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Lincoln County Chairman Carrol Mitchem: “Only Christian Prayers Welcome At Meetings”

11 May, 2015 - 20:52

Carrol_Mitchem_Christian

From the complete-incomprehension-of-the-US-Constitution/Kooky-RightWing-Evangelicalism-Files #324590408282:

By John Cominsky, Charlotte Observer

A Lincoln County commissioner says non-Christian prayer is not welcome in government meetings that he is a part of and that he plans on keeping it that way.

Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chairman Carrol Mitchem told WBTV that any prayer from a “minority religion” would not be heard before county meetings if he has a say in the matter.

“Other religions, or whatever, are in the minority. The U.S. was founded on Christianity,” Mitchem said. “I don’t believe we need to be bowing to the minorities. The U.S. and the Constitution were founded on Christianity. This is what the majority of people believe in, and it’s what I’m standing up for.”

WBTV contacted Mitchem after a report was published in the Lincoln Times-News. In that report, Mitchem was asked about Rowan County, which was ordered earlier in the week by a federal court to stop opening meetings with a sectarian prayer. A federal judge ruled the Rowan County Board of Commissioners violated the Constitution when they held prayers before public meetings that were specific to one religion – Christianity.

“Changing rules on the way the United States was founded, Constitution was founded (I don’t like),” Mitchem told the paper. “I don’t need no Arab or Muslim or whoever telling me what to do or us here in the county what to do about praying. If they don’t like it, stay the hell away.”

Mitchem echoed that sentiment to WBTV on Friday.

“I ain’t gonna have no new religion or pray to Allah or nothing like that,” Mitchem said. He added that anyone who doesn’t want to hear a Christian prayer can leave and “wait until we’re done praying.

“We’re fighting Muslims every day. I’m not saying they’re all bad,” Mitchem said. “They believe in a different God than I do. If that’s what they want to do, that’s fine. But, they don’t need to be telling us, as Christians, what we need to be doing. They don’t need to be rubbing our faces in it.”

Jibril Hough, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Charlotte, said such attitudes go against the principles on which the country was founded. “If you don’t believe the rights of the minority are equal to the rights of the majority, then you are against what America stands for,” Hough said. “That’s why we live in a democratic republic.”

Muslims, he added, “pray to the God of Abraham, the same God Christians and Jews pray to.”

Read the entire article…

Germany: Four Arrested Over Plot To Attack Muslims And Asylum Seekers

10 May, 2015 - 15:07

Germany_Polizei

BBC

Prosecutors said that three men and one woman were accused of founding a far-right group and procuring explosives.

They added that a previously unknown group, the “Old Schools Society”, had been planning to attack mosques and hostels for asylum seekers.

The suspects were arrested in raids across five German states involving some 250 investigators.

“In the search, pyrotechnics with large explosive power and further pieces of evidence were confiscated,” said the prosecutor’s office in a statement.

Read the entire article…

Troy police: Man attacked 7-11 manager because he is Muslim

7 May, 2015 - 04:40

James-Duane-Tree-jpg

ClickOnDetroit.com

TROY, Mich. –

A 53-year-old Farmington Hills man is accused of threatening to kill a Troy 7-Eleven clerk and attacking the store manager because they are Muslims.

Police say James Tree entered the store on Crooks Road Friday evening and approached the counter to buy beer. Tree directed a number of ethnic slurs at the clerk and threatened to kill him because he is a Muslim, police said.

The manager told Tree to leave the store, but that didn’t go over well. Police say Tree went around the counter and started attacking the manager. Tree allegedly punched the manager several times in the face with a closed fist while making more offensive remarks about Muslims.

The clerk and manager eventually overpowered Tree, removed him from the store and locked him out. Police received a 911 call from the store and the hold-up alarm also was received. Tree fled to a nearby gas station where officers found him and arrested him.

Police say he continued to make derogatory remarks about Muslims during his arrest.

Police say the store manager suffered head and facial injuries. He was treated by paramedics but was not transported to a hospital.

Tree is charged with two counts of ethnic intimidation and one count of assault and battery. He was arraigned this week and was given a $25,000 cash/surety bond, or 10 percent. Police say he was under the influence of alcohol during the attack. A preliminary breath test showed he had a .16 blood alcohol level.

French mayor attacked for counting schoolchildren with ‘Muslim names’

7 May, 2015 - 04:31

Robert Ménard

What’s he going to do with these Muslim names?

AFP, The Guardian

A French mayor backed by the far-right Front National has been accused of racism after using the names of schoolchildren in his town to decide how many were Muslim.

Under France’s strict secularism laws, the government does not keep statistics on people’s religion or ethnicity.

But Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers in the south of the country, said his administration had used lists of pupils’ names to decide how many were Muslim, and claimed the figure came to 64.6%.

“Sorry to say this, but the mayor has, class by class, the names of the children,” he said on France 2 television on Tuesday night.

“I know I don’t have the right to do it. Sorry to say it, but the first names tell us their religion. To say otherwise is to deny the evidence,” he added.

His comments brought condemnation from the Socialist government, with the prime minister, Manuel Valls, tweeting: “Shame on the mayor”.

“The Republic does not make any distinction between its children,” Valls said.

The education minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, said she had called for a judicial investigation, saying Ménard’s statements were “profoundly anti-Republican”.

“I am scandalised, sickened by these comments,” added Abdallah Zekri, head of the National Observatory Against Islamophobia.

Read the entire article…

China orders Muslim shopkeepers to sell alcohol, cigarettes, to ‘weaken’ Islam

6 May, 2015 - 06:33

xinjiang

Absurd measures by a worried, officially atheist, regime in China.

By Simon Denyer, Washington Post

Chinese authorities have ordered Muslim shopkeepers and restaurant owners in a village in its troubled Xinjiang region to sell alcohol and cigarettes, and promote them in “eye-catching displays,” in an attempt to undermine Islam’s hold on local residents, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported. Establishments that failed to comply were threatened with closure and their owners with prosecution.

Facing widespread discontent over its repressive rule in the mainly Muslim province of Xinjiang, and mounting violence in the past two years, China has launched a series of “strike hard” campaigns to weaken the hold of Islam in the western region. Government employees and children have been barred from attending mosques or observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. In many places, women have been barred from wearing face-covering veils, and men discouraged from growing long beards.

In the village of Aktash in southern Xinjiang, Communist Party official Adil Sulayman, told RFA that many local shopkeepers had stopped selling alcohol and cigarettes from 2012 “because they fear public scorn,” while many locals had decided to abstain from drinking and smoking.

Read the entire article…

Former Head of PEGIDA Disavows Group, Apologizes to Muslims

4 May, 2015 - 22:11

Lutz_Bachmann

Lutz Bachmann, former head of PEGIDA discovered that she was a racist Islamophobe and now wants to be a leader for world peace.

Here she is, profiled in the Washington Post.:

By Rick Noack

Only few months ago, nobody would have imagined that one of the most emotional pro-tolerance speeches would one day come from one of Germany’s fiercest critics of Islam and immigrants.

Yet it was Kathrin Oertel – once the leader of Germany’s anti-immigrant Pegida movement, which drew tens of thousands of supporters at its peak – who apologized to Muslims in a video message published  Thursday on Facebook.

“Those still belonging to the Pegida movement need to understand that they are advocating for the wrong cause,” she said. “Asylum seekers are blamed for our problems in Europe and Germany. However, they’re not the root cause of our struggle,” she continued before directing her words to the immigrants she had previously condemned.

“I want to apologize to all migrants and to all Muslims among them who live peacefully and are assimilated with German society, who respect our culture and laws. They are in the vast majority and most Germans overlook this fact,” Oertel said.

Oertel had first been the spokeswoman and later the head of the popular movement which shocked the world. Since last November, right-wing extremists and ordinary citizens had marched in joint weekly rallies in opposition to Muslim immigration to Germany. The weekly protests continue, though the number of supporters has dwindled.

“I feel partially responsible for a campaign of hatred we caused. I want to apologize and the only thing I can do is to help resolve those tensions,” Oertel said in the statement which appeared to have been spontaneously recorded in a car.

“To achieve peace, one needs to be ready for dialogue,” Oertel said. “That’s the only way to get rid of prejudices.” The ex-Pegida leader made clear that she was no longer fighting against Islam, but instead for “world peace,” according to her own words. “Someone needs to start to connect people,” she said — implying that she was ready to be that person. She also acknowledged that she had failed to draw huge support for the goal of world peace, so far. “We were even verbally attacked by opponents,” Oertel said, sounding honestly outraged.

Read the rest of the article…

Warmonger Zuhdi Jasser Supports MEK Terrorists, Calls For Regime Change in Iran

1 May, 2015 - 22:45

Fox's favorite Muzzie

Fox’s favorite Muzzie

By Emperor

Is there a neo-con war that the sad Zuhdi Jasser will not support or advocate? If you recall, Zuhdi was a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, now he is praising Maryam Rajavi, leader of the cult group, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a group that Seymour Hersh revealed received training from the CIA.

The MEK was a designated foreign terrorist organization until it was taken off the list in 2012 due to the lobbying efforts of former government officials. (via. Imraan Siddiqi)

Zuhdi_Jasser

French Soldiers Accused of Sexually Abusing Refugees in the Central African Republic

30 April, 2015 - 21:28

French soldiers take position on their tank while they monitor displaced people leaving after a food distribution process was cancelled in Socati stadium, in Bangui

The French have known about these allegations since last year.

By Laura Smith-Park, CNN

Paris (CNN)Hungry, homeless young boys in the Central African Republic were forced by French soldiers to perform sex acts on them in return for food or money, the director of an advocacy group said Thursday, citing a confidential United Nations report on alleged abuses.

Paula Donovan, co-director of Aids Free World, told CNN the report detailed testimonies from six children interviewed last year by staff from the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The children give harrowing accounts of their own experiences and abuses they had witnessed, and they recounted the experiences of friends of theirs, she said.

The allegations concern French soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic as peacekeepers.

The abuses were allegedly committed against a dozen children at a displaced persons’ camp at M’Poko International Airport in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, between December 2013 and June 2014.

The shocking allegations have prompted French President Francois Hollande to promise strong action if they are confirmed.

“If some soldiers behaved badly, I will be merciless,” he said in comments broadcast by CNN’s French affiliate BFMTV.

“If this information is confirmed, there will be exemplary sanctions.”

Donovan said one boy recounted how a soldier who he’d asked for food had asked him to perform oral sex in exchange. When the boy refused, the soldier asked him to find a woman who would, she said.

Another boy told how a soldier took him inside an army base, overriding the objections of a guard, and sexually abused him there.

The report was sent to her in recent days at Aids Free World, Donovan said, but she was not at liberty to say by whom. The advocacy group shared it with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, which reported on the allegations late Wednesday, saying the report had “confidential” stamped on every page.

The document already had been leaked to French authorities last year.

A U.N. staffer has been suspended over the leak, a statement from the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

Read the entire article…

AlJazeera English: Campaigning Against Pakistan’s Deadly Blasphemy Laws

30 April, 2015 - 21:13

Pakistan_Blasphemy

It’s good to see Arafat Mazhar‘s efforts to reform blasphemy laws in Pakistan highlighted on a leading news website. I’ve been following his series on the historical, religio-political and juristic dimensions revolving around the issue of blasphemy on the Dawn website.

He’s making a tremendous effort that should be supported especially by those who claim to want to see more justice for the persecuted and discriminated in Pakistan.

Prominent Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was assassinated recently, was a supporter of Mazhar’s work, which she described as “fascinating” and “a step in the right direction.”

By Sarah Alvi, AlJazeera English

The recent killing of prominent activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi is a chilling reminder of the rapidly shrinking space for open dialogue in Pakistan. So a push for deliberation on the country’s highly contentious blasphemy law may surprise many.

But it is happening.

Arafat Mazhar, a young researcher from the eastern city of Lahore, has launched a campaign to use Islamic legal reasoning to demand an overhaul of the blasphemy law, which can result in a death sentence for those convicted.

Outside the justice system, meanwhile, at least 60 people have been killed in cases related to the blasphemy law since 1990, according to Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

Though “angry and hurt” at the news of Mahmud’s assassination, Mazhar told Al Jazeera he feels motivated to continue building a bridge with hard-line conservatives in Pakistan to change the acrimonious law by “bringing them [to] the table rather than antagonising them”.

Before her killing, Mahmud – who also championed for intellectual engagement – said she was “fascinated” by Mazhar’s campaign. “It is an incredible step in the right direction,” she told Al Jazeera several weeks before her assassination.

“It takes generations to change mindsets. But there should at least be a space to reform the law and to have a discussion or debate over it,” she said.

The blasphemy law mandates the death penalty for anyone who defiles the name of the Prophet Muhammad as a divine decree – a concept perpetuated by right-wing hardliners and religious political parties.

“When political forces are the only ones using the religious symbol, it is very easy for them to manipulate the narrative and misguide the masses,” Mazhar said.

His campaign is based on the belief that the inclusion of a divinely ordained and unpardonable death sentence as the only possible punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan’s legal framework is wrong.

Mazhar’s claim is backed by research on the history of Hanafi deliberation on the issue of blasphemy. Hanafi dogma is one of the five major Islamic schools of thought, and is widely followed by Muslims in Pakistan.

Now, by using classical Islamic reasoning to interpret the law, Mazhar is championing for change.

Read the entire article…

French Muslim student banned from school for wearing long black skirt

30 April, 2015 - 01:03

The student who had been prevented from going to class because of her long skirt had always removed her veil - banned because it shows religious affiliation – before entering school.

The student who was stopped from going to class because of her long skirt had always removed her veil – banned because it shows religious affiliation – before entering her school. Photograph: Alamy

Secular extremism at work?

The Guardian

A 15-year-old Muslim girl has been banned from class twice for wearing a long black skirt seen as too openly religious for secular France, in a case that has sparked an outcry.

The girl was stopped from going to class earlier this month by the headteacher who reportedly felt the long skirt “conspicuously” showed religious affiliation, which is banned in schools by France’s strict secularity laws.

Continue reading ….

AlJazeera: How Arabs reached out to Armenians amid 1915 massacre

24 April, 2015 - 21:01

Armenia_Genocide

By Nour Samaha, AlJazeera English

Beirut - As Armenians and Turks mark the centenary of the disputed events of 1915 – what Armenians claim was “genocide” and Turks insist were counterinsurgency measures – a number of events have taken place to commemorate the tragedy and give voice to the families impacted.

But little has been said of the role played by Arabs in addressing the humanitarian disaster that ensued as tens of thousands of refugees and orphans streamed out of Anatolia.

“The Arab role in helping the Armenians during [these events] is very much understudied,” Reverend Paul Haidostian, president of Hagazian University and an Armenian scholar, told Al Jazeera.

“It started with individual Arabs, especially tribal leaders from the Syrian desert, [who] tried to save the Armenians who were forced on their death marches,” he explained. “They tried to help in any way they were able to; either by adopting the orphans or feeding the people – trying to save them somehow.”

After the Turks deported the Armenians in what have been called “death marches” to Deir Ezzor in Syria and the deserts in Iraq, areas considered to be predominantly Muslim-inhabited, many survivor accounts describe how Arabs offered help and shelter.

“When Armenian communities were able to reach cities like Aleppo, one task was to try and reunite with each other, find the orphans and bring them back [into the communities],” Haidostian said. Through contacts and word of mouth, many Arab families who had adopted the orphans returned them to their communities. “This was a very common theme; that the orphans would be ‘lost’ for a few years and then they would find their way back to their families. It happened to thousands of Armenians.”

In the period leading up to the mass killings, the Turks reportedly used religion as a cover to justify committing atrocities against the Armenians. There are reports of preachers urging Turks to attack and drive out Armenians, claiming they were against Muslims. Ethnic minorities, especially non-Muslims, were forced to live as second-class citizens, obliged to pay “jizya” – protection money – for being non-Muslim. This is the same tax being levied today by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against Christians in the areas they control in Syria and Iraq.

“The Turks wielded religion as an instrument … but it certainly was not a religious issue,” Vera Yacoubian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee in the Middle East, told Al Jazeera. “First off, there were many Arabs who faced the same fate as the Armenians at the time. The Turks were pushing a pan-Turkic agenda, not a Muslim one.”

Arab religious figures condemned the use of religion by the Turks, issuing fatwas and decrees calling on Arabs to help the Armenians. In 1909, a Turkish mufti issued a religious ruling urging Turks to kill Armenians. Sheikh al-Bishri of al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo – one of the world’s leading Islamic institutions – issued a counter-fatwa, calling such acts un-Islamic and urging Muslims to protect minorities.

This was reinforced by another decree issued by the Sharif of Mecca in 1917, calling on Arab Muslims to protect Armenians: “What is requested from you … is to protect everyone who may be staying or living in your quarters or neighbourhood or among your tribes of the Armenian Jacobite community.”

Read the entire article…

Muslim Woman Discriminated by Florida Domino’s Pizza

24 April, 2015 - 20:27

Muslim_Woman_Florida_Dominoes_Hijab

CAIR-Florida.org, BARTOW, Fla. – The Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR Florida) has announced they will pursue a lawsuit for public accommodation discrimination and other legal claims against a Davenport Domino’s Pizza for the horrendous treatment of a Muslim customer on July 27, 2012.

Hakima Benaddi, a Florida woman who was wearing a Muslim head covering at the time, was accused by Domino’s Pizza management of threatening to blow up the location after she complained about the service and pizza she received. On July 27, 2012, a pregnant Benaddi went to Domino’s to order a veggie pizza with her 23-month-old daughter. When Benaddi opened her pizza box she discovered that it was grossly inadequate and returned to complain and seek a refund.

“I was surprised because what I got was nothing like my order,” Benaddi explained. “That pizza was barely suitable to feed to a dog.”

Prior to the incident, Benaddi was a regular customer at the location. There was one small difference, however, on the day of the incident Benaddi had recently started covering her hair by wearing the hijab, the Muslim head scarf.

The Domino’s Pizza did not assist Benaddi when she returned, they did not offer to make her a new pizza or offer her a refund. Instead, the cashier laughed at her and mocked her limited English proficiency.

Then, in what could only be described as a brazen discriminatory act, the Domino’s Pizza management called local police claiming that Benaddi had threatened to blow up the location resulting in Benaddi’s arrest.

Benaddi was in custody for over 24 hours before she was released. She was also forced to remove her headscarf before her booking image was taken.

CAIR Florida’s investigator revealed that eyewitness accounts were consistent with that of Benaddi’s and admitting that Benaddi never made any threats other than to file a complaint. The story the Domino’s Pizza’s manager provided to the police was completely, intentionally and maliciously fabricated.

Although the felony charge against Hakima was dropped before the arraignment, Domino’s Pizza has yet to confirm any wrongdoing.

“Without them acknowledging what they did wrong, this is our only opportunity for her voice to be heard,” said Thania Diaz Clevenger, Civil Rights Director of CAIR Florida. “We need to tell people that this is not okay, to let Domino’s Pizza know this is not okay, and to let other Muslim women who are targeted to know that they can stand up for themselves.”

Khaled Abou El-Fadl: The End of the Arab Spring, the Rise of ISIS and the Future of Political Islam

22 April, 2015 - 21:46

AFP / Mahmoud Khaled

AFP / Mahmoud Khaled

A must read article by the scholar Khaled Abou El-Fadl. While it details the dire state of things today, the various countervailing and absurd forces that have brought us to the current predicament, he ends his article on a surprisingly prosaic and hopeful note about the inevitability of hurriya.

Yet all those who bothered with the pretence of sympathetic sorrow over the blood of the thousands of martyrs who died dreaming of hurriyya should not feel too self-assured. Hurriyya is the natural order of things, and like life itself, it will inevitably sprout again. It could sprout even in the restless heat of the summer, the warm docility of the fall, or the quiet surrender of a very cold of winter.

By Khaled Abou El-Fadl, ABC News

Ever since the French landed on the shores of Egypt in 1798, we have been in the grip of a past alienated from its history, an identity divorced from its memory, and insecure flashes of pride defeated by a deep sense of indignity.

Then came the Arab Spring!

So many thought the Arab Spring would allow the region self-determination, and would shift the gaze of the world away from the twin spectres of oil and Israel. Perhaps the world would finally gaze upon Arabs without racism and Islam without bigotry.

The Arab Spring was a resounding protest against everything, from the corruption of the West’s corporate cronies – who exploit the region’s natural resources so that they can enjoy the latest luxuries their colonial masters have to offer – to the foreign occupations and humiliations heaped upon all those who dared to think that they had a right to resist.

The Arab Spring was about this magical word, hurriyya, which means different things to different people – but at a minimum, it means freedom from oppression, exploitation, corruption and a servile existence.

But the Arab Spring was like a foetus in an abortion clinic; it never had a chance.

I

Why was the Arab Spring aborted? Because a democratic Middle East would have been a poor habitat for the survival of the parasitical military regimes and putrid oil sheikhdoms, which relentlessly eradicate any healthy space for the development of civic institutions that can cultivate and nurture the growth of civic values. Those regimes cannot afford to rule over citizens. They can only rule over slaves.

The truth is that with the failure of the Arab Spring, so many politicians and intellectuals in the West and the Arab world breathed a sigh of relief. Why? Because the danger of so-called political Islam had been averted. And indeed, so many pundits gleefully declared that the phenomenon of political Islam was finally dead.

In Egypt, the largest Arab country, what ensued had become a familiar and repetitive pattern since colonialism: in the name of modernity and progress, the state went into an ultra-repressive mode, persecuted Islamists, banned Islamic parties and declared war on all expressions of Islam that it deemed political. Abdel Fattah El Sisi even equated political Islam with terrorism, and in an interview with a French newspaper, when asked to comment on Hamas, Sisi responded that political Islam in all of its permutations and forms are one and the same.

This was only a harbinger of what was to come: Egypt has now formally declared Hamas a terrorist organization, but apparently, as far as Sisi is concerned, Netanyahu’s government – with its war crimes and ongoing unlawful occupation of Palestinian lands – is kosher.

By now, it is beyond dispute that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait bought themselves a counter-revolution in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. These countries formed a reactionary alliance to intervene wherever they can to restore the morally defunct and corrupt old order. In each case, they flooded the hopelessly corrupt cadres of the military officers with enough cash to buy proxy agents capable of expressing the egotistic anxieties of despots.

Instead of hurriyya and freedom, all of the focus now is on fighting terrorism and maintaining stability and security, which, in the case of the aforementioned countries, is a superficially coded way of saying: Don’t dare dream of self-determination and autonomy, because political Islam is the ever-present boogeyman ready to return you to the dark ages (‘usur or ‘uqud al-zalam) once again!

If this exclamatory warning is hopelessly confusing, then welcome to the madhouse. Have the military juntas and sheikhdoms ruling the Arab world since colonialism taken the region out of the dark ages in the first place? What precisely is the current blissful state of enlightenment that Muslims are at risk of losing to the political Islamist hoards, and what exactly are the blessed fruits of the praetorian states and the oil sheikhdoms that the barbarians at the gates are threatening to usurp from the post-colonial Arab?

But, even more fundamentally, what is this political Islam that is equated with reactionism, the dark ages and barbarism and terrorism?

II

Islam, its doctrines, symbolisms and linguistic constructs, are persistently utilized by the Gulf States to legitimate and maintain themselves in power. The exploitation of religion as a means to keeping a conservative and exploitative elite in power is a staple of everyday life in the Gulf countries. Every one of those countries carefully nurtures and maintains a class of clergymen with religious institutions that function as a conservative legitimating force safeguarding the status quo, which includes the exploitative use of foreign workers, and a hyper-form of Gulf nationalistic elitism.

This Islamized and oddly pietistic Gulf nationalism often manifests itself in highly racist and ethnocentric ways, deep seated social and political inequities, entrenched patriarchal institutions, and unabashed political despotism and authoritarianism. Critical to this dynamic is that the state carefully defines, regulates and dictates religious expression and orthodoxy. Religion is also exploited to further state policies, such as antagonism towards Shi’i Iran and other Shi’i allies.

Even Sisi of Egypt, who plays the role of the protector of secularism in the region, allows for no expression of religious values outside the sphere defined and controlled by the state. The state controls which places of worship are built and where, and in the case of Islam, also what can be said in mosques. The state controls what Muslim clergy may say on their podiums and relies on Azhar state-salaried clergy to defend its legitimacy and Islamic orthodoxy in the face of any dissent. All the Islamic charitable endowments that exist in Egypt have been placed under state control and have been plundered by corruption and nepotism. Incidentally, thanks to the precedent established by colonial powers, the Coptic religious endowments remain under the private control of the church.

Not only did Sisi secure the support of the Azhar and Coptic church before the coup in July 2013, but before the massacre of Raba’a al-Adawiya mosque, he brought in a line-up of clerics to lecture the army officers that Islam mandates the removal of democratically elected governments and that whether they do the killing or be killed, in both cases, they are honoured and blessed in the eyes of God.

Read the entire article…

DemocracyNow: FBI Informant Exposes Sting Operation Targeting Innocent Americans in New “(T)ERROR” Documentary

21 April, 2015 - 23:30

Terror-Documentary-Film-Poster

This type of harassment of American Muslims continues unabated. If the FBI can’t entrap you they will find other ways to ruin your life.

Democracy Now

We spend the hour with an explosive new film that shines a bright light on the FBI’s shadowy use of informants in its counterterrorism sting operations. These undercover operatives are meant to root out would-be terrorists before they attack. Since 9/11, they have been used to prosecute at least 158 people. But critics argue they often target the wrong people, “including those with intellectual and mental disabilities, and the indigent.” “(T)ERROR” goes inside the world of a particular informant who has played a key role in several major terrorism cases. It does so while he is in the middle of carrying out his latest sting operation. It came together when two independent filmmakers gained unprecedented access to follow Saeed Torres, whose undercover name is “Shariff,” a 63-year-old former black revolutionary turned FBI informant, as he monitors a white Muslim convert named Khalifah al-Akili. Torres knew one of the directors, Lyric Cabral, and after he came out to her as an informant, he agreed to share his story, without informing his superiors. As the film unfolds, al-Akili begins to post on his Facebook page that he suspects the FBI is targeting him. The filmmakers used this an opportunity to approach him, and soon find themselves interviewing him at the same time they are also documenting “Shariff” monitoring him. During this time each man remains unaware that the filmmakers are talking to the other one. We get the rest of the story when we are joined by the filmmakers who co-directed “(T)ERROR,” Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, and play part of an interview with al-Akili from federal prison. Al-Akili was arrested just days after he emailed civil rights groups to say he believed he was the target of an FBI “entrapment” sting. He is now serving eight years in federal prison for illegally possessing a gun after having previous felony convictions for selling drugs. We are also joined by Steve Downs, executive director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. He works with Project SALAM, which published a report last year called “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution.” He is also representing imprisoned Pakistani scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. We are also joined by Marlene, the mother of Tarik Shah, who was arrested in 2005 after a joint FBI/NYPD sting operation that also involved Saeed “Shariff” Torres. She details in the film how Shah thought Shariff was his close friend, but he was actually an FBI informant.

Tobacco Companies Countered Muslim Opposition To Smoking By Linking It To Extremism

21 April, 2015 - 23:11

BANGLADESH-HEALTH-WOMEN

Tobacco companies battle religious edicts and opposition to smoking in Muslim markets by connecting anti-smoking views to extremism. This strategy reminds me of the way in which the “father of Public Relations,” Edward Bernays, targeted women by presenting cigarettes as “torches of freedom.”

By Tom Blackwell, National Post

The tobacco industry has been waging a sort of religious war for decades, recruiting Islamic scholars and crafting theological arguments to counter a feared Muslim opposition to smoking, a new, Canadian co-authored study suggests.

The companies’ tactics have included courting Muslim experts at McGill University and portraying religious objections to tobacco as a form of extremism – at odds with freedom and modernism generally, the analysis of years of industry documents reveals.

“The industry has sought to distort and misinterpret the cultural beliefs of these communities, and to reinterpret them to serve the industry’s interests,” charges Kelley Lee, a global health-policy expert at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and one of the authors of the study. “All to sell a product that kills half of its customers.”

With smoking on the decline in the West, Muslim countries in the Middle East and southeast Asia are among the most important markets for the sector, notes Prof. Lee.

MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / Getty Images

MARWAN NAAMANI / AFP / Getty ImagesA woman smokes a cigarette at a cafe in Dubai on May 31, 2008.

Yet for at least three decades, companies have fretted about the menace posed by Muslim ideology in those places, memos and reports unearthed by Prof. Lee and her colleagues indicate. A 1996 British American Tobacco (BAT) document, for instance, describes the “Islamic threat,” including rising fundamentalism, as a “real danger” to the industry.

“This amounts to us having to prepare to fight a hurricane,” the memo warns.

An industry-linked law firm’s presentation proposed a theological retort to such pressures. The Koran does not actually prohibit use of tobacco, and “making rules beyond what Allah has allowed is a sin in itself,” the firm advised.

The study suggests Muslim thinking on the topic has changed over the years, but because of health reasons, not growing conservativism. Muslim jurists in the past generally considered tobacco use neutral, but as its risks became better known, some proclaimed it “markrooh” – discouraged – or even “haram” – prohibited, the paper says.

The material outlined in the study was drawn from the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, a database of 15 million internal industry documents filed during lawsuits by U.S. states, most before 1998.

While the library did not provide access to the most recent documents, evidence suggests the companies are still trying to influence Muslim religious currents, said Prof. Lee, formerly with the U.K.’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. A recent ad for Gauloises cigarettes in Qatar, for instance, depicts an Arab-looking woman without a headscarf, the tagline saying “Freedom Always.”

Bodies like the World Health Organization need to refute the industry-promoted idea that tobacco use in Muslim countries is an expression of escape from religious constraints, especially for women, the authors suggest.

Whether because of its religious-based strategies or not, the industry does appear to have thrived in many Muslim countries. While BAT sold fewer cigarettes worldwide in 2014 than the year before, the number increased in six countries, including Muslim Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, a company report said.

The internal industry documents showed that companies first recognized in the 1970s that Islam posed a threat to expansion in such regions – a “formidable obstacle to the industry,” as one 1991 memo said.

The industry began years ago depicting that kind of stance as extremist, and suggested that even the WHO was part of the movement. The UN agency has “joined forces with Muslim fundamentalists who view smoking as evil,” complained one Philip Morris document. A BAT report in 2000 suggested the WHO’s efforts to link smoking and Islam had borne fruit and needed to be “managed.”

A tobacco lobbyist told Philip Morris in 1985 to portray anti-smoking Muslims as fundamentalists, and suggest their strict reading of Sharia law would lead to other curbs on modern living.

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MediaMatters: “Fox & Friends Outraged That World History Students Are Learning About Islam”

16 April, 2015 - 22:39

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The attack on history education continues with Fox News episode decrying Islam being taught in World History courses.

By Craig Harrington, MediaMatters

Fox News’ latent Islamophobia manifested itself during two segments criticizing a Wisconsin high school for asking history students to write about Muslim Americans based on materials covered in class.

On April 2, according to emails initially obtained by right-wing talk radio host Vicki McKenna, world history students at Union Grove High School were asked to write a short essay about daily life for Muslims living in the United States. Students were asked to write five paragraphs in which they “pretend” to be Muslim and briefly outline their daily routine along with any potential “struggles” they might face.

Fox News expressed its concern about the assignment during two segments on the April 15 edition of Fox & Friends, in which co-hosts Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Brian Kilmeade wondered if it was appropriate for students to learn about Islam — the world’s second-largest religion — in a world history class. At first, Doocy wondered if students wrote about “what Sharia law is,” and how they were graded if they did, while Hasselbeck worried that students might not being learning enough about Christianity:

Doocy reiterated his alleged concerns about Sharia law during a later segment, in which he hyped common Islamophobic tropes about the religion being violent and intolerant:

DOOCY: I wonder if they actually, if they did study the religion in this world history class, if they wrote down things like, “If I criticize any part of the Quran, they will kill me,” or, “If Muslims marry non-Muslims, they will be put to death,” or, “If I’m caught stealing, they’ll amputate my right hand.” I wonder if they put that kind of stuff in, because that’s all part of Sharia law.

Fox has a long history of stoking Islamophobia and worrying about the supposed looming threat of Sharia law, recently attacking a school for allowing a student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic.

Record number of anti-Muslim acts in France

16 April, 2015 - 21:35

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Abdallah Zekri, head of the Observatory said in a statement that anti-Muslim acts rose by 500 percent, compared to the same period in 2011.

” Never since the establishment of the Observatory in 2011 have Islamophobic acts known such an implosion of actions or threats, especially on social networks,” Zekri said on Thursday.

Zekri stated there were 222 anti-Muslims acts during the 1st quarter of 2015, (56 attacks and 166 threats) against a total of 37 acts in 2014 – ” An increase of 500 percent,” said Zekri.

Zekri added that the number of anti-Muslims acts in January 2015 reached 178.

He explained that this “burst” was mainly due to the deadly attack on the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, followed by a hostage situation in a kosher supermarket two days later, leaving a total 17 people dead.

“However, those horrific and terrifying crimes cannot justify under any circumstances the steep rise of hatred or revenge against Muslims in France,” stressed Zekri.

“They (Muslims of France) are not responsible or guilty of committing these terrorist acts that devastated the country,” he added.

Zekri said the assaults targeted men and women, generally in public places and transportation, and in some instances pregnant women.

He also said that in certain cases, targeting mainly places of worship , grenades and firearms had been used.

“This is simply racism and rejection of men and women who aspire to just be respected,” said Zekri.

“Does the motto of the Republic ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ make any sense? Unfortunately, the question (must be asked),” added Zekri.

Zekri went on to accuse political leaders of remaining silent in the face of such an increase of anti-Muslim acts.

“All this happens without any reaction from politicians, who, instead of denouncing, try to find excuses,” he said.

Zekri said that the political silence fed radicalization and pushed youths to leave to join extremist and terrorist groups.

“Fundamentalism feeds fundamentalism and it is not surprising that young people, who feel excluded, marginalized and accused of all evils, are radicalized and leave to be killed for free, considering that they have no future in this country,” Zekri concluded.

ThinkProgress: Islamic Extremists Have Seized Control Of U.S. Cities, Says NRA Seminar

14 April, 2015 - 21:45

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These people have guns?

By Kira Lerner, ThinkProgress

NASHVILLE, TN — Islamic extremists have seized control of cities across the United States and have enacted sharia law, according to a speaker at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting who spoke about current and emerging threats to American gun owners.

Author Steve Tarani said during a presentation in Nashville on Sunday that he has witnessed the alleged “no-go zones” — areas where police cannot enter — while shadowing a friend who serves on the Detroit Metro SWAT Police on a drive in Dearborn, MI. He described pulling up to one of the alleged Muslim-controlled areas:

The street signs suddenly went from English to Arabic. There wasn’t a single English word on any shop or any street sign. And in fact, these little yellow signs were posted all along the edges. Jeremy said to me, ‘this is it. We don’t go past this line.’ And I said to Jeremy, ‘what do you mean? You guys are Detroit Metro. You’re the SWAT team. You can go anywhere you want. What if you get a call over there?’ He said ‘this is it, it’s hazardous for our team if we go past this line.’

I have seen it with my own eyes, witnessed it in the backseat of a car and it is for real. No-go zones exist in the United States.

Dearborn, Michigan is not the only place that these settlements exist. They are spread out over the country in various cities. There’s an estimate of over 5,000 known terrorist cells in the United States. However our most persistent and significant threat, right now, to us here today this morning, is the homegrown violent extremists.

There is no factual basis to allegations that parts of the U.S. have turned into no-go zones that Muslim extremists had supposedly conquered — a myth that was spread by Fox News reports earlier this year.

Tarani’s comments were part of an hour-long seminar in which he discussed what he claims are the threats Americans face on a daily basis. The frequency and intensity of “mass murders, beheadings and suicide bombings” are increasing, he said. After detailing the events of a number of mass shootings and terrorist plots by an “endless supply” of militant groups around the world, Tarani told the audience they should be prepared to respond to all kinds of threats.

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“It’s really disgusting,” Vandals target Muslim mosque

14 April, 2015 - 00:54

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EDMOND, Okla. – Before Sunday prayer service, raw bacon was discovered by a child at a local mosque.

“I always felt safe here. I always felt it was a comfortable place to go,” Adam Soltani, CAIR executive director, said.

On Sunday, vandals tossed bacon along the doorway of an Edmond mosque near the University of Central Oklahoma.

“Someone would have to know that according to the Islamic faith, pork is not allowed for Muslims to eat, so it sends a message that they know that and that they want to offend,” said Soltani.

Students are shocked to see this happen in their community.

“It’s really disgusting, actually. I just don’t understand why people would do that,” Erick Larson, a student at the University of Central Oklahoma, said.

“I think it’s ironic that it happened so close to when UCO had our Tunnel of Oppression, which actually addresses things like this,” Deshara Flemming, student at UCO, said.

“Whenever we see a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric and speech in a local community, it seems to be coupled with unfortunate incidents of hate crimes and vandalism,” Soltani said.

This isn’t the first time a mosque has been targeted in the metro. In 2012, vandals shot paint balls at the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City.

In 2013, surveillance video was released showing a suspect painting racial slurs on the walls of another metro mosque. Both were investigated as hate crimes.

“I think with each incident, the concern grows even stronger,” Soltani said.

The mosque filed a police report with Edmond.

At the same time, CAIR has contacted the FBI in hopes they will investigate this latest incident.

The Edmond mosque plans on installing surveillance cameras.

Unworthy victims: Western wars have killed four million Muslims since 1990

14 April, 2015 - 00:24

(AFP)

(AFP)

“Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed as many as 2 million people, but this is a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades.”

by Nafeez Ahmed, Middle East Eye
Wednesday 8 April 2015 16:12 BST

Last month, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million.

The 97-page report by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning doctors’ group is the first to tally up the total number of civilian casualties from US-led counter-terrorism interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The PSR report is authored by an interdisciplinary team of leading public health experts, including Dr. Robert Gould, director of health professional outreach and education at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and Professor Tim Takaro of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Yet it has been almost completely blacked out by the English-language media, despite being the first effort by a world-leading public health organisation to produce a scientifically robust calculation of the number of people killed by the US-UK-led “war on terror”.

Mind the gaps

The PSR report is described by Dr Hans von Sponeck, former UN assistant secretary-general, as “a significant contribution to narrowing the gap between reliable estimates of victims of war, especially civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and tendentious, manipulated or even fraudulent accounts”.

The report conducts a critical review of previous death toll estimates of “war on terror” casualties. It is heavily critical of the figure most widely cited by mainstream media as authoritative, namely, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) estimate of 110,000 dead. That figure is derived from collating media reports of civilian killings, but the PSR report identifies serious gaps and methodological problems in this approach.

For instance, although 40,000 corpses had been buried in Najaf since the launch of the war, IBC recorded only 1,354 deaths in Najaf for the same period. That example shows how wide the gap is between IBC’s Najaf figure and the actual death toll – in this case, by a factor of over 30.

Such gaps are replete throughout IBC’s database. In another instance, IBC recorded just three airstrikes in a period in 2005, when the number of air attacks had in fact increased from 25 to 120 that year. Again, the gap here is by a factor of 40.

According to the PSR study, the much-disputed Lancet study that estimated 655,000 Iraq deaths up to 2006 (and over a million until today by extrapolation) was likely to be far more accurate than IBC’s figures. In fact, the report confirms a virtual consensus among epidemiologists on the reliability of the Lancet study.

Despite some legitimate criticisms, the statistical methodology it applied is the universally recognised standard to determine deaths from conflict zones, used by international agencies and governments.

Politicised denial

PSR also reviewed the methodology and design of other studies showing a lower death toll, such as a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, which had a range of serious limitations.

That paper ignored the areas subject to the heaviest violence, namely Baghdad, Anbar and Nineveh, relying on flawed IBC data to extrapolate for those regions. It also imposed “politically-motivated restrictions” on collection and analysis of the data – interviews were conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which was “totally dependent on the occupying power” and had refused to release data on Iraqi registered deaths under US pressure.

In particular, PSR assessed the claims of Michael Spaget, John Sloboda and others who questioned the Lancet study data collection methods as potentially fraudulent. All such claims, PSR found, were spurious.

The few “justified criticisms,” PSR concludes, “do not call into question the results of the Lancet studies as a whole. These figures still represent the best estimates that are currently available”. The Lancet findings are also corroborated by the data from a new study in PLOS Medicine, finding 500,000 Iraqi deaths from the war. Overall, PSR concludes that the most likely number for the civilian death toll in Iraq since 2003 to date is about 1 million.

To this, the PSR study adds at least 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, killed as the direct or indirect consequence of US-led war: a “conservative” total of 1.3 million. The real figure could easily be “in excess of 2 million”.

Yet even the PSR study suffers from limitations. Firstly, the post-9/11 “war on terror” was not new, but merely extended previous interventionist policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secondly, the huge paucity of data on Afghanistan meant the PSR study probably underestimated the Afghan death toll.

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