I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Strategy Center: Islam in American Courts

Islam in American Courts: 2007 Year in Review courtesy Strategy Center.

If U.S. foreign policy is truly creating enemies in the Muslim world, as so many now claim, why do so many Muslims prefer to stay in the U.S. rather than be forced home?

The big source country for the 2007 Muslim claimants was Pakistan (12 cases) followed by Bangladesh (six). Each is a Muslim country. Stay tuned. The recent assassination of Benizar Bhutto probably portends an increase in Pakistani asylum claims in 2008. Once again, the U.S. will find itself picking up the pieces of some broken part of the Muslim world, by having these cases heard by our most prestigious courts. This is a consequence you are likely to hear about in the news accounts of the murder.

The year 2007 also saw several criminal cases that illustrate a phenomenon I have described in other articles as the "I am a Muslim" defense: individuals who claim that their conduct is excusable because they were following religious dictates or because their Islamic faith necessarily meant they were of good character. A version of this strategy is in play in those cases where the defendants claim they were inappropriately selected for prosecution because they were Muslim, an argument that consistently fails.

The 2007 cases include Muslim defendants who used their religion as a stalking horse, claiming that it was prosecutorial misconduct for the jury to be exposed to any reference to it, as if it is sacrosanct, even if arguably relevant to the case. The most unscrupulous version of this tactic involved the intentional injection of Islam as a defense, followed by the claim that it was unfair for the prosecution to counter it, as occurred in one 2007 case.

A particularly insightful (and amusing) criminal case from 2007 dealt with a Philadelphia bank robbery, where the male assailants dressed as Muslim women, in clothing they knew would minimize their chance of being identified. That they relied on this tradecraft cuts against any argument that the government should eagerly accommodate this style of religious clothing in such processes as issuing driver’s licenses.

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I am a cantankerous man living and working in the Silicon Valley where reading books is an abomination that is virtually unheard of, frowned upon and may be detrimental to one's career. I avoid censure by never conceding that I ever read or owned a book in my life. If anyone accidentally glimpses my scant proficiency in any subject matter, I immediately accredit it to having glanced at DrudgeReport that day.

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