Iraq’s Christians Still Need Our Help

For people seeking to understand the crisis facing the Christians of Iraq, there’s an interesting panel discussion on the website of France 24, an English-language news station based in Paris: “Iraq’s Christians: Nowhere to Run?” The discussion is in two segments, here and here. It features a French senator, Nathalie Goulet; the New York Times Paris Bureau chief, Alissa Rubin; lawyer Ardavan Amir Aslani; and Christelle Yalap of the Committee for the Support of Iraqi Christians, a French NGO.

The panel is worth watching in full, if only to learn about the discussion taking place in another Western country. The panelists disagree about the responsibility America bears for the situation. Although the invasion of Iraq destabilized the country and exposed Christians and other minorities to grave danger, Islamism is not simply a response to American actions. It results from factors internal to the Muslim world. America has been only a peripheral actor in the Arab Spring. And yet, as one of the panelists says, the Arab Spring always seems to become an Islamist autumn.

One thing stood out for me in particular. Ms. Yalap, who offers a succinct description of the Christian community of Mosul, makes the very important point that the ordeal of this community did not end with expulsion from its home. Her NGO has been in touch with these Christians, who have taken refuge in Erbil, in Kurdistan. Apparently, ISIS has continued to pursue them there, and has succeeded in cutting off  their water and electricity. It’s summer in Erbil, and the temperature is around 113°. The Christians of Mosul continue to face a humanitarian crisis. Will the international community do something to help?

This weekend, rallies in support of Iraq’s Christians are planned around the world, including here in New York, at the UN. For information, please click here.

Around the Web This Week

Some law and religion stories from around the web this week:

Dalton, “Litigating Religious Land Use Cases”

In July, ABA Book Publishing released Litigating Religious Land Use Cases, by Daniel Dalton (Dalton & Tomich, PLC). The publisher’s description follows:

This book discusses how to litigate such a religious land use case on behalf of a religious entity pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”)  and the First Amendment.  While the First Amendment dates to the founding days of the United States, RLUIPA is a much more recent federal law that can serve as an effective tool in protecting the property interests of religious organizations.

Litigating Religious Land Use Cases is intended to provide practical advice from the author’s personal litigation experiences. Generally, a religious entity will use all available means of resolving a dispute prior to entering into litigation. In the instance that a case results in litigation, this book discusses how to litigate such a religious land use case on behalf of a religious entity pursuant to the RLUIPA and the First Amendment.

Chapter topics include:

  • The history of religious land use
  • Constitutionality of RLUIPA
  • Related religious land use claims

This book should serve as a useful guide for religious entities and the lawyers who represent them in navigating the challenges and uncertainties that inevitably surround a religious land use claim.

Emon, “Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law”

In September, Oxford University Press will release Religious Pluralism and Islamic Law: Dhimmis and Others in the Empire of Law by Anver M. Emon (University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law).  The publisher’s description follows:

Religious Pluralism and Islamic LawThe question of tolerance and Islam is not a new one. Polemicists are certain that Islam is not a tolerant religion. As evidence they point to the rules governing the treatment of non-Muslim permanent residents in Muslim lands, namely the dhimmi rules that are at the center of this study. These rules, when read in isolation, are certainly discriminatory in nature. They legitimate discriminatory treatment on grounds of what could be said to be religious faith and religious difference. The dhimmi rules are often invoked as proof-positive of the inherent intolerance of the Islamic faith (and thereby of any believing Muslim) toward the non-Muslim.

This book addresses the problem of the concept of ‘tolerance’ for understanding the significance of the dhimmi rules that governed and regulated non-Muslim permanent residents in Islamic lands. In doing so, it suggests that the Islamic legal treatment of non-Muslims is symptomatic of the more general challenge of governing a diverse polity. Far from being constitutive of an Islamic ethos, the dhimmi rules raise important thematic questions about Rule of Law, governance, and how the pursuit of pluralism through the institutions of law and governance is a messy business.

As argued throughout this book, an inescapable, and all-too-often painful, bottom line in the pursuit of pluralism is that it requires impositions and limitations on freedoms that are considered central and fundamental to an individual’s well-being, but which must be limited for some people in some circumstances for reasons extending well beyond the claims of a given individual. A comparison to recent cases from the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Court of Human Rights reveals that however different and distant premodern Islamic and modern democratic societies may be in terms of time, space, and values, legal systems face similar challenges when governing a populace in which minority and majority groups diverge on the meaning and implication of values deemed fundamental to a particular polity.

Kazemipur, “The Muslim Question in Canada”

This past May, University of British Columbia Press released The Muslim Question in Canada: A Story of Segmented Integration by Abdolmohammad Kazemipur (University of Lethbridge).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Muslim Question in CanadaTo those who study the integration of immigrants in Western countries, both Muslims and Canada are seen to be exceptions to the rule. Muslims are often perceived as unable or unwilling to integrate into liberal democracies, mostly due to their religious beliefs; Canada is portrayed as a model for successful. This book addresses the intersection of these two types of exceptionalism through an empirical study of the experiences of Muslims in Canada.

Drawing on data from large-scale surveys as well as face-to-face interviews, Kazemipur draws a detailed picture of four major domains of immigrant integration: institutional, media, economic, and social/communal. His findings indicate that, in contrast to the situation in Europe and the United States, the integration of Muslims in Canada is currently not problematic, particularly in the institutional and media domains. However, there are serious problems in the economic and social domains, which need to be addressed to avoid the European scenario in Canada.

A fresh account of the lives and experiences of Muslim immigrants in Canada, this book gets at the roots of the Muslim question in Canada. Replete with practical implications, the analysis shows that instead of fixating on religion, the focus should be on economic and social challenges faced by Muslims in Canada.

Castagna, “A Bridge across the Ocean: The United States and the Holy See Between the Two World Wars”

This month, the Catholic University of America Press released “A Bridge across the Ocean: The United States and the Holy See Between the Two World Wars” by Luca Castagna (University of Salerno). The publisher’s description follows:

A Bridge across the Ocean focuses on the relations between the United States and the Holy See from the First World War to the eve of the Second, through the combination of American, Italian, and Vatican sources. More than an overall picture of the American and Vatican foreign policy during the first half of the twentieth century, the book analyzes the U.S.-Vatican rapprochement in a multifaceted way, considering both the international and the internal sphere. A Bridge across the Ocean discusses the spread of anti-Catholicism in the United States during the first two decades of the twentieth century, and its repercussions on the American administrations’ behavior during and after the Versailles Conference, together with the changes that occurred in the Holy See’s attitude toward the American church and the White House after the election of Pope Pius XI. Luca Castagna explores the convergence of the New Deal legislation with the church’s social thought, and demonstrates how the partial U.S.-Vatican rapprochement in 1939 resulted from Roosevelt and Pacelli’s common aim to cooperate, as two of the most important and global moral powers in the struggle against Nazi-fascism.

A Bridge across the Ocean deepens our understanding of American and church history during the first half of the twentieth Century, from the church-state relations to the identification of diplomatic strategies and priorities.

“Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880–1918″ (Nemes et al., eds.)

In August, Brandeis University Press will release “Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880–1918″, edited by Robert Nemes (Colgate University) and Daniel Unowsky (University of Memphis). The publisher’s description follows:

This innovative collection of essays on the upsurge of antisemitism across Europe in the decades around 1900 shifts the focus away from intellectuals and well-known incidents to less-familiar events, actors, and locations, including smaller towns and villages. This “from below” perspective offers a new look at a much-studied phenomenon: essays link provincial violence and antisemitic politics with regional, state, and even transnational trends. Featuring a diverse array of geographies that include Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Romania, Italy, Greece, and the Russian Empire, the book demonstrates the complex interplay of many factors—economic, religious, political, and personal—that led people to attack their Jewish neighbors.

The Civil Religion of the First World War

Yesterday was the centenary anniversary of the beginning of World War I. On July 28, 1914,  one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, the Austro-Hungarian empire made its first moves against Serbia. The Great War would end more than four years later.

This weekend, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which was hosting a very fine exhibit of American World War I posters. I was struck by the powerful imagery of civil religion in many of them. Here are two exhorting the purchase of war bonds that stood out to me as particularly representative of the genre:

World War I #2

World War I #1

And this afternoon, to remember the War, Mark and I visited the Flag Pole Green in Queens, New York, which has this lovely memorial to the men of Queens who died in the War:

World War I #3Just a few fragments of civil religion–that perennial social coagulant–in memory of the war to end war.

France to Facilitate Asylum for Iraqi Christians

France has offered to facilitate asylum for Iraqi Christians who have fled Mosul since the takeover of that city by ISIS, the jidahist group. The announcement came in a joint communiqué by Foreign Minister Laurence Fabius and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Granting asylum is a very imperfect solution to the crisis Mideast Christianity currently faces. Indeed, Mideast Christian leaders typically resist the “escape option,” out of concern that Christian emigration will put an end to faith communities that have endured for thousands of years. For many Mideast Christians, though, emigration may be the only option left.

Fast-tracking asylum is the least the West can do for Iraqi Christians–but it may also be, sadly, the most. France, which traditionally has seen itself as the protector of Christians, especially Catholics, in the Middle East, deserves credit for taking this step. It would be nice if the United States, which bears principal responsibility among Western countries for what has happened to Iraqi Christians, would do the same thing. (H/T: Rod Dreher).

The Forum in the Law Reviews

One interesting development in legal scholarship over the last 10 years or so is the increasing importance and prominence of legal blogs as a source of academic commentary. And one measure (a minor one, to be sure, but an interesting one) of the success of legal blogs in affecting legal academic commentary and discussion is the growing frequency of their citations in traditional law reviews. I am surely not the first to make these observations, and doubtless other legal blogs have been cited in law reviews more times than has our relatively young Center for Law and Religion Forum, which is 3 years old. Still, here are the Forum’s citations in the law reviews over its life:

1. Andrew Koppelman, “Freedom of the Church” and the Authority of the State, 21 J. Contemp. Legal Issues 145 (2013).

  • FN 95: “Steven D. Smith, How Important is Public Support for Religious Freedom?, Center for Law and Religion Forum, July 16, 2012, http://clrforum.org/2012/07/16/ how-important-is-public-support-for-religious-freedom-2-2/).”

2. Jed Glickstein, Should the Ministerial Exception Apply to Functions, Not Persons?, 122 Yale L.J. 1964 (2013).

3. Marie A. Failinger, Twenty-Five Years of Law and Religion Scholarship: Some Reflections, 30 Touro L. Rev. 9 (2014).

4. Elizabeth A. Clark, Liberalism in Decline: Legislative Trends Limiting Religious Freedom in Russia and Central Asia, 22 Transnat’l L. & Contemp. Probs. 297 (2013).

  • FN 95: “Mark L. Movsesian, Copycats, Ctr. for L. & Religion Forum (Aug. 25, 2012),http://clrforum.org/2012/08/25/copycats (noting arrest of copycat protesters who interrupted service in cathedral in Cologne, Germany).”

5. Michael A. Helfand, Religion’s Footnote Four: Church Autonomy As Arbitration, 97 Minn. L. Rev. 1891 (2013).

  • FN 134: “Michael Helfand, The New Footnote Four?, Center for L. & Religion (May 25, 2012), http://clrforum.org/2012/05/25/the-new-footnote-4/ (arguing that footnote four of Hosanna-Tabor undermines the jurisdictional approach to the religious clauses)”

6. Frederick Mark Gedicks & Rebecca G. Van Tassell, RFRA Exemptions from the Contraception Mandate: An Unconstitutional Accommodation of Religion, 49 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 343, 344 (2014).

7. Bruce Ledewitz, Experimenting with Religious Liberty: The Quasi-Constitutional Status of Religious Exemptions, 6 Elon L. Rev. 37 (2014).

8. Perry Dane, Natural Law, Equality and Same-Sex Marriage, 62 Buff. L. Rev. 291 (2014).