Sharia Law in Minnesota?

Today I saw something disturbing. Someone I know posted about how Somalian immigrants are taking over America, and are moving toward instituting Sharia law. Her reaction was, “This needs to stop”.

If I believed that Sharia law was actually being enforced in Minnesota, I’d agree wholeheartedly. But after watching the video, I was struck by the attitude, which lands somewhere on the scale of cultural insensitivity and racism, that, in this report, revealed an awful double standard. Here is the Fox News clip that was posted:

Based on the incidents listed in this video, according to the commentator from Fox News, these Somalian immigrants are clearly bringing Sharia law to the United States. Here are the snapshots of sharia law he mentions:

  1. Taxi drivers refusing customers who are carrying alcohol, traveling with dogs, or who are otherwise unclean based on Sharia law or customs.
  2. Target check-out employees who refuse to handle pork products.
  3. Somalian couple found with Khat, a mildly hallucinogenic drug (that seems to have the same effects as strong coffee).

People who are offended by being refused by a taxi seem to have forgotten another recent story that had many of them up in arms: Hobby Lobby’s refusal to add contraceptives to their benefit plans. There has been a groundswell of support for Hobby Lobby based on the belief that the consciences of owners and workers should not be required to compromise in order to stay in business. And herein lies the double standard. Let me demonstrate by creating my own MadLib sentence.

  • The owners of Hobby Lobby should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding birth control.
  • The owners of a bakery should be able to refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality.
  • The owners of a few taxi cabs should be refuse to accommodate those who do not share their religious beliefs about alcohol or dogs.

See that? Same sentence, same issue, totally different reactions from the same, conservative, religious, Fox-News-Watching crowd. Now can you see that double-standard?

Next up, the issue of the conscientious cashier. To my knowledge, the cashier did not tell the customer that he or she was not allowed to buy bacon. The cashier merely refused to handle the product him/herself. To me that means that he or she was not forcing his or her religion on anyone else, but was doing what all Americans should appreciate – maintaining his or her religion without forcing others to conform.

The real question is whether or not this cashier should have taken the job without letting the manager know his or her restrictions. Maybe the cashier should have said something first, or the employer should have made the requirement to not refuse service of this kind to any customer part of the job description.

As far as khat goes, I really don’t understand what this has to do with Sharia law. Is khat really mentioned in Sharia law?And does it matter? There are plenty of Americans smoking marijuana every day. East African immigrants do not have a monopoly on mildly hallucinogenic drugs, and until they do, I don’t see khat as any more of a problem than anyone else taking too many vicodin or growing pot in their basements.

It is true that Somali immigrants don’t always assimilate, and that they’re often not the best winter drivers. But I think we need to remember that our ancestors were immigrants too. My family still makes German Mennonite food, even though I’m a fourth-generation American, and there are undoubtedly other cultural behaviors that have been passed down even this far! We cannot expect new immigrants to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of a European culture. Ever. But we can expect them, over time, to become fourth-generation Americans with remnants of an African culture….just not for a few more generations.

Let’s give them time. They’re not changing our laws, they’re just living out their culture in the midst of ours – just like our ancestors did years ago.