AFMI Holds First Muslim Convention At Ranchi

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

DSCN1212RANCHI (JHARKHAND): The 20th International Educational Convention and Gala Award Ceremony hosted by American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) held here (December 24-25) is the first Muslim convention of national as well as international level to be held in Jharkhand’s capital city.

The chief guest at AFMI’s Ranchi-convention was Dr. Syed  Ahmed, Governor of Jharkhand. In his opinion, “Female education is a must” as that helps in the “literacy of the entire family.”

Trustee and founder, AFMI, Dr. A. S. Nakedar highlighted importance of “social justice, gender equality, 100% literacy with substantial importance given to both formal and religious education.”

Appreciating the educational importance of Indian Muslims, Subodh Kant Sahai, Union Minister of Tourism, took note of Jharkhand children being among the national toppers. Among 11, class ten toppers from India, three belong to Jharkhand. Sahai pointed out that AFMI’s convention have held people in Jharkhand and outside become aware of educational importance given by Indian Muslims in this state and elsewhere. He pointed out, “We have gone through a tough stage when because of communal polarization, secularism was at stake. The situation has changed now.” Sahai also expressed “salaam” for Indian madarsas giving importance to education.

Though Haji Hussain Ansari, Minority Welfare Minister (Jharkhand) accepted that Muslims are moving ahead, with help of AFMI and other organizations, he pointed out their “progress is not in keeping with their population.”

During his address, former Union Minister and present member of Parliament, Ram Vilas Paswan complimented AFMI and Dr. Nakedar for holding these conventions and giving awards to deserving students. This contributes in enhancing the social importance of Indian Muslims. Paswan also laid stress on his favor for AFMI’s approach in giving importance to religious education together with different aspects of academics (Dec 25).

AFMI, formed by American Muslims of Indian origin in 1989, aims to work towards educational and economic upliftment of Indian Muslims with cooperation between American and Indian relief and educational organizations.

All over India, the Top Eleven from Class 10th are:

Inamdar Farhat Iqbal – 97.2% (Maharashtra); Kanize Robab Ali – 96.71% (West Bengal); Ruksar Banu – 96.48% (Karnataka); Memon Shaheen Iqbal Bhai – 95.60% (Gujarat) with the following having secured 95 %:– Suffeya Zeb (Bihar); Nausheen Najmul Haque Ansari (Jharkhand); Nafis Ahmed Siraj Ahemd (Jharkhand), Aarifuzzaman (Jharkhand); Navar P.M. (Kerala); Faheem K. (Kerala) and Sheikh Mohammed Israil (Orissa).

The Top Ten from Class 12th Examination (all over India) are:

Maha Fathima – 98% (Kerala); Sarah S.D. – 96.33% (Tamil Nadu); Maria Yusuf Lakkadwala- 95.4% (Maharashtra); Israrbanu Mansoor Ballary – 95.33% (Karnataka);

Syed Safaraz Syed Hasham – 95.30% (Andhra Pradesh); Mohd. Arish Abdul Nasir – 94.20% (Uttar Pradesh); Rana Junaid Babar – 94.00% (Gujarat); Sarfaraz Abdul Gafoor – 93.08 % (Rajasthan); Sakina Pitalwala – 91.8% (Madhya Pradesh) and Nazneen Nighar Sultana- 91% (Orissa)

In addition to national level awards, six candidates from different states were selected for gold, silver and bronze medals.

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Successful Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

MPAC-initials-white-on-blkWith the phenomenon of Islamophobia on the rise and now the province of Presidential candidates, thoughtful Americans welcome organizations which confront this problem and work toward solutions. The United States cannot truly fulfill its democratic destiny until the issue of Islamophobia is consigned to the dustbin of history. In addition, many other problems – perhaps trumping Islamophobia in impact – call out for Islamic participation with the concurrent application of Islamic values. The Arab Spring and what America’s role should be, and the Islamic movements outside of the United States are but two. 

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) successfully examined these issues during its 11th Annual Conference, rising once again to the challenge inherent in its founding principles. The Convention took place this past Saturday in Los Angeles and was titled: “Spring Forward: America’s Role in A Changing World”. The Convention consisted of two parts: three work sessions and an evening banquet with speakers.

During the welcome by MPAC President Salaam Al Marayati, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca spoke about Islamophobia and praised the Los Angeles Muslim community in general and MPAC in particular for their cooperation with law enforcement. His presentation might well have been the prologue to the second workshop session. In a direct approach, Sheriff Baca reminded his audience that the United States Constitution grants religious liberty. There should be no interference in the construction of a church, synagogue or mosque. He said that he, like all law enforcement officers, took an oath to defend the Constitution. If there are officers who for reasons of deep seated bigotry are unable to reconcile their positions with their oath, they should leave the office. He received a standing ovation.

The first session,  Plenary I ,  featured Dr. Nayyer Ali, a member of the MPAC Board, as moderator and was titled: “US Foreign Policy: Potentials and Pitfalls”. A diverse panel considered the question of US foreign policy towards the nations of the Arab Spring. While there were answers as diverse as the participants, the results were a mixture of optimism, pessimism, and a wait and see attitude. There was consensus that an American Muslim role is imperative. D Ali gave a summary that perhaps best describes the work of the session.

He said that what we see in the Arab world is the end of the post colonial slumber period much like 1989 was for East Europe. Pay attention to the input of Islam, he continued. It will play a large role and will be integrated into democratic governments.The message of the Koran is a perfect guide as it calls for justice, religious and political freedom, and consensus. Injustice is un Islamic. While the Koran is not a political document, it lays the framework for a just society. The concept of Shura intrinsically prevents dictatorship. “The Arab spring will evolve into something we find admirable”. 
“I feel as if I have attended a graduate level political seminar” said one young woman.

A second session followed a luncheon break. This session was titled: “The Industry of Hate in the Public Square”. Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programing, was the moderator.  She described a whirlwind of activity with emphasis currently on Lowe’s stores withdrawal of sponsorship for the TLC show All American Muslim.

Before the session began, each attendee was given a publication by the Center for American Progress. The book is titled: “Fear, Inc. The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America”.
One of the authors, Wajahat Ali, was the first presenter. Mr. Ali is also a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist, and blogger. “Congratulations. The Muslim agenda is in place”. He cited, facetiously, a Muslim beauty queen and stealth halal turkeys. Mr. Ali spoke of the recent decision of Lowe’s stores to remove their sponsorship of the widely acclaimed television series, All American Muslim. He surprised his audience by telling them that the pressure on Lowe’s to withdraw its support was initiated by the work of one man. He identified this man as David Canton, virtually the lone member of the highly touted Florida Family Association, and a man with a history of bothering corporations. He continued by saying that even Mr. Canton’s web site was poorly done. Yet, like the effect of a megaphone,  the efforts of one man was presented as a large group effort.

“Its like watching a balloon deflate” whispered one audience member.

He cited bloggers Pamela Geller and David Horowitz for their role in taking this issue and publicizing it. He referenced the book he co authored and told his audience to read about the money trails, the donors and the amounts they have contributed, the beneficiaries with their organizations and/or web sites.  The book is truly encyclopedic and a valuable weapon in confronting and defeating Islamophobia.

Attendees were given an opportunity to fill out sign up sheets indicating their willingness to work with MPAC in this crucial venture.

Steven Rohde, a well known civil rights attorney and activist, spoke next. He recited a poem which he had written which paraphrased the famous work of the Reverend Martin Niemoller about the German intellectuals’ reluctance to speak up against injustice because they were not not initially targeted. In this version, the Muslims were the miner’s canary.

Mr. Rohde expressed his willingness to stand with Muslims and fight with them against any injustice turned their way. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Aziza Hasan was the last presenter. She is MPAC’s Director of Southern California Government Relations. She said that we are commanded by the Koran to stand up for truth and to speak up against injustice. She told her audience to anticipate and to build. We can reasonably expect that Islamophobia will get worse by the election of 2012. We can prepare for that battle. We will build alliances and work with those already in place.

The final session, Plenary II, was titled: “Islamic Movements: Help or Hindrance”.  Haris Tarin who is the Executive Director of MPAC’s Washington, D. C. office was the moderator. Will political movements, suppressed for decades, be able to lead the people in a government that is democratic and pluralistic?

Salaam Al Marayati introduced Haris Tarin and complimented him on bringing the MPAC Washington, D. C. office to new levels of influence. In the Arab world, he noted, Islamic groups were able to organize against the dictators in power.

The Muslim world entered modernity through colonialism and therefore entered it as subjects, said panelist Haroon Mogdul, an Associate Editor at Religion Dispatches, a Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly, and a Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Dr. Jasser Auda said that the landscape is complex. For example, the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood is closer to liberal youth than to the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr. Auda is an Associate Professor at the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies. He continued by saying that the Salafist youth are separate from their Imams. Youth are developing the idea of a civil state with an Islamic reference.

Invited guests for the evening banquet were Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of “Race Matters” and Ebrahim Rasool, South African ambassador to the United States.

The Muslim Public Affairs Council has worked since 1988 to promote an American Muslim community which will enrich American society through the application of Islamic principles. These principles are Mercy, Justice, Peace, Human Dignity, Freedom and Equality. MPAC has become the go to group for media and government officials. American Muslims have come to accept it as a spokesgroup on their behalf.

MPAC’s programs include: an Anti-terrorism campaign; a Hollywood Bureau; Government Relations; Countering Islamophobia; Young Leaders Development, and Interfaith Outreach.      

The foregoing is but a small portion of the work of MPAC. To learn more about the group, to contribute, and to volunteer, please access their web site at: www.mpac.org.

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Rep. Keith Ellison Speaks Out About the Lowe’s Controversy

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Statement:  Congressman Keith Ellison

Ellison Statement on Lowes’ Removal of All-American Muslim Advertisement

WASHINGTON–Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement today after Lowes decided to pull its advertisement from TLC’s All-American Muslim series:
“Lowe’s Corporation has chosen to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of The First Amendment, which guarantees the free exercise of religion. This is disappointing since the success of ‘All-American Muslim’ shows how ready the country is to learn about Muslims as Americans. This probably makes hate mongers uncomfortable–as they should be. Our nation’s history is full of examples demonstrating how we have repeatedly torn down false divisions hate groups choose to create. But the struggle against bigotry and hatred must continue so we never give in to intolerance like Lowe’s Corporation has done. Corporate America needs to take a stand against these anti-Muslim fringe groups and stand up for what is right because this is what it means to be an American.”

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The Candidates on Islam

December 8, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Muslim Chaplain, Attorney and Political Analyst

2011-11-23T013356Z_410979054_LM2E7BN04CK01_RTRMADP_3_USA-CAMPAIGN-DEBATE

Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, businessman Herman Cain, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), stand at attention during the singing of the national anthem during the CNN GOP National Security debate in Washington, November 22, 2011.

REUTERS/Jim Bourg

As republican voters near the time to elect their presidential candidate for the 2012 election, the candidates’ respective religious perspectives become significant to many. One topic that does not escape public scrutiny is the candidates’ stand on Islam and Muslims in America. It has become an important issue that calls the attention of both Muslim and non-Muslim voters. Noticeably some candidates appear not to realize that the American Muslim community has a significant number of political conservatives sympathetic to many issues within the Republican Party platform.

The GOP presidential hopefuls’ stand on Islam and Muslims has been varied. Their stands have ranged from being thoughtful and considerate to being discourteous, rude and unappreciative of the history, losing potential support.

Some candidates have clearly opted to try to win votes by denigrating Islam and disparaging Muslims. Taking the lead in the anti-Muslim frenzy is Herman Cain, who has consistently held a hostile discourse on Islam, belittling almost anything or anyone resonating Muslim. Among many instances we may take as example Cain’s opposition to the construction of an Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn., unreasonably arguing that it’s not religious discrimination for a community to ban a mosque. On this same line, Cain has also affirmed that he wouldn’t appoint Muslims to his cabinet and even suggested to impose a loyalty test on any Muslim before allowing him to serve in his administration.

His anti-Muslim rhetoric returned recently when he expressed that more than half of American Muslims are extremists based on a “trusted adviser” who informed him so.

Rick Perry has wisely distanced himself from the bigoted rhetoric and instead has a history of good and positive relations with the Muslims community. Perry endorsed Texas public high school teacher education programs on Islamic history. As governor he signed a Halal Law, which makes it a criminal offense to sell Halal and non-Halal meat in the same store without specifically labeling the two and to misrepresent non-Halal meat as being Halal. Governor Perry has held constructive ties with the Muslim Aga Khan’s community and hosted their world known leader on his visit to Texas. He followed up by attending the inauguration of their Ismaili Jamatkhana Islamic Center in Sugar Land, Texas in 2002; and later laid the first brick for another of their centers in Plano, Texas in 2005. On the other hand, Perry’s ties to the rest of the mainstream Muslim community as a whole are scarce, and his posture is mostly perceived as neutral, with neither “pro” nor “against” community stances.

Mitt Romney’s relations with the American Muslim community have not been smooth. Recently, the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the presidential hopeful for the ouster of Dr. Walid Phares a recently appointed foreign policy adviser to his team. Phares authored “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America” and also acts as an advisor to the U.S. Congress on the Middle East. According to CAIR he worked as an official in the Lebanese Forces, a Christian militia, and other militias that reportedly took part in various massacres of Muslims. The controversial appointment has certainly created a wave of controversy within the American Muslim community that waits for Romney to take their concerns into consideration.

Newt Gingrich’s stance on issues related to American Muslims and Islam has been scornful. Falling victim to the Muslim hysteria on the debate on the Ground Zero Mosque, Gingrich compared the Islamic Community Center project to building a Nazi monument outside the Holocaust Museum. This was clearly a very insensitive position that will take more than a simple apology — not that it is expected — to amend.

Michele Bachmann has not demonstrated a capacity to engage the American Muslim community neither shown capacity to understand and respect diversity. Her comments on the civil uprisings that took place in France back in 2005 were very discomforting: “Those who are coming into France, which has a beautiful culture, the French culture is actually diminished. It’s going away. And just with the population in France, they are losing Western Europeans, and it’s being taken over by a Muslim ethic. Not that Muslims are bad, but they are not assimilating.”

Rick Santorum has joined Gingrich’s Islam-bashing team, expressing misleading comments on the question of sharia taking over the U.S. court system. On the most recent debate Santorum was even more assertive on his opinion on Muslims. When asked if he would support ethnic and religious profiling he replied: “The folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes … obviously Muslims would be someone you’d look at, absolutely.”

Among all candidates, libertarian leaning Ron Paul seems to be the one who have consistently pronounced himself distant from any expression that could be construed as Islamophobic. He issued firm statements condemning Pastor Terry Jones’ controversial call for a “Burn the Quran Day.” In September 2010 Paul stated: “This blame of all Muslims for the atrocities of 9/11 only makes things worse — especially since it wasn’t the Taliban of Afghanistan that committed the atrocities.” More recently, on a CBS interview, Paul said that al Qaeda itself cited American intervention in the region as its motivation for attacking the U.S. and “to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we’re free and prosperous I think is a very, very dangerous notion because it’s not true.”

John Huntsman is another candidate that for the most part has rejected to take a ride on the Islamophobia train that most republic candidates not only designed but are now fueling and giving hand-detailed maintenance.

The comments and actions that vilify Islam and Muslims — or any other religion and its practitioners — by the Republican Party presidential hopefuls show an evident betrayal of commitment to the freedom of religion consecrated in the U.S. Constitution. Exploiting Muslims for political gain will undoubtedly alienate them from a significant section of the voting public who hold religion dear to their hearts.

Follow Wilfredo Amr Ruiz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnalistaInter

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Abdul Ghaffar Sheikh, Dedicated AFMI Member, Passes Away

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

scan0129FARMINGTON, MICHIGAN—It is with profound sadness that the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) announces the passing away of Br. Abdul Ghaffar Sheikh. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.  He was the former president of AFMI-Canada anda life-long dedicated activist for the cause of education.  He suddenly passed away at the Mumbai airport on reaching from Toronto.  He was planning to attend AFMI’s convention scheduled to be held on December 24-25,2011 in Ranchi.

He was associated with a number of community organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. He was deeply concerned about the educational status of Indian Muslims and had many ideas and plans of improving it. In thepast eight years he had hardly missed any of the AFMI’s conventions in India where he often moderated or spoke at the sessions. He would also mingle with the student awardees, giving them advice and inquiring about their career plans.

AFMI has lost a dedicated member whose presence will be sorely missed.

We pray to Allah (swt) to grant him maghfirah and the highest stations in jannah and patience to his family and friends.

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin; 29008 W.8 Mile Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48336; Tel: 248-442-2364; afmi11@aol.com.

Unique Ceremony to Celebrate Positivity in the Community

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Grand Honoring Event for Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi

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Large Number of Persons Attended the Honoring of Deputy Sherrif Nasir Abbasi Event

More than two hundred persons were in attendance to honor one of the first Pakistani-Americans to have become Deputy Sheriff after the completion of his training. He is Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi in the Harris County Sheriff Department.

Honorable Sheriff Adrian Garcia with his wife attended this honoring event for Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi this past weekend. Very few events in the community happen to celebrate the true success of Pakistani-Americans; and this was quite a unique & encouraging occasion for the whole community. Special flowers bouquet and traditional Sindhi & Hazara Cap and Shawls were both Sheriff Garcia and Deputy Sheriff Abbasi.

Deputy Abbasi was very gracious in inviting and profusely recognizing during the program four Pakistanis during the event, namely Sergeant Sajid Rasheed (very first Pakistani-American in the Houston Police Department HPD 1993), HPD Officer Muzaffar Siddiqui, HPD Officer Asim Qureshi, and HPD Lt. Sohail Aziz.

This event was held at and sponsored by La Sani Restaurant, in collaboration with community organizations like Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), Hazara American Welfare Association (HAWA), Pakistani American Council of Texas (PACT), Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA), and SindhInstitute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

Program started with Matloob Khan of Bear Creek ISGH Masjid welcoming all the guests, followed by heartwarming recitation of Quran and its translation in English & prayers by young Hafiz Tauqir Shah, followed by national anthems of both USA & Pakistan. Emcee of the program was Ms. Natashah, who in her eloquent British style English made the event further exceptional.

HPD Lieutenant Harry Zamora, who recently got the Medal of Valor Award, attended the ceremony with is family members, & congratulated Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi and the Pakistani-American Community.

In his short presentation, Saeed Sheikh of HKSCA thanked Nadeem Malik, Faisal Ahmed, and all the team members of La Sani Restaurant, in coming up with the idea of the honoring a successful person in the community, and arranging everything in most befitting manner. He added that for any thriving community, city, county, country, and in fact the world, safe and serene environment is one of the most important ingredients; and that people in Harris County are lucky that they have the most competent leadership of Honorable Sherriff Adrian Garcia in providing that important security and peaceful environment for us, which help us in bringing up our families in the right manner and that in turn positively contribute towards the betterment of our society.

P. J. Swati of PCC-USA requested Sheriff Garcia to appoint Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi as Liaison for the Muslim-Pakistani-Communities. His cousin Mazhar Chaudhry talked about how he & Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi, used to have long talks about his future and how every time they used to conclude that he should go into law enforcement agencies. He informed that during his student life, Mr. Abbasi was very active in students’ union political process.

Others, who spoke included Farah Iqbal (inspirational poem), Faisal Ahmed (La Sani Restaurant), Gul Faraz Khan (HAWA), Taslim Siddiqui (PAGH), Talat Talpur (SANA), and Ghulam Bombaywala.

In his largely expressive presentation both in English & Urdu, Deputy Sheriff Nasir Abbasi created inspirational atmosphere by first kissing the American and then the Pakistani flags; and on his death, he would like to be wrapped in Texas flag, saying being loyal to the place where one lives is among the teachings of Islam. He further made the atmosphere warm by reciting in Urdu the famous Supplication Poem of Allama Iqbal (Lab-e-Aatee Ha Duwa). He thanked everyone for the ceremony and inviting his boss Sheriff Garcia and his wife. said initially due to less resources of his father, he studied at low grade schools, but his parents were very visionary and made sure that eventually he gets the best possible education, which is the biggest gift any parent can give to their children. He quoted famous personality Helen Keller, who was blind, that what is her biggest fear; and she said if someone has sight, but has no vision. He said he wants to give this message to his Pakistani-American Community to have a vision. He had a vision and dram to serve the humanity. For that he transformed his vision into smaller goals; and today is thankful to God that he has achieved his dream of becoming Deputy Sheriff and is able to serve his fellow human beings. He admired and recognized his wife Ms. Siddiqua and his father-in-law, who had travelled all the way from New York for this ceremony.

Honorable Sheriff Adrian Garcia in his speech thanked the Pakistani-Americans for giving the son of the community to his department. He said his policy is to diversify his department, since in Harris County, the third largest in USA, more than 100 languages are spoken, and he needs at least one officer if not more, who can speak one of these languages: “Many Nasirs are needed”. He said we are public servants and should never forget that, as we continue to make the community safer & healthier for businesses and families.

Event ended with scrumptious dinner of La Sani Restaurant.

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AMP Dinner as a Community Gathering

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Silicon Valley–Your reporter’s commentary on Lauren Booth’s stirring observations on Palestine during Ramadan was part of a community Ramadan Iftar banquet presented by the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) as a fund-rising dinner.

Now, shortly, after Eid al-Adha, as your writer writes, the nearby Occupy Oakland encampment is being brutally removed.  This week (last for you) Professors (several of your reporter’s friends are  Muslims employed within the organization)  plan to have a one day strike against the California State University (ies) system brought on by the collapse of this State’s finances.  Also, related to Sacramento’s woes was the violent repression of the student demonstration at U.C. Berkeley within the fortnight.   (Your correspondent has just heard an announcement of occupy-type campus actions across he American land.)  Curiously, the  American issues your Scribe has been mentioning do relate to the Arab “Spring” where the success of the Tunisian elections is one of the bright spots!
The Islamophobic repression of the Gaza show at the Children’s Museum in Oakland has been blunted by the placement of the Gazan child depictions of Operation Cast Lead gallery in that very same city whose owner, fortunately, was sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.  Thus, the report below:

Yours truly originally drafted this piece as part of his concentration on our Holy Land of the  Night Ride going to the United Nations (U.N.) to demand her right to be an independent entity within the world’s sovereign nation-states.  Well, that has happened but, as your reported predicted, it was referred to Committee as a delaying tactic, and now that it has emerged from that Committee with a mixed report-back.  Now, its chances of succeeding in the Security Council are being obfuscated.  President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) would accept nothing less than the status of full Statehood; therefore, the option of partial recognition with all its benefits is, at this time, rejected by the Arabs of the trans-Jordan.

Simultaneously, UNESCO (the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), an important sub-section of the U.N., has recognized Ramallah as an autonomous member.  This has encouraged Tel Aviv to punish Palestine by approving 2,000 new Settlements on Arab-speaking traditional land, and to refuse to reimburse the “Occupied” Territories the taxes they collected on their behalf to finance the P.A. itself!   In essence the Jews have stolen from their neighbors their rightful wealth!  At the same time, a Bill is going through the American Congress to punish the Levant’s oppressed even further.  Please, our readers, who are U.S. citizens or residents, ask your Representatives and Senators to oppose these moves, and the President, if it should appear on his desk, to veto it!

With the recent outrageous jet attacks upon (Palestinian) Gaza with Israel, further, killing five Egyptian soldiers as “collateral damage” leading to riots in Cairo’s streets.  Bi-lateral relations between the two nations (Egypt-Israel) have never been worse since the Camp David Accords  –  besides, it was not Hamas (the unfairly vilified rulers of Gaza) who were involved, but the most likely combatants were the Islamic Jihad (org).

Dr. Hatem Bazian was the spokesman at the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine) at the Banquet that night.  Bazian is the co-founder and primary chief organizer for that night’s Iftar fund-raising dinner. 

Further, he is the co-founder of Zaytuna College of Berkeley, the only accredited Islamic institute of higher education in the United States.   He is now serving as an Academic Chair there and at U.C. Berkeley.

Bazian’s doctoral training is in Philosophy and Islamic Studies at the University of California there in Berkeley.  For five years (2002-2007) he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at U.C.’s Boalt Hall (Law School).  Presently, he is a Lecturer in both the Departments of Near Eastern Studies Lecturer and in the Ethnic Studies

His central academic interests include Islamophobia and its de-constructing and the Othering of Islam – especially in the U.S. and secondarily in the West in general.

He has, also, served as a Visiting Professor at Saint Mary’s College (directly across the East Bay hills in the town of Moraga in Contra Costa County in what is known as the Outer Bay) in Religious Studies plus he is an advisor to the University of California’s Center on Religion, Politics and Globalization.

At Berkeley, he founded the Study and Documentation of Islamophobia, too.

Dr. Bazian, a Muslim Palestinian-American, has been a player in several local (S.F. Bay Area) human rights agendas including the defense of the Americans for Disability Act (ADA), the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the Anti-Globalization uprising, which, curiously, has influenced the current “Occupy Wall Street” Movement that has recently  sprung up not only here but all over the U.S.A. and elsewhere.

Bazian began his talk by stating that Muslim students within the community should be encouraged to move away from the traditional engineering and medical doctor’s degrees into broader liberal arts and other professions of direct visibility and leadership within American society.  (This is something this paper has advocated – especially in journalism.  To achieve agency, i.e., self-determination, Islam requires prominence within the greater society and a voice in public policy and politics and elsewhere in the U.S.)

One of the central goals of the AMP is to donate books to public libraries on Islam and especially Palestine to show that “I am Palestinian, and I love freedom, too!”  The AMP is attempting to put a human face on Palestine. They wish to “Bring awareness on Palestine from a Muslim perspective.”

The “Palestinian cause is a civil rights struggle.”  Hatem continues that “The Palestinian cause is a civil rights campaign!” (Your author ascertains at this point in the resistance in the Occupied Territories within the Fertile Crescent, it is a battle for Human Rights.  There is a difference between Civil Rights and Human Right that is often blurred, and your narrator would like to delineate it in greater detail at a future time.) Nonetheless, we are talking about Human Rights here, and it is much more pungently serious! 

Further, Hatem states, “Homo Sapiens are suffering by human hand…the AMP is educating Americans [on]what our (U.S.) government is doing [that] it doesn’t want us to know…You are changing one American at a time!”

Dr. Hatem Bazian got to his business of the night.  The AMP requires money for its upcoming grandiose plans for placards within buses in every major city in the United States to tell the story of the Palestinian plight et al.

In the following week, your author received a Facebook communication from the American Muslims for Palestine that it was changing its primary emphasis from an educational group to an organization to raise money to finance their educational efforts. 

(To be quite honest, your author cannot perceive the difference.  Their end goal is to educate Americans on the plight of Palestine.  They previously have depended upon the Zakat to finance their educational efforts.  This is what this dinner was about, and it was most certainly educational, too, with Lauren Booth’s witness upon which your columnist reported in a past issue.  Your writer believes what Hatem’s post was that the AMP would be making more of an effort to finance their very ambitious projects on education on the Palestine-Israel imbroglio to change “the hearts and minds” of Americans away from the prevalent Israeli propaganda.)

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Suhail Raoof President of ACCP

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

200912301441raoofNYM’s chief of pulmonary and critical care medicine, Dr. Suhail Raoof, was elected President of the prestigious American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Dr. Raoof  will  fill this role from October of 2011 through October of 2012. Over the next few years he will spend time with the current ACCP leadership, planning his future agenda.       

The ACCP constitutes the largest group of chest physicians in the world (pulmonary physicians, cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and pediatric chest specialists) and is the premier source of education for chest physicians all around the globe. With a membership in excess of 16,000, representing almost 50 countries, the organization has evolved into the definitive resource for chest physicians worldwide. With board review courses, enduring educational products, and adherence to patient focused care, the College has put itself in a position of tremendous influence on the manner in which  pulmonary physicians practice their craft.     

To be president of this organization represents the pinnacle of  an academic career. The ACCP is celebrating its 75th year of existence, and prior presidents represent a veritable “Who’s Who” in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

In addition to being Chief, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Program Director, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at NYM, Dr. Raoof is professor of clinical medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and is the author of numerous articles in the areas of pulmonary and critical care medicine, chest radiology and mechanical ventilation. 

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Community News (Vol. 13 Issue 43)

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Penn. State researcher reports virus kills breast cancer cells

Penn State College of Medicine researchers, led by Dr. Samina Alam,  say they have found a virus that kills human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, a development that could lead to new treatments of the disease.

Researchers used a naturally occurring version of the adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) on three different breast cancer types, representing various stages of the disease. In the culture dishes in the laboratory, the virus destroys all the cancer cells within seven days.

Craig Meyers, professor of microbiology and immunology at the medical college in Hershey and one of the researchers on the project, said breast cancer is problematic to treat because of its multiple stages. “Currently, treatment of breast cancer is dependent on multiple factors such as hormone-dependency, invasiveness and metastases, drug resistance and potential toxicities. Our study shows that AAV2, as a single entity, targets all different grades of breast cancer,” Meyers said in a news release.

The study, published Aug. 9 in the online journal Molecular Cancer, was led by Samina Alam of Penn State College of Medicine.

Additional research needs to be completed to determine how the virus is killing the cancer cells and whether therapeutic applications should involve the virus itself or a drug that mimics what it does.

Dupage County’s new rules expected to hurt mosque

DUPAGE COUNTY, IL–A new set of zoning laws, expected to be voted on shortly by the Dupage County Board has sparked concerns from activists.

The changes would allow houses of worship into all zoning districts by right, unlike before. However, they would have to follow new requirements for larger lot sizes, access to major arterial roads, use of public water and sewer lines and they would be limited as to how much of the land could be covered by building.

Amy Lawless of DuPage United told WBEZ news that the changes will “prevent many, many congregations from even considering to build,” said Lawless, “because it will be so costly in order to meet all of these restrictions.”

Lawless says the new rules would particularly hurt DuPage County’s fast-growing Muslim population, which has lately submitted more applications for new worship spaces than any other faith group.

Northwestern students raise funds for Africa famine

EVANSTON,IL–The Muslim-cultural Students Association, in association with the African Students Association and other groups of Northwestern University, is raising funds for the victims of famine in the horn of Africa.

The campaign, called NU Sounds the Horn for East Africa, kicked off  fundraising last week with a  booth in the Norris University Center. The ASA plans to begin selling t-shirts and reaching out to other groups on campus for donations later next week.

The campus-wide effort is in response to a cycle of severe droughts that have led to food shortages in regions of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, affecting an estimated 12 million people, according to the American Red Cross.

Hate crime charges in VA assault

WASHINGTON D.C.– CAIR has called on the Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County Maryland to bring hate crime charges against a Prince Frederick man scheduled to go to trial on Monday, October 17, for allegedly assaulting a Virginia Muslim limousine driver.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the alleged assault took place on March 11 of this year when the Muslim limo driver of Moroccan origin reported that he picked up two passengers in Washington, D.C., shortly after midnight and was asked to take them to National Harbor.

After learning that the driver’s name is Mohammed, one of the passengers asked whether he was Muslim. When the driver said he is Muslim, that admission allegedly prompted both passengers to use religious and ethnic slurs and make threats to the life of the driver.

When the limo arrived at the destination, one of the passengers allegedly punched the driver in the head, knocking him to the ground and fracturing his wrist. Both passengers were subsequently arrested and charged.

“The State of Maryland should pursue this incident for what it is — a hate crime,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who is representing the alleged victim. “There have been too many American Muslims who have borne the brunt of growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our nation. These crimes will stop only when those responsible for enforcing the law make it clear that perpetrators of hate crimes against American Muslims will be held to account.”

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The New Tunisian Democracy: Islamic or Secular?

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Washington–For the past several months since early summer, we have been examining Palestine’s bid for nationhood at the UN in New York City (NYC).  Last week their application went to the security council of the UN and, as was predicted by yours truly on these very pages a month and one-half ago, it was shunted to a committee of that august body on Manhattan.  As was predicted by Palestine’s diplomatic representative to the united states, he, also, foresaw that the proposal would be eventually forwarded to the general assembly (g.a.) Where, at the least, ramallah would be granted permanent observer status within the  g.a. Which would transform (the international) legal landscape for the fertile crescent.  The current move was meant to forestall the inevitable, and push Tel Aviv into more substantive negotiations.

President Barrack Hussein Obama is “caught between a rock and a hard place” with the American Zionist right-wing, led by the despicable AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee).  To oppose them is a death bell for any American politician.  The case of Cynthia Mckenna, the Afro-American congresswoman from a black Georgia district (likewise your author has written up a conversation with this former congressperson while in Sacramento a time back for this newspaper) was an “outspoken” advocate for both for the Palestinians and the Pakistanis within the house of representatives; and, thereby, she was twice “assassinated” politically by AIPAC’s filthy lucre.  It is rumored, for his proposals for a peace in the Levant the u.s. President is already targeted for his middle east policies by Jewish and Christian Zionists (the latter back the reactionary “tea party,” besides).  The Obama administration is trapped between his foreign initiatives to win over the Arab “spring” and his domestic enemies.

Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the only Muslim in in the American lower legislative chamber, has written a recent oft-quoted op-ed in the September 22nd new york times regarding the imbroglio within the holy land, “…direct negotiations have deteriorated to a dismally low point.”  My op-ed in the cyber and newsprint editions here last week may be a way out for the Obama government, and your commentator is circulating his ideas about to officials within the city of this article’s dateline – including in the form of a letter to Mr. Ellison.

Let us move on from Palestine, which has been alluded to as the source for the Arab “spring” to Tunisia, the first successful upheaval for Arab self-agency.

Before  the scheduled upcoming elections of October 23rd for the first “post-revolutionary” assembly, who will have the charge to draft a new constitution for this Maghreb countryside, your essayist hopes to compose several articles to present to American Muslims the realties on the ground in this modern punic territory which  is the most likely to make the transition to a contemporary Islamic democracy within that “spring” successfully.

Hamadi Jebali, the secretary-general of the al-Nahda party, who believes that Tunisia should be a fully Islamic society, also, reasons that its politics should not be locked in by the hadith along the lines of turkey, but the political landscape should be much less constitutionally radical than the nation that straddles the Bosporus.. The editor seems to be recommending a middle ground between the sacred and the secular – an Islamic modernism  if you will.

The engineer was quoted in an interview with The Italia News Webzine, “Our party is opposed to the introduction of the Sharia into the Constitution.  It is right for religion to play a role in society, but it should be separate from the State.  It is one thing to be inspired by the values and principles common to all the great monotheistic faiths, but the one source of the law should be the public will, and not the precepts of the Koran.”

He was in the District of Columbia last spring at the invitation of my Tunisian-born colleague, Radwan Masmaodi, the founder of the Washington and now Tunis’ (branch of) the center for democracy and Islam.  This presentation and interview was given at the US Capital’s (left of center) Stimson Center.

Hamadi Jebali (pictured to the left) was born during 1949 in Sousse, Tunisia. He is a graduate of the French (the former Colonial power of the Republic on the Southern Mediterranean littoral.  Parisian institutions have highly influenced, along with Islam, Tunis’ concept of the democratic) engineering institution, the Arts et Métiers in 1980 achieving an engineer’s degree in energy. He participated in many civil society activities during his ten-year stay in France, and was one of the founders of the French Muslim Association which demonstrates his deep personal Islamic religiosity, and participated in inter-religion dialogue that, further, demonstrates his toleration and liberality towards the beliefs of others, too.  He returned to Tunis in 1981, and became a member of the political bureau of the Islamic Tendency Movement.  Jebali became the president of this movement from 1981 to 1984.

Hamadi ran into legal difficulties for his political views in 1987 after Ben Ali came to power in late that year.

Despite this, Mr. Jebali became the political director of Nahda and the editor of the newspaper El Fair, the official newspaper of his party.  In 1990, he was condemned to sixteen years in prison, again, as a result of his political views and affiliation with al-Nahda, and spent 10 years in solitary confinement while in jail.  He was freed in 2006.  Then, he reintegrated into the Nahda party, and became its Secretary-General.

The presentation was in Arabic with translation by Masmaodi which gave your reporter plenty of time to get his comments down accurately.

What the “’Revolution’ was about was the dignity of the human being (very French) and social justice (more Islamic).   “We have to make this Revolt succeed…for social justice…We want political freedom…[for] One [dignity] goes with the other [freedom].”  Democracy is wherever freedom and justice reside side-by-side.

A State should represent all of its citizens, and refuse to be deleterious to any part of the body politique.  Everyone should have at least the “minimal rights” of residency!

Tunisia, the Metrpole of the pre-Islamic Carthagian Imperial world of the ancient past, has accomplished wonderful achievements over the centuries.  Even in the latter period education, women’s rights, etc. have been respected and have abounded.  Therefore, a “Peaceful democracy …is possible” in North Africa even though there are, additionally, many challenges which remain from individuals who benefited from the former regime, and still resist democratic change.

Thus, we shall require your support in the West.

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Khosrow Semnani, Businessmen Turned Philanthropist

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

semnaniSalt Lake City, UT–Khosrow Semnani’s story is a classic example of hard work and dedication and the realization of the American Dream. An Iranian immigrant who came to Utah in 1969 with $47 in his pocket, Semnani  helped pay his way through Westminster College with a part-time job as a janitor. Eventually he founded Envirocare (now EnergySolutions) in 1988 and shortly thereafter the company began accepting low-level radioactive waste for treatment and disposal in above ground, reinforced buildings with three-foot-thick concrete walls.The company, now sold,  reportedly has annual revenues of more than $100 million.

Semnani now devotes more of his time on a wide range of philanthropic activities. He founded and funds Maliheh Free Clinic, which provides free medical services to poor and uninsured patients in South Salt Lake.He has also partnered with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to send aid abroad to natural-disaster victims.Hi foundation donated $125,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for famine relief in Somalia and Somali refugee camps. Additionally, last year the Semnani Family Foundation donated $20,000 to LDS Humanitarian Services for earthquake relief in Haiti.
He also actively participates in bridging the gaps of understanding between various faith groups. Most recently he presented a paper at Brigham Young University on his experience of being a Muslim in America.

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From Gaza to Oakland

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

2011-09-21T163234Z_783637630_GM1E79M01OR01_RTRMADP_3_BELGIUM

Zena, a 6-year-old Belgian-Palestinian girl, waves a Palestinian flag during a protest in central Brussels September 21, 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans on Friday to submit an application for full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine based in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the coastal Gaza Strip — lands occupied by Israel since 1967.  

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Camp Meeker, CA–September 20th–The vote in the U.N. (United Nations) is happening over Palestinian statehood as my readers are consuming this article, but one of most egregious examples of Islamophobia has just happened in the city of Oakland in the East Bay within the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California.

Of your author’s thirty years on this side of the Bay, all but three of them that city was my domicile.  I can only mourn at my own.

On September tenth I received an electronic mailing from the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) that the show that MECA (Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance) of Berkeley (a smaller twin city to Oakland) had put together with the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA) on child’s art created in the mini-nation of Gaza during the IDF (Israel Defense Force’s) incursion into the Strip at the end of 2008 through the beginning of 2009 had been canceled shortly before its scheduled opening on the 24th of this month.

Your commentator must point out at that the JVP is a Jewish Organization and MECA’s Director and founder, Barbara Lubin, is a Jewish-American who in her youth went to Israel fully adhering to the Zionist myth only to discover the truth of repression there.  When she came back to the States, she founded MECA whose “mission statement” would include the support of children in Gaza, the West Bank, and Iraq.  Probably, her best known project is the funding for the Children’s Hospital in Gaza.  The latest major project of MECA, a multi-sectarian group which actively recruits Muslims, is to improve the drinking water quality within Gaza.  Although the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance has a strong political vision, its major focus is humanitarian.

The forgoing paragraph is only to emphasize that both the heroes and villains of this story are Jewish-Americans and possibly the “State” of Israel itself.  American Muslims should keep in mind that not all Jews are their enemies, and many are “righteous” and moral towards you and the American body-politick.  It is people like these Jewish-American heroes that have driven the “sin” of anti-Semitism from your columnist’s soul, and I thank them, and commend them for their courage!

MOCHA informed MECA that the show of art work by Gazan children on their reaction to the overly violent Israeli incursion, Operation Cast Lead, wherein approximately 300 0f the over 1400 Palestinian casualties were children, was inappropriate for its depiction of “violence.”   Yet the rescinded exhibition, “A Child’s View from Gaza,” gives agency and a voice to those very young victims.

The reason the board of the Children’s Museum gave to cancel the show so close to its opening, was that the (Zionist) community voiced concern over the violence of the imagery, but the museum has sponsored exhibits in the past of art created in war zones – showing imagery of Iraqi children drawings of the violence of the American aggression and, also, another exposition of Second World War images by child observers.

The Executive Director of MECA, Barbara Lubin, accuses the Board of MOCHA that “…its decision was political…”   Curiously, in the immediate days after the cancelation the Jewish Community Relations Council and Jewish Federation of the East Bay bragged to the regional media of forcing their agenda of an anti-Arab (and, thus, Islamophobic) agenda upon the Museum; and, thus, the museum’s horrendously inhumane decision against the child victims of Gaza.  It was an attack on the children’s right to express their psychological angst upon their loss of their childhood.  A child, Asil, who painted a picture of himself in jail (Sic!) stated “I have a right to live in peace…I have a right to live this life,” and, further, “I have a right to play!”

It was a denial, since the exhibition was in America, of U.S. citizens (including Muslim-American’s) First Amendment Rights being denied by a foreign power.  As an American citizen your writer has the right to view the material to make his own decision about its content, and he resents agents of a foreign government denying  him his natal right as a citizen of this country!

Ziad Abbas, the Associate Director of MECHA, stated that “…By silencing these Palestinian children, the pro-Israeli groups succeeded to stretch the siege from Gaza to Oakland!”

This incident was foreshadowed by a past incident in 2005.  MECA had allied themselves then with the Berkeley Art Center (a city of Berkeley and County of Alameda as well as the private sector supported instituted) and the Graphics Alliance to produce a show in Live Oak Park entitled “Justice Matters:  [14 Palestinian and American] Artists Consider Palestine.”

Viciously, that show was attacked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League (who were successfully sued during the same period under California law for spying on Muslims and non-Muslims who supported Palestine) and individuals who claimed to represent the “mainstream” (in reality they were speaking for the Zionist faction, a perversion of) Judaism. 

There was even a call by this belligerent fringe element to close the presentation down.   Fortunately, the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, stood up to this radical pro-Israel faction.  As Ramallah goes to the United Nations, it is easy to perceive the pressure Obama is under with these financially well-endowed vengeful sectarian bigots at his back.

Your researcher is going to suggest something he would not normally do.  That is that you, my target audience, write to Masako Kalbach, the Interim Executive Director of the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland at masako@mocha.org with a cc to Barbara Lubin at the Middle Eastern Children’s Alliance at mecamail@mecaforpeace.org to demonstrate your support for MECA and the victimized children of Gaza and to the Oakland Tribune’s Letters to the Editor where you can cut and paste your comment at http://www.insidebayarea. com /feedback /tribune.  Further, although the Children’s Museum of Oakland is private, it is intimately involved with its host cities, and I would hope residents contact their representative either in the County of Alameda or the city itself or even the Sacramento to ask them to investigate if any there was any infringement of any law or policy.

The current plan is to have the opening display of “A Child’s View of Gaza” in the courtyard of the Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland.  (This is termed “plop” art.)   This may be controversial and confrontational, though.

In the long run, this display will need a more stable venue in the (S.F.) Bay Area, and, hopefully the noise of this event will garner enough interest to tour further in North America and Europe.  An Islamic Center in this region taking on this project would be a strong statement!

This incident is only one incident of Zionist and Christian Zionist attempts to silence Palestinian aspirations both politically and culturally.  Caught between these fringe groups, the best course of action at the U.N. is for the U.S. to abstain–which would allow the decision for Palestinian Statehood up to the General Assembly.  As a nation, Ramallah could stand up for their interests in Oakland!

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Palestine/Gaza & the “Arab Spring”

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Tri-City Area (California)–San Francisco Bay Area–This is a continuation of my coverage of Lauren Booth and the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine’s) dinner.  Your journalist sees this as a part of his examination of the geo-political situation as Ramallah prepares herself for self-agency by marching forward to the UN in New York this month demanding statehood.

I have already presented a short report on Libya printed here on these pages with a good deal of my own research.  Except for Paul Laudree (below), your reporter has refrained from using names to protect any relations who may still be left behind in their native lands, but because Paul is well known for his opposition to Israeli policy against Palestine – and especially toward Gaza – and the Israelis have already threatened him with dire consequences if he is ever caught in the Occupied Territories again, I have decided to name him.

Your reporter has written on Paul twice before.  Definitely, he is one of your writer’s heroes, and, he is a brave man, too, and we suffer through the same maladies of aging!  Paul is one of the co-founders of the Free Gaza Movement, the American contingent of the greater international humanitarian movement to relieve Gaza by sea.
Dr. Laudree is the son of American and Iranian parents.  He was born in Iran during the first year of the “baby boomers”.  His career was spent at the American University in Beirut.  Therefore, he is wll aquainted with the Middle East and speaks Arabic fluently and probably Farsi, too.

Paul came close to losing his life after his capture during the last running through Tel Aviv’ Navy’s blockade into the Gaza Strip.   Fortunately, he did survive a severe beating, and was deported to Turkey with a warning never to enter the (Occupied) Territories again — or else!

In the most recent attempt to relieve Gaza, most of the boats were from the Mediterranean littoral, but yet your scribe does not fully subscribe to Paul’s analyst that it was Israel’s big brother, the United States, who held the majority of their ships in Athens’s harbor.  Boat and land convoys have pierced the isolated Palestinian nation on the coastal Strip in the past.  Your correspondent suspects it had more to do with the recent European Union (EU’s) financial bailout of the Hellenes.

When Paul Laudree had stopped by Greece’s capital, Athens, two years ago, her current Prime Minister, then out of power, and while Israel then was anathema over the Hellenic landscape and the same George Papandreou of the Panhellenic Socialist Party wished, at that time, to have photo ops with our orator.  The Prime Minister still rules-over a basically anti-Israeli/America populace; thus, your author believes that it may have been more the EU who influenced their domestically unpopular foreign policy behavior.  

(Emeritus) Professor Paul Laudree muses, for the present we have been forced to desist, but we still have plenty of vessels to deploy. 

The planning for the million-person march to Jerusalem has commenced!  He is involved in a global movement of over a thousand souls trek to the Abrahamic Holy City.  There will, also, even be a contingent from the U.S. 

“Look at the bordering republics, yet none will help her.”  Ultimately, from “Where is the defenders of our [their] rights,” coming?

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Remembering the Tragedy of 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

One of the most corrosive elements in our society is Islamophobia, a well funded and staffed industry which, to the surprise of no one, shifted into high gear after the tragedy of 9/11.  Muslims have been its victims, and Muslims have, through their community outreach, been its stalwart opponents. Their solution has been simple, but not easy: to persevere in the truth.

The Los Angeles area remembered and commemorated the tragedy of 9-11 that took place a decade ago. Two events were held: a Health Fair that honored first responders which took place at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), and an ecumenical prayer service held in the historic Los Angeles down town area at St Johns Cathedral. 

The ICSC is the site of the first Masjid in Los Angeles. Saturday it played host to first responders and city officials, including keynote speaker, Kevin James, a Muslim firefighter who was at the World Trade Center when the planes struck. Mr James spoke of the first responders he worked with, many of whom were injured or killed in the line of duty.

Mr. James further said that he was puzzled when recent Muslim immigrants to the United States spoke as if being Muslims made them outsiders. He reminded his audience that Islam was a part of the America fabric and that Muslim explorers from Africa were here before Christopher Columbus. In addition, he continued, one third of the slaves brought to this country were Muslim though many were forced to adopt, albeit superficially, the Christianity of their masters.

Also honored were: Captain ll Sean W. Conway of the Los Angeles Fire Department; Reserve Chief Michael Leum of the LA Sheriff’s Department, and Officer Mike Odel of the Los Angeles Police Department. Like Mr. James, emotion cloaked their acceptance speeches as they recalled comrades injured and killed.

City Council President Eric Garcetti recalled the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. He said that in Los Angeles people seemed to be dividing and standing alone because of the tragedy. It was the ICSC and its members that wove together the tapestry that was and again could be Los Angeles. In the midst of considerable hate and suspicion, these Muslims made us all stand together.

Dr. Maher Hathout, the founder of ICSC and a man celebrated in the area by Muslims and non Muslims alike, summed up the program. He said that in the beginning of fear is the voice of courage. It tells one to enter a burning building that others are exiting. It is, he said, the voice of God.

Sponsors of the event were the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); The Islamic Center of Southern California; the UMMA Clinic, the American Muslim Health Professionals, The Council of American Pakistan Affairs; American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council; UPLIFT, and the Guibord Center.

On Sunday September 11th an interfaith service was held at St John’s Episcopal Church. The event was sponsored by the Guilbord Center, an interfaith organization dedicated to celebrating what the different American religions have that unite them. The service was titled: Finding Hope in the Holy. Representatives of different faiths read from their holy books. Jihad Turk, the Religious Director of the Islamic Center of Southern California, spoke for the Islamic faith. Each speaker poured water into a cistern upon the completion of his or her address.

The congregants answered each spokesperson with a prayer of hope and commitment

Children born since September 11, 2001 were presented with saplings watered by the above cited cistern. These children are the hope of the future and the event was a pledge that all those who were present would work to make that future a just and peaceful one for them.

Among the co sponsoring groups was: MPAC, the South Coast Interfaith Council, The Islamic Center of San Gabriel, Progressive Christians Uniting, and the ICSC.

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Tri-City Area (California)

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Between Oakland & San Jose–Your commentator has been in the habit of putting this concrete political science phenomenon over the Arabic-sphere( above) surrounded by parenthesis, for it is more of a poetic than a political description of the sea-change that has(more than likely)impacted the region.

This is a continuation of yours-truly coverage of Lauren Booth and the AMP (American Muslims for Palestine’s) dinner.  Further, your journalist sees this as a part of his examination of the geo-political situation as Ramallah prepares herself for self-agency by marching forward to the U.N. (United Nations) in New York City (N.Y.C.) this month and demanding full Statehood.

I have already presented a short report on Libya based on the comments of a female graduate student  in Northern California previously printed here on these pages with a good deal of my own research.  Except for Paul Laudree (below), your reporter has refrained from using names to protect any relations who may still be left behind in their native lands, but because Paul is well known for his opposition to Israeli policy against Palestine – and especially toward Gaza – and the Hebrews have already threatened him with dire consequences if he is ever caught in the Occupied Territories again, I have decided to name him.

Your reporter has written on Paul twice before.  Definitely, he is one of your writer’s heroes, and, he is a brave man, too, and we suffer through the same maladies of aging!  Paul is one of the co-founders of the Free Gaza Movement, the American contingent of the greater international humanitarian movement to relieve Gaza by sea.

Dr. Laudree is the son of American and Iranian parents.  He was born in Iran during the first year of the “baby boomers” as your journalist was (but in North America).  Paul’s career was spent at the American University in Beirut.  Therefore, he is well aquainted with the Middle East and speaks Arabic fluently and probably Farsi, too.

Paul came close to losing his life after his capture during the last running through Tel Aviv’ Navy’s blockade into the Gaza Strip.   Fortunately, he did survive a severe beating, and was deported to Turkey with a warning never to enter the (Occupied) Territories again — or else!

In the most recent attempt to relieve Gaza, most of the boats were from the Mediterranean littoral, but yet your scribe does not fully subscribe to Paul’s analyst that it was Israel’s big brother, the United States, who held the majority of their ships in Athens’s harbor.  Boat and land convoys have pierced the isolated Palestinian nation on the coastal Strip in the past.  Your correspondent suspects it had more to do with the recent European Union (EU’s) financial bailout of the Hellenes.

When Paul Laudree had stopped by Greece’s capital, Athens, two years ago, her current Prime Minister, then out of power, and while Israel then was anathema over the Hellenic landscape and the same George Papandreou of the Panhellenic Socialist Party wished, at that time, to have photo ops with our orator.  The Prime Minister still rules-over a basically anti-Israeli/America populace; thus, your author believes that it may have been more the EU who influenced their domestically unpopular foreign policy behavior.  

(Emeritus) Professor Paul Laudree muses, for the present we have been forced to desist, but we still have plenty of vessels to deploy. 

The planning for the million-person march to Jerusalem has commenced!  He is involved in a global movement of over a thousand souls trek to the Abrahamic Holy City.  There will, also, even be a contingent from the U.S. 

“Look at the bordering republics, yet none will help her.”  Ultimately, from “Where is the defenders of our [their] rights,” coming?

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Community News (V13-I37)

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Quinn names members to Muslim American Advisory Council

CHICAGO, IL–Illinois  Governor Pat Quinn, last week,  named members to serve on the Muslim American Advisory Council, which will help ensure Muslim American participation in state government. Governor Quinn announced the new council during “Eid,” the close of the holy month of Ramadan.

“Illinois is a diverse state, which is one of our greatest strengths,” Governor Quinn said. “There are more than 400,000 Muslims and 300 mosques within our borders, representing various racial and ethnic sects of Islam. I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity for input in how we address issues such as education, public safety and jobs, because the strategies may need to differ based on the history, culture and needs of different communities.”

The Muslim American Advisory Council will advise the Governor on ways to advance the role and civic participation of Muslim Americans in Illinois. Additionally, the council will recommend strategies to better integrate Muslims in Illinois socially, educationally, culturally and economically. The council will facilitate relationship-building in the Muslim community to achieve goals related to International Commerce in Muslim countries/communities, and identify ways to more effectively disseminate information and outreach to Muslim Americans regarding state programs and services.
The council will advise the Governor on appropriate policy developments, official directives, and other issues of significance impacting Illinois’ Muslims. It will bring important faith-based issues based on factual findings to the Governor’s attention and make recommendations to address those issues. It will also strengthen communication between the state and Muslim leadership and the general community.

Samreen Khan, senior policy advisor and liaison to Asians and Muslims for the Office of Governor Pat Quinn, and Kareem Irfan, president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, have been named as co-chairs of the council.

S.E. Idaho Muslims plan to build mosque

Southeastern Idaho’s Muslim population has swelled beyond numbers that can be accommodated in the current mosque, a small home near downtown Pocatello, the Idaho State Journal reports.
As a result, religious leaders from the region are trying to raise some $200,000 to erect a new facility that’s capable of holding about 300 people.

Still, local leaders said it’s been tough to raise the cash for a building and accompanying parking space.

Approximately, 150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.150 people currently use the existing mosque facilities.

Justice Dept. & Henrico Reach Settlement For Mosque Lawsuit

HENRICO,VA–The Justice Department recently  announced a settlement with Henrico County, Va., resolving allegations that the county violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) when it denied the application of a Muslim organization to rezone property to construct a mosque. The settlement, which must still be approved by a federal district judge in Richmond, resolves a lawsuit between the United States and the county of Henrico.

“Religious freedom is one of our most cherished rights, and that right includes the ability to assemble and build places of worship without facing discrimination,” said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “We are pleased that the county of Henrico has agreed to take steps to ensure that all people exercising this basic American right will not encounter discrimination during the zoning and land use process.”

“The law – not stereotypes or bias – should dictate whether a worship facility can be built in a community.” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “No one should be discriminated against based on their religion, and this agreement will ensure that religious freedom is upheld in Henrico County.”

The case arose from the county’s denial of a 2008 application from a Muslim organization for construction of a mosque. The government’s complaint, which was filed with the court along with a consent decree resolving the lawsuit, alleged that the county’s denial of the rezoning application was based on the religious bias of county officials and to appease members of the public who, because of religious bias, opposed the construction of a mosque. The complaint further alleged that the county treated the Muslim organization differently than non-Muslim religious groups that regularly have been granted similar rezoning requests.

As part of the settlement, the county has agreed to treat the mosque and all religious groups equally and to publicize its non-discrimination policies and practices. The county also agreed that its leaders and various county employees will attend training on the requirements of RLUIPA. In addition, the county will report periodically to the Justice Department.

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Nazem Kadri Begins Training Camp

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Kadri_2010Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson doesn’t anticipate much roster juggling this year as the National Hockey League team begins its training camp for the new season. And, unfortunately this means limited opportunities for Lebanese-Canadian forward Nazem Kadri on the 2010-2011 roster.

For now, the Leafs coach has his first three lines set, with the possible exception of one spot on the third unit. The trio of Joffrey Lupul-Tim Connolly-Phil Kessel will get things started followed by Nikolai Kulemin-Mikhail Grabovski-Clarke MacArthur and Colby Armstrong-Tyler Bozak-Nazem Kadri.

But both Wilson and general manager Brian Burke said one spot on that third unit could be up for grabs between Kadri, Joe Colborne, Matt Frattin and Philippe Dupuis. “That would be what I would see the first three lines right now,” Wilson told the Toronto Sun. “But it will be the same as last year: If someone plays better than (Kadri), he’ll start in the minors. I’m hoping the year of experience both in the American League and with us is only going to make him better.”

Kadri was the seventh overall selection by the Maple Leafs in the 2009 NHL draft. He has spent the past two seasons shuttling between the parent club and their American Hockey League affiliate the Toronto Marlies. The Leafs begin their regular season on October 6th, hosting the Montreal Canadians. That day will ironically be Nazem’s 21st birthday, and I’m sure that he could not think of a better way to celebrate his birthday than on the ice with the Maple Leafs.

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The Father of Invention

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mohannad Al-Haj Ali

APPLE/

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds an iPad in this January 27, 2010 file photo. Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple, the company announced August 24, 2011.    

REUTERS/Kimberly White

Steve Jobs is routinely voted one of the most influential and powerful people in the world.WHEN the world awoke to the iPod revolution and the innovations that followed such as the iPhone and the iPad, it turned its attention to the creative mind behind them, the founder and chief executive of Apple, Steve Jobs, and his life story as the adopted child of a modest American family.

The Observer newspaper in Britain, Fortune magazine in the US, and other media outlets published lengthy articles on his life in which his biological father of Syrian origin, Abdul Fattah “John” Jandali, emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s to pursue his university studies.

The western media did not give great mention to Jandali other than to say he was an outstanding professor of political science, that he married his girlfriend (Steve’s mother) and by whom he also had a daughter, and that he slipped from view following his separation from his wife.

An American historian, however, has now stirred controversy over the role of genes and their superiority over nurture in the case of Steve Jobs, by describing Jandali in a detailed critical article published briefly on the Internet before it was suddenly removed, as “the father of invention”, given that Jandali’s daughter Mona (Simpson) – Steve’s sister – is also one of the most famous contemporary American novelists and a professor at the renowned University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA).

The 79-year-old Jandali has deliberately kept his distance from the media.What is known about him lacks detail, and is both one-sided and a source of curiosity at the same time. Here is his story as Jandali himself told it to Al-Hayat.

Jandali in Syria

Abdul Fattah Jandali was born in 1931 to a traditional family in Homs, Syria. His father did not reach university, but was a self-made millionaire who owned “several entire villages”, according to his son. His father held complete authority over his children, authority not shared by his traditional and “obedient” wife.

“My father was a self-made millionaire who owned extensive areas of land which included entire villages,” Jandali said. “He had a strong personality and, in contrast to other parents in our country, my father did not reveal his feelings towards us, but I knew that he loved me because he loved his children and wanted them to get the best university education possible to live a life of better opportunities than he had, because he didn’t have an education. My mother was a traditional Muslim woman who took care of the house and me and my four sisters, but she was conservative, obedient, and a housewife. She didn’t have as important a part in our upbringing and education as my father. Women from my generation had a secondary role in the family structure, and the male was in control.”

The American University

Jandali did not stay long in Syria. “I left for Beirut when I was 18 to study at the American University, and I spent the best years of my life there,” he said.

He was a pan-Arabism activist, and his star soon began to shine. He headed an intellectual and literary society which had a nationalist bent and counted among its members symbols of the Arab nationalists’ movements such as George Habash, Constantine Zareeq, Shafiq Al-Hout and others.

“I was an activist in the student nationalist movement at that time,” he said. “We demonstrated for the independence of Algeria and spent three days in prison. I wasn’t a member of any particular party but I was a supporter of Arab unity and Arab independence. The three and a half years I spent at the American University in Beirut were the best days of my life. The university campus was fantastic and I made lots of friends, some of whom I am still in contact with. I had excellent professors, and it’s where I first got interested in law and political science.”

The university’s Campus Gate magazine published in its 2007 spring issue an article by Tousef Shabal in which he says: “The Al-Urwa Al-Wuthqa Association was founded in 1918 and dedicated to cultural and political activities. Between 1951 and 1954 the society was headed by Abdul Fattah Jandali, the now deceased Eli Bouri, Thabit Mahayni and Maurice Tabari. The decision to disband the society was taken after the events of March 1954…” a reference to the violent demonstrations that took place on the university campus against the Baghdad Pact.

According to Shabal, the society consisted of “diverse political groups such as Arab nationalists and communists, and competition for the managing positions was red hot, but in the end went in favor of the Arab nationalists.”

When Jandali graduated from the American University in Beirut, Syria was going through troubled political and economic times, according to Jandali, and although he wanted to study law at Damascus University and become a lawyer, his father did not agree, saying that there were “too many lawyers in Syria”.

He continued: “Then I decided to continue my higher studies in economy and political sciences at the United States where a relative of mine, Najm Al-Deen Al-Rifa’i, was working as a delegate of Syria to the United Nations in New York. I studied for a year at Columbia University and then went to Wisconsin University where I obtained grants that enabled me to earn my master’s and doctorate. I was interested in studying the philosophy of law and analysis of law and political sciences, and I focused in my studies at the American University on international law and the economy.”

The birth of Steve and Mona

While studying in Wisconsin, Jandali met Joanne Carole Sciebele by whom he had a boy while they were both still students, but Sciebele’s father was conservative and wouldn’t agree to them getting married, so she gave her baby boy – Steve Jobs – up for adoption.

Initially, a lawyer and his wife approached, but did not proceed with adoption when they found out the child was a boy and not a girl as they wanted. Another couple came forward, neither of whom had gone through university education, and adopted the newborn baby after agreeing to the mother’s condition that the child be given a university education later in life.

Abdul Fattah (who added “John” to his name) returned and married Sciebele, and they had a daughter and named her Mona, but he then traveled to Syria – part of the United Arab Republic at the time – intending to enter the diplomatic corps.

The United Arab Republic

“I had two basic paths open to me after graduating,” Jandali said. “Either go back to my home country and work with the Syrian government, or stay in the United States and in university education, and that is what I did for a while. I went back to Syria when I got my doctorate, and I thought I’d be able to find work in the government, but that didn’t happen. I worked as a manager at a refinery plant in my hometown of Homs for a year, during which Syria was part of the United Arab Republic and run by the Egyptians. Egyptian engineers, for example, ran the Ministry of Energy in Syria, and the situation wasn’t right for me, so I went back to the United States to rejoin education there.”

According to Jandali, his wife decided to break up with him while he was away in Syria, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing his academic work.

“I enjoyed university education very much, it was a rewarding profession, but unfortunately during the sixties and seventies in the United States the pay was very poor for academics, and in general they did not enjoy great respect due to the prevailing belief that professors only taught because they couldn’t do anything else. That is stupid and wrong, of course. I was an assistant professor at Michigan University then at Nevada University. I purchased a restaurant and became interested in making money, and I gave up academic work to run the business. After the restaurant I was a manager at companies and organizations in Las Vegas, and then I opened two restaurants in Reno and joined the organization that I manage today.”

Jandali describes himself as an “idealist”. “Any job I want to do, I try my utmost to see it through completely or not do it at all. Academically, I was very successful. In business management, after a couple of difficult years, I improved. For example, now I run the organization I work in. Success in the world of business requires you to be interested in your assistants and staff and to have a clear vision.”

80 years: No to retirement

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In the tumult following Steve Jobs’ resignation, the media have been digging up interviews with Steve Jobs’ biological father, Abdulfattah John Jandali, who is a Syrian-born vice president of a casino in Reno.

Jandali is that rare case of a person continuing work beyond the age of retirement, and it is something he is proud of.

“Next March I’ll be in my eighties, but to look at me you’d think I was only in my sixties because I’ve taken care of myself, looked after my health, and I love work. I think retirement is the worst of western societies’ institutions. When people retire they become detached, grow old and stop looking after themselves. Enthusiasm for life dies out and energy levels drop, and they effectively kill themselves, even though they’re still alive. I’m not planning to retire even if I leave my position here after a year or two. I’ll dedicate myself to writing, I might write a book or two. My daughter is a very successful novelist with five books, and I plan to move on from my work, and I’m thinking of writing about the Arab World, perhaps a historical narrative with analysis for the future.”

But even so, Jandali has not been to Syria for over 35 years. “Not because I don’t want to, but because of the worry which affects an emigrant when he wants to go back to his home country after so many years, and over what might await him there. I’m thinking of visiting Lebanon and Abu Dhabi next summer to see relatives,” he said.

He doesn’t hide his nostalgia. “I miss my family in Syria. When I left, my closest relatives were still alive. I miss my culture and society and the tight social bonds between relatives as well as the standard of living. Here in the United States there is technological advancement and abundant opportunities for growth and work, but it’s not life itself, and while one appreciates the individual freedoms in western societies, there are times when you really feel that you are alone, that you don’t have the moral family support that you have in the east. I’m not talking about one’s mother or father, but the wider family, relatives, that entity that makes you feel you are part of it, that’s what I miss most about my home country. Of course I miss the social life and wonderful food, but the most important thing is the outstanding cultural attributes which in general you don’t find in the West.

“If I had the chance to go back in time, I wouldn’t leave Syria or Lebanon at all. I would stay in my home country my whole life. I don’t say that out of emotion but out of common sense. I think I’ve wasted my energies and talents in the wrong place and in the wrong society. But that’s just theoretical talk, and what’s happened has happened.” So what remains of his Syrian identity and Arabic culture after nearly 60 years in America?

“I’m a non-practicing Muslim and I haven’t been on the Haj, but I believe in Islam in doctrine and culture, and I believe in the family. I have never experienced any problem or discrimination in the United States because of my religion or race. Other than my accent which might sometimes suggest that I’m from another country, I have completely integrated in society here. I advise young Arabs coming here, however, to get a university degree and not prolong their stay, as there are lots of opportunities in the Arab World today, particularly in the Gulf. The good minds of the Arab world must stay there, as they might be able to help their countries there more than they can here.

Father of invention

Responding to his being called the “father of invention”, Jandali says: “My daughter Mona is a famous writer, and my biological son is Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple. The reason he was put up for adoption was because my girlfriend’s father was extremely conservative and wouldn’t let her marry me, and she decided to give him up for adoption. Steve is my biological son, but I didn’t bring him up, and he has a family that adopted him. So if it’s said that I’m the ‘father of invention’, then that’s because my biological son is a genius and my daughter a brilliant writer. I thank God for my success in life, but I’m no inventor.

“I think that if my son Steve had been brought up with a Syrian name he would have achieved the same success. He has a brilliant mind. And he didn’t finish his university studies. That’s why I think he would have succeeded whatever his background. I don’t have a close relationship with him. I send him a message on his birthday, but neither of us has made overtures to come closer to the other. I tend to think that if he wants to spend time with me he knows where I am and how to get hold of me.

“I also bear the responsibility for being away from my daughter when she was four years old, as her mother divorced me when I went to Syria, but we got back in touch after 10 years. We lost touch again when her mother moved and I didn’t know where she was, but since 10 years ago we’ve been in constant contact and I see her three times a year. I organized a trip for her last year to visit Syria and Lebanon and she went with a relative from Florida. I always take the side of the mother because the son will always be happiest with his mother.

I’m proud of my son and his accomplishments, and of my work. Of course I made mistakes, and if I could go back in time I would have put some things right. I would have been closer to my son, but all’s well that ends well. Steve Jobs is one of the most successful people in America, and Mona is a successful academic and novelist.”

On the likelihood of Steve Jobs being regarded as an “American-Arab”, Jandali says: “I don’t think he pays much attention to these gene-related things. People know that he has Syrian origins and that his father is Syrian, that’s all well-known. But he doesn’t pay attention to these things. He has his own distinctive personality and he’s highly-strung. People who are geniuses can do what they want.”

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Fear, Inc.

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

Editor’s Note:  This is the introduction of the new groundbreaking study by the American Center for Progress, documenting the stoking of the national climate of anti-Muslim sentiment by a small but vocal group of provocateurs.

By Wajahat Ali, Eli Clifton, Matthew Duss, Lee Fang , Scott Keyes, Faiz Shakir

On July 22, a man planted a bomb in an Oslo government building that killed eight people. A few hours after the explosion, he shot and killed 68 people, mostly teenagers, at a Labor Party youth camp on Norway’s Utoya Island.

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Anti-Muslim graffiti defaces a Shi’ite mosque at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.

Getty/Bill Pugliano

 

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Pamela Gellar, under fire for her involvement in and apologetics for the mass killings in Norway by Anders Breivik.

By midday, pundits were speculating as to who had perpetrated the greatest massacre in Norwegian history since World War II. Numerous mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, speculated about an Al Qaeda connection and a “jihadist” motivation behind the attacks. But by the next morning it was clear that the attacker was a 32-year-old, white, blond-haired and blue-eyed Norwegian named Anders Breivik. He was not a Muslim, but rather a self-described Christian conservative.

According to his attorney, Breivik claimed responsibility for his self-described “gruesome but necessary” actions. On July 26, Breivik told the court that violence was “necessary” to save Europe from Marxism and “Muslimization.” In his 1,500-page manifesto, which meticulously details his attack methods and aims to inspire others to extremist violence, Breivik vows “brutal and breathtaking operations which will result in casualties” to fight the alleged “ongoing Islamic Colonization of Europe.”

Breivik’s manifesto contains numerous footnotes and in-text citations to American bloggers and pundits, quoting them as experts on Islam’s “war against the West.” This small group of anti-Muslim organizations and individuals in our nation is obscure to most Americans but wields great influence in shaping the national and international political debate. Their names are heralded within communities that are actively organizing against Islam and targeting Muslims in the United States.

Breivik, for example, cited Robert Spencer, one of the anti-Muslim misinformation scholars we profile in this report, and his blog, Jihad Watch, 162 times in his manifesto. Spencer’s website, which “tracks the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western culture,” boasts another member of this Islamophobia network in America, David Horowitz, on his Freedom Center website. Pamela Geller, Spencer’s frequent collaborator, and her blog, Atlas Shrugs, was mentioned 12 times.

Geller and Spencer co-founded the organization Stop Islamization of America, a group whose actions and rhetoric the Anti-Defamation League concluded “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American values.” Based on Breivik’s sheer number of citations and references to the writings of these individuals, it is clear that he read and relied on the hateful, anti-Muslim ideology of a number of men and women detailed in this report&a select handful of scholars and activists who work together to create and promote misinformation about Muslims.

While these bloggers and pundits were not responsible for Breivik’s deadly attacks, their writings on Islam and multiculturalism appear to have helped create a world view, held by this lone Norwegian gunman, that sees Islam as at war with the West and the West needing to be defended. According to former CIA officer and terrorism consultant Marc Sageman, just as religious extremism “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged,” the writings of these anti-Muslim misinformation experts are “the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.” Sageman adds that their rhetoric “is not cost-free.”

These pundits and bloggers, however, are not the only members of the Islamophobia infrastructure. Breivik’s manifesto also cites think tanks, such as the Center for Security Policy, the Middle East Forum and the Investigative Project on Terrorism—three other organizations we profile in this report. Together, this core group of deeply intertwined individuals and organizations manufacture and exaggerate threats of “creeping Sharia,” Islamic domination of the West, and purported obligatory calls to violence against all non-Muslims by the Quran.

This network of hate is not a new presence in the United States.

Indeed, its ability to organize, coordinate, and disseminate its ideology through grassroots organizations increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Furthermore, its ability to influence politicians’ talking points and wedge issues for the upcoming 2012 elections has mainstreamed what was once considered fringe, extremist rhetoric.

And it all starts with the money flowing from a select group of foundations. A small group of foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America, providing critical funding to a clutch of right-wing think tanks that peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam—in the form of books, reports, websites, blogs, and carefully crafted talking points that anti-Islam grassroots organizations and some right-wing religious groups use as propaganda for their constituency.

Some of these foundations and wealthy donors also provide direct funding to anti-Islam grassroots groups. According to our extensive analysis, here are the top seven contributors to promoting Islamophobia in our country:

Donors Capital Fund
Richard Mellon Scaife foundations
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust
Russell Berrie Foundation Anchorage Charitable Fund and
William Rosenwald Family Fund
Fairbrook Foundation

Altogether, these seven charitable groups provided $42.6 million to Islamophobia think tanks between 2001 and 2009—funding that supports the scholars and experts that are the subject of our next chapter as well as some of the grassroots groups that are the subject of Chapter 3 of our report.

And what does this money fund? Well, here’s one of many cases in point:

Last July, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich warned a conservative audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the Islamic practice of Sharia was “a mortal threat to the survival of freedom in the United States and in the world as we know it.” Gingrich went on to claim that “Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world.”

Sharia, or Muslim religious code, includes practices such as charitable giving, prayer, and honoring one’s parents—precepts virtually identical to those of Christianity and Judaism. But Gingrich and other conservatives promote alarmist notions about a nearly 1,500-year-old religion for a variety of sinister political, financial, and ideological motives. In his remarks that day, Gingrich mimicked the language of conservative analyst Andrew McCarthy, who co-wrote a report calling Sharia “the preeminent totalitarian threat of our time.” Such similarities in language are no accident. Look no further than the organization that released McCarthy’s anti-Sharia report: the aforementioned Center for Security Policy, which is a central hub of the anti-Muslim network and an active promoter of anti- Sharia messaging and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In fact, CSP is a key source for right-wing politicians, pundits, and grassroots organizations, providing them with a steady stream of reports mischaracterizing Islam and warnings about the dangers of Islam and American Muslims. Operating under the leadership of Frank Gaffney, the organization is funded by a small number of foundations and donors with a deep understanding of how to influence U.S. politics by promoting highly alarming threats to our national security. CSP is joined by other anti-Muslim organizations in this lucrative business, such as Stop Islamization of America and the Society of Americans for National Existence. Many of the leaders of these organizations are well-schooled in the art of getting attention in the press, particularly Fox News, The Wall Street Journal editorial pages, The Washington Times, and a variety of right-wing websites and radio outlets.

Misinformation experts such as Gaffney consult and work with such right-wing grassroots organizations as ACT! for America and the Eagle Forum, as well as religious right groups such as the Faith and Freedom Coalition and American Family Association, to spread their message.

Speaking at their conferences, writing on their websites, and appearing on their radio shows, these experts rail against Islam and cast suspicion on American Muslims. Much of their propaganda gets churned into fundraising appeals by grassroots and religious right groups. The money they raise then enters the political process and helps fund ads supporting politicians who echo alarmist warnings and sponsor anti-Muslim attacks.

These efforts recall some of the darkest episodes in American history, in which religious, ethnic, and racial minorities were discriminated against and persecuted. From Catholics, Mormons, Japanese Americans, European immigrants, Jews, and African Americans, the story of America is one of struggle to achieve in practice our founding ideals.

Unfortunately, American Muslims and Islam are the latest chapter in a long American struggle against scapegoating based on religion, race, or creed.

Due in part to the relentless efforts of this small group of individuals and organizations, Islam is now the most negatively viewed religion in America. Only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Islam: the lowest favorability rating since 2001, according to a 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll. According to a 2010 Time magazine poll, 28 percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, and nearly one-third of the country thinks followers of Islam should be barred from running for president.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 alone did not drive Americans’ perceptions of Muslims and Islam. President George W. Bush reflected the general opinion of the American public at the time when he went to great lengths to make clear that Islam and Muslims are not the enemy.

Speaking to a roundtable of Arab and Muslim American leaders at the Afghanistan embassy in 2002, for example, President Bush said, “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith—face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It’s a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.”

Unfortunately, President Bush’s words were soon eclipsed by an organized escalation of hateful statements about Muslims and Islam from the members of the Islamophobia network profiled in this report. This is as sad as it is dangerous. It is enormously important to understand that alienating the Muslim American community not only threatens our fundamental promise of religious freedom, it also hurts our efforts to combat terrorism. Since 9/11, the Muslim American community has helped security and law enforcement officials prevent more than 40 percent of Al Qaeda terrorist plots threatening America. The largest single source of initial information to authorities about the few Muslim American plots has come from the Muslim American community.

Around the world, there are people killing people in the name of Islam, with which most Muslims disagree. Indeed, in most cases of radicalized neighbors, family members, or friends, the Muslim American community is as baffled, disturbed, and surprised by their appearance as the general public. Treating Muslim American citizens and neighbors as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, is not only offensive to America’s core values, it is utterly ineffective in combating terrorism and violent extremism.

The White House recently released the national strategy for combating violent extremism, “Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” One of the top focal points of the effort is to “counter al-Qa’ida’s propaganda that the United States is somehow at war with Islam.” Yet orchestrated efforts by the individuals and organizations detailed in this report make it easy for al-Qa’ida to assert that America hates Muslims and that Muslims around the world are persecuted for the simple crime of being Muslims and practicing their religion.

Sadly, the current isolation of American Muslims echoes past witch hunts in our history—from the divisive McCarthyite purges of the 1950s to the sometimes violent anti-immigrant campaigns in the 19th and 20th centuries. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has compared the fear-mongering of Muslims with anti-Catholic sentiment of the past. In response to the fabricated “Ground Zero mosque” controversy in New York last summer, Mayor Bloomberg said:

In the 1700s, even as religious freedom took hold in America, Catholics in New York were effectively prohibited from practicing their religion, and priests could be arrested. Largely as a result, the first Catholic parish in New York City was not established until the 1780s, St. Peter’s on Barclay Street, which still stands just one block north of the World Trade Center site, and one block south of the proposed mosque and community center. … We would betray our values and play into our enemies’ hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.

This report shines a light on the Islamophobia network of so-called experts, academics, institutions, grassroots organizations, media outlets, and donors who manufacture, produce, distribute, and mainstream an irrational fear of Islam and Muslims.

Let us learn the proper lesson from the past, and rise above fear-mongering to public awareness, acceptance, and respect for our fellow Americans. In doing so, let us prevent hatred from infecting and endangering our country again.

In the pages that follow, we profile the small number of funders, organizations, and individuals who have contributed to the discourse on Islamophobia in this country. We begin with the money trail in Chapter 1—our analysis of the funding streams that support anti-Muslim activities. Chapter 2 identifies the intellectual nexus of the Islamophobia network. Chapter 3 highlights the key grassroots players and organizations that help spread the messages of hate. Chapter 4 aggregates the key media amplifiers of Islamophobia. And Chapter 5 brings attention to the elected officials who frequently support the causes of anti- Muslim organizing.

Before we begin, a word about the term “Islamophobia.” We don’t use this term lightly. We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

It is our view that in order to safeguard our national security and uphold America’s core values, we must return to a fact-based civil discourse regarding the challenges we face as a nation and world. This discourse must be frank and honest, but also consistent with American values of religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and respect for pluralism. A first step toward the goal of honest, civil discourse is to expose—and marginalize—the influence of the individuals and groups who make up the Islamophobia network in America by actively working to divide Americans against one another through misinformation.

Wajahat Ali is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Eli Clifton is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a national security reporter for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Matthew Duss is a Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and Director of the Center’s Middle East Progress. Lee Fang is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher/blogger for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress.org. Scott Keyes is a researcher at the Center for American Progress and an investigative researcher for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Faiz Shakir is a Vice President at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress.org.

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The Face of Hate: Visible Now

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-Chief

We are not born to hate or kill others. We are taught to hate and kill others. Sometimes this hatred is in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of country, sometimes it is for money and sometimes it is a combination of all these four. What is now emerging clearly is that there is a small group of Jewish intellectuals and activists who under the secret advise of hawkish Israelis have been engaged in a high level Islam bashing and Muslim demonizing for almost a decade in the United States. They have promoted hatred against Muslims and they can create conditions to justify the killings of Muslims in America and elsewhere. There purpose is to marginalize the Muslim community so that it may not play any effective role in any aspect of American life. Their goal is to create conditions leading to the almost lynching of Muslims. Their grudge against Muslim American comes from their love to the state of Israel. The irony is that they are using the American resources to promote their agenda. They have found an ally in the form of white conservative Christian evangelical supremacists who consider Muslims infidels and pagans.
The information here is from a highly credible research project. The report raises several questions about the credibility of Jewish organizations and leadership. It is an irony that despite overwhelming evidence of the involvement of some Jewish activists in trying to demonize Muslims intentionally and make their religion a target of hatred, the mainstream Jewish organizations and Christians groups have refused to condemn the hate mongers.

Here are the synopsis of the report that clearly demonstrates that the anti-Sharia bill in Michigan and other states is the result of a conspiracy against Islam hatched by some Jewish activists with the help of Christian evangelical resources.

The conspiracy is open. We must expose the hate mongers and question Christian and Jewish organizations to take a stand on these issues. In the interfaith forums these issues deserve to be discussed and brought out. We must be able to demonstrate clearly that the spreading of hate and misinformation against Islam and Muslims primarily started with five key people and their organizations, and it is sustained and funded by a few key foundations with Christian conservative roots, says an in-depth investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The tightly networked group of misinformation experts were able to guide efforts that now have reached millions of Americans through advocates, media panelists and grassroots organizations.

The five misinformation experts are:

• Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy
• David Yerushalmi at the Society of Americans for National Existence
• Daniel Pipes at the Middle East Forum
• Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America
• Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism

These individuals have generated the materials used by political leaders, grassroots groups, and the media on a regular basis.

The funding organizations have given over 40 million dollars during the last 10 years. They are:

Donors Capital Fund; Richard Mellon Scaife Foundation;
Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; Newton and Rochelle Becker
Foundation and Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust;
Russell Berrie Foundation, Anchorage Charitable Fund

The misinformation experts have traveled the country and worked with or testified before state legislatures calling for a ban on the nonexisting threat of Sharia law in America and have proclaimed that the vast majority of mosques in America harbor Islamist terrorists or sympathizers.

David Yerushalmi’s “model legislation” banning Sharia law has been cut and pasted into bills in South Carolina, Texas, and Alaska. His video on how to draft an anti-Sharia bill and his online tools have been picked up nationwide. The misinformation movement is active in more than 23 states.

Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pam Geller’s Stop Islamization of America, David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, and existing groups such as the American Family Association and the Eagle Forum are usually the groups that promote the ideas of misinformation experts whose work has often been cited many times by (among others) confessed Norway terrorist Anders Breivik.

Those whose rhetoric against Islam and Muslims has become known include among the the religious right:

Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Ralph Reed, and Franklin Graham; among the grassroots organizations

Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! For America, Pamela Geller’s, Stop Islamization of America Eagle Forum, Tennessee Freedom Coalition, State Tea Party movements, American Family Association; among the media, Fox News Channel, David Horowitz, Freedom Center Pamela Geller and Atlas Shrugs, Washington Times, The National Review, Christian Broadcast Network, Clarion Fund, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mike Savage, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Bryan Fischer and among politicians, Rep. Peter King, Rep. Sue Myrick, Rep. Allen West, Rep. Renee Elmers, Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Those who validate their arguments include: Nonie Darwish, Former Muslims United and Arabs for Israel, Zuhdi Jasser, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Walid Phares, Future Terrorism Project
Walid Shoebat, Former purported terrorist turned apocalyptic Christian.

Now we know who the hate mongers are and who the misinformants are, we should not keep quiet. We must raise the issue in every forum that we have to ensure that conspirators are further exposed for ever.

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