Why Angela Merkel Wants to Ban the Veil

Dec. 15 2016

In a recent editorial, the New York Times roundly condemned the German chancellor’s support for a ban on the burqa, accusing her of “bigotry” and of abandoning her position as the “bulwark” of liberalism; the paper also accused those who applauded the proposal of “Islamophobia.” Benjamin Haddad begs to differ:

[Merkel] continues to show openness to migrants and refugees, but is merely asking them to embrace and live by the basic liberal principles upheld by Germany. She is not responding to the rise of populism [as the Times asserts], but to the rise of a form of militant Islamism that is not necessarily violent but that advocates segregation from European societies. Indeed, Merkel is consistent; the New York Times isn’t—she stands against far-right populism and against extremist forms of religious practices. . . .

[Furthermore, the] “Islamophobia” argument is absurd; in truth, the charge should be directed at opponents of the ban, not at its supporters. As the Times rightly notes, only a small minority of Muslim women wear the burqa. By claiming that the ban is an assault on Islam, the editorial board thus reduces Islam to its most rigorous, extreme, and marginal interpretation. The liberal tolerance on display here plays directly into the hands of extremists who are trying to turn any questioning of their patriarchal and reactionary worldview into “racism.” . . .

There is a legitimate debate to be had over the extent to which such measures are an infringement upon free speech [and religion]. Many European countries are more comfortable banning hate speech, Holocaust revisionism, and degrading behaviors than is the United States, where the First Amendment generally prevents such prohibitions. . . .

But the Times editorial page doesn’t have a word to say about the worldview the burqa represents. Besides, the paper’s commitment to free speech did not extend to reproducing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons out of solidarity with the victims of the terror attacks, “because it had to consider foremost the sensibilities of Times readers, especially its Muslim readers.”

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Read more at American Interest

More about: Angela Merkel, European Islam, Immigration, Islamophobia, New York Times

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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Read more at FDD

More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy