Many Muslim-dominant countries hate ISIS too — even the Palestinians: Poll


In the light of recent news coming from France regarding the terrorist incident in Paris and the influx of Arab/Muslim refugees in Europe this bit of news should also be known

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.

Muslims are the most loyal American religious group, new poll says


Bet you didn’t know this did you?

Muslim Americans are loyal to the US and optimistic despite facing high levels of discrimination, a Gallup poll on American religious groups finds.

A poll released Thursday revealed curious contradictions in the Muslim-American community, which is more enthused about its country and president than any other religious group, yet is the least politically active and faces the greatest discrimination.

The Gallup poll on American religious groups offers a counterpoint to the stereotype that Muslims in the US lead isolated lives because they do not feel comfortable fitting in or associating with mainstream American culture. Moreover, it also offers insights into the Muslim-American experience – from how dramatically the election of President Obama affected them to how little they trust the activists who work on their behalf.

In total, the poll paints a picture of a community characterized by optimism but still seeking acceptance among its fellow citizens.

For instance, 93 percent of Muslim Americans say they are loyal to America. They have the highest confidence in the integrity of US elections (57 percent), and they are the most hopeful about their lives over the next five years, compared with other groups.

Yet 48 percent of Muslim Americans report they experienced some kind of racial or religious discrimination, a finding that places them far ahead of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and atheists/agnostics.

One reason for the optimistic outlook despite discrimination could be that Muslim Americans see their financial fortunes improving. Some 64 percent of Muslim Americans in 2011 reported their standard of living got better, compared with 46 percent in 2008.

But the presidency of Mr. Obama has arguably had an even more powerful affect on Muslim Americans. Muslim Americans give him the highest approval rating – 80 percent – of any religious group. American Jews are a distant second, giving Obama a 65 percent approval rating.

The number is even more striking when compared with Muslim American support for George W. Bush in 2008, which was 7 percent.

The shift in leadership in Washington was “truly transformational” for US Muslims in how they viewed their loyalties to democratic institutions and the nation at large, says Dalia Mogahed, director and senior analyst of the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, based in the United Arab Emirates.

After the 9/11 attacks, Muslim Americans faced intense scrutiny, both individually and from federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Obama is credited with helping smooth tensions through his outreach to the US Muslim community and his effort to end the Iraq war responsibly. The poll shows that 83 percent of Muslim Americans – more than any other religious group – say the war was a “mistake.”

Despite the positive signs, “there are still obstacles” for Muslim Americans, Ms. Mogahed says.

“They embrace American values and democratic principles but aren’t sure if the rest of American embraces them,” she says.

Some 56 percent of Protestants said American Muslims had no sympathy for Al Qaeda, the lowest number of any faith group. By comparison, 63 percent of Catholics and 70 percent of Jews thought Muslim Americans had no sympathies for Al Qaeda.

“That’s certainly a challenge for the [US Muslim] community – to have their loyalty questioned by such a large number of their fellow Americans,” Mogahed says.

Those challenges, however, have not led Muslim Americans to try to affect change at the ballot box. They are the least likely religious group to vote, with just 65 percent of Muslims in America are registered. One reason is age: The average age of a Muslim-American is 35, while the average American Protestant is 55. Younger people tend to be less politically active, Mogahed says.

Another reason is affiliation: Poll findings show that the majority of Muslim Americans say that none of the leading Muslim organizations in the US, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America, represents their interests.

With the 2012 election around the corner, Mogahed says political parties that want to reach out to Muslim-American voters might be better off establishing partnerships with local mosques than focusing on winning endorsements from national advocacy organizations. This is especially relevant considering that Muslim Americans who attend a religious service once a week are two times more likely to be politically active than those who attend less frequently, the poll found.

“The mosque should be more the mobilization engine” for get-out-the-vote drives than it has been in the past, she says.

The poll surveyed 2,482 adults, 475 of whom were Muslim. For Muslims, there was a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 7 percentage points.

Which begs the question, where does everyone else rank in comparison?  This article addresses that with respect to Christian evangelicals, one of the groups largely responsible for the current Islamophobic public attacks going on in America today.  Citing a Pew Research Center poll the article makes the point that Christian evangelicals are far less patriotic than American Muslims

Among Christians in the U.S., white evangelicals are especially inclined to identify first with their faith; 70 percent in this group see themselves first as Christians rather than as Americans, while 22 percent say they are primarily American.

so the upshot of this is the next time you hear someone ranting about the Muslim fifth column or taqiyah or any other cliches used by people on the right to justify casting suspicion of members of the Islamic faith remind them that they are more a threat to the national security than the Muslims against whom they rail.

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!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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


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!

Keith Ellison has it right


In an interview with the BBC, US congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison said ‘those spearheading the effort against the Park51 project were not adequately represented as families of 9/11 victims rejecting the proposal on emotional ground, and were rather anti-Obama, xenophobic types who wanted to suppress Islam throughout the country.’

The real driver of it are people who openly proclaim that Barack Obama is not a citizen. The real organizers of this thing are people who are just proponents of religious bigotry. Nothing more, nothing less.

Around the country, this thing is emblematic of a larger issue… There have been anti-mosque efforts in Kentucky, one gentleman who wants to burn a Qur’an in Florida, there have been efforts in Wisconsin and in the Chicago area and others.

It’s not difficult to know who these proponents of religious bigotry are; and Ellison should be the keenest among us in knowing who they are for they launched personal attacks against him. Indeed they are people who openly oppose every Muslim/Islamic attempt at engagement in American public life using the tactic of linking American Muslims to any and every terrorist incident that has taken place on the world’s stage. Their rhetoric is easy to spot, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims’, or this time worn phrase of ‘radical Islam’ and equating even the most passive of Muslims, such as Faisal Abdur Raouf as a follower of “radical Islam”.  So let’s spotlight some of these useful idiots and hang their names and photos on America’s wall of racist shame, who have plagued our history.

Martin Peretz, the editor of  The New Republic actually had the following words attributed to him

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

It should be apparent to all that Peretz is in the throes of Alzheimer’s or has succumbed to it completely. He is supposed to be one of the more intelligent among American voices having taught at Harvard University, with scores of honorary degrees, but that just goes to underscore the difference between book sense and common sense is sometimes as stark as night and day. He is somewhat well connected however, among Democrats, which might be the reason why both Harry Reid and Howard Dean have taken more subdued positions than Peretz’s but with the same outcome, the demonization or marginalization of American citizens. Oh, and I neglected to mention how Peretz, a Jew, making statements that sound so like those made against his fellow coreligionists over the centuries  now using the same diatribe is the height of chutzpah/hypocrisy. Peretz is a self-admitted racist however so having his name on the racist wall of shame is a no brainer, in my opinion.   And we think we don’t have a racial problem in this country or that it was solved with the election of Obama? Think again America!

Pam Gellar and Park51 Opponents embrace fascists


There was never any doubt that most of the rabid opponents to the Cordoba House were fueled by racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia, but the lengths they’ve gone to embrace these groups while rationalizing their lapse in judgment/sanity is an exercise in gymnastics only they could pull off.  Pam Geller, pictured left, is just one of many Americans who’ve sided with European racists and brought their polemic to the shores of America.  It’s strange that such racists are allowed entry onto the shores of America, with their proven record of participating in violence against their own social order, when Muslim activists in the past were denied entry to America for espousing non-violent ideas.  That is also a commentary on American government; Bush’s regime was against the ‘free market place of ideas’, whereas Obama’s administration seems to allow them even at the peril of its own existence.  This is also an indication at the depths at which American Islamophobes will go to demonize American Muslims and why these demagogues are so  dangerous.  If 21st century Americans want to identify with the likes of the English Defence League in expressing opposition to religious freedom, it will be a lot easier to know who the terrorists really are.

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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 Adventures of Michael Enright


I wonder what was going through the mind of this young Afghani boy as he was asked, no doubt, to pose with Michael Enright for this photo.  As it turns out he has every reason to be apprehensive after what happened to a New York cab driver at the hands of Enright’s rage. In reality, the photo above is just another trophy picture, like the others we’ve covered here on the pages of Miscellany101 of “conquerors” posing with their conquered, the dispossessed.

It’s also noteworthy that Enright had to go to a land thousands of miles from his own to nurture his racism, accompanied by an invading army from his country, which has been known for inflicting massive casualties on the civilian population of Afghanistan. Along with his assault on an unsuspecting cab driver, Enright no doubt struck terror in the minds of the little boy pictured above. Yet we are led to believe the threat of Islam on God fearing western populations is at hand?  Go figure.

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.

Destroying the hallowed ground myth


Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog does an awesome job of destroying the race baiting Islamophobes’ objections to the Cordoba House being built in close proximity to the 911 disaster because it somehow will upset the sensitivity of those who suffered loss there.  And while there really were never any legitimate  objections to this project to begin with, and each one that the opponents have raised has been seriously knocked down or derailed they keep popping up because there are some in America who want to ascribe any and all failure to the present administration or want to maintain an obstructionist agenda in order to win elections in November.

So here we go again……the hallowed ground scenario.  This is also what’s going up in and around the “sacred” ground of the World Trade Center complex, some would say the same distance from it as the Cordoba House.   The New York Dolls Gentlemen’s Club on 59 Murray Street, where you can have all of your emotional needs met.  If you want to reflect on what happened at WTC on 911 the New York Dolls club is the place to go to do just that.  No doubt the likes of the one above will be glad to give you a hand, at a price of course, to come to grips with what took place on that awful day and hold the memories of loved and cherished ones who died on that day.  A titty bar, that’s what we call them down South, is more deserving of occupying that holiest of ground in the American psyche than an interfaith institution that wants to bridge gaps and promote brother/sisterhood among people.  That’s just what the country needs.

Hat tip to Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog

The New War of the Christian Crusaders


By David Rosen

The building of a Muslim community center in an abandoned building two blocks from the site of New York’s former World Trade Center has become the latest controversy in America’s long fought religious wars. The construction of the center, often referred to as a mosque, has become the latest rallying issue for the Christian right, Tea Party proponents and Republican operatives in their war to impose moralistic and corporatist values on America.

It is too early to know how the Muslim center issue will be resolved, but it is clear that the rantings of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Abe Foxman (of the Anti-Defamation League) and others have played an important role pushing a local issue into the center-stage of national politics. Since the horrendous attacks of 9/11, Muslims in general and American Muslims in particular have been the targets of an undeclared religious war promoted by Christian fundamentalists and self-serving Republicans. For some among these religious zealots, Islam is a threat to their belief that the U.S. is a white Protestant nation. Over the last four centuries, Quakers, Mormons, Catholics, Jews and many others have been targets of religious persecution, often the victims of imprisonments, hangings, lynchings and other acts of violence.

Rightwing ranters might well not know the history of religious intolerance in America, but they are surely aware that they are fueling a deep-seated rage among a certain scary segment of the Christian populous. This round in the ongoing religious culture wars has yet to explode into the ugly violence that took place in the aftermath of 9/11, and one can only hope that the current controversy will not lead to attacks on Muslims.

Sadly, like the attacks the followed 9/11, rightwing ranters like Palin and Gingrich will act “shocked” by the violence if it occurs and will claim innocence as to their roles fomenting it. With a knowing sneer, they will wash their hands of the blood they have caused and seek out other innocent victims.

In an excellent article on Tomdispatch, Stephen Salisbury details the current Manhattan Muslim center controversy and the spreading anti-Muslim hysteria being whipped up around the country over the opening of new local mosques. As Salisbury opines, “The angry ‘debate’ over whether the building should exist has a kind of glitch-in-the-Matrix feel to it, leaving in its wake an aura of something-very-bad-about-to-happen.” [tomdispatch.com, August 11, 2010]

Salisbury discusses the ongoing protests against mosques also taking place in New York’s Brooklyn and Staten Island as well as in California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He connects these controversies to the headline-grabbing opportunist comments by Palin (in true Palin-speak, “peaceful Muslims” need to “refudiate” the center) and Gingrich (who calls on Saudi Arabia to open churches and synagogues).

He also draws attention to the pernicious role played by Rick Lazio, New York State Republican gubernatorial candidate, who assails the center as subverting the right of New Yorkers “to feel safe and be safe.” Because New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Attorney General (and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Andrew Cuomo have come out in support of the Muslim center, it will like be a major issue in the November election.

Most importantly, Salisbury provides an invaluable overview of the anti-Muslim campaign that arose in the wake of 9/11, reminding readers just how alarmingly vicious good-old Christian love can be.

Part of the “glitch-in-the-Matrix feel” that Salisbury notes is the absence of a recognition that the current Muslin center controversy is part of a long history of religious intolerance in American.

In the days following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush, a born-again Christian, in a spontaneous and unscripted statement blurted out the unspoken truth that guided the U.S.’s initial military counter-attack campaign in Afghanistan: “This crusade,” he said, “this war on terrorism.” While Bush’s admission was later repudiated and disappeared from the public discourse, it define the unstated goal of the ultra-reactionary Christians who were his core-constituency and knew full well what he meant.

At the heart of Bush’s crusade agenda was an invocation of the “shock and awe” tradition that defined religious wars since the grand crusades of the Middle Ages and an acknowledgement that they needed to be applied in Afghanistan. The grand crusades waged by the Roman Church were against Muslims and Jews to capture and hold ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Lands, and to defeat Orthodox or Eastern Christianity. Many perished. Similar, crusaders were waged against Christian heretics, including early Protestants, and done so in the name of their absolutist god.

This tradition was brought over to the New World with the Pilgrims and other early British settlers. The worst and most sustained form of religious war in America has been waged against the Native people. For all the annual whitewashing that takes place at Thanksgiving Day parades, early Puritans fought the Pequot Indians in Eastern Connecticut until 1637 when the General Courts of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colony launched a war of extermination against them. (Native people found that the Pilgrims stunk, literally; Europeans rarely bathed, believing it unhealthy, and seldom were naked, believing it immoral.) The white Christian race and religious crusade against Native North American people persisted for centuries.

Pilgrims also imposed religious intolerance on themselves. Early Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers were aligned with the Church of England and looked badly upon those who contested their orthodoxy. Those challenging Calvinist dogma were subject to banishment, whipping, branding, ear-lobbing and even hanging. Early leaders like Thomas Hooker, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished. Early Quaker settles in Plymouth were also banished and four were hung publicly.

Over the subsequent centuries, Americans have witnessed repeated bouts of religious intolerance. Not surprisingly, these episodes were often accompanied by the same shrill rhetoric we find shouted today by those opposing the Muslim center.

The Know Nothing movement grew out of the Second Great Awakening or the Great Revival of the 1830s and became the American Party that flourished during the late-’40s and early-’50s. It got its name when members where asked the party’s positions and simply said, “I know nothing.” It drew together Protestants who felt threatened by the rapid increase in European immigrants and, most especially, Catholics, flooding the cities. It felt that Catholics, as followers of the Pope, were not loyal Americans and were going to take over the country. It had strong support in the North that witnessed large-scale Irish immigration after 1848. The American Party captured the Massachusetts legislature in 1854 and, in 1856, backed Millard Fillmore for president, who secured nearly 1 million votes, a quarter of all votes cast.

The Ku Klux Klan was established in 1866 and, during Reconstruction, began a systematic campaign against freed African Americans. However, by the ’80s, it had lost its way as a racialist organization. It was revitalized in the wake of the Atlanta trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman who had been falsely charged and convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old white Christian girl, in 1913. In 1915, after the Georgia governor commuted his sentence, Frank was forcibly removed from the state penitentiary where he was being held by a mob of white Christians and lynched. Subsequently, many of those who participated in Frank’s murder came together to re-launch the Klan.

In the late-’10s, the Klan aligned with nativists, eugenicists and the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) to not only promote temperance but racialist and anti-immigrant policies. As WWI hysteria mounted, ASL’s New York representative, William Anderson, equated being pro-German with being anti-American: German beer, saloons and breweries were the unnamed enemy. He had a deep antipathy toward Catholics, accusing the Church of mounting an “assault on law and order,” of opposing Prohibition because it was promoted by Protestants and accusing it of engaging in “efforts to destroy [the Prohibition] victory and bring back the saloons.” Anti-Catholic antipathy contributed to the defeat of the country’s first Catholic nominee, Al Smith’s, in the 1928 presidential election.

Many other episodes of religious intolerance have taken place since the ’20s. However, John Kennedy’s 1960 presidential victory marked the moment in American history when anti-Catholic appeals in national election were no longer acceptable. Similarly, the growing acceptance among Christian evangelicals of the notion of the “last days” has lead to a weird embrace of Jews and Israel and may have contributed to a moderation in anti-Semitism.

In the days before 9/11, most informed people accepted Islam as a variant within the Abrahamic tradition. However, in the aftermath of the attacks, even this claim came under suspicion. Earlier this summer, Ron Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor of Tennessee, claimed that Islam is a “cult” that did not deserve First Amendment protection: “You can even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life, or a cult — whatever you want to call it… .” Challenged by a diverse assortment of Tennesseans, including traditional conservatives, Ramsey has backed off this assertion.

If truth be told, the Manhattan Muslim center is both a real issue and a fictitious spectacle. It is real in the sense that its being built at the designated site on Park Place will be a victory for religious tolerance. America is undergoing a profound economic and cultural realignment. Traditional white society is giving way to a truly multi-cultural America; conventional Protestantism is giving way a significant increase in the Catholic populous (mostly Hispanics) and growing Muslim, Hindu and Sekh communities.

The Muslim center story, like that of Michelle Obama’s holiday in Spain, is a false issue, a spectacle promoting social deception. Since Obama’s victory, the Republican right has implemented a very effective wrecking-ball strategy, attempting to destroy every issue considered. Its guiding principle is simple: Obama and the Democrats can do no right. To realize this goal, it did anything and everything in its power to make sure as little as possible got through Congress, got honestly assessed in the media and got to help ordinary Americans. Sadly, the Christian Republican right is succeeding and the Obama leadership remains clueless.

A century-and-a-half ago white Protestants came to accept Irish immigrants as white. While hard to imagine today, early Irish immigrants, those who came to America in the wake of the 1848 famine, were seen by many traditional Protestants as “niggers,” not really different from African Americans. Faced with the inevitabilities of post-Civil War modernization, old-world Protestants changed. And with it, racism changed.

The challenge that faces today’s Anglo-American Protestant descendents, those who see Muslims as “niggers,” is whether then can change and accept America as a multi-cultural society.

Foot in mouth award


Shimon Peres is the latest Israeli leader to be awarded.  Earlier, while Benjamin Netanyahu in an equally disgusting show of contempt for the people who make it possible for Israel to exist made disparaging remarks against America which didn’t even cause a ripple stateside, Peres’ remarks about British politicians being anti-semitic caused more of a firestorm in England.  Americans are so used to being bitch slapped by Israel we just sit back and take the abuse dished out by our scorned lover, but the British who practically gave Palestine to Europe’s Jewish community took umbrage at Peres’ remarks so much so that he had to deny he ever made them.

Peres’ initial remarks that he now denies making, included references to the influence of Muslims on British policy, as if influencing the policy of a government  is something Israel would never do to any western ally, but it clearly shows the Israeli government’s attacks on Islam extend far beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank.  It didn’t help Peres that the Tablet confirmed his remarks and the reasons behind them while he was trying to deny them, the fact is his denial is a lie.

This illustrates two things common in both Netanyahu and Peres’ attitude.  First they are extremely manipulative of western governments by asserting  Israel is a victim in the ongoing battles with its neighbors in which Israel is always the aggressor and second they are scornful of their state sponsors, who have all but guaranteed their existence at the expense of Israel’s neighbors, by even refusing to acknowledge this support, usually undertaken  at great expense to sponsor states but little or no expense to Israel.  The recipients of this award  for a baffling comment by a public figure goes to both Peres and Netanyahu.  Please don’t congratulate them.

Quebec’s witch hunt against niqabi minority


(Our neighbors to the North have been struck with Islamophobia too)

Governments intervene against the religious wishes of Jehovah’s Witness families to give blood transfusions to save the lives of their kin. The Quebec government wants to intervene to deny health care to women whose religious wish is to wear the niqab.

In Saudi Arabia, Iran and parts of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, police or vigilante militias crack down on women not wearing the niqab or the burqa. In Quebec, authorities want to crack down on women who do.

Quebec officials have already chased down one niqab-wearing woman to oust her from a second French language class after she had been hounded out of her first. The bureaucrats are emulating the gendarmes of autocrats Kemal Ataturk of Turkey in the 1920s and the first Shah of Iran in the 1930s who persecuted women wearing either the niqab or the hijab.

It is scary when a state feels compelled to keep women either covered or uncovered.

It is scarier when majorities in democracies feel threatened by a minority – in this case, a tiny minority within the Muslim minority. Or feel the need to crush an isolated religious or cultural practice. Had such attitudes prevailed in an earlier era, we may not have been blessed today with Hutterites, Orthodox Jews, Sikhs and others in the rich religious tapestry of Canada.

Across Europe and now sadly in Quebec, populations and governments are in a tizzy over a few dozen niqabi women. Sadder still, Quebec is not only out of step with the rest of Canada but has taken a bigoted leap ahead of Europe, the historic home of Islamophobia.

In France – where out of 5 million Muslims, 367 wear the niqab (as counted by the domestic intelligence service, no less) – a parliamentary panel has pondered the issue for a year and suggested a ban from schools and hospitals but nowhere else.

In Denmark – where out of 100,000 Muslims, there are less than 200 niqabis (as estimated by the ministry of social affairs), the government is still mulling a ban.

In Quebec, less than 25 women are said to wear the niqab – of whom only 10 turned up last year at the Montreal office of the provincial health board out of 118,000 visitors.

Yet the obsession with the niqab continues. On the day Jean Charest tabled his anti-niqab bill, Hydro Quebec’s $3.2 billion deal to take over NB Power and gain access to the lucrative U.S. market collapsed – with nary a public concern.

His bill calls not only for showing the face for the legitimate purposes of a photo ID and security. It also bans niqabis from working for, or even receiving services from, government and the broader public sector. These taxpayers may be denied all schooling, including French language instruction, and all non-emergency health care, including regular checkups.

Charest rationalized it on the basis of gender equity, the secular nature of the state, the need to integrate immigrants, and the importance of personal interaction. Except that:

The giant crucifix in the National Assembly will stay.

Property and other tax breaks given the churches will remain, including for the Catholic Church, where women must remain in the pews and not ascend to the pulpit.

Niqabi women will be driven out of the public sphere, end up with less personal interaction with others and be ghettoized. It is a strange way to advance gender equity.

It is argued, as by Nicolas Sarkozy in France, that banning the niqab is not anti-Islamic, since it may not be a religious requirement, as opined by a senior Egyptian cleric last year. We elect politicians not to propound fatwas but to implement secular, democratic laws in an equitable manner for one and all. As for those enamoured of the authoritarian ways of Egypt, they are free to move there.

We are witnessing collective hysteria, prompting even liberal governments to cave in. It was not a pretty sight to see Charest, a Liberal, competing for headlines with Ann Coulter, the Muslim-baiting neo-con from America.

That’s democracy in action, it can be said. But we have seen many ugly manifestations of the popular will before. Targeting the niqabis may not be in the same league as past Canadian sins against some minorities but history should provide us with the perspective to pause.

Jihad Jane-JOKE!


Media has inundated the public with tales of a middle aged all American blonde blue eyed woman seducing people to commit acts of wanton murder and terror in the name of Islam.  It would be laughable if so many people weren’t gullible enough to believe it.  Instead what we have is a woman who was seduced by the internet and the cyber keyboard terrorists, no doubt many of them federal agents looking for the likes of her,  she met there. The Salt Lake Tribune has a very nice description of Colleen Renee LaRose

The life of the Pennsburg, Pa., woman who is due in federal court Thursday on terrorism charges is sounding ever more sad than scary.

“She’s had a hard life, so tough that her life story is like a country music song,” said a person close to the investigation.

The Nation in the grips of Islamophobia is desperate enough to ascribe the most heinous crimes to people whose lives are no more than the soap operas they see on television or the country music they listen.  LaRose’s boyfriend of five years says the entire time they were together she was neither religious no enveloped herself in or possessed Islamic garb yet some of the endearing images we’ve seen of her is a woman with a scarf on her head or wearing a menacing looking black face veil as if to underscore the threat she poses to the most dominant military power in human history.  Of course the imagery is meant to evoke a time when the US was at war with its other adversaries like Japan, Germany and the Soviet Union, and especially the latter in order to further the call for the war on Islam, and place one more example in the quiver of all terrorists are Muslim.  With the ever bending, adaptable, yet oft ignored rules concerning “terrorism” such a feat is not impossible to accomplish.

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‘Nuff said!