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Islamophobia in USA: Iraqi woman dies after San Diego attack

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  • Zafar Khan
    Iraqi woman dies after San Diego attack Shaima Alawadi was found unconscious in her home next to a threatening note saying go back to your country Associated
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2012
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      Iraqi woman dies after San Diego attack
      Shaima Alawadi was found unconscious in her home next to a threatening note saying 'go back to your country'
      Associated Press in California
      guardian.co.uk, Sunday 25 March 2012 09.27 BST

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/25/iraqi-woman-dies-san-diego

      An Iraqi woman who was found severely beaten at her San Diego home next to a note saying "go back to your country" has died.

      Shaima Alawadi, 32, a mother of five, was found unconscious by her 17-year-old daughter on Wednesday, police said.

      The daughter, Fatima al-Himidi, told local TV that her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly and that the note said: "Go back to your country, you terrorist."

      Hanif Mohebi, director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met Alawadi's family members on Saturday morning and was told later she had been taken off life support.

      "The family is in shock at the moment. They're still trying to deal with what happened," Mohebi said.

      Police said the family had found a similar note earlier this month but had not reported it to authorities. Himidi said her mother had dismissed the first note as a child's prank.

      A family friend, Sura Alzaidy, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the attack apparently occurred after the father took the younger children to school. Alzaidy said the family is from Iraq and Alawadi was a "respectful modest muhajiba", meaning she wore the hijab.

      Investigators said they believed the assault was an isolated incident. "A hate crime is one of the possibilities, and we will be looking at that," Lieutenant Mark Coit said. "We don't want to focus on only one issue and miss something else."

      The family had lived in the house in San Diego County for a few weeks, after moving from Michigan, Alzaidy said. She told the newspaper that her father and Alawadi's husband had previously worked together in San Diego as private contractors for the US army, serving as cultural advisers to train soldiers going to the Middle East.

      Mohebi said the family had been in the US since the mid-1990s. He said it was unfortunate that the family had not reported the initial threatening note.

      "Our community does face a lot of discriminatory, hate incidents and don't always report them," Mohebi said. "They should take these threats seriously and definitely call local law enforcement."

      El Cajon, north-east of central San Diego, is home to 40,000 Iraqi immigrants, the second largest such community in the US after Detroit.
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      New York Man Charged in Fire-Bombing of Mosque
      By REUTERS
      Published: March 19, 2012 at 2:34 PM ET

      http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2012/03/19/nyregion/19reuters-usa-newyork-hate-crime.html?_r=2

      NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal and state grand juries have indicted a New York man on suspicion of hate crimes in connection with five New Year's Day Molotov cocktail attacks, including one against a mosque and another on a building used as a Hindu place of worship.

      Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and the Queens District attorney on Monday announced their indictments separately in "parallel cases," an unusual circumstance in which state and federal charges are brought over the same incident.

      The attacks alarmed religious leaders concerned over violent religious bigotry, though police said the suspect may have also been motivated by personal grudges.

      The suspect, Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, confessed to all five fire-bombings upon being arrested two days after the attacks, police said at the time.

      His defense lawyer, Kenneth Deane, declined to comment on Monday.

      Police said Lengend admitted to them he planned to "take out as many Muslims and Arabs as possible ... and made further references to his dislike of Muslims, Arabs and Hindus," the Queens District Attorney's office said in a statement.
      ...
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      CAIR: Sacramento Mosque Vandalized
      by CAIR on Tuesday, 1 December 2009 at 19:18 ·

      http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=188273149441

      (SACRAMENTO, CA, 12/1/09) – The Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) will hold a news conference today with community and interfaith leaders to call on law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for vandalism at the West Sacramento Islamic Community Center.
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      Monitoring of Muslims in area continues
      New details show focus put on Somali community
      Updated: March 18, 2012, 4:21 PM

      http://www.buffalonews.com/city/article768485.ece

      The New York City Police Department's focus on Buffalo-area Muslims continues to this day. Further, an internal document indicates the surveillance began even before NYPD detectives met with the Erie County undersheriff in December 2008 to describe their "Somalia Project."

      A fuller picture of the NYPD's Strategic Intelligence Unit and its activities in Buffalo has emerged in recent weeks. For example:

      * The unit remains interested in Buffalo. The current Erie County undersheriff said that the newest liaison from New York City arrived in January to introduce himself. It was the undersheriff's latest meeting with NYPD detectives, who broke the ice with then-Undersheriff Richard T. Donovan in December 2008.
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      Leaders of Albanian Islamic Cultural Center on Staten Island: NYPD got it wrong
      Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 6:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:53 AM

      http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/albanians_on_staten_island_to.html

      STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. --- Leaders of the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Tompkinsville claim that their organization was inaccurately portrayed in a report of NYPD secret surveillance of Muslims on Staten Island.
      The "Albanian Locations of Concern" report listed the mosque and six businesses that were targeted by the Demographics Unit of the NYPD Intelligence Division.
      "The report has fictions, not facts," said Imam Dr. Tahir Kukiqi, a teacher at the Miraj Islamic School at the center, as he and Imam Ferid Bedrolli, secretary general of the center, met last week with an Advance reporter and photographers.
      "When I saw the report it was disappointing," Imam Kukiqi said.
      "If we are doing something wrong, tell us. If decisions were made based on the information, it's damaging the record of the NYPD and the reputation of the AICC is tarnished."
      Imam Kukiqi called the report, which was updated in 2006, "old" and factually incorrect.
      ...
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      Google search tips off target of FBI probe
      March 18, 2012 at 7:24 am by Brendan J. Lyons

      http://blog.timesunion.com/crime/google-search-tips-off-target-of-fbi-probe/11218/

      A Pakistani immigrant who was used as an FBI informant in two controversial counterterrorism stings in Albany and Newburgh has surfaced in an investigation of a western Pennsylvania man who was arrested this week on federal gun charges.

      Khalifah Al-Akili, 34, who lives near Pittsburgh, told the Times Union in an interview Sunday that the FBI recently used Shahed Hussain — an informant who was integral in two terrorism-related cases in the upstate New York cities — in an apparent attempt to test Al-Akili’s interest in jihad and anti-American views.
      Al-Akili said he was approached by Hussain, who went by the name “Mohammed,” and another man, who used the name “Shareef,” in January when they turned up in his neighborhood and repeatedly made attempts to get close to Al-Akili. But Al-Akili said he quickly figured out Hussain’s identity as an FBI informant. He said the men were “too obvious” and requested receipts even for small items they purchased like coffee and donuts.
      Al-Akili said Shareef also asked Al-Akili repeatedly if he could help him purchase a gun. Al-Akili said he told the man he could not help him.
      ...
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      The ex-FBI informant with a change of heart: 'There is no real hunt. It's fixed'
      Craig Monteilh describes how he pretended to be a radical Muslim in order to root out potential threats, shining a light on some of the bureau's more ethically murky practices
      Paul Harris in Irvine, California
      guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 March 2012 16.50 GMT

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/20/fbi-informant

      Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk.

      "They said, if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex. So I did," Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques.

      It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.

      Monteilh was involved in one of the most controversial tactics: the use of "confidential informants" in so-called entrapment cases. This is when suspects carry out or plot fake terrorist "attacks" at the request or under the close supervision of an FBI undercover operation using secret informants. Often those informants have serious criminal records or are supplied with a financial motivation to net suspects.

      In the case of the Newburgh Four – where four men were convicted for a fake terror attack on Jewish targets in the Bronx – a confidential informant offered $250,000, a free holiday and a car to one suspect for help with the attack.

      In the case of the Fort Dix Five, which involved a fake plan to attack a New Jersey military base, one informant's criminal past included attempted murder, while another admitted in court at least two of the suspects later jailed for life had not known of any plot.

      Such actions have led Muslim civil rights groups to wonder if their communities are being unfairly targeted in a spying game that is rigged against them. Monteilh says that is exactly what happens. "The way the FBI conducts their operations, It is all about entrapment … I know the game, I know the dynamics of it. It's such a joke, a real joke. There is no real hunt. It's fixed," he said.

      But Monteilh has regrets now about his involvement in a scheme called Operation Flex. Sitting in the kitchen of his modest home in Irvine, near Los Angeles, Monteilh said the FBI should publicly apologise for his fruitless quest to root out Islamic radicals in Orange County, though he does not hold out much hope that will happen. "They don't have the humility to admit a mistake," he said.

      Monteilh's story sounds like something out of a pulp thriller. Under the supervision of two FBI agents the muscle-bound fitness instructor created a fictitious French-Syrian altar ego, called Farouk Aziz. In this disguise in 2006 Monteilh started hanging around mosques in Orange County – the long stretch of suburbia south of LA – and pretended to convert to Islam.

      He was tasked with befriending Muslims and blanket recording their conversations. All this information was then fed back to the FBI who told Monteilh to act like a radical himself to lure out Islamist sympathizers.

      Yet, far from succeeding, Monteilh eventually so unnerved Orange County's Muslim community that that they got a restraining order against him. In an ironic twist, they also reported Monteilh to the FBI: unaware he was in fact working undercover for the agency.

      Monteilh does not look like a spy. He is massively well built, but soft-spoken and friendly. He is 49 but looks younger. He lives in a small rented home in Irvine that blends into the suburban sprawl of southern California. Yet Monteilh knows the spying game intimately well.

      By his own account Monteilh got into undercover work after meeting a group of off-duty cops working out in a gym. Monteilh told them he had spent time in prison in Chino, serving time for passing fraudulent checks.

      It is a criminal past he explains by saying he was traumatised by a nasty divorce. "It was a bad time in my life," he said. He and the cops got to talking about the criminals Monteilh had met while in Chino. The information was so useful that Monteilh says he began to work on undercover drug and organised crime cases.

      Eventually he asked to work on counter-terrorism and was passed on to two FBI handlers, called Kevin Armstrong and Paul Allen. These two agents had a mission and an alias ready-made for him.

      Posing as Farouk Aziz he would infiltrate local mosques and Islamic groups around Orange County. "Paul Allen said: 'Craig, you are going to be our computer worm. Our guy that gives us the real pulse of the Muslim community in America'," Monteilh said.

      The operation began simply enough. Monteilh started hanging out at mosques, posing as Aziz, and explaining he wanted to learn more about religion. In July, 2006, at the Islamic Center of Irvine, he converted to Islam.

      Monteilh also began attending other mosques, including the Orange County Islamic Foundation. Monteilh began circulating endlessly from mosque to mosque, spending long days in prayer or reading books or just hanging out in order to get as many people as possible to talk to him.

      "Slowly I began to wear the robes, the hat, the scarf and they saw me slowly transform and growing a beard. At that point, about three or four months later, [my FBI handlers] said: 'OK, now start to ask questions'."

      Those questions were aimed at rooting out radicals. Monteilh would talk of his curiosity over the concepts of jihad and what Muslims should do about injustices in the world, especially where it pertained to American foreign policy.

      He talked of access to weapons, a possible desire to be a martyr and inquired after like-minded souls. It was all aimed at trapping people in condemning statements. "The skill is that I am going to get you to say something. I am cornering you to say "jihad"," he said.

      Of course, the chats were recorded.

      In scenes out of a James Bond movie, Monteilh said he sometimes wore a secret video recorder sewn into his shirt. At other times he activated an audio recorder on his key rings.
      ...
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      Dave Thompson introduces boilerplate Anti-Sharia Law bill
      by: The Big E
      Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 18:00:00 PM CST

      http://www.mnprogressiveproject.com/diary/11078/dave-thompson-introduces-boilerplate-antisharia-law-bill
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      Treatment of Latinos, Arabs at U.S.-Canada border is focus of forum
      February 24, 2012 |

      http://www.freep.com/article/20120224/NEWS05/202240343/Treatment-of-Latinos-Arabs-at-U-S-Canada-border-is-focus-of-forum

      Immigrant advocates from across the U.S. are in Detroit for a two-day conference aimed at finding ways to stop what they say is a growing problem of federal agents profiling and harassing minorities near the U.S. border with Canada.

      "Latinos and Arab Americans are being stopped for no reason while they're walking down the street, waiting for a bus, or driving," said Ryan Bates, director for the Michigan branch of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform. Agents also are increasingly boarding public buses and trains to target Latinos and others, he said.

      The Northern Border Conference, which continues today, is looking at the issue of how minority groups are treated near the border. Much of the national attention on border issues deals with the southern border with Mexico, but advocates say they are seeing more targeting of minority groups near the border with Canada.

      Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, hopes to exchange ideas with other advocates. Last year, his group filed a complaint over profiling of Muslims at the U.S.-Canada border.

      "Racial and religious profiling does not make our country any safer," Walid said.

      Southwest Detroit -- the heart of metro Detroit's Mexican-American community -- is near the border with Canada, and some Latinos say they have been stopped more often and harassed by immigration agents.

      The department has stepped up its enforcement near borders to stop illegal immigration, but some say the crackdown is affecting legal immigrants and even U.S. citizens. Federal agents have increased power within 100 miles of the border with Canada to detain suspects, a power that critics say has been misused.

      One concern of advocates is that federal agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol often don't have the same accountability that local police departments have.

      Lidia Reyes, director of Latino Family Services in Detroit, hopes to "find a solution to address" the growing concerns of local Latinos. "There's been a lot of abuse," Reyes said. The community wants agents "to follow the protocol."

      Last year, federal agents conducted raids in Detroit outside an elementary school and Catholic church that are heavily Latino, sparking renewed concern about their actions.

      Latino social services agencies say they have been targeted by Border Patrol agents.

      In addition, Muslims and Arab Americans say they've been detained and interrogated at border crossings for no legitimate reason.
      ...
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      A Group to Counter Anti-Islam Sentiment
      By DAVID LEPESKA
      Published: February 23, 2012

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/us/gain-peace-in-chicago-aims-to-counter-anti-muslim-sentiment.html?_r=1
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      NYPD found no trace of terrorism while spying on Muslims, says report
      WEDNESDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2012 13:35
      BY JOE GREENE

      http://www.newjerseynewsroom.com/nation/nypd-spies-on-muslims-but-60-page-report-traces-no-terrorism

      Abdul Kareem Abdullah of Newark was born in the United States. He became a Muslim years ago, and says he understands the increased scrutiny of people of his faith in this country since the 9/11 terror attacks.

      What he doesn’t understand, though, is why the New York City police department secretly spied on and compiled a report on him, his wife and customers at his restaurant.

      “If they really wanted to understand,” Abdullah told Adam Goldman of the Associated Press, “they’d come talk to us.”

      The NYPD’s Demographics Unit conducted similar surveillance operations of other Muslims in Newark and on Long Island, filming and listening in on conversations where they worship, at stores and restaurants they frequent, and at places where they work.

      When the mission was concluded, the NYPD put together a 60-page report about their operations — which uncovered no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior.

      The report, which was obtained by the AP, showed that the spying in Newark took place for months during 2007, and was so hush-hush that even Mayor Cory Booker was unaware of it.

      “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Booker said when informed about the investigation. “This raises a number of concerns. It’s just very sobering.”

      Former Newark police chief Garry McCarthy told the AP that he was told by the NYPD that it would be conducting the surveillance, but added that officers from Newark did not participate.

      "The NYPD reached out to us as a courtesy when they were coming into Newark. Period," said McCarthy, who now heads the Chicago Police Department.

      New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg justified the operation by saying that the “police department goes where there are allegations. And they look to see whether those allegations are true. That’s what you’d expect them to do. That’s what you’d want them to do. Remind yourself when you turn out the light tonight.”

      But there were no allegations against those in the report.

      “All of these are innocent people,” Newark’s Nagiba el-Sioufi told the AP. Her husband was nearby, scanning the report. “If you have an accusation on us, then spend the money on doing this to us. But you have no accusation.”

      El-Sioufi added that spying on Muslims indicate that police “are not accepting them for choosing Islam. This doesn't say, 'This guy did something wrong.' This says, 'Everyone here is a Muslim.'
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      Basu: Betrayals leave Iowa man jailed and in legal limbo
      5:29 AM, Feb. 22, 2012

      http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120222/OPINION01/302220051/Basu-Betrayals-leave-Iowa-man-jailed-and-in-legal-limbo?Opinion

      A sense of betrayal has hung over the Islamic Center of Des Moines since members learned the man they knew as Rafik Alvi was there neither to worship nor even Muslim. He was Arvinder Singh, and by his subsequent confession, was there to infiltrate them.

      Singh disclosed in this column Aug. 8 that he had spied on local Muslims for the FBI, which then betrayed him. “They woke up a little bit in every mosque and they had a little chat about it,” said Hamed Baig, president of the Islamic Center.

      The Muslims say the FBI had no reason to infiltrate the mosque because no one there is a terrorist. The one arrest of a member that someone can recall during the period was for working without a permit.

      “If there is anybody with terrorist activity, we will report them ourselves,” said member Basim Bakri, a Jordanian-born U.S. citizen. “Instead they go and black label all the Muslims as terrorists.”

      Baig said he would cooperate with officials if contacted: “I don’t just look at myself as a Muslim. I’m an American. I live here and I’m equally responsible for the people around me.”

      He is also offended by the insensitivity to Muslim customs such as avoiding alcohol. Singh drank and served alcohol at a restaurant he operated. “At least send a Muslim who cannot destroy our mosque with his reputation,” said Bakri.

      If Muslims are feeling betrayed, so is Singh, who has been in the Hardin County Jail for 14 months, with no end in sight. An immigration judge last February ordered him deported to India, where he has family, but the Indian government has yet to verify his citizenship and give him travel clearance.

      Singh says he was trying to get a felony expunged from his record and become a U.S. citizen, when he agreed to be a paid informant in search of radical Muslims plotting terrorism. He said he didn’t know what resulted from his reports to the FBI from various mosques, but that they led to some arrests. But clearly no Muslim terrorism plot in Des Moines was unearthed.

      The FBI doesn’t acknowledge the identity of informants and won’t confirm that Singh was on its payroll. It also says it makes no promises of citizenship. Singh got nothing in writing, but he and his wife insist the FBI agents who recruited him in 2003 promised to help him obtain citizenship and make the felony go away.

      The offense to which he had pleaded guilty in 2001 was selling a large quantity of cough medicine containing ephedrine to an undercover agent at a gas station convenience store where he had worked for three weeks. He says he had no idea ephedrine was used to make illegal drugs. But he pleaded guilty on his lawyer’s advice, paid a fine, did community service and got a deferred judgment.

      Then, he claims, after helping the FBI for seven years and getting no help with citizenship, he applied for it himself and immigration agents nabbed him on the original offense. A judge ordered him deported.
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      Tennessee County Sheriff’s Office Brings In Anti-Muslim Speaker To Train Officers About Muslim Culture
      By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

      http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/02/15/425947/tennessee-county-sheriffs-office-brings-in-anti-muslim-speaker-to-train-officers-about-muslim-culture/?mobile=nc

      A former FBI agent who has said a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has no legal right to exist will be training the county sheriff’s department about Muslim culture and terrorism threats. John Guandolo, vice president of the Strategic Engagement Group, will lead the training for Rutherford County officers at the World Outreach Church in Murfressboro.
      Speaking at another Tennessee church in November, Guandolo said local mosques are front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood. “They do not have a First Amendment right to do anything,” Guandolo said then. And the pastor at World Outreach Church, the Rev. Allen Jackson, urged the Rutherfod County Commission to not allow a mosque to be built in Murfreesboro. “I would submit to you that we have a duty here at home to understand thoroughly the nature, the intent, the funding of any group that is being invited into our community under that general banner (of Islam),” Jackson told the commission in July 2010.
      Rutherford Sheriff Robert Arnold defended the training, saying his department only wants to find out more about Islam. “There are not many classes out there for anything when it comes to Muslims … but this training isn’t just about that, it has many other components to it,” he told the Tennessean. “My stance is and my office’s stance is, we are not here to pick sides. I am here to protect the people of this county, and I am never going to waiver from that.” But local Muslims said they weren’t asked to join the training:
      Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said the sheriff’s office never asked local Muslims to participate in the training. He said the department is supposed to protect the rights of citizens no matter what their faith.
      Using a trainer who thinks Muslims have no civil rights doesn’t make sense, he said.
      “This training is hate training,” Sbenaty said. “It is not training to keep our whole community safe.”
      On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights group, asked the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Director Brian Grisham to “investigate the appropriateness” of the week-long training. CAIR points out that the Rutherford Sheriff’s Department “is responsible for investigating an arson and repeated acts of vandalism at the construction site of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro that has faced fierce opposition since it was first proposed.”
      Previously, the FBI has come under fire for teaching counterterrorism trainees about Islam using anti-Muslim materials. Spencer Ackerman reports that an internal investigation at the bureau so far has purged hundreds of pages of material about Muslims — some characterizing them as prone to violence or terrorism — from presentations given to agents.
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      Tennessee Police Training Seminar Taught By Notorious Anti-Muslim Activist
      JILLIAN RAYFIELD FEBRUARY 16, 2012, 6:19 AM

      http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/tennessee_police_training_seminar_taught_by_notori.php

      A number of police officers in Tennessee attended a training seminar in Murfreesboro this week that was taught by a known Islamophobe who claims that Muslims should not get First Amendment rights.

      In a free training session on Monday, John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and the vice president of the Virginia-based Strategic Engagement Group (SEG), spoke to law enforcement officers in Rutherford County, Tennessee, at the World Outreach Church.
      ...
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      Jones and Quinones-Sanchez call bill to ban foreign law 'mean-spirited' and 'unnecessary'
      February 10, 2012
      By Aaron Moselle, for NewsWorks

      http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local//item/33848-resolution-story/
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      At Geller-Spencer’s CPAC Panel, Anti-Muslim Activist Says He’s Proud of Attacks on Mosques
      “It’s usually in the South, I’m proud to say”
      Charles Johnson
      WINGNUTS • Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm PST

      http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/39903_At_Geller-Spencers_CPAC_Panel_Anti-Muslim_Activist_Says_Hes_Proud_of_Attacks_on_Mosques
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      Islamophobia is America's real enemy
      The hysterical campaign to stigmatise US Muslims poses a far greater threat than radicalisation to America's civic union
      Daisy Khan
      guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 February 2012 21.30 GMT

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/09/islamophobes-us-muslims-enemy

      A report released this week has at last confirmed what we Muslim Americans have long known to be true: the threat posed to US national security by the radicalisation of its Muslim community is minuscule.

      The study, by the Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security, found that only 20 Muslim Americans were charged with violent crimes related to terrorism in 2011, and of the 14,000 homicides recorded in the United States in that year, not one was committed by a Muslim extremist.

      We are thrilled that an objective, comprehensive investigation has revealed that only a tiny percentage of American Muslims support violent acts. However, we remain concerned that the greater danger to America's civic union comes from an increasingly organised campaign that portrays all Muslims as potential terrorists and traitors.

      Yes, there may be some Muslims who resort to violence; but it's clear that these individuals signify nothing more than a statistical aberration, and are no more representative of the Muslim community as a whole than Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, or Anders Behring Breivik represent Christianity.

      In recent years a network of politically motivated special interests has emerged that is determined to stigmatise and marginalise Muslims in all areas of American public life. After the Cordoba Initiative's proposal to build an Islamic community centre near Ground Zero were distorted into a manufactured controversy by one such group, we were called "stealth jihadists" and "wolves in sheep's clothing". One person even claimed: "They seem like nice people now, but they will probably turn into extremists in 10, 15, or 20 years."

      What began as the work of fringe groups with racist ideologies has moved into the mainstream. The Islamophobic film The Third Jihad was played continuously between training sessions for new recruits to New York's police. The film-makers were linked to an organised movement with a budget of more than $40m and sophisticated lobbying efforts in all 50 states.

      Republican congressman Peter King – even as opponents questioned his own ties to IRA and Catholic terrorism in Ireland – convened a series of congressional hearings on the radicalisation of American Muslims that can only be described as a witch hunt. And on the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates from Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have used their platform to demonise American Muslims and question our loyalty to our country.

      It was not always this way. Following the 9/11 attacks President Bush, at the Islamic Centre of Washington, said: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam … When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world … America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country."

      Our allies in the interfaith and civil rights communities are working to counteract the fabricated opposition to Islam that is gaining strength in America today. In response to King's hearings, a coalition of 150 interfaith organisations sponsored a rally proclaiming "Today I am a Muslim too". It is the Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University that took a lead in exposing the New York City Police Department's missteps with regards to the Muslim community.

      We know that the bulk of the American public recognises the truth of Islamic moderation and tolerance. The hysterical invective may be well-funded, but it does not capture the heart of the nation. By standing tall together we will overcome those who spread hate and suspicion and return respect and trust to their rightful place at the centre of American political and civic life.
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      Anti Muslim graffiti insulting Allah scrawled on Kensington insurance shop
      SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM
      Thursday, February 09, 2012

      http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-02-09/news/31043450_1_bangladeshis-anti-muslim-graffiti-allah
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