Aggregator

The Case of The Terrorist Robert Doggart and Holy Islamberg

Muslim Matters - 4 June, 2017 - 00:38

After years of troubling news, Tahirah H. Clark, 44, a mother of 5 children, and an attorney received some of the good variety on February 16, 2017. The man who had threatened to take his assault rifle, “with 500 rounds of ammunition, light-armor piercing”, and a machete to burn down “the kitchen, the mosque and  school,” in her community in 2015, Robert Doggart, was found guilty on all charges. His sentencing is taking place now, with two counts being dismissed against him. 

“The court determines there was not enough evidence for the jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt [Doggart] made threats on those dates for the purpose of effecting a change or achieving a goal through intimidation,” Collier wrote in an opinion, released today.

Holy Islamberg and several other villages around the country are formed by a group of African-American Muslims from New York City, The Muslims of America (TMOA), who are followers of Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani. Upon his guidance, they left the fitnah (trials) of cities and started living together in rural communities dedicating their lives to their faith. Membership is not open due to security reasons, especially after the Doggart case.

“We will be cruel to them,” Doggart said of the people of Islamberg in a call to the FBI, “And we will burn down their buildings … And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”

Clark represents the community as the victim in the trial.

Doggart is an ordained Christian minister, has a PhD and had once run for Congress in his home state of Tennessee. According to the criminal complaint, Doggart had been associated with private militia groups in the US. He was convinced that the group were planning an attack on American soil. TMOA was targeted by right wing blogs since 9/11, as a “terrorist training ground”.

“It’s kind of perplexing to us,” said local Police Chief Craig Dumont on New York’s AM 970. “All this recent media attention in regard to potential terrorist training camps and things that are going on there. We don’t see it. We just don’t find any of that to be valid at this time. … There are no active threats that we are aware of at this time.”

According to the criminal complaint, Doggart said in a Facebook post that the village “must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people”.

Clark recalls the horror that the community felt when they received the call from the FBI, that they were targets of a planned terror attack. They galvanized to advocate for themselves. In a statement, Muhammad Matthew Gardner, the public relations director for TMOA said, “Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community. This man plotted mercilessly to kill us, kill our children and blow up our mosque and our school.”

They took a “symbolic” picture of the children in the community holding a banner asking, “Why do you want to kill us, Robert Doggart?”

They canceled the summer program that takes place every year, where youth compete in cooking competitions and women hold fashion shows.

And they prayed. They gathered in the masajid in every TMOA village and made special duas to thank Allah that the attack did not take place.

Then they filed a civil lawsuit with Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud and Clark as counsels. The suit was stayed; but now that the verdict is in, Tahiratain (the two Tahirahs) are readying to for trial. The civil complaint charges Doggart with violation of 18 U.S. Code § 248, the “FACE” Act, which prohibits anyone, who by force or threat of force, or by physical obstruction intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person lawfully exercising or seeking to exercise the First Amendment right of religious freedom at a place of religious worship.



 

”If we truly want our country to be safe, we must work to change this double standard by changing the law.”

Doggart escaped terrorism charges because federal laws focus almost entirely on foreign terrorists. This was a big blow to the community. He meets the qualifications of domestic terrorism, said attorneys Amatul-Wadud and Clark. “It is time to look closely at the law that allowed Robert Doggart to escape terrorism charges. There is a double standard that allows right-wing extremists to commit acts of terror, while avoiding prosecution in the same way as a Muslim who commits equal or lesser offenses,” reads a statement by the community. 

 

”If we truly want our country to be safe, we must work to change this double standard by changing the law.”

Attorneys Amatul-Wadud and Clark plan to lobby Congress so “that there are not two sets of rules when prosecuting extremists who terrorize American citizens”.

In May last year, the village was told that hundreds of bikers from The American Bikers United Against Jihad’s “Ride for National Security” would ride through their rural roads.

Five bikers came.

300 neighbors showed up with flags and sign that read, “Stop harassing our Muslim neighbors.”

Clark’s was one of the first families who settled in Islamberg in the early 80s, near Hancock, NY. She was homeschooled amongst the creeks, the hills and the rugged roads. She attended Binghamton University and Albany Law School, 25 miles from the hamlet of Islamberg. In 1993 she married one of the fellow members of Muslims of America, as is the custom of their community and they live around the corner from the village. The villages maintain connections and the community has grown— as many people get married to members from Virginia, Georgia, or Tennessee. Others take their shahadah and chose to become part of the community.

“Islamberg is the best place on Earth to raise my children,” she says. “It’s lovely.” She describes an area that is clean, safe, and the community can practice their religion and live their life the way they want. It is an intentional community striving to live together. “You don’t have to worry about [the children] being exposed to the [corruption] of the city,” she says. She spent her early childhood in Brooklyn and tells tales of smelling marijuana and other jarring incidents.

Each unincorporated village is run by trustees- each location has a group of local individuals who run the place administratively. “We do have town councils, elected by people in the community; they deal with basic things such as keeping the masjid clean, the bills are paid, and the roads are plowed…. like a homeowners association,” she explains. The group is often attacked for ruling according to “an alternative rule of law”. Clark calls this an Islamophobic creeping shariah tactic. “You must have some form of order,” she adds.

Clark calls the February verdict “a blessing from Allah”, as they were not expecting him to be convicted —a white man in a predominately white county. May the sentencing be just as fair.

 

What Do I Do When I Find Out My Favorite Preacher Is Corrupt?

Muslim Matters - 3 June, 2017 - 23:11

The scenario is becoming more prevalent: the person you trusted with your spirituality, inspiration, and maybe even secrets, turns out to be tragically corrupt. The man who gives lectures about how to treat women is a vicious womanizer. The televangelist who inspires millions to be better people can’t find the inspiration in his own personal life to not exploit vulnerable fans or oppress his family.

This is one of the most difficult tests to one’s faith: how could someone who embodied the faith to me be so corrupt despite all of his knowledge? Is something wrong with the religion?

The Power of Power

No. Something is wrong with people, especially when they have power. And power isn’t always manifest in the form of legal control or authority. The power of influence that can suffocate the stories of your victims is far more dangerous. The power of a platform that glorifies you being so much larger than those that expose you. The power of money that ties people to you, that will stay with you despite your corruption and the mistreatment of your own family, only because they want to feed theirs. The power of having shaykh friends that will legitimize you for their own gain not realizing, or not caring, that they’re enabling your corruption. The power of having organizations still invite you to their programs to fill seats despite knowing about you, but not really caring about you or the people you will help bring to them. The power of knowing that otherwise reasonable people will probably support you any way and forget that the victim could’ve been their own sister or daughter.

The problem isn’t religion; the problem is the perception of power that has so frequently poisoned men who wear the garb of any religion. Every oppressor is intoxicated by the illusion of power. But your Lord isn’t unaware, and is the only true possessor of Power. For their sake and ours, everything eventually comes crashing down before they can further harm themselves or others.

To Victims of Predators

If you’re a victim of one of these people, don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be shamed into silence. Predators thrive when they can pick on you in private and think that you’d never tell anyone. Your job isn’t to maintain the dignity of the one who disgraced you, or to put your hurt to the side to protect others from having their feelings hurt when they find out. You do have a responsibility to protect other people that could potentially be victimized.

To the girls that get approached by their favorite speaker at a conference who quickly starts looking for a secret marriage, please don’t be led down that route. Marriage is meant to be a public celebration that protects your rights. A private nikah that likely doesn’t even meet the conditions for a valid one won’t protect you at all. You don’t know a person from a stage or a youtube video.

To Beneficiaries of Corrupt Leaders

If you’re a beneficiary of one of these people financially or in some other fashion, don’t forget that sustenance comes from Allah and not from these people. Ibn Taymiyya said, “Whoever enables an oppressor will one day be tested by him.” The nature of that test is only known to Allah, but you’re actually protecting your family by not enabling an oppression that could one day harm them. Sometimes it’s not even enabling the oppressor himself but normalizing the behavior that one day bites you or your family.

To the religious institutions that provide cover, you have a responsibility to your members to not put them in harm’s way. The first responsibility of a shepherd is to protect his flock from wolves. If we haven’t learned our lesson from other religious institutions that cover up, know that the person and institution will suffer if things are not rectified properly. If we’re going to restore confidence in religious institutions, it’s going to take slowly regaining the trust of the people by showing zero tolerance for exploitation.

To the scholars and teachers that cover for their colleagues, fear Allah for you are betraying not only the people but the tradition. Do not leave the tradition hostage to people to exploit for nefarious aims. You too will be held accountable for legitimizing an oppressor and putting people in harm’s way. If people see your association as a refutation of claims, you are the strongest cover a criminal has.

Don’t be Bystanders

To the scholars and teachers that are repulsed by this behavior — do the right thing. You too need to be mindful of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) for none of us are safe from the plotting of Shaytan and the evil of our desires. The first thing we should do when we see someone fall from glory is to seek refuge in Allah from encountering a similar fate. Every person in religious authority needs to be vigilant with themselves. Protect yourself with a strong spiritual regimen, mentorship that can hold you accountable, and do not put yourself in a situation where you could be lead astray. Always give priority to your family and be extra cautious in your interactions.

To the family and friends of these people that don’t want to feel like they’re letting down someone that they love, do not fall victim to the misguided loyalty of the days of ignorance. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said support your brother when he’s an oppressor by stopping him from oppressing. If you really loved him, you’d stop him from ruining his hereafter even further for the justice of this world is far lighter than the justice served in the hereafter. If you really loved him, you’d want him to correct himself and get help so that he may come back to Allah and start making amends. Stopping the oppressor is for his own good.

Allah Knows and Allah’s Deen is Pure

Finally, to the onlookers who are damaged when scandals about their favorite teachers start to be known. You are not alone. Some of you may have become Muslim because of this person. Some of you may have spent days, weeks, or even years, on their lectures. Through the internet, they’ve become a part of your family. But here is the thing, what made you love them was that they brought you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). You weren’t listening to them sing songs or make movies, you were listening to them teach you about Divine revelation. Let the object of your love remain the religion, and the people simply be the vessels. That way if one vessel breaks, the contents need to be transferred. The religion remains perfect and sound, even when those representing it fail to live up to it. Pray that Allah rectifies those who taught you the religion, support their victims, and let this be a lesson that no one after the Prophets 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is infallible. Let your hope and expectations only be in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

And by the way, good teachers still remain. As heartbroken as I have been by so many scandals, I still reflect on the beautiful teachers and colleagues I have known that are models of transparency and loyalty. They still exist, but the ugly ones seem to obscure the beauty.

Don’t let the failure of a few cause you to stop seeing the beauty in many.

May Allah protect our hearts, families, and communities. Ameen

Imam Omar Suleiman is the Founder & President Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research 
www.yaqeeninstitute.org

Philippine sectarian bloodshed unites Muslims and Christians

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 June, 2017 - 11:00

Despite Islamist militants’ attempts to cause division, their violence has prompted selfless interfaith compassion

They were devout Christians, but it was Islamic prayers that would ultimately save their lives.

Islamist militants in black masks were stationed on bridges – the only way out of the besieged city of Marawi – looking for Christian hostages. A priest had already been kidnapped. Risking his own life, a local Muslim leader had hidden dozens of Christians in a rice mill.

Related: Explainer: how and why Islamic State-linked rebels took over part of a Philippine city

Related: 'They kill defenceless people': thousands flee Philippine city of Marawi

Continue reading...

Muslim children forced to drop 'religious' names in western China

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 June, 2017 - 06:46

Children under 16 told ‘overly religious’ names such as Saddam, Hajj and Jihad must be changed amid pro-Communist rallies across Xinjiang region

Muslim children in China’s far western Xinjiang region are being forced to change their “religious” names and adults are being coerced into attending rallies showing devotion to the officially atheist Communist party.

During Ramadan, the authorities in Xinjiang have ordered all children under 16 to change names where police have determined they are “overly religious”. As many as 15 names have been banned, including Islam, Quran, Mecca, Jihad, Imam, Saddam, Hajj, Medina and Arafat, according to Radio Free Asia.

Related: China bans religious names for Muslim babies in Xinjiang

Continue reading...

Turning Inward vs. Social Commitments – Finding the Balance in Ramadan

altmuslim - 2 June, 2017 - 21:37
Are we supposed to cut ourselves off from others and retreat in our homes for the whole month in order to reach some heightened level of spiritual enlightenment? Is “socializing” during Ramadan a categorically blameworthy act? Or are there positive ways to socialize that are also spiritually uplifting and enlightening, and if so, what are they? And most importantly, what was the practice of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ (God’s peace and blessings upon him)?

Myanmar Muslims face charges for holding Ramadan prayers

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 June, 2017 - 15:31

Police charge three men who prayed in street after school where they used to worship was shut down by nationalists

Authorities in Myanmar have charged three Muslim men for holding Ramadan prayers in the street after the local school where they used to worship was shut down by a nationalist mob.

Related: Myanmar failing to stop spread of religious violence, UN envoy says

Related: ‘It only takes one terrorist’: the Buddhist monk who reviles Myanmar’s Muslims | Marella Oppenheim

Continue reading...

Young people are the victims of global terror, but will also unite us

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 June, 2017 - 07:33

The Manchester attack was intended to foment hatred and tension. Our work with young people shows their role in bringing communities together

After the tragic events in Manchester, it is easy to view young people as helpless victims and forget their transformative potential.

I work for Aik Saath – Together As One, a charity established almost 20 years ago in the aftermath of violence between gangs of young Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in Slough. Our founders believed that young people needed to be empowered to lead the response and ever since then we have been training young mentors to visit schools and youth centres to lead training sessions on diversity, cohesion, identity and “Britishness”.

Young people need to be empowered to lead the response

Related: Student volunteering week: 10 ways to become a social activist

Related: Aik Saath - Charity Awards Winner 2009

Continue reading...

Iftar and The NBA Finals: Lebron vs Steph Episode 1

Muslim Matters - 2 June, 2017 - 02:50

All praise is due to Allah and may the most perfect salutations be upon His messenger.

Today is a day that many people have been waiting for for the better part of a year. Today my friends, starts the NBA finals. From the beginning of the year, everyone knew that it was going to be Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. It was just a matter of time. People’s imaginations are captured by the idea of two teams meeting for the third time in three straight years, each one having one in the past two, and now this may be the deciding one; the competition being at an all time high, all of the tables are stacked, both teams healthy and loaded to the teeth, the competition is at an all time high.

It is enough to almost make one forget that they are in a competition themselves.

A real one. You see, we’re in the playoffs right now. Ramadan IS our high stakes. Every day we should be pushing ourselves to do what these players have now taken as a mantra “we’re just trying to get better each day.”

And the reality is there is a place for competition in the religion.

In fact regarding Jannah Allah says,

“وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ

So for this let the competitors compete. (Surat Al-Mutaffifeen v. 26)

The competition of the prophets

Bukhari and Muslim both report that when the Prophet (ﷺ) ascended into the heavens on the night of Mi’raj he met Musa and the following conversation occurred,

“When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses. Gabriel said (to me),’ This is Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ When I left him (i.e. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, ‘What makes you weep?’ Moses said, ‘I weep because after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.'”

And the prophet (ﷺ) said as reported by Al-Nasa’i, Abu Dawood and Ahmed among others,

“Have many children for I will boast your great numbers over the other nations on the day of Judgment.”

The competition of the companions amongst each other

One of the most striking examples of the competition of the companions in goodness was the complaint that was presented by the poor companions about the rich companions to the prophet (ﷺ). And I don’t know any other complaint that the poor ever made about the rich that was *about* their richness.

AlBukhari and Muslim both report that

Some of the poor Emigrants came to Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said to him, “The wealthy have obtained all high ranks and everlasting bliss.” He asked, “How is that?” They replied: “They offer Salat as we do, and observe Saum (fasting) as we do, but they give in Sadaqah (charity) and we do not, and they emancipate slaves and we cannot.” He (ﷺ) said, “Shall I not teach you something whereby you will catch up with those who have preceded you and will get ahead of those who follow you, and no one will surpass you unless he does the same as you do?” They said, “Surely, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Say: Subhan Allah, and Allahu Akbar, and praise Him (by saying Al-hamdu lillah) thirty-three times at the end of every Salat.” They returned to him and said: “Our brothers, the possessors of wealth, having heard what we are doing, have started doing the same.” Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “This is Grace of Allah which He gives to whom He wishes.”

And so the poor’s complaint is actually an incredible one, their complaint is not about any of the additional worldly access that the rich may experience because of their wealth, but what they feared was a spiritual access that they may have to their exclusion because of their wealth. They wanted every opportunity to be able to compete with them in giving charity. And that is an incredible testimony to the culture of the companions.

The competition of the prophet (ﷺ) and companions with previous nations

In fact, the very gift of the Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr) was a direct related to the prophet (ﷺ) and companions wanting to compete with previous nations:

In the Muwatta of Imam Malik we find:

Ziyad related to me from Malik that he had heard a man he trusted of the people of knowledge say, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was shown the lifespans of the people (who had gone) before him, or what Allah willed of that, and it was as if the lives of the people of his community had become too short for them to be able to do as many good actions as others before them had been able to do with their long lives, so Allah gave him Laylat al- Qadr, which is better than a thousand months.”

And Imam AlQurtubi reports in his tafseer that there was a King from Bani Israel who would go out and fight in the path of Allah daily with his wealth and sons, all while fasting during the days and praying during the nights. He did this continuously for a thousand months until he was killed. The companions upon hearing this said,

“No one can reach the station of this man.” And so Allah revealed, “Laylatul Qadr is better than a thousand months.”

The competition of the successors

The successors were that generation that came immediately after the companions. They saw the companions but did not see the prophet (S). Abu Muslim Al-Khawalani was of them and once was praying in the night. As he was praying he was overtaken by sleepiness but instead of succumbing he struck his thigh to wake himself and said,

أيظن أصحاب محمد أن يستأثروا به دوننا ، كلا والله ! لنزاحمنهم عليه زحاماً حتى يعلموا أنهم قد خلَّفوا وراءهم رجالاً

Do the companions of Muhammad think that they will have him exclusively (again), no by Allah. We will crowd them over him (on the day of Judgment) so that they know that the ones who came after them were men!

And this is an amazing notion, to feel that you are not only in competition with your own generation, but even the previous ones, in fact even the companions in a sense. For paradise is up for grabs, as is Al-Firdaws, as is the company of the prophet (S) in Paradise.

The competition is on. The activities are many; recitation of the Quran, prayer, du’a, feeding others, charity and repentance. The stakes are high. And victory in it is the ultimate triumph.
6

فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ

So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise is indeed Victorious. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion. (Al-Imran v. 185)

Woman In Ghana Stoned To Death For Witchcraft

Loon Watch - 2 June, 2017 - 01:08

Punishments such as stoning are imagined as only occurring among Muslims but as we’ve noted in past articles that just isn’t true. Stoning, cutting limbs, lashing etc. are carried out across the world by non-Muslims as well.

In many parts of the world, particularly parts of Africa hunting and killing witches is a recurrent issue. Danios noted in 2010 that some Christians take the Biblical command to kill witches literally.:

Yet, few Westerners realize that witch hunts are now an international problem…and it is not an area of concern limited to Muslim majority countries like Saudi Arabia.  Would it interest the Catholic apologist Robert Spencer to know that witch hunts are much more prevalent amongst Christians than Muslims?  Some Evangelicals continue to take the Bible quite literally, following its commandment: “Thou shalt not allow a sorceress to live” (Exodus, 22:18), and “sorcerers amongst you must be put to death” (Leviticus, 20:27).

Sadly, a 67 year-old woman in Ghana was recently stoned to death by a mob on the accusation that she was a witch. These stories receive little to no coverage in the West, as they don’t fit the neat bifurcation often propagated in media narratives. (h/t: Dawud Walid)

via. Modern Ghana

A 67-year-old woman has been stoned to death by the people of Tindongo in the Upper East region, after she was accused of being a witch, a claim the deceased denied vehemently.

A local reporter William Jalulah who spoke to host of Morning Starr on Starr 103.5FM Thursday stated that , was taken to the Pelungu Chief but the Chief allegedly told her accusers that she could not handle the matter since there wasn’t enough evidence to handle the matter.

The Pelungu was then handed over to the Tindongo Chief but before the Chief could sit on the matter a mob whisked the old lady and meted instant justice to her by stoning her to death.

According to William, people in the community allege that the old lady had been visiting them in their dreams at night and was the cause of several misfortunes in their life.

Superintendent Samuel Punobyin, the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Commander, with oversight responsibility for the Tongo confirmed the incident adding that the body had been taken to the morgue but has since been released to the relatives for burial.

The incident happened Monday, May 29, 2017, the same Captain Maxwell Mahama was murdered by the people of Denkyira West in the Central region.

An Appeal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Free All Rohingya Detainees in Immigration Detention Centers

Muslim Matters - 2 June, 2017 - 00:28

By Ro Nay San Lwin, Rohingya Blogger and Richard Potter, Burma Human Rights Network

The first time Nurul* truly left the refugee camp he was born in he was taken to the river with human traffickers. He was 16 years old. His parents fled Myanmar before he was born and now sold what precious little they had to pay for their sons to try to escape the camps for a better life. He was loaded onto a small trawler with other men and boys and taken to sea where they were crammed side by side and overflowing on the deck. After days without water, bobbing in the center of the ocean, men jumped into the ocean to end their suffering, escaping into the nothingness below. Women were gang raped by traffickers on board. Boys were murdered. The dead were thrown overboard. And when they finally arrived on land those who survived found themselves locked into camps where they were beaten, raped and murdered. Nurul escaped the first night believing he’d be killed if he stayed. He was arrested the following morning by Thai police and shuffled around violent and overcrowded immigration prisons for two more years before he was finally resettled and allowed to begin his life. Nurul is one of tens of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims who’ve fled state and communal violence targeting them for their religion and ethnicity, but Nurul is one of the very few who’ve been fortunate enough to be accepted as a refugee and repatriated to a third host country where he will become a citizen after having endured a life of statelessness. One day Nurul sent us an article from Bangladesh about a man who died in a gun fight with Bangladeshi police. “This man was my trafficker. He is dead now.” He expressed no joy or sadness in it. It was part of a cycle of things that should never seem normal.

The Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group living in the west of majority Buddhist Myanmar who are widely considered to be one of the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world. Government policies have marginalized the community for decades, ultimately stripping them of citizenship and fundamental human rights. The Government has periodically initiated military campaigns against the Rohingya which resulted in mass waves of exodus, including one which displaced Nurul’s family. In 2012, the Rohingya were subject to wide-spread anti-Muslim riots following the rape and murder of a Buddhist woman which was blamed on Muslim men. The riots resulted at least a hundred deaths with well over 100,000 people permanently displaced in the country. Most unsettling about the riots were reports of Myanmar Security forces taking part in the riots against the Rohingya at a time they clearly needed protection. In many instances security forces were observed not interfering or attempting to stop the violence. In Bangladesh, there are 30,000 registered refugees who’ve fled violence since 1992 and estimates as high as half a million living as unregistered refugees in hiding or in squalid makeshift camps. Many observers, including those from Yale Law School and The International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London, have warned that the crimes against the Rohingya may amount to Genocide. The UN’s Human Right’s office, OHCHR, has said that the Rohingya may be enduring Crimes Against Humanity.

This past fall a militant group attacked three police posts on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, killing 9 officers. In response the Myanmar Military and Police have waged an especially brutal campaign against the Rohingya living in Maungdaw Township and its surrounding villages in retaliation. Human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as well as international media have all recorded testimony and evidence of mass killings of civilians, extra judicial assassination, rape, gang rape, sexual humiliation, torture, arson of entire villages, deaths of prisoners in custody, the destruction of food and forced displacement. To date at least 65,000 Rohingya were led to Bangladesh since October 2016. About 20,000 have been displaced internally and remained in Myanmar.

While most have escaped through traffickers on boats to Malaysia and Indonesia, for others another path became possible. As the boats like the one Nurul escaped on were blocked or increasingly dangerous, some young Rohingya men found an alternate way to escape, again working with traffickers and brokers. These men sold everything they owned and everything their families owned to arrange for Bangladeshi passports, Nepalese passports, Pakistani passports – whatever they could obtain through brokers who then coordinated pilgrimages to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for them, where they could try to seek long-term refuge. Their dream was to find a place of compassion, freedom, a chance to prove their worth and finally use their lives to take care of the people they love. Hundreds have raised enough money to fund their way to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, getting to King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah. Once they land at the airport their fingerprints are recorded and stored.

For many of these young men they quickly realize that the dreams they had hoped for will not come true. Many have their lives made difficult by brokers, they find themselves unable to obtain steady work, they end up having to hide constantly from the police and finally many are arrested. Since 2013 up until today more than 600 Rohingyas have been detained at various immigration checkpoints and raids in the cities of Jeddah and Makkah.

“Once we were arrested, they brought us to the police station and checked our fingerprints. They found our fingerprints in the system saying we were from Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan because we held those passports which were given to us by brokers. So here we are identified as various nationals by the documents recorded at the entry.,” A Rohingya detainee who spoke on the condition of anonymity told us. He has been in Jeddah immigration detention center, known as Semishi, for over 3 years.

“According to our entry documents in the system, the legal way here is to deport us to those countries but we are not actually from those countries. So whenever the Embassies’ officials came to verify us, we told them frankly that we are Rohingyas from Myanmar. The Embassies officials then responded that we should stay here and they told us they can’t take someone who doesn’t belong to their countries. So we remain here in the prison and no one cares about us,” the young man who is in his 20s continued.

The situation in Rakhine State is getting worse day by day. A few hundred people have been killed, thousands of homes have been burnt to the ground and a few hundred women and girls have been raped by Myanmar Soldiers. These events took place as part of clearance operation against the Rohingya which use the pretext of responding to attacks on three Myanmar Border Guard Police outposts on October 9th. The Military’s response has been indiscriminate, disproportionate and observers believe many of the actions by the Myanmar Security Forces amount to Crimes Against Humanity. According to the UN, 65,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh and 21,000 are internally displaced.

For years accounts from Rohingyas regarding the scale of atrocities committed by the Burmese Government have often been met with scrutiny and suspicion from governments and media. In some cases, maybe the degree of horror is too difficult to believe. In another regard, maybe others find it harder to believe the poor and weak over the powerful. But in these past few months every investigation has confirmed what we have reported for years, and what Rohingya in Myanmar have been shouting in hopes that anyone might hear them. The UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several others have all found accounts of rape, gang rape, murder, extrajudicial assassination, torture, sexual humiliation and forced displacement to be credible. The Rohingya’s accounts are validated, yet their people are still suffering. Until the suffering ends the Rohingya will continue to flee at any chance they see where they may be able to live as free humans do, as Allah, as God, created us to do. They will brave traffickers and unforgiving seas. They will risk swimming across rivers as soldiers shoot at them from their posts. They will put their lives in the hands of nefarious men in the hopes enough money will lead them to escape. They will do all of this so they freely, as all of us were born to be.

The Rohingyas in the detention center in Jeddah had only one hope: To support their families in Rakhine State. Now they are helpless while their loved ones are killed, raped and displaced.

Some Rohingyas attempted to raise the issue at an extraordinary session meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 19th. The Rohingya who tried to contact them said they were unable to get their appeal letter to the OIC foreign ministers, despite trying every avenue available to them.

“We appeal to His Majesty the King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to help us. We can support our families if we are released and can work here. Our little support will be huge for many hundreds of families in our country,” the man said his appeal is on behalf of all Rohingyas in the detention center.

Speaking to more than a dozen detainees over the phone we heard them all tell similar accounts, all equally heartbreaking.

Although the center isn’t as bad as Myanmar or prison, the voices of the men inside should be heard, recognized and honored. Their most human desires for freedom and the ability to support their families should be met with compassion. These men should be released. They should be allowed the right to work in the country as the Kingdom had allowed thousands of Rohingya to do before, following genocidal campaigns in Myanmar against them which began in 1978.

According to the detainees, there are more than 600 Rohingyas currently in the detention center. We have obtained many details including the identification numbers of 248 detainees. The men in the center want to provide us with more details but they say they can not move freely within the center to gather all of the information which I have asked for in order to help raise their concerns.

We are appealing humbly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on behalf of these Rohingyas to release them immediately and provide these innocent people with work permits. With this they can finally support their families and know freedom they have been denied their entire lives. We are willing to cooperate with Saudi government to verify any of their identities. We can be reached by e-mail at info@rohingyablogger.com.

*Named changed for anonymity

The Ramadan Blessings of the Number Thirty-Three

altmuslim - 1 June, 2017 - 23:12
The number of years it takes our beloved Ramadan to complete a seasonal cycle. A cycle fashioned by Al-Musawwir, The Fashioner. A cycle that allows us to experience the blessings of Ramadan during the death of winter. A cycle that allows us to bear witness to Allah’s mercy during the renewal of spring. A cycle that allows us to greet the Month of the Qur’an in the heat of summer. A most beautiful cycle that allows us to know the Holy Month through the transitions of fall.

Al-Britannia, My Country by James Fergusson review – a compelling survey of British Islam

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 June, 2017 - 07:30
Assimilation, identity, conservatism and sex are among the issues explored in this study of Britain’s fastest-growing minority population

That Islam is on the rise in the United Kingdom is one of the few things that Islamophobes and Islamophiles agree on. Since 2001, the number of Muslims has doubled, to more than 3 million, or 5% of the population; for years, Muhammad in its various spellings has been at the top of the list of names for baby boys. By 2020, half the population of Bradford, one of the most Muslim cities in the UK, as well as one of the most fecund, will be under 20. A question that has grown even more salient in the light of the recent Manchester bombing – the handiwork of Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Mancunian of Libyan background – is: what to do with our young Muslims?

A condition for answering this, as James Fergusson makes clear in his compelling and compassionate survey of British Islam, is to recognise that the story of Muslims in this country isn’t solely – or even mainly – one of faith. To take the example of Bradford once more, its schools are way down the league tables, and poverty and drug dealing are widespread, while in early 2016 – when Fergusson made his research trip to the city – a gang of Asian men from neighbouring Keighley were jailed for using an underage white girl as a sex slave.

Related: Polly Toynbee: We must be free to criticise without being called racist

Related: Shazia Mirza: 'Look at me – Isis would stone me to death'

The government’s cultivation of 'moderate' Islamic groups has been undermined by the perception that they are stooges

Continue reading...

Peter Dutton defends Asio director over refugee and terrorism comments

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 June, 2017 - 02:29

Minister expresses confidence in Duncan Lewis after Tony Abbott said he should reassess views on cause of terrorism

Peter Dutton has defended the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director, Duncan Lewis, over his evidence to the Senate rejecting One Nation’s claims of a link between refugees and terrorism.

At a doorstop on Thursday, Dutton said if anyone wanted to level criticism at the refugee program they should criticise him and argued terrorism was caused by radicalisation regardless of people’s method of arrival in Australia.

Related: Tony Abbott says Asio chief needs to 'think again' on causes of terrorism

Related: Asio head tells Pauline Hanson there is 'no evidence' of link between refugees and terrorism

Continue reading...

Pages

Subscribe to The Revival aggregator