Monday, March 19, 2007

Muslims Often Create Their Own Problems

Item I - Muslim cashiers at some Minneapolis Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions. Some Muslim cashiers had declined to scan products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or some customers scanned the items themselves.

Item II - Citing their religious beliefs, some Muslim taxi drivers from Somalia have refused to transport customers in Minneapolis carrying or suspected of carrying alcohol. It started with one driver a few years ago, but the average number of fare refusals has grown to about three a day, a spokesman said. "Travelers often feel surprised and insulted," he says. "Sometimes, several drivers in a row refuse carriage."

Item III - Six Muslim imams who were forcibly removed from a US Airways flight last year and are now suing the airline for discrimination may also be suing some passengers who were aboard the flight. In the lawsuit filed last week, the imams say that unnamed "John Doe" passengers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reported that they engaged in "suspicious" behavior — praying in the terminal — before they boarded the plane on Nov. 20.

One might be tempted to ask, “What is going on in Minneapolis?” But that is the wrong question; these problems are not of Minneapolis’ making.

One of the many great things about the United States is our recognition and protection of personal freedoms, and those include the freedom to worship as one chooses, or to not worship at all. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Muslims, theists and atheists alike have the same rights in this regard; they are free to follow their beliefs, so long as they don’t break laws. So, what’s the problem?

Muslims don’t have to give a ride to someone carrying items that are prohibited by their religion, or to sell such items to someone. Muslims have the right to pray whenever and wherever they please (except, one would guess, in public schools). This is not about what rights Muslims have in the United States. To paraphrase the Captain (Strother Martin) in “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we have here is … failure to integrate.” What Muslims must do is to determine how our society functions, and then figure out how to fit into it. If Muslims don’t want to take all customers that want a cab ride, don’t be a taxi driver. If Muslims don’t want ring up all the products their employer’s customers want to purchase, don’t be a checkout clerk. If Muslims don’t want to be singled out and embarrassed or inconvenienced, then don’t do things that in the United States are considered unusual and suspicious in airports and on airplanes.

Attention Muslims in the United States: This is not rocket science, folks. It is your obligation to adapt to our culture, not our obligation to adapt our culture to suit you.

You have two choices: Learn to fit in, or go somewhere else.

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