April 05, 2007

Mixed Emotions On Patrick Move

I generally support many of the ideas put forward by State Senator Dan Patrick. Even when I don't, I at least respect where he is coming from. Unfortunately, he has really blown it this time.

Republican Sen. Dan Patrick on Wednesday boycotted the first prayer delivered in the Texas Senate by a Muslim cleric, and then praised religious tolerance and freedom of speech in an address at the end of the day's session.

"I think that it's important that we are tolerant as a people of all faiths, but that doesn't mean we have to endorse all faiths, and that was my decision," he said later.

"I surely believe that everyone should have the right to speak, but I didn't want my attendance on the floor to appear that I was endorsing that."

Patrick, a conservative radio talk show host from Houston and self-professed Christian, said he wasn't the only senator to miss the invocation — in English and song — by the Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque.

I'm sorry, but being present for an invocation does not legitimize the faith of the person offering that invocation -- and if it does, then surely that makes the ACLU right on the issue of invocations being constitutionally suspect, especially if they are limited to representatives of the Christian and Jewish faiths.

And the bigger problem is that Patrick's more important point got overshadowed by that stupid part of his objection -- an objection to the individual who was selected to be the first Muslim to offer the invocation for the Texas Senate. Over at Lone Star Times (started but no longer owned by Patrick, and for which I was one of the original group of contributors), they offer a much more serious basis for objecting to Imam Yusuf Kavakci.

The prayer to begin this morning’s Texas Senate session was given by Imam Yusuf Kavakci, a Turkish-born Muslim preacher who runs the Islamic Association of North Texas.

In 2004, Kavakci was a featured speaker at a conference in Irving entitled “A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary.” The conference, honoring Ayatollah Khomeini, discussed such moderate, genteel topics as… worldwide Islamic revolution.

Here’s a flyer.

The guy also has an ugly tendency to praise guys like Hasan al-Turabi (Osama’s buddy who helped establish sharia in Sudan) and Yusuf Qaradawi (who thinks suicide bombings are just peachy.)

Muslim apologists constantly lecture America that jihadists are a tiny minority of Muslims, that the overwhelming majority are moderate, peace-loving folks.

Out of all those moderate Muslims, we couldn’t do any better than this guy?

I'm all for having an imam in to do the invocation -- but seriously, is this the right man for the job? Unfortunately, Patrick's RELIGIOUS objection to the imam made it impossible for anyone to raise a principled objection to Kavakci without being tied to the religiously exclusive objections Dan voiced.

Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News offers this objection to the choice of Kavakci to do the invocation -- the ideologies of the Islamists and extremists with whom the imam and his mosque have associated themselves, including Islamic "scholars" who call for jihad against Jews.

Does Imam Kavakci disagree with this? Does he think that urging murder of Jews is consistent with being the kind of Islamic scholar fit to guide US Muslims? Sen. Shapiro should also ask Imam Kavakci about his similar "quality scholar" praise for the Sudanese Islamist leader Hasan al-Turabi, who gave Osama bin Laden sanctuary when he ruled Sudan, and who instigated jihad against Sudanese Christians and animists. How does Imam Kavakci reconcile this aspect of Turabi's life and belief with his (Kavakci's) praise for his brilliance as an Islamic scholar? Or does Imam Kavakci agree with him?

I do hope Sen. Shapiro or someone in the legislature will put the question to the Dallas imam. Every time I've tried to get him to answer these simple and legitimate questions, he's refused, and on several occasions accused me of Islamophobia for daring to ask. He shouldn't be allowed to bluff and bully his way around giving a straight answer to perfectly reasonable questions.

Reasonable questions -- and a reasonable basis for selecting someone else. After all, would it be appropriate to open a session with the words of someone who praised the Fred Phelps klan?

Oh, and a quick note for Harris County GOP chairman Jared Woodfill -- yes, the invocation occurs in the midst of Passover and Holy Week, but since yesterday was also the birthday of Muhammad the selection of yesterday for the invocation was not at all problematic. After all, as often happens, there is some overlap between the holy days of different faiths.

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I'm an agnostic, but I have a few friends of different religious persuasions.  While I may not agree with their religious beliefs, I'm at least respectful enough to sit (or stand) quietly while they conduct their prayers.  It's something called courtesy, which is sorely lacking in today's society.

|| Posted by Vic, April 5, 2007 06:59 AM ||

Is it "courtesy" to sit through an invocation which calls for Allah to punish all those who do not follow him, i.e. Christians and Jews who are considered infidels?  I think not.

Perhaps Patrick's refusal to sit through this sham was because he is very aware of this imam's stand. 

I for one applaud him.


|| Posted by retire05, April 7, 2007 12:13 PM ||
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