Friday, January 25, 2013

This Leadership in Tallahassee must stand against intolerance

By David Barkey | Special To the Tribune | January 25, 2013 | [Original Article]

Over the past two legislative sessions, the Florida House and Senate wasted precious taxpayer dollars hearing harmful and unnecessary anti-Sharia legislation. Indeed, it came perilously close to passage in 2012 — passing the House and ultimately dying awaiting a final vote in the Senate.

So no Floridian should be surprised that an anti-Sharia bill was once again filed for the 2013 session. The real uncertainty is whether Tallahassee leadership will finally stand up to this intolerance, or again give into it and, in the process, waste valuable taxpayer dollars.

The neutrally titled and worded "Application of Foreign Law" bill, which applies to family law provisions, is nothing more than camouflaged bigotry. It is based on model language drafted by a controversial attorney, David Yerushalmi, who has a record of espousing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and racist views.

This legislation is a classic example of the proverbial "solution in search of a problem." Its supposed purpose is to counter the infiltration of our judicial and legal system by Sharia (Islamic) law. But for the past two legislative sessions, proponents have failed to cite even one Florida court decision, or any other court decision, demonstrating an actual need for this legislation.

They can't provide any examples because — as pointed out by a recent American Bar Association resolution and report opposing anti-Sharia measures — state and federal laws already prohibit courts from applying religious or foreign law in any way that would be against public policy, or constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religion.
This reckless legislation, however, imprudently goes far beyond these proven limitations.

The Legislature's leadership should block this legislation because it is legally unwarranted and morally abhorrent. Simply put, anti-Muslim prejudice must not be memorialized in Florida law. But blocking this legislation is also in the religious freedom interests of other Florida communities. [Read More...]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anti-Muslim Violence, Hate Crimes, and Islamophobia

Sheila Musaji | The American Muslim | January 8, 2013 | [Original Article]

Our TAM collection of PREJUDICE, RACIST, OR VIOLENT INCIDENTS AT MOSQUES includes this summary of 2012 incidents and of anti-mosque efforts.  The collection itself contains links to information on each incident:

— An elderly man was attacked and beaten by two men in Queens, New York.  They first asked him if he was a Muslim or a Hindu. **  

— Another elderly man was beaten and stabbed when he came to open the doors of Masjid-al-Saaliheen in Queens, New York.  the suspect, who is believed to be in his 40’s, yelled anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slurs at the time of the attack **

2012 SUMMARY of attacks on mosques (includes attacks on Arab churches and the Sikh Temple)—CALIFORNIA - Ibrahim Khillullah Mosque in Fremont, man threatened to shooteveryone.  - An Nur mosque in Ontario had pig legs thrown on the sites driveways.  Prayers at a Hayward Mosque were disrupted by teenagers throwing lemons and oranges, shooting bb guns, and insulting worshippers. - West Sacramento Islamic Center vandalized for second time. — Woman arrested at Islamic School and mosque in Florida for carrying a sword onto the property. — ILLINOIS - Gravestones at Evergreen Park cemetery vandalized twice.  - Lombard Mosque College Prep School hit with an acid filled bottle thrown during Taraweh prayers.  - Muslim Education Center Mosque in Morton Grove had shots fired during Taraweh prayers. — MARYLAND - Riverview Islamic Center vandalized. — MICHIGAN - Mother of the Savior Lutheran Church (Arab Christian) in Dearborn vandalized twice in a week.  - Fire and graffiti at Dearborn mosque. — MISSOURI - Two arsons attacks on Joplin mosque, second destroyed it.  NEVADA - Las Vegas mosque arson. — NEW HAMPSHIRE - Our Lady of the Cedars Melkite Church Arabic sign vandalized.  NEW YORK - Elderly man beaten and stabbed when he came to open the doors of a Queen Mosque. - Masjid Darul Quran Mosque in N. Bayshore vandalized. - Fire bomb attack on Queens Imam al Khoei Mosque.  OHIO Arson attack on Toledo Mosque.  OKLAHOMA - Oklahoma City Mosque vandalized by paint balls fired at it. PENNSYLVANIA - St. Ann’s Arab Catholic Cathedral in Pottsville vandalized and Palestinian flags torn down. — RHODE ISLAND - N. Smithfield Mosque vandalized. — SOUTH CAROLINA - Rock Hills Mosque vandalized. — TENNESSEE - Man arrested for threats to blow up Murfreesboro mosque. — TEXAS - Man arrested for threatening to kill as many as possible at San Antonio Mosque. = A dead pig left outside a Houston mosque. — VIRGINIA - Harrisonburg Mosque vandalized.  - Dar al Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church vandalized. — WISCONSIN - Terrorist attack on Sikh Temple (possibly thought it was a mosque).

It is important to note that 17 of these incidents happened in a 2-month period in July and August of 2012.  See Why Is a mosque not like a church? for a discussion of this phenomenon. 

Some of these incidents could have resulted in deaths, and in some cases like the men who threatened to go into mosques and kill people, the only reason there were not deaths was because someone gave information to the police, and the police were able to arrest the perpetrators before they were able to carry out these acts.

Update 1/6/2013— Someone shot into windows at the Prince Aga Khan Shia Ismaili Jamatkhana in Fayetteville, GA **

Since August, when the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek Wisconsin was attacked and 6 innocent people were killed there have been in addition to crimes against houses of worship, a number of attacks and even murders of individuals.

JANUARY 2013 — A couple attacked outside a Walmart in Pasco, Florida.  They were harassed with racial slurs, including shouting “n**ger with a white girl,” as they were leaving a local Walmart at 3 a.m. today. A police report indicates that the shooting victim was asked if he is Middle Eastern and whether he is Muslim. He reportedly answered “no” to each question.  The alleged attacker shot the man at least twice in the face with a pellet gun. Local law enforcement authorities are investigating the incident (Police Report 13-163) as a hate crime. (see update 1/2/13 below)

DECEMBER 2012— A woman was arrested for murder as a hate crime for pushing a Hindu man off the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens, New York two days earlier because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu.  The man was killed by an oncoming train.  She told police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.”  ** 

NOVEMBER 2012 — A Sikh cab driver in Seattle, Washington was badly beaten by a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs.  **

Friday, January 4, 2013

The GOP's Anti-Muslim Wing Is in Retreat

By Tim Murphy and Adam Serwer | | January 3, 2013 | [Original Article]

Over the last four years, a die-hard cadre of activists and their allies in Congress have dragged the Republican party into a fever swamp of Islamophobia and barely-concealed anti-Muslim bigotry. In their paranoid scenario, Islamic Shariah law is creeping into American courts; the Department of Justice has come under the sway of the Muslim Brotherhood; and the president’s engagement ring includes secret writing that indicates Muslim loyalties.

But after a November election that saw three of the party's loudest voices on "creeping Shariah" defeated—and the GOP presidential nominee ignore the issue entirely—the anti-Islam movement within the Republican party may have peaked. Wary of further alienating a once-promising conservative constituency, mainstream Republican leaders have sought, publicly and behind closed doors, to distance themselves from the loudest of the Muslim-bashers in their midst.

"They have gotten a bit of bad odor," says GOP power-broker Grover Norquist, who has pushed to change his party's tone on Islam.
Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former Bush administration official, Washington lobbyist, and prominent Muslim Republican, notes: "There is a self-policing factor in the Republican party, when some members get a little off base on some of these issues. That's the state of play right now."

A turning point came in July, when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), along with four Republican colleagues, signed a letter demanding an investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood's supposed infiltration of the State Department. The letter singled out a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin. Bachmann and her colleagues, deploying tenuous evidence and guilt-by-association, charged that Abedin should not have been given a security clearance because of alleged ties to Muslim radicals.

Days later, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had condemned Bachmann's letter from the floor of the Senate, calling it "unwarranted and unfounded" and "scurrilous." Speaker of the House John Boehner piled on, calling the letter "dangerous." The chair of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), emphasized to USA Today that though she served on his committee, Bachmann's allegations did not have the committee's imprimatur. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator and tea party favorite widely touted as a potential 2016 contender, publicly denounced the allegations promoted by Bachmann and her allies, like former Reagan official and longtime anti-Shariah activist Frank Gaffney.

"Oh no, not Jews—just Muslims," Cain said.

Behind the scenes, GOPers worked to smooth over hurt feelings. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who in 2007 became the chamber's first-ever Muslim member, says several Republican House members quietly approached him to apologize for the Abedin episode. Norquist, who runs the influential group Americans for Tax Reform, says that following the letter controversy, "We have heard back from a bunch of Hill staffers—'We are keeping our guy away from Gaffney and those guys, they're crazy.'" [Read More...]