But not all attempts were equally unsuccessful.
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.
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.
- Sell land at discount prices for building mosques or other Islamic institutions.
- Ban Hindus and Jews from a jury hearing a criminal case against an Islamist in Great Britain.
- Allow a prisoner the unheard-of right to avoid strip-searches in New York State.
- Let students in public (i.e., taxpayer-funded) schools use empty classrooms for prayers in New Jersey.
- Permit public schools and public airwaves to be used to convert non-Muslims.
- Recognize polygamous marriages for tax purposes in the United Kingdom.
- Set aside women-only bathing at a municipal swimming pool in France or use taxpayer funds for Muslim women-only swimming times in Washington State.
- Arrange for women-only classes at a taxpayer-supported university.
- Blame women for being the victims of rape by Muslim men in Norway.
- Develop a special hijab for female Muslim employees of a leading home furnishing company, sporting the corporate logo.
- Ban the use of piggybanks—the symbol of frugality—in their advertising by two major British banks.
- Establish panels, councils, or advisory boards uniquely for Muslims.
- Authorize Muslim-only neighborhoods or events.
- Apply the "Rushdie rules" – accepting Islamist intimidation and silencing critics of Islam.
- Punish anti-Islamic views through the application of criminal charges, as has occurred to critics of Islam in Australia and Canada.
- Prohibit families from sending pork or pork by-products or "Any matter containing religious materials contrary to Islamic faith" to U.S. military personnel serving in the Middle East.
- Require that female American soldiers in Saudi Arabia wear U.S. government-issued abayas.
Crossposted at Soccer Dad