Archive for Kansas

Nathan Lean: The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Our friend Nathan Lean recently wrote on the Islamophobia network’s efforts in Kansas.

(Nathan also has a new book out, ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Check it out!)

The Islamophobia Industry Strikes in Kansas

by Nathan Lean (Huffington Post)

Just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Republican Governor Sam Brownback had a feeling he was not in Kansas anymore. At least not the Kansas that he once knew. His Sunflower State was teeming with unfamiliar creatures and though not tin-men or scarecrows or wicked witches, they were nonetheless outsiders and were apparently so unsettling that a law was required to prevent their influence: They were Muslims.

Last Friday, Brownback signed a bill prohibiting local courts from relying on sharia, or Islamic law, as well as other non-U.S. laws when making decisions. The fact that such a thing had never occurred in the Midwestern wheat capital did not matter. The bill was approved in a landslide vote: 33-1 in the Senate and 120-0 in the House.

Like other similar bills in 20 states, including recently enacted laws in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the blueprint for the controversial Kansas legislation comes from a familiar and influential source: a growing right-wing network of anti-Muslim fear mongers. They are the Islamophobia industry and laws such as this are hallmark achievements in their quest to frighten the American population about a minority group they view with great suspicion and scorn.

The deluge of anti-Muslim legislation that has unnecessarily clogged the corridors of power (and the minds of otherwise rational politicians) can be traced back to David Yerushalmi, a 57-year-old Hasidic Jew with a library’s worth of controversial statements about African Americans, fellow Jews and immigrants. A shadow agent of this fear industry, Yerushalmi has worked behind the scenes since 2001 to ratchet up an image of Islam and Muslims that is heavy on sensationalism and gore and short on context and fact. It was his organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (with the ironic acronym SANE) that once suggested that the U.S government should declare a war on the Muslim community, that Muslims should not be granted entry visas to the U.S., and that practicing Islam should be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The Kansas law, and the majority of the bills that were brought before state congresses, are based on a single piece of blueprint legislation crafted by Yerushalmi titled “American Laws for American Courts.” Along with former Reagan official Frank Gaffney, who is famous for suggesting that Barack Obama is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yerushalmi marketed the plan to lawmakers throughout the country, tapping into Tea Party bases and Republican activist groups such as ACT For America that welcomed the opportunity to institutionalize discrimination in their respective states.

In drumming up support for Kansas’s ban, bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller spread the word to their online bases through “Action Alerts” that warned of “Islamic supremacists” who were “seeking to impose the Sharia on non-Muslims.” They urged their supporters to “flood [Brownback’s] Twitter” and “jam his phones” with strong support for the bill.

Spencer and Geller co-founded Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) in 2010, an American offshoot of Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE), a hate group that the European Union calls a “neo-Nazi organization.” They also led the protests in 2010 to the Park51 Community Center (remember the Ground Zero Mosque?) in New York City. Yerushalmi and Gaffney serve as their legal counsel. When the Kansas bill was signed, Geller reacted with her usual flamboyance: “U Da Best,” she wrote. “What a disaster defeat for Hamas-CAIR,” she added.

Supporters of the Kansas law point to the fact that it does not explicitly mention sharia and that it only refers to “foreign legal codes.” But it is clear from the people who are behind this newest manifestation of state-sanctioned Islamophobia that the statute is hardly intended to be an equal opportunity regulator. In fact, after court’s ruled last year that Oklahoma’s sharia ban violated the establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment, Yerushalmi took note of the bill’s language and wiped out language that could be interpreted as targeting Muslims specifically. This growing network operates on slyness and persistence.

The Islamophobia industry is a dangerous and influential group. They have successfully attached anti-Muslim sentiment to the banner of right-wing populism and it is fast becoming identical to anti-Semitism and other such structural racisms that have the potential to spill out into the ghastly displays of violence. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, for example, listed Spencer, Geller and Gaffney multiple times in the manifesto that served as a guidebook for his massacre in July 2011. This network clings to the notion that foreign is bad and that Muslims are not a natural part of America’s national fabric. They believe that they must not only be chastised and harassed but that local government’s should discriminate against them on the basis of their religion and foreign systems of order that the everyday, law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims of America don’t even follow to begin with.

There is no sharia law in Kansas. There is no sharia law anywhere in the United States. What there is, though, is a hateful band of anti-pluralists who take great joy (and make great money) in cleaving society into various fragments that war with one another. It is time to shine a bright and damning light on the Islamophobia industry.

Nathan Lean is the Editor-In-Chief of AslanMedia.com. He is the co-author of ‘Iran, Israel, and the United States’ (2010) and the author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims.’ Visit him online at www.nathanlean.com and follow him on Twitter at @nathanlean.

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.

Over the Rainbow in Kansas: Anti-Sharia Legislation Passes Undercover of ‘Women’s Rights’ Rhetoric

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Dorothy…we’re still in Kansas?:

Kansas Legislature Passes Discriminatory Anti-Muslim Bill By Calling It A ‘Women’s Rights’ Issue

by Faiz Shakir (ThinkProgress)

Last week, the Kansas Senate became the latest state to enact a discriminatory measure against Muslims in America by passing a so-called Sharia ban. The bill goes before Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS), who has not indicated whethere he will sign or veto it.

Oklahoma passed a Sharia ban by ballot in 2010, but that measure has been deemed facially unconstitutional by the courts because it specifically targets Muslims for discrimination. Because of Oklahoma’s experience, state legislatures are moving bills that are more oblique about their discriminatory intent. South Dakota, Louisiana, Arizona, and Tennessee have all passed laws that ban “foreign law in American courts” and don’t mention Muslims or Sharia by name.

Kansas’ proposed anti-Muslim law also similarly asserts it is about promoting “American law for American courts.” (Note: the Constitution already establishes this in its Supremacy Clause.) Kansas Republican state Sen. Chris Steineger noted, the measure was “presented” to him as a billspecifically targeting Muslims:

But Sen. Chris Steineger, R-Kansas City, said a marketing campaign by supporters of the bill inundated him with materials that “explain why sharia law is coming and Muslims are trying to take over America.”

“I thought that was quite ludicrous at the time, and I still do,” Steineger said. “I pointed this out, because this was not presented as protecting the Kansas Constitution. The proponents of this measure, clearly by the literature they gave me and by the video link they directed me to, they presented this as protecting us against sharia law. Despite the fact that this doesn’t mention sharia, that’s how this whole issue was presented.”

Indeed, Kansas was bombarded by anti-Sharia emails and letters from out-of-staters. The bill’s sponsors and advocates proclaimed that it was really about protecting “women’s rights.” The bill helps “women know the rights they have in America,” said sate Rep. Peggy Mast (R). “To me, this is a women’s rights issue,” said Sen. Susan Wagle (R). Nevermind that these same legislators have been engaged in a war against women’s healthPlanned Parenthoodthe right to choose, and so many other far more relevant “women’s rights” causes.

Right-wing legislators have been pushing Sharia bans across the country; roughly 20 other states are also considering similar legislation. The anti-Sharia legislative movement was spawned by David Yerushalmi, an influential Islamophobic lawyer who we profiled last year in Fear, Inc.

The anti-Sharia movement continues despite the fact that no evidence has been provided that there is any threat that a Sharia takeover is occurring. Kansas Republican state Sen. John Vratil “said he quizzed the bill’s supporters on when a Kansas court had ever based a decision on sharia law and had yet to be provided with an example.” As Vratil asserted, “Ladies and gentleman, this isa solution in search of a problem.” True, unless you are someone who views the increasing presence of Muslims in America as the problem.

Burned Wichita Mosque to be Rebuilt

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Churches and locals helping Muslims to rebuild their burned down mosque in Wichita, Kansas:

Burned Wichita mosque to be rebuilt

(WICHITA, Kan.) — A Wichita mosque near Taft and Knight that burned down in November will soon be in service again.

“Everybody knew that they wanted to rebuild and that we do need a center on the west side for the people that use it. How that was going to get done, there were some logistics that needed to be worked out,” explains Donna Sibaai, Islamic Association member.

Investigators have never determined a cause in last fall’s fire, but gave the mosque persmission to start rebuilding last month. On Monday, supplies for the building’s roof were delivered.

Sibaai adds, “It’s like the first piece of the puzzle, so it’s going to be a great day for our community.”

Sibaai says the fire was devastating, but an outpouring of support from the community and other churches made things easier.

“Many of us got personal emails, people just wanting to know what they could do to help, offering their spaces even for worship. We had several churches offer space for worship for our Friday prayers, it was amazing.”

A crane will be brought in a Wednesday to put the roof on the building. The mosque sustained about $130,000 in damages.

Jabir Hazziez Jr.: Action Aboard Airplane Creates a Reluctant Hero

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by loonwatch

Jabir_Hazziez_Jr.

When a Muslim does something good Islamophobes treat it as an aberration or an action done despite Islam. Remember according to the Islamophobes “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim.”

Action aboard airplane creates a reluctant hero

(Kansas City Star)

A man foaming at the mouth lunged for the airliner’s cabin door, attempting to open it as flight attendants struggled to hold him at bay.

Most of the post-Thanksgiving travelers cruising at some 30,000 feet toward Kansas City that day were unaware of the potential disaster looming at the front of the plane.

But when a crew member came on the intercom asking if anyone had medical training, passenger Jabir Hazziez Jr. heard the sense of concern in her voice.

What happened next came as no surprise to those who know and work with Hazziez, a Kansas City firefighter, reserve Jackson County deputy and member of the U.S. Naval Reserve.

As Hazziez walked toward the front of the plane, he saw a man pacing and holding his head in his hands. The man appeared to be in an “altered mental state” and clearly appeared agitated.

“He was trying to get to the door of the plane,” Hazziez recalled recently. “I grabbed ahold of him and tried to calm him down.”

But the man only became more combative and knocked Hazziez into the cockpit door.

Using his law enforcement training, Hazziez put the man in a neck restraint and took him to the floor. The man continued kicking and trying to reach the door with his feet. Another passenger grabbed the man’s legs.

Together they held him for about 15 or 20 minutes until the plane, which had taken off in Atlanta, made an emergency landing in Memphis and authorities came on board to deal with the man. Later, Hazziez learned the man had been suffering from an adverse reaction to a vaccine.

“I’m glad it was a medical situation and not a criminal incident,” Hazziez said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

When the flight resumed, Hazziez was showered with thanks from his fellow passengers and received a standing ovation before leaving the plane after that Nov. 30 flight.

Although Hazziez’s religious faith didn’t matter to those grateful passengers, it has become an important aspect of his story.

He is a Muslim.

And like others of his faith, he is sensitive to the negative perceptions and prejudices of some in the post-Sept. 11 world. But he says what he did that day was in keeping with the teachings of Islam.

“We are supposed to help those in need and protect and help those who can’t help themselves,” he said.

The Midland Islamic Council issued a statement praising Hazziez for enhancing the image of American Muslims and helping to “affirm the many valuable and useful contributions they make to our nation.”

The accolades have continued, including a resolution from the Kansas City Council and Mayor Sly James honoring Hazziez for his “heroic actions.”

Hazziez said he has been humbled by the attention and praise.

“I have a hard time calling myself a hero,” he said. “I just reacted to the situation.”

Aasim Baheyadeen, who has known Hazziez for 35 years, smiled when he heard what he had done.

“Yeah, that sounded like him,” Baheyadeen said. “He’s a person who is held in great esteem.”

Kansas City Fire Chief Smokey Dyer, too, said he was not surprised.

A 10-year department veteran, Hazziez is a hazardous-materials specialist trained to handle some of the most dangerous and technically challenging incidents. It is the kind of job that requires quick thinking and keeping a level head, Dyer said.

“He is an outstanding firefighter,” Dyer said. “It was very characteristic of the performance we see on a weekly and monthly basis.”

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp described Hazziez as a good deputy and a good guy.

“He stepped up to the plate and took control of the situation,” Sharp said.

A spokesman for AirTran Airways said Hazziez’s actions were much appreciated.

“His background unquestionably translated into resolving the situation safely,” said spokesman Brad Hawkins.

Of course, no one is more proud of Hazziez than members of his family.

“We have joked for years calling Jabir ‘Mr. Safety,’ ” said his youngest sister, Rabiyyah Hazziez. “I suppose now he needs a new name: Captain America.”

Offers of Aid Pour in After Fire at Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2011 by loonwatch
Fire Tears Down MosqueFire Tears Down Mosque

When bigotry leads to the eventual outcome of violence, the response of the community is important. In this case the community has stepped up to the plate and offered to right a wrong by offering aid to a mosque that was burned down in Kansas.

This is the type of story that doesn’t get much coverage, and it is similar to Muslims rebuilding Churches that have been burnt down in Egypt but that is something the Islamophobes won’t ever tell you.

Offers of aid pour in after fire at mosque

When the Rev. Jackie Carter learned of the fire that heavily damaged a mosque in west Wichita early Monday morning, she knew what she needed to do.

“They are welcome to use the worship space at our building,” said Carter, pastor of First Metropolitan Community Church at 156 S. Kansas. “We believe it’s important for everyone to have sacred space, and now they don’t.”

It’s just one of numerous offers of assistance for the mosque and those who pray there, said Hussam Madi, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita.

The society posted a letter of appreciation on its website today.

“On behalf of the Islamic Society of Wichita, we would like to thank the Wichita community for the outpouring of support we continue to receive in response to the fire at the Westside Islamic Center,” Jenaya McHenry, office manager for the Islamic Society of Wichita, stated in the letter.

“We have received numerous phone calls and e-mails from individuals and churches offering kind words, support, services and space to aid the Muslim community in Wichita. We are truly grateful to be part of such a giving community and for each and every person who has reached out to us.”

The cause of the fire at the mosque at 3406 W. Taft, southeast of Maple and West streets, remains under investigation.

“There are plans to rebuild,” Madi said. “It’s going to require some fundraisers.”

Preliminary cost estimates are in the $120,000 range, he said.

People wishing to send financial donations for the mosque can send them to the Islamic Society of Wichita, 6655 E. 34th St. North, 67226.

“We deeply appreciate the help and the offers from other peoples of faith in our city,” Madi said.

“That makes us feel that we are a part of this community, which we work hard to be a part of.”

Read more: http://www.kansas.com/2011/11/02/2087434/offers-of-aid-pour-in-after-fire.html#ixzz1ckj8RFAV