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Green MPs warn of growing threat of Islamophobia in Germany

25 December, 2014 - 14:53

Ozcan Mutlu and Belit Onay

“Islamophobia poses a big problem in Germany, like anti-Semitism,” warns Özcan Mutlu [above, left], a representative of the Green Party in the German parliament in Berlin.

Speaking with The Anadolu Agency on Thursday, Mutlu warned that the rising turnout of the demonstrations was of grave concern for the five million Muslims of Germany. Demonstrations in the East German city of Dresden led by the far right group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident have attracted thousands.

“Islamophobia has peaked nowadays in Germany, becoming especially widespread in Europe after the 9/11 terror attacks,” he pointed out.

Mutlu blames German media for failing to adequately cover the threat. “German media has not taken its responsibility of warning the people about Islamophobia so far,” Mutlu said.

“The problem is not the large turnout at these demonstrations, but the fact that they propogate racism and Islamophobia,” Mutlu said. Mutlu pointed out the anomaly that a large number of demonstrators turn out in Dresden, yet the city has a relatively small Muslim population.

Nearly 100,000 Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany employ approximately 400,000 people, according to the Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association. “The demonstrators’ concerns are completely irrelevant, because, the immigrants in Germany do not harm the German economy; on the contrary, they make a contribution to the economy.”

The Green Party has demanded the enhancement of new programs and projects for immigrants, as well as additional financing for them. “But the ruling parties do not agree with us, and they have declined all of our demands,” Mutlu complained.

Mutlu also said that paying more attention to education was essential in eliminating Islamophobia, anti-semitism and anti-immigrant feeling. “We have to teach our children to be aware of racism, and we also have to teach that multiculturalism is rich.”

Lower Saxony Green Party Deputy Belit Onay [above, right] drew attention to the rising number of mosque attacks in Germany, saying that the mosque attackers are driven by Islamophobia. “There is no proof that the organized crime syndicates have committed the attacks,” Onay told AA.

The most recent mosque attack occurred in Dormagen city in the federal state of Northern Rhein-Westphalia on Saturday. Neo-Nazis attacked the Turkish-Islamic Union’s Suleymaniye Mosque by painting swastikas on its walls.

“The mosque attack in Dormagen is unfortunately a common type of attack,” Onay said. “After the 9/11 terror attacks, an average of one mosque attack every two weeks has been carried out in Germany from 2001 to 2011.”

The Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee issued a report in November on the arson attacks targeting the mosques in Germany. The conclusion of the report was that the attacks had become frequent, and that suspects could not be arrested.

The report of the committee has been prepared according to data received from German authorities. The report announced that a total of 297 mosque attacks have been carried out between 2001 and 2011, and 78 mosque attacks between 2012 and 2014. This shows an increase to three attacks per month on average.

Onay also said that the mosque attacks have not been carried out in a single region of Germany, but also have spread country wide. “The rise of Islamophobia is obvious. The right wing parties make use of Islamophobia in their campaigns,” he said.

Onay also said that every mosque attack has not been counted as an Islamophobic or a racist attack by German police. Unless the attackers leave swastikas painted on the wall, or other indications of racist feeling, the police do not treat the crimes as Islamophobic.

“Arson attacks on mosques or attacks in which doors and windows are broken have not been counted as Islamophobic or racist attacks,” he said. “But every attack on synagogues in Germany has been evaluated as anti-Semitic or racist.”

Onay said that his party would take necessary steps by submitting this issue to the German Federal Council in the coming months.

According to a study by a German think tank, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 18.2 percent of Germans support measures to prevent Muslim immigrants coming to Germany. The research, conducted between June and September, gathered the views of 1,915 citizens aged between 16 and 95.

Anadolu Agency, 25 December 2014

Tel Aviv bus driver verbally assaults Arab women wearing hijabs

24 December, 2014 - 23:59

Two female Arab students were insulted and verbally abused Wednesday afternoon by a Dan bus driver for wearing their traditional hijabs. When they got on the bus near Tel Aviv University, the driver reportedly said to them: “What is this disgusting Islamist look? You look like IS.”

Another passenger who was on the bus with them turned to the driver and expressed her shock and dismay. “I told him he should be ashamed of himself”, she told Channel 2 News, “and that his job is to drive people and not to make hurtful comments about how they dress.”

The students themselves did not respond and went to take their seats. When they got off they phoned Dan’s service center to complain, and also reported the incident to the bus conductor at the station by the university.

MK Ahmad Tibi, who exposed this incident over social networks, said: “Every time an Arab woman is insulted because of her hijab I feel like it’s my mother. Hijabs are a traditional and religious symbol and should never be the basis for racist remarks.” MK Yaakov Mergui of Shas condemned this incident and said he is hoping for the driver to be arrested.

Jerusalem Online, 24 December 2014

Update:  See also “Israeli bus driver verbally abuses Muslim female students in Tel Aviv”, WAFA, 25 December 2014

Far-right terrorist Breivik tries to set up fascist network from his prison cell

24 December, 2014 - 23:57

The right-wing extremist who murdered 77 people in 2011 is trying to set up a criminal network of fascists from his prison cell, according to Norwegian authorities.

The country’s correctional services agency, Kriminalomsorgen, says it has intercepted around 220 letters written by Anders Breivik to people who he had never contacted before his imprisonment.

“When we take security considerations around Breivik, it’s communication control that is most central,” Erling Fæste, the deputy director of correctional services for the southern region, told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

“This is where we believe that the danger is greatest, partly because we fear that he using letters to create a network that can commit criminal acts.”

The authorities have now put a stop to Brevik sending out mass mailings in order to stop him from building up contacts. “Breivik has no intention of tying ordinary and healthy friendships. The strategy seems to be plenty sent letter to associate as many contacts as possible,” Kriminalomsorgen said in an explanation of its decision.

The right-winger has previously tried to build a political party while in prison, though he has had no success so far.

Breivik openly admits he is against multiculturalism and his political views are predominantly centred around his Islamophobia.

In a manifesto published around the time of the killings he outlined his opposition to the European Union and his support for a conspiracy theory that the supranational bloc is a project to create “Eurabia” – a super-state encompassing Europe and the Arab world.

In 2011 Breivik murdered 77 teenagers in a massacre on the island of Utøya near Oslo. He said he chose his targets on the basis that they were attending the summer camp of the youth wing of Norway’s centre-left Labour Party.

He was sentenced to 21 years in prison with preventive detention in 2012 for his crimes, the harshest sentence available under Norwegian law.

Independent, 24 December 2014

Michele Bachmann: Obama embraced ‘agenda of Islamic jihad’

24 December, 2014 - 23:47

Michele BachmannOutgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) says President Obama has embraced the “agenda of Islamic jihad” at every turn.

“I have been very surprised, to answer your question, to see the president of the United States, at every turn, cut the legs off of our ally Israel, and in fact embrace and lift up the agenda of Islamic jihad,” she said in an interview released Wednesday with “Washington Watch“, a radio show produced by the socially conservative Family Research Council.

Bachmann criticized the president for writing to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to encourage a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. “This really is a spiritual battle that we’re dealing with,” she added. “And while the president continues to say that this is not about the religion of Islam, I beg to differ.”

Her comments were first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Bachmann said she spoke to Obama at this year’s White House Christmas party and encouraged him to take action against Iran. But she said the president mocked her concerns. “And he laughed at me condescendingly, and he said, ‘Well, Michele, it isn’t that easy. But that’s OK.’ Like patting me on the head, like I didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said.

It’s not the first time Bachmann has made controversial comments about Islam. In 2012, she said that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had ties to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.

Her decision to retire leaves House Republicans without one of their more outspoken conservative voices. She regularly pushed the conference to take a harder line against President Obama, including working with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to seek a vote on legislation to challenge executive action deferring deportations for millions of illegal immigrants.

The Hill, 24 December 2014

Britain still grappling with controversial review of the Muslim Brotherhood

24 December, 2014 - 22:09

Supporters of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood wave Egyptian flags during a rally in protest against the recent violence in Egypt, outside of the Eminonu New mosque in IstanbulDon’t hold your breath if you are waiting to read the British government’s controversial review of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It could be months yet before this sees the light of day – a reflection of difficulties over how to handle an extremely sensitive topic as well as wider confusion about the role of political Islam after the disappointments of the Arab spring.

Downing Street is still refusing to say when or how it will release the review, which was ordered by David Cameron in April amidst accusations that he had bowed to pressure from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – all viscerally hostile to Islamists as well as heavyweight allies and trading partners for the UK. But the word in Whitehall is that it is still not imminent. And if it has not appeared by March it may then be too close for constitutional comfort to May’s general election – which means it might never surface at all.

The project, entrusted to Sir John Jenkins, Britain’s widely-respected ambassador to Riyadh, was to look at the Brotherhood given its role in Egypt until the overthrow of the democratically-elected but hugely unpopular Mohamed Morsi by the army – as well as its Arab and international network. Brotherhood involvement in Britain was examined by Charles Farr, head of security and counter-terrorism at the Home Office. The brief was to examine “the philosophy, activities, impact and influence on UK national interests, at home and abroad, of the Muslim Brotherhood and of government policy towards the organization.”

The twist in this bureaucratic tale is that Jenkins finished the job months ago and the government has been struggling ever since over how to translate his findings into policy recommendations. Nothing has been found to justify the accusation that the Brotherhood is involved in terrorism – something it strenuously denies. So the question remains: what will Cameron say? Its ideology is likely to be criticized, though the most problematic link is with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip and is proscribed as a terrorist organization in Britain, the EU, Israel and US.

Back in the spring there were complaints that the review had been launched in response to lobbying from the Emiratis, whose crown prince, Mohamed Bin Zayed, is described as obsessively anti-Islamist. The new complication is that the UAE has gone further recently, publishing a list of 83 organizations it has banned because of alleged links to terrorism. Awkwardly, these include Islamic Relief, Britain’s biggest Islamic charity, the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Association of Britain and the UK-based Cordoba Foundation – all named alongside the Islamic State (Isis), Boko Haram and al-Qaida, which all boast of a violent jihadi agenda.

Anas Altikriti, who runs the Cordoba Foundation – a think tank devoted to building bridges between Islam and the west – is neither surprised nor upset that the review appears to be in trouble. “I think it’s too embarrassing because there are people in Whitehall who have made promises to business partners and political partners in Abu Dhabi and Riyadh that the UK will come down heavily on the MB. There has been very substantial pressure to come out and do something about it – for example to refuse entry to MB people seeking refuge from Egypt. But the fact is that the Jenkins report came back and said these people are not terrorists.”

The broader context, he argues, is that the British and other western governments are failing to distinguish between different sorts of Islamists, lumping all together and hindering their ability to fight the real extremists. “If we are in a war against Isis then the last thing you do is to ban or attempt to criminalize the closest thing you have to a middle ground. You may hate the Muslim Brotherhood, but they are in a sense semi-democrats. If they had been given the chance, during the time of Morsi, or been allowed a full term, then maybe by the end of it they would have become better democrats. When people accuse Islamists of being non-democrats, my argument is that that’s because they have never been given the chance. Give them the chance and they will be forced to open up and they will be forced to liberalize and sideline their hardliners.”

Eradicating the middle ground, Altikriti warns, means that Muslims may have nowhere to go but the extremes. “Islamists are a safeguard for Britain’s security against the invasion of extremists. We want the British government to see us as part of the solution, not as the problem. It doesn’t look as if that ls going to happen with this report.”

Guardian, 24 December 2014

Hamas is not in fact a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK. It is the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, that is proscribed. As for the European Union, a recent ruling the General Court removed Hamas from the EU’s terrorist blacklist.

President praises Germans on refugees amid rallies

24 December, 2014 - 21:15

PEGIDA (2)

Germany’s president on Wednesday praised his compatriots’ willingness to take in refugees and said he is glad that most people don’t want to “seal Germany off,” a message that comes as growing anti-Islam demonstrations in an eastern city have worried many.

President Joachim Gauck’s Christmas message didn’t mention directly the rallies in Dresden organized by a group calling itself Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA. But he said society “needs its citizens to respect each other and to heed each other, day in, day out.”

Mainstream German politicians have been divided between outright condemnation of the rallies and saying that demonstrators’ concerns should be taken seriously. Immigration has emerged as a contentious topic lately in Germany, partly due to a sharp rise in asylum applications, particularly from Syrians.

Gauck said he wanted to tell those “worried by developments in the world” not to be afraid. “Taking fears seriously does not mean giving in to them,” he said.

He praised Germans’ “great willingness … to take in refugees” and said it was encouraging “that the vast majority of us do not share the views of those who want to seal Germany off.”

PEGIDA’s demonstrations in Dresden, a region that has few immigrants or Muslims, have swelled from a few hundred in October to some 17,500 on Monday. Similar groups elsewhere haven’t mobilized anywhere near as many people, and there have also been large protests against them.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Germans against being duped by far-right rhetoric, while the head of Germany’s main industry lobby group has said immigration is needed to secure prosperity.

Associated Press, 24 December 2014

See also “Islamophobia on the rise in Germany”, Anadolu Agency, 24 December 2014

Islam ‘a pox on civilization’

24 December, 2014 - 20:17

Following the recent decision by Kennesaw City Council in Georgia to allow an Islamic prayer centre to open in a retail centre, a concerned citizen (who doesn’t even live in Kennesaw) has written to the Marietta Daily Journal to express his thoughts on the subject.

DEAR EDITOR:

Reading that the Kennesaw City Council gave permission for a group of Muslims to open a so-called prayer hall was a great disappointment to me. The PC Police won again, and the citizens of Kennesaw lost.

Islam has been a pox on civilization, a pox on humanity, and especially on women and children, for centuries. Islam is a religion of war. Their bible, the Quran, is a book of war. It commands Muslims to make war on Jews and Christians.

History is riddled with their terrorism, and the recent raid in Pakistan, where they just slaughtered 141 humans, including 132 children, is the latest example. Yes, a real prayerful, peace-loving bunch!

We need them here in our county, our state and our nation like we need a plague.

Ed Higginbotham
Mableton

Melbourne Muslim woman Nasrin’s justice ordeal after being attacked twice in two days

24 December, 2014 - 07:08

Nasrin pulled on her long black abaya and pinned her hijab in place. She did it despite knowing that this day, more than ever, her Islamic dress would make her a target.

It was the Tuesday morning after the Sydney siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place and Australia had woken to horror headlines of the death of two hostages. While Nasrin grieved for the victims, she also steeled herself for the worst.

As she left her house in the outer Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, she decided that she would remove the password lock from her mobile, to save her a few seconds if she needed to call police.

Sure enough, the mother-of-three would later dial triple zero after a man allegedly began shouting expletives at her as she travelled into the city to work. More than a week later, the police investigation remains ongoing after a 40-year-old Merlynston man was spoken to and released.

Since October, the IT professional says she has been abused three times by strangers who have taken offence to her Islamic dress.

Two of the episodes took place on the Upfield train line during or shortly after the fatal cafe siege. The other was in October, when Nasrin, who wished to use just her first name, said some politicians were advocating banning the burqa in Australia, fuelling anti-Islamic sentiment.

“The government isn’t doing anything to address these issues and I’m an innocent victim of their ignorant bigoted comments by the parliament members,” she said. “We need to hold people accountable from the top.”

There has recently been a surge in reports of violence and harassment against Australian Muslims. In the six days to Tuesday there were 27 reports made to the Islamophobia Register, including at least three in Victoria.

The register’s spokeswoman, Lydia Shelly, suspects there may be many other cases that have gone unreported. She said the majority of public attacks were against women and often in the presence of children.

Victoria Police confirmed that more Muslim people were reporting public assaults. A spokeswoman said it was concerning to hear that incidents of racism, discrimination and crimes motivated by prejudice were occurring.

“All members of Victoria Police take all incidents of racism, discrimination or vilification based on religion, culture or nationality seriously and will be investigated and met with the full force of the law,” she said.

Yet despite this tough rhetoric, Islamic Council of Victoria executive member Monique Toohey said there remained a “pervasive understanding” within the Muslim community that complaints about abuse would not always be taken seriously.

Ms Toohey said although the top ranks of Victoria Police had been excellent in their attempt to address discrimination, she said the message did not always seem to be filtering down to some front-line officers.

Nasrin has reported all her recent incidents of alleged harassment to police, but said officers had often seemed unwilling to pursue them. It was only this week that she discovered the October case had been closed after calling Victoria Police.

“In the past I have heard other women don’t report all these cases because they think it’s a waste of time talking to the police because they don’t do anything,” she said.

Police are still appealing for information about the most-recent assault, when fellow commuters stood up for Nasrin as she was allegedly abused, forming a protective barricade with a bicycle and shouting down her attacker.

But investigators have decided not to pursue claims Nasrin was targeted by a blonde woman as she travelled home from work in the midst of the hostage siege on Monday last week because they found “no offence detected”.

Nasrin said she was reading her prayer book on the train about 6pm when the professionally-dressed woman with a foreign accent started pushing her with her bag and repeatedly yelling at her to “go to Sydney and pray over there”.

“Her facial expression was just aggressive,” she said. “She told me to go back to the Middle East, even though I was not born there. I told her that I am as much an Australian as her and that you cannot abuse me like this, and you cannot harass me like this.”

Nasrin intends to pursue the two dropped cases despite the decision from police. “You can imagine what it would be like to go through the hassle of reporting an incident to the police only to find out that it will just turn into an ‘information only’ case and not a criminal offence,” she said.

Brisbane Times, 24 December 2014

Australian Defence League head Ralph Cerminara charged after provoking brawl outside mosque

23 December, 2014 - 23:55

Ralph CerminaraThe head of the Australian Defence League is one of three people who have been charged over a brawl near a mosque in Sydney’s west overnight.

Ralph Cerminara and a second member of controversial anti-Islamic group will face court on Tuesday after they were arrested in Lakemba on Monday night and charged with affray. A third man, who is not a member of the league, was also arrested during the brawl and has been charged by police.

Officers were called to Haldon Street in Lakemba about 8.40pm on Monday to break up a fight involving about 10 men. “Police have been told the fight followed derogatory remarks allegedly made by two men towards people attending the mosque,” a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

A male police officer who attempted to break up the brawl suffered a broken shoulder, and is expected to undergo surgery on Tuesday. The three men arrested were initially taken to Canterbury Hospital where they were treated for minor injuries.

They were then taken to Campsie Police Station, where Mr Cerminara and the other Australian Defence League member were charged with affray and behaving in an offensive manner in or near a public place. They were refused police bail to appear in court on Tuesday.

The third man was charged with affray, and was released on police bail to appear in court next year.

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2014

See also “Australian Defence League head Ralph Cerminara charged over brawl in Lakemba, Sydney”, ABC News, 23 December 2014

And “Australian Defence League leader Ralph Cerminara refused bail over Lakemba brawl”, ABC News, 23 December 2014

German business slams growing anti-Islam rallies

23 December, 2014 - 23:29

Ulrich-GrilloA powerful German business leader slammed a growing anti-Islam movement in the country on Tuesday, saying Europe’s top economy needed more immigration to remain competitive and should take in more asylum seekers.

The president of the German Federation of Industry, Ulrich Grillo, said the emergence of the group “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident” or PEGIDA, which has been holding weekly marches, was undermining the country’s interests and values.

“We have long been a land of immigration and we must remain so,” he told German news agency DPA. “As a prosperous country, and also out of Christian love for our fellow man, our country should take in more refugees.”

Grillo blasted the PEGIDA protests, which organisers have billed as a grassroots movement, calling participants “neo-Nazis and xenophobes”. He said the group was trying to harness fears of Islamist terrorism “to smear a whole religion” which he called “unacceptable”.

Grillo’s federation represents the political interests of more than 100,000 companies employing around eight million people.

He said Germany’s rapidly ageing population needed a strong influx of qualified newcomers to support the economy and the social welfare system. “Considering our demographic development, immigration ensures growth and prosperity,” he said.

He urged political leaders to do more to stand up to PEGIDA. “The political class has got to try harder to make citizens see the opportunities and diminish their fears,” he said.

The government’s top official for integration, Aydan Ozoguz, agreed that Berlin could not afford to simply wait for PEGIDA to fade away. “We need to do more to educate people. That takes longer but has a longer-term impact,” she told AFP.

Ozoguz attributed PEGIDA’s rise to everything from “personal fears of slipping living standards to the fear of becoming an ethnic minority to a vague fear of Islam”.

A record 17,500 people joined a PEGIDA march against the “Islamisation” of Germany in the eastern city of Dresden late Monday in the 10th demonstration in as many weeks, with smaller clone groups rallying in three western cities.

About 4,500 people marched in a counter demonstration under the slogan “Dresden Nazi-free”, warning that there was no room for racism and xenophobia in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

Politicians from all major parties have been stunned by the emergence of the right-wing nationalists who vent their anger against what they consider a broken immigration and asylum system.

The movement has emerged at a time when Germany, which has fared better economically than most of its eurozone partners, has become the continent’s top destination for asylum seekers, and the world’s number two destination for migrants after the United States.

PEGIDA said it would not hold a rally next Monday, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, in order to give police guarding the protests a break.

AFP, 23 December 2014

French radio station backs Zemmour

23 December, 2014 - 23:28

Eric Zemmour RTLA leading French radio station said Tuesday it will continue working with polemicist Eric Zemmour despite his controversial comments about Muslims that led to him getting the boot from a TV channel.

“Democracy means accepting and allowing the confrontation of ideas,” RTL radio wrote in a statement, adding that it would never let its editorial decisions to be dictated by others “whatever pressures it may face”.

Zemmour currently appears twice weekly on an RTL current affairs programme and has been working with the station since 2010.

The announcement comes after television news channel iTele said Friday it would cancel a show Zemmour appears on as a commentator following the controversy stirred up by his statements to an Italian newspaper.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera he said Muslims “kept to themselves in the suburbs” and the “French were forced to move out.”

The remarks drew condemnation from civil rights groups, but Zemmour’s forced exit from iTele was also criticised, with Marine Le Pen, the head of the far-right National Front party, calling it “censorship”.

Zemmour was convicted in 2011 for inciting racial hatred after saying “most traffickers are blacks and Arabs”.

AFP, 23 December 2014

Online hate campaign forces garage owner to hit back

23 December, 2014 - 22:47

Boars Head Service StationWigan garage staff have been subjected to a social media hate campaign after being wrongly accused of turning away a customer for wearing a Help for Heroes top.

The Muslim boss of the Boars Head Service Station in Standish today emphatically denied the claim, saying they refused to serve the young customer only because he was unable to provide proof-of-age ID when trying to buy cigarettes.

And police have since supported his version of events saying there is no evidence from film footage of discrimination.

But the allegation about the Help for Heroes top, which was apparently made first on Facebook by the young man’s mother, has led to a torrent of abuse for the owner and his staff. One diatribe accused the staff of being “Taliban supporters” and several called for folk to boycott the business.

The owner, who does not wish to be identified for fear of reprisals, reported the social media comments to the police who have reviewed CCTV footage of the shop encounter.

The young customer went into the garage, which stands at the corner of Wigan Road and Chorley Road, at around 9.50pm last Wednesday evening but was turned away. A short time later a woman put on Facebook that her son had been refused custom because the people serving behind the counter had taken offence at his top which was publicising the charity which raises money for injured soldiers.

One man, who described himself as an ex-soldier, posted he would have taken matters into his own hands if there wasn’t a danger of his getting caught. But he called on people to avoid the filling station, claiming it supported the Taliban and making reference to the outlawed movement’s recent massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Other folk on Facebook also called for customers to shun the garage.

But the distressed owner, who says it was one of his cashiers who served the young man, today said: “We asked for ID because he was buying cigarettes, there was no issue with the shirt. We support a lot of charities. I have run this place for nine or 10 years and never had any problems. Everyone around here knows us.

“I’m going to take action because a lot of what has been posted has been racist, in my opinion, and I have informed the police. It was nothing to do with the shirt – my cashier followed the rules and now it has gone on Facebook and become a big issue. It’s absolutely not right this, it has been made up.”

Speaking from the garage after viewing the video, a police officer told the Evening Post: “I can see nothing to suggest that the customer was the victim of discrimination in the way described on social media.

“The cashier is behind the counter cashing up with his head down when the young man enters. He is wearing a hooded top which has logos and writing on the back but only a very small logo on the front – nothing like the usual Help for Heroes top. He asks a question and the cashier looks up and shakes his head and the customer leaves.

“There is nothing aggressive going on, the encounter is over in a matter of seconds and the cashier only looks up at the very last minute. The customer is also of an age where one would request ID to confirm he is 18 or over to buy cigarettes.

“I have no concerns about anything that transpired in the shop. The Help for Heroes allegation is unfounded as far as we are concerned.”

Wigan Evening Post, 23 December 2014

School brainwashing kids into Islam with vocabulary exercises, angry Florida woman says in viral video

22 December, 2014 - 23:55
Embedded post will show on publish

 

Farmville Central High School in North Carolina is coming under fire for what conservatives believe is an attempt to indoctrinate children into the Muslim faith using Common Core vocabulary exercises.

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes attacked the school on behalf of anonymous parents he spoke to. “What if right after Pearl Harbor our educational system was talking about how great the Japanese emperor was?” one such parent asked. “What if during the Cold War our educational system was telling students how wonderful Russia was?”

The exercises in question are designed to broaden students’ vocabulary while also teaching them about the Islamic faith. For example, the word “mosque” is defined in one sentence, and students are later asked to use the word in a fill-in-the-blank exercise.

In a statement, the Pitt County School District stated that “[t]he course is designed to accompany the world literature text, which emphasizes culture in literature.”

But that was not enough for one friend of a mother of a student at Farmville High, Floridian Dianne Lynn Savage, who posted a video about the assignment on Facebook that went viral over the weekend.

“Can you see my rage?” Savage asked as she read from the vocabulary building exercise. “This is not made up, this isn’t paranoia, this isn’t Islamophobia – this is just fact.”

“You all understand what they’re doing?” she asked. “Bringing in this type of worksheet and this particular lesson, it’s very subliminal. And the fact that you’re using words like, ‘exciting’ and ‘imaginary,’ and that you’re trying to look like it’s a wonderful thing. They’re infiltrating our children’s minds!”

“When was the last time you saw your son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter, come home from public school with a lesson built around God or Jesus Christ?” she asked. “I thought this wasn’t allowed. I thought they didn’t allow religion in public schools.”

“Now, I know that Muslim isn’t a religion,” Savage continued. “But everybody else wants to classify it as a religion, so why is it being allowed in the schools? They are indoctrinating our children again! They are continuing to indoctrinate them! Only now they’re taking it to a whole new level, my friends.”

In a different video featuring Savage’s husband, Darcy, he discussed his views on why he “doesn’t want Muslims here [in America].”

After noting that some Muslims are secular and “probably going skiing on weekends,” he said that he still does “not want them here, because I tell you what – I trust none of them. For one thing, they don’t condemn what’s in the Koran. You are what you’re taught, and you grow up learning this,” he said, holding up a copy of the Koran, “then you are this.”

“This shit is horrible,” he added, “horrible, horrible, horrible stuff. Research Sharia, people! We have never coexisted, we do not coexist now, and we will never coexist – and the more you try to put us together, the more bloodshed that will be out there.”

Raw Story, 22 December 2014

Dresden anti-Islam protests continue to grow

22 December, 2014 - 22:42

PEGIDA Dresden 22.12.14
PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden this evening

Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk reports that PEGIDA’s weekly anti-Islam protests in Dresden continue to increase in size.

This evening’s demonstration, which was the tenth such event, drew an estimated crowd of 17,500, up from 15,000 the previous week. PEGIDA speakers railed against the media, politicians and the supposed imminent Islamisation of Germany, and demanded action against “foreign criminals”. One speaker declared that the behaviour and appearance of Muslim women do not meet the standards expected in Europe.

A counter-protest by Dresden Nazifrei attracted 4,500 anti-racists, fewer than previously – two weeks ago the anti-PEGIDA demonstration drew twice that number. The decline was partly because the city’s other anti-PEGIDA campaign, Dresden für Alle, decided not to support a street protest today and called instead for participation in an interfaith prayer for peace at Dresden’s Kreuzkirche. Jochen Bohl, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony, stated: “We Christians do not see ourselves in danger…. We of course have no fear of Islam in central Germany.”

Elsewhere in Germany, PEGIDA has significantly less backing. In Munich this evening, according to Die Zeit, only a few dozen of their supporters turned out to oppose a 12,000-strong rally against the far right. Addressing the anti-racist demonstrators, SPD mayor Dieter Reiter declared that “in Munich there is room for the refugees who come to us” and the city was “no place to incite fear”.

Anti-PEGIDA protest Dresden 22.12.14
Anti-PEGIDA demonstrators in Dresden

Munich anti-PEGIDA rally
‘Humanity’, ‘Respect’, ‘Diversity’ – banners at anti-racist rally in Munich

Update:  See “Record 17,000 join nationalist march in Germany”, Guardian, 22 December 2014

Jewish students’ organisation sues French magazine for inciting anti-Muslim hatred

22 December, 2014 - 20:07

Valeurs actuelles cover

This is the notorious September 2013 cover of the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles.

As we reported at the time, to its credit the Union des étudiants juifs de France (UEJF) began legal proceedings against the magazine’s editorial director for incitement to racial hatred, on the grounds that the cover “contains an explicit exhortation to commit acts of discrimination or violence … against Muslims”.

The Collectif contre l’Islamophobie en France draws our attention to the fact that the UEJF’s complaint came up in court last week. The UEJF is asking the court to impose a €5000 fine and €1 in symbolic damages. The case will be heard in February.

Éric Zemmour sacked over anti‑Muslim comments

22 December, 2014 - 11:59

Marine Le Pen denounces Zemmour sacking
Front National leader Marine Le Pen denounces Zemmour’s sacking

France has been split down the middle by the sacking of the nation’s favourite – and at the same time most detested – hard-right, Islamophobe misogynist.

Éric Zemmour was dismissed by the 24-hour news channel i-Télé after telling – or seeming to tell – an Italian journalist that France’s estimated five million Muslims should be “deported”  to avoid “chaos and civil war”.

The channel’s decision was approved by anti-racist groups and some left-wing politicians. It was lambasted by senior figures on the right of French politics – who adore Zemmour – but also by some on the left – who detest him – on the basis of his right to free speech.

With the radio station RTL also under pressure to dismiss Zemmour from his twice-weekly commentary slot, the fate of the provocative journalist and author has become the hottest issue in French politics. Zemmour, 56, a Jew of Algerian origin, could therefore be said to have disproved his own pet theory.

His book Le Suicide Français has sold 250,000 copies in the past three months. It claims that France’s core identity has been destroyed by immigration, feminism, homosexuality, Europe, free trade and excessive, unnecessary guilt about the persecution of Jews in the Second World War.

The controversy surrounding the scrapping of Zemmour’s programme on i-Télé suggests that, au contraire, France remains France. In few other countries would the sacking of a political commentator arouse such passions. In few countries, would politicians on both sides of the left-right divide have defended Zemmour’s right to freedom of speech.

The row is also typically French in being partly semantic. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Zemmour said the removal of France’s Muslim population seemed  “unrealistic” but might be necessary to avoid “chaos and civil war”.

The interview went unnoticed until it was picked up and translated by the hard-left French politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon. On his blog, Mr Mélenchon said Zemmour had called for the “deportation” of all French Muslims, many of whom are second or third-generation French citizens.

In France, “deportation” carries dark overtones of the fate of hundreds of thousands of Jews and other French citizens sent to Nazi deathcamps during the war. Zemmour protested that he had never used the word.

The Italian journalist who conducted the interview pointed out that the word “deport” was in his question, as published, not in Zemmour’s reply. The word in Italian – deportare – was the normal word for “repatriate”, he said.

Senior figures in the Socialist-led French government nonetheless questioned whether Zemmour should be allowed to remain in his three slots as a TV and radio commentator on current affairs. They pointed out that he was, in effect, raising the desirability of the forced repatriation of one in 12 of the French population.

Journalists at RTL radio suggested that the author and essayist had finally overstepped the limits of provocation and should be dismissed from his Tuesday and Thursday morning commentary slots. Zemmour complained that he was the victim of a “fantastic manipulation”.

Independent, 22 December 2014

See also “France embroiled in free speech row after Islamophobic TV presenter is sacked for saying Muslims ‘should be deported to prevent civil war'”, Daily Mail, 22 December 2014

Here is the section of the Corriere della Sera interview that featured the word deportare:

Question: Lei allora che cosa suggerisce? Deportare cinque milioni di musulmani francesi?

Eric Zemmour: Lo so, è irrealista, ma la storia è sorprendente. Chi avrebbe detto nel 1940 che un milione di pieds-noirs, ventianni dopo, avrebbero lasciato l’Algeria per rientrare in Francia? O che dopo la guerra 5 o 6 milioni di tedeschi avrebbero lasciato l’Europa centro-orientale dove vivevano da secoli?

Here is the Google translation of the interviewer’s question: “So what you suggest? Deport five million French Muslims?”

And here is the Oxford Italian Dictionary translation of deportare:

Oxford dictionary deportare

Reports and comment from Islamophobia Watch 15‑21 December

22 December, 2014 - 07:46

Reports and comment from Islamophobia Watch 15‑21 December 2014

German mosque vandalized with swastikas and racist graffiti

21 December, 2014 - 23:55

Dormagen nazi graffiti

A half-built mosque in the northwestern German town of Dormagen has been spray painted with swastikas and racist slogans. The act of vandalism comes as anti-Islamic demonstrations continue to grow across Germany.

The perpetrators are reported to have entered the building site late Saturday/early Sunday morning. As well as the symbol associated to Nazis, the vandals also wrote slurs such as “off with you to the concentration camp!”

The attack on the mosque has coincided with the rise of the controversial “anti-Islamization” PEGIDA movement in Germany. The group has been holding demonstrations in cities throughout the country for the past 10 weeks.

Head of Neuss district police, Hans-Jürgen Petrauschke said he was horrified by the racially motivated crime. There is “no place for the spread of xenophobia or the glorification of the Nazi past” in the Rhein-Kreis Neuss area,” he told reporters.

State security from Düsseldorf have begun an investigation into the crime and have also announced an reward of 1,500 euros ($1,833) for information leading to the arrest of the vandals.

Generally, anti-Islamic sentiment has become far more vocal in Germany in recent weeks. Last Monday, in the eastern German city of Dresden, PEGIDA, which loosely translates as “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” held their largest demonstration to date, with over 15,000 people taking to the streets in protest.

Some observers fear that the protests are a sign that xenophobia is becoming increasingly socially acceptable in the country.

Earlier this month, three buildings in the southern German state of Bavaria, which were intended to be used as accommodation for refugees were severely damaged by fire in a suspected arson attack. Racist graffiti was also found on a nearby building, bolstering suspicions that the blazes were deliberately set.

Deutsche Welle, 21 December 2014

Faith leaders stand in solidarity after Central Minnesota Islamic Center attacked

21 December, 2014 - 23:54

Central Minnesota Islamic Center interfaith eventSt. Cloud-area religious leaders said Sunday they stand with the Muslim community after a series of vandalism at the Central Minnesota Islamic Center.

Religious and community members, including members of the Great River Interfaith Partnership, met Sunday at the Islamic center on Fourth Avenue South. In the past month four incidents of vandalism have been reported there.

About 25 community members discussed the issue and looked at the damage done to the center. On Monday, Islamic center officials will meet with Bishop Donald Kettler.

Abdul Kulane organized the meeting and said he wanted to get support from the greater community. “We invited you to give some validity,” Kulane said. “We called you because we know you care.”

St. Cloud police continue to investigate the incidents and have increased patrols in the area. In late November someone broke the front window and community members had their vehicles damaged when they were parked for prayers before sunrise, center spokesman Mohamoud Mohamed said.

About a week later another window was damaged. Early this month another window was shot 10 times with a pellet gun, the damage still visible. The most recent incident was reported Dec. 15 when a window was smashed while two members were inside the mosque.

Mohamed said he does not understand why someone would target a building that is for peaceful praying and gathering. “This building is a symbol of this community,” he said. “The community has no value if it cannot show a symbol of freedom.”

Ahmed Abdi is secretary of the Islamic center. He said he left about 10 minutes before the Dec. 15 incident occurred. He said he is worried about his safety and safety of others who come to the center.

The Rev. Randy Johnson is the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church. He said as a community they have been here before, pointing at incidents in 2007 when a Muslim man was assaulted after leaving a mosque and cartoons put up near Somali-owned businesses in 2009 that depicted the prophet Muhammad.

“We stood with you then,” he said.

He said it’s a small minority that’s causing the damage. “We are not going to allow those voices to speak for our community,” Johnson said.

Through an interpreter, Imam Muhumed Ahmed thanked the community members for meeting Sunday. “Even though the motive of the individuals doing this is not yet known, the pattern is a concern to us to a point where our congregation feared for their own safety,” he said.

The center has plans to install surveillance cameras around the building and is raising the money to do so.

At the end of the meeting Johnson read a statement from the Rev. Steve Cook who is the past president of GRIP.

“We stand in solidarity with our Muslim neighbors and their leaders against this vandalism and we want to clearly say there is no way that this vandalism can be justified in the name of Jesus Christ, or of the Christian faith,” Cook said in the statement.

Anyone with information about the vandalism should contact St. Cloud Police Department at 251-1200, or Tri-County Crime Stoppers at 255-1301, 1-800-255-1301, or visit www.tricountycrimestoppers.org.

St. Cloud Times, 21 December 2014

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