Larry McQuilliams: According to Media He’s a “Gunman,” Not A “Terrorist”

Loon Watch - 1 December, 2014 - 02:10


“Terrorism” is a meaningless word, in our day and age it essentially translates to “Muslim” in most people’s mind. That is why an individual such as Larry McQuilliams, who attempted to burn down the Mexican consulate and attacked Austin police with gunfire, can be described simply as a “gunman” and not a “terrorist.” This, despite the fact that his attack was described as “politically motivated,”

USA Today says the situation appears to be a politically-motivated attack that is anti-government and linked to immigration.

White guys who aren’t Muslim will get a pass, we know this and it will continue. What if they were Muslim?

(Reuters) – A man apparently upset about U.S. immigration policy was fatally shot on Friday after firing more than 100 rounds of ammunition at buildings including the Mexican consulate, a U.S. courthouse and police headquarters in the Texas capital, police said.

Police identified the gunman as Larry McQuilliams, 49, an Austin resident with a criminal history.

Police said they were investigating whether McQuilliams died of a self-inflicted wound or from a shot fired by a mounted officer who was bringing horses into a stable near police headquarters. No one else was injured in the incident, police said.

“The sergeant was right there getting ready to put the horses away for the night,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “As he held two horses with one hand, he discharged at least one round with a single-handed shot.”

McQuilliams also tried to set fire to the Mexican consulate, police said.

In a statement, the Mexican Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern and condemnation of the incident.”

Acevedo said the targets indicated the attack may have been over U.S. immigration policy.

“When you look at the national debate right now about immigration, that … comes to mind. Sometimes our political discourse becomes very heated and sometimes very angry,” Acevedo told reporters.

President Barack Obama this month imposed the most sweeping U.S. immigration changes in a generation, easing the threat of deportation for some 4.7 million illegal immigrants.

Police said they received a call at 2:22 a.m. about shots being fired in downtown Austin. No bombs were found on the suspect or in his vehicle, Acevedo said. Police examined McQuilliams’ home in north Austin and said “the residence has been secured and is safe.”

(Editing by Will Dunham)

Pope Francis prays alongside Grand Mufti in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

The Guardian World news: Islam - 29 November, 2014 - 20:07
Pope treads carefully in footsteps of predecessor in ‘moment of silent adoration’ to mark religious cooperation during Turkey visit

In a gesture designed to highlight his commitment to inter-faith dialogue, Pope Francis conducted a silent prayer alongside a senior Islamic cleric in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque on Saturday. Facing Mecca, Francis bowed his head in prayer for several minutes while standing next to Istanbul’s Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran. The Vatican described the gesture as a “moment of silent adoration” of God.

Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict, caused dismay among many conservative Catholics and some Muslims when he appeared to pray in the same mosque on his visit to Turkey eight years ago. The Vatican felt compelled to publish a statement saying that Benedict had merely been in meditation, though he later acknowledged that he “certainly turned his thoughts to God”.

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The stupidity of feminism part 1,553: throwing Billy-no-mates under the bus

Indigo Jo Blogs - 29 November, 2014 - 16:27

A yellow road sign showing a bus, a person with his foot out, and a person falling under the busA letter to … the girl who accused me of rape when I was 15 | Life and style | The Guardian

I knew when I saw this piece in today’s Guardian Family supplement that it would provoke a torrent of outrage from feminists that the matter of false accusations of rape by women and girls is even being discussed. (Incidentally, in the Saturday pages in the main section, there is another article on how Legal Aid Cuts are putting victims of domestic violence in danger, something the paper has covered at length.) Sure enough, within an hour I saw a series of tweets from a radical feminist claiming that what the boy did is rape even if it wasn’t, because the girl was 13 and drunk.

The tweets went:

At this point, you will notice that she ignores the fact that the boy was 15, and not in law an adult, as the words “young man” seem to imply. The article states that, in fact, both the author and the girl were drunk, as was their friend. Who was more drunk, and whether they were drunk enough to impair their liability, is not stated in the article. It could be that the girl was more drunk, or that they were all very drunk or a bit drunk. Someone (some adult) should not have allowed them access to so much alcohol, or perhaps they bought it from a shopkeeper who was negligent in selling it to them, or perhaps they stole it; we don’t know. We know that if a woman is so drunk as to be insensible, then having sex with her (regardless of one’s relationship with her) is rape, but this girl was not so drunk that she could not remember it only a few hours later. Her contention appears to have been not that it was rape because she was 13 and drunk, but that he actually raped her. Note: that word ‘raped’ I used was English, not legalese.

Neither can 15-year-olds, male or female, and the 2003 Sexual Offences Act removed the anachronistic doctrine that it was always the male that was committing the crime, whether or not he was below the age of consent or indeed younger than the female. The Victorians did not even consider the possibility that a 13-year-old boy would want to have sex, or that any female would want to have sex with him. We know that the girl was a year and four months younger than the boy. He was probably the year above her at school; as he was in care, however, his education may have been sufficiently disrupted that he was in the same year as she was. As anyone who has been in a British secondary school (that is, anyone who was not home-schooled throughout their education), young people will more often know what year group someone is in than what their age is. He will have seen her as a peer. They were both in the same legal age range, i.e. from 13 to 15; below the age of consent, but above the age (12 and below) where sex is actually classed as rape — even then, however, the law was not envisaged to be used against people just above that age, but far above it (e.g. a 16-year-old having sex with a 12-year-old, let alone a person in their 20s doing the same).

No they’re not, because British law does not classify sex with someone under the age of consent as rape. It never has done; that’s American law (or rather, the law in some US states). In any case, the fact that the law does not recognise consent does not mean it does not exist. Teenagers under the age of consent consent to sex, usually with others of the same or similar age, every day. It just so happens that the law and police practice recognises gradations of maturity: children under 13, minors under 16, young people and adults over 16, people over 20 in a position of trust. Even so, fiction is fiction, even when written in stone.

This is fairly typical of the feminist pattern of conflating legal doctrines that suit them with fact. Look at any feminist article on abortion, for example (and some of them demand abortion on demand right up to term), and you will find repeated in every one of them the legal doctrine that “a fetus is not a person”, i.e. they are not a legal person who can sue or be sued. That does not mean it is morally acceptable to kill them for no reason, especially if they are developed past the point where the mother can be relieved of her pregnancy without the loss of the child’s life; this is why the law as it stands does not allow it. However, some legal doctrines do not suit them. The law held until recently that women were not persons, and that slaves were not persons. It also held until much more recently that rape was not rape if the attacker was the woman’s husband. It is rather amusing to watch them picking legal doctrines from times and places that suit them and then presenting them as facts or as moral absolutes.

I pointed out to Claire OT the fact that the “young man” was 15 and also drunk. She replied “And?”, as if his minor status did not matter; as if girls got a “child pass” but boys did not, when a girl knows full well she can get pregnant and a boy knows no better than she does (and has less reason to, and boys, despite being physically bigger, generally mature more slowly). She then tweeted:

The police did not pursue a case because they did not believe there was enough evidence, having heard both the girl’s story and his. They may also have believed that if they did put the case to trial, and the girl was lying, there was a chance of a miscarriage of justice if the girl put on a good enough performance. (He also notes that both of them could have been charged with having sex underage or with an underage person, but the police did not even take this action. In other words, if the man’s story is true, and there is no reason other than prejudice to believe it is not, both he and she were committing a criminal offence.)


Since I actually believe the man’s story, and it was published anonymously and gives no details as to where the event happened (I believe it was the UK as indicated by certain phrases, e.g. ‘binge drinking’, but it does not even give this detail explicitly), I suspect the ‘victim’ will neither know nor care. Who’s to say she reads the Guardian? Perhaps she got what she wanted out of making this accusation, as she moved schools and caused this boy a lot of hardship for several months and made him unable to hold down a relationship so far. It’s also possible that she thought she could get away with it, or get what she wanted out of it, because the boy was in care (we do not know if she was or not). It’s worth noting, however, that social workers appear to have concluded that he was not a threat to the girl also being fostered (or maybe they moved her instead). If they had, they would have moved him, and very likely into a much less favourable placement and in another area.

Claire OT’s attitude towards this boy’s age is another example of her cavalier, mix-and-match attitude towards the law. The law states that he was a child, and that sex with him was also illegal, including for the girl (unless, of course, he forced her), as she was above the age of criminal responsibility. She clearly thinks there should be a harsher law for boys in this regard than for girls, despite the well-known differences in maturity that I have already mentioned. I happen to think that young people that age are capable of taking more responsibility for their actions than we give them credit for, and that (for example) the chorus of disapproval at the naming of the boy who killed the teacher this year was misguided, as he knew what he was doing and planned his action, and there is no evidence that he had been bullied or otherwise abused, least of all by this teacher. However, when boys that age maliciously abuse children aged 11 or 12, we call it bullying and it rarely results in criminal charges. There is no such thing as consensually putting someone’s head down a toilet. Adults do not always teach people this age that they must not have sex until they are 16, let alone that boys must not have sex with girls their own age or slightly younger because it’s rape, because it’s not. They say it’s illegal, but if you must, make sure you use a condom or some other contraception but it’s better to wait. The exception, perhaps, is in some religious schools, and these may be getting fewer due to the present government’s clampdown on old-fashioned views being disseminated in these schools, particularly by Muslims.

I have no doubt that this woman’s attitudes are shared by dozens of feminists online and off. If you want to know why feminists are commonly regarded as stupid and illogical, you need to look no further than the logical fallacies they deploy. Besides the mix-and-match, convenientist legal absolutism I have already mentioned, there is also the matter of “particularising the general”: because most accusations of rape are true, this one is as well. In this case, they read an account by a man who was accused as a teenage boy of rape by another teenage girl and without even hearing the girl’s story, or anyone else’s, they assume he is lying. Since they are fond of filling in gaps in the story with details they have made up, I will take the same liberty here. The man’s explanation (that she regretted having sex and feared her parents finding out, so she cried rape) is one plausible explanation, but it’s also possible that this girl and her male friend could have conspired against this boy as a malicious stunt, to get Billy-no-mates care boy thrown out or at least isolated and have a good laugh at his expense. In this, they seem to have at least partly succeeded.

And this — the fact that feminists recognised the vulnerability of the girl by simply being a girl, but not that of the boy by not having the support of his own family and being in a foster placement that could have been taken away from him at a moment’s notice — is why feminists’ influence on policy-making, and their role in the care of vulnerable people, should be kept to a bare minimum. The chorus of “I believe her!” every time a man is accused, or found not guilty, of rape speaks of naked prejudice, of women feeling entitled to make baseless assumptions about an event they did not see and have never examined in detail, but also raises the danger that a woman can make a false accusation of rape so as to dispose of an annoying man, or one she disagrees with, or one who is a rival to a friend’s ambitions, or for any other reason. It does not even have to result in a criminal conviction; it can easily lead to someone’s relationship or friendship network collapsing overnight, as people cut that person off as it is socially unacceptable not to. I do not think for a moment these feminists are not conscious of the power this situation would give them.

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Loon Watch - 28 November, 2014 - 22:06


How did this hilarious hashtag get started? HOPE Not Hate explains

UKIP Mistake Cathedral For Mosque

by: Simon Cressy | on: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 20:16

South Thanet UKIP branch have been left with egg on their face after making a huge mistake on the social network Twitter.

The BBC politics programme Daily Politics made a posting on their own Twitter feed that was attempting to demonstrate whether Nigel Farage had what it takes to become Prime Minister.

The BBC reporter Giles Dilnot posted a photo of two boxes, one labelled “Yes” and the other “No” and asked locals to take part in a simple opinion poll by posting a coloured ball in the appropriate box, with the results being revealed on the programme today.

South Thanet UKIP, the same area in Kent where Nigel Farage is aiming to become an MP in the general election next year to exception to the photograph posting a reply that said ” Perfect place to hold vote in front of a mosque in London. The BBC’s random means selective”

The BBC reporter attempted to explain that they might be wrong about their facts writing “You are SO wrong you might be embarrassed by that”

South Thanet UKIP asked Dilnot for the location and the BBC journalist was only too happy to oblige, informing the red faced Kippers that the photo was actually taken outside Westminster Cathedral !!

Here are some of the tweets

Fight fundamentalism by tackling poverty, urges Pope Francis

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 November, 2014 - 19:40
Pontiff calls for greater tolerance on visit to Turkey’s President Erdoğan, who has been criticised for authoritarian policies

Pope Francis has called for more religious tolerance and for fundamentalism to be tackled by relieving hunger, poverty and marginalisation, rather than by military interventions alone.

Speaking in the vast auditorium of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s palace in Ankara, he lauded Turkey for hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, and reminded the international community of their “moral obligation” to help care for the almost 2 million Syrians currently living within Turkish borders.

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Lord Pearson is right – but for the wrong reasons | Andrew Brown

The Guardian World news: Islam - 28 November, 2014 - 11:45
Just like the Bible, the Qur’an contains the material for a violent political message. But it is only a dangerous book if we can’t discuss that

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a former leader of Ukip, is in trouble for saying that Muslims should “address the violence in the Qur’an and indeed in the life and example of Muhammad”. He is to be reported to the Lord Speaker for his remarks, which were described by a Labour MP as “diabolical”.

I don’t want to defend his unpleasant politics or even his character. Emotionally, Pearson’s message is thoroughly unsavoury. In narrow political terms, criticising the Qur’an is a way of suggesting to British Muslims that they are not properly British, and should be subservient semi-outsiders alongside Lithuanians and Romanians on the margins of humanity. Hence the outraged responses. There is absolutely nothing that any Muslim can or could say about the Qur’an that would satisfy Ukip that they were really proper English people. However, the emotional or nationalist message operates in an entirely different way to the intellectual one.

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What’s missing from Bubb’s tepid report

Indigo Jo Blogs - 27 November, 2014 - 22:18

Picture of the former Winterbourne View hospital, a red-brick building partly painted yellow, with cars at the frontThis week the long-awaited report by Sir Stephen Bubb into the care of people with learning disabilities and autism following the scandal of Winterbourne View in 2011 was published. Titled “Winterbourne View: Time for Change”, it offers ten recommendations to the NHS, local authorities, the government and regulators including a “charter of rights” for people with learning disabilities, giving them and their families a right to challenge decisions and to request a personal budget, and a programme of closure for “inappropriate” inpatient care facilities, and has prompted a surge of media interest, the best being this piece in yesterday’s Guardian. Also this week, the inquest into the death of Stephanie Bincliffe from complications of obesity in an assessment and treatment unit, after seven years in a padded cell which she never left, was published, and although it criticises the institution she was in (run by the private Huntercombe group) for having no plan to treat her weight gain or challenging behaviour, it cleared them of neglect despite the egregious denial of her human rights and liberty over an extended period. (More: Mark Neary, Housing & Support Alliance.)

This awful case shows how fortunate it was that there was one doctor (and it was only one of three who had that power) who saw that Claire Dyer did not need to be in a secure unit and could be at home, and released her from section only three months after her transfer from Swansea. If she had remained there, the situation could have got worse very quickly as the strain of living in an institution full of strange people and rules hundreds of miles from home and seeing family only once or twice weekly began to take its toll. This has happened to many others, as the families of Stephen Andrade (held in St Andrew’s in Northampton; home is London) and Tianze Ni (held in a hospital in Middlesbrough; home is Scotland) have testified. The BBC had interviews with Stephanie’s mother and sister, and the mother said that Stephanie was extremely distressed by her situation; she believed she had been kidnapped and told her she had been ‘trapped’ and wanted to come home. She saw the staff as “the people who were holding her” which is why she attacked them when they came and went without letting her out. This casts doubt on the claims that they allowed to put on ten stone and left her in that wretched condition until she died just because any attempt to address her dietary issues would have triggered self-injurious behaviour. Frankly, the excuses don’t wash and I wonder how well-informed the coroner was to accept their opinions. If they could not care for Stephanie properly, they should have found whoever could, and wherever.

The Bubb report has been widely panned by the learning disability advocacy community. That community are trying to get a legal framework for making sure people with learning disabilities or autism do not end up in units unnecessarily, or sent a long way from home, or have their human rights infringed in other ways. That effort is known as the “LB Bill”. If you do a simple page search of Bubb’s report, you will notice that the letters LB appear only in the word “wellbeing” (three times) and “bill” only appears as part of the word “billion” (once). A key section of the proposed bill is to exclude autism from the Mental Health Act except when there are co-morbid mental health illnesses; no such provision appears in Bubb’s report. The problem with the MHA in regard to autism is fairly simple: it gives too much power to psychiatrists who are not often autism specialists (indeed, this fact is often used as an excuse to transfer patients, not necessarily to places where there are any autism specialists). It takes only two of them to section someone, and the process for getting someone off a section without their say-so is long and complicated, and the lapse and renewal of a section puts the process back to square one. It allows them to treat challenging behaviour with psychiatric medication, which causes weight gain, can lead to liver damage, and does not address the causes of their behaviour but only the symptom itself. The report does not suggest that there should be a discipline of autism specialist, which can replace the role of psychiatrist or at least greatly reduce it.

A key recommendation is that personal budgets be made available to the people who are at risk of being admitted to a unit, or are already in one. This seems to be a response to the continual complaints that bad institutional care is expensive — thousands or tens of thousands per week — but the report does not address the problems with personal budgets, such as that the person running it, if they choose to employ staff directly rather than using agencies, becomes an employer and is reponsible for paying their staff’s income tax and National Insurance, and that many local authorities make life difficult for people using them because they are convinced people are out to defraud the system, as Mark Neary has exposed in a number of blog posts since he started using one to pay for his son Steven’s care. It is time-consuming and a huge responsibility with a lot of legal pitfalls.

Another thing missing from the report is any proposal to improve the standards required of institutional care workers other than nurses, in terms of training or qualifications, as besides being abusive towards patients, the staff responsible for the original Winterbourne View scandal were clearly not of the necessary calibre and I suspect this could have been gauged in some cases with one face-to-face interview. While it’s true that a qualification does not make someone a good carer, anyone applying for a caring role should be able to present either a qualification or some evidence that they can care, have been a carer, or have an understanding of learning disability, autism or the responsibilities of the job. If their pay were increased, it might be possible to expect better standards of them.

Black and white picture of Connor Sparrowhawk, a young white man wearing a dark-coloured suit jacket with a white shirt underneathAlso missing from the report is any mention of making sure mental health services, for learning disabled people or anyone else, look after patients’ physical health as well. This was a major factor in the death of Connor Sparrowhawk (left): staff did not consider that a man with a learning disability also had a chronic physical condition (epilepsy) which could be life-threatening, despite having been notified of it by his family and despite it being common among people with learning disabilities. The CQC report also noted that medicines at that unit were not kept refrigerated and there was no battery in the defibrillator. A less serious incident of such neglect was the woman admitted to a secure unit who was not provided with the incontinence pads she needed, presumably because the unit, which did not cater for learning disabilities, rarely needed to deal with that problem (although I find that difficult to believe). This type of neglect is not restricted to ATUs or learning disability mental health care: only last night a woman who was admitted last week to a psychiatric ward miles from home (because the women’s ward at her local unit, the Orchard in Lancaster, has been reassigned for male use) had an asthma attack and was without her inhaler. It took two hours for staff to take her to the urgent care centre and although the care there was excellent, it could have been avoided if the ward could have provided an inhaler, or she had been in the local unit and able to access hers from home which was only 15 minutes away. Surely any hospital, and certainly any hospital ward which confines people, which nearly all psychiatric wards (including ATUs and including those that hold informal, i.e. non-sectioned, patients) do, should have the facilities to deal with an asthma attack as a severe one can kill in much less than 15 minutes.

Bloggers Steve Broach and Chris Hatton have also drawn attention to its lukewarm attitude towards the rights of people with learning disabilities: it proposes a “charter of rights” but this does not include new rights but merely re-emphasises existing ones, nor does it propose any means of enforcing them, such as legal aid which is being cut. The report proposes a “right to challenge” decisions, but these rights already exist such as the right to judicial review, but as the Dyers found out in July, it is difficult to make a case to challenge a clinical decision even when it is plainly against the patient’s best interests. Section 2.2 says “the review triggered by this right to challenge would only recommend admission/continued placement in hospital if it concluded that the assessment, treatment or safeguarding could only be effectively and safely carried out in an inpatient setting”; however, it may be that a judge is easily persuaded that this is the case or indeed biased towards accepting clinicians’ or social workers’ opinion. The right to challenge does not equate to the right to overturn an unwanted decision that is not in one’s interests.

Picture of Claire Dyer, a young white woman wearing glasses, red sound blockers, a light blue and white striped T-shirt and a purple jacket, standing next to a fence behind which is a male deerThe media coverage of this report continually cut to footage from Winterbourne View in 2011 with the words “viewers may find some of these scenes disturbing” or words to that effect. The thing is that not every kind of abuse of the human rights of disabled people would necessarily make shocking footage, much as torture would, but long-term imprisonment of a political prisoner would not, but is still a major violation of their human rights. Neglect, lack of control and long-term misery do not make headlines or shocking images, but that is the best some NHS trusts and private care companies can offer Britain’s learning disabled people and the opportunities for challenging them are limited. They have a right to control over their lives, to personal freedom, to family life and to freedom from abuse, and when they need to be cared for, they have a right to be cared for well. This report does not really investigate why these are not happening for many people, is not really based on listening to those affected and those who love and care for them, and will not lead to well-entrenched rights and robust mechanisms to resist bad decisions. It’s great that the report, and perhaps Stephanie Bincliffe’s inquest, has brought individual cases of bad care and long-distance placements into the public eye for a day or so, but the people affected need to be listened to. They are all behind the LB Bill. Let’s not settle for this tepid report.

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Pope Francis to visit Turkey in most challenging mission of papacy so far

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 16:30
Pontiff to try to tackle relations with Islam, Christian persecution in the Muslim world and the Catholic-Orthodox schism

Pope Francis embarks on one of the most delicate missions of his 18-month-old papacy on Friday, when he is expected to wrestle with the problems of Christian persecution in the Muslim world and tackle relations with Islam in a time of spreading jihadism during his visit to Turkey.

As if that were not enough, he is also expected to deal with the millenium-old schism between Catholicism and Orthodoxy that centred on the city that is now Istanbul.

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Bollywood star Veena Malik handed 26 year sentence for 'blasphemous' wedding scene

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 14:21

TV and film actor issued the jail term in Pakistan, alongside husband and owner of a media conglomerate for ‘malicious acts’ of blasphemy against Islam

The actor Veena Malik has expressed anger at a 26-year jail term handed down by a Pakistani court after she acted in a scene loosely based on the marriage of the prophet Muhammad’s daughter.

The same sentence was extended to her husband, and to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, owner of the Jang-Geo media group which broadcast the TV show. All three were ordered to surrender their passports and fined 3m rupees (£8,000).

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Something rotten in the state of India? Hamlet remake provokes outcry

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 13:57
A cinematic remake of the Shakespeare play is the focus point for tension over religious intolerance from Hindu groups claiming to represent the 80% of citizens who follow the faith

The tone is uncompromising. The language is harsh. The sovereignty and integrity of India has been attacked with impunity, the court documents claim. The unity of the nation has been undermined.

But the source of the alleged threat to the world’s largest democracy is a somewhat surprising one: a cinematic remake of Hamlet.

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Ukip mistakes Westminster Cathedral for mosque

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 13:14

Nigel Farage’s local Ukip branch calls out BBC for ingrained liberal bias in holding straw poll about leader in front of noted Muslim place of worship ... wait, hang on

Nigel Farage’s local Ukip branch has called out the BBC for its ingrained liberal bias in holding a straw poll on the party leader in front of a London mosque.

The mosque in question was Westminster Cathedral.

Has @Nigel_Farage got what it takes to be PM? See how the balls fall in @reporterboy film on Tue #bbcdp after 1200

UKIP now has two MPs and has been rising in the polls, but do people see the party as a serious political force...

@reporterboy I have got it wrong about the building as was wrongly advised and apologise. The random vote remark still stands

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques @Nigel_Farage

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques @Nigel_Farage

Oh my word. I just clicked on the #ThingsThatAreNotMosques hashtag. What have I started? HAAAAHAHAHA

Mosque-ow. #thingsthatarenotmosques

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques Moss

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques Mosquito

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques But it's got a dome, it must be a mosque?!

I don't think that this is a mosque #ThingsThatAreNotMosques

#ThingsThatAreNotMosques - Fox Theater, Atlanta

Cardiff City Hall. Definitely not a minaret, and definitely not a dome. #ThingsThatAreNotMosques

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Baby blues

Single Muslim Mums - 27 November, 2014 - 10:54

It is 2004 and I am not a single mum, yet…
However, I am a new mother to a baby girl who is 9 weeks old mashallah but who I feel is a stranger to me and who I feel doesn’t like me and whose needs I cannot meet. I feel like I can identify with single mothers because I am in a new area, alone and depressed with no-one to confide in, struggling to cope. Is this really my life?

I have no friends in my area and have no experience of babies so I feel overwhelmed as to how I should behave and even talk to a baby. The midwives at the hospital taught me nothing of how to change let alone bathe a baby and I didn’t know to ask either as naive as it sounds. My family rarely visit as everyone is busy at work and I don’t confide in them because I have a reputation for being “tough” which simply translates as: I keep to myself.

I potter around the flat aimlessly: cleaning takes no more than an hour because I keep everything pristine and because I clean up every day. Even the tv ends up becoming boring: I just have no idea what to do with myself. I seldom take the baby out, where we live there are just small shops and I would have to take a bus to get to the main shopping centre and I’m terrified of taking her alone on the bus, terrified of getting lost; actually, I’m just terrified. I have been told to join groups but I see now that after being in an abusive relationship and having my confidence broken down completely that I have no faith in myself that I have anything to offer anyone in any way let alone conversation.

I crave for conversation: my husband comes home from work late and then gets ready to go to his course he attends and so he barely has a minute to spare. He tells me quite unhelpfully to “go and get some exercise and think positively”. I feel like screaming: I can feel it building up inside me threatening to explode out of me with such a force that I fear the whole street would hear me. However, I just nod silently – accepting that he won’t ever understand me nor try to.

As I flick aimlessly through the channels I see an advert asking people to donate money to children dying of starvation and I thank Allah that I don’t have to watch my child dying of hunger in my arms but SubhanAllah it still does not ease my depression. I feel isolated from the world; I feel like I will be told to just be happy – that I have more than most and should be grateful. My husband has said it to me on many an occasion. I don’t know how to begin telling the world that depression is not born from being ungrateful, for me it came from feeling different like I wasn’t normal. I knew I should feel some other way than I did but I still couldn’t change it. Keeping to myself, pushing my family away and being lost in fantasies that were unrealistic – I ended up losing myself too.

I feel like I cannot be helped, feel trapped, think of running away and leaving the baby with her dad. He seems to be a natural parent: knowing all the right ways to soothe her and what to say and enjoying her. It makes me jealous and it makes me bitter and resentful even towards my baby. Why doesn’t she love me or need me? I quickly try to shun these thoughts away: good parents do not think things like this or think bad thoughts about their babies. Babies are a gift and a blessing I keep chanting to myself as the baby screams and wails with colic pain. I feel like tearing my hair out, I feel like screaming at the world: WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME, WHY CAN’T YOU SEE I’M FALLING APART?!! I want to beg my mum to come over and stay to keep me company but she already told me it was too far and that she can’t take me and my husband screaming at each other. My family told me I rely on her too much and so I’m trying to wean myself off her, because I don’t know the difference between asking for help and depending on someone so utterly that I then feel I cannot manage without them.

I never thought I would be a bad mum: I had hoped it would come naturally to me and I would be wonderful and all full of smiles and magic words, taking my baby to feed the ducks and the playground. But sadly I admit to myself secretly that I am a rubbish mother and all I can think about is having a cigarette which I gave up long ago. Something to make me FEEL again, something familiar to prove I haven’t lost who I am and I AM still me. Unfortunately it’s a disgusting habit and I don’t quite have the bottle to go out and buy cigarettes in a hijab and so I leave it. I feel like a fraud even now: I should not do it for the sake of Allah, but I don’t do it because I’m scared of what people will think. I should do this and that; I should, I should, I should.

One rare day my husband is home with a day off and offers to look after the baby whilst I go to my GP appointment. The sense of elation I feel as I step out the house is amazing: I remember how carefree and happy I used to be. I remember how I was always giggling and bubbly and full of hope. I wonder where that girl has gone and when she was replaced by a bitter old hag and I have to force myself to return home afterwards because I am so so tempted to walk away and just keep walking. My GP talks to me about anti-depressants but I remember the scare stories told to me about my family: that it will turn me into a zombie who feels nothing, that it will affect my baby who I feel is already traumatised that she has me for a mum and so I smile and say I will be ok and nod saying I do get help and yes I am talking to my husband about things and he is very supportive and caring. I lie through my teeth.

I question my sanity as I walk home: they say you can’t be crazy if you feel insane but what if you know something isn’t right inside? Maybe it’s the opposite of fitrah, that the same way you are born upon the fitrah and know instinctively what’s right that you can also know instinctively what is wrong and when you FEEL wrong inside. I feel like a storm is brewing inside me and it turns out that I was correct because a while later I had a breakdown.

I can’t bring myself to go out of the house with the baby: I feel like all the energy has been sucked out of me. My husband says I am always stressed out and nicknames me ‘stressy’. I think to myself there are plenty of names I would like to call him by too but unless I want another slap I had better keep my mouth shut. He says I never have a smile on my face when he comes home and I peer into his eyes unable to fathom how he could be so utterly clueless. The same woman he slaps around and verbally abuses and throws out on a constant basis, should have a SMILE on her face when he comes home?!! A smile for what reason? Because she knows he will treat her like a dog again? Because he has broken her heart one too many times and now she finds it devastatingly hard to cope or even show love to her baby? Is he really stupid or is this a joke?

Turns out it wasn’t a joke and a few years later I’m glad to say we divorced. Life is too short to spend it miserable with a man who has no respect for you: get out of it, get over it and move on; for your OWN sake.

It isn’t Facebook that feeds terror. It’s war and tyranny | Seumas Milne

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 08:38

The refusal to accept Britain’s role in a violent campaign without end fosters fear and racism

It takes some mastery of spin to turn the litany of intelligence failures over last year’s butchery of the off-duty soldier Lee Rigby into a campaign against Facebook. But that’s exactly how David Cameron’s government and a pliant media have disposed of the report by Westminster’s committee of intelligence trusties.

You might have expected Whitehall’s security machine to be in the frame for its spectacular incompetence in spying on the two killers: from filling out surveillance applications wrongly and losing one suspect’s house number, to closing down the surveillance of another – just as the pair were preparing the Woolwich attack.

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Islamic women’s groups welcome call for imams to denounce domestic violence

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 06:19

President of the Australian National Imams Council had appealed to imams to speak out in their sermons

Islamic women’s groups have welcomed a call by the peak body for Australia’s Muslim clerics that imams around the country should use their sermons this Friday to denounce domestic violence.

The president of the Australian National Imams Council, Imam Abdel Aziem, has appealed to Islamic religious leaders to speak out against family violence in their khutbah, a sermon usually delivered before prayers on Friday, Islam’s holiest day of the week.

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Still looking for Alibrandi: migrant teens deserve fiction about their reality | Sarah Ayoub

The Guardian World news: Islam - 27 November, 2014 - 01:30

First-generation teens ill-served by pop culture want to read a range of stories, books that can help us all understand their lives

Which book marked your journey from child to adult?

When Melina Marchetta burst onto the young adult reading scene with her brilliant debut novel Looking for Alibrandi, dual-identity girls rejoiced.

Suddenly, all the complexities of their first-generation, Australian-born, ethnic-female identities were out there for the world to see: Marchetta had taken the anxieties in the deepest crevices of their souls and shown them that they were normal, and more importantly, that they weren’t battling them alone.

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What Draws Youth To Political Violence?

Loon Watch - 26 November, 2014 - 22:36


The following article is an expanded version of a feature article titled “What draws youth to political violence? that Razainc. wrote for York University’s newspaper, Excalibur. Razainc. will expand upon it here at LoonWatch in more depth over the coming weeks.

Guest post by Razainc.

Terrorism involves spectacular and often unexpected killings in order to destabilize the social order and promote a greater cause, and as professor Scott Atran describes it, publicity is the oxygen of terrorism.(1)

But what drives youth who turn to political violence?

Is it religion? The Qur’an? Do they hate “Western” freedoms? Do they just want to die?

Noam Chomsky, when asked by Excalibur about the role Islam plays in political violence says,

“It [Islam] plays a role, but there are [other] reasons. Tribal cultures, the extreme Islamophobia in the West, and the many direct attacks on the Muslim world. It’s [political violence] by no means unique to Islam.”

The evidence from experts like Scott Atran (a French and American anthropologist), Robert Pape (an American political scientist), Graham E. Fuller (Former CIA Station chief), and Marc Sageman (former CIA Operations Officer) backs him up.

How terror cells form has a lot to do with how humans form bonds and groups. It’s important to discard the notion that because of the horrible things they did they are different from us. Terrorists are human. This may come as an uncomfortable realization but is an accurate and necessary one.

“A sense of moral outrage at apparent crimes against Muslims both globally and locally is a common theme among the terrorist. The outrage is interpreted in a specific way, namely that this moral violation is part of a larger war against Islam. The ideology appeals to certain people it resonates with their own personal experience of discrimination, making them feel they are also victims of this wider war. A few individuals are then mobilized through networks both face to face and now commonly online to become terrorists” Sageman wrote in Leaderless Jihad.

Sageman emphasizes the need to look at terrorists humanely. He points to the example of the sexual frustration theory, which suggests suicide bombers want to die to have sex in paradise, a common theory that’s floated around but has no evidence.

Religious commitment alone is not enough to determine whether you will join a violent group but rather the dynamics with friends or family, “given religious commitment then action-oriented group participation is the best predictor of who will actually make costly sacrifices for their beliefs” says Atran in an interview with Excalibur.

“What inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Qur’an or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool … Western volunteers for ISIS are mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives. For the most part, they have no traditional religious education and are ‘born again’ to religion. They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways,” says Atran.

Professor Atran in an interview about ISIS told me that the “first wave of foreign fighters was tightly linked to a humanitarian concern.” But now, Atran continued, “current volunteers … believe that they are part of a great historical movement that has reestablished the Islamic Caliphate,” and they believe they must fight to secure and expand it.

However there is usually no active recruitment. These are usually kids hooking up on the internet with like-minded individuals. Most so-called “Jihadists,” sometimes up to 90 per cent, are not very knowledgeable about religion. They tend to come to religion later in life and become self-radicalized.

But what about the role of religious education? Are these horrible atrocities happening because young Muslims read and study the Qu’ran?

In fact young Muslims tend to have a limited background in Islam making them more vulnerable to extreme interpretations says Sageman in a lecture on terrorism.

Atran in his lecture on terrorism also echoes this point,

“Religious education is a negative predictor of being involved in violence and the Jihad, it is a negative predictor of being radicalized in prison.”

Atran says in Talking to The Enemy, that the common myth that youth are radicalized at fundamentalist madrasas (Qur’an learning schools) has no basis. Fundamentalists generally do not support terrorism, they are more concerned with salvation. Mainline Salafists are usually involved in efforts to prevent people from being terrorists. Less than 1% of madrasas studied in South and Southeast Asia support violent extremism, and of those that do they tend to emphasize the secular sciences. Simply knowing and reciting the Qur’an will not be a stepping stone to becoming a “Jihadist” in these organizations because they need someone who has the social skills they are looking for and is adept at using technology.

This profile of self-radicalizing cells with little structure and no central organization coordinating everything is similar to a late 19th, early 20th century Western movement that caused a similar reaction to today’s “Jihadists”; violent Anarchists.

Anarchist assassins killed the president of France, the empress of Austria, the king of Italy and U.S. president William McKinley. Anarchists set off the world’s first car bomb on Wall Street in retaliation for the Nicola and Bart trial. WWI was kicked off by the assassination, of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, blamed on an anarchist.

These actions caused far more harm, destruction and political impact than even some of the worst modern day terrorist movements.

Atran concludes his book by writing,

“The world community of nations considered anarchism to pose the greatest threat to the internal political and economic order and to international stability…The anarchist threat was used to justify international adventurism, state reaction to anarchism played a formative role in creating national police and intelligence.”

Presidents, Terrorism and the Erosion of Rights

“The cause of his criminality is to be found in his own evil passions and in the evil conduct of those who urge him on, not in any failure by others or by the state to do justice to him or his” said President Theodore Roosevelt in first annual message in 1901.

In 1908, while proposing a law, Roosevelt returned to the topic of anarchist violence, “The anarchist is the enemy of humanity, the enemy of all mankind; and his is a deeper degree of criminality than any other.”

“We’re fighting for the cause of humanity against those who seek to impose the darkness of tyranny and terror upon the entire world” said George W Bush in his speech on terrorism.

“Our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation, and uphold … timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.” –President Barack Obama’s speech on ISIS

The similarity of government rhetoric and response to violent extremism is striking. Not only is the terrorism discourse both repetitive and tiring, but it also comes at the cost of civil liberties.

Government spying programs expanded as a response to 9/11, with the creation of the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security in the USA. Canada introduced the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001, Bill C-44 Protection of Canada from Terror Act in 2014 and Bill S-7, which amends the Criminal Code, Canada Evidence Act, and Security of Information Act, in 2013.

Noam Chomsky, when asked about how governments should respond to violent extremism says, “In the case of all crime, it’s of crucial importance to discover the cause and to deal with it as well as what can be done, which often means attending to just concerns.”

Michael Scheuer(2), former CIA officer and head of the Bin Laden Unit, concluded 9/11 happened because of US policies in the Muslim world.

Robert Pape’s work, most illustratively documented in his book Cutting The Fuse, points out that from 1980- 2003 suicide bombing and terrorism campaigns were dominated by secular groups, and the primary cause was resistance to occupation not Islamic fundamentalism.

In conclusion, you don’t need religion for terrorism. The idea that there would be nothing like 9/11 without Islam is a naive belief at best. In light of all the evidence and studies, the suggestion that religion is the cause of terrorism is not only uncritical but ignorant. It’s become far too easy to blame a broad group of humanity and to make sweeping assumptions of a third of humanity. This is morally wrong and counterproductive; leading us down a dangerous path of ignoring the evidence for why terrorism occurs and making perpetual never-ending war.


1-Here I am using professor Atran’s definition from his book Talking To The Enemy although I recognize other definitions exist.
2-Michael Scheuer, former CIA head of Bin Laden Unit I did not get a chance to clarify this on the original article.

Not being spied on used to be called freedom

Indigo Jo Blogs - 26 November, 2014 - 14:30

Front page of today's Sun, with the headline 'Blood on their hands' and Facebook's logoYesterday a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) came out that concluded that the murder of Lee Rigby, a British soldier, in London in 2013 could not have been prevented despite the two murderers being known to the intelligence services and having come up in a number of inquiries. The one bit of chatter they were aware of after the event that actually mentions a plan or desire to kill a soldier was on an American Internet service, thought to be Facebook, which is not obliged to share such information about users with foreign intelligence services. However, David Cameron claimed yesterday that Internet providers have a ‘moral responsibility’ to share such data and the Daily Mail’s front page screams “Facebook has blood on its hands”.

Nobody seems interested in considering how a company like Facebook, or any other company providing messaging services, would identify all content that indicates a plan to commit an act of terrorism or indeed any other crime. They already do provide a means of reporting abusive or illegal content, but that requires a reader to be minded to report it. Their reporting system is already overburdened with spurious or malicious reports, non-obvious spam and pictures that offend some people but aren’t illegal, and so on. What politicians seem to want is a means of automatically identifying leads to a criminal conspiracy, but how would they do this without providing a huge pile of innocent material to sift through to find just one possible lead? There are plenty of uses of words like kill, stab, shoot, bomb, explode and so on, not least people talking about things that have already happened and discussing means of preventing them.

It’s no wonder that civil liberties campaigners are already dismissing this report as a pretext for restricting civil liberties among unpopular sections of society. It’s also typical of the kind of “stable-door” legislation that often follows a tragic event; it’s concluded that if the state could have prevented the double murder or the mauling of a child by a dog of a particular breed by discriminating against a hitherto unidentified group or intruding on people’s lives in a way nobody had ever considered, because it was entirely unreasonable. For a comment made by an individual with no criminal convictions to be identified as suspicious purely because of words or phrases used would demand that private companies invest huge amounts of money in apparatus for spying on their users or customers, and that all our conversations are listened into by the state, or some private contractor - quite possibly the same giant IT contractor that helps decide what state benefits, healthcare or insurance we can access. The potential for blackmail should also be borne in mind.

It is usually tyrannical regimes like Assad’s Syria where the ‘walls have ears’ and you can’t say anything without risking attracting the attention of the secret police. That people can sometimes carry out a crime or an act of terrorism without being noticed is a sign that we live in a free country, not that there is not comprehensive enough surveillance. The price of freedom is not eternal vigilance, but risk.

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Muslims in Ferguson – On the Ground and Active Since Day One

Loon Watch - 25 November, 2014 - 19:01

Muslims Americans, natives of the St. Louis area and from around the country have been working in solidarity with those who want to put an end to not only a culture of police impunity but a two-tiered justice system.

Patheos, By Umar Lee

Troops from the Missouri National Guard are prepared to deploy around Ferguson, Missouri, as the city awaits a grand jury decision on whether to indict a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in August, which ignited the city in waves of protest.

The events following the tragic police killing of Michael Brown Jr. on August 9th in Ferguson have drawn both national and international media coverage. The role of Muslims in Ferguson has been a frequent topic of conversation. Conspiracy theories have arisen in the right-wing media and amongst opponents of the protest movement in the St. Louis area pointing the finger at a sinister Muslim conspiracy in Ferguson. Within the Muslim community there has been debate regarding the appropriate Muslim response to the surrounding issues. This is a piece I have decided to write to help clarify the role of Muslims in Ferguson.

Let me start by giving readers a sense of place. Ferguson is a predominantly African-American, although racially-diverse, suburb of St. Louis located in North St. Louis County ( where I was raised). It is more accurate to think of events in Ferguson in the context of St. Louis rather than Ferguson alone. The majority of protesters you will see on the streets live in other parts of the St. Louis metro area and a number of the events associated with the protest movement have taken place outside the city limits of Ferguson.

North St. Louis County is home to a growing Muslim population. There is a historic African-American Muslim community in North City and County. Within a short distance of Ferguson is Masjid Umar (formerly the Institute of Learning), located in the rugged Mark Twain neighborhood of North City. Masjid Umar has a Nigerian-American imam and a predominantly African-American congregation. To the north of Ferguson in the city of Hazelwood, you have the Dar al-Jalal Mosque ( the largest mosque in the St. Louis metro area). Dar al-Jalal is a predominantly Arab (specifically Palestinian) congregation with a high percentage of store-owners in North City and County as congregants. Closest to Ferguson is the West Florissant Masjid in the city of Jennings. The West Florissant Masjid is a predominantly Nigerian congregation with a very diverse crowd at Friday prayers. Also, close to Ferguson in the Walnut Park neighborhood of North St. Louis you have Muhammad’s Mosque #28 of the Nation of Islam.

From day one, Muslims have been on the ground in Ferguson. The Facebook group Muslims for Ferguson and other efforts were just later manifestations of what was already happening. Muslims were in Ferguson first and foremost because we live in the community like everyone else and are concerned about its well-being.

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Lee Rigby murder: internet firm could have picked up killer’s message - report

The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 November, 2014 - 17:56

Intelligence committee chair calls Facebook a ‘safe haven for terrorists’ but rights groups warn of creeping state surveillance

The government has been handed ammunition to pressurise internet companies to monitor the contents of private messages and inform the security services of suspicious ones after an official report found one of Lee Rigby’s terrorist killers had written of his desire to murder a soldier.

The report, published on Tuesday, said the authorities were never told that one of the killers, Michael Adebowale, had written of his murderous intent six months before he and his accomplice, Michael Adebolajo, brutally attacked Rigby in a street near his military barracks and attempted to behead him.

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