Archive for Mosques

Leaked NYPD Document Lists Watched Mosques, Islamic Schools

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2012 by loonwatch

More on the NYPD spying debacle:

Leaked NYPD Document Lists Watched Mosques, Islamic Schools

By ELIZABETH FLOCK

A former police reporter leaked a list of monitored areas the NYPD watched as part of a questionable program used to spy on Muslims

A website dedicated to following the New York City Police Department published a document Monday detailing Islamic schools, NGOs, mosques, student associations, and persons of interest that were monitored by the NYPD in 2006 as part of its secret and legally questionable program to spy on Muslims.

The program was first exposed in an Pulitzer Prize-winning series by the Associated Press last year.

Leonard Levitt, a former Newsday police reporter who runs NYPD Confidential, writes Monday that the NYPD’s own Intelligence Division document from 2006 refute claims that the police force is innocent.

According to the new document, NYPD’s undercover officers or informants infiltrated places as varied as the Westchester Muslim Center mosque, an Islamic student association at Brooklyn College, and the Council on American-Islamic Affairs (CAIR).

“It doesn’t suprise me at all,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. “It seems every organization, leader, mosque, and cab driver was on their list… But what we’re concerned about is the individual Muslims who were targeted for this spy campaign without a warrant or any evidence of wrongdoing on anyone’s part.”

In all, NYPD compiled information on 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim student associations, 263 “ethnic hotspots,” such as restaurants and businesses, and 138 “persons of interest,” according to NYPD Confidential.

While the AP also published a number of NYPD documents as part of its ongoing series, today’s 2006 Intelligence Division documents appear to be newly leaked.

Levitt writes that he felt compelled to publish it because of attempts by Mitchell Silber, who recently left the NYPD intelligence department, to discredit the AP’s work. Silber has written in multiple publications that the AP’s work is “rife with inaccuracies.”

Levitt writes that the monitoring outlined in the 2006 document is so “sweeping” that it “resembled files of the former Communist East German secret police.”

Requests for comment from the NYPD, Westchester Muslim Center and Brooklyn College Islamic Society were not immediately returned.

Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report.You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her onTwitter and Facebook.

UK: Arrest Over Racist Graffiti at Wakefield Mosque

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2012 by loonwatch

More vandalism of Mosques in the UK and Europe (via. Islamophobia-Watch):

Arrest over racist graffiti at Wakefield mosque

Racist yobs scrawled graffiti on the side of a mosque. The offensive slogan was daubed on the side of the Markazi Jamia Masjid Mosque, on Grange Street.

The Central neighbourhood police team (NPT) arrested an 18-year-old man from Darnley this afternoon. Officers believe another suspect was also involved in the attack which happened on April 20.

Anyone with information should contact the NPT on 101.

Wakefield Express, 23 May 2012

John McAndrew Banned from Mosques after EDL Attack in Dagenham

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer‘s favorite UK anti-Muslim organization:

Thug Banned from Mosques after EDL Attack in Dagenham

(London2)

A thug who attacked two men at a rally against a Muslim place of worship has been banned from going near London mosques for five years.

John McAndrew, 29, was jailed for 14 months after throwing large stones onto a busy road and then the following month assaulting two men at an English Defence League demo against a mosque and cultural centre in Green Lane, Dagenham.

Last week, McAndrew was given an Asbo stopping him from going near Muslim schools and places of worship until 2017 and taking part in any EDL demos in England for life.

In a statement released by the Met Police last week, Barking and Dagenham Pc Mark Gellard said: “John McAndrew is an individual whose often violent behaviour is linked with his attendance at demonstrations and protests, particularly surrounding the English Defence League.

“This behaviour affects those who live, work and frequent the areas where some of these demonstrations have taken place.”

McAndrew, of Grange Road, Plaistow, was given a conviction related Asbo at Woolwich Crown Court on February 20.

The Asbo will stop him from attending Islamic festivals for five years and from publicising and attending any rally run by, or in conjunction with, the EDL in England and Wales for the rest of his life.

McAndrew was jailed at Woolwich Crown Court on December 7. He was given four months after admitting common assault against the two men at an EDL rally in Dagenham on June 18, 2011.

He received another four months for affray after admitting throwing large stones onto the A4 dual carriageway during rush hour traffic at another EDL protest at the Hammersmith Flyover on May 11, 2011, police added.

McAndrew was given six months for breaching a suspended sentence for affray at a Poundmart store in Woolwich on September 10, 2009.

He was also sentenced to four weeks, to run concurrently, for two counts of failing to surrender to police.

Attacks on Bulgarian mosques: ‘This hatred is new to us’

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Burning guard post in front of Roma leader's house

Muslims and Roma may be the new scapegoats in Bulgaria.

Attacks on Bulgarian mosques: ‘This hatred is new to us’

Anna Zacharias

Violent ethnic riots swept Bulgaria weeks before this Sunday’s presidential elections, following the killing of a teenager by a man with links to a local Roma crime boss. Originally aimed at highlighting the alleged corruption of “Tsar” Kiril Rashkov, these demonstrations soon spread across the country, before ugly scenes developed. Rioters turned on ethnic minorities and Muslims and attacked mosques in both Sofia, the capital, and Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city.

A few months earlier, politicians and the public had gathered to show their support for a unified Bulgaria following violent demonstrations outside Sofia’s historic Banya Bashi mosque. But what began as a “peaceful protest” against the volume of loudspeakers that broadcast the call to prayer, ended with supporters of Ataka, the ultra-nationalist party, setting fire to prayer mats and pelting worshippers with stones.

Some observers equated this attack with the creep of Islamophobia being seen in parts of western Europe. Yet it came as a shock to many in a country that prides itself on its history of religious tolerance.

“[That] was something nobody expected,” said Mustafa Alish Hadji, the grand mufti and leader of Muslims in Bulgaria, following the protests. “It is worrying for Muslims and Christians because it [creates] tension that didn’t exist before.”

Ethnic distinctions have become a favoured topic to exploit in the country’s post-communist political landscape, particularly since Ataka won 9.36 per cent of the vote in the 2009 parliamentary elections, establishing an informal coalition with the governing centre-right party.

But, while Ataka’s hardline rhetoric has served it well, the mosque protests did not get the expected results – ethnic sectarianism is accepted in Bulgaria, religious sectarianism is not. The public laid flowers at the mosque and opposition politicians denounced the attacks as a publicity stunt in the preamble to this Sunday’s municipal and presidential elections, in which Volen Siderov, the Ataka leader, is running for president using the campaign slogan, “I am your weapon, use it”.

Ataka was condemned in a declaration by Parliament to be “dangerous to the government” with an attitude “completely foreign to the Bulgarian people and their religious and ethnic tolerance”.

Irrespective of ethnicity, Bulgarian Muslims face prosecution because they are considered “Turkish” and associated with the rule of the Ottoman empire.

While myths of the terrible Turk are ubiquitous in Bulgarian culture – painted on churches and reenacted in village celebrations – so, too, is a strong sense of religious acceptance.

“This hatred is new to us,” said Hadji. “It’s the first time we have seen such nationalism and seen such hatred towards others. Most Muslims are rural. The problem is not in rural areas, it is in towns and in cities. Nationalism has more power [there] than in the villages,” he said. “In the city, people don’t know each other so well. In the village, Muslims and Christians live and pray together. Nationalism has no way to separate them.”

Nowhere is this religious tolerance better exemplified than in the villages of the Rhodope mountains, where minarets rise above thick clusters of pine trees and Muslims and Christians live side by side.

On the same day that blood stained the steps of the Banya Banshi mosque in Sofia, a three-day wedding was underway in the village of Musfata Alish Hadji. The celebration shared by Christians and Muslims exemplifies Bulgaria’s comfortable blend of Slavic and Eastern traditions. Women with red sequins glued bindi-style to the centre of their brow began the festivities by ring dancing to a pop song. Their performance was followed by belly dancing and exclamations in Greek and Arabic. Around tables spread with banitsa pastry and halva sweets, wedding guests spoke of their shock at the Sofia attacks.

Ramadan, a lorry driver in his thirties who had previously worked in Spain, said Bulgaria was among the most tolerant places in Europe for Muslims.

“The racism in Spain is horrible,” he said. “In the south, they treat us Muslims like s***, they swear at us. This doesn’t happen here. We are respected.”

NYPD Spying on Mosques, Muslim Restaurants, and Muslim Students

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

As someone with anti-establishment and anti-authority views, it is no surprise that I’ve been (and still am) highly critical of the military, the CIA, and the FBI for some time now.  Now I’m adding the police to that list.  I’m critical of police brutality, the racism that runs rife through the force, the heavy-handed tactics they use, and their lack of transparency.  And now there’s this: the NYPD caught spying on Muslims, including college-going students.

What perfectly encapsulates the National Security State is the police illegally spying on citizenry on the one hand (in violation of the Fourth Amendment) while on the other hand working hard to prohibit citizens from taping police officers in public doing their job (a denial of our First Amendment right).  Those in authority have the right to know what websites you browse on the internet in the confines of your bedroom while you have no right to know anything about those in authority even when it directly affects you.

The targets of the National Security State are first and foremost Muslims, who are at the bottom of America’s totem pole.  In any case, here is the article from The Associated Press:

By Adam Goldman, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department compiled lists of mosques and Muslim businesses it saw as potential security risks for reasons that included endorsing conservative religious views or having devout customers, according to hundreds of pages of internal police documents newly obtained by The Associated Press.

The records reveal the extent of an undercover effort that initially studied more than 250 mosques in New York and New Jersey and identified hundreds more “hot spots” in a hunt for terrorists. Many showed obvious signs of criminal behavior, but the police explanations for targeting others were less clear.

A Bangladeshi restaurant, for instance, was identified as a hot spot for having a “devout crowd.” The restaurant was noted for being a “popular meeting location for political activities.”

The documents obtained by the AP, many of which were marked secret, paint the clearest picture yet of how the past decade’s hunt for terrorists also put huge numbers of innocent people under scrutiny as they went about their daily lives in mosques, restaurants and social groups. Every day, undercover officers and informants filed reports from their positions as “listening posts” inside Muslim communities.

At the White House, where President Barack Obama recently urged local authorities not to cast suspicion on entire communities, spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment Tuesday on whether it endorsed the tactics outlined in the NYPD documents.

An AP investigation last month revealed that the department maintains a list of “ancestries of interest” that it uses to focus its clandestine efforts. A secret team known as the Demographics Unit then dispatched plainclothes officers into the community to eavesdrop in cafes and chat up business owners.

That effort has benefited from federal money and an unusually close relationship with the CIA, one that at times blurred the lines between domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering.

After identifying more than 250 area mosques, police officials determined the “ethnic orientation, leadership and group affiliations,” according to the 2006 police documents. Police also used informants and teams of plainclothes officers, known as rakers, to identify mosques requiring further scrutiny, according to an official involved in that effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the program.

Armed with that information, police then identified 53 “mosques of concern” and placed undercover officers and informants there, the documents show.

Many of those mosques were flagged for allegations of criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, financing Hamas or money laundering. Others were identified for having ties to Salafism, a hardline movement preaching a strict version of Islamic law. Still others were identified for what the documents refer to as “rhetoric.”

Other reasons are less clear.

Two mosques, for instance, were flagged for having ties to Al-Azhar, the 1,000-year-old Egyptian mosque that is the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world. Al-Azhar was one of the first religious institutions to condemn the 2001 terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush’s close adviser, Karen Hughes, visited Al-Azhar in 2005 and applauded its courage.

Al-Azhar was also a sponsor of Obama’s 2009 speech reaching out to the Muslim world.

The list of mosques where undercover agents or informants operated includes ones that Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has visited and that area officials have mentioned as part of the region’s strong ties to the Muslim community. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stood beside leaders of some mosques on the list as allies in fighting terrorism.

The documents are a series of internal presentations, including one prepared for Kelly. Following the AP’s reporting, they were provided to the AP and veteran New York police reporter Leonard Levitt, who runs the website NYPDConfidential.com. Because the list of mosques is so long and explanation for the surveillance is so limited, the AP is not identifying the individual mosques that were under surveillance.

An NYPD spokesman did return messages seeking comment Monday, a holiday, and again Tuesday. The police department has said it follows leads and does not trawl entire neighborhoods.

New York police identified 263 “hot spots” throughout the city, the documents show. Like the mosques, the examples of hot spots ranged from businesses that sold untaxed cigarettes and where inflammatory rhetoric was overheard to those with less obvious criminal connections.

The example of the Bangladeshi restaurant flagged for its “devout” clientele further undercuts Bloomberg’s claim that the NYPD does not take religion into account in its policing. Last week the AP revealed that the NYPD maintained a list of “ancestries of interest” that included “American Black Muslim,” which is a religion, not an ancestry.

Police also kept tabs on seven of the area’s Muslim student associations, defined in the documents as “a university-based student group, with an Islamic focus, involved with religious and political activities.” Two were flagged for having Salafi speakers. One was cited for having students who are “politically active and are radicalizing.”

Since the AP reports, several Muslim civil rights groups and a New York congresswoman have urged the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD for what critics see as racial profiling. Under U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department has stepped up investigations of local police departments for possible civil rights violations, but none involves national security cases.

Apuzzo and Goldman can be reached at dcinvestigations(at)ap.org or at http://twitter.com/mattapuzzo and http://twitter.com/goldmandc

With CIA help, NYPD built secret effort to monitor mosques, daily life of Muslim neighborhoods

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2011 by loonwatch

NYPD

With CIA help, NYPD built secret effort to monitor mosques, daily life of Muslim neighborhoods

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

A veteran CIA officer, while still on the agency’s payroll, was the architect of the NYPD’s intelligence programs. The CIA trained a police detective at the Farm, the agency’s spy school in Virginia, then returned him to New York, where he put his new espionage skills to work inside the United States.

And just last month, the CIA sent a senior officer to work as a clandestine operative inside police headquarters.

The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. Police operations have disrupted terrorist plots and put several would-be killers in prison.

“The New York Police Department is doing everything it can to make sure there’s not another 9/11 here and that more innocent New Yorkers are not killed by terrorists,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. “And we have nothing to apologize for in that regard.” AP’s investigation is based on documents and interviews with more than 40 current and former New York Police Department and federal officials. Many were directly involved in planning and carrying out these secret operations for the department. Though most said the tactics were appropriate and made the city safer, many insisted on anonymity, because they were not authorized to speak with reporters about security matters.

In response to the story, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading Muslim civil rights organization, called on the Justice Department to investigate. The Justice Department said Wednesday night it would review the request.

“This is potentially illegal what they’re doing,” said Gadeir Abbas, a staff attorney with the organization.

After the terrorist attacks, New York hired retired CIA official David Cohen to transform its intelligence division.

Among Cohen’s earliest moves at the NYPD was asking for help from his old CIA colleagues. He needed someone who had access to the latest intelligence so the NYPD wouldn’t have to rely on the FBI to dole out information.

CIA Director George Tenet dispatched Larry Sanchez, a respected CIA veteran, to New York while Sanchez was still on the CIA payroll, three former intelligence officials said. Sanchez directed and mentored officers, schooling them in the art of gathering information, officials said.

There had never been an arrangement like it, and some senior CIA officials soon began questioning whether Tenet was allowing Sanchez to operate on both sides of the wall that’s supposed to keep the CIA out of the domestic intelligence business.

Read the rest…

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

This is a GOP candidate who is getting 6% of the popular vote right now, and this sort of rhetoric is acceptable for a large portion of Americans.

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

Herman Cain said Sunday that Americans should be able to ban Muslims from building mosques in their communities.

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” Cain said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

Last week, the Republican presidential candidate expressed criticism of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, telling reporters at a campaign event that “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Sharia law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that.”

“This isn’t an innocent mosque,” Cain said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace pressed him about those comments.

“Let’s go back to the fundamental issue,” Cain said. “Islam is both a religion and a set of laws — Sharia laws. That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”

“So, you’re saying that any community, if they want to ban a mosque…” Wallace began.

“Yes, they have the right to do that,” Cain said.

Cain has made a number of controversial comments about Muslims, including a vow to be cautious about allowing a Muslim to serve in his administration.

On Sunday, Cain defended his position, telling Wallace that it’s not discrimination.

“Aren’t you willing to restrict people because of their religion?” Wallace asked.

“I’m willing to take a harder look at people who might be terrorists, that’s what I’m saying,” Cain replied. “Look, I know that there’s a peaceful group of Muslims in this country. God bless them and they’re free to worship. If you look at my career I have never discriminated against anybody, because of their religion, sex or origin or anything like that.”

“I’m simply saying I owe it to the American people to be cautious because terrorists are trying to kill us,” Cain said, “so yes I’m going to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of carelessness.”

Original post: Herman Cain: Americans Have The Right To Ban Mosques In Their Communities

MEQ Report Claims 81 Per Cent of US Mosques Promote “Violent Jihad”

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2011 by loonwatch

A good article from Richard Bartholomew on a “recent” report by Middle East Quarterly (part of Daniel Pipes Middle East Forum) that 81% of US mosques promote violent jihad. This is the same number that Islamophobes have been promoting for years now.

The report is filled with methodological flaws.

MEQ Report Claims 81 Per Cent of US Mosques Promote “Violent Jihad”

by Richard Bartholomew

At the American Thinker and Big Peace, Andrew Bostom discusses  ”Sharia and Violence in American Mosques”, a new article  by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi published the Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2011, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 59-72). The somewhat inflammatory title is par for the course: Yerushalmi (perhaps best-known as Pamela Geller’s lawyer) is the brains behind the ideologically-driven “Mapping Shariah” project, which has a number of methodological problems that I outlined here. The paper is being published today; it appears that Bostom has been given an advance copy.

According to quotes in Bostom’s post (itself a diatribe entitled “Mosques as Barracks in America”), a number of US mosques were chosen at random,

(a) to observe and record 12 Sharia-adherent behaviors of the worshipers and the imam (or lay leader); (b) to observe whether the mosque contained the selected materials rated as moderate and severe; (c) to observe whether the mosque contained materials promoting, praising, or supporting violence or violent jihad; and (d) to observe whether the mosque contained materials indicating the mosque had invited guest speakers known to have promoted violent jihad.

Findings:

51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari’a-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.

…The survey found a strong correlation between the presence of severe violence-promoting literature and mosques featuring written, audio, and video materials that actually promoted such acts. By promotion of jihad, the study included literature encouraging worshipers to engage in terrorist activity, to provide financial support to jihadists, and to promote the establishment of a caliphate in the United States. These materials also explicitly praised acts of terror against the West; praised symbols or role models of violent jihad; promoted the use of force, terror, war, and violence to implement the [strange gap here – RB] Sharia; emphasized the inferiority of non-Muslim life; promoted hatred and intolerance toward non-Muslims or notional Muslims; and endorsed inflammatory materials with anti-U.S. views… [O]f the 51 mosques that contained severe materials, 100 percent were led by imams who recommended that worshipers study texts that promote violence.

[M]osques containing violence positive materials were substantially more likely to include materials promoting financial support of terror than mosques that did not contain such texts. A disturbing 98 percent of mosques with severe texts included materials promoting financial support of terror. Those with only moderate rated materials on site were not markedly different, with 97 percent providing such materials.

These results were comparable when using other indicators of jihad promotion. Thus, 98 percent of mosques that contained severe-rated literature included materials promoting establishing an Islamic caliphate in the United States as did 97 percent of mosques containing only moderate rated materials.

Further details on methodology are provided in an Appendix, which has been posted on-line here. The list of “Sharia Adherent Behaviors” includes: “gender segregation during prayer service”, “alignment of men’s prayer lines”, the imam’s beard style, whether the imam has a head covering or not or is wearing Western-style clothing, and whether the imam wears a watch on his right wrist. Also significant is the percentage of men wearing beards or hats, whether boys have head-coverings, and whether girls and women are wearing hijabs or niqabs – “Non-Shari’a-adherent behavior”, we are told, “is to wear the modern hijab (a scarf that does not completely cover the hair) or to not wear any hair”.

For reasons that are not immediately clear, we then segue into the issue of violence, as the list continues:

If the surveyor found the Fiqh as-Sunna or Tafsir Ibn Kathir, but not more extreme materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing moderate-rated material. If the surveyor found the Riyadh as-Salaheen, works by Qutb or Mawdudi, or similar materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing severe-rated materials.

If the surveyor found no violence-positive materials or if the violence-positive materials constituted less than 10% of all available materials, then the mosque was categorized as containing no materials.

…Following the prayer service, the surveyor asked the following question: “Do you recommend the study of: (a) only the Quran and/or Sunna; (b) Tafsir Ibn Kathir; (c) Fiqh as-Sunna; (e) Reliance of the Traveller; or (f) the works of Qutb, such as Milestones, and Maududi, such as The Meaning of the Qur’an?”

If the imam or lay leader recommended studying any of the materials mentioned above except the Qur’an and/or Sunna, then the imam or lay leader was recorded as having recommended the study of texts promoting the rated material.

The “10%” principle here is a welcome nod towards proportionality, but it’s undermined by what follows. The Reliance of the Traveller and the Tafsir Ibn Kathirare both pre-modern compendiums of Islamic law; of course they contain some troubling material, like many other pre-modern texts. But they also contain a lot else: we need to understand why the imams recommend these texts, not just note that they do and therefore chalk up one more extremist. It’s also unclear whether the imams are being asked about their general recommendation practices in relation to these texts or whether they are simply advising the questioner.

Further:

If materials available on mosque premises promoted joining a known terrorist organization, such as “mujahideen” engaged in jihad abroad, then the mosque was recorded as having promoted joining a terrorist organization.

That may seems reasonable so far as it goes, but again it begs a lot of questions. Some general sympathy for a mujahideen group involved in military conflict in somewhere in central Asia is a very different proposition from supporting al-Qaeda, so we need more than just a broad-brush “terrorism” label if we are to understand what is going on and why. And we need to know more about how the materials are made available, and in what ways they are promoted. Are leaflets given out to attendees, or is “promotion” simply an obscure poster pinned to an unmoderated noticeboard somewhere on the premises? There’s scope for various interpretations there.

If materials available on mosque premises indicated that speakers came to the mosque to raise money for specific terrorist organizations, then the mosque was recorded as having openly collected money at the mosque for a known terrorist organization.

…If any of the materials featured on mosque property promoted engaging in terrorist activity; promoted the financial support of terrorism or jihadists; promoted the use of force, terror, war, and violence to implement Shari‘a; promoted the idea that oppression and subversion of Islam should be changed by deed first, then by speech, then by faith; praised acts of terrorism against the West; or praised suicide bombers against Israelis, then the mosque was recorded as having promoted violent jihad.

This raises further questions: are we talking about organisations which are banned under US law, or organisations around which there are suspicions (reasonable or contrived) of links to terrorism?

We all know that some mosques in the USA and elsewhere promote radicalisation and extremism. We also know that others need to do more to ensure that radical elements do not gain a toe-hold. But this kind of inquisitorial and quantitative approach is of very limited value and is probably even misleading. If one wants to know whether a mosque “promotes jihad”, one needs to get a sense of the overall teaching and the general perspectives of those who attend. Simply totting up whether an undercover visitor can spot or elicit something troubling is an insufficient methodology. And what purpose is served by mixing all this in with a list “Sharia Adherent Behaviors”, other than to give Muslim cultural practices a sinister hue?

The Middle East Quarterly has a note on its peer-review process here. Previously, it rejected peer-review on the grounds that most specialists were not interested in “American interests” or were hostile to USA; however:

…In 2009, circumstances have begun to change. This journal finds itself part of a growing community of specialists not hostile to the United States and its allies. As other journals and organizations have joined our ranks, they increased the circle of those with professional and expert knowledge of the Middle East and created a larger pool of reviewers to engage in a constructive process of refereeing.

Muslims face growing attacks in Ivory Coast crisis

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2011 by loonwatch
In this photo taken on March 22, 2011, people pay there respects to Imam Souleyman Sissouma and his family at the Bilal Mosque during a funeral service in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Souleymane Sissouma was the third imam slain this month in a wave of anti-Muslim attacks so brutal his surviving family members were too afraid to attend his funeral. At least 10 mosques across Abidjan have been burned, and another was abandoned after attackers threw a grenade through a window during prayers. (AP)

What if the Muslims were attacking churches and killing innocent people, this would reach American channels quicker than we would realize. In the Ivory coast Muslims have been facing attacks for a while but recently these attacks are on the rise.

Muslims face growing attacks in Ivory Coast crisis

By MARCO CHOWN OVED | AP

As dozens of mourners gathered at a mosque, the twisted wreckage of a burned car lay outside — another sign of the growing campaign of violence against Muslims who widely support Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of November’s presidential election.

Ouattara, who is Muslim, is locked in a battle with the entrenched president Laurent Gbagbo for power, and their conflict is veering dangerously toward sectarian violence.

At least 10 mosques across Abidjan have been set ablaze, and another was abandoned after attackers threw a grenade through a window during prayers.

“Us Muslims, we’re not safe. We are the object of every kind of violence. We’re afraid. We don’t know how this is going to end,” said Imam Idriss Koudouss, president of the National Islamic Council. “And we aren’t even involved in politics.” Ouattara supporters also have been beaten to death with bricks, even doused with gasoline and burned alive. Cell phone videos of the horrors are traded on the street and broadcast on state television along with calls to arms.

“It’s the political manipulation of ethnicity,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch.

“The root of the conflict is competition for political power and the fault lines are drawn along religious, ethnic and national lines.”

November’s presidential election was supposed to reunite the country after a 2002-2003 civil war split it into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south. But when Gbagbo refused to recognize UN-certified results showing that he lost, Ivory Coast was plunged back into a cycle of violence.

The UN says up to 1 million people have fled the fighting and at least 462 people have been killed, though Ouattara’s camp puts the toll at 832. The vast majority of these deaths were Ouattara supporters who were abducted and killed by Gbagbo-allied security forces, human rights groups say.

“We’re afraid. Everyone’s leaving,” said Abdias Goita, a father of two who waited outside the Malian embassy for evacuation Friday. “My brother had his door broken down by pro-Gbagbo militias. He gave them all the money he had — about 200,000 francs ($430) — but they slit his throat anyway.” During the presidential campaign, little was made of the fact that Ouattara would be Ivory Coast’s first Muslim president, drawing much of his support from the north. In the aftermath though, pro-Gbagbo police and militias have been widely accused of targeting Muslims because they are perceived as being defacto Ouattara supporters.

Last week, riot police showed up at Imam Sissouma’s mosque, arresting him and his son and taking the offering box. A fellow imam immediately called the interior minister to plead for their release and thought everything would be fine when Sissouma’s wife called to say they were back at home, safe and sound.

But Sissouma’s wife called back a half hour later to say the riot police had executed him and five other people, including his elderly mother.

Interior Minister Emile Guirieoulou acknowledged receiving the call, but refused to confirm the arrests or the killings, because the investigation is ongoing.

“In Ivory Coast, there have never been religious problems, Christians and Muslims live side by side. This tragic incident is a pure result of the political crisis,” said Imam Moussa Drame, whose own mosque was attacked in December.

Some 38.6 percent of Ivorians are Muslim, and 32.8 percent are Christians, according to the CIA World Factbook. An inter-religious council, made up of Christian and Muslim leaders is one of the country’s most respected institutions.

But xenophobia has long been a problem in this country, which has attracted millions of immigrant laborers from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. They came to work on plantations, especially cocoa farms that produce the raw material that goes into much of the world’s chocolate.

Resolving who would even be allowed to vote in the presidential election took years.

Now armed youth who support Gbagbo are stopping and threatening people at makeshift roadblocks across Abidjan.

Those with northern or Muslim names are accused of being pro-Ouattara rebels, and are beaten or killed, activists say.

Human Rights Watch reported dozens of ethnically and religiously motivated killings earlier this month, often carried out by the police or by pro-Gbagbo youth with police consent. Ouattara supporters were beaten to death “with bricks, clubs, and sticks, or doused them with gas and burned them alive.” Cell phone videos of the incidents have been posted on YouTube and Facebook, often accompanied by dehumanizing and anti-Muslim comments.

Fueling the fire is a relentless campaign of what the UN has called “lies” and “propaganda” on Gbagbo-controlled state television. The Radio-Television Ivorienne (RTI) is referred to by some foreign journalists as TV Mille Collines, in reference to the radio station that encouraged the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

In one report aired last week, the anchorman smiled as he described a dozen alleged rebels killed by pro-Gbagbo soldiers in central Abidjan as “culled like little birds.” Graphic images of their bloodied bodies were interspersed with images of soldiers giving each other high five and cheering crowds.

“The future Gbagbo proposes for his country is war, anarchy and violence, with ethnic, religious and xenophobic dimensions,” wrote Louise Arbour, president of the International Crisis Group, in an open letter this week.

New arson attack on mosque in German capital

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Oh no, no Islamophobia here.

(hat tip: Ali Nihal)

New arson attack on mosque in German capital

BERLIN  — German police said an arson attack on a mosque in the country’s capital left has blackened its entrance door, but nobody was injured.

There have been more than 10 arson attacks on Islamic institutions in Berlin in the past year, and police said in a statement Saturday they are investigating whether this attack is linked to the previous ones.

The statement said a passer-by saw the fire early Saturday morning and alerted police. It said officers and the witness contained the small blaze with the police car’s fire-extinguishers. The fire caused only minor damage.

Police said a message was left next to the mosque’s door, but did not provide further details.

 

U.S. Monitoring 11 Sites for Possible Discrimination Against Muslims

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by loonwatch

(via. Reuters)

U.S. monitoring 11 sites for possible discrimination against Muslims

The U.S. Justice Department has said it is monitoring 11 cases of potential land-use discrimination against Muslims, a sharp increase in cases under a federal law designed to protect religious minorities in zoning disputes.

In a report on discrimination against mosques, synagogues, churches and other religious sites, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said on Tuesday it has monitored 18 cases of possible bias against Muslims over the past 10 years.

Eight of those have been opened since May, around the time when plans for a Muslim community center and mosque near the former site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan seized media attention and caused a national political uproar. “This fact is a sober reminder that, even in the 21st century, challenges to true religious liberty remain,” the report said.

The report made no mention of the planned Muslim center in New York, known as Cordoba House. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to discuss monitoring activities but stressed that no investigations were under way in those cases.

 

Islamophobia is on the Rise, Exhibit B: Bryan Fischer

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , on August 13, 2010 by loonwatch

Even those who used to debate whether Islamophobia exits or not probably have no leg to stand on, as it is evident with all the rhetoric and flashpoints across America, Islamophobia is on the rise.

Bryan Fischer a leader in the conservative American Family Association echoes Euro-supremacist Geert Wilders statements that Islam isn’t a religion. This line of attack is becoming more and more common.

Conservative activist calls for nationwide mosque moratorium

by John Cook

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dauhe5be7Rc&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

One of the leaders of the conservative American Family Association has taken the debate over the Cordoba Mosque in lower Manhattan to a new level. Bryan Fischer, the group’s director of issue analysis, is calling on his blog and radio show for a nationwide moratorium on the construction of any mosque, anywhere. “Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero,” Fischer wrote on Tuesday. “This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.”

That’s an odd position for an ostensibly religious organization to have. But it’s especially odd because the American Family Association filed a federal lawsuit in 2003 accusing a county government in Georgia of violating federal law and the Constitution for refusing to grant a permit to build a church.

As we’ve mentioned previously, many of the groups who have endorsed the idea of using preservation laws to block the construction of the mosque have previously argued precisely the opposite when the imperiled project was a church. Indeed, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) explicitly bars local governments from “implement[ing] a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of … a religious assembly or institution,” unless there’s a compelling government interest in doing so. Many of the groups that have come out against the mosque — and in favor of stopping it with land-use laws — have filed federal lawsuits under the act.

You can add the American Family Association to their number. In 2003, the AFA helped the Victory Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Henry County, Ga., file a federal lawsuit accusing the county of violating RLUIPA, as well as Victory’s constitutional rights to free exercise of religion, due process, and equal protection under the laws, for refusing to grant a building permit for a new church. The group prevailed, and celebrated the win in the AFA newsletter.

Now the AFA appears to be advocating the express violation of the very law that allowed for that victory, under the theory that mosques don’t count. A call to the AFA to clear up the inconsistency was not immediately returned.

UPDATE: Fischer returned our phone call. Turns out we weren’t too far off: Mosques don’t count! “I’m not a lawyer,” he told The Upshot, “but I have a layman’s understanding of the RLUIPA. And there’s a key difference between that case and mosques: Islam is not just a religion. It’s a subversive ideology. And as a subversive ideology, they can’t seek protection under the First Amendment.” Since Islam is really a political movement that advocates the imposition of sharia, he said, it doesn’t deserve the same sort of protections that the Victory Tabernacle Missionary Church gets. By the way: One of the bad things about sharia, according to Fischer, is “there is no such thing as religious liberty.” Sounds awful.

Fischer went on to say that “the First Amendment was designed to provide religious liberty for the Christian faith,” but that he is happy to let other religions enjoy its protections so long as they’re not “subversive.” Asked to identify any other subversive religions aside from Islam as a point of comparison, he came up empty. Not even Satanism? “Not that I’m aware of,” he said.

Finally, we asked Fischer why, if Islam is so dangerous, he’s stopping at a moratorium on new mosques. Why not shut down the ones that already exist? “We need to take things one step at a time here,” he said. “We need to turn off the hose first, and then we can figure out how to clean up the mess.”

Fischer said he was speaking as a talk-radio host (he hosts a show on the American Family Radio network),  and not as a representative of the AFA, which “hasn’t taken a position on the building of mosques.”