Last Saturday evening, Earl and I attended CAIR's annual fundraising dinner at the Westin Oaks. We were invited by an Egyptian Muslim friend whom I met on my trip to Turkey two years ago. I accepted his invitation because I like him and his family. They emigrated from Egypt to Texas years ago. He is sharp, curious and interested in bringing folks together on common ground. And he is the current President of CAIR Texas.
So, what is CAIR? The Council of American-Islamic Relations. I knew little about the organization, but I do know Dr. Tarek Hussein to be passionate about seeking commonalities among people. Seems as if serving as President of CAIR Texas is a perfect fit for Tarek and this organization with a mission statement that reads "CAIR's mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and building coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."
The Executive Director of CAIR's Houston chapter, Mustafaa Carroll, gave us an overview of the programs and issues tackled this year. In the midst of his talk, he mentioned that folks often asked him about Shariah. He said, "I didn't know much about it and had to read up on it." Well, that is interesting. He chuckled and went on with his speech.
The next morning, I opened the Sunday New York Times and there on the front page was the beginning of a very long article titled "Behind an Anti-Shariah Push." Synchronicity? I've been seeing that word more and more often. I've also read that some folks are really worked up about Shariah.
Shariah is another word for Islamic law and last year more than two dozen states (that would be half the states in our great country) considered measures to restrict judges from consulting Shariah, or foreign and religious laws more generally. Remember that? Statutes have been enacted in three states. Voters in Oklahoma overwhelming approved a constitutional amendment last November that bans the use of Islamic law in court.
Where is this coming from? The New York Times writes, "...it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam. Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah."
Imagine that. Do you wonder why? Once again, the answer to this spread of misinformation is that "Mr. Yerushalmi has the support of a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials."
It is chilling to think that there are think tanks promoting Shariah as the greatest threat to American freedom since the Cold War.
I suspect that the point of all this misinformation and the funding of folks like Mr. Yerushalmi is so that ordinary folks will focus on Muslims as 'the other'. Ramp up fear about 'the other' who are living in our very midst, for heaven's sake. Those think tanks and Mr. Yerushalmi will have done wonders for taking our minds off the lack of jobs, the inability to pay the mortgage, the loss of collective bargaining rights of unions, the dumbing down of public education, the deteriorating condition of our bridges and highways.
Never mind real issues.
Read The New York Times story and keep in mind that more than two states have elected officials who believe that Shariah is a political and legal system that seeks world domination.
Mr. Yerushalmi, does your wife believe all of your garbage?
I'll take CAIR's word that American Muslims are interested in civil rights and mutual understanding. How about friendship too? Thank you, Tarek Hussien, for introducing me to CAIR.