CAIR-MI ASKS DOJ TO PROBE BIAS IN DECISION ON ISLAMIC SCHOOL - TOP
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 7/26/11) -- The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether local planning officials in that state are violating the religious rights of Muslims by denying a permit to build a school on property they own.
On June 16, the Michigan Islamic Academy (MIA) went before the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission for land usage approval on a newly-purchased property to be used for educational and religious purposes. The planning commission voted on a preliminary procedural motion to deny MIA's request after concerns of disruption of neighborhood harmony were raised and derogatory comments were made about the religious practices of Muslims. (A final vote will be taken at a commission meeting on August 4.)
In a letter sent yesterday to the DOJ, CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid stated in part:
"In a number of instances across the nation, including the controversial Murfreesboro mosque case in Tennessee, organized anti-Muslim activists raise concerns such as traffic issues and neighborhood harmony with planning commissions and zoning boards to provide legal cover for denial of zoning for mosques and Islamic schools based upon prejudice. Our assessment is that this particular case is similar to such cases."
"We ask the Department of Justice to monitor the upcoming vote of the Pittsfield Township Planning Commission and to probe the motion of denial of the Michigan Islamic Academy's land usage request as a potential violation of federal law," said Walid.
He noted that the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) prohibits local governments from imposing restrictions on land usage of religious institutions unless the governments provide compelling reasons for the restrictions.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR-MI Staff Attorney Lena Masri, 248-390-9784, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
REP. ALLEN WEST'S (VERY, VERY) STEALTH JIHAD - TOP Tim Murphy, Mother Jones, 7/26/2011
On Monday afternoon, as markets fretted over the possibility of the United States government running out of money to pay its creditors, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) held a briefing on a crisis that could bring the nation to its knees. "This is about the protection of each and every American citizen who ever resides within our borders," West told the audience in the basement of Rayburn House Office Building.
West wasn't there to talk about Congress' apparent inability to raise the debt ceiling, though. He was there to introduce Peter Leitner of Citizens for National Security, an organization based in Boca Raton, Florida, that is dedicated to raising awareness of the threat of Islamic extremism in American communities. The group, which previously tried to ferret out perceived Islamic bias in Florida public-school textbooks, had been invited by West to present the findings of its latest report: "Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Muslim Brotherhood's Deliberate, Premediated Plan Now Reaching Maturity." CFNS claims to have a list of 6,000 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are living in America and determined to "penetrate the United States and eventually erode its institutions, policies, and sense of self through the creation of a multifaceted Fifth Column movement within our borders." (More)
ALLEN WEST-SPONSORED EVENT PAINTS THOUSANDS OF MUSLIMS AS TERRORISTS- TOP Ryan J. Reilly, TPM Muckraker, 7/25/2011
A Florida-based "anti-terror" group took to the Capitol on Monday to warn Americans about "fifth column" Muslims who it said are pulling the strings of mainstream Muslim organizations and trying to take over the United States.
With assistance from line graphs and pie charts accentuated with bullets instead of arrows, the group painted the Muslim Brotherhood as behind a massive conspiracy with the long-term goal of absorbing America into an Islamic Caliphate. Not convinced? Well, the group helpfully compiled a list of nearly 6,000 people and 200 organizations it claims are in some way connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.
And thanks to help from Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Citizens for National Security was able to present its alarm of Islamic sedition in the basement of the Rayburn House office building.
As the audience feasted on beef, turkey and tuna sandwiches, group co-founder Peter Leitner walked through a long PowerPoint presentation that laid out a 49-year stealth Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the United States through a vast web of organizations, many of which have tenuous links at best to the actual Muslim Brotherhood. (More)
FOX DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHO THEY'RE USING TO SMEAR MUSLIMS - TOP Matt Gertz, Media Matters, 7/25/2011
Fox News' Islam problem has often led them to promote supposed experts who are in no way credible. Today was no different, as Fox News decided to promote an obscure organization's forthcoming briefing purporting to name "thousands" of U.S. members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group, Citizens for National Security (CFNS), was previously best known for its declaration that Florida's textbooks are excessively pro-Islam.
According to its press release, CFNS' briefing, titled "Homegrown Jihad in the USA: Culmination of the Muslim Brotherhood's 50-year History of Infiltrating America," will present "an unprecedented list of individual members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., and the people and organizations with which they are associated." The report was compiled by the organization's "volunteer members"; CFNS gives no indication as to the qualifications of those members or how the list was compiled.
While Fox decided to devote a four-minute segment to the organization's report, neither anchor Bill Hemmer nor guest Erick Stakelbeck, a "terrorism analyst" for the Christian Broadcasting Network, seemed familiar with the organization... (Watch the video.)
WASH. POST OP-ED SLAMS ISLAMOPHOBES CITED BY NORWAY TERRORIST - TOP Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, 7/26/2011
The monster who admitted slaughtering at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here.
One could argue that it already did, in Oklahoma City. The difference is that Timothy McVeigh's apocalyptic anger was diffuse and non-specific. Anders Behring Breivik -- who has acknowledged detonating a powerful fertilizer bomb in central Oslo and then killing scores of teenagers and young adults on a nearby resort island -- was focused like a laser beam on what he saw as the "threat" posed by Islam.
The judge who presided over Breivik's arraignment Monday said the accused mass murderer "believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway [from] cultural Marxism and Muslim domination."
In a 1,500-page screed setting out his philosophy, Breivik referred favorably to the work of several well-known anti- Muslim polemicists in the United States -- zealots who usually boast of their influence but now, for some reason, seek to deny it.
Breivik quoted Robert Spencer, a writer who runs a Web site called Jihad Watch, more than 60 times. Spencer is the author of such books as "Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs," "Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't" and "The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion."
On his Web site, Spencer responded Monday that "the Breivik murders are being used to discredit all resistance to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism." He sought to draw a parallel: "Charles Manson thought he heard instructions to kill in the Beatles song 'Helter Skelter,' and committed mass murder. There were no instructions to kill in the song." (More)
ISLAMOPHOBES DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM BREIVIK - TOP Jim Lobe, Al-Jazeera, 7/26/2011
As Norway mourns the loss of at least 76 of its citizens in Friday's bombing of government buildings in Oslo and mass shootings at a Labour Party youth camp, attention here has focused on the US bloggers and groups whose Islamophobic message appears to have fuelled the alleged perpetrator's murderous rage.
Their identity was established through the online publication by the alleged terrorist, 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, of a 1,500-page manifesto entitled "2083: A European Declaration of Independence" purportedly authored by an "Andrew Berwick".
All belong to what Toby Archer, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, referred to as a "transatlantic movement that often calls itself 'the counter-jihad'" in an article published Monday by foreignpolicy.com.
"As his writings indicate, Breivik is clearly a product of this predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government and anti-immigration bloggers, writers and activists," according to Archer.
He also noted that, in contrast to the traditional European right, this network tends to be philo-Semitic and supports the most extreme right-wing parties in Israel.
Particularly striking is the overlap between the US members of this network - all of whom are identified with the neo-conservative movement - with the leaders of last year's controversial campaign to prevent the construction of a Muslim community centre near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque". ...
"As his writings indicate, Breivik is clearly a product of this predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government and anti-immigration bloggers, writers and activists."
Among other sources cited by the manifesto, the "Jihad Watch" blog and its author, Robert Spencer, is cited no less than 162 times, while Daniel Pipes and his Middle East Forum (MEF) gets 16 mentions, according to a tally by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank here.
Another blogger, Pamela Geller, and her "Atlas Shrugs" blog is cited 12 times in the manifesto, while the Center for Security Policy (CSP), its president, Frank Gaffney, and CSP's senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Caroline Glick, appear a total of eight times.
All of them have sought to distance themselves both from Breivik and Friday's terrorist acts since his identity first became known Saturday, and have furiously protested suggestions in the media that they bore any responsibility for what took place in Norway Friday. (More)
PAT ROBERTSON RESPONDS TO NORWAY TERROR WITH ATTACK ON ISLAM - TOP Media Matters, 7/26/2011
CAIR: OHIO MUSLIMS ON HIGH ALERT (TOLEDO BLADE) - TOP David Yonke, Toledo Blade, 7/26/2011
Although no threats have been made against Toledo-area mosques following the killings in Norway, local Muslims are on high alert at the urging of a national Islamic advocacy group.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations advised U.S. mosques Monday to "step up security following attacks by an anti-Muslim, right-wing terrorist in Norway that left more than 70 people dead."
Nihad Awad, the council's executive director, said in a statement that the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, had written a 1,500-page manifesto "designed to inspire similar attacks" and that the suspect claimed "there are others who share his beliefs ready to strike."
Dr. Mahjabeen Islam, vice president of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, said the Perrysburg mosque is taking the advisory seriously.
"We have not received any threats, but we will stay on high alert because after any event like this there are copycat crimes," she said. (More)
CAIR: OHIO MUSLIMS TO HOST RAMADAN OUTREACH EVENTS - TOP Geoffrey Dobbins, Soapbox Media (Cincinnati), 7/26/2011
Apart from her colorful hijabs, or head scarves, Ramadan is the most visible expression of Amina Darwish's Muslim faith. The chemical engineering graduate student at the University of Cincinnati can't wait for the season of fasting and feasting, which she calls a sort of "spiritual bootcamp," to begin August 1.
When she talks about the holiday, she becomes even more animated and her large brown eyes widen with enthusiasm. "I am sad when (Ramadan) is ending and I miss it until the next year when it comes, because it's just so beautiful," says Darwish, an executive board member at the Clifton Mosque.
She is far from alone. As Cincinnati's population becomes more and more culturally diverse, a growing Muslim community will be observing the holy month in Cincinnati right along with her. According to Islamic tradition, Ramadan marks the month when the Muslim holy book, the Quran, was revealed to the prophet Muhammad. Muslims are required to fast -- which means to abstain from food, drink and sexual activity -- between sunrise and sunset for up to 30 days.
But to the community members that attend the Clifton Mosque, the fast is about far more than merely not eating. Darwish's friend, Karen Dabdoub, explains that Muslims are also encouraged to "fast" from spiritually harmful activities like gossiping, lying or being too short tempered.
"It's like Lent -- you're supposed to give something up," says Dabdoub, a smile quickly spreading over her ivory cheeks. "And it better be something more than chewing gum!"
Dabdoub is executive director of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations -- CAIR for short -- an organization dedicated to strengthening understanding between Muslim Americans and their neighbors. (More)
BREIVIK INFLUENCED BY U.S. ISLAMOPHOBES BEHIND 'GROUND ZERO MOSQUE' HYSTERIA - TOP Lee Fang, Think Progress, 7/25/2011
As the world struggles to make sense of the tragic attacks in Norway last week, it has become apparent that Anders Behring Breivik, the main suspect held by police, left a long trail of online comments, a YouTube video, and a manifesto outlining his political beliefs. The New York Times reports today, Breivik "endeavored to find common cause with xenophobic right-wing groups around the world, particularly in the United States" and his manifesto "quoted extensively from the anti-Islam writings of American bloggers."
In his manifesto, Breivik cites an assortment of right-wing figures, but a troubling theme is evident in the 1,500 page document. Breivik was directly influenced by the same cadre of American anti-Muslim activists that have gained a powerful following in the contemporary conservative movement in recent years. Many of the leading Islamophobes who inspired Breivik have also been responsible for a rising tide of hate campaigns, from the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" hysteria to a disturbing trend of demonstrations against Muslim Americans across the country. (More)
NORWAY ATTACKS ALLOW INTROSPECTION FOR THOSE WHO BASH MUSLIMS - TOP Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, 7/26/2011
With news that the man accused of slaughtering 76 people Friday in Norway was a right-wing extremist whose manifesto was littered with quotes from American anti-Muslim bloggers, conservative pundits were put on the defensive again. We say "again" because it's a scenario that played out six months ago when "tea party" conservatives were blamed for allegedly inspiring the shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson by popularizing anti-government views.
It was wrong then, and still is, to attack the purveyors of legitimate if extreme political views for the violent actions of deranged individuals. Yet while we'll strenuously defend the right even of bigots to express themselves, we do think the horrifying act of terrorism to which Norway's Anders Behring Breivik confessed Monday provides a welcome opportunity for introspection among Muslim-bashers.
Under particularly withering fire from critics is Robert Spencer, operator of the anti-Muslim website Jihad Watch, who was quoted 64 times in Breivik's screed. After fielding calls from reporters, Spencer complained on his blog that he felt the way the Beatles must have after Charles Manson said he was inspired by their song "Helter Skelter" to commit murder. Here's how Spencer distinguished between his writings and those of Muslims: "Islamic texts and teachings, and frequently imams, directly exhort their followers to commit acts of violence. I do not."
What Spencer failed to address is the fact that his site, and others cited by Breivik such as The Gates of Vienna, make a habit of blaming all Muslims for the actions of a minority of violent jihadists. As an example of Spencer's thinking, he wrote in November that the Transportation Security Administration should profile and give extra screening attention to Muslim males at airports, because this is the likeliest group to commit acts of terrorism. One could as easily argue that special attention should be paid to white males. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Unabomber's reign of terror, the Tucson shootings and, now, the mass murder in Norway, this population also appears prone to terrorist violence. (More)
COLBERT: NORWEGIAN MASS KILLER NOT MUSLIM, BUT STILL 'MUSL-ISH' (VIDEO) -TOP David Taintor, TPM LiveWire, 7/26/2011
Stephen Colbert on Monday night forgave the news media for quickly jumping to the conclusion that Islamic terrorists were responsible for Friday's bombing and mass shooting in Norway.
The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin, commenting on the attacks while they were still underway, wrote: "there is a specific jihadist connection here." Even the New York Times briefly reported that a group known as "Helpers Of Global Jihad" claimed responsibility.
But, as it turned out, a blond right-wing Norwegian man admitted to acting alone in carrying out the attacks.
"Some say these false reports of Muslim involvement were a widespread failure of the media," Colbert said. "But I say, by going with their guts, these journalists were able to get the story they wanted and scoop reality."
Rubin later offered a response to her post, saying the suspicions of a jihadist bombing plot in Norway "did not bear up." But she maintains "there are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans."
"The point is, this monster may not be Muslim, but his heinous acts are indisputably Musl-ish," Colbert said. "And we must not let his Islam-esque atrocity divert our attention from the terrible people he reminds us of." (Watch the video.)
ABERCROMBIE MIGHT HAVE TO GET USED TO HEAD SCARVES - TOP Kristen Frasch, Human Resource Executive Online, 7/25/2011
Abercrombie & Fitch, doing business as Abercrombie Kids, was found in a July 13 ruling to have committed religious discrimination for refusing to hire a Muslim teen in 2008 because she was wearing a hijab head scarf when she interviewed at its store in Woodland Hills Mall, Tulsa, Okla.
A federal court in Tulsa granted summary judgment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the ruling, charging that Samantha Elauf was turned down for a sales position in June of 2008 because she wore the head covering in keeping with her religious beliefs.
Abercrombie had argued in its rebuttal that the seriousness of Elauf's religious belief was questionable. The inquiry, the court stated in its ruling, is whether "the belief is held as a matter of conscience or instead animated by motives of deception and fraud." The court found there was no evidence of the latter. (More)
US RAPPER SAYS CALL TO PRAYER LED TO HIS CONVERSION TO ISLAM - TOP Essam Al Ghalib and Bana Qabbani, The National, 7/26/2011
DUBAI -- A US rap artist who converted to Islam after hearing the call to prayer in Dubai will discuss his spiritual journey in one of several events during Ramadan.
Amir Hawkins was part of P Diddy's Bad Boy Records, where he released an album under his stage name, Loon, and enjoyed other commercial successes, according to his Facebook fan page, which has more than 51,000 "likes".
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Baptised a Christian, Mr Hawkins now dedicates his life to giving Dawa, or preaching Islam, and will speak at the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) on August 12. (More)