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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Charlie Hebdo puts Mohammed Cartoon on cover

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Charlie Hebdo magazine will include cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed

This week’s issue of Charlie Hebdo will contain cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and the front cover will be unveiled tonight, the magazine’s lawyer confirmed today. Read the rest of this entry »


In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Attacks against U.S. Muslims spike during Ramadan

By Yasmin Amer and Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – To mark the end of Islam’s holiest month, Iftikhar Ali will head not to a mosque but to a convention center guarded by law enforcement officers.

That’s because this month, during Ramadan, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned to the ground. Its rubble smoldered for two days as a shocked Muslim community came to terms with what had happened.


“I think there are a few people who don’t like anybody,” Ali said. “They don’t like a different color than their color or different religions.”

Ali, who is the president of the Joplin mosque said the congregation rented a convention center so people would have a place to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of fasting for Ramadan.

Authorities are still investigating the mosque burning but suspect the fire was intentional. In July, a surveillance camera caught a man throwing an incendiary device onto the building that damaged part of the roof.

Ahead of Eid, Ali said he contacted the police and sheriff’s department. They are sending extra officers Sunday.

It’s that way across America, after a spate of violence at Islamic centers in recent weeks that included a homemade bomb and pigs parts.

At least seven mosques and one cemetery were attacked in the U.S. during Ramadan, according to groups that track such incidents.

“This is unprecedented in its scale and scope,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the civil rights and advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He said Muslims have not been under attack like this since the backlash after the September 11 attacks and the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing when it was assumed the work of Islamic extremists.

Just Thursday, Ahmed Rehab, the head of the council in Chicago, received a call from a young man visiting his father’s grave at Evergreen Cemetery. Someone had desecrated several Muslim graves.

The Prophet Mohammed’s name was taken in vain and, a black marker scrawl on a tombstone screamed: “raghead,” a derogatory term for Muslims that stems from head coverings such as  turbans and kaffiyas.

A few days earlier, police arrested 51-year-old David Conrad and accused him of firing a pellet gun at a mosque filled with 500 people in Morton Grove, southern Chicago suburb.

No one was injured but worshipers said one of the bullets flew only inches above a security guard’s head, according to CNN affiliate station WGN.

Conrad is a neighbor and had previously spoken out against the expansion of the mosque. He was charged with four felonies.

In a third Chicago-area incident, worshipers at an Islamic school in Lombard heard a loud noise outside of the building during night prayers.

They then found a 2-liter soda bottle filled with acid. Police identified it as a homemade bomb.

No was injured in that incident, either, but on the heels of the carnage at the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, and the burning of the Joplin mosque, Muslims in the United States were fearful.

The temple shooter died and his motives may never be known. But he was linked to white supremacist groups and Hooper said many people felt the Sikhs were mistaken for Muslims because of their turbans and beards.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a new mosque opened earlier this month after more than two years of community protests, legal hurdles and vandalism. The board of directors planned for extra security.

When worshipers bow their heads in prayer Sunday, someone else will be scanning the room.

“Yes, we are very concerned because we have been the subject of vandalism, arson, bomb threats, intimidation, bullying,” said Saleh Sbenaty, a board member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

“You call it,” he said. “Every single act of intimidation, you know, was actually inflicted upon us.”

Hooper, the spokesman for the Islamic Council, said Muslims in the United States have been asked to exercise caution. The council released a tip sheet on security: know your emergency responders, post observers, report threats, install surveillance cameras.

Hooper said anti-Muslim rhetoric has been building for years, especially from groups formed specifically to fight against Islam in the United States.

“Anti-Muslim hate groups are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States, most of them appearing in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.

“Earlier anti-Muslim groups tended to be religious in orientation and disputed Islam’s status as a respectable religion,” the center said.

Hooper, for one, believes there’s an “Islamophobia machine working out there.”

“Eventually and inevitably, it’s going to have an impact on the tiny minority of people willing to carry out acts of violence,” he said.

Rehab of CAIR’s Chicago office also blamed the spike in incidents on government officials who he said were involved in fear-mongering.

He cited statements made by Republican congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois, who warned Americans that “there is a radical strain of Islam in this country” and that radicals are “trying to kill Americans every week.”

Justin Roth, Walsh’s chief of staff, said that the lawmaker’s comments were taken out of context and that Walsh is troubled by attacks on any people based on their religion.

Nevertheless, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee blamed Walsh for the homemade bomb incident.

“It is not a coincidence that after the remarks by Rep. Walsh were made that there was a homemade bomb directed at an Islamic school …” the committee said. “The facts are clear – By proclaiming to the public that ‘Muslims are trying to kill Americans every week,’ Walsh raised suspicion of the American Muslim community and incited fear.”

There were other troubling incidents this month:

– In Hayward, California, police arrested two teens and charged them with committing a hate crime after worshipers said the boys threw lemons at them during prayer.

– In Ontario, California, pig legs were left on the property of an Islamic Center. Police still do not have information on who was responsible for the act, which was particularly offensive during Ramadan because practicing Muslims consider pigs unclean.

– In North Smithfield, Rhode Island, a surveillance camera outside the Masjid Al-Islam mosque showed a suspect breaking the building’s sign and two vehicles later fleeing the property.

– In Oklahoma City, vandals defaced the Grand Mosque with paintball guns. Those inside feared the shots came from a real gun.

In Joplin, the torched mosque’s 90 congregants invited 300 other people to join them Sunday for Eid.

“I still feel secure,” said Ali, the mosque president, though he knows a pall has been cast by all the attacks.

He said the attacks on his community are instigated by a few ignorant people. He came to these shores from Pakistan 23 years ago and still believes in the principles of this nation.

“This is un-American,” he said of the mosque fire. “I’m not afraid of any neighbors. I feel more secure here in America than anywhere else in the world.”

He said all Muslims have a right to practice their faith without fear.

On this Eid, that may not happen in some houses of worship in the United States.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story quoted a statement from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee that incorrectly said the site of an apparent anti-Muslim incident is in the political district of U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Illinois. The school where the incident occurred currently is in a district adjacent to Walsh’s.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Danish paper rejected to publish Jesus cartoons

Monday 6 February 2006 08.38 GMT
Old News,Published to show double standard 

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.

The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.

In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten.

Zieler received an email back from the paper’s Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: “I don’t think Jyllands-Posten’s readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.”

The illustrator said: “I see the cartoons as an innocent joke, of the type that my Christian grandfather would enjoy.”

“I showed them to a few pastors and they thought they were funny.”

But the Jyllands-Posten editor in question, Mr Kaiser, said that the case was “ridiculous to bring forward now. It has nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons.

“In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That’s the difference,” he said.

“The illustrator thought his cartoons were funny. I did not think so. It would offend some readers, not much but some.”

The decision smacks of “double-standards”, said Ahmed Akkari, spokesman for the Danish-based European Committee for Prophet Honouring, the umbrella group that represents 27 Muslim organisations that are campaigning for a full apology from Jyllands-Posten.

“How can Jyllands-Posten distinguish the two cases? Surely they must understand,” Mr Akkari added.

Meanwhile, the editor of a Malaysian newspaper resigned over the weekend after printing one of the Muhammad cartoons that have unleashed a storm of protest across the Islamic world.

Malaysia’s Sunday Tribune, based in the remote state of Sarawak, on Borneo island, ran one of the Danish cartoons on Saturday. It is unclear which one of the 12 drawings was reprinted.

Printed on page 12 of the paper, the cartoon illustrated an article about the lack of impact of the controversy in Malaysia, a country with a majority Muslim population.

The newspaper apologised and expressed “profound regret over the unauthorised publication”, in a front page statement on Sunday.

“Our internal inquiry revealed that the editor on duty, who was responsible for the same publication, had done it all alone by himself without authority in compliance with the prescribed procedures as required for such news,” the statement said.

The editor, who has not been named, regretted his mistake, apologized and tendered his resignation, according to the statement.

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

An Open Letter to All Non-Muslims Regarding the Anti-Islam Film and Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

It is a centuries-old Islamic tradition to engage in debate, tolerate criticism and hear the critiques of others. But insults against Islam, such as those in the recent film and cartoons, are unacceptable provocations that cross a red line that no Muslim or decent human being would ever accept. As such we condemn them in the strongest possible terms, as we do any such insults against Islam and the symbols of our religion; especially those against the greatest man ever, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

We do not condone the recent violence that has broken out in response, but the blood-stained track record of Western foreign policy and hypocrisy regarding free speech means that all right to take the moral high ground has been forfeited when arguing that violence is an unacceptable response to this provocation, or when arguing that freedom of speech is sacred.

We believe it is our duty as Muslims to counter the politically motivated propaganda, in particular about the man who has been slandered more than any other in history – the Prophet, peace be upon him – but also to be frank in pointing out injustice and hypocrisy where we see it.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney argued that the protests across the World against US embassies were nothing to do with US foreign policy. Does the White House really think that such protests can be de-contextualised from the backdrop of wars waged against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; the illegal imprisonment and torture of Muslims at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and numerous other facilities; the use of rendition and torture in collaboration with the regimes of Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad and others; the continued killing of innocent men, women and children through Predator drones, most notably in Yemen & Pakistan? Only recently eight innocent women and children were killed by a NATO airstrike in Afghanistan, and in early September long-term Guantanamo detainee Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif died having been held without charge and subjected to torture for 10 years, despite being cleared for release in 2006.

It is disturbing that such news fails to shock anymore. However it is for these very reasons and many others that we see a persistent resentment to Western interference in Muslim countries, and so reaction to perceived insults will inevitably be strong.

At the same time many Western politicians and media commentators have stated that upholding “freedom”, including the right to offend others, is a fundamental principle of liberal societies.

Yet such principles seem remarkably easy to set aside when it comes to the treatment of Muslims – women and girls in France are still unable to wear hijab (Islamic headscarf) in schools and universities, or niqab (face veil) in public places, and we have seen Muslims prosecuted (even jailed) in Western countries for simply expressing their views. In the United States Tarek Mehenna was jailed for 17 years, ostensibly for translating a readily available e-book that had been widely quoted in the media. America seeks the extradition of Babar Ahmed and Talha Ahsan for running a website that was legal in the UK, which updated news about the Chechen crisis. And recently a 20-year-old man in the UK was found guilty for posting an offensive message on Facebook regarding British soldiers in Afghanistan.

France claims freedom of expression is a ‘fundamental principle’ of the republic. And yet Charlie Hebdo, the magazine printing the offensive cartoons while claiming to be a bastion of free speech – previously lambasted their own cartoonist Maurice Sinet for writing a biting article about Nicholas Sarkozy’s son which appeared to denigrate him for marrying a Jewish heiress for money. Sinet was subsequently sacked by his employers for refusing to apologies – their ‘fundamental principle’ set aside to appease domestic political sensitivities. Similarly, when the French Prime Minister stated that these cartoons are “expressed within the confines of the law and under the control of the courts”, he ought to have been reminded that the French senate passed a bill earlier this year outlawing denial of any genocide recognized by French law; a clear indication of the willingness to restrict expression under the law and through the courts for political reasons.

Let us be frank – this is not an argument about “freedom of speech”. Like all other mooted “freedoms”, it simply does not and cannot exist as an absolute, despite all the rhetoric.

All countries have red line issues that limit speech depending on context, leading to variation in law – such as the criminalisation of holocaust denial in Germany for historical reasons, despite it remaining legal elsewhere. Every society has criminalised speech according to their belief and value system. In secular Western society, religion is largely unvalued so blasphemy is permitted. Whereas in Islamic society religion is the core value and so blasphemy becomes a red line issue, including insulting any of the Prophets of God, starting from the Prophet Adam, to Prophets Moses and Jesus to the Prophet Mohammad.

The cost to societal harmony from the ‘freedom to insult’ is rarely discussed. Western Europe’s moral and legal tradition stems from its Christian heritage, which has become routinely mocked and derided. This freedom to mock and deride, which we appreciate was born out of Europe’s particular dilemma of Church authority, opened the door to the growing disrespect and anti-social behaviour in society – where rudeness is celebrated as a sign of assertiveness, courtesy undervalued as weakness, and all too many people do not respect each other or the law.

There are some who will look beyond the superficial images and clichéd analysis, sincerely wondering why people are so upset, asking why millions of Muslims in the UK and Europe seem not to have adopted the secular values they are surrounded by. They will inquire as to why Muslims have persisted on adhering to Islamic values despite relentless criticism and abuse – and are joined every day by others who are newly convinced of Islam. As the systemic decline in capitalism becomes increasingly obvious, people across the world are searching for new answers; many will find them in Islam.

A process of change in the Muslim world has been accelerated by the Arab spring, where a debate about the future of the region is growing. At present the emerging governments are weak, provide a fig-leaf for the old military authorities and insist on perpetuating a flawed secular, capitalist, nation-state model that is an aberration in terms of the history and values of the Muslim world.

As people ask “Is this, the freedom to insult Prophets, what ‘freedom and democracy’ really means?” the call for an Islamic model of government (the Islamic Caliphate) continues to grow in the region – one that is true to the principles of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his successors, which protects the security, property, honour and beliefs of all its citizens, regardless of creed, colour or gender. A state which obliges accounting political authority and intellectual inquiry, but prohibits making money from gossip and slander; which encourages trade yet circulates wealth; which allows private enterprise but shares the states natural resources with all; and which finally breaks the colonial grip on the Muslim world so that it can present a true message of Islam.

Indeed, if a government in the Muslim world had taken a robust stand on the international stage using all diplomatic means at its disposal in order to arrest the on-going insults to the Prophet, peace be upon him, we would not now be seeing tens of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets due to the lack of a political leadership at a state level that reflects their deeply held beliefs.

Surely there is too much that needs to be understood, which requires a mature debate and intellectual discussion rather than insults and lies and we would invite others to engage with us in that discussion.

Regards

Dr Reza Pankhurst – Reza.Pankhurst@hizb.org.uk
Dr Abdul Wahid – Abdul.Wahid@hizb.org.uk
Taji Mustafa – t.mustafa@hizb.org.uk

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In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

US Muslims walk tightrope, denouncing both violence

American Muslims, sometimes accused of failing to speak out against violence carried out in the name of their religion, have forcefully condemned both the amateurish anti-Islam film that triggered recent riots and protest in the Middle East, Asia and north Africa and the violence that
it engendered.

American Muslim Reaction "No to Violence - No To abusive Movie"

American Muslim Reaction “No to Violence – No To abusive Movie”

The American Muslim community has been very forceful and consistent in its rejection of a violent response to this intentionally provocative material,

said Ibrahim Hooper, director of Communications for the Council on American Islamic Relations, a nonprofit Muslim civil rights and advocacy group.

The low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims,” apparently made by an obscure producer in Los Angeles and circulated on YouTube, infuriated many Muslims with its cartoonish portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. The imagery sparked Muslim protests and violence targeting U.S. diplomatic missions, including a deadly assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four
Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

In a flurry of statements, press briefings, vigils, media interviews and interfaith events, groups representing American Muslims were quick to condemn the violence, host vigils for the victims and send condolences to the families of the Benghazi victims. But they also condemned the film,which  seems deliberately designed to anger Muslims.

In getting the initial response out, there was an opportunity to make two points, said Hooper.

“People here understand that America and Americans shouldn’t be blamed for the actions of a few individuals who produced this hate film,” said Hooper.

“They should also understand that all Muslims shouldn’t be blamed for the acts of a few individuals that carried out these attacks as well.”

The Muslim and Arab American leaders also sought to speak to an overseas audience.

Over the weekend, CAIR released an Arabic-language video appeal aimed at protesters, beseeching them not to blame ordinary Americans and the U.S. government for the film, which was “designed to provoke religious sensitivities and to distract from the positive efforts being undertaken to
improve newly-free societies in the wake of the Arab Spring.”

Quoting from the Quran, the speaker, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called on protesters “to emulate Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, who did not retaliate in kind to personal abuse.

On Tuesday, the organization released a similar video narrated by Imam Agdu Semih Tadese in Yoruba, a language spoken by millions in Nigeria and elsewhere in West Africa.

“It is clear that the motive behind the film is to enrage Muslims and to display a hatred of Islam,” according to subtitles on the video. 

“However, Muslims need to demonstrate good behavior as our Prophet (peace be upon him) dealt harmoniously with people. I hereby appeal to our scholars to calm down the youth and encourage people to cultivate exemplary behavior as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) teaches.”

Lesson in freedom of speech

These messages and others also attempt to explain freedom of speech to non-Americans.

“We play a significant role in translating for our fellow Arabs and Muslims in the region to let them know what the First Amendment rights are,” said Abed Ayoub, legal director for the Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee, a 32-year-old civil rights organization.

Since the start of protests, Ayoub says ADC has spoken to dozens of Arab journalists in countries where freedom of speech is still an alien concept.

The challenge, he said, is to dispel their belief that this film, or any other form of expression, has the U.S. government’s stamp of approval.

“These individuals have been living under dictatorships for decades. Some of them just don’t get it,” said Ayoub.

On the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Monday, Muslim leaders teamed up with elders from the Coptic Christian church to try to reclaim the stage from the presumptive filmmaker — an Egypt-born Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula — and hot headed Islamist inciting violence. 

The stakes are particularly high in Egypt, where the Copts say they have suffered a recent surge in discrimination and attacks by extremist Muslims.

The C opts form a branch of Christians who are believed to have settled in Egypt shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. Moderates in both religions say they want to return to the relative peace between Coptic and Muslim, populations that have coexisted for centuries.

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