Archive for the Loon Politics Category

Right-Wing Mayor of Nice Bans “Noisy” Weddings in Veiled Attack Against French Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by loonwatch

Mayor Christian Estrosi

More loonieness from France:

Mayor of Nice bans ‘noisy’ weddings

The Right-wing mayor of Nice has been accused of “stigmatising” the southern French town’s Muslim population after passing a decree on “noisy” town hall weddings, in particular cheering, whistling and foreign flag-waving, which he says disturb the peace.

Since June 1, mayor Christian Estrosi, who belongs to the UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, has outlawed “whistling”, deploying “flags, notably foreign ones”, the presence of “unauthorised” folk music groups, illegal parking around the town hall or holding up traffic to “dance” or “parade with banners or flags”.

He said such behaviour was “liable to disturb the peace and solemnity of the moment” and could create “unfair delays in the proper running of weddings”. Any wedding parties failing to abide by the new rules could see their ceremony delayed by up to 24 hours.

Opposition Socialists and rights groups have blasted the measure as a veiled attack against French Muslims whose traditional ululations are a frequent fixture at wedding ceremonies in France. They claim it is blatant anti-immigrant electioneering ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections in a staunchly Right-wing town where the far-Right National Front commands strong support.

Last Saturday, they organised a protest “silent wedding” ceremony in front of the town hall in which a false bride, groom and wedding party brandished banners saying: “Silence, we’re getting married”, their mouths taped shut to drive home the message.

Daily Telegraph, 6 June 2012

Norwegian Far Right says Breivik Correct to Fear Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by loonwatch

Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik sits in the courtroom in Oslo, Norway, on Friday 1 June, 2012. (AP / Heiko Junge, Pool)

Confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik sits in the courtroom in Oslo, Norway, on Friday 1 June, 2012. (AP / Heiko Junge, Pool)

(Via IslamophobiaToday.com)

Norwegian far right says Breivik correct to fear Muslims

By Balazs Koranyi, Reuters

(Reuters) – Norwegian far-right leaders told the court trying Anders Behring Breivik on Tuesday the mass killer was right to fear his nation’s “planned annihilation” by Muslims, even if his method of combating it was wrong.

Breivik killed 77 people on July 22, first detonating a car bomb outside government headquarters and killing eight, then gunning down 69 people, mostly teenagers, at the ruling Labour Party’s summer camp on Utoeya Island.

He argued his victims deserved to die because they supported Muslim immigration, which he said is adulterating pure Norwegian blood.

“The constitution has been cancelled, we’re at war now,” Tore Tvedt, the founder of far-right group Vigrid told the court.

Tvedt, 69, with greying hair and moustache, addressed the court in a firm voice.

“When they get their will, the Nordic race will be exterminated,” he said of Muslim immigration.

Breivik’s defence team called Tvedt and other far-right supporters to the stand to support their argument that Breivik is sane since his ideology is shared by others, even if their numbers are few.

“Take a look at society in Pakistan, look at the 57 Islamic states. People there live in a regime of terror and slavery, that’s what we had under national socialism and in the Soviet Union, people were trapped in a terror state,” Arne Tumyr, the head of an anti-Islam group told court.

Tall, thin and with a full head of hair, Tumyr, 79, spoke softly and insisted on testifying top the court standing up.

“If nothing is done, Norway will be taken over my Muslims,” he said.

Members of Islamic communities make up about 2 percent of Norway’s five million people, though their numbers were growing faster than those of Christians, Statistics Norway said.

All witnesses argued against Breivik’s violence but said Norway’s passivity toward the issue would eventually lead to a Muslim takeover.

The court’s main task in the 10-week trial is to decide whether Breivik is sane and whether he should be sent to jail or a psychiatric institution.

One court-appointed team of psychiatrists concluded he is psychotic, but a second team came to the opposite conclusion. The five judges hearing the case will take a final decision on his sanity at the end of the trial.

If deemed sane, Breivik faces a 21-year jail sentence which could be indefinitely extended for as long as he is considered dangerous.

Breivik has said he should either be executed or acquitted, calling the prospect of a prison sentence “pathetic”. If he were to be declared insane, he has said, that would be “worse than death”.

The court had hoped to deliver a verdict before the first anniversary of Breivik’s attack, but said a ruling may not come before August 24.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

Loon Victory: Muslim Doctor Ousted for FGM Thought Crime

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by loonwatch
Dr. Hatem al-HajDr. Hatem al-Haj

by Ilisha

All across the Looniverse, hate mongers are congratulating themselves on a stunning victory.

They’ve managed to oust Dr. Hatem (Elhagaly) al-Haj from his role as a pediatrician at the prestigious, US-based Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for nothing more than a thought crime.  There is no evidence Dr. al-Haj has injured, neglected, or in any way harmed any of his patients, and furthermore, there are no formal complaints against him stemming from his practice.

The successful campaign was spearheaded, according to loons, by a lone Jihad Watcher, who garnered hundreds of signatures on a petition submitted to the Mayo Clinic alleging the doctor endorsed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and therefore posed a potential danger to his patients. The “smoking gun” and centerpiece of  the campaign against Dr. al-Haj is a paper he wrote seven years ago as part of his doctoral thesis. The paper was translated from Arabic into English by a notorious translator already exposed as incompetent by Loonwatch here.

The translation appears to be deliberately manipulative, and falsely attributes a quote to Dr. al-Haj saying FGM  is “an honor for women.” It is unclear whether Dr. al-Haj resigned under pressure or was fired by the Mayo Clinic in the wake of the manufactured “controversy,” but it is nevertheless an astounding achievement for bigots devoted to marginalizing Muslims in the West and demonizing Islam.

Dr. al-Haj is the latest victim caught in the crosshairs of a relentless, coordinated campaign to portray Muslims as misogynist and barbaric by falsely attributing FGM to Islam. In fact, FGM does not have its origins in Islam, is not practiced exclusively by Muslims, and is virtually unheard of in many Muslim-majority countries.

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation is a term used by most human rights groups to describe various degrees of genital cutting performed on girls and women. The United Nations categorizes four major types:

Type 1:

Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.

Type 2:

Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

Type 3:

Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).

Type 4:

Others, such as pricking, piercing or incising, stretching, burning the clitoris, scraping of itssue surrounding the vaginal orifice, cutting of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten the opening.

How prevalent are these procedures?

Although bigots always cite the most extreme forms of FGM and the corresponding side effects, Types I and II are most common, accounting for about 85% of all FGM procedures. Type III is mostly confined to Somalia, northern Sudan and Djibouti, and the highest rates of FGM today are found in parts of Africa:

FGM Map

Why is FGM performed?

FGM is sometimes viewed as necessary to control a woman’s sexuality, and though evidence contradicts this notion, some believe FGM helps to to ensure virginity and fidelity by diminishing sexual desire. In some tribal communities, FGM is part of traditional initiation rituals for girls entering womanhood, and continuation of the practice is sometimes bolstered by myths, such as the notion an uncut clitoris will grow to the size of a penis.

In other cases FGM is incorrectly thought to enhance fertility and improve hygiene, and some perceive it as more aesthetically pleasing. Some practitioners also believe it is religiously sanctioned or mandated, and in some communities, it is a prerequisite to marriage.

Is FGM a Muslim problem?

FGM does not have its origins in Islam, but it does need to be discussed among Muslims for several reasons. The practice is widespread in some Muslim majority countries, especially in Africa, and in countries like Somalia and Egypt, large majorities of girls undergo some form of FGM.

There is no direct correlation between religion and FGM. However, Muslims in areas where the practice is common often conflate this cultural inheritance with religion, believing FGM is either mandated or at least recommended, in Islam.

What is the origin of FGM?

Despite the fact many hate sites refer to FGM as “Islamic,” its is an ancient practice that predates Islam by centuries. FGM is thought to have originated under the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt, which is why Type III procedures are sometimes referred to as “pharaonic circumcision.” Archeologists have found circumcised female mummies, and in the fifth century BCE, Herodotus reported the practice among the Phoenicians and Ethiopians, as well as Egyptians, which means FGM predates Christianity as well.

Various forms of female genital cutting have also been traced to parts of Africa, the Philippines, the Upper Amazon in South America, and to parts of Australia where aborigines performed FGM and in some areas, still do. Female genital cutting also occurred among the early Romans.

In Victorian times, clitoridectomies were performed in Western countries.  The first reported clitoridectomy in the West was carried out in Berlin in 1822 by Isaac Baker Brown, an English gynecologist who was the president of the Medical Society of London. He believed that “unnatural irritation” of the clitoris caused epilepsy, hysteria, and mania, and would remove it whenever he had the opportunity. His views sparked outrage and he was eventually expelled from the Obstetrical Society, though he certainly was not alone in believing removal of the clitoris was a legitimate treatment. As recently as the 1950s, clitoridectomies were sometimes performed in Western Europe and the United States to treat various “ailments,” including hysteria, epilepsy, mental disorders, masturbation, nymphomania, melancholia and lesbianism.

What’s being done to end the practice worldwide?

Fortunately, FGM has already been eradicated in many regions, and in 2003, the United Nations launched the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation as part of a campaign to end the practice worldwide. In recent years, a growing number of countries have passed laws banning FGM. However, laws alone are not enough to eradicate the practice, and may in some cases, merely drive FGM underground.

Firmly entrenched in some societies where it has been practiced for centuries, FGM is viewed as essential by some families, regardless of their religious affiliation. If physicians are banned by law from performing any form of FGM, families sometimes resort to an unlicensed practitioner who may use crude tools in an unsanitary environment, causing further pain, trauma, and potential complications. Stiff penalties also may deter families from seeking proper medical attention if complications arise, further endangering the lives of girls who undergo the procedure despite the ban.

This brings us back to Dr. Al-Haj, who discussed in his paper the “ritual nick” as a possible alternative to other forms of FGM, which in some cases may appease families convinced FGM is necessary without causing permanent harm to the girl or woman. This suggestion caused a firestorm of protest, yet it is noteworthy that the supposedly “radical” position espoused by Dr. al-Haj in his paper was endorsed in 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics as reported in the New York Times. Criticizing a federal law that prohibits all forms of female genital procedures, including the ritual nick, the group said:

It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm. ~ The American Academy of Pediatrics

No matter how adamant and eager activists may be to end the practice, social change is a process, and it takes time. The strategy for eliminating the practice should first and foremost take into account the health and well being of girls and women, and not the politics of bigotry.

The Other Side of the Story

Many of the hate sites crowing about their victory include a link to Dr. al-Haj’s website, despite the fact his thoughtful explanation undermines their case against him:

I have always condemned Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. Moreover, I have unequivocally voiced both orally and in written form the condemnation of all harmful forms of Female Genital Cutting FGC, justifiably known as FGM. Furthermore, I have taught that nothing in Islamic Law and religious texts supports such a heinous crime. In fact, it is repugnant to Islamic principles and values to inflict such trauma and suffering on any female. The severest forms of this practice are akin to killing in Islamic Law.

The statements I have made, that are now being unfairly distorted against me, are those regarding a subtype of Female Genital Cutting FGC, a harmless procedure called the ritual nick. This subtype doesn’t involve any form of clitorectomy. It is merely an incision (or a minimal excision, as explained in the details below) of part of the clitoral hood, the counterpart to the foreskin in males, and does not remove any part of the clitoris. This opinion is scientifically irrefutable and shared by many American non-Muslim pediatricians. It is the position expressed by the Committee on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics. [Pediatrics Vol. 125 No. 5 May 1, 2010 pp. ‎‎1088 -1093‎.], which noted:

“This [the ritual nick] is no more of an alteration than ear piercing. A legitimate concern is that parents who are denied the cooperation of a physician will send their girls back to their home country for a much more severe and dangerous procedure or use the services of a non–medically trained person in North America.”…

The claim that I said, “Female genital mutilation is an honor” is so repugnant. The statement sounds to me like an intractable conflict. However, my opponents have used against me every other logical fallacy in their campaign, such as generalization, poisoning the well, straw man, etc. Therefore, it does not surprise me that they ascribed such statement to me.

Despite my acknowledgment of the harmlessness of the ritual nick, I have unwaveringly discouraged all people from having it done because of its illegality in the US. I have never advised, suggested or encouraged any of my patients or their families to undertake any type of female circumcision, including the ritual nick…

The smear campaigns against me are unfounded in that they are based on religious bias, ignorance and misconceptions of my real positions and actions on the issues at hand. These defamers have misquoted me, taken excerpted words out of context, distorted my position and plainly fabricated lies against me in order to vilify me as some type of evil, backward extremist physician. I am none of these things. Quite the contrary, I give medical care to my young female patients, as I would my own daughters…”

Read the Rest here: http://www.drhatemalhaj.com/

Whatever one thinks of the “lesser evil” of a ritual nick, it doesn’t seem as if mere discussion of the prospect should cost a doctor his job. As Dr. al-Haj has said, and even the loons admit, he has never performed any form of FGM, has never seen any such procedure performed, and has never actually recommended it to any patient. His paper merely provided an overview of Muslim opinion with respect to FGM.

Circumcision in Islam: A Wide Range of Opinions

Hate sites put an emphasis on any evidence they can harvest to suggest FGM is mandated by Sharia (Islamic Law). Fortunately, they are not able to present evidence from the Qur’an, nor reliable hadith, promoting the practice of FGM. They must resort to quoting dubious sources, ranging from uneducated villagers to imams whose credibility is highly questionable, and who are not recognized authorities in the Muslim community. In the absence of a comprehensive global survey, it is impossible to determine how widespread support for FGM is among Muslim scholars. However, it is clear there is a broad range of opinion regarding the practice.

Despite Pamela Geller’s constant reference to “clitoridectomies” as being “Islamic,” there is apparently no credible Muslim scholar who believes removal of the clitoris is mandated in Islam. Based on his interpretation of the ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago, American-born Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller has said that circumcision is mandatory, and includes removing the prepuce of the penis in men and the prepuce of the clitoris in women. His opinion is based not on the Qur’an, but an interpretation of the Sunnah, and he makes it clear that this does not include removal of the clitoris itself. Keller distinguishes between the procedure he advocates, which he refers to as “circumcision,” and what he considers to be female genital mutilation.

Other prominent Muslim scholars have issued fatwas against FGM in all its forms. In 2006, leaders from around the world gathered in Egypt and ruled female circumcision un-Islamic, and the following year, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa against the practice. Gomaa said FGM is not commanded in the Qur’an, nor the hadith, and while it may have been accepted in the past, studies showing dangers to health make it unacceptable today.

Gomaa also pointed out that there is no record of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives or daughters ever having undergone the procedure, and suggested it was an unwelcome innovation stemming from cultural tradition. The full fatwa can be read on his website here.

Gomaa received support from the Grand Sheikh of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, Muhammad Sayyed Thanthawi. Thanthawi said female circumcision is prohibited and cannot be justified on religious grounds. Despite the loons consistent efforts to present inauthentic hadiths as evidence of support for FGM, Thanthawi also confirmed that FGM is justified neither by the Qur’an nor reliable hadith, and further stated that circumcision in Islam applies only to men.

While the circumcision of men is a majority opinion, it is further testament to diversity that some Muslim scholars believe all forms of circumcision are prohibited in Islam. They cite passages in the Qur’an (40:64, 64:3, 95:4, 4:119, and 6:38) as evidence that God created the human being in the desired state, without need for alteration, and argue that circumcision violates the central theme of compassion in Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have been born without a foreskin (aposthetic), and while some Muslims argue boys should be circumcised in order to emulate the Prophet, opponents point out it is possible to glean the opposite message: since the Prophet Muhammad obviously didn’t undergo circumcision, boys today can best follow his example by not being circumcised.

Don’t expect to see this wide range of opinion on the issue of circumcision on hate sites devoted to portraying Muslims as a monolith. Anyone sincerely devoted to ending the practice of FGM should be promoting statements by Grand Mufti Gomaa and like minded scholars to spread the good news FGM is not mandated in Islam. Instead, bigots masquerading as “human rights activists” use their considerable resources to spread the opposite message, putting their agenda ahead of the interests of the girls and women whose rights they pretend to represent.

The Fate of Dr. al-Haj

Emboldened by their ill-conceived victory, anti-Muslim bigots have waged a new campaign aimed at having the doctor’s license to practice medicine revoked as well. Because their baseless accusations can’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny, the new campaign should fail. Unfortunately, in the current climate, where irrationality and knee-jerk reactions often prevail, they may very well succeed in sacrificing Dr. al-Haj’s career and reputation on the alter of anti-Muslim bigotry.

It is shocking and disappointing that the Mayo Clinic would take action based on this devious and dishonest witch hunt. Dr. al-Haj is guilty of nothing more than being a Muslim and engaging in a “thought crime,” perpetrated years ago in a paper written as part of his doctoral thesis. If the prestigious Mayo Clinic is willing to cave into a few loud-mouthed bigots based on a campaign of lies and distortions, what’s next for Western Muslims?

Vlaams Belang Offers ‘Burqa Bounty’

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

(via. IslamophobiaToday.com)

Vlaams Belang offers ‘burqa bounty’

(Reuters) – Belgian right-wingers have offered to pay a 250 euros ($310) bounty to anyone who reports a veiled woman to police, they said on Tuesday, in the wake of face veil riots in Brussels.

Filip Dewinter, a senior figure within Vlaams Belang, a right-wing party, told Reuters the riots had made police apprehensive about enforcing the burqa ban and that the payment should put pressure on authorities to further enforce it.

“It’s a textile prison for the women who have to live under it,” he said.

It comes after protesters hurled bins and metal barriers at a Brussels police station last week after a Muslim woman was arrested for refusing to remove her face veil, or niqab.

A Brussels police spokesman said he was unaware of the money being offered, but said any officer who sees a woman wearing a niqab would issue a penalty.

“When someone is breaking the law we always have to intervene, demonstrations or no, the niqab is prohibited,” he said.

Women in Belgium risk a maximum fine of 150 euros if they wear a full face veil in public. Belgium and France both banned the wearing of full veils in public last year.

Dewinter said he was not aware how many people had already responded to the offer of a bounty.

A spokeswoman for Belgium’s federal police said the legality of the bounty was a question for the judiciary, but if someone felt insulted by it they could file a complaint with the police.

Police in Belgium are investigating last week’s riots and arrested 13 members of the Islamist group Sharia4Belgium on Sunday, the police spokesman said.

Sharia4Belgium was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Ben Deighton and Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Jon Hemming)

How Christian Fundamentalists Plan to Teach Genocide to Schoolchildren

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Child with Bible

While many in the West are myopically focused on Muslim extremists, another form of religious extremism is poised to reach thousands of children in public schools across the US.

Aside from the disturbing implications for those who advocate a clear separation between church and state, the alarming content of the curriculum begs a question about the sponsors: What if they were Muslim?

How Christian Fundamentalists Plan to Teach Genocide to Schoolchildren

By Katherine Stewart, Guardian UK

Good News Clubs’ evangelism in schools is already subverting church-state separation. Now they justify murdering nonbelievers.

The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.

The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:

“Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.

The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. “In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors,” writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (HarperCollins).

This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly “Bible study” course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.

There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.

The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that “the Amalekites were completely defeated.” In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:

“You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.”

“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.

Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:

“The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.”

The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.

Asking if Saul would “pass the test” of obedience, the text points to Saul’s failure to annihilate every last Amalekite, posing the rhetorical question:

“If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, ‘I did it!’?”

“If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!” the lesson concludes.

A review question in the textbook seeks to drive the point home further:

“How did King Saul only partly obey God when he attacked the Amalekites? (He did not completely destroy as God had commanded, he kept the king and some of the animals alive.)”

The CEF and the legal advocacy groups that have been responsible for its tremendous success over the past ten years are determined to “Knock down all doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America and take the Gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!” in the words of a keynote speaker at the CEF’s national convention in 2010. The CEF wants to operate in the public schools, rather than in churches, because they know that young children associate the public schools with authority and are unable to distinguish between activities that take place in a school and those that are sponsored by the school.

In the majority opinion that opened the door to Good News Clubs, supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that the activities of the CEF were not really religious, after all. He said that they could be characterized, for legal purposes, “as the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint”.

As Justices Souter and Stevens pointed out in their dissents, however, the claim is preposterous: the CEF plainly aims to teach religious doctrines and conduct services of worship. Thomas’s claim is particularly ironic in view of the fact that the CEF makes quite clear its intent to teach that no amount of moral or ethical behavior (pdf) can spare a nonbeliever from an eternity in hell.

Good News Clubs should not be in America’s public elementary schools. As I explain in my book, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, the club exists mainly to give small children the false impression that their public school supports a particular creed. The clubs’ presence has produced a paradoxical entanglement of church and state that has ripped apart communities, degraded public education, and undermined religious freedom.

The CEF’s new emphasis on the genocide of nonbelievers makes a bad situation worse. Exterminist rhetoric has been on the rise among some segments of the far right, including some religious groups. At what point do we start taking talk of genocide seriously? How would we feel about a nonreligious group that instructs its students that if they should ever receive an order to commit genocide, they should fulfill it to the letter?

And finally, when does a religious group qualify as a “hate group”?

Kamal Saleem Says U.S. Generals Pledged to ‘Destroy the United States’ and Obama Will ‘Legalize Terrorism’

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

More from the looniverse of the fake ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem. Have a good laugh:

Kamal Saleem Says U.S. Generals Pledged to ‘Destroy the United States’ and Obama Will ‘Legalize Terrorism’

RIGHT WING WATCH

Kamal Saleem spoke to Janet Parshall yesterday where the phony “ex-terrorist” alleged that radical Muslims are going to “penetrate” every sphere of American society and that there are even United States generals who are secretly trying to “destroy” the country from within:

Saleem: From military, infrastructure to the church and synagogues, also to the banking and the education system, and also to pharmaceutical and medical, every level that there is that they were going to go ahead and penetrate and so far they were able to penetrate every level. Unfortunately, this government has not stopped them from advancing forward, but helped them advance forward to overcome many things. Now there are many generals who swore to destroy the United States of America are generals in the United States.

Seeing that Saleem works frequently with former General and anti-Muslim activist Jerry Boykin, it would be nice of Saleem to offer Boykin and the public at large the names of generals who “swore to destroy the United States.”

Later, Saleem talked to Parshall about his life story. Saleem has implausibly claimed to have worked for the Muslim Brotherhood in Lebanon, the Syrian government, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Libyan government (even dined with Gaddafi!), Saudi Arabia and terrorists in Tora Bora.

He told Parshall that before going to Tora Bora he worked in Europe in the “culture jihad,” and after training terrorists there he came to America to diminish the conservative Bible Belt’s political and cultural clout!

Saleem also claimed 450,000 illegal immigrants came to America in 2010 to wait for Obama to “legalize terrorism,” even though the border control said the year had exceptionally low rates of crossings.

He insisted that if state legislatures don’t pass laws banning Sharia law then the United Nations throughResolution 16/18, which reaffirms “freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression” and opposes religious discrimination, will force the church to “go underground.” Then after the church isn’t allowed to write their own sermons or canonize priests, Saleem claims, “our country will become Islamist by default because only Islam can fight back” against the United Nations, or something:

Saleem: This is what’s happening in America right now, the invasion of the United States of America is happening through the borders where in 2010 over 450,000 illegals crossed through Mexican borders and these guys are waiting for amnesty to be citizens as soon as our President changes the immigration law and are granted amnesty, legalizing terrorism will be just the first cut in the United States of America.

Parshall: Wow. So now we’ve got you in the European continent and eventually you make your way to the United States, correct?

Saleem: That’s correct. My last battle was in Tora Bora and from Tora Bora I came to the United States of America and we were in the northern sector, the American people are weaker over there and they are not as the Bible Belt area, they are not as strong. So our stronghold was in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, all that region over there, and from there I was sent specifically to the Bible Belt because they asked us to take on this because in order to bring the American culture down we have to overthrow their weight of voting, of power, of everything so we have to penetrate the area and bring about the light of Islam so we can change that culture and change the future of the United States from that area.

Parshall: Wow.

Saleem: If this [anti-Sharia law] bill does not pass and Americans do not support it then UN Resolution 16/18 will take place and that is the hate crime bill which is the American people, simply, the church cannot talk about their belief anymore, the church will have to go underground and they will have to submit their sermon and what so have you, and we are fighting on both area to disable the Islamists from taking over. That’s why the Catholic Church is fighting so hard because how they canonize their priests and what so have you, this will disable them from doing all this, and now our country will become Islamist by default because only Islam can fight back.

Parshall: Wow.

Geert Wilders’ War Against Islam

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by loonwatch

Geert Wilders book in review (via. Islamophobia-Watch.com):

Wilders’ war against Islam

By the end of Marked for Death, we see what Wilders is leading up to – a horrifying vision of a fortress Europe, defending “freedom” through the deployment of totalitarian state powers to expunge Islam from the continent. His recommendations are reminiscent of the discriminatory social control measures taken against Jews and other minorities under Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Wilders, of course, is careful to disavow violence and reiterate he hates Islam, not Muslims. But it is difficult to deny the implicitly violent subtext of his sweeping proposals, including a halt to all Muslim immigration, payments to settled immigrants to leave, cessation of building of mosques, and taxation of Muslim religious practices such as the headscarf. Most disturbing is his endorsement of Israeli-style “administrative detention” (indefinite internment without trial on security grounds) in Europe as part of criminal operations in Muslim communities; not to mention the forcible deportation of tens of millions of Muslims from Europe for “thinking” about “crime” or “Shari’ah”.

Yasmin Qureshi and Nafeez Ahmed examine the political programme presented in Geert Wilders’ Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me.

Independent, 4 June 2012

Germany: How Far-Right Islamophobes Hijacked Political Debate

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by loonwatch

(Via Islamophobia-Watch.com)

Germany: how far-right Islamophobes hijacked political debate

Germany’s Salafist Muslims are back in the spotlight. Since early May, hardly a week has gone by without another regional or national politician in the country proposing new ways to counter the group’s extremist version of Islam or a major German newspaper publishing yet another exposé on the group’s insular isolation from the mainstream. Just on Friday, interior ministers from Germany’s 16 states, at a regularly scheduled conference with federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, resolved to be increasingly firm in their dealings with the Salafists.

Such hand-wringing in Germany about its Muslim population, extremist or otherwise, is not uncommon. This one, however, is different. Far from being an accidental upheaval of angst resulting from the publication of a book by the likes of the anti-immigration treatise by Germany’s provocateur-in-chief Thilo Sarrazin or comments from the country’s top politicians, its timing and nature was determined far from the country’s conventional opinion makers. It is a particularly unique case of the tail wagging the dog – and in this case, the tail is the tiny, Islamophobic political party Pro-NRW.

Spiegel Online, 1 June 2012

Germany: How Far-Right Islamophobes Hijacked Political Debate

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by loonwatch

(Via Islamophobia-Watch.com)

Germany: how far-right Islamophobes hijacked political debate

Germany’s Salafist Muslims are back in the spotlight. Since early May, hardly a week has gone by without another regional or national politician in the country proposing new ways to counter the group’s extremist version of Islam or a major German newspaper publishing yet another exposé on the group’s insular isolation from the mainstream. Just on Friday, interior ministers from Germany’s 16 states, at a regularly scheduled conference with federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, resolved to be increasingly firm in their dealings with the Salafists.

Such hand-wringing in Germany about its Muslim population, extremist or otherwise, is not uncommon. This one, however, is different. Far from being an accidental upheaval of angst resulting from the publication of a book by the likes of the anti-immigration treatise by Germany’s provocateur-in-chief Thilo Sarrazin or comments from the country’s top politicians, its timing and nature was determined far from the country’s conventional opinion makers. It is a particularly unique case of the tail wagging the dog – and in this case, the tail is the tiny, Islamophobic political party Pro-NRW.

Spiegel Online, 1 June 2012

Even OBL Admitted that Homegrown Terrorism is Un-Islamic? What the Bin Laden Letters Reveal

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by loonwatch

The United States government recently released a select few letters from a trove of Al-Qaeda documents recovered from Osama Bin Laden’s final hideaway in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  Leaving aside the obvious fact that the release of 17 documents out of thousands is nothing short of war propaganda–and ignoring the absolute vacuous nature of the political punditry that passes as “terrorism expertise” in this country–there was one gem buried in the Bin Laden letters that has gone unnoticed thus far.

In a 2010 letter from Bin Laden to “Shaykh Mahmud” (SOCOM-2012-0000015), Al-Qaeda’s leader mentions the case of Faisal Shahzad, an American Muslim of Pakistani origin who unsuccessfully attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square.  It is Bin Laden’s views towards Shahzad’s actions that reveal something quite noteworthy.

After the failed Times Square bombing, the cottage industry of Very Serious Terrorism Experts began warning the American people of the looming threat of “homegrown terrorism.”  A CNN article entitled Analysis: The spread of U.S. homegrown terrorism declared:

Nearly a decade ago, a group of Saudis and other men from the Middle East came to the United States to carry out the worst terrorist attack on the U.S.

Not a single one had American citizenship.

Almost nine years after the September 11 attacks, the threat of another major terror strike is still a concern, but where the threat is coming from has changed.

A growing number of American citizens and longtime residents of the United States are becoming radicalized enough by al Qaeda’s extremist ideology to kill their fellow Americans, counterterrorism officials say.

It is difficult to call this “analysis” as the title implies.  Rather, this is another case of the media operating as the government’s stenographer.  The CNN article itself quotes the Homeland Security Secretary:

“In the 9/11 world and in the immediate aftermath, the theory was and the reality was that a terrorist attack, if it were to occur again on U.S. soil, would be someone coming from abroad and coming in to the United States,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. “That paradigm has changed, and there are now individuals in the United States, some who have grown up here and are American citizens. … They haven’t done anything to violate the law, but yet they have become radicalized to the point of violent extremism and to the point of … considering coming back to the homeland and conducting an attack of some sort.”

As Stephen Colbert put it in his 2006 speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (via Glenn Greenwald):

But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ‘em through a spell check and go home.

In this case, the government wanted to spread the idea that homegrown Islamic terrorism is the new threat, and that Al-Qaeda was now actively recruiting American citizens.  In fact, this claim was nothing new.  As early as 2007, President Barack Obama had ominously warned of Al-Qaeda recruiting in U.S. jails:

I will address the problem in our prisons, where the most disaffected and disconnected Americans are being explicitly targeted for conversion by al Qaeda and its ideological allies

Following the failed Times Square bombing in 2010, by 2011 this issue had become such a grave issue that the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security held Congressional hearings “on radicalization in the U.S. Muslim community” to assess the threat of homegrown terrorism.

The idea, that Americans need to fear their fellow Muslim compatriots, is very troubling from a sociological point of view.  Throughout American history, various minorities–such as Jews, Catholics, and Japanese–have been portrayed in the fifth column role.  Indeed, Islamophobes of the worst order have made a living selling books warning of the “stealth jihad” being waged by American Muslims right here in the United States.

We are told by these anti-Muslim conspiracy nuts that Islam itself permits “holy lying” (a dubious translation of the word taqiyya).  To bolster this claim, they reproduce an isolated text from a corpus attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, in which he says “war is deceit.”

I have addressed this issue numerous times in the past.  For example, when Major Nidal Hasan used his military clearance to kill U.S. soldiers, I wrote an article explaining why this was in fact strictly forbidden (haram) from an Islamic law point of view.  American Muslims must obey U.S. laws, and certainly are not permitted to harm the state or its people.

This is because the Quran–and Islam in general–affirms the importance of “covenants”, i.e. peace treaties, Visa and citizenship agreements, etc.  The Quran declares emphatically:

And fulfill every covenant.  Verily, you will be held accountable with regard to the covenants. (Quran, 17:34)

As I noted in my earlier article, “[t]he Quran does say that if the believers are being oppressed in some land, then the Muslims should come to their assistance.  But it forbids fighting against those with whom a covenant exists.”

In the case of American Muslims, they cannot aid their fellow Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere–at least not militarily or in any way that would constitute treason against the United States.  Of this, the Quran states:

If [your coreligionists] ask for your aid in religion, then you must help them, except against people with whom you have covenants with. (Quran, 8:72)

Nonetheless, right-wingers have worked Americans into a frenzy by fear-mongering about how American Muslims supposedly want to overthrow the democratic government of the United States and replace it with a “Sharia state.”  This, however, would constitute an act of treachery and treason, which is clearly proscribed in Islam.

American Muslims must constantly remind their fellow citizens of this fact, routinely reaffirming their loyalty to the country.  But, Islamophobes insist that this is just a watered down or sugar coated version of Islam, which American Muslims just try selling to Western audiences while behind the scenes they plot the downfall of the government.  To them, the Times Square would-be bomber wasn’t hijacking (or rather, carjacking) Islam, but rather, he was faithfully carrying out the commandments of Allah.

However, what the Bin Laden papers reveal is that even Osama Bin Laden–the nefarious leader of the world’s most feared Islamic extremist group–admitted that such homegrown terrorism is not proper, at least from a theological point of view.  In the 2010 letter I referenced above, Bin Laden writes to ”Shaykh Mahmud” (emphasis is mine):

Perhaps you monitored the trial of brother Faysal Shahzad. In it he was asked about the oath that he took when he got American citizenship. And he responded by saying that he lied. You should know that it is not permissible in Islam to betray trust and break a covenant. Perhaps the brother was not aware of this. Please ask the brothers in Taliban Pakistan to explain this point to their members. In one of the pictures, brother Faysal Shahzad was with commander Mahsud; please find out if Mahsud knows that getting the American citizenship requires talking an oath to not harm America. This is a very important matter because we do not want al-Mujahidin to be accused of breaking a covenant.

So, here we have even the poster boy of Islamic terrorism saying that Faisal Shahzad violated Islamic law by taking American citizenship and then harming America.  Islamophobes would be quick to dismiss these words by OBL as taqiyya (“holy lying”), but remember: these were words contained not in a public Al-Qaeda statement but in a private letter between Bin Laden and his associate.  This letter was not intended for an outside audience, and was only released by the United States government.

How then could it be a case of taqiyya?  Unless Osama Bin Laden wrote the letter in 2010 knowing that two years later the United States would raid his compound in Pakistan and then release his letter.  Those wily Islamic terrorists!

Of course, Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are anything but consistent.  Despite Bin Laden disavowing Faisal Shahzad’s actions–and recognizing the Islamic principle that prohibits such “homegrown terrorism”–Al-Qaeda’s spokesman Adam Gadahn approved of Major Nidal Hasan’s actions and called on American Muslims to to attack the United States.  One could probably find similar inconsistencies in Bin Laden’s own words.  (In fact, most of Al-Qaeda’s bread-and-butter acts of terrorism are forbidden in Islam just based on the issue of covenants and the prohibition of being treacherous–even leaving aside the more important issue of non-combatant immunity.)

It’s also true that this doesn’t mean that homegrown terrorism isn’t a major problem. (Other articles of mine point out that homegrown terrorism is highly exaggerated.)  But, the point is that even Al-Qaeda’s head honcho, Osama Bin Laden himself, admitted that Islam prohibits homegrown terrorism, even while his group encouraged it.  He conceded that Islamic law forbids breaking a covenant, treaty, or trust–that it proscribes treason and treachery. This reinforces what is well-known to real experts of Islam, which is that A-Qaeda and other Muslim terrorists aren’t following Islam at all, despite what the Islamophobes continue to claim.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Sheila Musaji: Geller & Spencer Attempt to Turn Congressional Race into a Religious War

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by loonwatch

More religion-baiting and Islamophobic anti-Muslim hate-mongering from the premiere religious bigots of the day, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.

Geller & Spencer attempt to turn Congressional race into a religious war

by Sheila Musaji (TAM)

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are outraged that a political campaign in New Jersey has included the issue of one candidates support for Israel.

Both Spencer and Geller refer their readers to an article in the Washington Free Beacon about the democratic primary race between Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell.

That one-sided article noted that “For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.  And, it noted an ad by an Arab group in the community supporting Pascrell that produced an ad urging the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community.”  It also refers to an article by Aref Assaf published in February titled Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9.  It also included this quote “I don’t read Arabic well, but I am pretty sure that the pro-Pascrell posters that have appeared across the district are not calling to elect the candidate who supports a strong relationship between America and the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is rooted in progressive Western values—women’s rights, gay rights, tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.,” said Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

It is impossible to believe that Mr. Block was unaware that it was a letter from a group of Rabbis that began this entire discussion.  It is also impossible to believe that the author of this article, Adam Kredo, was also unaware of the implications of that letter (since he mentions it later in his article).  Nevertheless, Kredo’s article was the basis for both Geller and Spencer’s posts.

Geller says

A New Jersey congressional race is becoming a referendum on a candidate’s Judaism. Muslims are going after a Jewish congressman. Islamic Jew-hatred rears its ugly [be]head for the first time in a congressional race. But believe you me, it won’t be the last time. Islamic Jew-Hatred—it’s in the quran.

It’s very ugly, and the enemedia, self-enforcing the sharia, is not covering it. And the local press is giving the Islamic supremacists all the column inches the haters demand. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, is a vile nazi who has been getting the lion’s share of press.

Assaf wrote in an oped in the New Jersey Star Ledger that the Jewish candidate under attack, Steve Rothman, “is using his support of Israel as the centerpiece of his campaign.” It is Assaf and his Jew-hating constiuency [sic] that are making it all about Rothman’s Judaism and Israel. The Muslim Jew-haters are making it the centerpiece of their campaign. Rothman “has consciously avoided adding fuel to the ethnic fire by focusing instead on his congressional record, note political observers in both New Jersey and Washington, D.C.”

Spencer titles his article “We want this Jew out of office”: Islamic antisemitism invades New Jersey Congressional primary race and calls this An ugly new development in American politics: Muslim voters lining up to defeat a Jewish candidate.

It would be worthwhile to read the actual article written by Assef that would provoke Geller to call him a “vile nazi” and “Muslim Jew-hater”.  Here is what Assef wrote

It may be Kosher but is it illegal? As the Record reported on February 17, 2012, several presidents of Orthodox synagogues are urging the Republican-registered members of their respective congregations to switch party affiliation in order to vote for Steve Rothman. Rep. Steve Rothman is battling fellow Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell for the newly redrawn Ninth Congressional District.

The primary elections are set for June 5 and because the district is heavily democratic, the winner will most likely carry the November elections too. The Record’s article is based on a letter first posted in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News. The Record calls into question the legality of such a letter signed by well-known religious leaders and debates the possible IRS code violations that such a position entails. Skirting the gray line of legality, these letters do carry the weight of the religious institutions the signers represent and when you consider the Orthodox community in Passaic is closely-knit, even when the names are not attached to their religious affiliations, they are still a known entity. While religious institutions may engage in local, state, and even federal elections, there are clear guidelines they must not cross to maintain their tax-exempt status under Section 501 of the IRS code, which governs non-profit and tax exempt entities. Such entities are clearly prohibited from endorsing political candidates and/or contributing to their campaign funds and must provide equal access to all competing candidates.

The question remains when such activities exceed the limit of the law and spill over being a mere informational letter. As quoted in the Record, one of the letter signers, Akiva Hirth, said, “It’s a free country,” adding that “religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.” Yet a closer read tells a different story; and I quote from the original letter: “Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race. The choice is clear – support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.” This is clearly a political endorsement. The IRS is called upon to investigate the legal ramifications of such a violation.

It may turn out to be a non-issue, but I am puzzled that so many Jewish Rabbis would and for mere temporary political expediency encourage their congregation to go against their faith and register Democratic. Like observant American Muslims who also favor the Republican Party, Orthodox Jews would choose the Republican platform for strictly religious reasons dealing with abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, and support for Israel. I would not want my Imam to urge me to change my party label so irreverently. It’s just plain dishonest.

But if it is Kosher for Orthodox rabbis to preach to their members on political candidates, then it must be Halal for Muslim Imams to do the same. We will soon find out if Muslim religious leaders will reach out to their respective congregations. Imams, like rabbis, wield disproportionate leverage in and uncontested access to their congregations.

American Muslims are said to be evenly split between those registered as Democrat and Republicans. If Republican Muslims in New Jersey emulate the Jewish voters, and assuming their numerical symmetry, they will at least cancel out the ‘converted’ Jewish votes. Real democratic voters will then decide the election outcome. I will be reporting back on developments.

Unquestionably, this primary election is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities. To what extent the Muslim community will be energized by these developments will have to be determined. As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s.

The incident that Assef was responding to was reported on in an article titled Letter asks Orthodox Jews to switch parties and support Rothman.  Here is the text of that article:

PASSAIC — The leaders of Orthodox Jewish synagogues in the city are urging their congregants to switch parties from Republican to Democrat so they can vote for Rep. Steve Rothman in the June 5 primary against Rep. Bill Pascrell.

A letter endorsed by 15 presidents of Passaic shuls was mailed last week to the homes of Orthodox Jews in the city’s Passaic Park section who are registered Republicans. In the letter, the presidents urge them to register as Democrats by the April 11 deadline so they so they can support Rothman, who is considered more pro-Israel than Pascrell.

“Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race,” the letter reads. “The choice is clear — support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.”

The letter, which carries the heading “A Message from Passaic’s Shul Presidents,” was paid for by the Rothman campaign. It notes that the redrawn boundaries of the 9th congressional district heavily favors Democrats. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will likely capture the seat in November.

The letter, which has also been published in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News, is an outgrowth of the recent endorsement of Rothman by Gary Schaer, a prominent member of Passaic’s Orthodox Jewish community who is also City Council president and a state assemblyman.

Although political leaders are free to endorse anyone they want, the letter raises questions about whether religious leaders violated the IRS guidelines that restrict religious non-profits from endorsing political candidates.

Section 501 of the IRS code says religious non-profits are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” The code further prohibits “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates…”

Marc Owens, a Washington, D.C tax lawyer who headed the IRS’ tax exemption unit from 1990 to 2000, said the issue is whether the synagogue leaders were acting as individuals or on behalf of their religious institutions when they wrote the letter.  “Is it the religious institution speaking or are they speaking as individuals?” Owens said.

Only one of the 15 synagogue presidents who signed the letter could be reached for comment on Friday. In a brief telephone interview, Akiva Hirth said he signed the letter because he was within his rights to do so.  “It’s a free country,” Hirth said, adding that religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.

The Jewish vote is considered crucial for both Rothman and Pascrell, who are locked in a tight battle in the Democratic primary. Spokesmen for both candidates played down the issue on Friday.

Paul Swibinski, a spokesman for Rothman, defended the letter as a legitimate voter registration tactic. “I don’t see anything improper here at all,” he said. “There are no names of synagogues or temples listed in the letter. It is clearly a personal endorsement from leaders of these synagogues. It is not an endorsement by the synagogues themselves.”

Pascrell wasn’t eager to make an issue of it, either. “If anyone is violating tax laws, then we clearly have a concern,” he said.

It would seem that simply following the timeline of events clarifies this whole incident.  A group of Jewish Rabbis raised the issue of a candidates support for Israel as a reason to vote for that candidate.  After they sent out a letter encouraging the Jewish community to support one candidate based on this issue, Aref Assaf wrote his article calling their actions into question on the basis of U.S. law.  He also expressed his sadness that such behavior in a local primary election “is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities” against each other.

It is sad to see this being made into a “religious issue” rather than a simple political issue.  Who is the best candidate to represent the citizens of the 9th district of New Jersey should be the issue.

Geller and Spencer are old hands at stirring the pot of religious bigotry in political campaigns.  This is simply the most recent example.

When Gary Boisclair ran a congressional campaign vs Keith Ellison that was based entirely on hatred of Muslims – Pamela Geller was upset at Youtube for pulling Boisclair’s anti-Muslim ad. Geller called it “enforcing Sharia” and she said More sharia (Islamic law): this is enforcement of blasphemy laws, do not insult Islam. How much more of our freedom are we going to allow them to seize?

When there was a furore over Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an in a photo opportunity after his swearing in as a Congressman – Robert Spencer wrote This is allegedly a political masterstroke by Ellison, but it really just begs the question. Thomas Jefferson, obviously, was not a Muslim. In his famous statement on religious freedom he wrote about whether one’s neighbor believed in one god or twelve “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But what no one is willing to discuss here is whether the Qur’an and Islam really fit into that framework. When I have mentioned that it sanctions lying to unbelievers (3:28 and 16:106, in the mainstream understanding of those verses by Islamic theologians and schools of jurisprudence; cf. Ibn Kathir and many others), people have responded that the Bible is full of nasty stuff as well. But people aren’t swearing on the Bible because it is full of nasty stuff, or endorsing any of it that might actually be there. The idea of swearing on the Bible arises from Christian belief and is buttressed by Christian theology—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—that requires honesty and eschews all dishonesty as coming from the “Father of Lies.” The permissions to be dishonest in the Qur’an are not mitigated by Islamic belief, tradition, and theology, but are in fact reinforced—by Muhammad’s statements that “war is deceit” and that lying is permissible in wartime, and more.

In short, to swear on the Bible is to affirm, among other things, that one is part of a tradition, and to swear on the Qur’an does not amount to an affirmation of the same tradition, no matter how much Glenn Beck or Ed Koch or anyone wishes it does or assumes it does. Islamic teachers daily use the Qur’an to establish principles that differ radically from those of Judeo-Christian tradition. These questions need to be discussed in a forthright and honest manner by Ellison and by the mainstream media, instead of being swept under the rug or condemned as bigotry.”

The decent people of the 9th Congressional District of New Jersey don’t need such bigoted individuals involving themselves in this election and fueling the fires of mutual distrust and bigotry.

The Young Turks: How Drone Strikes Help AlQaeda

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by loonwatch

Why_do_they_hate_us_Muslims

The drone strikes are killing civilians and causing anger and a thirst for vengeance. This has been quite obvious to anyone who has cared to pay attention.

We’ve been reporting on this for quite some time now, but with the recent reports on how the Obama administration fudge’s the facts about civilian deaths there is renewed discussion on the effectiveness of the drone attacks:

How drone strikes help AlQaeda:

Nathan Lean: The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Our friend Nathan Lean recently wrote on the Islamophobia network’s efforts in Kansas.

(Nathan also has a new book out, ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Check it out!)

The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

by Nathan Lean (Huffington Post)

Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Republican Governor Sam Brownback had a feeling he was not in Kansas anymore. At least not the Kansas that he once knew. His Sunflower State was teeming with unfamiliar creatures and though not tin-men or scarecrows or wicked witches, they were nonetheless outsiders and were apparently so unsettling that a law was required to prevent their influence: They were Muslims.

Last Friday, Brownback signed a bill prohibiting local courts from relying on sharia, or Islamic law, as well as other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter. The bill was approved in a landslide vote: 33-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.

Like other similar bills in 20 states, including recently enacted laws in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the blueprint for the controversial Kansas legislation comes from a familiar and influential source: a growing right-wing network of anti-Muslim fear mongers. They are the Islamophobia industry and laws such as this are hallmark achievements in their quest to frighten the American population about a minority group they view with great suspicion and scorn.

The deluge of anti-Muslim legislation that has unnecessarily clogged the corridors of power (and the minds of otherwise rational politicians) can be traced back to David Yerushalmi, a 57-year-old Hasidic Jew with a library’s worth of controversial statements about African Americans, fellow Jews and immigrants. A shadow agent of this fear industry, Yerushalmi has worked behind the scenes since 2001 to ratchet up an image of Islam and Muslims that is heavy on sensationalism and gore and short on context and fact. It was his organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (with the ironic acronym SANE) that once suggested that the U.S government should declare a war on the Muslim community, that Muslims should not be granted entry visas to the U.S., and that practicing Islam should be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The Kansas law, and the majority of the bills that were brought before state congresses, are based on a single piece of blueprint legislation crafted by Yerushalmi titled “American Laws for American Courts.” Along with former Reagan official Frank Gaffney, who is famous for suggesting that Barack Obama is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yerushalmi marketed the plan to lawmakers throughout the country, tapping into Tea Party bases and Republican activist groups such as ACT For America that welcomed the opportunity to institutionalize discrimination in their respective states.

In drumming up support for Kansas’s ban, bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller spread the word to their online bases through “Action Alerts” that warned of “Islamic supremacists” who were “seeking to impose the Sharia on non-Muslims.” They urged their supporters to “flood [Brownback’s] Twitter” and “jam his phones” with strong support for the bill.

Spencer and Geller co-founded Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) in 2010, an American offshoot of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a hate group that the European Union calls a “neo-Nazi organization.” They also led the protests in 2010 to the Park51 Community Center (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?) in New York City. Yerushalmi and Gaffney serve as their legal counsel. When the Kansas bill was signed, Geller reacted with her usual flamboyance: “U Da Best,” she wrote. “What a disaster defeat for Hamas-CAIR,” she added.

Supporters of the Kansas law point to the fact that it does not explicitly mention sharia and that it only refers to “foreign legal codes.” But it is clear from the people who are behind this newest manifestation of state-sanctioned Islamophobia that the statute is hardly intended to be an equal opportunity regulator. In fact, after court’s ruled last year that Oklahoma’s sharia ban violated the establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment, Yerushalmi took note of the bill’s language and wiped out language that could be interpreted as targeting Muslims specifically. This growing network operates on slyness and persistence.

The Islamophobia industry is a dangerous and influential group. They have successfully attached anti-Muslim sentiment to the banner of right-wing populism and it is fast becoming identical to anti-Semitism and other such structural racisms that have the potential to spill out into the ghastly displays of violence. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, for example, listed Spencer, Geller and Gaffney multiple times in the manifesto that served as a guidebook for his massacre in July 2011. This network clings to the notion that foreign is bad and that Muslims are not a natural part of America’s national fabric. They believe that they must not only be chastised and harassed but that local government’s should discriminate against them on the basis of their religion and foreign systems of order that the everyday, law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims of America don’t even follow to begin with.

There is no sharia law in Kansas. There is no sharia law anywhere in the United States. What there is, though, is a hateful band of anti-pluralists who take great joy (and make great money) in cleaving society into various fragments that war with one another. It is time to shine a bright and damning light on the Islamophobia industry.

Nathan Lean is the Editor-In-Chief of AslanMedia.com. He is the co-author of ‘Iran, Israel, and the United States’ (2010) and the author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Visit him online at www.nathanlean.com and follow him on Twitter at @nathanlean.

The Ultimate Obama-Islam-Sharia-Agenda 21-Immigration-Debt Conspiracy

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2012 by loonwatch

(h/t: criticaldragon)

The Ultimate Obama-Islam-Sharia-Agenda 21-Immigration-Debt Conspiracy

by Brian Tashman, (RightWingWatch.org0

The number of right-wing conspiracy theories relating to President Obama, IslamSharia Law,immigrationAgenda 21 and the debt seems to be growing exponentially…but finally now there is one conspiracy theory that brings them all together.

Avi Lipkin, who on speaking tours in churches and synagogues across America says he learned secret information from his wife, whom he claims is an Israel intelligence officer. On Crosstalk with Vic Eliason of VCY America, Lipkin maintained that Obama is a Saudi plant who is out to destroy Israel and the United States:

Lipkin: Obama was made a Muslim man in Indonesia by age 11. He said, ‘I’ve got health care problems, I got economic problems in America, Muslims in Egypt and Muslims in the Muslim world, be patient, I will show you when the time comes what I am going to do to Israel.’ My wife picked up other broadcasts, for example the Saudis were saying, ‘we will have a Muslim in the White House in 2008.’ The Saudis also said, ‘Obama has three tasks: task number 1 is to destroy the Shiite threat in Iran, task number 2 is to destroy the Jewish threat Israel, task number 3 is to destroy the great Christian Satan America and turn America into a Muslim country.’

Surely you’ve heard that one before. But, you may not have known that Obama will destroy America by supporting the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in order to collapse the region’s economy after the group persecutes the country’s Christians, leading to a wave of Muslim immigration to the United States. Obama will then settle the “50-100 million” Muslim immigrants on “lands confiscated by Agenda 21,” the sustainable development initiative, and bring about Sharia law in the U.S.

Obama also built up the national debt to a point where the U.S. will need a bailout from Saudi Arabia, who will grant it with the condition that “America will surrender its Christianity.” Lipkin explains that God sent the Muslim immigrants to the U.S. to be “hunters” of Jews and Christians, forcing them to leave the U.S. and move to Israel:

Lipkin: The Muslim Brotherhood is going to end up either killing, converting to Islam or expelling the remaining Christians of Egypt. When the Christians of Egypt are gone, the economy of Egypt is gone. When the economy of Egypt is gone, the 76 Muslims who remain are going to starve to death. What do people do when they starve? They leave. Where do they go to? America. Who’s going to bring them in? Obama. Where is he going to settle them? In the lands confiscated by Agenda 21.

Lipkin: America will be Muslim by 2016. 2016 is the eighth year of President Obama, meaning he is going to bring in 50-100 million Muslims because it is inevitable that all these Islamic countries cannot rule, they don’t know how to rule themselves, they are completely inept, and after they kill all the Christians that remain there will not be any economy left so you’re going to have overnight 50-100 million Muslims coming in. You cannot put them in American cities, you have got to create entire new areas populated in the United States and Canada with these Muslims.

Eliason: Where Sharia law holds forth?

Lipkin: Yes! So you have Agenda 21, you have Sharia law, by the way I’m going to throw out a real wildcard now. You have all those people who talk about the American debt being insolvable, where are you going to get $14 trillion from? The answer is very simple, you don’t think the Saudis have $14 trillion in cash? They’ll give you the cash and they will say ‘we own you now, we’re going to take over America.’ And Americans will say, ‘if we don’t do this we’re going to lose our economy and we’re going to lose our dollar and everything.’ The American economic problem is not a problem if the Saudis come in and bring in their cash. The problem here is America will surrender its Christianity.

Lipkin: If and when a war breaks out in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors then you will see 10, 20, 30 million, maybe more, 40, 50 million Muslims, some of them are going to rise up in a 9/11 type terrorist attacks and they are not afraid to die, they cherish death, and American law enforcement with all the best of intentions will not be capable of dealing with this. They are not going to kill 10 million, they are going to kill some and a lot of Jews and Christians are going to go into hiding and eventually a lot of them will eventually leave the United States and coming to Israel so I see this as a spatula, they leave by God, you have the hunters and these hunters are going to be the Muslims. I believe America will come out of this mess but it’s going to be a very rough time, weeks, months, before the situation is brought under control. The more Muslims you have in America the more capable they will be to wreak havoc on Jews and Christians.

British Freedom Exposes ‘Halal Hegemony’ … in Croydon

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by loonwatch

The Halal hysteria continues (via. Islamophobia-Watch):

British Freedom exposes ‘halal hegemony’ … in Croydon

A British Freedom member has posted a report on the BF website about the Islamic takeover of Croydon (where the Muslim communty comprises 5% of the population, compared with 66% who are Christian). He writes:

“In parts of Croydon things English and things Western have been visibly relegated. It’s all halal here, halal there and halal everywhere. If you wish to enjoy an animal that has been spared throat-slashing (after being stunned or not), and killed in a manner befitting our own culture then chances are you’ll have to search, and sometimes search hard. There are ‘Halal Meat Sold Here’ signs that inform the population of the ‘enrichment’ bequeathed to us via the odious triumvirate that is mass pandering, mass appeasing and mass immigration.”

(The BF editor helpfully adds a note pointing out that “in halal slaughter nowadays many animals are stunned before having their throats cut, which is arguably more humane. However this is not the main issue for most people, who are more concerned about unknowingly eating meat that has been sacrificed to Allah”.)

Click to read more …

‘Anti-Mosque Activity’ in More than Half of US States

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Rev. Stacy Walker-Frontjes, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in DeKalb, Ill., talks with Mohammed Labadi as she tours the house that serves as the group’s mosque.

Anti-Mosque activity has been rampant in the USA over the past five years:

Proposed mosques spark opposition in some U.S. communities

(USA Today)

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were carried out by hijackers from Arab countries, animosity toward Muslims sometimes has taken the form of opposition to construction of mosques and other Islamic facilities. National debate erupted over plans for a community center that became known as the “Ground Zero mosque” in Lower Manhattan.

In the last five years, there has been “anti-mosque activity” in more than half the states, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Some mosques were vandalized – a $5,000 reward is being offered in a 2011 Wichita mosque arson case – and others were targets of efforts to deny zoning permits.

Mosque opponents often raise concerns about traffic and parking, but Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s freedom of religion program, says they can be “sham arguments” that mask anti-Muslim sentiment.

Mosque opponents often raise concerns about traffic and parking, but Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU’s freedom of religion program, says they can be “sham arguments” that mask anti-Muslim sentiment.

“I hope that eventually there will be greater acceptance for all faiths, including Islam,” Mach says.

Read the rest…

Obama Campaign Releases Blatantly anti-Arab Video Ad

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Barack_Obama

Barack Obama

The Obama campaign created an Ad where they try and juxtapose a “moderate” John McCain against a “radical” Mitt Romney. In the process they fail to address anti-Arab racism:

Obama campaign releases blatantly anti-Arab video ad

by Ali Abu Nimah (Electronic Intifada)

US President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign has just released a blatantly anti-Arab video ad on its official YouTube channel.

The Hill reported:

An Obama campaign Web ad released Tuesday looks to tie Mitt Romney to the controversial assertions held by real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump, who has become one of the Romney campaign’s most visible surrogates.

The ad, called “Two Republican Nominees,” aims to do so by contrasting presumptive 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney negatively when compared to the supposedly more moderate Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee Obama defeated in 2008.

Blatant anti-Arab racism

But The Hill fails to note the blatant anti-Arab racism in the ad. It features a clip of an11 October 2008 exchange at a Minnesota town-hally style campaign event between McCain and a woman in the audience. The exchange can be seen starting 15 seconds into the ad:

WOMAN: “I have heard about him [Obama]. He’s an Arab.

MCCAIN: “No ma’am, no ma’am, he’s a decent family man, citizen, whom I just happen to have disagreements with.”

If the bigotry contained in the exchange is not obvious, try replacing the word “Arab” with “Jew” and then imagine what the response would have been to how McCain handled it.

Few speak out

The exchange caused outrage among Arab Americans during the 2008 campaign, but very few other public figures, especially not Obama, spoke up against this kind of racism – which also routinely conflates Arabs and Muslims.

One of the few who did was former Bush administration Secretary of State Colin Powell who told NBC’s Meet The Press on 19 October 2008:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Powell, a former general who is poorly remembered by many Arabs for his role in the first Gulf War and the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, recalled that Muslims had died serving in US wars and he had been moved by a picture he saw in a magazine:

of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then,at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American.

Of course many people might reject the notion that Muslim Americans and Arab Americans should only be honored and included to the extent that they participate in or endorse American militarism.

But what was remarkable in 2008, and is remarkable now is that it took a senior Bush administration official to say what few others were prepared to say. And even worse, the Obama campaign apparently seeks to benefit from this very same racism now.

Read the rest…

Congressional Candidate Sam Aanestad: Muslims Infiltrating Government, Obama a Muslim

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Congressional Candidate Sam Aanestad reportedly said President Obama was a Muslim

(via. Islamophobia-Today)

GRASS VALLEY — Congressional candidate Sam Aanestad said Tuesday he was not going to comment further on a meeting in Paradise where he reportedly said President Obama was a Muslim.

He said, in a telephone interview, that the matter, involving a “disruptive woman who was escorted out,” wasn’t worth discussing further.

Aanestad is a former Republican state senator from Grass Valley.

According to Karen Duncanwood of Paradise, Aanestad was a guest at a tea party meeting at a Paradise pizza restaurant about a month ago.

Duncanwood, a supporter of one of Aanestad’s opponents, Democratic congressional candidate Jim Reed, said she went to the meeting to hear what Aanestad had to say. Jim Stellar of Concow, another Reed supporter, also attended.

In a phone interview, Duncanwood said a woman at the meeting told Aanestad she was concerned about “Muslim extremists” getting into the higher echelons of American government.

Duncanwood said Aanestad indicated he agreed with her and suggested the inroads extended to “the Oval Office.”

Then, Duncanwood said, Stellar asked Aanestad if he was calling Obama a Muslim.

Duncanwood said Aanestad replied that he did.

“At that point,” Duncanwood said, “I stood up and said, ‘He’s a Christian. He baptized his children, and he goes to a Christian church.”

She said some other people at the meeting insisted Obama was a Muslim, and after that she was escorted out of the meeting.

Jessica Allen, Chico campaign coordinator for Reed, heard about the incident. She said Stellar told her he wrote a letter about it and sent it to a local newspaper but it wasn’t published. So, she said, she sent information about the incident to several newspapers, including the Enterprise-Record.

Allen said she wasn’t acting on behalf of Reed’s campaign.

Rather, she simply felt the public ought to know what Aanestad had said, she said.

On Monday, when Aanestad was in Chico holding a press conference, two reporters asked him about the Obama comment.

Aanestad said he did think Obama was a Muslim. He said Obama’s father was a Muslim, and that he was raised in a Muslim culture. Now, Obama says he is a Christian, and Aanestad said he has no choice other than to believe that he is a Christian today.

Last week, Aanestad was interviewed by Marc Albert, who does local news reporting on Chico radio station KZFR. Albert told the Enterprise-Record he asked Aanestad about the Obama-Muslim comment and whether he thought Obama was a Muslim.

Albert said he provided Allen with some recorded excerpts from the radio interview. Allen emailed those to the Enterprise-Record.

In one of the radio clips, Aanestad says, “I was asked (at the tea party meeting), do I think he (Obama) is a Muslim. Do I think he is a Muslim? And the answer is yes. That is his background. That is his beginning.

“He may be a Christian today. There’s no way you or I can tell that. But his background, his upbringing, his tradition, his holiday observances — all from the Muslim background. Does he practice Islam, the religion of the Muslims? I don’t think so.”

In 2010, ABC did a news report claiming many Americans wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim.

The report said Obama has written that by the time he was born, his father had become an atheist, that his father divorced his mother when he was 2, and that he rarely saw his father when he was a child.

Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759, lmitchell@chicoer.com, or followed on Twitter, @LarryMitchell7.

Original post: Aanestad now mum on Muslim comment

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…

Over the Rainbow in Kansas, pt.2: Gov. Brownback Signs Bill Aimed at Blocking Sharia

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

Gov. Brownback has signed the bill passed by the Kansas legislature aimed at blocking “foreign law” (i.e. the non-existent “sharia threat”) in Kansas.

It will likely be challenged in Kansas courts:

Kan. gov. signs measure blocking Islamic law

BY JOHN HANNA (Kansas City Star)

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.

The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

“This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws,” said Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a Michigan group promoting model legislation similar to the new Kansas law. “The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion.”

But supporters have worried specifically about Shariah law being applied in Kansas court cases, and the alliance says on its website that it wants to protect Americans’ freedoms from “infiltration” by foreign laws and legal doctrines, “especially Islamic Shariah Law.”

Brownback’s office notified the state Senate of his decision Friday, but he actually signed the measure Monday. The governor’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said in a statement that the bill “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”

Muslim groups had urged Brownback to veto the measure, arguing that it promotes discrimination. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a court challenge is likely because supporters of the measure frequently expressed concern about Shariah law.

Hooper said of Brownback, “If he claims it has nothing to do with Shariah or Islamic law or Muslims, then he wasn’t paying attention.”

Both the Washington-based council and the National Conference of State Legislatures say such proposals have been considered in 20 states, including Kansas. Gele said laws similar to Kansas’ new statute have been enacted in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Shariah law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.

There are no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law. However, supporters of the bill have cited a pending case in Sedgwick County in which a man seeking to divorce his wife has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.

Supporters argue the measure simply ensures that legal decisions will protect long-cherished liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion and the right to equal treatment under the law. Gele said the measure would come into play if someone wanted to enforce a libel judgment against an American from a foreign nation without the same free speech protections.

“It is perfectly constitutional,” he said.

The House approved the bill unanimously and the Senate, with broad, bipartisan support. Even some legislators who were skeptical of it believed it was broad and bland enough that it didn’t represent a specific political attack on Muslims.

“This disturbing recent trend of activist judges relying upon the laws of other nations has been rejected by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the Kansas House and Senate,” Jones-Sontag said.

The measure’s chief sponsor, Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, also has said all Kansans, including Muslims, should be comfortable with the new law, but she did not immediately respond Friday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, acknowledged that the measure merely “made some people happy” and that a vote against it could be cast politically as a vote in favor of Shariah law.

“Am I really concerned that Shariah law is going to take over the Kansas courts? No,” he said. “I’m more concerned about getting jobs to Kansas.”

The Michigan-based alliance advocates model “American Law for American Courts” legislation. Its website says, “America has unique values of liberty which do not exist in foreign legal systems, particularly Shariah Law.”

During the Kansas Senate’s debate on the bill earlier this month, Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican described a vote for the measure as a vote for women’s rights, adding, “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”

Hooper said supporters of such proposals have made it clear they are targeting Islamic law.

“Underlying all of this is demonizing Islam and marginalizing American Muslims,” he said.