Archive for American Muslims

American Muslims Working with Religious Authorities in N. Africa to Develop Protocols to Protect Religious Minorities

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on April 21, 2012 by loonwatch

This is real commitment to religious freedom, in stark opposition to the hackneyed, biased and ineffectual ‘work’ of Zuhdi Jasser and the USCIRF. The USCIRF would do better to promote projects such as the one below (h/t: Kamal):

Working with Religious Authorities in N. Africa to Develop Protocols to Protect Religious Minorities

Last week, ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and ISNA Director of Community Outreach Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi met with high-ranking religious authorities and scholars in Morocco and Tunisia to discuss the rights of religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries across the globe.  Working in consultation with these authorities, they presented the idea of developing Islamic standards and protocols to guarantee equal participation of various religious groups in Muslim-majority countries.

ISNA is deeply concerned about the rights of religious minorities and among those with whom they met were Dr. Ahmed Toufiq, Moroccan Minister of Islamic Affairs and Endowment; Dr. Noureddine Khadmi, Tunisian Minister of Religious Affairs; and Dr. Abdul Aziz Othman al-Tuwaijri, General Manager of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). All of them remain solidly committed to addressing this issue.

The Kingdom of Morocco has a history of harmonious coexistence between people of diverse religious backgrounds. Under the guidance of original Islamic scholarship stemming from some of the most reputable Islamic institutions in the Muslim world, both the Moroccan government and its majority-Muslim population peacefully coexist with the Moroccan Jewish and Christian communities. Similarly, developments in Tunisia following the Arab spring have re-energized a commitment to a pluralist democracy and to a guarantee of the rights of all people to wholly participate in government and society.

ISNA is committed to religious freedom and seeks to promote it not only in the United States, but also abroad.  We deeply appreciate the partnership of religious leaders of all faiths, particularly the way religious leaders and community members from Jewish and Christian faiths have wholeheartedly demonstrated their support for Muslims through the institutionalization of the campaign, Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values.

Similarly, ISNA is dedicated to standing in solidarity with people of other faiths everywhere, whether they constitute the majority or the minority.  Following this trip to Morocco and Tunisia, stay tuned for news about a series of activities, as ISNA works to promote a mechanism for developing standards and protocols on religious freedom and the role of religious minorities in the Muslim world.

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Personalizing civil liberties abuses

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from Salon)

By Glenn Greenwald

It’s sometimes easy — too easy — to think, talk or write about the assault on civil liberties in the United States, and related injustices, and conceive of them as abstractions. Two weeks ago, the Editorial Page Editor of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal, wrote that ever since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has created “what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims.” That should be an extraordinary observation: creating a radically different — and more oppressive — set of rules, laws and punishments for a class of people in the United States based on their religious affiliation is a disgrace of historic proportion. Yet here we have someone occupying one of the most establishment media positions in the country matter-of-factly observing that this is exactly the state of affairs that exists on American soil, and it prompts little notice, let alone protest.

There are many factors accounting for the willingness to tolerate, or even approve of, this systematic persecution, most of which I’ve written about before. But one important reason I want to highlight here is that — as is true of America’s related posture of endless wars — its victims, by design, are so rarely heard from. As is true for most groups of humans who remain hidden, they are therefore easily demonized. This invisibility also means that even those who object in principle to what is being done have difficulty apprehending in a visceral way the devastation that is wreaked in the lives of these human beings who have done nothing wrong. Their absence from our discourse can confine one’s understanding of these issues to the theoretical realm, and thus limit one’s ability to truly care.

I spent the last week traveling to several cities where, without planning to do so, I met dozens of people whose lives have been seriously impeded or fully wrecked by the abuses carried out in the name of the War on Terror. This happens whenever I travel to speak at events, and it’s one of the reasons I do it. Meeting such people isn’t the reason for my travel. These meetings usually are unplanned. But the decade-long abuses carried out in the post-9/11 era are so pervasive, so systematized, that no matter what city I visit, it’s very common for me to end up meeting people — usually though not always Muslims — whose lives have been unjustly and severely harmed by these state actions. And it’s not only the targeted individuals themselves, but entire communities of people, whose lives are substantially damaged. Being able to meet and speak with people directly affected personalizes the issues for me that are most frequently written about here, and so I want to describe several of those encounters I had just in the last week.

* * * * *

On Thursday, I was in Ottawa to speak at St. Paul University on civil liberties, secrecy and militarism as it affects the U.S. and Canada. Ottawa happens to be the long-time home of Maher Arar. Arar is the Canadian-Syrian citizen who was abducted by the U.S. Government (with the help of Canada) in September, 2002, at JFK Airport, when he was about to board a connecting flight back home to Ottawa after a vacation. After being held for two weeks in solitary confinement and denied access to a lawyer by the U.S., they “rendered” him not back to his home in Canada, but to Syria (where he hadn’t lived for 15 years). He was imprisoned in Syria for the next year, ten months of which was in extreme solitary confinement. As the U.S. knew would happen, he was continuously interrogated, beaten and tortured. Because (as everyone now admits) Arar had no involvement of any kind with Terrorism, he had nothing to tell his Syrian captors, which caused them to beat him ever more harshly. Once even the Syrians concluded that he was innocent, they released him back to Canada.

While the Canadian government publicly accounted for its role in this travesty, apologized to Arar, and paid him a substantial monetary sum for what was done to him, all of Arar’s efforts to obtain justice from the U.S. Government in American courts have been denied. The Bush and the Obama DOJ both insisted that allowing Arar’s claims to be heard in a U.S. court would risk disclosure of vital “state secrets,” and American federal judges — as they almost always do in cases involving Muslim defendants — meekly complied with the government’s directives. Arar continues to be banned from entering the U.S., thus ensuring he cannot travel to this country to speak about what was done to him.

When I met with him, Arar explained to me the lingering effects of being snatched away from your own life for no reason and being shipped halfway across the world to be brutalized and tortured without any charges of any kind and without any end in sight. At the time that happened, Arar was working as an engineer — he has a Masters degree in engineering from the University of Quebec — and he lived with his wife, a Ph.D in Finance who works as a college professor, along with their two small children. His wife, Monia Mazigh, wrote an incredibly moving book about the devastation this “rendition” wreaked on their lives and her battle to free him.

Since then, the stigma of what happened to him follows him wherever he goes. He found it difficult to resume his engineering career. He was reluctant to speak in any detailed way, but was clear that this horrific experience, even nine years later, affects him emotionally and psychologically in all sorts of profound ways. He spends most of his time working on an excellent online political journal he founded in 2010, Prism Magazine, where he and a group of writers report and comment on civil liberties and foreign policy.

He’s extremely smart, knowledgeable, articulate, passionate and engaged. He attempts to direct the anger over what was done to him into constructive causes: in particular, using his platform to highlight the dangers of untrammeled government power and the ongoing erosion of core liberties in the name of Terrorism. But it’s not hard to see that the severe abuse he suffered at the cooperative hands of the U.S., Canadian and Syrian governments — the complete loss of one’s sense of security from being arbitrarily snatched out of one’s life by unaccountable forces which, in the case of the U.S., continue to view him as some sort of threat — will be a central part of his identity and internal life probably forever.

* * * * *

On Saturday, I was at the University of Chicago for an event to discuss humanitarian intervention and empire. One of my fellow speakers was Tariq Ramadan, the highly regarded Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford. He’s one of the world’s most accomplished scholars in his field. For almost six years — from 2004 until 2010 — Ramadan was banned from entering the U.S. In 2004, he had accepted a tenured position at Notre Dame University, but was forced to resign it when, nine days before he was to move with his family to Indiana, his visa was suddenly revoked by the State Department pursuant to the “ideological exclusion” provision of the PATRIOT Act. Ramadan had been an outspoken critic of violence carried out by Muslims against civilians in the name of the Koran, as well a vigorous opponent of violence carried out by the U.S. Government in the Muslim world; for the latter act, he was accused by the U.S. Government, with no charges or trial, of being a Terrorist sympathizer and a threat to national security. Only once the ACLU sued for years on his behalf and the State Department was ordered by a federal court to more fully justify the exclusion in 2010 was he granted a visa. After years of living with the cloud of “Terrorist sympathizer” over his head, he is now finally able to enter the U.S. again to speak and attend academic conferences.

One of the sponsors of that University of Chicago event was the school’s Muslim Students Association, and one of the undergraduate student leaders of that group is Ali Al-Arian. Ali is the son of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian whose ongoing persecution by the U.S. Government is one of the most repellent and unjust of any in the post-9/11 era. I can’t begin to convey all or even most of the extreme injustices that have been imposed on him.

In 2003, while working as an engineering professor at the University of South Florida, he was indicted by the Ashcroft DOJ on multiple counts of “material support for Terrorism.” Al-Arian was an outspoken advocate for Palestinians and a steadfast opponent of the Israeli occupation. The U.S. government had been monitoring all of his telephone communications for more than a full decade, yet obtained no evidence that he was involved in any way in plotting any sort of violence. The indictment was all based on his alleged support for Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group that has nothing to do with the U.S. or Americans, but is instead focused exclusively on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. While awaiting his trial, he was held for almost three years in extreme solitary confinement.

When his trial finally took place in 2006, the government’s evidence against him consisted almost entirely of his speeches, the list of books he read, the websites he visited, the magazines he edited, the rallies he attended: in sum, the U.S. Government — as it so often does with Muslims — tried to prosecute him as a Terrorist by virtue of his political views and activities. Even with a judge extremely hostile to his defense, the Central Florida jury acquitted him on half of the counts, and deadlocked on the other half (10 out of 12 jurors wanted to acquit him on all charges). This was one of the very, very few times a Muslim in the U.S. has been acquitted when accused of Terrorism. Rather than be subjected to a new trial that could send him to prison for life, he pled guilty to a single count of “contributing services” for the benefit of a designated Terrorist group (far, far less than what is being provided right this moment by a glittering bipartisan cast of Washington officials to the MEK, also a designated Terrorist group). In an extremely unusual move, the federal judge presiding over the case disregarded the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations and sentenced him to a longer prison term than what the plea agreement called for: the maximum permitted by law.

That prison sentence was to end in 2007, after which he would be deported. Yet al-Arian was never released from prison. He continues, nine years later, to be denied his liberty by the U.S. Government, with no end in sight. Shortly before he was to be released and deported, he was subpoenaed to testify in a separate criminal case — one involving an Islamic think tank in Northern Virginia — by Gordon Kromberg, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Virginia who is notorious for his bigoted anti-Islamic zealotry. Fearful that any testimony he gave would be seized on by Kromberg to prosecute him again, al-Arian refused to testify, and was then imprisoned on civil contempt charges for the maximum 18-month period permitted by law. Once that 18-month period ended, Kromberg, in 2008, indicted him on criminal contempt charges.

In response to this new criminal indictment, al-Arian’s lawyers, in 2009, asked the federal district judge to dismiss the criminal indictment. While the motion was pending, the judge ordered him confined to house arrest. That was 3 years ago. But the judge has simply never decided the motion. It just sits there, for years now, undecided. And al-Arian thus continues to be confined to house arrest, not permitted to leave without express permission of the court, which is rarely granted (he has left his small apartment only twice in the last 3 years, to attend the weddings of his two daughters). In the meantime, the criminal case for which he was subpoeaned to testify has been dismissed. But no matter. Al-Arian is in a frozen zone: denied his most basic liberties but without any ability to contest the charges against him. He’s now been imprisoned in one form or another since 2003, all stemming from extremely dubious charges that the U.S. Government, less than two years after the 9/11 attack, could not even get a Central Florida jury — with a very hostile judge — to convict him on. In reality, al-Arian has been persecuted for one reason only: because he’s a Palestinian activist highly critical of the four-decade brutal Israeli occupation.

It was al-Arian’s son, Ali, who drove me back to my hotel after the University of Chicago event was concluded. He recounted the harrowing details of his father’s plight, much of which I knew, but also explained, in stoic though very affecting tones, the ways in which the lives not only of his father but also his own and his brothers and sisters have been torn asunder by the ongoing persecution taking place. Dr. al-Arian’s five college-age children, all highly accomplished and educated in their own right, have worked steadfastly on the injustices to which their father is still being subjected, but there’s little they can do: each time it appears that his plight will finally be over, the U.S. Government concocts a new process to ensure that he remains a prisoner.

* * * * *

Last night, I spoke in Washington at the annual event for the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, a group formed in late 2010 to work against these Terrorism-justified travesties that are now embedded in the American judicial system. Seated at my table was James Yee, the Muslim chaplin at Guantanamo who complained in 2003 about the treatment of detainees, and shortly thereafter was arrested, charged with sedition and espionage, and held in intense solitary confinement: in other words, subjected to the very same treatment as the Guantanano detainees to whom he had been ministering. Ultimately, the U.S. military decided to suddenly drop all charges against him, though to date has never apologized for what was done to him. He described the ongoing psychological harm from this ordeal, and the battery of medication needed to treat it. Adorning the wall of the event was an exhibit showing the names of dozens of people — mostly, though not all, Muslims — who have been prosecuted overwhelmingly due to their political views, not because of any violent acts they undertook. For the entire three-hour event, a Muslim male dressed in an orange jump suit sat alone in a tiny makeshift cell at the front of the room as a reminder of the hundreds of prisoners, held in indescribably oppressive conditions, who have been prosecuted “pre-emptively” in the post-9/11 era: due to their political beliefs.

On the afternoon before the event, I met with Gulet Mohamed’s brother, Liban. Gulet is the Somali-American who last year, at the age of 19, was detained in Kuwait at the behest of the U.S. Government, beaten and tortured while interrogated, and then blocked from returning home to the U.S. I still vividly recall, as though it were yesterday, calling Gulet on his illicitly obtained cell phone while he was in Kuwaiti detention and hearing the extreme levels of fear and confusion in his voice over why this was happening to him. His brother described to me the numerous ways that Gulet continues to be affected by that experience: all ones you would expect if you put yourself in the position of being 19 years old and having that happen to you. I then had the pleasure to meet Gulet himself at the event that evening, and he appears to be a normal now-20-year-old — except that he was detained without charges and beaten and tortured at the behest of his own government.

In both Chicago and Washington, I also spoke with several people, all American Muslims, who have been placed by the U.S. Government on its no-fly list. That means they are barred from boarding an airplane. None has been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime. They were never notified that they were being placed on the list. They learned of it when they tried to fly and were denied boarding at the airport. They are unable to obtain any explanation for why they have been so barred. They have no idea who made the decision to place them on this list, what the basis was for that decision, or when they might be removed. For many of them, it means they cannot visit family members in other countries. They have simply been decreed as Security Threats by their own government with no explanation or transparency of any kind, and have no recourse to challenge the designation.

Those I spoke with were unwilling, at least for now, to speak out publicly by name out of fear that the U.S. Government will retaliate against them if they do. This fear is well-grounded given how many Muslims who have protested the government’s treatment of them have ended up being accused of unrelated crimes, or have had close family members similarly targeted. Just this week, a Pittsburgh resident, Kalifah Al-Akili, was scheduled to hold a press conference to complain that the FBI had introduced a dangerous and unstable person into his life in order to entrap him into joining an FBI-created Terrorist plot; once al-Akili refused, and sought to complain publicly, the FBI — on the day before he was to hold his Press Conference — arrested him on a completely unrelated and old firearm violation, thus ensuring his silence.

Then there’s the systematic infiltration of American Muslim communities, mosques and other groups by the U.S. Government. Just today, the Associated Press won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for exposing the pernicious surveillance program of the NYPD aimed at Muslims suspected of no wrongdoing whatsoever (except for being Muslim). Also today, The Washington Post has a very good article detailing the FBI’s chronic use of informants to target young Muslims and use every conceivable inducement — money, psychological manipulation, peer pressure — to cajole them into joining the FBI’s manufactured Terrorist plots. This is all done so that the FBI can swoop in at the last minute, praise themselves for stopping a Terror attack, keep fear levels among the American population high, and then send the targeted Muslim to prison for decades (and not just any prison, but usually to the uber-repressive wing at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana — “GITMO North” — a living, inhumane hell). The federal judge who presided over the most recent of these FBI-concocted cases — the tough-on-crime, former federal prosecutor Colleen McMahon — said in open court: “I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there would have been no crime here except the government instigated it, planned it and brought it to fruition.”

This constant government surveillance, infiltration, and use of informants — many who are paid large sums of money by the FBI and who themselves have a history of violent behavior and lying — predictably create extreme levels of fear and suspicion in American Muslim communities. They are instantly suspicious of any new person they meet. Because so many of these prosecutions have relied on the political statements and views of the accused Terrorist supporters, they are petrified to express their views about American foreign policy, let alone to engage in meaningful activism around those views. They fear speaking out when they are targeted or otherwise victimized by state injustices.

* * * * *

In sum, these are American citizens whom the rest of us have allowed to be subject to such an intense, limitless climate of fear and intimidation that any Constitutional guarantees are purely illusory for them. And they know it: they know that if the U.S. Government acts unjustly against them — if government agents even utter the word Terrorist in their direction — huge numbers of their fellow citizens will automatically assume that there must be some justification for the accusations. As Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum recently explained, he simply assumes that when the Obama administration accuses someone of involvement in Terrorism that there must be some solid basis for the accusation — even if they don’t reveal what that basis is — because President Obama is too good of a person to be involved in the baseless, bad faith punishment of someone on Terrorism allegations.

Many of the Muslims with whom I spoke know that many of their fellow citizens — the ones who are never subjected to these abuses — “reason” in a similar manner. Most are wallowing in the authoritarian assumption that the U.S. Government, while not infallible, is well-motivated and honest. Many Muslims thus know that they will stand almost entirely vulnerable if they are so targeted; few others will object or even care. That the Obama administration — in concert with Peter King — has been repeatedly insistingthat the primary threat is now “homegrown Terrorism,” and has thus been importing War on Terror framework onto U.S. soil, means that citizenship is no longer any shield from even the most egregious abuses. So they are afraid, and are tempted to avoid doing anything, including exercising their most basic rights of free speech and assembly, to avoid attracting attention.

As is always the case, the government abuses justified in the name of Terrorism have expanded far beyond the Muslim community to which they were first applied. Domestic peace activists have been targeted by abusive applications of the Patriot Act; American advocates of WikiLeaks have been legally harassed in all sorts of ways; and just last week I detailed the persecution of filmmaker Laura Poitras for the crime of producing documentaries that reflect poorly on U.S. policy.

But American Muslims have borne the brunt of these assaults for a full decade now, and — more than a full decade after 9/11 — continue to bear them in increasingly oppressive ways. And it’s worthwhile, really necessary, to be reminded of the very personal ways that these actions harm the lives of innocent human beings. Blame undoubtedly lies first and foremost with the U.S. Government for perpetrating these attacks. But it lies as well with the American citizenry that — convinced that they will not be affected — permits and even cheers them.

Seymour Hersh Reveals that MEK Terrorists Were Trained in the USA by the Pentagon

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by loonwatch

As Glenn Greenwald noted in his book “With Liberty and Justice for Some,” equality before the law is an illusion in the United States. If you are wealthy and have political clout you are most likely to get away with breaking the law and committing crimes, such as “material support” of terrorism.

We reported in July of last year that many politicians from both parties were working with and receiving money from a US State Department designated terrorist organization, the MEK. A group Islamophobes are also quite fond of at the moment.

It was then revealed that the US and Israel have been supporting the MEK to carry out terrorist missions in Iran. Now it has been revealed by the trailblazing investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh that the Pentagon has been training the MEK in Nevada for years, starting in 2005:

US Pentagon Trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada: Hersh

Posted on 04/07/2012 by Juan Cole

The intrepid Seymour Hersh reports at the New Yorker that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) of the US military gave members of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Holy Jihadis) training in signals intelligence at a facility in Nevada during the Bush era. The MEK was then and is now on the US State Department’s terrorism watch list, so the Pentagon’s deployment of this group was quite illegal.

The MEK was given a base in eastern Iraq by Saddam Hussein, who used the some 4,000 guerrillas who gathered there to harass the Islamic Republic of Iran. The MEK had its origins in an Islamic-Marxist guerrilla group of the 1970s that fought the forces of the Shah. It joined in the revolution against the Shah in 1978-79 but broke with the Khomeini regime and turned to a massive campaign of bombing and sniping against it. In return, the regime killed some 10,000 suspected MEK members, many of whom it just shot down in the street. The group evolved into a political cult, with insistence on glaze-eyed absolute obedience to the leader, Maryam Rajavi, and cult-like practices such as forced marriages and divorces (not to mention the long history of violence inside Iran).

When the US occupied Iraq, some in the Pentagon adopted the MEK at Camp Ashraf near the Iranian border for use against Iran. The MEK has bought a lot of big American politicians and seems to have promised the Israelis it would recognize Israel if it ever came to power in Iran; figures connected to the Israel lobbies have hypocritically campaigned to have the MEK delisted as a terrorist organization, despite it long and bloody record of attacks on civilians. As recently as this year, NBC quoted unnamed US government officials alleging that the MEK has been assassinating Iranian scientists in Iran.

Hersh reveals a trail of blatant hypocrisy on the part of the US government. “Our” terrorists are not terrorists even if they have blown up non-combatants, but national liberation groups such as Hizbullah in Lebanon are designated terrorists. Government officials have even brandished the word “terrorism” to describe perfectly peaceful protesters and dissidents inside the US, while JSOC was flying dyed-in-the-wool terrorists to Nevada for training.

The USG Open Source Center translated a report in the MEK newspaper regarding the hobnobbing of Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton and others with the MEK leadership in Paris recently:

“– On 24 March, the NCRI secretariat website published a report on an international conference held in Paris to address MEK concerns and issues, which was attended by NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi as well as former high ranking officials from the United States and Europe including Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, John Bolton, Patrick Kennedy, and Colonel Wesley Martin.. According to the report, the issues raised included the adoption of a “decisive policy” against Iran’s regime, protection of the rights of Camp Ashraf and Liberty residents, and the elimination of MEK’s “terrorist label.” Rajavi said that “the only way to prevent an Iranian atomic bomb or the occurrence of an unprecedented conflict” was “regime change” by the Iranian people and resistance. On the issue of Camp Liberty, Rudy Giuliani said: “Let us go there. Let us see it with our own eyes.” He added: “Currently the enemy of stopping Iran becoming nuclear is appeasement. This wrong perception has made Iran more determined in becoming nuclear. Let us stop appeasement. Let us stop the efforts for negotiations. Stop writing letters to the ayatollahs. Let us rise up and say as Americans that we are for regime change in Iran and we will take every step necessary to stop Iran becoming nuclear” (National Council of Resistance of Iran in Persian — Website of an exiled political umbrella coalition of Marxist and Islamist organizations — Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO), National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Muslim Iranian Students Society (MISS); on US State Department’s list of terrorist groups since 1997; URL: http://www.iranncr.org/).”

As Sheila Musaji points out, lots of American Muslims are in jail for ‘material support of terrorism,’ but American politicians and pundits get a free pass for actively supporting the MEK– which, remember, is definitively on the terrorism watch list.

Note to the US government and the Neocons: George Orwell’s 1984 was a dark political satire, not a blueprint for how you should do things.

Omid Safi: Confessions of a Would be Muslim Reformer (sort of)

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on April 1, 2012 by loonwatch

A real witty article:

Confessions of a Would be Muslim Reformer (sort of)

by Omid Safi (Religion News Service)

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching, and I have reached a few important conclusions.    Speaking as a moderate Muslim, I realize that my community is primitive, backwards, mired in tradition, and in need of massive help from KONY 2012 people to reform this tradition to catch up with the luminosity of secular West.

I know that there is a trouble with Islam today, and everyday.  I also want to have gay-friendly mosques where people can just go have a beer after the optional prayer services, ‘cause that is what it means to be a progressive Muslim.

Because all the secret jihadists (and the FBI people who have infiltrated them) just want to impose this Shari’a thing on us, and for some reason all that beer drinking and hooking up seems to be frowned upon in that Shari’a thing.

With that, and in the name of She who is the source of All-Mercy, here are the fruits of my search.    If anyone wants to put me in touch with Fox News or MEMRI, please do so, I’ll recite all these on camera—just contact my agent, and he can tell you my appearance fee.   I know that we are in need of a Muslim Reformation, and I am working on my “Martin Luther of Islam” speech.    I can’t quite make it up to ML’s 95 theses, but I have got a good head start below.   With that, “I give you permission to think freely”:

First, speaking as a Muslim, I am so disappointed in my Muslim brother Barack Hussein Obama.   He eats pork, drinks alcohol, regularly attends church service, had his daughters baptized, has yet to set foot in a mosque since becoming president, kisses AIPAC’s behind, authorizes indefinite detentions, and has seen many Muslims killed by his drone attacks and ongoing wars.   Really, a pathetic Muslim if ever there was one.   I mean, if I wanted a Muslim ruler that would do all the above, I would move back to the Muslim countries where most of the rulers do that kind of stuff anyway, and the food is a little better than here.

Second, I have been so so wrong about Israel. It is a peaceful, peace-loving, just, democratic state, and all criticism of it is just motivated by anti-Semitism.  Israel today is perfect, kind of like America before all the civil rights stuff in the 1960’s came along.   As to those so-called Palestinians who do not want to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, they should just go back where they came from.    (I’m not sure where that is, but I am told it used to be a “land without a people.”)

Third, the Wahhabis are unjustly criticized. We Muslim have messed up Islam, and they are just trying to restore it to its original model of purity.   And I just love the changes they are making to Mecca and Medina, making it so much more traveler friendly.

Fourth, I have been way too defensive in my criticism of the erosion of civil rights and liberties in America. Fact of the matter is that we Muslims should just be honored to be allowed in this country, to consumer here, and even if we live here as second (or third) class citizen, it’s better to be here than whatever country my parents came from.

Fifth, I recognize that the Islamophobes are right, and there is something inherently vile and violent about Islam.

When the Prophet Muhammad was doing the prophet thing in the 7th century, he was so sneaky smart that he immediately set about opposing the whole notion of modernity that would emerge in the 17th century.  How clever he must have been… It’s like he was a thousand years ahead of his time.    We backwards Muslims have to catch up with the times, because all 1.5 billion Muslims are really in a time warp, living in the 7th century.   It’s like Islam is a breach in the time-space continuum.    It makes perfect sense to me to have people who hate a religion be the ones to help guide us as to how to reform Islam.   So I’ll be sure to tune into Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Franklin Graham, and others.

Sixth, I testify that Sufism is just a perversion of the true Islam of the Pious Forefathers (al-salaf al-salih), and I pledge my allegiance to the driest, most boring, most hierarchical reading of Islam there is.   All this talk of love and beauty and being a child of Muhammad’s soul and coming to see God face-to-face, love and service to humanity, blah blah, people are just trying to make us think that there is something beautiful and mystical about Islam.   Don’t’ fall for it.  Remember:  Order, Discipline, Fitna (strife), Bid’a (heretical innovation), Haram (forbidden)…

Seventh, I pledge myself to making sure that Muslims, Hispanics, Gays/Lesbians, women, the Poor, immigrants, the Radical Left, everybody on the coasts, and everybody who doesn’t look like me, talk like me, worship in my church, can leave this country so us proper Americans can have it all to ourselves.  And it would be a much less crowded country.   Love it or leave it baby!

And one last one:  We civilized people have to protect Muslim women from Muslim men.  And from themselves.  Because Muslim women cannot and should not be trusted to make choices for their own lives, their own bodies.   So it’s up to us enlightened people to tell them what to wear, how to dress, and what not to wear.   Make sure that we don’t make the mistake of having them tell us what their attire means to them, because they have all been brainwashed.

Ok…. April’s Fools!!!     :-)

Take a deep breath.   All the above is a little April Fool’s satire about a very serious subject.

It would be all funny, except that as absurd as—I truly pray—all the above sounds, this is actually much of what we hear in today’s public discourse about Islam, from both wannabe Muslim reformers such as Zuhdi Jasser and Irshad Manji (who all too often have no grounding in Islam) to ex-Muslims (Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali), to Islamophobes (Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes) who repeatedly tell Muslims about the true meanings of their tradition.   I hope that satire can be a way to recognize the absurdity of the whole situation.

We need to do better than this.   May we all be participants in the redemption of our traditions, our communities, our nations.   That redemption can only come about through love and participation in a tradition and a community, not by standing outside and voicing one’s shame.    Love transforms us towards the better and more beautiful.    May our faith traditions, our nations, be redeemed through this love and service to humanity.

Glenn Greenwald: When Killer is One of Us, We Find Excuses

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

In this Aug. 23, 2011 Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System photo, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.  (Credit: AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock)

In this Aug. 23, 2011 Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System photo, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. (Credit: AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock)

Discussing the motives of the Afghan shooter

(Salon.com)

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on March 11 to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including nine children:

† He was drunk.

† He was experiencing financial stress.

† He was passed over for a promotion.

† He had a traumatic brain injury.

† He had marital problems.

† He suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty.

† He saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre.

Et cetera.

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.

Even when Muslims who engage in such acts toward Americans clearlyand repeatedly explain that they did it in response to American acts of domination, aggression, violence and civilian-killing in their countries, and even when the violence is confined to soldiers who are part of a foreign army that has invaded and occupied their country, the only cognizable motive is one of primitive, hateful evil. It is an act of Evil Terrorism, and that is all there is to say about it.

Note, too, that in the case of Sgt. Bales (or any other cases of American violence against Muslims), people have little difficulty understanding the distinction between (a) discussing and trying to understand the underlying motives of the act (causation) and (b) defending the act (justification). But that same distinction completely evaporates when it comes to Muslim violence against Americans. Those who attempt to understand or explain the act — they’re responding to American violence in their country; they are traumatized and angry at the continuous deaths of Muslim children and innocent adults; they’ve calculated that striking at Americans is the ony way to deter further American aggression in their part of the world — are immediately accused of mitigating, justifying or even defending Terrorism.

There is, quite obviously, a desperate need to believe that when an American engages in acts of violence of this type (meaning: as a deviation from formal American policy), there must be some underlying mental or emotional cause that makes it sensible, something other than an act of pure hatred or Evil. When a Muslim engages in acts of violence against Americans, there is an equally desperate need to believe the opposite: that this is yet another manifestation of inscrutable hatred and Evil, and any discussion of any other causes must be prohibited and ignored.

* * * * *

I’ll be speaking at several events over the next few weeks. For now, I’ll note two: (1) this Thursday, March 22, in Philadelphia, I’ll be speaking at the University of Pennsylvania, at 5:00 pm, on “Endless War and the Erosion of Civil Liberties in the Age of Terrorism”; it is free and open the public, and event information is here(2) on Thursday, April 12, in Ottawa, Canada, at 7:00 pm, I’ll be speaking at an event coordinated by long-time commenter Bill Owen, and in attendance will be the heroicMaher Arar; ticket and event information is here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be speaking in Seattle, Chicago and Washington, D.C. and will post details as those dates approach. Finally, this Friday night, I’ll be on Real Time with Bill Maher.

 

UPDATE: From today’s issue of Reader’s Express, the Washington Post‘s publication for Metro riders:

Can you even imagine what would happen to someone who wrote or published an article like this about a Muslim killer of Americans?

 

UPDATE II: I have an Op-Ed in The Guardian today about the removal by the U.S. military of the accused shooter from Afghanistan.

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Asra Nomani in The Daily Beast: Spy on White People

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2012 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from avari)

By Haroon Moghul

So, Asra Nomani writes an(other) embarrasing example of self-hatred for The Daily Beast, applauding law enforcement’s apparent targeting of Muslims throughout the Greater New York City area. Her essay is riddled with simple errors, clear misperceptions of how law and constitutionalism function, an inability to process profiling, and some faulty logic, perhaps the finest instance of which is here:

Indeed, just as we need to track the Colombian community for drug trafficking and the Ku Klux Klan for white extremists, I believe we should monitor the Muslim community because we sure don’t police ourselves enough.

The first part of her sentence, about Colombians, is actually right on (by her silly logic); the second part contradicts her own logic (she can call for profiling some Latinos, but she doesn’t have the courage to apply her racializing logic to white America), and everything after “I believe” speaks to how little Asra actually knows anything about the Muslim community, as well as the several seconds of your life which you could have done something better with.For law enforcement to go after white extremism the way it seems to be going after Muslims (at least, with respect to the NYPD), they wouldn’t be going after the KKK, as Asra suggests–unless Asra means to suggest that Muslim student organizations at Yale and UPenn are offshoots of al Qaeda. Law enforcement would instead have to spy on as many white institutions (churches, civic clubs, student organizations, etc.) as they could.

Because, of course, by Asra’s article’s painful logic, a person’s whiteness is a sufficiently significant lead to get law enforcement to pay attention to him, just as a Muslim institution is, on the grounds of its Muslimness, a target of suspicion sufficient to merit law enforcement’s full attention. This is a point Amy Davidson made far more succinctly in an excellent post at The New Yorker:

There is a difference between chasing clues and treating Islam, in and of itself, as a lead.

Does Asra mean to suggest we should be spying on white folks indiscriminately, because they, like the KKK, are white? Should we spy on white Muslims twice, since they are white and Muslim, and so somehow become extremists that hate themselves. I spoke about this issue on a far more relevant basis to Welton Gaddy of State of Belief Radio.

By the way, I’ll be at Fordham’s Manhattan campus today (Monday, March 5th), speaking about the long history of Islam and especially Islam in America. It’s free, and I’ll try to make it fun, educational, and enlightening. We’ll be starting at 6pm at Fordham’s South Lounge inside 113 West 60th Street, right off Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The event ends at 8pm.

Haroon Moghul is a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. He is an Associate Editor and columnist at Religion Dispatches and writes for the Huffington Post.

FBI Betrayed Us: Iowa Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by loonwatch
Arvinder Singh, who has been attending Des Moines mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.
Arvinder Singh, who has been attending Des Moines mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.

FBI Betrayed Us: Iowa Muslims

IOWA – The Muslim community in Iowa is frustrated and angry over FBI’s sending informants into mosques to spy on worshippers, seething with a sense of betrayal that has undermined trust between American Muslims and security agencies.

“That was really surprising, very sad that somebody would come or the FBI or Homeland Security would send somebody here to pretend to be Muslim and try to find out what goes on here,” Dr. Hamed Baig, president of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, told CNN on Friday, February 3.

“I feel there is no need for that.”

In Des Moines, Iowa, a small yet diverse Muslim community is divided into four mosques from Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, among other nations.

Frustration among members of the Muslim community began after 42 year-old Arvinder Singh, who has been attending their mosques over the past seven years, was revealed to be an FBI informant.

Charged with “selling or transferring precursor substances for an unlawful purpose” in March of 2002, Singh said he was approached by FBI officers who told him, “‘You look Middle Eastern, and we need your help for the war against terror.’”

Singh, currently in Hardin County Jail in Iowa, where he’s been awaiting deportation, said the FBI came to him with a simple tradeoff:  We’ll help you get your citizenship if you help us get some terrorists.

Having no information about Islam, Indian-born Singh was surprised to be approached by FBI agents.

“I was surprised. I said, ‘Me? I have no idea about this’ And they said ‘We’ll train you. You’ll get used to it. We’ll make you go and do some work for us.’”

Later on, he assumed a Muslim identity, Rafik Alvi, and went into the mosques pretending to be interested in converting.

He says sometimes the FBI gave him pictures of persons of interest and he would confirm that they were at the mosque.  On a few occasions, Singh says he taped his conversations with congregants.

“They wanted me to go investigate some people in the area,” Singh told CNN in a jailhouse interview.

“See what they’re doing, who they’re meeting. Who’s their family member, who’s attending them, what they are talking about. That kind of work.”

Anger 

The mosque infiltration has angered Iowa Muslim community, saying that the FBI just took a step backwards in building trust with the Muslims in his community.

“To know that somebody made an intrusive entry into the masjid for purpose other than prayer, or other than socializing or taking care of anybody who is in need makes me very much nervous and embarrassed, too, that I belong to a community where we have a member who has come for some other purpose,” Anis Rehman, executive board treasurer of the Islamic Center of Des Moines and a college professor, told CNN.

“But later when we saw that he was not actually a member but a pretender then it made me more angry,” Rehman said.

Rehman says the idea of a FBI informant in their tiny mosque is not only offensive but baffling.

“I find that to send an impostor into our community which is so small where not only we know each other but (where) the law enforcement agents can perhaps pick each one of us by name and by family, I don’t think that the incident [on] 9/11 could warrant such action in a small community like ours.”

Since 9/11, Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.

FBI tactic of sending informants into mosques have deteriorated relations with the US Muslim community over the past few years.

In 2009, Muslim groups threatened to suspend all contacts with the FBI over sending informants into mosques.

US Muslims are particularly wary of the FBI’s history of targeting members of their community.

Basim Bakri, another Iowa Muslim, noted that if Singh’s claims are true, the FBI has just destroyed any chances of building trust with the Muslims in his community.

“I think the FBI owe[s] us an apology because they did violate our civil rights,” Bakri said.

“It wasn’t right at all, it wasn’t right from the beginning and they have no right to do that.”