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!

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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.