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Aryan blondes too beautiful for niqab, says FPÖ

7 July, 2014 - 22:31

FPÖ-zu-schön-für-einen-schleier

Aryan blondes too beautiful for niqab, says FPÖ

As part of his party’s plan to introduce a bill banning full-face veils, Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache posted on a social network an image of a young blonde woman with the phrase “Too beautiful for a veil.”

The campaign was launched by the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader and Member of Parliament Heinz-Christian Strache on his Facebook page. According to the politician, the poster is aimed “against the Islamization of Europe.”

The image refers to the party’s recent call for a ban on wearing the Muslim burqa in public. Based on the judgement by the European Court of Human Rights, who didn’t oppose the legality of the French burqa ban of 2011, FPÖ plans to introduce the same bill into the Austrian parliament next week.

“In many conservative circles of Islamic immigration society there is a prevailing view that women are second-class citizens,” party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber commented, adding that “one of the many tools of oppression is the burqa.”

A burqa is the full-body veil worn by women according to Islamic traditions, which covers even the eyes with a fine-mesh grid. Another type of veil – the niqab, leaves a slit for the eyes.

The full-body veils, especially burqas, aren’t something you’ll often see on the streets of Austria. Referring to the fact that it’s extremely rare, the planned ban has not been supported by other political forces in Austria.

“One should not create an artificial problem here. I have seen women wearing headscarves in Vienna, but not a burqa. In Austria the number of burqa wearers is estimated at only around one hundred. FPÖ has once again tried to provoke fear and dramatize,” Reinhold Lopatka of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) told the Wiener Zeitung.

The conservative ÖVP wants to vote against the Freedom Party proposal.

The original image of the blonde girl for the anti-veil campaign could not be found on Strache’s Facebook page on July 4. But the politician posted an image with a Dalai Lama quote in German, saying “if there are too many immigrants, you have to muster up the courage to say it is enough.”

In Switzerland, the citizens of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino voted with a clear majority to ban full-face veils last September. The parliament in Bern must now consider whether the proposal is consistent with the Swiss Constitution. The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) now also plans to launch a national referendum on a burqa ban next year.

RT, 5 July 2014

Did Daily Mail incite ‘war against the corrupt west’?

7 July, 2014 - 22:23

Ummah.com-caliphate-post Did Daily Mail incite ‘war against the corrupt west’?

Two days ago BBC News reported an interview broadcast on Radio 5 Live with an individual who gave his name as Abu Osama and claimed to be a British Muslim fighting in Syria. Describing Britain as “pure evil”, Abu Osama said:

“If and when I come back to Britain it will be when this Khilafah, the Islamic state, comes to conquer Britain, and I come to raise the black flag of Islam over Downing Street, over Buckingham Palace, over Tower Bridge and over Big Ben.”

The claim was widely publicised in the British media, not least by the Daily Mail.

Yesterday a new thread was opened at the Ummah.com discussion forum under the heading “i am pledging allegiance to the caliphate”, with the following comment:

“salam my sisters and brothers we should get out of this evil country and pledge our allegiance to the muslim sharia law and get out of evil west. who wants to join me so we can wage war and jihad against the corrupt west.”

The thread was posted in the name of abuaisha10, who had only just registered as a member of the forum and had posted no other comments, which was clearly suspicious.

Suspicions were confirmed when Ummah.com admins discovered that abuaisha10′s IP address (195.234.240.212) belongs to DMG Media (formerly Associated Newspapers), which publishes the Daily Mail.

Indeed, according to one IP look-up service, the address would appear to be associated with the Mail‘s chief reporter, David Williams.

IP Address 195.234.240.212

Update:  See also Morning Star, 7 July 2014

According to the Star report: “The Daily Mail Group did not respond to the Morning Star’s requests for comment, while an operator with Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist hotline confirmed they would investigate the source. ‘If someone is obviously trying to rally people together to commit violence, that would be an offence we would look into,’ she said.”

Dawkins finally loses the plot completely

7 July, 2014 - 22:18

Dawkins finally loses the plot completely

Dawkins-recommends-JihadistJoe

Today Richard Dawkins has recommended that his 974,000 Twitter followers should follow the sick anti-Muslim parodist who uses the handle JihadistJoe.

Here is one of JihadistJoe’s recent tweets:

JihadistJoe Islam wants you tweet

 

You might think that the above caricature bears more than a passing similarity to the sort of antisemitic “humour” that featured in Der Stürmer. But Dawkins irritably dismisses suggestions that JihadistJoe’s tweets could be viewed as in any way racist:

Dawkins on race

Other recent examples of JihadistJoe’s “very funny and DEADLY accurate” tweets can be viewed herehere and here.

EHRC French Niqab Ruling Fall Out

7 July, 2014 - 22:10

Pia-Kjærsgaard-DF

In Norway the ruling may mean revisiting a debate on the niqab/burqa,

Norway’s Labour and Progress parties have stated that they would consider revisiting the issue of a Muslim veil ban in the wake of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rightsthat a public ban does not violate the human rights of Muslim women.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday gave support to France’s claim that the statutory public prohibition of clothing which covers the face is within the framework of European human rights.

“We must consider whether we should promote the proposal again, after the court in Strasbourg has now confirmed what we have constantly said: that a ban is compatible with human rights,” said Mazyar Keshvari at the Progress Party (FRP) to the VG daily.

Jan Bøhler of the Labour Party (Ap) also claimed that the ruling of the court puts the Norwegian discussion about the controversial ban in a new light. “When parliament rejected such a ban in 2013, the main argument was that Norway risked being censured in the ECHR. Now that argument falls away. I think we need to take a new discussion about a possible ban,” he told VG.

In Denmark the the French ban may be coming into effect,

Judges upheld France’s burqa law, accepting the argument that veils threatened the right of citizens to live together in society. And now, several legal experts have toldBerlingske newspaper that they believe a similar ban could be enacted in Denmark.

Sten Schaumburg-Müller, a law professor at Aarhus University, agreed that the French model could be adopted by Denmark. “It’s obvious that a ban specifically targeting burqas would be hopeless,” he said. “But I believe a ban similar to France’s prohibiting the covering of the face in public could be established here.”

Jacob Mchangama, the head of think-tank Justitia, also believes the law could be recycled on Danish ground. “The defining element in the French legislation is that it isn’t targeted at specific religions, but instead the motivation is to ensure social cohesion and interaction between citizens,” he said.

Pia Kjærsgaard, the DF values spokesperson, thinks a ban on face-covering dress, whether it is specifically targeting Islamic burqas or not, should be introduced in Denmark. “We can’t have women being completely covered so you can’t see their facial expressions or who you have right in front of you,” she told Berlingske.

Austria’s far-right, Freedom Party is also calling for a ban,

Austria’s Freedom Party (FPÖ) is calling for a ban on burqas, after the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) backed France’s rules on religious headgear on Tuesday, when it ruled the country’s law banning full-face veils in public was legal.

The ECHR ruled that France’s ban on the wearing of the full-face veil in public does not violate the human rights of Muslim women. Judges said the law was justified on the grounds of social cohesion.

Freedom Party spokeswoman Carmen Gartelgruber said that in the “wide, conservative circles of Islamic immigration society”, the opinion prevails that women are second-class citizens. One of the many instruments for oppressing women is the burqa, she added.

In Britain Tory MP, Phillip Hollobone calls for a ban on the Niqab, he’s supported by Taj Hargey,

The Government should press on with banning the veil in Britain after a French law doing the same wasupheld by the European Court of Human Rights, a Tory MP said today.

Kettering MP Philip Hollobone, who has proposed back bench legislation to ban face coverings in the past, urged Commons Leader Andrew Lansley to find time for a Government statement on the issue. Mr Hollobone, a prominent eurosceptic who more typically criticises the European Court, raised the issue at the weekly Commons business statement.

He said: “This week finally, at long last, we have had a sensible decision from the European Court of Human Rights about something.

“Selling More Than Clothes?” Gap Opens Up in Myanmar

4 July, 2014 - 20:27

ON Product and USAID

By Garibaldi

Gap, Inc. the parent company of Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, and Piperlime is joining other US companies, including Coca-Cola, MasterCard and GE in expanding operations and investments in Myanmar (Burma). Myanmar is viewed, after opening up its economy and political space, as a new lucrative Southeast Asian market, with some investors speculating that it may even be “the new Thailand.” The comparison is being made because of Thailand’s high economic growth, with the Neo-Liberal institution, The World Bank, dubbing Thailand as “one of the great development success stories.”

Gap, which calls itself a “responsible company” is putting a sugary spin on its decision to invest in Myanmar, describing it in moralistic terms as an investment “in the economic and social development of Myanmar,” when in reality it is all about beating the competition and reaping the most profit.

Gap has an abysmal history when it comes to outsourcing,

In 1999, Gap and several other companies were sued in a class action lawsuit in Saipan claiming that workers were subject to unsafe working conditions, forced abortions, and unpaid overtime. Gap eventually settled the lawsuit in 2002 without admitting liability.

In 2006, a Jordanian supplier for Gap, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and other companies was charged with using adult and child employees for up to 109 hours per week. Some workers had been unpaid for up to six months. The following year, BBC broadcast footage of child labor in Gap’s factories in India. Gap denied knowledge of those practices, but nonetheless removed the piece of clothing featured in the report from British stores.

Last April, the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh — the deadliest garment factory accident in history — claimed 1,129 lives and injured 2,515 people. Many North American retailers had outsourced their apparel from the factory, although Gap was not among those implicated.

Gap and other North American retailers announced a broad plan to improve factory safety in Bangladesh last July, but the plan didn’t legally bind the companies to actually pay for those improvements. By comparison, The Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an earlier plan introduced in May, legally required the companies to pay for those improvements. Gap’s rivals Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) , American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO  ) , PVH (NYSE: PVH  ) , and H&M all signed that accord, but Gap and several other major U.S. retailers refused.

The announcement by Gap was made in partnership with USAID, the US Ambassador, Derek Mitchell, was also present. The operation is sold as being motivated by humanitarianism, with an emphasis on helping the women of Burma through providing female garment workers with “life skills education and technical training.”

Amb Mitchell remarks

Gap, Inc./USAID: US Ambassador Derek Mitchell speaking

Of course the deep involvement of the US government with corporations is not a reality-shattering phenomenon; it is a familiar gimmick that odiously packages capitalistic motives and goals in a thin veneer of humanitarianism.

This is also enmeshed with President Obama’s proclaimed foreign policy objective of “pivoting towards Asia.” The US doesn’t want to miss out on an emerging market in Southeast Asia, one where China already has beaten the US in terms of economic influence,

Although Gap is the first U.S. retailer to enter Myanmar, other U.S. companies like General ElectricMasterCardVisa, and Coca-Cola have already made investments in the country. However, U.S. direct investment in Myanmar only accounts for 1% of the country’s overall foreign direct investments (FDI), compared to 30% from China.

Myanmar appears advantageous to the likes of Gap because of the cheap labor force it provides, the cheapest in Southeast Asia,

Myanmar’s low wages — an average of $1,100 per year — are considerably lower than its neighbors in Southeast Asia. Vietnam’s wages are double that of Myanmar, and wages in Thailand are six times as high. Cambodia is Myanmar’s closest competitor, with an average annual wage of $1,424.

Yet in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gap stated that its Burmese workers will be paid an average of $110 per month, and supervisors will be paid as much as $1,000 — far exceeding the national average. Gap has also launched education and training programs for Burmese women with the aid of U.S. agencies. Those strategies are clearly aimed at shielding Gap from the controversies that dogged the company in the past.

The reality is that Gap is investing in a country in which human rights are not respected, in which pogroms are common place and where ethnic minorities are denied basic recognition. Just yesterday it was reported that Buddhist mobs have for a second straight night attacked Muslims in the historic city of Mandalay, the violence has left 2 dead and 14 injured.

Two people are dead and 14 injured after Buddhist mobs on motorbikes drove through Burma’s historic city of Mandalay in a second night of attacks on minority Muslims.

The past two years have seen grisly attacks on Muslims and other minorities: Massacres such as Buddhists killing 9 Muslim pilgrims, 36 school children and their teachers butchered in front of local police are common place. Myanmar saw the near complete destruction of the Muslim quarter in the city of Kyaukpyu. Human rights groups have reported on the systematic killing and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, where the Rohingya Muslim population is herded into concentration campsMosques, Muslim homes, and orphanages across the country are torched in arson attacks. Numerous  internet sites are replete with Islamophobic dehumanization messages about Islam and Muslims spread by the extremist movement ’969.’ Myanmar is where the “symbol of Democracy,” the Noble Peace Prize winning Suu Kyi not only says she won’t speak out for the persecuted Rohingya but denies their existence. Myanmar’s government has given official backing to the violent, extremist 969 movement. Ministers in the Myanmar government have backed discriminatory legislation that would limit Rohingya women to two children. Local officials have severely restricted humanitarian aid to Rohingya concentration camps and the rest of Rakhine State, where tuberculosis, waterborne illnesses and malnutrition are endemic.

These basic facts don’t begin to touch the deep suffering of the families that have been expelled from their homes, tortured, had loved ones murdered or drown on perilous boat journeys.

It is cynical and callous for Gap to then describe Myanmar as making “slow progress.” Of course it is not out of the norm for a corporation to laughably try and convince consumers that it does “more than sell clothes.”

Doubly egregious is the complicity of Western diplomats, who as Matthew Smith of Fortify Rights points out have been giving Myanmar a free pass,

Western diplomats eschew efforts to end the culture of impunity in the country, fearing it will stall the reform process. This is an entirely wrong-headed view.

Ending impunity comes in many forms but typically requires at least a proper accounting of the facts. As such, foreign governments should press Myanmar to set up an independent inquiry into ongoing wartime crimes in ethnic states, and redouble support for the country’s human rights defenders, most of whom are working under demoralizing conditions with limited resources.

Ultimately, high praise for thin reforms is no way to promote democracy or the rights of Myanmar’s least advantaged populations.

It’s worth mentioning pop-philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s theory of cultural capitalism, which asserts the farcical nature of contemporary enterprises seeking to put a charitable, in this case “humanitarian,” face on their products, i.e. “global capitalism with a human face.”

In the near term the violent and extremist 969 movement continues to get stronger, atrocities proliferate and human rights take second place to capitalistic ventures. Corporations such as Gap that invest in Myanmar can save us the feel-good facade, we know what this is all about.

Police aim to subdue Myanmar violence

4 July, 2014 - 02:19

Myanmar_pogrom Police aim to subdue Myanmar violence

(AlJazeera)

Large numbers of police have been deployed and a curfew imposed in Myanmar’s second largest city in an attempt to bring escalating violence in the area under control.

Myanmar police escalated tactics in Mandalay on Thursday, after consecutive nights of sectarian unrest left two people dead.

Local residents say a Muslim man was attacked and killed by a mob as he made his way to a mosque before dawn on Thursday morning.

A Buddhist man was also killed overnight, with police investigating the cause of death.

The riots left another 14 injured.

Police were first deployed on Tuesday night, as hundreds of Buddhists attacked a mosque and attempted to set fire to businesses owned by Muslims. Vehicles were set on fire and some shops were ransacked.

Shops in Muslim neighbourhoods are now closed, with some streets blocked by metal and wooden barriers. One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “most Muslims are hiding and some shifted to other towns near Mandalay”.

“We do not want the situation getting worse,” senior Mandalay police officer Zaw Min Oo told AFP, explaining that the curfew now imposed on the city was for ‘security reasons’.

Escalating violence

The violence was sparked by rumours on the Internet that the Muslim owner of a teashop had raped a Buddhist woman.

The latest flare up of sectarian violence in Myanmar has raised fears of a wider escalation in ongoing tensions between Myanmar’s Buddhist majority and Muslim minority.

Previously, sectarian violence had mostly taken place in Myanmar’s Western Rakhine state, while relations between Muslims and Buddhists in the city of Mandalay had been relatively peaceful.

Myanmar has struggled to contain outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence since the end of military rule in 2011. At least 280 people have been killed since June 2012, with 140,000 made homeless – most of them Muslims.

Muslims are thought to account for about four percent of Myanmar’s population of approximately 60 million.

The government has faced international criticism for failing to act strongly to stop the attacks on Muslims, which in Rakhine state reportedly occurred as security forces looked on.

Myanmar has been wracked by violence between the two communities since June 2012. More than 200 people have been killed and at least 140,000 displaced. Most of the victims have been Muslim.

China bans Ramadan fasting in East Turkestan

2 July, 2014 - 22:40

uighur

World Bulletin / News Desk

Authorities in China’s East Turkestan (Xinjiang) province have officially banned students and teachers from engaging in the Islamic Ramadan fast, in yet another curb on religious freedoms against the region’s native Uighur Muslim population.

The Turfan trade bureau on its internet website at the beginning of the week released a statement saying that all public workers, students and teachers were banned from fasting and participating in religious activities.

Bozhou, the region’s official radio station, also announced that party members, teachers and youths cannot engage in Ramadan worship.

East Turkestan, resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of central Asia, is crucial to China’s growing energy needs.

Analysts say that, despite its mineral wealth and billions of dollars of investment, much of the proceeds have gone to majority Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.

Rights groups complain that Uighurs – who speak a Turkic language – are cut off from economic development because they face hiring discrimination, with jobs going to an influx of migrant workers from other parts of China.

Around 200 people have died in unrest in East Turkestan in the past year or so, the government says.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government’s repressive policies in East Turkestan, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest, a claim Beijing denies.

China has tightened its grip on public discussion about East Turkestan too.

In January, police detained prominent Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti and charged him with separatism.

Britain First Organize “Fight Club” To Target Muslims

2 July, 2014 - 22:37

Britain-First-no-more-mosques

Britain First is led by a Neo-Nazi, and now the group is creating “Fight Clubs” to fight Muslims. This is clear incitement and a threat to “social cohesion,” where is the outcry?

Britain First Organize “Fight Club” To Target Muslims

A FAR-RIGHT group led by a notorious Scots rabble-rouser are promoting sinister “fight clubs” for their followers.

And anti-racism activists claim Jim Dowson’s Britain First organisation are training boot boys to fight Muslims on the streets.

Mathew Collins of Hope Not Hate said: “They have been booking mixed martial arts gyms so they can fight among themselves, training for confrontations with Muslims.”

Vicky Burns of Show Racism the Red Card Scotland added: “Britain First’s brand of racism and prejudice simply is not welcome here.”

Britain First have used a series of Facebook posts to attract recruits for fight training.

One ad says: “Things are bad and will only get worse.

“Don’t you think it’s time to learn how to protect the ones you love – and yourself?”

It adds that the fight clubs – apparently named after Brad Pitt’s 1999 film – will be rolled out UK-wide and free of charge.

Another ad says of the plan: “We feel this is a vital part of building a real movement for the future struggle to take back our country.”

Dowson’s rag-tag mob of former BNP members have already targeted Muslims in Scotland and beyond.

One of the Britain First ads urging supporters to be ready for the fightOne of the Britain First ads urging supporters to be ready for the fight

 

They swaggered into mosques in Glasgow, Cumbernauld and several English cities, handing out Army Bibles to worshippers and telling them to stop Muslim men grooming young girls for sex.

The invaders claimed to be carrying out a “Christian crusade”.

Britain First have also staged “Christian Patrols” in London, with supporters in military style fatigues marching through Asian areas waving Union flags.

Collins called Britain First “the most dangerous group to emerge on the far right for years”, and urged the authorities to take proper action against them.

He warned that Dowson’s men were “generating a climate of fear” and said their actions “could lead to a violent backlash”.

Former Orangeman Dowson is from Airdrie but lives in Belfast.

The self-styled born again Christian has links to anti-abortion extremists. A group he founded, Precious Life, have been accused of intimidating pro-choice supporters.

Dowson was one of the leaders of Loyalist protests in Belfast over city council plans to limit the amount of time when the Union flag was flown over their HQ.

He wore a veil over his face on his way to appear in court after the disorder.

Dowson was a close associate of BNP leader Nick Griffin and a major fund-raiser for the far-right party, but he quit over claims that he groped a female party activist.

He then founded Britain First with Paul Golding, an old ally and former BNP councillor.

The group have raised their profile by urging Facebook users to “like” posts backing British troops, paying tribute to Princess Diana and opposing animal cruelty.

The strategy has helped Britain First get more than 480,000 Facebook “likes”. Many users don’t know they are interacting with the extreme right.

New York: Man shouting ‘Go back to your (expletive) country’ stabs Muslim food cart vendor

1 July, 2014 - 22:39

Ayman_Shiha New York: Man shouting ‘Go back to your (expletive) country’ stabs Muslim food cart vendor

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on local law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate the Tuesday stabbing of a Muslim food cart vendor by a man reportedly shouting “Go back to your (expletive) country.”

The victim, an Egyptian native who manages a halal (Islamically-permissible) food cart on 28th street near Bellevue Hospital, was stabbed repeatedly in broad daylight on Tuesday afternoon. He told CAIR-NY that he saw a customer arguing with another food cart vendor over a sandwich. When he approached the men engaged in the argument in an effort to calm the situation, the customer faced him and allegedly said, “You don’t belong to this country. Go back to your (expletive) country (expletive),” and stabbed him a total of 15 times.

“We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate this incident thoroughly and to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice,” said CAIR-NY Director of Operations Sadyia Khalique. She added that religious and ethnic bias should be investigated as a factor leading to the attack.

CAIR New York press release, 27 June 2014

Update:  See “Food cart vendor speaking out after attack he calls ‘hate crime’, WABC-TV, 27 June 2014

Vandals attack historic Polish mosque

1 July, 2014 - 21:55

Kruszyniany-mosque-graffiti Vandals attack historic Polish mosque

An 18th century mosque and gravestones in the adjoining cemetery have been vandalised in the village of Kruszyniany, north east Poland. The incident apparently occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, just after Polish Tatars began observing Ramadan on Saturday.

The culprit sprayed a vast pig onto the side of the mosque, which is one of Poland’s oldest Muslim houses of worship still used by the country’s Tatar community.

“It’s a very regrettable thing – incomprehensible,” said Kruszyniany’s Muslim community leader Bronislaw Talkowski. He stressed that the Tatars live in harmony with their neighbours, and that the act of vandalism is unprecedented.

A patriotic symbol used during the Nazi German occupation of World War II, the so-called Kotwica (Anchor), was also sprayed onto the mosque, as well as on some gravestones. Composed of the letters p and w, the anchor stands for Polska Walczaca (Fighting Poland).

It is estimated that there are between 3000 and 5000 Tatars living in Poland today. Owing to assimilation over the centuries, many Poles have Tatar backgrounds. The late Nobel Prize-winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz had Tatar roots, as does internationally renowned sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Thenews.pl, 30 June 2014

Another lying anti-Muslim headline in the Mail

1 July, 2014 - 21:44

Daily-Mail-Muslim-man-murders-pregnant-prostitute

(Via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Another lying anti-Muslim headline in the Mail

This is the headline to a report in the Daily Mail. The report begins: “A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years today.”

As you might expect from the Mail, the claim that Farooq Shah, the individual convicted of the murder, targeted sex worker Mariana Popa because she was working near a mosque is a straightforward lie.

The sole basis for this claim is that during the trial, in an attempt to identify a motive for the murder, the prosecuting barrister asked Shah: “What was that conversation with Miss Popa about? Did you ask her to go with you? Did you offer her money? Did she say no because you had a bike and didn’t even have a car? Or were you on this night patrolling the area for prostitutes? Did you want to challenge Miss Popa and ask her to get out of that area, to get away from the mosques?”

But the Mail‘s own report states: “In his account to the jury, Shah said having women sell their bodies near his mosque or home ‘means nothing’”. According to the Ilford Recorder, the investigating officer Detective Inspector Darren Richards said that Shah “has never given any reason” for the murder, adding: “He’s given no reason because there was no reason, other than he’d armed himself with a knife and was prepared to use it that night.”

DI Richards had previously stated: “This was a cold-blooded, senseless murder by a man who went out that night, armed with a knife, intent on using it to commit serious injury to someone. He had already threatened and robbed a vulnerable man with a knife earlier that night, and he was hanging around the Ilford Lane area, looking for another victim. He killed Mariana because she was there, because he thought he could get away with it.”

Shah’s religious beliefs, if indeed he has any, appear to have had no bearing whatsoever on the case.

Read the rest…

European Human Rights Court Upholds France’s Burqa Ban

1 July, 2014 - 20:41

french_niqab_missfrance

The European Human Rights Court has decided not on the basis of France’s main arguments about ‘public-safety’ or ‘women’s rights’ but ‘social cohesion.’

The Strasbourg-based court ruled the general ban imposed by the government wasn’t justified on public-safety grounds, or to protect women’s rights. But it said France’s aim of improving social cohesion through the ban was legitimate.

“The court was…able to accept that the barrier raised against others by a veil concealing the face was perceived by the respondent state as breaching the right of others to live in a space of socialization which made living together easier,” it said.

European rights court upholds French ‘burqa ban’

The court’s decision follows a case brought by a 24-year-old French woman of Pakistani origin, described as a “perfect French citizen”, argued that the ban violated her rights to freedom of religion, expression and assembly, and was discriminatory.

The woman, identified only by her initials SAS, said that being forced to take off her veil in public constituted “degrading treatment” and also was an attack on her private and family life.

In written evidence, SAS – who did not appear – testified that she was not forced to wear a burqa and that she was willing to remove it whenever required for security reasons, directly addressing the French authorities’ two main arguments in favour of the ban.

Women ‘stigmatised’

Her appeal to the court was supported by international human rights group Amnesty International, which told FRANCE 24 before the ruling that France’s law “only served to stigmatise women, and Muslim women in particular”.

“The argument that the law protects women has no foundation,” said Amnesty’s President Geneviève Garrigos. “Many [Muslim] women wear veils of their own free will.

“The state does not exist to tell people how they should dress. Rather, it should allow them to make their own choices.”

Garrigos argued that while the law ostensibly targets all face-covering garments – religious or not – it was a mere “façade” hiding legislation specifically targeting Muslim women.

“Everyone knows this law wasn’t created to stop people walking in the streets wearing motorcycle helmets,” she said. “If everyone had to be recognizable by security services all of the time, they should ban anything that hides facial features, including wigs and fake beards.”

“People must accept that they might have their identity controlled by the police,” she added. “Women who wear burqas and other full veils submit voluntarily to this.”

French ban on all religious symbols in schools

The hearing comes just days after one of France’s highest courts upheld the 2008 sacking of Fatima Afif, a worker at a kindergarten in the Paris suburbs, for wanting to wear a headscarf to work.

Overt religious symbols – headscarves, crucifixes, Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans, for example – are banned from French state schools, which operate on strictly secular lines.

Many Muslims view France, which is officially a secular republic despite being overwhelmingly Catholic, as imposing its values on them and other religious minorities.

France has one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe. Beyond the veil issue, there has been controversy in the past over whether schools and holiday camps should be required to provide halal food to Muslim children.

Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition

29 June, 2014 - 22:15

Ramadan Ramadan: A centuries-old American tradition

by Khaled Beydoun (AlJazeera English)

This weekend marks the beginning of Ramadan. Nearly one-fourth of the world will observe the annual fast and eight million Muslims in the United States will abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the holy month. A gruelling task at any time of the year, Ramadan this year will be especially daunting during the long and hot summer days.

Islam in America is rapidly expanding. It is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second most practiced faith in twenty states. These demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los Angeles-based imam to comment, “Ramadan is a new American tradition.” The cleric’s forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam’s recent arrival in the US. However, this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot of Muslim Americans today – an inability to look back and embrace the opening chapters of Muslim American history written by enslaved African Muslims.

Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or, “[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves” in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims”.

These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.

Between Sunnah and slave codes

Although the Quran “[a]llows a believer to abstain from fasting if he or she is far from home or involved in strenuous work,” many enslaved Muslims demonstrated transcendent piety by choosing to fast while bonded. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, enslaved Muslims held holy month prayers in slave quarters, and put together iftars - meals at sundown to break the fast – that brought observing Muslims together. These prayers and iftars violated slave codes restricting assembly of any kind.

For instance, the Virginia Slave Code of 1723 considered the assembly of five slaves as an “unlawful and tumultuous meeting”, convened to plot rebellion attempts. Every state in the south codified similar laws barring slave assemblages, which disparately impacted enslaved African Muslims observing the Holy Month.

Therefore, practicing Islam and observing Ramadan and its fundamental rituals, for enslaved Muslims in antebellum America, necessitated the violation of slave codes. This exposed them to barbaric punishment, injury, and oftentimes, even death. However, the courage to observe the holy month while bonded, and in the face of grave risk, highlights the supreme piety of many enslaved Muslims.

Ramadan was widely observed by enslaved Muslims. Yet, this history is largely ignored by Muslim American leaders and laypeople alike – and erased from the modern Muslim American narrative.

Rewriting the history of Ramadan in the US

Muslim America was almost entirely black during the antebellum Era. Today, it stands as the most diverse Muslim community in the world. Today African Americans comprise a significant part of the communityalong with Muslims of South Asian and Arab descent. Latin Americans are a rapidly growing demographic in the community, ensuring that Muslims in America are a microcosm of their home nation’s overall multiculturalism.

In the US today, Ramadan dinner tables are sure to include staple Arab or Pakistani dishes. Yet, many Muslim Americans will break the fast with tortas and tamales, halal meatloaf and greens. Muslim diversity in the US has reshaped Ramadan into a multicultural American tradition. The breadth of Muslim America’s racial and cultural diversity today is unprecedented, making this year’s Ramadan – and the Ramadans to follow – new in terms of how transcultural and multiracial the tradition has become.

This Muslim American multiculturalism comes with many challenges: Namely, intra-racism, Arab supremacy, and anti-black racism prevents cohesion inside and outside of American mosques. These deplorable trends perpetuate the erasure of the Muslim slave narrative. Integrating this history will not only mitigate racism and facilitate Muslim American cohesion, but also reveal the deep-rootedness of the faith, and its holiest month, on US soil.

This Ramadan honouring the memory of the first Muslim Americans and their struggle for freedom and sharing their story with loved ones at the iftar table, seems an ideal step towards rewriting this missing chapter of Muslim American history into our collective consciousness.

Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law.

Revealed: The secretive Q Society’s battle against Islam

26 June, 2014 - 20:43

Q_Society Revealed: The secretive Q Society’s battle against Islam

Their only address is a PO Box in suburban Melbourne. They won’t say exactly where their money comes from and say they never will.

And they are very opposed to Islam in Australia.

The secretive organisation known as the Q Society has this week been linked to a noisy campaign to stop the construction of a mosque in Bendigo, Victoria.

Over the past few weeks, some of the town’s businesses and residents have awoken to find black balloons tied up outside their premises as a way of protesting the proposed place of worship.

The $3 million development was approved last week at a raucous council meeting. There were reports indicating the Q Society was a “key force” behind the Bendigo campaign (the organisation says it only held a public meeting and was “not a protest organisation”).

 Black balloons on the corner of Rowena Street and Rohs Road in Bendigo

‘Mosque busters’: Black balloons on the corner of Rowena Street and Rohs Road in Bendigo East. Picture: Ian CurrieSource: News Corp Australia

 News Corp Austarli

‘Education group’: Debbie Robinson, left, and Andrew Horwood. Picture: News Corp Austarlia Source: News Corp Australia

So who exactly are they and what are they doing?

The Q Society — named because the group was founded at a 2010 meeting in the upper class Melbourne suburb of Kew — claims to have members across the country.

Its mission is about “educating” people about Islam, spokesman Andrew Horwood said, rather than leading the protests.

They describe themselves as “Islam-critical”, are avowed opponents of sharia law and have published a book Getting Through: How To Talk To Non Muslims About The Disturbing Nature of Islam and produced YouTube videos including “How to stop a mosque”.

It has few public faces except for its president, Debbie Robinson, and Mr Horwood. “We’re purely educational,” he told news.com.au.

Another image of the proposed mosque.

An image of the proposed mosque. Source: Supplied

Keysar Trad, from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said the group spreads “disturbing, baseless Islamophobia”.

“I think most Australians would normally treat them as a joke but because there’s not enough information out there, not enough good information … about Islam, some people unfortunately subscribe to their message.”

The group is affiliated with an global organisation known as Stop The Islamisation of Nations (SION) — which, as the name suggests, is vehemently anti-Islamic.

The society has been in the headlines several times over the past few years due to its involvement in bringing right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak in Australia.

 AFP

Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Mr Wilders has faced accusations of racial vilification after branding Islam as a violent religion and likening the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

More than 20 venues he was to speak at last year withdrew their support after a firestorm over his visit.

According to Mr Horwood, that’s a sign that Australia has been stifled by political correctness.

“You have to question in 2013 in Australia are people already scared to talk about Islam?” he said. “Are they fearful about what would happen if they discuss Islam?

“You have the riots in Sydney only 18 months ago. Actions like that make people fear (discussing) it.”

 News Corp Aust

Keysar Trad from the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia. Picture: News Corp Australia Source: News Limited

Mr Horwood said members’ security was one reason why the organisation employed secretive measures, such as refusing to name its supporters and nondisclosure agreements for members who attend meetings.

“It’s important in our industry that we understand who is actually there,” Mr Horwood said.

“I’m sure you’re aware of what’s happening overseas with people under 24-hour armed guard. “We like to have an understanding of who’s attending our meetings.”

But Mr Trad said the Q Society was just paranoid.

“The secrecy behind their message is an indication of paranoia. People should realise this is not a message they should take very seriously. It’s a message they should throw in the bin.”

Stop Saying “Moderate Muslims.” You’re Only Empowering Islamophobes

26 June, 2014 - 19:52

imgres Stop Saying “Moderate Muslims.” You’re Only Empowering Islamophobes

By Nathan Lean (The New Republic)

Last week’s Heritage Foundation panel on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi was bound to be an ugly affair, what with the presence of panelist Brigitte Gabriel, a self-described “terrorism analyst” with a laundry list of offensive statements about Islam and Arabs. Sure enough, when attendee Saba Ahmed, an American University law school student, explained that not all Muslims are terrorists, Gabrielretorted that “the peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the way that peaceful Germans were irrelevant during the Holocaust.

That prompted much hand-wringing, primarily on cable news, about the supposed silence of “moderate Muslims” in this supposed age of Islamist extremism. What no one on either side of the debate questioned, though, was the legitimacy of the phrase “moderate Muslims” itself.

In the years that I’ve spent writing about and studying the phenomenon of Islamophobia, that phrase has always troubled me. Muslims and non-Muslims alike bandy it about, though the latter usually demand that the former prove that they are such. What bothers me is not that there aren’t “moderate Muslims”—from my perspective, there certainly are. The unacknowledged problem is how that phrase informs our judgments.

Brigitte Gabriel, for instance, told the Australian Jewish News in 2008, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim,” meaning “moderates” must be only those who don’t practice their religion. Celebrity atheist Sam Harris writes that “moderate Muslims” are those who express skepticism over the divine origins of the Quran and “surely realize that all [sacred] books are now candidates for flushing down the toilet.” Then there’s conservative columnist John Hawkins, who enumerates seven criteria that Muslims must meet in order to be considered “moderate” while the queen of Muslim-bashing, Pamela Geller, asks in typical fashion, “What’s the difference? Today’s moderate is tomorrow’s mass murderer.”

To be fair, it’s not just the wackos. NewsweekNPR, the Wall Street JournalReuters,TIMEThe New Republicand many others have used this phrase to describe Muslims who fit a certain preferred profile. Many Muslims themselves have bought into this dichotomy, if only to distance themselves from the so-called radicals and extremists—to assure paranoid non-Muslims, in other words, “I’m not that kind of Muslim.”

How is it that we talk about Muslims much like we talk about Buffalo wings, their “potency” being measured not by some objective rubric but rather by our personal preferences?. It’s the mild ones that we seem to search out: not so spicy in their religious practices that they burn us, yet not so bland that they dilute our religious diversity altogether.

The idea of a “moderate Islam” or “moderate Muslim” is intellectually lazy because it carves the world up into two camps: the “good” Muslims and the “bad” Muslims, as Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani has noted. (Saba Ahmed herself used the word “bad” in her remarks at the Heritage panel.) Until proven good, or in this case “moderate,” all Muslims are perceived as “bad,” or potentially extreme. We certainly don’t spend our time searching out “moderate” Christians or Jews, but rather reckon that the Westboro BaptistsJewish Defense League, and others are aberrations. And sure, Muslims give us plenty of bad examples, but it’s our own fault if we allow those examples to constipate our ability to perform basic logic.

During the panel, Gabriel argued that “15-25 percent” of the world’s Muslims are extremists, and that the remaining “moderates” are “irrelevant” (I shouldn’t have to explain that it’s usually the majority of a given group that makes the minority irrelevant, not vice versa). Based on the lower end of that range, that’s 240 million of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims — the equivalent of every single Muslim in Sub-Saharan Africa, or nearly six times the number of all Muslims on the entire continent of Europe. Where are the examples of such supposedly widespread extremism? Even if a mere 1 percent of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is committed to violence, why is it that we haven’t seen 16 million violent attacks?

Proving one’s “moderation” is a trap, anyway. The only way to do it is to meet the criteria set forth by the person making the demand. For Gabriel and others, it’s by supporting Western foreign policies in the Middle East, cheering continued military aid to Israel, and even rejecting certain Islamic tenets. It’s why a figure like Zuhdi Jasser, a darling of the Republican Party and Peter King’s star witness in the “radicalization” hearings, is held up like a trophy while Saba Ahmed is mocked.

That’s the problem with this “moderate Muslim” nonsense: it empowers anti-Muslim activists by implying that the degree to which a Muslim digests their religious faith is indicative of their status as a potential terrorist. Thus, “moderately” subscribing to the teachings of the Quran is OK, but should they cross over into the world of daily prayers, Friday afternoons at the mosque, and, God forbid, Ramadan, they’re suddenly flirting with extremism. That way of thinking is predicated on the unfoundednotion that pious religious orthodoxy necessarily entails Muslims behaving badly. It also implies that religious “moderation” involves swallowing up one particular political narrative.

Read the rest…

Le Pen and Wilders fail to form anti-EU bloc

25 June, 2014 - 20:03

Marine-Le-Pen-and-Geert-Wilders Le Pen and Wilders fail to form anti-EU bloc

France’s far-right National Front (FN) has failed to form an alliance with the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders, reducing both parties’ influence in the European Parliament.

Pan-European party blocs get more funding, staff and speaking time in the parliament. The deadline for forming a bloc expired on Monday night.

The new 751-seat assembly, elected in May, holds its first session next week.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has formed a bloc with other Eurosceptics. UKIP’s new allies are the Italian Five Star Movement of comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo, Lithuania’s Order and Justice Party, the nationalist Sweden Democrats and a few anti-EU MEPs from Latvia, the Czech Republic and France. Jointly they are called the New EFD (Europe of Freedom and Democracy).

Under parliament rules, a faction has to consist of at least 25 MEPs from a minimum of seven EU countries. The EU has a total of 28 member states. The FN and PVV failed to satisfy the seven-country rule.

Before the election Mr Wilders and FN leader Marine Le Pen had spoken of their common ambition to return powers from the EU to the nation states.

Ms Le Pen’s triumph, leading the FN to first place in the French election, gave her party 23 seats. It was one of the biggest surprises on an election night that saw big gains for anti-EU parties across Europe. In the last parliament the FN had just three seats.

Mr Wilders was disappointed with the PVV’s result, however. The party won just three seats and fell to fourth place in the Netherlands – well behind liberal and centre-left, pro-EU parties.

Both the FN and PVV want tougher immigration controls, reject the euro and want their countries to leave the EU. Both parties also campaign strongly against the spread of Islam in Europe.

Mr Wilders said forming a faction with Poland’s Congress of the New Right would be “a bridge too far”. The Polish party has been accused of anti-Semitism and misogyny.

But Mr Wilders said he still hoped for co-operation between his PVV and like-minded parties in the parliament over the next five years, including the FN, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) and Italy’s Northern League.

BBC News, 24 June 2014

Leicester house fire deaths: Father who lost his family in blaze says he does not hate their killers

25 June, 2014 - 19:36

Dr.Muhammad_Taufiq Leicester house fire deaths: Father who lost his family in blaze says he does not hate their killers

(Leicester Mercury)

Choking back tears, Dr Muhammad Taufiq paid a loving tribute to his “beloved wife and three beautiful children” who dedicated their lives to God by serving others.

Dr Taufiq was speaking after seven men and a youth were convicted of killing his family in an arson attack as they slept in their terrace home in Spinney Hills, Leicester.

The neurosurgeon was away working in Dublin when the fatal attack was launched, but had spoken to his family about an hour before they died.

Miraculously, three copies of the Koran, one belonging to his wife, Shehnila, and the others belonging to sons Bilal and Jamal, survived the inferno that engulfed their home.

He showed them at a press conference held at the Hilton Hotel in Nottingham yesterday, shortly after the verdicts were returned.

Dr Taufiq also showed an envelope containing money raised by the family for a mosque project in Dublin which had also survived.

Talking of his family, Dr Taufiq said: “I can say they were really extra-ordinary people. They were very charitable. They had a strong concern for the welfare of others even before their own comfort.

“They had devoted their lives to a dream to give to others, the needy, the less privileged and the misguided. Four amazing human beings.”

He said his wife’s many good deeds included providing voluntary help and support to people in need.

Dr Taufiq said his daughter, Zainab, also did charitable work. He added that she was “always smiling and friendly to everyone in her school”.

Speaking of his elder son, he said: “Bilal was one of the most extraordinary, amazing and God-gifted people. At the age of 16, he was the editor of a religious magazine. He used to record his own religious songs.”

He also said Bilal had “memorised the whole of the Koran by heart”.

Of his younger son, Dr Taufiq said: “Jamal was a smiler who mixed with everyone. He made a number of friends both in his school and local community. He was nearly at the end of memorising of the whole of the Koran. He used to play football in goal and at Spinney Hill Park.”

The neurosurgeon said his wife had completed her five years of religious studies last year. Zainab was going to complete her studies this year. Bilal was in his first year of his Islamic theology course and Jamal was going to join the same course this year.

He said: “The ultimate goal of these four amazing people was to live and work together with a primary aim to serve community and humanity.”

Asked if he hated the defendants for what they did to his family, Dr Taufiq said: “I do not hate the people, but I hate the crime.”

He added: “They have not admitted what they have done. They have lied. They will have to live with that on their consciences for the rest of their lives.”

Dr Taufiq attended several days during the trial. He said it was important for him to have done so to seen the outcome.

He said: “I had to find out what happened.”

Dr Taufiq thanked many people who had helped and supported him throughout the past nine months, including Leicestershire Police, Victim Support and his colleagues in Dublin.

He added: “My thanks to all the communities in Leicester, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and so on. I have no family members in the UK, but now consider the whole of the country and people in Leicester as my family.

“Thank you to all those people all over the world who prayed for me and my family and keep us in their thoughts and prayer.

“My special thanks to all in the media who remained very much helpful and positive throughout this difficult time.”

Tomorrow he will read a victim impact statement to the court.

No-fly list appeals process unconstitutional, federal judge in Portland rules

25 June, 2014 - 19:21

USMuslims-Hail-No-Fly-List-Ruling No-fly list appeals process unconstitutional, federal judge in Portland rules

By Helen Jung | hjung@oregonian.com 

People who are placed on the government’s no-fly list are denied their constitutional right to due process, because the government’s procedures to challenge inclusion on the secretive roster are “wholly ineffective,” a federal judge ruled.

In a 65-page opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Anna Brown ordered the government to come up with a new way for the 13 plaintiffs to contest their inclusion on the list that prohibits them from flying in or through U.S. airspace. The government must provide notice to the plaintiffs that they are on the roster and give the reasons for their inclusion, Brown wrote. She also ordered that the government allow the plaintiffs to submit evidence to refute the government’s suspicions.

The decision marks a big win for the plaintiffs — all U.S. citizens or permanent residents — and the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case on their behalf. The plaintiffs have all been denied boarding due to their placement on the list, they argue, despite never having been charged with a terrorism-related offense.

The plaintiffs include Sheikh Mohamed Kariye, the religious leader of Portland’s largest mosque, Masjed As-Saber. Kariye was refused boarding in 2010 and has been unable to travel overseas to visit his daughter or accompany his mother on a religious pilgrimage since.

In an email, the ACLU hailed the decision.

“For years, in the name of national security the government has argued for blanket secrecy and judicial deference to its profoundly unfair No Fly List procedures, and those arguments have now been resoundingly rejected by the court,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi, one of the attorneys who argued the case.

“Our clients will finally get the due process to which they are entitled under the Constitution. This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the No Fly List, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardships. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watchlist system, which has swept up so many innocent people.”

This posting will be updated with additional details.

Also see:

US Muslims Hail ‘No-Fly’ List Ruling

Buddhist Monks Who Are Speaking Out Against the Extremist Bodu Bala Sena Are Being Beaten

24 June, 2014 - 19:26

Wataraka_Vijitha_Thero

The same Buddhist leader whose interfaith meeting with Muslims was violently disrupted by the BBS in April of this year has been attacked, beaten, stripped naked and found unconscious. (h/t: JD)

Sri Lanka moderate monk critical of anti-Muslim violence beaten

(BBC)

Wataraka Vijitha Thero was found undressed and with numerous cuts on his body in the district of Panadura.

He is a vocal critic of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Brigade), whose rally in a southern town triggered deadly anti-Muslim riots on Sunday night.

Four people have died in the sectarian violence, Sri Lanka’s worst in years.

Although there has been a lot of discussion of the violence on Sri Lankan social media, most mainstream media outlets on the island – with a few exceptions – have given little coverage and not sent journalists to report on the events, reports the BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo.

According to media reports, the BBS has denied being behind the assault on the monk.

Wataraka Vijitha Thero has made statements supportive of Muslims and he has also complained to the police that he has received death threats.

Many of the attacks on homes and businesses took place in the village of Welipenna, near the town of Aluthgama where Sunday’s rally was held. There have also been attacks on Muslim businesses in two other towns in the south. An unarmed security guard from the Tamil minority was killed at a farm near Aluthgama.

Three Muslims were shot dead amidst clashes with hard-line Buddhists, as the BBC’s Charles Haviland reports

He was hacked to death and his Sinhalese colleague seriously injured when a Buddhist mob raided the farm. The mob was estimated to number between 50 and 120.

The BBS is openly supported by Sri Lanka’s powerful defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the brother of the president. On Wednesday, President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the riot-hit area of Beruwala and promised military help in rebuilding ruined properties.

But the most senior Muslim minister in his cabinet staged a boycott of parliament and said his own government – which is overwhelmingly Buddhist – did nothing to prevent the violence.

Muslim activists have called on Muslims countrywide not to go to work on Thursday as a sign of protest.

A Sri Lankan Muslim man talks over his mobile phone as he stands among the debris of his charred house, in Aluthgama, town, 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, June 16, 2014.Many Muslim-owned properties have been attacked and some set alight

For the past couple of years, Sinhalese Buddhist revivalist groups have been staging demonstrations heavily laden with anti-Muslim rhetoric, usually led by monks.

Muslims have called on the government to protect them from hate attacks by Buddhists. Some Buddhists have accused minorities of enjoying too much influence.

Muslims make up 10% of the country’s mainly Buddhist population.

Islamophobe Charles Jacobs Crusade Against Newton Schools

24 June, 2014 - 00:27

charles_jacobs.JPG1

By Emperor

Charles Jacobs, a prolific far right-wing, Zionist, Neo-Conservative propagandist has a well known history of anti-Muslim activism.

The Forward listed Charles Jacobs as one of America’s Top 50 Jewish leaders in 2007. Apparently they were looking more at the range of his activism and less at what mischief he was actually up to.

Jacobs has been a founder of Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, the American Anti-Slavery Group, and the David Project, a member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and has now created the oxymoronically named Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Jacobs has taken Abe Foxman to task for being too soft on Muslims.

Jacobs, who describes Pamela Geller as his “heroine” has led efforts against mosques and campus organizations, doing whatever he can to cast a wide net of suspicion over the entire Muslim American community. He is also known for vicious personal attacks on other Jews who don’t agree with his views and criticize his witch-hunt campaigns.

This past school year Jacobs turned his attention to the Newton, Massachusetts’ school curriculum, describing it as “anti-Semitic” and claiming that it propagated, “proselytized” for and “glorified Islam.”

Florida Islamophobes look through section on Islam in history text.

Florida Islamophobes look through section on Islam in history text.

Such efforts, viewed within a nationwide context, highlight the concerted efforts of Islamophobic hate groups in attacking public school curricula for using textbooks that include lessons on Islam and Muslims.

In the South for instance, ACT! For America and the Eagle Forum have attempted to challenge, expunge and or change the teaching of Islam in History and Social Studies courses in states such as Alabama, TexasTennessee and Florida.

Jacobs’ crusade is in the same vein, piggy-backing off of a complaint of anti-Semitism made by a single parent regarding Newton’s History curriculum (the complaint was rejected) Jacobs and his organization, “Americans for Peace and Tolerance,” took out full page ads in Massachusetts newspapers claiming biased texts that “teach lies, hate and intolerance,”

Newton_Schools_Globe-BW.inddBeginning on Oct. 23, ads criticizing the Newton curriculum began running in the Boston Herald, Newton Tab, Metro Boston, Jewish Advocate, and Boston Globe. The ads say the district uses “biased texts” to teach lies, hate, and intolerance.

Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said he cannot prove that all of the passages cited in the ads are actually taught to students, but that any book that contains such passages should not be part of the curriculum. He said it is up to the schools to make the entire curriculum publicly available to prove there is no anti-Semitism.

“We don’t know exactly what students are being taught, we know what’s in those books,” said Jacobs. “They won’t tell us what students are being taught.”

Superintendent David Fleishman, who along with Hills was named personally in the ads, said the district encourages parents to read the curriculum. He has not heard from a single Newton parent concerned about the teaching materials since the ads ran, he said.

The Anti-Defamation League has deeply disagreed with Jacobs, describing his ads as misleading, beyond reasonable criticism,

Parents should not be worried by allegations in the ads, he said. “The Newton public schools do not have an agenda to delegitimize Israel and glorify Islam,” Trestan said.

The gutter tactics employed by Jacobs and his organizations are once again on display, this time endangering the life of school curriculum vice chairman Matt Hills,

Some of the ads featured the home telephone number for Hills, and he said he has received more than 100 calls, some in the middle of the night and almost all from outside Newton. The police, said Hills, “were wonderful and continue to be wonderful in providing security to our home.”

Numerous Rabbinic clergy have also condemned Jacobs in the past and this time it was no different.

Clergy at Temple Emanuel, where Hills attends and where his wife is president, sent out a joint statement last week demanding that the ads be retracted, calling them “baseless” and “scurrilous.”

Eric Gurvis, rabbi at Temple Shalom and father of three Newton North alumni and one current student, called the ads “a witch hunt to promote a very narrow agenda.”

Gurvis, who said he has had run-ins with Americans for Peace and Tolerance in the past, said he remembered the 2011 incident at Newton South that sparked the earlier controversy, but called it an example of accountability by the school because the material at issue was removed.

“There are things in that ad that are based on things that actually happened, but a lot of it is hyperbole based on a trumping-up of what happened and a shading of the facts,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s a legitimate way to conduct discourse in a community.”

Gurvis said the Watertown organization has already had its concerns addressed many times.

“Peace and tolerance is not what their work is really about,” he said.

Jacobs isn’t letting the humiliation of his claims being consistently rejected end his crusade against Newton schools. He created another organization, this one called “Open Newton Schools” for the purpose of continuing his quixotic and bigoted campaign to pressure Newton Schools to implement his version of pseudo-history and hate-filled beliefs regarding Islam and Muslims.

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