Archive for the Anti-Loons Category

Muslims Meet Restaurant Owner: Change His Mind through Dialogue

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Many, and I would venture to say most anti-Muslim bigots have never met a Muslim in their life.

Usually, when you meet an individual from a group that you have demonized and dehumanized you’re likely to drop your prejudiced attitude. Feelings of embarrasment, shame and guilt may surface, causing you to reflect and ponder on your actions.

It seems as if Michael Pollice, who posted a sign saying “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing” has had a genuine change of heart after meeting local Muslims. The fact that he was getting a lot of negative attention might have had something to do with it as well:

Domenico’s Owner Takes Down Controversial Sign, Apologizes

by Jessica Sinichak (Cranberry Patch)

After the controversial sign he posted in front of Domenico’s Ristorante in Cranberry caused a stir in the community (including on the Cranberry Patch site), owner Michael Pollice has had a change of heart.

“I like to push stuff as far as it can go,” he said. “I will never do that again, because it hurts people.”

Pollice, who is known in the community for his thought-provoking—and sometimes controversial—signs, erected a sign last week that said “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing.”

The sign, which received local—and even national—media coverage ignited a firestorm of responses that ranged from support of Pollice’s message—which he said was a joke—to defense of First Amendment rights to downright outrage and disgust.

In just a few days time, Cranberry Patch received close 100 responses from readers giving their opinion on the issue. Many threatened to boycott the restaurant.

According to Pollice—who said business at the restaurant actually increased—the responses at first inspired him to poke back (which he did in the comment section of the Cranberry Patch article) and to push the envelope even further. By Saturday, a new sign he posted in front of the restaurant read, “If This Sign Offends You, Call a Dead Soldier’s Parents to Complain.”

Then a phone call changed his mind.

Pollice said Asim Kokan, a board member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked him Wednesday for a face-to-face get together to talk about the sign.

Pollice agreed to the meeting, which also was attended by Kazim Reza, a member of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh and a local realtor, Scott Rudolph, a pastor with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin Park, and Donna McNamara, an active member with the North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition.

Pollice said he had never before spent time with Muslims, and doing so changed his attitude. After explaining he thought of the sign as a joke, he and the visitors got along fine.

“Those guys were great,” he said. “They could have been jerks to me.”

Pollice added he apologized numerous times to the group—and even offered to hold a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit a new mosque for the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. The association currently rents a space in Wexford.

“I think it was good thing for me,” Pollice said of the meeting. “I’m better for the experience.”

Unsure at first of what to expect, Reza said he also was pleasantly surprised at the meeting.

“He was very calm and very apologetic for hurting the feelings of Muslims and others,” he said of Pollice.

The McCandless resident—who moved from India to the United States in 1954 to attend college—said the group learned about the Domenico’s sign from an email a woman originally sent to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh that was forwarded to other mosques around the area.

“She felt is was very, very inappropriate,” Reza said of the emailer. “She felt hurt. She felt it was totally uncalled for.”

Part of CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, which is why the group—which meets up for North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition events— scheduled the meeting with Pollice. Reza also invited anyone with an interest in learning more about Islam to attend prayers at MAP’s mosque in Wexford.

“We do not stop anybody. Anybody can come,” he said. “You only have to follow the basic disciplines of the mosque.”

As for Pollice, he said the incident wouldn’t deter him from posting quirky signs in the future. By Thursday, he had a new sign up that he said shouldn’t offend anyone—except maybe marine life. It reads, “Dolphins are Just Sharks Who Watch Glee.”

Zarifa Qazizadah: An Amazing Afghan Woman

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by loonwatch

I am unsure if she is actually the first female village chief in Afghanistan but Qazizadah certainly defies the stereotype of the “oppressed, burka-clad Afghan woman,” emerging as a committed and strong-willed politician who is actually getting things done. (h/t: MA):

First female village chief in Afghanistan defies gender roles

(AlArabiya English)

In a male-dominated society that has for years been controlled by the ultra-conservative Taliban, the emergence of the first female village chief took everyone by surprise.

After being ridiculed by male villagers for wanting to occupy political office, Zarifa Qazizadah, the mother of 15 children, managed to become the mayor of Naw Abad, a village in the northern Balkh province.

Qazizadah’s political ambition started in 2004 when she told her mocking fellow villagers that she wanted to represent them and promised to supply Naw Abad with electricity.

“I am telling the men in my village that if they have any problems, I will talk to the government on their behalf and in case of any trouble at night, I will carry my gun and come to your houses to solve the problem,” she said.

Qazizadah added that she is willing to be disguised as a man and drive a motorcycle in the middle of the night if this will enable her to help her people.

She lost the 2004 elections but kept her promise as far as connecting the village to electricity is concerned. Two years later, the same men who ridiculed Qazizadah asked her to run for head of the village and she finally succeeded.

Currently, Qazizadah’s priority is guarding the electricity supply in Naw Abad and making sure there are no power thefts in the neighborhood.

“I cannot allow this to happen,” she said. “It is against the law.”

Qazizadah also kept her promise about handling problems that occur at night – she dons men’s clothes, gets on her motorcycle, and heads to where the trouble is. According to her, disguise is better in a conservative society that would be shocked to see a woman on a motorcycle late at night.

Qazizadah also uses her own field tractor to tow cars that break down in the middle of the road or get stuck in the mud.

“She does things men are incapable of,” said Mulawi Sayed Mohamed, one of the villagers.

To make the electricity project materialize, Qazizadah sold her jewelry to be able to travel to the capital Kabul and negotiate with relevant bodies.

She also mortgaged her house in order to secure the amount required to supply the village with electricity. Five months later, she was able to supply all the houses in the village with electricity.

“Villagers only got to know what I did after they were connected. Then they started paying me back.”

Qazizadah used the money villagers paid for their electricity consumption to build a bridge that connects the village with the main road.

She also helped fund the construction of the first mosque in Naw Abad which is distinguished from all the other mosques in the country by the fact that both men and women pray in it together.

Qazizadah’s achievements look even more substantial when seen against the backdrop of her circumstances. The 50-year-old mayor was married at the age of 10 and had her first child at the age of 15. She lived for years with her husband in a remote village where she was “nothing but a servant” as she puts it.

When the Taliban took over, she moved with her family to Mazar-e-Sharif where she started community work with a vaccination campaign for children. She also started an initiative to teach children to read and write.

Qazizadah, now the grandmother of 36 children, is also head of the Women’s Council in the village and holds regular meetings for female villagers whom she advises to follow in her footsteps and teaches means of self-empowerment.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Murfreesboro Mosque Saga Continues: Judge Voids Planning Commission’s Approval

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on May 30, 2012 by loonwatch

County Judge Robert Corlew III decided to void the county planning commission’s approval of the mosque project based not on the Mosque opponents wacky claims about stealth-jihad, islamization, Islam not being a religion, etc., but the narrow reason that the county did not give “adequate public notice about a request to build the mosque.” That is a helluva lot more rational reason than the hyperbolic, fear-mongering, hate-filled nonsense that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from the Lou Ann Zelenik anti-Murfreesboro mosque camp.

The judge did not however call for “construction to be stopped” and so County and Mosque officials are saying construction will continue for the time being:

County says it won’t order halt to mosque construction

by Bob Smietana (The Tennessean)

UPDATE: Rutherford County has no immediate plans revoke the building permit for an embattled Murfreesboro mosque.

“The county is going to look at all the possibilities,” said Jim Cope, attorney for Rutherford County. “This could take weeks.”

Construction at the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was set to continue today, despite a judge’s decision that voided the county planning commission’s approval of the project. But the judge did not order a stop to the construction.

Opponents of the mosque want construction to end immediately. Mosque officials say the work will continue until they get official word to stop.

“There are two sides here that disagree,” said Cope. “The county is not the umpire here.”

Cope said that county officials are waiting for a court order from Judge Robert Corlew III before taking their next step. They could file a motion to reconsider or appeal the judge’s decision.

Blocking the mosque project could lead to a federal lawsuit under the religious anti-discrimination laws.

“There are a lot of moving parts in this,” said Cope.

PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

A judge says the Rutherford County planning commission violated state law by not giving adequate public notice about a request to build a mosque in Murfreesboro. But the judge did not say whether work on the building has to stop.

Mosque supporters and opponents disagree on whether the ruling means construction work at the site should stop immediately until there is another planning meeting to discuss the request again. Essam Fathy, head of the construction committee for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said workers will return to the Veals Road site today to continue building the 52,960-square-foot mosque because no one in county government has told them to stop. “This has all come as a big surprise,” he said.

Fathy said there is still about six weeks of work left on the first phase of the project — 12,000 square feet — which began in September.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Rutherford County Building Codes Department had not revoked the mosque’s building permit.

But Joe Brandon, attorney for the plaintiffs who filed suit against the county in 2010 challenging the public notice process, said the judge’s ruling means the work cannot legally continue. “At the present time, they (congregation members) are in violation of the law if they as much as lift a hammer,” Brandon said.

Brandon said the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was not a named party in the lawsuit and that’s probably why the judge’s order doesn’t specifically order construction halted.

But he said the judge’s ruling erases the site approval, and without that approval, the building permit should be invalid.

Chancellor Robert Corlew III ruled Tuesday that the commission failed to give adequate public notice of a May 24, 2010, meeting. At that meeting, commissioners approved the new building plans for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. But the judge said the commission’s actions were “null and void.”

State law requires that government bodies provide adequate public notice of meetings, but it does not offer many specifics beyond that. Attorneys for Rutherford County have argued that the notice in the printed edition of the Murfreesboro Post and on the paper’s website met the notice requirements.

The county’s legal department did not return calls late Tuesday.

Jim Cope, Rutherford County attorney, told The Tennessean in July 2011 that if the site plan approval was revoked, then mosque leaders probably would have to reapply to the planning commission. Because the Veals Road site is already zoned for religious use, there would be no public hearing or comments on the site plan.

“What we’d have in effect is a ‘do-over,’ ” Cope said last year.

The county attorney also could appeal the decision.

‘A huge victory’

The judge said the commission can meet again to discuss the mosque project, as long as it gives proper notice to the public. Mosque opponents and other members of the public have a right to attend that meeting, but they don’t have the right to speak at the meeting, Corlew wrote. And any future decision by the commission can’t discriminate against members of the mosque, he said.

The next commission meeting is set for June 11.

Imam Osama Bahloul said leaders of the Islamic center would do whatever the county asked of them. “We want to obey the law,” he said. “We want to be good citizens.”

Brandon repeated his belief that the Islamic center is a political organization, not a religious group. “Today is a huge victory. It’s the first time that the political movement of Islam has been stopped in its tracks.”

If the Islamic center gets approved for a new site plan, he said, then the plaintiffs would file a new lawsuit. “They are in this for the long haul.”

Salon.com, “Militants”: Media Propaganda

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by loonwatch

 

The uncritical media rarely question or challenge official government assertions that all their drone strikes kill “militants” (h/t: Saladin):

“Militants”: media propaganda

by Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com)

Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed. They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.

This practice continues even though key Obama officials have been caught lying, a term used advisedly, about how many civilians they’re killing. I’ve written and said many times before that in American media discourse, the definition of “militant” is any human being whose life is extinguished when an American missile or bomb detonates (that term was even used when Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen two weeks after a drone killed his father, even though nobody claims the teenager was anything but completely innocent: “Another U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Yemen”).

This morning, the New York Times has a very lengthy and detailed article about President Obama’s counter-Terrorism policies based on interviews with “three dozen of his current and former advisers.” I’m writing separately about the numerous revelations contained in that article, but want specifically to highlight this one vital passage about how the Obama administration determines who is a “militant.” The article explains that Obama’s rhetorical emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths “did not significantly change” the drone program, because Obama himself simply expanded the definition of a “militant” to ensure that it includes virtually everyone killed by his drone strikes. Just read this remarkable passage:

Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

Counterterrorism officials insist this approach is one of simple logic: people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good. “Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one official, who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.

This counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths. In a speech last year Mr. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s trusted adviser, said that not a single noncombatant had been killed in a year of strikes. And in a recent interview, a senior administration official said that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under Mr. Obama was in the “single digits” — and that independent counts of scores or hundreds of civilian deaths unwittingly draw on false propaganda claims by militants.

But in interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

“It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

For the moment, leave the ethical issues to the side that arise from viewing “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”; that’s nothing less than sociopathic, a term I use advisedly, but I discuss that in the separate, longer piece I’m writing to be published a bit later this morning. For now, consider what this means for American media outlets. Any of them which use the term “militants” to describe those killed by U.S. strikes are knowingly disseminating a false and misleading term of propaganda. By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior and propagandize the citizenry (unless conclusive evidence somehow later emerges proving their innocence).

Read the rest…

Redditch Unites as EDL March Ends Peacefully

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Those who oppose fascism outnumber the hate-mongering EDL:

Redditch unites as EDL march ends peacefully

(Redditch Standard)

REDDITCH residents put on a show of unity and defiance as a march through the town from the EDL passed off peacefully.

More than 100 officers were drafted in from across the West Mercia force area as well as Warwickshire, West Midlands and British Transport Police to help control the event and tensions were high throuhgout the day as a large counter demonstration, made up of residents from all sections of Redditch’s community and members of United Against Facism, attemped to get near to the main EDL rally.

Between 100 and 150 members of the EDL from across the region turned out for Saturday’s rally which saw speeches made from the bandstand although police officially estimate the figure at about 40.

The event lasted for about half an hour during which members of the group urged people to ‘wake up to the facts’ about Islam and made a number of anti-islamic statements and chants.

Trouble flared when passers-by from the afro-caribbean community angered by some of the comments attempted to intervene with the rally and a lager can appeared to be thrown from the EDL side, but officers quickly intervened. In total there were three arrests – one for a breach of the peace and two on suspicion of assault – and police say they were all men and believed to have been attached to the counter EDL demonstration.

EDL member Ed Stevens said they were trying to raise awareness about the threat of Islamic grooming of young white girls.

“It’s an awareness campaign, more than anything particularly connected to Redditch. There have been one or two minor incidents around this town but the main thing is we are coming to town and cities everywhere to say take notice of what’s going on in your country.”

But after the group left about 3pm the larger counter demonstration, with an estimated 500 people involved and which had been held back for most of the day in Easemore Road, marched through the town down to the railway station and back again before holding a brief rally also at the bandstand.

There are now plans to set-up a Redditch Against Facism group.

Safder Hussain, one of the organisers of the counter-protest, said: “The message we have sent to day is straightforward, we do not want the EDL here, we are united and we are strong in that.

“Redditch is a mixed community, I have personally lived here for 40 years and I have never had race relation problems, 99 per cent of Redditch people are the friendlist, nicest people you could ever hope to meet. These people from outside Redditch are coming in to Redditch to spread their malicious, evil, garbage.”

Smallwood resident Charlotte Gallen added: “I have lived here all my life, we are proud of the diversity in our town and we always have been.”

Other faith groups across Redditch also lent their support to the counter-protest.

Read more: Redditch unites as EDL march ends peacefully | Redditch Standard

Star-Ledger: Chris Christie, AG wrong to conclude NYPD Muslim probe was justified

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by loonwatch

We are supposed to take Gov. Christie and his Attorney General’s word that the NYPD did nothing wrong when they spied on Muslims in Newark.

Chris Christie, AG wrong to conclude NYPD Muslim probe was justified

(Star-Ledger Editorial Board)

It was disturbing to learn several months ago that the New York Police Department was conducting secret spy missions on Muslims in Newark, building dossiers on their mosques and shops, taking photographs and eavesdropping on their conversations.

It is more disturbing to learn that Gov.Chris Christie and his attorney general, Jeffrey Chiesa, have concluded that it was all justified. Throwing this kind of wide net of surveillance over a community, based on its religion, strikes us as a sloppy overreach of police powers.

Chiesa said Thursday that, after a three-month investigation, he could find no evidence that NYPD officers broke any laws. The NYPD, he says, was acting on legitimate intelligence tips when it began its ethnic mapping project in 2007.

Given the confidential nature of this, the public will never know for sure. But what tip could possibly justify such blanket surveillance of a community based on its religion? Did the tipster suggest all Muslims were dangerous? And if the threat was more specific, why did the search have to be so broad?

Read the rest…

Swiss Pastor who Runs Racist Website Faces Probe

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by loonwatch

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

Swiss pastor who runs racist website faces probe

A Reformist priest from a tiny Bernese village is under investigation by church leaders after it emerged that she helped run a fanatical anti-Islamic website.

The Council of Reformist Churches for Bern, Solothurn and Jura has criticised the priest, and declared her activities on website ‘Politically Incorrect’ to be “incompatible” with her position as a priest due to the “Islam-baiting” that takes place on it, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

The priest has been involved for a long time with the Politically Incorrect forum, a website frequented mainly by Germans, and has been operating clandestinely, the newspaper reported.

It has been alleged that the priest has been funding the website herself, the Tages Anzeiger reported. The prosecutor also believes it possible that she has been contributing some of the racist content, albeit under pseudonyms.

The Council had already warned the priest previously for her participation at extreme-right Islamophobic events in Germany. Having reviewed the content of the website, the Council described the articles posted there as “inflammatory and derogatory”.

The priest is now accused of breaching anti-racism laws and of failing to prevent criminal acts. Despite the accusations, she has still been permitted by her immediate superiors to continue to preach in the village.

The Local, 25 May 2012