A Terrorist by Any Other Name

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jon Pahl

(April 16, 2010) – When is a terrorist not considered a terrorist? When the US media identifies him or her as a “Christian”. And when is a terrorist group not considered a terrorist group? When the US media calls it an “anti-government militia”.

Exceptionalism is alive and well when it comes to reporting on violence in the name of religion, as evidenced in the recent case of the Michigan-based Hutaree, a group that the media has labeled a militia following recent FBI raids that uncovered stockpiles of illegal weapons, and a plot to kill law enforcement officers and “levy war” against the United States.

The leader of the group, 45-year-old David Brian Stone, pulled no punches about who he was, coining the term “Hutaree” which his website translates as “Christian warrior” for his group. His motto is the biblical passage John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The behavior of this group seems very similar to that of those termed terrorists by the media.

Yet Joshua Rhett Miller of Fox News described the Hutaree in a 29 March story as a “purportedly Christian-based militia group.” In a similar vein, Nick Bunkley and Charlie Savage of The New York Times identified Stone and the Hutaree somewhat apologetically as “apocalyptic Christian militants” in their 29 March report. This, despite the fact that the group not only stockpiled weapons and engaged in training identical to Al Qaeda’s modus operandi, but even planned improvised explosive devices based on those used by terrorists in Iraq.

In its “Times Topics” section, The New York Times positively contorts itself to avoid using the word “terrorist”. It describes the Hutaree as a “Michigan-based Christian militia group” and, mirroring the language of US Attorney General Eric Holder, as “anti-government extremists.”

Are we reserving the term “terrorist” only for Muslims these days? In coverage of stories like the thwarted plan to bomb synagogues in New York in May 2009 or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit, the mainstream media has no qualms about discussing “foiled terror plots.” Such a reservation stokes indiscriminate fear of Muslim “others”. It also constructs an implicit “us versus them” dualism between a broadly “Christian America” and an allegedly monolithic “Muslim world”, as American political scientist Samuel Huntington most notoriously opined in his “Clash of Civilisations” theory.

Religion is all too often seen as the root of terrorist violence, rather than as one of its most effective tools. As Scott Shane argued in the 4 April New York Times article “Dropping the word bomb”, we need a robust debate about what terms to use across cases. Journalists can help by practicing consistency, and by pointing out attempts to scapegoat one group and exempt another from the opprobrium associated with terms like “terrorist.”

Mainstream Christians like me cringe when a group like the Hutaree is identified as “Christian”. Perhaps this incident can help other Americans empathise with what close to 1.5 billion Muslims might have felt every time in the last few years they have heard the words “Muslim terrorists” or, far worse, “Islamic terrorists”.
A good rule to follow, for journalists and for all of us, might be to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

And that means calling a terrorist – of whatever background – exactly that.

Jon Pahl (jpahl@ltsp.edu) is Professor of History of Christianity in North America at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and author of Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence. This article first appeared in The Colorado Daily and was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) www.commongroundnews.org

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Community News (V12-I7)

February 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Ivy Muslim students conference held

Muslim students from top universities gathered at Yale last weekend for the first Muslim Ivy conference. About 120 delegates from each Ivy League school attended, with 30 delegates from Yale.

The conference was the brainchild of Omer Bajwa, the Coordinator of Muslim Life on campus. The Yale MSA worked in conjunction with the University Chaplain’s Office to organize the event.

The conference began Saturday with a Dhuhr prayers and addresses by Bajwa, Tariq Mahmoud ’11 president of the Yale Muslim Students Association, and University Chaplain Sharon Kugler. Throughout that day and the next, students attended panels and small group discussions on topics including post-graduate experiences, gender dynamics, campus activism, community activism and life as a Muslim-American.

Hamid said that because this conference was largely organized by the Yale chapter of MSA, he thinks more inter-Ivy League collaboration would greatly improve future events.

The Yale MSA, which has around 200 members, kicked off Islamic Awareness Month at Yale with a meet and greet with members and guests on Friday.

Mosques offer reward for leads in Muslim man’s death

CHESTER, PA– Philadelphia area mosques are offering a $5,000 reward for information that they hope will lead police to the killer of a local Muslim man.
Abulaash Ansari, 57, a much respected community member, was shot and killed on Dec. 12.

Chester police say that the investigation is ongoing and that there is a person of interest.

“There were some domestic issues that took place prior to the shooting,” said Darren Alston, deputy chief of police. “We can’t say for sure whether that is connected or not.”

Ansari was a familiar face in Chester. A native of Ahmadabad, India, he moved to the United States about 20 years ago with his four children.

An electrician, he often worked for free on projects at his mosque.

Discrimination lawsuit against Illinois college dismissed

BENTON,IL– A federal judge has dismissed  a lawsuit against a southern Illinois college by an administrator who claimed he was passed over for the school’s presidency because he’s an Iraq native and Muslim.

U.S. District Judge David Herndon dismissed Salah Shakir’s lawsuit against Rend Lake College on Monday in Benton.

Herndon ruled that Shakir lacks evidence supporting his contention that he was discriminated against. He was the college’s vice president of information technology, but he wasn’t hired to fill a vacancy in the college’s presidency.

Free dinner-lecture on Islam at Western

KALAMAZOO–Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah will discuss similarities among the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths during the semiannual installment of a free dinner-lecture series sponsored by the Muslim Students Association of Western Michigan University.

In addition to the keynote address, “One God, Many Names: Muslims, Christians and Jews all Call Upon the Same God,” the evening includes a multicultural dinner and multiethnic exhibition. Events begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom.

The dinner-lecture is open to the public free of charge, but reservations are required. They must be made online at www.rso.wmich.edu/msa by Wednesday, Feb. 17. The popular event typically attracts capacity attendance, and those wishing to attend are encouraged to register early. A waiting list will be maintained for late registrants.

The Muslim Students Association, in collaboration with the Arab Student Association, sponsors the dinner-lecture series once each fall and spring semester.

For more information, visit WMU’s Muslim Student Associationonline, or contact Samira Shammas at rso_msa@wmich.edu.

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Community News, Vol. 8 Iss. 43

October 19, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Muslims speak out on global warming

PHILADELPHIA, PA–Dr. Syed Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was one of the keynote speakers at the Sacred Seasons, Sacred Earth Interfaith Celebration, organized by the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. The event marked the coinciding of Ramadan, the sacred Jewish month that includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. October 1 was Worldwide (Protestant/ Orthodox) Communion Sunday. October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday. October 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. This confluence will occur again in 2007. Thereafter, it will not recur for thirty years.

The event in Philadelphia called for urgent action to fight global warming.

“Many of the resources are vanishing and that is not what God intended for us,” said Dr. Mohammed Almashhadani, of Al-Aqsa Mosque and former imam of the Albanian American Muslim Society mosque, both in North Philadelphia.

Participants observed the Jewish tradition of building a Sukkah, a hut that brings the community into close with the earth and listened to meditations offered by Buddhists. They later joined together for Iftar.

Cavium Networks Receives 2006 Excellence in Technology Alignment Award

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA–Cavium Networks, a world leader in networking, security and embedded processor solutions, has received the Excellence in Technology Alignment award from Cisco Systems, Inc. Cavium Networks was selected based on its currently shipping products. This prestigious award recognized significant Cavium technology that has met Cisco’s product requirements and positively impacted the satisfaction level of Cisco’s customers. The award presentation was done at the Cisco 15th annual supplier appreciation event keynoted by Cisco’s President and Chief Executive Officer, John Chambers.

“Cavium Networks is honored to receive top recognition from Cisco,” said Syed Ali, CEO and President of Cavium Networks. “This recognition reinforces Cavium’s solid commitment and dedication to developing market-leading technologies and exceeding our customers’ requirements.”

Syed Ali has over 23 years of management and engineering experience in the semiconductor area. Prior to Cavium Networks, Syed Ali was a founding management team member and VP Marketing/Sales at Malleable Technologies , a communication chip company focused on developing Voice over Packet processors. Malleable was acquired by PMC-Sierra in June 2000. Earlier, he served as Vice President, Marketing at I-Cube which developed switch fabrics and chipsets for networking. He also spent 4 years as Executive Director, Samsung Electronics, where he started the Flash memory and CPU businesses and put together the business plans and strategies that drove sales in each line to over a $100M in less than two years. Syed also spent over 10 years at WSI/SGS-Thompson, and Tandem where he was involved with product line management and product design. He earned a MSEE from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1981 and BSEE from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India in 1980.

LA Muslims reach out to the homeless

LOS ANGELES,CA– Muslims in Los Angeles reached out to the homless by distributing food, clothing, books, toys and other items to around 3000 people. The drive was organized by the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity, which is comprised of more than 40 mosques and Muslim organizations.

More than 300 volunteers had helped feed several hundered people by mid-day. Free HIV and diabetes tests were also made available.

Other branches of the group were holding similar outreach efforts in 14 U-S cities.

Islamic Relief, an international aid organization, and I-L-M Foundation, an L.A.-based group, were coordinating the efforts.

Obstetrician/gynecologist joins Caritas Norwood Hospital medical staff

BOSTON–Caritas Norwood Hospital has added a new obstetrician gynecologist to its medical staff.

Amna H. Khan, MD, of Dover has a special clinical interest in treating adolescents, and before coming to Caritas Norwood Hospital was administrative chief resident in the OB/GYN department at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.

Dr. Khan also completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where she was executive member of the advisory committee on medical education and a member of the graduate medical education committee.

She received Rochester’s 2004 Berlex Teaching Award and Medical Student Teaching Award and has served as co-president of the American Medical Women’s Association and research assistant to the Women’s Health Project, both at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.

Dr. Khan received her medical degree at the Medical University of South Carolina and her bachelor’s degree in biology and economics from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley.

She is accepting new patients. Her practice is located at Caritas Foxboro, 70 Walnut St., Foxboro, 781-698-2229.

The 264-bed Caritas Norwood Hospital provides emergency, cardiology, advanced surgical, endoscopic, ob/gyn and Children’s Hospital Boston pediatric services and is a member of Caritas Christi Health Care, the second largest health care system in New England.

Books for Baghdad Announces Second Drive

JACKSONVILLE,AL– Jacksonville State University’s Books for Baghdad project (www.booksforbaghdad.org) has announced a new drive for books, supplies, and cash donations to help rebuild the war-torn library at Baghdad University.

Dr. Safaa Al-Hamdani, JSU biology professor and founder of the project, said, “Our objective includes collecting recent editions of textbooks in math, science, medicine and technology to be sent to war ravished Iraq. Books are being accepted now and may be dropped off at JSU. We can also make arrangements to pick up large contributions. In addition, we are planning to collect computers and refurbish them. They will be sent to the Baghdad Library to be used by the students.”

“Jeff Spurr from Harvard University and Dr. Anwar Diab of Baghdad University will be involved in this project,” said Al-Hamdani. “Furthermore, a committee was established in western Massachusetts by a group of librarians to help in accomplishing the same objective. If all comes about as I expect it, we will have enough material to be shipped from Massachusetts to Baghdad in the near future. We should do what we can to help and I can not emphasize the tremendous need for the books and computers in Iraq.”

Anyone who would like to contribute books and other gifts should contact Dr. Al-Hamdani (256-782-5801; sah@jsu.edu). Cash contributions can be made to the JSU Foundation, 700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville AL 36265.

Dr. Safaa Al-Hamdani and a small group of faculty volunteers established the Books for Baghdad project in 2004 as an international humanitarian effort to help reestablish the war-torn Baghdad University library. Local volunteers were soon joined by faculty and students from throughout the U.S. Thanks in part to international media coverage, including special reports on CNN, the project far exceeded its goal of 5,000 books with a total collection of more than 11,000 textbooks and $6,500 in school supplies.

Statement from State Senator Peter Roskam on the Holy Month of Ramadan

“I would like to wish the Muslim Community in the 6th Congressional District and across the nation the very best during this holiest time of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. This important holiday is a time for family and friends to come together to express their faith.

Muslims across our nation continue to enrich our communities and our nation and we value their contribution to our society.” Senator Peter Roskam, Congressional Candidate for the 6th District of Illinois

Recently, State Senator and Republican Congressional candidate Peter Roskam attended an Iftaar event at the residence of Moon Khan, York Township Trustee and Founding President of Asian American Caucus of DuPage, where a large number of American Muslims of the 6th Congressional District attended it.

Yusuf Islam still faces difficulties coming to US

Yusuf Islam still faces difficulties entering the United States–two years after being refused entry into the country because of national security fears. In 2004, after flying to the United States from London, the Muslim convert, formerly known as Cat Stevens,was barred from entering after US security officials said his name was on list of banned individuals. Now plans to tour America promoting his comeback album AN OTHER CUP could be in jeopardy for the same reason. ANN DAVIS, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Agency, told the New York Daily News, “The TSA does not confirm whether any name is on or not on the ‘no-fly’ list. But Mr Islam was a positive match on numerous watch lists when Customs and Borders Protection agents interviewed him in Maine. “They refused him admission to the United States based on national security grounds.” However, SHEILA RICHMAN, spokeswoman for Islam’s US record label Atlantic, remains optimistic: “We don’t yet have firm touring plans for Yusuf. We hope he will be coming here in mid-November.”

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