Jewish Right To Israel

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Before Muslim Protests Were All The Rage

Muslim groups protested and made demands even before 9-11, in the US. Daniel Pipes recalls an incident when CAIR made an unsuccessful attempt to have a statue of Mohammad removed:

In 1997, the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that part of a 1930s frieze in the main chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. be sandblasted into oblivion, on the grounds that Islam prohibits representations of its prophet. The seven-foot high marble relief by Adolph Weinman depicts Muhammad as one of 18 historic lawgivers. His left hand holds the Koran in book form (a jarring historical inaccuracy from the Muslim point of view) and his right holds a sword.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, however, rejected CAIR's pressure, finding that the depiction "was intended only to recognize [Muhammad] … as an important figure in the history of law; it is not intended as a form of idol worship." Rehnquist only conceded that court literature should mention that the representation offends Muslim sensibilities. His decision met with riots and injuries in India.

But not all attempts were equally unsuccessful.
In contrast, back in 1955, a campaign to censor a representation of Muhammad in another American court building did succeed. That would be the New York City-based courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the New York State Supreme Court. Built in 1902, it featured on its roof balustrade an eight-foot marble statue of "Mohammed" by Charles Albert Lopez as one of ten historic lawgivers. This Muhammad statue also held a Koran in his left hand and a scimitar in the right.

Daniel Pipes' point?

Recalling these events of 1955 suggests several points. First, pressure by Muslims on the West to conform to Islamic customs predates the current Islamist era. Second, even when minimal numbers of Muslims lived in the West, such pressures could succeed. Finally, contrasting the parallel 1955 and 1997 episodes suggests that the earlier approach of ambassadors making polite representations – not high-handed demands backed up by angry mobs, much less terrorist plots – can be the more effective route.
But note that Pipes' point is more than just to suggest that Muslims can and should utilize the normal channels available for protesting and bringing about change. Instead, the point he is trying to make is a good deal more controversial:
This conclusion confirms my more general point – and the premise of the Islamist Watch project – that Islamists working quietly within the system achieve more than ferocity and bellicosity. Ultimately, soft Islamism presents dangers as great as does violent Islamism.
Read the whole thing.

Pipes writes at The Islamist Watch Project about what he refers to as The Threat of Lawful Islamism--particularly about the changes being attempted in Western society:
Lawful Islamists advance their cause through lobbying politicians, intimidating the media, threatening international boycotts, making predatory use of the legal system, advancing novel legislation, influencing the contents of school textbooks, and in other ways exploiting the freedoms of an open society. They advance their agenda in incremental steps, each of which in itself is minor but in the aggregate point to fundamental changes in society. Here is a sampling of such steps taken by non-Muslims to accommodate Islamists:
And you thought Campus Watch was controversial.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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