Abusing Freedom of Religion
Islam is, first and foremost, an ideology which is the antithesis of American principles and, as such, is not entitled to First Amendment rights. Nevertheless, in this posting I'll abide by the assumption that Islam is a religion.
According to CAIR, some of the practitioners of Islam are particularly pious and intend to disrupt traffic at a busy airport. Not only do these practitioners want to leave their cabs in order to bow in the direction of Mecca, but also they want to leave their cabs at the curb so that they can go inside the airport to complete the ritual ablutions.
CAIR-OH: Prayers Lead to Tickets for Muslim Cabbies
Source: Associated Press
"CLEVELAND - Somali immigrants who work as cab drivers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport say police are ticketing them when they step out of their cabs for traditional Islamic prayer. Police say they are enforcing a requirement that all drivers remain in their vehicles outside the terminal and are trying to maintain order in an increasingly competitive airport cab scene. A sign warns taxi drivers not to leave their vehicles within 300 feet of the terminal or their automobile will be towed. Police aren't towing, but are ticketing for loitering near a public hack and misuse of a cab stand. Those offenses carry a $150 fine, plus $69 in court costs. Members of the Islamic religion are required to have five formal prayers daily, which must be done facing the direction of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, considered the most holy city in Islam. In America, that's usually northeast. Muslims are required to be freshly cleaned with water and recite the prayers in various positions, including standing and kneeling on the ground. The cab drivers say this is why they must leave their cars to wash up in the airport restrooms and to pray in certain areas. 'By law, under the First Amendment, Americans do have the right to freedom of religious expression,' said Julia Shearson, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Cleveland office..."
We're talking about a security threat here! How difficult would it be for a terrorist to leave his cab in time to avoid the detonation of a bomb or other weapon? Furthermore, an airport cab lane is not the place to abandon a vehicle, and signs prohibiting this type of disruption have been in place for years. If these practicioners of Islam are so devout, then let them leave the cab lane and assemble elsewhere. After all, their faith is supposed to matter more than any financial gain or loss, right?
Would any other religious group be accorded consideration in the way that CAIR advocates?
I'm getting fed up with these overreaching accusations of the persecution of Muslims. Another sentence from the article reads "'We are very concerned about any possible profiling,' [Julia Shearson] said. 'Overall, I think that law enforcement, they do try to understand other cultures and religions and we hope that they will work hard to reach out to this particular community and open a channel of dialogue with various leaders.'"
The right to freedom of religion does not apply to the situation at the Cleveland Airport. Let the practitioners of Islam adjust their work and prayer schedules to conform with airport and security regulations.
In the mid-1990's, I took a class of upper-elementary, Christian-school students into Washington, D.C., for a tour of the Capitol Building. Because our Congressional Representative was in a meeting, the tour was delayed, and these very lively students were becoming restless. I could see that some of them were going to get into mischief, and I had to come up with a way to keep them constructively occupied.
Having recently directed this group in a school program, I lined them up on the steps and began directing them in the singing of "America the Beautiful." Several tourists stopped to listen, and a few Hell's Angels bikers removed their skullcaps and covered their hearts--not because the choir of untrained voices was so excellent but because listening to children sing about their nation moves every patriotic heart.
As soon as the students had finished singing, along came the Capitol Police. "You must have a permit to sing here. If you don't cease and desist, we'll have no choice but to arrest you for unlawful assembly." For singing "America the Beautiful"? I suppose it's a good thing that the choir didn't break into "Amazing Grace"!
Of course, not wanting to cause trouble for my school or for myself, I dismissed the choir and used alternative methods to keep the students occupied. But if a similar situation were to arise for me today, I'd let the authorities take me away in cuffs, and I'd go to court to fight for my rights.