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

Muslims ‘Give Most To Charity’,

Ahead Of Christians, Jews And Atheists, Poll Finds

Muslims give more to charity than other religious groups, new research suggests.At almost £371 each, Muslims topped the poll of religious groups that give to charity. When they donated last year, atheists averaged £116, The Times reported (£). Read the rest of this entry »


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

Attacks on Muslim American Houses of Worship on the Rise

The days during and immediately following Ramadan this year—which began July 20 and ended at sundown on August 18—saw one of the worst spikes in anti-Muslim incidents in more than a decade. The incidents were widespread and frequently violent, and although some of the perpetrators have been apprehended and charged, most have not been caught. Many cases are still under investigation.

Religious freedom is one of our most sacred principles, and it includes the right to worship freely and according to one’s conscience. Yet since the September 11 terrorist attacks more than 11 years ago, Muslim Americans and their houses of worship have been subject to threats, vandalism, violence, and even arson. The most recent rise in violent targeted crimes against Muslim Americans represents a threat to all Americans and violates core principles on which our nation was founded: religious freedom and tolerance.

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

Paris: police arrest four Muslim women

The scene, which was filmed by journalists from Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper covering both international and national news, took place at the Trocadéro, a square that stands across the river from the Eiffel Tower. The four women, including one wearing a headscarf, were checked for IDs before being escorted out of the square by dozens of police officers.

In the video one of the women says: “One of us is wearing a headscarf and policemen have just checked our IDs, there is no problem, but we have been asked to leave the square.”

“We were doing some sightseeing as our uncle is visiting us, and this is what happens,” another one adds. “Now we are forced to follow them so we can be interrogated,” she continues as the four women are being shoved by policemen.

At the end of the video, another woman, accompanied with an elderly woman wearing a scarf, says they were also banned from entering the square.

On Saturday dozens of police personnel were deployed in the area as a precautionary measure ahead of an anti-Islam film protest banned by the French authorities. Overall 50 people were arrested that day, including the four women in the video.

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

Producer behind incendiary anti-Islamic film may get sent to prison

WASHINGTON — U.S. federal probation officials are investigating the activities of a southern California filmmaker convicted of financial crimes who has been linked to an anti-Islamic movie inflaming protests across the Middle East, a spokesman for the U.S. federal court system said Friday.

Before that, according to Wired.com’s Danger Room blog, he was arrested on charged of making PCP.

The probation department in California’s central district is reviewing the case of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who was previously convicted on bank fraud charges and was banned from using computers or the Internet as part of his sentence. The review is aimed at learning whether Nakoula violated the terms of his five-year probation.

Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the administrative office of the U.S. courts, confirmed Friday the review is under way. If the probation department determines Nakoula violated terms of his release, a judge could send him back to prison.

Federal authorities have identified Nakoula, a self-described Coptic Christian, as the key figure behind “Innocence of Muslims,” a film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Middle East. A federal law enforcement official told the Associated Press on Thursday that authorities had connected Nakoula to a man using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile who claimed earlier to be writer and director of the film.

As for the drug charges, Wired said that the charges were made, and then dropped.

“Court records reviewed by Danger Room show that Nakoula and a co-defendant were brought before the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse in Downey, California on April 15, 1997,” reported Wired.com. “They were charged with possessing the narcotic’s chemical precursors with ‘the intent to manufacture phencyclidine,’ otherwise known as angel dust or PCP.”

The charges were then dropped for reasons unknown five years later.

The Daily Beast reported that Nakoula and a partner were arrested for trying to mass produce meth.

Violent protests set off by the film in Libya played a role in mob attacks in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American officials. U.S. Embassy gates in Cairo were breached by protesters and demonstrations against American missions spread to Yemen on Thursday and on Friday to several other countries.

Nakoula pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.

It could be difficult to establish a probation violation case against Nakoula. In the federal court system, the conditions of supervised release are geared toward the offence for which a defendant was found guilty and imprisoned.

In Nakoula’s case, the offence was bank fraud. His no contest plea was to charges of setting up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers, depositing checks from those into accounts into other phoney accounts and then withdrawing the illicit funds from ATM machines.

While it was unclear from Redmond’s statement which aspects of Nakoula’s probation might have provoked authorities’ interest, the filmmaker’s use of a false identity and his access to the Internet through computers could be at issue, according to experts in cyber law and the federal probation system. Nakoula, who told The Associated Press that he was a manager for the film, was also under financial restrictions including requirements to provide authorities with records of all his bank and business accounts.

The probation order authorized in June 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Christine A. Snyder warned Nakoula against using false identities. Nakoula was told not to “use, for any purpose or in any manner, any name other than his/her true legal name or names without the prior written approval of the Probation Officer.”

Federal prosecutors had charged that Nakoula used multiple false identities in creating his fraudulent accounts. Several, Nicola Bacily and Erwin Salameh, were similar to the Sam Bacile pseudonym used to set up the YouTube account for the anti-Islamic film. Other fraudulent identities, ranging from Ahmed Hamdy and Thomas J. Tanas to P.J. Tobacco, were also used by Nakoula to set up the phoney accounts, authorities charged.

Nakoula was also told by the judge that he could not have any access to the Internet “without the prior approval of the Probation officer.” Nakoula was ordered to detail any online devices and cellphones to authorities and was told his devices would be monitored and subject to searches.

Jennifer Granick, a criminal defence lawyer who specializes in online crimes, said that authorities might not have been aware of Nakoula’s online activity even if monitoring devices had been placed on computers that he used. “That may be very hard for a probation officer to catch ahead of time.”

Granick also noted that Nakoula’s conviction for financial crimes might provide a basis for probation officials to review bank and other monetary records. “Somebody charged with a financial crime might receive some supervision categories where they might re-offend,” she said.

Under “special conditions” attached to Nakoula’s probation, he was limited to one checking account and told that all of his financial records had to be disclosed to authorities if requested.

Nakoula was arrested in June 2009, pleaded no contest to the bank fraud charges a year later and was released from federal prison in June 2011 after serving a 21-month prison term, according to federal records.

There are indications that “Innocence of Muslims” may have already been under way as a film project when Nakoula was arrested in 2009. A casting call for actors and crew for a film called “Desert Warrior” ran in Backstage magazine, based in Los Angeles and New York, in May and June 2009. The casting call described the film project as a “historical Arabian Desert adventure” and listed a “Sam Bassiel” as producer.

During an interview with AP, Nakoula denied that he was Sam Bacile, but acknowledged knowing him. Nakoula also described himself as the film’s manager of logistics.

Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles Wednesday that he managed logistics for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad.

source

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