City of Brass


I have long argued that there is an inherent tension between the ideals of the Enlightenment and spirituality. This ruling from the European Court of Justice (the EU equivalent of the US Supreme Court) is a case study for that tension:

Companies may ban staff from wearing Islamic headscarves and other visible religious symbols under certain conditions, the European Union’s top court ruled on Tuesday, setting off a storm of complaint from rights groups and religious leaders.

In its first ruling on an issue that has become highly charged across Europe, the Court of Justice (ECJ) found a Belgian firm which had a rule that employees who dealt with customers should not wear visible religious or political symbols may not have discriminated against a Muslim receptionist it dismissed for wearing a headscarf.

The ECJ tries to thread the needle, however, by stating that companies may not cater to their customers’ prejudices:

[The court] determined that the case of the French engineer Asma Bougnaoui, fired by software company Micropole after a customer complaint, may well have been discriminatory.

Reactions, however, focused on the findings that services firm G4S in Belgium was entitled to dismiss receptionist Samira Achbita in 2006 if, in pursuit of legitimate business interests, it fairly applied a broad dress code for all customer-facing staff to project an image of political and religious neutrality.

The ruling will have different impact in different countries based on national religious freedom laws, which vary from EU nation to nation – headscarves are outright banned in France, for public sector jobs, for example.

The main issue here is that Europe holds to an ideal of secularism rather than religious freedom. There is nothing remotely similar to the First Amendment in Europe – the concept is fundamentally alien. That’s not surprising given that the first colonists from Europe to America were escaping religious persecution. Given that Europe’s immigrant population is colonial, whereas in America it is aspirational, there is already a barrier inherent in European society towards integration. In Europe you must assimilate, not integrate. That is not freedom, it is fundamentally oppression.

Of course, other religious groups, even racially white ones like the Jewish community, are rightly aghast at this ruling. But this is the reality of a civilization built on Enlightenment values, which state that human reason and rationality are objective and pure. That’s the central delusion upon which European oppression in the name of secularism is built. It’s not that far removed from Chinese oppression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang.


this is a thoughtful video of an interview with Lindsay Lohan being asked directly by British morning show hosts about her intentions towards Islam. Lohan is understandably reticent to be completely open about the status of what she calls a “process” – let her speak for herself:

Lohan freely discusses reading the Qur’an, wearing a headscarf (and being harassed at an airport for it), and the feeling of peace she gains from her spiritual exploration. Her travels and charity work in Turkey in particular have really made an impact. She makes thoughtful comments about personal faith, empathy, and even Trump.

I think that Lohan’s intentions towards Islam are sincere. I doubt she will actually convert, but she shows a real affinity for the broader faith that in some ways would be ruined if she had to really grapple with the nuts and bolts of actually converting. But if she does convert, that would be all the more worthy of respect. It’s not an easy road, and would be even less so for her given her celebrity.

I hope that she is reading Ms. Marvel. If she hasn’t yet, someone needs to gift her a copy.

Related: a gallery on other celebrities alleged to have converted to Islam over the years.

Presented without comment for now, though I will have more to say on this later.

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

For counterpoint, here is President Obama explaining why he didn’t use the phrase “radical Islam” –

Life imitates art.


Muslim women were not just the symbol of the March – they were also boots on the ground.

Linda Sarsour’s speech at the DC march:

examples of other Muslim women attending marches:

“Ever since the election, I’ve kind of felt like everyone was against me, based on my appearance, based on my religious beliefs. But it’s been so supportive to be here, and it’s made me feel like this country is my country.” ― Amina Madhwala, 23

WASHINGTON, DC. - JAN. 21: Organizers put the Women's March on Washington in Washington D.C. on Saturday Jan. 21, 2017. (Photo by Damon Dahlen, Huffington Post) *** Local Caption ***

“As a Muslim woman, I feel that is is my duty to march shoulder to shoulder with women and those of other faiths. My faith plays a vital role in my decision to stand up against the injustices we may see with the policies and ideologies of the incoming administration. I’m joining this march because it’s empowering for me, and Islam teaches me that I can’t just sit on the sidelines and play the role of the victim by doing nothing.”


No photo for this one, but what a proud moment of true heroism:

As what had been a peaceful protest in Austin dissolved into sudden violence Sunday night, one image stood out: Amina Amdeen, a Muslim woman and Iraqi immigrant wearing a hijab, throwing herself in between her fellow protesters and a towering, impassive supporter of Donald Trump.