Islamophobia in America (USA): Exposing the infrastructure of anti-Muslim hate
- Exposing the infrastructure of anti-Muslim hate
By Frankie Martin
The dismissal of Juan Williams' from NPR once again exposes the difficulty America is having discussing Islam in a cool or rational manner. Williams' exchange with Bill O'Reilly featured much of the usual ignorance, with both agreeing that, although undefined "good Muslims" do exist, all Muslims must be considered potential soldiers in an Islamic war against America. This ludicrous belief is not only a distortion of reality, but also poses a serious threat to the well-being and security of the United States. In adopting this position, Williams and O'Reilly were reflecting the climate of hatred against Muslims that is fueled by prejudice and lack of knowledge.
The controversy comes in the context of the conflict around the Islamic center near Ground Zero, Pastor Terry Jones' desire to burn the Quran, a growing belief that sharia law is being imposed on America by Muslims, and increasing attacks on mosques in the United States. The interminable wars in Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the upcoming midterm elections, in which campaigns have employed heavy doses of anti-Muslim bile, also contribute to the darkening storm.
Today's high anti-Muslim antipathy is the latest wave of xenophobia in a nation that has seen many, especially when a threat was perceived to the country. While current anti-Islamic voices, like the hatemongers of previous eras, frequently attempt to co-opt the Founding Fathers' ideals to support their agenda, there can be no reconciling the vision of a pluralistic nation with the spewing of hate against a particular ethnic or religious group, in this case Muslims. While the debate stirred by these hateful voices is on one level about Islam and how to depict and understand it, it is also about the very definition of American identity.
Much of this bigotry and misinformation can be traced directly to what I am calling the infrastructure of hate, an industry which connects venomous anti-Islamic blogs, wealthy donors, powerful think tanks, and influential media commentators, journalists, and politicians. The most visible component of the infrastructure is the hate blogs, which have recently grown exponentially in number, influence, and stature.
From my position as a research fellow working with American University's Chair of Islamic Studies, Professor Akbar Ahmed, I have watched with horror as the hate blogs have begun to diffuse from their online cesspool to infect mainstream media, political rhetoric, and the larger discussion about Islam in America. There are hundreds, if not thousands of such blogs on the Internet.
To the hate bloggers, the world's 1.5 billion Muslims represent an insidious, inherently violent force seeking to enslave the United States by overthrowing the government and jettisoning the Constitution in favor of sharia law. Frequently the bloggers include caveats such as claiming that they are only talking about "Islamists," "Islamofascists," or those supporting "sharia," but by tying terrorism explicitly to the Prophet Muhammad and to the Quran, they equate it with Islam. Under this simplistic, warped logic, every Muslim is a potential, if not-fully formed, terrorist and every one of America's seven million Muslims a potentially treasonous enemy. Such crass, demonizing generalizations constitute hate speech.
I will focus on one such blog post to illustrate how the infrastructure of hate works, and how easily lies and slander can spread rapidly to achieve influence.
Last month, Laura Rubenfeld, an analyst at the Investigative Project on Terrorism headed by Steven Emerson, published an article in Pajamas Media tiitled "No, Professor Ahmed, the Founders Were Not So Fond of Islam." In it, Rubenfeld attacks Professor Akbar Ahmed, who has been speaking in the media about his new book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, for which he traveled to over 100 mosques in 75 U.S. cities. I participated in this study with Ahmed, traversing the country during fieldwork and spending weeks in the library researching the history of Islam in America. Since Ahmed's media statements reflect the contents of the book, Rubenfeld not only impugns the scholarship of Ahmed, whom the BBC calls the "world's leading authority on contemporary Islam," but also myself and the other four researchers who spent several years working on this project, three of whom are continuing on to PhD programs.
Ahmed's main argument in these media appearances was that Americans should welcome Muslims as full citizens as the Founding Fathers did, and quoted their views on Islam, which Rubenfeld found intolerable. As such, her article is a piece of pseudo-scholarship rife with distortion, slander, omission, and outright lies.
Rubenfeld endeavors to demonstrate that the Founding Fathers actually hated Islam, recognizing it for the threatening, destructive force she believes it to be. She begins by denying Ahmed's assertion that John Adams called the Prophet Muhammad a great truth seeker, saying that he "said absolutely nothing of the kind." This claim is false. To Adams, Prophet Muhammad was one of the world's "sober inquirers after truth" alongside such figures as Confucius and Socrates. For Prophet Muhammad and other great sages of history, Adams wrote, the "happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue." Adams believed that Americans should consider the example of these sages to create a society based on virtue and happiness rather than "fear," which he called the "foundation of most governments."
After calling Ahmed a liar for citing the above passage, Rubenfeld quotes a letter Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in which he calls the Prophet Muhammad "a military fanatic." She again fails to put the statement in context. In the letter, Adams cited Prophet Muhammad in the context of a discussion on Napoleon, whom he called a "fanatic," not in a religious sense but meaning that he relied on the military as a source of his might: "Napoleon is a military fanatic like Achilles, Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, Zingis, Kouli, Charles XII. The maxim and principle of all of them was the same. 'Jura negat sibi lata, nihil non arrogat armis (He denies that laws were made for him; he arrogates everything to himself by force of arms).'" Adams is not singling out the Prophet as some kind of religious militant, as Rubenfeld implies, but comparing the Prophet to Napoleon in including him in a list of the most famous and brilliant military geniuses in history. For Adams,
Prophet Muhammad existed in two categories, that of great religious sage and also that of head of state and military commander, the only figure to feature in both. While Adams valued the example of the Prophet as religious sage in imagining the United States, he hoped that the era of the military general as head of state might give way to democracy and usher in a new age in world history. The letter is still loaded with nuance, such as when Adams wonders if Napoleon's ascendency in France is not as "legitimate and authentic" in the context of that nation as "the election of Washington to the command of our army or to the chair of State?" We can agree or disagree with Adams' analysis, but Rubenfeld insults him by so disingenuously distorting the meaning of what he has written.
Rubenfeld's various other assertions are laughable, such as her attempt to prove Adams' unfavorable view of Islam by quoting the Orientalist-style forward from his copy of the Quran. Yes, she cites a forward Adams did not author as exposing his true feelings about Islam. She also absurdly quotes at length his son John Quincy Adams' critical views of Islam. John Quincy Adams is not a Founding Father and was a child when the nation was being created.
Ahmed's correct contention that Thomas Jefferson hosted the first iftar at the White House is also too much for Rubenfeld, who writes that Jefferson was not holding an iftar but merely being "polite" to the Tunisian ambassador, in whose honor the dinner was given. I would only ask Rubenfeld if she is even aware what an iftar is, as the invitation Jefferson sent to the ambassador stated that the White House dinner was being moved from the customary "half after three" to "precisely at sunset" to accommodate the ambassador's religious obligation. This means that Jefferson scheduled the dinner specially to ensure that the Ramadan fast would be broken at the proper time as mandated by the Quran, which apparently did not satisfy Rubenfeld's iftar requirements.
The most loathsome claim in Rubenfeld's article, however, comes in her discussion of Benjamin Franklin's views of Islam. As with Adams, she completely dismisses Ahmed's assertion that Franklin viewed the Prophet Muhammad as a model of compassion. Instead of quoting Franklin on the compassion of the Prophet, which I have written about here, or his desire to see the head cleric of Istanbul preach Islam to Americans from a Philadelphia pulpit Franklin had funded, she quotes Franklin saying that the Quran commands the "plundering of infidels."
The problem is that this example is from a satirical newspaper article Franklin wrote in support of the abolition movement. Surely Rubenfeld would have known the difference. Or was she hoping that her audience would not? Franklin wrote the article, under an alias, in response to Congressman James Jackson of Georgia, who gave an angry speech in Congress denouncing Franklin for advocating abolition and arguing that the enslavement of blacks is a Christian commandment justified in the Bible. In Franklin's satirical piece, he put Jackson's arguments into the mouth of a fictional North African Muslim, who argues before his equivalent of Congress, the Divan of Algiers, that the Quran commands the enslavement of white Christians. Christians would be happier, safer, and better clothed and lodged as slaves, the fictional Muslim contends, and besides, the economy of Algiers would be devastated if the Christians were freed. Franklin was attempting to get
pro-slavery Americans to see the hypocrisy of their position in using their fallacious logic to present an inverted situation in which they were the potential slaves. It is outrageous that Rubenfeld did not mention this context. If Rubenfeld had any intellectual capacity, she would also recognize how relevant this example is to the hate bloggers' contention that Islam is inherently violent because nineteen Muslims attacked the U.S. on 9/11. Would Rubenfeld also argue that Congressman Jackson's Biblical justification means that it is every authentic Christian's duty to enslave blacks?
As abysmal as Rubenfeld's reading of American history is, it would appear unwise for her to take on Islamic history. Yet at the end of the article she darkly and randomly notes that Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, mentions that Ahmed has "written" about Ibn Khaldun, and describes the fourteenth century scholar as a violent Islamic militant seeking to impose a worldwide caliphate. This is risible as Ibn Khaldun was a social scientist widely credited with establishing the discipline of anthropology and the theory of the rise and fall of civilizations, a process he believed had nothing to do with religion. The book Rubenfeld cites as a terrorist text, the Muqaddimah, was named by the famed British historian Arnold Toynbee as "the greatest work ever created by a man of intelligence at any time or anywhere." Even if she is correct in the preposterous contention that Ibn Khaldun was a terrorist, would it make Ahmed one
as well for holding an endowed university chair bearing the same name? An elementary school child would be unable to make sense of such an argument: If Tom likes to ride in a banana boat, does this mean that Tom is a banana?
Reflexively and ridiculously slandering any Muslim who conflicts with their worldview as a terrorist is typical of the anti-Islamic hate blogs. In this case, Rubenfeld implies that Ahmed, by identifying him with Ibn Khaldun, is a threat to the security of the U.S. in his presumed desire to wage "violence against non-Muslims as a religious duty, in order to achieve the larger goal of dismantling non-Muslim civilization and imposing an Islamic caliphate." Rubenfeld also raises the possibility that General David Petreaus, whom Ahmed has advised, will be "influenced" by Ahmed's "false teachings," thereby warning Americans that a terrorist may have access to the highest levels of the U.S. military.
Rubenfeld ignores much in her sinister efforts at character assassination. It is doubtful that a terrorist would be honored with an evensong service at the Washington National Cathedral, likened by senior Christian clergymen to figures including Gandhi and Desmond Tutu, or praised by Elie Wiesel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chief Rabbi of the U.K.--who called Ahmed a "role model" and "one of the great contemporary exponents of Islam, a man I admire as a scholar and cherish as a friend"--or Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, who thanked Ahmed on behalf of a "deeply appreciative" State of Israel for doing "more than any single individual I know building bridges between Muslims, Jews, [and] Christians." It is also unlikely that the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching would honor such a threat to America as Washington D.C. professor of the year for his work with American students, one of many educational accolades Ahmed has
received. Yet none of this matters to Rubenfeld, as it conflicts with the agenda of the hate blogosphere. Ahmed is a Muslim in the media who is saying that Islam is not inherently violent and that Islam and America are compatible. The bigoted bloggers could not permit this. If this kind of defamatory attack could be leveled at such a distinguished, world-renowned scholar, imagine what can be done to Muslims who do not have this background.
Like so many posts, Rubenfeld's article was circulated incestuously amongst the hate bloggers and caught fire online. In addition to its prominent placement on Pajamas Media, Rubenfeld's article was featured on the Jawa Report, Daniel Pipes' Campus Watch, Blazing Cat Fur (the blog which hosted an "Everybody Draw Muhammad" contest), the influential political site Free Republic, Tea Party websites, and other blogs including The West, Islam, and Sharia, Project Shining City, Infidel Blogger's Alliance, Socialism is Not the Answer, the website for America's Independent Party, and too many others to name. It was also featured on the popular Fark.com, which called the article "interesting." Fark is one of the top-100 visited English language websites in the world.
There are numerous comments on many of these websites that hail Rubenfeld as a brilliant scholar and thank her for exposing Ahmed's "lies." "If this lying professor really does teach at an American university," read one comment, "I would hope they reconsider renewing his contract before he pollutes more of our students with his lies." Another further argued that Ahmed "was just following the Koran that instructs Muslims to deceive their enemies (Al-Taqiyya.) [...] If you are not a Muslim (Kuffar) the Koran details how to kill, capture, oppress, etc. the unbeliever." Perhaps the most depressing was from a teacher: "This has now made it into my PUBLIC high school curricula. Long live TRUTH!" The post was widely shared on social networking sites and even featured in a YouTube video.
Some of the blogs that breathlessly featured Rubenfeld's article do not even attempt to conceal their racism. The Jawa Report, for example, proudly describes itself as a "weblog comparing Muslims to Jawas," the "typically short rodent-like" sand-dwellers of Star Wars who are described in the film as "disgusting." A section on the website is entitled "my pet Jawa" implying, (but only satirically, of course!) that Muslims are sub-human creatures suitable to be kept as pets. The Jawa Report also includes pictures of Qurans in toilets, likens Muslim opponents to real-life animals like monkeys and features numerous photos of what its editors call "hot babes" because they are seen as offending the sensibilities of Muslims.
These hate sites are increasingly influencing mainstream media. Virulently anti-Muslim blogger Debbie Schlussel, who openly argues that "we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam," this summer accused the newly crowned Miss USA, an American Muslim of Lebanese descent, of being a Hezbollah agent because her surname was said to be shared by people linked to the organization. The slanderous claim resulted in the CNN.com headline "Miss USA: Muslim Trailblazer or Hezbollah Spy?" The New York Islamic center controversy brought characters like lead opponents Robert Spencer and recent New York Times profile subject Pamela Geller--who has argued that President Barack Obama is the son of Malcolm X--into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Fox News often relies on such bloggers to comment on Islamic issues.
Part of this emerging reliance of mainstream media on the hate bloggers comes from a genuine desire to understand Islam and the threat of terrorism, as often these blogs and commentators discuss material that the mainstream media has not looked into with as much attention or detail. It is hard for me to think of another reason why the New York Times leaned on the Jawa Report, which it described as "anti-jihadi Internet activists," for its investigative coverage of the "Jihad Jane" homegrown terrorism case, or why Esquire, while noting its "unsettling anti-Muslim invective," nevertheless glamorized the website as "laptop James Bonds," "thrill-seeking," and "all-American." Yet it is possible to analyze and understand the threat of terrorism without relying on the bigots. Just as a Ku Klux Klan member would not be asked to advise on issues facing the African American community, responsible people in media and government must keep the bile-spewing
anti-Muslim racists away from anything to do with Islam-related subjects.
Government, however, is where such bloggers and commentators have focused a considerable amount of attention in their desire to shape U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Recently, an increasing number of prominent politicians, including members of Congress Michele Bachmann and Pete Hoekstra--the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee--have come out publicly and enthusiastically in support of Frank Gaffney, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and head of a prominent Washington D.C. think tank. Gaffney, who blogs at Andrew Breitbart's Big Peace, recently told CNN viewers he is leading an effort to block the construction of American mosques because they are "seditious" and a "cancer" seeking to "destroy Western civilization from within." With bone-chilling conviction, he asserted that the numbers of American Muslims today are "very small, blessedly. This is the time to stop them." The influence of the anti-Islamic beltway fearmongers could be
seen in Newt Gingrich's comparison of American Muslims to Nazis, Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey's assertion that he did not believe American Muslims were entitled to religious freedom, and incendiary, terror-inducing ads and rhetoric in political campaigns nationwide, such as Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle's recent warning that Muslims have seized control of two American cities.
I have attempted here to connect some of the dots in the anti-Muslim infrastructure of hate and demonstrate how a blatantly fallacious post like Laura Rubenfeld's can achieve such prominence and influence. Rubenfeld's article has all the hallmarks of the anti-Islamic hate blogs: a breathtaking illiteracy of the discussed subject, ad hominem attacks on a prominent Muslim, a crude insinuation of guilt by association, and a substitution of ideology for scholarship. The exact same process of argument, challenge, and refutation utilized above can be applied to nearly every one of the tidal wave of anti-Islamic hate posts.
Much more investigation needs to be done on how various sections of the infrastructure of hate are funded, but one basic link is discernable in the case study presented here. It is no accident that the think tank which employs Rubenfeld, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, is funded by the Los Angeles-based Fairbrook Foundation, the same group--granted IRS 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit charity--that funds Pajamas Media, the website which ran Rubenfeld's scurrilous hate post. This clearly indicates that there is another level of connection and coordination not apparent to the public.
In their depiction of Islam, the despicable infrastructure of bloggers, think tanks, murky financial backers, and media outlets use the ignorance of the American public about the religion to their advantage, as it can be difficult for well-meaning Americans to distinguish hate speech from critical views of Muslim governments or organizations. That no mainstream American media commentator picked up the larger, more dangerous implications of Juan Williams and Bill O'Reilly's discussion, for example, is indicative of this reality. The more anti-Islamic hate seeps into the American consciousness, the more likely violence will result from Americans believing it to be their patriotic duty to lash out at Muslim invaders. History shows us that venomous campaigns to demonize a particular religious or ethnic group can have catastrophic consequences.
The vitriolic anti-Islamic voices also help ensure that the actual causes for the problems plaguing the Muslim world--including political, historical, economic, and cultural factors like the turmoil wrought by globalization on traditional societies--are largely ignored by a public still befuddled by Islam nearly a decade after 9/11. Furthermore, the infrastructure's dissemination of hate does no favors for the U.S. troops, diplomats, and aid workers attempting to win "hearts and minds" in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as the toxic blogs are read and circulated widely in the Muslim world. This hate literature endangers American national security by validating and strengthening Al Qaeda's contention that the United States is engaged in a war against Islam which Muslims must resist and avenge.
Even more seriously, bloggers like Rubenfeld represent a grave threat to the United States in their distortions of the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which form the bedrock of American identity. In pumping their poison into the public discourse, the bloggers are attacking the entire foundation of the United States as a pluralistic nation that unambiguously mandates religious freedom.
As someone who believes in the Founding Fathers' vision, I feel a moral compulsion to challenge the forces of hate that are spreading so rapidly. The bloggers' detrimental, bigoted views represent a dangerous rot that needs to be confronted by all of us. This is not an academic or personal exercise, but a debate about the future of the nation. If the bloggers and the infrastructure of hate they are a part of are not challenged, the pluralist America envisioned by the Founding Fathers will be in ever increasing peril.
Frankie Martin is an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University's School of International Service.
CAIR-Video: Family in Muslim Clothing Ejected from Flight
CAIR Video: Muslims Call Plane Incident Islamophobia
FBI's GPS Tracking Raises Privacy Concerns
When Yasir Afifi took his car in for an oil change, his mechanic found an unusual wire hanging from below. It was part of a black rectangular device attached to his car by a magnet. After posting photos of it on an online forum, where posters identified it as a GPS tracking device, Afifi, a Santa Clara, Calif., college student and computer salesman, got a visit from FBI agents demanding their equipment back.
The FBI confirms the device belongs to the agency and that agents visited Afifi to get it back. But Special Agent Joseph Schadler won't say why it was there.
"It is not our policy to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation anyway, and we don't comment on sources or techniques or methods or anything like that," Schadler says.
The FBI sees GPS as an electronic version of physical surveillance used to gather information for an investigation. Time was, the FBI would just trail someone when they wanted to gather information. But technology has changed that. And civil rights groups consider the GPS devices more intrusive.
OK From 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals
Another Northern California man says the same thing happened to him. Abdo Alwareeth found a GPS device on his car two years ago while taking an auto maintenance class.
At his home in San Rafael, he sifts through a binder of papers he's gathered trying to understand why he was targeted. The U.S. citizen from Yemen says in all his 40 years living here, he's received nothing more than a traffic ticket.
"Why I been singled out? Let them tell me, 'We are singling you out because you are an Arab and a Muslim and that's it,' " he says. "That's what I want to know."
Alwareeth says in his case, local police came to claim the device. He's filed complaints and consulted lawyers. The police department's only response has been that it can't comment on the incident because the device doesn't belong to them. Now, he and his wife check under their cars every day for tracking devices.
"This is how they make us feel, like we are being tracked. Tracked for what?" he says.
It's unclear what legal remedies the two men have. In January, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it's permissible for law enforcement to attach GPS devices to vehicles without search warrants.
Zahra Billoo, head of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Afifi's attorney, says the FBI has violated her client's privacy rights. She says Afifi has nothing in his background to suggest he's a national security threat.
"If this is how our very limited resources are being spent, on these escapades targeting innocent individuals, I would say we are none the safer," Billoo says.
Billoo says the FBI is frightening the very community it claims it wants to build bridges with. But the FBI maintains that in law enforcement, keeping tabs on people is an essential part of the job. The question is whether GPS is too intrusive.
Muslim leaders worry after Huntington mosque vandalism
October 26, 2010 By ANDREW STRICKLER andrew.strickler@...
Muslim leaders on Long Island said Tuesday that they are concerned about anti-Muslim bias after two recent bottle-throwing incidents at a Huntington mosque.
Religious leaders and Suffolk police were to meet Wednesday morning at Masjid Noor mosque on Park Avenue to discuss the incidents, as well as issues of community relations and communication with law enforcement, officials said.
Profiting Off Islamophobia: Pamela Geller Pitches Book On ‘How-To Guide To Fight Creeping Sharia’
Last October, right-wing hate blogger Pamela Geller signed a six-figure book deal with Threshold, Simon & Schuster’s conservative imprint headed by Mary Matalin. Geller, not known for scholastic writing or research, has gained recognition by scoring interviews with John Bolton, pontificating in a bikini, and bashing Muslims. The news that Threshold agreed to publish The Post-American Presidency was ignored, even by her conservative fellow travelers.
In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Geller’s agent predicted his client would justify the advance because “the book will appeal far beyond Threshold’s conservative base.” It hasn’t. The Post-American Presidency has sold approximately 5,000 copies, according to Nielsen — enough to warrant a second printing, but hardly an indication of crossover appeal. Simon & Schuster may have underestimated the demand for a book that refers to the President as ‘Barack Hussein Obama’ 52 times (even if it’s autographed) for the bargain price of $27.
ThinkProgress has now obtained the proposal for Geller’s next book, which has been submitted to a variety of other publishing houses. A review of the proposal for Stop Islamization of America: A Practical Guide for the Resistance suggests that the project is a step too far for Threshold. (A Simon & Schuster rep declined to comment.)
Gail Kerr: Muslim bashers aren't new to art of hate for profit
Some people have no problem making a financial killing by spreading fear.
A two-day, front-page series in The Tennessean on Sunday and Monday by reporter Bob Smietana shone the bright light of truth on the people who are making millions of dollars perpetuating the current trend to hate Muslims.
They make a financial killing spreading fear.
They skirt facts and intellectual investigation by making stuff up. It's mind-boggling, both that any humans would want to spend their lives wallowing in such muck, and that thinking people fall for it.
Here are some of the highlights from Smietana's report:
• Washington-based SAE Productions, owned by Steven Emerson, collected $3.39 million in 2008 for "researching" alleged ties between American Muslims and terrorists. The money came from a nonprofit charity Emerson also started, which asks for donations by telling the ignorant they are in danger from Muslims.
The relationship between this nonprofit and for-profit appears to be a blatant violation of IRS laws. The IRS has strict rules about how grants are given and received, and what has to be disclosed. Emerson may end up paying a goodly part of his Muslim-hating windfall to attorneys.
• A Nashville-based for-profit group called the Center for the Study of Political Islam is led by a man named Bill French, a former physics professor. He leads a revival-like presentation outlining what he calls an ideology that undermines America. He points to a book as proof. He wrote the book. He made up the so-called Muslim ideology. He sells the book.
• A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit called Center for Security Policy is run by a man named Frank Gaffney. He made a cool $288,300 in salary in 2008. He was a witness in the anti-mosque lawsuit in Murfreesboro, accusing local Muslims of having ties to terrorism. His evidence? His own report. Under oath, he admitted that he is no expert in Islamic law.
Which makes you wonder why Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew would allow such fictional testimony, aimed solely at stirring up the already heated emotions over a mosque that is perfectly legal and properly zoned. And why on earth is he letting this case be continued ad nauseam. Make a ruling, for crying out loud.
Tactics Were Used Before
Smietana's fine reporting pointed out a similar set of circumstances, when the Ku Klux Klan stirred up hate and fear about Catholics moving to the Murfreesboro area in 1929.
There's another obvious comparison: Hitler's Germany, which declared all Jews had to be eradicated from the Earth. At every phase of the world, every religion — including Christianity — has had a set of extremist nut cakes who preached hate.
It's just hard to fathom that we're still seeing this in 2010. How, I wondered out loud, do these people go to sleep at night?
On very nice sheets and down pillows.
Tea Party leader: Defeat Ellison because he's Muslim
The Far Right's Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive
A secretive libertarian nonprofit with ties to Charles Koch bankrolled what was widely perceived to be a fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008. Until now, where the money came from has been a hotly debated mystery.
Seven weeks before the Presidential election of 2008, approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times, distributed millions of DVDs of the documentary, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The DVDs were included in the Sunday editions. Altogether, including a separate direct mail campaign, 28 million DVDs flooded households in the swing voter states.
The newspapers did not know who was funding this massive propaganda campaign and, apparently, did not care. They inserted the DVD in their Pulitzer properties with the casualness of throwing in a sample of suds free detergent. The nonprofit organization named on the packaging of the DVD as the entity behind the film, the Clarion Fund, Inc., had no known history of operations and had a virtual office address in New York City with no physical presence and no employees on site. Documents submitted to the IRS to obtain its tax-exempt status show the Clarion Fund demanded total secrecy from its vendors:
“At all times, whether during or after the provision of services to Clarion, Service Provider shall keep in confidence and shall not disclose or use, for his or another’s benefit, any nonpublic knowledge, data, material, document or other information of any type that is related to Clarion, or its subsidiaries, directors, members, managers, agents, employees or other affiliates or that Service Provider otherwise acquires in the course of providing services (collectively, the ‘Confidential Information.’).”
The DVD packaging was slick, leveraging the imprimatur of the big league media outlets by listing 73 as part of its distribution network. The cover carried a red banner blaring: “As seen on CNN and FOX News by more than 20 million viewers worldwide.” The title of the film was graphically enhanced with the “O” in “Obsession” sporting the Islamic crescent moon and star and the “N” represented by an upended fearsome automatic weapon. The movie content was slick as well. The first half is endless scenes of suicide bombers and human carnage; the second half of the film intersperses clips of Hitler, Hitler Youth, or Hitler analogies intermittently with Muslim crowds and young children with fists in the air calling for death to westerners. Once at the beginning and again at the end, the film reminds us that not all Muslims ostensibly want to kill us; in the middle of the film it quantifies the number that do (without any support to back up
this hunch): a cool 100 to 150 million, i.e., 10 to 15 per cent of 1 billion Muslims.
Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear
Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.
That's how many dollars Emerson's for-profit company — Washington-based SAE Productions — collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they're in imminent danger from Muslims.
Emerson is a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances.
Leaders of the so-called "anti-jihad" movement portray themselves as patriots, defending America against radical Islam. And they've found an eager audience in ultra-conservative Christians and mosque opponents in Middle Tennessee. One national consultant testified in an ongoing lawsuit aimed at stopping a new Murfreesboro mosque.
But beyond the rhetoric, Emerson's organization's tax-exempt status is facing questions at the same time he's accusing Muslim groups of tax improprieties.
Poll: More Republicans Support Strip Club Over Mosque Near Ground Zero
Mosque Controversy Heats Up In New Court Motions
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. - The controversy over construction of a new mosque in Rutherford County is heating up. This comes in the wake of a strongly-worded court filing this week that is part of the ongoing lawsuit by opponents of the mosque. They want an injunction to stop construction.
Opponents of the mosque argue, among other things, that the county did not legally approve plans for the mosque. County officials strong dispute that.
Joe Brandon, the attorney for opponents of the mosque, wrote in the motion: "The local Rutherford county government is engaging in willful obstruction of justice." And he asks: If Osama bin Laden made application, would they have felt led then to look into what was being proposed?"
Angle: Muslim law taking hold in parts of US
U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle told a crowd of supporters that the country needs to address a "militant terrorist situation" that has allowed Islamic religious law to take hold in some American cities.
Her comments came at a rally of tea party supporters in the Nevada resort town of Mesquite last week after the candidate was asked about Muslims angling to take over the country, and marked the latest of several controversial remarks by the Nevada Republican.
In a recording of the rally provided to The Associated Press by the Mesquite Local News, a man is heard asking Angle : "I keep hearing about Muslims wanting to take over the United States ... on a TV program just last night, I saw that they are taking over a city in Michigan and the residents of the city, they want them out. They want them out. So, I want to hear your thoughts about that."
Angle responds that "we're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn't a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it."
"My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don't know how that happened in the United States," she said. "It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States."
Dearborn, Mich., has a thriving Muslim community. It was not immediately clear why Angle singled out Frankford, Texas, a former town that was annexed into Dallas around 1975.
Caught Spying on Student, FBI Demands GPS Tracker Back
In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight
The Media's Construction of the 'Ground Zero Mosque'
How Islamophobic blogs manufactured a controversy
Ground Zero imam, wife get deaths threats
Billboards Causing Controversy In Las Cruces
A message on electronic billboards seen by hundreds of motorists in Las Cruces on Monday has some people upset and talking. At certain times on Monday the electronic billboards read "More Mosque, Less Jobs, Vote Democrat??"
On Tuesday the ad was gone and the billboards said, "Dona Ana County, Second Poorest In The Country, Vote Democrat??"
The ads claim they're paid for by Al Perez. Perez did not return messages left Tuesday by KFOX.
Perez did tell KFOX's news partners at the Las Cruces Sun-News that the billboards' message means elected officials in Washington are putting too much emphasis on mosques and not the economy.
But for Muslims like Fateh Hafassa the billboard goes a little too far.
Muslims Report Rising Discrimination at Work
At a time of growing tensions involving Muslims in the United States, a record number of Muslim workers are complaining of employment discrimination, from co-workers calling them “terrorist” or “Osama” to employers barring them from wearing head scarves or taking prayer breaks.
Such complaints were increasing even before frictions erupted over the planned Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, with Muslim workers filing a record 803 such claims in the year ended Sept. 30, 2009. That was up 20 percent from the previous year and up nearly 60 percent from 2005, according to federal data.
The number of complaints filed since then will not be announced until January, but Islamic groups say they have received a surge in complaints recently, suggesting that 2010’s figure will set another record.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found enough merit in some of the complaints that it has filed several prominent lawsuits on behalf of Muslim workers.
Last month, the commission sued JBS Swift, a meatpacking company, on behalf of 160 Somali immigrants, saying supervisors and workers had cursed them for being Muslim; thrown blood, meat and bones at them; and interrupted their prayer breaks.
On Sept. 1, the commission filed a case against Abercrombie & Fitch, the fashionable clothing retailer, accusing it of discrimination for refusing to hire an 18-year-old Muslim because she was wearing a head scarf.
And in June, the agency sued a Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Phoenix, asserting that its management had illegally permitted a hostile work environment in which workers called an Iraqi immigrant a “camel jockey,” mocked him with Arab ululations and taunted him over news items about captured terrorists. (The hotel’s manager said many of the claims were untrue.)
“There’s a level of hatred and animosity that is shocking,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney of the E.E.O.C.’s Phoenix office. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years, and I’ve never seen such antipathy toward Muslim workers.”
Although Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, they accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the E.E.O.C. last year. Complaints filed by Jews rose slightly in fiscal 2009, while complaints filed by Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs and Seventh-day Adventists declined. Claims of race, sex and age discrimination also fell.
The rising number of complaints by Muslims, which exceeds even the amount filed in the year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, comes as tensions rise between Muslim Americans and those of other faiths.
Polls have shown that many Americans feel a growing wariness toward Muslims after the 9/11 attacks and after years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mosques and Islamic community centers in the United States — most prominently one proposed near ground zero in Manhattan — have faced substantial opposition. And a Florida pastor received national attention this month for threatening to burn the Koran on Sept. 11.
“We can go back in history and find other times when there were hot emotional and political tensions over religion,” said Michael J. Zimmer, co-author of several books on employment discrimination and a law professor at Loyola University in Chicago. “Right now, there is a lot of heat as to the Muslims.”
Mohammad Kaleemuddin, a Pakistani immigrant who drove trucks for the American war effort in Iraq for three years, said that while he was working for a construction company in Houston, his supervisor and several co-workers called him “Osama,” “al Qaeda,” “Taliban,” and “terrorist.”
“It was very rough,” said Mr. Kaleemuddin, who was fired after protesting to management about the ethnic slurs. “It brought a bit of terror in my chest. I’d wonder, ‘Why are they doing this? I’ve always been nice to them.’ ”
After he filed a complaint, the E.E.O.C. sued the company he worked for, Pace Services. The company agreed last April to pay him $61,250 to settle the case.
Experts on religion and employment discrimination say many factors are behind this surge in discrimination claims.
“In America right now, there are intense concerns about many issues — immigration, the faltering economy, the interminable wars” and the erroneous belief, held by many Americans, that the first nonwhite president is Muslim, said Akbar Ahmed, a professor of Islamic studies at American University.
“In all of these, there’s one link, Islam. Islam is the lightning rod. Whenever there is a great distrust or antipathy, it spills beyond religion into public life,” the professor said.
Professor Ahmed said that Muslims in the United States were generally reluctant to stick their necks out and complain about discrimination, partly in the belief that attitudes toward them will gradually improve. But he said that growing intolerance has prompted more Muslims to stand up for their rights and file E.E.O.C. complaints.
Workers have complained of discrimination even in regions known for their diversity.
Quran Burning Comes to San Francisco
Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Published: September 18, 2010
Many Americans have suggested that more moderate Muslims should stand up to extremists, speak out for tolerance, and apologize for sins committed by their brethren.
That’s reasonable advice, and as a moderate myself, I’m going to take it. (Throat clearing.) I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.
I’m inspired by another journalistic apology. The Portland Press Herald in Maine published an innocuous front-page article and photo a week ago about 3,000 local Muslims praying together to mark the end of Ramadan. Readers were upset, because publication coincided with the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and they deluged the paper with protests.
So the newspaper published a groveling front-page apology for being too respectful of Muslims. “We sincerely apologize,” wrote the editor and publisher, Richard Connor, and he added: “we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.” As a blog by James Poniewozik of Time paraphrased it: “Sorry for Portraying Muslims as Human.”
Burnt Quran found outside Tenderloin mosque
By: Brent Begin
Examiner Staff Writer
September 18, 2010
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/Burnt-Quran-found-outside-Tenderloin-mosque-103213924.html#ixzz14WxTzUvO
Harvard faces protests over honour for Islamophobic editor
University under fire for plans to honour New Republic's Martin Peretz who wrote that 'Muslim life is cheap'
East Lansing police say they've ID'd Quran burner
Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
Detroit--Police announced today they've identified the person responsible for the burning of a Quran outside an East Lansing mosque that sparked violence in India.
The individual, who has not yet been named by police, voluntarily surrendered Wednesday after police announced a $10,000 reward for tips in the case. He has been released by police pending charges by the Ingham County prosecutor.
Phoenix mosque vandalism being investigated by FBI
by Stephanie Snyder - Sept. 8, 2010 05:20 PM
The Arizona Republic
The FBI is investigating the recent vandalism of a Phoenix mosque under construction, officials said Wednesday.
The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had asked the FBI to investigate the vandalism of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, which occurred a few weeks ago, according to officials.
"We were made aware of the situation today, and we are looking into this matter," FBI Special Agent Manuel Johnson said.
The vandalized mosque, near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue, is being built across the street from the Islamic center's smaller, existing mosque and has not yet been used by the public, Usama Shami, the center's board chairman, said Wednesday.
Paint was spilled on the floor and several tall, arched glass windows were broken by what appeared to be gunshots, Shami said. There was also anti-Muslim graffiti.
Shami said the motivation for the vandalism could have been anything, but the controversy sweeping the country regarding the planned mosque near Ground Zero and the upcoming anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has him concerned about a possible motive.
"It could be related to that or it could be a random act," Shami said. "We really don't know."
Threats prompt heightened security at North Arlington mosque
Arlington police confirm they are stepping up patrols around the Dar El Salam Islamic Center after at least one incident where a threatening note was left.
The mosque president and a spokesman for the Islamic community in Tarrant County said at least three recent incidents are raising concerns, including the note that was left at the mosque on September 11.
News 8 was told that another note was left the previous day at a home next door to the Islamic center. Someone apparently mistakenly thought the residence was connected to the mosque.
The representative for the Islamic association said both notes basically said something to similar to "die terrorists."
In another incident several weeks ago, the president of the mosque said a man walked into the building and asked if "this is where Muslims are taught to kill Americans?" Police did not confirm that report.
All this follows vandalism at a south Arlington mosque where the playground was torched, and a graphic anti-Islam cartoon was chalked onto the parking lot.
A 10-foot brick wall is being installed around the Dar El Salam mosque to provide additional security.
Major pro-Israel giver funds ‘Jihad Watch’
WASHINGTON - A woman who with her husband has contributed large sums to pro-Israel and Jewish groups is the principal funder of the group that has taken the lead in opposing an Islamic center in lower Manhattan.
Jihad Watch, the group that is organizing a rally against the planned Islamic center timed for the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks - the center is planned for within three blocks of the site of the attacks - is funded by Freedom Center, a conservative group based in Los Angeles.
An investigative report appearing on the online version of Politico on Saturday says that it has confirmed that the "lion's share" of the $920,000 funneled through Freedom Center to Jihad Watch over the last three years originated with Joyce Chernick.
Aubrey and Joyce Chernick, Politico reported, have over the years contributed to, among other groups, the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles; the Anti-Defamation League; the Zionist Organization of America; MEMRI, a group that distributes translations of inflammatory Arabic language material; the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a group that tracks what it depicts as the threat of radical Islam; the American Jewish Congress; CAMERA, a group that tracks what it says is anti-Israel bias in the media; the Central Fund for Israel, a clearinghouse for moneys directed to pro-settler groups; and a number of conservative think tanks.
Aubrey Chernick, additionally, was at one time a trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
A number of these groups, including the Investigative Project, the ADL and the ZOA, have positioned themselves as opposed to the Islamic center. Other Jewish groups, led by the Reform movement, have been outspoken in supporting the center.
Jihad Watch, founded by Robert Spencer, has in recent months taken on board Pamela Geller, the New York-based blogger who launched efforts to stop the center's building.
Jihad Watch leads those groups that contend that the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who founded the Cordoba Initiative -- the organization behind the planned center -- is not, as he and a number of Jewish backers claim, a moderate attempting to bridge divides, but is instead a radical.
Rauf has spoken overseas on behalf of the U.S. State Department, under the Obama and Bush administrations, and has described the United States as a nation whose freedoms benefit Muslims.
A Mosque Invisible to Many Is a Target
Paper apologises for depicting Muslims at prayer on 9/11 anniversary
Fire and Gunshots at Tennessee Mosque Site Called ‘Terrorism’
By ROBERT MACKEY
On Sunday, one day after a fire at the site of a planned Islamic center and mosque in the Nashville suburb of Murfreesboro, Muslim community members reported hearing gunshots as they inspected the damage.
Saleh Sbenaty, an engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University who is on the the Islamic center’s planning committee, told The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro that nine shots, in two volleys, were fired near the property while he and female family members looked at construction equipment burned in the fire. Mr. Sbenaty, who has lived in Tennessee for three decades, said, “It was nothing like a hunting rifle.”
We hope for the best, obviously, but this isn’t hunting land. There’s plenty of houses around here…. To say we’re nervous is a huge understatement. It’s terrorism.
On Saturday morning, the local sheriff’s department informed members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro that one piece of construction equipment at the site had been burned and three others were doused with some sort of fluid but not set alight.
Camie Ayash, a spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, told Nashville’s News Channel 5:
If it is some kind of sign, and the message is to be scared, honestly it’s working.
In a statement posted on the center’s Web site, Ms. Ayash called the fire an “arson attack” and an “atrocious act of terrorism.”