Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Murfreesboro Vs. the Mosque: A Lost Cause

A  few nights ago (27 March 2011),  CNN aired a special called "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", hosted by Soledad O'Brien. The show was about the ongoing efforts of the citizens of Murfreesboro TN to block construction of a local mosque.

I cringed to hear supposedly educated, well-mannered people spew half-truths--sometimes outright lies--about their own motivations and those of their opponents, whom they reduced to vile, simplistic stereotypes. Rarely have I seen such an embarrassing display of ignorance and bigotry, barely concealed by the thin veneer of faked gentility. This is a community determined to preserve a way of life that the rest of America has moved beyond.

Yes: the Muslims had nothing but contempt for their non-Muslim neighbors.

"Unwelcome" is part of an ongoing effort by popular news/commentary outlets--including NPR--to re-program the American public's attitude about Islam. CNN, unbiased news station that it is, had to weigh in on the crisis of ( largely imaginary) islamophobia sweeping across the US, and what better example than Murfreesboro TN...home to  140 churches and about a million rednecks? Oh, plus some long-suffering, peace-loving Muslims who, for some reason, felt compelled to put down roots in this hotbed of Klan activity.

The station even offers a helpful CNN Educator Guide to the episode, because the people of Murfreesboro should at least be able to provide a Teachable Moment to the high school students of America. Learning objective: Islam is benign and wonderful, and Christians--especially the Bible-thumping variety--are the REAL enemy.

I watched the show, expecting it to be biased but hoping it would at least use some balance. Even I was shocked at the protrayal Murfreesboro as a town full of semi-literate inbred louts right out of central casting for Deliverance II.

Murfreesboro's residents were vilified and mocked throughout the hour, even though they made a number of valid points. Yet the production team went out of its way to find examples of backwoods brutishness.  One guy they interviewed wore a seed cap and had, like, two teeth. Really, CNN ? I guess Jed Clampett was busy distilling his next batch of moonshine and so was unavailable.

CNN went for an easy target, because the white Southern male is the last American archetype we are allowed to demonize. Choosing Murfreesboro was a no-brainer for O'Brien and her staff. No matter what those people said, they would be seen as xenophobic paranoiacs rallied around the Stars and Bars and lamenting the end of slavery.

It was almost laughable: when O'Brien interviewed her Muslim contacts, she was almost fawning. She leaned forward, purred sympathetically, and elicited lots of  sad stories about vicitimization and subtle bullying. When she spoke to townspeople opposed to the mosque, it was not so much an interveiw as an interrogation. She fired questions at them and sneered at their answers. This wasn't journalism, it was abuse.

Here's the issue in a nutshell:

Murfreesboro residents consider themselves--as most people do, I suppose--warm and welcoming. They already proved that by rolling out the welcome mat for Muslims prior to 9/11, and the same Muslims recalled how their neighbors approached them after the WTC attacks to reassure them that they understood the distinction between Islam and terrorism. The Muslim population in Murfreesboro increased, though, and eventually they outgrew their small mosque. They bought land and broke ground for an expansion: a newer facility that would include a school, community center, and even a cemetery.

At that point, the non-Muslims in the area became concerned. They tried to block construction on the basis of zoning violations, and while some of those issues were probably reasonable, there were underlying worries as well.

Unfortunately, the discussion segued from zoning problems to whether or not sharia law would be imposed on Tennessee...which may well happen, but Murfreesboro probably won't be the epicenter of that.  Because the mosque opponents veered off trail, they sacrificed a lot of credibility, and that's why CNN pounced on them. The public was supposed to watch the players in this drama and think, "Ah, scary fundamentalists? Those hillbillies are the scary fundamentalists...not those refined Muslims!"

Some highlights:

*Hate messages on the imam's answering machine were played for an aghast Soledad, although most of the recording was censored. One person said, "Mohammad was a (garble garble garble)!" The imam looked sad and said he could not believe he was hearing these statements. But here's what (I bet) the message said: "Mohammad was a pedophile because he was 53 when he married a six year old girl." And that's true. The imam was probably dispmayed that this information was out there, even though anyone who reads the papers knows that child marriages are not uncommon in Muslim societies....even broadly interpretted sharia allows this. So were these "hate messages" or just embarrassing questions that the imam would prefer not to answer honestly?

*One of the more disturbing features of the mosque-under-construction was actually the cemetery. Muslims don't use coffins or vaults--they shroud their dead--and one of the anti-mosque spokesmen mentioned that people were worried about decaying corpses leeching into the water table.  O'Brien scoffed at this. Is she an idiot? Until very recently, a leading cause of death was contaminated water. (Actually, it's still a big killer in the developing world.) Long before germ theory was even dreamed of, armies knew that the most effective way of destroying a village's viability was to foul their water source, often by tossing a human corpse or an animal carcass down a well. Yes, some monastic communities still observe simple burials, but those sites are usually remote and inaccessable...not on the same property as a grammar school and playground.

*The construction site was also conveniently vandalized. An elderly Murfreesboro woman admitted that she thought it COULD have been an inside job by members of the mosque, and O'Brien sneered at her. The woman was visibly shaken and intimidated, but she stood her ground, and her facts were accurate. Other acts of vandalism have been initiated by Muslims trying to illustrate bias, and a mosque in Georgia was torched by a member of the community for precisely this reason. CAIR regularly reports cases of Islamophobia, or islamovandalism, and issues statements galore about "backlash" and "targeting," and you always know it's an inside job when CAIR suddenly shrieks, "No comment!" and drops all references to whatever incident they're upset about. In Murfreesboro, the investigation is "ongoing." Also, during the filming, gunshots were heard in the woods. Gunshots? In rural Tennessee during hunting season? No!

*Who is this imam?   The mosque leader says he's originally from Egypt, where he received his religious education, and then moved to Texas. Of course, there could be very moderate, forward-thinking imams coming out of Al-Azhar U, but I doubt it. And Texas is one of the centers of Islamic fundamentalism here in the US, along with Dearborn, MI, and parts of Florida and Ohio. Next: Tennessee?

*The leaders of the Muslim community resisted fiscal transparency. The Murfreesboro residents kept trying to bring this up and were continually shot down.  But the mosque plans called for huge amounts of money, which was said to have come from the pockets of this tiny, beleagured community. Typically, mosque expansion is underwritten by Muslim organizations which may or may not have aboveboard intentions. If the groups who financed this project have no political agenda, then why not name them? If, as in so many other cases, fundamentalist Saudi or Egyptian foundations have a hand in this, Murfreesboro should aggressively move to shut down this project. Murfreesboro doesn't need a madrassa in its midst.

*Many of the Muslim women wore hijab. If the imam is as fundamentalist as his credentials suggest, this is no suprise.  But as for the "overreacting" Murfreesboro resdients who brought up sharia, we know one thing for sure: at least the Muslims in town are observing it. As they become more integrated with American culture, they will either discard these customs or they will expect them to be acknowledged in the public sector. If the latter--which is probable--the non-sharia Tennessee civil and criminal courts will have to consider sharia regulations. This is happening in communities nationwide. Business and domestic disputes are now involving sharia elements, and criminal justice protocols must now change to accomodate evidence gathering, searching suspects, and detaining people.

*O'Brien allowed Muslims to misquote the Qur'an and she let this go unchallenged. Perhaps this wasn't the forum to debate citations from religious literature. But when a Murfreesboro resident pointed out that the Qur'an allows a husband to beat his wife, a Muslim woman called him a liar and denied that such a passage exists. She's the liar. The Qur'an does have a verse that says this (Sura 4, aya 34)...and it is a verse many Muslim men take seriously--even westernized Muslim men. If the girl had said, "Yes, it's there, but men in this community reject that teaching," or "Yes, but we are moving beyond that..." okay. But don't lie.

Interestingly, O'Brien also didn't spend a lot of time interviewing, except as part of the scenery, Murfreesboro residents who were NOT opposed to the mosque. It seems like the anti-mosque people were in somewhat of a minority, although, had I been there, I would have been among their ranks. It's fishy that CNN was trying to create a story when in fact there probably wasn't much going on, at least not on a national level. There have been a number of anti-mosque initiatives in the Chicago area, and most of these stories never go beyond local news. But I guess Chicagoans don't give as good "local color" as the sons of the South.

I'm sure the more cogent arguments of the mosque opponents were edited out to help O'Brien et al prove their point, but when the issue reached the courts, the pro-mosque contingent looked pretty solid. One argument the anti-mosque lawyer tried to build was that the mosque should not be zoned as a place of worship because Islam is not a religion. Yet Islam DOES fit the basic definition of a religion (belief in a supreme being, codified rituals, morality system, etc.). But Islam is also an all-inclusive lifestyle, and it does not acknowledge a separation of religion and state.  If the lawyer had called the imam to the stand and asked him that directly, the courtroom may have received a little more education about Islam and whether a fundamentalist Muslim community would fit into Murfreesboro. The attorney would have been better off following the financial trail or hiring a private eye to look into the imam's background.

And this is getting old: I counted at least 11 butt shots of Muslim men praying.  Can we please not have this visual image included in EVERY news story about Muslims? Every time the story went back to the mosque promotors, there they were again, rows of Muslim posteriers on display! Maybe the teetotalling Muslims are confused when Americans toast each other with "Bottoms up!" Whatever, it's time to get a new "typical Muslim" pose.

The people of Murfreesboro vowed to follow their fight to the Supreme Court, if necessary. I doubt they'll win unless they change strategy.

But thanks to CNN's lynch mob, they've clearly lost in the court of public opinion. And that's too bad, because they're not a bunch of pathetic hayseeds like Soledad O'Brien would have us believe.  At least we know they have more insight than O'Brien when it comes to Islam.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dick Durbin's Cardinal Rule and Muslim Civil Rights

As a predictable yet idiotic response to Peter King's Senate hearings on Muslim radicalization, Congressman Dick Durbin (D-IL) is now calling for hearings into Muslims' civil rights.

As we're all supposed to know, Muslims have been denied such rights since the discovery of America .(Columbus's navigator was supposedly a Muslim), the founding of this country (although the pre-Columbian Indians were also supposedly Muslim, and the evidence is the clear reference to Allah in T"allah"asee, FL--I am not making that up), and their huge contributions to the space program (according to Prez O...and that's probably the reason so many astronauts are imams).

But anyway, King's hearings are held up as a disgraceful display of targeting the largely peaceful followers of the Prophet, a handful of whom may have performed TOTALLY JUSTIFIABLE violent acts. (Note: MAY have performed...they also "may" have been framed.)

So along comes Durbin and his buddies at CAIR. They've decided to root out Islamophobia in American society and squash it like a bug.

CAIR is considered an authority on civil rights as they pertain to Muslims because they claim they're the authority on civil rights as they pertain to Muslims. I know that's called "begging the question," but that involves logic, and CAIR has an adversarial relationship with reasonable thought.

They're mad because the hearings King held specifically addressed Islamic radicalization in the US.  Despite the fact that we have experienced a number of terrorist events that evolved from radicalized preachers at mosques here in this country, and despite the fact that law enforcement has long lamented the minimal support from the Muslim community in pursuing these cells (CAIR even ran a poster advising Muslims to NOT cooperate with the FBI), and despite many Muslim leaders going on record to either excuse terrorism or advocate for it, we are NOT supposed to mention any Muslim connection to terrorism.  Unless it's in the context  of "terrorists like Tim McVeigh and anti-abortion activists." (Tim McVeigh was an atheist, and I take issue with the anti-abortion smear. I too am an anti-abortion activist, as are many of my associates, and we do not condone violence and have never celebrated the bombing of abortion clinics...unlike the partiers who took to the streets of Cairo to celebrate 9/11).

So let's get a grip and narrow the focus a little: King was not talking about all Muslims--he was trying to address factors that affect Muslims who attend mosques or follow imams and then are led to commit anti-American acts. And so far, investigations into these so-called homegrown Muslim terrorists have revealed that most of them, maybe all of them, are involved with mosques that encourage violent jihad.

But Congressman Durbin and his CAIR friends are miffed.

Apparently, Durbin doesn't put much faith in the US Constitution, which guarantees civil rights for all citizens. 

Discrimination is not allowed, and that means discrimination FOR, as well as AGAINST, any given group.

Yes, there are situations that arise--and the political experiment that is American democracy is constantly maturing--where a group that may previously have been invisible is brought into the foreground and we as a society have to address that. Women in the US did not get the vote until the 20th Century, a fact that always blows my mind.

But Muslims are not in that category. They already enjoy civil rights. They CAN vote. They can own property and businesses and their kids can attend schools.  They don't have to sit in separate sections at the diner.

Or wait! They kind of are encouraged to observe segregation. But not by American custom--by MUSLIM custom.  Durbin's CAIR friends are big on gender segregation, and recommend that public schools who do not observe this should at least enforce this with gym classes and other activities. They also push religious segregation and political segregation, but you can look at CAIR's websites to see all of that.

I wonder if Durbin will call CAIR to the stand first.

He actually has some other witnesses lined up ready to testify that Muslims are constantly harrassed and belittled in American life.

One of these is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.  McCarrick retired from leading his flock in DC, but he's come under Vatican scrutiny for a couple of reasons. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II, who was in deep denial about the pedophile scandal that has rocked the Church. One of his legacies was to install cardinals who would not be too avid in tracking down pedophiles and their protectors. Pope Benedict has worked hard to resolve this problem, and he has held many of these men accountable for what they failed to do while information about abuse emerged. McCarrick was one of the people who was called to Rome to answer some pretty difficult questions.

But McCarrick is also soft on abortion.  He has resisted, and in fact has criticized, calls to deny Communion to politicians who publicly espouse abortion rights. He claims that he, personally, is opposed to abortion, but that "dialogue" with dissenting Catholics is more important than publicly excluding them from the Catholic community.

The Vatican has been very clear on this.  While each Catholic has to answer to his or her own conscience, he or she must also be in a state of grace to receive the Host. No one expects a priest to interrogate a communicant at the altar rail, but this is a case of politicians publicly embracing abortion rights, and also adding that they intend to remain practicing Catholics. At no point, before or after receiving Communion, do they retract their statements, admit wrong, or express regret.

The priest who--knowing that up front-- then goes ahead and gives Communion to such people is in effect endorsing their stance. 

Not that integrity is seen often on Capitol Hill, but it would take a lot of backbone for a Catholic politician to either say, "I am anti-abortion," or to at least have the courage to say, "I depend on votes from pro-abortion supporters. Because I plan to publicly support abortion rights, I have excommunicated myself from the Roman Catholic Church. I cannot both support abortion AND remain a Catholic."

Unfortunately for believing Catholics, these politicians want to appear connected to a faith tradition they no longer buy into, because it's good for their careers. (Whatever happened to Hillary Clinton's statement that pro-choice politicians want to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare"? It's definitely legal, usually pretty safe, but no one--not one--pro-abortion politician has said a word about making it "rare." Interesting.)

McCarrick is supposed to be making and then enforcing Church policy, not encouraging people to engage in mortal sin--such as actively supporting the abortion industry.

McCarrick is like a vice president at a company that has a strict anti-theft policy. If the vice president sees that a theft ring is operating within the company, what is his duty? To enforce policy and get rid of the thieves, or to tell his CEO that he cannot possibly do anything because, after all, the thief may have reasons for stealing, and who is he to judge?

This is the type of person who is supporting the Durbin/CAIR initiative: a hypocrite.

Almost as hypocritical as the theme of the hearings themselves: CAIR's civil rights mean MORE rights for Muslims, not equal rights for everyone.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eugene, Play Nice ! Of Oregonians and Left-Wing Spin

I have nothing against Oregonians, but I do wonder why the Portland Christmas tree bomber would pick such an islamofriendly state for his failed jihadist statement. It's kind of like holding an anti-vegan sit-in under the steer head logo at Gino's Steakhouse--kind of preaching to the choir. Oregon memorably reacted to the the planned slaughter of its citizens, including children, by holding rallies to show SUPPORT for the guy who wanted to carry it out.

Now we have a screening of the French film,  "Of Gods and Men", which is based on the 1996 kidnapping/murder of six Trappist monks in Algeria. The monks were decapitated (whether before or after death, I don't know). The movie explores their mission: to help the impoverished Muslim inhabitants of the surrounding area, while living simply in devotion to Jesus. They were eventually taken hostage by Islamic fundamentalists and killed.

I should mention that this incident has been very controversial. Were the monks really killed by Muslim fanatics?  Conspiracy theorists say that the "Muslim fanatics" never existed, and that French forces accidentally killed the men, then tried to cover up their deaths and blame it on terrorist activity. But like they tell new medical students learning to make diagnoses, "If you hear hoofbeats, look for horses, not zebras." Muslim fanatics have killed thousands of Algerians since the French scurried out of the country, and the story of the coverup doesn't make sense. How many people were involved in this "secret" for the past 15 years, and, if they were indeed killed by a barrage from automatic weapons, wouldn't a bullet or two have hit at least one of them in the head?

In any case, the movie, which was made pretty recently, doesn't get into the controversy, which sounds like the creative team has dismissed those stories.

So: The Oregonian  invited four people--two Muslims and two Catholics--to the screening. Their comments were VERY interesting, as were their credentials. The Muslims represented the pro-Muslim viewpoint, and the Catholics, of course, represented the pro-Muslim viewpoint, too.

The interview that followed the screening is very revealing.

The Muslims never once brought up the conspiracy theories involving the French, which is funny because Islamic media is all about conspiracy theories (vultures put under a spell by Israeli intelligence, the AIDS virus being given, in candy, to unwitting Arabian youth by the crafty Jews--"And that's how Ahmad got AIDS !!"--and the "fact" that 9/11 was planned and carried out by Zionists, etc. etc....these are all from Arab news reports, by the way).

But they DID bring up the Residual Effects of Colonialism Factor, which is getting really, really old. Basically, the Muslim kidnappers were just the victims of Western domination, so who could blame them for taking out their fury on the monks?

One of the panelists, Fatima AlBar, is especially riled about people not hearing "the whole story" re: colonialism.  Give me a break.  This film was about one incident. And she wants it put into this overarching "context" that justifies murder/decapitation?

Later, Fatima says, "It is a small thing, but when in the movie you hear the (Muslim) call to prayer, it is not nicely done. When the Quran is recited, it is not nicely done (in the movie). If you are going to have the monks' chants sound so beautiful, the Quran should sound beautiful, too. I asked myself over and over, "What is the purpose of this movie, these parts of the story without the whole picture?" I think the movie will create hate and suspicion of religious people. There will be more fear, more untrusted relations. But Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in peace for hundreds of years. We have so many different stories that will lift us up, help us feel positive toward each other, that won't spread hate or suspicion. Why do we not focus on spreading the voice of love instead?"

So, let's dissect:

*She doesn't like the fact that the monks' chants sound better than Qur'anic recitiation/call to prayer. Monastic chanting is an art form, its own musical genre. They should MAKE the Qur'an sound beautiful? Perhaps re-write it in Latin with a Gregorian tempo? Qur'anic recitation is simply what it is, nothing to be embarrassed about, and a lot of people find classical Arabic very poetic. But Fatima resents the fact that it doesn't sound as "nice" as a totally different form of prayer. She's either really shallow or a little jealous, or both.

* Again with the colonialism context.  We get it, Fatima. This is just like a neo-Nazi insisting that every anti-Nazi movie include a "prequel" that explains all the hardships and humiliations the German people endured after WWI that allowed Hitler's freaky Aryan zeal to take hold. Ho-hum, so what?

*She points out that the movie will just "create hatred and suspicion" because the Muslims are the bad guys. (Despite that the movie evidently went to great lengths to show how well the monks and the Muslim neighbors got along.) At least, her fellow panelists takes issue with her on this. But her statement is a PERFECT example of our ongoing "dialogue/not dialogue" involving Islam. the cardinal rule is: You can never, ever, ever mention any negative incident involing Muslims. And if you do, you have to say that the incident/perpetrator was a one-in-a-a-million aberration and NOT representative of the religion of peace....or you have to bring up colonialism.

* And speaking of colonialism, Muslims were the biggest colonialists on the planet for a millenium ! Islam spread like crazy in just a few generations after Mohammad's death, and the people who were subjegated were only allowed to keep their religions if they accepted second-class status, always deferred to Muslims, and obeyed sharia. "Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in peace for hundreds of years."  Yes, as long as they knew their place.

* As far as Fatima's suggestion to "spread the voice of love instead," she should send a memo to Hamas, al-Qaeda, the governments of Iran and all the other Islamocracies,  et al.

Anyway, moving on from "moderate" Fatima, I looked up the credentials of Sister Mollie Reavis, another panelist who is also a member of Portland's Institute of Christian-Muslim Understanding. This took me to ICMU's page, and I pulled up their reading list . All I can say is, OMG !

One of the first books on the list is by Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, also known as the Ground Zero Imam. He calls himself a moderate, but he is not.  He's pretty extreme. He's an Islamic apologist, and he has expressed tolerance for sharia, justification for terrorism, and contempt for anyone asking him to back up his facts. The forward to his book was contributed by Karen Armstrong, a former Anglican nun who--talk about context, Fatima!--likes to tell half the story and call it complete.

John Esposito is also listed on the page, and this makes me laugh. Esposito is a shameless apologist for political Islam. The media has anointed him an expert, even though his books are clearly biased and he can't refute scholars who point this out. (He's above all that.)

But here's what's really interesting, and it really highlights the biggest flaw in the Christian-Muslim Dialogue that is now going on in schools, churches and community centers all over the US: the books on this list are either about interfaith (Christian/Muslim) relations or they're about Islam ( "In the Footsteps of the Prophet," "Progressive Islam," "A Brief History of Islam" "What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam," etc. etc.). There is not ONE book about Christianity or Catholicism in and of itself. Not ONE.

(Interestingly, there's a book called "Mary the Blessed Virgin of Islam"...and Muslims do regard Mary with great respect. At the same time, it's death-penalty-level blasphemy to refer to her as the Mother of God. Which is kind of a problem when having an interfaith rosary session.)

So the question is, where's the balance? Where's the dialogue? Where's the exchange? There isn't any. 

Obviously, this kind of interfaith "dialogue" is sick. Any healthy relationship needs to have a balance, and both participants are allowed to have a voice.

Usually, when one voice is stifled, it's a sign of abuse.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Egypt: the Honeymoon is About to End !

Reuters news wire carried this story on the new Egyptian government's referendum.

The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood (and its minions here in the US: CAIR) has been busy trying to convince the world that it is nothing more sinister than a "grassroots pro-democracy movement." They've even been trying to call themselves "secular", but with a name like Muslim Brotherhood, I don't think anyone is buying THAT Florida swampland.

Right now, the MoBro looks like the strongest contender for winning (I predict, by a landslide) elections which will seat the post-Mubarek government. Not everyone is happy about this, and the most vocal critics are, of course, the Copts (Christians). (Although I can think of a few other minorities whose lives will not necessarilly improve once sharia is fully implemented. )They're justifiably afraid that these changes are too much, too soon, and that people will vote in a new government which will move Egypt back toward the 6th Century.

This is from the wire story by Sara Mikhail:

"I fear the Islamists because they speak in civil slogans that have a religious context, like when one said he believed in a civil Egypt but at the same time no woman or Copt should run for president," said Samuel Wahba, a Coptic doctor.

The Islamist group has always sought to reassure Copts, who make up about 10 percent of 80 million citizens, saying they have the same rights as other Egyptians. But they have also historically opposed the idea of a Copt assuming the presidency.

Coptic Christians also want the new constitution to do away with Article 2, which says Islam is the religion of the state and Islamic jurisprudence the main source of legislation -- a point of tension with Islamists.

The Qur'an says very clearly that no Muslim should be under the rule of a non-Muslim, so it's no surprise that Copts would be forbidden to run for president. And women--well, they're barely human, so why should they aspire to that office?

But this is typical in Muslim countries. And if all voters are represented in the legislature, and Christians hold some seats, that's a move in the right direction.  It isn't often that someone from a 10% minority wins a non-corrupt presidential election. (There are plenty of examples of religious, ethnic, and political minorities who overwhelmingly  "win" elections that aren't really true elections at all.)

The real problem is that Egypt currently considers Islam the official state religion, and it bases a lot of its laws on sharia. After all, Cairo's Al-Azhar University is the seat of Sunni Islamist law.

Mubarek tried the best he could to walk a tightrope, holding sharia in check while trying not to alienate the scholars whose support he needed. He was committed to building Egypt's relevence as a modern country. He made a lot of mistakes, but those mistakes did not include thinking that a Egypt would be better off under the thumb of fundamentalist Muslim leaders.

The news story ends with this observation:

Egyptians took pride in the Christian-Muslim solidarity displayed during the revolution that toppled Mubarak on February 11 and hoped the uprising had buried tensions that have flared up with increasing regularity in recent years.

But these feelings were dampened in March after an interfaith romance sparked the torching of a church by Islamists, which led to sectarian clashes leaving 13 people killed.

Copts staged an unprecedented sit-in for nine days in front of the state's television building demanding the destroyed church be rebuilt. Some Muslims also joined in.

That last sentence is important--"Some Muslims joined in" the pro-Christian protest. Many Egyptian Muslims have reached out to show support to the besieged Copts (including Hosni Mubarek's sons). I am guessing that some of those Muslims are leery of the MoBro taking charge, too. But I'm also guessing they'll be steamrolled by the huge political machine the MoBro has been building for almost a century. And it's building up a lot of momentum.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"I Will Die to Establish Islam" The Muslim Students Association pledge of allegiance

CAIR's downloadable Guide for Educator warns teachers that Muslim students ARE NOT ALLOWED to recite the pledge of allegiance in class. But I bet CAIR is okay with THIS plege of allegiance!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Egypt: Party Time for the Muslim Brotherhood !!

It didn't take long: Egypt is poised to allow opposition parties to run for government office. Hosni Mubarek spent most of his career trying to keep this particular genie in the bottle, but the cork is out, and the Muslim Brotherhood will likely sweep the elections. They're very organized, very popular, and very media-savvy. So...that's another country that will be under the thumb of a tiny, harmless, basically friendly group of Islamists.

In the same article:

Also Saturday, two cousins jailed for their role in the assassination of then-president Anwar Sadat in 1981 were released to a huge welcome, their lawyer Nizar Ghorab said.

The military council ordered their release Thursday.

Abboud and Tarek el-Zomor served multiple sentences for their role in the shooting death of Sadat during a Cairo military parade. Ghorab said they were kept behind bars because Mubarak's regime feared their return to political life.

They were convicted in 1984 of plotting the assassination and of belonging to the outlawed Islamic Jihad group — but not of actually killing Sadat. The five prime suspects, including the shooter, were captured and executed.

I'm anti-death penalty, but I bet some people in Egypt (like, the ones who think Israel has a right to exist) are grinding their teeth right now, wishing SOMEONE had pulled the trigger when they had the chance.

And why was Sadat killed? Hatred of Sadat was rooted in the highly offensive (to radical Muslims) Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, which led to Sadat sharing a Nobel Peace Prize with Menachim Begin. Egyptians actually came to support this new relationship with Israel and, by extension, a new chapter in Egyptian diplomacy with the US. But religious and political leaders--including the Arab League, but also the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Group, and numerous offshoots--remained enraged.

A fatwa calling for the death of Sadat was issued by Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, "The Blind Sheikh" who is currently a guest of the US government and now lives permanently in a maximum security federal prison. The Blind Sheikh loves issuing fatwas, one of which instigated the FIRST World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

His followers (Osama bin Ladin is one) have committed mass murder and acts of mayhem all over the world, and they've been known to mutilate the bodies of women and children victims. (Because according to the rules of militant jihad, these housewives and kids were "enemy combatants" for having had the bad luck to be born in democratic countries.)

Like my grandfather said about the ne'er-do-well spouse of one of my relatives, "He must have something!"  The Blind Sheikh has commanded an unusal level of devotion. Even his American lawyer Lynne Stewart ended up in the clink because the Sheikh somehow pulled some hoodoo that made her feel compelled to be a courier between the Sheikh's actual prison cell and terrorist cells all over the US, with connections to global networks.

The Sheikh is technically connected to a few organizations like The Islamic Group, which sounds like a multinational corporation....and it is that. But all of these enitities (Islamis Group, MoBro, al-Qaida, Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation, CAIR) are interconnected and run interference for each other in order to push their overriding agenda: the restoration of a global caliphate.  They have never lied about that outright, although the Muslim Brotherhood is currently trying to downplay "the Muslim thing' in order to appear to be what CAIR calls "a mainstream grassroots pro-democracy secular party."

This blog is mostly concerned with events here in the US that appear to promote an anti-Western/pro-Islamist agenda, so what do Egypt's voting regulations have to do with that?

Here's the breakdown: One of our allies--our second strongest ally in the Middle East--is setting the stage for a hostile political party to emerge and define Egypt's relationship to us. (Hostile to what? To secularism, human rights, civil liberties, religious diversity, Western culture, and American interests.)

And by releasing two members of the assassination team that took out Anwar Sadat,  Egypt sent a message to the world that Sadat's legacy of peace is null and void. If that isn't a huge green light to islamists, I don't know what is.

Meanwhile, their patron saint sits in an American prison, still providing moral support to terrorist groups and their numberless sympathizers.

The current Administration has dismissed this issue and has even talked about exploring some sort of relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and their friends. They're buying into CAIRs' pr, which is really bs.

The Sheikh isn't the only one who's blind.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Re-Writing History--with a Big Eraser !!!

It's magic!

Right around the time the Muslim Brotherhood was busy promoting its new, clean, wholesome image as a moderate, progressive, quasi-secular "grassroots democracy movement" (so said CAIR's Ahmed Rehab), some problematic bylaws disappeared from the Brotherhood's English-language Site. Did someone accidentally hit the Delete button and completely eliminate the MoBro's statement on waging jihad until the caliphate is restored and everyone--Muslim and non-Muslim alike--must live under sharia?

Basically, the bylaws said that the MoBro is dedicated to the "establishment of a global Islamic state" and would "build a new basis of human civilzation" by implementing sharia.

The funny thing is, those bylaws remain in place on the MoBro's Arabic website. So even though they've occasionally implied that the bylaws would be revised (this was done mostly to shut up critics), the MoBro hasn't officially altered any of the founding documents.

I guess most non-Muslims are considered too dumb to notice that.

PBS's Frontline shows a Bro discouraging another Bro from brandishing the Qur'an because doing so undermines the new face they're presenting. (The LA Times carries similar coverage.) It seems they want to keep the Muslim element (which pretty much defines them, given their name) on the down-low until AFTER elections.

Of course, the elections will undoubtedly have very favorable outcomes for the MoBro, who will then be able to openly get back to basics, with none of this "Egyptian identity trumps everything" business. Pretty soon Cairo will have George Bush-type billboards with Mubarek's picture and the caption, "Miss me yet?"

Several years ago, the FBI got Holy Land Foundation/MoBro/CAIR members on tape when they explained how it's okay to lie and misrepresent your organization and its goals: they said, "War is deception. We are fighting our enemy with a kind heart...war is deception."

This is in accordance with the Qur'an, which teaches that lying to a non-Muslim isn't really lying. (Even when you're referring to those passages and lying about them.)

So, this is more deception in what they openly describe as a war that will continue until the restoration of the caliphate.

Too bad only one side realizes we're even fighting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Next book club choice? Consider this...

To anyone who is looking for another book club selection, or maybe a little light beach reading for a spring break in Florida, you might want to check this out:

MEMRI: Egyptian Cleric Miqdam Al-Khadhari on the Benefits of Al-Azhar Curricula: The Only Textbooks to Militarize the Students and Teach Jihad and Hatred of Jews Extensively

Al-Azhar University--aka the Harvard of the Muslim world--publishes textbooks that are widely used in schools with a Sunni Muslim curriculum. These aren't limited to schools that are training future imams--these are elementary, high schools and colleges that work with kids who are then going to be mainstreamed into society. Al-Azhar provides textbooks to schools all over the Middle East, Asia, and the West, including the United States.

Al-Azhar U. frequently issues fatwas condemning certain anti-Muslim behavior (such as their recent proclamation citing Pope Benedict's hideously insulting statement that Christians should not be persecuted in Muslim dare he ?) and supporting worldwide sharia and violent jihad.

Nonetheless, Al-Azhar is considered to be relatively forward-thinking and moderate. (Keyword: relatively.)

Pretty much everyone in the Muslim world looks to Al-Azhar in matters of faith and morals. Its influence on the "average" Muslim's thinking cannot be overstated.

Yet make no mistake: its goal is to radicalize the followers of Muhammad until the dream of universal dar al-Islam (House of Submission) becomes a reality.

Watch the clip--it's subtitled, but if you don't trust the translator, I'm sure it won't be too difficult to find a person who is fluent in Arabic and willing to tell you what the sheikh is saying.

These textbooks are also part of jihad--the subtle but sustained effort to introduce Islam into American schools, not just with Muslim kids but with non-Muslim students as well. Al-Azhar is a driving force behind that movement. The non-Muslim kids get to learn all about the Religion of Peace, minus the juicy parts like Muhammad's sex life and prescribed punishments for apostacy. And the Muslim kids get to learn all about "The Treachery of the Jews" and "The Various Forms of Jihad." (Lessons they will then be exhorted to put into use.)

Which would include the 9/11 attacks....although according to Al-Azhar, that would be under "Treachery of the Jews."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Assault on Lara Logan/Assault on Honesty

Last month, CBS correspondent Lara Logan was gang-raped while in Tahrir Square covering the Egyptian Revolution. Old news: probably everyone who isn't living in a cave (which means YOU, Osama!) has heard all the horrible details. Logan was deliberately separated from her camera crew and then she was stripped, sexually brutalized and severely beaten by a mob. She was rescued by Egyptian civilians and soldiers and is now in the US recovering.

As disgusting as that experience was, the tragedy was immediately compounded by world reaction.

Apparently, some heartless bloggers publicly suggested that Logan got what she deserved: that she "asked for it" by thinking she could move through crowds of rowdy Egyptians with impunity, and that she was merely a victim of her own stupidity.

But soon these voices were drowned out by even louder declarations that only bigots would associate the attack on Logan with the climate of misogyny that is so rampant in the Muslim world. 

Weirdly, sometimes these opposing perspectives appeared in the SAME newspaper on the SAME day.

On 25 February 2011, the Chicago Tribune carried an opinion piece by Leonard Pitts--who I normally like. His article was called "There's always room for hate and ignorance.". His main point is well-taken: for any rape victim, appropriate responses would be expressions of support and sympathy. 

And he's right. But then Pitts takes umbrage at a blogger who dared to mention Islam in the context of Logan's rape.

That blogger was also right.

Women who live in Muslim countries--even "moderate" Muslim countries like Indonesia--are second-class citizens. It's fine to say that they have the vote in most (not all) of those places, and that the Prophet loved women so much he married a number of them concurrently.

But the fact is that women are often no more than sex objects. Women are commonly assaulted, but rarely report rapes because they are then often charged with adultery and punished with canings or lashings. (Sometimes these punishments are fatal.) Women are also arrested and beaten for appearing too "provocatively" when they let a man catch an alluring glimpse of an ankle. In places like Afghanistan, women are often hit by cars when they step into traffic--which they can't see because the burqa covers every inch of them except for an eye slit, which is screened with mesh.

Regarding Egypt, the Trib ran a feature the same day as the Pitts column: this one called "In Egypt, women endure daily abuse." (It's archived so I don't have the link.) The writers discuss how sexual assualts are becoming MORE of a problem in the current Egyptian climate. It sounds like the method of Logan's attack is pretty common: men in a crowd cull the woman from her friends--often male friends--and then have at her until they are forced off.

Pitts points out that we in the US are no strangers to sex crimes:  one out of every six American women has been subjected to assault or attempted assault. So who are we to point fingers, right? But in the feature article about Egypt, the writers cite a sex assault figure closer to 85% for Egyptian women. I'm no mathematician, but......

Strangely, two-thirds of attacks are on women wearing traditional hijab--perhaps they are perceived as more docile, and less willing to resist.

Still, it's evidence of bigotry to suggest a correlation between Islam and the subjegation of women.

Never mind that the Qur'an specifically states that a woman has no right of refusal if her husband wants to have sexual relations with her--no matter when. (Actually, what it says is that he's a plow and can go into his fields whenever he wants.) In other words, as soon as you marry, you lose your right to have consensual sex. Too bad if you just gave birth yesterday!

Then we have the hadith that describes when and how it's permissable for men to enjoy the fruits of their battle conquests (after they kill the husbands). Unless you count the hadith that advises letting the husbands watch their wives get raped, to further humiliate them. Although if you're taking the women as slaves, and you're raping them first, you may want to consult the hadith that explains how to prevent pregnancy during rape so that her slave price doesn't drop.

(Note to everyone who lives in states trying to block sharia despite being told that sharia is no big deal because it's just about money lending: The above rules are applied under sharia.)

The State Department is advising women to refrain from going anywhere in Egypt without a male escort, and to exercise caution even with your chaperone. This is the same sort of insight they give to women travelling in other parts of  Dar al-Islam.

Lara Logan's ordeal was terrible, for her and her family, and I wish her the best.

But pretending Islam had nothing to do with what happened to her is stupid. Instead of demeaning her, I think mentioning Islam, and its sexual mores, IS something Logan deserves. If it brings attention to behavior that is tolerated, or excused, by people who identify themselves as conservative Muslims, then we should be able to acknowldege that this is a part of Islam. We are too quick to shy away from saying anything uncomfortable about Islam because we may appear offesive.

Well, rape is offensive.

Lara Logan did put herself at risk when she accepted her assignment to cover the revolution.  She certainly had every right to pursue the story even though she was, I think, well aware that Egyptian society isn't as open and tolerant as most Western countries are.  That doesn't mean she "asked for" what happened to her, but she did understand that it was a potentially dangerous situation.

Lara Logan didn't deserve to get assaulted, but I bet she isn't surprised it happened.

We must keep a close eye on how women's human rights play out in Egypt.  If the Muslim Brotherhood and their ilk assume leadership positions--which I think they will, the minute free elections are held--women and girls may only be able to survive if they accept living under lock and key, completely controlled by the men in their households. Of course, a la the Taliban, they won't have any civil liberties or access to healthcare, jobs or schools, but they will be under "protection"....for their own good.

There's an example that Statistics 101 professors always use to illustrate that assigning causality to data can sometimes lead to false conclusions: incidents of rape rise in the summer months, and so does ice cream consumption. But ice cream doesn't cause rapes.

In the case of Egypt's women, I think we can and should discuss the religiocultural climate of the country. The Muslim Brotherhood is on the prowl, and conservatism with its rigid gender roles is on the rise.

It looks like ice cream sales in Egypt are about to go WAY up.