Friday, October 16, 2015

Islamophobia & Religious Freedom by Hassan Shibly at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville

"We are honored today to have as our pulpit guest Hassan Shibly. A lawyer, a speaker, and a teacher, Mr. Shibly has dedicated his life to fostering a healthy cohesive relationship between the between American Muslims & society at large. He has taught courses on Islamic belief, law, history, spirituality and culture and serves as a consultant on Islam for NGO's, non-profit organizations, government agencies, media organizations, youth groups, and law enforcement. He lives with his wife and three children in the Tampa area, where among his other activities he serves as executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations. Please welcome Mr. Hassan Shibly."

"When we understand one another, by nature, we will also respect and love each other. It is my vision that any community where all cultures are understood and respected will be beacon of hope for the world." - Hassan Shibly

BUSTED: Feds arrest Fox News ‘terrorism expert’ for pretending to be a former CIA agent

A Recurring Fox News guest who claimed to be a long-time CIA agent was indicted and arrested Thursday for not, in fact, being a CIA agent.
Wayne Simmons claimed to have 23 years experience with the secretive federal agency as an “outside paramilitary special operations officer,” CNN reports. He was indicted for using that claim to gain security clearances and a post as a defense contractor advising military personnel overseas.
On his website, Simmons claims he joined the U.S. Navy in 1973, where he was recruited by the CIA,” and “spearheaded Deep Cover Intel Ops against some of the world’s most dangerous Drug Cartels and arms smugglers from Central and South America and the Middle East.”
Simmons also claims he has been a “terrorism analyst” for Fox News since 2002. In 2004, he claims former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recruited him to join the Pentagon Outreach Program for Military and Intelligence Analysts.
A Fox News spokeswoman told CNN that Simmons was an unpaid guest and never a host for the station, and declined further comment.
CNN pointed out that Simmons had a pattern of making “extreme and factually dubious” claims about terrorism, including a claim in January that there were “at least 19 paramilitary Muslim training facilities in the United States.”
He also denied waterboarding was torture and said that President Obama was a “novice who lacked a spine,” according to CNN.
Officials told the station that there had been suspicions about Simmons’ resume which were stirred when questions were raised with various government agencies about his statements.
As part of the indictment, Simmons is also accused of defrauding a victim out of $125,000 in a real estate-related scam.
If convicted, Simmons could face decades in prison for all counts, including 20 years for wire fraud, 10 years for major fraud against the U.S, and 5 years for false statements.

Nathan Crabbe: Showcasing efforts to improve the planet

"Conflict-driven coverage can give the public a narrow view of people and places with which they are unfamiliar. I saw an example during a speech last week at the Florida Free Speech Forum by Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A questioner asked Shibly why Islamic leaders weren't more critical of terrorists who kill and maim in the name of their faith. Shibly said that Muslims have actually been extremely vocal in condemning such violence, suggesting that those who think otherwise should “Google it."

He's right: A Google search for “Islamic leaders condemning terrorism” generated 6.4 million results. Yet terrorists gets the headlines, not Muslim leaders speaking out against extremism.

In today's section you'll find a guest column by Shibly, along with a piece by Anita Spring on Gainesville's United Nations Day event this week. I'm proud to be serving as chairman of this year's event."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The belief system of the Islamophobes

The discourse over Muslims today resembles the manner in which Jews were vilified around a century ago.

Arun Kundnani

Arun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror.
Since the 1970s, Muslims have repeatedly been stereotyped in the US as dangerous terrorists. But, over the last six years, a new fear of Muslims has gradually entered the conservative mainstream: that Muslims are taking over the United States and imposing "sharia law".
In 2011, Republican Congressman Allen West called Islam a "fifth column" that had infiltrated US institutions. In a 2010 speech in Washington, Newt Gingrichdescribed sharia as "a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States".
Another candidate, Herman Cain, condemned what he called the "attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government", and said he would introduce a special loyalty test for Muslims wanting to serve in his administration. Another US Representative, Michele Bachmann, declared that sharia "must be resisted across the United States" and demanded national security officials investigate Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the federal government.
Such fears are paranoid and lack any basis in reality. No significant Muslim organisation has called for sharia in the United States. For most devout Muslims in the US, sharia is a personal, moral code rather than a political programme.
Imminent Islamic takeover
Nevertheless, many conservatives view an imminent Islamic takeover as a real danger. The currentleaders in the 2016 Republican presidential field are playing on that fear. Donald Trump and Ben Carson have both made anti-Muslim comments in the last two weeks.
On NBC's Meet The Press show broadcast earlier this month, retired neurosurgeon Carson said: "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."

A few days earlier, during a question and answer session at a New Hampshire campaign rally, a Trump supporter said: "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims."
Trump nodded in response.
recent poll in Iowa found only around half of Republicans thought Islam should be legal in the United States. Forty-three percent of Republicans believe Obama is Muslim, according to a CNN poll. These attitudes are not simply a spontaneous reaction to 9/11. After all, this kind of rhetoric only really got going several years later. Nor are they a reaction to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Beyond the headlines lies an organised and well-funded propaganda campaign. According to an investigation by the Center for American Progress, seven conservative foundations spent over $40m on anti-Muslim propaganda between 2001 and 2009. Others estimate the amount spent is over $100m.
Among the groups funded is Brigitte Gabriel's ACT! For America, which has 170,000 members and models itself on the highly successful National Rifle Association.
The aim of this propaganda is to popularise an anti-Muslim version of the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that began to circulate a century ago. Like anti-Semitism, Islamophobia is not only about hatred. It is also an ideology that seeks to connect with people's social, economic, and political frustrations and advocate a course of action, even if the explanation and the action are based on falsehoods.
Secret sharia
Clearly, no national problems can plausibly be blamed on Islam. To have any effect, Islamophobic ideology needs a conspiracy theory that says the US is, despite appearances, secretly run by Muslims. Muslims can then be portrayed as a hidden force preventing American renewal. The message is a convenient one for the US ruling elite: don't blame the people who actually run the US, just smell the sharia.
To the Islamophobe, the US government is not what it seems. The Muslim Brotherhood has placed a Muslim in the White House and is implementing its secret sharia plan. It begins with school textbooks in Texas trying to present Islam in a positive light, Campbell's bringing out a halal version of its iconic soups, or the Obama White House refusing to use the phrase "Islamic terrorism".
Then, one day, Americans will wake up to an Islamic government. Europe, with its larger Muslim population, has already succumbed: It is now Eurabia, an Arab colony; London has already become Londonistan.
A century ago, America's Jews were likewise seen as infiltrators threatening Western values. Central to US anti-Semitic ideology was also a conspiracy theory that presented Jews as secretly pulling the strings of international finance and world revolution. Henry Ford, for example, used the pages of his Dearborn Independent newspaper to propagandise such views in the 1920s.
The modern discourse over Muslims today resembles the manner in which Jews were talked about then. In both cases, a religious minority is seen as a dangerous underclass destroying society from below with their alien values, as well as a hidden force secretly controlling the world from above, through their infiltration of centres of power.
American Jews were eventually able to overcome the worst anti-Semitism of the 20th century and establish security and equality in the US. Will Muslims be able to do the same? Unfortunately, history never repeats itself in the same way. The key difference is that, today, widespread anti-Muslim fears among the public provide a justifying pretext for a global US empire that did not exist in the 1920s. Islamophobia is not just an irrational fear, but a belief system that is useful to sections of power.
Opposing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and all of their accompanying rhetoric are not just about defending the civil rights of Muslims in the US. It is also about removing one of the ideological supports of US imperialism.
Arun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and teaches at New York University.