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Poll: Americans Like Jews Most, Muslims Least

Loon Watch - 18 July, 2014 - 12:27

Anti-Muslim Hate USA

A recent Pew Poll revealed that Jews are viewed most warmly by Americans. Muslims hit rock bottom, just below atheists.

How Americans Feel About Religious Groups

Cross posted from Pew Forum

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher).

Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part.

These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 30-June 30, 2014, among 3,217 adults who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.

Both Jews and Atheists Rate Evangelicals Negatively, but Evangelicals Rate Jews Highly

Attitudes among religious groups toward each other range from mutual regard to unrequited positive feelings to mutual coldness. Catholics and evangelicals, the two largest Christian groups measured here, generally view each other warmly. White evangelical Protestants give Catholics an average thermometer rating of 63; Catholics rate evangelicals at 57. Evangelicals also hold very positive views of Jews, with white evangelical Protestants giving Jews an average thermometer rating of 69. Only Jews themselves rate Jews more positively. But that warmth is not mutual: despite evangelicals’ warm feelings toward Jews, Jews tend to give evangelicals a much cooler rating (34 on average).

Christians and Jews Are Rated More Favorably by Older Americans Than by Younger People; Other Non-Christian Faiths Are Rated More Positively by Younger People

Christian groups and Jews receive higher ratings from older Americans (those ages 65 and older) than from younger Americans. By contrast, other non-Christian groups receive their highest ratings from younger Americans. Adults under the age of 30, for instance, give Muslims a neutral rating of 49, on average, whereas older adults give Muslims significantly more negative ratings (42 among those ages 30-49, 36 on average among those 50-64, and 32 among those 65 and older).

These patterns may partly reflect that there are more Christians among older Americans than among younger people. In Pew Research surveys conducted this year, fully 85% of Americans ages 65 and older describe themselves as Christians, compared with just 59% among adults under 30 (32% of whom identify as religious “nones”).

Jews Rated Most Positively by Whites; Evangelicals and Muslims Viewed More Favorably by Blacks than Whites

Jews receive their most positive ratings from whites, who give them an average rating of 66. Jews also are rated favorably by blacks and Hispanics (with each group giving Jews an average rating of 58). Evangelicals also are rated positively by all three groups, with their highest average rating coming from blacks (68). Muslims receive a neutral rating from blacks (49 on average), but they are rated more negatively by whites (38). Hispanics’ ratings of Muslims fall in between (43).

These findings may reflect the racial and ethnic composition of religious groups. Many blacks describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, for instance, and 23% of Muslims in the U.S. are black, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2011 survey of Muslim Americans. Fully 94% of U.S. Jews are white, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 survey of U.S. Jews.

Politics and Religion: Partisans’ Views of Religious Groups
Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party tend to rate evangelicals very positively (71 on average). They also express warm feelings toward Jews (67 on average) and Catholics (66). The warmth Republicans feel for evangelicals may reflect the fact that many Republicans and Republican leaners are themselves evangelicals. Among those who are not evangelical Christians, evangelicals receive an average rating of 62. Mormons receive a neutral rating from Republicans and Republican leaners (52 on average), while Buddhists receive a rating of 49 and Hindus a rating of 47. Republicans and Republican leaners view atheists and Muslims much more negatively than they view other religious groups.

Democrats and Democratic leaners express warm feelings toward Jews (average rating of 62) and Catholics (61). Buddhists also are rated favorably (57 on average) by Democrats. Evangelicals receive an average rating of 53 from all Democrats and Democratic leaners, but this drops to 45 among those who are not evangelicals themselves. With the exception of Jews, all of the non-Christian groups asked about receive warmer ratings from Democrats and Democratic leaners than they do from Republicans.

Familiarity With People of Different Faiths

Fully 87% of U.S. adults (including 85% of non-Catholics) say they personally know someone who is Catholic. And seven-in-ten people (including 63% of non-evangelicals) say they know someone who is an evangelical Christian. Because Catholics and evangelical Christians are such large groups, it is to be expected that most people would know someone from these groups.

Most Americans also say they know someone who is Jewish (61%) or an atheist (59%), even though these groups are much smaller than Catholics and evangelical Christians; roughly 2% of U.S. adults identify religiously as Jewish, and a little more than 2% identify as atheists. Other small groups are less familiar to most Americans. For example, 44% of Americans say they know someone who is Mormon, and 38% say they know someone who is Muslim. Mormons constitute about 2% of the U.S. adult population, and Muslims roughly 1%. Roughly one-in-four adults or fewer say they know a Buddhist (23%) or Hindu (22%); these groups each account for roughly 1% or less of the overall population.
Knowing someone from a religious group is linked with having relatively more positive views of that group. Those who say they know someone who is Jewish, for example, give Jews an average thermometer rating of 69, compared with a rating of 55 among those who say they do not know anyone who is Jewish. Atheists receive a neutral rating of 50, on average, from people who say they personally know an atheist, but they receive a cold rating of 29 from those who do not know an atheist. Similarly, Muslims get a neutral rating (49 on average) from those who know a Muslim, and a cooler rating (35) from those who do not know a Muslim.

Read the full report here.

The Trojan horse inquirys draft report shows Michael Gove had to go | Hugh Muir

The Guardian World news: Islam - 18 July, 2014 - 10:01
It was Goves determination to shake up the educational blob that allowed ideologues to target Birmingham schools

A eureka moment. We spent 48 hours trying to understand why the prime minister was so easily able to abandon his friend, Michael Gove, and to park him not as party chairman, where he would have a primary role to drum up votes for the Tories, but as chief whip with internal responsibilities. We will be seeing him everywhere, in the flesh and on TV, and hearing him on the radio, it was said. After todays damning draft report on the alleged infiltration on his watch of Birmingham schools by ideologues and zealots, one wouldnt bet too much on him being omnipresent.

For the draft report, leaked to the Guardian, makes it clear that in his zeal to attack the blob, as he called the teaching establishment, he crafted and then lauded structures that paved the way for the virtual capture of a clutch of schools by extremists. Not terrorists. The review finds no evidence of terrorist proslytising or links to terrorist activity. But it claims to have unearthed ample evidence that schools were targeted by groups whose allegiance was to the propagation of their own particular strand of Sunni Islam and antipathetic to the beliefs and values of everyone who existed outside their own circle.

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Friday Links | July 18, 2014

Muslimah Media Watch - 18 July, 2014 - 07:00
July 11 was World Population Day, and for this occasion IPS featured an article on early marriage and teen pregnancy in Pakistan. Meanwhile rights activists in Pakistan are fighting a losing battle to end child marriages, which affects both girls and boys. The BBC speaks to several female Kurdish fighters, who are taking on ISIS [Read More...]

Trojan horse inquiry: 'A co-ordinated agenda to impose hardline Sunni Islam'

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2014 - 19:21
Investigation finds Islamist plan would have confined pupils in Birmingham schools to 'intolerant monoculture' if left unchecked

An investigation ordered by the government has found a "sustained, co-ordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam" on children in a number of Birmingham schools.

A draft of the report, marked as sensitive, states: "Left unchecked, it would confine school hildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain."

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Leaked report reveals 'aggressive Islamist agenda' in Birmingham schools

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2014 - 19:21
Exclusive: Draft report from 'Trojan horse' inquiry uncovers evidence of coordinated plan to impose hardline Sunni Islam

Trojan horse inquiry: 'A coordinated agenda to impose hardline Sunni Islam'

A damning report into extremist infiltration of Birmingham schools has uncovered evidence of "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city".

The conclusion emerges from a leaked draft of a report, commissioned by the former education secretary Michael Gove and written by Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan police's counterterrorism command, which is due to be published in the next 24 hours.

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British Jihadis' threat to UK is exaggerated, says report

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2014 - 16:48
British Jihadis are motivated by wanting to topple Bashar Assad dictatorship in Syria says group critical of British counterterrorism policy

Government and security officials have greatly exaggerated the dangers of British men fighting in Syria and returning to stage terrorist attacks in the UK, a report claims.

Most British "Jihadis" are motivated by wanting to topple the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad, says the report by Cage, a group critical of British government counterterrorism policy.

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Jihad, justice and the American way: is this a model for fair terrorism trials? | Sadhbh Walshe

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 July, 2014 - 15:19

The government stokes fear and fails to understand the Muslim world. But inside at least one courtroom remains an unusual precedent: context can be served

Plus: Briton Babar Ahmad gets 12 years for aiding Taliban

Sitting and waiting in US District Court here on Wednesday, you got the undeniable sense that something unusual was about to happen.

Here was the end of a terrorism trial with two men who had already pled guilty the British citizen Babar Ahmad to providing material support for terrorism by way of administering a website that called on Muslims to devote themselves to jihad, which he did, and the British-born Talha Ahsan to helping him, despite being a mailman for the site for five months in 2001 but both of whom still looked nervous in that familiar shackle-and-jumpsuit uniform of so many Muslim foreigners in this country over the past 13 years.

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What Is It like To Be Muslim In Britain Today? | The Guardian

Muslim Matters - 17 July, 2014 - 05:00

The Guardian is currently running a project on the experiences of Muslims in Britain. They asked the British members of the MuslimMatters team to respond as well as writers from other prominent blogs. 

Ed Note: We are thrilled that answers by MM writers Hira and Dr Wajid were featured in the Guardian:

4. What are the worst aspects of being a Muslim in Britain today? 

Hira ameen, 27 lives in London. She is completing a PhD at Cambridge University about islamic revivalism and the migration of South Asian Muslims to the UK. Hira writes for Muslim Matters, a collaboration between bloggers and Shuyukh – muslim scholars and leaders – to bring attention to issues affecting Muslims in the West.

The condescending remarks I receive for following a religion. I have actually had people say to me: “I don't believe in religion, I believe in science.” As if I believe in Mickey Mouse! Just because I believe in God does not make me a less rational human being. The prevalent belief that science answers all questions is astonishing. As western philosophers of science point out, science cannot answer questions surrounding the issues of morality, meaning and purpose. Science can only study the physical world, not the metaphysical. Religious people do not reject science; we believe there is more to life than just physical matter. It is interesting to note that this issue is specifically European, as the US – the most practising Christian country in the industrialised world – has greater respect for religion.

8. What contributions do you think Muslims have made to British society?

Muhammad Akhter, 32, is a doctor in Essex. When he isn't treating patients or blogging for Muslim Matters about Islamic history, he collects space memorabilia.

Muslims have made contributions to British society in many ways: ­ culinary, fashion, economic and medical. Yet this is still a young community finding its feet. We have many internal problems to contend with (illiteracy, sectarianism and identity crises to mention a few) and a few external ones that have a tendency to grab the headlines. None are insurmountable, but sometimes they can feel that way.

The Muslim community can be an innovative, socially conscious and energising presence in British society, creating and developing deep links to many of the rapidly growing economies of the world. On the other hand, it could slide into being a persecuted, marginalised and mistrusted minority that is a drain on resources and social cohesion. How things turn out will depend not only on whether we are able to move forward in a way that allows us to remain true to our faith and still be productive British citizens, but also on whether the wider community will allow us the time and space to do so.

The full article can be found here: http://goo.gl/AqlZtA

However, this project is not over and the Guardian is still looking for British Muslims to take part. If you would like to contribute please answer two of the following questions in 150 words and submit it using the form at the bottom of the Guardian article. Personal experiences and examples are particularly encouraged.

1) Do you consider yourself to be a Muslim? If so, what does it mean to you to be Muslim?

2) Did you convert to Islam? Did this affect your understanding and experience of British society?

3) What are the best aspects of being a Muslim in Britain today?

4) What are the worst aspects of being a Muslim in Britain today?

5) How do you feel the media depicts Muslims and Islam and how does this affect you?

6) Do you think there are misconceptions about Islam in the British media and if so, what are they?

7) Have you ever experienced intolerance or abuse in Britain because you are a muslim?

8) What contributions do you think Muslims have made to British society?

9) Do you consider yourself to be British? Why or why not?

 

 

The post What Is It like To Be Muslim In Britain Today? | The Guardian appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

White House Iftar dinner guests press Obama on surveillance of Muslims

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 July, 2014 - 17:56

Days after revelations that Muslim activists targeted for surveillance, president gathered community leaders for Ramadan meal

Attendees of a White House dinner this week celebrating a Muslim holiday attempted to leverage their direct interaction with Barack Obama into a presidential commitment to discuss widespread and controversial surveillance of their communities.

They left feeling they had Obama's interest, but not much more.

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We single Israel out because we in the west are shamefully complicit in its crimes

Mahdi Hassan - 16 July, 2014 - 17:45

The assault on Gaza has been a humanitarian disaster, yet the west's staunch support for Israel continues.

 GettyPalestinian firefighters survey the scene of a house destroyed during an Israeli strike. Photo: Getty

Seventeen members of a single family wiped out in a missile strike. A centre for disabled people bombed. Schools and mosques attacked. Operation Protective Edge has been a humanitarian disaster for the residents of Gaza. This, apparently, is how Israel defines “self-defence”.

The experts disagree. The UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, has said the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza raises “serious doubt . . . whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law”. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have gone further, urging the hapless president, Mahmoud Abbas, to make the Palestinian Authority join the International Criminal Court and bring war crimes charges against Israel.

For its many supporters in the west, Israel is being unfairly singled out for criticism. As the country’s former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami angrily said to me in an interview for al-Jazeera English in 2013: “You are trying to turn Israel into a special case.”

According to the likes of Ben-Ami, there are much more vile regimes, and more violent groups, elsewhere in the world. Why pick on plucky Israel? What about the Chinas, Russias, Syrias, Saudi Arabias, Irans, Sudans and Burmas? Where are the protests against Isis, Boko Haram or the Pakistani Taliban?

There are various possible responses to such attempts at deflection. First, does Israel really want to be held to the standards of the world’s worst countries? Doesn’t Israel claim to be a liberal democracy, the “only” one in the Middle East?

Second, isn’t this “whataboutery” of the worst sort? David Cameron told those of us who opposed the Nato intervention in Libya in 2011: “The fact that you cannot do the right thing everywhere does not mean that you should not do the right thing somewhere.” Well, quite. And the same surely applies to criticism of Israel – that we cannot, or do not, denounce every other human-rights-abusing regime on earth doesn’t automatically mean we are therefore prohibited from speaking out against Israel’s abuses in Gaza and the West Bank. (Nor, for that matter, does the presence of a small minority among the Jewish state’s critics who are undoubtedly card-carrying anti-Semites.)

Trying to hide Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians behind, say, Syria’s barrel bombs, China’s forced labour camps or Russia’s persecution of gays won’t wash. After all, on what grounds did we “single out” apartheid South Africa in the 1980s for condemnation and boycott? Weren’t there other, more dictatorial regimes in Africa at the time, those run by black Africans such as Mengistu in Ethiopia or Mobutu in Zaire? Did we dare excuse the crimes of white Afrikaners on this basis?

Taking a moral stand inevitably requires us to be selective, specific and, yes, even inconsistent. “Some forms of injustice bother [people] more than others,” wrote Peter Beinart, the author of The Crisis of Zionism, in December 2013. “The roots of this inconsistency may be irrational, even disturbing, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t act against the abuses they care about most.”

Third, Israel is “singled out” today, but by its friends and not just by its enemies. It has been singled out for unparalleled support – financial, military, diplomatic – by the western powers. It is indeed, to quote Ben-Ami, a “special case”.

Which other country is in receipt of $3bn a year in US aid, despite maintaining a 47-year military occupation in violation of international law? Which other country has been allowed to develop and stockpile nuclear weapons in secret?

Which other country’s prime minister could “humiliate” – to quote the newspaper Ma’ariv – a sitting US vice-president on his visit to Israel in March 2010, yet still receive 29 standing ovations from Congress on his own visit to the US a year later? And which other country is the beneficiary of comically one-sided resolutions on Capitol Hill, in which members of Congress fall over each other to declare their undying love and support for Israel – by 410 to eight, or 352 to 21, or 390 to five?

Indeed, which other country has been protected from UN Security Council censure by the US deployment of an astonishing 42 vetoes? For the record, the number of US vetoes exercised at the UN on behalf of Israel is greater than the number of vetoes exercised by all other UN member states on all other issues put together. Singling out, anyone?

Fourth, the inconvenient truth is that we in the west can happily decry the likes of, say, Assad or Ayatollah Khamenei yet we can do little to influence their actual behaviour. Have sanctions stopped Assad’s killing machine? Or Iran’s nuclear programme? In contrast, we have plenty of leverage over Israel – from trade deals to arms sales to votes at the UN. Israel is our special friend, our close ally.

Yet when Israel started bombing Gaza this month, claiming it was acting in response to incoming rocket fire and was trying to kill Hamas operatives, Cameron merely “reiterated the UK’s staunch support for Israel” and “underlined Israel’s right to defend itself”. And the hundreds of Palestinian dead? Didn’t they have a right to self- defence? There was not a word from our PM. This, ultimately, is the fundamental difference when it comes to comparing Israel’s abuses with those of other “rogue” nations. We single out Israel because, shamefully, we are complicit in its crimes. 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the political director of the Huffington Post UK, where this column is crossposted

ACT! for America Launching Campus Chapters As ‘Counterweight’ To Muslim Student Associations

Loon Watch - 16 July, 2014 - 17:41

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel

(h/t:LiesYouTell)

ACT! for America Launching Campus Chapters As ‘Counterweight’ To Muslim Student Associations

Miranda Blue (RightWingWatch)

Anti-Muslim groups have long been convinced that campus Muslim Student Associations have radical, sinister intentions…although at least one recent effort to find evidence of this came up comically short.

Now, Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! for America is hoping to fight Muslim Student Associations by launching campus chapters of her own group to serve as a “counterweight” to MSAs.

In a fundraising email today, Gabriel asks for money for scholarships to help college students come to her group’s annual conference and prepare them “to launch an ACT for America chapter at their university and start recruiting more students to get involved in protecting America.”

“It’s time the Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) in colleges across the nation have a counterweight,” she adds.

We want to be able to scholarship these young Americans and offer them the chance at experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime event – especially this year, as we gather to remember and honor the 9/11 fallen. This experience will also prepare college students to launch an ACT for America chapter at their university and start recruiting more students to get involved in protecting America. It’s time the Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) in colleges across the nation have a counterweight. You can help get this ball rolling.

Attendance at the 2014 ACT for America National Conference will be the event that will impress upon this younger generation the urgency of protecting our nation’s future.

A few years ago, an ACT! for America tried to get UCLA to ban its Muslim Student Association , although Gabriel tried to distance herself from the campaign once it started drawing attention.

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/act-america-launching-campus-chapters-counterweight-muslim-student-associations#sthash.ZFFJRplO.dpuf

Paris: Pro-Palestine Protestors Were Attacked by the Zionist Fascist Jewish Defence League

Loon Watch - 16 July, 2014 - 17:23

JDL_France

It was reported quite extensively in international media that violent pro-Palestinian mobs of French Arab and Muslim demonstrators rampaged through Paris. However, the fact that violence at one major demonstration was initiated by the JDL, a fascist terrorist organization inspired by the thought of Rabbi Meir Kahane has received scant coverage.

The media is too interested in stigmatizing French Muslims and Arabs to report facts. Despite the sensational headline in the Daily Mail, it is ironic that they are one of the few media outlets that as of yet have reported this story. (h/t: Mark M.)

Who will hold the media to account? Who will hold the French establishment responsible?

Shocking scenes as 150 Jewish men go on rampage in Paris streets and clash with pro-Palestinian demonstrators (Daily Mail)

A group of 150 Jewish men were seen brandishing iron bars and cans of pepper spray as they clashed with Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Paris.

Video footage of the clashes show the group chanting racist slogans as they roamed the streets.

It came as President Francois Hollande warned that he did not want to see ‘the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imported into France’.

French Jewish groups have complained about an increase in anti-Semitism in recent months, with many accusing Muslim youths of targeting them. But a video shot close to the Place de la Bastille on Sunday, and verified by police before being posted on YouTube, appears to show pro-Israel groups are also actively involved in clashes.

In Paris, CRS riot police did not arrest any of the group, thought to be linked to the Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight.

In the video, those amongst the group can be heard chanting ‘**** you Palestine’ as they smash up chairs and metal tables to be used as missiles.

CRS riot police did not arrest any members of the rampaging group, thought to be linked to the extremist Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight

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CRS riot police did not arrest any members of the rampaging group, thought to be linked to the extremist Jewish Defence League, despite them openly fighting in broad daylight

The group were carrying gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks, and some wore crash helmets while others simply covered their faces

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The group were carrying gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks, and some wore crash helmets while others simply covered their faces

The men are armed with gas canisters, pepper spray, metal bars and wooden sticks and some wear crash helmets.

The video shows the men running towards pro-Palestinian demonstrators, before skirmishes break out.

Six pro-Palestinian demonstrators were arrested on Sunday, accused of trying to break into two Paris synagogues. Two Jewish men were reportedly injured.

A protester wearing a gas mask holds a fake rocket during protests in Paris over the weekend

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A protester wearing a gas mask holds a fake rocket during protests in Paris over the weekend

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators were said to have tried to break into two Paris synagogues on Sunday which resulted in six arrests and two Jewish men being injured

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators were said to have tried to break into two Paris synagogues on Sunday which resulted in six arrests and two Jewish men being injured

In the wake of the clashes Mr Hollande said the country will ‘redouble vigilance’.

He was due to meet the head of Jewish umbrella group CRIF today.

Alexis Bachelay, a Paris MP for the ruling Socialist party, said: ‘There has evidently been a media manipulation about who really got assaulted.

‘These are extremely serious facts that need to be investigated thoroughly by the police. It is not the first time that young French people of Muslim origin are stigmatised by the media.

‘French people of Muslim origin should be protected by the law when demonstrating. They should not be attacked by radical groups like the LDJ’.

Why I fasted for peace in the Middle East | Margaret Jacobi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 July, 2014 - 13:03
As a Progressive Jew I dont normally keep the fast, but yesterday there was ample cause for mourning: the loss of life in Israel and Palestine

Like many people Jews and non-Jews alike I have been watching the events in Israel and Gaza unfold with horror. I am shocked at the deaths of so many Palestinians. At the same time, I feel for Israelis who are living in fear, with continual shelling. How can one respond in the face of all the complexities?

So when I received an email from Yachad, a British Jewish organisation that campaigns for peace through a two-state solution, about a worldwide fast to mourn the loss of life and express our hope for peace, it felt like the right thing to do. I had already been contemplating fasting. Along with other faith leaders, I was invited last night to an Iftar, the breaking of the days Ramadan fast, at Birmingham Central Mosque. It would have felt wrong to be breaking a fast without fasting.

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I

Muslimah Media Watch - 16 July, 2014 - 07:00
This post was written by Brooke Benoit and originally published on her blog. This Ramadan is hard. Right smack in the middle of summer, these are the longest fasts of my Muslim life, it’s hot, and the kids are home all day. Well, my kids are always home all day, but I’m sure that’s an [Read More...]

Spying on American Muslim Leaders Betrays Advocates of Civic Engagement

Muslim Matters - 16 July, 2014 - 05:29

Up until last week, Malcolm X was the most well-known American Muslim leader to have been spied on by the American government. For a man who gave his life fighting for civil liberties, he would be shocked to learn that little has changed for dissenting voices, even perceived ones, fifty years after his assassination. New revelations on government spying in a report by The Intercept revealed five notable Muslim leaders who have been under NSA and FBI surveillance. The report highlights that these individuals were spied despite their civic engagement, public service and lack of a criminal record.

Amongst the most striking revelations is that these Americans were spied under the secretive proceedings of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts. FISA is intended to target foreign nationals who are suspected of participating in terrorist activity; the only exception is when the agents can convince the clandestine courts that an American citizen is involved in foreign suspects. The five individuals spied on are US citizens who have not been charged with terrorism and vehemently deny any allegations of involvement.

The high public profiles of those revealed in this report is particularly telling. Most well known amongst them is Nihad Awad, co-founder and executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR's outstanding civil liberties work, especially post 9/11, has made it one of the most trusted and valued institutions in the American Muslim community. CAIR has worked extensively to encourage civil engagement and public service amongst Muslims – if its personnel can be subject to spying as if they were foreign terrorists, what does that say about the rest of us? If CAIR can't be trusted then who's left?

It seems that even working closely with the government and running for public office doesn't get you off-the hook. Faisal Gill joined the Department of Homeland Security as a senior policy adviser for the Bush Administration. He was able to receive some of the highest levels of security clearance where his eyes had access to some of the nation's most closely held secrets. Gill also secured the Republican nomination for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007, the year when the government began spying on him.

The discrimination and racism underlying the spying programs of the US government and affiliated agencies are manifestly evident at this point in time.

These revelations are a new addition to the long list which includes things like the surveillance of MSA's, infiltration of places of worship by 'mosque crawlers' and the fake terror plots of paid informants. The repeated behavior of treating an entire community as potential terrorists and threats to national security is sickening. The spying conducted in this case was for activities that are protected by the First Amendment; they are therefore in flagrant violation of some of the most basic rights of an American citizen.

Particularly eye-opening is the bigoted and hawkish culture of the intelligence community which has been highlighted in the Intercept's report. John Guandolo, a former counter-terrorism agent, was asked about the five men in question. He responded with uncorroborated accusations and highlighted his belief that these men were part of a Muslim conspiracy to infiltrate and topple the United States from within. Earlier, Guandalo also stated on a radio show that CIA director John Brennan secretly converted to Islam and is an instrument of Saudi intelligence.

Also exposed in the story was NSA's usage of derogatory terms such as 'raghead' to refer to potential targets. In addition, the role of the Islamophobic activists such as Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes is deeply troubling. It appears that an internet campaign run by one of these repugnant characters is sufficient ground for the FBI to open a file on an individual. The fact that government would take seriously vitriol from these xenophobic groups furthers hints at sympathizers of this thought within the spy agencies.

Muslim political activists and leaders are not the only ones caught up in NSA's web of surveillance. As outlined by the Washington Post last week, the NSA intercepted and spied on tens of thousand of private emails of users. Innocuous pictures, emails and private conversations were stored as 'incidental collection' by the NSA – collateral damage in other words.

Again, it is striking that most examples outlined in the Post's report are those of Muslim users. For example, they included the deeply private conversations of Muslim girl who was considering for marriage a jihadist wannabe.

Spying on Muslim leaders by the FBI and NSA is a major blow to relations between the government and the Muslim community. It is particularly heart breaking to see individuals who worked hard to foster civic engagement getting back stabbed. The seeds of mistrust planted in the wake of 9/11 have further taken root in the soil of ignorance. Under Bush, and now Obama, we have seen a return to the dark McCarthyism-style fear mongering and suspicion. This represents a major setback for civil liberties and puts a question mark on the progress made in the past several decades.

It will take years, if not decades, to rebuild the trust tarnished by these spying programs. American Muslims deserve an apology for starters; there needs to be more transparency on the secretive operation of the FISA courts and, more importantly, a scaling back of the hokey schemes that violate our sanctified right to privacy.

The post Spying on American Muslim Leaders Betrays Advocates of Civic Engagement appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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