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FBI’s Institutional Islamophobia And Racism: ‘Mohammed Raghead’ – the name the FBI were giving to Muslim-American ‘Joe Bloggs’

10 July, 2014 - 22:25

FBI

There should be no doubt that the FBI has an institutional bias against Islam and Muslims.:

The leaked documents published by The Intercept include a list of 7,485 email addresses monitored between 2002 and 2008. Five of the emails identified by journalists have been described as leading “highly public, outwardly exemplary lives”.

A document dating from 2006 from the same cache of files instructed intelligence agency staff how to properly record the identity of those under surveillance and used the fake name of “Mohammed Raghead” as an example.

French mayor bans hijab from beach

10 July, 2014 - 22:05

Richard-Trinquier French mayor bans hijab from beach

Two mothers were refused access to the beach at Wissous, Essonne, because they were wearing Muslim headscarves.

The women had taken their children to the popular summer leisure venue at the weekend, but they fell foul of a new bylaw that refuses entry to anyone wearing distinctive “religious symbols”.

Patrick Kitnais, director of the mayor’s office told Europe 1 that the women were wearing a hijab, a scarf that covers the head but does not hide the face. “The mayor was there, so he denied access to these people,” he said.

The town’s UMP mayor, Richard Trinquier [pictured], who ousted Socialist incumbent Roy Regis-Chevalier in March’s municipal elections, insisted he had applied “the law of the Republic and secularism”, in refusing entry to the two women, and said anyone wearing a distinctive cross or yarmulke would also be banned.

He said that the beach at Wissous is not a public place. It is, he said, a public establishment – and therefore it is bound by laws that prohibit the wearing of religious symbols. “If women remove their veils, they are welcome,” he said.

A 2004 law governing the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols applies only to educational establishments.

Former mayor Mr Regis-Chevalier branded the incident an “Islamophobic act”. And Abdelkrim Benkouhi, president of local Islamic association Al Madina, said: “The children were shocked and did not understand why they could not play on the inflatables like every other child. In previous years, there have been no problems.”

Representatives of Al Madina met the mayor to discuss the matter, but the two sides could not reach an agreement, Le Parisien reports. “The mayor says it is a private space. This is pure and simple discrimination,” Mr Benkouhi said.

The Connexion, 9 July 2014

See also “Pas assez ‘français’ pour Wissous Plage?”, CCIF, 9 July 2014

Wissous beach rules

Police investigate racist attack at Warrington mosque

10 July, 2014 - 21:56

Jamiat-ul-Muslimeen-Jamia-Masjid Police investigate racist attack at Warrington mosque

Police are hunting for two racists thugs who smashed windows and screamed abuse at people in the mosque in Warrington town centre.

Officers from Cheshire Police were called at 11.30pm on Monday, to reports two men were shouting racist slurs and vandalising the mosque on Arpley Street. Residents were inside the address at the time of the attack, although there were no injuries, according to police.

Sgt Rob Horton, of Warrington Town Centre NPU, said, “Cheshire Police treat racially motivated crimes very seriously. Enquiries are still ongoing and we would like to speak to anybody who may have witnessed or can provide any further information with regards to this incident.”

At this stage police say it as an isolated incident, but have increased the number of officers patrolling the area.

Officers want to speak to a man seen outside Cromwell Court on Arpley Street, believed to be white, wearing an unzipped hooded top and riding a bicycle. Police would also like to speak to two other men in connection with the incident, both are described as white, 16-25 years of age, of slim build, and wearing dark hooded tops.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting incident 1041 of 7th July 2014. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

This is Cheshire, 8 July 2014

Burqa ban isn’t enough says Strache

10 July, 2014 - 21:13

Chador_Strache Burqa ban isn’t enough says Strache

(The Local)

After last week’s decision by the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which supported France’s ban on religious headgear, the Freedom Party announced that they would be introducing a similar measure into Austria’s parliament.

The rule is intended to target the burqa, a traditional garment from the Middle East which completely covers the wearer, including the hair and face.

Now Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, has stated that the proposed ban doesn’t go far enough, and should be extended to include the chador, a traditional Persian head scarf which leaves the face uncovered.  Strache’s party has opposed what they call the “Islamification” of Europe.

The text of the planned measure, to be introduced into parliament on Tuesday, calls for a “ban on the wearing of the burqa, the niqab, the chador and other full body cover-ups.”

The FPÖ sees the chador as a “symbol of a woman’s complete submission to the man”.  Disabilities and “obstacles in finding employment” are other reasons for a ban.

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

9 July, 2014 - 21:11

under_surveillance_full_v2

Meet the Muslim-American Leaders the FBI and NSA Have Been Spying On

 By Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain (The Intercept)

The National Security Agency and FBI have covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans—including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.

According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the list of Americans monitored by their own government includes:

• Faisal Gill, a longtime Republican Party operative and one-time candidate for public office who held a top-secret security clearance and served in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush;

• Asim Ghafoor, a prominent attorney who has represented clients in terrorism-related cases;

• Hooshang Amirahmadi, an Iranian-American professor of international relations at Rutgers University;

• Agha Saeed, a former political science professor at California State University who champions Muslim civil liberties and Palestinian rights;

• Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the country.

The individuals appear on an NSA spreadsheet in the Snowden archives called “FISA recap”—short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the Justice Department must convince a judge with the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that there is probable cause to believe that American targets are not only agents of an international terrorist organization or other foreign power, but also “are or may be” engaged in or abetting espionage, sabotage, or terrorism. The authorizations must be renewed by the court, usually every 90 days for U.S. citizens.

The spreadsheet shows 7,485 email addresses listed as monitored between 2002 and 2008. Many of the email addresses on the list appear to belong to foreigners whom the government believes are linked to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Among the Americans on the list are individuals long accused of terrorist activity, including Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who were killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.

But a three-month investigation by The Intercept—including interviews with more than a dozen current and former federal law enforcement officials involved in the FISA process—reveals that in practice, the system for authorizing NSA surveillance affords the government wide latitude in spying on U.S. citizens.

The five Americans whose email accounts were monitored by the NSA and FBI have all led highly public, outwardly exemplary lives. All five vehemently deny any involvement in terrorism or espionage, and none advocates violent jihad or is known to have been implicated in any crime, despite years of intense scrutiny by the government and the press. Some have even climbed the ranks of the U.S. national security and foreign policy establishments.

“I just don’t know why,” says Gill, whose AOL and Yahoo! email accounts were monitored while he was a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. “I’ve done everything in my life to be patriotic. I served in the Navy, served in the government, was active in my community—I’ve done everything that a good citizen, in my opinion, should do.”

When Islam came to Australia

8 July, 2014 - 19:59

Australia When Islam came to Australia

(BBC News)

Few Australians are aware that the country’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had regular contact with foreign Muslims long before the arrival of Christian colonisers. And Islam continues to exercise an appeal for some Aboriginal peoples today, writes Janak Rogers.

The white lines are faint but unmistakable. Small sailing boats, picked out in white and yellow pigment on the red rocks of the Wellington Range in Arnhem Land, northern Australia, tell a different story from the one most Australians accept as the history of their nation.

They are traditional Indonesian boats known as praus and they brought Muslim fishermen from the flourishing trading city of Makassar in search of trepang, or sea cucumbers.

Exactly when the Makassans first arrived is uncertain.

Some historians say it was in the 1750s, but radiocarbon dating of beeswax figures superimposed on the cave paintings suggests that it was much earlier – one of the figures appears to have been made before 1664, perhaps as early as the 1500s.

A cave painting of an Indonesian prau, found in Arnhem Land

They apparently made annual trips to gather the sea cucumbers, which fetched a high price because of their important role in Chinese medicine and cuisine.

The Makasssans represent Australia’s first attempt at international relations, according to anthropologist John Bradley from Melbourne’s Monash University – and it was a success. “They traded together. It was fair – there was no racial judgement, no race policy,” he says.

Quite a contrast to the British. Britain designated the country terra nullius- land belonging to no-one – and therefore colonised the country without a treaty or any recognition of the rights of indigenous people to their land.

Some Makassan cucumber traders stayed, married Aboriginal women and left a lasting religious and cultural legacy in Australia. Alongside the cave paintings and other Aboriginal art, Islamic beliefs influenced Aboriginal mythology.

“If you go to north-east Arnhem Land there is [a trace of Islam] in song, it is there in painting, it is there in dance, it is there in funeral rituals,” says Bradley. “It is patently obvious that there are borrowed items. With linguistic analysis as well, you’re hearing hymns to Allah, or at least certain prayers to Allah.”

Map showing Arnhem Land, Elcho Island and Makassar

One example of this is a figure called Walitha’walitha, which is worshipped by a clan of the Yolngu people on Elcho Island, off the northern coast of Arnhem Land. The name derives from the Arabic phrase “Allah ta’ala“, meaning “God, the exalted”. Walitha’walitha is closely associated with funeral rituals, which can include other Islamic elements like facing west during prayers – roughly the direction of Mecca – and ritual prostration reminiscent of the Muslim sujood.

“I think it would be hugely oversimplifying to suggest that this figure is Allah as the ‘one true God’,” says Howard Morphy, an anthropologist at Australian National University. It’s more the case of the Yolngu people adopting an Allah-like figure into their cosmology, he suggests.

An exhibition of morning star polesOne elder has said that Aboriginal “morning star” poles were made to look like the masts of Indonesian praus, and that a pole would be presented to Makassan traders as a gift at the end of a farewell dance ritual each year

The Makassan sea cucumber trade with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ended in 1906, killed off by heavy taxation and a government policy that restricted non-white commerce. More than a century later, the shared history between Aboriginal peoples and Makassans is still celebrated by Aboriginal communities in northern Australia as period of mutual trust and respect – in spite of some historical evidence that this wasn’t always the case.

Read the rest…

Georgia Cop Goes To Israel For “Counter-Terrorism” Training: Freaks Out When He Hears “Allahu Akbar” At Mosque

7 July, 2014 - 22:54

FIW6_RobertStevensIsraeltraining

Receiving counter-terrorism training in a country that regularly illegally occupies, detains, tortures and collectively punishes Palestinians. Doubtful that during training he would learn any of that but oh, he did pick up this gem,

Law enforcement in Israel, Stevens said, “love American police.”

“… I think they are enthralled with the TV. The exchange program, they also send a delegation from Israel to here, and they do a lot of counternarcotics. We are not as in depth and in intel in terrorism as they are, and they are not as in depth in narcotics as we are,” he said. “… Wherever you go, a ringtone is always ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ SWAT team, some kind of ‘Cops’ theme. … We had a couple days we had to go in our regular uniform, and it felt like you are a rock star because everyone wants to come up to you and take pictures with an American police officer.”

Describing the experience as “surreal,” he said there also were moments of tension.

“ I think just being up on the Lebanese border was really surreal because here you are, Lebanon, Syria and here’s these big wars and they still have a lot of terrorism on the border. … While we were there, they bombed the border, so that was surreal. It was so beautiful, so lush and people were so great, but it’s so volatile,” Stevens said. “We went to the Temple of the Mount where the mosque is in Jerusalem, and as soon as you walk into the courtyard, you have a lot of Muslim subgroups in the courtyard. This is a very huge courtyard and is sacred by the Muslims and by Jews. As soon as you walk in, they just start chanting, ‘Allah Akbar.’ It really puts you on edge.

Read more: The Daily Tribune News – Cartersville resident receives counterterrorism training in Israel

Aryan blondes too beautiful for niqab, says FPÖ

7 July, 2014 - 22:31

FPÖ-zu-schön-für-einen-schleier

Aryan blondes too beautiful for niqab, says FPÖ

As part of his party’s plan to introduce a bill banning full-face veils, Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache posted on a social network an image of a young blonde woman with the phrase “Too beautiful for a veil.”

The campaign was launched by the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader and Member of Parliament Heinz-Christian Strache on his Facebook page. According to the politician, the poster is aimed “against the Islamization of Europe.”

The image refers to the party’s recent call for a ban on wearing the Muslim burqa in public. Based on the judgement by the European Court of Human Rights, who didn’t oppose the legality of the French burqa ban of 2011, FPÖ plans to introduce the same bill into the Austrian parliament next week.

“In many conservative circles of Islamic immigration society there is a prevailing view that women are second-class citizens,” party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber commented, adding that “one of the many tools of oppression is the burqa.”

A burqa is the full-body veil worn by women according to Islamic traditions, which covers even the eyes with a fine-mesh grid. Another type of veil – the niqab, leaves a slit for the eyes.

The full-body veils, especially burqas, aren’t something you’ll often see on the streets of Austria. Referring to the fact that it’s extremely rare, the planned ban has not been supported by other political forces in Austria.

“One should not create an artificial problem here. I have seen women wearing headscarves in Vienna, but not a burqa. In Austria the number of burqa wearers is estimated at only around one hundred. FPÖ has once again tried to provoke fear and dramatize,” Reinhold Lopatka of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) told the Wiener Zeitung.

The conservative ÖVP wants to vote against the Freedom Party proposal.

The original image of the blonde girl for the anti-veil campaign could not be found on Strache’s Facebook page on July 4. But the politician posted an image with a Dalai Lama quote in German, saying “if there are too many immigrants, you have to muster up the courage to say it is enough.”

In Switzerland, the citizens of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino voted with a clear majority to ban full-face veils last September. The parliament in Bern must now consider whether the proposal is consistent with the Swiss Constitution. The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) now also plans to launch a national referendum on a burqa ban next year.

RT, 5 July 2014

Did Daily Mail incite ‘war against the corrupt west’?

7 July, 2014 - 22:23

Ummah.com-caliphate-post Did Daily Mail incite ‘war against the corrupt west’?

Two days ago BBC News reported an interview broadcast on Radio 5 Live with an individual who gave his name as Abu Osama and claimed to be a British Muslim fighting in Syria. Describing Britain as “pure evil”, Abu Osama said:

“If and when I come back to Britain it will be when this Khilafah, the Islamic state, comes to conquer Britain, and I come to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben.”

The claim was widely publicised in the British media, not least by the Daily Mail.

Yesterday a new thread was opened at the Ummah.com discussion forum under the heading “i am pledging allegiance to the caliphate”, with the following comment:

“salam my sisters and brothers we should get out of this evil country and pledge our allegiance to the muslim sharia law and get out of evil west. who wants to join me so we can wage war and jihad against the corrupt west.”

The thread was posted in the name of abuaisha10, who had only just registered as a member of the forum and had posted no other comments, which was clearly suspicious.

Suspicions were confirmed when Ummah.com admins discovered that abuaisha10′s IP address (195.234.240.212) belongs to DMG Media (formerly Associated Newspapers), which publishes the Daily Mail.

Indeed, according to one IP look-up service, the address would appear to be associated with the Mail‘s chief reporter, David Williams.

IP Address 195.234.240.212

Update:  See also Morning Star, 7 July 2014

According to the Star report: “The Daily Mail Group did not respond to the Morning Star’s requests for comment, while an operator with Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist hotline confirmed they would investigate the source. ‘If someone is obviously trying to rally people together to commit violence, that would be an offence we would look into,’ she said.”

Dawkins finally loses the plot completely

7 July, 2014 - 22:18

Dawkins finally loses the plot completely

Dawkins-recommends-JihadistJoe

Today Richard Dawkins has recommended that his 974,000 Twitter followers should follow the sick anti-Muslim parodist who uses the handle JihadistJoe.

Here is one of JihadistJoe’s recent tweets:

JihadistJoe Islam wants you tweet

 

You might think that the above caricature bears more than a passing similarity to the sort of antisemitic “humour” that featured in Der Stürmer. But Dawkins irritably dismisses suggestions that JihadistJoe’s tweets could be viewed as in any way racist:

Dawkins on race

Other recent examples of JihadistJoe’s “very funny and DEADLY accurate” tweets can be viewed herehere and here.

EHRC French Niqab Ruling Fall Out

7 July, 2014 - 22:10

Pia-Kjærsgaard-DF

In Norway the ruling may mean revisiting a debate on the niqab/burqa,

Norway’s Labour and Progress parties have stated that they would consider revisiting the issue of a Muslim veil ban in the wake of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rightsthat a public ban does not violate the human rights of Muslim women.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday gave support to France’s claim that the statutory public prohibition of clothing which covers the face is within the framework of European human rights.

“We must consider whether we should promote the proposal again, after the court in Strasbourg has now confirmed what we have constantly said: that a ban is compatible with human rights,” said Mazyar Keshvari at the Progress Party (FRP) to the VG daily.

Jan Bøhler of the Labour Party (Ap) also claimed that the ruling of the court puts the Norwegian discussion about the controversial ban in a new light. “When parliament rejected such a ban in 2013, the main argument was that Norway risked being censured in the ECHR. Now that argument falls away. I think we need to take a new discussion about a possible ban,” he told VG.

In Denmark the the French ban may be coming into effect,

Judges upheld France’s burqa law, accepting the argument that veils threatened the right of citizens to live together in society. And now, several legal experts have toldBerlingske newspaper that they believe a similar ban could be enacted in Denmark.

Sten Schaumburg-Müller, a law professor at Aarhus University, agreed that the French model could be adopted by Denmark. “It’s obvious that a ban specifically targeting burqas would be hopeless,” he said. “But I believe a ban similar to France’s prohibiting the covering of the face in public could be established here.”

Jacob Mchangama, the head of think-tank Justitia, also believes the law could be recycled on Danish ground. “The defining element in the French legislation is that it isn’t targeted at specific religions, but instead the motivation is to ensure social cohesion and interaction between citizens,” he said.

Pia Kjærsgaard, the DF values spokesperson, thinks a ban on face-covering dress, whether it is specifically targeting Islamic burqas or not, should be introduced in Denmark. “We can’t have women being completely covered so you can’t see their facial expressions or who you have right in front of you,” she told Berlingske.

Austria’s far-right, Freedom Party is also calling for a ban,

Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) is calling for a ban on burqas, after the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) backed France’s rules on religious headgear on Tuesday, when it ruled the country’s law banning full-face veils in public was legal.

The ECHR ruled that France’s ban on the wearing of the full-face veil in public does not violate the human rights of Muslim women. Judges said the law was justified on the grounds of social cohesion.

Freedom Party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber said that in the “wide, conservative circles of Islamic immigration society”, the opinion prevails that women are second-class citizens. One of the many instruments for oppressing women is the burqa, she added.

In Britain Tory MP, Phillip Hollobone calls for a ban on the Niqab, he’s supported by Taj Hargey,

The Government should press on with banning the veil in Britain after a French law doing the same wasupheld by the European Court of Human Rights, a Tory MP said today.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, who has proposed back bench legislation to ban face coverings in the past, urged Commons Leader Andrew Lansley to find time for a Government statement on the issue. Mr Hollobone, a prominent eurosceptic who more typically criticises the European Court, raised the issue at the weekly Commons business statement.

He said: “This week finally, at long last, we have had a sensible decision from the European Court of Human Rights about something.

“Selling More Than Clothes?” Gap Opens Up in Myanmar

4 July, 2014 - 20:27

ON Product and USAID

By Garibaldi

Gap, Inc. the parent company of Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Piperlime is joining other US companies, including Coca-Cola, MasterCard and GE in expanding operations and investments in Myanmar (Burma). Myanmar is viewed, after opening up its economy and political space, as a new lucrative Southeast Asian market, with some investors speculating that it may even be “the new Thailand.” The comparison is being made because of Thailand’s high economic growth, with the Neo-Liberal institution, The World Bank, dubbing Thailand as “one of the great development success stories.”

Gap, which calls itself a “responsible company” is putting a sugary spin on its decision to invest in Myanmar, describing it in moralistic terms as an investment “in the economic and social development of Myanmar,” when in reality it is all about beating the competition and reaping the most profit.

Gap has an abysmal history when it comes to outsourcing,

In 1999, Gap and several other companies were sued in a class action lawsuit in Saipan claiming that workers were subject to unsafe working conditions, forced abortions, and unpaid overtime. Gap eventually settled the lawsuit in 2002 without admitting liability.

In 2006, a Jordanian supplier for Gap, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and other companies was charged with using adult and child employees for up to 109 hours per week. Some workers had been unpaid for up to six months. The following year, BBC broadcast footage of child labor in Gap’s factories in India. Gap denied knowledge of those practices, but nonetheless removed the piece of clothing featured in the report from British stores.

Last April, the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh — the deadliest garment factory accident in history — claimed 1,129 lives and injured 2,515 people. Many North American retailers had outsourced their apparel from the factory, although Gap was not among those implicated.

Gap and other North American retailers announced a broad plan to improve factory safety in Bangladesh last July, but the plan didn’t legally bind the companies to actually pay for those improvements. By comparison, The Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an earlier plan introduced in May, legally required the companies to pay for those improvements. Gap’s rivals Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) , American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO  ) , PVH (NYSE: PVH  ) , and H&M all signed that accord, but Gap and several other major U.S. retailers refused.

The announcement by Gap was made in partnership with USAID, the US Ambassador, Derek Mitchell, was also present. The operation is sold as being motivated by humanitarianism, with an emphasis on helping the women of Burma through providing female garment workers with “life skills education and technical training.”

Amb Mitchell remarks

Gap, Inc./USAID: US Ambassador Derek Mitchell speaking

Of course the deep involvement of the US government with corporations is not a reality-shattering phenomenon; it is a familiar gimmick that odiously packages capitalistic motives and goals in a thin veneer of humanitarianism.

This is also enmeshed with President Obama’s proclaimed foreign policy objective of “pivoting towards Asia.” The US doesn’t want to miss out on an emerging market in Southeast Asia, one where China already has beaten the US in terms of economic influence,

Although Gap is the first U.S. retailer to enter Myanmar, other U.S. companies like General ElectricMasterCardVisa, and Coca-Cola have already made investments in the country. However, U.S. direct investment in Myanmar only accounts for 1% of the country’s overall foreign direct investments (FDI), compared to 30% from China.

Myanmar appears advantageous to the likes of Gap because of the cheap labor force it provides, the cheapest in Southeast Asia,

Myanmar’s low wages — an average of $1,100 per year — are considerably lower than its neighbors in Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s wages are double that of Myanmar, and wages in Thailand are six times as high. Cambodia is Myanmar’s closest competitor, with an average annual wage of $1,424.

Yet in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gap stated that its Burmese workers will be paid an average of $110 per month, and supervisors will be paid as much as $1,000 — far exceeding the national average. Gap has also launched education and training programs for Burmese women with the aid of U.S. agencies. Those strategies are clearly aimed at shielding Gap from the controversies that dogged the company in the past.

The reality is that Gap is investing in a country in which human rights are not respected, in which pogroms are common place and where ethnic minorities are denied basic recognition. Just yesterday it was reported that Buddhist mobs have for a second straight night attacked Muslims in the historic city of Mandalay, the violence has left 2 dead and 14 injured.

Two people are dead and 14 injured after Buddhist mobs on motorbikes drove through Burma’s historic city of Mandalay in a second night of attacks on minority Muslims.

The past two years have seen grisly attacks on Muslims and other minorities: Massacres such as Buddhists killing 9 Muslim pilgrims, 36 school children and their teachers butchered in front of local police are common place. Myanmar saw the near complete destruction of the Muslim quarter in the city of Kyaukpyu. Human rights groups have reported on the systematic killing and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, where the Rohingya Muslim population is herded into concentration campsMosques, Muslim homes, and orphanages across the country are torched in arson attacks. Numerous  internet sites are replete with Islamophobic dehumanization messages about Islam and Muslims spread by the extremist movement ’969.’ Myanmar is where the “symbol of Democracy,” the Noble Peace Prize winning Suu Kyi not only says she won’t speak out for the persecuted Rohingya but denies their existence. Myanmar’s government has given official backing to the violent, extremist 969 movement. Ministers in the Myanmar government have backed discriminatory legislation that would limit Rohingya women to two children. Local officials have severely restricted humanitarian aid to Rohingya concentration camps and the rest of Rakhine State, where tuberculosis, waterborne illnesses and malnutrition are endemic.

These basic facts don’t begin to touch the deep suffering of the families that have been expelled from their homes, tortured, had loved ones murdered or drown on perilous boat journeys.

It is cynical and callous for Gap to then describe Myanmar as making “slow progress.” Of course it is not out of the norm for a corporation to laughably try and convince consumers that it does “more than sell clothes.”

Doubly egregious is the complicity of Western diplomats, who as Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights points out have been giving Myanmar a free pass,

Western diplomats eschew efforts to end the culture of impunity in the country, fearing it will stall the reform process. This is an entirely wrong-headed view.

Ending impunity comes in many forms but typically requires at least a proper accounting of the facts. As such, foreign governments should press Myanmar to set up an independent inquiry into ongoing wartime crimes in ethnic states, and redouble support for the country’s human rights defenders, most of whom are working under demoralizing conditions with limited resources.

Ultimately, high praise for thin reforms is no way to promote democracy or the rights of Myanmar’s least advantaged populations.

It’s worth mentioning pop-philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s theory of cultural capitalism, which asserts the farcical nature of contemporary enterprises seeking to put a charitable, in this case “humanitarian,” face on their products, i.e. “global capitalism with a human face.”

In the near term the violent and extremist 969 movement continues to get stronger, atrocities proliferate and human rights take second place to capitalistic ventures. Corporations such as Gap that invest in Myanmar can save us the feel-good facade, we know what this is all about.

Police aim to subdue Myanmar violence

4 July, 2014 - 02:19

Myanmar_pogrom Police aim to subdue Myanmar violence

(AlJazeera)

Large numbers of police have been deployed and a curfew imposed in Myanmar’s second largest city in an attempt to bring escalating violence in the area under control.

Myanmar police escalated tactics in Mandalay on Thursday, after consecutive nights of sectarian unrest left two people dead.

Local residents say a Muslim man was attacked and killed by a mob as he made his way to a mosque before dawn on Thursday morning.

A Buddhist man was also killed overnight, with police investigating the cause of death.

The riots left another 14 injured.

Police were first deployed on Tuesday night, as hundreds of Buddhists attacked a mosque and attempted to set fire to businesses owned by Muslims. Vehicles were set on fire and some shops were ransacked.

Shops in Muslim neighbourhoods are now closed, with some streets blocked by metal and wooden barriers. One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “most Muslims are hiding and some shifted to other towns near Mandalay”.

“We do not want the situation getting worse,” senior Mandalay police officer Zaw Min Oo told AFP, explaining that the curfew now imposed on the city was for ‘security reasons’.

Escalating violence

The violence was sparked by rumours on the Internet that the Muslim owner of a teashop had raped a Buddhist woman.

The latest flare up of sectarian violence in Myanmar has raised fears of a wider escalation in ongoing tensions between Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority.

Previously, sectarian violence had mostly taken place in Myanmar’s Western Rakhine state, while relations between Muslims and Buddhists in the city of Mandalay had been relatively peaceful.

Myanmar has struggled to contain outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence since the end of military rule in 2011. At least 280 people have been killed since June 2012, with 140,000 made homeless – most of them Muslims.

Muslims are thought to account for about four percent of Myanmar’s population of approximately 60 million.

The government has faced international criticism for failing to act strongly to stop the attacks on Muslims, which in Rakhine state reportedly occurred as security forces looked on.

Myanmar has been wracked by violence between the two communities since June 2012. More than 200 people have been killed and at least 140,000 displaced. Most of the victims have been Muslim.

China bans Ramadan fasting in East Turkestan

2 July, 2014 - 22:40

uighur

World Bulletin / News Desk

Authorities in China’s East Turkestan (Xinjiang) province have officially banned students and teachers from engaging in the Islamic Ramadan fast, in yet another curb on religious freedoms against the region’s native Uighur Muslim population.

The Turfan trade bureau on its internet website at the beginning of the week released a statement saying that all public workers, students and teachers were banned from fasting and participating in religious activities.

Bozhou, the region’s official radio station, also announced that party members, teachers and youths cannot engage in Ramadan worship.

East Turkestan, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is crucial to China’s growing energy needs.

Analysts say that, despite its mineral wealth and billions of dollars of investment, much of the proceeds have gone to majority Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.

Rights groups complain that Uighurs – who speak a Turkic language – are cut off from economic development because they face hiring discrimination, with jobs going to an influx of migrant workers from other parts of China.

Around 200 people have died in unrest in East Turkestan in the past year or so, the government says.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government’s repressive policies in East Turkestan, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest, a claim Beijing denies.

China has tightened its grip on public discussion about East Turkestan too.

In January, police detained prominent Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti and charged him with separatism.

Britain First Organize “Fight Club” To Target Muslims

2 July, 2014 - 22:37

Britain-First-no-more-mosques

Britain First is led by a Neo-Nazi, and now the group is creating “Fight Clubs” to fight Muslims. This is clear incitement and a threat to “social cohesion,” where is the outcry?

Britain First Organize “Fight Club” To Target Muslims

A FAR-RIGHT group led by a notorious Scots rabble-rouser are promoting sinister “fight clubs” for their followers.

And anti-racism activists claim Jim Dowson’s Britain First organisation are training boot boys to fight Muslims on the streets.

Mathew Collins of Hope Not Hate said: “They have been booking mixed martial arts gyms so they can fight among themselves, training for confrontations with Muslims.”

Vicky Burns of Show Racism the Red Card Scotland added: “Britain First’s brand of racism and prejudice simply is not welcome here.”

Britain First have used a series of Facebook posts to attract recruits for fight training.

One ad says: “Things are bad and will only get worse.

“Don’t you think it’s time to learn how to protect the ones you love – and yourself?”

It adds that the fight clubs – apparently named after Brad Pitt’s 1999 film – will be rolled out UK-wide and free of charge.

Another ad says of the plan: “We feel this is a vital part of building a real movement for the future struggle to take back our country.”

Dowson’s rag-tag mob of former BNP members have already targeted Muslims in Scotland and beyond.

One of the Britain First ads urging supporters to be ready for the fightOne of the Britain First ads urging supporters to be ready for the fight

 

They swaggered into mosques in Glasgow, Cumbernauld and several English cities, handing out Army Bibles to worshippers and telling them to stop Muslim men grooming young girls for sex.

The invaders claimed to be carrying out a “Christian crusade”.

Britain First have also staged “Christian Patrols” in London, with supporters in military style fatigues marching through Asian areas waving Union flags.

Collins called Britain First “the most dangerous group to emerge on the far right for years”, and urged the authorities to take proper action against them.

He warned that Dowson’s men were “generating a climate of fear” and said their actions “could lead to a violent backlash”.

Former Orangeman Dowson is from Airdrie but lives in Belfast.

The self-styled born again Christian has links to anti-abortion extremists. A group he founded, Precious Life, have been accused of intimidating pro-choice supporters.

Dowson was one of the leaders of Loyalist protests in Belfast over city council plans to limit the amount of time when the Union flag was flown over their HQ.

He wore a veil over his face on his way to appear in court after the disorder.

Dowson was a close associate of BNP leader Nick Griffin and a major fund-raiser for the far-right party, but he quit over claims that he groped a female party activist.

He then founded Britain First with Paul Golding, an old ally and former BNP councillor.

The group have raised their profile by urging Facebook users to “like” posts backing British troops, paying tribute to Princess Diana and opposing animal cruelty.

The strategy has helped Britain First get more than 480,000 Facebook “likes”. Many users don’t know they are interacting with the extreme right.

New York: Man shouting ‘Go back to your (expletive) country’ stabs Muslim food cart vendor

1 July, 2014 - 22:39

Ayman_Shiha New York: Man shouting ‘Go back to your (expletive) country’ stabs Muslim food cart vendor

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on local law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate the Tuesday stabbing of a Muslim food cart vendor by a man reportedly shouting “Go back to your (expletive) country.”

The victim, an Egyptian native who manages a halal (Islamically-permissible) food cart on 28th street near Bellevue Hospital, was stabbed repeatedly in broad daylight on Tuesday afternoon. He told CAIR-NY that he saw a customer arguing with another food cart vendor over a sandwich. When he approached the men engaged in the argument in an effort to calm the situation, the customer faced him and allegedly said, “You don’t belong to this country. Go back to your (expletive) country (expletive),” and stabbed him a total of 15 times.

“We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident thoroughly and to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice,” said CAIR-NY Director of Operations Sadyia Khalique. She added that religious and ethnic bias should be investigated as a factor leading to the attack.

CAIR New York press release, 27 June 2014

Update:  See “Food cart vendor speaking out after attack he calls ‘hate crime’, WABC-TV, 27 June 2014

Vandals attack historic Polish mosque

1 July, 2014 - 21:55

Kruszyniany-mosque-graffiti Vandals attack historic Polish mosque

An 18th century mosque and gravestones in the adjoining cemetery have been vandalised in the village of Kruszyniany, north east Poland. The incident apparently occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, just after Polish Tatars began observing Ramadan on Saturday.

The culprit sprayed a vast pig onto the side of the mosque, which is one of Poland’s oldest Muslim houses of worship still used by the country’s Tatar community.

“It’s a very regrettable thing – incomprehensible,” said Kruszyniany’s Muslim community leader Bronislaw Talkowski. He stressed that the Tatars live in harmony with their neighbours, and that the act of vandalism is unprecedented.

A patriotic symbol used during the Nazi German occupation of World War II, the so-called Kotwica (Anchor), was also sprayed onto the mosque, as well as on some gravestones. Composed of the letters p and w, the anchor stands for Polska Walczaca (Fighting Poland).

It is estimated that there are between 3000 and 5000 Tatars living in Poland today. Owing to assimilation over the centuries, many Poles have Tatar backgrounds. The late Nobel Prize-winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz had Tatar roots, as does internationally renowned sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Thenews.pl, 30 June 2014

Another lying anti-Muslim headline in the Mail

1 July, 2014 - 21:44

Daily-Mail-Muslim-man-murders-pregnant-prostitute

(Via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Another lying anti-Muslim headline in the Mail

This is the headline to a report in the Daily Mail. The report begins: “A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years today.”

As you might expect from the Mail, the claim that Farooq Shah, the individual convicted of the murder, targeted sex worker Mariana Popa because she was working near a mosque is a straightforward lie.

The sole basis for this claim is that during the trial, in an attempt to identify a motive for the murder, the prosecuting barrister asked Shah: “What was that conversation with Miss Popa about? Did you ask her to go with you? Did you offer her money? Did she say no because you had a bike and didn’t even have a car? Or were you on this night patrolling the area for prostitutes? Did you want to challenge Miss Popa and ask her to get out of that area, to get away from the mosques?”

But the Mail‘s own report states: “In his account to the jury, Shah said having women sell their bodies near his mosque or home ‘means nothing’”. According to the Ilford Recorder, the investigating officer Detective Inspector Darren Richards said that Shah “has never given any reason” for the murder, adding: “He’s given no reason because there was no reason, other than he’d armed himself with a knife and was prepared to use it that night.”

DI Richards had previously stated: “This was a cold-blooded, senseless murder by a man who went out that night, armed with a knife, intent on using it to commit serious injury to someone. He had already threatened and robbed a vulnerable man with a knife earlier that night, and he was hanging around the Ilford Lane area, looking for another victim. He killed Mariana because she was there, because he thought he could get away with it.”

Shah’s religious beliefs, if indeed he has any, appear to have had no bearing whatsoever on the case.

Read the rest…

European Human Rights Court Upholds France’s Burqa Ban

1 July, 2014 - 20:41

french_niqab_missfrance

The European Human Rights Court has decided not on the basis of France’s main arguments about ‘public-safety’ or ‘women’s rights’ but ‘social cohesion.’

The Strasbourg-based court ruled the general ban imposed by the government wasn’t justified on public-safety grounds, or to protect women’s rights. But it said France’s aim of improving social cohesion through the ban was legitimate.

“The court was…able to accept that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face was perceived by the respondent state as breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialization which made living together easier,” it said.

European rights court upholds French ‘burqa ban’

The court’s decision follows a case brought by a 24-year-old French woman of Pakistani origin, described as a “perfect French citizen”, argued that the ban violated her rights to freedom of religion, expression and assembly, and was discriminatory.

The woman, identified only by her initials SAS, said that being forced to take off her veil in public constituted “degrading treatment” and also was an attack on her private and family life.

In written evidence, SAS – who did not appear – testified that she was not forced to wear a burqa and that she was willing to remove it whenever required for security reasons, directly addressing the French authorities’ two main arguments in favour of the ban.

Women ‘stigmatised’

Her appeal to the court was supported by international human rights group Amnesty International, which told FRANCE 24 before the ruling that France’s law “only served to stigmatise women, and Muslim women in particular”.

“The argument that the law protects women has no foundation,” said Amnesty’s President Geneviève Garrigos. “Many [Muslim] women wear veils of their own free will.

“The state does not exist to tell people how they should dress. Rather, it should allow them to make their own choices.”

Garrigos argued that while the law ostensibly targets all face-covering garments – religious or not – it was a mere “façade” hiding legislation specifically targeting Muslim women.

“Everyone knows this law wasn’t created to stop people walking in the streets wearing motorcycle helmets,” she said. “If everyone had to be recognizable by security services all of the time, they should ban anything that hides facial features, including wigs and fake beards.”

“People must accept that they might have their identity controlled by the police,” she added. “Women who wear burqas and other full veils submit voluntarily to this.”

French ban on all religious symbols in schools

The hearing comes just days after one of France’s highest courts upheld the 2008 sacking of Fatima Afif, a worker at a kindergarten in the Paris suburbs, for wanting to wear a headscarf to work.

Overt religious symbols – headscarves, crucifixes, Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans, for example – are banned from French state schools, which operate on strictly secular lines.

Many Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities.

France has one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe. Beyond the veil issue, there has been controversy in the past over whether schools and holiday camps should be required to provide halal food to Muslim children.

Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition

29 June, 2014 - 22:15

Ramadan Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition

by Khaled Beydoun (AlJazeera English)

This weekend marks the beginning of Ramadan. Nearly one-fourth of the world will observe the annual fast and eight million Muslims in the United States will abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month. A gruelling task at any time of the year, Ramadan this year will be especially daunting during the long and hot summer days.

Islam in America is rapidly expanding. It is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second most practiced faith in twenty states. These demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los Angeles-based imam to comment, “Ramadan is a new American tradition.” The cleric’s forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam’s recent arrival in the US. However, this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot of Muslim Americans today – an inability to look back and embrace the opening chapters of Muslim American history written by enslaved African Muslims.

Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or, “[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves” in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims”.

These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.

Between Sunnah and slave codes

Although the Quran “[a]llows a believer to abstain from fasting if he or she is far from home or involved in strenuous work,” many enslaved Muslims demonstrated transcendent piety by choosing to fast while bonded. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, enslaved Muslims held holy month prayers in slave quarters, and put together iftars - meals at sundown to break the fast – that brought observing Muslims together. These prayers and iftars violated slave codes restricting assembly of any kind.

For instance, the Virginia Slave Code of 1723 considered the assembly of five slaves as an “unlawful and tumultuous meeting”, convened to plot rebellion attempts. Every state in the south codified similar laws barring slave assemblages, which disparately impacted enslaved African Muslims observing the Holy Month.

Therefore, practicing Islam and observing Ramadan and its fundamental rituals, for enslaved Muslims in antebellum America, necessitated the violation of slave codes. This exposed them to barbaric punishment, injury, and oftentimes, even death. However, the courage to observe the holy month while bonded, and in the face of grave risk, highlights the supreme piety of many enslaved Muslims.

Ramadan was widely observed by enslaved Muslims. Yet, this history is largely ignored by Muslim American leaders and laypeople alike – and erased from the modern Muslim American narrative.

Rewriting the history of Ramadan in the US

Muslim America was almost entirely black during the antebellum Era. Today, it stands as the most diverse Muslim community in the world. Today African Americans comprise a significant part of the communityalong with Muslims of South Asian and Arab descent. Latin Americans are a rapidly growing demographic in the community, ensuring that Muslims in America are a microcosm of their home nation’s overall multiculturalism.

In the US today, Ramadan dinner tables are sure to include staple Arab or Pakistani dishes. Yet, many Muslim Americans will break the fast with tortas and tamales, halal meatloaf and greens. Muslim diversity in the US has reshaped Ramadan into a multicultural American tradition. The breadth of Muslim America’s racial and cultural diversity today is unprecedented, making this year’s Ramadan – and the Ramadans to follow – new in terms of how transcultural and multiracial the tradition has become.

This Muslim American multiculturalism comes with many challenges: Namely, intra-racism, Arab supremacy, and anti-black racism prevents cohesion inside and outside of American mosques. These deplorable trends perpetuate the erasure of the Muslim slave narrative. Integrating this history will not only mitigate racism and facilitate Muslim American cohesion, but also reveal the deep-rootedness of the faith, and its holiest month, on US soil.

This Ramadan honouring the memory of the first Muslim Americans and their struggle for freedom and sharing their story with loved ones at the iftar table, seems an ideal step towards rewriting this missing chapter of Muslim American history into our collective consciousness.

Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law.

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