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I agree, except for one point

Reader comment on item: [Finding Moderate Muslims:] Do you believe in modernity?

Submitted by David Bernstein (United States), Nov 26, 2003 at 09:26

I appreciate the litany of questions designed to distinguish moderates from radicals. I have a quibble, however, with the following sentence: "When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers' license pictures), which should give way?

As the director of a regional office of a major Jewish organization, I am constantly fighting for greater religious accommodation, to ensure that orthodox Jews can take off for the sabbath, that Christians can opt out of sex ed, and that Muslim girls can wear religiously appropriate clothing to gym class. Our standard has always been that the government should have a compelling interest before interfering with religious practice. This can mean challenging the constitionality of some laws.

While I agree that the government does indeed have such an interest in requiring photos on drivers' licenses, there is nothing inherently wrong with challenging suh a rule.

I do get your point: that moderates of all religions must respect the rule of law in a secular society, even when it conflicts with religious practice. I just want to make sure that, as we go about the necessary work of screening our Muslim interlocutors, we apply a standard no greater than that to which we , ourselves, would want to be held.

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Daniel Pipes replies:

I agree with the basic point, but the operative words in my question are "conflict with secular laws": not working on Sabbath or sending children to sex education classes do not conflict with any laws - and neither does having girls modestly dressed.

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