9249Islamophobia in USA: Former terrorist urges legislators to ban Sharia law in courts
- Mar 19, 2011Former terrorist urges legislators to ban Sharia law in courts
BY REBECCA BERG > rberg@... > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 6:52 pm
A former terrorist, Kalam Saleem, phoned in to a House committee today, urging legislators to ban Sharia law in state courts.
Saleem was formerly associated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and later with Saddam Hussein, according to the biography he offered by phone to members of the House Judiciary Committee.
During the call, he offered support for a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Wells, R-Cabool, which proposes changing the state constitution to block courts from making decisions based on foreign laws - specifically Sharia law, the religious code of Islam.
Saleem, who now practices Christianity, said that Sharia law should not be allowed in state courts because it is restrictive and oppressive, and that it discriminates against women and homosexuals.
Wells took a similar stance, if a less subtle one: That Islamic law is a dangerous influence on secular judicial proceedings.
"This is to protect the people of America," Wells said of his bill.
He went on to compare Sharia law to a disease, like polio. Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City, stopped him to confirm.
"Sharia law is like polio?" Kander asked.
"Absolutely, as far as I'm concerned in this country," Wells responded.
Kander, who spent time in Afghanistan gathering intelligence for the military, said he found that "offensive."
Wells' bill is one of two measures currently under consideration by the Judiciary Committee that would ban foreign laws in Missouri courts.
Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, does not address Sharia law by name, but would similarly prohibit courts from citing foreign laws in decisions.
Both Curtman and Wells classified their bills as preventative, and did not offer examples of any courts using Sharia or other foreign laws.
The move to ban foreign laws, Sharia or otherwise, has been controversial since it received unambiguous backing from House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, earlier this month.
"We believe that the laws of this country should trump any other laws regarding the citizens of our country within our borders," Tilley said in a statement at the time.
That support from the top legislator in the House could propel the legislation forward, but the two bills would not move through committee to the full House until after legislative spring break at the earliest.
Woman denied flight cites anti-Muslim bias
BY ROBERT J. HAWKINS
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 16, 2011 AT 6:13 P.M., UPDATED MARCH 16, 2011 AT 6:37 P.M.
A San Diego Muslim woman wearing a headscarf who was removed from a Southwest Airlines plane at Lindbergh Field on Sunday has received several apologies from the airline and a voucher good for a free flight “as a gesture of goodwill.”
But the woman, Irum Abbasi, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy and civil rights group which has taken up her cause, said at a Wednesday morning news conference at Lindbergh Field that this event is a sign of a anti-Muslim sentiment spreading through the country.
A Pakistan native and U.S. citizen, Abbasi was removed from a flight to San Jose on Sunday after an attendant thought she heard her say “It’s a go” on her cell phone. Abbasi said she actually said “I’ve got to go” because the flight was ready to depart.
“I was in tears,” said Abbasi. “I have lived in the United States 10 years. I am a U.S. citizen.” While she was quickly cleared, Abbasi said she was told she could not re-board the flight because the crew was uncomfortable with her presence.
Abbasi and CAIR both link her ejection to last week’s controversial congressional hearing on “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” by Rep. Peter King, R-New York. A call to King’s Washington office has not been returned.
“Apart from the negative image it portrayed of the Muslim community in front of all the people at the airport, I strongly believe that this was a direct result of the hearings held by Peter King,” said Abbasi, a graduate student in experimental psychology at San Jose State who was returning there for a research project. (The group initially said Abbasi went to San Diego State.)
Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the local American-Islamic council chapter, said that his organization is seeing an increase in anti-Muslim attitudes and that Abbasi’s isn’t an isolated case. “Our chapter has received many calls and many cases,” he said. “It is sad to see people acting out of fear, not having enough information.”
CAIR and Abbasi are seeking an internal Southwest investigation into what policies were followed to remove her from the plane. “This time it was my head scarf,” she said. “Next time, will they be uncomfortable with my accent?”
Southwest apologized to Abbasi on Sunday and in a phone call Wednesday morning. It has also issued a printed apology: “We sincerely apologize for the Customer’s inconvenience, and we regret that she was unable to travel as scheduled. We accommodated her on the next flight to San Jose, and we issued her a travel voucher as a gesture of goodwill for her inconvenience.”
Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said on Wednesday that flight crews “are trained to respond to a multitude of situations.” Crews are told that “any time there is a concern, to exercise an abundance of caution when it comes to safety and security,” Mainz added.
Abbasi said she does not specifically blame the flight attendant. “I’m upset with Southwest Airlines. She could not make that decision on her own,” she said. Abbasi and CAIR downplayed the prospect of a future lawsuit, but said “All options remain open.”
“I don’t want this to happen to my kids in the future,” she said.
Abbasi said she gave the voucher away and, despite the apology, won’t be flying Southwest in the future.
A Local GOP Leadership No Longer in Lock Step
Sharia threat bandwagon just keeps rolling on
The Peter King hearing is a showcase for the cottage industry of conspiracy theories about Muslim destabilisation of America
When South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan went on a tirade about sharia law threatening the constitution at Peter King's hearing on "The Extent of Radicalisation in the Muslim Community" last week, he provided a telling window into the conspiracy theories that motivate many supporters of King's McCarthy-esque probe.
As I discussed in greater detail last week on the Religion Dispatches website, the notion that sharia law has infiltrated America through a fifth column of subversive Muslims who secretly want to install an Islamic theocracy in place of a constitutional republic is one that is commonly accepted in many conservative circles.
A cottage industry of self-styled national security experts, pundits, ardent Christian Zionists, Republican operatives, thinktanks, and advocacy groups have spent years laying the groundwork for portraying American Muslims as part of worldwide plot to "Islamicise" America. This cottage industry has fuelled rising anti-Muslim bigotry in the US, including growing efforts to thwart the building of mosques and community centres, an increasing number of states taking up bills that would ban sharia law, and now, King's highly publicised hearings. All of this is the result of a relentless campaign years in the making.
The conspiracy theory about sharia law is fivefold: that the goal of Islam is totalitarianism; that the mastermind of bringing this totalitarianism to the world is the Muslim Brotherhood, the grandfather of all Islamic groups from Hamas to the Islamic Society of North America; that these organisations within the US are traitors in league with the American left and are bent on acts of sedition against America; that the majority of mosques in the US are run by imams who promote such sedition; and that through this fifth column sharia law has already infiltrated the US and could result in a complete takeover if not stopped.
King, who has said on several occasions that 80% of the mosques in the US are run by radical imams, provided no proof whatsoever of this assertion at his hearings. His three witnesses, two of whom were relatives of young men they claimed were "brainwashed" by radical Islam, all offered nothing but opinion based on personal experience. King's key witness, Arizona physician Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the non-profit American Islamic Forum for Democracy, is the star of the controversial film The Third Jihad, one of the principal pieces of propaganda about the supposed sharia threat.
The Third Jihad, which also featured appearances by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Joseph Lieberman, and former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, was produced by the Clarion Fund, a non-profit founded by officials with the Orthodox Jewish group Aish Hatorah. Clarion's previous anti-Islam film, Obsession, was subject to scathing criticism by prominent Jewish leaders when it was widely distributed in 2008, with one calling it "the protocols of the learned elders of Saudi Arabia". Clarion recently appointed Frank Gaffney, the controversial president of the Centre for Security Policy, which has played a central role in fomenting fears of this supposed "sharia threat", to its advisory board. Duncan, in his statement at King's hearing, citing approvingly Gaffney's 2010 "Team B" report, probably the most extensive rendering of the sharia conspiracy theory.
Jasser, through his appearance in The Third Jihad, played a significant role in promoting the false claim that a single document introduced in the terrorism financing prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation is proof of the supposed sharia plot. The document, "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America", was written by a lone member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1990s, and identifies more than 200 groups by name as possible allies. But "nobody has ever produced any evidence that the document was more than something produced by the daydream of one enthusiast", says Nathan Brown, a professor at The George Washington University and an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood.
That hasn't stopped the sharia conspiracists: the document is widely cited as proof that the Muslim Brotherhood has plotted this sharia takeover with the approval and assistance of virtually every Muslim organisation in America. Gaffney said recently: "It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organisation in the United States is actually controlled by the MB or a derivative organisation. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its constitution." Allen West, a Florida Republican, has called the supposed sharia threat "sedition".
As aspiring Republican presidential candidates, most notably but not exclusively Newt Gingrich, jump on the "sharia threat" bandwagon, and as Republicans hail the King hearings as essential to America's security, it also becomes clear how anti-Muslim fervour will play a role in the 2012 election. After spending years laying the groundwork with its base, the sharia conspiracy industry will continue to portray – by innuendo, if not outright accusation – President Obama as a crypto-Muslim whose administration is complicit in nothing short of treason.
Southwest Apologizes for Removing Muslim Passenger From Flight
Video: Outrage After Calif. Muslim Removed From Plane (CAIR)
'Too many mosques' is a good thing
Muslims who attend mosque turn into productive citizens, not terrorists
Monday, March 14, 2011
By Zohra Lasania
U.S. Rep. Peter King, who chaired his first congressional hearing last week on "the radicalization of American Muslims," has revealed his Islamophobic mindset with such statements as "there are too many mosques in this country."
According to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, there are about 335,000 religious congregations in the United States. All but 12,000 are Christian. Of these, only 1,200 are Muslim.
But even if there were half as many mosques as churches, so what, Mr. King? What are you afraid of? And what do you know of mosques? Do you know what mosques are and who goes to them?
Let's take a look. I can speak for my own city.
Greater Pittsburgh has about 10 mosques, including ones in Oakland, Monroeville and Ambridge.
Each of these mosques came into being as a Friday prayer group, then developed into a Sunday school for children and then into a community center, where families gather to celebrate festivals and mourn when calamities befall them.
Anti-Mosque Fever From Sheepshead Bay to NY Supreme Court
Two mosques planned for two very different parts of NYC are facing intensifying opposition from increasingly determined critics. Tomorrow, Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice will square off in New York State Supreme Court against the Muslim community center and mosque planned for Lower Manhattan. The ACLJ says the city erred by rejecting landmark status for the building at 45-47 Park Place that would be razed to build the mosque. Meanwhile, in Sheepshead Bay, about 120 people demonstrated against a proposed mosque yesterday, while mosque supporters rallied across the street. Here's video:
The local group Bay People fears a mosque would create traffic congestion in the neighborhood, and WNYC reports the group also worries that the mosque would broadcast the call to prayer outside. But the developer, Allowey Ahmed, says the call to prayer would not be heard outside, and insists most of the congregation of 150 families would arrive on foot, not by car. "I don't know what is required of us to do, but of course we denounce terrorism," Ahmed tells WNYC. "Everyone denounces terrorism. We are the first ones to suffer from terrorism. We are the ones who are labeled terrorists."
But anti-Islam crusader Pamela Geller knows better. On her blog, she's posted photos of the counter-protesters (who are part of a group called NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia) and writes, "Look at those on the left—they know not what they fight for. They are carrying water for the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth." During a speech at yesterday's demonstration, she asserted that the group behind the mosque is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. "Why put it here?" Geller asked. "There are hundreds of mosques in this city, there are thousands of mosques in this country. Why here?" What, isn't it far enough from Ground Zero?
Bus driver charged in attack on Madera Planned Parenthood
A Chowchilla school bus driver has been charged with firebombing a Planned Parenthood office here last September, and authorities said Thursday he also is responsible for vandalism and menacing signs left at the city's Islamic center.
Donny Eugene Mower, 37, of Madera, was arrested Wednesday on federal charges of attacking a reproductive health clinic. If convicted, he faces a minimum of five years in prison.
The September firebombing came several weeks after someone threw a brick at the Madera Islamic Center and left signs there, including one that read, "Wake up America, the enemy is here."
An entity calling itself the "American Nationalist Brotherhood" took credit for both incidents, but U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner said Mower is its only member. Wagner said his office is determining whether also to prosecute Mower for hate crimes.
#CAIR: Anti-Shariah Measure Introduced in New Mexico
Matthew Arco, Roswell Daily Record, 3/10/11 -- A Roswell Senate lawmaker is seeking a constitutional amendment aimed at banning the use of Islamic law in New Mexico courts.
Sen. Rod Adair’s, R-Roswell, Senate joint resolution would prohibit state judges from considering or applying Sharia or international laws of other nations or cultures in their decisions. The resolution, which would go before New Mexicans for a vote if it were to clear the Roundhouse, was slated for discussion during the Senate Rules Committee, Wednesday.
However, the committee adjourned prior to hearing the resolution.
Repeated messages left by the Roswell Daily Record with Adair and his office for comment weren’t returned.
The resolution reads “the courts shall not consider or apply Sharia law” and “the courts shall not consider or apply a rule of comity to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, international law, laws promulgated by foreign governments or national laws of foreign countries.”
Adair’s proposal drew sharp criticism from a Washington D.C.-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, which called the resolution an attempt at “bashing Islam and Muslims,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“These extremist politicians seem to think it’s worth dividing our nation along religious lines in order to score some cheap political points with their extremist base,” he said. “It’s unconstitutional on its face and, if enacted, it would be overturned as sure as the sun rises.”
A chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was successful in blocking a similar constitutional amendment in Oklahoma, which also sought to ban Islamic law in the state’s courts.
In November 2010, a federal judge temporarily blocked Oklahoma from putting it into effect after the measure passed with about 70 percent of voters supporting it, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which sued to block the amendment.
Hooper says similar proposals to Adair’s resolution have been introduced in about a dozen states, calling it “an unfortunate trend.”
“I think we’re going to see more of it in the run up to the 2010 elections,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think that the sponsors of these bills really care that much that they actually get enacted — they’re more interested in throwing mud against the wall (and) smearing Islam.”
Video: CAIR Says King Hearings 'Just Dividing Us Further'
Anti-Muslim hearing is an affront to patriotic Americans
Japanese Americans: House hearings on radical Islam 'sinister'
During the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Basim Elkarra was passing by an Islamic school in Sacramento when he did a double-take: The windows were covered with thousands of origami cranes - peace symbols that had been created and donated by Japanese Americans.
Amid the anger and suspicions being aimed at Muslims at that time, the show of support "was a powerful symbol that no one will ever forget," said Elkarra, a Muslim American community leader in California.
It was also the beginning of a bond between the two groups that has intensified as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) prepares to launch a series of controversial hearings Thursday on radical Islam in the United States.
Spurred by memories of the World War II-era roundup and internment of 110,000 of their own people, Japanese Americans - especially those on the West Coast - have been among the most vocal and passionate supporters of embattled Muslims. They've rallied public support against hate crimes at mosques, signed on to legal briefs opposing the government's indefinite detention of Muslims, organized cross-cultural trips to the Manzanar internment camp memorial near the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, and held "Bridging Communities" workshops in Islamic schools and on college campuses.
Attack on two Sikh men seen as possible hate crime
By Robert Lewis
Published: Sunday, Mar. 6, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 1A
Police said Saturday that they don't know why someone gunned down two men – frail from heart attacks and advancing years – as they slowly ambled through a quiet Elk Grove neighborhood during their daily afternoon walk.
Surinder Singh, 67, died Friday afternoon on the sidewalk along East Stockton Boulevard near Geneva Pointe Drive. Gurmej Atwal, his 78-year-old friend, was shot twice in the chest. His family said he was in critical but stable condition.
In a statement released late Saturday, Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner called on witnesses to come forward and said, "We have no evidence to indicate there was a hate or bias motivation for this crime; however, the obvious Sikh appearance of the men, including the traditional Dastar headwear and lack of any other apparent motive, increasingly raise that possibility."
Lehner also said he had "made preliminary notification" to the local FBI office.
Relatives and friends in the tightknit Sikh community to which the two men belong were not as hesitant to call the shooting a hate crime.
Singh and Atwal, like many Sikh men, had thick beards and wore turbans – traditions that have made Sikhs the target of bigotry and violent attacks since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"The turban is a big problem for us," said Gurjatinder Singh Randhawa, chief editor of the Sikh newspaper Punjab Mail USA. "We look the same as Afghan Taliban – but we are not Taliban."
Randhawa recalled the beating of a Sikh cab driver four months ago in West Sacramento.
The driver told authorities that two passengers had uttered anti-Islamic slurs as they attacked him and then beat a female passenger who tried to stop them. Police have since arrested two men on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon and commission of a hate crime in connection with the attack.
"A lot of people don't understand where we're from. They think we're Muslim. We're not," said Ram Singh, one of dozens of mourners who gathered Saturday at Singh's home on McGray Way.
Surinder Singh was a truck driver who had worked in both India and Libya before moving to the United States about five years ago, son Harvinder Singh said.
He had recently survived his fourth heart attack.
The senior Atwal moved to the United States in 2001, and the family settled in Elk Grove in 2003.
Both victims lived quiet, suburban lives.
Rising anti-Muslim rhetoric?
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf examines the congressional hearing on the so-called radicalisation of American Muslims.
New York rally condemns congressional hearing on Muslim terrorism
Protesters say hearings planned by Congressman Peter King are unfair for singling out Muslims rather than extremists
Council on American-Islamic Relations responds to Florida anti-Shariah bill
Responding to news that state Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, has filed what one right-wing organization is dubbing an “anti-Shariah” law, Nezar Hamze, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tells The Florida Independent that Hays’ bill could impact believers in all faiths and that its filing shows Hays is “disconnected” from his constituents and Florida’s “real problems.
According to a state Senate summary, Hays’ law “specifies the public policy of this state in applying the choice of a foreign law, legal code, or system under certain circumstances” and that “certain decisions rendered under such laws, codes, or systems are void.”
Hamze responded to news of Hays’ legislation via email:
I see an impact on all religions regarding marriage contracts, wills, and burial rights.
So any follower of any religion would not be able to practice there constitutional protected right and practice there faith in executing any of the three mentioned above.
The most troubling issue is that State and Federal law already trump International Law. Adding another law that restates laws already in place is a waist of taxpayers money.
Senator Hays has shown how disconnected he is from his constituents. We have real problems on the ground that we are looking to our leadership to address. Unemployment, gas prices, crime, economy, helping small businesses grow, helping law enforcement, helping education improve and energy independence. If he is trying to win political points with this bill he has lost his way as a Senator.
Hamze says he called Hays’ office to discuss the bill but received only vague answers. He says he wants to know why the lawmaker filed this bill and who helped draft it.
Hays’ office has not responded to Independent questions about his bill and the fact that the controversial group ACT! for America is calling it an “anti-Shariah” law.
US anti-Muslim rally raises fears
Incident seen as another disturbing evidence of Islamophobia by the right-wing Tea Party.
Hate Comes to Orange County
Protest of an American Muslim Relief Group's fundraiser advocated Hate and Violence.
(Mar 02, 2011 - ANAHEIM, CA)
The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today released a video of a rally organized by anti-Muslim bigots to protest a February fundraising event held by an American Muslim relief group for relief work and charity in the U.S.
A few hundred protesters showed up to the rally, which was sponsored by groups such as: “We Surround Them OC 912” (a local Tea Party group), Rabbi David Eliezrie of Chabad - Yorba Linda, North Orange County Conservative Coalition, ACT! for America, and Pamela Geller (whose group “Stop the Islamization of America” has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center).
Elected officials Congressmen Ed Royce and Gary Miller, and Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly also attended and spoke at the protest rally.
The event – held at Yorba Linda Community Center, a facility that has been frequented by Muslim families and businesses over the years – first became a target of anti-Muslim bigots over two of the fundraiser’s speakers, who were to speak on the importance of charity in Islam. Initial attempts of some groups to have the Yorba Linda Community Center and the Yorba Linda City Council cancel the fundraising event failed, followed by the protest.
Growing anti-Muslim hatred in the U.S.
BY GLENN GREENWALD
Next week, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) will convene a Congressional hearing to investigate the loyalty and "radicalization" of American Muslims. Earlier this week in Tennessee, a bill was proposed to make it a felony to follow sharia law -- which would essentially criminalize the practice of Islam in that state. Last year, mosques in Tennessee, Oregon and Georgia were targeted with apparent arson. The case against the Park51 community center -- including from mainstream TV journalists -- was grounded in the warped premise that Muslims generally bore guilt for the 9/11 attacks. All of these sentiments are regularly bolstered by a deranged cult-leader/TV personality followed by millions.
And last month, in Orange County, California, Tea Party members and other protesters bombarded a charity event sponsored by a Muslim group -- and the families of American Muslims entering the event -- with the most foul, hateful, threatening messages possible, while various politicians, including a member of Congress, praised the protesters. Just please watch this video, compiled by CAIR-California, to get a taste of what is happening (you can watch it below or here):
This is what anti-Muslim hate looks like
Anti-Muslim Protestor Throws Crosses At Feet Of Man Praying By White House (VIDEO)
A group of anti-Sharia protestors who planned to counter-protest the planned pro-Sharia rally by the radical provocateur Anjem Choudary in front of the White House on Thursday found themselves without an opponent to debate.
The counter rally planned by Frank Gaffney in response to Choudary's pro-Sharia demonstration was left without a raison d'etre after Choudary failed to show up as he'd previously announced (and promoted on Fox News). That left Gaffney and his group preaching to the choir so to speak as they denounced Sharia law to their followers as well as media and curious onlookers.
But just as the rally was dying out, a Muslim man who showed up to pray in front of the White House. He was quickly surrounded by a large group of protestors who shouted an array of insults at him: mocking him for drinking Starbucks coffee, telling him to go back to his country and even throwing tiny crosses at his feet as he prayed. I captured the scene in the video below.
Video Captures Protesters, Politicians Berating Muslims at Yorba Linda Charity Function
Allen West "Brought Great Shame" to U.S., Says Muslim who Confronted the Congressman
By Eric Barton, Mon., Feb. 28 2011 @ 12:05PM
At a town-hall-style meeting February 21, Nezar Hamze stood to ask Allen West a pointed question. Hamze, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, asked West why he keeps claiming that the Qur'an instructs Muslims to attack America (read more about that exchange here). West cut Hamze off before he could say much more than that. So we asked Hamze to write up what he intended to say to West that night. Below is Hamze's response.
Congressman Allen West was once asked by a Marine why people would warp the religion of Islam to attack America. Mr. West replied to him: It's not a perversion; they are doing exactly what the Qur'an is telling them to do. So I called him out on his statements.
It was a very simple question I asked: Can you show me where in the Qur'an it says to
attack America, kill Americans, or kill innocent people? He replied that the Qur'an was written before America existed and mentioned something about the verse of the sword and killing infidels. Unfortunately the crowd was so excited and so vocal against me that my response was cut off. Mr. West lost his composure and told me "not to blow sunshine up his butt." Then he said that I attacked America and told me to go home. For the record, I didn't go home; I returned to my seat and finished listening to his presentation.
Mr. West, you have brought great shame to the United States House of Representatives. Your behavior that evening represents the antithesis of our democratic republic. We look to our leaders to answer difficult questions with dignity and composure. Your behavior represented that of a military commander barking orders at a soldier. Mr. West, you are no longer a military commander, and I am not your enemy. You looked at me and said, "You attacked us, you attacked us." I didn't attack anything, and for you to accuse me of such horrific events is just as baseless as your knowledge of Islam. Terrorists attacked us on 9/11, Mr. West. Terrorists attacked us!
I grew up in Fort Lauderdale just like any normal American boy. I was heavily into sports -- baseball, football, wrestling, boxing, golf, triathlons, and karate. I also hit the gym pretty hard. I studied automotive technology and took a career path into management. I continued my education in business management and specialized in operations management. I have authored leadership development courses and facilitated training for multiple companies. There's just one thing that sets me apart from most other people: When I was a child, I began practicing Islam.
I grew up with many friends of different faiths and always got along. I would even go to church and temple with them every once and a while. I've always been a law-abiding citizen and often volunteered for different groups. I was a Big Brother volunteer as well as always volunteering for my local community functions at the Islamic Centers. I currently have four beautiful children, and I am happily married. My two boys are following in my footsteps, and my two girls are getting ready to start playing softball.
I recently started with the Council on American Islamic Relations as executive director. As an American Muslim that practices Islam, I have seen our society change over the last 30 years. In the '80s, the most controversial event the American Muslim community had to deal with was the film Not Without My Daughter. Oh, how the times have changed. Today's society, the American people are still looking for justice for the terrorist attacks on September 11. While America has held many accountable, we still have not seen justice. Some are trying to hold the American Muslim community accountable, and some even go as saying Islam attacked America -- as Allen West said to me.
Allen West was brought to my attention by a member of the community, referring me to clips of his campaign events. As you review the clips, you quickly see Mr. West is presenting himself as a critic of Islam to the American people, while teaching them falsehoods about our faith. He is not the only politician trying to score points with his constituents using Islam as the punching bag. This unfortunately has become a nationwide phenomenon. The critics of Islam self-proclaim scholarly knowledge and feed the American public twisted, perverted explanations of the Qur'an that have no base and support.
Mr. West, you have developed an autocratic style of rambling off dates and names of wars mostly regarding imperial armies and the Ottoman Empire. You never actually go into the details of the war, you just name them, insinuating Islam was the problem. You have also surrounded yourself with the nation's most hateful anti-Islam propagandist. During your campaign, these propagandists gave you a stage and fueled your audiences with anti-Islam insults. There is also documented history that you have had relationships with these groups before you ran for office, while you were stationed abroad. Your progression in the pronunciation of Arabic words is a clear giveaway that you are not learning about Islam from a learned Muslim -- you are learning about Islam from non-Muslims.
You mentioned the verse of the sword and something about killing infidels when I asked you to show me a verse in the Qur'an. Well, Mr. West, there is no verse of the sword in the Qur'an and no mention of infidels. The word infidel is not even an Islamic word. The term infidel was used by the Christian crusaders against Muslims. That's right, Christians used to kill the infidels (the Muslims). I have yet to read a Qur'an that has the word infidel in it. Please feel free to do some research on the origin of that word.
I encourage you to actually read the Qur'an and not take a sentence out of context and change the meaning and historical relevance to suit your own needs. You can also reach out to the Islamic community that lives in your district. I will encourage them to contact you as well.
Mr. West, I have tried numerous times to reach out to you and explain the backlash that your rhetoric is causing. I am on the ground dealing with the product of Anti-Islam propaganda every day. For you to ignore my concerns regarding the Islamic community is irresponsible and does not reflect credibility on the United States House of Representatives. You work for us, the American taxpayers. We don't work for you.
In closing, I extend my hand in friendship as a father, as an American, and as a civil servant. I am not your enemy. When I stood in front of you that evening, I was representing the American Islamic community and the rights of all Americans. To live in peace, practice their faith without being harassed, and not be insulted by a United States congressman. We have all made mistakes, and we should learn from them. You have a unique opportunity to build bridges with the Islamic community and apologize to us for blaming Islam for the terrorist attacks on our great nation.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
-- Nezar Hamze
Hearings on Muslim Americans is un-American
Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade
Peter King has hearings, but is he listening?
The New York Republican congressman's inquiry into Islamic radicalisation has been overtaken by Muslims' democratic action
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 February 2011 23.00 GMT
The forthcoming congressional hearings on Islamic radicalisation in the United States promise to be a mixture of high theatre and low comedy. The topic is of compelling importance, but the question is whether it will generate more heat than light.
The hearings, scheduled to begin on 9 March, are the brainchild of New York Republican Peter King, whose opposition to Islamic terrorism has more to do with Islam than terrorism. King spent several decades as an avid and very public supporter of the Irish Republican Army and its cause. If there was cognitive dissonance in a conservative American Republican lending his good name to violent Irish nationalists, it never seemed to occur to King – which itself provides a grim foreboding of the probable depth and content of his hearings.
The pity is that Islamic radicalisation in the United States is a topic genuinely worthy of serious investigation. Only one Major Hasan need shoot down fellow Americans in his faith's name to make that clear – and the list of his would-be fellow murderers extends far beyond him. Among the first to tell you this are many American Muslims themselves, who are largely more concerned about the topic than anyone else.
"As a Muslim, I think that looking into homegrown extremism is crucial," says Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of the American Muslim portal altmuslim.com. He points out that "Muslim parents have on several occasions turned in their own children," as evidence of the seriousness with which the community regards radicalisation.
But it's not people like Amanullah who have the full glare of the media spotlight. Instead, discussion of Islam in American life is increasingly dominated by those who infantilise it in a dozen different ways. On the one side are Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush, each of whom adopted a role as de facto Islamic theologian and apologist in the wake of terror attacks. On the other side are those who believe that the faith is intrinsically incompatible with democratic liberalism; media charlatans like Glenn Beck; self-appointed pundits like Pamela Geller; and opportunists like Peter King.
From the perspective of world history, the King hearings are coming at a historical moment that may, in retrospect, seem somewhat embarrassing. As this is written, Muslim Arabs are throwing off tyrannies across North Africa, and struggling to do the same in the Persian Gulf. Libyans, in particular, are shaming the complacent practitioners of accommodation with dictators from Riyadh to Tripoli to Beijing, as they brave mercenaries and death in the pursuit of liberty. It's far too early to know what emerges from the Arab world's convulsions (like the French and Russian revolutions, they could easily end in more and worse oppression), but at the moment, the contention implicit in King's hearings – that Islamic populations are inevitably problematic to liberal democracy – seems debatable indeed.
The fact is that Islamic radicalisation, real as it is, will only be defeated by Muslims themselves. We non-Muslims have no power meaningfully to dictate Islamic discourse and thought, and as non-Muslim Americans, we should not seek it. (In this light, past reports of US government funding of Sufi institutions, on the grounds that they are "moderate", are examples of ill-informed policy.) The accommodation of varying faiths into our constitutional system has a long history. At the extreme end of the spectrum is the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, which disestablished Mormonism until it abolished polygamy. Perhaps Congressman King believes something similar is needed for Islam in America, and that his hearings will provide the groundwork to make it happen. If so, he is indulging in the same magical thinking that cast the IRA as freedom fighters.
The right way to fight Islamic radicalisation in America is to affirm America. This may seem trite, but it is the full truth. At our best, and in our aspirations, we are the nation of opportunity for all, inclusion for all, and liberty for all. Muslims are no less susceptible to the pull of the American dream than anyone else, and as Amanullah notes, the more they are part of the enduring fabric of our national life, the more they will act on their own to defend it – even against co-religionists who are extremists.
The truth is that Peter King's hearings are coming nearly a decade too late. American Muslims are in a different spot now, far from the days when genuinely questionable organisations like CAIR and ISNA ran the show – and so are Muslims worldwide. We need not be naïve about this, but consider the aforementioned Arab revolutions. Consider, too, what Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told me this past Wednesday in Istanbul (from where I am writing), when we discussed the Muslim Brotherhood in a group conversation about Islam and democracy.
The Brotherhood, said the PM, "shouldn't be part of the [democratic] process as long as they don't reject violence and extremism ... Anyone who wants to be part of the political process should adopt values that are compatible with democracy."
That's a Muslim democratic head of state affirming some very Burkean basic principles. We shouldn't fall prey to the conceit that Muslims abroad speak for Muslims at home, nor vice versa – but might Congressman King's hearings note that there are grounds for optimism in both camps?
Don't Put American Muslims on Trial
by CAIR on Thursday, 24 February 2011 at 15:05
Lawmakers Try To Make Islamic Law Illegal
Muslims have long looked to what's known as Shariah Law for moral guidance. But on Wednesday, state lawmakers took aim at the Islamic practice, claiming that it promotes terrorism.
State Senator Bill Ketron said there are Muslim extremists who interpret Shariah law as a license to committ terrorist acts. That's why he has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to follow the moral code.
The local Imam, or spiritual leader for the Islamic Center of Nashville, said Shariah Law is very much like the Ten Commandments, teaching Muslims "do not steal, do not kill, and do not commit adultery."
"I don't think you or I, or anyone, would agree that we want to revoke such concepts such moral standards. We are in need of it regardless of our race our tradition or our region is," Imam Mohamed Ahmed said.
Imam Ahmed said State Bill 1028 comes from a place of fear and misunderstanding of Islam and confuses most Muslims with extremists linked to Al Qaeda.
The bill, sponsored by State Senator Bill Ketron (R) Murfreesboro, would allow the Attorney General to identify groups that follow Shariah Law, and then cut off funding to those groups.
"There are some who take Sharia Law to the extreme we want to protect those people who are passive but for those who make it on the extreme part we want to be able to identify those who want to create the jihad against our citizens of Tennessee," Ketron said.
US soldiers punished for refusing to attend Christian rock concert
Sergeant confined those who refused to attend the BarlowGirl performance to barracks, and gave them punishment duties
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 9 March 2011 21.13 GMT
A US army sergeant who confined dozens of soldiers to barracks and ordered them to clean up after they refused to attend a Christian concert was part of an "absolute attempt to establish fundamental Christianity in the military", it is alleged.
The incident happened at Fort Eustis, Virginia, in May 2010 when Christian rock group BarlowGirl played at "the commanding general's spiritual fitness concerts".
Though concert attendance was meant to be voluntary, a staff sergeant – who has not been named – told 200 soldiers they could either go or stay in barracks.
About 20 soldiers who refused to attend, including some Muslims, were told not to use mobile phones or computers and to instead clean up their living area.
The actions of the sergeant were referred to his battalion commander for nonjudicial action. An army spokesman said any punishment, if decreed, would be kept confidential.
Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first reported soldiers' complaints, described the conclusion as typical for the military. "Blame some lower-ranking enlisted guy who didn't know any better," he said. "That is just a completely inappropriate and disgraceful statement."
Weinstein called the concerts "an absolute attempt to establish fundamental Christianity in the military".
The army spokesman described them as "nondenominational with no particular religious affiliation".
The concerts continue to be staged but are strictly voluntary, as they had been in May 2010, the spokesman said.