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Bill Maher’s Use of Opinion Polls of Muslims is Ahistorical and May Justify Violations of Their Human Rights

11 April, 2017 - 15:13

Bill Maher and George Bush: Closer in thought then we ever knew?

By Ayman Fadel

A friend forwarded me a September 2014 video telling me “you’re swimming upstream in your defense of Islam.” Not knowing I was defending Islam (I see my political stances as defenses of human rights of people, including Muslims.), I replied, “only out of respect for you did I waste 3 minutes listening to Bill Maher.” He then wrote, “Who better than you, to point out where he’s right and where he’s wrong? Please share your thoughts.” Of course, there are many better qualified than me (see after the blog post.) But, after some delay, here they are.

I’m not going to fact check everything Maher said in the interview clip, which begins at 9:45. But as an example of an incorrect fact, Maher said that over 80% of Muslims in Egypt support execution of former Muslims who renounce the religion of Islam. If you look at the actual poll, it is actually 86% of the Muslims who favored making “Sharia the Law of the Land.” In Egypt, the percentage of Muslims who favored making Islamic law the official law in Egypt was 74%. So the number Maher should have cited was 86% x 74% = 64%.

But in this blog entry I accept Maher’s contention that vast numbers of Muslims reject the liberal views that he believes are essential for good society, and I’ll ignore the vast numbers of Muslims who do hold liberal views. I’ll also ignore the polls which show non-Muslims, including populations in the United States, who hold illiberal views.

I’ll ignore the arguments my brother makes on why it is possible for liberal polities to function with people with illiberal views.

My criticism is that Maher’s message is ahistorical and its policy implications are at best unclear and at worst genocidal.

In a few sentences, I want to say what Edward Said said in Orientalism & summarized in Covering Islam. A poll reveals a snippet of a person’s opinion at a given moment. Is the reason the person answered that way, i.e. held that illiberal view, that he or she is a Muslim? Or is the reason that the person’s analysis of his or her country’s history leads him or her to think that only Divine Intervention can improve it? What would a series of polls have revealed about Muslims? Have their ideas changed over time? If so, wouldn’t it mean that their opinions on things at any one time is more a product of their secular, historical circumstances than their religion? And the corollary would then be that a change of their secular, historical circumstances would change their religious opinions.

Are Afghanis who grew up with war and exile since 1979 likely to have liberal opinions? When the “civilized” and “liberal” world established the Zionist entity on Palestinians’ land in 1947 and then ignored Palestinians’ appeals to liberal ideals for 50 years, is it surprising that many Palestinians have come to see those liberal ideals as false? Why did ISIS start in Iraq & Syria? Does the United States’s destruction of Iraq have anything to do with it?

Focusing on the religion of Islam allows United States “liberals” like Maher to completely ignore policies which have contributed to the circumstances which gave rise to illiberal beliefs among Muslims.

Secondly, I ask Maher what does he think good liberals should do with this information. Should they discriminate against Muslims in housing and employment? Should they support policies which kill large numbers of Muslims, like invasions of Muslim-majority countries and unconditional support for dictatorships which promise to suppress Islamists and for Israel, the majority of whose victims are Muslim? Should they regularly accost their Muslim friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers with criticisms of the religion of Islam? Should liberals oppose zoning of new masjids and private Muslim religious schools and cemeteries? Should they encourage popular culture portrayals of Muslims as bad people? Should liberals approve of any criticism of Muslims or of historical Muslim figures, regardless of their accuracy? Should liberals support ideological tests for immigration?

I’ll listen to atheists’ thoughtful criticism of Muslims, Islam, the Messenger Muhammad ﷺ and religion in general, but I won’t listen to them if they also support violations of Muslims’ human rights, like Sam Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In the course of writing this blog entry, I looked up other articles criticizing Bill Maher’s statements about Muslims. I did not use them, but I thought I’d include them below for reference.

Sonia Soraiya’s article ends with a passage worth contemplating:

I think Maher confuses compassion with idiocy. Compassion is a quality that has nothing to do with how smart or how right you are. It’s a quality that is at the root of not wanting to make generalizations, and at the root of wanting to say things that do not horrifically offend other systematically oppressed people. I fully believe that Maher doesn’t understand those well-meaning liberals, those politically correct assholes. I would just rather be one of them, I think, than to merely be right; I would like to be able to understand another point of view, from time to time. And especially on a day like yesterday, I would like to be able to feel compassion.

Bill Maher did in fact criticize the idea of a national registry for Muslims, although he did not explain why. I wonder if he would have done so had President Obama or candidate Hillary Clinton had proposed it instead of candidate Donald Trump.

Originally published on AymPlaying

Serpent-Tongued ‘Christian’ Michael Mawyers Dangerous Disinfo Debunked

10 April, 2017 - 20:58

By Jono Stubbings and Jonas Spooner

Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men Who devise evil things in their hearts; They continually stir up wars. They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; Poison of a viper is under their lips.

– Psalm 140

Michael Mawyer and his Christian Action Network (CAN) have taken up the crusade to redefine unchristian as a virtue. CAN are flagged by the SLPC as a hate-group; having first agitated against LGBT rights in the 90s and having only boarded the Islamophobia gravy-train relatively recently.  As the founder and President of CAN Mawyer draws a $175,000 salary from his hate-group-charity and in an act of nepotism that would make the Vatican blush CAN employs Mawyers wife, son and daughter. Mawyer’s latest hate-mongering hysterics can be purchased for $5.

Despite being roundly rejected by experts his latest attempts at naked and reckless scaremongering were predictably promoted (again) by Fox News.  Mawyer’s ludicrous claims of a Department of Education sponsored “indoctrination program” being met with nods from a gormless Tucker Carlson was an insult to journalism. A plastic spoon could scrape the surface of Mawyer’s alarmist claims which disingenuously conflate teaching ABOUT Islam with a government sponsored ‘creeping Sharia’  project to convert non-Muslim children.

Mawyer’s current target is Access Islam, an optional educational-aid provided online to assist teacher’s in educating their students ABOUT Islam. While it has received a DOE grant it is primarily funded by the Lily Endowment – which has a central Christian focus –  a fact which was surreptitiously omitted by Mawyer.

Access Islam urges teachers to read The First Amendment Center’s Teachers Guide – “a detailed guide for public school educators that clarifies the distinction between teaching religion and teaching ABOUT religion” and issues its only prerequisite: An introductory activity where students are informed:

  • The school’s approach to religion is academic, not devotional.
  • The school strives for student awareness of religion, but does not press for student acceptance of any religion.
  • The school sponsors study about religion, not the practice of religion.
  • The school may expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view.
  • The school educates about all religions; it does not promote or denigrate religion.
  • The school informs students about various beliefs; it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that this is absolutely Constitutional:

It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

From his early days of  ‘outing’ Hillary Clinton as a lesbian and railing against “disease-carrying homosexuals” he has rebranded his fear-mongering to appeal to the largest and most profitable audience. Like Anders Breivik, he made a pilgrimage to Britain to meet members of the EDL. While there he was refused re-entry to a London pub along with Robert Spencer and Douglas Murray due to his overly-vocal hatred the night before. Perhaps his most ludicrous claim yet came on Hannity where he insisted Muslims were hiding WMD in America:

Mawyer: They have weapons of mass destruction…

Hannity: What kind of weapons of mass destruction?

Mawyer: Well, in some cases I can’t uh, even tell you, Sean.

He exhibits a callous and disturbing indifference to the “collateral damage” and unintended consequences from his propaganda. With the help of Fox News and without the aid of any legitimate evidence Mawyer warned the nation of the Muslims of The America’s terrorist training compounds spanning America. In what could be a seen as the warning-shots to Christian terrorist Robert Doggart’s planned attacks on the MOA Community in New York thirteen shotgun blasts were fired into the MOA’s sign in their Virginia Community.

The Deputy Director of the MOA called out Mawyer and CAN specifically for his “lies” and instigating the violence against their community. The local Sheriff’s Office was explicit; Mawyer’s propaganda was baseless “These people are American citizens, have broken no laws, and there is absolutely no reason for this rogue militia group to harass them in any way,” he said.

The armed ‘patriot” militia in Virginia feared an impending MOA terror attack. This was entirely consistent with Doggart’s later motive to butcher innocent American Muslim children.

Robert Doggart planned to “annihilate” every Muslim he encountered and burn the Muslim enclave in rural Hancock, New York, to the ground. He revealed his plans to carry out the vigilante massacre to a confidante. From the FBI wiretap:

“We’re gonna be carrying an M4 with 500 rounds of ammunition, light armor piercing. A pistol with three extra magazines, and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.

‘When we meet in this state, the people we seek will know who we are. We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings (and) if anyone attempts to, uh, harm us in any way, our stand gunner will take them down from 350 yards away.”

So why, as the children of Islamberg reasonably ask, did Robert Doggart want to kill them?  The answer can be found in Doggart’s plea agreement – “The defendant justified his attack on lslamberg by claiming that the residents of Islamberg were planning a terrorist attack.”.

The Islamberg community’s attorney Tahirah H Clark attributes the foiled attacks to fear-mongering disinformation by Fox News, the disgraced fraudster Wayne Simmons and Clarion’s own “expert” Ryan Mauro – A SLPC-listed “anti-Muslim extremist” who’d formerly worked with CAN.

The reality of life at Islamberg is world’s away from the vapid hate-mongering of Clarion and CAN reveals Capt. James Barnes of the New York State, who has had a 12-year personal relationship with the residents of Islamberg and who slams the fabricated threat. “I think there is a lot of misinformation that is out there, certainly on the Internet“, he says. Islamberg residents describe a peaceful and tolerant refuge for Muslims to escape from bigotry.

Craig Dumond, from the Delaware County Sheriff’s office also completely refuted the claims by Clarion’s Mauro on Fox. His office has been dealing with Muslim community there for decades and not once have they received a single complaint regarding armed guards. He also reveals that the after viewing the Clarion Project video his office believes that the footage “doesn’t come from anywhere near Hancock. “It’s a non-issue” Dumond says.

Conjuring up issues from “non-issues” and turning a profit appears to be Michael Mawyer’s raison d’etre; preying on the ignorant rather than praying to his God.

The residents of MOA are as demonstrably peaceful as Access Islam are Constitutional. Constitutional and extremely positive. In a climate of surging anti-Muslim hate-crimes and ISIS lone-wolf  terrorism educating the next generation ABOUT Islam and their Muslim neighbours is vital to the advancement of a healthy, pluralist society.

Muslims are the main Victims of Terrorism

8 April, 2017 - 05:07


Muslims are victims of radical Islamic terrorism too. As a matter of fact most victims of this terror are Muslims. Many more Muslims worldwide die from their bombs than Europeans or Americans. And, by the way, many of the American and Europeans that die in attacks are Muslims too.

In 2011 the National Counterterrorism Center stated that 82 to 97% of all victims of terrorism were Muslims. The reason the figure is uncertain is that we dont know for sure the exact religious affiliation of every victim.  But we know where the terrorattacks occur and that is revealing.

BBC wrote in 2014

”Between 2004-2013, the UK suffered 400 terrorist attacks, mostly in Northern Ireland, and almost all of them were non-lethal. The US suffered 131 attacks, fewer than 20 of which were lethal. France suffered 47 attacks. But in Iraq, there were 12,000 attacks and 8,000 of them were lethal.”

The German magazine Der Spiegel had an interesting article some years ago where they showed that 80% of the victims of attacks by Al-Qaeda 2004-2008 were muslims.

”Between 2004 and 2008, for example, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for 313 attacks, resulting in the deaths of 3,010 people. And even though these attacks include terrorist incidents in the West — in Madrid in 2004 and in London in 2005 — only 12 percent of those killed (371 deaths) were Westerners.”

The same thing with ISIS. If you look at the operations by ISIS in Iraq 2014 you find that thousand of people were killed, most of them muslims, sunni as well as shia.

”In the first eight months of 2014 Isis was the “primary actor” responsible for the deaths of 9,347 civilians in Iraq.”

In short

Of 167,221 terrorism-related fatalities reported from 2001 to 2015, almost all — 163,532 or 98 percent — occurred outside the United States and Western Europe, according to the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. The U.S. government-funded GTD is the world’s largest public database on terrorist attacks…

GTD data on 25 Muslim-majority countries from Iraq to Malaysia reveal that these countries account for 75 percent of all fatalities from terrorist attacks from that period. The United States and Western Europe, with a combined 3,689 fatalities — including 2,977 from the attacks of September 11, 2001 — account for just 2.2 percent of terrorism-related deaths during the period.

The myths that all Muslims are terrorists and support terror are racist myths. Muslims are the main target of radical Islamistic terror and have every reason to be afraid of extremism. 


Theresa May Didn’t “Refuse” Saudi Leaders On Hijab Headscarf

6 April, 2017 - 19:01

Theresa May, the conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did not make some “bold feminist” stand against the Saudi leadership by not donning the hijab or headscarf when she visited the kingdom. May, was simply dressing as many other female leaders have while visiting Saudi Arabia. (h/t: MEND community)

Theresa May has worn the hijab when visiting mosques in the UK:

All of this stupidity obscures the real problems in the UK-Saudi relationship: the carte blanche support the UK gives to Saudi Arabia in terms of military sales and diplomatic cover as it pummels Yemen and aides transnational “Salafi-jihadi” organizations.

Hindutva Activists Care More About Cows Than Humans

5 April, 2017 - 22:00

Hindutva “art”

Is India now a nation that reveres cows more than it does human beings? In India you can be killed on the allegation that you are eating or selling cows. Ironically enough India is also the largest exporter of beef in the world.

A Muslim man has died in western India after he was attacked by hundreds of Hindu cow protection vigilantes, the latest attack in a spate of mob killings in the name of the revered animal.

Police said on Wednesday that Pehlu Khan, 55, had died in hospital two days after a group attacked his cattle truck on a road in Alwar in the desert state of Rajasthan.

Gangs of “cow protectors” have been implicated in killing at least 10 people in the past two years as the welfare of the animal has become an increasingly charged issue in Indian politics.

Cows are revered by most of India’s majority Hindu community and beef consumption is permitted in only eight of the country’s 29 states and territories.

Read the entire article

Hindutva, is a Hindu nationalist movement with various strains of thought and political tendencies that was formed to impose a Hindu Rashtra (state) across India.

Myanmar Demolishes 200 Year Old Rohingya Mosque

5 April, 2017 - 21:39

Rohingya news sites, activists and social media users have been sharing reports that a landmark Rohingya mosque that is over 200 years old and predates British colonialism was demolished by Myanmar’s military. The state of Myanmar has systematically demolished Rohingya historic sites since the 1940s.

Buthidaung — A 200-year old historical mosque in Buthidaung Township was bulldozed by the Myanmar military on April 3, 2017.

It was located at the village of ‘Lawei Dek’ in Buthidaung and was built even before the British before the British occupation of Arakan, according to the local folklore.

“During the British time, there existed shops and bazaar at the both sides of the road nearby the Masjid. It was known as ‘Botoli Bazaar.’ The mosque was closed by the authorities only in the mid-1990s.

“But yesterday, the military from a battalion from a battalion nearby ‘Lawei Dek’ arrived with a bulldozer and razed the mosque,” said an elderly Rohingya man in Buthidaung.

Although the Myanmar government claims of putting its best efforts to end the crisis in the Arakan state, the Rohingya people are suffering from the persecution at all fronts including restrictions to freedom of worship. Majority of their places of worships have officially remained closed since June 2012.

Different Myanmar regimes throughout history have involved in systematic demolitions of the Rohingya historical monuments.

 [Edited by M.S. Anwar]

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya suffered for decades under a brutal military regime in Myanmar, and now despite a “democratically” elected civilian government headed by so-called “human rights icon” Aung San Suu Kyi, the “slow-burning” genocide (as one Burmese scholar described it several years ago) has accelerated.

From October 2016 until February 2017, the Myanmar military conducted a horrific “clearance operation” targeting the Rohingya that displaced nearly 100,000. Reports and action alerts by rights groups, Rohingya activists and media organizations have been sounding the alarm to war crimes and ‘crimes against humanity’ for years now. These calls while gaining some attention have failed to garner the requisite awareness in proportion to the magnitude of the issue; it often gets swept under the carpet.

The UN recently published the most damning and devastating report on the Myanmar military’s crimes against Rohingya that I have ever read. The response has been one of categorical dismay from many who were unaware of the Rohingya cause.

Sam Harris’ Taqiyya

4 April, 2017 - 21:11

By Jonas Spooner

George Orwell, introduced The Ministry of Truth’s colloquially named ‘memory hole’ in the work 1984. His novel described the process where hidden from view the Ministry would destroy records of past realities so as to better reflect the propaganda of the day. Today, two decades post Orwell’s dystopian future, the new atheist ideologue Sam Harris has developed his own memory hole for the digital age; he secretly edits his own published works.

The most recent known case of this unethical practice is the transcript of a discussion Harris had in 2014 with author Andrew Sullivan which was published on Harris’ site. Harris made the following claim in the original:  “In fact, there is a doctrine of deception within Islam called Taqiyya, wherein lying to infidels has been decreed a perfectly ethical way of achieving one’s goals”. The current doctored version has been secretly altered. Harris gives no indication to his readers of the transcript’s post hoc edit. His asinine “Taqiyya” slur against Muslims at-large has gone down the memory hole.

This questionable practice is known as “scrubbing” and runs contrary to all universally accepted journalistic codes of conducts. For example, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Conduct states that:

“Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public…Journalists should…Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly”

While Harris’s description conjures up images of swarthy and villainous Arab Muslims guided by their religion to cheat the Jews through Taqiyya, the reality is rather different.  Taqiyya is interpreted differently by the various Islamic sects, loonwatch has written several articles on the topic you can read here and here. Its essence is akin to the Jewish George Soros surviving the holocaust through passing himself off as a Christian. The Islamic Dictionary defines it thusly:

“Dissimulation – to conceal, partially conceal or disguise one’s true feelings, beliefs or information when there is threat of death or serious harm and when there is a threat of great evil.

Harris appears to draw on anti-Muslim extremist Robert Spencer’s erroneous taqiyya definition wherein dastardly Muslims are mandated by their evil religion to deceive the infidel. This would be unsurprising as Harris believes that the man banned from Britain has a unique role to play in this war of ideasand Spencer is just one of the many right-wing kooks and bigots that have littered the pages of Breivik’s manifesto that Harris considers fellow-travellers.

Canadian Spencer-a-like Ezra Levant was successfully sued for libel for falsely conflating taqiyya with lying in a series of attacks he made on a Muslim student.

This now uncorrected but (unethically) scrubbed error of the dishonest Muslim stereotype is shamelessly used as the basis for Harris towing the Israeli-Right’s line of “no genuine partner for peace” amongst the Palestinians. The reality, even according to pro-Israel American diplomats involved in the negotiations, is that the Palestinians were bending-over-backwards with concessions while the Israelis acted in bad faith throughout and continued to expand their illegal settlements.

Harris’ adoption of the Israeli-Right’s narrative is predictable. Ironically, given his obsession with the lack of honesty in the Muslim world, Harris sanctifies the outed Neocon war propagandist Christopher Hitchens and is a donor to the Israeli-Intelligence linked MEMRI who amongst their other transgressions doctored a Norman Finkelstein interview to portray him as a Holocaust denier.

The Taqiyya incident wasn’t Harris’ first venture into the unethical world of scrubbing. He had previously secretly deleted his demand that American Muslims be “ethnically-profiled”:

  • May 25 2011: Sam Harris launches a diatribe against Muslims entitled “Bombing Our Illusions” in which he openly calls for the “ethnic profiling” of Muslims. It is published in The Huffington Post.  He calls for no compromise on not only Muslims being ethnically profiled by the State but insists Muslims must also profile their fellow Muslims within their communities.
  • 2011-2015: Harris repeatedly speaks out of both sides of his mouth on the issue of racial/ethnic profiling, often contradicting himself. (“Ethnic” profiling is “racial” profiling ). March 12, 2015: Arthur Chu of Salon denigrates Harris for his advancement of “Islamophobic racism”. He attacks Harris for his “racial profiling” advocacy.
  • Between March 8th and March 20, 2015: The Web Archive shows that  Sam Harris secretly edited his website to remove his call to “ethnically profile” Muslims. No notification is given to his audience of this amendment occurring four years after Bombing Our Illusions was first published.
  • March 16, 2016: Harris’ secret editing is spotted by a Twitter user.
  • April 2016: Caught red-handed, Harris excuses himself for his lack of transparency. He publishes “his editorial policy

As a cult-figurehead Sam Harris has profited handsomely from his projection of self as quasi-infallible to his dogmatic and mouth-foaming herd. Harris’ memory hole functions for the same purpose as The Party’s memory hole in Oceania – To preserve the all-knowing status and associated power. His ignorant followers, ill-equipped to see through sophistry, need to be informed by Harris himself if he has mistakenly been spreading anti-Muslim tropes and advocating racist policies.