Muneer I Ahmad writes: On both sides of the Atlantic, courts this week have addressed the relationship of Islam to the west, but with radically different approaches and outcomes. In the US, federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland have halted Donald Trump’s second attempt at a Muslim ban. Meanwhile, the European court of justice, Europe’s highest court, has upheld the right of private employers to ban Muslim women from wearing headscarves.
American and European law each embrace principles of religious neutrality and non-discrimination, but the divergent application of those laws reflects different levels of discomfort with religion generally and a demographic anxiety with Islam in particular.
In both the US and Europe, politicians proselytize about Islam as a mortal threat to western civilization, with high degrees of success. The victory of Trump, the ascendancy of Marine Le Pen in France, and the rightward lurch in the Netherlands – notwithstanding the electoral defeat – of Geert Wilders, provide ample evidence that such populism pays political dividends. And yet, while European courts regulate the veil year after year, American courts by and large have refused to take the anti-Muslim bait. [Continue reading…]