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Updated: 1 hour 26 min ago

Sam Harris: I’d vote for Ben Carson over Noam Chomsky “Every Time”

29 November, 2015 - 21:07

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, neuroscientist Sam Harris

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, neuroscientist Sam Harris

Cenk Uygur, of the Young Turks has described fellow atheist Sam Harris as “Scam Harris” in light of Harris’ comments that he would, given the choice between Noam Chomsky and Ben Carson, “vote for Ben Carson every time.”

Harris’ comments are part of a pattern of support for extremist right-wing politicians. In the past he’s spoken favorably of European fascists, stating they are “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europeans.”

By Tom Boggioni, RawStory

During a discussion on whether the U.S. should allow Syrian refugees into the county, neuroscientist and atheism advocate Sam Harris continued his personal jihad with author Noam Chomsky while finding common cause with Christian conservative GOP presidential candidates who want to keep the refugees out.

In his podcast interview with author Douglas Murray, Harris lamented the “demagoguery on both sides” by the political parties, while accusing President Barack Obama of being “politically stupid” in the way he addresses the threat of Islamic fanaticism. Harris did have  kind words for Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, despite admitting that he is a “religious maniac.’

“The Republicans are right to be completely outraged by this — and they’re completely crazy,” Harris explained.”This is a terrible situation to be in politically.”

“Take the personalities of the people on the right out of the equation. Is it crazy to express, as Ted Cruz did, a preference for Christians over Muslims in this process?” Harris asked. “Of course not. What percentage of Christians will be jihadists or want to live under Sharia law? Zero. And this is a massive, in fact the only, concern when talking about security. We know that some percentage of Muslims will be jihadists inevitably… So it is not mere bigotry or mere xenophobia to express that preference. I hope you understand that I am expressing no sympathy at all with Ted Cruz’s politics or with Ted Cruz. But it is totally unhelpful to treat him — though he actually is a religious maniac — like a bigot on this point. This is a quite reasonable concern to voice.”

It was toward the end of the broadcast that Harris had to take a shot at author Chomsky with whom he has had a running battle over ideology and political worldviews.

“Given a choice between Noam Chomsky and Ben Carson, in terms of the totality of their understanding of what’s happening now in the world, I’d vote for Ben Carson every time,” Harris stated. “Ben Carson is a dangerously deluded religious imbecile, Ben Carson does not…the fact that he is a candidate for president is a scandal…but at the very least he can be counted on to sort of get this one right. He understands that jihadists are the enemy.”

Continue reading …

OpenDemocracy Interviews Arun Kundnani on the Ramifications of the “War On Terror”

23 November, 2015 - 02:29


via. OpenDemocracy

“In this interview, he unveils and critiques the ramifications of the ‘war on terror’, from the conservative and liberal rhetoric of the intellectuals and commentators who have emerged, to the theories of ‘radicalisation’ which have fuelled counter-terrorism programmes in the west.”

Is everywhere a war zone now? How does this connect to the rhetoric of the ‘war on terror’? 

The promise of the ‘war on terror’ was that we would kill them ‘over there’ so they would not kill us ‘over here.’ Hence mass violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, and Somalia – in the name of peace in the west. The “Authorization to Use Military Force” that the US Congress passed in the days after 9/11 already defined the whole world as a battlefield in the ‘war on terror’. President Obama continues to rely on the authorization to give his drone-killing programme a veneer of legality. This is the old colonial formula of liberal values at home sustained by a hidden illiberalism in the periphery – where routine extra-judicial killing is normalised.

We all know the ‘war on terrorism’ kills more civilians than terrorism does; but we tolerate this because it is ‘their’ civilians being killed in places we imagine to be far away. Yet colonial history teaches us that violence always ‘comes home’ in some form: whether as refugees seeking sanctuary, whether as the re-importing of authoritarian practices first practised in colonial settings, or indeed as terrorism. The same patterns repeat today in new forms.

Colonial history teaches us that violence always ‘comes home’.

For Muslim citizens in western states, these dynamics bring an enormous burden: they are reduced to the false choice of moderate or extremist, good Muslim or bad Muslim. The question that hovers over their very being is whether they will detach themselves from their connections to zones of violence abroad or channel that violence within the west. But this question is not posed directly; it is always displaced onto the plane of culture: do you accept western values?

This framework imposes itself relentlessly on Muslim public expression, rendering suspicious anyone who refuses to engage in rituals of loyalty to western culture. Meanwhile, ISIS casts these Muslims as living in the “grey zone” between western imperialism and the claim of a revived caliphate.

What results is a mutual reinforcing of the militarized identity narrative on both sides: the jihadists point to numerous speeches by western leaders to support their claim of a war on Islam; and western leaders legitimise war with talk of a ‘generational struggle’ between western values and Islamic extremism. What is striking today is the tired rhetoric of military aggression – Hollande’s “pitiless war” – once again recycled, despite the obvious failures of the past 14 years.

Where did the ISIS attackers in Paris come from? Can theories of radicalisation explain what drove them?

Theories of radicalisation developed by think-tanks, intelligence agencies, and academic departments linked to the national security apparatus have tended to make a number of false assumptions in their attempts to understand jihadist violence. First, they assume a deep difference between ‘Islamic’ and other forms of political violence; the history of political violence in the twentieth century – particularly in colonial contexts – is therefore forgotten and its lessons ignored. Second, they assume some form of Islamic religious ideology is the key factor in turning someone into a terrorist; some analysts grant the relevance of what they call ‘perceived grievances’ or emotional crises as enabling factors but ideology is still taken to be the primary cause.

Continue reading…

Islamophobia is an American Tradition

20 November, 2015 - 18:51


Moro Crater Massacre Victims

Article originally appeared on the History News Network website.

By Karine Walther

When Republic presidential candidate Ben Carson made news recently by questioning whether a Muslim American could (or should) ever become president of the United States, his assertions recalled similar concerns raised by a political supporter of John McCain’s presidency at a rally seven years earlier. “I can’t trust Obama,” Gayle Quinnell told McCain, “I’ve read about him…and he’s an Arab.” Whether she meant Arab or Muslim, two identities often conflated in American understandings of Muslims, her fears revealed deeper concerns by some segments of the American public about the loyalty of Muslim Americans to the United States. McCain’s response was equally revealing. He did not challenge the idea that Arab Americans or Muslim Americans could and should be trusted to occupy the highest office of the land, but instead, he defended Obama against the “accusation” of being Arab. Obama was not an Arab, he responded, “he’s a decent family man, citizen” as if being an Arab or Muslim American prohibited decency or ties to family – or even American citizenship.

As Carson’s more recent statements have revealed, public expressions of hostility and distrust towards Muslim Americans have only become more prominent and normalized in American public discourse. This rise in public expressions of Islamophobia have undoubtedly been fueled by American governmental policies of targeted surveillance of American Muslim communities that emerged after 9/11 and have resulted in dire repercussions that move beyond just public discourse, including a dramatic rise in discrimination and hate crimes against people perceived to be Muslim or Arab.

But it would be a mistake to assume that such sentiments are a recent phenomenon that emerged only after 9/11. Islamophobia has a long history in the United States that can be traced back as early as the colonial era when European settlers carried their antagonism to the Islamic faith with them to the New World.  Debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution included discussions over whether Muslims and other non-Protestants should ever be able to assume political office. Indeed, as scholars have demonstrated, anti-Federalists used the specter of a Muslim, Catholic or Jewish-American becoming president to unsuccessfully argue for religious tests in the U.S. Constitution.  Despite failing on the national level, religious tests banning non-Protestants from occupying political offices were integrated into several state constitutions. In this regard, American Islamophobia must also be understood alongside historical expressions of anti-Semitism, anti-Mormonism and anti-Catholicism. Of course, over the course of American history, fears of disloyalty have also extended to other minorities deemed potential fifth columns in American society. The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the majority of whom were American citizens, is only one of the most telling examples.

But throughout American history, Islamophobia extended beyond just the domestic sphere.  In the nineteenth century, many Christian Americans saw themselves as a crucial leader of global Christendom. Fueled by the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, Christian activists saw it as their divine role to spread Christianity to the “heathens” of the world. When it came to the Islamic world, they portrayed the “Christian world” in a global battle of “cross against crescent.” Such feelings would rise to the fore when Americans witnessed revolutionary movements by Ottoman Christian subjects against Ottoman Muslim rulers. American support for revolutionary insurrections in Greece in 1821, Crete in 1866, and Bulgaria in 1876 drew the attention of thousands of Americans who rallied to their cause, based in part on their belief that such battles were part of this alleged global battle between Christianity and Islam. At these moments, Americans maintained that Muslims’ alleged religious fanaticism, political and religious decadence, and intolerance for other religions made their rule over Christian subjects, and to a lesser extent, Jewish subjects, an imperial, political and moral anomaly.  Such beliefs also pushed American to actively support the extension of European empire to lands ruled by Muslims, including the Ottoman Empire and Morocco.

Although it would be a mistake to trace an unbroken trajectory from the nineteenth century to the post–Cold War period and, more importantly, to the post-9/11 era, it would be equally erroneous to discount the ways in which hostility towards Islam and Muslims has persisted, albeit in varied forms. Indeed, American Islamophobia never fully vanished; it reappeared with force during the ideological and foreign policy vacuum that emerged after the Cold War. Whereas some political scientists advanced the notion that the end of the Cold War had brought about the“end of history” and the ideological victory of liberal, secular democracies, the late Samuel Huntington theorized an alternative vision of the world in his 1993 essay, “The Clash of Civilizations,” which he later expanded into a full-length book. According to Huntington, a simplistically defined “Islamic Civilization” would play a central role in a global “clash” against an equally simplistic construction of the “West,” broadly understood as Euro-American civilization. His theory resonated with many Americans not because it was accurate but because this particular kind of discourse has a long history of shaping how Americans identified itself against the Islamic world.

Huntington’s arguments appeared particularly prophetic after the events of 9/11. As President Bush noted days after the 9/11 attacks, “the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.” Less than a decade after the publication of Huntington’s influential article, the Bush administration’s “Global War on Terror” borrowed heavily from such theories to explain its emerging ideological conceptualizations.

Simplistic understandings of Islam and Muslims would help drive the actions of American policymakers and military officers during post-9/11 engagements in the Middle East. During and after the 2003 war in Iraq, military rulers and policymakers at the highest levels relied on the book, The Arab Mind, a widely discredited study by Raphael Patai originally published in 1983. The book purported to explain the shared (and identical) “mentality” of Arabs in the diverse areas of the world, noting that people in the West did not realize how much Arabs hated them. Patai’s book helped convince neoconservative policymakers in Washington “that Arabs only understand force.” The book became “required reading” for many soldiers and officers on their way to Iraq.As a journalist for the New York Times noted in 2003, such beliefs were publicly expressed by American military officers: “‘You have to understand the Arab mind,’ Captain Todd Brown, a company commander with the Fourth Infantry Division, said as he stood outside the gates of Abu Hishma. ‘The only thing they understand is force—force, pride and saving face.’”

The repercussions of such dehumanizing beliefs about Muslims on American policies at home and abroad appear obvious, particularly after the release in December 2014 of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the use of torture by American CIA agents between 2001 and 2006. Such policies reveal a continued and unfortunate practice of simplifying the identities of peoples around the world who happen to be Arab or Muslim, often with brutal consequences. As these most recent examples demonstrate, American Islamophobia remains a powerful force in shaping domestic and foreign policies that impact the lives of Muslims in the United States and abroad. Far from a recent phenomenon, however, such attitudes are deeply grounded in American history.

Karine Walther is an Assistant Professor of History at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.  Her book, Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921 traces the impact of American Islamophobia on American foreign relations in the long nineteenth century. 

‘I will bomb your f*cking location’: Muslims face violent threats as Trump urges ban on mosques

20 November, 2015 - 17:44


By Travis Gettys, RawStory

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump helped fan the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of last week’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

Trump renewed his call Monday morning to shut down mosques or at least place them under surveillance.

“You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques, because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” less than a month after telling Fox Business that “absolutely” shut down U.S. mosques to defeat Islamic State militants.

“From what I heard in the old days, meaning a while ago, we had great surveillance going on in and around mosques in New York City, and I understand our mayor totally cut that out, he totally cut it out,” Trump added, apparently referring to New York’s controversial racial and religious profiling investigation — which was discontinued after it resulted in zero arrests or leads.

Police are investigating several threats made over the weekend against Muslim houses of worship.

A caller left a threatening voice mail message that referred to the massacre about 7 p.m. Friday at the Islamic Society of St. Petersburg, Florida — which canceled Sunday school over safety concerns.

“This act in France is the last straw,” the caller warned. “You’re going to f*cking die.”

“I personally have a militia that’s going to come down to your Islamic Society of Pinellas County and firebomb you, shoot whoever’s there on sight in the head,” the caller added. “I don’t care if they’re f*cking 2 years old or 100.”

Continue reading …

Open Thread: ISIS #ParisAttacks and #BeirutAttacks and Elsewhere

14 November, 2015 - 21:41


Loonwatch staff

Peaceful Parisians were attacked by ISIS militants, the group has claimed responsibility for massacres not only in Paris but also the downing of a Russian airplane killing over 200, as well as bombings in Beirut. If true, the group has massacred 400 people on three continents in two weeks. Of course Muslims hate this group more than anyone else, as one prescient tweet sums up:

The Paris attacks are front and center news everywhere. There are many thoughts and reflections one can make on the scourge of ISIS, imperialism, wars, invasions, Islamophobia, how they are tied and linked, who and what are to blame but really what can be said that we haven’t already?

It’s not the first time that there has been such wanton violence and chaos nearly everywhere in the world but maybe due to our globalized reality, where events from even the remotest regions of the earth are streamed instantaneously onto our mobile phones, laptops, etc. it seems that violence has increased exponentially. Our thoughts are with all those innocents killed, the casualties, to the oppressed, the victimized, and the murdered, anywhere on earth.

This is an open thread for loonwatchers to share their thoughts, reflections and comments.

England: Man Pushes Hijab Wearing Muslim Woman Into Oncoming Train

13 November, 2015 - 22:13


Why would this elderly, 81 year-old Shinohara do this? Has he been poisoned by the Islamophobic rhetoric in the UK? (h/t:J)

via. Daily Mail

In the horrifying footage, a man is seen loitering on the platform of the station.

As the train approaches, he seems to rush towards her and push her into the side of the moving train.

She then collided with the side of the train before landing back on the platform.

The female victim suffered minor injuries and was treated for grazes to her face at hospital, the British Transport Police revealed.


Yoshiyuki Shinohara, 81, of no fixed abode, was arrested and charged on suspicion of attempted murder.

Read the entire article…

Attempted Domestic Terror Plot Lands Katy Man In Prison

13 November, 2015 - 18:54


Where was he radicalized ? Notice how this is not being covered by major networks.  Can you imagine his relatively light sentence if he was Muslim? Can you imagine the outrage from Islamophobes conservative and Liberal alike?

Updated 2:19 pm, Friday, November 6, 2015

A Katy man who planned to launch a domestic terrorism attack last year by robbing an armored car before detonating an explosion, killing a state trooper and spraying a mosque with gunfire at prayer time has been sentenced to federal prison.

Robert James Talbot Jr. was arrested outside a Houston storage locker in March 2014 on the morning he planned to launch his nationwide “American Insurgent Movement.”

On Friday, federal prosecutors asked for 20 years, the statutory maximum sentence, saying they wanted to protect the community from someone who poses “extreme” danger to the public and law enforcement. The 39-year-old’s lawyer, Windi Pastorini, contended that her client has admitted his crimes, apologized and has “diminished capacity” that requires mental health treatment.

U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein ordered Talbot to 6½ years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Continue reading ….

Racist Criminal Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch Smashes Beer Mug on Muslim Woman’s Face For Speaking Swahili At Applebees

7 November, 2015 - 00:24


Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch smashed a beer-mug across the face of a Muslim woman at an Applebees because she didn’t like the fact that she wasn’t speaking English. Where was Burchard-Risch indoctrinated to hate?

There is no rational thought that can dissuade these nativists who blame their miserable existence on those who are not like them.

Maybe this is how Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch and those like her will “Make America Great Again”?

via. Kare11.com

COON RAPIDS, Minn. – A woman is charged with assault for allegedly smashing a beer mug across a diner’s face at a local Applebee’s — all because the victim wasn’t speaking English, according to the complaint.

Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, 43, was charged with third-degree assault for an incident that occurred on Oct. 30 at the Applebee’s in Coon Rapids.

According to the criminal complaint, Burchard-Risch was dining with her husband when she became upset after hearing the victim speaking in a foreign language in the neighboring booth.

Authorities say that’s when managers stepped in and tried to get Burchard-Risch to leave.

Charges say she refused, continued to yell at the victim and threw her drink at the woman. Then she “smashed” her beer mug across the woman’s face in a “round house punch” motion and fled the scene, according to the complaint.

One of the Applebee’s managers followed Burchard-Risch out of the restaurant until she was arrested by responding officers.

Police met with the victim inside the restaurant and noticed a deep cut across her nose, a cut on her right eyebrow and a large, deep cut on her lower lip.

Read the entire article…

Mississippi: Marshall W. Leonard Detonates Bomb at Walmart

6 November, 2015 - 22:55

Marshall W. Leonard

Where was Marshall W. Leonard radicalized? (Photo: Lee County jail)

Notice how he is not referred to as a terrorist in the article below.

Where are these people’s priorities? Walmart treats its employees horrifically, wouldn’t that be a real reason to protest the chain? Instead of standing in the parking lot and protesting a choice to no longer sell Confederate flags at their stores, like the irrelevant Arizona man Ritzheimer, how about realizing that big corporations don’t care. They make moves only in response to the market and not out of any sort of benevolence.

via. USA Today Network The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger

JACKSON, Miss. — A man is charged after allegedly setting off an explosive at a Mississippi Walmart Sunday morning.

Marshall W. Leonard, 61, of Tupelo, will be charged with placing an explosive device. Under Mississippi Code 97-37-25 he could get life in prison if convicted, the Tupelo Daily Journal reported.

Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said a vehicle pulled up to an entrance of the Walmart in North Gloster around 1:30 a.m. CT.

“A white male got out, lit the package and threw it in the vestibule,” said Aguirre. “There was an employee on break, and the suspect told him, ‘You better run.’

“The employee did run and was away from harm when the package went off. It wasn’t a large explosion. It didn’t cause a lot of damage to the store.”

No one was injured in the incident. The remnants of the homemade explosive device have been sent to the crime lab.

A supporter of the Mississippi flag, Leonard railed against anyone who wanted it removed because it contained the Confederate battle flag. He spoke out against Walmart when the retail giant stop selling items that contained the Confederate battle flag.

Last Wednesday, Leonard posted threats on the Daily Journal Facebook page.

Continue reading …

Massachusetts: Mosque Vandalized

2 November, 2015 - 17:51


A mosque in Burlington, Massachusetts has been vandalized for the second time. Perhaps the culprits have bought into the idea that mosques are “unAmerican” hence they decided to spray-paint “USA” on the mosque walls. On the other hand maybe they thought the congregants of the mosque needed a helpful reminder that there are still bigots in the neighborhood.

Burlington Patch

A mosque in Burlington was vandalized overnight.

Vandals spray-painted “USA” repeatedly on the exterior walls of the Islamic Center of Burlington.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which posted photos of the graffiti online, says it was discovered early Sunday morning.

In a statement, the group suggests the graffiti reflects growing anti-Islamic sentiment that Muslim are not “real” Americans.

Police say they are looking for to men who were driving a white Ford Crown Victoria early this morning. They believe two white men were involved.

Police say the suspects were in the area for at least 20 minutes before driving away.

This is the second time the mosque has been vandalized in the past two years. Another group of vandals also spray-painted the word “USA” on the mosque back in 2013.

Read the entire article

The Failure of Progressive Thought

2 November, 2015 - 17:25


Original Guest Article

By Laith Saud

This past week, the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee – on the Bill Maher show no less ‑ insisted that terrorism and other forms of violence are not a result of poverty but ideology.  Tulsi Gabbard insisted that Islam is the source of violence, not socio-economic conditions.  This is significant, because it demonstrates the Vice Chair of the DNC knows nothing about the Progressive worldview. True liberal values may be in decline because ‘mainstream’ Progressives have abandoned some of the core beliefs of a Progressive worldview.

Consider the images above: The image on the left is one of the iconic images of the Charlie Hebdo Magazine.  The image on the right was posted on Facebook by a French youth, less than a week after the Hebdo killings earlier this year.  The artists and writers of the image on the left were considered heroes of ‘free speech’ and satire. The youth behind the image on the right was arrested by French authorities for ‘defending terrorism;’ begging the question – what is the difference?  Is it even possible for the liberal values attributed to the image on the left to exist, so long as states can attribute ‘terror’ to the image on the right?  The answer is no.

Islam and The Left

Islam(ism) presents a problem to the Left.[1]  It was unexpected and does not fit neatly into any scholastic theory; in order to understand this problem we have to revisit the political spectrum.  Our spectrum is often presented as a range of attitudes on cultural issues, rights or policies: Same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, role of religion in society, the death penalty, etc.  But what is forgotten is that deep sociological paradigms inform this spectrum and produce these attitudes.  If you are on the Right, you presume that the traditions of our past guide us and sustain us, thus their perennial wisdom.  Meanwhile, you believe people in the present possess enough rationality to trade well.  Conservatives thus prefer to circumscribe central power in favor of a more diffuse authority of tradition – and the economy figures things out on its own.

If you are on the Left, you do not automatically defer to the authority of tradition; you constantly challenge them and inquire into the economic conditions that produced them.  Progressives believe that economic conditions precede ideas.  This is a fundamental point.  Liberty is the organizing principal on the Right, Equality on the Left.  The Left believes greater equality facilitates enough shared power to produce traditions and institutions that are more balanced and fair, thus sustaining a more harmonious humanity.  Both ends have their strengths and weaknesses.  But in America’s current climate, the Left is collapsing under the weight and demands of popular democrats and liberals who insist that Muslims are somehow exempt from socio-economic conditions, thus re-enforcing the ‘necessity’ of the security war-mongering state.

What the Left Don’t Know Won’t Hurt It (Actually Not) 

For example, Islamism presents three problems to the Left: First, it’s presumed origins in ‘religion’ defy Marxist and Modernization paradigms, which suggest the eventual demise of religion.  Second, the seemingly ‘illiberal’ beliefs of Muslims generally are difficult to reconcile with a Progressive agenda.  And lastly, Islamism’s configuration into the larger problem of imperialism and foreign policy inhibits the Left – e.g. we do not support imperialism, but cannot endorse Islamism as resistance to it.  But these things are actually quite straight forward for a Progressive to address.

Quite simply, if the Muslim world is ‘behind’ or not in possession of the same ‘Liberal tradition’ as the West, it is because certain economic conditions have not yet converged to produce the particular dialectic that eventuates those kinds of debates.  This is axiomatic for a Progressive; it is not complicated.  Generally the debate on Islam is more obsessed with the ‘ability’ to criticize Islam without being labeled an ‘Islamophobe.’  This debate is evident among thinkers and entertainers like Bill Maher or Sam Harris, but even among prominent political theorists like Michael Walzer.  Conservatives argue from a vantage of culture, thus I am not concerned with conservativism; but the Left does not.

Michale Walzer, a giant in Progressive political theory, has argued that many on the Left and Muslims generally refuse to engage “the many violent events in the Muslim world.”  Furthermore, he strongly suggests that to attribute such violence to American or Western imperial policy – which directly and dramatically shapes economic conditions – is merely apologia for Islamism (Andrew March provides a serious response, cited below).  On more entertaining platforms, Bill Maher spews this type of nonsense often, insisting that wars and devastation cannot be referenced when talking about violence in the Muslim world.  “Poverty does not cause” violence, he and his guest bragged.

I am not interested in entering this debate directly, but rather in taking a view from above.  If Walzer, along with populist progressives like Maher, insist that I cannot address very real economic conditions underlying Islamism, I am no longer talking to Progressives, but to Samuel Huntington, someone who employed paradigms I simply do not agree with.  And this is where the conversation breaks down.  Some progressives decry the absence of ‘liberal’ values in the Muslim world, for Sam Harris, who wants to occupy Progressive space, this absence actually proves civilizational inferiority and justifies aggressive wars and torture against Muslims – the irony is dizzying.  But I cannot discuss values in a vacuum, to do that would be dogmatic, a departure from the economically grounded heterodoxy of the Progressive worldview.  I am not saying I am a relativist, I am just saying that culture is in large part relative to the economy.  I must advocate for greater economic justice in order to hope for greater social justice, the former is the prerequisite to the latter – at least for a Progressive.

The Left, Culture and White Privilege

So why have Conservative arguments on Islam(ism) become so popular or at least strong amongst Progressives? As a corollary, why are discussions on Islamism obsessed with cultural issues rather than economic ones, per the requirements of a Progressive worldview?  The answer is, again, simple: Eurocentrism.  I am not interested in pointing out racism for its own sake, for the racism here is a product of inequity as well.  But for the moment let me point out the white privilege underpinning the silent paradigm shift amongst Progressives.

People do not understand white (and/or male) privilege.  They assume it rests on raw power and the absence of institutional oppression.  But white privilege is also a privileged way at looking at and being in the world – it is an epistemic and ontic domain.

Funny story: I was once flying from Istanbul to Paris, happy that I managed to land an inexpensive bump up to Business Class.  Before departing, the white gentlemen to my right ordered a glass of champagne.  Upon hearing his voice I knew he was an American.  So we began to converse and I mentioned (for some dumb reason) that I was born in Baghdad.  Immediately he began quizzing me, relatively loudly, about ISIS and whether I thought ISIS was an American conspiracy.  The last thing a Muslim ever wants to do is discuss ISIS or terrorism or bombs on an airplane.  His uninhibited enthusiasm displayed a real eagerness to hear from ‘a native’ but it was also an exhibition of his privilege; it never occurred to him that this was not an appropriate conversation to have on an airplane for me.  Second, as Fanon would have reminded us, ‘the native’ is usually a relief, standing in to confirm whatever bias is there.  I just changed the subject.

Had the attendant heard me, an Arab/Muslim man in his thirties, saying ISIS on a plane and had it made her uncomfortable, I would have been removed from the plane without delay.  Muslims are removed for less, often for just ‘looking’ Muslim.  This never occurred to him, nor should it; hell I wish I had some of that privilege.  White privilege is the ability to move in the world outside the shadow of institutionalized prejudice, bias and discrimination; it is also the ability presume life is like that for everyone.  That projection onto ‘the other,’ that I will judge your actions according to the life I presume of myself is uncritical.  Likewise, all of the cultural based arguments about Islamism, which ascribe to Islamic doctrine the much-circulated images of ISIS horror, are uncritical.  Critique, which has its home in the Left, begins with those forces that are not manifest but latent.  White privilege is the ability to think uncritically about the world, because, what does it matter anyway?  I can already sense the groans from white readers, ‘just playing the race card,’ then revisit Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew, maybe that critique is more ‘objective.’

There is an ironic twist to white privilege as well.  I project onto the Other my ease, but I also project onto the Other complete difference.  When ‘we’ are violent, there are ‘complicated reasons,’ when ‘they’ are violent it is because they just are.  ISIS persists in Syria and Iraq, two failed states with no centralized police or military force – in the case of the latter, we dismantled it.  If the US military and local police forces were disbanded, how long before the KKK emerged in some parts of this country as a serious militia?  Three months?  Three weeks?  Three days?

There is a demand on Muslim intellectuals and intellectuals on the Left to ‘explain’ the damn stubbornness of Islam.  And indeed, Muslim intellectuals are facing a truly daunting crisis, in part because they have no allies.  Paradigms are suspended when it comes to Islam, thus there is no stable footing for a common dialogue.  Furthermore, where is the Left?  So far the Left has not put up much of an explanation for the ferocious contradiction presented at the top of this page, let alone the summary killings of Muslims by drones, immoral and illegal invasions of Muslim states and the ongoing oppression of Palestinians.  And the difference between an American Muslim denied legal rights and the Muslim in Yemen annihilated by a drone he heard but never saw, is one of degree and circumstance, not category.

The need to explain these proportions of violence by Leftists is suspended by the demands of ‘security;’ well if that is the case, Hobbes was right, not Rousseau.  You literally have more of a chance of drowning in your own bathtub than you do being killed in a terrorist attack; ridiculously insisting Muslims explain terror, while remaining silent on the list of injustices listed above, screams white privilege and indulgence.  And like I said, I am too old now to believe that white privilege will disappear in my lifetime, but I will not confuse its tautological convenience with truth.

The constant reference to Islamic culture, values and beliefs as an object of critique outside the framework of economic and political justice is merely cultural rhetoric.  When Michael Walzer says arguments insisting “the root cause of religious zealotry is not religion…but Western imperialism and the oppression and poverty it has bred” are vacuous or losing plausibility, he demands a cultural argument.  There is a popular demand, al la Maher that Muslims account for the absence of liberal rights or the pervasive violence in the Muslim world.  This is a conservative argument.

Invoking abstract liberal values, irrespective of the empirical realities of the societies you may wish them for is dogmatism, not critique.  This approach is similar to Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins who wish to pontificate on the superiority of science over religion, showing a simple mindedness that is difficult for scholars in the humanities and social sciences to visage.  They speak of science ‘as the solution’ outside of society, regardless of social institutions that exist in the present.  Science is a method, not a fixed set of propositions we must comport to; likewise, Progressive politics is an advocacy that pushes economic justice in pursuit of social enlightenment. Imperialism and inhumane arms production and sales (driven by profit) come before jihadi ideology.   

The Crises of the Muslim Intellectual, the Crises of the American Intellectual

Muslims intellectuals are earnestly attempting to confront the challenges facing Muslim society.  The question in this discussion immediately arises however, which challenges?  Abdul-Wahhab, Tahtawi, ‘Abdu, Rida, and, yes, Qutb, as well as as-Sadr have all written grand theoretical and practical works on modernity, rights and justice. Tariq Ramadan, Abdul-Karim Soroush and Rashid Gannouchi are engaging this tradition with rigor.  But they address problems inherent to Muslim societies and the historical contexts they lay within.  Intellectuals on the Left dumbfounded by Islam(ism) are merely taking their cues from media, not sociology.  Two things are at stake here: The omnipresence of the security state and its pervasive reach into our notion of state.

Daniel Moynihan once said “the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”  A sociologist who understood the paradigmatic poles of Left and Right; President Obama is trying to remain within this tradition when he insists that terrorism is not Islamic but a result of poverty and economics (something Maher and his guest criticized).  Those who insist that anything as universal as violence (or even barbarity) is ‘Islamic’ are privileging conservative paradigms; on this the Left has been equivocal.

This cultural idea of the perennial Islamic enemy is the raison d’etre of the security state – the same state that prioritizes our resources towards military spending at the expense of health care and education.  The freedom by which the media can produce a sustained image of the terrorist = Muslim/terrorism = Islam can only be explained by the acquiescence of critical voices.  There is something about those images many on the Left believe.

Andrew March correctly points out the Schmittian dynamics at work in this discussion, some on the Left approaching Islam as ‘foe.’ We can also cite Schmitt’s notion of the ‘exception’ as well.  Muslims are an exception in western thought and media generally.  And every time anyone in some place of power suspends journalistic process or academic rigor because Muslims are ‘different’ (i.e. not human, because what other difference is there?), they lay claim to that precious bit of sovereignty, endowed upon them to continue legitimating the logic of the security state.

[1] Although the distinction between Islam and Islamism is often made, the Left has demonstrated problems with both and see the latter as emanating from the former.

Laith Saud is a lecturer on Islamic world studies at DePaul University and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago.

Shaker Aamer: Moazzam Begg Takes On Torture Apologist David Rivkin

1 November, 2015 - 17:54


Shaker Aamer was finally freed from captivity in Guantanamo Bay and returned to his home in the UK. In Guantanamo he faced what amounted to illegal detention without due process; never being charged of a crime and formally cleared for release as early as 2007.

Aamer has recounted the torture that he was subjected to at the hands of interrogators and guards, also alleging that there were UK officials present at some of the torture sessions. Many individuals and organizations in the UK campaigned for him to be freed, including CAGE, Reprieve and Amnesty International.

While most of the UK has received news of Aamer’s release positively, neo-Cons and White supremacists such as Douglas Murray continue to loath Aamer as essentially a lying Muzzie terrorist who can’t be trusted. No mention of all the Guantanamo Bay guards and even prosecutors who corroborate that torture occurred at the prison camp.

In the following BBC segment, Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo detainee who endured torture himself, debates David Rivkin, legal counsel to the White House during the Bush-era who justified torture.

Gothamist: Undercover Cop “Converted” To Islam To Spy On Muslim College Students

30 October, 2015 - 16:35


“Blanket suspicion” of the Muslim community is promoted by our law enforcement agencies under the guise of “security.” They will go to the extent of fake “converting,” without a thought or care for the repercussions this has on Muslims. Muslims will now be wary of converts and others who come to their communities.

Sadly too many Americans think life is like an episode of 24 or Homeland and sadly do not care because it is not happening to them. Maybe a web page should be made posting pictures and profiles of these undercover agents so that Muslim communities can be aware of their aggressive attempts at entrapment before it happens.

By Aviva Stahl, The Gothamist

On the leafy Midwood campus of Brooklyn College, a lecture at the school’s Islamic Society had just ended when a woman stood up and asked to take the Shahada, the Muslim testimony of faith.

Nobody knew the woman with light skin and dark hair, who appeared to be in her twenties. In a voice that lilted up at the end of each sentence, she began professing her new beliefs. “Melike Ser” or “Mel,” was not a student and had no apparent connections to the school, but the students embraced her anyway, excited about her conversion.

This past April, four years after Mel’s public act of faith, two Queens residents, Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, were arrested and charged with allegedly planning to build a bomb. The US Justice Department issued a release stating that the women were linked to members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State, and revealed that a Detective from the NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau was heavily involved in bringing the women to justice.

Among the ISO members, some of whom ran in the same social circles as Velentzas and Siddiqui, the arrests set off a chain of frantic text messages, phone calls, and Facebook posts: “Mel” wasn’t “Mel.” She was an undercover cop.

Three Brooklyn College graduates who had been close to the undercover officer told Gothamist of the intimate ties she developed with Muslim students, her presence during some of the most private moments of their lives, and the fear they endured when they learned her true identity.

“I felt violated,” said Jehan, 30, who met Mel years ago in the Brooklyn College ISO prayer room. (At their request, Gothamist has used pseudonyms for all the women interviewed.)

“You trust someone, you talk to them. And they were just gathering information about your community.”

While little is known about the case against Velentzas and Siddiqui, including how and why the NYPD came to involve an undercover officer in the alleged plot, it appears that Mel made an aggressive effort to befriend and surveil law-abiding Muslims years before she ever met her alleged targets, and did so at least up until December of 2014, eight months after the de Blasio administration pledged to stop the NYPD’s blanket surveillance of innocent Muslims.

“Muslim New Yorkers are still fighting for basic human rights,” the Mayor said at a Ramadan dinnerat Gracie Mansion in July of last year. “We recently shut down the Demographics Unit at NYPD, which conducted surveillance on Muslim New Yorkers. Because it’s unfair to single out people on the sole basis of their religion.”

Two individuals with close knowledge of Velentzas and Siddiqui’s case confirmed that Mel is the undercover officer identified in the criminal complaint.

Ramzi Kassem is a professor at CUNY School of Law and also directs the school’s Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, which provides legal advice to New Yorkers affected by counterterrorism practices.

“For an undercover to be seeded in a community for that long without a specific target raises some deeply troubling questions about the direction of policing in our city,” he said. “Casting blanket suspicion on entire communities does not square with most New Yorkers’ understanding of the police’s role in our democratic and open society.”

Read the rest of the article…

Brothers stabbed man for speaking Arabic during family walk in Brooklyn

24 October, 2015 - 13:13

NYC Crime Scene

People are Arab, not “Arabic,” a language, which if spoken in the wrong place these days, can lead to assault with a deadly weapon.


Via Daily News:

Two brothers stabbed a man in his stomach for speaking Arabic as he walked with his wife and 5-year-old son in Brooklyn, authorities said Thursday.

Erick Pastuizaca, 18, and Manuel Pastuizaca, 19, allegedly stabbed the 41-year-old man as he walked on 41st St. near Sunset Park around 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 16, according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

“I’m going to stab you because you’re Arabic and deserve it,” Manuel allegedly said.

The man survived and the brothers face charges including assault as a hate crime.

Pamela Geller Captures Latest Stealth Jihad in Progress

24 October, 2015 - 12:40

Screenshot 2015-10-23 at 10.05.28 PM

Photo by Junaid Ahmed, National Geographic


by Ilisha

It’s happening in Los Angeles.

It’s happening in Washington, D.C.

It’s happening in Moscow, New York City, Paris, Rome, Milan, London, Budapest and beyond.

It’s happening everywhere, and Pamela Geller has the photographic evidence to prove it.

What is this worldwide atrocity that has Ms. Geller convinced Islamic Sharia is poised to take over Western cities, all across the globe?

Friday prayers.

That’s right. Muslims are gathering for congregational prayers all in public spaces over the world. Right out in the open. Stealth jihad is hiding in plain sight.

If there’s one thing Geller dislikes more than Muslims praying in public spaces, it’s Muslims building mosques–especially “mega mosques” that would presumably be large enough to accommodate congregational prayers.

Park51 Entrance Photo by Ilisha, 2013

Park51 Entrance Photo by Ilisha, 2013

Last month Geller and her friends all across the looniverse celebrated their belated victory over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Though it was neither at ground zero nor a mosque, a heated national debate erupted with some help from Geller and her fellow outrage peddlers. By late summer of 2010, after a series of media appearances and protests, polls showed a majority of the American public opposed the plan for a 15-story community center with a prayer space called Park51. 

Despite opposition, the city approved the project. For a few years, Park51 was open to the public in the original space, but the grand plans that has sparked the controversy never materialized. Last month, Sharif El-Gamal, the chairman and CEO of Soho Properties, announced a new plan to turn the property into a 70-story residental tower offering luxury condos. 

In a post with the tag “Ground Zero Mega Mosque: Takbir!,” Geller celebrated victory:

We did it! We the people. President Obama pushed for it, then-Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg supported it, the media actively campaigned for it — the elites in their increasingly fragile ivory towers stumped for the mosque.

But the people stood up and fought it and won.

Hey Obama, YES. WE. CAN. – Pamela Geller

It’s difficult to see how anti-Muslim agitators can take credit for this development. El-Gamal decided to build condos instead of the cultural center not because of pressure from Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and their ilk, but to take advantage of New York City’s luxury condo boom.

Nevertheless, it is a “victory” in the sense the “Ground Zero Mosque” was scrapped. One down, hundreds more to go.

In another recent article, Geller decries the “Obama Justice Department” suing an Illinois town for denying a rezoning application. If the application is approved, it will allow an existing office building to be converted into a what Geller describes as an “Islamic temple.” A move which she views, somehow, as a triumph of Islamic law over American law, as well as a step in the wrong direction:

…Obama’s lawless administration is imposing the Shariah nationwide, allowing the rampant construction of rabats and jihad recruitment centers at a time when we should be monitoring the mosques and restricting construction of Muslim Brotherhood beachheads and Islamic State madrassas. – Pamela Geller

Apparenlty Muslims shouldn’t pray outside in public spaces, and Muslims shouldn’t build mosques to pray inside either. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t seem like a reasonable stance.

Cardinal says liberals and Islamists are ‘Beasts of Apocalypse’

24 October, 2015 - 00:07

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Catholic bishops attend a session of the Synod on the Family at the Vatican (AFP Photo)

This story seems to have received surprisingly scant mainstream media coverage. Via Yahoo! news:

Cardinal says liberals and Islamists are ‘Beasts of Apocalypse’

Vatican City (AFP) – A top African cardinal has described the threat posed by Islamic extremism and western liberal culture as the twin “Beasts of the Apocalypse” comparable to Nazism and communism.

In an intervention at an ongoing synod of bishops on the future of Catholic teaching on the family, Guinean cardinal Robert Sarah reportedly described Islamist militants and western thinking on abortion and homosexuality as sharing “the same demonic origin”.

“Theological discernment allows to see in our times two unexpected threats — almost like the Beasts of the Apocalypse — from two opposite positions: on one side the idolatry of western freedom, on the other religious fanaticism,” said the cardinal, who is one of the leaders of the Church’s conservative wing.

“What Nazism-fascism and communism were to the 20th century, western ideologies on homosexuality and abortion and Islamic fanaticism are to today,” the cardinal said in comments made last week in the closed-doors synod and published Tuesday by several Italian media outlets.

Sarah reportedly said the secular western world’s way of thinking threatened to destroy the family through “quickie divorces, abortion, homosexual unions: look at gender theory, Femen (a feminist group known for topless protests), the LBGT lobby.

“On the other side, there is the pseudo-family of an ideological Islam which legitimises polygamy, sexual slavery, child marriage: look at Al-Qaeda, IS, Boko Haram.

“Certain keys allow us to discern the same demonic origin of these two movements: they both advocate a universal and totalitarian law, they’re both violently intolerant, destroyers of families and the Church, and openly anti-Christian.”

The African cardinal’s outburst follows reports earlier this week that another conservative cleric had described “a whiff of Satan” permeating the synod, which has been beset by mutual allegations of plotting as the battle between conservatives and progressives has intensified.

Sarah, who holds the equivalent of a ministerial post at the Vatican, was one of the cardinals who sent Pope Francis a private letter last week complaining that the synod’s procedures had been rigged in favour of liberals who support reform of the Church’s approach on homosexuality and divorce.

He has also been a prominent opponent of any dilution of Catholic doctrine which means a believer who gets divorced and then remarried in a civil ceremony is effectively excluded from the Church by being denied the right to take communion and confess their sins.

Sweden school killings: Attacker ‘had racist motives’

23 October, 2015 - 21:38

Screenshot 2015-10-23 at 4.24.56 PM

Possibly spurred by heated debate over immigration to Sweden, a sword-wielding man with far-right and anti-Islam sympathies has attacked a school in Trollhattan, killing at least two people. From the BBC:

Sweden school killings: Attacker ‘had racist motives’

Police chief Niclas Hallgren said they had based their conclusion on what was found at the killer’s apartment and “his behaviour during the act”.

Media reports suggest the 21-year-old attacker had far-right sympathies.

Armed with a sword and wearing a helmet and mask, he stormed a school in Trollhattan, near Gothenburg, before being shot dead by police.

Police found a suicide note revealing that the attacker had meant to target “foreigners” and believed “Sweden should not take in so many immigrants”, Swedish TV reported.

But investigators believe he acted alone and there was no indication of any group involvement, Aftonbladet newspaper reports.

“He marches through the corridor with his weapons – a large sword and a large, sharp knife. He chose his victims. Those with dark-skin were attacked. He met with lighter-skinned people who were not attacked,” police investigator Thord Heraldsson told Aftonbladet.

The helmet he wore was similar to German World War Two soldiers’ helmets.

He posed for a photograph with students, who thought he was dressed for Halloween, before going from classroom to classroom at the Kronan School.

A teacher and 17-year-old boy died from stab wounds, while another male student, aged 15, and a 41-year-old teacher remain in a serious condition in hospital.

One of the victims has been identified in media reports as Lavin Eskandar, an assistant teacher. He is said to have died trying to protect schoolchildren.

The attacker’s name has not yet been released by police, though they say he was local to Trollhattan. He did not have a criminal record, police say.

The Swedish daily Expressen and other Swedish media named him as Anton Lundin Pettersson, aged 21.

He had allegedly joined a campaign to push for a referendum on whether Sweden should continue accepting migrants.

Media reports said the suspect’s accounts on Facebook and YouTube suggest he had an interest in Hitler and Nazi Germany, as well as hostility to Islam and immigration

Read the rest here.


The Threat of Islamist Plumbing: Handheld Bidets Coming to a Public Toilet Near You!

13 October, 2015 - 19:47

Islamist plumbing

By Emperor

The Islamic transformation of America is near complete: all that is left is for the handheld bidets to be installed. That’s according to one of Fox News’ best anti-Islamist defender’s of Judeo-Christian civilization reporters, Todd Starnes.

A story about a Wichita, Kansas university chapel that removed its pews, (a move interpreted by one Christian student as a sinister Muslim plot conceived and led by a bunch of dhimmi Christians no less), led Starnes to pen the greatest article ever to save Judeo-Christian Western civilization AND at the same time save Americans the time and effort of cleaning their ass.

Starnes, expertly placed the Christian led move to remove the chapel’s pews in the broader context of that most pressing issue: the politically correct marginalization of Christianity and the march to inevitable and complete Islamization.

Starnes, writes warning us all of the impending future,

Muslims students have presented a petition calling for the university to install Islamic-friendly plumbing. They want handheld bidets installed in restrooms around campus.

This is what the Islamic transformation of a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values looks like, folks. The Christian faith is marginalized while the Islamic faith is given accommodation.

An abomination. Are Americans now going to be required to clean their butts? Sorry to be so crass here but what happened to the Constitutional right to walk around with dingleberries in your draws?

This is a rallying cry, we must take action against bidets and other forms of Islamist plumbing! Call your senator or local rep., start a petition! Also, don’t forget to thank that modern-day Charlemagne, Todd Starnes, who by the way also wants you to know that he wrote a book,

I documented this phenomenon in my latest book, “God Less America.” Check out the chapter titled, “One Nation Under Allah.”

These are critical times, even some of Fox News’ readers have had the wool pulled over their eyes. Commenter, Rufus Callahan even had the gall to claim, “i mean…handheld bidets would be nice…”


Anwar Omeish: Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz, and the Illusion of Knowledge

10 October, 2015 - 22:44

9.14.15IslamAndTolerance068 copy

Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz continue their charade of a “conversation.” These two are not having a conversation, they are just two individuals with shallow ideas who’ve mastered PR and media manipulation to claim an out-sized importance and ability to effect change.

The whole frame that pin points “extremism” as uniquely “Islamic” or even more dangerous than other “extremisms” needs to be challenged.

By , Harvard Politics

It is not an unreasonable expectation of the Harvard Institute of Politics’ John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum that it host events that produce critical, informed, and productive dialogue. Unfortunately, an event hosted on September 14 titled, “Islam and the Future of Tolerance,” did anything but that. This panel discussion between Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and atheist activist, and Maajid Nawaz, a self-professed former radical and U.K. politician—moderated by Juliette Kayyem of the Kennedy School—was instead an echo chamber of conventional anti-Islamic and neoconservative thought, rife with the traditional claims that Islam is inherently violent and that the only way to remedy this is via Western-style religious reform.

The dialogue between Harris and Nawaz, one which they claim is a groundbreaking effort to solve the issue of Islamic extremism, is in fact counterproductive because it ignores actual Muslim communities and their efforts on these fronts and fundamentally misunderstands the Islamic tradition and its relationships with reform. It also engages people who either have no formal training in what they’re talking about, or just have very little to do with the conversation (like Sam Harris himself), thus creating a space of illusory significance which ultimately produces nothing of lasting value.

A Contextual Vacuum

Listening to Sam Harris talk about “how depressing the state of the [anti-extremism] conversation is,” one would think that the discussion of Islamic extremism and how to prevent it is practically non-existent, both within and outside Muslim communities. Indeed, Kayyem’s question about how to get people to talk about ideology and begin to rethink it places the listener in a world in which Islamic extremism has never been confronted and these sorts of discussions never had, thus making the dialogue between Harris and Nawaz a groundbreaking effort. Unfortunately for Harris and Nawaz, however, that is not the world in which we live.

Instead, we live in a world that has seen Muslim communities engaged in vigorous, critical conversations that address the issues of Islamic extremism head on, in both scholarship and community activity. One need only google “Muslims condemn” to find a plethora of statements from Muslim organizations of all sizes condemning various acts of violence committed in the name of their faith (there’s even a Tumblr blog about it).

Furthermore, many of these are not merely condemnations; they are in fact fatwas, or non-binding legal rulings that assert a position supported by Islamic texts and tradition, often while refuting the opposing side’s position via a discussion of its own evidence. Perhaps, if Harris and Kayyem are looking for these sorts of conversations, they could look to the 20 North American Imams who issued a fatwa against terrorism in 2010, or the 18 American Muslim scholars who issued another (co-signed by over 130 Muslim organizations) against terrorism in 2005. Or maybe they want numbers in the hundreds, like the 120 Muslim scholars who wrote a fatwa as an open letter to ISIS in 2014 which responds to each of ISIS’s religious claims in detail, or the 165 Somali religious leaders who issued one condemning Al-Shabaab. Still not enough? They can have this fatwa issued by the British Muslim Forum on behalf of over 500 scholars in 2005, or, if they really want a big one, this 2008 fatwa endorsed by 6,000 Indian scholars that declares “all forms of terrorism against the spirit of Islam.”

And if these several-page fatwas are not quite scholarly enough for them, they can also have this comprehensive 512-page Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings, written by Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in 2011, which refutes claims of an ideological basis for violence and condemns terrorism in the starkest terms.

Continue reading …

Islamophobic Paranoia and Hate Erupts in Florida Town After Photo Shows Muslims Praying At Beach

9 October, 2015 - 18:24

Muslim men praying in Wakulla County (Facebook)

Muslim men praying in Wakulla County

The paranoia of Islamophobia has reached “Mashes Sands Beach, Wakullah County, Florida.” Love the reaction of Vanessa More, the Christian mother of one of the Muslim men praying in the picture: “Hatred only leads to more hate, so now are you going to make every Muslim carry a card that says, ‘I’m a good citizen, I’m not affiliated with ISIS, I just want to pray.’”

By , Raw Story

A photo taken by a Florida county commissioner of a group of men observing their Muslim faith has ignited a racist backlash that spilled over into a recent government meeting, WTXL reports.

The photo was taken at Mashes Sands Beach in Wakulla County by county commission chairman Ralph Thomas and posted to his Facebook page with the caption, “Walked up on this at Mashes Sands this evening! First time seeing this in Wakulla County.” The photo has sparked an emotional storm that has included death threats.

“I’m raising the question of whether or not a group of military aged Muslim men… are praying on our beach, well label me whatever you want,” said Wakulla County Sheriff candidate Will Dance, according to WTXL. “The reason I brought this up is because my daughters use that beach, my wife uses that beach and gentlemen, under Sharia Law, the cutoff shorts and tee-shirts… that my family wears on that beach are considered offensive under Sharia and any Muslim man may carry out what he feels is fit punishment. And I’m sorry but that type of behavior cannot happen here.”

Muslim leader Imam Amro was interviewed by WTXL and assured people that in general, no Muslim would retaliate against anyone not wearing modest clothes because it’s none of their business.

“A sick brain, then you will find it in Islam and in Christianity, in any religion there is a sick brain, but this is something else,” he said. He also pointed out that Sharia is a divine religious law that is not forced on people who don’t know what it is or don’t want it.

Devout Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca, which is what the picture seems to portray. Responses on Thomas’s post show a great deal of fear at what appears to be nothing more than routine prayer.

Vanessa Moore is the mother of one of the men who happened to be at the beach and was caught in the photo. She says her 29-year-old son never expected to attract attention and worried about the implications of the anti-Muslim hate on display.

“He never wanted to be in anyone’s spotlight, he was just out there, at a barbecue, praying,” she told WTXL. “Hatred only leads to more hate, so now are you going to make every Muslim carry a card that says, ‘I’m a good citizen, I’m not affiliated with ISIS, I just want to pray.’”

Continue reading …