Palestinian families are forced to live in substandard housing.
Another highly disturbing case of FBI entrapment of a mentally ill man.
IN THE VIDEO, Sami Osmakac is tall and gaunt, with jutting cheekbones and a scraggly beard. He sits cross-legged on the maroon carpet of the hotel room, wearing white cotton socks and pants that rise up his legs to reveal his thin, pale ankles. An AK-47 leans against the closet door behind him. What appears to be a suicide vest is strapped to his body. In his right hand is a pistol.
“Recording,” says an unseen man behind the camera.
“This video is to all the Muslim youth and to all the Muslims worldwide,” Osmakac says, looking straight into the lens. “This is a call to the truth. It is the call to help and aid in the party of Allah … and pay him back for every sister that has been raped and every brother that has been tortured and raped.”
The recording goes on for about eight minutes. Osmakac says he’ll avenge the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. He refers to Americans as kuffar, an Arabic term for nonbelievers. “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth,” he says. “Woman for a woman, child for a child.”
Osmakac was 25 years old on January 7, 2012, when he filmed what the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice would later call a “martyrdom video.” He was also broke and struggling with mental illness.
After recording this video in a rundown Days Inn in Tampa, Florida, Osmakac prepared to deliver what he thought was a car bomb to a popular Irish bar. According to the government, Osmakac was a dangerous, lone-wolf terrorist who would have bombed the Tampa bar, then headed to a local casino where he would have taken hostages, before finally detonating his suicide vest once police arrived.
But if Osmakac was a terrorist, he was only one in his troubled mind and in the minds of ambitious federal agents. The government could not provide any evidence that he had connections to international terrorists. He didn’t have his own weapons. He didn’t even have enough money to replace the dead battery in his beat-up, green 1994 Honda Accord.
Osmakac was the target of an elaborately orchestrated FBI sting that involved a paid informant, as well as FBI agents and support staff working on the setup for more than three months. The FBI provided all of the weapons seen in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. The bureau also gave Osmakac the car bomb he allegedly planned to detonate, and even money for a taxi so he could get to where the FBI needed him to go. Osmakac was a deeply disturbed young man, according to several of the psychiatrists and psychologists who examined him before trial. He became a “terrorist” only after the FBI provided the means, opportunity and final prodding necessary to make him one.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FBI has arrested dozens of young men like Osmakac in controversial counterterrorism stings. One recent case involved a rudderless 20-year-old in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Christopher Cornell, who conspired with an FBI informant — seeking “favorable treatment” for his own “criminal exposure” — in a harebrained plot to build pipe bombs and attack Capitol Hill. And just last month, on February 25, the FBI arrested and charged two Brooklyn men for plotting, with the aid of a paid informant, to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. The likelihood that the men would have stepped foot in Syria of their own accord seems low; only after they met the informant, who helped with travel applications and other hurdles, did their planning take shape.
Informant-led sting operations are central to the FBI’s counterterrorism program. Of 508 defendants prosecuted in federal terrorism-related cases in the decade after 9/11, 243 were involved with an FBI informant, while 158 were the targets of sting operations. Of those cases, an informant or FBI undercover operative led 49 defendants in their terrorism plots, similar to the way Osmakac was led in his.
In these cases, the FBI says paid informants and undercover agents are foiling attacks before they occur. But the evidence suggests — and a recent Human Rights Watch report on the subject illustrates — that the FBI isn’t always nabbing would-be terrorists so much as setting up mentally ill or economically desperate people to commit crimes they could never have accomplished on their own.
At least in Osmakac’s case, FBI agents seem to agree with that criticism, though they never intended for that admission to become public. In the Osmakac sting, the undercover FBI agent went by the pseudonym “Amir Jones.” He’s the guy behind the camera in Osmakac’s martyrdom video. Amir, posing as a dealer who could provide weapons, wore a hidden recording device throughout the sting.
Wu-Tang Clan rapper explains the inspiration for his track “PLO Style.”
Pamela Geller has mostly shriveled into irrelevance. Occasionally she bellows for attention by trying to top her last fit of crazy. Her most recent desperate plea for attention has her taking aim at the venerable Jon Stewart, describing him as “the most disgusting Jew on the planet.”
Wow. Geller sounds like an anti-Semite.
An anti-Muslim conservative activist turned her attention to Jon Stewart and the generation he helped influence in an angry, poo-flinging column.
Pam Gellar suggested the Millennial Generation adopt as its symbol the smiling “poo” emoticon to symbolize what she believes is America’s moral decay.
She said in a column published Monday at World Net Daily that public schools had produced “goose-steppers like the Hitler Youth” who were violently imposing their “leftist/Islamic agenda.”
“Intellectually, young Americans are the most docile conformists, no matter how vocally and self-righteously they declare themselves free,” Gellar said.
She said American culture was “ugly as poo,” filled with gory television shows and violent, misogynist music – except for Pharrell’s upbeat hit, “Happy,” which she complained was used to protest police brutality during an Oscars performance.
“Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy,” Gellar quoted from John Galt’s speech in Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” but she doesn’t recognize that quality in American culture.
“The left has worked so hard to make us miserable, and it has succeeded,” she sniffed.
“American traitor Edward Snowden got an Oscar; American hero Chris Kyle got the middle finger,” Gellar said. “Even the traitorous far-left journalist Glenn Greenwald got an Oscars shout-out. Of course Hollywood would reward vicious traitors. There was no way the Hollywood establishment was going to give an Oscar to Clint Eastwood after he so delightfully skewered Obama’s empty chair. And their disdain for Americanism and the military is infused in everything they churn out.”
She singled out “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart as particularly disdainful of America, after he mocked the standing ovation given Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his speech in Congress as the “longest blowjob a Jewish man has ever received.”
Gellar said Stewart should be given the “Most Disgusting Jew on the Planet Award.”
She continued, describing Stewart as a “vicious traitor, smug and self-righteous, (who) has long been working for the other side under the guise of comedy. Vile. Jon Stewart defines self-loathing Jew. But that’s not enough. He means to take us down with him.”
I first started calling myself a “moderate Muslim” in 1989 in the aftermath of the Salman Rushdie affair. Watching bearded men in Bradford burning copies of The Satanic Verses I wanted to signal that I was not like them, that I believed in free speech and tolerance and being reasonable and civil, and that I did not see a contradiction in living within the value structures and laws of this country and being Muslim.
The claim that most Muslims are moderate is rarely challenged, which is why I have spent the last month travelling around the country talking to ordinary Muslims about the word. I anticipated disagreement on what defined moderate; what I did not expect was universal hostility to the very phrase and yet everywhere I went the message was the same: don’t call us moderate.
It was surprising to find a term that I had always assumed was favourable and benign being so roundly condemnedContinue reading...
Yonas Frike, who attends a mosque where at least nine of its members have been barred from flying, says the US no-fly list is being used to intimidate American Muslims into spying on behalf of US authorities
When Yonas Fikre stepped off a luxury private jet at Portland airport last month, the only passenger on a $200,000 flight from Sweden, he braced for the worst.
Would the FBI be waiting? That would mean more interrogation, maybe arrest. But he told himself that whatever happened it could hardly be as bad as the months of torture he endured in a foreign jail before years of exile in Scandinavia.
I refused to answer questions. That’s when the beating started
You want to believe it’s not true, that some employee made a mistakeContinue reading...
Most Muslims polled for large-scale community study say terror groups such as Isis distort real meaning of Islam
Muslim Australians believe overwhelmingly that they are unfairly targeted by counter-terrorism laws but say terrorist groups distort the true meaning of Islam, a survey of community attitudes has revealed.
Around one in five of the 800 Muslims polled believed that terrorist groups sometimes have legitimate grievances, the survey found, hinting at the delicate task Australian community leaders face in countering the propaganda war waged by groups such as Islamic State.Continue reading...
Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara met with Swedish-German millionaire Patrik Brinkmann who has ties with German neo-Nazi groups in Berlin over the weekend,Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Brinkmann, who is trying to establish a far-right anti-Islamic party in Germany claims he is not an anti-Semite, however his previous close contacts with the German neo-Nazi party (NPD) and his past membership in another neo-Nazi party raise questions regarding his ideology.
Brinkmann, 44, made his fortune in the Swedish real estate business in the 1980s before becoming mixed in tax problems in his home country. As legal battles were going on he used the majority of his finances for the establishment of two research foundations which became closely affiliated with far-right and neo-Nazi elements in Germany.
The millionaire later began supporting the Pro NRW movement, Germany’s far-right and anti-Islamic party. He declared he fears that Sharia law will be introduced in the country and has pledged to establish a strong German right-wing party. He left the party last year in protest of its anti-Semitism, but resumed membership earlier this year. He now heads the party’s Berlin branch.
Brinkman visited Israel several months ago where he met Kara and announced his intention to promote one of his foundations in Israel. He met the deputy minister again in Berlin over the weekend as part of Kara’s private visit to the city’s World Culture Festival. Several months ago, Kara met with Austrian Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache who was once active in neo-Nazi groups.
Israel’s embassies in Berlin and Vienna have warned against such contacts. “Even if this is an alleged attempt to create an anti-Islamic European front, some of these elements seek to obtain an Israeli seal of approval without altering their anti-Semitic views,” an Israeli state official said.
The deputy minister said he was unaware of Brinkmann’s problematic connections with Germany’s neo-Nazi far-right movement, claiming this was “irrelevant.”
See also Ayoob Kara’s meeting last month with Filip Dewinter of the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang.
Muslim women in New Zealand want to lift the “veil of ignorance” surrounding the way they dress. They say women who choose to cover their faces do so out of personal choice, with one comparing it to the veils worn by nuns.
About 60 women gathered at Auckland University on Friday night to discuss “Hijab in the West”, organised by the Young Muslim Women’s Association to discuss the Muslim headscarf and veil.
The women-only meeting was organised before it was revealed last week that a bus driver refused entry to a woman in a veil in May. The Saudi Arabian student was left crying on an Auckland street when the bus driver refused to let her board because of her veil. In another incident two days earlier, a driver for the same company, NZ Bus, told another woman to remove her veil.
For an example of the ignorance Muslim women in New Zealand are up against see here.
‘Power users’ need to shut up (from OSNews)
This article links to one at iMore, in which someone who calls himself a ‘power user’ but says he hates the term, tells ‘spec monkeys’ to shut up about the lack of external ports on the new MacBook (which only has a single USB-C port, which has to be used for charging and connecting every external device):
The thing that spec monkeys need to remember is that most people don’t care about what they care about. Most people buying new computers aren’t interest in how many cores a CPU has or how many GB of RAM or storage it has. Very few of the people I sell computers to have more than a passing interest. They want to know what the computer can do. What problems it solves for them.
From that perspective, the MacBook is already a success: It provides an up to date, modern OS X Yosemite user experience. It emphasizes wireless connectivity through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth — something many consumers already have ample experience with on their iPhones and iPads. It’s loaded with the software most users need to get started: Everything from a web browser to email, data management apps for contacts, calendars and so on. And it’s well-integrated into an ecosystem millions of iPhone and iPad users already depend on to store their data and make it available in the cloud. iCloud, more specifically.
The OSNews article goes on to compare this sentiment to those who criticise the latest Samsung Galaxy phones (the S6 and S6 Edge) for lacking a SD card slot, using the name logic that “less than 0.1% of people care”. Just because the majority don’t care, it doesn’t mean someone who cares is not right to do so.
Admittedly, all my smartphones since about 2012 have had no SD card slots and only the first Nexus I bought (the Galaxy Nexus) had a removable back and battery. All of the others rely on the “hold the Power button in for 10 seconds” way of forcing a reboot, and they’ve all worked, but there might come a time when a phone’s firmware is so buggy that it doesn’t work, where a battery pop-out might have done. As for the SD card slot, it’s not a feature I’ve missed since moving to Nexus (and more recently iPhone) as all of those devices had plenty of internal storage, while early Androids which had only megabytes, rather than gigabytes, of storage would fill up pretty quickly. It’s useful to be able to take the SD card out and replace it, or to transfer files physically to another device, especially if you don’t have a USB lead handy. The lack of an SD card slot has always been cited as a major disadvantage of both Nexus and iPhone, even if I’ve never missed it. Perhaps it’s going out of favour, as the cards are, let’s face it, easy to lose.
Slimming down a device does not always increase its portability. All of Apple’s Mac laptops, except the one I have (the 13-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro) nowadays rely mostly on USB, wifi and proprietary Apple connectors. They do not have, for example, an Ethernet port or a built-in optical drive. This means that if you want to watch a DVD on your laptop, you’ve got to buy, and carry, that extra drive, but of course Apple assume that you get all your music from the iTrunes store and your videos from some other online store, because of course we all have limitless broadband, don’t we. That also means that if your Mac is affected by the long-standing wi-fi bug in the latest Mac OS (Yosemite), which causes the wifi to constantly cut out or go slow after a few minutes of being connected, you don’t have connectivity, or you could be in for a very long download, unless you want to plug in that extra Thunderbolt dock, which is yet another thing to carry round when the whole point of slimming down and eliminating ports is to increase portability.
The new MacBook doesn’t even have Thunderbolt; it just has one USB-C port which connects to one of Apple’s external USB duplicators (yet another thing to carry around) which themselves only have at most one standard USB port on them (they also have a charging point and a VGA or HDMI display port), and you’ll need one of those to connect your iPhone, so besides the cost of the device (at least £1,049), these port duplicators are going to be a money-spinner for Apple (at least in the short term; as it’s an open standard, cheaper duplicators will be available before very long). One advantage of USB-C over the existing Mac power connectors is that, like with a smartphone, you could be able to plug in an external battery pack, but guess what? Yet another thing to carry around.
As I’ve always said, I’m not going to be any tech company’s fanboy. Not Apple’s, not Google’s and not Canonical’s or any other Linux development company’s either. I mainly use Apple devices now, but I’m not going to breathe in the awesome and “just shut up” when a product obviously lacks important features, just because the average new user doesn’t need them — if they never used them, how would they know how what advantages they offer? It’s significant that Apple haven’t deleted the non-Retina MacBook Pro, because they clearly recognise that some people need a traditional laptop in one box which can run other operating systems and connect a wide range of peripherals easily, rather than having to rely on external drives and port duplicators. And since when did knowing what an ethernet port is, from years of experience in using, maintaining, and developing for a range of types of computer, make you a monkey?
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What is excellence without exposure?
While the devout Muslim wakes up and goes to bed striving for rewards bestowed by none other than Allah , the world in which we live pushes us to pursue awards made and distributed by man.
Our best entertainers validate their performances with Grammys, Emmys, Tonys and Oscars. Our most talented writers build legacies by winning Pulitzers and making bestseller lists. Our top students vie for scholarships, degrees and spots on the honor roll. Our athletes? They cannot be labeled “great” without a sufficient collection of trophies and title rings, championship belts and medals, Hall of Fame plaques and stadium statues.
These markers of success cannot be earned without an individual putting their talents on display to be recorded, scored, judged and voted upon. These symbols of excellence cannot be earned without exposure.
Islam doesn't work like that.
For starters, there is no talent requirement in this religion. With dedication, consistency, generosity, faith and remembrance of Allah , anyone can be an excellent Muslim. And even with their trophy case empty and Twitter followers few, that excellence will be recognized on the Day of Judgment by the only judge that matters, insha'Allah.
In sports, excellence without exposure is rare.
Because sports is considered one of this world's last true meritocracies, because the sports industry circulates billions of dollars, and because sports is such a globally popular form of entertainment, it's fair to assume that stardom's spotlight will find deserving athletes in all corners of the globe no matter how obscure. If there is a better basketball player on the planet than LeBron James, it seems obvious he would've already been discovered and would already be in the NBA. If there is a faster woman than reigning Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, we believe she'd already be on the elite track circuit and not sprinting somewhere in anonymity.
But what if there are elite athletes who are staying out of the spotlight by choice? Athletes who could compete for titles and trophies with the best in the world, but have chosen to stay away from the big stage?
Ahmed Arifi is one of those athletes.
The 30-year-old information technology professional lives in Toronto, Canada, where in his spare time he is an active bodybuilder and runs MuslimBodybuilding.com, an online community portal. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing around 200 pounds in peak condition, his physique wouldn't be out of place on a stage in competition with bodybuilders in his weight class.
But Arifi is a Muslim — a revert from the Balkans who describes himself as part Croatian, Hungarian, Serbian-Montenegrin and Kosovar-Albanian — and due to his religious beliefs, becoming an actual competitor in his favorite sport is not an option. Arifi trains, eats and logs his progress with the same borderline obsessive diligence and discipline of a professional bodybuilder, but he does not step foot on stage. He is all practice, no play.
But why refuse the exposure when you're achieving the excellence?
Because, Arifi says, although building the body is a pursuit all Muslims should explore, being a competitive bodybuilder — i.e., exposing just about every inch of the body short of the private parts to be judged and scored, often in mixed-gender settings — goes against the principles of Islam.
“While competitive bodybuilders are inspirational in what they achieve through their hard work and basically are walking anatomy charts or walking giants — as a Muslim I have to draw a line in partaking in something like this personally,” Arifi says.
“A few years back … people asked me if I was going to compete. It felt tempting but it is not halal,” he adds. “I know many Muslims who compete and are successful at it and they are great guys, but it is clear that mixing on stage with the opposite gender and being stared at by both genders while wearing competition underwear is unacceptable Islamically,” he says.
While Arifi does not name any names, competitive Muslim bodybuilders are not hard to find.
Zack “King” Khan is one of the ton of bodybuilders around the world who competes while continuing to practice Islam.
In a 2013 profile in the UK's Daily Mail, Khan was called Britain's first Muslim professional bodybuilder. The 34-year-old, who captured the 2009 International Federation of Body Builders UK British Championship, stands 6-foot-1 and competes at 280-plus pounds of absurdly massive and cut muscles.
In that Daily Mail profile, Khan said he never misses Friday prayer and observes the Ramadan fast even though his job requires him to travel constantly and stick to a diet of 5,000 calories per day. During Islam's holiest month, Khan said he consumes his 5,000 daily calories in the acceptable window in which fasting Muslims can eat.
“Adapting my profession for my religion is something which has just become second nature to me now,” Khan was quoted.
There are a lot of Muslims involved in competitive bodybuilding. One of the most prominent is Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, a 300-pound Egyptian who many predict will someday win the coveted Mr. Olympia crown — bodybuilding's version of a Super Bowl trophy and Olympic gold medal wrapped in one. (The winner, in fact, is presented with a trophy and a medal, not to mention a big payday and a wealth of sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.)
The men's division at the World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships has been dominated by athletes from Muslim-majority countries in recent years: Mohamed Zakaria (Egypt) won the title in 2013, salah Abufanas (Libya) in 2012, Sami Al-Haddad (Bahrain) in 2011, Muhammad Touri (Morocco) in 2010, and Ali Tabrizi (Iran) claimed the prize in 2009, 2008 and 2006. The WABC has also been hosted by Muslim-majority countries several times, including Morocco, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Bahrain in recent years. And among the 180-plus countries that have IFBB-recognized national bodybuilding federations, Muslim-majority countries like Iran, Kosovo, Oman, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are on the list.
Halal or haram, it is clear that competitive bodybuilding has found a place in the Muslim world. The sport's intrigue and attraction is certainly understandable.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood actor and bodybuilding legend, perhaps put it best during his cameo appearance in the 2013 documentary Generation Iron.
“Bodybuilding falls into this unique category of being a sport, being entertainment, being a way of life and being also art,” Schwarzenegger said.
Even without the competition element, however, there is plenty for a Muslim to dislike about bodybuilding: a (deserved or not) pervading culture of steroid and performance-enhancing drug use, a time and lifestyle commitment so demanding it may distract from prayer and reading the Qur'an, near-nudity in public and mixed-gender settings. And on top of that, anybody who spends hours in the gym and in front of a mirror trying to achieve the perfect physical form must be suffering from a bad case of vanity, right?
“Bodybuilders by definition — most of them will tell you — are very self-centered and selfish,” pro bodybuilder Branch Warren said in Generation Iron. “Even if you're not that type of person, you become that type of person, because you never get away from it.”
At the same time, there are plenty of positives about bodybuilding: health and fitness benefits, discipline, building physical strength and developing the mental fortitude to continually test yourself against self-imposed barriers.
“The aspect of pushing yourself physically and challenging yourself is still improving yourself. It does not have to be viewed as a vain pursuit,” Arifi says. “And there is a hadith which says Allah loves beauty, and that pride is looking down upon others. So there is nothing wrong in wanting to be beautiful or handsome, taking care of ourselves and our health. As long as it does not cross certain limits.”
There are some Muslims like Arifi who cannot reconcile Islamic modesty with on-stage showboating and borderline strip-teasing. And there are others, like Khan and Elssbiay, who have found bodybuilding competition acceptable and aligned with Islam.
Whether or not bodybuilding is for you, the devout Muslim, ultimately depends on your interpretation of Islam. The same diverse ranges of opinion and personal philosophies on bodybuilding in the Muslim community can be found with many things, including music, fashion, marriage, parenting, how we conduct ourselves at work, even how we wash ourselves before prayer.
I'm not a bodybuilder. When I was a kid I wanted to look like WWE wrestlers like Ultimate Warrior and The Rock, but today it would require major lifestyle and attitude changes to dedicate even half as much time to building that type of body as someone like Arifi has already done.
When debating internally if I'd find it acceptable to pay off all that hard work with pose-downs, spray-on skin bronzer and tiny underwear, I'm drawn to another hadith:
“I heard the Messenger of Allah say, 'That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful…”
My advice: Embrace a healthy and fit lifestyle. Eat right. Go to the gym or work out at home. Strive to sculpt and maintain a beautiful and strong body.
Achieve excellence. Don't worry about the exposure.
The post Muscle Matters: Does Bodybuilding Have A Place In Islam? appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
The Clarion Project’s (aka Clarion Fund) so-called “national security analyst” Ryan Mauro makes regular appearances on Fox News where he hypes up the threat of “Islamic terrorism” in the USA.
Mauro has recently appeared on Fox several times where he has argued that ‘Muslim patrols’ were a growing security concern for the United States, discussed the possibility of an anti-American alliance in the Middle East with Syrian Jihadists, and hyped fears that Somali refugees in the United States were becoming ‘homegrown’ terrorists.
In mid-January of this year, Mauro was again on Fox, this time “The O’Reilly Factor” where he produced a map claiming 20 municipalities in the US are hotbeds of “radical Muslim” organizations.
This, according to the Chicago Tribune, got the attention of Oak Brook, a Chicago area suburb, since to its surprise it was included on the “radical” map. (h/t: KJ)
The Tribune article doesn’t note any of the points Media Matters reported about the dubious character of the Clarion Project/Fund or Ryan Mauro.
Ryan Mauro is the national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a group that bills itself as “a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the threat of Islamic extremism and provides a platform for voices of moderation and tolerance within the Muslim community.”
In reality, Clarion Project/Fund is a Zionist organization funded by the extremist Israeli settler-colonial organization Aish HaTorah and was behind the distribution of the vile Islamophobic movie, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against The West.
Its supposed claim to provide “a platform for voices of moderation and tolerance within the Muslim community” really translates to supporting those former or fringe Muslims, such as Zuhdi Jasser, who agree with Clarion Fund’s pro-Zionist and Islamophobic stances and policies.
Oak Brook police and administration fact checked Mauro’s claims about their town and asked him and the Clarion Project to substantiate and correct their misleading claims, which in the usual manner of Islamophobes and bigots they did not.
Mauro was a guest on a segment of “The O’Reilly Factor,” during which he responded to a request to pinpoint five dangerous situations of Islamic extremists in the United States.
While Oak Brook was not mentioned during the segment, it was listed on the map, as host Bill O’Reilly commented, “All of these have radical mosques or operations in all of those towns.”
Oak Brook Trustee Gerald Wolin emailed fellow trustees and some village staff about the segment.
Village Manager Rick Ginex emailed trustees a few days later, notifying them that Kruger was looking into whether there were any Muslim organizations in Oak Brook.
“The village president and manager contacted me about concerns about it,” Kruger said. “We started looking at any organization with any kind of connections and couldn’t find any.”
Ultimately, Kruger found that the North American Islamic Trust is located at 721 Enterprise Drive in Oak Brook and the Islamic Center of Oakbrook Terrace is at 1S270 Summit Ave., in Oakbrook Terrace.
Kruger contacted the FBI to ask about the North American Islamic Trust.
“They said it is a legitimate place of business; there are no threats or other concerns in the village,” Kruger said, adding the FBI also said the Islamic Center of Oakbrook Terrace is not a concern.
Phew. Thank God the FBI didn’t see this as an opportunity to manufacture its own terror plot in Oak Brook, like it has in other places.
Being subject to the whims and caprice of the FBI is so great!
Ginex emailed Mauro, stating the village checked and did not find any radical Muslim organizations in the village. Ginex also asked Mauro for information on what such organization is in Oak Brook.
“We wanted to know if there was something we didn’t know about, and I asked for a correction to the story if there weren’t any organizations here,” Ginex said.
Ginex said he never received a response from Mauro.
The Clarion Project did not respond to a voice mail message left by The Doings.
Kruger said he never contacted anyone at the North American Islamic Trust after learning the FBI considers it to be legitimate.
“There’s a concern of protecting the civil rights of a legitimate organization,” Kruger said.
The nonprofit North American Islamic Trust was founded in 1973 to prevent the loss of many Islamic centers founded in the 19th and 20th Century from continuing to occur, according to information on the organization’s website, http://www.nait.net.
It is considered a national Waqf, or religious endowment, organization.
The Islamic Center of Oakbrook Terrace among other things, is committed to help both Muslims and non-Muslims in their social needs, “be it a word of advice or a financial help to those in need,” according to information on its website, icobt.com.
Reversal of constitutional court’s 2003 ruling hailed as ‘good day for religious freedom’
Muslim women teachers in Germany can wear headscarves in class as long as it does not cause disruption in the school, Germany’s top court has said in a ruling that may fuel debate about what some nationalist groups see as creeping “Islamisation”.
The constitutional court reversed its initial 2003 ban on headscarves for teachers, which had led some German states to forbid Muslim headscarves in schools while permitting the wearing of Christian symbols such as crucifixes and nuns’ habits.Continue reading...
A response to “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts”
“I suppose it's natural to feel judged when we know we're not living right. Our guilty conscience projects on everything around us. Innocent laughter becomes mockery. A fleeting frown becomes scorn. Even dhikr (remembrance of Allah) becomes offensive. But it's so much easier to just start living right than to expend so much energy complaining about all the people judging us for doing wrong.”
— from the journal of Umm Zakiyyah
The scenario I'm about to describe has happened to me more times than I can count, in more cities than I can remember, mostly here in the U.S. and at times during my travels to Muslim countries.
I walk into a store. There's a woman shopping there that I know is Muslim. In some scenarios, she's standing behind the cash register tallying up totals and returning change to customers. She's not wearing a headscarf. Her clothes are tight against her body. Her neck and cleavage visible. Arms exposed to the wrists. Bare legs showing in her mini dress or short shorts. She's Muslim. I know it. But no one around her knows it. I stare at her briefly and think to myself, “She can't tell if I'm staring because I think she is a shameful spectacle or because I know something that we both share.”
I realize that this must make her uncomfortable, so I look away. I want to say something. Something that indicates that I'm not staring because of how she chooses to uncover herself. Something that indicates that some of my closest friends and family dress like her. That I grew up in a mostly non-Muslim family and an American Muslim community where the majority of women dress like her. That I also struggle in my practice of Islam, though in a way not so visible to others. That I also face East and recite Qur'an when I pray.
Should I greet her with “As-salaamu'alaikum?” I ask myself.
Then I look at what I picked out to wear on this day. A wide, formless abaya. My hair is covered in a dull-colored hijab. Then I remember my face veil, my niqaab. It has become a part of my face. I usually don't notice it until I have to blow my nose or eat in public, or until I meet someone unaccustomed to this form of Islamic dress.
I decide not to say anything to her. I pretend we have nothing in common and that I don't understand her religious beliefs or the Arabic we both recite in prayer. The reason I don't connect with her is that I'm not prepared for a possibly judgmental glance up and down my body. I don't want to read her mind as she hesitantly (if at all) responds, “Wa'alaiku mus salaam.”
I'm guilty of judging and projecting my thoughts onto her before giving her a chance to receive this information and respond to it. It's wrong. My hesitation in these scenarios comes from knowing that a sizable number of people from my religion look at people dressed like me and write us off as women who have lost their way and joined an extremist path of Islam. I cover my hair…and my face (The most popular Islamic opinion allows a woman's face to be shown, so covering it is extreme to some Muslims). Nothing in my outward appearance speaks to or represents my open-mindedness and my love for all my Muslim brothers and sisters, no matter their personal struggles or how they dress.
However, I am a normal Muslim. I pray (five times a day, every day), fast, recite the travel supplication before I start my car's engine, pay my zakaah (an obligatory charity paid on one's wealth for all who can afford it) and most importantly, I believe in Allah and hope for His mercy and forgiveness when I die. There are many like me. We don't believe in picking and choosing which parts of Islam we will follow or believe in while still calling our belief system Islam. Yes, we fall short repeatedly and sin often, but we call our shortcomings “human fault” and our sin “disobedience to Allah.” Despite our natural human diversity, we believe in a monolithic path to Paradise: It's called the Straight Path in the Qur'an. We love Islam, and because we love it so much, we refuse to reduce it to an ever-changing, flexible belief system based on the whims and desires of ourselves and others. We're uncomfortable trying to pass for non-Muslims or “non-practicing Muslims,” even if it saves us from one or more of the following: unsolicited warnings about how people who dress like us should stop judging others; being called a Wahhabi or extremist before we even open our mouths to share what we think or believe; unwelcomed advice from a stranger that starts with “You don't have to dress like that here in [insert country]”; or an impromptu lecture, straight from an Islamophobic textbook that I knew was nonsense at age 13.
Islamic studies were part of my upbringing until I graduated from high school. (I'm indigenous American and my parents converted to Islam). However, the textbooks about Islam in my school portrayed people who look like me as fundamentalists and extremists and said we were followers of the Wahhabi sect of Islam (though I'd never heard of that group until I opened those books). The first time I realized it was okay to verbalize how nonsensical these stereotypes were was when I studied Islam for myself and realized that Allah has a special place in Paradise for everyone who dies as a believer, no matter how they looked or dressed on earth, and no matter how many faults and sins they had.
That was all the permission I needed to allow myself to believe in a more compassionate religious outlook than the one spoken about in those textbooks, and from the mouths of the Muslims who called me a Wahhabi or extremist for merely loving to obey my Lord.
My parents and many of my Muslim friends are pretty religious. They don't know my sins, and I don't know theirs. I'm honestly not quite sure how they would react to knowing what I struggle with every day, but I'm not exactly ready to uncover what Allah has concealed for me for so long. They encourage me and others like me to wear hijab and don modest clothes, but they don't make a big fuss about it. Like most good parents and Muslim friends, they don't want me doing anything harmful to my soul. They would not approve of the sins that I battle in private, so I keep them to myself and cry to Allah.
If it were to ever become fairly evident that I'm not keeping up with my prayers, my parents would give me gentle reminders, saying, “Keep up your prayers, sugar,” and my friends say, “Let's pray together.” Though my parents didn't memorize the Qur'an themselves, they always encouraged me and my siblings to study and memorize Qur'an. If they found me or my sisters talking to any “male friends,” they swiftly invited the young men over and taught them about Islam, but my parents would never compromise our modesty and dignity by allowing us to walk out the house alone with those men. My parents hoped their children would follow in their footsteps, and they hoped we'd improve on the choices they'd made.
I'm steadfast in my belief that adhering to the fundamentals of Islam while respecting other beliefs from afar is the reason I remain Muslim today. I don't feel the need to study Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity to get closer to Islam. Islam brings me closer to Islam because that's what submission means, a lesson none of the Muslims who judge me have been able to pass on in their teachings, though it's what they claim to uphold.
But they taught me how to obsess about the mundane, about all the things I'm doing incorrectly and therefore prove that my “religiousness” is just a show. They taught me shame. They taught me guilt. They taught me that the eyes of people are more important than the judgment of Allah. They taught me that it's better to take off hijab completely if I can't get everything else right. They taught me that it's better to give up practicing Islam in public if I sin in private. They said, “Don't be a hypocrite.”
But what they were really saying was, “Join us, and feel free to disobey Allah without shame.”
They taught me that I can wear short shorts, smoke weed, drink liquor, reject hadith, and then point to the hypocrisy of scholars to defend my sin and faulty beliefs.
They taught me fear. They taught me that being a good Muslim is difficult. That remaining Muslim isn't as simple as holding on to my fundamental beliefs, praying my five prayers, and striving to obey Allah in my dress and behavior despite my falling short from time to time. They taught me that if I'm sincere, I'll announce my sins amongst friends and online, and make any fleeting doubts about my faith the foundation of my outlook in life. They taught me that a “real Muslim” doesn't hide her sins from others unless she's a religious hypocrite trying to fool the world.
If I listened to them, I might have rejected Islam. So I took a break from being around them. I didn't do it because I was judging them. I did it because I feared for my soul.
I saw how many youth (and grown men and women) they'd pushed from Islam. I saw how many girls they encouraged to remove their hijab, telling them, “Cover when you're ready, not now!” I saw how many people stopped praying and practicing Islam under their mantra (borrowed from hadith), “Al'amal bi niyaat,” which means actions are dependent on their intentions, and under their other mantra“Al deenu yusr,” which translates to “religion is ease.”
They made me feel like I was just going through the motions of prayer to show off. They did everything they could to push me from returning to the prayer rug, even when I wasn't around them. They did everything they could to poke fun of people who looked like me. They did everything they could to praise the “sincerity” and “honesty” of people who looked like them. They did everything they could to paint themselves the victim and me the judgmental aggressor, even when I didn't even open my mouth. They did everything they could to make me feel like a liar when I said, sincerely, that I don't see myself as different from any other Muslim, no matter how they dress. They did everything they could to make me feel like an extremist for believing that I couldn't pick and choose what I wanted to believe in or follow from the Qur'an and authentic hadith.
So I left their company and kept them in my prayers.
I knew actions are dependent on intentions, and I knew my religion is easy. But they tried to convince me that I could disobey Allah while claiming my heart and intentions were good. They tried to convince me that the ease of Islam was stringent and difficult, and that the path of disobedience was the “balanced, middle path.”
Intuitively, I knew they were calling me to Hellfire under the guise of Islam. But my nafs, that weakness in myself, made me inclined to believe that I should follow them and not Qur'an and hadith. So I had to leave them alone.
Exploring the depths of my soul brought to light what was happening to me and others like me. But I felt powerless to speak up. I didn't know what to say when they said, “Don't judge me!” as they proceeded to bash and judge everyone else. I didn't know what to say when they said, “Only Allah can judge!” as they proceeded to oppose Allah's judgments themselves.
By Allah! I was confounded and confused. I prayed to Allah for strength, guidance, and direction.
How did this happen? How did it happen that only the openly sinful had the right to speak without interruption while the rest of us were silenced lest we be called judgmental or extreme? How did it happen that only the defiantly disobedient had the right to patience and good treatment while the rest of us were openly insulted, publicly humiliated, and mercilessly called to account for our wrongs? How did it happen that blogging about open sin and rejecting hadith was heralded as “inspirational” while the mere whisper of “Fear and obey Allah” was denounced as insensitive and “demotivating” to one struggling on the Path?
But please don't get me wrong. All is not well in “my crowd” either. Shaytaan is busy stirring up animosity and division amongst us too, telling us to wrinkle our noses at those who don't wear proper hijab. To storm the Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and sites of those who follow the opinion that not all music is haraam. To insist that everyone must follow our sheikh, our scholar, or our school of thought lest they are followers of Shaytaan. To insist that matters of difference of opinion must be treated like clear matters and foundational beliefs. To insist that you must choose a label or a group unless you are not a “real Muslim,” or not Muslim at all. To even insist that it is closer to righteousness to remain silent when someone is doing open wrong, imagining that your wide smile alone will “charm them” back to the right path.
So, no, I don't feel comfortable in “my crowd,” or any crowd, truthfully. As I mentioned before, there are many like me. We are outliers, outsiders, passing through Muslim communities of East and West, sometimes in the vicinity of Muslims, sometimes in the vicinity of non-Muslims.
When confronted, our stance on religion is waived off as rebellious because we refuse to be pigeonholed into a single group. But despite our feeling of not belonging, we are, generally speaking, not tormented by our “lonely” existence. We live very healthy, dynamic, diverse lives. We've established connections and common ground with many different groups of people, and we don't feel like the judgmental pariahs people paint us to be (or the judgmental pariahs others are often toward us). We've accepted that until a drastic spiritual change happens, we're going to continue to operate in dual or multiple groups. Because no one quite knows what to make of people who want no belonging to any label except that of Muslim or believer in Allah.
So if you see me outside (or in the store), I'd appreciate if you leave off labels like Wahhabi and extremist and instead take a moment to get to know me beyond the cloth on my head or veil on my face. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't shout, “Don't judge me!” when you know full well what you're doing is wrong. I'd appreciate it if you would stop saying, “Only Allah can judge!” when all I'm doing is sharing what He's already judged as wrong or right. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't try to silence me as you hide behind the veil of victimhood, enabling you to freely announce and celebrate your faulty beliefs and sins.
But if you do choose that path, that path of dishonesty in front of yourself and Allah, no worries. Because I have a new mantra these days, inspired by the short surah titled Al-Kaafiroon (the Disbelievers). No, I could never claim that anyone who says, Laa ilaaha illaAllah is a disbeliever no matter what they think of me, and no matter how far their outward appearance strays from Islam. But the last ayah of this surah resonates with me as I think of all those who call me judgmental (or extreme) because I want Paradise so much that I call others to it whenever I can. The last ayah states, “Lakum deenukum wa liya deen,” meaning, “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
…A simple phrase that holds the power of interconnectedness in spite of our differences. A verse that can empower me to smile at and greet the woman wearing short shorts and no hijab, without fear of judgment. And a simple phrase that represents a perfect faith, empowering me to keep practicing Islam despite my human faults and sins…and despite the Muslims who tell me that, when I get confused and weak, it is Islam that is in need of fixing, not me.
Copyright © 2015 by Al-Walaa Publications. All Rights Reserved.
As the Israeli election approaches, The New York Times has provided us with a broad look at West Bank settlements, publishing an online piece with interactive maps to illustrate their rapid growth and an analysis of spending, population, planning and construction and how all this will shake out in the final vote.
The lavishly illustrated piece, “Netanyahu and the Settlements,” seems to provide readers with a quick overview of the issues, but it is all smoke and mirrors: A major element of the West Bank is missing here—the Palestinians, the indigenous residents of this landscape.
In all of this lengthy article, reporter Jodi Rudoren never once quotes a Palestinian source. We meet settlers and we hear from American and Israeli officials, but Palestinian voices are omitted entirely. Their opinions emerge only in brief phrases—“Palestinians object” or “Palestinians do not accept”—never with a name attached.
After brief dabs of local color in the opening paragraphs, Times readers are introduced to an airbrushed West Bank, without a Palestinian community in sight: “The West Bank,” they write, “is 2,100 square miles of rolling hills dotted by some 200 Jewish settlements surrounded by security fences. They include the hilltop city of Ariel, with its own university and regional theater; planned communities of cookie-cutter houses with red-tile roofs; and hilltop outposts where a few dozen people live in trailers.”
Readers are then taken on a tour of several settlements, and they can click on aerial views to watch them grow over time, but they never visit Palestinian cities or villages, the indigenous communities of this landscape. In this West Bank there is no Bethlehem or Jericho, no Jenin or Nablus; it is all a Jewish affair.
We learn that international opinion opposes settlement growth, and we get a look at how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accelerated construction during his tenures, but the Times avoids any look at the devastating consequences of settlement building on Palestinian lives.
In the Times, the problem is nothing more than an abstract issue of negotiations and electoral politics. It is a “dilemma for peacemakers” or a “central element of his troubled relationship with Washington,” all of which is far removed from the ugly facts on the ground.
Times readers learn virtually nothing about the ethnic cleansing that accompanies settlement expansion and the harsh consequences for Palestinians. Other media outlets and monitoring groups, however, provide frequent accounts of settler and army harassment, demolitions, olive tree burnings and land seizures, all aimed at driving Palestinians off their land.
Last week, for instance, Israeli bulldozers invaded a Jordan Valley herding community and bulldozed tin shacks and tents that were sheltering the families. The community, Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah, has clung to the land in spite of repeated demolitions. The Red Cross and other aid agencies supply new tents, but Israeli authorities return repeatedly to tear down homes and animal pens, leaving the residents and their stock exposed to the elements.
It is part of a “decades-long policy to expel thousands of Palestinians living in dozens of shepherding communities” in the West Bank, an IMEMC news article stated. It referred readers to a report by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, which details the efforts to force these Palestinians off their land and make way for Jewish ownership and development.
Other reports last week exposed the military use of “firing zones” as a means of seizing land under Palestinian ownership. It told of another Jordan Valley community where the army forced Palestinians out of their homes by designating an area as a firing zone for training exercises. It then reduced the size of the zone and allowed settlers to move in and build there.
In the Times, settlements come at no cost to Palestinians. They are simply a matter of contention and take up land that Palestinians “would like to have” as a future state. There is no mention of the deprivation and suffering settlements cause and no recognition that the land they stand on was stolen from its indigenous owners.
Readers learn that the international community opposes Israeli settlement building, but we never get a look at what is driving this opposition. The Times prefers to stand at a distance from the reality of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, reducing human suffering to abstractions and removing the victims from the scene.
Filed under: Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank Tagged: ethnic cleansing, Israel, Netanyahu, New York Times, Palestine, West Bank
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will consider an appeal on free-speech ruling of ad which they claim violates ‘minimal civility standards’
Philadelphia’s transit system has been ordered to accept provocative ads that include a 1941 photograph of Adolf Hitler with a former Arab leader after a federal judge ruled in favour of a pro-Israel group’s free-speech lawsuit.
The proposed bus ads carry a tagline saying: “Jew Hatred: It’s in the Quran”.Continue reading...
Classic automobiles remind Palestinians of when they could travel freely.
Islamophobia sells in Canada
Stephen Harper’s re-election campaign is built on demonizing MuslimsMarch 2, 2015 2:00AM ET by Davide Mastracci
Canadians will vote in the country’s 42nd general election on Oct. 19. In the lead-up to the vote, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made several calculated decisions to capitalize on popular Islamophobic sentiments to secure another victory for the Conservative Party.
Harper has latched onto international events to marginalize Muslims for voters. For example, on Jan. 8, Harper responded to the attacks in Paris on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, by claiming that an “international jihadist movement has declared war.” He then pledged to propose a new anti-terrorism legislation once the parliament resumes regular session in late January.
His bill, the Anti-Terrorism Act 2015 or Bill C-51, will transform Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), from an information gathering service to one that proactively attempts to thwart terrorist plots in Canada and abroad. The act will also lower the threshold for monitoring suspected national security threats, including adding a vaguely defined category called terrorist “sympathizers.”
The bill passed in the House of Commons on Feb. 23 and is now being sent to Committee. In an open letter to Harper, several civil liberty organizations, former CSIS employees and former Canadian prime ministers have expressed concern about the lack of oversight and effective review mechanisms for the law. If Canada’s past anti-terror legislations are any guide, Muslim communities will likely see increased surveillance and profiling under Bill C-51. Previous counterterrorism laws have resulted in the infringement of Muslims’ civil liberties through arbitrary detention and inclusion in no-fly lists, as well as secret surveillance. Harper is not even pretending Bill C-51 will be any different.
“Our Government has never hesitated to call jihadi terrorism what it is,” he said of terrorist groups, introducing the bill.“And just as we are not afraid to condemn it, we are not afraid to confront it.” Asked how security forces will distinguish between radicalized individuals and teenagers “messing around in the basement,” Harper said, “it doesn’t matter what the age of the person is, or whether they’re in a basement, or whether they’re in a mosque or somewhere else.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Muslim Lawyers’ Association (CMLA) have demanded an apology. “The Prime Minister’s comments … implicated Canadian mosques as venues where terrorism is advocated or promoted,” the group said in a statement. “The words used by our elected leaders have a profound impact on public perceptions.” Harper’s response gives unwarranted credence to a common misconception. There is overwhelming evidence, including a 2011 CSIS report, showing the lack of connection between mosques and individuals suspected of terrorism.
However, since the October 22 shooting in Ottawa, several mosques across the country have been targeted by violent Islamophobes. Harper’s statements and failure to condemn the string of vandalism against mosques in Canada have perpetuated this dangerous conflation.