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Updated: 2 weeks 3 days ago

The United States of Donald Trump

13 November, 2016 - 22:30

“It feels like 9/11.”

This is how a large swathe of racist America felt after Barack Hussein Obama was elected in 2008.

Now they are empowered.

The United States elected a fascist. A man who whipped up hate and xenophobia to shocking and unprecedented levels. The people surrounding and advising Donald Trump are the same people we have been warning about and exposing for years now. There was never a doubt that any Republican victory in the presidency would embolden this network of professional and career fear-mongers; Trump’s candidacy was worse than all of them.

This thread is for you to share your reflections and thoughts on the election of an American fascist.

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The “War On Terror” In The Coming Presidency Of Hillary Clinton

28 October, 2016 - 23:08

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By Garibaldi

A flashback to a scene from the early years of America’s “War on Terror” and how the US put the Muslim American community under a national microscope, pressuring it to police it’s own communities. Back then some Muslim institutions reacted to the pressure by creating campaigns to prevent radicalization and terrorism. Today the US government is doing the same through programs such as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

The main talking point of a 2004 news conference by US Attorney General John Ashcroft was to tell the American public the not-so-earth-shattering news that “Alqaeda intends to attack the United States in the coming months.” Ashcroft shared photographs of seven people being sought in connection with terrorism investigations. CNN described another portion of Ashcroft’s address which focused on possible threats in these strange terms,

He also warned that terrorists may not have a typical look and that ‘the face of al Qaeda may be changing.’ Our intelligence confirms al Qaeda is seeking recruits who can portray themselves as Europeans,’ he said.” (emphasis mine)

The word “typical” in the CNN report is jarring, since it implies “terrorists” in general have a particular, predominant appearance, i.e. brown men with Middle East/Arab or Indo-Pakistani  features. This hearkens to the well-worn stereotypes discussed in works such as John Woods article “Imagining and Stereotyping Islam” and Edward Said’s book, “Covering Islam” among others.

America is being told, be on guard for anyone, it’s no longer safe to only be suspicious of the stereotypical brown looking terrorist, even your convert neighbor in suburbia could stealthily kill you. This of course means that converts to Islam are also under suspicion. This “diversified” representation of terrorists found its way onto TV dramas such as Sleeper Cell and more recently Homeland.

An important aspect to highlight from the Ashcroft news conference is that the seven who were described as “Wanted Alqaeda suspects at-large” were named by Khaled Shaikh Mohammed. Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, one of the professed planners behind 9/11 was extensively “waterboarded” (a torture technique) over 183 times in March 2003 (Terry, p.605). If the names of the seven were extracted under the duress of torture it adds an additional issue of the government using unreliable and tainted information to instill fear in the populace.

Tom Ridge, who was director of Homeland Security at the time stated that the “color-coded terror alert level” would not be raised. Later that year, for the only time, the terror alert level was raised, from yellow (elevated), to orange (high risk of terror attacks). The move was controversial as it was an election year and Democrats accused Republicans of raising the threat level for political reasons.

At the time, Tom Ridge towed the administration line and stated that the decision to raise the alert level had nothing to do with politics. However, in 2009 he revealed that he raised the alert level due to political pressure.

At the news conference the FBI director, Robert Mueller added that:

“We need the public, both in the United States and — I’ll emphasize — overseas to be on the lookout for these seven individuals. We want to know whether you’ve seen them in your communities, or that someone might be hiding them. If you have any idea where they might be, we need you to come forward.” (emphasis added) (CNN)

It was in this context and in response to these specific calls by the heads of government law enforcement agencies that MPAC decided to hold its own press conference announcing a national campaign to end terrorism.

MPAC was responding to a situation in which Muslim Americans were under intense scrutiny to prove they were loyal to the United States. Islamophobic narratives that are still common and widespread found ample breathing room in 2004. Maleiha Malek, quoting Field writes, “there has been an increased ‘tendency to criticize the inactivity of the Muslim population as a whole, and not just its leaders,’ arising from a belief that the ‘Muslim community had not done enough to prevent support in its midst.’” (Malik, Maleiha. Anti-Muslim Prejudice: Past and Present. London: Routledge, 2010. Print. p.146)

our-motto-is-when-they-go-low-we-go-high-5542974Fast-forwarding to today, when you analyze the track record of the Obama administration you see that he has continued and escalated the “War on Terror,” even if the language used to describe it has softened. Is it any wonder then that Homeland, a popular TV series, which plays on the simplified complex representation of Muslims, and the bifurcation of Muslims into the categories of either “good and bad” was at one time Obama’s favorite TV show?

The prevalence of Islamophobia, so fully on display during this presidential campaign season, is not simply a right-wing phenomenon. Obama administration-led initiatives, such as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) are meant to co-opt Muslim communities and leaders into a program designed to sell war efforts while proclaiming to help Muslim Americans “fight radicalization.”

Arun Kundnani has shown that CVE is an outgrowth of the UK’s failed neo-con PREVENT program. It also has the contradictory effect of dangerously violating the ‘separation of religion and state,’ since the government is putting itself in the position of adjudicating what is “good, moderate Islam,” (Muslims uncritical or supportive of government policy) and “bad, radical Islam” (Muslims critical of government policies). (Spooked! How Not To Prevent Violent Extremism)

Relief from viewing the Muslim community and Islam through a politicized discourse revolving around ‘securitization’ will not be found in a Hillary Clinton presidency. Barack Obama’s presidency is going to be considered a honeymoon for Muslim Americans when hawkish Hillary takes over.

As indicated by troubling statements/positions by Bill Clinton and Hillary herself, Muslim Americans are accepted into the fabric of society on the condition that they offer their bodies and lives on the “frontlines” of the greater project to sustain American imperialism abroad and social control at home by policing their own communities.

Myanmar: Director of Religious Affairs Allegedly Bans Quran Reading At Homes

26 October, 2016 - 22:39

By Emperor

The Rohingya Muslims according to experts on genocide face the “final stages of genocide.” Part and parcel of the persecution of Rohingya has been targeting their religious identity and practice. According to Rohingya activists on the ground previously this meant that the public practice and appearance of Islam was restricted, now it has been extended to religious practice at home.

One activist, Aung Aung Sittwe, has reported that the District Director of Religious Affairs in the capital city of NayPyiDaw, has instructed subordinates not to let Muslims learn the Qur’an at home any longer. How this can or will be implemented is anyone’s guess. It is, if authentic, one more salvo in the anti-Rohingya campaign led by bigoted military officials and Buddhist nationalists.

The Rohingya are not welcome in Myanmar’s public school system, among other limitations the stateless ethnic minority faces in their homeland.

Challenging Domestic Violence in Tunisia

25 October, 2016 - 19:07

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Yes, it’s true that laws too often in some majority Muslim nations restrict and discriminate against the rights of women, as do certain societal and cultural norms. At the forefront of upending such discriminatory practices are Muslim women politicians from the Ennahda party.

via. The Guardian

Almost half of women aged 18-64 – 47.6% – had experienced some form of violence, according to a 2010 survey. There is little evidence that the situation has improved since the uprising that ended the dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and led to a democratically elected government.

However, this month Tunisia’s parliament is debating a bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women. Championed by Ennahdha, a conservative reformist party with Islamic roots and a clutch of dynamic female MPs and officials, the bill is expected to be passed by the end of 2016.

The proposed law, which would be incorporated into other legislation and government policies, would introduce sweeping definitions of gender-based violence, covering psychological and economic harm in both the public and domestic spheres. Marital rape would be outlawed and there would be an end to impunity for rapists if their victims are under 20 and they subsequently marry them. Penalties for sexual harassment at work would be increased and police officers and hospital staff trained in gender issues.

The scope of the bill may challenge western stereotypes of Islam, but Mehrezia Labidi, an Ennahdha MP and chair of the parliamentary women’s committee, said: “We see no contradiction between Islam and protecting women’s rights. We have a progressive reading of Islam.”

Sayida Ounissi, 29, another Ennahdha MP and secretary of state for entrepreneurship in the coalition government led by the secular Nidaa Tounes party, said: “It’s good to have conservatives like us saying violence against women is not acceptable. Some conservatives might argue that the state should not interfere in the private space [of the family], but when a person’s physical integrity is harmed, the state needs to step in.”

Tunisia may have a better record on women’s rights than other countries in the region, “but we compare ourselves to international standards”, she added.

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On The Četnik Atrocities Against Muslims

21 October, 2016 - 21:08

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The Balkan Muslims and the Muslims of Eastern Europe have faced many trials and tribulations over the years. Their communities have been targeted for systematic destruction several times.

Recently, I came across the interesting work and writings of Ćamil Jusuf Avdić, a pioneering Muslim scholar in America, in a nice volume called: “A Heritage of East & West: The Writings of Imam Ćamil Jusuf Avdić.”

In the process of reading some of the his writings I encountered a shocking fact that hitherto I have not read before. It relates to the destruction and murder of 200,000 Bosnian Muslims during World War II. I reproduce below selected passages dealing with the crimes perpetrated by the Četniks and their leader, General Draža Mihailović.

“The Četniks were paramilitary, pan-Serbian units, whose duty, in the beginning, was for the struggle against the Turks, and afterwards against all Muslims in the Balkans, as well as against Croats and Bulgars, Hungarians and Germans. They were both national and religious fanatics. Colonel Mihailović was promoted by King Peter to the rank of general and minister of war to the Yugoslav government in exile. This title and post was a reward for his ‘heroic’ exploits against Muslim children, women and old men, as we shall see. The Western Allies also raised him to the rank of a ‘hero’ due to the propaganda of the Yugoslav government-in-exile. We shall prove here through objective argument what the real plans and actions of this man were, and against whom the Četniks were directed. Firstly the order du jour of Draža Mihailović issued on the 20th December 1941, No. 370, wherein he stated the need to, ‘Create a common frontier between Serbia and Montenegro by cleaning the district of the Sandžak of Novi Pazar of its Muslims, and ridding Bosnia-Hercegovina of all Muslims and Catholics.’

(…)

Following this declaration Mihailović let loose his force of Četniks to put into execution his orders. Bosnia-Hercegovina and the Sandžak became a hell for the unarmed and abandoned Muslim masses. More than 200,000 were killed in a most inhuman and horrible manner; villages and hamlets became graveyards; thousands and thousands of refugees fled to Sarajevo and other great cities.” (p.52-55)

White Terrorists Planned Attack On Somali Muslim Immigrants

17 October, 2016 - 18:20

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Calling themselves “Crusaders,” three members of a Kansas militia have been charged with attempting to blow up an apartment complex where Somali Muslim refugees live. The “Crusader” ideology is prevalent among the Islamophobia movement and we have documented this for years.

via. Slate

They called themselves the “Crusaders” and had a clear purpose: launch an attack against Muslims that would lead to a “bloodbath.” With any luck that would help spark a religious war. But their plans were thwarted as three Kansas men were arrested on Friday for planning an attack on a Garden City, Kansas, apartment complex filled with Somali immigrants that is also home to a mosque. They planned to carry out the attack one day after the November election.

“They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a large explosion,”the Department of Justice said.

“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,’ ” according to the criminal complaint.

About 120 people live and worship in the apartment complex they planned to attack.

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The Genocide Of Cambodia’s Muslims

14 October, 2016 - 20:00

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Southeast Asia is currently witnessing the destruction of the Rohingya Muslim community. This is not the first time in modern history this has happened. The Cham Muslims of Cambodia were slaughtered during the rule of the bloody Khmer Rogue in the 1970s.

The Khmer Rogue killed 500,000 ethnic Cham Muslims, almost 25% of their 2 million victims. For perspective consider that the Cham Muslims were only 1% of Cambodia’s population. Yet, there are still individuals who question whether it amounted to genocide even though there is documented evidence that the Cham were targeted due to their religious beliefs:

The Muslim Cham were rounded up by Khmer Rouge forces, forced to eat pork, and banned from using their traditional language. Qurans were collected and burned.

The current Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, was a Khmer Rogue commander in areas where atrocities against the Cham were committed. Nowadays he proclaims to be a champion of religious diversity though in 2013 he said Muslims were “lucky to live in Cambodia.”

New Jersey: Bayonne Mosque Targeted In Hate Vandalism

14 October, 2016 - 18:46

Another Islamophobic vandalism. Bayonne mosque in New Jersey was vandalized with despicable words, including: “F— Allah,” “F— Arabs,”Donald trump.” Clearly, a very deplorable individual thought this was a good idea. (h/t: Kamran M.)

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Oppression of Rohingya May Have Led Some To Raise Arms

14 October, 2016 - 18:34

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The Rohingya Muslims, a stateless minority who has faced systemic persecution including state-led violence at the hands of the Myanmar government and military authorities for decades are under siege once again. There has never been a meaningful militancy on the part of the Rohingya despite enduring what amounts to a genocide.

The narratives painting Rohingya and Muslims in Myanmar as terrorists, advanced by Buddhist nationalist extremists such as Wirathu may have received a boon through the current attacks on border outposts in the Western Rakhine state of Myanmar where a majority of Rohingya live. Videos that have not been authenticated show men speaking the Rohingya language and calling for “jihad” to liberate themselves from the oppression they face. It is unclear exactly what unfolded and who is responsible but the response by the Myanmar government has been excessive, already 26 Rohingya have been confirmed killed.

By Fiona MacGregor, Myanmar Times

Whether, when its shape becomes clearer, it will be revealed to also include some aspects of international terrorism remains to be seen, but the new form of ethno-religious conflict now stalking Rakhine State is unlikely to be vanquished quickly or easily, or without further loss of life.

Those who are at pains to point out that the public at least do not yet know who committed the attacks on three border police stations in northern Rakhine on October 9 – killing nine officers, and allegedly shouting the name “Rohingya” – are correct.

But what we do know is this: Rakhine is witnessing the worst violence it has seen since the 2012 troubles and there are now videos circulating on social media which apparently show armed men calling for jihad in the name of the Rohingya cause – videos that are being reposted by, among other high-profile figures, former information minister U Ye Htut.

In response, the military has launched violent assaults on Rohingya communities around Maungdaw, purportedly targeted as attackers, but which rights groups have said are extra-judicial killings. Yesterday, helicopters were seen at Sittwe Airport. They were there, officials said, to evacuate teachers from Maungdaw, but were clearly armed with rocket launchers.

With conflicts in other parts of the country now proving ongoing military impunity for war crimes and human rights abuses, the potential for death and destruction in Rakhine is manifold.

This is the most-dreaded scenario, feared by all those engaged in finding, and hoping for, a solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine. As of yesterday morning, a tally of state media reports indicated that 43 people – 30 alleged attackers and 13 security personnel – have been killed.

With senior authorities yet to divulge details or alleged affiliation of those accused of the attacks who have been capture alive, speculation has abounded.

Initial allegations by local government officials named the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation as being behind the incidents. The claim prompted widespread debate about whether such a group – last confirmed to have been active in the 1990s, but blamed by the government for a number of smaller-scale attacks on the border in the past two years – is still even in existence in any relation to its initial incarnation.

But the appearance of the two videos, which feature young men calling for jihad in the Rohingya language, has bolstered claims that there is at least some appetite for armed action among some minority Muslims, whatever name their group goes by.

Even if the current situation is brought under control quickly, these videos are not going to be forgotten by those who seek to stir nationalist aggression in this country – radical monk U Wirathu has inundated the internet with gleeful “told you so’s”. Nor can their implication be avoided by those who seek to uphold the rights of the vast majority of Rohingya who have remained peaceful despite suffering longstanding rights abuses.

A Rohingya representative speaking to The Myanmar Times yesterday rejected claims the attacks were drugs-related rather than representing some form of uprising.

Myanmar Border Police on October 11 prepare the flag-draped coffins bearing nine bodies of border guards killed two days earlier.AFPMyanmar Border Police on October 11 prepare the flag-draped coffins bearing nine bodies of border guards killed two days earlier.AFP

Nearly 7 million narcotics tablets, with an estimated street value of K14 billion (US$11.1 million), were seized during two raids in Maungdaw last month, leading some to speculate that the attacks on the police bases were some form of reprisal. However, the representative said that restrictions on movement meant large-scale involvement in, or serious profiteering from, the illegal trade would be difficult for people in Rohingya communities.

Abdul Rashid, a Rohingya rights campaigner, confirmed that those who appeared in the jihadist videos spoke the Rohingya language with a Rakhine (rather than Bangladeshi) accent. He added that one man “maybe studied” in Saudi Arabia as he was speaking Arabic, but the rest appeared to be local, based on their speech. None of his contacts in Maungdaw recognised any of those who appeared in the videos, he added.

“Most of them appear to be very young men or even boys. I don’t think they have leadership,” he said, rejecting the involvement of terrorists from other Eastern countries and describing it as a “small-scale” response arising out of “frustration” and deliberately fuelled by those seeking to destablise the current democratically elected government.

Nevertheless, this frustration – created by years of deliberate oppression – was something that needed to be addressed urgently, he said. He added that he had been warning the international community about such a threat and the possibility of such frustrations being used to further others’ agendas for a long time, but they had not taken his concerns seriously.

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Boredom Will Do

11 October, 2016 - 22:26

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Original Guest Article, Part 6/6

By Umar Lee

In 1992 I had just met a young enthusiastic convert to Islam named Randy Royer. In fact I was the first person he met when he walked into the masjid for the first time and I was a witness for his shahadah. Although the two of us both grew-up in St. Louis County our families, neighborhoods, schools, and path to both Islam and political activism was much different.

Randy grew-up in an artistic and educated family and I grew-up in a blue-collar Southern Baptist family. Randy lived in an upper middle-class neighborhood in West St. Louis County  (which I saw as fabulously wealthy at the time) and I lived in the working-class Ferguson-Florissant area.

We were both teenagers at the time and had both done poorly in high school. While we were poor students in school we were both bookish and had a love for learning and bonded over books and being the only two teenagers in a mosque mostly populated by men our parents age.

In 1992, just as in 2016, Washington University in St. Louis, hosted a presidential debate. Randy told me he would be protesting the debate along with a group of his punk rock buddies from West County and invited me to join. That would be the first of many political protests in my life.

I won’t bore you about the slightly amusing details of that day or our run-ins with supporters of President George H.W. Bush. Instead I want to use 1992 to talk about 2016.

1992 featured the fresh face of Democratic Nominee Bill Clinton playing saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show, answering questions about his underwear on MTV,  facing rumors about his womanizing, and answering veterans for his failure to serve in Vietnam. The race also featured H. Ross Perot who like Donald Trump was a billionaire political-outsider promising to run America like a business. Then you had the incumbent President Bush who had all the enthusiasm his son Jeb would display in 2016.

The election of 1992 seemed like a wild-ride at the time. Looking back it seems like a black and white movie or an old action film without modern film-making technology. Nothing in our past has prepared us for the pure crassness and lunacy of the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Randy would go on to be known as Ismail and would become a prominent Muslim activist living and working in Washington, DC. Working for CAIR, AMC, and MAS, Ismail helped win some major civil-rights victories for Muslims. However, it was his activism outside of DC that would lead my friend Ismail to trouble.

Watching the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia on TV Ismail wasn’t satisfied to just write his Congressman or participate in marches. Ismail went to Bosnia and volunteered to fight with the mujahideen. Later he’d do the same in Kashmir.

Today Ismail is nearing the end of a 20 year prison sentence. Ismail, like a lot of other good and sincere Muslims, fell victim to overzealous federal prosecutions after 9/11.

I never went to Bosnia and Kashmir. Perhaps it was due to my blue-collar upbringing and a keen sense of knowing when something spells trouble or having enough adventure at home.

Ismail sought to help create a more perfect world. Pessimists like myself reject utopian ideologies knowing that you may be able to improve the world a little bit; but humanity is so flawed we will never come near perfection. That’s why I have no problem compromising and voting for a Hillary Clinton or a Chris Koster. Yeah, they’re not great, but people aren’t great and for the moment it’s the best we can do.

On the flip side of the coin you have other utopian believers. They want to Make America Great Again and they’ve placed all of their faith in Donald Trump.  In their utopian vision America peaked in the 1950’s and they want to bring it back. Like all utopian visions, from left to right (Jill Stein included), it can’t be achieved without massive destruction to actual humans.

I mentioned before that Ismail  (and me to be honest) found it too boring to write our congressman. Ismail’s congressman happened to be Richard Gephardt. A flawed congressman indeed with a shady racial past as a St. Louis Alderman. Congressman Gephardt, while we were busy talking about Bosnia, was helping to make St. Louis the biggest hub for Bosnian refugees in America. Today St. Louis is home to a thriving Bosnian community with minarets surrounded by malls.

Sometimes boring will suffice.

After $1.7 Million Settlement, Threat to Bomb Islamic School In Michigan

6 October, 2016 - 19:26

Pamela Geller, that throwback to a not so by-gone era of Islamophobic blogging, was all in a fit over the $1.7 million dollar settlement awarded to an Islamic school that was prevented from building in a Michigan town. The judgement is historic and hopefully will send a message that a denial of the religious freedom of any group is not acceptable in the USA. Geller’s followers of course responded with the usual invective and hate, calling for the Islamic School to be bombed. This is a threat that should be looked into by the authorities:

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Boca Raton: A Center For Islamophobic Groups

3 October, 2016 - 18:33

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The Boston Globe has an intriguing story about how Islamophobic groups and individuals in Boca Raton are crusading against a local mosque being designated as a polling center for the upcoming November presidential elections. The response of some locals has been extremely bigoted, as many of them assert the usual conspiracy theories we have grown accustomed to and which Donald Trump has tapped into to rise to the top of the GOP.

via. The Boston Globe

Ted Seymour, 77, a local Republican committee member with a Trump bumper sticker on his Mazda SUV, frequently drives past the mosque. He chatted with Bassem Alhalabi and his wife at an interfaith event just outside of town, and they invited him to visit the Islamic center, but he has yet to find the time to stop in.

It’s not that he doesn’t like Muslims, he says, describing himself as a Christian missionary. He has befriended many Muslims during his travels to Dubai, Egypt, and Lebanon. He even speaks enough Arabic to stumble through greetings.

But Seymour says he believes rumors that the Islamic center has connections with extremism. So when he received word that the mosque would be his new polling site, he recoiled and immediately contacted the county’s GOP leaders.

“It’s an uncomfortable place to vote with all that’s going on,” said Seymour, a retired salesman. “Just common sense would tell you that with all the radical Islamic terrorism happening and the hatred of Jews, it doesn’t make sense to have a polling place at a mosque right in the middle of an Orthodox Jewish community.”

Other voters echoed similar sentiments in calls and e-mails to Boca Raton’s mayor, Susan Haynie, a Republican who ended up urging the county to find an alternative polling site — somewhere “more familiar to voters.’’

“They were mostly fear-based concerns,” Haynie told the Globe. “I’m not going to judge whether their concerns were founded, but any location that would have a negative impact on voter turnout should be rethought.”

***

It is not hard to find anti-Muslim activism in this part of Florida. Two hours north of Boca Raton, in Viera, a security guard stood posted at the entrance of a government building. Inside, as thunder boomed and lightning illuminated the night sky, Roger Gangitano kicked off a local chapter meeting of ACT for America, an organization that claims 1,000 chapters across the country and bills itself as the “NRA of national security.”

Before him sat more than 50 graying citizens, including about a dozen veterans. Also in attendance: a county commissioner and a candidate for City Council in a neighboring town. One man, a retired economist, wore a bright red Trump T-shirt beneath a tweed blazer.

The Gatlin Brothers played over the sound system. Gangitano playfully danced by the lectern, as members passed a collections basket around the room. Then he delivered the invocation.

“Dear God,” said the Long Island transplant, “teach us not to be judgmental.”

He proceeded to accuse “almost all Muslim organizations in America” of being front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslims, he said, are waging a “settlement jihad” in the United States.

“By 2020, they will probably be putting up a presidential candidate,” Gangitano warned.

A woman in the crowd gasped. “Oh God!” she said.

Gangitano seized on the Boca Raton mosque controversy to illustrate why its members must remain vigilant against the encroachment of Islam into American civic life and “defend our Democratic values.”

Tony Verzi, a longtime member seated in the front row, stood to update the group on refugee resettlement — “one of the best-kept secrets in American history.” He urged them “to be on the lookout” and attend county commissioner meetings to make sure Syrian refugees aren’t being let into the county.

Continue reading…

The Barbary Wars and Modern Islamophobia

30 September, 2016 - 19:36

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By Garibaldi

The Barbary Wars are a period of much modern polemic in the West, specifically the United States. Islamophobes and racists such as the late Christopher Hitchens popularized the notion that today’s “War on Terror” is just the most current manifestation of a long, continuous and unbroken history of conflict pitting the United States against Islam or so-called “Islamic terrorism” to use their language. In their telling the aggressors have always been Muslims, driven by Islamic doctrine and an urge to take over the West.

The ahistorical use of the Barbary wars fails to account for the nuances of the time period and the motives of Barbary, and other states in the Mediterranean Sea. The following excerpt from “The Wars of the Barbary Pirates: To the Shores of Tripoli: The Rise of the US Navy and Marines” critiques the distortions of Islamophobic propagandists who seek to satisfy contemporary political agendas, i.e. unending wars in Muslim majority nations.

“Even when light is shone on this long-forgotten period, reality is occasionally distorted by those who would seek to satisfy a political agenda rather than establish historical fact. In no way is this more obviously so than with respect to the role – or lack thereof – played by religion in America’s wars against the Barbary States. Despite the many parallels recently drawn between these conflicts and that between United States and al-Qaeda, the historical record does not lend itself to comparison. In short, the Barbary Wars, did not constitute, as at least one author maintains, “America’s first war on terror.” America did not perceive itself at war with terrorists, however defined, and while piracy was clearly a scourge to American trade, the religious component to the wars was confined to the Barbary States’ notion that Christians, being infidels, were inferior to Muslims. In recognizing this, one must not ignore the fact, that conversely, Christians felt themselves superior, morally and theologically speaking, to their Muslim opponents, as is clear from contemporary literature.

Yet however much the two sides condemned the other as deviants from the one true faith, they did not emphasize differences of religion in any more than peripheral terms – much less claim them as a motive for war. The Barbary States were not theocracies, with Muslim clerics controlling the levers of power. There was no “jihad,” except insofar as the stirring of religious hatred served the interests of powers bent on profit. Nor had the United States, specifically founded on the basis of a separation of church and state, any religious agenda to pursue. It, too, sought profit, but in the form of free trade rather than piracy.

If a degree of hypocrisy creeps into the debate over the motives behind America’s wars against the Barbary States, no more is this so than with respect to the issue of white slavery. Morally reprehensible though the enslavement of Christians by Muslims certainly was, it was no more unpalatable than the Western practice of enslaving black Africans. Slaves on American plantations had virtually no prospect of eventual release (known as manumission): they were denied citizenship, and their inferior status also denied them recourse to the judicial system to challenge the legal basis that categorized them as property rather than as people. Nor did sharing a common Christian faith – clearly interpreted differently by slaves and slave-owners – protect them from bondage.

By contrast, not only did the Barbary States decline to enslave co-religionists, they had a vested interest in releasing slaves, for freedom came at the price of ransom, for the purpose of which the captives had been taken in first place. If, pending their release, the white slaves held by the Barbary States were put to hard labor, poorly fed, and subjected to abuse, the same was true for slaves in South Carolina or Jamaica – the difference being that whereas a white slave in North Africa could hold out some hope of eventual release, the same could not be said for his black counterpart in North America. It is important, moreover, to compare the scale of slavery as practiced, for instance, in the United States on the one hand, and Algiers on the other. Whereas in 1790 there were nearly 700,000 slaves in America, there were only 3,000 in Algiers. Even an aggregate total for the whole of North Africa would not begin to approach the scale of slavery as conducted in the United States alone, not to mention the West Indies and other parts of the New World. Western powers situated on the Atlantic seaboard, practically all of which themselves practiced slavery, naturally did not recognize this apparent paradox.”

Dresden: Police Assume ‘Xenophobic’ Motive In Mosque Attack

28 September, 2016 - 17:04

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Horrible news out of Germany. (h/t Mend)

via. The Guardian

Police suspect a far-right motive after two improvised explosive devices detonated outside a mosque and congress centre in Dresden just before and after 10pm on Monday.

No one was injured during the two attacks in the eastern German city, but the mosque’s 46-year-old imam, his wife and their two children were inside the building when the first bomb went off.

Imam Hamza Turan told Sächsische Zeitung newspaper that six bottles filled with explosive gas had been found at the site of the attack. “They attacked us because they hate us, because we are Muslims”, Turan’s 10-year-old son told the local paper.

The second improvised device exploded on a terrace facing the river Elbe, between the International Congress Centre and the Maritim hotel. The hotel bar was evacuated as a result.

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Philadelphia: Car Firebombed In Possible Islamophobic Hate Crime

23 September, 2016 - 12:46

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If the allegations of the victim and witnesses bears out then this is one of the most horrific incidences of Islamophobic hate crime this year. (h/t:J)

Via. The Mirror

An explosive believed to be a firebomb has been thrown into a car – allegedly while the driver was still sitting inside.

It is also believed that the victim alleged the suspect shouted ‘There you go, Muslim’, before throwing the device into the vehicle.

The car has been almost completely destroyed by the suspected bomb after it set on fire .

It has been reported that the incident took place in North Philadelphia this morning at approximately 5am.

The video was recorded by a witness, going under the username @FeministaJones, who said: “Heard a huge explosion. Didn’t know what it was. Then heard a man yelling saying his skin was burning.

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Muslim Family’s Apartment Set On Fire

22 September, 2016 - 22:18

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via. Arab American News

MARYLAND – A widowed Muslim mother and her two children are the targets of hates crimes in an apartment complex, after unknown culprits left hate-graffiti and then returned on another day and lit their home on fire.

The incident took place in Windsor Mill.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Friday said the family was targeted in a series of incidents, and called for a thorough investigation.

Family members are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Cpl. John Wachter, a spokesman for county police, said someone entered the apartment in the unit block of Fallridge Court on Sept. 6 and set fire to something on the stove.

Wachter said “offensive writing on the wall” led police to classify the incident as a possible bias crime. It wasn’t reported what was exactly written, but it included reference to ISIS.

CAIR said the graffiti had been scrawled before the fire was set, during a series of break-ins that began Aug. 20.

After the Muslim woman contacted police on numerous occasions following a series of break-ins, they told her “there’s nothing we can do” and suggested she install security camera.  Her children are only ages 9 and 12.

They have since moved in with family in Bel Air because the woman was too afraid to stay at the apartment in Windsor Mill.

“She’s been pretty traumatized by this whole incident,” said Zainab Chaudry, Maryland outreach manager for CAIR., adding that the family believes the perpetrator is someone with access to the apartment .

Authorities also suspect that the culprits of the crime may be residents of the apartment complex, as someone would need to have a code to enter the building.

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North West Infidels Promoting Racism And Xenophobia In Local Communities

22 September, 2016 - 20:53

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(h/t:Mend)

via. The Times

Racist stickers saying “rapefugees not welcome” have appeared on lampposts and bus stops in a coastal town.

The anti-immigration stickers, which are being investigated by police, show the logo of the North West Infidels, a far-right group.

The images display the popular man’s name Muhammad and list defamatory statements underneath. A sticker at the Market Place in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, portrays refugees as chasing a woman with knives.

Local residents expressed anger at the signs. One said that she had reported the “awful” stickers to police and the council but more were appearing.

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Mosque Arsonist Shared Pro-Israel Propaganda

22 September, 2016 - 20:28

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via. Electronic Intifada

The man accused of setting fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce in Florida a week ago is an ardent supporter of Israel who labeled all forms of Islam as “radical.”

Joseph Michael Schreiber, a 32-year-old messianic Jew, was arrested at his home in St. Lucie, Florida, on Wednesday and charged with arson and a hate crime. Police say he confessed after his arrest.

His attack is part of a spate of anti-Muslim hate crimes since the start of the current US election season.

The mosque he set ablaze has been regularly attended by the father of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen and the crime was committed on 11 September, which marked the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The attack was also the night before the Islamic center was due to hold a community celebration for Eid al-Adha.

Extensive damage

An affidavit by the St. Lucie County Police Department describes Schreiber as “a habitual felony offender,” meaning that if convicted he could face up to life in prison due to Florida’s mandatory sentencing laws.

The affidavit also notes that Schreiber’s Facebook page was littered with “anti-Islamic postings,” “posts related to pro-Israel propaganda” and “negative propaganda related to Muslims.”

Police estimate damage to the Islamic center in excess of $100,000. As of Friday, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce reported it had received more than $30,000 in donations from well-wishers to help it repair the extensive damage.

A hate crime enhancement was added to the charges after police discovered the social media posts.

Media outlets were quick to publicize Schreiber’s anti-Muslim postings, but few mentioned his promotion of pro-Israel propaganda or his admiration for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, two great champions of the anti-Muslim far right.

Schreiber’s postings showed he turned to Islamophobic hate sites, official Israeli sources and Israel lobby groups for information.

According to Schreiber’s Facebook page, he is also a fan of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, IDF Women, the Israeli American Council of Florida and the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.

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Yasser Louati: Islamophobia And Islamodiversion

16 September, 2016 - 22:35

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Yasser Louati of CCiF, a French organization that tracks Islamophobia, has an excellent video on how Western governments and mass media work to impose austerity and repressive laws while diverting public opinion with the scapegoating of Muslims.

Religion News Service: Muslims surpass atheists as most unpopular group in US

16 September, 2016 - 22:21

 Muslims pray at the Dulles Expo Center during Eid al-Adha, the "Feast of the Sacrifice", the second of two major holidays in Islam, September 12, 2016, in Chantilly, Vriginia. The holiday honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God's command. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Disturbing news. The question is why is there such an increase. Some of the obvious reason is the Islamophobia industry and its manufacturing of hate, the rise of ISIS and the sensationalization of their threat to the West and of course the US presidential campaign of 2016. What are some other reasons?

via. Religion News Service

About 40 percent of Americans say atheists “do not at all agree” with their vision of America, according to a new study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota who compared Americans’ perceptions of minority faith and racial groups.

But the study marks a grimmer milestone — Americans’ disapproval of Muslims has jumped to 45.5 percent from just over 26 percent 10 years ago, the last time the question was asked.

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