Muhammad Kanaaneh was prevented from speaking on Land Day after violent threats from right-wing groups.
After a veritable social media storm, complaints from students at Brandeis University and a petition that quickly gathered 6,000 signatures, Brandeis has withdrawn its honorary degree offer to extreme Islamophobe, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Questions linger, why did Brandeis include Ayaan in the first place? She is not an “Islam critic” as the New York Times portrays her. Also what evidence is there that she actually has done anything for “women’s rights,” as claimed in Brandeis’ press release?
Following a discussion today between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values. For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these statements earlier.
Commencement is about celebrating and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.
Liberal arts college in Massachusetts says 'we cannot overlook certain statements that are inconsistent with our core values'
A university has reversed a decision to grant an honorary degree to an advocate for Muslim women who has made comments critical of Islam.
Brandeis University said in a statement that Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali would no longer receive the honorary degree, which it had planned to award her at the May 18 commencement.Continue reading...
See the Story Index for a chronological guide to all the stories.
Alice was too nervous to eat, but she made a cheese sandwich with tomato and lettuce for Mr. Saleh and watched him wolf it down. She wondered how long it had been since he'd eaten. She realized with some discomfort that he was probably only a decade older than her. He must have had Muḥammad at a young age.
If Alice had stayed on the path she was on years ago, she might have ended up like Mr. Saleh or worse.
She felt something run down her face and put a hand to her cheek, only to realize it was sweat. The apartment was not warm, but her forehead was beaded with perspiration. Having Mr. Saleh in her home-made her unaccountably nervous.
“I'm going to make the sofa for you to sleep on,” she said. Mr. Saleh only grunted in reply, watching her warily from beneath his brows, the way a sheep might watch a wolf. Why did she feel it was the other way around, for Lord's sake? When she'd seen Mr. Saleh at the terminal, bringing him here had seemed the only option. Now, in the silence of her apartment, she wondered if she had made a mistake.
She laid her softest pillow and heaviest blanket on the sofa. Even in the Mission it could get bone-rattling cold at night.
“Get some rest,” she said. “In the morning I'll take you to work with me. I work with your son, remember? I'm sure he'll be happy to see you. I'd call him now but I don't have his number, and I don't want to bother anyone this late. Does that sound alright?”
“Yes, take me to my son,” Mr. Saleh said.
“Right. In the morning. I'm going to sleep now. If you get hungry just help yourself, there's food in the fridge. And the bathroom is right there, in the hallway.”
Alice retreated to her bedroom, where she changed into sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, then turned out the light, climbed into bed and pulled the blanket up to her neck. After a few minutes she realized that she was biting her nails. She got out of bed and stood in the chilly room, thinking. Her bedroom door did not have a lock. She had a small oak writing desk in the room and with some effort she pushed it across the room and braced it against her door.
Then she removed a small bundle of white sage from a plastic bag, set it in a black soapstone bowl, and lit it with a match. Alice opened the bedroom and bathroom windows as smoke poured from the smoldering sage. She picked up the bowl and walked around the room, fanning the tangy smoke with her hand, letting it drift across her bed, into her private bathroom, and even into the closet. This was a Native American purification ritual she had learned from a Shoshone she one dated. It was supposed to remove negative energy from the home. Alice found that it calmed her and lightened her spirit.
When she felt the room had been thoroughly cleansed, she placed a lid on the bowl. Smoke continued to seep out from beneath the lid for a moment, and Alice cupped her hands around the last of it, waving it across her face and body, cleansing herself of stress and worry.
Satisfied, she returned to bed and fell asleep quickly. She dreamed of a train station the size of a city. The station had multiple levels, some that climbed into the sky and could be reached only by a perilous journey up steep spiral stairs, while other levels existed deep beneath the ground, where it was rumored that cannibals hunted unwary travelers. Alice knew that she must get to Cairo, though she wasn't sure why. Every time she tried to board a train she was told that she had the wrong fare, or the train was too full. She needed a guide, but no one would help. Finally she gave up and simply stood on a wide platform the size of a city square, watching trains come and go in the distance.
Hassan watched Muḥammad ride away into the night. He'd never seen the young man so angry and mistrustful. He couldn't imagine what it was like to have grown up abused and unloved. His own father had been such a loving and compassionate man.
He had a sudden, powerful yearning to see his father again, to talk to him and hear his words. The feeling was so strong it almost brought tears to his eyes. He'd never given his father the respect he deserved in life, but if he could see him now he would fall at his feet and embrace his legs like a toddler.
He had intended to gather his friends and discuss the current situation, and he'd certainly tried, but it hadn't worked out. It was frustrating, but he'd play it by ear until tomorrow.
Considering he was standing in the parking lot of SF General Hospital, he might as well check on Wolf. He walked his bike to the hospital's main entrance, but before he could lock it, his cell phone rang. He slipped it from his thigh pocket and glanced at the screen. It was Dr. Basim. That was fast, he thought.
“Marhaba, Doctor,” he said.
“You should come here,” Dr. Basim said without greeting or preamble. Though his voice was as soft as ever, his tone was grim.
“Did you learn something?”
“Yes. I still have a few calls to make. But we should talk in person.”
“Oh, man,” Hassan said. “Okay. I'll be there by morning, inshā'Allāh.”
He ended the call. This wasn't good. He was tired and his injuries hurt. A six hour drive to Orange County was the last thing he needed. But Dr. Basim was a calm and sober man. If he was alarmed then it must be serious.
He'd ride home – he could manage it with one arm – and brew a thermos full of green tea. He'd toss a change of clothing in his bag and get on the road. The Audi had a full tank of gas, and he certainly had enough travelling cash. He would make only one stop on his way out of town at the storage unit, to retrieve the small black briefcase. Hassan was a fighter, not a strategist. He needed Dr. Basim's advice.
Alice didn't know how long she'd been asleep when a loud banging noise woke her. Someone was shouting. She remembered Mr. Saleh and felt a surge of fear, thinking that the disturbed man was trying to break into her bedroom. But the banging came from farther out in the apartment. It sounded like the front door. Should she call 911?
She would take a quick peek. Moving the desk away from the bedroom door, she opened the door a crack and peeked. Mr. Saleh was banging on the front door and shouting in a foreign language – Arabic, Alice supposed. It looked like he was trying to get out, but he couldn't figure out how to turn the deadbolt.
One thing was obvious. If the man wanted out, she had to let him out. He wasn't a prisoner. She'd let him go and then call Jamilah to get a message to Mo. She opened her bedroom door all the way and stepped into the living room.
“I'll let you out, Mr. Saleh,” she said in her most soothing tone.
Mr. Saleh whirled, his eyes wide. “Where am I?” he demanded. “Why did you bring me here? I want to see my son! I need a doctor.”
Mentally chastising herself from bringing such a clearly unwell man into her home, Alice held her hands out in a placating motion.
“I'm your son's friend,” she said, moving toward the door. “Just let me open the lock.”
As she approached the door, Mr. Saleh's panic seemed to grow. He stared at her in fright, as if he were seeing not a freckled woman in pajamas but a jack-booted policeman, or a worse monster of his own imagining. Alice knew what it was like to lose your hold on reality. When she'd been addicted to meth she had been constantly paranoid, convinced that everyone she loved was plotting her destruction. She'd once hit her then boyfriend/dope partner with an iron because she thought he was a zombie.
Without warning, Mr. Saleh reached into his green backpack and pulled out his folding knife. Opening it, he waved it at Alice. “Let me out,” he demanded. “Now!”
The sight of the knife halted Alice in her tracks. She backed up, intending to retreat to the bathroom and call 911. Mr. Saleh followed, striding quickly.
“Where are you going?” he said. “Why are you leaving?”
Mr. Saleh reached for her, and it seemed to Alice that he intended to grab her. She turned to dash to her bedroom, but it was too late. She felt something strike her in the back and she stumbled, falling to the ground. There was a feeling of pressure in her back, as if an overeager masseuse were digging into her muscles with an elbow. It was a cold, numb feeling. Crawling, looking over her shoulder, she saw a look of horror on Mr. Saleh's face.
We live in a world that in many ways is far worse than Orwell’s 1984. Nowadays our reality is more analogous to Kaka’s, “The Trial.”
We’ve learned what we all knew and suspected: that the use of torture by our government was far worse than previously revealed. If that is not enough, consider the BS we were expected to swallow by such CIA propagandized Hollywood films as “Zero Dark Thirty” that justified the use of torture as leading to “actionable intelligence.”
The question remains: will the 6,000 page report on the Bush-Cheney administration’s torture ever be declassified?So where are the war criminals behind the torture and invasions? Well glibly fly fishing on Snake River or pursuing a new career in portraiture. Judge Throws Out Lawsuit By Families of Those Killed by Drones Because We Should “Trust” Those in Government
A US federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the government by the families of three American citizens killed by drones in Yemen, saying senior officials cannot be held personally responsible for money damages for the act of conducting war.
The families of the three – including Anwar al-Awlaki, a New Mexico-born militant Muslim cleric who had joined al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, as well as his teenage son – sued over their 2011 deaths in US drone strikes, arguing that the killings were illegal.
Judge Rosemary Collyer of the US district court in Washington threw out the case, which had named as defendants the former defence secretary and CIA chief Leon Panetta, the former senior military commander and CIA chief David Petraeus and two other top military commanders.
“The question presented is whether federal officials can be held personally liable for their roles in drone strikes abroad that target and kill U.S. citizens,” Collyer said in her opinion. “The question raises fundamental issues regarding constitutional principles and it is not easy to answer.”
But the judge said she would grant the government’s motion to dismiss the case.
Collyer said the officials named as defendants “must be trusted and expected to act in accordance with the US constitution when they intentionally target a US citizen abroad at the direction of the president and with the concurrence of Congress. They cannot be held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war.”
Awlaki’s US-born son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was 16 years old when he was killed. Also killed was Samir Khan, a naturalised US citizen who had moved to Yemen in 2009 and worked on Inspire, an English-language al-Qaida magazine.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights, both based in New York, represented the families. They had argued that in killing American citizens the government violated fundamental rights under the US constitution to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure.
“This is a deeply troubling decision that treats the government’s allegations as proof while refusing to allow those allegations to be tested in court,” said ACLU lawyer Hina Shamsi. “The court’s view that it cannot provide a remedy for extrajudicial killings when the government claims to be at war, even far from any battlefield, is profoundly at odds with the Constitution.”
Centre for Constitutional Rights lawyer Maria LaHood said the judge “effectively convicted” Anwar al-Awlaki “posthumously based solely on the government’s say-so”. LaHood said the judge also found that the constitutional rights of the son and of Khan “weren’t violated because the government didn’t target them”.
“It seems there’s no remedy if the government intended to kill you, and no remedy if it didn’t. This decision is a true travesty of justice for our constitutional democracy and for all victims of the US government’s unlawful killings,” LaHood said.
Collyer ruled that the families did not have a claim under the Constitution’s fourth amendment guarantee against unreasonable seizures because the government did not seize or restrain the three who were killed. “Unmanned drones are functionally incapable of ‘seizing’ a person; they are designed to kill, not capture,” she wrote.
Collyer wrote that the families had presented a plausible claim that the government violated Awlaki’s due process rights. “Nonetheless the court finds no available remedy under US law for this claim,” the judge wrote.
“In this delicate area of war making national security and foreign relations the judiciary has an exceedingly limited role.”
Allowing claims against individual federal officials in this case “would impermissibly draw the court into the heart of executive and military planning and deliberation”, she wrote. It would “require the court to examine national security policy and the military chain of command as well as operational combat decisions”.
Nasser al-Awlaki, father of Anwar al-Awlaki, said he was disappointed in the American justice system and “like any parent or grandparent would, I want answers from the government when it decides to take life, but all I have got so far is secrecy and a refusal even to explain”.
Good riddance and bravo to Quebec voters!Pauline Marois loses riding then resigns, as Quebec Liberals hand Parti Québécois a stunning defeat
By Graeme Hamilton (National Post)
MONTREAL — She campaigned on a promise to rid the public sector of employees wearing hijabs, but in the end it was Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois who was shown the door by voters Monday — and with a slam.
One year after being chosen party leader, Philippe Couillard led the Quebec Liberals to a resounding majority victory that is sure to prompt serious soul-searching for a separatist PQ dealt one of its worst defeats ever.
With almost all polling stations reporting, the Liberals were elected or leading in 70 ridings, the PQ in 30, the Coalition Avenir Québec in 22 and Québec Solidaire in three. The Liberals had 41% of the popular vote, compared with 26% for the PQ, 23% for the CAQ and 8% for Québec Solidaire. For the PQ, that is its lowest share of the vote since its first election in 1970.
Mr. Couillard, a neurosurgeon who served as health minister under former premier Jean Charest, was elected in his riding of Roberval, a strongly nationalist riding that voted PQ in the last three elections. It is a remarkable rebound for the Liberals, who were defeated 19 months ago amid allegations that they had allowed corruption and collusion to flourish in Quebec.
In his victory speech in Saint-Félicien, Que., Mr. Couillard reached out to minorities who felt targeted by PQ policies.
“We share the values of generosity, compassion, solidarity and equality of men and women with our anglophone fellow citizens who also built Quebec and with our fellow citizens who came from all over the world to write the next chapter in our history with us,” he said.
“I want to tell them that the time of injury is over. Welcome, you are at home here.”
He also said the days of picking fights with Ottawa are finished. “I will act constructively so Quebec is once again a leader in the Canadian federation,” he said.
“Dear friends, the division is over. Reconciliation has arrived.”
For Ms. Marois, 65, the defeat spells the end of a political career stretching back to 1981 when she ran for the first time under René Lévesque. She was defeated in her riding of Charlevoix-Côte-de-Beaupré by Liberal challenger Caroline Simard.
Announcing she would step down as leader, Ms. Marois made a final appeal for sovereignty and for the defence of the French language Monday night. “I remain convinced, profoundly convinced, of one thing: We have everything to gain by making all our decisions ourselves,” she said.
Ms. Marois called the election March 5 after 18 months atop a minority government, confident her pitch to protect Quebec’s identity would be enough to win a majority. But what PQ strategists pictured as their knockout blow, the announcement of media mogul Pierre Karl Péladeau as a star candidate on the campaign’s first weekend, backfired. With his fist raised like a revolutionary, the former Quebecor chief executive announced his commitment “to make Quebec a country” and effectively pummeled his own side.
Mr. Péladeau won his seat in Saint-Jérôme Monday, but what’s left of the PQ caucus won’t be praising his contribution to the campaign. Instead of keeping to her campaign plan to play down the threat of a referendum, Ms. Marois was forced to address questions about independence. Once nicknamed the Concrete Lady for withstanding a 2011 caucus revolt, Ms. Marois crumbled this time. Her musings about a shared currency and customs-free border reinforced suspicions that, if elected with a majority, the PQ would do everything in its power to hold a third referendum.
Mr. Couillard, 56, zeroed in on the PQ’s Achilles heel, saying the party was intent on destroying Canada. “How does removing Quebecers’ Canadian citizenship — because that is what it means — improve their standard of living?” he asked. “The answer: It doesn’t help Quebecers. It is going to harm Quebec.”
Throughout the campaign, Mr. Couillard was frank about his attachment to Canada, saying Canadian citizenship “is the envy of the entire planet.” His heart-on-the-sleeve federalism earned him attacks for being too soft in the defence of Quebec, but he refused to accept the PQ’s portrayal of Quebecers as a people under siege.
“Our identity in Quebec is strong,” he said the day the election was called. “I detest this government that is in the habit of painting us as threatened people, weak people.”
Francois Laplante-Delagrave/AFP/Getty ImagesParti Québécois supporters watch the provicial vote results at a hotel in Montreal, April 7, 2014.
The spectre of a referendum drove voters to the Liberals, and PQ efforts to redirect attention to its charter of Quebec values only exposed the depth of intolerance among some PQ candidates and supporters. The most contentious element of the charter would prohibit all public sector workers from wearing such conspicuous religious symbols as the hijab, turban and kippa. The PQ said the measure is needed to ensure the religious neutrality of the state.
One PQ candidate was dropped for having posted a “F— Islam” message on his Facebook page, while another, Louise Mailloux, was allowed to remain despite having written that rabbis conspire to levy a “kosher tax” on consumers. (Ms. Mailloux was defeated in the Montreal riding of Gouin by Françoise David of Québec Solidaire.)
A week before the vote, Ms. Marois invited writer and charter supporter Janette Bertrand to speak at a major campaign event. Ms. Bertrand said the PQ’s charter was needed because one day rich McGill students, presumably Muslims, might prevent women from swimming in the pool in her condominium building. Ms. Marois defended Ms. Bertrand against accusations of xenophobia, saying she was simply “speaking from her heart.”
The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror – review
By Robin Yassin-Kassab (The Guardian)
Arun Kundnani’s book, vastly more intelligent than the usual “war on terror” verbiage, focuses on the war’s domestic edge in Britain and America. His starting point is this: “Terrorism is not the product of radical politics but a symptom of political impotence.” The antidote therefore seems self-evident: “A strong, active and confident Muslim community enjoying its civic rights to the full.” Yet policy on both sides of the Atlantic has ended by criminalising Muslim opinion, silencing speech and increasing social division. These results may make political violence more, not less, likely.
The assumptions and silences of the counter-radicalisation industry end up telling us far more about particular ideological subsections of Anglo-American culture than they do about the Muslims targeted. The two dominant security approaches to Muslim citizens described by Kundnani – “culturalist” and “reformist” – highlight ideology rather than sociopolitical grievances.
Culturalism’s best-known proponent is Bernard Lewis, Dick Cheney‘s favourite historian, who locates the problem as Islam itself, a totalitarian ideology-culture incompatible with democratic modernity. So Mitt Romney explains the vast divergence between Israeli and Palestinian economies thus: “Culture makes all the difference” – and decades of occupation, ethnic cleansing and war make no difference at all. Writer Christopher Caldwell believes residents of the Paris banlieue rioted in 2005 because they were Muslims (although many weren’t), and not because of unemployment, poor housing and police violence. Perhaps the silliest culturalist intervention was Martin Amis‘s essay “The Second Plane”, where Amis breezily admitted he knew nothing of geopolitics but claimed authority nevertheless from his expertise in “masculinity” – 9/11 was explained by Muslim sexual frustration. Such discourses are part of an influential tradition. In 1950s colonial Kenya, psychiatrist JC Carothers understood the Mau Mau uprising as “not political but psycho‑pathological”.
More charitable than culturalism, reformism identifies the problem as a perversion of Islamic doctrine. With General Petraeus‘s Iraqi “hearts and minds” campaign, reformism came to dominate the post-Rumsfeld Pentagon; what started in counter-insurgency was soon considered as relevant to Bradford as Basra. It involved an accumulation of anthropological “knowledge” through surveillance (David J Kilcullendescribes counter-insurgency as “armed social science”), and it underlay the assumption of Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech that positive recognition of moderate Muslim culture could solve political conflict. Qur’an-reading Tony Blair shared the notion that terrorism’s “root cause” was “a doctrine of fanaticism”.
This focus on doctrine meant the state intervened to promote correct belief. Muslims were categorised as “extremists” or “moderates”, although no link has been proved between extremist ideas and terrorist violence. The clumsy binarism sometimes went further – Salafis were extremist, Sufis were moderate – although most Salafis are quietists and some Sufis fight jihad against America. Those labelled moderate were quickly reclassified if they spoke out on foreign policy.
The emphasis on ideology led to the criminalisation of certain ideologies, and to the new crime of “glorifying terrorism” (as opposed to inciting violence). Increasingly, young Muslims were imprisoned for their reading matter. Thus the more liberal approach ended by assaulting liberal freedoms, and culture was transformed into a battlefield. By turning comparatively new (and by no means universal) values such as gender and sexual equality into icons of superior westernism, “liberalism became a form of identity politics”. (Reformism is heavy with bleakly absurd contradiction. For the sake of cultural sensitivity in Ramadan, hunger-striking Guantánamo prisoners are force-fed only at night.)
In one of several illuminating character sketches, Kundnani shows that the radicalisation of Yemeni-American Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a US drone in 2011, involved no psychological crisis or theological shift (as the reformist literature would have it), but only experience of the war on terror, domestic and external, including his American-inspired arrest and abuse by Yemeni police. The preacher’s newly violent language mirrored not the Qur’an so much as war on terror discourse itself.
This failure to engage with the real roots of violent alienation has ramifications going far beyond security. Both culturalism and reformism neglect what Kundnani calls ”the basic political question thrown up by multiculturalism: how can a common way of life, together with full participation from all parts of society, be created?” Those British Muslims who “ghettoised” didn’t do so by choice but as a result of industrial collapse, discriminatory housing policies and the fear of racist violence. Identity politics was promoted and funded by local government in response to a 1970s radicalism (for instance the Asian Youth Movements, modelled on the Black Panthers), which linked anti-racism to anti-capitalism. Home secretary Willie Whitelaw supported “ethnic” TV programming on the grounds that “if they don’t get some outlet for their activities you are going to run yourself into much more trouble”. Multiculturalism, then, was not a leftist plot but a conservative move bringing together the state and community “uncles” against a much more subversive alternative. And in the last decade, while “anti-terror” resources have flowed into Muslim communities, benefiting the usual gatekeepers and provoking the envy of equally deprived non-Muslim communities, young, alienated Muslims, as likely obsessed by the Illuminati as the caliphate, are deterred from speaking – and being challenged – in public.
Kundnani provides detailed, well‑contextualised accounts of the entrapment of vulnerable African-American Muslims as well as the criminalisation of the (already traumatised) Minnesota Somali community (for its opposition to the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia). Arab-Americans, who had either identified as white or as a “model minority” (patriotic, bourgeois, less troublesome than black people or Latinos), suddenly found those options closing. In comedian Dean Obeidallah’s words, “I go to bed September 10th white, wake up September 11th, I am an Arab.” Anti-Muslim hysteria was whipped up by the media, the entertainment industry, and a state vocabulary that considered pipe bombs “weapons of mass destruction” when used by Muslims. Anti-Muslim violence in America increased by 50% in 2010.
The book closes with discussion of the new European far-right’s embrace of Zionism – it is now Islamphobic rather than antisemitic. In “creeping-shari’a” scaremongering, the tropes of classical antisemitism are clear. Rightists “ascribe to Islam magical powers to secretly control western governments while at the same time [seeing it as] a backward seventh-century ideology whose followers constitute a dangerous underclass”.
In Britain the English Defence League was born; in the US a media-based Islamophobic campaign fed existent conservative movements. Both peddle varieties of the “Eurabia” conspiracy theory, whereby a corrupt European political class has signed the continent over to Muslim domination through immigration, birth rates and multiculturalism. At one extreme, this brand of “anti-terror” politics soon arrives at its own, Anders Breivik-style terrorism.
Arun Kundnani is one of Britain’s best political writers, neither hectoring nor drily academic but compelling and sharply intelligent. The Muslims Are Coming should be widely read, particularly by liberals who consider their own positions unassailable. “Neoconservatism invented the terror war,” Kundnani writes, “but Obama liberalism normalised it, at which point, mainstream journalists stopped asking questions.”
Proposed legislation guarantees more US-Mexico border deaths and huge payouts to Israeli contractors.