Just because I haven’t written in a while doesn’t mean nothing is going on


Take this bit of news which must really upset the Orientalists bent on emasculating the once great Ottoman Empire.  Turkey has been agitating for some time to become a part of the European Union and Europe has succeeded in keeping them out based on the hypocritical notions that any country interested in joining the E.U. should’ unconditionally harmonize with E.U. values, effectively uphold fundamental principles, such as the rule of law, democracy, respect of international humanitarian law, the human rights declarations, minority rights, political asylum rights and civil liberties.’  Two countries heavily invested in denying Turkey entry, Germany and France, have the biggest problems with several of the above stated principles; just ask France’s Muslim and Germany’s Turks, but that’s neither here nor there. What Turkey has done is become another voice in the legitimization of opposition to Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, something which Israel considers an existential threat.Turkish ship Mavi Marmara

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that any formal reconciliation between Turkey and Israel is impossible without the lifting of the siege on Gaza.

The comments come in spite of frequent announcements from Turkish and Israeli officials that the two countries were only weeks away from reconciliation.

“What happens in Gaza is unacceptable, the occupation by Israel must end,” said Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman adding that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza needed to be addressed.

……..he added that on Monday that the two countries “do not agree 100 percent,” and that there were “still certain hurdles we must overcome.”

Israel and Turkey used be two of the staunchest allies in the Middle East with the former being the first Muslim-majority country to recognise Israel in 1949.

However, the killing of nine Turkish citizens on board the Mavi Marmara ship, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza, in 2010 led to the severing of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

‘Nuff said??

prayingI ran across something that has an historical perspective for African-Americans and African-American Muslims as it deals with Malik Shabazz, aka Malcolm X. Many have said as long as Shabazz dealt with the very narrow minded and limited racism of the Nation of Islam and its pseudo religious bent he was harmless.  After all America is a country of racists, many far more virulent and oppressive than anything offered by Shabazz or his tutor Elijah Muhammad but when he left that movement and started identifying with the larger international Muslim movement the theory goes he was far more potent and dangerous. Shabazz seems to discount that notion in his own words below but no doubt his ability to attract listeners and perhaps even followers to his message meant he became a threat to more than one group of people. In the months before his death he undertook a tour of the Muslim world going to Saudi Arabia for hajj and on to other predominantly Muslim countries.  One stop he made and where the photo above was taken was to Geneva, Switzerland where he met with members of the nascent Muslim Brotherhood movement who wanted to make sure of Shabazz’s conversion to Islam.  This is what came out of that encounter

Taken from Al-Muslimoon Magazine, February, 1965

note – This set of responses to written questions from the Arabic-language monthly Al-Muslimoon, published by the Islamic Center in Geneva, Switzerland, is the last record of Malcolm’s thinking. He wrote most of the responses the night of the fire-bombing of his home and wrote the last two as he sat in a Manhattan hotel the night before his death.

AL-MUSLIMOON: The Black Muslim Movement is one of the most controversial movements in the United States. Having been for a considerable period [of time] its main organizer and most prominent spokesman, could you kindly give us some concise firsthand picture of the background of this movement, its history, its main ethics and its actual strength?

MALCOLM X: Elijah Muhammad allowed himself to become insanely jealous of my own popularity, which went even beyond his own followers and into the non-Muslim community, while his own prestige and influence was limited largely among his immediate followers. While I was still in the movement and blind to his faults by my own uncompromising faith in him, I always thought the jealousy and envy which I saw — constant signs of was stemming mainly and only from his immediate family, and it was quite shocking to me whenever members of his own family would warn me that it was their father (Elijah Muhammad himself) who had become almost insane with jealousy.

When Elijah learned that his son Wallace had told me how his father had seduced his teenage secretaries (by telling them that he was the prophet Muhammad, and making each of them think she was to be his favorite and most beautiful wife Aisha) Elijah feared that my position of influence in the movement was a threat to him and his other children who were now controlling the movement and benefiting from its wealth. Because they feared my popularity with the rank-and-file Muslims, they were careful about any immediate or open move to curtail my authority without good cause, so they patiently waited until they felt that my statement about the late President Kennedy’s assassination would give them the proper public support in any kind of action they’d take to curtail or remove me.

At the time they announced I was to be suspended and silenced for ninety days, they had already set in motion the machinery to have me completely ousted from the movement, and Elijah Muhammad himself had already given the order to have me killed because he feared I would expose to his followers the secret of his extreme immorality.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Should these differences be of a basically ethical nature and on essential matters of faith? What, in your opinion, are the prospects of radical reform within Elijah Muhammad’s followers now or in the future?

MALCOLM X: No, Elijah Muhammad himself will never change. At least I doubt it. He’s too old, dogmatic, and has already gone too far in teaching that he is a greater prophet than Muhammad ibn Abdullah. He is too proud to confess to his followers now that he has deliberately taught them falsehood. But as his well-meaning followers become exposed to the true religion of Islam, they themselves will leave him and practice Islam as it should be. This is why it is so important for centers to be established immediately where true Islam can be taught. And these centers should be located at this time primarily in Black communities, because at this particular time the American Blacks are the ones showing the most interest in [the] true religion.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Have any of Elijah Muhammad’s followers left the movement with you, and do you think that your breakaway from the movement has affected its main body in any considerable way?

MALCOLM X: Yes, many of Elijah’s followers could not go along with his present immorality, and this opened their eyes to the other falsities of his doctrine. But we have not been able to regroup and reorganize them as we should. It takes finance, and we left all treasuries and properties with Elijah, and he uses this wealth that we amassed for him to fight us and keep us from getting organized. He is fanatically opposed to American Negroes hearing true Islam, and has ordered his own well meaning followers to cripple or kill anyone of his followers who wants to leave him to follow true Islam. He fears that true Islam will expose and destroy the power of his false teachings.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Do you plan to just stop at voicing your opposition against Elijah Muhammad and his group or do you have any course of action in mind towards establishing some new organization in the field? If so, on what basis and for what specific near or distant goals?

MALCOLM X: With what little finance we could raise, we have founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc., with headquarters here in Harlem. Our sole interest is to help undo the distorted image [that] we have helped spread about Islam. Our mosque also is for those who want to learn how to live the life of a true Muslim.

However, since we live as Black Americans in a white racist society, we have established another organization which is non-religious, known as the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), and which is designed to unite all Black Americans regardless of their religious affiliation into a group that can fight against American racism and the economic, political, and social evils that stem from white racism here in this American society. With the Muslim Mosque we are teaching our people a better way of life, and with the OAAU we are fighting on an even broader level for complete respect and recognition as human beings for all Black Americans, and we are ready and willing to use any means necessary to see that this goal is reached.

AL-MUSLIMOON: What have you been actually doing since you broke away from Elijah Muhammad’s movement?

MALCOLM X: I have traveled to the Middle East and Africa twice since leaving Elijah Muhammad in March of 1964, mainly to get a better understanding of Islam and the African countries, and in turn to give the Muslim world a better understanding of problems facing those of us here in America who are trying to become Muslims. Also, in Africa to give our people there a better understanding of the problems confronting Black Americans in our struggle for human rights.

AL-MUSLIMOON: Is it true that even after your breakaway from Elijah Muhammad you still hold the Black color as a main base and dogma for your drive under the banner of liberation in the United States? How could a man of your spirit, intellect, and worldwide outlook fail to see in Islam its main characteristic, from its earliest days, as a message that confirms beyond doubt the ethnological oneness and quality of all races, thus striking at the very root of the monstrosity of racial discrimination. Endless are the texts of the Qu’ran (Koran) and prophetic sayings to this effect and nothing would testify to that more than the historic fact that heterogeneous races, nations, and linguistic entities have always mingled peacefully in the homeland.

MALCOLM X: As a Black American I do feel that my first responsibility is to my twenty-two million fellow Black Americans who suffer the same indignities because of their color as I do. I don’t believe my own personal problem is ever solved until the problem is solved for all twenty-two million of us.

Much to my dismay, until now, the Muslim world has seemed to ignore the problem of the Black American, and most Muslims who come here from the Muslim world have concentrated more effort in trying to convert white Americans than Black Americans……

AL-MUSLIMOON: Africa seems to have captured most of your attention and eager concern. Why? And now that you have visited almost every part of it, where do you think Islam actually stands? And what, in your opinion, could be done to save it from both the brainlessness of many, or rather most of those who are considered to be the champions of its cause, and from the malicious, resourceful alliance of Zionism, atheism, and religious fanaticism against Islam?

MALCOLM X: I regard Africa as my fatherland. I am primarily interested in seeing it become completely free of outside political and economic influence that has dominated and exploited it. Africa, because of its strategic position, faces a real crisis. The colonial vultures have no intention of giving it up without a fight. Their chief weapon is still “divide and conquer.” In East Africa there is a strong anti-Asian feeling being nourished among the Africans. In West Africa there is a strong anti-Arab feeling. Where there are Arabs or Asians there is a strong anti-Muslim feeling.

These hostilities are not initiated by the above-mentioned people who are involved. They have nothing to benefit from fighting among themselves at this point. Those who benefit most are the former colonial masters who have now supplanted the hated colonialism and imperialism with Zionism. The Zionists have outstripped all other interest groups in the present struggle for our mother continent. They use such a benevolent, philanthropic approach that it is quite difficult for their victims to see through their schemes. Zionism is even more dangerous than communism because it is made more acceptable and is thus more destructively effective.

Since the Arab image is almost inseparable from the image of Islam, the Arab world has a multiple responsibility that it must live up to. Since Islam is a religion of brotherhood and unity those who take the lead in expounding this religion are duty-bound to set the highest example of brotherhood and unity. It is imperative that Cairo and Mecca (the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs and the Muslim World League) have a religious “summit” conference and show a greater degree of concern and responsibility for the present plight of the Muslim world, or other forces will rise up in this present generation of young, forward-thinking Muslims and the “power centers” will be taken from the hands of those that they are now in and placed elsewhere. Allah can easily do this.

Indeed.

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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

The Government, Guns and Drugs


drugsI was once asked if I ever sold drugs; after getting over the initial shock of the question and realizing it was being asked by someone not even remotely interested in his own question I laid down the hammer and told him I considered selling drugs an act of treason and therefore punishable by death.  It’s treasonous I told the young man because the proliferation of drugs in a community is meant to render that group of people inert to the issues facing our country and disinterested in engaging in them.  Using drugs or people who peddle them are no better than people who practice slavery I said. My reply fell on deaf ears.

I was aware of the claims made by Gary Webb in  his “Dark Alliance” newspaper series that the US government has had a hand in the proliferation of drugs in the African-American community and that its intent was pretty much as I described to my interlocutor to destroy the black community.  When Webb first printed his articles he was driven to suicide but we all know there was merit to his assertions.  Indeed some preceded Webb in saying the same things.  The US government introduces drugs into a segment of the population, reaps the financial rewards thereof, the social advantages of making an entire population static non participants in their political, economic, social, or educational future. The existence of the government’s product necessitates government intervention, bureaucracy in the form of all the various agencies that must be employed to fight the war on drugs thereby legitimizing government itself.  A pretty neat slight of hand but only for government…for the people who are preyed upon by government it means their literal destruction or at least reduction to a comatose state where they are no longer relevant. Which brings me to Israel and Palestine.

I literally bolted out of my chair when I heard the Democracy Now interview last week with Budour Hassan talking about the situation in one of the refugee camps, Shuafat refugee camp and what goes on there.  She said this

……Subhi Abu Khalifa lives in Shuafat refugee camp, which is literally a ghetto, which the Israeli occupation since the 1970s has tried to crush with all means possible, turning it into a poverty hub, turning—putting drugs in the camp, smuggling arms to some of the residents. So they’ve tried to do everything in the camp, not just to destroy the community there, but to also prevent this camp from being active in the Palestinian resistance movement.

I thought finally, the US has taught Israel a thing or two about oppression…..America has at least at some point in the relationship between Israel and the US been a leader, not a follower of the Israeli agenda.  Everything about the US-Israel relationship has been completely and utterly one sided.  America has been the sole servant to Israeli interests even when they contradicted our own.  Now I had in front of me an example where Israel was doing the very same things to Palestinians living in the squalor of their Israeli imposed existence with the same diet of drugs and guns that have destroyed African-American communities being used to wipe out Palestinians as well.  In the interest of fairness it must be said Americans have resumed following Israel by parroting extra judicial killings of oppressed people without repercussion; #blacklivesmatter is an outgrowth of that but Israel has the advantage of looking at how that deadly cocktail of drugs and guns can benefit government in many ways and we can say they learned that from us.  #AmericanExceptionalism!

This is what Ramadan looks like around the world


BuzzFeed produced an excellent, graphically pleasing look at Ramadan at places around the world.  I wish they had posted a picture of American Muslims celebrating Ramadan, but nevertheless here’s their piece

TURKEY

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

Thousands of Turkish people break their fasting at the Blue Mosque square in Istanbul, during the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because it is during that month that tradition says the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The fast is one of the five main religious obligations under Islam. Ozan Kose / Getty Images

INDONESIA

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

Indonesians Muslims pray in the first Tarawih as Muslims begin fasting for Ramadan at Al-Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images

CHINA

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

Muslims pray after breaking their fast on the first day of Ramadan, the muslim holy month, at a mosque in Beijing. China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open. Greg Baker / AFP / Getty Images

ENGLAND

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England. Rob Stothard / Getty Images

Men carry out Wudu, a washing procedure in preparation for prayer, at the East London Mosque before the first Friday prayers of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in London, England.  Rob Stothard / Getty Images

JERUSALEM

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers.  Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

Palestinian Muslim worshipers pray outside the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem during the first Friday prayer of the holy month of Ramadan. Israel announced it was relaxing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians to and from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Men aged over 40 and women of all ages from the West Bank will be able to pray at the Israeli-controlled holy site, and 800 people from the Gaza Strip will be allowed to attend Friday prayers. Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images

KENYA

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya.  Khalil Senosi / AP

Kenyan Muslim men pray on the first Friday of Ramadan, at Jamia mosque in Nairobi, Kenya. Khalil Senosi / AP

PATTANI

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

Thai Muslim women pray at the Pattani Central Mosque to mark the holy month of Ramadan in Pattani. Tuwaedaniya Meringing / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore. Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Lahore.
Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

INDIA

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad.  Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

Indian Muslim boys offer prayers prior to breaking their fast on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Noah Seelam / AFP / Getty Images

AFGHANISTAN

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

Afghan children study the Quran during first day of the month of Ramadan at a mosque in Jalalabad.
Noorullah Shirzada / AFP / Getty Images

MALAYSIA

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur. Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

A Malaysian Muslim arrives to offer prayers on the first Friday of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan in Kuala Lumpur.
Manan Vatsyayana / AFP / Getty Images

BANGLADESH

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka. Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

Bangladeshi street vendors prepare Iftar food for breaking the daytime fast on the first day of Ramadan, the holy fasting month of Islam, at a traditional bazaar in the old part of Dhaka.
Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

SRINAGAR

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar. Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

Kashmiri Muslim women are accompanied by a child as they pray during the first day of the month of Ramadan, at the Shah-i-Hamdaan shrine in Srinagar.
Tauseef Mustafa / AFP / Getty Images

PHILLIPINES

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila. Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

Filipino Muslims take part in prayers at the Golden Mosque in Manila.
Jay Directo / AFP / Getty Images

LEBANON

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon. Ali Hashisho / Reuters

A vendor carries traditional sweets called ‘Qatayef’ during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Sidon’s Old City in southern Lebanon.
Ali Hashisho / Reuters

GAZA

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

Blind and visually impaired Palestinian girls read the Braille version of the Qur’an during a Qur’an memorization class at the main center of Dar al-Quran Society, on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City. Thousands of Palestinians, among them blind and visually impaired students, are taking lessons which are sponsored by the Muslim organization Dar al-Quran Society. The society teaches people the right recitation of the Muslim holy book and helps them memorize the whole Qur’an, directors in the organization said.
Suhaib Salem / Reuters

IRAQ

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq. Nabil Al-jurani / AP

Iraqi Muslim men gather, on the roof of Imam Ali Mosque, waiting to see the crescent moon marking the beginning of Ramadan, at sunset in Basra, Iraq.
Nabil Al-jurani / AP

BOSNIA

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town. Amel Emric / AP

Bosnian Muslims offer a prayer during late night prayer for upcoming holy month of Ramadan, inside memorial room for Srebrenica massacre victims, at the memorial center Potocari, northeast of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Family members of the Srebrenica victims killed in July, 1995, will mark the first night of Ramadan at the memorial center Potocari, in front of the graves of killed Muslims from this small Bosnian town.
Amel Emric / AP 

MYANMAR

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar. Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

Muslims pray on the first day of Ramadan at a mosque in Taunggyi capital city of Shan State, Myanmar.
Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

SINGAPORE

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

Bangladeshi workers prepare to break fast during the holy month of Ramadan at a makeshift mosque near their dormitory in Singapore. Edgar Su / Reuters

GAZA

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City. Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

A family shares in a pre-dawn Suhoor meal in Gaza City.
Facebook: ShehabAgency.MainPage

TUNISIA

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia. Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

A vendor displays his dates on the first day of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, in a market downtown in Tunis, Tunisia.
Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

ITALY

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

Migrants pray for the start of Ramadan as they gather at the French border hoping to enter the country in Ventimiglia, Italy. A group of around 200 migrants, mostly from Libya, Sudan and Eritrea, were left stranded at the border after French police refused them entry to the country. Patrick Aventurier / Getty Images

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

Pakistani Muslims perform a special “Taraweeh” evening prayer on the first day of Ramadan at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

NEPAL

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu. Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

Nepalese Muslims offer the first Friday prayers of Ramadan at The Kashmiri Mosque in Kathmandu.
Prakash Mathema / Getty Images

EGYPT

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt. Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

People read the Qur’an at a mosque during the first day of Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt.
Asmaa Waguih / Reuters

Terror in Chapel Hill, NC


From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

From left 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19

The lives of three Muslims living in Chapel Hill were taken early last week by someone it was claimed was angry about parking spaces in the community the victims and the killer shared but in reality has turned into a debate whether the murder was religiously motivated.  Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha his wife and her sister Razan Abu-Salha were each shot, some reports have said, execution style in the head in their residence by Craig Stephen Hicks also of Chapel Hill.

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

46 year old Craig Stephen Hicks

Shortly after killing the three, Hicks turned himself into Chapel Hill police and no other person has been sought in connection with this crime.  Hicks had been known for causing problems with his neighbors but was also a self avowed atheist, some would have you believe vehemently so, who disliked all religions and made his displeasure known on his Facebook page. In one of his posts he said,  ‘I hate Islam just as much as christianity, but they have the right to worship in this country just as much as any others do’ giving one the impression he was tolerant of Muslims and Christians but it was that hatred of Islam that drove him to kill Barakat and the two Abu-Salha sisters.   A lot of anger has risen in Muslim communities across America about the absence of the term “terrorist” to describe Hicks’ actions.  In a time when violence by so-called Muslims, who some would say are marginally Muslim at best, are quickly and universally called terrorists and have their actions condemned as such, Muslims decried the reticence of media to do the same for this crime.  the 3's silhouetteIt appears, regardless of the label given Hicks or his crime, people of all faiths and colors expressed their sorrow and revulsion for the murders while the district attorney charged Hicks with three counts of 1st degree murder which is a capital offense in the state of North Carolina.  Whether the office will seek the death penalty remains to be seen, but it is applicable for the charge.  However, there is still that nagging issue of whether Hicks was motivated by hate in the killings; the families of the victims have insisted as have others in the Muslim community that the victims’ death were racially motivated and the FBI has said it’s conducting an investigation to determine if that’s the case.  parking
The larger American community however, seems to take umbrage at the notion that Hicks was inspired by hate, instead clinging to the narrative put forth by the police the night of the killing that it was a neighborly dispute over parking spaces that drove Hicks over the edge.  At a time when news about Islam is overwhelmingly negative and spoken of in terms of violence and terrorism by Muslims against others most Americans cannot conceive of themselves as terrorists. Even at the beginning of Obama’s first term in office when Homeland Security talked about the threat of homegrown terrorism unrelated to Islam there was so much opposition to the notion such an idea existed that the Department was forced to

“step(ped) back for the past two years from conducting its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremism, according to current and former department officials, even though law enforcement and civil rights experts have warned of rising extremist threats.

The department has cut the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups, the officials and others said.

The decision to reduce the department’s role was provoked by conservative criticism”

It is entirely likely it is the same sentiment that causes many people including those in the media and law enforcement not to label this act as terrorism but a look at the facts may reveal otherwise.

Hicks stated on his Facebook account he “hated Islam”; indeed some of his posts seem to be imaginary conversations he is having with his victims:

Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny your right to believe whatever you’d like; but I have the right to point out its ignorant and dangerous for as long as your baseless superstitions keep killing people

When it comes to insults, your religion started this, not me. If your religion kept its big mouth shut, so would I

Hicks’ adult daughter “disowned” him because of, as she put it, his disrespect for people of other faiths. The victims were aware of Hicks’ complaints in the community and made sure to avoid the parking spaces he contested even to the point of sending detailed maps and instructions to friends visiting them of where they could park and where not to.  The towing company responsible for the compound refused to take Hicks’ calls any more because he was so persistent and annoying and finally on the day of the murders the disputed parking places were empty, there were no cars parked there to cause Hicks to loose it and kill.

shahadaClearly the victims were Muslims, the two sisters wore clothing indicative of their faith and thus much more easy to discern as opposed to others who may or may not be of a particular religious persuasion; they were easy targets for him.  The couple, in their brief life together, had complained to family and friends of Hicks’ intimidating behavior, flashing his handgun at them whenever he spoke to them about parking in the complex. And speaking of handguns, and while they are a part of the American fabric, Hicks had his fair share and didn’t mind letting people know.  Neighbors were aware he carried a gun and the victims clearly felt threatened by him. Indeed, some might say Hicks fit the profile of the type Homeland Security mentioned in their analysis of homespun terrorism that raised so much ire among the Right. While some may say this act of cold blooded murder was done by the neighborhood curmudgeon over parking spaces the motivation behind it was far more sinister and hate filled than that.  Hicks’ neighbors, perhaps ALL of them living in the complex did everything they could to ameliorate his concerns until those concerns became excessive, vengeful, murderous and focused on the three Muslim victims.

However something must be said about who were these three young people so brutally slain by Hicks. They were all model citizens of this country AND Muslim. They excelled in their academic careers, the husband Deah was studying at UNC’s School of Dentistry soon to be joined there by his wife and the sister Razan Abu-Salha was a student at NC State.  That university has gone on to establish a scholarship in their name because

“Deah, Yusor and Razan exemplified the best of N.C. State and will forever serve as role models for our student body, (NCSU Chancelor Randy) Woodson said in a statement. Each was not only an outstanding student, but individually and as a family lived their lives bringing joy to others, helping those in need and making the world a better place.

They did that….making a world a better place….by feeding the homeless in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina and were involved in building an interfaith Habitat for Humanity home in Wake County. At the time of his death, Deah Barakat was trying to raise $20,000 through a YouCaring.com website (nando.com/xk) to pay for a trip to Turkey to provide dental care for Syrian refugees a dangerous proposition in today’s times.  They were fully engaged in American society as Americans and as Muslims and they were the best this country has to offer but were killed because of the hatred Hicks had towards Muslims who he felt started something with him.  Let’s not let media off the hook.  Today’s America is full of venomous hatred that permeates the ‘net and airwaves.  Every breath one takes they inhale America’s dislike for Muslims and Islam. Even the President of the United States gets called on the carpet for not quickly enough using the word “terrorist” to describe any act of violence against Americans that may happen at the hands of brown skinned people with funny sounding names.  Hicks’ antennae were acutely tuned to this atmosphere; he was conditioned to act the only way America knows how, with violent rage.  Media refuses to call him on it because he doesn’t fit the profile just like homespun extremism is not a narrative we are willing to entertain as a Nation.  As a result three of our brightest are dead. Hear what Yusor AbuSalha had to say about her short life as she talks to her former teacher here.  America is less a country because these three bright, intelligent people are no longer with us.

Muslim, the new black


I hope Muslim Americans study very well American history, because it’s about to repeat itself and Muslims will find themselves having to fight the same battles of equality fought by their African-American, Native-American, Asian American and Spanish speaking American brothers and sisters who have fought the entire length of this country’s existence.  What’s even more ironic is this fight is symbolically starting on the day after the country’s observance of Martin Luther King day who’s being honored because he gave his life with a bullet to the brain fighting for the rights of people of color to equality.  Everybody loves to quote Dr. King and memorialize him while at the same time completely  ignoring his calls for racial human rights and equality.  America is determined to go back down the road of bigotry and xenophobia and it has targeted its Muslim citizens.

It’s not an issue of who is Muslim…..they come in all shapes, sizes and colors…..it’s Islam and Muslims that many in America have set their sights on.  No where was that more apparent than during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  A blogger at RH Reality Check was insightful enough to observe the Senate chamber’s reaction to a portion of Obama’s address.  The word “applause” appears at the points in his speech where members of Congress reacted positively to what the Prez said by clapping/applauding.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, [applause] and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained [applause]. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world [applause]. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslimsthe vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace[SILENCE]. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender [applause]. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer [applause].

However, no one in Congress, Democrat or Republican seems to think that Muslims are interested in peace and Obama’s remarks fell flat on the deaf ears of America’s lawmakers.  That doesn’t bode well for America’s Muslims.  To add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner unilaterally and unbeknownst to the White House invited Israel’s warmonger Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Iran and radical Islam…..which means Islam, which means Muslims, all Muslims those who are criminal and deranged beyond any hope as well as those who are law abiding contributing members to their societies……the ones Obama was referring to in his SOTU. Of course, Netanyahu has to demonize Muslims because he too is trying to exterminate them and he wants our help doing so….not that we’ve done very much to stop him, we just haven’t hastened his efforts.

Certainly all the talk about Islamophobia and the hysteria surrounding it takes place in an atmosphere generated by the tragedy in Paris, France surrounding the Charlie Habdo cartoons, and the demonstrations taking place in Germany and the geopolitics of the larger Middle East and it seems America is doomed to repeat its history of enslaving and persecuting a group of people based solely on an affiliation America does not like and it would appear most members of Congress have no problem with that.  This then is a part of our Nation’s character….it revels in xenophobia…..it embellishes it, embraces it, perpetuates it (FoxNews)  and it wants to legalize it, return America to it’s segregationist past, glory.  It won’t even stop at separate but equal, it wants to go beyond that to criminalize and expel.  African-Americans, some living today….have seen this propensity America has to its dark side; Asian-Americans and Native-Americans have too.  Muslim Americans might want to talk to them about how they survived the American juggernaut…..or at the very least, study and learn American history in order to prepare themselves.

How Israel Silences Dissent


From the New York Times op ed section.

On July 12, four days after the latest war in Gaza began, hundreds of Israelis gathered in central Tel Aviv to protest the killing of civilians on both sides and call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. They chanted, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”

Hamas had warned that it would fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel after 9 p.m., and it did.

But the injuries suffered in Tel Aviv that night stemmed not from rocket fire but from a premeditated assault by a group of extremist Israeli Jews. Chanting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists,” they attacked protesters with clubs. Although several demonstrators were beaten and required medical attention, the police made no arrests.

The same thing happened at another antiwar protest in Haifa a week later; this time, the victims included the city’s deputy mayor, Suhail Assad, and his son. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no statement condemning the violence, even though he had previously stated his primary concern was the safety of Israeli citizens.

The vilification of the few Israelis who don’t subscribe to right-wing doctrine is not new. Similar acts of incitement occurred before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. But now they have multiplied, escalated and spread.

In July, the veteran Israeli actress Gila Almagor performed at Tel Aviv’s Habima Theater even though she had received threats that she would be murdered on stage. In an interview in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot a few days earlier, she had expressed feeling ashamed after a 16-year old Palestinian, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by Jewish extremists.

In an interview during the Gaza war, the popular comedian Orna Banai said she felt terrible that Palestinian women and children were being killed — she was subsequently fired from her position as spokeswoman for an Israeli cruise ship operator. And Haaretz hired bodyguards for its columnist Gideon Levy after he wrote an article criticizing Israeli Air Force pilots.

The aggressive silencing of anyone who voices disapproval of Israeli policies or expresses empathy with Palestinians is the latest manifestation of an us-versus-them mentality that has been simmering for decades. It is based on the narrative that Palestinians are enemies who threaten Jewish sovereignty and are solely to blame for the failure to achieve peace. The Israeli peace camp — which remains obsessively focused on stopping settlement expansion and pursuing the ever-elusive two-state solution while ignoring Israel’s failure to separate religion and state and guarantee equal rights for Arab citizens — has been incapable of challenging this mentality.

Israeli society has been unable and unwilling to overcome an exclusivist ethno-religious nationalism that privileges Jewish citizens and is represented politically by the religious settler movement and the increasingly conservative secular right. Israel’s liberal, progressive forces remain weak in the face of a robust economy that profits from occupation while international inaction reinforces the status quo. In their attempt to juggle being both Jewish and democratic, most Israelis are choosing the former at the expense of the latter.

Israel has never, for example, genuinely addressed the fact that non-Jewish Arabs who generally identify as Palestinian account for about 20 percent of the population (this excludes the approximately three million Palestinians living under Israel’s control in East Jerusalem and the West Bank). Israel has also never clearly defined its borders, preferring to keep them vague and porous. Nor has it defined what it means to be “Israeli,” as distinct from being “Jewish,” leaving a vacuum that has been filled by nationalist and religious ideologues.

This has allowed the us-versus-them mentality to bleed into Israeli Jewish society. “Us” no longer refers to any Jewish citizen, and “them” to any Palestinian. Now, “us” means all those who defend the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, including many Christian evangelicals and Republicans in America. And “them” means anyone who tries to challenge that status quo, whether a rabbi, a dissenting Israeli soldier or the president of the United States.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a shock. For most of Israel’s existence, the majority of Israelis have allowed the state, in the name of Jewish sovereignty and security, to violate Palestinians’ basic human rights — including access to water and the freedom of movement and assembly. The state has killed unarmed protesters and then failed to carry out investigations; it has allowed settlers and soldiers to act with impunity; and it has systematically discriminated against non-Jewish citizens. After so many years of repressing those who stand in the way, the transition to targeting “one of your own” isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of human rights who are branded as enemies.

Zeev Sternhell, a political scientist and an expert on fascism, believes that “radical nationalism” and the “erosion of Enlightenment values” have reached new heights in Israel. “To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason,” he told Haaretz. Mr. Sternhell has experienced Jewish extremist violence firsthand; in 2008, a settler planted a bomb in his home that wounded him.

Israelis increasingly seem unwilling to listen to criticism, even when it comes from within their own family. Not only are they not willing to listen, they are trying to silence it before it can even be voiced. With a family like that, I would rather be considered one of “them.”