Spencer Uses Supposed “anti-Semitic” stance amongst Copts to support anti-Muslim rhetoric

From Dorado, our newest reporter on Spencer

On  January 9th 2011 in the Duomo Square, Milano, Italy, a rally was held by the Copts of Milano along with some supporting Italian organizations, when members of a Jewish group, ADI (Amici di Israele – Friends of Israel),  put the Israeli flag on their shoulders, many Copts reacted by refusing the presence of the Israeli flags.

Robert Spencer, the so-called scholar of Islam has used this event to suggest to his readers at Jihadwatch that the Copts are victims of a divide and conquer strategy by Muslims, designed to keep what he refers to as “dhimmi communities” at odds with one another. This conspiracy he says has historical roots and global implications. He says all of this of course without supporting evidence being cited in his article.

It is apparent that this new variation of the tu quoque (the anti-conspiracy theory theory) argument is being used to combat another conspiracy theory, namely that somehow the Israelis were responsible for the suicide bombing in an Egyptian Church in Alexandria that occurred during Christmas Eve Mass, killing 21 people. The implication is clear, the Copts are selling themselves short by not accepting support from Israeli groups. It is being suggested, although not in a vocal, explicit manner a la Debbie Schlussel, but with clever word play, that religious persecution of Copts in Egypt is the result of their succumbing to this divide and conquer strategy. He plays the blame game when he states,

“And while some Middle Eastern Christian leaders remain mired in anti-Semitism and dhimmi attitudes of intellectual and political subservience, others are breaking out of it.”

In short, it is all the Copts fault for their supposed “anti-Semitism.” Combat one conspiracy theory by introducing “reasonable doubt” through the method of introducing another conspiracy theory.

There is, of course, no mention of the widespread support of Copts by their Muslim brethren in Egypt. This is just another instance of Spencer using tragedy in the Muslim world to vilify all of Islam and demonize the world’s Muslims by cataloging these events police-blotter style. Spencer’s entire call for an alliance of non Muslim groups against Islam is obviously based on his theory that Muslims or “adherents of Sharia” seek the conversion, subjugation, or death of all non-Muslims. We will assume that he has provided “evidence” for this claim elsewhere in his writings, because he provides none here.

We will also later address this unsupported assertion from Spencer:

“Indeed. Historically, Islamic supremacist masters did their best to sow discord among different dhimmi communities, keeping them apart and at odds with one another, but those communities today only work against their own best interests by refusing to ally together.”

One has to wonder why groups such as Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors(CJHS) continue to invite the likes of Spencer to their events when he isn’t averse to using bigotry to advance his agenda, especially when we consider that Spencer is both a Genocide denier and a Genocide Supporter.

Jewish groups such as this should be wary of a non-Jew who uses bigotry in this way, as it is very possible he could easily turn on his supporters if he accomplishes his goals against Muslims.

His bigotry and opportunism is evident. He is obviously projecting his own anti-Muslim bigotry when he suggests that those who do not take a Pro-Israel stance are somehow against justice and truth and that Copts who refuse alliance with Jewish groups are aligning with “Islamic Supremacists”.

Although not explicitly mentioning the massive amount of support that the Copts are receiving from their Muslim compatriots, Spencer’s suggestion that they should ally with Israeli Groups and extreme Zionists instead of Muslims suggests that he is aware of that support and it bothers him. Egyptian Muslim support for the Coptic Community provides an alternative to his “all Muslims are evil” agenda. Why else would he elliptically use phrases such as “divide and conquer” or Arabic terms such as dhimmi. The Copts are being covertly called dhimmis for not supporting Israel?

And why call the Copts anti-Semitic? After all didn’t they invite the Jewish groups to the rally? It also seems that the word dhimmi is being used to imply some far fetched form of Stockholm syndrome among non Muslims or a caste system in Islam, instead of the traditional Islamic meaning of “protected religious minority”. This seems to be yet another instance of Robert Spencer, the “scholar of Islam”, imposing his understanding of Islamic concepts on the rest of us.

This brings us now to address this idea that Islamic communities historically used a strategy of divide and conquer to control the religious minorities under their political dominion. Spencer seems to wish for his readers to remain oblivious to the scholarship on the matter. Numerous Quranic verses and Hadith when read in their proper context deal with the just treatment of Non Muslims that Islam mandates. The Muslim support of the Copts in Egypt exemplifies this Islamic principle. A twisting of the meaning of this word implies a nefarious agenda. In addition, numerous scholars , both Muslim and non Muslim have concluded that Jews and other religious minorities fared relatively well under Muslim rule in general. Loonwatch has articles directly refuting Spencer’s ideas about dhimmitude in general and specifically treatment of Jews under Muslim rule.

This idea that  Copts and Jews have  more in common than Copts and Muslims, or the Jews and Muslims even, smacks of the very thing Spencer is decrying: “the divide and conquer tactics of Islamic Supremacists”. He is trying to separate the Egyptian Coptic community from compatriots on the basis of religious difference. The irony should not be lost on anyone.

Things “Police Blotter Bob” Won’t Tell You… (Vol. 2)

In 2007, there were a series of attacks in India against Muslim targets that were widely suspected to be the work of Muslim militants. That’s not very surprising, as Muslim terrorists are not above attacking other Muslims. This is well known. But, as “Police Blotter Bob” never fails to point out, the bomb attacks were blamed on Muslims.

Yet, recent revelations show that a Hindu holy man was actually behind the attacks:

An Indian court has remanded in custody a Hindu holy man accused of a string of bomb attacks previously thought to be the work of Muslim militants.

Swami Aseemanand allegedly admitted to placing bombs on a train to Pakistan, at a Sufi shrine and at a mosque.

He has also allegedly confessed to carrying out two assaults on the southern Indian town of Malegaon, which has a large Muslim population.

He has been remanded in custody for the four attacks until 27 January.

Headway

Police say that Mr Aseemanand gave them details of his role in the mosque attack in the city of Hyderabad in 2007 in addition to attacks on a graveyard in Malegaon and a Sufi shrine in Ajmer.

Several Muslim men were arrested for those attacks – and some reports said that they had been tortured. Most are still in custody.

Mr Aseemanand was arrested in November after being in hiding for two years, police said.

According to India’s Tehelka magazine, which has obtained a copy of his 42-page confession, he told his interrogators that the attacks on Muslim places were in response to attacks by Islamist militants in India.

It quotes him as saying that many of those involved in the bombings were members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the right-wing parent organisation of India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

The bomb attack on the Samjhauta (Compromise) Express train travelling from India to Pakistan in February 2007 killed 68 people. Many of the passengers who died in the incident were Pakistanis returning home.

The 2008 blast in the town of Malegaon killed seven people and left more than 100 injured. A female Hindu priest, Sadhwi Pragya Singh Thakur, and a serving Indian army officer were among 11 people who were arrested in connection with the attack.

In May 2007, at least 14 people were killed in an explosion during Friday prayers at the Mecca mosque in Hyderabad. It is one of India’s biggest mosques, and there was rioting afterwards.

And in October 2007, a bomb attack on a famous Sufi Muslim shrine in the city of Ajmer – in the state of Rajasthan – killed two people.

Anger over leaks

Most of these blasts were initially blamed on local militant groups and several Muslim men were arrested for alleged involvement.

But correspondents say the police were unable to make much headway in their investigations.

Opposition politicians were angered recently after leaked diplomatic cables suggested Rahul Gandhi, widely tipped as a future Indian PM, believed Hindu radicals might pose a greater threat than Islamist militants.

According to Wikileaks, Mr Gandhi told a US envoy last year there was some support among Indian Muslims for militants such as Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But he told ambassador Timothy Roemer the greater threat could come from the growth of radical Hindu groups.

Let’s say that last part again, shall we: according to Wikileaks, a prominent Indian politician, Rahul Gandhi, told U.S. officials:

Mr Gandhi told a US envoy last year there was some support among Indian Muslims for militants such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. But he told ambassador Timothy Roemer the greater threat could come from the growth of radical Hindu groups.

Wow! There are people who actually believe there can be non-Muslims who are terrorists! Wait a second…Mr. Gandhi must be a secret “dhimmi,” right? He must be practicing Taqiyya! He must be secretly Muslim, seeking to confuse and confund all of us.

Will “Police Blotter Bob” issue a retraction?  I mean, he will likely say (innocently) that he was merely repeating the  news of the day about those attacks. But now that the truth has come out, will he correct the record?

Don’t hold your breath…I’m not holding mine.

Spencer Distorts Egyptian Society; Spreads Interfaith Bigotry

Egypt’s majority Muslim population spoke loudly against extremism and terrorism when they served as “human shields” in protection of their Christian neighbors on Christmas eve. “We either live together, or we die together,” was the slogan of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon. Indeed, it was a teachable moment: a ray of hope in a sectarian torn world. But fake scholar Robert Spencer is determined to squander any chance at peaceful interfaith coexistence.

Spencer notes that Al-Azhar University condemned the recent attacks on Egyptian Churches:

Al-Azhar is the foremost authority in Sunni Islam, and a case can be made from the Qur’an for what they say: “For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down.” — Qur’an 22:40

Of course, the citation of Quran 22:40 is black-and-white proof that Islam does not sanction attacks on houses of worship. However, Spencer as usual turns the Quran upside down:

Thus Muslims should not be among those who “pull down” churches, right? So why, then, would any jihadists target a church, given that they consistently proclaim themselves to be the true and pure Muslims, following scrupulously everything commanded in the Qur’an and Sunnah? Or have they really “hijacked” Islam, as is endlessly claimed?

Well, it is worth noting that ‘Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), a manual of Islamic law that Al-Azhar certifies as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community,” contains a section (o9.10-o.9.15) entitled “Rules of Warfare” that says nothing about any prohibition on attacking a non-Muslim house of worship. And Islamic law generally takes a negative view of non-Muslim houses of worship, forbidding non-Muslims in Islamic states from building new houses of worship or repairing old ones.

Suggesting the Quran doesn’t mean what it says, Spencer cites as proof his favorite piece of evidence: Umdat al-Salik, a 14th century medieval Muslim law manual. Spencer assumes the certification of the translation into English by Al-Azhar means that Muslim legal thinking hasn’t moved beyond the 14th century. What he fails to disclose is that these manuals are studied in their historical contexts. Serious Egyptian religious intellectuals do not take the rules of warfare from Umdat al-Salik but from the Geneva Conventions and U.N. treaties, as stated clearly by Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Dr. Ali Gomaa:

“Fight in the way of God against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression – for, verily, God does not love aggressors,” (Quran, 2:190)

This verse summarizes everything that has been agreed upon concerning guidelines of warfare, including the first and second Geneva Conventions.

Nonetheless, reading in translation (since we know he is not proficient in Arabic), Spencer doesn’t find any suggestion in Umdat Al-Salik that houses of worship should be protected; therefore, he concludes Islamic law in its totality must not have any precedent about protecting houses of worship. What he failed to mention, even in the very piece of evidence he cited, is this:

09:11 It is unlawful to kill a non-Muslim to whom a Muslim has given his guarantee of protection.

[Ibn, al-Naqīb A. L, and Noah H. M. Keller. Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law ʻumdat Al-Salik. Beltsville, MD, U.S.A: Amana Publications, 1999. P. 603]

Most Muslims reinterpret such clauses in the modern sense of citizenship. The Christians are Egyptian citizens and therefore deserve the protection of the government. Hence, the overwhelming demonstration by Muslims in support of the Christian community. Of course, even in a time of warfare, Islamic law laid down strict rules of combat. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, told his armies:

“I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.”

[Muwatta, Book 21, Number 21.3.10:]

“Inhabited places” include houses of worship. But the Egyptian Christians aren’t combatants; they’re citizens. They’re even more deserving of scrupulous protection. In this regard, Muhammad himself sanctified the lives of those who made peace treaties with Muslims:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr: The Prophet said, “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).”

[Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 83, Number 49]

Apparently, Spencer feels no need to check any Islamic sources other than Umdat al-Salik before he makes sweeping claims about Islamic law. In any case, Spencer would like us to think that Al-Qaeda, who bombs houses of worship, is acting in accordance with Islamic law better than the majority of Egyptian Muslims. He gives us his “expert” interpretation:

Also, it is likely that al-Qaeda understands Qur’an 22:40 as referring to churches that teach the true Christianity of Jesus the Muslim prophet as he is depicted in the Qur’an. Those Christians who consider Jesus divine — that is, virtually all of them — are “unbelievers” according to the Qur’an (5:17, 5:72), and the Qur’an commands Muslims to make war against those who associate partners with Allah (9:5), which Christians are explicitly accused of doing by proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God (9:30). Thus they would likely believe that Qur’an 22:40 just doesn’t have anything to do with “pulling down” the assemblies of renegades such as those who were gathered in the church in Alexandria last night.

Notice that Spencer thinks it is “likely” al-Qaeda understand the verse exactly the way he does, although he can produce no such evidence. Maybe because he’s not too good at translating Arabic documents? He then cites his favorite handful of verses (out of context); for example, citing:

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)… (Quran 9:5)

But without citing the following verses (interpreted in Tafsir Jalalayn as follows):

“How can polytheists [that were treacherous and violated their treaties] have a covenant with Allah and His Messenger? Except for those with whom you entered covenants [i.e., the polytheists who did not break them and hence were not treacherous] in the Sacred Mosque. So as long as they are true to you [with their covenants and do not breach them] then be true to them [by also fulfilling your covenants]; verily, Allah loves those who fear Him [i.e., He loves those who fulfill covenants, since whoever fears Allah will fulfill his covenants, and the Prophet kept his word and upheld his side of the treaty until his enemies broke theirs].”

[Tafsir Jalalayn, Quran 9:7]

Spencer takes verses that refer specifically to a handful of Arab tribes who broke their peace treaties with Muhammad and extrapolates them out to apply to all Jews, Christians, and people everywhere. Spencer ignores key verses of the Quran that make clear distinctions between those who war against Muslims and those who make peace:

Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong. (Quran 60:8-9)

Finally, Spencer ends by repeating his keynote fallacy:

If Al-Azhar backs up this statement with consistent calls on Egyptian authorities to protect Egypt’s Christians, and consistent teaching against the Islamic texts and teachings that provide justification for attacks against them, we will be making real progress.

Spencer thinks we’ll “make progress” when Al-Azhar teaches against Islamic texts and teachings, while we have shown here that Al-Azhar’s condemnation of Al-Qaeda is not against Islamic texts and teachings, but is perfectly in line with them. Spencer pretends that only his spurious self-serving interpretation of Islam is correct and therefore Islam is the problem, rather than extremism fostered by military occupations. Would Spencer find it sensible for me to likewise demand Christians speak out against the Christian texts and teachings that justify terrorism?

As our country starts debating the violent political rhetoric in our nation’s discourse, let people know that fraudsters like Robert Spencer add fuel to the fire by pushing communities apart, dividing nations along religious lines, and hindering any hope of interfaith understanding. His anti-Muslim bigotry and rejection of Muslim/Christian harmony is poisonous to the best of American traditions: E pluribus unum.

Fake enlightened liberal democrats making excuses for anti-Muslim bigotry

These are the type of guys that Spencer wants to see an alliance with, they repeat much of the same mantra as it is.

We have detailed a lot of anti-Muslim bigotry on the religious right-wing, but lest anyone think the religious right has a monopoly on Islamophobia, rest assured that some people on the left-wing have their own reasons for stereotyping and scapegoating Muslims. This is what we find in the latest hit piece by Pascal Bruckner, one of the nouveaux (“new”) French philosophers who defends loons like Ayan Hirsi Ali.

A common talking-point ceaselessly echoed in the Islamophobic blogosphere is that the term “Islamophobia” is part of a draconian conspiracy to silence anti-Muslim whistle-blowing. For example, the vitriolic hate site BareNakedIslam has a catch phrase, “It isn’t Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you!” by which they imply that Islam and every Muslim wants to kill you. In this fashion, Bruckner begins with an incredibly sweeping claim:

Islamophobia was invented to silence those Muslims who question the Koran and who demand equality of the sexes.

At the end of the 1970s, Iranian fundamentalists invented the term “Islamophobia” formed in analogy to “xenophobia”. The aim of this word was to declare Islam inviolate. Whoever crosses this border is deemed a racist. This term, which is worthy of totalitarian propaganda, is deliberately unspecific about whether it refers to a religion, a belief system or its faithful adherents around the world.

We imagine a dim room full of bearded Iranian clerics sinisterly plotting to introduce Islamophobia into the Western lexicon to advance their insidious totalitarian agenda. In reality, far from being “deliberately unspecific,” Islamophobia has been defined by Runnymede Trust as ”an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination.” It has been accepted by the United Nations and numerous government officials. Countless manifestations of Islamophobia are documented and recognized. But Bruckner dismisses all the stereotypes, prejudice, and hostility being thrown at Muslims as figments of our imagination. That is certainly shocking news to Columbia University Press and victims of the Bosnian Genocide.

Islamophobia was an important driving force behind the latest legally recognized genocide in Europe. According to Dr. Norman Cigar at the Strategic Studies Institute, the Serbians’ Islamophobic propaganda was necessary to justify the genocide:

In particular, these [Serbian] intellectuals have been instrumental in establishing and cementing an in-group/out-group dichotomy between the Muslims and the Serbs based on stereotypes, a fact which has been central to forming the environment and establishing the legitimacy for much of the violence that occurred.

[Qureshi, E., & Sells, M. A. (2003). The new crusades: Constructing the Muslim enemy. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 314]

It is precisely this “in-group/out-group” dichotomy promoted by Islamophobes, anti-Semites, racists, and other bigots that leads to so much civil strife and violence, including genocide. But despite this recent ugly European history, nowhere in his article does Bruckner acknowledge that bigotry against Muslims is a real issue. This is a classic example of Runnymede’s sixth point in their comprehensive definition of Islamophobia: criticism of the West made by Muslims is rejected out of hand.

Nevertheless, Bruckner wants us to believe that everyone who uses the term Islamophobia is simply an agent in the service of Ayatollah Khomeini. Perhaps Bruckner believes former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan was secretly working for the Mullahs when he concisely summarized the issue:

When a new word enters the language, it is often the result of a scientific advance or a diverting fad. But when the world is compelled to coin a new term to take account of increasingly widespread bigotry, that is a sad and troubling development. Such is the case with Islamophobia.

In any case, Bruckner hinges his argument on the false premise that Islamophobia targets normal criticism of Islam rather than prejudice and hostility towards Islam. In fact, Muslims largely accept normal criticism of Islam as part of religious freedom. The Quran says:

There is no compulsion in religion. (2:256)

If it had been your Lord’s will, they would all have believed – all who are on earth. Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe? (10:99)

Certainly, people who choose not to practice Islam are not Islamophobic. Normal criticism of Islam is acceptable in a modern pluralistic society, as is normal criticism of any religion or ideology. Muslims, like Jews and Christians, have likewise debated and reformed traditional laws on apostasy. However, what is unacceptable in our pluralistic society is spreading hate, intolerance, discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudice. Ignoring this important point, Bruckner pretends the term “Islamophobia” has nothing to do with anti-Muslim hateanti-Muslim violence, or religious discrimination. He sums up his beef:

The term “Islamophobia” serves a number of functions: it denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it; it attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, it wants to silence all those Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and doctrinaire. It follows that young girls are stigmatised for not wearing the veil, as are French, German or English citizens of Maghribi, Turkish, African or Algerian origin who demand the right to religious indifference, the right not to believe in God, the right not to fast during Ramadan. Fingers are pointed at these renegades, they are delivered up to the wrath of their religions communities in order to quash all hope of change among the followers of the Prophet.

Let me get the conspiracy theory straight: Islamophobia was invented by Iranian fundamentalists to wage the Eurabia stealth jihad (“Islamic offensive”) and attack secularism, but “above all,” wants to silence any criticism of Islam and prevent any Islamic reform. As we’ve already pointed out, this is completely fabricated nonsense; long on confident presumptuous claims, short on supporting evidence.

Furthermore, Bruckner cares so much about Muslim women being stigmatized for not wearing the veil, but this so-called liberal democrat curiously has no concern for the religious rights of Muslim women who choose to veil out of modesty. It seems the right of people to reject religion is very important to Bruckner, but the right of people to practice religion, not so much. Liberal democracy for you but not for them?

Even the French President has somehow been fooled by the treacherous hidden hand of the Mullahs. He says:

Did not the French president himself, never one to miss a blunder – not compare Islamophobia with Antisemitism? A tragic error.

Of course, the comparison between Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism is perfectly valid. Yet strangely Bruckner, allegedly an enlightened freedom-loving liberal democrat and champion of reason, believes dehumanization of Jews is wrong (and it definitely is) but dehumanization of Muslims is… well, nothing to be concerned about. Rather, we are told Islamophobia is a term meant to “quash all hope of change” instead of protect innocent people from the majority’s bigotry. He concludes:

“Islamophobia” is one of the words that we urgently need to delete from our vocabulary.

Mr. Bruckner, the enlightened liberal democracy I know stands by the human and religious rights of all people with the goal of building a tolerant, pluralistic, fair, and peaceful open society. However, the “enlightenment” you peddle is a poor intellectual articulation of nativist tribalistic (us-versus-them) in-group/out-group populism which thoroughly, and ironically, mirrors the rigid fundamentalism you claim to be against.

In my estimation, you belong in the category of self-serving pseudo-liberal loons like Bill Maher.

Ahmed Rehab: A Silver Lining in Egypt’s Dark Cloud

Robert Spencer has been steadily attempting to portray a situation in Egypt that does not reflect reality. Articles such as the following by Ahmed Rehab will never appear on JihadWatch because Spencer is vested in a Clash of Civilizations ideology.

An inspiring and heartening post by Ahmed Rehab on the bombing of the Coptic church. We were alerted to this late but this is certainly thus far one of the best posts on the subject. (hat tip: Ivan)

A Silver Lining to Egypt’s Dark Cloud

by Ahmed Rehab

The recent bombing outside a Coptic church in the Egyptian seaport of Alexandria that claimed 21 lives and 96 injuries sent shockwaves throughout Egypt and made headlines around the world.

Much of the global media has limited its interest in the story to the bombing itself and the subsequent angry street protests by Coptic youth; more savvy journalists included some discussion of government negligence and the context of sectarian strife that plagues Egypt today.

Still, an integral part of the story remains untold outside of Egypt: the strong response of everyday Egyptians – Muslims and Copts.

A popular storm of anger, defiance, and national unity is sweeping the country expressed by political leaders, members of the clergy, movie stars, students, and men and women on the street all reiterating one resounding theme: this is an attack against Egypt and all Egyptians.

While sectarian strife – even violence – is a serious problem in this mostly Muslim nation with a sizable Coptic population, Muslims and Copts generally live in peace side by side and have for many centuries.

Ali GomaaEgyptians of all stripes seem to concur that the Alexandria bombing – the most serious act of terrorism in a decade – is an attack on the Egyptian way of life with the intent to drive a wedge between faith communities and push the nation into turmoil.

“This is not just an attack on Copts, this is an attack on me and you and all Egyptians, on Egypt and its history and its symbols, by terrorists who know no God, no patriotism, and no humanity,” said Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt.

Khaled El Gendy“This cannot be classified as religious extremism, this can only be classified as religious apostasy,” said sheikh Khaled El Gendy a popular Muslim TV personality. “I do not offer my condolences to Christians, but to all Egyptians and to Egypt, All Copts are Egyptian and all Egyptians are Copts; their places of worship are national places of worship, a bomb that targets them bleeds us all.” A high ranking member of the Coptic clergy who sat beside him echoed his words.

“An act like this is wholly condemnable in Islam. Muslims are not only obligated not to harm Christians, but to protect and defend them and their places of worship,” said Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt’s seat of Orthodoxy.

Adel Imam“Let us hang black flags from our homes and black ribbons on our cars to mourn this cowardly attack against our brothers and sisters, let us send a symbolic message of defiance against those who are trying to divide us”, said a visibly enraged Adel Imam, Egypt’s most popular living actor, a Muslim, and a long time advocate for Coptic rights.

The message was not much different on Egypt’s most watched talk shows that were abuzz with Muslim and Coptic guests in the studios and on the streets, expressing their solidarity with each other and defiance against what they see as a common enemy trying to drive a wedge between Egyptians.

Muslim college students in Alexandria and Cairo have vowed to join Copts at their upcoming Christmas celebrations (January 7th for the Coptic Church). “We will be there with signs bearing the Crescent and the Cross, celebrating with them, standing with them, and falling with them if necessary,” said a young, veiled student leader surrounded by her colleagues.

As an Egyptian, I am as invigorated by the current mood in Egypt as I am distraught by the bombing. However, I pray that this welcome surge of unity and camaraderie is seized and eternalized. I hope that it becomes ingrained into our societal fabric and that it is leveraged to induce long needed reforms.

I agree that an attack such as this has the bearings of Al Qaeda and its imitation groups therefore taking us outside the realm of common sectarian strife and into one of national security; nonetheless, Egyptians should see the current atmosphere of empathy as an opportunity to address Coptic grievances and strive towards a more equal society.

We can no longer deny that since the rise of Muslim extremist ideology in the 1970′s, Egypt’s once exemplary Muslim-Coptic relations has deteriorated significantly.

My father tells me that growing up in the 50′s, he often did not know if one of his friends was a Muslim or Copt except by sheer coincidence, and then when he did it mattered little. This was not my experience growing up in Egypt where my religion teacher made sure to warn me against the “treachery” of my Coptic colleagues.

Naguib El RihanyIn the 40′s, no one seemed to care that Naguib El Rihany, Egypt’s then greatest comedian and a national treasure, was a Copt; he was simply Egyptian. Likewise, Copts did not bat an eyelid when Omar Sharif, a Christian, converted to Islam in the 50′s, at the height of his celebrity, a far cry from today’s intense reactions against conversions.

As far back as the 12th century, Egyptian Muslims and Copts fought side by side against the Crusaders, viewed then as a national security threat and not a religious war. Together, they stood tall against British colonialism – a lasting image of the period depicts Muslim sheikhs and Coptic priests marching together side by side and chanting “long live the crescent and the cross!”

One needs not look farther than the Alexandria Church itself to gain a glimpse of the sort of religious cohabitation that is uniquely Egyptian: the church is brightly lit up by flood lights perched up on a Mosque, only 30 feet across the street.

Egyptians are asking today privately and publicly, where has all this gone?

But we need to do more than ask and lament. We need to act.

The post-Alexandria solidarity between Muslims and Copts – the likes of which Egypt has not witnessed in decades – represents a silver lining in Egypt’s dark cloud of sectarian strife and mistrust.

We would be wrong not to acknowledge and applaud it, but equally wrong to settle for it; a silver lining never made for a brighter day.

We need to carry the momentum forward into the realm of real change:

When extremist religious discourse at Mosques (and in Coptic circles) is regularly and unequivocally condemned and countered with a proactive and effective discourse of respectful coexistence, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptians no longer have to list their faith affiliation on their official government ID’s, it will be a brighter day.

When Copts no longer need a special government decree to build churches (or fix bathrooms in their churches), it will be a brighter day.

When I see talented young Coptic men playing on the Egyptian football national team at a rate proportional to the Coptic talent in my 6th grade class in Cairo, it will be a brighter day.

When the glass ceiling barring Copts from reaching the highest levels of government is shattered, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptian law, prosecutors, officers, and judges treat Muslims and Copts as merely Egyptians – that is as equal citizens – with merit being the only qualifier, it will be a brighter day.

Given the candid conversations happening all over Egypt today, I believe that a brighter day is within reach. It is up to us “to change this tragedy into an opportunity,” to borrow the words of Sheikh Ali Gomaa.

Clearly, the immediate priority is security, but that must be followed – if not paralleled – with addressing Coptic civic grievances. For this to stand a realistic chance of success, the Coptic cause must become a national cause led and fought for by Muslims under a program of comprehensive civil rights reform.

Ahmed Rehab is a board member of the Egyptian American Society and a co-author and signatory of the Chicago Declaration, a practical document calling for equal treatment of Copts under the law, submitted to the Egyptian government in 2005.

Oumma.com: International Conference Against Islamization

These are some of Spencer’s French acquaintances.

A report from the French website Oumma.com. (Hat tip: Abraham al-Ahmad). The report was originally in French, and so the translation is not the greatest, if anyone has a better translation send it over.

The gist is that Oumma sent one of their journalists to the “International Conference against Islamization” that was held in Paris. They learned about the developing cultural cross spectrum of Islamophobia and how it is a reflection of majority opinion in France.

The New Face of Islamophobia

They say they are Islamophobic and proud. Who are they really? Umma attended the “international conference against Islamization” that was recently held in Paris.Meeting with the organizers and supporters of the radical trend that is increasingly influential in public opinion.

Islam is a threat: a feeling that is now accepted by nearly all French people, according to a survey released by Le Monde . Beyond the necessary questions about the responsibilities-of-both sides for such a negative perception, the identification of the protagonists instrumentalizing this sentiment is already possible. Ummah will soon publish a lengthy multi-media investigation (written, audio and video) showing the emergence and manifestations of Islamophobia in France. The “international conference against Islamization,” held December 18 in Paris is just the tip of the iceberg behind this gathering, we come back, parallel to its description on the connections of this diverse movement with parliamentary right, left, feminist, right-wing ultra-Zionist but also, more surprisingly, with think-tanks and U.S. collaboration. In addition, we discuss how journalists, quietly sharing the same beliefs, prepared through their actions and their visual tests, the ideological terrain on which this motion was seconded.Finally, and most importantly, the investigation tells us how these Islamophobia propagandists claimed a position for themselves strategically for the presidential election through the next convention of the National Front and tactical support to Marine Le Pen.

As an illustration of the story that is soon to be posted by Umma, here’s a video clip, made at the end of the day Audience: This is my encounter with Christine Tasin , member of Riposte Lay and co-organizer of the gathering.The courtesy shown by those responsible for this event to the media in general and Muslim Ummah in particular, has not overshadowed so far, here or there, some tension in our discussions with the stakeholders.

After eight hours of speeches focused on Islam and the ”grave danger” that it presents the spirits of the participants was particularly heated, as shown by this clip. If Christine Tasin kindly agreed to answer my questions, he did not fail at the end of our brief conversation, to speak to me as if I was the spokesman of the French Muslim Council, with recurrent expressions like ”if you, in Islam, you change this or that ….” The most revealing of the atmosphere that will show to be ultimately deleterious was the unexpected crowd of true fans, applauding at the end of the interview. One of them, particularly vehement against me, apologized after filming the movie.Then he wanted to ask about the media for which I made my report, however, confusing and L’Humanite Ummah, man, from a ”communist family”, refused later to give me his first name, because, he says, he ”works in a ministry.”

Neither fascist nor brave

Since the “Aperitif sausage” of June 18 which I also attended to speak to various actors of this movement which was a huge ratings success on December 18, a cartoon double, including which fell many of my colleagues, seems pointless: the men and women who make up this emerging force in French politics are neither fascist nor clowns. There are amongst them some who are nostalgic for Benito Mussolini, visceral racists, or eccentric, however this would be a serious journalistic error to reduce all their activists, and especially their supporters to such a label. On this point, I have not so far shared the feeling that the journalist Elisabeth Levy, speaking off with colleagues, found that it was only ”good people” at times, stigma obsessional contempt insidious cultural condescension returned regularly in the words of this speaker or that member of the public. But rather than demonize, like the radical Islamophobes, or dilute, the attempt by Ummahin the coming time will simply be to understand this phenomenon to better relate the dangers and challenges addressed, not only to French Muslims, but also to the national community as a whole.

Frank Gaffney Thinks Some Conservatives are Muslim Brotherhood

More wackiness from Gaffney who has swallowed Spencer’s Stealth Jihad and other conspiracies hook, line and sinker.

Conservatives claim anti-tax crusader secretly leading Muslim indoctrination

(RAWstory)

Are a growing cross-section of American conservatives really secret Muslims bent on destroying western civilization?

Answer: No.

But that’s not stopping right-wing activist Frank Gaffney from claiming the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) had been infiltrated by radical Muslims because of the inclusion of Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and former Bush staffer Suhail Khan.

American Conservative Union (ACU), the oldest conservative lobbying organization in the country which hosts CPAC, is involved in a “stealthy effort to bring Shariah” to the United States, according to Gaffney.

“This is a ticking time bomb for the conservative community,” he told the conservative conspiracy website WorldNetDaily. “An influence operation is contributing materially to the defeat of our country.”

Gaffney alleges that Norquist and Khan are secretly working for the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamist group, and trying to influence conservative groups in a plot to “Islamize” America. Both Khan and Norquist are ACU board members.

Khan, a conservative activist who previously worked for the Bush administration, allegedly has ties to the radical Islamists from his time as consultant for The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He has also served on committees at the Islamic Society of North America, according to Gaffney.

Gaffney also claimed that Khan’s father was a founding member of the Muslim Brotherhood in America. In a report by Talking Points Memo, Khan called the allegation “laughable” and said his father was from India, noting that the Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt.

He is now a senior fellow for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement.

Norquist, founder of the conservative Americans for Tax Reform, was also accused of secretly providing the Muslim Brotherhood with access into the highest reaches of the conservative movement.

“Grover Norquist is credentialing the perpetrators of this Muslim Brotherhood influence operation,” Gaffney said. “This is part of tradecraft, to get people who have standing in a community to give it to people who lack it, so they can do what they’re assigned to do in terms of subversion. We are in a war, and he has been working with the enemy for over a decade.”

Gaffney is no stranger to making wildly unsubstantiated claims. He said in 2009 that there was mounting evidence that President Barack Obama “not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.”

“The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich,” he added.

CPAC was facing a boycott from a number of conservative groups for inviting the conservative gay Republican group GOProud to the conference. The Family Research Council, Concerned Women For America, American Values, the American Principles Project, the Capital Research Center, the Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, and Liberty University have said they will not attend the conference in February.

EDL Holding Rally In Toronto Alongside JDL

Looks like the hate is being imported to North America, courtesy of Robert Spencer’s and Pamela Geller’s favorite British organization: the EDL. The only question is will Spencer be attending?

Controversial anti-Islamist group plans rally in Toronto

TORONTO—A British right-wing group responsible for a wave of violent anti-Islamist street protests in the United Kingdom will attempt to spread its message to Canadians at a rally in Toronto next week.

A “support rally” for the controversial English Defence League is scheduled to take place at the Toronto Zionist Centre on Tuesday night. The event is being organized by the Jewish Defence League of Canada.

Tommy Robinson, the EDL leader, will speak at the rally through an on-line hookup. It is believed to be the first Canadian rally for the EDL, repeatedly linked to violence since it formed in 2009 to counter Islamist militancy in Britain.

“I am disappointed that the JDL would support an organization whose record in the U.K. is one of violence and extremism,” said Bernie Farber, CEO, of the Canadian Jewish Congress. “This is more than unwise and I sure hope they reconsider this decision.”

Dozens have been arrested at EDL protests, including Mr. Robinson, an alias used by Stephen Lennon. He was charged in November with assaulting a police officer at a confrontation with Islamists who burned poppies during a two-minute silence for veterans.

“The root cause of the problem is the Koran, it’s Islam,” he told the BBC on Nov. 19. “And no one has got the balls to admit it and say it and talk about it. We will. We’re not creating these divisions and this extremism. It’s already there. That’s why we formed. If there was no militant Islam there would be no EDL.”

Professor Matthew Goodwin said the EDL has links to football hooligan networks and draws most of its support from the young working class but unlike the traditional far right it is open to all races and faiths.

“It wants members of the Sikh community, similarly members of the Jewish community to become involved as a way of opposing what the EDL calls radical militant Islam, even though it’s actually just talking about Islam,” said Prof. Goodwin, a lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham.

Over the past three to four months, the EDL has been trying to forge links internationally and has reached out to Dutch far right politician Geert Wilders and U.S. conservatives, he said. “This is part of that attempt to forge international links,” he said of the Toronto rally.

The EDL support rally is advertised on the JDL website. “JDL supports the EDL,” the announcement reads. “The EDL needs international support to help it support the values of freedom that Britain was once famous [for]. Now is the time to step forward and stop political Islam.”

Meir Weinstein, national director of JDL Canada, said he was visiting Israel when he met someone connected to Mr. Lennon. The two later got acquainted on the phone. He said he was aware Mr. Robison had been arrested.

“I don’t know everything about the leader of the EDL but from what we see they’re on the streets and they’re very vocal supporting Israel, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and standing up to political Islam, so that’s about it.”

Prof. Goodwin said he doubts the EDL message will resonate in Canada. He said it appeals primarily in working class districts of northern England that have little experience with multiculturalism.

“Your nation is on the whole at ease with ethnic cultural diversity,” he said. “So I think the message itself may not resonate. What might be significant is whether this turns into some substantive links between groups in Toronto and the EDL, and whether there’s any financial resources or logistical support that comes out of that because that is what the EDL is lacking.”

sbell@nationalpost.com

Seattle: Hate Crime Charge Filed in Grocery Store Attack

Islamophobia? What Islamophobia?

Hate crime charge filed in Seattle grocery store attack

(SeattlePI)

King County prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a Seattle man accused of accosting a supermarket clerk.

According to charging documents, Charles Anthel Webb, 42, told a clerk at a Central District Grocery Outlet store he would kill her if she didn’t leave the country.

The cashier, whose name is common to the Middle East and North Africa, was processing Webb’s purchases when he began berating her, a Seattle police detective told the court.

As the Dec. 26 altercation continued, Webb called her several derogatory names, then told her and a customer who’d attempted to intervene to go back to their “own” countries, the detective claimed.

Webb is then alleged to have told the cashier he would “get her” when her shift ended.

“I’m going to get you when you get off,” Webb allegedly said. “Go back to your own country.”

Webb was arrested nearby. According to court documents, he claimed to have been threatened with a box cutter at the store.

Charged with malicious harassment, Webb remains jailed.

Sheila Musaji: Robert Spencer and the Disappearing Articles

Robert Spencer and the disappearing articles

by Sheila Musaji
On December 21st, Robert Spencer posted an article on Jihad Watch entitled London: Flight returns to terminal after Muslim starts praying in aisle, won’t take his seat.  The article opens with the claim that “This seems to be a fairly clear provocation—maybe the praying man is hoping to provoke a “discrimination” case that will establish that praying Muslims may have the run of the airplane.”

The problem with this story is that Spencer, as is often the case, has all of his facts wrong, and that the conclusions he draws from those “facts” are purely paranoid fantasies.

It seems that the actual story (from numerous news articles from around the world) was that a Christian man who wore dreadlocks, was dark skinned and was from a Caribbean Island left his seat and knelt in the isle and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer out loud in English as the Air Malta plane began to take off from Heathrow airport headed to Malta.  The man was asked to return to his seat, refused, and this concerned passengers and crew, particularly because the man had an orange plastic shopping bag in his hands.  The plane returned to the terminal and the man was arrested.

The article has subsequently disappeared from Spencer’s site with no explanation, however, it can still be seen on a web cache.

This method of throwing out some anti-Muslim claim, then simply removing it from the website is not new to Spencer.

For example, in our lengthy article collection on Robert Spencer we have noted:
- The existence of website url’s “f**kallah.com” & “f**kislam.com” which redirected people to Spencer’s Jihad Watch site and which Loonwatch first brought to the attention of the Muslim community.  After Loonwatch noted these sites, the redirection to Jihad Watch suddenly stopped and Spencer denied having any involvement in the two sites.  The two sites still exist but now take visitors to another site with photographs of the 9/11 tragedy.

It would be possible to have at least the possibility of believing that this man at least genuinely believes the nonsense he spews about Islam and Muslims if he printed a retraction.  When instead he engages in this sort of devious behavior, it becomes obvious that his motivation is more likely fleeting fame or financial gain.