It’s always darkest before the dawn


Isabelle MaticWe’ve seen this phenomenon before where the worst news about Islam and the atrocities committed in its name are enough to get people to commit to finding out themselves about the religion and eventually accepting it.  It doesn’t seem to matter how heinous the crime and how erroneous the actions of those done in the name of Islam, people of faith and good intention are able to see through the filters of provocation and distortion and adopt Islam as their religion or understand criminal behavior has nothing to do with religion but rather with the followers of that religion.  It has happened again this time with a citizen of France and the massacre at the offices of Charlie Habdo as horrendous as they were did not deter Isabelle Matic a French director from accepting Islam.

French director Isabelle Matic has announced her decision to revert to Islam on her FaceBook account, making the unexpected announcement only a few days after Charlie Hebdo Paris attacks.

“Today, I passed through the first pillar of Islam. There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet,” Matic said in a message posted on her Facebook page on January 11.

In another message, she described how she took the decision and its effect on her beliefs in freedom of expression.

“Between the massacre at the premises of Charlie Hebdo and other event that have followed: I became a Muslim,” Matic wrote.

“Am I still for freedom of expression for all and Charlie Hebdo in particular?! Yes,” Matic wrote yesterday.

“With regard to my position towards the caricatures of the Prophet, I will write you the text of the SMS that I received this morning from a mosque which agreed quite well with my thoughts since the beginning of the cartoons, well before I became a Muslim,” she added

“They are making fun of Muhammad and do not harm Muhammad. They are making fun of a character that they have imagined and to whom they have given a name. This man is not our Prophet,” she wrote.

“The Makkans laughed at Muhammad (worthy of praise) in the appellant Modamam (worthy of name calling). The prophet peace be upon him was smiling. Yes, he was smiling! And he said: They are making fun of Modamam and not me,” Matic wrote.

“The wisdom is the answer to provocations. And this is what our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) has taught us.

 “So when Charlie Hebdo will be published insha ‘ Allah (God willing), do not pay attention. Do not respond to the provocation. And do not give them of importance,” she added.

It’s amazing the clarity she brings to her new found faith; too bad many Muslims who’ve lived long lives worshiping and studying the religious texts aren’t as clear headed as Matic is in such a short period of time. Perhaps she can contribute towards a more correct understanding and application of Islam by her fellow French Muslims.  Congratulations to her!

The perennial feast on Gaza returns


Issraelis gathered on a hilltop outside Sderot on Monday-AndrewBurton:Getty Images-NYT

Issraelis gathered on a hilltop outside Sderot on Monday-AndrewBurton:Getty Images-NYT

…and with its typical blood lust, however some new things have come to light I wasn’t aware of in previous invasions.  The Israelis have started  up their propaganda campaign as in the past, but this time using students on social media incentivized with school grants to sanitize the Israeli slaughter.

Diane Magnay, CNN reporter

Diane Magnay, CNN reporter

Meanwhile Israel wants to purge all other forms of information from being exposed to the public, even enlisting the help of American news corporations like CNN. Notice when Diane Magnay didn’t respond in the way she should have…..accepting the threat and giving in to it, she was swapped out for someone more pliable. Don’t think for a minute that other reporters haven’t been treated similarly.  In fact if they are still there in occupied Palestine/Israel it most likely means they have sent all the right signs to Israelis of the coverage they will receive.

State governments have gotten in on the act; France, the typically Eur-centric bastion of xenophobia banned protests against Israeli action in Palestine becoming the first country in the world to do so. The socialist government of Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has demonstrated more than anyone else could how the lines of demarcation between socialism and fascism are more blurry than before. - Not that the ban stopped support for Palestinians; weekend demonstrations were well attended.

 

 

Israeli politicians have for decades dehumanized Palestinians and reaped nation wide scorn on them as something less than human and not worthy of human rights much less dignity.

Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked

No where has that been so dramatically done than with the racist politician Ayelet Shaked who calls them snakes and collectively worthy of nothing except death. She is NOT fringe….she’s a Netanyahu protege and she has no problem with the blood of innocents being on her hands..in fact she’s proud of it and calls for it.

They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists . . . are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists.

Gaza 2009

Gaza 2009

Is it any wonder that the Gaza feast will continue for as long as the amassed forces of Israel cooperate with one another; media, government and public opinion all worked up into one killer frenzy.  The Palestinians don’t have a chance.

Gaza July 15,2014

Gaza July 15,2014

So  much for not forgetting the pogroms of the last century; they are now being visited upon us by its sufferers.

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hijab

An International Conspiracy-The Spread of Fascism the World Over


As we approach the eve of the American elections for 2012, the choices couldn’t be clearer for people.  The status quo or American fascism and for now status quo is the good guy.  The Republican party, GOP, unfortunately isn’t bringing anything new, innovative or progressive to the collective American table vis-a-vis politics; rather it has dusted off the same tired platitudes and racism that has gripped the party, the country and the world and showed that it clearly wants to impose that ideology on American citizens as well as citizens elsewhre.  Their message of defeating  an incumbent president makes an appeal to religious, racial bias and nationalistic supremacy.

For Muslims in America and elsewhere in the western world there has been a resurgence of religious bigotry and an incitement towards religious persecution that seems unmatched in contemporary times.  We’ve been writing about it in the pages of Miscellany101 for some time; this religious fervor has been exacerbated by current events from 911 to the Iraq/Afghanistan war to Obama’s ascendancy to the White House and his subsequent reelection campaign.  Any attempt to even nominally include Muslims in the fabric of the western societies in which they reside and are citizens of is met with scorn, derision and attempts at curtailing their rights to worship and practice their religion within the bounds of their countries.

Tariq Ramadan seems to offer some advice on how Muslims should behave in the face of this onslaught to deny them participatory citizenship and it might be worthwhile reading

Contrary to expectations, over time, perceptions of Islam and Muslims by their western fellow-citizens have sharply deteriorated. Around us we observe the rise of populist movements and extreme right-wing parties from the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece and France (to name but a few European countries) to Australia, Canada and the US, with its neoconservative Tea Party and some Christian evangelist groups.

Campaigns stigmatising Islam and Muslims are now a permanent feature of the political landscape: Populists mobilise their followers and expand their electoral base by criticising the visibility of Muslims, their supposed demands for special treatment and, ultimately, their alleged intention to colonise and to transform western civilization from within.

These “foreign citizens,” these “home-grown foreigners” are depicted as the threat of the age. A politician may be totally incompetent, may offer no solution to the economic crisis, to unemployment and urban violence, but he need only single out the “new Muslim enemy”, need only direct the public’s attention towards controversies created out of the whole cloth to see his political credibility enhanced. We are living in sad times indeed.

Even more worrisome is the impact of these movements and parties (identity-based, populist, xenophobic, Islamophobe and racist) on the political class and on society as a whole. On this issue, the old demarcation lines of elitist rigidity on the Right and humanist openness on the Left have been obliterated. At both ends of the political spectrum we hear populist and Islamophobe rhetoric. Likewise, we encounter courageous women and men (most often in the minority) who resist and refuse to play the identity card.

The fracture between those who envision a common future with Islam and Muslims (having understood that Islam has now become a western religion) and those who rant and rave against the “Islamist threat” transcends traditional political alignments.

Objectively, we must concede that the citizens of western countries (Europe, North America and Australia) are moving towards increasingly right-wing positions on the political spectrum and tend to identify increasingly with the theses of the populists and even with those of the extreme right wing (even though they often distance themselves from the far right parties).

Globalisation, the weakening of cultural references, the crisis of identity, economic recession, unemployment, the impact of new communications technologies and cultural transformation all help explain the popular fear and the success of populism, over and above the presence of Muslims in the West.

As for the Muslims themselves, they function as indicators, concentrating fears with their newfound visibility, their new ways of being westerners, their skin colour, their religious practices, their languages and their cultures of origin.

The more scrupulously they respect the laws of the land, speak the language and feel American, French, Australian or British, the more suspect they become, the more dangerous. They were asked to integrate. Now, lo and behold, their success is seen as a sign of potential “colonisation”, if not subversion. Fears and contradictions abound; serenity and coherence, nowhere to be found.

According to a recent French opinion poll, these fears and the rejection that comes with them are being expressed ever more overtly. France, among western countries, is home to the largest number of Muslims, who have resided there for the longest time, often as fourth or fifth generation French citizens of Islamic faith (who continue to be perceived, of course, as people of “immigrant origin” unlike other white European immigrants who are perceived entirely “French” after two generations at most).

The figures are alarming: 43 per cent of the French consider the presence of a Muslim community in France as a “threat” to the country’s identity. The same percentage opposes the construction of mosques (as against 39 per cent in 2010) and 63 per cent disagree with the wearing of veils or headscarves in the street (59 per cent in 2010).

Perceptions are increasingly negative and acceptance of Muslim practices increasingly limited. Only 17 per cent of those polled consider the presence of Muslims as a factor of cultural enrichment — a frightening reality, especially considering that France is no more racist or xenophobic than any other country.

The poll points to feelings found in many western societies and the fact must be faced. What it reveals is a concrete danger, not only for Muslims, but also for France and all other Western countries. When populism, extreme right-wing ideas, xenophobia and racism take root, begin to spread and are normalised (going so far as to demand discriminatory laws), societies as a whole are at risk and must take rapid action.

Western Muslim citizens may have long believed that it was sufficient to respect the law and to learn the language of the country to become full-fledged citizens. Over time, they have come to understand that this was not enough. Within the framework of the nation-state, they were expected — justly, in the event — to integrate into the legal structure of the state and to adopt the “cultural” bottom line, which consisted of knowing the national language.

Generations of western Muslim citizens respect the secular law of the land and now speak the language of their countries as well as their fellow-citizens. They have often been asked to demonstrate their loyalty to their respective countries, which they have sometimes done to excess (wishing to please and to satisfy whatever the price) or in a naturally critical manner (civil loyalty must always be critical in nature, supporting one’s country when it is in the right and being vigilant with regard to questionable political decisions).

Here we may apply the three ‘L’s that I have identified as the first step to acquiring citizenship and a sense of belonging — respect for the Law, mastering the Language, and being Loyal to the country. But with every passing day, it becomes clearer that this is only a first step and that we must go farther.

The challenge is not simply to belong to the state, to accept its legal framework or merely to speak the national language. What is essential is to belong to the nation, to the common narrative that binds women and men to a shared history, culture, to a collective psychology and to a future to be built together.

Western Muslim citizens may well have attained citizenship and the rights that accompany it, but they are not yet a part of the “Nation”, of that reference at once formal and informal that feeds into and shapes the deep-seated sense of belonging, of confidence in one’s self and in others (of the same nation), and acquisition of its explicit and implicit codes of behaviour.

The rights and the power that the state devolves upon its citizens are both real and effective, but the recognition and the power of being — and of being “one of us” that underlies belonging to the “Nation” — are no less real and effective. Today, in the West, Muslims are citizens of the state, but foreigners with regard to the Nation.

The coming years will be critical. All the debates over secularism, visibility and the wrong-headed “Islamisation” of socio-economic issues (schools, unemployment, the formation of communitarian or ethnic ghettos, violence, etc.) are nothing but pretexts for avoiding a single, fundamental question: Is Islam a western religion or is it not and as such do Muslims have a role in the future of this civilisation?

In the West, the question demands full introspection into the questions of history, of identity and evolution towards a new, fully acknowledged pluralism. We must develop, in full confidence, a new, critical view towards ourselves, a new definition of self that is more open and broader and that takes full account of the meaning of history, that turns its back on diffidence and fear.

A new philosophy and a new content must be found for the meaning of the Nation for now its history must be assumed in its entirety: The proud and the shameful experiences of the past and the objective and irreversible development of the future. Time will be needed for Muslim citizens to “integrate” themselves into the common narrative of the Nation in the various western countries.

Inductively, during the next two generations, their intellectual, social, cultural, political and economic contributions will be able to deconstruct the reductive perceptions of the “Nation” from which they are still excluded. Indeed, they face a paradox: The populists and the Islamophobes insist that they disappear in order to “be accepted” while they must be positively visible in order to be respected, recognised and, ultimately, become subjects and actors in the shared narrative of the Nation. To respond to western fears by disappearing, as the expressed opinion of a majority of their fellow citizens suggests, would be an extremely grave historical error.

Instead, they must both learn history and learn from it, be constructively critical of the selective constructions of western memory (particularly, but not only, with regard to Islam); study their philosophers, their social dynamics and their policies while stepping into the world of culture, the arts and sports.

Such is the appropriate response to the dilemma of the day: Bring about an intellectual revolution, turn our back on false debates and defensive attitudes, define ourselves as western subjects, as actors in the evolution of our societies by assuming their values and their practices and, finally, as agents of a full-fledged pluralism and of social peace shaped by justice, respect and by the struggle against all forms of racism.

The challenge is great, one that calls for a multi-dimensional commitment. Not a strictly intellectual, political or social commitment, for in human history art, culture, sport and humour have also played a vital and at least complementary role in helping mentalities evolve.

The path is long and arduous, as is everything that touches on human relations — from the struggle for power to fraternity, from friendship to rejection, racism and hatred. The destiny of the West, as does that of all civilisations, can be found at the heart of this risk-fraught equation: The objective unity of a single humanity, enriched by a celebrated human diversity.

Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Qatar. He is the author of Islam and the Arab Awakening.

France is a lot like FoxNews and vice versa-hypocrisy abounds


I’ve railed against France’s treatment of its Muslim citizens, treating them like second class citizens and rewriting the definition of equality, liberty and fraternity when it comes to Muslims.  Feeling disenfranchised France’s Muslim feel any excuse will do to express their frustration at what they justifiably see as religious persecution by France…..even when there is no legitimate reason for such frustration as in the case of the latest provocation that I’ve yet to weigh in on, emanating from California.

Here is a video that is circulating among French Muslims which they think, and I do too, points out French hypocrisy.  Looking at it reminds me a lot of the verbal gymnastics one encounters on FoxNews, that bastion of hypocritical tripe that infects American airwaves.  One has to wonder whether this French television channel isn’t owned by Rupert Murdoch……

American Exceptionalism


Seal of the United States Department of State.

Seal of the United States Department of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is how the term is defined according to Wikipedia

American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy.

America demonstrated that characteristic with this initiative

The US on Monday criticised France and Belgium for banning women from wearing face-covering Islamic veils in public, while warning of growing anti-Semitism and hostility towards Muslims in Europe.

The US State Department’s report on religious freedoms, researched in 2011 but released on July 30, 2012, warned that freedom of worship was being undermined across the globe — particularly in China and Pakistan.

Commenting on the report, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that more than a billion people worldwide lived “under governments that systematically repress religious freedom.”

“When it comes to this human right — this key feature of stable, secure and peaceful societies — the world is sliding backwards,” she said.

In Europe there was “growing xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment, and intolerance toward people considered ‘the other’,” according to the report, which also complained of a “rising number of European countries, including Belgium and France, whose laws restricting dress adversely affected Muslims and others.”

There is no equivocation in the US report and its recommendations, and it spares no one even its allies, instead taking the position of America’s founding fathers of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Supposedly these are the same ideals of our allies, notably France, but in practice it’s apparent equality and fraternity do not apply when it comes to its Muslim citizens.  America justifiably called France on its hypocrisy.  Everyone should never forget Europe has been the sight of two world wars, the last one we now applaud our participation in for fighting against the political and religious tyranny of Nazi Germany.  After finding the scale of that country’s genocide against European Jewry America has proudly proclaimed its fight was a noble cause to rescue Europe and the world from religious fratricide by a government that had its start with discriminating against its religious minorities in matters of dress and appearance.  Those countries outlined in the US report are today doing the same thing.  Let’s hope America’s demonstration of real leadership and initiative can avert such a catastrophe that seems to be all too characteristic of  Europe and for now not of us, the

US.

Remember this guy? He’s baaack!!!


Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in the news again and it’s not good news.  The NYC prosecutor was paid off to drop the charges against him because of innuendo dug up or revealed about Strauss-Kahn’s accuser in the case, Nafissatou Diallo, but ever since then it’s been nothing but bad news for DSK. 

First off after having the charges against him dropped in NYC, DSK faced similar charges by a French compatriot back in  France who claimed he attempted to rape her as well.  Well ‘the French public prosecutor said Thursday that while insufficient evidence was found to substantiate attempted rape, “acts that could be qualified as sexual aggression were established.” Unlike the attempted rape charge—which carries a statute of limitations of 10 years—sexual assault offenses can only be prosecuted three years after they were committed which means because the allegations go back to 2003, the plaintiff’s case is all but dead in the water.  However, the very finding that DSK engaged in sexually aggressive behavior mirrors the charges made by Diallo for which now she only has civil proceedings as a recourse.  But there’s more…….

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was handed preliminary charges Monday alleging he was involved in a French prostitution ring…In the northern French city of Lille on Monday, investigating judges summoned Strauss-Kahn for questioning and held him for about eight hours.

Lawyer Richard Malka told reporters afterward that Strauss-Kahn was given preliminary charges of “aggravated procurement in an organized gang.”

Strauss-Kahn was released under judicial supervision after paying €100,000 in bail, and was barred from contacting others charged in the case, a judicial official said.

Another Strauss-Kahn lawyer has acknowledged that the ex-IMF chief attended orgies but was unaware prostitutes were involved.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

This is the guy the New York city prosecutors let go free because they wanted to disbelieve a poor immigrant housekeeper who was violated by him.  There’s no doubt that DSK has these kinds of proclivities when it comes to women and his inability to control his libido.  What’s unfortunate is the human tragedies his indiscretions leave behind as he moves on to his next victim.  I hope someone can stop him.  We here in America evidently didn’t have the stomach to do so.

Israeli hypocrisy


Israeli chutzpah is always amusing if not absolutely puzzling.  Take this latest Israeli reaction to what took place recently in France and France’s reaction  when European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton speaking at a conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels on Monday, hours after the attack in Toulouse, France where 4 French Jews were killed, said this:

….The Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy, and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.

…which apparently drove the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu to the limits of hyperbole

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

I guess he forgot his own history in regards to human shields.But what’s even more appalling is the inability of Netanyahu to empathize with even the children of Gazan who he has had a hand in slaughtering or imprisoning.

A new, important yet disturbing report published on Tuesday by Defence for Children International – Palestine section has found that Israel’s routine arrests, detentions, interrogations, abuses and torture of Palestinian children are in breach of various UN and international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which have been ratified by Israel.

This is strangely reminiscent of America’s disregard for the conventions against torture that it signed and then reneged on during the Iraq war. Despite Netanyahu’s protestations in some ways he is correct.  There is no moral equivalence between the act of a single gunman and the wholesale slaughter of civilians by a military equipped with some of the most lethal weapons known to mankind. In fact, what the Israeli military has done in the name of wiping out terrorism is to institute terror on innocents on a scale unparalleled in modern warfare.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel; imprisoning a population within well defined borders, not letting anything in or out except at the discretion of the Israeli government, the penalty for any transgression no matter how small or well intended being death and unleashing a military juggernaut against such a population whenever the national angst calls for it is no less than a crime against humanity…..all of humanity, which pales in comparison to the shooting deaths of four people by a madman on the streets that the victims felt comfortable traveling.  The citizens of Gaza have no such reassurance of safety on their streets.  Netanyahu is spared these images or ignores them; you shouldn’t be.But let’s just assume for the sake of argument that Netanyahu is correct and there is no comparison between what happened in France and what is happening on a regular basis in Gaza and the West Bank  (The latest Israeli strike has killed at least 23 people, some of them the children that Netanyahu scoffs at the mention of killing.) and that his cause is a noble one, ridding his country and the world of terrorists, then such logic must be extended to an insane gunman, Muhammad Merah who it is claimed acted in defense of those very Palestinian children killed by Netanyahu and ignored by the rest of the world.  Merah claims he was acting out of a sense of  justice for those innocents killed by Israel.  Acting without drones, satellite tracking or special weapons and tactics, Merah sought to bring to justice those people he felt were responsible for murdering Palestinians children in much the same way  Netanyahu slaughters people in the name of his justice.  The difference is the acceptance of the doctrine that Palestinians are terrorists and Jews are victims of their terror.  Merah’s rational, in that context, will never be acceptable to a free thinking  populace.  The fact that Netanyahu’s explanation is accepted means that in many ways we, especially those of us in the West, are NOT free to form an opinion vis-a-vis Israel’s abuse of human rights due to the lack of information and/or the slant and way it is given us…offering us no chance to form an unbiased opinion of it.  That perhaps is the biggest crime of all.

Why Is this Woman Smiling? C’mon, you know the answer to that!


As’ad AbuKhalil in his blog post asks, regarding the photo above of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his wife who is smiling after charges were dropped against him, why is she smiling when the dropped charges mean her husband was engaged in consensual sex.  I hope his was a rhetorical question.  A fairer question would be why has corporate media and particularly New York city media taken such a like to an avowed socialist and former communist?

As for the former, Strauss-Kahn has returned to being  one of the most powerful men in the world  after these charges were dropped.  Even though he is no longer in charge of the IMF, a vindicated DSK could declare his candidacy for the presidency of France in an election only a year away. If he were to defeat Sarkozy, the hugely unpopular incumbent, Strauss-Kahn would then govern a country that is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and has the world’s third-biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons. That’s why his wife is smiling.  Power is an aphrodisiac that his wife Anne Sinclair has grown accustomed to and likes.  She lives with, tolerates his very public infidelities in order to remain his wife, close to the center of power.  She has abrogated her role as a wife and taken on the role  of a call girl, prostitute, mistress.  In the process, she is teaching her two sons from her first husband a valuable lesson in how French women are supposed to behave.

I think the answer to the latter question lies in the racial, socio-economic complexities of this case.  An African housekeeper who has a questionable past is far less valuable and certainly more vulnerable than a white reporter reporting during the Arab spring from Cairo, Egypt who claims she was traumatized, raped and then goes into a months long seclusion before emerging to tell her story.  No aspects of Laura Logan’s story were questioned or examined, except by bloggers like us, and consequently journalistically she remains pure and her story blemish free.  Not so for DSK’s victim who faces potential legal action  by DSK himself, which is meant to show to the poor and disenfranchised when they are pitted against the rich and powerful there  is nor should they expect justice.  No doubt that’s another reason why Strauss-Kahn’s wife is smiling.

The Insanity of Islamophobia


Pat Robertson, who has said he supports the decriminalization of  marijuana must have decided to take a drag from a joint which caused him to come up with this latest proclamation.  Notice how, with just the mere accusation Robertson’s media machine has maligned Muslims, the Muslim Brotherhood, Quick (a fast food restaurant in France), Campbells, McDonalds, Walmart, and Whole Foods among others because they offer  customers choices; menus are not being changed, things aren’t being prohibited today that were offered in days gone by, in fact beer which is on Quick’s menu in France is still available for those who drink.  Rather, a method of slaughtering meat employed on some of the meat used used for some of the food choices by these companies  is upsetting to the Islamophobes like Robertson and Pamela Gellar who talk about the fear of Islamic law taking over Europe and ostensibly America, merely because consumers are offered choices.  Usually that’s considered good business, but to racists like Robertson, et.al that’s cause to incite and inflame passions against a religious belief.  Such a jump can only be attributed to drugs and while we haven’t seen Gellar or Robertson taking them, or rather there are no pictures of them doing so, we can only assume because of their stance concerning the criminalization of drugs that drug use is  what’s  caused them to come to such far flung conclusions.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what has caused Frank Gaffney to such delirium as his latest insanity regarding a conservative PAC. Gaffney seems to think the nefarious Muslim Brotherhood has taken over the Conservative Political Action Conference, because…..are you ready for this……..there is a Muslim member, Suhail Khan a GWBush ex-staffer who represents a group, Muslims FOR America. (Look at the mindlessness of Gaffney’s opposition, decrying the participation of a group of Americans in the political process who are FOR America)  The whole goal of Gaffney, Robertson, Gellar and all the rest is to marginalize the participation of Muslims in the political process of America even when there is absolutely nothing objectionable to the aims of that participation unless such groups are under their control. In other words they want to make enemies where there aren’t any, by making their involvement illegal, and they want to instigate  bystanders in the political process into such a frenzy and hatred in order for them to accomplish this goal.   In even simpler terms, if you don’t do what they say, or agree with their program they won’t like you and threaten to do everything to make you illegal, the textbook definition of fascism.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the mindless, racist intent of people like Gaffney and Robertson than their own senseless rants regarding people who are different than they are.  The kind of talk regarding Muslims and Islam by the likes of the Islamophobes would not be tolerated if it were applied to any other group either in the borders of America or outside of it.  Spurred by the equally insipid distribution of lies and innuendo of today’s media outlets and you have the makings of a propaganda machine that surpasses  the wildest dreams of the most fanatical government. These are troubling times.

What if this were news about a Muslim?


Loonwatch. com does an excellent job pointing out the hypocritical nature of today’s news when it comes to reporting on issues of national and international  importance and any reader of Miscellany101, should visit that site regularly to get the latest example of a press obsessed with Islamic/Muslim violence that at the same time turns a blind eye and deaf ear to acts of violence committed by almost everyone else.  I must admit, this first news story I got from that site here, where the press is excoriated by Loonwatch, and justifiably so, for the double standard articles like this receive from media  intent on magnifying, mentioning, impugning and declaring guilty, every person mentioned on its pages or in its airwaves with an Arabic sounding name.

Along comes the largest cache of arms found on a private citizen’s property in the history of America and there is not one inference made to any group except al-Qaida, even when the perpetrator of the crime is a Serbian national bank robber!  The lengths the press goes to identify anyone anywhere with anything to do with Islam and terror, no matter how tangential the link is mental ambidexterity no contortionist could master.  George Djura Jakubec had PETN, a plastic explosive that’s been around since at least the second world war, used by people all over the world and even in some cases medicinally, but that fact is forgotten, or conveniently reduced to only one group of people who use it, that being al-Qaida. Of course no one has called for him to be imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay or waterboarded to see if he belongs to an even larger plot to terrorize America, because he’s not Muslim, and therefore couldn’t possibly be a terrorist.  We’ve even heard the common refrain, ‘he’s mentally unstable’ be the reason why he’s amassed such a large quantity of explosives in his home since only Muslims intentionally commit acts of terrorism, and everyone else just does so because of some kind of diminished mental capacity, and are therefore not responsible.

The other bit of news I found extraordinary is this. We’ve read about the importance of secularism in Europe but this is going too far.  Menstruating women being discriminated against in the workplace by their employers is enough to make any recoil in disgust in the 21st century, but evidently not enough for some people in Norway.  That this is being done by more than one employer yet hasn’t made its way in banner headlines across every newspaper in the world, prompting all the world’s super powers to enact sanctions against Norway and anything it produces because of the terrible way it treats its female employers; that there aren’t plane loads of soldiers sitting on tarmacs on every US military base, ready to take off at a second’s notice to invade and overthrow the Norwegian government and liberate their working women (one of the excuses made for the invasion of Afghanistan); that  a boycott hasn’t been called against Norway’s Nokia telecommunications, can only mean that some people, classes, ethnicities are allowed to denigrate and oppress their people (are you listening France) in a way that others can’t.   Political correctness does exist among members of the media and it’s a edge that cuts both ways.  The right isn’t the only group that can claim it cuts them and Muslims are as much its victim as its beneficiary.

More Veil News


There are only a very few people who are acting responsibly concerning the veil worn by some Muslim women especially in European countries.  Caroline Spelman, a Conservative Party member in the UK is one of them.  While I don’t know much about the Conservative Party in England, if it’s anything like American Conservatives, this woman, Spelman is quite progressive in her thinking.

“I don’t, living in this country as a woman, want to be told what I can and can’t wear.“One of the things we pride ourselves on in this country is being free, and being free to choose what you wear is a part of that, so actually banning the burka is absolutely contrary I think to what this country is all about.

“I’ve been out to Afghanistan and I think I understand much better as a result of actually visiting why a lot of Muslim women want to wear the burka.

“It is part of their culture, it is part of understanding that they choose to go out in the burka and I think those that live in this country, if they choose to wear a burka, should be free to do so.

“You have to understand the actual culture and it was probably only when I went there and spent some time amongst women that I really understood that for them it’s a choice.

“For them the burka confers dignity, it’s their choice, they choose to go out dressed in a burka and I understand that it is a different culture from mine but the fact is in this country women want to be free to choose whether or not to cover their heads, whether or not to go out in the morning wearing a burka, that’s for them.

“We are a free country, we attach importance to people being free, and for a woman it is empowering to be able to choose each morning when you wake up what you wear.”

It goes without saying she’s been slammed by members of her own party, but the essence of what she’s saying, the freedom to choose shouldn’t be lost on those secular countries that say the same thing about a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, for example, or what career she aspires to, etc.

For Muslim women living in the West who would like to wear the face veil or niqab who have any reservations or doubts about doing so comes this word from the primeval Islamic source, Saudi Arabia

if Muslim women are in a country that has banned the niqab, or full-face veil, or if they face harassment in such a place, “it is better that the Muslim woman uncovers her face.”

Numerous scholars of various Islamic schools of thought agree on this point, Qarni said.

But he, Qarni, is not the only one saying this.  Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, has made similar pronouncements, and there is spirited discussion on Muslim forums about this issue.  Of course given the opportunity, most governments would love to define their constituents in the manner that is appealing to the majority or that would ensure government office holders remain in power…and “choice” really has nothing to do with that, it’s consensus or expediency that matters.  This is the attitude of western secular countries that tout one type of choice for women that is liked by a majority of them….abortion for example, but deny another type of choice not so popular.  Muslim countries don’t consider choice at all; rather it’s tradition that carries the day.  In traditional Muslim countries, it is up to women themselves to make their case for their choices and most likely it will have to start from the top down.  Grass root movements simply don’t exist in many traditional countries. What is most interesting to this observer is  two prominent Muslim countries, most notably Syria and Egypt, have said the niqab is not allowed either in public or by woman who work in government jobs, thereby placing themselves on equal footing with their brethren governments from the West; common ground found on the backs of women’s rights or lack thereof.  Sad.

France is at it again


Following up their ban of the niqab, or face veil in public because it is a secular democracy, France has denied again, women the right to wear modest clothing while swimming and recently removed two Muslim women from a pool at le Port Leucate for doing so.  We wrote about this phenomenon last summer but it doesn’t look like people have taken our advice.

Two Muslim women were ordered to leave a swimming pool in a French holiday village on the southwest coast for wearing body-covering “burkinis”.

The women had plunged into the pool at le Port Leucate wearing full body swimsuits, including a head-covering hijab veil, but were immediately told to get out of the water.

The incident occurred less than two weeks after French MPs voted to ban body and face-covering garments, including the full Islamic veil, from public places including the street.

Under the new law, due to come into force early next year, women face a fine or community service for hiding their faces in public and those forcing women to wear the full veil risk prison.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the garment as “not welcome” in the staunchly secular French republic.

Now my question is if Muslims in France insist on asserting their rights in this secular democracy where certain things are not welcomed, what else will France do to them?  The history of Europe in the 20th century for religious minorities doesn’t bode well for French Muslims. Wars and ethnic cleansing have been the by-product of European religious intolerance.  My advice, if you’re willing to take is if you like swimming during the summer time, go to another country where you will be welcomed to vacation.  My advice to America is now is the time for an excellent marketing campaign to attract Muslim vacationers…..opps.  I forgot they’d probably be on a no-fly list, along with thousands of other law abiding Americans. My bad.

More French Racism


I’m about to get on board with the notion of freedom fries and it’s not because of their opposition to anything America has done, rather it’s because the French keep making one bone headed faux pas on the world stage after another.  First it was women’s clothing and now it’s people’s skin color. The aspersions cast on the French National soccer team once again put to rest France’s notions of equality.  It simply doesn’t exist.

First Person Account of Racism in liberal France


A Jewish Voice Against the Burqa Ban

Even as a Jew in New York, I know of what it is like to be Muslim in France.

While studying abroad in the French city of Strasbourg in 2007, I decided to grow a bushy beard. Little did I know that in France, only traditional Jewish and Muslim men don anything but the most finely trimmed mustache or goatee. Since I did not wear a yarmulke or other head covering, people who saw me on the street assumed that I was Muslim.

I felt that police officers and passersby treated me with suspicion, and even on the crowded rush hour bus, few chose to sit next to me if they could avoid it. On one occasion someone followed me home and tried to start a fight, only to find that I was a bewildered American, not a French Muslim.

Never before, and never since, have I experienced disdain of this sort. On a daily basis, I was made to feel badly because of my appearance — and what was presumed to be my corresponding religious affiliation. So when I read of the effort by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supporters to criminalize the burqa (and other garments that fully cover a woman’s body, head, and face) in France, I understood it to be far more than a measure to protect women’s rights or preserve the concept of a secular society, on which the modern French state is built.

In my opinion, it is easy to see how the “burqa ban” might be misused as a part of a broader effort to stigmatize a religious population, one that already perceives itself to be on the margins of society.

Admittedly, I am fundamentally opposed to any garment or religious practice — including those found in my own Jewish tradition — that suggests that women hold a different or subservient position. But the burqa ban in France will not achieve the aim of gender equality. If anything, it will strengthen religious conservatives in France’s Muslim population by convincing members of the moderate majority of Muslims that the rest of French society will never accept them.

While there are said to be only 2,000 women who wear burqas in all of France today, the entire Muslim population, estimated to be around five to six million, will take umbrage at another measure that singles out their community.

If we assume that Sarkozy is genuinely motivated by the belief that the burqa “hurts the dignity of women and is unacceptable in French society,” according to an April 21 article in the New York Times, his best response would in fact be to enact measures welcoming Muslim citizens more fully into French society. Such affirmations would undercut efforts by the small minority of religiously conservative Muslims to gather a following among disaffected coreligionists who feel unable to overcome anti-Muslim prejudice.

The need for the French government to treat religious minorities with respect is bolstered by its own history. In 1781, the enlightened German thinker Christian Wilhelm von Dohm made what at the time was a revolutionary suggestion: “Certainly, the Jew will not be prevented by his religion from being a good citizen, if only the government will give him a citizen’s rights.” But it was the French who first put Dohm’s prophetic vision into action.

In 1806, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte emancipated French Jews by passing laws to improve their economic and social status. He invited them to live anywhere they pleased and recognized their religion, affirming its permanent place within the private sphere of French life. Though he did renege on several of his early commitments, Napoleon’s efforts ultimately enabled Jews to become a full part of French society.

Through these acts of profound tolerance over 200 years ago, France set an example for all of Europe and proved that its open-mindedness was more than rhetorical.

Modern France would do well to follow its own admirable example and truly treat Muslim citizens as equal participants in society. Foregoing the burqa ban would be a sensible first step.

Dissecting an Assassination


Dubai has given the international community a lesson in how the rule of law is supposed to be upheld when the sovereignty of a country is violated.  Reacting to the murder of a Palestinian figure last month, the chief of police for the Emirate of Dubai put on a text-book show of how you gather and present evidence to make your case to the world in calling for justice.  Without calling names but merely showing the facts, forged or fake passports and incontrovertible CCTV evidence from all over Dubai, Khalfan Tamim laid out all of the details surrounding the assassination/murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh and in so doing gave the international community a methodical lesson in the rule of law.  It remains to be seen whether the international community will respond in the same measured and civilized manner that the UAE did  in making the case for the arrest of the 11 individuals.   Releasing the names, photographs and nationalities of all they say are responsible for Mabhouh’s death has forced the hands of those countries named, Ireland, Germany and the UK  to admit their  passport bearers were using phony passports, while France admitted it was “not able to confirm the nationality” of the one suspect said to have used a French passport.  Those admissions alone are enough to lead to the conclusion as Tamim correctly  has that the UAE is on the right track of the killers.  While Tamim did not accuse Israel of the murder others even some in Israeli media have certainly come to that conclusion and it’s a reasonable conclusion to make.  Israel has said repeatedly it will violate any and all international law and state sovereignty to kill its opponents, political or military, and it has been able to act on  that threat with impunity. Below are three parts of the case made by Dubai/UAE authorities.  It’s fascinating to watch and reveals the underbelly of an assassination that was this time ‘caught on tape.’

Read more of this post

France’s Fascism Rears it’s Ugly Head Again!


Twenty-first century France  has  replaced 20th century  Nazi Germany as  the European hotbed of political fascism, climbing on the backs of its Muslim population to claim this distinction much like German socialism climbed on the graves and skeletons of the European Jewish minority in the 30s and 40s.  Nationalism and secularism are the reasons given for this decision on the part of French government  to curtail the rights of a vibrant Muslim minority,  making a mockery of the French motto of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ while inciting its citizens to turn against one another based on the clothes they wear and the religion they profess.  While the tombstones of French Muslims are desecrated,  French feminists, who claim advocacy of  a woman’s right to choose, bemoan and denounce the candidacy of a French women who supports contraception and abortion rights because she chooses to wear a scarf on her hair!  The hypocrisy of the French position, so steeped in bigotry and irrational hatred have led Ilham Moussaid to point out

It is with great sadness that I watch … my life reduced to my headscarf. It is with great sadness that I hear that my personal beliefs are a danger to others while I advocate friendship, respect, tolerance, solidarity and equality for all human beings.

It would appear based on what she says above, Moussaid is more French than any of her detractors.  Touche!

Europe’s Fascist Heritage


The world has already fought two large scale wars to extricate Europe from it’s racist tendencies and there appear to be more on the horizon.  Emboldened by the Swiss vote which was initiated because the Swiss People’s Party were intimidated by the four minaret already constructed in Switzerland and hence successfully passed a referendom which bans further contruction of minarets, France and its Islamophobic president, Nicholas Sarkozy et. co has stepped up the rhetoric against Muslims in Europe warning them they must embrace Europe’s historical values and avoid “ostentation or provocation” in the practice of their religion or else lose citizenship. France’s elected officials have thrown political responsibility aside and chosen mob rule and street rhetoric to address their citizens.  With the Muslim population of France approaching or even surpassing 5 million,  they have become an easy target for the likes of racists who want to threaten and intimidate Muslims with the tacit support of France’s political leaders, and other leaders of European parties who want to make Muslims targets of their hate and vitriol.

It’s good to see that not everyone is laying down and accepting the steam roller xenophobia on display in Europe these days.  GuillaumeMorand a Swiss businessman erected a minaret on his business establishment in protest of the vote banning minarets in his country and hints there may be other acts of civil disobedience on his part in the coming days as he wants all to know the ban is not something which all in Switzerland agree. On the British Isles, Rabbis Aaron Goldstein and Hillel Athias-Robles, of the Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue have gone on record to denounce the tactics of the racist element in their country, saying

“We are writing to express our support for our Muslim friends and neighbours, especially those at Harrow Central Mosque, who are under attack from those whose only purpose is to spread hatred and fear.“We condemn outright the outrageous lies of the English Defence League and SIOE which are entirely without foundation.

“We share the desire of the Muslim community of Harrow to respect our mutual traditions, to learn from each other’s cultures and ways of life, and to live together in peace.

“The Jewish community knows all too well what happens when such poison is allowed to go unchallenged: once hatred and intolerance are allowed to spread we all become its victims. “The whole community must stand together against those that seek to divide us.”

‘Those that seek to divide us’ sound so much like Sarkozy and the leaders of parties like SVP which generate measures designed to return Europe to the days of fascism and with it the rest of the world. In order to stop that eventuality it will take courage and a strong stand by the likes of rabbis Goldstein and Robbles and Monsieur Morand.  We here at Miscellany101 join them in denouncing the hate with a strong statement.  Mr. Sarkozy, stop spreading hate and fear.

Blame the victim


The French government has come out four square against the rights of French Muslims to decide for themselves how they want to express their religious beliefs on the grounds that France is a secular society.  That secularism should apply to all religious expression, so goes the French rationale and one wonders why at the first hint of France’s Islamophobic response that anyone wouldn’t think that tendency to ban any and all religious  expression would be the natural outgrowth?!  For those who silently cheered on the sidelines as Muslims were targeted the full weight and oppression of the state is headed to a religious community near you, just don’t blame the Muslims.

The backlash against Muslims in France demanding religious rights in the public sphere has also hit Jews, who feel that their own, similar requests are being treated increasingly negatively.

“Things have got worse since more and more Muslims started pushing demands, sometimes with political motives. Now we’re compared to assertive pushy militants and our own requests are denied outright,” said Marc Djebali, vice president of the Jewish community of Sarcelles, a suburb north of Paris. “Now officials tell me: ‘we can’t accept this, this is a secular state’.”

In America we call that, ‘chickens coming home to roost’. Of course Jewish concerns for their religious expression should be honored just as Muslim expression or any other religious group that lives in what’s supposedly a free society as France claims to be; otherwise no faith can or should supersede any other faith, and that means Jewish women will either have to wear state approved swim wear or not swim at all, and Jewish men will have to doff their yarmulkes just as Muslim women do their hijab. Instead of blaming a politically inclined Muslim movement, perhaps French Jews should blame their tacit support for French racism against Muslims which is now slowly headed their way as well. Have French Jews forgotten how racism fueled a world war in the heart of Europe only a few short years ago? Do they think the same ingredients of racism, lies, distortions xenophobia today won’t produce the same results, or do they think they are now immune from the dangers of anti-semitism?  Que sera, sera.

Muslims of conscious should avoid vacationing in Europe


bikiniI think it should go further than that, i.e. Muslim countries shouldn’t sell their oil to places which display such a vehemently anti-Islamic attitude towards them, and especially women who wear hijab, but if the rich oil drenched citizens of the oil producing states stop going there, that would be a start.  There’s simply too much drama, and politics, around the issue of women’s clothing…more than anything I’ve seen or heard of coming from the Middle East where bikini clad women frolick on the beaches of Muslim countries under the lustful stares of all who dare watch.  Or maybe it’s something to do with water and how whenever certain people approach water their appearance there just makes others a little stark raving mad.  Judging by the looks of the swimsuit worn by Carol a Muslim mother from France, it doesn’t seem so provocative or disruptive enough to cause an entire country to go crazy, but it has, and it’s leader, a known abuser and user of women, has gone on the offensive, proclaiming such attire has no place in France and is ‘a symbol of subservience that suppresses women’s identities and turns them into “prisoners behind a screen.”‘  I wasn’t aware Muslim women had asked Monsieur Sarkozy to be their spokesperson, but he has taken up that role and stuck his foot in his mouth by doing so.  Now that’s not to say there aren’t  many Muslims who abuse this issue of apparel, but when a grown, mature, woman decides she wants to wear a certain type of clothing which at the time of that decision is not illegal, then the only one who’s suppressing her “identity” is the one who prohibits her from her own self-expression…….i.e. Sarkozy’s ilk, and he has a lot of company.  Mr. Sarkozy does a much better job of cutting off from all social life Muslim women who want to practice their religion in France than any article of clothing they could possibly wear, when he tries to make that expression illegal under the law or unwelcome on French soil.  The greatest deprivation  of all identity comes in the pronouncement that once legal acts of religion are now illegal and unwelcome.  I hope all Muslims who like their summer vacations in nice temperate climates where things are green and people who may look different are welcomed would give pause and think of going to other places than the Islamophobic regions of Europe where politicians are reliving centuries old battles they simply can’t seem to forget. Avoid France; you are not wanted there!

As for the Sarkozys of the world, I offer up this explanation from  independent minded Muslim women, who seem to me to have a pretty good handle on the age old platitudes surrounding Muslim women attire.  Hey Sarkozy, listen up!

UPDATE

For those Muslims, men and women who like swimming, may I suggest heading down under…..Australia, where a Muslim woman can look like her similarly clad Muslim female life guard and even have a chance of being rescued should she need it as opposed to being left to her own devices should she venture into French or Dutch waters.