July 13, 2005

A Modest Proposal to Congress:
End assylum for Islamsit exiles and make "religious worker" visas predicated on reciprocity of host nations

Today, there are two main sources foreign born Islamist radicalism in the West. The first are political exiles who take advantage of Western tolerance for dissent--even dissent which advocates overthrowing the very liberalism which has generously given them refuge. The second are imams (Muslim clerics) brought to the West to lead congregations of economic immigrants and who bring with them all the social baggage of their native societies--disgust for Western society, conspiracy theories, antisemetism, anti-secularism, and a belief that the ills of the Muslim world can be laid squarely at the feet of Western Imperialism, etc.

Ending both sources of radicalism only requires minor adjustment to present law and, in the end, could prove instrumental in preventing further 7/7 type attacks.

Tony Blair today asserted that he would deport radical Muslim clerics from Britain. A bold move from a country which has historically tolerated the purveyors of hate. It should be remembered that it was from England that an exiled Karl Marx was free to give words to an ideology that would eventually kill tens of millions of people. He fled the corrupt and authoritarian Prussian state to find refuge in the Progressive British one--and then promptly advocated overthrowing both.

For too long those that promote evil ideologies have sought refuge in the pluralism and tolerance of the West. While the term 'political refugee' conjures up images of brave reformers persecuted by totalitarian regimes because of their love of Western style liberalism, the truth is that many refugees are forced into exile because they advocate replacing the current totalitarian regime of a given country with a new form of totalitarianism.

Such is the case with radical Islamists from all over the Middle East who are persecuted for their advocacy of replacing the corrupt secularism, militarism, Arab socialism of present regimes with far worse governments patterned after Afghanistan's Taliban or The Islamic Republic of Iran. Many of these exiles find refuge in the West and under present legal standards they certainly meet every definition of political refugee. In the West these radical purveyors of hate ideology find the resources to give voice to their totalitarian visions.

For instance, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed was forced to flea his native Syria and found refuge in Great Britain because of his association with the Muslim Brotherhood and his support for replacing the secular Baathist regime in Syria with a religious one. According to this Los Angeles Times article, thousands of these refugees blend in with the large Muslim community of England's working class neighborhoods--the vast majority of whom came seeking economic opportunity. Among the immigrant community, these radical refugees find sympathetic ears, raise money, propagandize, and serve as intermediaries to the world-wide Salafist jihadi network.

It is time for Western countries to stop granting political assylum to those that wish only to destroy us.

Granting assylum to Islamists today reveals a suicidal tendency in Western Liberalism. Far worse than selling the rope, we are giving the rope away to those who openly tell us they wish to use it to hang us. It is a Greek tragedy being played out on a civilizational scale.

It is no longer good enough to know that the individual assylum seeker might be persecuted in his home-country, but we must also ask why he would be persecuted?

Are they seeking exile because they are critical of their home governments: alliances with the West? diplomatic relations with Israel? secularism? democracy? tolerance of religious diversity? lax attitudes on immoral behavior?

If the ansewer to any of these questions is "yes" then such a person should seek assylum elsewhere. I hear that Libya is very generous to such people. And Iran.

The second external source for the radicalization of Muslims in the West comes from the fact that the vast majority of Imams are foreign born, socialized under tyrannical systems, and often trained with the help of Saudi money or with the help of radical salafist congregations around the world.

For instance, one of the suspects in the Lodi al Qaeda ring is Shabbir Ahmed. How is it that Shabbir Ahmed got into our country in the first place? He received a "religious worker" visa to come to the U.S. from the madrassas of Pakistan in 2002. His alleged co-conspirator, Mohammad Adil Khan, also came to the U.S. on an R-1 "religious worker" visa.

While I believe it when the Muslim community in Lodi disclaims any association with the radicalism of two of their imams and terrorist intrigue of two of their fellow congregants, it is hard to believe that they were not at least aware of it. These are, for the most part, second or third generation immigrants who are well aware of the norms of acceptable social discoure in our country.

Part of the problem is how radicalism is defined. By far, the vast majority of imams I have heard are radical by American standards. However they may be quite moderate sounding in their own countries. By American standards, advocating religious-law, institutionalized discrimination against religious minorities, and censorship are so-far outside the mainstream that most of us find it a little hard to believe that these views are advocated by moderates in Islamic countries.

What seperates moderates from radicals in the Islamic world is only a matter of degree in how these principles ought to be enforced and what are acceptable methods for reaching these goals. The ends are rarely in dispute between moderate and radical Muslim theologans, only the means to the ends.

The moderate and radical imam both wish to impose sharia (Islamic law). The moderate wishes to install sharia through democratic and constitutional processes, the radical is willing to use violence. But in the end, both wish to end Western secular governments.

The moderate and radical imam both believe that it ought to be illegal to proseletyze Muslims. The moderate may wish only to expell missionaries, fine those caught passing out religous material, or give short jail sentences. The radical may wish to impse the Quran and Hadith prescribed punishment--death by stoning or beheading. But in the end, both wish to end freedom of relilgious expression.

Thus, even moderate religious scholars trained at the most moderate religious schools throughout the Islamic world bring to our societies an ideology antithetical to liberal notions of freedom of religion, expression, and secular governance.

Perhaps even worse than the ideology of Islamism is the cultural worldview which they bring with them and pass on to their congregants. For instance, a Pew survey in 2004 found that 51%-55% of Pakistanis believed the U.S. War in Iraq was either motivated by a desire to target unfriendly Muslim governments, to control Mideast oil, or to dominate the world. In Jordan the percent of population believing in such conspiratorial motives reaches 70%.

This anti-American worldview is taught in mosques, reinforced by sympathetic but homegrown Leftists, and then bolstered by media images which show the innocent casualties of war, equates the death of Palestinian terrorists with Israeli civilians, and which overhype even the smallest of abuses by American soldiers.

They come here as our guests and abuse our hospitality. But if these people are our guests, then why do we keep inviting them back?

In the U.S. today there are approximately 26,000 foreigners who have come as either 'religious workers' or their dependents. Of course, a large number of these are Christian missionaries, priests, and clergy. How many of these, though, are imams trained in traditional Islamic tenents antithetical to Western liberal values and socialized in anti-American and conspiracy ridden societies?

Is there a way, then, to reform the R-1 visa program yet remain loyal to our deeply held commitment to religious pluralism? A way which would neutralize criticisms from the left yet keep out the vast majority of those who would abuse our hospitality and wish to destroy our way of life? Perhaps.

No 'religious worker' visa should be issued to any country which does not allow recipricol 'religious workers' to enter their country.

Simply put, if you don't allow our religious people to legally set up shop in your country we will not allow your religious people to legally set up shop in our country.

How many foreign born imams would this affect? Well, to be honest, all of them. There is not a single Muslim country that allows foreign born 'religious workers' to openly practice their faith. None. Nado. Zilcho.

You see, when Muslims claim Islamic law tolerates the practice of Christianity and Judaism, they don't mean tolerance the way we mean tolerance. They mean, you can practice your faith in private, you can go to church, but you cannot fulfill the Great Commission nor could you read the Torah in public. They don't tolerate that.

So, enforcing reciprocity would mean that no imam could come to the U.S. if they were a citizen of any country in the Islamic world. ALL. OF. THEM.

The time has come to end assylum for Islamist fanatics and to end the inflow of religious leaders with the potential of turning our own citizens against their home country. Both of these proposals also have the added advantage that they do not require radical alterations of the law and do not erode the core value of religious tolerance and political pluralism which might be considered defining attributes of Western culture. Turning exiles away who openly wish our destruction--even through democratic meeans--seems a perfectly reasonable response by any society that wishes perpetuity. And reciprocity in the visa process is the norm rather than the exception. Very few countries, for instance, allow American citizens to enter visa free when the U.S. requires visas of their citizens.

Ending the dominance of these foreign born imams and cutting off the flow of radical exiles would go a long way in protecting Western liberalism from the long-term threat of Islamofascism. It would not end all home-grown terrorism nor would it mean that Muslim immigrants would automatically embrace the key value of secular government, but it certainly would cut off the source of much of the anti-Western sentiment so readily found in Mosques all throughut Europe and North America.

UPDATE: Andrew Cochran's post here at the Counterterrorism blogs meshes nicely. Both the Lodi and 7/7 bombers share the Pakistan madrassa connection. Suspicions are mounting in the 7/7 case that there is another similarity: that either a radical imam or a radical exile used the host countries liberalism against them.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:46 PM | Comments |