Lawful Islamists use two general strategies to advance their agenda: they request that Muslims be granted special privileges and, more broadly, they seek to impose their ways on others. Take the issue of head coverings. Some Muslims demand the right to wear hijabs or niqabs in situations where non-Muslim women would never be allowed to conceal themselves, such as when testifying in court or having a mug shot snapped. At the same time, more assertive Islamists abuse their authority by attempting to force other people to cover up as well.
First, a British Muslim dentist named Omer Butt stands accused of requiring "that women cover their hair with a headscarf, or hijab, and that male patients remove any gold jewelry." Butt, whose practice operates under the auspices of the National Health Service, was reprimanded in 2007 for similar offenses. Here is one of the new complaints:
The woman's husband, known as Mr. C, was … called into a private room at the surgery where Butt asked him to impose a dress code on his wife.
His wife said: "My husband came out and he looked quite angry and his face was red. He said, 'Let's go.'
"He shouldn't say to me that he can't treat me unless I wear the hijab. He said he could provide one for us, but I didn't want to wear one. I was in pain that day."
Second, an employee of Pakistani descent has manipulated non-Muslim first graders into accepting the hijab at a Norwegian school where most of the students are Muslim:
She flattered the girls who didn't wear hijab by telling them how pretty they would be if they only put on hijabs, and said that she could give them hijabs as gifts. The woman works for SFO (Skolefritidsordning or "School Free Time Arrangement"), which provides volunteers to take care of kids before and after school hours, and also works as a classroom assistant. In March she got the head of SFO to write the following note to the parents of two non-Muslim girls: "Can X get a hijab from SFO on Tuesday, March 31, 2009?" The letter is dated March 30 and signed by the head of Norwegian SFO.
The assistant principal does not seem to mind. "This was just a small gesture from SFO," she said. "There were two little girls who wanted to dress up in pretty, colorful, and glittering hijabs, and therefore SFO asked if it was okay with the parents for them to give them to the girls."
Whereas accommodations may be peddled with some success under the rubric of religious freedom, trampling on the rights of others tends to spark public outrage and backlash. People like Omer Butt and the pushy classroom helper thus provide a service of sorts. By crossing a line that wiser Islamists do not cross, they expose Islamism for what it is: a radical ideology whose adherents will prolong tooth discomfort and pressure six-year-olds in order to have their way.