Thursday, 31 May 2012
Religion and Inspiration
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by Rebecca Bynum (June 2012)


To me, it seems there are two types of religious leaders in the world: those who desire their disciples to emulate their every thought and deed as life’s greatest ideal and those who desire to inspire others to find God in their own way by giving them guidance, but not orders. Those who aspire to be the model for righteous conduct for all time doom their latter day followers to copy customs of another time and place, making them a curiosity (in the case of the Amish or Fundamentalist Mormons) or a serious threat to human progress (in the case of Muslims). Sadly, they must live within their own closed systems to which the wider world is ever a threat not a challenge.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:52 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Experimenters in Sentences and Selves
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by David Wemyss (June 2012)


I had the misfortune recently to be caught in a most uncongenial conversation in a coffee house. All those present were in superficial agreement that a controversial new development in the city centre was a folly, and I offered the view that political opposition to the plan looked impossible now, and that it would only be stopped if the funding fell apart. Someone wondered if a rare wildlife discovery could impede it. I replied that the political will to go ahead was so strong that a rare wildlife discovery would be dismissed in terms of “green fanatics getting in the way of progress, and putting jobs and prosperity at risk”. The reaction was striking. Just momentarily, some of them clearly thought that this was my opinion.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:49 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Strictly for the Birds
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by Theodore Dalrymple (June 2012)


From the window in my study I can see the bird table in our small garden. Although I am no ornithologist, I can tell a hawk from a handsaw, or rather a thrush from a jackdaw, and the behaviour of the birds amuses me greatly. It sometimes distracts, or perhaps I should say diverts, me from what I should be doing.  more>>>

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Posted on 05/31/2012 12:43 PM by NER
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
Mona Eltahawy Can't Bring Herself To Identify Islam As The Source Of The Mistreatment Of Muslim Women And Leila Ahmad Doesn't Want Her To Even Raise The Issue
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Watch, and listen, here.

Note how careful Mona Eltahawy, when she discusses the young girls forced into "marriages" in Islam, not to mention the example of Muhammad with little Aisha. And when she says that it's a mix of things -- "religion, culture, law" -- that explain such things as clitoridectomy, she doesn't appear to realize that the "culture" is the one that is formed over centuries in a society suffused with Islam, and the "law" in question is that which takes as its guide, its model, the Sharia or Holy Law of Islam.

And note how grey-haired, thoughtful, half-Turkish Leila Ahmed, of whom one might expect better, keeps talking about the "liberals" (who are not quite as liberal as Western enthusiasts assume when it comes to Islam-prompted attitudes toward the West and Israel) of the "Arab Spring" without recognizing that it doesn't matter who starts a revolution, but who inherits it, and right now the Ikhwan rules the Egyptian Parliament and may take the Presidency as well.

Both are determined -- Ahmed more so, I think -- to protect Islam. And to the discerning and well-informed, their desire to protect Islam, its teachings and tenets and the attitudes that naturally are produced in societies suffused with Islam, vitiates their timid attempts to be, as Leila Ahmed is so often described, as a "feminist" student of Islam. She's a Defender of Islam, more deliberately so than the slightly more excitable Eltahawy who wants to Make A Splash (Eltahawy may remind some of Irshad Manji), but for her too, despite her claim that "for me my gender comes first" is determined to deflect analysis of the role of Islam -- the central role -- in what she calls "misogyny in the Middle East."

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Posted on 05/31/2012 9:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
In Egypt, With Collapse Of Security, Grave-Robbers Having A Field Day (In Italian)
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Watch, and listen, here.

The story has not yet appeared in the English-language press. When it does, it will be posted.

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Posted on 05/31/2012 8:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 May 2012
O Good God, It's Still Here
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As of May 30, 2012:

"I would simply say that it is our belief, and it's the belief that we express in these conversations, that supporting the Assad regime is placing oneself or one's nation on the wrong side of history," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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Posted on 05/31/2012 6:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Ivan Rioufol: The West, And Its History, And Those Who Would Negate Both
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From lefigaro.fr:

La défaite de Nicolas Sarkozy, le 6 mai, a été comprise, par les liquidateurs de l’identité nationale, comme leur propre victoire. Pour eux, rien n’est plus insupportable à entendre que les références à l’histoire et à la civilisation occidentale. Mardi, dans L’Humanité, l’historien Nicolas Offensdadt invitait à "sortir d’urgence du "roman national "", en critiquant l’"héritage sarkozyste" qui reposerait "sur une histoire de "la gloire française" à vocation identitaire et bling-bling, conçue par des grands hommes, de grands événements" (1). Ce drôle d’historien, qui prône un "usage modéré de l’histoire avec des références républicaines valorisant la période postrévolutionnaire", espère bien que les socialistes abandonneront le projet de Maison de l’histoire de France, accusé d’avoir été "pensé comme une illustration historique de l’identité nationale". Aucune critique n’avait évidemment été portée quand il s’était agi d’ouvrir la Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration, Palais de la Porte Dorée, à Paris.  Et dans Le Monde daté de ce mercredi, un journaliste pose à Laurent Fabius, ministre des affaires étrangères, cette question : "La France doit-elle, selon vous, porter un message qui la démarque  de la notion de "famille occidentale?"". Fabius : "Nous n’entrerons certainement pas dans une logique de "conflit de civilisation". Ce gouvernement croit à des principes comme le respect des droits de l’homme, la démocratie, le développement durable, l’internationalisme, la recherche de la paix".

Si les mots ont un sens, Fabius reconnaît donc implicitement l’existence d’un possible conflit de civilisation entre l’Occident et le monde musulman, qui n’est ici pas désigné mais suggéré. Ce choc, que nient les autruches, est bien sûr une réalité comme le rappelle Hamid Zanaz, qui sait de quoi il parle pour en être le témoin (2): "Il serait instructif de traduire aux Occidentaux les médisances et les insultes dont ils sont l’objet dans la presse, dans les prêches et dans les déclarations politiques… ! Le discours dominant dans le monde arabo-musulman est hostile à l’Occident et à ses religions. Pourquoi ne parle-t-on jamais d’ "Occidentalophobie" ?".  La réponse évasive du numéro deux du gouvernement est à rapprocher du jugement de Jean-Luc Mélenchon, pour qui  "La France  n’est pas une nation occidentale mais une nation universaliste". Cette analyse laisse comprendre qu’au lieu de protéger la civilisation occidentale et ses valeurs laïques, égalitaires et humanistes (déclaration qui avait valu à Claude Guéant, ancien ministre de l’intérieur, d’être accusé de racisme et d’islamophobie), les socialistes sont prêts aux abandons nécessaires de l’encombrant héritage occidental. On sait où cette politique de l’apaisement a déjà mené la France avec Daladier. Ecouter Einstein : "La folie c’est de faire encore et toujours la même chose en s’attendant à des résultats différents".

(1) Mon confrère Pierre Darcourt rend un bel hommage aux héros militaires que se sont battus pour la France, dans un petit livre qui vient de paraître : L’honneur et le sang, Les guerriers sacrifiés, Edition  Nimrod
(2) Hamid Zanaz: L’islamisme vrai visage de l’islam, Les éditions de Paris

Coup de chapeau également à l’écrivain algérien Boualem Sansal, qui se bat pour les libertés dans son pays, a qui le magazine Stiletto a remis, mardi à Paris, le prix du Roman-news pour Rue Darwin (Gallimard).
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Posted on 05/30/2012 9:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Rutherford County Refuses to Halt Mosque Construction Despite Court Decision Voiding Permit
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Bob Smietana writes in The Tennessean:

Rutherford County has no immediate plans revoke the building permit for an embattled Murfreesboro mosque.

“The county is going to look at all the possibilities,” said Jim Cope, attorney for Rutherford County. “This could take weeks.”

Construction at the new Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was set to continue today, despite a judge’s decision that voided the county planning commission’s approval of the project. But the judge did not order a stop to the construction.

Opponents of the mosque want construction to end immediately. Mosque officials say the work will continue until they get official word to stop.

“There are two sides here that disagree,” said Cope. “The county is not the umpire here.”

Cope said that county officials are waiting for a court order from Judge Robert Corlew III before taking their next step. They could file a motion to reconsider or appeal the judge’s decision.

Blocking the mosque project could lead to a federal lawsuit under the religious anti-discrimination laws.

Did the Justice Department make a threatening phone call? Most likely.

“There are a lot of moving parts in this,” said Cope.

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Posted on 05/30/2012 1:38 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
A Musical Interlude: Blue-Eyed Jane (Doc Watson)
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Listen here.

Now list as many things as you can about this performance -- the music, the lyrics, the performers, the everyhting -- that Muslims would find objectionable.

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Posted on 05/30/2012 1:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Statement of Kevin Fisher Lead Plaintiff in Murfreesboro Mosque Case
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Kevin Fisher, Protest Rally Organizer and
Lead Plaintiff
Rutherford County Courthouse
July 14, 2010

The following is a official statement issued by Kevin Fisher, lead plaintiff in the successful Rutherford County Chancery Court case with the ruling issued yesterday by Chancellor Robert E. Corwell, III, Fisher has been in the forefront of protests and litigation regarding the Rutherford County Planning Commission decision on May 24, 2010 approving the construction of a Mega-Mosque for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

Statement of Kevin Fisher

May 29, 2012

Statement of Kevin Fisher, lead Plaintiff in Victorious in Mufreesboro Chancery Court Proceeding

I would like to take a moment to thank all the citizens of Rutherford County who have stuck by us throughout this process. For two long years, we residents have had to unfairly be subjected to name-calling, false accusations of bigotry and religious discrimination, and having the very moral integrity of this fair and loving community questioned. We took the proverbial "high road," opting not to descend into the political and controversial madness of outsiders, agitators, and rabble-rousers, and chose instead to trust in our faith in God, in our community, our system of government, and in the bedrock principles and values upon which this great country was founded. This morning, we citizens of Rutherford County woke up to a new day full of hope, promise and an even stronger belief that justice is alive, well, and breathing freely in the USA!

We will continue our efforts. There is still a lot of work to do, far too many questions left unanswered, and too many concerns unaddressed. Even after two years, not one issue aside from the issue over adequate notice has been addressed concerning the project itself. Not one! Nothing has been said about lost property values, water drainage, traffic concerns, burials, to name just a few. I call on every citizen of this community to contact your commissioners, contact your planning committee members, and call your neighbors. Voice your concerns, and take part in this process. Make your voices heard. Joe Brandon and Thomas Smith have been pillars of strength, knowledge and integrity throughout this process, and true defenders of our rights and freedoms guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of this great land. God bless them, and please continue to uplift them, in prayer and in commerce. We simply could not have asked for two better, more determined guarantors of justice! At the beginning of this endeavor, we promised to challenge every blade of grass cut paving the way for this project, and thanks to Joe and Tom, we have done this!

Finally, this ruling by our honorable Judge Robert Corwell, III  was more than a victory for us, the plaintiffs in this case. This was a victory for every hard working, taxpaying citizen of this great community. This victory shows that today, here in America, the rights of everyday citizens like you and I must be respected, and that our voices and our concerns must be heard and addressed. This ruling so clearly showed that this government, corrupted as it may be, is still beholden and fully accountable to its citizens, and not the other way around. We are that "shining city" President Reagan so often alluded to.

I am truly honored to say thank you to all my fellow plaintiffs, with a special thank you to Mr. Henry Golzynski. This man has been an inspiration to me throughout this process, and to Henry I say thank you and your family for the sacrifices made by your son Marc and other soldiers in defense of America and all its citizens. We have never, and will never forget. To Howard and Sally Wall, God bless you for standing with this community, as you always have. Lou Ann Zelenick, thank you for being a friend, a great source of information, and an inspiration to me and many others involved in this process. Finally, but certainly not least, to all the wonderful volunteers, families, associates and friends who have joined us along the way.  Thank you for your countless hours of dedication and perseverance in the face of scathing adversity and unrelenting pressure. I am proud of my community, I always have been, and will forever be, a proud Rutherford Countian! Today, and every day are great days to be alive, and living in Tennessee.

One final note: to Mr. Saleh Sbenaty, a resident of this community for many years. Sir, I urge you and call on you now to refrain from unfairly criticizing and besmirching the wonderful, reputable members of this community with your false accusations of bigotry and religious discrimination. These tactics do nothing but incite fear, hate and make the process of ensuring the freedoms and rights of all citizens much more difficult. I'm sure this is not your intent; you seem to be a genuinely reputable man of great integrity, and I applaud you for your many years of service as an educator in this community. As a taxpayer in this community, you have earned your right to share in the political process of this community, and I welcome your input anytime, anyplace about relevant political and social issues facing this wonderful community, and about this proposed facility. However, it is highly inappropriate to continue to question the dedication of this community to fairness, equality, and opportunity for all its citizens, and I would welcome you to join us in addressing genuine concerns facing this project and to refrain from the hurtful name-calling which has wounded this beloved community to its core. Thank you.
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Posted on 05/30/2012 10:03 AM by Kevin Fisher
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
A Musical Interlude: I'm Beginning To See The Light (Harry James Orch., voc. Kitty Kallen)
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Listen here.
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Posted on 05/30/2012 10:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Copts Are "Traitors" For Not Having Supported The Muslim Brotherhood
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From AINA (Assyrian International News Agency)

Mary Abdelmassih

-- The official results of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections were announced today, the run-off will be between Mohamed Morsy, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Air Marshal Ahmad Shafik, Mubarak's last PM, who served for less than one month during the revolution and before Mubarak was ousted.

This results, which were expected since Friday, has enraged many Egyptians who feel that they are left with two options, each worst than the other, namely either going back to the Mubarak regime represented by Shafik or the Islamists who will drag Egypt into being another Afghanistan or Iran. Nasserist candidate Hamdeed Sabahy, favored by a great number of youth -- especially those who participated in the 25 January Revolution, came in third.

Many Islamists, fearing Shafik if he comes to power, especially after vowing to bring back order and security within one month of his election, are blaming Copts for voting for Shafik and bringing him to second place. Copts have been accused of being "traitors" and "anti-revolutionary" for voting to bring back the old regime.

Nearly 6,000,000 Christian Copts were eligible to vote, from a total Coptic population of 18,000,000 Copts (according to the Church's data).

These accusations against the Copts, which started last Friday after the preliminary elections results were released, are seen by many as a real threat to Copts. "These accusations are part of a terror and intimidation campaign to prevent them from voting again for Shafik," said Egyptian writer Saad Namnam, "or even boycotting the elections altogether, which would be the same as voting for Morsy."

Two days ago The Islamic group Gama'a al-Islamiyya issued a statement which said that the advance of Ahmed Shafik in the elections was due to several reasons. Firstly "sectarian voting, where the Copts gave their votes to Shafik at the direction of the church, which is unfortunate."

"We have been bombarded by the media by accusations from the revolutionary youths and prominent Islamist leaders," said Caroline Asaad, of Maspero Coptic Youths Federation. "Our friends at college, work and our neighbors all accuse the Egyptian Church of high treason by directing Copts to vote for Shafik." Caroline said she voted for Sabahi while her parents voted for Shafik.

"What did they want us to do?" said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid. "Whoever says that supporting Shafik is a crime against the '25 January Revolution', we ask him to advise us whom to vote for? The sea is in front of us and the Islamists are behind us."

Dr Emad Gad, MP and deputy director of Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, said this campaign against the Copts is a prepared strategy by the Muslim Brotherhood to increase the chances of their candidate in the run-off election, by promoting a lie that votes of the Copts helped Shafik to advance. "This is not true at all. The largest block of votes for Shafik was in the four provinces of the Delta, namely Sharkia, Gharbia, Menoufiah and Dakahila, where the Copts make up only 5% of the total population." He added that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists usually say the total number of the Copts does not exceed 6% of the population. "So does this ratio have the ability to turn the election results upside down?"

Christian politician George Ishaq, of the Dostor Party, said that it is not true that the Coptic vote was behind Shafik getting second place. "To accuse the Christians of all voting for Shafik is not true, as the Christians are not one voting block. Christian youths voted for Hamdeen Sabahi, those who are older voted for Shafik and Amr Moussa." He added that those who voted for Shafik were the "remnants" of the Mubarak regime and members of his dissolved NDP Party, some Christians who fear a religious state as well as all those who fear the Revolution.

This was confirmed by results of a Coptic voting trends survey carried out by Coptic website Christian Dogma. The results were divided between Shafik, Ex-Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi.

Dr. Gad believes the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups want to bring religion into the elections again, as votes for their candidate Morsy have declined, having received only half the votes the Muslim Brotherhood got in the parliamentary elections.

"There is no better way to reap votes like getting religion into elections; to do so you have to mobilize people through religion," says Dr. Gad. "You also deprive your opponent of his supporters or the largest number of them, and the easiest way to do this in Egypt is to speak to uneducated or simple Egyptians, and tell them that your rival is the candidate of the Church, and Copts support him." He said that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists tried it in the parliamentary elections and succeeded. "Certainly, the Muslim Brotherhood's plan to seize the post of President during the run-off is to 'religionalize' the run-off on the one hand and intensify talk about Coptic support for Shafik on the other."

Some TV programs and their guests defended the Copts. "Copts should not be blamed, but blame those who terrorized them," said ex-presidential candidate Khaled Ali. Most media guests said the dismal performance of Islamists in parliament was the reason why voters turned away from them to other candidates, especially those looking for stability.

Egyptians who voted for Shafik believe that they would not re-elect him after four years if he fails them, but with the Muslim Brotherhood, they believe they would never get rid of them once they have control of all the organs of government.

Bishop Anba Pachomius, the acting Patriarch of Coptic Church, denied that the Church had any role in Shafik reaching the run-off election, saying that the Coptic citizen has the right to choose the next president who represents his aspirations, and no one has any right to dictate to him any opinion. He added that the church did not decide so far on a particular candidate to support for the run-off election before considering his stance on Article II of the Constitution, which is vital for this decision, as it should also ensure that Copts resort to their laws and their holy books with regards to their personal status laws. Article II states "Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia]."

In an interview published in al-Dostor Daily on Sunday, Bishop Pachomius pointed the necessity to specify the criteria that must be met in the presidential candidate, "mainly believing in a secular state, the principle of citizenship, the adoption of the common law for building of houses of worship, and the personal laws for non-Muslims." The Coptic Orthodox Church had issued a statement before the elections saying that it is not endorsing any candidate.

Tarek el Zomor, a prominent figure of the Gama'a al-Islamiyya "demanded an apology from the Copts "for voting for Shafik, as "this was a fatal error." This has enraged Copts.

"What if most Christians agreed among themselves to have allegiance to the candidate with the least inclinations towards a religious State? Where is the offense in it and why wonder about it?" commented Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub. "Did they really expect a Christian to choose a president to represent him from those who cut off the ear of a Christian (AINA 3-26-2011), blocked the railways in objection to the appointment of a Christian governor in Qena (AINA 5-3-2011), burn down several churches and who are diligently working to write a Constitution which undermines the rights of Christians? Then I do not know what apology is demanded from us Christians by Zomor? And to whom? And why?"

Tarek El-Zomor was convicted in 1984 for his role in the assassination of Egypt's former President Anwar Sadat and for belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. He was released by the military council in March 2011.

On Saturday May 26, during a TV interview on Al Nahar TV with prominent presenter Mahmoud Saad, Dr. Morsy said that Egypt is for everyone and that Muslims and Christians are equal before the law. Addressing the Copts, Morsy said that he cannot imagine that there is any Copt who would contribute towards the return of the former regime.

Morsy wondered whether over the past 80 years (since the Muslim Brotherhood was founded) if anyone has heard of any attack by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood against any Copt. He said that Copts took part in the Revolution and the bullets of the former regime did not differentiate between a Muslim or Copt. He vowed to the Copts that they will be Egyptian citizens before the law, in their rights and duties (video).

Addressing Morsy, popular anchor Amr Adib said yesterday during his program Cairo Today, which is viewed by millions of Egyptians, it is no good making promises on TV. "If you want the votes of the Copts then give them a signed document that it is possible for a Copt to be president or vice-president of Egypt, or even that a Copt could be allowed to be head of the Gynecology Department at a hospital, of which they are deprived."

By Mary Abdelmassih
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Posted on 05/30/2012 9:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Pandering with Junk Science
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Two successive administrations now have sought to appease Muslims by minimizing the threat from Islamists. Indeed, science has now been enlisted in that effort. Early stimulus came from the White House.

Hours after 9/11, a Republican president allowed a host of Saudi elites to flee the US by chartered aircraft before the blood was dry at the World Trade Center. Never mind that most of the Manhattan suicide martyrs were Saudis. The political cue then was meant for domestic and foreign consumption; to wit, America would not hold passive aggressors, sponsor nations, or Islamic propaganda, accountable for the atrocities of “extremists.”

From the beginning, the majority of Muslims were anointed “moderates,” on the authority of an asserted conclusion. Concurrently, fellaheen danced in the streets of Arabia. No matter; blame for the terror threat was still confined to specific non-government agents like al Qa’eda or the Taliban. By fiat, Islamic terrorism was fenced as isolated criminal phenomena with local motives; in short, militant jihad was represented as a perversion of, not a tenet of, Islamic theology or Muslim politics.

This politically correct illusion was reinforced by an Obama administration in a series of forays into the Ummah where the American president declared unequivocally that America, and NATO by extension, is not at war with Islam or Muslims. Never mind that NATO or American troops might be killing Muslims in four, or is it five, separate venues. “We are not at war!” was the party line. And never mind that Obama has yet to visit Israel as president.

Less well known is the “independent” science which now backfills or rationalizes the political Esperanto of the last decade.  A RAND Corporation report, How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qai’da, is an example. Notice the assumption embedded in the title; “counter” not defeat. The body of the report is devoted to asserting that terror (a military tactic) is best addressed by political, not military means. Separating war, an amalgam of tactics and strategy, from politics is not an assumption that Churchill or Eisenhower would have made. A politically correct world-view turns logic on its head; tactics are confused with strategy.

The RAND report ignores the larger strategic phenomena of jihad bis saif and protected Islamist hate mongering. But the bottom line of this “systematic” analysis is the most revealing: “Terrorists should be perceived as criminals, not holy warriors.” Such assertions are a kind of strategic masochism, not science; not even common sense.

How the West views Islam is more important then how Islamists act - or see themselves? By such logic, Arizona sheriffs might be deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan instead of the US Marines. And by such logic, where might the holy warriors, if caught, be tried; lower Manhattan? Treating terror as crime allows the lazy analyst with an agenda to dismiss the political implications of Islamism.

Another RAND paper on another recent South Asia massacre, entitled “Lessons of Mumbai,” is an even better example of cooked books; a case where analysis and credibility is undone by evidence ignored.

The Mumbai attack was unique in two respects; a small Jewish center was targeted, the occupants were slaughtered; and the hotel hostages were then screened for religious affiliation – again, seeking Jews. It’s a safe bet that none of the Mumbai killers were ever stopped at an Israeli checkpoint or lost a building lot in east Jerusalem. This attack was planned and executed with motives removed from the usual; the India/Pakistan rift or the Israel/Fattah impasse. Mumbai was clearly motivated, in part, by a strain of virulent, contagious, and global anti-Semitism. No mention of this appears in Lessons of Mumbai’s “key judgments.”

The recent terror attack, against a religious school in Toulouse, France, is a macabre echo of Mumbai. A rabbi and four young Jewish children were shot at point blank range by Mohamed Merah, a home grown Arab terrorist of Moroccan origin. Let’s assume for sake of argument that Israeli intransigence is the source of Muslim anger. How does blowing a little girl’s brains out advance the “two state solution?”

The global bloom of anti-Semitism since the turn of the 21st Century is no accident. Those who ignore it, especially scientists at places like RAND, make it possible. Ironically, many of RAND’s most eminent researchers are or have been Jewish.

(This Mumbai report also reinforces suspicions about non-profit excess. Lessons of Mumbai  is a mere 25 pages long, yet lists ten (sic) authors; an average of two and a half pages per analyst. Makes you wonder how many scientists are required to screw in light bulbs in Santa Monica. Clearly, featherbedding is not just restricted to government operations.)

Some recent RAND national security analysis may actually qualify as apologetics. The 2010 paper entitled Would-be Warriors  analyzes the incidence of terrorism in the US since 9/11. The paper actually ends with the assumptions, concluding:

“There is no evidence (sic) that America’s Muslim community is becoming more radical. America’s psychological vulnerability is on display…panic is the wrong message to send.”

“No evidence” - or none that RAND can detect from the sands of Santa Monica? If sixteen US intelligence agencies didn’t connect the dots before 9/11, while suicide bombers were training in America; RAND’s statistical assurances ring more than a little hollow. Islamic terror didn’t begin with the barbarisms in lower Manhattan in any case. And assertions about psychological vulnerability or “panic” are straw men or worse. Who panicked in the wake of the Twin Towers atrocity? Indifference or political apathy maybe; but surely not panic.

And on US Muslim radicalization, clearly RAND statisticians rarely audit student sentiment at any urban “occupy” rallies or any California campus when an Israeli speaker appears. Nor does the RAND analysis account for the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) or the fact that this home grown political movement was recently hijacked by radical Muslim American bigots. Anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the geo-strategic coal mine. The NBPP’s most recent outrage was to threaten to burn the city of Detroit at a city council meeting.

In the interests of fairness, we should point out that other non-profits, PEW Research Center for example, also fail to account for the sea change in the very visible American Black Panthers. PEW claims to be non-partisan, but apparently that doesn’t rule out political correctness. Indeed, with modern pollsters and sociologists, American Muslim groups like the Panthers and the Nation of Islam seem to enjoy a double immunity; race and religion. Somehow such groups are, at the same time, Islamic; but not Muslim.

The growth of radical Islam in African American communities is complimented by a surge in prisons nationwide. Congress and Public Television seem to have access to prison data, but non-profits like RAND and PEW apparently do not work in those neighborhoods.

The creation of veiled apologetics is not as worrisome as the pervasive misuse of such “scientific” analysis. Part of the problem may lay with endowments. Like more than a few major universities, RAND courts Arab or Muslim good will for the same reason that Willie Sutton frequented banks. That’s where the money is.

Attempts to curry Arab favor are underwritten by a priori beliefs about Muslim “moderation.” Assumptions about what Muslims believe may make terror possible, providing a permanent rationalization, a kind of laissez passer for militants.

Today, RAND has one of the richest nest eggs outside of Harvard yard. And clearly, the designation “non-profit” is an oxymoron. The more appropriate designation would be “untaxable” – for reasons yet to be justified. Successful think tanks may be a lot of things, but like wealthy universities, they are not “charities” by any stretch of logic.

Recent government sponsored national security research has reversed the poles in the “non-profit” equation. Think tanks are richer and government sponsors are going broke. If quality of analysis is the return on government sponsored research, national security research is nearing some kind of strategic default.

Financial success has allowed think tanks like RAND to diversify the study agenda and expand their physical plants. Yet, the ideas of geographic isolation, and keeping politics at a distance, have been jettisoned with a vengeance. Beyond the original site at Santa Monica; RAND now has offices in Virginia (near the Pentagon), Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Mexico, England, Belgium, Qatar, UAE, and Abu Dhabi.

For objective national security analysis, the last three locales are the most worrisome. Hard to believe that systems analysis or scientific candor will put petro-dollars or Islamic theocrats at risk. Politically correct “science” allows universities and think tanks to work both sides of the threat equation. Call it the Ellsberg legacy. 

While the overall cast of RAND Corporation national security research is cautious and in many cases politically deferential; the occasional old hand still puts mustard on his fastball. Jim Quinlivan wrote an essay in the RAND Review (summer, 2003), based on statistical analysis, that suggested under-manned American excursions against insurgents or terrorists in dar al Islam, were bound to end badly – using strict military measures of effectiveness. Today, that report might be considered prophetic. Unfortunately, such voices are seldom endorsed or underlined with corporate authority.

The Quinlivan essay was written shortly after 9/11 when “kinetic” solutions were all the rage; his paper flew in the face of the prevailing political winds. More recent RAND reports, as discussed above, tack with the prevailing political winds. The difference is integrity.

The early rhetoric from President Bush categorized the Manhattan attacks as “acts of war.” But since then, the Bush and Obama administrations, and government sponsored research, take great pains to confuse the issue with criminality – and policies where victory over Islamism is never a goal or an option.

First, there was the Iraq distraction, a theater that had little to do with world-wide terror or Islamism; and then came a period of dithering over Afghanistan, the so-called “war of necessity.” Throughout, neither political party could decide whether to treat the soldiers of Islam as prisoners of war or criminals. While Americans remained confused; Islamists made steady gains. For the West, the drift into the muck of appeasement and the humiliation of a Soviet-like retreat now seems inevitable.

America and NATO are headed for the exits in the Levant and South Asia. Yet, the greater problems of a nuclear Iran and the growing Arab irredentism are still metastasizing. And all the early political Pollyanna about democracy and freedom in Arabia hasn’t altered the vector of religious politics. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and now Syria, are on the cusp of clerical control. Like Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan; the political prospects for Muslims today are largely theocratic.

All of this seems to be a kind of pandering with junk science. Indeed, the decline of a Euro-American vision that made creativity, art, science, and democracy possible has been underwritten by the worst possible political “science” that borrowed money can buy. Insh’allah!

The author is a former Senior USAF Intelligence Research Fellow at RAND Corporation, Santa Monica. This essay is an excerpt from a longer treatment of the think tank phenomenon, and political pandering, to appear In the New English Review later this year.

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Posted on 05/30/2012 9:00 AM by G. Murphy Donovan
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
'Allah's enemy!' Radio host slash-attacked for anti-Islam rant on air
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From Russia Today

A radio host has been hospitalized after being cut 15 times by an unidentified criminal. Two weeks ago the journalist ventured to criticize the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed, on air. ­Sergey Aslanyan, 46, was brought to Moscow’s hospital with numerous non-penetrating knife wounds to the chest, neck and arm.

According to the police report, on late Monday evening an unknown man called to Aslanyan’s flat over the building intercom and called him outside for a talk. When the journalist stepped out of the entranceway he was knocked over the head with a heavy object, after which the assailant brought the knife into play.

Aslanyan claimed that the attacker was shouting “you are Allah's enemy!” while slashing at the victim.

Izvestia newspaper made a guess that the attack could be linked to recent statements made by the journalist in a radio show. While discussing religion in general he made some “from zero to hero” remarks towards the Prophet Mohammed.

The Prophet Mohammed, as we know, was not a religious figure. He was a businessman, but after getting considerable financial support built plans as to how to get to the top,” Aslanyan disclosed. He also said that the Prophet “rewrote the Bible” so that “now everyone would know the Prophet Mohammed was not a market shopkeeper, but an outstanding political figure.”

According to Aslanyan, the idea of Islam was a “business project from the very beginning,” and turned out to be successful due to handsome financing.” Besides that, the journalist, who was an external expert at this radio show, speculated that the Prophet had some sort of sexual disorder.

Reportedly, the journalist later apologized on air for the harsh statements he had made, but that did not change public opinion much. . . There was a widespread angry reaction on the Islamic internet forums.

Muslims from the Republic of Tatarstan, where Islam is the dominant religion, wrote a letter to the Prosecutor General’s office saying Aslanyan’s statements had insulted them.

The radio host’s colleagues say Sergey Aslanyan was always extremely cautious about what he was saying and, despite being a well-known agitator, had never got into trouble and had even won several cases against him in court – only because of his close attention to the facts he was voicing.

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Posted on 05/30/2012 5:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Prisoners under pressure to convert to Muslim 'gang'
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Prisoners are under pressure to convert to an Islamic “gang” at a high-security jail, with non-Muslims in fear of violence just for cooking bacon, according to an official report. Inmates at HMP Whitemoor told researchers commissioned by the Ministry of Justice that they changed their faith for protection or because they were bullied into it.

Prison guards said they had a policy of “appeasement” towards the powerful and growing Islamic population, particularly convicted terrorists who were feared to be recruiting future extremists.

Non-believers avoided confrontation with any Muslim in case it led to retribution from the wider group, and said they even avoided cooking pork or bacon in communal kitchens or undressing in the showers in case it caused offence.

The report, written by researchers at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology, said: “Conflict and tension existed between and within faith groups. There were some intimidating ‘heavy players’ among the Muslim population, who appeared to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith. Many physically powerful prisoners ‘re-established their outside identities’ as leaders in the prison and used their (newly acquired) faith status as a tool for establishing influence. . . "

HMP Whitemoor is situated in a “remote Fenland town” far from most inmates’ families, and is home to 440 Category A and B prisoners, almost all of whom are serving more than 10 years behind bars and seven of whom are convicted terrorists.

Following concerns over Islamic radicalisation in a 2008 report by inspectors, researchers visited Whitemoor between 2009 and 2010 to interview staff and inmates. They found that more than a third (35 to 39 per cent) of prisoners are now Muslims, compared with 11 per cent across all jails.

Many of those they spoke to had converted while inside but they had mixed motivations for doing so, and not all had done so voluntarily. . . Loners including sex offenders gained safety from joining a large and dominant group, as fellow members would defend them.

Non-Muslims and prison officers claimed that it was an “organised gang” and a “protection racket” rather than a religion, which “glorified terrorist behaviour and exploited the fear related to it”. Others said they had felt under pressure to convert, with people leaving Islamic literature in their cells and telling them to “read this”, or promising they would be safe from physical assault if they changed faith. “The threat of assaults motivated by religious fanaticism or extremist ideology added weight to the atmosphere at Whitemoor.”

Guards said there were “proper Al-Qaeda” members in the jail, who were regarded with “awe” by younger inmates, but they avoided confrontation and had “runners” to do their bidding. Some prisoners described the place as a “recruiting drive for the Taliban” and fertile ground for hatred and a new generation of extremists.

One inmate said he was targeted because he wore a Remembrance Day poppy and his brother served in the Army, with people shouting “your wife’s burning in hell because she’s not a Muslim” at him.

The report concluded: “The new population mix, including younger, more black and minority ethnic and mixed race, and high numbers of Muslim prisoners, was disrupting established hierarchies in the prison. Social relations among prisoners had become complex and less visible. Too much power flowed among some groups of prisoners, with some real risks of serious violence. There were high levels of fear in the prison. In particular, there were tensions and fears relating to ‘extremism’ and ‘radicalisation’. More prominent, in practice, were pressures (and temptations) felt by some prisoners to convert to Islam. Conditions in the prison made participation in Islamic practices the most ‘available’ option for those looking for belonging, meaning, ‘brotherhood’, trust and friendship." 

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Posted on 05/30/2012 4:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Luton: local Sikh community protesting over 'sex attack police failures'
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This was on going last night when I went to bed but I didn't have enough links to make a proper post. This is the Telegraph, after midnight

Hundreds of members of the Luton Sikh community are protesting outside local police station amid claims police were failing to properly investigate a sex attack on a young woman. Police said they were negotiating with the protesters staging the “sit down” protest outside the Buxton Road police station.

It comes after a young Sikh woman, who has not been identified, was reportedly beaten and sexually assaulted in the Bedfordshire town by a "Muslim man". On Wednesday night, Bedfordshire Police confirmed they were “in talks” with the protesters to try and “resolve the situation” amid fears of rising tensions.

Reports suggested that more than 300 locals were involved in the protest because of “lack of action” from police over Monday’s attack.

There were reports that members of the English Defence League were also among the crowd.

Locals reported that the “community … feels the police could do more with regards to the investigation and current situation”.

Concerns were also raised that police were set to release the accused sex attacker amid fears it fuel rising tensions. Detectives have arrested a man, who has not been identified, in connection with the attack.

The local paper sent a reporter and his report was promised 'shortly' about an hour ago. The paper was criticised on twitter for responding to a news tip-off from the EDL - the news editor said she has a duty to talk to everybody.

The protest followed a meeting in the Luton Gurdawa - note the hooligan little old Sikh ladies in tunics and cardigans in the photograph left which I was shown last night. Actually I seriously wouldn't want to mess with a lady whose granddaughter has been raped - you wouldn't want to mess with me either in those circumstances.

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Posted on 05/30/2012 2:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Is Israel Behind the Latest Espionage Malware-Flame?
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Flame Malware Infection Map

Source: Kaspersky Labs

Another malware surfaced in a flurry of technical reports from Russia to Silicon Valley called Flame.  It is revolutionary as it engages in espionage on a vast scale. The focus of Flame espionage appears to be on Iran, but it has hit a wide range in other targets of interest in the Middle East such as Palestine, Sudan and Syria.  Take a look at the Map of Flame Infections in the region.

The suspicion is that Israel’s crack cyber warfare Unit 8200 is the possible state supported developer of Flame. 

The Washington Post reported Iran acknowledges that Flame virus has infected computers nationwide:

In a statement, Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team said that “investigations during the last few months” had resulted in the detection of the virus, which has been dubbed Flame and is capable of stealing data from infected computers.

“It seems there is a close relation to the Stuxnet and Duqu targeted attacks,” the statement said, referring to two other viruses. Stuxnet damaged hundreds of centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear plant. Duqu, like Flame, was apparently built for espionage but shared characteristics with Stuxnet.

The Iranians also said they had developed tools to detect and remove Flame from infected computers.

Iran has in the past blamed Israel and the United States for creating Stuxnet, but there has been no proof of authorship.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Affairs  Moshe Ya’alon  spilled the beans  about the possible authorship  of Flame in comments to the Jerusalem Post today, captured in an article, Officials: Military networks protected from cyber attacks” by military analyst Yaakov Katz.  Note what Katz wrote:

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted on Tuesday that Israel might have been behind the latest computer virus to attack Iran.

Ya’alon fueled speculation of Israeli involvement in the cyber attack when he told Army Radio on Tuesday that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”

Ya’alon went a step further and discussed Israel’s technological capabilities.

“Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities for us,” he said.

Evidence suggests that the virus, dubbed “Flame,” may have been developed on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software group that took credit for discovering the viruses.

Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200 is responsible within Israel for offensive cyber attacks and the Mossad is also presumed to have some independent capabilities of its own.

Flame effectively turns every computer it infects into the ultimate spy. It can turn on microphones to record conversations taking place near computers, take screenshots, and log instant messaging chats, gather data files and remotely change settings on computers.

Israel is the master of cyber warfare. Having launched Flame using gaming code back in 2010, Israel has revolutionized espionage by going high tech, alleviating the necessity of sending in agent handlers. Given how Iran and other countries in the Middle East have been penetrated by Flame, Israel may have information that enabled them to target first Stuxnet, then Duqu and the oil sector demonstrating how crippling that can be to both nuclear enrichment and oil production. Therefore, you can speculate about how Israel might 'successfully' disable the nuclear enrichment program and Iran's economy with greater deftness than the bludgeon of more legislated 'tougher sanctions'. Next, we'll probably read of how Flame has acquired information on Iran's hard currency reserves. Think about the implications of that future caper.

Connecticut Jewish Ledger publisher Rick Greenfield has similar comments in an op-ed to be published later this week.  He wrote:

Short of a physical attack on Iran’s burgeoning nuclear production facilities, writing innovative and aggressive software programs looks to be the only other way to safeguard the world from a nuclear eruption. The UN continues to show its unwillingness to contain a belligerent Iran and the current US Administration seems equally disposed to avoid direct action vis a vis Iran. The sanctions legislated by the Senate are continually watered down or deferred by a State Department intent on mollifying Iran instead of deterring her. It seems like absent an aggressive software infection of this sort, Iran's weapons of mass extermination will be allowed to become a reality soon.

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Posted on 05/29/2012 10:07 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Lou Ann Zelenik Praises Victory in Stopping Islamic Training Center
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Lou Ann Zelenik

Editor's note:  The following is a news release from the campaign of  Lou Ann Zelenik  who is currently  running in the GOP primary for Congress in the Tennesse Sixth CD that includes Rutherford County. The release  expresses her views on today's ruling by Judge Robert Corlew,III  Chancellor of the  Chancery Court, regarding the failure of the Rutherford Planning Commission to provide adequate notice to citizens of hearings approving the expansion of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on May 24, 2010.  You may check Ms. Zelenik's campign website, here, for more information.

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Mt. Juliet, TN----Sixth District Congressional Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik praised the court ruling today that denied the approval of “Islamic Center of Murfreesboro”, stating that adequate notice was not given to the public by the Planning Commission of the intentions of the Islamic group.

“This is a victory for the citizens of all Middle Tennessee who have been the victims of ‘taqqiya’ (Islamic lying for the sake of advancing Islam) during this entire process,” said Zelenik, a leading critic of the construction of the Islamic Center. Zelenik, as a 6th district congressional candidate in 2010, openly challenged the project resulting in numerous death threats. Since then, she has devoted countless hours as Executive Director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition speaking out against radical Islam and its encroachment into American culture.

She is once again in the race for the Republican nomination for District 6. “For over 2 years my opponent has been and still is on the sidelines of this issue. This is not a partisan issue, but an American issue and her silence is deafening”, said Zelenik.

“This was not an issue of freedom of religion. Islam does not claim to be a religion, but a social and political system that intends to dominate every facet of our lives and seeks to dominate it’s host culture by any means including force and violence. This case was for equal treatment under the law. No Christian church or Jewish synagogue would have received this type of treatment from the Planning Commission.”

“I was criticized for being opposed to freedom of religion,” Zelenik stated, “but the reality is that I was speaking for the citizens of Tennessee who felt they had no voice. As a political figure, I was proud to stand with other brave citizens who were outraged by the denial of their due process rights. Those citizens and the attorneys deserve all the credit in the world.”

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Posted on 05/29/2012 7:53 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Mufreesboro Mosque Stopped for Lack of Adequate Public Notice of Hearings
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Islamic Center of Murfreesboro Mosque

Source:  Channel 4 WSMV-TV Nashville

Just after 1:00PM CDT, today, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Chancery Court Judge Robert Corlew issued his ruling in a case with potential national implications stopping the construction of the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM).  Judge Corlew ruled narrowly in a second trial held in April 2012 on a complaint brought by local mosque opponent, Kevin Fisher, and local residents near the mosque site. The complaint filed was about whether adequate notice was provided to the citizens of Rutherford County. The WSMV-TV report noted Judge Corlew’s ruling and the controversial background of previous hearings held since May 2010;

Judge Robert Corlew III ruled that construction must cease because not enough notice was given about the May 2010 public meeting.

Corlew ruled in favor of Kevin Fisher and other Rutherford County residents who sued claiming adequate notice wasn't given when the site plan was approved for the new Islamic center.

"Action of the Rutherford Regional Planning Commission is declared to be void," Corlew concluded. "There was insufficient notice for the public meeting held on May 24, 2010. Under the terms of the law, then, the decisions reached at that meeting are void ab initio."

Corlew notes that his opinion does not prevent the Rutherford County Planning Commission from reconsidering the issue and approving the mosque site plan again. Construction of the mosque is well under way.

Mosque opponents have fought construction for two years, arguing that Islam is not a real religion deserving of First Amendment protections and that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has terrorist ties.

The judge dismissed those allegations but held a trial on the narrower claim that the public meeting law was violated.

That was an overdue victory to many local and national opponents of mega-mosque construction in the heartland of America. The plaintiffs and Tennessee local counsel and their backers are to be commended for bringing the matter that resulted in this ruling from Judge Corlew.

The NER and its blog the Iconoclast has covered the Murfreesboro case that caught the attention of national news programs endeavoring to make this into a religious discrimination and freedom of worship issue with the backing of the US Department of Justice and the Anti-Defamation League. Both groups filed amicus briefs during the September 2010 hearing supporting the Rutherford County decision to approve the ICM expansion based in part on an arcane federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 that exempted religious organizations from local zoning laws and approvals. 

The irony is that if the four day April 2010 Rutherford County Chancery Court hearing on the plaintiffs' compliant about the lack of adequate notification and related issues had been held in place of the long and arduous hearing on the Islam as a religion matter filed  in the September 2010 hearing, this result might have been achieved much earlier. That was the prudent advice provided local counsel from both nationally recognized and local legal experts and activists. If that advice had been the legal strategy adopted in the original hearing it might have possibly stopped the mosque project from being built. However, the local Muslim community and federal USDOJ, FBI and ATF authorities had been aroused by an alleged arson event at the ICM job site in late August 2010. That arson event, which has yet to be solved, occurred prior to the September 2010 hearing. Activists documented evidence of extremist Islamic texts at the ICM and support for terrorist group Hamas found on a board member’s website. That was preceded by packed Planning Commission and County hearings in June 2010 with aggrieved citizens complaining about the lack of adequate notice and a protest march in mid-July 2010 at the County Court House. As it now stands, the ICM project is nearing completion of its first phase in July 2012. Moreover, Judge Corlew’s ruling still would allow Rutherford County to review and approve the ICM project and let it proceed. 

In an October 2010 NER review of the legal battle surrounding the ICM project, "Mega Mosque Conflicts across America," we noted:

A background legal memorandum prepared for a Brentwood, Tennessee mosque zoning application that was withdrawn cited RLUIPA case law that affirmed the right of localities like Rutherford County to exercise appropriate local police powers to conduct due diligence on such applications.

In an Iconoclast article in October 2010, “The Murfreesboro Muddle: Lessons Learned” we commented:

As we have previously argued this matter was injudiciously brought before adequate underlying research and trial preparation was conducted by Plaintiffs attorneys. Further, many of the Tennessee Sunshine Law violations connected with public notification by the Rutherford Planning Commission and County approvals. . .  should have been the subject of administrative hearings. However, the promoters of the legal action were in a rush to judgment about Islam.

On the evening of September 15, 2010, a conference meeting was held in a at a local hotel to discuss strategies. Among those who attended were Pete Doughtie, publisher of The Rutherford Reader and Lou Ann Zelenik,  a past  Rutherford  County Planning Commission member and local business owner. She is a currently a Congressional candidate in the Tennessee 6th CD GOP primary.  Those backing the litigation were advised to concentrate on the planning notification and due diligence issues and not become embroiled in the religious freedom of worship issues. 

Zelenik commented on today’s ruling by Judge Corlew:

Local Planning Commissions should treat all applicants fairly and not be intimidated to rush a decision.

While the first trial in Rutherford County Chancery Court ended in favor of proceeding with the ICM construction, the second trial brought on grounds originally suggested in the mid-September 2010 Murfreesboro private meeting succeeded.  One of the national legal experts who suggested that course of action was David Yerushalmi, Esq., the architect of the American Law for American Courts model laws that in various versions has been enacted into law in four states: Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas and Tennessee.

 

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Posted on 05/29/2012 6:26 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Dozy bint of the week meets cliché corner
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The Guardian's Nadiya Takolia, who should thank any God but Allah that she lives in the West rather than some ghastly Muslim hellhole, has the temerity and the depthless stupidity to drone on about the virtues of the hijab. It provides a refuge, you see, from the "slut walks" and the X-factor and the Max-Factor that is the sum total of Western culture for this self-styled erstwhile "pawn in society's beauty game". Our dead suffragettes should not not bother to turn in their graves, so puny is the mind-ette of this hijabette. It's clitch after clitch after clitch:

Empowerment: check
Liberated: check
Women in the west as sex object: check
"My femininity is not available for public consumption": check

Check? Cheek. Brass neck. If hers is not, then by implication that of normal British women is. "Rape someone else," is her thinly veiled message, and, since Muslim men rape in such disproportionate numbers, this signal, like the Koran that spawned it, "empowers" them to do so with impunity.

Islam is infuriating and enervating in equal measure. Read it and fume. Read it and yawn:

When you think of the hijab, you probably don't think "political". Or "independent". Or "empowered". Feminist? Certainly not – feminism is far better known for burnt bras and slut-walks than headscarves.

There is much misunderstanding about how women relate to their hijab. Some, of course, choose the headcover for religious reasons, others for culture or even fashion.

But in a society where a woman's value seems focused on her sexual charms, some wear it explicitly as a feminist statement asserting an alternative mode of female empowerment. Politics, not religion, is the motivator here. I am one of these women.

Wearing the hijab was not something I deliberately set out to do. It was something I unexpectedly stumbled upon as a twentysomething undergraduate, reading feminist literature and researching stories of women's lives in the sex industry. From perfume and clothes ads to children's dolls and X Factor finals, you don't need to go far to see that the woman/sex combination is everywhere.

It makes many of us feel like a pawn in society's beauty game – ensuring that gloss in my hair, the glow in my face and trying to attain that (non-existent) perfect figure.

Subconsciously, I tried to avoid these demands – wearing a hat to fix a bad-hair day, sunglasses and specs to disguise a lack of makeup, baggy clothes to disguise my figure. It was an endless and tiresome effort to please everyone else.

Sure the hijab was not the only way to express my feelings and frustrations; but knowing that our interpretation of liberal culture embraces, if not encourages, uncovering, I decided to reject what society expected me to do, and cover up.

It was not a decision I made overnight. It took several months of agonising over the pros and cons – will it change the way others treat me? Will I get hot in a headscarf? Is it possible, at all costs to avoid the all-black look?

I rarely discussed the decision with others – I wanted it to be mine and mine alone. Like so many women, my main reservation was the discrimination I might face. Things like looking for a job, or socialising and being judged by others based on prejudices about Muslim women (because now I would look like one) before they even got a chance to know me. And not just the prejudices of non-Muslims, but also the simplistic assumptions of Muslims who think that a veiled woman is a holier woman.

The first day I stepped out in a hijab, I took a deep breath and decided my attitude would be "I don't give a damn about what you think". The reaction was mixed. One friend joked that I was officially a "fundamentalist". Extended family showered me with graces of "mashallah", perhaps under the impression that I was now more devout. Some, to my surprise (and joy), didn't bat an eyelid. I was grateful because, ultimately, I firmly believe that a woman's dress should not determine how others treat, judge or respect her.

I do not believe that the hair in itself is that important; this is not about protection from men's lusts. It is me telling the world that my femininity is not available for public consumption. I am taking control of it, and I don't want to be part of a system that reduces and demeans women. Behind this exterior I am a person – and it is this person for which I want to be known.

Wearing the hijab has given me a new consciousness of this. Though my mode of expression may appear Islamic, and my experiences carry a spiritual dimension, there is no theological monopoly on women's empowerment; I really believe that a non-Muslim woman could do this if she chose to. My motivations have been explicitly political, and my experiences human.

The result has been refreshing. In a world as diverse and changing as our own, the hijab means a multitude of things to the many women who choose to wear it. I speak as a woman who just happens to come from the Islamic faith, and for me the hijab is political, feminist and empowering. This dimension is increasingly important for many women who choose to wear it; it's a shame it is understood by so few.

Dozy bint: check
Ugrateful bint: check
Spoilt bint: check
Check out of this country: check, mate

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Posted on 05/29/2012 4:17 PM by Mary Jackson
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