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Burma: Buddhists/Police Rape, Attempt to Force Convert Rohingya Muslim teen

27 February, 2014 - 17:02

Rohingya-Muslim-Girl-Raped-By-Police_

The girl’s rape case is not the first for Burmese as a report last year claimed that many Rohingya women have been raped by the Burmese military.

Rohingya Muslim Girl Gang-Raped By Police

RAKHINE – Shocking reports have surfaced about a 16-year-old Rohingya Muslim girl who was gang-raped after being arrested by police after a deadly crackdown on a remote village in Rakhine state which left dozens dead.

“I remember it clearly. Just before dawn the first Rakhine man came in. He raped me,” the 16-year-old Rohingya Muslim girl told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday, February 5.

“Then the others came in, one by one. It was four Rakhine men, and three police officers.”

The girl’s misery started when she fled her home at Rakhine’s Du Chee Yar Tan village after it was set ablaze by Buddhist mobs.

Running for her life, she was arrested by police forces to start a new episode of humiliation and attacks.

After her illegal arrest the girl was not sent to the police station, they took her to a grocery shop.

“The police took me to a market place between Du Chee Yar Tan and the Rakhine Khayae Myuing village,” she said.

“They kept me in a grocery shop. Everything was locked,” she added.

In the grocery shop the girl was tortured by the police officers who failed to force her to convert to Buddhism.

“I said no, I refused to convert,” the girl said.

“They then beat me. I was slapped. Beaten with sticks,” she explained.

The girl’s rape followed the attack which was reported last month by UN humanitarian chiefs and human rights organizations .

The attack resulted in the massacre of at least 48 Rohingya Muslims, mostly women and children, in Burma’s western Rakhine State.

Official media and the Ministry of Information have strongly refuted the reports.

Yet, a Thailand-based NGO, the Arakan Project, said it had received multiple reports that dozens of Rohingya Muslims were killed by security forces and Arakanese Buddhists.

The incident, just the latest in a string of attacks that left at least 240 people dead and more than 140,000 homeless or displaced in prison-like camps, caused terror in the Muslim Yangon community.

Fear

After the incident, the 16-year-old girl couldn’t visit doctor as her family feared consequences.

The helpless family had given the girl a medicine to prevent pregnancy, which they got from a local makeshift pharmacy.

Seeking justice the complaining girl said: “I still remember their faces. I can point them out if I see them again.”

The girl’s rape case is not the first for Burmese as a report last year claimed that many Rohingya women have been raped by the Burmese military.

Described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.

They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.

The Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.

Rights groups have accused the Burmese security forces of killing, raping and arresting Rohingyas following the sectarian violence last year.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in western Burma since June after attacks from Buddhist mobs on their areas.

The violence has displaced nearly 29,000 people, more than 97 percent of whom are Rohingya Muslims, according to the United Nations.

Many now live in camps, adding to 75,000 mostly Rohingya displaced in June 2012, after a previous explosion of sectarian violence.

The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West

27 February, 2014 - 03:52

Abd-al-Rahman_III

By Garibaldi

One often hears Islamophobes in the “counterjihad” movement claiming to be defenders of the “Judeo-Christian” West against the spread of Islam and the enfranchisement of Muslims in Western democracies. The term Judeo-Christian gained currency in the middle of the 20th century,

“promoted by groups which evolved into the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight antisemitism by expressing a more inclusive idea of American values rather than just Christian or Protestant.”

Ironically, in the past several decades and especially since 9/11, Judeo-Christian has most often been used by the rightwing to exclude differing religions and cultures from staking their own claim to Americanness, specifically, to amplify the so-called “Islamic threat.”

The rightwing considers America’s “uniqueness” to be rooted in its Judeo-Christian values. Take radio host Dennis Prager, who writes,

[o]nly America has called itself Judeo-Christian. America is also unique in that it has always combined secular government with a society based on religious values. Along with the belief in liberty—as opposed to, for example, the European belief in equality, the Muslim belief in theocracy, and the Eastern belief in social conformity—Judeo-Christian values are what distinguish America from all other countries.

The claims about “European,” “Muslim,” and “Eastern” societies are simplistic generalizations but there is some truth to Prager’s claim that “only America has called itself Judeo-Christian,” in so far as the USA is where Judeo-Christianism was born. If one can speak in such broad terms at all of an alliance/unity between Jews and Christians it is relatively recent; only 70 years out of the past 2,000 years.

A different kind of alliance

A recent article published on Loonwatch about the Spanish government’s commitment to give descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled over 500 years ago from Andalus automatic citizenship brought to mind the longer and deeper history of Jewish and Muslim collaboration.

The history of Jewish-Muslim alliance has led some scholars to the interesting thesis that the roots of medieval European Christian anti-Semitism was rooted not in charges of deicide (Jews killed Jesus) against Jews but in their alliance and collaboration with Muslims.

In Allan Harris Cutler and Helen Elmquist Cutler’s book, “The Jews as Ally of the Muslim,” the authors,

[R]evise the traditional explanations of the roots of anti-Semitism. They contend that the great outburst of anti-Semitism in Western Europe during the Middle Ages … derived from primarily anti-Muslimism and the association of Jew with Muslim.

Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, in one of his less bellicose and polemical articles wrote a review of the book in 1987 that is worth reading, concluding that “it offers an intriguing and ultimately convincing argument.” Though he takes exception to the authors’ advice to Pope John Paul II to “transform his office and mission from a more narrowly Christian into a broadly Abrahamic one . . . to create a new spiritual and institutional unity between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

Among certain nationalists and White Power currents in the “counterjihad” there is a continuation of the idea that Jews are allying with Muslims to help them take over the West, just as Jews aided Muslims in conquering Hispania from Visigoth tyranny.

In the view of these counterjihadists Jewish intellectuals have opened the gates of fortified Europe and America through modern day liberalism. Hence, their usage of “Leftist” in the familiar Islamophobic expression, “Leftist-Muslim alliance to destroy the West,” is a P.C. way to refer to Jews. “Leftist” masks an undercurrent of antiSemitism, since in their view Jew=Leftist.

The website Islam Versus Europe: Where Islam Spreads, Freedom Dies, did a three part series titled, “Jewish collaboration with Muslims during the invasion of Spain” by Cheradnine Zakalwe. The website has a global Alexa ranking of 703,552 and a US ranking of 262,275.

islamversuseuropeblogspot

IslamVersusEurope is considered by other “counterjihadists” to be a “respected CounterJihad blog” and is linked and blogrolled on numerous Islamophobic sites. The site has also been approvingly linked by Deacon Robert Spencer even after Zakalwe’s series of articles. (Not surprising considering Spencer’s alliance with antiSemites such as Eric Allen Bell and the anti-Jewish stances of his ally Pamela Geller).

IslamVersusEurope_JihadWatch

The main point of Zakalwe’s three part series is summed up in his first post,

So the Jews in Spain were enslaving European Christians. This provoked the irritation of other European Christians, who then took measures against the Jews. This caused the Jews to reach out to their fellow Jews abroad and to the Arabs, urging them to invade Spain and bring this Christian oppression to an end. When they did so, the Jews eagerly collaborated with the Muslims, acting as administrators for the conquered cities and realm.

The parallels with our own time are striking, with Jewish intellectuals having paved the way for the modern Muslim conquest by pushing the benefits of immigration, diversity, tolerance, special minority protection, etc., denigrating nationalism and wielding the Nazi stick forcefully against anyone bold enough to dissent. (Emphasis mine)

These views are not limited to Zakalwe but can also be found on unabashedly racist and Islamophobic sites like Occidental Dissent and Occidental Observer.

The truth is that yes, there was a long history of collaboration and affinity between Muslims and Jews which fueled animosity on the part of European Christendom. Pipes in his review of the Cutlers’ study even notes,

[T]he Hebrew language shares much with Arabic, and Judaism shares much with Islam; on the most abstract level, both are religions of law, while Christianity is a religion of faith. More specifically, they share many features such as circumcision, dietary regulations, and similar sexual codes. Further, because the Muslims were preeminent in the medieval centuries, “Jews themselves associated Jew with Muslim.” When this became known among the Christians, it much harmed the Jews’ position. Most damaging of all, Jews on occasion helped Muslim troops against Christians (as in the initial Arab conquest of Spain) and some Jews held prominent positions in Muslim governments at war with the Christians. Even when they did not actually take part in the fighting, “Jews usually rejoiced when Christian territory fell into Islamic hands.”

Mattai and Pope Alexander

Mattai and Pope Alexander

While there were great similarities and affinities, it must be pointed out that it is only logical that Jews would ally with those who would treat them better and with whom relations would be more advantageous. If medieval European Christians were offering less discrimination and interference in religious, family and financial life than Muslims then certainly Jews would have collaborated with Christians more than Muslims. In other words one cannot discount the importance of community interests, foremost survival as the motivation for such alliances.

This was driven home to me while watching the third season of Showtime’s historical drama, The Borigas. In one of the episodes, the leader of the Jewish community, Mattai meets with Pope Alexander,

Mattai meets with Alexander and tells him the whole Turkish navy could be burned to the waves with oil. He proposes stuffing some ships with oil for Ramadan and sending them over there just in time to berth for the holy month. Once they’re there, Mattai’s connections will set them alight. That’s if Alexander issues a papal bull that eases up on the taxes on the Jews in Rome. Alexander moans that he asks for a great deal, but Mattai refuses to back down, and even gives Alexander a bit of lip…He says he needs money to buy all this oil, and Alexander says that he’ll issue the bull if Mattai can ensure the success of this scheme.

Alexander meets with Mattai, Cardinal Sforza, and a few others. Mattai tells him the ships loaded with oil are already docked and the conflagration may have already happened.

In Constantinople, oil leaking out over the water is set alight, swiftly engulfing the anchored ships.

Back in Rome, Alexander sits and signs the papal bull, while in Constantinople, the ships explode and sailors flee for their lives. In a fantastic long shot, we see the entire fleet from a distance, burning away.

While the actual historicity of these events are dubious and likely never occurred, it highlights the reasons and motivations that guide communities. Jews who aided Muslims in Spain did so not primarily because both Muslims and Jews circumcise males or eschew pork but rather because they trusted that they would have a better and freer life.

The “counterjihadists” know that “perfidious” Jews aren’t opening up the gates to Muslim hordes. It is no longer the 14th century, there isn’t a “Christendom,” let alone a “Caliphate.” Many Christians are united alongside Muslims and Jews and others to make society and the world better, that is what the interfaith movement is all about.

Opening our doors to the stranger, seeing the image of G-d in our fellow human being and their inherent dignity should not be the opposite of our values but the very core of what we struggle to achieve and become.

This however is appeasement to the paranoid and conspiratorial “counterjihadists,” who in the place of our multi-faith and multi-cultural reality want to take us back to an unrealistic mono-faith, mono-cultural world.

70 Muslims killed in Central African Republic town

26 February, 2014 - 18:36

CAR1-300x200

Two weeks ago the killing of one Christian made headline news on the front page of US newspapers but there was scant mention of this horror.:

70 Muslims killed in Central African Republic town

CARNOT, Central African Republic (AP) — Christian militiamen killed at least 70 people in the remote southwest of Central African Republic, at one point ordering a group of Muslims to lie on the ground and shooting them one by one, witnesses said Monday.

The militiamen, known as the anti-Balaka, slaughtered the Muslims in the village of Guen earlier this month, a Catholic priest, the Rev. Rigobert Dolongo, who helped bury the bodies, told The Associated Press. At least 27 people were slain in the first day of the attack, while 43 others were killed on the second day, he said.

Ibrahim Aboubakar, 22, said the anti-Balaka stormed Guen and killed his two older brothers after they were heard speaking in Arabic.

“Later that day they rounded up dozens of people and forced them all to lie down on their stomachs. Then they shot them one by one,” he said from the refuge of a Catholic church in Carnot, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away, where he is among 800 seeking shelter from attack.

At least two other families who survived the attack are here now, including Gisma Ahmed, who is now a widow at 18 with two young children. Sitting in the shade breastfeeding a 4-month-old while her 3-year-old daughter played nearby, she could only weep when asked about the killings. Relatives said that her husband was shot while trying to flee.

Hundreds of Muslims remain in Guen, hiding in the town’s Catholic church and also at the imam’s home.

Those Muslims still in Guen appealed by telephone for African peacekeepers in Carnot to rescue them, according to two Muslim residents who insisted on anonymity because they feared for their lives. They also confirmed that heavily armed anti-Balaka were still in control of the village Tuesday. The local commander for the peacekeeping mission said he needed permission from his supervisors in the capital, Bangui, to go to Guen.

Like much of the violence in Central African Republic, the true toll from the attack on Guen may never be known. Most survivors fled deep into the rural bush, hiking to safety in towns further west.

News of the massacre came nearly three months after Central African Republic’s political crisis erupted into violence between the country’s Christian and Muslim communities, leaving more than 1,000 dead in Bangui alone in a matter of days. Many hoped the crisis would stabilize after the Muslim rebel president agreed to step down and go into exile, clearing the way for elections by early next year.

However, both Muslim rebels and the Christian fighters are implicated in a growing number of attacks fanning out far from the capital all the way to the country’s southwest near the border with Cameroon. Human rights groups have documented hundreds of deaths since early January, when the Muslim rebel government crumbled and Christian fighters sought to avenge the regime’s abuses. Tens of thousands have fled for their lives to neighboring countries, leaving some towns in Central African Republic without any Muslim residents. Before the outbreak of violence Muslim’s made up about 15 percent of the country’s 4.6 million people.

Turkey returns historic monastery to Syriac community

26 February, 2014 - 18:16

Mor_Gabriel_Monastery

Turkey returns historic monastery to Syriac community

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey has returned the historic Mor Gabriel Monastery in the south-eastern city of Mardin back to the Syriac community after the General Management of Foundations granted its consent on Tuesday.

The return of the monastery to the minority community was first brought up following the declaration of Turkey’s democratization packet in October 2013.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Turk, the monastery’s foundation chairman Kuryakos Ergun thanked Turkey for returning the monastry to the Syriac people after a long struggle.

Knesset passes bill distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arabs

25 February, 2014 - 21:10

Yariv_Levin

So the “divide and conquer” bill proposed by the bigot and Islamophobe, MK Yariv Levin, has passed in the Knesset 31-6.

Knesset passes bill distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arabs By Jonathan Lis (Haaretz) The Knesset on Monday approved a controversial law, whose ultimate aim, according to its sponsor, is to distinguish between Muslim and Christian Arab citizens and to heighten involvement of Christians in Israeli society.Critics slammed the law, sponsored by MK Yariv Levin (Likud), for constituting an attempt to “divide and conquer” the country’s Arab population – an allegation Levin seemed to confirm in a recent newspaper interview.

The law demands what initially seems to be a minor change in the makeup of the public advisory council which is appointed under the 1988 Equal Employment Opportunities Law. It would expand that panel from five representatives of groups that promote workers’ rights, to 10 members, which will now include Christian, Muslim, Druze and Circassian representatives.

The law passed by 31 to six votes, even though Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner Tziona Koenig-Yair clarified in a committee discussion of the legislation two weeks ago that she opposed it and that she viewed it as superfluous – “in the same way that I wouldn’t be interested in separate representation for Lithuanian Haredim and [Sephardi] Haredim,” she said. “Furthermore, there are no groups promoting employment for different sectors in the Arab population per se, only for the Arab population as a whole.”

Haim Katz, chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, introduced the law in the plenum on Monday, saying, “The aim is to look after populations that have a hard time in the labor market and to give them a representation on the advisory committee.”

But opposition MKs weren’t convinced by this. “Perhaps we should also divide the Jewish population into Poles, Yemenites and Moroccans?” asked Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On. Meretz MK Issawi Freij added, “We are essentially in a situation where an effort is being made to try to define the state according to religions. Here they are trying to say that there’s a difference between Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs.”

The law passed after several weeks of heated debate in the labor committee. In the last discussion two weeks ago, Balad party chairman MK Jamal Zahalka criticized Levin. “Arab rights don’t interest Yariv Levin,” he said. “There’s no specific Christian or Druze employment problem, only a problem of the general Arab population. Levin is interested in cruelly dividing the Arab public, which is oppressed as it is. We will not be his lackeys.”

In an interview Levin gave to the Maariv newspaper a few weeks ago, he in fact declared his intention to formulate legislation that would create a distinction between the Christian Arab population (which he insisted on calling merely “Christian”) and the Muslim population.

In the interview, Levin said, “My legislation will provide separate representation and separate attention to the Christian public, separate from the Muslim Arabs … This is a historic and important move that could help balance the State of Israel, and connect us and the Christians, and I’m being careful about not calling them Arabs because they aren’t Arabs.”

According to Levin, “Christians can be directors of government companies, they will get separate representation in the local authorities, they will get equal employment opportunities. The first law I will pass will give Christians representation on the advisory council of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

He added: “We and the Christians have a lot in common. They’re our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within. On the other hand, there’s a message here: We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who are liable to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state.”

Virginia Police Academy Nixes ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training’ Taught By Anti-Muslim Activist

25 February, 2014 - 19:04

Guandolo-training

After persistent community pressure the Virginia Police Academy dropped Islamophobe John Guandolo, an affiliate of ACT! For America, from conducting his so-called ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training.’

Virginia Police Academy Nixes ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training’ Taught By Anti-Muslim Activist

BY IAN MILLHISER

The Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy announced on Monday that it would no longer sponsor a course for law enforcement officers which was ostensibly focused on counterterrorism, but which would have been taught by an anti-Muslim activist with a history of spreading conspiracy theories. A brief press release from the academy announces that “[a]fter careful consideration and consultation with other law enforcement agencies and academies, having firsthand knowledge of this training, the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy will no longer be offering Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services in-service training credit for the upcoming seminar ‘Understanding and Investigating Jihadi Networks in America.’”

The training was to be hosted by the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office. Late last week, Sheriff Scott Jenkins said that he does not plan to cancel the training session, despite outcry from civil rights groups that the event features an anti-Islamic speaker. According to a letter from 15 civil rights organizations and religious interest groups, John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and the featured speaker at the training event, “is closely affiliated with ACT! for America, a known anti-Muslim hate group, and he makes baseless, irresponsible and dangerous statements revealing his animus about the American Muslim community” — including claiming that “American Muslims ‘do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.‘”

Though the training may still go on without accreditation, Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations told ThinkProgress that he is satisfied that it will not be attended now that the academy has pulled its sponsorship, adding that law enforcement officers attend these kinds of seminars because they require continuing education credits — but they will no longer receive those credits following the academy’s decision. In Hooper’s words, “why would people show up for three days if they don’t get credit?”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Guandolo accused Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan of bringing “known Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders into the government and into advisory positions,” and claimed that Brennan did so because he “converted to Islam when he served in an official capacity” in Saudi Arabia. Weeks later, Guandolo expanded this conspiracy to include President Obama, claiming that the president has “made a significant effort to protect known members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood inside this government.”

In 2009, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Guandolo resigned from the FBI in 2008 before the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility could question him regarding allegations that he had “an intimate relationship with a confidential source.” According to a court filing by the federal government, a “cooperating witness” in the investigation against former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) told FBI agents that “she had sexual relations with now-former FBI agent John Guandolo during the time that Mr. Guandolo served in an undercover capacity as her driver during the pro-active phase of this investigation.”

On Saturday, the Roanoke Times reported that Sheriff Jenkins plans to move forward with the training regardless of concerns over Guandolo. As of this writing, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s office has not responded to an inquiry from ThinkProgress asking if they have changed their mind.

How Mars Became Haram: A Guide to Freaky Fatwa News

25 February, 2014 - 18:26

Haram-Mars-Header

An excellent article that discusses the media fascination with fake and often freaky Muslim/fatwa news stories with the recent example of the hoopla over the “Mars fatwa.” (h/t: Mustafa)

How Mars Became Haram: A Guide to Freaky Fatwa News

By Abez (MuslimMatters)

So there’s a fun new fatwa being covered in the international news, and it reads like this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 11.15.32 PM

I know what you’re thinking- come on, it’s just another one of those made-up fatwas, like last year’s Great Syrian Sex Jihad and the Erotic Fruit and Vegetable Fatwa of 2011. Those were great fun for the media, and in all their journalistic glee, they forgot to check their stories. There is something to be said for journalistic integrity, unless there’s a funny fatwa story. Then it’s a free for-all.

Summers temps in Saudi go up to 54C/129F, and you think they couldn't handle this?

Summers temps in Saudi go up to 54C/129F, and you think they couldn’t handle this?

Of course, this isn’t the first time the media’s lost sight of due diligence when it comes to stories about Muslims. Remember the man who was too handsome for Saudi? Or the Egyptian Necrophilia Fatwa- where unnamed and unsourced clerics said it was okay for a grieving husband to have “Farewell Intercourse” with his spouse’s corpse for up six hours after the time of death. Grieving wives had conjugal rights to dead husbands as well, because Muslims do believe in equality of the sexes, see?

Remember the fatwa where if your spouse saw you naked, your marriage became invalid?  Or how breastfeeding your male colleagues could make them your mahram? Those were fake too.

Muslims generally hear these stories, heave a long-suffering sigh, and go back to worrying about real news- like other Muslims being ethnically cleansed, burned alive, and frozen to death across the world.

 Muslim zombiepocalypse enthusiasts file official complaint to Egypt.

Follow-up news: Muslim zombiepocalypse enthusiasts file official complaint against Egypt.

We tend to take these stories in stride with the rest of the c@#$ that mainstream media dumps on us already. Yes, yes, we heard already- we are the stupid, violent, intolerant, controlling men who obsess about sex, gender relations, and suspiciously shaped produce – and the women who love them.

The men I mean. Not the fruit. Because there’s a fatwa about that.

So what is a fatwa?

Let’s say I have a dry cough. I read the directions on the cough syrup, and confirm it was for dry cough. But then I read the fine print, where taking the syrup can be risky in conjunction with other medications. Now, I do happen to take some of those medications, but not often. I am looking for some clarity, so I call my doctor and he gives me his medical opinion- not an order- about my specific case. He tells me what he thinks I should do, and why he thinks so. Whether I think he’s right, or whether I want to go looking for a second opinion is up to me. He hasn’t given me an order, he has given me a  fatwa.

YourOpinion

In a non-legally binding way, yes.

A fatwa is a  non-binding Islamic legal opinion, issued by a legal scholar or institution.  It is important to note a few things them:

  • Fatawa are legal opinions, not laws
  • The purpose of fatawa is to seek clarity. This usually happens in cases dealing with new, specific, or unclear issues.

The doctor told me what he was thinking based on his knowledge, training, and personal experience. He told me why he was thinking it, and I am free to follow it or not. That is a fatwa. Given the number of bad doctors in the world, it seems more understandable then, why there can be confusing Islamic fatawa. Muslims are humans, humans make mistakes, and humans can be expected to have differing opinions, medical or otherwise.

For every two sensible doctors out there is at least one nut-job who tells us to put herbs in our socks or wear a magnetized bracelet to cure the chronic bronchitis I am actually nurturing. So yes, it is possible to get a strange non-legally binding opinion- or fatwa- from a real  Muslim, the same way I can get an unhealthy recommendation from a real doctor.

Indeed.

Indeed.

What happened to Mars?

It all started with a Dutch Company called Mars One, whose mission is to “establish a permanent human settlement on Mars.”  The company plans to start sending people up to the red planet by 2024, and they’ll be sending them one-way.

According to the original story in the Khaleej Times, the General Islamic of Islamic Affairs and Endowment of the UAE – locally known as the Awqaaf, takes issue with this type of mission.

“Such a one-way journey poses a real risk to life, and that can never be justified in Islam,” the committee said.  “There is a possibility that an individual who travels to planet Mars may not be able to remain alive there, and is more vulnerable to death.”

Whoever opts for this “hazardous trip”, the committee said, is likely to perish for no “righteous reason”, and thus will be liable to a “punishment similar to that of suicide in the Hereafter”.

The committee, presided by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said: “Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse [4:29] of the HolyQurʾān: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allāh is to you ever Merciful.”

Professor Dr. Who?

Dr. Farouk Al Hamada is real person.  In fact, he’s even really in the UAE.  He is a published author, and according to his personal website, he is currently “an adviser at the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, Emirates.”  His website was last updated on Jan 8, 2012.

He is not, however, the Grand Mufti of the UAE, let alone all of Saudi Arabia as some of the headlines claim.  A quick Google search shows that there doesn’t seem to be a Grand Mufti of the UAE, but there is a Grand Mufti of Dubai.  His name is Dr. Ahmad Al Haddad; in July of 2013, he made the news with some very sage advice, “Be careful about fatwas on twitter.”

Beware Twitter FatwasWhat Dr Farooq Hamada said was:

  • Taking an unnecessary risk with your life is not allowed in Islam
  • A one-way ticket to Mars means you’ll probably die
  • If you  do go and die, you may be held accountable for killing yourself for no good reason

What Dr. Farooq Hamada didn’t say was:

  • Travel to Mars is not allowed
  • Flying to Mars (versus walking) is not forbidden
  • Colonizing Mars (versus visiting) is not allowed
  • Housing on Mars (versus education?) is haram
  • Living on Mars is sinful
  • Even wanting to live on Mars is sinful
  • Muslims traveling to Mars will suffer punishment

There are other opinions about this issue- and they will most likely hinge on whether travel to Mars is a righteous reason or reasonably safe. They have nothing to do with flying, colonizing, the high rate of Martian housing, or nurturing secret dreams of space travel. At this point in time, a one-way trip to Mars is a bit like jumping into an alligator pit. If I’m doing it to save a kid who fell in, I can risk my life because that’s a righteous reason. But if I’m doing it to take a selfie, that’s suicide. And I’m an idiot.

Read the rest of the article…

Police arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teens

25 February, 2014 - 03:15

Nilsson_Wood

(h/t:Lithium2006)

Police arrest man for threatening to stab two Muslim teens


By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Albuquerque police have arrested a man accused of threatening to stab a couple of teenagers playing basketball, simply because he hated Muslims.

Nilsson Wood is accused of threatening a 15-year-old and his friend with a knife.

The incident happened at the basketball court that is part of the Islamic Center of New Mexico.

According to the criminal complaint, the teen and his friend were playing basketball when they heard Wood screaming down the street.

They said they didn’t think anything of it until he came to the court and ended up face-to-face with him.

The 15-year-old said Wood pulled out a knife and told them he hates Muslims and he wanted to kill them.

Police say Wood was intoxicated at the time.

John Bounadonna is a resident in the area. He walks by the center every day and sees it as a place of peace and refuge.

“When I walk by the spot specifically it seems like a spot where people can get away from any trouble that they might find; to get away from any violence in the neighborhood and to find themselves here. When it comes to this spot is pretty sad,” Bounadonna said.

Wood is not charged with any hate crimes but he is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and child abuse.

Monday afternoon, KOB Eyewitness News 4 received a statement from Albuquerque Interfaith, which states:

“New Mexico has no place for hatred like this. People of religious and democratic faith have an obligation to reject prejudice and violence against our Muslim brothers and sisters. New Mexicans are better than this.”

A Judge Just Ruled the NYPD Can Legally Monitor Muslims and Infiltrate Mosques

24 February, 2014 - 20:46

 AP

Image Credit: AP

Two-tiered justice system.

A Judge Just Ruled the NYPD Can Legally Monitor Muslims and Infiltrate Mosques

By Jess Remington

In a disturbing ruling Thursday, a federal judge said that it is constitutionally sound to treat Muslim mosques, businesses and student associations as terrorist organizations. This means police departments are free to secretly monitor their communications, store members and employees’ personal information in police files and infiltrate get-togethers with undercover informants.

The case was spurred by revelations that for years, the NYPD was doing exactly this to dozens of Muslim organizations across the Northeast, including mosques in New Jersey as well as student groups and faculty members at at least 17 university campuses. In an attempt to catch potential terrorists post-9/11, the department monitored student groups’ discussion forums as part of a “daily routine.” It designated entire mosques as potential terrorist cells in the absence of any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. It sent officers to investigate religious meetings, and even sent an undercover agent on a university whitewater rafting trip to track how often the students prayed.

In a particularly ridiculous scenario, several officers rented out an apartment by the Rutgers University-New Brunswick campus to conduct terrorist-monitoring operations. They called it their “safe house.” It was busted when their landlord stumbled in and mistook it for an actual terrorist cell.

Once the Associated Press revealed what the NYPD was doing, the department doubled down, claiming their efforts were part of justified terrorist prevention measures. After all, as NYPD spokesman Paul Brown argued, 12 people who have been charged or convicted of terrorism in the U.S. or abroad were at one point linked to a Muslim student association.

But the NYPD has never criminally charged an Islamic organization with operating as a terrorist enterprise. There is no indication that any of the targeted students have been charged with criminal activity.

Image Credit: AP

Even though the NYPD conducted its activities in total secrecy, they failed to alert the universities where they were monitoring students and faculty. Even though the NYPD conducted extensive operations far outside its jurisdiction of authority and profiled an entire religious group as potential terrorists, the judge ruled that it did not violate the Constitution.

“While this surveillance program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles,” the judge wrote. “The motive for the program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights said that this practice is comparable to interning Japanese-Americans during World War II, which was also initially ruled constitutionally sound.

The plaintiffs plan to appeal. Hopefully, with enough momentum, this type of practice can get the same ruling as stop-and-frisk.

Denmark: OK to Rape Animals But Not OK to Have Halal and Kosher Meat

24 February, 2014 - 18:45

10750madsheep

By Emperor

Sheep shagging and other assorted bestiality is legal in Denmark, a country that has recently been marred by controversy over its ban on Halal and Kosher meat slaughter, which is considered “inhumane” by opponents. Minister of agriculture Dan Jørgensen told Denmark’s TV2 that “animal rights come before religion”.

Interestingly, animal brothels are openly doing business in Denmark  where there is a thriving bestiality scene, clients come from such places as Norway, Sweden, Holland and Germany. (h/t: Cliff)

This is remarkable, I thought these nations were supposed to be all about “choice?” What choice does an animal have in getting banged by a human?

Animal brothels legal in Denmark

(ICENEWS)

Laws in both Denmark and Norway are fairly open when it comes to a person’s legal right to engage in sexual activity with an animal. The law states that doing so is perfectly legal, so long as the animal involved does not suffer. According to the Danish newspaper 24timer, this interesting gap in the law has led to a flourishing business in which people pay in order to have sex with animals.

On the internet, several Danish animal owners openly advertise their services. The newspaper contacted several such individuals and was told that many of the animals have been engaged in this kind of activity for several years and that the animals crave the sexual stimulation. The newspaper found that the cost charged by the animal owners varied from DKK 500 to 1,000 (USD$85 to $170).

Since Danish laws are so similar to Norwegian laws, the animal bordello phenomenon has led many to question if such a practice could be legal in Norway as well.

Torunn Knaevelsrud is the section chief for animal welfare for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority. “It is difficult to say yes or no,” he replied to a question about the legality of animal bordellos in Norway.

“It could be that the animals don’t really care,” Knaevelsrud said. “But I think it is in the nature of the case that animals will often be victims of injury, stress or suffering in connection with sexual acts with humans. Either that they are held fast, or frightened, or suffer pain or physical injury,” Knaevelsrud said.

Norway is currently reviewing its Animal Protection Act and several groups, including the Norwegian Animal Welfare Alliance, have proposed making amendments which forbid sexual intercourse with animals.

“The acts provoke moral disgust. The question is whether immorality should be made illegal. The FSA group discussing the new animal protection act has been in disagreement about this,” Knaevelsrud said.

One of the owners of an animal bordello in Denmark said that many of his clients come from abroad and travel some distance for his services. “But the clients tell us that it is much simpler to buy animal sex in Denmark than in their own country,” the owner said, explaining that many of his clients come from Norway, Sweden, Holland and Germany.

I think Dave Chappelle got it right, once you go for monkey sex you’re out of the human sex game.:

Does Mona Eltahawy Hate Arab Men?

23 February, 2014 - 23:59

clown
by Ilisha

H/T: Solid Snake

In Spring of 2012, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy sparked widespread controversy with her scathing critique of Arab society entitled Why Do They Hate us? Her premise was that Arab society has waged war on women, and seemed to suggest that Arab men are uniquely misogynist.

By singling out Arab society and making sweeping generalizations, Eltahawy was not just highlighting women’s issues. She was reinforcing widely-held stereotypes about Arab and Muslim men, two overlapping groups strongly linked to rampant sexism in the public imagination, especially in Western countries.

Danios published Why Do They Hate Us? They Don’t in response, discussing some of the troubling aspects of the article at the time. The controversy resurfaced again when Al-Jazeera’s program Head to Head recently hosted a debate between Mona Eltahawy and Mehdi Hassan, framed by a similarly provocative title: Do Arab men hate women?

After watching Eltahawy making sweeping generalizations and insisting Arab men really are uniquely misogynist in a world where there is no shortage of discrimination against women, I found myself asking a corresponding question:  Does Mona Eltahawy hate Arab men?

Muslim women’s attire under attack in Sri Lanka

21 February, 2014 - 23:23

Sri Lanka_Hijab Muslim women’s attire under attack in Sri Lanka

Hate groups in Sri Lanka have made the attire of Muslim women a key target in their onslaught against Muslims. They have used security and the need for uniformity as reasons to attack Muslim female attire such as the hijab, the punjabi attire and the niqab.

The Punjabi dress/shalwar khameez

Although the Ministry of Education by a directive issued in 1980 permitted Muslim girls to go to school attired in a punjabi attire, since 2009, school authorities have prohibited this in many schools in the country. Various excuses have been made out such as the need for uniformity or the simple and oft used one ‘this is a Buddhist school/country’.

A father of Muslim child took the issue to the Supreme Court in SC (FR) 688/2012 and the matter was settled before the court with the school authorities giving a solemn undertaking to comply with the circular. However the situation has not changed drastically given that parents fear that their children will get victimized in school if they go against the school authorities.

Hijab and Abaya

At the height of the Bodu Bala Sena anti-halaal protest in 2013 there were several incidents of women being attacked for wearing the hijab or the abaya or even being asked to remove them. There was an incident of a female Muslim doctor at a hospital in the Colombo who was attacked by a man when she was performing her professional duties attired in a hijab.

The niqab

Recently the University of Moratuwa stopped three Muslim girls from attending the university because of the niqab.Two students have filed cases in the Supreme Court in SC (FR) 424/2013 and SC (FR) 427/2013. Both these matters are fixed for support on April 29th, 2014. One student has made an application to the National Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission took the matter for inquiry on February 19th, 2014. The matter is pending a determination by the Commission.sever

The Bodu Bala Sena at several of its meetings publicly referred to this as the ‘goonibilla’ dress.

FBI: Men planned guerilla war against federal agencies

21 February, 2014 - 23:12

Cory Robert Williamson

The FBI  does have a history of thwarting their own terror plots but I bet you won’t see the following story on the Islamophobia sites. Also if they were Muslim they would have been charged with ‘terrorism’ and other assorted offenses.

FBI: Men planned guerilla war against federal agencies

By  Carolyn Grindrod (RN-T)

Three Romans arrested on federal firearms charges over the weekend were allegedly trying to obtain pipe bombs and other explosives to carry out guerilla warfare-style attacks against government facilities, according to Federal Bureau of Investigations agents.

Terry Eugene Peace, 45; Brian Edward Cannon, 36; and Cory Robertson Williamson, 28 — all of 22 Tumlin Drive — have each been charged under federal law with conspiracy to receive and possess a firearm.

The three men were being held at Floyd County Jail for the U.S. Marshals Service on Wednesday, following their first appearance Tuesday in federal magistrate court.

The group was arrested in Cartersville during an FBI-led operation that included FBI SWAT and the police departments of Rome, Floyd County and Bartow County.

According to the affidavit and criminal complaint filed by FBI Agent Adam Roland:

The three men participated in online chat discussions between Jan. 23 and Feb. 15 that were monitored by the FBI.

During the online conversations they discussed using guerilla war tactics and planned to launch the attacks against the government this month. They specifically targeted several federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Peace talked with an FBI “confidential human source”  on Feb. 8 about getting several explosive devices, including a thermite-mix charge strong enough “to go through the engine block of a MRPA.”

An MRPA — mine-resistant ambush protection vehicle — is an armored vehicle used in the military and law enforcement.

Peace also told the FBI source he wanted pipe bombs constructed for “maximum fragmentation.”

“If he can hook us up with, say, 12 pipe bombs, that will be sweet,” said Peace, according the report.

That same day, Cannon had a conversation with another source and stated the group was planning to “start the fight” with the government by strategically sabotaging power grids, transfer stations, and water treatment facilities — in hopes of a declaration of martial law.

“Cannon claimed this action would cause mass hysteria and if enough sabotage was successful, then martial law, therefore trigging other militias to join the fight,” Roland’s report stated.

On Feb. 13, Peace, Cannon and Williamson went to the Country Sportsman on Shorter Avenue in Rome. There, Peace bought a Mossberg .308 caliber rifle as well as scope, stand and gun case.

The group planned to meet in Tennessee on Feb. 15 with the first FBI source, which they believed was working with them to get the explosives. The meeting location was later changed to a location in Cartersville.

FBI agents had given the source 12 inert pipe bombs and two thermite devices. When Peace, Cannon and Williams took possession of the items, agents swooped down and arrested them.

Three rifles were found in the cab of the truck. Peace and Cannon, who were both wearing body armor, were armed with pistols.

The men were initially held in the Bartow County Jail but transferred to the Floyd County Jail after their Tuesday hearing in Rome.

Islamophobic Attack On A Veiled Mother in Moselle, France

20 February, 2014 - 22:04

stop-islamophobie

It’s just good old “muscular liberalism,” right?

Whatever it is, there is no doubt that the French government’s attitude towards Islam and its Muslim population has contributed to an environment where veiled women can and are attacked.

(h/t: Al-Kanz)

Islamophobic Attack On A Veiled Mother in Moselle

Collectif Contre L’Islamophobie En France (Google Translate)

The incident occurred in the evening of Tuesday, February 18 around 18:15.

The victim, a young mother with her toddler, was violently attacked while returning slowly towards his home after shopping.

The attacker suddenly stopped his vehicle before verbally take the young woman, whom he accuses of wear the full veil ”  The driver yelled at me: You have to go to Iraq eh [...]! In France, we do not dress like that! “ [...] “Go back to your country …”.

Very agitated, the individual is left to his vehicle, walked away, then eventually turn around to attack again to his victim and snatch her ​​veil him shouting “It is forbidden by law [...] here, we respect women “ (assault a woman because of his religion and its origin is this definition of respect for women: ed.)

A man who attended the scene immediately intervened to assist the victim and stop aggression.

The victim is still very shocked and was very afraid for her child  : “I picked races downed and taken my stroller, which under the impact of physical aggression, had rolled to the curb … I ‘ve found wobbly against the wheel of a parked car. He could have something happen to my son … the stroller could be completely reversed. “

Our legal team are currently in contact with victims to encourage them to complain and bring him any psychological assistance necessary.

Meet Fox’s New Anti-Muslim “National Security Analyst” From the Clarion Project

20 February, 2014 - 21:38

RyanMauro

The Zionist Clarion Project is funded by Aisha HaTorah, a pro-Occupation, pro-Settler colonization organization that seeks to foment anti-Muslim Islamophobic sentiment against Muslims in the West. They are known for such anti-Muslim screeds as Obsession, Third Jihad and Iranium. (h/t: JD)

Meet Fox’s New Anti-Muslim “National Security Analyst”

Media Matters


Fox News has repeatedly hosted members of the fringe group Clarion Project, an anti-Muslim organization known for spreading Islamophobic fears, to discuss serious national security matters.

On February 20, Fox News hosted Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst from the Clarion Project, also known as the Clarion Fund, to discuss possible security threats on airlines. Mauro has recently appeared on Fox several times where he has argued that ‘Muslim patrols’ were a growing security concern for the United States, discussed the possibility of an anti-American alliance in the Middle East with Syrian Jihadists, and hyped fears that Somali refugees in the United States were becoming ‘homegrown’ terrorists.

But Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia. Clarion Project has been widely criticized for producing and spreading Islamophobic material including the movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, a film that depicted Muslims as terrorists seeking world conquest. Think Progress reported that this was only the first installment of “Clarion’s ongoing production of Islamophobic films.”

Mauro himself has penned numerous pieces for the anti-Islam blog Islamist Watch where he has tracked his progress in identifying “Muslim enclaves” in the United States that he says will become “‘no-go zones’ where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there” :

The construction of the building blocks for similar Muslim enclaves and “no-go zones” in the U.S. is one of the most disturbing programs of Islamist groups. If successful, these territories will be the first to establish Shari’a law in the country, thus offering a profound challenge to America’s constitutional order.

Other board members from the Clarion Project who have also made their way onto Fox include Frank Gaffney, one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes and Fox’s go-to anti-Muslim activist, Zuhdi Jasser. Gaffney has used funding for his Center for Security Policy to produce reports promoting the baseless myth that Muslims are conspiring to implement Sharia law in the United States.

According to a Center for American Progress report, the Clarion Project is funded by three of the seven top anti-Islam and anti-Muslim think tanks and organizations in the United States, including the Donors Capital Fund, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, and Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwal Family Fund. The Center for American Progress describes these donors as the “lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America,” and the report tracks how these donors use their money to support groups like the Clarion Project to “spread a deliberately misleading messages about Islam and Muslims that is fundamentally antithetical to our nation’s foundation and principals of religious freedom.”

Attackers of Plovdiv mosque fined for hooliganism

19 February, 2014 - 19:35

Dzhumaya-Mosque-windows-smashed Attackers of Plovdiv mosque fined for hooliganism

The first four people involved in a February 14 2014 mob attack on the historic Dzhumaya mosque in Plovdiv have been penalised under a fast-track procedure. Two were each fined 400 leva (about 200 euro), one was fined 300 leva and another was sentenced to two days’ detention.

A further four of the 120 arrested during the melee in Bulgaria’s second city on February 14 were to be penalised on February 17, local media said. By February 15, just 10 of the 120 initially arrested were still in custody, prosecutors said. Of those penalised, none was from Plovdiv. They were from Sofia, Varna, Vratsa and the town of Kozloduy. Police worked overtime at the weekend on preparing cases against those accused, according to the Interior Ministry.

The conduct of the police in Plovdiv during the incident, which saw not only the mosque targeted with paving stones, fireworks and bottles, but also the crowd of about 3000 march on the Turkish consulate and the city headquarters of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, has come in for criticism. Centre-right GERB opposition leader Boiko Borissov alleged on February 16 that police deliberately had been pulled back to allow the attack on the Dzhumaya mosque.

Borissov earlier hit back at criticism of Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev, a senior GERB member, by Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetozar Lazarov, who said that Totev had been too tardy in responding to ministry requests to ban the march.

An article on local website Plovdiv24 also called into question police conduct during the protest. The article alleged that police had been slow to react when the mosque came under attack, and allegedly had been passive when the crowd moved on towards the Turkish consulate.

When the crowd moved towards the consulate, “instead of moving in a cordon around the protesters, the police walked along the main street, talking to each other quietly, as if they were guarding the protest and were taking a rest”. Police had acted only to defend the MRF headquarters and a Lafka kiosk, the latter a company said to be linked to the family of MRF MP Delyan Peevski, according to the article, which claimed that the protest had been aggravated by provocateurs “to serve the interests of the government and especially the MRF”.

The MRF, in a statement on February 15, strongly condemned the events in Plovdiv, asking what “dark forces” were behind the incidents that, the party said, were clearly intended at bringing down the current government by stoking ethnic conflict.

On February 17, Interior Ministry chief secretary Lazarov insisted that the ministry would not tolerate “any xenophobic and racist manifestations”. He was commenting on the events on Plovdiv. These had been followed on February 15 by the far-right “Lukov March” in Sofia in which, the ministry said at the time, there were people involved who were identified as having been present in Plovdiv during the events of the previous day. These were among 10 people arrested during the “Lukov March”, which proceeded with a police escort in spite of a belated order by Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova to ban it. The order from Fandukova came through after the march was already underway.

Lazarov said that currently, there were attempts to “violate the balance of the ethnic model”. These attempts were a threat to Bulgaria’s national security, he said. “There is a pre-court proceeding in Plovdiv over preaching ethnic hatred. I recommend keeping an eye on which persons will be summoned for interrogation and I hope that this will be made public,” Lazarov said.

Meanwhile, by February 15 additional security had been placed around the Dzhumaya mosque, the Turkish consulate and the MRF office in Plovdiv, local media said.

The chairman of the board of the mosque, Ahmet Pehlivan, said that four bags of stones and missiles made from soft drink cans had been gathered up after the attack on the mosque. He said that during the attack on the mosque, there had been about 100 worshippers inside, who had been terrified as the missiles were hurled against the building, Pehlivan said.

* The Dzhumaya Mosque is believed to date from the time of the reign of Sultan Murad I in the second half of the 14th century CE. It was extensively restored between 2006 and 2008. Recently, a coffee shop offering delicacies imported from Turkey opened on the ground floor of the building, in the place of a former Turkish sweet shop. Restoration of the mosque took place in the framework of a bilateral Bulgarian-Turkish deal which also enabled restoration work on the Bulgarian St Stefan church – known as the “Iron Church” – in Istanbul.

Sofia Globe, 17 February 2014

Spain Citizenship for Sephardic Jews ‘Automatic’ — No Discretion

19 February, 2014 - 18:26

Expulsion of the Moriscos from Viranos.

Expulsion of the Moriscos from Viranos.

In an effort to rectify a historic injustice Spain is offering Sephardic descendants of Andalusian Jews who were forced to adopt Christianity, tortured and or expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella automatic citizenship.

One has to wonder if Spain’s recognition of its historic injustice will also extend to Maghrebian descendants of Andalusian Muslims who faced a similar inquisition and expulsion?

Imagine the uproar if they were also included, cries of Islamization, creeping Shariah and dhimmitude would ring out far and wide in the looniverse.

Spain Citizenship for Sephardic Jews ‘Automatic’ — No Discretion By JTA (The Forward)

MADRID — The conferring of Spanish citizenship to Sephardic Jews will be automatic and independent of the government’s discretion, the country’s justice minister told a delegation of American Jews.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon made the pledge during a speech Thursday before dozens of members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

He was referring to a bill on the naturalization of descendants of Jews who fled from Spain because of religious persecution during the 15th and 16th centuries. Spain’s Council of Ministers okayed the bill last week. To become law, the bill will need to pass in parliament.

“In Spain, a clear majority realize we have committed a historical error and have an opportunity to repair it, so I am sure that law will pass with an immense majority in parliament,” Ruiz-Gallardon said.

When it does, citizenship “will not be a discretional matter, it will not be subject to the good will of the government, because it is a right that anyone who meets the criteria is entitled to,” he added.

There will be several ways to obtain citizenship, he said. “One of them is through certification with the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain. Another is certification by a competent, recognized rabbinical authority,” the minister added.

Led by the Presidents Conference’s chairman, Robert Sugarman, and executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, the delegation has met with dozens of high-level Spanish officials during its four-day visit, including Spanish King Juan Carlos. In 1992 the king had said in a speech that Spain is the homeland of all Sephardic Jews.

“The clarity of your words is inspiring, as is Spain’s willingness to confront its history in a real way to build a better future,” Hoenlein told the minister. “I hope other nations will learn from your denunciation of the events of 500 years ago.” In meetings, the visitors thanked their Spanish interlocutors for promoting legislation on Sephardic Jews; confronting efforts to boycott and delegitimize Israel; and maintaining pressure on Iran over its nuclear program and on terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas.

Spain has announced that it will seek election to the U.N. Security Council this year.

The Presidents Conference delegation is scheduled to arrive in Israel over the weekend for its annual meeting.

Bristol EDL declares independence

19 February, 2014 - 18:14

Bristol-Defence-League-patriotism-is-not-racism Bristol EDL declares independence

Last month the English Defence League leadership – now a committee known as the Management Group, which is composed of the regional organisers – issued what was on the face of it a stern warning to EDL members against involvement with the various far-right splinter groups that have emerged from the movement over the past few years.

Accusing these rival groupuscules (quite accurately) of being “openly White Pride and racist”, the Management Group emphasised (albeit not very coherently) that “we will not stand with groups that do discriminate and are racist such as the Britain First/SEA/NWI/NEI/EVF/BNP/NF/C18 & White Pride or such like minded openly discriminating against any creed, race, colour other than white”.

EDL members were told: “If you wish to have unity with these groups then you have the option to leave the EDL as a supporter and join one or all of these groups. The splinter groups have minimal numbers and need unity with the EDL to make their numbers up not the other way. If you choose do so then we wish you good luck.”

However, for all their pious condemnation of racism and fascism, the Management Group was not actually proposing a general ban on EDL members participating in the protests organised by these splinter groups: “If any EDL supporter wishes to attend any of these other groups demos then all that we request is that you do not wear EDL colour’s or state you are in attendance as an EDL supporter.” In other words, the EDL leadership has no principled objection to its members’ active involvement with white supremacist, antisemitic and homophobic organisations – just as long as the EDL’s name is kept out of it.

Neverthless, as EDL News reported at the time, this provoked defections by a number of EDL divisions. One of them is in Bristol, where the leadership took badly to being given instructions by the national leadership. Leading local EDL activist Chelsea Anne White posted an indignant response to the new orders, complaining on the EDL Support Group’s Facebook page that “when i joined the EDL 3 years ago i was led to believe it was a street movement not a dictatorship”. According to White: “Good leadership dosen’t tell people what to do…..it is there to offer knowledge, assistance and support.”

Bristol EDL was originally headed by Mickey Bayliss, whose self-proclaimed opposition to racism didn’t prevent him from posting racist ‘jokes’ on Facebook. When Bayliss left to take over the organisation of Portsmouth EDL, he was replaced as leader of Bristol division by Ed Dowden, who combined that position with the post of Somerset and Avon district officer for the Mosleyite New British Union. So you can understand why Bristol division should resent being told not to openly associate with racists and fascists, given that the division has itself been led for years by proponents of racism and fascism.

As a result of Bristol’s refusal to accept the national leadership’s directive, there were for a while two Bristol EDL Facebook pages – the original one, which was in the hands of the dissidents, and a new loyalist page, English Defence League Bristol Division Official. At the weekend, however, the split was made official when the rebels took down their old Facebook page and launched a new one, in the name of the Bristol Defence League. Proudly announcing the formation of yet another far-right fragment, the BDL explains that “the true patriots of Bristol have left the ranks of the EDL behind and gathered together in the name of UNITY!”

This formal break with the EDL was evidently inspired by a far-right meeting held in Essex on 1 February, which brought together various groups and individuals who had split from the EDL, including the former Bristol division, under the umbrella of the United British Patriots. A committee was established which included representatives of the South East Alliance, March for England, the English Volunteer Force, Scottish Volunteer Force, Casuals United, East Anglian Patriots, South West Infidels, Patriots Unite and the former EDL Armed Forces Division (now renamed Armed Forces Patriots), with Mickey Bayliss (now presumably back from Portsmouth) representing the BDL.

In an ill-written mission statement, which characteristically mounts a defence of English culture while showing complete contempt for the English language, the BDL proclaims that it is “against Muslim extremists, the IRA and anyone that don’t want to live or integrate into the British way of life”. Predictably, however, it turns out that the talk of “Muslim extremists” is a just cover for inciting hatred aganst the entire Muslim community and its religious practices: “We Oppose Halal slaughter the building of Mosques and Islamic ‘Education’ centres and see them as places to spread more hatred of western values.”

Equally predictably, the BDL asserts that they are a “non racist/facist [sic] non political street movement”. Not entirely consistently, the statement goes on to declare that the BDL are “against mass immigration and believe this to be a tactic for the end game of white genocide”. So, no racism there, then.

It is easy to sneer at the small forces represented by the Bristol Defence League and its allies in United British Patriots. These are all tiny groups and even if they manage to maintain their unity, which is itself questionable, they are unlikely to succeed in mobilising significant numbers to take to the streets to protest, certainly not on the scale that the EDL did at its peak. The next “unity” demonstration is the English Volunteer Force protestoutside the Houses of Parliament on 15 March, which the BDL have been enthusiasticallypromoting, so we will see.

However, the threat posed by the Islamophobic far right doesn’t lie exclusively, or even primarily, in the holding of large-scale protests. The sort of hate crime inspired by the EDL, which has involved graffiti and arson attacks on mosques and Islamic centres, and racist abuse and physical violence against Muslims in the street, doesn’t require a large number of participants to have a serious impact. The crisis and fragmentation of the EDL is obviously welcome, but it won’t necessarily lead to a decline in such anti-Muslim activity on the ground.

In December the Bristol EDL division’s Facebook page featured calls for a proposed mosque to be firebombed, to the approval of the page’s admin, resulting in a police inquiry. Shortly afterwards, when two Bristol EDL members received prison sentences for their part in an EDL riot in Walsall, they were hailed as “patriots” by Bristol division, who told the jailed hooligans that they were “proud of you both”. Just because Bristol division have split from the EDL and adopted a new name and affiliation, that doesn’t mean there will be any change in their promotion and practice of intimidation and violence.

GOP congressman silent while racist Tea Partyer calls for Obama assassination

18 February, 2014 - 21:37

399px-Jim_Bridenstine_official_portrait_113th_Congress-2

GOP congressman silent while racist Tea Partyer calls for Obama assassination

by , America blog

Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was at a Tea Party event with constituents a few weeks ago when a woman went off about how President Obama needed to be killed.

The woman explained some bizarre conspiracy theory about the President “shipping” Muslims into our country through pilots and commercial jets.” She then exlained that, of course, President Obama needs to be executed as an enemy combattant.

All the while, Bridenstine looked on and offered no disagreement, or recognition of the fact that the woman had potentially just committed a crime.

“Obama, he’s not president, as far as I’m concerned, he should be executed, he’s an enemy combatant… the Muslims that he is shipping into our country though pilots and commercial jets… what’s, what this… I can’t tell you, I can’t say, because this is a public place, this guy is a criminal, and nobody’s stopping him.”

RightWingWatch, which discovered the Bridenstine video, has more on the “shipping Muslims” conspiracy. It’s, of course, based on the notion that President Obama is a secret Muslim, and therefore has stealth plans to ship 50 to 100 million Muslims from the Middle East to America, so that he can turn our “Christian” nation into a “Muslim” one.

So, in fact, the woman was being racist too. And not a peep from Rep. Bridenstine.

The event is illustrative of just how taken-over by extremists the GOP has become.  Racism, and overt calls for the President’s death, are all ignored by Republican congressmen who will do anything to curry favor with the fringe that now controls their party.

Two weeks after the event, after facing a lot of criticism for remaining silent, Congressman Bridenstine did what any good Republican would do: He took umbrage at the fact that anyone would be upset at his silence in the face of a call for the assassination of the President:bridenstine-death-threat-obama

Yes, how dare anyone criticize a US congressman for sitting there and not saying a word when a constituent tells them that the President of the United States should be killed.  It’s a sign of how extreme the GOP has become that Bridenstine thinks it’s outrageous that anyone would expect him to counter the woman’s racist, extremist rhetoric.  Even John McCain, during the 2008 campaign, stopped a woman at a campaign event from calling President Obama “an Arab.”  But that was six years ago.  Oh how the party has changed.

Oh, and when you watch the video, listen to Bridenstine closely.  You might be surprised to find out that he’s virulently opposed to gay marriage as well.  (Will the rightwing ever find a “defender of marriage” who doesn’t come across like a BOG?)

 

Circassians: Sochi Olympians ‘are skiing on the bones of our ancestors’

18 February, 2014 - 21:33

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Circassians: Sochi Olympians ‘are skiing on the bones of our ancestors’

By Gena Somra and Ivan WatsonCNN

(CNN) – “They tried to forget us, as if we never even lived there,” says Circassian architect Abdullah Makhmudovic Berisov. Now 67 years old, Berisov speaks about the pain he feels when thinking of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and how the opening ceremony failed to mention the history of the Circassian people who once called Sochi their capital.

Berisov is not alone. Circassian artist Sheomir Guchepshoko, 32, says far from being a source of pride, the Sochi Olympics are a tragic reminder of what was lost during the Russian-Circassian war that ended in 1864.

“It was our land,” he says, “but during the opening of the Olympic Games, they said it was a Greek land, and then after that it was Russian land. They didn’t say anything about the Circassian part of Russian history. And it really hurt.”

And even more egregious than failing to be recognized, say some Circassian activists, is that the Olympic venue at Krasnaya Polyana was built on what they say is the mass burial site of the Circassians’ final defeat.

In these Olympic Games, “athletes are skiing on the bones of our ancestors,” one activist says, adding: “It would be like Germany deciding to build an Olympic Park on Auschwitz.”

Circassian historian Samir Khotko says the international attention on Sochi as the host city of the Olympics has awakened a movement to push the Russian government to officially recognize what he and others say was the Circassian genocide of 1864.

The Circassians lived in Sochi for millennia, says Frankie Martin, a research fellow at American University’s School of International Service in Washington. In the 19th century, Russia coveted their land — which is south and east of Russia proper — and brutally defeated them, decimating entire tribes, he says. Russia killed around 1.5 million Circassians and expelled a similar number.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who personally lobbied for Sochi to host the Winter Olympics, has repeatedly urged observers to avoid mixing politics with sport.

But activists say the effort to draw attention to their cause has come at a price. They point to what they say are campaigns of intimidation and detention by Russian security forces in order to silence criticism. Circassian activists say that on February 7, dozens were detained in the city of Nalchik while trying to peacefully protest the start of the Olympic Games.

In Maykop, the capital of the Adyghe region, about 150 miles north of Sochi, Guchepshoko’s sand art exhibit paints a tale of a 101-year-long war and the tragic exodus that he says is in danger of being forgotten.

The Russian conquest of the Caucasus is widely documented in Russian literature and history, yet Circassians say their portion of this history — a story of crushing defeat, widespread killing, and mass deportation to the Middle East and elsewhere — is strangely absent from Russian history books.

Guchepshoko says that as a child growing up in Russia, he knew very little about his ancestry.

Learning Circassian history was prohibited in school, he says. “When I was a child, it was if I was a guest in my own country. But slowly, I found some information about our history, and now I understand. I am a Circassian.”

“I started to think about it. It’s like there was a hole in my heart, and now I want it to be filled.”

When asked if he worries about angering the Russian government with his art, he admits there is some risk but adds that it is his duty to show younger generations, like his, what really happened in the Caucasus 150 years ago.

“I want to show the truth,” he says. “Because some young people, people who live here, they don’t know about their own history.”

An attempt to preserve culture

Circassian activists point out that there were efforts to preserve parts of their culture when the area was part of the Soviet Union. To this day, there is an autonomous region not far from Sochi reserved for the Adyghe, a subset of the Circassian people.

In Maykop, the Circassian language is spoken on the street and shares a place next to Russian on historic landmarks.

Last year, workers constructed a monument to the Circassian people in a scruffy park next to a mosque that was built in the 1990s. But the monument is still unfinished, its designer pointed out. It lacks a dozen bronze stars as well as lights to illuminate it at night.

Meanwhile, in the Olympic Park in Sochi, authorities had authorized the establishment of an Adyghe cultural exhibit.

But Adam Bogus, leader of a Circassian council in Maykop, says Russian Olympic organizers refused a number of specific requests, including the movement of the remains of those lost in the battle at Krasnaya Polyana to a separate cemetery and the creation of a special museum to house precious artifacts that would be recovered during that resettlement.

Bogus says those requests were denied, and instead of preserving the graves, construction crews desecrated many of them during the creation of the Olympic ski venue there.

Bogus says they also asked for a portion of the cultural program in the Olympic opening ceremony to acknowledge the Circassian chapter of Russian history. And he was hopeful they would honor that request. “We believed the Olympic tradition would be observed here … until the very last minute,” he says. “And that too did not happen.”

But even with the heartache Bogus says the Circassian people feel now as a result of these Olympic Games, he goes on to say that “Circassians are no enemies of Russia. Ever since Ivan the Terrible, Circassians have helped with the development of Russia.”

“We consider ourselves citizens of Russia, but we would like adequate respect for our culture,” he adds.

It is a sentiment shared by Guchepshoko. “I don’t hate Russia,” he says. “My wife is Russian. It’s complicated. I do not want this war to be repeated. I do want us to have our land, but I understand that is impossible. I don’t want blood. I don’t want wars. And that is why it is so complicated.”

“I want to show people what really happened. It’s a big tragedy for us, for our people. We lost land, we lost a thousand million people. That’s why we can’t forget.”

READ: Russia arrests leader of Circassian ethnic minority

READ: The Olympics’ forgotten people

 

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