A DEFENSE OF FREE SPEECH BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSLIMS


We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.

We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation.

We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims.  We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.

We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.

As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance,  respect, and forgiveness.

The Qur’an enjoins Muslims to:
* bear witness to Islam through our good example (2:143);
* restrain anger and pardon people (3:133-134 and 24:22);
* remain patient in adversity (3186);
* stand firmly for justice (4:135);
* not let the hatred of others swerve us from justice (5:8);
* respect the sanctity of life (5:32);
* turn away from those who mock Islam (6:68 and 28:55);
* hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (7:199);
* restrain ourselves from rash responses (16:125-128);
* pass by worthless talk with dignity (25:72); and
* repel evil with what is better (41:34).

Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law. It is of the utmost importance that we react, not out of reflexive emotion, but with dignity and intelligence, in accordance with both our religious precepts and the laws of our country.

We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.

We therefore call on all Muslims in the United States, Canada and abroad to refrain from violence.  We should see the challenges we face today as an opportunity to sideline the voices of hate—not reward them with further attention—by engaging our communities in constructive dialogue about the true principles of Islam, and the true principles of democracy, both of which stress the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance.

After the above declaration there are over 80 signatories affixed with an update link to other names constantly being added. Muslim Americans it appears have as good an understanding of the US Constitution as some of their antagonists.

Whose Hallowed Ground is it anyway?


All the fascists assembled together in the studios of FoxNews  crowing about the hallowed ground at Park51 that shouldn’t have an Islamic Center built on it forgot to lament the building of the World Trade Centers on the hallowed ground which is the burial site for scores of Muslim African slaves interred there since the time New York City was known as Amsterdam city.

Before the World Trade Center was even designed (with Islamic architectural elements, incidentally), the ground was indeed sacrosanct: The bones of some 20,000 African slaves are buried 25 feet below Lower Manhattan. As at least 10 percent of West African slaves in America were Muslims, it’s not out of bounds to extrapolate that ground zero itself was built on the bones of at least a few Muslim slaves. That is to say, hallowed Muslim ground.

Not that such knowledge will stop the “Deniers” as one friend calls them, from making the rounds with constitutionally protected speech  whereby they espouse unconstitutional measures against Muslims.

David Yerushalmi, (who) is an advocate for criminalizing Islam itself and imposing 20-year sentences on practicing Muslims. Yes, really. He’s not simply anti-Muslim, though; Yerushalmi also wrote a now-infamous article titled “On Race: A Tentative Discussion, Part II,” in which he advocated a return to a pre-Bill of Rights Constitution, and the restriction of voting rights to white male land-owners.

On a positive note, the Boston Globe had an excellent piece on the Quran in American history which should really dispel the notion that Islam is something strange and unfamiliar on the shores of America.

As usual, the Founders were way ahead of us. They thought hard about how to build a country of many different faiths. And to advance that vision to the fullest, they read the Koran, and studied Islam with a calm intelligence that today’s over-hyped Americans can only begin to imagine. They knew something that we do not. To a remarkable degree, the Koran is not alien to American history — but inside it….

Reports of Korans in American libraries go back at least to 1683, when an early settler of Germantown, Pa., brought a German version to these shores. Despite its foreign air, Adams’s Koran had a strong New England pedigree. The first Koran published in the United States, it was printed in Springfield in 1806.

Here We Go Again


Another victim claimed violence at the hand of someone from the minority community only to have it turn out to be a LIE! There’s a long line of  people who claimed some black person did them great bodily harm and I  agree with Dr. Jeff Gardere’s assessment that fixing the blame on fictitious black people is a part of the Black Bogeyman phenomenon that says whites and society at large must fear angry black people who are intent on doing everyone they come into contact with great bodily harm.  I’m not so sympathetic to insist the behavior of falsely ascribing victim status on one’s self is a personal mental disease; the larger society cannot escape the role it plays in allowing someone to think such behavior is plausible.  Bethany Storro, the victim turned perpetrator, belongs in a jail that offers mental health services.

Interesting Reading from the New York Times


A NYT reporter uncovered a rather little known fact, that Muslim Americans had a place of worship inside both World Trade Center buildings right up to the day they were destroyed.  In my paranoid fantasy, I rather look at the attacks on 911 as an attack against Islam just as much as others look at it as an attack by Muslims and Islam.  The math is more in my favor since more Muslims died as a result of those attacks than took part in the attacks.  Before this gets lost in the memory hole of our political revisionists, here’s the Times’ story

Sometime in 1999, a construction electrician received a new work assignment from his union. The man, Sinclair Hejazi Abdus-Salaam, was told to report to 2 World Trade Center, the southern of the twin towers.In the union locker room on the 51st floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam went through a construction worker’s version of due diligence. In the case of an emergency in the building, he asked his foreman and crew, where was he supposed to reassemble? The answer was the corner of Broadway and Vesey.

Over the next few days, noticing some fellow Muslims on the job, Mr. Abdus-Salaam voiced an equally essential question: “So where do you pray at?” And so he learned about the Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower.

He went there regularly in the months to come, first doing the ablution known as wudu in a washroom fitted for cleansing hands, face and feet, and then facing toward Mecca to intone the salat prayer.

On any given day, Mr. Abdus-Salaam’s companions in the prayer room might include financial analysts, carpenters, receptionists, secretaries and ironworkers. There were American natives, immigrants who had earned citizenship, visitors conducting international business — the whole Muslim spectrum of nationality and race.

Leaping down the stairs on Sept. 11, 2001, when he had been installing ceiling speakers for a reinsurance company on the 49th floor, Mr. Abdus-Salaam had a brief, panicked thought. He didn’t see any of the Muslims he recognized from the prayer room. Where were they? Had they managed to evacuate?

He staggered out to the gathering place at Broadway and Vesey. From that corner, he watched the south tower collapse, to be followed soon by the north one. Somewhere in the smoking, burning mountain of rubble lay whatever remained of the prayer room, and also of some of the Muslims who had used it.

Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center.

Opponents of the Park51 project say the presence of a Muslim center dishonors the victims of the Islamic extremists who flew two jets into the towers. Yet not only were Muslims peacefully worshiping in the twin towers long before the attacks, but even after the 1993 bombing of one tower by a Muslim radical, Ramzi Yousef, their religious observance generated no opposition

“We weren’t aliens,” Mr. Abdus-Salaam, 60, said in a telephone interview from Florida, where he moved in retirement. “We had a foothold there. You’d walk into the elevator in the morning and say, ‘Salaam aleikum,’ to one construction worker and five more guys in suits would answer, ‘Aleikum salaam.’ ”

One of those men in suits could have been Zafar Sareshwala, a financial executive for the Parsoli Corporation, who went to the prayer room while on business trips from his London office. He was introduced to it, he recently recalled, by a Manhattan investment banker who happened to be Jewish.

“It was so freeing and so calm,” Mr. Sareshwala, 47, said in a phone conversation from Mumbai, where he is now based. “It had the feel of a real mosque. And the best part is that you are in the epicenter of capitalism — New York City, the World Trade Center — and you had this island of spiritualism. I don’t think you could have that combination anywhere in the world.”

How, when and by whom the prayer room was begun remains unclear. Interviews this week with historians and building executives of the trade center came up empty. Many of the Port Authority’s leasing records were destroyed in the towers’ collapse. The imams of several Manhattan mosques whose members sometimes went to the prayer room knew nothing of its origins.

Yet the room’s existence is etched in the memories of participants like Mr. Abdus-Salaam and Mr. Sareshwala. Prof. John L. Esposito of Georgetown University, an expert in Islamic studies, briefly mentions the prayer room in his recent book “The Future of Islam.”

Moreover, the prayer room was not the only example of Muslim religious practice in or near the trade center. About three dozen Muslim staff members of Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower, used a stairwell between the 106th and 107th floors for their daily prayers.

Without enough time to walk to the closest mosque — Masjid Manhattan on Warren Street, about four blocks away — the waiters, chefs, banquet managers and others would lay a tablecloth atop the concrete landing in the stairwell and flatten cardboard boxes from food deliveries to serve as prayer mats.

During Ramadan, the Muslim employees brought their favorite foods from home, and at the end of the daylight fast shared their iftar meal in the restaurant’s employee cafeteria.

“Iftar was my best memory,” said Sekou Siby, 45, a chef originally from the Ivory Coast. “It was really special.”

Such memories have been overtaken, though, by others. Mr. Siby’s cousin and roommate, a chef named Abdoul-Karim Traoré, died at Windows on the World on Sept. 11, as did at least one other Muslim staff member, a banquet server named Shabir Ahmed from Bangladesh.

Fekkak Mamdouh, an immigrant from Morocco who was head waiter, attended a worship service just weeks after the attacks that honored the estimated 60 Muslims who died. Far from being viewed as objectionable, the service was conducted with formal support from city, state and federal authorities, who arranged for buses to transport imams and mourners to Warren Street.

There, within sight of the ruins, they chanted salat al-Ghaib, the funeral prayer when there is not an intact corpse.

“It is a shame, shame, shame,” Mr. Mamdouh, 49, said of the Park51 dispute. “Sometimes I wake up and think, this is not what I came to America for. I came here to build this country together. People are using this issue for their own agenda. It’s designed to keep the hate going.”

These Are the People the Wingnuts want you to fear and loathe


A Piece of Americanna


Given an audience, this is how people will behave.  Is there anyone who will disavow the sentiments of this American citizen? Anyone?

South Africa and her Muslims got it right!


America needs to sit back and take a page from the South African playbook on how to handle religious bigotry.

A judge in Johannesburg, South Africa, has blocked a plan by a Muslim to burn Bibles on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

An Islamic intellectual organization, Scholars of the Truth, had sought the order. It bans the burning of any holy books. “I’m very pleased the judge came to this decision. Not only did he ban this protest but he also banned other people from burning the Bible,” The Christian Scientist Monitor quoted plaintiff’s lawyer Yasmin Omar as saying.

The order also covers the burning of other holy books, including the Koran. Mohammed Vawda planned to burn the Bibles in response to a plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran in Gainesville, Florida. The preacher pushing the Florida book burning has backed down.

“What Mr. Vawda wanted to do is not just morally wrong but is an affront to Islam. We regard Jesus as a prophet who is part of the Koran so if he burns the Bible, he is burning part of the Koran,” said Omar.

There are an estimated 1 million Muslims in South Africa and 30 million Christians. Judge Sita Kolbe issued his ruling after a four-minute hearing.

Did anyone notice how, a) it was a Muslim organization that sought the ban and b) it was such a no brainer it took only 4 minutes for the judge to assent and set it in motion?!?  Too bad the wheels of American justice don’t turn as quickly in such matters.  We could learn a thing or two from our brothers in South Africa.  Viva Mandela!

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