Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall could be paid for with improperly paid tax credits that go to “mostly Mexicans.”
Partial transcript as follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You sound quite confident right there.
Do you have any evidence that Mexico is going to pay for it?
SESSIONS: Well, we’re going to get paid for it one way or the other. I know there’s $4 billion a year in excess payments, according to the Department of the Treasury’s own inspector general several years ago that are going to payments to people — tax credits that they shouldn’t get.
Now, these are mostly Mexicans.
And those kind of things add up — $4 billion a year for 10 years is $40 billion. There are a lot of ways we can find money to help pay for this. But in the long run…
STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to…
SESSIONS: — they’ve lost those…
STEPHANOPOULOS: — account for that money?
SESSIONS: What’s that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: How are you going to account for…
SESSIONS: Well, we just…
STEPHANOPOULOS: — that money?
SESSIONS: The Department of Treasury, several years ago, under the Obama administration, said that if you change the regulations and enforced it properly, you would save up to $4 billion a year.
There are other things that we can do at the border to create revenue that would pay for the wall. There’s no doubt about that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in your discussions with your counterparts in Mexico, they have given no indication at all that the Mexican government is prepared to pay a single cent for this wall (INAUDIBLE)?
SESSIONS: Well, I don’t expect the Mexican government to appropriate money for it. But there are ways that we can deal with our trade situation to create the revenue for it. No doubt about it.
Children feel violated, parents are furious, and a lawsuit is getting filed after the Worth County Sheriff’s office conducted an illegal search of 900 students — in the name of the war on drugs. The rights-violating intrusive and aggressive patdowns and drug dog searches yielded absolutely nothing.
On April 14, when the students of Worth County High School returned from spring break, they arrived at school to find a police state had taken over. The sheriff and his deputies — with no probable cause — detained and illegally searched every single child in the school, all 900 of them.
When kids went home that day to tell their parents what happened, naturally, they were furious as it is a gross violation of the children’s 4th Amendment rights.
“It’s essentially a fourth amendment violation,” said attorney Mark Begnaud. “It’s 900 illegal searches, suspicion-less pat downs, suspicion-less searches.”
Naturally, Sheriff Jeff Hobby is standing by this rights violation on a massive scale, noting that as long as a school administrator was present, the search of the children was legal.
Apparently, in the sheriff’s mind, school administrators can usurp the constitutional rights of children in favor of unlawful police searches.
But school officials and the student rule book disagree.
In the student handbook, it says school officials may search a student only if there is reasonable suspicion the student has an illegal item.
As WALB reports, Worth County Schools attorney Tommy Coleman said in order for the Sheriff’s office to search any students, they’d had to have reason to believe there was some kind of criminal activity or the student had possession of contraband or drugs.
“If you don’t have that then this search would violate an individual’s rights,” said Coleman. “[It] violates the constitutional right and enforcing them the right against unreasonable search and seizures.”
Interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence Walters said he understands parents concerns about the drug search at Worth County High school on Friday, according to WALB.
“I’ve never been involved with anything like that ever in the past 21 years and I don’t condone it,” said Walters.
Walters said he was notified that there was be a search but pointed out that he did not give permission nor did he approve the mass groping of children.
“We did not give permission but they didn’t ask for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break,” said Walters.
“Under no circumstances did we approve touching any students,” explained Walters.
Adding insult to injury, many students complained that they got far more than just a pat down.
At least one deputy’s searches were found to be “too intrusive.”
According to Hobby, it was later discovered that one of the deputies had exceeded instructions given by Hobby and conducted a pat down of some students that was considered to be too intrusive.
When multiple students complained about being groped by the intrusive deputy, Sheriff Hobby ensured parents and school officials that “corrective action was taken to make sure the behavior will not be repeated.”
Exactly who that cop was and what ‘corrective action’ was taken, remains a mystery.
“I’m okay with them doing the search, if it was done appropriately like the school has done in the past,” said father of two Jonathan Luke. “But when they put their hands on my son, that’s crossing the line.”
Aside from not finding a single bit of contraband, the sheriff’s search was also entirely uncalled for as the Sylvester Police Department did a search on March 17 — just a few weeks before — and found no drugs.
But Hobby told reporters he didn’t think that search was thorough enough, so he decided to do his own. And, this time, he’d grope every student.
Now, many of the parents are planning a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s office which will likely be the only means of holding this man and his department accountable.
As for the 900 counts of deprivation of rights under the color of law that the sheriff should be facing, not a single charge has been levied against the department.
This is what school has become in a police state.
Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” when asked if people who were brought to the United States illegally as children dubbed DREAMers could “rest easy,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported.”
Partial transcript as follows:
STEPHANOPOULOS: The president said to the Associated Press that the dreamers should rest easy. He’s not going after the dreamers. That’s his policy. Is it the policy of the Justice Department?
SESSIONS: Homeland Security has primary jurisdiction there. Their first and strongest priority, no doubt about it, is the criminal element that we have in our country that have come here illegally. They’re focusing primarily on that. There is no doubt The president has sympathy for young people brought here at early ages.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So they can rest easy?
SESSIONS: Well we’ll see. I believe that everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported. However, we’ve got — we don’t have the ability to round up everybody and there is no plans to do that. But we’re going to focus first as the president has directed us, on the criminal element and we have got to get that under control.
In Part 1 of this look at the Islamic world, we examined three nations with Muslim majority populations where the future of religious freedom is in question.
Next, we will run through the Muslim-majority countries where Islam is the state religion. The nations of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia were all covered in a previous article on President Trump’s executive order to temporarily restrict immigrants and visitors from those points of origin. All name Islam as their official state religion.
Afghanistan: America’s investment in blood and treasure to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban produced a 2004 Constitution that formally identifies the internationally-recognized country as the “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” The constitution’s preamble begins, “In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of Worlds; and Praise and Peace be upon Mohammad His Last Messenger, and his disciples and followers.”
“The sacred religion of Islam” is the official state religion, although the constitution stipulates that “followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.” The U.S. State Department has consistently rated actual religious freedom in Afghanistan as poor, although better than it was under the Taliban. Among other things, conversion away from Islam is considered apostasy and is punished by death, and the Bahai religion is considered blasphemous, so its practice is punished by death. Publicizing or promoting religions other than Islam is forbidden.
The constitution expresses appreciation for “the sacrifices, historical struggles, jihad, and just resistance of all the peoples of Afghanistan, admiring the supreme position of the martyrs of the country’s freedom.”
Article Three of the Afghan constitution states that “no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.”
According to the U.S. State Department, representatives of minority religions complain they are not afforded the same legal rights as Muslims. Less than one-half of one percent of the Afghan population currently follows a faith other than Sunni or Shia Islam. About 90 percent of the country is Sunni Muslim; the Shiites often complain of discrimination.
Algeria: Islam is the state religion, and is specified as a “fundamental component” of national identity in the constitution. Algerian law grants religious freedom to the less than 1 percent of the population that does not practice Sunni Islam, but proselytizing by non-Muslims is a criminal offense, as is “offending the Prophet Mohammed.” Non-Muslim groups have reported difficulty registering with the Algerian government.
Bangladesh: About 90 percent of the population is Muslim. Islam is the official state religion, as specified in the 1972 constitution.
The fundamental principles of the government are “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy, and socialism meaning economic and social justice.”
Overall, the Bangladeshi constitution is much heavier on socialism than Islam. It includes provisions that forbid discrimination based on religion. However, the U.S. State Department reports complaints of discrimination against non-Muslims, in matters such as property disputes and the presence of Islamic questions on university exams.
The State Department notes that the government of Bangladesh provides hefty financial support for its Islamic Foundation – orders of magnitude more than it gives to Hindu, Christian, or Buddhist welfare trusts – and makes special allowances for fatwas (religious edicts) issued by top Muslim leaders. The secular government also has a special relationship with large mosques, although it does not directly control most of them. The government can appoint and remove imams from the state-approved mosques, and there are government-run training academies for imams.
Bangladesh is over 90 percent Muslim, with Hindus comprising the largest religious minority at 8 percent.
Bangladesh made international headlines over the past two years for the murders of atheist and gay-rights bloggers by Islamist vigilantes. “As the world progresses under the banner of freedom of expression, we seem to be hurtling backwards,” one blogger told CNN in 2016. Religious freedom activists criticized the Bangladeshi government for spending more time denouncing the victims and imprisoning bloggers than hunting for the killers.
ISIS and al-Qaeda are both active in Bangladesh, claiming responsibility for much of its religious violence.
Comoros: Tiny Comoros has a population of just 767,000, which is 99 percent Sunni Muslim. Only a few hundred residents practice a religion other than Sunni Islam. Islam is mandated as the official state religion by the 2001 constitution. Subsequent legislation defined Sunni Shafi’i Islam as the only permissible religious practice.
Practicing any other religion in public or proselytizing for it is illegal and can result in deportation for foreigners. Non-Sunni Muslims are forbidden from training clergy or building houses of worship. Conversion from Islam is a criminal offense. The designated leader of national Islam, the Grand Mufti, is appointed by the president. The children of citizens are required to receive education in the Koran.
Djibouti: The population of this small country is 94 percent Sunni Muslim, with a diverse mix of faiths comprising the other six percent. The U.S. State Department describes the non-Muslim population as “generally foreign-born citizens and expatriates, highly concentrated in Djibouti City.”
Islam is the constitutionally-mandated state religion. The president swears an Islamic oath of office. There is a government Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which has the power to close mosques and replace imams. Imams are treated as civil servants working for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which technically owns their mosques.
Citizens who do not specify another religion are treated as Muslim by default and are subject to a court system that “includes elements of civil and Islamic law.” The government does not recognize non-Islamic religious marriages.
However, the constitution also protects freedom of religion and forbids religious-based political parties. The law imposes no official sanctions against non-Muslims and requires some civil servants to swear secular oaths of office. The practice of religions other than Islam is not forbidden or regulated by the government. The State Department observes that the Djibouti government has “permitted a limited number of Christian missionaries to sell religious books and pamphlets.” Conversion away from Islam is not illegal.
Egypt: Of course, there was much drama surrounding the fall of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring, the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Brotherhood’s ouster by the current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Egypt’s 2014 constitution specifies Islam as the state religion, and sharia as the “principal source of legislation.” The constitution goes on to extend legal protection to Christian and Jewish religious affairs. The U.S. State Department notes that only Muslims, Christians, and Jews are explicitly granted the right to practice their religions freely. Some religious are outright banned under Egyptian law, including the Bahai and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Egypt’s constitution also grants special status to Al-Azhar, the main Islamic university in Cairo. According to the constitution, Al-Azhar is “the main authority for religious sciences and Islamic affairs,” with a responsibility for “preaching Islam and disseminating the religious sciences and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world.” The constitution requires Egypt’s government to provide “enough financial allocations to achieve its purposes,” and forbids the secular government from dismissing the Grand Sheikh who oversees the university.
Egypt is about 90 percent Sunni Muslim. While the Sisi government occasionally reaches out to other religions in various ways, especially Coptic Christians, there is no question that Egyptian law discriminates against non-Muslims in many ways, including apostasy prosecutions for those who convert away from Islam.
For example, from the State Department’s 2015 report on Egypt:
In keeping with sharia, non-Muslim men must convert to Islam to marry Muslim women, although non-Muslim women need not convert to marry Muslim men. A non-Muslim woman who converts to Islam must divorce her husband if he is not Muslim and is unwilling to convert. Custody of children is then awarded to the mother.
Jordan: Jordan is about 97 percent Sunni Muslim, and Islam is the state religion. Sharia courts are built right into the constitution. The government has several ministries dedicated to Islamic affairs. The King of Jordan is required to be Muslim, and the Hashemite royal family has religious significance.
Jordan’s constitution also guarantees religious freedom for non-Muslims, and the kingdom prides itself on promoting that ideal, but the U.S. State Department’s report on Jordan explains that the primacy of sharia in the Jordanian legal code causes some problems – most especially when non-Muslims proselytize, or a Muslim attempts to convert away from Islam. Promoting other religions to a Muslim can be prosecuted as “harming the national unity.”
The sharia courts treat converts as “Muslim apostates” in perpetuity, which can have unpleasant ramifications for child custody and property rights. Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men. Furthermore, the government will not allow a convert away from Islam to change his religious affiliation on the national ID card.
Christians are only permitted to run for 36 of the 150 seats in the Jordanian parliament, with 9 of those seats expressly reserved for Christians. No other religion is allowed to hold seats except for the Druze, who are classified as Muslims.
Jordan’s civil service exams require even non-Muslims to learn some verses from the Koran. The public-school system has been criticized for failing to promote religious diversity and tolerance.
Malaysia: Malaysia is only about 60 percent Muslim, but Islam is the official state religion. (More specifically, Sunni Islam – the spread of Shia Islam is illegal.) The constitution deals extensively with the rules for determining who is the “head of the religion of Islam” in different provinces.
The constitution guarantees religious freedom for non-Muslims, but there has been great controversy over the past year about the Malaysian government’s attempt to impose Islamic law upon non-Muslims. Critics have denounced this as pandering to the Muslim majority.
Malaysian law criminalizes insults to Islam and proselytizing to Muslims by non-Muslims. Non-Muslims are required to adopt Islam if they seek to marry a Muslim. Muslims who wish to convert to other religions must obtain approval from sharia courts to declare themselves “apostates” – permission the courts rarely grant. In some Malaysian states, conversion away from Islam is a crime punishable by fines, imprisonment, and/or beatings. Malaysians carry a national ID card that specifies whether they are Muslim or not.
Maldives: The Republic of Maldives is absolutely repressive. Sunni Islam is the state religion, the constitution is “based on the principles of Islam,” sharia law is superior to civil law, and the public practice of any other religion is forbidden. Even proselytizing Muslims to change to other denominations of Islam is forbidden.
Public officials are required to be Sunni Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot even be full citizens of the country. Speech which contradicts the “basic tenets of Islam” is forbidden. Schools are required to teach “obedience to Islam” and “instill love of Islam.” Mosques are effectively government institutions.
Mauritania: The population is almost entirely Muslim. Islam is the state religion. Citizenship is restricted to Muslims; a Muslim who converts away from Islam loses his citizenship. A small number of government-approved Christian churches are allowed to serve the needs of foreigners, but Mauritanian citizens are forbidden to attend them. Apostasy is punishable by death. There is a government Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Traditional Education that monitors mosques and helps promote religious edicts. There are government-sponsored Koran radio and TV stations, government funding of mosques, and imams who collect government paychecks. Proselytizing for religions other than Islam is forbidden.
Morocco: Islam is the official state religion, as specified in the constitution. The king of Morocco is officially entitled “Commander of the Faithful and Protector of Islam.” Secular and religious authority are deeply entwined. For example, only the king’s royal decree can make a fatwa from the officially-recognized high council of Muslim scholars binding. Judges are trained in sharia law. Violation of various Islamic codes, such as breaking fast during Ramadan, can bring criminal charges.
The government forbids proselytizing by non-Muslims and restricts the distribution of religious materials other than the dominant Maliki-Ashari school of Sunni Islam. Muslim women are forbidden from marrying non-Muslim men. Criticism of Islam is punishable by imprisonment, and television stations are required to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to Islamic religious content, including the five-times-daily call to prayer. Islamic instruction is mandatory in the public schools, although foreign-run schools are allowed to skip religious instruction entirely.
Over 99 percent of the population of Morocco is Sunni Muslim. Interestingly, the only other religious group given special consideration under Moroccan law is the Jews, a very small minority that resides largely in Casablanca. “There is a separate set of laws and courts with authority over personal status matters for Jews, covering issues such as marriage, inheritance, and other family matters,” the U.S. State Department reports. Jewish schools are uniquely allowed to provide Jewish religious instruction.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s formal name is the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.” Islam and sharia are written right into the constitution, which begins with the declaration that “sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone.”
The Pakistani legal code is not completely based on sharia, but Islamists in the country are working very hard to change that. One of the flashpoint cases is the 2011 murder of a provincial governor who defended a Christian woman against Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. Huge demonstrations have been held in support of the killer.
Pakistan’s powerful Islamic councils, which technically have only advisory roles to elected representatives, are a constant source of sharia horror stories, such as declaring that it’s “un-Islamic” for abused women to leave their husbands, and “light beating” of a wife is acceptable when all else fails.
Saudi Arabia: There is no need to spend much time discussing Saudi Arabia, which is among the most oppressive Islamic theocracies in the world. The above-mentioned chief of the Sharia Department in Indonesia’s Aceh province is correct that his brutal medieval legal system is softer than the Saudi version.
Sharia is not just part of the Saudi constitution – it is the Saudi constitution. The Saudi religious police do not just beat their victims, they often kill them. Religions other than Islam are absolutely forbidden in the Kingdom. Visitors who do not believe in Islam are forced to obey Islamic law. Conversion from Islam is punishable by death.
A January 2015 article in the Washington Post considered the accusation that Saudi Arabia’s implementation of sharia law is not much different from the practices of ISIS, and found the contention difficult to dismiss.
Even a bubbly Tom Hanks fish-out-of-water comedy about a businessman’s adventures in Saudia Arabia was forced to dance uncomfortably around the reality that his character could have been killed for entering Mecca or Medina.
The Gulf States: Saudi Arabia’s allies around the Persian Gulf include Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. All of them have constitutions that declare Islam is the official state religion, and sharia is the basis for their legal codes. Foreign visitors to the tourist-friendly capitals of these rich and modern-looking Gulf states often learn to their dismay just how serious they are about enforcing sharia law against non-Muslims.
Tunisia: 99 percent Sunni Muslim, Tunisia’s constitution declares it to be an Islamic state, and describes the state as “the guardian of religion.” The president is constitutionally required to be Muslim.
The “free exercise of religious practices” is also stipulated in the 2014 constitution, and it requires places of worship to be politically neutral. However, the government oversees Islamic religious practices, supervises mosques, and pays the salaries of imams. Mosques are considered government property. The national Islamic religious leader, the Grand Mufti, is appointed by the president. Public schools are required to provide an hour of Islamic instruction per week. Much of the civil legal code is based on sharia law.
Registered Christian and Jewish houses of worship are allowed to operate. According to the U.S. State Department, the government has provided financial support to the Jewish community, including paying the salary of the Grand Rabbi.
The Tunisian government is fighting a political and physical struggle with the radical Islamist party Hizb al-Tahrir. Ominously, there have been polls that show a growing majority of Tunisian citizens reject the principle of religious freedom and oppose marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims.
The mainstream media likes to claim President Trump’s executive order on immigration suspends visas from six or seven “Muslim-majority” countries, but as I pointed out in a previous column, all of them are Muslim countries, period.
All seven nations name Islam as their official state religion and base their legal code to some degree on Islamic sharia law. That includes Iraq, dropped from the second version of Trump’s order, whose post-Saddam Hussein government was nursed into existence with extensive financial and political assistance from the United States.
How many true “Muslim-majority” nations in the world? In other words, how many countries have a majority of Muslim citizens but do not designate Islam as the official state religion, and keep their legal systems completely free of sharia influence?
This exploration should begin with acknowledging that precise demographic data is hard to come by for nations where Muslims comprise roughly half the population. Most efforts to list the world’s Muslim-majority nations point to a 2010 Pew Research study called “The Future of the Global Muslim Population,” whose data is now seven years old.
Demographic shifts and the shortage of reliable data can make it difficult to say whether some countries hovering around the 50-percent mark currently have Muslim majorities. Reference.com, for example, cites Nigeria as a borderline case because Pew’s 2010 data had the population at 47.9 percent Muslim, but many sources list it as a Muslim-majority nation.
Three of the toughest borderline cases are Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey.
Indonesia: Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Indonesia has about 207 million Muslim inhabitants, with a total population of 250 million, making it over 80 percent Muslim.
Indonesia is routinely cited as an example of harmonious secular government, the textbook example of a Muslim-majority nation that is not officially Muslim by law. Indonesia’s constitution, which dates back to 1945, does not specify a state religion or make special provisions for sharia law. Indonesia does require a certain faith for its president, but it is not Islam – it is a unique school of philosophy called Pancasila. As Australia recently learned, Indonesia is very serious about the importance of Pancasila.
And yet, the UK Daily Mail reported on Indonesia’s “masked sharia law enforcers” on Monday, including photographs of a man and woman receiving 25 lashes in public for violating Islamic law by “spending time with somebody who is not their husband or wife.” A woman took 100 lashes with a cane recently for sex outside of marriage, according to the report.
Gambling, drinking alcohol, women failing to wear headscarves, and homosexuality are also punished with beatings in Aceh province, which the Daily Mail explains is “the only province in the country which implements sharia law in full,” following a 2001 grant of autonomy from the central government in Jakarta.
“Over the past decade, the central government has devolved more power to regional authorities to increase autonomy and speed up development,” the Daily Mail adds. “Engaging in homosexual acts is not a crime under Indonesia’s national criminal code but remains taboo in many conservative parts of the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.”
In April 2016, the first non-Muslim was beaten in public for violating sharia law in Aceh, by selling alcohol. The victim was a 60-year-old Christian woman.
Aceh is not the lone island of sharia law in Indonesia. In a January article, the New York Times cited a recent study that found “more than 442 Shariah-based ordinances have been passed throughout the nation since 1999, when Jakarta gave provinces and districts substantial powers to make their own laws.” The regulations cover matters such as “female attire, the mixing of the sexes, and alcohol.”
According to the NYT, local officials view the spread of sharia law across Indonesia as a “point of pride,” and see Aceh as a model to be emulated. The head of Aceh’s Department of Sharia is described as a “moderate” who thinks Aceh’s version of Islamic law is “softer” than Saudi Arabia’s because it welcomes “alternative schools of Islamic thought” and accepts “the role of female leaders.” Women’s rights activists supported the female mayor of Aceh as a progressive reformer, but she promptly slapped a curfew on women once she got in office and went about “personally dispersing events deemed to contradict sharia,” such as a beauty contest.
The Times article closes with an Islamist preacher declaring that Aceh is a “model for the entire Indonesian nation” and must “become the locomotive for the movement to apply Shariah law throughout Indonesia.”
The Christian governor of Jakarta – the first non-Muslim to hold that position in the last half-century – is currently on trial for blasphemy because he supposedly criticized the Koran, and could face up to five years in prison if convicted. The governor was in tears when he appeared before a court, not to challenge the blasphemy law, but to deny he intended to insult the Koran. A crowd outside the building screamed “Allahu akbar!” while he testified.
Indonesia is not a completely secular Muslim-majority nation. The best that can be said of its current situation is that moderates, including Muslim supporters of the Jakarta governor, are trying to push back against the rising tide of Islamization.
Nigeria: Nigeria’s 1999 constitution explicitly grants legal authority to sharia courts. Sharia is mentioned dozens of times in the section of the constitution that defines Nigeria’s judicial system, including specific procedures for replacing the judges of state and local courts (candidates must hold a “recognized qualification in Islamic law from an institution approved by the National Judicial Council” for at least ten years.)
Critics of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari have accused him of transforming Nigeria into a Muslim nation. Saudi Arabia nonchalantly refers to Nigeria as such. It is a member state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Recent efforts have been made to expand the power of sharia courts; advocates argue that officially granting criminal jurisdiction to sharia courts, rather than only permitting them to rule in civil complaints, will protect Christians in northern Nigeria because Muslims will be less likely to kill them over minor provocations.
“Many non-Muslims are being unjustly killed. People are doing injustice to non-Muslims by attacking non-Muslims just because they’re not Muslims,” explained lawmaker Abdullahi Salame in May 2016. “With the passage of this bill, no Muslim will ever attempt even to harm, much less, kill non-Muslims, because you know Sharia can attend to criminal cases and you will be dealt with. And, in Islam, when you kill a non-Muslim, you will be killed. These Boko Haram and other groups that hide behind any little crisis to attack Christians and other non-Muslims would be easily punished.”
Turkey: Turkey is officially secular, according to its Constitution – which begins with a salute to the “immortal leader and unrivaled hero” who founded the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Unfortunately, there are grave concerns about Turkey’s future as a secular state, and the current health of religious freedom is far from robust. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom lists Turkey as a “Tier 2” country, in which the government commits or tolerates serious violations of religious freedom.
Turkey’s population is heavily Sunni Muslim – 75 to 85 percent, according to government estimates. Less than half of one percent of the population is non-Muslim. USCIRF criticizes Turkey’s government for exercising excessive control over all religion in a variety of ways, perhaps most significantly by denying religious minorities the right to train clergy. Islamic religious instruction for all children is mandatory unless parents request a waiver. Some parents hesitate to request such a waiver because it would mean revealing their religious affiliation to the government.
Much of the energy for reform in Turkey comes from the Alevi Muslim minority, a sizable minority that may comprise up to 25 percent of the Turkish population. The Alevis are a mystical offshoot of Shia Islam – a branch so distant that some of them don’t even identify as Muslim anymore. They have frequently complained of government discrimination against them.
As it stands, Turkey is a “Muslim-plus” country where religions other than Sunni Islam face special forms of official discrimination, even though there is no official state religion. The U.S. government has been working to encourage religious freedom reforms and praises the positive developments it sees, but there are fears about the increasingly authoritarian rule of Islamist president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Religious freedom advocates have criticized (and his followers heartily praised) Erdogan for seeking to establish Turkey as a leading force in Islam, occasionally even styled as a “caliph” or “sultan.” There is little question that Erdogan has turned the country away from strict secularism and toward Islamic nationalism.
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, Attorney General Sessions, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) concluded a visit to the border on Friday with a tough message for “sanctuary city” jurisdictions, including California.
Standing on an access road on the U.S. side of the border, Secretary Kelly began a press briefing by reaffirming the Trump administration’s commitment to border security, including a “physical barrier” along the southern border.
He also emphasized the importance of stopping human trafficking along the border. “There’s nothing the Attorney General and I want more than to put human smugglers out of business,” he said.
Kelly cited drastic reductions in the number of illegal border crossings, which he said were down 64% from the same period last year. The reason, he said, was that the Trump administration had shown “we’re serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws.”
Attorney General Sessions spoke about the boost in morale among law enforcement staff, and praised the progress of the Trump administration. “It’s exceeded what I thought possible so far,” Sessions said.
He warned about the danger of infiltration by gangs like MS-13, “whose motto is ‘murder, rape, and control,’” he said.
And then the Attorney General launched a broadside against sanctuary cities — and the would-be “sanctuary state” of California.
“It was nearly two years ago that Kate Steinle was shot and killed, dying in her father’s arms, along Pier 14 in San Francisco,” Attorney General Sessions recalled. “The alleged shooter was an illegal immigrant with seven prior felony convictions who had been deported from this country five times. Only weeks earlier, the city had released him from custody, after being apprehended again, even though the federal immigration authorities had filed a detainer requesting that he be held in custody until they could remove him for deportation proceedings. Even worse, this man admitted he came to San Francisco in part because of its sanctuary policies.
“So today, the Department of Justice sent letters to nine jurisdictions that were identified — by the Obama administration — as having policies that potentially violate federal law and which receive millions in federal grants. These jurisdictions have until June 30th to send their legal justifications for why they are not in violation of federal law — and the state of California is one of these jurisdictions. … Sanctuary jurisdictions have put known gang members back on the streets.”
He concluded: “I urge New York, California, and other jurisdictions to reconsider.”
The California State Senate recently passed a “sanctuary state” bill, SB 54, that still awaits passage by the State Assembly before proceeding to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.
Kelly, Sessions, and Johnson were concluding a two-day visit to the border, which began in El Paso, Texas on Thursday and concluded in San Diego at the Otai Mesa Detention Facility.
The press conference was held in between two existing border fences — a thin, rusted corrugated iron fence on the Mexican side, and a tall, razor-wire-topped American fence. In the distance, the new pedestrian walkway between Tijuana’s airport and San Diego hovered over the boundary.
Johnson, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said: “One of the main reasons we come here, in addition to learning … is to thank the men and women” of law enforcement.
He reiterated that the Trump administration, in contrast to his predecessor, had prioritized helping border patrol and enforcing the law.
“We’re not going to apologize,” he said, for enforcing the law and keeping the country safe.
Asked by a local reporter to respond to the argument by sanctuary cities that enforcing immigration law would hurt local policing, Sessions described that as more of an “excuse” than a reason, suggesting that it was driven by ideology rather than evidence.
He rejected an accusation earlier Friday by California State Senate President pro Tem Kevin De León (D-Los Angeles) that he and the Department of Justice were basing their law enforcement efforts on “principles of white supremacy.”
“It’s a kind of extremist statement that I totally reject,” Sessions said.
He also defended his recent comment about a ruling in a federal court in Hawaii that stopped President Trump’s executive order suspending travel from six terror-prone countries from going into effect.
Earlier Friday, Secretary Kelly told Kate Bolduan of CNN that President Barack Obama had presided over a “very, very open border” and that Obama had done “nothing” to secure the border and enforce immigration law internally.
Outside the event, about a dozen demonstrators from the Remembrance Project, which commemorates victims killed by illegal aliens, gathered to support the Trump administration’s efforts.
Vaught Becht of Orange County gave the administration an “A-plus” for its work on immigration and border security thus far.
“I think they’re doing a great job. We’ve got a new era. [Trump] supports the citizens. America first, and jobs first. We’ve got a new sheriff in town. He speaks for the American people, not the swamp in D.C. He speaks for us.”
‘Shattered’ Revelation: Clinton Campaign Hatched Russian Hacking Narrative 24 Hours After Hillary’s Loss
The new Clinton campaign tell-all, Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign, reveals how Hillary Clinton personally placed blame for her bruising defeat on Russian meddling “within twenty-four hours of her concession speech.”
The blistering behind-the-scenes book, by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, illustrates how Hillary Clinton furiously blamed her defeat on the FBI investigation into her private emails, Russian interference, and Trump’s supposed support from “white nationalists.”
On a phone call with a longtime friend a couple of days after the election, Hillary was much less accepting of her defeat. She put a fine point on the factors she believed cost her the presidency: the FBI (Comey), the KGB (the old name for Russia’s intelligence service), and the KKK (the support Trump got from white nationalists).
“I’m angry,” Hillary told her friend. And exhausted. After two brutal campaigns against Sanders and Trump, Hillary now had to explain the failure to friends in a seemingly endless round of phone calls. That was taking a toll on her already weary and grief-stricken soul. But mostly, she was mad— mad that she’d lost and that the country would have to endure a Trump presidency.
The authors detail how Clinton went out of her way to pass blame for her stunning loss on “Comey and Russia.”
“She wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way,” a longtime Clinton confidant is quoted as saying.
The book further highlights how Clinton’s Russia-blame-game was a plan hatched by senior campaign staffers John Podesta and Robby Mook, less than “within twenty-four hours” after she conceded:
That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn’t entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.
The Clinton camp settled on a two-pronged plan — pushing the press to cover how “Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign, overshadowed by the contents of stolen e-mails and Hillary’s own private-server imbroglio,” while “hammering the media for focusing so intently on the investigation into her e-mail, which had created a cloud over her candidacy,” the authors wrote.
“The press botched the e-mail story for eighteen months,” one person who was part of the strategy is quoted as saying. “Comey obviously screwed us, but the press created the story.”
The book also details Clinton’s confusion and frustration with President Obama, whom she apparently thought didn’t do enough “to apprise the public that the Russians had gone way beyond what had been reported”:
She wondered why the president hadn’t leaned harder into making the case that Vladimir Putin was specifically targeting her and trying to throw the election to Trump. “The Russia stuff has really bothered her a lot,” one of the aides said. “She’s sort of learning what the administration knew and when they knew it, and she’s just sort of quizzical about the whole thing. She can’t quite sort out how this all played out the way that it did.” On the long list of people, agencies, and international forces Hillary blamed for her loss, Obama had a spot.
Elsewhere, however, Allen and Parnes provide polling numbers and other raw data that pinpoint the precise reason why Clinton lost — hint: it’s not Russia — men and working class Democrats in Pennsylvania turning to Trump, and how he simply outperformed her with white voters in battleground Florida:
Exit polls in Pennsylvania showed that Clinton and Obama won women by thirteen-point margins in 2016 and 2012, respectively. But in a state that has never elected a woman governor or US senator, men favored Trump by seventeen points— a massive increase over Mitt Romney’s three-point edge in 2012. From a geographical perspective, Hillary did better than Obama in Philadelphia and its surrounding suburban counties but lost working-class Democratic strongholds in Erie and Luzerne Counties that Obama had carried.
In Florida, Trump crushed Hillary in the suburban swing areas outside Tampa and St. Petersburg. As he did nationally, Trump did better with white Floridians than Romney had, doubling up Clinton at 64 percent to 32 percent. Romney had beaten Obama 61 percent to 37 percent among Florida whites.
Clinton also lost the reliably-Democratic state of Wisconsin, where she had “had been blown out by Bernie Sanders in the Wisconsin primary” and failed to campaign for months after her party’s national convention:
Turnout in Milwaukee, the key vote center for Democrats in Wisconsin, was off by sixty thousand or so votes from 2012, and nearly three dozen counties in the state saw the partisan margin from that year flip by 20 percentage points or more in 2016. Trump won 52 percent to 41 percent in Brown County, home of Green Bay, site of the visit that Hillary and Obama canceled after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Obama had won the county by nine points in 2008 and lost it by two points in 2012. Hillary, who had been blown out by Bernie Sanders in the Wisconsin primary, never set foot in the state.
Lastly, Shattered examines how Trump turned Michigan — a state that had been blue since 1992 — into a red state:
About a dozen counties in Michigan flipped from Obama to Trump, but one mattered most. Macomb County, flush with working- and middle-class whites, gave Trump more than his statewide margin of victory. Obama won the county by 16,103 votes in 2012; Trump took it by 48,348 votes, or about four times his statewide margin.
Sure to become a bestselling blockbuster, Shattered became available everywhere books are sold April 18.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says that the agency will no longer be “regulating an entire industry out of business.”
Pruitt revealed his plan to end the war on coal at a coal-fired power plan in Missouri that would have been forced closed under Obama’s climate agenda.
The Environmental Protection Agency administrator discussed President Trump’s recent executive order that repeals a number of Obama’s climate change actions. Pruitt said, “Coal is, and will continue to be, a critical part of America’s energy mix.”
Last week Pruitt told coal miners in Pennsylvania, “I’m committed to working in coordination with states to create a healthy environment where jobs and businesses can grow. That’s the purpose of my Back-to-Basics agenda.” Pruitt added, “I saw today just how important this fuel source is to affordable electricity and economic development in the region, especially in the agriculture community.”
The power plant Pruitt visited in Missouri is considered one of the coal plants most compliant with EPA pollution regulations. However, officials told Pruitt that Obama’s Clean Power Plan would have still closed the plant. The Clean Power Plan was Obama’s most aggressive climate change plan, which would have required states to cut carbon emissions by a third by 2030.
Barry Hart, executive vice president and CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, said, “When EPA asked for comments from the public on its Clean Power Plan in 2013, Missouri electric cooperative members responded with more than 300,000 comments, all with a common theme: ‘Don’t raise our rates, and we want an all-of-the-above energy strategy that keeps electricity affordable and creates jobs.’” He added, “We are encouraged to see that the Trump administration understands the concerns of people in rural America and is committed to bringing the change they want.”
While some states and counties in the US are making moves to encourage food freedom and stop the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides, citizens in other areas of the country are fighting for their voices to be heard. Take Oregon, for example. Senate Bill 1037 would have restored counties’ rights to protect their farmers’ crops from GMOs after they were stripped away in 2013 with the passing of SB 863. SB 863 created a “statewide preemption” but no protections for local farmers were ever put into place. House Bill 2469 would have also helped to restore farmers’ rights and exempted GMO crops from the statewide preemption.
These bills would have represented great strides for farmers in Oregon, but unfortunately, these bills have died. As Capital Press reports, “Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, said he’s decided to let SB 1037 die during the April 13 meeting of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs.”
HB 2469 also met its end in the House Agricultural and Natural Resource Committee, thanks to a legislative deadline.
Dembrow claims that there are simply “too many looming questions” about GMO cross-pollination, and the effectiveness of co-existence efforts. “I want to get a sense if there are problems with contamination or if there are problems with the mediation process,” he stated. Does it really matter where the problem is stemming from — either way, SB 863 has greatly infringed on farmer rights, and it has stripped counties of the ability to make decisions on what is grown in their communities. For example, residents of Josephine County elected to ban GMOs in 2014, but a judge ruled that the state’s preemption law superseded their vote.
Supporters of SB 1037 said that the presence of GMO elements in their crops could wreak havoc on their farms — and consequently, their livelihoods. Josephine County resident Carol Valentine commented, “Our farms remain at risk of contamination because the state has not put any protections in place.”
Some of the bill’s detractors noted that very few organic farmers had reported crop losses due to GMO contamination to the USDA, while others went straight to denying that citizens should have the right to choose at a county level. Mike McArthur, the executive director of The Association of Oregon Counties states the organization opposed SB 1037 because “genetic engineering is a complex issue best left to state government.”
“This is not the proper role for a county government to be engaged in,” he brazenly stated.
While the process of creating a GMO crop may be very complex, the issue at hand is not: It is an issue of rights, and not an issue of science, though it is often misconstrued that way. Regardless of how one feels about GMOs, whether or not you think them safe has very little to do with the fact that people’s rights are being infringed upon. Real farmers are actually being negatively affected by GMOs, and they should not be effectively silenced by their own government.
FoodAndWaterWatch.org reported on a survey of organic Midwestern farmers in 2013 — and that survey found that 1 out of every 3 farmers had experienced some kind of contamination on their farms from GMO crops. Over half of them had their crops rejected by their buyers for that reason, and reported median losses of $4,500.
While no farmers have reported losing crops in Oregon this year, just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it won’t.
In 2014, a GMO-labeling bill was also defeated in Oregon — largely in part due to a huge lobbying effort pioneered by biotech and agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont. Is it possible that something similar happened this time around too? It certainly isn’t beyond reason to suspect that industry lobbyists played a role in the loss of these bills that would have restored rights back to where they belong: In the hands of the people. (RELATED: Keep up with the latest news on GM crops at GMO.news)
Congress wants to impose a mandatory $2,400 tax increase on all US military members to fund their own GI Bill benefits, according to Stars and Stripes and The Military Times.
What an insult! Congress does nothing to stop welfare payments to illegal aliens and foreigners but it wants to generate new funds by taxing the military.
Consider all of the money that Congress throws away to illegal aliens and foreigners in comparison to this outrageous $330 million tax increase on military paychecks:
- Illegal aliens unlawfully collect more than $14 billion per year in IRS refunds even though they pay nothing into the system (Breitbart News).
- More than half of all illegal alien households collect welfare including cash, food stamps, housing, medical care and education, costing the taxpayers unknown billions every year (Center for Immigration Studies).
- The taxpayers will give $42 billion in foreign aid to countries that hate America in FY 2017 (ForeignAssistance.gov).
- America overpays our NATO defense requirement by almost $300 billion per year; yet Congress wants to tax the very same soldiers who defend NATO! (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
GI Bill benefits are OWED to our military members because it is an incentive to volunteer to defend America, especially in wartime. The service members should not have to fund their own benefits!
Congress will not cut off the money spigot to illegal aliens, but wants to impose a new direct tax on military paychecks.
Speaker Paul Ryan’s team is pushing this tax increase and it will surely pass it if we don’t speak out.
This tax increase bill has not been assigned a number in the House yet but we have links to all of the available information on it on today’s campaign page.
If you know anyone else who would be willing to speak out on this issue, please send them this link: