Archive for Amago

Temple University, Philadelphia: Protestors Condemn Geller and Spencer’s ‘Irrational Hatred’

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs, Loon People, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Protesters at Temple University condemned Geller and Spencer’s irrational hatred of Muslims.

Temple University, Philadelphia: protestors condemn Geller and Spencer’s ‘irrational hatred’

PROTESTERS who had filled the auditorium seats at an anti-Muslim event on Temple University’s campus Monday night left the room quite empty when they marched out in opposition after the discussion began.

The organization hosting the “Islamic Apartheid Conference,” Temple University Students for Intellectual Freedom, says its mission is to introduce controversial issues often left out of mainstream debates and defends its right to political incorrectness. Panelists at the conference included Robert Spencer, contributor to the blog Jihad Watch, and Pamela Geller, famous for her hostility to the proposed construction of an Islamic community center near the site of the World Trade Center.

After walking out, more than 50 demonstrators, consisting of North Philadelphia residents, campus groups and Occupy Philly protesters, remained outside in the rain, holding signs and confronting attendees as they left the event in Ritter Hall, on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 13th Street.

Walter Smolarek, a freshman education major at Temple University, said that the content of the conference is “based solely on irrational hatred toward people, in this case, because of their religious faith, and we don’t feel like it falls under the umbrella of free speech, or should be part of political debate.

“An attack against Muslim communities is an attack against all working people,” said Smolarek.

Though Temple University approved the conference for its calendar, it did not promote the event in the daily campus-events email distributed to the student body.

Production Tells Story of a Muslim Woman’s Journey

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by loonwatch

Joshua Fazeli reacts to his sister Rubiya, played by Sarah Siadat, as she tries on a hijab during the The Mixed Blood Theatre Company's production of "Hijab Tube" at the Cold Spring Library Tuesday , April 24 . / Jason Wachter, jwachter@stcloudtimes.com

Joshua Fazeli reacts to his sister Rubiya, played by Sarah Siadat, as she tries on a hijab during the The Mixed Blood Theatre Company’s production of “Hijab Tube” at the Cold Spring Library Tuesday , April 24 . / Jason Wachter, jwachter@stcloudtimes.com

Production tells story of a Muslim woman’s journey

Written by Stephanie Dickrell

COLD SPRING — A unique, touring production that attempts to dispel stereotypes of Muslims in America made a stop at the Cold Spring branch of the Great River Regional Library Tuesday night.

About 40 audience members were treated to a performance of “Hijab Tube,” a production of Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre. The library has hosted other Mixed Blood productions.

This is the third year “Hijab Tube” has toured the state. It has made stops in Central Minnesota, as well as Iowa, Canada and Nebraska. The tour continues through May 6. The family show has been performed at colleges, community centers, and middle and high schools.

“The reaction (of audiences) has been tremendous,” said Artistic Director Jack Reuler. The majority of attendees around the region had been learning some basics about Islam. For other audience members, it meant seeing themselves — another Muslim person — on stage.

“When they see this play, they see themselves reflected in a positive light,” he said.

The short play follows a 20-year-old Muslim woman’s journey of identity, exploring what it means to be a Muslim in general and what it means to her.

She’s a second-generation immigrant who takes a comparative religion class at her university. She decides to take on the idea of wearing a hijab, a head covering. Her family doesn’t follow the tradition. But the play looks at a variety of ways that Islam and Muslims are seen in America.

The playwright’s premise is that Islam can be separated from the dogma of a certain country’s politics, Reuler said.

“Islam in American really holds the promise of hope,” Reuler said. The play attempts to debunk some myths and draw comparisons and similarities between the Judeo-Christian and Muslim traditions.

“It’s far more of a cultural play than a religious play,” he said.

The cast of the play comes from Muslim families whose roots are in Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia — but all were born in the U.S.

After the play, they stick around to hold a brief question-and-answer session. There are questions about how a mosque works, the role of an Iman and the difference between Islam and a Muslim.

“Having a conversation is really the start,” said Sarah Siadat, who plays the main character Rubiya. She said the sessions afterward are her favorite part.

Barb Omann, an English teacher at Rocori High School, encourages her students to attend out-of-school activities with a global perspective like “Hijab Tube,” and gives them extra credit for doing so.

Andrea Overman, a Rocori 10th-grader, is doing a school report on Malcom X, who converted to Islam. She came to get a different perspective .

“I wanted to get a perspective other than his,” she said.

Amnesty International finds bias against European Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Anti-Muslim banners protesting against the establishment of a Muslim prayer room, in Catalonia, Spain

Anti-Muslim banners protesting against the establishment of a Muslim prayer room, in Catalonia, Spain

(h/t: mjasghar)

Amnesty International finds bias against European Muslims

(BBC via. Islamophobia Today)

European governments must do more to challenge the negative stereotypes and prejudices against Muslims fuelling discrimination especially in education and employment, a new report by Amnesty International reveals today.

“Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress, such as the headscarf. Men can be dismissed for wearing beards associated with Islam,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination.

“Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes.”

The report Choice and prejudice: discrimination against Muslims in Europe, exposes the impact of discrimination on the ground of religion or belief on Muslims in several aspects of their lives, including employment and education.

It focuses on Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland where Amnesty International has already raised issues such as restrictions on the establishment of places of worship and prohibitions on full-face veils. The report documents numerous individual cases of discrimination across the countries covered.

“Wearing religious and cultural symbols and dress is part of the right of freedom of expression. It is part of the right to freedom of religion or belief – and these rights must be enjoyed by all faiths equally.” said Marco Perolini.

“While everyone has the right to express their cultural, traditional or religious background by wearing a specific form of dress no one should be pressurized or coerced to do so.  General bans on particular forms of dress that violate the rights of those freely choosing to dress in a particular way are not the way to do this.”

The report highlights that legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment has not been appropriately implemented in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Employers have been allowed to discriminate on the grounds that religious or cultural symbols will jar with clients or colleagues or that a clash exists with a company’s corporate image or its ‘neutrality’.

This is in direct conflict with European Union (EU) anti-discrimination legislation which allows variations of treatment in employment only if specifically required by the nature of the occupation.

“EU legislation prohibiting discrimination on the ground of religion or belief in the area of employment seems to be toothless across Europe, as we observe a higher rate of unemployment among Muslims, and especially Muslim women of foreign origin,” said Marco Perolini.

In the last decade, pupils have been forbidden to wear the headscarf or other religious and traditional dress at school in many countries including Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

“Any restriction on the wearing of religious and cultural symbols and dress in schools must be based on assessment of the needs in each individual case. General bans risk adversely Muslims girls’ access to education and violating their rights to freedom of expression and to manifest their beliefs.” Marco Perolini said.

The right to establish places of worship is a key component of the right to freedom of religion or belief which is being restricted in some European countries, despite state obligations to protect, respect and fulfil this right.

Since 2010, the Swiss Constitution has specifically targeted Muslims with the prohibition of the construction of minarets, embedding anti-Islam stereotypes and violating international obligations that Switzerland is bound to respect.

In Catalonia (Spain), Muslims have to pray in outdoor spaces because existing prayer rooms are too small to accommodate all the worshippers and requests to build mosques are being disputed as incompatible with the respect of Catalan traditions and culture. This goes against freedom of religion which includes the right to worship collectively in adequate places.

“There is a groundswell of opinion in many European countries that Islam is alright and Muslims are ok so long as they are not too visible. This attitude is generating human rights violations and needs to be challenged,” said Marco Perolini.

Former SNL Star, Victoria Jackson, Questions Murfreesboro Mosque

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by loonwatch

Vistoria Jackson, best known as a cast member on SNL.

Victoria Jackson

I hope she’s trying to outdo Andy Kaufmann. This is not the first time Jackson spewed her anti-Muslim views.

Former SNL Star Questions Murfreesboro Mosque


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – She’s best known for her satirical comedy on Saturday Night Live. Twenty years after leaving the hit show, Victoria Jackson is back in the spotlight, but this time it’s for her political views.

She’s now a controversial conservative commentator and she’s in Middle Tennessee taking a critical look at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

Victoria Jackson is best known for her dim-witted characters on Saturday Night live which brought her a lot of laughs, and fame. She now works as a citizen journalist.

“I’m trying to use my fading SNL fame to shine a light on the topic that nobody in the media will talk about,” said Jackson.

That topic is Islam. Jackson came to Middle Tennessee to produce a story on the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro and its new mosque now under construction. The comic-turned- conservative political activist doesn’t mince words about why she thinks this building is rising in the middle of rural Tennessee.

“This is the Bible Belt, and Murfreesboro is the buckle on the bible belt. And it’s a college town. So my feeling is they came here to convert people to Islam,” said Jackson.

Jackson brought her camera to the current Islamic Center offices in Murfreesboro — but no one was available for an interview. No luck either at the construction site just outside town.

Jackson did recently interview Congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik for her story. Zelenik has been an outspoken opponent of the mosque. Jackson claims there’s a fatwa , or Islamic decree ,calling for her death because of her criticisms.

“I tolerate all religions. Except the ones that want to kill me,” said Jackson

Jackson plans to post her story on the conservative web site Patriot Update. 

Anders Behring Breivik, Norway Mass Killer, Claims ‘Self Defense’ As Trial Begins

Posted in Loon People, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Anders Breivik wiped tears away as his video was shown to the court

Anders Breivik wiped tears away as his video was shown to the court

One might think that these are tears of remorse, but rather these tears are from watching his own propaganda video in court.

Anders Behring Breivik, Norway Mass Killer, Claims ‘Self Defense’ As Trial Begins

OSLO, Norway — With a defiant closed-fist salute, a right-wing fanatic admitted Monday to a bomb-and-shooting massacre that killed 77 people in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying he was acting in self-defense.

On the first day of his long-awaited trial, Anders Behring Breivik rejected the authority of the court as it sought to assign responsibility for the July 22 attacks that shocked Norway and jolted the image of terrorism in Europe.

Dressed in a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Breivik smiled as a guard removed his handcuffs in the crowded court room. The 33-year-old then flashed his salute before shaking hands with prosecutors and court officials.

“I don’t recognize Norwegian courts because you get your mandate from the Norwegian political parties who support multiculturalism,” Breivik said in his first comments to the court.

Eight people were killed in Breivik’s bombing of Oslo’s government district and 69 were slain in his shooting massacre at the left-leaning Labor Party’s youth camp on Utoya island outside the capital. Breivik has said the attacks were necessary to protect Norway from being taken over by Muslims.

“I admit to the acts, but not criminal guilt,” he told the court, insisting he had acted in self-defense.

The key issue to be resolved during the 10-week trial is the state of Breivik’s mental health, which will decide whether he is sent to prison or into psychiatric care. Anxious to prove he is not insane, Breivik will call right-wing extremists and radical Islamists to testify during the trial, to show that others also share his view of clashing civilizations.

Norway’s NRK television was broadcasting parts of the trial live but was not allowed to show Breivik’s testimony.

During Monday’s opening session, he remained stone-faced and motionless as prosecutors read the indictment on the terror and murder charges, with descriptions of how each victim died, and when they explained how he prepared for the attacks.

But Breivik suddenly became emotional when prosecutors showed an anti-Muslim video that he had posted on YouTube before the killing spree, wiping away tears on his cheek with trembling hands.

After a lunch break, Breivik was again expressionless as he watched prosecutors present surveillance footage of the Oslo explosion. The blast ripped through the high-rise building that housed government headquarters, blowing out windows and filling surrounding streets with smoke and debris.

He didn’t flinch as prosecutors played a three-minute recording of a young woman’s frantic phone call to police from Utoya.

“Shots have been fired,” Renate Taarnes, 22, said with panic in her voice. “I’m pretty sure that there are many injured.”

More than a dozen shots in close succession could be heard as Taarnes fell silent.

“Are you still there?” the police officer asked.

“Yes,” she whispered. She fell silent again, breathing into the phone as more shots cracked in the background.

Taarnes escaped the massacre unharmed and is scheduled to testify later in the trial.

Breivik also announced he doesn’t recognize the authority of Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen, because he said she is friends with the sister of former Norwegian Prime Minister and Labor Party leader Gro Harlem Brundtland.

The anti-Muslim militant described himself as a writer, currently working from prison, when asked by the judge for his employment status.

He claims he targeted the government headquarters in Oslo and the youth camp to strike against the left-leaning political forces he blames for allowing immigration in Norway.

If deemed mentally competent, Breivik would face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years or an alternate custody arrangement under which the sentence is prolonged for as long as an inmate is deemed a danger to society.

Breivik wants to be judged as a sane person and will call radical Islamists, and extremists on the right and left to testify to support “his perception that there is a war going on in Europe,” his defense lawyer, Geir Lippestad, told the court. Lippestad said Breivik wants to read a new document he’s written at the start of his testimony on Tuesday.

While Norway has a legal principle of preventive self-defense, that doesn’t apply to Breivik’s case, said Jarl Borgvin Doerre, a legal expert who has written a book on the concept. “It is obvious that it has nothing to do with preventive self-defense,” Doerre told The Associated Press.

Police sealed off the streets around the Oslo court building, where journalists, survivors and relatives of victims watched the proceedings Monday in a 200-seat courtroom built specifically for this trial.

Thick glass partitions were put up to separate the defendant from victims and their families, many of whom are worried that Breivik will use the trial to promote his extremist political ideology. In a manifesto he published online before the attacks, Breivik wrote that “patriotic resistance fighters” should use trials “as a platform to further our cause.”

After he surrendered, Breivik had told investigators he is a resistance fighter in a far-right militant group modeled after the Knights Templar – a Western Christian order that fought during the crusades. Police, however, have found no trace of any organization and say he acted alone.

“In our opinion, such a network does not exist,” prosecutor Svein Holden told the court on Monday.

In his manifesto, Breivik described the supposed group’s initiation rites, oaths and the “clenched fist salute” that he used in court, symbolizing “strength, honor and defiance against the Marxist tyrants of Europe.”

After blowing up parts of the government building and shooting dozens to death on Utoya island, Breivik surrendered to police 1 hour and 20 minutes after he arrived on Utoya. The police response to his terror spree was slowed by a series of mishaps, including the lack of an operating police helicopter and the breakdown of an overloaded boat carrying a commando team to the island.

Breivik called police twice, saying he wanted to turn himself in. In one of the calls, played in court Monday, he identified himself as a commander of “the Norwegian resistance movement” and said he had “just completed an operation on behalf of Knights Templar.”

When the operator asked him to repeat himself, Breivik sounded irritated and hung up.

___

Associated Press writers Bjoern H. Amland and Julia Gronnevet contributed to this report.

Sacramento Muslims Open Mosque to Easter Service

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.  Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/08/4399608/easter-sunday-at-salam-mosque.html?mi_rss=Photo%20Galleries#storylink=cpy

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.

Sacramento Muslims open mosque to Easter service

http://bcove.me/7blioua1
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento congregation was facing an Easter without a home this year until the most unlikely of locations opened their doors and welcomed them inside.

The Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento lost the lease to their church a month prior to their biggest service of the year, but Reverend Michael Moran said a dream offered hope in the face of despair.

“We were desperately looking for a place to hold our Easter services. I had a dream and in the dream I saw a newspaper headline that read, ‘Easter at the Mosque’,” reveals Moran. “But when I awoke, I said that will never happen.”

But in an act of compassion and generosity, the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) turned Moran’s dream into reality.

Ifran Itaq of SALAM said the decision to allow Moran’s congregation to celebrate their faith at the mosque was simple.

“For us, mosques, churches, synagogues are places where God’s name is mentioned and they are holy places, and this is the sharing of those faiths in one of those institutions.”

Beyond the surface-level expression of hospitality and good will, Moran believes the interfaith congregation on Easter Sunday holds much greater significance.

“Our mission from the very beginning was to bring the different faith traditions together in cooperative efforts,” Moran explains. “I love what the Dalai Lama said, he said, “Until there’s peace among the world’s religions, there will never be peace on earth. I think this is one of those steps towards peace.”

News10/KXTV

—————————————————————————————————–

At great personal risk, John Oliver witnesses Muslims praying in a church’s all-purpose room.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-may-5-2011/big-mohammed-s-house

SpencerWatch: Bank Robbing: Hard to Kick the “Habit”

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Bank Robbing: Hard to Kick the “Habit”

Robert Spencer writes in a blog titled, “Philadelphia: Police hunt niqab-wearing bank robbers”:

Here is still more reason why Western countries should take off the multiculturalist straitjacket and ban the burqa and niqab.

Spencer is unable to make legitimate criticisms about Islam or Muslims because underlying all of his half-baked arguments is a weak, fact-less, and hate-mongering core.

In this instance, in order for Spencer to attempt to make his point he succumbs to a baseless ridicule-centered argument by calling the niqab and/or burqa a “multiculturalist straightjacket”.

If one were to go along with Spencer’s logic of why the burqa and niqab should be banned, then he would paradoxically also be an advocate for banning the “habit,” i.e. the traditional catholic garb for nuns.

Just as the burqa/niqab has been used by criminals during bank robberies so has the habit:

The two suspects were both dressed in black sweat pants and sweatshirts and wore nuns’ habits and identical ghoulish rubber masks, with small slits for eyes.

No one calls for the banning of the habit. No one ridicules that religious garb as a symbol of oppression because that would be illogical.

Of course, when Spencer wants to make an anti-Islam/Muslim point he won’t allow common sense or logic to get in the way. This is just another instance of silly Spencer.

Tolerance of Whom?

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, where Israel has approved the start of work on a controversial Museum of Tolerance, Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, where Israel has approved the start of work on a controversial Museum of Tolerance, Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

(h/t BA)

Tolerance of Whom?

by 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is planning to build a Museum of Tolerance on the Muslim Mamilla cemetery. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium.

For over six centuries, many of my ancestors have been buried in an historic cemetery that holds the remains of some of the most prominent public figures and military leaders ever to live inside the Holy City of Jerusalem.  The Mamilla cemetery is said to contain the remains of Muslims who walked alongside the Prophet Muhammad, fought in the Crusades, and influenced the city over many centuries.  It is one of the most important remaining Muslim heritage sites in the Holy Land.

In recent years, however, I and surviving members of many of Jerusalem’s oldest families have witnessed the desecration of the cemetery. The efforts of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center to build a “Museum of Tolerance” on the site have already tarnished the cemetery and damaged its integrity.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been disinterred and carted off for disposal in unmarked mass graves in unknown locations, or worse. The Jerusalem municipality has enabled this effort with the approval of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. This project is a grotesque attempt to erase the well-established history of a continuous Muslim presence in the city that dates back over a millennium.

Last month, new images surfaced that confirm excavations in the ancient Cemetery continue in secret, proving false the repeated claims of the Wiesenthal Center that there would be no further digging on the historic site. Footage made public by the Center for Constitutional Rights shows new power equipment and electrical supply within a fenced-off and covered pit, that borders an as-yet undisturbed portion of the cemetery.  As an American from New York who can trace the burial of my own ancestors at Mamilla back to the 14th century, I can only hope that the news of likely additions to the hundreds of remains already wrongfully disposed of increases the urgent calls to stop this abuse of the dead before the site is entirely desecrated.

Since the plans to construct the Museum of Tolerance on Mamilla Cemetery began in 2004, nearly 60 other descendants of those buried at the cemetery and I have made repeated appeals to try and stop the disinterring and destruction of the remains of our ancestors.  We have appealed directly to the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, to the Jerusalem Municipality, and to the UN. We have received the support of over 80 prominent archaeologists from Israel and around the world, who have petitioned for the preservation of the site, while others have filed legal appeals in Israeli courts.

Israeli courts have not provided a remedy, and our suggestions of compromise, including relocating the Museum to a new location—a move that would showcase genuine tolerance—have been met with silence.  Meanwhile, the Wiesenthal Center has skirted responsibility, initially disavowing knowledge of the graves, and now clinging to a flimsy defense that the sanctity of the site has long since diminished.

To show that these claims are patently false, one need only look to the Israeli Religious Affairs Ministry’s 1948 declaration of Mamilla  as “one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where seventy thousand Muslim warriors of [Saladin’s] armies are interred along with many Muslim scholars… Israel will always know to protect and respect this site.”  As recently as 1986, in response to a UNESCO investigation regarding Israel’s development projects on the site, the Israeli government stated that “no project exists for the deconsecration of the site… the site and its tombs are to be safeguarded.”

There is no justification for these desecrations. If they were occurring in any other place on earth, the outcry would be deafening.  Unfortunately, the treatment of Mamilla is not an anomaly; Muslim and Christian sites of cultural, religious and historical significance continue to be systematically disrespected by Israeli authorities.  The Protection of Holy Sites Law in Israel now covers 137 sites.  Not one of these is Christian or Muslim.

At a time when Americans are engaged in a national dialogue about division along racial and cultural lines, a time when discrimination and the marginalization of minorities are subjects of public protest, it is disheartening to see  some individuals and institutions exporting and abetting division elsewhere.  The Wiesenthal Center’s mission statement says its goal is to promote human rights and dignity.  People of conscience everywhere must press the respected and influential Rabbi Hier, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center to adhere to those goals, and to allow the thousands still buried at Mamilla cemetery to rest in peace.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and a former advisor to Palestinian negotiators. Khalidi is the author numerous books, including Palestinian Identity and The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood. He currently serves as the editor of theJournal of Palestine Studies.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at editorial@thedailybeast.com.

Allen West Believes Over 40% of House Democrats are Communists

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Allen West not only believes that there is a stealth movement among Muslim Americans, but is convinced that there are 80 house Democrats that are alleged communists.

Allen West: I’ve ‘Heard’ 80 House Democrats Are Communist Party Members (VIDEO)

 WASHINGTON — As many as 80 House Democrats are communists, according to Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).

West warned constituents at a Tuesday town hall event that he’s “heard” that dozens of his Democratic colleagues in the House are members of the Communist Party, thePalm Beach Post reported. West wouldn’t elaborate beyond that, however, and didn’t offer up any names. There are currently 190 House Democrats.

A request for comment from West’s spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

During the same event, which took place at Jensen Beach, the freshman Republican said President Barack Obama wouldn’t have a public debate with him over their policy differences because he was “scared.” The president was in Florida on Tuesday giving remarks about the economy and holding campaign events.

“I really wish that, standing here before you, was Allen West and President Obama,” West said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We could have a simple discussion. But that ain’t ever gonna happen.”

When an audience member asked why, West said in “a mocking voice” that it was because Obama “was too scared.”

WATCH West’s comments in the video above.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that West made the remarks at Florida Atlantic University. He made the statement at Jensen Beach.

http://embed.5min.com/517267798/
Allen West Speaks at CPAC

23 Convicted for Deadly 2002 Anti-Muslim Violence in India’s Gujarat

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by loonwatch

People charged in connection of setting a building on fire weep inside a police vehicle as they are taken to a prison after their hearing in a court at Mehsana, about 60 km (37 miles) north from the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. (File Photo - November 9, 2011)

People charged in connection of setting a building on fire weep inside a police vehicle as they are taken to a prison after their hearing in a court at Mehsana, about 60 km (37 miles) north from the western Indian city of Ahmedabad. (File Photo – November 9, 2011)

23 Convicted for Deadly 2002 Anti-Muslim Violence in India’s Gujarat

In India, a court has convicted 23 people in connection with the killing of 23 Muslims during deadly religious riots that swept through Gujarat state in 2002. The massacre was investigated by a special team after allegations that the probe by state police was not impartial.

A special court Monday found the 23 people guilty of setting fire to a house in Gujarat’s Ode village where a group of Muslims had taken shelter to protect themselves from rioting mobs.

Twenty-three others were acquitted for lack of evidence. Most of those who stood trial are Hindus.

The massacre took place a decade ago, when towns and villages in Gujarat were convulsed with riots that targeted Muslims homes and neighborhoods. The violence erupted after a train fire, blamed on Muslims, killed 60 Hindu pilgrims and prompted retaliation by Hindu mobs.
The prosecutor, P.N. Parmar, called it a historic judgment in the mass killings in Ode village.

“Nine children, nine women and five men burnt alive in this heinous crime,” he said.

The sentences will be announced later. Defense lawyers say they will appeal the verdict.
The massacre in Ode village is one of nine incidents into which the Supreme Court has ordered a special investigation, following allegations that the Gujarat police were not impartial in their probe into the deadly riots. About 1,000 Muslims died in the violence.
This is the third judgment to be handed down in connection with the riots. In two separate judgments last year, 31 people were sentenced for burning 39 Muslims to death, while 31 Muslims were found guilty for setting fire to the train that killed the Hindu pilgrims.

Gujarat is ruled by the Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. The state’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, has often been accused of not doing enough to stop the riots or bring the perpetrators to justice.

After Monday’s verdict, senior BJP leader Balbir Punj said justice has been handed to the riot victims.

“It is a victory for the people of Gujarat and it is a slap on the face of those people that [say] justice cannot be done in Gujarat,” said Punj.

Although the 2002 violence tarnished Narendra Modi’s image, the controversial leader remains one of BJP’s top leaders. He has won state elections in Gujarat twice since the riots and hopes to play a larger role in national politics.

Why Islamophobia Must Fail – The Case of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Why Islamophobia Must Fail – The Case of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

by Rabia Chaudry, Huffington Post

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the latest victim of an intricate web of half-truths and outright lies woven for political profit and as part of a broad, well funded, Islamophobia network. The Congresswoman was slated to be the keynote speaker at an April 21 event for the group EMERGE USA, but backed off after a scathing blog post by Joe Kaufman, who happens to be running for a Congressional seat for Florida’s District 20.

EMERGE USA is a non-profit committed to empowering minorities through increased civic engagement and education about the political process. The organization has strong roots in the community and has been publicly supported by one of Florida’s senior statesmen, former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, an expert on terrorism and intelligence. However, the fact that EMERGE USA was founded and is run by Muslims seems to be the proverbial bee in Kaufman’s bonnet. Ultimately, Kaufman’s Glen Beck-esque acrobatics in trying to link EMERGE USA board members and staff to “questionable” organizations and associations can be easily dismissed because of factual errors and deliberate obfuscation.

The truly insidious aspect of this entire incident, however, is that it can be linked to a multi-pronged attack on Muslims nationwide through the creation of an Islamophobia network with deep pockets and an agenda to marginalize American Muslims at every turn. The Center for American Progress’s 2011 report “Fear, Inc.” thoroughly documents this network’s funding, messengers and reach. Its efforts have manifested in anti-sharia legislation in dozens of states, bigoted trainings for law enforcement and intelligence communities, the character assassination of mainstream national Muslim organizations and even promotion of the idea that President Obama is a Muslim.

The nightmarish narrative disseminated by the numerous think tanks, pundits and self-appointed “experts” on Islam and terrorism has not only successfully influenced the American discourse on Islam and Muslims, but has had significant political impact. The Islamophobia network focuses much of its time and energy on influencing and supporting politicians who promulgate its world view. It provides politicians with talking points, platforms and agenda items to keep the suspicion and fear of Islam and Muslims in the news. Examples of such politicians cited by the “Fear, Inc.” report include the following:

  • Rep. Peter King: held numerous hearings on Islamic radicalization
  • Rep. Sue Myrick: called for congressional inquiry on the CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, held hearings on influence of Muslim Brotherhood, leading Congressional fearmonger against Muslims
  • Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. John Shadegg and Rep. Paul Broun: supporters of the CAIR congressional investigation
  • Rep. Allen West: declared Islam as the enemy, claimed it is not a religion and held a briefing called “Homegrown Jihad in the USA”
  • Rep. Renee Ellmers: made the Park51 into an issue, calling it a ground zero victory mosque
  • Rep. Michelle Bachman: frequently raises concerns over homegrown Islamic threat and engages in anti-sharia rhetoric

While the influence of the Islamophobia network on right-wing politicians is more visible, the pressure it exerts on progressives is more troubling. Left-leaning politicians are also vulnerable to manipulation, as can be seen in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s case. The Congresswoman is not the first Democrat to distance herself from a Muslim organization after being attacked by Islamophobes. To American Muslims who are mostly progressive in their politics, abandonment by Democratic politicians feels like betrayal.

The politicians who continue to be used to spread or confirm the network’s ugly narrative must realize something very important: while winning small battles, they are losing the war. History has proven that bigots, racists, xenophobes, anti-Semites and other variations on the same brand of fear and suspicion have never succeeded — socially or politically. Even genocide, the extreme expression of bigotry, has left nothing but failed ideology in its wake.

A simple understanding of the human psyche tells us that people tire of living in fear, worn out from perpetually being “anti-other.” Over time, we make up and move on. The battle of the Islamophobes will also eventually be lost because American Muslims and their allies will continue to push back against false narratives. The lifespan of Islamophobia in the United States will undoubtedly end up a sad blight on our history like other failed “anti” movements — but politicians, both Republican and Democrat, should ask themselves on what side of history they wish to be.

Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, President of the Safe Nation Collaborative, and an Associate Fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Corsica: Racist Arson Attack on Muslim Prayer Room

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Corsica: Racist Arson Attack on Muslim Prayer Room 

France’s interior ministry says an arsonist has partially destroyed a Muslim prayer room in the Mediterranean island of Corsica’s capital city.

A ministry statement said racist inscriptions were found Monday on the front of the building housing the prayer room in Ajaccio after it was damaged in the early morning fire.

French Muslim leaders have voiced fear of renewed stigmatization following March attacks that killed seven people in southern France that were attributed to an Islamist who claimed al-Qaida links. Mohamed Merah was shot dead by police.

Rivals of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in presidential elections starting April 22 claim a recent sweep of terror suspects is an electoral ploy.

AFP, 9 April 2012

Berlin’s Largest Mosque Targeted in Hate Crime Attack

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2012 by loonwatch

Berlin’s largest mosque targeted in hate crime attack

Berlin’s largest mosque has been targeted in an Islamophobic attack in the German capital’s predominantly migrant district of Neukölln.

Unknown assailants threw several paint bombs at the Sehitlik mosque Saturday night. They also placed an insulting anti-Islam picture at the entrance to the building.

Berlin police said that a threatening letter had been sent to the mosque recently.

The Sehitlik mosque has been the target of four arson attacks over the past three years. Berlin mosques have been the scene of at least seven fire bombings since June 2010.

German Muslim leaders have time and again called for stepped up security measures for the country’s mosques and Islamic centers.

They also accuse the center-right government of Chancellor Angela Merkel of trying to downplay the danger of anti-Muslim crimes caused by the wave of Islamophobia in Germany.

Press TV, 9 April 2012

Further Attack on Llanelli mosque

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Further attack on Llanelli mosque

Last September the mosque in the Welsh town of Llanelli was attacked. Thugs racially abused a group of elderly women who were entering the mosque and kicked the door in. As a result, extra CCTV cameras were installed.

We are told that there was a second attack on the mosque in February, when the windows were smashed while someone was praying inside. As you can see from the photo, the building has now been fitted with a window grille in addition to the existing steel gate in front of the door (cf. earlier photo here).

The Llanelli Star did, rather belatedly, get round to covering the September attack, but the February incident was apparently not considered important enough to merit a report in the local press.

The EMRC study Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies found that Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of violence and intimidation in UK market towns and suburbs than in big cities. See also the Al Jazeera report here.

Nonie Darwish on C-Span: Spreads Anti-Muslim Hate at Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Nonie giving a passionate anti-Muslim lecture

Nonie Loonie Darwish‘s new book, “The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East” pretends to provide insight on the Arab Spring. For Darwish, this is just another ample opportunity to spew her well-worn (phony) tale of woe and Islamophobic diatribe.

Surprisingly C-Span allowed itself to be used as a platform for this hatred, featuring her over one and a half-hour speech rant at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute (a Conservative group, amongst who’s goal is to produce more “Sarah Palin’s.”)

Here are some of the choice quotes that I caught in just the last 20 minutes (if anyone has the stomach to listen to the rest of it and provide us quotes we’ll be happy to add it):

  • When asked about Obama’s relationship with the Muslim world her response was as the following. ”From his [Barack Obama] books and from what he says, he doesn’t unfortunately. He has a lot of sympathy towards Islam and a lot of closing the eyes like apologizing a lot for things that we should be apologized for.”
  • “Where are the Muslim leaders who will stand up and say ‘We apologize for 9-11?”
  • “All the ills of Muslim society go back to Sharia.”
  • She repeatedly says “Islam has already been interpreted.”
  • “In America, we have a growing population of Muslims who are now, many of their leadership is calling for sharia. The application of Sharia.”
  • “The ultimate goal of being a Muslim is living under an Islamic state.”
  • “Our college campus is becoming like the West Bank and Gaza. They are not allowing the freedom of speech of people like me.”
  • “Another generation of America who have been brought up with a lot of guilt about their country, have been brought up with  an educational system that told them that there bad, you’ve hurt the world. Islam is a religion of peace. Christianity is bad. Your constitution should be changed. American constitution is no longer, it’s an old document. “
  • “In fifty years, we can have a Chechnya in America, which means, we can have a population, a majority population of Muslims in a certain state or certain area and they might say they want to live under sharia.”
  • “We want to call our state, Islamist Republic of Michigan.”
  • “There is no feminist movement in the Middle East, in the Muslim world.”
  • “Women who call themselves Muslims are not standing up.”

At the core of Darwish’s rhetoric is that Muslims are taking over America. She full-heartedly claims that there is a systematic way in which Muslims are working to achieve the dissolution of the USA. First, they act passive, and then they demand rights. Once we succumb to the evil Mooslims’ demands, they will rise to power and implement Sharia and have states that will be called…“Islamist Republic of Michigan.” Darwish’s loony conspiracy that Muslims want to secede from the states and over throw the constitution is an insult to intelligent Americans.

She forgets that we live in a country that is supposed to protect the rights of all citizens. In reality, what Americans are, and need to be skeptical about are individuals like Darwish who write books and speak on Conservative platforms for the twin goals of: self-enrichment and driving fear of the other.

This type of Islamophobic rhetoric hearkens to the anti-Semitic rhetoric of old: They control the media. They control the banks. etc… Such  conspiratorial language is non-nonsensical, illogical and unproductive toward making this country one that we can be proud of.

For anyone that is interested in watching the video, you can do so here: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Nonie

For more on Darwish see our previous articles: Nonie Darwish Caught in a Pool of Lies and Nonie Darwish: “Because Islam should be feared, and should be fought, and should be conquered, and defeated, and annihilated, and it’s going to happen.”

Did a Spanish Nun Steal Thousands of Newborns?

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2012 by loonwatch

Thousands of Spanish mothers have similar stories of stolen children. (AFP/Getty Images) (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands of Spanish mothers have similar stories of stolen children. (AFP/Getty Images) (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Where is the outrage and outcry from the hate peddlers?

Thousands of newborns have allegedly been stolen from their parents by Sister Maria Gómez Valbuena, obstensibly for good, wholesome “Christian” motivations, making a pretty penny in the process.

Please see today’s article, as well: Islamophobia and Adoption.

Did a Spanish nun steal thousands of newborns?

BARCELONA, Spain — “Where is my baby?” Luisa Torres wondered after waking up from general anesthesia on March 31, 1982.

“Your baby is dead,” Sister Maria Gómez Valbuena told her as she lay in bed at the Santa Cristina Maternity Hospital in Madrid. “You gave birth to nothing,” the nun said.

It was a lie, with consequences that would span almost three decades.

Torres alleges that her daughter was stolen at birth by a mafia of nuns, doctors and other officials who sold children for profit.

Thousands of Spanish mothers recount similar stories. Enrique Vila, a Barcelona lawyer who specializes in adoptions, estimates there might be as many as 300,000 cases, about 15 percent of total adoptions that took place in Spain between 1960 and 1989.

Since GlobalPost first wrote about the spate of stolen babies last year, the number of cases being handled by Spanish prosecutors has jumped from 900 to 1,500.

A trickle of complaints began decades ago, but turned into a flood two years ago. But the nun, now in her 80s and known as Sister Maria, is the first to be indicted in the scandal since complaints began to pour in two years ago. Her trial begins today, April 3.

About one-quarter of the cases have been dismissed due to a lack of documents or other evidence, which is often hard to provide when decades-old birth certificates have been forged, or when the parents and children haven’t yet found each other.

Torres and her daughter are just one of a dozen who have, and it is their reunion that has led to the first indictment.

‘Like a horror film’

Like hundreds of mothers who believe their babies had been stolen at Santa Cristina Maternity Hospital, Torres met Sister Maria, a social worker, in her fifth month of pregnancy after seeing an ad in a magazine offering help for expectant mothers in need.

“It said she had access to nurseries and foster homes, and that she would take care of the children until we had enough resources to take care of them by ourselves,” Torres recalled. “I went to see her with my mom and she was very nice — we didn’t suspect anything.” She said she was given a “special card” to show at the hospital when going into labor.

But it became “like a horror film,” she added.

After first saying that the baby girl was dead, Sister Maria changed her story, Torres said. The nun admitted that the child was alive, and told the 24-year-old woman that she would give the child up for adoption to a French family. She implied that Torres, who had given birth out of wedlock, would be an unfit mother.

And she told Torres, who wanted to name her child Sheila, that such a name was not “Christian,” and that the baby girl would be called Maria, “after herself.”

Torres said she became increasingly hysterical, and began cursing at the nun. She climbed from her bed and stumbled to the neo-natal unit. There, one girl lay in an incubator with a name tag on her crib: Maria.

“You saw nothing,” the nun told her. Sister Maria dragged Torres back to her room and threw her onto her bed, Torres said. “I will report you to the authorities as an adulteress and you will go to jail. Then I will also take away your 2-year-old daughter,” said Sister Maria, according to Torres.

Torres says she was terrified. Inés, her first child, was the result of a failed marriage. Separated from her husband, she started a new relationship, but that man left her once she became pregnant. In a country that was still waking up from a 40-year dictatorship and was extremely socially conservative, Torres didn’t know that anti-adultery laws had already been repealed in 1978.

Her new child had been born slightly premature, at eight months, and had some health problems. The infant was taken to another floor to receive special care, and Torres wasn’t allowed to visit her because she had never been officially identified as the child’s mother. She lost track of her baby, and was too afraid to approach Sister Maria again.

A devastated Torres left the hospital nine days later “with empty arms,” and the pacifier and baby blanket she had bought for her baby Sheila. She kept them for almost three decades, never losing hope that she could one day give them to her.

Obsessed for three decades

Months before Torres’ daughter was born, Alejandro Alcalde and his wife learned they could not have children and began considering adoption. But the adoption process was difficult. They had almost lost hope until they were told by Madrid’s regional council, which handled adoptions, to contact a woman named Sister Maria.

The adoptive parents paid 200,000 pesetas for Maria Pilar — the equivalent of about $6,600 today. The nun told them it was for hospital costs and for the mother to stay at a home after the birth. They arranged everything at a public hospital, which was why Alejandro Alcalde says they were never suspicious.

Maria Pilar Alcalde, now 30, recounts how she had looked for her biological mother since she was 15 years old, when her adoptive parents divorced.

“I spent nights crying, looking at my adoption documents over and over, trying to see a way to find my mother,” said Maria Pilar, who says she had a very “lonely childhood.” She described her adoptive mother as “a very dry woman” and said that her adoptive relatives never made her part of the family.

“I always missed that love in families,” she said. “When I was a teenager, I used to wonder: ‘How will my real family be?’”

After her parents’ divorce, Maria Pilar lived with her adoptive father, who helped her hunt for her mother. He spent a fortune on detectives and lawyers. Seven years ago, they appeared together on El Diario TV talk show, where they told Maria Pilar’s story. But it resulted in no leads.

“If my father thought he had been involved in anything illegal, he would have never helped so much in my search,” Maria Pilar said. Her adoptive mother, with whom she has a distant relationship, never liked the fact that Maria Pilar wanted to look for her biological parents.

At the beginning of their search, Maria Pilar and her father even went to see Sister Maria, who had kept in touch with the adoptive parents over the years. “I swore to God in front of your mother that I would never reveal her identity,” she told Maria Pilar. “She was probably a drug addict or a prostitute, it would only hurt you to find her.”

Ten miles away, Torres mourned her little girl.

“I was obsessed for 30 years…I used to stare at babies on the street when [my daughter] would still have been a baby, at young couples when she was still a teenager…sadness was always with me, especially on her birthdays,” Torres recalls, shaken at the memories.

Afraid that her other daughter would be taken away from her, Torres didn’t do much for years. She also didn’t know where to begin looking. According to Spanish privacy laws, parents who give their children up for adoption don’t have the right to get information about their whereabouts or new identities.

A year-and-a-half ago, when other “stolen babies” cases started appearing in the media, Torres says her determination to find her missing child was renewed. Her oldest daughter, Inés, eventually told the story to Spanish daily El Mundo.

Soon after the story appeared, a journalist at Antena 3 recalled the appearance of Alejandro and Maria Pilar on El Diario show seven years before, and realized that Maria Pilar and Torres’ stories matched. She dug into the matter. Eventually, she managed to contact both parties.

An “unbelievable” moment

On June 30, 2011, Torres, 54, and Maria Pilar, were brought on El Diario TV show after having had their DNA tested. They had been at the studio the entire day prior to the appearance, being interviewed separately, never crossing paths. They sat tense on the set until the TV host read out the result of their DNA test results on air: It was a match.

As they threw themselves at each other, Torres repeatedly murmured through tears, “I love you, forgive me.” Her daughter, sobbing, replied: “I have nothing to forgive.”

Many months later, they recall that pivotal moment as if it were yesterday.

“I almost fainted, my legs buckled. …It was a very beautiful and happy day, but too intense,” Torres said.

“I just threw myself in her arms,” said Maria Pilar. “I still cannot believe it.”

Still, settling into the reunion has taken time.

“I look at my mother and at the physical warmth she has with my sisters, and I wish it could be the same [closeness and naturalness] with me,” said Maria Pilar, who says it is still “strange” for them to be around each other.

Even so, she says she now has a “mom,” two “wonderful” half-sisters, two nephews and “a loving grandmother” she is getting to know and love.

Day of reckoning

Hundreds of women have named Sister Maria as the woman involved in the theft of their babies. The nun dealt with about 3,000 adoptions per year between 1967 and 1983, says Guillermo Peñas, the lawyer who represents Torres and Maria Pilar as well as 50 other families as plaintiffs.

Her name was first linked to the theft of babies in 1982, when investigative magazine Interviú uncovered several cases at another clinic in Madrid where Sister Maria used to work. Authorities closed the clinic down, but no one was prosecuted then.

The reunion of Torres and Maria Pilar offers the first mother-and-child pair who can accuse an alleged abductor, and have made it possible to indict the nun. She is currently charged with illegal detention, fraudulently faking another’s pregnancy, forgery of public and private documents, threatening behavior and coercion, according to Peñas.

So far, Sister Maria hasn’t responded to the prosecutor’s charges in court. GlobalPost’s attempts to reach Sister Maria for a comment were unsuccessful.
The public prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the case.

Torres and Maria Pilar will first appear in front of the judge on April 3.

“This is a very important step because it [is taking on the Church] – [Sister Maria] represents the Church, and that is sacred in Spain,” said Flor Diaz, one of the representatives of SOS Stolen Babies, a support organization that Torres also belongs to.

Both Maria Pilar and Torres say that no matter what happens in the courts, they will never be able to recover the 30 years they lost. “I want that nun to pay for all the pain she has caused,” said Torres.

But at her age, it is unlikely that Sister Maria will end up behind bars.

“There have to be many more people involved,” said Peñas. “It is a matter of common sense to realize that a social worker does not have enough legal authority to do whatever she wants — she had superiors and the hospital director had to authorize the adoptions in the end.”

“But Sister Maria is the only thread we have to untangle the tangled web,” he added.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s newly installed minister of justice, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, said last week that resolving these cases “will be a priority” for his department, although advocates in the case are skeptical.

“For the government, this is like holding a screaming child,” said Peñas. “If it is held that civil authorities were in the end responsible, the state will have to compensate [thousands of families], and these are not the best times for that.”

But most of these mothers and their children, like Maria Pilar and Torres, say they don’t want any money, just to find their loved ones and recover the lost time.

As they work on that, Maria Pilar keeps the still-new pacifier and the baby blanket on her bed. In the days that followed her first meeting with her mother, she says she would fall asleep “like a baby,” grabbing onto them.

While that phase has passed, Maria Pilar says she plans to get a tattoo with her mother’s name — her way to make sure that Torres is never far from her again.

Iowa State Representative, Ako Abdul-Samad Recieves Threatening Letter Containing Mysterious Powder

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on April 4, 2012 by loonwatch

Rep Abdul-Samad talks about letter: Rep Abdul-Samad talks about letter/powder after all clear is called at Iowa Statehouse.

Rep Abdul-Samad talks about letter: Rep Abdul-Samad talks about letter/powder after all clear is called at Iowa Statehouse.

(Via Islamophobiatoday.com)

Iowa State Representative, Ako Abdul-Samad recieves threatening letter containing mysterious powder

A threatening letter containing a mysterious powder sent the Iowa Capitol into lockdown and delayed action in the House for several hours on Tuesday.

Ultimately, a hazardous materials team found the substance not to be dangerous and released a crowd of perhaps 300 lawmakers, staffers and observers who had been sequestered in the House chamber and elsewhere at the Statehouse.

The letter was received by Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines, late Tuesday afternoon and was opened on the House floor in the midst of debate.

Abdul-Samad told reporters Tuesday evening that the letter contained “very threatening” language but declined to describe it in detail, citing an investigation now under way by state police.

“I cannot talk about what was in the letter at this point, because it’s turned over now to the State Patrol and also to DCI, but it was a threatening letter,” he said, referring to the state Division of Criminal Investigation. “This has now become a very serious legal matter.”

Abdul-Samad’s clerk, Drake Law School student Michael McRae, opened the letter after retrieving it from the lawmaker’s mailbox in the Capitol rotunda. The powder billowed out, he said, covering the area around Abdul-Samad’s desk, McRae’s clothing and hands, and even being inhaled by Abdul-Samad.

Rep. Kevin Koester, R-Ankeny, who said he was sitting near Abdul-Samad after the letter was opened and saw a white powder spill from an envelope, said the substance looked like flour or powdered sugar. Others described it as resembling a powdered detergent.

Abdul-Samad and Iowa State Patrol Capt. Mark Logsdon declined to identify the substance.

The letter apparently was hand-delivered to the Capitol, Logsdon said.

House leaders paused the debate that was then under way at about 3:45 p.m. and directed Abdul-Samad and McRae to the vestibule separating the House chambers from the Capitol’s second-floor rotunda.

They remained there throughout the afternoon and early evening. The entire building was locked down shortly before 5 p.m.

A hazardous materials team — wearing bright yellow plastic suits with orange boots and breathing apparatus — arrived around 5:30, and appeared to collect samples both inside the vestibule with Abdul-Samad and McRae and at the lawmaker’s desk on the House floor.

The two-man team’s fluorescent safety garb and Darth Vader-like exhalations contrasted sharply with the crowd of lawmakers and staff, who milled about on the floor in shirt-sleeves. Some even stood within an arm’s reach of Abdul-Samad’s desk, snapping photos as the hazmat workers conducted their work.

At around 6 p.m., House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, reported that preliminary testing indicated the substance was not hazardous. Officials with the 71st Civil Service Team, an inter-agency cooperative responsible for dealing with potentially hazardous situations like this, completed further testing, finally giving an all-clear at 7:50 p.m.

“With the sensitivity of government, it’s a realistic threat,” said Brian O’Keefe with the Des Moines Fire Department. “That’s why we’re going to this level of security and testing.”

Lawmakers resumed considering legislation before the all-clear, and even before Abdul-Samad returned to the chamber, wrapping up debate and holding a final vote on a bill to bar cities from using traffic cameras. The decision to get back to business didn’t sit well with everyone in the chamber.

“Continuation of this debate tonight is dumb, disrespectful and in poor taste,” Rep. Nathan Willems, D-Lisbon said, addressing Paulsen from the floor.

Others criticized the manner in which the incident itself was handled.

The initial response was uncontrolled and overly dismissive, potentially exposing an unknown number of Iowans to highly lethal agents like anthrax, said Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Waterloo Democrat who is trained in toxic threats.

More than an hour after the powder was discovered, state representatives and others were moving freely out of the House chambers to other areas of the Capitol and outside the building. Some senators even joked that their House peers should be banned from the Senate chambers.

But Dotzler, who was a volunteer with the John Deere Fire Brigade and fully trained with the Waterloo hazmat team, said the situation was no laughing matter.

House members should have been immediately isolated and even removed from the chambers to an isolated area to avoid further possible exposure, he said, rather than allowed to move freely inside and outside the building.

“In the world we live in you have to take every case seriously,” he said. “People said, ‘Well, it smelled like soap.’ Well, you can mix toxic biological agents in with soap and it could be something that’s pretty bad.”

Law enforcement and Abdul-Samad himself, however, defended the way the situation played out.

“Everything was handled properly, and I’m really happy with how things were handled,” Abdul-Samad said.

Logsdon, the state patrol captain, said it was easier to second-guess the response than to manage a potentially dangerous situation in a crowded and public place.

“It’s easy to question and armchair quarterback people, but the fact of the matter is once the letter was open and the substance was airborne, then it literally contaminated everyone in there,” he said.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer said the situation was unprecedented for most, if not all, of the lawmakers now serving.

She said the response will be reviewed to determine if additional procedures are necessary for dealing with such situations.

“We’ll do a look back and make sure we have the systems in place that we need and the processes that make sure everyone gets here safe,” Upmeyer said.

Among the first people out of the Capitol were Michael Mericle and his grandparents, who had been visiting the building.

Mericle, who was visiting Des Moines from Omaha, said the ordeal wasn’t what he expected for his first visit to the Capitol.

“It was long,” he said. “We were walking out, and they told us to go back in. It was boring, but everyone is OK.”

Mericle passed the time by playing with his smartphone and sending text messages to friends, he said. He said he wasn’t nervous, and others in the Capitol didn’t seem to be either.

“But his mom was,” put in Julie Almquist, Mericle’s mother, who had been waiting outside the building for her son.

Almquist, who said she had interned at the Capitol while growing up in Des Moines, said she initially didn’t think the incident was a big deal, until the hours began dragging on.

They missed their dinner reservation at Splash, she said, but once they left the Capitol, they headed there anyway to try to get a table.

Yossi Gurvitz: IDF Colonel-Rabbi Implies Rape is Permitted in War

Posted in Loon Rabbis, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by loonwatch

Rabbi_Colonel_Eyal_Karim

Rabbi Colonel Eyal Karim

Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz describes himself as a former Orthodox Jew who claims to have seen the “light” and turned atheist at the age of 17. We are unfamiliar with his work but received this tip from a reader regarding one of his recent articles.

It is titled, IDF Colonel-rabbi implies: Rape is permitted in war. Colonel Eyal Qarim was questioned, (seemingly while not in uniform) about whether rape is permitted in war, and his answer implied that it was allowed.

Now I am unfamiliar with halacha or Jewish law, but my guess is it is a system as varied and expansive as Sharia’. Most likely you can find any opinion under the sun within halacha and so I am sure many will insist that the opinion proffered by the IDF Rabbi is not the only one, and is not the position of the IDF.

However, looking at the question and answer it exposes a troubling indication that an IDF Colonel Rabbi who was once being considered for the position of Chief Rabbi held the view that “rape is permitted in war.” More over it is not the first time that extremely problematic views have been expressed by influential IDF Rabbis.

It also brings us back to the question, “what if they were Muslim?”  If a prominent Muslim scholar had offered such an opinion one can be assured that it would be all over MEMRI.

Gurvitz omitted the whole question from the reader to the Rabbi, but we provide an approximate translation via. Google for context:

There have been various wars between nations, such as the First World War, for example, different nations fought each other, and no one was particularly good for the Jews or bad for the Jews…

But if they had captured a village and there were Jews and Jewish girls were raped, it is considered, rightly, a disaster and tragedy to the girl and family.

If yes, rape in war is considered a shocker. How, then was I told that a long, beautiful woman is allowed, according to some authorities, even before the process described in the Torah, I mean, surrender and lay with it created, and only then take her home, etc.?

This seems contradictory. After all, if rape is considered a civil war and not something shocking, why, apparently, Jews allowed?

Is it allowed in our days [sic] for an IDF soldier, for example, to rape girls during a fight, or is such a thing forbidden?

Now it’s very clear that the questioner is asking whether or not rape is allowed in war time. This is the answer that Rabbi Qarim gave (translation via. Gorvitz):

“The wars of Israel […] are mitzvah wars, in which they differ from the rest of the wars the nations wage among themselves. Since, essentially, a war is not an individual matter, but rather nations wage war as a whole, there are cases in which the personality of the individual is “erased” for the benefit of the whole. And vice versa: sometimes you risk a large unit for the saving of an individual, when it is essential for purposes of morale. One of the important and critical values during war is maintaining the army’s fighting ability […]

As in war the prohibition against risking your life is broken for the benefit of others, so are the prohibitions against immorality and of kashrut. Wine touched by gentiles, consumption of which is prohibited in peacetime, is allowed at war, to maintain the good spirit of the warriors. Consumption of prohibited foods is permitted at war (and some say, even when kosher food is available), to maintain the fitness of the warriors, even though they are prohibited during peacetime. Just so, war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations (gilui arayot in the original – YZG), and even though fraternizing with a gentile woman is a very serious matter, it was permitted during wartime (under the specific terms) out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors. And since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge (yetzer ha’ra in the original  -YZG), under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole.”

Gorvitz comments on this:

Wow. Herein lies a hornet’s nest. The first is that according to Qarim, the rape of female prisoners is not just permitted, it is also essential to war; the success of the whole at war relies on it.

….

Another problem is that Qarim invokes here the usual apologetics of those who speak of “Jewish morality”: he claims war is a conflict between nations, not individuals, and that the individual has no importance at war. The raped woman is not a woman, is not a person, has no feelings and if she feels pain it is unimportant: she is not a woman or a person, just an individual of an enemy tribe whose misfortune was to be captured. Furthermore, Qarim says that rape during wartime is immoral if carried out by a rival tribe – but all Jewish wars are, by definition, mitzvah wars. If the rape of the defenseless is part and parcel of “Jewish morality,” it’s not hard to reach the conclusion it is inferior to all modern morality systems. It is also worth noting (Hebrew) that “Jewish morality” is a by-product of German blood and iron romanticism.

Yet a third problem is that, essentially, Qarim says there is nothing which may be prohibited in war, if it is done “for the success of the whole.” We know that the killing of armed combatants is permitted (this is, after all, the essence of war), and we now learn that, for His Blessed Name, the rape of women is also permitted. Then we must ask ourselves whether it is also permitted, for the sake of victory, to also kill unarmed people. Children, for instance, who we have good reason to think may seek one day vengeance for the death of their fathers and brothers and the torturing of their mothers and sisters. The notorious book “Torat Ha’Melekh” answered in the affirmative; it would be interesting to know what Qarim thinks, and whether there is anything he thinks a Jewish soldier ought not to do for victory.

But the real problem here is that Eyal Qarim is an IDF colonel (Aluf Mishneh), and is a senior officer in the Military Rabbinate, i.e. is in a senior position in the IDF religious edicts apparatus. I’ve sent the following questions to the IDF Spokesman:

  1. Is the rape of women during wartime agreeable to the IDF Ethics Code?
  2. If not, why does a prominent military rabbi promote it?
  3. If not, does the IDF intend to end the service of Col. Qarim, or bring charges against him?
  4. How does the IDF Spokesman intend to deal with the anticipated damage to its image in the international arena, resulting from Col. Qarim’s ruling?

Frankly, I did not expect an answer, but surprisingly enough an enraged officer from IDF Spokesman New Media Unit called me. His official response was that Qarim was not an officer in active service when he wrote that ruling, and furthermore that my question “disrespects the IDF, the State of Israel and the Jewish religion,” and hence his unit will no longer answer my questions.

I told him that, as an Israeli citizen, I considered Col. Qarim to be a ticking time bomb, which will blow up in the IDF’s face should a soldier rape an enemy woman: it would automatically be seen as official policy. I told him this happened in the past. He vehemently denied it, and wouldn’t listen.

I think that the fact that Qarim was on hiatus at the time – earlier he was the religious officer of a crack unit, Sayeret Matkal (commando unit) – is unimportant. What is important is that the Military Rabbinate chose to re-call an officer who wrote such a ruling to active service. Qarim was briefly considered a candidate for the position of the Chief Military Rabbi. This is the face of the IDF in 2012, and this is the face of the rabbis it chooses to employ. There are certainly more humane rabbis than Qarim; yet somehow these are not the rabbis who are promoted.

Germany’s new breed of neo-Nazis pose a threat

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by loonwatch

The neo-Nazi group, which has been dubbed the Zwickau cell, operated for more than 10 years

The neo-Nazi group, which has been dubbed the Zwickau cell, operated for more than 10 years

Neo-Nazism in Germany is on the rise. Interestingly, the Islamophobes ignore the terror threat from such groups:

Germany’s new breed of neo-Nazis pose a threat

By Katya Adler, BBC Newsnight, Germany

The security services in Germany are scrambling to track down and arrest far-right fugitives and Germany’s federal and state interior ministers have announced they are taking concrete steps towards banning the country’s far right National Democratic Party, the NPD.

This comes after a public outcry following revelations in November that a neo-Nazi cell had apparently been able to go on a nationwide spree of racially motivated murders over several years, under the noses of the German intelligence services.

The group of three are being held responsible for the deaths of eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant between 2000 and 2006, as well as a German policewoman in 2007.

Yet the existence of the group, dubbed the Zwickau cell after the name of the town where they spent most of their time in hiding, only came to light in November when two of its members died in an apparent joint suicide or murder-suicide and the third handed herself in to the authorities.

The NPD has been linked to the group, though the allegations have yet to be accepted in a court of law.

The trio had made a DVD in which they boasted of the killings and said they had acted to serve the German nation and its people, describing themselves as the National Socialist Underground – echoing the national socialism (Nazism) of Hitler’s Germany.

The story of the killers has dominated headlines in Germany for months now and given rise to one of the biggest scandals in post-war Germany.

It turns out intelligence agencies had had the group under surveillance for years, and even found a bomb-making factory in their garage back in 1998.

So why were the trio not stopped earlier? Why were they allowed to disappear and then stay underground? And why was it that security services blamed the murders on the Turkish mafia at the time? A right-wing motive was never investigated.

The failures have prompted some to ask whether there is more than incompetence to blame, whether Germany’s police and security services contain elements sympathetic to the far right – an accusation the institutions vehemently deny.

A parliamentary inquiry is currently under way into their activities, and Newsnight has seen a secret internal report revealing serious blunders by law enforcement agencies.

Police limitationsWhen we spoke to Peter Altmaier, a senior official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, he admitted that mistakes had been made:

“You have to know Germany is a federal state, and competencies are shared and divided between federal and state levels… and because we have drawn the lessons from the Nazi dictatorship, we have very limited powers of police and security institutions.

“There have been hints and indications of right-wing extremism that were not taken seriously enough, and therefore we have put this very high on the political agenda.”

Another question that now worries many Germans is just how big a threat the far right poses.

Human rights groups say more than 180 people have been killed in right-wing attacks in Germany over the last 20 years.

Neo-Nazis have murdered more people in post-war Germany than any other single group, including Islamists and the far left. But this is not yet reflected in official data.

>> Continue reading: Germany’s new breed of neo-Nazis pose a threat

Don’t Be Fooled. Europe’s Far-right Racists are Not Discerning

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

French politician Marine Le Pen is among European far-right figures courting the Jewish community. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

French politician Marine Le Pen is among European far-right figures courting the Jewish community. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

A good piece, reconfirming what we have been saying all along:

Don’t be fooled. Europe’s far-right racists are not discerning

(The Guardian)

On Saturday, in the Danish city of Aarhus, a Europe-wide rally organised by the English Defence League will try to set up a European anti-Muslim movement. For Europe’s far-right parties the rally, coming so soon after the murders in south-west France by a self-professed al-Qaida-following Muslim, marks a moment rich with potential political capital.

Yet it’s also a delicate one, especially for Marine Le Pen. Well before the killings, Le Pen was assiduously courting Jews, even while her father and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was last month convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying that the Nazi occupation of France “wasn’t particularly inhumane”. Marine must disassociate herself from such sentiments without repudiating her father personally or alienating his supporters. To do so she’s laced her oft-expressed Islamophobia (parts of France, she’s said, are suffering a kind of Muslim “occupation”) with a newfound “philozionism” (love of Zionism), which has extended even to hobnobbing with Israel’s UN ambassador.

Almost all European far-right parties have come up with the same toxic cocktail. The Dutch MP Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Freedom party, has compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. In Tel Aviv in 2010, he declared that ”Islam threatens not only Israel, Islam threatens the whole world. If Jerusalem falls today, Athens and Rome, Amsterdam and Paris will fall tomorrow.”

Meanwhile Filip Dewinter, leader of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang party, which grew out of the Vlaams Blok Flemish nationalist party, many of whose members collaborated with the Nazis during the second world war, has proposed a quota on the number of young Belgian-born Muslims allowed in public swimming pools. Dewinter calls Judaism “a pillar of European society”, yet associates with antisemites, while claiming that ”multi-culture … like Aids weakens the resistance of the European body”, and “Islamophobia is a duty”.

But the most rabidly Islamophobic European philozionist is Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom party, who compared foreigners to harmful insects and consorts with neo-Nazis. And yet where do we find Strache in December 2010? In Jerusalem alongside Dewinter, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

In Scandinavia the anti-immigrant Danish People’s party is a vocal supporter of Israel. And Siv Jensen, leader of the Norwegian Progress party and staunch supporter of Israel, has warned of the stealthy Islamicisation of Norway.

In Britain EDL leader Tommy Robinson, in his first public speech, sported a star of David. At anti-immigrant rallies, EDL banners read: “There is no place for Fascist Islamic Jew Haters in England”.

So has the Jew, that fabled rootless cosmopolitan, now suddenly become the embodiment of European culture, the “us” against which the Muslim can be cast as “them”? It’s not so simple. For a start, “traditional” antisemitism hasn’t exactly evaporated. Look at Hungary, whose ultra-nationalist Jobbik party is unapologetically Holocaust-denying, or Lithuania, where revisionist MPs claim that the Jews were as responsible as the Nazis for the second world war.

What’s more, the “philosemite”, who professes to love Jews and attributes superior intelligence and culture to them, is often (though not always) another incarnation of the antisemite, who projects negative qualities on to them: both see “the Jew” as a unified racial category. Beneath the admiring surface, philozionism isn’t really an appreciation of Jewish culture but rather the opportunistic endorsement of Israeli nationalism and power.

Indeed you can blithely sign up to both antisemitism and philozionism. Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik described himself as “pro-Zionist” while claiming that Europe has a “considerable Jewish problem”; he saw himself as simultaneously anti-Nazi and pro-monoculturalism. The British National party’s Nick Griffin once called the Holocaust the “Holohoax”, subsequently supported Israel in its war “against the terrorists”, but the day after the Oslo murders tweeted disparagingly that Breivik was a “Zionist”.

Most Jews, apart from the Israeli right wing, aren’t fooled. They see the whole iconography of Nazism – vermin and foreign bodies, infectious diseases and alien values – pressed into service once again, but this time directed at Muslims. They understand that “my enemy’s enemy” can easily mutate into “with friends like these …”.

The philozionism of European nationalist parties has been scrutinised most closely by Adar Primor, the foreign editor of Haaretz newspaper,who insists that ”they have not genuinely cast off their spiritual DNA, and … aren’t looking for anything except for Jewish absolution that will bring them closer to political power.”

Similarly Dave Rich, spokesman of the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors antisemitic incidents in Britain, told me that far-right philosemites “must think we’re pretty stupid if they think we’ll get taken in by that. The moment their perceived political gain disappears they revert to type. We completely reject their idea that they hate Muslims so they like Jews. What targets one community at one time can very easily move on to target another community if the climate changes.” Rich’s words, spoken before the murder of Jews in Toulouse, now sound chillingly prescient. The president of the French Jewish community, Richard Pasquier, judges Marine Le Pen more dangerous than her father.

French Muslim leaders rallied round Jewish communities last week. Next week sees the start of Passover, a festival celebrating the liberation of Jews from slavery in Egypt, when Jews often think about modern examples of oppression. Let’s hope that French Jewish leaders use the occasion to rally round Muslim communities, and to remember that ultimately, racism is indiscriminate.

• This article was amended on 28 March 2012. It originally referred to the Community Security Trust as the Community Service Trust. This has now been corrected