The Guardian view on the Reformation, 500 years on: a force for unity | Editorial

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 October, 2016 - 19:23
After half a millennium the passions of Martin Luther’s revolution are spent. Yet Christianity remains a bedrock of Europe’s quest for values

Almost exactly 499 years ago, when he fastened his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Martin Luther set in motion the cascade of argument, then formal schism, war and revolution that we know as the Reformation. Latin Christianity had been the language in which Europe talked to itself for the preceding 1,000 years. Now it was to become the language in which Europe fought with itself. The consequence was the modern world. The savage religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries gave birth to the nation state. The vernacular bibles of the Reformation shaped and fixed the languages in which they were printed. The struggles of European nations became global and their empires spread Christianity around the world.

And now, the European centuries are over. An Argentinian Jesuit pope is visiting a female archbishop who heads the Lutheran Church of Sweden, one of the most secularised countries in the most secularised continent in the world. This would have been almost unimaginable half a century ago. The Reformation is finally over in Europe, not because either side has won, but because both sides have been overcome with exhaustion and brushed to the margins of history by their apparent irrelevance.

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Geert Wilders trial throws Netherlands' divisions in sharp relief

The Guardian World news: Islam - 31 October, 2016 - 10:55

Court to decide whether leader of the far-right Freedom party and frontrunner for prime minister incited hatred of Moroccan immigrants at rally in March 2014

Far-right leader Geert Wilders has gone on trial in the Netherlands on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred of Moroccans.

The case comes as Dutch, French and German voters gear up for a series of elections next year in which populist rightwing groups, such as Wilders’s Freedom party (PVV), will seek to make immigration a central issue.

Related: UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein calls for world to reject populist bigots - in full

Related: Violence rocks political foundations of fractured, fearful Europe

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Is anti-Semitism really “a hate apart”?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 30 October, 2016 - 20:10

Let’s be clear – antismetism is a hate apart | Howard Jacobson | Opinion | The Guardian

The above is in last Sunday’s Observer, and is part of a genre of articles in which an author tries to establish that anti-Semitism is somehow different from other forms of racism. This is in response to comments made by Jeremy Corbyn in regard to accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour party, in which he condemned anti-Semitism along with other forms of racism and Islamophobia. He asserts:

To assert that antisemitism is unlike other racisms is not to claim a privilege for it. Hating a Jew is no worse than hating anyone else. But while many a prejudice is set off by particular circumstance – the rise in an immigrant population or a locally perceived threat – antisemitism is, as often as not, unprompted, exists outside time and place and doesn’t even require the presence of Jews to explain it. When Marlowe and Shakespeare responded to an appetite for anti-Jewish feeling in Elizabethan England, there had been no Jews in the country for 300 years. Jewishness, for its enemies, is as much an idea as it is anything else.

This is a common trope in recent explanations of anti-Semitism by those sympathetic to Israel; other forms of prejudice are explainable in terms of social pressures, while anti-Semitism is ‘primal’ and irrational; the idea of rationalising it is often denounced as anti-Semitic. But the suggestion that prejudice against anyone else is understandable while prejudice against Jews isn’t smacks of racism in itself.

Most of today’s minorities have been in Europe only a short time, mostly since the mid-20th century. Jews, Gypsies and, in some places, Muslims have been present a lot longer. When I was at school, terms related to gypsies and travellers were used as insults to mean dirty, unkempt, tramp-like. There was some anti-Semitic bullying and use of “Jew” to mean stingy, and we had a few Jews in that school (though they were not the only victims), but we had no Gypsies or Travellers of any kind. This was long before any of the recent controversies involving Travellers setting up sites without planning permission. So, prejudice against them in their absence is not unique to Jews. And as for the “Christian roots”, Christian churches stopped preaching this stuff after the Holocaust, and the churches in any case lost their congregations hand over fist in the same decades. So if someone’s really on an anti-Semitic rant and he’s under 70, he didn’t pick that up in a school RE lesson.

Another article in this genre appeared in the New Statesman in May this year, titled “The Longest Hatred”. The authors, Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman, claim at one point:

Other groups – such as black people and gypsies – may suffer worse discrimination in European societies every day. Nobody, however, thinks that black people or gypsies run the world.

The thing is that claiming that a given minority has too much power is a feature of other forms of prejudice besides anti-Semitism. Claims that Asians are “taking over” whole areas of British cities have been a staple of racist discourse as long as Asians have lived here, with specific (false) claims about Muslims setting up “Shari’ah enclaves” or “no-go areas” having been aired on right-wing TV and in conservative newspapers and journals on many occasions since 9/11. Islamophobes have regularly made accusations about a “Eurabia”, a Europe in hock to its Arab minorities and Arab governments. IN 2005, anti-Muslim blogs made much of a document titled “The Project”, supposedly a plan for the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate Europe. This perpetrator of the 2011 Utoya massacre was influenced by these conspiracy theories.

Returning to Jacobson, he alleges that it is in the debate about Israel and Zionism “that all the ancient superstitions about Jews find a point of confluence”:

We dance around this subject, afraid to confront it full on. But it has to be addressed: partly because all that has been thought about Jews in the past has a home in what we think about Israel now and partly because it is axiomatic to Labour that Zionism is a racist ideology – from which it follows that anti-Zionism cannot be called racist; we will not fix antisemitism, in the Labour party or anywhere else, until we fix Israel. I don’t mean fix its problems, I mean fix the way we talk about it.

It certainly is not “axiomatic to Labour” that Zionism is racist. It is a belief held by some on the left of the party, and rejected by the Blairite wing, who were dominant until recently.

He later gives us a history lesson on Zionism:

Zionism originated as a liberation movement. It grew out of an urgent concern, voiced by 19th-century Jews and gentiles alike, for the safety and wellbeing of Jews, and concluded that only if they had their own country would the deracinated Jews of Europe and elsewhere, including the Middle East, be free from discrimination and persecution. To deny its necessity, whatever its subsequent disappointments and betrayals, is to deny history. Zionism took many forms, but neither conquest nor colonial expansionism was one of them. If anything, Zionism was marked by a dreamy, not to say utopian idealism. Jews would return to the land and work hand in hand with their Arab brethren in an amity that would benefit them both.

The problems is that whatever “dreamy idealism” about Jews and Arabs living together in friendship was present in early Zionism was largely absent by the time the state of Israel was set up, and is certainly so now. There was an unmistakeably colonial attitude; it was seen as imperative that the Jews be given a homeland, but that Europeans were not to pay the price for it despite being their main persecutors; it was easier to force a population of colonial subjects to pay instead. Consider that the British had previously offered the Zionists a chunk of Africa, which they rejected; Arthur Balfour later wrote, “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country”.

He then claims, as he has in previous articles, that the Holocaust vindicated Zionism:

Not all Jews believed it would work. The world didn’t need another nationalism, internationalists argued. True, Jews had suffered at the hands of everybody else’s and it was bad luck on them if lifeboats were to be declared illegitimate just as it was their turn to jump, but history can be cruel. It got a little crueller later and many a critic of Zionism was forced to eat his words when the death camps emptied.

But the problem with Zionism — that it required the displacement or domination of the people already living in Palestine — did not change when the camps emptied. There is no way of explaining why the Palestinians should suffer to relieve the Jews of other people’s persecution without resorting to racism or to typical colonial rhetoric, such as calling the Palestinians “squatters” despite the Jews having been absent from the land by 1948 longer than most modern nations, including most of the nations of Europe, have occupied theirs.

What distinguishes anti-Semitism nowadays from almost every other type of hate is how mild it is: in the four months since the Brexit referendum in particular, people of every visible minority have faced open hostility, including violence and in at least one case murder, in the street from people telling them it’s “time to go home now” and have become afraid to talk in their own languages. Despite most British Jews also having originated from the same parts of Europe (albeit much earlier), I have not heard of anyone suggesting that they go ‘home’ — probably because they lost their accent decades ago and look and sound like any other white English people. Claims of anti-Semitism generally focus on words, things they claim hurt their feelings, often directed at public figures and often in response to well-jusitifed condemnation of the state of Israel and its oppression of the native people, and to justifications of it by fellow travellers, often Jews, in this country. Ask any Zionist how they would remedy that oppression, and you will generally find that they blame the Palestinians, despite the Israelis having the upper hand. In my experience, Palestinian rights activists are more measured in their use of language than any other group campaigning against injustice that I can think of, and are quick to disassociate themselves from anti-Semites, even if they are Jewish; the racism I’ve read on pro-Israel blogs in English over the years is sickening. They are not so scrupulous about who they take as allies.

A Facebook status by Naz Shah, posted 5th August 2014, showing a map of the USA with Israel superimposed in the middle, with a list of reasons why Israel should be relocated there.Anti-Semitism has become a “third rail”, an issue that can burn anyone who touches it with long-lasting consequences, in a way that other forms of hate that more commonly involve violence have not. Mainstream parties, particularly Labour, have worked to reinforce this situation while not adequately opposing other forms of hate. For example, the Labour MP Naz Shah can be suspended from the Labour party for circulating a meme (before she became an MP) that suggested that Israel be relocated to the USA while there are Israeli politicians who openly debate expelling all the Palestinians and Zionists are commonly heard claiming that Arabs have all the land from Morocco to the Gulf while the Jews ‘only’ claim Israel; meanwhile, an MP who runs a dirty campaign against a Muslim mayoral candidate, trading on suspicion and bigotry against Muslims, loses that election but keeps his seat in Parliament, and his party’s backing when he calls a by-election, and there is every sign that there will not be an alliance against him. He was supported by the right-wing media in that campaign.

People who hype anti-Semitism commonly remind us of the past. There’s a pamphlet which you can download, which someone on Twitter has been telling everyone to read whenever the issue of “left-wing anti-Semitism” is raised, titled “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere” (PDF). The problem is that it has gone. It’s past. It’s not now. In the past, Jews were the most visible minority; now (and indeed for the past 50 years), they are not, and visible minorities are visible because of their colour, religious dress or foreign languages or accent. In the past, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza because of threats from neighbouring Arab states; now, it has driven native Palestinians off large sections of that territory to make way for settlements, allows a petty state in parts of it and continues to oppress and kill Palestinians throughout, while the Arab states made peace decades ago. In the past, anti-Semitism was the most violent hatred in Europe; today, it isn’t.

There are good reasons why anti-Semitism should not be treated with especial seriousness compared to other forms of racism that are present today. I am not suggesting that we should tolerate violence against Jews, or people openly peddling baseless claims of widespread Jewish conspiracies such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But neither should we punish those who don’t show the indulgence to a foreign power and contempt for its oppressed subjects that its supporters demand, or who advocate the rights of the Palestinians to first-class citizenship throughout their land. That’s not racism. There is serious and violent racism afoot in this country and if you’re condemning “anti-Semitism” over something somebody said about Israel, you’re not fighting it.

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To Change With the Hand – Implementing Services for Domestic Abuse Survivors in Muslim Communities

Muslim Matters - 30 October, 2016 - 06:20

By Janet Kozak

Muslims have the utmost responsibility to right known wrongs with their words and actions. This is commanded to us by Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and ensures that we are constantly striving to better the conditions of the weakened and oppressed.

Sa'eed al-Khudree, may Allah be pleased with him, heard the Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

The current conditions

Most Muslim victims of domestic abuse and violence seek help from their immediate communities first, before seeking help from law enforcement, social services, domestic abuse shelters, and other victim advocates. Unfortunately, not all Muslim communities are well-equipped to handle abusive and dysfunctional relationships. This can have sometimes dire consequences. Being ill prepared to assist abuse victims puts victims at risk of returning to their abusers, or forces them into availing non-Muslim services, protection, and support.

However, Muslim community leaders don't always feel qualified to help a victim of domestic abuse, nor are they always adequately trained in conflict management and family therapy techniques. I've previously spoken with Imams and other community leaders who feel overburdened by all the shoes their community expects them to fill – sometimes wali, marriage counselor, substance abuse counselor, fundraiser, and more.

Therefore, it's imperative that Muslim communities work together to create new programs and task forces of trained individuals who can offer their services and assist couples. Communities can reduce domestic violence in our communities by aiming at prevention. It's also vital these programs be developed quickly to keep victims from reaching out to non-Muslims for help, as Allah has commanded us to avoid help from non-Muslims.

Allah says, “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Awliyaa' [ protectors, helpers], they are but Awliyaa' of each other. And if any amongst you takes them [as Awliyaa'], then surely, he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zaalimoon [polytheists and wrongdoers and unjust] […]” [Qur'an, 5:51]

Unfortunately, some organizations may try to convince Muslims to forgo some of their faith-based principles in order to avail services. In times of crisis, it's of highest importance to offer truly Islamic role models to victims in need, especially those who may question their faith and choices after an abusive relationship.

One victim shared with me that she feels it's often women who are labeled “reform Muslims” or “liberal Muslims” – those she observes may not pray, wear hijab or abaya, and could be considered “Western feminists” – who are more likely to reach out to the abused Muslim women. To counteract this trend, more practicing strong Muslimahs need to not only help women, but help women in an Islamic way.

Muslims who wear hijab need to step up and help women and show support for people who are abused. Full Muslim programs and shelters need to be developed where Muslims won't be coerced or forced to give up their Muslim way of life and ethics.

To address surfacing domestic abuse, here are some specific proactive actions that imams, Islamic center staff, and masajid can implement. Current and former Muslim victims of domestic violence and abuse stepped forward to share their experiences and offer insight as to what this list should include.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a start.

All of these actions of the hand will help educate, prevent domestic abuse from happening in the first place, provide more effective counsel to families, and help victims access help and services after allegations of abuse.


Stopping abuse before it starts Teen education

Teens need to be caught and taught before they start thinking about marriage. Focused educational programs must promote general openness of dialogue and address topics like; setting personal boundaries, human rights, and how one should expect to be respectfully treated in a relationship.

If we keep the youth counseling and discussion easy and open, it won't feel like a taboo topic. Instead of pretending that relationships are not developing, we need to address them outright.

Unhealthy relationships are not just a Muslim problem. If needed, professional youth and teen counselors from outside the Muslim community can be tapped into and invited to train elder community members and prepare them for these talks and workshops. The issue of healthy vs. unhealthy relationships needs to be brought up early and often, and kept out in the open.

Pre-marital education about healthy relationships vs. abuse

Pre-marital counseling is key to forming healthy understandings before marriage. Effective pre-marital counseling should include a series of sessions on domestic abuse and its many manifestations.

If couples come from patriarchal cultures where abuse is practiced and tolerated, they may assume that because certain actions are normal they're also healthy. Also, if they come from abusive families, they usually can't recognize when they're being abusive or victimized.

Some couples really don't know the difference between healthy and dysfunctional relationships. If the markers of both relationships are explained and taught ahead of time, the training can make couples more aware to warning signs.

Encouraging constructive domestic abuse and violence education within the context of premarital counseling, and including a detailed listing of inappropriate behavior within the nikkah contract, could go a long way towards educating and discouraging domestic abuse in Muslim communities.

Get converts some walis!

I can't stress enough how important this is to combating abusive relationships.

So much emphasis is placed on marriage, especially for new converts, that they're often pressured into marrying one of the first men who expresses interest. They're encouraged to marry immediately, often without first cultivating their own knowledge of Islam or actually making sure they are compatible with a particular brother.

If the imam is too busy to fulfill his dutiful role of wali to new converts, then there has to be a system in place to help. Appointing a convert sister without Muslim relatives a suitable wali is imperative. This fatherly figure stand-in must help the sister do background checks on any proposals and give gut recommendations on the suitability of various brothers.

Consider assigning teams of older married Muslim couples to new reverts to help them through the marriage process. The woman can help with emotional support while the man can be the appointed wali/wakeel.

Effectively addressing claims of abuse

When an individual contacts a masjid or community center about allegations of marital discord or outright domestic abuse, this should be taken very seriously and handled with the utmost care and support. Chances are the problems are much deeper and dangerous than they appear at first and crimes may have been committed.

An appropriate care and counseling approach should involve in-depth screenings for all types of abuse and injuries, separate interviews for couples, and assessments by qualified and licensed marriage counselors.

Ask the right questions about the abuse

Detailed questionnaire should be presented for victims to fill out detailing the extent of all the various types of possible abuses. Victims must be given thorough assessments and sufficiently screened for traumatic brain injury to ensure that their case is handled with appropriate care and concern. Brain injury in abuse victims can make accessing other needed services, or even remembering the abuse, difficult and confusing. Care must be taken to better understand how affected the victim is by the ongoing abuse.

Separate interviews

Separate interviews are key to learning all one can about the relationship. It's not only awkward to address marital problems with the couple in the same room, but it can also turn to cannon fodder once the couple returns home. Above all, it's important to never justify abuse in any way, shape, or form. Never tell a victim to tolerate or accept abuse.

One victim vented, “When our [American] Muslim communities tell us to shush, keep it quiet, wait, be patient, or give him (the oppressor) time, that is the same [as those] who turn a blind eye to rape and “honor” killings [in other countries] always making the news here.”

Ensure community members are qualified

In many communities there is a dearth of Muslims working in the social services. This means there are far fewer Muslim marriage counselors and advocates than are needed to address issues of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

To combat this shortage of qualified professionals, ensure that your masjid or Islamic center is budgeting for staff certifications, professional development, additional schooling, and other licensing.

In the long term, invest in the health of the greater community by holding career fairs explaining the benefits of certain needed professions and to encourage these fields of study. Youth should be cheered into the mental health and social service professions as a public service to their communities. This will eventually result in more Muslim counselors, and diversified available resources.

If you need to recommend private practice professionals outside of your masjid or Islamic center, take the time to check the credentials of family therapists and other mental health professionals in your community. Ensure they're actually educated and qualified to practice in their fields.

Practical help and assistance for victims

Domestic abuse victims become refuges in their own land, and should be helped as such!

In addition to the first four practical steps support persons can take to help Muslim victims of domestic abuse, there are other types of assistance needed as well.

When victims leave their abusers they are in need of help with; finding new shelter and moving, new (or used) clothing (often because they left everything behind), toiletries, appliances and other home goods, job assistance, and much more!

To meet these needs, communities can:

  • Create charities and pool funds to make resources available specifically for domestic abuse victims and their families.
  • Rent and maintain safe houses.
  • Form food banks.
  • Collect and store of new and donated clothes, toiletries, and other personal items.
  • Create community-specific job boards and forums for those looking for work.

The whole community needs to work together to develop relationships with advocates connected to local and state resources. They must work with abuse specialists to create explanatory pamphlets on what victims can do next and where to go for help.

When some areas have only a small percentage of Muslims, I admit this can be a challenge. Regardless, there needs to be systems and charities set up with the sole purpose of helping abuse victims and their families within the available means, in every Muslim community.

Victim recovery

Sometimes it just helps for victims to have someone to talk to.

To support survivors of domestic abuse, communities must provide opportunities for connection and therapy by organizing and arranging weekly space for support groups. Invite a therapist and other speakers who can address specific concerns, lead workshops and projects, and hit therapeutic targets.

These weekly meetings could be as simple as an informal support group. or as detailed as a 12-step program aimed at hitting specific steps and stages of recovery. In either case, the goal is to create a safe space where women can share freely without being judged. Sessions are best led by experienced domestic abuse counselors or licensed therapists trained in treating victims with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other fallout from years of abuse.

With some preventative management, thorough assessments, and creation of safe spaces, we can go a long way towards affecting the long-term health of our communities. By targeting youth, newlywed couples, and converts, and by teaching the dynamics of healthy relationships, communities can work towards both reprogramming and support.

For those who are already suffering, or that managed to survive an abusive relationship, we must maintain the resources needed for their full recovery in informed and compassionate ways, while also providing opportunities for self-sufficiency and healing in a fully Islamic environment. Working together, we can change the dynamic of abuse in Muslim communities, one person at a time.

The “War On Terror” In The Coming Presidency Of Hillary Clinton

Loon Watch - 28 October, 2016 - 23:08


By Garibaldi

A flashback to a scene from the early years of America’s “War on Terror” and how the US put the Muslim American community under a national microscope, pressuring it to police it’s own communities. Back then some Muslim institutions reacted to the pressure by creating campaigns to prevent radicalization and terrorism. Today the US government is doing the same through programs such as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE).

The main talking point of a 2004 news conference by US Attorney General John Ashcroft was to tell the American public the not-so-earth-shattering news that “Alqaeda intends to attack the United States in the coming months.” Ashcroft shared photographs of seven people being sought in connection with terrorism investigations. CNN described another portion of Ashcroft’s address which focused on possible threats in these strange terms,

He also warned that terrorists may not have a typical look and that ‘the face of al Qaeda may be changing.’ Our intelligence confirms al Qaeda is seeking recruits who can portray themselves as Europeans,’ he said.” (emphasis mine)

The word “typical” in the CNN report is jarring, since it implies “terrorists” in general have a particular, predominant appearance, i.e. brown men with Middle East/Arab or Indo-Pakistani  features. This hearkens to the well-worn stereotypes discussed in works such as John Woods article “Imagining and Stereotyping Islam” and Edward Said’s book, “Covering Islam” among others.

America is being told, be on guard for anyone, it’s no longer safe to only be suspicious of the stereotypical brown looking terrorist, even your convert neighbor in suburbia could stealthily kill you. This of course means that converts to Islam are also under suspicion. This “diversified” representation of terrorists found its way onto TV dramas such as Sleeper Cell and more recently Homeland.

An important aspect to highlight from the Ashcroft news conference is that the seven who were described as “Wanted Alqaeda suspects at-large” were named by Khaled Shaikh Mohammed. Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, one of the professed planners behind 9/11 was extensively “waterboarded” (a torture technique) over 183 times in March 2003 (Terry, p.605). If the names of the seven were extracted under the duress of torture it adds an additional issue of the government using unreliable and tainted information to instill fear in the populace.

Tom Ridge, who was director of Homeland Security at the time stated that the “color-coded terror alert level” would not be raised. Later that year, for the only time, the terror alert level was raised, from yellow (elevated), to orange (high risk of terror attacks). The move was controversial as it was an election year and Democrats accused Republicans of raising the threat level for political reasons.

At the time, Tom Ridge towed the administration line and stated that the decision to raise the alert level had nothing to do with politics. However, in 2009 he revealed that he raised the alert level due to political pressure.

At the news conference the FBI director, Robert Mueller added that:

“We need the public, both in the United States and — I’ll emphasize — overseas to be on the lookout for these seven individuals. We want to know whether you’ve seen them in your communities, or that someone might be hiding them. If you have any idea where they might be, we need you to come forward.” (emphasis added) (CNN)

It was in this context and in response to these specific calls by the heads of government law enforcement agencies that MPAC decided to hold its own press conference announcing a national campaign to end terrorism.

MPAC was responding to a situation in which Muslim Americans were under intense scrutiny to prove they were loyal to the United States. Islamophobic narratives that are still common and widespread found ample breathing room in 2004. Maleiha Malek, quoting Field writes, “there has been an increased ‘tendency to criticize the inactivity of the Muslim population as a whole, and not just its leaders,’ arising from a belief that the ‘Muslim community had not done enough to prevent support in its midst.’” (Malik, Maleiha. Anti-Muslim Prejudice: Past and Present. London: Routledge, 2010. Print. p.146)

our-motto-is-when-they-go-low-we-go-high-5542974Fast-forwarding to today, when you analyze the track record of the Obama administration you see that he has continued and escalated the “War on Terror,” even if the language used to describe it has softened. Is it any wonder then that Homeland, a popular TV series, which plays on the simplified complex representation of Muslims, and the bifurcation of Muslims into the categories of either “good and bad” was at one time Obama’s favorite TV show?

The prevalence of Islamophobia, so fully on display during this presidential campaign season, is not simply a right-wing phenomenon. Obama administration-led initiatives, such as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) are meant to co-opt Muslim communities and leaders into a program designed to sell war efforts while proclaiming to help Muslim Americans “fight radicalization.”

Arun Kundnani has shown that CVE is an outgrowth of the UK’s failed neo-con PREVENT program. It also has the contradictory effect of dangerously violating the ‘separation of religion and state,’ since the government is putting itself in the position of adjudicating what is “good, moderate Islam,” (Muslims uncritical or supportive of government policy) and “bad, radical Islam” (Muslims critical of government policies). (Spooked! How Not To Prevent Violent Extremism)

Relief from viewing the Muslim community and Islam through a politicized discourse revolving around ‘securitization’ will not be found in a Hillary Clinton presidency. Barack Obama’s presidency is going to be considered a honeymoon for Muslim Americans when hawkish Hillary takes over.

As indicated by troubling statements/positions by Bill Clinton and Hillary herself, Muslim Americans are accepted into the fabric of society on the condition that they offer their bodies and lives on the “frontlines” of the greater project to sustain American imperialism abroad and social control at home by policing their own communities.

Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders says race hate trial is 'travesty'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 October, 2016 - 09:26

Anti-Islam politician faces charges of inciting racial hatred over his comments about Moroccans living in the Netherlands

The Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders says he will refuse to attend his trial next week on charges of inciting racial hatred, dubbing the hearing “a travesty”.

“It is my right and my duty as a politician to speak about the problems in our country,” Wilders said on Friday, renewing accusations that it was “a political trial” and insisting: “I have said nothing wrong.”

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Fear and loathing on the streets: the Soldiers of Odin and the rise of vigilantes | Jason Wilson

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 October, 2016 - 04:47

Far right groups are gaining a global foothold because they echo mainstream discourse which has shrunk the political horizon to issues of border paranoia, terror, and security

In 2016, hate travels fast. News that the Soldiers of Odin were conducting vigilante patrols in Melbourne’s CBD coincided with reports of renewed activity by the group in Canada, a widening presence in the United States, as well as ongoing incidents at their point of origin, in Europe.

The group was founded in Finland in late 2015 by Mika Ranta, who has a long history as a white supremacist activist. Members of the group in Finland are allegedly responsible for the murder of a young anti-racist activist. This year the group has exploded, in Europe and internationally. It’s growth in the United States has been so rapid that the Anti Defamation League was moved to issue a special report on the group, which it described as an “anti-refugee vigilante group”.

Related: Why are we surprised by every populist politician? Voting for them can be a rational choice | Jason Wilson

Related: Extremist militias recruiting in fear of Clinton winning election, activists say

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Muslim Players To Watch This NBA Season

Muslim Matters - 27 October, 2016 - 18:45

Ummah Sports

If you threw up your hands in frustration, swore off the NBA this past summer and haven't paid attention since then, you may be surprised to learn that the league is still up and running after Tuesday's regular-season openers.

Back in July, when former league MVP Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors as a free agent, there was a loud segment of fans and media that predictably overreacted and declared the NBA dead and buried.

By adding one of the league's best players to one of the league's best teams, the Warriors had allegedly stacked the deck and were now playing unfair. They had allegedly made all but a couple of the league's 30 teams irrelevant and incapable of truly competing for a championship.

Parity no longer existed. Competitiveness was a thing of the past. The NBA was finished, and KD drove in the final nail.

Thing is, we'd heard this same kind of morbid diagnosis six years ago, back when LeBron James and Chris Bosh left Cleveland and Toronto, respectively, to join Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. That collaborative power move created what became known as a “super-team,” and it was — like Durant going to Golden State — also viewed at the time as something that would destroy the league as we'd known it.

And yet here we are today, and the NBA is not only surviving, but thriving.

Television ratings are up, jerseys and sneakers and other merchandise is still flying off the shelves, league and team revenues are skyrocketing — just look at some of the huge contracts that were signed in free agency this past summer.

There have been five different NBA champions in the six years since LeBron and Bosh's 2010 move, so parity is apparently still a thing.

And what happened on this season's opening night? Durant and the Warriors were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs. So contrary to earlier reports, there are some teams out there who can beat the Bay Area's super-team.

Another team that could pose a challenge to the Warriors is Durant's former team, the OKC Thunder. While they're obviously less talented without Durant, OKC is still a threat led by superstar point guard and MVP candidate Russell Westbrook.

Two of Westbrook's teammates and possible Thunder starters are Muslim: center Enes Kanter and forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Both players are of Turkish origin and both played professionally in Turkey earlier in their careers. While Ilyasova has not been very public about his faith, Kanter is perhaps the league's most outspoken Muslim player when it comes to religious and cultural issues.

Kanter used social media to both support fellow Muslim NBA player Dion Waiters and educate the public about Islam in the aftermath of a 2014 incident in which Waiters was (wrongly) reported to be sitting out the U.S. national anthem due to his Islamic beliefs.

Kanter has also helped introduce some members of the NBA fraternity and the NBA fan base to halal food.

And unfortunately, Kanter headlines this offseason when he revealed that he had received death threats due to his criticisms of the Turkish government. There were also reports that Kanter's family in Turkey had disowned him over these politics, and that Kanter was considering changing his last name.

Kanter, Ilyasova and Waiters are three of the almost dozen Muslim players who are on NBA rosters as the league's 2016-17 season gets underway:

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Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu

Small Forward / Power Forward
Portland Trail Blazers

Aminu was supposed to play for the Nigerian national team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. But he pulled out on the eve of the Games, reportedly due to the Nigerian sports federation being unable or unwilling to insure his NBA contract.

Totally understandable from a business perspective, but that decision probably cost Aminu some fans in his parents' native country. It certainly cost Nigeria its best chance to make some noise in the Olympic tournament.

Aminu now turns his focus to helping the Blazers make some noise in the NBA's tough Western Conference.

In his first season with Portland (his fourth NBA team since being drafted 8th overall in 2010), Aminu averaged a career-high 10.2 points per game to go with 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals. The Blazers were one of the league's surprise playoff teams and advanced to the conference semifinals before losing to the Warriors. In that series, Aminu stepped his game up from the regular season and averaged 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Now entrenched as an important part of the Blazers' foundation, Aminu has been picked by some league analysts as a player poised to have a breakout season.

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Omer Asik

Omer Asik

New Orleans Pelicans

It seemed like every player on the Pelicans missed a significant portion of last season with one injury or another. By missing “only” 14 games with a calf strain, Asik was something of an iron man by NOLA standards. His 64 starts (in 68 appearances) were the most of anybody on the team, even more than superstar power forward Anthony Davis, whose injuries limited him to 61 starts.

Asik also led the Pelicans in field-goal percentage last season, connecting on 53.3 percent of his shots. That number is so high mostly because Asik doesn't shoot the ball often. When he does, it's usually on a put-back of an offensive rebound or when a teammate finds him open right in front of the rim.

Defense and rebounding (6.1 rpg) are Asik's calling cards. The 30-year-old from Turkey has carved a niche in the NBA as an enforcer / “dirty work” complement to All-Star big men such as Joakim Noah in Chicago, Dwight Howard in Houston, and now Davis in New Orleans.

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Gorgui Dieng

Gorgui Dieng

Center / Power Forward
Minnesota Timberwolves

If Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns is supposed to be the next Tim Duncan, Dieng would do pretty well for himself to emulate a late-career version of David Robinson, the other half of the Spurs' “Twin Towers” tandem with Duncan.

Double-digit points, seven or eight rebounds, and doing whatever else it takes to help KAT shine on the front line will earn Dieng long-term job security in the league. Matching last season's stat line of 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game as a part-time starter would be great for the 6-foot-11 Dieng.

Dieng started at center in Minnesota's season opener, with Towns at power forward. Between now and the end of the season Dieng could also find himself playing power forward, with Towns at center. The Wolves are a young team trying to find its identity in the wake of franchise cornerstone Kevin Garnett's retirement, so roles are still being defined.

Whatever his role may be, Dieng will be an impact player for the up-and-coming Wolves with his rebounding, defense and underrated passing skills.

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Kenneth Faried

Kenneth Faried

Power Forward
Denver Nuggets

Last season was supposed to be the one in which Faried made the leap from All-Star potential to All-Star production. And so was the season before that. In fact, I wrote almost exactly that same opening sentence about Faried in this space one year ago, and the leap still hasn't happened.

Faried was good last season. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.7 rebounds, almost exactly the same numbers he put up the previous year. But the Nuggets again weren't within shouting distance of a playoff spot, and Faried's name again popped up in trade rumors constantly.

As he enters his sixth NBA season, Faried (again) seems to be at a make-or-break time crossroads. Will he establish himself as an untouchable (i.e., un-trade-able) piece of Denver's rebuilding project, or will the Nuggets send the 26-year-old and his sizable salary somewhere else to focus on their younger players? Denver head coach Mike Malone has already changed Faried's role, deciding to bring him off the bench as the sixth man.

Faried's boundless energy, uncommon athleticism and marketable, fan-friendly persona should make him attractive to just about any team in the league if they're willing to pay the price. They, like the Nuggets, are surely waiting to see if or when Faried will put it all together and begin fulfilling his potential to be great.

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Ersan Ilyasova

Ersan Ilyasova

Small Forward / Power Forward
Oklahoma City Thunder

Ilyasova is on his third team in the last year. In June of 2015, he was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Detroit Pistons. Despite starting every game for Detroit (an eventual playoff team) through the first half of the season, Ilyasova was traded to the Orlando Magic and finished the season coming off the bench for a Lottery team.

Then in June of 2016, Orlando traded Ilyasova (10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) in a draft-night deal to Oklahoma City.

Standing 6-foot-10 with a tough mindset and having developed into a good outside shooter, Ilyasova can play small forward or power forward. He is part of a three-man forward rotation with defensive stopper Andre Roberson and rookie Domantas Sabonis, and could wind spending a lot of time in Durant's old position or playing closer to the basket as a power forward.

Either way, by landing on the Thunder, Ilyasova appears poised for the first time in his NBA career to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

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Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter

Oklahoma City Thunder

Kanter averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season coming off the bench, and finished third in the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award voting. He ranked fifth in the league in offensive rebounds, fourth in field-goal percentage and was 10th in Player Efficiency Rating.

Kanter is good enough to start for about half the teams in the league, but in OKC he basically shares the center position with Steven Adams, his comedy partner in the fan-favorite duo known as “The 'Stache Brothers.” Kanter is the better offensive player, while Adams excels on defense. Although Adams starts and Kanter is the backup, Kanter only played four fewer minutes per game than Adams last regular season. That gap widened in the playoffs, however, with Adams playing about 12 minutes per game more than Kanter.

While it's common for bench players who are good enough to start to become frustrated and either ask for a trade or leave in free agency, Kanter seems happy and settled in OKC. He is entering the second year of a four-year, $70 million contract, and he has said the team's efforts to accommodate his Muslim faith have helped him feel at home.

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Salah Mejri

Salah Mejri

salah MEJRI
Dallas Mavericks

Mejri is an NBA anomaly in more ways than one.

Following a nine-year career overseas, Mejri was a 29-year-old NBA rookie last season. He is also the first-ever NBA player from Tunisia, a Muslim-majority country in North Africa.

Before coming to the NBA, the 7-foot-1 Mejri played pro ball in Tunisia, Belgium and Spain; most recently for Real Madrid in Spain's top pro league. He saw limited action with the Mavericks in his first NBA season, averaging 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds while appearing in less than half of Dallas' games.

He showed some flashes at times when he did get extended playing time, though. Mejri had three double-doubles during the season — including a 13-point, 14-rebound, 6-block stat line in a March victory over the Trail Blazers — five games with at least three blocks, and he had a 12-point, 3-block game against the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

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Jusuf Nurkic

Jusuf Nurkic

Denver Nuggets

Kenneth Faried could be traded by the Nuggets at some point this season, but the odds are slim that Denver is going to part ways with Nurkic, a 22-year-old from Bosnia & Herzegovina who has been pegged as a vital part of the team's rebuilding plan and youth movement.

Injuries limited Nurkic to just 32 games last season, in which he averaged 8.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. The highlight of his season was a 15-point, 10-rebound, 5-block effort in a January victory over the Timberwolves, where in just 22 minutes on the court Nurkic played better than Towns (the eventual NBA Rookie of the Year), Dieng and Garnett.

Like Kanter and Dieng, Nurkic is half of a twin-towers tandem with another budding young standout, 21-year-old Nikola Jokic from Sebia. In the Nuggets' season opener, Nurkic and Jokic started side-by-side.

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Dennis Schroder

Dennis Schroder

Point Guard
Atlanta Hawks

What looked like a delusional and ill-advised declaration one year ago worked out perfectly for Schroder.

In an interview with German magazine Bild prior to last season, Schroder basically said that if the Hawks weren't going to make him their starting point guard, he wanted the team to trade him. Considering that Atlanta already had a certified All-Star starting point guard in Jeff Teague who had just led the team to a 60-win season and a Southeast Division title, it seemed highly unlikely that Schroder would get that starting job. I wasn't the only person who predicted it was only a matter of time before Schroder was traded by the Hawks.

But shortly after a season in which Teague averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 assists, Schroder averaged 11.0 points and 4.4 assists, Atlanta's win total dropped from 60 to 48 and the team was swept out of the playoffs for the second year in a row by LeBron and the Cavaliers, the Hawks traded Teague to the Indiana Pacers and handed the keys to Schroder.

And then on Wednesday, Schroder and the Hawks agreed to a four-year contract extension worth a reported $70 million.

So what will the 23-year-old Schroder do now that he's officially the man in Atlanta?

Schroder is adept at getting past his defender into the lane and creating shots for himself or for his teammates. He is a long and active defender. He needs to improve his jump shot and his ability to finish when he gets to the rim, but he has serious potential to be an All-Star like Teague was for the Hawks. And he'll be getting help from 8-time All-Star center and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, whom the Hawks signed as a free agent.

Schroder is going into this season as a popular pick to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award and could even challenge for a spot in the All-Star Game.

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Mirza Teletovic

Mirza Teletovic

Small Forward / Power Forward
Milwaukee Bucks

Two seasons ago, Teletovic almost lost his basketball career and his life when he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs — the same condition that is currently this/close to ending Chris Bosh's career and nearly took the life of former college football player Shaykh Qasim Hatem.

That is almost all forgotten now, as Teletovic was medically cleared to resume his career and played all of last season for the Phoenix Suns without incident, averaging a career-high 12.2 points and hitting a career-high 39.3 percent of his three-pointers.

Over the summer, Teletovic signed a free-agent deal with the Bucks, where he'll be expected to stretch the floor as a catch-and-shoot specialist for a squad that features young and athletic offensively talented players such as Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and rookie Thon Maker.

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Dion Waiters

Dion Waiters

Shooting Guard
Miami Heat

Over the past two seasons, Waiters has played alongside some of the best scorers in the league: He was teammates with LeBron and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, then with Durant and Westbrook in OKC.

Now he is replacing another one of the league's best scorers as he assumes the Heat shooting guard job vacated by future Hall of Fame superstar Dwyane Wade.

Wade surprisingly left Miami as a free agent this past summer to sign with the Chicago Bulls. Suddenly needing to fill a huge void on the roster, the Heat signed Waiters. During a free-agency period in which salaries skyrocketed and even little-used role players were signing contracts worth tens of millions of dollars, Waiters signed an oddly modest two-year, $5.9 million deal.

But if Waiters (9.8 ppg) takes advantage of this opportunity and plays like the explosive scorer he was at Syracuse University that was picked 4th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, he'll put himself in position to sign his own massive contract soon enough.

The rule of law must apply equally, even to terrorists | Giles Fraser | Loose canon

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 October, 2016 - 17:58
The Muslim organisation, Cage, have been much derided as terrorist sympathisers, but we should applaud their fight for justice to be even-handed

When he was a child, Adnan Siddiqui would take the longer route from his home to watch Crystal Palace play football. The short route would pass The Victory pub, from which racists would jeer at him. He smiles at the thought that this same pub is now a mosque, the Thornton Heath Islamic Centre. Not that the racism has vanished from the pubs of his part of south London. Last Christmas a young Muslim was out in the pubs collecting for an African clean water charity – “trying to show people that not all Muslim people are bloody Isis” – but that made no difference to the man who punched him to the ground, racially insulting him as he fell. It was one small incident among a great many. The monitoring group Tell Mama found a whopping 326% rise in hate crime directed at Muslims in 2015. And it’s getting worse.

Dr Siddiqui is now the local GP in the area he grew up. But what he’s better known for is setting up Cage Prisoners. One of the most widely disparaged of advocacy organisations, now simply called Cage, their aim is to support those impacted by the war on terror, documenting abuses and insisting that all should have equal access to the rule of law.

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Myanmar: Director of Religious Affairs Allegedly Bans Quran Reading At Homes

Loon Watch - 26 October, 2016 - 22:39

By Emperor

The Rohingya Muslims according to experts on genocide face the “final stages of genocide.” Part and parcel of the persecution of Rohingya has been targeting their religious identity and practice. According to Rohingya activists on the ground previously this meant that the public practice and appearance of Islam was restricted, now it has been extended to religious practice at home.

One activist, Aung Aung Sittwe, has reported that the District Director of Religious Affairs in the capital city of NayPyiDaw, has instructed subordinates not to let Muslims learn the Qur’an at home any longer. How this can or will be implemented is anyone’s guess. It is, if authentic, one more salvo in the anti-Rohingya campaign led by bigoted military officials and Buddhist nationalists.

The Rohingya are not welcome in Myanmar’s public school system, among other limitations the stateless ethnic minority faces in their homeland.

Unesco adopts controversial resolution on Jerusalem holy sites

The Guardian World news: Islam - 26 October, 2016 - 14:32

Israel claims document on Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex, listing Palestinian complaints over Israeli actions, deletes Jewish ties to sites

Unesco, the UN’s world heritage organisation, has adopted a controversial resolution that criticises Israeli actions around the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem’s Old City – with Israel claiming it deletes Jewish ties to holy sites.

The final version of the resolution – which has sparked furious claims and counter-claims – passed easily on Wednesday after Israel pressed for a secret vote. Despite containing some softening of language following Israeli protests over a previous version, Israel continued to denounce the text.

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