Archive for Ohio

WhatIfTheyWereMuslim?: 5 Anarchists Nabbed in Terrorist Plot to Blow up Ohio Bridge

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Ohio_Anarchist_Terrorism

The above individuals are charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials. Imagine if they were “brown” or “Muslamic” looking, this would be called a terrorist plot from the get go. (via. WhatIfTheyWereMuslim)

This piece was reported not as a “terrorist” plot but rather simply a “bomb plot”:

By Pete Williams, NBC News justice correspondent
(msnbc.com)

Federal agents have arrested five people who were plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio, an incident not connected to the anniversary of former al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden’s death, officials say.

Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on April 30 on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. Charges are pending against them.

The five were “controlled by an undercover FBI employee,” and agents had them under extensive surveillance for a long period of time. The explosives they allegedly purchased were inoperable.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

“There was never any danger,” one federal official said.

Court documents say the FBI became aware of the men in October. A confidential source told the FBI that they were acting suspiciously at a protest event, wearing masks, talking on radios, and saying they didn’t believe in peaceful protest. They carried flags associated with anarchist groups.

From that point on, the informant was in constant touch with the group members. Their goal, one of them said, was to destroy private property “to send a message to corporations.” Last November, they discussed setting off smoke grenades on Veterans Memorial Bridge in Cleveland as a diversion while they would be knocking bank signs off the tops of tall buildings downtown.

Federal officials say Wright, Baxter and Hayne describe themselves as anarchists who considered a series of evolving plots over several months.

As Stevens and Stafford came into the plot, they started talking about using explosives.

The informant brought in two people he said could help them get explosives. These people were actually FBI undercover agents. The group members agreed to buy tear gas and gas masks. Two weeks later, they said they wanted to buy plastic explosives.

A photo of the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge taken in 1995 as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record projects for the U.S. National Parks Service.

In late April, they settled on trying to blow up the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge. This bridge crosses from Brecksville, Ohio to Sagamore Hills, Ohio over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

On April 29, they met with the undercover agents and bought what they thought were two homemade bombs for $450. They planned to place them on April 30 but were arrested by the FBI.

The members of this group had a strong desire to commit acts of violence but no idea how to do it. At one point, a member of the group says what they needed was “mainly bleach,” because, he said, that’s what land mines and hand grenades were made with during World War II.

“The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

Man Pleads Guilty to Hanging Camel with Noose on Muslim’s Apartment Door in Cleveland

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Any Loonwatchers Near Steubenville, Ohio? Robert Spencer to Speak at Franciscan University

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2011 by loonwatch

Anti-Muslim activist Robert Spencer is expected to speak at the Franciscan University on Tuesday, November 8th at 7 pm. Admission is free and there will be a question and answer session. If any loonwatchers live in the area or can make the drive it would be great.

Franciscan University will be a hostile environment, so it will be like walking into the lion’s den. The universities supporters believe they are in a kulturkampf with the Obama administration, and Spencer has already spoken to an approving crowd in the past where he delivered a triumphalist message in militaristic tones.

Ultimately it is only Jesus Christ that can fight against this [Islam]~Robert Spencer

Here is the advert from Franciscan University:

STEUBENVILLE, OH—Robert Spencer, the internationally known founder of Jihad Watch, will speak at Franciscan University of Steubenville on Tuesday, November 8, at 7:00 p.m. on the topic ”Islam’s View of Christianity: Why It Matters.” The talk, which will take place in the Tony and Nina Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center, is free and open to the public.

Spencer will speak on the peculiar understanding of Christianity contained in the founding texts of Islam, how that view has shaped Islamic/Christian interactions down to the present day, and what we as Catholics and Christians can do in the face of this resurgent religion.

Spencer has studied Islamic theology, law, and history for over three decades. He currently serves as the director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Spencer has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community.

He is the author of 10 books, including Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, a refutation of moral equivalence and call for all the beneficiaries and heirs of Judeo-Christian Western civilization, whatever their own religious or philosophical perspective may be, to defend it from the global jihad.  He is coauthor, with Daniel Ali, of Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics, and editor of the essay collection The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims.

His articles on Islam and other topics have appeared in a wide array of newspapers and Web sites.

Spencer has appeared on the BBC, ABC News, CNN, FoxNews, PBS, and many other media outlets as well as on numerous radio programs including Vatican Radio.

Following his talk, Spencer will answer questions from the audience.  For more on Spencer at Franciscan University, watch a clip from his remarks at this summer’s Defending the Faith Conference.

If any loonwatchers go and record Spencer and or would like to submit a piece about their experience we will run the article with all due credit. Let us know if anyone is interested. Feel free to comment below or email us at:info@loonwatch.com.

‘We’re a culture, not a costume’: Students launch poster campaign against ‘racist’ Halloween costumes

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by loonwatch
'We're a culture, not a costume': This campaign to counter racist Halloween fancy dress was created by a student group at the Ohio University called Students Teaching Against Racism ‘We’re a culture, not a costume’: This campaign to counter racist Halloween fancy dress was created by a student group at the Ohio University called Students Teaching Against Racism

When did a suicide bomber become traditional garb for Muslims?

‘We’re a culture, not a costume’: Students launch poster campaign against ‘racist’ Halloween costumes

By DAMIEN GAYLE

Halloween is a time for parties, dressing up and having fun with a bit of harmless – but scary – make-believe.

But a group of college students are taking a stand against some costumes which, they say, can cause hurt and humiliation to people from minority ethnic groups.

Students Teaching Against Racism in Society, an Ohio University student group, have created a poster campaign to highlight the racial stereotyping all too common in Halloween party dress.

The campaign, headlined ‘We’re a culture, not a costume’, shows images of people of different ethnic groups holding up images partygoers whose costumes they say lampoon their cultures.

Above each image, the posters read: ‘This is not who I am, and this is not okay.’

They have provoked an online row over whether the costumes are actually racist, or whether they are just in good fun.

One blogger who wrote about the posters two days ago had to disable comments on her website after she got 3,000 views and comments from ‘rude, racist people.’

On the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind blog, Melissa Sipin wrote of the campaign: ‘These posters act as a public service announcement for colored [sic] communities.

‘It’s about respect, human dignity, and the acceptance of other cultures (these posters simply ask people to think before they choose their Halloween costume).’

She added: ‘What these costumes have in common is that they make caricatures out of cultures, and that is simply not okay.’

‘This is not who I am, and this is not okay’: The posters highlight the crass racial and cultural stereotypes that emerge in Halloween fancy dress each year

One poster shows a young Arab-American man holding up an image of a Halloween reveller wearing Arabic dress and a suicide bombers vest.

Another shows a Native American man holding a picture of two women with paint on their faces and feathers in their hair holding a sign reading, ‘Me wantum piece [sic]… not war.’

A third poster shows an Asian American woman holding up a picture of a woman dressed as a Japanese geisha girl, with silk kimono and heavy white foundation.

Row: Online comments have urged the students behind the campaign to ‘get a sense of humour’

On the Huffington Post, where the story has also been reported, website comments were split over whether the costumes could be judged offensive.

Many could see nothing wrong with dressing according to racial stereotypes: A user going by the screen name Masterkcb1 wrote on the site: ‘People need to get a sense of humour, and quit taking everything so seriously.

‘If I can’t dress like a bandito then nobody can dress like a ghost because I don’t have a tan and I find it offensive.’

Terrorism Training Casts Pall Over Muslim Employee

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2011 by loonwatch
John Guandolo“Terrorism Expert” John Guandolo

This cottage industry of “terror experts” needs to be reanalyzed. Walid Shoebat, John Guandolo, Robert Spencer, and there are many more.

Terrorism Training Casts Pall Over Muslim Employee

by DINA TEMPLE-RASTON (NPR)

The man at the center of this story is 59-year-old Jordanian-American Omar al-Omari. He looks very much like the college professor that he is — tweed jacket, button-down shirt, thick round glasses, drinking coffee. We met at a coffee shop near downtown Columbus, Ohio, where he laid out a series of events that ended with him being accused of having links to terrorism.

“Actually, I was out of town, out of state, attending a conference and on my way back to Columbus,” Omari said, “and I received a call from one of the attendees of this conference in which I was told my name was used repeatedly during the training. Apparently I was labeled as a suspect. They personalized the attacks. There was a promise to dig into my background, and basically, as an Arab-Muslim American, they thought I’m a suspect.”

Omari was singled out at a three-day seminar for local police and law enforcement in the Columbus area last April. The class was part of a larger nationwide initiative to help local law enforcement not just understand terrorism, but perhaps find ways to stop it. The Obama administration has set aside millions of dollars to fund these training programs, and, not surprisingly, that money has helped create an industry in which self-styled terrorism experts contract themselves out to local police departments as terrorism tutors.

There is no certification process to vet the experts. They simply present their resumes and, often through word of mouth, they get hired. The trainers tend to be former government officials. Sometimes they have had key roles in the federal government fighting terrorism. Just as often, they have not. There’s growing evidence that many of these training sessions are providing officers at the grass roots with a biased view of Muslims in America. That is what appears to have happened to Omari.

The training at the Columbus Division of Police took place over three days in mid-April 2010. The course was titled “Understanding the True Nature of the Threat to America.” Broad outlines of the curriculum are posted on the trainers’ website. The course includes a discussion about the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States; Islamic law as it relates to jihad; and the trainers say they will provide “specific examples of Muslim Brotherhood/Islamic Movement activity in the locale in which the presentation is given.” It was in that context that Omari became a target.

One of the trainers in Ohio that day was a man named John Guandolo. He’s a former FBI agent and former Marine. According to people in the training class that day and Guandolo himself, a photograph of Omari with members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a local Muslim advocacy group, was put up on the screen. According to the people who were there, Guandolo and the other visiting trainers didn’t say outright that Omari was a terrorist, but they suggested that he had links to bad people — people who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and even al-Qaida.

“I stand by what I said that day about Omari,” Guandolo told me, though he declined to say so on tape. “The facts are on my side.”

Now, to understand why the accusations against Omari were so surprising, it is important to know that at the time he ran a key Muslim outreach program for the state of Ohio. What he was doing for the state’s Department of Public Safety was considered so effective, counterterrorism officials in Washington sent him overseas to talk about it.

Omari is from Jordan. He has been living in the U.S. for 30 years, and he’s an American citizen. Even so, for people in the counterterrorism class in Columbus that day, it seemed entirely possible that he could be a terrorist. And that reaction in the room surprised a lot of people — most notably Deputy Chief Jeffrey Blackwell of the Columbus Division of Police. Blackwell is now in charge of the division’s homeland security unit.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I was shocked that a person at Omar’s level in the state of Ohio in the Department of Public Safety would have his picture displayed by an anti-terrorism group. His reputation was impugned incredibly by the speakers.”

Blackwell and other officials suspended the class to make sense of what happened. “We had a meeting and we discussed what we were witnessing right before our very eyes, what was transpiring in the lecture hall,” Blackwell said. What was so strange about Omari being singled out was that nearly everyone in the room knew him, or at least had heard of him. He was one of Ohio’s most high-visibility Muslims. Many of the visiting officers and Columbus officers had actually worked with Omari on outreach in the Muslim community.

“I knew him really well,” Blackwell said. “And I thought he was a great professional, so that was part of the reason why I was so surprised when his picture popped up in the presentation.”

But for some reason, maybe because former government officials said Omari couldn’t be trusted, Blackwell watched as some people in the room were ready to believe the worst.

“There were a large amount of people there that felt the class was in fact appropriate — that the finger-pointing and the name-calling and the nexuses that were developed and discussed were appropriate to discuss,” he said. “And then you had a huge percentage that were equally and diametrically opposed to that way of teaching and the substance of the anti-terrorism class.”

And the lesson Blackwell took from their reaction?

“That as Americans we are all over the board on our feelings about the terrorism issue,” he said. “And as a law enforcement professional, even law enforcement is divided in how they view people.”

The next day, some people came to Omari’s defense. The head of the local Joint Terrorism Task Force and one of the FBI’s top agents in Ohio both arrived at the academy and assured the class that Omari wasn’t a terrorism suspect. Everyone says that at that point the room erupted in shouts. Half the officers sided with Omari. The other half trusted the trainer, Guandolo. Blackwell said they assumed he must be privy to intelligence on Omari that he wasn’t revealing.

Guandolo suggested when I interviewed him on the phone that there were things he knew about Omari that the FBI didn’t. “We know we have our facts right, because we have to,” Guandolo said. (Nearly a dozen sources contacted by NPR in the intelligence community, the FBI and at the Department of Homeland Security said Omari has no links to terrorists or terrorism. They said the accusations against him are unfounded.)

Bill Braniff, who is in charge of the training program at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, sees what happened in Ohio as part of a larger problem.

“I think this is something that happens across the nation fairly consistently,” he said. “No one is tracking this with numbers, but anecdotally we are hearing about it all the time. The Muslim-American community is being preyed upon from two different directions. One, the jihadist recruitment and radicalization that is actively preying on their sons and daughters; and two, the elevated levels of Islamophobia — Islamophobia at worst and distrust and alienation at best.”

That distrust had real consequences in Columbus. Omari lost his job with the state of Ohio, though not because of claims that he had ties to terrorism. After that training session, officials began digging into Omari’s past, and they eventually found something: They discovered that his employment application was incomplete. He hadn’t listed all of the schools where he had worked before taking the job with the state of Ohio. Omari says he just listed places where he had taught relevant courses — courses that touched on Middle Eastern studies. But he was fired anyway — some six months after the training session.

Federal officials familiar with the case say Omari was singled out because he distinguished between extremist Muslims and mainstream Muslims in his outreach and training programs. Guandolo, the trainer, had a different view. When he talked to me about Muslim groups in the U.S., he spoke in terms of whether or not Muslims were patriotic.

 

Omari, for his part, still can’t believe he got fired. “I lost a lot of things over this,” he said. “I lost respect, dignity, reputation — everything really was connected with that, and definitely, you know, how could you defend yourself?”

Chief Blackwell says even more than a year after the episode, he’s still upset. “That was not a good day, in my opinion, for the Columbus Division of Police or law enforcement in general,” he said.

Omari filed suit last week against the Ohio Department of Public Safety and several individuals for wrongful dismissal. He said he’d love to get his job back. And the trainers who came to the Columbus police department? One of them is scheduled to hold another training session in August at the CIA.

FBI Issues Appeal For Help In ‘Hate Crime’ Investigation

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , on December 27, 2010 by loonwatch

A woman was harassed for being Muslim and sprayed with pepper spry by her attacker. Now the FBI is looking for help in the investigation. I guess Islamophobia i all made up?

FBI Issues Appeal For Help In ‘Hate Crime’ Investigation

http://vp.mgnetwork.net/viewer.swf?u=c3956d965eca102ea6fd001ec92a4a0d&z=CMH&embed_player=1
COLUMBUS, Ohio –

The FBI has issued a more detailed description of a man who apparently sprayed a Muslim woman with a pepper spray and the public is being asked to help find him.

NBC4 first told you about this story Tuesday, after a veiled woman told police she had been sprayed with some kind of chemical by a man who came up to the driver’s side window in the parking lot of a mosque.  He yelled threatening remarks and drove off.

The FBI is asking the public if they know a white male, in his 40’s or 50’s, 5 feet 9 inches tall with a medium build.  His light colored, closed-cropped beard is coupled with a long mustache.

Authorities say his teeth are in poor condition, yellowish with several missing.  He has light-colored eyes.

The image of the vehicle he was driving was captured on surveillance video. It’s a white Jeep Cherokee from the late 80’s or early 90’s and has a roof rack and black wheels.

Anyone with information on the man or vehicle is asked to contact the FBI at 614-744-2144 or Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.

The woman did not suffer serious injury in the incident.

 

Breaking News: Fathima Rifqa Bary to be Returned to Ohio

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by loonwatch

Breaking News: Rifqa Bary to be returned to Ohio

Fathima Rifqa Bary
Fathima Rifqa Bary

Judge Daniel Dawson who has been presiding over the Fathima Rifqa Bary case in Florida has ruled that she should return home to Ohio where she will be staying with a foster family. No doubt the fanatical anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing nuts will be labeling the judge a dhimmi for following the law. They tried their hardest to smear this family and Muslims with everything they could, including lies, today it finally seems that this case which should have been decided from the very beginning is finally drawing to a close.

Fathima Rifqa Bary is likely coming home to Ohio, the state she fled nearly three months ago, saying she feared death for her conversion to Christianity.

But she’ll be staying in a foster home, not her parents’ Northeast Side apartment.

Jurisdiction in the 17-year-old’s case should be transferred from Florida to Ohio, judges in both states decided via conference call yesterday.

Dependency cases were filed in both states to determine whether the girl should be returned to her parents, who she says would harm her for leaving Islam.

“I believe this is the home state and the most convenient forum with respect to the issues as I understand them,” said Franklin County Juvenile Judge Elizabeth Gill.

Judge Daniel P. Dawson of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida agreed, but he required certain steps be taken before she is returned.

Rifqa ran away in July, saying her father threatened to kill her for becoming a Christian. Mohamed Bary denied her accusations, and a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found no credible threats to her safety.

She could be back in Ohio by Oct. 27, when a hearing is scheduled in Franklin County Juvenile Court, said Dawson, speaking from Orlando.

But before ordering her into the care of Franklin County Children Services, Dawson wanted two issues settled.

He asked for documented assurance that Rifqa’s online schooling can continue in Ohio. Dawson also asked that Rifqa’s parents provide all paperwork related to her immigration status before she crosses state lines.

The immigration status of Rifqa, a native of Sri Lanka, is unclear. Her guardian ad litem in Florida said she may not be in the United States legally.

It isn’t yet clear exactly when Rifqa will return, or how she will be transported. She will receive a psychological evaluation when she gets here.

Dawson asked whether the Barys could simply dismiss the Ohio dependency case because they filed it themselves in an attempt to transfer jurisdiction.

Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Julian said they would not agree to dismiss the case. A Children Services official added that it would not be in Rifqa’s or her family’s best interest for her to live at home at this time.

In Gill’s courtroom yesterday, Mohamed Bary and his wife, Aysha, sat calmly between their attorneys. They laughed when they heard Rifqa’s Florida attorney, John Stemberger, say that she was in danger of being sent back to Sri Lanka where she could be killed or institutionalized.

Stemberger also said Rifqa wants to stay in Florida.

After the hearing, the Barys and their 18-year-old son, Rilvan, said they were told not to comment. Rifqa’s Ohio attorney, Kort Gatterdam, cited a gag order in declining to comment.

Dawson expressed frustration during the hearing that the Barys had not provided Rifqa’s immigration paperwork after repeated requests.

He gave them 10 business days to comply, under threat of being found in contempt of court.

He also ordered the release of the 110-page transcript of a nearly three-hour interview with Rifqa that was conducted by Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators. But some information must be redacted first, he said, not specifying an exact release date.

mheagney@dispatch.com

Pamela Geller, who has invested so much in this case, even making up lies whole cloth and trying to pass it on as “investigative journalism” is not pleased. In her usual shrill and radically bigoted style she writes that this is a “slow motion execution, shariah style.” Practically that the American system of law is Shariah. The woman is nuts. At the same time Robert Spencer takes his talking points from Pam and writes that “US court capitulates to shariah.” What fantasy land are they living in? My guess is when this case is over, as it soon will be, you will see Spencer distance himself from the case by remaining silent on it, or as per his practice declare victory.

Michael Kruse: How Real are Runaway’s Fears of Being Killed

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by loonwatch
kruse_michael_wp_10347a
Michael Kruse

This is another excellent article by Michael Kruse on the Fathima Rifqa Bary case. It explores the charges made by anti-Islam bloggers as well as Rifqa herself. He also gets the opinions of various Islamic scholars on the issues that have been raised by the case, separating truth from fiction.

How Real Are Runaway’s Fears of Being Killed for Becoming Christian?

Will religious runaway Rifqa Bary be killed if she’s sent home to Ohio?

Bary is the 17-year-old girl who fled to Florida in July because she’s terrified that her Muslim family has to murder her due to her conversion to Christianity.

Authorities in both states say there’s no “credible” threat against her. Investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement say her fear is “subjective and speculative.” Her parents say they don’t want to hurt her and just want her back.

She’s living with a foster family as a court in Orlando tries to decide what to do with her. The next hearing is Monday afternoon. Attorneys for her parents are expected to argue that the case should be shifted to Ohio.

This is a good time to pause for a bit and take another look at her Aug. 10 interview with local TV. It remains this ongoing story’s primary source.

“I’m fighting for my life!” she said in her nearly seven-minute interview with Orlando’s WFTV. “You guys don’t understand!”

Let’s understand then.

• • •

“Imagine the honor in killing me,” she said. “It’s in the Koran.”

It’s not. Here’s what is.

One verse: “If any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.”

Another verse: “If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them.”

Those are parts of the two verses Robert Spencer cites to support his belief that Bary will be killed because Islam says she must be killed.

Spencer blogs at JihadWatch.org. He’s written nine books, with titles like Stealth Jihad, The Truth About Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Two of them have been New York Times bestsellers. In Stealth Jihad, published last year, he writes of the coming “Islamic conquest of North America” and urges this country’s schools to stop “the empty rhetoric of inclusion and multiculturalism.”

Here are some other things the Koran says.

One verse: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

Another verse: “Show kindness to parents, and to family.”

The Koran, like many other holy texts, is long, complicated and at times contradictory, and over centuries different people have had and continue to have different interpretations.

Bary has committed apostasy. That means she was a Muslim and now she’s not.

“The Koran condemns apostasy,” said Jonathan Berkey, a professor of Islamic studies at Davidson College in North Carolina, “but the verses about seizing and slaying ‘renegades’ concerned enemies of the prophet Muhammad’s state, people who posed a political or even military threat.

“For others,” he said, “the Koran implies that apostasy is something that God will punish.”

Not people. Not in this life.

• • •

“They have to kill me,” she said.

Let’s acknowledge this right here: There’s no way to know for sure if her parents, or anyone else for that matter, will kill her.

But this can be said with certainty: They don’t have to.

This idea, though, comes from sharia, or Islamic law. There is one Koran but there is no single sharia. It comes from many sources, including the Koran, and is “more like a discussion by Muslim scholars concerning the duties a Muslim should perform,” said Valerie Hoffman, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Illinois.

Most Muslim jurists say apostasy is punishable by death — but not all of them. It is “the heart of a burning debate among modern Muslims,” said Sherman Jackson, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan.

“There are lots of liberal Muslims today who feel that there should never be any execution of people who convert from Islam to another religion,” Hoffman said. “You can’t say Islam says this or Islam says that.”

Also important is the fact that sharia is law only to the extent that specific governments choose to enforce it as such. Some governments in the Muslim world do. Most don’t. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Its government does not.

“Sharia is just not applied very often, particularly in the modern world,” Berkey said. “There are few places in the Muslim world where much at all of sharia is applied with the force of law.”

Apostasy executions are rare.

An official at the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom told the New York Times in 2006 that he knew of four: one in Sudan, in 1985; two in Iran, in 1989 and 1998; and one in Saudi Arabia, in 1992.

In the case of Bary, which government would order her execution for apostasy — Ohio, Florida, the United States?

“The allegation that Muslim parents would be required to kill an apostate daughter is absurd,” said Carl Ernst, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina, “particularly if there is no evidence to back this up besides the daughter’s statement.”

• • •

“I don’t know if you know about honor killings,” she said.

Honor killings are real. The United Nations Population Fund says there could be as many as 5,000 a year worldwide.

Honor killings are usually when a man in a family kills a woman in that family because of some shame the man believes she brought on the family. It typically involves some sort of perceived sexual impropriety, anything from promiscuity to adultery to dating the wrong guy or dressing too “Western.” Sometimes, women are killed after they’re raped.

Honor killings happen mostly in the Muslim world. In the last couple of years, though, there was a double murder some called an honor killing in Texas, there was one in Georgia, there was another in upstate New York.

But honor killings and apostasy executions are not the same thing.

“This is a basic mistake of conflating two things,” said Brett Wilson, a professor of Islamic studies at Macalester College in Minnesota.

Ernst, the professor from UNC, called honor killings “a local or tribal custom,” having far more to do with culture than religion — “more or less equivalent,” he wrote in an e-mail, “to the so-called ‘unwritten law,’ honored by judges in Texas at least through the 1950s, which considered it legitimate for a husband to kill his wife and her lover if he discovered them in a compromising situation.”

• • •

To believe absolutely that the girl from Ohio will be killed if she’s sent home, you have to believe that there’s no variation in the interpretation of Islam — no Sunni, no Shia, no Sufism — among the approximately billion and a half Muslims worldwide, stretching from Southeast Asia to Africa to the Middle East to Europe to Florida and Ohio. Saying all Muslims have exactly the same rigid and literal beliefs and act on those beliefs in exactly the same ways is like saying the same thing about Christians.

Times news researchers Shirl Kennedy and Will Short Gorham contributed to this report. Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

Fathima Rifqa Bary Update: No Abuse Found

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2009 by loonwatch
Fathima Rifqa Bary
Fathima Rifqa Bary

Fathima Rifqa Bary Update: No Abuse Found

We have been keeping track of the Fathima Rifqa Bary case which the anti-Muslim blogsphere has invested a lot in;  attempting to further their agenda of demonizing Islam and Muslims. The fact that they don’t care much about this young girl or her family is obvious, they just want to score points in their tireless crusade against Muslims.

It seems slowly but surely the case is being resolved and more and more facts are coming out. The anti-Muslim blogsphere lead by the wacky Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been casting the family as fanatical, abusive, wanting to kill their daughter. They have cast unsubstantiated allegations on the local Mosque in Columbus, Ohio saying it is a haven for terrorists, even when it has been proved a bastion of moderation.

Now Mike Kruse of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) have reported that there is “no evidence whatsoever of alleged abuse or threats of death made by the girl’s parents.” Continue reading

Fathima Rifqa Bary Update: Mike Thomas on the Noor Mosque

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2009 by loonwatch
Fathima Rifqa Bary

Fathima Rifqa Bary

Mike Thomas is a journalist with the Orlando Sentinel which has been following and reporting on the Fathima Rifqa Bary case. The case of the young runaway has garnered much attention and many of the Islamophobes and anti-Muslims have much invested in it. Recently, conservative attorney John Stemberger who volunteered to represent Rifqa is now claiming that the real danger to the girl comes from the Mosque that her father attends.

Mike Thomas wanted to check if these sentiments were truly held by the neighbors of the Mosque or those who knew it, in a blog titled This is a Terrorist Mosque?, Thomas writes,

Attorney John Stemberger, who volunteered to represent Rifaq Bary, now claims that the real danger to the girl is her father’s mosque – the Noor Islamic Cultural Center – which he says is radical and has ties to terrorism.

I checked that with Rabbi Misha Zinkow, of Temple Israel, who spoke at the Noor center earlier this year at an inter-faith gathering.

“Their presence in the community is a positive one,” he said. “My interaction with the Muslim community has been very positive.”

I then asked the Rabbi if Columbus was a hotbed of Islamic extremism, another charge I frequently hear.

“I don’t think I would echo those sentiments,” he said.

The Noor Islamic Cultural Center also is a member of B.R.E.A.D., a social justice organization that includes a number of Protestant churches (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc) , Catholic churches, Episcopalian churches, Temples and even the Unitarians.

Earlier this month, the Center had an interfaith session on homeland security.

Here is a promo the Center put out on Youtube. You can see all those middle-aged, crazy terrorists flipping burgers and hot dogs on the grill.

Mike Thomas shows that this Mosque is far from the “terrorist Mosque” that it is being painted as by Rifqa’s attorney, but will it be enough for those who are using the Fathima Rifqa Bary case for their own agenda to stop their crusade to paint the Mosque as a haven for terrorism whose members will kill Rifqa if returned?

LoonWatchers might have noticed that the anti-Muslim blogsphere with the likes of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have been reporting on this case constantly and have invested a lot in it, pushing full throttle to see to it that Fathima R. Bary does not end up with her parents and instead stays in Florida. Just today Robert Spencer posted a blog requesting his supporters to contact (pressure) the Florida court to keep Rifqa there. For them it is a high stakes game in the war against Muslims, so if Fathima is returned to her parents and the courts find that her life  is not in threat they will end up with major egg on their faces.

Fairfield County Weekly: Fathima Rifqa Bary Case Doesn’t Add Up

Posted in Loon Blogs, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by loonwatch
Fathima Rifqa Bary
Fathima Rifqa Bary

There is a great editorial in the Fairfield County Weekly that highlights some of the obfuscation and outright prejudice that has resulted from the Fathima Rifqa Bary case. The girl who ran away from her house in Ohio and joined a Christian pastor’s family in Florida and is now being held in foster care until a judge can ascertain whether or not she should be returned home. She has made serious allegations against her family that they will kill her if she is returned to them.

The article points out some logical fallacies that many in the right wing propaganda media have been perpetuating such as the one from loony blogger Pamela Geller who says that according to a secret “source” of hers, she knows that Fathima’s father has forced her to wear hijab. How does this jibe with the fact that her father also allowed her to be a cheerleader? Or the fact that there isn’t one picture of her on the internet when she is with family or not where she is wearing a hijab?

You Don’t Have to Act like a Refugee

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Comments (2),By FCW Editorial

Rifqa Bary says that if she’s sent back to Ohio her father Mohamed will kill her. The 17-year-old, whose family immigrated from Sri Lanka, says she converted to Christianity from Islam four years ago, having picked up the religion from friends at school where she’s an honors student and cheerleader. This led to four years of beatings from her father and brothers, according the right-wing blogs salivating over Rifqa’s story.

“Beatings were random, violent, unprovoked,” writes Pamela Geller, the “citizen journalist, citizen soldier” who runs the site Atlas Shrugs. “Take, for example, when Rifqa and her father Mohammad [sic] were driving in the car. He would force her to wear the hijab, which she hated. In her discomfort she would slouch down, embarrassed, and her father would haul off and sock her in the face so that she never forgot to sit up straight in her costume.” Finally, her father told her he’d kill her for shaming the family, the teen says.

So Rifqa met a husband-and-wife Christian ministry team on Facebook, ran away from home and rode a Greyhound to their doorstep. Luckily, they live in Florida, a state where no dispute can ever be handled quickly or sensibly. (Elián González, Terry Schiavo, the 2000 recount.) She is now in foster care and a Florida juvenile court is deciding whether or not to send her back to Ohio.

Newsmax, WorldNetDaily and other conservative news sources have dedicated a lot of bandwidth to this story. Faux News is the most reliable national news source to more than glimpse at it, and only the Columbus Dispatch and Orlando Sentinel are dealing out real information.

This may be why no one has realized this story is full of holes. (Most of these people haven’t even noticed the Book of Genesis is full of holes.)

Mohamed Bary, a jeweler, beats his daughter for being embarrassed at wearing a hijab but also lets her prance around in a cheerleading uniform before a crowd every Friday night? We’ve never even seen a picture of Rifqa Bary in a hijab; in the myriad pictures floating around the Internet, she’s in typical Gap-ish clothing. She also had very unrestricted Facebook access for someone living in tyranny. She says she was at the bottom of a family dogpile for four years, but neither school officials in Ohio or the DCF agents in Florida have found as much as a bruise. The chief of the Columbus police missing persons bureau said Mr. Bary “comes across to me a loving, caring, worried father about the whereabouts and the health of his daughter.”

Christian crusaders haven’t dug up any dirt on Mr. Bary. They note a radical cleric and members of a terrorist cell have passed through Columbus area mosques and that a similar “honor killing” happened in Dallas — in other words, They’re all the same! They cite not the Koran but interpretations of Islamic law saying Bary would have to kill his daughter. Good thing she is not coming back to a family of Christians; their holy book says rebellious teens should be stoned (Deut. 21:18-21).

Clearly, this is not about Mohamed Bary; it’s about Islam and continuing irrational prejudice against it.

Rifqa Bary may not be lying exactly — the repressed memory fad proved confused people can come to believe terrible things about their families — but her story only adds up if you assume all Muslim men are secretly savages sworn to kill the infidel.

This is how the rabid right operates. Disregarding evidence or common sense, they follow the story line that makes sense to them — be it that Democrats are overhauling health care to implement “death panels” or that an ethnically complicated liberal in the White House must be a Kenyan citizen at the heart of a Dan Brown–sized conspiracy.

Here’s where this kind of thinking (of lack thereof) can lead us: The law-abiding Bary family is worried, reunion or no, it may have to return to Sri Lanka because of all the negative attention. So because of right-wing paranoia, a family may actually leave the U.S. because of religious persecution.

I wonder if Pamela Geller or her friends Sheikyermami and Robert Spencer have an answer to this?

Robert Spencer: Self-declared Scholar v. Real Scholar on the Fatimah Rifqa Bary Case

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by loonwatch
Andrew Bostom and "Islamic Scholar" Robert Spencer

Andrew Bostom and “Islamic Scholar” Robert Spencer

Read full story here.

The Right-Wing anti-Muslim loonocracy and its minions in the blogosphere have secured a new cause to rally around, ironically enough it once again involves a Muslim minor, and in this regard, the anti-Muslim blogosphere really doesn’t have a good track record.  As recent history has proved, the last time the anti-Muslim blogosphere got this riled up about Muslim minors they turned up with egg on their faces.

After viewing a picture online of a wedding in Gaza, with grooms holding the hands of their young female cousins and nieces, the Islamophobia hit epic proportions with accusations of pedophilia being flung about wily-nily without nary a fact check. Tim Marshall, who reported on the wedding wrote about the Islamophobic response to the wedding,

Our report on this put it into context saying that it took place just a mile from the Israeli border and was a message from Hamas about its strength confidence and future fighters. Oh and that the brides were elsewhere. Pretty straightforward.

It never struck me for a moment that the little girls might later be described in the bloggersphere as the brides! How naive I am.

Dozens, and I mean dozens, of websites took the video of the event and wrote lurid stories about Hamas mass paedophilia with headlines about ‘450 child brides’, and endless copy about how disgusting this was, how it showed how depraved Islam is, et al, ad infinitum. Site after site jumped on the story, linking from one totally wrong load of rubbish to the next.

Robert Spencer was amongst the bloggers that falsely reported the incident as an instance of pedophilia.

The Fatimah Rifqa Bary Case

This time the case involves 17 year old Fatimah Rifqa Bary the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who came to America in 2000 seeking treatment for her vision problems. And before you could say “expediency,” the typical hordes of vultures started cycling, not so much out of interest for the girl’s welfare or the facts of the story, but as what they saw as a golden opportunity to reaffirm their caricature of Islam and Muslims as a dangerous cancer lurking within an otherwise good and pure Western civilization. Continue reading