Archive for Tennessee

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by loonwatch

This is a GOP candidate who is getting 6% of the popular vote right now, and this sort of rhetoric is acceptable for a large portion of Americans.

Herman Cain: Americans Can Stop Mosques

Herman Cain said Sunday that Americans should be able to ban Muslims from building mosques in their communities.

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” Cain said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

Last week, the Republican presidential candidate expressed criticism of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, telling reporters at a campaign event that “This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Sharia law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that.”

“This isn’t an innocent mosque,” Cain said.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace pressed him about those comments.

“Let’s go back to the fundamental issue,” Cain said. “Islam is both a religion and a set of laws — Sharia laws. That’s the difference between any one of our traditional religions where it’s just about religious purposes.”

“So, you’re saying that any community, if they want to ban a mosque…” Wallace began.

“Yes, they have the right to do that,” Cain said.

Cain has made a number of controversial comments about Muslims, including a vow to be cautious about allowing a Muslim to serve in his administration.

On Sunday, Cain defended his position, telling Wallace that it’s not discrimination.

“Aren’t you willing to restrict people because of their religion?” Wallace asked.

“I’m willing to take a harder look at people who might be terrorists, that’s what I’m saying,” Cain replied. “Look, I know that there’s a peaceful group of Muslims in this country. God bless them and they’re free to worship. If you look at my career I have never discriminated against anybody, because of their religion, sex or origin or anything like that.”

“I’m simply saying I owe it to the American people to be cautious because terrorists are trying to kill us,” Cain said, “so yes I’m going to err on the side of caution rather than on the side of carelessness.”

Original post: Herman Cain: Americans Have The Right To Ban Mosques In Their Communities

Anti-Islam group finds fertile ground in Nashville

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2011 by loonwatch

Surprise, surprise, ACT for America or as they are better known ACT for Hate’s largest chapter is in Nashville. Bob Smietana does a good job reporting on them in the article below.

Anti-Islam group finds fertile ground in Nashville

by Bob Smietana

ACT! for America sums up its mission in four words: “They must be stopped.”

The “they” in question are Muslims, who ACT! for America’s leaders insist are involved in a stealthy jihad to destroy the United States from the inside out, replacing the Constitution with the Islamic legal code known as Shariah.

The Virginia Beach, Va.-based national nonprofit claims 150,000 members and spreads its message through books, websites, radio ads, cable television and the work of local chapters.

It has become a potent political force in Nashville, home to the largest ACT chapter in the nation. Local members have opposed new mosques and lobbied for laws limiting Islamic influence — including a new state anti-terrorism law that originally referenced Shariah law.

Their message appeals to Bible Belt Christians, who fear that Islam and secularization threaten their way of life, and Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel, who see Muslims as the enemy of that nation. Members point to the 2009 case of Carlos Bledsoe, a Muslim convert and former Tennessee State University student who confessed to murdering an Army recruiter in Little Rock.

Critics say ACT distorts the nature of Islam and labels law-abiding Muslims as terrorists. Local Muslims say they will stand up for their rights to religious freedom.

“We are not afraid of this ACT group,” said Rashed Fakhruddin, a member of the Islamic Center of Nashville. “But we are concerned about the climate of fear they are trying to create.”

ACT has nine chapters in Tennessee: Middle Tennessee — based in Nashville — Cleveland, Hermitage, Jackson, Lebanon, Knoxville, Memphis, Morristown and Niota. Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a Boston-based anti-Islam group, said he’s not surprised that ACT has caught on in Middle Tennessee.

“The extent to which ACT has been successful in Nashville reflects its strong leadership nationally and locally and the frustration of many citizens with the failure of Nashville’s civic leadership and the media to deal with this threat,” he wrote in an email.

Anti-Islam groups fight for new laws

Daniel Bregman, a Nashville eye surgeon, leads the Middle Tennessee chapter. Bregman’s wife, Joanne, an attorney, has been one of the group’s chief lobbyists at the state Capitol.

Bregman turned down several requests for an interview. He appeared in a promotional video produced by the charity’s national office for its recent annual conference, held in Washington, D.C. The video states that Nashville has the largest chapter in the country, although the group won’t reveal its membership numbers.

“There are a couple reasons why a large chapter is good,” he said on the video. “The larger you are, the more power you have.”

The video includes images of the couple, as well as images of the outside of the Islamic Center of Nashville. Bregman repeats the claim that Muslims in the U.S. want to impose Shariah law in the place of the U.S. Constitution and are threatening non-Muslims.

“The imposition of Shariah law, which is the objective of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists in this country, is that I become a second-class citizen,” he said. “If I don’t get killed first.”

ACT members see themselves as warriors in a clash between Western civilization and Islam. That belief is reinforced at local chapter meetings, which feature speakers from other national anti-Islam groups.

They include Frank Gaffney of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy and a star witness for opponents of the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. He has argued on ACT! for America’s cable show that Muslims should be arrested and tried as traitors if they follow any part of Shariah law.

He spoke at a March 15 ACT meeting held at New Hope Community Church in Brentwood, and a recording of his speech recently was posted online.

“Frankly, I feel I am in the presence of a lot of heroes,” he told audience members. “Folks like you are, in the end, what’s going to make a difference between victory and defeat in what I think of as the war for the free world.”

That message appeals to ACT supporters such as J. Lee Douglas, a Brentwood dentist.

Douglas said he usually takes a live-and-let-live approach when it comes to religion. But he doesn’t believe Islam shows the same respect to other faiths.

“I think with Islam, there is an effort to not just leave people alone,” he said. “There is a compulsion to force people to join that faith.”

Defenders called apologists, ignorant

Douglas was one of 100 or so people in attendance at a workshop Tuesday night — also at New Hope Community Church — sponsored by the local chapter of ACT! for America.

The session was titled “Persuading the Near Enemy.” According to the workshop leader, Bill French, a near enemy is anyone who thinks Islam has good points.

“The near enemy is the apologist for Islam, who, I have found, doesn’t know anything about Islam,” French told the group.

French is a former Tennessee State University physics professor who writes under the pseudonym Bill Warner and runs the Center for the Study of Political Islam. He has no formal training in Islamic studies and doesn’t speak Arabic.

He recently was listed as a member of “The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle” by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Reportmagazine, along with Gaffney, ACT founder Brigitte Gabriel and David Yerushalmi, a Phoenix attorney who drafted Tennessee’s anti-Shariah bill.

That law passed after all references to Shariah and Islam were removed. The final version made giving assistance to a terrorist group a class A felony.

Shariah law’s meaning debated

French’s books, with titles such as Shariah Law for Non Muslims, and talks are based on counting verses in the Quran and other Islamic texts. He says that more verses in those texts are about politics and violence than religion.

Therefore, he argues, Islam isn’t only religion. Instead, he sees it as a political system bent on world domination, disguised with a thin veneer of religion. Real Muslims who follow the true Islam want to spread their religion by force.

“Jihad is what made Islam great,” he said.

Page Brooks, assistant professor of theology and Islamic studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said ACT! For America confuses radical Islam with the more moderate mainstream version of the faith.

Brooks, who is a chaplain in the Army National Guard, spent 2010 in Iraq. He said the Muslims he met there were thankful that American troops were opposing terrorists, who used Islam to justify violence.

“Even the average Iraqi knew the difference between the radical jihadists and the average Muslim walking around the street,” he said. “We have to be careful about who we label as a radical Muslim.”

Brooks also took issue with how ACT! for America and its supporters describe the Islamic legal code known as Shariah. That code guides religious practice — such as how to pray or what to eat — as well as family law, business practices and rules for ethical warfare.

“A lot of it has to do with religious compliance and personal holiness,” Brooks said.

Ron Leonard, ACT chapter leader in Hermitage, said his group is only worried about terrorists.

“I want to make that real clear,” said Leonard, who retired from the Army National Guard in 2004. “It is not Muslims. It is the extremist elements that we are dealing with. Muslims are good people. There are people that take their extremist views to the point of killing people. And ACT is in a position to stop this from going on.”

War, religious right are at group’s roots

ACT! for America is the brainchild of Hanah Kahwagi Tudor, a Lebanese Christian who fled her homeland during that country’s civil war, which raged from 1975 to 1990.

Tudor, who goes by the pseudonym Brigitte Gabriel, first moved to Israel, where she worked for a television network owned by Pat Robertson.

She married a co-worker named Charles Tudor, a former cameraman for Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise the Lordtelevision show. The couple eventually settled in Virginia Beach.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she began speaking out about terrorism. She wrote two books — They Must Be Stopped andBecause They Hate — which became best-sellers.

In books and speeches, Tudor says that Islamic terrorists took over her home country, and she wants to stop them before they take over America.

Tudor declined to be interviewed. On Friday, the ACT! for America website announced she’d visit Nashville on a November date to be announced.

ACT and Tudor’s other nonprofit, the education group American Congress for Truth, took in a combined $1,612,908 in 2009, according to their latest federal tax returns, known as Form 990s. The groups asked for an extension for filing their 2010 tax returns.

Tudor was paid $178,441 in salary by the two charities.

The nonprofit uses constant email updates, conference calls with Tudor and other electronic means to keep in close contact with local leaders.

Email updates sent to supporters also regularly include a request for donations.

Julie Ingersoll, associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida, attended ACT’s recent national convention and wrote about her experience for religiondispatches.com.

Ingersoll, who is critical of ACT, said the event was well organized and professional and focused on an “us versus them” approach to Islam and to liberals, who are seen as supporting Muslims.

“It’s framed as this real fear of outsiders,” she said. “It’s tied to all of the tea party rhetoric about the real America.”

Middle Tennessee Muslims organize

ACT’s growing influence has led local Muslims and interfaith groups to become more organized.

Hillsboro Presbyterian Church recently hosted an interfaith Scripture study with local Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders. About 50 people attended.

Fakhruddin, of the Islamic Center of Nashville, helped organize opposition to the anti-Shariah bill, working with the American Civil Liberties Union as well as people of other faiths.

“It made us a stronger group,” he said. “We will not tolerate any acts of injustice. Not just to Muslims, but to all Americans.”

Local Muslims haven’t been politically active until recently, Fakhruddin said. Now they are more aware of how to get involved in the political process and have now gotten to know their state legislators. They also are committed to defending the U.S. Constitution.

“People know us a little better than they did in the past,” he said. “People will see what we stand for and who we really are now. We are Americans. We are not some other group. We stand up for America.”

Awfully Dark Before the dawn

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2011 by loonwatch
Leonard Pitts

A great piece from an excellent journalist.

Awfully dark before the dawn

by Leonard Pitts (Miami Herald)

Granted, this would be considered self-evident by most of us, but it has been a matter of great controversy in the Tennessee town of Murfreesboro, where 17 people went to court last year to prevent a group of Muslims from building a mosque. On their own land.

The need to defend this fundamental right was only one of the ordeals visited upon the Muslims of Murfreesboro, who have also faced threats, vandalism and arson. As recently, vividly illustrated inUnwelcome: The Muslims Next Door, a troubling CNN documentary, the antagonists here are a clownish band of bigots scared witless by the prospect that a new mosque will be built in their community by a congregation that has already worshipped in said community for 30 years.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

The 17 had contended Muslims have no constitutional freedom to worship because Islam is not a religion. So the statement at the top of this column represents not just self-evident truth, but an actual ruling last week by an actual judge in an actual court. Again: seriously. Chancellor Robert Corlew, the aforementioned actual judge, was obliged to verify that Islam — which has survived 14 centuries and claims a billion and a half adherents — is a religion.

As reported in the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, in throwing out most of the plaintiffs’ case, Corlew also dismissed claims that “Kevin Fisher, an African-American Christian, would be subject to being a second-class citizen under Sharia law, Lisa Moore would be targeted for death under Sharia law because she’s a Jewish female; Henry Golzynski has been harmed because he lost a son fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, by insurgents pursuing jihad as dictated by Sharia law.”

Maybe you’re tempted to turn away in disgust. Yield not to temptation. We need to see this. This is what it looks like when a country loses its mind.

It looked like this in Germany in 1938 on Kristallnacht, in Rwanda in 1994 when the Hutus savaged the Tutsis, in America in 1942 when the Japanese were herded behind barbed wire.

My point is explicitly not that Muslims face mass vandalism, genocide or internment. Lord only knows what they face. Rather, my point is that the psychological architecture of what happened then is identical to the psychological architecture of Murfreesboro now. Once again, we see people goaded by their own night terrors, hatreds, need for scapegoats, and by the repetitive booming of demagogues, until they go to a place beyond reason.

And in that place inevitably lies a dark night of malice, destruction and awful deeds that seem like good ideas at the time. When it passes, like a fever, we — the doers and those who simply observe — are left shivering in a cold dawn as reason reasserts itself, wondering how barbarism overtook us, what broke loose inside us and vowing that it will never happen again. Never again.

Me, I don’t fear Muslims. I fear Muslim extremists. I fear extremists, period. And that group in Murfreesboro, make no mistake, is extremist.

Against their extremism, I find bitter succor in the inevitability of that cold dawn. Yes, there will come a morning after.

But first we must learn how dark this night will be.

LW Exclusive: Shocking Video of Geert Wilders Hate Speech on US Soil

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by loonwatch
Geert Wilders in Nashville at the Cornerstone Church

The Southern United States and the Midwest have been ravaged by violent forces of nature in the past few weeks; massive flooding has threatened to erase whole communities from Tennessee to Alabama, and over the past few days behemoth-like tornadoes, whipping in fury and frenzy swallowed and spit out whole towns.

The cataclysmic events of the Rapture predicted by Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping may not have come to pass but these tragedies have altered lives forever, and our thoughts and prayers should be with those affected. I encourage everyone to contribute in whatever way they can to reliefand support efforts in those regions.

“Heartland USA” as this region is otherwise known is too often ignored, some forget that beyond the confines of our large urban cities there is a whole other America that is rural, conservative and vibrant.

It is here that another force has taken hold and is setting up the perfect storm of intolerance, bigotry, racism, xenophobia and hatred.

This force is a product of the wedding of Islamophobia across the Atlantic, between right-leaning populist politicians and Christian and Israeli/Jewish Zionists that has led to a feverous increase in anti-Democracy and anti-Muslim activity.

This is the real monster that should worry us, not some eight-headed dragon beast that might emerge from the sea and usher in the Second Coming of Christ.

Extremism on our Shores

On May 12, 2011 in Madison, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, Geert Wilders readily accepted an invitation from the Tennessee Freedom Coalition to speak at Cornerstone Church, a mega church with regular attendance exceeding 3,900 weekly. LW received exclusive video from Rob, a fan of LoonWatch who attended the event and taped the speeches of Wilders, Lou Ann Zelenik and Andy Miller. He was so upset by what he saw that he immediately sent us the footage he captured.

Wilders speech was a diatribe against Islam and Muslims in which all the familiar talking points were rehashed but with a little extra venom, undoubtedly playing to the sentiments of the crowd.

LW Exclusive: Shocking Video of Geert Wilders Hate Speech on US Soil Part 1:

Geert Wilders: “Its Islam Stupid (raucous applause). We must stop the Islamization of our countries, more Islam means less freedom”…”And now, now Europe is looking slowly but gradually like Arabia”…”It was the land of our fathers, it is our land now, it is our values, our values are based on Christianity, Judaism and Humanism and not Islam, it is that simple (applause)”…”and I have a message for all those people who want to rob us from our freedoms, and my message is stay in your own country (loud applause)”…”we are not going to allow Islam to steal our country from us (applause)”…”if Jerusalem falls, Athens, Rome, Amsterdam and Nashville will fall therefore my point is we all are Israel (applause)”…”the only place where Christians are safe in the Middle East is that beautiful country called Israel (loud applause)”…”Make no mistake, please make no mistake, Islam is also coming to America, in fact Islam already is in America. America is facing a stealth jihad, the Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia’ law bit by bit”…”what we need my friends, what we need to turn the tide is a spirit of resistance, what we need I repeat it again is a spirit of resistance”…”we must repeat it over and over again, especially to our children, our Western values and culture based on Christianity and Judaism is better and superior to the Islamic culture (applause), and leaders who talk about immigration without mentioning Islam are blind (applause)”…”we must stop the immigration from non-Western countries and we must forbid the construction of new hate palaces called mosques (applause)”…”the press calls it an Arab spring, I call it unfortunately an Arab winter (applause), Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are incompatible (applause)”…”the so called Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist worse than Bin Laden ever was (applause)”…”neutrality my friends, neutrality in the face of evil is evil itself (applause).”

Why is a mega-church, an institution that professes to follow the teachings of Christ hosting such a hate-mongerer in the heartland of the USA? What is the Tennessee Freedom Coalition and why is it paying an extremist foreign politician who undermines “freedom” to speak at a Church? What are the ramifications for the rest of the West, the USA in particular when such an extremist is given a platform to incite hate?

Cornerstone Church

This mega-church is a bit like a franchise corporation. It has two locations: one in Bowling Green, Kentucky and the other in Madison, Tennessee. It is led by Senior Pastor Maury Davis,

Pastor Maury Davis was arrested at age eighteen for the crime of first-degree murder. Following his trial and conviction, he served eight and one-half years in the Texas Department of Corrections. During his incarceration, Pastor Davis found his Savior in Jesus Christ and led a revival among his fellow prisoners.

Can anyone imagine what would happen if say Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf had a rap sheet similar to Pastor Davis? Pamela Geller would be doing back flips through Manhattan.

Aside from boasting about its large attendance, the Church also has a Starbucks-esque Coffee shop and other amenities for the Faith-full shopper. It successfully marries capitalism and religion and also adds an ultra-extra helping of Nationalism.

When nearing the Church, the first thing one notices is the strikingly gargantuan American flag in front of the Church:

Inside the Church the backdrop is red, white and blue and the colors surround a white modern looking Cross that reminds one more of the lapel pin worn by Captain Kirk on Star Trek than a cross. I guess they really want you to know they are patriots.

The Church’s philosophy is based on a literal belief in the Bible. They are certainly evangelical and reaffirm the theology of the “millennial reign of Christ,” i.e. the Rapture or the-floating-into-the-sky version of the End Times.

They believe that the Bible, “both the Old and New Testaments, are verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21).”

Danios wrote in his “Understanding Jihad” series about how most American Christians believe the above, and it adds further credence to his recent article, “The ‘But that’s just the Old Testament’ Cop-out.”

Tennessee Freedom Coalition

The Tennessee Freedom Coalition, led by Lou Ann Zelenik and Andy Miller is a right-wing organization that can be considered a part of the Tea Party Movement, the base of the GOP. The addition of the TFC to the long list of GOP organizations can be considered one more dark stain in the history of the Tennessee GOP. It was not long ago that their members were making racist remarks about the president:

On top of the racism, homophobia isn’t far behind, the Republican governor of Tennessee has until June 1st to consider an “anti-Gay bill that would prohibit the passage of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT individuals.”

Tennessee also happens to be the state where we have seen a rise in hate against Muslims (in fact it is quickly becoming the center of anti-Muslim hate). Courts have been considering whether Islam is a religion, lawmakers are likely to pass a “Ban Sharia’ law” bill inspired by a documented racist and extremist Zionist named David Yerushalmi. It is scene to the Murfreesboro mosque struggle which made headlines this past summer. A year ago Pamela Geller was a headline speaker for the Tennessee Tea Party convention, talk about insane.

For its part the Tennessee Freedom Coalition was passing out this pamphlet at the Church:

How do you promote tolerance by “fighting” a religion? What they really mean to say in light of Wilders speech is, “Promote Religious Tolerance by Working to Stop the Growth of Islam,” which is like saying “promote tolerance by being intolerant.” Obviously this puts Muslims, you know, those who practice Islam in quite the bind.

LW Exclusive: Shocking Video of Geert Wilders Hate Speech on US Soil Part 2:

Conclusion

This is not the first time Geert Wilders has spoken at the pulpit, previously he spoke at Synagogues and at Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller’s SIOA 9/11 hate rally. However his presence amongst 3,000 admiring followers on US soil is not only reprehensible, it is a development that bodes ill for all of us.

It will only increase the radicalization of the anti-Muslim movement which seeks at its fundamental level to curtail freedom of religion and expression, first the rights of Muslims (soft target) and then anyone else they disagree with.

A word must also be said about Wilders obsessive citation of Israel. It is a country which he boasts about visiting over “forty times” and which he cites as a paragon of virtue, freedom, liberty, justice and light. He cites the security of Israel as one of the reasons that the West must fight Islam.

Lets forget the war crimes, human rights violations and apartheid policies in Israel for a second and really look at the hate that is emerging in its name. Individuals and organizations with deep connections to Israel, both network-wise and theologically are calling for the destruction of Islam which they regard as evil incarnate.

Aubrey Chernick (one of the leading funders of Islamophobia), Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, David Horowitz, Brigitte Gabriel, Allen West, the BNP, EDL, SIOE, SIOA, BPE, JDL, large numbers of Christian and Jewish Zionists and others believe that as long as you are fervently pro-Israel you can be as anti-Islam/Muslim as you want without suffering any consequences. Such a position at the end of the day only harms Jewish moral interests, and this much has been expressed by brave voices such as Not in Our Name, Jews without Borders, Muzzlewatch, Richard Silverstein, Max Blumenthal, our very own loonwatcher Gefilte, Glenn Greenwald and others.

The spectacle of a racist, anti-Muslim Dutch politician arriving on our shores to warn us about Islam is quite ironic, but what is most disturbing is the reception he received from a large audience of Americans. It may seem far-fetched now but one day Geert Wilders or someone like him (Allen West?) may move on from addressing thousands of Church goers to addressing Congress–the question is will he receive as many applauses as Benjamin Netanyahu?

Vandalism unable to deter group’s faith in community

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by loonwatch

Tennessee is getting worse.

Vandalism unable to deter group’s faith in community

(DNJ) –Scott Broden

MURFREESBORO — Islamic Center of Murfreesboro volunteers who pick up trash on Bradyville Pike encountered something they can’t clean — black spray paint on their adopt a highway sign.

The culprit covered up the word Islamic on the ICM sign near mile marker 26 on a portion of state Route 99 southeast of Murfreesboro.

“It’s unfortunate that some people have this view toward Islam,” said Imam Ossama Bahloul, the religious leader for the Muslim congregation.

The act of vandalism is the latest in a string of vandalism directed at the congregation and its plans to build a new mosque on Veals Road, which is off Bradyville Pike. In January 2010, a vandal spray painted “Not Welcome” on the congregation’s sign announcing its future site. Another sign on the site was later broken in half and someone torched construction equipment on the site last summer.

The center obtained a building permit Friday to get started onconstruction of its new mosque, beginning with 12,300 square feet.

To make a difference in the community, the ICM entered into a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to volunteer four times this year to clean up two miles of Bradyville Pike between mile markers 24 and 26, said ICM member Ihsan Ansari.

He led a group of seven members in early April in cleaning trash from the road and its ditches even before the state, at no cost to the Muslim congregation, erected a pair of signs acknowledging that the ICM adopted this portion of the highway.

Another volunteer crew will go out sometime during the first two weeks in June, Ansari said.

Community service is something I love doing,” said Ansari, noting that helping the community is a way to purify one’s soul. “Many of our Muslims always give back. Muslims are part of the community and only want to enhance and better the community instead of defacing and tearing it down.”

Only one other sign of spray paint appeared between mile markers 24 and 26 along Bradyville Pike, and it was in blue swirls on a tan wall of what appeared to be an old, abandoned Dilton Store at the intersection of Dilton-Mankin Road.

Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by loonwatch

Tennessee is quickly becoming a hotbed of extremist anti-Muslim hatred.

Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace

(Huffington Post) Daniel Tutt

In a matter of days, Tennessee’s state legislature is expected to pass a bill ostensibly designed to combat radical Islamic terrorism in Tennessee known as the “Material Support” bill or HB 1353. While the bill has removed direct references to Islam or Muslims at the pressure of civil rights groups such as the ACLU and others, if it is passed, it will seriously harm our security by alienating our biggest allies in combatting homegrown terrorism: our fellow American Muslims.

The impact of this bill on Muslims in Tennessee was on display in a recent training I conducted in Murfreesboro for educators and law enforcement officials. The training brought together local Muslim leaders and more than 80 civic leaders to look at ways to respond to a spike in bullying towards Muslim youth and rising reports of prejudice. Last summer, Murfreesboro was rocked by a series of protests against a mosque building project that resulted in two hate crimes directed toward the 1,000 person Muslim community, followed by a national media expose by CNN called, “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door.”

Through my discussions with community leaders in Murfreesboro, the problem seems not so much one of a widespread level of fear or bigotry toward Islam and Muslims by average Tennessean citizens. On the contrary, they felt a sense of embarrassment about what they see as a new type of anti-Muslim sentiment.

It’s important we understand the agendas and ideas that compose this movement to ban sharia in Tennessee and now more than 15 other states. On a national level, David Yerushalmi, a self-appointed expert in Islamic law and its intersection with Islamic terrorism and national security, wrote the original bill that serves as the template for each of the bills. Yerushalmi’s organization, the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) is deemed a “hate group” by multiple civil rights groups including the Anti Defamation League. SANE’s founding mission is resonantly white supremacist as it declares that historically America was “the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white.”

Yerushalmi and his associates at the Center for Security Policy have published a recent report, “Sharia and the Threat to America,” that has served as the basis for anti-sharia bills currently under vote or review in more than 14 states. In a 2007 report, Yerushalmi wrote on homegrown terrorism in the American Muslim community, called the Mapping Sharia Project, he urged Congress to declare war on the “Muslim nation,” which he defined as “Shari’a-adherent Muslims,” and further asked Congress to define Muslim illegal immigrants as alien enemies “subject to immediate deportation.”

A right-wing citizen group called the Tennessee Eagle Forum was the first group to push the bill into the state legislature. In a recent video produced by the group, “Losing Our Community,” they conflate all Tennessee Muslims with Islamic theocracies in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and seek to smear Muslim leaders in Tennessee with radical clerics such as Anwar Awlaki, without providing any tangible evidence of this association.

While Yerushalmi and his associates seek to institutionalize a series of Islamophobic bills into state legislators, American Muslims are left on the sidelines feeling isolated and alienated.

Understanding Sharia and its Meaning for Muslims

As David Schnazer of Duke University discovered in a recent comprehensive study of homegrown terrorism, “Anti-Terror Lessons of the American Muslim Community,” American Muslims are at the forefront of combatting potentially radicalized members of their community. For example, of the surprisingly small number of domestic terror threats initiated by American Muslims since 9/11 (154 in total), 46 of these perpetrators were turned over to the authorities by the American Muslim community.

The Center for American Progress has recently put forward a new policy brief, “Understanding Sharia Law,” designed to challenge the conception of sharia that Yerushalmi and others are proposing in these bills. The idea of sharia being a purely “legal-political-military doctrine” is far from accurate according to actual Islamic legal opinion and the ways that Muslims themselves interpret sharia.

Dr. Sherman Jackson, a respected scholar of Islam at University of Michigan, points out that most Muslims tend to speak not of sharia but of fiqh, which literally means “understanding” and underscores the distinction between God’s prescriptions on the one hand and the human attempt to understand these on the other.
While the common translation, “Islamic law,” is not entirely wrong, it is under-inclusive: Sharia includes scores of moral and ethical principles from honoring one’s parents to helping the poor to being good to one’s neighbor. In most all laws, sharia prescribes no “earthly punishments” for those who violate the dictates. Reward and punishment in these areas are the preserve of God in the Afterlife.

Despite Being a Non-Issue, HB 1353 Will Hurt Tennessee’s Economy

The movement to ban sharia is a non-issue both for Muslim scholars, who overwhelmingly support Muslims living by the U.S. constitution as the law of the land, and also as clearly laid out by the Supreme Court. More than half a dozen leading Muslim clerics in the United States recently produced a video PSA, “Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice,” condemning homegrown terrorism and the misinterpretation of Islamic theology that supports it.

In a 1990 Supreme Court case, Employment Division vs. Smith, over the use of peyote for religious practices, Justice Antonin Scalia deemed that all religious laws must adhere to the law of the land, the U.S. Constitution. In other words, for law to be respected and followed, Scalia declared that the United States can have only one law.

Just last week, as legislators gathered for a hearing on the bill, 350 concerned Tennessee Muslims gathered at the Capitol to urge lawmakers not to vote in favor of the bill. They argue that the bill is more than simply anti-Muslim; it’s harmful to Tennessee’s economy. As it is currently crafted, the bill gives an unprecedented and unchecked designation of power to Tennessee’s attorney general and the governor. This consolidation of power into one lawmaker is something that citizen groups such as the Tennessee Eagle Forum ought to despise.

The bill seriously hampers the economy of Tennessee by undermining the effect of trade and commerce with Muslim-majority societies throughout Tennessee if the bill becomes law. For example, international airports such as the one in Memphis may see a marked decline in flights coming from Muslim countries. Nearly every hospital in Tennessee has a substantially high number of Muslim doctors. Dr. Gary Gunderson of Memphis notes that the bill will have serious economic repercussions for all Tennesseans because of an anticipated flight of Muslim doctors from Tennessee.

A recent survey has reported that more than 75 percent of Tennesseans are worried about the economy and jobs as their first priority, making the economic implications of the bill especially important for lawmakers weighing the bill’s legitimacy.

Daniel Tutt is the Outreach Director of Unity Productions Foundation, and a fellow at the Institute forSocial Policy and Understanding, a non-partisan think tank. An activist, speaker and Ph.D. student in philosophy and communication, his work seeks to build greater understanding across religious and cultural lines, with a particular emphasis on Islam and Muslims.

Where does Geert Wilders grab his “facts” from?

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by loonwatch
Geert Wilders in Nashville at the Cornerstone Church

Geert “ban the Quran” Wilders has been on a recent North American tour. Bringing his hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric to our shores. Just a few days ago we received exclusive footage of Wilders’ speech at Cornerstone Church, a mega church in Tennessee. (hat tip: Rob)

In the following shocking footage Geert Wilders reveals where he grabs his “facts” from. Enjoy!:

We will be following up this video with an exclusive feature piece on Geert Wilders’ maniacal anti-Muslim diatribe and the crazy response from a massive zealous Christian crowd applauding his anti-Freedom agenda.

It makes you wonder who the real enemies are to our Constitution, values and principles?