About Me

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Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Time to challenge political hypocrisy about and in the M.E.

Iraqi rulers: You are political hypocrites if you oppose Baath's repression in Iraq, but support it in Syria. 

Arab Nationalists and leftists: You are political hypocrites if you oppose brutal repression by Israel, but defend it in Syria.

Iranian and Hizbollah leaders: You are political hypocrites if you support freedom and justice in Bahrain, but oppose it in Syria.

Fellow Sunnis: You are political hypocrites if you support freedom and justice in Syria, but oppose it in Bahrain.

Fellow Westerners: You are political hypocrites if you support freedom and democracy in Libya, but fund occupation and apartheid by Israel.

Fellow Muslims: We are political hypocrites if we speak against Islamophobia, but not sufficiently challenge our own fanatics.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lowe's faces backlash over pulling ads from 'All-American Muslim'

Lowe's faces backlash over pulling ads from 'All-American Muslim'



Home improvement giant Lowe's Cos. continues to come under heavy criticism from activists, some politicians and customers after pulling its ads from a reality TV show featuring Muslim Americans.

The North Carolina company decided to stop advertising on the show "All-American Muslim," on Discovery Communications Inc.'s TLC channel, after complaints by the Florida Family Assn., a conservative Christian group that lobbies companies to promote "traditional, biblical values."

The association praised the move, but the decision sparked immediate backlash. State Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) called the move "bigoted, shameful, and un-American." A petition on SignOn.org that calls on companies to keep advertising on the show has gathered more than 13,000 signatures. Activist and actress Mia Farrow joined the battle in a Twitter post and urged a boycott of Lowe's.

In its defense, Lowe's spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company had a "long-standing commitment" to diversity and pulled the ads only after the show became "a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives." Other companies had also removed their ads from the show, she wrote in an email.

"All-American Muslim," which premiered last month, follows the day-to-day lives of five Muslim American families in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit with a large Muslim population. Cast members talk about how their faith affects their actions and choices.

The conservative Christian group, based in Tampa, Fla., called the show "propaganda" that "hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." The organization began an email campaign urging companies to yank their advertising off the show. The group did not respond to an email Monday requesting comment on the reaction to its effort.

Laurie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Discovery Network and TLC Network, declined to comment on whether any companies besides Lowe's had pulled their ads. "We stand behind the show 'All-American Muslim,' and we're happy the show has strong advertising support," she wrote in an email.

In a letter, Lieu, the state senator, urged Lowe's to reverse its decision and apologize to Muslim Americans.

"The show is basically about Americans who happen to be Muslim," Lieu said in an interview. "For Lowe's to say that the show is dangerous, or agree that it's dangerous or somehow showing anything other than American Muslims as normal, is quite outrageous."

Lieu said he would consider urging a boycott and drafting a legislative resolution denouncing the company's actions. He said he would give Lowe's until Friday to respond.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim American elected to Congress, issued a statement condemning Lowe's for deciding to "uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of the 1st Amendment."

At a Lowe's store in Burbank, some customers expressed opposition to the retailer's actions.

"It's pretty ridiculous," said Nate Childress, 28, of North Hollywood. "The show has a great concept, and it's showing a different view of Muslims than what's constantly blasted at us in the U.S."

Childress said that even if the company had a "knee-jerk reaction" to the conservative group, that doesn't excuse its actions. "That just frustrates me, that a company would actually be afraid to advertise on a show about Muslims that aren't terrorists," he said.

Bob Clendenin of Burbank echoed that sentiment. "It just sounds like bigotry," said the 47-year-old actor. "When a company takes a stand like that, that just makes me angry."

He said he would boycott the chain until Lowe's reinstated its ads and apologized.

The broader Muslim American community is also considering taking action, said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Muslim community leaders and interfaith groups were meeting to discuss boycotts, petitions, rallies and other forms of protest against Lowe's, he said.

"Hate groups are entitled to their bigotry — that is the beauty of America, people have the right to their own opinions," Ayloush said. "However, when a large corporation takes their side or caves in to the requests of hate groups, that is of concern."

Ayloush wondered what the public reaction would have been if a company had yanked its ads from certain now-classic programs.

"Imagine if Lowe's had decided many years ago to pull out its ads from shows like 'The Cosby Show' or 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' or 'Seinfeld' because they were deemed to portray African Americans and Jews as normal people," he said. "The American public would have been outraged by any corporation who did that."


shan.li@latimes.com

Newt Gingrich may be able to occupy Palestine, but Israel can't


Haaretz, 12/13/2011
By Bradley Burston

Mr. Speaker, if for the sake of Jesus and the Resurrection, you want the territories to stay occupied forever, you and your Christian Zionist allies will have to do some homework before Inauguration Day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

From his grave, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish responds to Newt Gingrich's anti-Palestinian bigotry

Long before Newt Gingrich made his repeated bigoted statements that the Palestinian people are an "invented" people, renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote two poems challenging this hateful genocidal rhetoric against the Palestinian people, their identity, their heritage, and their future.

Newt Gingrich is not the first nor is going to be the last person to engage in such Nazi-like revisionism that attempts to deny a people their existence, past, and dignity. As if robbing a people of their homes, land, freedom, and rights is not sufficiently immoral, Newt Gingrich and those who share his views want to intensify it  with an assault on their past and memories.

Mahmoud Darwish responded to the similar racist Israeli campaigns to erase the Palestinian identity and culture through his poems. The world lost this genius on Saturday, August 9, 2008. His poetry remains celebrated around the world by all those who value human rights and support justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.

Read and/listen to the two poems below and you will understand the pain, hope, perseverence, and aspirations of the great real and un-invented people called the Palestinians.
 

Passport - By: Mahmoud Darwish
 
(Song performed by renowned Lebanese singer Marcel Khalife)
 
 
 
They did not recognize me in the shadows
That suck away my color in this Passport
And to them my wound was an exhibit
For a tourist Who loves to collect photographs
They did not recognize me,
Ah . . . Don’t leave 
The palm of my hand without the sun
Because the trees recognize me
Don’t leave me pale like the moon!

All the birds that followed my palm
To the door of the distant airport
All the wheatfields
All the prisons
All the white tombstones
All the barbed Boundaries
All the waving handkerchiefs
All the eyes
were with me,
But they dropped them from my passport

Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job (The Prophet) cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!


_______________________________________________


Identity Card - By: Mahmoud Darwish
 (Arabic and English read by Souhad Zendah  - English begins at: 3:55)
 
  
Record!

I am an Arab
And my identity card is number fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth is coming after a summer
Will you be angry?
 
Record!
I am an Arab
Employed with fellow workers at a quarry
I have eight children
I get them bread
Garments and books
from the rocks..
I do not supplicate charity at your doors
Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber
So will you be angry?
 
Record!
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew
 
My father.. descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather..was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my house is like a watchman's hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title!
 
Record!
I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
And the land which I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks..
So will the State take them
As it has been said?!
 
Therefore!
Record on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Beware..
Beware..
Of my hunger
And my anger!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Jon Stewart: Introducing a New Jewish Holiday (video)

                       
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Matzorian Candidate
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook



The Matzorian Candidate

At the Republican Jewish Coalition forum, Jews commemorate the miracle of incredibly religious Christian presidential candidates fighting over who loves Jews more.


                       

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wadah Khanfar: Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam

guardian.co.uk,
Sunday 27 November 2011
Read Full Article

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt's elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the "problem" of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors.

But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists' gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. "Islamist" is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end – thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called "Islamist" in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence).

This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear...

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments – in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977...

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth...

The Islamic movement's approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it...

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists' participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

Are Muslims allowed rights? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Are Muslims allowed rights? - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Khutbah: A Muslim Response to Conspiracy Theories

Who is behind the Arab Spring? Who is behind Islamophobia? 
Who helps dictators stay in power?  Who is plotting all the world's conspiracies?

And how shall we respond to all those conspiracy theories?

Well, I tried to deal with much of that in this Khutbah/sermon.


"A Muslim Response to Conspiracy Theories" by Br. Hussam Ayloush from Islamic Institute of Orange Cty on Vimeo.

And the winner for the least desired US government job is...

Victoria Nuland, US State Department Spokesperson.

Watch her video below as she comments on the US decision to cut off funds to UNESCO after the vote to admit Palestine as a member state. Watch how a reporter slams and embarrasses Ms. Nuland with his questions and how she sounded clearly unconvinced with her own answers. I really do not envy her for that job. Ms. Nuland, you have my sympathy.

Having to do the bidding for an unjust and an immoral position on behalf of a foreign state, I vote her job as the least desired job in the US government.




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Libya's Pharaoh Has Fallen

All praises are due to Almighty God.  The psychotic dictator of Libya who has repressed and terrorized the Libyan people for 41 years has met his just fate.Qadhafi is the longest serving Arab dictator and one of the most brutal ones.

I congratulate the Libyan and all freedom loving people on this great victory.

In the Holy Qur'an, Allah (God Almighty) says: And do not ever assume that Allah is unaware of what the unjust do; But He gives them respite up to a day in which the eyes will become fixed, staring. [Ibrahim 14:42]

As the Libyan people turn a page on the brutal era of Qadhafi, I pray and I am confident that the Libyan people will succeed in establishing a democratic state that respects the rights and aspirations of all its people. Libya's revolution has an opportunity to set a new standard for democracy and human rights in the Arab World.  People living under dictatorships, especially around the Arab World, are praying for Libya's stability, success and leadership.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Ayloush Rebukes Calif. Councilman Who Named Dog 'Muhammad'

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director CAIR L.A.:
Orange County Register, 10/14/2011

Regarding “Of blogs and dogs: Councilman’s message to San Juan.” [Oct. 4] Councilman Derek Reeve needs to take responsibility for his own reckless acts rather than baseless blaming the mayor, his fellow council members or CAIR for his recurring problems, whether they are about allegations of plagiarism or insults levied at Muslims around the world, including his constituents. Being a leader used to mean being ethical, civil and uniting. I hope that standard has not been entirely lost.


We all cherish and protect freedom of speech. But do we not also value dignity and maturity? It should not be too much to ask that our elected officials not be gratuitously vulgar and disrespectful toward others. It is commendable that Councilman Reeve is teaching his children about the importance of free speech, but how about also teaching them something about civility and respect? Was it respectful for Reeve to name his dog after the prophet of Islam, Muhammad? Fortunately, most children have other role models who can teach them the values Reeve seems unable to demonstrate.


A good lesson that Reeve could demonstrate to his children and the residents of San Juan Capistrano is that we all make mistakes, and that a good leader recognizes and acknowledges his mistakes, takes measures to correct them and apologizes to those harmed by them. Is that too much to hope for?

For more details on this incident, please read:

Bill O'Reilly Pins the Head of SJC Councilman Reeve for Naming Family Dog Muhammad
OC Weekly Article

Bigotry or Free Speech in San Juan Capistrano?

Councilman Derek Reeve Criticized For Muhammad Remark (Huffington Post)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Poets Society Lied: What the Movies Don't Teach You About Student Resistance (on Irvine11)

John Hrabe
Huffington Post
9/25/2011

...In February 2010, members of UC Irvine's Muslim Student Association systematically interrupted a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. On September 23, an Orange County jury found ten of the students guilty of misdemeanor charges and sentenced them to three years of informal probation...

To be clear, I'm not defending the content of the protests, nor do I support the students' outbursts. Freedom of speech doesn't include a heckler's veto, and the students could have protested the ambassador in more constructive ways...

But, Dr. Smith also wisely points out that the heckler's veto wasn't the only First Amendment question in this case. There was also the issue of whether Muslim students were singled out and selectively prosecuted because of their views.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the District Attorney selectively prosecuted," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - Greater Los Angeles Area, "because the students were Muslim, the speaker was an Israeli diplomat, and the verbal protests centered on Israel's long history of war crimes."

It strains credulity to think that the politics of the speakers didn't affect the decision to prosecute. Had this been a raucous student council meeting about the cost of tuition, the case would have ended in a campus administrative hearing. You'd be laughed out of any prosecutor's office if you tried to turn it into a criminal case. Most hecklers not only avoid prosecution, but get a bigger platform because of their disruptions. Anyone remember Rep. Joe Wilson and Joe the Plumber?

In Orange County, Muslim Americans have other reasons to believe that there's a double standard for free speech. Earlier this year, Villa Park City Councilwoman Deborah Pauly protested an Islamic charity event and exclaimed, "I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise." Just this month, San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Derek Reeve said at a council meeting that he named his dog Muhammad to intentional provoke Muslim Americans and make a statement about free speech. These incidents explain why Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, described the verdict as keeping an "open wound" in the community.

If you protect the offensive, anti-Islamic rhetoric of Orange Curtain councilmembers, you have to protect the rights of the UC Irvine Muslim Student Association. As Ayloush put it, "No topic should be off limits and no public official or country should be above criticism."

When controversial speakers are prosecuted under ridiculous "disturbing the peace" statutes, it sets up a forced choice for freedom. Every speaker must live in fear of prosecution, or worse, only the dissenting speakers get quashed. Either scenario is unacceptable because both outcomes lead to less speech.

Our natural reaction to contrasting views should always be to speak out ourselves, not shut our opponents up. Muslim students get the same First Amendment protections as Israeli ambassadors. I'm entitled to my review of Dead Poets Society; and Roger Ebert has a right to his -- even if he's wrong.

Read Full article

New Evidence of Anti-Islam Bias Underscores Deep Challenges for FBI’s Reform Pledge

Danger Room
By Spencer Ackerman
September 23, 2011

Following months of denials, the FBI is now promising a “comprehensive review of all training and reference materials” after Danger Room revealed a series of Bureau presentations that tarred average Muslims as “radical” and “violent.”

But untangling the Islamophobic thread woven into the FBI’s counterterrorism training culture won’t be easy. In addition to inflammatory seminars which likened Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a “cult leader,” Danger Room has obtained more material showing just how wide the anti-Islam meme has spread throughout the Bureau.

The FBI library at Quantico currently stacks books from authors who claim that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible.” The Bureau’s private intranet recently featured presentations that claimed to demonstrate the “inherently violent nature of Islam,” according to multiple sources. Earlier this year, the Bureau’s Washington Field Office welcomed a speaker who claimed Islamic law prevents Muslims from being truly loyal Americans. And as recently as last week, the online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces included claims that Sunni Islam seeks “domination of the world,” according to a law enforcement source...

some voiced worries that the presentation sent an implicit message to agents that they should be targeting Muslims in the name of stopping terrorism. And in the past few years, the FBI has accelerated its monitoring of mosques, community centers, businesses and other organizations run by Muslims. Several observers suspect that the persistence of training materials that casts Islam in a threatening light helps explain the increased surveillance. Others — including many counterterrorism professionals within the FBI who say they are disgusted by the bigoted material they’ve received — fear that the presentations will drive a wedge between the Bureau and the U.S. Muslim communities whose assistance it needs to prevent terrorism...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Khutbah: "The Best Jihad: Challenging Injustice"

My Khutba/sermon commenting on the Irvine11 verdict, recent FBI abuses, Palestinian state bid at the UN, execution of Troy Davis, Islamophobic comments by OC councilmembers, and our need to respond to injustice.

Khutba was delivered on September 23, 2011 at the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim.


Khutbah: "The Best Jihad: Challenging Injustice" by Br. Hussam Ayloush. from Islamic Institute of Orange Cty on Vimeo.

Dangerous Lessons in Islamophobia at the FBI (MUST READ)

Posted by Julian Sanchez on Cato at Liberty
Sep. 16, 2011
...


One presentation makes it quite explicit that, in the analyst’s view, the problem is not Islamic “extremism,” but the inherent propensity for violence of Muslims as such:
  • There may not be a “radical” threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology.
  • The strategic themes animating these Islamic values are not fringe; they are mainstream.
  • The individual applying these values and practices may likely be simply a pious and devout adherent: i.e., a true believer as opposed to a “radical.”
In other words, FBI agents are effectively told that Osama bin Laden was correct, and that a sincere Muslim who understands and practices his faith correctly will naturally be a terrorist. It would be offensive in any context for the government to sponsor this kind of smear session against the enormous peaceful majority of its Muslim citizens, but it’s downright dangerous in light of the vast expansion of FBI surveillance authorities over the past decade...

Read Full Article

FBI Trainer Says Forget ‘Irrelevant’ al-Qaida, Target Islam (video)

by Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman 
 
The FBI has publicly declared that its counterterrorism training seminars linking “mainstream” Muslims to terrorists was a “one time only” affair that began and ended in April 2011. But two months later, the Bureau employee who delivered those controversial briefings gave a similar lecture to a gathering of dozens of law enforcement officials at an FBI-sponsored public-private partnership in New York City.
And during that June presentation, the FBI’s William Gawthrop told his audience that the fight against al-Qaida is a “waste,” compared to the threat presented by the ideology of Islam itself.

Since Danger Room published the contents of Gawthrop’s April lecture, top Senators and representatives from Arab- and Muslim-American groups have blasted the FBI for the training documents, which compare Mohammed to a “cult leader.”...

The best strategy for undermining militants, Gawthrop suggested, is to go after Islam itself. To undermine the validity of key Islamic scriptures and key Muslim leaders.

Watch video

New Documents Reveal FBI’s Islamophobic Counterterrorism Training

Counterterrorism agents at the FBI’s training center in Quantico, Virginia are being taught that “devout” Muslims are more likely to be “violent” and that American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers, according to training materials acquired by Wired’s Spencer Ackerman. (In fact, mosques have been found to be a deterrent to the spread of terrorism.)

An FBI spokesperson told Ackerman that the slides were no longer in use but dates on the slides would suggest that they were used at least until March 21.

The documents offer a violent interpretation of Islam in which “Any war against non-believers is justified” and a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.” A particularly blunt slide shows a comparison of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, depicting how they have moderated their “militancy considerations” over time:


The information in the slides is clearly Islamophobic and completely ignores the fact that Islamic extremism, while a national security concern worthy of sober discussion, is a limited problem within the United States and hardly a frequent phenomenon in Muslim communities. A recent Duke terrorism study showed that since 9/11, the U.S. has experienced only 33 deaths from Muslim terrorism while 150,000 murders have occurred during the same time.

Several of the slide presentations are the work of an FBI intelligence analyst named William Gawthrop who, in 2006, before he joined the Bureau, gave an interview to WorldNetDaily, in which he said “Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the FBI has given a stage to noted Islamophobes. In July, Ackerman identified that an FBI terrorism presentation recommended anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer’s book, “The Truth About Mohammed: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”

READ FULL STORY

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ayloush commenting on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 (NBC Los Angeles)

Fighting the Muslim Backlash

After 9/11, Muslim leaders found themselves trying to explain their faith and the campaign continues today.

By Vikki Vargas; Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 - NBC Los Angeles


View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Best way to thank America's workers...

The best way to thank America's workers who honorably serve us every day is to ensure they receive fair pay and benefits.

Support groups that are advocating for worker justice.
Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ)
CLUE-LA

Friday, September 02, 2011

Ayloush Condemns Noose Hanging at OC Labor Federation Office

Source: JOSHUA SUDOCK, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
(ANAHEIM, CA, 9/2/11) - The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today re-iterated its solidarity with America's workers and those who advocate for their rights amid reports of a noose being found at the OC Labor Federation office in Orange.

The noose was found hanging at the entrance to the office earlier today.

The federation represents 90-plus unions and is currently in labor negotiations on behalf of workers for better living wages and working conditions.

CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush condemned the incident and stressed American Muslim community's solidarity with America's workers.


"We are appalled that there are those in society who seek to intimidate, drive fear, and act with malice toward the backbone of our country through reprehensible actions.

"American Muslims stand on the side of workers across the U.S. in their pursuit of fair and balanced working agreements. We further urge anyone with information to come forward and assist law enforcement in apprehending the perpetrator(s)."

Ayloush yesterday joined a CLUE-OC organized delegation in which OC Labor Federation and advocates met with grocery chain Ralphs in support of the grocery workers' rights.


SEE:
Noose dangling from roof at union office

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Video Tribute to the Arab Spring



One of the most rewarding recent moments of the ongoing struggle for freedom, justice and dignity was the liberation of Libya by its people. The images from Tripoli, like the earlier ones from Tunisia and Egypt, are a triumphant reminder that the Arab Spring is not just for Syrians -- it's for all oppressed peoples anywhere in the world. In this spirit, we have created a short video tribute to the Arab Spring.

Music: "Watani Ana" by Malek Jandali (used with artists' permission)

This is a presentation from the Syrian American Council (SAC), a 501c3 not-for-profit that promotes human rights, civil liberties, and democracy for Syria.

Website: http://sacouncil.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sikh man claims to be FBI informant, deported over cough medicine

Desi claims to be FBI informant, deported over cough medicine

Bernice Yeung Aug 19, 2011
First Post

In a saga that sounds straight out of a TV crime show, an alleged FBI informant and convenience store clerk named Arvinder Singh sits in an Iowa jail awaiting imminent deportation to India over the sale of cold medicine.

Singh had originally immigrated to the US on a business visa, but he is now being sent back to India because he pled guilty in 2002 to selling a large quantity of cough medicine containing ephedrine, which can be used to manufacture methamphetamine.

In the years since he immigrated, Singh got married, obtained a green card, and ran a convenience store until he triggered an investigation by immigration authorities that led to deportation proceedings that began in December 2010. Singh has been detained in an Iowa jail for more than six months...

What makes Singh’s deportation case stand out is his claim that he served as a confidential informant to the US government and aided in stateside counterterrorism efforts.

Singh is sikh, and after he was arrested, he was allegedly approached by federal agents. “It was right after 9/11 and he was approached and they said, ‘We are looking for people who look like you in the War against Terror,’” according to attorney Said. “They created this persona for him, gave him checkbooks and checking accounts and they said, ‘Go to these mosques and claim to be Muslim, and pray, and give them money so we can trace the money.”

READ FULL STORY
http://www.firstpost.com/world/desi-claims-to-be-fbi-informant-deported-over-cough-medicine-64098.html

Locked Up Abroad—for the FBI

MotherJones
—By Nick Baumann
September/October 2011 Issue

Inside the feds' secret program to have American citizens detained and interrogated by foreign governments.

Learn more about the FBI's version of the rendition program.

A MUST READ
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/proxy-detention-gulet-mohamed
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The Informants

Mother Jones
September/October Issue
—By Trevor Aaronson

The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. But are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?

The bureau now maintains a roster of 15,000 spies, some paid as much as $100,000 per case, many of them tasked with infiltrating Muslim communities in the United States.

A MUST READ
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/08/fbi-terrorist-informants

Terror Probes Have FBI's Informant Numbers Soaring (NPR)

August 21, 2011

In today's post 9/11 America, there are 15,000 informants working with the FBI. That's nearly three times as many as there were 25 years ago.

Over the years, when there has been a surge in the number of informants the FBI recruits and uses, there's a specific target in the FBI's sights — first organized crime, then drug smuggling, and now counterterrorism.
James Cromitie, center, is led by police officers from a federal building in New York, Thursday, May 21, 2009, after being arrested on charges related to a bombing plot in the Bronx. The arrest of Cromitie and three other Muslim ex-convicts in the alleged homegrown terror plot is renewing fears about the spread of Islamic extremism in the nation's prisons. (AP Photo/Robert Mecea)
Enlarge Robert Mecea/ASSOCIATED PRESS

And while the FBI uses many informants the traditional way — pointing the finger at wrongdoers — a new review of post-9/11 prosecutions reveals the increasing presence of informants in terrorism investigations.

"The informants play larger roles where they acted almost as agent provocateurs, where they provided not only the opportunity for the person to commit this act of terror, but also the means," Mother Jones contributor Trevor Aaronson tells NPR's Laura Sullivan. "Providing them with the plan, with the so-called weapons that were needed to ultimately create the act of terror that these people are them prosecuted for," Aaronson says.

Mother Jones partnered with the University of California-Berkeley's Investigative Reporting Program where Trevor Aaronson is an investigative fellow. Aaronson writes about the FBI's informant boom in the current issue of the magazine.

And how are the FBI agents finding so many informants willing to infiltrate mosques and Muslim communities? Sometimes, the money is alluring Aaronson says. In other cases, the money has nothing to do with it at all.

"A big reason, especially within the Muslim community and in counterterrorism investigations is that the FBI is able to use immigration against people," Aaronson says. "If you are going to recruit an informant and you realize that he has an immigration violation, often times the FBI will be able to use that as a form of leverage to say 'well if you work with us, we'll work with the immigration authorities to make sure you're not deported'."

Prevention Or Entrapment

For some critics, this use of coercion by the FBI to recruit informants is questionable. According to Aaronson's article, the FBI denies it blackmails informants, but does acknowledge that the bureau has prevented helpful informants from being deported.

But the larger problem for those opposed the FBI using informants to plan terrorism stings is whether the informants play an overactive role in convincing people to commit acts of terrorism.

"That's exactly the question is whether any of these people would be able to commit this plot or construct this plot on their own," Aaronson tells Sullivan. "The truth is when we looked closely at a lot of these cases the people who are leading these so-called plots or so called terrorist cells are not exactly the smartest people." In addition, informants seek out subjects that tend to be very poor, economically desperate and in some cases have a very elementary understanding of Islam, Aaronson says. "The informant is able to take advantage of that."

And then comes the question of entrapment. "I think in many of these cases nothing would have happened were it not for the FBI going in and making a plot possible," Aaronson says. "But I think it's important to understand that the legal definition of entrapment and what you and I would see as entrapment are very different. There hasn't been a case yet that's met the legal definition of entrapment."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Syrian Revolution for Freedom - (The best english video)



Influenced by the Arab Spring and over four decades of Assad family repression, on March 15, 2011, Syrians launched peaceful pro-freedom protests against the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad. The protests soon turned into a nationwide nonviolent revolution for freedom, justice and dignity. This 7-minute documentary offers the necessary background and overview to understand the Syrian Revolution for Freedom. Watch the video, share it, and support the Syrian people’s struggle for freedom.

Did U.S. trade freedom for security after 9/11? (AFP)

The Vancouver Sun
Agence France-Presse, August 15, 2011

CHICAGO - Sweeping new policing powers, the tacit acceptance of torture and a backlash against Muslims that has grown fiercer 10 years after the September 11 attacks have made the United States a less free and open society.

The erosion of fundamental American values along with massive — and what some see as disproportionate — expenditures on homeland security and two wars have allowed al-Qaida to accomplish at least some of its goals.

Most Americans don't seem to mind.

A majority of them consistently tell pollsters they are willing to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safer and only about a quarter say torturing terror suspects is never justified.

"The reason that I think a number of people haven't responded as aggressively to things like warrantless wiretapping is because they think it won't happen to them," said Andrea Prasow, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch's U.S. program.

"History shows that's not true. Once government has a power they won't give it back."

Congress is currently considering legislation that would allow indefinite detention without trial — something that used to be as unimaginable as a U.S. president saying "damn right" to waterboarding and other forms of "enhanced interrogation."

"That's not where the U.S. was 10 years ago. It was a leader - not perfect - but a leader in promoting human rights," Prasow told AFP.

"Terrorists seek to change a nation or a people, and that has happened."

The response has not been proportional to the threat, said Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union.

There have only been a handful of successful attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11, the most devastating of which was the 2009 attack on Fort Hood in Texas by an army psychiatrist that left 14 dead and 29 wounded.

That pales in comparison to the toll from drunk driving, which is involved in a third of the more than 30,000 traffic deaths every year.

"We're talking about a threat that will always exist, but doesn't threaten our existence," Wizner said.

"And yet we treat it as if it's equivalent to world war."

The war on terror granted law enforcement unprecedented power to monitor the email, phone calls, financial transactions, library records and Internet browsing of citizens and foreigners alike and store them in massive databases.

Some of those "data sweeps" have reportedly gathered everything from hotel records on more than 300,000 travelers to Las Vegas to the names of anyone who took scuba diving lessons in the San Diego area.

Nowhere has the intrusion of security into daily life been more obvious than in airports — the al-Qaida target of choice — where a controversial new pat-down policy made a minor hero of a man recorded telling a screener "don't touch my junk" last year.

Increased surveillance was both inevitable and necessary in the face of ongoing threats, said Ron Marks, a former CIA official now at George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute.

"We're not going to go back to before 9/11. The genie is out of the bottle," he said.

"We're going to have to be more intrusive. The question is the degree of intrusiveness and what is the oversight of that."

There is "tremendous sensitivity" among federal investigators over the handling of data gathered in intelligence sweeps, Marks said.

"I'm more concerned about public perceptions than what law enforcement do," he said, pointing to a "loss of flexibility" in tolerating divergent opinions and a deep mistrust of Muslims and Arabs.

Many Republican politicians have both fueled and exploited that mistrust as a "campaign strategy," said Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The most glaring example is the hysteria drummed up ahead of November's mid-term elections over an Islamic cultural center being built near Ground Zero in New York. Legislation banning Shariah law has also been introduced in over a dozen states.

"Our political discourse has become openly Islamophobic and it is accepted and not challenged by a large percentage of the population," Walid said.

"It's scary to think where this is going."

The burden of America's near decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has also been "borne very unevenly," said Catherine Lutz, an anthropologist at Brown University who co-directs the Cost of War project.

Former president George W. Bush implemented massive tax cuts, leaving future generations to pay for much of the nearly $4 trillion cost of the war on terror.

The elimination of the draft means that the burden of multiple and lengthy deployments has been left to 2.2 million volunteers who largely come from rural areas and lower-income families.

That makes it easy for the remaining 300 million Americans to forget that the nation is at war, especially given that just four per cent of news stories are about Iraq or Afghanistan.

"That's not necessarily a measure of what most Americans are consuming on television," Lutz noted. "That's the news.. (Most are) watching Jersey Shore and Bachelorette. So the circus continues."

© Copyright (c) AFP

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/canada-in-afghanistan/trade+freedom+security+after/5258713/story.html#ixzz1VDVJbmTT


Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/canada-in-afghanistan/trade+freedom+security+after/5258713/story.html#ixzz1VDUt2aEJ

Monday, August 08, 2011

Meet the FBI's new arsenal in recruiting informants: Operation Flex for Sex

The recent embarrassing fiasco by the FBI in Irvine reveals more than just a violation of the sanctity of peaceful mosques or an attempt to entrap law-abiding young Muslims into extremist and violent acts.  The exposed "Operation Flex" indicates that the local FBI official overseeing the agent provocateur authorized the use of sexual encounters with Muslim women to shame them into becoming informants, as charged by the former agent provocateur Monteilh.

This is a serious charge by Monteilh and, sadly, the Obama administration decided to deny the American public access to the truth about what happened.

The real name for this operation should have been: "Operation Flex for Sex"

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Want to Sue the FBI for Spying on Your Mosque? Sorry, That's Secret.

Obama, once a critic of the state secrets doctrine, has invoked it repeatedly. But critics say his latest use of Bush's favorite get-out-of-court-free card is different.

—By Hamed Aleaziz
Mon Aug. 8, 2011

The state secrets privilege—perhaps the most powerful weapon in the government's legal arsenal—has a complicated history. For years, Democrats, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, accused the Bush administration of overusing of the privilege, which allows the government to quash cases that involve national security before a court even hears evidence. Then, after Obama took office, his Justice Department used this get-out-of-court-free card repeatedly.

Last week, the DOJ invoked the state secrets privilege yet again. But this case, civil liberties groups say, is different.

Most of the post-9/11 cases that the government has killed with the state secrets privilege have either involved foreign-born terrorist suspects or the government's actions abroad. The case the Obama administration tried to quash last week doesn't explicitly involve either. The case in question, which was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), focuses squarely on domestic intelligence-gathering targeting Americans—namely the FBI's allegedly widespread use of informants and surveillance against Muslim Americans.

The FBI's involvement in the case—and the fact that it involves Americans—makes it stand out among the other state secrets cases, says Ameena Qazi, CAIR's deputy executive director. "We're surprised at the government's shocking move in invoking the state secrets doctrine in this case of all cases," Qazi says. Since this case "involves domestic intelligence-gathering on US soil against Americans," she explains, "it's an unprecedented move to our knowledge."

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The case, Fazaga v. FBI, stems from the purported actions of Craig Monteilh, a 49-year-old convicted criminal who claims that he spent 15 months in 2006 and 2007 infiltrating mosques in Orange County, California, as part of an undercover FBI investigation known as "Operation Flex." The Fazaga case, which the ACLU and CAIR filed in February 2011, claims that the FBI utilized Monteilh to "collect personal information on hundreds and perhaps thousands of innocent Muslim Americans in Southern California." The ACLU says that the FBI investigation "violated the Constitution's fundamental guarantee of government neutrality toward all religions." For evidence, the two groups point to a somewhat problematic source: Monteilh.

According to Monteilh, Operation Flex did indeed involve the indiscriminate monitoring of the Southern California Muslim community with the goal of apprehending terrorists. Monteilh claims to have gone by the name Farouq al-Aziz and posed as a French Syrian man pushing a radical Islamist view on mosque-goers in Irvine, California. And after months of Monteilh's spying, Southern California Muslims did in fact call the FBI to alert them of a possible terrorist: Monteilh. The whole episode was a bit of an embarrassment for the FBI, and received national press attention after 2007, when Monteilh was imprisoned for grand theft and started talking to the press.

To CAIR's Qazi, the fact that Operation Flex allegedly took place in the United States and targeted Americans makes Fazaga v. FBI different from previous state secrets cases. "If the government were to prevail on their invocation of the state secrets doctrine it would essentially make such FBI actions non-reviewable by the courts and render any redress by our clients or by any other Americans for such activities ineffective," she says. "That's really the concerning part of what their use of the state secrets doctrine implies."

Robert Chesney, a law professor and national security law expert at University of Texas-Austin, disagrees with Qazi's assessment. "At the end of the day, the FBI is part of the intelligence community as well—it's not necessarily thought of as any different than the NSA," Chesney said. "Is the effort to prevent a bombing only national-security-related if the perpetrators have an international connection? I wouldn't hold my breath on a court accepting that logic."

Just because an international connection hasn't emerged so far in this case doesn't mean one isn't there, Chesney explains. "It certainly could be the case that the very secret at issue here has to do with a possible foreign nexus," he says.

Monteilh, for his part, claims he knows what the government might be trying to hide. Monteilh—who, for what it's worth, is a convicted felon—now says that the FBI broached the subject of his traveling abroad to act on the intelligence he gathered during Operation Flex. In one instance, Monteilh says, the FBI asked him whether he'd be interested in traveling to Pakistan to assassinate a terrorist target. Monteilh also claims that a CIA representative reviewed his progress in Arabic and Islamic training every month.

Monteilh also claims that during his time as an informant, the FBI also involved him in an elaborate plan to present himself as a single, Muslim man seeking introductions to potential wives in Orange County and record his meetings with the women. Monteilh claims that before the relationships turned sexual, he approached the FBI agents on the case: "I said look guys, as you hear the recordings, if it goes to a level where there's a potential sexual encounter what do you want me to do?" According to Monteilh, the agents said to go ahead with the sexual interactions in cases where good information existed. After learning more about the women's potential "terrorist" connections abroad through Monteilh, the FBI would confront the women with recordings of their sexual encounters with Monteilh, intending to frighten them into giving the bureau actionable intelligence. "They told me that we're going to use the [Islamic] culture against the Muslim community," Monteilh says.

Monteilh's claims aren't the kind of thing that anyone would believe without further proof of the kind that could be obtained in a courtroom. But if the Justice Department gets its way, that kind of proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. "In asserting the state secrets privilege they have sealed the gaps of the entire Department of Justice on Operation Flex," Monteilh says. "There's one gap they can't touch—which is me."

For the alleged victims of Operation Flex, that probably seems like cold comfort.

Hamed Aleaziz is an editorial intern at Mother Jones.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norwegian Muslish Gunman's Islam-Esque Atrocity (Colbert Nation)


Just because Norway's confessed murderer is a blond, blue-eyed, Norwegian-born, anti-Muslim crusader doesn't mean he's not a swarthy, ululating madman. (05:09)

Three important lessons from the Norway terrorist attack

Image from the attack in Oslo, Norway
My heart is filled with sorrow for the innocent people who recently fell victim to hatred and anger in Norway. I pray for them and their families.

The terrorist attack by Anders Behring Breivik provide us with three important lessons -- lessons that can help us prevent many future tragedies.


The lessons are:

Anders Behring Breivik
1- Terrorism has no religion or religious identity. Terrorists come in all colors, religions, nationalities, and ideologies. Terrorists and criminals commit crimes despite their religious teachings and not because of those teachings.


2- Unchecked hate speech can easily lead to violence. Islamophobes, anti-Semites, anti-immigrants, and all types of bigots should be challenged and exposed. Hate mongers such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Walid Shoebat -- all cited approvingly by Breivik in his manifesto -- are very dangerous because their ideas inspire and incubate right-wing terrorism. It is crucial that government agencies such as the FBI and DHS stop employing these discredited, agenda-driven individuals to train our nation's law enforcement and security agents.

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer whose writings were favored by Breivik
3- Law enforcement should use behavioral profiling and not religious or racial profiling. Racial or religious profiling would fail to prevent terrorists like Breivik because law enforcement agencies are not profiling all White, Christian, blond-haired and blue-eyed males, and rightly so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blaming Muslims - yet again (Aljazeera)

D. Parvaz
23 Jul 2011
Aljazeera

With at least 92 people dead and several injured, the brutality of Friday's attacks in Norway left the country reeling.

But who to blame for the bomb blast that tore through Oslo's government district and the shooting spree that left scores of teenagers dead at a youth summer camp in nearby Utoya?

Moments after the explosion that, as of Saturday night, left seven dead, pundits and analysts alike had assigned blame to al-Qaeda or an al-Qaeda-like group (a close approximation will do, one can suppose).

There were also reports of a group calling the Helpers of the Global Jihad either claiming responsibility for the attack or lending it support to whoever carried it out. The group retracted its rather vague statement on Saturday.

Norwegian police, meanwhile, concluded fairly early on that the attacks weren't the work of a foreign terrorist group. They have 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik in custody - he is believed to be the gunman who opened fire on the teenagers attending a youth camp organised by the Labour Party.

It's also been reported that Breivik bought six tonnes of fertiliser in May from a farm supply firm, which seems to take a page right out of another non-Muslim terrorist's handbook: Timothy McVeigh, who along with Terry Nichols, blew up the Alfred P Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 with a truckload of fertiliser, killing 168 and injuring 450.

Still, despite the initial lack of evidence shortly after the attack - and a growing stack of evidence pointing to the contrary later - some continued to look for a "jihadist" connection in the Norway attacks. Some looked for a link between the attacks and the anger that erupted after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

Local Muslims: 'Deep sorrow'

This hits the Muslim community in Norway in two different ways - first, their sense of security is threatened as much as any other Norwegian. On top of that, they are automatically blamed for arguably the darkest days in Norway's recent history.

The local Muslim community was quick to respond.

The Islamic Council of Norway immediately issued a statement of condemnation, saying that any attack on Norway was an attack on the homeland of its members, while imams and other Muslim community members visited with various Christian groups and church leaders in an effort to not only offer condolences, but to improve lines of communication.

"We are in deep sorrow with the Norwegian community," Muhammed Tayyib, the coordinator of The Islamic Cultural Centre Norway, told Al Jazeera.
A wry Tweet responding to Breivik's far-right connection

Tayyib said that even though most of the Muslim community are immigrants, that they are "part of the democratic system and support the freedom of expression. We are reacting [to the attacks] as Norwegians, not as outsiders".

Tayyib said that the mosque at the cultural centre, which is in the heart of Oslo and not far from the bomb blast, remained open to all on Saturday.

He said many non-Muslims had come in on Saturday to talk about the attacks or just to get to know the Muslim community better.

Rizwan Ahmad, the general secretary at the cultural centre, said that reports of backlash against Muslims in Oslo left the younger members of the cultural centre feeling vulnerable. Two women wearing hijabs, he said, were harassed on the street while a Pakistani man was beaten on a bus.

But Ahmad said that the Muslim community remains in solidarity with the greater Norwegian community.

"We don't say anything about (the attacker) being Muslim or not Muslim. It's still a tragedy," he said of the attacks.

Dleen Dhoski, coordinator of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Oslo in Blindern, said that the concern wasn't about who was to blame.

"Our main concern wasn't [whether] it was a specific group that performed this horrible action, but we were shocked and concerned about the wellbeing of those who got affected by the attack," said Dhoski, who said she felt that Norwegian media was fairly neutral in its reporting.

"And [we were] even more shocked that something like this could be happening in our safe homeland ... This was an attack on peace and democracy in Norway, so I don't believe it has an effect only on the Muslim communities, but the entire nation," said Dhoski.

She said the Muslim community was focused on helping those most affected: "So the main priority right now for us all is showing our support towards the victims, and just try to contribute as much we can to make sure that Norway stays as it always has been."

The group continues its public outreach, she said, attending debates and dialogues with non-Muslim groups while keeping an open line with the media.

Far-right connection

Of course, it wasn't just the pundits and security analysts who were looking no further than the Muslim world to blame for the attacks.

The far-right - which has shown itself to be focused on with blaming Muslims for all European ills - was doing the same. Notably, the Nordisk group (a nationalistic, anti-immigration activist group described as having "Nazi-like beliefs) was busy blaming Muslims for the attacks on its forum.

Posters complained that the "uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries" was to blame and that the attacks were "expected" and that, "terror will not decrease when the desert rats surge across Europe".

The group did not respond to an interview request on Saturday.

While Nordisk is certainly a somewhat fringe element, Norway, like many other European countires, where anti-immigrant groups have gained significant ground in recent elections, is swinging further to the right. Its Progress Party has been getting stronger, with some elements in the party seeking tougher immigration laws. In 2009, it called for the deportation of parents whose children wear the hijab to school.

The posters on the forum seemed unaware that Breivik is reportedly a member of their group. Norway's police confirmed that Breivik identified himself as a "Christian fundamentalist", while local media reported that he had posted anti-Muslim rhetoric online on several occasions.

Indeed, Breivik, it has been reported, was also rather taken with at least one member of the far right, Pamela Geller, a noted anti-Islam activist who fought against the construction of an Islamic community centre near the site of the former World Trade Center towers in New York.

Geller, who in May blogged that Muslims were responsible for "all rapes in the past five years" in Norway linked Friday's attacks to a "jihad".

Ali Esbati, an economist at the Manifest Center for Social Analysis, says the negative perception of Muslims in Europe has become a "convergence point" among right-wing groups, who spread the viewpoint of Muslims as an "occupying force and threat to Western society".

"The wider problem is that it's not even radical Islam that's seen as a threat - it's the idea that all of Islam or Muslims are a threat," said Esbati.

"So these (right-wing) radicals find a wider acceptance in mainstream politics."

He's not surprised by the knee-jerk response of Muslims being blamed for the attacks, as he says, discourse is not driven by facts or statistics. Rather, it is driven by perception - and right now, terrorism's face isn't of the radical right or of separatist groups in Europe (which, together, constitute the greatest terorrism threat to Europe) . This has lead to the proliferation of what Esbati calls fundamentally "racist" ideas towards Muslims.

"The tone in public discourse … has become much harsher, it's been a gradual process," said Esbati.

"It's the normalisation of ideas that were far more marginalised in the past."

The 'madman' angle

Still, the question remains: When what was targeted was a government building and a youth camp put on by a political party - one that calls for the recognition of a Palestinian state - why would a Muslim be a more likely suspect than, say, a far-right terrorist?

Essentially, the answer simply seems to be this: It's been nearly a decade since the September 11 attacks, which, it seems, have had the effect of making Muslims the terrorist fall-guy in the Western world.

"It was obvious that everyone would assume that it was a Muslim," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"All the Islamophobes on the internet jumped all over it."

He said that, even as of Saturday night, US media reports in the US were claiming "Islam this and al-Qaeda that."

But then, said Hooper, there's the "madman" angle, referring to the Norwegian official who said that the attacks were "not Islamic-terror related" and therefore "a madman's work."

"Unless it has been committed by a Muslim, it's not terrorism. If a non-Muslim commits an act of terrorism, they don't call him a terrorist. They say he was 'a madman,'" said Hooper.

Even though Breivik has been identified as a Christian, Hooper says he's sure his actions will not be affiliated with his faith - nor should they be. It's important, he says, to realise that an act of terrorism carried out by an individual, no matter what religion or creed, not be associated with the entire population following that faith.

This, of course, is not the case for Muslims in the current climate, and so Hooper says the focus should be on outreach. Muslims in Norway must continue to build coalitions and to work to "marginalise extremists of all faiths", he said.

"Everything always comes down to education."

Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S. (NY Times)

(Kudos to the New York Times (and Mr. Scott Shane) for its first-class and intelligent reporting on this topic. Another reason why you should subscribe to the newspaper)

By SCOTT SHANE
New York Times
7/25/2011

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them, as well as copying multiple passages from the tract of the Unabomber.

In the document he posted online, Anders Behring Breivik, who is accused of bombing government buildings and killing scores of young people at a Labor Party camp, showed that he had closely followed the acrimonious American debate over Islam.

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture...

In the United States, critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals. The author of a 2009 Department of Homeland Security report on right-wing extremism withdrawn by the department after criticism from conservatives repeated on Sunday his claim that the department had tilted too heavily toward the threat from Islamic militants...

The revelations about Mr. Breivik’s American influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting Mr. Spencer and other self-described “counterjihad” activists on the defensive, as their critics suggested that their portrayal of Islam as a threat to the West indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway...

Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”...

Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”...

In 2009, when the Department of Homeland Security produced a report, “Rightwing Extremism,” suggesting that the recession and the election of an African-American president might increase the threat from white supremacists, conservatives in Congress strongly objected. Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, quickly withdrew the report and apologized for what she said were its flaws.

Daryl Johnson, the Department of Homeland Security analyst who was the primary author of the report, said in an interview that after he left the department in 2010, the number of analysts assigned to non-Islamic militancy of all kinds was reduced to two from six. Mr. Johnson, who now runs a private research firm on the domestic terrorist threat, DTAnalytics, said about 30 analysts worked on Islamic radicalism when he was there.

The killings in Norway “could easily happen here,” he said. The Hutaree, an extremist Christian militia in Michigan accused last year of plotting to kill police officers and planting bombs at their funerals, had an arsenal of weapons larger than all the Muslim plotters charged in the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks combined, he said...

John D. Cohen, principal deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security, said Ms. Napolitano, who visited Oklahoma City last year for the 15th anniversary of the bombing there, had often spoken of the need to assess the risk of violence without regard to politics or religion.

“What happened in Norway,” Mr. Cohen said, “is a dramatic reminder that in trying to prevent attacks, we cannot focus on a single ideology.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rep. Mike Honda: Muslim hearings recall my life in internment camp

Read the commentary below and you will understand why Rep. Honda has been one of my favorite members of Congress. When it comes to civil rights, he gets it, he feels it, and he does something about it.  What an inspiring leader.

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(CNN) -- Who would have thought that my early childhood experience in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II would offer such useful insight, 65 years later, in determining the direction America is headed? In reflecting on this week's second round of Muslim radicalization hearings, planned by New York Rep. Peter King, I feel as if a mirror is being held up to my life, giving value to lessons learned as a child.

Make no mistake. Growing up in internment Camp Amache in Colorado was no joy ride -- just look at the pictures. We were treated like cattle in those camps. Never mind that we were born in America. Never mind that we were patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that we were constructively contributing to the American economy. Despite all this, hundreds of thousands of Americans suddenly became the enemy at the height of the war, with no cause, no crime, and no constitutional protection.

We look back, as a nation, and we know this was wrong. We look back and know that this was a result of "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership." We look back and know that an entire ethnicity was said to be, and ultimately considered, the enemy. We know that internment happened because few in Washington were brave enough to say "no."

We know all this, and yet our country is now, within my lifetime, repeating the same mistakes from our past. The interned 4-year-old in me is crying out for a course correction so that we do not do to others what we did unjustly to countless Japanese-Americans.

This time, instead of creating an ethnic enemy, Rep. King is creating a religious enemy. Because of prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of Republican leadership, King is targeting the entire Muslim-American community. Similar to my experience, they are become increasingly marginalized and isolated by our policies.

Never mind that many were born in America and have no allegiance to their ancestors' native homeland. Never mind that they are patriotic Americans and law-abiding citizens. Never mind that they are constructively contributing to the American economy. Regardless of all this, millions of Americans have become the new enemy, with no cause and no crime.

There is no question that a congressional hearing, which targets an entire religion, is morally and strategically wrong-headed. First, it is un-American. This is not the America that I know and have helped build as a lifelong public servant. The America that I know has always provided refuge for those fleeing persecution, from early settlers to recent refugees. The America that I know does not hate and discriminate based on race, religion or creed.

Second, it is counterproductive. King is undermining his own objective. In hosting these hearings, King, as chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has declared, erroneously, that the Muslim-American community does not partner actively enough to prevent acts of violence -- or in the case of prisons, extremism. Despite the offensive and fallacious nature of King's concern, given extensive evidence that contradicts his claim, the Homeland Security chairman's strategy makes future partnerships unpalatable.

In one fell swoop of his discriminatory brush, King, in his apparent attempt to root out radicalization, marginalizes an entire American minority group, making enemies of them all. To add insult to injury, King has quipped (again, speciously) that America has too many mosques and that extremists run 80 percent of them. We can only hope that Rep. King does not completely undermine all the goodwill established across this country between Muslim Americans and law enforcement officials. You can be certain that few will want to work with King going forward.

Don't get me wrong. I support the Homeland Security Committee examining "radicalization" in this country, and in our prisons, provided it is a comprehensive review, not a discriminatory one that targets only one subgroup of America. I support the committee examining "violent extremism" in this country, including an examination of militias and the 30,000-plus gun-related deaths that happen each year. I support a committee chair that is keen to keep our homeland secure.

This is not the case with King. These hearings do little to keep our country secure and do plenty to increase prejudice, discrimination and hate. I thought we learned a lesson or two from my internment camp experience in Colorado. I hope I am not proven wrong.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Fellow American

Here is a good project that is worthy of your attention.


My Fellow American

My Fellow American is an online film and social media project that calls upon concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. It asks people of other backgrounds to pledge, and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. Using the power of social media, My Fellow American seeks to change the narrative – from Muslims as the other, to Muslims as our fellow Americans.

Most Americans have never met an American Muslim. Many only know Muslims through the way they are portrayed in the media. American Muslims are so often vilified as “the other” that it is possible not to recognize that most were born in the U.S. Or that those who immigrated here came seeking the same freedoms and opportunities that have always attracted people to America.

Muslims are our fellow Americans, who today face threats to their civil rights and even their personal safety because of the fearful and often hateful rhetoric that would not be tolerated were it uttered about any other minority group.


www.myfellowamerican.us