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Honor Malcolm X Today: Read And Reflect On His Legacy

Loon Watch - 6 hours 7 min ago

The greatest Muslim American who ever lived: Malcolm X, was a proud Black man who stared down White supremacy, US societal hypocrisy, violence and colonialism, both mental and spiritual.

It is the likes of him, a martyr, that the Qur’an describes as not truly dead: “And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, Rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (Quran, 3:169-170)

Sapelo Square is dedicating its homepage to Malcolm X today.  I encourage readers to check those posts out.

In honor of Malcolm X we have dedicated our homepage to his legacy and invite you to read and reflect on these selections from Sapelo Square:

Refracting Light: An Online Photo and Audio Exhibit on the legacy of Malcolm X/Al Hajj Malik El Shabazz

Malcolm X – Five Myths

American Muslims and the Historical Struggle for Black Lives: A Reflection on Malcolm X in Between the World and Me

 Curating the Malcolm X Mixtape

Exhuming the Martyred Memory of Malcolm and Mother Betty Part 1 and Part 2

X Speaks

…in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves…

Read the entire article

Why is age discrimination in housing allowed?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 6 hours 47 min ago

Someone holding up a poster featuring phrases commonly found in house/flat rental ads, including 'No DSS', 'DSS welcomed', 'Friendly warm house', 'Non-Smoker', 'No fix, no fee! Affordable rates' and many others in large and small lettering.This blog entry is by a friend of mine who is being evicted from her father’s flat where she has been living for some time. She has long-running mental health problems and is a wheelchair user and was told in December to find a new place to live within three months. She has appealed on Twitter for help finding accessible places to live which will take Housing Benefit in the London area but, despite the tweets being retweeted hundreds of times, has received no leads to suitable places, much less offers; she has also found none on the websites which specialise in accessible and DSS-accepting properties. It’s painful to read of this struggle as there are in fact plenty of suitable properties, but they are reserved for older people.

It’s not the first time I’ve read of young disabled people searching for an accessible property and finding none, and finding such properties which are subject to age discrimination is something friends have told me about in the past. I was thinking of bungalows and properties that are accessible to wheelchair users, but Mark Neary, who is well-known for his legal battle to get his autistic son, Steven, out of an unwanted and unsuitable care home placement in 2010, mentioned this afternoon that when looking for flats for himself and Steven last year after the council earmarked his old council house for demolition, that “each week there were several over 55s flats available but nothing else”. Besides level access, young disabled people would benefit from the same advantages these places offer elderly people (precisely because of their physical infirmity), such as staff on duty to assist in the event of falls and so on.

Worse, although new business premises are required to offer wheelchair access, new multiple residential buildings are not. I used to know someone who lived in Poundbury, Prince Charles’s showpiece village outside Dorchester, Dorset, in a first-floor flat in a purpose-built small block. Charles’s estate does accept housing benefit recipients as tenants (which almost no other private landlord in the area does) but, I was told, did not allow lifts to be installed at the Duchy’s insistence. This lady recently became disabled, and will now have to move out of her flat, most likely into a care home, or even out of the area; but not being able to visit friends’ houses freely is a way disabled people are excluded from mainstream society, and new buildings should allow them access.

The law should be changed so that accessible properties that any disabled person could live in cannot be reserved purely based on age (I accept that specific impairments, such as dementia, could be grounds for reservation) and if they are, it should be for old people, over 70 or 75 perhaps, rather than merely those at or nearing retirement age, given that we are mostly living longer and age 60 is considered quite young for an old person, and not an age at which people die of old age anymore; 55 is what most people consider middle-aged, not elderly. This is something that major disability charities and campaign groups should be fighting for; while nobody doubts that the over-55s have “paid their dues”, disabled people have the right to independence and family life and cannot even hope to start a productive life if they are trapped in an unsuitable home or with abusive or hostile relatives. There’s no justification for this discrimination; the over-55s are not more important than disabled people of any other age.

Image credit: Alison Barnes.

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Zaid Karim, Private Investigator, Part 3 – $40 In the Hand

Muslim Matters - 10 hours 42 min ago

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories.

Previous chapters of this story: Chapter 1 | Chapter 2

***

February 5, 2010
Fresno, California

The Anwars had three children. Dalya, the eldest, was a dentist. She lived in the Bay Area, from what I heard. Mina, the middle child, was a health and safety inspector for IBM, and had moved to New York. Neither of the two girls, I suspected, wanted to be near their mother.

The youngest, Tarek, was on another career path, to put it kindly. He dropped out of high school and went through jobs like tissue papers, doing everything from sales at a used car lot to solar panel installer to selling perfume oils at the swap meet. He was never religious and at some point took up drinking and smoking, and possibly drugs as well. At the age of eighteen he moved in with a non-Muslim girl named Angie. She was five years older than him. The Anwars disowned him, but repaired the relationship when Angie bore a child. That child was Anna.

Kali martial arts

“We met in martial arts class…”

When I was a kid, Tarek and I were two out of a group of five inseparable friends. The other three were a boy named Amiri Sulawesi (who went by Badger nowadays), a Palestinian-American like myself named Aziz, and a non-Muslim called Titus Palumbo. I knew Aziz from Palestinian dinners, weddings and the like, but the rest of us originally met in martial arts class, when we studied under Amiri aka Badger’s father, who taught us a little-known fighting style from the southern Philippines, called Kali.

The five of us hiked in the Sierras, pooled our money to buy a dirt bike that we raced in empty lots, climbed over locked fences on the weekends to swim in the high school pool, fished in the San Joaquin River, defended one another against bullies, and generally got into all kinds of trouble. Aziz’s mother liked to call us the Five Musketeers. Aziz and I were bright and did well in school but the other three struggled.

Titus developed a drinking and drug habit early on, at the age of twelve. He and I were in ROTC class together and many times I had to hold him up as we marched up and down the assembly grounds at school. When his father – who was a Fresno police officer – was killed in the line of duty, it was a turning point for him. He cleaned up, got a college degree in criminology, and became a cop.

Amiri’s history was the polar opposite of Titus’s. When his father was killed under questionable circumstances, he lost all bearings. He joined a gang, adopted the moniker Badger, and quickly rose through the criminal ranks.

And Tarek, well, like I said, he went from one thing to another, tetherless, not seeming to have any plan or to care what the next day might bring.

I studied the photo. It looked like a school photo. Fourth grade, maybe? She’d be nine years old now, if I remembered correctly. Anna’s dark brown skin was complemented by her long and straight brown hair. In the picture she wore a blue jumper over a white collared shirt, blue stretch pants, and a pair of white Adidas sneakers. She was thin and unsmiling. I’d met Anna twice, both times at Eid gatherings. I remembered her as a serious and reticent child.

No matter what I thought of the Anwars, their son Tarek – though we didn’t talk much anymore – was my friend. Even if that had not been the case, the child was an innocent.

I looked up at Dr. Ehab Anwar. “I’ve done a couple of missing persons cases, but it’s not my speciality. I usually handle insurance fraud jobs. I’m telling you this so you don’t feel misled in any way. A bigger agency might have a better chance of finding her.”

Dr. Ehab tipped his head in acknowledgement. “I understand. We want you.”

“Alright.” I nodded slowly. “I’ll take the case. My rate is five hundred dollars per day plus expenses. I’ll take this” – I indicated the envelope full of cash – “as an advance against that.”

“I will pay fifty thousand if you find her.”

“You said that,” I replied, aware that my tone bordered on harsh. “My rate, however, is $500 per day. If you choose to pay a bonus, that’s up to you. Now tell me everything you can. When was she last seen? Who might have taken her? What do the police have?”

“We know who took her,” Dr. Ehab replied. “It was Angie, her mother.”

“How do you know?”

“Because she disappeared. Her apartment is abandoned. Her personal effects are gone.”

“What do the police say?”

“They cannot help. She’s the mother, and Tarek… well, he is unavailable.”

“Why, where is he?”

“He is in Palm Springs. He has a job there.”

That was good to hear. Maybe Tarek had straightened his life out. I considered. “I don’t see a crime here,” I said at length. “Angie moved away. She doesn’t have to tell you her whereabouts. You don’t have any rights over her.”

“I understand,” Dr. Ehab replied calmly. “But she is a drug user. I only want to know that my granddaughter is safe. If you locate Anna and everything is fine, then alhamdulillah. At least I will have peace of mind.”

“And if everything is not fine?”

“Then bring Anna home to us.”

I continued to question Dr. Ehab, but found myself growing frustrated. The man had nothing useful to tell me. He didn’t know how long Angie had been missing, but the last time he’d seen her was a week ago when she asked the Anwars to babysit Anna for a few hours. He didn’t know Angie’s family, and didn’t know where she might have gone.

“Do you have a photo of Angie as well?” I asked.

He did not.

“Give me Angie’s address and phone number.”

“She does not answer her phone,” Dr. Ehab replied. “And I told you, her apartment is deserted.”

“Give them to me anyway.” He gave them to me.

“Where does Angie work?”

He shook his head. “She does not. She collects welfare. We help her out sometimes.”

“Alright. What about Tarek’s phone number?”

“It is inactive. The service was turned off.”

“Why,” I put it to him, “didn’t you pay his phone bill? You can certainly afford it.”

Dr. Ehab’s expression was solemn. “Tarek must stand by his own feet. It is the only way.”

When I had no more questions to ask – I wasn’t getting answers anyway – I told Dr. Ehab that I would check in with him daily, and to call me if he had any more information.

***

Envelope full of cash

When Dr. Ehab was gone, I picked up the envelope full of cash and stared at it. Ten thousand dollars. It was mostly hundred dollar bills, with what looked like five hundred in twenties. It was heavy in my hand.

I’d had all these ideas for what I could do with this much money. Now, however, there was no time for any of that. In a missing persons case, time was critical. The longer the person was missing, the colder the trail got. Angie and Anna might have been missing for as much as a week.

I moved three hundred dollars from the envelope into my wallet, and stuffed the fat envelope into my front pants pocket. I clipped my pocket knife onto my other front pocket, then I removed my gun from beneath the desk, slipped it into a holster, and strapped it around my ankle, underneath my pants leg.

Opening the locked drawer in my desk, I removed my camera, handheld camcorder, binoculars, flashlight, and digital voice recorder, and stuffed them all in a threadbare school backpack. I added a few pairs of socks and underwear and a change of clothes.

Locking up my office – a time consuming process that involved locking the window bars and triple-locking the door – I headed to my car, very conscious of the nearly brick-sized pile of loot bulging in my pocket.

Clouds were moving in. A chilly breeze swept down from the north, stirring the litter in the parking lot. Sadly, I doubted it would rain. My car could have used a wash. But California was in the midst of a multi-year drought. Rain was as rare as a Muslim at a Vatican sausage roast.

1969 Dodge Dart GTS

1969 Dodge Dart GTS

My car, an olive green 1969 Dodge Dart GTS that I’d purchased a few years back, didn’t have an automatic door opener. I was about to slip the key into the door lock, when I was assaulted by a powerful stench. I’d smelled this particular eau-de-body-odor before. I began to turn, but a hand seized my shoulder. At the same time, I felt something cold and sharp press against my neck.

“Gimme all your money mister private defective,” the homeless man growled. It was the same man who’d come into my office earlier, trying to sell solar garden lamps. “I seen people goin’ in and out o’ your place,” he continued. “I know you gots to have some dinero. And gimme that backpack too.”

There was no way this side of the grave I was going to give up the ten thousand dollars in my pocket, not to mention the surveillance equipment in my pack. I’d die first. But perhaps I could find a solution less severe than either getting robbed or dying.

“It’s better than that, brother!” I exclaimed, filling my voice with feigned enthusiasm. “Remember how you told me to defect the Powerball number and cut you in?”

“Yeah,” he replied slowly. “Whatchu sayin’?”

“I did it, man! I totally defected it. We won! Not the big one though, one of the smaller ones.” I had to keep it believable, after all. “Half a million bucks. I’m on my way to cash in the ticket. I think we should split it fifty fifty, what do you say partner?”

“Oh, dude!” The pressure of the hand on my shoulder lessened. “Are you serious?”

“As a cardiac arrest.”

“Say what?”

“A heart attack.”

“Oh. So this is for real?”

“Would you put away the knife?”

“Oh, yeah o’ course.” The knife was withdrawn, as was the hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Ghost Rider, the homeless man in the jeans and dirty yellow sweatshirt. His face was beaded with sweat in spite of the cool weather. As I watched, a shudder ran through his entire body, starting at the greasy locks atop his head and flowing to his feet.

“This is awesome.” His grin exposed several missing teeth. “I’m sorry about this -” he waggled the knife, and I saw that it was just a standard dinner knife. “Nothin’ personal.” He tipped his head to one side, his eyes pleading. “I’m jonesin’ man, you know. I’m sick. I need a fix real bad. You know what that feels like, right?”

I wanted to say, “Does it feel anything like this?” – then slam a hard roundhouse kick into his inner thigh. Though I’d play-acted to get him to lower the knife, in truth I was filled with rage. I had offered the man the last bite of food I had, and here he was holding a knife to my neck! The rage came up inside me like lava in a volcano. I expanded internally, growing hot, breathing hard. My hands twitched and my vision narrowed. All I saw was the man standing in front of me, holding the knife.

I would put my hips into the kick, so that the it would nearly lift him off the ground, then I’d come down with a vicious slap to the back of his neck. The back of the neck is a knockout point and potentially worse. A sufficiently hard blow could cause permanent spinal cord injury and even death. If that didn’t do it, I would deliver an elbow strike to the jaw, reap one of his legs, stomp the back of the knee to drive him to the ground, and then stomp on the ankle to crush the bones there. I would leave him broken on the ground. It would be easy.

But no. The man standing before me swayed as he squinted at the graying sky. He looked like he might fall at any moment. The knife in his hand wasn’t even sharp. He wasn’t going to hurt me. I could lie to the police and say I was defending myself, but I couldn’t lie to Allah or to myself. Sincerity with Allah, sincerity with myself. That was my motto. It had served as my guide through difficult days, allowing me to walk forward with my head held high, even when my stomach was empty.

I pushed the rage down, forcing it into my belly and screwing the lid on tight. I shuddered as I brought my breathing under control. My hands stopped twitching and my jaw relaxed. It scared me how much of an effort this took. For a minute there it was very close.

“Listen,” I breathed. “I’m not a hundred percent sure about the Powerball thing. I might have the number wrong. Take this for now.” I withdrew my wallet and gave him $40. “Get something to eat, alright? Seriously. I know you’re going to get high, but get some food too. You need it.”

“Aww, thanks brother.” The man seemed genuinely touched. “You a hell of a dude.” He didn’t seem terribly disappointed that the Powerball might not pan out. It seemed the $40 in his hand was worth more than a half million in the bush.

***

Sitting in the car, my body felt heavy as stone. I’d been a hair’s breadth from destroying the homeless man. I’d been out of prison for five years, and I still had trouble controlling the violent impulses that had seeped into me during my incarceration.

I went to prison at the age of nineteen and came out at twenty five, so in many ways I came of age in lockup. I learned what it was to be a man from men whose only response to conflict was to kill.

Five years after my release, I still had nightmares. I couldn’t walk five paces without turning to look behind me, and I experienced surges of nearly uncontrollable rage whenever someone violated my personal space, whether by threatening me or simply standing too close behind me in line at the store.

I balled my fist and struck the dashboard of the car. This wasn’t me. I cared about homeless people. I helped them when I could. I knew that but for Allah’s grace, that could be me. Ghost Rider had been drive to a desperate act by his addiction, but he wasn’t evil.

I didn’t want to be this way. I didn’t want to be a walking pressure cooker. My greatest role model, my hero, was the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, a man who was the living embodiment of gentleness and compassion. I wanted to be worthy of him. I wanted to be someone my wife and child could trust. I wanted to be able to trust myself.

But how? What steps should I take to change? How could I get rid of all this anger?

***

Six years of daily humiliations by guards, living under threat of assault, fighting for my basic human rights, living like a slave – it had changed me.

Even though that six year stay in prison represented only a fifth of my life to date, it felt like much more. There was something about the nature of prison life – the unique combination of tedium and sudden, ferocious intensity – that burned itself into my memory. I remembered every day of those six years, every book I read, every friend I made, every khutbah I gave during my time as a convict Imam, every killing I witnessed – and some of them were horrific – and every act of violence I was forced to commit. I carried it with me every day. I’d eat a meal and find myself comparing it to prison food. I’d see a certain shade of color in the sky and remember a similar day on the prison yard.

On the other hand, my life from before prison felt distant and hazy. Whenever I ran into Aziz or Titus and they begin waxing about the old days, I found that I could hardly remember.

Like the time like the time in our high school years when we drove ten thousand feet up into the mountains, filled five ice chests with snow, brought it back and organized teams for a huge a snowball fight in the schoolyard on a warm spring day. When Aziz mentioned it a few years ago, I didn’t remember at first. Once he reminded me, it came back hazily, like a shape viewed in the distance through hot, shimmering air.

It was as if the intensity of prison life somehow overwrote my previous memories.

One time I had a case in the Bay Area and ran into a brother at the Santa Clara masjid who recognized me. He was overjoyed to see me. He began talking about the old days and the things we used to do. I confessed that I did not remember him. He was offended and grew angry. “We were friends!” he kept saying. “How can you not remember me?” I did not know what to say, so I simply kept apologizing. He hasn’t spoken to me since.

I still feel ashamed about that, though I don’t know what I could have done differently.

It wasn’t that I missed prison. I mean sure, I missed a few of the Muslim brothers that I befriended there. There are strong, wise and courageous men who took shahadah in prison. They are no longer the criminals who entered those walls. They have been transformed. And yet some of them may never see the world again.

But I rejoiced in my freedom. I could go where I wanted, see who I liked, choose my own work, clothing, and food. The humiliations, the crushing ennui, the unrelenting tension and threats of violence – they were all a thing of the past, Alhamdulillah!

The problem was that I couldn’t seem to shake my prison behaviors.

I knew I could never go back to being the carefree young man I had been. But I could I just come to a point of emotional stability? Could I stop being a walking landmine?

***

I activated the secret compartment in my car. It had been built for me by a former client, a sound system installer named Alfredo. His shop was broken into, and valuable speaker components stolen. The insurance company denied his claim and the police charged him with fraud. I was hired by Alfredo’s defense attorney. I normally worked for the insurance companies, so this was a turnaround, but I investigated and was able to prove Alfredo’s innocence. Turned out it was his nephew who had done it.

Aside from his stereo installations, Alfredo had a thriving cash-only business building hidden compartments, which he called traps. Alfredo couldn’t pay my full fee, so he offered to build me a trap.

As he explained it, modern traps tapped into a car’s internal electrical system. They were connected to relays, which were electromagnetic switches that allowed low-power circuits to control high-power circuits. A car’s ignition was one example. Alfredo had figured out how to wire a car so that a specific set of electric circuits had to be activated to open the trap.

In my case, the trap was built into the space where the passenger-side airbag would go. Except that there was no airbag. To open the trap, I had to follow four steps. One, close all the doors. This meant that the trap would almost certainly not be discovered by the police, since they tended to leave the doors open when they searched a car. Two, there had to be someone sitting in the driver’s seat (the pressure sensor beneath the seat was part of the circuit). Three, start the car and activate the rear defroster. Step four involved a credit-card sized magnet that Alfredo had given me. I had to swipe this card across the airbag compartment. This would cause a hidden magnet to disengage, and the trap would spring open. If any one of the steps was ignored, the trap would remain hidden.

Yes, Alfredo was a genius. Sadly, I didn’t see a good future for him. Most of his clients were drug smugglers. The government wouldn’t stop looking for a way to lock him up. I tried to warn him that he should stick to stereo installations and quit building compartments, but when it comes to money, the lure is too strong for some men to resist. Like the Prophet said, if a man had a valley full of gold he would want two, and nothing will fill the mouth of a man but dust.

I followed the steps to open my compartment, looking around carefully to make sure no one was watching, then deposited the bulk of the cash in it, along with my gun.

Arco gas station

“I drove to the Arco station down the street…”

I’d hardly driven the car in days because I was almost out of gas. I drove to the Arco station down the street and filled the tank. I had a feeling this case wouldn’t be as simple as finding someone who’d changed addresses or moved from one city to another. I felt like I was being given only a small part of the picture.

That wouldn’t stop me. For better or worse, once I began something I did not stop until I finished it.

***

The address Dr. Ehab had given me for Angie was an upper floor apartment in a dilapidated complex near 9th and Ventura.

I made a quick pass through a fast food drive-through and ordered a fish sandwich, large french fries, mini apple pie and diet soda. No, I’m not on a diet, but I’d seen in an article that a single can of regular soda contains the equivalent of ten cubes of sugar. That was crazy. If I wanted to destroy my body’s ability to process sugar, I could just stab myself in the pancreas.

Usually fast food sits in my belly like an anchor, leaving me feeling bloated and disgusted with myself. This time, though, I nearly rolled my eyes in pleasure with every bite. Of course this food couldn’t approach the deliciousness of Safaa’s home cooking, but hunger is the best spice, and I was as hungry as I’d ever been.

By the time I arrived at my destination ten minutes later, the food was gone.

This was a rough neighborhood. I considered taking my gun out of the trap, but chucked the idea. The gun was for emergencies. Hands, heart and knife, that was all I needed.

The packed earth between the buildings – there was no grass – was littered with fast food wrappers, broken children’s’ toys, a punctured inner tube and a discarded watering can. The balconies were mostly empty or cluttered with junk, though a few had been turned into tiny outdoor gardens. In one, I saw a rusted bathtub. The overall effect was grim.

Three Latino gangbangers loitered in the shadow of one of the buildings. They were decked out in red and white, and one was shirtless. One wore a red bandana pulled low over his eyes. The shirtless one had a large chest tattoo that said, “Fresno” in gothic script, and another tattoo of a bulldog’s face on his shoulder. The third was swollen with muscle and had a pencil mustache and neck tattoos. They eyed me balefully.

They were members of a local gang called the Bulldogs, I knew. This was also the name of our local university football team. The gang was named after the team – much to the university’s consternation – and wore team colors and jerseys.

I let my gaze sweep across them and beyond, not meeting their eyes but not ignoring them either. I walked with shoulders back and chin raised, my expression deadpan, my arms loose. I looked ready to take on an army. Prison swagger 101. My unspoken message was, “I acknowledge and respect your existence but I’m unafraid and possibly crazy.” Which I was.

The young toughs watched me pass but made no move. Their career choices might be crappy, but they weren’t entirely devoid of common sense, apparently. I would have either torn them to shreds or died myself. That was always the choice with me, and sometimes I wasn’t sure which option I preferred.

I found Angie’s apartment and knocked. No answer. I looked around. No one was watching. I took a small lock-picking set from my pocket, and, shielding my actions with my body, quickly picked the front door lock. This was a skill I’d learned many years ago from Malik Sulawesi, Badger’s dad. That’s another story.

Slipping in, I flicked the light switch. Nothing. There was no power. I slanted the blinds to let in sunlight. The apartment stank of mildew and sour milk. The yellowed vinyl flooring was littered with the scattered debris of a life that had been shed like a snakeskin. Dirty dishes in the sink. Worn and stained furniture. A few items of discarded clothing: socks, a child’s t-shirt, an old shoe. Aside from that, it was empty. Nothing in the closets, no silverware, no TV or computer, nothing of value.

In the bathroom I found empty bottles of cough syrup and ibuprofen, a burnt spoon and a scorched piece of a car antenna. So Angie was a junkie after all. Drug addicts downed cough syrup and ibuprofen when they didn’t have money for dope. The spoon was held above a flame to cook down heroin. And the car antenna, I suspected, was a makeshift crack pipe.

This was bad. This kid could be in any kind of danger. I had to find this child.

In the movies, the detective continues searching the crime scene determinedly, even when everyone else has given up. “There’s always something,” he mutters to himself. “There’s always a clue.” And of course he finds something in the end.

In real life it’s not always like that. I searched from one end to the other, but found nothing that would tell me where Angie and Anna had gone. No photographs or mementos, no receipts or letters.

I sighed. Alright. Where would Angie go? Maybe to stay with parents or a sibling. I knew nothing about her family, however. The most likely person to supply the information was Tarek, but I had no idea where to find him. His father was clearly holding something back.

I decided to pay a visit to Tarek’s sister Dalya. I hadn’t seen her in eleven years, and all I knew about her was that she was a dentist, had a couple of kids and was divorced. I did a quick internet search and her website came up right away. She owned her own dental practice, Lovely Smile, in Merced – a medium sized city sixty miles to the north. Closer than I’d thought. Good.

***

I hopped onto 180 west then merged onto 99 north, driving exactly at the speed limit. As I drove, I practiced drawing my knife with one hand while I steered the car with the other.

There are many people who carry knives but never practice the draw. One day they are mugged or attacked and find themselves fumbling for the knife, trying to open it with trembling hands – if they remember it at all.

This particular knife was a small Kershaw folder with an extremely sharp three-inch blade. The handle was sky-blue. Switchblades and other automatically-opening knives are illegal in California, but this one is what is called an assisted open. You use a thumb stud to start the process of opening it, then an internal spring takes over and snaps it open.

I did this often when driving long distance. I clipped the knife low on the seat belt to simulate it being in my pocket. I drew and opened it with my right hand, then – still using only one hand, and doing it all by feel, without looking – flipped it over, depressed the lock-release lever and closed it. I clipped it back onto the seat belt and did it again and again. In the course of ten minutes, I drew the knife a hundred times.

Kali and its sister art Eskrima are popularly known as stick arts. The heart of Kali, however, is the knife. Even the stick is considered only a training substitute for a sword or machete. The techniques range from basic to highly complex. We train empty hands versus knife, knife versus knife, forward and reverse grip knife, and even double knife. I have been doing this since I was five years old.

We do have some purely empty hand techniques in Kali but they are only a small part of the art. Put me in a ring against even a journeyman boxer and I’d probably get clobbered. But put a knife in my hand and I’m as deadly as a rattlesnake in a phone booth, even against other knife fighters.

After a few wrong turns, I found Dalya Anwar’s office in Merced. The receptionist, a young Latina dressed all in black, with a trace of glitter on her eyelids, told me I had to make an appointment.

“I’m here on a personal visit,” I explained. “I’m an old friend. Tell her Zaid Al-Husayni is here to see her.”

My full name is Zaid Karim Al-Husayni, but when I became a private eye I made a choice to use my father’s name, Karim, as my last name. I felt that “Karim” was more easily understood and remembered by Americans, and less alienating. I knew it was a cop-out, but it was my livelihood, and I needed whatever edge I could get.

Dalya would know me by my proper last name. The last time I saw her, we were both nineteen years old.

Dalya and I had a history. I remembered her as a small-boned girl with wavy brown hair, thick glasses and a serious demeanor. When we had community get-togethers and the other kids were playing volleyball or chatting about music, she’d be off in a corner somewhere, reading a book. I made it a point to always talk to her, at first because I felt sorry for her. Dalya had little interest in movies or music. She was more interested in trends in sustainable energy, preserving the rainforest, or the life cycle of a cicada. Other kids thought her nerdy, but I found her interesting, and knew she would do well in life.

As for me, the assumption was that I would become either a doctor or an engineer. I wasn’t terribly interested in either of those professions, though I did find biological drawings fascinating. But everyone thought I had a bright future, and our families began to discuss a possible match between Dalya and I once we finished college.

I know some kids rebel at the thought of arranged marriages, but I didn’t mind. Like I said, I found Dalya intriguing, and she was certainly cute beneath those soda-bottle glasses.

Then I went to prison, and all of that ended. And when I got out I married Safaa, and never regretted it, even when she broke my heart by splitting up with me.

As I was thinking these thoughts the side door opened and Dalya Anwar emerged wearing a white medical coat, black slacks and soft-soled black shoes. I would have recognized her instantly, even without the nametag that graced the front of her coat. She no longer wore glasses – no doubt she’d upgraded to contacts – but aside from that she’d hardly changed. She was still tiny, with large brown eyes and delicate hands, though frown lines marked her forehead now.

I’d heard that she was divorced, but a large diamond ring glittered on her right hand. Maybe I was mistaken.

“Zaid?” She squinted at me as if I were a puzzle she was trying to figure out. “Stick Man Zaid?”

Aziz and I used to sometimes practice our Kali at community picnics and Iftars. The other kids gave us mocking nicknames. Mine was Stick Man, as much for my skinny frame as for my talent with a stick. Even though the name was intended to tease, I liked it. What martial artist wouldn’t want be named after a weapon?

Later, though, “Stick” became my criminal nickname, and now I detested it as a reminder of a foolish and painful past. But I knew Dalya didn’t mean anything by it.

I gave her a genuine smile. “It’s me.”

Next: Zaid Karim Private Investigator, Part 4 – Be Somebody

Europe wrote the book on demonising refugees, long before Trump read it | Piro Rexhepi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 hours 16 min ago

We’re told that Donald Trump is uniquely hardline in his anti-Muslim rhetoric. In fact, Europe’s draconian attitudes have helped to legitimise his approach

It has become an article of faith among liberals that Donald Trump is the world’s biggest enemy to refugees and Muslims, while the EU somehow offers them a safe harbour. After all, with the words “We can do it” Angela Merkel invited a million Syrian refugees into Germany, while Trump’s travel ban has slammed shut America’s door to some of the world’s most vulnerable displaced people. In today’s liberal mindset, it is Brexit that has stirred up hostility against migrants, while the EU is a bulwark of civilised values, protecting refugees from the threat of a resurgent far right.

Related: Home Office agrees to review asylum claims of child refugees in France

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Moonlight's Mahershala Ali: anti-Islam prejudice 'not a shock' if you have grown up black

The Guardian World news: Islam - 23 hours 26 min ago

Oscar-nominated Muslim actor reveals additional discrimination he has faced since converting to Islam in 1999

The actor Mahershala Ali, whose performance in the widely acclaimed Moonlight has made him a favourite for the best supporting actor Academy award, has spoken out about the discrimination he has experienced as an African American and a Muslim.

Ali said he found out that he was on an FBI watchlist after 9/11 and that, as a black man, anti-Islam prejudice “does not feel like a shock”.

Related: Why I love Moonlight actor Mahershala Ali

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The Guardian view on Trump’s Sweden: another country | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2017 - 19:20
Like the rest of western Europe, Sweden is dealing with economic and demographic issues. But whatever misguided US conservatives think, the Nordic nation is not a battlefront in a clash of civilisations

For most of the last 30 years, Sweden has been one of the most welcoming countries in the world for refugees. Other countries have taken in more as a proportion of their population, but they have been immediately adjacent to war zones, where the demands of charity and humanity can’t be ducked. Nowhere in Europe approaches Sweden’s record. Until the entire system was overwhelmed last winter, and the brakes slammed on hard, the country took its humanitarian obligations very seriously. In 2015 more than one in six of the inhabitants of Sweden had been born abroad. In that year 162,877 people claimed asylum in Sweden, which led to a complete reversal of the old policy, and a fierce clampdown at the border. Last year only 29,000 applied for asylum; so far this year, fewer than 2,000 have. A demographic transformation has gone hand in hand with the breakdown of the old political and industrial model that had made Sweden appear one of the safest and most secure countries in the long boom after the second world war.

Jobs are now far less secure, and the economy has much less use for unskilled young men of any religion or ethnicity. A rapid growth in inequality has left the city centres sleek, prosperous, and largely white, while the satellite towns around them are places of high unemployment where often immigrants and their descendants are largely concentrated. This recent change overlays longer-term trends. Sweden’s overall crime rate has fallen since 2005, but in recent decades there has been a substantial rise in violent crime, especially involving weapons. The murder rate in Sweden is now a fifth of that in the United States; guns are used in nearly a third of all murders. Experts rightly fret over the use of explosives and hand grenades in attacks. This a scandal. For a European social democratic country to remind us of American levels of violence and insecurity is deeply shocking. But that is not why some Americans are shocked. For a large proportion of the ill-informed and bigoted, including President Trump and some of his advisers, the problem in Sweden is not that it has developed American-style social problems, but that it is too Muslim. This may be too subtle an analysis. Perhaps the Fox News demographic thinks that in both cases the problem is the presence of black people, whether you call them “Muslims” or not.

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Islamic State has gained a foothold in Pakistan – and the government allowed it | William Dalrymple

The Guardian World news: Islam - 20 February, 2017 - 17:55
The Sehwan bombing is a result of the Saudi-funded fundamentalism that has taken a grip in the country

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world.

The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of Isis and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. Isis now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country.

Since the 1970s, Saudi oil wealth has been used to spread such intolerant beliefs across the globe

Related: Saudi Arabia and Egypt are excluded from Trump's ban. Why? | Aryeh Neier

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The Muslim Response To Islamophobia is Destroying Us From Within

Muslim Matters - 20 February, 2017 - 16:30

American Muslims are scared and rightfully so. Many are worried about what the future might hold with Trump’s presidency and the increase in public expressions of Islamophobia being spewed right and left. While fear is a valid emotion and is necessary in waking us up out of complacency, it can also lead to negative consequences.

As we read throughout the Quran, all communities of believers are tested with fear-inducing trials. Faced with these tests, successful communities stay united on a shared commitment to God and His religion in spite of the fear. This is often easier said than done. Maintaining commitment to one’s faith and its tenets is not easy in times of trials (fitan) and, oftentimes, fear and anxiety can cloud the decisionmaking process. For Muslims today, anxiety about Islamophobia has the potential to lead our community down a dangerous road. To see how this happens, we only need to refer to the Quran and its account of Bani Israel. In many instances, a strong sense of fear led Bani Israel to directly disobey God’s commandments, which in turn led to ruin (for example, as described in Surah Yunus: “But no one believed Moses, except [some] youths among his people, for fear of Pharaoh and his establishment that they would persecute them.” [10:83]).

Fear Factor

We see the same dynamic in religious and ethnic communities today. An eye opening article recently published in The Federalist is provocatively titled “How Liberalism Destroyed the American Jew.” The article describes how Jewish American political and moral choices over the past several generations have resulted in a thorough loss of faith. A Pew study cited in the article asked Jewish American respondents: What does it mean to be Jewish? One might imagine that the answer would have something to do with believing in God, reading the Torah, or following Abraham and Moses. These points, however, do not factor into Jewish identity according to the majority of the Jewish Americans surveyed by Pew whereas “eating traditional Jewish foods” and “having a good sense of humor” do. The two religious features a minority of respondents did recognize as part of their identity was “caring about Israel” and “observing Jewish law,” but the latter was at the bottom of the list. Other common features of their identity Jewish Americans noted include “leading a moral life” and “working for justice/equality,” though these, of course, are not values unique to Judaism.

What does all this have to do with fear? Well, it is important to note that “remembering the Holocaust” is the overall number one component of Jewish identity that seventy-three percent of Jews recognized. Is it a coincidence that this component has to do with fear? Is it a coincidence that remembering the one greatest act of anti-Semitism, i.e., the Holocaust, is what most Jews consider to be what being Jewish is all about?

There is a clear connection between the remembrance of the Holocaust being the number-one feature of Jewish identity and the fact that the rest of the list has little to nothing to do with Judaism as a theology and more to do with cultural practices and general values that are endorsed by the dominant American culture at large. Fear is a potent motivator. Fear is a potent justifier. Virtually anything can be justified if one believes that the alternative is the Holocaust.

In contrast to the Jewish community, however, the majority of the American Muslim community has not had genocide in its history (though segments of the American Muslim community, such as Black, Native, Bosnian, and Palestinian American Muslims, among others, have). Undoubtedly, American Muslims must be vigilant in the face of any threat. At the same time, the community must be aware of how preparing for a threat can have unintended negative consequences on the community’s faith. For example, making exceptions to, bending, and even discarding otherwise well-established religious principles all become possible if one feels, even remotely, that the spectre of genocide looms. And if the possibility of genocide is on the table, then one can justify to oneself doing anything to embed oneself into the status quo, avoid being politically incorrect, avoid sticking out, avoid going against the grain of the dominant culture, all in order to minimize any hostility by society at large. All of the community’s political, social, and cultural decision making is potentially short-circuited by this fear. Of course, none of this is to say that fear is not a perfectly valid, justified emotion. It certainly is and can be used to accomplish great good. But the question is, even when it is justified, how does that fear affect everything else?

Muslim Identity Means Hijab and Hummus?

Recent sociological and anthropological research examines precisely this question. Numerous studies analyze how “minorities” react in the face of “cultural anxiety” due to widespread bigotry and discrimination. What these studies show is that cultural anxiety is positively correlated with two things: 1) “ethnic essentialism” and 2) “multicultural ideology.” In laymen’s terms, this means that when a minority group feels threatened by the dominant group, they will, first of all, double down on those aspects of their culture and values that they believe to constitute the essence of their group identity. Second, they will increasingly tend to endorse multiculturalism, namely the view that a healthy society should treat all groups within it equally and that the presence of such groups enriches society overall.

These dynamics accurately describe the internal discourse within the American Muslim community since the September 11th attacks. Obviously, Islam is not a culture per se and Muslims are not an ethnicity, but the underlying concepts still apply given that, from a secular perspective, Islam can be considered a set of values, beliefs, and practices, which is what secular academic discourse considers a culture to be for the most part.

That caveat aside, it is beyond dispute that American Muslims have felt a great deal of “cultural anxiety” due to, not only Islamophobic attitudes in American society generally, but also due to hostile government measures that have targeted Muslims and their institutions. The anxiety and fear felt by the Muslim community has led to both essentialism and multiculturalism. Feeling pressure from the dominant American culture has had (what is from an Islamic standpoint) a positive effect of making Muslims more embedded in their Muslim identity, in a word, more “unapologetically Muslim.” At the same time, American Muslims have adopted more of a multicultural attitude as they have become more socially and politically engaged. For example, since 9/11, Muslim involvement in interfaith events, interfaith coalitions, etc., saw a massive increase. Muslim involvement in mainstream political groups and coalitions also jumped. The language of Muslim leaders, imams, and speakers has also been suffuse with expressions of multiculturalism, diversity, relevance, engagement, etc.

While anxiety and fear drive these tendencies of essentialism and multiculturalism, the two are often opposing forces. This is because multiculturalism is characterized by coming together on the basis of shared interests and other commonalities whereas essentialism is characterized by emphasizing differences in order to distinguish one’s own group from the dominant majority. How is this tension resolved?

For American Muslims, the danger is that this tension could result in a deliberate de-emphasis and minimization of those beliefs, values, and practices of Islam that most directly conflict with the dominant culture while overemphasizing specific Muslim cultural markers. This would allow Muslims to maintain some form of a unified, essentialistic identity — even though, primarily, it is cultural rather than religious identity — while also integrating themselves within the larger American milieu and its institutions, which, for the most part, tolerate and even celebrate cultural diversity but not theological, ideological, or ethical diversity. We have seen some signs of this in context of Muslim involvement with certain American political parties in recent years. And again, the example of Jewish Americans proves instructive. As a community, Jewish Americans have a very strong sense of identity and group cohesion, i.e., due to their essentialism, while also being well integrated socially, politically, and culturally, i.e., due to their multiculturalism. In other words, they have resolved the essentialism-multiculturalism divide. But as the previously cited Pew study discovered, the resulting Jewish identity has little to do with the particulars of Judaism as a religion.

Muslim and Atheist at the Same Time

This secularization of Jewish identity also explains the phenomenon of “Jewish atheism.” Not all Jews agree that one can be a Jew without believing in God. Nonetheless, Jewish atheist institutions have become a well established and growing part of the overall Jewish American community. This is not surprising given that half of all Jewish Americans have doubts about God’s existence.

We see similar trends in the Muslim community, as new labels like “ex-Muslim” and “atheist Muslim” have been adopted by people who consider themselves “culturally Muslim” but “theologically atheist.” Neologisms like “atheist Muslim” only make sense if “Muslim,” like “Jew,” is rendered as an ethnic or cultural label, one among many. Of course, the Arabic word “Muslim” itself means “one who submits [to God]” and theologically to be Muslim, in truth, has certain requirements in terms of belief and practice. But these requirements are set by God and communicated through revelation. But from a secular perspective that denies the existence and/or relevance of God, “Muslim” can be deployed in whatever way convention dictates. By this standard, even “Muslim Jew” or “Muslim Christian” should be a linguistic and conceptual possibility.

Ultimately, “cultural anxiety” in the form of Islamophobia will continue to pressure Muslims to secularize and racialize their Muslim identity. As a community, we need to be well aware of this pressure so that we can recognize its signs and strive to resist it. By surrendering ourselves to a crippling fear of anti-Muslim bigotry, we risk losing our very souls. Rather, we need to channel that fear into positive practical and spiritual avenues, namely Islamically-informed activism as well as increased reliance on and fear of God Almighty.

To think of it differently, if there are extreme Islamophobes in the world who want to stamp out Muslims as a religious community, there are two methods to do so. One method would be to deport, intern, or kill Muslims through acts of bigotry or even genocide. The other method would be to create conditions that are conducive to the erosion and dissolution of Muslim faith, such that, eventually, being Muslim has nothing to do with the religious values and norms of Islam. We should ensure that, in our heightened concern for combating the first method, we do not forget to combat the second equally nefarious, equally destructive method as well.

Milo Yiannopoulos, Defends Paedophila and Hates Gays

Loon Watch - 20 February, 2017 - 06:55

Milo Yiannopoulos, senior editor at Breitbart, defends Paedophilia! Lets bust the myth that he is is a champion of homosexual rights. He is NOT. He wants the gays to “get back in the closet”, he hates trans-people and he defends paedophilia.

An account called the Reagan Battalion on Twitter revealed today that Milo defends paedophilia. He believes it is “ok” to have sex with 13 year olds. (Read the transcript of parts of it here!)

““You know people are messy and complex and actually, in the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, that sort of coming of age relationships.”… The relationships with those with older men have helped those young boys discover who they are. And give them security and safety, provide them with love and reliable and sort of a rock.”

When getting the question if he means sex with children he answers, no, only with “sexually mature” young people like “13-year olds”

“You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means. Paedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13-years old who is sexually mature. Paedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is a attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet. Who have not gone through puberty. Who are too young to be able to understand. That is not what we are talking about…”

He claims that it is not paedophilia for an adult to have sex with 13 year olds. He somehow believes that they are “sexually mature”. But that is what it as a matter of FACT is: paedophilia. And lets be frank about this. It is INSANE!

He has done so earlier: defended adult sex with 13-14 year olds, this is not the first time.

HBTQ-rights

But dont make the mistake to believe that the fact that he is for sexual relations between boys and adults,and the fact that he is a homosexual, mean that he is for homosexual rights. He is not!

Lets look at the claim that Milo is somehow an advocate for HBTQ-rights. He is homosexual, but that does not prevent him from hating Gays almost as much as he hates Muslims. And… few homosexuals defend paedophila, keep that in mind!

Milo does not only want to kick out Muslims from the U.S.A, he believes that Homosexuals should be deprived of their rights too, so that America can fight Muslims (!), by breeding more children.

The Muslims are breeding like rabbits and gets a lot of children, while the western world gets fewer children. Therefore the gay men, that are intellectually superior (!),  should “get back into the closet”, marry women and, help saving Western civilization against the Muslim threat. That is how Milo views the world.

He believes that the 1950s, when homosexuals were jailed and persecuted in the Western world, was a good time, when Homosexuals were “in the closet”. Milos even defend the Russian homophobic president Vladimir Putin by stating that he is right when banning homosexuals.

Online photo blogs from San Francisco’s notorious Folsom Street Fair will do nothing to dispel Vladimir Putin’s hunch that the west has become a decadent mess. Frankly, I would have been less ashamed to be gay in the days when being gay was something to be ashamed of. Gays were classier when they were worried about being queer-bashed.

Children with two dads or two moms have a “cruel” childhood. “Children raised in gay households are more likely to suffer mental problems”and lesbians ” are famous for kicking the shit out of each other”. Hardly a positive view of homosexuality.

An example

Lets look at one of the articles Milo has written.

The endless celebration and mollycoddling of homosexuals in the media has transformed the genteel, camp rightsists of the 1950s into brash, glitter-drenched Pride queens. If for no other reasons than manners and aesthetics, we ought to think about shoving the next generation back into Narnia…

In in the 1950s, gay men would “live a lie,” get married and have kids. They’d let off steam in dark rooms and bathhouses. That’s not happening any more: the gay rights movement has liberated queens from societal expectations, so they shack up with their boyfriends and either don’t have children, or adopt…

When I express views like this, I’m sometimes called a reactionary. People say I want to go back to the 50s. And they’re right…  Forcing gays back into the closet also solves the problem of what happens to children when they have two dads or two moms. Children raised in gay households are more likely to suffer mental problems, more likely to end up gay themselves and, if raised by lesbians, almost certain to witness domestic abuse.

So the good news are?

The good news is that gay rights are in the minority, globally speaking. China, India and most of all Russia proudly celebrate the importance of the nuclear family.

You can hardly blame them. Online photo blogs from San Francisco’s notorious Folsom Street Fair will do nothing to dispel Vladimir Putin’s hunch that the west has become a decadent mess. Frankly, I would have been less ashamed to be gay in the days when being gay was something to be ashamed of. Gays were classier when they were worried about being queer-bashed.

It’s also worth considering the fact that the entire Muslim world is virulently homophobic, so men there continue to reproduce like rabbits….

I hate to exaggerate, but you might say that the future of the West sort of depends on us faggots leaping back in the closet and churning out a few kids.

Freedom to choose?

Muslims should be kicked out of the U.S.A and persecuted, homosexuals should return into the closet and queers should be “bashed”. There is no homophobia or racism against Muslims in the U.S.A. But paedophilia with 13 year olds should be legal. That is how Milo views the world.

Milo often attacks Muslims for being homophobic. But he NEVER attacks his own church, the Catholic Church. Quite the opposite, he claims Christians, as “opposed” to Muslims, are compassionate to homosexuals.

What does that tell us about Milo Yiannopoulos?

Well, Milo believes there is no homophobia any more in USA and gets so angry when he hear people speak about it so it makes him want to go out and “bash queers”(2:40). The gentle loving gay “bashing” homosexual Milo? Donald Trump and Steve Bannon has strange friends, indeed!

Council investigates Oldham headteacher's claims of threats

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2017 - 21:17

Department for Education says inquiry has nothing to do with extremism and should not be referred to as a ‘Trojan horse’ case

An investigation has been launched after a headteacher claimed she had been forced to work from home and that her position at an Oldham school had been made untenable by alleged threats and verbal abuse.

The Department for Education is working with Oldham council to investigate allegations made by Trish O’Donnell, head of Clarksfield primary school, that she feared for her safety after a string of alleged incidents that she labelled a “Trojan horse” plot to make her quit.

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Trump, Fox News and Swedish Crime Statistics

Loon Watch - 19 February, 2017 - 05:42

Dunce cap on Trump

Donald Trump did it again on saturday. He talked about the Migration Ban and justified it by talkning about an “incident” in Sweden the day before. To the viewers it sounded like he talked about a terrorist attack, but nothing remarkable happened in Sweden that Friday (I am from Sweden). It is more probable that Trump was talking about a TV segment that aired Friday evening on Tucker Carlson (Fox) about “Muslim Migration” to Sweden and exploding “crime rates” in Sweden. 

Fox  claims that “Muslims” that migrates Sweden has increased the rates of crime astronomically and to prove this they are interviewing Ami Horowitz. He makes a lot of claims about refugees in the short segment while the TV show shows pictures of Muslims and of people rioting. The aim of the claims are to make people scared, They want to fool people to view immigration as something negative, and dangerous.

I am a swede that loves U.S.A. And Ami and Fox News are WRONG!

I will just focus on one thing: the claims about crimes in Sweden.

When Fox news wants to talk about problems with criminality they choose Sweden, why not The Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico or the suburbs of New York?

 

Sweden surely has problems. Unemployment and alienation among immigrants are a big problem. But Sweden is still not as unsafe to live in as the U.S.A.

Lets just look at the statistics that has to do with homocides. Sweden has about 1-1,3 murder per 100.000 inhabitants and USA has about 5, The U.S. controlled Virgin islands has 52 murders per 100.000 (56 homocides 2010) and Puerto Rico 18,5 (681 homocides 2014).

Ami Horowitz  claims that there are No Go Zones in Sweden where that  police does not even enter. No, that is wrong. There are zones with social problems and unemployment among immigrants that RACISTS call No Go Zones. But real No Go Zones are the ones we can find in the USA. Compared to some suburbs in, lets say Philadelphia and Baltimore, the Swedish suburbs are VERY calm and peaceful.

Perhaps Ami has never visited the suburbs of USA?

Statistics and Swedish rape

It is difficult to compare statistics between countries. Not all nations define crime in the same way. In Sweden and USA it is, for example, not a crime to be a homosexual. In nations with laws against homosexuality that “crime” affects the statistics.

The best example of this is the international statistics on rape and sexual assault. I have written about this in a recent article. Sweden with tough laws against rape reports has many reported cases of rapes in its statistics, while Egypt and Mozambique with lousy laws report few or almost no instances of rape.

As “evidence” for this international statistics are cited. Indeed, according to those statistics a lot of rapes are reported in Sweden: 63,5  rape incidents per 100,000 citizens. The USA with 300 million people has 27. That would lead you to think that the numbers of rapes are skyrocketing but then you look at the figures. Sweden with ten million people has 5,960 rapes, Azerbaijan 16, India only 22,000, Lebanon 19, Mozambique 44! And Saudi Arabia claims that there is almost no rape, (and lash the raped women instead), Egypt has about 100 all in all, Canada 576.

Does this mean that Sweden is unsafe for women, and that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Mozambique are paradise for women?

Of course not, there are big differences between all countries. The first is that what is defined as rape in Mozambique and Saudi Arabia is not the same as in Sweden or Germany and what is legally defined as a rape in USA is not the same as in Sweden.

Mozambique still has the old colonial laws that stated rapists to go unpunished if they marry their victims and stay married for at least five years. Saudi Arabia, well… Lots of women are raped but the legal system doesn’t seem to care about that. Egyptian law is not protecting Egyptian women very well.

The Swedish law considers lots of acts as sexual assault and rape that other countries don’t.

That is why the statistics om homocides is so important. The international laws against homocide are ALMOST the same in all countries. And the statistics show that Sweden is a far more peaceful country that USA.

 

To lower crime rates U.S.A should INCREASE the immigration

As for immigration.

If Donald Trump wants to decrease the rates of criminality in USA, he should open the borders and bring in more immigrants. If you look at facts, immigrants to USA have lower rates of crime that the people born in USA.

Many have reported about this fact that is scientificly and statisticly comfirmed. New York Times wrote last year;

“In America, as in Europe, anti-immigrant backlashes have often followed episodes in which foreigners are blamed for crimes and other problems. But statistical studies show that in the United States, at least, immigrants are far more law-abiding than natives, regardless of race, class or education.”

Reason magazine wrote;

“This new study bolsters my reporting on the topic back in 2014 which also found lower rates of criminality among immigrants. As I then noted: University of California sociologist Ruben Rumbaut finds, among other things, that the incarceration rate of American-born males between 18 and 39 years of age was five times the rate of foreign-born males, and finds similar conclusions in a survey of other studies on the topic.

Rumbaut and his colleagues have updated their data. From the executive summary of their study:

‘For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not “criminals” by any commonly accepted definition of the term. For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime.'”

Lets look at the statistics. I looked at this some years ago and found these excellent charts from one of the studies by Rumbaut. It is statistics that show that 3% of the US population between 18 and 39 was incarnated 2000. 3,5% of the U.S. born population and 0,86% of the foreign born population was incarnated.

Thus: to decrease the crime rates in the U.S.A: increase immigration!

 

The chart above is, by the way, also a sign that USA has far greater problems with criminality that Sweden. USA had 758 incarnated per 100.000 inhabitants 2005-2007. Sweden had 77!

 

 

 

One converted to Islam, the other went to far-right rallies: a modern tale of two brothers

The Guardian World news: Islam - 19 February, 2017 - 00:05

They were party animals from the Midlands. Now a TV series explores the lives of Abdul and Lee

In their youth, brothers Shaun and Lee did what they describe as the usual things: “getting wrecked” – drink, drugs, clubbing, gambling. “The party was always at our house, put it that way. And I was the host,” said Shaun.

But Shaun has since become Abdul, a convert to Islam whose life is governed by his devotion to Allah and the strict demands of his faith. Meanwhile, Lee travelled around the country to anti-Muslim rallies organised by the English Defence League. The brothers have taken starkly different directions. But Abdul told the Observer: “I know Lee loves me and I love him.”

Related: 'We want you to know you're not alone': why I went to visit a mosque

I knew he had some sort of secret, but I thought he was gay or something.

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Are Alien Lizards behind the “Muslim Invasion”?

Loon Watch - 18 February, 2017 - 15:07

Besides Breitbart, Inforwars is another one of Donald Trump´s main sources of news and information. The connection between Trump and Infowars makes me wonder if Donald believe that some humans are alien lizards too, as Alex Jones do. Do the American president believes that some of the worldleaders he talk to are lizards dressed  as humans?

President Donald Trump claim that 3 million votes where casted by illegal immigrants. All of them apparently voted for Hillary Clinton. His source for that allegation is Infowars.com. Donald has agreed to be interviewed on Infowars and he has tweeted “news” from Infowars. Inforwars is no longer a fringe source of bizarre propaganda. Infowars is respected by the President of USA.

In the fall 2015 Trump spread the claim that Muslims celebrated in New York when the twin towers were brought down by terrorists. In the tweet he links to an article in Infowars.

Myth or fact?

There were individuals that celebrated in the USA. No doubt. But no evidence or facts has ever been presented about hundreds or thousands of Muslims that allegedly celebrated in or around New York City  when WTC collapsed. This is a FACT. Rumours spread by people that hate Muslims, or hearsay is NOT facts. Besides that, 60 Muslims died in the attacks on 9/11 so the Muslims grieved their dead. Thousands ran for their lives that day. Radical islamists are killing tens of thousands of Muslims every year. They are victims of the radical islamist terror too.

As for Alex Jones and his Infowars. Well, I still remember listening to his broadcast after 9/11. He talked about alien lizards that were a part of the conspiracy to attack USA on 9/11. This is something that he has not talked much about since then. But the aliens are still a part of his worldview. It is the conspiracy to “replace men with machines” and to make the Muslims “burn down all of Europe”, let them “invade U.S.A, and to make the ruling elite “Gods”.

Alex Jones is “joking” that Hillary Clinton is an alien lizard that give birth to aliens in a glass of water. Hardly a joke, since Alex truly believe Hillary has reptilian, alien, DNA.

“I warned Mr. Trump to be careful of shape-shifting reptilian aliens trying to infiltrate his campaign,” said Jones on his radio show “Info Wars.” “I believe that many of Hillary Clinton’s health problems are down to the fact that her reptilian DNA is having a hard time adapting to our environment.”

He also believe that Hillary Clinton is a demon, but that is not a joke for him. Look at this!

And the health care reform of President Obama was of course made up by the lizards. Or what do you think about this?

Alex Jones have featured David Icke on his show. David Icke is the antisemitic “mastermind” behind the claim that alien lizards are trying to take over the earth.

“Humanity is actually under the control of dinosaur-like alien reptiles called the Babylon Brotherhood who must consume human blood to maintain their human appearance.” (Icke)

A trustworthy source of information? Well ask Mr. Alex Jones to present the facts. There are not any. If you dont believe that flies that land on a person is an evidence of them being “demons”, and reflections in a glass of water is evidence of people behing lizards from outer space?!

The only question is if Donald Trump believes in this alien conspiracy theory too?

 

Blair not the man to lead Brexit fightback

Indigo Jo Blogs - 17 February, 2017 - 22:45

Picture of Tony Blair wearing a dark suit with a pinkish/purple tie with a microphone attached, standing in front of a blue backgroundThe former British prime minister, Tony Blair, today gave a speech in the City of London in which he declared that Brexit could be defeated if the people who opposed it “rise up” (the BBC have a video of part of the speech here). In the speech, hosted by Open Britain (the successor to Britain Stronger In Europe), in keeping with his previous positions on the subject, he is expected to say that “the people voted without knowledge of the true terms of Brexit” and while “the will of the people” should be respected, that opinion might change when the true costs of leaving the EU become clear:

Our challenge is to expose relentlessly the actual cost, to show how this decision was based on imperfect knowledge which will now become informed knowledge, to calculate in easy-to-understand ways how proceeding will cause real damage to the country and its citizens and to build support for finding a way out from the present rush over the cliff’s edge.

The problematic part of Blair’s speech concerns immigration. The Guardian notes that “many of his critics have accused him of presiding over a wave of immigration from eastern European countries without being straight with the electorate about its likely magnitude”. Yet instead of taking on the anti-immigrant argument head-on, he seeks to divert it towards what he sees as less desirable immigrants:

There is in some parts of the country a genuine concern about numbers from Europe – real pressures on services and wages. But for many people, the core of the immigration question – and one which I fully accept is a substantial issue – is immigration from non-European countries, especially when from different cultures in which assimilation and potential security threats can be an issue.

“Nonetheless, we have moved in a few months from a debate about what sort of Brexit, involving a balanced consideration of all the different possibilities, to the primacy of one consideration – namely controlling immigration from the EU – without any real discussion as to why and when Brexit doesn’t affect the immigration people most care about.

This goes to the heart of his policy towards east European immigration during the mid-2000s. The first set of east European countries (other than former East Germany) to join the EU did so in 2004, a year before the July 2005 London bombings, but it was three years into the “War on Terror” and three years after the Oldham riots. Muslim immigration was already being blamed for causing a breakdown of “social cohesion”, for fostering inward-looking communities which bred extremism. In the immediate aftermath of Oldham the problem of ‘segregated’ neighbourhoods and schools was raised, but “bringing brides from the village back home” (and the fact that the spouses rarely spoke good English) was widely blamed for the problems of ‘segregation’ — racism and discrimination in the job market was generally overlooked. Yet it was generally accepted that the country needed workers; few British people wanted to do low-skilled jobs that did not pay much.

Blair calculated that the labour shortage caused by shutting off the flow of south Asian immigrants could be plugged by allowing unrestricted immigration from the new EU countries of Eastern Europe, which it should be remembered that the rest of Europe did not, and which also had not been allowed immediately when Spain and Portugal joined the then EEC. He may have underestimated the numbers who would come, but I believe he also calculated that they would not provoke much opposition because they were white and Christian and would “blend in”, and likely be quickly assimilated into the local populations (doubtless he approved of the idea of them filling up empty churches, particularly Catholic ones, as well). This speech demonstrates that he has not moved on from his thinking then and not realised his mistake. He believes in the EU as a union of Christian nations, effectively a “fortress Europe”. (I actually dispute that “many people” were that concerned about Muslim immigration; the numbers were much smaller than the flood of migrants from eastern Europe, who went to different parts of the country and did entirely different jobs from the Asian immigrants. The opposition was much greater from the outset.)

Some people are saying we should not concentrate too much on the messenger but focus on the message. While I am not going to abandon the campaign to stop Brexit just because Blair is part of it — I always knew he was pro-EU, both while in power and during the referendum campaign — he is not the right person to lead it. Apart from being discredited for taking this country into war on false grounds against public opposition, his policies both electorally and in office are the reason we are in the mess we are in now. We don’t need the fightback against Brexit to feature side-swipes against groups of immigrants (including eastern Europeans, as they are here now and have children born here, some of them with British partners) or minorities. We should not be fighting for a white, monocultural fortress Europe; we need to rise above the bigotry and fear that characterises the Brexit campaign.

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