Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

 

Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner

Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer translates Arabic into gibberish and Ergun Caner speaks gibberish claiming it to be Arabic. Seems that the Islamophobes are learning from each other.

For those familiar with the website, fake ex muslims, Ergun Caner is the poster child for “fake ex-Muslims.”

Ergun Caner Loses ‘Fair Use’ Lawsuit In Failed Attempt To Silence Critics

Submitted by Brian Tashman

Ergun Caner has lost his lawsuit against a blogger who criticized the Religious Right figure as a fraud, with a federal judge ruling last week that Caner’s case had no merit.

After the September 11 attacks, Caner built a career around his purported conversion from Islamic extremism to Christianity, but his testimony was later exposed as fictitious. Not only did he completely fabricate details about his background — including facts about his birthplace, upbringing, and his family — but he also spoke gibberish during his speeches, which he claimed was Arabic.

Caner led Liberty University’s theological seminary at the time but the university cut ties with him following the revelations and he now heads Brewton-Parker College, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

A federal judge dismissed Caner’s lawsuit, a thinly veiled attempt to shut down criticism, against blogger Jason Smathers, as the Associated Baptist Press reports today:

Ergun Caner, president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., filed a lawsuit last summer claiming ownership of two videos that Smathers posted of Caner speaking as an expert on Islamic culture in training for U.S. Marines preparing to deploy in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Terry Means, however, said Caner failed to make a case and that Smathers used the material fairly, as copyright law permits, for “purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting.”

“His sole purpose was to expose the inconsistencies in Dr. Caner’s biography and criticize a public figure,” the judge determined. If the unauthorized reproduction of his lectures caused Caner any financial loss, he continued, it was the result of “legitimate criticism” of his words.

The misuse of video “takedown notices” — the same method employed by another Religious Right activist who tried to shut down Right Wing Watch’s YouTube page — was one of the focuses of the trial. As the judge notes in his ruling [PDF], the blogger’s actions are protected as fair use.

In 2013, Dr. Caner filed a “takedown notice” with Viddler.com, claiming that the videos were posted without authorization and in violation of his copyright. Smathers challenged the removal of the videos, which ultimately resulted in the present lawsuit by Dr. Caner, alleging copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 106,506.

Smathers claims that he posted he videos featuring Dr. Caner as a religiously based criticism of a public figure and, thus, his posting constituted fair use.

The Court notes that Dr. Caner has apparently conceded this issue since he has offered no argument in his response with respect to Smathers’s assertion of fair use.

Dr. Caner’s concession notwithstanding, the facts of this case support the application of fair use.

The affirmative defense of fair use is codified at 17 U.S.C. § 107 and provides that “the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies . . . , for purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting . . . , is not an infringement of copyright.”

All of Dr. Caner’s claims of copyright infringement against Smathers are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/ergun-caner-loses-fair-use-lawsuit-after-attempt-silence-critics#sthash.o2ab5fwk.dpuf

Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

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Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

Original Guest Post

by JustStoppingBy

Both Judaism and Islam rely on oral traditions that explain and put texts into context and can help counter misperceptions of the religions.

One of the sources of Islamophobia and Judeophobia is the selective quoting of religious passages that, either taken out of their literal context or without the context of how they have been interpreted, suggest that the adherents of Islam and Judaism repeat and harbor seemingly harsh views.  When the literal context is missing, sometimes just referring to the preceding or following verses is sufficient to counter any misconceptions and let a stereotype go.  In other instances, the religions’ oral traditions may help elucidate how adherents read those verses.

As Passover approaches, I want to highlight two well-known (at least among Jews) portions of the Jewish oral tradition that appear at the Passover seder and how, in broad terms, they relate to some well-known portions of the Islamic oral tradition because they are used by adherents to help put other texts into context.  The Passover seder relates the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.  Within the story, there is a listing of the ten plagues with which the Egyptians were smitten.  As each plague is recited, Jews either spill a drop of wine or use a finger (more traditionally) or utensil to take a drop of wine from their cup and discard it on a plate or napkin.  It is not clear how far back the common explanation for this ritual goes, though it is at least as far as Rabbi Yitzhak Ben Yehuda Abarbanel, or Don Isaac Abarbanel. (1437-1508) who wrote, “The custom is to drip drops of wine out of the cup when counting the plagues to indicate that our joy is not whole because on our account an entire people was punished. Even though the enemy deserved that defeat, it does not cause us real joy.”

My guess is that the explanation, if not the tradition itself, developed over time.  A likely reason is that Jews saw a “difficult text,” or one that can have multiple interpretations, and wished to emphasize the interpretations that resonated with their view of their religion’s morality.  A similar portion of oral history that works its way into many seders  is a midrash, or interpretation of the Torah, found in the Talmud that describes what was happening in Heaven as the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army that was pursuing the Children of Israel: “The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said, The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns?”  As is the case with many midrashim, some Jews take this as a literal revelation and others as a story made up later to provide a moral lesson.  For my purposes here, it does not matter which it is.  Rather, what matters is that hundreds of years after this midrash was first recorded, Jews find it worthwhile to retell every year because it provides context for our understanding of an important Jewish text.

Turning to Islam, I would like to highlight a few portions of its oral history.  One I take from anessay by Imam Shamsi Ali, who writes, “Our oral history records Muhammad’s last sermon as containing the following guidance: ‘Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another.  No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another.  You are brothers.’”   I chose this quote not because of its meaning, but because of how Imam Shamsi Ali explicitly ties it to the oral history.  Still, an Internet search shows that this is indeed a popular quote, appearing in numerous locations.  That should not be surprising given that it is the type of quote that should resonate with Muslims when thinking about the moral messages provided by Islam, with the equality of human beings being one of those messages.

A second piece of the Muslim oral tradition was cited by Arsalan Iftikhar in his interview with Loonwatch: “…we should be reminded of a well-known Islamic parable that tells the story of the Prophet Mohammed and his interactions with an unruly female neighbor, who would curse him violently and then dump garbage on him from her top window each time he walked by her house. One day, the prophet noticed that the woman was not there. In the spirit of true kindness, he went out of his way to inquire about her well-being. He then went on to visit his unfriendly neighbor at her bedside when he found that she had fallen seriously ill.”  This is indeed a well-known parable, found frequently on the web, including in comments at Loonwatch.

But, here is one potentially surprising thing about this particular story: it is not clear that it is authentic.  While there are similar stories, some investigations of this particular one have yielded results such as “I have not found a basis for this specific incident in the books of hadeeth or reliable works of prophetic biography, and it seems as though this story has become popular on the tongues of people without any source to support it, and Allah knows best” as well as “although the record of this particular incident is found in almost all the books of ‘Seerah’ or biography of the Prophet (saws) and is oft-repeated by the Muslims, to the best of our knowledge there is no record of this specific incident in any of the authentic and established Books of Sunnah. And Allah Alone Knows Best.”  As with the midrash on the angels preparing to rejoice, for my purposes it does not matter if this story is authentic.  The fact that this story is so popular even without it being found in what may be called the reliable or authentic hadith or Books of Sunnah only strengthens the point that Muslims repeat this story not because they are “forced” to because it is part of canonical literature that must be repeated, but, rather, they repeat it because its message resonates with their view of the morality of Islam.

Another reason that I chose the quotation provided from Imam Shamsi Ali is the further observation provided by his co-author, Rabbi Marc Schneier, in one of his essays in the samebook.  Rabbi Schneier writes, “Most Jews and most Muslims, however, are simply unaware of the good news that the other side has an oral tradition that moderates the sometimes harsh language of the written law.  The ignorance among the majority in both faiths allows the demagogic purveyors of hate to peddle their poison virtually unchallenged.”

Compare this with a statement by one such demagogic purveyor of hate, Robert Spencer, who has written, “Rabbinic Judaism ever since the destruction of the Temple had evolved non-literal ways to understand such commands, while in Islam such literal interpretation is still very much alive.”  In fact, Spencer is misleadingly inaccurate on both counts: Judaism had evolved non-literal ways of interpreting “problem texts” before the destruction of the Temple, and there are both literal and non-literal interpretations of “problem texts” very much alive in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.   It is the latter point, however, that is the more important.  By suggesting solely that there are literal interpretations of “problem texts” in Islam, Spencer hides the existence of similar interpretations in Judaism and Christianity as well as the many Muslims who highlight stories such as Muhammad’s concern for a woman who would throw trash on him (whether the story is literally true or not) as a lens through which they interpret any texts that could be read to call for retaliation for aggressive acts.  As Imam Shamsi Ali writes in one essay, “The guidance found in scripture is not meant to be taken only literally.  … Our stance is that though the Qur’an is sometimes exact, to extrapolate the wisdom in its passages, we need not see the texts as simply static, literal words.”

Strikingly, the Qur’an has no problem citing Jewish Oral Law.  “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” Qur’an 5:32.  The reference may be to Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 (“Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world. Furthermore, only one man, Adam, was created for the sake of peace among men, so that no one should say to his fellow, ‘My father was greater than yours…’”) or potentially other similar references such as Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a).  Whether one  believes an Islamic interpretation that Qur’an 5:32 was revealed to Muhammad, or a secular one that the ayah  repeats something that Muhammad heard, this ayah shows a continuity of belief and a tie between the oral Jewish tradition (which by that point had been written down) and written Muslim tradition.

Yet for some “demagogic purveyors of hate,” as Rabbi Schneier calls them, this is not a sign that Muslims view the Qur’an as part of a continuous revelation sometimes referencing Jewish and Christian scriptures.  Instead, these Islamophobes claim to “find further proof of plagiarism of apocryphal Jewish literature; this time in the Jewish Mishnah Sanhedrin” or title a section of an anti-Islam screed “Plagiarism in Quran,” citing the same passages.   If only the Qur’an had managed to avoid the charge of plagiarism by introducing the text by saying something like “We decreed upon the Children of Israel.”  Oh wait, it did!  Presumably, the demagogic purveyors of hate would not be satisfied with anything short of a footnote and embedded hyperlink in the text when it was compiled over 1300 years ago.

Certain Islamophobes who accuse the Qur’an of plagiarism in this verse, despite the explicit reference to a decree to the Children of Israel, seem less concerned with how Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:12 (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”) does not reference Tobit 7:15 (“And what you hate, do not do to anyone”) or a well-known (among Jews) saying of Hillel the Elder(traditionally c. 110 BCE, died 7 CE): “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”  One notable demagogic purveyor of hate, Ali Sina, has written, “There is nothing in the Quran and Hadith that would make us believe that Islam is compatible with the Golden Rule.”  Actually, Wikipedia provides a dozen quotes from the Qur’an and Hadith that are variants of the Golden Rule.  The one that struck me the most was one that echoed Hillel: “A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: ‘As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]’ —Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146.”

All three of the Abrahamic faiths thus not only cite the Golden Rule in some form, but have traditions citing it as a maxim that sums up the morality of their religious texts or beliefs.  It is only by being selective in what they cite from the written and oral traditions that the demagogic purveyors of hate could hope to obscure this commonality.   Instead, it is worth taking the time to review the full range of the traditions of each religion, notably those cited repeatedly by their adherents because they resonate with their view of their religion’s morality.  And then, it is time to let the stereotype, and the stirrup, go.

When Neo-Cons And Liberals Unite: The Case of Anti-Muslim Crusader Ayaan Hirsi Ali

 

by  on April 12, 2014 in FeatureLoon-at-large

 

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By Garibaldi

For far too long Liberal and Neo-Con supporters of Ayaan Hirsi Ali have either ignored, evaded, denied or flat out refused to acknowledge the existence of her hateful beliefs and agenda. One likely reason is that they have spent years promoting Ayaan in every conceivable way and instead of facing the reality of her philosophy, and the implications of her proposed policy solutions to the so-called “Muslim problem,” they have chosen to bury their heads in the sand.

The recent controversy over Brandeis University first awarding and then withdrawing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “honorary degree” has demasked a lot of individuals who proclaim that they are about “equality,” “rationality,” “fairness,” “acceptance,” “freedom,” and against “violence” and “hatred.”

Take prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, who, as RazaInc. brought to our attention, used his perch as a respectable academic to rally support behind Ayaan and vilify Brandeis’ decision:

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Steven_Pinker2

Michael Shermer, editor of the Scientific American had the blind audacity to compare Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Martin Luther King, Jr.! Comparing a preacher of non-violent peaceful civil disobedience to an individual who advocates militarily “crushing Islam.” The irony!

Michael_Shermer

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFrF), an avowed secularists/atheists organization that has in the past awarded Ayaan Hirsi Ali its “Emperor has no clothes award,” (looks like FFrF actually has no clothes) came to Ayaan’s defense. FFrF uncritically parroted the liesAyaan Hirsi Ali has propagated about much of her personal biography and called on its supporters to tell Brandeis to “apologize and re-offer its honorary degree.”

Sectarian New Atheists of all political bents from the libertarian Neo-Con Sam Harris to liberals such as Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher have in the past happily trotted out Ayaan Hirsi Ali as their tokenized anti-Muslim heroine. Of course they weren’t going to allow for any criticism of their pal, and like clockwork they were backing her up:

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So what company do these Atheist academics, institutions, Neo-Cons and Liberals find themselves in? Islamophobes. Such as the banned from the UK Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller and extreme right news outlets like Breitbart (whose journalist Pat Dullard called for “massacring Muslims in the street”), Right-Wing NewsHuman Events, etc.

For her part, Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not engage the substantive criticism of students, faculty and others who called her out on her anti-Muslim invective. Instead she falsely, and with her characteristic bigotry suggests that Brandeis’ withdrawal was motivated by fear of violence from offended Muslims.

The poverty of mainstream journalism has also been exposed, as most, if not all major newspapers and media outlets continue to falsely describe Ayaan Hirsi Ali as a “critic of Islam.”

Brandeis students nix Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali. What a pity.–Los Angeles Times
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Victim of an honor killing, Brandeis-style–Fox News
Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam–The New York Times
Brandeis withdraws honor to activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam–Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Tablet Gives Moses Award to Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Tablet Magazine (Interestingly as Matt Berkman notes “Your parenthetical claim that you upheld the same principle when Rashid Khalidi and John Judis were disinvited is disingenuous. What you actually did was say that disinviting people is ‘heavy-handed and inelegant,’ and then went on to argue that critics of Israel should not be allowed to speak in Jewish venues to begin with (quote: ‘To argue that only an openness to all points of view is acceptable… is to adhere to the most flightless form of relativism’”))
Brandeis, Unlike Hirsi Ali, Surrendered to Intimidation–National Review Online
Brandeis won’t give honorary degree to Islam critic–Boston Globe
Under fire, Brandeis cancels plan to honor anti-Islam feminist Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Christian Science Monitor
Brandeis Scraps Honor for Dutch Anti-Islam Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Jewish Daily Forward
Human Rights Activist Slams University’s ‘Deplorable’ Move to Withdraw Honorary Degree Because of Her Critical Comments About Islam–The Blaze
Brandeis Backtracks on Honor for Activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Critic of Islam–The Wall Street Journal

Ayaan supporters like Steven Pinker, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Freedom From Religion Foundation, David Silverman, Atheists of America, mainstream newspapers and media outlets that describe Ayaan as an “Islam critic” and “feminist” need to stop abetting mendacity, be honest and answer the following questions:

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that “we are at war with Islam?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that “Islam must be crushed,” in “all forms,” including “militarily?”

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the US Constitution should be changed specifically to discriminate against Muslims, strip them of their civil rights? “Abolish Muslim schools?”

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the veil should be banned in France and minarets in Switzerland?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that the “silence of the Left-wing” is responsible for the heinous mass murders by Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik (who thought Ayaan deserved a “Noble Prize”)?

-Do you believe, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali does, that Atheists and Christians must get “into the business of conversion?

These are only a few of the questions that supporters of Ayaan must answer or they are complicit in her beliefs and stand accused of their silence being their assent.

The last point I want to revisit is that there is an assumption by Neo-Con and Liberal supporters of Ayaan that she is a “women’s rights” activist and champion. What exactly has she done for women’s rights? Who has she helped?

The truth is that Ayaan actually uses serious issues around injustices in the Muslim world to promote herself (much like Clarion Fund has done with Honor Diaries). Her supporters see a self-affirming image, one that validates their beliefs: atheism, the backwardness, barbarity and danger of Islam and Muslims.

As Muslim/Islam bashers continue to blindly support Ayaan’s hatred, heroic Muslim women and their allies (including, gasp! many Muslim men) continue to challenge the injustices before them in their nations and locales. Whether it is the work of Ifrah Ahmed to end FGMAsma Hanif of Muslimat an Nisa‘s work with homeless and battered women, or organizations likeBAOBAB in Nigeria that promote women’s rights within a customary, statutory and religious law paradigm.

Also read:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an Islamophobe who hates all muslims

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the Challenge of Progressive Critique

Islamismism: Hirsi, Berman and Ramadan on Islam

 

U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

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U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

(Imagine 2050)

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has once again become the subject of controversy after he led supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant during a campaign rally last month. Despite the mass condemnation he has received for the remarks, Wilders’ anti-Muslim counterparts in the United States are standing by his draconian approach to immigration.

While at the rally in The Hague, Wilders, who heads the Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the crowd: “Do you want in this city more or fewer Moroccans?” to which they chanted, “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”

“We’ll take care of that,” he responded with a wry smile.

Wilders later defended his comments and outlined his party’s plans to uphold his promise by “limiting immigration from Islamic countries, including Morocco” and promoting “re-emigration.” Wilders also plans on “deporting criminal Moroccans by revoking their Dutch passports” — as well as their dual-citizenship — and “sending them back to their country of their nationality.”

However, many PVV members believe Wilders has gone too far with his latest spectacle, and has led to a crisis within its ranks. Many have chosen to resign and disassociate themselves from the party, including Laurence Stassen who represents PVV in the European Parliament. “I deeply regret having to take this decision, but staying in my function was not an option after these comments,” she said in a statement.

Despite the mass exodus from his own party, anti-Muslim activists in the United States continue to uphold Wilders as a symbol of resistance against the devastation they believe will come as a result of an increased Muslim population:

  • Longtime anti-Muslim activist Daniel Pipes said although he didn’t agree with Wilders’ tactics, he sympathized with his goal of curbing immigration. “It is entirely understandable that the indigenous peoples of a country feel stress when large numbers of immigrants from an alien civilization, more than a few of them hostile, move in,” he said on his website.
  • Frank Gaffney took to his radio show to say Wilders is representing the “free world.” During the show, Gaffney described PVV’s policy as being a subscript for “describing the affliction that immigration, some of it illegal, has represented for a country like the Netherlands.”
  • Islamphobic columnist Diana West joined Gaffney on his show and took issue with the negative media coverage Wilders has received. She implied she saw nothing wrong with his comments because “Moroccans top the charts in criminality” as well as in “social dependence.” In another column at the Columbia Daily Herald, West defended Wilders anti-immigrant stance by posing the question: “Is it ‘racism’ to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation clearly underway?”
  • David Horowitz Freedom Center fellow Bruce Bawer also defended Wilders at FrontPage Magazine. He said he doesn’t see him as a “bigot,” but instead as “the real thing: a brave, selfless man determined to steer the ship of state through turbulent waters safely into port.” He added: “The Dutch would be fools to throw him overboard.”

Wilders’ latest diatribe is rooted in an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform that has made him one of the most prominent figures of the global Islamophobia movement. He has previously advocated against the construction of any new mosques in the Netherlands, claiming they are a “symbol of an ideology of hatred, violence and oppression.” He has also equated the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. Wilders spent the summer forming a new political alliance with France’s far-Right National Front party leader, Marine Le Pen. Their goal is to take on the European Parliament this year. Both parties blame immigration and multiculturalism for Europe’s economic malaise and supposed loss of identity.

Even at a time when Wilders’ own party is trying to distance themselves from his extreme rhetoric, those in the broader anti-Muslim movement continue to show their unwavering support for him.

Robert James Talbot: Texas terrorist was a fan of Pamela Geller

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American-Insurgent-Movement

FBI smashes alleged radical-right terror plot in Texas – US media show little interest

FBI agents in Texas have arrested a man who allegedly was plotting to use C-4 explosives and weapons to kill police officers, rob banks and armored cars, and blow up government buildings and mosques, authorities announced today.

Robert James Talbot Jr., 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested Thursday on federal charges of attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material, the FBI said.

After setting up a Facebook page called American Insurgent Movement (AIM), Talbot allegedly sought to recruit five or six like-minded people who wanted “to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.” He wrote this year on the AIM page that he was seeking people interested in “walking away from your life … to stop the regime.”

The crimes Talbot was plotting to carry out – detailed in a six-page criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas – sound eerily similar to a series of terrorist attacks carried out 30 years ago by members of an infamous neo-Nazi group called The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood (or Brüders Schweigen in German). There’s just one big difference: Talbot talked about some of his planned crimes on Facebook, the complaint says, while The Order committed murders, robbed armored cars, and carried out a number of other attacks.

Talbot was expected to be held without bond as a flight risk and danger to the community after an initial appearance today before a U.S. magistrate judge in Houston.

Court documents say the FBI opened an investigation into Talbot’s activities last August after learning of his desire to recruit others for terror attacks. The “like-minded” individuals he initially attracted worked for the FBI, it turns out. The FBI used a confidential informant and two undercover FBI agents assigned to the agency’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

On Oct. 18, 2013, the complaint says, Talbot asked his new recruits about their willingness to walk away from their current employment and join him in robbing banks to fund the revolution he envisioned. Talbot posted on Facebook that he had gone to four Bank of America branches to “play observation.” Talbot allegedly urged “anyone who robs these banks to kill everyone working for the ‘banking Cartels’ during the heist.”

Talbot’s Facebook post continued: “That is exactly what I will have my men do during the heist. Same goes with the Muslims. Mosques are to be a blast! With three of my guys with FA [full automatic] AK’s [AK-47 semi-automatic rifles], we will send that white house worthless piece of dirt and his Muslim brotherhood a message they will never forget.”

Southern Poverty Law Centre, 28 March 2014

See also Robyn Pennacchia, “So, did you guys hear we caught a terrorist last week?”,Death and Taxes, 31 March 2014


As was the case with Anders Breivik, Talbot’s hatred of Muslims appears to have been inspired by the likes of Pamela Geller:

AIM takes inspiration from Geller

The return of ‘puppy jihad’

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The return of ‘puppy jihad’

You may remember from last year the laughable story about the Muslim Brotherhood using puppies as weapons by dousing them in petrol, setting them on fire and then throwing them at the Egyptian army. Both Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller reduced themselves to objects of ridicule by taking that nonsense seriously.

Well, apparently this form of urban warfare has caught on elsewhere. Under the headline “Puppy jihad: New levels of cruelty reached by Muslims in Jerusalem”, Geller reports that Palestinians in the West Bank town of Abu Dis have attacked an Israeli police patrol by throwing four puppies at them, resulting in the death of the animals so callously used as missiles.

Quite what military advantage the perpetrators hoped to gain from their action is unclear, as in this case the puppies weren’t even set alight. But according to the report reproduced by Geller, Palestinians now prefer to throw soft, furry animals rather than rocks at Israeli state forces.

Geller happily repeats this story, which originates on a Facebook page rather than the Israeli press, while quoting the same hadiths that Spencer used to explain the first case of “puppy jihad”. In the present case, Spencer has so far failed to endorse the report. Perhaps he reasons that, having made a laughing stock of himself once, there’s no point doing so a second time.

Robert Spencer’s Dutch Ally Geert Wilder’s Party Faces ‘Split’ Over His Racist Chant

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Robert Spencer’s Dutch Ally Geert Wilder’s Party Faces ‘Split’ Over His Racist Chant

This is not really surprising, Geert Wilders is a racist.

‘Split’ in Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party following racist chant outrage

A speech made by the leader of the Holland’s far-right Freedom Party has caused a rift among its members, according to Dutch media reports.

Earlier in the week, Geert Wilders encouraged followers to chant racist slogans against Moroccans.

He addressed the meeting:
“So I ask what do you want in this city more or fewer Moroccans?”

“Fewer,” the crowd chanted.

His comments were also promoted on the Freedom Party website. They have triggered indignation among politicians and immigrant groups.

In response, young Moroccans have launched a social media campaign called ‘born here’ in which they post pictures of themselves alongside their Dutch passports.

Meanwhile, last November, the populist leader purportedly struck a deal with his French counterpart, Marine Le Pen.

Their aim is reportedly to bring down the European Parliament from within.

Together, they are expected to seek to exploit the euroscepticism soaring across the EU ahead of the European elections in May.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

Swedish Defence League leader jailed

Kamil Ryba, SDL

Swedish Defence League leader jailed 

The anti-fascist publication Expo has reported that Kamil Ryba, head of the EDL’s sister organisation the Swedish Defence League, has been sentenced to six months in prison for threatening the staff at GT, the Göteborg edition of the Swedish daily Expressen.

Ryba turned up at the GT offices last December to protest against Expressen publishing the names of people who had anonymously incited racial hatred. He threw an egg and said he would come back with a knife next time. Ryba subsequently returned and left a package containing a knife and a copy of the Qur’an, which was addressed to the editors of Expressen and GT. The package was seen as a possible bomb threat and GT staff were forced to evacuate the building.

Ryba pleaded not guilty. According to GT, he claimed that by including a knife with the Qur’an he intended to convey that Islam is a violent ideology, not a religion. However, he was convicted of the offence of violating civil liberty, on the grounds that he had made threats that endangered freedom of expression. Ryba’s lawyer stated that he will appeal against the verdict.

Kamil Ryba with Stephen Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”), Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller at ‘counterjihad’ rally in Stockholm in 2012

 

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.