House of Wisdom or a House of Cards? Why Teaching Islam in U.S. Foreign Detention Facilities Violates the Establishment Clause
45 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2012
Date Written: January 1, 2009
In an attempt to erase Islamic-fundamentalist sentiments held by detainees apprehended in the course of the "war on terror," the United States government began teaching and preaching a more moderate version ofthe Qur'an and Islam to detainees in Iraq. One such detention program in Iraq was dubbed the House of Wisdom. But the wisdom of such a practice is highly suspect-both because it likely runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and because it may be doing more harm than good to the American effort to defuse Islamic-extremism and anti-American sentiment. This Article examines the practice of promoting the "true" meaning of Islam in detention centers for its legal legitimacy and uses the program as a lens to evaluate the extraterritorial reach of the Establishment Clause. The Article explains that the Establishment Clause is both a structural restraint on government and a protection of individual liberty, but that however the Establishment Clause is construed, in either case it extends extraterritorially.
Keywords: Establishment Clause, Structural Restraint, Extraterritorial, Detention Centers
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