Islam and When Religious Tolerance Becomes Dangerous
In Philadelphia, a 5-year-old little girl was removed from school by a woman claiming to be her mother. The school didn’t quite follow proper procedures, and the end result was that the girl was missing for under 24 hours. The local press and news shows duly got the word out, and an Amber Alert was issued statewide before the end of the night.
Thankfully, the girl was found early in the morning, and the Amber Alert was cancelled. While the very basic facts of the case are clear, there are quite a few different versions of the final result – details that generally do not matter though, since the girl is apparently safe now. However, one very important part of this story, while not overlooked, has been glossed over by the press so far.
The girl’s family is Muslim, and her grandfather, Asim Abdur Rashid, is a leader in the Greater Philadelphia Muslim community. This fact probably wouldn’t have been mentioned at all, if it wasn’t for the fact that the individual that abducted this girl was wearing traditional Muslim dress – a woman that had her face entirely covered, except an opening for her eyes. It might even be argued later that part of the reason why the school did not insist on positive identification of this woman was the desire to respect her religious beliefs, and not require the removal of her veil before allowing her to take the child.
Another point that may be argued later, especially if the kidnapper is apprehended, is whether or not the child’s grandfather had anything to do with the crime. Given that Asim Abdur Rashid had apparently been vocally objecting to men wearing women’s traditional Muslim garb to hide their identities while committing crimes, it’s not unreasonable to think that the abduction of his granddaughter could have been related to his public statements. Of course, he doesn’t see it that way.
“Right now my concern is for my granddaughter and her safe return. I have no idea why somebody would come and pretend to be her mother,” said Asim Abdur Rashid.
Given the political climate in Philadelphia, it is highly unlikely that any of these issues will be addressed, regardless of what is found out about this crime in the coming days and weeks. The fact that the press has already carefully avoided words like “kidnap” and “burqa” is telling. And the likelihood that city leaders will do anything to address what can now become a serious safety concern in city schools – since someone has done the crime – is very slim. One local member of the political world there agreed that these are issues that will likely be swept under the rug – off-the-record, of course. And that is what makes this desire to be politically correct, and afford a great deal of deference toward Muslims and their traditions a potentially dangerous situation. Many will undoubtedly miss the irony that the Imam involved in this story was complaining about criminals using burqas, but at the same time, he would probably insist that authorities continue to respect women from his Mosque. He probably would not insist that they prove their identities with burqas removed, before claiming children in schools, in spite of what happened to his own granddaughter. Maybe it will take an unhappy ending to get to that point.