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Why I Am Not Charlie Hebdo

8 January, 2015 - 21:18

Hebdo_Paris

By Garibaldi

In 2011, when the Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed I wrote an article titled, The Politics of Provocation: What the Firebombing of Charlie Hebdo Magazine Means. In that post I noted that Hebdo’s purpose in publishing its racist and Islampohobic cartoons was to provoke, specifically its favorite target being Islam and Muslims (particularly French Muslims),

Charlie Hebdo knew what it was doing, they wished to provoke, they created a buzz and got world-wide media attention for their magazine which had little following outside of France.

I wrote then that the best response “for those offended or upset would have been to peacefully protest, or to satirize the Charlie Hebdo publication, or to do as most have done and simply ignore it.”

I also related the suffocating xenophobic, anti-Muslim context of France with its marginalization of its Muslim and African minorities in all spheres of the social and political life of the nation and the increase in hate crimes against Muslims (since then matters have worsened),

Lastly, the untold context in which this French saga must be viewed is the souring relations between the French establishment and their Muslim minority. Islam has been “otherized” in France and across Europe, just as it has in the States, but in France it is taken to the next level.

In the past few years, anti-Muslim bigotry has risen to epidemic proportions. The hijab was banned from public schools, the face veil has been banned altogether, and after a surge in popular support for Marine Le Pen’s anti-Muslim nationalist party, Sarkozy and co. instituted an unprecedented “national dialgoue” on Islam.

According to a recent report Islamophobia is rapidly on the increase in France

It appears that Alqaeda in Yemen, a foreign, non-French entity is playing its own politics of provocation. It wishes to, as Juan Cole aptly notes “sharpen the contradictions” and foment a greater clash between Muslims and non-Muslims in France. Of course, there are far too many willing to oblige such a plan, since as we have noted from the start, extremists on both sides, feed off of each other like parasitic leeches.

So why am I not Charlie Hebdo? Why can’t I join the feel good Twitter trend, #JeSuisCharlie?

I cannot in good conscience lie and say that those murdered were “martyrs of free speech.” I believe what happened was a massacre, despicable and the result of the cynical ploys of a foreign extremist organization that masquerades under the banner of Islam, when all they wish to achieve is power for themselves–damned be the Muslims who suffer because of their actions.

See, at the same time as these paramilitary style terrorists were mowing down French Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet, who was the first on the scene to help at the Hebdo offices, 35 Yemeni Muslim police cadets were blown up by one of Alqaeda’s bombs. Yet, no one considers them part of the story?

I cannot say “JeSuisCharlie” because I know what this right-wing publication stood for: racist, sexist and Islamophobic hate speech. Take just a few samples out of many:

CharlieHebdoMuhammad

That’s a representation of a hook-nosed-goofy-smirking-Ayrab-Mooslim that one would expect from racists. Or take their publication after the Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram:

Hebdo_Boko_Welfare

The girls are represented as screaming, “hands off our benefit checks!” A not so subtle reference to the racist narrative of the right, found all over the Western world, not just France, about impoverished minorities.

Or take this gem, I wonder what it could be saying?

Hebdo_Quran_Bullets

The hypocrisy of Charlie Hebdo when it comes to free speech must also be pointed out. It fired one of its cartoonists for the offense of anti-Semitism because it mocked a former French president’s son who converted to Judaism, as NBC reporter Ayman Mohyeldin wrote,

Hebdo fired one of its cartoonists and accused him of anti-semitism because he mocked the son of a former living French President who converted to Judiasm. Why is mocking a living person anti-Semitic hate speech but mocking sacred religious figures not? Who decides what is anti-Semitic and who decides what is Islamophobic?

This is not a tabloid whose record of hate speech and hypocrisy should be whitewashed into a monument to martyrs of free speech. It’s satire was aimed against the oppressed and for the benefit of the powerful.

Lastly, I again would emphasize that there is no justification for the massacre in Paris or in Yemen carried out by Alqaeda, I hope the perpetrators are caught and speedily brought to justice so the families can have some semblance of peace and solace.

However, in the process Muslims should not have their individuality denied and erased, by being asked to condemn over and over actions which they had no part to play in but are considered guilty of because of their mere presence.

BBC: Jerusalem’s 800-year-old Indian Hospice

6 January, 2015 - 19:58

Baba_Farid_Jerusalem

“It turns out there’s an 800-year-old Punjabi Sufi hospice in Jerusalem, linked to the famous Sufi saint Baba Farid’s visit to the city all those centuries ago. Astonishing stuff — like most people, I had no idea about any of this. The article also mentions Farid’s links to Sikhism and the Guru Granth Sahib. Farid is regarded as the founder of Punjabi Sufism; he was also the direct predecessor of Nizamuddin Auliya.” (h/t: Jai Singh)

BBC, By Daniel Silas Adamson

Around the year 1200, little more than a decade after the armies of Saladin had forced the Crusaders out of the city, an Indian dervish walked into Jerusalem.

Hazrat Farid ud-Din Ganj Shakar (or Baba Farid, as he is better known) belonged to the Chisti order of Sufis, a mystical brotherhood that still flourishes today across India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Later accounts of his life said that he spent his days sweeping the stone floors around al-Aqsa mosque, or fasting in the silence of a cave inside the city walls.

No-one knows how long Baba Farid stayed in the city. But long after he had returned to the Punjab, where he eventually became head of the Chisti order, Indian Muslims passing through Jerusalem on their way to Mecca wanted to pray where he had prayed, to sleep where he had slept. Slowly, a shrine and pilgrim lodge, the Indian Hospice, formed around the memory of Baba Farid.

Baba Farid

More than eight centuries later, that lodge still exists. And although it stands inside Jerusalem’s walls – perhaps the most fiercely contested stretch of ground anywhere in the world – it is still in Indian hands.

The current head of the lodge, 86-year-old Muhammad Munir Ansari, grew up there in the years before World War Two, when Palestine seemed to end just outside the gate.

“All the residents were Indian. I felt as if I was living in India. Whenever we entered the Hospice – Indian state!” he says. “At that time people came by ship. They used to bring food, rice, even their salt. Salt! All from India. As soon as you entered the gate, the smell of Indian food, they were washing their clothes, hanging them here in the courtyard.”

The war cut off the flow of pilgrims and brought an end to the colourful scenes of Munir’s childhood.

Muhammad Munir Ansari as a boy, in about 1936

Sheikh Muhammad Munir Ansari as a boy

The lodge became a leave camp for the Indian Fourth Infantry division, whose soldiers had only just left when the first Arab-Israeli war broke out in 1948. By the time Munir succeeded his father as Sheikh – head of the lodge – in 1952, the building was scarred by shelling and overrun with Palestinian refugees.

But worse was to come.

In 1967, as the Israeli army fought its way into Jerusalem during the Six Day War, the lodge was hit by rockets.

“The ’67 war started on Monday 5 June. On the second day we found them at our entrance. By night, 50 or 60 soldiers inside the gate – Jordanians. They were in terrible condition, asking for water,” he says.

“That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning we went out to find not a single soldier. They ran away, leaving their uniforms and even their weapons. That day the Israelis began to prepare for entering the Old City. So these weapons that had been abandoned, some local people took these guns and started shooting. And we paid the price.”

As the Israelis bombarded the hospice, Sheikh Munir herded his family from room to room. The shells found them near the shrine of Baba Farid. The roof collapsed. Sheikh Munir, his hands and face badly burned, pulled the survivors from the rubble. His mother, his sister, and his two-year-old nephew were dead.

From a hospital in the Old City, Sheikh Munir brought his family back to the ruins. “We came home. Very sadly, I can say. Imagine how the situation was. Most of the rooms were damaged. My hands were burned, my eyes were closed, my hair was burned. It was a miserable situation.”

Miserable or not, there was no question of abandoning the lodge. Its history went back too far – to the days when Saladin was still consolidating his hold on Jerusalem.

Baba Farid arrived in a city that had just returned to Muslim hands after almost a century of Christian rule. The Crusaders, ensconced along the Mediterranean coast, had not gone away, and Saladin understood that if the Muslims were to keep Jerusalem, they would need to match the Crusaders not only on the battlefield but in their zeal for the city.

The Sufis therefore served a useful purpose.

Read the entire article…

Dan Bilzerian Arrested For Attempting To Make A Bomb

6 January, 2015 - 19:44

Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards 2011

Imagine if this bearded man was a Muslim. Dan Bilzerian who previously was in trouble for kicking a woman in the face was is in the news again for attempting to make a bomb.

Imagine the reaction of the Right Wing and liberal Islamophobes if he was Muslim.

‘King of Instagram’ Dan Bilzerian Arrested at LAX, Then Released From Custody Posted 12:01 PM, December 10, 2014, by and , Updated at 04:16am, December 11, 2014

Dan Bilzerian, an extremely wealthy social media celebrity who has been called the “King of Instagram,” was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport late Tuesday, police said.

Bilzerian, 34, was booked at LAPD’s Pacific Division shortly after 10 p.m., jail records showed.

He was being held without bail, but was released at 1:16 p.m. Wednesday after charges were dropped, according to an official at the Los Angeles County jail’s inmate reception area.

According to LAPD Officer Jack Richter, Bilzerian had been arrested on a fugitive warrant out of Nevada.

He had faced felony charges in the state, including possessing or manufacturing explosive or incendiary devices, according to a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas on Nov. 13.

Charges in that case were not dropped, Clark County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Audrie Locke said in an email to KTLA after Bilzerian’s released from custody in L.A. Locke said she had no information on why Bilzerian was released.

Continue reading …

UK Counter-Terrorism Law Calls On Citizens To Be On The Look Out For “Toddler Terror”

5 January, 2015 - 22:23

baby_terrorist_xlarge

By Emperor

I never thought our own Elmer Fudd of the American political class, Rep. Louie Gohmert, would have something in common with those oh so wise and erudite snoots in the British Home Office! But apparently both class of politicians are freaking out, granted in a slightly different way, over — terrorist babies.

“Mamma, dadda, ga ga…where’s my bomb..goo goo?”

The UK’s most recent act of stupidity in regards to the Prevent program to counter terrorism is a newly proposed law, CST 2014, that would hold British educators responsible for the ideologies of their students, and yes, that includes pre-schoolers.

The suggestion, which is part of the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill currently before the U.K. parliament, has sparked a firestorm of outrage — and has sent the satirical #ToddlerTerror trending on Twitter — since it was reported over the weekend by the Telegraph.

The bill would call on school administrators to “make sure that staff have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge extremist ideas which can be used to legitimize terrorism and are shared by terrorist groups.”

“They should know where and how to refer children and young people for further help,” the document said.

This is all being done to promote something called “British values,” which I think is a great idea but what is it exactly? Is the UK government going to start force feeding babies gin and tonic in their baby bottles?

“We are not expecting teachers and nursery workers to carry out unnecessary intrusion into family life, but we do expect them to take action when they observe behavior of concern. It is important that children are taught fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way,” a government spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
(Emphasis mine)

This reminds me of that time Rep. Gohmert had the terrorist baby meltdown:

Infants are sometimes known to be terrors in their own right, but this diabolical plan involves terrorists sending pregnant women into the US to birth their America-hating spawns. The mothers and their kids then return home where, the congressman says, the children “could be raised and coddled as future terrorists”— and later, “twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.”

In all seriousness, the proposed CTS 2014 law is highly problematic as it opens up the possibility of taking away people’s children. The rights organization CAGE “has released an advisory document that attempts to educate public bodies on the problems inherent within the draft legislation,”

Key to the draft Bill is the ability for the government to use multiple public bodies to make decisions about the lives of everyday people, based on spurious grounds. Of key concern is where Prevent officials cannot gain consent of parents, they will have the ability to use health and social services to potentially remove children from their homes in order to implement their strategies of ‘deradicalisation’.

This CTS bill is utter rubbish and a joke just as the UK’s whole Prevent policy has been from the start.

Muqtedar Khan: “Rampaging religio-nationalists: India playing with fire”

5 January, 2015 - 19:08

Hindu_Nationalism_India

By Muqtedar Khan, Turkey Agenda

Things have been getting steadily precarious for religious minorities, especially Muslims and Christians since the Hindu religious nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came to power in India in May 2014. The Indian Express, one of India’s major newspapers, reported that there were 600 incidents in just ten weeks since the election of Narendra Modi as India’s Prime minister.

There have been several instances of violence against minorities. The first major sign of things to come was when some members of the Hindu Rashtra Sena (Hindu national army) beat a young Muslim IT expert Mohsin Sheikh to death, for allegedly posting an insulting update on social media, within a few days of BJP coming to power. The episode was widely reported in the media and it shocked many in the country. The gruesome act appeared to confirm the fear of religious minorities. With a religious party in power the likelihood of religious extremists getting emboldened and acting with greater impunity seemed to be coming true.

In the past six months there have been several episodes of violence against Christians and Muslims all across the country. The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who comes from a hardcore Hindu right wing organization the RSS, could do more to speak out against such egregious violence and even launch a national campaign against religiously motivated violence, but he is too busy taking a victory lap across the world and trying to consolidate his party’s control over the Indian diaspora which is rich, influential and global.

Violence between religious communities is unfortunately not a new phenomenon as far as India is concerned. What is new however, is the brazen and emboldened actions of Hindu extremists who are now calling for a hundred percent Hindu India, through elimination of centuries old presence of Islam and Christianity. The audacity of this call is breathtaking. They are calling for the conversion of religious minorities, who constitute nearly 200 million, to Hinduism. It’s akin to making the fifth most populous country – Brazil – disappear from the world.

Trying to convert 200 million people maybe a tall order, but it is not deterring the Hindu groups. They have launched their effort in earnest. In a rather troubling development an offshoot of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, BJP, converted nearly 200 Muslims from the poorest segments of the society en masse to Hinduism using coercion and the promise of providing ration cards. Rational cards are a right of all citizens. These people should automatically get those ration cards. But now that Hindu nationalists are in power, the Hindu extremists are able to use the state and its benefits as a religio-political leverage. It’s like Republicans in the United States using social security that should be available to all, regardless of their religion, as an incentive to convert people to Christianity.

Continue reading…

Islam’s Growth in Japan

4 January, 2015 - 23:07

 

A Muslim boy residing in Japan has his iftar, breaking of fast meal, during the holy month of Ramadan at Tokyo Camii mosque in Tokyo

A Muslim boy breaks his fast during the holy month of Ramadan at the Tokyo Mosque [Reuters]

A very interesting article on the growth and history of Islam and Muslims in Japan. The Japan Times has an interesting article on an Osaka imam Mohsen Bayoumy who is contributing to Islam’s growth in the region.

Japan’s rich Muslim past and present

In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan’s Muslims.

By: Samee Siddiqui

Tokyo, Japan - Tokyo Camii, or the Tokyo Mosque, is a curious sight, both stunning and subtle. Despite the grand Turkish design, the mosque hides between apartment blocks in the quiet residential neighbourhood of Yoyogi Uehara.

Construction of the current incarnation of the mosque was completed in 2000, but the mosque has a much longer history. It was in the 1930s when Japan first saw a significant resident Muslim population and the first mosques were established. The Nagoya Mosque was built in 1931 and the Kobe Mosque in 1935 by Indian-Muslim migrants.

Tatar Muslim migrants escaping the Russian revolution were the largest Muslim ethnic group in Japan by the 1930s and established the original Tokyo Mosque in 1938.

Hans Martin Kramer, a professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Heidelberg and an expert on religion in Japan, considers this to be the most prominent mosque in Japan, one that was “not only supported by the Japanese government, but also financed by Japanese companies, most notably Mitsubishi, and its opening ceremony was attended by dignitaries and diplomats from both Japan and the Islamic World”.

While the Tokyo Camii does not have the same support and contacts with Japanese government and large conglomerates in contemporary times, the mosque was rebuilt using funds from the Turkish government and is both a religious venue and an ethno-cultural space hosting wedding ceremonies, fashion shows, plays, exhibitions and conferences.

Marriage and conversion

Away from the tourists, marble floors and ornate interiors in a small alley around the corner from Tokyo Camii is Dr Musa Omer at the Yuai International School. The school is loud, unpretentious, chaotic and teeming with children. It is a Saturday and the school has activities and classes from 10am until 8pm. While the leadership at the school is looking towards offering full-time education in the near-future, it is currently limited to offering Saturday classes ranging from Islamic studies and Arabic, to karate and calligraphy.  

The school is run by the Islamic Centre of Japan (ICJ), a post-WWII Muslim institution established in 1966. Omer – an advisor to the Saudi Ambassador and who has twice served as the Sudanese Ambassador to Japan – is its acting chairman.

On this day, Omer is preparing to marry a young couple in his small office – a Saudi man and a Japanese woman. Omer works on the marriage certificate and answers questions simultaneously. Like the atmosphere in the school, the wedding is informal and relaxed with both the bride and groom dressed casually. She is converting to Islam and will move to Saudi Arabia soon.

In a brief interlude, the woman is asked whether this is her first introduction to Islam, and she replies that it isn’t. Her relationship with the Saudi man started online two years ago and they decided to get married. Omer, with long-established links to the Saudi embassy, was contacted to assist the couple in arranging the wedding.

As the Japanese bride converts, she joins a tiny group of Japanese Muslims. In the absence of official statistics on Muslims in Japan, demographic estimates range from between 70,000 to 120,000 Muslim residents with about 10 percent of that number being Japanese, in a country with an overall population of more than 127 million.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the population of foreign workers in Japan has nearly doubled in the last 20 years, and reached more than two million at the end of 2011.

Muslim men in Japan have iftar, breaking of fast meal, during the holy month of Ramadan at Tokyo Camii in June [Reuters]

Yoshio Sugimoto describes how the population of foreign workers, which includes Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh for example, increased in the late 1980s and early ’90s as visa waiver programmes were introduced by the Japanese government to address an ageing workforce and a shortage of labour.

Continue reading …

Dawn.com: The Fatwas That Can Change Pakistan’s Blasphemy Narrative

4 January, 2015 - 22:42

Pakistan_Blasphemy

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan have made international headlines, especially in recent years, but they aren’t primarily an international issue, in fact international campaigns may likely be an impediment to change.

Blasphemy is foremost a national issue in Pakistan, one that is part of its own culture wars, in which perceptions of Shariah, opposition to foreign interference, conceptions of nationalism and worldwide degradation of sacred Islamic symbols combine to create a volatile mix within society.

The fact is the blasphemy laws passed in the 80’s during dictator Zia ul-Haq’s Islamization drive have led to horrific consequences: the targeting of the poorest of the poor, used and abused to settle personal squabbles, inflaming of passions leading to vigilante mobs wreaking havoc, and the targeting of minorities who increasingly feel under siege and fearful.

The following article in the Pakistani daily, Dawn, gives us a glimpse into the societal discussion over blasphemy, how the current blasphemy laws are in stark contradiction to classical Islamic Fiqh (the human endeavor to know Shariah) understanding and a departure from the consensus of Muslim scholarship in the subcontinent.

Change within society cannot be imposed from the outside, Amnesty International will not be as effective as local groups, scholars, politicians and media. In Pakistan there is clear precedent for this, a previous law regarding rape requiring four witnesses was deemed anti-Islamic and subsequently the law was changed. This was due to the efforts of those working within an Islamic Fiqh paradigm and the nationwide, robust media discussion that altered and changed the narrative.

While the proposed changes in the blasphemy law will not please “Western liberals,” since it does not call for elimination, what they must keep in mind is that this is not about them. This is about injustice and the many lives who are endangered by an un-Islamic blasphemy law. (h/t: Arif J.)

Dawn.com, By Arafat Mazhar

Pakistan’s blasphemy law continues to sustain popularity and credence, with death being considered not only the most appropriate retribution for offenders, but the only one. This ideology is embraced most wholeheartedly when it comes to non-Muslims charged with blasphemy.

In my previous article when I spoke of the authentic Hanafi position on the permissibility of pardon for all blasphemers (Muslims and non-Muslims), the overwhelming response supported such a pardon for the likes of Junaid Jamshed (a ‘fellow Muslim brother who had offended some by mistake’) but held that the same principle of pardon could not be extended to non-Muslim offenders such as Asia Bibi.

This is largely reflective of the predominant public narrative on blasphemy.

Those who dissent – who speak of pardon and of waiving the death penalty, particularly for non-Muslims – are seen to be speaking from borrowed western ideologies or from a faith deemed too weak to be seen as a credible authority for the public. This has made it convenient for citizens to largely ignore those who plead for clemency, reducing these voices to a small, ineffective and irrelevant force, at best.

There was a time when this was not so – in fact, at one point, the most revered ulema (religious scholars) of South Asia had rallied together to defend the position that non-Muslims could not be awarded the death penalty for blaspheming.

This occurred in the late 19th century, when the South Asian ulema (the overwhelming majority of whom belonged to the Hanafi school of thought) were under ideological attack from the Ahl-e-Hadith.

The Ahl-i-Hadith originated as a movement influenced (and later funded) by the Wahabis of the Arabian Peninsula. This movement challenged the established Hanafi rulings on various issues, including blasphemy, alleging that these were based on opinion (ra`y) and Greek influenced analogy-driven reasoning (Qiyas), rather than on prophetic tradition (Ahadith).

In particular, they took exception to what they perceived as Hanafi lenience towards non-Muslims blasphemers (i.e. not prescribing a fixed death penalty and the provision for pardon) which they viewed as incompatible with Ahadith.

The exact position of Abu Hanifa (the founder of Hanafi School) that ends up being a source of contention for the Ahl-i-Hadith.

The exact position of Abu Hanifa (the founder of Hanafi School) that ends up being a source of contention for the Ahl-i-Hadith.

These criticisms roused the Hanafi ulema to an impassioned rebuttal.
Many of them targeted the Ahl-e-Hadith from within their own framework, deconstructing several Ahadith that formed the basis of these criticisms.

One such example is a monumental, 21-volume commentary, the I’la al-Sunan (the exaltation of the normative practices [of the Prophet]) by Maulana Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani, aiming to demonstrate, against the charges of the Ahl-i-Hadith, that the legal doctrines of the Hanafi school were in fact solidly based in traditions of the Prophet (PBUH).

Despite monolithic individual efforts of such stature, the most profound and relevant in terms of blasphemy, in my view, was Fath Al Mubeen Tanbeeh Al Wahabin (an explicit victory and a warning against the Wahabis).

This contains a fatwa (see below) that clearly states that a non-Muslim blasphemer cannot be killed unless he/she is habitual in the offense.

This last part is an important qualifier because it differentiates single acts of blasphemy from multiple and deliberate attempts, in fact from what is considered politically rebellious blasphemy.

blasphemy_abu_hanifa

The monumental fatwa endorsed by 450 scholars that shows that killing is not permissible unless adat (habituality) and kasrat (high frequency) of offenses are established.

The monumental fatwa endorsed by 450 scholars that shows that killing is not permissible unless adat (habituality) and kasrat (high frequency) of offenses are established.The Ahl-e-Hadith, in challenging the Hanafi position on blasphemy presented a compilation of Ahadith which supposedly showed that blasphemous offenders (including non-Muslims) were in fact killed, and that therefore the Hanafi ruling was erroneous in this regard.

In the rebuttal, the fatwa pointed to an important flaw in the Ahle-Hadith argument — that the Ahadith thus presented all pertained to cases of repeat or habitual offenders.

There is not a single case where a non-Muslim was ever killed for committing a singular offense of blasphemy.

(Further, according to Imam Abu Hanifa, the death penalty is awarded in cases where it is categorised as siyasa (political) punishment, as opposed to sharia (divine) punishment, against elements openly rebelling against the Islamic state, using habitual blasphemy as a tool).

This legal position was approved and signed by no less than 450 of the most prestigious names in the Hanafi ulema, not just from South Asia, but around the world.

It is difficult to come up with a case study of a bigger systematic consensus (ijma) than this one. Hundreds of leading ulema of their time from South Asia have declared that non-Muslims cannot be killed for a single offense for blasphemy and their pardon is acceptable unless it becomes a habitual and high frequency offense.

Read the entire article…

Leaked ‘kill list’ shows NATO killed Afghan children, civilians in pursuit of low-level Taliban fighters

3 January, 2015 - 20:25

Afghanistan

Leaked ‘kill list’ shows NATO killed Afghan children, civilians in pursuit of low-level Taliban fighters

Drawing information from top secret documents spirited away by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reports that the “kill list” used by NATO forces in Afghanistan included low-ranking members of the Taliban along with drug dealers suspected of supporting them.

As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close after 13 years, new information is becoming available describing NATO conduct in the war-torn nation. According to the newly released documents, NATO maintained an extensive list — including up to 750 names at times –  of Afghans (found here) slated for death, including mid- and lower-level Taliban operatives along with drug dealers who allegedly supported the insurgents.

Drawing on field reports and internal documents,  Der Spiegel documents an attempted attack on a Taliban member named Mullah Niaz Mohammed — nicknamed “Doody” in reports — in 2011 that instead resulted in the death of a nearby child, while critically injuring the child’s father.

“Doody,”  who was number 3,673 on the kill list, had been designated  as a priority level three on a scale of one to four by NATO, meaning he wasn’t particularly important within the Taliban leadership structure.  Spotted on the ground by the crew of a British Apache combat helicopter, the pilot and gunner were given the go-ahead to kill him, however poor visibility resulted in a launched Hellfire missile striking the child and his father instead. Realizing they had missed their target, the Apache pilot then fired  100 rounds at “Doody” with his 30-mm gun, critically injuring the man.

According to reports, the U.S. changed tactics in Afghanistan after President Barack Obama assumed office, focusing on fighting the Taliban insurgency with targeted attacks on Taliban members rising  to between 10 and 15 a night. Those attacks were based upon lists  maintained by the CIA and NATO, in a strategy called “escalate and exit” by the White House.

Continue reading…

Cologne Cathedral to Turn Out Lights in Protest at Anti-Muslim March

3 January, 2015 - 20:17

cologne-cathedral
Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern railway bridge along the river Rhine, March 29, 2014. Ina Fassbender/Reuters

Cologne Cathedral to Turn Out Lights in Protest at Anti-Muslim March

One of Germany’s most famous landmarks, Cologne Cathedral, will be plunged into darkness on Monday evening in protest at a march by a growing grass-roots anti-Muslim movement through the western German city, cathedral authorities said.

The rise of the group, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA), has shaken Germany’s political establishment, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say in her New Year address that its leaders were racists full of hatred and citizens should beware being used.

PEGIDA’s last weekly rally in the eastern city of Dresden attracted some 17,000 people, and the movement plans further marches in other cities, including through the center of Cologne on Monday night with a rally by the cathedral.

“PEGIDA is made up of an astonishingly broad mix of people, ranging from those in the middle of society to racists and the extreme right-wing,” Cathedral Dean Norbert Feldhoff told Reuters.

“By switching off the floodlighting we want to make those on the march stop and think. It is a challenge: consider who you are marching alongside.”

Dresden’s famous Semperoper opera house also extinguished its lights in protest during the last PEGIDA march in the city.

Continue reading …

Sweden struck by 3rd mosque arson attack in a week

2 January, 2015 - 05:06

uppsala.si

Police car stands in front of a mosque in Uppsala, Sweden, after a burnt-out molotov coctail was found early on January1, 2015. (AFP Photo / TT News Agency / Pontus Lundahl)

This is a very worrying trend. Islamophobia? What Islamophobia? I wonder what the Right Wing and Liberal Islamophobes will say about this. According to a Yahoo News article  “Sweden’s Islamic Association posted a photograph online of the main door of the mosque, which was emblazoned with the slogan “Go home Muslim shit”.”

Sweden struck by 3rd mosque arson attack in a week

A mosque in one of Sweden’s largest cities was reportedly struck by a Molotov cocktail and vandalized with racist graffiti early on New Year’s morning in the third such attack in a week.

Police are seeking the culprit after a man lobbed the firebomb into the mosque in the early hours of Thursday morning in Uppsala. “Someone threw a firebomb, a Molotov cocktail, at the building,” Uppsala police spokesman Torsten Hemlin told Swedish news agency TT.

“They also wrote some vulgar, racist words,”he added.

Nobody was in the building at the time of the attack, Hemlin said. The attack took place at about 4:30 am on New Year’s Day.

“The crime has been classed as attempted arson, vandalism and incitement to hatred,”police said in a statement, AFP reported.

Police have been asking for witnesses to come forward, as a suspect is still at large. There have been two other arson attacks against mosques in Sweden during the past week.

On December 25, five people suffered injuries when a petrol bomb was tossed through the window of a mosque in Eskilstuna, to the east of Stockholm.

Continue reading …

Hundreds of Muslims Are Trapped in Enclaves in the Central African Republic

2 January, 2015 - 05:02

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Hundreds of Muslims Are Trapped in Enclaves in the Central African Republic

Hundreds of Muslims are trapped in enclaves in atrocious conditions in the Central African Republic, fearing attacks if they leave and blocked from fleeing abroad by the interim government, reports Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Those trapped in some of the enclaves face a grim choice: leave and face possible attack from anti-balaka fighters, or stay and die from hunger and disease,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at HRW. “The government’s policy of no evacuations is absolutely indefensible.”

HRW also deplore U.N. peacekeepers for alleged complicity in hindering Muslims to seek safety. Camp leaders in the western Muslim enclaves of Yaloké, Carnot and Boda told researchers earlier this month that an estimated 1,750 people, many of them ethnic Peuhl herders, are desperate to flee.

Most of the Muslims in the west of the country escaped brutal attacks by Christian and animist anti-balaka militants between late 2013 and early 2014. More than 5,000 people were killed between December 2013 and September this year, the Associated Press reports.

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Pig’s Head Hung On Mosque Door In Vienna

30 December, 2014 - 22:36

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I don’t know about it being an “affront to Muslim sensibilities,” most Muslims while likely being disgusted by this act and seeing how uncivilized and hatefilled it is likely find the perpetrators pitiful and ignorant.

via. IslamophobiaWatch

In a barbaric affront to Muslim sensibilities, part of a pig’s head and some pork tripe was attached to the door of a mosque in Vienna’s 21st district on Christmas day.

The imam of the Kocatepe mosque spoke to the Andadolu press agency about the incident, condemning the vandalism as an “unacceptable” act.

The head of the Turkish-Islamist Union in Vienna (ATIB), Fatih Karadaş, condemned the attack saying that “this is not an attack against Muslims but the whole of humanity. We, as Muslims, will preserve our calm and collective attitude.”

This is not the first incident of its type, as Austria’s Muslim community has been attacked several times this year in similar hate crimes. An Imam Hatip school in Vienna that concentrates on religious education was also vandalized. A pig’s head was left in front of the school’s door during Ramadan in early October.

And in August, a pig’s head was impaled on a fence at a construction site for a new islamic school.  It’s not known who left the pig’s head at the centre, but even if someone confesses there is little the police can do as nothing was damaged and therefore there are no criminal charges.

The Islamic Federation could make a complaint within civil jurisdiction. Muslims are forbidden from eating pork or touching pig carcasses, as they are considered unclean.

The planned school has been unpopular in Austria, with Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz saying the idea “is completely the wrong approach”.

Another mosque called Eyüp Sultan, located in the town of Telfs, was repeatedly vandalized with graffiti.

In one of the more serious incidents, an elderly Muslim woman was attacked in a bank, apparently the victim of a hate crime motivated by religious intolerance.

In September, a Muslim woman was attacked by another woman on a train, apparently because the former was wearing a headscarf.

In August two elderly Muslim ladies wearing headscarves were attacked in Favoritenstraße. Police were reportedly slow to respond to this incident, and only began questioning suspects days after.

Austria’s Islamic Religious Community Association said that Muslims often experience discrimination in Austria but that “it is not well documented”.

Spokeswoman Carla Amina Baghajati said that the association plans to start collecting data on all religiously motivated incidents. However, she said she did not believe that the police lacked sensitivity to the issue.

The Local, 27 December 2014

Muslim woman sues county jail after being forced to attend Christian church service

30 December, 2014 - 22:30

Sakeena Majeed sits in the living room of her mother's home in Cleveland Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. The 24-year-old Muslim woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Cuyahoga County, alleging she was forced to attend Christian church services during a 60-day jail stint on an assault charge. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Sakeena Majeed sits in the living room of her mother’s home in Cleveland Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. The 24-year-old Muslim woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Cuyahoga County, alleging she was forced to attend Christian church services during a 60-day jail stint on an assault charge. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Well what can we expect from the state of US prisons, but still shocking nonetheless. It is good to see her standing up for her rights. But I am sure somehow the rightwing and liberal Islamophobes will find a way to blame her. Muslim woman sues county jail after being forced to attend Christian church service

Associated Press in Cleveland theguardian.com, Friday 19 December 2014 21.26 GMT

A Muslim woman who says she was forced to attend Christian church services during a 60-day jail stint in Cleveland on an assault charge has sued the county.

Sakeena Majeed said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that a correction officer made her and other Cuyahoga County jail inmates attend Friday afternoon services led by a Baptist minister. She alleged that she was threatened with solitary confinement if she did not attend and that another correction officer mocked her when she refused to actively participate.

“That should be offensive to anybody, no matter what your religion is,” said her attorney Matthew Besser, who filed the lawsuit. “The government can’t tell you what god to pray to or to pray at all.”

Majeed’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A county prosecutor’s spokesman, Joe Frolik, declined to comment about it on Friday.

Majeed, of suburban Rocky River, was sentenced to the county jail on 3 April after pleading guilty to assault. She was arrested on her lunch hour on 18 July, 2013, after getting into a confrontation with a police officer who had stopped her for jaywalking, Besser said. Records show she was indicted on charges of felonious assault, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Her sentence began 11 April.

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The Muslim emir of Kano calls on Nigerians to arm themselves against Boko Haram

30 December, 2014 - 22:26

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Sanusi has been quoted as saying “We will never be intimidated into abandoning our religion.” in response to attacks which  Nigerian officials allege are by Boko Haram.

The emir of Kano calls on Nigerians to arm themselves against Boko Haram Banker v Boko
From inflation targeter to insurgent target
Dec 6th 2014 | LAGOS | From the print edition

LAMIDO Sanusi was never afraid of offending. “I love controversy”, the Muslim leader said earlier this year. “If you think there has to be change…you need to step on a few toes.”

Mr Sanusi lived by that mantra as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, embracing reform and rooting out corruption. He was sacked in February after claiming that some $20 billion of oil revenues had gone missing from government coffers. The powers-that-be were irked when, only four months later, he was made emir of Kano.

Emirs, traditional leaders of the north, wield great influence and the Kano post is the second-highest ranking of all. They usually stay out of politics. But once installed in his palace, Mr Sanusi has been catapulted back to the centre of another national crisis: this time, the insurgency in Nigeria’s north. He caused a stir last month by calling on Nigerians to arm themselves against the Boko Haram insurgents waging jihad on the state. Residents should not wait for help from the military, he was reported as saying. They should “acquire what they need to protect themselves”. Police angrily said this was a “call for anarchy”.

Civilians are already playing an active role in fighting the insurgents through local vigilante groups. Mr Sanusi echoed a growing feeling among politicians that, as the military fails, arming civilians may be the best way to secure the north, said one well-placed analyst who requested anonymity.

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Fire Damages Swedish Mosque In Second Suspected Arson Attack

29 December, 2014 - 20:20

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The Star Online

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Fire ripped through a Swedish mosque early on Monday in the second suspected arson attack on a Muslim centre in four days in a country caught up in a fierce debate on immigration.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in the southern town of Eslov and no one was injured, local media reported.

“We … are working under the assumption it is arson,” police officer Marie Keismar told the TT news agency.

Five people were injured when fire broke out in another mosque in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna on Christmas day.

Polls have shown the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats winning over voters from the centre right and centre left.

The party, Sweden’s third biggest, wants to cut the number of asylum seekers getting in by 90 percent. Other more mainstream parties have promised to preserve the Nordic state’s traditionally liberal stance.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander)

Make It Plain-Philly: Mobilizing Black-American Muslims

28 December, 2014 - 19:09

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Muslims fighting for social justice, addressing police brutality and the two-tiered justice system in the United States.

Mobilizing Black-American Muslims

How a rally in Philadelphia could be an effective model for the future

By: Margari Aziza Hill

The “Make It Plain-Philly” rally that took place on December 27th, 2014 was as much about the present day circumstances of race in America as it was about the long-term mobilization of black Muslims in America.

Philadelphia is one of the oldest and most established indigenous American Muslim communities. According to the the Association of Religion Data Archives,  in 2010 Muslims made up about 2.6% of Philadelphia County’s  population, totaling about 40,000. It is the fourth largest Muslim population center, with at least 63 registered mosques. Islam is so normalized in Philadelphia that it is not an uncommon sight to see a hijab-clad black American Muslim driving the city bus or niqab-wearing women in scrubs at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Islam has become deeply embedded in the local vernacular, so much so that many non-Muslims use the term “ock” (derived from the Arabic term akhi which means brother) to refer to Muslims. Even Muslim modes of dress and grooming are adopted by the broader community.  It is not uncommon for a non-Muslim to request a “sunni beard” trim from his local barber.  Muslims have played an important role in the city’s institutions, a noteworthy example is Kenny Luqman Gamble’s redevelopment project in South Philadelphia.

Given this cultural and institutional presence in the city, black Muslims in Philadelphia have an opportunity to establish two important precedents:

First, Muslims should have a lot to say about racism in America, drawing from the history of black Muslims who have repeatedly articulated powerful critiques of racist social, cultural, political and economic structures. Taking a leadership role in addressing issues of race and racism in America is an important step Muslims in America must undertake that aligns with the moral and ethical impulses of Islam. In other words, Islam has something meaningfully important to add to the conversation, and so participation is both morally obligated and politically necessary.

copyright MAGSiddiqui

Second, the black Muslim community must take this opportunity to assume a leadership role within the broader Muslim community on an issue important to America. Muslims in general must take an active role in addressing issues of racism and bigotry and black Muslims have unique insights into these issues given its history and experience of Islam in America.

In 1985, Philadelphia became the only US city in which a police department bombed civilians, killing 11 people. The Justice Department recently intervened  to curb abuses in Philadelphia Police Department.  The cases of misconduct included corruption, excessive use of force, sexual misconduct, false arrest, and homicide.  Philadelphia Muslims are no strangers to structural racism, over policing and surveillance.   The NYPD’s spy program includes surveillance of UPenn MSA students. A few years back, an APB was issued by police for my husband, Marc Manley, for taking a picture of train tracks while wearing a fez.

Likewise, black Muslims are not immune to the vulnerability of black Life, as the Philadelphia community was reminded of at the janazah of Aisha Abdul Rahman.  Black Muslims are all too often victims of gun violence.

With the intersection of race, Muslim identity and policing in Philadelphia, the spontaneous efforts Philadelphia Muslims to organize “Make It Plain” was a necessary response by a community that needs to make it presence known.

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Sweden: Protesters Denounce Firebombing Of Mosque That Injured Five

27 December, 2014 - 18:03

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RawStory

Several hundred marchers turned out in Sweden on Friday to denounce an arson attack on a mosque that injured five people Thursday, as the traditionally tolerant country confronts the rising influence of the extreme right.

A firebomb was thrown through a closed window of the mosque in the central city of Eskilstuna on Thursday, injuring five of the nearly 70 worshippers inside — two of whom remained hospitalised Friday.

Answering calls to denounce the attack by the “Together for Eskilstuna” Facebook page, a large group of people converged on the damaged mosque to show their support.

“Several hundred people were there to deliver a message of friendship,” police spokesman Roland Lindqvist told AFP.

According to police, windows in a second Eskilstuna mosque were broken overnight Thursday, though authorities couldn’t say whether the two attacks were linked.

Sweden’s leftist Prime Minister Stefan Lofven denounced what he called the spurt of “hateful violence.”

“We will never tolerate this kind of crime. Those who want to practice their religion should have the right to do so,” Lofven told public radio station SR.

No suspects had been arrested Friday afternoon in the case police have opened for aggravated criminal arson, which has been joined by Sweden’s intelligence service, Sapo.

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Nigeria: 200 Muslims Protect Christians During Christmas Service in Kaduna

27 December, 2014 - 17:51

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This should not only be encouraged by officials but should be backed and expanded as a campaign in other areas.

Muslim youths protect Christians during Xmas service in Kaduna

Vanguard

More than 200 Muslim youth volunteers are part of those protecting Christians during church services to celebrate this year’s Christmas in Kaduna, says Pastor Yohanna Buru.

Buru, a cleric of Christ Evangelical Church, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna South, disclosed this in an interview with pressmen in Kaduna.

He confirmed that over 200 Muslims were at his church to help protect the faithful from any attack during the church service.

According to him, the feat is the first of its kind after the series of crises that rocked the state in recent past.
“I really appreciate their love and care,’’ said the cleric.

Buru said the essence of that was to protect the Christian worshippers as part of effort to strengthen peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the state.

The pastor expressed happiness over the protection given to them by the Muslim brothers.

He noted the initiative was an indication that peace has come to stay in the state, saying the measure will strengthen a lasting peace between the two religions.

He also prayed God to continue to bring about peace in the country the country, praying that other citizens would emulate the gesture.

He urged Nigerians to learn to live in peace with one another irrespective of ethnic or religious differences.
The cleric said that peace was a major panacea to the positive development of any nation. (NAN)

Swedish Mosque Hit By Arson In Eskilstuna Injuring Five

26 December, 2014 - 22:34

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More of this non-existent Islamophobia that certain left wing and right wing deny? According to Deutsche Welle it is used predominantly by the Somali Muslim community.

Swedish mosque hit by arson in Eskilstuna, injuring five

An arsonist set fire to a mosque in the Swedish town of Eskilstuna on Thursday, injuring five people, police said.

About 15 to 20 people were attending midday prayers in the mosque, located in the ground floor of a residential building, when the fire broke out on Christmas Day.

Local media footage showed smoke and flames billowing from the windows before firefighters put the blaze out.

The incident comes amid a fierce debate in Sweden over immigration policies.

The far right wants to cut the number of asylum seekers allowed into Sweden by 90%, while mainstream parties are intent on preserving the country’s liberal policy.

“A witness saw somebody throw an object through the window of the building, which serves as a mosque, after which a violent fire began,” police spokesman Lars Franzell told reporters.

He said five people were taken to hospital for treatment of injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to lacerations.

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Here is video footage from Russia Today  (H/T: rookie)

Being Muslim On Christmas

24 December, 2014 - 13:37

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Shahida Muhammad writes about her experiences with Christmas while growing up.

Being Muslim on Christmas

December 8, 2014  By Shahida Muhammad

“Now write a list of things you want from Santa,” my 3rd-grade teacher casually instructed as she handed out a sheet of paper for us to write on.

I saw it coming – another filler assignment to occupy our attention for at least an hour or so in the last few days before the holiday break.

“I don’t celebrate Christmas, can I have something else to do?”

I spent the next 30-minutes doodling on the back of a reef coloring sheet. My classmates were in disbelief.

“Dag, you don’t get nothing on Christmas? That’s crazy! I couldn’t be no Muzlim.”

“That’s ’cause she don’t believe in Jesus, she believes in Ola.”

“No and Santa doesn’t even have anything to do with …”  They weren’t tryna hear any of it. All the comebacks I had stored up over the years from being in this same exact situation fell on deaf ears. At 8-years-old, all they could process was the shock of me waking up on December 25th without any gifts waiting for me while I was purposely avoiding red and green crayons – I was done with the holiday hoopla at this point.

This was as broad as religious discussions got in my public school elementary classrooms. Year after year, I sat through Christmas plays, visits from Santa, and tree decorating activities. There was an occasional presentation on Kwanzaa, which usually only lasted a day and included a lackluster call-and-response of a few of the principles. I also remember learning a tidbit about Jewish dreidels and Hanukkah. Exposure pretty much stopped there.

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