Archive for the ‘Front Page Mag (Patriot)’ Category

First in Europe and now in the United States, Muslim groups have petitioned to establish enclaves in which they can uphold and enforce greater compliance to Islamic law. While the U.S. Constitution enshrines the right to religious freedom and the prohibition against a state religion, when it comes to the rights of religious enclaves to impose communal rules, the dividing line is more nebulous. Can U.S. enclaves, homeowner associations, and other groups enforce Islamic law?

Such questions are no longer theoretical. While Muslim organizations first established enclaves in Europe,[1] the trend is now crossing the Atlantic. Some Islamist community leaders in the United States are challenging the principles of assimilation and equality once central to the civil rights movement, seeking instead to live according to a separate but equal philosophy. The Gwynnoaks Muslim Residential Development group, for example, has established an informal enclave in Baltimore because, according to John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative, a Baltimore-based Muslim advocacy group, “there was no community in the U.S. that showed the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure.”[2]

Baltimore is not alone. In August 2004, a local planning commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, granted The Islamic Center for Human Excellence authorization to build an internal Islamic enclave to include a mosque, a school, and twenty-two homes.[3] While the imam, Aquil Hamidullah, says his goal is to create “a clean community, free of alcohol, drugs, and free of gangs,”[4] the implications for U.S. jurisprudence of this and other internal enclaves are greater: while the Little Rock enclave might prevent the sale of alcohol, can it punish possession and in what manner? Can it force all women, be they residents or visitors, to don Islamic hijab (headscarf)? Such enclaves raise the fundamental questions of when, how, and to what extent religious practice may supersede the U.S. Constitution.

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Islamist enmity for infidels, regularly manifested in the jihad, is by now moderately well known. Lesser known, however, but of equal concern, is the mandate for Muslims to be loyal to fellow Muslims and Islam — a loyalty that all too often translates into disloyalty to all things non-Muslim, including the American people and their government.

This dichotomy of loyalty to Muslims and enmity for infidels — which, incidentally, corresponds well with Islamic law’s division of the world into the abode of war (deserving of enmity) and the abode of Islam (deserving of loyalty) — is founded on a Muslim doctrine called wala’ wa bara’ (best translated as “loyalty and enmity”). I first encountered this doctrine while translating various Arabic documents for The Al Qaeda Reader. In fact, the longest and arguably most revealing document I included in that volume is titled “Loyalty and Enmity” (pgs.63-115), compiled by Aymen Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s number two.

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It seems almost unthinkable, but Islamist groups are, as we speak, hard at work creating Muslim states-within-states in the U.S. Indeed, this process has been unfolding for a long time across the Western world, through the creation of isolated Muslim enclaves in both rural and urban areas, as well as through the designation of “no-go zones” where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there, essentially leaving them to function as autonomous regions.

Daniel Pipes has tracked numerous examples since 2004 of Muslim groups working to create communities based solely on Islam and run by Shari’a law. As discussed by David Kennedy Houck in 2006, “Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework.”

For example, one such community, Gwynn Oak, has been created in Baltimore, Maryland, consisting of Muslim immigrants and African-American converts. The project is led by John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative. Cason explained that the neighborhood is a response to the problem that “Muslim communities are ruled by Western societal tenets, many of which clash with Islamic norms.” In his opinion, there is a need for communities with “the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure.” As such, the Gwynn Oak enclave follows specific moral rules based on Islam and people there speak Arabic. On September 13, 2009, the construction of its three-story mosque began. Approximately 400 Muslims now live in the vicinity.

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