and the wrong faith? I laugh at those who think that somehow the aiab nations will suddendly drop their demands that the entire world become what they are --impovreshed and living in the 7th century. We MUST STOP cowtowing to them in any shape or manner. They have murded, in cold blood, two American journalists because President Obama is not going to stop bombing them. We are working with people who PROUDLY murder their own children in so-clled honor killings, there are animals in the world that eat their own; I see no difference between a wild beast and a member of Islam. ISLAM does not mean Peace. It means SUBMISSION Submissison to what? To ISLAM. They wish to take over the entire world and just like the bad old days of the crusades you will have a choice: Convert or die. Or you can take second class citizenship and have to pay fines. ISLAM DISGUSTS ME AS NO OTHER RELIGION COULD Islam, by definition, is a cult. A cult id a religion from which you cannot leave; if you DO leave, you are marked for death. I do not trust Muslims, period. The term for people like me who is getting more and more information about Islam is Islmophobiea. No, it is just the truth.

(42) Anonymous, February 10, 2011 2:52 AM

I have just recently started researching this issue with Islam and the contradiction with worldly ethics. It is completely shocking to me to hear that their prophet is a man that killed and raped, and if that is not enough the story is shared in pride. I do not understand how the western world does not see all these accommodations as a slippery slope to conformity. The fact that the religion preaches killing those who do not share the same faith is simply quite frightening. Although I do not have a right to judge the faith because my knowledge on the history is limited to a few brief articles, i still cannot comprehend how this message can be taken in a positive way. How has the world let the message of violence and murder be apart of a religion that is quite clearly populating all parts of the earth.

(41) Bette, December 26, 2010 4:03 PM

So well written, as well as informative and educational. I think that the world as a whole is in a 'deep spiritual' sleep, and perhaps think that things will go on forever as they are. There is a quote in America: "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything." :)

(40) Beverly Kurtin, August 17, 2010 11:15 PM

If Johnny jumped off a bridge...

Yes. The Muslims MUST be stopped in their demands and threats, but not ALL of them are terrorist or trouble makers. When it comes to forcing me to adopt their law, hell no. The United States of America is different from all other countries. Calling something that is not, however, is plain bigotry and stupidity holding hands. Only once have I had a problem with Muslims. A garage I had gone into because I had a flat tire refused to help me because I was a woman driver. They helped other cars but wouldn't help me. When I moved the car to smash their windows, they asked what I was about to do. I told them that they were in America and that I was about to destroy their station. They INSTANTLY took care of my flat. That is the language a handful of them understand. But most Muslims I know are just like you and I; working hard to support ourselves and our families. Once they realize you're not afraid of them and are friendly, they reciprocate. I find it cowardly that some other countries are kowtowing to them and not even policing some areas in France and England. I'm not afraid of them, I expect them to behave like Americans and most of the time they do. Please stop calling the community center a mosque; not only is it stupid to do so but it shows ignorance on your part.

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