June 10, 2003

Islamic Veils and Verities
by Donald G. Mashburn

In Orlando (Fla.), lawyers are going at it in a lawsuit over Sultana Freeman’s resistance to a state law requiring her to take off her veil for a driver’s license photo. Freeman, 35, reportedly converted to Islam in 1997, and now says, “I don’t unveil ... because it would be disobeying my Lord.”

She claims the state of Florida never worried about her veil until after Sept. 11, 2001. Florida denies the claim, and insists it is merely enforcing state law.

Freeman’s effort to remain veiled for her driver’s license photo draws attention to other Muslim activity. The Arab-American Anti-Discriminations Committee (ADC) is an organization to help “Muslims ... participate in public affairs.” Other efforts are underway to increase the political clout of Muslims in selected areas.

It’s not clear how these relate to other, potentially serious, threats among us, involving extreme Islamic elements that wish nothing good for the American way of life, particularly our predominant religion, Christianity.

The most dangerous, of course, are the avowed terrorists embedded in our society. The FBI has rooted out some with traceable ties to the al-Qaida network. But others, who may not all be part of al-Qaida or known terrorist operations, are still in the shadows or underground.

What makes them threats is their shared hatred of all things American. However, not all threats come from the anti-American militants. Nor do they necessarily come from the violent and irrational suicide bombers of political Islam.

Some are more open in their efforts to spread Arab-American influence and increase division here. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is expanding both its organization and the influence of Muslims in “public affairs.” It advocates eliminating all references to “Judeo-Christian,” in referring to our American heritage, and replacing it with “Judeo-Christian-Islamic,” or “Abrahamic.”

They want their new term to be used in all references by academia, churches and synagogues, news media, and politicians. You will notice that mosques aren’t mentioned. Presumably, CAIR wants Christians and Jews to be tolerant of Muslims, but makes no effort to urge Muslims to be tolerant of Christian and Jews.

The CAIR initiative will probably find sympathizers among the media, who typically lump together all religions when they refer to “religious fundamentalists,” and often bash Christianity but view Islam in the soft glow of tolerance.

But there are vast differences between a religion built on Jesus’ teaching His followers: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35), and one that robs Islamic women of both equality and freedom.

Violence was never part of Christian faith as taught by Jesus, whereas Mohammed, Islam’s founder, apparently never hesitated to order the beheading of hundreds of victims.

Before we overdo the inclusion thing, we should ask: “Where are the free Islamic nations?” They don’t exist! So why should adherents of political Islam be telling us how to “improve” American laws or the American way of life?

Which returns us to Sultana Freeman’s claim of religious exemption from having her full-face photograph on her driver’s license. Ms. Freeman surely realizes the potential dangers from giving in to her wishes.

Could a man refuse to show his face for a driver’s license? Should law enforcement, bank, and government officials be forced to take people at their word that they are indeed the people they claim to be, with no identification proof? Should masked men be allowed to walk into banks, board airplanes, attend church and political gatherings?

Many eyes are on Florida. However the ruling goes, it’s almost certain to be appealed.

Those trying to chip away at our national underpinnings will support the right to hide behind a mask. Those who see the dangers in allowing a claimed religious belief to trump established law will unite to keep the face of America open and free.