Archive for Kuwait

Tariq Al-Suwaidan: “Freedom Comes Before Sharia’”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Tariq_Suwaidan

Muslim scholar Tariq Suwaidan

I am unfamiliar with this scholar’s prominence but he seems to have some impact considering this was reported in AlArabiyya. What he said seems pretty uncontroversial, it is similar to what many other Muslims have said and is a point that Suwaidan himself made “three years ago.”

Suwaidan also said that, “If Islamists start to become tyrants in the countries that were hit by the Arab Spring, we will revolt against them just like we did against their predecessors.”

Islamophobes will likely say this is “taqiyaa” or that this man is not following Islam as he should because you know they are the experts on Islamic doctrine:

Prominent Kuwaiti Muslim scholar says ‘freedom comes before Shariah’

(Al’Arabiyya English)

A prominent Kuwaiti scholar and popular TV talk show host reiterated his belief that freedom must come before Sharia.

Tariq al-Suwaidan, who is head of the Kuwait-based Al-Risala TV station, and has his own TV program, was speaking at the al-Nahdha conference for a graduates association in Kuwait on Saturday when he said “If Islamists start to become tyrants in the countries that were hit by the Arab Spring, we will revolt against them just like we did against their predecessors.”

“Freedom is a holy right and is one of the principles in Islam … Freedom is to do and say what a person wishes but in a polite manner and without hurting others.”

Suwaidan who was later defensive over his remarks, took to his Twitter page and wrote: “I gave the same lecture three years ago, and [my views] do not represent the views the graduates association or the al-Nahdha Conference, but are my beliefs.”

The scholar, who said that it was liberals who eradicated slavery in Islam and not the Islamists, added, “a human being is free in his movements and where he wants to belong, and convictions are what move people, and not force…”

Suwaidan has spoken before on freedom coming before Sharia on his TV program three years ago and was reiterating his belief.

He also questioned how Muslims shun Christian missionaries in their countries while Christians allow Muslims to propagate Islam on their lands.

He also expressed his disdain on not allowing churches to be built in some Muslim countries.

(Written by Dina al-Shibeeb)

*I’d also like to point out that we are not familiar with Suwaidan’s views, and as one commenter has pointed out he has said, “In 2006 he demanded that the European Union, as well as the rest of the world, enact “a law that forbids the insult to religious figures and religious sacred opinions.” A stance which Loonwatch certainly does not agree or support.

THE 99 Superheroes Vs. The Loons

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon Sites, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

THE 99 is an animated series featuring superheroes inspired by Islamic culture and society. The series was scheduled to launch in the US last week on the The Hub children’s television network, but producers have since announced the broadcast will be postponed indefinitely. Vicious anti-Muslim bigots everywhere are gleeful, boasting that their small but boisterous outcry may have prompted the delay.

The New York Post published a scathing article by outrage peddler Andrea Peyser criticizing the series and calling on anti-Muslim bigots to protest loudly so they can “cancel THE 99 before it starts.”  Peyser says the series will indoctrinate impressionable young children with Sharia-compliant Muslim superheroes “masquerading as the good guys.”

For Peyser the Hateful, Muslims are always super villains, so characters who represent the 99 virtues of God in the Qur’an will naturally use their powers to wage the ultimate jihad. She conjures up fearsome images of Jabbar the Powerful dishing out a mean stoning, and Darr the Afflicter venting his rage on hapless dhimmis.

The looniest blogger ever, Pamela Geller, told CNN that THE 99 is unacceptable because Islam must be portrayed as misogynistic, violent, and oppressive to non-Muslims, and that there must be an emphasis placed on Islam’s bloody, violent history.  She said anything else is just “dawah proselytizing.”

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, the Kuwaiti-born, U.S.-educated psychologist who created THE 99, said he never expected to face his fiercest opposition to the series in the US, a country that prides itself on diversity and tolerance.  The whole point of  THE 99 was to bridge the gap between Islam and the West by promoting universal values and encouraging tolerance, cooperation, and mutual understanding. Al-Mutawa said  he wants to provide positive role models to all children:

“I told the writers of the animation that only when Jewish kids think that THE 99 characters are Jewish, and Christian kids think they’re Christian, and Muslim kids think they are Muslim, and Hindu kids think they’re Hindu, that I will consider my vision as having been fully executed.”

Geller is not appeased, and continues to describe the series as an onslaught of cultural jihad aimed at radicalizing American children. She says the true superheroes are “counter-jihadists” like  Ibn WarraqNonie Darwish, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, all of whom are in fact rabid anti-Muslim loons. She has also launched a crude online parody called THE 19, which features Spencerman and Gellerwoman as superheroes presumably fighting Muslim evildoers.

Last month, Geller and her fellow hate mongers must have been thrilled with the release of a comic series that suits their agenda perfectly.   Frank Miller is a legend in the comic world for writing and drawing  film noir-style comic book stories, including Batman:  The  Dark Night Returns.  Influential in Hollywood, he directed the film version of The Spirit  and co-directed  Sin City.  Miller also produced  the 2006 American fantasy action film 300, which some critics described as psychological warfare against Iran.

Miller released a post-9/11 propaganda comic series to correspond with the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City, and said he hoped it would ”really piss people off.”  He was braced for a fatwa and seemed to look forward to a backlash that never came.  Despite the underwhelming response from Muslims, Wired Magazine said:

“Holy Terror is a screed against Islam, completely uninterested in any nuance or empathy.”  Miller has produced, “one of the  most appalling, offensive and vindictive comics of all time. “

Outrage over the 9/11 attacks inspired Miller’s dark comic series steeped in insatiable rage and vengeance, but the same events also inspired Al-Mutawa, who said he wanted to take Islam back from the extremists who had hijacked it.  He conceived of the idea for his series during a London cab ride with his sister in 2003.

Al-Mutawa envisioned THE 99 as a world-class comic book on a par with American classics, so he assembled a team of veteran writers and artists with experience creating comic icons like Spider-man, Power Rangers, and X-Men. In 2006, he launched his new series to audiences in the Middle East.

THE 99 quickly became the most popular comic book in the region, selling over a million copies per year, and prompting Forbes Magazine to declare the series as one of the 20 trends sweeping the globe. An English language version launched in the US in 2007 without opposition.  Industry giant DC Comics gave the series  a promotional boost in 2010 by producing a six-part limited edition crossover that paired THE 99 with classic American superheroes including Batman, Superman, and the Justice League of America.

In 2009, Al-Mutawa decided to turn his successful comic book into an animated series.  His company, Teshkeel Media Group, partnered with a Dutch company to co-produce and distribute the new series.  The cartoon version of  THE 99 has also been a smashing success, and it is expected to reach viewers in over 50 countries by the end of next year.

THE 99 was initially banned in Saudi Arabia when critics expressed concern that Al-Mutawa was violating Islamic Law with characters that personified God. Al-Mutawa eventually won approval for the series after he convinced religious authorities that the characters are not manifestations of God, but merely extol the 99 virtues mentioned in the Qur’an.

Saudi Arabia has since signed on for merchandise deals and even plans to build its own Disney-style theme park based on the series.  The 99 Village opened in 2009 in Kuwait, and several more theme parks are planned throughout the region.  Today no Arab country bans THE 99, which is also broadcast in a growing number of Muslim countries outside the Arab world, including Turkey and Indonesia.

Not everyone is happy about the widespread acceptance THE 99 has received in the Muslim world.  Phyllis Chesler, another rabid anti-Muslim bigot and friend of Pamela Geller, has criticized Muslims for what she describes as “disturbing double standards.”  She says they are turning a blind eye to Al-Mutawa while he creates 99 images of  God, but they terrorize Westerners with fatwas and violence for lesser offenses.

Chesler is apparently a fan of far right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, and she is outraged that the Moooslims want to stop him from “telling the truth about Islam.” Wilders is infamous for spreading vicious lies against Islam and Muslims, and he is still vigorously exercising his right to free speech.

She said Muslims (apparently all of them) have also terrorized American cartoonist Molly Norris for her Everybody Draw Muhammad Day hate fest, and Dutch cartoonist Kurt Westergaard for his infamous drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb-studded turban.

It is difficult to see the connection between these provocative events and the introduction of THE 99, but Chesler seems to think they should all inspire a backlash of equal proportions if the Muslims are to apply consistent standards. This is tortured logic, but in any case, shouldn’t it be a good thing that THE 99 didn’t cause a violent backlash?

Chesler and her loony friends certainly didn’t write any articles praising Muslims for their subdued reaction to Frank Miller’s provocative, hateful comic series.  For them, Muslims always deserve only criticism, no matter what they do.

Batina the HiddenBatina the Hidden

Chesler also expressed concern over what sinister “Muslim values” the series might foist on non-Muslim children.  She asks, “Will children learn about democracy, modernity, tolerance, Enlightenment, women’s and gay rights from these ‘Islamic’ figures?”

Spider-man doesn’t typically lecture children on democracy, modernity, and Enlightenment.  Those seem like heavy topics for a cartoon series written for children.

As for gay rights, how many gay and lesbian characters can you name from the Justice League or any other mainstream comic series?  If Chesler is really an advocate for gay rights, she needs to expand her focus to the entire industry.

THE 99 does promote gender equality, which Al-Mutawa has elaborated on during numerous interviews.   Islamphobes like Chesler and Geller will simply not let facts stand in the way of their propaganda efforts, and continue to spread the lie that the female characters in the series are oppressed and forced to wear Islamic clothing.

On her website Atlas Shrugs, Geller quotes herself  telling CNN:

“Because [THE 99] is mainstreaming the institutionalized oppression of women under Sharia, as exemplified by the burqa-wearing superhero. One would think that the male superheroes would have superpowers strong enough to be able to control themselves without the women having to don cloth coffins.”

Batina the Hidden seems to be the loons’ favorite obsession.  The character is from Yemen, and her clothing accurately reflects what some women wear in that country. Al-Mutawa said the burqa is not Islamic, but it is a cultural tradition that is important to some people, adding:

“I believe that forcing someone to wear the burqa is despicable. But I believe that if somebody wants to choose to do it, that’s their right…And so, out of respect for people who choose to wear the burka, I have one character out of 99—one percent—that wears a burqa. “

Although nearly every one of their articles tries to generate hysteria about Batina, the Hidden, Islamophobes have yet to explain how merely seeing a cartoon character wearing a burqa will traumatize American children. Marvel already has two characters who are Muslim women. The character Dust is from Afghanistan, and she wears a black ensemble that covers her from head-to-toe, showing only her eyes.

Dust has been around since 2002, though it seems few of our hyper-vigilant hate bloggers have detected her “stealth jihad.” Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Aonso said,

“I don’t view a Muslim superhero as avant garde. Muslims comprise 23 percent of the world’s population, and we like our comics to reflect the world and its diversity.”

Despite all the controversy, Dr. Al-Mutawa remains optimistic.  He has faced many hurdles in the last eight years, and his frustrations have been chronicled in the PBS documentary Wham! Bam! Islam!  ”One way or the other,” he says, “‘The 99′ will get on air in the U.S.”

Lawyer: FBI Illegally Interrogating Gulet Mohamed

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by loonwatch

No counsel even if you ask for one. Is this what it has come to and wasn’t this supposed end with the demise of the Bush era?

Lawyer: FBI Illegally Interrogating Gulet Mohamed

(Mother Jones)

FBI agents are taking advantage of an American teenager’s detention in Kuwait to illegally harass and interrogate him without counsel, the teen’s lawyer said Wednesday. Gulet Mohamed, a Somali-born American Muslim, says he was tortured and interrogated after he was detained by Kuwaiti security officials last month. He claims that Kuwaiti interrogators asked him questions about his travels, his past, and his family that he and his lawyer believe were fed to the Kuwaitis by US officials. Kuwait now reportedly wants Mohamed deported, but he’s been added to the no-fly list. Meanwhile, FBI interrogators are continuing to interrogate him in detention and ignoring his requests to have an attorney present, his lawyer, Gadeir Abbas, says.

FBI agents’ most recent visit to Mohamed began around 10:00 a.m Kuwaiti time Wednesday, Abbas told Mother Jones. Agents, he said, questioned Mohamed for several hours, and Mohamed’s uncle (who lives in Kuwait) and brother (who traveled there after Mohamed was detained) were present for part of the time. Mohamed repeatedly told the agents that he did not want to answer questions about his travels to Somalia and Yemen without his lawyer present, according to Abbas. (Mohamed, his family, and his lawyer say the teen was visiting family and learning about the heritage of his father, whom he never knew.)

Cathy Wright, an FBI spokeswoman, said she “cannot at this point verify that a meeting took place today or an interview took place today.”

Mohamed has made similar requests for counsel during previous FBI visits, Abbas said. US law and constitutional precedent generally require that interrogations cease once a suspect asks for his lawyer. The FBI has countered that under Kuwaiti law Mohamed doesn’t have the right to counsel while being interrogated, according to Abbas. That seems to be an agency line: after I called the bureau for comment on Abbas’ allegations, Wright urged me to ask the Kuwaitis about Mohamed’s right to counsel. After I noted that US law is generally understood to restrain FBI agents (even in foreign countries) from interrogating an American after he has asked for a lawyer, Wright acknowledged that the FBI is “subject to the rules of the FBI and the rules of the [Department of Justice] for criminal prosecution,” but added that the agency didn’t “want to be perceived as commenting on [Kuwaiti] rules or laws.”

At one point during Wednesday’s interrogation, Abbas said, the FBI agents performing the interrogation stood up and started shouting and physically crowding Mohamed. They also reached for his pockets—a move that Mohamed’s brother and uncle believe was an attempt to confiscate the cell phone Mohamed has been using to communicate with the press and his lawyer. At that point, Abbas says, “a Kuwaiti official came into the room and directed the FBI agents to sit down and calm down and told them not to treat Gulet like that.”

“In the absurd world that is represented in this case, Gulet’s torturers are intervening to protect Gulet from his own government,” Abbas said. “Not only is the FBI’s behavior grossly immoral and insensitive to the plight that Gulet Mohamed has endured and is currently facing, but the FBI’s opportunistic actions to leverage Gulet’s dire situation to pepper him with senseless questioning is illegal.”

[UPDATE: Late Wednesday, Abbas sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder outlining his allegations and asking Holder to launch “an immediate investigation into the conduct of the FBI agents involved.” More on that here.]

Mohamed, his lawyer said, is a victim of “proxy detention,” where the US government asks a friendly foreign country to do the dirty work of harshly interrogating an American citizen it suspects of terrorism. Last Friday, in the wake of stories about Mohamed in theNew York Times, the Washington Post, and other major news outlets, the Obama administration finally commented on the story, via a State Department spokesman who denied that Mohamed had been detained “at the behest of the United States government” and promised that the teenager was being offered consular services.

Almost a week later, Mohamed remains in detention. He’s still on a no-fly list, and the White House won’t return calls asking for comment about his situation. It’s possible that the US government believes Mohamed is a terrorist. He recently traveled to Somalia and Yemen, two countries known for harboring Islamic extremists. The questions he says he was asked by Kuwaiti and FBI interrogators suggest that he may have been under surveillance while he was in the US. But being able to return to the United States and facing charges (if there are any) with the assistance of a lawyer are fundamental constitutional rights—rights that Mohamed is currently being denied. So what’s the reason the US claims it can’t help him? They’re desperate to protect his privacy, according to the State Department.

Agency public affairs officers have said that they cannot release information about Mohamed or reveal any suspicions the government might have about him because he has not signed a Privacy Act waiver. According to Abbas, Mohamed only recalls signing a document offered to him by US officials in late December, shortly before his family and Abbas became aware that Mohamed was being detained. The document was presented as a contact form, Abbas said. “They said you’re going to be leaving in 72 hours and we want to know who to contact, so Gulet listed his mother, his brother, and his sister,” and signed the form, not realizing that it would prevent the government from providing information about him to anyone else. Mohamed didn’t recall checking any of the yes/no boxes on a second page of the form (PDF), according to Abbas. On a privacy act waiver, those boxes determine whether or not it’s okay to contact the media, Congress, someone’s employer, and so on.

Mohamed is not the first American to be subjected to “proxy detention.” Last July, 26-year-old Yahya Wehelie, another American of Somali descent who traveled to Yemen, was finally allowed to return to the US after two months stranded abroad. He only received a no-fly list waiver to return after he had “spoken with the FBI 10 times and submitted to a polygraph test,” according to the Washington Post. Like Mohamed, Wehelie says he was visiting Yemen to learn Arabic (he was also hoping to find a bride, according to the Post). Like Mohamed, Wehelie says he was beaten while in the custody of a foreign government (Egypt, in his case) and asked questions that closely mirrored those later asked by the FBI. And like Mohamed, Wehelie has not been charged with a crime.

Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar has a good rundown of other people who have been subjected to “proxy detention,” which she calls “the Obama administration’s extraordinary rendition-lite.”

Nick Baumann covers national politics and civil liberties issues for Mother Jones’ DC Bureau. For more of his stories, click here. You can also follow him on twitter. Email tips and insights to nbaumann [at] motherjones [dot] com. Get Nick Baumann’s RSS feed.

 

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by loonwatch

A Somali-born US citizen was tortured in Kuwait. Glenn Greenwald interviewed him through telephone, what he found out was quite disturbing. You can hear the whole interview by clicking on this link.

U.S. teenager tortured in Kuwait and barred re-entry into the U.S.

(Salon.com)

(updated below)

Gulet Mohamed is an 18-year-old American citizen whose family is Somalian.  His parents moved with him to the U.S. when he was 2 or 3 years old, and he has lived in the U.S. ever since.  In March, 2009, he went to study Arabic and Islam in Yemen (in Sana’a, the nation’s capital), and, after several weeks, left (at his mother’s urging) and went to visit his mother’s family in Somalia, staying with his uncle there for several months.  Roughly one year ago, he left Somalia and traveled to Kuwait to stay with other family members who live there.  Like many teenagers who reach early adulthood, he was motivated in his travels by a desire to see the world, to study, and to get to know his family’s ancestral homeland and his faraway relatives.

At all times, Mohamed traveled on an American passport and had valid visas for all the countries he visited.  He has never been arrested nor — until two weeks ago — was he ever involved with law enforcement in any way, including the entire time he lived in the U.S.

Approximately two weeks ago (on December 20), Mohamed went to the airport in Kuwait to have his visa renewed, as he had done every three months without incident for the last year.  This time, however, he was told by the visa officer that his name had been marked in the computer, and after waiting five hours, he was taken into a room and interrogated by officials who refused to identify themselves.  They then handcuffed and blindfolded him and drove him to some other locale.  That was the start of a two-week-long, still ongoing nightmare during which he was imprisoned for a week in an unknown location by unknown captors, relentlessly interrogated, and severely beaten and threatened with even worse forms of torture.

Mohamed’s story was first reported this morning by Mark Mazzetti in The New York Times, who spoke with Mohamed by telephone, where he is currently being held in a deportation center in Kuwait.  I also spoke with Mohamed this morning, and my 50-minute conversation with him was recorded and can be heard on the recorder below.  Mazzetti did a good job of describing Mohamed’s version of events.  He writes that during his 90-minute conversation, “Mr. Mohamed was agitated as he recounted his captivity, tripping over his words and breaking into tears.”

That was very much my experience as well.  It may be difficult at times to understand all of what Mohamed recounts because he is emotionally distraught in the extreme, but it’s nonetheless very worth listening to what he has to say, at the very least to portions of it.  Mohamed says he was repeatedly beaten with a stick on the bottom of his feet and his palms, hit in the face, and hung from the ceiling.  He also says his captors threatened him with both the arrest of his mother and electric shock, and told him that he should forget his family.

He still does not know why he was detained and beaten, nor does he know what is happening to him now.  Indeed, although Mazzetti writes that he was detained and beaten by Kuwait captors, Mohamed actually has no idea who was responsible, and told me that at least some of the people interrogating him spoke English.  He has been told that he will be deported back to the U.S., but is now on a no-fly list and has no idea when he will be released.  American officials told Mazzetti that “Mr. Mohamed is on a no-fly list and, for now at least, cannot return to the United States.”  He’s been charged with no crime and presented with no evidence of any wrongdoing.

This event is significant for multiple reasons, many of them obvious.  The questions Mohamed was repeatedly asked — including two days ago by American embassy officials and FBI agents who visited him in the detention facility — focused on whether he knew Anwar al-Awlaki, the American cleric in Yemen who has become an obsession of the Obama administration, as well as why he went to Yemen and Somalia.  Kuwait is little more than a subservient American protectorate, and the idea that they would do this to an American citizen without the American government’s knowledge, if not its assent and participation, is implausible in the extreme.  That much of the information they sought from Mohamed is of particular interest to the U.S. Government only bolsters that likelihood.

Independent of all that, the U.S. Government has an obligation to protect its own citizens.  Mohamed described to me how both embassy officials and the FBI expressed zero interest in the torture to which he had been subjected during his detention.  The U.S. Government has said nothing about this matter, and refused to comment about Mohamed’s treatment to The New York Times.

All of this underscores the rapidly expanding powers the U.S. Government and law enforcement agents within the country are seizing without a shred of due process.  For the government to put an American citizen on the no-fly list while he’s traveling outside the U.S. is tantamount to barring him from entering his own country — a draconian punishment, involuntary exile, meted out without any due process.  In June, the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of several citizens and legal residents who — like Gulet Mohammed — have been literally stranded abroad and barred from returning with no hearing, simply by being placed secretly on the no-fly list.  Add to that the growing seizures of the laptops and other electronic equipment of American citizens re-entering the country without any warrants — or even yesterday’s ruling from the California Supreme Court that police officers can search and seize someone’s cell phone without a warrant when arresting them — and (even leaving aside the administration’s ongoing due-process-free prison camps and assassination programs) these are pure police state tactics.

The Bush-era torture scandal was as much about its use of torture-administering allies as it was the torture regime which the U.S. itself created.  In the face of these credible allegations — just listen to this American teenager talk and assess how credible he is — the Obama administration, at the very least, has the obligation to inform the public about whether this is true, what its role was, if any, and what it’s doing to investigate and protest this abuse of its own citizen.

My discussion with Mohamed can be heard by clicking PLAY on the recorder below.  I’m posting it in its entirety without edits, except for the last minute or so where we discussed how we came to speak, information I’m withholding at his request:

http://images.salon.com/flash/audio_player_mp3.swf

UPDATE:  Mohamed’s family has now secured a lawyer for him, Gadeir Abbas of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who has written a letter to the DOJ raising all the right questions and demanding all the right assistance.  Nobody should have to ask the government to provide this form of assistance to an American citizen under these circumstances.