Islamophobia in USA: Arab-American leader’s grave desecrated at suburban cemetery
- Arab-American leader’s grave desecrated at suburban cemetery
BY HUNTER CLAUSS AND CASEY TONER Sun-Times Media August 17, 2012 9:10AM
For many years, Hassan M. Abdallah was the face of Arab Americans in Chicago.
The Palestine-born resident of Hickory Hills served in the Arab League, helped build the Bridgeview mosque, and worked as a government diplomat until his death at 73-years-old.
Abdallah was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in 1999, left to rest underneath a stone obelisk bearing his name beside about 500 other Muslim graves in the cemetery.
On Thursday, a Muslim man discovered someone had written “Raghaed Killer,” (sic) homosexual slurs, and gang signs on Abdallah’s tombstone, the sixth time the tombstone was hit since March 2011.
“The people who are behind this wouldn’t realize how important he is,” said Ray Hanania, who profiled Abdallah in his book ‘Arabs of Chicagoland.’ “To them, they don’t know anything about him. He was the symbol of American Arab activism in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Hanania called Abdallah a “community leader,” who helped raise the money for the construction of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview. According to a news release from Birzeit University in Palestine, Abdallah was also a Jordanian consult general in Chicago. Birzeit University and University of Illinois at Chicago set up scholarships his name after his death.
Messages left for Abdallah’s widow were not returned.
While some Islamic groups have labeled the incident a hate crime, detectives have not yet come to the same conclusion, Evergreen Park police Lt. Peter Donovan said. Detectives are trying to figure out if the grave was targeted because of the family’s religious beliefs or because of a personal vendetta.
Attacks on US Muslims create Eid worry
Religious sites targeted before holiday, as congressman says 'radical' Muslims 'try to kill Americans every week'.
Matthew Cassel Last Modified: 19 Aug 2012 07:04
On Thursday, a Palestinian American was visiting his father's grave at Muslim cemetery in Evergreen Park, a suburb southwest of Chicago, when he noticed graffiti written on the tombstones.
"Mohamad is a liar," and "f*ck rag head," were scribbled in marker on the tombs in what cannot be seen as an isolated attack against Muslim sites in the US. In the two weeks before the graffiti was discovered, seven Islamic centres - from California to Rhode Island - have been attacked.
In one of the attacks, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, was burned to the ground. It was the second attempt to destroy the mosque after an unsuccessful attempt by arsonists one month earlier.
With the end of the month of Ramadan and the fast-approaching Eid holiday, many US Muslims are asking why the media and their elected politicians are not doing more to highlight the attacks on their community.
The community, however, has received a different kind of attention as of late. And it's not one they’re happy about.
"One of the committees I sit on is homeland security," said US Representative Joe Walsh, offering his credentials to a packed town hall event in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove, on August 8.
"I'm not sure of a lot of things, but one thing I am sure of is that there are people in this country, there is a radical strain of Islam in this country - it's not just over there - trying to kill Americans every week," he told the crowd. It was filmed and posted to YouTube.
"And it is a threat that is much more at home now then it was right after 9/11. It's here, it's in Elk Grove, it's in Addison, it's in Elgin,” Walsh said referring to neighbouring Chicago suburbs.
Sonia Hassan, a 39-year-old Egyptian American - and an Elk Grove resident for most of her life - was furious when she heard about the event a day later.
"I wish I had been there," she told Al Jazeera. "I would've stood up and said: 'You are saying stuff that can affect my family and my community in a negative way.'"
Hassan told Al Jazeera that her parents, immigrants from Egypt who moved to Elk Grove in the mid-1970s, were the first Arabs or Muslims in the area.
She described an incident a few years ago when a neighbour from across the street approached her mother and shouted one word, "terrorist", before returning to her home.
And earlier this summer, Hassan said that a car full of men threw water balloons at her family's home. She suspects it wasn't a random act because of what she called "racist howls" from the men.
Video: Firebomb Thrown at Florida Muslim Family's Home (CAIR)
Panama City police are investigating what appears to be a fire bombing in the Forest Park area.
It happened about 3:45 Wednesday morning at a house on Timber Lane in phase-1 of the subdivision called The Woods.
The owner's son said he heard a loud noise outside of his bedroom window, looked out and saw the ground below on-fire. He called 9-1-1, then put out the fire.
Police say they smelled gasoline and found what appeared to be a broken and burned mason jar, lying on the ground below the window.
The home is owned by a local medical professional named Aziz Ahmad. 5-adults were inside at the time.
Spate of attacks near Ramadan trouble U.S. Muslims
By Yasmin Amer and Moni Basu, CNN
August 22, 2012 -- Updated 0521 GMT (1321 HKT)
(CNN) -- To mark the end of Islam's holiest month, Iftikhar Ali will head not to a mosque but to a convention center guarded by law enforcement officers.
That's because this month, during Ramadan, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned to the ground. Its rubble smoldered for two days as a shocked Muslim community came to terms with what had happened.
"I think there are a few people who don't like anybody," Ali said. "They don't like a different color than their color or different religions."
Ali, who is the president of the Joplin mosque, said the congregation rented a convention center so people would have a place to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of fasting for Ramadan.
Authorities are still investigating the mosque burning but suspect the fire was intentional. In July, a surveillance camera caught a man throwing an incendiary device onto the building that damaged part of the roof.
Ahead of Eid, Ali said he contacted the police and sheriff's department. They are sending extra officers Sunday.
It's that way across America, after a spate of violence at Islamic centers in recent weeks that included a homemade bomb and pigs parts.
At least seven mosques and one cemetery were attacked in America during Ramadan, according to groups that track such incidents.
"This is unprecedented in its scale and scope," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the civil rights and advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations.
He said Muslims have not been under attack like this since the backlash after the September 11 attacks and the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing when it was assumed the work of Islamic extremists.
Just Thursday, Ahmed Rehab, the head of the council in Chicago, received a call from a young man visiting his father's grave at Evergreen Cemetery. Someone had desecrated several Muslim graves.
The Prophet Mohammed's name was taken in vain and, a black marker scrawling on a tombstone screamed: "raghead," a derogatory term for Muslims that stems from head coverings like turbans and kaffiyas.
A few days earlier, police arrested 51-year-old David Conrad and accused him of firing a pellet gun at a mosque filled with 500 people in Morton Grove, southern Chicago suburb.
No one was injured but worshipers said one of the bullets flew only inches above a security guard's head, according to CNN affiliate station WGN. Conrad is a neighbor and had previously spoken out against the expansion of the mosque. He was charged with four felonies.
In a third Chicago-area incident, worshipers at an Islamic school in Lombard heard a loud noise outside of the building during night prayers.
They then found a 2-liter soda bottle filled with acid. Police identified it as a homemade bomb.
No was injured in that incident, either, but on the heels of the carnage at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, and the burning of the Joplin mosque, Muslims in the United States were fearful.
The temple shooter died and his motives may never be known. But he was linked to white supremacist groups and Hooper said many people felt the Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and beards.
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a new mosque opened this month after more than two years of community protests, legal hurdles and vandalism. The board of directors planned for extra security.
When worshipers bow their heads in prayer Sunday, someone else will be scanning the room.
"Yes, we are very concerned because we have been the subject of vandalism, arson, bomb threats, intimidation, bullying," said Saleh Sbenaty, a board member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
"You call it," he said. "Every single act of intimidation, you know, was actually inflicted upon us."
Hooper, the spokesman for the Islamic Council, said Muslims in the United States have been asked to exercise caution. The council released a tip sheet on security: know your emergency responders, post observers, report threats, install surveillance cameras.
Hooper said anti-Muslim rhetoric has been building for years, especially from groups formed specifically to fight against Islam in the United States.
"Anti-Muslim hate groups are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States, most of them appearing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.
"Earlier anti-Muslim groups tended to be religious in orientation and disputed Islam's status as a respectable religion," the center said.
Hooper, for one, believes there's an "Islamophobia machine working out there."
"Eventually and inevetiably, it's going to have an impact on the tiny minority of people willing to carry out acts of violence," he said.
Rehab of CAIR's Chicago office also blamed the spike in incidents on government officials who he said were involved in fear-mongering.
He cited statements made by Republican congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois who warned Americans that "there is a radical strain of Islam in this country"and that radicals are "trying to kill Americans every week."
Justin Roth, Walsh's chief of staff, said the lawmaker's comments were taken out of context and that Walsh is troubled by attacks on any people based on their religion.
Nevertheless, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee blamed Walsh for the homemade bomb incident.
"It is not a coincidence that after the remarks by Rep. Walsh were made that there was a homemade bomb directed at an Islamic school ..." the committee said. "The facts are clear -- By proclaiming to the public that 'Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week,' Walsh raised suspicion of the American Muslim community and incited fear."
There were other troubling incidents this month:
-- In Hayward, California, police arrested two teens and charged them with committing a hate crime after worshipers said the boys threw lemons at worshipers during prayer.
-- In Ontario, California, pig legs were left on the property of an Islamic Center. Police still do not have information on who was responsible for the act, which was particularly offensive during Ramadan to practicing Muslims who consider pigs as unclean.
-- In North Smithfield, Rhode Island, a surveillance camera outside the Masjid Al-Islam mosque showed a suspect breaking the building's sign and two vehicles later fleeing the property.
-- In Oklahoma City, vandals defaced the Grand Mosque with paintball guns. Those inside the mosque feared the shots came from a real gun.
In Joplin, the torched mosque's 90 congregants invited 300 other people to join them Sunday for Eid.
"I still feel secure," said Ali, the mosque president, though he knows a pall has been cast by all the attacks.
He said the attacks on his community are instigated by a few ignorant people. He came to these shores from Pakistan 23 years ago and still believes in the principles of this nation.
"This is un-American," he said of the mosque fire. "I'm not afraid of any neighbors. I feel more secure here in America than anywhere else in the world."
He said all Muslims have a right to practice their faith without fear.
On this Eid, that may not happen in some houses of worship in America
Muslim group: Republican ‘Islamophobia machine’ encouraging violent attacks
By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 11:01 EDT
Man arrested for shooting at Chicago-area mosque
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Islamic School Hit With Acid-Filled Bottle In Lombard
August 13, 2012 12:06 PM
Vandals fire paintballs at Oklahoma City mosque; group calls for hate-crime investigation
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 13, 2012 - 9:06 am EDT
August 8, 2012
Arson, vandalism at mosques not uncommon
From staff reports
JOPLIN, Mo. — Three suspicious fires within four years at the mosque west of Joplin are part of a national trend.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have tracked dozens of fires, firebombings and incidents of vandalism at mosques around the country in recent years.
This week, the relations council, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, issued a “community safety advisory” for American mosques after a vandalism incident Sunday at a mosque in North Smithfield, R.I.
“We urge Muslim leaders nationwide to take immediate steps to boost security, particularly in the last 10 days of the ongoing fast of Ramadan, when religious activities at mosques reach their peak,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of the council, said in a statement.
Awad recommended that Muslims meet with local law enforcement and request more patrols near mosques, that mosques install video surveillance cameras, alarms and perimeter lighting, that they document any suspicious behavior and vehicles, and that they cooperate with neighborhood watch groups.
Among the attacks on mosques in the past two years have been these, according to the council:
• In July, a South Carolina mosque was vandalized when someone threw a large outdoor concrete ashtray through a window.
• In June, the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the FBI to investigate a possible bias motive for a fire and hate graffiti targeting a building associated with a Dearborn mosque.
• In April, someone threw a rock through a rear window of the Bab E Mustafa Community Center in the Riverview area of Baltimore County, Md.
• In January, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the FBI and local law enforcement to investigate vandalism targeting a mosque under construction in Virginia. Vandals smashed glass in windows and doors of the Chantilly mosque, causing an estimated $60,000 in damage.
• A mosque in Queens, N.Y., was firebombed in January with worshippers inside. There were no injuries.
• An Oct. 31, 2011, arson fire at a mosque in Wichita, Kan., caused an estimated $120,000 in damage.
• An arson attack on a Houston, Texas, mosque was reported in May 2011.
• In April 2011, someone burned three copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and left a threatening letter near the entrance of the Islamic Center of Springfield, Mo., mosque. The anonymous letter claimed that Muslims would “stain the earth” and that Islam wouldn’t survive.
• A fire at a Kansas City mosque in February 2011 was termed “suspicious.”
• Construction equipment was set afire at the site of a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in August 2010.
Missouri mosque razed by second fire in weeks
Investigators look for evidence of arson after mosque in southern US city of Joplin is burned to the ground.
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2012 08:30
Investigators are looking for evidence of arson after a mosque in southwest Missouri was burned to the ground in the second fire to hit the Islamic centre in little more than a month.
No injuries were reported in the fire on Monday, but the Islamic Society of Joplin's building was destroyed in the blaze, first reported at about 3:30am, the Jasper County Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Jasper County Sheriff's department were at the scene all day, moving the rubble with a bulldozer and other equipment.
Meanwhile, a small group of Muslims gathered for evening prayer on the lawn of the destroyed building.
It was the second time this summer that investigators had been called to the Islamic centre, located in a former church on the outskirts of Joplin.
A fire reported around the same time on July 4 has been determined to be arson, but no charges have been filed.
The FBI has released a video of a suspect caught on surveillance video and offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in that fire.
'Sad and shocked'
Michael Kaste, special agent in charge of the Kansas City office of the FBI, said the investigation into Monday's fire was in the preliminary stages, and that about 30 people had been assigned to the investigation.
Imam Lahmuddin, who leads the mosque and was in the building until late Sunday, said he was "sad and shocked" about the fire.
"Maybe there is something we are supposed to learn from this," he said.
A Washington-based Muslim civil rights organisation meanwhile called for more police protection at mosques and other houses of worship following the Joplin fire and a deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the mosque fire.
About 50 families belong to the Islamic Society of Joplin, which opened in 2007 as a mosque and community centre.
The FBI led an investigation in 2008 when the mosque's sign was torched. That crime also remained unsolved.
Nobody has yet been arrested in connection with Monday's fire.
Romney in Israel: Palestinian Culture Is Inferior
Politics • Mon Jul 30, 2012 at 10:03 am PDT • Views: 19,509
Zelenik: "15% Of Islam Is A Religion, 85% Political."
Posted: Jul 27, 2012 11:32 PM GDT
The Craziest GOP House Race of the Year
Lawsuits, conspiracy theories, super-PACs, and an anti-Islam sugar daddy: This conservative-on-conservative rematch has it all.
—By Tim Murphy | Mon Jul. 30, 2012 3:00 AM PDT
Murphy: Colorado Muslims wonder if theater shooter might have been noticed
POSTED: 07/23/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
UPDATED: 07/24/2012 10:09:09 AM MDTBy Chuck Murphy
The Denver Post
How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam
There aren’t nearly enough counterterrorism experts to instruct all of America’s police.
So we got these guys instead.By Meg Stalcup and Joshua Craze
Video: Texas Muslim Family's Home Vandalized (CAIR)
July 5, 2012
Mosque attacks common nationwide; imam takes incident in stride
By Roger McKinney
CAIR: Ohio Muslim Policeman’s Suit Says Firing Followed Conversion to Islam
by CAIR on Monday, 2 July 2012 at 19:05 ·
When Your Father Is Accused of Terrorism
Laila Al-Arian June 13, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
For a while, the phone stopped ringing. Not completely—reporters called, but many old friends did not.
That’s how my mother remembers the days following my father’s arrest on terrorism charges in February 2003. At dawn, a team of FBI agents and police, clad in black uniforms, descended on my family’s three-bedroom apartment in Tampa, Florida. They arrested my father and carted away dozens of boxes filled with our personal possessions, from school report cards to laptop computers and journals.
My father, Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, was indicted on fifty-three counts of supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which had been designated by the government as a terrorist group. The conspiracy case, which involved three other Palestinian men, was based largely on my father’s charitable contributions, associations, speeches and other First Amendment–protected activities. Prosecutors would introduce as evidence books my father owned, magazines he edited, conferences he organized and, particularly bizarre, a dream one of his co-defendants had about him. My father faced multiple life sentences plus 225 years if convicted. The charges against him included conspiracy to kill and maim persons abroad, yet prosecutors freely admitted that my father had no connection to any violence.
As the government built its case against my father, FBI agents interrogated one Muslim family after another. Overwhelming fear pervaded the community. My father, a pillar of that community, had founded and run an Islamic school near the mosque where he also led prayers. After the arrest, my mother, Nahla, was asked to withdraw my younger siblings from the school that she and my father had worked so hard to build. Returning for a visit, my mother was asked what she was doing there. Shopping for groceries, she saw a longtime friend turn her back to avoid talking to her. “It was shocking and depressing,” my mother recalls.
One day my mother read a letter to a local newspaper that condemned my father’s harsh prison conditions and the one-sided media coverage of his case. The author said my father had the right to a presumption of innocence, adding, “History will teach us that what can happen to one man can happen to any of us. Are we going to sit back and watch, or are we going to speak up?” The letter was signed by Melva Underbakke, a peace activist and English language instructor who also worked at the University of South Florida. My mother called to thank her. They became friends, and Mel, as she became known to us, formed a group called Friends of Human Rights to support my father.
Muslims aren't giving up on opening Islamic center
Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune Updated: June 13, 2012 - 11:29 PM
St. Anthony's rejection of a proposed Islamic center marks the first time in seven years that a new Muslim house of worship has been blocked by a local government in Minnesota.
City leaders said the decision was solely a land-use issue, but Muslim leaders expressed fears that Minnesota may be joining the ranks of other states where proposed mosques and Islamic centers have been blocked by government amid anti-Islamic rhetoric and intense community resistance.
"This is the first one [in Minnesota] where we're seeing so much anti-Muslim hate involved," said Lori Saroya, president of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The Muslim advocacy group asked the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday to investigate allegations of anti-Muslim bias in the rejection of the proposed Abu-Huraira Islamic Center, planned for the basement of the former Medtronic headquarters.
During a City Council meeting Tuesday night, several residents disparaged the Muslim faith and said the Islamic center was not welcome in the small bedroom community north of Minneapolis. At least one resident said Islam is "evil" and embraces violence.
Following the vote, the imam, Sheikh Ahmed Burale, said his congregation of nearly 200 is still interested in using the St. Anthony space and is considering a court challenge of the council's decision.
If the center pursues legal action, the ACLU of Minnesota could participate in the case, said Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the group.
"We're all very disappointed," Burale said through an interpreter Wednesday. "It's possible we may appeal and win."
Fear and Loathing of Islam
Moustafa Bayoumi June 14, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
Something’s gone terribly wrong.
In August 2007 the New York Police Department released a report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” claiming that the looming danger to the United States was from “unremarkable” Muslim men under 35 who visit “extremist incubators.” The language sounds ominous, conjuring up Clockwork Orange–style laboratories of human reprogramming, twisting average Muslims into instruments of evil. And yet what are these “incubators”? The report states that they are mosques, “cafes, cab driver hangouts, flophouses, prisons, student associations, non-governmental organizations, hookah (water pipe) bars, butcher shops and book stores”—in other words, precisely the places where ordinary life happens.
But the report wasn’t based on any independent social science research, and actual studies clearly refuted the very claims made by the NYPD. The Rand Corporation found that the number of homegrown radicals here is “tiny.” “There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence,” Rand’s 2010 report found. “A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced,” it concluded. This year, an analysis by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security also described the number of American Muslims involved in domestic terrorism since 2001 as “tiny.” “This study’s findings challenge Americans to be vigilant against the threat of homegrown terrorism while maintaining a responsible sense of proportion,” it said. And a 2011
Gallup survey found that American Muslims were the least likely of any major US religious group to consider attacks on civilians justified.
Every group has its loonies. And yet the idea that American Muslim communities are foul nests of hatred, where dark-skinned men plot Arabic violence while combing one another’s beards, persists. In fact, it’s worse than that. In the past few years, another narrative about American Muslims has come along, which sows a different kind of paranoia. While the old story revolves around security, portraying American Muslims as potential terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, the new narrative operates more along the axis of culture. Simple acts of religious or cultural expression and the straightforward activities of Muslim daily life have become suspicious. Building a mosque in Lower Manhattan or in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, or in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, becomes an act of “stealth jihad.” Muslims filing for divorce invokes the bizarre charge of “creeping Sharia.” A dual-language Arabic-English high school in New York is demonized as a
“madrassa.” The State Board of Education in Texas determines that reading about Islam is not education but indoctrination. Changing your Muslim-sounding name to one with a more Anglophone tenor triggers an NYPD investigation, according to the Associated Press. Even the fact that some Butterball turkeys are “halal” was enough to fire up the bigotry last Thanksgiving, the most American of holidays.
What happens when ordinary life becomes grounds for suspicion without a hint of wrongdoing; when law enforcement premises its work on spying on the quotidian and policing the unremarkable; and when the everyday affairs of American Muslim life can so easily be transformed into nefarious intent? Something has gone terribly wrong for American Muslims when, more than a decade after the terrorist attacks of September 11, anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States continues to grow.
Deploying Informants, the FBI Stings Muslims
Petra Bartosiewicz June 13, 2012
It wasn’t long after he met the man called Shareef that Khalifa Al-Akili began to sense he was being set up. Within days of their seemingly chance meeting, Shareef was offering to drive Akili, a 34-year-old Muslim living in East Liberty, Pennsylvania, to the local mosque for prayers. Shareef told Akili he was “all about fighting” and “had a lot of resources at his disposal.” But when Shareef began to probe Akili about his views on jihad and asked him if he could obtain a gun, Akili grew nervous. “I begin to try to avoid him, but would still see him due to the fact that he lived two minutes’ walking distance from my apartment,” Akili said later. In January of this year, Shareef showed up with a “brother” who called himself Mohammed and was keen to meet Akili. Mohammed told Akili that he was a businessman from Pakistan involved in jihad. “He kept attempting to talk about the fighting going on in Afghanistan, which I clearly felt was
an attempt to get me to talk about my views,” Akili recalled. “I had a feeling that I had just played out a part in some Hollywood movie where I had just been introduced to the leader of a terrorist sleeper cell.”
Islamophobia and Its Discontents
Laila Lalami June 13, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
Thirty years ago, no one outside the halls of academe had heard of Islamophobia. Yet today it is virtually impossible to open a newspaper without encountering either the term or an argument against its use. The word began to appear in print in the late 1980s, when Muslims in Western countries—people of starkly different racial and ethnic backgrounds—began to notice similarities among their experiences with hate, intimidation or discrimination. But almost from the start, there was a parallel effort to discredit this neologism: it was assailed as a fiction, at best the product of a culture of victimhood and at worst a very dangerous myth. Thus we have Islamophobia and “Islamophobia,” one with currency on the left side of the political spectrum and the other a common target of the right.
The True Story of Sharia in American Courts
Abed Awad June 13, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
On May 21 Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed legislation prohibiting judges in the state from considering foreign law in their rulings. The law declares that any court decision will be considered void if it relies “in whole or in part on any foreign law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the…decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States and Kansas constitutions.”
The real target of the law goes unnamed. “This [bill] doesn’t say ‘Sharia law,’” Republican State Senator Chris Steineger said in a speech that condemned the legislation for discriminating against Muslims, “but that’s how it was marketed back in January and all session long—and I have all the e-mails to prove it.”
The Kansas law is hardly unique. Since 2010, when Oklahoma voters first passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting judges from considering international law in their decisions, two dozen states have proposed or passed similar legislation. (The Oklahoma statute was struck down this past January, with a federal court ruling that lawmakers failed to “identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve.”) Richard Thompson, a former Michigan prosecutor and president of the right-wing Thomas More Law Center—whose website cites “Confronting the Threat of Islam” as a key part of its advocacy—recently admitted that “Sharia law is the thing people think about” when it comes to such bans.
The Long Roots of the NYPD Spying Program
Ramzi Kassem June 13, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
The stories are as remarkable for their banality as for their detail.
On February 8, 2006, the imam at a Bronx mosque advised congregants to boycott Danish products in response to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by a Danish newspaper. In November 2006, a member of the Muslim Students Association at the state university in Buffalo forwarded an e-mail to a Yahoo chat group advertising a conference featuring various Muslim scholars. And in April 2008, college students on a rafting trip discussed religion and prayed “at least four times a day.”
The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate
Max Blumenthal June 13, 2012 | This article appeared in the July 2-9, 2012 edition of The Nation.
In late April, Geert Wilders arrived in New York City to tell his quixotic tale to a rapt American audience. The far-right Dutch Party of Freedom leader—perhaps the world’s most prominent anti-Muslim populist—was poised to release Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me, a memoir just out from Regnery, the right-wing US publishing house, in which he recounts his courageous efforts to stop the “Islamicization” of Europe. On his US tour, Wilders proudly portrayed himself as a man on the run—a round-the-clock security detail guarding him against radical Muslims whose violent passions he had supposedly inflamed by his truth-telling—and as a man on the rise: the exodus of his party from the governing coalition had forced new elections in the Netherlands, throwing the country’s ossified establishment into chaos.
Upon Wilders’s arrival in New York, a little-known think tank called the Gatestone Institute rolled out the red carpet for him. On April 30, before a select crowd that according to Gatestone’s website had paid $10,000 a head, he held forth on the persecution he had endured during his recent trial for incitement to hatred and discrimination. “This charade that happened in the Netherlands for the last few years could not have happened in your great country,” Wilders said in his speech. Then he cut to the heart of his appeal: “Islam is primarily a dangerous ideology rather than a religion. This is the truth. This violent ideology wants to impose Islamic Sharia law on the whole world, including us—the Kafirs, the non-Muslims…. Islam is the largest threat to freedom which the world is currently facing.”
Some Dutch liberals have branded him a demagogue who summons the ghosts of Europe’s dark past, but Wilders counters the accusation by assiduously cultivating Jewish support. He quotes Zionist forefather Theodor Herzl and boasts of his more than forty trips to Israel, where he once toiled on a rural kibbutz. Wilders, in fact, has made a special friend of right-wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. In Wilders’s world, the Jewish state represents Fort Apache on the frontiers of the war against the barbarians threatening Western civilization. “Mothers in the West can sleep safely because Israeli mothers at night worry about their sons in the army,” he told the Gatestone Institute. “Their fight is our fight. We should support it.”
Cindy Pugh, candidate for state rep., compares Muslim women to garbage bags
By Gregory Pratt Thu., Jun. 7 2012 at 6:30 AM
Tea Party candidate for state representative Cindy Pugh uses her Facebook profile to defend Scott Walker, criticize Barack Obama, and boast about her ongoing campaign to defeat incumbent state Rep. Steve Smith, a Republican from Mound.
But she also used it recently to compare Muslim women and children clad in traditional Islamic garb to garbage bags.
Pugh shared the above photo on May 21 with the following commentary: "Disturbing ... that women & little girls are OK with dressing like this!!! What will it take for these women to stand up and say, 'NO'!? Wondering if they will ever do that?!"
The photo was originally uploaded by "Proud to be an Infidel," a Muslim-bashing page with the following slogan: "It's not Islamophobia when they are really trying to kill you."
Pugh launched a right-wing campaign to unseat 22-year state Rep. Smith, a moderate Republican, earlier this year. Although Pugh defeated Smith for the Republican endorsement at the party convention May 23, he has announced that he'll challenge her in the August primary.
Pugh co-founded the Southwest Metro Tea Party and touts herself as a successful small business owner. She's also a former general manager of Dayton's in downtown Saint Paul.
Pugh did not return numerous messages requesting an interview. Smith could not be reached for comment.
Besides the harsh commentary about Muslim women, Pugh's Facebook is about what you'd expect from a hard-right candidate for public office. She shares images of bumper stickers offering to pay for your contraception if you pay for her ammunition and tries to figure out "what 'We [The People]' could do to show Michele Bachmann how much we appreciate her."