Archive for Florida

BBC Asks: Is Anti-Muslim Politics on the Rise in Florida? Umm, Duh.

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by loonwatch
florida_mosque_protest
Protesters demand mosque be shut down

Is anti-Muslim politics on the rise in Florida?

Clashes between Muslim activists and Florida conservatives have turned the state into a stand-off. Why?

When hardware superstore Lowe’s pulled its advertising from the cable reality programme All-American Muslim, it did so at the behest of a small group called the Florida Family Association (FFA).

The FFA’s previous letter-writing campaigns have been targeted at shows with both gratuitous and non-traditional sexuality, like Behind Girls Gone Wild and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

All-American Muslim is the first show that FFA has targeted on the grounds that it obscured “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values”. But it’s not the first time Florida has made national headlines for sentiments hostile towards Muslims.

Last spring, pastor Terry Jones caused worldwide outrage when he burned a Koran at his church in Gainesville, Florida. In September, Nezar Hamze, head of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was the first person refused admission to the Broward County Republican party executive committee.

And Congressman Allen West, who represents constituents in South Florida, was recorded by the liberal website ThinkProgress last August saying “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”

‘Fear mongering’

The boycott by the FFA comes as distrust of Muslims is on the rise across the US. Statistics released by the FBI in November show that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by about 50% in 2010.

A family from All-American Muslim stands outside of a house All-American Muslim was targeted by a small Florida organisation

After a long quiet period, says Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, crimes against Muslims started up again in 2010 with the May fire bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida.

The big spike in hate crimes across the US, he says, coincided with the summer controversy over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero in New York City.

“There’s been a dramatic increase thanks to this completely ginned up controversy about the imposition of Sharia law,” says Mr Potok. “What we’re seeing is fearmongering on an absolutely massive scale.”

He is careful to point out that while speech against Muslims is not a hate crime, “words have consequences”.

That being said, his office has not observed a noticeable rise in anti-Islamic group activity in Florida.

Sense of urgency

However, the debate over Muslim ideology has become a political fulcrum in Florida, especially for Tea Party candidates. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Matthew Hendley, a reporter for the New Times, a weekly paper in Palm Beach and Broward county.

“Florida really is a hotbed for this kind of thing,” says Tim Murphy, a reporter for Mother Jones magazine who has covered the issue.

He notes several factors that make Florida unique: a history of well-organised political activism, large populations of both pro-Israeli Jewish residents and pro-Palestinian Muslim residents, and a few high-profile arrests of Muslims suspected of terrorist activity.

As reported in the Miami Herald, the FBI also investigated ties between the 9/11 hijackers and a Saudi family living in Sarasota, Florida.

To those concerned about Islamic extremism, says Mr Murphy, these arrests “give them a sense of urgency – ‘we need to act now.’”

In South Florida, political figures concerned with Muslim extremism and what they perceive as the spread of Sharia law are well-represented.

Joyce Kaufman, a south Florida radio host, frequently speaks out against Islam encroaching into classrooms and American culture, and her remarks are examples of the kind of extreme rhetoric now being heard.

At an event hosted by the anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller, Ms Kaufman said that “almost every act of political murder” has been done in the name of Allah.

When a Tampa imam was arrested on suspicion of aiding the Pakistani Taliban, religious leaders held a protest, demanding the mosque be shut down.

Former Florida Representative Adam Hasner, who is now running for the US Senate, has been vocal in the fight against Sharia law and the threat of radical Islam. When he was speaker of the house in Florida, he invited the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak at a summit. During his speech, Mr Wilders said while there may be moderate Muslims, “there is no such thing as a moderate Islam”.

A new approach

To that end, those who fight “radical Islam” often see any expression of Islam as a threat, say Muslim activists.

“I’ve been in South Florida my whole life. It’s been on a steady rise for the last few years,” says Mr Hamze, the man who was excluded from the Broward County Republican party. “Since ’07 or ’08, there has been an increase in activity,” he says. “Now there are churches involved with this, politicians involved, radio stations involved.”

Though his views as a Muslim hew closely to Republican views on social issues, his affiliations with CAIR – which opponents say is an organisation with extremist ties – factored into his exclusion.

Allen West stands at a rally Florida Congressman Allen West has sparred with members of CAIR over the values of Islam

While Florida Republicans actively courted Muslim voters in 2000, the party has now found success rallying voters against the dangers of militant Islam.

But they maintain that fight against Muslim extremism is not the same thing as a fight against Muslims. Rick Wilson, an advisor for Mr Hasner, says that CAIR and other groups “shout down any critique of extremism as a critique of Islam”.

“Opposing Islamic radicalism and opposing Sharia Islam, these are things, as Adam has frequently said, that speak to our national security in the first and our national character in the second,” says Mr Walker.

All-American Muslims

A fear of Muslim extremism in the US is not solely a Florida phenomenon, after all. While the Florida Family Association initially pushed Lowe’s to drop their All-American Family advertising, the campaign has found support across the country.

And Florida is not defined by groups like FFA.

Hasan Shibly, the director of the Tampa chapter of CAIR, recently moved from New York to Florida. He says that he’s never known Islamaphobia to be so rampant, but believes that for the most part, those attitudes belong to a vocal but small minority.

“I really don’t think this rhetoric is reflective of Floridians as a whole.”

NFL Team is on the Verge of Sharia Compliance!

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by loonwatch

After people heard that the owner and coach were replaced by a Pakastini-born Muslim and an African American, there was an uproar of Islamophobic and racist comments. If we want this country to prosper once again, we need to grow up, but when we allow comments like this to filter in, my hope diminishes:

“I wonder if Khan has any friends who are terrorists?,” asks forgotten man on www.FreeRepublic.com. “Rush Limbaugh was not allowed to buy into the Rams, but a Muslim from Pakistan can buy the Jaguars. Go figure.”

Fanning The Flames: New Jacksonville Jaguars Owner’s Muslim Faith Stirs Stupidity

[Jacksonville, FL] Last week, it was announced that the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team had been sold to super-successful Illinois businessman Shahid Khan. The deal was reported to be worth $760 million and includes a somewhat controversial first for the league.

Khan is a Pakistani-born Muslim, and will be the first of his faith to own a National Football League team. NFL team ownership is considered to be the ultimate trophy for American billionaires.

The sale is not 100% final, however, it still has to get approval from the league and the other owners, but Khan has had an ongoing relationship with the league for ten years so it seems a sure thing.

The Muslim-American community, which has been under attack since 9-11, no doubt sees Khan’s ownership as a sign that America is moving in the right direction, despite a vocal minority hell bent on demonizing all Muslims.

“He is the first … shows how American Muslims are integrating,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American Islam Relations.

The Jacksonville Jaguars press release talking up the sale didn’t mention the fact that Khan was Muslim. That was probably a good thing – on the same day the sale was announced, it was also revealed that long-time head coach Jack Del Rio had been fired and assistant coach Mel Tucker – an African-American – would be taking over.

This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a bigger impact in the news than on the field This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made a bigger impact in the news than on the field

For redneck racist types – and in North Florida there are more than a few – the fact that the white owner and white coach of their hometown NFL franchise were replaced by a Pakistani-born Muslim and a black guy was just too much to take, especially in ONE DAY.

This Jaguars ownership change could be the final straw that sends Confederate flag flyers fleeing pro football for the warm, white blanket of NASCAR.

Just last year, members of the Jacksonville City Council jumped on the Muslim hate train in what was described as a huge embarrassment for the region. Parvez Ahmed – a University of North Florida professor, Fulbright Scholar and Muslim – had his Human Rights Commission nomination sent back to the Rules Committee because of “constituent concerns.”

It had already been approved, mind you. But that was before the Islamophobes in the ACT! For America organization made a bunch of noise and the spineless jellyfish on the city council caved to their concerns.

Almost on cue, conservative news sites were rife with ugly comments about Khan’s big play.

“I wonder if Khan has any friends who are terrorists?,” asks forgotten man on www.FreeRepublic.com. “Rush Limbaugh was not allowed to buy into the Rams, but a Muslim from Pakistan can buy the Jaguars. Go figure.”

Forgotten man must have forgotten that Limbaugh has made multiple controversial racist remarks about black athletes over the years and that many players indicated that they would not play for Limbaugh’s team if he was even a part owner.

Khan just happens to have a religion in common with some people who have committed terrorist acts in the name of their god. The same could be said about any of the major religions.

When CNN ran the story, the comments sections was literally boiling over with stupidity, hate and a bit of Star Trek movie related humor (1982′s Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan features Captain Kirk famously yelling “KHAAANNNN!,” a familiar refrain in the comments section).

The awful stuff was counteracted by some progressive Jags/NFL fans protective of their city/league and of the new owner.

On CNN, Terri surmised, “That is how the Pakistani’s will get even with the United States. They plan to buy the NFL, one team at a time, and move it to Pakistan.”

Also on CNN, someone calling themselves Pakastani [sic] wrote, “The name of the new team will be the Jacksonville Jihadis. Expect the cheerleaders to show some ankle during games!”

DisgustedNY was concerned that, “Now you have some guy who grew up in Pakistan dictating what happens with an American tradition.”

But they weren’t all an embarrassment to America’s melting pot philosophy. JaxFan noted the political ramifications of Khan’s ownership, saying that, “The level of religious ignorance and intolerance represented in some of the city’s supposed leaders will make it absolutely hilarious to see those same anti-gay, anti-Muslim religious righties having to kiss the butt of a Muslim who now holds the keys to the Jaguars and their possible relocation.”

The Jacksonville community loves their team (and t-shirt cannons) The Jacksonville community loves their team (and t-shirt cannons)

“I think any comments challenging the prospective buyer’s ‘credentials’ as an American are immature,” offered Jeremy. “The guy has been here 40+ years, went to school for engineering here (actually did a degree that is USEFUL), worked for an American company, started his own American company (notice from the link posted above, that ALL the factories for his company are in the US?), and finally has had a dream of buying an NFL team.”

“America was founded based on principles of freedom of religion,” continued Jeremy. “I say let him take the team and see what he can do with it!”

Things were about the same on Yahoo! News … Mac offered: “A new way to launder money to the terrorists. Wonderful.” And from John: “Sold to Islamic Terrorist from Pakistan.”

Jake was downright racist in saying that, “schweet! sell them to a Sand Monkey.” And from Thomas: “I think he got the money to buy the team by tipping off where Bin Laden was hiding.”

DEF appeared to be a buoy of reason in a sea of hate and stupidity, analyzing that, “As a 20-year resident of Jacksonville, I can say that this is the most conservative bible belt town I have ever lived in. It has a huge redneck/conservative Christian base not to mention that many of them have their predisposed prejudices against Muslims.”

“This new owner … has a great opportunity to change Jacksonville for the better,” he said.

Although DEF cautions Khan – and he makes a good point in doing so that if Khan moves the team from Jacksonville (as has been widely speculated) that he, “could certainly see many in Jacksonville reacting by building a much deeper hatred for Muslims. … It could get ugly.”

I think you mean uglier.

By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate

Politicians are Politely Avoiding Tea Party Convention

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Politicians are politely avoiding Tea Party Convention

by Scott Powers (Orlando Sentinel)

The Tea Party opens a long-planned convention tonight in Daytona Beach, expecting 1,200 delegates, dozens of speakers — but almost no big-name politicians.

None of the leading Republican presidential candidates and only two of the five U.S. Senate candidates agreed to speak at the three-day Florida Tea Party Convention at the Volusia County Ocean Center.

And top Republican officeholders who have previously courted Tea Party support — Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Allen West of Plantation — also sent their regrets.

Organizers said they still expect two presidential candidates: U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. But neither campaign would confirm they’re coming, and their campaign schedules don’t list the convention.

Sid VanLandingham, the convention’s communications director, blamed the busy campaign season, saying a regional event has a tough time competing for attention.

“The [politicians’] schedulers, they’re making last-minute decisions, hopping from place to place, and it’s changing constantly,” he said.

In fact, all of the politicians who responded to Sentinel inquiries cited scheduling conflicts, though the convention dates were set months ago. And their absence leaves many observers puzzled, considering how popular tea-party events have been among most Republican candidates.

Liberals say the depiction of tea partyers as “extremists” — especially on issues such as immigration — is prompting candidates to keep their distance.

“A lot of politicians are worried about being painted by that association, especially as we get into the real meat of the election cycle,” said Mark Ferrulo, executive director of the liberal, Tallahassee-based Progress Florida.

The convention has attracted more than 30 political and social conservatives — many from out of state — as speakers. Among them: John Michael Chambers, founder of the Save America Foundation; Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition; and Mathew Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel.

VanLandingham, whose home group is the South Lake 912 Tea Party of Clermont, said the big-name politicians might have been a draw, but they are not the point.

“It’s a grass-roots gathering of people from around the state to share what works, what doesn’t work, and to share projects,” he said, citing workshops on how to organize for the 2012 elections.

The only statewide candidates expected to come are Mike McCalister of Plant City and Craig Miller of Winter Park, both underdog candidates for U.S. Senate.

Those who expressly said they are not coming include GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman, and GOP Senate candidates Adam Hasner, George LeMieux and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.

A whirlwind of controversy in the past two weeks could have played a role, after the convention invited anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller to speak and an American Muslim civil-rights group, the Council of American-Islamic Relations, protested.

“They [CAIR] put pressure, I think, on some of the state officials, and I think some of the state officials, in their judgments, they declined to go,” VanLandingham said. “Their [the officials’] reasons were ‘prior commitments.’ ”

Geller writes an anti-Islam blog called Atlas Shrugs and leads an organization called “Stop Islamization of America.” Last year, she received wide attention — and stoked bitter anger from American Muslim groups — with her harshly worded opposition to a proposed Muslim community center a few blocks from ground zero in New York City.

Last month, CAIR sent letters to Florida politicians urging them not to attend the convention if Geller was on the schedule. And when Rubio and Scott indicated they would not come, CAIR issued a news release thanking them.

Geller said CAIR tries to get her appearances canceled or boycotted wherever she goes. But she said she is certain her appearance in Daytona had nothing to do with all the declined invitations.

“The politicians decided not to participate before this controversy began,” she said in an email.

But CAIR is not so sure.

“In other states, elected officials have pulled out and do not want to be on the same stage as her,” said CAIR media-relations director Ahmed Rehab.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott Not Sharing Stage with Islamophobe Pamela Geller

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

“If you are an Islamophobe, and even Tea Party Politicians don’t want to hang out with you, you are in trouble.”

We live in the age of organized Islamophobia. Anti-Muslims coalesced after 9/11 and created, in effect, an industry that sought to influence public officials, government bodies and the masses across the United States and Europe. While the forces involved may come from different backgrounds in terms of ideology, faith and political persuasion they are united in their efforts to demonize Islam and Muslims.

Anti-Muslim Islamophobes have created a structure of Islamophobia that cuts across many levels. They hope that in people’s minds Islam will become the new Nazism and Communism combined or worse, because at least the former two enemies of humanity were “Western” and had some “rationality,” whereas Islam is the incomprehensible beast from the East.

Reza Aslan explains it well:

Simply put, Islam in the United States has become otherized. It has become a receptacle into which can be tossed all the angst and apprehension people feel about the faltering economy, about the new and unfamiliar political order, about the shifting cultural, racial, and religious landscapes that have fundamentally altered the world. Across Europe and North America, whatever is fearful, whatever is foreign, whatever is alien and unsafe is being tagged with the label ‘Islam.’ (No god but God)

Islamophobes work assiduously to push their agenda. They have boosted the profiles of (fake)ex-Muslims, (fake)scholars, and created a network of think tanks, foundations, “terror experts,” bloggers that have produced hate groups such as ACT! for America and SIOA amongst others.

Their activism is strong and they won’t stop anytime soon because that is what they get paid to do!

For some time American Muslims must have felt alone in fighting the scourge of bigotry and hatred that was aimed at them, however efforts such as ours here show that decent people from all walks of life can come together to fight the menace of fear-mongering and prejudice.

It is through the efforts of loonwatchers that we have agitated the SPLC and even the ADL to take firm stands against the Islamophobia movement. Loonwatchers were also instrumental in first booting Geller from the Hyatt Place in Sugarland, Texas and then evicting her crew from the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee where they planned a “Sharia Conference” that was really more of a love-in for the vanguard of Islamophobia.

Now, according to several reports, another victory, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott, Republicans from Florida say they will not participate in a Tea Party Convention where they would have shared the stage with Pamela Geller and another Islamophobe:

Rubio and Scott are listed as “confirmed speakers” at the convention, but representatives of their respective offices told CAIR-FL that the event is not on the senator’s nor the governor’s official schedule.

Before we published our article asking loonwatchers to contact both Rubio and Scott the two were still confirmed speakers at the Tea Party Convention. It is not out of the realm of possibility that Rubio and Scott may end up showing up for the convention, they are after all Republicans, but if this stands it is another strong rebuke to Geller, Spencer and the rest of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia movement.

Daniel Tutt writes that Islamophobes have noted that there is push back against them, and they are none too happy about it, this is why it is an opportune moment to point out that we have to continue to hound the Islamophobes. An elected official should never share the same podium as a Pamela Geller, the FBI should never allow its employees to be instructed or lectured by a Robert Spencer, universities should never invite a Nonie Darwish to their campus to deliver speeches on “Islam,” or “Sharia.”

We shouldn’t rest on our laurels! Loonwatchers should capitalize on the momentum and actively campaign, using fliers, letters, phone calls, organizing protests and rallies where ever and when ever Islamophobes attempt to gain legitimacy. We will do our part by exposing them for the frauds they are and giving you the ammunition to shed light on their hatred.

Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Allen West with Pamela “the loon” Geller

NPR exposes Allen West’s antagonistic attitude toward Islam and Muslims.

CAIR: Broward GOP Treats Muslims Worse Than Other Republicans

by Lisa Rab (Broward New Times)

U.S. Rep. Allen West has already tried to end federal funding for National Public Radio. But if he needed another reason to hate NPR, yesterday’s “All Things Considered” segment should do the the trick.
The story explored West’s view of Islam as a “totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology,” and his ongoing rhetorical battle with Nezar Hamze, the executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. No news there — the West/Hamze controversy has already been well-documented on the Pulp. But NPR took the story one step further, suggesting that Broward Republicans were more anti-Muslim than their GOP comrades in other states.

Last month, Hamze attempted to join the Broward Republican Executive Committee, and was soundly rejected by a “pit of discrimination.”

Yet committee chairman Richard DeNapoli told NPR:  ”I really don’t think this had anything to do with religion. It’s just that this was a widely known circumstance where he had made statements against Allen West, and the members reacted to that.”

Strike one. Broward Republicans will defend West to the end, even if it makes them look like bigots on national radio. But wait, there’s more!

“CAIR officials say they have good relations with other Republicans, but that in South Florida at least, the Republican Party and their Tea Party supporters have made Muslims feel unwelcome,”  NPR reporter Greg Allen said.

Ouch. This means South Florida — a predominantly Democratic area– is allegedly more prejudiced against Muslims than other Republican strongholds.

Congratulations, Broward. You are the new Strom Thurmond.

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2011 by loonwatch

Someone should tell pastor Terry Jones that all Arabs are not Muslims and all Muslims are not Arabs.

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Terry Jones, the Quran-burning pastor from Florida, is to lead a three-hour rally against Islam today at Dearborn City Hall followed by a 2-mile walk to the Arab International Festival, where he will further speak out. The three-day festival is the largest outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. and is held in Dearborn, known for its sizable Muslim population.

Jones, who led a rally at City Hall in April, gained worldwide attention for his threats to burn the Quran last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He didn’t go through with it, but he led a Quran-burning in Florida in March. He tried to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in April, but a jury ruled he would likely breach the peace, thwarting his plans. Jones has appealed that decision, which was criticized by the ACLU and some constitutional law experts as an infringement of his free-speech rights.

Jones said the decision was an example of sharia, or Islamic law, coming to America, which he said is a growing threat. Today, Jones plans to speak out against sharia again as part of a five-point plan he said will help fight Islam. One point calls for the “monitoring of all mosques to assure that they are places of worship and not of Islamic propaganda.”

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. has said repeatedly that the city has never implemented sharia.

In a letter sent this week to residents, O’Reilly said Jones and his supporters “are coming here to promote the concept that Islam is a false faith and that Muslims by teaching and nature are violent. We know that there is no substance to their message — their goal is to promote fear and hatred in others.”

Referring to Jones supporters, O’Reilly said he is urging the public to “ignore them and their empty words. Their goal is to bait and anger us so that they can then misrepresent who we are in order to serve their personal agenda.

“Debating them and confronting them at this event or in our city can produce no positive result for us.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com

Hasner: We are witnessing a ‘civilizational jihad’ in America, Florida

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by loonwatch

The last we posted about Hasner he was sitting in rapt attention to a speech from Geert Wilders.

Hasner: We are witnessing a ‘civilizational jihad’ in America, Florida

(Florida Independent)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner appeared on a Sarasota conservative talk show today, echoing previous comments on the dangers of Sharia in the Sunshine State by saying there is a “civilizational jihad” underway across the country and in Florida. Audio after the jump.

Hasner made the comments on The Dr. Rich Swier Show, hosted by Red County blogger Richard Swier. “We are not in a War on Terror,” Hasner said. “This is a civilizational struggle against an ideology of Sharia Islam.”

“It’s not just a threat on foreign soil,” he continued. “It’s also a threat from those who seek to destroy us from within. And we have a problem of domestic terrorism both in the violent form as well as in the civilizational jihad that we’re witnessing here in our own country and our own state.”