Archive for Michael Bloomberg

New York Muslims Refuse to Attend Mayor Bloomberg’s Breakfast with Bagels

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2011 by loonwatch
The letter said Michael Bloomberg had 'defended the NYPD misconduct'. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters The letter said Michael Bloomberg had ‘defended the NYPD misconduct’. Photograph: Henny Ray Abrams/Reuters

New York Muslims to snub Bloomberg breakfast in surveillance protest

A group of prominent Muslim figures in New York City have said they will boycott an annual meeting on Friday with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to protest against police surveillance of their communities.

Bloomberg is scheduled to hold a multi-faith “Bagels with Bloomberg” breakfast with religious leaders from across the city on Friday morning, but the group has written to the mayor’s office outlining their reasons for refusing to attend.

In particular, the group says it is outraged at details that emerged earlier this year of a concerted effort by the New York police department to monitor activities of Muslims in New York. A series of reports by the Associated Press detailed the activities of a unit within the NYPD, called the Demographics Unit, that monitored daily life in Muslim communities, including eavesdropping in businesses and infiltrating mosques.

“According to the investigation, the police department monitored and collected information on New Yorkers at about 250 mosques, schools, and businesses throughout the city, simply because of their religion and not because they exhibited suspicious behavior,” the letter said.

It added: “Mayor Bloomberg, the extent of these civil rights violations is astonishing, yet instead of calling for accountability and the rule of law, you have thus far defended the NYPD’s misconduct. We, on the other hand, believe that such measures threaten the rights of all Americans, and deepen mistrust between our communities and law enforcement.”

The letter was signed by 15 prominent Muslim New Yorkers, including Khaled Lamada, head of the Muslim American Society, Omar Mohammedi, president of the Association of Muslim American Lawyers, Aisha al-Adawiya, founder of Women in Islam, and Iman Al Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, who president of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York.

Another signatory, Linda Sarsour, the director of the Arab-American Association of New York, told the Guardian that the AP reports had confirmed her worst fears. “This confirmed what we already knew. It gave validity to our concerns that we are being spied upon just because of our religion. That undermines the security of all New Yorkers,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour added that lawsuits against the NYPD were being considered in the wake of the AP investigation, and called for an independent inquiry into the activities of the department when it came to monitoring Muslim communities.

So far, that call has fallen on deaf ears. Senior police figures have denied that they targeted Muslim communities in general, claiming they only followed leads. Bloomberg has also strongly and consistently backed the city’s police department and its tactics.

An investigation by the CIA had looked at its role in helping the NYPD and recently concluded no wrongdoing had taken place.

But Sarsour remained unsatisfied.

“How can someone from the CIA be the one to investigate the CIA? We are asking for an independent investigation,” she said, saying it should be carried out by the Department of Justice or a Congressional committee.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office downplayed the impact of the letter and the boycott, saying that other Muslim leaders were still planning on attending the breakfast gathering. “We have a couple dozen Muslim community leaders who have RSVP-ed that they will be at the breakfast, which is about the same as previous years,” said Stu Loeser.

NYPD officials also weighed into the spat, saying that the AP story had exaggerated its activities. “The NYPD lawfully follows leads in terrorist-related investigations and does not engage in the kind of wholesale spying on communities that was false alleged,” said Paul Browne, an NYPD deputy commissioner.

But the revelations about the Demographics Unit are not the only controversy surrounding NYPD actions around Muslim Americans and terrorism. An NYPD operation last month arrested a suspected “lone wolf” terrorist in the shape of New Yorker Jose Pimentel. NYPD officials hailed the arrest, which occurred after a lengthy undercover operation that saw an NYPD informant supply Pimental with bomb-making equipment, as a major triumph.

However, it later emerged that the FBI had passed on co-operating on the case, because it believed the target was not a viable threat. That has led to accusations that the NYPD “entrapped” Pimental.

Michael Bloomberg Splits with Peter King Over Muslim Hearings

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by loonwatch

Michael Bloomberg who has been a pinnacle of support for religious tolerance has come out against fellow republican, Peter King on the Congressional hearings on American Muslims.

Bloomberg Splits With Peter King Over Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Hearings

By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg distanced himself Monday from a Republican Congressman’s plans to hold hearings on Muslim “radicalization.”

In an op-ed published in Newsday, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is set to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that as part of his duties, he intends to hold hearings on topics including the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.”

“As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization,” he wrote, adding that the hearings are “what democracy is all about.”

Asked about the remarks during a press conference at City Hall urging Congress to pass the 9/11 health bill, Bloomberg told reporters that while he agreed with King on many topics, this time around, “I think we probably part company quite severely.”

“I don’t happen to agree with him that that’s necessary, said Bloomberg, who has been a vocal proponent of religious tolerance in the past, including supporting the right of Park 51 to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero — a plan King has vehemently opposed.

King has been criticized for his views on Islam. He even referenced the litany of criticism he’s received from groups accusing him of religious intolerance in the op-ed, which ran in print sections on Monday.

“This crowd sees me as an anti-Musim bigot,” he said, calling out everyone from the Committee on American Islamic Relations to CNN. King denied the claims in his op-ed and added that he knows the “majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.”

Still, he said, with 15 percent of Muslims in America still thinking that suicide bombing is justified, he said, the alienation between Muslims and non-Muslims remains.

“We need to find the reasons for this alienation.”

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101220/manhattan/bloomberg-splits-with-peter-king-over-muslim-radicalization-hearings#ixzz18lYqh3LS

 

Michael Bloomberg Splits with Peter King Over Muslim Hearings

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by loonwatch

Michael Bloomberg who has been a pinnacle of support for religious tolerance has come out against fellow republican, Peter King on the Congressional hearings on American Muslims.

Bloomberg Splits With Peter King Over Muslim ‘Radicalization’ Hearings

By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producers

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg distanced himself Monday from a Republican Congressman’s plans to hold hearings on Muslim “radicalization.”

In an op-ed published in Newsday, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is set to become chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that as part of his duties, he intends to hold hearings on topics including the “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism.”

“As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I will do all I can to break down the wall of political correctness and drive the public debate on Islamic radicalization,” he wrote, adding that the hearings are “what democracy is all about.”

Asked about the remarks during a press conference at City Hall urging Congress to pass the 9/11 health bill, Bloomberg told reporters that while he agreed with King on many topics, this time around, “I think we probably part company quite severely.”

“I don’t happen to agree with him that that’s necessary, said Bloomberg, who has been a vocal proponent of religious tolerance in the past, including supporting the right of Park 51 to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero — a plan King has vehemently opposed.

King has been criticized for his views on Islam. He even referenced the litany of criticism he’s received from groups accusing him of religious intolerance in the op-ed, which ran in print sections on Monday.

“This crowd sees me as an anti-Musim bigot,” he said, calling out everyone from the Committee on American Islamic Relations to CNN. King denied the claims in his op-ed and added that he knows the “majority of Muslims in our country are hardworking, dedicated Americans.”

Still, he said, with 15 percent of Muslims in America still thinking that suicide bombing is justified, he said, the alienation between Muslims and non-Muslims remains.

“We need to find the reasons for this alienation.”

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101220/manhattan/bloomberg-splits-with-peter-king-over-muslim-radicalization-hearings#ixzz18lYqh3LS

Mayor Bloomberg: Candidate for Anti-Loon of the Year

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by loonwatch

Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg is a candidate for anti-Loon of the year due to his consistent defense of religious liberty and steadfast support of the political hot-potato issue of the Park51 Cultural Center, aka the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

Bloomberg Launches Another Impassioned Defense Of Cordoba House

by Sam Stein

In a rousing address before a predominantly Muslim audience Tuesday night, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed his commitment to the controversial Islamic cultural center near the former site of the World Trade Center.

Bloomberg, who hosted the annual Ramadan Iftar dinner at his official Gracie Mansion residence, did not back away from his position as the most vocal and public defender of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque.” If anything, he couched his defense of the project in even deeper moral and political terms, calling the Cordoba House a telling illustration of intrinsic American principles and a valuable tool in the war on terror.

From Bloomberg’s prepared remarks:

But if we say that a mosque and community center should not be built near the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, we would compromise our commitment to fighting terror with freedom.

We would undercut the values and principles that so many heroes died protecting. We would feed the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims. We would send a signal around the world that Muslim Americans may be equal in the eyes of the law, but separate in the eyes of their countrymen. And we would hand a valuable propaganda tool to terrorist recruiters, who spread the fallacy that America is at war with Islam.
Islam did not attack the World Trade Center — Al-Qaeda did. To implicate all of Islam for the actions of a few who twisted a great religion is unfair and un-American. Today we are not at war with Islam — we are at war with Al-Qaeda and other extremists who hate freedom.[snip]

The members of our military are men and women at arms — battling for hearts and minds. And their greatest weapon in that fight is the strength of our American values, which have always inspired people around the world. But if we do not practice here at home what we preach abroad — if we do not lead by example – we undermine our soldiers. We undermine our foreign policy objectives. And we undermine our national security.

While some of the cultural center’s other early supporters have backed away from their defense of the project, Bloomberg has emerged as perhaps the least fickle of its supporters. And he’s been hailed for that defense — locally, nationally and among the commentariat — even though a majority of the public opposes the Cordoba House’s proposed location.

Addressing those calling for a compromise location for the center, Bloomberg offered the logical rejoinder. “The question will then become, how big should the ‘no-mosque zone’ around the World Trade Center be?” he remarked. “There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it too, be moved?”

However the debate ends, of course, there will be hard feelings. Still, the Mayor ended his remarks with an appeal to the lessons of history.

I know that many in this room are disturbed and dispirited by the debate. But it is worth keeping some perspective on the matter. The first colonial settlers came to these shores seeking religious liberty and the founding fathers wrote a constitution that guaranteed it. They made sure that in this country the government would not be permitted to choose between religions or favor one over another.

Nonetheless, it was not so long ago that Jews and Catholics had to overcome stereotypes and build bridges to those who viewed them with suspicion and less than fully American.

UPDATE: Video of Bloomberg’s speech is below.

 

Anti-Loons of the Year: 2010

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2010 by loonwatch
From Molly Norris, one of the Anti-Loons of the Year

We reviewed the Year in Islamophobia, and it was a crazy year. However, we noted that at the end of the day there was “hope.” There were those willing to stand up, take a stand firmly against hate directed towards Muslims and Islam. Here we recount some of the best anti-loons of 2010. There are many more whom we may have omitted and who deserve equal attention and recognition.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald published countless articles on Salon.com in which he took to task the complicity of the media in regard to Islamophobia, the double standards that exist when Muslims commit crimes as opposed to when non-Muslims do and the stark difference in coverage. He was outspoken on the root causes of terrorism and the willful neglect and negligence of our government and politicians when it comes to honestly discussing the causes of terrorism, namely — occupation. Greenwald’s colleagues Justin Elliot and Alex Pareene also contributed significantly to the discussion and had great coverage of the tidal wave of Islamophobiapalooza.

Jon Stewart

The Daily Show brought us plenty of laughs but also penetrating analysis and insight into the state of affairs in America today. Stewart’s mock news show was hailed for bringing more news to us than mainstream media. He was all over the coverage of the Park51 mosque controversy, and even before then he was seminal in covering and satirizing the rhetoric on Fox News, amongst Tea Partiers, as well hate crimes that were rising all over the country. His seminal “Rally to restore Sanity” which he co-hosted with Stephen Colbert was a watershed moment and though its detractors tried to minimize its importance, it frankly eclipsed Glenn Beck’s ghoulish “Rally to restore Honor.” His show also coined the word of the year, “Islamophboiapalooza.”

Stephen Colbert

The Colbert Report is a show that many are in love with, the host’s over the top adulation of himself combined with the incisive satire and biting sarcasm that no doubt turns Bill O’ Reilly and others in the Right-wing into a heaping pile of anger during the weekdays beamed onto our screens and left a residue of warmth and compassion. Colbert was everywhere, Capitol Hill for hearings on immigration, on the Mall for his “Rally to Restore Sanity and or March to Keep Fear Alive.” His commitment to justice led him to take on the pervasive atmosphere of anti-Muslim hysteria and in doing so he contributed to restoring sanity and dispelling fear.

Reza Aslan

Aslan is the man that Islamophobes love to hate. They can’t stand him. Robert Spencer published dozens of blog posts on him alone. Aslan has been vocal in the mainstream media about the anti-Muslim Islamophobia that swept America in 2010 and its main progenitors. He has delivered speeches, engaged in debates, written articles and books all towards attempting to foster understanding, and his implicit nod to Loonwatch on the Colbert Report was much appreciated.

Max Blumenthal

Max Blumenthal’s pieces on Pamela Geller, SIOA, video footage of rabid anti-Muslim rallies, and coverage of the Great Islamophobic crusade bring him into the spotlight as one of the leading anti-Loons of 2010. Blumenthal is also notable for being one of the first investigative journalists to quote and link to Loonwatch.

Lee Baca

Sheriff Lee Baca is a tough as nails LA County Sheriff who went toe-to-toe with a right-wing republican Representative over the politicians attempts to intimidate Muslims and cast Muslim leaders as affiliated with terrorist organizations.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) impugned Baca during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting, saying the sheriff had allied himself with a Muslim American group that engaged in “radical” speech by going to its fundraisers. Baca not only attacked that description of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, but he also told Souder he would be fine with going to more fundraisers for the group.

“If he thinks I’m afraid of what he said, I will go to 10 fundraisers because he said it,” Baca declared Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before a town hall meeting with the Muslim American community.

Actually, Baca said, he’s been to only two fundraisers for the organization in four years, but that, he added, is not the point. What rankled Baca — aside from what he took as Souder personally challenging the sheriff’s patriotism — was what he saw as the congressman’s inaccurate assessment of the group.

“In other words, he’s an amateur intelligence officer,” Baca said.

Several times a year, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress — an independent group set up to advise Baca and forge a partnership between the department and Muslim Americans — and the Sheriff’s Department’s Muslim Community Affairs Unit hold forums to discuss issues. The one Tuesday night was scheduled before the dust-up in Washington offered a charged topic for discussion.

When Baca spoke at the Tuesday event, he was given a standing ovation by the 75 or so people at the Omar ibn Al-Khattab Foundation near USC.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg stood up at a crucial moment during the Park51 (Ground Zero Mosque) controversy and didn’t back down. He gave an impassioned defense of religious liberty and freedom in a historic speech during the firestorm and took a lot of heat for it from people in his party.

Honorable Mentions:

-Wajahat Ali

-Richard Silverstein

-Keith Olbermann

-Rachel Maddow

-Molly Norris

-Cenk Uygur

-Lesley Hazelton