Mar 22, 2006 3:25 pm


Such questions are no longer theoretical. While Muslim organizations first established enclaves in Europe,[1] the trend is now crossing the Atlantic. Some Islamist community leaders in the United States are challenging the principles of assimilation and equality once central to the civil rights movement, seeking instead to live according to a separate but equal philosophy. The Gwynnoaks Muslim Residential Development group, for example, has established an informal enclave in Baltimore because, according to John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative, a Baltimore-based Muslim advocacy group,"there was no community in the U.S. that showed the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure."[2]

Baltimore is not alone. In August 2004, a local planning commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, granted The Islamic Center for Human Excellence authorization to build an internal Islamic enclave to include a mosque, a school, and twenty-two homes.[3] While the imam, Aquil Hamidullah, says his goal is to create"a clean community, free of alcohol, drugs, and free of gangs,"[4] the implications for U.S. jurisprudence of this and other internal enclaves are greater: while the Little Rock enclave might prevent the sale of alcohol, can it punish possession and in what manner? Can it force all women, be they residents or visitors, to don Islamic hijab (headscarf)? Such enclaves raise the fundamental questions of when, how, and to what extent religious practice may supersede the U.S. Constitution.

Read David Kennedy Houck's full analysis. Personally, I thought the debate was over when Mormon polygamy was outlawed. But I am no longer sure.

In any case, this is another example of the basic reality. Islamism is not a problem over there in Afghanistan where apostasy may be punished by beheading, in Iraq where Sistani calls for"the worse possible" death to homosexuals or in Saudi Arabia where an eye for an eye is taken literally. It is not even only a European problem. It is becoming an American problem and it must be dealt with promptly.

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