Saturday, December 18, 2004
Compare and contrast: A story came over the wire yesterday on a Cornell University survey that shows *horror* that Americans believe Muslims are more likely to be terrorists -- fancy that. Of course, the survey wasn't phrased in quite that way.
Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim Americans, according to a nationwide poll.
Exactly what are these hypothetical "restrictions" on civil liberties?
The survey showed that 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats. And 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising.
I oppose requiring Muslim Americans to register with the federal government -- mainly because it's silly. If you live in America, you're very likely going to be on the government's radar somehow, some way. Whether it's through taxes, utility bills or welfare payments it's not like you're ever completely invisible to the government.
As for the other two "infringements" on civil liberties -- they aren't infringements at all. Racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats? That's just common sense. How many times do we have to point out that it wasn't members of the Swedish bikini team that flew jumbo jets into the Twin Towers. It wasn't Benedictine monks that flew a plane into the Pentagon. And it wasn't a bunch of Roman Catholic nuns who flew another jet into field in Pennsylvania.
Infiltrating Muslim charities and mosques? Why would we need to do that? So, yeah it was a Muslim imam who ordered his followers -- at a mosque -- to bomb the Twin Towers, unsuccessfully, in 1993. And the government has found that many Muslim "charities" actually spend their money buying bombs rather than prayer beads -- so why should we watch them closely?
Why is the idea of an undercover agent in a mosque so repulsive to "civil libertarians"? Every church I've attended didn't really care if you had some ulterior motive for being there, unless it was to disrupt the service or steal from the collection plate. Showing up just to meet girls? Fine. Showing up to see what this whole Christianity thing is about? Great.
If Muslims are so concerned that what occurs in their mosques remain private, then we should certainly be interested in what's going on inside.
Contrast the "disturbing" opinions of a minority of Americans on the "rights" of Muslims in America with the rights (or lack thereof) of Christians in Saudi Arabia.
A Saudi citizen converted to Christianity has been arrested and jailed. Emad Alaabadi was taken into custody last November 29, at Hofuf, a town in eastern Saudi Arabia, but the news was reported only a few days ago by the International Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington-based human rights group. AsiaNews local sources have confirmed the report, and also say that he "is not the only Saudi Christian in jail at the moment: there are also others".
Of course, the crime of converting to Christianity -- or any other religion that isn't Islam -- in Saudi Arabia is a death-penalty crime.
Last November 29, Amad was intercepted by the Muttawa, Saudi religion police, while he was driving his children home from school. The police escorted them home and then took Amad to the local prison. Later he was transferred to Jeddah, were he is currently imprisoned. On December 4, he managed to contact his mother, who lives in Australia, by telephone, to let her know what had happened and where he was. The mother reported that he sounded very weak: ICC said that the Muttawa agents probably tortured the Christian-faith Amad to reconvert him to Islam.
I'm not really sympathetic to a religion that screams bloody murder about airport security screeners peering at them over-intently when countries where their religion wields the power of the state tortures Christians for merely being.
Yet another reason why the first time I see the unctuous Adel al-Jubeir in person I'm going to give him a swift kick -- just on general principle.