Archive for Burn the Koran day

2010: The Year of Islamophobia

Posted in Feature, Loonwatch Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by loonwatch

2010 has been an unbelievable year! Can we say that we are happy that it is finally over? Only if that means that the wacky anti-Muslim Islamophobia that reached unprecedented and at times demented levels will recede. However, it doesn’t appear as though that will be happening any time soon.

Looking at the year in review we see that right-leaning and populist anti-Muslim/xenophobic organizations and party’s increased their power/influence across Europe while also initiating and passing discriminatory legislation in their countries.

  1. Rise of Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party
  2. EDL (English Defense League)
  3. Sweden Democrats
  4. Switzerland’s banning of Minarets
  5. BZO Austria
  6. Pia Kjaersgaard (DF)
  7. France and the face veil controversy
  8. Belgium’s banning of the face veil
  9. Catalonia face veil proposal

In the United States we saw the convergence and solidifying of a network of Islamophobes across the nation who joined arms with their brethren across the Atlantic ocean. We were also treated to the Republican party’s instrumentalization and usage of Islam for purposes of fear-mongering during the the run-up to the 2010 elections; add to this mosque controversies, hate crimes, anti-Muslim rallies and your run of the mill nuke Mecca suggestion and you had 2010.

The beginning of the year saw a slew of hate crimes, it also saw our piece, “All Terrorists are Muslim…Except the 94% that Aren’t,” go viral and become one of our most popular pieces ever, getting picked up by various mainstream media outlets.

Joseph Stack’s attack

Events picked up shortly after that with Joseph Stack flying his plane into a IRS office kamikaze style and the failure of many, especially on the right to equate the act to terrorism.

Such double standards were consistently exposed by us throughout the year, particularly in our “What if they were Muslim?” segment. We documented the colossal double standards that exist both in media and popular perception when it comes to judging crimes committed by Muslims against those committed by individuals of other faiths. Invariably, when a Muslim commits a crime it is blamed or linked to Islam, whereas if someone else does it his or her faith is not mentioned — even if it was the motivation.

Of course we would be remiss if we did not mention the biggest story of the year; the Cordoba House, i.e. Park51 or as it has come to be known by many, “the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.” This was a story that raged for months and 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.”

The Republicans latched onto this story and attempted to make it the wedge issue that they could use to ride to victory during the elections. A dozen or more candidates incorporated this issue into their platform with some making it their sole selling point, (un)surpirsingly a handful actually came out victorious, most prominently the looniest of them all, Allen West.

This was also the issue that catapulted Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer into their 5 minutes of fame. We had been reporting on these two, their financiers, networks and supporters ever since we started Loonwatch, our pieces on both of these goons especially “Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever” was picked up by mainstream media outlets including the New York Times, Salon.com, Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.

Both Geller and Spencer were irked to no end by this and though they attempted to play the silent game were forced at some point to respond to Loonwatch, but they did so only with ad hominemattack and zero interaction with the substance of our articles. Geller resorted to calling us a “Goebbels-style hate site” while Spencer wished to inflict “100-101 lashes” on Danios who he labeled a “slick liar” while continuing to run-away and evade Loonwatch’s open challenge to a radio debate.

Today the controversy over Park51 is still simmering though the rhetoric and verbiage on it has cooled down quite a bit to the chagrin of Spencer and Geller. The spill over from Park51 left a terrible residue and sparked controversies around the nation.

It seemed that the issue with mosques (i.e. Muslims) was not simply about proximity to “hallowed ground,” but the right to build and freely worship was being challenged all over the country.

  1. Murfreesboro, TN.
  2. Temecula, CA.
  3. Sheepshead Bay
  4. Sheboygan County, Wi
  5. Florence, KY
  6. Selden, LI
  7. Ohio
Ahmed H. Sharif

There are about six more places from our count where mosque controversies were raging, but the above sampling gives you an idea. The worst spillover of the mosque controversy undoubtedly manifested itself with the near fatal stabbing of New York City cab driver Ahmed H. Sharif. Passenger Michael Enright entered his cab, asked him “Are you a Muslim?” and when the cabdriver replied, “Yes,” slashed his throat.

There were other notable Islamophobiapalooza moments during the year as well. For instance Rima Fakih, the first Muslim Miss America drew the ire of right-wingers and Islamophobes who didn’t like seeing a brown lady with the crown, let alone a Mooslim. There was also the South Park/Revolution Muslim controversy and the resultant Everybody Draw Mohammed Day on Facebook which descended into an orgy of bigotry and hatred. Later this would reveal the epic double standards and failure of the moribund perception-makers in the media when contrasted with the way it dealt with the story of Pastor Terry Jones and his wacky Dove Outreach Church’s “International Burn the Koran Day on 9/11″ (Read: Islam and the Media in the Age of Islamophobiapalooza).

The final focal point with which Islamophobes and their cynical cohorts in the Republican party attempted to garner populist support through anti-Muslim fear-mongering was surrounding the buzz word: Sharia’. Sharia’ is the boogey monster that Muslims, 1% of the population of America is going to impose. Forget the fact that most of those advocating this conspiracy theory are themselveswoefully ignorant of the Constitution, a document that they subvert with every statement and move they make. It got so bad that Oklahoma overwhelmingly passed a measure banning Sharia’ which has (thankfully) been overturned for being unconstitutional, it should also have been overturned for being unbelievably stupid.

This leads us to consider the biggest Islamophobic conspiracies of the year, which could be a feature piece on its own:

  1. Sharia take over of the United States
  2. Park51 being a “victory mosque” for “Islamic supremacism”
  3. Barack “Hussein” Obama being a secret “Mooslim”
  4. Muslim Congressional Spy Interns
  5. Rep. Keith Ellison working for Hamas
  6. Google’s “e” as an Islamic crescent

At the end of the day, all hope was not lost. There were many whose eyes were opened and Loonwatch helped by being picked by prominent and diverse bloggers as well as media venues as varying as AlJazeera, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, The Independent, AlArabiya etc. Many concerned citizens spoke out eloquently to reject and counter Islamophobia, our segment “Anti-Loons” vividly  showcased the best of those who opposed bigotry and were sincerely and effectively working to counter hate and ignorance on all levels, especially against Islam and Muslims. Lesley Hazelton’s profound lecture describing her experience with the Quran left us with hope, that those who make an effort may come to see beyond the stereotypes, the ignorance that shackles us and fosters animosity between humanity.

“Part of the problem I think is we imagine that the Quran can be read as we usually read a book. As though we can curl up with it on a rainy day with a bowl of popcorn in reach, as though God, and the Quran is entirely in the voice of God speaking to Muhammad, were just another author on the best-sellers list. Yet it is precisely because so few people read the Quran that it is so easy to quote, that is to misquote, phrases and snippets taken out of context, in what I call the highlighter version, which is the one favored by Muslim fundamentalists and anti-Muslim Islamophobes.” –Lesley Hazelton

 

UK: Terry Jones Invited to EDL Demonstration

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2010 by loonwatch

The alignment of Robert Spencer’s favorite UK organization and the loon pastor of Florida, Terry Jones.

Theresa May pressed to halt visit by anti-Muslim US preacher

(Guardian)

Home secretary Theresa May is under intense pressure to ban controversial anti-Muslim preacher Terry Jones from Britain after far-right activists said he had agreed to address them at a demonstration about “the evils of Islam“.

The English Defence League (EDL) said it was “proud to announce” that the US pastor, who caused outrage with plans to burn the Qur’an on this year’s anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be attending the event in Luton in early February. Jones confirmed that he would be arriving in the UK. The pastor’s website said he intended to visit the EDL’s “biggest demonstration to date” in February. The website stated: “During the protest, Dr Terry Jones will speak against the evils and destructiveness of Islam in support of the continued fight against the Islamification of England and Europe.”

President Barack Obama warned in September that Jones’s planned Qur’an burnings would be a “recruitment bonanza” for al-Qaida and the US state department said it would put the country’s citizens at risk across the world.

Tonight the British anti-extremist campaign, Hope Not Hate, launched its own petition urging May to ban Jones from Britain, while MPs demanded immediate action from the home secretary. Hope Not Hate’s campaign co-ordinator, Nick Lowles, said: “Pastor Jones’s presence in Luton will be incendiary and highly dangerous. He will attract and encourage thousands of English Defence League supporters to take to the streets of Luton.

“Like the EDL, Pastor Jones indiscriminately targets all Muslims and their actions can only lead to increased tensions and racism in our communities. His appearance will rightly cause concern and fear among Muslims across the country.”

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, said he would table an urgent parliamentary motion tomorrow demanding that the pastor be banned from coming into the country.

“We have seen how Pastor Jones, with a very small congregation in Florida, created a firestorm by urging the Qur’an to be burned,” Cruddas said. “We should not allow racial hatred to be whipped up in this manner in our country.”

The EDL announced Jones’s planned visit on its Facebook site today, saying he would attend “our biggest demo to date” and describing it as “the big one”. There are fears that copies of the Qur’an could be burned by extremists.

The last time the EDL marched in Luton, 250 of their supporters went on the rampage through an Asian area of the town. Shop windows were smashed, cars overturned and a number of people were attacked. Thirty-five people were arrested as a result of the violence. Eleven people were arrested yesterday as 500 EDL supporters marched in Peterborough.

“The EDL march in February has the potential to be far worse,” Lowles said. “Only extremists will benefit from his visit and, as we know, extremism breeds hatred and hatred breeds violence. Pastor Jones, a preacher of hate, must be stopped from entering the UK.”

The home secretary has the power to exclude or deport an individual if she thinks their presence in the UK could threaten national security, public order or the safety of citizens. She can also do so if she believes their views glorify terrorism, promote violence or encourage other serious crime.

May has been keen to show that she is tough on extremism. Five weeks after the coalition government came into power, she banned a radical preacher who claimed that “every Muslim should be a terrorist” from entering Britain. Zakir Naik had been due to give a series of lectures at Wembley Arena and in Sheffield in June.

However, visitors from other countries cannot be banned just for having opinions that other people would find offensive. In the past, May has said the powers can only be used in “very serious” cases. She has already acted against the EDL, banning a march in Leicester in November.

News of Jones’s planned visit comes as the head of the police intelligence unit on domestic extremism reveals that the EDL and related splinter groups have become his biggest concern.

Adrian Tudway, the national co-ordinator for domestic extremism, told the Observer: “We look at the extreme right and left, but currently our biggest single area of business are the various groups which call themselves defence leagues. These defence leagues can be found across England.”

The unit is monitoring a “number of individuals” connected to extreme rightwing groups, details of which are disseminated to local police forces.

At the height of the controversy over Jones’s threat to burn the Qur’an, effigies of the pastor were burned in Afghanistan and there was widespread condemnation across the Muslim world. Jones is a Pentecostalist who bases his theology on the literal text of the Bible. He runs the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Centre, which objects to Islam because it “teaches that Jesus is not the son of God, therefore taking away the saving power of Jesus and leading people straight to Hell”.

 

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.

 

Jon Stewart on Islamophobiapalooza

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by loonwatch

Stewart takes on the inanity that is the media and the absurdity that is disinformation central, Fox News. Lately the Islamophobes have been in a tizzy over Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s interview on CNN, claiming that he made a threat against America, Stewart exposes their fallacy.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Islamophobiapalooza
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:358966
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

 

2 Tennessee Pastors Burn Korans

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by loonwatch

The originator of the Burn a Koran day, Pastor Terry Jones based his vile act on Acts 19:19 which stated that the early Christians burned the books of some who practiced witch-craft. Terry Jones backed down from his threat to burn the Koran because he said he received a sign from God not to do it. However, some other ministers went ahead with it.

2 ministers burn Quran in Tennessee backyard

SPRINGFIELD — A Florida pastor’s threat to burn Islam’s holy book on the anniversary of 9/11 set off a nationwide furor and incited Muslim anger as far away as Afghanistan, but the incendiary plan ended quietly in the backyard of a home in Springfield.

After a week that included warnings that burning the Quran would endanger American troops overseas, a personal phone call from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and an appeal from President Barack Obama to listen to “those better angels,” the Rev. Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., relented and canceled his plans.

But the Rev. Bob Old vowed to stick with his plan to burn the Quran.

On Saturday, despite the national tempest and opposition from conservative Christian leaders including Middle Tennessee pastors, Old carried out his plan.

But for all the controversy and hype, his Quran burning took place in front of just a handful of people, most of them from the media.

Old and the Rev. Danny Allen stood together in Old’s backyard, answering what they say was a message from God.

The pair soaked two copies of the Quran and one other Islamic text with lighter fluid, ignited them and watched the books disintegrate into ashes on the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.

Old acknowledged that aside from Allen he had little other support, even from his family.

“I do this without the blessings of others,” he said.

Old did not address his critics directly, but he said that the Christian church has failed the people.

“The American people have a great deal to gain and a great deal to lose in supporting the Muslim faith,” Old said. “My belief is that we as a nation are in dangerous territory.”

“This is a book of hate, not a book of love,” Old said, holding the Quran, before setting it afire. “It’s a false book, it’s a false prophet (Muhammad) and it’s false Scripture.”

Then the two conducted what Old called a “peaceful demonstration” with little fanfare. Eight journalists gathered in Old’s backyard during the burning.

3 Protest Burning

Three protesters stood across the street from Old’s home, holding signs that read “My husband fights terrorism and your actions perpetuate it” and “Proud of my country but ashamed of my neighbors.”

Ashley Parsons of Fort Campbell said she protested to show support for her husband, Matthew, who is serving in Afghanistan.

“It’s been said by our military leaders and the president that these sorts of things cause harm to our troops over there,” Parsons said. “Why would someone take a national tragedy and make it controversial? It’s tragic.”