Archive for Quran burning

Senator Russ Feingold Takes on Islamophobia

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by loonwatch
Senator Feingold
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Photo: BarackObama.com

Senator Russ Feingold Takes on Islamophobia

by Nayantara MukherjiThe University of Wisconsin, Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold is known for taking on monumental challenges. In 2001 he was the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act. These days, Feingold has turned his attention to another cause—US foreign policy. At a talk in Madison, Wisconsin, about his new book, While America SleepsFeingold argued for increased American engagement with the rest of the world. He said 9/11 highlighted the importance of engaging and understanding the rest of the world, and criticized Democrats and Republicans alike for failing to heed the message.

In making his case, Feingold, a Jewish-American, did not lose sight of domestic issues, pointing out the impact 9/11 had on the lives of Muslim Americans. He likened the situation to Japanese internment during World War II.

In the last couple of years, there have been a number of incidents where people have used the issue of alleged Muslim extremism in this country to justify things like outlawing a mosque in Southern Manhattan, the burning of Qur’ans and most despicably, hearings held by Peter King in Washington specifically focusing on so-called Muslim terrorism, as opposed to the terrorism phenomenon in general.

Feingold bemoaned the fact that the post-9/11 era has made Muslims feel like second-class citizens in their own country.

Their hope is that they can once again someday feel like they’re not strangers in their own country. … Naturally, it must be very frustrating for Muslims to have their religion characterized in a way that is essentially wrong. Islam is not a religion of the kind that’s described by the political opportunists in this country.

Feingold also argued against the characterization of Islamic values as contrary to democratic values. He recounted his experience meeting with the Madison-area Muslim community after 9/11, but long before the Arab Spring.

The thing that really angered them was that we spoke of the virtues of democracy and human rights and women’s rights, and yet we supported despots throughout the Islamic world who did just the opposite. … Even though it’s not specifically about the religious element, it’s a very significant thing in terms of the way American Muslims and Arabs think about our international policy.

Nayantara Mukherji is a journalist, editor, Inside Islam radio producer, and a recent addition to the Inside Islam writing team at the University of Wisconsin.

Angry, Paranoid and Sporting a Fu Manchu: A Triumphant Terry Jones Does Dearborn

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2012 by loonwatch

Terry Jones

Terry Jones is a crackpot “Reverand” who gained infamy by publicly burning the Qur’an.

Last year Jones was denied a permit to protest on Good Friday in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, prompting howls of protest all across the looniverse. Anti-Muslim bigots accused the court of subverting the US Constitution and caving in to Sharia.

Dearborn is home to America’s largest Muslim community, and a model of interfaith tolerance. Jews, Christians, and Muslims responded to Jones’ hateful message by holding their own rally and carrying a banner that read:

“We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith.”

Before and during the rally, hundreds of people signed a 50-foot-long banner that exhorted them to oppose Jones and remember the best parts of their faith. Jones was briefly jailed and banned from returning to the mosque for three years.

This year, a Michigan judge overturned the decision to ban Jones, and the “Reverend,” dressed in a dapper black leather ensemble and sporting a carefully trimmed fu manchu, delivered an impassioned speech about the grave danger Islam poses to America–to all 20 of his supporters.

Florida pastor at Dearborn protest: ‘Islam has one goal — that is world domination’

By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Speaking today in front of the biggest mosque in Michigan, the Florida pastor known for burning the Quran blasted Islam and called upon Americans to take back their country.

Islam has one goal — that is world domination,” said Terry Jones, wearing sunglasses, jeans and a faded black-leather jacket. “It’s time to stand up.”

Holding signs in English and Arabic that read “I Will Not Submit,” about 20 supporters cheered as Jones and his assistant spoke outside the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn mosque that sits off Ford Road. Framed by the mosque’s minarets, Jones said he’s concerned that the growth of the Muslim population in metro Detroit and the U.S. will lead to the oppression of non-Muslims.

“Muslims, no matter they go around the world … they push their agenda on the society,” said Jones. “We must take back America.”

The mosque was placed on lockdown Saturday afternoon, with about 30 police cars from Detroit, Dearborn, Wayne County and Michigan surrounding the complex, which also includes several churches. Traffic in and out was prevented, disappointing some worshippers who were not aware of Jones’ rally and couldn’t access the mosque. During the anti-Muslim rally, an electronic billboard with the Islamic Center read: “Happy Easter.”

About 500 feet from Jones was a group of counter-protesters, some of whom were with an activist organization, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). Police prevented them from approaching the grassy area in front of the mosque where Jones spoke. Muslim leaders had urged people not to attend the counter-protest. Unlike Jones’ last two visits to Dearborn, this one was uneventful with no arrests and no street clashes.

Jones said during his talk that he’s also concerned about the free speech rights of Americans. Over the past year, Jones has battled the City of Dearborn for the right to speak in front of the mosque. Last year, a Dearborn judge threw him briefly in jail and ordered him to stay away from the mosque for three years. That decision was later overturned by a Detroit judge.

Last month, the city asked Jones to sign a legal agreement before protesting. Jones then filed a lawsuit, prompting a Detroit federal judge to rule Thursday in his favor. Jones was represented for free in his battles with the city by the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian group established by Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan.

During the talk, some supporters of Jones made derogatory remarks and jokes about Muslims. When Jones criticized Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson during his speech, one supporter blurted out: “Throw ‘em in the pit with the Muslims.”

After the rally, supporters of Jones posed for photos in front of the mosque.

A crew from Real Catholic TV, a media outlet based in Ferndale that’s owned by a member of Opus Dei, was at the rally. Its host, Michael Voris, said he supports Jones’ right to free speech and some of his views. Jones, who was a pastor in Germany, said Europe is increasingly under the sway of Islamic law.

“There are whole sections of London ruled by sharia law,” Voris said. “I think there’s the potential to happen in the U.S. what has happened — and is happening — in Europe.”

Tim Voss, 64, of Wayne, said he came Saturday to support Jones because “sharia law is the most dangerous thing. We can’t have it in this country.”

Down the road, counter-protester Laura Dennis, 38, of Detroit, held up a sign that read: “God Loves Us All.”

Speaking about Jones, Dennis said: “This guy’s just a hate monger, no different from the Klan or a Nazi.”

America’s Islamic Blind Spots: “You can do anything to these people”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , on March 3, 2012 by loonwatch
Bagram
Soldiers at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Dozens of people have been killed in the violence that erupted after American personnel burned Qur’ans on a US air base in Afghanistan.

Activist and author Naomi Wolf provides another perspective, with a focus on the historical and cultural significance of burning a conquered people’s sacred texts.

America’s Islamic Blind Spots

by , The Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – In the wake of the Koran-burning by troops at the United States’ Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, protests continue to escalate, and the death toll mounts. In the process, three US blind spots have become obvious.

One is that of the US media, whose coverage simply underscores – and amplifies – the stunning cluelessness that triggered the protests in the first place. Professional journalists are obliged to answer five questions: who, what, where, why, and how. But, reading reports from The Associated PressThe New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others, I searched exhaustively before I could form any picture of what had actually been done to the Korans in question. Not only did accounts conflict; none offered a clear notion of who had allegedly done what, let alone why or how.

 Naomi WolfNaomi Wolf

Were Korans burned, as one US report had it, under the oversight of US military officials? Or were they brought by soldiers for incineration, as another version maintained, as part of a haul of “extremist literature” and prisoners’ personal communications, with Afghan workers alerting others at the base to the nature of the material?

These murky accounts – with no clear subjects or actions (The New York Times, incredibly, managed not to describe the burning at all) – reflect what happens when major news outlets appear simply to take dictation from the Pentagon.

The second US blind spot is the politicization of this terrible affront. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has called Obama’s apology a “surrender,” while another Republican contender, Rick Santorum, is offended that anyone is suggesting that the US should bear any “blame.”

This absence of perspective reveals the cultural ignorance that has turned recent US foreign interventions into political catastrophes. I, too, come from an Abrahamic religion, Judaism, which shares strong roots with Islam. In both faiths, sacred texts are treated as if they are, in a sense, living beings. Jews, too, give them “burials’ when they are too old to use, and treat them ritualistically while they are “alive,” using silver pointers to avoid profaning them with human hands, dressing them in velvet jackets, and kissing them when they fall to the ground.

Burning a conquered people’s sacred texts sends an unmistakable message: you can do anything to these people. As Heinrich Heine put it, referring to the Spanish Inquisition‘s burning of the Koran, “Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings.” Jews understand that very well: from the Inquisition to Cossack massacres to Kristallnacht, the aggressors destroyed Torahs as a logical and well-understood precursor to destroying Jews.

The third blind spot is almost too painful to bear having to address – which, on a charitable interpretation, might explain why not one mainstream US media report has done so: the burnings were not carried out on some street in Kabul, but at Bagram. That is, Korans were burned at a US facility that meets the dictionary definition of a concentration camp.

In 2009, Spiegel Online ran a portrait gallery about Bagram titled “America’s Torture Chamber.” In “The Forgotten Guantánamo,” it reported that 600 people were being held at Bagram without charge. All were termed “unlawful enemy combatants,” allowing the US to claim that they have no right to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. A military prosecutor said that, compared to Bagram, Guantánamo Bay was “a nice hotel.”

Indeed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, invariably described in the US as “the self-proclaimed chief architect of 9/11,” told the Red Cross that at Bagram he had been suspended by shackles and sexually assaulted: “I was made to lie on the floor. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside.” Another prisoner, Raymond Azar, testified that ten FBI agents had abducted him, shown him photos of his family, and told him that if he didn’t “cooperate,” he would never see them again.

The BBC collated testimony in 2010 from nine prisoners confirming that human-rights abuses continued at Bagram. The prisoners independently described “a secret prison” inside the prison, called “the black hole.” Prisoners were still being subjected at the time to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation, and “other abuses.” One testified that a US soldier had used a rifle to knock out a row of his teeth, and that he was forced to dance to music whenever he needed to use the bathroom.

Another investigation confirmed similar allegations in 2010, and last month the BBC reported that Bagram’s prison population had reached 3,000, while an Afghan-led investigation found still more allegations of ongoing torture, including freezing temperatures and sexual humiliations.

Of course, since the US military can detain anyone in Afghanistan, and hold him or her without charge in these conditions forever, the entire country lives under the shadow of torture at Bagram. The Koran burnings are a potent symbol of that systemic threat.

So, while Obama should continue to apologize for the Koran burnings, we must understand that Afghans’ rage is a response to an even deeper, rawer wound. Obama should also apologize for kidnapping Afghans; for holding them at Bagram without due process of law; for forcing them into cages, each reportedly holding up to 30 prisoners; for denying them Red Cross/Red Crescent visits; for illegally confiscating family letters; for torturing and sexually abusing them; and for casting a pall of fear over the country.

The Koran forbids that kind of injustice and cruelty. So does the Bible.

Naomi Wolf is a political activist and social critic whose most recent book is Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries.

Qur’an Burning: The causes of the protests in Afghanistan

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch
Afghan ProtestersAfghans carry a protester injured during an anti-U.S. demonstration in the northern city of Kunduz. (Ezatullah Pamir, Associated Press)

More than 30 people have been killed in the violence that erupted after American personnel burned Qur’ans on a US air base in Afghanistan.

In the wake of the protests, many are asking, “Why are Afghan Muslims so angry over burning the Qur’an?

After all, it’s just a book! Why would Muslims get violent over it!?! 

Glenn Greenwald explains why misleading media coverage leaves the public with a false impression.

The causes of the protests in Afghanistan

by Glenn Greenwald, Salon

(H/T: Saladdin)

Most American media accounts and commentary about the ongoing violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan depict their principal cause as anger over the burning of Korans (it’s just a book: why would people get violent over it?) — except that Afghans themselves keep saying things like this:

Protesters in Kabul interviewed on the road and in front of Parliament said that this was not the first time that Americans had violated Afghan cultural and religious traditions and that an apology was not enough.

This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” said Maruf Hotak, 60, a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.

“They always admit their mistakes,” he said. “They burn our Koran and then they apologize. You can’t just disrespect our holy book and kill our innocent children and make a small apology.”

And:

Members of Parliament called on Afghans to take up arms against the American military, and Western officials said they feared that conservative mullahs might incite more violence at the weekly Friday Prayer, when a large number of people worship at mosques.

Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,” said Abdul Sattar Khawasi, a member of Parliament from the Ghorband district in Parwan Province, where at least four demonstrators were killed in confrontations with the police on Wednesday.

The U.S. has violently occupied their country for more than a decade. It has, as Gen. Stanley McChrystal himself explained, killed what he called an “amazing number” of innocent Afghans in checkpoint shootings. It has repeatedly — as in, over and over — killed young Afghan children in air strikes. It continues to imprison their citizens for years at Bagram and other American bases without charges of any kind and with credible reports of torture and other serious abuses. Soldiers deliberately shot Afghan civilians for fun and urinated on their corpses and displayed them as trophies.

Meanwhile, the protesters themselves continue to be shot, although most American media accounts favor sentences like these which whitewash who is doing the killing: “running clashes with the police that claimed the lives of another five Afghan protesters” and “in Nangarhar Province, two Afghans protesting the Koran burning were shot to deathoutside an American base in Khogyani District” and “protesters angry over the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan this week took to the streets in demonstrations in a half-dozen provinces on Wednesday that left at least seven dead and many more injured.”Left at least seven dead: as As’ad AbuKhalil observed, “notice that there is no killer in the phrasing.”

It’s comforting to believe that these violent protests and the obviously intense anti-American rage driving them is primarily about anger over the inadvertent burning of some religious books: that way, we can dismiss the rage as primitive and irrational and see the American targets as victims. But the Afghans themselves are making clear that this latest episode is but the trigger for — the latest symbol of — a pile of long-standing, underlying grievances about a decade-old, extremely violent foreign military presence in their country. It’s much more difficult to dismiss those grievances as the by-product of primitive religious fanaticism, so — as usual — they just get ignored.

UPDATE: Beyond all these points, it’s perversely fascinating to watch all of this condescension — it’s just a book: who cares if it’s burned?  – pouring forth from a country whose political leaders were eager to enact a federal law or even a Constutional amendment to make it a criminal offense to burn the American flag (which, using this parlance, is “just a piece of cloth”). In fact, before the Supreme Court struck down such statutes as unconstitutional in 1989 by a 5-4 vote, it was a crime in 48 states in the nation to burn the flag. Here is what Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote in dissent about why the Constitution permits the criminalization of flag burning (emphasis added):

The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another “idea” or “point of view” competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence, regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have.

Might one say the same for Muslims and the Koran? Along those lines, just imagine what would happen if a Muslim army invaded the U.S., violently occupied the country for more than a decade, in the process continuously killing American children and innocent adults, and then, outside of a prison camp it maintained where thousands of Americans were detained for years without charges and tortured, that Muslim army burned American flags — or a stack of bibles — in a garbage dump. Might we see some extremely angry protests breaking out from Americans against them? Would American pundits be denouncing those protesters as blinkered, primitive fanatics?

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2011 by loonwatch

Someone should tell pastor Terry Jones that all Arabs are not Muslims and all Muslims are not Arabs.

Florida pastor Terry Jones returning to Michigan to protest Islam

Terry Jones, the Quran-burning pastor from Florida, is to lead a three-hour rally against Islam today at Dearborn City Hall followed by a 2-mile walk to the Arab International Festival, where he will further speak out. The three-day festival is the largest outdoor gathering of Arab Americans in the U.S. and is held in Dearborn, known for its sizable Muslim population.

Jones, who led a rally at City Hall in April, gained worldwide attention for his threats to burn the Quran last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He didn’t go through with it, but he led a Quran-burning in Florida in March. He tried to protest outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn in April, but a jury ruled he would likely breach the peace, thwarting his plans. Jones has appealed that decision, which was criticized by the ACLU and some constitutional law experts as an infringement of his free-speech rights.

Jones said the decision was an example of sharia, or Islamic law, coming to America, which he said is a growing threat. Today, Jones plans to speak out against sharia again as part of a five-point plan he said will help fight Islam. One point calls for the “monitoring of all mosques to assure that they are places of worship and not of Islamic propaganda.”

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. has said repeatedly that the city has never implemented sharia.

In a letter sent this week to residents, O’Reilly said Jones and his supporters “are coming here to promote the concept that Islam is a false faith and that Muslims by teaching and nature are violent. We know that there is no substance to their message — their goal is to promote fear and hatred in others.”

Referring to Jones supporters, O’Reilly said he is urging the public to “ignore them and their empty words. Their goal is to bait and anger us so that they can then misrepresent who we are in order to serve their personal agenda.

“Debating them and confronting them at this event or in our city can produce no positive result for us.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com

Quran-shredding event may occur, but officials condemn it

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by loonwatch

We have seen the Qu’ran burnt, put on trial and now about to be shredded. Is it a shock that this is in Allen West’s backyard?

Quran-shredding event may occur, but officials condemn it

By Rebekah Monson, Sun Sentinel

10:53 a.m. EDT, May 25, 2011

Boca Raton officials have condemned a man’s plan to shred a Quran in a downtown park on Memorial Day, but say they cannot stop the event.

“On behalf of the Mayor and City Council and the city administration, we find the prospect of the deliberate desecration of a sacred text to be abhorrently offensive. We request that you not proceed with this act,” Deputy City Manager George Brown wrote Wednesday in a letter to Mark Rowley, who requested a permit to hold the event in Sanborn Square.

City officials determined that the event does not require a permit because it is a free-speech action, Brown wrote. Rowley’s initial request, to burn a Quran in the park, was denied because the city prohibits fires in parks.
http://sun-sentinel.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

Terry Jones: Mustachioed Yosemite Sam Going to Dearborn

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by loonwatch

The loon’s at it again.

Update: As’ad Abu Khalil mentions that the portion about the supposed death threat against Jones from Hizbollah is a fabrication:

Seeking fame and publicity, kooky pastor, Terry Jones said that Hizbullah put a bounty on his head.  It is made up.  There is no evidence of that whatsoever.  But then again: you can say anything about Muslim and Arab organizations and you don’t need proof, especially if those organizations are opposed to Israel.  Like if I say that Hamas stole my car here in California, the media would report that and would not even bother with asking me to provide evidence.

Quran-burning pastor, Terry Jones, still coming to mosque

DEARBORN — Pastor Terry Jones preaches the Gospel for a living, but the second holiest day in Christianity just slipped his mind.

The Quran-burning provocateur, who is expected to protest in Dearborn next week, said he didn’t realize before he committed to coming here that the protest is planned for Good Friday.

“This might be hard to believe,” Jones said, “but honestly we didn’t realize (it was Good Friday) or that Sunday was Easter.”

Oversight now recognized, Jones said he still plans on coming and that he would be traveling with about five associates for the protest, which tentatively is planned for outside the Islamic Center of America. The location, he said, was chosen because of its symbolism as one of the largest mosques in North America.

The protest originally was organized by a Port Huron militia group known as “Order of the Dragon,” but has very much become the Terry Jones-show since he announced his intention to join.

Asked whether he thinks Dearborn’s Muslim community is jihadist or wants to institute Sharia – Islamic law similar to Christianity’s Canon law – Jones said he is uncertain.

“I don’t know Dearborn’s Muslims so I can’t say,” said Jones, who acknowledges never having read the Quran. “But when you see what’s happening in Europe in Muslim-dominated countries, it wouldn’t surprise (me).”

Jones has said in press statements about the protest that he has no problem with Muslims or Islam; rather the extremist interpretation terrorist groups have embraced. He does, however, say he disagrees with Sharia, saying, “it discriminates against women.”

Jones’ small Gainesville, Florida-based church, Dove World Outreach Center, gained notoriety last fall for widely condemned plans to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Facing pressure to cancel the event coming from as high up as President Barack Obama, the plan was scrapped. But in late March Jones put the Quran “on trial.”

With his congregants as jury, the holiest book in Islam was found guilty and the sentence was burning.

While the media largely ignored the event, Jones and others released videos of the burning online. The imagery sparked widespread violence against Western forces in Afghanistan and numerous death threats against Jones, including a $2.4 million bounty issued by the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah, which is designated a terrorist organization by the United States government.

“We get the threats and we pass them along to the FBI,” he said.

As for the violence Jones’ stunt precipitated, he said he doesn’t bear responsibility.

“Yes, we were warned,” he said of the exhortations against burning the Quran for fear it might provoke violence.

“But there is no excuse for what happened in Afghanistan, and we do not believe we are responsible. People are responsible for their own actions. If anything this proves there is a radical element to Islam.”

Jones is aware his trip to Dearborn is being met mostly with opposition. Interfaith leaders from across Metropolitan Detroit have criticized his plans and at least six groups have formally requested permits for counterdemonstrations, Police Chief Ronald Haddad said.

“We know there will probably be a lot more people there against us than for us,” said Jones, who was unsure how many more people would join him aside from the group he is traveling with.

Also still unclear is whether the protest will even be granted the necessary permit. Haddad, who is responsible for determining whether a demonstration permit is granted or not, previously said he hoped to have a decision by Friday. But because of the numerous counter-protest permit requests and other new, undisclosed developments related to the event, Haddad said he now hopes to have his decision by early next week.

“There are some late developments that we need to take into consideration,” said Haddad. “My primary concern is security and making sure everyone is safe.”

Undoubtedly playing into Haddad’s decision is that Altar Road, where the Islamic Center is located, will be bustling with activity that day. In addition to the mosque, Altar Road is home to several Christian churches that will be holding Good Friday services.

J. Patrick Pepper covers public safety and politics in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights as well as Dearborn government affairs. He can be reached at (734) 246-2702 or at jpepper@heritage.com.