Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Muslim lawmaker: Herman Cain is a "bigot"

"Over the past few months, former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has carved out a place as the most prominent anti-Muslim figure in the GOP presidential field, and, arguably, the country.
First, earlier this year, he promised he would not hire any Muslims to be in his future cabinet, subsequently repeating various versions of that pledge. Then, on a trip to Tennessee last week, Cain came out against the construction of a mosque project there. On Fox News Sunday, he expanded that stance, endorsing the idea that any American community could bar construction of mosques.
To get a response to Cain's new comments, I spoke to Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is one of two Muslim members of Congress and who has emerged in recent years as a loud anti-anti-Muslim voice....
...Even though we're coming up on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, these comments from Cain and Gingrich, and the whole Park51 controversy last year seem to mark something new. Do you have any theories as to why all of this happening now?
There is an anti-Islam industry in the United States, and it's also active in Europe. The individuals who are associated with those movement are people like Pam Geller, and Robert Spencer. Stop the Islamization of America is a website/organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. There's a cast of characters. There's Frank Gaffney -- he is so outrageous he tried to expel [former Bush aide] Suhail Khan from the Conservative Political Action Conference for no reason other than he's a Muslim. So you have Muslim Republicans that are being attacked for their religion alone. So you have an organized hate group that is actively trying to manipulate fears, they go into local communities and whip up hatred. They have a whole movement around the country to ban Shariah law. They often market themselves as counterterrorism experts. They have been receiving honoraria from police departments and various law enforcement agencies, some from the federal government ...
America has a history of free expression, so I don't really mind that these people exist -- they should be allowed to exist. The thing that bothers me is that, they keep this up for a few years, and then -- catastrophic things have been known to happen. This country interned Japanese people. It's impossible to believe it could have happened, but it happened...." [Read Full Article]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Herman Cain Promotes Discriminating Against Muslims

Stand up to Herman Cain’s bigotry

It is time to stop giving Herman Cain’s unapologetic bigotry a free pass. The man and his poison need to be seen clearly and taken seriously.
Imagine the reaction if a major-party presidential candidate — one who, like Cain, shows actual support in the polls — said he “wouldn’t be comfortable” appointing a Jew to a Cabinet position. Imagine the outrage if this same candidate loudly supported a community’s efforts to block Mormons from building a house of worship....(Read Full Article)
...But Cain’s prejudice isn’t against Mormons or Jews, it’s against Muslims. Open religious prejudice is usually enough to disqualify a candidate for national office — but not, apparently, when the religion in question is Islam.
On Sunday, Cain took the position that any community in the nation has the right to prohibit Muslims from building a mosque. The sound you hear is the collective hum of the Founding Fathers whirring like turbines in their graves.
Freedom of religion is, of course, guaranteed by the Constitution. There’s no asterisk or footnote exempting Muslims from this protection. Cain says he knows this. Obviously, he doesn’t care....
...Let’s return to the real world for a moment and see how bogus this argument is. Presumably, Cain would include Roman Catholicism among the “traditional religions” that deserve constitutional protection. It happens that our legal system recognizes divorce, but the Catholic Church does not. This, by Cain’s logic, must constitute an attempt to impose “Vatican law” on an unsuspecting nation.
Similarly, Jewish congregations that observe kosher dietary laws must be part of a sinister plot to deprive America of its God-given bacon.
Wallace was admirably persistent in pressing Cain to either own up to his prejudice or take it back. “But couldn’t any community then say we don’t want a mosque in our community?” Wallace asked.
“They could say that,” Cain replied.
“So you’re saying any community, if they want to ban a mosque. . .,” Wallace began.
“Yes, they have the right to do that,” Cain said.
For the record, they don’t. For the record, there is no attempt to impose sharia law; Cain is taking arms against a threat that exists only in his own imagination. It makes as much sense to worry that the Amish will force us all to commute by horse and buggy.
This demonization of Muslims is not without precedent. In the early years of the 20th century, throughout the South, white racists used a similar “threat” — the notion of black men as sexual predators who threatened white women — to justify an elaborate legal framework of segregation and repression that endured for decades.
As Wallace pointed out, Cain is an African American who is old enough to remember Jim Crow segregation. “As someone who, I’m sure, faced prejudice growing up in the ’50s and the ’60s, how do you respond to those who say you are doing the same thing?”... (Read Full Article)

    Love will conquer irrational fear of Islam

    Keltner Locke, The Tennessean  

    Until about 20 years ago, I despised going to the dentist and, frankly, the dentist didn’t look forward to seeing me. My fear had turned me into the “patient from hell.”

    But after moving to Tennessee, I found a remarkably caring dentist. He helped me see that my fear did not match reality. No one was going to attack me with one of those excruciating dental drills I remembered from childhood.

    This compassionate dentist, who retired a few years ago, also taught me another moral lesson. In his waiting room, there was a framed piece of cloth, with words cautioning that we should not judge the weaver by a single thread. More than once, when I found myself judging someone based on a single act or tiny bit of evidence, I remembered that maxim.

    So, it shocked me greatly to read in The Tennessean that this wonderful man had become associated with a group that scares the daylights out of me, the anti-Muslim organization called ACT! for America. Fear — in my opinion, irrational fear — is prompting members of this group to draw lines dividing our country into “us” and “them.”

    In fact, the group has a third category: “Near enemy.” One ACT! member defined a “near enemy” as “anyone who thinks Islam has good points.”

    For me, this category has a familiar ring. At one time, racists applied an ugly epithet to any white person who sympathized with people of color. That slur reflected badly on the intelligence and judgment of the person uttering it, and so does the phrase “near enemy.”

    It appears that many members of ACT! profess to be Christians, as I do. Rather than debate with them about the merits of Islam, let me instead remind them that we Christians are supposed to follow the teachings of Jesus, who said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

    Dividing people into “us,” “them” and “near enemy” categories does not foster peace but sets the stage for hatred and harm. Let’s never forget that in Nazi Germany, ugly words came first, then rocks through windows, then concentration camps, then Zyklon B. If that chain of events had not begun with evil words vilifying Jews, I doubt that it would have culminated in the gas chambers. The Nazis first had to redefine the Jewish population as “them,” not “us,” to target them for death...(Read Full Article)

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Muslim-bashing playbook showing its age

    By Stephan Salisbury, CBS News

    (CBS News) During the 2010 midterm election campaign, virtually every hard-charging candidate on the far right took a moment to trash a Muslim, a mosque, or Islamic pieties. In the wake of those elections, with 85 new Republican House members and a surging Tea Party movement, the political virtues of anti-Muslim rhetoric as a means of rousing voters and alarming the general electorate have gone largely unchallenged. It has become an article of faith that a successful 2010 candidate on the right should treat Islam with revulsion, drawing a line between America the Beautiful and the destructive impurities of Islamic cultists and radicals.

    “Americans are learning what Europeans have known for years: Islam-bashing wins votes,” wrote journalist Michael Scott Moore in the wake of the 2010 election. His assumption was shared by many then and is still widely accepted today.

    But as the 2012 campaign ramps up along with the anti-Muslim rhetoric machine, a look back at 2010 turns out to offer quite an unexpected story about the American electorate. In fact, with rare exceptions, “Islam-bashing” proved a strikingly poor campaign tactic. In state after state, candidates who focused on illusory Muslim “threats,” tied ordinary American Muslims to terrorists and radicals, or characterized mosques as halls of triumph (and prayer in them as indoctrination) went down to defeat.

    Far from winning votes, it could be argued that “Muslim-bashing” alienated large swaths of the electorate -- even as it hardened an already hard core on the right.

    The fact is that many of the loudest anti-Muslim candidates lost, and for a number of those who won, victory came by the smallest of margins, often driven by forces that went well beyond anti-Muslim rhetoric. A careful look at 2010 election results indicates that Islamophobic talking points can gain attention for a candidate, but the constituency that can be swayed by them remains limited, although not insignificant... (Read Full Article)

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think

    Watch more free documentaries

    CNN: Fake "'Ex-terrorist' rakes in homeland security bucks"

    Rapid City, South Dakota (CNN) -- Walid Shoebat had a blunt message for the roughly 300 South Dakota police officers and sheriff's deputies who gathered to hear him warn about the dangers of Islamic radicalism.

    Terrorism and Islam are inseparable, he tells them. All U.S. mosques should be under scrutiny.

    "All Islamic organizations in America should be the No. 1 enemy. All of them," he says.

    It's a message Shoebat is selling based on his own background as a Palestinian-American convert to conservative Christianity. Born in the West Bank, the son of an American mother, he says he was a Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist in his youth who helped firebomb an Israeli bank in Bethlehem and spent time in an Israeli jail.

    That billing helps him land speaking engagements like a May event in Rapid City -- a forum put on by the state Office of Homeland Security, which paid Shoebat $5,000 for the appearance. He's a darling on the church and university lecture circuit, with his speeches, books and video sales bringing in $500,000-plus in 2009, according to tax records.

    "Being an ex-terrorist myself is to understand the mindset of a terrorist," Shoebat told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."

    But CNN reporters in the United States, Israel and the Palestinianterritories found no evidence that would support that biography. Neither Shoebat nor his business partner provided any proof of Shoebat's involvement in terrorism, despite repeated requests. (Read Full Story)

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear

    Bob Smietana, The Tennessean, October 24th 2010

    Steven Emerson has 3,390,000 reasons to fear Muslims.

    That's how many dollars Emerson's for-profit company - Washington-based SAE Productions - collected in 2008 for researching alleged ties between American Muslims and overseas terrorism. The payment came from the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation, a nonprofit charity Emerson also founded, which solicits money by telling donors they're in imminent danger from Muslims.

    Emerson is a leading member of a multimillion-dollar industry of self-proclaimed experts who spread hate toward Muslims in books and movies, on websites and through speaking appearances. [Read Full Article

    Islamic group leader battling prejudice

    By HOWARD ALTMAN | The Tampa Tribune 
     July 11, 2011

    At an age when most of his contemporaries are still trying to find themselves, 24-year-old Hassan Shibly has a life full of experiences he says have put him on a clear path.

    He came to this country at 4 from his native Syria, settling with his family near Buffalo, N.Y. He was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security while a political science major at the University of Buffalo, vacationed in Syria during the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006, studied law at the University of Buffalo and clerked for two judges.

    Now Shibly has a new challenge. On June 1, he took over as executive director of the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, founded in 1994 to "challenge stereotypes of Islam and Muslims," according to the group's website.

    Shibly, who leads the group from its offices on 56th Street in Temple Terrace, says his goal is to battle the fear of the unknown, which leads to "hatred, violence and discrimination."

    Shibly says his family left Damascus, where they had a "comfortable" life, because his father, a periodontist, "would not carry the … line" for the ruling Ba'athist party.

    A temporary position at the University of Buffalo became permanent for Shibly's father. The family settled in and Shibly attended public school, then enrolled in the University of Buffalo, where he majored in politics before obtaining his law degree there.

    Those who knew Shibly back then describe a bright, highly motivated student who was eager to engage in interfaith discussions, stood up for the rights of Muslims, wasn't afraid to stand by his beliefs and enjoyed a good debate without getting contentious.

    "Hassan is brilliant, courteous, eager to promote understanding," says Charles Lamb, a former assistant minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, N.Y. "He and I were able to develop trust to the point that we could be blunt, almost offensive, but totally frank without animosity or harm to our relationship."

    Tilman Lanz, who teaches courses in Islam at the University of Buffalo, says he met Shibly when he first arrived to teach in 2005.

    "He was the most brilliant undergraduate student I ever had," says Lanz. "He was a very vocal person, very good in arguing, very good in making his point."

    It was about that time in Buffalo that Shibly turned to activism and the controversy that comes with it...

    Read the rest: Islamic group leader battling prejudice or New CAIR leader draws starkly different reactions:
    Read my clarification of the statements I have been quoted as saying.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Sharia law no threat to the U.S.

    Michigan, like all other states, is governed by the U.S. Constitution and its state constitution, which makes the idea of “creeping Sharia” a straw man argument that pundits and 2012 presidential hopefuls use to rabble rouse among voters.

    Some have pointed to the recent controversies in Dearborn as proof of this trend: The arrest of a few Christian missionaries at a Dearborn festival for allegedly disturbing the peace last year and the latest Terry Jones episode. Jones, like the Act 17 Apologetics protesters, were arrested for allegedly breaching Michigan laws, not Islamic law.

    Even if they felt wrongly accused, our legal system has mechanisms for rectifying this. Nonetheless, a growing number of states have gone so far as to propose a ban on the use of Sharia in state courts. This idea of “creeping Sharia” is really just a campaign of fear mongering.

    The American public should be made aware of several things: First, for Muslims, the Sharia is the word for God’s own idea of how humans should conduct themselves. Living according to the Sharia is to follow certain guidelines of properly maintaining one’s relationships with God and with other people... (Read Full Article)

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 94% that Aren’t

    Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

    Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database
    "CNN recently published an article entitled Study: Threat of Muslim-American terrorism in U.S. exaggerated; according to a study released by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “the terrorist threat posed by radicalized Muslim-Americans has been exaggerated.”
    Yet, Americans continue to live in mortal fear of radical Islam, a fear propagated and inflamed by right wing Islamophobes.  If one follows the cable news networks, it seems as if all terrorists are Muslims.  It has even become axiomatic in some circles to chant: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but nearly all terrorists are Muslims.” Muslims and their “leftist dhimmi allies” respond feebly, mentioning Waco as the one counter example, unwittingly affirming the belief that “nearly all terrorists are Muslims.”
    But perception is not reality.  The data simply does not support such a hasty conclusion.  On the FBI’s official website, there exists a chronological list of all terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil from the year 1980 all the way to 2005.  That list can be accessed here (scroll down all the way to the bottom)."

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Can't Please the Haters: The Catch-22 of Condemning Terrorism.

    Despite having a track record of condemning terrorism and violence, Muslims are often accused of not doing enough to condemn such acts. When Muslims do condemn such acts, it creates a catch-22.

    The comments posted in response today's article I wrote unequivocally condemning terrorism and explaining how terrorism goes against the Islamic sacred text and teachings  are a clear example of this.

    Many of the responses I received were along the lines, "Well then why are so many terrorists Muslims"..."There is something inherently wrong with Islam and that is a fact" and other hateful comments. Why? Because they take the acts of a few and blame it on an entire faith and people.

    At that point what response is there but to offer the overwhelming data and evidence based on quantitative political science studies that show:
    1. Terrorists are not motivated by religion.
    2. Terrorism is often the result of war and occupation not religious differences.
    3. Violent and Terrorist acts are committed by people of all faiths and cultures
    4. Muslims are no more violent as a whole than any other group.
    5. Most terrorist attacks have not even been committed by Muslims.
    But then when we make the above points, those that hate Islam then falsely claim we are "justifying" terrorism or sympathizing with terrorists. There is no way to win with these people absent condemning an entire faith for the acts of a few criminals.

    So here is the bottom line:
    1. The Islamic text is absolutely against murder or terrorism against people of any faith.
    2. Terrorism is never acceptable or justifiable.
    3. If you respond to me by saying "well why have Muslims committed terrorism & why are so many terrorists Muslim," I will respond showing you evidence that terrorism is not the result of religion, but of political grievances (which none nonetheless do not justify the terrorist acts) and that statistically Muslims are not more prone to terrorism or other crimes than people of any faith [and thus you can't blame the faith] and stereotyping is wrong and ignorant.  Me saying that in no way justifies or sympathizes with terrorism. My argument still stands that Islam and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are against terrorism and those that twist the faith to justify their actions are no different than criminals of any other faith that do the same.
    As a helpful example, Jesus (peace be upon him) did not allow people to kill abortion doctors or blow up abortion clinics. The fact that a Christian extremest has done so, does not mean the teachings of Jesus approve it. 

    Again to be absolutely clear,
    1. Islam is against terrorism.
    2. The amount of Muslims engaged in terror are no more than people of other faiths
    3. Those Muslims that do commit terrorist acts are not doing so because of their faith but their political ideologies and do not represent the faith.
    4. The acts are not justifiable, nonetheless. 
    5. Understanding the true causes of terrorism, and that religion is not the problem, is not in anyway justifying or condoning such terrible acts. 
    Unfortunately, it is not enough for me simply to say that Islam is against terrorism, period, and stop there. Because the haters will then point out the acts of terror committed by some terrorists who were Muslim. That is why we must also explain that their acts were not done because of Islam.

    As a student of political science and a law graduate, when I explain the causes of terrorism it is in no way to justify it, but only to explain that it is not caused by my faith.

    Another valid response is to point out the terrible crimes done by people of other faiths- like the Inquisition, Enslavement of Africa, Which Hunts, etc. done by people of the Christian faith- and say, hey, just like we don't consider Christianity evil for the many crimes committed in its name, we should not say that about Islam either. The point in saying that is in no way to detract Christianity, but point out the fallacy in the argument that Islam is evil because some Muslims committed wrong. 

    Islam Has No Room For Terrorism


    There are two groups promoting the concept that Islam is tolerant of terrorism. The first is those wishing to hijack Islam for their political purposes and have distorted and misquoted religious text to justify their abhorrent actions. The second are those who wish to spread fear and hatred of Muslims to suit their political or economic agendas, and similarly distort and misquote religious text to claim that Islam condones such abhorrent actions.

    However, mainstream traditional Muslims are and always have been very vocal in condemning both such extremist groups.

    There is no room for terrorism in Islam. One does not need a religious text to know such acts are reprehensible; nonetheless, the Islamic tradition is clear that there is no room for terrorism. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) expressly forbade aggression and the killing of women and children and unarmed men in combat. Maulana Abdul Shakoor writes in his book, "A Brief Account of the Prophet's Life": (Click Here to Read Full Article)

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Tampa Tribune: CAIR's Tampa Chapter Has New Director


    TAMPA --Hassan Shibly immigrated from Syria to the United States at age 4 with is mother, an orthodontist, and his father, a periodontist.

    As a youngster growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., he remembers how proud he was to live in a country that professed freedom of religion and speech.

    "When growing up I was the only Muslim in my class and I was challenged a lot," Shibly said. "But that built a desire in me to accurately identify and justify my faith."

    It was the fire that fueled him to major in political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the impetus behind his graduating in May near the top of his class from the University of Buffalo Law School.

    "I've always been interested in law and justice and even as a child was always an advocate of civil rights," said Shibly, 24, who during law school interned with the New York Civil Liberties Union and at the Council on American-Islamic Relations headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    His passion for justice for Muslim Americans, his law studies and field experience are the reason the Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations recently appointed Shibly as the new executive director of the Tampa chapter of CAIR.

    The nonprofit organization's mission is to enhance the understanding of the Islamic religion, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justices and mutual understanding.

    Shibly intends to do just that by...(Read Rest at Tampa Tribune)