Archive for Religion

Police Blotter Bob and the Banning of Irshad Manji’s “Allah, Liberty & Love” in Malaysia

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

by Haddock

Firstly, I want to point out that I do not support the Malaysian government’s decision to ban the Malay translation of Irshad Manji’s latest book, considering I believe in near-absolute freedom of speech; and, while Manji is a sell-out and useful tool who routinely belittles and degrades Muslims for profit, she should have the right to speak her mind without censorship.

The drone-like commenters at JihadWatch have expressed nothing short of glee at the latest news that the Malaysian translation of Irshad “Muslims helped make the Holocaust happen” Manji’s most recent book, Allah, Liberty & Love was banned in Malaysia for containing words that “insulted Islam.” This supposedly “proves” how backward all 1.5 billion Mooslims are! After some political parties and organizations complained about Manji’s appearance in the country, the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) decided to review the book to find out if there was any “offensive” content. They declared that some of the material “insulted Islam”, and was subsequently banned by the Home Ministry. The Malaysian Insider quotes the Ministry,

“This is because the book which is believed to have elements that can deviate Muslims from their faith, Islamic teachings and elements which insulted Islam and has received numerous complaints,” he said in a statement here.”

And,

“The ministry had received a report from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and based on its findings, the contents had elements that can confuse the public and contained words that insults Islam.”

The IDD felt the need to point out that they can only advise the Ministry with their interpretation of Islamic values, but cannot enact laws themselves. This doesn’t take away the fact that censorship was at play here, but it provides a nuance that Islamophobes typically ignore; most Muslims don’t believe in a theocracy. This piece to the puzzle was unsurprisingly missing from Jihad Watch’s “report.”

Police blotter Bob, barely able to contain his joy at having another opportunity to bash Muslims, writes;

“Wait a minute. Isn’t Islam supposed to be completely compatible with moderation, democracy, and so on? Apparently the allegedly mild, modern and moderate Muslims of Malaysia didn’t get the memo. Or the fact that crowds of Malaysian Muslims haven’t openly called for her death (yet) should be considered ‘moderation’.”

Yet he conveniently leaves out the fact that the publisher of the translation, ZI Publications, is taking “legal action” against the government while using their own interpretation of the Malaysian Constitution and Islam to do so. Apparently they feel that “free inquiry” is “something which Islam itself cherishes.” But what do they know about their own religion?! They’re doing something that makes Islam look good, so naturally they must be practicing “taqiyya”, or simply don’t understand how evil their religion so obviously is.

“The English version of Irshad Manji’s book, Allah, Liberty & Love, has been published since June 2011 and there has been no issue taken with the book… until we published a Malay translation of the book (Allah, Kebebasan & Cinta),” said Ezra Zaid, director and owner of ZI.” (Emphasis added)

And,

Either way, we published this book in the spirit of free inquiry – incidentally, something which Islam itself cherishes – and acting strictly in accordance with our right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by Article 10 (1)(a) of the Federal Constitution,…” (Emphasis added)

But we all know the Islamophobic modus operandi. When Muslims ban or censor a book, they’re showing their true colors, and this proves that Islam is demonic; but when Muslims say Islam does not promote the banning of books, they’re practicing “taqiyya”, so they can’t be trusted. (Ironically, you will never hear Islamophobes condemn Geert Wilders for wanting to ban the Qur’an, or any concern on their behalf when a number of books have been banned in the USA). This is why there is overwhelming silence over at Jihad Watch about this element to the story. “What?! Muslims standing up for free-speech while still practicing their religion?! This is impossible! The only Muslims who can stand up for freedom and democracy are those who oppose their own religion and sell out their co-religionists in the name of profit!”

This is why the more stealthy Islamophobes of the world love people like Irshad Manji. She says everything that they want to say, but can’t without (rightly) being called a bigot. But since she is a self- professed Muslim, all they need to do is quote her words and say, “this comes from a Muslim! One of your own people says this about you, so I can’t be a bigot just by quoting her words!”

This is one of the oldest tactics in the book. This same line was said by the more “diplomatic” American anti-Catholics of the 19th century and the anti-Semites of the 20th century; and now it is said by the Islamophobes. And since this dance takes two to tango, each era saw its share of self-declared turncoats, appeasers and traitors of their identities. But just like most of America’s famous anti-Catholics and anti-Semites have been forgotten by the public, so are its team players who played the role of the “native informant.”

Does anybody remember Benjamin Freedman? He was a self-declared ex-Jew turned anti-Semite conspiracy theorist who claimed to have been one of the most influential proponents of “Zionism” in the United States. He did not limit himself to critiques of Zionism but rather engaged in classic “Jews run the world hate-mongering,” i.e. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion shtick.

He was very popular among the anti-communist “Patriot” groups in the 1940s- 50’s because many of these people were also anti-Semitic. So to have a guy who claimed to be an ethnic Jew saying all of these bad things about his “own people” was a great thing for them since it gave their views a certain type of credibility that they normally wouldn’t have had as non-Jews. Yet today, Mr. Freedman is hardly remembered except among right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis who post some of his speeches on YouTube.

It is likely that the same fate as Freedman’s diminished remembrance awaits Irshad Manji, Walid Shoebat, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, Kamal Saleem, Ibn Warraq, and a whole list of other Muslim “native informants,” “fake ex-Muslims” and “fake ex-terrorists.”

Cheryl Baisden: Fear Propels Religious Attacks

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

A very good article by Cheryl Baisden on the movement against sharia, and what they fundamentally don’t understand about American history and law:

Fear Propels Religious Attacks

by Cheryl Baisden (njsbf.org)

A guarantee of religious freedom was what compelled the Pilgrims to risk their lives to cross the Atlantic Ocean and settle along the inhospitable Massachusetts coast in 1620. And yet it didn’t take long for these new inhabitants of America to begin railing against individuals with different religious views and practices. Failing to follow the Puritan way of life could leave you condemned to a dark, dank prison cell; sentenced to a painful and public punishment clamped in the town square’s stockade; or banished from the village altogether.

In those early days of America’s settlement, religious and civil law were one and the same. In fact, each community enforced its own laws, based on the dictates of their church leaders. With the passage of the U.S. Constitution, religious freedom became a right guaranteed to all citizens, explains Grayson Barber, a New Jersey attorney whose practice focuses on individual rights issues.

“The First Amendment says ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…,’” Barber says. “Notice that there are two main provisions, the establishment clause and the free exercise clause. The first makes the United States very unusual. Unlike most countries, the U.S. has no official or ‘established’ church. The free exercise clause provides that in the U.S. we are free to pray wherever and whenever we want, and the government cannot force us to participate in religious activities we disagree with. As a result, the U.S. is the best place in the world to be religious. You can practice any religion you want.”

One religion singled out

In the past few years, however, several states have passed or are considering legislation that would restrict the way followers of one specific religion practice their faith. The legislative movement was launched following

a 2010 family court ruling involving a Moroccan couple in New Jersey, where a Hudson County judge denied a wife a restraining order against her husband because he claimed his alleged sexual assaults on his wife were justified under Islamic religious law, known as sharia law. The ruling was later overturned by the appellate court, which found that the original decision in the case of S.D. v. M.J.R. was based on a misunderstanding of sharia law and its place in the court system. But by then, anti- Islamic groups like the Society of Americans for National Existence were strongly pushing lawmakers around the country for a ban on sharia law.

What is sharia law?

For followers of just about any religion there are certain rules that apply to their faith, from kosher laws among Jewish people to the disapproval of divorce among Catholics. In the same way, sharia is the law that governs certain aspects of everyday life for Muslims.

In an interview with Salon, Abed Awad, a New Jersey attorney who regularly handles Islamic law cases and is an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School—Newark, explains that sharia is based on the Quran, which is the Muslim Holy Scripture, much like the New Testament is for Catholics and the Old Testament is for Jewish people.

Just like the religious laws in those faiths, sharia focuses on the ways and times followers pray and observe their faith, as well as rules regarding marriage, divorce, child rearing, business dealings and estate matters. These religious laws help followers live within the guidelines of their religion, but don’t take the place of the civil and criminal laws applied by our courts. Awad points out that the appellate ruling in the New Jersey case of S.D. v. M.J.R. was actually “consistent with Islamic law, which prohibits spousal abuse.”

While most people have some familiarity with Jewish and Catholic religious laws because they have been exposed to them for so many years in American culture, sharia is still unfamiliar to many. With an estimated eight million Americans now practicing Islam, sharia is becoming more visible, according to Awad.

“Islam is a major world religion,” explains Barber, “but largely unfamiliar in the U.S. Fear of the unknown is probably lurking behind the hostility to sharia. Of course the shadow of 9/11 is behind much of this, as the hijackers claimed to be Muslim. As we become more familiar with Islam, we will learn that every large group is comprised of a wide variety of people…. Apart from a radical criminal element, Muslims are peaceful, law-abiding people with the same variety of personalities and characteristics you would find in any other population.”

The movement against sharia

The first state to propose legislation against sharia law was Oklahoma, where in November 2010, 70 percent of voters approved an amendment to the state

constitution dictating that the Oklahoma courts “shall not consider international law or sharia law” when making judicial decisions.

Oklahoma State Representative Rex Duncan, one of the bill’s two sponsors, told CNN before the proposal received voter approval, that part of the legislation’s purpose was to ban religious forms of arbitration. “Parties would come to the courts and say we want to be bound by Islamic law and then ask the courts to enforce those agreements,” he said. “That is a backdoor way to get sharia law into courts. There…have been some efforts,

I believe, to explore bringing that to America, and it’s dangerous.”

Read the Rest…

Islam and the Religious Demographic Shifts in the USA

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

American_Islam

Rather than viewing the apparent growth of the Muslim populace with alarm, it should be viewed in perspective and historical context:

Islam and the Religious Demographic Shifts in the USA

(StraightRecord.org)

The Puritans, colonial settlers in New England were originally Protestants from Great Britain, they helped to shape the early religious makeup and cultural milieu of what would become the republic of the United States of America.

As colonial settlers expanded their control over the land, forcing Native American populations further West, pre-existing indigenous religions became marginalized and the first seeds of manifest destiny were planted.

While a complete book would be necessary to do justice to this topic alone, it is important to note that many Natives have until this day preserved, to varying degrees of success, their religious stories and practices.

In the end, the descendants of the Protestants, possessing military advantage and missionary zeal, became the religious hegemons of the early United States.

“Protestant work ethic” and Protestant concepts of “morality” became deeply ingrained within the fabric and history of the United States, and have survived as catch-phrases and concepts in our culture to this day.

Over time, the religious hegemony of Protestants in the USA would eventually encounter change, first with the forced arrival of African slaves, and then with the arrival of Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Europe.

One of the most significant changes has occurred in the past half century, as America has been introduced to religions that it had hitherto been unfamiliar with, or only knew through exotic tales of the Orient.

Today, the religious landscape of America is a mosaic, including varying Christian denominations, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists and of course Muslims.

While Islam first arrived on American shores long ago, its sojourn into the nation’s conscious has been more recent.

A study by Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, as well as the nation’s largest Islamic civic and religious groups found that the number of mosques in the US has increased 74% since 2000.

While protests against new mosques in New York, Tennessee and California made headlines, the overall number of mosques quietly rose from 1,209 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010.

The number of Muslims in the United States is also believed to have increased,

A new survey reveals the dramatically changing face of religion in America, with the number of Muslims in the U.S. soaring 67% in the decade since the 9/11 attacks.

Data released Tuesday from the 2010 U.S. Religion Census shows Islam was the fastest growing religion in America in the last 10 years, with 2.6 million living in the U.S. today, up from 1 million in 2000.

Statistical studies are never an exact science and are open to interpretation, but what these numbers indicate is a definite growing presence of Islam and Muslims in the USA. According to Dale Jones, data analyst and mapping specialist for the Religion Census, one ironic contribution to the rise in Muslim numbers may be the strong anti-Islam sentiment prevalent today in certain sectors of society,

“Persecution is sometimes good for a religious group — in the sense of being able to attract more followers, for some reason,” Jones said. “Rarely is opposition a very effective tool in stopping the growth of a movement.”

Dr. Tariq Ramadan, speaking in the context of Europe, notes that instead of such growth in the “visible” presence of Muslims being viewed with suspicion and alarm, it should be viewed positively, for what it actually is, signs of healthy Muslim integration into the fabric of the nation.

Millions of Muslims are, in fact, already proving every day that “religious integration” is an accomplished fact, that they are indeed at home in the Western countries whose tastes, culture and psychology they have made their own. (Manifesto for a new “We”)

Ramadan notes that Muslims are already integrated within Western societies. Millions of Muslims, by going about their daily lives working, respecting the law, partaking in all aspects of the larger culture such as politics, sports, music, etc. have already proven that they are integrated.

The growing Muslim population should not be seen as a threat to the USA but rather as one more manifestation of the religious tolerance and freedom of religion that has made the US great.

Fear-mongers have existed in every age, and Muslims are not the first religious group to face heightened scrutiny and bigoted attacks. Similar language and rhetoric as we see employed against the growing Muslim presence today have been used against Jews and Catholics in the past.

We should not forget the very real “fear” that existed in the 19th and early 20th century regarding the Catholicization of America, or the “fear” of our first Catholic President, John F. Kennedy possibly taking orders from the Pope. Such hysteria eventually died down over time and will with Islam as well.

Chris Stedman: Sam Harris, Will You Visit A Mosque With Me?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2012 by loonwatch

Chris_Stedman_2011

Chris Stedman

A vey good piece by Chris Stedman. He invites Sam Harris to leave his comfort zone, the bully pulpit of his blog, and come experience meeting real, life Muslims, the one he’s eager to have profiled (H/T: CriticalDragon):

by Chris Stedman (Huffington Post)

Sam Harris–I know you’re a busy man, but I’d like to ask you out. Will you go to mosque with me?

I’m not trying to convert you to Islam. Like you, I’m not a Muslim. Like you, I don’t believe in any gods. I’m happily, openly atheist. A queer atheist, even. Like you, I have many significant concerns about Islamic beliefs and practices. But still, I want to visit a mosque with you.

We don’t have to go alone–we could go with Mustafa Abdullah, a young community organizer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina who is currently campaigning against the state’s proposed anti-gay Amendment One. We could attend with Najeeba Syeed-Miller, a teacher and activist who has dedicated her life to peacebuilding initiatives. Or we could go with Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, who is committed to promoting pluralism and opposing bigotry, and who regularly speaks up for atheists as a religious minority in the United States.

Why am I inviting you to visit a mosque with me and my friends? Since I’m asking you publicly (I couldn’t find your phone number anywhere and I’m pretty sure this MySpace page isn’t really you), I should probably give some context.

A few weeks ago I saw you speak at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia. Before I go on, I need to confess: your remarks blew me away. In a weekend full of incredible intellects, your frank, contemplative, eloquent speech on death, grief, and mindfulness was easily my favorite. So I was not prepared for the crushing disappointment I felt when, just a few weeks later, you published a piece called “In Defense of Profiling” in which you unequivocally stated: “We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

Never mind that your argument doesn’t hold water–to quote my friend Hind Makki: “What does a Muslim look like? The 9/11 hijackers didn’t have beards and ‘dressed Western.’ The shoe bomber wasn’t Arab or South Asian. Sikhs wear turbans. The majority of American Muslim women don’t wear hijab. The majority of Arab Americans are Christian–though they often share the same names as their Muslim counterparts. Perhaps Harris would support an initiative that required all Muslims to sew a crescent and star onto our clothes. It would make his airport security time a more pleasant experience. (Though, I suppose, it wouldn’t have stopped McVeigh or Breivik.)” Though as a frequent traveler I share your frustrations with the TSA, profiling doesn’t make sense as a solution to its problems.

Instead, while we’re en route to mosque, I’d like to talk to you about something else. As I read your piece, which (along with the clarifying addendum you tacked on a few days later) failed to explain how you would determine who “looks… Muslim,” I thought back to another moment at the Global Atheist Convention a few weeks ago. As you were speaking, rumors began to fly that a group of extremist Muslims would be protesting the convention. Sure enough, a group of less than a dozen appeared just a short while later, holding signs that said “Atheists go to hell” and shouting horrible things. But to my dismay, their hate was mirrored by hundreds of conference attendees, some of whom shouted things like “go back to the middle east, you pedophiles,” tweeting ”maybe the Muslim protesters [are] gay so [they] don’t have wives? … A lot are/were camel shaggers,” and wearing shirts that said “Too stupid for science? Try religion.” Watching the scene unfold, I was reminded of how much work there is to be done in combating prejudice between the religious and the nonreligious.

I’m not sure you share my concerns about this divide. In fact, last year you wrote this about the 2011 attacks orchestrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway that resulted in the deaths of over 70 people:

One can only hope that the horror and outrage provoked by Breivik’s behavior will temper the growing enthusiasm for right-wing, racist nationalism in Europe. However, one now fears the swing of another pendulum: We are bound to hear a lot of deluded talk about the dangers of “Islamophobia” and about the need to address the threat of “terrorism” in purely generic terms.

In the wake of an atrocity of unimaginable proportions–one perpetrated by an anti-Muslim terrorist who was influenced by anti-Muslim writers–I could not believe that you decided to write a blog suggesting that the real problem is the fight against Islamophobia.

Whether you think so or not, Sam, Islamophobia is quite real. The American Muslim community experiences disproportionately high rates of discrimination and violence, and Islamophobic rhetoric has a significant bearing on this. This from a detailed report on the network of Islamophobia in America: “According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman, just as religious extremism ‘is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged,’ the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts are ‘the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.’”

As a society, we need to acknowledge the reality of the consequences of Islamophobia. As one Norwegian Muslim recently said:

“I think it is good and healthy that this comes out,” he told AFP in a telephone interview, arguing that Breivik built his ideology largely on the basis of Islam-critical writings in the media and online and rumors he has heard about violent Muslims. “This should help show people that this kind of rhetoric can be very, very dangerous. It is a wake-up call, and I think many people will moderate the way they talk about these things.”

We desperately need to discuss these things. An argument I frequently hear from atheists is that if moderate Muslims really exist, they need to speak out more. The problem is that Muslims are speaking out against extremists who cite Islam as their inspiration. Need some examples? ThereAreSoManyThat.ICan’tLinkToThemAll. (But those eleven are a good start.)

The real problem is the Islamophobic misinformation machine, supported by our conflict-driven media. Stories of Muslims engaging in peaceful faith-inspired endeavors don’t sell nearly as well as stories of attempted Times Square bombings. Yet even coverage of violent stories is skewed against Muslims: for example, the mainstream media largely ignores violence against Muslims, such as when a mosque in Florida was bombed. (Just imagine the media frenzy if that had been a Muslim bombing a church.) The press also ignores stories of Muslim heroism, such as the fact that the man who stopped the Times Square bomber was himself a Muslim. Perhaps we perceive Islam as inherently violent, and imagine that an “Islam versus the West” clash of civilizations is inevitable, because our perspective is shaped by the warped way the media reports on Islam.

The feeling that we need to profile “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” as you wrote–that Muslim Americans are dangerous and should be viewed with suspicion–is an outgrowth of the Islamophobic misinformation that proliferates our culture. I’m proud to say that nontheist organizations like the Center for Inquiry, the American Humanist Association, and the Institute for Science and Human Values recognize this, which is why just last week they signed on to a letter (alongside many interfaith and religious organizations) decrying racial and religious profiling.

The idea that we should single out Muslims is a misguided and damaging one, and it has serious ramifications for the Muslim community. After the thwarted “Christmas tree” bombing by a young Muslim in Portland, OR, Eboo Patel wrote:

It would be perfectly understandable if, in this time of Muslim terrorism and Islamophobia, everyday Muslims tried to slink into the shadows, to hide in the mosque. But it would be a huge mistake. Now more than ever, we need Muslim community leaders to be loud and proud about Islam’s glories, to inspire a new generation to follow in the footsteps of the Muslim heroes who bent the arc of the universe towards justice.

As Muslims become more and more marginalized, that will be increasingly difficult. When I posted a link to Patel’s column on my Facebook page, a friend commented on the FBI’s involvement in the Portland incident, and a subsequent arson attack on a Portland-area mosque: “I’m starting to wonder how any of this makes our country more secure or keeps our citizens safe. It certainly made things more dangerous for Muslims in Corvallis.”

I look around and I see a country deeply divided over the place of Muslims in America’s civic landscape–a nation roiling with fear and uncertainty, where hundreds of people will crowd outside of a benefit for a Muslim relief organization and scream things like “go home” and “terrorist” while waving American flags. That despicable display of anti-Muslim hate didn’t really make the news either, by the way.

Profiling feeds this fear and paranoia, and it plays right into the notion held by the tiny percentage of Muslims who are extremists that all Muslims are under attack and need to be defended. It is truly dangerous territory, and not just for Muslims–the recent congressional “Muslim radicalization” hearings in the U.S. echo the anti-gay “lavender scare” and the explicitly anti-atheist undertones of the “red scare” in the 1950s. As a gay atheist, I recognize that it could just as easily be me who is targeted.

But I do have hope, Sam. I’m currently reading a wonderful book called The Young Atheist’s Handbook by Alom Shaha–I could lend it to you after our mosque visit. In the book, Shaha writes about growing up Muslim and later becoming an atheist. In the fourth chapter of the book, he touches on the tragedy in Norway and delves into a lengthy, must-read exposition of the ugly reality of Islamophobia in the U.K., Australia, and the United States. In it, he points to the major role the media has played in guiding the narrative that says that Muslims are a monolithic, loathsome bloc–or as Shaha wrote, a perspective that “see[s] all Muslims as the same, and completely fail[s] to acknowledge the diversity and differences in values that are held by the millions of Muslims in the world.” Shaha goes on to write:

You may wonder why, if I no longer identify as Muslim, I care so deeply about this… Although I am an atheist, I nevertheless find it distressing that people can be contemptuous of all Muslims based on their own prejudices about what it means to be Muslim. Some atheists are guilty of this ideological categorization, too, and it bothers me that some of those who really should know better feel that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot, by definition, get along. I suspect this is a point on which I differ from more-hardline atheists, but perhaps my own experience of being judged for my skin colour has made me acutely sensitive to such judgments being exercised upon others.

Shaha is definitely on to something. Over the last few years, I’ve watched with despair as an increasing, increasingly-less-subtle xenophobic anti-Muslim undercurrent has spread throughout the atheist movement, cloaked by intellectual arguments against Islam’s metaphysical claims and practices and rallying cries in defense of free speech. Though it has been spreading throughout our broader culture, I’m especially disheartened to see it among my fellow atheists. At my first American Atheists conference, for example, I witnessed a crowd of people shout things like “show us some ankle” at three women wearing burkas for a satirical musical performance. It’s one thing to critique Islam; but the glee I saw in some of their faces as people whistled and shouted “take it off” was something else.

Writing about an incident where an American Atheists State Director posted an Islamophobic rant to their official Facebook page, atheist blogger Hemant Mehta said:

It’s always a touchy subject when atheists go after Islam… because people have to be very careful that they don’t stereotype all followers of Islam as if they’re all extremists. Our society does a terrible job of this. Atheists, especially when they’re ‘leaders’ among us, ought to know better than to fall into that trap.

You ought to know better, Sam. Your insistence that Islamophobia isn’t a problem and your willingness to play into the irrational anxieties of those who fear Muslims is irresponsible and dangerous. With your great reach, you have the opportunity to build bridges of understanding–instead, you have chosen to make the dividing lines that keep our communities apart that much thicker.

Read the rest….

Sacramento Muslims Open Mosque to Easter Service

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.  Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/08/4399608/easter-sunday-at-salam-mosque.html?mi_rss=Photo%20Galleries#storylink=cpy

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.

Sacramento Muslims open mosque to Easter service

http://bcove.me/7blioua1
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento congregation was facing an Easter without a home this year until the most unlikely of locations opened their doors and welcomed them inside.

The Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento lost the lease to their church a month prior to their biggest service of the year, but Reverend Michael Moran said a dream offered hope in the face of despair.

“We were desperately looking for a place to hold our Easter services. I had a dream and in the dream I saw a newspaper headline that read, ‘Easter at the Mosque’,” reveals Moran. “But when I awoke, I said that will never happen.”

But in an act of compassion and generosity, the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) turned Moran’s dream into reality.

Ifran Itaq of SALAM said the decision to allow Moran’s congregation to celebrate their faith at the mosque was simple.

“For us, mosques, churches, synagogues are places where God’s name is mentioned and they are holy places, and this is the sharing of those faiths in one of those institutions.”

Beyond the surface-level expression of hospitality and good will, Moran believes the interfaith congregation on Easter Sunday holds much greater significance.

“Our mission from the very beginning was to bring the different faith traditions together in cooperative efforts,” Moran explains. “I love what the Dalai Lama said, he said, “Until there’s peace among the world’s religions, there will never be peace on earth. I think this is one of those steps towards peace.”

News10/KXTV

—————————————————————————————————–

At great personal risk, John Oliver witnesses Muslims praying in a church’s all-purpose room.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-may-5-2011/big-mohammed-s-house

NYPD Monitored Groups Based on Religion, Documents Show

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2012 by loonwatch

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

NYPD monitored groups based on religion, documents show

(AP)

The New York Police Department collected information on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained secret documents.

They show in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion, despite claims from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the contrary.

The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers – and even the FBI – for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.

Bloomberg has defended his department’s efforts, saying they have kept the city safe, were completely legal and were not based on religion. “We don’t stop to think about the religion,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in August after The Associated Press began revealing the spying. “We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.”

In late 2007, however, plainclothes officers in the department’s secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region’s Syrian population. Police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops. The resulting document listed no threat. And though most people of Syrian heritage living in the area were Jewish, Jews were excluded from the monitoring. “This report will focus on the smaller Muslim community,” the report said.

Similarly, police excluded the city’s sizable Coptic Christian population when photographing, monitoring and eavesdropping on Egyptian businesses in 2007, according to the police files. “This report does not represent the Coptic Egyptian community and is merely an insight into the Muslim Egyptian community of New York City,” the NYPD wrote.

Many of those under surveillance were American-born citizens whose families have been here for the better part of a century. “The majority of Syrians encountered by members of the Demographics Unit are second- or even third-generation Syrian Americans,” the Syrian report said. “It is unusual to encounter a first generation or new arrival Syrian in New York City.”

Associated Press, 9 March 2012

Read the documents herehere and here.

See also “Yep, the NYPD was definitely profiling Muslims”, New York Magazine, 9 March 2012

Franklin Graham Unsure of Obama’s Christian Bonafides, Speculates on Obama’s Scary “Muslimness”

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by loonwatch

Graham still up to his old lies and fearmongering:

Franklin Graham Calls Obama’s Religious Beliefs Into Question

http://www.5min.com/Video/Franklin-Graham-on-Morning-Joe-517277975
Evangelist Franklin Graham called President Barack Obama’s religious views into question on Tuesday, stating that he does not know for sure if Obama is a Christian.

Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham and the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Obama “has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”

“All I know is I’m a sinner, and God has forgiven me of my sins… you have to ask every person,” he said about whether he could say for sure that Obama is indeed of the Christian faith.

However, when asked about GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s religion, Graham gave a much more concrete answer.

“I think so,” Graham said when asked if he believes Santorum is a Christian. “His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”

MSNBC’s panelists questioned the reverend’s double standard, but Graham continued to draw distinctions between the candidates on the issue of faith. On Mitt Romney, Graham was again evasive, stating that “most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”

But Graham was more willing to label Newt Gingrich’s faith. “Newt’s been married several times… but he could make a good candidate,” Graham said. “I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”

Later in the segment, Graham also said he could not be sure that Obama was not a Muslim.

“All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries,” he said.

He continued, ”Islam sees him as a son of Islam… I can’t say categorically that [Obama is not Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”

Graham drew the criticism of the White House last spring when he suggested in an interview with ABC that Obama had not been born in the United States.

During that same interview, Graham also questioned whether Obama’s actions and values matched up with his identification as a Christian.

“Now he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?” Graham said of Obama. “For him, going to church means he’s a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith and we have trusted him as our lord and savior.”

Watch Graham’s full interview on MSNBC:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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