Archive for Muslim Americans

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2012 by loonwatch

Sonny Singh: We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond

As a brown-skinned Sikh with a turban on my head and a long beard on my chin, I deal with my fair share of racist and xenophobic harassment regularly, including in my home of New York City, the most diverse city on the planet. It usually takes the form of someone yelling or perhaps mumbling at me: Osama bin Laden/terrorist/al Qaeda/he’s going to blow up the /go back to your country/etc. Less often, someone might threaten me, get in my face, or in one case, pull off my turban on the subway.

My experience is not terribly unique for a turban-wearing Sikh in the United States. Especially since 9/11, we Sikhs have become all too familiar with racial epithets, bullying and violence. Just last month, a gurdwara in Michigan was vandalized with hostile anti-Muslim graffiti. Last year, in what we can assume was a hate attack, two elderly Sikh men were shot and killed while taking an evening walk in a quiet neighborhood in Elk Grove, Calif.

Many talk about the prevalence of anti-Sikh attacks as a case of “mistaken identity.” Sikhs mistaken for Muslims. Indeed, we are by and large attacked because of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Michigan gurdwara was targeted for that reason, and most of us who experience racist harassment as Sikhs in the U.S. experience it through the vilification of Muslims and/or Arabs.

Ironically, many Sikhs themselves vilify Muslims or at least distance themselves from the Muslim community at every possible opportunity. I remember in the days, weeks and months after 9/11, the first thing out of the mouths of many Sikhs when talking to the press, to politicians or even to their neighbors was, “We are not Muslims.” While this is of course a fact, the implication of the statement if it stops there is: You’re attacking the wrong community. Don’t come after us, go after the Muslims! Sikhs believe in equality and freedom and love our country and our government. But Muslims? We don’t like them either.

The roots of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Sikh community run deep in South Asia, from the days of the tyranny of Mughal emperors such as Aurangzeb in the 17th century to the bloodshed in 1947 when our homeland of Punjab was sliced into two separate nation-states. Despite these historical realities, Sikhism has always been clear that neither Muslims as a people nor Islam as a religion were ever the enemy. Tyranny was the enemy. Oppression was the enemy. Sectarianism was the enemy. In fact, the Guru Granth Sahib, our scriptures that are the center of Sikh philosophy and devotion, contains the writings of Muslim (Sufi) saints alongside those of our own Sikh Gurus. Nevertheless, historical memory breeds misguided hostility and mistrust of Muslims, especially in the contemporary global context of ever-increasing, mainstream Islamophobia.

What is it going to take for Sikhs and Muslims to join together in solidarity against the common enemies of racist harassment and violence, racial and religious profiling, and Islamophobic bigotry? Perhaps the recently exposed NYPD spying program (along with the “education” officers have received about Islam) will serve as a wake up call to my community (and other communities for that matter) about how bad things have really gotten. While we Sikhs confront bigotry on a daily basis from our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, employers and strangers on the street, our Muslim American counterparts are systematically targeted by our own government. (I should note that, of course, Sikhs too are profiled by law enforcement in less repressive, though still troubling, ways, especially at airport security).

Sikhism was born hundreds of years ago in part to stand up for the most oppressed and fight for the freedom and liberation of all people. If this isn’t reason enough for us to make the cause of rooting out Islamophobia from the NYPD and other law enforcement and government agencies our own, we only have to return to the bleak reality we Sikhs in the U.S. still face right now in 2012. A time when gurdwaras are still vandalized with anti-Muslim statements, Sikh kids are still being bullied and tormented at school every day, and I am called Osama bin Laden while walking down a Manhattan street for the 258th time (no I’m not counting).

“We are not Muslims” hasn’t been so effective for our community, has it? Even if we do so in a positive way that does not condone attacks on Muslims, simply educating the public about the fact that we are a distinct community and that we in fact “are not Muslim” will not get to the root of the problem. As long as we live in a country (and world) where an entire community (in this case, Muslims) is targeted, spied on and vilified, we will not be safe, we will not be free.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his letter from a Birmingham jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

I hope the NYPD’s blatant assault on the civil rights of our Muslim sisters and brothers propels us Sikhs as well as all people of conscience to action. Perhaps “We are not Muslims” will become “We are all Muslims,” as we come together to eradicate Islamophobic bigotry in all its forms.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

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

This should come to no surprise that Peter King will defend the NYPD monitoring. He must be really proud.

Peter King Defends NYPD Monitoring, Plans More Hearings on Islam

by George Zornick

Appearing on WCBS in New York this morning, Representative Peter King offered a strong defense of NYPD’s spying on mosques and Muslim businesses and student groups in several states. Criticism of the recently revealed program has intensified in recent days, but King said he was proud of the police department.

“[Police Commissioner] Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they are doing,” he said. “This is good police work. If you are going after radical Muslims you don’t go to Ben’s Kosher Deli.”

This is perhaps not surprising coming from the man who held highly controversial Capitol Hill hearings into Muslim Americans last year, which many people saw as essentially profiling by public relations; his colleague, Representative Keith Ellison invoked the specter of Joe McCarthy in criticizing King’s efforts and said they served to “vilify” Muslims.

But, alas, King announced last week that he would hold more hearings into domestic radicalization among Muslim Americans in the coming year. “The series of radicalization hearings I convened last March has been very productive,” King said in a statement. “I will definitely continue the hearings in 2012.”

This is a good time to flag a recent study by Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina and member of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. His comprehensive examination of crime statistics found that terrorism-related incidents by Muslim Americans has declined markedly, and that Muslim-Americans represent “a minuscule threat to public safety.” He wrote:

The limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim American terrorism would escalate. The spike in terrorism cases in 2009 renewed these concerns, as have repeated warnings from U.S. government officials about a possible surge in homegrown Islamic terrorism. The predicted surge has not materialized.

Repeated alerts by government officials maybe issued as a precaution, even when the underlying threat is uncertain. Officials may be concerned about how they would look if an attack did take place and subsequent investigations showed that officials had failed to warn the public. But a byproduct of these alerts is a sense of heightened tension that is out of proportion to the actual number of terrorist attacks in the United States since 9/11.

If King calls Kurzman to testify at his hearings I’ll eat my hat, but it’s possible Democrats on the committee could arrange for his appearance. He would provide a substantive counterweight to King’s typically anecdote-driven hysteria. Last week the FBI foiled a plot in which a Moroccan man wanted to bomb the US Capitol—you can bet King will give that episode a prominent role at his hearings.

Sahar Aziz: The Contradictions of Obama’s Outreach to American Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2011 by loonwatch

The Contradictions of Obama’s Outreach to American Muslims

On the same day that Rep. Peter King held the fourth “homegrown terrorism” hearing focused exclusively on Muslims, the White House released its Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States. Despite the White House’s seemingly benign approach to counterterrorism, its implementation produces adverse effects similar to Mr. King’s confrontational tactics.

The White House Strategy proclaims, “Law enforcement and government officials for decades have understood the critical importance of building relationships, based on trust, with the communities they serve. Partnerships are vital to address a range of challenges and must have as their foundation a genuine commitment on the part of law enforcement and government to address community needs and concerns, including protecting rights and public safety.”

To someone unfamiliar with the history of community outreach to American Muslims, the strategy sounds ideal. However, the Obama Administration has sabotaged its own high-minded public position by adopting the Bush Administration’s counterterrorism model that punishes the broad Muslim community rather than targeting genuine threats. Thus, the Administration’s actual practices conform all-too-closely to Peter King’s vision of terrorism being synonymous with Islam.

While preventing terrorism before it happens is a legitimate strategy, the way in which it is currently implemented comes at a high price to a vulnerable minority — Muslims in America.

Expansive surveillance laws coupled with a relaxation of terrorism investigative standards have placed mosques under intrusive surveillance. Similarly, thousands of informants have been hired, for hefty payments, to induce inept and often mentally ill young Muslim men to join fake terrorist plots. Watch lists are bulging with Muslim names while those incorrectly listed lack due process rights to seek removal of their names. Scores of Muslims with no ties to terrorism are charged for making false statements to federal agents in retaliation for refusing to serve as informants. And attempts to locate “lone wolf terrorists” have resulted in the misguided conflation of Muslim orthodox practices with terrorism.

These assaults on Muslims’ civil liberties have strained relations between Muslim communities and law enforcement agencies.

Community outreach meetings, in theory, are supposed to provide the communities with an opportunity to work with government to keep counterterrorism efforts from violating civil rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately, officials routinely dismiss community grievances, reciting self-congratulatory boilerplate that the American government respects constitutional rights as it fights terrorism. Indeed, the government’s cavalier disregard of community concerns is so pervasive that many leaders have concluded that meetings with federal officials are merely pro forma, check-the-box events providing political cover to a government they believe is systematically and unlawfully profiling Muslims. Others have chosen to boycott the meetings altogether.

The government seems oblivious to the harm these counter-terrorism policies are doing to the potential for trust in Muslim communities. Making matters worse, the immense political pressure on the Justice Department to produce terrorism indictments, and congressional accusations that Obama is soft on terrorists, places the Muslim communities in an intractable dilemma: How can you be partners with agencies who misdirect adversarial behavior from actual terrorists to Muslim communities en masse?

If a young Muslim terrorist suspect manipulated into a phony plot has mental health problems and needs rehabilitative health services, for example, investigators and prosecutors nonetheless pursue the adversarial route — to prosecute and incarcerate. The combined effects of these entrapment efforts and over-charging obviously disturbed young Muslim men threatens to devastate Muslim communities in the same way that the mass incarceration of African American men has transformed the communities from which they have been removed.

Such concerns are validated by documents obtained through a freedom of information request by the American Civil Liberties Union, proving the FBI used community outreach meetings forcollecting intelligence on Muslim AmericansAccording to the ACLU, the FBI did not inform Muslims at outreach events, such as community meetings, religious dinners and job fairs, that conversations and names of those in attendance would be recorded in government files. A 2008 document shows that an FBI agent “collected and documented individuals’ contact information and First Amendment-protected opinions and associations, and conducted Internet searches to obtain further information about the individuals in attendance.” This may explain why individuals, including imams, who were active participants in government outreach programs have found themselves indicted or deported, sending a chill through Muslim communities.

If the government is serious about partnering with Muslim communities, it must stop behaving like an adversary. For starters, community outreach programs should not be exploited to spy on Muslims, recruit undercover informants, and make false promises.

Until the Administration translates its lofty rhetoric into tangible policy reforms, there will not be much difference between Mr. King’s and President Obama’s approaches to counterterrorism.

Sahar Aziz is an associate professor of law at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. She is the author of Caught in a Preventive Dragnet: Selective Counterterrorism Against Muslims, Arabs, and South Asiansforthcoming in the Gonzaga Law Review.

“I am American.” Then and Now. Same S***, Different Group.

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Then (1941):

A Japanese-American erects a sign to show his allegiance. (h/t TheSunDanceKid)

And now (2011):

American Muslims launch an ad campaign to show their allegiance. 

Same sh**, different group.

Peter King’s 4th anti-Muslim Hearing Focuses on “Threats” to US Military Communities

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

Rep. Peter King, an avowed supporter of the Irish terrorist organization, the IRA during the 80′s and 90′s held his fourth hearing targeting American Muslims along with Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has had thirteen such hearings. King is known for his animus toward Muslims, in the recent past he has said that , “there are too many mosques in the US,” that “80-85% of mosques are controlled by extremists,” and that “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us.”

These hearings are not only divisive in that they single out a particular group, they have been lambasted for not covering the spectrum of threats faced by this country (especially by the Right-wing), while at the same time inflating and exaggerating “homegrown terrorism” and “radicalization” from Muslims. The utilitarian argument has been employed to highlight that not only are these hearings  uninterested in a real problem or a real solution, they are wasting valuable time and tax-payer money. Recently, we published a piece highlighting the findings of Prof. Risa A. Brooks’s study, empirically and definitively proving that “homegrown terrorism is not a serious threat;” a conclusion echoed by others such as Charles Kurzman and Duke University.

We covered the past three hearings which were nothing more than GOP propaganda littered with non-specialists, self-interested Neo-cons, non-sensical neologisms such as prislam and Islamophobic banter. On the flip side there were also those courageous, articulate and well informed individuals who eloquently exposed the vapid logic inherent in the “McCarthy-esque” hearings.

So continued the charade this morning; Washington D.C. political theater at its finest or rather ugliest. The populist fear-mongering focused its eye on the “Muslim American threat” within, and to, our military.

We heard about Nidal Hasan and other attacks, but we didn’t hear about the main reason that these lone-wolfs are created: our foreign policy of bombing, invading and occupying Muslim majority nations. The Congress’ time would be better spent if they debated the ramifications of foreign policy rather than broadly generalizing a whole category of people as a possible “fifth column.”

One quite revealing episode was when Rep. Lungren asked the assistant secretary of Defense for the Department of Homeland Defense, “Is having ‘soldier of Allah’ on your card a behavioral indicator that would alert military leaders that there is a threat from a soldier?”

I wonder if Rep. Lungren would likewise ask if having “soldier of Jesus, or soldier of Yahweh, or soldier of Ram” on one’s card is a behavioral indicator worthy to raise red alerts? Certainly the unstable nature of Nidal Hasan, his rambling presentations were more of an indicator than “soldier of Allah?” This however gives one insight into the double standards and maligning of Islam/Muslims inherent in the thought process of individuals such as Rep. Lungren.

In what seemed the most common sense portion of the hearings, Rep. Laura Richardson (definitely one of the anti-loons of the year), asked “Is there a threat to military communities limited to Islamic extremists, yes or no?”

All three of those giving testimony answered “no” to the question. Lt. Col Sawyer answered that they have also seen a “proliferation of other movements outside the Islamic faith,” and then he mentioned how members have been targeted by “Christian movements and Identity movements.”

Rep. Richardson followed by saying that it has been mentioned that skinheads and White extremists were a threat in the 90′s, and asked if the panelists would consider them to no longer be a threat? All answered “no.”

She then went on to state that the reason she is asking those questions is because the topic today is “Homegrown terrorism: the threat to military communities inside the United States, it doesn’t say Islamic anywhere in here.” A crucial point considering that the actual hearing wasn’t as broad as the language would imply, and instead was solely focused on the “radical Islamic homegrown threat.”

For some much needed perspective on today’s hearings watch this “elbow from the sky” from Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks:
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Muslim Reality Show, All-American Muslim, To Premiere On TLC

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by loonwatch

All-American Muslim to Premiere on TLC

Muslim Reality Show, All-American Muslim, To Premiere On TLC 

What’s life like as a Muslim-American?

A new eight-part series on TLC that premieres November 13 will try to answer that question by following the lives of five very different Muslim-American families. The show, “All-American Muslim”, was filmed in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit that’s known for it’s large Arab-American population. It promises to go “inside the rarely seen world of American Muslims to uncover a unique community struggling to balance faith and nationality in a post 9/11 world,” according to a press release.

Producers picked a diverse crowd to profile, from sisters who are polar opposites (one wears a headscarf and prays daily, the other has tattoos –generally frowned upon in Islam – and is married an Irish Catholic) to a high school football coach to newlyweds, in order to show people who “share the same religion, but lead very distinct lives that often times challenge the Muslim stereotype.” The series will also address issues such as the post-9/11 life for Muslims and gender roles in Islam.

The show, which is rare for its focus on Muslims, has generated much buzz in the Muslim-American community as well as non-Muslims. Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he is looking forward to watching the series.

“It’ll give us a taste of the lives of Muslim-Americans in both their aspirations and concerns. I think the show will be good and humanizing for the Muslim community of Dearborn,” said Walid, who is friends with one of the cast members. Walid cautioned that, in terms of ethnic background, Muslims are “much more diverse than what Dearborn may show. Dearborn is an anomaly in the American Muslim landscape for its large Arab-American population and concentrated Muslim population.”

The first episode of “All-American Muslim” airs at 10 p.m. Eastern time on TLC.

Here is a run-down of the show’s characters, courtesy of TLC.

Suehaila and Shadia: Suehaila wears a traditional headscarf and follows daily prayer rituals – while Shadia, her outspoken sister, is decorated with piercings and tattoos and recently married Jeff, an Irish Catholic who is converting to Islam.

Nader and Nawal: Newlyweds expecting their first baby, Nader and Nawal are working to strike the right balance between their traditional Muslim roots and American culture.

Fouad: As head coach of the Fordson High School football team, Fouad has pioneered a shift in his team’s summer practice schedule by flipping to night workouts from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. since a majority of his team are Muslim and are fasting for Ramadan.

Mike and Angela: Mike, a deputy chief sheriff, and his wife Angela, a consultant to a major auto manufacturer, are juggling their busy careers with raising their four children in a modern Muslim family.

Nina: A strong, independent Muslim businesswoman, Nina’s family runs the premier wedding and banquet hall in Dearborn — but against their advice, she is trying to venture off on her own to open a nightclub.

Samira and Ali: Samira and her husband of seven years, Ali, struggle with fertility issues and are pursuing numerous options including conventional fertility techniques, dietary alternatives and Muslim supplication prayers. After years of unsuccessful attempts, Samira considers putting on the Hijab in order to be closer to God and hopefully be blessed with a child.

Check out a slideshow of some of the cast members below.

CLARIFICATION:An earlier version of this story stated that tattoos are illegal in Islam. This has been clarified to reflect that most Islamic scholars consider tattoos illegal and that the legality is debated among a minority of scholars.

The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech

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

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening.  The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).

What is the “material support” he allegedly gave?  He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about “jihad” from LeT’s leader, and — according to the FBI’s Affidavit – “a number of terrorist logos.”  That, in turn, led the FBI agent who signed the affidavit to assert that ”based on [his] training and experience, it is evident that the video . . . is designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT and to recruit jihadists to LeT.”  The FBI also claims Ahmad spoke with the son of an LeT leader about the contents of the video and had attended an LeT camp when he was a teenager in Pakistan.  For the act of uploading that single YouTube video (and for denying that he did so when asked by the FBI agents who came to his home to interrogate him), he faces 23 years in prison.

Let’s be very clear about the key point: the Constitution — specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment — prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders.  One can dislike this legal fact.  One can wish it were different.  But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision inBrandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.

In doing so, the Brandenberg Court struck down as unconstitutional an Ohio statute (under which the KKK leader was prosecuted) that made it a crime to “advocate . . . the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.”  Such advocacy — please read the part in bold — cannot be a crime because it is protected by the First Amendment.  The crux of the Court’s holding: ”the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force“ (emphasis added; for more on the First Amendment law protecting this right to advocate violence, see my discussion here).

To put this less abstractly, and as I’ve noted before, a person has — and should and must have — the absolute free speech right to advocate ideas such as this:

For decades, the U.S. Government has been engaging in violence and otherwise interfering in the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women and children have died as a result. There is no end in sight to this American assault on the Muslim world and those of its client states. Therefore, it is not only the right, but the duty, of Muslims to engage in violence against Americans as a means of self-defense and to deter further violence against Muslims. That is the only available means for fighting back against the world’s greatest military superpower. The only alternative is continuing passive submission to this onslaught of violence aimed at Muslims.

One may find that idea objectionable or even repellent, but does anyone believe that someone should be prosecuted for writing that paragraph?  Anyone who would favor prosecution for that doesn’t understand or believe in the Constitution, as those ideas are pure political speech protected by the First Amendment, every bit as much as: the climate crisis now justifies violent attacks on polluting corporations; or capitalism is so destructive that the use of force in service of a Communist Revolution is compelled; or “if our President, our Congress, our Supreme Court, continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race, it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken” (Brandenberg); or such is the tyranny of the Crown that taking up arms against it is not merely a right but the duty of all American patriots (The American Revolution).  The Jerusalem Post justfired one of its columnists, a Jewish leftist who wrote that Palestinian violence against Israel is ”justified” because they have the “right to resist” the occupation; is he guilty of a crime of materially supporting Terrorism?  Should Ward Churchill, widely accused of having justified the 9/11 attack (or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who did the same) have been indicted?

Judging from the description of Ahmad’s video in the FBI Affidavit (Ahmad’s YouTube account has been removed), the video in question does not go nearly as far as the clearly protected views referenced in the prior paragraph, as it does not explicitly advocate violence at all; indeed, it appears not to advocate that anyone do anything.  Rather, the FBI believes it is evocative of such advocacy (“designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT”), which makes this prosecution even more troubling.  Apparently, if you string together video and photographs (or words) in a certain way as to make the DOJ think that you’re implicitly trying to “develop support” for a Terrorist group — based on the political ideas you’re expressing — you risk decades of imprisonment.  Is it possible to render the ostensible right of “free speech” more illusory than this?

This case is not an aberration; as indicated, prosecuting Muslims for pure political speech is an increasing weapon of the DOJ.  In July, former Obama OLC official Marty Lederman analyzed the indictment of a 22-year-old former Penn State student for — in the FBI’s words – “repeatedly using the Internet to promote violent jihad against Americans” by posting comments on a “jihadist” Internet forum including “a comment online that praised the [October, 2010] shootings” at the Pentagon and Marine Corps Museum and ”a number of postings encouraging attacks within the United States.”  He also posted links to a bomb-making manual.

Regarding the part of the indictment based on “encouraging violent attacks,” Lederman — who, remember, was an Obama DOJ lawyer until very recently — wrote: it “does not at first glance appear to be different from the sort of advocacy of unlawful conduct that is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection under the Brandenburg line of cases.”  As for linking to bomb-making materials, Lederman wrote: ”the First Amendment generally protects the publication of publicly available information, even where there is a chance or a likelihood that one or more readers may put such information to dangerous, unlawful use.”  Lederman’s discussion of the law and its applicability to that prosecution contains some caveats (and also raises some other barriers to these kinds of prosecutions), but he is clear that the aspect of the indictment based on the alleged advocacy and encouragement of violence in the name of jihad “would appear to be very vulnerable to a First Amendment challenge.”  That’s government-lawyer-ese for: this prosecution is attempting to criminalize free political speech.

Perhaps the most extreme example of this trend is the fact that a Pakistani man in New York was prosecuted and then sentenced to almost six years in prison for doing nothing more than including a Hezbollah news channel in the package of cable channels he offered for sale to consumers in Brooklyn.  On some perverse level, though, all of these individuals are lucky that they are being merely prosecuted rather than targeted with due-process-free assassination.  As I documented last month, that is what is being done to U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki due — overwhelmingly if not exclusively — to the U.S. Government’s fear of his purely political views.

If the First Amendment was designed to do anything, it was designed to prevent the government from imprisoning people — or killing them — because of the political ideas they promote.  Yet that is clearly what the Obama administration is doing with increasing frequency and aggression.

There is one last point that bears emphasis here.  Numerous prominent politicians from both political parties — Michael Mukasey, Howard Dean, Wes Clark, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Fran Townsend, Rudy Giuliani, and many others — have not only been enthusiasticaly promoting andadvocating on behalf of a designated terrorist organization (MEK of Iran), but they have been receiving substantial amounts of cash from that Terrorist group as they do so.  There is only one list of “designated Terrorist organizations” under the law, and MEK is every bit as much on that list as LeT or Al Qaeda are.  Yet you will never, ever see those individuals being indicted by the Obama DOJ for their far more extensive — and paid – involvement with MEK than, for instance, Ahmad has with LeT.  That’s because: (1) the criminal law does not apply to politically powerful elites, only to ordinary citizens and residents (indeed, many of those MEK-shilling politicians cheer on broad and harsh application of the “material support” statute when applied to others), and (2) MEK is now devoted to fighting against a government disliked by the U.S. (Iran), so they’ve become (like Saddam Hussein when fighting Iran and bin Laden when fighting the Soviet Union) the Good Terrorists whom the U.S. likes and supports.

Nonetheless, MEK remains on the list of the designated Terrorist groups, and lending them material support — which certainly includes paid shilling for them — is every bit as criminal (at least) as the behavior in the above-discussed indictments.  As usual, though, “Terrorism” means nothing other than what the U.S. Government wants it to mean at any given moment.  The evisceration of the rule of law evidenced by this disparate treatment is as odious as the First Amendment assault itself.

(source: Salon)

Muslim-Americans Banished by Government, Banned from Air Travel and Told They Can Swim Back

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Much has been said (not enough though) about how the imperial government in the White House can assassinate U.S. citizens without trial (see Glenn Greenwald’s discussion here).  For now, the main targets of this presidential assassination program are Muslim-Americans living abroad.

But there is another far more common way that the U.S. government infringes on the rights of Muslim-Americans who travel abroad: the modern-day equivalent of banishment.  The way it works is this: you’re a Muslim-American who decides one day to travel abroad to (let’s say) visit family.  After a few weeks, you decide it’s time to head back home, the United States of America.  But as you try to board the plane at the airport, you’re informed that your flight has been canceled and that you need to talk to the American embassy.  After a few days of being left in mystery, you might be told that you were put on a no-fly list.  But you’ll never be given any explanation for why you were put on this list or how to get off of it.

It’s difficult to say how many Muslim-Americans have faced this fate.  The ACLU says it has been contacted “by a dozen people” in a similar situation with “half of them” stranded abroad:

The American Civil Liberties Union says it has been contacted by a dozen people who say they have been improperly placed on the no-fly list since December, half of them Americans abroad.

“For many of these Americans, placement on the no-fly list effectively amounts to banishment from their country,” said Ben Wizner, a senior staff attorney with the A.C.L.U. He called such treatment “both unfair and unconstitutional.”

The actual numbers are almost certainly much higher:

Exactly how many people are on the government’s lists is unclear. Some of the most recent estimates, from late 2009, state that about 400,000 individuals are on the “watchlist,” which requires a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is known or suspected to be engaged in terrorist activities. A much smaller number — about 14,000 — is on the “selectee list,” meaning they will likely have to undergo rigorous screening to travel. And officials estimated that 3,400 individuals, including roughly 170 U.S. residents, are on the no-fly list.

We won’t ever actually know how many (unless Wikileaks informs us) since the Most Transparent Administration Ever™ won’t ever tell us, much like how we won’t ever know how many civilians our drones kill.

All of this prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim-American civil rights group, to issue a “travel advisory” to Muslim-Americans warning of the threat of “forced exile.”  So, if you Fly While Muslim (FWM) and travel abroad, you risk assassination and forced exile.

Can you imagine how absolutely, positively angry we’d be if Iran gave these two options to Jewish-Iranians traveling abroad?

*  *  *  *  *

The latest case of forced exile seems especially egregious since it may involve the government targeting a Muslim father’s children.  Here’s a report from MSNBC:

Muslims often put on no-fly list without explanation

Landing on the U.S. government’s watchlist can be a legal, bureaucratic nightmare

McLEAN, Va. — The calls have reached a point of repetitive regularity for civil rights lawyer Gadeir Abbas: A young Muslim American, somewhere in the world, is barred from boarding an airplane.

The exact reasons are never fully articulated, but the reality is clear. The traveler has been placed on the government’s terror watchlist — or the more serious no-fly list — and clearing one’s name becomes a legal and bureaucratic nightmare.

On Monday Abbas sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting assistance for his two most recent clients. One is a resident of Portland, Ore. who is trying to fly to Italy to live with his mother. The other, a teenager and U.S. citizen living in Jordan, has been unable to travel to Connecticut to lead prayers at a mosque.

“All American citizens have the unqualified right to reside in the United States,” Abbas wrote Monday in a letter to secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking a change in status for the client in Jordan.

Abbas, a lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tries to piece together the reason why a client has been placed on the list. Perhaps a person has a similar name to a known terrorist. Maybe their travels to Yemen or some other Middle East hot spot have garnered suspicion. Maybe they told the FBI to take a hike when they requested an interview.

Ultimately, though, the reasons are almost irrelevant. From Abbas’ perspective, the placement on the no-fly list amounts to a denial of a traveler’s basic rights: U.S. citizens can’t return home from overseas vacations, children are separated from parents, and those under suspicion are denied the basic due process rights that would allow them to clear their name…

“The amount of people who experience tragic, life-altering travel delays is significant,” said Abbas, who estimates he gets a call at least once a month from a Muslim American in dire straits because their travel has been restricted.

Government officials, of course, see it differently. They say they have a Traveler Redress Inquiry Program that lets people wrongly placed on the no-fly list, or the much broader terrorist watchlist, fix their circumstances.

More broadly, the government has argued in court that placing somebody on the no-fly list does not deprive them of any constitutional rights. Just because a person can’t fly doesn’t mean they can’t travel, the government lawyers argue. They can always take a boat, for example.

Or perhaps they can swim across.  Or maybe they can build a bridge across the ocean out of Lego pieces.  Or why not drill an underground hole from China?

They can always take a boat!?  Are you effing kidding me!?

The article goes on:

“Neither Plaintiff nor any other American citizen has either a right to international travel or a right to travel by airplane,” government lawyers wrote…

Exactly how many people are on the government’s lists is unclear. Some of the most recent estimates, from late 2009, state that about 400,000 individuals are on the “watchlist,” which requires a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is known or suspected to be engaged in terrorist activities. A much smaller number — about 14,000 — is on the “selectee list,” meaning they will likely have to undergo rigorous screening to travel. And officials estimated that 3,400 individuals, including roughly 170 U.S. residents, are on the no-fly list.

Calls and emails to the Department of Homeland Security and State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs were not returned.

Of course not.  State Secrets and all.

And near the end of the article:

In another case, an 18 year-old U.S. citizen living in Jordan with his parents was bounced from an EgyptAir flight to New York. Amr Abulrub had planned to lead Ramadan prayers at a Connecticut mosque.

After a few days of confusion, Abulrub learned from airline officials that the U.S. government had instructed EgyptAir to cancel his ticket. U.S. embassy officials in Amman have subsequently told Abulrub he can travel under certain restrictions, including a requirement that his flight to the U.S. be booked on an American airline. But Abulrub is leery of traveling at all for fear that he won’t be allowed to go back to Jordan.

Abulrub’s father, Jalal Abulrub, suspects his son has come to the attention of U.S. authorities because of his own writings. Jalal is a Salafist scholar who has sometimes written provocative articles and antagonized Christian evangelists he believed were disrespectful to Muslims. While Jalal says his family is Salafist — generally considered a fundamentalist sect of Islam — he is quick to point out that he has a long history of writing in opposition to the ideology espoused by Osama bin laden and al-Qaida.

“I am not going to let this go,” Jalal said, referring to his son’s inability to travel. “We don’t allow anyone to oppress us.”

Amr Abulrub is the latest victim of the modern day banishment system enacted by the United States.  And he might have been placed on that list due to the writings of his father, Jalal Abulrub, a conservative Muslim preacher.  Jalal Abulrub is known for debating Evangelical Christians, and even though some of his articles might seem abrasive, they are no more so than those Christians he debates with.  More specifically, Jalal Abulrub has consistently denounced Al-Qaeda, terrorism, and the targeting and killing of civilians (unlike the majority of American Christians who accept the idea).

Is the government targeting a man’s children?  I don’t know.  Jalal Abulrub certainly thinks so, and it certainly deserves investigation.  But we’ll never know, since everything is a state secret.

*  *  *  *  *

Here is the bottom line, enunciated by CAIR:

“If the F.B.I. wishes to question American citizens, they should be allowed to return to the United States, where they will be able to maintain their constitutional rights free of threats or intimidation,” Mr. Awad wrote.

If the government wants to arrest and try them in court, that’s fine too.  But leaving them in limbo makes no sense, and runs completely contrary to everything this country was founded upon.  And that’s the rub of this Abulrub situation: the government is telling these same Muslim-Americans that they can travel back to the U.S. on a boat.  If they really were terrorists or involved in anything terrorism-related, then why would the government still allow them back if they take a different mode of transportation?  This proves that the government really has nothing on them, and that this entire thing is just one big farce.

*  *  *  *  *

Check out this disgusting anti-Muslim website (BareNakedIslam) which boasts the title:

“MUSLIM ‘NO FLY’ list has unintended (but welcome) consequences — ‘Forced Exile’

Hatred makes people take great delight in the sickest of things.

Why Dick Durbin is Right, and Peter King is Wrong

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Much has been said of the so-called “Muslim Radicalization” Congressional Hearings headed by Rep. Peter King: they were rightfully condemned as “un-American”, “discriminatory”, and “Islamophobic”.  These hearings unjustly singled out the Muslim-American community, an already embattled minority, and amounted to a modern-day witch hunt. King’s hearings will be included in the dark chapter of U.S. history alongside the McCarthy hearings and the internment of Japanese-Americans.

One courageous senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois, decided to take a heroic stand against these hearings, and responded by announcing that he would hold his own committee hearings on the civil rights of Muslim-Americans.  Many have understood this as a “check” or “counter-balance” to King’s hearings, and–considering the timing–it is not difficult to see the connection.  It seems fair to say that this was Sen. Durbin’s attempt to reach out to the Muslim-American community, as if to say: “I’m there for you.”

Naturally, the right-wing went absolutely bonkers when they heard of Durbin’s hearings.  Thegenocidal Pamela Geller, a sweetheart of conservatives, called Durbin a “useful idiot”, and more absurdly, a “dhimmi”.  (To Geller, any non-Muslim who doesn’t revile Islam is by definition a dhimmi.)  But more importantly, Rep. Peter King himself responded to Dick Durbin’s hearings.

King must have thought himself very witty for coming up with the following retort:

Why not have a hearing on everyone’s civil rights? Since they told me I should have my hearings on not just Muslim radicalization but radicalization in all communities, I would say why doesn’t the Senate have a hearing on everyone’s civil rights?

The New York Observer wrote a title entitled “King Turns the Tables on Durbin’s Muslim Hearings”.  But did he?  Even though King was no doubt beside himself for his cunning comeback, the reality is that his response was nothing but 100% Weak Sauce.  Here’s why:

(1) Yes, we–and many others–argued that if radicalization hearings were deemed to be necessary, then they ought to have been held about all communities, not just Muslims.  The reason we were opposed to making them “Muslim-only” was because this would be singling out, targeting, and demonizing one community.  Tell me, Mr. King, which community is singled out, targeted, or demonized by Durbin’s hearings about Muslim civil rights? Durbin’s hearings, unlike King’s anti-Muslim hearings, do not single out, target, or demonize any one community.  Therefore, King’s attempt at striking an equivalence fails miserably.

(2) We’d have absolutely no problem with holding hearings about the civil rights of all communities.  We’re liberals, and we love protecting civil rights.  We wouldn’t get our panties in a bunch like King did over his hearings not being able to single out one community in specific. But…

(3) …Since King already held the congressional hearings about Muslim radicalization–and not about radicalization in all communities–then it makes all the sense in the world to hold the civil rights hearings about Muslims.  This is, after all, a check and counter-balance to the anti-Muslim madness.  How about we hold congressional hearings on civil rights for all communities once King holds his hearings on radicalization of all communities–including the Irish-American community he comes from?

(4) King has tried turning the question around on us, but we can equally turn this around on him: if King had no problem holding Muslim-only hearings about radicalization, then he should have no problem holding Muslim-only hearings on civil rights, right?

King then tried to downplay the issue of Muslim civil rights, citing the FBI database:

King noted that the F.B.I.’s numbers show anti-Semitic attacks outnumbered instances of hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. last year by about nine to one, and that attacks on Christians and Muslims were about equal. (Of course, Christians far outnumber Muslims in the U.S., and there are about three times as many Jews as Muslims.)

And yet, during his own hearings Rep. King ignored the FBI’s numbers about terrorism.  According tothe official FBI database, only 6% of terrorist acts on U.S. soil from 1980-2005 were from Islamic extremists.  This was less than from Jewish extremists.  King is able to see that more anti-Semitic hate crimes occur than anti-Muslim hate crimes, but then becomes blind when it comes to the fact that more acts of Jewish terrorism have occurred than Islamic.  Latinos accounted for over 40% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil: should we hold hearings against the Latino population?  (We shouldn’t give Republicans any ideas, since they would love to target Latinos.  Nothing scarier to a Republican than a gay Latino Muslim.)

Peter King’s attempt to downplay the assault on Muslim civil rights has echoed throughout the right wing blogosphere.  Said King:

I’m not trying to excuse it, I’m just saying in the overall context it’s sometimes more dangerous to be Jewish than Muslim.

These right wing nuts act as if civil rights begins and ends with hate crimes.  During the 1960′s, hate crimes were just one indicator of discrimination.  It is not the end-all be-all.  For example, job discrimination was a major issue for blacks (and continues to be so)…It is also a problem that Muslim-Americans face today: do you know how hard it is to get a job with the name Muhammad Ahmad Abdul Basit?  No wonder Pakistani-Americans often pose as Indians to get hired.

And is it Muslim-Americans or Jewish-Americans who face severe opposition to building houses of worship–not just a few blocks from Ground Zero but anywhere in the United States?  But amazingly, Peter King doesn’t hold this to be a form of prejudice (let me guess, it’s about parking!):

press release from Durbin’s office cited “restrictions on mosque construction,” as an example of rising anti-Muslim sentiment, King denied that opposition to new mosques—including his fierce opposition to the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in downtown Manhattan—should be considered an example of prejudice.

Of course, none of this “counts”.  All acts of terrorism by people of other religions “don’t count” and all acts of prejudice against Muslims “don’t count”.  Meanwhile, even a Muslim-American quietly farting in the corner of his room certainly counts (it is after all a biological weapon–and the fact that he did it silently is surely a form of “stealth jihad”).  This is similar to the arguments about the Quran and the Bible: everything violent in the Quran “counts” and everything violent in the Bible “doesn’t count”.

Aside from discrimination in the workplace and with regard to houses of worship, there are even more sinister breeches of Muslim civil rights during the War on of Terror.  The Patriot Act and other un-American legislation have eroded the civil rights of all Americans, but Muslims have been at the forefront.  Here are some civil rights that Muslim-Americans have lost recently: the right not to be the victim of warrantless wiretapping, the right not to be entrapped by law enforcement, the right not to be subject to illegal surveillance,  the right to habeas corpus, the right to be protected from illegal search and seizure, the right to an attorney, the right to face one’s accuser, the right not to be tortured, and the right not to be assassinated at the order of the president.

Most Americans could care less about these affronts to civil liberties so long as it is those Dark-Skinned Foreign-Looking Moozlems with Weird Sounding Names who bear the brunt of these un-American laws.  But that’s why a congressional hearing aimed at protecting the rights of Muslim civil rights would benefit all Americans: once this erosion of civil rights is given precedent (even if it be just against Muslims), it will be institutionalized and could be used against every single one of us.

Rep. Keith Ellison’s Historic Testimony during House Hearings

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Just as our children today read in their history books about the internment of Japanese-Americans and about the McCarthy Hearings, a time will come (not too far in the future hopefully) when our children’s children will read about how there was a generation of Americans who stood by idly as an elected member of public office–a United States congressman no less–held anti-Muslim hearings.

That future generation will marvel at our complacency.  But, we will not just be accused of apathy, but of wholesale bigotry.  And many of us will be disgraced and shamed–just like those police officers captured in 1960′s footage hosing down black Americans will forever live in infamy for what they did.  Mostly those who will be remembered will be the villains–Peter King, Glenn Beck, maybe Barack Obama (the president who did nothing to stop it–the guy who made it seem like it’s a smear to be called a Muslim)…

But there will be one good guy we’ll read about, and one testimony that we’ll remember.  It will be one of those defining moments in history. His testimony is hardly eloquent…but Ellison has captured the moment beautifully. He has shed a tear for us all, for America’s lost soul. Here it is:

Japanese-Americans Condemn Anti-Muslim House Hearings as “Sinister”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on March 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Although most Americans have remained pathetically silent about the un-American witch hunt against Muslims, Japanese-Americans stand in solidarity with Muslims.  The Washington Postreports:

Japanese Americans: House hearings on radical Islam ‘sinister’

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

During the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Basim Elkarra was passing by an Islamic school in Sacramento when he did a double-take: The windows were covered with thousands of origami cranes – peace symbols that had been created and donated by Japanese Americans.

Amid the anger and suspicions being aimed at Muslims at that time, the show of support “was a powerful symbol that no one will ever forget,” said Elkarra, a Muslim American community leader in California.

It was also the beginning of a bond between the two groups that has intensified as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) prepares to launch a series of controversial hearings Thursday on radical Islam in the United States.

Spurred by memories of the World War II-era roundup and internment of 110,000 of their own people, Japanese Americans – especially those on the West Coast – have been among the most vocal and passionate supporters of embattled Muslims. They’ve rallied public support against hate crimes at mosques, signed on to legal briefs opposing the government’s indefinite detention of Muslims, organized cross-cultural trips to the Manzanar internment camp memorial near the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and held “Bridging Communities” workshops in Islamic schools and on college campuses.

Last week, Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.), who as a child spent several wartime years living behind barbed wire at Camp Amache in southeastern Colorado, denounced King’s hearings as “something similarly sinister.”

“Rep. King’s intent seems clear: To cast suspicion upon all Muslim Americans and to stoke the fires of anti-Muslim prejudice and Islamophobia,” Honda wrote in an op-ed published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

King has defended the hearings by arguing that the Muslim American community has not always been cooperative with the FBI and other law enforcement authorities in countering the growth of radical Islam. And he rejects accusations that he is demonizing Muslims and ignoring threats from other extremists.

In an interview Sunday on CNN, King noted that U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “is not saying he’s staying awake at night because of what’s coming from antiabortion demonstrators or coming from environmental extremists or from neo-Nazis. It’s the radicalization right now in the Muslim community.”

But Honda compared King’s position not only to the wartime roundup of the Japanese, but also to the anti-Communist hearings staged by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stay quiet and not say something,” Honda said in an interview this week. “We have to show people that as Americans, we’re not going to put up with this kind of nonsense.”

Although the youngest who were interned are in their late 60s, Japanese Americans remember what it means to be targeted during wartime because of their nationality.

After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that all ethnic Japanese along the Pacific Coast be sent to one of 10 isolated internment camps in seven states. Of those imprisoned, 62 percent were second- or third-generation Japanese Americans born in the United States. Most lost their property to the government.

In 1988, Congress approved legislation that apologized and distributed $1.6 billion in reparations, blaming the roundup on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

It was the memory of the camps that led the Japanese to reach out to their Muslim counterparts, said Kathy Masaoka, a high school teacher who co-chairs the Los Angeles chapter of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress.

“It dawned on us that this is really something that could escalate among Muslims, the same things our parents faced,” she said. “They were being scapegoated.”

What followed was a candlelight vigil in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo and the “Bridging Communities” program, aimed at educating Muslim and Japanese high school students on diversity. Last year, 40 students participated in five seminars, sharing stories of challenges they face related to race, religion and ethnicity.

“They see clearly that they have similar experiences,” said Affad Shaikh, civil rights manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Even though the target group of the discrimination is different, the purpose of that harassment is the same.”

In Sacramento, CAIR and the Japanese American Citizens League sponsor an annual 350-mile bus trip to the Manzanar internment camp. More than 10,000 Japanese were interned there, an ordeal recounted in “Farewell to Manzanar,” the well-known 1983 memoir by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston.

“When we met with the former internees, they told us how they coped,” said Elkarra, president of CAIR’s Sacramento Valley chapter. “The challenges they faced were a lot more difficult than anything we faced.”

Although the alliance between the two groups is rooted on the West Coast, it has also been on display in Washington, where the Japanese American Citizens League is headquartered. The league has worked with Arab American groups about racial profiling, meeting with the Department of Justice to urge officials not to detain people on the basis of race or religion, said Floyd Mori, the league’s national executive director.

As King’s congressional hearings have drawn near, Japanese American groups have condemned him. Last week, Mori co-authored a commentary with Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, that said the hearings “will do nothing but perpetuate an atmosphere of alienation, suspicion and fear.”

Mori plans to send a staff member to the hearing. Honda, too, will be monitoring it, although he has not asked to testify and has not spoken with King about his concerns.

“We just feel very strongly that it does kind of point back to the time when just because we were of Japanese ancestry, people looked upon us with hate and terror,” Mori said. “This kind of hearing simply flames that kind of fire today.”

Tea Party Nation founder has a problem with Islam

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by loonwatch
Judson Phillips is a complete and utter loon

Notice the assumptions: 1) assuming that Rep. Keith Ellison does not support the U.S. Constitution, 2) that Islam instructs its adherents to kill those who disagree with Islam, and 3) that Islam tells its adherents to kill Jews.

This is irresponsible and dangerous rhetoric that can and will lead to the continuing demonization of Muslims in the United States as well as to violent actions against Muslim Americans. Judson Phillips is not just a loon, but a disgusting human being without an ounce of knowledge about the religion of Islam. The statements he made below are completely contradictory: he says voters shouldn’t not vote for a Muslim politician because of their religion, but at the same time he says that Islam tells Muslims to not be loyal to the United States and to kill people who disagree with them (meaning, don’t vote for the people with the crazy religion!). His bigotry is as apparent as it could possibly be.

Tea Party Nation founder: I have a real problem with Islam (Salon.com)

Judson Phillips, the Tea Party Nation leader who recently called for the defeat of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., because he is Muslim, has put up a new blog post clarifying his views:

Should we vote out Keith Ellison just because he is a Muslim? No.

So that’s that, then? Nope. Phillips goes on to suggest that maybe having a Muslim in Congress isn’t such a good idea after all:

But his beliefs define his character and his character is a central issue. Do we want someone who supports and defends the Constitution or someone who supports the imposition of a theocracy?

Should Muslims be denied the right to run for office because of their religion? No. The Constitution specifies that no religious test can be used to exclude someone from public office. But when someone adheres to an ideology that says kill people who disagree with you, that is something voters should seriously consider when they vote.

Liberals go nuts when they hear this stuff. They think we should simply forget and just be “tolerant.”

I learned everything I needed to know about tolerance on September 11th.

And he also talks to Chris Moody at the Daily Caller:

“A majority of Tea Party members, I suspect, are not fans of Islam,” Phillips said. “I, personally have a real problem with Islam. With Islam, you have a religion that says kill the Jews, kill the infidels. It bothers me when a religion says kill the infidels. It bothers me a lot more when I am the infidel.”

So, to summarize: Phillips does not believe Ellison should be voted out because he is Muslim. But Phillips has a “real problem” with Islam, and he also thinks voters should “seriously consider” whether to vote for an adherent of Islam.

 

My Take: New portrait of Muslim America shows community on edge

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by loonwatch
Frankie Martin

(cross-posted from CNN)

Editor’s Note: Frankie Martin is Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service and is a contributor to the new book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

By Frankie Martin, Special to CNN

As I got off the plane in St. Louis in September 2008, I didn’t realize I was beginning a journey that would change my life.

On that day, I–along with several researchers working with Professor Akbar Ahmed, American University’s Chair of Islamic Studies–began a grueling project aimed at studying America’s Muslim population and its relationship to American identity. Now, nearly two years, 75 cities and 100 mosques later, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, will be published by the Brookings Institution Press this month.

In addition to providing unprecedented insight into America’s Muslim community, it also led me to look at my own country, the United States, in a different way.

I had taken Professor Ahmed’s class on improving relations between Islam and the West as an underclassman shortly after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 and had traveled across the Muslim world with him for the book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, listening to Muslim voices in countries including Jordan, Pakistan, and India.

On that trip, during which Muslims in eight countries cited “American negative perceptions of Islam” as the greatest threat to the Muslim world, I was ready for anything and eager to learn. After all, I had spent the second half of my life living and traveling widely around the world, from Kenya to China, and studying foreign lands in my international relations courses.

America was a different matter. This, I thought, was a country that I knew. Yet although I lived in the Baltimore suburbs until I was a teenager and went to college in Washington, DC, like many Americans I was familiar with only a few states, and had never experienced entire regions like the South.

Assisting a world-renowned anthropologist on a De Tocqueville-esque quest would change this. Like that earlier foreign traveler, Professor Ahmed saw his endeavor as a tribute to a nation that had welcomed him so warmly in crafting a study which would examine both the strengths of America and the parts that could be strengthened.

Within a few hours on our first day—which took us to Somali refugees in a St. Louis housing project—I realized I was experiencing something unique. Though I’m a Christian, I was seeing the country through Muslim eyes, including those of my professor.

But this was only part of the story. In order to see how Muslims were fitting into America—and what it meant to fit in—we would need to talk to Americans from all backgrounds and religions. Assisting us would be data from the roughly two thousand surveys we distributed in the field as well as countless conversations on our travels.

Over the next long months, we saw the ravages of inner city Detroit and the mansions of Palm Beach, Florida; the serene, impoverished Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona and a Silicon Valley “hackers conference” with scientists talking of settlements on the Moon and Mars. We spoke at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, spent an afternoon with Mennonites in Texas, were welcomed by the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City, and visited coal miners in the West Virginia wilderness.

The diversity of people and beliefs was striking and inspiring. And, for the first time, I saw the fall colors in New England, the Grand Canyon, and a Hawaiian sunset.

We found the Muslim community to be hospitable and patriotic, as they often said that America was the best place to be a Muslim because of religious freedom. But the community is on edge, divided and facing a leadership crisis—contributing to the “homegrown terrorist” phenomenon—and reeling from post-9/11 hatred and prejudice.

I was shocked to see the challenges American Muslims are facing, from kids beaten up and called terrorists at school to people incarcerated without charge and subjected to inhuman treatment and mosques being firebombed. A Muslim community that feels accepted as true Americans and is encouraged to enter the mainstream will be the best defense against homegrown terrorism.

Witnessing the challenges facing the Muslim community led me to ask a question I never had before: what does it mean to be American? Although we met Americans who had a different idea of the country (one official at a Church of Christ chapter in Austin named “pluralism” as the greatest threat to America and the Founding Fathers as the source of this threat) for me, the team, and my professor, being American means embracing the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which include pluralism, rule of law, and civil liberties.

Today, feelings against Islam are running high, with a prominent radio host recently expressing his hope that the proposed New York mosque near Ground Zero would be blown up. Every week seems to bring a new controversy, from the high emotions of the mosque debate to last month’s discussion about the current Miss USA, a Lebanese immigrant, who was slammed as a Hezbollah agent because her surname was said to be shared by people linked to the organization.

In this environment, I was inspired during countless hours of research into American history to see how clear the Founding Fathers were on the subject of Islam in America. Thomas Jefferson learned Arabic using his Quran and hosted the first presidential iftaar during Ramadan, John Adams named Prophet Muhammad as one of the world’s “sober inquirers after truth” alongside Socrates and Confucius, and Benjamin Franklin, who cited the Prophet as a model of compassion, wrote of his hope that the head cleric of Istanbul would preach Islam to Americans from a Philadelphia pulpit, so passionate was his belief in religious freedom.

Today, America faces a crisis of identity. One focal point at the core of the debate is Islam, which some Americans see as a monolithic threat seeking the takeover of the country. They are fearful and suspicious of the Muslims in their midst. For many of these citizens, being a good American—and, for some, a good Christian—means opposing and fighting Islam.

My journey has led me to conclude the opposite. Being a good American means welcoming Muslims as the Founding Fathers did and following their guidelines on matters of law and security as laid out in the Constitution. As for Christianity, the attitude of the Founding Fathers was shaped by Christian thinkers like John Locke, who declared that the true Christian’s duty was to “practice charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians.”

Giving us hope for the future was data from our surveys, which showed that over ninety percent of Americans would vote for a Muslim for public office, and the similarly high percentage of people who are open to Muslims living in and being a part of this nation.

Some, however, inserted “if” clauses, indicating they believed Muslims could be American only if they followed narrowly defined rules, such as ceasing to identify as “Muslim” in favor of an exclusive “American” identity. The Founding Fathers set no such qualifications for “Americanness.”

Discovering America over the past few years has made me appreciate the inclusive vision of the Founding Fathers. Having traveled abroad, I know that their ideals also inspire people around the world, especially in Muslim countries. I can now say I am American with an awareness and pride I never had before.

With all of the challenges facing the country, perhaps the most important thing we can do as Americans is to consider who we really are. For me, being American means assuming and implementing the Founding Fathers’ vision of tolerance and religious freedom. The rediscovery of that vision has reaffirmed my belief in the promise of America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frankie Martin.

 

Draw Muhammad Day: Collectively Punishing Muslim Americans

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2010 by loonwatch
Shahed Amanullah

By Shahed Amanullah

In the wake of the self-censorship controversy surrounding South Park‘s portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, artists intent on defending freedom of speech have responded by organizing an event they call Draw Muhammad Day, to take place on May 20. The goal, according to the website hosting the endeavor, is to defend free speech by showing Muslims that artists “don’t back down” when threatened.

But the fact is that millions of Muslim-Americans — many of whom have known about South Parkcaricatures of Muhammad for years — behaved exactly the way free speech advocates wanted them to: by remaining silent or expressing their feelings peacefully. The handful of thugs at a New York-based site called Revolution Muslim — who, by the way, are unwelcome in every New York mosque for their extremist rantings — were the only exceptions. And now these Muslim-Americans are being subject to mass insult as thanks for their respect of South Park‘s free speech rights.

Let’s think for a moment about what is motivating the people behind Draw Muhammad Day. Is it revulsion at religiously motivated death threats? I don’t think so. Just this week, Congressman Bart Stupak wrote that he had received so many death threats (that’s actual phoned-in threats, not just one passive-aggressive blog post) that he was advised to beef up his security. It’s safe to assume that most of those death threats were fueled by religious fervor, but since the religion in question isn’t Islam, it gets a pass.

Maybe it is to show all Muslims that attacks on free speech won’t be tolerated. But the fact is that over the course of 10 years, millions of Muslims respected the free speech of South Park and didn’t even lodge a polite complaint with Comedy Central. What exactly are we being punished for? Our inability to enforce a zero-tolerance policy and prevent a blogger from hitting the Enter key?

If free speech advocates want to target someone, why not target Comedy Central, who exhibited self-censorship in the face of a mere web post? Or better yet, why not target the Revolution Muslim group, who issued the warnings that brought this whole crisis to bear? (I know plenty of Muslims who would join in this effort.)

In other words, target the people responsible for sullying free speech, not those who respected it.

Imagine for a moment if an African-American blogger complained about an unfair stereotype in a cartoon in the same crass manner as the Revolution Islam folks. Would free speech advocates respond by hosting a contest to draw as many vile stereotypes of blacks as they could? I can’t imagine that anyone would even propose such an idea. So why, then, are millions of Muslim-Americans who said nothing about South Park in the past decade being subject to this mass insult? To prove a point? What point would that be?

To be clear, the folks behind Draw Muhammad Day have every right to organize and participate in such an endeavor without threat of violence or coercion from Muslims (as I have written previously in an op-ed published all over the Muslim world).

But the participants shouldn’t claim any sort of moral high ground in doing so. In fact, unless they are willing to push the same limits of free speech with respect to other minorities, they are nothing but hypocrites that apply collective punishment to a vast majority that did them no harm and wished no ill on South Park, and are letting their thinly-veiled hatred show in the process.

Unfortunately, the right of free speech means that sometimes we have to tolerate hearing things we don’t like. Nearly every Muslim-American (with the exception of the few previously mentioned) has proven that they respect that, and I’m confident that they will continue to do so.

But it doesn’t absolve people from being assholes. And with Draw Muhammad Day, the participating artists are proving themselves to be just that.

 

RAND report: Threat of homegrown jihadism exaggerated, Zero U.S. civilians killed since 9/11

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2010 by loonwatch

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Some time ago we published an article entitled “All terrorists are Muslims, except the 94% that aren’t“, in which official FBI records were reviewed and it was determined that–contrary to public perception–only 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were committed by jihadists.

We also linked to a study (via CNN) released by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that concluded that “the terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated.”

Now, the RAND Corporation–the incredibly influential nonprofit global policy think tank (financed by the U.S. government)–has released a report that confirms that the threat of jihadist terrorism in the United States  has been heavily exaggerated.  The report documents and analyzes acts of terrorism in the U.S. from 9/11 to the end of 2009.

The otherwise helpful report is only slightly marred by the misuse of the word “jihad”, something which has unfortunately been used synonymously with “terrorism”.  Jihad means “struggle”; the spiritual struggle against one’s ego, for instance, is considered by Muslims to be a type of jihad.  As for armed struggle, Muslim Americans view it as the Islamic equivalent of the “just war theory”.  Terrorism then is considered antithetical to jihad and in fact, a jihad is to be waged against terrorism.  In any case, the oversight on the part of RAND seems unintentional and therefore benign. We have ourselves retained the usage of the word “jihadist” in our own analysis, making a distinction between “jihad” and “jihadist”–using the latter in a purely pejorative manner.

The RAND report includes a time line of all acts of terrorism on U.S. soil committed by jihadists.  Not a single U.S. civilian has been killed by jihadists since 9/11.  However, fourteen soldiers have been killed, thirteen of those during the Fort Hood Shooting.

Not only were no civilians killed by jihadists in this period, but only three jihadist acts of terrorism were committed. Jihadism thus accounted for only 3.6% of terrorist attacks.  The RAND report states:

[Of the] 83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.  (The RAND database includes Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on an airplane.) The other jihadist plots were interrupted by authorities.

Fifty of the 83 terrorist attacks were committed by environmental extremists and animal rights fanatics, “which account for most of the violence.”  Five civilians were killed by the anthrax letters.

The RAND report includes a number of other interesting findings:

(1) The number of jihadist recruits is “tiny”, and the overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans oppose jihadist ideologies.  Therefore, a mistrust of Muslim Americans is unfounded.  The Muslim American community is not a fifth column, and does not seek to do harm to their fellow Americans.  Rather, jihadists remain “lone gunmen” and commit “one-off attacks”, with no community support.  The report reads:

…The number of [Jihadist] recruits is still tiny. There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced…

The homegrown jihadist threat in America today consists of tiny conspiracies, lone gunmen, and one-off attacks…

There is no evidence that America’s Muslim community is becoming more radical. Overt expressions of Muslim militancy are muted and rare…

That [overseas] jihadist leaders have been reduced to appeals for others to carry out even small-scale attacks in the United States is evidence of an operational decline that America’s homegrown terrorists will not be able to reverse..

That, then, is the threat America faces at home today: tiny conspiracies, lone gunmen, one-off attacks rather than sustained terrorist campaigns (although a lone gunman killing at random could sustain a campaign, as we saw in the case of the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002).

(2) Jihadist websites, not the mosque, were the main source of radicalization. The report reads:

Many of the jihadist recruits in the United States began their journey on the Internet, where they could readily find resonance and reinforcement of their own discontents and people who would legitimate and direct their anger.

This confirms what is already well known amongst Muslim American circles, namely that mosques in the U.S. are a poor place to search for jihadists.  Mosques and the mainstream Islamic organizations that run them are seen by jihadists to be “sell-outs”, “traitors”, “puppets”, “stooges”, “house slaves”, and “Uncle Toms”.  In turn, mosque management in general shuns jihadists, forcing the latter to “go underground”, usually seeking like-minded people on the internet.  Monitoring militant websites is necessary, whereas excessive spying on mosques will be less fruitful and even detrimental.

(3) Many homegrown jihadists are not observant Muslims, but criminally inclined.  They are often attracted to jihadist ideologies due to the sense of adventure and thrill rather than religion or spirituality.  The RAND report declares:

Some of the recruits gained experience on the streets. At least 23 have criminal records—some of them very long records—for charges including aggravated assault, armed robbery, and drug dealing…Some were naïve, some were adventurers, some were misguided…The jobs they held and the criminal records of some suggest that many are high school dropouts (or immigrants in entry-level jobs). But at least 16 are known to have had some university training in subjects including computer sciences, engineering, pharmacology, and medicine, and at least four had graduate training.

(4) A glance at RAND’s list of terrorist acts indicates that a disproportionately large number of jihadists are converts to Islam.  If we combine points (2) and (3) above, we may conclude that many are criminally inclined and convert to Jihadist Islam as a means to fulfill their sense of adventure; they have very little if any interaction with the mainstream Muslim community or local mosques, but instead seek out jihadist websites which radicalize them further.  This voluntary isolation and involuntary exclusion from the main body makes it harder for the Muslim community to control or root the jihadists out, as the jihadists are–and remain–somewhat exogenous to the community and operate independently from it.

(5) Many of the jihadists had intention to harm but were arrested before they could actually act on it; convictions were based on intent, not action.  They were “ready to be terrorists” but had not yetcommitted terrorism.  Notwithstanding heavy-handed policing tactics that may be unconstitutional, this finding indicates that the U.S. authorities are keeping us safe, and as such we ought not live in mortal fear of jihadism. The report says:

A good percentage of those arrested could be described as having the experience and skills that would make them dangerous. But what is most at issue here are intentions, not ability. The 46 cases demonstrate earnest intent. The individuals were ready to be terrorists. Their ideological commitment was manifest…They came into contact with U.S. authorities when they tried to act on their beliefs. They had, in the words of one prosecutor, “jihadi hearts and jihadi minds,” and juries convicted them on their intent…

Most of the plots could be described as more aspirational than operational…[often] fantastic schemes…

(6) The need to prevent terrorism before it occurs promotes overly aggressive prosecution that may lead to people being convicted for “thought crimes”.  The report cautions:

That puts the American justice system perilously close to prosecuting people solely on the basis of what is in their hearts and on their minds. It is slippery terrain and not a domain where one ought to feel comfortable.

Furthermore, the authorities may be guilty of using entrapment, inducing radicalized Muslims to commit offenses which they would otherwise have been unlikely to commit.  Confidential informants can become agent provocateurs.  Some Muslim American leaders feel that efforts should be made to de-radicalize brainwashed youngsters instead of entrapping them.  The report warns:

Often, police intelligence depends on the use of confidential informants, which may be the only way to break into a conspiracy. There are, however, possible abuses in the employment of confidential informants, especially given the very broad interpretation of providing material assistance to a terrorist group and the difficulty of determining intent, particularly since one of the characteristics of many terrorist perpetrators is their malleability. Confidential informants are often determined to prove their value to their police handlers, whether the currency is cash or avoiding trouble relating to other criminal charges. Informants are also likely, of necessity, to display undiluted zeal in order to gain credibility among jihadist zealots. Thus, the informants can easily become agents provocateurs, subtly coaxing radicalized but hesitant individuals into action. Even without providing overt encouragement, the informant often plays the role of an enabler, offering people with extreme views but faint hearts the means to act, thereby potentially facilitating actions that otherwise might not occur.

Despite the fact that actual acts of jihadist terrorism remain relatively low, a disproportionately higher number of Muslims are convicted on charges of terrorism.  Objective observers have argued that many of the defendants have been railroaded by the justice system, due to a variety of reasons.  This overly aggressive prosecution has caused feelings of distrust in the Muslim American community.  The report reads:

Not everyone agrees that justice has been done in all cases [prosecuted]. Professional intelligence and law enforcement officials themselves wonder how far they can reach without repeating past excesses. Objective observers remain skeptical of the charges in several of the cases. Juries comprising frightened citizens do not always reach unbiased verdicts. National consensus is fragile. Risks must be carefully weighed…

Some of the recent arrests have been heavily criticized as reflections of post-9/11 paranoia, Islamophobia, and national hysteria.

(7) The report declares that “the 1970s saw greater terrorist violence” than nowadays, yet most Americans today perceive terrorism to be a radically new and emergent existential threat.  It is theperception of terrorism, not terrorism itself, that is greater than previous decades.  The report finds:

While radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism are cause for continuing concern, the current threat must be kept in perspective. The volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s than it is today. That decade saw 60 to 70 terrorist incidents, most of them bombings, on U.S. soil every year—a level of terrorist activity 15 to 20 times that seen in most of the years since 9/11, even counting foiled plots as incidents. And in the nine year period from 1970 to 1978, 72 people died in terrorist incidents, more than five times the number killed by jihadist terrorists in the United States in the almost nine years since 9/11…

In the 1970s, terrorists, on behalf of a variety of causes, hijacked airliners; held hostages in Washington, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco; bombed embassies, corporate headquarters, and government buildings; robbed banks; murdered diplomats; and blew up power transformers, causing widespread blackouts. These were not one-off attacks but sustained campaigns by terrorist gangs that were able to avoid capture for years. The Weather Underground was responsible for 45 bombings between 1970 and 1977, the date of its last action, while the New World Liberation Front claimed responsibility for approximately 70 bombings in the San Francisco Bay area between 1974 and 1978 and was believed to be responsible for another 26 bombings in other Northern California cities. Anti-Castro Cuban exile groups claimed responsibility for nearly 100 bombings. Continuing an armed campaign that dated back to the 1930s, Puerto Rican separatists, reorganized in 1974 as the Armed Front for National Liberation (FALN), claimed credit for more than 60 bombings. The Jewish Defense League and similar groups protesting the plight of Jews in the Soviet Union claimed responsibility for more than 50 bombings during the decade. Croatian and Serbian émigrés also carried out sporadic terrorist attacks in the United States, as did remnants of the Ku Klux Klan.

Some of these groups clearly benefited from the support of radicalized subcultures or sympathetic ethnic communities, which made suppression difficult.

(8) Jihadists have failed to launch a sustained campaign in the United States.  Al-Qaeda has not succeeded in sabotaging American life.  One of the reasons for this is the Muslim American community, which has opposed the jihadist ideology.  Without sympathetic ethnic support, the jihadists have not been able to sustain themselves.  The report reads:

While radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism remain cause for continuing concern, the current threat must be kept in perspective. What has not occurred is just as significant as what has occurred: Thus far, there has been no sustained jihadist terrorist campaign in the United States. There are many possible reasons: Al Qaeda simply lacked the assets to carry out terrorist operations. The local Muslim community rejected al Qaeda’s appeals and actively intervened to dissuade those with radical tendencies from violence. Domestic intelligence efforts were expanded and improved and thus far have succeeded in thwarting all but two actual attacks. Surveillance of radical venues, real or imagined, plus actual arrests contributed to a deterrent effect. Guns are readily available, but the ingredients of explosives became harder to obtain and were more closely monitored. Security visibly improved. While constant government admonitions early in the decade to remain vigilant seemed silly afterthoughts to dire warnings of imminent attack, citizens became more watchful and reported suspicious activity, which in at least a few of the cases yielded real results, adding further to a deterrent effect…

(9) The heightened sense of fear of terrorism today as compared to the 1970′s can be attributed to 9/11, an event which remains an outlier but distorts perspective.  The report reads:

The scale of the September 11, 2001, attacks tended to obliterate America’s memory of pre-9/11 terrorism, yet measured by the number of terrorist attacks, the volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s. That tumultuous decade saw 60 to 70 terrorist incidents, mostly bombings, on U.S. soil every year—a level of terrorist activity 15 to 20 times that seen in the years since 9/11, even when foiled plots are counted as incidents. And in the nine-year period from 1970 to 1978, 72 people died in terrorist incidents, more than five times the number killed by jihadist terrorists in the United States in the almost nine years since 9/11.

Since 9/11, no American civilians have been killed by jihadist terrorism.  And if we exclude 9/11, only nine people were ever killed in the U.S. from jihadist terrorism over the course of a decade and a half (from 1990 to 2005).

(10) Americans have ceded their civil liberties to the government due to the misplaced fear of terrorism.  The first group affected by these heavy-handed laws are Muslim Americans, which hampers anti-terrorism efforts by alienating the very community whose cooperation is so necessary.  The report declares:

In response, the country has conceded to the authorities broader powers to prevent terrorism. However, one danger of this response is that revelations of abuse or of heavy-handed tactics could easily discredit intelligence operations, provoke public anger, and erode the most effective barrier of all to radicalization: the cooperation of the community.

We argue that the loss of civil liberties and rise in xenophobia have a more significant and longer lasting effect than acts of terrorism.

(11) The report notes that the first line of defense to prevent terrorism are the relatives and close friends of the newly radicalized jihadist.  Therefore, it is imperative to maintain the trust of the Muslim American community, and not commit similar errors as some police officers did with the African American community in inner cities.  The report reads:

Relatives and friends are often more likely than the authorities to know when someone is turning dangerously radical and heading toward self-destruction…Maintaining positive police relations with all members of the community [is essential] without stigmatizing any group… The continued trust and cooperation of the Muslim community, tips to police from the family members and close acquaintances of those heading toward violence, alert citizens, and focused intelligence-collection efforts will remain essential components of the thus-far successful containment of domestic jihadist terrorism.

It is for this reason that we argue that racial profiling is the wrong way to go, as it will create animosity between authority figures and Muslim Americans.  (Not to speak of the un-American nature of the tactic.)

(12)  Totally eradicating terrorism is an unrealistic goal.  Terrorism is, and always has been, one of the day-to-day risks of living in the real world.  However, this risk must be put into perspective.  Over sixty times as many Americans die of peanut allergies per year than from acts of terrorism.  An American is 250 times more likely to be struck by lightning than be killed by terrorism. As for the threat of jihadist terrorism in specific, not a single U.S. civilian has been killed since 9/11.

The exaggerated fear of terrorism only empowers terrorists, giving them the feeling that they are far more effective than they really are. The Times Square bombing is case in point: it was an amateurish plot that failed miserably, but it managed to succeed in evoking national hysteria.

A calm public reaction is “an essential component of homeland defense.”  The report reads (emphasis is ours):

But prevention will not always work. More attempts will occur, and there will, on occasion, be bloodshed. In addition to traditional law enforcement, police intelligence collection, and community policing, public reaction is an essential component of homeland defense. Needless alarm, exaggerated portrayals of the terrorist threat, unrealistic expectations of a risk-free society, and unreasonable demands for absolute protection will only encourage terrorists’ ambitions to make America fibrillate in fear and bankrupt itself with security…

Bin Laden would not have publicly attached himself to Abdulmutallab’s failed bombing attempt unless he was persuaded that the young Nigerian had caused national upset—a tactical failure but a strategic success. As long as America’s psychological vulnerability is on display, jihadists will find inspiration in the actions of individuals like Nidal Hasan and Umar Abdulmutallab. And more recruitment and terrorism will occur. Panic is the wrong message to send America’s terrorist foes.

Anti-Islam ideologues fan the flames of “national hysteria”, and try to further exaggerate the threat of jihadism in order to turn the majoritarian group against an increasingly beleaguered Muslim American community.  This generated Islamophobia serves the interests of Bin Ladin and co., who seek to radicalize Muslim Americans in order for them to wage war against their fellow countrymen.  Discrimination against Muslims helps facilitate radicalism, and thus benefits jihadists.  Islamophobia gives credence to the jihadist narrative, which revolves around Western injustice against the Muslim people.  Beyond purely tactical considerations, bigotry is simply un-American and corrodes our society more than terrorism ever could.

RAND’s Official Summary

We have reproduced RAND’s official summary below:

Would-Be Warriors: Incidents of Jihadist Terrorist Radicalization in the United States Since September 11, 2001

Between September 11, 2001, and the end of 2009, a total of 46 cases of domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism were reported in the United States. In some of the cases, individuals living in the United States plotted to carry out terrorist attacks at home; some were accused of “providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations”; and some left the United States to join jihadist organizations abroad. All these individuals can be called “homegrown terrorists.”

Forty-six cases of radicalization in a period of little more than eight years may seem significant, but in each case, an average of only three people were accused—and half of the cases, including some of the fully formulated plots to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States, involved only a single individual. Only 125 persons were identified in the 46 cases. Although the numbers are small, the 13
cases in 2009 did indicate a marked increase in radicalization leading to criminal activity, up from an average of about four cases a year from 2002 to 2008. In 2009, there was also a marked increase in the number of individuals involved. Only 81 of the 125 persons identified were indicted for jihadist-related crimes between 2002 and 2008; in 2009 alone, 42 individuals were indicted. The remaining two individuals were indicted in January 2010 in connection with a plot uncovered in 2009.

Who Are the Recruits?

Most of America’s homegrown terrorists are U.S. citizens. Information on national origin or ethnicity is available for 109 of the identified homegrown terrorists. The Arab and South Asian immigrant communities are statistically overrepresented in this small sample, but the number of recruits is still tiny. There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced.

Many of the jihadist recruits in the United States began their journey on the Internet, where they could readily find resonance and reinforcement of their own discontents and people who would legitimate and direct their anger. Some of the recruits gained experience on the streets. At least 23 have criminal records—some of them very long records—for charges including aggravated assault, armed robbery, and drug dealing. A good percentage of those arrested could be described as having the experience and skills that would make them dangerous. But what is most at issue here are intentions, not ability. The 46 cases demonstrate earnest intent. The individuals were ready to be terrorists. Their ideological commitment was manifest. Some were naïve, some were adventurers, some were misguided. But many were no doubt sincere in their anger and determination, having made the ideological leap to armed jihad. They came into contact with U.S. authorities when they tried to act on their beliefs. They had, in the words of one prosecutor, “jihadi hearts and jihadi minds,” and juries convicted them on their intent.

The 1970s Saw Greater Terrorist Violence

While radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism are cause for continuing concern, the current threat must be kept in perspective. The volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s than it is today. That decade saw 60 to 70 terrorist incidents, most of them bombings, on U.S. soil every year—a level of terrorist activity 15 to 20 times that seen in most of the years since 9/11, even counting foiled plots as incidents. And in the nine year period from 1970 to 1978, 72 people died in terrorist incidents, more than five times the number killed by jihadist terrorists in the United States in the almost nine years since 9/11.

America’s perception of the terrorist threat today differs greatly from what it was 35 years ago. It is not the little bombs of the 1970s but fear of another event on the scale of 9/11 or of scenarios involving terrorist use of biological or nuclear weapons that drives current concerns.

In response, the country has conceded to the authorities broader powers to prevent terrorism. However, one danger of this response is that revelations of abuse or of heavy-handed tactics could easily discredit intelligence operations, provoke public anger, and erode the most effective barrier of all to radicalization: the cooperation of the community.

Are We Doing This Right?

Traditional law enforcement, in which authorities attempt to identify and apprehend a perpetrator after a crime has been committed, is inadequate to deal with terrorists who are determined to cause many deaths and great destruction and who may not care whether they themselves survive. Public safety demands a more preventive approach—intervention before an attack occurs.

As long as radicalization and recruitment to terrorism remain a reality, domestic intelligence collection,
always a delicate mission in a democracy, will remain a necessary activity. Under appropriate controls, intelligence operations can disrupt terrorist recruiting, uncover terrorist plots, and discourage those who would turn to violence.

And by preventing dramatic terrorist actions that inevitably create fear and alarm, intelligence operations can also prevent overreactions by the general public, allay unwarranted suspicions, and thereby protect vulnerable minorities (in this case, the American Muslim community) against official discrimination and even individual acts of revenge.

Meanwhile, expanded efforts must be made through community policing and other means to work with members of the Muslim community. These efforts must entail working with the community actively and consistently to address issues of crime, fears of crime, the suspicions of authorities, and other community concerns. Relatives and friends are often more likely than the authorities to know when someone is turning dangerously radical and heading toward self-destruction. On occasion, relatives and friends have intervened. But will they trust the authorities enough to notify them when persuasion does not work? Citizen involvement is essential, but so is maintaining positive police relations with all members of the community without stigmatizing any group or privileging special interests.

Recruitment Will Continue

The homegrown jihadist threat in America today consists of tiny conspiracies, lone gunmen, and one-off attacks. The continued trust and cooperation of the Muslim community, tips to police from the family members and close acquaintances of those heading toward violence, alert citizens, and focused intelligence-collection efforts will remain essential components of the thus-far successful containment of domestic jihadist terrorism.

But prevention will not always work. More attempts will occur, and there will, on occasion, be bloodshed. In addition to traditional law enforcement, police intelligence collection, and community policing, public reaction is an essential component of homeland defense. Needless alarm, exaggerated portrayals of the terrorist threat, unrealistic expectations of a risk-free society, and unreasonable demands for absolute protection will only encourage terrorists’ ambitions to make America fibrillate in fear and bankrupt itself with security. As long as America’s psychological vulnerability is on display, jihadists will find inspiration, and more recruitment and terrorism will occur. Panic is the wrong message to send America’s terrorist foes.

Related Posts:

All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t

Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t

 

South Park, the “Four Morons” of Revolution Muslim, and CNN’s Epic Fail

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by loonwatch

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The creators of South Park–Matt Stone and Trey Parker–decided that they would depict the Prophet Muhammad on the 200th episode of their show.  A radical group known as “Revolution Muslim”–based out of New York–issued thinly veiled threats against the South Park creators, hinting that their misdeed would result in their untimely deaths.  CNN picked up the story, and soon the controversy that the South Park creators so desired came to fruition.

Muslim Americans are irate.  But not so much at South Park.  Rather, the anger is directed at two groups: CNN for their poor journalism and Revolution Muslim for their insanity.  Let’s start with CNN: Anderson Cooper covered the topic for over ten minutes and even found time to interview the famous Islamophobe Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Surprisingly, Cooper did not interview a single Muslim American spokesman, thereby giving–whether he intended it or not–the false impression that Revolution Muslim represents a broad spectrum of the Muslim American population, and that the organization speaks for Islam itself.  In reality, the radical fringe group is composed of no more than two to ten members, and one could easily find similar sized extremist groups belonging to other faiths.

The vast majority of Muslim Americans despise Revolution Muslim and their hate-filled ideology.  The New York mosque the group frequented banned them from setting foot inside the premises, forcing them to preach on the street corner. Many Muslim Americans question whether Revolution Muslim are real Muslims, and instead hold them to be agent provocateurs who wish to smear Islam.  Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Revolution Muslim is “an extreme fringe group that has absolutely no credibility within the Muslim community” and that the “wild and irresponsible things” they say has led to “a strong suspicion [in the Muslim American community] that they’re merely a setup to make Muslims and Islam look bad. ”

Joseph Cohen, an Israeli settler and fundamentalist Jew, was the founder of Revolution MuslimJoseph Cohen, a former Israeli settler and ardent Zionist, is the founder of Revolution Muslim 

There’s reason to believe that.  The founder of the group goes by the name of Yousef al-Khattab, but his real name is Joseph Cohen.  He was born and raised in the United States as a Jew, and holds both American and Israeli citizenship.   In the late eighties, Cohen embraced an ultra-orthodox interpretation of Judaism, and began attending a yeshiva (rabbinical school).  In 1998, Cohen hearkened to the Zionist call, and packed up his bags to relocate to the Israeli Occupied Territories where he became an Israeli settler.  As an ardent and extreme Zionist, Joseph Cohen fell in with the Jewish fundamentalist group Shas, an extreme right-wing political party that believes in flouting international law based on their religious beliefs.  Less than three years later, Cohen “converted” to Islam, moved back to the United States, and founded the most radical Islamic group in the country. [1]His underling Younus Muhammad–the other half of the dynamic duo–is similarly a mysterious “convert” to Islam.

This pair of former extremist Zionists [2]–who together form Revolution Muslim–conveniently read off a script that could only be written by an Islamophobe.  For example, one of the two claimed that the Quran commands terrorism, something that no sincere Muslim would ever say (and a claim that is patently false); those are words that an Islamophobe (or extreme Zionist) would agree with, not a Muslim.  Considering the founder’s background in an extreme right-wing and fundamentalist Israeli political party, Muslim Americans have reason to be suspicious.  Revolution Muslim is just too convenient.  Regardless of whether they are Muslim or agent provocateurs, they are simply inorganic wackos that have no community support whatsoever.  Yet, that hasn’t stopped the media frenzy from portraying two “Muslims” as being representative of millions of Muslim Americans.

Cohen (Khattab) is just selling the mainstream media the narrative they want to hear.  According to these preconceived notions, Muslims lose their minds when the Prophet Muhammad is depicted.  The reasoning is simple enough: Muslims reacted in a frenzy to the Danish cartoons, so doesn’t it just make sense that a similar reaction would take place when South Park depicts the Prophet Muhammad?  However, the reality is that South Park has already portrayed an uncensored Muhammad in 2001, in an episode entitled “Super Best Friends”.  In fact, the image of the Prophet Muhammad was not only used in that episode, but appeared in the opening segment of the show for four entire seasons.  What was the Muslim reaction?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing happened.  No protests, no riots, and no death threats.  The Muslim American community shrugged it off, as they did the recent episode (barring the Revolution “Muslim” group).  Muslim columnist Zahed Amanullah wrote an article for the Guardian entitled “No [Muslim] freak-out over South Park”, saying:

But has there really been any Muslim outrage? The characterisation of Muhammad in a July 2001 episode entitled “Super Best Friends“, where he teams up with Jesus, Moses, and Buddha to defeat evil (even though Buddha “doesn’t really believe in evil”), has been available for viewing online (if not on a spooked Comedy Central) for nine years without censorship, more than enough time to spark another cartoon crisis if Muslims really cared. As should be obvious by now, they don’t.

Somehow “a couple of misfits” from Revolution Muslim are allowed to smear the entire Muslim American community.  The reality is that the vast majority of Muslims in this country barely flinched when they heard of South Park’s intention to portray the Prophet Muhammad.  Anderson Cooper covered Revolution Muslim months ago, and at that time he had concluded that “it’s just a bunch of, you know, four morons standing on the street corner, shouting at the top of their lungs–how many people are really listening?”  That summation of Revolution Muslim, “four morons standing on [a] street corner”, is exactly how Muslim Americans view them as.  Yet flash forward to the recent Cooper report and there is no mention of this fact, and they are instead portrayed as spokesmen of Islam.

To really seal this impression, Anderson Cooper had on his show the vitriolic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an ardent Islamophobe.  Unbelievably, she told Cooper that one religion (Islam) is “beyond criticism” nowadays.  What world is Ms. Ali living in?  Today, Islam is the most vilified religion ever, and you can say things against Islam and Muslims on television that you simply could not say against any other religion or religious group.  On Fox News, that’s simply routine, and guests (and oftentimes hosts) can get away with virtually any swipe at Islam.  And on the internet, the level of Islamophobia is astronomical, with Islamophobic websites being amongst the most popular sites on the net, and anti-Islamic comments being hurled at Muslims from sites ranging from YouTube to our very own LoonWatch.  So it is actually the opposite of what Ms. Ali claims: there is no other religion which is criticized more than Islam.  And it’s gone far past criticism but entered into wholesale bigotry, which explains the hypersensitive reaction of some Muslims to this abuse.

In any case, the idea that only Muslims have ever threatened people for portraying their prophet in a certain way is false to begin with.  The indefatigable Glenn Greenwald decimated this argument here, so I don’t need to belabor that point; for example, he mentions a play by the name of Corpus Christiwhich was canceled several times, due to death threats from extremist Christians.  It is clearly not a Muslim only problem, and ought not to be used as a stick to beat Muslims over the head with.  Ms. Ali takes this stick not only to all observant Muslims, but to all of Islam itself.  On Cooper’s show, she claims that the Islamic scripture itself advocates killing those who criticize the religion.  Last I checked, the Islamic scripture is the Quran, and not a single verse in it advocates such a thing.  In fact, we find quite the opposite; the Quran commands believers to say “peace be unto you” to those who insult their religion.  In the Islamic holy book, God describes the righteous:

They are patient, and repel evil with good…When they hear vile ridicule (against their faith), they ignore it and say: “We shall have our deeds and you shall have your deeds; peace be unto you!” (Quran, 28:54-55)

That’s what the Islamic scripture says.  As for the hadiths (Prophetic traditions), these are an amorphous body of texts, which Muslims do not hold to be inerrant like the Quran.  Rather, a large number of hadiths are rejected outright as apocryphal in nature, and controversy surrounds many others. [3] Muslim Americans focus on explicit hadiths in which the Prophet Muhammad forgave those who reviled him. [4] For example, a group of disbelievers cursed the Prophet Muhammad, and his wife angrily retaliated in kind.  The Prophet, however, admonished his wife: “Calm down.  There is not gentleness in anything except that it becomes more beautiful, and there is not harshness in anything except that it makes it ugly.  So be calm.”  He then expounded an integral Islamic belief, saying: “God is kind and lenient, and likes that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” [5]Contemporary Muslims argue that if the Prophet Muhammad forbade even verbal aggression against non-Muslims who insulted him, then physical violence is even more loathsome.

Similarly, if the Prophet Muhammad did not seek vengeance against those who physically assaulted him and even tried to kill him, then how could it be justified against those who merely insulted him?  For example, the Prophet Muhammad was poisoned by a woman who opposed his message, yet he forgave her and sought no retaliation against her.  When the people brought her to him, and asked: “Shall we kill her?”, the Prophet replied emphatically “no.” [6] Contemporary Muslims argue that if the Companions were forbidden to kill the one who tried to physically harm and kill the Prophet Muhammad, then it seems safe to say that it is even more forbidden to punish the one who merely insults him or draws a demeaning cartoon of him. One last example I will give here (although there are many others) is that of Labeed ibn al-Asam, a sorcerer who cursed the Prophet Muhammad, and attempted to harm him through black magic. When his wife asked him why he did not seek retaliation against the sorcerer, the Prophet Muhammad replied “I hate to cause harm to anyone.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) Contemporary Muslims ask: if the Prophet hated to cause harm to anyone, then he would hate for Muslims to kill those who merely drew cartoons of him, a “crime” much less egregious than black magic.

Are there certain texts from the hadiths and classical scholars that say otherwise?  Certainly, and I am not denying that.  But the Islamophobes put a standard to Muslims that they themselves cannot meet.  For example, the vitriolic Catholic crusader Robert Spencer would show such-and-such hadith, and then say “well, it says to kill people who insult the Prophet Muhammad, and so an observant Muslim must do that.”  Yet, his own Bible says to kill those who insult his God (Jesus), commanding the faithful to stone the blasphemous infidels to death:

Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death. (Leviticus, 24:16)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s swipe at Islam can be applied here, with the condescending disclaimer that “not all Christians follow the scripture.”  And what of Anderson Cooper’s comment on his blog: “I have no respect for a prophet or god that needs its followers to defend it by threats and murder.”  Would he now think lowly of the Jewish and Christian God who–according to their most authentic scriptural source–calls for its followers to kill those who insult Him?  Or do we realize that it’s not wise to cherry-pick a passage of a religious text and then vilify an entire creed?  Islamophobes like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Robert Spencer claim that Islam itself and the scriptural sources themselves explain why the riots against the Danish cartoons occurred.  I recently covered the resurgence of Christian witch hunts in Africa; one could make the unsophisticated claim that the primary blame for the witch hunts can be attributed to the Bible and Christianity itself, since the Bible calls for witches to be killed.[7] Yet, experts understand that “poverty, exacerbated by the current world economic crisis, often lay behind the [witch hunt] phenomenon as people sought to find scapegoats for their misfortunes and the illnesses they suffered.”  Christianity was simply the currency in which the people expressed their frustration.  In other words, it is a very superficial understanding to reduce the issue to Biblical verses.

Likewise, there were sociological factors behind the anger that fueled the Danish cartoon riots.  Yet, an unsophisticated understanding of the issue would lead one to believe that the riots were simply the result of an Islamic prohibition on the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.  The reality, however, is that–in spite of an orthodox ban on imagery of the Prophet [8]–the Prophet Muhammad has been depicted in the Islamic world for centuries. British author Dr. Kenan Malik writes:

Over the past 400 years, a number of Islamic, especially Shiite, traditions have accepted the pictorial representation of Muhammed. The Edinburgh University Library in Scotland, the Bibliotheque National in Paris, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, all contain dozens of Persian, Ottoman and Afghan manuscripts depicting the Prophet. His face can be seen in many mosques too – even in Iran. A 17th-century mural on the Iman Zahdah Chah Zaid Mosque in the Iranian town of Isfahan, for instance, shows a Mohammed whose facial features are clearly visible…

So, if there is no universal prohibition to the depiction of Muhammad, why were Muslims universally appalled by the caricatures? They weren’t. And those that were, were driven by political zeal rather than theological fervour.

European Muslims have long suffered from high levels of unemployment, social alienation, and systemic discrimination–factors that contributed to the riots more than indignation over the pictorial representation of the Prophet Muhammad.  In fact, most of the rioters had not even seen the cartoons, and the caricatures were–in the words of the Islamic scholar Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl–”the straw that broke the camel’s back” (an ethnically appropriate phrase).  In the Muslim majority world, Muslims had long been suffering from what they view as Western “neo-colonialism”, and the Danish cartoons were viewed as salt on the wounds.  The bewilderment of many in the West–”how could they react this way to some cartoons?”–only underscores a profound ignorance of the problems that plague those in the East, many of which the West either causes or exacerbates.

Dr. Malik goes on:

There were demonstrations and riots in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran, Nigeria, Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Danish embassies in Damascus, Beirut and Teheran were torched. But, as Jytte Klausen has observed, these protests ‘were not caused by the cartoons, but were part of conflicts in pre-existing hot spots’ such as northern Nigeria, where there exists an effective civil war between Muslim salafists and Christians. The violence surrounding the cartoon conflict, Klausen suggests, has been ‘misreported’ as expressions of spontaneous violence from Muslims ‘confronted with bad pictures’. That, she insists, ‘is absolutely not the case’. Rather ‘these images have been exploited by political groups in the pre-existing conflict over Islam.’

Similarly, the Salman Rushdie affair had political not theological roots:

We have come to accept almost as self-evident the idea that the worldwide controversy was sparked by the blasphemies in The Satanic Verses that all Muslims found deeply offensive. It is not true.

The Satanic Verses was published in September 1988. For the next five months, until the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa on Valentine’s Day 1989, most Muslims ignored the book. The campaign against the novel was largely confined to the Indian subcontinent and to Britain. Aside from the involvement of Saudi Arabia, there was little enthusiasm for a campaign against novel in the Arab world or in Turkey, or among Muslim communities in France or Germany. When the Saudi authorities tried at the end of 1988 to get the novel banned in Muslim countries worldwide, few responded except those with large subcontinental populations, such as South Africa or Malaysia. Even in Iran the book was openly available and was reviewed in many newspapers.

As in the controversy over the Danish cartoons, it was politics, not religion, that transformed The Satanic Verses into a worldwide event of historic proportions.

Malik then explains the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both countries desperately competing for regional dominance.  Each seeks–with its ultraconservative implementations of the religion–to assert itself as the standard-bearer of “authentic” Islam.  Saudi Arabia had attempted to ban the book, and Iran’s fatwa was an attempt to one up the Saudis.  In the words of Kenan Malik: “The Satanic Verses became a weapon in that conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh had made the initial running (by calling for a ban on the book). The fatwa was an attempt by Iran to wrestle back the initiative…The controversy over The Satanic Verses was primarily a political, not religious, conflict.”  Unfortunately, many Westerners think it sufficient to hold superficial understandings of such complex issues (whereas others find it expedient to do so).

The elements that led to the Danish cartoon affair simply do not exist in today’s South Park controversy, which explains why the Muslim American community–notwithstanding the “four morons on [a] street corner”–have had such a subdued response.  Interestingly, there has not even been any significant drive to boycott the show, nor any peaceful protests (let alone violent recourse)–which shows how little they care about this “controversy.”  Most Muslim Americans understand that South Park pokes fun at people of every faith, and even if they may find it personally distasteful, Muslim Americans don’t think too much of it. As CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper put it: “[Muslims] are pretty tired of this whole: ‘Let’s insult the Prophet Muhammad thing.’”  They don’t want to dwell on it, and just want the incident to pass. Internally, Muslim Americans are telling each other to “ignore it”, and they are cognizant of the fact that outrage will only publicize the South Park episode more.

By presupposing that the reaction of Muslim Americans would be the same as their coreligionists in parts of Europe and the developing world (some) non-Muslim Westerners have placed all Muslims into one box. According to this “the other” understanding, all Muslims–of every nationality and region of the earth–ought to react similarly. Yet, one clearly understands this not to be the case when comparing Evangelicals in America with those leading witch hunts in Nigeria. The reality is that Muslims in this country have a distinctly American Islam, one which has incorporated freedom of speech into it. Therefore, it is incorrect to simply assume that the reaction of Muslim Americans would be the same as their religious brethren elsewhere. Unlike the Muslim communities in many (but not all) European countries, Muslim Americans are well integrated; unemployment and poverty do not affect them in the same way.  Instead, they tend to be rather well off, and are “overrepresented” in professional fields like medicine and engineering.  The absence of the sociological factors present in the Danish cartoon affair explains the lack of response to the South Park cartoons, and this is so even though the scriptural texts are still the same–again pointing to the fact that the protests had sociological and not theological roots.

Another reason why the South Park cartoons did not cause a Muslim outcry like the Danish cartoons did is that the South Park cartoons were not Islamophobic in nature.  The creators of South Park are equal-opportunity haters and have lampooned every religion, which really softened the blow.  The Danish cartoons, on the other hand, were Islamophobic in nature, and portrayed the Prophet Muhammad as a stereotypical Muslim terrorist with a bomb on his head.  (The same publisher had earlier refused to publish cartoons that were deemed offensive to Christians.)  The Danish cartoons were racist and bigoted.  Can one imagine the reaction of socioeconomically depressed African Americans had a mainstream newspaper (like the New York Times) published cartoons portraying blacks as apes (a stereotypical racist image)?  In the seventies or eighties, such a thing would have led to widespread riots. Would people still be bewildered as to how a population could react so violently to a “mere cartoon“?  How is an ape-like representation of a black person any different than a stereotypical hook-nosed Muslim with a bomb on his head?

Freedom of speech is one of the principles of this country, and without it a democracy cannot flourish.  But let’s not forget that racial and religious tolerance is another bedrock of democracy.  It is a true oddity that certain segments of society have chosen that today freedom of speech is the most important issue to them, only because it allows them to channel their racial and religious intolerance.  The neo-conservatives who are today masquerading as the defenders of the first amendment are the same ones who just yesterday were justifying warrantless wiretapping, racial profiling, suspension of habeas corpus, secret prisons, torture, coerced confessions, state-sponsored assassinations (of even U.S. citizens), and on and on…all because these things were directed at Muslims.  In the words of Glenn Greenwald, the South Park controversy has been exploited so that the “majoritarian group [can act] as the profoundly oppressed victim at the hands of the small, marginalized, persecuted group which actually has no power [i.e. Muslim Americans].”  It is selective and unprincipled outrage expressed by unsavory folks who don’t really care about the principles of freedom and tolerance, but are instead using the incident to promote intolerance and demonization of a minority group…something which threatens our democracy far more than “four morons on [a] street corner.”

In conclusion, this is a contrived controversy, and there was no freak-out by Muslim Americans over the South Park cartoons.  Yes, many Muslim Americans were offended, but no more so than pious Christians whose stomachs churn at the South Park episodes mocking their religious icons.  But most Muslim Americans know that this is the cost of living in a free society, and most importantly, they know that it won’t affect what they perceive is the greatness of their prophet.  As one Muslim American told me: “Barking dogs cannot harm the moon, so let them bark.”  Despite the crudeness of this analogy, it adequately depicts the indifference of Muslim Americans to the South Park cartoon.Dr. Hesham Hassaballa, a prominent Muslim spokesman and former board member of CAIR, said:

I  must admit: I was offended. I was really bothered by the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit on Comedy Central’s satirical show “South Park.” …[But] ever since the beginning of his ministry, the Prophet Muhammad has been attacked, maligned, and insulted, including from his own uncle. The Prophet never retaliated against [them]. When he was brutally expelled from the city of Ta’if, two angels offered to crush the city under the mountains that surrounded it. The Prophet refused, hoping that their children may one day believe in God. After conquering Mecca, the Prophet issued a general amnesty to the very same people that brutally and violently opposed him, including the person who mutilated his beloved uncle Hamza after he was killed in battle.

This is the example of the Prophet Muhammad that Muslims should seek to emulate whenever he is insulted. The Prophet once said, “I was sent to perfect the most noble of character.” He also said, “The best of you are the best in character.” Rather than pray for God to “kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker,” Mr. Chesser should have prayed for God to show Stone and Parker the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad, so they can understand more about the man whom 1.2 billion people around the world revere and honor. It is what the Prophet would have done.

No angry pitchfork, Dr. Hassaballa?  The media thinks to itself: that won’t sell a story and certainly doesn’t fit our preconceived notions of what a stereotypical Muslim is, so let’s forget that you are a respected figure in the community and instead focus on “four morons on [a] street corner” who aren’t even allowed inside their mosque due to how much the Muslim American community dislikes their views. (Phew, that was a long sentence!) Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR-Chicago, writes:

The latest Muhammad cartoon controversy, courtesy of Comedy Central’s South Park, seems somewhat contrived…[Revolution Muslim is] literally 5-10 people who are widely reviled by the mainstream community for their radical and confrontational style including harassing Muslims outside mosques (where they tend to be banned) with outlandishly provocative anti-American rhetoric.

Most suspect the group is fraudulent. Its mysterious leader, born Joseph Cohen, is an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there. Whether, true Muslims or agent provocateurs, the result is the same: they are five community outcasts…

South Park’s provocation was mostly met by silence and indifference [by the Muslim American community]. The widespread Muslim attitude went something like this: this is a free country, you go on mocking Jesus and Muhammad, and we will go on keeping them in our prayers. No harm done. Muhammad’s and Jesus’ value to humanity certainly will not dip as a result of your mockery.

The Muslim American community by and large supports freedom of speech, feeling that the right of the cartoonists to lampoon the Prophet exists and that the best thing to do is ignore such insults. Perhaps the lack of reaction by Muslim Americans has disappointed the sensationalist media looking for a story, forcing them to focus on a few misfits.  Amazing how “four morons on [a] street corner” are allowed to become the spokesmen for Islam. The message to Muslim Americans is loud and clear: even if 99.9999% of you behave, that last 0.00001% will be enough to hit you over the head with. The entire community will be defined by its two (or four) village idiots. Muslim Americans can never hope to have their voices heard, unless of course they become Revolution Muslims.

Update:

In retrospect, I fear that I may have used too strong wording when I was discussing Joseph Cohen’s past.  The way my article is written, it seems as if I am saying that he is really a Jew pretending to be a Muslim, and this could be used by some to promote a vast conspiracy, i.e. “it’s the Mossad!”  This was not my intention, and I caution people to stay away from such conspiratorial talk.

The reality is that I do not know Cohen’s true intentions.  I myself have a nagging suspicion that he is a disingenuous attention whore, as is his underling Younus Muhammad.  They have found a way to become famous, and I believe they enjoy the feeling of self-importance and their fifteen minutes of fame.  Accordingly, I believe that the outlandish things they say come from a desire to grab media attention, not from a genuine belief in Islam.  As I said, it is difficult to imagine that a sincere Muslim would claim that the Quran advocates terrorism, etc.  To fulfill this desire for fame, the so-called Revolution Muslims have adopted the role of agent provocateurs, trying to push as many buttons as they possible can.  “Look at us!  Look at us!”

This is the limit of my “conspiracy,” and I do not at all claim that they are still Jews, even though I realize that my wording in the article above was poorly constructed. I am not one to make excuses for my mistakes, and so I say quite simply: I made a mistake.  Yes, it is a possibility that the group was formed to make Muslims look bad, as Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR said.  But the evidence I presented with regard to Cohen’s past can at most make one question intentions, nothing more.  There is no way to know for sure either way; one can only conjecture.

However, the rest of the article still holds: regardless of Revolution Muslim’s sincerity of faith or lack thereof, the point is that they are extreme outliers, completely at odds with the vast majority of Muslim Americans.  The suspicion of the Islamic community is important insofar as it is highlights this very fact, and indicates how far off Cohen and co.’s viewpoints are from the rest of the Muslim Americans.

Footnotes

refer back to article 1. Yousef al-Khattab, My Reversion to Islam, http://www.scribd.com/doc/2901290/Brother-Yousef-al-Khattabs-Reversion-to-Islam-A-Former-Jew

refer back to article 2. I found less information on the character known as Younus Muhammad, and would welcome reader input confirming his real name and Zionist inclinations prior to his supposed conversion.

refer back to article 3. Although several textual proofs indicate that the Prophet Muhammad forgave those who insulted and abused him, a handful of texts seem to say otherwise.  However, many contemporary Muslims view these texts to be apocryphal, including the stories involving Abu Afak (a poet), Asma bint Marwan (a poetess), and a certain blind man’s slave girl.  As for Kaab ibn al-Ashraf, it is argued that he “was assassinated only because he violated the peace treaty and assisted in the war” (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari) against the fledgling city-state of Medina.  With regard to Ibn Khattal and his two slave girls, it is said that they “all stood convicted of atrocious [war] crimes” (M. Haykal, Hayat Muhammad).

refer back to article 4. Perhaps it would behoove me to compile these some day.

refer back to article 5. Sahih Bukhari, Vol.9, Book 84, # 61

refer back to article 6. Found in Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, amongst others. She was eventually found guilty of the murder of Bishr ibn Al-Bara, and punished accordingly.

refer back to article 7. “Thou shalt not allow a sorceress to live” (Exodus, 22:18), and “sorcerers amongst you must be put to death” (Leviticus, 20:27)

refer back to article 8. The ban was placed to prevent idolization of the Prophet Muhammad, something which early Muslims feared due to the fate of Jesus in the Christian world. However, this ban on pictorial representations carries no worldly punishment if breached, neither in classical or contemporary understandings of Islamic law.

Convert to Christianity or Leave

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by loonwatch
American Family Association CrossAmerican Family Association Cross

Jason Linkins has this post in the Huffington Post on the American Family Association’s call for American Muslims to leave or be expatriated to other countries. (hat tip: Abdullah)

American Family Association to Muslim Americans: Convert to Christianity or Leave by Jason Linkins

It seems like only a week ago that the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer (who is the AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis, perhaps because he has so many personal issues that need to be analyzed by professional psychopharmacologists), was saying that the Christian thing to do would be to round up all Muslim American citizens and deport them to Muslim countries, because surely that would solve a lot of problems? You know, by sending happy American citizens to other countries?

The most compassionate thing we can do for Muslims who have already immigrated here is to help repatriate them back to Muslim countries, where they can live in a culture which shares their values, a place where they can once again be at home, surrounded by people who cherish their deeply held ideals. Why force them to chafe against the freedom, liberty and civil rights we cherish in the West?

Well, naturally, such remarks call for a clarification, and, in keeping with the traditions of “clarifying,” Fischer basically swaps out one ridiculously abhorrent statement for another statement of equal ridiculous abhorrence, without really retracting the first.

Via Media Matters:

Muslims who have become naturalized citizens, of course, would need to commit an act of treason to forfeit their citizenship and become eligible for repatriation. Based on the Constitution’s definition of treason in Article III Section 3 [“adhering to (the) Enemies (of the United States), (or) giving them Aid and Comfort”] treasonous acts are likely committed on virtually a weekly basis here in the U.S. in many mosques and Islamic organizations.[…]

Muslims continue to have as their objective the Islamization of the entire world, including the U.S., and are taught by their god to use force where necessary to accomplish the goal. The current objective of Muslim activists is to create a brand new Islamic state – meaning a state like New Jersey or Montana – out of existing jurisdictions and establish a virtual Islamic homeland in our midst.

[…]

Many Muslims are on our shores on student visas and such and have not yet become citizens. We must politely decline their request for naturalization (becoming an American citizen is a privilege, not a right) and use the money we would otherwise spend on their welfare, their education, their medical care and their incarceration to graciously assist them in returning to their countries of origin.

Those who are willing to convert to Christianity and renounce Islam, Allah, Mohammed and the Koran may be welcomed, for they can become not just good Christians but true Americans.

Meanwhile, I am reliably informed by the Constitution of the United States that one of the freedoms we cherish in America is the right to worship whatever faith we bloody well please, so maybe it’s Fischer who needs to sail away on a little sloop in search of a land more to his liking?

 

Robert Spencer: Here’s Hoping for an anti-Muslim Backlash

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2009 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer: Here’s hoping for an Anti-Muslim Backlash

Here’s praying that Islam and Muslims face the blame for Fort Hood

Since news of the heinous Fort Hood massacre at the hands of Major Malik Nidal Hassan first broke out, “Islam Scholar” Robert Spencer, of f**kislam fame, has been like a gluttonous kid in a candy shop, frantically blogging over three dozen times with one goal in mind: slap down the blame on Islam and Muslims at large.

That is precisely the line that every sane responder has warned against. Whether it was the American Muslim leadership, the US military leadership, the mainstream media, or the President of the United States. But to Spencer who is rubbing his hands praying that a massive backlash could befall the American Muslim community, the sanity that he is hearing and seeing from mainstream America is cause for anger, bitterness, and complaints.

For the “Islam Scholar,” everyone including the US Military leadership are “dhimmi” wimps afraid of the Mooslims. Fancy that, a sedentary blogger who barely gets off his backside where he sits day and night punching away at a keyboard sees fit to accuse those who venture on the war frontiers risking their lives to protect this country (including his) of being cowardly sell-out wimps. Continue reading

Muslim Americans Must Obey U.S. Laws; Nidal Hasan Disobeyed Islamic Doctrine

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2009 by loonwatch

Muslim Americans Must Obey US Laws; Nidal M. Hasan Disobeyed Islamic Doctrine

Major Nidal Malik Hasan
Major Nidal Malik Hasan

The Islamophobic blogosphere has gone buck-wild.  Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and the rest of the goof troop are pretty ecstatic that Major Nidal Hasan, a Muslim American, killed thirteen U.S. soldiers at Fort Hood.  Nothing makes a neo-conservative happier than an attack on American soil; as the family of the victims mourn the dead, the anti-Muslim ideologues gleefully co-opt the situation to market their hate-filled beliefs.

The Islamophobes claim that Major Hasan was simply “being a devout Muslim” when he opened fire on his fellow soldiers.  According to them, this is a part of Jihad, an obligation in Islam.  As such, the enemy is not just extremists, radicals, or terrorists; but rather, it is Islam itself.  It is not then a gross perversion of a religion by zealots that result in such horrific attacks, but rather the exact opposite: it is a faithful understanding of the Islamic religion which results in terrorism.  That’s what they claim at least.

There is, according to these anti-Muslim bigots, a conspiracy by Muslim Americans to overtake the country from within.  The tactics to do so can be non-violent (“Stealth Jihad”) or overtly violent (such as 9/11 or the Fort Hood Massacre), but the goal is the same: to overthrow the U.S. government, rip the Constitution to shreds, and enact Sharia (Islamic law) in the West.  It is for this reason, you–the average American Joe–need to fear your Muslim neighbor.

The Covenant of Security

But experts of the Islamic legal tradition say differently.  The Islamic religion commands believers to obey the laws of the land they live in, even if it be one ruled by nonbelievers.  Muslim jurists consider citizenship (or visa) to be a covenant (aqd) held between the citizen (or visa holder) and the state, one which guarantees safe passage/security (amaan) in exchange for certain obligations (such as obeying the laws of the land); covenants are considered sacredly binding in Islam.  The Quran commands:

And fulfill every covenant.  Verily, you will be held accountable with regard to the covenants. (Quran, 17:34)

The Quran condemns those who break covenants as not being true believers:

It is not the case that every time they make a covenant, some party among them throws it aside. Nay! The truth is most of them believe not. (Quran, 2:100)

The Islamic prophet Muhammad described the religious hypocrite as follows:

When he enters into a covenant, he proves treacherous. (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Citizenship (and visa) is called in Islamic legal parlance as a “covenant of security” (aqd al-aman).  For over a thousand years, Muslim scholars have rigorously affirmed the binding nature of the covenant of security.  This covenant of security can be of two types: (1) a contractual agreement or (2) a customary understanding. Continue reading