Archive for Michele Bachmann

In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2011 by loonwatch
For Newt Gingrich, in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Shariah is a concern akin to terrorism.
For Newt Gingrich, in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Shariah is a concern akin to terrorism.

Discuss.

In Islamic Law, Gingrich Sees a Mortal Threat to U.S.

By 

WASHINGTON — Long before he announced his presidential run this year, Newt Gingrich had become the most prominent American politician to embrace an alarming premise: that Shariah, or Islamic law, poses a threat to the United States as grave as or graver than terrorism.

“I believe Shariah is a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it,” Mr. Gingrich said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in July 2010 devoted to what he suggested were the hidden dangers of Islamic radicalism. “I think it’s that straightforward and that real.”

Mr. Gingrich was articulating a much-disputed thesis in vogue with some conservative thinkers but roundly rejected by many American Muslims, scholars of Islam and counterterrorism officials. The anti-Shariah theorists say that just as communism posed an ideological and moral threat to America separate from the menace of Soviet missiles, so today radical Islamists are working to impose Shariah in a “stealth jihad” that is no less dangerous than the violent jihad of Al Qaeda.

“Stealth jihadis use political, cultural, societal, religious, intellectual tools; violent jihadis use violence,” Mr. Gingrich said in the speech. “But in fact they’re both engaged in jihad, and they’re both seeking to impose the same end state, which is to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Shariah.”

Echoing some Republicans in Congress, Mr. Gingrich blasted the Obama administration’s policy of declining to label terrorism carried out in the name of militant Islam as “Islamic” or “jihadist.” Administration officials say such labels can imply religious justification for a distortion of doctrine that most Muslims abhor, thus smearing an entire faith.

But to Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment, the administration’s language smacks of the willful blindness of an earlier era. “The left’s refusal to tell the truth about the Islamist threat is a natural parallel to the 70-year pattern of left-wing intellectuals refusing to tell the truth about communism and the Soviet Union,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Shariah (literally, “the path to the watering place”) is a central concept in Islam. It is God’s law, as derived from the Koran and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, and has far wider application than secular law. It is popularly associated with its most extreme application in societies like Afghanistan under the Taliban, including chopping off a hand as punishment for thievery.

But it has always been subject to interpretation by religious authorities, so its application has varied over time and geography, said Bernard G. Weiss, professor emeritus at the University of Utah and an authority on Islamic law.

“In the hands of terrorists, Shariah can be developed into a highly threatening, militant notion,” Professor Weiss said. “In the hands of a contemporary Muslim thinker writing in the journal Religion and Law, Shariah becomes an essentially pacifist notion.”

The Arab Spring has set off a lively political and scholarly debate over the growing power of Islamists in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. But those are all overwhelmingly Muslim countries. The idea that Shariah poses a danger in the United States, where the census pegs Muslims as less than 1 percent of the population, strikes many scholars as quixotic.

Even within that 1 percent, most American Muslims have no enthusiasm for replacing federal and state law with Shariah, as some conservatives fear, let alone adopting such ancient prescriptions as stoning for adulterers, said Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University in Washington, who spent a year traveling the United States and interviewing Muslims for his 2010 book “Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.”

The notion of a threat from Shariah to the United States “takes your breath away, it’s so absurd,” Dr. Ahmed said. He sees political demagoguery in the anti-Shariah campaign, which fueled rallies against mosques in the last two years from Manhattan to Tennessee.

All of the Republican presidential candidates have been asked about the supposed threat from Shariah. Representative Michele Bachmann told the conservative Family Research Council in a November speech that Shariah “must be resisted across the United States,” endorsing moves by several states to prohibit judges from considering Shariah.

Mitt Romney said in a June debate: “We’re not going to have Shariah law applied in U.S. courts. That’s never going to happen.” He immediately added, “People of all faiths are welcome in this country.”

For Mr. Gingrich, concern about Shariah has been a far more prominent theme. He and his wife, Callista, produced and narrated a 2010 film on the threat from radical Islam, “America at Risk,” that discusses the danger of both terrorism and Shariah against a lurid background of terrorist bombings, bloody victims, wailing sirens and chanting Muslim crowds. (Mrs. Gingrich does say, at one point, “This is not a battle with the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful.”)

One Muslim activist who is shown in the film calling for “separation of mosque and state,” Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, said he appreciated Mr. Gingrich’s support in an ideological contest with large Muslim advocacy groups in the United States that he believes have an Islamist slant.

But Dr. Jasser, a Phoenix physician and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said non-Muslims like Mr. Gingrich were not the most effective advocates for what he believes is really a debate within Islam.

“Unfortunately, as long as a non-Muslim opens the discussion, whether it’s Gingrich or someone else, it’s going to hit a brick wall in the Muslim community,” Dr. Jasser said.

Mohamed Elibiary, a Muslim and an adviser to law enforcement agencies in Texas and to the Department of Homeland Security, is a conservative Republican who said he once idolized Mr. Gingrich. He said he no longer did.

He said the anti-Shariah campaign in the United States was “propaganda for jihadists,” offering fuel for the idea of a titanic clash of faiths. Those who truly want to protect American values should talk to Muslims, he said, not demonize them.

“There are plenty of American Muslim patriots who will defend American freedoms,” Mr. Elibiary said. “But you can’t be anti-Islam and find those allies.”

Michele Bachmann: ‘Obama Is Allowing Terror Suspect Groups To Write The FBI’s Terror Training Manual’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2011 by loonwatch

Republican candidates love portraying Obama as a sympathizer with Mooslim extremists, and here is another good example.

Michele Bachmann: ‘Obama Is Allowing Terror Suspect Groups To Write The FBI’s Terror Training Manual’

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Friday the Obama administration is striking all references to Islam from Justice Department training manuals, exaggerating a directive from federal officials to evaluate procedures for religious and cultural sensitivity.

Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, equated the effort to strike offensive references to Islam from material to removing suspicion of Islamic terrorism from department policy.

A conservative popular with tea party activists and evangelical conservatives, she later linked President Barack Obama with “4,400 American lives” lost in Iraq. However, the death toll in the 8-year-old war that began under President George W. Bush had already reached 4,229 when Obama was inaugurated in 2009. It now stands at no fewer than 4,481.

As she campaigned in Iowa, now the focus of her effort to win the Republican nomination, Bachmann accused the administration of making changes in training manuals under pressure from pro-Islam groups with terrorist links.

“And now Obama is allowing terror suspect groups to write the FBI’s terror training manual,” she told about 75 Republican activists in an eastern Iowa hotel conference room.

The FBI has not removed Islam from training material, said an FBI official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity.

The FBI has been conducting a comprehensive review of its training materials after it was revealed that what officials termed an inaccurate description of Islam, one that linked the religion to terrorism, was being used in some of the bureau’s training programs. Last month, FBI officials said the agency was undertaking the review in light of an analyst’s criticism of Islam during a lecture last spring.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said last week he had asked that all aspects of the department be broadly re-evaluated for “sensitivity for all peoples of faith” in its training efforts.

“Examples include the efforts of our law enforcement components to ensure that their interactions with the community – whether in responding to an attack on a mosque or arresting a suspect in a counter-terrorism investigation – convey a sense of basic respect to the rule of law and the rights of all who have made this nation their home,” Cole said.

In her remarks Friday, Bachmann broadly painted the effort as trying to remove the link between Islam and anti-American terrorism sponsored by radical Islamic extremists.

“And so now the White House has scrubbed all Islamic terms from the national counterterrorism strategy. The White House has removed all Islamic terms from the Pentagon’s report on the Fort Hood shooting. And now, Obama is allowing terror suspect groups to write the FBI’s terror training manual,” she said.

The White House declined to respond to Bachmann’s criticism.

In an interview with CNN on Friday, Bachmann said Obama’s foreign policies were worse than his economic ones and linked Obama to the war’s overall death toll as well as its cost.

“Under Barack Obama’s watch, we’ve expended $805 billion to liberate the people of Iraq and, more importantly, 4,400 American lives,” she said.

Bachmann is on the first leg of a three-day campaign trip to the leadoff caucus state.

___

Sullivan reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

Top Conservatives Support anti-Muslim Inquisition

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 17, 2010 by loonwatch

Michele Bachmann Endorses Call for Anti-Muslim Inquisition

by Daniel Luban

I wrote earlier for IPS about the new Center for Security Policy report “Shariah: The Threat to America,” authored by a team billing itself as “Team B II” (in reference to the 1970s  Team B notorious for its alarmist and now-discredited estimates of Soviet military capabilities). The group that produced the report featured a number of the right’s nuttier Islamophobes, including Frank Gaffney, Andy McCarthy, and David Yerushalmi. Given that this sort of thinking is making inroads among congressional Republicans — the report was endorsed by Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the report’s prescriptions to see just how extreme it is.

The central problem with the report is that the authors identify “sharia” with the most literalistic and brutal versions of sharia, and therefore fail to understand what the term might actually mean to the bulk of Muslims worldwide. (When Matt Duss asked Gaffney at Wednesday’s press conference to name any Muslims scholars or theologians who had been consulted in the writing of the report, Gaffney was unable to produce any names.) As a result their prescriptions would amount in practice to a criminalization of virtually any form of Islam.

Here are some of their policy recommendations (p. 143 of the report):

“…extend bands currently in effect that bar members of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan from holding positions of trust in federal, state, or local governments or the armed forces of the United States to those who espouse or support shariah.”

“Practices that promote shariah – notably, shariah-compliant finance and the establishment or promotion in public spaces or with public funds of facilities and activities that give preferential treatment to shariah’s adherents – are incompatible with the Constitution and the freedoms it enshrines and must be proscribed.”

“Sedition is prohibited by law in the United States. To the extent that imams and mosques are being used to advocate shariah in America, they are promoting seditious activity and should be warned that they will not be immune from prosecution.”

“Immigrations of those who adhere to shariah must be precluded, as was previously done with adherents to the seditious ideology of communism.”

I am not a scholar of Islam, but any competent one will tell you that sharia is a far broader term than the “Team B” authors seem to think it is – it basically refers to Islamic religious precepts in general, to the point of being virtually synonymous with Islamic religious practice. As a result any practicing Muslim, no matter how moderate or extreme, will consider himself or herself to be “sharia-compliant” according to their own understanding of what sharia requires. This does not, of course, mean that they will endorse the brutal hudud penalties that have become the most notorious symbols of sharia to non-Muslims, that they will seek to impose these precepts on others, or that they will seek to make them the law of the land. But to demand that a practicing Muslim to renounce sharia is tantamount to demanding that they renounce Islam itself.

This is precisely what the report’s recommendations demand, whether or not it’s what the authors intend. Any Muslim who “espouses” or “adheres to” sharia – that is, any practicing Muslim – will thereby be banned from government or military service, prohibited from immigrating to the country, and even opened to prosecution for sedition. The only Muslims immune from this witch-hunt are those “who are willing publicly to denounce shariah” – a surefire recipe for the creation of conversosand crypto-Muslims, but hardly one consistent with the First Amendment.

We might be charitable to the “Team B” authors and argue that they’re simply ignorant: not understanding what sharia actually means, they have identified it with its most extreme manifestations, and therefore wrongly believe that by asking Muslims to renounce sharia they are simply asking them to renounce radical Islam. A less charitable explanation would be that they know exactly what they’re doing, and are seeking to outlaw Islam itself.

[Cross-posted at Lobelog.]