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Why California Will be a Significant State in Banning Sharia Law

 

Background

California’s significance lies in its size of its population (38.8 million as of 2014). California is the largest state in the union as to its population. Otherwise, Alaska claims the trophy for land mass, with California in third place.).

California is the most populous sub-national entity in North America. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world. It has a larger population than all of Canada and Australia. Its population is one third larger than that of the next largest state, Texas. California surpassed New York to become the most populous state in 1962.

No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California’s population, making the state a minority-majority state. Non-Hispanic whites make up 40.1% of the population. Spanish is the state’s second most spoken language. Areas with especially large Spanish speaking populations include Los Angeles metropolitan area, the California-Mexico border counties of San Diego and Imperial, and the San Joaquin Valley.  Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English, a proportion far higher than any other state.

 

Muslim Population in the United States and California

     There are an estimated 5 million Muslims in the United States. Twenty percent or 1,000,000 Muslims live in California.

 

     Geographical Distribution:  The table below represents a breakdown by states of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. It shows that there are an estimated 3.3.  Million Muslims in these states. The figure represents 62 percent of the estimated 5 million Muslims living in the United States. 

Muslim State Population Table 

  Muslim Population   (1,000)  Percentage Total Muslim Population  Percent of Total State Population 
California 1,000 20.0 3.4
New York 800 16.0 4.7
Illinois 420 8.4 3.6
New Jersey 200 4.0 2.5
Indiana 180 3.6 3.2
Michigan 170 3.4 1.8
Virginia 150 3.0 2.4
Texas 140 2.8 0.7
Ohio 130 2.6 1.2
Maryland 70 1.4 1.4

* Estimates under column 2 have been rounded to the nearest even number.

The list below shows the number of facilities used by Muslims for religious activities and community affairs:

Mosques/Islamic Centers 843
Islamic Schools 165
Associations 426
Publications   89

There are 165 Islamic Schools in the United States, of which 92 are full time. Figures here for Masjids/Islamic Centers are based on directory listings.

Note: The exact number of businesses owned and operated by Muslims is unavailable, but they are estimated in the thousands. These preliminary findings represent data collected during 1986-1992.

Controversy

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized because of perceived conflicts between their religious beliefs and mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis –Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner. There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientele.

Based on data from a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, their graph records the distribution of feelings of U.S. Muslims on the topic of suicide bombings, separated by age group.

Terrorism that involved Muslim perpetrators began in the United States with the 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. The latest was the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in Massachusetts. After the September 11 attacks and the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, there was concern about the potential radicalization of American Muslims. A 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, on the other hand 11% said it could be “rarely justified.”

Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). A March 2010 Bipartisan Policy Center paper points out an increasing number of American Muslims are playing high-level operational roles in al-Qaeda and aligned groups, as well as a larger numbers of American Muslims who are attaching themselves to these groups.

Between 2001 and the end of 2009, there were 46 publicly reported incidents of “domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism” that involved at least 125 people between 2001 and the end of 2009. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to 13 in 2009.

While the seeming increase in cases may be alarming, half “involve single individuals, while the rest represent ‘tiny conspiracies,’ ” according to Congressional testimony.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by the University of North Carolina indicated that the yearly number of cases of alleged plots by Muslim-Americans appears to be declining. The total of 20 indictments for terrorism in 2011 is down from 26 in 2010 and 47 in 2009 (the total since 9/11 is 193). The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism also fell, from 27 individuals in 2010 to just eight in 2011 (the total since 9/11 stands at 462). Also in apparent decline is the number of actual attacks: Of the 20 suspects indicted for terrorism, only one was charged with carrying out a terrorist act. This number is down from the six individuals charged with attacks in 2010. The study’s author concludes that the “limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim-American terrorism would escalate.”

Muslim Americans are significantly represented among those who tip authorities off to alleged plots having given 52 of the 140 documented tips regarding individuals involved in violent terrorist plots since 9/11.

Extremism in the United States

At least one American not of recent immigrant background, John Walker Lindh, has been imprisoned, convicted on charges of working with the Taliban and carrying weapons against American soldiers. He had converted to Islam while in the United States, moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and then went to Pakistan, where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Another American that was not of recent immigrant background, Jose Padilla (prisoner), of Puerto Rican decent and the first Hispanic-American to be imprisoned and convicted on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb (“dirty bomb”) attack.

He was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. He had converted to Islam while serving his last jail sentence in prison, and went to Pakistan where he was recruited into Al-Qaeda.

Islamophobia

     A 2011 Gallup poll report has stated that there has been an increase in Islamophobia over the past decade and defined it as “An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.” A 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating, which is lower than the 41% cold rating received by atheists.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also drawn fire for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan-Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money.

Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state. Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush’s actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler’s actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison’s remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was “inappropriate” for him to have made the comparison.

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Muslim Arab Americans, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture’s holidays were not included.

Local parent Elizabeth Zahedan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group’s goal.” I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people.” However, the district’s superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they “tone down” activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

Comments

     Totalitarian regimes based on a religion carry no more weight than totalitarian regimes whose primary motives are based on greed for resources such as land, oil, or raw power and control over others. Sometimes such regimes are one and the same.

In a civilized world people’s individuality is put first in harmony with the community in which they live. People are free to pursue their own individual dreams and live out their lives to the best of their ability according to common sense and the rule of law, and supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights espoused in 1948 by the United Nations.

In the weeks and months ahead, a five-part series will be posted that delves into the psychology and sociology of Religious Fanaticism. In part five of the series I will present the seminal work of the late sociologist/philosopher/longshoreman, Eric Hoffer.

I leave you now with one of his many quotes about—The True Believer.

“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” ― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

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