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Tags: Islam

Sorry Mr. President, ISIS Is 100 Percent Islamic



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In a televised address on how to address the Islamic State this evening, President Barack Obama declared the organization variously known as ISIS or ISIL to be “not Islamic.”

In making this preposterous claim, Obama joins his two immediate predecessors in pronouncing on what is not Islamic. Bill Clinton called the Taliban treatment of women and children “a terrible perversion of Islam.” George W. Bush deemed that 9/11 and other acts of violence against innocents “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.”

None of the three has any basis for such assertions. To state the obvious: As non-Muslims and politicians, rather than Muslims and scholars, they are in no position to declare what is Islamic and what is not. As Bernard Lewis, a leading American authority of Islam, notes: “It is surely presumptuous for those who are not Muslims to say what is orthodox and what is heretical in Islam.”

Indeed, Obama compounds his predecessors’ errors and goes further: Clinton and Bush merely described certain actions (treatment of women and children, acts of violence against innocents) as un-Islamic, but Obama has dared to declare an entire organization (and quasi-state) to be “not Islamic.”

The only good thing about this idiocy? At least it’s better than the formulation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (known as CAIR) which has the nerve to call the Islamic State “anti-Islamic.”

In the end, though, neither U.S. presidents nor Islamist apologists fool people. Anyone with eyes and ears realizes that the Islamic State, like the Taliban and al-Qaeda before it, is 100 percent Islamic. And most Westerners, as indicated by detailed polling in Europe, do have eyes and ears. Over time, they are increasingly relying on common sense to conclude that the group is indeed profoundly Islamic. 

Tags: Obama , ISIS , Islam

Bergdahl Rose Garden Ceremony Was an Insult to Flacks



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The Obama administration’s now-defunct effort to turn the release of Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl into a cheerable moment was more than just a failure of ethics. It was a failure of communication, and an outrage to the honorable profession of image management and crisis public relations.

Put aside for a moment the very clear disrespect to both active and former service members implicit in trying to manufacture a feel-good narrative out of Bergdahl’s release by the Haqqani terror network in exchange for five high-value Taliban prisoners.

Suppose that there were valid reasons to require non-disclosure agreements from other soldiers in Bergdahl’s unit. Assume that the value of no longer having an American serviceman held captive by Islamists is so great that it’s worth the risk of such an asymmetrical prisoner exchange.

Even if you put these moral concerns aside, it still made no sense for President Obama to hold a Rose Garden event with Bergdahl’s parents Saturday. The White House had every reason to know this story would blow up.

Suspicions about Bergdahl’s disappearance from his unit on the field of honor were not hard to come by. Ralph Peters called him an “apparent deserter” on Fox News shortly after his capture. A detailed and damning narrative of his disappearance was written up in 2012 by Michael Hastings, a Rolling Stone journalist who died in a suspicious car crash in Los Angeles last year.

Even if there had been no such public speculation — if the masses had no inkling of the apparently low opinion soldiers of the the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, had of Bergdahl — the president himself gets regular briefings and had every reason to understand that the question of his behavior and possible culpability would come out. Presumably members of Bergdahl’s company were questioned by superior officers after his disappearance, and records of those interrogations were kept. And presumably the president or some designate was authorized to look at those records.

So why go ahead with the Rose Garden event? Obama had a perfectly legitimate story to tell: The American POW in Afghanistan had to be returned, irrespective of his character, and even at the cost of negotiating with terrorists or violating the law governing notification of Congress. (The Constitution affirms that the president is commander of the armed forces in wartime; and throughout American history presidents have assumed, correctly, that in practice they have essentially infinite wiggle room against any congressional attempts to restrain their power. The congressional notification scandal should have been a twelve-hour story.)

So why bring Robert and Jani Bergdahl in for a photo-op that at best would look a bit strange, given Robert’s grooming and his public attempts to find common ground with his son’s captors? The story of how the Bergdahls ended up at the White House is pure turnip-truck territory. According to Time:

Their presence at the White House on Saturday was the apparent product of coincidence: the couple had visited the capitol for a Memorial Day event and then stayed in town for meetings in Congress. Had they been at home in Idaho when the deal was announced, they likely would not have flown to Washington to appear with Obama—and a key visual element of the drama, replayed endlessly on television, might not have occurred.

Does this happen often, that somebody with business before the president of the United States just happens to be in D.C. and gets invited to swing by the White House? Where did the Bergdahls stay during their D.C. visit, and who paid? How were they vetted before their appearance with the president — both for security and for political sensitivities — and how long did the process take? Did anybody at the White House know Robert Bergdahl was going to say “bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim,” along with the “Pashto phrase” that has been getting so much attention?

I am not damning Robert Bergdahl here; I hope never to find out how I would behave if my child were at the mercy of Muslim psychotics. But I am saying it was bafflingly stupid to have him buddy up with the president for international television coverage.

The conventional wisdom now is that the Bergdahl story was at first viewed as a triumph, until questions began to emerge. This is not exactly true. National Security Adviser Susan Rice was already on the defensive by Sunday morning, when she made her infamous claim that Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction.” The Rose Garden ceremony was creepy at its heart. Had it not been creepy, there was still a roughly 100 percent probability that people would pay attention to the story.

The shilly-shallying and crabbed vocabulary coming out of the executive branch this workweek (State Department spokesman Marie Harf uncorked “fact pattern” Tuesday) indicate something worse than garden-variety presidential dishonesty. They indicate incompetence.

It is a cardinal rule of image management that you never roll out a story you may have to walk back. In this respect, strict and well-supported factual accuracy is even more important to a flack than it is to a journalist. A reporter who gets something wrong can generally make post-facto corrections without much fuss. But if you’re trying to make a client look good (or just less-bad), even minor inaccuracies are poisonous.

In this case, the weaknesses in the official story would have been clear to one of Kim Jong-un’s staffers. How much contempt must the president have for the voters if he can’t come out and say: Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been freed in exchange for the release of five Guantanamo detainees. We thank the royal family of Qatar for helping negotiate the exchange. Sergeant Bergdahl, the last POW of the Afghan war, remains on active status and is being well treated?

What was served by the Rose Garden show? What was the teachable moment? 

Tags: Bowe Bergdahl , Afghanistan , Islam , Islamism

Nigerian Terrorists Dig In As #BringBackOurGirls Campaign Intensifies



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The Islamist kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls has prompted a rapid and on-target response from the west: an argument over hashtag activism by preening Americans on Twitter.

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama struck the first blow for international justice Wednesday when she posed for a twitpic holding a handwritten sign labeled “Bring Back Our Girls.”

Although the estimated 200 girls who remain in captivity to the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram are neither related to Obama nor American citizens nor in any other recognizable way “our” girls, President Obama’s wife was actually picking up on the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which has become a popular way of expressing solidarity with the victims of the Muslim fanatics, whose leader Abubakar Shekau has promised to “sell them in the market, by Allah.”

The scope of the tragedy is vast enough that it has led to the creation of not just one hashtag but two. He-man Hollywood celebrities have joined in the campaign by warning potential buyers of the kidnapped girls — who are apparently being punished for the crime of attending school — that #RealMenDontBuyGirls.

Shekau has yet to show signs of weakening in the face of the Twitter trend, and some Gloomy Gusses in the developed world are casting doubt on the strategy. The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher and Iowa Hawk David Burge compared #BringBackOurGirls to efforts to free large numbers of people in the pre-Twitter era.

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Nigeria , Boko Haram , Terrorism , Islam , Twitter

Is Moderate Islam Possible?



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Raymond Ibrahim’s recent piece for CBN, “Why ‘Moderate Islam’ is an Oxymoron,” has prompted questions because it contradicts my views and yet (because he is a fellow at the Middle East Forum) it appears on MEForum.org and was sent to the MEF mailing list.

In reply, some comments on the content of his article and the propriety of its appearing with Middle East Forum sponsorship.

On content: Ibrahim and I agree that a moderate Islam does not presently exist but disagree whether it might potentially exist. In the words of an article I published last year, “a reformed Islam can emerge” if Muslims

emulate their fellow monotheists and adapt their religion with regard to slavery and interest, the treatment of women, the right to leave Islam, legal procedure, and much else. When a reformed, modern Islam emerges it will no longer endorse unequal female rights, the dhimmi status, jihad, or suicide terrorism, nor will it require the death penalty for adultery, breaches of family honor, blasphemy, and apostasy.

Ibrahim judges such changes impossible. He points, for example, to the Koran 9:29, where God commands Muslims to “Fight those among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] . . . until they pay the jizya [tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” To this, he responds: “How can one interpret this verse to mean anything other than what it plainly says? Wherein lies the ambiguity, the room for interpretation? . . . surely the commands of Koran 9:29 are completely straightforward?”

Well, yes and no. Religious thinkers are in the business of constantly adapting their faith to current realities and Muslims can do so by deeming Koran 9:29 out of date, abrogate it, or render it metaphorical. Contra Ibrahim, clarity does not exclude shifts in interpretation.

For example, Leviticus 20:13 states that “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death.” Yet, these days, important branches of Judaism and Christianity accept male homosexual activity. If such precise words can be reversed, why not those of Koran 9:29?

Nothing human is fixed; even a scripture believed to be written by God must be interpreted. Islam exists in history and changes over time.

On propriety: Clearly, an organization like the Middle East Forum stands for specific views. But it also must include a range of opinion or become boring and sterile. The challenge is to find a happy medium.

Actually, this is not so difficult: Require agreement on basic goals but debate methods.

In this case, Ibrahim and I agree on the need to stand up for liberal values and combat Islamism; we disagree on how to do so, including the possibility of Islam’s reform. (He believes in moderate Muslims but not in moderate Islam.) Such debate is healthy for we specialists and appeals to readers. Expect to see more of it from the Forum. 

Tags: Islam , Raymond Ibrahim , Middle East Forum

Islam and American Jazz



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The passing of Al-Hajj Dr. Yusef Abdul Lateef on December 23 in Massachusetts brings to mind the exotic, semi-forgotten influence of Islam on the American music scene in the 1950s, when Islam, and specifically Ahmadiyya Islam, was cool.

Lateef was born William Emanuel Huddleston on October 9, 1920, in Chattanooga and grew up in Detroit, where his father changed the family name to Evans. He began as a saxophonist in 1946, then went on to play the flute, oboe, bassoon, and many other instruments. In a very long and important career, he made music with such renowned figures as Cannonball Adderley, Donald Byrd, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus.

He become one of the first black jazz musicians to associate with Islam, converting in 1948 and changing his name at that time, then twice going on the pilgrimage to Mecca and writing a Ph.D. dissertation in 1975 titled “An Overview of Western and Islamic Education.” As an implicit indication of his piety, from 1980 on he banned alcohol from his performances.

Missionaries of the small Ahmadiyya movement out of Pakistan had eye-popping success among leading jazz musicians of the 1950s, converting in addition to Lateef such luminaries as Nuh Alahi, Art Blakey (Abdullah Ibn Buhaina), Fard Daleel, Mustafa Daleel (Oliver Mesheux), Talib Daoud, Ahmad Jamal (Fritz Jones), Muhammad Sadiq, Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory), Dakota Staton (Aliya Rabia), and McCoy Tyner (Sulaiman Saud). Superstars whispered to have converted included John Coltrane (who first married a Muslim), Dizzy Gillespie (whose band included several Muslims), Charlie Parker (Abdul Karim), and Pharaoh Sanders (whose work contains Muslim themes). One listing of Muslim jazz players contains about 125 names. These musicians preferred to perform at clubs owned by fellow Muslims, many of whom hailed from the Caribbean.

In short, Islam was the unofficial religion of bebop.

The musicians turned to Islam in part for genuine religious reasons; in part because (in the words of a 1953 Ebony article), “Islam breaks down racial barriers and endows its followers with purpose and dignity”; and in part because Islam served them as a mark of distinction in a United States where Muslims numbered only about 100,000 out of a population of 150 million.

Comments: (1) This connection contains a certain irony, given Islam’s dubious and sometimes directly hostile attitude toward music. For example, when the singer British Cat Stevens first converted to Islam in 1977, he stopped recording music for two decades. For a time in 2010, Somali Islamists not only banned all music but even school bells. Their counterparts in Mali in 2013 banned mobile phone ringtones.

(2) Ahmadis also harbor reservations about music, especially what they call pop music (which presumably includes jazz): Replying to a question on this topic, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the fourth caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, replied in 2010:

it all depends on the degree of the habit and the nature of the music. The music in itself, as a whole, cannot be dubbed as bad. . . . In these things it is a matter of taste. … as far as pop music is concerned I don’t know how people can tolerate that! Just sheer nonsense! I don’t disrespect music altogether, because I know the classical music had some nobility in it. . . . the taste left behind by this modern “so-called music” is ugly and evil, and the society under its influence is becoming uglier and more permissive, more careless of the traditional values, so this music is obviously evil and sinful. . . . an occasional brush with music which draws you into itself at the cost of higher values, at the cost of memory of Allah, at the cost of prayers, where you are taken over by music and that becomes all your ambition and obsession; if that happens then you are a loser, obviously.

 

Tags: Yusef Lateef , jazz , Islam

State Representative Joins Crowded South Carolina Race



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Throw one more hat in the ring, down in South Carolina, that of state representative Andy Patrick:

Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, is joining the increasingly crowded race for the 1st District Congressional seat.

“I have really enjoyed serving the citizens of Hilton Head Island over the last two years and learned a lot about things that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise,” Patrick said Wednesday. “I enjoy developing policy and working towards making things better for people. I’ve demonstrated some success in that area over the last few years.”

Patrick, elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected without opposition in November, has already hired a national consulting firm to run his campaign. RightOn Strategies recently was launched by Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign manager and New Hampshire political veteran, Mike Biundo.

So far, other announced Republican candidates are Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner; Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley; and former state Sen. John Kuhn, R-Charleston. Those still mulling a run include former Gov. Mark Sanford; Sen. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston; Rep. Peter McCoy, R-Charleston; and Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley.

Two Democrats capable of raising the $600,000 or more needed for a campaign are seriously considering a run, said Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party. However, Blaine Lotz of Hilton Head Island is not among them. The chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party announced earlier this week he won’t seek the office.

This is the U.S. House seat vacated by Representative Tim Scott, now serving in the Senate.

Tags: Islam

Senator... Affleck?



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This morning, some new names are being mentioned for the various special elections coming up…

In Massachusetts, Jon Keller of the Boston CBS affiliate is floating a fun but unlikely famous name for that state’s upcoming special Senate election: “Believe it or not, one name I have heard tossed around is that of actor-director Ben Affleck, the pride of Cambridge, who’s been active in Democratic Party politics for more than a decade.”

Hey, the director of “Argo” might have a more clear-eyed view on Iran than, say, Chuck Hagel.

Down in Hilton Head, South Carolina, one Republican and one Democrat are making louder noises about running in the special election for the House seat that Tim Scott will be leaving:

State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, and Beaufort County Democratic Party chairman Blaine Lotz expressed interest Monday, as did a handful of other legislators, in the House seat held by Scott, R-Charleston.

Patrick, elected to a second term Nov. 6 in an uncontested race, said he will discuss a run with his wife and pray about his decision.

“Two weeks ago, I never thought about running for higher office and was focused on doing the best I can representing Hilton Head Island and being a father and husband,” said Patrick, who is chief executive officer of Advance Point Global, a security consulting firm.

“But it is something I need to think about and an opportunity worth considering.”

Lotz ran for Congress — when much of Beaufort County was in the 2nd District — in 2008, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Rob Miller of Lady’s Island, who lost the general election to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale.

Finally, in Chicago, one familiar name turned down a bid: “Jonathan Jackson told ABC7 he is not running for the congressional seat vacated by his brother Jesse Jackson Jr. Jackson said he was considering the seat but decided against it.”

Tags: Islam , Ed Gillespie , Jesse Jackson Jr.

Protests Outside Our Embassies Are Still Going On



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Attention media: Protests, sometimes violent, are still going on outside our embassies and consulates.

Bangkok, Thailand

Hundreds of Thai Muslims gathered in front of the United States embassy in Bangkok on Thursday (September 27) for the third time in as many weeks to protest against an anti-Islam film.

Several hundred protesters crammed the streets in front of the embassy, which remained open. Police confirmed 300 officers were dispatched to the embassy to monitor the crowd.

Protesters took pamphelts containing their statement of protest and made them into paper airplanes, flying them over embassy barricades. They also called on Google and YouTube to take down the film from their sites and ban it world-wide.

While the protest appeared heated at times, there were no incidents of violence. Protesters pushed police officers to get closer to the embassy but didn’t force their way in.

Dhaka, Bangladesh:

Bangladesh police said on Wednesday they had arrested a university professor on suspicion that he planned to lead an attack on the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam film.

Syed Golam Maola was detained late on Monday after counter-terrorism officers questioned an activist from a banned militant group who had taken part in the protest in Dhaka earlier in the day.

“We arrested a young Hizb-ul-Tahrir protester from the demonstration. Later we arrested Maola based on the preliminary information we got from him,” Dhaka Police spokesman Masudur Rahman told AFP.

Maola, described by police as a senior official of the banned group’s Bangladesh chapter, has been remanded in custody for five days by a court for questioning on suspicion that “he planned to attack the US embassy”, Rahman added.

The professor teaches management studies at the prestigious Dhaka University.

Calcutta, India:

Hundreds of Muslims marched towards the American Centre in Kolkata today to protest against an anti-Islam video and to demand that the US authorities apologise for it.The protesters, belonging to Muslim organisations, including the All-Bengal Minorities Youth Federation, broke barricades and tried to approach the highly-fortified American Centre on Chowringee, but were stopped some distance away, police sources said.

Manila, the Philippines:

Filipino Muslims shout slogans as they drive past the US embassy during a motorcade protest against a film they consider blasphemous to Islam in Manila yesterday. A convoy of protesters drove through the busy streets, demanding an online ban on the anti-Islam film that has triggered demonstrations worldwide. Around 200 vehicles traveled along a seven-kilometre stretch and stopped at the embassy.

I suppose it will take another American dying before this ongoing threat to our diplomatic personnel is even mentioned in most venues of the U.S. press.

Tags: Islam

No Future for ‘Those Who Slander the Prophet’?



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Also in today’s Jolt, a look at Obama’s speech at the United Nations, declaring who must own the future and who must not own the future.

President Obama: If You Slander Islam’s Prophet, You Forfeit Your Ownership of the Future

So, what are we to make of the President of the United States speaking before the United Nations and declaring:

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shia pilgrims. It is time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them. That is what America embodies. That’s the vision we will support.

First, notice the trademark Obama passive voice. What does it mean, “the future must not belong to” a particular group?

Does it mean these people won’t be around in the future?

That in the future, their viewpoint will be marginalized? Out of style? Unpopular? Suppressed? That sometime between now and “the future,” they will have changed their mind? That at some point in the future, no one will feel like slandering the prophet of Islam? Is the First Amendment still in effect in this envisioned future, or has it been rewritten or modified on this topic?

How does “the future” belong to one group instead of another? Maybe I have too much of a background in musical theater by non-Mark-Steyn-pundit standards, but anytime I hear somebody declaring, with great emphasis, that tomorrow belongs to them, I start muttering, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

(Another helpful hint: in a Hollywood movie, if you see a character who emphasizes that he and his kind are the future, and those who are different no longer matter, that character is probably the villain.)

I think Matt Welch, over at Reason, speaks for a lot of us here:

[Obama’s speech] deteriorates rapidly from there:

I believe [the video's] message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.

So many things wrong in so few words. Why this video, and not Theo Van Gogh’s Submission, or Lars Vilks’s animation of Mohammed wanting to go to a gay bar, the “Super Best Friends” episode of South Park, or Funny or Die’s “How to Pick a Pocket“? Is it the degree of the insult, the craptasticness of the production values, the size of the release, or the vociferousness of the outrage expressed?

Given the track record of our past two administrations, I think we know the answer to that question, which suggests another thing terrible about this sentence: As Eugene Volokh recently pointed out, “Behavior that gets rewarded, gets repeated.” If all it takes to earn a White House call for global condemnation of a single piece of expression is some violent protests outside a dozen or two diplomatic missions, then the perpetually aggrieved know exactly what to do the next time they pluck out some bit of cultural detritus to be offended by.

It is not any politician’s job, and certainly not any American politician’s job, to instruct the entire world on which films to criticize.

Also, how much of the above remarks are going to flow out through the corners of the Muslim world? How many accounts will just quote the first sentence, that “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”?

(So, with the president going before the world and declaring that Mohammed-mockers have no future, is it a bad time for me to remind everyone that Obama’s favorite television show is Showtime’s “Homeland,” in which a captured POW is revealed to be a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda? This year’s storyline? The captured POW is now in American politics, and appears to be on a fast track to the highest levels of power.)

Obama’s not a Muslim, no matter what Madonna might say.

Tags: Barack Obama , Islam , United Nations

Is the U.S. ‘Taking Action’ Against the YouTube Filmmaker?



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In the course of doing this roundup below, I came across this curious description of a meeting between the U.S. ambassador in Nepal and a group of Muslim leaders:

KATHMANDU, Sept 24 :Leaders of various Muslim organizations on Monday submitted a memorandum to US embassy in Kathmandu, in protest of a film produced in the US that ‘denigrates’ Islam´s Prophet Muhammad.

A delegation comprising, Taj Mohammad Miya, Ghulam Rashud Miya and Kaisar Sah handed the letter to Scott R Sanford, political affairs chief at the embassy, in Maharjgunj late this morning. 

Talking to Republica Online, Gulam Rashid Miya, a delegation member, said they drew the US attention to the ‘offence’ caused by the film to the faith of Muslim fraternity in Nepal and all over the world.

They have also expressed their concerns over the ‘character assassination’ of the Prophet Muhammad.

According to him, during the meeting, the embassy official told them that the US government as well as 99 percent of US citizens is against the production of the film. He also informed that his government is in the process of taking action against the producer of the film and assured that the US government has no intention of hurting the sentiments of any religious faiths.

Now, who the heck knows if this Nepali news source is accurate, whether the Nepali Muslim leader is accurately describing the ambassador’s statement, or whether something’s getting lost in translation, or whether this is just a reference to the “questioning” the filmmaker had from federal officials about whether he violated his parole, or the White House reaching out to YouTube to review the video to see if it was in compliance with their terms of use. (The filmmaker was later released, and he and his family are reportedly in hiding.)

Nonetheless, even if this is some sort of innocent mistake, it is certainly unnerving that Muslims in other countries are being left with the impression that the U.S. government is “in the process of taking action against the producer of the film.”

Tags: Islam

The Islamist Protests Outside Our Embassies Aren’t Tapering Off



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Check your favorite mainstream U.S. news publications and see if they have any coverage of angry Muslim protests outside American embassies, consulates, and other institutions associated with the United States.

No? If there’s no coverage, it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen:

Greece:

Rioting Muslims took to the streets of Athens on Sunday afternoon, in protest against the film that mocked Mohammed. Around 1,000 Muslims hurled bottles and other objects at police that were trying to prevent the rioters descending on the U.S. Embassy.

Protesting Muslims gathered in Omonia Square holding banners proclaiming “We demand an immediate punishment for those who tried to mock our Prophet Mohammad” Ekathimerini reported.

Shouting “Allah is great” they assaulted police with bottles, stones and slabs of marble they broke from the sidewalks, as police tried to prevent the protesters approaching the U.S. Embassy.

Greek riot police resorted to tear gas to control the protesters and protect the security zone they had established around the U.S. Embassy. Hellas Frappe described the scene in central Athens as a “war zone.”

In Sri Lanka:

Sri Lanka’s police barricaded the US embassy in Colombo for the second time in four days Monday as thousands of Muslims gathered to denounce an anti-Islam film which has sparked protests worldwide.

An estimated 20,000 people carrying anti-US and anti-Semitic placards marched towards the embassy during heightened security for the World Twenty20 cricket tournament hosted by Sri Lanka.

A ruling party stalwart, Alavi Moulana, was seen among the Muslims taking part in the orderly and peaceful demonstration that blocked traffic for several hours.

“Dear Muslims around the world, stop purchasing Jewish products such as Coca Cola, KFC, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Fanta, Pizza Hut, You Tube, D and G etc,” said a banner carried by protesters.

“Who is behind the film? Jews,” said another anti-Semitic placard carried by the demonstrators. The anti-Islam film has been produced by, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, reportedly a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster, based in Los Angeles and currently out on parole.

In the Philippines:

Hundreds of Filipino-Muslims held a protest rally in front of the US embassy in Manila, calling for a total ban on the controversial anti-Islam film.

Filipino-Muslim leaders in southern Philippines asked the Supreme Court on Monday to compel the Philippine government to stop the screening of the film entitled Innocence of Muslims.

About 300 protesters managed to sneak on several side roads leading to Manila’s Roxas Boulevard but they failed to reach the front of the heavily guarded US Embassy, a radio report said.

Instead, the protesters raised high several placards, one of which said, “Freedom of religion prevails over freedom of expression”.

“American leaders should categorically ask for the total ban of the film on the internet. Their failure to do so means “double standard” on the part of authorities when it comes to protecting Muslim sentiment,” said Agakhan Sharief, a leader of the protesters.

Nigeria:

Shi’ite Muslims in the Nigerian town of Katsina burned U.S., French and Israeli flags and a religious leader called for protests to continue until the makers of the film and cartoons are punished.

Pakistan:

In Pakistan, where fifteen people were killed in protests on Friday, a government minister has offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the maker of the short, amateurish video “The Innocence of Muslims”. Calls have increased for a U.N. measure outlawing insults to Islam and blasphemy in general.

Turkey:

In U.S. ally Turkey, a secular Muslim state often seen as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West, protesters set fire to U.S. and Israeli flags on Sunday.

“May the hands that touch Mohammad break,” chanted some 200 protesters before peacefully dispersing.

Indonesia:

Meanwhile in Bali, the U.S. Consulate on Jalan Hayum Wuruk was temporarily closed on Friday, September 21, 2012 and an extra police and military presence put in place in anticipation of any possible protests in Bali.

Tags: Islam

Back When ‘Saturday Night Live’ Mocked Muslim Outrage



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In light of the continuing Muslim protests and violence in opposition to a YouTube video, it is worth looking back to the first time the United States encountered the reaction of Muslims, at home and abroad, to speech they deem blasphemous: the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in 1988, and the reaction in 1989.

This may have been the very first sketch I saw on “Saturday Night Live.” (You may have to endure an Obama ad on Hulu before the sketch starts.)

It inspired quite a few chuckles in my house; at that time, my father worked in New York City in an office around the corner from one of the largest Barnes & Noble bookstores in Manhattan, and he told me about the roaring crowds of protesters, chanting about Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

Some may find the sketch prophetic. The late Phil Hartman as one war-scarred bookseller begins the sketch by lamenting, “In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have caved on that first book. But I don’t think it would have made a difference. This was inevitable!”

“Maybe not,” says a young Glenn Close as the other. “Maybe if we had defied the Ayatollah’s threats right from the start, the right to lifers, the Colombians, and the IRA wouldn’t have gotten the same idea!”

At the conclusion of the sketch, showcasing how buying a book requires running past furious gunfire, Hartman contemplates what they would have to do to end the onslaught: “Maybe we sell only Muslim books! Ayatollah birthday sale!” (People may prefer Hartman’s earlier rallying cry, “READ IT IN LEAD, YOU BOOK-BURNING BASTARDS!”)

We’ve forgotten a lot of the details about the reaction to Rushdie’s book, including the instances of what we would now call Islamist violence or terrorism on American soil:

Molotov cocktails were thrown through the windows of Cody’s, a Berkeley institution that helped nurture the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s, and a Berkeley outlet of the Waldenbooks chain. Neither store was badly damaged. A firebomb seriously damaged offices of The Riverdale Press, a Bronx weekly newspaper that published an editorial last week defending The Satanic Verses.

A film critical of Khomeini was withdrawn from the Los Angeles Film Festival after concerns about security. Waldenbooks pulled the book from its stores, and Barnes & Noble capitulated as well.

Attacks on American institutions in Pakistan over alleged blasphemy are a longstanding tradition, it seems:

February 12, 1989: Police open fire on anti-Rushdie demonstrators storming the American cultural center in Islamabad, Pakistan. Five are killed and 100 wounded. Later in the day, the American Express office is sacked.

And if you think our embassy in Pakistan is being apologetic about the YouTube tape, maybe things weren’t that much better in 1989:

The American Embassy in Islamabad issues a statement: “The U.S. government in no way supports or associates itself with any activity that is in any way offensive or insulting to Islam or any other religion.” [There is no mention of the fact that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech -- "any" speech.]

President George H. W. Bush, however, did eventually give a straightforward statement:

However offensive that book may be, inciting murder and offering rewards for its perpetration are deeply offensive to the norms of civilized behavior. And our position on terrorism is well known. In the light of Iran’s incitement, should any action be taken against American interests, the Government of Iran can expect to be held accountable.

Secretary of State James Baker said in congressional testimony:

We have made our views known with respect to how we feel without endorsing the book. We haven’t read the book, and we’re not, in expressing our displeasure, endorsing some of the statements that might be contained in the book. We, of course, endorse the right of anyone to make those statements and to write such. We endorse the freedom of speech rights.

Is our government handling today’s outbursts better or worse than it did 1989?

Tags: Islam

Violent Protests Continue, Whether the U.S. Press Corps Notices or Not



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Despite the fact that Romney’s “47 percent” remark dominated the headlines for much of the week, the preeminent news of the previous week — violent attacks and protests against U.S. embassies and consulates across the Muslim world — did not go away. Violent protests continued during the week, and today is Islam’s congregational prayer day. We can expect some groups to come out of their mosques riled up and full of fervor, out to express their outrage over the video and any other perceived insults to Islam in . . . flag-burning, rock-throwing, and perhaps much worse violence.

Across the globe, American embassies and consulates are shutting down, and the first reports of threats and violence are coming in:

Uganda:

Some Muslim clerics in Uganda are calling for protests against a film made in the U.S. that mocks the Prophet Muhammad.

Sheikh Hassan Kirya, the spokesman for an influential group of Muslims, said Friday that such plans were “in their final stages” and could include a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.

In an emergency message, the U.S. Embassy reported Friday of the “heightened potential for anti-American demonstrations throughout Uganda . . . due to the current wave of anti-Western sentiment.”

It urged U.S. citizens to “keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary travel.”

India:

The United States embassy in New Delhi was shut on Friday and employees were asked to stay on the compound due to the risk of protests over an anti-Islam film, embassy sources said.

Police in Kashmir fired tear gas at protesters on Friday who defied an unofficial curfew in the main city of Srinagar, where angry demonstrations are common after Friday prayers. Kashmir was roiled by protests last Friday and police in the southern Indian city of Chennai detained 86 protesters who attacked the US consulate, smashing windows and security cameras.

Malaysia:

About 3,000 Muslims marched on the United States (US) embassy in Malaysia on Friday, burning an American flag topped with the Jewish Star of David, over a US-made film that has sparked anger in the Islamic world.

Although there was no violence, angry demonstrators declared their willingness to sacrifice their lives to defend the honour of Islam’s founder the Prophet Muhammad and warned “there will be consequences” over the film.

“We will not allow The Prophet to be insulted. We are willing to sacrifice our lives and property,” said Mr Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, an official with the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which spearheaded the march.

Australia:

Americans living Down Under, stay home.

That’s the message the U.S. consulate is sending its citizens in Australia, given the prospect of anti-American protests in Sydney’s Hyde Park and Martin Place this weekend. Last weekend, protests in Sydney over a video made in the U.S. that mocked the Prophet Muhammad turned violent.

At least six men were charged after a clash broke out between police and protestors in front of the U.S. consulate.

Pakistan . . .

American diplomatic missions in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, were the prime targets for the mobs, but all were heavily guarded by police, who had set up road blocks using shipping containers. The army was on stand-by in Islamabad and elsewhere, according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who also ordered that shutting down of cell phone services.

The crowd attacked shops and other property and burned tires. In the northwestern city of Peshawar, the iconic Firdous cinema was set on fire, and at least 17 people were injured, including three police officers. A Pakistani television journalist, working for the ARY channel, was reportedly shot dead.

Elsewhere in Pakistan:

The protests come a day after about 100 small children in Karachi repeated anti-American slogans during a protest in the coastal Pakistani city, a police official said.

Video showed children repeating an adult voice that said “Death to America” and “Any friend of America is a traitor.”

But our government is not helpless in the face of this violence. They are responding . . . with television commercials:

The American embassy in Islamabad, in a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.

UPDATE: Yeek! Take a look at how Muslims are responding to the video on Facebook. The comments suggest they are . . . not placated by the administration’s efforts, and that these folks aren’t interested in any calm, reasonable dialogue.

Tags: Islam

As the Middle East Burns, Obama Talks Tax Returns



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The afternoon headlines:

AP:

As a precaution amid rising anti-American protests, diplomats in the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, have started destroying classified material.

AP:

In a rare public appearance, the leader of the militant Hezbollah group exhorted hundreds of thousands of supporters Monday to keep up the campaign against an anti-Islam video that has unleashed deadly violence and anger at the United States across the Muslim world.

Meanwhile in Pakistan:

Hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the film torched a press club and a government building in the northwestern town of Wari, setting off clashes with police that killed one demonstrator and wounded several others.

And in Afghanistan:

Demonstrations turned violent outside a U.S. military base in Kabul, where about 800 protesters burned cars and threw rocks at Camp Phoenix. Many in the crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our Prophet.”

And in Indonesia:

Hundreds clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tires alight. It was the first violence seen in the world’s most populous Muslim country since international outrage over the film exploded last week. Eleven policemen were rushed to the hospital after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks, while four protesters were arrested and one was hospitalized.

Meanwhile at home . . .

President Obama today sharpened a personal line of attack on his Republican rival, mocking Romney’s tax proposals and renewing a charge that he is an outsourcing “pioneer.” “I’ve actually done my own taxes,” Obama said, showing a hint of disdain for Romney at a rally in Eden Park.

Tags: Barack Obama , Islam , Mitt Romney

Alleged Islam-Mocking YouTube Filmmaker Released, Now in Hiding



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If this report is correct, the alleged filmmaker of the YouTube video — the one that the administration says is the cause or catalyst of violence at our embassies and consulates, while others argue is merely the latest excuse or fig leaf — is now released, and in hiding:

Three unmarked sheriff’s vehicles made their way into the residential cul-de-sac at about 3:40 a.m. Monday to pick up the family members of 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who left the Cerritos residence just after midnight Saturday under the glare of a handful of news cameras.

Cerritos sheriff’s Capt. Joe A. Gonzales and sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore looked on as members of the Cerritos sheriff’s Special Assignment Operations (SAO) Team — three deputies, a sergeant, and a lieutenant — approached the front door, but were then asked to go the the side gate by the residents inside.

A few minutes later, four family members — Nakoula’s wife, his two sons and a daughter — walked out of the same black wrought-iron side gate the infamous patriarch of their family did just two nights before. The family, clad in hooded sweatshirts and jackets used to cover their heads and faces, quickly scurried towards the three sheriff’s vehicles, placing a few bags and belongings in the trunk before getting into the cars.

At 3:49 a.m., the three vehicles drove off, taking the Nakoulas to the Cerritos Station, where they reunited with Mr. Nakoula and the family departed in their own vehicle.

“They have no plans of returning back to their Cerritos home and plan to relocate elsewhere,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore told Patch.

Whitmore said the Nakoulas brought with them only what they could carry, adding that the family told him they “wanted to get to a safe location where they could resume a certain normalcy.”

If you mock Islam, you take your life in your hands. If you mock Christianity, the biggest risk you run is that you might not get a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

There is some dispute as to precisely what role this gentleman had on the YouTube video; he told the AP that he was “logistics manager,” not the director.

The Los Angeles Times laid out the official explanation for why Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies brought the man into custody in the middle of the night:

On Friday, U.S. courts spokeswoman Karen Redmond said the Office of Probation in the Central District of California was reviewing whether Nakoula, who has been convicted on bank fraud charges, violated terms of his probation in relation to the video and its uploading onto the Internet.

He had been ordered not to own or use devices with access to the Internet without approval from his probation officer -– and any approved computers were to be used for work only. “Defendant shall not access a computer for any other purpose,” the terms read.

Glenn Reynolds argued that the detaining of the man constituted President Obama violating his oath of office to protect the Constitution, and its First Amendment:

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.

Tags: Barack Obama , Islam

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