Archive for Constitution

Over the Rainbow in Kansas, pt.2: Gov. Brownback Signs Bill Aimed at Blocking Sharia

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Gov. Brownback has signed the bill passed by the Kansas legislature aimed at blocking “foreign law” (i.e. the non-existent “sharia threat”) in Kansas.

It will likely be challenged in Kansas courts:

Kan. gov. signs measure blocking Islamic law

BY JOHN HANNA (Kansas City Star)

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.

The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

“This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws,” said Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a Michigan group promoting model legislation similar to the new Kansas law. “The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion.”

But supporters have worried specifically about Shariah law being applied in Kansas court cases, and the alliance says on its website that it wants to protect Americans’ freedoms from “infiltration” by foreign laws and legal doctrines, “especially Islamic Shariah Law.”

Brownback’s office notified the state Senate of his decision Friday, but he actually signed the measure Monday. The governor’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said in a statement that the bill “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”

Muslim groups had urged Brownback to veto the measure, arguing that it promotes discrimination. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a court challenge is likely because supporters of the measure frequently expressed concern about Shariah law.

Hooper said of Brownback, “If he claims it has nothing to do with Shariah or Islamic law or Muslims, then he wasn’t paying attention.”

Both the Washington-based council and the National Conference of State Legislatures say such proposals have been considered in 20 states, including Kansas. Gele said laws similar to Kansas’ new statute have been enacted in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Shariah law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.

There are no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law. However, supporters of the bill have cited a pending case in Sedgwick County in which a man seeking to divorce his wife has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.

Supporters argue the measure simply ensures that legal decisions will protect long-cherished liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion and the right to equal treatment under the law. Gele said the measure would come into play if someone wanted to enforce a libel judgment against an American from a foreign nation without the same free speech protections.

“It is perfectly constitutional,” he said.

The House approved the bill unanimously and the Senate, with broad, bipartisan support. Even some legislators who were skeptical of it believed it was broad and bland enough that it didn’t represent a specific political attack on Muslims.

“This disturbing recent trend of activist judges relying upon the laws of other nations has been rejected by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the Kansas House and Senate,” Jones-Sontag said.

The measure’s chief sponsor, Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, also has said all Kansans, including Muslims, should be comfortable with the new law, but she did not immediately respond Friday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, acknowledged that the measure merely “made some people happy” and that a vote against it could be cast politically as a vote in favor of Shariah law.

“Am I really concerned that Shariah law is going to take over the Kansas courts? No,” he said. “I’m more concerned about getting jobs to Kansas.”

The Michigan-based alliance advocates model “American Law for American Courts” legislation. Its website says, “America has unique values of liberty which do not exist in foreign legal systems, particularly Shariah Law.”

During the Kansas Senate’s debate on the bill earlier this month, Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican described a vote for the measure as a vote for women’s rights, adding, “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”

Hooper said supporters of such proposals have made it clear they are targeting Islamic law.

“Underlying all of this is demonizing Islam and marginalizing American Muslims,” he said.

Islamist Party Says Islamic Law Doesn’t Need to be Enshrined in New Tunisian Constitution

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by loonwatch

rachid_ghannouchi1

Ennahda Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi

I think someone’s head just exploded in the anti-Muslim movement.

They have zero understanding of the differing histories, philosophies or political thought of the various Islamist trends within the Muslim world. To them Islamists are all AlQaeda or some other such offshoot.

Of course, the hatemongers will revert to form and declare that this is all just taqiya, they will be unable to explain why, when Ennahda has a clear majority and is in a position to implement whatever they want, they instead forge a national unity government. They will also be unable to explain why Ennahda says their position are in line with Islamic values and principles.

Islamic Law Won’t Be Basis of New Tunisian Constitution

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Islamic law will not be enshrined in Tunisia’s new constitution, preserving the secular basis of the North African nation, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Ennahda Party said Monday.

The first article of the new constitution would remain the same as in the 1959 version and it will not call for Shariah, Islamic law, to be the source of all legislation, as many conservatives had wanted.

The decision marks a break between the moderate Islamist Ennahda and an increasingly vocal minority of ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis who have been demanding Islamic law in a country long known for its progressive traditions.

“We do not want Tunisian society to be divided into two ideologically opposed camps, one pro-Shariah and one anti-Shariah,” said Rachid al-Ghannoushi, the founder of the Ennahda Party in a press conference. “We want above all a constitution that is for all Tunisians, whatever their convictions.”

He added that in his opinion, 90 percent of Tunisia’s existing legislation was already in line with the precepts of Islamic law.

Ziad Doulatli, another party leader, told The Associated Press that decision was taken so as to “unite a large majority of the political forces to confront the country’s challenges.”

“The Tunisian experience can serve as a model for other countries going through similar transformations,” he added.

In Egypt, as well as many other Muslim countries, Shariah is enshrined in the constitution as the source of all legislation.

Under more than 50 years of secular dictatorship, Tunisia stood out in the Arab world for its progressive laws, especially regarding the status of women. Many leftists and liberals feared this would be rolled back with the victory of an Islamist party at the polls.

Ennahda, however, has always pledged to maintain the character of the state and formed a coalition government with two secular parties.

The decision, however, is bound to provoke a backlash from the Salafis — some 10,000 of whom demonstrated Sunday in Tunis, the capital, calling for Islamic law.

Despite their numerous demonstrations, the degree of support that the Salafis have from the broader Tunisian society is not clear. Ennahda’s decision to spurn their demands suggests they do not have widespread appeal.

The first article of Tunisia’s constitution states that “Tunisia is a free, sovereign and independent state, whose religion is Islam, language is Arabic and has a republican regime.”

Tunisians overthrew their dictatorship in a popular uprising last year that inspired pro-democracy movements across North African and the Middle East.

In October, they elected a new assembly to govern as well as write the country’s new constitution. Secular and Islamist groups have been holding demonstrations to influence the new document.

According to Fadhel Moussa of the leftist Democratic Modernist Axis, the agreement on the first article settles a long debate in the assembly and opens the way to creating the rest of the new constitution.

Why you shouldn’t tell American border guards you’re in Islamic Studies

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

Why you shouldn’t tell American border guards you’re in Islamic Studies

by ANDREANNE STEWART

On May 1, 2010, Pascal Abidor was riding an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York. His parents live in Brooklyn, and he was on his way to visit them. The school year at McGill had just ended, and he felt relieved and calm as the train rolled south towards America.

At about 11 a.m., the train arrived at the U.S. border and made a routine stop. A team of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers boarded the train and advanced through each car, questioning passengers. Pascal had made this trip countless times before, so when a customs officer approached him, he didn’t give it a second thought.

But Pascal had never met Officer Tulip.

After looking over Pascal’s U.S. passport and customs declaration, Officer Tulip asked two simple questions: Where do you live, and why?

Pascal answered that he lived in Canada. He lived in Canada because that’s where he was pursuing a PhD in Islamic Studies.

Next, she asked him where he had traveled in the previous year, and he answered Jordan and Lebanon. He showed her his French passport (he’s a dual citizen) with the “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan” stamp, and the Lebanese stamp with the little cedar tree on top.

That didn’t help. Officer Tulip immediately told him to grab his things and follow her to the train’s cafe car. Pascal gathered his luggage, but Officer Tulip carried the bag containing his laptop. At the time, he thought she was just being helpful.

In the cafe car, they were joined by five or six more CBP officers. Pascal sat across from Officer Tulip as she took out his laptop, turned it on, and asked him to enter his password, which he did.

As she scrolled through the contents of his computer, Pascal could only see her reaction. Officer Tulip signaled to her colleagues and pointed at something on the screen. She then turned to Pascal and demanded an explanation.

Pascal was now surrounded by half a dozen suspicious American border police, staring at photos – on his laptop – of Hamas and Hezbollah rallies.

Where had he gotten “this stuff,” Officer Tulip asked. Pascal explained that his PhD research is on the Shiites of modern Lebanon. This was not, in her books, a good answer. Finally, the officers told Pascal that he would have to leave the train with them.

“Take me off the train, I’ll walk back to Montreal,” Pascal offered. Given what he would go through in the next few hours, Pascal might well have preferred the walk.

Instead, he was frisked, with particular vigor around his genitals. Then he was handcuffed. Pascal winced.

As they led him off the train, the officers draped a coat over his bound wrists. They claimed it was to spare him the embarrassment of a perp walk. But as Pascal walked past the train’s windows, he tried to show the passengers that he was cuffed. He hadn’t done anything wrong, and he wanted witnesses.

Pascal was then loaded into the back of a van. Oddly, as one of the officers tried to close the van’s side door, it fell clean off. It could have been a moment of levity in a grim situation. But Pascal didn’t dare laugh.

The Detention Cell

When they arrived at the Champlain Port of Entry, Pascal was put in a five-by-ten foot cell with cinder block walls and a steel-reinforced door. He was told to wait. He stayed in the cell for about an hour. Officers came in at random intervals to ask him questions.

“I thought I was going to throw up,” he said. “I thought I was going to be sent to Guantanamo Bay.”

Pascal was then removed from the cell and brought to an interrogation room, complete with florescent lighting and a two-way mirror. He sat across from two CBP officers – Officer Tulip and a man named Officer Sweet – while another officer sat at the end of the table, seemingly in case Pascal got violent.

“They thought I was straight-up dangerous,” Pascal said.

Then the real interrogation began, an hour and a half of intensive questioning. Where was he born? Where were his parents born? What religion was he raised with? Had he ever been to a rally in the Middle East? Had he heard any anti-American statements in the Middle East? Had he ever seen an American flag burned? Had he ever been to a mosque? But the questions always came back to the same point – why Islamic Studies?

“I want to be an academic – this is just what I happen to be an academic in,” Pascal told them.

His answers seemed to fall on deaf ears. The interrogation continued. It was the same questions, over and over. They were looking for him to make a mistake.

They soon fell into a good-cop, bad-cop routine.

“He thought I was cool,” Pascal said of Officer Sweet. Officer Tulip, on the other hand, “thought I was the most evil person. She thought I was a movie villain or something.”

They claimed Pascal’s dual citizenship made him untraceable. They suggested he was attractive “to both sides.” Pascal was baffled. Both sides of what?

Finally, after about three hours in detention, he was released. But there was a catch – the CBP was keeping his laptop and hard drive.

Pascal was enraged. While he had been waiting in the cell, Pascal had given some thought to what he would say to the officers once he was free. Now, with his anger compounded by the loss of his computer, Pascal delivered a blistering speech, directed at his arch-nemesis, Officer Tulip.

“I ripped into her,” he said. “She just stood there, [then] walked away.”

When an FBI agent came up to him and attempted to apologize, Pascal stopped him mid-sentence. “I don’t want to hear your apology,” he told the agent.

Before he left, he was given his camera and his two cell phones. There was a scratch on the back of one of the phones, as if someone had tried to open it.

Taking Legal Action

After being released from detention, Pascal hitched a ride on the next bus with an open seat that came through the checkpoint. He arrived in New York at midnight. That night, he had trouble sleeping, as he would have for the next week or so.

The next morning, he sat down and wrote eleven single-spaced pages detailing exactly what had happened to him. The day after that, he began making phone calls to state senators and advocacy organizations in the hope of finding someone who would help him. Lots of them were interested in his case, including Anthony Weiner, the former New York Congressman.

Finally, Pascal settled on the ACLU. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is the oldest and largest civil liberties organization in the United States. Free speech cases are its bread and butter. And they told Pascal that his right to free speech, protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, had been violated.

Two days after his first phone call with the ACLU, Pascal was in downtown Manhattan, sitting in a meeting with a team of lawyers. The first thing they did was to write a letter to the CBP demanding that they return Pascal’s laptop. The day after the letter was sent, Pascal got a call from the CBP asking him where they should overnight his belongings.

But at this point, the damage was done. When the laptop arrived in the mail, the seam between the keyboard and the outer case that led to the internal hard drive appeared to have widened. The warranty seal on his external hard drive had been broken open, too. The government had already searched, and, they later conceded, made copies of Pascal’s electronic life.

Pascal and the ACLU were incensed. His laptop contained intimate personal information: chat logs with his girlfriend, university transcripts, his tax returns.

The problem was, everything Homeland Security had done was completely by the book.

 

The Policy

In August 2009, the Department of Homeland Security enacted a policy that allows for the search and seizure of electronic devices at the border without reasonable suspicion. Under the policy, the DHS can detain any electronic device indefinitely, and copy and share the information it contains. Between October 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, more than 6,500 people had their electronic devices searched at U.S. border stops.

It was under this policy that Pascal’s laptop and hard drive were searched and detained.

Upon the enactment of the policy, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that, “keeping Americans safe in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully screen materials entering the United States. The new directives announced today strike the balance between respecting the civil liberties and privacy of all travelers, while ensuring DHS can take the lawful actions necessary to secure our borders.”

The policy makes a point of specifying that, “at no point during a border search of electronic devices is it necessary to ask the traveler for consent to search.”

This struck the ACLU as deeply unconstitutional. So they and Pascal decided to sue Janet Napolitano, Director of Homeland Security, to challenge the constitutionality of the policy.

In September 2010, they filed their “complaint” against Napolitano, the legal document that kicks off a lawsuit. The ACLU argued that the DHS policy violates the First and Fourth Amendments, which guarantee free speech and protection against unreasonable search and seizure respectively.

The U.S. government tried to get the case thrown out, arguing that while Pascal’s story was true, the government’s actions had not broken any laws.

On the question of the Fourth Amendment, the government effectively said that just about any kind of search is legal at the border, in the name of national sovereignty.

“Searches made at the border, pursuant to the long standing right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country, are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border,” the government wrote in its Motion to Dismiss, the legal maneuver for getting a case thrown out.

With regard to the First Amendment, the Motion to Dismiss stated that, “an otherwise valid search under the Fourth Amendment, does not violate the First Amendment rights of an individual – even a completely innocent individual – simply because the search uncovers expressive material.”

In other words, a border search is a border search is a border search.

And it’s true that all travelers are subject to a routine search at the border, whether or not there’s suspicion of wrongdoing.

But while the U.S. government argues that the search of laptops should be considered a part of these routine searches, the ACLU says these searches are more invasive and therefore must be held to a higher standard.

“It is different to go through someone’s shoes and contact solution, than to go through all the documents on their computer,” said Catherine Crump, one of Pascal’s ACLU lawyers.

Last July, Pascal and his ACLU lawyers went to a courtroom in Brooklyn to argue against throwing out their case. The judge has still not come to a decision.

Meanwhile, the DHS policy remains on the books. Laptops and cell phones continue to be detained and searched without reasonable suspicion at the U.S. border.

Pascal, for his part, hasn’t had a normal border-crossing since that May 1 morning. “Now, every time I cross the border, I get harassed,” he said.

In December 2010, he was crossing the border with his father. The border guards began interrogating him in unusual ways. “They refused to believe my dad was my dad,” he said. “If you saw my dad, you could not believe we were not related.”

The guards then searched the car top to bottom, and made the Abidors wait at the checkpoint for two hours.

“This is about lowering the threshold of what is acceptable to us,” Pascal said of his treatment at the hands of the CBP. “You can’t have rights and then selectively apply them.”

This is Why Radical Christians are One of the Greatest Threats to the US Constitution

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Santorum_Separation_Church_and_State

Rick Santorum on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos

For the past several years Loonwatch writers have repeatedly made the very “significant” (and obvious) point that radical Christian Islamophobes seek to undermine the constitution of the USA by entangling church and state; i.e. undermining the separation of Church and State.

We have also pointed out that the fervent fear-mongering about “Islamization,” a fairytale concept, is nothing more than projection on the part of these radicals. (Propaganda about the “Islamization” of the USA is even more ridiculous when one considers history; the fact that America was forcibly “Christianized” by colonial settlers and their offspring.)

Many Radical Christians today believe America has changed too much and that the superior place of Christianity needs to be reasserted, i.e. re-Christianization. Not only does this thought permeate the GOP, it has infact captured the GOP. This much is clear from the ongoing reality TV circus known as the Republican primary debates.

Take Rick Santorum, it was recently revealed that he “felt like throwing up” when he first read JFK’s famous speech on the separation of church and state. He was questioned about this by George Stephanopoulos, Santorum replied that he felt like vomiting after reading the first substantive line of the speech in which JFK said, “Apparently it is important for me to state again, not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me, but what kind of America I believe in. I believe in an America in which the separation between church and state is absolute. Santorum went on to say,

I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country.

This is a leading Republican candidate for the presidency saying this, it’s not something that should be simply ignored. Can one imagine if Rep.Keith Ellison, a Muslim Congressman had said the above? For a surety the Islamophobesphere would be flailing wildly about “Islamization” and the impending Sharia take over in Ellison’s home state of Minnesota.

One must also ask where is the condemnation from loons such as Robert Spencer, a fellow Catholic? We can answer our own question, Spencer is not interested in condemning this threat because he likely agrees with Santorum. Spencer in the past has spoken in forums where he has agreed with other speakers attacking the Enlightenment. His attacks weren’t of the philosophical post-modernist variety either but couched in defense of the faith rhetoric. As I wrote at the time,

Spencer agrees with Professor Kreeft regarding the Enlightenment being a threat to Catholicism though he didn’t explicitly say that Islam was less of a threat. I can see how Ultra-Conservative Catholics may rail against the Enlightenment, it was the era which saw a secularist revolt in the name of reason against the Catholic Church and which led to formulas for the Separation of Church and State, it also witnessed the decline of the power of the Catholic Church in the temporal realm.

Coming back to the main topic, I don’t believe Santorum misspoke. I don’t believe Santorum misunderstood what JFK meant or the impetus behind why he gave that famous 1960 speech. I don’t believe Santorum was making a point about how voices of faith need to be heard in the public square, etc.

Santorum believes America is a Christian country, he believes the “founding fathers” meant for it to stay that way and in fact supported such a notion. I am not sure whether Santorum follows the Dominionist ideology, (an ideology that seems to plague Protestants mostly), but he clearly believes the Church has a part to play in the operation of government.

This incident reveals the deep hypocrisy and faux loyalty to the Constitution amongst many of the Islamophobes and the populist politicians who are riding the Islam/Muslim-bashing wave. Islam and Muslims are being used as a distraction that serves to 1.) make us lose sight of the real issues, and 2.) covers a darker intent of reconquista, rechristianization by any means necessary.

Lastly, I want to clarify that this post is obviously not an attack on Christianity and should not be understood that way. The great majority of Christians are as repulsed as any other citizen when they hear such inanities spewing forth from the mouths of politicians speaking in the name of their faith. They are also on the front lines actively fighting this scourge.

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A very good video from the Young Turks on Rick Santorum’s attack on the Separation of Church and State:

Muslim Scholars Issue Fatwa Declaring No Conflict Between Islamic Law And U.S. Constitution

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by loonwatch
President Obama hosts Iftar dinner at White House for American Muslims during Ramadan.President Obama hosts Iftar dinner at White House for American Muslims during Ramadan.
http://www.5min.com/Video/Study-Muslim-Americans-Experience-a-Mixed-Bag-517153474

Muslim Scholars Issue Fatwa Declaring No Conflict Between Islamic Law And U.S. Constitution

Islamic scholars tired of conservative charges that Muslims in the United States constitute a radical fifth column bent on subverting American values and obligated by their religion to launch jihadist terror attacks are fighting back by issuing a fatwa.

The Islamic religious ruling, a “Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans,” is a response to what its authors call “erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda” that has built up for a decade following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorist plots by adherents of al-Qaida and other extremist groups. It was issued in Virginia late last month by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of Islamic scholars who meet several times a year to draft opinions on issues of concern to American Muslims.

“As a body of Islamic scholars, we the members of FCNA believe that it is false and misleading to suggest that there is a contradiction between being faithful Muslims committed to God (Allah) and being loyal American citizens,” the fatwa declared.

“Islamic teachings require respect of the laws of the land where Muslims live as minorities, including the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, so long as there is no conflict with Muslims’ obligation for obedience to God. We do not see any such conflict with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The primacy of obedience to God is a commonly held position of many practicing Jews and Christians as well.”

Muslims make up less than 1 percent of the nation, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, yet the fast-growing community has been a constant target of right-wing groups. From protests against the so-called “ground zero mosque,” to efforts in more than a dozen states to ban Sharia lawin courts, to recent Capitol Hill hearings on Islamic radicalization that brought comparisons to McCarthyism, Muslims have had to assert their loyalty.

And that troubles members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who in recent years have been at the forefront in building bridges to the Muslims in order to combat radicalization and enlist the community in the fight against terrorism.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and other law enforcement officials will attend a meeting Thursday at the Islamic Center of Reseda to talk about the new fatwa as part of his department’s Muslim Community Forum. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of religious affairs of The Islamic Society of Orange County and the president of the Fiqh Council of North America, will be on hand to discuss the origins of the fatwa.

For many non-Muslims, perhaps the best-known fatwa was the one against authorSalman Rushdie for his book ”The Satanic Verses.” Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared it blasphemous and called for Rushdie’s death.

This new decree might face a warmer welcome.

“We’re always fighting two sides of extremism. There’s the violent ideological side and the neo-conservative side that is creating hate campaigns against American Muslims …which is a bunch of BS,” said Michael Downing, commander of the LAPD’s Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “The majority of American Muslims are as patriotic as you and I. This declaration says it is not a conflict to be a faithful Muslim and loyal American.”
http://www.5min.com/Video/Muslim-Event-Condemns-Terrorism-517166793

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

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

This is a GOP candidate who is getting 6% of the popular vote right now, and this sort of rhetoric is acceptable for a large portion of Americans.

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

Herman Cain said Sunday that Americans should be able to ban Muslims from building mosques in their communities.

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” Cain said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

Last week, the Republican presidential candidate expressed criticism of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, telling reporters at a campaign event that “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Sharia law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that.”

“This isn’t an innocent mosque,” Cain said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace pressed him about those comments.

“Let’s go back to the fundamental issue,” Cain said. “Islam is both a religion and a set of laws — Sharia laws. That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”

“So, you’re saying that any community, if they want to ban a mosque…” Wallace began.

“Yes, they have the right to do that,” Cain said.

Cain has made a number of controversial comments about Muslims, including a vow to be cautious about allowing a Muslim to serve in his administration.

On Sunday, Cain defended his position, telling Wallace that it’s not discrimination.

“Aren’t you willing to restrict people because of their religion?” Wallace asked.

“I’m willing to take a harder look at people who might be terrorists, that’s what I’m saying,” Cain replied. “Look, I know that there’s a peaceful group of Muslims in this country. God bless them and they’re free to worship. If you look at my career I have never discriminated against anybody, because of their religion, sex or origin or anything like that.”

“I’m simply saying I owe it to the American people to be cautious because terrorists are trying to kill us,” Cain said, “so yes I’m going to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of carelessness.”

Original post: Herman Cain: Americans Have The Right To Ban Mosques In Their Communities

Gov. Rick Perry, Violating Church-State Separation by Supporting Extremist Christians

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by loonwatch

The story below from AlterNet is a must read, I don’t know why it is not being covered more. This is a clear and bold example of a high ranking politician meddling in religion and thereby comprising the separation between Church and State. If that wasn’t bad enough he happens to be propping up one of the most extremist, dominionist organizations and movements in the country, the AFA.

AFA is the same group whose rising star is the repugnant Bryan Fischer. Fischer has made radically hateful comments about Muslims and Gays. In light of the fact that the Islamophobesphere and twitterati are up in arms about the Imam who made homophobic statements, where is the outrage over Gov. Rick Perry? This is an issue that effects us ten times more than some Imam making bigoted remarks.

Interestingly enough I have just found out that Bruce Bawer, (a friend of Robert Spencer’s, who thinks the West is “appeasing Islam”) is now blogging on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish. Just today, under a blog titled “Islamophobia,” Bawer writes somewhat misleadingly that if you object to an Imam who preaches intolerance of gays you will be labeled an “Islamophobe.” How ridiculous is that?

I tweeted back, “Bigotry does not make bigotry OK. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Homophobia does not justify #Islamophobia and vice versa.”

No response yet. However, I noticed that neither Andrew Sullivan or any of his fellow bloggers at the Daily Dish have commented on Gov.Rick Perry’s endorsement of AFA or full frontal assault on the separation of Religion and State.

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Bizarre, Fringe Mass Prayer Rally — What Happened to No Gov Meddling in Religion?

Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a day-long event of prayer and fasting Aug. 6 at a sports stadium in Houston is a dramatic escalation of government meddling in religion.

AlterNet / By Rob Boston

American politicians love to invoke religion, and a generic form of an alleged “one-size-fits-all” piety is so common that scholars have even give it a fancy name: ceremonial deism.

Ceremonial deism is what explains “In God We Trust” on our money, “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance and the tendency of presidents and governors to attend interfaith prayer services whenever there’s a natural disaster.

Despite its short-comings – ceremonial deism doesn’t offer much to non-believers, for example, and many devoutly religious people find it sterile and bland – the practice at least recognizes that religious beliefs come in many forms. Thus, God is appealed to but not Jesus. Prayers are “non-sectarian.”

What’s planned for Texas in August is not ceremonial deism. It’s something else entirely. And it’s a big problem.

Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a day-long event of prayer and fasting Aug. 6 at a sports stadium in Houston is a dramatic escalation of government meddling in religion. Called “The Response,” the event is being coordinated by the American Family Association (AFA), an extreme Religious Right group, as well as other far-right religious groups and figures with controversial theological and political ideas. The rally is exclusively Christian in nature; in fact, it reflects a certain type of Christianity – the fringes of fundamentalism.

What brought this about? Perry’s theological allies claim that America is being punished by God for its wicked ways. They see a national day of repentance as the solution.

On The Response’s website, Perry writes, “Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

Of course, this could be just a sheer political ploy. Perry has been openly flirting with a presidential run, and this event could be little more than an effort to curry favor with the Religious Right in advance of that.

Regardless, word is spreading quickly among the religio-political right. Potential attendees to The Response are told to bring a Bible and encouraged to fast – although there will be a few food vendors on site for those who can’t or won’t. The groups behind this effort tend to come from the fringes of Christianity that are obsessed with things like prophecy, direct messages from God, faith healing and so on. These charismatic Christians emphasize a highly charged form of worship that stresses emotional outbursts and a theology of judgment. They seem to be convinced that God has it in for America, mainly because we permit legal abortion, tolerate gays and have a secular government.

Many churches in America preach this theology, and Americans are free to attend these houses of worship and hear it whenever they like. But government endorsement of this sectarian message goes too far – and that’s why more and more people are speaking out over Perry’s prayer confab.

Mainline Christian, non-Christian and secularist groups have protested the Perry event – and rightly so. Perry and his supporters don’t try to downplay the proselytizing nature of the event; in fact, they brag about it. They say non-Christians are welcome to attend to hear a message about redemption through Christ.

Perry defended the event, tellingThe New York Times, “It is Christian-centered, yes, but I have invited and welcome people of all faiths to attend.” He also brushed off charges that the AFA is extreme, calling it “a group that promotes faith and strong families, and this event is about bringing Americans together in prayer.”

Read the rest at AlterNet

Amy Sullivan: The sharia myth sweeps America

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2011 by loonwatch

The boogey monster of a Sharia’ takeover has been sweeping America. Here is a newsflash: Sharia’ law will never replace the Constitution.

Column: The sharia myth sweeps America

by Amy Sullivan (USA Today)

If you are not vitally concerned about the possibility of radical Muslims infiltrating the U.S. government and establishing a Taliban-style theocracy, then you are not a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. In addition to talking about tax policy and Afghanistan, Republican candidates have also felt the need to speak out against the menace of “sharia.”

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum refers to sharia as “an existential threat” to the United States. Pizza magnate Herman Cain declared in March that he would not appoint a Muslim to a Cabinet position or judgeship because “there is this attempt to gradually ease sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”

The generally measured campaign of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty leapt into panic mode over reports that during his governorship, a Minnesota agency had created a sharia-compliant mortgage program to help Muslim homebuyers. “As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue,” spokesman Alex Conant assured reporters, “he personally ordered it shut down.”

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has been perhaps the most focused on the sharia threat. “We should have a federal law that says under no circumstances in any jurisdiction in the United States will sharia be used,” Gingrich announced at last fall’s Values Voters Summit. He also called for the removal of Supreme Court justices (a lifetime appointment) if they disagreed.

Gingrich’s call for a federal law banning sharia has gone unheeded so far. But at the local level, nearly two dozen states have introduced or passed laws in the past two years to ban the use of sharia in court cases.

Despite all of the activity to monitor and restrict sharia, however, there remains a great deal of confusion about what it actually is. It’s worth taking a look at some facts to understand why an Islamic code has become such a watchword in the 2012 presidential campaign.

What is sharia?

More than a specific set of laws, sharia is a process through which Muslim scholars and jurists determine God’s will and moral guidance as they apply to every aspect of a Muslim’s life. They study the Quran, as well as the conduct and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and sometimes try to arrive at consensus about Islamic law. But different jurists can arrive at very different interpretations of sharia, and it has changed over the centuries.

Importantly, unlike the U.S. Constitution or the Ten Commandments, there is no one document that outlines universally agreed upon sharia.

Then how do Muslim countries use sharia for their systems of justice?

There are indeed some violent and extreme interpretations of sharia. That is what the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan. In other countries, sharia may be primarily used to govern contracts and other agreements. And in a country like Turkey, which is majority Muslim, the national legal system is secular, although individual Muslims may follow sharia in their personal religious observances such as prayer and fasting. In general, to say that a person follows sharia is to say that she is a practicing Muslim.

How and when is it used in U.S. courts?

Sharia is sometimes consulted in civil cases with Muslim litigants who may request a Muslim arbitrator. These may involve issues of marriage contracts or commercial agreements, or probating an Islamic will. They are no different than the practice of judges allowing orthodox Jews to resolve some matters in Jewish courts, also known as beth din.

U.S. courts also regularly interpret foreign law in commercial disputes between two litigants from different countries, or custody agreements brokered in another country. In those cases, Islamic law is treated like any other foreign law or Catholic canon law.

What about extreme punishments like stoning or beheading?

U.S. judges may decide to consider foreign law or religious codes like sharia, but that doesn’t mean those laws override the Constitution. We have a criminal justice system that no outside law can supersede. Additionally, judges consider foreign laws only if they choose to — they can always refuse to recognize a foreign law.

So if sharia is consulted only in certain cases and only at the discretion of the court, why has it become such a high priority for states and GOP candidates? One answer is that sharia opponents believe they need to act not to prevent the way Islamic law is currently used in the U.S. but to prevent a coming takeover by Muslim extremists. The sponsor of an Oklahoma measure banning sharia approved by voters last fall described it as “a pre-emptive strike.” Others, like the conservative Center for Security Policy, assert that all Muslims are bound to work to establish an Islamic state in the U.S.

But if that was true — and the very allegation labels every Muslim in America a national security threat — the creeping Islamic theocracy movement is creeping very slowly. Muslims first moved to the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, for example, nearly a century ago to work in Henry Ford‘s factories. For most of the past 100 years, Dearborn has been home to the largest community of Arabs in the U.S. And yet after five or six generations, Dearborn’s Muslims have not sought to see the city run in accordance with sharia. Bars and the occasional strip clubs dot the town’s avenues, and a pork sausage factory is located next to the city’s first mosque.

Maybe Dearborn’s Muslims are just running a very drawn-out head fake on the country. It’s hard to avoid the more likely conclusion, however, that politicians who cry “Sharia!” are engaging in one of the oldest and least-proud political traditions — xenophobic demagoguery. One of the easiest ways to spot its use is when politicians carelessly throw around a word simply because it scares some voters.

Take Gerald Allen, the Alabama state senator who was moved by the danger posed by sharia to sponsor a bill banning it — but who, when asked for a definition, could not say what sharia was. “I don’t have my file in front of me,” he told reporters. “I wish I could answer you better.” In Tennessee, lawmakers sought to make following sharia a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison — until they learned that their effort would essentially make it illegal to be Muslim in their state.

During last year’s Senate race in Nevada, GOP candidate Sharon Angle blithely asserted that Dearborn, as well as a small town in Texas, currently operate under sharia law. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann used the occasion of Osama bin Laden’s death to tie the terrorist mastermind to the word: “It is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

The anti-communist Red Scare of the 1950s made broad use of guilt by innuendo and warnings about shadowy conspiracies. If GOP candidates insist they are not doing the same thing to ordinary Muslims, they can prove it by explaining what they believe sharia is and whether they’re prepared to ban the consideration of all religious codes from civil arbitration. Anything less is simply fear mongering.

Amy Sullivan is a contributing writer at Time and author of The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.

F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by loonwatch

There goes our privacy…oh wait…what privacy?

F.B.I. Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds

By 

WASHINGTON — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.

The F.B.I. soon plans to issue a new edition of its manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, according to an official who has worked on the draft document and several others who have been briefed on its contents. The new rules add to several measures taken over the past decade to give agents more latitude as they search for signs of criminal or terrorist activity.

The F.B.I. recently briefed several privacy advocates about the coming changes. Among them, Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that it was unwise to further ease restrictions on agents’ power to use potentially intrusive techniques, especially if they lacked a firm reason to suspect someone of wrongdoing.

“Claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse,” Mr. German said, pointing to complaints about the bureau’s surveillance of domestic political advocacy groups and mosques and to an inspector general’s findings in 2007 that the F.B.I. had frequently misused “national security letters,” which allow agents to obtain information like phone records without a court order.

Valerie E. Caproni, the F.B.I. general counsel, said the bureau had fixed the problems with the national security letters and had taken steps to make sure they would not recur. She also said the bureau, which does not need permission to alter its manual so long as the rules fit within broad guidelines issued by the attorney general, had carefully weighed the risks and the benefits of each change.

“Every one of these has been carefully looked at and considered against the backdrop of why do the employees need to be able to do it, what are the possible risks and what are the controls,” she said, portraying the modifications to the rules as “more like fine-tuning than major changes.”

Some of the most notable changes apply to the lowest category of investigations, called an “assessment.” The category, created in December 2008, allows agents to look into people and organizations “proactively” and without firm evidence for suspecting criminal or terrorist activity.

Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

Mr. German said the change would make it harder to detect and deter inappropriate use of databases for personal purposes. But Ms. Caproni said it was too cumbersome to require agents to open formal inquiries before running quick checks. She also said agents could not put information uncovered from such searches into F.B.I. files unless they later opened an assessment.

The new rules will also relax a restriction on administering lie-detector tests and searching people’s trash. Under current rules, agents cannot use such techniques until they open a “preliminary investigation,” which — unlike an assessment — requires a factual basis for suspecting someone of wrongdoing. But soon agents will be allowed to use those techniques for one kind of assessment, too: when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.

Agents have asked for that power in part because they want the ability to use information found in a subject’s trash to put pressure on that person to assist the government in the investigation of others. But Ms. Caproni said information gathered that way could also be useful for other reasons, like determining whether the subject might pose a threat to agents.

The new manual will also remove a limitation on the use of surveillance squads, which are trained to surreptitiously follow targets. Under current rules, the squads can be used only once during an assessment, but the new rules will allow agents to use them repeatedly. Ms. Caproni said restrictions on the duration of physical surveillance would still apply, and argued that because of limited resources, supervisors would use the squads only rarely during such a low-level investigation.

The revisions also clarify what constitutes “undisclosed participation” in an organization by an F.B.I. agent or informant, which is subject to special rules — most of which have not been made public. The new manual says an agent or an informant may surreptitiously attend up to five meetings of a group before those rules would apply — unless the goal is to join the group, in which case the rules apply immediately.

At least one change would tighten, rather than relax, the rules. Currently, a special agent in charge of a field office can delegate the authority to approve sending an informant to a religious service. The new manual will require such officials to handle those decisions personally.

In addition, the manual clarifies a description of what qualifies as a “sensitive investigative matter” — investigations, at any level, that require greater oversight from supervisors because they involve public officials, members of the news media or academic scholars.

The new rules make clear, for example, that if the person with such a role is a victim or a witness rather than a target of an investigation, extra supervision is not necessary. Also excluded from extra supervision will be investigations of low- and midlevel officials for activities unrelated to their position — like drug cases as opposed to corruption, for example.

The manual clarifies the definition of who qualifies for extra protection as a legitimate member of the news media in the Internet era: prominent bloggers would count, but not people who have low-profile blogs. And it will limit academic protections only to scholars who work for institutions based in the United States.

Since the release of the 2008 manual, the assessment category has drawn scrutiny because it sets a low bar to examine a person or a group. The F.B.I. has opened thousands of such low-level investigations each month, and a vast majority has not generated information that justified opening more intensive investigations.

Ms. Caproni said the new manual would adjust the definition of assessments to make clear that they must be based on leads. But she rejected arguments that the F.B.I. should focus only on investigations that begin with a firm reason for suspecting wrongdoing.

Herman Cain Would Require Muslim Appointees To Take A Special Loyalty Oath

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from ThinkProgress)

By Scott Keyes on Jun 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm

In March, formers Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain burst onto the presidential scene when he told ThinkProgress that he “will not” appoint Muslims in his administration.

Under intense pressure, Cain’s campaign walked back the candidate’s words, saying that he would appoint “any person for a position based on merit.” However, the next week, Cain hedged his retraction, telling the Orlando Sun Sentinel that he would only appoint a Muslim who disavowed Sharia law, but that “he’s unaware of any Muslim who’d be willing to make such a disavowal.”

On the Glenn Beck Show today, the host asked the Georgia Republican about his refusal to appoint Muslims. Cain told Beck that he would be willing to appoint a Muslim only “if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first.” Beck followed up by asking if he was calling for “some loyalty proof” for Muslims. Cain said, “Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.” When Beck then asked “Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?” Cain told the host, “Nope, I wouldn’t.”:

BECK: You said you would not appoint a Muslim to anybody in your administration.

CAIN: The exact language was when I was asked, “would you be comfortable with a Muslim in your cabinet?” And I said, “no, I would not be comfortable.” I didn’t say I wouldn’t appoint one because if they can prove to me that they’re putting the Constitution of the United States first then they would be a candidate just like everybody else. My entire career, I’ve hired good people, great people, regardless of their religious orientation.

BECK: So wait a minute. Are you saying that Muslims have to prove their, that there has to be some loyalty proof?

CAIN: Yes, to the Constitution of the United States of America.

BECK: Would you do that to a Catholic or would you do that to a Mormon?

CAIN: Nope, I wouldn’t. Because there is a greater dangerous part of the Muslim faith than there is in these other religions. I know that there are some Muslims who talk about, “but we are a peaceful religion.” And I’m sure that there are some peace-loving Muslims.

Watch it:

Cain’s call for a loyalty oath targeted at a specific segment of the population is a historical relic that ought to be confined to the past. Forcing a subset of Americans to prove their loyalty to the United States was as wrong during the era of McCarthyism as it is today.

Cain’s requirement that Muslim nominees take a loyalty oath while Catholics and Mormons would be exempted is not only bigoted, it’s also ironic considering that the same suspicion was once levied at Catholics. During the 1960 presidential election, anti-Catholic sentiment held that if then-Sen. John F. Kennedy were elected president, his Catholic faith would make him beholden to the Pope rather than the United States. Such views were abhorrent when directed at Catholics 50 years ago, and they are abhorrent when directed at Muslims today.

Three months ago, ThinkProgress wrote, “As the Republican presidential nomination process begins, one GOP candidate is making a name for himself as the Islamophobia candidate: Herman Cain.” Unfortunately, we are seeing just how true that prediction was.

Right-Wing Media Attacked Muslim Advocates for Giving Muslims Common Legal Advice

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2011 by loonwatch

Farhana Khera did a good job at the Dick Durbin hearings today.

Right-Wing Media Attacked Muslim Advocates for Giving Muslims Common Legal Advice

(Media Matters)

As a Senate subcommittee is poised to begin a hearing on Muslim civil rights, several right-wing media outlets are attacking Farhana Khera, a witness at the hearing and the executive director of the Muslim legal advocacy group Muslim Advocates, for urging American Muslims to have an attorney present when speaking to law enforcement. But this is standard advice given by many legal rights advocacy groups, including the American Bar Association and the Naval Legal Service Office.

Legal Groups Regularly Advise People To Have An Attorney Present When Speaking To Law Enforcement…

American Bar Association: It Is “Wise To Have A Lawyer Present” When Questioned By Law Enforcement. The ABA’s Division for Public Education provides the following advice:

Is it wise to have a lawyer present during interrogations?

Yes, even when you are not in custody. It is a good idea to call the local public defender or a lawyer in private practice before you talk to the police. A lawyer, or possibly a public defender, will be permitted to accompany you to the police station and be present to protect your interests during police questioning.

Many people believe that what they say to the police is not admissible unless written down, recorded on tape, or said to a prosecutor or judge. That is not true. To be on the safe side, you should assume that anything you say to anybody but your lawyer could be used against you at trial. [AmericanBar.org, accessed 3/29/11]

ABA: “It Is Generally Sound Advice To Consult With A Lawyer Before You Agree To Talk To The Police.” From the ABA’s Family Legal Guide:

Should I talk to the police if they want to question me about a criminal investigation?

If you are a witness to a crime, you should share your knowledge with the police. Without information from witnesses, police would be unable to solve crimes and prosecutors would be unable to convict guilty defendants in court. If, on the other hand, you played a role in the crime, or you think the police want to question you as a possible suspect, you have a right to refuse to talk to the police. You also have the right to consult with a lawyer regarding whether you should talk to the police. It is generally sound advice to consult with a lawyer before you agree to talk to the police. [American Bar Association Family Legal Guide2004, page 575-576, accessed via Amazon.com]

Naval Legal Service Office “Attorneys Strongly Encourage Service Members To Seek Legal Advice” Before Speaking With Law Enforcement. From the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps’ “Legal Services FAQ”:

Q. What rights do I have regarding making statements and speaking with an attorney?

A. As a military service member, you have specific rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and under the military’s version of “Miranda Rights,” known as “Miranda / Tempia Rights.”

PLEASE NOTE: If you are suspected of committing misconduct, then any attempt to interview you should begin with the investigator / questioner telling you that you are suspected of a specific violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or civilian criminal laws. They must tell you what the nature of the violation is so that you may direct your answers specifically to those allegations.

When interrogated, you should be told the following:

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Any statement you make may be used against you in a trial by court-martial (or any court of law);
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer before any questioning. This lawyer may be a civilian lawyer retained by you at your own expense, a military lawyer appointed to act as your lawyer (for the purposes of assisting you with the questioning) without cost to you, or both;
  • You have the right to have such retained civilian lawyer and/or appointed military lawyer present during this interview; and
  • If you decide to answer questions without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop the interview at any time. You also have the right to stop answering questions at any time in order to obtain a lawyer.

Q. Should I make a statement?

A. This question cannot be answered without first speaking to an attorney. You have certain legal rights (listed above) and one of them is to remain silent. You also have the right to speak to an attorney prior to making any statements. NLSO [Navy Legal Services Office] attorneys strongly encourage service members to seek legal advice prior to making any official or unofficial, written or oral statements to command representatives, law enforcement officials (military or civilian), investigators and any other person asking questions. Investigators and command members must advise you of your rights under Article 31(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) prior to asking you any questions regarding criminal matters in which you are a suspect. Especially in situations where your rights are read or shown to you and you are told in advance of questioning that you are considered a suspect, NLSO attorneys strongly encourage you to exercise those rights and speak to an attorney prior to making any statement. [JAG.Navy.Mil, accessed 3/29/11]

ACLU: “If You Are Contacted By The FBI… Have A Lawyer Present.” From an American Civil Liberties Union fact sheet on “What To Do If You’re Stopped By Police, Immigration Agents or the FBI”:

IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY THE FBI

If an FBI agent comes to your home or workplace, you do not have to answer any questions. Tell the agent you want to speak to a lawyer first.
If you are asked to meet with FBI agents for an interview, you have the right to say you do not want to be interviewed. If you agree to an interview, have a lawyer present. You do not have to answer any questions you feel uncomfortable answering, and can say that you will only answer questions on a specific topic. [ACLU.org, accessed 3/29/11]

ACLU: “It Is A Good Idea To Talk To A Lawyer Before Agreeing To Answer Questions.” From the ACLU pamphlet “Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement”:

Q: Do I have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers?

A: No. You have the constitutional right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else), even if you do not feel free to walk away from the officer, you are arrested, or you are in jail. You cannot be punished for refusing to answer a question. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before agreeing to answer questions. In general, only a judge can order you to answer questions. [ACLU.org, accessed 3/29/11]

… But Right-Wing Media Nonetheless Smeared Khera For Giving That Advice To Muslims

Investigative Project On Terrorism Highlights Muslim Advocates’ Advice To Have An Attorney Present When Speaking With Law Enforcement. From a March 28 article by IPT News, the news service of Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism:

Another Muslim Advocates message is that Muslims should never talk to the FBI without an attorney present. The group’s web page includes an alert advising:

“The FBI is contacting Pakistani, South-Asian and other Muslim Americans to solicit information and advice about addressing violent extremism.

Muslim Advocates strongly urges individuals not to speak with law enforcement officials without the presence or advice of an attorney.”

During the July 2010 Islamic Society of North America conference, Khan warned Islamic community leaders about talking with FBI agents, saying the FBI only wants to use them as “sources” to cause unspecified “harm.”

“And sometimes these community members don’t even think of themselves as a source,” Khera said.” You know that they just might think themselves – Well I have a good relationship with the head of the FBI office; you know he comes by my office from time to time and we have tea, or we go to lunch, and he just talks to me about the community. But what may seem like an innocuous set of conversations in the FBI’s mind they may be thinking of you as an informant, as a source. And the repercussions and the harm that that can cause can be pretty serious.”

One example she cites is the case of Imam Ahmed Afzali, who was deported last July after pleading guilty to lying to federal agents about his communication with terrorist suspect Najibullah Zazi.

FBI agents had sought Afzali’s help in finding Zazi, who was being sought as he traveled to New York in hopes of carrying out a bombing attack on the subway system. Afzali later called Zazi, alerting him to the fact law enforcement was after him, allowing Zazi to evade law enforcement surveillance.

In remarks at last summer’s ISNA convention, Khera asserted that Afzali’s plight was the result of his speaking to the FBI without counsel, rather than because of his tipping off a wanted terror suspect. [IPT News, 3/28/11]

Daily Caller Attacked Khera For “Opposition To Easy Cooperation With Police Forces.” From a March 28 Daily Caller article:

Khera’s claim to represent ordinary Muslims, however, is tainted by her cooperation with Islamist groups, and by support for Ahmed Afzali, an Afghan-born New York imam. A court ordered Afzali expelled last April after he confessed to warning a suspect terrorist, Najibullah Zazi, of an FBI investigation into his activities. Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, pled guilty in February 2010 to preparing a suicide-bomb attack on civilians in the New York subway.

Khera entangled herself in the terror case in June 2010, after the guilty verdicts, when she spoke at a Chicago convention of Muslims. At the event, she described the Afzali’s tip-off to the suspected suicide-bomber as “self-policing” by Muslim community, not as aid for a would-be murderer. “The imam thinking that he was doing his civic duty, went, spoke to Zazi and said – Hey, what are you doing?,” according to a transcript of Khera’s remarks provided by the IPT. “Police are you know asking questions about you, you better not be up to anything bad.” The imam, she said, thought he was “doing his duty, what he thought was his civic responsibility, and helping, as so many of our community members feel like, to help self-police the community.”

Afzali’s subsequent expulsion, added Khera, “is just one example of really frankly the risks and consequences of engaging with law enforcement without an attorney.” Khera’s opposition to easy cooperation with police forces is matched by other Islamist groups, which argue that federal, state and local governments should appoint them as the conduits through which resident Muslims should deal with the government and law-enforcement. In January, for example, CAIR’s California branch posted an image on its website urging Muslims to “Build A Wall of Resistance. Don’t Talk to the FBI.” CAIR was founded by Islamists with ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is the Gaza-based affiliate of the brotherhood.

Critics say Islamists’ campaign to limit cooperation with law-enforcement is a part of the groups’ effort to prevent the assimilation of immigrant and U.S.-born Muslims into secular American culture. This effort is also illustrated by pressure on Muslim girls to wear the hijab, which isolates them from non-Muslim men, the critics say. [Daily Caller, 3/28/11]

Gaffney: “Troubling” That Khera “Has Discouraged Muslims From Cooperating With Law Enforcement.” From Frank Gaffney’s March 28 Washington Times column:

Scarcely less troubling are [Sen. Richard] Durbin’s [D-IL] choice of witnesses. They include “civil rights activist” Farhana Khera, who Mr. Emerson recounts has discouraged Muslims from cooperating with law enforcement, and retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is a prominent participant in interfaith dialogues manipulated by the largest Muslim Brotherhood front in the United States, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). [Washington Times3/28/11]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some highlights included:

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

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

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

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

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

Allen West: I Can’t Be Islamaphobic, I Brought ‘The Light Of Freedom Into The Islamic World’ When I Invaded Iraq

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by loonwatch

Does Allen West suffer from amnesia or is he perpetrating dissimulation?

Allen West: I Can’t Be Islamaphobic, I Brought ‘The Light Of Freedom Into The Islamic World’ When I Invaded Iraq

(ThinkProgress)

At a townhall meeting Monday, tea party firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-FL) got into a shouting match with a Muslim attendee who confronted West about his history of highlyIslamophobic comments. “Don’t try to blow sunshine up my butt and tell me [Islam] is all warm and fuzzy,” the congressman angrily responded to the questioner’s assertion that Islam is not a violent religion.

West appeared on Fox and Friends this morning to discuss the incident. Propped up by Fox host Steve Doocy, West, a retired lieutenant colonel, said he couldn’t possibly be Islamaphobic because, “I have done my share to bring the light of freedom into the Islamic world” while serving with the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan:

DOOCY: You stood up for the principles of the Muslim countries. You served abroad, and you tried to keep freedom alive in Muslim countries.

WEST: Absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things that we should understand. You know, we went into Kosovo to protect the Muslim population there. You know, I was there in Desert Storm and Desert Sheild to protect Kuwait. I served in Iraq, I’ve been in Afghanistan, I spent two and half years there.

So I think I’ve done my share to bring the light of freedom into the Islamic world. And for this young man to come up to me and try to castigate me as some enemy of Islam, I will not tolerate that.

Watch it:

Indeed, West served for 20 years in the military, but his career ended abruptly in 2003 when he resigned under a cloud while facing a court martial over the brutal interrogation of an unnamed Iraqi man. According to his own testimony during a military hearing, West watched four of his men beat the suspect, then West said he personally threatened to kill the man while holding a pistol. According to military prosecutors, West later took the detainee outside and fired a 9mm pistol inches from the man’s head, in order to make him believe he would be shot. West thought the man had information about an assassination plot against him.

It’s telling that West sees occupying another nation and then brutally mistreating one of their citizens as bringing “the light of freedom into the Islamic world.”

 

Allen West Changing His Tune on Islam?

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West used to be fond of saying Islam is not a religion at all but it now seems he is changing his tune and claiming that he against the “radical jihadist movement” and most surprisingly of all that he “respects Islam.” I don’t believe him at all, it sounds to me like when Geller said she “loves Muslims.” Don’t you love how deceptive these Islamophobes are?

Allen West defends remarks on Islam

By William Gibson

Several religious leaders told South Florida Congressman Allen West on Wednesday they have “deep concern” over his recent comments about a Muslim colleague in Congress and about “your tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam.”

West immediately replied that he respects Islam, has fought to protect religious freedom and has directed his scorn only at “a radical jihadist movement.”

The flap came over West’s comments at town hall meetings in South Florida and in a recent interview on the “Shalom Show,” a TV program about Jewish life and Israel.

The religious leaders from Jewish, Christian and inter-faith groups wrote a letter to West accusing him of calling U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the “antithesis of the principles on which this country was established” because he is Muslim.

“Regrettably, this is just the latest example of your tendency to offer intemperate comments about Islam,” the letter says. “At a town hall meeting during your campaign, you characterized Islam as America’s enemy and asserted, `Islam is a totalitarian, theocratic political ideology; it is not a religion.’ Such untrue and inflammatory remarks intensify an unsettling trend of anti-Muslim rhetoric and fear in our country. They are also likely to confuse your constituents as to the differences between radical, Islamic extremists and non-violent adherents to Islam.”

The letter was signed by the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance; Rabbi Jack Moline, director of public policy for The Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and the Rev. J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

In response, West said on Wednesday his comments on Ellison “are not about his Islamic faith but about his continued support of CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations.”

“It is the extremist, radical element that has hijacked Islam that presents a dangerous threat to both our country and our allies throughout the world,” West said in a return letter. “This radical jihadist movement has no place in the United States of America or anywhere on earth.”

“The problem is, these fanatics are often supported by certain groups and organizations that masquerade as more peaceful moderates,” West wrote. “Organizations such as CAIR have long histories of supporting violent anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

West told the letter-writers he shares their goal to exercise and safeguard religious tolerance.

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Change the Constitution to Eliminate Muslim Rights”

Posted in Loon People, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by loonwatch

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s quite radical anti-Muslim statements are not only coming to light but people are realizing that she is really a neo-Con…finally! She supports the curtailing of our civil liberties and imperial adventures to “civilize” the Mooslims.

While Josh writes an excellent piece, he nonetheless shows that he was overcome by the same beliefs of Ayaan’s “oppression and victimization” before his post that many others have been duped into believing. Ayaan’s story has in large part been proved to be false. She never witnessed war in Somalia, she was never forced into a marriage with her cousin, nor was she threatened by her relatives with an honor killing.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali should not testify before Rep. Peter King

by Josh Rosenau

I started writing this post hoping to craft an argument that Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a Somali-born atheist (formerly Muslim), a former member of the Dutch Parliament, a screenwriter threatened with assassination for helpng Theo van Gogh (who was assassinated) criticize Islam’s treatment of women, a feminist critic of Islam who has won acclaim across the political spectrum in the US and Europe – ought to avoid testifying in forthcoming hearings on Islamic terrorism out of enlightened self-interest. The hearings have never been about anything but attacking Muslims in America, continuing the crusade against the Murfreesboro mosque and the lower Manhattan Muslim community center (not at Ground Zero, not a mosque), and committee chairman King is a widely-reviled bigot.

I wanted to observe that the noted feminist would be speaking at the behest of an opponent of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I wanted to argue that committee chairman Rep Peter King (R-NY) was a torture advocate, self-described as “most fervent fan” of the civil liberties-choking Patriot Act, and was so friendly to the IRA before they foreswore violence that he proudly called himself “the Ollie North of Ireland.” He told Politico in 2007: “We have – unfortunately – too many mosques in this country,” and surely she wouldn’t want to be associated with his regressive, repressive, illiberal agenda!

I wanted to say that no one who had survived the horrors of Somalia, who had been through enormous difficulties in escaping an arranged marriage and immigrating to a western democracy could want to support the reactionary, repressive, anti-immigrant buffoon who would be inviting her to testify. However nuanced and thoughtful her opposition to Islam, I wanted to argue, Hirsi Ali’s words would be twisted by the committee and by press coverage and used to justify scapegoating moderate American Muslims, including those who havehelped foil terrorist plots(which King denies ever happens). I wanted to push back againstThink Progress’s description of her as a reactionary on par with King.

I wanted to echo Christopher Hitchens’ summary of her views, and to say that Rep. King would not be interested in promoting this message:

Hirsi Ali calls for a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected but where the law does not—in the name of some pseudo-tolerance—permit genital mutilation, “honor” killing, and forced marriage.

I wanted to say that King’s agenda is a monomaniacal crusade against Muslims, ignoring terrorist attacks like the bomb detected before detonation at Spokane’s Martin Luther King Day parade, the Glen Beck-inspired kooks who have launched multiple murderous attacks,anti-abortion terrorism, the attack on Rep. Giffords, Oklahoma City, the “Minutemen” vigilantes, and other decidedly non-Muslim terrorists. I wanted to say that Hirsi Ali would not possibly support such a distraction from real terrorist threats, and I wanted to note that someone who has lived in the US for longer, and has more experience with violent extremists here, would be a more effective messenger in that effort to broaden the hearing’s scope. I wanted to respect her as much as many of my favorite bloggers seem to do.

Alas, I made the mistake of researching Hirsi Ali before posting, and my lines about her nuanced and sophisticated take on the situation, my attempts to see the best in her view, were consistently foiled by her actual words. I simply cannot say that Hirsi Ali’s views would be twisted to match King’s, because I think they are already aligned.

Here, for instance, is an interview with libertarian magazine Reason‘s Rogier van Bakel:

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times? Slavery in the United States ended in part because of opposition by prominent church members and the communities they galvanized. The Polish Catholic Church helped defeat the Jaruzelski puppet regime. Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes? Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims. Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam? Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace. Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”? Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy. Reason: Militarily? Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

(All emphasis original.)

I don’t claim to fully understand the path she’s describing, in which Islam is defeated – all of it (but not really the peaceful moderate part that apparently doesn’t exist) – then some part that wasn’t entirely defeated comes back to reform Islam’s legacy. It’s weird and self-contradictory, but let’s ascribe this to the difficulty of laying out complex ideas on the fly. Regardless of details, though, her message is clear: Islam must be defeated, crushed, with muscle, with the military, as an idea, and in the minds and bodies of 1.5 billion Muslims.

We’ve talked a bit about violent rhetoric lately, and I have a hard time seeing how the already threatened Muslim populations in the US are going to be safer when – in a House committee with CSPAN cameras and other media crowded around – a woman who looks like part of their community says that Islam is America’s enemy, that it must be “crushed,” that “you” (America? Americans?) must “flex your muscles” and “you” say “this is a warning” to Islam and to all Muslims. I think a lot of American Muslims already see their neighbors flexing muscles at them and giving these sorts of ill-defined threats. I can only see harm to my friends and neighbors coming from such rhetoric, and I’m sure it’s exactly what Peter King will want to hear.

I think he’ll also want to hear her reactionary views on civil liberties:

Hirsi Ali: The Egyptian dictatorship would not allow many radical imams to preach in Cairo, but they’re free to preach in giant mosques in London. Why do we allow it?Reason: You’re in favor of civil liberties, but applied selectively?

Hirsi Ali: No. Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties; it’s an attempt to save civil liberties. A nation like this one is based on civil liberties, and we shouldn’t allow any serious threat to them. So Muslim schools in the West, some of which are institutions of fascism that teach innocent kids that Jews are pigs and monkeys—I would say in order to preserve civil liberties, don’t allow such schools.

Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. …

Reason: Well, your proposal went against Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution, which guarantees that religious movements may teach children in religious schools and says the government must pay for this if minimum standards are met. So it couldn’t be done. Would you in fact advocate that again?

Hirsi Ali: Oh, yeah.

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago – ought to change?

Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

Every reactionary movement and every anti-democratic demagogue through history has made claims like “we have to destroy the Constitution to save it” or “we must restrict civil liberties to preserve them.” And yeah, that includes Rep. King, as it includes his hero“Tailgunner Joe” McCarthy. I cannot take seriously anyone who would argue with a straight face: “Asking whether radical preachers ought to be allowed to operate is not hostile to the idea of civil liberties.” It’s the very archetypical attack on civil liberties!

Like Hitchens, I wanted to believe Hirsi Ali just wants “a pluralist democracy where all opinion is protected,” but she doesn’t. She wants a pluralistic democracy where opinions like her own are protected, and that’s a problem, because then it stops being a democracy, and it isn’t pluralistic. Her right to get up and speak in Washington can only exist when a radical imam can speak freely down the street. I wanted to believe her claim that she is not against Muslim people, but against Islam – especially against Islam as a political movement. I don’t believe that any more. Maybe she and King deserve each other.

Similarly, I wanted to believe that Hirsi Ali would not wish to lend her support to Peter King’s anti-immigrant agenda, since she herself has seen how hard it is to get refuge in the West from repressive regimes, and she shows how much an immigrant can achieve under such circumstances. And yet I find that she worked with a reactionary, anti-Muslim Dutch politician to restrict immigration from the Muslim world, and continues to advocate for restrictions on immigration.

I wanted to see the good in her that so many liberal secularists do, but I can’t.

I think she and Rep. Peter King deserve each other.

 

Asra Nomani Supports This Kind of Harassment

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by loonwatch

It is wrong, it violates your religious liberty and you constitutional rights, but Asra Nomani would be happy to submit to it.

Civil Rights Groups: US Muslims’ Rights Violated at Border

(VOA)

Lawrence Ho is also a U.S. citizen, and a Muslim convert. He was stopped at a border crossing with Canada.

Ho says he was held for four hours and asked religious questions interrogation-style – in a closed room, by a special agent, with armed guards watching.

“They’re treating me like a suspect,” he says. “Like while I was in there, I just felt like I was a criminal. At a certain point they almost make you feel like you did something wrong.”

Civil liberties groups say U.S. border officials are violating the constitutional rights of American Muslims by asking about their religious beliefs and practices on their return from trips abroad.

Ho and Shibly’s testimony form part of a complaint to the government by two groups – the American Civil Liberties Union and Muslim Advocates.

It alleges that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, or CBP, has been questioning Muslims or people that appear to be Muslim about their religious and political beliefs, associations and activities.

Hina Shamsi is director of the ACLU’s National Security Project:

“Of course we all recognize that it is the government’s job to keep the country safe and secure, and we want it to do that,” she said. “But questioning innocent American Muslims about their religious and political beliefs does nothing to make us safer.”

She says it also violates the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty.

Shamsi says U.S. citizens and residents may only be questioned in this way if there is a reasonable suspicion, based on credible evidence, that a person has engaged in criminal activity. And the faith-related questions have to be relevant, she says.

“It cannot be a dragnet set of questions,” she added. “That is simply impermissible and unconstitutional.”

 

Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban

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

Why American Indians Are Watching The Fate Of The Oklahoma Sharia Ban

(TPMuckracker)

by Rachel Slajda

So far, the outrage over the so-called Sharia ban Oklahoma voters approved this month has focused on the freedom of religion of the state’s Muslim residents, culminating in a lawsuit by a CAIR official that has successfully stalled the law from going into effect.

But there’s another minority the ban could affect: American Indians.

The proposed constitutional amendment, approved by voters in a 70-30 margin, would prohibit state courts from considering not only Sharia law, but international law — defined as the law of other “countries, states and tribes.”

Oklahoma has a relatively large population of American Indians, who make up about eight percent of the state population, compared to one percent of the country as a whole. Part of the reason so many Indians live in the state is forced relocation programs like the Trail of Tears, which moved tribes from land in the Deep South to what the federal government had designated Indian territory in Oklahoma.

It’s possible the amendment could affect how disputes between Indians and non-Indians are settled in state courts, as well as the many historic treaties between tribes and the U.S.

Last year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that personal injury lawsuits, filed by non-Indian casino patrons, could be tried in state court. It’s still messy, though: Several tribes have entered arbitration with the state over the rulings, and some of their motions are still pending.

And then there are the treaties between the state’s tribes and the federal government. The ban specifically defines international treaties as a “source of international law.” So how would the Indian treaties be treated?

No one really knows, yet. Tribes and tribal lawyers are waiting to see what happens, mostly voicing private concerns but no official positions.

“It wouldn’t seem like it would be legal,” Chris White, director of governmental affairs for the Osage Nation, told Indian Country Today. “I’m not an attorney, but that’s the reason why the people I’ve talked to about it are concerned. They’re concerned about the treaties.”

Barbara Warner, the executive director of the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission, told the Norman Transcript she’s heard concerns that the law could be “detrimental” to the tribes.

An Oklahoma University law professor, Taiawagi Helton, who specializes in tribal law, told the Transcriptthe language is too “ambiguous” and allows ways for the “opportunistic” to avoid tribal law that would hurt their case. But he added that he believes the law will be struck down.

“The likely effect is it won’t have much effect at all,” he said.

The amendment is barred from going into effect until Nov. 29, when a federal judge will rule on CAIR’s legal challenge.

 

Mufreesboro: “America Better Off Without Muslims”

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by loonwatch

I don’t want to saturate today’s posts with Murfreesboro nuttiness, but this one was too good to pass up. So essentially some witnesses in the Murfreesboro Mosque trial are also funding groups who are “educating the public on the dangers of Islam.” (hat tip: Eric Allen Bell)

These witnesses also believe America should get rid of Muslims and that if anyone is teaching from the Quran it is against the law because the law is to teach from the Bible!

Witnesses fund lawsuit against local mosque

By: CHRISTIAN GRANTHAM, Post Contributor
Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:03 pm

A witness in the Murfreesboro mosque trial said she believed America would be better off without Muslims and pledged support to fight a proposed mosque in her community.

Murfreesboro resident Jeanetta Alford was called to the stand Thursday in an effort by plaintiffs to stop the construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County.

“If anyone is teaching out of the Qur’an, then yes, you are breaking the law,” Alford told the court. “I believe we have to follow the Bible and respect our government.”

Alford went on to describe the dangers of Sharia law and her new found fear of Islam after studying publications and hearing from local mosque opponents. Read the rest

 

The Material-Witness Charade

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , on May 14, 2010 by loonwatch
Daihatsu Charade

By James Bovard

Last September, a federal appeals court ruled that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could be personally sued for the unjustified incarceration of innocent people as “material witnesses” in the wake of 9/11.

The case involved a former college football star — Lavoni T. Kidd — who converted to Islam, changed his name to Abdullah al-Kidd, and was seized at Dulles Airport as he was preparing to travel to Saudi Arabia to pursue Islamic studies. Even though the feds had no evidence that al-Kidd — an American citizen — had done anything wrong, they locked him away for weeks as a “material witness.” The Washington Post noted,

He was detained for some two weeks, during which he was transferred to facilities in three states, subjected to multiple strip searches and held in cells that were lighted 24 hours a day. After his release, Mr. Kidd was required for more than a year to live with his wife and in-laws in Nevada while his travel was restricted to three adjacent states, and he had to report his whereabouts to a probation officer and consent to in-home visits.

The feds never charged al-Kidd or brought him forward as a witness for any trial. He sued in 2005, asserting that the detention violated his constitutional rights and that it had cost him both his marriage and his job.

The appeals court slammed the government hard:

The Fourth Amendment was written and ratified, in part, to deny the government of our then-new nation such an engine of potential tyranny. And yet, if the facts alleged in al-Kidd’s complaint are actually true, the government has recently exercised such a “dangerous engine of arbitrary government” against a significant number of its citizens, and given good reason for disfavored minorities (whoever they may be from time to time) to fear the application of such arbitrary power to them….

We find this to be repugnant to the Constitution, and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.

Not surprisingly, the Washington establishment is vigorously opposed to permitting courts to hold high-ranking government officials liable for trampling Americans’ constitutional rights. A Washington Post editorial fretted, “Officials should not have to fear personal lawsuits for performing their duties in good faith and in violation of no established legal precedent.”

In reality, the Bush-Ashcroft policy on material witnesses was brazenly unconstitutional from the start, as anyone who was not hopelessly kowtowing would have recognized.

After 9/11 the Justice Department locked up many people as material witnesses for potential testimony at some future date before a grand jury. On April 30, 2002, federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that policy to be unconstitutional: “Since 1789, no Congress has granted the government the authority to imprison an innocent person in order to guarantee that he will testify before a grand jury conducting a criminal investigation.” Scheindlin warned that the Bush administration’s interpretation of federal law could make “detention the norm and liberty the exception.”

The Bush administration appealed the case and ignored the ruling. Federal Judge Michael Mukasey, whom Bush would later select as his final Attorney General, upheld the Bush administration’s policy.

Secrecy

Scheindlin’s decision, unlike most of the Bush Justice Department’s post–9/11 actions, was not reached behind closed doors and then hidden from the world. But the Bush team strutted forward, ignoring any judge who did not kowtow to its power grabs.

The Justice Department refused to disclose the number of people jailed under the federal witness statute. The Washington Post reported in November 2002 that “nearly half ” of the 44 people the Post confirmed jailed under this provision “have never been called to testify before a grand jury” and that “at least seven of the witnesses were U.S. citizens.”

Nationally acclaimed Miami defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Neal Sonnett noted that the fact that some material witnesses never testified “would tend to indicate that the use of the material witness statute was more of a ruse than an honest desire to record the testimony of that person.” The Post noted, “The material witness cases have been adjudicated in unusual secrecy. Most, if not all, are subject to judicial sealing orders, and there is confusion among defense attorneys across the nation about what information they can make public.” A Loyola of Los Angeles Law Reviewanalysis concluded, “The government uses these [material witness] laws to round up people because of what it expects them to do, rather than what it can prove they have done.”

Steven Brill, author of After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era, noted that the material-witness hook was used in cases in which “not even minor crimes could be established, or where the government was worried that these people were so important that they did not want them to get lawyers quickly (as they would be entitled to if charged with any crime)…. Ashcroft’s team … would control when, if ever, that person might be asked to testify — meaning they would seek to hold the person indefinitely so as to coerce him to talk.” He also notes that detaining people as material witnesses meant that they “could be questioned without lawyers present because they were not being charged with any crime.”

High-profile cases

Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel was locked up for five months as a material witness largely because he might have served food to two of the 9/11 hijackers at the Delray Beach, Florida, restaurant where he worked. An FBI agent also asserted that a movie-theater ticket agent claimed to have seen Bellahouel go to the movies in the company of the hijackers. But as the Miami Daily Business Reviewnoted, “The FBI didn’t identify the theater employee. Nor did government lawyers produce her for cross-examination at the bond hearing” where Bellahouel was finally set free. Bellahouel denied ever having gone to the movie theater. During his detention Justice Department prosecutors sought “to strip Bellahouel of the court-appointed lawyer to which he became entitled when the material witness warrant was issued at the end of December 2001,” according to immigration attorney David Silk, who explained that the feds “quashed the [material witness] warrant to keep him from being represented when the FBI talked to him.” Bellahouel, who was a veterinarian in Algeria before coming to America, was released on a $10,000 bond on March 1, 2002.

Even though Bellahouel is married to an American citizen, the Justice Department sought to deport him because he entered the United States on a student visa in 1996 and completed only one year at Florida Atlantic University. His case became public knowledge only because of an error by a clerk at the federal appeals court in Atlanta.

One of the best-known material-witness cases involved Brandon Mayfield, an Oregon lawyer, whom the FBI arrested in 2004 for his alleged involvement in the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 and left 2,000 wounded. A U.S. counterterrorism official told Newsweek that Mayfield’s fingerprint was an “absolutely incontrovertible match” to a copy of the fingerprint found on a bag of bomb detonators near the scene of the Madrid attack. News of Mayfield’s arrest provided alarming evidence that Americans were involved in international conspiracies to slaughter civilians around the globe, and he was informed that he could face the death penalty for his crimes.

Employing USA PATRIOT Act powers, the feds, prior to the arrest, conducted secret searches of Mayfield’s home and tapped his phone and email. After the arrest, they froze his bank accounts. The FBI’s arrest affidavit revealed that its agents had “observed Mayfield drive to the Bilal Mosque located at 415 160th Ave., Beaverton, Oregon, on several different occasions.” Another incriminating detail in the arrest warrant: he had advertised his legal service in the Muslim Yellow Pages. (Mayfield, a former Army lieutenant, converted to Islam and has an Egyptian wife.) In early April, the Spanish police described Mayfield “as a U.S. military veteran who was already under investigation by U.S. authorities for alleged ties to Islamic terrorism,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Yet the key to the case — the fingerprint — was as bogus as a politician’s campaign promise. The FBI quickly claimed to have achieved a match on the partial print, but, on April 13, Spanish government officials warned the FBI that their experts were “conclusively negative” that Mayfield’s print matched the print on the bomb detonator bag.

Mayfield was arrested as a “material witness,” thereby permitting the feds to hold him as long as they pleased without charging him with a specific crime. After he was arrested, FBI agents raided his home and office and carted off boxes of his papers and his family’s belongings. Among the items seized were “miscellaneous Spanish documents,” according to an FBI statement to the federal court. These supposedly incriminating papers turned out to be the Spanish homework of Mayfield’s son. Perhaps elite FBI investigators suspected that “Hola, Paco. Como estas?” was a secret code.

Though the FBI never possessed anything on Mayfield aside from a misidentified fingerprint, it did not hesitate to paint him in sinister colors. The FBI informed a federal judge, “It is believed that Mayfield may have traveled under a false or fictitious name.” But Mayfield, whose passport expired the previous year, insisted he had not left the country. The FBI apparently never bothered to check whether he had been absent from the United States before making one of the most high-profile terrorism arrests of the year.

The FBI’s evidence was a heap of unsubstantiated hokum and ludicrous inferences. But the Justice Department refused to release Mayfield until after the Spanish government announced that they had found a clean match to the fingerprints on the bomb-detonator bag.

America is still in the dark regarding many of the legal atrocities that occurred since 2001. It will be a bright day for American liberty if John Ashcroft is placed on the witness stand and forced to testify under oath, hour after hour, day after day, about the crimes that he and others committed against the Constitution.

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy [2006] as well as The Bush Betrayal[2004], Lost Rights [1994] and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email: jbovard [at] his [dot ] com

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 edition of Freedom DailySubscribe to the print or email version of Freedom Daily.

 

Christians Must Obey God’s Law Over the Constitution

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by loonwatch
God's Law vs the laws of manGod’s Law vs the laws of man

Shortly after the Fort Hood Shooting, I published an article entitled Muslim Americans Must Obey U.S. Laws; Major Nidal Hasan Violated Islamic Doctrine, in which I detailed how Islamic doctrine dictates that Muslims  are religiously obligated to obey the laws of the land.  (This is similar to the Jewish concept of dina d’malchuta dina.)  The article generated an interesting discussion, with Islamophobes struggling to prove that Major Nidal Hasan’s treason was sanctioned by the Islamic religion.

An Islamophobe who routinely comments on our site posted the following:

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 203:

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

The ‘Prophet said, “It is obligatory for one to listen to and obey (the ruler’s orders) unless these orders involve one disobedience (to Allah); but if an act of disobedience (to Allah) is imposed, he should not listen to or obey it.”

This hadith, and others similar to it, are used by Islamophobes to call into question the loyalty of Muslim Americans.  Muslims must obey the Sharia over and above the Constitution, they bellow. Yet, what these self-proclaimed defenders of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition fail to mention is that Christians believe in obeying God’s Law (the Christian Sharia) over and above the laws of the land.  If God’s Law and the Constitution were to be in conflict, the Christian would be religiously obligated to follow the former.

Let’s take a gander at some reputable Christian “fatwa sites”…The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry decrees:

[Question:] Shall we obey God’s Law or human law?

[Answer:] …The simple answer is that Christians are to obey human law except where that human law violates God’s Law.  Our supreme duty is to obey God.  Since God tells us to also obey human laws, we should.  But, when they come in conflict, we are to “obey God rather than men.”

GotQuestions.org says (emphasis is mine):

Question: “Do Christians have to obey the laws of the land?”

Answer: …We are to obey the government God places over us…

The next question is “Is there a time when we should intentionally disobey the laws of the land?” The answer to that question may be found in Acts 5:27-29, “Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” From this, it is clear that as long as the law of the land does not contradict the law of God, we are bound to obey the law of the land. As soon as the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the land and obey God’s law…

And the same site says elsewhere:

God commands us to obey the governmental authorities. The only allowance we have for disobeying the authorities is if they demand that we disobey something God has commanded (Acts 5:29)

And:

Romans 13:1-7 makes it abundantly clear that God expects us to obey the laws of the government. The ONLY exception to this is when a law of the government forces you to disobey a command of God (Acts 5:29).

In fact, the Christian apologist Hugo Grotius (1583-1645)–who is called “the father of modern international law”–writes in his book The Law of War and Peace (as quoted on p.184 of William J Federer’s The Ten Commandments and Their Influence on American Law):

Among all good men one principle at any rate is established beyond controversy, thatif the authorities issue any order that is contrary to the law of nature or to the commandments of God, the order should not be carried out. For when the Apostles said the obedience should be rendered to God rather than to men they appealed to an infallible rule of action.

In Judaism as well, there are times when a Jew is obligated to break the laws of the land; Rabbi Israel Schneider writes:

Indeed, there are times when the civil law, in conflict with the halacha [Jewish Law], is not binding.

In fact, this has created problems for the peace process, with some Jews refusing to evacuate the illegal settlements, thereby breaking international law in favor of their interpretation of the Halacha.  The Jerusalem Post writes:

Ex-IDF rabbis: Halacha is above military orders

A group of seven former IDF rabbis, including the former chief rabbis of the air force, the navy and the IDF Educational Division, have declared that in situations where Halacha and military orders clash, Halacha takes precedence.

So this belief, of following God’s commands above man’s, is shared by all three of the Abrahamic faiths.  It is strange then that Islamophobes, the self-proclaimed defenders of the Western Judeo-Christian tradition, only fear monger when it comes to Islamic beliefs.  It is this huge double standard that we have come to expose on our site.

Addendum:

A Muslim is religiously obligated to obey the laws of the land he lives in.  But he is only religiously permitted to live in non-Muslim lands in which he is free to practice his religion.  If the laws of the land would compel him to sin, then the Muslim is commanded to emigrate to another land where this is not the case.  (He is advised to leave the land, but is not permitted to rebel against the authority.)  Muslim Americans feel comfortable living in the United States of America, because of the country’s dedication to maintaining the freedom of worship.  As such, they feel there is no conflict between being an observant Muslim on the one hand and an American citizen on the other.

Muslim Americans are naturally weary of fighting their coreligionists in foreign wars that they feel are illegal and immoral.  However, there is currently no draft, and there has not been one for over thirty years.  (The draft is unconstitutional.)  As such, Muslims are not forced to fight in wars they feel are religiously impermissible, and thus there is no conflict.  At the same time, Muslim Americans feel that they have a very important role to play, building lines of communication and understanding between Muslims and Americans.  Muslim Americans believe in using all legal and peaceful political means at their disposal to bring their country away from war and to the path of peace.