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Potential USCIS questions to screen Islamists who reject Constitutional principles

Reader comment on item: Trump: You Should Ban Islamists, Not Muslims

Submitted by John Cavanaugh (United States), Dec 13, 2015 at 00:23

Dear Dr. Pipes:

I like your call to research all applicants for immigration to the U.S., with particular concern regarding "those Muslims who seek to apply Islamic law, oppress women and non-Muslims, and establish a worldwide caliphate." May I suggest that specific questions be considered for inclusion on USCIS immigration forms (possibly I-129F, I-130, I-485, I-687, I-698, I-914, I-918, and N-400) with this concern in mind.

The purpose of doing so would be to clarify not so much the theological opinions of an applicant (e.g., whether or not Muhammad ever was blessed with a heavenly vision), but instead the applicant's legal-political views re their potential incompatibility with the American heritage as widely understood. USCIS forms for decades have asked applicants if they might have Nazi, communist, or other totalitarian backgrounds and so it could also become a matter of standard policy to ask applicants their views regarding sharia law.

Here are some examples of possible questions:

1. Do you support the use of violence or military conquest to impose sharia law on others?

2. In your opinion, should the United States Constitution be subordinated to sharia law?

3. Do you believe that sharia police should patrol Muslim-majority neighborhoods in order to enforce conformity with sharia law?

4. Do you support waging armed conflict against infidels who deny the divine authority of your faith?

5. Do you support the enslavement of those who deny the truth of your faith?

6. Suppose someone converted from your religion to another religion; should this convert be punished by execution, flogging with a whip or stick, or not at all?

7. Do you believe that blasphemy against what you hold most sacred should be punished by execution, flogging with a whip or stick, or not at all?

8. Suppose that two adults had voluntary sexual relations, but they were not married in accord with your religious views; in your opinion, should they be executed?

9. Do you support the crucifixion, mutilation, or dismemberment of thieves?

10. Do you believe that it should be illegal for women to drive automobiles? Work outside the home? Travel in buses or subways with men? Or appear in public with their faces uncovered?

11. Suppose that a husband believed that his wife had acted very badly; do you believe that he should be allowed to hit her?

12. Suppose that someone acted very badly and brought dishonor upon his or her family; should a family member be allowed to kill the person who dishonored the family?

13. If someone drinks alcohol or gambles, should she or he be flogged as punishment?

14. Suppose that deceiving others in an immigration interview could further a goal of religious conquest. If so, would it be reasonable for others to trust that you have answered all questions with completely truthfulness?

The exact wording of questions matters considerably. The terms "Islamist" "jihadist," and "oppress" might be subjectively interpreted, and so the above asks questions about particular cases, with particular consideration for beliefs regarding constitutionally-protected liberties and equal protection. The questions should use language that would be clear to those for whom English is a second language, and they should be understandable in varied cultures. While the term "sharia law" has religious aspects, here the concern is not with theology but with a political-legal system.

In principle, a pattern of disrespect for religious liberty or equal protection in an applicant's answers could be used as a basis for denying an application, regardless of the applicant's theological opinions.

Any thoughts?


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Very useful questions. I have added them to http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/10/finding-moderate-muslims-more-questions

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