A Political Reality


Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam

From Tunisia to Egypt, Islamists are gaining the popular vote. Far from threatening stability, this makes it a real possibility

Wadah Khanfar

Andrzej Krauze 2811

Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the “problem” of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors.

But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists’ gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. “Islamist” is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end – thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called “Islamist” in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence).

This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear.

Reform-based Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, work within the political process. They learned a bitter lesson from their armed conflict in Syria against the regime of Hafez al-Assad in 1982, which cost the lives of more than 20,000 people and led to the incarceration or banishment of many thousands more. The Syrian experience convinced mainstream Islamic movements to avoid armed struggle and to observe “strategic patience” instead.

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments – in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977.

A number of other events have had an impact on the collective Muslim mind, and have led to the maturation of political Islam: the much-debated Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the military coup in Sudan in 1989; the success of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front in the 1991 elections and the army’s subsequent denial of its right to govern; the conquest of much of Afghan territory by the Taliban in 1996 leading to the establishment of its Islamic emirate; and the success in 2006 of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The Hamas win was not recognised, nor was the national unity government formed. Instead, a siege was imposed on Gaza to suffocate the movement.

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth.

These varied political experiences have had a profound impact on political Islam’s flexibility and capacity for political action, and on its philosophy, too.

However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats.

Despite this, the Islamic political discourse has generally been balanced. The Tunisian Islamic movement has set a good example. Although Ennahda suffered under Ben Ali’s regime, its leaders developed a tolerant discourse and managed to open up to moderate secular and leftist political groups. The movement’s leaders have reassured Tunisian citizens that it will not interfere in their personal lives and that it will respect their right to choose. The movement also presented a progressive model of women’s participation, with 42 female Ennahda members in the constitutional assembly.

The Islamic movement’s approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it.

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists’ participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

Americans Should Not Remember 9/11


The memory of 9/11 should be buried in a time capsule and sent to the earth’s core to be forever forgotten.  As we approach September 11, 2011, what happened 10 years ago should be blocked from the Nation’s conscience.  At the very least, if not, then we should also remember what we did and have done since 9/11.

We have invaded two countries whose governments had nothing at all to do with the events of that day.  We oversaw the assassination of one country’s president/ruler/leader and attempted to kill or murder another.  We fostered an entire administration of international war criminals who went about justifying everything that before 9/11 we opposed and fought against ourselves.  We re-elected a president who was responsible for the plunder of the national treasury at the hands of greedy, despotic bankers who felt no remorse nor sense of responsibility to the welfare or anyone but themselves.  We became cannibals on September 11, 2001, turning against ourselves, engaging in demagoguery and hatred that haven’t been seen since the days of Reconstruction; pitting one religious community against another in nonsensical, fabricated assertions that are not even remotely connected to reality.  We have exaggerated the political differences among us to heights of disrespect and rude discourse to the point the Nation’s interests are no longer important, only partisan political gains.  Whereas just 5 short years ago we were demanding the country respect its president, we now heap scorn upon him with sophomoric imagery becoming of elementary illiterates and all this under the gaze of an omnipotent media which spun the corporate line to make it palatable to an angry country that wanted nothing more than blood…….anyone’s blood, even the blood of innocents.

We will be regaled with images and orchestral music evoking the pain and suffering we experienced that day, while our own war criminals’ victims have no place in our national conscience  and the crimes which they suffered go unpunished.  We were once a nation that demanded justice, yet we willingly want to see our criminals spared that process.  We no longer have leaders who inspire us, we elect and want leaders who frighten and anger us, who push us towards hatred of our fellow citizens who are different than us because of faith or skin color.  We have gone backwards in time…..to the time of our primal ancestors who killed their brothers for no apparent reason than jealousy or envy and that seems to be ok with a great many of us who want to “remember” 9/11.

I want to forget 9/11 and  all that because our country is greater than all the things previously mentioned in this piece.  Born out of hope and struggle we achieved greatness until we started remembering 9/11 at which time we fell out of Grace.  We cannot continue down the paths we started on 9/12 without negative consequences, yet we seem to not even consider what those consequences are, focusing instead on our suffering while ignoring what we have reaped on others.  In other words, we’ve become a country of cry babies….bellyaching about every perceived injustice we’ve had while forgetting about our own criminality.

I want no part of remembering 9/11 because I remember everything that happened after 9/11 and it was/is just as much a nightmare for me as the events on that awful day.  But unless we as a Nation make amends for what happened on 9/11 and beyond there will be more 9/11s, not by unknown, foreign, dark skinned people with funny names invading our shores, but rather at the hands of people we elect to office, or listen to or watch on our ever present media, or our neighbors unemployed for years with no sign of hope, or business people who either want more or don’t have enough and on and on it goes.  I want no part of that America and I want no part of anything that brings it on.  I want to forget 9/11.

What are Muslims saying


Here it is without the filter; Muslims in the West commenting on the Osama bin laden execution

A Reminder of the GOP’s platform


Don’t think the Republican Party is the party of racists and bigots? You don’t think America still has a long way to go before it fully realizes the dream of most of the people who elected Obama, or to realize this country’s potential?  Take a look at the video below!

Why bring this up now you ask?  Sarah Palin is still commanding attention and speculation about whether she will run in 2012; Donald Trump has decided to throw his hat into the politcal ring and he began with the same time worn cliches about Obama that defeated the GOP in 2008 and he’s had a strong showing in polls of Republican voters.  The tea party was formed in response to the GOP loss in 2008 and many of its members, a few we’ve talked about here, have continued the racist rhetoric that is evident in the video below.

No doubt the GOP will present itself as the party of fiscal conservatives, responsible government, etc.. but that’s a facade.  The real face of the Republican Party is the one that pushes people to the brink of fear and panic with overt and indirect references to race, religion and offers itself as a panacea for all that ails the country.   They see nothing wrong with doing that and have enlisted the help of women, like Palin and blacks like Herman Cain, Allen West, et.al who can make the ridiculous claim that because they are saying such dastardly demagogic speech  it’s not racism or bigotry.  In reality, such people, photogenic, sophisticated looking people are nothing more than lipstick on a pig.  No matter how you dress it or who you use to spout it it’s still ugly, virulent and yes protected free speech, that is xenophobic and divisive.  What such forces of darkness are counting on is an ignorant, fearful, wanting to be led by the nose electorate who will believe anything they are told and produce the desired results at the polls.  Aren’t we better than that?   America, deal with your problem!

 

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


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A Smooth Comeback!


In response to Pastor Terry Jones’ International Burn a Koran day, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has decided to post the advertisement below in Jones’ city local newspapers.  MRFF is acting because of concern members of the US military have expressed about the impact Jones’ book burning will have on the lives of military personnel posted in Muslim countries.  It wasn’t but a few short years ago that any act considered endangering the lives of US servicemen was considered treasonous, but today racist elements in American society have managed to turn that notion on its head and instead say any act which doesn’t outrage Muslim sensitivities is appeasement, no matter how provocative the act may be or how it might endanger lives.  MRFF’s response is the kind that will defeat the likes of Jones and the rest of the pilers on who’ve got on board with this xenophobic, Islamophobic notion of either denying Muslims their citizenship rights or provoking them. ‘Attaboy’ to MRFF!

Florida Minister says he won’t back down-UPDATE


The minister in Florida who wants to have a burn the Quran day on September 11 says he won’t back down from doing it and I say good for him!  It is his constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran, the religious book of Muslims.  Let’s not forget we live in a country where  it is the right of any American to burn the US flag, and we all remember the turmoil  reaching that decision caused America. It is one of the “hazards” of living in a free society; protested speech against patriotic or religious symbols is not illegal. American Muslims more than any other group, should understand that,  and  should register their disagreement with the burning  of Qurans act,with thoughtful and or provocative editorials like this one ,  or planned  peaceful  protests like this,  for even though what Jones wants to do is legal it is morally reprehensible.  That’s as far as his opponents should take it, however.

It is this type of dissent  Muslims should expect from  those who oppose their building of a masjid near the site of the former WTC buildings; one may disagree with the building of the Cordoba House at Park 51, and may protest the  building going up there, however it is the right of the supporters of that project, codified by the legal authorities responsible, for the house to be built there and Cordoba House’s supporters should proceed with resolve to see it through  even during times of  intense opposition to it AND  the opponents should resign themselves to the inevitability of its completion .  What will then become a true battle of ideas a distinction between those who oppose book burning versus those who oppose a religious house of worship will be how the different groups express their opposition and accept the rule of law.  In other words, the behavior of the opposition will have more of an impact on the public debate about the presence of Islam in America than the action which spurs that opposition.   America will have to choose between those who promote racist, stereotypical, violent reaction to protected speech and religious freedom and those whose opposition is principled, respectful or thoughtful.

Given America’s past inclination to mob/racist rule the outcome is not so certain and definitely not in the near future.  One of the reasons why we must have this frank discussion about race in this country is because the racist template we’ve set for ourselves over the years  allows us to insert whatever group of the day we want to hate into  it and then hurl invective and discriminatory actions at them which we try to make into law to suppress them.  We still have not managed to steer clear of this disease because we haven’t really tried to cure it. Saddle up America, here we go again; we’re in for another  protracted campaign for the soul of this country.

UPDATE

Jones did back down and if anyone can understand the reasons why he did so, please explain them to me.  The man who claimed to have received messages from God  is unfathomable, sick, crazy in the head and one as intimately  familiar with him as his own daughter has come out and said so.  There’s even mention of  a mental disorder here as well. Why we, citizenship media as well as corporate media gave him so much of our time, bandwidth and news print is one of the mysteries of life.  A “pastor” with a minuscule congregation of about 50 managed to hold the entire world hostage with his delusions of grandeur and his fear injected venom which paralyzed a nation, diverted its attention from a more pressing national agenda than his personal dementia and left us, after his ‘never mind’ moment feeling used and abandoned from it all.  We deserve it….we put in way too much time feeding the ego of a man whose ego is as large as any other megalomaniac or larger, being called by a US Army general, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the NYC police chief and countless others who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day can be very gratifying, but what did all of that give us, the People?  It revealed for us that dark side of our collective nature that loves to be frightened and angered; it allowed the haters in our midst to feed us their daily ration of  hatred and loathing for “others” who are really “we”, “us”.  Someone wrote on their headline, ‘Florida Pastor Makes National Jackass of Himself’….and my answer would be no he didn’t.  He made jackasses out of us.

Why are Muslims asking this question?


Perhaps it’s the paternalistic attitude of the loathsome New York Times, which presented itself to the American Muslim community as the guardian of their interests if they, American Muslims, would only express their angst about the Islamophobia sweeping America.  One thing American Muslims don’t need is acceptance…..as legal citizens, and a majority of American Muslims are born and raised in this country, they are as American as apple pie and entitled to the full protection of the law, even when those who administer the law are reluctant to give it to them.  In that case they must exert themselves using every available means to insure they are given what is just as much theirs as  any other citizen, regardless of their faith or ethnicity.  What American Muslims will have to do is man up like every other community that has had to deal with America’s on going race problem, realizing it will have ups and downs, highs and lows, but with patience and struggle  it will prevail.  Now is the time to get busy and stop whining.

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Terrorism: I am a Muslim; I am a victim of terrorism


By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Those who try to make the word ‘terrorism’ a synonym of the word ‘Islam’ try to brainwash us these days by the phrase “I am a Muslim, I am against terrorism”, which many Arabic-language TV stations have started to use during the month of Ramadan, when TV viewing becomes a dominant pastime in the Arab world. This phrase is coined neither by Muslims nor by the real enemies of terrorism; and the objective of funding the intensive broadcasting of this phrase in Ramadan is not exonerating Islam of an accusation levelled against it by Zionists and their allies among the neo-cons in the wake of 9/11. This is clear from the political connotations of this phrase which suggest that “although I am a Muslim; yet, I am against terrorism”. In this sense, our enemies accuse a billion Muslims of terrorism; while Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others are exonerated of any link with terrorism.

One is entitled to ask: how many terrorist crimes the Zionists commit against Muslim and Christian Arabs in and outside Palestine, including murder, assassination, home demolition, setting mosques on fire, etc. Yet, have we ever seen a phrase saying “I am a Jew, I am against terrorism”?

How many war and terrorist crimes have the invading American and Western allied troops have committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, including genocide, torture and assassination which claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis. The victims are always Muslims: civilians, women and children. Yet, have we ever seen a phrase such as “I am a Christian, I am against terrorism?”

The fact is that the intensive racist campaign since 9/11, 2001 has targeted Islam and Muslims. If measuring events by their outcomes is the right way, it can be said that 9/11 aimed in principle at finding an excuse for waging a war on Muslims and covering up all the crimes committed by the Zionist and racist Israeli troops in Palestine, like Judaization, expulsion, killing, imprisoning, torture and displacement.

One cannot but ask, are not 1.3 billion Muslims capable of facing this racist campaign through well-informed and open-minded research institutes capable of addressing the West in its own language and style and conveying to it the sublime message of Islam? If this message is spread and soundly implemented, it will be a genuine savior to humanity of all sins and tragedies which destroy spiritual peace and social cohesion.

NetworkLet us remember how the word ‘terrorism’ was coined and how it was used by of the Apartheid regime to brand Nelson Mandela as terrorist; and how all resistance movements have been branded as terrorist by Fascists and Nazis until they triumphed and achieved freedom and independence for their nations.

What we read today on Wikileaks shows that the United States exports terrorism to the world: “Wikileakes releases CIA paper on U.S. as ‘exporter of terrorism’” (Washington Post, 25 August 2010). Three papers described as ‘classified’ by the CIA’s red cell name the Pakistani David Headley and others to show that the U.S. government has become an exporter of terrorism. Headley acknowledged his responsibility for the Bombay attack which claimed the lives of 160 people. The paper adds that “Such exports are not new. In 1994, an American Jewish doctor, Baruch Goldstein, emigrated from New York to Israel, joined the extremist group Kach and killed 29 Palestinians praying at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron”.

It should be recalled that last month Wikileakes published 76,000 secret documents, part of American military files and field reports about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon asked for the documents to be withdrawn because they make the American troops and their Afghani agents liable to the charge of terrorism. This coincided with the scandal of Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council about whom the New York Times published an article entitled “Key Karzai Aide in Corruption Inquiry Is Linked to C.I.A.” (25 August 2010). Reports confirm that Salehi was released upon Karzi’s intervention because he knows everything about corrupt deals inside the Karzi’s administration. An American official stated that it was common practice to deal with corrupt people in Afghanistan. He adds: “If we decide as a country that we’ll never deal with anyone in Afghanistan who might down the road — and certainly not at our behest — put his hand in the till, we can all come home right now,” the American official said. “If you want intelligence in a war zone, you’re not going to get it from Mother Teresa or Mary Poppins.” (New York Times, 25 August 2010).

This is a clear acknowledgment of the absolute separation between morality and what American troops are doing in Afghanistan. In an article entitled “Making Afghanistan More Dangerous,” Jason Thomas asserts that American troops use mercenaries they call ‘security firms’ in protecting “foreigners, civil-society organizations and aid,” but also corruption money sent in cash in protected vehicles”. (The Herald Tribune, 25 August 2010).

What do these people have to talk about Islam as a source of terrorism? And how could they accuse Muslims of terrorism, while thy themselves are major exporters of terrorism? Can those who use torture, assassination, corruption and wars as their declared method of occupying one Muslim country after another and killing millions of innocent Muslims accuse those who defend freedom, dignity and sovereignty of terrorism?

The phrase which should be promoted on Arabic-language TV channels should be “I am a Muslim, I am a victim of terrorism”. As to our enemies, the stigma of terrorism, war, Judaization, settlement building, home demolishing, assassination and other crimes will haunt them throughout history, because they are the makers of terrorism regardless of their religion.

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Kill Them


by Linh Dinh

Michael Enright, a 21-year-old college student, slashed a NYC cab driver in the face and neck because this man was Muslim. Enright is being held in a psychiatric ward. If he is mad, then the United States is also insane. Enright’s assault merely mirrors what we, as a nation, have done for nearly a decade.

The United States has responded criminally and incoherently to what happened on September 11, 2001. Lopped of our twin members, downtown, we also lost our authoritative voice. Two days after that disaster, George Bush grimly declared, “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” Six months later, Bush shrugged, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.” Our current president never mentions bin Laden, yet Obama has sent many more troops into Afghanistan. We’re not leaving any time soon, that’s for sure. Congress has just approved 1.3 billion dollars to expand our military bases there. Our new mission, if Time Magazine is to be believed, is to defend Afghan women against the Taliban, whom we created in the first place, to fight the Soviets. America gets a kick out of these flip flops. We propped up Saddam Hussein, then we had him hanged. We fought Communist Vietnam, then we staged a naval exercise with that same regime, as happened just recently, riling up China. Tension feeds the military industrial complex. Wars are even better.

Responding to 9/11, America also invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with that catastrophe. Since the real reasons for our two current conflicts, access to oil and natural gas, defense of the petrodollar, war profiteering, are never admitted to, many Americans have concluded that we’re simply waging war against Islam, which is, frankly, not that far off the mark considering our unequivocal support for Israel whenever it attacks Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or any other Muslim population. The U.S. has also been killing Pakistani civilians and threatening Iran. It’s a miracle many Muslims don’t hate us more.

Without Israel and oil, it’s a safe bet we wouldn’t be demonizing Muslims so relentlessly. As is, this stoked hatred is bringing out the worst in our character. On Yahoo! News, many comments on the Enright story don’t condemn but applaud his obvious crime, and also bash Islam.

Bruce, “Slay the infidel…..stone the rape victim……beat your wife……..mate with your goat…..wipe your bu tt with your bare hand…..AHHH the joys of islam!”

David, “this guy should get a medal and be aloud [sic] to blow up the mosque at the ground zero sight, its [sic] about time someone in ny stepped up and showed some american balls!!!”

Spreading like cancer across the internet, openly hateful and racist comments are especially common after stories about Muslims, blacks or Mexicans, the top three scapegoats at the moment. Obama is a lightning rod for anti-black racism, which is ironic because he does not favor blacks in any way. Like Bush, Clinton and the rest of our bank-bailing-out, paid-for politicians, Obama couldn’t care less about the little guys. Eyeing his own wallet and his future after the White House, Obama’s here to defend the moneyed interest. His blackness is merely symbolic, but that’s enough to enrage the racists.

After Michelle Obama went to Spain, Alternative Right, a webzine with contributions from several established authors, had an article titled, “Michelle’s Vacation in Whitey World.” Among the comments, one man suggested that she should have gone to a blacker destination, like “Ghana or the Maldives.”

One Sheila wrote, “I cringe every time I see a photo of the Sasquatch/Wookie as purportedly “First Lady” of American women. My spouse always comments that she reminds him of a chimp with her underbite, and I am always struck by her enormous feet and trapezius muscles. Either way I feel a sort of cognitive dissonance, such as when I view old photos and see 19th century blacks dressed in Victorian clothing.     As far as her amazing European adventure, she is putting herself in white people’s faces. Her very presence is a way of announcing the new order.”

There’s no new order, lady. Obama himself is a head fake! Scratch that skin lightly, and you’ll see your beloved Dubya again. Everything is still in place, including the torture chambers. After another article in Alternative Right, a reader lamented, “After 9/11, we saw the lack of a white nation identity. There was abject surrender to Islam.” Only the most deluded can call the killing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and the occupation of two Islamic countries, an “abject surrender to Islam.” Although not all Americans think this way, of course, this man is hardly alone. As the world’s biggest source of terror, we’re posing as its most helpless victims.

The scapegoating of Muslims, blacks and Mexicans gives the appearance that we’re being threatened from without and below, when we’re actually being mugged from above, from the inside. It’s the entrenched who are killing us, not outsiders. Even with 9/11, too many questions remain. One must remember that Bin Laden began as a CIA asset, and two months before the attack, he was at the American hospital in Dubai, where a CIA agent visited him. On September 10, 2001, bin Laden was at the Army Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, to receive dialysis treatment. Again, no attempt was made to arrest him. Today, we’re also not trying to arrest this man, and that’s no conspiracy theory.

The Ramadan Chronicles



An explanation of “jihad” that you might not see or hear from corporate media.


Good hair, bad hair


I recently saw Chris Rock’s excellent documentary, ‘Good Hair’, and didn’t know how much women (he specifically focused on women in his piece) spent on getting their hair done!  Nor was I aware at the depths people go to get good hair, those who want it on their own heads and those who purchase it to sell to others. The exploitative side of a good ‘do can reach the point where it  rates up there with an international crime on the magnitude of human trafficking. I strongly recommend getting a copy of the movie and watching it.

I came away with a greater appreciation for the ‘hijab’ for Muslim women after watching this movie because of two very striking comments made in it.  One was my Maya Angelou who said, ‘hair is a woman’s glory’ and Rock’s statement at the end of the film, ‘it’s not what you put on your head it’s what you put in your head that counts’ that seem to make the point that is made by women who wear, out of a sense of conviction, the head scarf.

Modesty is not just in appearance but in how you shape that appearance is an essential element of the “good hair” debate as well.  Take the photo above.  I found it on a forum where someone was asking for a barber who could cut his hair like the picture and he went on to say, ‘Price does not matter just want a good haircut’ which could almost mean anything! Rock et. co explored the debate how can people “afford” to do so much to/with their hair in this time of economic uncertainty and the implied answers are as stark as the given ones.  It’s scary what we are willing to do to get ‘good hair’.

Political Zionism’s attempts at marginalizing American Muslims


Eight American Muslim imams went to Poland and Germany to witness first hand the historical places of the Holocaust in a trip co-sponsored by a German think tank and the Center for Interreligious Understanding, a New Jersey-based interfaith dialogue group. The imams issued a statement afterward that stated in part

We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where over twelve million human souls perished, including six million Jews.

We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.

We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.

We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity. With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.

Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of “never again” and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.

Under the circumstances one would think the trip was successful in bridging gaps that have existed between the two faith communities as well as contribute towards decelerating the tensions between American Muslims and the rest of America surrounding the Park51 mosque.  It’s noteworthy the trip was covered by the Jewish outlet The Forward, but it has gone pretty much unnoticed by main stream media so America does not have the benefit of knowing of the outreach going on between the two parties and the rather optimistic outcome.  Too bad for America, which is in the throes of a new brand of anti-semitism.

What’s even worse is much of that Islamophobia is led by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who has come out and said the Park51 mosque should relocate

To many Americans, the decision of Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, to oppose the so-called “ground zero mosque” seemed out of character. After all, Foxman is often treated by the media as an arbiter of tolerance; that he would come out in favor of Islamophobia was jarring.

The ADL’s private domestic spying operation had been going on since its inception, but after Foxman took over it engaged in operations like spying on anti-apartheid activists and other non-extremist groups. Foxman and the ADL became worried as much about direct domestic persecution of Jews as they were about opposition to Israel, and began to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Certainly, anti-Zionism can bleed into anti-Semitism, but Foxman has taken this to a cartoonish degree, demanding apologies from Americans for expressing views on Palestine that would be well within the mainstream in the context of Israeli domestic politics.

Foxman’s conservatism is clear in his selective outrage. He refused to condemn anti-Semitic statements by Sun Myung Moon’s Bush administration-allied Unification church, declined to protest Fox News’ frequent use of Nazi imagery for the purposes of political vilification — and, of course, in contrast to his opposition to an anti-Mormon film, he’s happily gotten on board with the anti-Islamic sentiment that even he acknowledges is key to opponents of the Park51 project near ground zero.

and who was against the aforementioned trip to Europe, so much so that he lobbied the US’ representative not to go on the trip.

Organizers of the trip say they were dismayed that the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman lobbied U.S. officials against participating. They also say the Investigative Project’s Steve Emerson, author of “American Jihad,” lobbied against the trip, arguing that one of the imams planning to participate had made Holocaust denial statements a decade ago.

The reason given by the ADL/Foxman was they didn’t want an American official to be a part of the trip…read that he didn’t want the government or any official thereof to recognize the efforts of Muslims at bridging gaps with other faith based communities. If it were out of a real concern for the inappropriateness of US government representation, it would have stopped with the US government, but Foxman made a play to a Polish rabbi to ask him not to meet with the 8 imams

…Foxman called both Rosenthal and the White House to object. When it went forward anyway, he went beyond objecting to the participation of the U.S. officials and called a Polish rabbi who had a scheduled meeting with the imams and asked the rabbi not to see the group

So it is a lie that Foxman acted out of a concern for the US government’s representative appearing with the group; his objection was for anyone to meet with them, in other words for there to not be any dialogue at all between anyone and the 8 American Muslim imams. By isolating them no one would know, as is the case with most of the American public, the principled stand they would take in the matter of the Holocaust, and by extension any other contemporary issue.  The reason is clear, by isolating them Foxman is able to distort or misrepresent their views and continue the atmosphere of hostility between them and the western world.  This helps political zionism in its fight with the Palestinians who Israel has managed to lump with a Muslim world view which is portrayed as hostile to the state.  If a wide cross section of American Muslim religious leaders can come to a consensus on such a hot button issue intrinsically connected to the existence of Israel as the Holocaust, what else might they be able to agree on that’s important to the existence of Israel and thus influence Muslim opinion in other places of the world?  For a country that thrives on threats and lives to fight wars with its neighbors, fulfilling its purpose with wars and acts of aggression, peace/dialogue is a threat to its existence more than the strongest opponent.  That is the reason why Foxman opposed the trip in general because he knew the outcome would be what it was, that men of faith and principle would come to the conclusions that the 8 American Muslim imams did.  The one advantage Foxman has in his favor is the statement of the 8 imams will go largely unnoticed by media and the general public and his goal of isolating legitimate Muslim voices from the American discourse will have been accomplished.  For that Foxman no doubt will get more than his share of attaboys.

Germany AND Ron Paul get it


While America burns with its religious animosity/racism against Muslims, Germany gives another, more tolerant view of how religious minorities should be treated.  Funny that…..after its past, but Germany,it’s politicians and social institutions are showing far more tolerance and leading by example far better than America is right now.  How?

A German television station is broadcasting the start and end times of the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. The broadcaster says it wants to promote integration and sensitize non-Muslim viewers to the issue. It does the same kind of thing for its other religious communities as well, however, so for the Islamophobes who might claim German television has gone over to the Sharia side, German TV could respond it’s religiously  inclusive.

Germany’s political parties, read that plural folks, are breaking the fast with Germany’s Muslims as a sign of our respect for all Muslims who live in the country.  They consider such action as embracing the multi-ethnic nature of the country’s population, and as normal as celebrating Christmas or any other religious holiday and not as a “concession” to Muslims.  What’s different about the German approach is this cultural acknowledgment cuts across political parties, and is not just something the party in power does.  Each American president has done the same thing, but his political rivals at the time did not and that is the difference.

Finally, Republican Ron Paul of Texas put the political nail on the coffin of the 51 Park Street mosque with this clear, definitive statement (red emphasis mine)

“Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?

“It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”

“The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.

“Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.”

Just think of what might (not) have happened if the whole issue had been ignored and the national debate stuck with war, peace, and prosperity. There certainly would have been a lot less emotionalism on both sides. The fact that so much attention has been given the mosque debate, raises the question of just why and driven by whom?

“In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it.

“They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for the ill conceived preventative wars. A select quote from soldiers from in Afghanistan and Iraq expressing concern over the mosque is pure propaganda and an affront to their bravery and sacrifice.

“The claim is that we are in the Middle East to protect our liberties is misleading. To continue this charade, millions of Muslims are indicted and we are obligated to rescue them from their religious and political leaders. And, we’re supposed to believe that abusing our liberties here at home and pursuing unconstitutional wars overseas will solve our problems.

“The nineteen suicide bombers didn’t come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. Fifteen came from our ally Saudi Arabia, a country that harbors strong American resentment, yet we invade and occupy Iraq where no al Qaeda existed prior to 9/11.

“Many fellow conservatives say they understand the property rights and 1st Amendment issues and don’t want a legal ban on building the mosque. They just want everybody to be “sensitive” and force, through public pressure, cancellation of the mosque construction.

“This sentiment seems to confirm that Islam itself is to be made the issue, and radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11. If it became known that 9/11 resulted in part from a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation, the need to demonize Islam would be difficult if not impossible.

“There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?

“If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable.

“The justification to ban the mosque is no more rational than banning a soccer field in the same place because all the suicide bombers loved to play soccer.

“Conservatives are once again, unfortunately, failing to defend private property rights, a policy we claim to cherish. In addition conservatives missed a chance to challenge the hypocrisy of the left which now claims they defend property rights of Muslims, yet rarely if ever, the property rights of American private businesses.

“Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

“It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don’t want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support is irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society—protecting liberty.

“The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservative’s aggressive wars.

“The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.

“This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

“We now have an epidemic of “sunshine patriots” on both the right and the left who are all for freedom, as long as there’s no controversy and nobody is offended.

“Political demagoguery rules when truth and liberty are ignored.”

I’d say Paul has pretty much nailed it!

Cordoba House’s Developer in exclusive interview


Please take 18 minutes of your time to look at this unedited interview with Sharif El-Gamal, the developer of the        proposed Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, who ripped his critics and said he has no plans to move the proposed location of the project.

Newt Gingrich is an idiot


This is what Newt Gingrich has said

The folks who want to build this mosque – who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists – those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy. That’s why they won’t go anywhere else, that’s why they won’t accept any other offer.

This is the reality

“Imam Feisal has participated at the Aspen Institute in Muslim-Christian-Jewish working groups looking at ways to promote greater religious tolerance.  He has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism, and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam. Some of this work was done under the auspices of his own group, the Cordoba Initiative. I liked his book, and I participated in some of the meetings in 2004 or so. This is why I find it a shame that his good work is being undermined by this inflamed dispute. He is the type of leader we should be celebrating in America, not undermining.”

Isn’t it  clear that the Republicans are not grounded in reality?

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