Dearborn: Muslims and Members of Other Faiths Successfully Counter Anti-Muslim Conference

MSNBC describes it as “dueling in Dearborn.” I think the real story is the rejection of Islamophobia, and the anti-Islam outsiders who arrived only to agitate:

Dueling in Dearborn over murder of a 20-year-old woman

By Kari Huus, msnbc.com

In Dearborn Mich., a Detroit suburb known for its concentration of Muslim Americans, anti-Islam leaders from around the country are gathering to discuss how to rescue women from that faith. The “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings” on Sunday is named for a local Muslim woman murdered one year ago.

But Muslims, civil rights groups and other religious leaders say the conference is merely another event put on by well-known bigots to attack the minority religion. Their response was to schedule a town hall meeting just a few miles away on Sunday called “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.”

The honor killing conference, organized by Pamela Geller, who became nationally famous for her vocal opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, aka Park 51 in Manhattan, is based on the premise that Mokdad, 20 years old when she died in April 2011, was the victim of an honor killing justified by Islam.

Mokdad’s family maintains that the killing was a tragedy that has nothing to do with their Islamic beliefs, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s not a case based on honor,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide, told the Free Press on Friday.

In court, prosecutors have said the motive for Mokdad’s killing was that her stepfather, Rahim Alfetlawi had “been sexually abusing her,” Cataldo said, according to the report. They argue that when she threatened to go public about the abuse he killed her.

Cataldo said the family strongly objects to the conference using Mokdad’s killing, which they say was a tragedy that had nothing to do with their faith.

Geller insists this was an honor killing carried out by a devout Muslim because his stepdaughter was not following Islam, and that the family is covering it up. She alleges that law enforcers systematically cover up honor killings here and elsewhere under “stealth enforcement” of Islamic shariah law.

On her web site, Geller says: “Despite pressure from the media and members of Jessica’s family who want to cover up the honor killing aspect of her murder, we are not going to change the name of the conference. Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life.”

The Dearborn conference will feature speeches by Geller and Robert Spencer — author of the blog “Jihad Watch” — as well as several like-minded legal and religious figures. They have also invited a young man who says he was Mokdad’s friend to offer “firsthand testimony” that she was a victim of honor killing.

Stop the Islamization of America, which Geller and Spencer founded, has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights watchdog.

“Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to a profile published by SPLC on its web site. ”She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims.”

The Arab American Institute, a decades-old community organization in the Detroit area, discouraged Muslims and their supporters from protesting at the site of Geller’s conference.  But they organized a competing event, said AAI president Jim Zogby, because Geller and Spencer have become too prominent to ignore.

“Geller and Spencer have thousands of followers, and are given airtime to spew their hate on major American news networks, as if they are respected analysts with just another viewpoint,” Zogby said on the AAI announcement for the “Rejecting Islamophobia” town hall in Detroit.

Although many Americans have never encountered a Muslim in person, about 43 percent questioned in a recent Gallup Poll said they felt at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

“This group, we cannot ignore. This is the time for our community to take a stand, along with all those who value America’s commitment to diversity and freedom of religion, against the politics of division and bigotry promoted by the Islamophobes.”

A variety of community, interfaith and religious leaders and Michigan public on their agenda, for a “community conversation about how to respond to these continued attacks,” said Zogby.

One participant who was just on his way to the town hall was Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group for Muslims.

“I think firstly we have to better expose who these anti-Muslim bigots are as well as their funders,” said Walid. “We believe that the Islamophobia that permeates our country is being pushed by a well-organized, highly-funded network.”

He says that while Dearborn and Detroit have become a focus for the activities of Geller and others of like mind, the problem is bigger.

“Islamophobia is a national illness,” he said.

Geert Wilders and Islamophobia in the US—on their way out?

We speculated that Wilders star was fading in Europe and that he will try to cash in on the anti-Islam buzz in the USA amongst the “fanatical anti-Islam movement.”

Geert Wilders and Islamophobia in the US—on their way out?

Published on : 30 April 2012 – 8:00am | By John Tyler (Photo: Freefoto.com)

Geert Wilders’ autobiographical book Marked for Death: Islam’s War against the West and Me will be presented in New York on Tuesday. Will his message against Islam and the West’s alleged “Islamification” still resonate in the United States? Here in the Netherlands this week’s political upheaval has seriously dented his influence.

Now that Wilders has disqualified himself from governing, relegating his party to opposition status, his political future here is limited. Even if his Freedom Party emerged as the largest in September’s elections, he would find it difficult, if not impossible, to find any coalition partners. No other party will be eager to work with a politician who has proved so unreliable.

So where does a savvy Islam-basher turn when he is down on his luck? To the United States, of course. Following her stint in Dutch politics, Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali embarked on a successful career as Islam-critic in the US. There is speculation that Wilders may follow her example.

Frequent flyer

Wilders is no stranger to American shores. He has travelled there frequently, raising money and giving lectures. He most famously gave a speech in New York in the autumn of 2010 opposing the building of a Muslim Centre a few blocks from Ground Zero. The protest against the centre gave Wilders a platform for his message against Islam. He said New York “must defend itself against the powers of darkness, the force of hatred and the blight of ignorance. …This means we must not give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us.” His speech received broad coverage in the American press.

Changed attitudes 
Two years later, however, Wilders will find that attitudes in the US have changed. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been fading. A Gallup poll released in the summer of 2011 showed that Muslims, while still facing discrimination, are more confident about their future than any other group in the US. The standard of living among Muslims is improving faster than among other groups.

Gallup researcher Mohamed Younis: “The debate about Islam flares up when something happens, but the last couple of years have been pretty quiet and the public’s interest has waned. Wilders will have a hard time selling his book right now.”

There is more evidence that the attitude toward Muslims in the US is softening. The most outspoken anti-Islam candidates in the Republican presidential primaries did not do well. Mitt Romney, who is all but certain to win the Republican nomination, is known for his moderate views on American Muslims.

As for entertainment, a reality programme called “All-American Muslim” was cancelled, not because it generated a small controversy, but because it failed to attract viewers. People were bored by the premise that Muslims were everyday, normal Americans, and the show got poor ratings. And the New York Muslim Centre Wilders tried to block is going ahead, albeit in a more modest form. The protests have petered out.

Fringe element
American opinion toward Islam may be evolving, but there’s still an energetic minority of writers and bloggers who continue to warn of the imminent danger that Islam allegedly poses to the US. The small publishing house which is bringing out Wilders’ book is a driving force in such circles.

Regnery Publishing specialises in far-right conspiracy theories and scare-mongering. Books currently featured on the website include: Fast and Furious: Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up,Secret Weapon: How Economic Terrorism Brought Down the U.S. Stock Market and Why It Can Happen Again, and After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.

The author of the last work, Mark Steyn, a fervently anti-Islam journalist from Canada, has written the introduction of Wilders’ new book. Regnery’s head, Marji Ross, says she knows Wilders’ views are seen as extreme, but “that’s what makes the book exciting and bold and newsworthy.”

Judging from the response to review copies of Marked for Death, it fails to fulfil Ms Ross’ expectations. It is reported to be a relatively dry description of how Wilders got to where he is, with hardly anything polemical about it. It also appears to lack the verve of Fitna, his short anti-Islam film of 2008.

Curiously, there is no mention of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who helped elevate Wilders to the powerful position he held for the past 18 months. On the other hand, he refers a few times to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, claiming they think along the same lines.

One reviewer said the book could be considered Wilders’ calling card to America. But in contrast to Hirsi Ali’s books Infidel and Nomad, published by mainstream houses and selling well, Marked for Death is not likely to attract a wide readership outside the fanatical anti-Islam movement.

Deafening silence
When Wilders spoke in parliament earlier this week after bringing down the government, MPs largely ignored him. With one exception, no one bothered to confront him. Apart from a few trusted Islam bashers, the broader public in the US may greet Wilders with the same deafening silence.

(cl)

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Britain’s Far Right to Focus on Anti-Islamic Policy

A follow up to our lead story.

Britain’s far right to focus on anti-Islamic policy

The head of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, will be named deputy leader of the British Freedom party this week after proposing that the group adopt virulent anti-Islamic policies as its central strategy.

Confirmation that Robinson is to be offered a political platform within the BFP is contained in internal documents revealing that he has forwarded a number of “potential policy suggestions” that suggest the party will widen its attacks on Muslims.

The document suggests the BFP with Robinson would “focus on non-Islamic population, not white/black population”, a move that critics describe as an attempt to antagonise relations between Muslims and other Britons. Other proposed areas of campaigning for the party, which will contest several seats in this week’s local elections, include calls for regulation of all mosques and religious schools and the banning of the burqa and niqab.

The unveiling of Robinson as deputy leader of the British Freedom Party will take place in Luton ahead of an EDL demo in the town, during which supporters will be banned from its centre by police, following previous disturbances.

Last week, a BFP member tweeted his support for Norwegian killer Anders Breivik, while an EDL member defended the 34-year-old, currently on trial in Oslo after confessing to the murder of 77 people last July, and said that if he had “singled out the muslim filth” he would be viewed as a hero.

Internal notes of a meeting held in a Luton hotel between senior EDL and BFP figures on 14 April, which have been seen by the Observer, reveal that participants believe the alliance is a development that “will change the direction of British politics”.

However Nick Lowles of campaign group Hope not Hate said: “Although this shows the new face of the far right, a move that further marginalises the BNP, their agenda is so hate-filled that it will remain a minority message.”

Robinson and the BFP have yet to comment, but the documents show that he backs a ban on the building of mosques and madrassas, an end to mass immigration, withdrawal from the EU, and promotion of “Christian values”.

Last week a report by Amnesty International warned of the rise of extremist political movements targeting Muslim practices in Europe, a development evidenced by the surprisingly strong showing of support for the French Front National, the far-right party led by Marine Le Pen, in France’s presidential election. It also said that European laws on what girls and women could wear on their heads were encouraging discrimination against Muslims.

Observer, 29 April 2012

BFP Organiser Who Said ‘Muslims are Bearded Scum’ Claims Party is ‘Centre Right’

More intriguing info. on Stephen Lennon’s British “Freedom” Party:

BFP organiser claims party is ‘centre right’

Lynn News has published an update on the controversy over the proposed conversion of a disused King’s Lynn pub into an Islamic community centre.

They interview Stephen Tweed of the British Freedom Party who has been organising a campaign against the development. Tweed claims that his objections to the mosque are concerned only with noise and parking. He states that he is not a racist and that his party is “centre right”.

This from a man who describes King’s Lynn’s Muslim community as “bearded scum”, denounces ”complacent, wishy-washy liberal governments” for having “let Muslim immigrants flood in”, calls for “the banning of the Koran” and “an immediate stop to the building of mosques anywhere”, has a photo of a burning mosque as hisprofile picture on Facebook, and is the Norfolk organiser of a party launched by former prominent figures in the fascist British National Party, one of whom recently commented that he “couldn’t care less” about the young people killed by Anders Breivik because they were “leftist youths” who would “grow up to betray Norway”.

Tweed will be raising his concerns about “noise and parking” on Monday at a meeting of West Norfolk Council’s planning committee, which has been recommended to approve the application to convert the pub into a community centre. Hopefully the committee will take into consideration Tweed’s repulsive political beliefs and treat his arguments accordingly.

Stephen Lennon Appointed Deputy Leader of The British Freedom Party

EDL_Robinson_BFPStephen Lennon (aka. Tommy Robinson) set to join the BFP (Image credit to Hopenothate.uk)

(Readers, please welcome Haddock, a new contributor to LoonWatch.)

Co-founder of the English Defence League, Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) is to be appointed “deputy leader” of the British Freedom Party come May 5th, 2012, just a few short hours before an EDL demonstration in Luton, according to EDL News.

The BFP, which came about due to a split within the British National Party (which itself came about due to a split within the National Front organization), has increasingly focused their bigotry onto Muslims in an attempt to make racism more “acceptable” in the eyes of a segment of the public who may find some of the “old guard” racism (Blacks, Jews, etc.) problematic.

The two organizations decided to form an alliance in November, 2011 after agreeing that they had a better chance at “helping the Cause” if they worked together. The intended platform for the new alliance is typical fodder for anti-Muslim racists; calls to “ban the Burka,” forbid the establishment of new mosques, “madrassas” (by that they mean any Islamic schools) and “Sharia law” in “all forms”, including “Sharia finance.”

Another strategy they have decided on is to “Focus” on the “non-Islamic” population, in order to convince “useful idiots” of all colors and creeds to set themselves upon the Muslim population; all the while still holding onto their “regular” racist beliefs.

I find it hard, for example, to picture them hanging out with their fellow Black, Jewish, and Hindu Islamophobic cohorts as “buddies,” after everything is said and done.

Some of their other loving policy suggestions include the following vignettes,

End to mass immigration, except for vital (highly qualified positions). Immigrants must undergo health check, have a sponsor, have sufficient funds to support them and their families and must be able to speak/write English.”

Have a system in place to regulate all mosques & madrassas

Leave the European Union.”

Promote Christian values.”

The BFP has also decided to be extremely creative and change their name to simply British Freedom, so that people won’t confuse them with the BNP. In a strange twist of irony, the parent organization of the BNP, the National Front, is beginning to see a comeback after jumping on the anti-Muslim bandwagon. The organization was popular among the far-right in the 1970’s, when it was more socially acceptable to advocate “roots” racism. According to Islamophobia-Watch,

At next month’s London Assembly, local council and mayoral elections it  [National Front] is putting up 35 candidates – the highest number it has fielded for 30 years. Among its hopefuls is a businessman once convicted of assaulting an anti-racism campaigner who hopes to be the first directly elected mayor of Liverpool; a former BNP supporter arrested for burning a copy of the Koran; and Derek Beackon, the notorious far-right councillor.

Classy folks.

This just demonstrates the power of Islamophobia. The fact that a nearly defunct organization that had its heyday in the late 70’s, is able to momentarily drag itself out of bed while in a drunken stupor proves that the anti-Muslim niche works. The same is true for the BNP, who has in recent years hopped onto the “it’s the Muslims vs. the rest of us” bandwagon, despite the fact that its members still hold onto their other racialist beliefs. But hey, “the enemy of my enemy, is my friend”, right?

If there is any silver lining in all of this, it is this; most British people simply don’t like thugs who resort to violence to make their points. This is why the EDL is viewed as an embarrassment (at least publicly) even to some racists; they reveal what racism is truly about, and reality face to face makes most people uncomfortable.

That’s bad publicity for people trying to impose an agenda onto others. Recall that Hitler eventually abolished the SA because he realized that his street thugs were making a bad impression on his so-called “noble Cause.” Bob Pitt of Islamophobia-Watch says it better than me:

Some have suggested that the EDL-BFP lash-up is an example of the classic fascist strategy of building a movement with a physical force and an electoral wing. The theory behind the strategy is that by showing you control the streets and can intimidate your opponents you win admiration as a powerful movement that will be able to impose order on society and this translates into increased votes.

But this strategy is based on the successes of Mussolini and Hitler in situations of extreme economic, social and political crisis, where large numbers of people turned to the leadership of the far right out of sheer desperation. No crisis of such proportions has occurred in Britain and despite the current economic problems there is no sign of it doing so any time soon. Consequently when the far right takes to the streets of the UK with a mob of racist thugs this doesn’t impress people with the strength of the organisation and boost electoral support. Quite the opposite – voters are repelled by a movement whose public face is that of a gang of violent hooligans.

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

The new myth is that Islam somehow promotes…*drum roll*…necrophilia!

While you can likely find a fatwa for everything, when the recent story claiming that the “Egyptian parliament was considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death” went viral, the BS meter shot up pretty high for us.

But not for many mainstream media outlets who ran with the story without fact checking, thereby reinforcing Islamophobic myths and anti-Islam talking points.

Despite the ardent desire on behalf of Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer (he saw it as evidence of Sharia’ takeover) for the story to be true it was revealed pretty quickly that it was a hoax.

Spencer still has not updated the story to point out that it was a hoax. Now a lot of the haters have egg on their faces, this is not the first or the last time that such lies will be promoted in the media.(h/t:ZH)

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

(Christian Science Monitor)

Today, Egypt‘s state-owned Al Ahram newspaper published an opinion piece by Amr Abdul Samea, a past stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, that contained a bombshell: Egypt’s parliament is considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death.

It was soon mentioned in an English language version of Al-Arabiya and immediately started zipping around social-networking sites. By this afternoon it had set news sites and the rest of the Internet on fire. It has every thing: The yuck factor, “those creepy Muslims” factor, the lulz factor for those with a sick sense of humor. The non-fact-checked Daily Mail picked it up and reported it as fact. Then Andrew Sullivan, who has a highly influential blog but is frequently lax about fact-checking, gave it a boost with an uncritical take. TheHuffington Post went there, too.

There’s of course one problem: The chances of any such piece of legislation being considered by the Egyptian parliament for a vote is zero. And the chance of it ever passing is less than that. In fact, color me highly skeptical that anyone is even trying to advance a piece of legislation like this through Egypt’s parliament. I’m willing to be proven wrong. It’s possible that there’s one or two lawmakers completely out of step with the rest of parliament. Maybe.

SEE ALSO – IN PICTURES: Behind the veil

But extreme, not to mention inflammatory claims, need at minimum some evidence (and I’ve read my share of utter nonsense in Al Ahram over the years). The evidence right now? Zero.

There was a Moroccan cleric a few years back who apparently did issue a religious ruling saying that husbands remained married to their wives in the first six hours after death and, so, well, you know. But that guy is far, far out on the nutty fringe. How fringe? He also ruled that pregnant women can drink alcohol. Remember, alcohol is considered haram, forbidden, by the vast majority of the world’s Muslim scholars. Putting an unborn child at risk to get drunk? No, that’s just not what they do. Whatever the mainstream’s unpalatable beliefs (there are plenty from my perspective) this isn’t one of them.

It’s important to remember that the structure of the Muslim clergy is, by and large, like that of a number of Protestant Christian sects. Anyone can put out a shingle and declare themselves a preacher. The ones to pay attention to are the ones with large followings, or attachment to major institutions of Islamic learning. The preacher in Morocco is like the preacher in Florida who spent so much time and energy publicizing the burning of Qurans.

Stories like this are a reminder of the downside of the Internet. It makes fact-checking and monitoring easier. But the proliferation of aggregation sites, newsy blog sites, and the general erosion of editorial standards (and on-the-ground reporters to do the heavy lifting) also spreads silliness faster than it ever could before.

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Jessica_Mokdad
Jessica Mokdad “loved Islam” according to her parents.

Striking back and rejecting Islamophobia:

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Dearborn, home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Arab Americans, once again will become a focal point for debate over the practice and persecution of Islam in the west.

Pamela Geller, conservative activist and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, is scheduled to host the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The event is named after a 20-year-old woman fatally shot by her stepfather last year in Warren. Initial reports suggested Rahim Alfetlawi shot Mokdad because he believed she had strayed from Islam, but prosecutors have since said that religion did not play a role.

Despite opposition from family members who say Mokdad’s murder has nothing to do with Islam, Geller has refused to rename the conference, suggesting an attempt to cover up what she continues to call an “honor killing.”

“Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life,” Geller said in a statement announcing the conference.

Local leaders say the conference is misleading and argue that Dearborn has become a convenient target for anti-Muslim groups, pointing to recent protests led by activist Pastor Terry Jones.

To counter Geller’s conference, The Arab American Institute and partners have scheduled a competing town hall on Sunday titled “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.” It is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn.

“This is clearly not the first time our community in Michigan has had to deal with a hate group,” AAI President Jim Zogby said in a statement. “Despite repeated efforts to target Arab Americans and American Muslims, the community has remained resilient and poised, sometimes choosing to ignore the fervor.

“This group we cannot ignore and this is the time to stand up and make our voices loud and clear in opposition to the politics of division and bigotry.”

Anders Behring Breivik’s destructive actions will not define a nation’s response and the lesson’s learned: (h/t: Roger via. Islamophobia Today)

In Norway’s Tragedy and a Nation’s Response Lies a Lesson For Us All

International media has been gripped by the trial of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. A self-declared ‘Knights Templar Crusader’ who believed he was acting in ‘defense’ of Norway by killing a future generation of aspiring Leftist leaders he accused of abetting the ‘Islamization’ of Europe.

During the initial reporting of the rampage the speculation of who or what could be behind the attack was rife, most media outlets zeroed in on Muslims with many (mis)attributing the attacks to ‘Islam.’

“AlQaeda”… “the Muslims, who else,” many thought and were told. The rush to judgement was swift.

When the culprit was captured, Breivik’s Scandanavian features and anti-Islam manifesto belied the narratives swirling in the media, shell shocking a media-world expecting the arrest of a “disgruntled, unintegrated, bearded ‘brown’ emigre” from a Muslim majority nation.

Breivik’s ideology was formed in the far recesses of the internet, within the chambers of the blogosphere, where anti-Islam rhetoric coupled with conspiracies about the pending decline of the West created a toxic lethal cocktail of xenophobia and violent bigotry.

Ironically, Breivik claimed to be acting in the name of “Christianity,” claiming to be a scion and reviver of the medieval “Knights Templar” order of Crusaders, defending Europe from Islam while preserving its “Christian” culture and identity.

In the swift “rush to judgement” and the resultant revelation that the actual perpetrator of the atrocities in Oslo and Utoya was a man claiming to act in the interests of “Christianity” lies a lesson for us all.

It is well known that Christianity is a religion that promotes peace. The overwhelming majority of Christians in the world are averse to violence against innocents and view murder in the name of “Christ” as both illegitimate and unchristian. Just as we must recognize that the great religion of Christianity cannot be besmirched by the actions of a lone man, we must also ask the opinion-makers to be consistent and declare that Islam should not be essentialized as a “religion of violence” because of the actions of a lunatic fringe.

There is also another lesson that we can take away from the violence in Norway, and it relates to the response of the Norwegian people to the attacks.

Anger, a natural fiery fuel with the potential to engulf was present early on, but its tide ebbed because of the response of a nation. They were resolved, resolute that their disposition was not going to suffer a paradigm shift because of the actions of one man.

Quickly, the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg who suffered his own personal loss in the attacks said, “we will respond to hate with our values.” A nation mourned, Christians and Muslims held joint services, healing songs were sung, and flowers left by citizens covered the destroyed, mangled concrete at the scene of the attacks.

A need to cover up the ugly…a need to respond to it with beauty. This characterized the essence of the collective Norwegian spirit, not a turn to fear and hate, but a response that said, ‘we will uphold our values.’ A reminder, it seemed to me, of the oft-repeated Quranic maxim, “return evil with good.”

Beauty will face ugliness and transform it, as the famous tradition relates, “God is beautiful and loves beauty.” In the response of the Norwegians to the nightmare of Oslo and Utoya lies a lesson for all of us, do not succumb to fear and hate, instead respond to it with justice, goodness and love of the most beautiful kind.

Anti-Islamism common amongst the over 60s

Anti-Islam_Blogs

Another reason people may be turned off and or leave the anti-Islam bandwagon may be because they appeal to an older, lonely, above 60′s year old crowd.

Youth really don’t seem to care about the ‘counter jihad’ so much, as Reza Aslan pointed out most youth are more interested in Snookie’s “underwear” than they are topics related to bigotry or geo-politics (via. Islamophobia-Today):

Anti-Islamism common amongst the over 60s

Men at home over 65, with little education and no children reportedly represent the average reader of anti-Islam websites.

Klassekampen writes it used Alexa to examine eight sites that allegedly inspired Anders Behring Breivik and his manifesto. It claims its investigations revealed readership groups to websites Gates of Vienna, Jihad Watch, The Brussels Journal, Islam Watch, Atlas Shrugged, Tundra Tabloid, Vladtepesblog and The Green Arrow showed a clear pattern.

When presented with the results, Andreas Malm, journalist and author of the book ‘The Hate against Muslims’, told the paper, “The typical profile of conspiracy theorists are elderly, lonely men, who become obsessed with a particular question, and who may be attracted to anti-Islamic conspiracy theories.”

“There is a preponderance of older men, often unemployed, who may feel ostracized from society, and seeking for an explanation and a scapegoat,” he declared.

Tor Bach, editor of the magazine ‘Vepsen’, is not surprised. He adds that the anti-Islam organizations’ groups of older members share a common “mistrust of society and the democratic system, sincerely believing someone wishes them harm.”

“These people [also] fully believe in the existence of a conspiracy, where the Arab world will take over the European one,” concluded Mr Bach.

Original post: Anti-Islamism common amongst the over 60s

http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/04/why-do-they-hate-us-they-dont/

Mona Eltahawy, an Arab-American journalist, created a firestorm when Foreign Policy Magazine published her article “Why Do They Hate Us?”.  If you thought the they and us refers to Muslims and Americans, you’d be wrong.  In fact, they is Arab men, and us is women.  Her article is a stabbing critique of Arab culture, which she finds to be heavily misogynistic.

If that wasn’t provocative enough, she goes further: according to her, these Arab men hate women.  ”Yes: They hate us. It must be said.”  To prove her argument, she issues a challenge: “Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses [against women] fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion.”  The rest of the article is a recitation of that litany, interspersed with jazzy catchphrases such as “[w]e are more than our headscarves and our hymens” and “poke the hatred in its eye.”

There is no way to deny the basic premise that the status of women’s rights in the Arab world is abysmal.  Why then did Mona Eltahawy evoke such a hostile reaction from even the Arab women whose rights she seeks to protect?  The easy answer, one that Eltahawy and her supporters might argue, is that these women are simply brainwashed.  Too much “Islamism” in their little brains.  The problem with this argument is that it’s sexist.  It’s basically saying Arab women are too stupid to think for themselves.

The real reason that Arab women recoil after reading Eltahawy’s article is that, while she tries to connect to them based on their gender, she attacks other aspects of their core identity: their race, nationality, religion, and culture.  In fact, her racist (and somewhat babbling) screed is nothing short of a vicious attack on their entire civilization.

Eltahawy cites “a toxic mix of culture and religion” as the source of the abuses against women.  Oddly, she later says, “You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ to do X, Y, or Z to women.”  Yet, it is Mona Eltahawy herself who is arguing precisely that.

By attacking their core identity, Eltahawy has succeeded in alienating her own audience.  Imagine, for instance, an American feminist arguing for greater rights for African women, while at the same time assailing the black race, African culture, and traditional tribal religion.  How receptive or thankful do you think these African women would be?  How pleased would the black or African community be if someone was writing articles about how backwards their culture is?

Mona Eltahawy’s article engages in trite, racial stereotypes.  Legitimate problems in the Arab world are sensationalized.  They hate women.  What an absurd exaggeration!  They have mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters–and it is reasonable to assume that, like other human beings on earth, they love them.

A man can love his wife and still abuse her.  He can have undying affection for his daughter but still wrong her in horrible ways.  But, by going so far as to say they hate women, Eltahawy has dehumanized them.  One recalls similar invective against Palestinian parents: they don’t love their children.  The message being sent is: they are worse than animals.

Women’s rights is an area of concern in many parts of the developing world, not just the Arab world.  Why single out Arabs?  Women face major obstacles in India.  Should we demonize the Hindu religion and the great Indian civilization?

Eltahawy lists off “a litany of abuses”, bringing up extreme cases to make her point.  By citing isolated cases and stacking them all up together, she ends up portraying an imbalanced and biased picture of the Arab world.

Racists don’t see nuance.  They lump all people of a certain group altogether.  That’s exactly what Mona Eltahawy does in her article.  She paints the entire people of that region–or at least its men–with one broad bush.  They hate women.  All 170 million of them.

In fact, not all Arabs are alike.  During my travels in the Muslim world, I saw all sorts of people, with a broad diversity of views.  I met conservative Muslims, liberal Muslims, atheists, Christians, Communists, hippies, you name it.  No sweeping generalization could be made about them (aside for, perhaps, their disgust of American foreign policy).

It is true that I was deeply disturbed by the mistreatment of women, religious and ethnic minorities, poor people, servants, and animals.  But, I also met people there–men, no less–who were also deeply disturbed by these things and would have no part in it.

Just as the viral Kony 2012 video drew criticism for reinforcing the idea of White Man’s Burden, so too does Mona Eltahawy’s article tap into historically racist Orientalist attitudes towards the Arab world.

By firmly pegging abuses against women to the Arab culture and Muslim religion, Mona Eltahawy’s article was nothing short of bigotry.  Indeed, one could hardly tell the difference between Eltahawy’s article and what could normally be found sprawled on numerous Islamophobic websites, such as Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs.  It is almost a surety that her article will be approvingly cited on such sites, which pit “our civilized, freedom-loving civilization” against “those barbaric, women-hating peoples.”

Had Mona Eltahawy been just any ole’ Islamophobe hacking away at the keyboard–had she been a Robert Spencer or a Pamela Geller–her article would hardly have made headlines.  It would have been just one of thousands and thousands of such hateful rants on the internet by anti-Muslim trolls.  But, like Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani, Mona Eltahawy has an official “I’m a Muslim” card.  That’s even better than the official “I’m an ex-Muslim” card that bigots like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Nonie Darwish proudly carry.  It’s probably even a step above the “I’m a former jihadi terrorist” gold card.  Eltahawy holds the platinum card and gets extra points for being a woman.

As other pundits have noted, Mona Eltahawy is–along with Irshad Manji, Asra Nomani, Tarek Fatah, Zuhdi Jasser, etc.–acting in the role of the “native informant.”  Monica L. Marks writes on the Huffington Post:

Why Do They Hate Us?” asks the latest cover of Foreign Policy magazine. Beneath the title stands a cowering woman wearing nothing but black body paint resembling the niqab, or full Islamic face veil.

Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy authored the article. Her central contention — that Arab Muslim culture “hates” women — resurrects a raft of powerful stereotypes regarding Islam and misogyny. It also situates Ms. Eltahawy’s work within a growing trend of “native informants” whose personal testimonies of oppression under Islam have generated significant support for military aggression against Muslim-majority countries in recent years.

Books by these “native voices” — including Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel,” Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita” in Tehran, and Irshad Mandji’s “Faith Without Fear” — have flown off the shelves in post-9/11 America despite being roundly rebuffed by leading feminist academics such as Columbia University’s Lila Abu-Lughod and Yale’s Leila Ahmed. Saba Mahmood, another respected scholar, noted that native informants helped “manufacture consent” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by serving up fear-inducing portrayals of Islam in “an authentic Muslim woman’s voice.”

Although such depictions have proven largely inaccurate and guilty of extreme generalizations, they have become immensely popular. Why? Because these native “testimonials” tell us what we in the West already know — that there’s something inherently misogynistic about Muslims and Arabs.

By stirring up our sympathies and reinforcing our prejudices, individuals like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Eltahawy have climbed to the top of the media ladder. Their voices are drowning out the messages of more nuanced, well-respected scholars.

Marks goes on to say:

Her fault lies in extrapolating broad cultural judgments from context-specific abuses, implying that Islam and Arab culture writ large are have toxically combined to create a hopelessly backward region that “treats half of humanity like animals.”

These native informants just tell us what we want to hear.  Their job is to increase hatred of Arabs and Muslims, something that is needed in order to sustain our multiple wars of aggression in that part of the world.

Native informants do not help fix the problems they point to.  Why, for example, did Mona Eltahawy choose to publish her article in Foreign Policy, an American magazine?  Why didn’t she write it for an Arab/Arabic publication, with a primarily Arab readership?

Instead she chose Foreign Policy Magazine, which was founded by none other than Samuel P. Huntington.  His famous Clash of Civilizations theory pit the Judeo-Christian West against the Muslim world.  How very fitting that Mona Eltahawy’s us vs. them article was published in the magazine he founded.

Eltahawy’s audience is clear:

You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ to do X, Y, or Z to women.

Monica Marks writes:

 It is important for her readers, however, to understand the dangers of sensationalist coverage that over-simplify complex matters of gender, politics, and religious observance in Muslim-majority countries.

History is rife with examples of seemingly women-friendly arguments hijacked in the service of imperialistic and aggressive ends. While emotional and sensationalist portrayals such as this most recent Foreign Policy cover will sell copies, they do little to deepen our understanding of the contexts and conditions shaping women’s oppression in Arab countries today.

Indeed, the issue of human rights was routinely used by the colonial powers to justify the conquest and expropriation of land.  The Americas, including the land that is now the United States, was brutally conquered and stolen by Europeans on this very basis.  The indigenous peoples were portrayed as savages needing civilizing.  The white man would bring them “democracy”, “freedom”, and “civilization” (Operation Iraqi Freedom?).

In her article, Mona Eltahawi enumerates numerous abuses Arab women face.  However, none of these inhumanities–not even female genital mutilation–can be considered as problematic as the cannibalism and human sacrifice that the indigenous peoples of the Americas sometimes engaged in.  And yet, whatever failings the indigenous peoples had in their culture and civilization, it is now widely understood who the real savage was.

We can continue to pat ourselves on the back for how civilized we are, how free our women are, how we are so much better than them.  But, none of that will change the fact that we are the ones waging wars of aggression and occupation in the Muslim world.  We are the ones killing hundreds of thousands of their innocent men, women, and children.

It was in another article, also published in Foreign Policy with almost the exact same title–Why They Hate Us?–that Prof. Stephen Walt calculated the number of Muslim lives the U.S. has extinguished:  “a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities…is well over one million, equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.”  To use a jazzy catchphrase of my own: mutilating a baby girl’s genitals is horrible, but dropping a bomb on her head is much worse.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.