Archive for American Muslim

Documents Reveal FBI Spied On Peaceful Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Documents Reveal FBI Spied On Peaceful Muslims

By Josh Israel Newly released FBI documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, suggest that the bureau illegally spied on the religious practices of Muslim Americans, under the guise of community outreach. An FBI spokesman defended the information gathering as “within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity, whether investigation or liaison, including activities designed to strengthen relationships in various communities.” The ACLU explains:

The FBI’s targeting of American Muslim religious organizations for secret intelligence gathering raises grave constitutional concerns because it is an affront to religious liberty and equal protection of the law. The bureau’s use of outreach meetings to gather intelligence also undermines the trust and mutual understanding necessary to effective law enforcement. Additionally, the FBI’s retention of information gathered through “mosque outreach” in its intelligence files violates federal Privacy Act prohibitions against the maintenance of records about individuals’ First Amendment-protected activity.

But this would hardly be the first time the FBI spied on peaceful Americans. Here are just a few recent examples:

  • Iraq War Opponents — A 2002 FBI memo showed the bureau investigated gatherings of the Thomas Merton Center for Peace & Justice, as the pacifist group leafleted against the Iraq War.
  • Environmentalists — The FBI improperly investigated two planned Greenpeace corporate protests, a three-year inquiry extending long after the protests were over.
  • Animal Rights Supporters — The bureau also improperly investigated People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.This intelligence, while not useful for public safety, was at least better than the virtual restaurant reviews gathered by the New York Police Department’s spying operation.A 2010 Inspector General’s report lambasted the FBI for equating nonviolent protests with terrorism and for “false and misleading statements to the public and to Congress.”Of course, these groups are in good company. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was spied on regularly by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The COINTELPRO investigations into whether the civil rights leader might be a Communist including tapped phone conversations, bugs at his house, and even a 1964 infamous poison-pen letter warning him he would be exposed as a fraud. But nearly 50 years later, it seems perhaps the FBI should have learned from its mistakes.

Peter King’s “Muslim Hearings” are Political Theater to Target Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Loonwatch was live blogging the controversial (anti)-Muslim Hearings being chaired by bigoted ex-IRA terrorist supporter Peter King. It was a circus. It devolved along partisan lines with Republicans predictably falling behind the rhetoric and narrative of Peter King. Democratic Congressmen/women issued strong rebukes: Rep. Sheila J. Lee, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Andre Carson, Rep. Laura Richardson, Rep. Sanchez, and others delivered the message home that these Hearings were nothing more than political theater meant to castigate and intimidate a minority group and most importantly they were bereft of facts and therefore unbeneficial.

The leading witnesses for King were non-experts, Zuhdi Jasser, AbdiRizak Bihi and Melvin Bledsoe, all of these individuals were bereft of any credentials or expertise in the field of radicalization, terrorism or extremism. Zuhdi Jasser is considered an apologist for Neo-Cons and is viewed with suspicion amongst American Muslims for his close association with Islamophobes and war-mongerers. AbdiRizak was incomprehensible at times and much of what he and Bledsoe said were anecdotal and not factual evidence.

King began the hearings with what can only be classified as a bigoted comment, he said, “Moderate leadership must emerge from the Muslim community.” He said this to set up a straw man argument for what would become a recurring attack on CAIR, almost making it into a hearing about CAIR.

After getting its name wrong, calling it the “Committee of American Islamic Relations,” he and other Congressmen labeled CAIR a Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood group. This is the usual trope brought forth by Right-wingers and anti-Muslims such as Robert Spencer and co., the best response came from Sheriff Lee Baca (one of the anti-Loons of 2010) when he said, ‘If CAIR is this terrorist group or has terrorist links then why hasn’t the FBI prosecuted them? Why haven’t they charged them? They wouldn’t be around if they were terrorist or terrorist sympathizers.’

Some highlights included:

Keith Ellison made three important points: 1.) Security is important to all American Muslims, 2.) Hearings threaten our security and 3.) We need increased engagement with Muslims.

Ellison also got quite emotional while mentioning the story of a Muslim first responder who died saving people but was the victim of a smear campaign by Islamophobes who attempted to link him to the 9/11 attacks.

Andre Carson brought up an excellent point about the fact that cooperation between law enforcement and communities such as the American Muslim community is endangered by the backdoor actions and methodologies of  organizations such as the FBI when they send agent provocateurs into Muslim mosques. Such actions cause distrust and engender fear that Muslims’ civil rights and liberties are being violated. One really only has to look at the example in California of the criminal Craig Montielh who was later arrested and confessed that he was sent by the FBI on a fishing expedition to entrap Muslims.

There were also other quite interesting WTF moments: Such as when Peter King mentioned Kim Kardashian and CAIR in the same sentence. Or when non-expert witness Melvin Bledsoe told Rep. Al Green “you don’t know what these hearings are about.” There was also the earlier moment when Peter King denied making the comment that “there are too many mosques in America.” A blatant falsity.

We will have more in depth coverage but it is safe to say that American Muslims are in for a rocky Islamophobic time with these hearings.

Islam and the Media in the age of Islamophobiapalooza

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by loonwatch

Islam and Muslim related issues have taken central stage as leading news stories in America with a frequency of coverage that might make other faiths green with envy. Does all this (un)wanted attention serve to bolster the perception of Muslims (as the saying goes, “any publicity is good publicity”) or does it present a scenario of helplessness in which ones faith is gawked and bawked at willy nilly by political opportunists and an overwhelmingly complicit uncritical media? Or both?

The answer to the first question is that it is not always true that “any publicity is good publicity,” if you believe that then there is a New York City Cab driver with whom I would like you to speak. The attention that has been levied on Islam and Muslims has taken stories that were really “tempests-in-a-tea-pot” and made them into hurricanes that only highlight the helplessness American Muslims face when it comes to their relationship with the media and society.

Take the example of the NYC Mosque and Cultural Center. This story was whipped up into a frenzy by a pair of bigoted anti-Muslim bloggers, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two individuals who should be summarily dismissed as loons that have zero influence in the mainstream media or amongst any of our politicians.

Yet, we are reaping the fruits of their persistent and belligerent disinformation campaign about a “mosque at Ground Zero,” smears against an Imam who has been sponsored by the State Department as a diplomat, and a Muslim community that is being indicted as collectively guilty for the crimes perpetuated by a fringe extremist organization. Muslims are told to be sensitive to the those who are insensitive, to quietly take the bigotry and move elsewhere. For some, the heavily accented Dutch neo-fascist politician Geert Wilders’ cry of “no mosque here” resonates and is far more familiar than appeals to the Constitution and the rights of their neighbors.

More egregiously however has been the silencing of Muslim voices in the face of the perpetuation of stereotypes resulting in the witting and unwitting explosion of prejudice directed at Muslims. Muslims are only brought on TV to respond to crises, sometimes these crises are wholly manufactured by an uncritical media. A case study on this is needed but let us take the example of the threat against the South Park creators by Revolution Muslim and the International Burn the Koran Day by Pastor Terry Jones and his Dove Outreach Church.

The controversy that swelled around South Park was initiated by Revolution Muslim, a fringe group even amongst extremists, composed of about 4 morons with below zero credibility in the Muslim community. In fact, they were kicked out of the mosque they attended and were relegated to being scraggly street side loons with a bull horn. Most people with common sense who passed them by on the street viewed these people for who they were, a bunch of nuts.

However, for whatever reason the media took it upon itself to give them a voice. These nobodies became the spokesmen for Muslims, and in an even worse move Comedy Central lent credence to the threat by canceling the South Park episodes that included the Prophet Muhammad. No one asked Muslims for their opinion, Comedy Central didn’t bother to consult Muslims, instead they chose the path of self-censorship (or what some cynically term a PR stunt) at the expense of Muslims. The result was a perception that Islam not only can’t take criticism, not only do they react violently to such criticism but they can’t even handle their Prophet being depicted by people who don’t hold the same opinion as they do about pictorial representations of holy figures.

This perception metastasized into a phenomenon that pitted false paradigms against one another, leading to the willful deafness of one group so consumed by its perceptions that it ultimately resulted in the wrongheaded and thoroughly Islamophobic “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.”

What did the media do to correct the ignorance it helped to perpetuate? Nothing. The damage was done, the story that was headline news for a while faded into the abyss of old news but the residue of perception remained.

Fast forward to the past few weeks and the debate over whack job Pastor Terry Jones’ call for an International Burn the Koran Day on 9/11. He based his action on Acts 19:19 in which the early Christians burned the books of witches. He believed he was doing the Godly, righteous thing since Islam was “of the Devil” and leading people to the doom of Hellfire.

But notice the difference in the coverage of the Revolutionary Muslim crackpots and this Terry Jones character. Even though both are fringe groups/individuals with unbelievably small followings, only one group, Revolutionary Muslim, was allowed to define a whole religion.

The distinction was made consistently and repeatedly from the top echelon of our government all the way down to our media that Terry Jones and his followers were a minority who don’t speak for Christianity or America, but the same point was given scant time or attention when it came to the South Park Controversy.

This double standard has to end because it is intellectually and morally dishonest and only perpetuates a perception of Muslims as backward primitives defined and represented by their least common denominator, a myth that can, as we have seen in the past, have dire consequences.