Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exposing Congressman King's Hypocrisy

Republican Congressman Peter King, the U.S. Representative from New York's 3rd District, is using his powerful post as House Homeland Security Committee chairman to hold a highly controversial hearing on what he has dubbed radicalization of Muslims in the United States.

In order to assess the sincerity of Mr. King's efforts or the lack of it, it is important to look into his past activities and statements relating to terrorism. Here are a couple of statements regarding the Irish Republican Army attributed to Mr. King by the New York Times:

“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women (of the Irish Republican Army) who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” Peter King 1982

“If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.” Peter King 1985

For those unfamiliar with the Irish Republican Army's reign of terror unleashed upon the Irish and the British people, here is a brief snapshot of some of their deadly attacks on civilian targets:

* Bloody Friday: a 1972 attack in Belfast in which 22 bombs, set off in just over an hour, killed 9 people and injured 130.

* In 1979, the IRA assassinated Queen Elizabeth II's uncle and former governor general of India, Lord Mountbatten, and three others by blowing up his boat.

* In 1998, an IRA car bombing killed 29 people in Northern Ireland. The attack was severe enough to provoke threats by the Irish government that paramilitary groups must declare a cease-fire.

King has never regretted his past support for terrorism. The IRA, he still says, was “a legitimate force” battling British repression — analogous to the African National Congress in South Africa or the Zionist Irgun paramilitary in British-ruled Palestine. “It was a dirty war on both sides".

People familiar with King's career know that he is an opportunist. It was King's support from the Irish-Americans that helped him make the leap from Comptroller of Nassau County, New York to member of the House of Representatives. That support was in part predicated upon King's support for the Irish Republican Army.

Knowing his past, it's clear that King sees another opportunity here to build his political career and consolidate his position with the radicals in his party by making the outrageous assertion that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement. He is simply grandstanding on national television to spew hate against America's Muslim minority.

King's reckless assertions and these hearings bring back memories of the Communist witch hunt in the 1950s which was spearheaded by Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy made accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Harry S. Truman, Voice of America, and the United States Army. He also used charges of communism, communist sympathies, or disloyalty to attack a number of politicians and other individuals inside and outside of government. The McCarthy era finally ended on December 2, 1954, when the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48.

The hysterical Islamophobic rhetoric of King's supporters, such as Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America, conflates all Muslims with terrorists and it amounts to outright fearmongering. It deserves to be denounced, not dignified with congressional hearings on national television. Unfortunately, Representative King has invited witnesses with records of making outrageous claims about Muslims, such as Walid Shoebat. Shoebat asserts that "Islam is of Satan". It's noteworthy that King has not invited any law-enforcement official or other experts to discuss his claim that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.

In addition to inviting the only Muslim-American Congressman Rep Keith Ellison to testify, the Homeland Security Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, has invited Leroy Baca, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, who has praised Muslim assistance to law enforcement, and Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who has many Muslim constituents.

As these hearings get underway, it's important for all right-thinking Americans to expose Congressman King's hypocrisy to help ensure that the injustices of the past committed against specific minority groups in America, such as the African-Americans and the Japanese-Americans, are not repeated yet again.

Here is a video report on the eve of the King hearings:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Duke University Study on Muslim Americans

Early Anthrax Probe of Pakistani-Americans

Violence Against Indians in Australia

First Haji in US Congress

Inside the Mind of Times Square Bomber

Home-grown Terror Plots Seen as FBI Entrapment

Milgram's Experiments on Obedience to Authority


Mayraj said...;_ylt=Aro5O__U4TKg_I4ISO.U3wsV6w8F;_ylu=X3oDMTR0MGgxczluBGFzc2V0A2RhaWx5YmVhc3QvMjAxMTAzMDkvMTI4MjhfcGV0ZXJraW5nYm9hc3Rzb2Z3aGl0ZWhvdXNlc3VwcG9ydGZvcmFtZXJpY2FubXVzbGltaGVhcmluZ3MEY2NvZGUDbXBfZWNfOF8xMARjcG9zAzUEcG9zAzUEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yaWVzBHNsawNwZXRlcmtpbmdzdW4-

Peter King's Unlikely Ally--Obama White House Deputy National Security adviser Dennis McDonough

Moin said...


Here is another hot and current article that is also relevant and supports your point of view of Peter King.

Riaz Haq said...

As Rep. Peter King opened his controversial hearing into "radicalization in the American Muslim community" on Thursday morning, researchers were noting that King's claims about mosques in the United States being controlled by "radical imams" who are producing extremists are apparently untrue.

King, a Long Island Republican under fire for once supporting Irish Republican Army terrorism but now pursuing Islamic extremism, has claimed that over 80 percent of American mosques are controlled by "radical imams" and that Muslims are "an enemy living amongst us" who are not helping authorities combat terrorism. He has also lamented the number of mosques in the United States because they breed "home-grown" terrorists.

But a 2008 survey of 1,410 Muslims that was the largest ever conducted showed that almost all Muslims who regularly go to a mosque are likely to agree with the statement that Islam and the American political system are compatible.

The study by Karam Dana, who teaches at Tufts University, and colleague Matt A. Barreto shows that among Muslims who do not attend religious services regularly, 77 percent answered "yes" when asked whether Islam and American political values are compatible. Among those who are regularly involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent. The research confirmed results from a smaller, earlier survey.

"The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American politics," Dana told Religion News Service.

Like other religious institutions in the United States, mosques have helped members assimilate into American society and promoted support for American civic and political values, Dana said.

"Decades of scholarship on religious institutions, be they churches or synagogues, have shown that they foster participation in the political system," said Dana. "We believe that mosques are no different."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a couple of early reports on King's hearings:

1. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was moved to tears today at Peter King's hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community, when telling the story a Muslim first responder who lost his life on September 11th, 2001.

Ellison, who is Muslim, has been opposed to the hearings' focus on Muslims, and told TPM in December that it's "legitimate" to have broad hearings on radicalization, but "just a bash session about 'Muslims are the problem' is not helpful."

2. Witnesses at a high-profile congressional hearing on Islamic radicalization said Thursday that America is "failing" to confront the threat posed by homegrown extremism, as lawmakers traded accusations over whether the inquiry unfairly singled out Muslims.

Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said "paralysis" over the issue has seized the nation's leaders and he urged the Muslim community to confront what he called an "exponential increase" in the number of Muslim radicals in the United States.

"The U.S. has a significant problem with Muslim radicalization," said Jasser, who is Muslim. "It is a problem that we can only solve."

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, clashed early with other lawmakers over the decision to hold the hearing, with one Democrat accusing King of "scapegoating" and King accusing his critics of spreading "rage and hysteria." The hearing aired a divergent set of views on the scope of the threat posed by radical Islam in the United States and the pertinence of holding a hearing focusing solely on that topic.

One lawmaker, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is Muslim, cried at the end of his testimony as he described the actions of a Muslim-American paramedic who lost his life in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Read more:

Haseeb said...

Riaz, Very timely topic. We all must contact our congress reps. (both senate and house) and call them to stop this reckless witch hunt. It is time to speak up. So please do not be lazy or bashful. Thanks for your consciences.


Riaz Haq said...


Did you watch Rep Keith Ellison's emotional testimony? It was really powerful. Here's the link and details:

WASHINGTON - Rep. Keith Ellison broke down in tears Thursday as he delivered his opening statement at a congressional hearing on Islamic radicalization.

Ellison, a Democratic representative from Minnesota’s 5th District and the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House, told the story of a Muslim-American who died as he tried to save the lives of people trapped inside the World Trade Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was born in Pakistan, was a paramedic and ambulance driver and hurried to the World Trade Center after the attacks. Ellison said Hamdani was vilified by the American media, with speculation he himself was a terrorist involved in the attacks.

"It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were exposed," Ellison said, breaking down in tears. "Mohammad Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion, but an American who gave his life for other fellow Americans.”
Ellison has spoken out against Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) hearing on Islamic radicalization, saying while radicalization must be investigated, it is wrong to single out a religious group.

"It is true that specific individuals, including some who are Muslims, are violent extremists," Ellison said. "However, these are individuals — but not entire communities. Individuals like Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Faisel Shazad, and Nidal Hasan do not represent the Muslim American community. When their violent actions are associated with an entire community, then blame is assigned to a whole group. This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating, which is counter-productive."

Riaz Haq said...

Congressman King had no witnesses from law enforcement to support his assertion that American Muslim community does not cooperate with law enforcement in fighting terror.

The only law enforcement professional to testify was Sheriff Lee Baca of LA County. And he was invited by the Democrats on the committee.

Sheriff Baca praised the Muslim community for cooperating with his department in their fight against terror.

The other assertion made by King is that that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views.

This assertion has also been thoroughly debunked by researchers at Harvard and Tufts universities.

The study by Karam Dana, who teaches at Tufts University, and colleague Matt A. Barreto shows that among Muslims who do not attend religious services regularly, 77 percent answered "yes" when asked whether Islam and American political values are compatible. Among those who are regularly involved in a mosque, that figure rose to 95 percent. The research confirmed results from a smaller, earlier survey.

"The more religious American Muslims happen to be, the more they participate in American politics," Dana told Religion News Service.

Like other religious institutions in the United States, mosques have helped members assimilate into American society and promoted support for American civic and political values, Dana said.

"Decades of scholarship on religious institutions, be they churches or synagogues, have shown that they foster participation in the political system," said Dana. "We believe that mosques are no different."

Mayraj said...

Muslim radicalization hearings: Talat Hamdani, mom of NYPD cadet killed on 9/11, rips Rep. Pete King

Read more:

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed published in The Guardian today on King's hearings:

Despite a recent study showing that 40% of all extremist plots in America were thwarted as a result of Muslim American help, King ignores this evidence and stubbornly asserts there is a "lack of cooperation" by Muslims with law enforcement. The intent, scope and framing of King's hearing have been criticised by law enforcement officials, counter-terrorism professionals, civil rights organisations, interfaith leaders and political commentators as being misguided, ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Undeniably, violent extremism poses a threat to America, and a few radicalised Muslims have committed or attempted to commit acts of violence. Evidence includes Nidal Hasan Malik, who shot 13 soldiers last year, and Faisal Shaizad, the failed Times Square bomber in New York. However, the majority of terror plots in America since 9/11 has been committed by non-Muslims, especially rightwing extremists and white supremacists. Examples include the failed Martin Luther King parade bomber in Washington state; Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona shooter who killed six people, including a judge, and Joseph Stack who flew his plane into an IRS building last year. In fact, a near-record 1,000 hate groups currently exist in America, and, as the Southern Poverty Law Centre reports, most are a result of "radical rightwing expansion, represented by hatemongers, the nativists and the antigovernment zealots".

So, why is King's focus solely on Muslim Americans, especially when Muslim American terrorism and involvement in extremism has significantly decreased, according to a recent Duke University study?

Unfortunately, history has shown that some people would sacrifice the rights of minorities for the illusion of feeling safe, as witnessed when innocent Japanese Americans were interned in camps during the second world war and viewed as a subversive fifth column, purely on account of their ethnicity. At a time when 60% of Americans don't know a Muslim and nearly 50% hold a negative view of Islam, it is unsurprising that 52% of Americans are comfortable with King's hearing being focused solely on Muslims.

As a Muslim American, and a member of America's most diverse religious group, I can testify that we are not a monolithic entity who share a collective consciousness and are automatically alerted to the perverse inclinations of all radicalised loners. Furthermore, Muslim Americans do not have specialised knowledge or heightened awareness of extremist threats – just as Italian Americans do not have innate knowledge of the Mafia's criminal operations. Perhaps King should invite the cast of Jersey Shore and the Sopranos to field that inquiry.

Maria Khan said...

King's ulterior motives are really worrying me. It's the inception of yet another hate campaign against American Muslims

Riaz Haq said...

Maria: "King's ulterior motives are really worrying me."

Yes, I agree.

But Muslim Americans have to do more than worry.

We have to fight this McCarthyite campaign, just as Rep Keith Ellison and Talat Hamdani are doing, as reported by NY Daily News:

Long Island Rep. Pete King didn't just outrage American Muslims on Thursday - he broke a grieving mom's heart.

Talat Hamdani, whose NYPD cadet son Salman was killed on 9/11, watched King's controversial hearing into the radicalization of U.S. Muslims with mounting fury.

"This is an indictment of the American Muslims," she said. "When 9/11 happened, I lost my son. ... And now, my country has been taken away from me."

A Pakistani immigrant who grew up in Bayside, Queens, Mohammed Salman Hamdani perished while rescuing Sept. 11 victims, and his remains weren't found for six months.

During that time, the young cadet's reputation was smeared by speculation he was in cahoots with the terrorists simply because he was a Muslim. He was declared a hero posthumously.

"My son was investigated even after he gave the ultimate sacrifice," Hamdani said, her eyes welling up with tears. "Until his remains were found."

Hamdani scoffed at King's stated reason for a congressional hearing - that U.S. Muslims are doing too little to fight terrorism.

"Peter King - he lost the battle," said Hamdani, who now lives in Suffolk County. "He lost his battle."

Hamdani spoke out after Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) - the first Muslim member of Congress - denounced King's hearing and broke down crying as he invoked the memory of Salman Hamdani.

"His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens," he said, wiping his eyes.

Ellison's unexpectedly emotional testimony silenced the hearing room, but King appeared to be unmoved by his wrenching words.

King, who has been accused of mounting a witch hunt against Muslims, was on the offensive from the start.

"To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness," King declared. "Despite what passes for conventional wisdom in certain circles, there is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings."

The Democrats on the committee said King was giving Muslim radicals more ammunition.

"This hearing today is playing into Al Qaeda right now around the world," Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson said.

There was also testimony from the father of Carlos Bledsoe, a Muslim convert who gunned down a U.S. soldier two years ago outside an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark.

Extremists in the U.S. and Yemen "programmed and trained my son to kill," Marvin Bledsoe said.

Riaz Haq said...

The terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim- Americans has been exaggerated, according to a study released in 2010 by researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and reported by CNN:

A small number of Muslim-Americans have undergone radicalization since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the study found. It compiled a list of 139 individuals it categorized as "Muslim-American terrorism offenders" who had become radicalized in the U.S. in that time -- a rate of 17 per year.

That level is "small compared to other violent crime in America, but not insignificant," according to the study, titled "Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans."
"Muslim-American organizations and the vast majority of individuals that we interviewed firmly reject the radical extremist ideology that justifies the use of violence to achieve political ends," David Schanzer, an associate professor in Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, said in the statement.
But it is the Muslim-American communities themselves who play a large role in keeping the number of radicalized members low through their own practices, according to the study. Leaders and Muslim-American organizations denounce violent acts, for instance, in messages that have weight within communities.

In addition, such communities often self-police -- confronting those who express radical ideology or support for terrorism and communicating concerns about radical individuals to authorities. Some Muslim-Americans have adopted programs for youth to help identify those who react inappropriately to controversial issues so they can undergo counseling and education, the researchers said.

"Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization," said Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at UNC, in the statement. "This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11."

However, "since 9/11, there has been increased tension among Muslim-Americans about their acceptance in mainstream American society," the study said. Muslim-Americans report feeling a stronger anti-Muslim bias from the media as well as from day-to-day interactions.

"While Muslim-Americans understand and support the need for enhanced security and counterterrorism initiatives, they believe that some of these efforts are discriminatory, and they are angered that innocent Muslim-Americans bear the brunt of the impact of these policies."

Steps can be taken to minimize radicalization among Muslim-Americans, the study said. The most important is encouraging political mobilization among Muslims, which helps prevent radicalization and also demonstrates to Muslims abroad "that grievances can be resolved through peaceful democratic means." Policymakers should include Muslim-Americans in their outreach efforts, and public officials should attend events at mosques, as they do churches and synagogues, the study recommended.

Also, Muslim-American communities should widely disseminate their condemnation of terrorism and violence, and those statements should be publicized, the study said. Law enforcement has a role to play as well, by making efforts to increase the level of trust and communication with such communities. This could include the cultivation of Muslim-American informants, the study suggested, a policy that could be developed and openly discussed with community leaders.

Riaz Haq said...

I have received many abusive and hateful comments on this post. I have chosen not to publish such comments because of the crude language used by the posters.

One particular poster has brought up the recent murder of two Sikhs in Sacramento area and complained that Muslims have not been outspoken against it....which is factually incorrect because Muslim civil rights group CAIR has condemned the Sikhs murder and offered $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.

My response to such posters is as follows:

You need to study a little bit of history to understand that xenophobia and racial and religious bigotry in the United States have taken different forms and found different justifications and targets of hate over the last 200 years.

Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Catholics, Quakers, Mormons, and almost every new generation of immigrants, be it Germans, Irish, Italians, Sicilians, Chinese, Greeks, etc. have suffered from it to varying degrees.

Muslims, and anyone who can be mistaken for a Muslim, are just the latest target of this age-old hatred.

This xenophobia has to be fought by all right-thinking and fair-minded Americans, not just Muslims or Sikhs or those of us who have left our countries of birth and chosen to become Americans.

Let me offer you "First They came", a poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller that captures the spirit of what I am saying:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Anonymous said...

Prof Juan Cole on King's "Nixonian" Hearings

King is no civil libertarian or even champion of the rule of law. He jumped up and down in support of invading and occupying Iraq, and has argued that Wikileaks should be designated a “terrorist” organization. He has no respect whatsoever for American civil liberties, and is assiduously undermining our Bill of Rights with measures such as the so-called PATRIOT act, and now these unfair hearings. American Muslims need no defense. They haven’t done anything wrong. And contrary to King’s asinine falsehoods, they’ve been remarkably good citizens. King is part of a whole industry of maligning Muslims for profit, as the Washington Monthly has shown. The bottom line: stereotyping any large group of people is always wrong.

Some are comparing King’s witch hunt against American Muslims to McCarthyism. But I would argue that it is to Richard Milhaus Nixon that we should look for the precedent here. King is appealing to ethnic bigotry (and yes, because of intermarriage and lifeways, American Muslims are best seen as an ethnic group). And arranging the world in the terms of ethnic bigotry was the hallmark of Nixon’s career. He was also perfectly capable off McCarthyism, i.e. of falsely accusing his political opponents of being Communists. But his bigotry, like King’s, was more capacious than that.

The White House tapes that Tricky Dick Nixon made to ensure his place in posterity backfired on him by giving us a window into his sick soul. One of his techniques was to single out an American ethnic group and demonize them, putting most of them on his ‘enemies list.’

Richard Nixon fumed to his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldemann, “Most Jews are disloyal.” He noted a few exceptions. “But, Bob, generally speaking, you can’t trust the bastards. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?

Haldemann was never one to disagree with his boss. He said of American Jews, “Their whole orientation is against you. In this administration, anyway. And they are smart. They have the ability to do what they want to do–which is to hurt us.”

Nixon was convinced that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was a Yiddish cell out to sink him by phonying up unemployment numbers. He raged, “The Jews are all over the government.” He argued that someone had to be put in charge of government agencies “who is not Jewish” so as to stop the infiltration. Washington, he exclaimed, “is full of Jews.”

Nixon navigated his social world with dreary ethnic stereotypes. African-Americans would be able to make no significant contribution to the United States, he sneered, for at least 500 years. Irish are mean drunks, to a man. Italians “just don’t have their heads screwed on tight.”

We don’t need secret tapes to know that King is a bigot toward Muslims. His public pronouncements make that abundantly clear. And, my guess is that he is pulling this stunt because he has the prospect of some big financial backing for a senate run, and those wealthy patrons want him to demonize Muslims.

King is pond scum, an exemplar of everything that is going wrong with the American Republic, the Founders of which insisted that Congress keep its grubby mitts off people’s religion.

The response of the American Muslim community should be clear. They should form PACs and give as much money as they can to King’s opponent in the next election (NB: you don’t have to be in New York– the money to the opposing candidate can be donated from anywhere in the country). And, if he libels any of them, they should sue him. That’s how it works in American politics. I don’t like encouraging more single-issue PACs, but they are the only thing that might stand between American Muslims and pogroms whipped up by demagogues like King.

Riaz Haq said...

ACLU of Massachusetts Privacy Rights Coordinator Kade Crockford wrote the following guest blog for on Mar 10. Here's part 1:

Twitter was ablaze today with the #MUAC hashtag. For those of you who don’t use the social media favorite, a hashtag is a way of identifying your Tweet with a thread of commentary related to one subject, so that people can participate in a large, lively conversation on that topic. Thousands of people used this hashtag today as they “live-tweeted” Representative Peter King’s congressional hearings on “Muslim Radicalization” . MUAC stands for “Muslim un-American Activities Committee”, a nod to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist hearings in the 1950s, hosted by his House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

Contrary to a claim he made during the hearing today, when he went on the record denying ever having said it, Rep. King has said that he thinks there are “too many mosques in this country”. He said he thought the hearings were necessary because Muslim radicals are the only threat to the United States. “It makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism, when the main threat to the United States today is talking about al Qaida” [sic], he said. Yet he and his allies repeated endlessly during the proceedings that the hearings today were “not about Muslims.”

Many of King’s Congressional colleagues on the House Homeland Security Committee beg to differ. Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Loretta Sanchez, and Laura Richardson, all women of color, spoke in strong terms denouncing the hearings as discriminatory, and contesting some of the main arguments made by King, his supporters and his chosen witnesses. Representatives Bennie Thompson and Al Green, both men of color, also spoke, and condemned the hearing in no less harsh tones. Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Congressional support for or opposition to the hearings fell almost precisely along racial lines. The only white Congressperson to oppose them was Representative John Dingell, who said:

"I believe this hearing has a potential to create a continuation of the fear and hatred that came after 9/11. This hearing must not be permitted to recall the evils of McCarthyism and the divisiveness and ill-will it created amongst our people."

And he would know. At 95 years old, Rep. Dingell is the only living member of Congress to have served during McCarthy’s HUAC hearings.

Representative Laura Richardson echoed Dingell’s sentiment, saying that the only difference between King’s and McCarthy’s hearings is that the latter were televised in black and white, while the former are in color.

The hearings today didn’t address the underlying causes of a recent attempted bombing in Spokane, WA. They didn’t address the recent near-murder of a Congresswoman in Arizona, an incident in which twelve other people were shot, among the dead a Federal Judge and a 9-year old girl. The hearings couldn’t or wouldn’t address these serious crimes of terrorism because they were committed by white, non-Muslims. Instead the hearings addressed vague threats, an atmosphere highly suggestive of the anti-Communist hysteria that permeated McCarthy’s hearings during the Cold War. Another amorphous, domestic “enemy” influenced by foreigners. Another Congressional witch hunt.

Riaz Haq said...

ACLU of Massachusetts Privacy Rights Coordinator Kade Crockford wrote the following guest blog for on Mar 10. Here's part 2:

One surprising theme that representatives of the GOP kept bringing up was that the Counsel of American Islamic Relations, CAIR, a Muslim legal advocacy group, was somehow part of a vast conspiracy related to Muslim obstruction of justice. This aspect of the hearing was particularly troubling, and reached its crescendo when Rep. Chip Cravaack said that CAIR was “basically…a terrorist organization.”

The only law enforcement person at the hearings, Sheriff Lee Baca from Los Angeles, said that in fact CAIR and other Muslim organizations have been very helpful in the fight against extremist Muslims. But many Republicans kept at it, hammering CAIR for counseling Muslims to seek legal help when approached by the FBI. This was particularly shocking, because as Representative Loretta Sanchez said, seeking counsel in the face of government interrogation is not only a fundamental right, it is also the smart thing to do.

Many people have already commented on the hearings, and many more will continue to do so for a long time coming. There will be debates about whether these hearings are just, whether they are efficacious, whether they are focused on the right target, whether Congressional hearings should target minority groups at all. These are all important subjects with significant ramifications for our public policy.

But watching the hearings left me with one very profound feeling quite apart from these crucial matters. While it was devastatingly sad to watch Representative Keith Ellison, an elected official, try to convince one of his colleagues of his own humanity and of the humanity of his co-religionists, I didn’t feel completely demoralized by the process before me.


Because unlike during McCarthy’s hearings, today’s House Homeland Security Committee was populated by people of color and women who vocally defended the rights of their fellow citizens, raised important issues about white supremacist terrorism, and marked in the congressional record government opposition to the pointless, politically-driven witch-hunt that occurred in Congress today.

We don’t live in the 1950s anymore, thankfully. Some things might stay the same, but some things have certainly changed. On an otherwise sad day in the history of our nation, I’ll bless America for that.

Riaz Haq said...

This week Representative Peter King held Congressional hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims. Listen to this week’s podcast to find out more about the controversy around the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the lead-in to the hearing, including excerpts from key participants in this debate and some of the experts from the military who explain why this approach is counterproductive:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by Jack Hunter titled "Peter King's Radical Ignorance" in The American Conservative magazine:

This is not unlike when we are told that terrorists simply “hate our freedom,” as President Bush and his Republican supporters like Rep. King have always considered a satisfactory explanation for our problems with radical Islam. Yet using two of the very examples cited at King’s hearings—Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad—what can we deduce about what actually causes domestic Islamic terrorism? If virtually every would-be domestic Islamic terrorist cites the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their primary motivation—which virtually all of them do including Hasan and Shahzad—and yet we are still fighting wars in both countries allegedly in the name of fighting terrorists… might it be time to reexamine and perhaps reassess our foreign policy? Are we attacking the problem of radical Islam or helping to create it? Has the War on Terror actually become a war for it?

Yet few dare raise these most pertinent questions. When longtime DC-based tax activist Grover Norquist suggested in January that conservatives should begin to have a conversation about the wisdom of our war in Afghanistan, he was swiftly denounced by many on the Right for even daring to discuss the matter. Norquist defended his suggestion: “I’m confident about where that conversation would go. And I think the people who are against that conversation know where it would go, too.” Addressing some of his harsher critics, Norquist shot back: “Shut up is not an argument… Many of the people who want us to stay in Afghanistan are smart people. There are good arguments for their position. So let’s hear them.”

But hearing any serious cost/benefit analysis about our current foreign policy is about as likely to happen as Washington leaders addressing and correcting our reckless domestic policy of trillion dollar deficits and debt. It is simply assumed that the status quo, whatever it may be, is somehow beneficial and necessary by its own volition. Or perhaps worse, politicians fear that the many special interests involved could potentially be jeopardized by any substantive examination of the way Washington conducts its business.

This characteristic intellectual laziness among the political class is particularly troubling when it comes to the threat of terrorism, domestic or otherwise. We continue to fret over the Islamic terror effect while steadfastly refusing to even consider the cause of Islamic terrorism, making King’s hearings last week little more than another example of Washington’s typical grandstanding buffoonery. Yes, King and his allies on this issue are indeed right that the problem of domestic Islamic terrorism is a concern—but their ongoing blindness toward the primary cause of their concern prevents them from even attempting to examine this issue comprehensively. Peter King might as well have called for congressional hearings on the problem of teenage sex while leaving raging hormones completely out of the equation. And let us hear no more from Washington leaders who want to “keep us safe” until they are first willing to look at the policies of their own making that continue to endanger us the most.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Indian American on a racially motivated hate crime against a young Indian female student in Australia:

Family and friends are shocked by the rape and murder of Tosha Thakkar, 24, whose body was in a suitcase dumped in a canal in northwest Sydney, Australia, on March 12. Police have arrested Daniel Stani-Reginald, 19, Thakkar’s neighbor.

Thakkar was studying accounting at Sydney Cross University and was four months short of finishing her degree.

Police say Thakkar was raped and murdered March 9, by Stan-Reginald, and her body was put into a black suitcase and dumped in the canal behind Meadowbank Park where it was found March 11 by some workers, The Australian newspaper reported. Police arrested Stani-Reginald, 19, and charged him with the murder.

On March 14, at the Burwood Local Court hearing, Stani-Reginald did not appear in person but rather by video link, Gautam Gupta, spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, told Desi Talk by phone. An Australian national, Stani-Reginald is reported to be of Sri Lankan origin.

Thakkar’s friends gathered at the court for the hearing, The Australian reported. The judge set May 9 for the trial.

Meanwhile, a March 14 Press Trust of India report from Vadodra quoted the victim’s father, Sunil Thakkar, a businessman, as saying the Australian authorities were sending his daughter’s body back to India in a few days.

Police chargesheets presented in court alleged that Stani-Reginald raped and murdered Thakkar on March 9 between 10:35 a.m. and 1 p.m. while her roommate was out. The suspect and the victim lived in separate apartments above an empty storefront on Edwin Street in Croydon in Sydney’s inner west side and the murder took place in the apartment, police say.

“As of now, they have not given any motive but now details are coming out - that he (Stani-Reginald) is a repeat offender,” Gupta told Desi Talk.
He said the Indian student community was very disturbed by the incident and that he had been fielding calls from potential students from India and their parents about the state of security in that country.

A childhood friend of Thakkar’s, who also studied in Sydney but returned to Vadodra in 2008, told The Australian that the family in Vadodra was shattered and that the last time they spoke to her via the telephone was two days before her murder.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from Sherbano Taseer (Salman Taseer's daughter) interview with Pakistani Islamic scholar Javaid Ahmed Ghamidi as published in Newsweek Pakistan:

Are Islam and democracy compatible?

Yes, of course. Islam favors democratic societies. In the West, they have created democracies, which may have their shortcomings, but where people listen to one another, tolerate each other's opinions, and engage in dialogue. The majority opinion is made into law, and these laws can be criticized, debated freely, and amended based on people's beliefs.

There is furor in Pakistan over the blasphemy laws. What does the Quran say about punishing those who are proven to have committed blasphemy?

There is no punishment prescribed for blasphemy in the Quran or in the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Some clerics cite the case of Ibn Akhtar, but they misinterpret that incident and make it about blasphemy. Man can make laws, and these should not be misused to unfairly target or victimize anyone. Islam specifically says that taking the life of an individual is tantamount to taking the life of all humanity. It is a crime. It is wrong. Allah says true Muslims are those in whose hands others are safe.
Do you feel Pakistan can contain the extremist threat?

Let's start by not losing hope. We can contain it if we unite. There needs to be a new movement, by educated people, who can put pressure on the government so that, for one, education returns to being the responsibility of the state. Otherwise, this cancer of extremism will continue to spread. Pakistan has over 12,000 madrassahs with more than 2 million students. The countless clerics at these schools have immense sway, they have formed communities around themselves and they have weapons. And when power comes into the hands of such people—when we give them that power—you get what we have happening right now. There is nothing in the Quran or the Prophet's (peace be upon him) sayings to justify what the extremists are doing. We need to enter the playing field and correct this, and turn their arguments on their head. I have challenged them on every occasion for the past five years or so, and told them what they are saying is incorrect. They can only stay silent in return. Even in the matter of blasphemy they could not refute me, but I feel I am alone in this.
So how do we change things?

People need to understand Islam themselves, there is no other way. We need to understand the religion and launch a movement to reform society. In the West, there was a reformation movement which needs to be replicated in the East. There is strength in our arguments. You can reason with these people if you reason strongly and with facts. Islam was initially spread by a handful of people. This is how you will get success and nobody will be able to refute it. The media has a lot of power and must use this power positively, spreading the message from house to house. But the reality is that we are not ready to take up this cause. The secularists and the elite are not ready to take this up, they are not ready to talk and engage especially about beliefs.

What role do you see religious scholars playing to improve our society?

They, like doctors and engineers, are experts in their field. Their role is not to pick up guns, but to argue with facts and to present their arguments logically and calmly. Their role is not to threaten or to preach in a hostile or forceful manner in the streets, but to inform and show people the right Islam. The unfortunate reality here is that those who claim to be adherents of Allah's word are actually quite unfamiliar with the faith.

Tahir said...

Dear Riaz Sahib,

It is a good interview, Mr Ghamdi is one of the few sane voices in the country, as he has said himself he is almost alone in this struggle against extremism in Pakistan, the extremist have created so much fear in the minds of other liberals that they are afraid to say anything against them particularly after the murder of Salman Taseer and the reception and respect given to his killer and the killer of humanity, Qadri.

Unless the Government takes a strong stand against these extremist, who have brought such a bad name for our religion, we can not expect any progress in the situation, unfortunately our present Government is so corrupt and toothless that they are only worried about keeping themselves in power to continue the loot and plunder of the country that they are not focussing on the issues which are important for the progress and survival of the country

Hope we get a good government to set the priorties right.


Riaz Haq said...

Tahir Sahib,

I agree that Zardari govt is corrupt and incompetent.

But I also think that even the most honest and competent of govts can not bring about the needed social change; it'll take Islamic scholars like Ghamidi to make it happen.

BTW, Ghamidi is no ordinary scholar, his roots go back to Maulana Maudoodi of JI.

Today, I see some signs of serious intellectual discourse among Muslims in Pakistan which has yet to get the electronic and Urdu media coverage required for mass education of mainstream Pakistanis.

Like Hassan Al Banna and Syed Qutb before him, Maulana Maudoodi was a foremost intellect, an influential thought leader, and a great scholar of Islam in the 20th century. He has influenced a lot of the contemporary thought among Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia. Two of his disciples, Javed Ghamidi and late Israr Ahmed, each an intellectual in his own right, evolved in very different directions.

A faction within Maulana Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami broke away under the leadership of Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi whose school of thought was then carried forward by Khalid Masud and Javed Ahmed Ghamidi.

Javed Ahmed Ghamidi today is probably the most liberal and progressive scholar in the entire Islamic world. This Islamic scholar has come full circle by claiming that Islamic state is not an objective of a Muslim but rather the objective of a Muslim is individual reform. Contrast this to another breakaway Jamaat faction - Dr. Israr Ahmed- whose Tanzeem-e-Islami is a religious movement working towards “Non-violent attainment of Khilafah”.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting post by Prof Juan Cole of Univ of Michigan on what he calls "hand-wringing about religious extremism in Pakistan".

There has been a lot of hand-wringing about religious extremism in Pakistan in the wake of the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer. On Sunday the fundamentalist religious parties held a rally some 40,000 strong in the southern port city of Karachi against repealing Pakistan’s blasphemy law, as the Pakistan People’s Party MP Sherry Rahman proposes.

It would be foolish to deny that Pakistan has a problem with religious extremism. But outsiders do not actually understand the country very well and have no sense of scale, so it is hard for them to judge the significance of these events. Here I want to offer five ironies of religious extremism in that country, in an attempt to signal that the story is more complicated and requires more nuance than you find at typical American anti-Muslim hate blogs. Let me just signal the important difference between religious traditionalism and religious fundamentalism. Many Pakistanis are traditionalists– they attend at saints’ shrines, pray, sing religious songs (qawali), etc. Fundamentalists reject the idea of saints, of shrines, and of spiritual music. So on to the ironies:

1. The Pakistani parliament never passed a blasphemy law. It was promulgated in the 1980s by fiat by military dictator Gen. Zia ul-Haq. Gen. Zia made a coup in 1977 against the populist and left-leaning Pakistan People’s Party, and received the warm support of the United States, especially after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Gen. Zia was a fundamentalist who sought support in civil society for his illegitimate regime among small fundamentalist parties such as the Jama’at al-Islami. The US raised no objections.

2. The murderer of Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, is not a fundamentalist. He had a long affair with a lover in Karachi before marrying about a year ago. He is no puritan. He sometimes trimmed back his beard, something Pakistani religious conservatives usually avoid. He sometimes went to saints’ shrines, which fundamentalists would denounce. He has no connection to any known terrorist group, and says he acted alone. He belongs to a moderate school of Islam. Many press reports have said that Taseer’s murder points to the rise of Pakistani fundamentalism, but you could not prove it by Qadri’s profile. He seems to represent no one but himself.

3. The rally of 40,000 in favor of the blasphemy law just isn’t that big in Karachi, a city of over 15 million people. The 9/11 Commission estimated that there are some 200,000 students in the religious academies or madrasahs in Karachi, so the rally did not even attract very many of them, much less a significant number of the religiously committed persons in the megalopolis.

4. The people of Karachi vote for the militantly secular if rather thuggish MQM (Muttahidah Qaumi Movement) party, which runs their municipal government and represents them in the national parliament. The MQM vehemently denounced the killing of Taseer. Fundamentalists are not important in Karachi politics, except insofar as they are violent infiltrators....

Riaz Haq said...

In a Newsweek interview, Japanse-American historian Francis Fukuyama warns that "the entire internment episode was a grave injustice. Any person of Japanese-American ancestry watching today’s Islamophobia has to be very sensitive."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Op Ed by Leonard Pitts published in the Miami Herald:

OK, put your books away. We’re having a pop quiz.

Below are four quotes. Each is from one of two sources: the Bible or the Koran, although, just to make things interesting, there’s also a chance all four are from one book. Two were edited for length and one of those was also edited to remove a religion-specific reference. Your job: identify the holy book of origin. Ready? Go:

1) “. . . Wherever you encounter [non-believers], kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post . . .”

2) “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

3) “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ . . . do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

4) “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

All right, pens down. How did you do?

If you identified the first quote as being from the Koran (9:5) and the other three as originating in the Bible (Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18), I congratulate you on that degree in theology. If I have guessed correctly, most people will not have found it easy to place the quotes in their proper books. If I have guessed correctly, most people will have found a certain thematic similarity in them.

Yes, there is a point here: I wish people would stop cherry-picking warlike quotes from the Koran to “prove” the evil of Islam. You see this stuff all over the web. Just a few days ago, some anonymous person, angry with me for defending “Fascist/Nazi Islam” the writer says is trying to kill us all, sent me an e-mail quoting Koranic exhortations to violence to prove that Islam is a “religion of hate and murder.”

As rhetorical devices go, it is a cheap parlor trick, a con job to fool the foolish and gull the gullible and for anyone who has spent quality time with the Bible, its shortcomings should be obvious.

If not, see the pop quiz again. The Koran is hardly unique in its admonitions to take up the sword.

It is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. Let us leave it to religious scholars to contextualize them, to explain how they square with the contention that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that, while both Christian and Muslim scholars will offer that context and explanation, only Christians can be assured of being taken at their word when they do.

Christians get the benefit of the doubt. Muslims get Glenn Beck asking a Muslim Congressman to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

Because Christianity is regarded as a known — and a norm. Muslims, meantime, have been drafted since Sept. 11, 2001, to fulfill the nation’s obsessive, historic, paranoiac and ongoing need to rally against an enemy within. We lost the Commies, but along came the Islamo-fascists. The names change. The endless capacity for irrational panic remains the same.

As in people who send out e-mails insisting upon the rightness of holding over a billion people — that bears repeating: over a billion people — responsible for the actions of, what . . .? A few hundred? A few thousand?

Some of us use lies, exaggerations and rhetorical gobbledygook to instill in the rest of us that irrational panic they breathe like air. Yes, it is only sensible to fear the threat we face from terrorism. But panicked, irrational people are capable of anything.

Might be wise if we chose to fear that, too.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an example of a conviction of a Pakistani-American lured by the FBI to a phony terror plot, as reported by the BBC:

A US citizen originally from Pakistan has pleaded guilty to joining what he believed to be an al-Qaeda plot to bomb the Washington DC Metrorail system.

Farooque Ahmed was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Monday immediately after entering his plea.

The 35-year-old admitted to conspiring to provide material support to a designated terrorist organisation.

He also pleaded guilty to collecting information for a terrorist attack on a transit facility.
Sting operation

Ahmed, a resident of the city of Ashburn in Virginia, was arrested in October 2010 following what the FBI said was a six-month sting operation.

Authorities said Ahmed had studied security operations at subway stations last year in northern Virginia, near Washington DC.

Ahmed also took photographs, provided diagrams and made suggestions to US authorities posing as al-Qaeda members on how a bomb could inflict the highest number of casualties, authorities said.

Ahmed was reportedly first lured by email to meetings with authorities on 18 April 2010.

The naturalised US citizen had lived in the country since 1993, FBI agent Charles Dayoub said at the time of Ahmed's arrest.

Investigators said in 2010 that they believed Mr Ahmed had used firearms he purchased in May of 2008 and February of 2009 to train for his goal of travelling to Afghanistan to kill Americans.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Op Ed about Pakistani-American Syed Fahad Hashmi published in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

By Jeanne Theoharis (Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College)

Pale and gaunt, he stood there, having endured three years of pretrial solitary confinement. "Alhamdullilah," he said.

Yes. He had allowed an acquaintance to stay with him in his student apartment in London—an acquaintance who had raincoats, ponchos, and waterproof socks in his luggage, which the acquaintance later delivered to Al Qaeda.
Eight years earlier, Fahad and I had sat across from each other in my office. A student in my civil-rights seminar, he had come in to discuss his final research paper. Months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, he wanted to examine the denial of civil rights and constitutional protections that Muslim groups across the political spectrum were facing in the United States.
A day before trial, the government dropped the other three charges. That it did so suggests that it had applied draconian pretrial measures, not because it considered Fahad a high-level terrorist, but to induce his cooperation or conviction.

Six weeks later, Judge Preska sentenced him to 15 years in prison. At the sentencing, it became clear that Fahad posed a threat not only because of luggage brought to his apartment, but because of his ideology. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan McGuire called it "an ideology of violence and intolerance," noting that "not every person who supports Al Qaeda is going to pull a trigger or throw a bomb or launch an attack." Citing Fahad's "anti-American jihadist ideology," the judge echoed that McCarthyesque logic of deterrence.
We have freedom of speech and build bridges of dialogue and debate, I teach my students, and what makes that hard is that we have to hear things we do not like and be confronted with truths and opinions far removed from our own.

But those lessons are not upheld in our public culture, which has drawn arbitrary, silencing constrictions around the speech and association of Muslim-Americans. While Christian and Jewish political dissents regularly enter American public debate (militant Christian anti-abortion rhetoric, for instance, may be censured but is not criminalized), Islamic political dissent condemning U.S. practices becomes "subject to ferocious penalties," as Randolph Bourne decried long ago, and Fahad had quoted in his paper.

"If you see something, say something." Our duty, I believe, is different—to see in a terrorism suspect a person deserving of rights and humane treatment; to speak out against torture when it happens in a New York jail, not just when it occurs overseas; to insist that the Bill of Rights applies to all defendants all of the time. To take responsibility for the ways each of us has become complicit in the civil-rights violations of our era.We have freedom of speech and build bridges of dialogue and debate, I teach my students, and what makes that hard is that we have to hear things we do not like and be confronted with truths and opinions far removed from our own.

Riaz Haq said...

A suspected far-right gunman in police uniform killed at least 84 people in a ferocious attack on a youth summer camp of Norway's ruling Labor party, hours after a bomb killed seven in Oslo, according to Reuters.

Witnesses said the gunman, identified by police as a 32-year-old Norwegian, moved across the small, wooded island of Utoeya in a lake northwest of Oslo Friday, firing at young people who scattered in panic or tried to swim to safety.

Police detained the tall, blond suspect, named by local media as Anders Behring Breivik, and charged him for the killing spree and the bombing of government buildings in Oslo.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, capturing the shock this normally quiet nation of 4.8 million is experiencing, said: "A paradise island has been transformed into a hell."

Deputy Police Chief Roger Andresen would not speculate on the motives for what was believed to be the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times.

"He describes himself as a Christian, leaning toward right-wing Christianity, on his Facebook page," Andresen said.

Initial speculation after the Oslo blast had focused on Islamist militant groups, but it appears that only Breivik -- and perhaps unidentified associates -- was involved.

Home-grown right-wing militancy has generated occasional attacks elsewhere, notably in the United States, where Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb at a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article titled "FBI ‘Islam 101′ Guide Depicted Muslims as 7th-Century Simpletons by Spencer Ackerman published in Wired Magazine:

As recently as January 2009, the FBI thought its agents ought to know the following crucial information about Muslims:

* They engage in a “circumcision ritual”
* More than 9,000 of them are in the U.S. military
* Their religion “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.”

And this was what the FBI considered “recommended reading” about Islam:

* A much-criticized tome, The Arab Mind, that one reviewer called “a collection of outrageously broad — and often suspect — generalizations“
* A book by one of Norwegian terrorist suspect Anders Behring Breivik’s favorite anti-Muslim authors.

All this is revealed in a PowerPoint presentation by the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit (.pdf), which trains new Bureau recruits. Among the 62 slides in the presentation, designed to teach techniques for “successful interviews/interrogations with individuals from the M.E. [Middle East],” is an instruction that the “Arabic mind” is “swayed more by words than ideas and more by ideas than facts.”

The briefing presents much information that has nothing to do with crime and everything to do with constitutionally-protected religious practice and social behavior, such as estimating the number of mosques in America and listing the states with the largest Muslim populations.

Other slides paint Islam in a less malicious light, and one urges “respectful liaison” as a “proactive approach” to engaging Muslims. But even those exhibit what one American Muslim civil rights leader calls “the understanding of a third grader, and even then, a badly misinformed third grader.”

One slide asks, “Is Iran an Arab country?” (It’s not.) Another is just a picture of worry beads.

“Based on this presentation, it is easy to see why so many in law enforcement and the FBI view American Muslims with ignorance and suspicion,” says Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, a legal aid group. “The presentation appears to treat all Muslims with one broad brush and makes no distinction between lawful religious practice and beliefs and unlawful activities.”...

Riaz Haq said...

It's interesting to see how the Christian right-wingers in America, like the Hindu Nationalists in India, are trying to distance themselves from Breivik. It's the same people who routinely blame the entire Muslim faith for the actions of a few who claim to be Muslim.

Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post report:

On Wednesday’s “Daily Show,” Stewart took issue with Fox News claiming that the “liberal media” unfairly labeled the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, as a Christian, therefore victimizing other Christians in the process.

On Fox Business Network’s “America’s Nightly Scoreboard,” contributor Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said that Breivik is not a Christian because “anybody can claim anything,” and also that the suspect is “a godsend to the liberal media.”

“There have been tens of thousands of Islamist terrorist attacks, and the media have rushed to say it's nothing to do with Islam,” he said. “Now one crazy claims he's a Christian and commits an act of terror, and ... we expect more Christian terrorists.”

Bill O’Reilly said it was “impossible” that Breivik is Christian just because he claimed he was one. But Stewart pointed out that O’Reilly felt comfortable calling the suspect in the Fort Hood shooting, Nidal Malik Hasan, a “Muslim terrorist” because he had a business card that read “Soldier of Allah.”

“See. That guy printed up a ‘Soldier of Allah’ business card. The other guy only printed up an ‘Army of Christ’ manifesto,” Stewart said. “I guess the only connection is both psychos, for some reason, spent the day at Kinko’s.”

Jordan Sekulow, The Post’s Religion Right Now blogger, agreed that Breivik is not a “Christian” just because he used the term.

“Breivik is not a ‘Christian terrorist’ because, according to his own description of what the word ‘Christian’ means to him, and his actions, he is not a Christian,” Sekulow wrote.

The Rev. Barry Lynn, a contributor to The Post’s On Faith, thinks O’Reilly’s claim is “nonsense.”

“Breivik says he is a Christian; he wrote a ‘manifesto’ in which he attempts to link Christianity to opposition to Muslim immigration,” Lynn wrote. “Yet he failed miserably to understand the faith he claimed to champion.”

Riaz Haq said...

Weeks before the Norway tragedy inflicted by right-wing terrorist Breivik, the US Homeland Security Dept disbanded its efforts to track domestic right wing terror under pressure from the conservatives, according to Washington Post:

The Department of Homeland Security has stepped 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 of an intelligence report on “Rightwing Extremism” issued four months into the Obama administration, the officials said. The report warned that the poor economy and Obama’s election could stir “violent radicalization,” but it was pilloried as an attack on conservative ideologies, including opponents of abortion and immigration.
“Strategic bulletins have been minimal, since that incident,” said Mike Sena, an intelligence official in California who presides over the National Fusion Center Association, a group of 72 federally chartered institutions in which state, local and federal officials share sensitive information. “Having analytical staff, to educate line officers on the extremists, is critical.…This is definitely one area” where more effort is warranted by DHS.

Similar frustration was expressed in interviews with current and former officials at fusion centers in Missouri, Virginia and Tennessee. Daryl Johnson, formerly the senior domestic terrorism analyst at DHS and a principal author of the disputed report, confirmed in an interview that he left in frustration last year after his office was “gutted” in response to complaints.

“Other reports written by DHS about Muslim extremists … got through without any major problems,” Johnson said. “Ours went through endless reviews and edits, and nothing came out.”

The threat of Islamic-related terrorism in the United States has by all accounts captured the most attention and resources at DHS since it was formed in 2002. But a study conducted for the department last October concluded that a majority of the 86 major foiled and executed terrorist plots in the United States from 1999 to 2009 were unrelated to al-Qaeda and allied movements.

“Do not overlook other types of terrorist groups,” the report warned, noting that five purely domestic groups had considered using weapons of mass destruction in that period. Similar warnings have been issued by the two principal non-government groups that track domestic terrorism: the New York-based Anti-Defamation League and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

Riaz Haq said...

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' father is a Syrian Muslim, according to ABC News:

In the wake of Steve Jobs' resignation as Apple CEO last week, the billionaire's biological father has told media outlets that he regrets giving up his son for adoption some fifty years ago.

Abdulfattah John Jandali, a Syrian immigrant who now works as a vice-president at a casino in a Reno, Nev., was quoted by the New York Post as saying he didn't know until just a fewyears ago that the baby he and his ex-wife, Joanne Simpson, gave up grew to be Apple's CEO. Jandali has emailed his son a few times, he said, but did not call Jobs for fear that he would think Jandali was after his fortune.

Jandali told the Post that had it been his choice, he would have kept the baby, but Simpson's father did not approve of her marrying a Syrian, so she moved to San Francisco to have the baby alone and give it up for adoption.

Jandali said he hoped Jobs would call him someday, and would be happy for the two of them to get just a cup of coffee together once before it is too late. Jandali is 80, and Jobs has been in declining health.

Here's more on Jandali from the Saudi Gazette:

The western media did not give great mention to Jandali other than to say he was an outstanding professor of political science, that he married his girlfriend (Steve’s mother) and by whom he also had a daughter, and that he slipped from view following his separation from his wife.
An American historian, however, has now stirred controversy over the role of genes and their superiority over nurture in the case of Steve Jobs, by describing Jandali in a detailed critical article published briefly on the Internet before it was suddenly removed, as “the father of invention”, given that Jandali’s daughter Mona (Simpson) – Steve’s sister – is also one of the most famous contemporary American novelists and a professor at the renowned University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).
The 79-year-old Jandali has deliberately kept his distance from the media.What is known about him lacks detail, and is both one-sided and a source of curiosity at the same time. Here is his story as Jandali himself told it to Al-Hayat.

Jandali in Syria
Abdul Fattah Jandali was born in 1931 to a traditional family in Homs, Syria. His father did not reach university, but was a self-made millionaire who owned “several entire villages”, according to his son. His father held complete authority over his children, authority not shared by his traditional and “obedient” wife.
“My father was a self-made millionaire who owned extensive areas of land which included entire villages,” Jandali said. “He had a strong personality and, in contrast to other parents in our country, my father did not reveal his feelings towards us, but I knew that he loved me because he loved his children and wanted them to get the best university education possible to live a life of better opportunities than he had, because he didn’t have an education. My mother was a traditional Muslim woman who took care of the house and me and my four sisters, but she was conservative, obedient, and a housewife. She didn’t have as important a part in our upbringing and education as my father. Women from my generation had a secondary role in the family structure, and the male was in control.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on advertisers pulling out of TLC's "All-American Muslim" reality TV show:

Lowe’s, the national hardware chain, has pulled commercials from future episodes of “All-American Muslim,” a TLC reality-TV show, after protests by Christian groups.

The Florida Family Association, a Tampa Bay group, has led a campaign urging companies to pull ads on “All-American Muslim.” The FFA contends that 65 of 67 companies it has targeted have pulled their ads, including Bank of America, the Campbell Soup Co., Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffee, McDonalds, Sears, and Wal-Mart.

“’All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.

“The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” the FFA’s letter continues.

It was not clear whether the companies cited by the Florida Family Association, which has also targeted shows like MTV’s “Degrassi,” stopped advertising on “All-American Muslim” because of pressure or for other reasons.

Emails from Home Depot and Sweet’N Low posted on the Florida Family Association’s website suggest the companies had simply bought one commercial spot, and didn’t cancel any commercials.

A spokeswoman for Amway, also cited by the Florida group, denied the company pulled advertising from “All-American Muslim,” and said those reports were “misleading” and “falsely named” Amway.

Lowe’s acknowledged pulling commercials from “All-American Muslim” following consumer complaints, but denied they came from one group.

“We understand the program raised concerns, complaints, or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show,” said Katie Cody, a Lowe’s spokeswoman.

Cody declined to specify whether the complaints were anti-Muslim, and whether Lowe’s advertises on shows with Christian, Jewish, or other religious characters or themes. “It is certainly never Lowe’s intent to alienate anyone,” Cody said.

“Shame on Lowe’s, and shame on every one of these companies if they really did cave in to such bigotry and hatred,” wrote Sheila Musaji, who blogs at If the Florida Family Association and other reports are misrepresenting these companies, she added, “then they need to speak up.”

The first of eight weekly episodes of “All-American Muslim,” which follows five Lebanese families in Dearborn, Mich., premiered on Nov. 13.

A TLC spokeswoman, Laurie Goldberg, said the network could not comment about the alleged advertising defections, but that the show maintained “strong” advertising. “There are no plans to pull the show. The show is going to continue as planned,” said Goldberg.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story of a police training video promoting hatred against Muslims:

Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen: Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying over the White House.

“This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America,” a narrator intones. “A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America. ... This is the war you don’t know about.”

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department.

In January 2011, when news broke that the department had used the film in training, a top police official denied it, then said it had been mistakenly screened “a couple of times” for a few officers.

A year later, police documents obtained under the state’s Freedom of Information Law reveal a different reality: “The Third Jihad,” which includes an interview with Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, was shown, according to internal police reports, “on a continuous loop” for between three months and one year of training.

During that time, at least 1,489 police officers, from lieutenants to detectives to patrol officers, saw the film.
The film posits that there were three jihads: One at the time of Muhammad, a second in the Middle Ages and a third that is under way covertly throughout the West today.

This is, the film claims, “the 1,400-year war.”

How the film came to be used in police training, and even for how long, was not clear. An undated memorandum from the department’s commanding officer for specialized training noted that an employee of the federal Department of Homeland Security handed the DVD to the New York police in January 2010. Since then, this officer said, the video was shown continuously “during the sign-in, medical and administrative orientation process.” A Department of Homeland Security spokesman said it was never used in its curriculum, and might have come from a contractor.

As it turned out, it was police officers who blew the whistle after watching the film. Late in 2010, Mr. Robbins contacted an officer who spoke of his unease with the film; another officer, said Zead Ramadan, the New York president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, talked of seeing it during a training session the previous summer. “The officer was completely offended by it as a Muslim,” Mr. Ramadan said. “It defiled our faith and misrepresented everything we stood for.”

When the news broke about the movie last year, Mr. Browne called it a “wacky film” that had been shown “only a couple of times when officers were filling out paperwork before the actual course work began.”
There is the question of the officers who viewed the movie during training. Mr. Browne said the Police Department had no plans to correct any false impressions the movie might have left behind.

“There’s no plan to contact officers who saw it,” he said, or to “add other programming as a result.”

Salman said...

I liked the answer of a German Muslim scholar when he was asked about terrorism and Islam :
He said :Who started the first world war ? Muslims ?
Who started the second world war ? Muslims ?
Who killed about 20 millions of Aborigines in Australia ? Muslims ??
Who sent the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ? Muslims ??
Who killed more than 100 millions of Indians in North America ? Muslims ??
Who killed more than 50 millions of Indians in south America ? Muslims ??
Who took about 180 millions of African people as slaves and 88% of them died and was thrown in Atlantic ocean ? Muslims ??
No , They weren't Muslims!!!
First of all, You have to define terrorism properly... If a non-Muslim do something is crime. But if a Muslim commit same..he is a terrorist... So first remove this double standard...then
come to the point.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some verses from a Holy Book:

1. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

2. “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ . . . do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

3. “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Q. Are these from the Quran or the Bible?

A. From the Bible. Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18

Riaz Haq said...

Yet another mass shooting in America--this time at Sikh temple where a white supremacist gunman killed Sikhs apparently mistaking them for Muslims.

The subtext to this and similar anti-Sikh violence appears to be the hysterical Islamophobic rhetoric that conflates all Muslims with terrorists and it amounts to outright fearmongering. It must stop to free us all from these kinds of incidents in America. Rather than distancing themselves from fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim, the Sikhs and other minorities as well as the white Christian majority must take a stand against such violence. I applaud Ethan for this timely and well-written piece in this regard.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a excerpt of a Aljazeera story on the acceptance of anti-Muslim bigotry in America:

There's an interesting and rather illuminating thought experiment you can perform when listening to media figures and politicians discuss Muslims. Take the recent interview on Fox News of the author Reza Aslan, where the host interrogated him at length about his religious background, at one point accusing him of having "gone on several programmes while never disclosing [he is] a Muslim".

Or take New Atheist ideologue Sam Harris, who has said "We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim", as well as his counterpart Richard Dawkins who has become famous for asking incisive questions like "Who the hell do these Muslims think they are"?

This is all above-board language in today's popular discourse. But as a simple test try replacing the word "Muslim" with "Jew"; or "Muslim" with "Black" in each of these quotes and see how it sounds in your head. Most likely, it sounds significantly less comfortable, normal, and acceptable than it did just a moment ago.

Indeed, it's difficult to imagine how Harris, Dawkins, or the Fox News host who questioned Aslan about his faith could continue as public figures were they to make the same types comments about any minority group other than Muslims. They would've in all likelihood won broad, well-justified, condemnation and even been drummed out of the public sphere for their frank bigotry.

Perhaps they'd have been taken up as martyrs by the fringe-right where such xenophobic language about Jews and Blacks is still commonplace. Instead they've so far been permitted to continue spreading hatred against one of the few minority communities it is still acceptable to negatively generalise, degrade and menace.
Richard Dawkins recently ignited a minor furor by pointing out that "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge". His defenders rushed to point out that his statement was merely a fact and as such there was nothing bigoted about it whatsoever.

Dawkins declaration also happens to be true when you substitute the word "Hindus", "Blacks" or "Chinese" for Muslims here, but his admirers would have had a harder time defending the same statement made about any of these groups without being tarred as xenophobes.
Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor explained the fallacies behind this crude chauvinism:

Dawkins, as an educated man, should be well aware of the legacy of colonialism and of simple poverty…. When the Nobel Prize was founded in 1901, the vast majority of the world's Muslims lived in countries ruled by foreign powers, and for much of the 20th century Muslims did not have much access to great centres of learning like Cambridge. The ranks of Nobel Prize winners have traditionally been dominated by white, Western men - a reflection of both the economic might of the West in the past century, preferential access to education for that class of people as well as a wonderful intellectual tradition .

The same reasons why Muslims are underrepresented in the halls of Western scientific achievement are also applicable to essentially every other group in the world besides white males living in Western countries. If there's nothing bigoted about saying it about Muslims, Dawkins and his defenders should come out and make the same unqualified and context-free statements about other groups in society whom they see as not stacking up. The fact that they refuse to do so signals that this has little to do with courageously speaking the truth and more about picking out which minorities it is still safe to bash. .....

Riaz Haq said...

Atheist Richard Dawkins has recently disparaged Muslims by pointing out that the entire Muslim world has had fewer Nobels (10) than Cambridge's Trinity College (34). While Dawkins is correct in that assertion, it;s important to recognize that the history of humanity is not just 100 years old. It did not begin with the launch of Nobels in 1901. It stretches much further back. The defining work of Muslims in earlier centuries included development of decimal number system (still called Arabic numerals), Algebra, the idea of algorithms, first camera, fountain pen, etc. In "Lost Discoveries" by Dick Teresi, the author says, "Clearly, the Arabs served as a conduit, but the math laid on the doorstep of Renaissance Europe cannot be attributed solely to ancient Greece. It incorporates the accomplishments of Sumer, Babylonia, Egypt, India, China and the far reaches of the Medieval Islamic world." Teresi by his description of the work done by Copernicus. Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, a Persian Muslim astronomer and mathematician, developed at least one of Copernicus's theorems, now called The Tusi Couple, three hundred years before Copernicus. Copernicus used the theorem without offering any proof or giving credit to al-Tusi. This was pointed out by Kepler, who looked at Copernicus's work before he developed his own elliptical orbits idea.

A second theorem found in Copernican system, called Urdi lemma, was developed by another Muslim scientist Mu'ayyad al-Din al-Urdi, in 1250. Again, Copernicus neither offered proof nor gave credit to al-Urdi. Columbia University's George Saliba believes Copernicus didn't credit him because Muslims were not popular in 16th century Europe, not unlike the situation today.

Riaz Haq said...

Those who embrace Islam tend to do so after years of contact with Muslims. (Ms Lewthwaite reportedly had a close relationship with Muslim neighbours during her youth.) Some, mostly women who make up around two-thirds of new believers in Britain, convert because they want to marry a Muslim. Others are fed up with what they see as the bawdiness of British society. Many speak of seeking a sense of community. Prisons have proven fertile ground for conversions for men. Some worry that those who convert in jail are exposed to more radical strains of Islam; others say that Islam's discipline and structure, along with the support they received from other Muslims, helped them to cope with life inside.

...converts who turn to terrorism, as Ms Lewthwaite is suspected of doing, are rare. Indeed, the vast, peaceable majority may help to bridge the gap between Muslims and others. In Western countries the growth in converts is part of Islam’s transition from an immigrant religion to a home-grown one.

Riaz Haq said...

#US DoD changed rules on beards, turbans under pressure from #Sikhs, not #Muslims. #Islamophobes via @TIMEPolitics

Once again, according to the headlines, the Pentagon has bowed to Islamic demands:

– “Caving to pressure from Muslim groups, the Pentagon has relaxed uniform rules to allow Islamic beards, turbans and hijabs,” Investor’s Business Daily reports.

– “At a time when the U.S. should at the very least be wary of those who openly wear their Islamic radicalism around their face and head—beards for males, hijabs for females—the U.S. Pentagon (of all places) is embracing them in ‘celebration of multiculturalism,’” says Raymond Ibrahim, a self-described “Middle East and Islam expert” in a column headlined The Pentagon’s Bow to Islamic Extremism.

–”As our troops in the combat zone contend with the release of Taliban killers and restrictive rules of engagement, they must contend with an Obama administration cowering to Islamic political correctness at home,” writes Allen West, a former Army officer and congressman, on the Fox News website.

Actually, no.

The Pentagon recently tweaked its rules on facial hair and turbans after years of pressure from members of the Sikh religion, not Muslims.

“The changes come after Sikhs pressed the military to allow members of their faith to grow beards, keep their hair uncut and wear turbans, as required by their faith,” the Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 22, the day the Pentagon announced the change. “In recent years, the military has begun to accommodate the religious requirement of Sikhs and the new directive extends that accommodation more broadly.”

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a NY Post Op Ed by Bill Cosby:

I’m a Christian. But Muslims are misunderstood. Intentionally misunderstood. We should all be more like them. They make sense, especially with their children. There is no other group like the Black Muslims, who put so much effort into teaching children the right things, they don’t smoke, they don’t drink or overindulge in alcohol, they protect their women, they command respect. And what do these other people do?
They complain about them, they criticize them. We’d be a better world if we emulated them. We don’t have to become black Muslims, but we can embrace the things that work.

Riaz Haq said...

ASLAN: Islam doesn't promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you're a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is going to be violent. There are Buddhist -- marauding Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering

women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not. People are violent or peaceful. And that depends on their politics, their social world, the way that they see their communities, the way they see themselves.

CAMEROTA: So, Reza, you don't think that there's anything more -- there's -- the justice system in Muslim countries you don't think is somehow more primitive or subjugates women more than in other countries?

ASLAN: Did you hear what you just said? You said in Muslim countries.

I just told you that, Indonesia, women are absolutely 100 percent equal to men. In Turkey, they have had more female representatives, more female heads of state in Turkey than we have in the United States.

LEMON: Yes, but in Pakistan...


ASLAN: Stop saying things like "Muslim countries."

ASLAN: Stoning and mutilation and those barbaric practices should be condemned and criticized by everyone. The actions of individuals and societies and countries like Iran, like Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia must be condemned, because they don't belong in the 21st century.

But to say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same, as though Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are the same, as though somehow what is happening in the most extreme forms of these repressive countries, these autocratic countries, is representative of what's happening in every other Muslim country, is, frankly -- and I use this word seriously -- stupid. So let's stop doing that.

LEMON: OK, Reza. Let's -- I want you to listen to Benjamin Netanyahu again. This is actually the one I wanted you to hear. ASLAN: Yes, the ISIS.


NETANYAHU: But our hopes and the world's hopes for peace are in danger, because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march. It's not militants. It's not Islam. It's militant Islam. And, typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one.


LEMON: He's making a clear distinction there. He says it's not militants, it's not Islam; it's militant Islam. Do you understand his distinction there? Is he correct?

ASLAN: Well, he's correct in talking about militant Islam being a problem.

He is absolutely incorrect in talking about ISIS equaling Hamas. That's just ridiculous. No one takes him seriously when he says things like that. And, frankly, it's precisely why, under his leadership, Israel has become so incredibly isolated from the rest of the global community.

Those kinds of statements are illogical, they're irrational, they're so obviously propagandistic. In fact, he went so far as to then bring up the Nazis, which has become kind of a verbal tick for him whenever he brings up either Hamas or ISIS.

Again, these kinds of oversimplifications I think only cause more danger. There is a very real problem. ISIS is a problem. Al Qaeda is a problem. These militant Islamic groups like Hamas, like Hezbollah, like the Taliban have to be dealt with. But it doesn't actually help us to deal with them when, instead of talking about rational conflicts, rational criticisms of a particular religion, we instead so easily slip into bigotry by simply painting everyone with a single brush, as we have been doing in this conversation, mind you.

Riaz Haq said...

NY Times Editorial Excerpt on ISIS: "To claim that this savagery is rooted in a certain people or a certain religion is to forget that the great atrocities of our age have been perpetrated on different continents by people professing different ideologies and different religions. Before the Islamic State there was Rwanda, and the Lord’s Resistance Army and the killing fields of Cambodia, and before that, in Europe, the Holocaust"

Riaz Haq said...

Five scary Christopher Columbus quotes that let you celebrate the holiday the right way

1. Conquest: the perfect chaser for expelling Muslims and Jews. You don’t have to be an academic to link Spain’s colonial expansion abroad with its inquisition at home. Columbus made the connection himself. Of course he saw this as a good thing, not a bad one– a killer combo, if you will. He wrote to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain...

YOUR HIGHNESSES, as Catholic Christians and Princes who love the holy Christian faith, and the propagation of it, and who are enemies to the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, resolved to send me, Cristóbal Colon, to the said parts of India to see the said princes … with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith …. Thus, after having turned out all the Jews from all your kingdoms and lordships … your Highnesses gave orders to me that with a sufficient fleet I should go to the said parts of India …. I shall forget sleep, and shall work at the business of navigation, so that the service is performed.
2. These Natives are so nice, we’d be crazy not to enslave them! This excerpt from Columbus’ diary describes the Arawak people who greeted him and his men:

They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
3. I was right about how easy that whole subjugation thing would be! In another letter to King Ferdinand, Columbus wrote

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable.
4. Rape! Columbus was such a mensch, he would let his men do whatever they wanted with the natives they captured. One of his men and a childhood friend of Columbus, Michele da Cuneo, describes in a letter how he raped a native woman:

While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores.
5. Not so Christian. But the anecdote captured above was not some isolated incident of cruelty. Ironically, but in no way surprisingly, the Spanish who came to save the “heathens” from their idolatry, weren’t very Christ-like in their behavior. In his book The Devastation of the Indies. Bartolome de las Casas, the priest who accompanied Columbus on his conquest of Cuba, detailed the abuse and murder of the native population:

5. Not so Christian. But the anecdote captured above was not some isolated incident of cruelty. Ironically, but in no way surprisingly, the Spanish who came to save the “heathens” from their idolatry, weren’t very Christ-like in their behavior. ..

Riaz Haq said...

Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.
As for political violence, people of Christian heritage in the twentieth century polished off tens of millions of people in the two world wars and colonial repression. This massive carnage did not occur because European Christians are worse than or different from other human beings, but because they were the first to industrialize war and pursue a national model. Sometimes it is argued that they did not act in the name of religion but of nationalism. But, really, how naive. Religion and nationalism are closely intertwined. The British monarch is the head of the Church of England, and that still meant something in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. The Swedish church is a national church. Spain? Was it really unconnected to Catholicism? Did the Church and Francisco Franco’s feelings toward it play no role in the Civil War? And what’s sauce for the goose: much Muslim violence is driven by forms of modern nationalism, too.
I don’t figure that Muslims killed more than a 2 million people or so in political violence in the entire twentieth century, and that mainly in the Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 and the Soviet and post-Soviet wars in Afghanistan, for which Europeans bear some blame.
Compare that to the Christian European tally of, oh, lets say 100 million (16 million in WW I, 60 million in WW II– though some of those were attributable to Buddhists in Asia– and millions more in colonial wars.)

Belgium– yes, the Belgium of strawberry beer and quaint Gravensteen castle– conquered the Congo and is estimated to have killed off half of its inhabitants over time, some 8 million people at least.
Or, between 1916-1930 Tsarist Russian and then Soviet forces — facing the revolt of Central Asians trying to throw off Christian (and then Marxist), European rule — Russian forces killed an estimated 1.5 million people. Two boys brought up in or born in one of those territories (Kyrgyzstan) just killed 4 people and wounded others critically. That is horrible, but no one, whether in Russia or in Europe or in North America has the slightest idea that Central Asians were mass-murdered during WW I and before and after, and looted of much of their wealth. Russia when it brutally conquered and ruled the Caucasus and Central Asia was an Eastern Orthodox, Christian empire (and seems to be reemerging as one!).
Then, between half a million and a million Algerians died in that country’s war of independence from France, 1954-1962, at a time when the population was only 11 million!
I could go on and on. Everywhere you dig in European colonialism in Afro-Asia, there are bodies. Lots of bodies.

Riaz Haq said...

Fear, Inc. 2.0: As Anti-Muslim Incidents Continue, Report Exposes Funders, Pundits of Islamophobia

As a federal inquiry begins in the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina and an Islamic center in Houston, Texas, was intentionally set on fire Friday, we look at a new report that exposes the people who fund and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. The investigation by the Center for American Progress is called "Fear, Inc. 2.0, The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America," an update of a 2011 report. We are joined by the report’s co-author, Yasmine Taeb, Islamophobia project manager at the Center for American Progress.

Image Credit:

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: As a federal inquiry begins in the killing of three Muslim students in North Carolina and an Islamic center in Houston, Texas, burns down in a fire still under investigation, we turn now to a new report that exposes the people who fund and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. The investigation by the Center for American Progress is called, quote, "Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America."

NARRATOR: This is how the Islamophobia network operates. A group of foundations and donors provides the money—to date, more than $57 million. That money is given to a selection of tightly knit organizations that rely heavily on a handful of so-called experts that orchestrate misinformation about Islam. That misinformation then spreads to a larger network of activists, politicians, media and more, creating an echo chamber around the false idea that Islam is a violent religion.
MATT DUSS: And I think defining Islam writ large as a threat, as many in the Islamophobia network do, is simply wrong and will lead to bad policy.
NARRATOR: The Islamophobia network has real consequences for Muslim Americans. There’s been a nationwide push for laws targeting Muslims. In New York City, the NYPD conducted a spying program that covertly monitored and mapped the city’s Muslim communities. And in Boston, a Muslim doctor was assaulted after the Boston Marathon bombings.
AMY GOODMAN: This new report is an update on a 2011 investigation we covered here on Democracy Now!. For more, we’re joined from Washington, D.C., by Yasmine Taeb. She is co-author of "Fear, Inc. 2.0.: The Islamophobia Network’s Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America" and the Islamophobia project manager at the Center for American Progress. Last week, she wrote an article headlined "Connecting the Dots: The North Carolina Murders and Anti-Muslim Hysteria." She is also an attorney specializing in national security.

Riaz Haq said...

In 1807, American readers were titillated by a potboiler entitled “History of the captivity and sufferings of Mrs. Maria Martin.” Its salacious story was summed up by its pithy subtitle: “Who was six years a slave in Algiers, two of which she was confined in a dark and dismal dungeon, loaded with irons for refusing to comply with the brutal request of a Turkish officer.”

We often forget that Americans have been thinking about Islam for centuries. In the republic’s early days, Muslims not only accounted for a large part of the enslaved labor force but also often appeared in stories as fearful figures in far-off places—dark hazards to American virtue. These old images help illuminate today’s American debates about Islam.

In the early republic, popular accounts of “Mohammedanism” were largely limited to tales of the capture and enslavement of Americans in Muslim lands. Narratives like Mrs. Maria Martin’s joined fears of North African pirates with titillating plots of kidnapping. They echoed the era’s best-selling accounts of colonists trapped by American Indians.

As the 19th century progressed, some abolitionists began to argue that Islam had things to teach Christianity. Slavery’s foes called slave owners in Muslim lands more fair than their U.S. counterparts.

In 1810, for instance, the New Hampshire Patriot ran a story called “Mohammedan Forbearance,” depicting a Muslim caliph as a model of faith and morality. Even after a slave spills a dish and scalds him, the caliph treats the slave well and later frees him, quoting the Quran to buttress his mercy. This example, the journal says, “might be usefully imitated by the professors of purer doctrines.”

Islam was deployed here as a setting for a morally instructive yarn that sought at once to enlighten and shame its audience. If a Muslim could heed his supposedly lesser religion’s call to free slaves and improve their lot, how could Christians—even if they disdained Islam—not do likewise?

The notion that slavery governed by Islam was more humane than slavery governed by the Gospel was no doubt a fantasy—but a durable one. Seven years later, the Connecticut Courant published a report called “Treatment of Negro Slaves in Morocco,” calling for Christians to learn moral virtues from Muslims. The abolitionists behind the report didn’t deny that many Muslims were slave owners and traders, but they argued that those who prayed to Allah often treated their captives better than did those who prayed to Christ. “The more intelligent [slaves] learn to read and write” and “acquire a partial knowledge of the Koran,” the Courant claimed of slaves in Islamic lands. Their “master exults in having converted an infidel”—and then, like the Patriot’s caliph, sets such slaves free.

Such kid-glove treatment of Islam in the press soon disappeared—due in part, perhaps, to widespread fears from an 1835 Muslim-led slave revolt in the Brazilian city of Bahia, which riveted Americans even outside the slave states. A Massachusetts report was typically breathless: “On the morning of the 25th of January the whole city of Bahia was thrown into a state of the greatest excitement in consequence of an insurrection of the slaves…It was by far the best planned and most extensive rising ever contemplated by those unfortunate beings.”

Later called the Malê rebellion—from the Yoruba word for Muslim—this slave uprising was a religious battle waged by Muslims against Christian slavery. Many of the dead were found wearing protective amulets made of leather pouches, containing slips of paper upon which were inscribed Quranic verses. It was Christian slaveholders’ worst nightmare—a potential holy war on every plantation....

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents 150 victims of American drones and was twice denied entry to the U.S. to speak about them, told my Intercept colleague Ryan Devereaux how two of his child clients would likely react to Obama’s “apology” yesterday:

“Today, if Nabila or Zubair or many of the civilian victims, if they are watching on TV the president being so remorseful over the killing of a Westerner, what message is that taking?” The answer, he argued, is “that you do not matter, you are children of a lesser God, and I’m only going to mourn if a Westerner is killed.”

The British-Yemeni journalist Abubakr Al-Shamahi put it succinctly: “It makes me angry that non-Western civilian victims of drone strikes are not given the same recognition by the US administration.” The independent journalist Naheed Mustafa said she was “hugely irritated by the ‘drone strikes have killed good Westerners so now we know there are issues with drones’ stories.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson this morning observed: “It is all too easy to ignore … the dubious morality of the whole enterprise — until the unfortunate victims happen to be Westerners. Only then does ‘collateral damage’ become big news and an occasion for public sorrow.”

This highlights the ugliest propaganda tactic on which the War on Terror centrally depends, one in which the U.S. media is fully complicit: American and Western victims of violence by Muslims are endlessly mourned, while Muslim victims of American and Western violence are completely disappeared.

When there is an attack by a Muslim on Westerners in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Fort Hood or Boston, we are deluged with grief-inducing accounts of the victims. We learn their names and their extinguished life aspirations, see their pictures, hear from their grieving relatives, watch ceremonies honoring their lives and mourning their deaths, launch campaigns to memorialize them. Our side’s victims aren’t just humanized by our media, but are publicly grieved as martyrs.

I happened to be in Canada the week of the shooting at the Parliament in Ottawa, as well as a random attack on two Canadian soldiers days earlier in a parking lot in Southern Quebec, and there was non-stop media coverage of the victims, their families, their lives:

Riaz Haq said...

Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’. Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’? #CharlestonShooting

Police are investigating the shooting of nine African Americans at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston as a hate crime committed by a white man. Unfortunately, it’s not a unique event in American history. Black churches have long been a target of white supremacists who burned and bombed them in an effort to terrorize the black communities that those churches anchored. One of the most egregious terrorist acts in U.S. history was committed against a black church in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963. Four girls were killed when members of the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, a tragedy that ignited the Civil Rights Movement.

But listen to major media outlets and you won’t hear the word “terrorism” used in coverage of Tuesday’s shooting. You won’t hear the white male shooter, identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, described as “a possible terrorist.” And if coverage of recent shootings by white suspects is any indication, he never will be. Instead, the go-to explanation for his actions will be mental illness. He will be humanized and called sick, a victim of mistreatment or inadequate mental health resources. Activist Deray McKesson noted this morning that, while discussing Roof’s motivations, an MSNBC anchor said “we don’t know his mental condition.” That is the power of whiteness in America.

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamic scripture is not the problem, #US should not fund dissident #Muslims like Ayan Hirsi Ali. #Islamophobia

Some Muslims have cited Scripture to justify violence, and some have cited it to justify peace. If Scripture is a constant but the behavior of its followers is not, then one should look elsewhere to explain why some Muslims engage in terrorism. And if Islamic Scripture doesn’t automatically lead to terrorism, then one should not expect the reform of Islam to end terrorism. Indeed, even the ultratextualist followers of the self-proclaimed Islamic State ignore Scripture that is inconvenient for their brutal brand of insurgency.

Consider the Gospels, Scriptures that advocate far less violence than the Koran or the Hebrew Bible. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek. Yet the crusaders murdered thousands in their rampage across the Middle East, and U.S. President George W. Bush, a devout Christian, invaded Iraq without military provocation. Readers may object to these examples, arguing that other factors were at play—but that is exactly the point: Christian Scripture doesn’t always determine the behavior of its followers, and the same goes for Islamic Scripture.


The faulty causal chain is the biggest flaw in Hirsi Ali’s essay, but there are others. Even assuming that the liberal reform of Islam would help reduce terrorism—and indeed, few outsiders would complain if the majority of Muslims decided that some of the harsher passages of their Scriptures weren’t relevant to modern life—the picture Hirsi Ali paints of lonely Muslim dissidents trying to start an Islamic reformation is not accurate. A liberal reformation of Islam has been ongoing for two centuries; the problem is that it has faced some stiff competition.

As with the Protestant Reformation, there is a conservative reform movement in Islam today that competes with the liberal reformers. Foremost among the conservatives are the ultraconservative Salafists—Islam’s Puritans. They want to scrape off all the foreign accretions, such as Greek philosophy, that have attached themselves to Islam over the centuries and go back to a supposedly pure version of the faith. One big reason the conservative reformers have won the day so far is that some governments, especially the wealthy states of the Persian Gulf, have sponsored the ultraconservatives. Because rich Muslim governments have put their thumbs on the conservative side of the scale, Hirsi Ali wants the United States and other Western countries to do the same on the liberal side.

There are many problems with this approach. For one thing, the United States has laws against promoting one set of religious beliefs over another. Before 9/11, the U.S. government refused to fund programs that gave preference to one sect over others or a more tolerant version of a faith over a less tolerant form, although there was some wiggle room for secular programs, such as science education, overseen by religious institutions. Better, officials argued, to promote human rights and freedoms without the trappings of religion. But after the attacks, the U.S. government began to make a few exceptions to this long-standing tradition by funding some Muslim institutions overseas to promote pluralistic versions of Islam. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Indonesia funded a group that put pluralistic messages in religious sermons delivered by women and sponsored a radio show about religion and tolerance. That’s not quite what Hirsi Ali wants—the programs didn’t repudiate parts of Islamic Scripture or seek to reform the religion wholesale—but it’s close.

Riaz Haq said...

#FBI using stings in #ISIS cases. Entrapping young #Muslims? Manufacturing #terror plots? #Islamophobia … via @SFGate

In Rochester, New York, a paid informant went undercover and drove a man suspected of being an Islamic extremist, Emanuel Lutchman, to a Wal-Mart in December to buy a machete, ski masks, zip ties and other supplies for a would-be terrorist attack on New Year’s Eve. Because Lutchman, a mentally ill panhandler, had no money, the informant covered the $40 cost.
The FBI has about 1,000 open investigations into “homegrown violent extremists,” which it defines as Americans motivated by a foreign terrorist group, including the Islamic State, to conduct attacks at home, officials said. They said a “significant number” of cases — hundreds in all — had entailed undercover operations against people suspected of being Islamic extremists, but that the FBI did not have precise numbers.
But court records examined by The Timesindicate that the FBI has used undercover operations with increasing frequency in its Islamic State investigations since the earliest cases emerged in March 2014.
Only about 30 percent of the first few dozen prosecutions through late 2014 appear to have relied on evidence gathered through undercover operations. That number climbed to about 45 percent by early last year, with a string of undercover prosecutions in New York, Minnesota and Illinois. And since February 2015, about 40 of 60 Islamic State prosecutions, or 67 percent, have been based on undercover operations.
Muslim leaders wary
The number of Islamic State prosecutions overall has slowed since January; officials believe a spate of prosecutions late last year may have deterred plotters. But undercover stings have remained the norm. So far this year, eight of the dozen Islamic State prosecutions have relied on undercover operatives, court records indicate.
In the most recent case, prosecutors two weeks ago charged a Bronx man, Sajmir Alimehmeti, 22, with traveling to Europe twice to try to fight with the Islamic State. He met with at least three undercover agents during the FBI’s investigation.
The stings have left many Muslim leaders wary, even as the FBI has sought to build bridges to Muslim Americans. At mosques in Oregon, imams sometimes warn of FBI informants and caution “that we have those among us who are not with us,” said Tom Nelson, a Muslim lawyer in Portland who has represented a number of local men in terrorism-related cases.
His message for his Muslim friends, Nelson said, is blunt.
“Avoid the FBI like the plague,” he said. “They’re definitely not an ally. That’s what the FBI does — they infiltrate.”