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

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

NYPD Document: Gather Intel Info at Shiite Mosques

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2012 by loonwatch

NYPD

This story just gets worse and worse. I doubt Muslims in New York will trust the NYPD again, it will take a long time to repair the damage:

NYPD document: Gather intel info at Shiite mosques

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Shiite Muslims and their mosques, based solely on their religion, as a way to sweep the Northeast for signs of Iranian terrorists, according to interviews and a newly obtained secret police document.

The document offers a rare glimpse into the thinking of NYPD intelligence officers and how, when looking for potential threats, they focused their spying efforts on mosques and Muslims. Police analysts listed a dozen mosques from central Connecticut to the Philadelphia suburbs. None has been linked to terrorism, either in the document or publicly by federal agencies.
The Associated Press has reported for months that the NYPD infiltrated mosques, eavesdropped in cafes and monitored Muslim neighborhoods with plainclothes officers. Its spying operations were begun after the 2001 terror attacks with help from the CIA in a highly unusual partnership.

The May 2006 NYPD intelligence report, entitled “US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City,” made a series of recommendations, including: “Expand and focus intelligence collections at Shi’a mosques.”

The NYPD is prohibited under its own guidelines and city law from basing its investigations on religion. Under FBI guidelines, which the NYPD says it follows, many of the recommendations in the police document would be prohibited.

The report, drawn largely from information available in newspapers or sites like Wikipedia, was prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. It was written at a time of great tension between the U.S. and Iran. That tension over Iran’s nuclear ambition has increased again recently.

Police estimated the New York area Shiite population to be about 35,000, with Iranians making up about 8,500. The document also calls for canvassing the Palestinian community because there might be terrorists there.

“The Palestinian community, although not Shi’a, should also be assessed due to presence of Hamas members and sympathizers and the group’s relationship with the Iranian government,” analysts wrote.

The secret document stands in contrast to statements by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Kelly has said police go only where investigative leads take them, but the document described no leads to justify expanded surveillance at Shiite mosques.

The document also renews debate over how the NYPD privately views Muslims. Kelly has faced calls for his resignation recently from some Muslim activists for participating in a video that says Muslims want to “infiltrate and dominate” the United States. The NYPD showed the video to nearly 1,500 officers during training.

Documents previously obtained by the AP show widespread NYPD infiltration of mosques. It’s not clear, however, whether the May 2006 report prompted police to infiltrate the mosques on the list. One former police official who has seen the report said that, generally, the recommendations were followed but he could not say for sure whether these mosques were infiltrated.

A current law enforcement official, also familiar with the report, said that since it was issued the NYPD learned that Hezbollah was more political than religious and concluded that it’s not effective to monitor Shiites.

Both insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the program.
Neither David Cohen, the NYPD’s top intelligence officer, nor department spokesman Paul Browne responded to emails or phone calls from The Associated Press this week.
Iran is an overwhelmingly Shiite country, but Shiites are a small percentage of the U.S. Muslim population. By contrast, al-Qaida is a Sunni organization and many U.S. leaders consider Shiite clerics as allies in the fight against homegrown extremism. Shiites are often oppressed overseas and many have sought asylum in the West.

The document is dated just weeks after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress that, “We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran.”
Even now, the U.S. remains particularly concerned with Iran, not only because of its nuclear research but also because intelligence officials don’t believe they know how Iranian sympathizers inside the United States would respond if the two countries went to war. By far, the largest group of Iranians in the U.S. lives in or around Los Angeles. Yet the NYPD, with a smaller Iranian population that police estimated at about 8,500 in New York City, shared the concerns about reactions to an open military conflict.

Asad Sadiq, president of the Bait-ul-Qaim mosque in the Philadelphia suburb of Delran, N.J., said the NYPD was being unfairly broad.

“If you attack Cuba, are all the Catholics going to attack here? This is called guilt by association,” Sadiq, a dentist, said after seeing his mosque in the NYPD document. “Just because we are the same religion doesn’t mean we’re going to stand up and harm the United States. It’s really absurd.”

The AP showed the document to several veteran counterterrorism analysts. None said they had seen anything like it.

“It’s really problematic if you make a jump from a possible international conflict to saying therefore we need to monitor Shiite mosques writ large,” said Brian Fishman, the former research director at West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center. “It doesn’t follow.”

For instance, the NYPD analysts focused much of the report on the Alavi Foundation, a New York nonprofit group that the federal government has since accused of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government. Analysts then looked at a mosque where Alavi members prayed and that police say may have been linked to an effort to buy information about rocket technology for Iran.

There is no explanation, however, for how those suspicions warranted expanding surveillance to other Shiite mosques, including those far outside the department’s jurisdiction in Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Any time that you begin to isolate certain communities from a policing perspective because you think there’s risk, you have the potential that somebody overreaches,” said Robert Riegle, a former Department of Homeland Security analyst who oversaw efforts to work with state and local agencies.

At the Al-Mahdi Foundation mosque in Brooklyn, worshippers intoned their prayers Wednesday while touching their foreheads to disks of clay on the floor, a Shiite tradition.
“After 1,400 years, the Shias are being targeted in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, everywhere,” imam Malik Sakhawat Hussain said after being told that his mosque was in the NYPD document. “If U.S. authorities become suspicious of the Shias, I would say we are a very oppressed community of the world.”

At the Masjid Al-Rahman, a prayer hall in the basement of a Brooklyn apartment building, manager Abo Maher was surprised to see his mosque on the NYPD’s list of Shiite locations.
“This isn’t even Shia,” he said. “Their information is wrong.”

The police department’s Demographics Unit, the secretive squad of plainclothes officers used to monitor restaurants, social clubs and other gathering spots, found similar issues in Iranian neighborhoods, one former NYPD official recalled.

Muslims make up only a fraction of New York’s Iranian community so squad members returned from their rounds in Iranian neighborhoods and reported finding Jews and Christians, the former official said.

Sadiq, the New Jersey mosque president, said about 250 families — mostly Pakistanis and Indians and few Iraqis — attend his mosque. Every few years, he said, an FBI agent stops by, introduces himself and asks whether there’s been any radical rhetoric in his mosque and whether he knows anyone with connections to Iran. The most recent meeting was just Wednesday, he said, and the NYPD would be welcome if it came openly.

The intelligence unit operates in secrecy with little outside oversight. The City Council is not told about secret intelligence programs. And though the unit operates under the auspices of a federal anti-drug task force and receives federal money, it is not overseen by Congress. The Obama administration, including the Justice Department, has repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether it endorses the NYPD’s tactics.

“They think that they can do whatever they want and get away with it,” Sadiq said.
The document also suggests a broader international intelligence mission than the department has previously acknowledged. The NYPD has officers stationed in 11 foreign cities such as London, Paris, Madrid, and Tel Aviv, where they work with local police and act as the NYPD’s eyes and ears overseas.

In their recommendations for the foreign liaison unit, analysts wrote that officers should: “Focus international intelligence collection on the Iranian threat, to include the activities of the IIS, Hezbollah, Hamas etc. throughout Europe and the Middle East.”

NYPD officers abroad are not supposed to be spies and do not answer to the U.S. director of national intelligence or the CIA station chiefs who coordinate America’s efforts to gather intelligence on Iran. In fact, the NYPD’s international officers aren’t even paid by the department. Rather, the program is paid for through a nonprofit foundation that raises money from corporate donors.

It has not previously been known that the NYPD would consider gathering overseas intelligence on Iranian intelligence services. The police department does not disclose details about the inner workings of the international program to the City Council, to Congress or to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Georgia State Rep: ‘I’m Afraid’ Of Romney’s Mormon Faith, But ‘It’s Better Than A Muslim’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by loonwatch
State Rep. Judy Manning (R-GA)
State Rep. Judy Manning (R-GA)

Georgia State Rep: ‘I’m Afraid’ Of Romney’s Mormon Faith, But ‘It’s Better Than A Muslim’

By Zaid Jilani

One obstacle that Mitt Romney may face as he asks for the support of Republican primary voters is bigotry against the Mormon faith.

Marietta Daily Journal story published yesterday demonstrates the bigotry that Romney may have to overcome. The Journal quotes Republican state Rep. Judy Manning saying that she’s scared of Romney’s Mormon faith. But at least he’s “better than a Muslim”:

“I think Mitt Romney is a nice man, but I’m afraid of his Mormon faith,” Manning said. “It’s better than a Muslim.Of course, every time you look at the TV these days you find an ad on there telling us how normal they are. So why do they have to put ads on the TV just to convince us that they’re normal if they are normal? … If the Mormon faith adhered to a past philosophy of pluralism, multi-wives, that doesn’t follow the Christian faith of one man and one woman, and that concerns me.”

Manning’s criticism of Romney’s faith and her attack on Islam as an even more inferior religion — in addition to other comments she has made against LGBT rights — demonstrates an important point. Progressives and others who oppose bigotry and preach tolerance must denounce discrimination of every kind, not just because all discrimination is wrong, but because validating discrimination against one group can lead to increased discrimination against other groups in the future. (HT: @GregFrayser)

Aljazeera: Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

A must see documentary on AlJazeera English, dealing with the contemporary influence of Far Right Christianity on American politics. It gets really interesting from the 18:00 mark.

Fault Lines-Politics, Religion and the Tea Party

On The Expropriation of Jewish Law by Religious Zionism and What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2011 by loonwatch

We have received some backlash regarding Danios‘ series on “Jewish Law,” (Halakha)–not merely from the usual crowd of Islamophobes, but from some fans who think the articles are inflammatory.

The main criticisms regarding the articles have been that we #1: supposedly use the “same method as the Islamophobes” and thus are “stooping to their level;” #2: that we are “bashing” Judaism;  #3: this is not good for interfaith dialogue; and #4: the individuals we are citing as sources are “self-hating Jews” or “illegitimate.”

I disagree with this criticism for the following reasons:

The method of the Islamophobes is to: selectively quote/misquote, lie, essentialize, hate, foment bigotry, and push forward zany conspiracies in a process of dehumanization and otherization. We do none of the above.  We haven’t since the start of the site and we never will.

Danios’ disclaimer, Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is the Problem, more than sufficiently articulates the clear distinction we are making.  Judaism itself is not the problem.  Even the texts and scriptural sources are not necessarily the problem.  Rather, it is extremist minds reading and interpreting the texts that are the problem.

We are meeting the challenge put forth by Islamophobes, encapsulated by Robert Spencer, who claim Islam has a special and unique providence over religiously inspired and sanctioned violence against innocents; Spencer writes in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

When modern-day Jews and Christians read their Bibles, they simply don’t interpret the passages cited as exhorting them to violent action against unbelievers. This is due to the influence of centuries of interpretive traditions that have moved away from literalism regarding these passages. But in Islam, there is no comparable interpretive tradition. The jihad passages in the Qur’an are anything but a dead letter.

These articles are a follow up to the previous series covering violence in the Bible.  That series received far less criticism than this present one, most likely because it was seen to take Christianity to task more than Judaism.  The added sensitivity to the Jewish community is understandable, considering the long history of violence, oppression, and hate Jews have had to face over the centuries.

We maintain such a sensitivity to Jewish history and struggle and do not intend this series to be employed as a blunt instrument that is used to bash one’s religious opponents over the head; in fact it can’t be!

Instead, the point is to instill a sense of religious humility in all of us.  Or, put in another more colloquial way, “don’t act like your s*** don’t stink.”

As Danios wrote:

I will be applying the same standards our opponents apply to the Islamic tradition to the Jewish one, to show that Judaism is equally vulnerable to such criticisms.  It is hoped that this exercise will encourage people of Judeo-Christian background to be more hesitant in vilifying and targeting Islam.  This is purely an exercise in thought, a what if scenario (what if we applied the same standards to your religion as you do onto others?) designed to be the antidote to religious and cultural arrogance.

By clarifying that this constitutes an “exercise in thought” one should know that I am not saying Judaism is XYZ because of ABC, but rather simply that if you insist on arguing that Islam is XYZ due to ABC then–based on your own logic–Judaism and Christianity are also XYZ because they too have ABC.  This is a what if? and an if-then argument.

These articles on Jewish law are just a more in-depth variation of the longstanding series, “What if they were Muslim?”. When one is confronted with the fact that one’s own belief system is equally prone and open to bellicose interpretations and that those interpretations do exist and have real world implications, it will give one pause. It will make one re-examine his or her own triumphalist attitude and should redirect his or her efforts positively.  At least, this is the goal.

Previously you may have put people of _____ religion down, but now upon reflection you realize, “I can’t because I stand condemned by the same logic.”

Our biggest regret here is that some really good-hearted folk might be offended, as Danios wrote:

Naturally, “bystanders” will be caught in the crossfire.  Good-hearted, fellow Jews may be offended by such an article series that takes such a critical look at Jewish law.  This is why I explained my absolute reluctance to go down this path in my opening disclaimer.  But, the constant barrage of Islamophobic polemics, encouraged by Israeli activists, convinces me that this is something unavoidable.  Thus it is so, that with a grudging heart, I proceed forth.

Some may be taken aback by the extensiveness of these pieces, but when tackling such an issue it is important to be both thorough and comprehensive. Would our readers expect anything less of LoonWatch and Danios,  known for their in-depth rebuttals?

In regards to interfaith dialogue it must be pointed out that what passes as “interfaith” at times is a superficial cliched kumbaya-hand-holding that covers up or ignores serious challenges. At some point, if we are true to ourselves the hard questions about bigotry, hate, and violence that proliferate through the various religions of the world must come up.

This is the difficult part of “interfaith dialogue” that has yet to be seriously grappled with: how do we deal with belligerent interpretations, how do we manage them, reconcile them while remaining in fidelity and authenticity with tradition; how do such interpretations stack up to ethics; is a complete reconstruction of religious thought necessary, etc.

All of this said, I would like to add that most readers and commenters understand the import and logic behind our articles.  Best-selling author Lesley Hazleton, one of our favorite Anti-Loons and a prolific writer on theology, tweeted:

Congrats to Danios @Loonwatchers: great thinking on hot-button topics of #Zionism, #Islamism, #antisemitism bit.ly/mTeecA

Gefilte, another one of our Jewish writers proffered this view when we solicited him for a comment about the series:

I periodically contribute to loonwatch. Like many Jews, it bothers me that extremists in the name of my religion have declared war not on terrorism but on mainstream Muslims. Loonwatch asked me if I was disturbed by the series on how Jewish law has been expropriated by Zionists to justify killing, torture, and collective punishment. I have to say, it’s a complicated question. In general, I don’t like anybody taking potshots at anyone else’s religion. After all, that’s primarily what loonwatch does every day.

But, to answer your question, I have to issue my own disclaimer. I don’t claim to speak for most Jews on this. None of us do, and I think that’s the most distressing thing about Zionism and the state of Israel, which pretends to speak in our name. You know the old joke: ask two Jews a question, get three (or more) opinions. We do tend to have an independent streak.

Religiously I’ll freely admit to being a “cafeteria Jew.” I don’t believe that anybody’s scripture (mine, yours, or the other guy’s) came directly from G-d, but I do believe they were inspired by that piece of our humanity that constantly seeks G-d. For me, the supernatural aspects of ancient religions should be updated. And I also find that rational thought augments faith. Even though evolution can be understood as a scientific principle, how amazing it is! Spinoza and Einstein had similar views too.

It’s not necessary to believe that Moses literally received the Torah on Sinai, or that Jesus was miraculously conceived by G-d, or that Allah whispered the exact words in the Qu’ran to Mohammad. It seems to me that G-d speaks to everyone, and sometimes particularly sensitive men and women hear his resonances better than others. We’ve called such people prophets.

Since the 19th century scholars have demonstrated that the Torah was pieced together from two different versions of an orally-transmitted Jewish law, liberally laced with history, stories, and legal claims by both Southern and Northern Kingdoms to the land of Israel. In with all this were moral stories. The “cafeteria Jew” in me gravitates to the moral lessons and the rich literature in the book. But, to be honest, the genocide, murder, duplicity, and some of the kinky sex in there seems more an artifact of human hands and less of divine inspiration.

It seems to me that Danios has merely pointed out that the Torah, like the Qu’ran, contains some passages that (were it a movie) should have some advanced R if not X rating. The Torah, like the Qu’ran and the New Testament, was written long before Amnesty International, the UN, or the Red Cross were founded, or multiculturalism was ever conceived. What did anyone do with those *other* people back then? Genocide, mass expulsions and slavery is the answer. No wonder the Tea Party loves the Old Testament so much. Some of them even want to bring back stoning. As Danios points out, zealots can find anything they want in the Torah, just as zealots can find anything they want in the Qu’ran.

So, to *finally* answer your question, am I offended? No, not really. These are essentially the same observations I’ve made over the years, and they merely raise the same questions that Hebrew school teachers occasionally have to scramble to answer. So, if the purpose is didactic, as opposed to hateful, what’s there to object to? Islamophobes make similar deconstructions of Islam, usually with less fidelity to its texts, but there the intent is to show how evil Muslims are. Or that their religion is inherently evil too. In your case, I think you make a clear and repeated distinction between our religion and the ding-dongs who have expropriated it.

I appreciate the disclaimer you’ve attached to each installment: “Why Religious Zionism, not Judaism, is the Problem.”

Gefilte goes on to suggest we mention that we are doing this series to show “how easy it is for fundamentalists to hijack ANY religion.” A fair point I’d say!

I’m not going to discuss the criticism regarding sources cited such as Norman Finkelstein, something that has been covered well enough by Danios. While this series may seem polarizing to some, it was necessary and consistent with what we are doing. “Keeping an eye on the Islamophobes” also means dissecting their arguments and ideas to reveal them for the frauds they are.

I wish every story we did was one about mutual understanding between faiths, good deeds done in unison, selflessness across religious divides, togetherness and harmony, but alas even though those are our favorite stories they are not the only reality.

******************

Lastly, upon revisiting the articles we will add an asterisk to every title next to the words “Jewish Law*” so as to make clearer that we are not essentializing Jewish Law or saying that it is defined solely by those who have expropriated it to justify violence toward the innocent.

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Jon Stewart

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

The Fox rapid-response team makes a plea to distinguish violence in the name of a religion from the practitioners and tenets of that religion as long as it’s Christianity.

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims (Satire)

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by loonwatch

Young Con is doing his thang. Check out the video and the facts below.

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims (Satire)

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims is social commentary through satire on the gross, yet common misconceptions perpetuated about Muslim people. Cutaways to competing facts are provided to help fight ignorance and intolerance.

Sources:

Statistic in Open – 3 of 4 people Republicans believe “Islam teaches hate”

Step 1 – Ethnicity/Demographics of Muslims

  • 60% Asian
  • 20% Arab
  • 17% Subsaharan-African

Step 2 – FBI Terrorism Report – Chronological Summary of Terrorist Incidents in the United States 1980-2005

Step 3 – “Islam is Violence”

  • George W. Bush: “Islam is Peace
  • Chapter 5, verse 32 – “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

Step 6 – “They hate women” – 4 of 5 most populous Muslim-majority nations have elected female heads-of-state

  • Indonesia – Megawati Sukarnoputri
  • Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto
  • Bangladesh – Khaleda Zia & Sheikh Hasina
  • Turkey – Tansu Ciller

Step 7 – FDR Inaugural Speech – March 4, 1933

  • “The only thing we have to fear is Muslims“
  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

Step 8 – Jesus in the Quran, “The Messiah”

Richard Dawkins: “Islam” is an “Unmitigated Evil”

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Richard Dawkins, well known biologist and pop-atheist-guru (add goofball) recently brought up thequestion of whether or not atheists should support Christian missions in Africa. (hat tip: Rob)

He believes the answer is “still no,” (he doesn’t say why) but since Islam according to him is an “unmitigated evil” and atheism is not going to be making any inroads into Africa anytime soon it is a question worth “raising.”

His logic is based on a crudely partitioned breakdown of religious affiliation in Africa designed by aChristian site:

(Isn’t Dawkins supposed to question these sorts of things?)

Dawkins also believes ‘supporting missions’ may be justified on the basis that ‘the enemy of our enemy is our friend.’ That’s the extent of profundity provided by Dawkins! Such crass and cynical sentiments expose the bankruptcy of ideas and strategy in the leadership of the so-called New Atheists.

The statement is similar to “exposed as a fraud” Ayaan H. Ali’s call for Christian missionaries to evangelize Muslims. Such a call is really just a variation on the well worn Crusader-esque theme best expressed by the likes of Anne Coulter, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” (Or the recent statement by Christian Evangelical Bryan Fischer, “Muslims can either convert, or die”).

Don’t you love how some of these loony-out-for-a-buck-and-some-notoriety atheists are so quick to compromise their principles and sit at the table with the most hardcore Bible Thumpers out there? Does anyone think George Carlin would stand for that? Or Tariq Ali? Or As’ad Abu Khalil? Or Cenk Uygur? It just goes to show you that where you are born, your culture and history do have an impact on the decisions and positions you take, no matter how much you claim to be “objective” and motivated by “reason,” and the “scientific method.”

As for his comments that it is a “given” that Islam is “an unmitigated evil in the world today”…wow. First of all, what does that mean about the practitioners of Islam? Does it mean that they are all or mostly or significantly practitioners of “evil?” Because that is the import of Dawkins’ statement, I mean who else puts into reality what Islam is other then the followers of Islam?

Secondly, is anyone else taken aback by the quasi metaphysical language used here by Dawkins? “Unmitigated evil,” is the type of phrase one would expect in the sermon of a Puritan minister or perhaps as one commenter on Dawkins site asks,

Is the Professor now auditioning for a guest shot on Pamela Geller’s website for the barking mad and openly hostile? Very few things in this world are ‘unmitigated evils’: of all the things that might be unmitigated evils, I can absolutely guarantee that a major world religion practiced in a thousand different ways in a thousand different social and cultural contexts is not one of them. The chances of no good at all coming out of such a diverse multiplicity of contexts and forms of practice (that is, of any ‘evil’ not being mitigated) are almost zero. — CallumM

Thirdly, piggy-backing off of the “multiplicity” mentioned by the commenter, is Dawkins totally oblivious to the Arab Spring for instance? You know that thing sweeping the Middle East for the past 5 1/2 months, that many, including Dawkins’ friend Christopher Hitchens thought would fail or sizzle out?

Is it “unmitigated evil” when protesters in Tahrir Square mobilized in the hundreds of thousands, inspired by and chanting the Quranic verse, “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves?” Was it “unmitigated evil” when they withstood the worst kinds of state violence and barbarity in prayer together, shoulder to shoulder? Was it “unmitigated evil” when Christians and Muslims united to protect each other?

Dawkins is out of touch with current events, and lets just say he won’t be playing in any Philosophy World Cups any time soon. The man’s field is Biology, he doesn’t know much about anthropology, sociology, history, comparative religions, or philosophy, that is why he and his buddy Sam Harris get their arse handed to them by real intellectuals such as Scott Atran and Robert Pape.

Maybe it is time for Dawkins to spend a little more time humbly learning about Islam and Muslims, engaging with critical intellectuals instead of rabid Islamophobes and probably dissecting a frog or two in the lab he’s been neglecting while pontificating on matters he has no grasp over.

Catholic Nun Forcibly Removed From Plane for Wearing “Muslim Garb”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by loonwatch

Some What if she were Muslim comedy from Dr. Jalees?

Catholic Nun Forcibly Removed From Plane for Wearing “Muslim Garb”

By: Jalees Rehman, M.D.

April 5, 2011 DAYTON, OH – Sister Cora-Ann, a Catholic nun from the Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Dayton, Ohio got the surprise of her life yesterday, when she was asked to leave the plane she had just boarded at the Omaha International Airport. “I had just sat down in my seat, and started to thank God for our blessings and recite a prayer in Latin”, she recalled, when one of the passengers sitting next to me called the flight attendant. The passenger was Elizabeth Bennet, who later stated: “It is not that we were prejudiced, but she did seem very suspicious. She was dressed in Muslim garb and just before we were about to take off, she started mumbling something in an Arabian or Talibani-sounding language. What was I supposed to do?” Damien Thorn was a passenger seated in the adjacent row and said: “I knew there was something sinister about her, the moment she stepped into the plane. She was wearing those burqa clothes that you see the Iranian women wearing, and she only had a very small carry-on bag.” The flight attendant responded to the call and asked Sister Cora-Ann for her name, boarding pass and a photo ID.

Blanche Dubois was another passenger sitting close to Sister Cora-Ann and explained: “Once I heard that her name sounded like Koran, I got worried. That does not mean that there is anything wrong with me, does it? I just did not want to die. I was so scared, that I just yelled out her name to all passengers.” Mr. Okonkwo was a passenger seated a few rows behind and stated: “Once we all heard that the passenger’s name was Koran, things started falling apart.” Frodo Baggins, a frequent traveler, said he had heard that Muslims do not eat beef. “I did not think that she was Muslim, and to help her out, I took out some of my beef jerky and asked the lady to eat it to prove that she was not a Muslim.”

However, Sister Cora-Ann politely refused the beef jerky and reminded the other passengers that it was the time of Lent, during which Catholics often abstain from eating meat. The unrest in the plane kept growing, because most passengers were now convinced that Sister Cora-Ann was indeed Muslim and they demanded that Sister Cora-Ann leave the plane. “I did not want to cause my fellow humans any distress, so I left the plane”, she said.

“We were so happy that we could continue our journey”, said Frodo Baggins. “Once she de-boarded, it felt like a huge burden was lifted from us.” Apparently, there was indeed a Muslim on the plane, by the name of Abdullah Abdullah the 23rd, sitting in the last row. “Of course I knew that she was a Catholic nun and not a Muslim, because I went to a Catholic school and my favorite teachers were Catholic nuns.” Abdullah Abdullah went on to say “But let us face it: If you are a Muslim on a plane and someone else is being asked to leave the plane, the best thing is to be quiet and enjoy the show!”

A Majority of Oklahomans View Islam Unfavorably

Posted in Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by loonwatch

This might shed light on why the Sharia’ measure passed.

(Tulsa World)
By RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer

A majority of Oklahomans believe Islam is a violent religion that is far removed from Christianity, the most recent Oklahoma Poll found.

The survey, taken before voters overwhelmingly approved a state question banning Islamic Shariah law from state courts, revealed that fewer than one-quarter of Oklahomans have a favorable opinion of the Muslim religion.

Fifty-eight percent said Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, and 61 percent said Muslims don’t worship the same God as Christians.

More than half agreed that Muslims should have the same rights as others to build houses of worship in local communities. However, 36 percent said local communities should have the right to prevent construction of houses of worship if they do not want them.

“I’m leery of any group that wants to kill Americans,” said poll respondent Janie Lloyd of Fort Gibson.

“Do I believe all Muslims want to kill Americans? Of course not,” said Lloyd. “But you’ve got to be vigilant on certain things. When someone says they want to kill you, you have to listen. Timothy McVeigh was an American citizen, and look what he did.”

McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

More than anything, though, Lloyd seemed frustrated.

“I want them to be American,” she said. “I want them to act like American citizens. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Upon hearing the poll results, Luanne Butler of Tulsa said, “In a way it’s not surprising, but in a way it is disheartening to make sweeping generalizations about people called Muslim.”

Butler said there is “a lack of openness and also a pervasive element whispering (in) our ear that (Muslims) don’t have good intentions, that they want to take over, invade.”

She said the vote on State Question 755, banning the use of Shariah law in state courts, represented Oklahomans, saying, “So there. We don’t want interference from outside.”

Lloyd acknowledged that Shariah law has never entered into an Oklahoma court case and appears to have affected only one decision – a decision quickly overturned – in the entire country.

But, she said, she thinks the state question was a good idea.

“Look what’s going on in Europe,” she said. “They’re trying to dig themselves out of those people taking over.”

Muslims now make up sizable minorities in several European countries, including Germany and France. In the United Kingdom, Shariah courts can be used to settle civil disputes – technically, through arbitration – if all parties agree.

Islam is derived from the same monotheistic tradition as Judaism and Christianity. In the Quran, Islam’s holy book, Jesus Christ is described as a great messenger of God.

The majority of Oklahoma Christians, however, apparently reject the notion that the two religions have common roots. In the Oklahoma Poll sample, 83 percent of those who said they attend religious services more than once a week said Muslims worship a different God than Christians.

Three-quarters of those identifying themselves as evangelical Christians said Muslims worship a different God.

Feelings about the Muslim religion were also reflected in political affiliations and affinities. Seventy-two percent of those supporting Gov.-elect Mary Fallin said Islam promotes violence, compared with 46 percent of those who supported Jari Askins, the loser in the Nov. 2 election.

Oklahomans’ opinion of President Barack Obama also found expression in the poll questions about Islam. Fully one-third said they believe Obama is Muslim. Half said he is not.

“I don’t think he’s a Muslim,” said Marilyn Allen of Broken Arrow. She suspects Obama is “mixed up” because of his unusual childhood and “wants to please everyone,” including Muslim nations.

“I really don’t like the way he kowtows to them,” she said.

“But I’m more worried about the communist part than the Muslim part.”

Almost half the Republicans surveyed said they think Obama is a Muslim – and more than one-fifth of Democrats agreed.

Butler laughed at the notion.

“He’s not a Muslim,” she said. “He’s not anything. He’s a golfer.”

In general, would you say your opinion of the Muslim religion is:

Very favorable …………………………7%
Somewhat favorable………………16%
Neutral/no opinion…………………21%
Somewhat unfavorable …………22%
Very unfavorable……………………34%

(Numbers have been rounded)

Do you think Muslims worship the same God as Christians?

Worship same God……… 25%
Don’t worship same God…..61%
Don’t know/refused………14%

Which comes closer to your view:

The Muslim religion is more likely than others to encourage violence ……..58%
The Muslim religion does not encourage violence more than others …………29%
Don’t know/refused ……..13%

Do you think President Obama is a Muslim?

Yes…………………………………34%
No………………………………… 50%
Don’t know/refused…….. 16%

(Numbers have been rounded)

About the poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific telephone survey of 753 likely Oklahoma voters Oct. 18-23. The poll includes 384 Democrats, 345 Republicans and 24 independents selected randomly from those who have established a frequent voting pattern.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.57 percentage points.

The poll is sponsored by the Tulsa World.

Original Print Headline: Sooners have low opinion of Islam

 

Hey Folks, Islam is a Religion after all!

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Ummm….thank you…I guess?

Murfreesboro mosque debate: U.S. Department of Justice says Islam is a religion

BY BRIAN HAAS • THE TENNESSEAN • OCTOBER 18, 2010

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday waded into the debate over a proposed mosque near Murfreesboro on Monday, saying that Islam is a valid religion.

The department on Monday filed a brief in a lawsuit challenging the proposed mosque, arguing that Islam is an officially recognized religion and warning Rutherford County officials that treating Islam as anything other than a religion could violate civil rights laws.

U.S. Attorney Jerry E. Martin will be holding a 1 p.m. press conference today to discuss the brief.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is in the process of trying to build new worship facilities after outgrowing their Murfreesboro location. About 18 months ago, religious leaders there decided to develop land they bought at Veals Road and Bradyville Pike to host their new 10,000-square foot center, which would house worship services, receptions, classrooms, a gym and a pool. Outside, they hope to build sporting areas, a playground, a pavilion and a cemetery on the 15-acre site.

Tensions have been high about the proposed mosque, with competing rallies in and around Murfreesboro both for and against the proposal.

Opponents of the mosque have filed suit against Rutherford County officials, accusing the county of not properly notifying the public about the proposal. The lawsuit also argues that Islam is not a valid religion, but a political movement that is looking to supplant U.S. laws with Muslim laws.

The Department of Justice in its brief was blunt of that assessment.

“Every court addressing the question has treated Islam as a religion for purposes of the First Amendment and other federal laws. No court has held otherwise,” the brief reads. “Islam falls plainly within the understanding of a religion for constitutional and other federal legal purposes…”

The Department of Justice brief does not argue whether the proposed center itself should be approved, only that Islam is an officially recognized religion.

Federal law enforcement officials continue to investigate the arson of construction equipment at the site of the proposed mosque.

Contact Brian Haas at 615-726-8968 or bhaas@tennessean.com.

 

The Jewish School where Half the Pupils are Muslim

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2010 by loonwatch

An old, but still interesting and relevant story out of the UK.

The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim

It’s infant prize day at King David School, a state primary in Moseley, Birmingham. The children sit cross-legged on the floor, their parents fiddling with their video cameras. The head, Steve Langford, is wearing a Sesame Street tie.

A typical end-of-term school event, then. But at King David there’s a twist that gives it a claim to be one of the most extraordinary schools in the country: King David is a strictly Jewish school. Judaism is the only religion taught. There’s a synagogue on site. The children learn modern Hebrew – Ivrit – the language of Israel. And they celebrate Israeli independence day.

But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school’s catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the people some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world.

The Muslim parents, mostly devout and many of the women wearing the hijab, say they love the ethos of the school, and even the kosher school lunches, which are suitable because halal and kosher dietary rules are virtually identical. The school is also respectful to Islam, setting aside a prayer room for the children and supplying Muslim teachers during Ramadan. At Eid, the Muslim children are wished Eid Mubarak in assembly, and all year round, if they wish, can wear a kufi (hat). Amazingly, dozens of the Muslim children choose instead to wear the Jewish kipah.

At the prize morning Carol Cooper, the RE teacher, says: “Boker tov,” (Ivrit for “Good morning”).

“Good morning Mrs Cooper,” the children chant in reply. The entire school, Muslims, Jews, plus the handful of Christians and Sikhs then say the Shema, the holiest Jewish prayer, all together.

The Year Four violin club (five Muslims, two Jews) play “Little Bird, I Have Heard”. Just as many prizes are being distributed to Hussains and Hassans and Shabinas as there are to Sauls and Rebeccas and Ruths. In fact, if anything, the Muslim children have beaten the Jewish ones. Thus does the Elsie Davis Prize for Progress go to a beaming little lad called Walid, the religious studies prize to a boy called Imran wearing a kipah and the progress prizes for Hebrew, to a boy called Habib and a girl called Alia.

Times being as they are, King David doesn’t advertise its presence in a city where its pioneering multiculturalism could raise all kinds of unwelcome attention. There’s a discreet signboard outside that reveals little about the school’s unique nature. There are watchful video cameras high up on the walls, plus two electronic gates to pass through. Sadly, it is, to a significant extent, says Laurence Sharman, the (Christian) chairman of the PTA, “an undercover school”.

The Muslim parents, however, are only too keen to talk in the playground about what might be seen by some in their communities as a controversial schooling decision.

“We actually bought a flat in the catchment area for the children to come here,” says Nahid Shafiq, the mother of Zainah, four, and Hamza, nine, and wife of Mohammed, a taxi driver. “We were attracted by the high moral values of the school, and that’s what we wanted our kids to have. None of us has any problem with it being a Jewish school. Why on earth should we? Our similarities as religions and cultures are far greater and more important than our differences. It’s not even an issue.

“At the mosque, occasionally, people ask why we send the children here, but there is no antagonism whatsoever, and neither is there from anyone in our family. In fact, it was a big family decision to try and get them into King David. This is the real world. This is the way real people do things in the real world. All the violence and prejudice and problems – that’s not real, that’s just what you see on the news.”

Fawzia Ismail (the mother of Aly-Raza, nine, and Aliah, six) is equally positive. “My nephew came here and my brother showed me the school, so it’s a bit of a family tradition now. We’re very, very pleased with the school. It’s so friendly. All the kids mix and go to one another’s parties and are in and out of each other’s houses. They teach a bit about Israel, but we don’t have any problem with that. There are such similarities between our people and our societies.”

Irum Rashid (mother of Hanan, nine, and Maryam, four) says that a lot of people in Small Heath are considering moving to Moseley because of King David. “It’s a very happy school, the behaviour is fantastic, the food is great – because it’s kosher – and so are the SATs results.”

But what about learning Hebrew and the Jewish prayers? “I think it’s great. The more knowledge, the more understanding,” says one of the mothers. “They learn all they need about Islam at mosque school. Actually, the kids often sing Hebrew songs in the bath, which is a bit confusing because we speak Gujarati at home, but I think it’s great.”

The Jewish parents and teachers I speak to are just as enthusiastic. “You know, in these difficult times in the world, I think we show how things should be done. It’s really a bit of a beacon,” says one teacher, whose three children all went to King David and ended up at Oxford University.

Parent Trevor Aremband is from South Africa. “In Johannesburg, we have Jewish schools, but they’re 100 per cent Jewish, so we were a bit shocked when we first came here. But the integration works so well. It’s clearly the way to go in today’s world. My son is eight and has loads of Muslim friends.”

The most important thing, I am told repeatedly, is that the cross-cultural friendships forged at King David last a lifetime. I hear a conversation about how a Rebecca is going to fly over from the States for a Fatima’s wedding. I am told about a pair of lads, one Jewish, one Muslim, who became friends the day they started in the nursery, went to senior school together as well as to university and are now living close to one another with their wives and families and are currently on holiday together.

King David was not designed to be such a beacon of inter-faith cooperation and friendship. Founded in 1865 as The Hebrew School, it was 100 per cent Jewish until the late 1950s.

Then two things began to happen: there was a growth in the Muslim population in middle-income areas such as Moseley, and a shrinking of Britain’s Jewish community, especially outside the main centres of London and Manchester. Muslim children started coming to the school in the early 1960s, but the current position, in which they are in the majority (Jewish children comprise 35 per cent, Muslims 50 per cent, Christians, Sikhs and other, 15 per cent) is very new.

“One of the things that surprises people about this school,” says Langford, “is that it’s not an especially privileged intake. Half of our kids have English as an additional language. But the amazing thing is how well it all works. We have a new little boy here from China, whose only English a few weeks ago was to ask for the toilet. He now speaks English – and can say the Shema perfectly.

“If you gauge success, for instance, by racial incidents, which schools always have to report to the LEA, we have at the most one a term. And that can just mean some harsh words with a racial slant used in the playground. At multicultural inner city schools where I’ve taught, there will be far, far more than that, possibly one or more a week.”

In terms of SATs and Ofsted inspections, King David has also shone. It is rated as good – the second highest possible ranking – in all areas, and Ofsted made a special mention at the last inspection of the integration between children of different faiths and races. In the recent SATs results, the school also came in well above the national average in all subjects.

Steve Langford, a Warwick University economics graduate, is himself a bit of a paradox. He is Church of England on both parental sides and only became interested in Judaism when he worked in a Jewish summer camp in Massachusetts in his gap year. His interest paid off when he got a teaching job a King David. Now he is learning Ivrit at evening classes and goes to Israel for holidays.

The Rabbi of Birmingham’s Singers Hill Synagogue, one of the financial backers of King David, is proud of Steve Langford and of the school’s extraordinary interfaith record.

“King David School is amazing,” says Rabbi Tann. “The reason I think it works well is that racism is engendered entirely by adults. Children don’t have it within themselves. Their natural mode is to play happily with everyone. It’s only when adults say, ‘Don’t play with him, he’s black, or don’t have anything to do with him, he’s Muslim, that troubles begin.’

“We never have any racial or inter-faith problems at all. Not ever. In 20 years here, it’s simply never happened in any significant way. We teach that if you don’t like someone, you avoid them. Don’t play with them. Go to the other side of the playground. I believe that if more people followed the lead of King David School, we’d have a much more peaceful world.”

 

Michelle Boorstein: How Influential will the anti-Muslims Become?

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by loonwatch
Michelle Boorstein

Are we finally hearing some discussion about the “anti-Muslim movement” in the mainstream media? The discussion seems to be getting more play because of high profile protests and news. Michelle Boorstein asks, “How influential will anti-Muslim groups become?”

If Loonwatch has anything to do about it, the answer is, they won’t become influential because we are going to battle them and expose them for the nuts that they are. At the moment, if we are to take the words of Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer at their face value, anti-Muslims are getting a hearing from deep within our government all the way to common wingnut Nazis who proudly displays signs such as, “Everything I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11″

How influential will anti-Muslim groups become?

By Michelle Boorstein

What is the future of the anti-Muslim movement in the United States?

For years there has been a small but passionate group of people concerned with the influence of Islam, and their activism seemed to be largely focused on blogging and lobbying political conservatives. But their presence — and the arguments they raise — seem to be coming into the broader sphere of late.

There’s the fight over a mosque at the Ground Zero site, and this weekend the on-line electronic payment firm PayPal reportedly cut off the anti-Muslim blog Atlas Shrugs, saying it’s a hate site.

Needless to say, this has prompted a roar from Atlas Shrugs supporters who see political bias.

Commentators across the spectrum, from the libertarian Becket Fund to the progressive Media Matters are asking: Where is this anti-Muslim movement going? How significantly will it steer the debate in this country about religious freedom and bias?