Queensland MP George Christensen announces on Facebook he will attend Mackay rally to defend Australia against ‘the threat of radical Islam’
Coalition MP George Christensen has announced he will speak at the Reclaim Australia rally in Queensland on Sunday, saying he wants to defend Australia’s freedoms from “the threat of radical Islam”.
The controversial Nationals MP made the announcement on his Facebook page.Continue reading...
Down the centuries, people have associated full-moon nights with weird occurrences and strange behaviour. An increase in crime, mayhem and madness, lunatics on the loose – werewolves, even, have all been linked to the eerie effects of the full moon. ‘It is the very error of the moon. She comes more near the earth than she was wont. And makes men mad,’ wrote Shakespeare in Othello. In fact, the very notion of lunacy and of calling someone a lunatic; a madman or insane person, comes from luna, the Latin word for “moon” (lunaticus, “moon-struck”).
Full moon phases aside, bouts of lunacy and madness may be seen during another of its phases: the new [crescent] moon. For it is here you’ll see that even the otherwise mild-mannered Muslim, usually not one to argue or to get involved in the ‘politics’ of things, become ‘moon-struck’ with madness and frenzy. Yes, determining when the new moon for Ramadan has been observed or not brings out the werewolf in many of us!
The story’s familiar. Muslims wait in pious anticipation for Ramadan, wondering who will sight the moon, and where? News comes that it’s been spotted. Where? In Ye Olde Middle-East (usually, it seems, in Saudi Arabia). Voices dissent. Objectors insist that astronomical calculations make the so-called sighting impossible. But we are assured that just and reliable witnesses have sworn to sighting the crescent moon. Who now to believe? What now to do? Meanwhile, egos warm up. Confusion kicks off. The game begins. Some scholars try to keep the peace trying desperately to referee the match. Other scholars take entrenched positions, yelling from the sidelines. The lay folk feel to wade in and egg on their team. Shouting starts. Arguments intensify. Unity wavers. Lunacy attacks. Lunacy slyfully dribbles the ball past Unity’s fragile defence, whacking the ball straight into the back of the net. Final whistle goes. Game over. Lunacy wins. Unity loses … yet again!
Bickering on the terraces, rivalry in the hearts, and bitter words on the tongues linger long after the whistle is blown. As the unsettled and frustrated crowds make their way home, murmurs are mumbled beneath edgy breaths: Will Unity ever have its day?
I’m not the first person to suggest the following, and I’ll certainly not be the last: But good intentions are not going to be enough to resolve the problem. What is needed is to understand why there is such a difference in the first place, and what the Islamic ruling on moon sighting is. Only then can we begin to know what collective options are lawfully open to us and what, if anything, we can do to unify our ranks. As it happens, the fiqh aspect of it (if we omit the practical details and focus on the basic theory) isn’t that difficult to grasp.
No doubt, the arrival of Ramadan is confirmed by sighting the new crescent moon, or by the passing of thirty days in the month immediately before Ramadan – the month of Sha‘ban. The Prophet, peace be upon him, decreed:
“Fast when you see it [the new moon] and end the fast when you see it. If it is hidden from you, then wait until thirty days of Sha‘ban have passed.”
Based upon the above hadith, most jurists hold that if there is a confirmed sighting of the new moon in any given country or region, fasting becomes obligatory for all those living there and for those living in other countries and regions too – whether they are nearby or distant. This is provided news of the sighting reaches them in a reliable and binding manner. Distance is not an issue: reliable sighting and reliable conveyance of the sighting is. This is the opinion of the Hanafis, Maliks and Hanbalis. According to these jurists, ‘Fast when you see it (sumu li ru’yatihi),’ refers to all Muslims being bound to wherever a sighting of the new moon takes place globally.
In contrast, another group of jurists (mainly the Shafi‘is) believes that the you refers to the sighting of the moon for a particular region. People resident in that region and in ‘nearby’ regions of the confirmed sighting must fast. Those in ‘distant’ regions aren’t required to follow the sighting. Rather, they are to follow their own regional sighting. The term ‘nearby’ is, however, disputed. Some judge it in terms of a specific number of miles, some in terms of same sighting-zone (ittihad al-matla‘), while others in terms of nearby countries.
Those who advocate that each region should take its own sighting into consideration, and need not follow the sighting of others, base their view on the following narration: Kurayb who, having been sent by Umm al-Fadl to Syria on an errand, recollects: ‘I reached Syria and completed the errand. Whilst in Syria, the new moon for Ramadan appeared. I saw the new moon on Thursday night. I then returned to Madinah at the end of the month where ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas inquired about the new moon, asking me: “When did you observe the new moon?” I replied: I saw it on Thursday night. He said: ‘Did you actually see it?” I replied: Yes, as did the people; so they fasted and so did Mu‘awiyah. He said: ‘We spotted it on Friday night, so we shall not stop fasting till we complete thirty days or we sight it [the new moon].” I said: Doesn’t Mu‘awiyah’s sighting and fasting suffice? He said: “No! This is how we were instructed by Allah’s Messenger, peace be upon him.”‘
Thus the classical manuals of fiqh, or Islamic law, essentially convey to us two views concerning how the month of Ramadan should commence – either by global sighting or by local sighting. In order to unify our ranks in Ramadan, we will have to first unify our word by agreeing to one of the two valid ways of moonsighting. Here, opinionated egos will need to be reigned in (as will sectarianism, braderi-clan bigotry, party politics and geo-political agendas), in order to reach a common accord. Saudi-sponsored mosques will have to learn to ignore their paymasters and put the welfare of the Muslims of this country first – considering the issue on its own merits and not driven by external motives. There simply isn’t a view in the shari‘ah that states we are duty bound or encouraged to follow the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its moonsighting, even more so given its highly-controversial track record. Ironically, the kingdom’s two most respected religious authorities, the late Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Baz and the late Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin, were both committed advocates of local sighting – repeatedly giving fatwas that people should follow their own country’s sighting.
Unquestionably, each view has its textual support and historical validity, as well as its practicality and its pros and cons. Perhaps we should stick with the majority view and opt for global sighting, trying to keep in line with the ummah at large? Or perhaps we should opt for local sighting, and so shield ourselves from the divisive hullabaloo that usually accompanies global moonsighting?
British Muslims need to see a growing voice of unity emerge from their scholars and religious leaders on this issue. We need to see some sort of consensus forming, even if slowly. Some scholars have been trying to bring the relevant players around the table for this very purpose – but given that Britain, this sceptred isle, this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea, is but a small island – it seems they’ve not quite done enough.
If for some bizarre reason we cannot manage to unite on one of the above two ways of commencing Ramadan, then all is not lost. For it seems that the shari‘ah has given us another lifeline. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
“Fast when they fast and stop fasting when they stop, and sacrifice they day they sacrifice.”
Imam al-Tirmidhi says after relating this hadith: ‘Some of the scholars explain that this hadith means: to fast and break fast along with the congregation and the majority of people (anna’l-sawma wa’l-fitra ma‘a’l-jama‘ah wa ‘izam al-nas).’
The London-based jurist and legalist, Sh. Haitham al-Haddad, argued unsuccessfully for adopting the majoritarian view several years back in a live TV debate (see here and also here). Some of his fellow panelists, as well as some in the audience, seemed to thoroughly miss his point. They were under the impression that he was insisting we should all follow Makkah – when in fact he was insisting we should all follow Makkah only if that is what the majority are already doing. If the majority are doing something else, then that is what should be followed was his emphasis. It seems that all some people were hearing was a Saudi-schooled scholar telling British Muslims to follow Saudi moon sightings. Yet that wasn’t the case at all. The shaykh was simply insisting on applying the fiqh understanding from the above hadith. Regrettably, the TV debate was a serious lost opportunity.
So how could this hadith be practically employed? Well, it could be used only if one of the other two moonsighting methods cannot be decidedly agreed to. So whether the country follows the Hanafi view on moonsighting – as they constitute the majority of Muslims in the UK; or follows the majority of mosques – which seem to be Deobandi in persuasion; or follows Makkah – not because of Saudi, but because that’s what the masses are perhaps now doing: regardless of whether they do it through convenience, confusion or ignorance. If a majoritarian practice by British Muslims can be discerned and accepted, then perhaps our collective hand has been forced and the decision been made. Whatever be the case, and in the absence of a national unified British Muslim moonsighting body, this majoritarian option should not be so easily dismissed. ‘Ulema and mosque committees could have their work cut out for them.
Where can we go from here? We do urgently need to ignite a more fruitful national scholarly discussion concerning the fiqh of moonsighting; the sooner, the better. And if not national, then we should certainly think of how we can unite our word in more cities and regions of Britain. What we ask is for our ‘ulema and our religious leaders to step up to the mark and steer this ship, as only they can. This is a religious burden far too great for anyone but them to bear. The rest of us – we can certainly make suggestions; but beyond that we need to reign in our individualistic tendencies and align ourselves with the larger collective and the greater good.
Of course, there are other problems related to moonsighting which need to be ironed out. The main one, it seems, concerns the use of astronomical (falaki) calculations to determine the new moon and its sighting. I’ll suffice here by saying that the majority of jurists have, and still continue to rule out the use of calculations. The hadiths, they protest, stipulate actual ‘eye-witnessing’ or ‘seeing’ the crescent after sunset on the 29th day. If it is seen, the new month begins; if not, the month has thirty days and the next month automatically starts after the sunset of the 30th day. What could be simpler, they argue, for any society in any time or place! For them, using calculation is conjectural (zanni) in the knowledge it yields. Moreover, astronomical calculations and computational algorithms are beyond the grasp of the general masses to master, and the Lawgiver only obligates people with what their masses can reasonably know.
Some modern voices argue that since pre-modern Muslims did not have access to the precise moonsighting calculations we have today, therefore we shouldn’t be held hostage to their scientific limitations, upon which their medieval fatwas rested? This, I suggest, is to be wholly ignorant of the facts. While it is true they didn’t have the algorithmic computations we have today, the Muslim world of old was certainly not backward nor scientifically-stunted in terms of lunar calculations. On the contrary, astronomers (and scholars who were learned in astronomy) held public offices throughout Muslim lands, producing highly complex and impressive computations, charts and almanacs for lunar sightings and visibilities. This is attested to by both modern Muslim as well as non-Muslim specialists in the field. Yet despite this, the near totally of jurists still insisted on sighting the moon as a textually-stipulated duty. Why? Because sighting is the actual legal rational, or ‘illah, for commencing the month. In fact, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Hubayrah, and another of the school’s masters, Ibn Taymiyyah, as well as the Maliki legalist al-Qarafi, all cite a unanimous agreement of the Salaf and the Four Schools on not using calculations – regardless of how accurate they may be.
Another mistaken notion embedded in the above voices is the claim that we modern people have now got moon visibility calculations down to a tee; that is simply not true. It appears that two distinct lunar events are being conflated here – the moon’s birth or conjunction (where the earth, moon and sun, in that order, are in roughly the same line), and the moon’s visibility from the earth. The first can be calculated as a matter of fact; the second, only as a matter of prediction – even if such predictions are highly accurate. That is to say, astronomers can calculate the positions of the sun, moon and earth, relative to one another down to a dot, and can hence determine the new moon’s birth with pinpoint accuracy. Such unquestionable precision is not the case when it comes to calculating the new moon’s actual visibility from here on earth. To put it in Islamic legal jargon, calculating the new moon’s conjunction is qat‘i, certain, beyond doubt; calculating its visibility from the earth, zanni: [highly] probable. For there is no one specific formula for determining the visibility of the new young moon. Instead, it rests on several factors: the moon’s path across the sky (angle of ecliptic), how much dust or pollution there is in the sky, and even the sharpness of the observer’s eyesight. In cases where the moon’s path doesn’t run parallel to the horizon, but rather at right angles to it, the young moon may be spotted as little as 24 hours after it was new. If it does, then at least 36 hours.
Since new moon [conjunction] calculations are incredibly accurate, some argue that they can and should be used to aid and narrow the scope of visibility forecasts, as well as rule out any negative moonsightings. Which means that any claims of spotting the young [crescent] moon from earth before conjunction occurs, or before it is physically possible to see (such as when the moon sets before the sun does), will be ruled out and considered invalid. Only those sighting will be accepted that fall within the scope of astronomical calculations.
On the face of it, this sounds very reasonable. The conditions for a valid testimony of moonsighting must be physically and rationally possible. Decisive astronomical data can be used to rule out dubious or questionable testimonies or sightings, but not to establish the actual crescent. That has to be done through actual valid sighting. This is the opinion of the jurist-astronomer, and research lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Sh. Afifi, and other jurists for the last several centuries. Incidentally, and given his credentials, Shaykh Afifi’s fatwa on moonsighting is possibly the most definitive word on the subject in the English language: it can be read here.
Now while this view combines the best of both worlds, it seems to have one gremlin under its bonnet; one niggling glitch. A growing size of groups and individuals, over the last decade or so, have testified to seeing the young moon before the astronomical data said it was possible! And it’s not just a matter of one or two individual in Saudi Arabia that are doing so. The Indian scholar, Shaykh Yahya Numani informed me last year that he has been an advocate of the above, negative moonsighting view for some time now. Yet recently, some of his seniors, and those whose knowledge, integrity and moonsighting abilities he firmly trusts, have testified to seeing the moon before the astronomically possible times too. He said that it has been seen by groups consisting of many individuals across various parts of India over the past few years! It’s a bit of a pickle. Then again, maybe they’re events for which one can invoke the legal maxim: al-nadiru ka’l-ma‘dum – ‘the rare occurrence is like something that has not happened’? Or a case of: al-zannu la yu‘aridu’l-qat‘a – ‘the probable cannot override the definite’? But what is definite here, the negative moonsighting or the several/tens of witnesses? Is one shari‘ah bound to accept the calculation, or accept the large body of witnesses? Further juristic clarification is needed here.
Just before concluding, I’d like to throw into the discussion two points to consider: the first concerns the idea of a ‘universal’ start day for Ramadan, or a ‘universal’ ‘Id day. Has that ever been such a thing? Yes, there is the juristic view that the sighting of one place is binding on all other places that come to reliably know of it. Yet the actual practice of the ummah, for long ages now, has been for every place to follow its own Imam or head of state, or its own regional sighting. This has been the agreed upon practice for long ages now. In fact, historically, we do not see any one of the caliphs or rulers of the Islamic caliphate ever sending out royal decrees or letters to the various provinces to follow their moonsighting. Even in the hadith of Kurayb, we just don’t find Mu‘awiyah (who was the caliph of the time) sending out a state decree or edict to make his moon sighting binding on all other provinces. Hence Ibn ‘Abbas did what he did. The idea of a universal day of fasting, or ‘Id, where Muslims all around the globe unitedly fast and celebrate, is a very touching and sentimental thought; but contrary to the ummah’s historical practice. Indeed, some hold that this newfangled notion of calling for a universal day is actually a bid‘ah: an innovation having no basis in Islam, at odds with the historically agreed upon practice of the ummah.
The second issue concerns what we Muslims in Britain should do. Given the above, and given also that Shaykh Afifi and others up and down Britain consistently moonsight every month – and have been religiously doing so for many years, we should all seriously consider following local moonsighting. The benefits of doing so will not be hidden from the readers: Firstly, we have Greenwich observatory to give us excellent visibility predictions for the moon (as do websites like moonsighting.com). Secondly, local moonsighting has been successfully practiced by Muslims in Britain for decades (along with Morocco, which falls in our local moonsighting zone). Thirdly, British Muslims can take charge of their own affairs in this highly erratic issue, rather than waiting on global news and the complications, controversies and confusion it so often brings. Fourthly, local moonsighting would also allow for the various religious groups up and down Britain to more easily unite on a common word, God willing. Fifthly, by doing so we could return to a more normative, pragmatic and historically-rooted way of moonsighting, prior to the 1972 Arabian fiasco and prior to the 1986 geo-political jostling in Britain. The Afifian method would be employed – use calculations so as to rule out negative sightings; be guided by data for visibility predictions to aid actual sighting, and then actually go out and try and sight that sought after slither of silver. Wa’Llahu’l-musta‘an.
Conclusion: for now, for this Ramadan, rather than everyone doing their own thing and further fragmenting unity, it is best to delegate authority to our local mosques and follow their decision. It is important to give up one’s personal opinion in favour of the local mosque, simply for the sake of greater unity. Since we have no single agreed-upon national hilal committee here in the UK that could act as our ‘Imam’ as it were, we should devolve responsibility to the next authoritative level, which is that of mosques. The burden is then upon them to get it right. If one feels that their local mosque is out of sync with other mosques in the city or area and one is convinced that their mosque is truly out of step with the majority, then they should quietly differ from their local mosque – without making a fuss of furore about it. But if the local mosque is in sync with others in the area or city, then even if one disagrees with them personally, one should fast with the majority of people.
Until we don’t have a clear, decided national majority, local or regional majorities are going to have to suffice. As has been written elsewhere, let’s not make this Ramadan an issue of moonsighting vs. moonfighting! Let’s keep our egos, tempers, tongues and personal opinions in check. Or else, what would that be saying or portraying about ourselves as Muslims?
Before the mid-eighties, when we used to all follow Morocco’s moonsighting here in Britain, urban legend has it that the man in Morocco who was tasked with the job of telexing or faxing us the good news that Morocco had just spotted the moon, forgot or fell asleep. We had to collectively (and inconveniently) make up a missed day of Ramadan later. That one unintended foul was a game-changer; it was to bring other less benign things into play. Players who had, up until then, performed pretty well were substituted. Egos, envy and geo-politics jogged on to the pitch. Instead of that magic, unified 4-3-3 formation, came division and disarray. The game’s never been quite the same since. The game’s never been quite that beautiful.
Whether the urban legend is true or not, I’d like it to think it is. I’d like to believe that we British Muslims were not too long ago more unified; only so it can give us hope for a more unified future. Hope is incredibly important.
And Allah knows best.
 Al-Bukhari, no.1776; Muslim, no.1080.
 The Hanafi position is typified in Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 2003), 3:363-4; the Maliki in Khalil b. Ishaq, al-Tawdih Sharh Mukhtasar Ibn al-Hajib (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 2012), 2:203; the Hanbali in al-Bahuti, Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat (Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 2000), 2:341.
 The Shafi‘i positioned is summarised in al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 7:172.
 Muslim, no.1087; al-Tirmidhi, no.693, where he said: ‘The people of knowledge act by this hadith that every region has its own moonsighting.’ A thorough discussion of both views is presented in al-Kandahlawi, Awjaz al-Masalik (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2003), 5:22-31.
 Ibn Baz, Majmu‘ Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1997), 15:85, 99, 102; Ibn ‘Uthaymin, Sharh al-Mumti‘ (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2005), 6:310-11.
 Al-Tirmidhi, no.697.
 Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi (Riyadh: Dar al-Salam, 1999), 178; n.697.
 Consult: H. Yusuf, Cesarean Moon Births (USA: Zaytuna Institute, 2007), 52-58. The shaykh also discussed (pp.36-52) the view of the five scholars who apparently allowed calculations to begin the month – based on the hadith: ‘… if it is cloudy, then estimate it (fa in ghumma ‘alaykum faqduru lahu).’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1900; Muslim, no.1080]. He shows how, firstly, they permitted this only if the sky is overcast on the 29th night (as per the hadith); that is, obscurity is a condition for calculation. Secondly, even if one were to argue that obscurity wasn’t essential, there is nothing decisive in their words to suggest they advocated calculations in lieu of moonsighting.
 See: al-Ijma‘ ‘inda A’immat Ahl al-Sunnah al-Arba‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-‘Ubaykan, 2003), 77; Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 25:207; al-Furuq (Beirut: Maktabah al-‘Asriyyah, 2002), 2:177, respectively.
 Al-Tayyar, Wablu’l-Ghamamh fi Sharh ‘Umdat al-Fiqh li Ibn Qudamah (Saudi Arabia, Madar al-Watn, 2012), 2:141; Zawman, Ghayat al-Muqtasidin Sharh Manhaj al-Salikin (Saudi Arabia: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2013), 2:86; and the aforementioned fatwa of Afifi.
VIRGINIA – Amid increasing trend of Islamophobic attacks against Muslims, a US Muslim advocacy group has called on the American authorities to thoroughly investigate the attack on Virginia mosque as a possible hate crime.
“Because of the effort required to sever the air conditioning lines, the history of previous incidents targeting the mosque and the rise in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide, we believe it is essential that law enforcement authorities investigate a possible bias motive for this vandalism,” Ibrahim Hooper, the National Communications Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was quoted by NBC Washington News.
According to CAIR, an official with Manassas Muslim Association reported heavy copper air conditioning pipes at the mosque were cut Monday as worshipers finished morning prayers.
Worshipers heard a strange noise around 5 am but thought it was trash being picked up, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reported.
When the mosque began to warm up, they went outside and found the severed pipes.
Manassas Police are currently investigating the attack.
A 19-year-old Brooklyn woman’s jaw was fractured by a man who hurled his fists and anti-Muslim remarks at her in Chinatown, cops said Tuesday.
The woman was wearing “garb identifiable with the Muslim faith” and speaking to her brother in Urdu when the man accused the pair of talking about him at 10:40 p.m. Saturday on East Broadway, police said.
“B—h, what you say, you racist motherf—er, you talking about me in your own language?” the 5-foot-10 black man wearing a dark baseball hat, T-shirt and pants said before yelling the slurs, spitting at and punching the woman, cops said.
As the MPs identified by Sadiq Khan (Electing a Muslim mayor would send out message of tolerance, says Khan, 3 July) who met with the then prime minister, Tony Blair, following the shocking 7/7 London attacks, we are extremely troubled by Khan’s evidently self-serving revisionism. Having conferred with Mohammed Sarwar (who is now Pakistan-based), we feel compelled to reveal that Khan’s account is at complete odds with our collective recollection.
He now claims that Blair was somehow accusatory towards Muslims as a whole for 7/7, and that Khan was combative in chastising the prime minister for presuming to call him to Downing Street to somehow take responsibility. Our Downing Street discussions in fact ended with a unanimous agreement on the need for unity in the fight against terror and the crucial role for Muslims.Continue reading...
Read some of the objections of the residents and you know that most of it is disguised bigotry and hate for a religion and people they don’t understand or comprehend.
One participant in a local council meeting however was quite explicit in how he thinks the planned cemetery should be dealt with, “Take and dump pig’s blood and put pig’s heads on a post so they won’t buy the land,” he said.
It’s as if in the imagination of these easily frightened townsfolk the deceased Muslims will somehow turn into zombies and thereafter Shariah Law will be instated.
FARMERSVILLE, Texas — Plans for a Muslim cemetery northeast of Dallas have some people living nearby in an uproar.
JD Miles of KTVT was there for a fiery city council meeting.
“We used to grow a lot of onions here, we sure enough don’t want to be growing bodies,” Collin County resident Troy Gosnell said.
Some residents don’t have a problem with a cemetery nearby.
“All my life I’ve lived next to a cemetery, it’s never bothered me,” Mont Hendricks said.
However, if this undeveloped land off Highway 380 becomes a cemetery used primarily to bury Muslims, many Farmersville residents who filled city hall Tuesday night will have a major problem.
“This is not a money maker for the city of Farmersville. So regardless of whether you like Muslims or not, it doesn’t conform,” one resident said during the meeting.
Residents packed city hall after the meeting agenda referenced the development of a cemetery by the Islamic Association of Collin County. It’s generated opposition from those who don’t want Muslims in the town of 3,000 and even question how they bury their dead.
“When somebody dies they bury them at that time. They don’t know whether they were shot, diseased or anything else. All they do is wrap them in a sheet from the grave and bury them,” Gosnell said.
“The bodies are generally above the water. We get rain just like we did. It’s going to be in our drinking system,” Collin County resident Patricia Munroe said.
Local Islamic leaders have tried to dispel those beliefs, calling them untrue and offensive.
“They are fearful of what they don’t understand and hopefully it’s an opportunity for us to come together and learn a little bit more about each other and hopefully dispel some of those misconceptions,” said Alia Salem of the Council on American Islamic Relations Dallas.
Farmersville city council members didn’t even discuss the cemetery during the meeting because it’s not ready for a vote. But residents have organized and some are even making threats to keep it from being approved.
“Take and dump pig’s blood and put pig’s heads on a post so they won’t buy the land,” one person said during the meeting.
No one involved in the proposed cemetery project was at Tuesday night’s meeting. The proposal still has to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission before it’s voted on by the city council.
Eid message attributed to reclusive Taliban leader expected to increase support for militants’ role in Afghan civil society, amid threat from Islamic State
A message claimed to be from Taliban leader Mullah Omar has endorsed recent talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials, saying that negotiating with the enemy is not prohibited in Islam.
The message was released on Wednesday to mark the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and comes a week after an official government delegation met with senior members of the Taliban outside the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The meeting was the first time in several years that the two sides have had an official sit-down. It has followed a series of informal meetings since May in China, Qatar and Norway.Continue reading...
Ahmed and Khalifa Ben Yahia went out after iftar and never returned, along with 31 other people from their sleepy desert town in Tunisia
It has been more than a week since Abdallah Ben Yahia last saw his brothers Ahmed, 35, and Khalifa, 27.
After sharing the nightly iftar to end the Ramadan fast, Ahmed, an employee of the Tunisian air force, headed out of the home in Remada. His family assumed he had gone for a coffee and cigarette in the cafe, as usual.Continue reading...
Neo-Nazism in the guise of “patriotism” doesn’t only effect America, it also has a hold on some Aussies.
White supremacists will be rallying against “Islam” in Australia.
An anti-Islam nationalist group that has aligned itself with neo-Nazis and other far-right organizations says it will hold Australia’s biggest ever “patriot rally” at Melbourne’s Parliament House next weekend.
The group, United Patriots Front, is a breakaway of the Reclaim Australia movement and includes a man convicted of anti-Semitic harassment among its leaders.
The UPF claims solidarity with the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which was founded by Holocaust denier Nikos Michaloliakos, who along with other party members is facing charges in his homeland of being a member of a criminal organization.
Police are investigating messages sent on social media that appear to show discussion about members “packing” (slang for bringing a weapon) at Saturday’s rally.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said investigators were checking the veracity of the messages.
About 70 members of the UPF attended a violent anti-Islam rally on the steps of the Richmond Town Hall in May, which saw scuffles break out between members and counter-protesters.
A full 10 months after Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu made his way into Gaza, not to be heard from since, officials have allowed his name to appear in print, and The New York Times has offered us a report that promotes Israeli spin, omitting key details and glossing over the government’s unsavory role in this strange tale.
Isabel Kershner tells us that Israeli officials, lifting a gag order on the story, announced that Mengistu and a second Israeli citizen, a Palestinian, were being held in Gaza. Officials said Mengistu crossed into Gaza voluntarily on Sept. 7, but they had nothing more to report about the other man.
Kershner’s story gives the impression that Israeli officials have been working hard to free the men, but it omits details reported in other media that suggest a far different story. These reports state that officials ignored the Ethiopian’s case until American blogger Richard Silverstein exposed the name of the missing man last month and Ethiopian-Israelis began raising the issue in street protests.
It was only then, this past week, that the government agreed to lift the gag order, which had applied to Mengistu’s family as well as news media. Family members are now saying that the government forced them to remain silent but failed to respond to their requests for information and help until recently.
An Israeli television station, Channel 10, gave weight to their claims by broadcasting a conversation between a Netanyahu aide and Mengistu’s parents. Israelis heard Lior Lotan, Netanyahu’s representative for missing persons, threaten the family members and warn them against criticizing the government’s handling of the case or blaming it on discrimination.
If they did so, he said, their son would be left “in Gaza for another year.” The recording also captures complaints by Mengistu’s father that he had written to Netanyahu several times and received no response. The prime minister, according to reports, never called the family until just before lifting the gag order.
But nothing of this appears in the Times story. Here we are told that “the news blackout regarding Mr. Mengistu had been imposed with the agreement of his family.” We also hear that Netanyahu is taking a tough line, telling Hamas he holds the party responsible for the welfare of the two men.
Kershner appears eager to counter the charges of discrimination coming from the Ethiopian community and their supporters. She repeatedly links Mengistu’s disappearance to the case of Gilad Shalit, an Askenazi Jew, who was taken captive in 2006 in Gaza and later exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. The Shalit affair “traumatized” Israeli society, she writes, and the Mengistu case threatens to “open old wounds.”
The Shalit affair followed a different route and quickly received widespread publicity in Israel, with a full-scale campaign for his release. Ethiopian-Israelis, who have been protesting government treatment this year, have noted the difference.
Kershner, however, waits until her final paragraphs before she makes brief mention of the Mengistu family’s objections to the government response. Their complaints, she implies, are part of a general “discontent” on the part of Ethiopian Israelis who have made “accusations of discrimination and police harassment.”
Kershner’s story avoids still further evidence that Netanyahu had little interest in the Mengistu case: Several officials in the Security Cabinet and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said after the gag order was lifted that they had never received official briefings on the affair.
It was a request from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Kershner writes, that finally led officials to lift the news blackout. Authorities had rejected previous requests, she writes, adding, “It is not clear what prompted the change.”
In fact, Kershner and others who have followed this story know why the order was rescinded: The silence was broken last month when Silverstein revealed Mengistu’s name in a Mint Press News article. Soon afterwards Ethiopian Israelis showed up on the streets wearing T-shirts with Mengistu’s name.
But the Times gives no credit to Silverstein, who had reported last October that an unnamed man was missing in Gaza. Silverstein recently revealed the name of the second missing man, Hashem al-Sayyed, who apparently disappeared April 20 from his Bedouin village in the Negev. This man’s father also complained of official negligence in his son’s case.
Kershner’s story omits the most telling details of the Mengistu case—the threats against the family, their evidence of negligence and the ignorance of high government officials—while she gives weight to officials’ statements of concern for the missing man. It is all in line with official spin.
As a result, readers are likely to remain ignorant of the full story concerning Mengistu and al-Sayyed. The actions of Netanyahu and the revelations of Israeli racism as they appear in this tale are off limits in the Times, and the curious and the caring will have to find the full story elsewhere.
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Ethiopians, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Mengistu, Netanyahu, New York Times, Palestine