Archive for CAIR

Muslims Meet Restaurant Owner: Change His Mind through Dialogue

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

Many, and I would venture to say most anti-Muslim bigots have never met a Muslim in their life.

Usually, when you meet an individual from a group that you have demonized and dehumanized you’re likely to drop your prejudiced attitude. Feelings of embarrasment, shame and guilt may surface, causing you to reflect and ponder on your actions.

It seems as if Michael Pollice, who posted a sign saying “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing” has had a genuine change of heart after meeting local Muslims. The fact that he was getting a lot of negative attention might have had something to do with it as well:

Domenico’s Owner Takes Down Controversial Sign, Apologizes

by Jessica Sinichak (Cranberry Patch)

After the controversial sign he posted in front of Domenico’s Ristorante in Cranberry caused a stir in the community (including on the Cranberry Patch site), owner Michael Pollice has had a change of heart.

“I like to push stuff as far as it can go,” he said. “I will never do that again, because it hurts people.”

Pollice, who is known in the community for his thought-provoking—and sometimes controversial—signs, erected a sign last week that said “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing.”

The sign, which received local—and even national—media coverage ignited a firestorm of responses that ranged from support of Pollice’s message—which he said was a joke—to defense of First Amendment rights to downright outrage and disgust.

In just a few days time, Cranberry Patch received close 100 responses from readers giving their opinion on the issue. Many threatened to boycott the restaurant.

According to Pollice—who said business at the restaurant actually increased—the responses at first inspired him to poke back (which he did in the comment section of the Cranberry Patch article) and to push the envelope even further. By Saturday, a new sign he posted in front of the restaurant read, “If This Sign Offends You, Call a Dead Soldier’s Parents to Complain.”

Then a phone call changed his mind.

Pollice said Asim Kokan, a board member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked him Wednesday for a face-to-face get together to talk about the sign.

Pollice agreed to the meeting, which also was attended by Kazim Reza, a member of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh and a local realtor, Scott Rudolph, a pastor with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin Park, and Donna McNamara, an active member with the North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition.

Pollice said he had never before spent time with Muslims, and doing so changed his attitude. After explaining he thought of the sign as a joke, he and the visitors got along fine.

“Those guys were great,” he said. “They could have been jerks to me.”

Pollice added he apologized numerous times to the group—and even offered to hold a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit a new mosque for the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. The association currently rents a space in Wexford.

“I think it was good thing for me,” Pollice said of the meeting. “I’m better for the experience.”

Unsure at first of what to expect, Reza said he also was pleasantly surprised at the meeting.

“He was very calm and very apologetic for hurting the feelings of Muslims and others,” he said of Pollice.

The McCandless resident—who moved from India to the United States in 1954 to attend college—said the group learned about the Domenico’s sign from an email a woman originally sent to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh that was forwarded to other mosques around the area.

“She felt is was very, very inappropriate,” Reza said of the emailer. “She felt hurt. She felt it was totally uncalled for.”

Part of CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, which is why the group—which meets up for North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition events— scheduled the meeting with Pollice. Reza also invited anyone with an interest in learning more about Islam to attend prayers at MAP’s mosque in Wexford.

“We do not stop anybody. Anybody can come,” he said. “You only have to follow the basic disciplines of the mosque.”

As for Pollice, he said the incident wouldn’t deter him from posting quirky signs in the future. By Thursday, he had a new sign up that he said shouldn’t offend anyone—except maybe marine life. It reads, “Dolphins are Just Sharks Who Watch Glee.”

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More ‘Anti-Islam’ Courses at US Military, AlJazeera Reveals

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2012 by loonwatch

AlJazeera uncovered another “anti-Islam” class in the US military. The class seems to have been lifted directly from the talking points of extremists such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer:

US Military Under Fire for ‘Anti-Islam Class’

(AlJazeera)

The United States military has called for a review of all its training classes after receiving criticism for a course taught to senior officers that allegedly encouraged war against Islam.

The controversial class presented slides that accused dozens of Islamic groups, many widely recognised as mainstream advocacy groups, of infiltrating the US media, education system, government and military.

One slide titled “The Muslim Brotherhood and Violence” showed a photo of an al-Qaeda beheading, erroneously conflating the two groups.

Through the slides and other presentations, the course created a picture of a US government co-opted by subversive Muslim elements.

Al Jazeera’s Josh Rushing reports from Washington.

Anti-Muslim Hate Comes to Hillsborough County School Board Meeting

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Parents, and Adults attend Hillsborough School Board Meeting

Parents, and Adults attend a Hillsborough School Board Meeting

Hillsboroughbilly County, Florida–

In November 2011, a Tampa, Fla., high school invited a Muslim lecturer, Hassan Shibly to speak about Islamic history and tradition to college level advanced placement students. When anti-Muslim extremists David Caton and Terry Kemple found out, they brought dozens of Islamophobes to spread lies, fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims at school board meetings (H/T: A. Lessirey):

David Caton was described in a Tampa Bay Times column as a “theo thug,” and a “Biblical bully” with a history of anti-Muslim activism:

Perhaps the best way to get your hands around this latest example of theo-thugs gone wild is to think of local sanctimonious mouth foamer David Caton as the North Korea of faux piety.

For whenever Caton feels he’s fallen off the publicity-hound radar and isn’t being paid enough attention, the vicar of vituperativeness feels compelled to engage in some really daffy behavior as if to reassure the world he’s just as loopy as ever.

Well, brother and sisters — he’s back! It was this man of fleece who just a few weeks ago managed to persuade Lowe’s, a Fortune 500 company, to drop its sponsorship of All-American Muslim on TLC.

Caton got his sackcloth in a wad because the series revealed Muslims in America are quite capable of living just as stultifyingly boring, law-abiding lives as Protestants, rather than spending their days assembling car bombs.

And Lowe’s fell for it, acquiescing to the Islamaphobic demands of a single illiterate hate-monger who should have about as much influence on the affairs of the day as the defense minister of Groucho Marx’s Freedonia.

Now, fresh off his Florida Family Association campaign to make Lowe’s look like corporate America’s answer to a cowering puppy that just piddled on the kitchen floor, Caton, the Ernst Blofeld of the Bible, has set his myopic sights on Kelly Miliziano, a history teacher at Steinbrenner High School, who committed the unpardonable, unforgiveable sin of (dare it be said) educating her students.

For several years Miliziano has invited speakers representing various faiths to meet with her classes. The idea here is to expose students to a range of ideas and beliefs, which in the end will serve to make them better informed, discerning, well-rounded, independent-thinking, educated members of society.

Miliziano obviously posed a threat to Caton’s recruitment efforts. After all, if these kids learn stuff, well, the next thing you know, they’ll figure out obtuse gasbags like Caton are full of hooey. And that’s bad for the bigotry business, which needs a steady stream of lemmings to keep the flames of malevolence burning.

Another Tampa Bay Times article described the school board meeting as one of “did-I-just-hear-that” intolerance. It went on to criticize Caton and Kemple, saying,

What’s not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What’s not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

Such rhetoric is unhelpful and it seems that students who actually participated in the class don’t think it was a big deal.

But for those who believe they are on a Crusade against Islam, such as Caton and Kemple the Muslim speaker’s presentation represents the apocalypse!

Fearmonger Does Little to Improve Conversation on Terrorism

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Fearmonger does little to improve conversation on terrorism

by John L. Smith

For Steve Emerson, the danger is very clear and very present: A surprising number of American officials and institutions are in the tank to Islamic extremists and their handmaidens.

Emerson accuses the Obama administration of being infiltrated by radical followers of Islam inside our own country and throughout the world.

That’s right. Infiltrated.

Emerson, the executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, spent an hour last week with the Review-Journal editorial board and was accompanied by Elliot Karp, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas. In the short time Emerson spent at the newspaper, he managed to indict a number of law enforcement institutions and officers as patsies for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic extremists in our midst.

For one, there’s the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Emerson said the FBI is so focused not offending Islamist and Arabic groups with allegiances to Hamas and Hezbollah that it’s getting in the way of anti-terrorism investigations.

“The agents on the ground understand exactly what’s going on,” Emerson says cryptically of the bureau’s political atmosphere. When asked to elaborate, he replies, “I have to protect my sources.”

Forgive me, but I thought the FBI was doing a pretty good job on the terrorism front. Turns out they’re falling down on the job.

It’s OK, though. Emerson has confidence in his own ability to spot the terrorists among us. He brags that his sources are “sometimes even better than the bureau.”

He adds that his field intelligence was superior to the FBI’s in part because “informants are more likely to work for us.”

That’s not all. He also has the sneaking suspicion that a talk he was scheduled to give to a group of CIA operatives was derailed by the Obama administration. Who knew President Barack Obama had enough hours in the day to dispatch CIA Director David Petraeus to teach Emerson a lesson?

Then there’s Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. In 2010, Baca was honored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has been linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. CAIR also actively challenges Muslim stereotypes and presents the Islamic side of issues.

“He believes CAIR is a wonderful organization,” Emerson says sarcastically. ” … I’m not calling him evil, or fundamentally stupid, but he is in bed with the bad guys.”

Obviously, Emerson isn’t shy about pointing fingers. Nor is he simply a sign-waving conspiracy theorist. His allies on the right consider him a Cassandra who warns us about the dangers of Islamic extremism at home and abroad, and especially as it affects Israel. He pens op-ed pieces in major newspapers, is often quoted on television and radio talk shows, is cheered on the speaking circuit, and has a loyal following on his website. He is a leading firebrand from the school of thought that goes something like, “Not all Muslims are plotting terrorist acts, just most of them.”

He claims he is the victim of “a fatwa by NPR” largely because National Public Radio officials don’t invite him on their programs these days. But you can still catch plenty of Emerson’s opinions in a variety of media and networks.

Lest you think he’s just a right-wing extremist out to frighten people, Emerson repeats often that his work is dangerous and he has received many threats. He says things like “I’ve got to look over my shoulder every day,” and “If I had a wife and kids, I couldn’t do this.”

Certainly not. He made it sound a little dangerous just sitting in the room with him.

That’s Emerson’s problem whether you believe he’s full of facts or fudge. His hyperbolic rhetoric plays well on the fundraising circuit, but it does nothing to forward the understanding of complex issues.

The Middle East is a political tinderbox. There’s heated talk of possible U.S. and Israeli military intervention in Iran to halt its development of nuclear technology.

At the risk of becoming part of a vast conspiracy to silence Steve Emerson, that complex conversation isn’t improved by his shouts of conspiracy at the highest levels of our government.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.

Anti-Sharia Bill Dropped In Minnesota

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2012 by loonwatch

Update on the ‘anti-Sharia’ legislation, this time from Minnesota:

Anti-Sharia Bill Dropped In Minnesota

(RadianceWeekly)

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) on Mar 5 announced that a lawmaker in that state’s legislature will drop a proposed “anti-Sharia” bill written using a template provided by an anti-Islam extremist. That announcement came following a news conference CAIR-MN held on Mar 5 with interfaith leaders to challenge the threat to religious freedom posed by the bill. In announcing his decision to drop the bill, Republican State Senator Dave Thompson said: “It was never my intent to introduce legislation that was being targeted to any one group.”

“We thank Senator Thompson for dropping this discriminatory bill and hope his responsible decision sends a message to all those elected officials in other states who are supporting similarly unconstitutional legislation,” said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Coordinator MunazzaHumayun.

According to media reports, Thompson’s anti-Islam bill (S2281) was a “boilerplate copy-pasted verbatim from a far right policy group.” Last week, CAIR’s national office released a community toolkit designed to assist those seeking to preserve America’s ideal of religious pluralism in the face of similar unconstitutional anti-Sharia bills that have been introduced in more than 20 states nationwide.CAIR’s toolkit includes background on David Yerushalmi, the anti-Islam extremist who authored the template for the anti-Sharia bills.

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief, Pledges No NYPD-Esque Spying On Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2012 by loonwatch

(H/T: BBK)

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Chief, Pledges No NYPD-Esque Spying On Muslims

(The HuffingtonPost)

OAK BROOK TERRACE, Ill. — For the first time in public, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy promised his department will never conduct blanket surveillance of Muslims like the New York Police Department did in Newark, N.J., when he was chief there.

McCarthy addressed hundreds of Muslims on Saturday at the annual banquet of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, a civil rights organization. He said police would follow leads in criminal cases, but the department “does not and will not conduct blanket surveillance and profiling of any community in the city of Chicago.”

“We are deeply committed to respecting the civil rights of all Chicagoans,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have tried to reassure Chicago-area Muslims since The Associated Press revealed the NYPD’s spying in Newark. The AP reported last month that in 2007, the NYPD’s secretive Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing mosques and eavesdropping on Muslim businesses. Earlier, the AP reported that the department was conducting similar surveillance in New York, building databases showing where Muslims live, shop and pray.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vigorously defended the operations, saying police only follow up on allegations. But civil rights advocates and other critics say the NYPD’s 60-page report on the Newark operations showed Muslims were targeted solely because of their religion.

McCarthy, who was also a top officer in the NYPD at one point, told the AP that his former colleagues in New York notified him as a courtesy that they were sending plainclothes officers to Newark, but none of his officers participated in the operation. New York police say Newark leaders cooperated with the effort.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended his department’s operations again Saturday in a speech at Fordham Law School, as about 60 protesters marched outside. Addressing New Jersey officials’ complaints that the NYPD overstepped its bounds by not fully informing them of officers’ activities, Kelly noted 746 Garden State residents were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

“If terrorists aren’t limited by borders and boundaries, we can’t be either,” Kelly said. “It is entirely legal for the Police Department to conduct investigations outside of city limits, and we maintain very close relationships with local authorities.”

McCarthy met privately last week with community leaders in Chicago to discuss the issue, but he hadn’t stated publicly whether he supported the NYPD’s tactics.

He was warmly received at Saturday’s banquet, held in a Chicago suburb. CAIR Executive Director Ahmed Rehab praised McCarthy for his “heartfelt” sincerity and taking the initiative to attend, and the audience applauded when the chief said police need to work with the city’s communities to prevent crime and terrorism.

“We are focused on our mission of making Chicago the safest city for every resident in every neighborhood, but we can’t do it alone,” McCarthy said. “We must have a positive relationship with the wonderfully diverse communities that comprise Chicago and that make this great country of America as strong as it is today.”

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat and immigration advocate, also addressed the group, lashing out at the NYPD’s spying methods.

“It makes no sense and is not sensible law enforcement,” Gutierrez said.

McCarthy wrapped up his remarks by saying he is a 9/11 survivor, who was in a command post near the World Trade Center until the towers fell. He told the audience that 13 of the 23 officers lost by the NYPD were personal friends.

“And I want to tell you this,” he said. “In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam.”