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The Problem with Irshad Manji

30 May, 2014 - 22:52


Original guest post

By Steven Zhou

From Cleaver to Manji:

By the 1980s, the former black power activist Eldridge Cleaver had completed his transformation from an outspoken radical to a Bible-quoting conservative Republican. Having served time in jail for rape in the 1960s, Cleaver became Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. After a period of exile overseas, he returned to the U.S., embraced Mormonism, and in 1986, tried to seek the Republican nomination in California to become a senator—and lost.

Despite his many personal and political failures, Cleaver clung onto his eventual claim-to-fame as a reformed black radical who stopped participating in what was portrayed as an “extremist” movement. He characterized his former murderous hatred for Ronald Reagan and “white America” as the kind of emotion that animated the black power movement. So he moved on and became an anti-welfare Republican.

Regardless of what one thinks of his remarkable about-face, Cleaver’s trajectory affected the American public’s perception on race by drawing a line within the African American community. The line separated those “good blacks” who didn’t want to alienate systems of power, from the “radicals” who believed that state power couldn’t be trusted. It’s an old story: the right kind of minority versus the wrong kind. Cleaver represented the former camp, “dissidents” who are able to denounce their radical counterparts and embody an image of moderation.

But the black community isn’t the only one to have experienced such a phenomenon. Similar to the way Cleaver helped the American public distinguish good blacks from bad ones in the 1960s, there are figures in today’s post-9/11 West that fulfill a similar function. The playing field has changed, as have the players, but it’s still the same game. The game is fear, and in the 21st century, the most fashionable kind of fear is, of course, the fear of the Muslim (and of Islam). There has been no shortage of figures to fulfill the Cleaver-esque role of the “good Muslim,” a lone voice of dissent in a sea of “extreme backwardness.”

In that sense, there is no better Muslim in this day and age than the irrepressible Canadian writer and TV personality named Irshad Manji.

Filling the Vacuum:

A vacuum of frustration and confusion within the Western public was just one of 9/11’s painfully entrenched legacies. Anger at the murder of over 3000 people in downtown Manhattan prompted public discourse in the West to focus on Islam and Muslims. The imagery of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, so alien to Western sensitivities, fulfilled a part of that vacuum in a seemingly inevitable way. Others who became “experts” on Islam in short order also jumped at the opportunity to explain the religion to the masses via sound bites and newspaper columns.

Among them is Irshad Manji, who, along with a host of other individuals, has taken the opportunity to explain Islam in a way that squares with the public’s crudest ideological assumptions. It’s indeed difficult in retrospect to imagine a public sphere in the immediate post-9/11 years tolerated anyone who could explain the religion without hostility.

Self-identifying as a Muslim, Manji’s critiques not only aligned her with the times, but also inherited the kind of credibility that only a “Muslim refusenik” can provide.  She often uses the term “refusenik” to demarcate herself as one of the few Muslim voices that refuses to “join an army of robots in the name of God.” By “robot army” she means all of mainstream Islam as practiced throughout the world, upheld by key institutions, and cutting across geographical and ethnic lines. With this as her starting point, Manji’s “refusenik” status was solidified for good after the 2004 publication of her much talked about book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in her Faith, (originally, simply titled The Trouble with Islam) which has been translated into 30 languages. It was lauded across the board by so many in the Western press who fear a rising “Muslim threat.”

Without going into the 1400 or so years of Islamic scholarship and thought that have grappled with the revelatory content of the Holy Quran and Prophetic traditions, Manji neatly presents to the world the state of Islam as she sees it. And as the world has come to expect, unfortunately, it’s not a pretty sighte: intolerance, domestic abuse, petty sectarianism, etc. The picture she paints is a reflection of public fears. Having confirmed this, Manji also consolidated her own position as a foremost dissident in the Islamic world, courageous enough to shun orthodoxy and interpret scripture on her own. A modern day Martin Luther of sorts.

A closer look at how Manji constructs her arguments (insofar as they can be referred to as such) reveals that her conception of the Muslim world doesn’t amount to much more than an extrapolation of her own (mostly bad) experiences with it. It’s a sporadically anecdotal account. Her negative experiences with family members who were supposed to be good Muslims and her frustrating encounters with mosques and Islamic schooling, combined with a host of other disillusionments, led her to conclude that Islam as a system of interpretation and understanding needs to be changed. It follows, then, that the mainstream Muslim community also needs to be fixed (hence The Problem with Islam Today), and it’s “reformers” like her who should lead the effort.

Nevermind the Facts:

Parts of the Muslim community in North America and Europe have since caught up and tried to explicate, with data and evidence, that the Muslim world is not “one big family of backward barbarism.” Over the years, many leaders within the Muslim community with gigantic followings have made convincing arguments that disrupt the received notion that violence, sexism, and intolerance are the central characteristics of Islamic orthodoxy.

In a 2008 public conversation with analyst and commentator Dalia Mogahed at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Manji was simply unable to counter Mogahed’s argument that Muslim extremists reside outside the magisterium of mainline Muslim scholarship. That is, extremist violence doesn’t jibe with orthodox Islamic jurisprudence as honed over a thousand years inside traditional schools of thought.

As the Chair of Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies at the time, Mogahed also led serious surveys of the global Muslim population. The findings directly contradict the broad-brush portrayal of lived Islam as a cesspool of intolerance and extremism, characterized mainly by violence and hatred for women. That much was clear enough even for George Bush, who had the sense to seek advice from American Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf in lieu of the “War On Terror.” It’s probably safe to say though that the ex-President didn’t take Yusuf’s words too seriously.

The more interesting phenomenon here is how the post-9/11 climate was affected by Manji’s (and other “refuseniks,” Islamophobes, etc.) self-characterization as a Muslim dissident who, against all odds, had the guts to be liberal and independent. The empirical evidence, as it turns out, are stacked up against her. Muslim communities in the West don’t criticize her because she’s too “pro-West.” They criticize her for reinforcing those broad stereotypes that have become so entrenched in the post-9/11 era, and for casting herself as a dissident reformer when she hasn’t proved that Muslim communities around the world need her version of “reform.”

Islam and Public Opinion:

There’s not much overlap between the post-9/11 era and the 1960s and 70s, but Eldridge Cleaver and Irshad Manji share the ability to brand themselves in the most conformist ways with respect to the conventional wisdom of their times. In that sense, they belong in the same ignoble tradition of dishonest self-aggrandizement at the expense of critiquing concentrated power.

They draw a circle around themselves small enough to make the public believe that they’re dissidents, dividing their communities into the “acceptable” and the “extreme.” They keep such a division legitimate in the eyes of the public by peddling old, played-out stereotypes.

Meanwhile, the actual grievances of the community they say they belong to become overshadowed by the assumptions made about them—assumptions that the likes of Manji help reinforce. By juxtaposing themselves against the false portrayals that they help erect, the public is taught to revere their “refusenik” attitude.

Hucksters and charlatans are good at influencing public opinion if those with better answers and explanations don’t effectively strategize to breakthrough the media and cultural blackout of mainstream Muslim voices. Islamophobes capitalize on peoples worries and confusion in the post-9/11 era, wondering if Muslims really are as bad as they are portrayed on television and in movies. If mainstream Muslim institutions and their allies in the fight against xenophobia and marginalization don’t take this battle for public opinion with a serious sense of urgency, the likes of Irshad Manji will continue to fill the public void for them.

The praise and success Manji has received for her “dissenting” position outweighs any resulting backlash. Dissent is supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to anger mainstream society by casting doubt over entrenched assumptions. Manji doesn’t represent this kind of doubt. Her legacy is built on her alignment with the most popular of unquestioned suppositions.

Steven Zhou graduated from Carleton University with a Masters of Journalism and went on to work for the CBC and The Ottawa Citizen as a reporter. His writings have also appeared on The Globe and Mail, Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, and J-Source, among other publications.

Michael Piggin trial collapses after jury fails to reach verdicts

30 May, 2014 - 18:49

Michael-Piggin-graffiti-and-gun Michael Piggin trial collapses after jury fails to reach verdicts

A teenager accused of plotting a Columbine-inspired massacre at his former school in Loughborough has walked free from court after the collapse of his third trial. The jury in the trial of Michael Piggin, 18, failed to reach a verdict after deliberating for nearly 60 hours over 12 days at the Old Bailey in London.

Prosecutors said immediately afterwards that they would not seek a further retrial of the teenager, who first faced court last October, accused of planning to carry out a murderous attack on his former school, a cinema, a mosque and a council office near his home in the Midlands.

Piggin had earlier pleaded guilty to stockpiling weapons, including petrol bombs and component parts of pipe bombs, but consistently denied he intended to carry out an attack. The collapse of the third trial meant Piggin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was free to leave the dock of the Old Bailey on Friday afternoon, although he must return to the court on 13 June to be sentenced for possessing explosives.

Over 10 weeks of evidence, the trial heard how Piggin allegedly drew up tactics for what he called “Operation: The New Columbine” in a notebook emblazoned with a Nazi swastika and the face of Che Guevara. The notebook allegedly contained a “hit list” which included his former school, a mosque, a cinema and other buildings among his supposed targets.

Piggin came to the attention of police by chance in February 2012, when he was arrested over a schoolboy skirmish and officers carried out a routine search of his bedroom. Behind his Liverpool football club curtains, detectives found a machete, a high-powered crossbow and catapult, airguns, a gas mask, flak jacket, small gas cylinders, adapted plastic pipes and tubes and an envelope containing fuse wire, the court heard.

Giving evidence in April, the quietly spoken teenager admitted he had a “strong interest in mass killings” but denied planning to carry out an attack, saying it was only a fantasy to help him cope with bullying. He said he had drawn up a hit list because “it got that stuff off my mind”.

Dressed in a blue hooded top and an Arctic Monkeys T-shirt, Piggin said he could relate to the Columbine high school killers because of the bullying – but insisted he never planned to carry out a similar operation. “There were similarities with the bullying but that was pretty much where it stopped,” he said.

He said he kept weapons because he thought it was cool and “didn’t have a problem with Muslims in general”, despite his neo-Nazi salutes and daubing of anti-Mosque graffiti outside a Loughborough leisure centre.

He never genuinely believed he would be a martyr, he admitted. “Deep down I knew it wouldn’t happen,” he told jurors.

The collapse of a third trial will raise questions for police and prosecutors. At his first trial, before he turned 18, jurors were discharged after failing to reach verdicts. A second trial, in March, collapsed within days when two jurors had to be discharged.

The fresh jury of six men and four women which had been deliberating since 13 May was discharged on Friday afternoon after being unable to reach verdicts. Prosecutor Gareth Patterson told the court: “If this jury cannot return verdicts that will be the conclusion of proceedings.”

Guardian, 30 May 2014

See also “Michael Piggin terror retrial: Jury fails to reach verdict”, BBC News, 30 May 2014

Michael Piggin bedroom

How Do I Tell My Daughter That People Across Europe Fear Minorities Like Us?

29 May, 2014 - 19:46

Mehdi_Hasan How Do I Tell My Daughter That People Across Europe Fear Minorities Like Us?

By Mehdi Hasan (Huffington Post)

In 2006, at the height of the hysteria over the face veil, the Guardian‘s Jonathan Freedland imagined what it must be like to be a Muslim in Britain. “I wouldn’t just feel frightened,” he wrote. “I would be looking for my passport.”

On Sunday, as the European election results began to flood in, with far-right parties on the march from Scandinavia to the Club Med, I joked with my (American) wife that we might have to start packing our bags and head across the pond.

Hundreds of column inches have been devoted to explaining how austerity economics, democratic deficits and mass immigration have helped bolster the continent’s far-right fanatics and neo-Nazi nutters. Our politicians and pundits have been less keen, however, to discuss the Islam-sized elephant in the room: what unites Europe’s far-right parties perhaps more than any other issue is their fear and loathing of people such as my wife and me.

Take the Front National, which won the European elections in France. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, bangs on about the “progressive Islamisation” of her country and compares Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France. Consider also the Danish People’s Party, which topped the polls in Denmark. Its founder Pia Kjærsgaard refers to Islam as a “political movement” and claims that the Quran teaches Muslims “to lie and deceive, cheat and swindle”.

How about the Finns Party, which doubled the number of its MEPs? The senior MEP, Jussi Halla-aho, has accused Islam of “sanctifying paedophilia” and a Finns councillor called Amon Rautiainen has called for Muslims to be “boiled alive”. In neighbouring Sweden, the populist Swedish Democrats gained their first two MEPs. The party’s leader, Jimmie Åkesson, once referred to Muslims in Sweden as “the biggest foreign threat since World War II”.

Here in Britain, there is Ukip, which is equally obsessed with Islam. Nigel Farage supports a ban on the burqa; Ukip’s chief whip, Gerard Batten, wants to stop the building of mosques; its former leader Lord Pearson has claimed “the Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us”. In recent weeks, Ukip candidates were shown to have accused Muslims of “grooming” children to be “sex slaves” and claimed that “anyone who does not fear Islam is a fool”.

In some respects, Muslims are the new Jews of Europe. The vile shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 24 May, in which three people were killed, might make this statement sound odd. Anti-Jewish attacks are indeed on the rise in Europe, which is deplorable and depressing, but thankfully anti-Semitism is now taboo in mainstream political discourse in a way in which Islamophobia isn’t. These days, most anti-Semitic attacks are carried out by second-generation Arabs and are linked to anger over Israeli policies. Anshel Pfeffer, of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, acknowledged this in his report on the Brussels museum attack: “Some of the far-right parties in Belgium, such as Vlaams Belang, have actually tried to transform their image and hide their anti-Semitic legacy, professing to be friendly to Jews and supportive of Israel.”

Yet Islamophobia has gone mainstream. So it is time to ask my fellow Britons: is there a future for my family and me on this continent? I’m a proud British citizen, born and raised here, not to mention an ardent Europhile; my seven-year-old daughter is counting down the days until she can watch England play in the World Cup.

Nevertheless, Muslims are bombarded with hostile headlines and subjected to verbal or physical attacks on a near-daily basis. Social media has emboldened an army of online Islamophobes; in the real world, mosques have been firebombed and politicians line up to condemn Muslim terrorism/clothing/meat/seating arrangements.

It is establishment parties that helped pave the way for the Muslim bashers of the “new” far right. In France, it was Nicolas Sarkozy, not Marine Le Pen, who declared that halal meat was “the issue that most preoccupies the French”. In Germany, it was a Social Democratic Party politician, Thilo Sarrazin, who published a book claiming that Muslim immigrants were inferior to everyone else. And, here in the UK, it was a Labour immigration minister, Phil Woolas, not Nigel Farage, who published election pamphlets accusing his Lib Dem opponents of working with “militant Muslims” and whose advisers circulated emails discussing the “need… to explain to the white community how the Asians will take him out”.

Meanwhile, poll after poll shows Europeans worrying about the spread of Islam – despite Gallup finding that European Muslims are as patriotic as their non-Muslim peers (and, in the case of the UK, more so!). Three out of four people in France say that “Islam is incompatible with French society”. Only 22% of Germans think Islam is part of German society. Just over half of Britons – 52% – believe “Muslims create problems in the UK”.

How do I explain these polls, and these election results, to my British-born, England-supporting daughter? Should I worry for her safety? Or am I being paranoid?

If only. Next year is the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Eight thousand Bosnian Muslim men and boys were lined up and shot in the heart of Europe. It was the worst genocide on the continent since the Second World War and was made possible by a far-right campaign of demonisation and dehumanisation. I wish I could believe the mantra of “never again”. But these European election results fill me with dread.

Mehdi Hasan is the political director of the Huffington Post UK and a contributing writer for the New Statesman, where this article is crossposted

Rabbi David Lapin’s Bizarre Rant About “Feminine Liberalism” and “Islamic Masculinity”

29 May, 2014 - 19:30

Daniel-Lapin Daniel Lapin Discusses How ‘Feminine’ Liberals ‘Lay Themselves Down Before Masculine Strength’ Of Islam


On Sunday, the Religious Right movement’s favorite rabbi, Daniel Lapin, devoted a segment of his weekly radio show to “liberalism’s love affair with Islam,” part of a running theme among right-wing activists about a purported alliance between progressives and radical Islamists. Lapin said that unlike conservatism, “liberalism is incredibly feminine” and as a result “loves [the] hard masculinity” found in Islam.

“If there is one thing that Islam has proven itself to be, certainly in recent years and even longer ago than that, it is very masculine, it is violent, it is aggressive, it is dominating and it is very firm and very confident and very sure of itself, all of these very masculine characteristics,” Lapin said.

“I believe that liberalism is drawn to it, I think liberals want to be seduced by Islam, I think liberals lay themselves down before masculine strength,” he said, continuing with the sexual analogy. “There is a reason that it is biologically impossible for a woman to rape a man, it can’t be done. And I do believe that a good deal of liberalism’s supine nature with respect to Islam, liberalism’s docility in the face of Islam, has to do with a deep desire to yield to strength.”

‘Jihad’ against Cadbury’s? The only threats of violence are against Muslims

28 May, 2014 - 21:41

Cadbury-Malaysia ‘Jihad’ against Cadbury’s? The only threats of violence are against Muslims

The Daily Mail and Telegraph have both run stories, originating in the Malay Mail, about the indignation expressed at a press conference yesterday by some Muslim leaders in Malaysia over allegations that Cadbury’s chocolate has been found to contain traces of porcine DNA.

The Mail headed its report: “Jihad declared on Cadbury by Malaysian Muslims after pork DNA batches”. The Telegraph originally went with the more neutral “Islamic groups angry at Cadbury Malaysia after two batches found to contain pork DNA”, before deciding this wasn’t hard-hitting enough and amending it to “Malaysian Muslim groups call for jihad on Cadbury after pork traces found in chocolate”.

The shock-horror element in both of these reports is achieved by translating jihad as “holy war” rather than the more accurate term “struggle”, in order to suggest that Cadbury’s has been threatened with violence. There was in fact a single Muslim spokesperson at the press conference, one Ustaz Masridzi Sat, who spoke about declaring jihad, and I very much doubt that physical attacks on chocolate factories were what he had in mind.

Also, another leading Malaysian Muslim, Dr Asri Zainul Abidin, has come out with a balanced statement arguing that people are quite entitled to protest against the contamination of their food but it’s necessary to get things in proportion, and there are more serious issues than pork-tainted chocolate for Muslims to take up in Malaysia. Needless to say, although this is from the same source as the original report, you can guarantee the right-wing press in the UK won’t be telling its readers about that.

While it would appear that nobody is in fact proposing to attack Cadbury, press coverage of this story has predictably provoked actual calls for violence … against Muslims. On the English Defence League’s Facebook page, along with the usual Islamophobic abuse, one supporter has responded to the Mail‘s report by posting a call to “Burn all the rag heads”.

Eurofascists on the March

28 May, 2014 - 01:22


Not an untypical reaction in the looniverse to the rise of fascists and Neo-Nazis in Europe has been the rantings of BareNakedIslam, who can always be counted on to provide the unflitered, demented thoughts of racists and Islamophobes worldwide.

Today, what it means to be “European” for many Europeans is anti-Muslim and xenophobic, but then again for those who’ve been following Loonwatch the results of the elections aren’t surprising.

‘This is an earthquake’: The far-right rises as EU elections signal a massive shift across Europe

European voters have delivered “an earthquake,” says France’s prime minister, with the dramatic rise of right-wing, Euroskeptic parties. Partial returns from the 28-nation European Parliament elections show an unprecedented surge by Euroskeptics and outright anti-EU politicians. The results have sent national political party leaders scrambling with France’s ruling Socialist party holding a crisis meeting and Britain’s Conservatives rethinking their strategy for next year’s general election. “European politics will be different from today on,” said Doru Frantescu, policy director and co-founder of VoteWatch Europe, an independent Brussels-based organization.

So who were the big winners and losers?

The winners

In France, the anti-EU, far-right National Front party led by Marine Le Pen got one in four votes, the best showing by any of the country’s parties. The Socialists were holding emergency meetings to discuss the results. The breakthrough dealt a further blow to President Francois Hollande, the least popular leader in France’s modern history. Proclaiming “politics of the French, for the French, with the French,” Ms. Le Pen said the election was a “humiliation” for Mr. Hollande.

 AFP PHOTO / Leon Neal

AFP PHOTO / Leon NealUK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage celebrates at a pub in central London on May 26, 2014. His UK Independence Party (UKIP) topped the poll inBRITAIN
With most of the seats declared in Britain, Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (UKIP) had 27.5% of the vote, the main opposition Labour Party 25%, the Conservatives 24%. Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out a coalition with UKIP. Mr. Farage said it was the most stunning election upset in 100 years.GREECE
Voters in Greece, handed first place and six seats to the anti-establishment Syriza party that campaigned against fiscal austerity policies. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party came second but the Nationalist Golden Dawn party, whose leader and five other lawmakers are in prison pending trial on charges of running a criminal organization, jumped to third place, with 9.4 percent of the vote. The result gives them three seats.


EPA / PAWEL SUPERNAKThe leader of The New Right Congress, Janusz Korwin-Mikke (C), reacts after EU elections exit polls in Warsaw, Poland, 25 May 2014.

In Poland, marginal anti-EU politician Janusz Korwin-Mikke was elected to the parliament after declaring that it corrupts politicians and should be turned into a brothel.

Podemos, a new movement that grew out of street demonstrations against politicians and banks, won five seats.

The losers

Initial exit polls from the Netherlands showed a setback for Geert Wilders’s anti-EU Freedom Party, which may have come in fourth after targeting a first-place finish.

AP Photo / Gregorio Borgia

AP Photo / Gregorio BorgiaBeppe Grillo, leader of the Five Stars Movement, delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Rome on Friday, May 23, 2014, preceding the EU Parliament elections on May 25.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, led by former comic Beppe Grillo, was defeated by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party.

Angela Merkel’s conservatives were the strongest force in Germany winning with 36% of the vote, but that was down from 42% in last year’s national election. The anti-euro Alternative for Germany party — which is only a year old — won about 7% of the vote. Ms. Merkel called the rise of the Euroskeptics “regrettable.”

European elections in Britain.

No, Iranian Actress Leila Hatami is Not Facing A Public Flogging

27 May, 2014 - 20:37

Leila_Hatami The Media Claims Iranian Actress Leila Hatami Is About to Be Flogged, But Here’s the Real Story

By Sasha von Oldershausen (Policymic)
If Western media headlines are anything to judge, the public flogging of award-winning actress Leila Hatami is imminent in her native Iran, after photos emerged of her kissing the Cannes film festival president on the cheek.

“Iran’s top actress facing public flogging after she kissed male Cannes film festival boss on the cheek,” reported the Daily Mail. 

The Kiss That Sent Iran Crazy and the Actress in A Separation to Be Flogged in Public,” tweeted the Daily Beast.

But contrary to what the headlines say, Hatami isn’t facing a public flogging. Let’s get some facts straight:

The photo of Hatami — best known for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s Academy Award-winning film A Separation — kissing Gilles Jacob on the cheek, did draw criticism from Iranian authorities.

Iran’s deputy culture minister Hossein Noushabadi said, “Those who attend international events should take heed of the credibility and chastity of Iranians, so that a bad image of Iranian women will not be demonstrated to the world.” He added that Hatami’s behavior was “not in line with our religious beliefs,” reported Al-Jazeera.

No mention of a public flogging here. The calls that have the Western media up in arms came from a small group of conservative female students seeking legal action against the actress. The students called for Hatami to serve jail time, as well as to receive lashings, according to Iranian website Tasnim News.

But take this with a grain of salt. The calls of these students are not newsworthy.

Hatami has since apologized for the incident, saying that 83-year-old Jacob forgot the appropriate protocol for greeting her, and added that “he is certainly like an old grandfather who was also my host.”

This whole incident is yet another example of how stories from Iran are sensationalized in the Western media. What one group of hardline students believes by no means reflects Iranian society at large.

Read the rest…

While the article states that Hatami “apologized,” one Iranian commenter writes,

“She has just expressed regret if sentiments have been hurt and it goes without saying that, at least in Farsi, it has a totally different connotation from apologizing.”

Barack Obama doesn’t know if he’s Muslim or Christian, claims Islam hate row cleric James McConnell

27 May, 2014 - 19:34

 Pastor James McConnell has caused controversy with his anti-Islam sermon and by describing President Obama a “patchwork quilt” who doesn’t know if he’s a Christian or Muslim.

Up in arms: Pastor James McConnell has caused controversy with his anti-Islam sermon and by describing President Obama a “patchwork quilt” who doesn’t know if he’s a Christian or Muslim.

Barack Obama doesn’t know if he’s Muslim or Christian, claims Islam hate row cleric James McConnell

(Belfast Telegraph)

The Northern Ireland pastor at the centre of a race hate row has now hit out at US President Barack Obama.

Pastor James McConnell has labelled Mr Obama a “patchwork quilt” who doesn’t know if he’s a Christian or Muslim.

He has also claimed the PSNI would be “stupid” to make a martyr of him by putting him in jail over his controversial sermon at his Whitewell Tabernacle Church in north Belfast last weekend.

The 76-year-old preacher sparked furore with his sermon condemning Islam as “heathen and satanic” and a “doctrine spawned in hell’.

The PSNI is investigating whether he committed a hate crime in the sermon broadcast online in which said he didn’t trust Muslims.

As the row rumbles an unrepentant Pastor McConnell spoke to Sunday Life this weekend and warned of ‘God’s people’ rising up if he is jailed over his sermon.

During the interview he questioned the US President’s faith, saying: “Sure we don’t know what the President of the United States is, he’s like a patchwork quilt.

“One minute he’s a Muslim the next minute he’s Christian, I don’t think he knows what he is.”


Health Minister Edwin Poots and fellow DUP MLA Sammy Wilson have backed the veteran preacher in recent days as he faced down criticism of the language he used in his sermon.

The defiant preacher continues to reject calls for him to apologise and refuses to back down, saying: “Nobody is going to close my mouth, Islam is dangerous.”

He was dismissive of the PSNI’s ‘hate crime’ inquiry, saying: “If they want to rap my door they know where I live.

“I’ve dealt with the police all my life, they’ll not put me in jail. If the do they’ll make a martyr out of me, it would be stupid of them.

“If they did put me in jail God’s people would rise up, they’ll rise up against them.”

During his thundering sermon last Sunday, he said: “Today we see powerful evidence that more and more of Muslims are putting the Quran’s hatred of Christians and Jews alike in to practice.

“Now people say there are good Muslims in Britain, that may be so, but I don’t trust them.”

He went on to say: “Islam’s ideas about God, about humanity, about salvation are vastly different from the teaching of the holy scriptures.

“Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.”

The east Belfast born firebrand, who has been preaching since the age of 13, emphasises that he is not saying that the Muslim people of Northern Irelandare dangerous.

In answer to one caller to the BBC’s Nolan Show, who asked if he would trust a Muslim doctor, he said: “I would certainly trust a Muslim doctor to operate on me but remember the Glasgow airport attack was carried out by two Muslim doctors.”

Speaking to Sunday Life, Pastor McConnell said he drew the inspiration for last Sunday’s sermon from the threat he thinks Islam poses to the world.


He explained: “Millions of Muslims are taking over the world and that’s the reason why the cell groups are planted in Britain, they are planted to take over Britain.

“Eventually they will take over Northern Ireland, the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Zechariah tells us that the Muslim countries will side with Russia and they will come against Israel.”

He added: “The Muslim theme is destroy the Saturday people and destroy the Sunday people, what they mean by that is the Saturday people are the Jewish people and the Sunday people are the Christian people.”

His huge church on the Shore Road in north Belfast has some well known former members of its congregation.

First Minister Peter Robinson and his wife Iris worshipped there and their daughter Rebekah held her first wedding at the church in 2003.

McConnell is still surprised at the reaction to his proclamations, he said one colleague phoned him to say that he has heard the pastor make worse remarks without causing a stir.

He said: “I’m absolutely taken aback by it because I was referring to the Muslim cells throughout Britain. The IRA had a lot of terrorist cells that could bomb Britain and I believe that is why the British government did a deal with the IRA and the same thing is being repeated.

“When I said that, I hadn’t even remotely in my mind any Muslim who lives in Northern Ireland.

“There were Muslims there at the service, that come to my church that heard it. They are used to me talking like this, they know my form.” He added: “I didn’t offend them because they know it’s true. I would never offend a Muslim, I wouldn’t hurt a hair on their head.”


As the row rumbles on, Pastor McConnell claims that he has not had any further complaints from the Islamic Centre in Belfast or Muslims living in Northern Ireland.

Dr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre said he was contacting the police and would hold Pastor McConnell ‘responsible for any racial attacks on any Muslim in Northern Ireland’.

Dr Al-Wazzan said: “This is inflammatory language and it definitely is not acceptable.”

Pastor McConnell replied: “Dr Al-Wazzan is a nice little man and all that. I don’t even know the man, never met him, but I wasn’t even referring to him.

“They took 10 minutes out of my sermon, my sermon was 35 minutes and the other 25 minutes the lovely work of Christ on Calvary and how he was a mediator for us.”

Last night a Facebook page entitled ‘Christians stand and support Pastor James-McConnell’ had over 3,500 likes. Pastor McConnell said that he would not be referring to Islam in today’s sermon.

Daily Record profiles Jim Dowson of Britain First

27 May, 2014 - 19:20

Jim-Dowson-addresses-loyalist-flag-protest Daily Record profiles Jim Dowson of Britain First

A Scots extremist is the man behind the sickening invasion of mosques across the country. Jim Dowson, former second-in-command of the neo-Nazi British National Party, now heads the Britain First Defence Force.

Britain First claimed to be carrying out a “Christian crusade” when their activists barged into what they called mega- mosques in Glasgow and Cumbernauld. They confronted the imam of the mosque in Cumbernauld before handing out British Army-issue Bibles and leaflets about so-called Muslim grooming gangs.

Dowson, originally from Airdrie but now living in Belfast, has links to loyalist paramilitary heavies and is an anti-abortion militant. He was one of six candidates standing in the European Parliament elections in Scotland for Britain First.

The 49-year-old had to quit the BNP amid claims he groped a female party activist in 2010. But he insisted he was being smeared because he was a party hardliner.

Britain First have also staged “Christian patrols” in London and targeted Muslim hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

Matthew Collins, of anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, described Dowson as “the cash cow of the far right”. He said: “Dowson is the man behind Britain First – he founded it and funds it. His new tactic with these mosque invasions is very concerning.

“It is the same old, vicious hatred dressed up in new phrases. Instead of saying they hate black or Asian people, these dangerous clowns say they are against the Islamisation of Britain. It is nonsense but it is dangerous nonsense.

“Their use of language is clear – they are just as radicalised as the people they claim to hate such as Anjem Choudary. This kind of sickening extremism has made Dowson a rich man. It is very concerning that his bunch of Neanderthals are now bursting into mosques to hand out stolen Bibles to startled worshippers.”

Dr Muhammad Kausar, of Glasgow Central Mosque, said: “They came in dressed in Army-type clothes giving out Army Bibles. They were filming on a camera. They talked about grooming gangs and that kind of thing and they were told that Islam is not in favour of anything like that at all. This group is full of troublemakers who seek to spread disharmony and unrest. They are Islamophobic and blasphemous.”

In a statement, Britain First described how their units headed for Glasgow Central Mosque in the Gorbals. They said: “Once inside, our activists handed out the leaflets and Bibles and told them to do something to avoid any grooming gang scandals. Our activist units will be very busy throughout the summer with our Christian crusade in Scotland and also campaigning to keep Scotland.”

Dowson has a string of convictions, including weapon possession. His hardline Life League group stormed buildings in Dublin in 1999 in their crusade against abortion. Last year, he was arrested in connection with the Northern Ireland flag riots. In court, he wore a white jumpsuit with the words “political prisoner” on the back.

Britain First chairman Paul Golding is a longtime ally of Dowson. Golding is a former BNP councillor and editor of the BNP’s flagship magazine. In 2011, Dowson and Golding announced the formation of Britain First – to protect “British and Christian morality”. Earlier this year, Golding said those who stand up for their country “face politically-correct pressure from the state”. He also caused outrage by wearing underpants on his head at a Remembrance Service.

Daily Record, 26 May 2014

Islamophobe John Guandolo’s “Training” Canceled

26 May, 2014 - 19:02


Kansas County’s Sheriff’s office came to its senses.

UPDATE: Sheriff Cancels Controversial Training

WICHITA, Kan. — The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office has canceled a training event that had been scheduled for next week amid controversy.

Friday afternoon, the sheriff’s office issued a release saying they decided not to partner with the group sponsoring “Understanding the Threat,” that was set be presented on May 28 and 29.

The Sheriff’s Office issued the following statement:

After receiving significant input from varied individuals and groups both opposing and supporting the training event, the event had quickly become very controversial and sensitive to many, overshadowing the original intent of providing current and relevant training to local law enforcement on domestic and foreign terrorist activities.

Deputies receive training on topics such as: cultural awareness, diversity, gangs, cartels, domestic terrorism, tactics, human trafficking and many more each year. Each of these classes are taught by subject matter experts, but even then, we fact check and test practices on our own to determine what will work best for our agency and best serve our community. Training courses do not set agency policy and not all are mandatory.

Since 9-11, and in light of the recent attempted terrorism event at the Wichita Airport, the Sheriff’s Office is obligated to be proactive concerning extremists. The United States Attorney’s Office has contacted the Sheriff’s Office and offered to present training on the same subject matter, from currently employed Department of Justice personnel.

The Sheriff’s Office will find an instructor, either from the Department of Justice or another subject matter expert to present such materials in the future.

Late Friday night, John Guandolo, the founder of “Understanding the Threat” spoke to KAKE News, criticizing the decision to cancel his seminar. Guandolo said he was “disappointed and saddened” by the “weak decision”.

Guandolo says pressure from Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood supporters lead to the decision, one he says places Kansans “in greater danger”.

Canada: .45 Caliber Bullets Shot At Muslim Women Wearing Hijab

26 May, 2014 - 18:43

Ottawa Shots fired outside Elgin Street bar, on Queensway overnight


Ottawa police are investigating two reports of shots fired in the city’s Centretown and downtown areas overnight.

Police say officers first responded to a reported shooting on Highway 417 eastbound near the Rochester Street exit at about 10:30 p.m. Friday.

They found a car carrying five people with two bullet holes, but nobody was injured. Police said the two shots were fired by a suspect from a black sedan at a vehicle with five Muslim women, who were wearing hijabs. Police would not indicate whether the incident involved hate.

A 45-calibre bullet pierced the passenger-side door and a second bullet hit the side window of the rear seat, police said.

Read the rest…

Community Mourns Loss of Security Guard after Hate Crime

26 May, 2014 - 18:34

Hassan_Alawsi Community Mourns Loss of Security Guard after Hate Crime

On March 16th, Hassan was gunned down in the Home Depot parking lot on Florin Road in South Sacramento. Police say the gunman pulled the trigger because Hassan was Muslim.

After speaking with his friends, it is easy to see Hassan Alawsi had a rough life when he first came to The United States.

“His English was very limited,” said his friend Abdulilah Yahya. Despite his troubles, he never gave up, and became more optimistic in this country. “He made more American friends than Iraqis,” added Yahya.

The tragic irony behind Alawsi’s story, is he not only came to The United States to escape the violence in Iraq, but also his job at The Salam Community Center was to defend against the very thing which killed him.

“By being the security guard that stands at the gate every Friday, he eventually becomes a victim of that same bigotry that he was protecting us from,” said M.A. Azeez, Imam at the Salam Community Center on College Oak Drive in Sacramento.

Yahya added, “When the first I heard, I said, ‘He can’t fight; he’s not that type of person.’”

Although he is gone, the beauty Hassan saw in the world remains in his paintings. Hassan taught art for years, and had only recently began living his dream of selling his artwork in Paris.

Although he was taken from them too soon, the community he was such a big part of does not hold any grudge against the man who pulled the trigger. “This perpetrator of the event is an outlyer, he doesn’t represent our community,” said Azeez. “We’re not going to let him corrupt the solidarity and the feelings of brotherhood that we have created in Sacramento.”


Britain First stage intimidatory march in Brick Lane

23 May, 2014 - 20:00

Britain-First-march-through-Brick-Lane Britain First stage intimidatory march in Brick Lane

The far-right group, Britain First, marched down Brick Lane last night with a large camouflaged car as part of what they called a “Christian patrol”.

The group said on their Facebook page: “Major disturbances follow Britain First Christian patrol in East London. Crowds of Muslims rampage through Brick Lane. Muslim vigilante gangs lock horns with Britain First teams.”

The leader of Britain First, Paul Golding, said that around 20-25 activists had marched up Brick Lane, starting from the Whitechapel Road end and given out leaflets. At the upper end of Brick Lane, Golding said they were confronted with a “baying mob of around 150 Muslims.”

Golding denied that the march was provocative and said that they were there to protect the local community. After the march, Golding said that the activists returned to south London.

He said the matching clothes the activists wore were not uniforms but “activist jackets” and were worn to distinguish Britain First from the “riff-raff” of the English Defence League who behave like “drunken hooligans”. Golding said that the armoured land rover was “not to look macho” but to protect Britain First from attack.

Natasha Daniels said on twitter that she was having a curry on Brick Lane when “some morons with Union Jacks and a tank/car thing came down followed by loads of police.” She said that there was not many people involved in the march and most were “hid in the car” which was large and camouflaged.

Many assumed the march was the work of another far-right group, the English Defence League.

Golding said that nobody was injured or arrested and he had not seen any bottles thrown, contrary to reports on twitter.

A previous “Christian patrol” involved Britain First members drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes to “draw out” Muslims, according to Golding. A video of this incident is shown above. On Monday, Britain First “invaded” the nearby East London mosque, entering, handing out leaflets and arguing with worshippers. After that incident two local Labour MPs, Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick, released a statement condemning Britain First.

They said: “Tower Hamlets has a proud history of rejecting those who try to divide us. Last year our community came together to resolutely reject the divisive EDL. These Britain First trouble makers should take heed and recognise their rhetoric is not welcome in Tower Hamlets.”

East London Advertiser, 23 May 2014

European election upset for Wilders

23 May, 2014 - 19:51

geert-wilders (1) European election upset for Wilders

Geert Wilders came fourth in European elections in the Netherlands on Thursday night, confounding predictions that he would lead a populist and far-Right backlash against the European Union across the continent.

Dutch exit polls put the far-Right and anti-Islam leader on 12.2 per cent of the vote, putting him behind all the pro-EU mainstream political parties. ‘Definitive’ exit polls put him behind the ruling centrist VVD on 12.3 per cent and almost three per cent behind the pro-EU D66 liberals and Christian Democrats, each on over 15 per cent.

Previous opinion polls had put Mr Wilders in the lead but there was widespread controversy over his alliance with the France’s Front National and the exit polls suggested that his share of the vote fell, compared with 2009, by 4.8 percentage points.

The result is a major blow to Mr Wilders who will lose two seats in the European Parliament with his MEPs now reduced to three out a total of 26 Dutch representatives.

After delaying a downbeat post-election party in a tiny sports bar in the suburbs of Scheveningen, a Dutch seaside town on the outskirts of The Hague, Mr Wilders insisted he would fight on “for national sovereignty, for less immigration, for less Brussels”.

“Our people stayed at home. We’ll carry on fighting. We’ll find partners who share our views against the EU across Europe,” he said.

His supporters, wearing customised “Wilders Akbar” football shirts – a provocative play on the Islam chant “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is Great” – had arrived in celebratory mood but hissed as the first exit polls were released by Dutch state broadcaster.

Daily Telegraph, 22 May 2014

Racial Hatred Destroys Home Of UK’s First Muslim Female Band

22 May, 2014 - 21:15


By Sameera Ehteram (Carbonated TV)

The community center where the band started has been completely gutted in the attack, which was suspected to be racially motivated They had been receiving anti-Islamic hate mail for some time now. Ulfah Arts and Media spokeswoman Sarah Javid said “Over the last two months our CEO (Prashant Singh) has been receiving hate mail which has been anti-Islamic.” “He also received a DVD which was full of race hate messages. “Mr Singh has no idea why anyone would have a personal vendetta against him or the organization. But the fire has destroyed everything. It’s destroyed equipment, but also all of our projects, some we have been working on for over a year.”



The Ulfah Collective comprises of Muslim women from Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, some Arab countries and Jamaica – with ages ranging from 13 to 42. The core team of the band is five members but expands to 14 members for larger performances.

The varying backgrounds and cultures bring together different interpretations of Islam that are heard by women-only audiences. The group writes its own lyrics as well as vocal compositions and only uses a hand drum in their performances.

Their music is universal and apart from traditional Islamic songs, includes songs from the literature of other faiths such as the gospel.

Hate crimes against Muslims soared in the UK during 2013. Hundreds of anti-Muslim offenses were carried out across the country, especially after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, Southeast London, in May.

Britain’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, recorded 500 Islamophobic crimes in 2013, up from 336 in 2012 and 318 in 2011.

The fact that the figure may actually be higher than reported is extremely disturbing – but it is a fact. Nearly half of the 43 forces in England and Wales had not revealed how many hate crimes targeted Muslims.

Some officials even admitted not always  recording the faith of the victim.

Islamophobe John Guandolo Still “Training” Law Enforcement

22 May, 2014 - 20:24


Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist, John Guandolo will be doing some “training” in Kansas.

Muslim organization asks Kansas county to cancel program


WICHITA — A national Muslim organization is asking the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office to cancel a training program by a former FBI agent because it is afraid his message will lead to bias against Islam.

The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/TvxnMH ) reports the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington considers John Guandolo an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist. Guandolo is to give a two-day training program next week.

The training program in Wichita is expected to draw law enforcement officers from across Kansas. One of Guandolo’s main focus areas is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. David Mattingly says the department has no intention of canceling the course, which is not mandatory.

Merseyside mosque bomb plotter Ian Forman jailed

22 May, 2014 - 19:49

Ian Forman

Ian Forman

(h/t: SambinIsmail)

Merseyside mosque bomb plotter Ian Forman jailed

BBC News

Ian Forman, 42, developed a homemade bomb and researched religious venues in Merseyside, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Forman, of Shavington Avenue, Oxton, Birkenhead, was detained after work colleagues found him researching chemicals and explosives on the web.

The explosive was discovered during a police raid, along with a replica Nazi uniform and bomb plans.

Officers said seized computers showed evidence of internet research into a number of mosques in Merseyside, including Penny Lane Mosque, Liverpool and Wirral Cultural Centre, Birkenhead.

‘Racist fantasies’

The court also heard Forman had video clips of himself experimenting with explosives and a homemade anti-Islam video.

He admitted having extreme right wing views in his youth but claimed he no longer thought like that, when he was questioned by police.

Forman, who denied engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts contrary to the Terrorism Act 2006, had claimed his research was for his hobby, making homemade fireworks.

However in March, a jury found him guilty after an 11 day trial.

Speaking after Forman was sentenced, Det Sgt Matt Findell said: “Thankfully, we will never know how far Forman was prepared to go in acting out his racist fantasies.

“However, we do know that Forman had carefully selected a number of targets to meet his own means.

“Had he carried them out, his attacks could have caused considerable damage to both property and people at several mosques.”

Man with sword stopped by stun gun outside Islamic centre

21 May, 2014 - 00:02


The man who was arrested for attacking the mosque and officers has been described as a “White Quebecer who may be a member of an extremist organization.”

Man with sword stopped by stun gun outside Islamic centre

Police arrested a 47-year-old man early Tuesday morning who was caught trying to vandalizing a Rosemont Islamic community centre.

It’s the fifth time since April that same mosque has been targeted.

An Islamic community centre in Montreal’s East-End had an axe thrown through its window with an anti-Muslim note attached to it just after Monday night’s provincial election. The note also said “F— Liberals,” the winning party. (Willy Lowry/CBC)

Police say the man attempted to throw a Molotov cocktail through a window of the Assahaba Islamic Community Centre at the corner of Bélanger Street and 23rd Avenue before threatening officers with a sword. Police used a stun gun to subdue the man before arresting him and then transporting him to hospital.

Const. Simon Delorme described the man as a white Quebecer who may be a member of an extremist organization.

He said police were staking out the community centre this morning, following another incident over the weekend. That’s when police saw the suspect try to attack the centre.

“Then they start to follow this man and ask for backup. When they try to arrest the man [he took] out a sword and was threatening the police officers,” said Delorme.

Five attacks since April

Police had started surveillance on the community centre because of multiple attacks over the past six weeks. An axe was thrown through the centre’s window on April 8 with anti-Liberal and anti-Muslim messages attached.

In mid-April, a letter containing white powder was sent to the community centre’s director, Adil Charkaoui. That envelope is still being analyzed.

Charkaoui told CBC Daybreak host Mike Finnerty Tuesday morning that the letter also contained death threats against him personally.

“They have lists of people to kill and they put my name first,” he told Daybreak.

Last week, an item was thrown through one of the building’s windows with the message, “Kill Islam,” according to members of the centre. Then its front door was broken over the weekend.

“It’s a small mosque in a quiet area,” Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said on CBC’s Daybreak on Monday. “To receive these kinds of attacks is of deep concern to us.”


He said the people who attend the community centre are frightened by the attacks and called on Premier Philippe Couillard to denounce the acts.

“It creates a kind of anguish within the people who frequent the mosque. Because of this we need to show support and also we need the political leadership to show that there is a political will to fight any of these kinds of actions,” Elmenyawi said.

Charkaoui pleased with police help

Charkaoui, a Morocco-born Muslim who settled in Montreal with his family in 1995, is the community centre’s director. He’s also a somewhat controversial figure.

He was the subject of a security certificate issued in 2003 and spent more than six years under suspicion of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. He was detained for 21 months and when released, had to wear an electronic GPS bracelet until the certificate was cancelled in 2009. However, Charkaoui always maintained his innocence and successfully challenged the Canadian government at the Supreme Court twice.

Montreal police said investigators are looking at all possible angles, including whether this particular community centre was targeted because of its connection to Charkaoui.

He said the police reacted promptly and added more patrols in the neighbourhood around the community centre.

“It was very good collaboration,” Charkaoui said.

Saudi Muslims Fine Bikini-Clad Italians $3500? Nope: It’s a Hoax

20 May, 2014 - 18:59

How Wild Anti-Muslim Bikini Stories Spread on the Internet

How Wild Anti-Muslim Bikini Stories Spread on the Internet

Saudi Muslims Fine Bikini-Clad Italians $3500? Nope: It’s a Hoax

See UPDATES below.

Here’s a classic example of how anti-Muslim hate grows on the Internet:

One week ago, the Internet was abuzz over reports that Saudi Arabia fined three Italian tourists $3500 for wearing bikinis in the presence of Muslims. The story was circulated on an obscure Italian-language news site, which referenced an earlier story published on April 28, 2014 at Giornale de Corrriere.

Here’s a screenshot of the original piece:

The original story, published on April 28, 2014


The sensational headline was too good for Muslim-baiters. Though not one single Western news source mentioned the story (which in today’s world should have sent up major red flags), they rushed forward without taking a moment to verify the source and reproduced it on their blogs. Off it went, zipping through the web and social media.

Daniel Greenfield, a notorious anti-Muslim blogger for Front Page, a dark media outfit operated and funded by David Horowitz, slapped the piece up on his website:

The hoax story was swallowed up by Daniel Greenfield at Front Page


Greenfield spent several days Tweeting about the piece, even insisting to readers who suspected this was too wild to be true that whether it was true or not, he would not take the article down until he had proof. Admirable standards of journalism, huh?

The story began to grow. Check out the results that this Google search of the story produced, with Greenfield’s post at the very top:

30K results in 0.48 seconds for this fake news story.


The website Jews News, which two weeks ago came under fire for publishing a fake story about a Muslim man that killed, mutilated, and hung a Christian man, also posted the story on their site. — without a singe source or link. It generated 5.6K shares on Facebook:

For the second time in two weeks, Jews News published a fake story that baits Muslim haters.


Notice in the Google search image above, that Robert Spencer’s hate blog Jihad Watch also pops up. Spencer (unsurprisingly) believed the fake news and posted a story about it, adding to the original headline the words “Sharia Italy.”

Here is a screenshot of the piece on Spencer’s site, which remains live at the time this post was written:

As of Saturday May 17, 2014, this fake news story remained on Jihad Watch.


Spencer takes great pride in touting himself as a “scholar” of Islam, but notice the website he cites as his source: Blazing Cat Fur, which posted the piece and linked back to the Italian satire. What kind of serious scholar would cite a website called “blazing cat fur” as an authoritative source? This source wouldn’t be even accepted in the footnotes of a high school term paper.

Interestingly, Blazing Cat Fur writers later noticed this important point at the bottom of the Italian site:

un sito SATIRICO ("satire")


Catch that? “Gorinale del Corrierre `e un sito satirico…” It is a satirical website, much like The Onion, which pokes fun at societal oddities by running obnoxious headlines that are untrue.

Learning this, Blazing Cat Fur admitted in an update post that the story was, indeed, fake:

"Turns Out to Be a Satire. My Mistake."


As news began to get out that this story was a fake, Daniel Greenfield over at Front Page backed down from claims that it was true, and, to his everlasting credit, removed the story:

Daniel Greenfield removed the story at Front Page after pressure mounted


Even the loud mouth bigot Pamela Geller, who would never miss an opportunity to publish something on her blog that trashes Muslims, took down the story from her site:

Pamela Geller removed the story from her website after learning it was fake.


The Twitter world, though, didn’t seem to care. The outrageous story produced these kinds of Tweets:



"Don't sympathize with people that dress immodestly because of Muslims"

Nearly all of those Tweets (and hundreds of others like them) link back to Deacon Robert Spencer’s online diary, Jihad Watch. Despite the fact that overwhelming evidence has shown that this story is fake — and despite the fact that his source, along with Front Page and Pamela Geller, took the piece down, Spencer refuses.

Even readers of his blog were intelligent enough to do a simple 3-minute Google search and discover this was a fake:


"Once again..." Spencer also once posted a hoax story about cat crucifixion, which he scrubbed and denied.


But let’s look at some of the other reactions to this story from readers of Robert Spencer’s “scholarly” blog:

This Spencer devotee calls Saudi Muslim women "rubbish bags."

This Spencer devotee seems to think every follower of Islam is a slave.

This Jihad Watch reader says that Muslims will "masturbate themselves to death" and try to rape us.

This Spencer fan says that even if the story is fake, it sounds real, so that's good enough.


The point of this story: don’t believe the wild anti-Muslim tales you read on the Internet.

Are some of them true? Sadly so. Are all of them? Absolutely not. It’s always best to insist on the sources. If a story shows up on a site that references the fur of blazing cats, is written on a foreign language blog without a link or any other form of corroboration, or is bandied about by hate group leaders that have a history of spreading fake news, it’s probably suspicious.


Robert Spencer spent the afternoon on Twitter contesting the above claims. He has accused me of lying, and insists that he took down this blog post “days ago:”




Fumbling for a more articulate response than the pedestrian cry of “Liar!” he proceeded to teach me about the computer cache, arguing that I had not cleared mine, thus the reason for the hoax storystill appearing on his website (I found his lesson odd since he routinely admits that he has a “tech guy” that handles all of the things he can’t).


I gave Robert the benefit of the doubt, and since I was away from the computer at the time, I grabbed my iPhone and checked the website from its browser. Here is what I found:

09 PM EDT.

Could it be that both my iPhone cache and computer cache needed resetting? Surely Spencer would try to trot out that argument.

Once I had a moment to sit down at the computer, I cleared the cache in Firefox and Safari. Lo and behold, the page still came up in both browsers. But Spencer said he took it down “days ago.” That’s funny, since multiple web data analyzers that process site data and build reports about page activity show the exact opposite.


Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.28.17 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.25.42 PM

Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 10.32.39 PM

Spencer now says his “tech guy” is investigating it and he is assembling evidence that all of the above is a grand lie — a scheme on my part to hoodwink readers. It is very obvious, though, that Spencer is not interested in telling the truth.


Alas, after having made an example of Robert Spencer by pointing out that he was, indeed, not telling the truth and that the hoax story remained on his web page, after nearly holding his hand while explaining that the web analytic tools in the screenshots above showed an active page, and after pressure on Twitter mounted against him, he found it in his heart to do what he should have done last week: last night he removed the piece. Here is the shot of that:

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 9.22.18 AM

Good for you, Robert. Next time, don’t cite obscure blogs like “blazing cat fur” as your authoritative source. Also, do some basic homework if you want people to take you seriously. And tell the truth when you realize that you made an error and people call you out on it. It’s far more noble to say, “I’m sorry, my bad” and remove the piece than to persist in nasty untruths, all the while fomenting hatred of Muslims within the infected bowels of the Internet, where your online diary Jihad Watch lives.


Alas, after promising to assemble evidence that he took down the post, Robert Spencer summoned his “tech guy,” Marc, to scrap together some (shoddy) claims.

Marc first posts a screenshot (below) of an apparent email exchange where Spencer believed that he had deleted the blog, but apparently had not, and begged Marc’s help to scrub it:


In the piece, Marc claims that I somehow manipulated the screenshot that I took, insisting that the “Login to Comment” and “Sign Up for Our Daily Digest” links on the far right sidebar were changed on May 13 to bold versions of their former self; in my screenshots they are not bold. He also adds that the scroll bar on the right side of the page is missing and that is prima facie evidence that I have altered the image.

Screenshots with Apple computers are taken using the Command + Shift + 4, which opens a cursor that can be dragged and adjusted to capture an image; on PC computers, there’s simply a PrtScn [Print Screen] button, which captures everything on the screen, leaving it up to the user to crop it as he/she likes. Presumably, Marc knows this because the image of the email above is cropped neatly around the edges, showing nothing else on the computer screen.

Let’s use Marc’s own logic against him, shall we?

First, notice the above email, which has been altered with black smudges in Photoshop or some other program to conceal the email address. Also note that there is no scroll bar in the image. Further, Spencer’s first message to Marc came at 6:29PM on May 11, 2014. Marc’s reply comes at 6:13PM, which is 16 minutes earlier. Even if he was in a different time zone, the hour would change, (for instance, PST is 3 hours earlier that EST), but the minutes would not. In the UK, now (a country that Robert is banned from entering) it is 3:20PM, while it’s 10:20AM on the east coast of the United States. Hour changes, minutes don’t. In the event that someone sent me an email from the UK and the time read “3:20PM,” it would be obvious that they were +5 hours ahead.

More: Notice how there is NO space after the phrase “On 14-05-11 06:29 PM, Robert Spencer wrote” and the link that he posts in his initial email. Now, scroll up to Marc’s reply: “On May 11, 2014, at 6:13PM…” Suddenly a space pops up before the text in his email message. Why is this? Is it a sloppy Photoshop job, or was text deleted? Also, why is the wording about the time and date that the email messages were written different in the same Chrome browser? “On May 11, 2014″ and “On 14-05-11.”

So — who is the one doing the manipulating here?

Does it seem odd to you that “weeks ago,” Spencer would SUDDENLY decide to bold the words “Login to Comment” and “Sign Up for Our Daily Digest” in his sidebar? And doesn’t it seem fishy that “weeks” after his alleged request, Marc FINALLY got around to doing it EXACTLY during the period that this fishy story started to unravel as a fraud?

If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, chances are that it’s a duck.

Next: Marc claims that the fact that the comments on the piece in question suddenly stop on May 11 proves that the piece was inactive. But that assumes that the comments on Robert Spencer’s diary site are published automatically, without an approval process by the moderator. They are not. Could it be the case that Spencer, who upon learning that the story was true, stopped approving the barrage of comments that likely came his way when the social media world became aware that it was fake? It really would be wonderful if Spencer would open up his comments section.

Also, anyone can look at previous pieces published by Spencer (that are active on the site) and see that the comments eventually die off and people move on to the next piece. Why would this be any different? Marc’s logic (the word logic is a REAL stretch here) would suggest that any piece that is not actively receiving comments after a given date is “inactive.” We know that’s not true.

Now: Why does Marc not address ANY of the statistical web data I showed? If the page was indeed taken down, why did web analytics show an active page, per the screenshots I have above? Surely they would not be able to pull up information for a page that did not exist and thus was not receiving an influx on bandwidth, views, or other traffic hits.

And what about the fact that the page appeared on my iPhone? Where is Marc’s explanation for that? Will he say, also, that my phone was showing a cached version of the site? Is every computer that inconveniently displayed the story before their eyes all of a sudden showing a cached version?

Lastly, and most importantly, Spencer has not answered why he ever posted this story in the first place — why he didn’t do thorough research, why he ever thought it was plausible to cite a website called “Blazing Cat Fur,” why he didn’t take 3 minutes to verify its accuracy, or confer with other news media sources to verify that it indeed happened.

Imagine if a university professor cited “Blazing Cat Fur” in the endnotes of a book manuscript or an academic paper? Imagine, for that matter, if a high school student cited it in a term paper. Would it be accepted? The answer is: No.

There’s a reason for this: Robert Spencer swallows up anything that represents Muslims in a possibly negative light, and his uncontrollable urge to garble up this hoax and run it on his site without evidence demonstrates that clearly.


I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier to use the EXACT same damning piece of evidence that Marc, Robert’s “tech guy,” coughed up: Google cache. I typed the web address for the article in question into Google Cache and received this:

Jihad Watch Screen Shot

This is a full-page screenshot using a PC. Note that the date in the bottom right reads: “5/19/2014″ and the time is “4:44PM.” Note that in the cache description at the TOP of the image above, the following text appears:

“It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on May 18, 2014 02:43:16 GMT”

Contrary to Robert and Marc’s claims, the “Login to Comment” and “Sign Up For Our Daily Digest” do NOT appear bold, and there IS a faint line that divides them. This means that yesterday, the page looked exactly as it did above. This clearly indicates that Robert and/or Marc adjusted the sidebar in an effort to conceal the fact that Spencer lied about not removing the page.

It’s always wonderful when tactics of Islamophobes give you good ideas for evidence to use against them. Thank you, Marc, for the Google Cache tip. It really was the final nail in the coffin!

Britain First ‘invasion’ FAIL

19 May, 2014 - 22:36


Britain First ‘invasion’ FAIL

Britain First, the fringe far-right, Muslim-hating group, made a second visit to the East London Mosque today (apparently an “invasion” which involved four people).

They left pretty quickly, after a local Community Support Officer spotted their car on zig-zag traffic lines, and run a red light as they made their “getaway”.

Britain First’s previous visit, as part of their misnamed ‘Christian Patrol’, showed them bravely swigging lager and unfurling a banner on the street outside … before again running off quickly.

Of course, members of the public are welcome to attend the mosque and, with a booking, take a tour of the facilities (perhaps Britain First had trouble writing down the number).

Britain First is, of course, a tiny hate group whose members were booted out of the far-right British National Party (BNP). The mother of murdered soldier Lee Rigby has recently asked Britain First leader Paul Golding (a former BNP councillor in Kent and the party’s ex-publicity officer) to stop using her son’s name – something Golding has pointedly refused to do – claiming she is, understandably, ‘heartbroken’. Golding also had to admit to Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Daily Politics show that money his organisation claimed to be collecting for British soldiers was, in fact, going to the party itself.

The party has recently boasted of guarding UKIP venues, though as anti-fascist groups have noted, its leader Jim Dowson has strong links to Northern Ireland, where he has been involved in the ‘flag protests’ in Belfast, as well as having a long history in an anti-abortion extremism.

You can see Britain First leader Paul Golding under interview from Andrew Neil on the BBC Daily Politics show here.

HOPE not hate’s background research on Britain First can be read here.

East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre press release, 19 May 2014

Update:  See also “Far right Britain First party ‘invade’ East London Mosque”, International Business Times, 19 May 2014