Thursday, April 06, 2006

Can Religions Build Their Own Enclaves?

Some Muslims would rather live separately from the rest of us. The Middle East Quarterly has an essay by Charles Houck examining the constitutional issues arising from that desire:

First in Europe and now in the United States, Muslim groups have petitioned to establish enclaves in which they can uphold and enforce greater compliance to Islamic law. While the U.S. Constitution enshrines the right to religious freedom and the prohibition against a state religion, when it comes to the rights of religious enclaves to impose communal rules, the dividing line is more nebulous. Can U.S. enclaves, homeowner associations, and other groups enforce Islamic law?

Such questions are no longer theoretical. While Muslim organizations first established enclaves in Europe,[1] the trend is now crossing the Atlantic. Some Islamist community leaders in the United States are challenging the principles of assimilation and equality once central to the civil rights movement, seeking instead to live according to a separate but equal philosophy. The Gwynnoaks Muslim Residential Development group, for example, has established an informal enclave in Baltimore because, according to John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative, a Baltimore-based Muslim advocacy group, “there was no community in the U.S. that showed the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure.”[2]

Baltimore is not alone. In August 2004, a local planning commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, granted The Islamic Center for Human Excellence authorization to build an internal Islamic enclave to include a mosque, a school, and twenty-two homes.[3] While the imam, Aquil Hamidullah, says his goal is to create “a clean community, free of alcohol, drugs, and free of gangs,”[4] the implications for U.S. jurisprudence of this and other internal enclaves are greater: while the Little Rock enclave might prevent the sale of alcohol, can it punish possession and in what manner? Can it force all women, be they residents or visitors, to don Islamic hijab (headscarf)? Such enclaves raise the fundamental questions of when, how, and to what extent religious practice may supersede the U.S. Constitution. [footnotes are linked only in the original article]

Before you go further, think of some other precedents for this kind of community. First, there are the Amish. And now, in Florida, they are proposing a “Catholics Only” town to be called Ave Maria. This is the description from their website:

In 2002, the intersection of two remarkable visions created a groundbreaking opportunity for a wholly new approach to education and land planning.
On one side, Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and chairman of the Ave Maria Foundation, dreamed of creating the first major Catholic university in the United States in more than 40 years.

“We wanted to build a major Catholic university in the southern part of the United States with the highest standards,” he has said. “I can’t think of a better place than one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, which is centered around Naples. This location will be very attractive to students who want the finest Catholic education. It will offer the best of both worlds -- the great quality of life of Naples and a new dynamic Catholic and educational community.”

At the same time, the Barron Collier Companies, a diversified Southwest Florida company carrying forward the legacy of the County’s founding family, was poised to usher in a revolutionary program in the rural land planning.

“The ‘Rural Stewardship’ program developed for Collier County’s eastern lands is an innovative approach to protecting both the environment and agriculture, while promoting economic prosperity,” explains Barron Collier Companies President Paul Marinelli. “In fact, it is quickly becoming a statewide, even national model for rural development. Ave Maria University was the ideal concept for the Stewardship program.”

As these two visionary parties became partners in the University and Town of Ave Maria, they found not only the means for bringing their respective dreams to reality, but also an opportunity to build an institution unlike any other.

“What we are creating here is truly a unique approach to educational and land planning,” Marinelli continues. “Developing both academic and community features at the same time allows us to create an environment where living and learning form an integrated whole. The campus will be an intrinsic part of the town, and participating in town life will be an enriching aspect of the university experience. Town residents will also benefit from the cultural and academic resources provided by the university.”

The partners plan to invest more than $100 million to create the first phase of the project. Included will be the University, which ultimately will offer not only a full curriculum of traditional liberal arts, sciences and engineering programs, but also a comprehensive graduate program offering master’s and doctoral degrees to an estimated 5,000 students. The accompanying town will provide single- and multi-family housing in a wide range of styles and prices, along with commercial and office facilities to accommodate the businesses and organizations needed to support this major academic institution.

The first phase is expected to open in mid 2007 with all necessary campus and town facilities to accommodate an expected 650 students. An interim campus near Vineyards in North Naples opened for classes in September 2003, and doubled its enrollment for its second year.

If Muslim enclaves are questionable, and The Middle East Quarterly says they are —

The Islamic Center for Human Excellence may seek to segregate schools and offices by gender. The enclave might also exercise broad control upon commerce within its boundaries—provided the economic restrictions did not discriminate against out-of-state interests or create an undue burden upon interstate commerce. But most critically, the enclave could promulgate every internal law—from enforcing strict religious dress codes to banning alcohol possession and music; it could even enforce limits upon religious and political tolerance. Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework. At the very least, the permissible parameters of an Islamist enclave are ill defined.

— then what of Ave Maria? Speculation has it that anything considered un-Catholic, e.g., birth control devices, will not be sold within the confines of Ave Maria. Is that unconstitutional?

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Disclosure: I don’t like gated communities. I wouldn’t live in a city that was “planned” ever again. When my children were entering adolescence our family moved to Columbia, Maryland, a “bedroom town” between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. It was a pretty place — the streets were wide and curved, the electricity was all underground (no telephone poles), each “neighborhood” had its own center, etc. Lots of landscaping. A town center by a lake and having its own hotel. Housing for the elderly. A lot of thought had gone into this town. It even had subsidized housing so that there was some diversity. There weren’t any churches, per se; instead, there were “interfaith centers” that shared time and space with one another. Unfortunately, there was one problem: everyone had come from somewhere else. There were no generational ties to this place. There was no community soul that had grown up organically, warts and all. It was picture perfect. It was a town for Stepford families.

Now I live in a place that has natural beauty and ugliness all mixed in. A woman I went to church with lives in a house her family has owned since the 18th century land grant gave her ancestors a thousand acres. Descendants of the slaves her family owned live nearby. There are trailers and double wides. There are handsome houses right next to them. The housing codes are for health and hygiene and they are minimal. Some few places remain with outhouses, though I don’t know if they could be sold as such. However, the old lady down the road refused to ever have a bathroom put in, even though her family tried to talk her into it.

Are Amish communities constitutional? Is Ave Maria, FL constitutional? And how about Muslim communities?

Where do you draw the constitutional lines? We live in a time where balkanization seems to be proceeding apace. The Amish have never produced a suicide bomber that we know of. The Catholics long ago made their peace with the U.S. I don’t know one who doesn’t consider himself American before he thinks about his religion. But Lord knows, the Catholics have produced the Mafia —Irish and Italian and Puerto Rican — so there’s nothing to brag about there.

But none of these have a vision of a world devoted to Allah. The Catholics did, a long time ago, but that idea is so dead and gone you couldn’t resurrect it if you tried.

Imagine if the earlier immigrants had decided to wall themselves off. What would the American people have had to say about that? There were immigrant ghettoes, but the point was to earn enough to move away as quickly as possible. South Boston, in Massachusetts, may be an exception.

What is constitutional – or not – about the Muslims’ walling themselves off? How about the Catholics? Where do the visions of La Raza fit in here? Does the American strength of assimilation that de Tocqueville marvelled have to change? What will be the unintended consequences of this balkanization?

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.


Jason Pappas said...

I share your sensibilities. While one wants to enjoy the company of those that share one’s values, too much inbreeding (be it spiritual, political, philosophical, or religious) is sterile. I can be critical of my NYC leftist friends on that account as well as my e-friends on the right. Staying engaged and seeking common ground is healthy for a well-functioning republic. That’s why I love meeting so many people from around our country here in cyperspace.

And, of course, I enjoy the generational differences in my own neighborhood. I, too, lived in a new community which just never developed into a community in a natural sense.

Still, I wouldn’t want legal restrictions against those who would so impoverish themselves by living on a commune, or in Amish enclaves, or attend narrow parochial colleges. People mainly hurt themselves by limiting their experience to mirror images of themselves.

However, a 5th column enemy, like jihadist Islam and Soviet communism before it, requires special consideration. This is a subversive threat. I’d rather see the end to immigration of those who pose a subversive threat than change the laws of our land to restrict our freedoms.

Cultural challenges we can handle, as most people are susceptible to reasonable requests and moral suasion. Communism and Islamism, on the other hand, should be stopped at the border before we have the problem Europe has.

William Zeranski said...

An enclave use to be called a ghetto. People were either forced into a ghetto or they gravitated to them because of language and culture and of course, religious belief. Specifically in the United States, no enclave/ghetto can usurp US law. No other form of law is enforced or can be enforced which violates the Law of the Land.

Even tribal reservations in the US are not above Federal Law, the best example being violent crime such as murder. In the US there are still ‘dry’ localities where no alcohol can be sold. But one can purchase elsewhere and consume alcohol at home. Using alcohol is not a crime, but substance control, laws against the sale, can be made.

So, a Catholic enclave/ghetto could make it illegal to sell birth control, but not make the use of or purchase of same somewhere else illegal.

If muslins want to live in an enclave/ghetto they can, but the Law of the Land cannot be usurped.

Wally Ballou said...

It's not really the "law of the land" that, for instance, alcohol consumption in the home shall not be abridged. States and localities have managed to ban smoking even in many private areas - that apparently does not contravene the federal mandate.

The Catholic community could indeed prohibit the private use of unapproved items - if the ultimate sanction was removal from the community (rather than, say, stoning).

Non-governmental quasi-judicial proceedings and punishments are a grey area. Schools and Universities have internal judiciary proceedings and punishments - they may be flawed in many cases, but things would not necessarily improve if all those were under intense federal review. Again, the ultimate punishment in thses cases is removal from the community.

The ultimate test is whether association is voluntary, and the ultimate penalty for any such community must be exile.

If there is credible and specific evidence of imprisonment, duress, corporal punishment or, God forbid, capital punishment taking place, then obviously a community is liable to forcibel intervention by the civil authority. Rumors don't count (see Waco).

However, in general - voluntary communities of those who would separate themselves from the larger society are as American as pizza pie.

Handsome Hu said...

I think you don't need to be a religion to understand the appeal of an enclave; you just need to be ineffective at persuading others.

Remember the Libertarian-ville planned for the area around Justice Souter's residence? This place was to be Becket's tomb for the scattered "individualist" flock. I can't find a link, but I recall Freestar Media, LLC advocating libertarians, objectivists etc moving to a new location to tip the democratic scales and open up new regulatory possibilities; this occured after they realized the town wasnt going to let them seize Souter's residence for the Lost Freedom Hotel.

When you see how the politics of the intelligent/god design movement had a similar "enclave" strategy in mind, it makes you wonder if modern communication can create not just flash mobs, but flash communities that change the demographics to change the democratic game.

Worst case scenario is our nation becoming pockmarked by separate sovereignties, but I really can't see that happening. The patterns of social organization in the American melting pot do much to persuade preferences away from the enclave and towards integration. The enclaves are made more valueable when there is less appeal, less persuasion (e.g. European economies).

Communication can help organize but the very idea of a walled off entity is threatened in an era where digital information seems at least poised to, if not already engaged in wrecking inelegant or inefficient heirarchies. They might be able to found one of these things; and maybe a new class of luddites might form. But will they even be on the cultural radar screen? Amish make furniture and foods; Muslims will probably offer up their Biblical fan fiction.

Also, consider the advantages of herding your malcontents together, the better to inform yourself of their activities.

Perhaps enclaving is the opposite extreme to the multiculturalist impulse; if were in Huntington's world, the former is a cultural castle and the latter is a spy at the gates. I don't like be so condemnatory, but with Sweden, France, Germany, Britain and Denmark as evidence, I feel like it needed to be said. What makes America valueable is that we dont feel the need to pursue either extreme; were too busy making money, working in cool jobs and raising families. Looks like the Chinese and Indians will be joining us...

Freedom Fighter said...


Here's the difference: The Amish and the Catholics have never attacked America and their communities abide by US law.

A Muslim community under sharia, by definition, could not.

If I were to buy land in say, the Amish part of Lancaster County and build a synogogue, the locals might not attend but I doubt they would try to burn it down or stone anyone who did come in to worship.

Likewise, as a non-believer, I would be perfectly welcome to walk the streets dressed how I wished or even attend the Amish church if I wanted to without fear of violence. That is not true of Islam.

Frankly, because of the Islamic history of violence and intolerance, we need special rules that apply to it.

Eventually, large sectors of Islamic belief if not all will have to be reclassified as a POLITICAL persuasion rather than a religion, and treated accordingly.

Wally Ballou said...

freedom fighter, eh?


Eventually, large sectors of Islamic belief if not all will have to be reclassified as a POLITICAL persuasion rather than a religion, and treated accordingly.

End quote

And how do we "accordingly" treat political thought in America? By banning it? By punishing people with forbidden political ideologies and beliefs?

Way to go.

Here's your brown shirt.

keep fighting freedom.

Handsome Hu said...

uhh, why hello thar, cato

do you like ironies and stuff?

His cynicism is the minority report in Europe; it comes from watching the news.

Your cynicism is presently in charge, and its origins are up to you to explain...

Better to watch the TVs, YouTubes and photoblogs then call eachother brown shirts then maybe?

Where is the obligation for a republic to remain porous to an invasive morbidity?

Wally Ballou said...

I can't top that logic.

Freedom Fighter said...

Check this, `Cato'...(more like Cataline)

The US has ALWAYS placed restrictions on POLITICAL ideologies when it comes to NOT abiding by US law and/or seeking the overthrow of the American government. and even on religions.

That's why the Mormons gave up on polygamy to become part of the United States, and why religions that utilize animal sacrifice are prosecuted for felony animal torture.

As for political ideologies, a good model is how the US treated communists during the Cold War;have whatever beliefs you want, but don't attempt to subvert the country or its laws.

That's ALWAYS been the rule.

As for Islam, if you are too clueless to realize that its ideology and history warrant special protections for the rest of us, I certainly have no intention of waking you up from your nap.

Wally Ballou said...

Thanks for letting me sleep, FF. I envy your moral clarity compared with pore little confused and duped me.

But you are changing your tune.

Your comment certainly seemd to be specifically about "reclassifying" beliefs ("Poltical persuasion" - an ungainly phrase) to act against them. Not punishing actions.

I never suggested that any group should be allowed criminal actions because of their beliefs - only that we should punish the action, not the belief. If that's not what you mean to say, then perhaps I am a poor reader - or perhaps you should write more clearly. If it is what you meant to say, then the brown shirt is yours with my compliments. Wear it with pride.

I'm not usually this grumpy, but I think I've read just one too many comment which affects to "reluctantly conclude" that our deadly national peril compels us to abandon all the principles of freedom of thought and the rule of law.

Anyone who demurs from a stroll off this particular cliff is inevitably denounced as naive. Fine by me. I'm naive. Exult in your sophistication.

Freedom Fighter said...

Well, Cato, I certainly apologize if I contributed to your being grumpy.
And if I appeared overly sarcastic.

But I think you're dealing in sophistry here. Unless I'm missing your point.

Of COURSE, I'm speaking of actions, and I gave several examples. And since we are TALKING about Islam, I addressed myself to that.It would seem that this is obvious, given the topic.

I haven't seen any Amish flying airplanes into buildings lately, or Mormons quoting the Angel Moroni as saying `There shall be no faith in America but that of the Latter Day Saints!'

Once again, if you can't see that a lot of Islamic belief as specified in the Qu'ran and more importantly, as PRACTICED by many Muslims worldwide are not in direct contradiction to US law and our Constitution and will need to be dealt with as such if we are to survive as a free society, there's nothing more for me to say...

I will simply let ongoing events reveal this to you as they occur.

Jason Pappas said...

I agree with FF:

Eventually, large sectors of Islamic belief if not all will have to be reclassified as a POLITICAL persuasion rather than a religion, and treated accordingly.

Islam is a political ideology first and foremost and it was founded as a political/military regime in Medina. I agree we should look to our experience with communism--another subversive political ideology--for a useful frame of reference. There we distinguished between arguing the ideas and urging subversive acts.

kevin said...

Personally, I believe Islam cannot continue as a "religion" as long as it adheres to sharia law. The Inabilty of Muslims to comply with the Constitution should relegate them to politcal status.

Wally Ballou said...

FF et al.

"burning down churches" and stoning people are aginst the law already without any special legislation to outlaw Islamic belief. So what's the call to action here?

Why the "special rules"? What is one example of a "special rule" (I assume by rule you mean law) that circumstances require beyond the existing laws which cover act of violence? What "special protections"? You seem to think these vague phrases point to some specific and self-evident policies. To me the very fact that these supposed rules are "special" is what is un-American about them. Laws are to apply to everyone.

To me, this is exactly the kind of twisted thinking that gives us "hate crime" laws. Laws against murder aren't enough - we need extra-special laws for people who do murder out of racial or other offically specified forms of bigotry. Similarly, we supposedly need special laws against stoning, beheading, arson, beating - if committed by persons acting out of Islamic belief. It would be wildly wrong to excuse any illegal actions because of their ostensibly religious motivation - it is at least as wrong to criminalize the motives rather then merely the acts.

Like FF, I have no more to say - don't know why I bother. It's like picking a scab, I suppose.

Wally Ballou said...

Thanks for the quote. It's unnecessary to point out that that admonition against the enemy within can very easily be misused in the service of tyranny.

I think I should change the name of my sock puppet. I chose "Cato" to suggest the Cato Institute, which in turn bases its "Cato" on the 18th Century "Cato Letters", whose authors took their pseudonym from Cato (the Younger). The connection with the classical Cato, then, is pretty attenuated and really just a distraction.

Charles Martel said...

Excellent article! Thanks.

One exception: "Although there is no doubt that Senator McCarthy went too far and destroyed the lives of many innocent people."

Please give the name of one innocent person who was destroyed by Joesph McCarthy. Thanks.

Callimachus said...

There's some confusion about the Amish reflected here. For instance, they don't have "churches," they meet in one another's homes to worship.

They are fully subject to civil and criminal laws here in Lancaster County. They do apply social codes like "shunning" to one another. They have no rules that can be applied to non-Amish living among them.

They participate in many aspects of the local community -- from fire companies (which greatly benefit them as barn-owners) to local government meetings.

They do not live in enclaves; they tend to live in clusters, for many reasons (for one, you need a certain amount of business to make, say, a harness shop worth running). But they do not seek to exclude anyone else from living within that circle.