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October 26, 2006

The old bait-and-switch

Anne posted recently about the Muslim taxi drivers who refuse to pick up passengers carrying alcohol at the airport. Now the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune (hat tip to Best of the Web) reports, "Behind the scenes, a struggle for power and religious authority is apparently playing out. . . ."

An animated circle of Somalis gathered when the question of the airport controversy was raised.

"I was surprised and shocked when I heard it was an issue at the airport," said Faysal Omar. "Back in Somalia, there was never any problem with taking alcohol in a taxi."

Jama Dirie said, "If a driver doesn't pick up everyone, he should get his license canceled and get kicked out of the airport."

Two of the Somalis present defended the idea that Islam prohibits cabdrivers from transporting passengers with alcohol. An argument erupted. The consensus seemed to be that only a small number of Somalis object to transporting alcohol. It's a matter of personal opinion, not Islamic law, several men said.

Ahmed Samatar, a nationally recognized expert on Somali society at Macalester College, confirmed that view. "There is a general Islamic prohibition against drinking," he said, "but carrying alcohol for people in commercial enterprise has never been forbidden. There is no basis in Somali cultural practice or legal tradition for that.

"This is one of those new concoctions. It is being foisted on the Somali community by an inside or outside group," he added. "I do not know who."

So reporter Katherine Kersten went to find out who.

When I asked Patrick Hogan, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman, for his explanation, he forwarded a fatwa, or religious edict, that the MAC had received. The fatwa proclaims that "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, "because it involves cooperating in sin according to the Islam."

The fatwa, dated June 6, 2006, was issued by the "fatwa department" of the Muslim American Society, Minnesota chapter, and signed by society officials. . . .

What is the Muslim American Society? In September 2004 the Chicago Tribune published an investigative article. The society was incorporated in 1993, the paper reported, and is the name under which the U.S. branch of the Muslim Brotherhood operates.

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. The Tribune described the Brotherhood as "the world's most influential Islamic fundamentalist group." Because of its hard-line beliefs, the U.S. Brotherhood has been an increasingly divisive force within Islam in America, fueling the often bitter struggle between moderate and conservative Muslims," the paper reported.

The international Muslim Brotherhood "preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic," according to the Tribune.

Guess what? We're not talking about religious rights at all. We're talking about radical Islam using taxi drivers to make one more move, albeit a small one, toward its goal of having everything exactly its own way. It's a classic case of the old bait-and-switch.

Looks like Steyn hit another one out of the park (come on, you knew that was coming). In chapter 4 of America Alone, he writes, "Whether or not you can 'give' people freedom, all over the world Middle Eastern Islamists have given millions of Asians and Africans and Europeans (and, yes, North Americans) an ideology and identity that hitherto they never knew they wanted." He expounds on a similar case in Britain where a schoolgirl sued for the right to wear "the full 'jibab' -- Muslim garb that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands":

[The student was] of Bangladeshi origin, and her belated adoption of the jilbab is a symbol of the Arabization of . . . Islam that's at the root of so many current problems. Even as an honored Arab tradition, it dates all the way back to the seventies. Not the 1070s or 1570s but the 1970s. There is no evidence that any Muslim woman anywhere ever wore the jilbab before the disco era, when it was taken up by the Muslim Brotherhood and others in the Arab world. . . . It's a wholly invented and consciously chosen identity. It's not part of her Bangladeshi heritage, it's not part of British custom. It is . . . political rather than spiritual: it's part of a movement explicitly hostile to what Tony Blair calls "our way of life." . . . During the cartoon jihad, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto spelled it out: "We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law."

Just a little something to keep in mind next time you can't find a taxi.

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Dennis Babish

I don't see the bait and switch. The previous post talked about freedom of religion. From the Muslim point of view there is no freedom of religion there is only one religion, Islam. Their goal is not to freely practice their religion but to implement Islamic law in this country as they have successfully done in Europe. This is only the beginning. Start small and grow until there are Sharias here.
Here is the simple solution for the taxi cab problem. The cab driver waits in the taxi line. When he is first he gets the next fare. He can choose to not take that fare for any reason, religious, he doesn't like tall people, or can't stand the woman's hairdo. Once he declines he must go to the back of the line and wait his turn again. I'd be willing to bet that the problem would resolve itself. Remember we have freedom of choice but we don't have freedom from the consequences of our choices. If there is any bait and switch we have done that to ourselves.

Katharine Eastvold

Exactly who is harmed by the presence in a school of a girl wearing a jibab? I don't see how her motivations for wearing it (political, religious, or cultural) are important. Plenty of people wear crucifixes or cross jewelry because of their ethnic heritage or just because it looks pretty, and not because they are actually Christian believers. Should the government have a problem with that? I might choose one day to wear a head scarf because it's windy and I don't want to mess up my hair. In fact, I might like it so much that I decide to keep covering my head for the rest of my life. In what way does the government have a compelling interest in ordering me to desist while in school or at work? So why should it be any different for a Muslim girl, even if her motivations are political?

I worry that we are forgetting our heritage of religious AND political freedom. Government must not (indeed cannot) regulate thought or opinion or belief. We cannot rid our country (or any European countries either) of fundamentalist Muslims or terrorist sympathizers simply by stripping them of those outward (and otherwise legal) actions and appearances which express their beliefs. Indeed, to attempt to do so is a very foolish and dangerous thing and will only create more hard-liners and/or result in the curtailment of our own religious freedoms if a secularist administration comes to power here.

Finally, I find the "slippery slope" argument (that if you start letting taxi drivers choose whom to transport, before we know it we'll be living under sharia) absolutely absurd. It is simply not true, logically, that once you take one step in a certain direction, you are inevitably obliged to follow that direction to its most extreme conclusion. Muslims are a very small minority of our population, and not all Muslims in America want to see the country governed under sharia. Sure, there are those who do. But must we curtail our religious freedoms, which long have served as a beacon to the entire world, for fear of a few radicals? May it never be.

Dennis Babish

Katherine what religious freedom are we inhibiting in the cab drivers case? According to Samatar it isn't against their religion to carrying alcohol for people in commercial enterprise. So if it isn't against their religion what freedom are we denying them? Let's say the same cab driver now says according to his religion all women must wear a jibab before they can get into his cab. If we say that isn't allowed are we stepping on his religious freedom?
I still believe the answer to the cab situation is if he doesn't want to take the fare he doesn't have to he just has to go to the end of the line. If he is actually doing that because of his religious belief then he should be willing to go to the end of the line and glorify his Allah for the opportunity to sacrifice for him.
As for the jibab issue if we take the story at face value one could say it isn't a religious symbol but rather a gang symbol to identify with the Muslim Brotherhood. But I could be wrong.

Mohammed Salam

MB Denies Involvement In The Somali Cab Drivers Controversy

Khaled Salam, IKhwanweb - New York, U.S

Friday, October 27, 2006
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) completely denied any involvement in the current dispute caused by a group of Somali Muslim cab drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, U.S.A, who are refusing to pick up drunk passengers or those carrying alcoholic beverages claiming that Islam prohibits them from driving passengers with Alcohol.

Dr. Mohamed Habib, the first Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, affirmed that Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do whatsoever with what these Muslim cab drivers believe or view mistakenly as religious decree. Dr. Habib described the cabbies' position as “absurd” and added “Muslims must respect and comply with the laws and regulations of the countries they live in and be a good example for their fellow citizens”

Dr. Habib stated that these drivers are free to believe in whatever they think is right or wrong, however, he strongly condemned them for “trying to impose their own personal believes on society” and stated that those drivers must transport passengers anywhere, “those who are refusing to transport certain passengers are indeed breaking the laws and the regulations sanctioned by the local authorities which prohibit discrimination in any form or shape. “These drivers are ought to look for a different type of work which they feel more comfortable with and which can accommodate their own personal believes without causing hardships for others”. The cab drivers had requested that dispatchers exempt them to pick up passengers heading to liquor stores and bars.

Dr. Habib also stated that these cabbies by transporting drunk passengers are indeed protecting society had these passengers driven their own cars and gotten into accidents that might result into the loss of innocent lives.

Meanwhile, Dr. Habib praised the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which regulates taxi service at the airport, for its patience while for two years has been discussing this issue with cab drivers trying to accommodate them. The commission had earlier agreed to let cabbies use lights on top of the cabs to identify drivers who won't transport alcohol so airport employees could direct passengers with alcohol to a willing driver, but later dropped that proposal after many Muslims themselves denounced the cabbies position.

Several organizations and media outlets in the U.S, driven by their own hatred towards the Muslim Brotherhood, have been engaging in a smear campaign and trying disparately to link the Muslim Brotherhood to the current controversy, which the MB has nothing to do with it. These laughable and despicable reports have capitalized on the controversy they helped to create in the first place and frantically panicked about what they called “the Muslim Brotherhood project to islamize the U.S by imposing the Sharia Law on Americans”, which is utterly ridiculous.

The Muslim Brotherhood views and opinions can only be obtained through its official channels and should not be held responsible for other individuals or entities that might try to associate themselves with the group.

The Muslim Brotherhood follows and promotes a moderate interpretation of Islam, and do not condone radical views. In the contrary, the MB has been always a staunch advocate of tolerance and coexistence among Muslims and people of other religions or cultures.

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