Friday, July 29, 2011

The Love of Your Child

There is nothing more intimate than the love between mother and child. Marriage is an interesting learning experience, but it cannot compete with the total human sacrifice it takes to produce a child. After bearing the stress in one’s womb for months and months, feeling the weakness and hunger, and finally the labor which cannot ever be described, a new human being arrives. This being suckles on you until your bones ache so that you cannot sleep at night, and yet you long for another one. This is love. This is true love.

“What is love? Does anybody love anybody anyway?” sang Howard Jones, a UK artist, when I was in Junior High School. I still don’t know the answer to these questions.

“The mothers shall give such to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way. If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If ye decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided ye pay (the mother) what ye offered, on equitable terms. But fear God and know that God sees well what ye do. (Quran 2:233)”

He shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. These are actually reasonable requests. God laid it down.

So now that we have got that straight, what have we now? A financial exchange. But is there more to life than that? I don’t know yet. But there are people who go through this life never knowing what it was like to fall asleep at their mother’s breast. There are so many of us, especially children of the 70’s, who just never knew that. When we had a nightmare, we had to “understand” that no one was going to cuddle us. We faced this world alone, without any sense of having any rights.

Even the most emotionally detached mother could fall asleep with her child, and this skin contact could even save a child’s life. For life. A scientific study in Brazil showed that mothers who “wore” their premature babies under their clothes with constant skin contact (instead of keeping them in an incubator) were rewarded with higher rates of weight gain and overall health of their babies. Love boosts the immune system. And if you don’t know how to love yet, the first step is lots of long hugs to increase the sense of emotional security, which gives bursts to all the healing hormones your body can release.

Close physical contact is part of Islam. I invited some neighbors to a local iftar and my friend’s husband, who was from Spain, commented that, during the prayer, he had never been so physically close to other men in his entire life. He kind of liked it.

There are so many things we could do wrong in our lives, but if we could at least give our children the emotional security of skin contact at a very early age, we could do well. Even if we are not nursing, how about putting your arm around your child? If you give it a few minutes, he or she might even fall asleep. What’s most important, even more important than the mother’s milk, is knowing that somebody cares. Somebody is there.

We come into this world alone, and we will leave it alone. Nobody will be able to help us. We have only a short time to love one another. Whomever we love, they may be gone tomorrow. We might be gone tomorrow. We need to set boundaries against disrespect, but we must keep an open door policy for those whom we love.

We should never think that our actions will not affect another human being. If we let a child cry himself to sleep, we might think he’ll never remember, but in fact this might be the deciding factor in whether he believes in himself or not. It actually takes someone else to help you realize that you have the right to take up space in this world, when you are new here. No one can do it alone. People who are mistreated or neglected all their lives often curl up and die. In any case their immune system takes a hit.

Christians and Muslims have a dispute because Christians say, “God is Love,” whereas Muslims say, “God is the Lover.” This is a grammatical problem, not a basic issue. There are so many beautiful people out there. Why not love them all?

Love comes from Allah alone. You can never force or will someone to love you back. It is entirely out of your hands. And there is a certain element of comfort in that.

There is somebody who will never refuse your love. That is your child.

Making sense out of Christian Evangelism

There are many Christian missionaries that are trying win souls to Christianity. One of them is Rev. Hicham Chehab, head of the Chicagoland Lutheran Muslim Mission Association (CLMMA). He is based in Chicago and is heading a campaign to convert Muslims in to Christianity. I have not been able to easily uncover any Zionist connections, which are obvious in the case of several other “former Muslim” spokespersons for pro-Israel organizations. In his facebook bio, Chehab does not state the Lebanese militia to which he belonged (or for which he was trained). It is critical information, and its absence could make all his claims dubious. It is certainly profitable to claim to be a former Islamic extremist now taking shelter in Christianity. However, nothing that I can find in the immediately accessible data can prove that his conversion was not sincere. His problems with Islam seem to be a result of upbringing and are very similar to other complaints among Muslims in Muslim cultures throughout the world.

Chehab attended the Islamic and Arab/Lebanese Nationalist Makased school system. His main issue with their approach to religion was this:

“After a few weeks in my Muslim school the teacher started giving us books that today we call political Islam. They said, the world is divided into two parts, the world of Islam and the world of Infidels.”

To be honest, it's kind of hard to argue with this because there is at least one hadith saying as much. The issue of concern is interpretation and context. In my experience with Arab immigrant Muslims, their cultural interpretation of such verses tends to be vastly different than the way a college educated American Muslim would interpret it. It is possible, within the context of his political and educational status, that this type of teaching could have been perceived negatively by a sensitive person seeking higher truths. He may not have realized that there are other ways to interpret Islam.

When we hear about a Jew, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the synagogue, accepts Islam, we rejoice. And yet, when a Muslim, who is tired of the “us versus them” mentality of the mosque, accepts Christianity, we grieve. I am not sure that we are in a position to judge in these matters, in many cases. If the person's personal healing path leads them in a certain way, and inspires them to be a better person, only God truly knows if that is the path most suited to accessing God, given that person's personal peculiarities. Chehab was clearly an emotionally conflicted individual, who made a choice to reject what his parents taught him and embraced a new spiritual path as a conscious choice. Maybe the version of Islam that his parents taught him was worthy of rejection. We can't know. What we can't deny is that Muslim activists study Bible verses to help them approach Christians with the intention of converting them to Islam.

I think every Christian has the right to preach the Gospel to anyone that is willing to listen just as every Jew has the right to preach the Ten Commandments and every Muslim has the right to preach that there is no god but Allah. We argue with the best of arguments, and he who makes the most sense will gain the largest following.

The issue with this Muslim-Turned-Christian-Minister is that he was given a job to train immigration officials and also taught an anti-terrorism course to the Army Reserve. His connection with the government creates questions as to his actual motives. I think, as a majority Christian nation, it probably does help the US understanding when a former Muslim can explain Muslims to Christians using Christian language. But if you truly want to understand Islam, you also have to talk to someone who believes in it. That is where the CAIR complaint comes in. Maybe it's not so much an issue of getting rid of the evangelist but of including more voices in the debate.

Islam is a beautiful religion. Christianity is also a beautiful religion, and they are intertwined. The interesting thing is, when you go to Palestine and observe the oldest Christian community in the world, you don't see these boundaries between Islam and Christianity. Muslims and Christians intermarry, they give each other gifts on their respective holidays. When the Christians parade down the street in honor of the Virgin Mary, their Muslim neighbors join in. The Christians are as happy on Eid as anybody else. There is no conflict. Christianity is a very broad belief spectrum, in fact there are sects of Christianity that believe like Muslims do, that Christ did not die upon the cross. He lives forever, because he taught us that love is so important. Christ is a beautiful figure. He is our Messiah.

It is so important for Muslims to embrace Christ. There is no other prophet who can heal your heart like Jesus, the son of Mary. There is no other prophet who never died. He is still alive. That is why he is different than all the other prophets. Muslims have to realize that there is no alternative to Christ. He is the one that is coming back. He is the one we await. He is the one who can cure our world. No one else. We have the guidance from our holy Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) but he's not coming back. Our hope is in Christ. He is our only hope as a nation and as a planet. We should not fight with the Christians.

I write this not to confuse but to get people to see that there is no conflict. We are all working towards the same goal: Paradise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fulfilling Our Destiny is Like Surfing the Waves

Every living thing has an ideal destiny, because God created us to grow, learn, enjoy life, and improve our intellect, so that we may understand Reality, just like He wants the flowers to bloom. God made every living being with a blueprint of its true nature within its DNA. Sometimes flowers wilt, sometimes people become depressed, but that is not their true nature. Some kind of deficit has occurred, like lack of rain prevents the flower from living up to its natural potential. Unlike flowers we have choices, and the moral responsibility for those choices. We also have human rights.

In Islam, a woman has the moral responsibility for the spiritual status of herself, and her children. On the Day of Judgment a man will however be asked about the level of his wife's faith. A woman will not be held morally responsible to the same degree if her husband went astray. That is because man has a degree of power over his wife that she doesn't have over him, by nature. A parent only has moral responsibility up to a point. When the child becomes of age, he is responsible for his own choices. Prophet Noah (pbuh) had to go through the heartbreak of enduring a disobedient son and then, he had to live with the knowledge his son had drowned in the Flood. What a terrible burden! But Allah relieved him of that burden. Allah actually told Noah he was acting out of ignorance to pray for his own son to be forgiven and saved.

He (God) said, “O Noah, in fact, he (your son) is not a part of your family. Indeed, he is (a man of) bad deeds. So do not ask Me something of which you have no knowledge. I exhort you not to be among the ignorant.” (Quran 11:46)
Allah said it is ignorance to love and consider as family a man of bad deeds. The most sacred bonds such as between a parent and a child can be destroyed by bad deeds. When we continue to pray for something in a relationship that is not possible, we are living in ignorance. Yet, at other times, when we should be doing something quite possible, but we did not make the effort, we are also living in ignorance. How do we know if a situation is salvageable? How do we know when to give up on a person or whether to try harder to reach them? As long as we are acting from ego, we will never know.

Even a prophet can never be sure if he was acting out of ego or not. Prophet David (pbuh) used to follow his prayers with supplications begging forgiveness for the inadequacy of his previous prayers, in case there was any pride mixed in for having performed them.

Every struggle, whether a relationship problem, cancer, or a war, presents us with opportunities to learn and grow, and to purify our souls. There is a special dwelling place in Paradise for those who are able to praise God in every circumstance no matter what. We will always experience hardship and loss and fear. Our ego can get in the way and make us afraid to take risks or conversely, make us react emotionally and destructively. Real devils will interfere in our lives and zap our ability to understand what's going on.

Everyone has something that they are destined to fulfill in this life. Sometimes we stop the process of our own growth and degrade ourselves; sometimes we allow someone else to degrade us – because we have been allowing our ego to cover up the Truth deep inside that God wants us to be happy and healthy. It's a delicate balance we must maintain, and it has to move with every wave, like a surfer. But if we can maintain that balance within, we can then with a clear head make the best decision for what will help us blossom in our true lives.

The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said the struggle will go on until the Day of Judgment, like the ocean waves. There will never be a time when we don't have to face trouble and make decisions about how to deal with these challenges. Until we get our own egos under control, we will face the same trouble over and over and over, regardless of how many times we run away from our problems.

All human beings are in a state of total confusion until we accept Grace. Verily all men are in a state of loss! Except those who accept that sunshine and rain from the sky, and share this Truth with others. They are the ones who can bloom. They are the ones who have learned to collect Power from the universe, circulate it within, and emit Light. They are the glowing ones.

When you see someone who is glowing, you know they are not wasting their day nursing resentments, you know they are keeping their minds clear and clean. They probably have a regular spiritual practice, because glowing takes regular practice. It doesn't just “happen” just like music doesn't just “happen.” Unless a musician regularly exercises the tiny muscles in his fingers, he will not be able to play you a song, let alone put feeling into that song. We must constantly work on perfecting ourselves, but we will never be perfect. We can never give up trying to be the best we can be, because that is the whole point of our life's journey.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

God’s Word Against Israel

Zionist Judaism claims that the Covenant of God is a real estate deal. An “eternal” real estate deed given to the Jews unconditionally by God. Their claim to the “Land of Israel” is based on one or two verses in the Bible cited out of context, although throughout the many centuries of pre-Zionist history, Jewish scholars never understood those verses to call for a nation state “For Jews Only” in Palestine.

Fortunately, the Zionists are as wrong as the American white slaveowners who justified slavery using the Bible. The Covenant of God is not a real estate deed. It is a contract made between people and God, wherein God says, “I created you, therefore follow My Laws,” and the people reply in fear, “We hear and we obey.” God does not care where you live. He cares how you live.

When making the moral argument for Palestine with Jews, one often reaches a dead end: There is no conceptual framework in Judaism that provides any moral guidance on how to run a nation state.
The Jews by and large understand that Israel was created by ethnic cleansing. They understand that Israel’s existence is dependent on past and future displacement and disenfranchisement of Palestinians. They call this “Redeeming the Land of Israel.” According to the Covenant as Zionists understand it, the property of Palestinians belongs to Jews, and God commanded the Jews to kill the Palestinians.

Zionist Jews imagine themselves as Joshua’s army. Joshua, in the Bible, was an Israelite prophet that commanded a mass execution of all the Canaanites at the behest of God. According to the Bible, the reason was because the Canaanites were idolaters who practiced child sacrifice. Hence, the frequent references by Jewish pseudo-intellectuals to the Palestinian religion as a death cult of child sacrifice; overlooking the obvious fact that it is Israel who has shot thousands of Palestinian youngsters. Palestinians are not murdering their own children. Furthermore, it is simply intellectually dishonest racism to suggest that Muslim and Christian Palestinians are pagans.

The Muslims have always been very clear that they do not approve of child sacrifice. When the Muslims under Caliph Umar came to Egypt, they learned that the Egyptians used to throw a virgin girl into the Nile every year to appease the goddess of the Nile because they thought this would prevent it from flooding too much. The Muslim government applied some pressure and convinced the king of Egypt that next year he should try writing a prayer to Allah on a piece of paper and put that in the Nile instead of a virgin girl. He actually did it, and it worked. And that is the story of how the Egyptians, after so many centuries of paganism, finally gave up idol worship and accepted the religion of Moses!

The Caliph did not use a moral argument, which would have been as ineffective against the Egyptian pagans as with Zionists, who are themselves idolaters worshiping a death cult called Blood and Soil Nationalism. It is most commendable that the traditional Islamic approach to a real, existing culture of idolatrous child murderers was not “Kill them all!” but a process of gradual deprogramming through the use of intellectual reasoning.

Zionism is a racist movement. But Jewish ethnic nationalism was never part of orthodox Judaism, which teaches that God had put the Jews out of Palestine on account of their sins, and therefore they ought to repent and wait for the Messiah in a state of humility. Jewish theology has simply been thrown out of the window as if it were irrelevant to Jewish understanding. Zionism is now championed as the true spirit of Judaism. And perhaps the Zionists are right in this regard.

Throughout the centuries, Jewish thought evolved from a childish conception of “my God is better than your god!” to a spiritual maturity based on universal moral ethics. Much of the moral content in rabbinical Judaism, which was written after the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, is borrowed or learned from Islam. Now, the Zionists, the “true Jews” are rejecting this injection of foreign intellectualism and going back to the true Judaic spirit of tribalism and war. Indeed, Zionists say that their God is a deity other than Allah.

Zionists find it frustrating that Muslims reject the Bible as a final authority and use it more as a cross-reference to the Qur`an. Even if we were to accept the Bible verses they quote as true, Muslims don’t accept the Zionist interpretation of the Covenant. We rely on moral reasoning to analyze the Bible, and come up with a universal ethical principle using the Children of Israel as an example for all nations. For example, when Zionists read the story of Moses they get something out of it like this: Israelites = Good. Egyptians = Bad. In the Islamic reading of the same story we get a warning from Allah to all human beings to remember that Humble Servants of Allah = Good. Haughty Rejecters of Truth = Bad.

Anyone who has opened the Qur`an must agree that Prophet Muhammad (s) is prophet to Jews as he is to all humanity. In the Qur`an, God addresses the Children of Israel directly and confronts them about racist tribalism, employing references from the Torah and Bible to support His arguments. God admonishes the Israelites, accusing them of lying about the Covenant by claiming it applies only to themselves.

“Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby… Say: “Have ye taken a promise from Allah for He never breaks His promise? Or is it that ye say of Allah what ye do not know?” (2:79-80).

The religion of Abraham is not something to be bought and sold for a price. The Qur`an is the Book of Allah bearing witness against the Children of Israel. God Himself calls them to give up their ethnic superiority complex and commands them to bow down with those who bow down, to pray side by side with their Arab brothers and sisters in worship of the One God. Allah invites the self-proclaimed Chosen Ones to join the Ummah of Islam.

There are no moral guidelines in Jewish Law, other than genocide and enslavement, for the treatment of conquered peoples, as one would find in Islamic Law. While Islam views Muslims as God’s appointed defenders of religious freedom for people of all religions, Judaism neither proclaims respect for other people’s prophets nor guarantees any respect of other people, except in so far as they are useful to the Jewish community. This fact alone makes it clear that if the principles of individual liberty, majority rule, and world peace are to prevail, then it would make far more sense for the Jews to live as minorities in an Islamic state where they would have legal protection backed up by threats and warnings from God, rather than forcing the Arab majority to live as if they were minorities within a Jewish state which has no legal nor any moral qualms regarding the lives and property of non-Jews.

Islam, Muslims, and Cancer

Something pretty important has come to my attention that probably should be discussed among Muslims. The sun. Admittedly, the sun is pretty central in our existence in this world. It has been found that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which is obtained in its natural form from sunshine. Medical science has found that people who are deficient in Vitamin D are more likely to become ill – in the long run, with cancer. In a way, humans are like plants. We will wilt, wither away, and eventually die without attention to certain physical things like adequate sunshine, water, exercise and of course nutrition.

The Muslim community has been very strict and frowning upon those who drink alcohol or smoke. But many public functions feature soda in place of water. After low levels of sunshine, a high level of sugar in the blood is the second top cause of cancer. Soda in fact actually dehydrates you as it contains salt (sodium). Drinking soda is like drinking sea water in terms of how it replenishes you. It does not.

But getting back to the sunshine issue, how can Muslim women who wear hijab prevent themselves from wilting away from lack of Vitamin D? Fair women need to apply sunscreen to their faces to prevent redness, moles and brown blotches. Some husbands are so “sensitive,” they won’t even let their wives go out wearing sandals. It may be necessary for Islamic scholars to convene to discuss this issue that is causing widespread death in our community, which is the lack of sunshine, whether it’s because of too much computer use or because of women having nowhere to go outside in privacy.

In the medieval times, wealthy Muslims used to build a tall wall around their home so that the womenfolk could go outside in the garden uncovered without strangers passing by. But what about today? What about those of us that don’t have that kind of money? How do we get our Vitamin D? Surely a vitamin that is given off by the sun is a blessing from Allah that it would be a sin to deny. From personal experience I know that staying “in purdah” too long results in such Vitamin D deficiency. The immediate effects include erratic heartbeat, aching in the bones, and the vague panicky feeling that one is about to die, without knowing why. Even ten minutes a day inside a car will improve these types of symptoms, but surely Allah wants us to thrive, not just survive.

A scientific study in India showed that women who rarely leave their homes are deficient in Vitamin D, despite the fact that India is a very sunny country.

A shaykh I know used to tell women who felt a strong urge to go to the beach and swim, that they should travel to someplace where nobody knows them, wear a bathing suit just like everybody else, and therefore attract less attention to themselves.

For those of us not ready for this level of liberalism, perhaps it would be a good time to travel somewhere away from the city, where there are not a lot of people, take a walk on some nature path, and remove the hijab and long sleeves. In America’s vast and beautiful National Forests you can find secluded rivers in which to bathe unwatched, where you can commune with nature.

Now that the American Muslim community has come to terms with the importance of protecting reproductive health through modesty, we are hopefully also ready to come to terms with the fact that a woman cannot live her life never knowing the feeling of wind blowing through her hair. This is a human right, not just a desire. Science has proved it. If we don’t spend some regular time outdoors uncovered, we will die. This is the top cause of cancer, not drinking or smoking.

Another strong factor in the escalating cancer rate in America is use of cell phones. All cell phones emit radiation, as do the wireless phones inside the home. In fact, anything emitting electricity causes cancer. I know it’s hard, but we have to look at these factors. Maybe we should use cell phones for auto emergencies only and keep them turned off most of the time if possible. At the very least, we should keep them away from children, even when they are not in use. Within five feet of a cell phone is the most dangerous zone. We have to be aware of the dangers of cell phone use by children, because brain cancer is now the top cause of death in children, second only after accidents.

We have to be aware of so many things. Even worse than cell phones, pesticides cause cancer in humans. We must give up spraying the grass now! And try to avoid eating food that has been contaminated with pesticides, especially when it comes to dairy and meat products, because the cows collect all that poison within. Since the halal meat system is separate from the regular grocery store supply system, this could easily be accomplished – once the Muslims decide this is important.

Avoiding the immorality of television lifestyles is key to personal dignity. Yet, Muslims have a long way to go when it comes to demonstrating that our lifestyle is the most healthy lifestyle.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Jury Duty in the US

Jury Duty in the United States of America
Karin Friedemann

This week I served on a jury for the first time. It was an extremely boring and annoying experience, but at the same time surprisingly pleasant. I am happy that I live in a country where a jury of one's peers decides your guilt or innocence, not just the arbitrary decision of a judge. The jury system dates back to Islamic history – it was a basic Muslim belief that a group of people deciding about the truth and falsehood of various testimonies would be less likely to be in error than a single person. “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all the time,” to quote Bob Marley. The more people you have observing a situation, the less likely that the general opinion will be in error, especially when the group is given an opportunity to discuss what they saw.

In this case, a black man was accused of dealing a very small amount of drugs to a couple white men from out of town. If true, he was a very stupid drug dealer doing his business in front of the train station which is swarming with police cars and undercover police officers. The police were watching the car for a long time, which was parked with two white men inside. These men were clearly waiting for someone, for one of them kept getting out of the car and walking to the corner, using his cell phone. Eventually a black man arrived, got into the car, and the white men drove him to a restaurant a mile away. The undercover police followed the car. After the white men drove away, the police stopped them and arrested the white men for possession of crack cocaine. Then the police went to the restaurant, pulled the black man out of line, and arrested him under suspicion of having sold them the drugs. He had on his person $227 dollars in cash and two cell phones. He was cooperative with the police and maintained his innocence.

The prosecution however, went overboard to the point of annoying the jury. They brought so many expert witnesses to testify on irrelevant topics, in order to enhance the credibility of the police. We learned about how government spies working with FBI informants gain access to the drug world. We learned how drugs are packaged. We learned how the chemistry labs analyze drugs to determine what they are. They totally avoided the central question, which was: did this particular man sell drugs to those particular individuals? Clearly it was not an important case in the minds of the police. No fingerprints were taken, the cell phone calls were not even traced. There was zero evidence other than the hearsay of the police about what they saw. The men parked. Someone got in. They drove him to a restaurant. The police never witnessed any drug transaction. They just assumed. By the end of the day, listening to hours and hours of boring expert testimonies, the members of the jury themselves were joking that they themselves needed to do some drugs to cope with the torture!

What struck me was the dishonesty of the prosecuting attorney in his excitement to win this case. While the police officers testified that they saw the car parked for 5-10 minutes, the attorney in his closing argument embellished this time to 25 minutes. One of the expert witnesses estimated the worth of the drugs at up to $200, to match the amount of money in the man's pocket, even though I am pretty sure that two rocks of crack cocaine are worth maybe $20-40. The prosecuting attorney claimed that the man was coming out of the train station but the police only claimed he was walking from that general direction. The police said they saw from a distance, in the dark of night, a large black man. But this man was not large. As a jurist, I felt that the prosecuting attorney was trying to insult my intelligence.

It is very probable that this man did do what he was accused of doing. However, there was no evidence. Not enough to convict him without a “reasonable doubt.” How do we know the white policemen even got the right guy? After observing the black man in the dark from a distance, they arrested him inside a Jamaican restaurant filled with black men with the same hairstyle. I was anticipating a heated argument among the jury, because on face value the man did seem guilty. I was surprised.

I had reservations about white police officers following a car just because there were black people and white people in the same car. I had doubts about whether this is even the police's job description, to follow people around who didn't disturb the peace nor bother anybody in any way. I personally feel disturbed when I see white police officers arresting an entire group of young black teenagers who were just sitting there for “loitering” in front of the train station. On a personal basis, as long as it doesn't disturb nor hurt anyone, it doesn't bother my day if someone gets into a car and the car drives off. The aggressive police presence in my neighborhood is far more annoying.

The jury voted unanimously “Not Guilty.” We all privately thought he probably was guilty, but there was no evidence other than the hearsay of the police about what they saw. I am proud of my fellow Americans. I feel good that we were able to keep one man, who had no previous convictions, out of prison. We were able to put the Constitution first. The Constitution guarantees the right of free public assembly. If there was no obvious crime being committed, the police should not follow people around.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer, focusing on Muslim and US affairs.