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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Islamic Center of America, Dearborn

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ahmed Al-Hilali

SONY DSCThousands of Muslims gather inside the Qazwini Mosque of Dearborn to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and the beginning of Eid-ul-Fitr. Fourteen year old Hussein Neime shares his opinions about the yearly celebration.

“I love Eid because of the fact that I get to see relatives I don’t usually get to see, and I feel like all of Dearborn are my relatives,”

”Yearly the celebration of the end of Ramadan makes Muslims forget their problems,” said Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini in his sermon. “But that doesn’t mean you forget the poor,” The Imam’s point was that we should never forget the poor and Allah, and Allah won’t forget you. This inspired many Muslims to get up after the prayer and put money inside the charity box.

Though many Muslims celebrated ‘Eid Tuesday, many more Muslims around the world are celebrating a day late because of the lack of the sighting of the moon, but many people are gloomy because of they don’t get one more holy night of worship God.  

There were Q&A games for kids, in which the prizes range from stickers to gift cards. They had to answer questions about Ramadan, Ahlulbayt, which prophets came in order, etc. “Every kid here is happy,” says 10 year old Ali Alsumar. “The sun is shining, everybody is smiling and laughing, you get prizes, and I just think that Eid is a very unique day.”

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CIOM Meeting with Gregg Krupa

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Speech by Gregg Krupa, Introduction by TMO Stringer

About 60 selected people were invited to a CIOM meeting this past weekend at the Westin Hotel, Southfield Michigan.  Fatima Salman presented CIOM’s recent activities.  Kassem Allie detailed CIOM’s and Islamic Center of America’s opposition to the recent unpatriotic activities of Terry Jones. Nauman Syed and Muzzamil Ahmed spoke of the importance of youth involvement and political education, Ghalib Begg gave an overview of CIOM’s activities.  Robert Bruttell spoke on community involvement, and about the importance of visibility, participation, organizationm, and social engagement.  Mr. Gregg Krupa, Detroit News Reporter and Michigan interfaith activist, was the main speaker; his speech follows this paragraph.

Gregg Krupa Speech:

To say we need each other now, more than ever, we people of faith, who know that our God requires us to accept all creation as sacred, including every being, regardless of differences or even trespasses, may simply be a matter of too much self-involvement.

Perhaps it is merely the task of every generation to welcome the other, and to follow the truth of each faith, regardless of where it leads, despite those who insist that only their way, their version of events, their human explanation of god, is correct. But, nonetheless, as these issues roil in our time, the difficulties are plain to see.

A good person is a bad person’s teacher. A bad person is a good person’s job.

This is true, today, whether one stands in Southfield, in Bahrain, in Pakistan, in Jerusalem, in Somalia, indeed, anywhere on the globe.

Those who work to increase understanding, to build community, to nurture cooperation, to make the peace, are called, in every epoch. But, clearly, we feel the need now.
It is what brings us, here, today. And it is the reason that the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan IS INTEGRAL to the development of the greater community in the state of Michigan.
Oh, mankind! I have created you of a male and female, and then rendered you nations and tribes so that you might know one another. Indeed, the most honorable among you is the one in the sight of Allah who is the most pious. Allah is Knower. Aware.

Will you do the work?

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan makes it easier. An active advocate, a trusted adviser, a vehicle for making straight the crooked path, the council’s work is of intrinsic value to those who seek understanding, inclusion, peace.

Gandhi said you really can not have a community without a journal of some kind, and in an era of disestablishment in the mass media, it is becoming harder to achieve.

I speak of intimate knowledge when I assure you that the Council positively impacts the media image of Muslims and of Islam in Metro Detroit. I have experienced it.

And that role is more important, day by day, as newspapers contract, as media become more diffuse and as the issues that divide us grow ever more exaggerated.

This spring, men and women of the books gathered at the Islamic Center of America to say no to evil. The assemblage said more about our faiths than that devil ever can. The council helped organize that awesome expression of one God.

A few weeks later, one of our local newspapers ran a letter to the editor in praise of Mr. Jones, that blasphemer, that bigot, that self-professed minister.

Would such a letter praising a sinner who advocated the burning of the Torah or the Bible ever have appeared in a journal of this community?

If it had, organizations representing Judaism and Christianity would have descended like a summer storm.

In crises, when a single message explaining the facts is essential to understanding, organizations like the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan perform an essential role. In every day life, when misunderstandings as common as the birds of the air threaten the community we seek to create for ourselves, our children and their descendants in our troubled state, organizations of truth and justice must step forth.

IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN IT IS OUR GOD’S WORK.

The council has done this and more. Its work must continue.

The attention of media waxes and wanes. Have you noticed? Sometimes the focus on a particular topic is so intense as to raise concerns about judgment. Sometime is so weak as to confirm the same concerns.

Sometimes, unless a person of integrity and curiosity about the other steps forward, a media outlet can not overcome institutional prejudices that have haunted it for decades.

That is why organizations like the Council are essential.

I know from 33 years of experience that no media outlet can be trusted to do the right thing without advocates representing diverse groups encouraging it, advocating it and sometimes demanding it. Sometimes it is a matter of a press release from a familiar organization bearing an announcement. Sometime it is an explanation.

Occasionally, it is a succinct suggestion that all children of God be respected.

As a reporter, if you were to seek to ask questions about Israel, or sometime even Judaism, of a Jew in Metro Detroit, one is often told, “You need to talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council.” Sometimes, someone will saiy “If you talk to the Jewish Community Relations Council, first, then I will talk to you.”

Helen Thomas calls it control. Robert Cohen calls it advocacy. I call it a firm intention to explain with one voice, and to marshal the power of a community when the voice is misrepresented or unheard.
When Irish and Italians Catholics moved to the United States and sought acceptance, freedom and justice, their advocates included the Knights of Columbus. My fractious Polish ancestors organized the Polish National Alliance and similar groups.

Who advocates for you? Who explains your truth? Who works toward your justice? Who creates your peace? Who tells your story?

Do you intend to proceed alone in this well-intentioned nation with its long record of falling short of its best intentions and its tendency to let the bad men act and speak for all?

I would advise against it.

It often takes a group to make a point. In fact, let us be honest, unfortunately, in our nation, it occasionally takes a riot.

But, as people of God, I would advise that we stick to the group.

When Victor Ghalib Begg calls The Detroit News and says, “I need to speak to Jon Wolman, the publisher and editor,” or, even asks, as I hope he does with great frequency and determination, “May I speak to Nolan Finley, or to the person who was in charge of the letters to the editor yesterday,” or “I would like to discuss with someone what Frank Beckman wrote today,” he is known, as is the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, as someone, and as a group of importance to metropolitan area and to the state, at large.

This organization is a balancer of opinion, an explainer of truth, a maker of peace an instrument of justice and a representative of my God, second-generation Polish American Catholic though I may be.
But these, the best of intentions, the most vigorous of efforts, must not be allowed to wither on the vine. They must be nurtured. We must give them sustenance.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan must, in due time, make the transition from the best of intentions and an honest effort to an institution.

It, or something very much like it must take the place along side all of the easily recognized, traditional institutions of religious representation, explanation and advocacy of Christianity, or Judaism and of other faiths which inform our American culture and which correct our ways.

Without an organization like this in Metro Detroit and the State of Michigan, the explanation of our common humanity will be far less thorough, far less informed, far more wanting, far more open to the suggestion of bad people, far less inclusive of the divine instruction to all of us, that we become known to one another.

A salaam aleikum.

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Terry Jones Denounced by Muslim and Christian Leaders

April 28, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Reverends and imams speak at the ICA press conference at 10:30AM Friday April 22, 2011.  At center is Imam Qazwini of the ICA, to his right Imam Elahi and Imam Mardini, respectively.

Dearborn–April 22–The overcast morning of Friday April 22 was one that began with the ominous likelihood of violence.  Despite the religious significance of the day (Easter to Christians) “Pastor” Terry Jones had planned to burn the Qur`an directly in front of the biggest mosque in the United States as an act of provocation.  As the day turned out, however, Jones was prevented through last-minute legal wrangling from going through with what would have been an incendiary act on several levels.  The city of Dearborn feared an outbreak of violence, as evidenced by the police presence at the mosque.

But as the day began, religious leaders from the community did not know the burning would be prevented–they thought that Jones might go through with his plan, and they spoke en masse in the auditorium of the Islamic Center of America, speaking one by one against Jones’ message of hate, bigotry, and intolerant ignorance.

Present were many news channels and outlets–the ICA room chosen for the press meeting teemed with reporters, looking a little bit like the White House briefing room.

The speakers one by one spoke a message of tolerance–and the theme of all their speeches was that Terry Jones is in fact an extremist and his act of burning the Qur`an is rooted in his deep ignorance, and his behavior stands in stark contrast to the behavior and message of Jesus (as).

The symbolism of Jones’ attempt to burn the Qur`an on Good Friday was not lost on the Christian reverends who spoke–all of them expressed their dismay at such an act of hatred being committed on a day which should represent the directly opposite message.

Imam Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America functioned as the moderator of the event, one by one introducing the many speakers who (literally) joined hands to protest Jones’ planned act of hatred.

The mayor of Dearborn, Jack O’Reilly, spoke very fluently about the event, pointing out the need to balance the rights of people against one another–while a man in America has a right to protest, the churches local to ICA  (which have stood where they are for 50 years) also had a right to perform their Good Friday services in peace.  He pointed out Jones’ attempts through internet advertising to bring hundreds if not thousands of people to his planned protest, which contradicted his application for a permit to protest which listed only five or six protesters.

The mayor gave perhaps the strongest Christian argument against Jones’ planned behavior, citing the Pope’s decree that Islam is a valid religion, and that  Catholics should treat their Muslim brothers and sisters with respect.  O’Reilly also cited Bible passages which he said described Jones’ behavior, of inciting fear in people and then asking for money, which Jones had done.

Most of the Christian ministers and reverends who spoke questioned Jones’ title of “pastor,” pointing out the nature of his message as being contrary to the essential teachings of his religion.

One reverend said “Today is Good Friday… the message of today is about love, not exclusive love, but unconditional love.  Love God with all your heart and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
He pointed out that the deeper issue in Jones’ protest is the issue of racism.

Mustapha Turk of IONA said that if Jones had read the Qur`an he would not burn it because the Qur`an has praises of Jesus (as) on almost every page.
One reverend begged the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan not to react with violence to whatever scene might unfold later in the day.

Several of the Christian ministers pointed out the burning of churches during the civil rights struggle as being similar to Jones’ attack on Islam.

Imam Qazwini perhaps put it best when asked whether he had tried to communicate with Jones.

“I met [him] last night at Channel 2 where we were both guests, and I invited him not to protest, but to come inside and have a dialog with Muslim leaders.”

“I don’t think he is sincere, or logical,” said Imam Qazwini.

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Imams Condemn the Killing of UN workers in Afghanistan

April 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

(WARREN, MI, 4/2/11) – The Imams committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan condemns in the strongest terms the killing of innocent people and the UN workers at Mazar-i-Sharif UN station in Afghanistan.

Such violence is against the Islamic teachings and the spirit of the Holy Qur’an.

We are saddened by the unjust killing by a violent mob in Afghanistan, reacting to the Qur’an burning by Mr. Jones. Neither his provocative act nor any offense against the Islamic faith or Muslims would justify the killing of innocent.

We urge Mr. Jones to cancel plans to bring his hateful message to Michigan at the Islamic Center of America on April 22, to avoid potential irrational reaction by some equally ignorant among Muslims.
We urge all Muslims to ignore such provocative or aggressively symbolic acts against their faith.

The Qur’an teaches, “The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” (41:34), the Qur’an further teaches, “…if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth-it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…” (5:32)

On behalf of the Imams and the Muslim community we offer our condolences and deepest sympathy to the family of the victims as we pray for peace and a world free of hate and bigotry.
The Imams Committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan represents a coalition of Muslim religious leaders (imams) in the Metro-Detroit area.

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Community News / North America Vol 8 Iss 17

April 24, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Breaking down the barriers at Wesleyan
MIDDLETOWN, CT—In order to prove that Muslims and Jews can coexist peacefully, Rabbi David Leipziger Teva and Imam Abdullah Antepli of Wesleyan University took a group of Muslim students to Istanbul and Jerusalem. The group of 11 students say that their outlook was totally transformed after their 11 day excursion, reported the campus newsletter.
The group visited the K-6 Hand-in-Hand School in Jerusalem where Palestinian and Israeli children of all faiths learn together. In Israel the group also visited the Kibbutz Metzer, a socialist commune, and other historical landmarks.
The group met with journalists, lobbyists, human rights activists and political leaders, including Vatican Representative of Istanbul, George Marovitch and Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi of Turkey Isaac Halevo.
Rachel Berkowitz a freshman from Trumansburg, NY, says the trip helped her gain a strong desire to learn more about Islam, Judaism, interfaith dialogue and about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I think the difference I have made has been internal, rather than external,” says Berkowitz. “I have learned and changed so much. I feel I now have a broader perspective.”
“On the trip, we learned that there was a sense of hope, a hope for peace,î sayid freshman Jamal Ahmed. “Despite terrible hardships, there are still great strives towards peace and beautiful co-existence. I learned more about the Jewish culture, religion, and Israeli society than I thought possible in such a short time.”
Rare copy of a translation of the Holy Quran donated to Muslims
DEARBORN, MI—A nearly 300-year old English translation of the Holy Qur’an — the Islamic scriptures — has been donated to the Islamic Center of America (ICA) by Richard L. Steinberg, a Detroit trial attorney. The book is to be held in trust for all Muslim peoples in metro Detroit at the ICA, according to a press release.
“If we do not stand together as a nation, but become a community of clashing cultures and warring factions, we will all be destroyed,” Steinberg stated. “Jesus said ‘I give to you a new commandment that you shall love one another’ and the Qur’an says ‘I swear by the declining day that man is in deep loss except for those who believe, do good deeds, urge one another to the truth and urge one another to steadfastness.’ This is the community our faiths are calling us to.”
The copy donated to the ICA was purchased from Bauman Rare Books in New York and contains a hand-drawn map of the Arabian Peninsula, a genealogical chart of the Prophet Muhammad, and a drawing of the original lay-out of the sacred shrine in Mecca. It also contains a preliminary discourse discussing Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
Steinberg has been practicing law for 34 years and his notable cases include the first Title IX discrimination case in the country and his recent defence of Geoffrey Feiger in the investigation of contributions to the John Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. He is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a member of the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit. Steinberg was recently re-appointed to the Michigan Advisory Board of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Muslims request zoning change
HARRISBURG, PA—A Mus-lim couple have submitted a request to Silver Spring Township seeking a change in the zoning ordinance to allow for places for worship in the residential estate district. Mr.and Mrs.Azim Qureishi own four acres of land and plan to donate it to the local Muslim community to build a Mosque.
The Muslim group wants to build a 8000 square foot mosque costing about $6-800,000, Qureishi was reported as saying to the Sentinel.
The estate district where the land is located is the only residential district in the township that does not allow places of worship.
An attorney representing the couple that his clients are willing to pay the costs to advertise the text change to give the public proper notice.

Hit and run charge against Muslim teen dismissed
DAVIS, CA— A Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Halema Buzayan, the teenage Muslim girl who claimed that she was unfairly targeted for being a Muslim. In June of last year, a witness reported to the police seeing an SUV hit a parked car and flee the scene. The Davis police investigated the report and believed that Halema Buzayan was driving. The family said the driver was the mother.
Six days later the police arrested Halema Buzayan for misdemeanour hit and run.
The Buzayans paid $870 for the vehicle damage shortly after the incident. In one court hearing the victim of the parking lot fender-bender testified on Halema Buzayan’s behalf. On Monday, 10 months after the incident, a Yolo County Superior Court judge dismissed the case.
The Buzayans believe they were investigated and prosecuted differently because they are Muslim. They are supported by community activists who last week petitioned the Davis City Council to create an oversight commission for the police department. “When the community showed up they really provided a comfort that kind of made up for the discomfort caused by the police department,” said Halema Buzayan. “So it meant so much to me and it was such a wonderful feeling.”
The Buzayan family is now planning to file a civil lawsuit against the Davis Police Department on allegations of ethnic bias.
Awareness week kicks off with talk on Women in Islam
MADISON, WI—The Islamic Awareness Week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison kicked off with two lectures on Islam and Women. More than 60 people attended the panel addressed by Yasmin Mogahed, a freelance journalist, and Rohany Nayan, the principal of the Madinah Academy of Madison.
Mogahed said that women are not objects to be seen as physically pleasing to others.
“We dress this way as an act of devotion to God,” Mogahed said. “When a woman covers her body, she is covering what is irrelevant for people to see.
“When people judge me, they should judge me based on my heart, my character.”
Nayan said there are some nations where men repress women because the male leaders are insecure and crave power. Nayan said that in her native country of Malaysia, nobody gave her any trouble for being a woman.
“During the time of the Prophet (s), women had a golden age,” Nayan said, referring to the life of the Prophet Mohammed (s), who lived from the years 570-632 in the common calendar. “The Prophet (s) was never threatened by a woman.”
Somali student awareness at UM
MINNEAPOLIS, MN—The Somali Student Association at the University of Minnesota held a day long event to create awareness about the Somali culture. The day was marked by food, clothing, arts and cultural performances.
Organizers said that one doesn’t have to travel overseas to gain cultural experience. It can happen right on campus. 15 percent of population of Minneapolis in made up of Somalis and they have a sizable presence on campus.
Somali Student Association secretary and global studies senior Kadra Ibrahim said it is important for the association to show its presence on campus.
There are many different cultures on this campus and it is crucial that the Somali Student Association is able to celebrate its culture in the midst of such a vast array of cultures, she told the student newspaper.
Islam exhibit at California State University-Sacramento
SACRAMENTO, CA—The Muslim Student Association of the University of California at Sacramento held an Islamic exhibition to counter the prevalent negative image of the faith. Students were encouraged to ask questions as they viewed the walk through exhibition.
Several professors came to the exhibit with their entire classes. Those interested were given free copies of the Holy Qur’an and other Islamic literature.
MAS Minnesota Convention attracts thousands
The Muslim American Association-Minnesota’s third annual convention attracted over 3000 attendees. Two sessions related to politics attracted the most number of participants. Democratic candidates spoke at a late-morning session titled “Democracy in America: A return to our Democratic ideals.” In the afternoon, Republican candidates spoke on the theme “Building a More Diverse Minnesota: Is there room for Muslims?” Keith Ellison, who is running for the US Congress, and if elected will be the first Muslim Congressman also spoke at the event.
From thought-provoking and spiritually uplifting lectures, to fun-filled entertainment sessions, there was something for everyone. With over 50 bazaar vendors, shopping was a popular past-time activity between sessions. Comedy sessions, skits, and songs were among some of the entertainment sessions we witnessed.
Many members of the community also took advantage of the MAS Legal Clinic to ask questions regarding immigration, housing, and other legal issues.