Archive for AAI

Dearborn Anti-Islam Conference Discriminates Against Muslim Women it Claims to Save

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2012 by loonwatch

Omar Baddar and a host of other organizations responded to the hateful anti-Islam and anti-Arab conference put on by professional bigots Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The founders of SIOA crassly titled the event, “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference.” Seeking to manipulate and abuse the memory of a young Muslim girl who was murdered by her step-father.

Her murder had nothing to do with Islam, but the hate-mongerers insist on trying to smear Islam at any opportunity.

In the following video we get the facts. We see how discriminatory and racist to the core the anti-Islam brigades behind the “conference” really are! We also see how scared they are of confrontation and being challenged on their hateful bigotry:

AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

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

The counter to the anti-Freedom voices:

AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

by Omar Baddar

Yesterday, more than a hundred people gathered at a town hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan to stand in solidarity with the Arab American and American Muslim communities against Islamophobia. The town hall, organized by AAI and local community groups, was held in response to an anti-Muslim conference at the Hyatt in Dearborn, organized by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and other leading Islamophobes.

Islamophobes try to portray themselves as “the real Americans” defending America from the allegedly foreign presence of Muslims, but it was our community town hall that was attended by many elected officials, including Michigan Congressmen John Conyers, Jr. and Hansen Clarke. Elected officials’ presence at our event reiterated the integrality of the American Muslim community in the U.S. and the fringe nature of those who are pushing America to become otherwise.

The town hall opened with an educational panel that included Fear Inc. co-author Eli Clifton, writer Sarah Posner, and AAI President Jim Zogby. Clifton explained in detail the funding sources that finance the anti-Muslim network, while Posner discussed the influence of Islamophobia on American politics. Zogby shed light on the reasons behind the recent rise in Islamophobia, and gave a broader analysis of its implications on U.S. political culture. AAI Executive Director Maya Berry moderated the discussion.

The educational panel was followed by remarks from local community leaders. Noel Saleh of ACCESS talked about the long history of the Arab American and American Muslim communities as an essential part of the fabric of American society. Dawud Walid of CAIR noted how traditional racism played a significant role in the rise of Islamophobia, including the disputing of President Obama’s faith. Osama Siblani of the Arab American News gave a passionate talk about the inevitable defeat of Islamophobes in America because they are working against American values and against history. Others, including Imam Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, Suehaila Amen of the Lebanese American Heritage Club, Imad Hamad of ADC-Michigan, Nabih Ayad of the Arab American Civil Rights League, and interfaith stalwarts Rev. Dan Buttry and Victor Begg also offered powerful remarks at the event.

Congressmen Conyers and Clarke offered passionate words of solidarity with the Arab and Muslim communities. Congressman Clarke noted that Islamophobia should not be a “Muslim issue,” but an American one that is combatted vigorously by all Americans. He also urged the community not to only criticize elected officials who engage in anti-Muslim pandering, but to press those who are silent to speak out against Islamophobia. The town hall concluded with a lively Q&A which left everyone in a positive spirit, ready to take on the challenges we face.

Because of our presence in Dearborn to challenge the anti-Muslim narrative, virtually all media coverage accurately described the other event as the anti-Muslim event and ours as the community response to bigotry. As long as our community stands up and speaks out against Islamophobia, and as long as public officials and the broader American community continue to stand with us, the bigots will never build momentum that can disrupt the diversity and tolerance that characterize our society.

After the conclusion of our event, my colleague Omar Tewfik and I tried to attend and cover the anti-Muslim conference, but were denied entry (quite the contrast from our open-to-all event). We’ll be sharing our story very soon, accompanied with video footage and interesting details.

“Jessica Mokdad” Conference: At War with Islam by Any Crooked Means

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by loonwatch

Jessica_Mokdad_Conference

The Panelists at the conference

When Malcolm X uttered the famous words“by any means necessary,” it was in the midst of the Jim Crow era. He was making it known that Blacks were not going to take the systematic violence and oppression directed against them in a subservient manner. On the other side was Bull Connor, George Wallace, the Ku Klux Klan and organized racism which sought to uphold Jim Crow “by any crooked means.”

In the “fine” tradition of the Jim Crow-era racists, Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other leading anti-Muslim activists have declared war on Muslims by any and all crooked means. In doing so they project their own inadequacies and stealth motives onto Muslims and Islam. They create new definitions of theological concepts such as taqiya (dissimulation to protect oneself from violence and coercion), defining it as lying for the advancement of Islam. In fact, it is Spencer and Geller who are lying to aide their own cause and to line their own pocket books. They put on the mask of defenders of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, when it is they who are a part of the leading regressive force in the US undermining and challenging our liberties and freedoms.

This was on full display yesterday, April, 29 in Dearborn when they went ahead with an anti-Islam conference titled the “Jessica Mokdad Conference.” Jessica Mokdad was a young woman who was murdered by her step-father, a sick man who had been sexually abusing her.

Mokdad’s murder had nothing to do with Islam, but Geller spinned it into an honor killing.

Despite it not being an honor killing, despite the fact that Mokdad’s family requested her name be taken off the conference, (expressing how it pained them that Geller and co. could so thoughtlessly use Jessica’s memory to further hate of the religion she “loved”) the title was kept: “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference.”

Geographic Racism

Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the largest concentrations of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. For this reason it has earned the scorn and undying resentment of the fanatical anti-Muslim movement.

According to these racists Dearborn has ceased to be a part of America because of the “camel jockeys” and “towel heads” who have invaded. In their mind the city has become “Dearbornistan,” and Michigan an “Islamic Republic.”

Such racist notions zeroing in on certain geographic locations isn’t new, it is a similar kind of racism that paints the US’s Southern border as “Third World” and “backward” because of the large percentage of Latinos.

In their nostalgic-looking-back-at-the-50′s-White-bred world when so-called true Americana existed, when America was a Christian (or Judeo-Christian) nation lies the heart of the anti-Muslim movement’s present malaise.

Like most fundamentalists, they hearken to a mythic, purer past, while selling the fear of an impending Armageddon, after which America will no longer be America.

To fight to keep America “pure,” to recreate its glory, the crowd is given the message: “you are the soldiers,” “this is a war,” ”we are the soldiers. It’s up to us.” (via. USA Today reporter Niraj Warikoo):

Standing for Truth

Dearborn’s residents and Jessica Mokdad’s family decided not to protest the conference, instead they held a town hall titled, Rejecting Islamophobia. This is where the anti-Loons gathered, those opposed to bigotry and hate:

“We stand for America,” said Osama Siblani, publisher of the Dearborn-based Arab-American News, at a panel discussion held at a Detroit hotel. “And they (anti-Muslim activists) stand against America and against the American way of life.”

Siblani’s views were echoed by others who gathered for a conference organized by the Arab American Institute and supported by several other Arab-American groups to counter a conference held in Dearborn on Sunday by anti-Muslim activists called the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings.”

Last year, Mokdad, 20, a Muslim was shot dead by her stepfather in Warren, Mich. Some anti-Islam activists said it was a honor killing because initial reports were that she was perceived as too independent, but Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo said Friday it was not an honor killing. The family of Mokdad opposed the anti-Islam conference and didn’t want Mokdad’s name on it, Cataldo said.

On Sunday, Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn — the biggest mosque in Michigan — said : “Honor killing has no religious roots in Islam.”

Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference features two of the most well-known anti-Islam activists in the United StatesPamela Geller and Robert Spencer.

Geller, who blogs against Islam, said: “Our goal is to raise awareness about the phenomenon of Islamic honor killing in order to help bring a stop to it. These girls have rights, too, they’re human beings, and yet they’re completely forgotten in our politically correct culture.”

Qazwini said he believes Geller is motivated by money. He said she wants to make “Islam look like a monster to raise funds.”

Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference in Dearborn is the latest effort by anti-Islam activists to target Dearborn, which has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., according to Census figures. Earlier this month, Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones held a demonstration outside Qazwini’s mosque.

In addition, some Christian missionaries have increasingly targeted Muslims at the annual Arab festival in Dearborn; last year, some yelled at festival goers as they walked by.

James Zogby, who heads the Arab American Institute, said of Sunday’s anti-Muslim conference: “These people are bigots … they are sick.”

The Arab-American conference featured talks by U.S. House Reps. John Conyers and Hansen Clarke, both Democrats from Detroit. Daniel Kirchbaum, executive director of Michigan’s Department of Civil Rights, also spoke at the event, saying that many in Michigan want to make sure “Muslims are treated fairly and equally.”

Try as they may, to spit on the memory of Jessica Mokdad in the name of human rights, the anti-Muslim bigots will not be successful–as long as those who are vigilant speak out against their hatred, fear-mongering, false dichotomies, generalizations, misattributions and lies.

Please read Omar Baddar’s account of the “Reject Islamophobia” event: AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative.

Dearborn: Muslims and Members of Other Faiths Successfully Counter Anti-Muslim Conference

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by loonwatch

MSNBC describes it as “dueling in Dearborn.” I think the real story is the rejection of Islamophobia, and the anti-Islam outsiders who arrived only to agitate:

Dueling in Dearborn over murder of a 20-year-old woman

By Kari Huus, msnbc.com

In Dearborn Mich., a Detroit suburb known for its concentration of Muslim Americans, anti-Islam leaders from around the country are gathering to discuss how to rescue women from that faith. The “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings” on Sunday is named for a local Muslim woman murdered one year ago.

But Muslims, civil rights groups and other religious leaders say the conference is merely another event put on by well-known bigots to attack the minority religion. Their response was to schedule a town hall meeting just a few miles away on Sunday called “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.”

The honor killing conference, organized by Pamela Geller, who became nationally famous for her vocal opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, aka Park 51 in Manhattan, is based on the premise that Mokdad, 20 years old when she died in April 2011, was the victim of an honor killing justified by Islam.

Mokdad’s family maintains that the killing was a tragedy that has nothing to do with their Islamic beliefs, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s not a case based on honor,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide, told the Free Press on Friday.

In court, prosecutors have said the motive for Mokdad’s killing was that her stepfather, Rahim Alfetlawi had “been sexually abusing her,” Cataldo said, according to the report. They argue that when she threatened to go public about the abuse he killed her.

Cataldo said the family strongly objects to the conference using Mokdad’s killing, which they say was a tragedy that had nothing to do with their faith.

Geller insists this was an honor killing carried out by a devout Muslim because his stepdaughter was not following Islam, and that the family is covering it up. She alleges that law enforcers systematically cover up honor killings here and elsewhere under “stealth enforcement” of Islamic shariah law.

On her web site, Geller says: “Despite pressure from the media and members of Jessica’s family who want to cover up the honor killing aspect of her murder, we are not going to change the name of the conference. Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life.”

The Dearborn conference will feature speeches by Geller and Robert Spencer — author of the blog “Jihad Watch” — as well as several like-minded legal and religious figures. They have also invited a young man who says he was Mokdad’s friend to offer “firsthand testimony” that she was a victim of honor killing.

Stop the Islamization of America, which Geller and Spencer founded, has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights watchdog.

“Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to a profile published by SPLC on its web site. ”She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims.”

The Arab American Institute, a decades-old community organization in the Detroit area, discouraged Muslims and their supporters from protesting at the site of Geller’s conference.  But they organized a competing event, said AAI president Jim Zogby, because Geller and Spencer have become too prominent to ignore.

“Geller and Spencer have thousands of followers, and are given airtime to spew their hate on major American news networks, as if they are respected analysts with just another viewpoint,” Zogby said on the AAI announcement for the “Rejecting Islamophobia” town hall in Detroit.

Although many Americans have never encountered a Muslim in person, about 43 percent questioned in a recent Gallup Poll said they felt at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

“This group, we cannot ignore. This is the time for our community to take a stand, along with all those who value America’s commitment to diversity and freedom of religion, against the politics of division and bigotry promoted by the Islamophobes.”

A variety of community, interfaith and religious leaders and Michigan public on their agenda, for a “community conversation about how to respond to these continued attacks,” said Zogby.

One participant who was just on his way to the town hall was Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group for Muslims.

“I think firstly we have to better expose who these anti-Muslim bigots are as well as their funders,” said Walid. “We believe that the Islamophobia that permeates our country is being pushed by a well-organized, highly-funded network.”

He says that while Dearborn and Detroit have become a focus for the activities of Geller and others of like mind, the problem is bigger.

“Islamophobia is a national illness,” he said.