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When Bigotry Comes to Your Hometown

Loon Watch - 13 July, 2014 - 22:19

Midland-Park-mosque-opponent When Bigotry Comes to Your Hometown

By Dean Obeidallah (The Daily Beast)

Typically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.

The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.

The small hearing room that accommodated 60 was packed with the faces of brown and white people, while others filled the hallways and adjacent conference rooms. For the next three hours, this hearing would be the big show in this small town. And it didn’t disappoint.

At the outset of the hearing, the attorney for the mosque, sensing that the room was filled with opponents, made a simple plea to the municipal board members: “This is not a public referendum, it’s a question of law.”

He was legally correct, but that didn’t prevent local officials in Bridgewater, New Jersey from improperly preventing the building of a mosque a few years ago. The result was a lawsuit in federal court that found in favor of the mosque, although it’s currently still engulfed in the appeals process.

And then came the parade of people testifying for and against the mosque. The board members would respectfully listen, but showed little signs of which way they would decide.

“I’ve been to nine Bon Jovi concerts…I love this country.”  That was part of the emotional plea of a Muslim-American doctor in support of the mosque. When I was an attorney, I can assure you that I never heard anyone testify at a land-use hearing: “I love this country.” Such a declaration is obviously not required by law, but when you’re Muslim, you feel obligated to continually offer these types of assurances.

We heard from opponents who lived on the block of the proposed mosque. I sincerely believe they were simply concerned about traffic, not Muslims. Others opened by saying “I have nothing against Muslims,” but you could still sense apprehension—not based on malice, but more from a lack of personal exposure to Muslims.

And then something fascinating happened. Since this hearing was taking place during Ramadan, many of the Muslims had been fasting since sunrise. I’m talking 14 hours with no food. As we reached sunset at about 8:45 p.m., I could see some taking out snacks from their bags or passing around figs to break their fast. These people were celebrating their religion while at the same time fighting to exercise it.

Soon, however, the mask of civility was removed, revealing the ugly face of bigotry. As one Muslim man from a neighboring town testified, someone yelled out, “Build the mosque in your town!” Another commented: “I don’t care if they worship their God, just not in our town.” (All the Muslims who testified were from neighboring towns.)

There was a man holding up a sign that read “Stop Application” and “Keep R Kids Safe.” I was a bit confused about the second sign. Was he alleging that Muslims are a threat to children? Not sure, but it wasn’t long until he stormed out of the hearing, declaring: “There are 180 million [not billion?] radicalized Muslims!” [Yes, he was using the Islamaphobe’s BS line that not all Muslims are bad, but X percent are.]

The hearing soon reached a boiling point as a woman calmly, but intensely, testified from prepared notes about the alleged threats Islam posed to the people of the town. Parroting the crap we have heard from Islamophbes on Fox News, she claimed Muslims are “trained” to lie and that they don’t share the same values as we, Americans, do. When someone in the crowd objected, another in the audience said: “It’s the truth, you don’t know them.”

There was even a moment of surreal levity. Another woman sitting in the audience, and again this is small room where everyone could easily see one another, had been loudly voicing anti-Muslim comments. She then came up to testify, stating: “I don’t have any problems with Muslims, it’s about traffic.” Did she really think we couldn’t see she was the same person saying anti-Muslim crap minutes before?!

Don’t get me wrong, there were some bright spots, such as when a Jewish and a Christian leader testified in support of the Muslims’ freedom to worship like people of other faiths. However, every single resident of Midland Park who testified voiced opposition to the mosque. (I wonder how freaked out these mosque opponents, who were all white, will be when they realize that by 2045 they will be outnumbered by people of color?)

And now, after three hours of talking traffic, tax bases, and Muslims, it was time for the board to decide. If they followed the views of the local residents, the mosque would be soundly defeated.

The decision was unanimous. A new place of worship was coming to this small town. And it would bring with it people that don’t look or pray like most of the local residents.

But now comes the more challenging part for the Muslim community. It’s one thing to win a hearing, but it’s quite another to win “hearts and minds.” I did leave, though, with a sense of optimism after seeing the leader of the mosque walk up to as many of the opponents and as he could find and extend his hand. True, it’s a small step, but it’s a really good one to start with.

The Isis demand for a caliphate is about power, not religion | William Dalrymple

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 July, 2014 - 17:00
The self-anointing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi taps into jihadi nostalgia for a golden era of Islam

On 3 March 1924, the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul was surrounded by Republican Turkish troops. Inside, the last Ottoman caliph, Abdülmecid II, was reading the essays of Montaigne. Late that night, the prefect of police came to tell him that Ataturk's new assembly in Ankara had just voted to abolish the caliphate and that he was to leave the country at dawn.

Photographs of the last caliph show an elderly, intellectual figure in a fez, kaftan and pince-nez, absorbed in the books of his library. Here he composed classical music and read the complete works of Victor Hugo, while cultivating his gardens and painting portraits of his family. But the following morning, he and his family were escorted into exile in Europe aboard the Orient Express, eventually settling in Nice. He was never allowed to return.

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Justin Welby warns of hysteria over threat of Muslim radicalisation

The Guardian World news: Islam - 13 July, 2014 - 10:53
Archbishop of Canterbury says number of young people travelling to Syria is 'extraordinarily small'

People in Britain are in danger of becoming "too hysterical" as a "national culture of fear" develops about the threat posed by radicalised Muslims, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has warned.

A number of radicalised young people are travelling to Syria but Welby described this proportion as "extraordinarily small" as he said that differences between Christianity and Islam were no excuse for hostility.

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Wonkette: Dead Breitbart Freaks Out Over ‘Muslim Prayer Rug’ Found Near Border, Sheeple See Only A ‘Shirt’

Loon Watch - 13 July, 2014 - 00:57

prayer-rug-shirt Dead Breitbart Freaks Out Over ‘Muslim Prayer Rug’ Found Near Border, Sheeple See Only A ‘Shirt’

By Doctor Zoom

Dead Breitbart’s Little Sisters of Perpetual Fear ran this breathless headline the other day, indisputable proof that al Qaeda terrorists are sneaking through our porous borders™, perhaps disguised as seven-year-old Guatemalan children: Muslim Prayer Rug Found on Arizona Border by Independent American Security Contractors Be afraid! Be very afraid! Because not only are the terrorists sneaking through our porous borders™, they’re also either so clumsy or so brazenly certain that they won’t be caught that they’re casually tossing their discarder prayer rugs in the arroyos of the Sonoran desert in Arizona.

Thrill to their story of plucky “independent contractors” who poked around in the washes near the border and found the chilling evidence:

A member of the security team spoke with Breitbart News on Monday night saying they were on patrol right along the border came down into a wash and the area were working in just south of Sierra Vista in Coronado national forest
“That area is prime crossing from Yucca Springs over to Copper Canyon. And the reason that they use that area is anything from plain old Mexicans and South Americans to cartels and anybody else is because border patrol has a high point lookout area where in the Coronado national forest, tourists can come on up,” He said [...]

The group patrolled along the border that was a patchwork of decades old rickety fencing made from train tracks and cattle enclosures. Eventually, they were 50 yards by the border and saw a break in the wash.

“That’s when I saw this thing laying around. And I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ We walked over there and I didn’t really want to pull at it not knowing what was on it. I poked a bit at it with a stick and noticed some of the Arabic writing and was just like, ‘Oh boy.’ I snapped a couple of photos and then went on our patrol.”

Arabic writing! That settles it, although for some reason Breitbart didn’t include a photo of that, probably to prevent secret coded messages being seen by the wrong people. We appreciate their thoughtful concern for national security.

Despite this clear proof that Barack Obama is letting terrorists casually slip into our country, Gawker’s America-hating socialist jihadi sympathizer Adam Weinstein is dangerously skeptical, casting aspersions on the Breitbart story of a clear and present danger. He disparages the “independendent” American security contractors,” mocking Breitbart’s description of the “security team” and suggesting that they may in fact be mere self-proclaimed militiamen or even loonies with AR-15s and Rambo fantasies. Which is to say that he’s not sure he agrees with Breitbart a hundred percent on their police work, there.

Worse, he seems to think that the thin cotton or poly-cotton cloth has certain characteristics that are more typical of a “shirt” (in Spanish, “Camisa,” or in Arabic, “قميص”):
you can't explain it!

Weinstein presents a fanciful “photo analysis,” the sort of laughably speculative guesses that you see in tabloid stories about such improbable phenomena as “UFOs” “Elvis sightings,” or “Diagrams of the female reproductive system.” Here’s what he thinks he sees:

1. Here we see a waist hemline on the Muslim prayer rug.

2. This would be a sleeve opening on the Muslim prayer rug, just above the diamond-hatch red-and-white pattern so popular among lower-tier football clubs and militant Muslim prayer-rug salesmen.

3. Islamic scholars and Arsenal fans will immediately recognize “die marke mit den 3 streifen” here on the Muslim prayer rug.

And since one of Arsenal F.C.’s top sponsors is Emirates Airlines, that might just explain the mysterious “Arabic writing”, which is right there in the logo:

Arsenal emirates

Still, it’s a hell of a catch by brave patriots, and possible evidence that America is under siege by a force even more threatening than al Qaeda: Footy hooligans.

[Breitbart / Gawker]

Read more at http://wonkette.com/553909/dead-breitbart-freaks-out-over-muslim-prayer-rug-found-near-border-sheeple-see-only-a-shirt#8sIi8s5DYCHUDVPo.99

An ode to Birmingham: how can the UK's second city fix its image problem?

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 July, 2014 - 08:00
Our beleaguered second city is used to being either trashed or ignored, with Trojan horse, Benefits Street and recent failings in its children's services adding to its woes. But can a counter-narrative emerge, a new civic gospel to restore Brummie pride?

There was once a book called Birmingham Is Not a Boring City. On the title page, the word "Not" looked as though it had been added at the last minute in handwriting. More recently, there was a popular blog called birminghamitsnotshit.co.uk, the aim of which was to offer a counter-narrative to those who believed otherwise.

But in both cases there was a problem: each made it look like the city had a case to answer. Really, they suggested, there was more to Britain's second city than a risibly depressive adenoidal accent, a road system that Jeremy Clarkson alleged was diabolically devised to take you away from the cheerlessly brutalist post-industrial city, and a culinary speciality whose name was Urdu for bucket. But the counter-narrative often only served to highlight the original narrative. Birmingham's problem? It protests too much.

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Australian Islamic preacher arrested in Philippines over alleged support of Isis

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 July, 2014 - 01:16

And the Australian government on Saturday officially listed the Islamic State group as a terrorist organisation

An Australian Islamic preacher has been arrested in the central Philippines on suspicion of links to Muslim extremists and rallying support for Isis militants in Syria, according to police. The Australian government on Saturday officially listed the Islamic State group as a terrorist organisation.

Robert Cerantonio, alias Musa, was allegedly calling for jihad and lecturing Muslim Filipinos to support the Islamic State (Isis), which has undertaken an insurgency in parts of Iraq and Syria. Australian authorities are understood to be seeking his extradition.

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Ali Abunimah Assaulted by LAPD; Pro-Israel Demonstrator Rants to “Eliminate Muslim”

Loon Watch - 12 July, 2014 - 00:05

Ali_Abunimah I filmed the LAPD assaulting me at pro-Israel demo

By Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada)

Officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) assaulted me without provocation as I spoke to and filmed participants at a pro-Israel rally on the north side of Wilshire Blvd. by the Israeli consulate this evening.

I was handcuffed and threatened, and I caught it all on video above. There is now a second video of the incident, filmed by a third party, below.

Across the road, on the south side of Wilshire, was a Palestine solidarity rally called for by a number of peace and justice groups to protest Israel’s rampage of lethal violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

I arrived directly to the pro-Israel counter-demonstration without first having been to the Palestine solidarity rally. I wanted to speak to people and record their opinions.

As I was arriving, I heard one participant say: “A good Muslim is a dead Muslim.” I approached him and asked him, “What could make all this stop?” He answered: “Eliminate Muslims” and launched into an anti-Muslim tirade.

Another person heard him and objected to his words, telling me, “That’s not true. Terrorists are the problem,” and “I have a lot of Palestinian friends.”

We were having a conversation when, without any warning, I was assaulted by LAPD officers. I was profiled: one officer asked, “Are you with the Palestine?”

In the video, the officers claim that I had disobeyed an order. This is untrue. I was assaulted and restrained without warning and when I asked the officers to stop assaulting me and let me go, they put handcuffs on me.

One officer can be heard on the video saying, “I know you are trying to fire everyone up.” This is also untrue – I was asking questions and listening to the answers.

I believe he may have said this because he suspected that my camera was still running. An officer also said that they were trying to “keep the peace” and “keep me safe,” all while physically assaulting me.

After the video cuts, the sergeant was called. I was questioned about my political beliefs and asked, “Which side are you on?”

I answered, “I am on the side of peace and justice.” The sergeant asked, “Which side is that?”

I responded, “Which side do you think it is?”

The sergeant said they would remove the handcuffs if I agreed to leave the scene and not come back.

In effect, I was forced to stop reporting and leave the scene or risk arrest. In order to avoid further violence and harassment I agreed and I was escorted across Wilshire Blvd. where I joined the Palestine solidarity rally, which appeared to have several hundred people, more than the dozens waving Israeli flags and chanting, “Who are we? Israel!”

Second video

This video shot by Scott Bixler shows the incident from another angle, showing that the LAPD assault and battery was entirely unprovoked.

Author and analyst Ali Abunimah arrested at protest at Israeli consulate in West L.A. LAPD-Israel collaboration

In my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine, I write about the close cooperation between Israel and US big city police departments, including the LAPD.

In January, as Rania Khalek reported, LAPD top brass went on their most recent junket where they fell in love with Israeli drones.

I wonder if it is that cooperation that predisposes officers to see anyone suspected of being “with the Palestine” as a threat.

What is clear is that I was profiled and treated as a threat like so many Angelenos, particularly people of color.

Israeli commander declares “holy war” on Palestinians

Loon Watch - 11 July, 2014 - 22:39

ofer_winter_mugshot

Collective head scratching going on with the talking heads and editors of the lame stream media who are thinking, “but, but I thought…holy war was a Moslem-only thing.”

Israeli commander declares “holy war” on Palestinians

By Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada)

On the eve of a threatened ground invasion of Gaza, the commander of the Israeli army’s Givati Brigade has told his soldiers that they are engaged in a war to “wipe out” an “enemy who defames” God.

In a Hebrew language letter to his troops published by Israel’s NRG news website and laden with bibilical references, Colonel Ofer Winter writes, “History has chosen us to be the sharp edge of the bayonet of fighting the terrorist enemy ‘from Gaza’ which curses, defames and abuses the God of Israel’s battles.”

“We will act together forcefully and with resolve, with initiative and with deceptive tricks and aim for contact with the enemy. We will do everything to live up to the mission and wipe out the enemy and remove the threat from the Nation of Israel,” Winter’s letter adds.

In Hebrew, the phrase used for “Nation of Israel” refers specifically and only to Jews.

“In the name of the IDF [Israeli army] fighters and in particular, the fighters and commanders from the Brigade, make the phrase ‘For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you’ come true, and we shall answer: Amen,” he concludes.

ofer_winter_letter.jpg

Ofer Winter’s letter calls Palestinians an “enemy who defames” God.

(NRG)

“Holy war”

Winter’s letter is an “astonishing document,” Israeli playwright and journalist Kobi Nivcommented on Facebook.

Niv criticizes the “clumsy language which ridiculously combines recitations from the military and the religion but also the fact that on our part (not on their part; on our part) the wars against the Palestinians have turned from a national dispute to a holy war.”

Israel expert Dena Shunra, who translated Winter’s letter for The Electronic Intifada, notes that its appearance reflects the increasing participation of observant Orthodox Jews in the Israeli military. Shunra adds:

This demographic, often associated with the settlement movement, has displaced the traditional Kibbutz-member (militantly secular, socialist/communist leanings) in the Israeli army. Switching from nationalist rhetoric to the language of holy war is part of that transition. Another part is insisting that holy figures appear in battle to comfort/save the Jewish soldiers (and seeing them as Jewish, rather than Israeli). Reports of visitations by “Mama Rochelle” – the Matriarch Rachel, wife of Patriarch Jacob, traditionally buried in Bethlehem – have surfaced in the last few rounds of fighting (from 2002 onward). This changes the nature both of the wars and of the forces engaging in them, pushing towards a clash of civilizations.

Read the entire article…

Israeli Terrorists Who Burned Teenager Mohammed Abu Khieder Alive Were Beitar Jerusalem Fanatics

Loon Watch - 11 July, 2014 - 21:19

Fans of Beitar Jerusalem shout slogans during a match against Bnei Sakhnin as part of the Israeli Premier League, at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem How Israeli soccer hooligans fanned flames of hate

By Ishaan Tharoor (Washington Post)

Earlier this week, Israeli authorities arrested six men in connection with the ghastly killing of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khieder, who, according to reports, was forced into a car and then beaten and burned to death. The killing has been cast as a reprisal attack for last month’s abduction and slaying of three Israeli teens studying at seminaries in the West Bank. Their deaths form the backdrop to the ongoing exchange of rocket fire and missile strikes in the Gaza Strip that has led to about 80 Palestinians being killed.

gag-order on Israeli media has led to rumor and innuendo surrounding the case. Initial reports suggested that some of the suspects in Abu Khieder’s killing were connected to La Familia, a notorious wing of soccer fans connected to Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s more prominent soccer clubs. La Familia is known for its noxious brand of far-right, Islamophobic politics. While La Familia represents a minority of Beitar’s fan base, it has come to define the club to outside observers as a bastion of xenophobia and racism in Israel.

Unlike many other Israeli soccer clubs, Beitar has never had an Arab player on its books. Last year, when the team signed two Chechen Muslim players, fans, led by La Familia, revolted. They displayed a massive yellow banner that declared “Beitar Will Be Pure Forever” — a chillingly fascistic message — and a small group went on to torch the club’s office, destroying treasured memorabilia. At the time, as Buzzfeed notes, Beitar’s assistant coach said, “They’re burning buildings now… [they might] burn people next.”

The club and the majority of the team’s fan base stuck by the two Chechens. But when one of them, the striker Zaur Sadayev, scored his first goal at home, hundreds in the stadium walked out in protest of their own team (see video below). Both Chechen players have returned to Russia to ply their trade.

Americans often are surprised when sports and politics get so deeply intertwined, but for much of the rest of the world — and especially when it comes to soccer — that overlap is a daily reality. Beitar Jerusalem was founded in 1936 by members of a Zionist youth movement; it is linked to the right-wing Likud party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and its fans consider Israel’s Hapoel clubs, which are historically connected to the Labor Party, to be key rivals.

In the past, a section of Beitar fans jeered attempts to commemorate the 1995 assassination of Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians. Fans in La Familia routinely chant anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans and are known to tout symbolsassociated with the banned ultranationalist Kach political party. In March 2013, hundreds of Beitar hooligans stormed a Jerusalem mall, attacking Arab workers there in what one employee described as “a mass lynching attempt.” The club denounced their actions, and 16 fans were eventually arrested. A few months later, a group of Beitar fans attacked a McDonald’s where Arabs were among the staff.

Read the entire article…

Ramadan the 18-hour fast that keeps the faithful coming back for more

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 July, 2014 - 20:31
For Muslims, the annual ritual is more than a spiritual 5:2 diet it's a unifying way to take stock of how they are living

'It was really busy last year. It might be a bit less so this year. I think it's the World Cup." Fatima showed me the women's prayer room of the Harrow Central Mosque, a massive building, nine years in the making. Its domed room at the top has a scaffold tower in the middle, the last trace of building work. "There is no religious significance to the scaffolding," said Nadeem, the operations manager. "We're just waiting for one light. If you know anybody who wants to donate a six metre light ..."

The mood, at 8.46pm on Thursday, is giddy. Bushra, here with her five-month-old daughter Zahrah, says: "It's really buzzing. It's hard to describe, nobody's eating, but there's so much energy." Iftar, the breaking of the fast, is at 9.23. Prayers start five minutes before that. People start filing in from 9pm. Anything that is counted down in one-minute increments (racing; train travel) makes you feel excited.

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Kurds on Iraq's new faultline feel destiny beckoning

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 July, 2014 - 18:46
Fighters defending territory against Isis predict that Iraq will soon cease to be a nation and become three provinces again

On one side were Kurdish fighters, dug in behind a series of ramparts and trenches reminiscent of the first world war. Five hundred metres away, over a muddy canal and past a farm, were the jihadist fighters of Isis (Islamic State).

Offering a pair of binoculars, first lieutenant Noman Osman, a Kurdish soldier, pointed to the Isis checkpoint. It was a canopied shed. Nearby, on a deserted road, was a burnt-out lorry. There was also an American Humvee, looted from Iraqi forces by the Islamist fighters. Beyond that, a ridge of feathery trees from where Isis snipers had been taking potshots at Kurdish positions.

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Hundreds of Ghanaian football fans claim asylum in Brazil

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 July, 2014 - 16:11

Police say supporters were victims of illegal ring that demanded money in return for false promises of jobs

Around 200 Ghanaians have requested asylum after travelling to Brazil to watch the World Cup, with officials expecting hundreds more to do so when the tournament ends this week.

Fans who travelled to see the Black Stars said they were Muslims "fleeing the violent conflicts between different Muslim groups", police chief Noerci da Silva Melo told the news agency Agencia Brasil. Ghana, one of Africas most peaceful countries, has no recorded conflict among a population that is about two-thirds Christian.

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Friday Links | July 11, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 11 July, 2014 - 07:00
As Israel continues its offensive on Gaza, the death toll is rising fast; many of them are women and children. Nigeria’s military has released the news that it has arrested several female Boko Haram recruiters. As well, about 60 women escaped their presumed Boko Haram captors earlier this week. The escaped women were captured mid-June of [Read More...]

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