Loon Watch

Subscribe to Loon Watch feed
The Mooslims, they're heeere!
Updated: 5 hours 25 min ago

Are Revere Parents Really Angry About Islam in the Curriculum?

22 October, 2014 - 23:28


By Eric Randall, Boston Magazine

A WHDH story this week reports that “Some parents in Revere were angry when they learned students were being taught about Islam and the Muslim religion.” Oh boy. Might this be a time to put head in hands and shudder? Actually, it might not be, but we’ll get there.

The story features the very colorful Revere parent Anthony Giannino, who takes issue with his son’s textbook, a section of which states, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah.” That’s from the Islamic call to prayer. Presumably the book was not professing faith in Allah, but rather, listing the tenets of the major world religion’s central belief sys—oh never mind. You get it.

“That’s insulting to me, as a Christian who just believes in Jesus only,” Giannino says, which either shows deep understanding of the Holy Trinity theology or … doesn’t. At any rate, his son is now failing his class. The superintendent sent parents a letter stating, “I want to be very clear that no religion is taught with the purpose of converting students to that religion…”

There is cause for hope. WHDH might be using the words “classroom controversy” and “some parents” very liberally. The anchor notes that the reporter spoke to “at least one parent.” The reporter then notes, “other parents we spoke to had no issue with the assignment.” Two parents then explain the difference between learning about religion and learning to follow that religion. “But some parents certainly disagree,” the reporter says. We then cut back to Giannino. He tells the reporter he is starting a protest and a petition and has “plenty of supporters.” Nevertheless, this is a story about a “classroom controversy” that presents twice as many non-angry parents as angry ones.

Might we just tell ourselves that Giannino is mostly alone on this? Might this restore our faith in parenting and humanity? Sure. Just don’t read the WHDH comments section.

Alderman Wery quizzes Muslim woman on terrorism

22 October, 2014 - 22:48


There are calls for Wery to resign which seems sensible considering that he views part of his constituency with a high degree of suspicion and believes they must be interrogated before receiving a response to municipal and constitutional concerns.

via. Green Bay Press

A Green Bay alderman has apologized to a Muslim resident for responding to her inquiry about public bus service with questions about her political beliefs and whether she condemns Islamic terrorism.

Alderman Chris Wery directed his questions to Heba Mohammad after the recent University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate asked the alderman in an email why city bus service is not free on Election Day.

Wery agreed to check into the bus service question, but then he asked Mohammad about her involvement in starting a Muslim Student Association group at UW-Green Bay.

“I just want to be assured that your group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology,” Wery wrote, asking if Mohammad and the association condemn “terrorist groups such as Hamas.”

Mohammad refused to answer Wery’s questions and then posted the exchange on Facebook, prompting many users of the social media site to accuse the alderman of bigotry and profiling.

Mohammad, 22, who graduated from UW-Green Bay earlier this year, said she was surprised to hear an elected official engage in what she considered profiling based on her religious background. She believes he developed an “instant suspicion” because of her name.

“That’s kind of hurtful, to be honest,” she told Press-Gazette Media.

Wery, a veteran City Council member who once ran for mayor, said he recognized that his remarks were inappropriate and poorly timed. He said he should not have raised his questions while helping a resident get information about public bus service.

“I phrased it wrong. It was the wrong setting,” he told Press-Gazette Media. “And I apologized for that.”

Mohammad said she accepted the alderman’s apology and was glad he understood why his actions were inappropriate.

David Coury, a UW-Green Bay faculty adviser to the Muslim Student Association, also responded to Wery, writing in an email that he would gladly meet with Wery to “allay any fears or concerns you might have.”

Coury, a professor of Humanistic Studies, assured Wery that the Muslim student group is not political and that the group condemns all forms of terrorism against innocent people. To which Wery responded, “That is really all I wanted to know and probably was much too blunt in my questions to Heba.”

The exchange began Monday when Mohammad emailed Wery that free bus service on Election Day would help boost turnout by assuring that people without transportation are able to reach a polling place. She wrote that she was reaching out “as a concerned citizen of our wonderful city.”

Green Bay Metro’s city-run transit system has provided free bus rides on Saturdays and certain special events, but not on Election Day.

When Wery responded by questioning whether Mohammad supports Islamic terrorism, she wrote back, “I am offended that our conversation has taken this direction.”

In an interview, Wery said he attended UWGB and he recognized Mohammad’s name as founder of the Muslim Student Association from a campus publication that he receives. He said Muslim college groups elsewhere in the United States have espoused anti-American sentiments, and he added that he took the opportunity to ask Mohammad about the UW-Green Bay group.

Saying he was questioning the group as a concerned citizen rather than an aldermen, he said, “It’s something that had been rattling around in the back of my head.”

— swilliams@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @pgscottwilliams

Ali Mazrui: Famous African Muslim Scholar Who Once Divided US Audiences

22 October, 2014 - 22:09


By Douglas Martin, The New York Times

Ali Mazrui, a scholar and prolific author who set off a tsunami of criticism in 1986 by writing and hosting “The Africans: A Triple Heritage,” a public television series that culminated in what seemed to be an endorsement of African nations’ acquiring nuclear weapons, died on Oct. 12 at his home in Vestal, N.Y. He was 81.

His family announced the death without specifying a cause.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, where Professor Mazrui was born, said at the time of his death that he was “a towering academician whose intellectual contributions played a major role in shaping African scholarship.”

His books and his hundreds of scholarly articles explored topics like African politics, international political culture, political Islam and globalization. He was for many years a professor at the University of Michigan, and since 1989 had held the Albert Schweitzer chair at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Reflecting his habit of provocation, Professor Mazrui wrote an article in 2012, posted on Facebook, accusing Dr. Schweitzer, the revered medical missionary in pre-independence Gabon, of being “a benevolent racist.” He wrote that Dr. Schweitzer had called Africans “primitives” and “savages,” and had treated Africans in a hospital unit that was separate from, and less comfortable than, one for whites.

Professor Mazrui’s courage transcended ideas. When he was a political-science professor in Uganda in the early 1970s, the country’s brutal dictator, Idi Amin, invited him to be his chief adviser on international affairs — “his Kissinger,” Professor Mazrui told The New York Times in 1986. Instead, he publicly criticized Amin and fled Uganda.

“The Africans,” a nine-part series that was originally broadcast by the BBC and later shown on PBS, portrayed Africa as having been defined by the interplay of indigenous, Islamic and Western influences. Professor Mazrui had acquired the perspective by growing up speaking Swahili, practicing Islam and attending an English-speaking school in Mombasa, Kenya.

“My three worlds overlapped,” he said in the interview with The Times.

The series glorified the Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, saying he inspired Africans to have a sense of destiny and become actors on the world stage — a stance that set off storms of criticism. In the last episode, Professor Mazrui predicted a “final racial conflict” in South Africa that would end with whites’ shrinking from using nuclear weapons for fear of killing themselves and then being defeated in an armed struggle, ending apartheid. Victorious blacks, he said, would then inherit “the most advanced nuclear infrastructure on the continent,” and nuclear weapons would become a bargaining chip in a worldwide black-white struggle.

He told The Los Angeles Times that he was “uneasy” that the United States and the Soviet Union could start a nuclear war, without Africa having the same capability. “I want black Africa to have the bomb to frighten the system as a whole,” he said.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, which had contributed $600,000 toward the making of the series, was so upset with Professor Mazuri’s message that it removed its name from the credits. Lynne Cheney, the chairwoman of the endowment, called the series “worse than unbalanced,” noting that it included no interviews giving divergent views.

Professor Mazrui’s answer to Mrs. Cheney was that he had intended from the beginning to represent the views of one African — “a view from the inside,” he called it. “There are many parts that are anti-imperialist,” he told The New York Times. “Africa is concerned with past domination and afraid of redomination.”

Reviewing the series for The Times, John Corry called its scholarship “empty” and said it was “a vehicle solely for Mr. Mazrui’s feelings.”

But Clifford Terry, writing in The Chicago Tribune, suggested that this personal perspective was in fact a strength: “It is obvious, through it all, that here is a man who deeply cares about what he likes to call a ‘remarkable continent.’ ”

Tom Shales of The Washington Post applauded the shows’ abrasiveness. “The alternative,” he wrote, “would be an innocuous, safely ‘balanced’ documentary on Africa that made no ripples, provoked no discourse.”

Ali Al’Amin Mazrui was born on Feb. 24, 1933, in Mombasa. His father was an eminent Muslim scholar and the chief Islamic judge of Kenya.

Read the rest…


Perth mosques, Islamic school vandalised in weekend attacks

22 October, 2014 - 00:43


via. IslamophobiaWatch

Two Perth mosques and an Islamic education centre have been vandalised in weekend attacks. Slogans including “ban Islam” and using profanities were spray painted on the walls of an Islamic school and mosque, and beer bottles were thrown at another mosque.

Muslim sheikh Burhaan Mehtar said these sorts of religious attacks were becoming more common. “Perhaps it’s better to ignore this minority group that are terrorising Australian Muslims, but there is a limit to what people can actually digest and they do become fearful at what happened,” he said.

“These type of things breed fear in the hearts of the innocent ladies and children, especially who want to perhaps ride around the worship centre or come by bike to the mosque. You do feel a bit stressed, anything can happen.”

He said the wider Australian Muslim community was very tolerant, but many were becoming sad and fearful over the perceived rise in anti-Islamic sentiment.

Police said they were investigating the graffiti attacks, but there had been no recent increase in racially-motivated crime. “Western Australia is a tolerant and inclusive state, and people should respect the diversity in our community,” a spokeswoman said.

The graffiti came days after a peaceful anti-Islamophobia rally in the Perth CBD was interrupted by a group of anti-Muslim protestors. Many of the counter-protestors were issued move on notices by police for inciting violence.

Mr Mehtar encouraged the wider public to attend a national mosque open day this Saturday, to help answer any questions they may have about the religion. The Southern River Islamic mosque will be open to the public, with activities including a BBQ, guided tours, question and answer sessions and scarf dying.

“It is a time to come and have a barbecue with us, have a tour and ask us any questions you wish to ask. If there is something troubling you or on your mind and you feel that Muslims are such and such, come and ask, come and meet us. We hope that it’s going to be one of the ways of creating harmony and a balance in society.”

ABC News, 20 October 2014

Westbrook man arrested for allegedly threatening cab driver

22 October, 2014 - 00:22


via. Press Herald

Westbrook police have arrested a 30-year-old man who allegedly smashed a cab driver’s windshield and then shot at him Sunday night, according to the cab driver.

Keith O’Brien of Westbrook was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, aggravated reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and falsifying physical evidence, police said Monday.

The cab driver told police that he was driving a man and a woman through Westbrook “when the man threatened him and made disparaging comments about his ethnicity before exiting the cab and smashing its windshield,” according to a press release from Westbrook police Captain Michael Nugent.

The driver said he then called 911 and proceeded to follow the man and woman on foot to a home on Carlson Street. The driver said the man then came outside and fired a gun at him.

Police executed a search warrant on the home, then arrested O’Brien, who was taken to Cumberland County Jail.

Paris Opera Expels Veiled Woman During Performance

20 October, 2014 - 20:45


(h/t: Seyma)

via. Al-Arabiya

France’s government is drawing up a new set of rules for theatres after Paris Opera ejected woman for wearing a veil during a performance, the institution’s deputy director said Sunday.

The incident took place when a veiled woman was spotted on the front row of a performance of La Traviata at the Opera Bastille, Jean-Philippe Thiellay told AFP, confirming a media report.

France brought in a law in 2011 banning anyone from wearing clothing that conceals the face in a public space, or face a 150 euro ($190) fine.

The woman was sitting just behind the conductor, visible to monitors, wearing a scarf covering her hair and a veil over her mouth and nose during the performance on October 3.

“I was alerted in the second act,” said Thiellay, adding that “some performers said they did not want to sing” if something was not done.

France’s ministry of culture said a bill was currently being drafted to remind theatres, museums and other public institutions under its supervision of the rules regarding veils.

The spectator and her companion — tourists from the Gulf, according to MetroNews — were asked to leave by an inspector during the interval.

“He told her that in France there is a ban of this nature, asked her to either uncover her face or leave the room. The man asked the woman to get up, they left,” Thiellay said.

“It’s never nice to ask someone to leave… But there was a misunderstanding of the law and the lady either had to respect it or leave,” he said.

Central African Republic: What Really Happened and Why Does it Matter?

20 October, 2014 - 20:37

CAR Militia

People hide from gunfire near a church during a Feb. 18 firefight between African peacekeepers and fighters from the anti-balaka militia in Bangui, Central African Republic. CNS photo

This is the second article in a Loonwatch exclusive series entitled, This is Africa. The first article set the stage for understanding the scramble for Africa’s abundant resources, and is recommended as a prerequisite: Bleeding Africa: A Half Century of the Françafrique

by Ilisha

The Central African Republic (CAR) has fallen from the headlines, but what is happening there must not be forgotten. Beyond sensationalism, sound bites, and reflexive, self-serving narratives, what really happened and why does it matter?

It matters because the people have suffered and because they continue to suffer. It matters because the same macabre scenarios keep playing out, again and again. In CAR, Nigeria, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and beyond. Each conflict has a particular context, distinct from the others, but we are often led to believe they all intersect with Islam.

As violence raged across CAR, most of the major media focused myopically on the religious angle. We were told rebels known as the Seleka, comprised exclusively of Muslims, launched a blood-soaked campaign in March of last year and deposed the country’s Christian president, viciously attacking innocent Christian civilians in the process. After months of violence and unprovoked attacks, we were told, Christian militias formed to defend themselves against further attacks by Muslims. Violence subsequently spiraled out of control, leading to gruesome scenes of innocent people, including children, being slaughtered in the streets.

Violence reached unprecedented levels in December of last year. By March of this year, the UN reported most Muslims had been “cleansed” from the Western part of the country. The Muslims, according to this narrative, essentially brought about their own demise. Sure, it was the extremists who started it all, but isn’t it always the Muslims, striking out “in the name of Islam”?

What does it mean when people claim violence is done “in the name of Islam”? This accusation relies on assumptions that are rarely challenged. It seems we’re so conditioned to simply accept that religion in general, and Islam in particular, are the root cause of violence all over the world, most people have stopped asking critical questions.

Religion causes violence, and especially the religion of Islam. Everyone “knows” that. But is it true?

The real story behind the headlines is far more complex, and includes parties barely mentioned in the dominant narrative. Foreign countries, most notably France, played a significant role in the conflict as well, and not just as a peacekeeping force. The missing pieces shape the narrative with the contours of nuance, and prompt the questions that are rarely asked, even by the journalists.

Why did the Muslims of CAR suddenly launch a civil war in the Central African Republic? What did they stand to gain? Why is it so easy for so many people to believe that Muslims, Africans, and especially African Muslims, spontaneously indulge in bloodletting for no apparent reason? We are told the Muslim minority started kicking up dust and perhaps lopping off heads, just as we’ve come to expect.

For many, this curious narrative seems to spark no curiosity. We can simply assume the much-vaunted “free media” will tell us the unvarnished truth. Except that they often don’t, as well shall see.

False Religious Binary

We know there are Christians and Muslims in CAR because, collectively, these groups are the stars of the show. The protagonist and the antagonist, in the drama that unfolded, reaching a tragic climax with the blood of the innocent.

Pitting Christians and Muslims against one another makes good headlines in the current climate. Blaming religion for all the world’s problems is popular among the elites and broad swaths among the masses as well, and within that context, Muslims have taken center stage. The Muslims are allegedly always picking on Jews and Christians, and even Hindus, Yazidis and atheists. All non-Muslims are supposedly fair game. But for the West, it is the Christian victims who tug hardest at the heart strings. Christianity may be barely relevant in the West, but the hollowed out tradition still resonates when “jihad” is on the march.

The problem with the this Christian-Muslim binary is that it’s false.

The religious composition of CAR is more complex than a Christian majority and a Muslim minority. According to the CIA World Fact book, the religious breakdown in CAR is 35% indigenous beliefs, 60% Christian (25% Protestant, 35% Catholic), and 15% Muslim. An annotation explains “animistic beliefs and practices strongly influence the Christian majority.” At best, Christians comprise a small majority, heavily influenced by animist beliefs, while more than a third are animists outright.

Animists? You can be forgiven for not having the slightest notion what an animist is, even if you were absorbed daily in the news of CAR. Animists complicate the narrative. Animists don’t tug at heart strings. Animists are not part of the agenda, and so they mostly disappeared. Human rights matter mostly as props that distract us from the major plot, and for that role, animists don’t make the cut when the local Christians will do nicely.

Outrage peddlers have a far better chance of stoking the emotions of Western audiences with a narrative that pits “savage” Muslims against innocent, peace-loving Christians. Despite the glaring omission of animists from the lurid tales of bloodshed, there are some obvious clues suggesting the influence of their beliefs.

Cannibalism is not a Christian practice, yet we have seen several gruesome examples of “Christians” killing and eating their Muslim victims, a phenomenon also seen in Nigeria. Ouandja Magloire stands out in a crowd for his stunning barbarism. A mob of angry Christians murdered a Muslim passerby and desecrated his corpse. Among the perpetrators was “Mad Dog” Magloire, who ate the victim’s leg, and then saved a portion of the flesh for later, as if parts of the corpse were restaurant leftovers.

Magloire reported he put the leftover flesh of his victim between two halves of a baguette and ate it, with a side of okra. Mad Dog Magloire would have been a public relations bonanza for the hate brigades, if only  he had been a Muslim. Months ago, when a Syrian rebel bit into the heart of his victim, we saw headlines like this: Syrian Jihadist Eats Human Flesh In The Name Of Allah.

In the name of Allah? Where are the headlines accusing Mad Dog Magloire of feasting on a leg sandwich “in the name of Jesus”? In fact, neither Christianity nor Islam sanction cannibalism.

Ritual cannibalism is found in some streams of animism, where eating a part of a defeated enemy’s body is thought to pass the dead person’s spirit to the conqueror. This peculiar detail is largely ignored by the Western media, which does not bother to delve into why these nominal animist-influenced “Christians” have indulged in this horrifying spectacle on more than one occasion.

“The Muslims”

One thing the major media are clear on is who started the conflict in CAR. “The Muslims” are to blame, and any violence that has come in response is their own fault. Sure, we concede, some of the Muslim victims are not personally responsible, but collectively, the implication is the Muslims had it coming.

But who are “the Muslims” in this scenario?

The Seleka rebels are not a homogeneous group of local Muslims who have suddenly erupted into random violence “in the name of Islam.” We are led to believe “the Muslims,” presumably locals, led a blood-soaked campaign to oust the country’s Christian president, terrorizing, slaughtering, and looting Christian civilians in the process.

In fact, foreign mercenaries under the Seleka umbrella, largely from neighboring Chad and Sudan, have flooded the country, joining dissident factions of rebel groups that have banded together as Seleka. An estimated 1000-2000 armed mercenaries streamed into CAR. According to some reports, the ranks of the Seleka rebels swelled to as many as 25,000.  To put the relative strength of that force in perspective, consider the country’s entire army is comprised of only about 3,500 soldiers.

The Seleka do include some locals, not all of whom are Muslims. Some are non-religious rebels, thugs, and opportunists who have joined widespread looting and vandalism during the latest round of unrest. While there have been atrocities that appear to be religiously motivated, some of the rebels are clearly driven by non-religious motives, and have on occasion attacked Muslim communities as well. Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) troops that operated outside Bangui confirmed to Human Rights Watch that Seleka fighters in their zones were majority Chadian or Sudanese.

The Backdrop

Despite being almost the size of France, CAR is a sparsely populated country of only 4.5 million people. Porous borders and weak state authority leave the country vulnerable to infiltrators from neighboring countries, including Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Marauding foreign intruders often raid local villages, poach wildlife, and sometimes join local bandits known as “zaraguinas” for concerted crime sprees.

We are expected to believe criminal thugs and paid mercenaries are not motivated by self interest, but rather by religion. Paid mercenaries, we are to assume, are working “in the name of Islam” rather than following the orders of their paymasters in Chad, the Sudan, and elsewhere. In other words, we are being asked to set common sense aside and reflexively blame the local Muslims in particular and Islam in general for all of the unrest we see in the news.

Yet both Muslims and Christians in CAR have acknowledged historical co-existence between religious communities, and pointed to political factors as the driving force behind the conflict:

“The religious leaders warned against this risk. Political leaders have not paid attention to these warnings. They wanted to antagonize the Central African Republic along religious lines in order to remain in power.” ~ Catholic Bishop Nestor Desire Nongo-Aziagbia of Bossangoa, Central African Republic

In the country’s capital city of Bangui, local Muslims expressed similar sentiments regarding the relatively peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians prior to descent into civil war:

“It’s not a conflict between Muslims and Christians. We are one nation,” said Ahmet Adam, son of the local imam.

“Here, we [in Bangui] have a mixture of populations that do not exist in other areas,” said Bash, a 28-year-old Muslim resident. “This diversity has prevented us from sinking into violence. We grew up together, people have intermarried. Here, you can find a child with a Muslim name in a Christian home because the father is Muslim.”

Serving briefly as interim prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye also confirmed CAR’s history of peaceful co-existence:

“Religious communities that have always lived together in perfect harmony are now massacring each other. The situation must be stopped as soon as possible.” ~ CAR Interim Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye

If religious communities in CAR have always “lived together in perfect harmony,” what has changed? What is the catalyst for this apparent spontaneous eruption of “religiously-motivated” violence? In a rare departure from the dominant narrative of a Muslim-led holy war, the Christian Science monitor concluded:

“This is neither jihad nor crusade. Fighting in the CAR is over political power, with the capitol city Bangui as the prize.” ~ Chaos in Central African Republic is about power, Christian Science Monitor

If the fighting is really about political power, then why is it so often portrayed as a holy war? Who is jockeying for political power in the Central African Republic and why? Political power is merely vehicle to the real prize: Africa’s abundant natural resources. As we discussed in the first article in this series, competition is emerging at a time when the Western imperial powers are poised to to sink their teeth deeper into the fat of African riches.

The next article in this series explores the economic dimension of the conflict in CAR, in the context of a broader scramble for treasure. In other words, we will assert that what is supposedly being done “in the name of Islam” obscures what is really being done “in the name of greed.”

Lega Nord marches against migrants and mosques

19 October, 2014 - 23:07


via. IslamophobiaWatch

On Saturday some 40,000 supporters of the right-wing Lega Nord party took to the streets of Milan to protest against immigration, under the slogan “No to invasion”.

Lega Nord secretary Matteo Salvini, who headed the march, stopped the demonstration for several minutes outside the town hall to lead the protesters in chants against a plan to build a mosque in Milan.

The march was joined by a contingent of several hundred militants from the fascist organisation Casa Pound.

The Lega Nord demonstrators were confronted by an anti-racist counter-protest organised under the slogan “Those who love freedom hate racism. Stop Lega Nord”.

Milan protest against Lega Nord

Pig’s Head, Hate Slogans at Athens Muslim Center

17 October, 2014 - 23:28

pig head_athens_mosque

Associated Press

Greek police say unknown attackers have placed a severed pig’s head and painted anti-Muslim slogans outside an Islamic studies center in Athens.

Nobody has been arrested over the pre-dawn attack Friday, at a building that also functions as a Muslim prayer center.

The attackers sprayed an obscene slogan against Islam on the sidewalk outside the building, daubed a Christian cross on the door and threw paint at the walls.

The attack was discovered by worshippers going to Friday prayers.

Bigotry targeting Jews and Muslims has increased in Greece in recent years, which also saw the meteoric rise of a Nazi-inspired far-right party. Golden Dawn entered Parliament in 2012, but all its lawmakers now face trial for running a criminal organization that used violence to spread and impose its beliefs.

Religious hate crimes up almost 50% In London

17 October, 2014 - 23:14


via. IslamophobiaWatch

Religious hate crimes have shot up almost 50% in London in the wake of Lee Rigby’s murder.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that there were 918 religious hate crimes in 2013/14, compared to just 634 the previous year. Nationally, there were 2,273 reported cases of a religious hate crime, up 700 on the previous year.

Statisticians believe the rise is driven by higher levels of hate crime in the wake of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

Fusillier Rigby was murdered by Michael Adebalajo and Michael Adebowale outside Woolwich Barracks in May last year.

John Flatley, from the Office for National Statistics, said: “We’ve seen a small rise in both racial and religiously motivated hate crime in the wake of the Lee Rigby murder. It is a backlash effect where people are being victimised possibly because of their Muslim origin.”

Speaking to LBC, people at the Brick Lane Mosque believes media coverage of ISIL is to blame. They said: “I am not surprised, with so much time given to Muslim extremist groups that you may get a reaction or a backlash which may result in increased attacks on Muslims.”

LBC, 16 October 2014

The actions of ISIS would not in fact have had much impact on the figures, which are for the financial year ending in April 2014. The first of the horrific beheadings of westerners by ISIS, which has prompted intensive media coverage of the movement, was of James Foley in August this year.

How One Man Refused to Spy on Fellow Muslims for the FBI—and Then Lost Everything

16 October, 2014 - 20:59


An absolutely devastating, must read:

By Arun Kundnani, The Nation

On the night of December 9, 2011, Siham Stewart called her husband, Ayyub Abdul-Alim, as he closed down his corner store, Nature’s Garden, in Springfield, Massachusetts. She asked him to bring home a gallon of milk. A few minutes later, she watched from the window of their second-floor apartment as he was seized in the street and handcuffed by two police officers.

Forty-eight hours after Abdul-Alim’s arrest, FBI agent James Hisgen and Springfield police officer Ronald Sheehan offered him the chance to walk away free of charges if he agreed to become an informant on the Muslim community. He refused the deal and is now held at the Cedar Junction maximum-security prison in Massachusetts, facing up to sixteen years behind bars.

While awaiting trial, Abdul-Alim discovered that his wife received cash payments from the FBI totaling at least $11,949. The receipts were signed by Sheehan and Hisgen. Stewart testified against Abdul-Alim in court and admitted to working as an informant. This past April, Abdul-Alim was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm that he alleges the officers planted on him as part of their attempt to pressure him to work for the FBI.

Abdul-Alim, 36, grew up in New York City in a family of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage. Prior to his arrest, he founded and ran the Quran and Sunnah Community Center in Springfield, which offered free meals and prayer services, and Connections Transportation, which transported people to visit their loved ones in prison. He was also a small business owner, an apartment complex manager, a husband, and a father figure to Stewart’s son.

His life began to change in 2010 after he returned from a three-week religious trip to Mecca. Abdul-Alim reports that he began to receive calls from James Hisgen, an agent at the FBI’s Springfield field office, who asked him questions such as, “Do you love America?” and told him to call back if he was interested in working as an informant.

In early 2011, Hisgen showed up at Abdul-Alim’s mosque, Masjid Al Tawheed, with two other agents. According to the Imam, Dr. Ishmael Ali, Hisgen claimed he was from the Springfield Building Department and demanded to search the mosque. Dr. Ali turned him away because he did not have a warrant. Dr. Ali recalled that in the two years leading up to his arrest, Abdul-Alim continually sought advice on how to get the FBI agents to leave him alone.

Since 9/11, a key element in the FBI’s counter-terrorism tactics has been the aggressive recruitment and deployment of large numbers of informants among Muslim communities in the United States. Part of the purpose is to gather information on political or community activism, which the FBI frames as a precursor to extremist violence. But the tactics also fit a familiar pattern—one that harkens back to the FBI’s history of targeting the civil rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s, when it was likewise asserted that extremist ideologues were fueling violence.

At that time, FBI agents were each expected to hire at least one informant to report on the goings-on of black people. African-Americans were watched by FBI informants everywhere they congregated: churches, bookstores, bars, restaurants, college classrooms and other gathering spots. In addition to providing information on activist leaders, the informants served as “listening posts” for blanket information on black communities.

The FBI believed that the civil rights movement was a front for Communist subversion and that the urban rebellions of black youth were instigated by Communist agitators. Systematic spying, it was thought, would help prevent riots but ultimately the purpose was to disable the growing radicalism of black America. Black Muslims—branded the “extremists” of the day—were seen as especially politicized, and prominent community figures such as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X were placed on NSA and FBI watch lists. Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad had been on the FBI’s radar since World War II; in 1942, agents had arrested him on charges of draft evasion.

The best-known FBI initiative directed at the black liberation movement was COINTELPRO—short for Counterintelligence Program. It was launched in 1956 to infiltrate the Communist Party but shortly afterwards was expanded to include the ongoing surveillance of black activists. Disinformation campaigns, arrests on trumped-up charges, faked evidence, and assassinations were used to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” black movements, according to the FBI’s own documents. But COINTELPRO was just one initiative within the FBI’s wider surveillance and criminalization of black organizations.

Abdul-Alim’s parents were themselves caught up in these longer histories of FBI surveillance. His father was active with the Black Panther Party in New York and his mother was a member of the Young Lords, the radical Puerto Rican youth group that was, like the Panthers, targeted by the FBI. Both parents were involved in the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood, a Harlem-based Muslim congregation founded by an associate of Malcolm X and whose attendees have faced decades of surveillance.

Read the rest…

Sam Harris Gives Money To Quilliam Foundation, Doing A Book With Maajid Nawaz

15 October, 2014 - 23:11


By Garibaldi

After the CNN interview with Reza Aslan, in which Aslan criticized Bill Maher and Sam Harris, and the subsequent confrontation between Ben Affleck and the aforementioned atheist gurus, hundreds of: op-eds, blogs, vlogs, news segments and social media platforms/forums have debated the merits and demerits of both sides of the argument. New Atheists have largely been on the defensive, not taking kindly to criticism of their flawed logic and bold bigotry though they have received a lot of support from the far-right, including Fox News.

In an October 12th news segment, Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” program had Irshad Manji and Sam Harris on to debate questions such as are liberals afraid to face the truth about Islam?”

A debate that involves Manji against Harris automatically means that there is going to be a lot of wasted time jostling over the falacious dichotomy of the “Good Muslim vs. Bad Muslim”/”Moderate vs. Radical” that will do nothing to illuminate the real issues at stake in the debate. When Reza Aslan says “these types of debates aren’t being done in any legitimate way” he isn’t wrong.

One illuminating revelation in the course of the Manji-Harris debate was when Harris, in an attempt to bolster his “counter-extremism” bonafides and defend against the point that he gives succor to extremists by validating their ideologies as the “True Islam,” as opposed to helping “moderates,” states at the 5min 40s mark that he gives money to Quilliam Foundation,

“This is why I am doing a book with Maajid Nawaz, this is why I am giving money to his organization”

Doing a book with Maajid Nawaz? Now that should be interesting! Maybe Nawaz and Harris will discuss the best way to use drone attacks or nuclear strikes on those who hold “dangerous beliefs.” Perhaps Nawaz will tell Harris how much he appreciates the horrific apartheid wall that Israel has built. Who knows! So many possibilities! I predict Nawaz will end up agreeing with Harris on everything, the way he has with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In any case it’s revealing, though not surprising, that Nawaz receives money from an Islamophobe like Harris. Nawaz, after all is Bill Maher’s favorite Muzzie, to such an extent that when he had him on his show he even wanted to stick a medal on brave Nawaz. Maher and Harris are close friends and so there seems to be a weird incestuous element to this relationship between militant celebrity atheists and the accepted so-called “moderates” or “counter-extremism specialists” such as Nawaz; they all seem to hobnob in the same circles.

It’s also ironic considering Harris’ main thesis for years has been that “moderates” are a greater problem than extremists. While defending himself against the charge that he paints all Muslims with the same brush, exaggerates extremism and links causation for violence among Muslims all to Islam he has boxed himself into a corner: he is funding and co-operating with an organization, headed by an individual who claims to be a “moderate” and claims to resist extremism. So what gives?

Indeed there is no practical contradiction for Harris in funding Quilliam, since they agree to a large degree. In fact Quilliam is not an organization that actually counters extremism, it has no problem in working with warmongering Neo-Cons and Islamophobes as Jai Singh has copiously noted in his exhaustive expose report.

ACT! For America Attempts Makeover But Can’t Shed Bigoted Ways

14 October, 2014 - 22:27


ACT! For America, otherwise known as Hate! For America.(h/t:Karen)


ACT!’s surface-level makeover

First of all, ACT!’s welcoming and “about us” pages takes a lighter tone than its previous site. ACT! says its goal for its chapters is to train “citizens to recognize and help prevent criminal activity and terrorism” in the U.S. “while preserving civil liberties protected by the United States Constitution.”

It adds ACT!’s members are interested “in keeping our homes, streets, towns, States and Nation safe and secure from harm.”

This a change of pace compared to ACT!’s previous welcoming page, one that steers away from tin-foil-hat territory. The previous version warned Muslim sleeper cells are seeking to influence various cultural institutions by way of “stealth jihad” in order to implement Shariah law.

But traces of this were not entirely excluded from the new site, but rather were rebranded under the page,  “Confronting Terrorism.” Here, ACT! provides materials purporting conspiracy theories that “jihadists” are seeking to establish an “Islamic government in North America.” The page also features a link to the “Thin Blue Line Project,” a biased online “anti-terrorism” training tool for law enforcement officials ACT! developed in collaboration with disgraced former FBI agent John Guandolo.

Another page on the new website is dedicated to showcase that ACT! is committed to “Preserving the Constitution.” A closer look at the page shows this is just a clever way of showcasing the anti-Muslim legislation ACT! seeks to pass, and in turn actually makes a mockery of the U.S. court system and legislative process. One of the featured bills is an “American Laws for American Courts” (ALAC) measure, a pointless law aimed at preventing state courts from recognizing Shariah law. The mastermind behind the bill, David Yerushalmi, even admitted that these bills are “heuristic” and serve to provoke ordinary people into regarding Muslims with suspicion.

The website’s new definition of ALAC laws also purposely omits any mention of Shariah, and instead carries a more neutral phrasing, “foreign law.” This more generic wording has been forced upon ACT! following a case in Oklahoma where a federal judge ruled specifically citing “Shariah” alone was unconstitutional.

ACT! incorporates ‘illegal immigration’ into platform

It came as no surprise that ACT! dedicated an entire page on its new website to immigration, calling it “Secure the Border.”  The nativist crossover between the organized anti-Muslim movement and the organized anti-immigrant movement has been well-documented here at Imagine 2050 and elsewhere. While ACT! has previously alluded to incorporating a ban on Muslim immigration into its framework, the new site revealed the group has made it an official plank in its agenda.

On the website, the group claims one of the “gravest threats” to the U.S. “stems from the illicit flow of illegal immigrants, terrorists, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” among other things.

Read the entire article…

Muslim families look after Kolkata synagogues

14 October, 2014 - 22:03


Kolkata, India - Generations of Muslim families have been taking care of the maintenance of three synagogues in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.

The city’s Jewish population has dwindled over the decades to just about 20 as compared to 3,000 at its peak before the country became independent from British rule in 1947.

Khalil Khan, 71, has been working as caretaker of Beth El synagogue, one of the city’s three synagogues, for the past 55 years. His two sons – Anwar and Siraj – have chosen the same job.

“It takes a week to clean the entire structure, its furniture and artifacts. By Friday afternoon, the work has to be complete,” said Rabbul Khan, whose father and two uncles have also previously worked at the Maghen David synagogue.

“This is necessary for the namaaz [prayers] that they perform on Saturdays,” he told Al Jazeera.

However, there are no regular services conducted on Saturdays nowadays: only one person from the Jewish community visits each of the synagogues on Friday evenings – to light a candle.

Naseer Sheikh landed the job 56 years ago after his uncle left for his native village in neighbouring Odisha state, where all the caretakers come from. He is 80 years old and is still working, and is joined by his son Osim.

While Siraj, his father Khalil and Osim are entrusted with the work of cleaning and maintaining the synagogue, Naseer’s job is to collect the rent from about 100 shops in the vicinity, since the property still belongs to the Jewish community.

Kolkata’s Jewish heritage

Several large and landmark buildings, including the city’s synagogues, tell the story of Kolkata’s Jewish heritage. According to Jael Silliman, a Jewish resident of Kolkata who has put together a digital archive of the Jewish community in the city, the Maghen David synagogue is one of the largest in Asia.

Beth El, Neveh Shalome and Maghen David synagogues are each taken care of by four men whose forefathers have also had the job.

They have been provided quarters in the synagogue compound, and are expected to stay alert at all hours. Although the men have no illusions of themselves other than being the employees of the Jewish community, they feel that the reverence between them and the members of the Jewish community is mutual.

Read the rest…

Israeli Settlers Torch Palestinian Mosque in the Village of Aqraba

14 October, 2014 - 21:56


When it’s not the IDF destroying mosques in Gaza (203 were damaged, 73 completely destroyed in the recent “Protective Edge” operation), count on the Settlers to pick up where they left off and continue the destruction.

via. Haaretz

Vandals torched a mosque in the West Bank village of Aqraba early Tuesday morning, causing light damage to the structure.

Eyewitnesses said that Israeli settlers arrived at the Abu Bakr mosque compound after midnight, spray-painted graffiti using the words “price tag” and “Kahane” (referring to the late, ultra-right-wing Meir Kahane), then poured gasoline on the first floor of the mosque and set it on fire. That part of the mosque serves as the women’s prayer area.

In addition to the destruction from the fire, the mosque’s windows were shattered and its door was also damaged.

Ghassan Douglas, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said some of the village residents had chased after the settlers, but they fled. Many residents arrived at the mosque to help extinguish the flames before they could spread to the rest of the structure.

As of Tuesday morning, Israeli police and army officials had yet to arrive at the mosque to gather evidence.

Douglas said Tuesday’s incident is part of a long line of settler attacks, driven by racism and hatred, against Palestinian property and houses of worship. He added that such attacks could spark violence and prevent a future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Aqraba is situated in the Nablus district of the Palestinian Authority, not far from the Israeli settlement of Tapuah. There have been a number of confrontations between Palestinians and Tapuah settlers in the last two weeks.

Two settlers were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of attacking Palestinians.

Palestinian olive trees in the area have also been uprooted and graffiti scrawled nearby that referred to a West Bank settler who was indicted for torching a Palestinian-owned car.

Man Stormed Mosque, Threw Cement Bags and Threatened to Hit A Woman With A Chair

13 October, 2014 - 23:54


Australian Associated Press

A man has been charged after allegedly shouting offensive comments and throwing cement bags at a mosque in Sydney’s southwest.

Police say a 39-year-old man entered the mosque in Auburn at 1.30pm on Saturday and started to cause a disturbance.

A statement from NSW Police said: ‘the man began shouting offensive comments and throwing around cement bags that were inside the building.’

He then picked up a chair and threatened to hit a woman with it after she had approached him.

The man was arrested in a nearby laneway and taken to Auburn Police Station, where he was charged with common assault, intimidation and behave in an offensive manner in a public place.

He was granted strict conditional bail to appear before Burwood Local Court on October 28.

Read the entire article

San Diego Mosque Sent Threatening Letter With Unknown Substance

12 October, 2014 - 04:35


KUSI: San Diego’s News Channel

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A mosque in San Diego has received a threatening letter with an unknown substance in it. There are at least ten mosques in San Diego, and the one that received the threatening letter has not been identified.

The local chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations says the letter referred to ‘applying the death sentence’ and mentioned Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, too.

As a result of this threat, all California mosques have been notified and asked to report any similar threats, and the FBI has been asked by the council to get involved in the investigation.

Hummus News: Muslims Finally Condemn Ebola, Expert Not Fooled

10 October, 2014 - 21:24


By Yahya Ridwan, The Hummus News

Sparked by a reddit debate that ignited yesterday, the official spokesperson of Islam and its 1.5 billion adherents throughout the world delivered remarks from an open letter condemning Ebola.

“Dear Non-Muslims,

The current Ebola outbreak is a tragedy. We mourn with the non-Muslims of the world. Although we share some of the same DNA base pairs as Ebola, it does not represent our belief system as multi-base-pair DNA organisms.

We condemn the infection of host cells and the release of misinterpreted genetic instruction. It is a strict misrepresentation of who we are as people and the way that we are genetically programmed.

Mahmoud Bin Lamba

Official Spokesman of Islam”

This comes as a response to a sophisticated new interactive poll suggesting that a majority of Muslims are in favor of infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus.


Sam Harris, organism terrorism expert, explained on “Real Time with Bill Maher”:

“Imagine three concentric circles: the inner most circle contains your Ebola virus and Human Immunodeficiency virus. The circle around that is your Muslimicists, Muslims who want to infect and use democracy against itself. These two circles alone constitute about 30% of Muslims. The outer most circle represents the fringe non-infecting Muslims. We have to be able to criticize bad genetic material, and Islam is the mother lode of bad genetic material.“

Harris seemed unconvinced by appeals to Ebola to cease its un-Islamic behavior from Muslim scholars across the word in their Open Letter to Ebola.

Harris says the majority of Muslims do not understand their Islamic imperatives, such as the pilgrimage to Mecca and spreading Ebola in Liberia.

Read the entire article…

Staten Island: Teens Arrested For Throwing Pork At Muslim Woman’s Home

10 October, 2014 - 05:11


via. silive

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Three teens threw uncooked pork ribs at the Eltingville home of a Muslim woman Saturday night, sparking a hate crime investigation by the NYPD, the Advance has learned.

The incident happened at about 11:35 p.m., Saturday, according to an NYPD spokesman. The victim, a practicing Muslim who lives on Mosley Avenue near the Eltingville train platform, got a knock on the door, and when she went outside to answer, she found raw pork on her doorstep, the spokesman said.

A law enforcement source provided additional details on the incident — three white teens, ages 16 through 19, threw uncooked pork ribs at the house, then fled in a four-door sedan.

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, the NYPD spokesman said.

No one answered the door at the woman’s house Tuesday afternoon.

Muslims are prohibited from eating pork products, and bigots often use pork as a means to taunt or offend, according to Islamic-American leaders.

In August 2012, someone scattered pieces of bacon over the New Dorp Beach field where the borough’s Muslim community celebrated the end of Ramadan, sparking a hate crime investigation.

“It’s a prevalent misunderstanding. It’s not poison. We just don’t consume it. But it’s intended as an insult,” said Hesham El-Meligy, the founder of the Islamic Civic Association-Staten Island.

The incident took place on the eve of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice — which commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son.

Even so, El-Meligy said, he doubts Saturday’s incident was sparked by the holiday. Rather, he suggested, the incident took place “on the heels” what he referred to as last week’s “tempest in the teapot” controversy surrounding the removal of a Hajj banner at the Muslim American Society of Staten Island in Dongan Hills.

“Definitely there is an impact of such ignorance, and not even an attempt to understand,” El-Meligy said.

The Dongan Hills mosque had put up a banner depicting an airliner, in celebration of Hajj, which is the annual Muslim pilgrimage now taking place to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Scott LoBaido, a local artist and community activist, visited the mosque after, he said, he learned about the banner on social media from community members worried that it was linked to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Last Tuesday, he posted the following message to his more than 4,600 friends on Facebook, several of whom work for a variety of news organizations: “I regards to the airplane on the front of the si mosque, everyone hold on for a bit. I am going there tonite to ask them about it and aske them to take it down. I will post outcome.”

That visit, and the request to remove the banner, sparked a media storm, with Muslim-American activists criticizing LoBaido for perpetuating anti-Islamic prejudice by pressuring the center into removing a harmless sign. LoBaido maintains that he visited the mosque to “try to defuse a possibly ugly event,” and said he didn’t contact the media.

Australia: Muslim’s Car and Pizza Shop Targeted in Hate Attack By Arsonists

7 October, 2014 - 21:16


The Daily Telegraph

The owner of a pizza shop in Sydney’s southwest has had his car and restaurant set alight, while anti-Muslim graffiti was sprayed across the eatery’s walls.

Police are investigating a possible link between the incidents at the owner’s home and Mimi’s Pizza in Hammondville. Only a malfunctioning wick stopped the shop from being destroyed.

Neighbours report that the graffiti included slogans such as “F***en Muslims” and “You dogs go home”.

Police say arsonists set fire to the car, parked outside the pizza shop owner’s home, at about 2.30am this morning and they believe the same people may have attempted to set fire to the shop sometime before 6am.

“It would appear a wick was used but halfway through it went out and the shop did not catch on fire,” Inspector Bob Tunks said. Insp Tunks said the bottom of the door was singed but no further damage was sustained.

Two back walls of the premises displayed obscene graffiti targeting Muslims.

The incident is the latest in a series of attacks targeting Muslims, including five threatening letters sent to Muslim businesses in Lakemba earlier this week.

Keitha Kennedy, owner of the The Catch Up Cafe near Mimi’s Pizza, said this is the first incident of its kind she had known in the area. “I was stunned,” she said. “I’ve lived for 34 years in Hammondville and I’ve never known anything like this.”

Ms Kennedy added that she had seen slogans such as “You dogs go home” painted on the walls and said the restaurant owner was in shock this morning.

“He was very emotional and upset and he said that his car had been burnt out outside his house last night. Then he went to check his shop this morning, when the sun had come out, and he saw the hoses through the door and the accelerant — it was like a big wick,” Ms Kennedy said.

She described him as “a lovely man”, adding that he previously owned a shop in Lakemba, but moved to Hammondville because “because it was getting too rough.”

“He brought his kids down here and put them in the school and now this has happened,” she said. “He just said he really wants to pack up and move again. He can’t stand it.”