Monday, January 30, 2012

Students & Media Disgusted by Caton's Attack Against Muslim Speaker

No brainwashing exercise
In regards to "Board chided about Islam" (Metro, Jan. 25): I am a student in Dr. Kelly Miliziano's AP World History class at Steinbrenner High School. I attended Hassan Shibly's presentation on Islam and found it perfectly appropriate, as it tied into our study of the post-classical era. I don't feel like I was being converted and certainly don't feel I was being "brainwashed."
I'm not sure if this so-called Florida Family Association is serious or just really stupid. It turns out this fundamentalist organization has a messy history of anti-Islamic messages. David Caton, founder and president of the FFA, goes as far to say, "Folks, we are watching Islamization of America in action."
Here's the problem: Caton can't get it through his thick skull that Shibly doesn't have the intention of converting or brainwashing us. Now, apparently, Caton wants to send some of his followers to spew a counterargument to Islam. Ridiculous. There's a fine line between preaching and teaching. If ignorance is bliss, then Caton must be the happiest man in the world.
Daniel Krasnove

In Hillsborough, a voice of reason in defense of learning world's religions

By Sue Carlton, Times Columnist
In Print: Friday, January 27, 2012 [ Full Article]
School board meetings tend to be dull if necessary affairs, filled with proclamations, test score talk and the latest lineup of principals. (Stifle yawn here.)
But at a meeting of the Hillsborough County School Board this week came a Serious Moment of Truth out of an elected official who spoke up for education and showing kids what's out there in the world. You could even say she rose up righteous.
As is tradition around here, the controversy du jour was ignited by fear and misinformation and the flames fanned by our own in-house cast of moral crusaders. You know, the ones who have a direct line Upstairs. Just ask them...[ Continue Reading Full Article]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Interview With Hassan Shibly: Islamophobia


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Florida Says No to Islamophobia

School officials stand up to intolerant bullies
Tampa Bay Times | Editorial | In Print Today January 26 [Original Article]  

School yard bullying can take many forms. So Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia and School Board chairwoman Candy Olson are to be commended for standing up to the forces of bigotry and ignorance. The pair on Tuesday rightly defended Steinbrenner High School history teacher Kelly Miliziano, who recently invited a Muslim speaker to her classroom, much to the narrow-minded consternation of local political gadflies, conservative activist Terry Kemple and David Caton, executive director of the Florida Family Association.
Miliziano asked Hassan Shibly from the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak to her class on world religions. Representatives of other faiths also have given presentations to the class. But Kemple and Caton ham-handedly equated Shibly's appearance with supporting terrorism. Their absurd complaint suggested that students in a college-level, Advanced Placement class on world religions would not benefit from a visit by a Muslim, whose faith is shared with nearly one out of every four people worldwide.
Facing down a vocal but ill-informed crowd at the School Board meeting, Elia and Olson aggressively defended Miliziano, stressing the educational importance of exposing students to various cultures and religious beliefs. Elia and Olson have more faith in Hillsborough County students to think for themselves than do the disciples of intolerance and demagoguery.
See Also:

Stuff The FBI Says (Funny)

Not a fan of the profanity in the title...its following the current "S*** X says" thats going on YouTube...nonetheless it was funny, entertaining, and educational.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Interview with Hassan Shibly: David Caton & Islamophobia

Part 2:                                                                     

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Federal court deals blow to anti-Shariah efforts

In a decision that Muslim legal advocates celebrated as a major win, a federal appeals court on Tuesday agreed with a lower court that blocked an Oklahoma law that would have barred state courts from considering or using Shariah law — the Islamic code of conduct.
The law would likely dampen similar legislation proposed in at least 20 U.S. states over the last couple of years, said Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University.
The decision “should have a good, positive, desirable chilling effect,” said Feldman. “It should tell people in those jurisdictions that (similar laws) almost all will be judged unconstitutional.”
In the November 2010 election, Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly for referendum SQ 755 — described by its author, Rep. Rex Duncan, as “a preemptive strike against Sharia Law coming to Oklahoma.”
The amendment stated that: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law."
Muslim challenged law
A lawsuit filed two days after the election by Oklahoma resident Muneer Awad, a Muslim, charged that the law violated his First Amendment rights. In addition to stigmatizing him and other Muslims, Awad argued, the amendment would invalidate his last will and testament, which made reference to Islamic writings.
A federal judge in Oklahoma agreed that the amendment was most likely unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction preventing its implementation until a final determination could be made.
On Tuesday, a judge for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., agreed with the lower court and upheld the injunction — rejecting an appeal by the state of Oklahoma.
“Because the amendment discriminates among religions, it is 'suspect,'" the higher court ruled, "and 'we apply strict scrutiny in adjudging its constitutionality...’”
Problem doesn't exist, lawyer saysAlthough Islam’s detractors suggest that “creeping sharia,” left unchecked, will undermine U.S. freedoms, Feldman says that these laws play on fears of a problem that does not exist...
“The Constitution of the United States, and the constitution of every state -- that is 51 constitutions -- already make it illegal to implement Islamic law,” said Feldman. “Just as Jewish law can’t be the law of the United States, and canon law can’t be the law of the United States, shariah law can’t be the law of the United States.”
“It’s like a law that says we absolutely ban alligators on the South Pole,” he said...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tampa Rejects David Caton's Islamophobia

David Caton: A biblical bully who just needs to shut up
Daniel Ruth | Tampa Bay Times | In Print:  January 15, 2012 | [Full Article]

Perhaps the best way to get your hands around this latest example of theo-thugs gone wild is to think of local sanctimonious mouth foamer David Caton as the North Korea of faux piety.
For whenever Caton feels he's fallen off the publicity-hound radar and isn't being paid enough attention, the vicar of vituperativeness feels compelled to engage in some really daffy behavior as if to reassure the world he's just as loopy as ever...[Full Article]
...Now, fresh off his Florida Family Association campaign to make Lowe's look like corporate America's answer to a cowering puppy that just piddled on the kitchen floor, Caton, the Ernst Blofeld of the Bible, has set his myopic sights on Kelly Miliziano, a history teacher at Steinbrenner High School, who committed the unpardonable, unforgiveable sin of (dare it be said) educating her students.
For several years Miliziano has invited speakers representing various faiths to meet with her classes. The idea here is to expose students to a range of ideas and beliefs, which in the end will serve to make them better informed, discerning, well-rounded, independent-thinking, educated members of society.
Miliziano obviously posed a threat to Caton's recruitment efforts. After all, if these kids learn stuff, well, the next thing you know, they'll figure out obtuse gasbags like Caton are full of hooey. And that's bad for the bigotry business, which needs a steady stream of lemmings to keep the flames of malevolence burning.
So when Caton found out Miliziano had invited Hassan Shibly from the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak to her class about Muslim stereotypes, human rights and the role of women in Islam, the ayatollah of intolerance [Caton] when into a full DEFCON1 liturgical lather....[Full Article]
...The Florida Family Association is a cabal of one squirrelly little biblical bully, armed only with an email list of like/narrow-minded self-righteous fellow travelers who wouldn't know the meaning of faith, hope and charity if they tripped over it.
David Caton is a plague of boils on the community's spiritual life. Enough.
Perhaps a giant sign erected in front of the FFA bunker imploring Caton to: "Please, for God's sake will you just SHUT UP!" would be in order....


Tampa Bay Times

Betrayal of Islamic ideals

As a Muslim American, I am saddened to hear the news of the arrest of Sami Osmakac, who was accused plotting terrorist attacks in Tampa. What makes me sad is not his arrest, but him attributing his acts to Islam. In a video, he claimed that Muslim blood is more valuable than that of people who do not believe in Islam.

He should deeply reflect on Koran, which while promoting the sanctity of life - "whosoever killed a person, it shall be if he had killed the entire mankind; and whoso saved a life, it shall be if he had saved the entire mankind" - does not differentiate between Muslim and non-Muslim blood.

He has not only been disloyal to his country, but with the charge that he planned to act against the Koranic instruction to Muslims not to create disorder in the Earth, he has also been disloyal to his faith.

-Nasir Ahmad, M.D., Tinton Falls, N.J.

Rabble-rouser, not leader

...Caton is not representative of any mainstream constituency. Rather, he actively attempts to spread suspicion, hatred and prejudice through his misnamed Florida Family Association.

His most recent antics - opposing the All-American Muslim TV show for its lack of terrorist characters, and his current rabble-rousing over a religious leader visiting a classroom - are part of his ongoing war of words against Muslims. His sensationalist campaigns have spread hate toward a variety of targets including gays, Muslims and others over the years.

He doesn't stand for anything other than the destruction of those he attacks.

Neither the Hillsborough County School Board, the newspaper nor the administration of Steinbrenner High School should consider the opinion of Caton or his followers to be at issue in their decision making.
 -Amie Devero, Tampa

Teacher should be praised

As a teacher in Hillsborough County, I fully support Kelly Miliziano's choice of a Muslim guest speaker. I am both horrified and angry to see that David Caton's group is trying to spread their bigotry by emailing the school committee.

It may be worth noting that as a Jewish teacher, I find it refreshing that there is a teacher who tried to educate her students about a widely misunderstood religion and culture. Miliziano should be praised rather than vilified.
Caton's group has previously attacked gay rights activists and any other group that dares cross his line of what he finds "morally correct." Caton needs to learn that McCarthyism died in the mid 1950s - we don't need a newer version of the thought police, thank you. I can tell you that my own students are very good at thinking for themselves.

-Ronald Medvni, Tampa

Public 'Liberty' Rally Invites Anti-Muslim Speaker

Michael Van Sickler | Tampa Bay Times | In Print: January 15, 2012 | [Full Article]
It's an event with a name that sounds inclusive enough: "Liberty & Justice for All: A Rally for America's Future." 
Scheduled for Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. at North Straub Park at 400 Bayshore Drive NE, it's organized by neurosurgeon David McKalip, a tea party activist who plans to run for City Council next year.

McKalip is spending $5,000 to hold the event, which he said is independent from the tea party and is not meant to serve as a platform for his council run.

While McKalip has infused the rally with a healthy dose of religion, specifically the Christian variety, he said everyone is invited...

...Hassan Shibly, [CAIR Tampa's] executive director, doesn't think the event is meant to unify. He points to Richard Swier, a religious leader who was invited to speak....

...Swier wrote "we are not fighting a war on terror or Al Qaeda. Rather we are fighting a protracted war against shariah Islam."

Shibly called Swier's views libelous and defamatory and said they had no place at a so-called unity rally.

"If they want to hold a rally, they have every right to do that," Shibly said. "But it's very irresponsible to invite speakers who are promoting bigotry and religious hatred...."

... But Shibly said it's hard to believe the event welcomes everyone if a speaker like Swier is featured.

"We're not going to protest it," Shibly said. "It's more of an issue of responsibility. They are alienating and making enemies of a substantial part of the Florida community. It's un-American. Our goal right now is to work together as Americans, and I don't think it's productive if you have speakers who don't believe in the freedom of religion and tolerance."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tea Party Speaker & Caton's Florida Family Association Partner Says She 'Loves' Marines Who Desecrated Corpses

(TAMPA, FL 1/12/12) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned remarks by Pamela Geller, the leader of an anti-Muslim hate group and a frequent speaker at Tea Party events, applauding the alleged desecration of Afghan corpses by U.S. Marines.

On her hate blog, Geller wrote in response to CAIR's condemnation of the desecration: "I love these Marines. Perhaps this is the infidel interpretation of the Islamic ritual of washing and preparing the body for burial."

While Geller praised the desecration video, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called it "utterly deplorable." CAIR yesterday expressed concern that enemies of the United States will use the video to further their anti-American goals.
Hate-filled comments on Geller's post included:
"I've never been prouder to be an American!"
"My heroes!! Best video I've seen in awhile :)"
"Nicest movie I've seen in years."
"These sick mutts need to be urinated on. Defecated on too."
"Have you burned a Koran today. All around the campfire. Burn, baby, burn."
"The marines should have dumped the bodies in PIG BLOOD; soaked those bodies, in PIG BLOOD."
"Looked to me as though the marines were showing respect. They had their heads bowed and observed silence while rinsing off the corpses."
Desecration by urination is a favorite Geller theme. She has posted images on her blog that include a fake photo of President Obama urinating on an American flag.

Another image posted by Geller, headlined "Piss Be Upon Him," showed one of the controversial Danish cartoons of the prophet covered in urine. ("Piss Be Upon Him" is designed to mock the traditional phrase "Peace Be Upon Him" that Muslims use when mentioning any prophet of God, including Abraham and Jesus.)

Earlier this year, CAIR thanked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Rick Scott for declining to speak at a Florida Tea Party convention that featured a presentation by Geller and another Islamophobe. Two hotels, one in Texas and another in Tennessee, dropped scheduled Tea Party and anti-Muslim events that featured Geller as a speaker.

Geller is co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and author of a new book offering step-by-step instructions on how to stop mosque construction in American communities. The SPLC named Geller as a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."

Geller has bragged that she uses a Quran, Islam's holy text, as a doorstop. She claims that "Hitler and the Nazis were inspired by Islam" and that Islam "mandates" lies and deception. In a 2010 blog entry, Geller posted a video claiming that Muslims engage in bestiality. Her hate blog was cited frequently by the terrorist who went on a killing spree last year in Norway.

According to Geller, Muslim groups "control information and how it is processed at senior levels of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the various branches of the military."

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Florida Family Association Getting Desperate?

As a policy, I generally avoid answering back against the false accusations of hate groups. They are simply not credible and not worth my time.

Today I just found it silly how far David Caton's Florida Family Association will go to lie and how desperate they may be getting.  For kicks, I thought I would point out just one of their lies as an example.

The FFA website says: "Shibly opposed government detention of suspected terrorists." That is crazy...I never opposed government detention of suspected terrorists. What I opposed was the indefinite detention of American Citizens without trial or due process of law. Who wouldn't?

I could similarly point out each and every lie made against me by the FFA but I have better things to do with my time, this example should be good enough to show their lack of credibility on everything else.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Muslims Help Keep America Safe

Video: Fla. Plot Suspect Arrested with Help of Muslim Community (CAIR)
Muslims' Key Role in Snagging Terror Suspect
Tampa Bay Times Editorial | January 11 2012 | [Full Editorial]

It was the Muslim community that helped the FBI snag terror suspect Sami Osmakac, the man accused of planning to bomb public buildings in the Tampa Bay area. That should not be forgotten as this case unfolds. Too often the threats of an extremist are extended to the broader Muslim community, which can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Just look at the objections to the Muslim leader who was invited to speak at a Hillsborough high school history class. Osmakac's case is a reminder that the Muslim community often partners with law enforcement, identifying dangerous extremists. The nation would be less safe without that help....

...It is these efforts by the larger Muslim community to subdue Osmakac and alert authorities that should stick in the mind when his name gets mentioned. That would help to prevent another distasteful incident like the one at Steinbrenner High School in Hillsborough County.

After history teacher Kelly Miliziano invited Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to speak to her class about stereotypes, human rights and other topics, an objection was raised. David Caton of the Florida Family Association, a one-man force of anti-Muslim bigotry, wants the Hillsborough County School Board to end visits by Shibly. Recently Caton launched a campaign against the reality television series All-American Muslim that resulted in some advertisers dropping the show. His anti-Muslim views are well-known and should be disregarded, which appears to be what the Hillsborough School Board intends to do.

The Osmakac case will bring out the fearmongers like Caton who will use it to spread venomous claims about all Muslims. But what it really demonstrates is that all Americans face the threat of terrorism together and will defeat it together, too.

CAIR chief says criticism rooted in misconceptions
Linday Peterson | Tampa Tribune | January 11 2012 | [Full Article]

The head of a local Muslim organization, Hassan Shibly, found himself fielding questions about two radically different events Tuesday.

On Monday, with the aid of Shibly and local Muslims, the FBI arrested a local man suspected of terrorism.

Later that day, Shibly and the Hillsborough County school district came under fire from David Caton and his American Family Association for a high school program on Islam.

Shibly, head of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations, argues that the two events aren't so different. He says they both stem from the idea that Islam can't be part of a democratic society.
The man arrested Monday, Sami Osmakac, had reproached local Muslims, saying they were infidels because they didn't condemn democracy, Shibly said...

..."Ignorance leads to fear, which leads to hatred, which leads to violence," he said. He blames ignorance for the Osmakac episode.

Osmakac, 25, of Pinellas Park, alarmed Tampa Muslims with his extremist, separatist views, Shibly said. He fought with members. "He called us infidels because we weren't anti-American."

He was banned from two local mosques, and Shibly and others began advising fearful members to report their concerns about him to law enforcement.

On Monday, federal agents arrested Osmakac on charges of planning terrorist attacks in Tampa.
Shibly called Osmakac a "lone wolf," angry and misguided, like a lot of violent people. He fears the damage people like Osmakac do to Islam.

"My kids are going to grow up here. We don't want to grow up in an environment where people hate or fear them because of their religion. But Osmakac promotes the stereotype they have of Islam."

Feds: Man Planned Terrorist Attack in Tampa
The Tampa Tribune | Elaine Silverstein | [Full Article]

...O'Neill and Tampa's FBI chief, Steven E. Ibison, met with local Muslim leaders this morning to discuss the arrest, according to Hassan Shibly, executive director of the local office of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Authorities wanted to thank the Muslim community for its help and assured it that Osmakac was considered a "lone wolf," Shibly said.

Shibly said Osmakac was banned from two local mosques, and local Muslims were so concerned about his extremist views that they reported him to law enforcement. His views were so extreme, Shibly said, that there were fears he might be mentally unbalanced.

Osmakac "had absolutely no support in the local Muslim community," Shibly said.

If the allegations are true, Shibly said, he wanted to thank the FBI for preventing a violent attack. However, he also cautioned that he wanted to make sure the plan was something initiated by  Osmakac and not something urged on by law enforcement to make an arrest.

"If he was instigated by the government, we're going to be very concerned about that," Shibly said.

Plot Highlights Extremist Views
Fox 13 Tampa Bay | [Full Article]

... CAIR executive director Hassan Shibly says preventing religious extremism is possible.
"Maybe we can work towards having a program where we can stop radicalization early on and work with law enforcement and the community to educate our youth," said Shibly. "I think the problem with this kid is that he was disturbed and he had no understanding of the Muslim faith."

Investigators describe Osmakac as a self-radicalized "lone wolf," meaning he was acting alone...

...International relations and military expert Colonel Mike Pheneger says religious radicalism usually has little to do with religion at all.

"There are a lot of terrorists who basically get a particular point of view in their religion that's very radical and out of the mainstream, and they find something in that view that resonates with whatever is going on with them personally," Pheneger said.

"I don't think anyone who truly loves religion or loves God is going to ever imagine of killing innocent men, women, and children," Shibly added.

The problem of religious radicalism is not unique to Islam.

"All religions, except possibly the Buddhists, have a fringe that basically can be manipulated," said Pheneger. "And there have been extreme Christians that have gotten involved in this sort of thing, and extreme Muslims."

Osmakac claimed to be the only good Muslim.  

Muslims Assist Authorities  
 Tamara Lush | Associated Press

...The area's Muslim community helped provide authorities with information, said Steve Ibison, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Tampa division.

"This case is not about the Muslim religion and it's not about the Muslim community," Ibison said. "It's about an individual who committed a crime."

Hassan Shibly, a Tampa attorney and the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met Osmakac briefly over the summer. Osmakac was "ranting" about how CAIR was an "infidel organization," Shibly said.

"It was very clear he was very disturbed very angry and very misguided about the Islamic faith," said Shibly, adding that Osmakac did not appear to be a member of any of the area's mosques and had "disassociated himself" from those houses of worship. "He was very, very ignorant of Islam. He didn't know Arabic or anything about basic Islamic teachings about promoting peace."

Shibly said the CAIR office received calls from people in the Islamic community who were concerned about Osmakac's extreme views.

"Contact the authorities as soon as possible," Shibly said he told those people.
Suspect Too Radical For Muslim Community
The Tampa Tribune | [Read Full Article]

 ...Osmakac showed no respect to religious elders, who tried to steer him away from his extremist beliefs, community leaders said.
He repeatedly threatened one civil activist for encouraging Muslims to vote and promoting democracy....
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa office of CAIR, said Osmakac was banned from at least two Tampa mosques because of his extremist views. Shibly said he met Osmakac last summer outside a local mosque, where he was arguing with one of the elders.

Shibly said he stepped in because the elder appeared to be having a hard time and Shibly thought he could help calm the situation. When Shibly asked Osmakac which mosque he attends, Osmakac said he didn't go to any mosques because, "they're all infidels and because they allow organizations like CAIR to have a presence."

"At that point, I was really taken back," Shibly said. "Who is this young kid calling people infidels and giving people edicts and thinks he's right and everybody's wrong? The prophet Mohamed said, 'Whoever calls his brother an infidel is himself an infidel.'"

Osmakac "had no understanding about anything of Islam," Shibly said. "I asked him some very basic questions about Islam and he could not answer any of them. He was very clearly misguided."

Bedier agreed with Shibly, saying that Osmakac's understanding of Islam is "very shallow" and that he believes that Osmakac picked up his extremists beliefs "from the Internet."

Muslim Community Thanked for its Help in The Case
 Bay News 9
...Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Tampa, said he met with the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office. He said they wanted to thank the Muslim community for their help on the case.
"Sami Osmakac was against the Muslim community as much as he was against everyone else," Shibly said. "He had been banned from several mosques in the area. He had extremist views. CAIR has always encouraged people to report anyone with violent or extremist views...."