Archive for Muslims

American Muslims Working to Protect Equal Rights of Minorities in Middle East

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Working for equal rights across the globe for minorities is a priority for many American Muslims who have themselves learned from their own “minority experience.” American Muslims were recently in Doha developing ways of ensuring the “protection of equal rights of minorities in the Middle East” (h/t: MF):

American Muslims Working to Protect Equal Rights of Minorities in Middle East

(StraightRecord.org)

Muslim American’s continue with their persistent and consistent efforts at highlighting the critical importance of promoting and protecting “equal rights” for minorities in the Middle East.

Central to the struggles and reforms emerging across the Middle East from the Arab Spring are questions of how to ensure the protection of freedom, tolerance, and economic sustainability for all people, particularly minority groups.

In an effort to develop an international strategy for social stability and economic development in the Middle East, the State of Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UCLA Center for Middle East Development gathered community leaders and activists from across the globe this week in Doha for a conference focusing on enriching the future of the Middle East.  The conference was held in conjunction with the 12th Annual Doha Forum.

ISNA Director of Community Outreach Mohamed Elsanousi participated in a workshop focusing on the “Future of Religious Minorities in the Region.” Elsanousi’s participation in the workshop was a part of ISNA’s ongoing work with Muslim leaders worldwide to promote Islamic standards and develop protocols that protect religious freedom, particularly for religious minorities, in Muslim-majority countries.

“In Islam, we are taught that all people are equal and should not be discriminated against in any way based on their religion,” stated Elsanousi.  “It is our responsibility as Muslims to promote programs and policies that protect freedom of religion for all people in the emerging democracies across the Arab Spring to ensure the repression of the old regimes is never allowed to take root again.”

The workshop highlighted examples from Islamic history, such as the covenant of Medina, which thrived under a system of law that guaranteed equal rights for all people in a Muslim majority community.

The workshop also echoed many of the strategies shared by ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid and other leaders during last week’s ISNA co-sponsored symposium on the Rights of Religious Minorities in Islam.

Read the rest…

Muslims Meet Restaurant Owner: Change His Mind through Dialogue

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Many, and I would venture to say most anti-Muslim bigots have never met a Muslim in their life.

Usually, when you meet an individual from a group that you have demonized and dehumanized you’re likely to drop your prejudiced attitude. Feelings of embarrasment, shame and guilt may surface, causing you to reflect and ponder on your actions.

It seems as if Michael Pollice, who posted a sign saying “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing” has had a genuine change of heart after meeting local Muslims. The fact that he was getting a lot of negative attention might have had something to do with it as well:

Domenico’s Owner Takes Down Controversial Sign, Apologizes

by Jessica Sinichak (Cranberry Patch)

After the controversial sign he posted in front of Domenico’s Ristorante in Cranberry caused a stir in the community (including on the Cranberry Patch site), owner Michael Pollice has had a change of heart.

“I like to push stuff as far as it can go,” he said. “I will never do that again, because it hurts people.”

Pollice, who is known in the community for his thought-provoking—and sometimes controversial—signs, erected a sign last week that said “Flying Remote Control Airplanes into Muslim People at the Mall is My Thing.”

The sign, which received local—and even national—media coverage ignited a firestorm of responses that ranged from support of Pollice’s message—which he said was a joke—to defense of First Amendment rights to downright outrage and disgust.

In just a few days time, Cranberry Patch received close 100 responses from readers giving their opinion on the issue. Many threatened to boycott the restaurant.

According to Pollice—who said business at the restaurant actually increased—the responses at first inspired him to poke back (which he did in the comment section of the Cranberry Patch article) and to push the envelope even further. By Saturday, a new sign he posted in front of the restaurant read, “If This Sign Offends You, Call a Dead Soldier’s Parents to Complain.”

Then a phone call changed his mind.

Pollice said Asim Kokan, a board member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked him Wednesday for a face-to-face get together to talk about the sign.

Pollice agreed to the meeting, which also was attended by Kazim Reza, a member of the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh and a local realtor, Scott Rudolph, a pastor with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Franklin Park, and Donna McNamara, an active member with the North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition.

Pollice said he had never before spent time with Muslims, and doing so changed his attitude. After explaining he thought of the sign as a joke, he and the visitors got along fine.

“Those guys were great,” he said. “They could have been jerks to me.”

Pollice added he apologized numerous times to the group—and even offered to hold a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit a new mosque for the Muslim Association of Greater Pittsburgh. The association currently rents a space in Wexford.

“I think it was good thing for me,” Pollice said of the meeting. “I’m better for the experience.”

Unsure at first of what to expect, Reza said he also was pleasantly surprised at the meeting.

“He was very calm and very apologetic for hurting the feelings of Muslims and others,” he said of Pollice.

The McCandless resident—who moved from India to the United States in 1954 to attend college—said the group learned about the Domenico’s sign from an email a woman originally sent to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh that was forwarded to other mosques around the area.

“She felt is was very, very inappropriate,” Reza said of the emailer. “She felt hurt. She felt it was totally uncalled for.”

Part of CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, which is why the group—which meets up for North Hills Anti-Racism Coalition events— scheduled the meeting with Pollice. Reza also invited anyone with an interest in learning more about Islam to attend prayers at MAP’s mosque in Wexford.

“We do not stop anybody. Anybody can come,” he said. “You only have to follow the basic disciplines of the mosque.”

As for Pollice, he said the incident wouldn’t deter him from posting quirky signs in the future. By Thursday, he had a new sign up that he said shouldn’t offend anyone—except maybe marine life. It reads, “Dolphins are Just Sharks Who Watch Glee.”

Congressional Candidate Sam Aanestad: Muslims Infiltrating Government, Obama a Muslim

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

Congressional Candidate Sam Aanestad reportedly said President Obama was a Muslim

(via. Islamophobia-Today)

GRASS VALLEY — Congressional candidate Sam Aanestad said Tuesday he was not going to comment further on a meeting in Paradise where he reportedly said President Obama was a Muslim.

He said, in a telephone interview, that the matter, involving a “disruptive woman who was escorted out,” wasn’t worth discussing further.

Aanestad is a former Republican state senator from Grass Valley.

According to Karen Duncanwood of Paradise, Aanestad was a guest at a tea party meeting at a Paradise pizza restaurant about a month ago.

Duncanwood, a supporter of one of Aanestad’s opponents, Democratic congressional candidate Jim Reed, said she went to the meeting to hear what Aanestad had to say. Jim Stellar of Concow, another Reed supporter, also attended.

In a phone interview, Duncanwood said a woman at the meeting told Aanestad she was concerned about “Muslim extremists” getting into the higher echelons of American government.

Duncanwood said Aanestad indicated he agreed with her and suggested the inroads extended to “the Oval Office.”

Then, Duncanwood said, Stellar asked Aanestad if he was calling Obama a Muslim.

Duncanwood said Aanestad replied that he did.

“At that point,” Duncanwood said, “I stood up and said, ‘He’s a Christian. He baptized his children, and he goes to a Christian church.”

She said some other people at the meeting insisted Obama was a Muslim, and after that she was escorted out of the meeting.

Jessica Allen, Chico campaign coordinator for Reed, heard about the incident. She said Stellar told her he wrote a letter about it and sent it to a local newspaper but it wasn’t published. So, she said, she sent information about the incident to several newspapers, including the Enterprise-Record.

Allen said she wasn’t acting on behalf of Reed’s campaign.

Rather, she simply felt the public ought to know what Aanestad had said, she said.

On Monday, when Aanestad was in Chico holding a press conference, two reporters asked him about the Obama comment.

Aanestad said he did think Obama was a Muslim. He said Obama’s father was a Muslim, and that he was raised in a Muslim culture. Now, Obama says he is a Christian, and Aanestad said he has no choice other than to believe that he is a Christian today.

Last week, Aanestad was interviewed by Marc Albert, who does local news reporting on Chico radio station KZFR. Albert told the Enterprise-Record he asked Aanestad about the Obama-Muslim comment and whether he thought Obama was a Muslim.

Albert said he provided Allen with some recorded excerpts from the radio interview. Allen emailed those to the Enterprise-Record.

In one of the radio clips, Aanestad says, “I was asked (at the tea party meeting), do I think he (Obama) is a Muslim. Do I think he is a Muslim? And the answer is yes. That is his background. That is his beginning.

“He may be a Christian today. There’s no way you or I can tell that. But his background, his upbringing, his tradition, his holiday observances — all from the Muslim background. Does he practice Islam, the religion of the Muslims? I don’t think so.”

In 2010, ABC did a news report claiming many Americans wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim.

The report said Obama has written that by the time he was born, his father had become an atheist, that his father divorced his mother when he was 2, and that he rarely saw his father when he was a child.

Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759, lmitchell@chicoer.com, or followed on Twitter, @LarryMitchell7.

Original post: Aanestad now mum on Muslim comment

Over the Rainbow in Kansas, pt.2: Gov. Brownback Signs Bill Aimed at Blocking Sharia

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Gov. Brownback has signed the bill passed by the Kansas legislature aimed at blocking “foreign law” (i.e. the non-existent “sharia threat”) in Kansas.

It will likely be challenged in Kansas courts:

Kan. gov. signs measure blocking Islamic law

BY JOHN HANNA (Kansas City Star)

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a law aimed at keeping the state’s courts or government agencies from basing decisions on Islamic or other foreign legal codes, and a national Muslim group’s spokesman said Friday that a court challenge is likely.

The new law, taking effect July 1, doesn’t specifically mention Shariah law, which broadly refers to codes within the Islamic legal system. Instead, it says courts, administrative agencies or state tribunals can’t base rulings on any foreign law or legal system that would not grant the parties the same rights guaranteed by state and U.S. constitutions.

“This bill should provide protection for Kansas citizens from the application of foreign laws,” said Stephen Gele, spokesman for the American Public Policy Alliance, a Michigan group promoting model legislation similar to the new Kansas law. “The bill does not read, in any way, to be discriminatory against any religion.”

But supporters have worried specifically about Shariah law being applied in Kansas court cases, and the alliance says on its website that it wants to protect Americans’ freedoms from “infiltration” by foreign laws and legal doctrines, “especially Islamic Shariah Law.”

Brownback’s office notified the state Senate of his decision Friday, but he actually signed the measure Monday. The governor’s spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, said in a statement that the bill “makes it clear that Kansas courts will rely exclusively on the laws of our state and our nation when deciding cases and will not consider the laws of foreign jurisdictions.”

Muslim groups had urged Brownback to veto the measure, arguing that it promotes discrimination. Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said a court challenge is likely because supporters of the measure frequently expressed concern about Shariah law.

Hooper said of Brownback, “If he claims it has nothing to do with Shariah or Islamic law or Muslims, then he wasn’t paying attention.”

Both the Washington-based council and the National Conference of State Legislatures say such proposals have been considered in 20 states, including Kansas. Gele said laws similar to Kansas’ new statute have been enacted in Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Oklahoma voters approved a ballot initiative in 2010 that specifically mentioned Shariah law, but both a federal judge and a federal appeals court blocked it.

There are no known cases in which a Kansas judge has based a ruling on Islamic law. However, supporters of the bill have cited a pending case in Sedgwick County in which a man seeking to divorce his wife has asked for property to be divided under a marriage contract in line with Shariah law.

Supporters argue the measure simply ensures that legal decisions will protect long-cherished liberties, such as freedom of speech and religion and the right to equal treatment under the law. Gele said the measure would come into play if someone wanted to enforce a libel judgment against an American from a foreign nation without the same free speech protections.

“It is perfectly constitutional,” he said.

The House approved the bill unanimously and the Senate, with broad, bipartisan support. Even some legislators who were skeptical of it believed it was broad and bland enough that it didn’t represent a specific political attack on Muslims.

“This disturbing recent trend of activist judges relying upon the laws of other nations has been rejected by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both the Kansas House and Senate,” Jones-Sontag said.

The measure’s chief sponsor, Rep. Peggy Mast, an Emporia Republican, also has said all Kansans, including Muslims, should be comfortable with the new law, but she did not immediately respond Friday to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, acknowledged that the measure merely “made some people happy” and that a vote against it could be cast politically as a vote in favor of Shariah law.

“Am I really concerned that Shariah law is going to take over the Kansas courts? No,” he said. “I’m more concerned about getting jobs to Kansas.”

The Michigan-based alliance advocates model “American Law for American Courts” legislation. Its website says, “America has unique values of liberty which do not exist in foreign legal systems, particularly Shariah Law.”

During the Kansas Senate’s debate on the bill earlier this month, Sen. Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican described a vote for the measure as a vote for women’s rights, adding, “They stone women to death in countries that have Shariah law.”

Hooper said supporters of such proposals have made it clear they are targeting Islamic law.

“Underlying all of this is demonizing Islam and marginalizing American Muslims,” he said.

Egyptian Elections: Islamophobes Will Be Unable to Explain this Picture

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by loonwatch

Of course anti-Islam bigots like “John C. Drew, Ph.D” will be unable to explain the picture below. According to them, Muslims are all persecuting Christians in Egypt, who are supposedly in the same position as Jews on the eve of the Kristalnacht (h/t: Amir):

The picture is taken from the Facebook group, The Official Page for the Coalition of Coptic Egyptians.

They wrote this as a caption for the picture:
دى بقى من أجمل صور المصراوية فى الإنتخابات الرئاسية لمصوّر جريدة الأهرام “بسّام الزغبى” .. سأختارها حتما ضمن أفضل صور العام.
انشرها وعرف غيرك اننا هنفضل مسلم ومسيحى مش كلام لكن حقيقة

Translation: “One of the most beautiful photos of Egyptians during the presidential elections from photographer for Al-Ahram newspaper, “Bustaam Al-Zoghbi.” We choose it amongst the best pictures of the year. Spread it. And let others besides yourself know that verily we remain Muslims and Christians, not just “talk” but “reality.”

But who wants to hear the voice of Copts themselves, when “John C. Drew, PhD” can speak for them?

Settlers, Amongst IDF Soldiers Shoot at Palestinians

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2012 by loonwatch

Fanatical Yitzhar Settlers have once again attacked Palestinians. One Settler was armed with a “Tavor” rifle only used by IDF infantry soldiers. They were also accompanied by soldiers who according B’TSelem didn’t do enough to protect Palestinians from Settler violence.

Video: Settlers, amongst soldiers, fire on Palestinians

(Ma’an News)

An Israeli human rights group released footage on Sunday of settlers firing on a Nablus village a day earlier, and called on Israel’s military to investigate the assailants, as well as the army’s role.

Settlers entered Asira al-Qibliya on Saturday and threw rocks at properties in the village, which borders Yitzhar settlement, before the arrival of Israeli forces, a Ma’an correspondent said.

In the ensuing clashes Nimir Fathi, 24, was shot in the neck, while Ahmad Jaber Jibrel, 30, was hit in the face with a rock.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem released footage by volunteer photographers showing the settlers, some of whom were masked and armed, arriving in the village.

Palestinian youth from the village arrived and threw stones at settlers, and Israeli forces arrived at the scene, while rounds of live ammunition are heard, B’Tselem said.

The group said the footage raises “grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians … and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing.”

B’Tselem said the one settler used a “Tavor” rifle, only used by Israeli infantry soldiers, and called for the army to investigate suspicions that the assailant was thus a soldier on leave.

Another two settlers were armed with M4 rifles, and one with a pistol while another appears to be wearing a police cap, the group said.

B’Tselem said it had written to police and military authorities calling on them to apprehend the shooters and investigate the “suspicion that the soldiers did not adhere to their obligation to protect Palestinians from settler violence.”

An Israeli military spokeswoman said at the time that settlers has clashed with Palestinians in the village, and she was looking into further details.

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian Presidency Tayeb Abdel Rahim, visiting the wounded men in Rafidia Hospital in Nablus later Saturday, condemned the “barbaric attack by settlers.”

The Palestinian Authority will not stand idly by while these “completely unacceptable and reprehensible actions” take place, he said.

Abdel Rahim demanded the international community fulfill its responsibilities towards such “crimes that will lead to the collapse and security-destabilization of the region as a whole.”

In 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that settler attacks had increased by 50 percent on the previous year.

Settler violence against local Palestinian communities is widespread, but figures compiled by Israeli rights group Yesh Din have repeatedly shown that nine out of 10 police investigations about settler crimes fail to lead to a prosecution.

Report On “Rescuing Human Rights” Conference at UC San Diego

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2012 by loonwatch

tritons-4-israel

Tikkun Olam has an update to the Stand With Us “rescuing human rights” event, where bigots such as Zuhdi Jasser were invited and human rights was discussed by casting Islam as the opposite of ‘human rights’:

My impression is that SWU has launched a crafty but potentially risky plan to engage on human rights issues and they have selected Islamophobia as the main avenue of approach, telling graphic stories of Islamic-based abuses of human rights.

REPORT ON “RESCUING HUMAN RIGHTS” CONFERENCE AT UC SAN DIEGO

Davey, a long time member of the Tikun Olam reader community, lives in San Diego and attended theRescuing Human Rights program hosted by StandWithUs at UC San Diego this week.  I wrote about the eventbefore it occurred.  His report is below:

Stand With Us and Tritons for Israel presented “Rescuing Human Rights” on Wednesday evening May 15th at the University of California San Diego.  Moderated by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, the panelists included Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney, Zuhdi Jasser, described as a “devout Muslim” and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and last and least, Avi Bell, Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University, an expert on the laws of war.

There was no organized counter demonstration, but three armed police were visibly at the ready.  On entering the auditorium, signs reminded attendees that placards and uncivil behavior would not be tolerated.  The early attendees were an older crowd, about one-half over 60 I would guess.  These attendees arrived largely as couples or families and form perhaps the loyal backbone of the local “Stand With Us” organization.

The evening began with a harangue by the moderator about the many instances of human rights violations worldwide that are not reported or investigated by certain human rights agencies, including the UN.  The list of horrors was long and graphic.  Stephens stated several times that these agencies were derelict except in the case of “one state.”  He went on to distinguish between “real” human rights abuses and the human rights issues in Israel, though the distinction was lost on me.

Jasser’s theme was that religion is an individual thing and that governments should get out of the way.  He claimed that he was freer to practice Islam in the US than in many Islamic states and that such states are dominated by Sharia law, law dispensed by clerics.

Bell emphasized that the self-appointed guardians of Human Rights are simply not doing their jobs.  He explained that private land transactions–an Arab selling his land to a Jew–is a capital crime in the West Bank and that such a law is plainly anti-Semitic.  Yet such legal restrictions on the buying and selling of land are very much on the books in Israel! Are these laws anti-Semitic, as well?  Amnesty International was faulted for finding “facts tailored to their agenda.”  One might object to such a claim by responding that, even so, they nonetheless have facts.

Finally, Ms. Goldstein offered a vivid description of the abuse of children by Islamists, teaching children the glory of martyrdom and stuffing them into suicide belts.  We should be aghast that the rights of these children are not protected and advanced.  She asked why the human rights agencies aren’t focused on these abuses.

The arguments made, the ideas broached, seem almost inconceivable to me given the sponsorship of the meeting by the State of Israel (Stand With Us.)  And that is the point:  Israel would love to change the nature of the human rights discourse, and the evening was indeed devoted to that purpose.  Yet, how can a State so utterly deficient on the subject, suddenly come to sponsor human rights events?  It is a brazen concept, even insulting.

The risk of opening debate on human rights is so severe for Israel, that one might think they would not want to take it.  Apparently, they are so bedeviled on these matters, they must feel they have nothing to lose!  But, every argument offered by the panel was specious and easily-deflated.  For example, a listing of unreported, unrecognized human rights abuses worldwide does not relieve Israel of its own culpability.  Any parent surely comes to know that the child caught doing wrong will attempt to divert blame by pointing to a sibling or a neighbor and their yet more horrendous deeds.  All parents learn to discount these transparent efforts. Yet, here it is again.  Israel’s accountability is not diminished one bit by the sins of other states.  And Jasser’s call for separation of Church and State would not play well in the Jewish State where rabbinical organizations and religion in general is State-sponsored.

Ms. Goldstein, however, was particularly smug and self-righteous in her condemnations of the Islamist abuse of children as suicide bombers, human shields, and warriors.  Here, too, the bubble is easily popped:  During Q & A, I asked, via notecard, that inasmuch as her specialty is the violations of children’s human rights, would she comment on the abuse of the 300 children killed in operation Cast Lead?  She backed away from the question, reiterating that we can agree that it is not right for Islamic children to be abused, which I took as a plea of nolo contendre. Bell, however, offered a heated response rooted in the fiction of human shields and the rules of “war” etc.  (Of course, Cast Lead was only war from the Israeli point of view as there was no actual other side, just a civilian population subjected to F-16’s and tanks!  War?  More like murder.)  Bell’s remarks were greeted with some perfunctory applause, all of it from the front section of older people, the neatly attired old guard who arrive early and fill up the first rows.

The mention of the 300 children, a fact that I cannot escape and I do not let others escape, did cast a pall, if only for the moment, over the proceedings and crashed whatever silly hope the organizers might have had that perhaps nobody would rub their collective noses in Israel’s abundantly terrible record.  Given this moment, I stalked dramatically out of the auditorium unnoticed by anyone.

My impression is that SWU has launched a crafty but potentially risky plan to engage on human rights issues and they have selected Islamophobia as the main avenue of approach, telling graphic stories of Islamic-based abuses of human rights.  The program should crash in any open forum precisely because the record in Israel is so well-known and documented by the very agencies they assault.  So, the preacher only preaches to the converted, the old-guard.

The attempt to hide the sins of Israel behind other outrages worldwide servesonly to open the door to discussion of Israel’s crimes. If SWU cannot animate new, sophisticated individuals, it is just spinning its wheels.  Let them spin:  If this is the best they can muster, I am that much more assured that I am on the right side of things here and that they will not win many young hearts and minds by this approach.  The discussion offered no insight or perspective, and is in this sense just as vapid and hypocritical as anything from Dershowitz, Oren, and the rest of the Israel gang out there.  Human rights will not be advanced or “rescued” by a paid charade such as this.