Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News & Views, March 2011
Islamophobia in the US:
News Briefs, March 7, 2011
Verse: Speak in a Kindly Manner
Mom: Anti-Muslim Mob 'Terrified' My Kids (Salon)
Anti-Muslim Videos Spark Anger
The Ugly Face of Islamophobia in California
Gaffney, Jones Fight for Soul of Anti-Sharia Movement (Video)
Tenn. Muslim Challenges Smears of Islam at Tea Party Event
Legislation Would Ban Islamic Law in Alabama Courts
White Supremacist Behind GOP's Anti-Sharia Law Crusade
Video: Muslim Who Found FBI's GPS Device on Car Files Suit (CAIR)
Islam Op-Ed: Peter King's Keystone Kops Hearing on Muslims
CAIR: Muslims Step Up Activism Ahead of Hearings (CNN)
Video Report: Meet Peter King -- Islamophobe
VERSE OF THE DAY: SPEAK IN A KINDLY MANNER - TOP
"Tell My servants that they should speak in the most kindly manner (to those who do not share their beliefs): For Satan is always ready to stir up discord between humans."
The Holy Quran, 17:53
MOM: ANTI-MUSLIM MOB 'TERRIFIED' MY KIDS - TOP Justin Elliott, Salon.com, 3/4/11
By now, there's a good chance you've seen a video rocketing around the Web of anti-Muslim protesters screaming at families entering an Islamic charity event in Orange County last month. One of the most striking parts of the scene is protesters continuing to shout "go home" and "Muhammed was a pervert!" even as young children walk by with their parents. [Watch it here.]
On Thursday night, I talked to one of those parents, Orange County resident Nusrap Kureishy, who had to walk through the gauntlet of protesters with her three children. Kureishy, who is originally from India but has lived in the U.S. for many years, has a 10-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old son, and a 2-and-a-half-year-old son. The parking area for the event, which was sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America [ICNA], was a bit of a walk from the entrance to the community center -- and a valet service hired by ICNA backed out when its employees saw the angry protesters.
Kureishy, who has been involved with ICNA programs for Haiti relief and foster care, described what it was like to walk by the protesters:
"My daughter was so frightened that she just didn't say anything. She was really terrified because she did realize that these people were against us. As soon as we got out of the car, people started taking pictures and started shouting, there was so much noise," she says. "My 2-and-a-half-year-old boy who was sleeping got up and started crying."
Protesters were shouting, "Go back home." Says Kureishy: "I just thought, 'If you belong to America, then we belong to America as much as you do.'"
She describes her daughter as "traumatized." When they got inside, Kureishy had to sit her down and talk to her. "I just said, 'It's OK, and these people are not going to hurt you.'" They put down the blinds inside so the children would not have to see the protesters. (More)
ANTI-MUSLIM VIDEOS SPARK ANGER; PRO-MUSLIM RALLY PLANNED FOR MARCH 6 - TOP By Melissa Bell, Washington Post, 3/4/11
A video compiled by the Council on American-Islamic Relations has sparked anger across the Internet. Recorded a month ago, it shows an angry, vitriolic protest directed at a group of Muslim-Americans gathering for a fundraiser.
The Muslim group, Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA, said it was trying to raise $350,000 to start social programs establishing women's shelters and fighting hunger and homelessness in the area, according to the Orange County Register.
In the video, protesters are seen waving flag, shouting, "Go back home," and cursing at women and young children trying to pass.
The video shows Deborah Pauly, an Orange County councilwoman, saying, "I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise." ...
With the videos swirling around the Internet, another rally is getting attention: the "I am Muslim, Too" rally planned for March 6 in Times Square in New York City. The rally was not planned in response to the videos, but rather to protest the upcoming congressional hearings.
"We're concerned the hearings will send the wrong message and alienate American Muslims instead of partnering with them, potentially putting their lives at risk by inciting fear and enmity," Russell Simmons, chairman of RUSH Communications told the Hip-Hop blog Global Grind. (More)
THE UGLY FACE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA - TOP A profoundly depressing video of protesters hurling abuse at attendees at an Islamic fundraising event in Orange County Richard Adams, Guardian, 3/4/11
The Southern California chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA organised a fundraising dinner in Orange County, last month. But guess who also turned up? A motley collection of protesters who can be seen here chanting in the above video distributed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations civil rights group:
As the video shows, the rhetoric of the protesters became increasingly venomous toward the families and children who came to attend the ICNA Relief fundraising dinner. Protesters shouted invective statements such as "Go home terrorist," "Muhammad is a pervert, Muhammad is a child molester," "Go home and beat your wife, she needs a good beating," at the event-goers.
One of the protesters' guest speakers, seen in the video, is a local councilwoman who denounces the event as "pure, unadulterated evil," and continues:
I know quite a few Marines who would be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise. (More)
GAFFNEY, JONES FIGHT FOR SOUL OF ANTI-SHARIA MOVEMENT AT RALLY BY WHITE HOUSE (VIDEO) - TOP Ryan J. Reilly, TPM Muckraker, 3/4/11
Rev. Terry Jones, the man who rose to national prominence last fall when he announced (but later backed off of) a plan to burn copies of the Koran, was clad in a beat-up black leather jacket when he showed up to a park across the street from the White House a few minutes before noon on Thursday.
His black sunglasses resting a few inches above his signature handlebar mustache, Jones hopped up on a bench in Lafayette Park and announced that his organization Stand Up America was holding a rally.
An aide to Frank Gaffney, the founder and president of the American Center for Security Policy, didn't take kindly to that and quickly told the National Park Service that Jones wasn't a part of their group and didn't have a permit for his rally. So Jones and his crowd, many of them decked out in biker gang gear, set up shop in the midst of Pennsylvania Avenue.
The common enemy of both groups was radical Muslim Anjem Choudary, a London-based preacher who has been dubbed a "media whore" and has already made the rounds on Fox News promoting his "Sharia4America" rally, which was postponed just a few hours before it was supposed to begin on Thursday. (More)
TENN. MUSLIM CHALLENGES SMEARS OF ISLAM AT TEA PARTY EVENT - TOP Joel Davis, The Daily Times, 3/4/11
Bill French, a self-taught expert on "political Islam," spoke to the Smoky Mountains Tea Party Patriots Thursday about what he sees as the rise of the Muslim religious code --" Sharia law " -- in Tennessee.
French warned that Sharia law seeks the submission of all other laws to it, saying there was an ongoing ideological struggle between Islam and the non-Muslim world. "Sharia law talks about me, the non-Muslim," he said.
At a couple of points, French, who goes by the alias "Bill Warner" when giving his talks on political Islam, said that there was no Golden Rule in the religion.
"The two driving forces of our civilization are the Golden Rule and critical thought," French said. "There is no Golden Rule in Islam.... There is not really even a Ten Commandments."
This was news to William Coley, a Blount County Muslim, and his wife, Farah, who brought their two sons, three-week-old Jalal and 14-month-old Shuaib, to the meeting. For Coley, Islam is a source of guidance and comfort that has much in common with the core principles of other religions. "In Christianity and in Judaism, it's 'Do unto others as you would have done unto you. In Islam, no man truly believes until he loves for others what he loves for himself."
Caring for your neighbor and the unfortunate in the community is an obligation for Muslims, according to the dictates of their faith, Coley said. "You are your brother's keeper.... Everything is about your neighbor and your family and those around you. It's about building a stronger community."
Coley wants Blount County residents to know the true face of Islam in Tennessee. It looks a lot like their own. "Most of us are natives," Coley said. "Most of us are from here. My family has been here for a coon's age."
Coley said that Tennessee is in no danger of being engulfed by Sharia law. "One of the tenets of Sharia law itself is you honor the trust you are given, and you obey the laws of the land in which you reside....It's a good myth for scaring up votes in midterm elections." (More)
LEGISLATION WOULD BAN ISLAMIC LAW IN ALABAMA COURTS - TOP Tim Lockette, Star Assistant, 3/4/11
A bill introduced Tuesday in the Alabama Senate would ban the use of Islamic law in Alabama courts.
The bill's sponsor said the measure was designed to protect future generations from erosion of the Constitution. One Birmingham area Muslim leader said the move was an effort to "demonize Islam and Muslims."
But no one -- not even Sen. Gerald Allen, who sponsored the bill -- can point to examples of Muslims trying to have Islamic law recognized in Alabama courts. (More)
WHITE SUPREMACIST BEHIND GOP'S ANTI-SHARIA LAW CRUSADE - TOP Jamilah King, Color Lines, 3/3/11
Last month Colorlines.com took a note from Think Progress and rounded up the 13 states that have introduced useless bills to ban Sharia law. Oklahoma's voter-approved constitutional amendment, which was later overturned by a federal judge, is the most commonly cited among the crop. But Tennessee has since joined the list after lawmakers there introduced SB 1028, a radical bill that Tim Murphy at Mother Jones writes could make benign activities like re-painting the exterior of a mosque or bringing food to a potluck felony crimes.
Murphy notes that all these bills have one common thread: they originate with white supremacist David Yerushalmi, an Arizona-based lawyer and founder of SANE [Society of Americans for National Existence] who's previously called for a "war against Islam." But it's not just Muslims who Yerushalmi is after. He's also criticized the universal suffrage movement, at one point saying, "there's a reason the founding fathers did not give women of black slaves the right to vote." Murphy writes: (More)
VIDEO: MUSLIM WHO FOUND FBI'S GPS DEVICE ON CAR FILES SUIT (CAIR) - TOP Robert Handa, KTVU, 3/4/11
A Santa Clara man who found an FBI GPS device on his car filed suit against the agency Wednesday -- Robert Handa reports.
Watch the video.
GA: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REVIEWING MOSQUE CONTROVERSY - TOP Mark Winne, WSBTV, 3/3/11
ATLANTA -- Channel 2 Action News has learned that a mosque controversy in Gwinnett County is now the focus of a federal civil rights investigation.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is investigating the city of Lilburn's treatment of a local mosque seeking to expand.
The mosque filed a federal civil lawsuit that alleges the city of Lilburn discriminated against the mosque when the city denied the mosque's request for expansion.
The federal lawsuit reads:
"The Five Acre Restriction on its face discriminates against Plaintiff on the basis of religion. Defendants had no constitutionally reasonable basis for their refusal to approve the Applications."
The Lilburn City Council voted several times to deny the Dar-e Abbas Shia Islamic Center's applications for a rezoning and special use permit that would allow the mosque to move to a larger property on Lawrenceville Highway and build a cemetery. (More)
NE: JUDGE WON'T THROW OUT MUSLIM CASE AGAINST MEATPACKER - TOP Associated Press, 3/4/11 Omaha, NE - (AP) - A federal judge won't dismiss a lawsuit against a JBS Swift & Co. plant in Nebraska that alleges mistreatment of Somali Muslim workers. (More)
ISLAM-OPED: PETER KING'S KEYSTONE KOPS HEARING ON MUSLIMS - TOP
ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
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Peter King's Keystone Kops Hearing on Muslims By Corey Saylor Word Count: 511
Rep. Peter King's fumblings around his planned hearings on Muslim "radicalization" may one day raise amused eyebrows. However, since he is positioned to do some real damage, his inept handling of the hearings raises nothing but alarm.
As chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, King announced his hearings by reciting his allegation that "over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams." In January, he said he will "stand-by" that number.
When asked, King points to no authoritative source for his 80 percent allegation.
Instead he cites a speech given at the U.S. Department of State in the late 1990s by Hisham Kabbani, a figure who is unknown to most U.S. Muslims.
One man's opinion. Kabbani to this day does not respond to inquiries about his source for this allegation.
A person in King's position should seek higher quality evidence than one person's unsubstantiated allegation. Such lax "one person's opinion" standards led to bad things during the Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings.
(King, by the way, also believes "there are too many mosques in America.")
Next, Politico reported that according to King, Ayaan Hiirsi Ali was a potential witness at the hearing.
During the course of a single 2007 interview with Reason Magazine Ali said, "I think that we are at war with Islam" and called for Islam to be "defeated." Later in the interview, Ali suggested that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to allow for discrimination against Muslims.
Once such facts became public, Ali was dropped.
Most recently, a National Review article -- posted on the House Homeland Security Committee's website so presumably King felt it was accurate -- announced that Walid Phares was a planned witness for the hearings.
Phares is a former official with a Christian militia implicated, by Israel's official Kahan inquiry and other sources, in the 1982 massacre of civilian men, women and children at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.
In the late 1990s, leading members of Phares' World Lebanese Organization included the deputy commander of a group known for systematically torturing prisoners. Another leading member headed a militia known for atrocities during the Lebanese civil war.
Once such facts became public, Phares was dropped as well. Even after learning of Phares' past associations, King issued a statement saying he will rely on Phares "for his advice and counsel as these hearings go forward."
King could have saved himself, his committee and his party a lot of embarrassment by doing a basic internet search on either of these extreme individuals. Even more embarrassment could have been saved by checking the factual basis of any allegations before casually tossing them out in public.
The threat of violent extremism, from whatever source, to our nation is a profoundly serious issue.
However, King's baseless allegations and extremist witnesses raise reasonable questions about the credibility of the hearings as a force to oppose the threat.
It is time for House Speaker Boehner and other Republicans to rein King in. King's fumbling is not only embarrassing, but distracts from a serious issue.
Corey Saylor is national legislative director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSLIMS ANXIOUS, ACTIVE AHEAD OF RADICALIZATION HEARINGS - TOP Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog, 3/4/11
Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.
When Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University, learned that Congress would be holding hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, he vowed to help influence their direction.
"The community is anxious, uncertain and even fearful in terms of what this could become in this environment," says Ahmed, who is Muslim. "There is a generalized sense of Islamophobia floating around, and the hearings are not doing anything to assuage Muslim fears."
So the professor scheduled an appointment with the staff of House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, who convened the hearings - the first of which is Thursday - and presented his detailed research on the views and experiences of American Muslims. (More)
VIDEO REPORT: MEET PETER KING -- ISLAMOPHOBE - TOP Think Progress, 3/4/11
Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has scheduled his hearings on "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" for March 10 of next week. The plan has already set off a chorus of criticisms -- from leaders of various faiths, religious and community leaders in King's own district, everyday Americans, Muslim political advocacy groups, and even King's fellow congressmen -- that King is indulging an Islamophobic fixation and casting collective guilt and aspersions on the entire Muslim American community. (More)
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