Friday, October 2, 2015

US Gun Violence, Islamophobia and Terrorism

President Barack H. Obama finally asked the questions that many American Muslim victims of Islamophobia have been asking for a long time: How many Americans have been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade?  And how many Americans have died in gun violence.

Here's the exact quote from Obama's speech after yet another mass shooting--this time in rural Oregon:

“I would ask news organizations – because I won’t put these facts forward – have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. “We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

The President's question got the media attention. CNN, among others, compiled the data and put the following graph on its website:

Sources: CDC and US Security Officials Via CNN

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 316,545 people deaths by firearms on U.S. soil from 2004 to 2013. This figure is 1000 times higher than the total deaths of 313 Americans by terrorism at home and abroad in the same period.

Aided by the gun lobby and its conservative supporters, anti-terrorism and Islamophobia have emerged as major new US industries in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 911. Anti-terror industry is worth trillions of dollars. Islamophobia industry, estimated at $200 million, reinforces and promotes the fear of Islam and Muslims for its own gains. With their entrenched vested interests, the growth of these industries has served to distract attention from the 1000X bigger problem of gun violence. The National Rife Association, also know as the gun lobby, has taken full advantage of the situation by buying out the majority of US Congress which opposes even most modest gun safety regulations.

In addition to distracting Americans' attention from growing gun violence, increased spending on Islamophobia is having a significant impact on Americans' perception of Muslim Americans. Results differ by political party, with the majority of Republicans holding negative views of both Arab-Americans and Muslims. Democrats gave Arab-Americans a 30 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 33 percent unfavorable rating, while Republicans gave Arab-Americans a 54 percent unfavorable rating and Muslim-Americans a 63 percent unfavorable rating, according to public opinion survey conducted by Zogby Analytics.

I'm glad to see President Obama finally highlighting the issue of gun violence as the biggest public safety issue in America, far bigger than the issue of terrorism. I hope the President will continue to use his bully pulpit to highlight the problem of gun violence and persuade Americans to not vote for those to US Congress who oppose gun control legislation. I also hope that other individuals, organizations and the mass media will support Mr. Obama's campaign to bring about a sea change in American thinking about gun rights.

 Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Silicon Valley Stands Against Islamophobia

US Gun Violence 

Money is Free Speech in America

King's Hypocrisy

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Saudi Prince Funding Hate in America


Anonymous said...

I think traffic deaths are significantly worse than gun violence.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "I think traffic deaths are significantly worse than gun violence."

First: Let's differentiate between deliberate violence and accidental deaths. Unlike motor vehicles, guns are designed to kill and deliberately used to kill.

Second: A lot of safety laws and regulations govern motor vehicles; Similar effort is needed for guns.

Third: Road fatalities in US are declining because of safety equipment and enforcing laws; gun deaths are rising due to lack of regulation and enforcement.

Syed said...

What good is any article on gun violence without even a mention of the Second Amendment and how any proposed changes in law can work given that?

Riaz Haq said...

Syed: "What good is any article on gun violence without even a mention of the Second Amendment and how any proposed changes in law can work given that?"

Rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are the most basic rights embedded in the US constitution in that order.

No other right is absolute. US Supreme Court has frequently re-interpreted the bill of rights over the last two centuries. It all depends on what the public opinion says on a certain issue.

So the key is what I said in the post: "I hope the President will continue to use his bully pulpit to highlight the problem of gun violence and persuade Americans to not vote for those in US Congress who oppose gun control legislation. I also hope that other individuals, organizations and the mass media will support Mr. Obama's campaign to bring about a sea change in American thinking about gun rights"

Riaz Haq said...

Jury Rules Against Gun Store for Selling Firearm Used to Shoot Cops #GunViolence #OregonShooting … via @TheTakeaway

When a store sells something to someone they shouldn't—a gun, for example—should that store be held responsible for damages caused by that product?

This week, a jury in Milwaukee ruled in favor of two police officers who sued Badger Guns after finding that the store broke the law when it sold a gun to the friend of an 18-year-old man who could not legally buy a gun. The teen paid a 21-year-old acquaintance $40 to accompany him to Badger Guns and purchase the weapon for him. It's a practice known as a "straw purchase"—when an individual knowingly buys a gun for someone who cannot purchase a weapon.

A month later, the teen in question, Julius Burton, shot two police officers—one was left with brain damage; the other was seriously wounded in the face. The jury, which found that Badger Guns had been negligent when it appeared clear Burton's friend was purchasing the weapon for him, ordered the store to pay nearly $6 million in damages to the officers.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls the outcome a “first-of-its-kind verdict,” and gun-control advocates believe the ruling will encourage more victims and lawyers to sue gun stores that make questionable sales.

Riaz Haq said...

India leaving China behind? Not so fast

The ‘bright spot’ of emerging markets promises much but has yet to deliver

The truth may finally be wearing off the old saying that India only ever compares itself with itself. As the Indian economy has proved to be one of the least dim spots in a gloomy emerging market landscape, boasts are multiplying that it is overtaking China as the engine of world expansion. Jayant Sinha, India’s junior finance minister, recently laid down the bold prediction that “in coming days, India will leave China behind as far as growth and development matter”.
Not, as it were, so fast. While India’s short-term macroeconomic performance has put it at a better place in the cycle than most big emerging markets, the longer-term structural problems that have kept it in a lower growth class than China unfortunately persist, as do the political elephant traps awaiting intrepid reformers.

On the face of it, the Indian economy is performing well, and the popularity of Narendra Modi, the prime minister elected on the promise of liberalising reform last year, is holding up. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, has referred to India as a “bright spot” in the slowing global economy. Growth equalled China’s last year at 7.3 per cent, and the IMF predicts India will be the fastest-growing large economy in the world this year.
The reality is less encouraging. For one, the statistics may quite simply be wrong. A new data series for GDP introduced in February did much of the work in raising India’s growth rate near China’s, and the numbers, with a short history and without detailed data to underpin them, sit at odds with other indicators such as industrial production and imports.
Second, the current conjuncture has been delivered by a number of one-off factors. The falling global oil price since late 2014 has benefited India both in holding down inflation and in helping Mr Modi reform public finances by cutting expensive government fuel subsidies without raising the price to consumers.
Third, substantial impediments remain to the challenge of increasing investment, particularly in infrastructure, to unlock India’s potential for competing with east Asian countries for the manufacturing industry currently being priced out of China by rising wages and costs. Growth in manufacturing came to a halt between 2012 and 2014 after several years of expansion, casting severe doubts on its underlying momentum.

Mr Modi’s government insists it will push on with reform but, given the snarl-ups in parliament over the summer, his political space is shrinking. An important test of his government’s political momentum comes next month in the state elections in Bihar. The eastern state has long been one of India’s poorest and, while it has been growing rapidly, it has struggled to expand its manufacturing sector. If Mr Modi’s message of clearing away the impediments to investment does not resonate, it does not bode well for his chances of maintaining momentum into next year.
For the moment, it seems that India will be happy being regarded as a standout in the otherwise disappointing emerging market class. If its cyclical advantage fades and it returns to its familiar sub-China levels of growth, its politicians are unlikely to be so vainglorious.

Riaz Haq said...

Via @NPR: In #ParisAttack's Wake, France Grapples With What It Means To Be French. #Islamophobia in #France

Interview of ex NY Times Paris Correspondent Elaine Sciolino on NPR Fresh Air

If there is a national religion in France it's laïcité, or secularism. ... France is so attached to this republican ideal that over a decade ago, it passed a law forbidding what is called "ostensible signs of religion."

It was basically aimed at Muslims, and it was basically aimed at girls who were wearing headscarves. It caused a complete disruption in the schools. I wrote about it at the time. There were young girls who shaved their heads so that they wouldn't be showing their hair. There was a young girl who started wearing wide bandanas to class, and one of the law-makers said, "We have to have a bandana ban."

It's gotten even worse in recent years, because a few years ago France passed a ban on wearing the full facial coverage by Muslim women in public space, and it was perceived as an anti-Islam move. Where if the French had been more clever they could've just said, "Look, anyone who covers his or her face in public, whether it's with a motorcycle helmet or a ski mask or a facial mask is breaking the law. We have to do this for security reasons; we have to be able to see the faces of people in public space, whether it's a bank or a post office or a governmental building." But Islam has been stigmatized and that is what is so dangerous and troubling.

On anti-Muslim, far right politicians in France

The far right has won in local elections in some small but crucial cities in the south of France. There are some absurd manifestations of some of the things they want to do and have done. For example, some of these mayors have said there are too many kebab shops in France, because kebabs, which are Turkish not even North African Muslim, are not French, so we need to put back our boulangeries and our little French cafes and ban kebab shops from expanding.

Recently there's been a controversy because some of the far right political leaders have called for forcible serving of pork in all public schools. Muslim and Jewish students cannot eat pork. So they're being told, "If you don't want to adhere to our secular republican ideal and what is part of the French cuisine, go to your own private schools."

These attacks were a gift to the far right, wrapped up in a bow before Christmas. This feeds perfectly into the French fear that there's no security on our borders, that immigrants are the enemy, that there aren't enough jobs for "normal" French people so that we have to prevent the other, the alien, the foreigner, from invading our country.

Riaz Haq said...

#US created Islamic extremism:Those blaming #Islam for #ISIS aided Osama bin Laden in ’80s. #ParisAttacks … via @Salon

History takes no prisoners. It shows, with absolute lucidity, that the Islamic extremism ravaging the world today was borne out of the Western foreign policy of yesteryear.

Gore Vidal famously referred to the USA as the United States of Amnesia. The late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai put it a little more delicately, quipping, “One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.”

In order to understand the rise of militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida; in order to wrap our minds around their heinous, abominable attacks on civilians in the U.S., France, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan and many, many more countries, we must rekindle this historical memory.

Where did violent Islamic extremism come from? In the wake of the horrific Paris attacks on Friday, November the 13, this is the question no one is asking — yet it is the most important one of all. If one doesn’t know why a problem emerged, if one cannot find its root, one will never be able to solve and uproot it.

Where did militant Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaida come from? The answer is not as complicated as many make it out to be — but, to understand, we must delve into the history of the Cold War, the historical period lied about in the West perhaps more than any other.

The newspaper noted that bin Laden organized a militia of thousands of foreign fighters from throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and “supported them with weapons and his own construction equipment” in their fight against the USSR in the 1980s. “We beat the Soviet Union,” bin Laden boasted.

The mujahedin, this international Islamic extremist militia organized and headed by bin Laden, is what eventually morphed into both al-Qaida and the Taliban.

“When the history of the Afghan resistance movement is written,” the Independent wrote, “Mr Bin Laden’s own contribution to the mujahedin… may turn out to be a turning point in the recent history of militant fundamentalism.”

Portraying bin Laden in a positive light, less than eight years before he would help mastermind the largest terrorist attack on American soil in decades, the British publication claimed that the “Saudi businessman who recruited mujahedin now uses them for large-scale building projects in Sudan.” In reality, bin Laden was setting the stages for what would be become al-Qaida.

Unheeded warnings
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was blessed with the power of prophecy, but cursed in that no one would ever heed her warnings. Eqbal Ahmad, the late political scientist, historian and expert in the study of terrorism, was a modern-day Cassandra.

In a speech at the University of Colorado, Boulder in October 1998, Ahmad warned that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan would backfire:

“In Islamic history, jihad as an international violent phenomenon had disappeared in the last 400 years, for all practical purposes. It was revived suddenly with American help in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union intervened in Afghanistan, Zia ul-Haq, the [U.S.-backed] military dictator of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, saw an opportunity and launched a jihad there against godless communism. The U.S. saw a God-sent opportunity to mobilize one billion Muslims against what Reagan called the ‘Evil Empire.’

“Money started pouring in. CIA agents starting going all over the Muslim world recruiting people to fight in the great jihad. Bin Laden was one of the early prize recruits. He was not only an Arab. He was also a Saudi. He was not only a Saudi. He was also a multimillionaire, willing to put his own money into the matter. Bin Laden went around recruiting people for the jihad against communism.

Riaz Haq said...

San Bernadino shooting was the 355th mass shootings of the year 2015 in America.

About 400,000 Americans have died from gun violence since 911 in America. There have 355 mass shootings in 2015 so far, all by white gunmen with the exception of 2 this year which were carried out by Muslim gunmen.

Riaz Haq said...

Armed #Oregon #Militia Led By Bundy Family Takes Over #US #Federal Building In Support Of Hammond Ranchers …

An armed militia group has taken control of the headquarters building at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon and intends to stay there for a year, the Oregonian newspaper of Portland reported Saturday. The takeover followed a peaceful protest Saturday in which hundreds of demonstrators gathered in support of two local ranchers who are due to begin a prison sentence Monday.

No one was hurt in the takeover, according to initial reports, and the wildlife refuge center was unoccupied at the time. Militia leaders included Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher and anti-government activist, as well as two of Ammon Bundy's brothers. The exact number of militia members inside the building wasn't immediately clear, though media reports have estimated that at least 150 protesters are inside in support of Steve Hammond and Dwight Hammond Jr.

“The facility has been the tool to do all the tyranny that has been placed upon the Hammonds,” Ammon Bundy told the Oregonian, adding that he would not rule out violence. “We're planning on staying here for years, absolutely. This is not a decision we've made at the last minute.”

Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son Steven, 46, were sentenced to five years in prison in October for illegally setting fires on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property near Diamond, Oregon. Both men already served time for the offense, which involved setting fires that spread to government lands they leased to graze cattle, but another judge ruled that both must go back to prison because their initial sentence was too short.

“Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family,” the Hammonds' lawyer, W. Alan Schroeder, wrote to Harney County Sheriff David Ward, as quoted by U.S. News and World Report.

Residents in the nearby town of Burns have spent days meeting with out-of-state militia leaders, who have also come from Idaho, Montana and elsewhere, in an attempt to prevent the scene from ending in violence.

“We are not coming into your town to shoot it up,” Brandon Curtiss, the self-proclaimed leader of an Idaho militia group, told nervous residents, as quoted by the Oregonian. “We won't fire anything unless we're fired upon.”

Riaz Haq said...

Overreacting to #Terrorism? #BrusselsAttacks #Obama #Trump #Cruz2016 #Islamophobia

Are terrorists more of a threat than slippery bathtubs?

President Obama, er, slipped into hot water when The Atlantic reportedthat he frequently suggests to his staff that fear of terrorism is overblown, with Americans more likely to die from falls in tubs than from attacks by terrorists.

The timing was awkward, coming right before the Brussels bombings, but Obama is roughly right on his facts: 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014 (the most recent years for which I could get figures). Of course, that’s not an argument for relaxing vigilance, for at some point terrorists will graduate from explosives to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons that could be far more devastating than even 9/11. But it is an argument for addressing global challenges a little more rationally.

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.

Our visceral fear of terrorism has repeatedly led us to adopt policies that are expensive and counterproductive, such as the invasion of Iraq. We have ramped up the intelligence community so much that there are now seven times as many Americans with security clearances (4.5 million) as live in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Donald Trump responded to the Brussels attacks with crowd-pleasing calls for torture or barring Muslims that even Republican security experts agree are preposterous.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.

Hansen is an eminent former NASA scientist, but he’s also an outlier in his timing forecasts, and I’m not qualified to judge whether he’s correct. Yet whatever the disagreement about the timeline, there is scientific consensus that emissions on our watch are transforming our globe for 10,000 years to come. As an important analysis in Nature Climate Change put it, “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

To put it another way, this year’s election choices may shape coastlines 10,000 years from now. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have both mocked the idea of human-caused climate change, with Trump suggesting that it is a hoax invented by China to harm the American economy (he now says that last point was a joke).

The upshot is that Brussels survived this week’s terrorist attacks, but it may not survive climate change (much of the city is less than 100 feet above sea level).

Doesn’t it seem prudent to invest in efforts to avert not only shoe bombers but also the drowning of the world’s low-lying countries?


Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, says that the kind of threats that we evolved to deal with are those that are imminent rather than gradual, and those that involve a deliberate bad actor, especially one transgressing our moral code. Explaining our lack of concern for global warming, he noted,“Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, not flags.”

In short, our brains are perfectly evolved for the Pleistocene, but are not as well suited for the risks we face today. If only climate change caused sharp increases in snake populations, then we’d be on top of the problem!

Yet even if our brains sometimes mislead us, they also crown us with the capacity to recognize our flaws and rectify mistakes. So maybe we can adjust for our weaknesses in risk assessment — so that we confront the possible destruction of our planet as if it were every bit as ominous and urgent a threat as, say, a passing garter snake.

Riaz Haq said...

With #Trump as presumptive #GOP nominee, ‘It could get a lot worse for #Muslims in #America’ #Islamophobia

By Dana Milbank Opinion writer May 3 at 5:55 PM
My neighborhood of Chevy Chase is a leafy and peaceful slice of Northwest Washington. But this week, the news here is of a woman assaulted outside the local Starbucks by a Donald Trump supporter, she says — for the sin of being Muslim.

Police on Monday released surveillance video showing a heavyset white woman shouting at, and then pouring a bottle of liquid onto, a woman in a Muslim headscarf seated outside a Starbucks on a recent weeknight. Police are investigating a possible hate crime.

The victim said the attacker called her a “worthless piece of Muslim trash” and a “terrorist.” And the attacker said she was supporting Trump because he would send the Muslims “back to where you came from.”

“She mentioned this man’s name to me as a way of saying he’s going to put all of you out of this country,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, told me Tuesday.

But this is her country. She’s African American, born in Minneapolis, reared in Chicago and now living in the District — where, until now, she never thought she’d have a foul-smelling liquid poured on her for wearing a headscarf.

Asked about a system to register and track Muslims in the United States, Trump said, “I would certainly implement that — absolutely.” He said he would “certainly look at” closing mosques.

He falsely said there were “thousands” cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center from New Jersey, with its “heavy Arab population.”

Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Trump continues at rallies to repeat an apocryphal story about U.S. Gen. John Pershing executing Muslim prisoners in the Philippines decades ago using bullets dipped in pig’s blood.

At a rally, a Trump supporter called President Obama a Muslim and said Muslims are “a problem in this country.” Trump allowed both of those statements to stand.

Trump previously led the “birther” challenge to Obama’s birth certificate and speculated, “Maybe it says he is a Muslim.”

Trump said in a TV interview that “Islam hates us,” and, later asked if that meant all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims, Trump said, “I mean a lot of ’em.”

Muslims have been taunted outside Trump events, and at one event in South Carolina, a woman in a hijab who stood in silent protest was escorted out by police as Trump supporters booed her, chanted Trump’s name and suggested she was a terrorist.

Trump can’t be blamed for everything his followers do. But his ascent has coincided with a rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents to the highest level the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ever found. A sampling from the past two months:

●A self-proclaimed Trump supporter was sentenced in California for making death threats outside a Muslim center and for building pipe bombs.

●Demonstrators claiming to be Trump supporters staged public desecrations of the Koran in Atlanta and Phoenix.

●A man chanting Trump slogans at a gas station shouted “brown trash” and other epithets at a Muslim who is student-body vice president at Wichita State University in Kansas. (The Trump backer and a friend of the Muslim student were charged for fighting.)

●A man in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., was captured on cellphone video chanting “Trump!” and yelling “Kill the Muslims.”

●And here in Washington, my Chevy Chase neighbor was attacked on her way home from her county-government job when she stopped outside Starbucks to use the WiFi. She says she told the responding officers that her attacker had invoked Trump, but that detail apparently didn’t make the police report.

Riaz Haq said...

Citizen Khan. Zarif Khan: #American #Muslim Hot Tamale King Louie of #Wyoming. #Islamophobia … via @kathrynschulz

The events that propelled him there took place in the town of Gillette, ninety minutes southeast of Sheridan. Situated in the stark center of Wyoming’s energy-rich but otherwise empty Powder River Basin, Gillette grew up around wildcat wells and coal mines—dry as a bone except in its saloons, prone to spontaneous combustion from the underground fires burning perpetually beneath it. Because its economy is tied to the energy industry, it is subject to an endless cycle of boom and bust, and to a ballooning population during the good years. The pattern of social problems that attend that kind of rapid population growth—increased crime, higher divorce rates, lower school attendance, more mental-health issues—has been known, since the nineteen-seventies, as Gillette Syndrome. Today, the town consists of three interstate exits’ worth of tract housing and fast food, surrounded by open-pit mines and pinned to the map by oil rigs. Signs on the highway warn about the fifty-mile-per-hour winds.

A couple of hundred Muslims live in northeastern Wyoming, and last fall some of them pooled their money to buy a one-story house at the end of Gillette’s Country Club Road, just outside a development called Country Club Estates, in one of the nicer neighborhoods in town. They placed a sign at the end of the driveway, laid prayer rugs on top of the wall-to-wall carpeting, and began meeting there for Friday worship—making it, in function if not in form, the third mosque in the state.

Most locals reacted to this development with indifference or neighborly interest, if they reacted at all. But a small number formed a group called Stop Islam in Gillette to protest the mosque; to them, the Muslims it served were unwelcome newcomers to Wyoming, at best a menace to the state’s cultural traditions and at worst incipient jihadis. When those protests darkened into threats, the local police got involved, as did the F.B.I.

Whatever their politics, many outsiders, on hearing about Stop Islam in Gillette, shared at least one of its sentiments: a measure of surprise that a Muslim community existed in such a remote corner of the country. Wyoming is geographically huge—you could fit all of New England inside it, then throw in Hawaii and Maryland for good measure—but it is the least populous state in the Union; under six hundred thousand people live there, fewer than in Louisville, Kentucky. Its Muslim population is correspondingly tiny—perhaps seven or eight hundred people.

Contrary to the claims of Stop Islam in Gillette, however, the Muslims who established the mosque are not new to the region. Together with some twenty per cent of all Muslims in Wyoming, they trace their presence back more than a hundred years, to 1909, when a young man named Zarif Khan immigrated to the American frontier. Born around 1887, Khan came from a little village called Bara, not far from the Khyber Pass, in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His parents were poor, and the region was politically unstable. Khan’s childhood would have been marked by privation and conflict—if he had any childhood to speak of. Family legend has it that he was just twelve when he left.

What he did next nobody knows, but by September 3, 1907, he had got himself a thousand miles south, to Bombay, where he boarded a ship called the Peno. Eight weeks later, on October 28th, he arrived in Seattle. From there, he struck out for the interior, apparently living for a while in Deadwood, South Dakota, and the nearby towns of Lead and Spearfish before crossing the border into Wyoming. Once there, he settled in Sheridan, which is where he made a name for himself, literally: as Hot Tamale Louie—beloved Mexican-food vender, Afghan immigrant, and patriarch of Wyoming’s now besieged Muslim population.

Riaz Haq said...

Father of #Orlando shooter hosted political show on #Afghanistan-#Pakistan issues, #OrlandoShooting via Reuters

Omar Khatab, the owner of the California-based satellite channel Payam-e-Afghan, said in an interview that Seddique Mateen occasionally bought time on his channel to broadcast a show called "Durand Jirga," which focused in part on the disputed Durand Line, the frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan demarcated by the Indian subcontinent's former British rulers.


Khatab said Seddique Mateen's political views were largely anti-Pakistan. A YouTube channel under Mateen's name had more than 100 videos posted between 2012 and 2015.

One of the videos refers to the "killer ISI" - the acronym for Pakistan's main military-run intelligence service - and says the agency is the "creator and father of the world's terrorism."

U.S. officials have accused Pakistani intelligence of backing violence against U.S. targets in Afghanistan, although Pakistan denies the allegations.

U.S. officials cautioned that they had no immediate evidence of any direct connection between the Florida attack and Islamic State or other foreign extremist group, nor had they uncovered any contacts between Omar Mateen and any such group.

Fifty-three people were wounded in the rampage. It was the deadliest single U.S. mass shooting incident, eclipsing the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech university.

Seddique Mateen interviewed Ghani in January 2014, eight months before Ghani became president, according to a video posted on his YouTube channel. The interview touched on economic development and youth unemployment in Afghanistan. Khatab said Mateen conducted the interview in Kabul and brought it to California for broadcast.

During the interview Mateen praised Ghani but by the following year had changed his views, apparently angered by Ghani's outreach to Pakistan in his bid to start peace talks with the Taliban. In a 2015 video, Mateen declared his own candidacy for the Afghan presidency, even though there was no election at that time.

In the videos, he wears a Western suit and tie and speaks Dari, a dialect of Persian spoken in northern Afghanistan. He harshly criticizes Ghani's policies both at home and abroad and lashes out at Pakistan, its intelligence service, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and some senior Afghan government officials and jihadist figures.

In a February video on his Facebook page, he addresses Taliban members and castigates them for being the "servants" of the ISI.

In a June 11 video posted on Facebook, Mateen is dressed in military fatigues and says Afghanistan must "punish the traitors."

"I wish a hero one day removes Ashraf Ghani's turban and slaps this crazy man," he said in the video. "This traitor has rolled up his sleeves to destroy our country."

On Twitter, Ghani condemned the Orlando attack and called it an "act of terror."

Riaz Haq said...

Deadliest mass shootings in US: #Orlando 50, #Virginia Tech 32, #Newtown 27, #Killeen 23. …

The attack at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. One out of every three people at the Pulse nightclub was killed or injured after the shooter, Omar Mateen, opened fire.

The Nightclub Was Loud and Crowded

Mass shooting fatalities are often higher in large, crowded spaces that are somewhat confined, making it hard for people to escape, said J. Pete Blair, a Texas State University professor who trains law enforcement officers to respond to shooters. The noise may have also played a factor: When Mr. Mateen started shooting, one patron said he first thought the gunfire was firecrackers; others said they thought it was part of the music. “Without available avenues of egress, it seems like they didn’t have an easy way of getting out,” Mr. Blair said.

The Shooter Was at the
Nightclub for Three Hours

The police did not stop the gunman until three hours after Mr. Mateen started shooting, an unusually long time, Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama who studies mass shootings, said. At some point after the first shots were fired, Mr. Mateen went outside the club and later returned, creating “a hostage situation,” Chief John Mina of the Orlando police said. It is unknown if the shooter killed more people as the police prepared for a confrontation.

The amount of time it takes law enforcement to respond can be a strong predictor of the number of fatalities, Mr. Lankford said. He pointed to the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, when police needed more than three hours to reach injured people, resulting in the deaths of some who desperately needed medical assistance.

The Shooter Had a Powerful Rifle
and High-Capacity Magazines

The gunman was armed with an AR-15-type semiautomatic rifle and a 9 millimeter handgun, Chief Mina said.

An example of an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. The make and model of the rifle has not been released.
AR-15s, which were first developed for the military and used extensively in the Vietnam War, are widely owned by assault-rifle enthusiasts. The rifle, which can rapidly fire multiple high-velocity rounds, has been used in a number of mass shootings, including those in Aurora, Colo.; Newtown, Conn.; and San Bernardino, Calif.

The rifle is legal to buy in most states, including Florida. In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, that prohibited manufacturing the AR-15 for civilian sale with large-capacity magazines, bayonets or pistol grips.

In a video taken by a bystander at the Orlando shooting, more than 20 rounds can be heard being fired in rapid succession. Like most states, Florida does not restrict the capacity of magazines. State bans have been ineffective: purchasers can cross state lines and AR-15s with limited-capacity magazines can easily be modified to accept larger magazines. The shooters in San Bernardino used high-capacity magazines despite California’s ban on semiautomatic rifles with magazines of more than 10 bullets.

The Orlando Shooting Is the
Third-Highest Known Toll

Only two mass shootings are known to have killed more people: a 2011 attack at a Norwegian summer camp, and shootings by a lone gunman in South Korea in 1982, according to research by Mr. Lankford. The research includes attacks dating back to a massacre at the University of Texas in 1966 that is often considered the first modern mass shooting.

Riaz Haq said...

In #Orlando, Dr. Ibrahim, a Son of a #Muslim Immigrant Rushed to Heal Pain Caused by Another. #OrlandoShooting

When Dr. Joseph Ibrahim heard that the attack at the Pulse nightclub may have been linked to terrorism, he caught himself fearing any kind of link to his own Muslim, Middle-Eastern roots.

Please, he thought, don’t let Ibrahim appear anywhere in the gunman’s name.

Dr. Ibrahim — who heads the trauma unit at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and generally goes by Joey — had already spent hours repairing gunshot wounds in the bodies of Latino men and women, many of whom were the sons and daughters of immigrants, too.

Yanked from bed by a phone call at 2:15 a.m., he was doing what he had trained for. His old friends from his hometown in Tennessee were pulling for him. But it was hard to escape the pairing: the son of one Muslim immigrant from the Middle East trying to save the lives of mostly gay Latinos whom another son of Muslim immigrants tried to kill — all in a chunk of verdant Florida built on Disney joy.

“Maybe we’re a target because of our diversity and tolerance,” Dr. Ibrahim said after a morning of surgery on Wednesday. “Here you constantly see people from all over the world, and it’s wonderful.”

This is the Orlando that the shooting tore right through, a place that sees itself as a model of diversity, at ease with difference, with room for everyone and every ride. Even now, as the conversation outside Orlando zeros in on “radical Islam,” this city is awash in American flags, vigils with Republican and Democratic politicians trying to speak Spanish, and signs on churches, strip clubs, and restaurants with two catchphrases: “Orlando Strong” and “Orlando United.”

It is hardly a perfect union, one without pain, or frustration. Some Latinos have wondered why the shooting that left 49 people dead has become a gay-rights touchstone and not a Latino one. Some immigrants with loved ones among the dead have collapsed in the arms of local leaders, desperate for financial help, wishing for more of the support found in the larger Puerto Rican community.

There is some confusion too; many countries in the hemisphere are still trying to figure out if any of their citizens were killed, a challenge since many of the victims had United States citizenship even if they were originally from somewhere else.

But all of these issues — the intersecting identities, the struggles for recognition — only make more obvious just how much this most American of places has rapidly changed.

Walt Disney had the vision to cobble together a resort with secret land deals in a quiet cow town of lakes and mosquitoes. Now, Orlando and its suburbs in Orange County point to where this country is headed when it comes to demographics, and the degree to which immigrants and their offspring are woven into every aspect of American life.

Riaz Haq said...

In #Orlando, Dr. Ibrahim, a Son of a #Muslim Immigrant Rushed to Heal Pain Caused by Another. #OrlandoShooting

Dr. Ibrahim, who is 39 and speaks with a drip of Tennessee drawl, said that as he worked on victim after victim early Sunday morning, he was surrounded (as usual) by colleagues with ties to other parts of the world — nurses of Asian and Hispanic descent, technicians from Jamaica, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“We worked side by side, without question,” he said.

In the days that followed, he said, he heard many arguments for “taking the country back” and keeping out Muslims. It was mostly on talk radio, as he drove to work for surgery. And while the hosts focused on Mr. Mateen’s father, Dr. Ibrahim contemplated his own dad, an immigrant from Egypt, who married an American and practiced medicine in Tennessee.

“It’s difficult,” Dr. Ibrahim said, noting that he would not be here if that kind of policy had been in place when his father wanted to leave Cairo. “I just have to believe that those people have not met the right individual. There are a lot of people who never meet Muslims who are kind, gentle and giving.”

Stephen Miller, a policy adviser to Donald J. Trump, said Mr. Trump — who has spent months condemning immigrants from Mexico and the Muslim world — simply wants to “select immigrants who support, defend and uphold our values.”

Mr. Miller described Mr. Trump’s proposal to stop all immigration from Muslim countries until a broad security assessment could be put in place as “about as mainstream and common sense as it gets.”

But Dr. Ibrahim said what he heard was mostly an appeal to ignorance and fear. He said he moved to Orlando from Tennessee in part so his twin boys, who are 11, could grow up around different kinds of people. Like their father, whose looks make him hard to place in terms of ethnicity, they represent a mixture of cultures: Their mother is white, Anglo in the lexicon of Orlando, born and raised in Tennessee.

But as a family with Ibrahim for a last name, they are still sometimes seen as outsiders. Dr. Ibrahim said his wife was once denied a loan because her name was confused with someone on a European terror watch list.

He and his wife also struggled with whether to continue the tradition, common in the Middle East, of passing on his second name, Abdellatif, to their oldest son. In the end, they went for it: Abdellatif now links grandfather, father and son, three generations of Egyptian-Americans.

Dr. Ibrahim is hoping that he won’t regret it. “Hopefully by the time he’s of age,” he said, “people will be even more tolerant.”

Riaz Haq said...

Funding #Islamophobia : $206m went to promoting 'hatred' agaist #American #Muslims, report finds. #Trump

Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of California Berkeley report names 74 groups they say contributed to Islamophobia in the US

Inciting hate toward American Muslims and Islam has become a multimillion-dollar business, according to a report released on Monday.

Released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) and University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, the report names 74 groups it says contribute in some way to Islamophobia in the US. Of those groups, it says, the primary purpose of 33 “is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims”.

The core group, which includes the Abstraction Fund, Clarion Project, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Middle East Forum, American Freedom Law Center, Center for Security Policy, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Jihad Watch and Act! for America, had access to almost $206m of funding between 2008 and 2013, the report said.

Corey Saylor, author of the report and director of Cair’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, said: “The hate that these groups are funding and inciting is having real consequences like attacks on mosques all over the country and new laws discriminating against Muslims in America.”

Saylor added that the Washington-based Center for Security Policy and Act! for America have the most impact, because they are trying to push their anti-Muslim rhetoric beyond their formerly fringe following.

Two groups on the list, the Center for Security Policy and the David Horowitz Freedom Center, have given awards of recognition to Jeff Sessions, a US senator from Alabama who chairs Trump’s national security advisory committee and is a possible vice-presidential pick.

On Monday, the headline on the David Horowitz Freedom Center website was “Muslim privilege killed 49 people in Orlando”, a reference to the mass shooting on 12 June in an Orlando LGBT nightclub by Omar Mateen, a Muslim American from Port St Lucie, Florida.

Two other Trump foreign policy advisers have ties to groups named in the Cair-UCB report. The Center for Security Policy lists Joseph Schmitz as a senior fellow; Walid Phares reportedly served on the board of Act! for America.

The Guardian contacted Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of Act! for America, and the Center for Security Policy, which is led by Frank Gaffney, who advised Ted Cruz on national security during the Texas senator’s presidential campaign. Neither group responded immediately.

The Trump campaign and Sessions’ Senate office also did not respond to requests for comment.

Act! for America Education runs the Thin Blue Line Project, a password-protected database of information about Muslim communities in the US. According to the group’s website, the project “provides educational and informational content about issues relating to national security and terrorism and how the call to Jihad is accelerating homegrown terrorism”.
In a 2 June article, Stephen Piggott of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that the Thin Blue Line Project’s key component is a “Radicalization Map Locator … which lists the addresses of every Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the country as well as a number of mosques and Islamic institutions – all listed as suspected national security concerns”.

The Cair-UCB report also tracks anti-Islam bills, which it says have become law in 10 states, and 78 recorded incidents in 2015 in which mosques were targeted. Saylor said this was the highest yearly number of attacks on mosques since Cair started tracking in 2009.

Riaz Haq said...

"White prejudice and discrimination keep the Negro low in standards of living, health, education, manners, and morals. This, in turn, gives support to white prejudice. White prejudice and negro standards thus mutually ‘cause’ each other." (Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 1944)

Study Reveals Americans' Subconscious Racial Biases

A Swedish researcher found in 2010 that implicit bias against Muslims correlated strongly with the way hiring managers decided to interview either Swedes or Arabs for a position.

"Most of these implicit racial biases are consequence of subtle messages seen in the media, popular culture, that suggest one group is good, and another group is bad-- associating one group with crime, another group with accomplishment," Rich Morin, senior editor at Pew, told NBC News.

The highest level of implicit racial preference revealed in the entire study was among whites being tested for bias against Asian Americans, with 50% of whites tested in the study revealing a subconscious preference for other whites over Asians. Thirty percent of whites had no implicit bias, and 19% of whites had a subconscious preference for Asians.

The second highest level of implicit racial preference was among whites tested for bias against blacks, with 48% of whites recorded as having a subconscious preference for other whites over blacks. Twenty-seven percent of whites tested had no preference between whites and blacks, and 25% of whites preferred blacks.

A higher percentage of biracial black-white adults and biracial Asian-white adults displayed implicit bias in favor of whites, when compared to bias in favor of their respective minority group.

Riaz Haq said...

Are All #Terrorists #Muslims? It’s Not Even Close. #Islamophobia #ModiToadies #BJP #Trump via @thedailybeast

So here are some statistics for those interested. Let’s start with Europe. Want to guess what percent of the terrorist attacks there were committed by Muslims over the past five years? Wrong. That is, unless you said less than 2 percent.
As Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report released last year, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. For example, in 2013, there were 152 terror attacks in Europe. Only two of them were “religiously motivated,” while 84 were predicated upon ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs.
We are talking about groups like France’s FLNC, which advocates an independent nation for the island of Corsica. In December 2013, FLNC terrorists carried out simultaneous rocket attacks against police stations in two French cities. And in Greece in late 2013, the left-wing Militant Popular Revolutionary Forces shot and killed two members of the right-wing political party Golden Dawn. While over in Italy, the anarchist group FAI engaged in numerous terror attacks including sending a bomb to a journalist. And the list goes on and on.
Have you heard of these incidents? Probably not. But if Muslims had committed them do you think you our media would’ve covered it? No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

Even after one of the worst terror attacks ever in Europe in 2011, when Anders Breivik slaughtered 77 people in Norway to further his anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and pro-“Christian Europe” agenda as he stated in his manifesto, how much press did we see in the United States? Yes, it was covered, but not the way we see when a Muslim terrorist is involved. Plus we didn’t see terrorism experts fill the cable news sphere asking how we can stop future Christian terrorists. In fact, even the suggestion that Breivik was a “Christian terrorist” was met with outrage by many, including Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
Have you heard about the Buddhist terrorists? Well, extremist Buddhists have killed many Muslim civilians in Burma, and just a few months ago in Sri Lanka, some went on a violent rampage burning down Muslim homes and businesses and slaughtering four Muslims.
Or what about the (dare I mention them) Jewish terrorists? Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.
Back in the United States, the percentage of terror attacks committed by Muslims is almost as miniscule as in Europe. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.
And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).
In fact in 2013, it was actually more likely Americans would be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. In that year, three Americans were killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. How many people did toddlers kill in 2013? Five, all by accidentally shooting a gun.

Riaz Haq said...

Houston's #Indian-#American #Hindu lawyer Nathan Desai shoots nine, is killed by police via @Reuters

DeSai, who received his law degree from the University of Tulsa in 1998, started a small law firm but his former law partner, Ken McDaniel, said they closed it about six months ago.

McDaniel told local television the shooting was "out of character" for DeSai.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in Cuba to develop trade relations, told reporters, "The motivation appears to be a lawyer whose relationship with his law firm went bad."

Prakash DeSai told ABC television's Houston affiliate that his son drove a black Porsche, and that he was "upset about his law practice not going well" and money woes.

Police said the suspect was dressed in a military-style uniform and that military paraphernalia that included Nazi items was found in his possession.

The police bomb squad secured the shooter's car, which contained more than 2,600 rounds of ammunition. Police said a handgun was found on the suspect's body and a rifle was found in this car.

Riaz Haq said...

#Houston's #Indian-#American shooter wore #Nazi emblems, drove a Porsche, carried 2,600 rounds of ammo, police say

A man who injured nine people in a shooting rampage in Houston on Monday was wearing military clothes and Nazi emblems during the attack, and was carrying nearly 2,600 rounds of ammunition inside a Porsche convertible parked at the scene, authorities said.

The gunman, identified by local media as Nathan DeSai, 46, was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on morning commuters near a strip mall in a mostly residential neighborhood west of downtown. Police did not publicly name DeSai as the shooter, but the Houston Chronicle and KTRK reported that they had confirmed his identity with officials.

The shooter was carrying a .45-caliber handgun and wearing “military-style apparel” during the shooting, with vintage Nazi emblems on his clothes and “on his personal effects,” police said in a news briefing Monday afternoon. A search of his apartment, which is several blocks from the scene, turned up similar military memorabilia going back to the Civil War, police said.

A bomb squad that searched his black Porsche convertible uncovered a Thompson submachine gun — commonly known as a Tommy gun — and nearly 2,600 rounds of live ammunition, according to police, who said he purchased both of his firearms legally. Police also found a sheathed knife, a notebook with a Nazi symbol and 75 spent shell casings on the scene.

Riaz Haq said...

#Muslim family of award-winning data scientist flees US for #Pakistan after youngest son, 7, bullied via @MailOnline

The Muslim family of an award-winning computer data scientist decided to leave the United States after the latest incident of Islamophobia involved the youngest child being repeatedly bullied.
Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, a two-time Fulbright Scholar who uses data to prevent terror attacks, moved his family across the world to Pakistan over the weekend after sharing a heartbreaking post on Facebook featuring his 7-year-old son with a sling on his arm after he was attacked by bullies in Cary, North Carolina.
'Welcome to the United States of America of Donald Trump,' he wrote as a caption for the October 8 post on the social media site.
'Meet my son Abdul Aziz. He is in grade 1, bullied and beaten by his own classmates in school bus for being a Muslim'.
Usmani's wife, Binish Bhagwanee, told him that their son walked off the school bus traumatized, bruised and battered after a classmate allegedly tried to force him to eat food that wasn't halal.
When the first grader refused, he claims that five students ganged up on him and made fun of his name while punching him in the face and kicking him in the stomach.

Read more:
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Riaz Haq said...

Stats Show #whitesupremacy is a Bigger Threat to #America Than Radical #Muslims. #Trump #terrorism … via @YahooNews

Despite what Donald Trump and many other politicians have told you, the major threat to America isn’t Muslim extremism. In fact, statistics show that the real danger lies with domestic extremists who aren’t of the Muslim faith.

The New York Times reported back in June that since Sept. 11, 2001, almost twice as many people have died at the hands of white supremacists and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims. Using data compiled by New America, a Washington Research center, a study found that 48 people have been killed by extremists who are not Muslim—including the mass killings in Charleston, S.C.—compared to the 26 by self-proclaimed jihadists. However, this does not factor in yesterday’s tragic shooting or less publicized incidents like the Las Vegas couple who murdered two police officers and left a Swastika on one of the bodies.

These stats reveal a vast difference between public perception and the number of actual cases in which Muslim extremists have claimed American lives. So why aren’t more people outraged about domestic terrorists? Because then we’d have to admit that white supremacy is still a problem.

While the public hasn't quite caught on yet, scholars say that the issue needs to be addressed. “There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown,” Dr. John G. Horgan, who studies terrorism at the University of Massachusetts said. “And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.”

That’s an understatement.

Riaz Haq said...

#Burma faces ethnic violence. Has Aung San Suu Kyi ignored the plight of her people? #Rohingya #Myanmar #Muslims

More than 120,000 are still living in fetid camps in Rakhine state after violent clashes with their Buddhist neighbors in 2012. They have little access to health care and 30,000 of their children do not have proper schools, according to a U.N. report in June.

The report cited a “pattern of gross human rights violations” against the Rohingya, acts that it said could rise to the level of “crimes against humanity” in a court of law.

The government restarted a process of citizenship verification for the Rohingya in June, but many of the Rohingya refused to participate, Suu Kyi said. Human rights activists say they were suspicious that some kind of new card would mean a further erosion of their rights.

“Things take time,” she said. “The situation in the Rakhine is a legacy of many, many decades of problems. It is not something that happened overnight. We’re not going to be able to resolve it overnight. It goes back even to the last century.”

Suu Kyi told the U.N. investigator that the government would avoid using the term “Rohingya,” which many Burmese consider incendiary. Many Burmese call the Rohingya “Bengali,” a reference to the fact that some migrated from Bangladesh years earlier.

“This is inflammatory,” Suu Kyi said. “We simply say Muslims of ­Rakhine state. Because this is just a factual description which nobody should object to. But of course, everybody objects because they want their old emotive terms to be used.”

Suu Kyi brushed aside the frequent criticism that, as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, she has not done enough to speak out about the Rohingyas’ plight. She did not go near the camps on a campaign swing through the state last fall and spoke of the conflict only in the vaguest terms.

“Well, I have spoken about it, but people don’t like the way I talk about it because I don’t take sides,” she said. “Nobody takes any account of that because that is not what they want to hear. They want me to make, you know, incendiary remarks, which I am not going to do. I’ve made it very clear that our work is not to condemn but to achieve reconciliation.”

Richard Horsey, a longtime Burma analyst and adviser to the International Crisis Group, said that Suu Kyi had made strides in addressing the issue after her government took over, including the appointment of Annan. But the spate of violence may change that, he said.

“These recent attacks have completely changed the landscape here and what’s possible to do right now,” Horsey said. “It has a huge potential to make the situation much, much worse and much harder to fix.”

Suu Kyi, whose official title is state counselor, spoke at Burma’s embassy while on a trip to India this week. The country is familiar terrain for her, as she spent part of her high school and college years living in New Delhi while her mother was ambassador here.

Suu Kyi, now 71, spent decades campaigning against the military dictatorship in her country, including a total of more than 15 years under house arrest. For her efforts, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.

She was freed in 2010 shortly before the military generals began economic reforms that were supported by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

Despite the resounding victory of her National League for Democracy in last November’s elections, Burma’s generals retain a tight grip on power, reserving 25 percent of the seats in the country’s parliament, which gives them veto power over any constitutional amendment. The military also appoints the key ministers in home affairs, border affairs and defense.

Riaz Haq said...

Why are #Muslim immigrants in #America assimilating so quickly? Abandoning beliefs? Leaving faith? #Islamophobia

In my column last week, I demonstrated using surveys mostly from Gallup and Pew Research Center that Muslim-Americans are rapidly abandoning beliefs widely held in their native countries and adopting the more liberal social and political beliefs of other Americans.

But what’s even more remarkable about this fact is that this transition has occurred at the same time that Muslim immigration has ramped up. In other words, immigration is not detracting from those changes and may even be contributing to them.

While the number of Muslim immigrants and their children doubled from 2007 to 2015—from 1.4 million to 2.7 million—the native Muslim population fell by more than a third—from about 917,000 to 594,000. This provides evidence that the immigrants themselves are taking part in the recent changes.

I’ll just give a couple of examples for which I have data for both 2007 and 2014. Figure 2 compares the rate of acceptance of homosexuality among Muslim immigrants and their children with the rate of acceptance among all Muslims, while also tracking the number of Muslim immigrants in the United States.

Pew did not report the breakdown of acceptance of homosexuality by nativity in 2014, but as Figure 2 shows, their views tracked the changes in those for all Muslims in 2007 and 2011—a 12 percent increase for both.

Given this departure from the strict reading of the Koran, we would expect that many Muslims in the United States may have adjusted their views on Islam’s scripture.

Pew found in 2007 that 50 percent of U.S. Muslims favored taking a “literal” interpretation of the holy book, while 33 percent opposed doing so. By 2014, the literalists had dropped 8 points, and the non-literalists rose 10 points, as seen in Figure 2.

Here’s another significant point of equal significance: These changes do not include those who abandoned Islam, and it’s safe to assume that these are the people who are likely to be the most liberal.

Thus, these surveys probably under-represent the level of liberalization among people who were raised Muslim or among immigrants who first arrived in the country as Muslim because they exclude those people who defected from the faith in adulthood or after their arrival in the United States.

This phenomenon is very significant. In 2014, 23 percent of all U.S. residents raised in Muslim households had left their religion, according to Pew. Another estimate placed the share at 32 percent. Two small surveys found that the number of Iranian Americans who identify as Muslim dropped from 42 percent to 31 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Based on Pew’s 2011 survey of Muslims in America, this number may actually be at the high end. Using American Community Survey data, the numbers imply that the actual share is more likely about 22 percent. Estimates of the effect of “Muslim” immigration on the religious or political makeup of the United States would be highly misleading if it ignored this group.

The bottom line is that very large increases in the Muslim population in the United States due to immigration have not stalled assimilation of those immigrants. Rather, they are demonstrating Americans’ incredible capacity to encourage immigrants to adopt their ways.