Normally, I enjoy reading Weasel Zippers (it’s right there on my blogroll, meaning I check it out at least once on the average day) and find myself in general agreement. However, I think that “Washington DC Police Enforcing Sharia Law” is a misleading and inaccurate headline, and I take issue with it.
Some women who protested at the Islamic Center of Washington, wanting to be able to worship in the main prayer hall with their male counterparts, were asked to leave by the police. But they say their struggle will continue. … Over the weekend, [Jannah B’int] Hannah and approximately 20 other women prayed in the main hall, but D.C. police were called. They asked them to leave or be arrested. … In two out of every three American mosques, women of separate prayer spaces around the country.[sic]
As I explained on C2, in response to the question “what crime would the DC police have arrested those women for?”
Trespassing? As distasteful as it is, the mosque gets to set its own rules for what its people are allowed to do inside, and can call the police for people who break the rules and refuse to leave. … If the women refused to leave, and the men from the mosque attempted to physically remove the women themselves, they might have been vulnerable to assault charges. I think their only two choices (assuming the women couldn’t be convinced to leave of their own volition) were to call the police or to let them remain. Obviously, we think the second choice was the correct one; but it’s not up to us.
In response to the question “Would the cops interfere in an Orthodox Jewish service where they still seperate men from women?”
The police were called, and arrests made, in the 80s and 90s when ACTUP were staging protests inside Catholic churches. People were in church who didn’t belong there, according to the church, so the police were called to remove them. We don’t have to agree with the mosque (far from it!) to admit that they were within their rights. … Muslims have every right to set policies like this for their members. The points where we should object are
- Where they try to set policies for their members which violate the law (honor killings, sharia courts, etc.)
- Where they try to set policies for people who are not members of their religion (trying to impose sharia on the rest of us, etc.) I’ve never had any of my Jewish friends tell me that *I* couldn’t eat bacon; they understood that their rules were for them and my rules were for me.
- Where they violate the right of people to leave their religion (apostates). Anyone who voluntarily chooses to join or stay with a religion is choosing to consent to their rules; but no religion has a right to keep people against their will.
My sympathies are entirely with these women; but the mosque broke no laws in having them evicted. When you exercise civil disobedience, you must always be aware of and prepared for the consequences.
There’s more to the discussion than the above, but that’s the general gist. I didn’t enjoy defending the mosque, but they were within their rights. Anyway, the consensus is that I was right.