Calling themselves “Crusaders,” three members of a Kansas militia have been charged with attempting to blow up an apartment complex where Somali Muslim refugees live. The “Crusader” ideology is prevalent among the Islamophobia movement and we have documented this for years.
They called themselves the “Crusaders” and had a clear purpose: launch an attack against Muslims that would lead to a “bloodbath.” With any luck that would help spark a religious war. But their plans were thwarted as three Kansas men were arrested on Friday for planning an attack on a Garden City, Kansas, apartment complex filled with Somali immigrants that is also home to a mosque. They planned to carry out the attack one day after the November election.
“They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a large explosion,”the Department of Justice said.
“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,’ ” according to the criminal complaint.
About 120 people live and worship in the apartment complex they planned to attack.
E&R Haute-Savoie accueillera Sheikh Imran Hosein et Alain Soral le samedi 12 novembre 2016 à 14h à Genève pour une conférence conjointe intitulée “Au-delà de la Pax Americana, l’avenir de l’Europe”.
Entrée 20 € 22 CHF
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Six couples who broke sharia laws on intimacy among those punished as floggings in Indonesian province become more frequent
A young woman screamed in pain as she was caned in front of a jeering crowd in Aceh, Indonesia, the latest person to be punished after being found guilty of breaking the province’s strict Islamic laws.
Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law. People face floggings for a range of offences – from gambling to drinking alcohol and gay sex.Continue reading...
This was the Guardian’s “long read” Wednesday before last, and it explores how education levels are becoming a dividing line in politics, with the better-educated being more likely to vote for broadly liberal or left-wing parties while the less well-educated being more likely to vote rightwards (i.e. Republican in the USA, Tory or UKIP here). This has changed a lot since the early 1980s when the less well-educated were more likely to vote Labour, but that’s because Labour still represented unionised manual workers and degrees were only a possibility for either those from well-off families or those who benefited from selective education.
It mentions that there have been doubts about democracy itself going back to ancient Greek times, where Athens was (for a time) ruled by public meetings of citizens (which did not include women and slaves) and Plato, who envisaged an “aristocratic” state ruled by an élite of “philosopher kings”, condemned it:
For Plato, democracy suffered from the basic defect of putting decision-making in the hands of people who were not competent to decide. Politics was a skill – and most people were simply clueless. Worse, that made them prey for hucksters and demagogues who would promise the earth and get away with it. Democracy was fertile ground for fantasists with a taste for power. If you tell the people that up is down, and the people believe you, then who is going to let them know that they are wrong?
I read the Republic in sixth form and the theory is a bit more complicated than that. Plato did not only believe the masses were “clueless”, he believed that mankind could be divided into people with gold, silver and bronze souls; the first were to be trained to be philosophers, the second were for the army and civil service so as to enforce the rulings of the philosopher class, and the third were the rest of the population whose thoughts were dominated by “base instincts”; this class was allowed to own property, but had to support the two upper classes through their work. He identified five types of régimes, namely ‘aristocracy’ (the rule of philosopher kings), timocracy or timarchy (effectively military rule, as found in ancient Sparta), oligarchy (rule by merchants), democracy (rule by the masses) and tyranny (rule by a lawless dictator).
What this article doesn’t examine is the influence of the mass media in shaping public opinion. (It mentions ‘media’ only once, in regard to Donald Trump, and ‘social media’ two more times, and ‘press’ and ‘papers’ not at all.) Future critiques of modern democracy are surely not going to focus on the school- and college-based education of the populace as much as on where the public got its information from, namely the corporate mass media which prominently contained propaganda, often on the front page (with unbiased reporting reserved for unimportant stories several pages inside the paper, if it is present at all), which encourages mistrust of people who are different, people who can be seen as getting something for nothing, some wealthy or prestigious people (e.g. lawyers, commonly presented as parasites, and academics, commonly presented as thinking they know better than the target audience) but not others, and encourages people towards irrationality and fear on a wide range of issues from drugs to immigration and foreign policy.
I believe it’s irrelevant whether someone has a degree or not; I have a degree in politics and history, but I took that in the 1990s and it wasn’t an in-depth examination of the politics of the time, and of course it could not examine the politics of future times. Schools should teach young people the basics of the British constitution, including the European institutions we belong to such as the Council of Europe and the EU so that people are not easily swayed by misinformation (e.g. linking the European Convention on Human Rights and the Court that rules on it with the EU, when in fact they are part of the Council of Europe). Only a tiny minority who came of age before the 1990s have degrees (including those with professional qualifications, some of which were later re-classified as degrees), and political education is not a mandatory part of any degree other than those related to politics.
It’s hugely insulting, and wrong, to suggest that people without degrees necessarily lack critical awareness or are ‘sheeple’. Neither of my parents had degrees when I was a child, but they were still able to see through media propaganda, most of which was pro-Thatcher and more generally pro-Tory then. Others are more credulous, particularly when what is claimed in a newspaper appears to match what they see or what their friends tell them they see (e.g. immigrants taking jobs or council houses), and people believe that “newspapers full of propaganda” are a thing you find in dictatorships, not democracies, and that newspapers do not simply make things up, which they in fact do, in both details and whole stories as revealed during the Leveson inquiry. And it is often observed that emotion matters more than reason in politics, as if this were a fact of life rather than the consequence of manipulation and propaganda.
The real “education gap” is between those able and willing to think critically, to educate themselves about politics and the issues involved, and those willing to believe propaganda and gossip. There are people with degrees in both groups and those without, although the Right currently fosters and trades on resentment and a sense of persecution among those without. There is no way of identifying who falls into which group without a test which could be manipulated to discriminate against some ethnic or class-based group, so the only way to stop democracy degenerating into tyranny — if not outright tyranny, then certainly the tyranny of the unthinking majority — is to target the corporations which manipulate and fabricate “public opinion” with stiff laws that require the segregation of opinion and fact, especially in prominent parts of newspapers, and punish distortions and untruths, not just personal libels. Policy and politics should not be dictated by what sells papers, as it is obvious that what sells papers is titillation and the confirmation of prejudice.
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From mint mojitos in Birmingham to scented oils in London, Generation M’s entrepreneurs are catering for an affluent group ignored by the big brands
By mid-evening, the Artisan dessert restaurant in Ladypool Road, Birmingham, is crowded. People squash up on its green and pink velvet banquettes to drink mint mojitos or raspberry spice mocktails and sample an array of elaborate cakes and puddings.
Opened last year by Ali Imdad, a Great British Bake Off contestant in 2013, and his business partner Vakas Mohammed, Artisan has become a sought-out destination for couples and friends to meet after dinner. “A lot of Muslims won’t go to a bar or a club, but going out for mocktails and dessert is a good alternative,” said Imdad.Continue reading...
Netanyahu’s words reveal agenda to assert Israeli sovereignty over holy sites.
By Waqas Mirza
As the days of the Obama Administration near their end and cute photo collections and videos of the president's relationship with kids are shared on social media, here is a closer look at some of his administration's policy legacy when it comes to Muslim children [Editor's Note].
Nearly fifteen years of the War on Terror may not have led to any appreciable decline of terrorist groups but they certainly have resulted in the US government coming up with some uniquely comical ideas on how the war should be fought. The State Department once spent millions of dollars for its Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications division to troll Islamic State accounts on Twitter. Earlier this year, the State Department offered a $1.5 million grant to produce a “television drama series” aimed at “countering violent extremism among young people in contemporary Afghan society.”
One of the more recent ideas, however, is more frightening than funny. The FBI's strategy for Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools aims to recruit teachers and school officials to monitor students for signs of radicalization. The criteria for what may constitute radicalization may as well be designed to facilitate racial and religious profiling and quash political dissent. It includes those who criticize US government policies, have qualms about “western corruption,” use “code word or unusual language,” and travel to “suspicious” countries. It also reinforces the mistaken belief that there are reliable indicators which may help predict who becomes a violent extremist.
The FBI's strategy came under immediate fire for instructing teachers to effectively “act as puppets of federal law enforcement” and using the threat of terrorism to “justify a massive surveillance apparatus.” A coalition of 14 civil liberties organizations pointed out to FBI Director James Comey that the Bureau's strategy “perpetuates profiling and negative stereotypes that Arabs, Sikhs, South Asians, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim are prone to engage in extremist violence…”
Muslim students already face abuse and bullying in schools and the FBI's strategy is likely to exacerbate this trend. In a study published last year, the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) reported that 55% of American Muslim students it surveyed admitted being subjected to “some form of bullying based on their religious identity,” a rate that was twice as high as the national average.
In addition to the threat of bullying, the FBI strategy also compromise the trust teachers strive to cultivate with students as well as teachers' attempts to encourage original and creative thinking in students. As Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) warned in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, having teachers participate in the FBI's strategy may “chill relationships with students or, for that matter, undermine a supportive learning environment.”
These concerns are not merely theoretical. The FBI's strategy is modeled after UK's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program known as Prevent. Since the British Parliament passed the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act in 2015, public sector workers such as teachers and doctors have a statutory duty to identify students and patients at risk of violent extremism and report them to Channel, the government's deradicalization program. Some recent reports on Prevent illustrate the problems the FBI's strategy is likely to encounter and the impact it will have on students and teachers.
A survey of 507 social workers carried out by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) found that more than 40% were “unconfident about being able to assess an individual's vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism.” This is no shock since academic studies suggests there are no reliable indicators which can help predict who will become a violent extremist. A subsequent analysis by CAFCASS of 54 family court cases involving radicalization confirmed that “it is not possible to create a profile of children at risk of radicali[z]ation.”
This flawed methodology has resulted in some pernicious effects, as delineated by a recent report by Rights Watch UK. The report assessed that Prevent stigmatizes Muslim students, stifles creativity and free expression, interferes with the right to education, undermines privacy, and may actually promote the very extremism it seeks to curb.
A few examples highlighted by the report provide a snapshot of the effects Prevent has had on students. An eight year-old boy in east London was referred to social services for wearing a shirt with the words, “I want to be like Abu Bakr al-Siddique” (considered to be one of the first converts to Islam and the first Caliph after Muhammad's death). A 17 year-old north London boy was questioned by a “special constable” responsible for Prevent in schools for “handing out leaflets … highlighting the humanitarian emergency and water shortages in Gaza.” He was further questioned by two police officers who informed him they were “only looking for certain types of Muslims.”
In perhaps the most outrageous case, a 16 year-old Hampshire student with special needs was referred to Prevent for borrowing a book on terrorism from the school library. Understandably, the child's mother was infuriated with this arrangement. In an interview with Rights Watch UK, she asked the most obvious question: “If a child isn't allowed to take a book out of a library and read it, what do they have it for? If that book is in a library any student can go and read it, then if he can't read it, who is allowed to read it?”
As is to be expected, Muslim students are disproportionately targeted by school and government officials under Prevent. According to the most recent data, as the report notes, 57.4% of all referrals were Muslims, despite making up just 4.8% of the UK's population.
In no uncertain terms, the report concluded that the UK government needs to abolish Prevent and provide “reparations to those children and families harmed by the strategy.”
There is no reason to believe the results of the FBI's strategy will be any different.
Equally alarming are localized versions of the strategies which are being pursued under the aegis of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Boston's CVE framework, for example, insists on the need for behavioral assessment of students from kindergarten all the way to colleges. According to documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request, students in Montgomery County, Maryland, can been identified as vulnerable to extremism simply for exhibiting signs of stress, alienation, and homesickness.
In the UK, Prevent has already faced resistance from community groups. The National Union of Students attacked the strategy for assuming “all Muslim students are suspect before proving otherwise.” At their annual conference, the National Union of Teachers voted overwhelmingly to pass a motion opposing Prevent.
In the US, too, there is growing opposition to the FBI's strategy, led by civil rights and Muslim groups. The American Federation of Teachers has recently joined the opposition. In an open letter to the FBI Director James Comey, it argued against “[i]ncreased ideological policing and surveillance efforts” which will “have a chilling effect on our schools and on immigrant communities, jeopardizing children's sense of safety and well-being and threatening the security and sense of trust of entire communities.”
Despite the objection of educators, civil liberties groups, and Muslim organizations, the FBI is proceeding with its strategy, subverting the primary functions of schools and turning them into “mini-surveillance states.” By alienating students and treating them as suspects, it is likely to encourage violent extremism rather than challenge it.Waqas Mirza is a writer and journalist focusing on US foreign policy, War on Terror, Islamophobia, surveillance, policing, and development. You can follow him on twitter @waqasahmi.
Southeast Asia is currently witnessing the destruction of the Rohingya Muslim community. This is not the first time in modern history this has happened. The Cham Muslims of Cambodia were slaughtered during the rule of the bloody Khmer Rogue in the 1970s.
The Khmer Rogue killed 500,000 ethnic Cham Muslims, almost 25% of their 2 million victims. For perspective consider that the Cham Muslims were only 1% of Cambodia’s population. Yet, there are still individuals who question whether it amounted to genocide even though there is documented evidence that the Cham were targeted due to their religious beliefs:
The Muslim Cham were rounded up by Khmer Rouge forces, forced to eat pork, and banned from using their traditional language. Qurans were collected and burned.
The current Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, was a Khmer Rogue commander in areas where atrocities against the Cham were committed. Nowadays he proclaims to be a champion of religious diversity though in 2013 he said Muslims were “lucky to live in Cambodia.”
The Rohingya Muslims, a stateless minority who has faced systemic persecution including state-led violence at the hands of the Myanmar government and military authorities for decades are under siege once again. There has never been a meaningful militancy on the part of the Rohingya despite enduring what amounts to a genocide.
The narratives painting Rohingya and Muslims in Myanmar as terrorists, advanced by Buddhist nationalist extremists such as Wirathu may have received a boon through the current attacks on border outposts in the Western Rakhine state of Myanmar where a majority of Rohingya live. Videos that have not been authenticated show men speaking the Rohingya language and calling for “jihad” to liberate themselves from the oppression they face. It is unclear exactly what unfolded and who is responsible but the response by the Myanmar government has been excessive, already 26 Rohingya have been confirmed killed.
Whether, when its shape becomes clearer, it will be revealed to also include some aspects of international terrorism remains to be seen, but the new form of ethno-religious conflict now stalking Rakhine State is unlikely to be vanquished quickly or easily, or without further loss of life.
Those who are at pains to point out that the public at least do not yet know who committed the attacks on three border police stations in northern Rakhine on October 9 – killing nine officers, and allegedly shouting the name “Rohingya” – are correct.
But what we do know is this: Rakhine is witnessing the worst violence it has seen since the 2012 troubles and there are now videos circulating on social media which apparently show armed men calling for jihad in the name of the Rohingya cause – videos that are being reposted by, among other high-profile figures, former information minister U Ye Htut.
In response, the military has launched violent assaults on Rohingya communities around Maungdaw, purportedly targeted as attackers, but which rights groups have said are extra-judicial killings. Yesterday, helicopters were seen at Sittwe Airport. They were there, officials said, to evacuate teachers from Maungdaw, but were clearly armed with rocket launchers.
With conflicts in other parts of the country now proving ongoing military impunity for war crimes and human rights abuses, the potential for death and destruction in Rakhine is manifold.
This is the most-dreaded scenario, feared by all those engaged in finding, and hoping for, a solution to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Rakhine. As of yesterday morning, a tally of state media reports indicated that 43 people – 30 alleged attackers and 13 security personnel – have been killed.
With senior authorities yet to divulge details or alleged affiliation of those accused of the attacks who have been capture alive, speculation has abounded.
Initial allegations by local government officials named the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation as being behind the incidents. The claim prompted widespread debate about whether such a group – last confirmed to have been active in the 1990s, but blamed by the government for a number of smaller-scale attacks on the border in the past two years – is still even in existence in any relation to its initial incarnation.
But the appearance of the two videos, which feature young men calling for jihad in the Rohingya language, has bolstered claims that there is at least some appetite for armed action among some minority Muslims, whatever name their group goes by.
Even if the current situation is brought under control quickly, these videos are not going to be forgotten by those who seek to stir nationalist aggression in this country – radical monk U Wirathu has inundated the internet with gleeful “told you so’s”. Nor can their implication be avoided by those who seek to uphold the rights of the vast majority of Rohingya who have remained peaceful despite suffering longstanding rights abuses.
A Rohingya representative speaking to The Myanmar Times yesterday rejected claims the attacks were drugs-related rather than representing some form of uprising.
Myanmar Border Police on October 11 prepare the flag-draped coffins bearing nine bodies of border guards killed two days earlier.AFP
Nearly 7 million narcotics tablets, with an estimated street value of K14 billion (US$11.1 million), were seized during two raids in Maungdaw last month, leading some to speculate that the attacks on the police bases were some form of reprisal. However, the representative said that restrictions on movement meant large-scale involvement in, or serious profiteering from, the illegal trade would be difficult for people in Rohingya communities.
Abdul Rashid, a Rohingya rights campaigner, confirmed that those who appeared in the jihadist videos spoke the Rohingya language with a Rakhine (rather than Bangladeshi) accent. He added that one man “maybe studied” in Saudi Arabia as he was speaking Arabic, but the rest appeared to be local, based on their speech. None of his contacts in Maungdaw recognised any of those who appeared in the videos, he added.
“Most of them appear to be very young men or even boys. I don’t think they have leadership,” he said, rejecting the involvement of terrorists from other Eastern countries and describing it as a “small-scale” response arising out of “frustration” and deliberately fuelled by those seeking to destablise the current democratically elected government.
Nevertheless, this frustration – created by years of deliberate oppression – was something that needed to be addressed urgently, he said. He added that he had been warning the international community about such a threat and the possibility of such frustrations being used to further others’ agendas for a long time, but they had not taken his concerns seriously.
Yesterday I saw an advert for a free public lecture at the University of Melbourne (won’t be going; bit too far for me to travel) on the subject “Persons with Disabilities: Cure or Accommodate?” (HT: Carly Findlay). Part of the advertising blurb for the event reads:
“Where should scarce governmental resources be channelled: to improving function and finding cures or making reasonable adjustments to ensure persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in society?”
It then says that “it is the voices of people with disabilities themselves that must guide this debate” and three of the speakers have a disability (blindness in two cases, deafness in one); the other two are an audiologist, who runs an institution that fits cochlear implants, and a psychiatrist. Including a panel member with another type of impairment — say, a wheelchair user, or someone with a chronic illness — would make the panel rather more representative of the disabled community.
I’m not familiar with the Australian disability scene beyond a few big names (e.g. Stella Young) or with the five speakers named, so this event could prove to be very positive. However, the synopsis reflects some quite disturbing attitudes towards the matter of disability accommodation. One is that it’s about how to spend “scarce” resources; i.e. if you want accommodations, you will be spending other people’s money or depriving someone else of something. Living in the UK, I remember how the previous government justified cutting benefits and social care that allowed disabled people mobility and dignity (as well as a host of other public services, such as libraries) on the grounds that “the cupboard was bare” after the 2008 crash and the Labour government’s bailouts, yet when it came to repairing damage caused by the 2013/14 floods in parts of the country that had voted for the two coalition parties — when “the effluent hit the affluent” as commentators put it at the time — David Cameron suddenly boasted that “we’re a rich country; we can afford it”. Resources often aren’t as scarce as is made out, and the root of the scarcity is often people’s reluctance to pay their taxes.
The other is that “cure or accommodation” is an either-or, or a choice at all in most cases. For the vast majority of disabled people, it is not a choice; there simply is no ‘cure’, although this term is not even accurate as they are not ill. It has proven that much easier to find ways of eliminating pathogens or growths that cause loss of life or ongoing sickness than to repair or replace body parts that are damaged or missing. The cochlear implant is one important success story, but it cannot remedy all forms of deafness. Bionic eyes (the blind woman on the Melbourne panel has one) are in an early stage of development, but even they would not be able to remedy blindness which is neurological. Corneas can be transplanted, but they can also be rejected. It’s possible, in some cases, to implant electrodes into the spinal cord to allow a paraplegic to stand up, but that’s only a small return of function. Research into a cure for spinal cord injury progresses slowly, and seems to have modest goals in terms of what function it can restore, especially to someone with a high-level injury. The majority of impairments just have to be lived with.
On top of this, not all disabled people want to be cured, or should be expected to take whatever ‘cure’ is presented to them. Some deaf people cannot adjust to a cochlear implant; some blind people have forgotten what seeing is like, what colours and people look like (and may not know, for example, what their spouse looks like). They may have tried an operation to remedy their impairment in the past, perhaps more than once, and found that it failed, and do not want to go through it all again with the risk of having to re-adjust to, say, being blind all over again. The ‘cure’ may well be surgical, requiring a lengthy recovery (and the risks inherent in general anaesthetic), and cause an enormous amount of pain. It may have side effects that are worse than the condition they were meant to remedy. And some purported cures are not cures at all, but ineffective or harmful potions peddled by quacks and con men (bleach and anti-androgens for autism spring to mind). It’s not fair to expect anyone to submit themselves to pain and risk so as to save others some degree of expense, or hassle, or being disturbed by looking at them.
So, the question of “cure or accommodate” does not really arise. If you are called upon to accommodate someone who is disabled by providing some sort of assistive technology, or a modification to a building, or perhaps a member of staff to interpret or otherwise assist someone, or to educate your staff so as to change their behaviour or attitudes regarding disability, you are almost certainly not in a position to cure their impairment. The choice is between accommodation and exclusion. The resources that might be used for this are a fraction of the cost of research into cures, which requires manpower (and highly-paid manpower at that), laboratory time, tests, the upkeep of all the buildings used, and so on, over a period of years, during which many people might have lost out on education or on employment opportunities, or may have spent the time confined in an institution because someone preferred “researching a cure” to facilitating them having a life in the community, and the research might not bear fruit anyway. Research also attracts private funding from trusts and individuals, so it need not take away resources that could be used to benefit disabled people now. Between certain gain in the short, medium and long terms and uncertain long-term gain (accompanied by certain losses for those affected), if it’s really a competition for resources, there’s just no contest.
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Democratic nominee revealed her real views on Syria and Saudi Arabia only behind closed doors.
Judge cites ‘serious procedural impropriety’ in major setback for DfE over handling of Park View school allegations
The high court has thrown out the lifetime bans imposed by the Department for Education on two teachers caught up in the Trojan horse controversy.
The decision is a latest setback for the DfE in its handling of allegations of Islamic influence at Park View secondary school in Birmingham dating back to 2014, and may hinder disciplinary hearings against others still under way.Continue reading...
An existing Muslim congregation seeking a larger building has had to face opposition from a militia group that claims it will be an Isis training ground
A Muslim congregation in central Georgia that wants to build a mosque faces opposition from an armed “3%” militia that has terrorized county officials and smeared the mosque as a training ground for the Islamic State.
The militia’s actions have forced the cancellation of a county meeting meant to discuss the application to build the mosque, a move commissioners blamed on “uncivil threats or intentions [that] must be taken seriously”.Continue reading...