Archive for Robert Spencer

Loon Victory: Muslim Doctor Ousted for FGM Thought Crime

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2012 by loonwatch
Dr. Hatem al-HajDr. Hatem al-Haj

by Ilisha

All across the Looniverse, hate mongers are congratulating themselves on a stunning victory.

They’ve managed to oust Dr. Hatem (Elhagaly) al-Haj from his role as a pediatrician at the prestigious, US-based Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for nothing more than a thought crime.  There is no evidence Dr. al-Haj has injured, neglected, or in any way harmed any of his patients, and furthermore, there are no formal complaints against him stemming from his practice.

The successful campaign was spearheaded, according to loons, by a lone Jihad Watcher, who garnered hundreds of signatures on a petition submitted to the Mayo Clinic alleging the doctor endorsed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and therefore posed a potential danger to his patients. The “smoking gun” and centerpiece of  the campaign against Dr. al-Haj is a paper he wrote seven years ago as part of his doctoral thesis. The paper was translated from Arabic into English by a notorious translator already exposed as incompetent by Loonwatch here.

The translation appears to be deliberately manipulative, and falsely attributes a quote to Dr. al-Haj saying FGM  is “an honor for women.” It is unclear whether Dr. al-Haj resigned under pressure or was fired by the Mayo Clinic in the wake of the manufactured “controversy,” but it is nevertheless an astounding achievement for bigots devoted to marginalizing Muslims in the West and demonizing Islam.

Dr. al-Haj is the latest victim caught in the crosshairs of a relentless, coordinated campaign to portray Muslims as misogynist and barbaric by falsely attributing FGM to Islam. In fact, FGM does not have its origins in Islam, is not practiced exclusively by Muslims, and is virtually unheard of in many Muslim-majority countries.

What is FGM?

Female Genital Mutilation is a term used by most human rights groups to describe various degrees of genital cutting performed on girls and women. The United Nations categorizes four major types:

Type 1:

Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.

Type 2:

Excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labia minora.

Type 3:

Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).

Type 4:

Others, such as pricking, piercing or incising, stretching, burning the clitoris, scraping of itssue surrounding the vaginal orifice, cutting of the vagina, introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or to tighten the opening.

How prevalent are these procedures?

Although bigots always cite the most extreme forms of FGM and the corresponding side effects, Types I and II are most common, accounting for about 85% of all FGM procedures. Type III is mostly confined to Somalia, northern Sudan and Djibouti, and the highest rates of FGM today are found in parts of Africa:

FGM Map

Why is FGM performed?

FGM is sometimes viewed as necessary to control a woman’s sexuality, and though evidence contradicts this notion, some believe FGM helps to to ensure virginity and fidelity by diminishing sexual desire. In some tribal communities, FGM is part of traditional initiation rituals for girls entering womanhood, and continuation of the practice is sometimes bolstered by myths, such as the notion an uncut clitoris will grow to the size of a penis.

In other cases FGM is incorrectly thought to enhance fertility and improve hygiene, and some perceive it as more aesthetically pleasing. Some practitioners also believe it is religiously sanctioned or mandated, and in some communities, it is a prerequisite to marriage.

Is FGM a Muslim problem?

FGM does not have its origins in Islam, but it does need to be discussed among Muslims for several reasons. The practice is widespread in some Muslim majority countries, especially in Africa, and in countries like Somalia and Egypt, large majorities of girls undergo some form of FGM.

There is no direct correlation between religion and FGM. However, Muslims in areas where the practice is common often conflate this cultural inheritance with religion, believing FGM is either mandated or at least recommended, in Islam.

What is the origin of FGM?

Despite the fact many hate sites refer to FGM as “Islamic,” its is an ancient practice that predates Islam by centuries. FGM is thought to have originated under the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt, which is why Type III procedures are sometimes referred to as “pharaonic circumcision.” Archeologists have found circumcised female mummies, and in the fifth century BCE, Herodotus reported the practice among the Phoenicians and Ethiopians, as well as Egyptians, which means FGM predates Christianity as well.

Various forms of female genital cutting have also been traced to parts of Africa, the Philippines, the Upper Amazon in South America, and to parts of Australia where aborigines performed FGM and in some areas, still do. Female genital cutting also occurred among the early Romans.

In Victorian times, clitoridectomies were performed in Western countries.  The first reported clitoridectomy in the West was carried out in Berlin in 1822 by Isaac Baker Brown, an English gynecologist who was the president of the Medical Society of London. He believed that “unnatural irritation” of the clitoris caused epilepsy, hysteria, and mania, and would remove it whenever he had the opportunity. His views sparked outrage and he was eventually expelled from the Obstetrical Society, though he certainly was not alone in believing removal of the clitoris was a legitimate treatment. As recently as the 1950s, clitoridectomies were sometimes performed in Western Europe and the United States to treat various “ailments,” including hysteria, epilepsy, mental disorders, masturbation, nymphomania, melancholia and lesbianism.

What’s being done to end the practice worldwide?

Fortunately, FGM has already been eradicated in many regions, and in 2003, the United Nations launched the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation as part of a campaign to end the practice worldwide. In recent years, a growing number of countries have passed laws banning FGM. However, laws alone are not enough to eradicate the practice, and may in some cases, merely drive FGM underground.

Firmly entrenched in some societies where it has been practiced for centuries, FGM is viewed as essential by some families, regardless of their religious affiliation. If physicians are banned by law from performing any form of FGM, families sometimes resort to an unlicensed practitioner who may use crude tools in an unsanitary environment, causing further pain, trauma, and potential complications. Stiff penalties also may deter families from seeking proper medical attention if complications arise, further endangering the lives of girls who undergo the procedure despite the ban.

This brings us back to Dr. Al-Haj, who discussed in his paper the “ritual nick” as a possible alternative to other forms of FGM, which in some cases may appease families convinced FGM is necessary without causing permanent harm to the girl or woman. This suggestion caused a firestorm of protest, yet it is noteworthy that the supposedly “radical” position espoused by Dr. al-Haj in his paper was endorsed in 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics as reported in the New York Times. Criticizing a federal law that prohibits all forms of female genital procedures, including the ritual nick, the group said:

It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm. ~ The American Academy of Pediatrics

No matter how adamant and eager activists may be to end the practice, social change is a process, and it takes time. The strategy for eliminating the practice should first and foremost take into account the health and well being of girls and women, and not the politics of bigotry.

The Other Side of the Story

Many of the hate sites crowing about their victory include a link to Dr. al-Haj’s website, despite the fact his thoughtful explanation undermines their case against him:

I have always condemned Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. Moreover, I have unequivocally voiced both orally and in written form the condemnation of all harmful forms of Female Genital Cutting FGC, justifiably known as FGM. Furthermore, I have taught that nothing in Islamic Law and religious texts supports such a heinous crime. In fact, it is repugnant to Islamic principles and values to inflict such trauma and suffering on any female. The severest forms of this practice are akin to killing in Islamic Law.

The statements I have made, that are now being unfairly distorted against me, are those regarding a subtype of Female Genital Cutting FGC, a harmless procedure called the ritual nick. This subtype doesn’t involve any form of clitorectomy. It is merely an incision (or a minimal excision, as explained in the details below) of part of the clitoral hood, the counterpart to the foreskin in males, and does not remove any part of the clitoris. This opinion is scientifically irrefutable and shared by many American non-Muslim pediatricians. It is the position expressed by the Committee on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics. [Pediatrics Vol. 125 No. 5 May 1, 2010 pp. ‎‎1088 -1093‎.], which noted:

“This [the ritual nick] is no more of an alteration than ear piercing. A legitimate concern is that parents who are denied the cooperation of a physician will send their girls back to their home country for a much more severe and dangerous procedure or use the services of a non–medically trained person in North America.”…

The claim that I said, “Female genital mutilation is an honor” is so repugnant. The statement sounds to me like an intractable conflict. However, my opponents have used against me every other logical fallacy in their campaign, such as generalization, poisoning the well, straw man, etc. Therefore, it does not surprise me that they ascribed such statement to me.

Despite my acknowledgment of the harmlessness of the ritual nick, I have unwaveringly discouraged all people from having it done because of its illegality in the US. I have never advised, suggested or encouraged any of my patients or their families to undertake any type of female circumcision, including the ritual nick…

The smear campaigns against me are unfounded in that they are based on religious bias, ignorance and misconceptions of my real positions and actions on the issues at hand. These defamers have misquoted me, taken excerpted words out of context, distorted my position and plainly fabricated lies against me in order to vilify me as some type of evil, backward extremist physician. I am none of these things. Quite the contrary, I give medical care to my young female patients, as I would my own daughters…”

Read the Rest here: http://www.drhatemalhaj.com/

Whatever one thinks of the “lesser evil” of a ritual nick, it doesn’t seem as if mere discussion of the prospect should cost a doctor his job. As Dr. al-Haj has said, and even the loons admit, he has never performed any form of FGM, has never seen any such procedure performed, and has never actually recommended it to any patient. His paper merely provided an overview of Muslim opinion with respect to FGM.

Circumcision in Islam: A Wide Range of Opinions

Hate sites put an emphasis on any evidence they can harvest to suggest FGM is mandated by Sharia (Islamic Law). Fortunately, they are not able to present evidence from the Qur’an, nor reliable hadith, promoting the practice of FGM. They must resort to quoting dubious sources, ranging from uneducated villagers to imams whose credibility is highly questionable, and who are not recognized authorities in the Muslim community. In the absence of a comprehensive global survey, it is impossible to determine how widespread support for FGM is among Muslim scholars. However, it is clear there is a broad range of opinion regarding the practice.

Despite Pamela Geller’s constant reference to “clitoridectomies” as being “Islamic,” there is apparently no credible Muslim scholar who believes removal of the clitoris is mandated in Islam. Based on his interpretation of the ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago, American-born Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller has said that circumcision is mandatory, and includes removing the prepuce of the penis in men and the prepuce of the clitoris in women. His opinion is based not on the Qur’an, but an interpretation of the Sunnah, and he makes it clear that this does not include removal of the clitoris itself. Keller distinguishes between the procedure he advocates, which he refers to as “circumcision,” and what he considers to be female genital mutilation.

Other prominent Muslim scholars have issued fatwas against FGM in all its forms. In 2006, leaders from around the world gathered in Egypt and ruled female circumcision un-Islamic, and the following year, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa against the practice. Gomaa said FGM is not commanded in the Qur’an, nor the hadith, and while it may have been accepted in the past, studies showing dangers to health make it unacceptable today.

Gomaa also pointed out that there is no record of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives or daughters ever having undergone the procedure, and suggested it was an unwelcome innovation stemming from cultural tradition. The full fatwa can be read on his website here.

Gomaa received support from the Grand Sheikh of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University, Muhammad Sayyed Thanthawi. Thanthawi said female circumcision is prohibited and cannot be justified on religious grounds. Despite the loons consistent efforts to present inauthentic hadiths as evidence of support for FGM, Thanthawi also confirmed that FGM is justified neither by the Qur’an nor reliable hadith, and further stated that circumcision in Islam applies only to men.

While the circumcision of men is a majority opinion, it is further testament to diversity that some Muslim scholars believe all forms of circumcision are prohibited in Islam. They cite passages in the Qur’an (40:64, 64:3, 95:4, 4:119, and 6:38) as evidence that God created the human being in the desired state, without need for alteration, and argue that circumcision violates the central theme of compassion in Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad is said to have been born without a foreskin (aposthetic), and while some Muslims argue boys should be circumcised in order to emulate the Prophet, opponents point out it is possible to glean the opposite message: since the Prophet Muhammad obviously didn’t undergo circumcision, boys today can best follow his example by not being circumcised.

Don’t expect to see this wide range of opinion on the issue of circumcision on hate sites devoted to portraying Muslims as a monolith. Anyone sincerely devoted to ending the practice of FGM should be promoting statements by Grand Mufti Gomaa and like minded scholars to spread the good news FGM is not mandated in Islam. Instead, bigots masquerading as “human rights activists” use their considerable resources to spread the opposite message, putting their agenda ahead of the interests of the girls and women whose rights they pretend to represent.

The Fate of Dr. al-Haj

Emboldened by their ill-conceived victory, anti-Muslim bigots have waged a new campaign aimed at having the doctor’s license to practice medicine revoked as well. Because their baseless accusations can’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny, the new campaign should fail. Unfortunately, in the current climate, where irrationality and knee-jerk reactions often prevail, they may very well succeed in sacrificing Dr. al-Haj’s career and reputation on the alter of anti-Muslim bigotry.

It is shocking and disappointing that the Mayo Clinic would take action based on this devious and dishonest witch hunt. Dr. al-Haj is guilty of nothing more than being a Muslim and engaging in a “thought crime,” perpetrated years ago in a paper written as part of his doctoral thesis. If the prestigious Mayo Clinic is willing to cave into a few loud-mouthed bigots based on a campaign of lies and distortions, what’s next for Western Muslims?

Sheila Musaji: Geller & Spencer Attempt to Turn Congressional Race into a Religious War

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by loonwatch

More religion-baiting and Islamophobic anti-Muslim hate-mongering from the premiere religious bigots of the day, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.

Geller & Spencer attempt to turn Congressional race into a religious war

by Sheila Musaji (TAM)

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are outraged that a political campaign in New Jersey has included the issue of one candidates support for Israel.

Both Spencer and Geller refer their readers to an article in the Washington Free Beacon about the democratic primary race between Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell.

That one-sided article noted that “For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.  And, it noted an ad by an Arab group in the community supporting Pascrell that produced an ad urging the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community.”  It also refers to an article by Aref Assaf published in February titled Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9.  It also included this quote “I don’t read Arabic well, but I am pretty sure that the pro-Pascrell posters that have appeared across the district are not calling to elect the candidate who supports a strong relationship between America and the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is rooted in progressive Western values—women’s rights, gay rights, tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.,” said Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

It is impossible to believe that Mr. Block was unaware that it was a letter from a group of Rabbis that began this entire discussion.  It is also impossible to believe that the author of this article, Adam Kredo, was also unaware of the implications of that letter (since he mentions it later in his article).  Nevertheless, Kredo’s article was the basis for both Geller and Spencer’s posts.

Geller says

A New Jersey congressional race is becoming a referendum on a candidate’s Judaism. Muslims are going after a Jewish congressman. Islamic Jew-hatred rears its ugly [be]head for the first time in a congressional race. But believe you me, it won’t be the last time. Islamic Jew-Hatred—it’s in the quran.

It’s very ugly, and the enemedia, self-enforcing the sharia, is not covering it. And the local press is giving the Islamic supremacists all the column inches the haters demand. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, is a vile nazi who has been getting the lion’s share of press.

Assaf wrote in an oped in the New Jersey Star Ledger that the Jewish candidate under attack, Steve Rothman, “is using his support of Israel as the centerpiece of his campaign.” It is Assaf and his Jew-hating constiuency [sic] that are making it all about Rothman’s Judaism and Israel. The Muslim Jew-haters are making it the centerpiece of their campaign. Rothman “has consciously avoided adding fuel to the ethnic fire by focusing instead on his congressional record, note political observers in both New Jersey and Washington, D.C.”

Spencer titles his article “We want this Jew out of office”: Islamic antisemitism invades New Jersey Congressional primary race and calls this An ugly new development in American politics: Muslim voters lining up to defeat a Jewish candidate.

It would be worthwhile to read the actual article written by Assef that would provoke Geller to call him a “vile nazi” and “Muslim Jew-hater”.  Here is what Assef wrote

It may be Kosher but is it illegal? As the Record reported on February 17, 2012, several presidents of Orthodox synagogues are urging the Republican-registered members of their respective congregations to switch party affiliation in order to vote for Steve Rothman. Rep. Steve Rothman is battling fellow Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell for the newly redrawn Ninth Congressional District.

The primary elections are set for June 5 and because the district is heavily democratic, the winner will most likely carry the November elections too. The Record’s article is based on a letter first posted in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News. The Record calls into question the legality of such a letter signed by well-known religious leaders and debates the possible IRS code violations that such a position entails. Skirting the gray line of legality, these letters do carry the weight of the religious institutions the signers represent and when you consider the Orthodox community in Passaic is closely-knit, even when the names are not attached to their religious affiliations, they are still a known entity. While religious institutions may engage in local, state, and even federal elections, there are clear guidelines they must not cross to maintain their tax-exempt status under Section 501 of the IRS code, which governs non-profit and tax exempt entities. Such entities are clearly prohibited from endorsing political candidates and/or contributing to their campaign funds and must provide equal access to all competing candidates.

The question remains when such activities exceed the limit of the law and spill over being a mere informational letter. As quoted in the Record, one of the letter signers, Akiva Hirth, said, “It’s a free country,” adding that “religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.” Yet a closer read tells a different story; and I quote from the original letter: “Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race. The choice is clear – support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.” This is clearly a political endorsement. The IRS is called upon to investigate the legal ramifications of such a violation.

It may turn out to be a non-issue, but I am puzzled that so many Jewish Rabbis would and for mere temporary political expediency encourage their congregation to go against their faith and register Democratic. Like observant American Muslims who also favor the Republican Party, Orthodox Jews would choose the Republican platform for strictly religious reasons dealing with abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, and support for Israel. I would not want my Imam to urge me to change my party label so irreverently. It’s just plain dishonest.

But if it is Kosher for Orthodox rabbis to preach to their members on political candidates, then it must be Halal for Muslim Imams to do the same. We will soon find out if Muslim religious leaders will reach out to their respective congregations. Imams, like rabbis, wield disproportionate leverage in and uncontested access to their congregations.

American Muslims are said to be evenly split between those registered as Democrat and Republicans. If Republican Muslims in New Jersey emulate the Jewish voters, and assuming their numerical symmetry, they will at least cancel out the ‘converted’ Jewish votes. Real democratic voters will then decide the election outcome. I will be reporting back on developments.

Unquestionably, this primary election is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities. To what extent the Muslim community will be energized by these developments will have to be determined. As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s.

The incident that Assef was responding to was reported on in an article titled Letter asks Orthodox Jews to switch parties and support Rothman.  Here is the text of that article:

PASSAIC — The leaders of Orthodox Jewish synagogues in the city are urging their congregants to switch parties from Republican to Democrat so they can vote for Rep. Steve Rothman in the June 5 primary against Rep. Bill Pascrell.

A letter endorsed by 15 presidents of Passaic shuls was mailed last week to the homes of Orthodox Jews in the city’s Passaic Park section who are registered Republicans. In the letter, the presidents urge them to register as Democrats by the April 11 deadline so they so they can support Rothman, who is considered more pro-Israel than Pascrell.

“Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race,” the letter reads. “The choice is clear — support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.”

The letter, which carries the heading “A Message from Passaic’s Shul Presidents,” was paid for by the Rothman campaign. It notes that the redrawn boundaries of the 9th congressional district heavily favors Democrats. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will likely capture the seat in November.

The letter, which has also been published in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News, is an outgrowth of the recent endorsement of Rothman by Gary Schaer, a prominent member of Passaic’s Orthodox Jewish community who is also City Council president and a state assemblyman.

Although political leaders are free to endorse anyone they want, the letter raises questions about whether religious leaders violated the IRS guidelines that restrict religious non-profits from endorsing political candidates.

Section 501 of the IRS code says religious non-profits are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” The code further prohibits “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates…”

Marc Owens, a Washington, D.C tax lawyer who headed the IRS’ tax exemption unit from 1990 to 2000, said the issue is whether the synagogue leaders were acting as individuals or on behalf of their religious institutions when they wrote the letter.  “Is it the religious institution speaking or are they speaking as individuals?” Owens said.

Only one of the 15 synagogue presidents who signed the letter could be reached for comment on Friday. In a brief telephone interview, Akiva Hirth said he signed the letter because he was within his rights to do so.  “It’s a free country,” Hirth said, adding that religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.

The Jewish vote is considered crucial for both Rothman and Pascrell, who are locked in a tight battle in the Democratic primary. Spokesmen for both candidates played down the issue on Friday.

Paul Swibinski, a spokesman for Rothman, defended the letter as a legitimate voter registration tactic. “I don’t see anything improper here at all,” he said. “There are no names of synagogues or temples listed in the letter. It is clearly a personal endorsement from leaders of these synagogues. It is not an endorsement by the synagogues themselves.”

Pascrell wasn’t eager to make an issue of it, either. “If anyone is violating tax laws, then we clearly have a concern,” he said.

It would seem that simply following the timeline of events clarifies this whole incident.  A group of Jewish Rabbis raised the issue of a candidates support for Israel as a reason to vote for that candidate.  After they sent out a letter encouraging the Jewish community to support one candidate based on this issue, Aref Assaf wrote his article calling their actions into question on the basis of U.S. law.  He also expressed his sadness that such behavior in a local primary election “is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities” against each other.

It is sad to see this being made into a “religious issue” rather than a simple political issue.  Who is the best candidate to represent the citizens of the 9th district of New Jersey should be the issue.

Geller and Spencer are old hands at stirring the pot of religious bigotry in political campaigns.  This is simply the most recent example.

When Gary Boisclair ran a congressional campaign vs Keith Ellison that was based entirely on hatred of Muslims – Pamela Geller was upset at Youtube for pulling Boisclair’s anti-Muslim ad. Geller called it “enforcing Sharia” and she said More sharia (Islamic law): this is enforcement of blasphemy laws, do not insult Islam. How much more of our freedom are we going to allow them to seize?

When there was a furore over Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an in a photo opportunity after his swearing in as a Congressman – Robert Spencer wrote This is allegedly a political masterstroke by Ellison, but it really just begs the question. Thomas Jefferson, obviously, was not a Muslim. In his famous statement on religious freedom he wrote about whether one’s neighbor believed in one god or twelve “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But what no one is willing to discuss here is whether the Qur’an and Islam really fit into that framework. When I have mentioned that it sanctions lying to unbelievers (3:28 and 16:106, in the mainstream understanding of those verses by Islamic theologians and schools of jurisprudence; cf. Ibn Kathir and many others), people have responded that the Bible is full of nasty stuff as well. But people aren’t swearing on the Bible because it is full of nasty stuff, or endorsing any of it that might actually be there. The idea of swearing on the Bible arises from Christian belief and is buttressed by Christian theology—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—that requires honesty and eschews all dishonesty as coming from the “Father of Lies.” The permissions to be dishonest in the Qur’an are not mitigated by Islamic belief, tradition, and theology, but are in fact reinforced—by Muhammad’s statements that “war is deceit” and that lying is permissible in wartime, and more.

In short, to swear on the Bible is to affirm, among other things, that one is part of a tradition, and to swear on the Qur’an does not amount to an affirmation of the same tradition, no matter how much Glenn Beck or Ed Koch or anyone wishes it does or assumes it does. Islamic teachers daily use the Qur’an to establish principles that differ radically from those of Judeo-Christian tradition. These questions need to be discussed in a forthright and honest manner by Ellison and by the mainstream media, instead of being swept under the rug or condemned as bigotry.”

The decent people of the 9th Congressional District of New Jersey don’t need such bigoted individuals involving themselves in this election and fueling the fires of mutual distrust and bigotry.

Neo-Nazi who Was Defended by Robert Spencer Arrested by the FBI

Posted in Feature, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by loonwatch

In May of 2010, Douglas Story‘s vehicle was photographed containing anti-Islam slogans and neo-Nazi symbols:

Is this the back of some neo-nazi’s truck, or the cover of Robert Spencer’s next book?

CAIR filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Transportation about the “license plate of Douglas Story” claiming that the numbers “14″ and “88″ were symbolic neo-Nazi code.

As Loonwatch contributor Rousseau reported at the time,

CAIR picked up on this loony truck driver’s mural and then apparently noticed his license plate number, which read “14CV88.” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR, argued that this number was code for neo-Nazi white supremacist ideas; Hooper explained: “…Among neo-Nazis, 88 refers to ‘Heil Hitler,’ because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. White supremacists sometimes use the number 14 as shorthand for the 14-word motto, ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’”

Story denied being a neo-Nazi, saying instead that the numbers on his license plate referred to his favorite NASCAR racers. This turned out to be a lie…more anti-Muslim so-called taqiyyah if you will.

CAIR was correct that Story was a White Supremacist. The Washington Post’s Brigid Schulte reported just a couple of days later that Douglas Story’s Facebook page was replete with white supremacist associations:

Arguing that his license plate was purely about NASCAR and had nothing to do with race, Story told me that he had a Jewish sister-in-law and had attended his niece’s bat mitzvah. He denied being anti-Semitic.

But here’s how he describes himself on Facebook:

“100% WHITE MAN, 100% ARYAN, 100% PRO-LIFE (Children are innocent), 100% PRO DEATH PENALTY (Criminal Scum aren’t innocent).
Over the past 28 years; I, like David Duke, have had an Awakening.”

Note to self: In these days of social media, Twitter and personal oversharing on the web, always check Facebook…

When I called Story to ask about the Facebook page, he continued to maintain that his license plate message had nothing to with racism. He stuck by his NASCAR story. “Southern white men. Southern white sport. What else needs to be said?” he said.

Story acknowledged that he thinks of himself as 100 percent Aryan. “Aryan is a Sanskrit word that means noble,” he said, “no matter what spin the liberal media tries to put on it as being a racist, hate word.”

He said he is an admirer of David Duke, who, he said was “reamed by the media because of his Klan affiliations.” “I am a white nationalist,” Story said. “I am in favor of the whites having their own homeland.” When I asked him where that homeland would be, he said he didn’t know. “The Pacific Northwest maybe. Alaska. Denmark. Greenland. Iceland.”

I asked if he really thought that the Holocaust was a hoax. “I don’t know what to think,” he said.

Rather than condemn Story, Spencer offered this initial defense,

Hamas-linked CAIR smears anti-jihad Virginia driver as Neo-Nazi

…CAIR’s whole story was false in the first place: the driver in question, Douglas Story, is not a neo-Nazi at all, but a racing fan. The alleged code numbers for neo-Nazi slogans were actually favorite race car drivers’ numbers.

Will Honest Ibe Hooper apologize to Douglas Story? Come on, Ibe! It would be the decent thing to do!

Spencer also argued the entire episode was a ploy by CAIR to link “anti-jihadists” like Spencer to neo-Nazi white supremacists,

The implication of the story, of course, was that anti-jihadists are neo-Nazis — which, despite the febrile fantasies of libelblogger Charles Johnson and his cohort, CAIR’s amiable stomach-stapled beekeeper Honest Ibe Hooper, flies in the face of the facts…

Spencer never apologized for being so horribly wrong about his “anti-Jihadist” buddy being a White Supremacist. Instead he posted a one sentence update saying, “The Washington Post has uncovered evidence that Douglas Story is indeed a white supremacist racist. In that case, he deserves whatever he gets from the DMV.”

In a new twist to this story, yesterday, Douglas Story was arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force “after allegedly receiving a fully automatic AK-47 from an undercover agent.”

A Manassas man accused of being a white supremacist was arrested Wednesday by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force after allegedly receiving a fully automatic AK-47 from an undercover agent.

Court records show Douglas Howard Story, 48, of the Manassas area, allegedly provided a semi-automatic AK-47, along with $120, to an undercover law enforcement agent with the intent that it be modified to become fully automatic. He then allegedly received the modified weapon from an undercover agent and was subsequently arrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and FBI  Assistant Director for the Washington Field Office announced Story’s arrest Wednesday.  He has been charged with a violation of the National Firearms Act – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Manassas Patch, 30 May 2012

See also Inside NoVa, 31 May 2012

I’m not a fan of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as they have been deeply involved in abusing constitutional rights, through profiling, secret surveillance and entrapment activities. Story’s arrest however does, once again, bring to surface the fact that the so-called “anti-Jihad/counter-jihad” movement is filled with neo-Nazis, fascists, and racists of one stripe or another.

It is also another opportunity to point out Spencer’s hypocrisy. He asked Ibrahim Hooper to apologize for “defaming” Douglas Story, but cannot and will not bring himself to apologize for supporting a “White supremacist” and defaming Ibrahim Hooper.

Robert Spencer will you finally apologize for defending a neo-Nazi “White Supremacist” even after the above image of his car, replete with neo-Nazi symbolism, the Confederate flag, and anti-Islam propaganda were evident? Do you, Spencer, agree with the neo-Nazi Story that “all we need to know about Islam we learned on 9/11?”

Something tells me Spencer’s apologies and answer will not be forthcoming.

Ratko Mladic on Trial For Genocide that Islamophobes Love to Deny

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by loonwatch

Suffice to say many Islamophobes deny the Genocide against Bosnian Muslims, chief amongst them are Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.

Ratko Mladic goes on trial for genocide

(AlJazeera English)

The trial of General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb army chief accused of orchestrating war crimes and a campaign of genocide, has begun at a special UN court at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia made their opening statements against Mladic on Wednesday almost a year after his arrest in Serbia and subsequent deportation after years on the run.

Mladic is accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including orchestrating the week-long massacre of over 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian war.

Prosecutor Dermot Groome said the prosecution would present evidence showing “beyond a reasonable doubt the hand of Mr. Mladic in each of these crimes”.

“The world watched in disbelief that in neighborhoods and villages within Europe a genocide appeared to be in progress,” said Groome, describing the beginning of the war in 1992.

“By the time Mladic and his troops murdered thousands in Srebrenica … they were well-rehearsed in the craft of murder,” Groome told the court.

Older but defiant

Dressed in a dark grey suit and dark tie, Mladic, now 70, flashed a thumbs-up and clapped his hands as he entered the courtroom in The Hague.

In the packed public seating area, a mother of one of the Srebrenica victims whispered “vulture” several times as prosecutors opened their case.

Later, Mladic made eye contact with one of the Muslim women in the audience, running a hand across his throat, in a gesture that led Presiding judge Alphons Orie to hold a brief recess and order an end to “inappropriate interactions.”

“Ratko Mladic is clearly not the stocky, physically imposing, bullish man that we remember from images of the early ’90s,” Al Jazeera’s Barnaby Phillips reported from The Hague.

Phillips added, however, that even with his age, the general remained as defiant as ever.

“You could really sense his contempt for this court, which he calls the ‘NATO’ court,” he said.

Axel Hagedorn, a lawyer for many of the mothers of those killed in Srebrenica, said that many of his clients had travelled to The Hague, where they were relieved to finally see Mladic stand trial.

“I think he looks much more healthy than last year, when he appeared, that is good for us, because we hope that he can survive this trial and face imprisonment,” he said.

The Mladic trial would also help build a separate case by the Srebrenica families against the United Nations, he said.

In April, the Dutch Supreme Courht ruled that the UN could not be prosecuted in the Netherlands for failing to prevent genocide in Srebrenica, but the families’ lawyers plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

“This case is very linked to our case, on the failure of the United Nations to protect the people of Srebrenica,” Hagedorn said.

There are concerns that Mladic’s trial could be disrupted by the defendant’s poor health. He is believed to have suffered at least one stroke while in hiding and was admitted to hospital for pneumonia last October.

Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader, died of a heart attack in detention in 2006 before a verdict in his trial could be reached.

‘Biggest butcher’

Outside, protesters held up placards including one that said “we want justice for the victims of Srebrenica”.

Mladic, who was arrested in a village in northern Serbia last May, is also charged over the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which more than 10,000 people died.

Mladic has refused to enter a plea and rejected the charges against him as “monstrous” and “obnoxious” in a preliminary hearing last June. He says he was defending his country and his people as leader of the Bosnian Serb army. The court entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf.

He is the last of the main protagonists involved in the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia to go on trial in front of the special court established by the United Nations to prosecute crimes committed during the conflicts.

“This is the biggest butcher of the Balkans and the world,” Munira Subasic, 65, told the AFP news agency. She lost 22 relatives to Bosnian Serb military forces when Srebrenica was overrun in July 1995.

“I’ll look into his eyes and ask him if he repents,” said Subasic, who said she would watch the trial’s opening from the public gallery at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The case has stirred up deep emotions in the Balkans and Wednesday’s proceedings were broadcast live on big screens in Sarajevo, where thousands died between 1992 and 1995.

“I hope that many of those who are disillusioned and believe that Mladic is a Serb hero will change their minds, and that the trial will demonstrate that he was just a criminal and a coward,” Fikret Grabovica, president of the association of parents and children killed in the siege of Sarajevo, said.

“Even if Mladic lives until the verdict, it will bring only mild satisfaction for the victims of Srebrenica and hundreds of other places in the Serb Republic,” Grabovica added, referring to the entity that rules Serb majority areas of Bosnia.

‘Not satisfied’

Since the end of the war, Bosnia-Herzegovina has been divided into a federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, and the Serb Republic.

Mladic’s lawyers last week attempted to have the trial pushed back as the court pondered their request to have presiding judge Alphons Orie removed from the bench. They had argued that Orie would be biased against Mladic because he had already condemned several of his former subordinates.

But Theodor Meron, the president of the court, denied the request.

“I am not satisfied that Mladic has demonstrated that a reasonable observer … would reasonably apprehend bias. I accordingly find Mladic’s request for Judge Orie’s disqualification to be unmeritorious,” he said in a statement.

Mladic is being held in the same prison as his former political leader Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008 and is now about halfway through his trial on similar charges to Mladic.

Mladic’s lawyers  Monday night filed another request to have the trial adjourned for six months, saying they had not had enough time to prepare, due to “errors” by the prosecution in disclosing documents.

Groome said on Wednesday he would not oppose a “reasonable adjournment”.

Dearborn Anti-Islam Conference Discriminates Against Muslim Women it Claims to Save

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

Omar Baddar and a host of other organizations responded to the hateful anti-Islam and anti-Arab conference put on by professional bigots Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. The founders of SIOA crassly titled the event, “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference.” Seeking to manipulate and abuse the memory of a young Muslim girl who was murdered by her step-father.

Her murder had nothing to do with Islam, but the hate-mongerers insist on trying to smear Islam at any opportunity.

In the following video we get the facts. We see how discriminatory and racist to the core the anti-Islam brigades behind the “conference” really are! We also see how scared they are of confrontation and being challenged on their hateful bigotry:

Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

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

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer only preach to their minions, and anyone else is not accepted.

Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

By Eli Clifton on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:30 am, ThinkProgress

Yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan, noted anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer hosted a conference promising to advocate for “human rights” in one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. Geller, writing on her blog on Sunday, warned, “We will meet fierce resistance by Islamic supremacists who will do anything, say anything to impose the sharia and whitewash the oppression, subjugation and slaughter of women under Islamic law.”

But surprisingly, Muslim women found themselves denied entry to the conference and, after patiently waiting in the corridor after being told to wait, were removed from the Hyatt Hotel by the Dearborn Police Department and Hyatt security.

Several of the young women commented that they shared a similar appearance with Jessica Mokdad, the young women who Geller and Spencer claim was murdered in an “honor killing” (a conclusion not shared by Mokdad’s family or Michigan prosecutors).

ThinkProgress attempted to attend the event and was turned away, and eventually removed from the Hyatt by the police, along with the young women. One of the women commented, “I tried emailing [Pamela Geller to register] and I literally couldn’t get any kind of response back.” That comment seems to contradict Geller’s claim that she wants to help Muslim women and that the conference was in defense of the human rights of Muslim women.

Another woman who tried to attend the conference told ThinkProgress:

Coming in, I was asking where the human rights conference is. [Hyatt Security and Dearborn Police] were like, ‘what are you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘the human rights conference on the second floor.’ They were like, ‘the anti-Islam conference?’ That’s what they’re calling it now.

And another woman expressed surprise that Geller, who has asked to hear from more Muslim voices on human rights issues, was denying Muslims access to her event. “I watched an interview with her […] and she said, ‘Where are the Muslims?’ Well, we’re here!” Watch it (police arrive to escort the women off the Hyatt premises at 3:58):

Pamela Geller emailed ThinkProgress, “They didn’t register. We’ve been announcing for weeks that only registered attendees would be admitted.”

Geller and Spencer play prominent roles in the Islamophobia “echo chamber,” as detailed in the Center for American Progress’s report “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

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

The counter to the anti-Freedom voices:

AAI Community Town Hall Shatters Anti-Muslim Narrative

by Omar Baddar

Yesterday, more than a hundred people gathered at a town hall at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan to stand in solidarity with the Arab American and American Muslim communities against Islamophobia. The town hall, organized by AAI and local community groups, was held in response to an anti-Muslim conference at the Hyatt in Dearborn, organized by Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and other leading Islamophobes.

Islamophobes try to portray themselves as “the real Americans” defending America from the allegedly foreign presence of Muslims, but it was our community town hall that was attended by many elected officials, including Michigan Congressmen John Conyers, Jr. and Hansen Clarke. Elected officials’ presence at our event reiterated the integrality of the American Muslim community in the U.S. and the fringe nature of those who are pushing America to become otherwise.

The town hall opened with an educational panel that included Fear Inc. co-author Eli Clifton, writer Sarah Posner, and AAI President Jim Zogby. Clifton explained in detail the funding sources that finance the anti-Muslim network, while Posner discussed the influence of Islamophobia on American politics. Zogby shed light on the reasons behind the recent rise in Islamophobia, and gave a broader analysis of its implications on U.S. political culture. AAI Executive Director Maya Berry moderated the discussion.

The educational panel was followed by remarks from local community leaders. Noel Saleh of ACCESS talked about the long history of the Arab American and American Muslim communities as an essential part of the fabric of American society. Dawud Walid of CAIR noted how traditional racism played a significant role in the rise of Islamophobia, including the disputing of President Obama’s faith. Osama Siblani of the Arab American News gave a passionate talk about the inevitable defeat of Islamophobes in America because they are working against American values and against history. Others, including Imam Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, Suehaila Amen of the Lebanese American Heritage Club, Imad Hamad of ADC-Michigan, Nabih Ayad of the Arab American Civil Rights League, and interfaith stalwarts Rev. Dan Buttry and Victor Begg also offered powerful remarks at the event.

Congressmen Conyers and Clarke offered passionate words of solidarity with the Arab and Muslim communities. Congressman Clarke noted that Islamophobia should not be a “Muslim issue,” but an American one that is combatted vigorously by all Americans. He also urged the community not to only criticize elected officials who engage in anti-Muslim pandering, but to press those who are silent to speak out against Islamophobia. The town hall concluded with a lively Q&A which left everyone in a positive spirit, ready to take on the challenges we face.

Because of our presence in Dearborn to challenge the anti-Muslim narrative, virtually all media coverage accurately described the other event as the anti-Muslim event and ours as the community response to bigotry. As long as our community stands up and speaks out against Islamophobia, and as long as public officials and the broader American community continue to stand with us, the bigots will never build momentum that can disrupt the diversity and tolerance that characterize our society.

After the conclusion of our event, my colleague Omar Tewfik and I tried to attend and cover the anti-Muslim conference, but were denied entry (quite the contrast from our open-to-all event). We’ll be sharing our story very soon, accompanied with video footage and interesting details.

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