Northeastern University SJP chapter suspended as members are subjected to police interrogation

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Students for Justice in Palestine activists at a conference at Columbia University in 2011. (Photo: Columbia SJP)

 

Northeastern University SJP chapter suspended as members are subjected to police interrogation

By Max Blumenthal (MondoWeiss)The Islamophobia network led by the anti-Muslim hatemonger Charles Jacobs has been deeply involved in smearing NEU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. This is an unprecedented attack on student rights and academic freedom.

On March 7, members of Northeastern University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were informed by the school’s Center for Student Involvement that their chapter had been suspended for at least a year.

In a letter sent to the SJP chapter and provided to me by Max Geller, a second year Northeastern University School of Law student who actively campaigns with SJP, the school’s Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Jason Campbell-Foster, offered a litany of charges against the students. At the top of the list was the SJP’s February 24 distribution of notices across Northeastern campuses that mocked the sort of eviction notices slapped on Palestinian homes slated for Israeli demolition – an awareness-raising tactic increasing in popularity among SJP chapters nationwide.

“You have not shown a concerted effort to improve your practices and educate your members on how to properly operate your organization within the boundaries of university policy,” Northeastern’s Campbell-Foster wrote.

According to Campbell-Foster’s letter, all current members of Northeastern SJP’s current executive board are permanently banned from serving on any future board in the organization. Further, SJP members must undergo a strict regimen of trainings led by university administrators as a condition for reinstatement.

On the morning of February 25, two days after Northeastern SJP members distributed mock eviction notices throughout campus dormitories, all Northeastern students received an email from Robert Jose, Northeastern’s Associate Dean for Cultural and Residential Life. “We do not condone any behavior that causes members of our community to feel targeted and/or intimidated,” Jose wrote.

Jose urged students to express “how this has impacted [them]” by contacting school administrators and the Hillel House of Northeastern, an explicitly pro-Israel Jewish communal organization committed to countering SJP-related activism.

letter that appeared almost simultaneously on Northeastern’s Hillel’s website announced, “Rather than seeking to prompt dialogue, the fake eviction notices alarmed and intimidated students in their homes, in clear violation of Northeastern policy. We are in communication with Student Affairs regarding this incident, who have been quick to respond to student concerns. The administration is working with the Northeastern University Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation.”

At 10 AM that same day, members of Northeastern SJP received phone calls and visits from campus police officers. “All of the sudden the school was accusing us of an act of criminality for simply [an] act of leafleting,” remarked Geller. “A special investigation was launched for what the university claimed was a petty handbook violation and NYPD-style tactics were used against students. It was so disproportionate to what happened and a complete misappropriation of university funds.”

Geller told me the first Northeastern SJP members to be visited by teams of university police were Muslim and Arab members. “They were freaked out and scared,” he recalled. “It’s hard enough being a brown person with an Arabic name on campus. Now imagine what it was like being treated like a criminal for handing out fliers.” (Full disclosure: Geller hosted me for a discussion of my book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, at Northeastern on January 7).

Following the police investigations, the university has pursued disciplinary sanctions against two SJP members, accusing them of “endangering behavior” and threatening them with expulsion for their involvement in the mock eviction action. They happen to be the only women of color in the Northeastern SJP chapter.

According to Geller, neither student was involved in a leadership role in the organization or in the leafleting action. “It is so arbitrary and Kafkaesque what the school has done,” he said. “Instead of going after the actual leadership they are targeting two women of color with Muslim backgrounds.”

The suspension of Northeastern SJP is the culmination of a long-running campaign against the group led by powerful pro-Israel outfits based in Boston. The campaign began in the wake of David Project founder Charles Jacobs’ failed campaign to prevent the construction of the Islamic Community Center of Boston in the predominately African-American neighborhood of Roxbury. Jacobs, an outspoken anti-Muslim activist who has referred to mosques as “victory markers,” turned his attention to Northeastern, which lays just on the border of Roxbury.

Through his newly minted front group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (AFPT), Jacobs orchestrated a campaign called “Shame on NEU.” On the group’s website, Jacobs promoted editorials baselessly accusing Northeastern SJP of “Call[ing] for the Murder of Jews” and “Cheerlead[ing] Hamas.” Together with Richard Cravatts, a communications professor at Boston University who leads the pro-Israel outfit Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Jacobs claimed SJP was comprised of “anti-Semites, Israel haters” seeking to “justify a second Holocaust, the mass murder of Jews” and possessed with “an irrational, seething animus against the Jew of nations, Israel.”

On July 5, 2013, Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun received a breathless twelve-page letter from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) demanding an investigation of three professors – Dennis Sullivan, Berna Turam, and M. Shahid Alam – accused by the organization of fostering a “hostile environment” for pro-Israel and Jewish students. Further, the ZOA demanded a review of course material to ensure it adhered to a strictly pro-Israel ideological line, and that the school punish “wrongdoers” for political activities both on and off campus. “Many Jewish students are feeling marginalized and even threatened on campus, afraid to express they are Jewish and pro-Israel,” ZOA President Morton Klein claimed in the letter, which was promptly reproduced and promoted on the website of Jacobs’ AFPT.

The Anti-Defamation League bolstered the ZOA and Jacobs’ crusade against Palestine solidarity at Northeastern by sending a letter of its own to Aoun demanding action against the “anti-Israel” professors.

The ZOA is a far-right organization that supports continuous, unrestricted Israeli settlement activity and the annexation of the occupied West Bank. Its national Vice Chairman, Steven Goldberg, has said that Jews who protest settlement activity are “mutants” who should have been aborted.

CC’ed on the ZOA letter to Northeastern was Robert Shillman, the multi-millionaire CEO of Cognex Corporation. A graduate of Northeastern, Shillman is identified [PDF] in the ZOA’s newsletter as “a major supporter” of the organization. Shillman has pumped his fortune into right-wing Zionist causes from the ZOA to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which has back-channeled funding to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer – far-right extremists identified as anti-Muslim hate group leaders by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Geller has promoted an inflammatory 32-minute Americans for Peace and Tolerance video on her blog accusing Sullivan, a professor of international affairs and the director of the university’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development, of supporting terrorism and “shocking Jew hatred.”)

Shillman also happens to be a top contributor to Northeastern, having donating $3 million for the construction of a new classroom building in 1999 – Shillman Hall.Though Shillman is still alive, a statue of his likeness stands in the center of Northeastern’s campus, just outside the hall bearing his name.

Another wealthy pro-Israel donor who has exerted his influence over Northeastern is Seth Klarman, the hedge fund billionaire who acts as a principal financial angel for Jacobs’ political empire. Besides having backed Jacobs-founded outfits like the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and The David Project, Klarman is a major donor to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. And it is through the Combined Philanthropies, according to a review of 990 forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, that the Hillel of Northeastern University received the vast majority of its funding in 2009 — $27,509 in all.

Under the tenure of President Aoun, a Lebanese Christian born in Beirut, pro-Israel forces in Boston have exerted their influence against an exceptionally malleable administration. In December, Aoun condemned the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions involved in the occupation of Palestine, declaring, “Political differences indeed heighten, not diminish, the importance of unfettered discourse among scholars.”

The campaign against Northeastern SJP escalated when Jacobs’ AFPT created a Facebook page called, “Exposing Islamic Extremism at Northeastern University.”Threats poured in through the page, both publicly and privately, according to Geller. As Northeastern University Middle East Studies MA candidate and SJP board member Ryan Branagan documented at Electronic Intifada, one commenter said of Geller, “I would seriously introduce that kid to the inside of an ambulance.” Geller said he began receiving threats targeting his family when his parents’ home address was posted online.

In June, Northeastern SJP was placed on administrative probation and warned against future “transgressions” after its members staged a brief walkout protest of a presentation on campus by Israeli soldiers. The students were forced to issue a “statement of civility” afterwards by university administrators. The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham described the sanctioning of SJP as a symbol of the transformation of American universities into “overpriced country clubs with climbing walls, sushi, and a culture of enforced politeness that is downright depressing.”

With the suspension of its SJP chapter, Northeastern University has awarded Boston-area pro-Israel outfits the prize they had been seeking. According to Geller, the episode provides the clearest proof yet that Northeastern’s administration “is more interested in appeasing outside astroturfed Zionist groups than in fostering an environment where the vigorous exchange of ideas can take place.”

My calls seeking comments from Northeastern University Center for Student Involvement were not returned.

From Moses to Moses: Traversing two Maimonides Quotes on Muslims

From Moses to Moses: Traversing two Maimonides Quotes on Muslims

March 30 marks the birthday of Moses Maimonides. As such, it seemed to be a good time to discuss two of his quotes that have been used in discussions of Islam and Islamophobia in part due to the range of views that seem to be expressed in them by the same author.

Original Guest Post

By JustStoppingBy

Recently, Robert Spencer tried to make a distinction between Allah and God, arguing that “even though they may share a name, any examination of the particulars of Christian and Islamic theology reveals that the deities in question are quite different in character.”

Note that Spencer does not say that Christians and Muslims have “different views of the same deity” but discusses “the deities in question.” In doing this, he invites the reader to reach the conclusion that the “Muslim Allah” is not the same as the “Christian God.” Danios has already provided a thorough explanation on the use of the term Allah by Jews and Christians in pre-Islamic times. As Danios points out, a common Islamophobic response is to claim that Muslims appropriated the term Allah while referring to a different entity, perhaps a moon god, but not to the god that Jews and Christians worship.

To further create a distinction between Allah and the Christian God, Spencer has asked whether the hajj is an act of apostasy based on his claims that the rites involved in the hajj are of Hindu origin. Of course, it is widely accepted that polytheists made pilgrimages to Mecca and that the Ka’bah was a pagan shrine that contained idols before the advent of Islam, including a belief that pre-Islamic pilgrims to Mecca, “[w]ith all their polytheism and idolatry, they too used to circle the Ka’bah and kiss the Black Stone.” So, even if Spencer were right, that would not seem to be a particularly Earth-shattering revelation.

Since many who propound this “deities” theory won’t listen to Danios perhaps they will listen to some other views. We can start by moving a little away from the Christian-Muslim deity distinction that Spencer wants to draw and referring to a statement by perhaps the most renowned post-Biblical Jewish scholar, Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Rambam). In Responsa #448, Maimonides writes as follows (ellipses in Wikipedia, bolding added; alternate translation also available):

The Ishmaelites are not at all idolaters; [idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts; and they attribute to God a proper unity, a unity concerning which there is no doubt. And because they lie about us, and falsely attribute to us the statement that God has a son, is no reason for us to lie about them and say that they are idolaters … And should anyone say that the house that they honor [the Kaaba] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship,then what of it? The hearts of those who bow down toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven … [Regarding] the Ishmaelites today – idolatry has been severed from the mouths of all of them [including] women and children. Their error and foolishness is in other things which cannot be put into writing because of the renegades and wicked among Israel [i.e., apostates]. But as regards the unity of God they have no error at all.

Maimonides’ life covered various phases of Muslim-Jewish relations. Maimonides was born in Córdoba in 1135, at the tail end of the longest potential extent of the “Golden Age” of Spanish Jewry, which saw the blossoming of Jewish culture and the attainment by individual Jews of high positions in commercial and public life. As a result of the Arab political dominance, Maimonides knew Arabic, read many texts in Arabic, and composed many of his most famous works in Arabic and referred to God as Allah in his Arabic writing.

In 1148, Córdoba was conquered by the Almohads, an Berber-Muslim dynasty that revoked the dhimmi status of Jews. There is, no doubt, much debate about the quality of the life of a dhimmi, but scholars have noted that “in any historical case, these relatively abstract and general provisions of the dhimma could and did materialize as either a tolerant and even liberating arrangement, or at the other extreme, a culturally repressive policy within which religious freedom is a hollow formality.” (María Rosa Monocal, The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain,” p. 73. Garibaldi reviews the book here.) Life for Jews under the Almohads went from the previous tolerant and liberating arrangement to the other extreme, with the result that “[m]any Jews were forced to convert, but due to suspicion by the authorities of fake conversions, the new converts had to wear identifying clothing that set them apart and made them available to public scrutiny with many forced to convert or go into exile.” The point of this is not to dwell on history, but to put Maimonides’ responsa into context. It was written not by someone who had experienced only positive relations between Muslims and Jews, but who had also witnessed among the harshest of relations. And one should note that after fleeing Córdoba, Maimonides eventually again found himself in a place where he could establish good relations with Muslim authorities, becoming court physician to Saladin.

So, what does Maimonides have to say about how Muslims view God? Returning to the quote, we see that Maimonides says that “[idolatry] has long been severed from their mouths and hearts.” This, is in fact the same story told in Islam’s view of its own history: before Muhammad, the Ishmaelites (as Maimonides refers to them) in and around Mecca were idolaters. But, since the advent of Islam, “they attribute to God a proper unity.” The Islamic term for a “proper unity” istawhid, which, in essence, is not just a superficial form of “unity” but a “proper unity” that has an influence on Islamic philosophy and jurisprudence. It is also possible that Maimonides was even distinguishing between the “proper” Jewish and Muslim view of God’s unity and what he would consider the “improper” Christian view of a trinitarian unity. Nowhere does Maimonides even suggest that Muslims are worshiping some different deity or that they do not share the Jewish view of God’s character.

Maimonides further argues that “should anyone say … [the Kaba’a] is a house of idolatry and an idol is hidden within it, which their ancestors used to worship, then what of it? The hearts of those who bow down toward it today are [directed] only toward Heaven.” This can be read as a pre-rebuttal to arguments made by Robert Spencer about the Kaba’a and the hajj based on views, true or not, about their pre-Islamic origins. As Maimonides points out, if Muslims view Allah as the same god Jews view in Heaven and direct their prayers accordingly, pre-Islamic history does not affect their monotheism. Say what you want about any possible idol remnant in the Ka’bah or the etymology of the term Allah, it is clear that the “hearts of [Muslims] today are only toward Heaven.”

Now, why is Maimonides such an interesting person to quote from when countering Spencer’s Islamophobic rhetoric? For one thing, Spencer’s polemical partner Pamela Geller has also quoted from Maimonides, believing that it helps the position that she and Spencer take in general and in her fights about her ads about a choice “between the civilized man and the savage” in particular. Here is a quote she uses, from Maimonides’ Epistle to Yemen:

Let Ye understand, my brothers, the Holy One Blessed HE through the trap created by our iniquities cast us amongst this nation, the people of Ishmael [Muslims] whose oppressiveness is firmly upon us and they connive to do us wrong and despicably downgrade us as the Almighty decreed against us (Deuteronomy 32:31, “Your enemies shall judge you”).

There never came against Israel a more antagonistic nation. They oppress us with the most oppressive measures to lessen our number, reduce us, and make us as despicable as they themselves are [Psalms 120:5].

Geller, misleadingly introduces this quote by saying that Maimonides “said this of Islam.” She further introduces the purely religious term Muslims in brackets where Maimonides referred to the “people of Ishmael,” a term that could have ethnic, political, and/or religious connotations.

On the religious aspect, while Maimonides did not accept Islam, it is clear from the earlier quote that he fully accepted that Muslims, or Ishmaelites, were monotheists whose hearts are directed only toward heaven in prayer. Instead, the conflict he describes is a political one, in particular with the Yemeni Shi’a of the time. Ultimately, “Maimonides interceded with Saladin in Egypt, and shortly thereafter the persecution came to an end.”

There are a few additional points worth noting in this quote from Maimonides. First, the reference to “the people of Ishmael” may sound like a form of generalization today, but no more so than the positive references to Ishmaelites in the first Maimonides quote or his reference to Jews as Israel in the second.

Second, unlike Geller, Maimonides does not attempt to create a picture in which one side is civilized and the other savage. Indeed, Maimonides describes Israel’s exile as a “trap created by our iniquities.” Traditionally, this referred to the “baseless hatred,” or the religious and political disputes, mistakes, violence, and venom that existed at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and the onset of the Exile. Thus, Maimonides’ approach was not to turn a political dispute or suffering persecution into a basis for misrepresenting the religious views of others. Nor did he argue that those of his religion were pure and those of another religion were not; rather, he pointed out sinful behavior in both. In Maimonides’ view, monotheism was a good quality, and, from the first quote, we see that he was able to acknowledge what he saw as the good in his political opponents rather than feeling the need to suppress any of those qualities or actions as if his entire position would fall apart if his political adversaries had any good side. In addition, when Maimonides corresponded with a community of Jews who were being persecuted by a Muslim majority, he made a point of noting that even the Jews who then felt persecuted should not ignore their group’s own history of hatred and violence, including political mistakes that were part of the reason for their exile.

While there are aspects to the two quotes from Maimonides that one can agree or disagree with, they do reflect an overall attitude that contrasts sharply with those of Spencer and Geller.

While Maimonides had political differences with various Muslim groups, he did not seek to mischaracterize their religion or their religious beliefs. For there can be no true peace with the Other without recognition of the truth of their beliefs and behavior and honest dialogue based on those truths, a sharp contrast to the insidious Spencer/Geller policy of no peace, no truthful recognition, and no honest dialogue. Compare Maimonides’ recognition of Islam’s positive monotheistic quality, even when he disagreed politically with Muslims, with Spencer, who has argued that “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim,” meaning that in his view, the only morally good Muslim is one who is not an Islamically good Muslim.

In terms of lessons for today, it may be helpful to see how Maimonides separated the political battles he faced from the opportunities to engage in religious prejudice against the beliefs of the Other. This did not mean that he refrained from political activity, as seen by his appeal to Saladin. But, neither did he refrain from standing up for the truth about another group’s religious beliefs. In viewing how Maimonides conducted these two fights, perhaps it can be said that the lesson is that we should fight our political battles as if there were no religious prejudice, and we should fight religious prejudice as if there were no political battles.

EXPOSED: “Muslim charter” UKIP MEP Gerard Batten directly linked to extremist anti-Muslim propaganda network

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EXPOSED: “Muslim charter” UKIP MEP Gerard Batten directly linked to extremist anti-Muslim propaganda network

Original guest post by Jai Singh

Headed by Nigel Farage, a Member of the European Parliament, the UK Independence Party(known as “UKIP”) has made huge gains in local government elections in the UK, and may achieve the support of up to 20% of voters during the impending European elections. UKIP has of course also received scrutiny due to the extreme right-wing (and often explicitly Far-Right) views of far too many of its politicians. These views have received publicity via a combination of media exposure and blunders by UKIP politicians themselves.

Such incidents are continuing to occur. For example, during a recent UKIP conference in Torquay, Nigel Farage was caught enthusiastically applauding racist “jokes” about South Asians along with similarly derogatory “humour” at the expense of Muslims. Furthermore, during the same conference, UKIP tried to ban journalists from a meeting ostensibly to discuss sharia law; the very first question at that meeting was “How can you be both a Muslim and an Englishman ?” Farage himself has also become increasingly outspoken about expressing highly offensive views; in fact, even traditionally right-wing British news outlets such as The Telegraph are nowpublishing articles describing UKIP as “an overtly racist and extremist party”.

UKIP’S “DECLARATION FORM” FOR CANDIDATES

According to BBC deputy political editor James Landale, writing on 28 February 2014:

If you want evidence of how UKIP is trying to become more professional, look no further than the form potential candidates have to fill out, a copy of which I have obtained at the party’s conference in Torquay.

Wannabe UKIP candidates have to declare the following:

“I never engaged in, advocated or condoned racist, violent, criminal or anti democratic activity.

“I have never been a member of or had links with any organisation, group or association which the national executive committee considers is liable to bring the party into disrepute.

“I have never been convicted of any offence punishable by a custodial sentence, whether or not a custodial sentence was actually imposed. I shall notify the Party Chairman and General Secretary immediately upon being interviewed under caution.”

Later the form asks specifically: “Are you or have you ever been a member of the BNP, EDL or any other organisation that might be of public interest?”

And this is my favourite: “I do not have any ‘skeletons in my cupboard’ that may cause me or UKIP embarrassment if they were to come out during the election.”

Unfortunately for UKIP, the ramifications of this will become clearer immediately below, although not in the way UKIP’s leadership intended.

UKIP MEP GERARD BATTEN AND THE ANTI-MUSLIM PROPAGANDA NETWORK

Another very senior UKIP politician who has recently featured in the British news is Gerard Batten, UKIP’s immigration spokesman. A founder member of UKIP in 1993, he has also been UKIP’s Chief Whip since 2009, and was personally appointed by Nigel Farage. Furthermore, Batten is currently UKIP’s MEP for London and a member of UKIP’s National Executive Committee. Batten was appointed a member of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence in 2004; he was appointed UKIP’s spokesman on Security and Defence soon afterwards.

In February 2014, Batten appeared as one of the main participants in several televised political debates on Channel 4 and the BBC, primarily in his capacity as UKIP’s immigration spokesman.As discussed in The Guardian, Batten has also recently received some publicity due to his proposed “Muslim Charter” requiring British Muslims to sign a “code of conduct”; despite the outcry, Batten has refused to withdraw his proposal. (Nigel Farage subsequently disownedBatten’s proposal).

Furthermore, the same Guardian article confirms that Batten is also on record as suggesting a ban on new mosques in British cities; Batten justified this by repeatedly referring to the prohibition on non-Muslim places of worship in Saudi Arabia, which he kept describing as “the heartland” of Islam. Batten is therefore proposing that British citizens who are Muslims should effectively be held hostage to the actions of foreign governments. Bear in mind that the majority of British Muslims do not have Saudi Arabian (or Middle-Eastern) backgrounds and do not even belong to the same religious “denomination” as state-sponsored Saudi Wahhabism.

On 28 February 2014, during an interview with Sky News anchor Adam Boulton, Nigel Farage insisted that UKIP had already “got rid of” everyone with any links to extremism. During his speech at the recent UKIP conference discussed above, Farage similarly claimed that “We’ve had one or two bad people. We’ve got rid of them”. However, Farage’s claims are demonstrably false: It turns out that Gerard Batten himself has a history of direct involvement with the core extremist international anti-Muslim propaganda network.

For example, in 2007, Gerard Batten personally represented the UK at a major anti-Muslim conference held in Brussels by the aforementioned propagandists. The conference brought together dozens of organisations and individuals to inaugurate the “Counterjihad Europa” network; participants included a number of the main writers at the virulently anti-Muslim websiteGates of Vienna, along with Robert Spencer, who is the main writer of the Jihad Watch website and a foreign extremist whom the British Government’s Home Office has now banned from entering the UK. Full details on the conference here and here; Gerard Batten is explicitly named.

Regular readers will recognise the names of many of the people listed, including sources cited by the mass-murdering terrorist Anders Breivik in his manifesto; Gates of Vienna owner Edward May (aka “Baron Bodissey”) is on record as explicitly describing himself as a “propagandist” and admitting that his agenda is to deliberately promote highly distorted information about Islam in order to stereotype and demonise the religion. Subsequent annual conferences have includedhigh-profile participation from the English Defence League leadership.

Gerard Batten is also directly linked to the Dutch Far-Right politician Geert Wilders, and has even held joint press conferences with him. Wilders’ extremely bigoted views on Islam are well-known (see examples via Wikipedia and the Institute for Policy Studies). Batten is on record as describing Wilders as “a brave man trying to defend western civilisation in the face of its own loss of the most basic instinct of self preservation”.

Furthermore, Gerard Batten also has a history of assisting the extremely anti-Muslim “Stop Islamisation of Europe” (SIOE) organisation. He even handed in a petition on behalf of SIOE head Anders Gravers to the mayor of Brussels. SIOE is part of Robert Spencer & Pamela Geller’s SION (“Stop Islamization of Nations”) organisation, and Gravers himself is currently a member of SION’s Presidents Council.

For the UKIP leadership’s benefit and for the public record, it is worth reiterating the following key facts. Robert Spencer is:

(a) an individual with precisely zero academic, professional or linguistic qualifications on the subject of Islam;
(b) an individual whose own alma mater, the University of North Carolina, have publicly condemned his writings;
(c) formally allied to racist white supremacists and European neo-Nazis, and has even organised joint public demonstrations with then;
(d) on record as demonising the entire Muslim population and demonising the religion of Islam as a whole;
(e) on record as repeatedly making false statements about Islam and Muslims, and repeatedly trying to hide the evidence when his actions were exposed;
(f) on record as making false statements about historical Popes and major Jewish figures, and then trying to hide the evidence when his actions were exposed;
(g) one of the most heavily cited sources in the terrorist Anders Breivik’s manifesto;
(h) an ordained Catholic deacon who has publicly admitted that his anti-Islam propaganda campaign is heavily motivated by his [unilateral] agenda for the dominance of the Catholic Church, despite the fact that his actions are in violation of both official Vatican policy and the extensive interfaith bridge-building efforts of the global leaders of his own Catholic sect;
(i) closely linked to influential American Catholic religious leaders affiliated with “Dominionism”, an extreme interpretation of fundamentalist Christianity deriving from “Christian Reconstructionism”, which involves the belief that rule by non-Christians anywhere in the world is sacrilege, explicitly approves of the historical slavery of African-Americans, and openly advocates the replacement of American law with Old Testament injunctions including the death penalty for apostasy and homosexuality; furthermore, according to Dominionism, its adherents have a God-given mandate to infiltrate the highest echelons of power and subsequently impose their beliefs on the entire world;
(j) closely linked to multiple figures who are extremely anti-Semitic as well as anti-Muslim;
(k) on record as denying the Srebrenica genocide, explicitly describing it as “the-genocide-that-never-was” and proposing “the possibility that Muslims could have carried out any deceptive atrocity-manufacturing in the Balkans”;
(l) on record as repeatedly promoting the work & writings of Serge Trifkovic, former spokesman for the Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic; Karadzic is currently charged with genocide during the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia. Spencer and Trifkovic have even held joint interviews and collaborated on an anti-Islam documentary film. Trifkovic openly supports and defends Ratko Mladic, whom the United Nations Tribunal has indicted on 16 counts of genocide and war crimes. Furthermore, Trifkovic has also appeared as a defence witness during the trials of several Serbian war criminals subsequently convicted of multiple crimes against humanity, including genocide, exterminations, persecution and deportations;
(m) on record as joining a genocidal white nationalist Facebook group called the “Campaign for the Reconquest of Anatolia”, whose mission statement openly advocates the ethnic cleansing, mass sterilisation and euthanasia of Turkey’s entire Muslim population, targeting “up to 150 million people”;
(n) on record as making extremely disparaging statements about the prestigious West Point military institution and has described Far-Right terrorists in the US as “ordinary Americans who believe in individual rights”.
(o) an individual whose SION/SIOA/AFDI organisations’ leadership is directly assisted by David Yerushalmi, the head of an organisation whose mission statement explicitly declares that its (currently unidentified) members are “dedicated to the rejection of democracy”.
[Note: Extensive further information regarding these facts along with a range of other matters involving Robert Spencer and his inner circle is available in this recent article.]

EDL ex-leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) was a member of SION’s Presidents Council until his unconvincing “defection” to the Quilliam Foundation in October 2013. Speaking to various international outlets, especially a Far-Right source, Yaxley-Lennon has admitted the real reasons for his involvement with Quilliam. It is worth noting that Yaxley-Lennon has repeatedly stated that there has actually been zero change in his extremist views, and that he continues to support Robert Spencer. Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as publicly endorsing UKIP.

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UKIP’S LINKS TO INTERNATIONAL FAR-RIGHT PARTIES

As confirmed by the New Statesman:

Ukip is part of the group Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). The group includes representatives of the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and the infamous Italian Lega Nord – all of them far-right. Nigel Farage is co-President of the group along with Lega Nord’s Francesco Speroni, who described multiple murderer Anders Breivik as someone whose “ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”

Mario Borghezio, another member of the group, declared in a radio interview that Breivik had some “excellent” ideas. Farage’s reaction was to write a strongly-worded letter to Borghezio, asking him to withdraw his comments or Ukip would pull out of the EFD. Borghezio not only did not apologise, but responded with an extraordinary speech in which he raged: “Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.”

Nigel Farage did not withdraw from the EFD. He continues to co-preside over it, along with the leader of the Lega Nord. MEP Nikki Sinclaire, however, was expelled from Ukip for refusing to take part in the EFD because of their “extreme views”.

UKIP AND BRITISH FAR-RIGHT PARTIES

Via the aforementioned New Statesman article:

“Ukip has no links to the BNP,” explained Farage in 2007. The first line of any description of Ukip calls it “a libertarian, non-racist party”. What party, other than one skating close to the lines of taste and decency, needs to describe itself as “non-racist”? Farage boasted on The Andrew Marr Show (20 January 2013) that “Ukip is the only UK party to explicitly ban BNP members from joining”. What party, other than a party whose policies are attractive to such organisations, would need to do that?

…..More recently, however, Farage refused to vote to oppose moves for the European Union to fund the BNP.

The founder of the party, Alan Sked, says it has become “extraordinarily right-wing” and is now devoted to “creating a fuss, via Islam and immigrants”.

Furthermore, as confirmed by the Huffington Post on 28 February 2014, it turns out that UKIP’s “new” “Love Britain, Vote Ukip” campaign slogan is actually a rehash of the Far-Right BNP’s own slogan. A BNP spokesman subsequently complained “They’ve stolen our policies and now they’ve stolen our slogan”.

*********************************************************************************

FURTHER INFORMATION

1. For interested readers, UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s Twitter address is @Nigel_Farage.

2. UKIP “immigration spokesman” and “Chief Whip” Gerard Batten’s Twitter address is@GerardBattenMEP.

3. BBC deputy political editor James Landale’s Twitter address is @BBCJLandale.

4. Sky News anchor Adam Boulton’s Twitter address is @adamboultonSKY.

5. Huffington Post UK Political Director / New Statesman contributor Mehdi Hasan’s Twitter address is @mehdirhasan.

The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West

Abd-al-Rahman_III

The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West

By Garibaldi

One often hears Islamophobes in the “counterjihad” movement claiming to be defenders of the “Judeo-Christian” West against the spread of Islam and the enfranchisement of Muslims in Western democracies. The term Judeo-Christian gained currency in the middle of the 20th century,

“promoted by groups which evolved into the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight antisemitism by expressing a more inclusive idea of American values rather than just Christian or Protestant.”

Ironically, in the past several decades and especially since 9/11, Judeo-Christian has most often been used by the rightwing to exclude differing religions and cultures from staking their own claim to Americanness, specifically, to amplify the so-called “Islamic threat.”

The rightwing considers America’s “uniqueness” to be rooted in its Judeo-Christian values. Take radio host Dennis Prager, who writes,

[o]nly America has called itself Judeo-Christian. America is also unique in that it has always combined secular government with a society based on religious values. Along with the belief in liberty—as opposed to, for example, the European belief in equality, the Muslim belief in theocracy, and the Eastern belief in social conformity—Judeo-Christian values are what distinguish America from all other countries.

The claims about “European,” “Muslim,” and “Eastern” societies are simplistic generalizations but there is some truth to Prager’s claim that “only America has called itself Judeo-Christian,” in so far as the USA is where Judeo-Christianism was born. If one can speak in such broad terms at all of an alliance/unity between Jews and Christians it is relatively recent; only 70 years out of the past 2,000 years.

A different kind of alliance

A recent article published on Loonwatch about the Spanish government’s commitment to give descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled over 500 years ago from Andalus automatic citizenship brought to mind the longer and deeper history of Jewish and Muslim collaboration.

The history of Jewish-Muslim alliance has led some scholars to the interesting thesis that the roots of medieval European Christian anti-Semitism was rooted not in charges of deicide (Jews killed Jesus) against Jews but in their alliance and collaboration with Muslims.

In Allan Harris Cutler and Helen Elmquist Cutler’s book, “The Jews as Ally of the Muslim,” the authors,

[R]evise the traditional explanations of the roots of anti-Semitism. They contend that the great outburst of anti-Semitism in Western Europe during the Middle Ages … derived from primarily anti-Muslimism and the association of Jew with Muslim.

Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, in one of his less bellicose and polemical articles wrote a review of the book in 1987 that is worth reading, concluding that “it offers an intriguing and ultimately convincing argument.” Though he takes exception to the authors’ advice to Pope John Paul II to“transform his office and mission from a more narrowly Christian into a broadly Abrahamic one . . . to create a new spiritual and institutional unity between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

Among certain nationalists and White Power currents in the “counterjihad” there is a continuation of the idea that Jews are allying with Muslims to help them take over the West, just as Jews aided Muslims in conquering Hispania from Visigoth tyranny.

In the view of these counterjihadists Jewish intellectuals have opened the gates of fortified Europe and America through modern day liberalism. Hence, their usage of “Leftist” in the familiar Islamophobic expression, “Leftist-Muslim alliance to destroy the West,” is a P.C. way to refer to Jews. “Leftist” masks an undercurrent of antiSemitism, since in their view Jew=Leftist.

The website Islam Versus Europe: Where Islam Spreads, Freedom Dies, did a three part series titled, “Jewish collaboration with Muslims during the invasion of Spain” by Cheradnine Zakalwe. The website has a global Alexa ranking of 703,552 and a US ranking of 262,275.

islamversuseuropeblogspot

IslamVersusEurope is considered by other “counterjihadists” to be a “respected CounterJihad blog” and is linked and blogrolled on numerous Islamophobic sites. The site has also been approvingly linked by Deacon Robert Spencer even after Zakalwe’s series of articles. (Not surprising considering Spencer’s alliance with antiSemites such as Eric Allen Bell and the anti-Jewish stances of his ally Pamela Geller).

IslamVersusEurope_JihadWatch

The main point of Zakalwe’s three part series is summed up in his first post,

So the Jews in Spain were enslaving European Christians. This provoked the irritation of other European Christians, who then took measures against the Jews. This caused the Jews to reach out to their fellow Jews abroad and to the Arabs, urging them to invade Spain and bring this Christian oppression to an end. When they did so, the Jews eagerly collaborated with the Muslims, acting as administrators for the conquered cities and realm.

The parallels with our own time are striking, with Jewish intellectuals having paved the way for the modern Muslim conquest by pushing the benefits of immigration, diversity, tolerance, special minority protection, etc., denigrating nationalism and wielding the Nazi stick forcefully against anyone bold enough to dissent. (Emphasis mine)

These views are not limited to Zakalwe but can also be found on unabashedly racist and Islamophobic sites like Occidental Dissent and Occidental Observer.

The truth is that yes, there was a long history of collaboration and affinity between Muslims and Jews which fueled animosity on the part of European Christendom. Pipes in his review of the Cutlers’ study even notes,

[T]he Hebrew language shares much with Arabic, and Judaism shares much with Islam; on the most abstract level, both are religions of law, while Christianity is a religion of faith. More specifically, they share many features such as circumcision, dietary regulations, and similar sexual codes. Further, because the Muslims were preeminent in the medieval centuries, “Jews themselves associated Jew with Muslim.” When this became known among the Christians, it much harmed the Jews’ position. Most damaging of all, Jews on occasion helped Muslim troops against Christians (as in the initial Arab conquest of Spain) and some Jews held prominent positions in Muslim governments at war with the Christians. Even when they did not actually take part in the fighting, “Jews usually rejoiced when Christian territory fell into Islamic hands.”

Mattai and Pope Alexander

Mattai and Pope Alexander

While there were great similarities and affinities, it must be pointed out that it is only logical that Jews would ally with those who would treat them better and with whom relations would be more advantageous. If medieval European Christians were offering less discrimination and interference in religious, family and financial life than Muslims then certainly Jews would have collaborated with Christians more than Muslims. In other words one cannot discount the importance of community interests, foremost survival as the motivation for such alliances.

This was driven home to me while watching the third season of Showtime’s historical drama,The Borigas. In one of the episodes, the leader of the Jewish community, Mattai meets with Pope Alexander,

Mattai meets with Alexander and tells him the whole Turkish navy could be burned to the waves with oil. He proposes stuffing some ships with oil for Ramadan and sending them over there just in time to berth for the holy month. Once they’re there, Mattai’s connections will set them alight. That’s if Alexander issues a papal bull that eases up on the taxes on the Jews in Rome. Alexander moans that he asks for a great deal, but Mattai refuses to back down, and even gives Alexander a bit of lip…He says he needs money to buy all this oil, and Alexander says that he’ll issue the bull if Mattai can ensure the success of this scheme.

Alexander meets with Mattai, Cardinal Sforza, and a few others. Mattai tells him the ships loaded with oil are already docked and the conflagration may have already happened.

In Constantinople, oil leaking out over the water is set alight, swiftly engulfing the anchored ships.

Back in Rome, Alexander sits and signs the papal bull, while in Constantinople, the ships explode and sailors flee for their lives. In a fantastic long shot, we see the entire fleet from a distance, burning away.

While the actual historicity of these events are dubious and likely never occurred, it highlights the reasons and motivations that guide communities. Jews who aided Muslims in Spain did so not primarily because both Muslims and Jews circumcise males or eschew pork but rather because they trusted that they would have a better and freer life.

The “counterjihadists” know that “perfidious” Jews aren’t opening up the gates to Muslim hordes. It is no longer the 14th century, there isn’t a “Christendom,” let alone a “Caliphate.” Many Christians are united alongside Muslims and Jews and others to make society and the world better, that is what the interfaith movement is all about.

Opening our doors to the stranger, seeing the image of G-d in our fellow human being and their inherent dignity should not be the opposite of our values but the very core of what we struggle to achieve and become.

This however is appeasement to the paranoid and conspiratorial “counterjihadists,” who in the place of our multi-faith and multi-cultural reality want to take us back to an unrealistic mono-faith, mono-cultural world.

Spencer Ally, John Guandolo’s anti-Muslim “terrorism” presentation Canceled

Guandolo-training

Virginia Police Academy Nixes ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training’ Taught By Anti-Muslim Activist

After persistent community pressure the Virginia Police Academy dropped Islamophobe John Guandolo, an affiliate of ACT! For America, from conducting his so-called ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training.’

Virginia Police Academy Nixes ‘Advanced Counterterrorism Training’ Taught By Anti-Muslim Activist

BY IAN MILLHISER

The Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy announced on Monday that it would no longer sponsor a course for law enforcement officers which was ostensibly focused on counterterrorism, but which would have been taught by an anti-Muslim activist with a history of spreading conspiracy theories. A brief press release from the academy announces that “[a]fter careful consideration and consultation with other law enforcement agencies and academies, having firsthand knowledge of this training, the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy will no longer be offering Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services in-service training credit for the upcoming seminar ‘Understanding and Investigating Jihadi Networks in America.’”

The training was to be hosted by the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office. Late last week, Sheriff Scott Jenkins said that he does not plan to cancel the training session, despite outcry from civil rights groups that the event features an anti-Islamic speaker. According to a letter from 15 civil rights organizations and religious interest groups, John Guandolo, a former FBI agent and the featured speaker at the training event, “is closely affiliated with ACT! for America, a known anti-Muslim hate group, and he makes baseless, irresponsible and dangerous statements revealing his animus about the American Muslim community” — including claiming that “American Muslims ‘do not have a First Amendment right to do anything.‘”

Though the training may still go on without accreditation, Ibrahim Hooper with the Council on American-Islamic Relations told ThinkProgress that he is satisfied that it will not be attended now that the academy has pulled its sponsorship, adding that law enforcement officers attend these kinds of seminars because they require continuing education credits — but they will no longer receive those credits following the academy’s decision. In Hooper’s words, “why would people show up for three days if they don’t get credit?”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Guandolo accused Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan of bringing “known Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders into the government and into advisory positions,” and claimed that Brennan did so because he “converted to Islam when he served in an official capacity” in Saudi Arabia. Weeks later, Guandolo expanded this conspiracy to include President Obama, claiming that the president has “made a significant effort to protect known members of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood inside this government.”

In 2009, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Guandolo resigned from the FBI in 2008 before the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility could question him regarding allegations that he had “an intimate relationship with a confidential source.” According to a court filing by the federal government, a “cooperating witness” in the investigation against former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) told FBI agents that “she had sexual relations with now-former FBI agent John Guandolo during the time that Mr. Guandolo served in an undercover capacity as her driver during the pro-active phase of this investigation.”

On Saturday, the Roanoke Times reported that Sheriff Jenkins plans to move forward with the training regardless of concerns over Guandolo. As of this writing, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s office has not responded to an inquiry from ThinkProgress asking if they have changed their mind.

US religious freedom rep funded by Islamophobes

uscirf-vice-chair-zuhdi

(h/t: JD)

“Other Abstraction Fund-backed groups include Jihad Watch, an anti-Muslim blog published by Robert Spencer.”

US religious freedom rep funded by Islamophobes

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, repeated its request to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to investigate one of its own members, this time for being funded by the same group that backs a notorious Islamophobe.

Earlier this year, CAIR asked for an investigation of USCIRF Vice Chair Zuhdi Jasser for apparently seeking to deny religious rights to Muslim military personnel.

In a letter sent to USCIRF Chairman Dr. Robert P. George, Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, wrote in part:

“We are writing today to expand upon the concerns regarding Dr. Zuhdi Jasser that were expressed on our letter to you dated January 24, 2014. Additional information has come to light regarding the financial dependence of Dr. Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) on groups known for promoting Islamophobia in the United States.

“Tax filings for the New York-based Abstraction Fund reveal that between 2010 and 2012, Jasser’s organization accepted $45,000 in grants and contributions. In 2012, 82 percent of the Fund’s total $1,982,930 contributions and grants went to groups known for their active role in spreading anti-Islam prejudice.”

The Center for Security Policy

Saylor’s letter cited funding of anti-Islam groups such as the Center for Security Policy, the head of which was a key witness for the plaintiffs in a controversial lawsuit against a mosque being built in Tennessee, where he promoted the notion that mosques want to “destroy western civilization from within.”

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Another group funded by the Abstraction Fund and cited in the letter is Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, which recently published an Islamophobic article stating: “Europe is still … captivated by the specious charms of the Arabs and Islam” and ” … pitiful Arab, whose inherent culture left him no shred of sincerity, creativity or courage.”

Jihad Watch

Other Abstraction Fund-backed groups include Jihad Watch, an anti-Muslim blog published by Robert Spencer. The Boston Globe has described Spencer as a man who “depicts Islam as an inherently violent religion.” Spencer has referred to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad as a “con man. Someone who is knowing [sic] that what he is saying is false, but is fooling his followers.”

In June 2013, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento requested that the Kolbe Academy, a Catholic school, rescind a speaking invitation they extended to Spencer. The diocese referred to Spencer as a “key leader in the anti-Islam hate movement in the United States.”

Stop Islamization of America 

Spencer is a co-founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Spencer’s Jihad Watch blog is also designated as a hate group by the SPLC, which named Spencer as part of the nation’s “Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.”

The Middle East Forum 

The Middle East Forum (MEF), headed by Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, also received funds from the Abstraction Fund. Pipes is infamous for quotes such as: “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene. All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.” [Jasser has accepted donations from Middle East Forum.]

In concluding his letter to USCIRF, Saylor wrote:

“CAIR values, advocates for and has pursued legal action to protect free speech and freedom of expression. Dr. Jasser has every right to advocate for the causes and organizations with which he chooses to align AIFD. At issue here is the reasonable concern that arises regarding Dr. Jasser accepting financial support from anti-Muslim groups while he is serving on a commission advocating for religious freedom.

“Given the expanding evidence of AFID’s financial dependency on groups funding anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States, we do not believe Dr. Jasser can act as an honest voice regarding religious freedom domestically or internationally.”

In 2013, CAIR published a major report, “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” which identifies 37 organizations dedicated to promoting the type of anti-Islam prejudice that can lead to bias-motivated incidents targeting American Muslims. The Islamophobia report is available on Kindle.

Jasser was featured in that report as an enabler of anti-Muslim bigotry. The report noted that Jasser heads a group that “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s state Constitution that would have implemented state-sponsored discrimination against Islam.

Jasser also narrated “The Third Jihad,” a propaganda film created by the Clarion Fund, which depicts Muslims as inherently violent and seeking world domination. Following revelations that the film was shown as part of training at the New York Police Department, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called it “wacky” and “objectionable.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

The Fruits of Tunisia’s Uprising: An Extraordinary Constitution

 

Tunisia_Constitution

The Fruits of Tunisia’s Uprising: An Extraordinary Constitution

By Garibaldi

Before the Arab Uprisings a narrative almost as well known as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was indoctrinated into the minds of many US and European citizens; the claim that Arabs and Muslims were inclined to tyranny and dictatorship. Columnist David Brooks of the New York Times encapsulated this frame of mind, about Egyptians he wrote, “they don’t have the mental ingredients for democracy.”

Islamophobes were appalled by the uprisings which saw their myths and prejudices regarding “subservient” Arabs and Muslims who either “only know dictatorship or theocracy” fall apart. Bigots such as Deacon Spencer were quick to claim that these nations would quickly be living inIranian-style theocracies.

While the uprisings and revolutions have faltered or are continuing at varied paces in most of the nations that have seen uprisings, the country that birthed the momentous wave of protest and upheaval, Tunisia, has achieved a tremendous milestone: a Constitution through consensus and hard, political work.

Tunisia was well placed for this achievement, considering its history of Constitutionalism,

Tunisia was the first Arab country ever to draft its own constitution – the qanoon al-dawla al-tunisiyya, or ‘law of the Tunisian state’ – which came into force in 1861.”

The process took two years, every jot and tittle was fought over and at times the impasse between the secularist opposition and the Ennahda led government seemed to be teetering on the brink of disaster and all out chaos: a happy prospect for those who have a seething hate for Arabs, Muslims and Islam and cheer on whenever they see disorder.

The naysayers were disappointed when the Ennahda led coalition and Nida Tounes negotiated a deal under the auspices of civil society organizations that paved the way for: a resignation of the government, a completion to the Constitution and an interim care-taker government of technocrats until fresh elections will be held later this year.

So what happened when Tunisia passed its constitution? Wallah! The praise has come in from all quarters: The New York TimesFrance24The EconomistThe Washington PostFox News, etc. had forgotten their age old prejudices and “congratulated” Tunisians.

Equally as important as the Constitution is to Tunisians it is also an example to the nations in the region. It shows that if one is ready to negotiate, compromise, to see beyond the simplistic demonizations of one’s opponent, you can overcome religious, ethnic, ideological and political divisions.

The outcome is a document that the vast majority of Tunisians have unanimously accepted and, crucially, has popular legitimacy.

The document isn’t perfect and contains some self-contradictions that highlight fissures and insecurities in Tunisian society. For instance what does it mean to protect ‘freedom of conscience and speech’ and at the same time outlaw takfir (declaring a Muslim to be a non-Muslim)? What does it mean for the state to ensure the “neutrality of mosques” and “protect sanctities?”

On the other hand it is a document that is confident in its identity, history and heritage, enshrines freedom of religion, conscience, individual rights, minority rights, gender parity, and a separation of powers.

It rivals any constitution in ambition and scope, and is more progressive in several ways than our own 226 year-old US Constitution that still contains outdated language stating for instance that slaves are the equivalent of “3/5ths” of a full vote. A few years ago the Congressional reading of the Constitution omitted this section which caused some right-wingers, like Glenn Beck, to throw a fit. Maybe it’s time we had another Constitutional convention ourselves?

The future for Tunisia is still wide open and by no means have Tunisians arrived at a moment in which the aims of their uprising have been fully realized,

Measured against the aims of the revolution, the constitution can be said to have met a number of key expectations. But for those in the marginalized parts of the country, seeking tangible improvement in their social and economic situation, the constitution is not going to do that-not immediately at least-and, in truth, does not guarantee it on the long-run. The state, in Article 12, promises no more than “striving to,” rather than the much demanded “commits to” achieve regional balance within the framework of positive discrimination.

The hope is that the spirit of negotiation, determination and compromise will continue until those aims are reached. However, what can be said is that despite tremendous pressures from the West, regional neighbors and fissures within Tunisian society, Tunisians have made it happen — and that is something not only to congratulate but to emulate.

Video: Tunisia Gets New Constitution

Lega Nord denounces plan for Islamic museum in Venice

Lega-Nord-anti-Islam-poster

Spencer allied anti-Islam European group, Lega Nord, denounces plan for Islamic museum in Venice.

Lega Nord denounces plan for Islamic museum in Venice

The vaunted city of Venice has a rich history of interaction with Muslims and Islam, among its distinctions is the fact that it is home to the first ever printed Quran.

Now that Venice wants to possibly build an “Islamic Museum,” the Far-Right Lega Norda is going ballistic, complaining that it is a way to “spread Islam.” If it was a legitimate, non-xenophobic party it would make rational criticisms of Mayor Orsoni, instead of obscurantist and reactionary fearmongering, a hallmark of the anti-Muslim Far-right parties in Europe.

Lega Nord denounces plan for Islamic museum in Venice

Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni wants to put his city on the map as a site of internationally weighty institutions, and a possible Islamic museum plus study center is one of them.

On Monday, the mayor thanked Premier Enrico Letta for considering such a museum for the iconic city’s Grand Canal, which in Orsoni’s view would dovetail nicely with an existing Museum of Oriental Arts, a Council of Europe office in St. Mark’s Square that often hosts Aspen Institute meetings, and a planned Orthodox Church study center, which would rise in the Mestre district on mainland Venice.

The Italian premier said during a trip to Doha that his government “made a commitment to explore the opportunity to build an Islamic museum in Venice on the Grand Canal”. Letta is in the Persian Gulf state on a mission to drum up investment to help to pull the Italian economy after its longest postwar recession.

Orsoni said the concept fits in with Venice’s municipal goal of continuing to bring “great cultural institutions of international breadth to Venice”. The city offered “a special thanks to … Letta for his interest in the creation of an Islamic museum of great international scope in Venice, a sign of the history of this city and its openness to dialogue between cultures and religions”, added Orsoni.

The project was slammed Monday by the regionalist, anti-immigrant Northern League, which suggested Letta should focus on the economy and not cultural institutions. Massimo Bitonci, Senate whip for the League, accused Letta of working to spread Islam in Italy. “We do not want any Islamic museum in Venice”, Bitonci said. “Letta would do better to focus on the economic crisis instead of thinking (of ways) to spread Islam”, he added.

He suggested Letta was attempting to distract attention from a major industrial problem involving electrical-appliance multinational Electrolux, which last week announced a shock wage-cut plan it said was necessary to keep its Italian plants running.

That opinion was buttressed by Lorenzo Fontana, a League Member of the European Parliament, who threatened to put a spanner in the works of such a project. “We will stay day and night in front of the building site and obstruct the work,” said Fontana. “The League will never allow such a mess, the Veneto (region) wants independence, not Islamic museums,” he said, adding that such projects threaten to undermine the foundations of Italian society.

“I can’t believe he is even remotely thinking of putting money into yet another useless museum when our entire cultural heritage, and Venice itself, are at risk”, thundered Veneto Governor Luca Zaia, another Northern League member.

Gazzetta del Sud, 3 February 2014

Quilliam suddenly backtracking from EDL ex-leader, but declassified UK Government records expose Quilliam’s real plans

Quilliam_HenryJacksonSociey

Quilliam suddenly backtracking from EDL ex-leader, but declassified UK Government records expose Quilliam’s real plans

Original guest article by Jai Singh

As previously discussed on Loonwatch, the Quilliam Foundation’s leadership have been exposed as directly involved with Douglas Murray’s neocon “Henry Jackson Society” think-tank. It turns out that senior figures from these two organisations have been working closely with each other for an extended period of time. As also heavily documented in the article, Douglas Murray himself has a considerable history of virulently anti-Muslim views (especially when the audience is not the British mainstream media), and he has also made further statements complaining about “white Britons abolishing themselves”. Like English Defence League ex-leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”), Murray also has an extensive history of very close involvement with the anti-Muslim propagandist Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer, a high-profile foreign extremist whom the British Government’s Home Office has banned from entering the United Kingdom. Murray has recently become increasingly open about his support for Yaxley-Lennon too.

After the article was published, Quilliam co-founder/Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate Maajid Nawaz and Quilliam’s “head of research” Ghaffar Hussain (who, it turns out, merely works for them in a freelance capacity and is actually a formal member of the Henry Jackson Society’s professional staff) both engaged in a lengthy Twitter argument with one of Loonwatch‘s editors on 30 December 2013. Hussain is clearly furious about being publicly exposed as working for Douglas Murray’s organisation. Nawaz’s own behaviour was a combination of bizarre, immature sneering, and blatant “psychological projection”. For example, see here andhere. There are numerous other examples visible if you scroll down to 30 December 2013 onLoonwatch’s Twitter account. Nawaz also engaged in his usual ridiculous tactic against his critics, labelling Loonwatch’s editors and writers as “Far-Left”, “Islamists”, and “Islamist apologists”.

Most striking of all was the fact that both Maajid Nawaz and Ghaffar Hussain completely avoided the main premise of the article, namely the fact that Quilliam’s leadership are directly involved with the Robert Spencer-allied Douglas Murray and the Henry Jackson Society. Nawaz and Hussain were unable to refute any of information highlighted in the article, including the details of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s statements admitting the real reasons for his involvement with Quilliam.

Neither Maajid Nawaz nor anyone else from Quilliam are publicly disclosing the aforementioned extremely incriminating facts to the British general public or the mainstream news media. It is presently unclear if they are revealing these facts to the British Government.

QUILLIAM CO-FOUNDER/LIBERAL DEMOCRATS PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE MAAJID NAWAZ, THE “CARTOONS CONTROVERSY”, AND THE JAILING OF EDL EX-LEADER STEPHEN YAXLEY-LENNON

Maajid Nawaz was recently at the center of a major controversy in the UK. I am not going to comment in detail on this issue; like Loonwatch’s editors, I think the subject is a distraction from the much bigger problems with Nawaz and Quilliam. However, it is worth noting Nawaz’s recent online statements to members of the British general public who had criticised his actions. Bear in mind that the following remarks are from someone who presents himself as a leading wannabe “reformer” of one of the world’s major religions:

Maajid Nawaz, writing on Twitter, 18 January 2014: “offence?? Get the F*^k off my timeline if you’re offended.”

Maajid Nawaz, writing on Twitter [subsequently deleted], January 2014: “If you dont like an inoffensive, rather polite cartoon, I don’t give a **** get the **** off my timeline. Why did I post it? Who gives a ****!”

Maajid Nawaz, writing on Twitter, 17 January 2014: “Ha ha!! As @IceCube once said in the intro skit to “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted”, while on death row. “F*** all y’all” #Radical”

Still writing on his Twitter account, Nawaz has subsequently taken to “piously” quoting various verses from the Quran.

It is interesting to note that this controversy coincides with the period of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon’s sentencing and jailing on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud. It is also interesting to note that Nawaz has (publicly) still said absolutely nothing about Yaxley-Lennon’s jailing.

Furthermore, although Quilliam’s leadership claim to be staunch believers in the concept of “freedom of speech”, and have recently been referring to this concept when justifying their own actions, it turns out that they actually have a history of threatening lawsuits against opponents who have used their own freedom of speech to criticise Quilliam.

QUILLIAM SUDDENLY DENYING CLOSE INVOLVEMENT WITH STEPHEN YAXLEY-LENNON/“TOMMY ROBINSON”

On 14 January 2014, approximately a week before Yaxley-Lennon’s jailing, Political Scrapbookreported the following developments:

Having lapped up the publicity from brokering his exit from the EDL, anti-extremism think tank Quilliam seem to be getting cold feet about Robinson after they were wrongly linked to the tour. A spokesman was at pains to deny they were paying him for anything and told Scrapbook:

“Tommy Robinson isn’t doing anything for Quilliam. He’s not a member of staff here … He’s his own man.”

“We do outreach work. Tommy Robinson does other things and he’s not working here.”

Quilliam claim that his involvement with them has so far been limited to “mentoring” — including attending classes on Islam and “theological reform”.

However, as previously discussed on Loonwatch, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon himself has been making some very different statements to various international outlets (especially a Far-Right source). He has even repeatedly confirmed his continuing support for Robert Spencer. In fact, Yaxley-Lennon has admitted the real reasons for his involvement with Quilliam, including the associated long-term gameplan. Key quotes:

[Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/”Tommy Robinson]: “The fact is that I thought it would be a good idea to appear together with Quilliam in order to gain credibility. It is good to sit together with them and say: “We don’t hate Muslims but we have to solve our problems.”

- When I met the people from Quilliam, I realized that they could help me with a lot of things. I’m just a working class bloke from Luton. I don’t know how to set up and run a think tank and get donations. I asked if they would teach me and they said yes. They said: “You may have whatever opinions you like but you will get more out of expressing them in a more political way.”

[Dispatch International]: “Could one say that you are using them and they are using you?”

Tommy doesn’t answer but nods and grins

[…..]

[Stephen Yaxley-Lennon/”Tommy Robinson”]: “Look at what has happened since I left the EDL. Look at my new platform.”

[…..]

“What I’m saying now is the same as I’ve been saying for four and a half years.”

[…..]

“There is a massive gap between what I can say and what the politicians can say. When I now sit with politicians in a TV studio, they may disagree with me but when the cameras are shut, they give me the thumbs up. So do many journalists who used to tear into me.”

[…..]

“We are thinking of a big launch where we will invite everybody and leaders of all kinds. This is what we are going to do and this is how we are going to do it. I think people are more willing to fund this than the EDL.”

[…..]

“Actually, my stance [towards Islam and Muslims] hasn’t dampened or softened at all – if people listen to what I say.”

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, writing on Twitter, 17 January 2014:

When have I slagged EDL off? Remember what I stood for? It’s what I stand for! Like I’ve forgot ! I live it every day.

This article includes nearly two dozen examples of Yaxley-Lennon’s extremely bigoted previous statements during his time with the EDL, including multiple examples clearly indicating that (a) Yaxley-Lennon’s agenda is actually racially-motivated, and (b) he is using the terms “Islam/Islamic” and “Muslim” as euphemisms for “South Asian”.

As highlighted by The Guardian in October 2013, there has been speculation that Quilliam’s actions are actually motivated by an agenda to secure new funding. Another Guardian articlefrom October 2013 quotes Maajid Nawaz himself:

Nawaz said he would work to introduce Robinson to his own contacts in government and the Home Office in an attempt to procure government funding.

EXPOSED: QUILLIAM CO-FOUNDER MAAJID NAWAZ REQUESTS TAXPAYER MONEY TO PAY STEPHEN YAXLEY-LENNON

An extensive amount of material newly released via FOI procedures has exposed the Quilliam leadership’s recent discussions with one of the British Government’s major departments.

Amongst other things, it turns out that Maajid Nawaz has been sending senior government officials begging letters requesting funding sourced from British taxpayers, in order to (a) finance Quilliam’s targeting of EDL members, and (b) especially to pay Stephen Yaxley-Lennon himself. Key extracts:

From: Maajid Nawaz
Sent: 08 October 2013 10:08
[…..]
Subject: Major development – READ now
Importance: High

[…..]

Quilliam has broken the news to the world that Quilliam has managed to facilitate the defection of the founder and leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley), and his right-hand man and co-founder Kevin Carroll from their movement. In other words, the UK’s largest right-wing street movement – the EDL – is being decapitated. By tomorrow, this will be major and probably global news.

Both men are keen to be guided by Quilliam in their transition away from this movement and towards a better way forward. In this case, Quilliam will act as a conduit.

[….]

We at Quilliam are immensely proud to have been able to help bring this transition about. We have offered to support these defections and are currently seeking to raise funds for the costs associated with supporting Tommy Robinson while he transitions away from his current financial dependency on the EDL, with a long term view of helping him reconsider his strategy and tactics under our long-term guidance.

Due to the nature of this unprecedented news, we have been coordinating this transition and all costs associated to it without a budget. Please let us know if you can urgently help us with a direct contribution so that we may fund Stephen’s transition and cut off his previous dependency on EDL donors.

Finally, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support for Quilliam as we make history in this way. Today we hope to make you proud!

Yours,
Maajid

From: Maajid Nawaz
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2013 4:52 PM

[…..]

Subject: RE: Major development – READ now

[…..]

Concerning our below announcement, here’s a news analysis that I believe sums it up well:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100241068/the-symbiotic-relationship-

between-the-edl-and-the-islamo-nutters-not-forgetting-the-anti-fascists/

I am keen to turning this into a project in which Tommy and I can start to reach out to his former members and pull them into the mainstream. Saturday’s Guardian will carry an apology by Tommy for the hurt he’s caused Muslims. Can we meet to discuss? Currently, this we have no funding in place to engage in this vital work.

Best,
Maajid

It is worth bearing in mind the following fact: British Government policy is that public money must not be used to fund extremist individuals and organisations.

QUILLIAM AND EDL CO-FOUNDER KEVIN CARROLL

Despite Maajid Nawaz’s claims in the first email quoted above, in reality Kevin Carroll has continued pushing virulently anti-Muslim views online. There have recently been two particularly glaring incidents, one of which included the endorsement of mass-murder. See here and here. As documented here, Kevin Carroll has also been openly promoting Far-Right conspiracy theories.

Maajid Nawaz and the rest of Quilliam’s leadership have (publicly) still said absolutely nothing to condemn Kevin Carroll’s latest actions, let alone preventing them in the first place.

QUILLIAM’S ATTEMPTED INFILTRATION OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT

Guardian article from 2010 discussed the fact that Quilliam drew up a secret list of individuals and groups they claimed were “Islamist extremists”, including one of Scotland Yard’s own counter-terrorism units, and sent this report directly to the director-general of the British Government’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), a directorate of the Home Office. Quilliam’s report was rejected and condemned by a range of senior figures, including the co-founder of the aforementioned counter-terrorism unit along with the Chairman of the Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee.

The aforementioned declassified emails includes the following statements by Maajid Nawaz, in an email dated 11 June 2013, inviting “Secretary of State” [sic; his full title is actually “Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government”] Eric Pickles to a Quilliam anniversary event:

The Prime Minister has indeed been listening to us. Only a week before the Woolwich murder he called upon me to visit him and the Foreign Secretary at Chequers in order to advise officials on what our governments policy should be towards new Islamist regimes in the Middle-East.

It is presently unclear if the British Government is aware of the full scale of Quilliam’s actions and affiliations, particularly the incriminating facts highlighted in this article and the preceding associated articles. Considering the Quilliam leadership’s demonstrable history of gross dishonesty, it would therefore be appropriate to give Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague, and associated senior politicians and government officials the benefit of the doubt.

New York: Man Killed 2 Women He Said Were Witches

Lina Castaneda, a victim.

Lina Castaneda, a victim.

There have been numerous witch hunts in Africa  in the name of Jesus and Christianity, in America not so much, at least since the Salem Witch trials but now a man has killed two women with a hammer because he believed they were witches–he was later found clutching a Bible. (/t: Greg)

What if he were Muslim? Rev. Deacon Spencer’s JihadWatch would be all over it.

Man Admits Killing 2 Women With Hammer, Officials Say

(NewYorkTimes)

A woman and her daughter were bludgeoned to death in their Queens home by the woman’s live-in boyfriend, who called 911 and confessed that he had “killed them because they are witches,” law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

The suspect, Carlos Amarillo, 44, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The Queens district attorney’s office said that when police officers arrived at the house at 24-10 87th Street in East Elmhurst around 12:15 a.m., they found the victims, identified as Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25, in their bedrooms. The younger woman’s 7-year-old daughter was found unharmed on the bed in her mother’s room.

The women had severe head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, the police said.

The district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said Mr. Amarillo told a 911 operator: “Two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches. I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”

A woman and her daughter were bludgeoned to death in their Queens home by the woman’s live-in boyfriend, who called 911 and confessed that he had “killed them because they are witches,” law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

The suspect, Carlos Amarillo, 44, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The Queens district attorney’s office said that when police officers arrived at the house at 24-10 87th Street in East Elmhurst around 12:15 a.m., they found the victims, identified as Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25, in their bedrooms. The younger woman’s 7-year-old daughter was found unharmed on the bed in her mother’s room.

The women had severe head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, the police said.

The district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said Mr. Amarillo told a 911 operator: “Two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches. I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”