Friday, March 11, 2011

Compelling Testimony, Political Theater at Radicalization Hearing


by The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)

When members of Minneapolis' Somali community realized their sons had disappeared and likely gone back to Africa to join a jihadist group, mosque leaders told them to keep quiet.

If you go to the FBI, you could end up in Guantanamo Bay with alleged terrorists, some were told. If authorities learn about it, mosques in America might be shut down in response. You, the worried relatives were told, will pay for that in the afterlife by being damned with "eternal fire and hell."

Abdirizak Bihi's nephew was among those missing. Burhan Hassan later would be killed in Somalia after joining the al-Shabaab terrorist group.

How this promising A-student grew so radical that he gave up the American dream was supposed to be the focus of a hearing Thursday before the House Homeland Security Committee. The spike in homegrown Islamist terrorism cases in recent years – driven by a targeted recruitment effort of young Muslim Americans by al-Qaida, is a concern for American law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The hearing's focus solely on Islamic radicalization generated criticism in the weeks leading up to it and throughout the more-than-four-hour proceeding.

Committee Democrats repeatedly devoted significant portions of their time to attacking the hearing's focus on Islamic radicalization. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas wondered whether the hearing violated the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom. California Rep. Jackie Speier denigrated the panelists' experiences, calling them anecdotes that offered little from which to learn.

For all the vitriol, none of the witnesses made any sweeping generalizations about the faith of Islam or about Muslim people. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who again defended the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) despite documented ties to a Hamas-support network, still commended the hearing's topic and praised fellow panelists as "incredibly important" witnesses.

Joining Bihi and Baca were Melvin Bledsoe, father of a man who claims to be an al-Qaida jihadist, and Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

Bledsoe, like Bihi, described his own family tragedy. His son Carlos grew up happy and well-adjusted, until he was "manipulated and lied to" after converting to Islam by local Muslim leaders who helped him go to Yemen and study with radicals. In June 2009, Carlos Bledsoe, now called Abdulhakeem Mujahid Muhammad, opened fire at a Little Rock, Ark., Army recruiting office, killing one soldier and injuring a second.

His father testified that other "hunters" for al-Qaida and other terrorist groups are trying to recruit more Muslims to join their jihad. He repeatedly stressed that he has other Muslim relatives, whom he described as "modern, peaceful, law abiding people."

He wondered why a conversation about radicalization among Muslims like his own son generated so much angst. "It seems to me that the American people are sitting around and doing nothing about Islamic extremism, as if Carlos's story and the other stories told at these hearings aren't true. There is a big elephant in the room, but our society continues not to see it."

The nation's first Muslim-American congressman, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., was the most emotional, appearing to fight back tears as he described false rumors about Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Muslim paramedic who died on 9/11.

A hearing on radicalism in general would have been acceptable, Ellison said. "When you assign their violent actions to the entire community," he said, "you assign collective blame to the entire group."

Other committee members were outwardly hostile to Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., and to some of the witnesses. Lee of Texas said the hearing placed the Constitution "in pain" by demonizing an entire community. Oddly, she found the presence of two Muslim witnesses testifying about obstruction from organized Islamic groups – Jasser and Bihi – to be proof that Muslims indeed were cooperating with authorities.

"They are here doing what this hearing suggests they do not do," she said. "I question where are the uncooperative Muslims?"

Speier said she saw little value in the testimony because she did not consider witnesses like Jasser, Bihi and Bledsoe to be experts. "Do you have the expertise" to testify, she asked Jasser.

"That's interesting," he replied. "The theocrats ask me that all the time."

In his testimony, Jasser called for a "counter-jihad" on the Internet and in the community to stress principles of liberty against what he sees as the collectivization and victimization emphasized by Islamists.

"I appreciate the anecdotes," Speier said, "but I don't think they are very enlightening."

As the hearing was broadcast, Dawud Walid, head of the CAIR Michigan office, was posting comments on his Twitter feed equally dismissive of the witnesses:

  • "Bihi has basically a one person organization and is not seen as a leader by Somali-Americans."
  • "Somehow, I don't think Mr. Bledsoe wrote this and was approached."
  • "No such thing as "counter-jihad" Jasser. Jihad means Struggle. Uneducated about Islam."

CAIR attracted its own attention during the testimony. King displayed a poster published on the group's San Francisco chapter website, first reported by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, which urged Muslims to "Build a Wall of Resistance. Don't Talk to the FBI."

While CAIR officials later removed the poster and claimed it did not reflect the organization's policies, Bihi singled out CAIR for siding with local religious leaders in discrediting the relatives of the missing Somali men, calling them liars and tools out to destroy the mosque. CAIR discouraged people from talking with the FBI, he said, calling it "a slap in the face for the Somali American Muslim mothers who were knocking on doors day and night with pictures of their missing children and asking for the community to talk to law enforcement about what they know of the missing kids."

CAIR did nothing to help the families, he said. "We are isolated by Islamic organizations."

In his opening statement, King called CAIR "a discredited organization that should be rejected." U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., testified about the FBI's decision to cut off access to CAIR because of its documented ties to a Hamas-support network. Despite that, the group is "routinely and mistakenly elevated in the press as voice of mainstream Muslims" enjoying access to high level government officials.

Baca, who gave CAIR a full-throated and defiant endorsement during a hearing last year, seemed more subdued Thursday. He has "never had briefing from FBI what their position is," he said. His own experiences in California have been positive, but he acknowledged he could not attest to what might happen elsewhere.

At times, members were able to discuss the growing volume of homegrown Islamists terrorists. U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, mentioned the repeated promotions for Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan despite displaying an obvious pattern of radicalization. It reached a crescendo in November 2009, when Hasan opened fire at a processing center at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and wounding 32 others. Hasan had been in contact with American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, considered the most influential voice in radicalizing suspects in a string of terrorist plots.

"To ignore this in name of political correctness is a serious threat," McCaul said. "I am concerned there are organizations telling the community not to cooperate with the FBI."

As previous hearings have shown, the sophistication of al-Qaida's appeal to American Muslims is increasing. Whether the issue is a comfortable one or not, susceptible young Muslims will continue to be targeted with messages urging them to strike out against their homeland.

Bledsoe warned the committee that his son's experience should be a cautionary tale for policymakers. "One thing is for sure," he said, "it will happen again."

Original URL: http://www.investigativeproject.org/2675/compelling-testimony-political-theater

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The World Council of Churches: What Does It Really Care about Palestinian Christians?


by Malcolm F. Lowe

Ostensibly, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is very much concerned for the well-being of Palestinian Christians. In practice, however, as an ardent promoter of the Palestinian aspirations, the WCC is most evidently interested in the mobilization of Palestinian Christians for that cause -- cost what it may for Palestinian Christians themselves.

The WCC's Jerusalem offshoot, the :Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre," [JIC] with a local Christian, Yusuf Daher, as its executive secretary was instrumental in the creation of the so-called Kairos Palestine Document in December 2009. Although it claims to be "the Christian Palestinians' word to the world about what is happening in Palestine," according to its dedicated website, it is, in fact, a pseudo-theological justification for worldwide campaigns of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel in the name of "Christian love," its authors were a number of low-level clerics and laity, including Daher himself, together with a familiar has-been (former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah) and an archbishop who was recently (2007) disciplined by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The only genuine church leader listed among the authors was Arab Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan, but he hastily called for his signature to be removed.

A few days later in December 2009, the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem published a brief reaction to the document in which they avoided its inflammatory language. They appealed, on the one hand, for political leaders to redouble peace efforts and, on the other, for the local Christians to concentrate on building up their communities. This was obviously a delicate attempt to steer the faithful away from dragging the churches into political confrontations. But the WCC rushed to claim that the Heads of Churches had endorsed this call for BDS. The dedicated website thereupon combined the two documents into one, such that the unwary reader gets the impression that the campaign for BDS was an initiative from the highest levels of the local churches. In this form, the WCC promoted the document all over the world.

With all this promotion of Palestinian interests, for which unlimited funds seem to be available, the WCC seems never to have asked itself a simple question. Could it have a negative impact on the local churches themselves in their dealings with Israel?

Consider a few basic facts. First, there are three or four times as many Arab Christians living in the State of Israel as under the Palestinian Authority (PA). Second, a large number of other Christians immigrated to Israel in recent years as family members of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Third, the jurisdictions of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem include Israel as well as the PA territories. Fourth, there are all kinds of ways in which a good relationship with the Israeli authorities.is important for the churches: tax exemptions, help for their schools and other charitable activities, the procurement of visas for expatriate clergy to come and work in the local churches, etc.

None of this matters for the WCC in its relentless systematic creation of instruments of pro-Palestinian agitation. Moreover, it claims to do this in the name of all the world's Christians, excepting only the Catholics. With the Kairos Palestine Document, it has succeeded in branding even the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem as proponents of BDS.

So is it just a coincidence that during the last ten years, in which the WCC started all the above-mentioned initiatives, the local churches are encountering increasing problems in their dealings with Israeli institutions? Take the issue of residence permits. Obtaining visas for expatriates has definitely got more difficult. In the year since the WCC began promoting the Kairos Palestine Document, however, a new phenomenon has appeared: Palestinian Christians whose origins are in the West Bank have been losing residence permits to be in Jerusalem.

This is the context in which Ecumenical News International recently disseminated a report about the most prominent such case, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani. The report appears, e.g., here.

The bishop's residence permit in Jerusalem was revoked in connection with a land deal in which he was alleged to have sold Jewish-owned land to a Palestinian. The bishop denies involvement in any such deal, irrespective of whether his name was invoked. For its part, the Israeli Interior Ministry has denied that it is seeking to expel the bishop, but insists that the matter must be clarified in court.

It does seem, however, that the ministry is taking a harder line than was customary in the past in dealing with a Head of Church in Jerusalem. All the more so, as there are elements in the Palestinian Anglican Church that have an interest in giving Bishop Suheil a bad name, by whatever means. Since he entered office in 2007, he himself has been pursuing a case in the Israeli courts against his predecessor, who is alleged to have misappropriated church property and income.

The WCC is the main sponsor also of the Geneva-based ENI and this ENI report consists mainly of an interview with none other than Yusuf Daher, the WCC's man in Jerusalem. Not that any of them would ask themselves whether chickens sometimes come home to roost.

The WCC therefore sponsors the "Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum" (PIEF), which it describes as "a platform that rallies churches together enabling them to coordinate their efforts and initiatives for a just peace in Palestine-Israel." Its "aim is to bring an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate commitment for inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region."

As an instrument for this purpose, the WCC set up the JIC; its most important function is defined as "the centre's contribution to the implementation of the international community's long-standing plans for a peaceful and equitable resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, as expressed through the United Nations." To this end, the JIC "hosts the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) as a much-needed local-global accompaniment program."

As for the EAPPI, it "brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. When they return home, EAs campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions." Existing since October 2001, this WCC scheme has already trained hundreds of agitators for the Palestinian cause in churches all round the world.

Original URL: http://www.hudson-ny.org/1951/world-council-of-churches-palestinian-christians

Malcolm F. Lowe

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Libya: What to Do?


by Raymond Ibrahim

As with Egypt, American sympathies instinctively side with Libya's oppositional forces as they seek to overthrow the tyrant Qaddafi—and rightfully so. But where U.S. foreign policy is concerned, prudence is in order. This is especially the case considering that the Obama administration has evinced inconsistency, if not incoherence, regarding the Middle East: vowing not to "meddle" on behalf of Iranian dissidents, while eagerly disavowing onetime U.S. ally Mubarak; confidently stating that Mubarak's authority was secure at the start of the revolution, even as he was toppled weeks later; and misguidedly being open to talking with existentialist enemies such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The issue of oil looms large and is for some the primary impetus for U.S. intervention in Libya. Yet as others have long insisted, it may well be time to look to other options (drilling in Alaska, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, etc.).

Because of Qaddafi's "eccentric" nature—the man has as many bizarre traits as he does last-name spellings—few people take anything he says seriously. Yet, as top Islamist cleric Qaradawi issues a fatwa to kill Qaddafi, and Obama asks the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia to arm oppositional forces—reminiscent of arming the Taliban against the Soviets (and we know how that turned out)—one hopes that Qaddafi's insistence that al-Qaeda-connected Islamists are relevant actors in the revolt does not turn out to be a classic case of the boy who cried wolf. Islamists and jihadists do have a knack of turning up where least expected and filling power vacuums. Add to that the fact that "the [Obama] administration knows little about Libya's well-armed rebels, [and] cannot predict the political system that might replace Gaddafi's bizarre rule."

That Qaddafi is an anti-American and tyrannical thug, there is no doubt. But unless this administration has a clear and focused policy on what it wants to accomplish in Libya—one that does not include cozying up to Islamists or that is built solely atop temporary economic considerations—it may be best to let the Middle East's latest survival-of-the-fittest installment play out, and go from there.

Original URL: http://www.meforum.org/2850/libya-what-to-do

Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum.
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Muslim American Groups, not Rep. Pete king, are the Ones Fomenting Hysteria with Hearings on Tap


by Steven Emerson

Never in my entire career in Washington have I encountered the hype and scare tactics of those opposing the hearings into Islamic radicalization by Rep. Pete King. A classic example was a headline on MSNBC.com: "Inquiry by congressional committee looks like inquisition to many Muslims."

The line of attack is now familiar: If King (R-L.I.) were truly interested in violent extremism, his hearings would focus on a wide range of groups that wreak havoc on America, including neo-Nazis and others; by focusing solely on Muslim extremism, the argument goes, he is betraying his bias.

This is utterly ridiculous. Our organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, recently did an analysis of all terrorism convictions based on statistics released by the Justice Department. These stats show that more than 80% of all convictions tied to international terrorist groups and homegrown terrorism since 9/11 involve defendants driven by a radical Islamist agenda. Though Muslims represent less than 1% of the American population, they constitute defendants in 186 of the 228 cases the Justice Department lists.

The figures confirm that there is a disproportionate problem of Islamic militancy and terrorism among the American Muslim population.

This is not to say that, on a percentage basis, American Muslims tend to be violent or extremist. To the contrary. Those involved in terrorism are a tiny sliver of the overall Muslim American population.

But one ought to be able to focus on a very real problem - homegrown terrorism fueled by Muslim extremism - without being accused of painting the entire U.S. Muslim population with a broad brush.

The real underlying story here is how the self-anointed leadership of the Muslim community - groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim American Society - are the ones responsible for instilling panic into the Muslim community by suggesting that these hearings will lead to "hate crimes" against Muslims.

That canard has been used by these groups for years in their attempts to intimidate the media, commentators and critics of radical Islam from truly analyzing the role of these groups and others in radicalizing their constituents in the American Muslim community. The documents showing the creation of these groups with the assistance of the Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into evidence in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development several years ago. At the trial, the Council on American-Islamic Relations was described by an FBI expert as a front for Hamas, and was also listed, together with the Islamic Society of North America, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation indictments.

Groups such as these routinely play the "Islamophobia" card, and get attention for doing so in the mainstream media, in order to silence criticism of Islamic radicalism. In fact, these very same groups, just like the Obama administration, categorically refuse to even use the term "radical Islam" in order to excise the term from the American vernacular.

Critics have taken issue with King's focus on one religious minority. But, in fact, in previous years, Congress has held numerous hearings into various ethnic subcultures that have spawned illegalities - including the Italian mob, Hispanic drug cartels, black and white prison gangs, white racists and neo-Nazis.

Headlines about King producing "panic" in the rank-and-file Muslim community are nonsense. The only panic is that being strategically fomented by groups with an interest in spreading fear. They, together with their mainstream media friends, have falsely alleged that: one, there is a war against Islam by the United States, and two, the FBI is secretly instigating Islamic terrorism by use of informants.

These are dangerous fictions.

Original URL: http://www.investigativeproject.org/2668/muslim-american-groups-not-rep-pete-king-are

Steven Emerson

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Muslim Radicalization Inquiry Brings Out the Radicals


by Daniel Flynn

That Thursday’s congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization have provoked a greater outcry from the American Muslim community than any number of atrocities committed in their religion’s name ironically hints at the grounds for the probe.

On Sunday, several hundred demonstrators poured into Times Square, where Faisal Shahzad’s attempt to curtail the civil liberties of Americans sparked no such assembled outrage, to protest Congressman Peter King’s hearings. “To single out Muslim-Americans as the source of homegrown terrorism,” Rabbi Marc Schneier told those gathered, “and not examine all forms of violence motivated by extremist belief—that, my friends, is an injustice.”

On MSNBC, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, one of two Muslims in Congress, called the Homeland Security Committee’s inquest “a disturbing use of a Congressional hearing.” On Wednesday, the ACLU’s Laura Murphy warned at Politico that the inquiry “calls to mind the McCarthy hearings.” “Notice that the hearing is solely about Muslims,” the New York Times editorialized Monday. “It might be perfectly legitimate for the Homeland Security Committee to investigate violent radicalism in America among a wide variety of groups, but that doesn’t seem to be Mr. King’s real interest.”

The White House made sure to voice its displeasure with the congressional inquiry. “In the United States of America, we don’t practice guilt by association,” deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough said at a Dulles, Virginia mosque over the weekend. “And let’s remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with us all.”

Did Peter King overlook sleeper cells plaguing Quaker Meeting Houses? What, but bigotry, explains the exclusion of Orthodox Jews from the Homeland Security Committee’s inquest? Could he have missed the wave of Episcopalian suicide bombers?

Pretending for social harmony’s sake that Islam is Hinduism is Christianity is Judaism is Zoroastrianism makes a farce out of anti-terror efforts. It does so at airport security screening, where geriatric Asian women get singled out alongside twenty-something Pakistani men. It does so in congressional hearings, which will be deemed unacceptable so long as the 21st-century Nazis and South African white nationalists who terrorize movie audiences aren’t duly represented alongside al Qaeda. Political correctness, a point of ridicule on college campuses, kills in this context.

The idea that varying religions account for equal amounts of violence is a hallucination brought on by an overdose of political correctness. In India, in Israel, in Russia, in Somalia we see diverse acts of murder committed by terrorists uniform in faith. But in America, it’s impolite to notice. The impulse to dismiss Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan as a crazy and to infuse politics into Tucson crazy Jared Lee Loughner’s shooting spree demonstrate the degree to which ideologues flock to the narrative when faced with uncooperative facts. Janet Napolitano’s 2009 report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” underscores this delusional take that the nature of the terroristic threat comes from the administration’s domestic political enemies rather than Islamists. Abstraction trumps reality.

If Peter King did call these hearings for publicity purposes, he did so better understanding the public mood than his critics. “The threat is coming from the Muslim community,” King matter-of-factly explained to the Times. “The radicalization attempts are directed at the Muslim community. Why should I investigate other communities?”

When people act differently they don’t get treated the same. This isn’t bigotry. The fact that young men populate prisons in greater numbers than old women doesn’t indicate sexism or ageism. It indicates that behaviors differ among various groups. There are surely old female murderers and young male saints. But to expend equal resources investigating both groups on the question of crime would be a colossal waste.

King’s focus on young Muslim men similarly isn’t motivated by bigotry but common sense. The liberal vision blames internal maladaptivity on the jaundiced eyes looking in from the outside. A Republican from Long Island, not Muslims killing thousands of Americas over the past decade, is responsible for the association of Islam with terrorism. But the American people don’t see it that way.

From Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab trying to unleash explosives in his underwear over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 to Faisal Shahzad leaving a car bomb in the middle of Times Square in May of 2010, the elaborate plots aiming to kill large numbers of Americans stem almost exclusively from young men practicing Islam. Why shouldn’t Peter King investigate this?

This isn’t, in the words of the New York Times, the stuff of a “show trial.” It is the stuff a Homeland Security Committee examines.

Original URL: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/03/10/muslim-radicalization-hearings-brings-out-the-radicals/

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.

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The New Egypt: Muslims Burn Down Church then Kill the Protestors


by Paul Cooper

The media sold us all on the Egyptian so-called democracy protests. It would bring peace and a secular government. Christians would not have to fear. All would be well. Those same newsmen might want to revisit Cairo today where a mob of violent Muslims attacked a Christian protest. So far we know at least 13 people were killed and around 150 have been wounded.

Why were the Christians protesting? Last Friday in the village of Sole, just outside of Cairo, local Muslims decided they now had the freedom to burn down the town’s Coptic church. Without a strong Mubarak police force, they had nothing and no one stopping them. After torching the sacred place, the Muslims promised to build a mosque on that very spot (Are you listening Cordoba House/Park 51 supporters?).

On Tuesday thousands of Coptic Christians protested in front of the state-ran television building in Cairo. They carried large wooden crosses and hoped to get the media’s attention of the burning down of their church (the Church of the Two Martyrs). Sadly, soon after, many of the protesters became martyrs.

We were staging a peaceful demonstration for the church, but they attacked us with firearms, stones and Molotov cocktails. -Samia, a Christian protester.

There was a small military force on the scene. Some reports said the military fired into the air in hopes of stopping the violence. But there are Christians who were there claiming the military aided the Muslims in attack by getting out of the way of the Muslims and even firing on the Christians. Most of the Coptics are part of a local trash collectors’ settlement, and the Muslim attackers were apparently allowed by the military to start burning down the homes of the Christians.

The tanks made way for the thugs to come in. There was shooting until two o’clock in the morning. After that they burnt the houses and stole from them. They broke whatever they could not carry away. No fire engines or ambulances came. We had to take the injured to hospital in garbage trucks. – Samia

In the early morning hours of Wednesday the fighting finally stopped as more military moved in.

Much of the mainstream media, possibly as a way to save face for themselves and Muslims, are presenting the story as generic “sectarian violence” or an equal clash between Christians and Muslims. Just read a couple of the headlines:

New York Times: Christians and Muslims in Fatal clash Near Cairo

Financial Times: Sectarian Clashes Kill 13 Near Cairo

Somehow if Christians are ruthlessly attacked and some of them try to defend themselves, our press thinks it is equal violence. It would take a lot more than this ruthless attack for the Left to admit they might have been wrong on Egypt. But how much more innocent blood will be spilled? Such violence will sadly spark more violence. Moreover, this new temporary government doesn’t seem too concerned.

Maybe they’re just following our lead.

Original URL: http://tinyurl.com/5soh4xu (www.newsrealblog.com)

Paul Cooper


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Obama and Jewish Leadership


by Isi Leibler

The "closed" meeting between President Barack Obama and 50 representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week was hailed by the chairman Alan Solow and executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein as an "extraordinary session," providing "open lines of communication with President Obama and his administration" and an "opportunity to articulate the views of American Jews on issues that face the country."

In a similar vein, the White House said the meeting reaffirmed "America's unshakable support for Israel's security, opposition to any effort to delegitimize or single it out for criticism, and a commitment to achieve a peace that will secure the future for Arabs and Israelis alike."

In contrast to the 2009 meeting, J Street was not invited.

From all reports, Obama went out of his way to persuade participants that he was committed to Israel. More importantly, he unequivocally reaffirmed his commitment to maintain US military aid at the current record levels.

However, despite his positive remarks, it would appear that he remains committed to a policy of applying one-sided pressure to make further unilateral concessions.

Participants thanked the president for having exercised the US veto at the UN Security Council. But in response to expressions of regret at the harsh anti-Israeli statements made by US representatives before and after the vote, Obama stated that White House officials consider it imperative for the US "to do something to show balance" in view of the delicacy of Arab public opinion during these "sensitive" times.

It was also disconcerting to learn that despite the recent tsunamis in the Arab world, Obama still sees a linkage between the turmoil - including the threat from Iran - and the need for concessions to the Palestinians.

This distortion of reality is accentuated when viewed in conjunction with recent US statements downplaying radical Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which the State Department now describes as "moderate," despite its clear objectives of creating a Shari'a state and destroying Israel.

EVEN MORE alarming was a JTA report quoting Obama making a patronizing call to the Jewish leaders to speak to their friends and colleagues in Israel, and to "search your souls" as to whether its government is serious about making peace.

Steven Warnick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, observed that Obama "did talk about the fact that Israel is the stronger party here, militarily, culturally and politically. And Israel needs to create the context for it to happen."

The president was obviously implying that it bears primary responsibility for advancing the peace process.

Obama also reaffirmed his long-standing view that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate peace partner, but said "the Palestinians don't feel confident that the Netanyahu government is serious about territorial concessions."

In stark contrast to his efforts to understand what motivated Abbas, Obama failed to credit the unprecedented concessions offered by our democratically elected prime minister, whose policies are supported by the vast majority of the people.

Indeed, if the opposition held the reins of government, its approach would barely differ.

Binyamin Netanyahu was the first prime minister to introduce a 10-month freeze on settlement construction, in response to US pressure. Nevertheless, throughout this period, Abbas refused to negotiate with him.

Thus, when Obama urged further concessions, insisting that "both sides" make a "greater effort," it would have been appropriate for a Jewish representative to ask him whether he saw parallels between the corrupt and duplicitous leadership of Abbas and Hosni Mubarak, whom he recently disowned.

What further concessions can be made to appease the Palestinians, who still refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reject demilitarization and doggedly insist on the ‘right' of all refugees and their descendants to reside in Israel? Should Netanyahu agree to return to the indefensible 1948 armistice lines? These lines (although erroneously referred to as 1967 borders) were described by Abba Eban as the "Auschwitz borders" and were never intended to be permanent.

Should Netanyahu disregard UN Security Council Resolution 242, which understood that those borders would need to be adjusted? Does Obama expect Israel to unilaterally withdraw? We have seen the results of Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza - the empowerment of Hamas and the intensification of rockets and terrorism, culminating in the Gaza war.

ISRAEL'S LONG-TERM viability remains highly dependent on US support - more so today than at any period since the creation of the state. It is highly gratifying that the American public and Congress are strongly supportive. But in the White House, we have a president whose priority is to appease the Islamic states, and even engage with radical Islamists, which inevitably conflicts with support for the Jewish state. Thus the burden of responsibility for Israel advocacy and resistance to sacrificing it on the altar of expediency now rests with our American Jewish supporters.

Obama seeks to be reelected, and has displayed a willingness to forgo ideology in pursuit of this objective.

Jews represent a small but important strategic group in US politics. They have considerable leverage, but if in a meeting with the president representative leaders fail to respond to bizarre and patronizing remarks, they will cease to have any impact.

Strategizing a policy under such circumstances is no easy task.

Jewish community leaders must carefully weigh responses to government policies they consider to be contrary to Jewish interests. Speaking up may jeopardize future access, but responsible leaders must never refrain from respectfully doing so.

The awful legacy of Rabbi Stephen Wise, whose blind adulation of Franklin Roosevelt during the Holocaust resulted in one of the darkest pages in American Jewish history, has been internalized by a postwar generation of proud American Jewish leaders prepared to stand up and be counted. Yet given American Jewry's long association with the Democratic Party, standing up to a president like Obama represents a formidable challenge.

However, their response will undoubtedly have an historic impact on the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Original URL: http://wordfromjerusalem.com/?p=2845

Isi Leibler, ileibler@netvision.net.il

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New Study on Hate Crimes against Muslims Contradicts Claims of Islamophobia in America


by Clare M. Lopez, Christine Brim, Roland Peer

The Center for Security Policy today released a groundbreaking longitudinal study, Religious Bias Crimes against Muslim, Jewish and Christian Victims: American Trends from 2000-2009, based on statistics reported by the FBI. The study contradicts the false assertions that hate crimes against Muslims have increased, and that the alleged cause is widespread Islamophobia in America.

In fact, the study shows that hate crimes against Muslim Americans, measured by the categories of incidents, offenses or victims, have remained relatively low with a downward trend since 2001. For example, in 2009, Jewish victims of hate crimes outnumbered Muslim victims by more than 8 to 1 (1,132 Jewish victims to 132 Muslim victims). From 2000 through 2009, for every one hate crime incident against a Muslim, there were six hate crime incidents against Jewish victims (1,580 Muslim incidents versus 9,692 Jewish incidents). Even in 2001, total anti-Muslim incidents, offenses and victims remained approximately half of the corresponding anti-Jewish totals.

The study provides hard data that disproves the counter-factual statements made by a small number of highly vocal Muslim lobbying groups, many linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as leftwing activists.

Citing these false assumptions concerning Americas alleged Islamophobia and a supposed rising trend in hate crimes against Muslim Americans, these organizations have argued against the March 10, 2011 House Committee on Homeland Security hearings on Muslim American radicalization. The study shows that these arguments against the hearings are not based on facts, but rather on a political agenda.

Frank Gaffney, President of Center for Security Policy remarked:

This report is important because it exposes a false belief perpetuated by a few vocal groups that religious bias crimes against Muslims are on the upswing. The truth is quite the opposite. These arguments, unsubstantiated by hard factual data, are corrosive to community relationships at every level of American society, and a potential threat to national security.

Note: This Center for Security Policy Occasional Paper is available as a PDF, or is reprinted below.


Religious Bias Crimes against Muslim, Jewish and Christian Victims: American Trends from 2000-2009

Clare M. Lopez, Roland Peer & Christine Brim

Introduction

Misperceptions about religious bias hate crimes in America are widespread. This study is a longitudinal comparison of religious bias hate crimes, as reported by the FBI, from the pre-9/11 year of 2000 through 2009, the most recent year for which statistics were available.[1] The assertion that religious bias hate crimes against one group in particular, Muslims in America, have proliferated in the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001 has gained acceptance within media and government, thanks to a steady drumbeat of assertions to this effect from a small but vocal group of advocacy organizations.

Internationally, the most aggressive of these is the 57 member state Organization of the Islamic Conference, with its so-called "Islamophobia Observatory." In the U.S., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)[2] and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)[3] have taken the lead in issuing claims that discrimination and religious bias hate crimes against Muslims are increasing.[4] These organizations have also asserted that "Islamophobia" and statements critical of Islam, Shariah law, or political Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood may be linked to the alleged rise in hate crimes. Alternatively, counterterrorism expert Steve Emerson has suggested "In advancing the notion that government policy has resulted in an undeserved backlash against ordinary Muslims, CAIR seeks to muster opposition to the anti-terror laws it finds objectionable."[5]

To inform this public debate about religious bias hate crimes in America, the Center for Security Policy analyzed data from 2000 through 2009 for three FBI-identified victim groups: Jews, Muslims, and Christians (a combined statistic for the purposes of this whitepaper, combining separate FBI data for Catholics and Protestants). The source of all the religion bias crimes information cited in the following report is the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program,[6] which collects crime statistics on an annual basis and presents them online. Appendices B-T at the end of this report present those official FBI statistics in tables and charts showing the comparative incidence of religious hate crimes for Christians, Jews, and Muslims from 2000-2009.

The results may prove surprising to those who took CAIR or MPAC spokesmen at their word. For example, in 2009[7], in totals for a combined five categories of hate crime, from Simple Assault to Crimes Against Property, Jewish victims of hate crimes by religion outnumbered Muslim victims by more than 8 to 1 (1,132 Jewish victims to 132 Muslim victims). Nor is 2009 an anomalous year in terms of these numbers. Across the decade, from 2000 through 2009, Jewish victims of hate crimes by religion outnumbered their Christian and Muslim counterparts, with the exception of a nine-week period following the 9/11 terrorist acts for two categories of bias crimes: simple and aggravated assaults statistics.[8] From 2000 through 2009, for every one hate crime incident against a Muslim, there were six hate crime incidents against Jewish victims (1,580 Muslim incidents versus 9,692 Jewish incidents).

The Center for Security Policy presents this study to inform the dialogue surrounding religious bias crimes in the U.S. and to provide a fact-based resource that analysts, researchers, and citizens can use for a reality check.

Prior Research

Although a number of European academics and institutes (particularly the British[9]) have produced studies on the general topic of "Islamophobia" in the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, few Americans have tackled "hate crimes" from the objective perspective of a neutral academic and empirical study based on the available FBI statistics. Two studies are representative, though unlike our study, neither is a longitudinal study encompassing a ten-year period.

Jeffrey Kaplan, an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh authored a report entitled, "Islamophobia in America?: September 11 and Islamophobic Hate Crime."[10] Although this report does reference FBI hate crime statistics, it does so only for the period from 2000-2002, as Kaplan's study focus is that period of time just after the September 11 attacks on the U.S. He concludes that "The intense phase of these attacks comprised approximately nine weeks, after which the number of hate crimes fell sharply" due, he writes, to national leadership from the U.S. president, decisive law enforcement intervention, grassroots outreach to Muslim communities across the country, and a "rapid dissolution of American moral certainty about the War on Terror."

In other research, Steven George Salaita produced a study for the New Centennial Review in the Fall of 2006 which set out to "summarize the evolution of the Arab image in American media since Ronald Stockton's seminal 1994 analysis, with emphasis on the role of 9/11, and advance the usage of the term anti-Arab racism as a more accurate replacement for the traditional descriptors Orientalism and Islamophobia in relation to the negative portrayal of Arabs in the United States."[11] Unlike our study, the author approached the topic with a non-empirical framework.

Scholarly research in the area of hate crimes is increasingly a popular area for specialization, as witnessed by the Journal of Hate Studies, celebrating its 8th Volume in 2010.[12] A useful short review of the field's scope - though unfortunately not addressing a longitudinal analysis nor the FBI data - can be found in Barbara Perry's essay, "The more things change...post-9/11 trends in hate crime scholarship," a summary of the various disciplines' research addressing the issue of hate.[13]

Methodology and Findings

The "Religious Bias Crimes in America" study is a longitudinal look at the instances of religious bias crimes, also known as hate crimes, against Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the United States from 2000 to 2009. The use of the term "Hate Crime" is defined by the FBI in its 1996 Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection[14] as well as in its Uniform Crime Reporting Program,[15] which find their authorization in the April 23, 1990 "Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990."[16] This legislation requires the U.S. Department of Justice to compile and publish an annual summary of data about crimes that "manifest prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." This study focuses on those hate crimes that clearly demonstrate prejudice based on bias against Christians (Catholics and Protestants combined), Jews and Muslims, as identified by the FBI. Three other categories of religious bias crime for which the FBI collects statistics, but which were not included in this study because they are less specific for purposes of comparison are: anti-other religion, anti-multi-religious group, and anti-atheism-agnosticism.

The Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines define a bias crime:

A criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin; also known as Hate Crime.

Definitions of the various offenses against person and property are also provided in the Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines.[17]

Three broad categories of religious hate crimes are included in this study: incidents, offenses, and victims. A single incident may include more than one offense (for example, intimidation and robbery). An offense may have more than one victim. A victim may be the target of more than one offense. Data categories for offenses and victims are sub-divided between crimes against persons, and crimes against property. Each of these sub-categories is further broken down by specific types of crimes. For example, crimes against persons include 1) murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, 2) forcible rape, 3) simple assault, 4) aggravated assault, 5) intimidation (by far the largest crimes against persons category), and 6) other. Crimes against property include 1) robbery, 2) burglary, 3) larceny/theft, 4) motor vehicle theft, 5) arson, 6) destruction/damage/vandalism (by far the largest crimes against property category), and 7) other. A third category, crimes against society, (at the same hierarchical level as crimes against persons, and crimes against property) presented only insignificant numbers for all three religions in the study (19 victims for all three religious groups from all ten years combined - see Appendix C, Table 2).

While there has been a slight variation through the years, anti-Jewish hate crimes have hovered around 70% of total anti-religious hate crime, while anti-Muslim violence has accounted for around 10%, and anti-Christian hate crime has totaled slightly less than 10%. Jewish and Muslim populations in America, as noted previously, each are estimated at 6 million persons (with an alternate estimate by Pew for the Muslim population). There was an increase in anti-Muslim violence in 2001 (exceeding both Jewish and Christian rates for simple and aggravated assault), which decreased to the 10% range in 2002, where it has remained (a temporary smaller spike was seen in 2006 against both Jewish and Muslim victims). Even in the anomalous year of 2001, total anti-Muslim incidents, offenses, and number of victims were approximately half of the corresponding anti-Jewish totals (Muslim Incidents - 481, Victims - 546, Offenses - 554; Jewish Incidents - 1043, Victims - 1117, Offenses - 1196). That the terrorist attacks occurred relatively late in the year - in September of 2001 - suggests that the increase in anti-Muslim violence occurred over a period of a few weeks, or more specifically nine weeks as noted in Kaplan's study. Looking at total numbers of victims over the 2000-2009 period, for every Muslim victim from 2000 to 2009, there have been over six (6.13) Jewish incidents of hate crimes. As noted previously, in 2009 the ratio increased: for every Muslim victim, there were even more - over 8 - Jewish victims.

Most anti-religious hate crimes in the United States are not of a violent nature against persons. Aggregating anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, and anti-Jewish hate crimes against persons and property from 2000 to 2009[18], demonstrates that 64% of total hate crimes are crimes against property, and of these, 92% are cases of destruction/damage/vandalism, and the majority of the remaining 8% are burglary and larceny/theft. There have been 38 robbery offenses, or 0.3% of total hate crimes and of these, 23 were anti-Jewish. The rate of arson is very small, accounting for slightly more than 1% of total crimes against property.

Of the remaining 36% of total cases that are crimes against persons, most (77%) are classified as intimidation. Virtually all of the other 23% are simple or aggravated assault. There were no rape cases and only one murder, of a Jewish victim. There was an increase in 2006 in anti-Muslim aggravated assault (24 offenses), compared to 22 anti-Jewish offenses, and in 2009 (11 vs. 9). There were no similar spikes in cases of simple assault, and in other years, anti-Jewish aggravated and simple assault cases are double that of anti-Muslim assault cases. While cases of anti-Jewish aggravated assault decreased between 2008 and 2009 from 25 to 9, anti-Jewish simple assault cases increased sharply from 58 to 82. When compared to the overall population of over 300 million people, anti-religious hate crimes are not highly prevalent in the United States for any religious group. Bias-motivated crime is simply not that common for any religious group in the U.S.

Comparing the prevalence of anti-religious hate crimes by religion requires measuring the number of incidents against the overall population of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the United States. Self-identified Christians accounted in 2008 for 76% of the adult American population[19], or 173,402,000 persons, significantly higher than for Muslims or Jews, and therefore the relative prevalence of anti-Christian crimes is by far the lowest of the three. Muslim groups in the U.S. such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), with an interest in presenting the U.S. Muslim population as equivalent to the Jewish one, repeatedly have declared the number of Muslims in the U.S. to be about 6 million persons, ,[20] Within the same range, Chicago Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, the 2010 Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions' Board of Trustees Chairman, has cited 2001 estimates of 5.8 million and 6.7 million Muslims in America.[21] On February 3, 2011, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) similarly cited "the reality of 6 million Muslims."[22] A lower estimate was published by the Pew Research Center in January 2011, when it put the Muslim population of the U.S. at 2.6 million.[23] The 2010 US Census estimates the Jewish population in the United States to be 6.5 million, or 2.1% of the total population in 2009, and this includes those who self-define as Jewish either by religion, ethnicity, or culture. [24] This broad definition thus can be seen as defining an upper boundary for the U.S. Jewish population, given that the FBI hate crime statistics define Judaism as a religion.

The Facts Contradict the Myths

These findings seem to contradict the popular perception that Muslims face more discrimination than Jews in the United States. For example, a Pew poll conducted in 2009 found that 58% of Americans believe there is "a lot of discrimination against" Muslims, opposed to 35% who thought the same for Jews. [25] FBI statistics do show a lower percentage of anti-Jewish hate crimes have identified offenders, which may contribute to the misperception that anti-Jewish hate crimes in the United States are not as prevalent as they really are. Of total known offenders from the period of 2000 to 2009, 56% committed anti-Jewish hate crimes; the number rises to 67% when unknown offenders are included.

The process of local law enforcement data collection and categorization is inconsistent and both over-reporting and under-reporting may occur[26]. The goal of our analysis is to show the relative frequency of hate crimes, by religion and by type.

We have looked at primarily at some summary statistics for this report. In addition, we include the tables here as appendices along with a selection of charts. The spreadsheet data tables and charts are available for download in excel format at securefreedom.org.

Hate Crime Rhetoric

Concerns about a backlash against Muslims in America arose in the aftermath of 9/11 and were given added impetus by books, studies, and other publications and statements by various organizations and Muslim leadership figures and groups. The November 2002 report by Human Rights Watch, "We Are Not the Enemy: Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11"[27] is representative of the genre. Citing a "severe wave of backlash violence" involving "more than two thousand September 11-related backlash incidents" against Arabs and Muslims in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, the report claims such people were targeted "solely because they shared or were perceived as sharing the national background or religion of the hijackers and al-Qaeda members deemed responsible for attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."[28] Although the report goes on to claim that "comprehensive and reliable national statistics are not available," this study cites the readily-available official FBI statistics that indeed do show a spike from 28 to 481 total hate crimes against Muslims between the years 2000 and 2001; however, according to the FBI figures, even that high mark is exceeded by a factor of two for the typical annual total of hate crimes against Jews in America.[29]

The January 6, 2010 report, "Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim Americans," produced with funding from the Department of Justice, also cites an "increased anti-Muslim bias" in the years since the 9/11 attacks. This paper's three authors, David Schanzer and Ebrahim Moosa of Duke University and Charles Kurzman from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, assert that Muslim-Americans bear the brunt of government counterterrorism initiatives, some of which they consider discriminatory.[30]

Then there is the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which styles itself an organization "that challenges stereotypes of Islam and Muslims" and a "Washington-based Islamic advocacy group" dedicated to challenging "anti-Muslim discrimination nationwide."[31] The CAIR website includes an extensive section on "Islamophobia,"[32] a term reportedly coined by the Muslim Brotherhood front group, the International Islamic Institute of Thought (IIIT),[33] in an effort to find a concept useful in beating back critics of Islamic law (shariah) and jihad.[34]

CAIR traces the phenomenon of "Islamophobia" to writing by Samuel Huntington in the 1990s that posited a coming "clash of civilizations" between Islam and the West. CAIR claims that "when 9/11 happened," those already prejudiced against Islam were influenced by "right wing outlets" and "pro-Israeli commentators such as Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Judith Miller, and Bernard Lewis" to amplify an atmosphere of "extreme prejudice, suspicion, and fear against Muslims."[35] Deftly sidestepping the historical record of decades of international terror attacks perpetrated by Muslim jihadis well before 9/11[36], in addition to centuries of shariah-inspired jihad that preceded the current one[37], CAIR's Islamophobia page cites a number of surveys conducted in the years following 2001 that indicate Americans believe Islam encourages violence, does not teach respect for the beliefs of non-Muslims, or that mosques ought to be monitored by U.S. law enforcement officials. Americans' entirely rational concerns about jihadist attacks and the encroachment of shariah on American society are then described not only as the font of "discrimination, exclusion, and violence" against Muslims (without citing any official statistics to substantiate the accusation), but the naturally-to-be-expected source of Muslims' own "disillusionment, social disorder, and....irrational violence." [Emphasis added][38]

Slander, Blasphemy, and Insult to Islam in Shariah

It is imperative that western societies like ours understand the serious implications within Islamic law for accusations of insult to Islam, Islamic doctrine, or Muslims. Under shariah, the offense of slander is defined very differently than in U.S. law. According to the ‘Umdat al-Salik (or Reliance of the Traveller), a book of Islamic law that carries the imprimatur of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, the global seat of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, Slander "means to mention anything concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike..."[39] Several pages later, a further explanation is provided: "A person should not speak of anything he notices about people besides that which benefits a Muslim to relate or prevents disobedience."[40] Under Islamic law, truth is no defense against an accusation of slander and the offense is held to be a Hudud crime, one deserving the harshest punishment.

Even more serious than Slander under Islamic law is the offense of Blasphemy. The Muslim authorities hold Blasphemy to be insulting or abusing that which is held sacred in Islam. This can include anything from cursing Allah or the prophet Muhammad to irreverent behavior towards Islamic religious beliefs or customs. Even expressing opinions about Islam considered at variance with normative beliefs can be construed as blasphemy under this extremely subjective definition. Not only Muslims traditionally have been held accountable under the Islamic blasphemy laws, but also non-Muslims, especially dhimmis (conquered, subjugated People of the Book, i.e., Christians and Jews). "Reviling Muslims" or "Harming the Friends of Allah Most High" are considered serious sins, termed "Enormities".[41] Such offenses are described in Islamic law as those that entail either a threat of punishment in the hereafter, a prescribed Hadd punishment, or being accursed by Allah or the prophet Muhammad.[42]

Islamic laws on Blasphemy and Slander should not be considered outmoded or an irrelevant remnant of the 7th century: they remain very much in effect in modern times, as the following excerpt from the authoritative Malaysian scholar Mohammad Hashim Kamali's 1997 essay, "Freedom of Expression in Islam", makes clear:

"However, a general observation which should be made here is that in matters which pertain to the dogma of Islam, or those which are regulated by the direct authority of the Qur'an or Sunnah, criticism, either from Muslims or non-Muslims, will not be entertained, as personal or public opinion does not command authority in such matters. Islam is basically a religion of authority, and the values of good and evil, or rights and duties are not determined by reference to public opinion, or popular vote..." [Emphasis added][43]

It might be added that Dr. Kamali, who was a Professor of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence at the International Islamic University Malaysia and also Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization (ISTAC) from 1985 - 2007, and is currently Chairman and CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies, Malaysia, is considered not only a leading international academic authority on Islam, but a "moderate Muslim." He was on the advisory group for Imam Feisal Rauf's "Shariah Index Project" and is a listed expert at the purportedly moderate organization World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE).[44]

The deadly intent of the shariah laws on Blasphemy and Slander repeatedly has been demonstrated in recent times: among examples which could be cited are the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie, the 2004 murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and Anwar al-Awlaki's 2010 fatwa against the Washington state journalist Molly Norris (who was forced into permanent hiding for jesting online about an "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day"). The consequences, therefore, of being accused by a Muslim of offending Islamic beliefs, customs, or laws should not be underestimated. The developing concept of "Islamophobia" obviously is heading in this direction.

Here is a final example. Given the centrality of this doctrine to Islam, the 21 February 2011 demand by CAIR for Fox News program host and former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, to apologize for "inaccurate and offensive" comments about Islam and to meet with Muslim leaders to discuss growing Islamophobia in American society"[45] needs to be taken very seriously. CAIR's leadership knows exactly what such an accusation implies under Islamic law; it is to be hoped that the Governor does, too.

There is one more aspect of the Islamic laws on Slander that needs to be mentioned in this regard. Our jihadi enemy does not want the non-Muslim infidel world (and especially our national security leadership) to understand the true character and intentions of those shariah adherents who are dedicated to "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within."[46] Specifically, the enemy reserves the right to employ taqiyya (deceit and dissimulation) as well as the Islamic laws on obligatory lying[47] to keep such information from those whose knowledge of it could lead to effective defensive measures against shariah. Attempted enforcement of this legally sanctioned code of silence about the genuine nature and objectives of the jihadist enemy is one of the key usages of the Slander and Blasphemy laws in the west.[48]

"Islamophobia" and Defensive Jihad

To carry through the Islamic legal principles inherent in the Slander and Blasphemy laws to their logical end point, it is useful to refer to classical as well as modern pronouncements on the elements that Muslim scholars hold necessary to justify and declare defensive jihad. For, in fact, this justification is where accusations of "Islamophobia", religious "hate crimes," and insult to Islam plausibly lead. In fact, in numerous cases, hate crime violence or intimidating threats of violence against persons and property in response to perceived "blasphemy" has been a response in the last decade in Muslim-majority countries, and also in Canada, Europe, and the U.S. The examples in Muslim-majority countries are too numerous to list, but a sample of U.S. cases include the jihad threats against Molly Norris, creator of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", the South Park cartoon producers, and publications that republished the Danish "Muhammed Cartoons."

Classical scholars of Islam, such as Al-Shaybani (8th-9th century disciple of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence and a jurist in his own right) and Ibn Rushd (12th century legal scholar known as Averroes in the West) have written extensively and assertively on the obligatory nature of offensive jihad according to shariah, simply for the purpose of establishing Islam in the world.[49] It was understood both explicitly and implicitly that defensive jihad was obligatory as well. Among the Qur'anic verses commonly cited as justification is the following:

"Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is Allah's entirely." -- (Q 8:39)

Turning to the modern Islamic scholars, Louay Safi is a Muslim author and scholar who has served at the top ranks of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the U.S. He formerly was the Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)'s Leadership Development Center, Executive Director and Director of Research for the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), editor of the Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, and President of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS) (1999-2003). ISNA, IIIT, and the AMSS all appear on the Muslim Brotherhood's own list of "our organizations and the organizations of our friends."[50] Safi currently serves as Common Word Fellow at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. His credentials, in other words, would seem impeccable to speak to Islamic rulings on defensive warfare.

The slim 2001 paperback book, "Peace and the Limits of War," was authored by Safi and published by the IIIT in response to the post-9/11 surge in public awareness of Islam and jihad. While Safi attempts to distance himself from the classical Islamic scholars on the topic of mandatory offensive jihad, he has no such compunctions when it comes to "War in defense of Muslim individuals and property." He writes:

"When wrong is inflicted on a Muslim individual by a member, or members, of another political community....the Islamic state is obligated to make sure the individual, or his family, is compensated for his suffering, and that his rights are upheld...it suffices to say that the Islamic state should ensure that justice has been done to the wronged Muslim, even if that take a declaration of war..."[51]

Perceptions about the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims matter, especially when considered in the context of Islamic law (shariah), which criminalizes insults to Islam as "slander" or even "blasphemy."[52] A false belief, perpetuated by a few vocal groups, that deliberate religious bias crimes against Muslims are increasing regardless of the lack of support by hard factual data, is corrosive to community relationships at every level of American society, and a potential threat to First Amendment free speech rights and national security. Efforts at the international level, especially by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)[53], to define any questioning of Islamic doctrine as "hate speech" leading to "hate crimes", such as "Islamophobia" and as a "human rights violation" by way of official resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), directly create the premise for criminalization of free speech. Further, although non-binding at this time, such UNHRC resolutions conceivably could legitimize an eventual casus belli, by which an appropriate fatwa could declare justification for violent defensive jihad by the forces of Islam. As recently as March 7 2011, James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, formerly with the Democratic National Committee, wrote of critics of the Shariah law and Islamic terrorism in America, that:

If these ‘professional bigots" have provided the grist, the mill itself was run by the vast network of rightwing talk radio and TV shows and websites and prominent preachers, who have combined to amplify the anti-Muslim message nationwide. Their efforts have done real damage. They have tormented descent [sic] public servants, created protests that have shuttered legitimate institutions, fomented hate crimes and produced fear in the Muslim community.[54]

Conclusions

This data presented in this study demonstrate that common perceptions about the incidence of "hate crimes" in America that are directed at individuals or groups on the grounds of religious identification often mistakenly ascribe the majority of such offenses to anti-Muslim sentiment. To the contrary, the 2000-2009 FBI crime statistics data used in this study indicate that the majority of U.S. "hate crimes" in fact are perpetrated against Jews. The spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes following 9-11 did not last longer than nine weeks according to prior research. The most important conclusion may be that total religious bias crimes are few in a country of over 300 million persons. In fact, the U.S. is a model as a tolerant country, with a significantly low (and in some cases falling) number of hate crimes, in which most Muslim Americans are fully integrated and accepted, as well as economically and socially successful, fellow citizens.

The persistence, scope, and sophistication of the campaign to portray Muslims in America inaccurately, as making up the majority of "hate crime" victims, points to an organized effort whose potential implications derive from Islamic law (shariah). Insult towards Islam, Islamic doctrine, and individual Muslims, especially by non-Muslim infidels, can carry serious penalties under Shariah law. Further, because the "crimes" of insult, slander, and blasphemy are so subjectively defined in shariah, the doorway is wide open for those with an agenda of victimology to lay a foundation that not inconceivably could lead ultimately to a declaration of "defensive jihad" against persons, property or the broader community. "Homegrown" jihadist terrorism can find its motivation as part of the radicalization process in this heightened, and counter-factual, sense of victimization that justifies organized or "lone wolf" acts of jihad that are rationalized as defensive.

Charts & Data

Charts and data for this Occasional Paper are available in the PDF, or as Microsoft Excel files below:



[1] Center for Security Policy staff and interns contributed to the data entry, analysis, and verification.

[2] The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) presents itself as an Islamic advocacy group and America's largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization. CAIR was included on the Department of Justice's published list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding case of 2007-2008. Its Internet home page may be found at http://www.cair.com/Home.aspx . See CAIR's reports on bias from 2007 (http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/2007-Civil-Rights-Report.pdf)
and 2008 (http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/civilrights2008.pdf ).

[3] The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) calls itself a "Public service agency working for the civil rights of American Muslims". According to the counterterrorism think tank The Investigative Project, "MPAC's public advocacy often involves defending accused terror financiers and opposing law enforcement efforts to root out terrorists and their enablers. In nearly every case, MPAC has responded to investigations by the FBI and the U.S. Treasury Department with complaints that authorities have not proven their allegations, and variations on the constant themes that enforcement actions unfairly single out Muslim groups and ‘bear strong signs of politicization.' At the same time, MPAC has been equally diligent in defending individual terrorists uncovered by federal investigations." http://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/181,accessed February 28, 2011.

[4] "Behind CAIR's Hate Crimes Report," Daniel Skinner, The Weekly Standard, may 6, 2004, http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/054aycfi.asp; "CAIR's Hate Crime Nonsense," Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, May 18, 2005, http://www.danielpipes.org/2627/cairs-hate-crimes-nonsense; "Fudging the Numbers on Hate Crimes," Mike Pesca, NPR, may 23, 2005, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4662915; all accessed February 28, 2011.

[5] "CAIR Pushes Phony Charges of Anti-Muslim Hysteria, Hate Crimes," Investigative Project, April 4, 2008. http://www.steveemerson.com/2008/04/cair-pushes-phony-charges-of accessed February 28, 2011.

[6] The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and its annual Crime in the United States reports are described online at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr

[7] 2009 is the most recent year for which full data are available. See the FBI Hate Crime Statistics for 2009 at http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009/victims.html, accessed 12 February 2011.

[8] Simple Assaults by Victim by Religion for 2001 (Muslim 66, Jewish 45, Christian 3); Aggravated Assaults by Victim by Religion for 2001 (Muslim 27, Jewish 13, Christian 1)

[9] Neil Chakraborti, editor, Hate Crime: Concepts, policy, future directions, Willan Publishing, 2010.

[10] Kaplan, Jeffrey, "Islamophobia in America?: September 11 and Islamophobic Hate Crime," Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group. Accessed 20 February 2011 at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a737727150

[11] Salaita, Steven George, "Beyond Orientalism and Islamophobia: 9/11, Anti-Arab Racism, and the Mythos of National Pride," CR: The New Centennial Review, Michigan State University Press, Volume 6, Number 2, Fall 2006, pp. 245-266. Accessed online 21 February 2011 at http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/new_centennial_review/v006/6.2salaita.html

[12] Journal of Hate Studies, Volume 8 (No. 1), 2010, http://journals.gonzaga.edu/index.php/johs/issue/archive accessed February 28, 2011. The Journal's authors defend a wide spectrum of beliefs, ranging from a positive review for the anti-jihad movie "Obsession" (Vol 5, #1) to numerous articles from a more conventional perspedctive.

[13]Perry, Hate Crime: Concepts, Policy, Future Directions, p. 17

[14] Accessed online 21 February 2011 at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/trainguidedc99.pdf

[15] The FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and its annual Crime in the United States reports are described online at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr

[16] 28 U.S.C. § 534. See Appendix C for the full text of this legislation.

[17] Hate Crime Data Collection Guidelines, p. 24, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/hcguidelinesdc99.pdf accessed February 28, 2011.

[18] This does not include the negligible number (19) of "crimes against society) from 2000-2009 for all three religious groups.

[19] "Self-described Religious Identification of Adult Population: 1990 - 2008," U.S. Census, http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s0075.pdf, accessed February 28, 2011.

[20] Ihsan Bagby, Ph.D., Paul M. Perl, Ph.D., Bryan T. Froehle, Ph.D., The Mosque in America: A National Portrait, Council on American Islamic Relations, April 26, 2001, p.6: "Estimates of a total Muslim population of 6-7 million in America seem reasonable..."

[21] Abdul Malik Mujahid, "Muslims In America: Profile 2001," Soundvision, http://www.soundvision.com/info/yearinreview/2001/profile.asp , accessed February 28, 2011.

[22] "Background Information on Radicalization Hearings," Muslim Public Affairs Council, February 3, 2011. http://www.mpac.org/programs/government-relations/background-information-on-radicalization-hearings.php# accessed February 28, 2011.

[23] The Future of the Global Muslim Population, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Jan. 27, 2011. http://pewforum.org/The-Future-of-the-Global-Muslim-Population.aspx. Accessed 7 March 2011 at http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1872/muslim-population-projections-worldwide-fast-growth.

[24] Table 77, Christian Church Adherents, 2000, and Jewish Population, 2009 - States. 2010 US Census. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2011/tables/11s0077.pdf.

[25] Muslims Widely Seen as Facing Discrimination. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Sept. 9, 2009. http://pewforum.org/Muslim/Muslims-Widely-Seen-As-Facing-Discrimination.aspx.

[26] "FBI Report Notes Rise in Hate Crimes," Deborah Tedford, NPR, November 23, 2009, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120715771 , accessed February 28, 2011.

[27] Available in PDF format and accessed 21 February 2011 at http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2002/11/14/we-are-not-enemy

[28] "We Are Not the Enemy: Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11," Human Rights Watch, NOVEMBER 2002 VOL. 14, NO. 6 (G) (p. 4).

[29] See Appendix D, "Hate Crime Trends: 2000-2007"

[30] Schanzer, David, Charles Kurzman, and Ebrahim Moosa, "Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans," January 6, 2010. Accessed online 21 February 2011 at http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/229868.pdf

[31] The official CAIR website is at http://www.cair.com/Home.aspx. CAIR's foundational organization, The International Association for Palestine, was included on a list of organizations called "our organizations and the organizations of our friends" in a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document called "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America."

[32] "Islamophobia," http://www.cair.com/Issues/Islamophobia/Islamophobia.aspx accessed February 28 2011.

[33] The website of the Herndon, Virginia-based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) is at http://www.iiit.org/Home/tabid/36/Default.aspx The IIIT, like CAIR, is on the Muslim Brotherhood list of its friends and organizations of friends; also like CAIR, the IIIT was included in a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007-2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.

[34] Muhammad, Abdur-Rahman, "Whether or not Ground Zero mosque is built, U.S. Muslims have access to the American dream," The New York Daily News as cited by The Investigative Project on Terrorism, September 5, 2010. Accessed online 21 February 2010 at http://www.investigativeproject.org/2164/whether-or-not-ground-zero-mosque-is-built-us. Muhammad is a former member of the IIIT, whose by-line states that he "now works to combat Islamic extremism in the American Muslim community."

[35] CAIR "Islamophobia" page; accessed 21 February 2011 at http://www.cair.com/Issues/Islamophobia/Islamophobia.aspx

[36] "List of Islamic Terror Attacks Against America Before 9/11," http://factreal.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/list-of-islamic-attacks-against-america/ , accessed February 28, 2011.

[37] Andrew Bostom and Ibn Warraq, The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, Prometheus Books, 2008.

[38] "Islamophobia," http://www.cair.com/Issues/Islamophobia/Islamophobia.aspx

[39] ‘Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. Section r2.0: Slander (p. 730).

[40] Ibid, Section r3.0 (p. 741).

[41] Ibid, Section p50.0 (Hurting or Reviling Muslims) and p51.0 (Harming the Friends of Allah Most High) (pp. 686-688.

[42] Ibid, The Author's Introduction, Section p0.0 (pp. 651-2).

[43] Kamali, Mohammad Hashim, "Freedom of Expression in Islam," Islamic Text Society, 1997. From chapter IX. Freedom of Religion (Al-Hurriyyah al-Diniyyah). Accessed online 22 February 2011 at www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm/.../freedom/kamali_freedom.doc

[44] "Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Biographical Highlights," http://worde.org/specialists/ProfessorMohammadHashimKamali.php accessed February 28, 2011.

[45] "Dissemblers At Council On American Islamic Relations - CAIR - Whip Up The Discredited Bogeyman Of Islamophobia," PipelineNews.org, February 21, 2011. Accessed 22 February 2011 at http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=cair2212011102.htm

[46] "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," a 5/22/91 Muslim Brotherhood document entered into evidence in the 2007-2008 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.

[47] ‘Umdat al-Salik, Section r8.0, Lying (beginning on p. 744).

[48] "Shariah: The Threat to America," Center for Security Policy, October 2010 (pp. 103-106).

[49] See "The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani's Siyar" by Majid Khadduri and Ibn Rushd's magnum opus, "Bidayat al-Mudtahid wa-Nihayat al-Muqtasid" for their authoritative treatments of jihad.

[50] "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," 1991. ISNA also appeared on the U.S. Department of Justice list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007-2008 Holy Land Foundation HAMAS terror funding trial.

[51] Safi, Louay M, "Peace and the Limits of War." International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, VA.

[52] See "Slander (Ghiba)" in Section r2.0 of the ‘Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (pg. 730). For a thorough discussion of Slander and Blasphemy in Islamic law, see also the Center for Security Policy study, "Shariah: The Threat to America," September 22, 2010. Available online at http://www.amazon.com/Shariah-America-Exercise-Competitive-Analysis/dp/098229476X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1297556949&sr=1-1

[53] Organization of the Islamic Conference: http://www.oicun.org/9/20100727101615770.html

[54] "Islamophobia can create radicalization," James Zogby, March 7, 2011, The Nation, http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/07-Mar-2011/Islamophobia-can-create-radicalisation/1 accessed March 8, 2011.

Original URL: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/p18663.xml

Clare M. Lopez, Christine Brim, Roland Peer

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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