These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 13, 2011.
Saturday, 13 August 2011
London riots: Pamphlets handed out giving criminals advice on 'being calm'
This advice was also repeated on the Indymedia website - the one where members of the Socialist Workers Party and United Against Fascism post and meet to discuss and arrange demonstrations, particularly those against the EDL. This is from the Metro, which is the free London newspaprer distributed at Underground stations.
The pamphlet, entitled 'Don't Panic, Don't Talk', advises people what to do if they think they might be implicated in the weekend's troubles in Tottenham, or in other civil unrest this week.
The leaflet, which has been branded 'irresponsible' and 'crass' by commentators, is said to have been based on a similar publication distributed around the time of the UK Uncut protests in London.
It tells rioters not to panic, saying: 'The photos released are not necessarily evidence', adding that the police often use psychological pressure to persuade people to hand themselves in.
It also advises those involved in criminal acts to keep a low profile, get rid of the clothes they were wearing and perhaps adopt a disguise to avoid detection.
The Indymedia page is now hidden; this is the direct link to it. I am not the only person to have made a screenshot of it. The advice given is not the sensible civil rights advice which we all need about such things as your rights when arrested and police duties at the police station. This is how to cover up crime, a different kettle of fish entirely.
The scan of a fuller proportion of the flyer below is thanks to a comment on the EDL forum.
Posted on 08/13/2011 5:03 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Naser Jason Abdo: A recap
Naser Jason Abdo, who was indicted this week by a grand jury, has often graced the pages of NER with his exploits. Here is the wikipedia article summarizing his turbulent life ... thus far:
Abdo grew up in Garland, Texas and attended Richardson Terrace Elementary School, South Garland High School and Berkner High School. His parents divorced when he was 3 and he spent most of his childhood with his father, Jamal Rateb Abdo, a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship who was sentenced to five years in prison and then deported back to Jordan after being convicted of soliciting a minor.
Abdo joined the Army in March 2009 and had applied for conscientious objector status in June 2010 arguing that being a Muslim prevented him from serving in Afghanistan. His pending discharge was put on hold when the Army discovered the images of child pornography on his government-issued computer. At a June 15 hearing it was recommended that Abdo face court-martial. He had been AWOL since July 4 from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Two anti-war groups, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist, supported Abdo's conscientious objector bid. In a statement for Iraq Veterans Against the War, Abdo wrote, "Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future of religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American." Upon hearing of Abdo's arrest, Courage to Resist, who had contributed to Abdo's legal fees in the conscientious objector case said in a statement that it had removed Abdo's profile from its website.
On July 27, 2011, Abdo raised the suspicion of the staff of "Guns Galore" in Killeen Texas by buying an unusually large amount of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a pistol. A clerk notified the Killeen Police Department who, in turn, tracked Abdo to the America's Best Value Inn and Suites via the taxi that he had taken to make his purchase. Guns Galore was the same store that Nidal Hasan bought a pistol used in the Fort Hood shootings.
At the hotel room where Abdo was staying, three miles from Fort Hood's main gate, police found a handgun and the ingredients for an explosive device, including gunpowder, shrapnel and pressure cookers. Also present was an article entitled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom" from Inspire magazine, the English-language publication of Al Qaeda. According Daniel Pipes of The Washington Times the "materials in Pfc. Abdo’s possession corresponded precisely to the “ingredients” listed in the Inspire magazine article on bomb-making." Abdo had also purchased a uniform with Fort Hood patches from a military surplus store.
Abdo is the third Muslim soldier since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack to be charged with terror-related offenses. In addition to Nidal Malik Hasan's attack on Fort Hood, Sgt. Hasan Karim Akbar killed two officers and wounded 14 other soldiers of the 101st Airborne in in a grenade and shooting attack in Kuwait at the start of the Iraq war. According to ABC News, Abdo, like Nidal Hasan may have been inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric who is among the leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula based Yemen.
In a court hearing on July 29, 2011, Abdo was charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and has yet to enter a plea. He was ordered held without bond.
During the hearing Abdo shouted: "Nidal Hasan — Ft. Hood 2009" in reference to the Army major Nidal Malik Hasan who is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood. Hasan, like Abdo, opposed fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan because as against his Muslim beliefs. Abdo also invoked the name of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, a 14 year old girl who was raped and murdered by United States Army soldiers in Iraq.
According to court papers Abdo "admitted that he planned to assemble two bombs in the hotel room using gun powder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers" to explode at a restaurant popular with soldiers. A federal Judge, after hearing testimony from the FBI, stated that Abdo could be indicted on additional charges.
Posted on 08/13/2011 12:50 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Auntie does da'wa : the ABC's Brigid Andersen visits the mosque for the Ramadan feast
I have rarely seen a more fawning piece of puffery in my life. And - I have just looked - neither the ABC nor The Australian seem to have seen fit to tell us about some of those other things that have been happening during Ramadan 2011, inside dar al Islam. Nor have I seen any discussions of why Ramadan is sometimes called "the month of Jihad".
Just in case somebody from either news outlet should come googling by, here for their edification are the links for some dismally typical stories that are just chockfull of that special Ramadan spirit of self-righteous piety, bullying, and slavish conformity enforced by fear.
Here's one from last year. Two Algerian Christians were arrested on charges of ...breaking the Ramadan fast. They were cleared, but - they should not have been arrested in the first place.
'Two Algerian Christians "did not break Ramadan rules"'
And this year, from Aceh in oh-so-moderate Muslim Indonesia: people arrested for...eating in daytime
'Meulaboh, Aceh. Public Order Agency officers in West Aceh, Aceh, arrested three Muslims for failing to fast on Sunday. Jhon Aswir...said KN, ML and HD were arrested as they had lunch in a restaurant. "We had to arrest them because they do not respect other Muslims who are fasting", Jhon said."
and also from moderate Muslim Indonesia, in the province of Sulawesi, the trashing of a food stall that was wickedly offering food in daytime (whose proprietors were lucky not to be lynched).
"Dozens of members of the Islamic Defenders Front attacked and ransacked a food stall in Makassar, South Sulawesi, on Monday. The attack, sparked by the fact the food outlet was operating during Ramadan, forced a number of shop employees, who were mainly female, and customers out on to the street. The vigilante group, known as the FPI, took about an hour to destroy the shop before they departed to find other targets, Antara reported. No police offers were present...Antara did not say if the victims were Muslim or Christian". They may well have been Christian; Makassar is the regional capital of Sulawesi, which has a very large Christian minority. - CM
And an overview of the subject of the enforcement of Ramadan, in this article from 2009
which tells us that in the countries of the Arabian Gulf, "people caught breaking the Ramadan fast during the day can be arrested and sometimes put in jail for a month or fined around $350". It quoted a human rights activist who said that "observant Muslims will be irritated by seeing people eating on the street, outside eateries"...'Islam Online reported the esteemed Al-Azhar Institution [the big Islamic university in Cairo - CM] and the Egyptian Ministry of Islamic Trust both support punishing people who break the fast in public and asked that a law be passed to this effect."
Did Brigid Andersen do any research at all into that sort of thing, before she waltzed off to the mosque to watch the Muslims engage in their nightly feast? Before she sat down to write her glowing piece that tells us breathlessly that Muslims are such nice people, so bravely going without food all day long (such self-control! such terrible suffering!) so that the moment the sun disappears they can stuff themselves with a sumptuous feast of yummy food in family togetherness after the sun goes down. Who smilingly assure our dear naive Ms Andersen that all they want is 'happiness'.
Before I present to you the highlights of Ms Andersen's nauseatingly saccharine piece, I shall provide the link for an article that Ms Andersen should have read, and re-read, before ever she set foot in that mosque.
And now for Ms Andersen and all those lovely Muslims and all that lovely food.
'Fast and feast for Ramadan in Australia'.
'It is Friday afternoon at Darra, in Brisbane's south-west, and the car park at the local mosque is already full.
'Veiled women (were any of them wearing burqa or niqab, I wonder? - CM) throw schoolbags over their shoulders as they hurry inside, herding excited young children as they go.
'There is plenty of chatter as they sit at long trestle tables which fill a room in the two-storey brick building. Open doors lead through a kitchen and outside to a paved undercover area where the men sit at more tables.
And does Ms Andersen ask herself whether, at a Jewish Passover meal, or at a Christian community get-together, the women and children would all sit in one room, and all the males over puberty in another? - CM
'The sun sets and they break the fast. Small cakes and bhajee - balls of fried dahl - are shared around and soon the call to prayer sounds over the PA system.
I advise you, Ms Andersen, to read up on the content of that call to prayer...and why it is heard with absolute dread by, for example, Coptic Christian families in Egypt, and Christian and Hindu families in Pakistan. - CM
'It is the first Friday of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims (not fasting, exactly; rather, a month of reversal of the normal body clock, eating and drinking by night and not doing so during the day. - CM) and one of the most important events on the Islamic calendar.
'Every Muslim in the world, except the sick, young children and some pregnant women, will go without food and drink during the day for a month.
'Every Muslim in the world'. Really? Ah, what devotion! What solidarity! But the links and the stories I quoted above, give us a glimpse of some of the rather ugly methods by which that worldwide conformity is achieved. Does Ms Andersen know, I wonder, about the apostasy law of Islam? Probably not. - CM
'The tradition goes back through the ages (no, actually, it is much more recent, Islam being only 1400 years old, than either the Christian Lenten fast and the feast of Easter, or the Jewish Passover (some 3000 years and counting), or the ancient Hindu festival of Diwali, none of which has ever been accorded a front-page article of breathless appreciatiion on the ABC's online news page - CM) and in Darra it is one that stretches 100 years. (100 years? I don't think there has been a mosque in Darra in Brisbane for 100 years - CM).
'More than 100 people are at the mosque to eat and pray together, and there is a mood of celebration - most of the congregation are family or close friends.
What's so unusual and special about that? You'd find the same thing at a Jewish communal get-together, or at a community 'do' at a Catholic church in a large country town. - CM
'As she joins the line for dinner, a young girl says she is fasting for the first time this year. She proudly nods as her mother and other relatives explain she is only seven, and normally children do not fast until they are 10.
Ten, eh? Let us remember that ten-year-old girls (indeed, nine-year-olds) in Iran, and in many other parts of dar al Islam, are considered adult for other purposes - such as marriage, and the marriage bed. Does Ms Andersen know about what happened to Aisha when she turned nine? Does she care? - CM
'Zafirah Nusair, a young woman at the mosque, explains many of the congregation are Fijian Muslims.
That is, Muslims of Indian ancestry, who first migrated to Fiji during the time of the British Raj and then left Fiji about twenty years ago, due to the native Melanesians at that time feeling threatened by, and attacking, their Muslim and Hindu Indian immigrant minority. Many Fijian Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, then moved to Australia -..CM
'She says her forefathers formed their own traditions around Iftar, the breaking of the fast in the evening for Ramadan.
"It's been going on since our great, great-grandfather's time", she said. "His tradition was to cook a big feast...and I guess it's a nice opportunity, as children I guess that's how you teach them, by bringing them to the mosque and showing them the good things".
'The meal is a Fijian-Indian dish - a rich curry with beef and potatoes served with rice, salad, chutney and yoghurt.
'Everyone has helped with the preparation - the men make the curry, the women look after the salads, then bowls of fruit and ice-cream are dished out.
Ah, it's just like the Sunday School picnic, just like the Christmas dinner. Nothing to fear. The nice Muslims are just people who want to party, just like us. - CM
'Ms Nusair says sharing the evening feast at the mosque helps young people find meaning and purpose in their religion.
And will Ms Andersen be invited, on another occasion, to watch the festive slitting of the throats of the lambs and baby goats at Eid-al-Adhan? Or perhaps she'd like to go online and see what happens to Shiite Muslim children in Iraq, and Iran, during the Ashura commemoration? - CM
"We live in Australia and Australia's very multicultural. I guess for us living in a multicultural society, our fathers and forefathers they started this tradition of having food at the mosque so we'd understand, because going to a school with so many different culture it's hard to connect who you are", she said.
But in any case, there's that Apostasy Law for backup, just in case a nice meal at the mosque isn't enough to keep young Muslims - having been exposed to those tempting unislamic Aussie ways - inside the Ummah. - CM
"I guess it's not really a religious thing as it is a cultural thing."
That's what they also say about 'honor' killings...- CM
'Ramadan at the Darra Mosque is a tradition that spans decades but mystery still surrounds some Islamic practices in the broader Australian community.
'Abdul Jalal, the president of the Islamic society of Darra, admits there are many misconceptions about Islam.
Ah yes, those pesky misconceptions that so many Aussies formed after September 11, and London, and Bali, and Beslan, and Mumbai, and assorted jihad plots hatched on Aussie soil but fortunately foiled; misconceptions such as Cardinal Archbishop George Pell formed when he sat down to have a quiet read of the Koran and began marking all the passages that incited hostility toward the non-Muslims, and gave up, after a while, because there were so many...- CM
"What the holy Koran says, so does the Bible (that's a barefaced lie and you know it, Mr Jalal; don't try to pull the wool over my eyes; I've read both books and I know they do not teach the same thing at all, about God or about humans or about morality - CM) and so does the other heavenly books (what other heavenly books? Islam only accords 'respect' to what it believes or claims - with not a shred of historic evidence to support that claim - to have been the original uncorrupted - i.e. identical with Islamic texts - Jewish and Christian scriptures, and even less respect to the writings of Zoroaster - insofar as these or the Jewish and Christian scriptures as used by their own religious communities differ from the Islamic texts, they receive no respect whatsoever - CM) - fasting was a part and parcel of the nations before us so it's nothing new", he said.
Well, as far as fasting goes, doing a perish all day only to then guts yourself all night for some thirty days is not in fact a behaviour pattern that either Jews or Christians would recognise as a 'fast'...I can't say what other religious traditions, such as the Hindu or the Buddhist, do but I have a funny sort of feeling that if they do fast, they don't do it that way. And it hasn't been the Ramadan fast that has been the most remarkable thing about Islam, for millions of human beings who have had Islam forcibly, violently and terrifyingly brought to their attention. The Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus put it this way: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". And we know how the Muslim world responded when the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI quoted that passage in a speech at Regensburg in Germany...- CM
'But with Islam, everything was put in a nutshell. He's claiming that Islam has the last word on religious practice, such as fasting, along with everything else. This claim is absolute nonsense. Anyone familiar with the meaning and practice of the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur, or with the way in which serious Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and some devout High Anglicans observe the forty-day period of self-denial before Easter, and familiar with those texts of the New Testament that discuss fasting, knows that everything about Ramadan is radically different from what it is that Christians - and Jews - do and intend when they fast. - CM
'Mr Jalal says Muslims have a responsibility to educate others about their religion.
Fine, Mr Jalal. Then I'm sure you'll be happy to explain to me the Bukhari Hadith about killing Jews. Explain to me why it is that it is perfectly halal to wed and bed a nine-year-old girl. Explain to me the wife-beating verse in the Koran. Explain to me the Hadiths that authorise the killing of anyone who apostasises from Islam, and the story of Asma bint Marwan (and a number of other unfortunate critics of Mohammed) that justify the assassination of people like Theo Van Gogh. And explain to me about Surah 9:29, and the dhimma, and what the jizya is, and how I am not supposed to have a cross or bells on my church, if Muslims gain power in my country. - CM
"If I keep Islam to myself, it is not your fault it is my fault because I have not taken Islam to you to make you understand what Islam really is", he said.
I observe he doesn't tell Ms Andersen what happens next: if I oh-so-unaccountably and obstinately refuse the dawa, the 'invitation' to join the Ummah, when it is made to me. Because once I have heard, and refused it, then the Jihad is licit against me, until I surrender and pay the jizya in hopes of being permitted to live as a despised semi-slave...or until I am killed. - CM
"The negative attitude that we see here is partly our responsibility".
Yes, but not the way you think. That 'negative attitude' toward Islam that you see gaining ground among Australians is the responsibility of all those Muslims who have been heard screeching 'Kill the Jews!' in demonstrations on Australian soil. It is the responsibility of all those Muslims who could barely suppress their glee after September 11th. It is the responsibility of the bullying Muslim thugs (and women in hijab, too) who hiss at Aussie girls in unislamic clothing when they dare to walk down the street in Islamified suburbs...and the leering Muslim thugs who hiss at Aussie girls in bikinis on the beaches at Cronulla, or on the Gold Coast, and order them to 'cover up!' And it is the responsibility of all those howling Muslim mobs that some Aussies, at least, have found out about: the mobs that beat up Hindus in Bangladesh and that burn churches and kill Christians in Egypt, or Indonesia. - CM
'The Imaam at Darra, Ikraam Buksh, agrees. He says Islam, especially at the time of Ramadan, is about finding happiness".
Define what you mean by 'happiness', mate. Does it get a mention in the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam? The same declaration that conspicuously fails to recognise freedom of conscience? - CM
"Basically, in a nutshell, every single one of us are finding happiness", he said. "Many times we don't find that happiness. We always want that which we don't have".
Yeah: like the wives, and children, and goods, of the non-Muslims, that in many a traditional Muslim prayer 'allah' is entreated to hand over as 'booty' to the Muslims? - CM
"So that's what Ramadan is all about. It's not about wanting something that you don't have, but finding happiness with what God has already given".
Until, of course, such time as, by the use of all the instruments of Jihad, there's piles of seized-from-the-Infidel booty - both human and inanimate - to be divided among the Ummah as per the Koranic instructions...CM
'Ramadan will finish at the end of August".
The end of August cannot come quickly enough.
Now, to get the taste of all that second-hand da'wa and taqiyya out of our mouths, I will finish off by linking a most entertaining article by our own Esmerelda Weatherwax, "The Church Cat is a Practical Cat", which shows us what happens when Muslims like those da'wa artists Abdul Jalal and Imaam Buksh run up against a well-informed non-Muslim or two.
Posted on 08/13/2011 12:20 AM by Christina McIntosh
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Iraq's Shi'a Government Backs Syria, Iraq's Sunnis Don't, And Fissure Widens
From The New York Times:
Iraqi Leader Backs Syria, With a Nudge From Iran
BAGHDAD — As leaders in the Arab world and other countries condemn President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on demonstrators in Syria, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq has struck a far friendlier tone, urging the protesters not to “sabotage” the state and hosting an official Syrian delegation.
Mr. Maliki’s support for Mr. Assad has illustrated how much Iraq’s position in the Middle East has shifted toward an axis led by Iran. And it has also aggravated the fault line between Iraq’s Shiite majority, whose leaders have accepted Mr. Assad’s account that Al Qaeda is behind the uprising, and the Sunni minority, whose leaders have condemned the Syrian crackdown.
“The unrest in Syria has exacerbated the old sectarian divides in Iraq because the Shiite leaders have grown close to Assad and the Sunnis identify with the [Sunni]people,” said Joost Hiltermann, the International Crisis Group’s deputy program director for the Middle East.
He added: “Maliki is very reliant on Iran for his power and Iran is backing Syria all the way. The Iranians and the Syrians were all critical to bringing him to power a year ago and keeping him in power so he finds himself in a difficult position.”
Iraq and Syria have not had close relations for years, long before the American invasion. During the sectarian violence here that broke out after the invasion, Iraqi leaders blamed Syria for allowing suicide bombers and other militants to enter the country.
But Syria and Iran have had close ties, a factor in the recalibration of relations between Syria and Iraq. Last year, Iran pressured Mr. Assad into supporting Mr. Maliki for prime minister, which eventually helped him gain a second term. Since then, Mr. Maliki and Mr. Assad have strengthened relations, signing trade deals and increasing Syrian investment in Iraq.
But the speaker of Parliament, Osama al-Najafi, a Sunni, said this week that the Assad government was suppressing the freedoms of the Syrian people and that it was unacceptable for it to use violence to halt protests.
“For the sake of the Syrian people we demand the government, out of its responsibility to safeguard the lives of its people and their property, take the bold and courageous steps to stop the bleeding,” Mr. Najafi said.
For months, Mr. Assad has faced a protest movement that has spread through much of the country. His response has been to use the police and the military against the protesters, killing about 2,000 people so far, activists say. Thousands more have been arrested. At first, Arab leaders were largely silent, concerned that the collapse of the government would add another layer of chaos to a region reeling from uprisings. But recently some have begun to speak out, condemning the killings.
Syria’s allies in Turkey have also called for an end to the bloodshed, as have leaders in Western capitals.
But Mr. Maliki last month hosted a delegation of Syrian government officials and businessmen to discuss closer economic ties, including the construction of a gas pipeline that would run from Iran through Iraq to Syria. A month earlier, Syria’s foreign minister visited Baghdad.
In a television interview this week, Mr. Maliki said that the protesters should use the democratic process, not riots, to voice their displeasure, though Syria does not allow competitive, free elections.
He put most of the blame on the protesters and said little about the government’s ending the bloodshed. This contrasted with a position his alliance took against the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain when it stifled a pro-democracy movement among the Shiite majority there.
To protest the crackdown in Bahrain, members of Mr. Maliki’s alliance walked out of a session of Parliament, sent a ship with supplies to the protesters and called on the government to step down.
Before the Syrian uprising, Shiite and Sunni leaders in Iraq were beginning to work together again after months of paralysis that had undermined the functioning of the government. That cooperation has not yet been derailed, but the conflict over Syria threatens to strain relations.
Shaker Darraji, a member of Mr. Maliki’s State of Law bloc, said the Syrian protesters were members of Al Qaeda and that the Israelis and the Arab Persian Gulf states were behind the demonstrations. If the Assad government is overthrown, he said, it will be replaced by members of Al Qaeda, who will use Syria as a base to launch attacks in Iraq and the region.
The agenda of Israel and the Arab gulf states “is to use the sectarian differences between the Shiite ruling family in Syria and the Sunni majority” to their own advantage, Mr. Darraji said.
But Jaber al-Jabri, a member of the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc, objected to that assessment.
“What is happening in Syria is not because of a terrorist group, as some say, that is not accurate,” he said. “There are whole towns rising up to demonstrate against the regime. We call on the Syrian government to listen to the people’s demands and to stop violence against their people.”
Posted on 08/13/2011 6:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Jack Silverman is the editor of the Nashville Scene, an entertainment weekly and sister paper to The Village Voice. Like Bob Smietana of The Tennessean, Silverman is a perfectly nice man with a sense of humor. He just doesn't understand the issue of Islam and seems to think that striking a disdainful and mocking pose can act as substitute for a serious argument and that Muslims-for-identification-purposes-only are perfect representatives of the Islamic belief system and proof of its benign nature. This piece illustrates the poverty of his thought on this issue.
Dear Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Murfreesboro anti-mosque activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain: We've been pretty hard on you in these pages and on our blogs, chastising you for your blatant Islamophobia and laughing at your absurd contention that Sharia law could be imposed in the U.S. in a matter of years. But maybe we've been rash. Here you've been attempting to whip us into a frenzy, warning us that the Muslims are coming, and we've done nothing but mock you.
Is it really absurd to be concerned about Sharia? Do these people look like they're joking after having designated Sharia-controlled zones in the UK? Is it a joke to point out that there are 50 cases in 23 states where Sharia law is being considered in American courts today? Does Silverman really think that those critical of Islam are "attempting to whip us into a frenzy"? Come now.
And now, it turns out you're right. The Muslims really are coming to Middle Tennessee. And the latest weapon in their terrorist arsenal? Stand-up comedy.
On Sunday night, "The Muslims Are Coming" — a national tour of Muslim-American comedians — will unleash its satirical jihad at the Mercy Lounge. Stand-up comics Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad organized the tour in part to ply their trade, but more importantly, to counter the gross misperceptions about Muslims in America that permeate the media. To that end, they are focusing their efforts on the red states of the South, where anti-Muslim sentiments are highest.
Obeidallah and Farsad aren't naive about the difficulty of their undertaking. "Concerning the people on the far right, I could tell a million jokes to them and I'm not going to change their minds," says Obeidallah, who was featured in the 2007 Comedy Central special The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. "And the progressives are probably already supporting us. It's the ones in the middle we hope to reach." And because their tour is as much a goodwill mission as a comedy tour, the shows are free, in hopes of attracting the widest possible audience.
Asked how religious he is, Obeidallah replies, "On a scale of what? Zero to jihadist?" He explains that he identifies as both a Muslim American and Christian American — his father was born in the 1930s in Palestine, and his mother is an Italian-American and practicing Catholic. The family celebrated both Christmas and Ramadan. "I didn't find that to be inconsistent," he says. "In Islam, Jesus is a prophet." Furthermore, Obeidallah says that he is like a typical secular person of any religion, as was his father.
Farsad, who is of Persian descent, also describes herself as secular. "We asked the comedians on the tour to rate themselves on a scale from 1 to Muslim," she says. "I'd definitely be at the '1' end. I grew up culturally Muslim, but I don't think about the religious strictures that often, or ever."...
These comedians are Muslim by virtue of having been born to Muslim fathers. You will notice that neither Obeidallah nor his father are believing Muslims, yet they both retain the Muslim identity. You rarely hear a Muslim say as you typically hear Christians say, "I was raised a (fill in the denomination here), but now I'm a (fill in the alternative here)." The price of leaving Islam is simply too high (ranging from familial and social ostracism to death) and most people are not willing to suffer for the sake of a philosophic principle. That is also the reason why sometime in the distant past, a great, great, great (...) grandfather of Farsad (probably a Zoroastrian) or Obeidallah (probably a Christian or Jew) converted to Islam in the first place. Possibly he simply desired to keep his head, his wealth or his job, but from that point on, all his progeny became Muslim, with no possibility of parole.
Despite the fact that media representatives like Silverman attempt to portray the anti-jihad movement as promoting hatred and fear of Muslims as human beings, serious analysts seek to understand Islamic doctrine, its consequences and effects on human behavior and societies. The fact that there were many perfectly nice apparatchiks in the Communist Party does not prove communism itself was benign. This kind of argument (if one may dignify it as such) is simply not serious.
Try again, Jack.
Posted on 08/13/2011 7:16 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Not A Gang But A Haitian Rap Group
August 13, 2011
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — A man who authorities say led one of South Florida's most violent gangs was sentenced to 65 years in prison on racketeering charges Friday.
A Palm Beach County judge sentenced Futo Charles, 30, shortly after a jury convicted him of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and two other drug charges, according to The Palm Beach Post. The conviction in the heavily guarded courthouse came days after a witness who planned to testify was gunned down in a parking lot.
Charles' Top 6 gang, formed by Haitian migrants, was linked to 14 homicides and more than 150 shootings in the past few years, including a fatal Christmas Eve shooting at a busy mall in 2006 — all part of a bloody gang war, authorities said. Estimates eventually put the gang's membership at more than 400.
Charles' racketeering charge included multiple counts, including two shootings. His attorney, Marianne Rantala, pointed out that jurors found prosecutors had not linked Charles to the shootings, yet the judge still gave Charles the maximum sentence.
"It appeared that the sentence was going to be the maximum no matter what," Rantala said in an email. "My opinion of the sentence is that it was extremely overly harsh."
Rantala said she plans to appeal the case.
Witness Eguel Geffrard — a member of the gang — was supposed to testify in the trial on Monday, but police found him shot to death in a parking lot that same day.
Jurors get armed guards
Like many of Top 6's members, Geffrard was a suspect in a previous crime, but ultimately became a victim. Authorities say gang members have frequently turned on each other. No charges have been filed in Geffrard's death.
Local authorities turned to racketeering laws after struggling to bring anything other than minor drug charges against Top 6 members.
After Geffrard's slaying Monday, the judge ordered jurors to be partially sequestered with armed guards escorting them to and from the courthouse.
WPTV reported that jurors took less than three hours to decide Charles' fate.
Charles has never hid his affiliation with Top 6, but he has always maintained it is a rap group.
Posted on 08/13/2011 8:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 13 August 2011
It's Fun to Smash Things
And in Britain, there is little civilisation left to stop you
Only the wilfully blind could have been surprised by the scale or ferocity of the riots that have engulfed Britain in the past week. Unfortunately, most of the country’s political and intellectual class have been wilfully blind for years, in a state of the most abject denial; a brief walk in any of our cities should have been enough to tell them all that they needed to know.
How anyone could have missed the aggressive malignity inscribed in the faces and manner of so many young men in Britain is a mystery to me. Perhaps, like Dr Watson, our political and intellectual class saw but did not observe; and they did not observe because they lacked the moral courage to attempt anything but appeasement.
The vulpine lope or swagger, the face that regards eye contact with a stranger as a challenge to be met, the adoption of fashions that are known to signify aggression and dangerousness, the grotesquely inflated self-esteem combined with a total incapacity for doing anything constructive: all could and should have sounded an alarm in our politicians. Not only is our population ageing, but a significant proportion of such young people as we have engendered are like this, which no doubt helps to explain why we have had to resort to the importation of foreign unskilled labour while maintaining high levels of domestic unemployment, especially among the young. It is as difficult to employ a hoodie as to hug him.
No one has paid serious attention to the mentality and culture of these young men (using the word culture in its broad, anthropological sense). The morality is that of Satan on his expulsion from heaven: evil, be thou my good. The aesthetics follow the morality. Ugliness, be thou my beauty.
The young men of whom I speak admire rather than abjure criminality. I first noticed this 20 years ago when young men came to me as patients who had tattooed on their cheek the blue spot that former inmates of borstals used as a sign of graduation, without their ever having been to borstal themselves. They not only wanted to appear tough, but were suffering from crime-envy. They wanted to be thought criminal: it was the new respectability. Sacha Baron Cohen turned gangsta-chic into a joke, a matter of idle curiosity, like watching an animal in a zoo, but it was not a joke to those who had to live with it; nor are our slums zoological gardens for our amusement and delectation, as we now see only too clearly.
Terms such as ‘unrest’ and ‘disaffection’, which trip so lightly off the tongue of those who do not want to face a far more disturbing reality, do not explain the behaviour of the rioters. It is obvious, for instance, that if there were any justice in the world — at least if justice is the right return for voluntary effort and conduct — the young rioters would be much worse off than they are. Their problem is not that they have been given too little, but that they have deserved nothing.
The riots are not a protest: the shooting of Mark Duggan — the full elucidation of which will no doubt take a long time and will remain forever the contested subject of paranoid rumour, whatever the eventual findings — was scarcely even a pretext. It is perfectly possible that the shooting will turn out to have been yet another example of the bullying incompetence of the police, but it goes without saying that, even so, young black men are much more likely to be shot by each other than by the police; there was once a never-to-be-forgotten scene in our intensive care unit when two young drug-dealers, who had shot each other without inflicting death, were on life-support machines opposite each other while under arrest, guarded from each other’s henchmen by the police. No riots of protest followed this glorious incident or many similar ones, some of which ended in death.
The evident glee of the rioters, celebrating and smiling triumphantly among the devastation they wrought, as if in victory, is testimony not to their outraged feelings, but to the strength of the destructive urge that lies within us all and has always to be kept under firm control. I remember as a child the sheer joy of smashing a radio on our lawn with a croquet mallet, a joy that was quite unrelated to any personal animus against the radio, which could not possibly have done me any harm. I loved the destruction for its own sake and wanted it to continue for as long as possible, smashing the parts into dust long after there was no possibility of repair, feeling that I was almost performing a duty in being so thorough in my annihilation of them. And the first riot, in Panama, that I ever attended — reporting on it for this magazine — taught me that rioting is fun, that the supposed reason for it is soon forgotten in the ecstatic pleasure of destruction. Talleyrand said that no one knew how sweet life could be who had not lived under the Ancien Régime; one might add that no one has known unalloyed joy who has not heard the tinkle of plate glass, or seen flames lick up a building, in the alleged furtherance of a cause. Incidentally, part of the sweetness of life under the Ancien Régime was the knowledge that it was far from sweet for everyone; and the imagined distress of the owners of the property that rioters destroy is part of the joy of rioting.
In Liberia during the civil war, I saw in Monrovia the meticulous dismantlement of every last vestige of civilisation. The hospitals, for example, had not been destroyed by bazookas or bombs in fighting, but by a kind of obsessive vandalism by the rebels who had swept through them. Every castor had been cut from every trolley; every item of equipment had been damaged irrecoverably. In the Centennial Hall, the principal ceremonial building in the country, where presidents were inaugurated, I saw the body of a Steinway grand piano resting on the ground, surrounded by its legs, which had been carefully and no doubt laboriously sawn off. The library of the university had been ransacked, not to steal the books (I doubt that the vandals were great readers), but for the sheer pleasure of assisting entropy in its great work of returning the world to chaos. Incidentally, it is not unknown for librarians in Britain to react against the orderliness of their institutions in a similar way; but one can easily imagine the joy, the uplifted hearts, of the vandals in Monrovia as they went about their painstaking destruction.
After relatively minor riots in England some ten or 12 years ago, I found myself on the radio with a junior minister who spoke of them as if they were a genuine form of protest or commentary upon the social situation of the rioters, a real attempt to bring about an improvement in their situation. The tragedy of these riots, she said, was that they destroyed property and amenities in the areas in which the rioters themselves lived. I asked her whether she thought it would be better if the rioters came to her area and destroyed property and amenities there. The fact that the rioters only made their own environment worse was quite beside the point. Bakunin might have been in error when he said that the destructive urge was also a creative one; but he would have been right if he had said that the urge was omnipresent in the human heart, and gave great joy when given way to.
The urge to cruelty is not much different in this respect. I doubt there are many people who have never in their lives experienced the pleasure of inflicting some kind of pain on others, physical or mental, from sheer malice and delight in doing so. It is an urge that we overcome first by effort and then by habit.
It is one of the tasks of civilisation to tame our inherent savagery. But who, contemplating contemporary British culture, would recognise in it any civilising influence, or rather fail to recognise its opposite? It is a constant call to and celebration of degradation, not only physical but spiritual and emotional. A culture in which Amy Winehouse, with her militant vulgarity and self-indulgent stupidity, combined with a very minor talent, could be so extravagantly admired and feted, is not one to put up strong barriers against our baser instincts, desires and urges. On the contrary, that culture has long been a celebration of those very urges. He who pays the savage never gets rid of the savagery; and this is only the beginning.
Originally published in The Spectator.
Posted on 08/13/2011 1:08 PM by Theodore Dalrymple
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Berlin, August 13, 1961
by Richard L Rubenstein (August 2011)
August 13, 2011 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the erection of the Berlin Wall. I was quite unexpectedly in Berlin during that week fifty years ago. I began the day in Amsterdam making preparations to travel to Bonn, at the time West Germany’s capital, to meet with West German religious and cultural leaders as the guest of the Bundespresseamt, the Press and Information Office of the West German Federal Republic. more>>>
Posted on 08/13/2011 3:00 PM by NER
Saturday, 13 August 2011
A Musical Interlude: Let's Misbehave (Irving Aaronson And His Commanders)
Posted on 08/13/2011 3:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 13 August 2011
How The New York Times Misreports And Makes Up Stuff To Fit A Frame
From the New York Jewish Week:
Telling It Like It Wasn’t
Former Times reporter looks back on coverage of the event, and what went wrong.
August 9, 2011
Special To The Jewish Week
Twenty years ago next week, on the night of Aug. 19, 1991 — the night that Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum were killed — my editor called me at home to tell me that riots had broken out on the streets of Crown Heights. “We’re covered for tonight but I want you to start your day there tomorrow,” he said.
Over the next three days, working 12 hours shifts and only going home to sleep, I saw and heard many terrible things. I saw police cars set on fire, stores being looted and people bloodied by Billy clubs, rocks and bottles. One woman told me that she barricaded herself into her apartment and put the mattresses on the windows so her children would not be hurt by flying glass.
Over those three days I also saw journalism go terribly wrong. The city’s newspapers, so dedicated to telling both sides of the story in the name of objectivity and balance, often missed what was really going on. Journalists initially framed the story as a “racial” conflict and failed to see the anti-Semitism inherent in the riots. As the 20th anniversary of the riots approaches, I find myself re-examining my own role in the coverage and trying to extract some lessons for myself and my profession.
At the time, I was a religion writer at The New York Times and was well connected in the Lubavitch community, the predominant Jewish group in Crown Heights. I was one of probably a dozen Times reporters and photographers on the streets over the course of the riots. We were a diverse group, representing many religions and racial backgrounds.
My job was to file memos to the main “rewrite” reporters back in the Times office in Manhattan about what I saw and heard. We had no laptops or cellphones in those days so the other reporters and I went to payphones and dictated our memos to a waiting band of stenographers in the home office. The photographers handed their film off to couriers on motorcycles who took the film to the Times.
Yet, when I picked up the paper, the article I read was not the story I had reported. I saw headlines that described the riots in terms solely of race. “Two Deaths Ignite Racial Clash in Tense Brooklyn Neighborhood,” the Times headline said. And, worse, I read an opening paragraph, what journalists call a “lead,” that was simply untrue:
“Hasidim and blacks clashed in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn through the day and into the night yesterday.”
In all my reporting during the riots I never saw — or heard of — any violence by Jews against blacks. But the Times was dedicated to this version of events: blacks and Jews clashing amid racial tensions. To show Jewish culpability in the riots, the paper even ran a picture — laughable even at the time — of a chasidic man brandishing an open umbrella before a police officer in riot gear. The caption read: “A police officer scuffling with a Hasidic man yesterday on President Street.”
I was outraged but I held my tongue. I was a loyal Times employee and deferred to my editors. I figured that other reporters on the streets were witnessing parts of the story I was not seeing.
But then I reached my breaking point. On Aug. 21, as I stood in a group of chasidic men in front of the Lubavitch headquarters, a group of demonstrators were coming down Eastern Parkway. “Heil Hitler,” they chanted. “Death to the Jews.”
Police in riot gear stood nearby but did nothing.
Suddenly rocks and bottles started to fly toward us and a chasidic man just a few feet away from me was hit in the throat and fell to the ground. Some ran to help the injured man but most of us ran for cover. I ran for a payphone and, my hands shaking with rage, dialed my editor. I spoke in a way that I never had before or since when talking to a boss.
“You don’t know what’s happening here!” I yelled. “I am on the streets getting attacked. Someone next to me just got hit. I am writing memos and what comes out in the paper? ‘Hasidim and blacks clashed’? That’s not what is happening here. Jews are being attacked! You’ve got this story all wrong. All wrong.”
I didn’t blame the “rewrite” reporter. I blamed the editors. It was clear that they had settled on a “frame” for the story. The way they saw it, there were two narratives here: the white narrative and the black narrative. And both had equal weight.
After my outburst things got a little better. The next day’s report began like this: “Black youths hurling rocks and bottles scuffled with the police in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn last night, even as Mayor David N. Dinkins tried to personally calm the racially troubled neighborhood after two nights of violence.”
But the Times still had trouble changing its frame. Perhaps most troubling was an article written in the midst of the rioting under this headline: “Amid Distrust in Brooklyn: Boy and Scholar Fall Victim.” The article compared the life of Gavin Cato, the 7-year-old boy killed in the car accident that spurred the riots, and the life of Yankel Rosenbaum, 29, who was stabbed to death later that night. It recycled every newspaper cliché and was an insult to the memory of both victims, but, again, it fit the frame.
“They did not know each other,” the article said. “They had no reason to know… They died unaware….” In the eyes of the Times, the deaths were morally equivalent and had equal weight.
The Times editorial page followed suit. “The violence following an auto accident in Crown Heights reminds all New Yorkers that the city’s race relations remains dangerously strained,” the editorial said. It concluded by praising Mayor Dinkins, giving him credit “for a hard night’s work” and doing “the job that New Yorkers elected him to do.”
The one who first broke the frame and spoke the truth was the fearless poet of the New York newspaper business in those days, Jimmy Breslin, then a columnist for Newsday. He was one of numerous reporters, photographers and television journalists who were beaten or otherwise injured during the riots. In Breslin’s case, he was dragged from a taxi by a group of rampaging young men, pummeled and stripped of his clothes. That night, he vowed to tell the truth of his humiliation, although he anticipated the resistance. “And someone up in the higher echelons of journalism, some moron starts talking about balanced coverage,” he said.
The other person who spoke the truth was the brilliant former executive editor of the Times, A.M. Rosenthal, who by 1991 had become a columnist for the paper. Rosenthal was one of the first journalists at the Times to call the riots what they were. “Pogrom in Brooklyn,” was the headline of his column on Sept. 3, 1991, just two weeks after the riots ended.
“The press,” Rosenthal wrote, “treats it all as some kind of cultural clash between a poverty-ridden people fed up with life and a powerful, prosperous and unfortunately peculiar bunch of stuck-up neighbors — very sad of course, but certainly understandable. No — it is an anti-Semitic pogrom and the words should not be left unsaid.”
It pains me to recall that not many people at the Times took Rosenthal seriously at the time. He had gone from being the editor of a great “liberal” newspaper to being a “conservative” columnist who seemed to return to the same issues over and over again: the security of Israel, anti-Semitism, the persecution of Christians in China and the war on drugs.
But Rosenthal was right about Crown Heights. In 1993, two years after the Crown Heights riots, an exhaustive state investigation sharply criticized Mayor Dinkins for not understanding the severity of the crisis. It also faulted his police commissioner, Lee Brown, for mismanaging the police during the riots.
The critical state report was widely covered in the press. “For the Mayor,” the Times headline said, “A Harsh Light.”
But another report, this one on how the press covered Crown Heights, got little publicity. It was written in 1999 by Carol B. Conaway, then an assistant professor at the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and published in an academic journal called Polity. Her article is called “Crown Heights: Politics and Press Coverage of the Race War That Wasn’t.”
“Journalists and their audience alike rely on ‘frames’ when writing about and understanding newsworthy events because they provide cues for understanding others’ experiences,” Conaway wrote. But, she added, sometimes the frames are wrong.
She continued: “The New York Post, a tabloid, shifted away from the race frame to focus on black anti-Semitism within a few days of the initial rampages, while the New York Times persisted with the racial frame for at least two years.
“Yet,” she added, “one cannot understand the events [that unfolded in Crown Heights] without getting beyond the binaries of black versus white encouraged by the use of the race frame, and understanding the more complex dynamics of the conflict.”
As someone who saw the conflict unfold I can attest to this first-hand. I am telling my story in print for the first time because it is important that we journalists examine our mistakes and learn from them. Fitting stories into frames — whether about blacks and Jews, liberals or conservatives, Arabs and Israelis, Catholics and Protestants or Muslims and Jews — is wrong and even dangerous. Life is more complicated than that. And so is journalism.
Posted on 08/13/2011 3:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald