Friday, December 2, 2016

What Drives Islamophobia in America: Hollywood? Media? Trump?

Attacks against Muslim Americans are surging, according to a recently released FBI report.  There were 257 reports of assaults, attacks on mosques and other hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, a jump of about 67% over 2014. It was the highest total since 2001, when more than 480 attacks occurred in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to New York Times.

Hate Crimes Against Muslims:

An American Muslim was 4.4 times more likely to be a victim of hate crime in America than an average American in 2015.  Anti-Muslim hate crimes accounted for 4.4 precent of all hate crimes in 2015 when Muslims made up just 1% of the US population.

Hate crimes against Muslims surged 67% from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015, the second highest number on record since national reporting started in 1992. In 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks anti-Muslim hate crime peaked at 481, and had been in a range of 105 to 160, until 2015’s jump. Anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015 showed a significant increase in the proportion of hate crimes from the previous year as well.




Why the Surge:

The recent surge in hate crimes against Muslims is being attributed to President-Elect Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric against Muslims and other minorities in the United States. Islamophobia did not begin with the Trump campaign but it appears to have contributed to it in the last two years. Other factors include stereotyping of Muslims in the entertainment and news media coverage of terrorist attacks traced to individual Muslim perpetrators.

Trump Campaign:

President-Elect Donald Donald Trump's Muslim ban and Muslim registry have contributed to assigning the blame to all Muslims for acts of terror and the consequent hate crimes against Americans of Islamic faith.

Since winning the majority of the electoral college in US presidential elections 2016, President-elect Trump has begun stacking his cabinet and staff with people known for their anti-Muslim statements. For example, Trump's national security advisor pick General Michael Flynn has called Islam "malignant cancer". Mr. Trump's chief of staff pick Stephen Bannon has described Islam as "a political ideology" and Sharia as "like Nazism, fascism, and communism."

Popular Television Shows:

The US entertainment media in Hollywood has been at the forefront of promoting the image of all  Muslims as terrorists. Popular television shows like "24" and "Homeland" have done it on a consistent basis.

In a recent roundtable discussion titled "Can Television be Fair to Muslims?", Showtime's "Homeland's co-creator Howard Gordon acknowledged that his show has fed Islamophobia in America.  Participants included both Muslims and Non-Muslims engaged in writing and producing popular TV shows such as Aasif Mandvi, Zarqa Nawaz, Melena Ryzik, Joshua Saffran, Howard Gordon and Cherian Dabis.

Roundtable Discussion:

Here's a brief excerpt of the exchange:

MELENA RYZIK: The F.B.I. has said that attacks against Muslims were up 67 percent last year. Do you have any anxiety about your shows being fodder for that?

HOWARD GORDON: The short answer is, absolutely, yes.

RYZIK: What can you do to handle that?

GORDON: On “Homeland,” it’s an ongoing and very important conversation.

For instance, this year, the beginning of it involves the sort of big business of prosecuting entrapment. It actually tests the edges of free speech. How can someone express their discontent with American policy — even a reckless kid who might express his views that may be sympathetic to enemies of America, but still is not, himself, a terrorist, but is being set up to be one by the big business of government?

For me to answer, personally, that question, it’s a difficult one. “24” having been the launching point for me to engage in these conversations, which I have been having for 10 years, and being very conscious about not wanting to be a midwife to these base ideas. We’re all affected, unwittingly, by who we are and how we see the world. It requires creating an environment where people can speak freely about these things. It requires this vigilant empathy.

Mainstream News Media:

The mainstream US news media, particularly the cable news channels, have contributed to anti-Muslim hysteria after each terror attack traced to a Muslim perpetrator. The 24X7 coverage of such tragedies fails to put them in perspective.

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.

Summary:

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans are surging, rising 67% in 2015 over the prior year. A Muslim American is 4.4 times more likely to be victim of a hate crime than an average American. President-Elect Donald Trump's Islamophobic campaign and the American news and entertainment media are contributing to the rise of hatred against Muslims. The situation of Muslims is likely to get worse unless Mr. Trump speaks out against hate crimes and his administration takes steps to check organized hate groups. At the same time, the news and entertainment media need to play their role to put this genie back in the bottle.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Funding of Hate Groups in America

Hollywood: America's Ministry of Propaganda? 

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



35 comments:

Shaukat O. said...

Dear Riaz

Suggest you emphasize the Anti-Jewish, Anti-Black and Anti-White hate crimes and downplay Anti-Islamic which is even less than the Anti-Latino and is bottom of the list..

Let us thank our lucky stars and use psychology to contain / combat any increase by praising the US citizens who show more considerations towards us and our ethnicity than other minorities and / or Colour..

Take care

Riaz Haq said...

Shaukat O: "downplay Anti-Islamic which is even less than the Anti-Latino and is bottom of the list.."

Anti-Muslim hate crimes are 4.4% against a population that is only 1%. This makes Muslim American being 4.4X more likely to be a victim of hate crime than an average American.

Steve G. said...

VERY interesting and well-written.

Riaz Haq said...

Can the Popular #Muslim Invocation of God's Will survive ‘Inshallah’ in the Age of #Trump? #Islamophobia

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/12/01/inshallah-in-the-age-of-trump-islamophobia-us/

---
These days, another word is making inroads into the American English lexicon. It’s “inshallah” — an Arabic Islamic expression that means “God willing.” Inshallah first made its English debut in the 19th century, but it’s only since 9/11 that the word has become fashionable among non-Muslim, non-Arabic-speaking Americans. You’ve probably heard it already in passing, which is my point. The Atlantic’s James Fallows has tweeted it. Even actor Lindsay Lohan has made a faltering attempt. I’ve heard it in meetings, on the metro, and at a casual Sunday brunch in Brooklyn.

For all these inshallah-invokers, the phrase seems to combine the prestige of French and the multiculturalism of Sanskrit — with an added thrill of risk.

President-elect Donald Trump is stacking his administration with supporters who believe that Islam is inherently violent, dangerous, and threatening. Some who evince this view believe that anything associated with Islam has a diabolical power, an insidious evil that has to be guarded against at every turn as the Puritans guarded against witchcraft.

----


The latent Islamophobia the word can conjure seems to be part of the its growing appeal among progressive urbanites in the United States. As the Islamophobia industrial complex has expanded, so has a cultural push against it. Garnishing your conversation with an inshallah or two is a small act of resistance, a direct jab at the belief that Islam — and by association, Arabic — is sinister. It’s the linguistic equivalent of donning a headscarf in solidarity for World Hijab Day. Or the spoken version of the anti-Trump ad near Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a large population of Arab-Americans, which was written in Arabic and read: “Donald Trump can’t read this, but he is scared of it.” It’s a subtle political statement, a critique of Republicans who believe certain sounds, like incantations, must cross the lips in order to defeat evil (“radical Islamic terrorism”) whereas other sounds (“inshallah,” “Allahu akbar”) must remain taboo.

But why inshallah and not some other Arabic word? There are dozens of other common Islamic expressions, including bismillah (in the name of God), barakallah (blessings of God), and alhamdulillah (praise be to God), that haven’t crossed into English (though bismillah makes a cameo in Queen’s 1975 classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”).

The reason is that inshallah is a charming, maddening, and undeniably useful expression. On paper, the word is very similar to “God willing,” its Christian, English equivalent. It’s an acknowledgment of the human inability to foresee or control the future while harking to the belief that a Greater Being holds humanity’s fragile plans in its omnipotent hands.

But unlike the English “God willing,” inshallah also serves as a convenient preordained excuse for what may go wrong. If your toilet is broken and your plumber says he’ll come “tomorrow, inshallah,” you may be in for quite a wait. In countries such as Egypt, inshallah has expanded into a society-wide verbal tic invoked by Muslims, Christians, and even the nonreligious for occasions as mundane as ordering a hamburger or riding an elevator — a phenomenon that a 2008 article in the New York Times dubbed “inshallah creep.”

That’s what has made it so easy for visitors to pick up. Inshallah conveys an uncertainty that “hopefully” lacks. “The project will be done by 9 p.m., hopefully” implies that a sense of control still resides in your hands and thus a lingering amount of responsibility if the deadline isn’t met. “The project will be done by 9 p.m., inshallah,” by contrast, indicates that some outside force — an indolent contract worker, slow trains, spotty internet, even fate itself — is now in the driver’s seat and that if things go wrong, it’s not your fault.

Anonymous said...

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/2016-11-29/advice-young-muslims?cid=%3Fcid%3Demc-paywall_free-header-120316&sp_mid=52908036&sp_rid=c3JrcmlzaG5hQHlhaG9vLmNvbQS2&spMailingID=52908036&spUserID=MjEwNTE4ODA5MTA4S0&spJobID=1060442247&spReportId=MTA2MDQ0MjI0NwS2&t=1480771203

Shaukat O. said...

DEAR RIAZ
I FEEL THAT THE US MUSLIM SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO FEEL SO VULNERABLE AND UNDER SO MUCH PRESSURE TO EFFECT THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND CREATE A PARANOIA.

GIVEN BELOW IS A COMPARISON OF MUSLIM HATE CRIME AGAINST JEWISH HATE CRIME AND THIS DOES NOT READ AS 4.4% OR 4 X 4 TIMES.

THE FIGURES BELOW SHOW\ THAT THE HATE AGAINST THE JEWS IN THE US AS GREATER THAN THE HATE AGAINST MUSLIMS.

THE HATE CRIME FIGURE OF THE MUSLIM IS GIVEN AS 259 OF 3.3 OR 3.4 MILLION POPULATION
THE HATE CRIME FIGURE OF THE JEW IS GIVEN AS 664 OF 4.2 OR 5.5 MILLION.

Riaz Haq said...

Shaukat: "THE FIGURES BELOW SHOW\ THAT THE HATE AGAINST THE JEWS IN THE US AS GREATER THAN THE HATE AGAINST MUSLIMS. THE HATE CRIME FIGURE OF THE MUSLIM IS GIVEN AS 259 OF 3.3 OR 3.4 MILLION POPULATION
THE HATE CRIME FIGURE OF THE JEW IS GIVEN AS 664 OF 4.2 OR 5.5 MILLION."

The most alarming thing for American Muslims is the 67% increase in hate crimes against them from 2014 to 2015. Given all the recent news of attacks on Muslims since Trump's victory, I expect FBI to report another big jump in 2016. We need to stay ahead of the curve to fight this menacing trend.

Riaz Haq said...

CNN commentator Van Jones calls #Muslims "model minority" and those from #Pakistan "geniuses". #Trump #Islamophobia https://www.facebook.com/startupmuslim/videos/1870421143194717/ …

Riaz Haq said...

NPR Reporter Asma Khalid's Notebook : What It Was Like As A #Muslim To Cover The Election. #Trump #Islamophobia https://n.pr/2h8KxLa @NPR

Sometime in early 2016 between a Trump rally in New Hampshire, where a burly man shouted something at me about being Muslim, and a series of particularly vitriolic tweets that included some combination of "raghead," "terrorist," "bitch" and "jihadi," I went into my editor's office and wept.

I cried for the first (but not the last) time this campaign season.

Through tears, I told her that if I had known my sheer existence — just the idea of being Muslim — would be a debatable issue in the 2016 election, I would never have signed up to do this job.

To friends and family, I looked like a masochist. But I was too invested to quit.

I was hired by NPR to cover the intersection of demographics and politics. My job required crisscrossing the country to talk to all kinds of voters. I attended rallies and town halls for nearly every candidate on both sides of the aisle, and I met people in their homes, churches and diners.

I am also visibly, identifiably Muslim. I wear a headscarf. So I stand out. And during this campaign, that Muslim identity became the first (and sometimes only) thing people saw, for good or for bad.

"Don't be a martyr"

Sometimes I met voters who questioned the 3-D nature of my life, people who viscerally hated the idea of me.

One night an old journalist friend called me and said, "Look, don't be a martyr."

It was a strange comment to me, since the harassment seemed more like a nuisance than a legitimate threat. And I knew if I was ever legitimately concerned, I had two options: I could ask for a producer to travel with me, or I wouldn't wear a headscarf. (And a couple of times I didn't.) Without a hijab, I'm incognito, light-skinned enough that I can pass as some sort of generic ethnic curiosity.

For many journalists, the 2016 campaign was the story of a lifetime. And it was indeed the story of a lifetime for me, too, but a story with real-life repercussions.

And I hung on, because the story of Donald Trump's America is not some foreign story of a faraway place; it's my homeland.

Hoosier roots

I'm from Indiana. We grew up in a mostly Democratic county. But my town was predominantly white and fairly conservative, a place where the Ten Commandments are engraved in marble outside the old County Courthouse.

I loved our childhood — summers playing basketball, winters sledding. We weren't outsiders — I sold Girl Scout cookies, was captain of the tennis team.

We were part of the club — or so we thought.

Riaz Haq said...

#Saudi Prince: #Arabs Have 'Wronged #Islam And Distorted The Image Of #Muslims'

http://www.ibtimes.com/saudi-prince-arabs-have-wronged-islam-distorted-image-muslims-2459435

Arabs have "wronged Islam and distorted the image of Muslims," Saudi Prince Khaled Al-Faisal warned in a speech this week. The prince said Muslims should "not allow colonialism to return, or for divisions to prevail."

The prince's remarks were brief and did not reference any recent events in the Arab world. It's unclear what he was referring to, but his comments come as the Islamic State group has carried out terror attacks against Muslims across the Middle East and as Saudi Arabia is locked in a struggle against Iran for influence over the region.

"I do not envy anyone who stands to speak on behalf of Arabs today. We have wronged Islam and distorted the image of Muslims," Prince Saud, who has served as foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, said during the opening remarks at the 15th Arab Thought Foundation conference in Abu Dhabi. The theme of the event was: "Arab Integration: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Arab Emirates."

"Excuse me if my candor is painful, but the wounds are glaring," he added. "Arise Arabs, wake up Muslims, do not allow colonialism to return, or for divisions to prevail."

In July, Saudi officials accused the Islamic State group of bombing the holy city of Medina, the site of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's tomb and his house, in an attack that killed four security officers and injured five others.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has urged Muslims to unite against an epidemic of "extremism." But earlier this year, Saudi Arabia's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, said Iran's leaders were not Muslims. Saudi Arabia and Iran represent opposite sides in Syria's civil war and other Middle East conflicts, including Yemen. Saudi Arabia cut off relations with Iran in January after its embassy was attacked in Tehran.

Riaz Haq said...

The Int'l Spectator
‏@intlspectator
US deaths cause, 2015.

Suicide: 43,000
Motor accidents 32,000
Gun homicide: 13,286
Domestic violence: 1,600
Terrorism: 19
Sharks: 1

Riaz Haq said...

People are making sure Katie Hopkins' extraordinary Mail Online apology isn't missed. #Islamophobia http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/katie-hopkins-apologises_uk_5857b020e4b0e9baa877e873?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 … via @HuffPostUK

Katie Hopkins has been forced to apologise for a string of mistruths and defamatory claims about a British Muslim family barred from travelling to the United States.

The columnist wrote in the Mail Online last year about Britain’s “Mickey Mouse” border security, and how the US’ decision to deny the family access proved it was “protecting its own people”.

In one of the pieces, Hopkins had quipped: “You can’t prosecute the truth”.

But now two articles featuring claims about the Mahmood family of Walthamstow, North London, have been taken down.

Mail Online paid the Mahmoods £150,000 in damages, the Guardian reported.

The website issued an apology on Monday for the pieces. The full statement reads:

An article published in Katie Hopkins’ column on 23 December 2015 (’Just because Britain’s border security is a Mickey Mouse operation you can’t blame America for not letting this lot travel to Disneyland – I wouldn’t either’) suggested that Mohammed Tariq Mahmood and his brother, Mohammed Zahid Mahmood, are extremists with links to Al Qaeda; that their purported reason for visiting the USA – namely to visit Disneyland – was a lie; and that US Homeland Security were right to prevent them from boarding their flight. We are happy to make clear that Tariq Mahmood and Zahid Mahmood are not extremists, nor do they have links to Al Qaeda. They were travelling to the USA with their families to see one of their brothers for a holiday in California and they had indeed planned to visit Disneyland as part of their trip.

In addition a further article in Katie’s column on 29 December (’A brave Muslim tried to warn us their week about the extremists taking over his community. What a tragedy it is that our PC politicians would rather not know’) suggested that Hamza Mahmood (Mohammed Tariq Mahmood’s son) was responsible for a Facebook page which allegedly contained extremist material. Our article included a photo of the family home. Hamza Mahmood has pointed out that he is not responsible for the Facebook page, which was linked to him as a result of an error involving his email address. We are happy to make clear that there is no suggestion that either Hamza nor Taeeba or Hafsa Mahmood (Hamza’s mother and sister) have any links to extremism.

We and Katie Hopkins apologise to the Mahmood family for the distress and embarrassment caused and have agreed to pay them substantial damages and their legal costs.
The two articles were published just four weeks after Hopkins began working at Mail Online.

The apology was tweeted by Hopkins at two o’clock on Monday morning, and by 11am became her most re-tweeted message ever - at over 3,500 shares and counting.

Riaz Haq said...

Why #American TV needs a #Muslim Modern Family by @rezaaslan. #Islamophobia https://youtu.be/KURTpn0Nuzs via @YouTube

Writer Reza Aslan thinks a Muslim Will and Grace could truly change American perceptions of Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

In Year of Anti-#Muslim Vitriol, #Brands Promote Inclusion. #Islamophobia #Trump #Amazon #Advertising

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/01/business/media/anti-muslim-vitriol-brands-promote-inclusion.html?_r=0

The gentle piano music starts as the doorbell chimes. A white-haired Christian pastor greets his friend, a Muslim imam, and the two converse and laugh over a cup of tea, wincing about their creaky knees as they prepare to part ways. Later, it spurs the same idea in each for a gift: kneepads sent via Amazon Prime. (It is a commercial, after all.)

The piano notes accelerate as the men open their deliveries with smiles, and then each uses the item to kneel in prayer: one at a church, the other at a mosque. The final chords fade.

The ad from Amazon and its message of interfaith harmony became a viral sensation this holiday season, at the end of a year in which talk involving Muslims became particularly ominous. Amazon — which aired the commercial in England, Germany and the United States — cast a practicing vicar and Muslim community leader in the lead roles and consulted with several religious organizations to ensure the ad was accurate and respectful.

“This type of a project is definitely a first for us,” said Rameez Abid, communications director for the social justice branch of the Islamic Circle of North America, one group Amazon worked with. “They were very aware that this was going to cause controversy and might get hate mail and things like that, but they said it’s something that they wanted to do because the message is important.”

A slew of major American brands — including Honey Maid, Microsoft, Chevrolet, YouTube and CoverGirl — prominently featured everyday Muslim men, women and children in their marketing last year. While such ads were apolitical in nature, focused on themes of community and acceptance, they were viewed as bold, even risky, in a year when there were campaign statements by Donald J. Trump about a Muslim registry and a ban on Muslim immigrants.


It was “a glimmer of hope in the midst of a greatly traumatic year for Muslims,” said Mona Haydar, an American poet and activist who appeared in a recent Microsoft commercial with a variety of community leaders, including a transgender teenager and a white policeman.

“For me as a Muslim woman, I represent something right now in the country that for some people incites fear,” said Ms. Haydar, 28, who wears a hijab and hails from Flint, Mich. “This normalizes the narrative that we are just human beings.”

Several advertising executives likened the movement to the decision by mass marketers to cast same-sex couples and their children in ads for the first time in 2013 and 2014, making inclusion and acceptance a priority over potential criticism from some customers.

“With the kind of gay parent issue, we’ve gotten a little closer to acceptance, but the Muslim issue in America is still pretty raw for a lot of people,” said Kevin Brady, an executive creative director at the ad agency Droga5, which worked last year with Honey Maid on a commercial about white and Muslim-American neighbors. “I don’t think it should be, but it’s one that I think brands took an extra step of courage to really go out there with in 2016.”

A campaign for YouTube Music in the middle of last year highlighted five individuals, including a young woman in a hijab, rapping to a song by Blackalicious while walking through a school corridor. The inclusion of the ad, “Afsa’s Theme,” was purposeful, said Danielle Tiedt, the chief marketing officer at YouTube, adding that highlighting diversity is “more important than ever.”

“I don’t think diversity is a political statement,” she said. “This is an issue of universal humanity.”

For its ad, Amazon was painstaking in its attention to detail, checking with religious groups about costuming and background imagery, and sending over final proofs of the ad for review, said Mr. Abid and Antonios Kireopoulos, an associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches, another group Amazon consulted.

Riaz Haq said...

In Year of Anti-#Muslim Vitriol, #Brands Promote Inclusion. #Islamophobia #Trump #Amazon #Advertising

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/01/business/media/anti-muslim-vitriol-brands-promote-inclusion.html?_r=0

The gentle piano music starts as the doorbell chimes. A white-haired Christian pastor greets his friend, a Muslim imam, and the two converse and laugh over a cup of tea, wincing about their creaky knees as they prepare to part ways. Later, it spurs the same idea in each for a gift: kneepads sent via Amazon Prime. (It is a commercial, after all.)

The piano notes accelerate as the men open their deliveries with smiles, and then each uses the item to kneel in prayer: one at a church, the other at a mosque. The final chords fade.

The ad from Amazon and its message of interfaith harmony became a viral sensation this holiday season, at the end of a year in which talk involving Muslims became particularly ominous. Amazon — which aired the commercial in England, Germany and the United States — cast a practicing vicar and Muslim community leader in the lead roles and consulted with several religious organizations to ensure the ad was accurate and respectful.

“This type of a project is definitely a first for us,” said Rameez Abid, communications director for the social justice branch of the Islamic Circle of North America, one group Amazon worked with. “They were very aware that this was going to cause controversy and might get hate mail and things like that, but they said it’s something that they wanted to do because the message is important.”

---


It was “a glimmer of hope in the midst of a greatly traumatic year for Muslims,” said Mona Haydar, an American poet and activist who appeared in a recent Microsoft commercial with a variety of community leaders, including a transgender teenager and a white policeman.

“For me as a Muslim woman, I represent something right now in the country that for some people incites fear,” said Ms. Haydar, 28, who wears a hijab and hails from Flint, Mich. “This normalizes the narrative that we are just human beings.”

Several advertising executives likened the movement to the decision by mass marketers to cast same-sex couples and their children in ads for the first time in 2013 and 2014, making inclusion and acceptance a priority over potential criticism from some customers.

“With the kind of gay parent issue, we’ve gotten a little closer to acceptance, but the Muslim issue in America is still pretty raw for a lot of people,” said Kevin Brady, an executive creative director at the ad agency Droga5, which worked last year with Honey Maid on a commercial about white and Muslim-American neighbors. “I don’t think it should be, but it’s one that I think brands took an extra step of courage to really go out there with in 2016.”

A campaign for YouTube Music in the middle of last year highlighted five individuals, including a young woman in a hijab, rapping to a song by Blackalicious while walking through a school corridor. The inclusion of the ad, “Afsa’s Theme,” was purposeful, said Danielle Tiedt, the chief marketing officer at YouTube, adding that highlighting diversity is “more important than ever.”

“I don’t think diversity is a political statement,” she said. “This is an issue of universal humanity.”

For its ad, Amazon was painstaking in its attention to detail, checking with religious groups about costuming and background imagery, and sending over final proofs of the ad for review, said Mr. Abid and Antonios Kireopoulos, an associate general secretary of the National Council of Churches, another group Amazon consulted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ouu6LGGIWsc

Riaz Haq said...

How the #American #CIA Infiltrated the World's #Literature Using Famous Writers as Tools https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/how-the-cia-infiltrated-the-worlds-literature … via @VICE

"The CIA's influence in publishing was on the covert ops side, and it was done as propaganda. It was a control of how intellectuals thought about the US."

The new book, Finks, reveals how great writers such as Baldwin, Márquez, and Hemingway became soldiers in America's cultural Cold War.

When the CIA's connections to the Paris Review and two dozen other magazines were revealed in 1966, the backlash was swift but uneven. Some publications crumbled, taking their editors down with them, while other publishers and writers emerged relatively unscathed, chalking it up to youthful indiscretion or else defending the CIA as a "nonviolent and honorable" force for good. But in an illuminating new book Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World's Best Writers, writer Joel Whitney debunks the myth of a once-moral intelligence agency, revealing an extensive list of writers involved in transforming America's image in countries we destabilized with coups, assassinations, and other all-American interventions.

The CIA developed several guises to throw money at young, burgeoning writers, creating a cultural propaganda strategy with literary outposts around the world, from Lebanon to Uganda, India to Latin America. The same agency that occasionally undermined democracies for the sake of fighting Communism also launched the Congress for Cultural Freedoms (CCF). The CCF built editorial strategies for each of these literary outposts, allowing them to control the conversation in countries where readers might otherwise resist the American perspective. The Paris Review, whose co-founder Peter Matthiessen was a CIA agent, would sell its commissioned interviews to the magazine's counterparts in Germany, Japan, and elsewhere. Mundo Nuevo was created to offer a moderate-left perspective to earn trust among Latin American readers, effectively muting more radical perspectives during the Cuban Revolution. Sometimes the agency would provide editors with funding and content; other times it would work directly with writers to shape the discourse. Through these acts, the CCF weaponized the era's most progressive intellectuals as the American answer to the Soviet spin machine.

While the CIA's involvement in anti-Communist propaganda has been long known, the extent of its influence—particularly in the early careers of the left's most beloved writers—is shocking. Whitney, the co-founder and editor at large of the literary magazine Guernica, spent four years digging through archives, yielding an exhaustive list—James Baldwin, Gabriel García Márquez, Richard Wright, and Ernest Hemingway all served varying levels of utility to Uncle Sam. (Not that the CIA's interest were only in letters: Expressionists Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko were also championed by arms of the agency.)

But don't let that ruin Love in the Time of Cholera. Whitney explains with methodical clarity how each writer became a tool for the CIA. This nuance not only salvages many of the classics from being junked as solely propaganda, but it serves as a cautionary tale for those trying to navigate today's "post-truth" media landscape. In an era where Facebook algorithms dictate the national discourse, even the most well-meaning journalist is prone to stories that distract on behalf of the US government.

"It was often a way to change the subject from the civil rights fight at home," Whitney said of the CIA's content strategy during the Cold War. We can easily draw parallels to today, where the nation's most dire issues are rarely our viral subjects. With Donald Trump's presidency just weeks away, Finks arrives at a crucial time, exposing the political machinery that can affect which stories are shared and which are silenced.

Riaz Haq said...

Trevor Noah Accuses #Hollywood of negative stereotyping of #Muslims #Blacks. #MerylStreep #Trump http://thebea.st/2jxeXvI via @thedailybeast

“I thought it was a little weird last night that Hollywood celebrated itself for being progressive but ignored how much they reinforce negative stereotypes,” Noah added. “Think about it: In Hollywood, Middle Easterners are almost always terrorists. Black people are gangsters and slaves. It’s not like there aren’t other diverse stories to tell. Just look at ‘Hidden Fences,’ you know?”


Trevor Noah’s coverage of the Golden Globes showdown between Meryl Streep and Donald Trump was nothing if not surprising Monday night.

After an extended riff on the confusion that ensued between Fences and Hidden Figures—leading both Jenna Bush Hager and Michael Keaton to say “Hidden Fences”—The Daily Show host moved on to the most-talked about moment of the night: Streep’s fiery acceptance speech.
Noah admitted that Streep’s unexpectedly strong takedown of President-elect Donald Trump was “powerful” and a “highlight” of her already “distinguished” career. “Except for this one tiny part,” he continued, which, “like her character in Florence Foster Jenkins, was tone-deaf.”
The comedian was referring to the moment when Streep declared, “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if you kick ’em all out, you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”

“I understand what Meryl Streep was trying to do, and I don’t know if I could have done better, but here’s the thing I feel like we could all learn as people,” Noah said. “You don’t have to make your point by shitting on someone else’s thing, because a lot of people love football and the arts.” He noted that he spent his Sunday watching football and then the Golden Globes.

To make his point, Noah joked that the NFL commissioner “acts” like he cares about concussions. He went on to undercut himself by saying that to focus on that part of the speech “undermines” her “larger point” about “respect” and “empathy.” But the bulk of his commentary centered on a lack of inclusiveness by Streep—not Trump.
Remarkably, Noah did not even bring up Trump’s petty overreaction to Streep’s speech until the second segment of his show, and when he did it was merely as a preamble to a piece about the president-elect’s response on Russia’s election hacks.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/kmlhis/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-the-highs-and-lows-of-the-golden-globe-awards

Riaz Haq said...

How #SiliconValley and #Hollywood plan to fight #Trump's #Muslim travel ban. #MuslimBanprotest https://www.yahoo.com/news/silicon-valley-hollywood-plan-fight-trumps-muslim-travel-171407410.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw … via @YahooNews

Top execs in Silicon Valley, Hollywood actors, and Washington politicians are coming to the defense of Muslims affected by a temporary travel ban into the United States that White House implemented on Friday.

Google and Facebook’s chief executives criticized President Trump’s immigration order, while former secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actress Mayim Bialik, and feminist Gloria Steinem all said they would register as Muslims if such a registry is created. This opposition to the executive order comes as Muslim advocacy groups prepare to challenge the order’s constitutionality in court.

Mr. Trump has long vowed to ban or limit Muslim immigration into the country in order to protect Americans from terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. Now that his administration has lived up to such campaign pledges, those resisting it argue it is un-American, both constitutionally and morally.

“We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat,” wrote Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in a post on his personal page on Friday.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” continued Mr. Zuckerberg, mentioning his German, Austrian, and Polish ancestry. “And we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here.”

The executive order the president signed on Friday temporarily bans both people from at least seven Muslim-majority nations and suspends the broader refugee program. For at least 90 days, travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen are barred from entering the US. The order also indefinitely bans Syrian refugees from the US.

Trump said the order gives his administration time to develop stricter screening process for refugees, immigrants, and visitors.

“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don’t want them here,” Trump said on Friday at the Pentagon. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”

The order took effect immediately, with travelers bound for the US already affected. The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on Friday afternoon instructing the Customs and Border Control to enforce the order, according to the New York Daily News. Late Friday, some green card and visa holders were already being blocked from boarding US-bound flights, according to the newspaper.

However, Trump indicated on Friday he will prioritize bringing Syrian Christians into the US. The president said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christians seeking refugee status would receive priority. Trump indicated the US has unfairly treated Syrian Christians seeking religious asylum.

---
Some Republicans praised the executive order because they said the self-declared Islamic State has threatened to exploit the US immigration system.

"I am pleased that President Trump is using the tools granted to him by Congress and the power granted by the Constitution to help keep America safe and ensure we know who is entering the United States," said Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

But Google chief executive Sundar Pichai criticized the travel ban in an email to staff on Friday, saying it affects at least 187 of the company’s employees.

Riaz Haq said...

"Let me save the government some money and offer up the data right now," he (Fareed Zakaria, CNN GPS) said, quoting a study by Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO Institute, a conservative think tank that has tallied the number of Americans killed on US soil from 1975 to 2015 by citizens of the seven countries.
"Iraq - zero, Iran -zero, Syria - zero, Yemen - zero, Libya - zero, Somalia - zero, Sudan -- zero," Zakaria said.
As to how these particular countries were chosen, Zakaria said it was "truly mysterious," before observing that "none of the Muslim majority countries that have a Trump hotel, building or office are on the list."
"There is really no rational basis for this ban," he said, before adding that it could only be explained by looking at what he considered to be the hallmark of Trump's political career: "the exploitation of fear."
"From the birther campaign to the talk of Mexican rapists, Trump has always trafficked in fear mongering," Zakaria said.
To "present himself as the country's protector," Trump had chosen to "punish ordinary men, women and children who are fleeing terrorism and violence," Zakaria said.
"These people are the roadkill of Trump's posturing," he added.
"The image, reputation and goodwill of the United States of America as the beacon of the world" was destroyed by the executive order, Zakaria said.
"Donald Trump seems to want to turn off that lamp on the Statue of Liberty."

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/us/zakaria-take-executive-order-cnntv/

Riaz Haq said...

#Hate groups 'rose massively with #Trump's success' says new report. #Islamophobia #antisemitism http://dailym.ai/2kL7OEU via @MailOnline

New map shows the booming number of hate groups that have sprung up since Trump ran for president after his candidacy 'energized the radical right'
The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are now 917 hate groups in the US - up from 892 in 2015
And anti-Muslim groups went from 34 to 101 during the year that Donald Trump campaigned for president
That's not a coincidence says they group: They believe 'Trump's run for office electrified the radical right'
White nationalist and neo-Nazi groups are on the rise, as are black separatist groups, likely in response
Many black supremacy, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT groups are in cities; white nationalists mostly in country

Hate groups in the US have proliferated over the past year as Donald Trump's successful bid for the presidency energized the far right, a new report claims.
Anti-Muslim groups nearly tripled from 34 in 2015 to 101 in 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said, while the total number of hate groups increased from 892 to 917.
'Trump's run for office electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man's country,' the nonprofit said.
The group counted 867 bias-related incidents in the first ten days after Trump's election, including more than 300 that targeted immigrants or Muslims.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The figures, contained in the site's 2017 Intelligence Report said the number of hate groups in the United States in 2016 was high by historic standards.
The organization classifies 'hate groups' as those who vilify entire communities based on unchangeable characteristics like race or ethnicity.
And researchers for the Alabama-based organization said the number of crimes against Muslims had risen with the number of hate groups.
For example, they said, a Texas mosque was torched after the Trump administration issued an executive order suspending travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Riaz Haq said...

Growing list of white nationalist #Hatecrime in #Trump's #America. #Islamophobia #racism #neonazi #Antisemitism https://www.facebook.com/MicMedia/videos/1414967115192741/ …

Riaz Haq said...

Spectator WW II deaths (millions) Russia: 26, China: 15, Germany: 6.9, Poland: 5.9, Japan: 2.5 India: 1.6, France: 0.6, UK: 0.45, US: 0.4

Riaz Haq said...

Spate of mosque fires stretches across the country. 4 torched in first 2 months of 2017. #Islamophobia #Trump @CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/02/us/mosque-fires-2017/index.html

In just the first two months of the year, at least four mosques have gone up in flames as attacks against religious minorities have surged.

Those fires follow "the worst year on record for incidents in which mosques were targets of bias," according to the Council of American-Islamic Relations.
CAIR documented 139 incidents of "damage/destruction/vandalism" at mosques last year -- the most since record-keeping began in 2009. It does not track fires separately.
"Islamophobic bias continues its trend toward increasing violence," said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR's Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia.
The wave of hostility comes as President Donald Trump campaigned on -- then enacted -- a temporary ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries entering the United States. He is said to be drafting a new version after the first was struck down in court.

January 7: Austin, Texas
The Islamic Center of Lake Travis hadn't even been completed yet when it mysteriously caught fire.

January 14: Bellevue, Washington
A fire that torched the Islamic Center of Eastside near Seattle was an act of arson, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said.
No one was inside the mosque at the time of the blaze, which firefighters said shot 40-foot flames into the sky.

January 27: Victoria, Texas
The fire that destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center mosque was intentionally set, the Houston office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives said.
The ATF, CrimeStoppers and the mosque are offering a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of whoever set the mosque on fire.
While members of the mosque grappled with their loss, leaders of a local Jewish congregation stepped in to help -- and gave them the keys to their synagogue so they could continue to worship.

February 24: Thonotosassa, Florida
A fire that damaged the Islamic Society of New Tampa has been ruled arson, Hillsborough County fire investigators said.
Authorities have not ruled whether the fire was a hate crime, but Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the attack "is no different than the wave of anti-Semitic attacks on Jewish community centers and synagogue and bomb threats that have been called in all across the country, including in Tampa over the recent months."

Riaz Haq said...

Is Notorious Islamophobic Think Tank Inspiring More Far-Right Terrorism?
More worrying is the prestige that the Gatestone Institute seems to be able to flaunt along with its considerable resources.

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/notorious-islamophobic-think-tank-inspiring-more-far-right-terrorism

Blumenthal notes that Gatestone emerged in 2011 as an offshoot of the right wing Hudson Institute. Since then it has become a hub for anti-Muslim ideologues of all hues; neoconservative, ultra-Zionist and so-called ‘counterjihad’. It has acted as a clearing-house, for example, for claims about Muslim ‘no-go zones’ (the likes of which ‘terrorism expert’ Steven Emerson was widely ridiculed for, including by UK Prime Minister David Cameron). Its articles carry fear-mongering titles such as: ‘‘Spain: Soon the Muslims will be kings of the world’, ‘Britain’s Islamic future’, ’The Islamization of France’, ‘The Islamization of Germany’ and ‘The Islamization of Belgium and the Netherlands’.

The theme of so-called ‘Islamisation’ is fundamental to the paranoid political imaginary of the counterjihad movement, combining anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment. It is the notion that animates a network of groups under the banner ‘Stop the Islamisation of Nations’ (SION), and underpins street movements like Germany’s PEGIDA (an acronym of the German for ‘Patriot Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’) and the English Defence League (EDL) – and their respective copycat movements.

It is a favourite topic of many right-wing populist politicians like the infamous Geert Wilders, anti-Islam leader of the Dutch ‘Party for Freedom’, who, according to Blumenthal, calls Gatestone founder Nina Rosenwald a ‘good friend’ (perhaps why Gatestone recently published an article defending his call for ‘fewer Moroccans’ in the Netherlands, comments for which he is facing hate speech charges). ‘Islamisation’ was also, of course, the major preoccupation of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. In July 2011 he killed 77 people in an attack he called ‘gruesome but necessary’ and saw as a precursor to the civil war he believed was inevitable - that he hoped would drive Islam and Muslims out of Europe.

Eurabia conspiracy theorists and the Abstraction Fund

Breivik detailed his views – typical of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant counterjihad movement - on the ‘threat’ posed to Europe by Islam in a 1,518 page ‘manifesto’. Given that virtually every article that Gatestone publishes is suffused with the same assumptions (for instance ‘How Islam Conquers Europe’, ‘UK Islamic takeover plot’) it is no surprise to learn that the institute’s authors include many of the writers cited by Breivik in his notorious tract. Gatestone author Robert Spencer and his Jihad Watch website were mentioned 116 times, while Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) got 18 citations. Other Gatestone authors mentioned in Breivik's lengthy screed include David Horowitz and the aforementioned Steven Emerson.

More importantly, Nina Rosenwald’s mega-foundation, the Abstraction Fund, provides funding to many of these organisations: the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP), Pipes MEF, and many other Islamophobia industry groups besides. (Abstraction also gives to a host of pro-Israel organisations like CAMERA, MEMRI and the Zionist Organization of America, illustrating the increasingly common funding overlap between many anti-Muslim and some pro-Israel groups, observed in the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s recent report ‘The Business of Backlash’.) Interestingly, as well as presiding over the Gatestone Institute, Rosenwald is also financing it with money from the Abstraction Fund, albeit indirectly: as with other groups, the money is being channelled via a third party (MEF).

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra: "We Committed Intellectual Suicide After 9/11" By Endorsing #Islamophobia. #Terrorism http://lithub.com/pankaj-mishra-we-committed-intellectual-suicide-after-911/ … via @lithub

Pankaj Mishara to Rafia Zakaria: " We, and by that I mean “the intelligentsia,” made a catastrophic mistake after 9/11 when we located the roots of terror in Islam, saying that there is something peculiar in their political tradition that explains an eruption of violence. That perspective looked past the mixed history of terrorism, and we now see that regardless of whether it is in Burma or Thailand or India, militancy and terrorism emerge out of a confluence of socio-economic factors. It is a sign of desperation and despair. This idea that it belongs to Islam in particular is a very dangerous idea; it was made mainstream and it was legitimated not just by the far right who are in charge of policy today (and have been engaging in this puerile debate), but also by the liberal intelligentsia.

Francis Fukuyama, for instance, said there is something intrinsic about Islam which is just not compatible with modernity. Then there is Salman Rushdie and even Martin Amis, talking about mass deportation as part of a thought experiment that he offered to a journalist. In sum, all sorts of mainstream figures were advancing this Islamophobic discourse in very holistic and dangerous ways, and in the guise of teaching Islam or understanding Islam or helping the Muslim moderates. This is why we are where we are today."


Riaz Haq said...

THE RECLUSIVE HEDGE-FUND TYCOON BEHIND THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY
How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency.
By Jane Mayer


He (Patrick Caddell) has not worked directly for the President, but at least as far back as 2013 he has been a contractor for one of Trump’s biggest financial backers: Robert Mercer, a reclusive Long Island hedge-fund manager, who has become a major force behind the Trump Presidency.

During the past decade, Mercer, who is seventy, has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise. Among these efforts was public-opinion research, conducted by Caddell, showing that political conditions in America were increasingly ripe for an outsider candidate to take the White House. Caddell told me that Mercer “is a libertarian—he despises the Republican establishment,” and added, “He thinks that the leaders are corrupt crooks, and that they’ve ruined the country.”

Trump greeted Caddell warmly in North Charleston, and after giving a speech he conferred privately with him, in an area reserved for V.I.P.s and for White House officials, including Stephen Bannon, the President’s top strategist, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Caddell is well known to this inner circle. He first met Trump in the eighties. (“People said he was just a clown,” Caddell said. “But I’ve learned that you should always pay attention to successful ‘clowns.’ ”) Caddell shared the research he did for Mercer with Trump and others in the campaign, including Bannon, with whom he has partnered on numerous projects.

---------

After the Citizens United decision, in 2010, the Mercers were among the first people to take advantage of the opportunity to spend more money on politics. In Oregon, they quietly gave money to a super pac—an independent campaign-related group that could now take unlimited donations. In New York, reporters discovered that Robert Mercer was the sole donor behind a million-dollar advertising campaign attacking what it described as a plan to build a “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan. The proposed building was neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero. The ads, which were meant to boost a Conservative Party candidate for governor, were condemned as Islamophobic.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/the-reclusive-hedge-fund-tycoon-behind-the-trump-presidency

Riaz Haq said...

The 712-page Google doc that proves #Muslims do condemn #terrorism | World news | The Guardian #Islamophobia
https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2017/mar/26/muslims-condemn-terrorism-stats

It happened in history class. Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old American Muslim student at the University of Colorado, was supposed to be discussing the Crusades with the man sitting next to her. Within a few minutes, however, he was crusading against Islam.

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims,” Hashmi’s classmate told her. What’s more, he complained, not enough Muslims were making a stand against terrorism.

Hashmi was perplexed by this analysis. Muslims are constantly denouncing atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam. Yet many people seem to think Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough. So Hashmi decided to put the notion to the test. Using Google spreadsheets, she made a “712-page list of Muslims condemning things with sources”, which she tweeted. The list includes everything from acts of domestic violence to 9/11.

“I wanted to show people how weak the argument [that Muslims don’t care about terrorism] is,” she explained.

Her stats struck a chord. Within 24 hours, Hashmi’s tweet had been retweeted 15,000 times. A couple of her followers volunteered to help her turn her spreadsheet into an interactive website and, within a week of the tweet, muslimscondemn.com was born. This was last November, but the website has grown considerably since then and, sadly, flickers into prominence whenever a new attack takes place.

Hashmi’s project isn’t just designed to prove that Muslims are constantly condemning terrorism; she made it to demonstrate how ridiculous it is that Muslims are constantly expected to offer apologies for terrorist acts. Muslims, notes Hashmi, are “held to a different standard than other minorities: 1.6 billion people are expected to apologise and condemn [terrorism] on behalf of a couple of dozen lunatics. It makes no sense.” After all, Hashmi, says, “I don’t view the KKK or the Westboro Baptist church or the Lord’s Resistance Army as accurate representations of Christianity. I know that they’re on the fringe. So it gets very frustrating having to defend myself and having to apologise on behalf of some crazy people.”

You can see that double standard at play in the aftermath of the London attacks. Khalid Masood, the London attacker, was born Adrian Elms in Dartford, Kent and is believed to have converted to Islam in prison. Have we heard Kent natives – hello Nigel Farage! – condemn the actions of the people born in their county? (“I hope my Kentish brothers and sisters will reach out to fellow Britons in solidarity to demonstrate that such hatred will not defeat the inherent bonhomie of the home counties?”) No, we haven’t, because that would be ridiculous. And yet Muslims have often been expected to apologise for the actions of someone on the very fringes of their community, and have done so.

Thanks to Hashmi, all these condemnations are now carefully recorded at muslimscondemn.com. So for anyone asking why more Muslims don’t denounce terrorism, you know where to go.

Riaz Haq said...

Did an #FBI informant/agent encourage first #ISIS claimed #terrorist attack on #American soil in #Garland, #Texas?
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/terrorism-in-garland-texas-what-the-fbi-knew-before-the-2015-attack/

It’s mostly been forgotten because the two terrorists were killed by local cops before they managed to murder anyone. In looking into what happened in Garland, we were surprised to discover just how close the FBI was to one of the terrorists. Not only had the FBI been monitoring him for years, there was an undercover agent right behind him when the first shots were fired.

Anderson Cooper: After the trial, you discovered that the government knew a lot more about the Garland attack than they had let on?

Dan Maynard: That’s right. Yeah. After the trial we found out that they had had an undercover agent who had been texting with Simpson, less than three weeks before the attack, to him “Tear up Texas.” Which to me was an encouragement to Simpson.

The man he’s talking about was a special agent of the FBI, working undercover posing as an Islamic radical. The government sent attorney Dan Maynard 60 pages of declassified encrypted messages between the agent and Elton Simpson – and argued “Tear up Texas” was not an incitement. But Simpson’s response was incriminating, referring to the attack against cartoonists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo: “bro, you don’t have to say that...” He wrote “you know what happened in Paris… so that goes without saying. No need to be direct.”

But it turns out the undercover agent did more than just communicate online with Elton Simpson. In an affidavit filed in another case the government disclosed that the FBI undercover agent had actually “traveled to Garland, Texas, and was present… at the event.”

Dan Maynard: I was shocked. I mean I was shocked that the government hadn’t turned this over. I wanted to know when did he get there, why was he there?

And this past November, Maynard was given another batch of documents by the government, revealing the biggest surprise of all. The undercover FBI agent was in a car directly behind Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi when they started shooting. This cell-phone photo of school security guard Bruce Joiner and police officer Greg Stevens was taken by the undercover agent seconds before the attack.

Anderson Cooper: The idea that he’s taking photograph of the two people who happen to be attacked moments before they’re attacked.

Dan Maynard: It’s stunning.

Anderson Cooper: I mean, talk about being in the right or the wrong place at the right or the wrong time.

Dan Maynard: The idea that he’s right there 30 seconds before the attack happens is just incredible to me.

Anderson Cooper: What would you want to ask the undercover agent?

Dan Maynard: I would love to ask the undercover agent-- Are these the only communications that you had with Simpson? Did you have more communications with Simpson? How is it that you ended up coming to Garland, Texas? Why are you even there?

We wanted to ask the FBI those same questions. But the bureau would not agree to an interview. All the FBI would give us was this email statement. It reads: “There was no advance knowledge of a plot to attack the cartoon drawing contest in Garland, Texas.”

If you’re wondering what happened to the FBI’s undercover agent, he fled the scene but was stopped at gunpoint by Garland police. This is video of him in handcuffs, recorded by a local news crew. We’ve blurred his face to protect his identity.

Dan Maynard: I can’t tell you whether the FBI knew the attack was gonna occur. I don’t like to think that they let it occur. But it is shocking to me that an undercover agent sees fellas jumping out of a car and he drives on. I find that shocking.

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamophobic white nationalist armed militia groups are surging across #Trump's #America | PBS NewsHour


http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/armed-militia-groups-surging-across-nation/


JUDY WOODRUFF: Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing; 168 people died in that attack carried out by Timothy McVeigh.

McVeigh sympathized with armed right-wing militia groups. These groups are still active, gaining members online, and honing their combat skills in training camps.

The NewsHour’s P.J. Tobia went inside one of these camps to produce this report.

-----------


P.J. TOBIA: These men claim their militia gives them a sense of shared identity.

DEVIN “BOOGEYMAN” BOWEN, Georgia Security Force: We have basically built it as a family. I don’t have a lot of family, so it’s family that I don’t have, a lot of like-minded people, but yet we also stand for the same cause.

CHRIS “BLOOD AGENT” HILL: I’m seeing a conflict in morals and values in the country that make me question, is this really happening? Crybabies are going to demand transgender bathrooms. At the end of the day, your rights end where mine begin. You know, don’t push your belief on me.

P.J. TOBIA: Especially if those beliefs are Islamic.

CHAD “KILL ZONE” LEGERE, Georgia Security Force: Any terrorist organization cannot be trusted. And, unfortunately, a lot of them, you know, are stemming off from the Muslim religion, you know, from Islam.

P.J. TOBIA: In the last year, the FBI has disrupted major planned attacks against Muslims by men affiliated with militias. The FBI is the lead agency in these kinds of investigations.

Militias have long been active in the U.S., but they have been recently energized by two key events: last year’s occupation of an outside wildlife refuge in Oregon by anti-government activist Ammon Bundy, and the 2014 standoff in Nevada, where Bundy’s father, backed by militiamen, squared off with federal officials over grazing rights on public lands.

Chris Hill was one of those militiamen at Bundy ranch.


-----------

J.J. MACNAB: With law enforcement, that’s particularly problematic, because if, for example, an agency wants to investigate someone they suspect of building a bomb, will one of their members, one of the police officers who is part of that group tip off the criminal?

There’s a recent leak that came out of an FBI manual that talked about how there were white supremacists, for example, in certain police departments, but the FBI couldn’t tell the police departments that it was a problem, because they were worried that that would tip off the white supremacists they were investigating.

------------

P.J. TOBIA: Both Johnson and MacNab say that militia have successfully recruited police and active military personnel.

DARYL JOHNSON: We have a lot of returning veterans, military members who have fought in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they bring that mentality with them, that training that they had in the military, that kind of desensitized, dehumanized Muslims in these war zones and in these conflicts.

And so, when they come home, a lot of them carry that sentiment with them, and it reflects itself in the modern-day militia today.


Riaz Haq said...

Religion Scholar K. Armstrong: #Islamist #violence is "in part a product of #Western disdain" #Islamophobia #terror

https://en.qantara.de/content/interview-with-karen-armstrong-islamist-violence-is-in-part-a-product-of-western-disdain

Armstrong: The Prophet has been caricatured in the West as a violent, epileptic, lecherous charlatan since the time of the Crusades in the Middle Ages; this distorted image of Islam developed at the same time as our European anti-Semitism which caricatured Jews as the evil, violent, perverse and powerful enemies of Europe.
So yes, the attack on the magazine was in part a product of Western disdain. The attack on the Jewish supermarket, which seems to have been backed by ISIS, was directed against Western support for Israel. Here too, there is an element of disdain: there has been little sustained outcry against the massive casualties in Gaza last summer, for example, which seems to some Muslims to imply that the lives of Palestinian women, children and the elderly are not as valuable as our own.

Where do you see the roots of this disdain?
Armstrong: The Enlightenment ideal of freedom was, in practice, only for Europeans. The Founding Fathers of the United States, who were deeply influenced by the Enlightenment, proudly proclaimed that "All men are created equal" and enjoyed the natural human rights of life, liberty and property. But they felt no qualms about owning African slaves and driving the Native Americans out of their ancestral lands.
John Locke, the apostle of tolerance, wrote that a master had "absolute and despotical" rights over a slave, which included the right to kill him at any time. This continues: many of those who marched for freedom of expression in Paris were leaders of states that have supported regimes in Muslim majority countries that denied their subjects basic freedoms; Britain and the US, for example, continue to support the Saudi regime. Again, a disdain: our freedom is more important than yours.
Shouldn't we also look at certain Koranic verses and their interpretation throughout history to explain the phenomenon of Islamist terror?
Armstrong: "Throughout history", these Koranic verses have not inspired terrorist activities. Any empire depends upon force; this is true of the Indian, Chinese, Persian, Roman, Hellenistic and British empires and it is also true of the Islamic empires. Furthermore, until the modern period, Islam had a far better record of tolerance than Western Christianity. When the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they slaughtered the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of the city in a massacre that shocked the Middle East, which had never seen such unbridled violence. And yet it was 50 years before there was any serious Muslim riposte. There is more violence in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament than there is in the Koran.
Most Christian theologians would disagree.
Armstrong: Those theologians who claim that there are no passages in the New Testament like Koran 2.191–93 have perhaps forgotten the Book of Revelation, which is the preferred text of many Christian fundamentalists who look forward to the battles of the imminent End Time that will destroy the enemies of God. They interpret these texts literally and quote them far more frequently than the Sermon on the Mount. The aggression towards the enemy commanded in Koran 2:191 concludes: "If they cease hostilities, there can be no further hostility." (Koran 2. 193). No such quarter is allowed those who fight the Word of God in the battles of Revelation.

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Muslim rallies across #US denounced by civil rights groups. #Islamophobia #America #Trump

So-called ‘anti-Sharia’ rallies across almost 30 US cities come as hate crimes on the rise, prompting criticism and counter-protests

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/10/anti-muslim-rallies-across-us-denounced-by-civil-rights-groups

A wave of anti-Muslim rallies planned for almost 30 cities across America on Saturday by far-right activists has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights groups and inspired counter-protests nationwide.

A number of small protests took place and in many places, including New York and Chicago, a few dozen “anti-sharia” demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters.

Hundreds of counter-protesters marched through Seattle on Saturday to confront a few dozen people claiming sharia was incompatible with western freedoms. The counter protesters banged drums, cymbals and cowbells behind a large sign saying “Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors.” Participants chanted “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here” on their way to City Hall, while a phalanx of bicycle police officers separated them from an anti-sharia rally.

Later, Seattle police used tear gas to disperse rowdy demonstrators and made several arrests. The department said it was still reviewing how many people were arrested and what charges they might face.

Elsewhere, in St Paul in Minnesota, police made seven arrests as fights broke out during demonstrations there.

The rallies have been organized by Act for America, which claims to be protesting about human rights violations but has been deemed an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The demonstrations prompted security fears at mosques across the country and come at a time when hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise.


A coalition of 129 national and local organizations amplified concerns on Friday in a letter urging mayors to denounce the marches, which also coincide with Ramadan, the holy month in which Muslims fast during the daylight hours.

The Saturday rallies in Chicago occurred near a building developed by Donald Trump. Giant letters spelling out “Trump” loomed on the high-rise over the more than 100 protesters.

Riaz Haq said...

Every society in the world today has its own norms that limit free speech in different ways to prevent violence and protect people. https://points.datasociety.net/are-there-limits-to-online-free-speech-14dbb7069aec


Are There Limits to Online Free Speech ?
When technologists defend free speech above all other values, they play directly into the hands of white nationalists.


In November 2016, Twitter shut down the accounts of numerous alt-right leaders and white nationalists. Richard Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute and a vocal neo-Nazi, told the LA Times it was a violation of his free speech. “[Twitter needs] to issue some kind of apology and make it clear they are not going to crack down on viewpoints. Are they going to now ban Donald Trump’s account?”
Old and new media organizations are scrambling to define acceptable speech in the era of President Trump. But Twitter is in a particularly poor position. The prevalence of hateful speech and harassment on the platform scared off potential acquisitions by both Disney and Salesforce. The company has dealt with one PR disaster after another, from Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones temporarily leaving the platform after being harassed and doxed, to a viral video of obscene and abusive tweets sent to female sports journalists, to pro-Trump accounts sending Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald animated gifs designed to induce epileptic seizures. A site once touted as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” is now best known for giving a voice to Donald Trump and #gamergaters.
At the same time, attempts by Twitter and sites with similar histories of free speech protections to regulate the more offensive content on their site have been met with furious accusations of censorship and pandering to political correctness. This enables the alt-right to position themselves as victims, and left-wing SJWs (“social justice warriors”) as aggressors. Never mind that private companies can establish whatever content restrictions they wish, and that virtually all these companies already have such guidelines on the books, even if they are weakly enforced. When technology companies appear to abandon their long-standing commitment to the First Amendment due to the concerns of journalists, feminists, or activists, the protests of those banned or regulated can seem sympathetic.

How did we get to the point where Twitter eggs spewing anti-Semitic insults are seen as defenders of free speech? To answer this question, we have to delve into why sites like Reddit and Twitter have historically been fiercely committed to freedom of speech. There are three reasons:
The roots of American tech in the hacker ethic and the ethos that “information wants to be free”
CDA 230 and the belief that the internet is the last best hope for free expression
A belief in self-regulation and a strong antipathy to government regulation of the internet
But a commitment to freedom of speech above all else presumes an idealistic version of the internet that no longer exists. And as long as we consider any content moderation to be censorship, minority voices will continue to be drowned out by their aggressive majority counterparts.

Riaz Haq said...

Donors vs Voters


http://archive.jsonline.com/news/opinion/election-donors-vs-voters-g675tj0-175510321.html/


It's both comical and depressing at the same time. One commercial says Mitt Romney will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 followed immediately by an ad claiming President Barack Obama's plan will raise taxes on the same people by $5,000. The next ad tells us that Romney wants to throw Grandma out in the cold by dismantling Medicare. Two minutes later, an earnest voice informs us that Obama has "stolen" $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and its government death panels.

After almost two years of nonstop recall elections, we in Wisconsin have grown so inured to political advertising that it amounts to little more than irritating background noise. But to someone from the 41 non-battleground states, the incessant politicking must be pretty astonishing.

Maybe people from California or Texas might feel as though they are being taken for granted when they see the amounts being spent in Wisconsin. Perhaps they're jealous at all the special attention being lavished on Wisconsin by the next president. But what does all that spending really amount to?

Yes, it is easy to tune out the ads and to roll your eyes when one comes on every 15 minutes, but there is something very disturbing going on beneath all this that isn't so amusing. Because today's politicians rely so heavily on television advertising and believe that they absolutely have to have it to win their elections, raising money has become their primary mission.

It's why Gov. Scott Walker spent so much time out of state at big-ticket fundraisers before his recall election, all the while claiming the recall effort was being driven by out-of-state interests. It didn't matter how hypocritical it looked; money was what he needed to win the recall election.

It's why Romney spent so little time campaigning even as his campaign was faltering after the Republican National Convention; he apparently believed fundraising was more important than campaign rallies in front of actual voters.

It's why Obama still attends as many Wall Street-sponsored fundraisers as he can, even as he simultaneously campaigns on the evils of the unregulated greed of the big banks. It's all money all the time.

What gets lost in this sea of campaign cash is the average voter's voice. If Romney thinks he absolutely has to win Wisconsin to get elected, he should be practically living here, telling us what he is going to do to make our lives better. Instead, he's in Texas, which he will carry by 15 points because that's where the big campaign donors live.

So the next time you hear an ad telling you that Obama has destroyed the country or that Romney's only purpose in life is to make the lives of the super-rich even cushier, remember what you aren't hearing is what the candidate is going to do for us here in Wisconsin.

Remember that the commercial cost a lot of money to produce and put on the air. Remember that the candidate got that money from someone who has his own agenda and it probably isn't the same as yours. Remember the candidate's loyalty that may have been bought by the donor.

Then remember how a democracy is supposed to work, and let's all try to figure out a way to get back to that.

Riaz Haq said...

Joshua Green, author of "Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, And The Storming Of The Presidency" on NPR's Fresh Air:


I talk a little bit about Bannon's time in the Navy. He was on a destroyer in the Persian Gulf right during the Iran hostage crisis and described to me the Middle East, Pakistan as being almost primeval. He considered Muslims these frightening, threatening people who ultimately wanted to invade the West. And I think that that is where a lot of his anti-immigrant, Islamophobic ideas really started from.

http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=537885042

Riaz Haq said...

#Bannon said he learned to fear #Muslims when he visited #Karachi. Except he was probably in #HongKong. https://interc.pt/2uw1wSz by @maassp IF YOU ASK Steve Bannon how he got the idea that Muslims in the Middle East are a civilizational threat to America, he will say that his eyes were first opened when he served on a Navy destroyer in the Arabian Sea. At least that’s what he told the journalist Joshua Green, whose new book about President Donald Trump’s senior counselor is a best-seller.

“It was not hard to see, as a junior officer, sitting there, that [the threat] was just going to be huge,” Bannon said. He went on:
We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan – this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it – the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port. The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.

That’s Bannon’s version. There are a few problems with it, however.

The port of Karachi was not run by the British in 1979. Karachi, which is the commercial hub of Pakistan, had a population that was well short of 10 million (it was about half that) and is not usually considered part of the Middle East. But the biggest problem is that the destroyer Bannon served on, the USS Paul F. Foster, never visited Karachi while Bannon was aboard.

Six sailors who served on the Foster with Bannon told The Intercept that the vessel did not stop at Karachi during its 1979-1980 deployment. The recollections of these enlisted men and officers are supported by the ship’s deck logs, which show no stop on the way to the Arabian Sea and are available to the public at the National Archives. And a map of the Foster’s port calls that was published in its “cruisebook” shows stops in Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, and Singapore — but not Karachi.
It turns out that Bannon, who has drawn a large amount of criticism for his exclusionary stances on race, religion, and immigration, has also inaccurately described his military service, simultaneously creating an erroneous narrative of how he came to an incendiary anti-Muslim worldview that helps shape White House policy.

It’s not clear whether Bannon’s account of visiting Karachi is an intentional fabrication or a false memory that reflects his subconscious fears, or something else entirely. Whatever the reason, it raises a lot of questions. Bannon did not respond to several inquiries from The Intercept. A close friend of Bannon’s who is in regular contact with him, and spoke on the condition of not being named, said Bannon had not read Green’s book and that the quotes attributed to him had not been checked with him. Green, the author, told The Intercept that the interview with Bannon occurred in 2015 and was recorded and transcribed.

The news of Bannon’s problematic narrative comes at a delicate time for the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which under his leadership produced incessant streams of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stories. Bannon’s Navy service has always been deeply relevant to his work at the White House because it has been used as a reason for giving him influence on military affairs that his critics believe he does not merit. Bannon reportedly has a tense relationship with the retired generals who occupy key positions in the Trump administration – Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and particularly National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that McMaster has been waging a campaign to cleanse the National Security Council of Bannon’s allies, and that the two men have argued about Afghanistan policy.