Geller Report
Hugh Fitzgerald: Is the Niqab Ban Really “A Violation of Human Rights”?
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 23:33:03 +0000

GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. Human Rights Committee said on October 22  that France’s ban on the niqab, the full-face Islamic veil, was a violation of human rights and called on it to review the legislation.

France had failed to make the case for its ban, the committee said, and gave Paris 180 days to report back to say what actions it had taken.

“In particular, the Committee was not persuaded by France’s claim that a ban on face covering was necessary and proportionate from a security standpoint or for attaining the goal of ‘living together’ in society,” it said.

The panel of 18 independent experts oversees compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Implementation of its decisions is not mandatory, but under an optional protocol of the treaty, France has an international legal obligation to comply “in good faith”.

The French ban was not on the niqab alone, but on all coverings of the face, no matter what kind: kerchiefs, balaclavas, burqas. There were two main reasons given by the French for their law. The first, and most important, was security. It is impossible to identify people who are wearing the niqab or burka. These have been used too often in the commission of crimes. Suicide bombers, murderers, jewel thieves, “honor” killers, throwers-of-acid, bank robbers, street criminals, have all been known to wear niqabs. or burkas, to remain unidentifiable. In one city, Philadelphia, there  have been more than two dozen cases of criminals wearing the niqab or burka (a full face-and-body covering, with a mesh veil over the eyes) while committing their crimes.

The niqab and burqa full-face veils have been banned not just in France, but in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and in such largely-Muslim lands as Chad, Cameroon, Morocco, Niger, and Congo-Brazzaville, with partial bans in a dozen other countries in Europe and Africa, including the Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey. There have been many high-profile crimes involving niqabs. An embezzler escaped from Dubai wearing a niqab. Three thieves were buzzed into a jewelry store in London, all wearing burqas, where they proceeded to rob and kill the store owner; in London, someone who threw acid in the face of a girl wore a niqab that allowed him/her to escape identification; niqab-wearers have murdered people in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Chad, Cameroon.

A French foreign ministry spokesman said the law was legitimate, necessary and respected religious freedom. The ban applies to hiding one’s face, not to any type of religious clothing that leaves the face uncovered, he told reporters.

The French spokesman also pointed out that both France’s constitutional court and the European Court of Human Rights, whose rulings are binding, had upheld the full-face veil ban, saying it did not violate religious freedom.

The European Court of Human Rights upheld the burqa/niqab ban in 2014, ruling that banning the veil does not breach human rights. Apparently that was not authoritative enough for the U.N.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee disagreed with this in its statement on October saying the ban disproportionately harmed the right of women to manifest their religious beliefs and could lead to them being confined at home and marginalized.

So the threat to security is deemed less of a worry than the possibility that a Muslim woman might be “confined at home and marginalized.” There are ways to handle that problem through the legal system. It can be made illegal for anyone to confine a woman at home because of her dress. If Muslim men don’t like this law, perhaps they will reconsider whether they want to remain in a land where the Infidels still write the laws. As for women being “marginalized”in the larger society because they cannot go out in their niqabs, surely wearying the niqab is itself the strongest possible sign of self-marginalization. It signals that the wearer is a devout Muslim, does not wish to “take Christians or Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other,” and knows that the Unbelievers are “the most vile of created beings.” It’s not the banning, but the wearing, of the niqab that creates marginalization. Muslim women who do not cover are much more likely to integrate, even if only partially, into a non-Muslim society.

The committee’s findings follow complaints by two French women convicted in 2012 under a 2010 law stipulating that “No one may, in a public space, wear any article of clothing intended to conceal the face”.

Nothing is said about the niqab. The ban refers to “any article of clothing intended to conceal the face.”

In its findings the panel called on France to pay the two women compensation.

Under the ban, anyone wearing the full-face veil in public is liable to a fine of 150 euros ($170) or lessons in French citizenship. According to Metronews media, 223 fines were handed out in 2015 for wearing a full veil in public.

Other countries in Europe have introduced legislation on Islamic dress. Denmark’s parliament enacted a ban on wearing of face veils in public in May. Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have also imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.

France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million or more out of a population of 67 million. The place of religion and religious symbols worn in public can be a matter of controversy in the staunchly secular country.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee came to similar conclusions on the 2008 case of a woman sacked by a creche for wearing a veil. In September, a top French judge was quoted by newspaper Le Monde as saying that while not binding, the panel’s decisions might still influence French case law.

The refusal of the U.N. Human Rights Committee to take seriously the security concerns of the French government, concerns which are shared by many other countries, including several that are Muslim, that have similarly banned the niqab and burqa — when there has been so much evidence to justify that concern — is maddening. Fortunately, the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s ruling is not mandatory and, one hopes that the French government, free to ignore it, will do just that.

If a Muslim woman cannot go out in public in France unless she wears a niqab, that is her problem — and her husband’s. It is not a reason for the French state to let down its guard against the real and present danger of niqabbed criminals. She and her husband may find that as a  consequence, France is not for them. In which case: Bon Voyage.

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Hugh Fitzgerald: Beyond Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Other Genocide (Part Two)
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 20:43:01 +0000
The latest news from Nigeria shows you do not have to be in Boko Haram, or be in the Hausa tribe to which Boko Haram members belong, to engage in Muslim terrorism. Still more deadly than the raids by Boko Haram have been the attacks by anonymous members of the Muslim Fulani tribe.
This other terrorism is by herders, members of the Muslim Fulani tribe, who have been swooping down in lightning attacks on Christian villages, and killing men, women, and children indiscriminately. Since 2001, more than 60,000 Christian villagers have been killed by Fulani herdsmen.
Some apologists for Islam claim that the attacks have nothing to do with religion, but are only “clashes between” pastoral farmers, including some who are Fulani, and Fulani herdsmen, over land. A few such clashes have been reported, but at least 90% of the victims are known to have been Christian. And the Fulani rationale is that the world belongs to Allah, and to Muslims, the “best of peoples.” Christians can have no property claim superior to that of Muslims.
The Christians themselves have no doubt that they are being targeted not because they are farmers, but because they are Christians. The Catholic bishop of Kaduna – an area that has suffered many attacks in recent years – recently issued a statement, saying “The Fulani want to subjugate Christians, disintegrate the country, weaken the gospel and destroy the social and economic life of the people. There is a hidden agenda targeted at the Christian majority of southern Kaduna. This jihad is well-funded, well-planned and executed by agents of destabilization.”
“According to the expansionist principle of Dar al Islam (house of Islam), everything belongs to Allah directly and to his followers indirectly, including the land where the Fulani want to let their cattle graze.”
“’They believe it is right for them to take those resources by force from infidels and apostates,’explains former Open Doors’ West Africa researcher Arne Mulders.”
The Fulani have mostly escaped the kind of attention the world media has focused on the kidnapped girls of Chibok. That is for several reasons. First, there is no particular group, no Fulani equivalent of the Hausa Boko Haram, on which to focus world attention. Boko Haram makes for riveting copy, attention-getting photographs of foul fiends, posing menacingly for their close-ups. The Fulani attackers are nameless, faceless, and there are so many different groups of them engaged in these massacres. They come into a Christian village, burning huts, and killing as many inhabitants as they can, and then disappearing. They do not wait for their closeup.
Second, when you have victims who have been kidnapped, you can allow yourself to believe that your taking a hashtag stand on the outside may help to free them. Hence the spectacle of Michele Obama making much of her joining the #BringBackOurGirls effort. Tens of thousands of others subscribed to that hashtag, but none of it had any effect. Boko Haram allowed pictures of themselves, and of the kidnapped girls, to be taken and disseminated in the world media. You see the girls’ pictures, you read stories about their families’ anguish. You take a greater interest in the story. The Fulani do not kidnap, but kill, their victims, and pictures of corpses lack the human interest of hundreds of kidnapped girls. As for the villages that have been reduced to ashes by the Fulani, they too are hardly mediagenic.
Those who are following this endless series of Fulani attacks, and wondering why they get so much less attention than the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, have to demand that  more attention be paid to this story. They can ask their newspapers and television news programs to keep us up to date on the “Fulani killing of Christians in Nigeria.” If a Senator — likely someone who is a devout Christian — could be persuaded to take on the cause of the martyred Christians of Nigeria, and  bring their plight, and the role of their Fulani tormentors, to the world’s attention from the bully pulpit of the Senate floor, or from  television news programs such as “60 Minutes”  (a snappy title would help: “Beyond Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Other Genocide”) that would be willing to investigate and report on the atrocities being committed, and also give that impassioned Senator a hearing, that would be a great help. Greater awareness of what the Fulani attackers, largely unchecked, are doing, might then lead to offers of assistance — or threats of withdrawal of assistance — by the American to the Nigerian government. In turn that might lead to a much more vigorous policy by the Nigerians, of protecting the Christian villagers, and punishing their Fulani tormentors.

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Judge bars New Hampshire proof of residency requirement for new voters
Tue, 23 Oct 2018 19:00:36 +0000

This ruling will die once its heard at the Supreme Court, but that’s hardly the point. The temporary injunction against the Republican-backed law comes two weeks before U.S. Congressional elections that will determine whether opposition Democrats or U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republicans retain full control of the federal government’s legislative branch.

The idea that proof of residency because saying it would lengthen lines at polling places is ludicrous.

Judge bars New Hampshire proof of residency requirement for new voters

By Sharon Bernstein, Reuters, October 23, 2018:

(Reuters) – A New Hampshire judge on Monday put on hold a law requiring some voters to present proof of residency when they register, saying it would lengthen lines at polling places and make it difficult for students, disabled voters and others to cast ballots.

The temporary injunction against the Republican-backed law comes two weeks before U.S. Congressional elections that will determine whether opposition Democrats or U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republicans retain full control of the federal government’s legislative branch.

The measure, which passed largely along party lines and went into effect last year, required those seeking to register within 30 days of an election to present documents proving that they live in the area where they intend to vote. Without such proof, they must agree to either send it in within 10 days or the state will seek to verify their domicile.

The law does not require proof of address when voting.

“Where the law threatens to disenfranchise an individual’s right to vote, the only viable remedy is to enjoin its enforcement,” Presiding Justice Kenneth C. Brown wrote in his decision for the Hillsborough Superior Court Northern District in Manchester.

He added that the registration form is too complicated for many people to understand.

The legislation is the subject of a lawsuit filed by League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and other groups, who said it would disenfranchise numerous groups including students, the disabled and homeless voters. The measure will be put on hold while the merits of the case are decided.

New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, welcomed the ruling.

“This law undermines our state’s reputation for holding free and fair elections, and it hurts our democracy,” she said in a statement.

New Hampshire Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said through a spokeswoman on Monday that the state was reviewing the court order and would soon communicate its next steps. She did not say whether that would include appealing the injunction.

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