Karen Lugo

The United Kingdom has authorized sharia courts for Muslims to resolve civil disputes including marital and family conflicts. Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, has observed that these sharia courts “lead to a segregated society” and “entrench division in society.” In a 2008 House of Lords appellate judgment Lord Hope said that the sharia law tenets at issue were “created by and for men in a male dominated society. There is no place . . . for equal rights between men and women.”

Recent examples show that Americans are keeping pace with Europe’s rate of Islamist accommodation. When the U.S. Government orders Bibles to be burned by the military in Afghanistan to avoid offending Muslims, but censors an American protestor who burned the Koran, this is de facto submission to sharia. When the government will not even try to protect an American cartoonist who proposes an “Everybody Draw Mohammad Cartoon Day” but tells her to go into hiding; when a radio station blacklists host’s wife for being “too anti-sharia;” when Yale University Press removed depictions of the controversial Danish cartoons from a book entitled The Cartoons That Shook the World; and, when four Dearborn Christians are arrested for handing out copies of the Gospel of St. John on a public street outside a Muslim festival, there is evidence that America is conceding important principles of individual liberty, equal protection, and constitutionally protected freedom.

The most culturally restrictive of the European concessions to Islam are the incitement-to-hate laws. Just the chance that racially-toned speech may trigger an angry reaction can provoke a criminal investigation. Several high profile “hate speech” prosecutions have demonstrated that the loss of speech freedoms will inhibit the ability of Europeans to define their culture according to their own Enlightenment values. Dearborn’s recent pre-emptive legal smackdown of Terry Jones’ demonstration near a mosque shows a similar erosion of vital expressive rights in the United States.

Each accommodation of Islamist demands is costly beyond measure when translated to a significant symbolic victory. For what the Islamists propose as an isolated act of cultural sensitivity is interpreted when conceded without a fight as powerful evidence of a culture that is morally weak and historically disconnected. While there is no tangible threat to the American way of life, it is easy to rationalize that the gains being consolidated by Islamists are not compromising American liberties. The sacrifice of expressive rights and cultural identity for temporary relief from the charges of intolerance only telegraphs willing incremental capitulation. What is lost in the race to placate the political Islamists among us is the reality that moderate Muslims are learning whether liberty-loving Americans can be trusted to keep sharia hardliners at bay.

Karen Lugo

Karen Lugo is the Founder of the Libertas-West Project and a co-director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.