Thursday, August 26, 2010

Killing discussion of honor killing

Finally, I got a comment posted at the WGN site ! It's the same article that ran on the TRIB site: Taxi ads stir controversy. Up until now, every effort to add my opinion to this issue has been blocked by the site manager...who, I suspect, is the reporter who orignally wrote the piece. She is a Muslim, and the piece is clearly slanted, as you can tell.

It is no surprise that she would want to censor me. Censorship, like honor killings, is another ugly tactic to silence the opposition. And it's enthusiastically embraced by Muslim countries, which, as far as I know, are alien to the concept of freedom of the press. In today's current climate, one is only allowed to say glowingly positive things about the Faith of the Prophet or else one is labelled an "Islamophobe."

But who is the Islamophobe: the person murdering young Muslim girls, or the person trying to help them?

The Tribune is also now calling the taxi campaign one of "Anti-Islam" ads. That's misleading--how are they anti-Islam? Do they advise people to leave Islam? Do they slur specific Muslims or do they mock passages from the Qur'an? Do they display "Mo-toons"?

I also submitted a letter to the Tribune's Letters to the Editor column. I predict it will not be printed, but if it is, I also predict that it will be followed by a rebuttal from a CAIR operative. Maybe the way-cool Ahmed Rehab himself ! And he will not contradict my information--he will resort to name-calling. He has done that before, and it is sad that he isn't man enough to take on an actual debate.

Here's my letter to the Trib:

Dear Editor, 26 August 2010

It’s interesting that Pamela Geller’s anti-honor killing taxicab campaign has been criticized for stoking the flames of so-called Islamophobia, and yet no news story has mentioned Muslim-spearheaded efforts to address this problem. (Chicago Tribune, Taxi ads stir controversy: Ads imply leaving Islam is dangerous for women,”August 22, 2010 and “Yellow Cab to remove last anti-Islam ads,”

The majority of Muslims do not carry out honor killings, but the majority of honor killings are carried out by Muslims. I doubt many imperiled Muslimas directly benefited from the taxi ads, but it is important to raise awareness about these murders, which are on the rise in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. Even my “moderate” Westernized Muslim friend assured me he would kill his sister if she ever married outside the Faith. I had no reason to disbelieve him.

Also, if CAIR is really interested in improving the lives of American Muslims, they might want to join Pamela Geller’s efforts instead of vilifying her.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Check it out ! Chicago Public Libraries observe "soft" shariah !

If you live in Chicago, or even if you don't, you should look at where the Qur'ans are placed the next time you drop by a library. Here in Chicago, I've been doing a casual survey of our city libraries, the suburban libraries I frequent, and area bookstores. In almost every case, the Qur'an is placed on the highest shelf so that nothing is above it.

Why is it that these books ALWAYS happen to end up on the top shelf?

It's not the idea of the circulation clerks.  It's not a bizarre coincidence of alphabetization. It's because placing anything above the Qur'an Kareem is considered sinful.

There are lots of rules governing how one is allowed to handle the Qur'an, where it can be read, how to get into the right frame of mind when approaching it, etc. One of those rules dictates that the Book must command pride of place in a household. Nothing can be "higher."

If it's your private home and you're a devout Muslim, go ahead: put it on the top shelf. If the Qur'an happens to occupy a position that is on the top shelf, but which is just a matter of applying the Library of Congress catalogue, again, that's the way it is.

But I have been noticing, more and more often, that the books surrounding the Qur'an are jostled and moved and jammed onto shelves, or a shelf is skipped, so that the Qur'an ends up--voila!--on top.

That this happens at bookstores (Borders and Barnes & Noble franchises, for instance) is bad enough, but sometimes management will do stupid things to appease disgruntled customers. And as we all know, Muslims are huge fans of reading, what with all those universities in Baghdad ca. 700 AD.

I haven't been to every single library in the Chicago system, but the ones I've visited for this informal survey have all shelved the Qur'an the same way.  I was at Mt. Greenwood library today, and there it was--up top! Mt. Greenwood is on the Southwest side of the city, and we don't have many Muslims in the neighborhood, so I doubt these particular Qur'ans were ever borrowed.

I also doubt an "offended" Muslim (but ain't they all?) ever approached the desk to admonish them for having the Qur'an in a different spot.

My theory is that someone--and it wouldn't surprise me if that "someone" belonged to CAIR--contacted the City of Chicago and told them that the Qur'an MUST always occupy the top spot.

If that's true, why is the City implementing Islamic law in a public, taxpayer-supported institution?

Leave Islam Safely--or Die Trying

Pam Geller's taxicab campaign has come to Chicago; read about it here:  (Leave Islam Safely) Geller is advertising an option for people, mainly young women, who wish to leave the Religion in Which There is No Compulsion. Participating cabs carry rooftop-mounted signs that display a phone number for individuals seeking sanctuary. Good idea--a lot of these women are isolated from the non-Muslim community, and turning to another Muslim for help is risky.

Honor killings are on the rise in the U.S., Canada, and Western European countries with large Muslim immigrant populations. The murderers (sorry, alleged murderers) often cite religious reasons for being obligated to kill the offender. "Family" honor must be preserved, but closer reading reveals that the "family" is the "community," which means fellow Muslims who rarely, if ever, express disapproval for the crime.

Amazingly, NO "moderate" Muslim organizations, or even individuals, have spoken out about this.

John Esposito, however, weighs in.  He's the Georgetown U. prof who is trotted out every time an uncomfortable fact emerges about Islam, which he  instantly dismisses. This time, he explains to the "Islamoignorant" public that "honor killings" are cultural, not religious.

Dr. Esposito joins the thousands of apologists who downplay any catastrophic act of violence by Muslims and try to distance the act from the motive. Fort Hood massacre? Crazy guy. 9/11 ? Nineteen crazy guys, acting randomly. They happened to be Muslim--pretty much like the entire College of Cardinals happens to be Catholic.  Now, with honor killings,  it's "culture."

How arrogant, Dr. Esposito ! How dare you contradict what the murderers themselves cite as their reason for killing their sisters/daughters ? If they SAY it is religious, it is religious--who are you to read their innermost thoughts and then dismiss them as powerless pawns forced to do whatever their "culture" mandates? And which culture would that be anyway, Dr. E ? Honor killings occur among families from a LOT of different cultures...unless you mean Muslim culture ! Bringing us back to square one.....

The "moderate" Muslims mentioned in the story should be applauding Ms. Geller and sending her contributions so that she can outfit even more cabs. Yet we are to believe these "moderates" are offended.

I'm offended, too. I'm offended by the fact that, AGAIN, the Tribune has decided to silence anyone who dares point out the obvious, which is that honor killings should shame the environment that gives rise to them, not the people trying to raise awareness and stop them from happening.

I've tried to post comments, twice. I was blocked both times. It seems the new Tribune policy is to offer no forum to anyone who disagrees with their pro-radical Muslim spokesmen. If you agree with them, or if you disagree but then veer off-topic or get too emotional, and therefore look less credible, then your remarks will be posted.  But if you disagree AND have cogent, supportable reasons for your opinions, forget it. The "reporters" assigned to these stories can barely disguise their feelings on the issues. This is not reporting. This is propaganda.

Does the Tribune employ any editors who are educated on radical Islam and who are aware of what the paper has been doing?

I have had conversations with friends who were "moderate", Westernized Muslims. (I mentioned this in my blocked comment, too.) One of these men assured me he would kill his beloved younger sister if she ever married outside the Faith or otherwise disrespected Islam. There is no doubt in my mind that he would have done so--fortunately for her, she married a Muslim, and fortunately for the rest of us, he is no longer living in the US. 

In case the Trib archives the article about the cabs, here it is:

Opponent of mosque takes anti-Islam campaign to Chicago

August 23, 2010 5:50 AM ,UPDATED STORY

An outspoken opponent of the so-called ground zero mosque in Manhattan is taking on Islam in Chicago.

Pamela Geller, leader of a movement called Stop the Islamization of America, asserts that Muslims are increasingly taking over schools, financial institutions and the workplace. Her latest campaign against "Islamization" has appeared in ads this summer on top of 25 Chicago cabs.

Beside pictures of young women who were allegedly killed by their Muslim fathers for refusing an Islamic marriage, dating a non-Muslim or becoming "too Americanized" is the message: "Is your family threatening you?"

Though the placards appear to offer a haven for young women who want to leave Islam, critics contend the signs stoke fear among passengers and passers-by about the way an estimated half of the city's taxi drivers worship, and seek to suppress the religious liberty on which the nation was founded.

"We've tried to build a movement that respects others and to respect ourselves and work for our human rights," said Fayez Khozindar, chairman of the United Taxi Drivers Community Council, whose membership is mostly Muslim. "This isn't right."

The ads and the campaign against building the Park51 mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York show that nearly nine years since radical Muslim hijackers flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, a number of authors and activists have stepped up to tell Americans that they believe Muslims are waging a surreptitious offensive to supplant the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law.

"If you're devout, you believe in the Shariah," Geller said. "I don't believe in the institution of foreign law. I believe in the separation of church and state or mosque and state."

But many Muslim scholars and civil rights advocates say Geller and other self-proclaimed truth-tellers are malicious activists who have capitalized on the terrorist attacks to create a cottage industry bent on bashing people of goodwill and championing religious freedom for all Americans except Muslims.

John Esposito, a professor of international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, said religious defamation and Islam-bashing have become more acceptable in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks.

"People like Pam Geller have a horrendous record," he said. "It's a track record of not distinguishing between forms of religious terrorism and Islam itself."

The ads sponsored by Geller's group come during a tumultuous time for Muslim Americans. The proposed mosque has drawn support from President Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that has been loudly countered by criticism from much of the national Republican leadership and a few high-profile Democrats. Last week, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn came out against the location of the mosque.

Geller said the ads in Chicago are the first in a nationwide campaign to raise Americans' awareness that honor killings are happening in their own country. She said surveys show that 91 percent of honor killings around the world -- and 84 percent of them in the U.S.-- are carried out by Muslims.

Esposito said religion has nothing to do with it. Honor killings are a cultural phenomenon, not religious, and they are not endorsed anywhere in the Quran, Islam's holy book.

"This ongoing jihad watch distorts the primary drivers here," Esposito said. "Unless you understand where it's coming from, it will not be addressed correctly. ... This should be understood the way we address violence against women. ... We offer them as much protection as we can, but we don't jump to say this simply goes on among a particular religious group."

The Council on American Islamic Relations is considering legal action regarding the ads. Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago, said organizations such as Geller's are not qualified to lead domestic violence initiatives.

But Rehab suspects that's not their primary goal. Instead, he said, they are intentionally creating an uncomfortable work environment for Chicago's cabdrivers.

Geller said the faith of the cabdrivers never crossed her mind.

"I thought about the mobility of the cab," she said. "The ad is not directed at Muslims. In this particular case, it's directed at Muslim girls in trouble, living in fear of their lives, struggling to find resources to help."

But Jeff Feldman, president of Taxi Medallion Management, the company that manages Yellow Cab in Chicago, said drivers have a right to request another cab or remove the sign.

"I can see where moderate Muslim men would be upset by that type of ad," he said. "It casts a terrible impression over all of Islam."

-- Manya A. Brachear

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jihad-Wear ! Another militiant Muslim mom gets free press for her cause

Remember playing, "What's wrong with this picture?" A seemingly normal tableau would contain several subtle mistakes that the viewer would have to hunt for and identify: a man with a spigot growing out of his head, a bird without wings, etc.

These days it's a little like reading a feature story in one of Chicago's major papers. An article that appears harmless actually contains a lot of concealed, and disturbing, messages.

Here's a story that ran in the Chicago Tribune: (I have bold-faced some of the more problematic sections, which I'll address at the end of this piece)

Arab women find help adjusting to America:Arab-American Action Network smooths out rocky transition for recent immigrants, By Jennifer Day, Special to the Tribune , July 21, 2010
Randa Ibrahim was serving coffee to the guests in her Palos Hills living room when her 17-year-old daughter distractedly breezed through the living room and out the back door without so much as a nod.
      "She won't come say hi," Ibrahim said disapprovingly. "I don't like the way she just comes through."
      Showing respect to elders is important in Arab-American culture. Ibrahim, a 47-year-old Palestinian woman who grew up in Kuwait before coming to the United States in 1982 has tried to instill in her children the values she was raised with.
        "I teach them the right ways. I take care of them," said Ibrahim, but American culture has taken root, too.
       Arab women in the U.S. are often without the strong network of extended family that is traditional in Arab countries, and that can make dealing with the many cultural issues they face here very stressful. Many feel isolated and in some cases may suffer from depression, say officials at the Chicago-based Arab-American Action Network, which a little more than three years ago organized a group to help them cope better.
          The Arab-American Women's Committee brings together women who recently have come to the United States with more established immigrants to discuss problems and find better ways of coping with social challenges, said the organization's associate director, Rasmea Yousef. It aims to help women bridge cultural gaps while helping them become community leaders.
        "We help them express feelings," said Yousef, who formed the group a little more than three years ago. "Traditionally, women didn't speak about private things. They thought it was shameful."
         Abdalla Ali is a family therapist in Dearborn, Mich., home to the largest Arab U.S. population. (The Arab-American Action Network estimates there are 220,000 in the Chicago area). He said Arab-Americans face an array of challenges and estimates that of the 1,400 patients in his clinic, 600 to 800 have been diagnosed with depression or, in the case of war refugees, post-traumatic stress disorder.
       Many lack the language skills and education levels that can help find jobs, leading to financial strain. For women, the issues that arise with raising children here can be very stressful, he said. As children start to Americanize to fit in with their peers at school, tension rises.
        If mothers, usually the ones dealing with issues at school, don't speak English, they have trouble communicating with children's teachers and heading off problems. Language barriers may arise within the family, too.
      "The most important thing here is communication," said Ali, who added that he was a translator during a counseling session for a mother who spoke only Arabic and her teenage son who spoke only English.
      "It really depends on the family. When a father and mother can't follow their kids in school and go to the parents meetings and read what the school sends home, you have a very difficult burden to manage," he said. "Families often try to hide these problems, this shame."
       One way women are encouraged to open up is by sharing what they are going through, said Faida Sahouri, a group member and one of the relatively few Arab-American women therapists in the Chicago area.
        "When they talk about [issues they face], it makes it less of a burden. It makes them feel better after that," said Sahouri, who facilitates a creative writing project for the group.
         The group is working on its second volume of collected stories as a result of the writing project. Several of the stories recounted ugly incidents involving ethnic or religious targeting, which also add to families' stress, she said.
         When Ibrahim decided at age 30 to cover her head with a hijab and dress in an abaya — a robe traditionally worn by Muslim women — she was surprised by the reactions she received.
        "When I started wearing a hijab, my neighbor, she doesn't know me," she said. "I saw her in school and said hi, and she turned her face. I thought maybe she didn't know me, but I had my kids with me. She knows my kids."
         Ibrahim said that since joining the women's group, she has become a stronger, more independent woman. When her husband was overprotective, she didn't challenge him. She was always exhausted from taking care of the kids, making sure the house was perfect, and fielding phone calls from her mother-in-law, who she said would quiz her about what meals she was planning to cook for the day.
          Now she teaches Arabic as a second language, works with her daughter as a DJ at weddings and sells Mary Kay cosmetics. When she decided to go back to school at DePaul University to become certified to teach Arabic, she said her husband "got crazy."
         "He said, 'How will you go?' " Ibrahim recalled. "My friend said, 'It's OK, we'll find a way.' "
         But she said some topics, such as teen drug use, are still easier to write about in the group.
         Ibrahim wrote a play about an Arab-American mother who was oblivious to her teenage son's drug use. She and her friends performed the play, which blended humor and education, for 150 women at an Arab-American Action Network event.
          As Ibrahim relates the details of the play, Yousef beams: "When I first met Randa, I knew she (would) be a leader in her community.

Hmm....where to begin?

As soon as I finished reading this pathetic example of journalism, I tried to post a comment on-line. The Tribune always follows feature stories with a commentary box so people can post reactions to the story; oddly enough, there was no forum for discussion.  I emailed the editors to ask why. They replied:

Hi Mary,

I asked our website editor Ben Estes to respond to your question. He tells me that, "Comments have been shut off from this story because too many readers were abusive."
Thanks for writing in with your comments, and please let me know if you have any other questions.
Jenna Lasich, Chicago Tribune Reader Help Desk

Clearly, I was not the only person who didn't appreciate the story. I find it hard to believe, though, that the Tribune would be deluged with such a huge number of negative comments that they had to remove the comment box entirely. And if some of those comments were removed for profanity, etc., what was left as "abusive"?

Here's what happened: the staff at the Tribune didn't WANT any criticism of the story: the story is supposed to generate sympathy. The Tribune is not in the business of reporting on reality; their job, when it comes to certain issues like militant Islam, is to present a story in a positive light and then ONLY allow supportive comments to be printed. They are not conveying information, they are propagandizing.

So, I followed this up with a letter that I emailed to the editorial page in the hopes that the print edition of the Tribune would carry it:

Dear Editor:

I was offended by the Tribune’s story, “Arab women find help adjusting to America,” (7/21/210). The writer introduces us to an innocent, refined Muslim woman thrust into the hostile and barbaric United States. Given Randa Ibrahim’s disdain for American culture, what would possess her to live, and raise a family, here?
       My three kids are teens, and over the years I have met scores of their friends. They have always treated me, and my guests, with respect. Among the American kids I know, Ibrahim’s daughter, who sashays past guests without acknowledging them, is an exception to the norm. This young woman was poorly socialized. The American term for this is “rude.” (And if the girl was born here, she is American—not “Americanized.”)
       Ibrahim also finds it hurtful that her neighbor ignores her at a school event because Ibrahim is wearing Islamic garb, a fashion Ibrahim did not adopt until she was in this country. Hijab is not religiously mandated, and Ibrahim’s birth culture apparently did not require it. But hijab is also a political statement, symbolic of a conservative and often radicalized element within Islam. The governments of Turkey and Syria know this, and so too does Ibrahim’s neighbor. Ibrahim may have the right to wear her politics on her sleeve—or in this case, on her head—but her neighbor also has the right to express her disapproval.
Mary Esterhammer-Fic

I haven't heard from them, so it's safe to say they won't publish that, either.

The letter I sent them "covers"--haha--my main points, but there are some other annoyances hidden, like IED's, within the story. 

The support group that's mentioned consistently identifies with  "Arabs" ( or Arab-Americans). That's a little disingenuous.  This is about Muslim women. Not only are "Arab" and "Muslim" NOT mutually inclusive terms, but Arabian people have traditionally had no problem assimilating to American culture (eg, Danny Thomas). The only issues that have arisen recently regarding "assimilation" have had to do with Islam's political--not spiritual--agenda.

Need more clues that this is about politics and not immigrant assimilation? Dearborn MI is home to a huge number of radicalized Muslims. DePaul U. has long harbored faculty with these leanings, and they cultivate this mentality among students.

This woman's quest to teach "Arabic as a second language" is a little off, too. If she's sufficiently fluent in English at this point, why isn't she using her background to help recent Arabian immigrants learn English? That would make more sense, but she's probably teaching Arabic under the auspices of one of these Muslim "schools" that dedicate a large part of their curriculum to pounding conservative Islamic teachings into young kids. These students, most of whom were born in the U.S., are being pressured into identifying more strongly with Muslim culture than with American society.

It seems counterintuitive to then claim that opportunities for assimilation are so often frustrated. More to the point, the woman in question is part of a large network of Muslims who are trying to foist their views and their lifestyle on American society at large.

That these views are dangerous goes without saying.