Who Guards The Most Sacred Site In Christendom? Two Muslims
By Gabriele Barbati | March 29 2013 11:55 PM
JERUSALEM — Every Christian knows the holiest places in Christendom are in Jerusalem. The holiest of all, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, was erected in 325, over the site where it is believed Jesus was crucified, buried and rose from the dead.
Yet, few know that it is a Muslim who opens and closes the only door to this holiest of Christian sites.
In fact, it’s two Muslims: one man from the Joudeh family and another man from the Nuseibeh family, two Jerusalem Palestinian clans who have been the custodians of the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre since the 12th century.
Every morning, at 4:30, Adeeb Joudeh travels from his apartment outside the walls of the Old City to bring the cast-iron key to the church, just as his father and his forebears did before him.
Once there, he entrusts the key — looking like a 12-inch (30-centimeter) long iron wedge — to Wajeeh Nuseibeh, who knocks at the gate to call the priests and the pilgrims who spend the night praying inside. From inside the church, a wooden ladder is passed through a porthole to help him unlock the upper part of the enormous door.
Then, he unlocks the lower one before handing the precious key back to Joudeh. The ritual is reversed every evening at 7:30, after hundreds of tourists and pilgrims have left the church.
During holidays, such as Holy Week, which culminates Sunday with the Christian Easter, the elaborate opening and closing ceremonies take place several times a day.
Why the elaborate ritual? As often happens in Jerusalem, a city holy to several peoples and religions, there are different versions to explain why two Muslim families hold the key to the holiest site in Christendom.
“After the Muslim conquest in 637, the Caliph Omar guaranteed the Archbishop Sophronius that the Christian places of worship would be protected and so entrusted the custodianship to the Nuseibehs, a family who originated in Medina and had had relations with the Prophet Muhammad,” said Nuseibeh, a retired 63-year old electrician, while waiting in a nearby cafe to carry out his duties at the Holy Sepulchre.
“It happened again in 1187, after Saladin ended the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. He chose our family again to look after the peace between the different Eastern and Western Christian confessions, which were at odds over control of the Sepulchre,” he said with a gentle smile, sitting next to his son, Obadah.
To this day, coexistence among the several Christian churches sharing the Holy Sepulchre is a delicate one. Catholic, Greek, Armenian, Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian Orthodox monks have resorted to fists more than once to defend their respective denomination’s rights and privileges in the church, as defined in an decree by the Ottoman Empire, known as the Status Quo of 1853.
Such impious brawls between clergy proved Saladin’s prescience 1,000 years ago, when the sultan sealed the second front gate of the church and entrusted control of the remaining entrance to neutral custodians.
The Nuseibehs claim that the Joudehs entered this story only in the 16th century, after the Ottoman Turks gained control of Palestine and decided to charge a second family with the responsibility of guarding the key.
“Yes, we share the responsibility with the Joudehs, and sometimes we argue, as happens in a family,” Nuseibeh said.
Each Maundy Thursday since the end of the 19th century, the two Muslim families give the key to the Holy Sepulchre to the local Franciscan friars, for as long as it takes to walk to the church in a procession and to open the door after the morning liturgies. When those are completed, the friars return the key to the families.
This ceremony, which confirms in practice the validity of the Muslim families’ custodianship, is repeated with the Greek and Armenian communities, on Orthodox Good Friday and Holy Saturday, respectively.
“Right now, I have in my hands the keys to Christendom’s heart. This is a very important moment for us,” said the Rev. Artemio Vitores, the Spanish Franciscan who is the vicar Custodian of the Holy Land, during the Maundy Thursday procession.
“For centuries, Christian pilgrims were denied entry to the church, or had to pay huge sums to pray on the Sepulchre,” he said, all while holding the key.
At the head of the procession, Vitores was flanked on one side by Wajeeh Nusseibeh, his son Obadah and two cousins, all of whom were equally compensated by the friars for their services with the symbolic sum of $60.
On Vitores’ other side were Adeeb Joudeh, wearing an impeccable dark gray suit, and his 19-year-old son Jawad.
For about 20 minutes, Joudeh ceded control of the only existing key to the Holy Sepulchre. While there is another key, it is broken and no longer used. The functioning key is normally kept in a small office attached to the church and is guarded by an employee of the Joudeh family.
“This key has seen Saladin and every generation of my family since 1187. To me, it’s an honor to be in charge of the holiest of Christian places,” Joudeh said, while walking the cobblestoned alley leading to the Holy Sepulchre.
How to write about Muslims
by Belen Fernandez (AlJazeera English)
The Western press and social media often seem to exercise two options for dealing with the Muslim population of the world: overt, unabashed Islamophobia or slightly subtler Islamophobia.
As Georgetown University’s John L Esposito writes in the foreword to Nathan Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, 9/11 and other terror attacks “have exacerbated the growth of Islamophobia exponentially” and resulted in a situation in which “Islam and the Middle East often dominate the negative headlines”, thanks in part to the calculated machinations of “a number of journalists and scholars”.
Needless to say, the aftermath of 9/11 did not yield much thoughtful consideration on the part of the mainstream punditry as to the context for such events. According to one prominent narrative, 9/11 was simply evidence of an inherent and unfounded Muslim hatred of the West.
A notable exception was veteran British journalist Robert Fisk. In an article published in The Nation immediately following the attacks, Fisk issued the following prescient warning:
“[T]his is not really the war of democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the coming days. It is also about US missiles smashing into Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called Qana and about a Lebanese militia – paid and uniformed by America’s Israeli ally – hacking and raping and murdering their way through refugee camps.”
The sale of the “war on terror”, Fisk stressed, depended on the obscuration of all details regarding past and continuing devastation of Arab lands and lives – including US State Department-applauded sanctions that eliminated half a million children in Iraq – “lest they provide the smallest fractional reason for the mass savagery on September 11″.
Outlets such as Fox News took advantage of the opportunity to impute mass savagery to select Arab populations via de-contextualised post-9/11 headlines like, ”Arafat Horrified by Attacks, but Thousands of Palestinians Celebrate; Rest of World Outraged”.
The demonisation of Muslims by certified sociopaths such as Pamela Geller comes, of course, as no surprise. However, the subtler dissemination of similar sentiments in Western mainstream discourse underscores the fundamental utility of the sociopathic sector in making institutionalised prejudice appear more rationally benign.
For example, according to Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in the UK:
“[a] study commissioned by the Greater London Authority of 352 articles over a randomly selected one week period in 2007, found that 91 percent of articles about Muslims were ‘negative’.”
As it turns out, a little journalistic trick called “the invention of information” may come in handy in the proliferation of negativity. A 2008 article by Peter Osborne in the British Independent – titled “The shameful Islamophobia at the heart of Britain’s press” – catalogues some of the news industry’s more egregious deviations from the truth, such as a front-page story in The Sunannouncing that a “Muslim hate mob” had vandalised a home and left a “Fuck off” message in the driveway.
As Osborne notes, The Sun quoted MP Philip Davies’ opinion that “[i]f there’s anybody who should fuck off, it’s the Muslims who are doing this kind of thing”. Osborne adds:
“But there was one very big problem with The Sun story. There was no Muslim involvement of any kind.”
Other instances of scaremongering discrimination and deceit cited in the Independent report include:
1. A front-page newspaper headline implying that “Muslim Sickos” were to blame for the disappearance of a young girl. The corresponding text reportedly revealed that the so-called “Muslim Sickos” merely suggested on the internet that the girl’s parents were involved in her kidnapping.
2. A Daily Express article “claim[ing] that NatWest and Halifax had removed images of piggy banks from their promotional material in an effort to avoid offending Muslim customers”.
3. A story about a Muslim bus driver commanding passengers to disembark at prayer time.
Beards and civilisation
John L Esposito highlights some of the disconcerting repercussions of pervasive Islamophobic rhetoric in the US in his foreword to The Islamophobia Industry. According to a 2006 USA Today-Gallup Poll of non-Muslim Americans, Esposito writes:
“[f]ewer than half the respondents believed that US Muslims are loyal to the United States. Nearly one-quarter of Americans – 22 percent – said they would not like to have a Muslim as a neighbour; 31 percent said they would feel nervous if they noticed a Muslim man on their flight, and 18 percent said they would feel nervous if they noticed a Muslim woman on their flight. About 4 in 10 Americans favour more rigorous security measures for Muslims than those used for other US citizens: requiring Muslims who are US citizens to carry a special ID and undergo special, more intensive, security checks before boarding airplanes.”
It’s not enormously difficult to see how such a climate would spawn record levels of anti-Muslim violence in the country.
The de facto criminalisation of certain types of facial hair and other signifiers of Islamic piety is meanwhile aided and abetted by certain journalistic manoeuvers such as references to “bearded savages” and the like in the mainstream press.
A 1998 New York Times feat of Orientalist travel writing entitled “Exotic Oman Opens Its Doors” begins:
“Think of the Persian Gulf and what do you see? Gulf war soldiers, burning oil, bearded fanatics, polluted seas and flat, bleak desert.”
Luckily for the author-vacationer, Judith Miller, “exotic” Oman defies stereotypes and proves itself to be an “exquisitely civilised country”. As for less fortunate Persian Gulf locales, the same Miller subsequently expanded her talents from providing the Times‘ readership with detailed descriptions of the turtle egg-laying process on the Omani coast to falsified reports of an Iraqi WMD programme.
In the end, media characterisations of Muslims kill two birds with one stone, justifying oppression at home and imperial devastation abroad.
Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, released by Verso in 2011. She is a member of the Jacobin Magazine editorial board, and her articles have appeared in the London Review of Books blog, The Baffler, Al Akhbar English and many other publications.
Follow her on Twitter: @MariaBelen_Fdez
Hatef Mokhtar of The Oslo Times had a very interesting interview on a wide range of subjects with Tarja Cronberg, a member of the European Parliament, the whole interview is well worth the read if you are interested in European issues that effect the whole world.
Cronberg states explicitly links Islamophobia in the context of Western nations response to 9/11:Islamophobia had been fuelled by the response of the West to 9/11 – Tarja Cronberg Member of European Parliament
(The Oslo Times)
TOT: Apart from the critical economics and political situations the Europe is going through, there is one more of major concern that now has been doing rounds of politics, has also been felt as a pinch in the speeches of various European leaders during elections and among the very European native society as well as even in certain decisions taken by some European countries. We are talking about the growth of Islamophobia in Europe.
a.) Why Muslims and their conservative nature of their culture are being seen as threat to the native European society?
b.) What are steps that are being introduced by European Parliament to accommodate and integrate Muslims and their culture in the European system and the society?
c.) Does the government of Finland and your party are working to formulate any policy framework in order to address the issues by this Islamic influx in the country and in the region that has changed the demographics of many countries in Europe?
Tarja Cronberg: Islamophobia had been fuelled by the response of the western governments to 9/11 . The measures of “war on terrorism” have been alleviated, and this change in the policies hopefully will soften also some prejudices in Europe. It will be a long process as the policies have breached human rights.
Unfortunately, also some of the far-right groupss have taken advantage of fuelled islamophopbia and they have used their own means to provoke it.
The European parliament has called EU to abolish religious intolerance. This includes islamophobia.
In Finland the immigration has been small-scale compared to many countries. Anyhow the immigrants that have come, have found it difficult to get employed. We have proposed to deal with the problem by integration measures such as language and other training, and with different forums for cultural exchange.
Christians face discrimination in many places in the Muslim world, including in Egypt, however it certainly doesn’t help when Fox News, a bastion of Right-Wing fundamentalism (of both the political and religious variety) pushes misleading stories.
In an article published on March 26, 2013, Fox News ran a story on its main page with the inflammatory title, “Egyptian mosque turned into house of torture for Christians after Muslim Brotherhood protest.” The headline paragraph read,
Islamic hard-liners stormed a mosque in suburban Cairo, turning it into torture chamber for Christians who had been demonstrating against the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in the latest case of violent persecution that experts fear will only get worse.
As you can see there is a fair bit of editorializing. Fox contradicts their own narration that this was an “Islamic hard-liners vs. Christians” demonstration,
Demonstrators, some of whom were Muslim, say they were taken from the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in suburban Cairo to a nearby mosque on Friday and tortured for hours by hard-line militia members.
Is this “militia” to go unnamed?
In fact the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Muslim Brotherhood groups clearly transcends the sectarian divide. For months there have been tensions in Egypt between the ruling party and opponents, sometimes spilling into violence; Brotherhood offices have been torched and ransacked while opponents of Morsi have been killed in clashes, jailed and have had peaceful protests disrupted.
Of course, Fox News is trying to fire-up another Randolph Linn and hence any of the complexities and nuance of the situation will be glossed over and left out of the context; we know that Islamophobia is a central position at Fox, being an integral part of Roger Ailes‘ strategy.
A more sober report by Ahram Online on the incident gives us a realistic picture, leaving out the false reporting about the protest as a “Christians vs. Muslims” conflagration:
The board of directors of a community-funded religious centre in Cairo’s Moqattam district – located near the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters – issued a statement on Monday confirming that “members of the Islamist current” had taken control of the mosque during Friday’s bloody clashes between protesters and Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Anti-Brotherhood protesters had accused Brotherhood members and supporters of holding and torturing their opponents inside the mosque during street battles.
The Belal Ibn Rabbah Mosque lies in the Nafoura square where scuffles broke out between both groups on Friday.
Media reports in the past 72 hours had cited witnesses, some of whom said they are Moqattam residents, who claimed to have been brutally tortured at the hands of Brotherhood members inside the mosque on the day of the clashes.
The statement issued by the mosque’s board of directors is the first document to corroborate claims made by anti-Brotherhood protesters that supporters of the ruling Islamist group had occupied the mosque.
Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein had accused protesters of breaking into mosques following Friday’s clashes.
The centre stated that it had filed an official legal complaint about the incident.
Egypt’s prosecution-general, meanwhile, has subpoenaed on Monday several political activists accused of “inciting and committing violence against the Brotherhood’s headquarters and group members.”
Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah ordered the subpoenas based on a complaint filed by Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud on Monday morning against 169 individuals – including opposition figures and “thugs” – accused of of instigating attacks on the Islamist group’s headquarters.
If Fox News was trying to feed its base’s “Christian persecution complex” they succeeded as the comments were, as you would expect, extremely anti-Muslim, verging at times on the genocidal.
Mick Wagner talks about burning the mosque down and sonarguy thinks Islam should be erased from the earth:
Scott Willis links it back to the USA:
brunsk42 brings Obama into it:
Some want to nuke the Egyptians, like totalpeon doing his best impersonation of Eric Allen Bell:
This is only a representative sampling of the 160 or so comments on the Fox article which was predictably and faithfully reproduced by the looniverse.
Such media malfeasance at Fox is nothing new or surprising and just highlights how easy it is in our present climate to get away with bashing Muslims and Islam.
Police officers in Russia forced three men in a Muslim cafe to cut their beards at gunpoint, it has been claimed.
During an inspection of a Muslim cafe in the Russian city of Surgut police officers apparently threatened some visitors with automatic weapons and with a lighter.
One of the men claims an officer held a lighter to his chin and told him ‘cut it off or I will burn it off’.
One of the men (pictured) claims an officer held a lighter to his chin and told him ‘cut it off or I will burn it off’
The incident allegedly took place on March 3 in the cafe located near a mosque as the men were eating after evening prayers.
One of the men said he was forced to use scissors to cut off his long beard.
It is believed there were 15 officers in masks and they arrived in four cars.
According to Red Hot Russia, witnesses saw people in the uniform of riot police (OMON) burst into cafe place and force visitors onto their knees.
The founder of rightwing portal Blaze.com and full time apocalyptic nativist Glenn Beck still peddling “Radical Islam” take over of America conspiracy theories to sheeple.Glenn Beck: Michele Bachmann Under Investigation Because She’s Against Radical Islam
Glenn Beck suggested Tuesday that the ethics investigation into the erstwhile presidential campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is retribution for the congresswoman’s outspoken crusade against what she has called the threat of radical Islam.
“We have been sold to radical Islam,” Beck said matter-of-factly on his Internet show. “It has infiltrated and we have documented it.”
Beck continued, claiming that radical Islam is so powerful it affected the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics, which, according to a Daily Beast report, is questioning former Bachmann staffers regarding “allegations of improper transfer of funds and under-the-table payments actions by Bachmann’s presidential campaign.”
“You see what they’re doing to Michele Bachmann?” Beck asked. “Michele Bachmann is under all kinds of ethics investigations now. Why do you suppose that is? … She is uber-clear on what’s going on. Uber-clear.”
Bachmann drew widespread criticism last year for spearheading a campaign alleging that high-profile aides in President Barack Obama’s administration had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Other Republican representatives and conservative pundits,including Beck, backed the discredited claims.
But Beck suggested there were other reasons for a supposed radical Islamic-linked backlash against Bachmann. According to him, she’d demonstrated her clarity on what was “going on” because she’d asked the State Department for answers on why it was sending Somali refugees to her district.
“She hasn’t gotten any answers and now she’s under investigation,” Beck concluded.
Beck is right about one thing. Many Somalis do live in Minnesota – more than 32,000according to census data. But the State Department’s decision to select Minnesota and Bachmann’s district as a destination for Somali refugees far predates the controversial congresswoman’s entrance into politics.
It began in the early 1990s, when civil war broke out in Somalia, forcing refugees to flee to neighboring countries. Many eventually ended up in the U.S., and the State Department sent them to Minnesota, confident that the region’s voluntary agencies, or VOLAGS — groups that partner with the federal government — could provide a strong infrastructure for their resettlement.
As Minnesota’s WCCO reported in 2011:
But the Somalis have largely stayed, somewhere around 30,000 of them, partially because of the strength of the non-governmental VOLAGS, and partially because of the strength of governmental programs to help refugees begin a new life …After the first wave is assigned here, the second wave of relatives and friends soon followed.
What any of this has to do with the mounting investigations and legal problems Bachmann now faces, only Beck knows.
(h/t: msmrishan)The hardline Buddhists targeting Sri Lanka’s Muslims
After a series of attacks on mosques, wild rumours about animal slaughter and an attempt to outlaw the halal system of classification, the BBC’s Charles Haviland investigates how Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority is being targeted by hardline Buddhists.
On a January morning a crowd of Buddhist monks storm a law college, yelling, chanting and even hitting one or two seemingly random people and pushing back the police. Furiously they shout that the exam results have been distorted to favour Muslims.
A few weeks later, apparently abetted by the police, monks attack a slaughterhouse in Dematagoda, Colombo, alleging that calves are being slaughtered inside (illegal in the capital) or the meat is improperly stored.
Both are incorrect, but the monks spread rumours that the facility is Muslim-owned as most of the truck drivers are Muslim.
Sri Lankan monks are now taking this so-called “direct action” every few days. It is part of a growing wave of anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka carried out by new hardline Buddhist groups – a trend that is making many people anxious, even fearful.
It comes four years after the army in this mainly Sinhalese Buddhist country defeated Tamil separatists.
During Sri Lanka’s bitter civil war war the Muslims – a small Tamil-speaking minority, about 9% of the population – kept a low profile, although many suffered violence.
Muslims are seen as having remained largely loyal to the state during the 26-year conflict. Indeed in 1990 they were expelled en masse from the north of Sri Lanka by Tamil rebels with just a few hours’ notice.
But they now fear that ethnic majority hardliners are trying to target them.
At their recent rallies, the most prominent new hardline group, the Buddhist Strength Force (Bodu Bala Sena, BBS) have used coarse, derogatory language to describe Muslim imams and have told the Sinhalese majority not to rent property to Muslims.
At one meeting attracting thousands, the organisation’s secretary, Gnanasara Thero, told each Buddhist present to become “an unofficial policeman against Muslim extremism” and said “so-called democrats” were destroying the Sinhala race.
Away from the rallies, I visited a temple in the suburb of Dehiwala as the early morning sun hit the majestic bo tree.
The presiding monk, Akmeemana Dayarathana, has founded another ultra-nationalist Buddhist group, Sinhala Echo. He says the Sinhalese have real grievances, that Muslims are trying to convert people, building too many mosques – even having too many children. In fact statistics show that both the Sinhalese and Muslim population percentages have grown slightly over three decades.
He says, without giving any evidence, that Muslims propagated a message that Sinhalese families should be small.
“Then they started to increase their own population,” he says. “This is the only country for the Sinhalese.”
He proceeds to give a unique take on geography and religion.
“Look around the world – Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others, they were all Buddhist countries – but the Muslims destroyed the culture and then took over the country. We worry they’re planning it here too.”
A few days later his organisation stormed a house where they alleged Christian conversions were taking place and verbally abused the family inside, some of them – according to a local website – physically assaulting a woman.
Since last April, when monks led an attack on a mosque during Friday prayers in the town of Dambulla, there have been regular accounts of mosques being attacked or vandalised, for instance with graffiti or pictures of pigs. There have also been assaults on churches and Christian pastors but it is the Muslims who are the most concerned.
In the south of the country on 18 March, a mob of hundreds including monks surrounded a pastor’s house, set fire to tyres outside and shouted abusively to those inside.
“Muslims are worried all over the country,” Mufti MIM Rizwe tells me. “Everybody is [in] fear.”
He is president of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), the main organisation of Muslim clerics, and meets me at a hotel where imams have come together for emergency discussions on the situation.
He defends the halal system of food classification, which the hardline monks are now trying to outlaw, and strongly denies that the community is fostering extremism as they claim. He rejects their accusation that Muslims have been destroying Buddhist holy sites.
“You can’t show one incident that Muslims have reacted in this way,” he says. “No single statue or any religious worship places have been targeted by Muslims, totally not. Muslims have never done this. We hope we are guiding our Muslims to be calm and respect every religion.”
Days later his organisation appears on a platform with moderate Buddhist monks who have decided to distance themselves from the hardliners. The hardliners are withering in their description of the moderates, calling them “unethical and immoral”.
It has become clear that the BBS has top-level support. At its ceremony to open a new training school, the guest of honour was the powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of the president.
“It is the monks who protect our country, religion and race,” he said in a speech.
“No one should doubt these clergy. We’re here to give you encouragement.”
President Mahinda Rajapaksa was reported to have told a BBS delegation in January not to promote “communal hatred”, but the official communique was issued only in English, not in Sinhala.
It is also apparent that Muslim leaders have shied away from any kind of confrontation with the powerful monks or any supporters they may have in government on this issue, remaining largely conciliatory in their language and actions.
Mood of triumphalism
Civic society activists are concerned. Sanjana Hattotuwa, editor of a citizen media initiative, groundviews.org, showed me some of the anti-Muslim web pages that are fast growing in number.
The main picture on a Sinhala Facebook page called “My Conscience”, with more than 8,000 followers, shows a lion – symbol of the Sinhalese – devouring a wild boar depicted with a crescent and star on its forehead.
Mr Hattotuwa believes the dominant mood in the country is one of triumphalism, four years after the Tamil Tigers were beaten, and that this is encouraging victimisation of a new minority.
“The country is seen today as Sinhala Buddhist,” he says. “Everybody else has a rightful place. If they articulate concerns that question the dominant narrative then they should be put into their place. So the end of the war ironically has given the space for new social fault lines to occur.”
He rejects the concern voiced by some people that the socially conservative Muslim community is doing too little to integrate.
“Integration means a recognition that this country is comprised of many communities and each one of them has the right to live where they want, how they want.”
Clearly not everyone in the government – which in any case contains Muslim ministers – is happy with the rise of the hardliners.
Some Sinhalese ministers have expressed unease and a prominent newly retired diplomat, Dayan Jayatilleka, calls the BBS an “ethno-religious fascist movement from the dark underside of Sinhala society”.
Many Sri Lankans feel there are uncomfortable echoes of the 1983 pogroms, when Sinhala violence against Tamils precipitated the war.
But hardline Buddhist rallies and “direct action” stunts are happening all the time now. And their social and political influence is expanding.
Islam: 80% of French public favor tougher anti-veil laws
Intellectuals sign online petition after Supreme Court ruling
(ANSAmed) – PARIS, MARCH 25 – The Islamic veil is still very much a national controversy, data from a front-page BVA survey in Le Parisien newspaper showed on Monday.
More than 80% of respondents favor toughening the country’s 2004 law, which bans religious dress and insignia in schools, nurseries, and anywhere that involves the care and education of children. Another 83% is in favor of extending the ban to the private sector, and 16% is against.
Socialists, intellectuals, politicians and humanitarian NGOs signed an online petition launched by Marianne weekly, calling on the government to enact a new, tougher law in defense of secularism, one that will explain with ”pedagogy and clarity” where and when the principle of secularism is to be applied.
Prominent signatories include philosophers Elisabeth Badinter, Alain Finkielkraut and Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Socialist Party secretary Harlem Desir, and several former ministers. For influential think tank Institut Montaigne, the existing law does not need reforming. The debate flared when France’s highest court on March 19 vacated the dismissal of a woman from a Chateloup-les-Vignes private nursery school for refusing to remove her Islamic veil in the workplace. School authorities cited the principle of secularism and the school’s ”philosophical, political and sectarian neutrality”, but the Supreme Court replied that since secularism does not apply in the private sector, the dismissal ”constitutes in this case an act of discrimination on grounds of religion”. Interior Minister Manuel Valls hotly criticized the ruling, which he said ”brings secularism into question”. Since 2004, French law bans ostentatious wear of all ”religious insignia” in public schools. A law banning women from wearing the full-body Islamic veil (burqa and niqab) in all public places, including the street, was enacted in 2011. Women defying the ban risk fines of 150 euros. (ANSAmed).
Oh noes, it appears the wily stealth Mooslims installed a terrorist sink in the Tennessee state legislature! Or so thought a couple of Tennessee House and Senate members, namely Republican Sen. Bill Kreton and Rep. Judd Matheny. These two lawmakers also happened to be the main sponsors of a 2011 anti-Sharia bill.
Apparently Bill and Judd believed the offending sink was a “Muslim foot bath,” it was actually just a “mop sink.”
(h/t: fxmatt4)TN lawmakers confuse mop sink for Muslim foot-washing sink
NASHVILLE — Sometimes a mop sink is just a mop sink.
Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure some concerned Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying.
“I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”
The nearly $16 million renovation completed in December focused on upgrading electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems in the more than 150-year-old Capitol. Parts of the building also got new carpets, paint and security upgrades.
Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey said he had been approached by a House and Senate member to inquire about the sink, which replaced a utility sink that had been mounted higher on the wall and was used for filling and emptying buckets.
“There was concern about why it had been modified,” said Humphrey, who declined to identify the lawmakers or elaborate on their concerns.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to quote a member inaccurately about what they may or may not have said,” he said.
Republican Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, confirmed that he had spoken to Humphrey about whether there were religious reasons for the new sink after the issue was raised by Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma.
“I just asked the question about what was the intent of that,” Ketron said. “And it satisfied my curiosity after it was presented to me.”
Matheny denied that he was involved in raising questions about the basin.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he told The Associated Press last week. “It’s not ringing a bell.”
While details of the practice vary by sect, Muslims are required to wash their faces, hands and feet before praying as an act of ablution, or ritual purification. Forms of ablution are practiced in almost all major faiths.
The ritual washing of others’ feet is practiced by some Christians as a sign of humility and emulating Jesus Christ, who was said to have washed the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper.
Matheny and Ketron were the main sponsors of a 2011 bill that sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah law.
Hundreds of Muslims came to the Legislature to express fears the measure would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.
A heavily watered-down law ultimately enacted by the Legislature bore little resemblance to the original proposal and references to any specific religion were removed.
Sable will be jotted down as a “counterjihad” hero quite soon, protecting “Western male joggers” everywhere from pregnant hijab-clad women.Pregnant woman attacked by jogger apparently because she was wearing hijab
(The National Post)
Toronto police say a male suspect allegedly hit and harassed a pregnant woman on the street because she was wearing a hijab. Police allege a jogger went out of his way to strike the woman in two separate incidents during the last month on Yonge Street near Eglington Avenue.
Const. Wendy Drummond says police believe the woman was not known by the suspect and was targeted because of her head scarf. Const. Drummond says the suspect also made remarks to the woman on five other occasions, but she did not comment on what was allegedly said.
Shawn Sable, 43, is charged with two counts of assault and one count of criminal harassment. Const. Drummond says the nature of the comments allegedly made by the suspect led investigators to believe other people may also have been targeted. The Canadian Press
ADVANCE EXCERPT: Upcoming Ailes Biography Reveals Fox’s Islamophobia Goes Straight To The Top by JUSTIN BERRIER
In an upcoming biography of Fox News president Roger Ailes, author Zev Chafets reports that Ailes hasn’t donated to any Muslim charities, and connects that decision to comments tying all Muslim charities to terrorism. Ailes’ brand of Islamophobia is mirrored in Fox News’ coverage, which has repeatedly tried to connect all Muslims and Muslim institutions with terrorism.
In his new book Roger Ailes: Off Camera, an early copy of which was obtained by Media Matters, Chafets describes Ailes’ charitable giving as being spread among a variety of religious charities. Despite giving to charities of various faiths, Chafets reported that Ailes has not given to any Muslim charities, quoting Ailes as saying he would only support those organizations “if they disarm” (emphasis added):
“I’ve been kicked out of every damn church I’ve ever belonged to,” says Roger Ailes. It is a buccaneer’s boast, meant to convey a hard-core irreverence. Ailes is not, by any means, a conventional born-again Christian of the Mike Huckabee variety, let alone Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. He wouldn’t use the word himself, but he is ecumenical. He donates considerable sums each year to a small Protestant church near his home in Garrison, although he is not on its membership rolls. He donates upward of 10 percent of his net income to charities, many of them religious, including an annual fifty grand to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and another fifty grand to Catholic charities. He told me he’d be glad to give to Muslim charities, too, “if they disarm.”
The implication that all Muslim charities are connected to terrorism is in line with the Islamophobic rhetoric that regularly appears on Fox News. Fox hosts and guests have a long history of invoking terrorism to attack Muslims and Islam:
Chafets’ book is not the first to report on Ailes’ Islamophobia. In a 2011 Rolling Stone profile of Ailes, Tim Dickinson described Ailes putting “Fox News on lockdown” after “observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb.” Dickinson quoted a source close to Ailes saying “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim — which is consistent with the ideology of his network”:
Inside his blast-resistant office at Fox News headquarters, Ailes keeps a monitor on his desk that allows him to view any activity outside his closed door. Once, after observing a dark-skinned man in what Ailes perceived to be Muslim garb, he put Fox News on lockdown. “What the hell!” Ailes shouted. “This guy could be bombing me!” The suspected terrorist turned out to be a janitor. “Roger tore up the whole floor,” recalls a source close to Ailes. “He has a personal paranoia about people who are Muslim — which is consistent with the ideology of his network.”
“Every action is based on intention”–Islamic maxim
What more can one say about the loony, imbecile world of the “counterjihad,” any and everything, no matter how obscene and absurd confirms a preset conclusion; Islam and Muslims are inherently evil.
As if reading out of the Protocols of the Elders of Mecca the desperate legions of anti-Muslim invective made haste to proliferate a Daily Mail article about the alleged jailhouse conversion of James Holmes and his supposed ex-post-facto justification of the atrocity perpetrated in Aurora, Colorado.
FrontPageMagRag‘s favorite genocidalist Daniel Greenfield ran the story, saying it may be another prisoner going “Mohamedan behind bars.” Those self-proclaimed “Jihad experts/reporters,” Spencer and Geller, found the story too juicy to pass up, claiming Holmes was just acting out his own #Myjihad, with Geller speculating if “it was a recent conversion or was there some knowledge about his leanings before the shooting?”
Interestingly, the Daily Mail article itself notes that Muslim inmates are “not happy” about Holmes trying to link his massacre to Islam. So what you have in effect is an allegedly nutty James Holmes and the Islamophobes agreeing with one another about what is and can possibly be Jihad, and the third party, ACTUAL Muslims telling us that there is no way their religion could possibly have anything to do with Holmes’ horrific actions. Oh, the irony!
One does not even have to wonder whether the media or Islamophobes would react in a similar manner if Holmes converted to Judaism or Christianity and proclaimed to justify his actions through those religions!
In any case it is important to highlight the fact that the report on his “conversion” is unverified and relies on “anonymous” sources.
James Holmes, the alleged Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooter, has reportedly converted to Islam while in jail. Emphasis on reportedly.
Holmes’ rumored religious conversion has been widely rumored, yet scrutinized by some media sources, citing a lack of credible evidence.
The Daily Mail first ran with the story that Holmes converted to Islam in jail and is now a dedicated Muslim who prays five times a day.
The newspaper received the tip from a prison source, who noted Holmes’ beard, in his most recent court appearance, as evidence of his conversion.
“He has brainwashed himself into believing that he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels,” the source said of Holmes.
He now abides by a Muslim diet and studies the Quran, supposedly.
The prison source said other Muslim inmates are not happy, given that “They don’t want their religion to be connected to that awful shooting.”
Questions about Holmes’ conversion to Islam started circulating once the Washington Times published the story, with Salon offering heavy scruntiny.
The site discusses the questionable sourcing, noting the unnamed prison source as a problem, as well as the Daily Mail’s history of false reports.
Salon’s main point was that people just ran the rumor as fact:
“It’s entirely possible that Holmes has converted to Islam, and even that he brainwashed himself into ex-post-facto justifying his killing,” the site says.
Yet while “James Holmes is severely disturbed, by all accounts, and could delude himself into thinking anything,” ties to Islam are far from established.
Salon contends that Islam itself has become the story here:
“If Holmes suddenly became a devout Pentecostal or Hindu in prison, would bloggers be connecting the religion to the shooting in the way they are now?”
Anti-Racist groups have not taken nicely to attempts by the neo-fascist Swedish Defense League (SDL) to assert their anti-Muslim message in the streets of Malmo.Swedes Counter Anti-Muslim Rally
Rejecting of their hate message against Muslims, many Swedes have showed up in the southern city of Malmo to protest against a far-right group, leading to abort the anti-Muslim rally.
“There were angry skirmishes after the anti-racists marched from Möllevångstorget square to the Stortorget square around noon, a lot of people seemed ready for a fight,” said The Local’s Patrick Reilly from the scene.
“They were pushing over barricades, setting off flares and some threw bottles, and went up against the police,” he said.
Rejecting of their hate message against Muslims, many Swedes have showed up in the southern city of Malmo to protest against a far-right group, leading to abort the anti-Muslim rally.
“There was also the odd snowball tossed at police.”
Clashes erupted after hundreds of Swedes gathered to counter a planned rally by the far-right Swedish Defence League (SDL).
Some demonstrators used a Eurovision awning on the square to beat out a rhythm, chanting “No racist on our streets”.
One banner hoisted above the march read “No Breivik Soldiers on our streets,” in reference to far-right Norwegian killer, who killed dozens people in twin attacks in Oslo in 2011.
The SDL rally lured only 20 members.
“The SDL were waving a Swedish flag on their way to the square and gave the counter-demonstrators the finger,” Reilly said.
The SDL is a sister group of the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL) and was set up in 2012.
This organization seems identical to the French organization Generation Identitaire who last year stormed a mosque and occupied it.Anti-Islam Rightists Target German Youth
Seeking a bigger support among German youth, a rightist group is using Facebook, YouTube and other social media websites to spread its racist, anti-Islam message.
“They are clearly racist,” Alexander Häusler, an expert on right-wing extremism at University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, told Deutsche Welle.
“They are making a major affront on Germany’s multicultural society, composed of immigrants,” he said.
“They mostly criticize the alleged Islamization of Germany.”
Häusler was talking about a German right-wing movement, die Identitäre Bewegung (The Identity Movement), which has been gaining attention through its so-called “fun campaigns” recently.
Putting identity, or the alleged German identity, as its fixed point, the movement focuses on spreading its message mostly on the Net, via Facebook and YouTube.
“We are the identity-generation,” the site states, while declaring itself a protector against the threat of Islam.
“100 percent identity – 0 percent racism,” its website states, while calling for “the protection of the [its] continent from infiltration by foreigners, mass immigration and Islamization.”
These posts on the Identity Movement’s homepage, however, revealed a racist agenda.
“Here, they spread scenarios of a racial apocalypse,’” Häusler said.
“The message is, ‘We are the last generation which can avert the risk of the so-called German identity dieing out.”
The movement’s Facebook page has more than 4,000 fans.
Last November, a new study has revealed the right-wing extremism is notably rising in Germany, particularly in the east of the European country.
The study, “The Changing Society: Right-wing Views in Germany 2012”, found that the number of Germans identifying themselves has grown.
The report indicated that 9 percent of Germans have adopted extreme right-wing beliefs, up from 8.2 percent two years ago.
Trying to win public support, the Identity Movement has been portraying itself as modern and funny, boasting that it names social grievances publicly.
“It is a very professional presence, which is very attractive and has an unbelievable number of pop culture references that can be understood by younger people,” Johannes Baldauf of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, said.
Yet, the movement’s racist views appeared in its symbol, manifesto and online posts.
In its ideology, it reaches deep into the barrel of the new right – the known concept is called “ethnopluralism.”
“They are calling for every race, or let’s say ethnic group, to keep to itself. There especially shouldn’t be any mixing,” Baldauf explained.
The Identity Movement’s manifesto, which is also in its elaborately made video, confirms this.
“We are the generation of the ethnic violations, [the generation] of the total failure of coexistence and of the forced mixing of the races,” the video states.
Maintaining a fascist aesthetic in its symbolism, the group’s logo also shows the Greek letter lambda on a yellow background, like one from the 300 Spartan soldiers who wanted to stop the Persians at Thermopylae in the Hollywood film “300.”
The lambda symbol appears again and again on the homepage, the Facebook page and in the web videos.
The movement is trying “to anchor [itself] on the Internet,” Häusler explained.
A text on its site refers to the “ghetto subculture of migrant youth that is affected by violence, hate, primitivity, criminality and Islam.”
The aim of all this is to “spread racism more effectively,” subliminally, said Häusler.
Germany has between 3.8 and 4.3 million Muslims, making up some 5 percent of the total 82 million population, according to government-commissioned studies.
Germans have grown hostile to the Muslim presence recently, with a heated debate on the Muslim immigration into the country.
A recent poll by the Munster University found that Germans view Muslims more negatively than their European neighbors.
In August 2011, Germany’s daily Der Spiegel had warned that the country is becoming intolerant towards its Muslim minority.
According to a 2010 nationwide poll by the research institute Infratest-dimap, more than one third of the respondents would prefer “a Germany without Islam.”
When people are enemies, they tend to dehumanize one another. When people want to make peace, they emphasize their common humanity. I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of bridging the divide through music, food, and art.
A visit to Israel inspired Andrew Roseman to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through a music festival called Man of a Thousand Teas. Some may question whether this is an attempt to normalize the occupation, or argue that it doesn’t do anything to help but I see it in the same vein as the effort of Edward Said and David Barenboim’s West-East Divan Orchestra.The American Student Who’s Planning an Israeli-Palestinian Music Festival
Andrew Roseman, like thousands of American students, visited Israel last year to experience the country’s culture and history. But unlike some young tourists, who spend their days getting drunk and tan in Tel Aviv or secretly pleasuring each other in tents in the desert, the junior from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, embarked on a project to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, at least for a day. Since spending four months in Jerusalem, he’s been working to create a festival (called Man of a Thousand Teas) that would feature musicians from both sides of the Green Line. I haven’t heard of anyone trying anything like that before, so I called Andrew to see how it was going.
VICE: What inspired you to try to organize a festival in Israel?
Andrew Roseman: Well, I was in the process of trying to book a [music] show in Jerusalem and I was talking to my [Palestinian] friends, and I was like, “Hey, I’m going to be playing in Jerusalem in a couple of weeks.” And they couldn’t come, obviously, because people from the Palestinian territories aren’t allowed to just enter Jerusalem without a special pass, and it’s very difficult to get. And on the other side, when I was booking shows in Bethlehem, my Israeli friends said, “Oh, I can’t go because I’m not allowed in Palestinian territory.” After a while, we were like, “You know, it would be kind of sweet if we could start a music festival that would bring together Palestinians and Israelis in a politically neutral area that both Israelis and Palestinians have access to.” There aren’t many places like that, but there are a few and with my friends’ help we were able to find a spot that you don’t need a pass or any sort of form to access—a Bedouin area in the Jerusalem wilderness, basically in the Judean desert. Little by little, it’s coming together, and I’m pretty excited about it.
What’s your perspective on how Palestinian and Israeli youth feel about the conflict between the two sides?
I was there when the most recent Gaza conflict was happening and the rockets were going back and forth. There were a bunch of protests and during one, you had Israelis on one side waving Israeli flags and shouting, “Get Hamas out of Gaza,” and then on the other side you had Palestinians waving Palestinian flags and yelling something—I don’t speak Arabic—about the Intifada. Those are two very different messages. I think young people from this part of this world just kind of grow into their context and they don’t necessarily get many chances to intermingle with each other and actually chill. Most of the people I’ve spoken to have really good intentions—at times, it appears that the issue is too complex and people are dug in too deep for anyone to make any sort of difference—but with that attitude we’ll never get anything done.
Have you got a lineup of bands and artists in mind?
Yeah, we’ve reached out to a bunch of bands. We’re in the process of talking to some booking agents. One artist that we’ve made a lot of progress with is Ben Blackwell—he’s a black Israeli rapper, and he’s got a song, “Israel We Go Hard,” that’s pretty sweet. I’d never heard of him before but he’s got a nice following on YouTube and after listening to his stuff we figured he’d be really cool to get on the bill. We’re also trying to get Shadia Mansour, who is a Palestinian female rapper—she’s unreal, she’s got incredible charisma. One big name is Balkan Beat Box, a pretty famous band from Israel, and we’re hoping to get them to be one of the headliners. Ninet Tayeb is this Israeli singer and she’s so talented and really, really sexy.
What’s the hardest part about trying to put this together?
Right now it’s funding. It’s the most difficult part and it’s so stressful. We’re talking to a bunch of fairly affluent influential people and they seem pretty interested… but they keep trying to make sure the festival will have some sort of political slant—kind of like conditional sponsorship—and we didn’t want to deal with that at all. We’re not trying to establish any political agenda, we just want these people together, listening to the music they like and having a good time with each other. The funding part has been difficult but I think if we all do what needs to be done we can make this happen, because it would be unreal, it would be indescribable. Anyone interested in helping Andrew and his friends out should email firstname.lastname@example.org @HCheadle
First they came for the Muslims…
Cord Jefferson, Gawker
The man who introduced the CIA’s Chief Technology Officer, Ira “Gus” Hunt, at yesterday’s GigaOM Structure:Data conference in New York City thought it would be funny to quip, “If you don’t give a big round of applause for our next speaker, he’s gonna find out and it’s gonna go on your permanent record.” It was supposed to be a little joke, but then Hunt took the stage for his speech on “Big Data,” told everyone that the CIA is now attempting to “collect everything and hang on to it forever,” and suddenly it wasn’t so funny anymore.
Speaking before PowerPoint slides reading things like “It is nearly within our grasp to compute on all human generated information,” Hunt explained very matter-of-factly that it is the CIA’s intention to capture and keep every bit of data citizens now casually and openly share with the world.
“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.” (Hunt added that “forever” was in quotes in that sentence.)
One of the CIA’s goals, said Hunt, is to be able to use its massive data culls to connect people the same way an Excel spreadsheet connects numbers. “We want a tool, say for people … that explains to me how all these people are related in any number of different ways,” he said.
According to the Huffington Post, Hunt also noted that people should be aware they are “walking sensor platforms”:
“You’re already a walking sensor platform,” he said, nothing that mobiles, smartphones and iPads come with cameras, accelerometers, light detectors and geolocation capabilities.
“You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off,” he said. “You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”
Hunt’s speech comes on the heels of the recent announcement that the CIA has inked a $600 million deal with Amazon for cloud computing capabilities over the next decade. Though a CIA spokesperson wouldn’t go into the specifics of the Amazon deal, telling Federal Computer Week “the CIA does not publicly disclose details of our contracts,” Hunt said yesterday that the CIA is interested in “peta-scale” supercomputing. A petabyte is equal to 1,125,899,906,842,624 bytes.
In the final moments of his address, Hunt used about 10 seconds to touch on privacy rights. “What’s happened is that technology in this world is moving faster than government or law can keep up,” he said. “It’s moving faster, I would argue, than you can keep up. You should be asking the question of what are your rights and who owns your data. This is a question that I argue you ought to put on the table.”
Yes, we certainly ought to.
“Amazon on Thursday announced a new cloud computing service that uses Hadoop, a free software framework, to crunch tons of data. The service, called Amazon Elastic MapReduce, is designed for businesses, researchers and analysts trying to conduct data intensive number crunching (statement).” Amazon launches Hadoop data crunching service
German spies accused of racism, Islamophobia
Germany’s security service the Verfassungsschutz is a hornet’s nest of conflict, envy, jealousy and inappropriate insults, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung, citing inside sources.
And they aren’t just innocent office jokes. Employees of the department tasked with observing militant Islamists reportedly throw around deeply offensive, Nazi-affiliated words in private of the kind which would be unthinkable in a public setting.
These range from Herrenrasse, the German for “master race” to Muselmann - originally a German word meaning “Muslim man” later used by the Nazis as a slang word for emaciated death camp inmates who had surrendered to their fate – to Ölauge, a derogatory name for “greasy” dark-eyed foreigners.
In one case currently the subject of an internal investigation, an agency employee is said to have offended co-workers in his office by positioning a doll of a Teutonic Knight with his sword pointing at a miniature mosque, wrote the paper.
The highly secretive intelligence agency declined to comment on the investigation into the doll incident, but the paper reported mixed views among internal sources.
While some insisted the incident was an isolated, one-off occurrence, others told paper the issue of racism was not being dealt with at all within the agency.
Kenan Kolat, head of the Turkish Community in Germany told the paper he believed there was “institutional racism” at work in the agency, even if every individual employee was not themselves racist. Kolat pointed to the lack of diversity among intelligence agents – and described the service as a “purely German institution.”
An agency spokesman denied this, and told the paper German intelligence officials were recruited from many different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, yet declined to give any statistics on the organisation’s ethnic make-up.
This is the latest scandal to hit the Verfassungsschutz, or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an organisation still reeling from accusations that agents shredded vital information relating to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Underground (NSU) terror group, suspected of carrying out nine race-based murders over a ten year period.
Deadly clashes in Burma between Buddhists and Muslims
Burma‘s president has declared a state of emergency after two days of sectarian violence in a central town that has killed at least 20 people.
The the town of Meikhtila remains tense and dangerous and residents are too scared to walk the streets, said Win Htein, a politician from the opposition National League for Democracy.
Fires set to Muslim homes continued to burn as angry Buddhist residents and monks prevented authorities from putting out the blazes, he said.
At least five mosques were set on fire during the violence that started on Wednesday, reportedly triggered by an argument between a Muslim gold shop owner and his Buddhist customers.
A Buddhist monk was among the first killed, inflaming tensions that led a Buddhist mob to rampage through a Muslim neighbourhood.
Meikhtila is about 340 miles (550km) north of the main city of Rangoon with a population of about 100,000 people, of whom about a third are Muslims, according to Win.
He said that before this week’s violence the community had 17 mosques.
It was difficult to determine the extent of destruction in the town because residents were too afraid to walk the streets and were sheltering in monasteries or other locations away from the violence.
“We don’t feel safe and we have now moved inside a monastery,” said Sein Shwe, a shop owner. “The situation is unpredictable and dangerous.”
Anti-Islam vandalism increases in Kandy Sri Lanka. (h/t: msmrishan):
‘Defaming Allah’ In Kandy
In order to hurt the Muslims in Kandy, filthy English wording has been written on the iron doors of a closed shop.
Issuing a report the Centre for Policy Alternatives last week said 65 cases of attacks on religious places of worship between May 2009 and January 2013. Direct attacks have been reported from all provinces of Sri Lanka, making clear that the threat is not restricted to particular areas. Most of the reported incidents were from the Western province (16), followed by the Eastern province (12), the Southern province (11) and the North-Western province (9).
Two weeks ago Mahara mosque also vandalised.
The targeting of Muslims shop owners who sell halal meat continues in Colombo:
An increase in the emergence fresh anti-Muslim posters in the Kandy district has left Muslim community in deep sorrow, Tamil language website Jaffnamuslim.com reports.
The fresh posters whipping up racism such as “Remove slaughterhouse from the Kandy town”, “Kandy will not be allowed to be turned into another Akuressa” and “Don’t purchase things from Muslim shops” have created a fear psychosis among the Muslim people in the area, not knowing what is in store for them.