Archive for CNN

In Breivik, troubling echoes of West’s view of Islam

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by loonwatch

Breivik

An excellent analysis.  (H/T: islamispeace)

In Breivik, troubling echoes of West’s view of Islam

By Timothy Stanley, CNN

The trial of mass murderer Anders Breivik has confirmed one thing so far: He seems quite mad. Looking plump and dumb, with a slightly receding hairline, the Norwegian gave a right-wing salute as he entered the courtroom and smirked his way through CCTV footage of his handiwork.

Breivik claims that he killed 77 people as an act of self-defense against the Islamification of Norway, that he is a member of the Knights Templar and part of an “anticommunist” resistance to multiculturalism. Reading his insane manifesto, it is tempting to dismiss him as a nut with a gun.

Nevertheless, there’s no denying the political context to what Breivik did. Since 9/11, fringe and mainstream politicians in Europe and America have spoken of Islam as incompatible with Western values. Breivik quoted many of them in his manifesto. This is not to say that he took direct inspiration from those public figures, or that they bear personal responsibility for his crimes. But Breivik’s paranoia does conform to a popular — wholly negative — view of the twin problems of Islam and multiculturalism. Tragically, it is a view that few mainstream politicians have been willing to challenge.

Breivik makes two false claims. The first is that Islam is ethically inferior to Christianity and cannot exist peacefully within the secular democracies of the post-Enlightenment West. That is the open view of the Dutch Party for Freedom, the French National Front, the English Defense League and the Finnish True Finns. It was implicit in Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s aversion to the building of mosques. We might also infer it from much of the testimony presented at Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings into the radicalization of American Muslim youth. King has opined that there are “too many mosques” in the United States and that roughly 80% of American Muslims are radical.

The mistake being made by all these people is to conflate a tiny minority of political Islamists — whose precise ideology has only really emerged in the last 30 years — with the entire global and historical community of Muslims. It is true that Islam has never undergone a total Reformation, but it has experienced mini-enlightenments. The most celebrated is the Islamic Golden Age (750- 1258), centered in Baghdad, in which the arts and sciences flourished in a manner that left Dark Ages Europe far behind. (You can also find humanist poetry and art in Persia and even a small amount of erotica in Northern Africa.)

Islam never outright rejected scientific empiricism but instead tried to reconcile and integrate it into its religious beliefs, with a surprising amount of debate about the primacy of either faith or reason. It preached that divine revelation could be found in other religions and so practiced tolerance in the lands that it conquered — a kind of Islamic multiculturalism. One of the giants of the European Enlightenment, Voltaire, favorably opined that Islam was more tolerant in its treatment of minorities than Christianity (consider the comparative persecution of Catholics in Ireland or of Jews in Spain).

Today, Islamic society looks different in every region where it is found. The royal families of Saudi Arabia have promoted ultra-conservative Wahhabism, which discourages personal vice, idolatry, veneration of saints, etc. The Bangladeshis prefer the more mystical Sufism, which places greater emphasis upon a subjective experience of Allah and is traditionally more tolerant of human foibles and dissent.

Almost every part of the Islamic world has produced progressive movements, some headed by women. Pakistan gave the world Benazir Bhutto and Indonesia Megawati Soekarnoputri. In all cases, the political development of Muslim countries has been as much shaped by poverty and the legacy of colonialism as it has Islam. Iran might have continued on a course toward liberalism had the West not sponsored an anti-democratic coup in 1953.

In short, there is no monolithic Islamic history or experience, which makes it hard or even disingenuous to talk about the challenge that Islam as a whole poses to the West. Put another way, no American would want anyone to think that the Westboro Baptist Church spoke for all of Christianity.

Breivik’s second, equally fallacious claim is that Islam’s growth in the West has been encouraged by liberal elites as a means to destroy traditional Christian culture. Indeed, multiculturalism has been strongly critiqued by two British prime ministers – Tony Blair and David Cameron. Cameron said that it had “failed” because it did not demand submission to the liberal principles of gender and sexual equality.

But multiculturalism is not a Marxist ideology carefully plotted by the “Saul Alinksy radicals” so loathed by Newt Gingrich. Rather, it was free-market economics and globalization that caused the mass migration of Muslims from East to West — and multiculturalism was simply a policy response. The aim was to protect the cultural integrity of both host and guest populations by allowing them separate spaces in which to develop.

Far from intending to threaten the religious or civil liberties of the majority Christian population (which remains vastly superior in numbers), the goal was to create a common framework of laws but otherwise leave everyone to their own devices. If Christianity has declined in the West, it’s the fault of the Christians who stopped going to church — not the small groups of Muslims quietly attending their local mosque.

And yet Muslims in Western countries now live under the pressures of anti-terrorist surveillance and social ostracism. They are forced to defend their Britishness, their Frenchness or their Americaness — even if they are third- or fourth-generation citizens of those countries. Breivik’s attack has raised the threat level against the West’s Muslims: They are now the target of our politically engaged sociopaths.

Given how widespread the condemnation of both Islam and multiculturalism is across the West, perhaps it is apt to describe Breivik as a symptom of Western psychological angst. It is a condition of neurosis about decline and paranoia about foreign invasion that is in desperate need of remedy.

Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the new book “The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan.

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.”

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by loonwatch

If you didn’t know by now, Hamas and Hezbollah hablan mucho Español. If you also didn’t know by now, GOP candidates like Rick Perry are retrying to combine the fear of immigrants and Mooslims taking over the country. Apparently, it is a tried and true method to win the GOP candidacy.

Rick Perry: Hamas And Hezbollah Working In Mexico

Texas Gov. Rick Perry warned viewers of CNN’s Republican debate on Tuesday that Hamas and Hezbollah were working out of Mexico. Perry’s answer came in response to a question about securing the southern border.

“We’re seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico as well as Iran with their ploy to come into the United States,” Perry said.

He continued: We know that Hugo Chavez… and the Iranian government has one of the largest — I think their largest embassy in the world is in Venezuela. So the idea that we need to have border security with the United States and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere.”

‘Ex-Terrorist’ Fraud: Walid Shoebat Exposed Part 2

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

The expose on the fraud known as Shoebat continues on CNN:

Robert Spencer, watch out you’re next.

Muslim hearings recall my life in internment camp

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by loonwatch
The Japanese-American Mochida family await relocation to a an internment camp in this photo taken by Dorothea Lange.

Muslim hearings recall my life in internment camp

Editor’s note: Rep. Michael Honda, D-California, is senior Democratic whip and a member of House Budget and Appropriations Committees.

(CNN) — Who would have thought that my early childhood experience in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II would offer such useful insight, 65 years later, in determining the direction America is headed? In reflecting on this week’s second round of Muslim radicalization hearings, planned by New York Rep. Peter King, I feel as if a mirror is being held up to my life, giving value to lessons learned as a child.

Make no mistake. Growing up in internment Camp Amache in Colorado was no joy ride — just look at the pictures. We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind that we were born in America. Never mind that we were patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that we were constructively contributing to the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crime, and no constitutional protection.

We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know that this was a result of “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.” We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say “no.”

We know all this, and yet our country is now, within my lifetime, repeating the same mistakes from our past. The interned 4-year-old in me is crying out for a course correction so that we do not do to others what we did unjustly to countless Japanese-Americans.

 

Camp Amache, Colorado, where Rep. Honda and his family were sent.

This time, instead of creating an ethnic enemy, Rep. King is creating a religious enemy. Because of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of Republican leadership, King is targeting the entire Muslim-American community. Similar to my experience, they are become increasingly marginalized and isolated by our policies.

Never mind that many were born in America and have no allegiance to their ancestors’ native homeland. Never mind that they are patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that they are constructively contributing to the American economy. Regardless of all this, millions of Americans have become the new enemy, with no cause and no crime.

There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.

Rep. Michael Honda

Second, it is counterproductive. King is undermining his own objective. In hosting these hearings, King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has declared, erroneously, that the Muslim-American community does not partner actively enough to prevent acts of violence — or in the case of prisons, extremism. Despite the offensive and fallacious nature of King’s concern, given extensive evidence that contradicts his claim, the Homeland Security chairman’s strategy makes future partnerships unpalatable.

Michael Honda on the day his family was released.

In one fell swoop of his discriminatory brush, King, in his apparent attempt to root out radicalization, marginalizes an entire American minority group, making enemies of them all. To add insult to injury, King has quipped (again, speciously) that America has too many mosques and that extremists run 80 percent of them. We can only hope that Rep. King does not completely undermine all the goodwill established across this country between Muslim Americans and law enforcement officials. You can be certain that few will want to work with King going forward.

Don’t get me wrong. I support the Homeland Security Committee examining “radicalization” in this country, and in our prisons, provided it is a comprehensive review, not a discriminatory one that targets only one subgroup of America. I support the committee examining “violent extremism” in this country, including an examination of militias and the 30,000-plus gun-related deaths that happen each year. I support a committee chair that is keen to keep our homeland secure.

This is not the case with King. These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Michael Honda.

My Take: This just in, Tennessee court says Islam is a religion

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2011 by loonwatch

Anderson Cooper slams Laurie Cardoza Moore on her misinformation.

My Take: This just in, Tennessee court says Islam is a religion

Editor’s Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of “God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World,” is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=bestoftv/2010/09/01/ac.mosque.burning.guests.cnn

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A few months ago I spoke at an interfaith forum at the University of North Alabama. One of the speakers on my panel was Ossama Bahloul, imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

Bahloul began his talk by observing that God must have a sense of humor to have given him a name as problematic as Ossama. But the heart of his talk concerned the compatibility of Islam with American values.

What surprised me about Bahloul, in both his public talk and our private conversations, was his deep and abiding faith in America. Signs at the construction site for his planned mosque had been vandalized twice and federal investigators had determined that a fire at the site was intentionally set. Efforts to build that mosque, appropriate for a growing congregation that had been active in the area for roughly two decades, were met not only with protests but also with a lawsuit.

Follow CNN’s Belief Blog on Twitter

Yet Bahloul continued to believe that what was right would win out in the end.

In the lawsuit, opponents of the mosque argued, among other things, that Islam was not a religion and therefore was not entitled to the free exercise protections and special zoning treatment given to religious organizations. But last week, a Murfreesboro court ruled for the Islamic center.

In his ruling, judge Robert Corlew announced “that Islam is a religion.” The fact that a court of law in the United States would actually have to make such a finding is a sad commentary on where we are today in the United States in terms of religious literacy.

Tennessee imam: My mosque was torched

Islam is not just a religion. It is the second largest religion in the world, with over 1 billion adherents. And as the Murfreesboro case demonstrates, some of these Muslims are our neighbors.

There is still one legal issue unsettled in this case—a technical matter concerning whether a prior proceeding allowing the mosque construction had followed the rules of a local open meetings ordinance. But, as the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro noted on its web page yesterday, the building permit is now in hand.

And, at least for now, the First Amendment is still the law of the land in Tennessee.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

Pamela Geller Called out for Being an “anti-Muslim Bigot” on CNN

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by loonwatch

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ9g4WDIy4o 350 300]

On the heels of the Salon.com article that traced the Ground Zero mosque controversy back to Pamela Geller, CNN ran a special segment on the anatomy of this story. In it Pamela Geller is called out for who she is, an “anti-Muslim blogger.” The evidence for that abounds,

Geller: Obama “is a third worlder and a coward” who’s “appeas[ing] his Islamic overlords.” In an April 13 blog post, Gellerwrote: “Obama is a third worlder and a coward. He will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords. All this is going down while Obama plays footsie at his nuclear nonsense campfire — sucking up to Iran’s enablers while beating up our allies.”

Geller: Liberal Jews are “lost souls,” “self-hating wretches.” In her January 25 Newsmax column, Geller wrote that Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League “has come out against a great and wonderful friend of the Jews, Rush Limbaugh.” Geller added that this “is symptomatic of a deeper problem: I have for years derided Jews in America and the Jewish lay leadership for tolerating and supporting clear and present enemies of the Jewish people among our senior ranks. It is a sickness of the soul.” She further wrote, “The liberal Jew worships at the church of human secularism. These lost souls are married to their liberal dogma” and asked, “Which Jews support deleterious characters like Foxman? Which Jews give blood money to these self-hating wretches?”

Geller on Obama’s Israel policy: “Jews Refuse to Get on Obama’s Trains.” In a post apparently responding to Obama’s opposition to settlement growth, Geller wrote, “Jews refuse to get on Obama’s Trains.” She added: “Obama is pressuring Jews to “evacuate” from parts of Israel? And what Warsaw ghetto does the muhammadan [sic] president have in mind? I think I am gonna hurl. The Jews will not go. The Jews will not submit to this century’s nazis [sic] and Mansourian poser. No way, bloodsuckers. Not again. Never again.”

Geller on transgender Obama appointee: “What a freak show this presidency is.”In a January 4 blog post, Geller responded to a report that Obama named a transgender appointee to a Commerce Department position by stating, “Does Obama know anyone who isn’t wacky, radical, militant, judeophobic, socialist, marxist, pedophilic? …… Does he chill with anyone who is normal? Isn’t there one Marilyn Munster in the family? What a freak show this presidency is.”

Geller: Obama “wants jihad to win. That’s what he is doing.” In an April 1 blog post titled, “”President Jihad: Obama Encouraged Violent Palestinian Muslim protests against Israel,” Geller claimed Obama “is agitating Muslims against Jews” and stated, “The President of the United States is advancing jihad against the oath of office that he took.” Geller also stated in an April 11 post, “President Sarkozy called [Obama] ‘a madman,’ ‘a lunatic.’ Perhaps, I don’t know — but one thing is for sure: Hussein is a muhammadan. He’s not insane ………..he wants jihad to win. That’s what he is doing. Of course, to the western mind, the rational mind, the logical mind, the American mind, that is insane.”

Geller called Democrats “National Socialists.” In a March 13 blog post, Geller wrote, ”National Socialists [Democrats] Obamacare: Sheeps to ‘Slaughter Solution.’” She added, “The buzz on Capitol Hill is that the Democrats are now considering what is being called the ’Slaughter Solution’ that will allow ObamaCare to be signed into law WITHOUT HOUSE MEMBERS EVEN HAVING TO VOTE.

Geller: Senate Democrats supporting health care reform voted “to rape the American people.” In a December 21, 2009, blog post, Geller wrote of the cloture vote for health care reform: “The moochers and the looters, the crooks and degenerates voted at 1 am this morning to rip the constitution to shreds, to rape the American people and to nationalize medicine.” She added that passing the bill on Christmas Eve would be “an act of treason and blasphemy.”

Geller declared “VICTORY!” after Swiss established ban on minaret construction.In a November 29 post to her Atlas Shrugs blog — headlined “VICTORY! SWISS BAN MOSQUE MINARETS IN A LANDSLIDE VOTE” — Pamela Geller commented: “The Swiss have hand [sic] enough. They actually had the spine to take back their country. I wonder how the religion of peaceniks will react…in their usual tolerant and pacifist manner?”

Geller: “Obama Goes Full On Nazi.” Geller headlined a November 9, 2009, post “Obama Goes Full On Nazi: Subject: “Democratic consultant says he got a warning from White House after appearing on Fox News.”

Geller: ” ‘Kick a Jew’ days … are part of this growing evil Evil unleashed with an anti-semite in the White House.” In a December 14, 2009, post, Geller wrote:

It’s as if the floodgates of hell have been thrown open. The moratorium on the holocaust is officially over and all the savages are free to incite, hate and destroy. Clearly those “Kick a Jew” days discussed here and here in schools are part of this growing evil Evil [sic] unleashed with an anti-semite in the White House.

Geller: “Obama is bringing his jihad to Illinois.” In a December 15, 2009, post, Geller responded to reports that Guantanamo Bay detainees may be housed at the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois by stating: “Obama is bringing his jihad to Illinois. Has anyone asked the people of Chicago if they want KSM’s soul mates in their state? Obama’s treachery is breathtaking. A killer’s paradise.”

Geller: “It is well known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth,” and he only visited Pakistan while in college because of “jihad or drugs.” In an August 1, 2009, post, Geller discussed rumors of a Palin divorce being spread by bloggers, including one supposedly tied to CNN and stated:

Let’s understand this. CNN won’t touch the birth certificate issue, the Rezko/Auchi corruption, Obama’s anti-semitism, his ACORN/SEIU ties and corruption, and other legitimate stories that need investigation. But they write fiction about Palin. Daily. So why not tell the truth about Obama and his reported strange sexual predilections? My question is, it is well known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth. Very seedy stuff. Why aren’t they pursuing that story? Find the ho, give her a show! Obama allegedly trafficked in some very deviant practices. Where’s the investigation?

Geller further stated of Obama’s trip to Pakistan during college: “Back in the early 80′s, there were only two reasons to travel to Pakistan. Jihad or drugs. I think he went for the drugs and came back with jihad.”

Geller on Dome of the Rock: “The dome has got to go.” On September 27, 2009, Geller posted an image of Muslims praying at the Dome of the Rock, one of Islam’s holy sites, and stated, “On Erev Yom Kippur, Muslims attack Jews in Jerusalem. The dome has got to go. It is sitting atop the great Jewish temple. The dome has got to go. It’s time to push back and stop indulging evil. Evil is made possible by the sanction you give it. Withdraw your sanction (paraphrasing Rand).”

There is more where this came from, please read our profile of Geller, The Looniest Blogger Ever.The sad thing is that this segment on CNN had Pamela Geller on unopposed. The host, John Roberts, obviously didn’t do his research and didn’t press her enough with the tough questions that Geller should be asked.

Instead, the show in effect gave Pamela Geller an opportunity to lie and cover up the fact that she is a Muslim hater. It is now common to see Pamela in her TV appearances claim that she “loves Muslims,” though the type of love she seems to be talking about is some twisted love in which the only good Muslim is one who doesn’t practice Islam, or believe in the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad.

The fact is she is against the building of mosques. Even in this CNN program she exposes herself by equating terrorists as representatives of “pure Islam,” echoing her friend, Euro-supremacist demagogue Geert Wilders who wants to tax the Hijab, ban Muslim immigration and outlaw Islam in the Netherlands.

The truth is Geller is opposed to the building of mosques, as is clear when she triumphantly claims victory after the Swiss ban minarets and when she calls for the destruction of mosques like the Golden Dome.

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Returns Award to the ADL

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2010 by loonwatch

CNN host returns ADL award over group’s opposition to Ground Zero mosque

(Hat tip: Mondoweiss)

Columnist and TV host Fareed Zakaria has returned a First Amendment award to the Anti-Defamation League in protest of the organization’s opposition to a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Zakaria, a Washington Post columnist and CNN host, has been the editor of Newsweek International, a journal with a circulation of 24 million, for almost a decade. He published a blog on Friday publicly announcing that he had returned the ADL’s Hubert H. Humphrey Freedoms Prize.

“I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation.”

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday that it was saddened and stunned by Zakaria’s decision to return the prize they awarded him in 2005. ADL National Director Abe Foxman said he hoped that Mr. Zakaria “will come to see that ADL acted appropriately” and would reclaim the award bestowed upon him.

The ADL, a U.S. Jewish civil rights group, has said that the location of the planned mosque is counterproductive to the healing process of the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

 

Reza Aslan Rips Republican Zuhdi Jasser on Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Reza Aslan, an Islamic scholar and an accomplished writer, blogger, and emerging popular culture figure was on CNN opposite Zuhdi Jasser, a contributor to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum and a contributing writer for the virulently anti-Islam Family Security Matters.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOp4O9FwzRw 350 300]

 

South Park, the “Four Morons” of Revolution Muslim, and CNN’s Epic Fail

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by loonwatch

south-park1

The creators of South Park–Matt Stone and Trey Parker–decided that they would depict the Prophet Muhammad on the 200th episode of their show.  A radical group known as “Revolution Muslim”–based out of New York–issued thinly veiled threats against the South Park creators, hinting that their misdeed would result in their untimely deaths.  CNN picked up the story, and soon the controversy that the South Park creators so desired came to fruition.

Muslim Americans are irate.  But not so much at South Park.  Rather, the anger is directed at two groups: CNN for their poor journalism and Revolution Muslim for their insanity.  Let’s start with CNN: Anderson Cooper covered the topic for over ten minutes and even found time to interview the famous Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Surprisingly, Cooper did not interview a single Muslim American spokesman, thereby giving–whether he intended it or not–the false impression that Revolution Muslim represents a broad spectrum of the Muslim American population, and that the organization speaks for Islam itself.  In reality, the radical fringe group is composed of no more than two to ten members, and one could easily find similar sized extremist groups belonging to other faiths.

The vast majority of Muslim Americans despise Revolution Muslim and their hate-filled ideology.  The New York mosque the group frequented banned them from setting foot inside the premises, forcing them to preach on the street corner. Many Muslim Americans question whether Revolution Muslim are real Muslims, and instead hold them to be agent provocateurs who wish to smear Islam.  Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Revolution Muslim is “an extreme fringe group that has absolutely no credibility within the Muslim community” and that the “wild and irresponsible things” they say has led to “a strong suspicion [in the Muslim American community] that they’re merely a setup to make Muslims and Islam look bad. ”

Joseph Cohen, an Israeli settler and fundamentalist Jew, was the founder of Revolution MuslimJoseph Cohen, a former Israeli settler and ardent Zionist, is the founder of Revolution Muslim 

There’s reason to believe that.  The founder of the group goes by the name of Yousef al-Khattab, but his real name is Joseph Cohen.  He was born and raised in the United States as a Jew, and holds both American and Israeli citizenship.   In the late eighties, Cohen embraced an ultra-orthodox interpretation of Judaism, and began attending a yeshiva (rabbinical school).  In 1998, Cohen hearkened to the Zionist call, and packed up his bags to relocate to the Israeli Occupied Territories where he became an Israeli settler.  As an ardent and extreme Zionist, Joseph Cohen fell in with the Jewish fundamentalist group Shas, an extreme right-wing political party that believes in flouting international law based on their religious beliefs.  Less than three years later, Cohen “converted” to Islam, moved back to the United States, and founded the most radical Islamic group in the country. [1]His underling Younus Muhammad–the other half of the dynamic duo–is similarly a mysterious “convert” to Islam.

This pair of former extremist Zionists [2]–who together form Revolution Muslim–conveniently read off a script that could only be written by an Islamophobe.  For example, one of the two claimed that the Quran commands terrorism, something that no sincere Muslim would ever say (and a claim that is patently false); those are words that an Islamophobe (or extreme Zionist) would agree with, not a Muslim.  Considering the founder’s background in an extreme right-wing and fundamentalist Israeli political party, Muslim Americans have reason to be suspicious.  Revolution Muslim is just too convenient.  Regardless of whether they are Muslim or agent provocateurs, they are simply inorganic wackos that have no community support whatsoever.  Yet, that hasn’t stopped the media frenzy from portraying two “Muslims” as being representative of millions of Muslim Americans.

Cohen (Khattab) is just selling the mainstream media the narrative they want to hear.  According to these preconceived notions, Muslims lose their minds when the Prophet Muhammad is depicted.  The reasoning is simple enough: Muslims reacted in a frenzy to the Danish cartoons, so doesn’t it just make sense that a similar reaction would take place when South Park depicts the Prophet Muhammad?  However, the reality is that South Park has already portrayed an uncensored Muhammad in 2001, in an episode entitled “Super Best Friends”.  In fact, the image of the Prophet Muhammad was not only used in that episode, but appeared in the opening segment of the show for four entire seasons.  What was the Muslim reaction?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing happened.  No protests, no riots, and no death threats.  The Muslim American community shrugged it off, as they did the recent episode (barring the Revolution “Muslim” group).  Muslim columnist Zahed Amanullah wrote an article for the Guardian entitled “No [Muslim] freak-out over South Park”, saying:

But has there really been any Muslim outrage? The characterisation of Muhammad in a July 2001 episode entitled “Super Best Friends“, where he teams up with Jesus, Moses, and Buddha to defeat evil (even though Buddha “doesn’t really believe in evil”), has been available for viewing online (if not on a spooked Comedy Central) for nine years without censorship, more than enough time to spark another cartoon crisis if Muslims really cared. As should be obvious by now, they don’t.

Somehow “a couple of misfits” from Revolution Muslim are allowed to smear the entire Muslim American community.  The reality is that the vast majority of Muslims in this country barely flinched when they heard of South Park’s intention to portray the Prophet Muhammad.  Anderson Cooper covered Revolution Muslim months ago, and at that time he had concluded that “it’s just a bunch of, you know, four morons standing on the street corner, shouting at the top of their lungs–how many people are really listening?”  That summation of Revolution Muslim, “four morons standing on [a] street corner”, is exactly how Muslim Americans view them as.  Yet flash forward to the recent Cooper report and there is no mention of this fact, and they are instead portrayed as spokesmen of Islam.

To really seal this impression, Anderson Cooper had on his show the vitriolic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ardent Islamophobe.  Unbelievably, she told Cooper that one religion (Islam) is “beyond criticism” nowadays.  What world is Ms. Ali living in?  Today, Islam is the most vilified religion ever, and you can say things against Islam and Muslims on television that you simply could not say against any other religion or religious group.  On Fox News, that’s simply routine, and guests (and oftentimes hosts) can get away with virtually any swipe at Islam.  And on the internet, the level of Islamophobia is astronomical, with Islamophobic websites being amongst the most popular sites on the net, and anti-Islamic comments being hurled at Muslims from sites ranging from YouTube to our very own LoonWatch.  So it is actually the opposite of what Ms. Ali claims: there is no other religion which is criticized more than Islam.  And it’s gone far past criticism but entered into wholesale bigotry, which explains the hypersensitive reaction of some Muslims to this abuse.

In any case, the idea that only Muslims have ever threatened people for portraying their prophet in a certain way is false to begin with.  The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald decimated this argument here, so I don’t need to belabor that point; for example, he mentions a play by the name of Corpus Christiwhich was canceled several times, due to death threats from extremist Christians.  It is clearly not a Muslim only problem, and ought not to be used as a stick to beat Muslims over the head with.  Ms. Ali takes this stick not only to all observant Muslims, but to all of Islam itself.  On Cooper’s show, she claims that the Islamic scripture itself advocates killing those who criticize the religion.  Last I checked, the Islamic scripture is the Quran, and not a single verse in it advocates such a thing.  In fact, we find quite the opposite; the Quran commands believers to say “peace be unto you” to those who insult their religion.  In the Islamic holy book, God describes the righteous:

They are patient, and repel evil with good…When they hear vile ridicule (against their faith), they ignore it and say: “We shall have our deeds and you shall have your deeds; peace be unto you!” (Quran, 28:54-55)

That’s what the Islamic scripture says.  As for the hadiths (Prophetic traditions), these are an amorphous body of texts, which Muslims do not hold to be inerrant like the Quran.  Rather, a large number of hadiths are rejected outright as apocryphal in nature, and controversy surrounds many others. [3] Muslim Americans focus on explicit hadiths in which the Prophet Muhammad forgave those who reviled him. [4] For example, a group of disbelievers cursed the Prophet Muhammad, and his wife angrily retaliated in kind.  The Prophet, however, admonished his wife: “Calm down.  There is not gentleness in anything except that it becomes more beautiful, and there is not harshness in anything except that it makes it ugly.  So be calm.”  He then expounded an integral Islamic belief, saying: “God is kind and lenient, and likes that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” [5]Contemporary Muslims argue that if the Prophet Muhammad forbade even verbal aggression against non-Muslims who insulted him, then physical violence is even more loathsome.

Similarly, if the Prophet Muhammad did not seek vengeance against those who physically assaulted him and even tried to kill him, then how could it be justified against those who merely insulted him?  For example, the Prophet Muhammad was poisoned by a woman who opposed his message, yet he forgave her and sought no retaliation against her.  When the people brought her to him, and asked: “Shall we kill her?”, the Prophet replied emphatically “no.” [6] Contemporary Muslims argue that if the Companions were forbidden to kill the one who tried to physically harm and kill the Prophet Muhammad, then it seems safe to say that it is even more forbidden to punish the one who merely insults him or draws a demeaning cartoon of him. One last example I will give here (although there are many others) is that of Labeed ibn al-Asam, a sorcerer who cursed the Prophet Muhammad, and attempted to harm him through black magic. When his wife asked him why he did not seek retaliation against the sorcerer, the Prophet Muhammad replied “I hate to cause harm to anyone.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) Contemporary Muslims ask: if the Prophet hated to cause harm to anyone, then he would hate for Muslims to kill those who merely drew cartoons of him, a “crime” much less egregious than black magic.

Are there certain texts from the hadiths and classical scholars that say otherwise?  Certainly, and I am not denying that.  But the Islamophobes put a standard to Muslims that they themselves cannot meet.  For example, the vitriolic Catholic crusader Robert Spencer would show such-and-such hadith, and then say “well, it says to kill people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, and so an observant Muslim must do that.”  Yet, his own Bible says to kill those who insult his God (Jesus), commanding the faithful to stone the blasphemous infidels to death:

Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death. (Leviticus, 24:16)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s swipe at Islam can be applied here, with the condescending disclaimer that “not all Christians follow the scripture.”  And what of Anderson Cooper’s comment on his blog: “I have no respect for a prophet or god that needs its followers to defend it by threats and murder.”  Would he now think lowly of the Jewish and Christian God who–according to their most authentic scriptural source–calls for its followers to kill those who insult Him?  Or do we realize that it’s not wise to cherry-pick a passage of a religious text and then vilify an entire creed?  Islamophobes like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Robert Spencer claim that Islam itself and the scriptural sources themselves explain why the riots against the Danish cartoons occurred.  I recently covered the resurgence of Christian witch hunts in Africa; one could make the unsophisticated claim that the primary blame for the witch hunts can be attributed to the Bible and Christianity itself, since the Bible calls for witches to be killed.[7] Yet, experts understand that “poverty, exacerbated by the current world economic crisis, often lay behind the [witch hunt] phenomenon as people sought to find scapegoats for their misfortunes and the illnesses they suffered.”  Christianity was simply the currency in which the people expressed their frustration.  In other words, it is a very superficial understanding to reduce the issue to Biblical verses.

Likewise, there were sociological factors behind the anger that fueled the Danish cartoon riots.  Yet, an unsophisticated understanding of the issue would lead one to believe that the riots were simply the result of an Islamic prohibition on the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.  The reality, however, is that–in spite of an orthodox ban on imagery of the Prophet [8]–the Prophet Muhammad has been depicted in the Islamic world for centuries. British author Dr. Kenan Malik writes:

Over the past 400 years, a number of Islamic, especially Shiite, traditions have accepted the pictorial representation of Muhammed. The Edinburgh University Library in Scotland, the Bibliotheque National in Paris, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, all contain dozens of Persian, Ottoman and Afghan manuscripts depicting the Prophet. His face can be seen in many mosques too – even in Iran. A 17th-century mural on the Iman Zahdah Chah Zaid Mosque in the Iranian town of Isfahan, for instance, shows a Mohammed whose facial features are clearly visible…

So, if there is no universal prohibition to the depiction of Muhammad, why were Muslims universally appalled by the caricatures? They weren’t. And those that were, were driven by political zeal rather than theological fervour.

European Muslims have long suffered from high levels of unemployment, social alienation, and systemic discrimination–factors that contributed to the riots more than indignation over the pictorial representation of the Prophet Muhammad.  In fact, most of the rioters had not even seen the cartoons, and the caricatures were–in the words of the Islamic scholar Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl–”the straw that broke the camel’s back” (an ethnically appropriate phrase).  In the Muslim majority world, Muslims had long been suffering from what they view as Western “neo-colonialism”, and the Danish cartoons were viewed as salt on the wounds.  The bewilderment of many in the West–”how could they react this way to some cartoons?”–only underscores a profound ignorance of the problems that plague those in the East, many of which the West either causes or exacerbates.

Dr. Malik goes on:

There were demonstrations and riots in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Danish embassies in Damascus, Beirut and Teheran were torched. But, as Jytte Klausen has observed, these protests ‘were not caused by the cartoons, but were part of conflicts in pre-existing hot spots’ such as northern Nigeria, where there exists an effective civil war between Muslim salafists and Christians. The violence surrounding the cartoon conflict, Klausen suggests, has been ‘misreported’ as expressions of spontaneous violence from Muslims ‘confronted with bad pictures’. That, she insists, ‘is absolutely not the case’. Rather ‘these images have been exploited by political groups in the pre-existing conflict over Islam.’

Similarly, the Salman Rushdie affair had political not theological roots:

We have come to accept almost as self-evident the idea that the worldwide controversy was sparked by the blasphemies in The Satanic Verses that all Muslims found deeply offensive. It is not true.

The Satanic Verses was published in September 1988. For the next five months, until the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa on Valentine’s Day 1989, most Muslims ignored the book. The campaign against the novel was largely confined to the Indian subcontinent and to Britain. Aside from the involvement of Saudi Arabia, there was little enthusiasm for a campaign against novel in the Arab world or in Turkey, or among Muslim communities in France or Germany. When the Saudi authorities tried at the end of 1988 to get the novel banned in Muslim countries worldwide, few responded except those with large subcontinental populations, such as South Africa or Malaysia. Even in Iran the book was openly available and was reviewed in many newspapers.

As in the controversy over the Danish cartoons, it was politics, not religion, that transformed The Satanic Verses into a worldwide event of historic proportions.

Malik then explains the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both countries desperately competing for regional dominance.  Each seeks–with its ultraconservative implementations of the religion–to assert itself as the standard-bearer of “authentic” Islam.  Saudi Arabia had attempted to ban the book, and Iran’s fatwa was an attempt to one up the Saudis.  In the words of Kenan Malik: “The Satanic Verses became a weapon in that conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh had made the initial running (by calling for a ban on the book). The fatwa was an attempt by Iran to wrestle back the initiative…The controversy over The Satanic Verses was primarily a political, not religious, conflict.”  Unfortunately, many Westerners think it sufficient to hold superficial understandings of such complex issues (whereas others find it expedient to do so).

The elements that led to the Danish cartoon affair simply do not exist in today’s South Park controversy, which explains why the Muslim American community–notwithstanding the “four morons on [a] street corner”–have had such a subdued response.  Interestingly, there has not even been any significant drive to boycott the show, nor any peaceful protests (let alone violent recourse)–which shows how little they care about this “controversy.”  Most Muslim Americans understand that South Park pokes fun at people of every faith, and even if they may find it personally distasteful, Muslim Americans don’t think too much of it. As CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper put it: “[Muslims] are pretty tired of this whole: ‘Let’s insult the Prophet Muhammad thing.’”  They don’t want to dwell on it, and just want the incident to pass. Internally, Muslim Americans are telling each other to “ignore it”, and they are cognizant of the fact that outrage will only publicize the South Park episode more.

By presupposing that the reaction of Muslim Americans would be the same as their coreligionists in parts of Europe and the developing world (some) non-Muslim Westerners have placed all Muslims into one box. According to this “the other” understanding, all Muslims–of every nationality and region of the earth–ought to react similarly. Yet, one clearly understands this not to be the case when comparing Evangelicals in America with those leading witch hunts in Nigeria. The reality is that Muslims in this country have a distinctly American Islam, one which has incorporated freedom of speech into it. Therefore, it is incorrect to simply assume that the reaction of Muslim Americans would be the same as their religious brethren elsewhere. Unlike the Muslim communities in many (but not all) European countries, Muslim Americans are well integrated; unemployment and poverty do not affect them in the same way.  Instead, they tend to be rather well off, and are “overrepresented” in professional fields like medicine and engineering.  The absence of the sociological factors present in the Danish cartoon affair explains the lack of response to the South Park cartoons, and this is so even though the scriptural texts are still the same–again pointing to the fact that the protests had sociological and not theological roots.

Another reason why the South Park cartoons did not cause a Muslim outcry like the Danish cartoons did is that the South Park cartoons were not Islamophobic in nature.  The creators of South Park are equal-opportunity haters and have lampooned every religion, which really softened the blow.  The Danish cartoons, on the other hand, were Islamophobic in nature, and portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a stereotypical Muslim terrorist with a bomb on his head.  (The same publisher had earlier refused to publish cartoons that were deemed offensive to Christians.)  The Danish cartoons were racist and bigoted.  Can one imagine the reaction of socioeconomically depressed African Americans had a mainstream newspaper (like the New York Times) published cartoons portraying blacks as apes (a stereotypical racist image)?  In the seventies or eighties, such a thing would have led to widespread riots. Would people still be bewildered as to how a population could react so violently to a “mere cartoon“?  How is an ape-like representation of a black person any different than a stereotypical hook-nosed Muslim with a bomb on his head?

Freedom of speech is one of the principles of this country, and without it a democracy cannot flourish.  But let’s not forget that racial and religious tolerance is another bedrock of democracy.  It is a true oddity that certain segments of society have chosen that today freedom of speech is the most important issue to them, only because it allows them to channel their racial and religious intolerance.  The neo-conservatives who are today masquerading as the defenders of the first amendment are the same ones who just yesterday were justifying warrantless wiretapping, racial profiling, suspension of habeas corpus, secret prisons, torture, coerced confessions, state-sponsored assassinations (of even U.S. citizens), and on and on…all because these things were directed at Muslims.  In the words of Glenn Greenwald, the South Park controversy has been exploited so that the “majoritarian group [can act] as the profoundly oppressed victim at the hands of the small, marginalized, persecuted group which actually has no power [i.e. Muslim Americans].”  It is selective and unprincipled outrage expressed by unsavory folks who don’t really care about the principles of freedom and tolerance, but are instead using the incident to promote intolerance and demonization of a minority group…something which threatens our democracy far more than “four morons on [a] street corner.”

In conclusion, this is a contrived controversy, and there was no freak-out by Muslim Americans over the South Park cartoons.  Yes, many Muslim Americans were offended, but no more so than pious Christians whose stomachs churn at the South Park episodes mocking their religious icons.  But most Muslim Americans know that this is the cost of living in a free society, and most importantly, they know that it won’t affect what they perceive is the greatness of their prophet.  As one Muslim American told me: “Barking dogs cannot harm the moon, so let them bark.”  Despite the crudeness of this analogy, it adequately depicts the indifference of Muslim Americans to the South Park cartoon.Dr. Hesham Hassaballa, a prominent Muslim spokesman and former board member of CAIR, said:

I  must admit: I was offended. I was really bothered by the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit on Comedy Central’s satirical show “South Park.” …[But] ever since the beginning of his ministry, the Prophet Muhammad has been attacked, maligned, and insulted, including from his own uncle. The Prophet never retaliated against [them]. When he was brutally expelled from the city of Ta’if, two angels offered to crush the city under the mountains that surrounded it. The Prophet refused, hoping that their children may one day believe in God. After conquering Mecca, the Prophet issued a general amnesty to the very same people that brutally and violently opposed him, including the person who mutilated his beloved uncle Hamza after he was killed in battle.

This is the example of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims should seek to emulate whenever he is insulted. The Prophet once said, “I was sent to perfect the most noble of character.” He also said, “The best of you are the best in character.” Rather than pray for God to “kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker,” Mr. Chesser should have prayed for God to show Stone and Parker the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad, so they can understand more about the man whom 1.2 billion people around the world revere and honor. It is what the Prophet would have done.

No angry pitchfork, Dr. Hassaballa?  The media thinks to itself: that won’t sell a story and certainly doesn’t fit our preconceived notions of what a stereotypical Muslim is, so let’s forget that you are a respected figure in the community and instead focus on “four morons on [a] street corner” who aren’t even allowed inside their mosque due to how much the Muslim American community dislikes their views. (Phew, that was a long sentence!) Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR-Chicago, writes:

The latest Muhammad cartoon controversy, courtesy of Comedy Central’s South Park, seems somewhat contrived…[Revolution Muslim is] literally 5-10 people who are widely reviled by the mainstream community for their radical and confrontational style including harassing Muslims outside mosques (where they tend to be banned) with outlandishly provocative anti-American rhetoric.

Most suspect the group is fraudulent. Its mysterious leader, born Joseph Cohen, is an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there. Whether, true Muslims or agent provocateurs, the result is the same: they are five community outcasts…

South Park’s provocation was mostly met by silence and indifference [by the Muslim American community]. The widespread Muslim attitude went something like this: this is a free country, you go on mocking Jesus and Muhammad, and we will go on keeping them in our prayers. No harm done. Muhammad’s and Jesus’ value to humanity certainly will not dip as a result of your mockery.

The Muslim American community by and large supports freedom of speech, feeling that the right of the cartoonists to lampoon the Prophet exists and that the best thing to do is ignore such insults. Perhaps the lack of reaction by Muslim Americans has disappointed the sensationalist media looking for a story, forcing them to focus on a few misfits.  Amazing how “four morons on [a] street corner” are allowed to become the spokesmen for Islam. The message to Muslim Americans is loud and clear: even if 99.9999% of you behave, that last 0.00001% will be enough to hit you over the head with. The entire community will be defined by its two (or four) village idiots. Muslim Americans can never hope to have their voices heard, unless of course they become Revolution Muslims.

Update:

In retrospect, I fear that I may have used too strong wording when I was discussing Joseph Cohen’s past.  The way my article is written, it seems as if I am saying that he is really a Jew pretending to be a Muslim, and this could be used by some to promote a vast conspiracy, i.e. “it’s the Mossad!”  This was not my intention, and I caution people to stay away from such conspiratorial talk.

The reality is that I do not know Cohen’s true intentions.  I myself have a nagging suspicion that he is a disingenuous attention whore, as is his underling Younus Muhammad.  They have found a way to become famous, and I believe they enjoy the feeling of self-importance and their fifteen minutes of fame.  Accordingly, I believe that the outlandish things they say come from a desire to grab media attention, not from a genuine belief in Islam.  As I said, it is difficult to imagine that a sincere Muslim would claim that the Quran advocates terrorism, etc.  To fulfill this desire for fame, the so-called Revolution Muslims have adopted the role of agent provocateurs, trying to push as many buttons as they possible can.  “Look at us!  Look at us!”

This is the limit of my “conspiracy,” and I do not at all claim that they are still Jews, even though I realize that my wording in the article above was poorly constructed. I am not one to make excuses for my mistakes, and so I say quite simply: I made a mistake.  Yes, it is a possibility that the group was formed to make Muslims look bad, as Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR said.  But the evidence I presented with regard to Cohen’s past can at most make one question intentions, nothing more.  There is no way to know for sure either way; one can only conjecture.

However, the rest of the article still holds: regardless of Revolution Muslim’s sincerity of faith or lack thereof, the point is that they are extreme outliers, completely at odds with the vast majority of Muslim Americans.  The suspicion of the Islamic community is important insofar as it is highlights this very fact, and indicates how far off Cohen and co.’s viewpoints are from the rest of the Muslim Americans.

Footnotes

refer back to article 1. Yousef al-Khattab, My Reversion to Islam, http://www.scribd.com/doc/2901290/Brother-Yousef-al-Khattabs-Reversion-to-Islam-A-Former-Jew

refer back to article 2. I found less information on the character known as Younus Muhammad, and would welcome reader input confirming his real name and Zionist inclinations prior to his supposed conversion.

refer back to article 3. Although several textual proofs indicate that the Prophet Muhammad forgave those who insulted and abused him, a handful of texts seem to say otherwise.  However, many contemporary Muslims view these texts to be apocryphal, including the stories involving Abu Afak (a poet), Asma bint Marwan (a poetess), and a certain blind man’s slave girl.  As for Kaab ibn al-Ashraf, it is argued that he “was assassinated only because he violated the peace treaty and assisted in the war” (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari) against the fledgling city-state of Medina.  With regard to Ibn Khattal and his two slave girls, it is said that they “all stood convicted of atrocious [war] crimes” (M. Haykal, Hayat Muhammad).

refer back to article 4. Perhaps it would behoove me to compile these some day.

refer back to article 5. Sahih Bukhari, Vol.9, Book 84, # 61

refer back to article 6. Found in Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, amongst others. She was eventually found guilty of the murder of Bishr ibn Al-Bara, and punished accordingly.

refer back to article 7. “Thou shalt not allow a sorceress to live” (Exodus, 22:18), and “sorcerers amongst you must be put to death” (Leviticus, 20:27)

refer back to article 8. The ban was placed to prevent idolization of the Prophet Muhammad, something which early Muslims feared due to the fate of Jesus in the Christian world. However, this ban on pictorial representations carries no worldly punishment if breached, neither in classical or contemporary understandings of Islamic law.

No-name radicals vs. ‘South Park’ just a distraction

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by loonwatch

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By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.comand legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

(CNN) — Free speech issues and portrayals of Islam needlessly stirred a hornet’s nest recently when “South Park” depicted the Prophet Mohammed disguised in a bear suit in the 200th episode of the popular Comedy Central TV show.

But what many people don’t realize is that the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, already used an image of Mohammed on “South Park” without any strife whatsoever in a July 2001 episode called “Super Best Friends.”

Of course, that episode, which depicted Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and other religious leaders as the “Super Best Friends” superhero crew, was aired before the September 11 attacks and the 2005 controversy over a Danish cartoon with drawings of the prophet.

To generate some press coverage and needless dispute, two extremist buffoons at a radical website called “Revolution Muslim” directed a thinly veiled threat against the show’s creators for depicting Mohammed in the recent episode. Much of the American mainstream media ended up giving a national platform to these unknown knuckleheads, which only helped to tarnish the reputation of Muslims in America further.

Sadly, it seems to be far sexier for the media to report the message of two extremists rather than the tempered and tolerant message of the majority of millions of American Muslims.

This is also important because actual Islamophobia — and other forms of bigotry and racism — badly needs to be combated by our society. That fight certainly does not revolve around a bunch ofComedy Central cartoon characters named Eric Cartman or Mr. Hanky.

Instead of conjuring up fake controversies involving the equal opportunity offenders of “South Park,” we should focus on professional political polemicists, such as Ann Coulter, who has publicly stated that we should “kill their [Muslim] leaders and convert them to Christianity” — or the Rev. Pat Robertson of “The 700 Club,” who once told The Associated Press that neither American Muslims nor Hindus should be allowed to serve as U.S. federal judges.

These right-wing professional fear-mongers have nurtured, facilitated and expanded the growth of Islamophobia after the tragedy of the September 11, 2001, attacks to the point where Muslim is almost a slur in America.

In another recent news story, an under-reported one that was more significant than the whole “South Park” debacle, the U.S. Army rescinded its invitation to the Rev. Franklin Graham — the former spiritual adviser for George W. Bush — to the upcoming National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon over remarks he has repeatedly made about Islam over the years.

“True Islam cannot be practiced in this country,” Graham told CNN’s Campbell Brown in December. “You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries.”

During a November 2001 broadcast of “NBC Nightly News,” Graham told news anchor Tom Brokaw that Islam is “a very wicked and evil religion … not of the same god … [and] I don’t believe this is this wonderful, peaceful religion.”

Even though he has never apologized, it was his father — the Rev. Billy Graham — who finally addressed his son’s remarks about Islam during an August 2006 interview with Jon Meacham of Newsweek magazine.

The elder Graham said, “I would not say Islam is wicked and evil … I have a lot of friends who are Islamic. There are many wonderful people among them. I have a great love for them. … I’m sure there are many things that [my son Franklin] and I are not in total agreement about. …”

Sir Winston Churchill once said that “a fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and will not change the subject.” All of this anti-Muslim rhetoric over the last few years has led to political whisper campaigns and public opinion polls that show 57 percent of Republicans, and 32 percent of Americans overall, believe that President Obama is a Muslim, according to a March Louis Harris poll.

As an American Muslim civil rights lawyer and proud First Amendment freak, I can honestly say that I love both my Prophet Mohammed and “South Park.” In any free democratic society, the concept of free speech can only be combated with more free speech, not censorship. If the creators of “South Park” choose to depict the Prophet Mohammed, that is their First Amendment right, and they should be able to do so freely without any threats of physical violence and retribution.

I also believe that Comedy Central probably went too far when it censored the following episode — 201 — especially since the show had run a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in season five.

On the issue of the U.S. Army disinviting Franklin Graham, I do think it was perfectly fine to disinvite him to play a prominent role at the National Day of Prayer at the Pentagon. Just as Graham has the First Amendment right to hate and defame Islam, the Army and Pentagon also exercise their own free speech by not giving an anti-Muslim evangelist a platform on their turf.

This is what I mean by saying the best way to counter free speech is with more free speech, not censorship. Because as we all know, the free speech clause of the First Amendment of our beloved U.S. Constitution legally allows racist, xenophobic and bigoted attitudes to be held that could easily be deemed Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic or anti-black.

Sadly, instead of dealing with the real cases of racism, bigotry and xenophobia regularly injected into our public airwaves by some of our political leaders and opinion makers, we have instead allowed ourselves to get sucked into a faux controversy involving two no-name idiots with a radical website taking on four pre-pubescent, fictitious cartoon characters from South Park, Colorado.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.

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