Archive for Mapping Sharia Project

Spencer’s Radicalized Mosque Claim Gets Debunked

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by loonwatch
Reza Aslan debunks Robert Spencer’s claim

Robert Spencer is still trying to peddle the myth that 80% of American mosques are radicalized. In a heated post on JihadWatch on March 19, Spencer said the following in reply to Reza Aslan’s claim that all of the studies Spencer cited to support the claim that 80% of American mosques are radicalized have been debunked:

In any case, Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani’s 1998 study was not based on his personal opinion, as Aslan claims. Kabbani actually visited 114 mosques in this country before giving testimony before a State Department Open Forum in January 1999 that 80% of American mosques taught the “extremist ideology.” Has Reza Aslan investigated 114 mosques in the U.S.? Then there was the Center for Religious Freedom’s 2005 study, and the Mapping Sharia Project’s 2008 study. Each independently showed that upwards of 80% of mosques in America were preaching hatred of Jews and Christians and the necessity ultimately to impose Islamic rule.

Let’s break this down one by one. Kabbani said in 1999 that extremists “took over more than 80% of the mosques that have been established in the US.” How did he come up with this number? He didn’t say in his testimony. After the testimony Kabbani began to feel heat from many who were curious as to how he arrived at this “figure” and that is when he finally decided to offer up some “evidence” for his claim.

An under-fire Kabbani explained in 1999 exactly what he meant when he told the State Department that 80 percent of American mosques had been taken over by extremists. His point, he said, was that a “few extremists” were taking over leadership posts,despite a “majority of moderate Muslims,” thus “influencing 80 percent of the mosques.”

Today, he sticks even closer to his guns and adds embellishing data: Kabbani visited 114 mosques in the United States. “Ninety of them were mostly exposed, and I say exposed, to extreme or radical ideology,” he said.

Kabbani bases his exposure conclusion on speeches, board members and materials published. One telltale sign of an extremist mosque, said Kabbani, was an unhealthy focus on the Palestinian struggle.

Alright – let’s be real here. This is not a “study” as Spencer claims. It’s an insult to actual studies out there to call what Kabbani did a “study,” it doesn’t even reach the basic standard of research, documentation or analysis. He conducted a subjective investigation of American mosques, plain and simple. Mosques he went to and where he found or heard things he didn’t agree with were labeled “extremist.” Just because there was a “focus on the Palestinian struggle” at a mosque doesn’t mean it’s “extremist.” What type of absurd methodology is that? It’s remarkable that Spencer would try to pass this off as a “study.” I know, it’s hard to prove that Muslims in America are bloodthirsty jihadists, but even Spencer should be ashamed of himself for trying to pass off Kabbani’s flawed investigation as a “study” to bolster his claim that 80% of mosques are run by extremists.

The next study that Spencer claims proves that 80% of American mosques are radicalized is from theCenter for Religious Freedom. What is the methodology and scope of this study?

In undertaking this study, we did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.  In order to document Saudi influence, the material for this report was gathered from a selection of more than a dozen mosques and Islamic centers in American cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington, and New York. In most cases, these sources are the most prominent and well-established mosques in their areas. They have libraries and publication racks for mosque-goers. Some have full-or part-time schools and, as the 9/11 Commission Report observed, such “Saudi-funded Wahhabi schools are often the only Islamic schools.”

From their own words, the Center for Religious Freedom says that it “did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.” The study itself was designed “to document Saudi influence.” They went to fifteen mosques to complete this “study.” Fifteen mosques! According to the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, there are at least 1,600 mosques and Islamic centers in the United States. This, too, is not much of a study.

Further eroding Spencer’s point, this study does not even claim that 80% or even a high percentage of American mosques are radicalized in any way. Let me repeat that – the study makes NO claim that 80% or some other percent of American mosques are radicalized. It simply does not say what Spencer claims it says. Spencer is making it up. He is lying. But LoonWatchers shouldn’t be surprised by that.

Spencer’s deception and lack of intellectual integrity in this instance is blatant, he not only cites the Center’s “study” as proof of the 80%-percent-of-mosques-are-extremists-conspiracy-theory, but he also fails to mention that the only semblance of what he claims in the study is a regurgitation of Kabbani’s (false and discredited) assertion,

Sheikh Kabbani, perhaps the U.S.’s leading moderate Muslim leader, says that a substantial percentage of American mosques have Wahhabi-funded Imams

Isn’t this interesting? What sort of credible “study” perfunctorily sites the non-evidentiary based assertions of a lone individual without questioning his methodology? The language in the above sentence is also cause for alarm, anytime a claim such as “the U.S.’s leading moderate Muslim leader” is made we should view it not only with caution but skepticism. This sort of heavily biased and subjective language is employed now by Right-Wingers and Republicans to describe “Zuhdi Jasser” the Islamophobes favorite Muslim.

Spencer’s last piece of evidence to back up his bogus claim comes from the Mapping Sharia Project led by the loony racist anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi, David Gaubatz and conspiracy theoristFrank Gaffney. The only thing I could find on this “study” was a Jihad Watch link reporting the findings of the Mapping Sharia Project. The Jihad Watch article reports that “An undercover survey of more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools in America has exposed widespread radicalism, including the alarming finding that 3 in 4 Islamic centers are hotbeds of anti-Western extremism…”

Spencer relying on “undercover survey’s” by radical Islamophobes with pseudo-racist beliefs? Just par for the course.

Firstly, there is no web page allowing us access to examine the methodology employed by this study. When I went to the link to the Mapping Sharia Project, I was taken to the web site for David Yerushalmi’s organization, SANE (Society for American National Existence). To gain access, I had to become a member. I did not want to join this loony web site’s membership list, as I am spammed enough as it is. So Spencer’s third study does not even exist, at least out in the public. Even the link he places for the Mapping Sharia Project just takes you to another JihadWatch web page reporting the findings of the study. Guess we’ll just have to take Yerushalmi, Gaubatz, Gaffney and Spencer’s word for it that 80%… err, three out of four American mosques are radicalized.

Actually, we won’t. Spencer tried his best it seems to pass off these “studies” as evidence to support Rep. Peter King’s claim that 80% of American mosques are radicalized. None of these “studies” does that.

Kabbani’s “study” is based simply on his own opinions of the mosques and their leadership, not any objective metric gauging radicalism. If he did not agree with the viewpoints of the mosque, then he deemed them radical. That’s not a study. Spencer, someone who went to graduate school, should know better than that.

The Center for Religious Freedom study says itself that it “did not attempt a general survey of American mosques.” So how does Spencer cite this study as evidence that 80% of American mosques are radicalized? Because he’s not interested in the truth – he just needs something to cite to so he can bamboozle those who won’t actually check his sources. Sorry, Robert, but we did. And this so-called “study” does not even say what you claim it does.

The final piece of evidence Spencer clings to is the Mapping Sharia Project’s “study,” which apparently does not exist in the public domain. But considering its authors – David Yerushalmi, David Gaubatz and Frank Gaffney – I would venture to say that this “study” will not only not be very academic but thoroughly bigoted and prejudiced. Just consider some of the proposals Yerushalmi and his friends at (in)SANE have come up with:

WHEREAS Islam requires all Muslims to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic with a political system based upon Shari’a.

Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People.

HEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT: It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shari’a.

The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation.

If these “studies” and individuals are the evidence that Spencer claims back up the myth that 80% of American mosques are radicalized, then Spencer has no evidence. For a great source on the history of this myth, see Media Matters’ Zombie Lie: Right Still Clinging To Decade-Old Fabrication About Radicalized Mosques.

Tawfik Hamid: The Shemp of the Three Stooges

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by loonwatch
Tawfik Hamid

Tawfik Hamid

In one of our earliest features we wrote about the Three Stooges of Islamophobia: Walid Shoebat, Zachariah Anani and Kamal Saleem who represent Larry, Curly, and Mo, but in the same way as there is Shemp, there is also Tawfik Hamid.

Tawfik Hamid, like his counterparts, describes himself as an “ex-terrorist” but as we will come to see his claims are as vacuous and silly as the other three.  The difference between the other three and Tawfik Hamid is that the other three claim to be converts to Evangelical Christianity while Hamid vacillates between claiming to be not only a Muslim and an Islamic Reformer but also a follower of Judaism and Christianity and in other instances a non religious person.

In 2007, Hamid served as a keynote speaker for the neo-Conservative  Intelligence Summit and now sits on their advisory board. Amongst the other speakers at the summit, such as Steven Emerson, Joe Kaufman, Nonie Darwish and Walid Phares, there was David Gaubatz, a white supremacist, who led the now defunct Mapping Sharia project (under the tutelage of Society of Americans for National Existence or SANE) which stated that Black people are predisposed to violence,

Is there something unique about the Black American…that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own? Do we see patterns of Black culture that arise out of Africa and the wanton murder of blacks by blacks there? Why have the colonized blacks of the African continent, after having acquired their freedom and independence, so willingly slaughtered their own and live in despicable disease and squalor despite a land of enormous riches while Indians of the Indian sub-continent have successfully moved from British rule to democracy and relative civility even in a country that still maintains social inequalities as a fact of their culture?

Gaubatz, in 2007, was a leading member of SANE which declared on its now password protected site that, “adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US.” It wants the government to ban adherence to Islam and put Muslims under surveillance as stated in its rules, “It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.”

If this sounds unbelievably deranged, that’s because it is. We don’t make these facts up. Why would any sane, normal Muslim let alone Muslim reformer as Tawfik proclaims himself to be — speak at a hostile summit in which one of the participants wants to ban him from practicing his faith and make it a punishable offense? One answer is that Tawfik isn’t a Muslim and in fact hates Islam and Muslims which would also mean he is a charlatan. The other answer, which is related to the first, is that this is just part of the strange and twisted world that is produced when those chasing the Islamophobic cash cow converge together and let their strange and contradictory pathologies manifest like an insane asylum having a picnic (apologies to insane asylum’s).

Hamid says that he is a former member of the terrorist organization GI (Gamaa’ Islamiyya) and was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahri, the number two man in Al-Qaeda. A claim that is not corroborated by any independent sources or governmental law agency. Again the million dollar question is, If this guy is a former terrorist then why aren’t the CIA and FBI all over this guy, watching his movements and interrogating him? Wouldn’t it be a point of interest for our government that someone who was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahari, the number two of Al-Qaeda, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is roaming around the country giving speeches? Either Tawfik is lying or our government has missed a big one.

On his new website, Tawfik identifies himself as “a Muslim by faith…Christian by the Spirit…a Jew by heart…and above all I am a human being.” This is a sharp departure from his previous statements in which he stated, “I am a Muslim by birth, a Christian by spirit, a Jew by heart, and above all I am a human being.” Someone must have told Tawfik that it might help his claim to be a “Muslim reformer” if he actually claims Islam as his “faith” instead of just something he was “born” into.

Richard Silverstein, who runs Tikun Olam, did a piece on Hamid after getting an email from Walid Shoebat’s list-serve that Tawfik Hamid would be speaking at Georgetown University. In it he devastatingly highlights the contradictions as well as obvious hate that Tawfik Hamid has for Islam and Muslims.

In Richard’s piece we also see a description of Tawfik on Shoebat’s website that is not there anymore. Notice the similarities between the biographies of Tawfik and Walid,

Here’s what Shoebat’s website tells you about Hamid:

Born in Egypt to a secular Muslim family. At the age of 16 young Hamid started to search for answers to the universal questions about creation and life’s meaning.

Later on, Tawfik started to read the bible as an attempt to criticise it in the ongoing religious debates between Muslims and Christians, but ended up studying the Bible with increased vigour and genuine interest.

If you compare that last paragraph to Shoebat’s own biography at the same site you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy:

Walid studied the Tanach (Jewish Bible) in a challenge to convert his wife to Islam. Six months later, after intense study, Walid realized that everything he had been taught about Jews was a lie. Convinced he was on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy.

It seems that these two “ex-terrorists” weren’t creative enough to come up with differing stories and instead didn’t think anyone would see the similarities in their testimonials. As Richard wrote, “you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy.”

Tawfik Hamid at the time of Richard’s article was charging $13, 500 for “speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism that prevails in the world today.”

Yet it seems that Tawfik like his Christian Zionist counterparts doesn’t stop at speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism but instead also speaks out against mainstream Muslims. For instance on the Orla Barry Radio Show he stated that,

There are different degrees of evil [within Islam]. Jemaah Islamiya represents the active evil or active terrorists let us call them who are ready to commit violent acts and all such atrocities. But the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.

According to Tawfik the majority of Muslims are what he terms passive terrorists. This reveals a great contempt for Muslims who he views as nothing more than terrorists in one form or another. For him most Muslims are not law abiding individuals and even if they don’t commit violence or preach it then secretly they are still terrorists. This trope that is used by Islamophobes pretty much assumes Muslims are all guilty before proven innocent and that they are inherently violent.

Tawfik’s bumbling and inconsistent story in which at times he is a Muslim reformer, at other times a Muslim only by birth, then a Christian and a Jew or his declarations that most of his coreligionists are passive terrorists, his sharing the stage with white supremacists and well known Islamophobes and becoming a member of their advisory council is hard to follow let alone comprehend. It is contradictory and as we see quite lucrative — he fits in perfectly as Shemp to the Larry, Curly and Mo of Islamophobia.