Canada’s George W. Bush, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is still in power and still contemptuous of Muslim Canadians.
Harper’s spokesman Jason MacDonald has condemned the government for ignoring legitimate concerns while at the same time flinging libelous claims at the National Council of Canadian Muslims as “Hamas-linked,” echoing the way in which Islamophobes such as Robert Spencerand Pamela Geller describe any prominent Muslim organizations.
It will be a matter of time before the Canadian Zuhdi Jasser, Tarek Fatah is trotted out to repeat the government line and put an “acceptable” Muslim face on MacDonald’s libel.
A major Canadian Muslim group is demanding an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his chief spokesman for a comment it says linked the organization to the militant group Hamas.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims has filed a notice of libel in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that accuses Jason MacDonald of acting maliciously when he made the comment earlier this month.
The council had criticized the inclusion of a controversial rabbi in Harper’s delegation that went to the Middle East last week.
“Rather than responding to our legitimate concerns, the PMO’s director of communications attacked us and attempted to smear our name by claiming NCCM had ‘documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas,”‘ Ihsaan Gardee, the council’s executive director, told a news conference Tuesday.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. NCCM will not let the PMO’s false statement stand.”
The council says MacDonald’s comment was a deliberate attempt to discredit the group and Harper is responsible for the words uttered by his spokesman. On CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, Gardee told host Evan Solomon that “this is school-yard bully tactics – an attempt to silence dissent from anybody who has a differing view or anybody who asks a question of this government that is more difficult to answer than did the sun rise in the east this morning.”
The libel notice is the first step in what could become a formal lawsuit.
The Prime Minister’s Office responded tersely: “As this matter may be the subject of litigation, we have no further comment.”
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told Solomon that he couldn’t comment, but directed Canadians to the internet. “I’d encourage any Canadian to Google the group in question, and do some research on their own and come to their own conclusions.”
Gardee was dismissive of that tactic: “If it’s on the internet it must be true. C’mon.”
Further legal action possible
Further legal action is possible, said Nader Hassan, lawyer for the council.
“Whether we go through with the lawsuit is going to depend on a number of factors, namely the quality, timing and content of the public apology and retraction,” he said.
Gardee said MacDonald’s comment was “categorically false, offensive and defamatory.”
The libel notice says MacDonald’s statement was unwarranted.
“The defamatory words were stated maliciously in order to discredit and insult an organization that did nothing other than exercise its constitutional right to freedom of expression to criticize a decision made by the prime minister,” it said.
“Mr. MacDonald simply made up that statement in an effort to discredit NCCM and deflect its criticism of Mr. Harper.”
The council describes itself as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit group which has worked for 14 years on human rights and civil liberties issues on behalf of Canadian Muslims. Gardee told Solomon the group has never shared any funding, staff or board members with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a U.S. group that has also faced allegations of ties to militant groups.
The groups shared names (NCCM was known as CAIR-CAN) until July 2013. Gardee said the Canadian group only used the name because CAIR was well recognized within the Muslim civil liberties movement.
A half-dozen other rights groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of University Teachers, have offered support to the Muslim group.
Farhat Rehman of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said more than just the council was impacted by the remark.
“This defamation endangers the very valuable work of NCCM and goes against every Canadian democratic principle,” she said.
“Further, it exposes the members of NCCM and the whole Muslim community to suspicion, hatred and bigotry.”
Even President Obama is not safe from the Hamas smear
Lauren Green’s interview of Reza Aslan backfired on Fox News. Green’s obvious bias generated sympathy for Aslan. Many Americans were horrified at her blatant display of Islamophobia. Yet, Lauren Green’s statements were actually very mild compared to the anti-Muslim smears that Reza Aslan and other prominent Muslims are routinelysubjected to–which few Americans speak out against.
Perhaps the crudest attack–used almost invariably against a Muslim who reaches any form of prominence whatsoever–is the Hamas smear. Its ubiquity is such that we ought to name a law after it. We’ve all heard of Godwin’s Law:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
The Hamas smear deserves its own law. For vanity’s sake, let’s call it Danios’s Law. And, it goes something like this:
As a Muslim person becomes more prominent, the probability of anti-Muslim bigots linking that Muslim to Hamas* approaches 1.
*Or some other extremist group
It may not sound as elegant as Godwin’s Law, but it’s equally true.
How commonly the Hamas smear is used against Muslims became painfully obvious when I read Salon essayist Wajahat Ali’s guest article he wrote for LoonWatch. Ali masterfully used comedy to make impotent the very ugly “stealth jihadist” accusations levied against Muslims. Then, I realized that Muslims in general tend to have a running joke about this, since the Hamas smear is so prevalent against them. They have re-appropriated the smear, much as black Americans have re-appropriated the n-word. That’s how common (and hurtful) the bigoted slur has become.
Front Page Magazine and other right-wing media outlets tied Wajahat Ali to Hamas by pointing out that Ali was a member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) during college. This, even though his joining the MSA during college is as intuitive as a black, Mexican, or Jewish person joining the black student union, the Mexican-American Student Association, or the Jewish Student Union respectively.
Islamophobes often use the MSA or CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to play a connect-the-dots game back to Hamas. CAIR is the largest and most respected American Muslim civil rights organization. Once again using dubious connections, CAIR is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, and in turn, to Hamas. With both the MSA (the largest American Muslim college organization) and CAIR (the largest American Muslim civil rights organization) connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and from there to Hamas, it is only a matter of connecting an American Muslim to the MSA or CAIR in order to link that individual to Hamas itself.
Sooner or later, any prominent Muslim is bound to be smeared in this way and linked to Hamas or some other radical organization. Even Rima Fakih, the Arab-American beauty pageant contestant who won Miss USA, was not safe from the smear. She stood accused of being tied to Hezbollah. The Hezbollah smear is a modified version of the Hamas smear, often employed against Shi’ite Muslims. (Hamas is a Sunni organization, whereas Hezbollah is a Shi’ite one.) In other words, being a bikini-clad beauty pageant winner is not enough to insulate oneself from being called a radical “Islamist.”
After the now notorious Fox News interview, the Daily Caller published an article claiming that Reza Aslan has “ties to extreme Islamists” and “is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Elsewhere Aslan was called a “Khomeinist” and tied to the Iranian regime (yet another Shi’ite-centric version of the Hamas smear). These six degrees of separation sort of accusations are far more pernicious than anything Lauren Green said to Reza Aslan. They reek of McCarthyism, with “Islamism” being substituted for communism.
The list of American Muslims libeled with the Hamas smear is endless. But, what’s interesting is that not even non-Muslims are safe from this smear. President Barack Obama, who has a Muslim-ish enough sounding name, has been tied to both the Muslim Brotherhood and, in turn, Hamas.
I write for LoonWatch.com, arguably the internet’s most popular Islamophobia watchdog website. And, lo and behold, it did not take long for the Hamas smear to come along my way. The Islamophobes don’t even know my faith but they are certain that I am an “Islamist” and Hamas supporter. Whether a Muslim or simply a “Muslim sympathizer”, one can automatically be linked to Hamas using the Islamophobic approach.
Eric Allen Bell, a former diarist for The Daily Kos (he was banned by the unanimous consensus of the Daily Kos community for being an unrestrained bigot), accused LoonWatch of being tied to Hamas. Bell’s “connecting-the-dots” mentality and “math” prove how loosely the Hamas smear is used; Bell opined:
Loonwatch works with CAIR by broadcasting CAIR’s point of view. They are very consistent on this. Loonwatch is never in disagreement with CAIR. CAIR thanks Loonwatch in their “Hate Report”.
Connecting all of these dots is deeply, deeply concerning. Here is the math: Out of the Muslim Brotherhood come a number of terrorist organizations including Al Queda and Hamas. Out of Hamas comes C.A.I.R. and Loonwatch becomes a mirror for anything that C.A.I.R. wants to convey to Americans about how harmless Islam is.
All the evidence Eric Allen Bell needs is that “LoonWatch is never in disagreement with CAIR”, ergo LoonWatch must be working with CAIR. Does it take a mathematician to figure out the flaw in his “math” and the logical fallacy here?
Alright, so LoonWatch is linked to CAIR because we are, according to him, “never in disagreement”–and because CAIR supposedly thanks us in their “Hate Report” (I wonder why an American Muslim civil rights group would thank a website that monitors Islamophobia?). Ergo, LoonWatch = CAIR. Since Hamas = CAIR, therefore LoonWatch = Hamas. Oh yeah, let’s throw in Al-Qaeda into the mix as well. You see, it’s so plain to see, LoonWatch = CAIR = Hamas = Al-Qaeda.
Searching “LoonWatch” on YouTube reveals a video entitled “Loonwatch and Hamas”, created by a regular commentator on JihadWatch. The video is a painful ten minutes long, with a rambling “connect-the-dots” approach to smear me. What’s interesting is that the Islamophobic narrator mentions that I specifically condemned and denounced Hamas (which is what right-wingers always demand of Muslims and their sympathizers: “Do you, sir, condemn Hamas?”), but then goes on to explain why my condemnation and denouncement of Hamas aren’t genuine.
Hamas and LoonWatch Video:
So, what’s his argument to make this claim? The narrator intones: “A look at the numerous LoonWatch pages that come up from the term ‘Hamas’, we see that Danios and Hamas are quite compatible politically.” Really? I’m a strong supporter of pluralistic, secular, liberal democracy, whereas Hamas supports an ultra-conservative Islamic “Sharia state.” How’s that for compatibility?
The narrator then points to an article I wrote about Debbie Schlussel. In that article, I criticized Schlussel for insulting the victims of the Oslo terrorist attack in which seventy-seven innocent people were killed by a far-right wing extremist. Schlussel called the child victims of this heinous attack “bitches.” Interestingly, in the article I also pointed out that Schlussel linked the victims to Hamas, calling them “HAMASniks.” (Here again we see the Hamas smear in action, this time against murdered children.)
I passingly mention the Freedom Flotilla in the article, because Debbie Schlussel accused the child victims of having sympathized with it. (The Freedom Flotilla had attempted to provide humanitarian aid to the starving people of Gaza.) There is the narrator’s hook! He says that we should “place the Flotilla at the center of our discussion.”
The connect-the-dots is about to begin. It’s confusing, but it goes something like this:
Danios writes an article where the Freedom Flotilla is mentioned –> The Freedom Flotilla was organized by the Turkish NGO IHH and the Free Gaza movement –> the Free Gaza Movement is made up of forty different groups and individuals –> Huwaida Arraf (an Arab-American Christianby the way) is one of these people –> Arraf is the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement –> The International Solidarity Movement’s website linked to the Free Marwan Barghouti campaign –> Huwaida Arraf is dedicated to her beliefs so much so that she would die for them –> Martyrdom is a hallmark of Hamas, therefore –> Huwaida Arraf = Hamas. Therefore, as you can clearly see, Danios = Hamas. Don’t you see?
The rest of the video goes on to find more threads between the Freedom Flotilla movement and Hamas, then linking all of that somehow to me. (I have nothing to do with the Freedom Flotilla, by the way.)
Oh yes, and we are told that our website LoonWatch.com also links to the “Hamas apologist Glenn Greenwald.” (Yet another “Muslim sympathizer” tarnished with the Hamas smear.)
The Hamas smear is an empty and meaningless line of attack, devoid of any intellectual substance. Unfortunately, however, it is all too often an effective means of tarnishing a person’s character. The only silver lining is that the Hamas smear is used so often and so flippantly by the Islamophobes that they might actually just wear it out.
Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
Operation Cast Lead Redux
A familiar script is being played out in front of the world’s eyes. After US Presidential elections and before national elections Israel is launching air strikes and threatening a ground invasion on the beleaguered Gaza strip, one of the most densely populated regions in the world, 1 million of whom are refugees from the 1948 creation of the state of Israel. The Israeli government says its attacks are only in “self-defense,” to put an end to militant rocket attacks when in fact the assault only re-energizes the cycle of violence and increases extremism and barely dents the capability of militant groups. Such operations are only meant to perpetuate the status quo, helping neither innocent Israelis or Gazans. As UC Irvine professor Mark LeVine notes,
It is deja vu all over again of the worst kind. Israel’s latest assault on Gaza will kill dozens and perhaps hundreds of civilians in a hail of hellfire from the ground, sky and even sea. Hamas will fire hundreds of rockets, likely killing a few Israeli civilians and terrorising tens of thousands of residents of the south of the country, but otherwise achieving little beyond helping to justify even more Israeli carnage in Gaza and who knows how many new housing units in the West Bank.
Outside of the benighted territory of Palestine/Israel sides will be chosen – at least for the cameras. The US will give “full-throttled support” for its ally. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president will feign outrage, bring home his ambassador, and otherwise stay safely out of the way. The Arab League and the UN Security Council will meet and make strongly-vaguely worded pronouncements. Or not. It really doesn’t matter.
Meanwhile, death, destruction and hopelessness will continue until yet another truce is declared. Each side – or rather, the worst elements of each side, will declare “victory” and arrogate even more political and economic power to themselves. And then the whole process will begin again.
Gazans, stuck between two occupying regimes: a suffocating Israeli apartheid program of siege and occupation and an authoritarian and stupid Hamas regime are again bearing the brunt of Israeli military violence. See:Pictures of Israel’s Offensive in Gaza.
In the USA, the mainstream media is swallowing, hook, line and sinker the Israeli narrative that it is just “defending” itself when in fact the story is more nuanced. The recent operation dubbed “Operation Pillar of Defense” broke an informal ceasefire,
Israel is threatening to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after breaking an informal ceasefire with a series of ongoing deadly attacks. On Wednesday, an Israeli air strike assassinated Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing. The bombing continued throughout the day and night, killing at least 13 civilians, including a baby and a mother pregnant with twins. More than 100 Palestinians were also wounded, and the toll is expected to rise. At least three Israelis were killed today when Palestinian rockets hit a residential building in the town of Kiryat Malachi, the first Israeli fatalities since the latest fighting began. Israel says it has launched the strikes to prevent Palestinian rocket fire, but the latest round of violence began last week when Israeli troops killed a young boy in Gaza. The situation has escalated since Saturday, when Palestinian militants fired at an Israeli military vehicle near the Israel-Gaza border. After Palestinian militant groups agreed to an informal truce on Monday, Israel broke two days of quiet on Wednesday.
Watch Amy Goodman’s interview with reporter Mohammed Omer, who is on the ground in Gaza:
Of course nothing seems to give more joy to Islamophobes than dead Palestinians. It’s a running theme that was there before the recent conflagration of violence and will be there afterwards and so it is no surprise that they are cheerleading Israel’s assault.
Finally. Godspeed to the beleaguered Jewish state. A decade of rockets into Southern Israel and now daily rocket attacks into homes and schools, in concert with an American president who supports jihad.
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, defeat jihad.
Robert Spencer, frolicking in fantasy land is on the record denying that Israel ever ‘harms civilians,’ terming it “propaganda,” he also puts “Palestinian” in scary quote marks (implying they aren’t real),
They [international media] aid and abet the “Palestinian” propaganda about Israelis harming civilians.
There will surely be more kooky pro-Israel-attack-on-Gaza spin to come from the Islamophobic looniverse. We’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime keep the innocents in your thoughts and prayers. The two state solution is dead and all we are witnessing is a waste of lives, time and energy.
“Most USA media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies. Time’s Middle East correspondent Rania Abouzeid noted this morning on Twitter the typical template: “Just read report in major US paper about Gaza/Israel that put Israeli dead in 1st sentence. Palestinian in 6th paragraph.” Or just consider the BBC’s headline. Worse, this morning’s New York Times editorial self-consciously drapes itself with pro-Israel caveats and completely ignores the extensive civilian deaths in Gaza before identifying this as one of the only flaws it could find with the lethal Israeli assault: “The action also threatens to divert attention from what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly described as Israel’s biggest security threat: Iran’s nuclear program.”
In what I know will be a fruitless attempt to avoid having this discussion subsumed by that tired script: I will recommend several outstanding, truly must-read pieces written by others over the last 24 hours in lieu of my own reciting of the various arguments. Begin with this article by Yousef Munayyer in the Daily Beast setting the crucial context for the rocket attacks from Gaza; then read this Daily Beast news-breaking account from Gershon Baskin, who details how the provocations from the Israelis were geared toward disrupting an imminent peace deal with Hamas (“The assassination of Jaabari was a pre-emptive strike against the possibility of a long term ceasefire”); also vital is this time-line of events leading up to the rocket attacks from Gaza, with ample documentation from Ali Abunimah; and finally, there is this very succinct but poignant summary of what Israel has done over the last three weeks.”
Update II: Israel ‘s military offensive “Pillar of Defense” in Hebrew is (עמוד ענן, Amúd Anán), named after a Biblical Hebrew war story about God terrorizing Egyptians, (h/t: Jack)
“By the way: the IDF ‘translates’ the name of the military operation (עמוד ענן, Amúd Anán) as ‘Pillar of Defense’ for English speaking audiences, but if you look up עמוד ענן in the Hebrew Bible, it really is the cloud of God smiting the enemies of Israel before it.
Rep. Keith Ellison, one of two Muslims in Congress
Muslims make up 1 to 2% of the population in the United States, a number which is reflected in their limited political clout. This fact however does not hinder the Islamophobia Movement’s growing fear and anxiety about Muslim advancement in the political realm. LoonPolitics, as has been clearly demonstrated over the years, is a central feature of the surreal world of anti-Muslim bigotry.
One could be forgiven if while reading Islamophobic blog headlines one actually thought he or she was reading a chapter heading of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, or maybe even the Arabian Nights. President Barack Obama is still supposedly our first “Mooslim-in-Chief” according to AtlasShrugs’ Pamela Geller, JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer and a “healthy chunk” of Americans. Even after several House hearings on the subject, conspiracy theories about the insidious world-wide octopus known as the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating all branches of the government are regular political parlay with prominent politicians such as Michele Bachmann. Former terrorism supporter and current Chair of the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Rep. Peter King is due to hold his millionth hearing on the supposed “pressing” issue of the radicalization of American Muslims. I can go on and on but you get the picture.
So why are Islamophobes so anxious? Why do they feel the need to pre-empt Muslim political advancement in the United States–at any and all cost? Is it a fear of phantom Sharia’ Law replacing the US Constitution? Is it a fear of the Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation of the Holy Quran replacing the King James Holy Bible as part of the canon of English literature? No, these are not the true reasons for their fear. As one of the godfathers of Islamophobia, Daniel Pipes put it at an American Jewish Congress convention, “the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims” is “dangerous.”
Pipes was speaking in the context of how such a scenario would “affect American Jews,” but his statement holds true with nearly all Islamophobes; they believe Muslim advancement in American life will challenge their agendas.
Almost anytime a Muslim is elected to congress, appointed as a judge, a city councillor and/or an advisor expect immediate Islamophobic backlash. Reverberating across the looniverse will be hundreds, if not thousands of blogposts and opinion articles, each one mirroring one another’s talking points.
Remember Rep. Keith Ellison and the manufactured “Koran swearing-in controversy?” Islamophobes were in a twist over Ellison putting his hand on the very same Quran Thomas Jefferson owned; un-American they claimed! Rep. Andre Carson recently faced a barrage of accusations about “stealth jihad” and slanders that he wanted public schools to teach the Quran–all because of a misunderstood and decontextualized four sentence quote ripped from a 15 minute speech. Who can forget when Judge Sohail Mohammed was appointed to a state bench and the immediate hysterics from Geller and company claiming Sharia’ Law had penetrated New Jersey–Gov. Chris Christieresponded in bewilderment, “Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy!” There was also the ACT! for America campaign that targeted a Muslim Fulbright Scholar and Business professor, Parvez Ahmed appointed by Jacksonville’s mayor to a Human Right’s Commission–according to many the anti-Muslim bigotry was an embarrassing episode for the City of Jacksonville.
So it is not surprising that Islamophobes once again got bent out of shape when anti-LoonAhmed Rehabwas recently announced by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as part of an advisory committee on immigration issues (h/t: FernandoA).
The anti-Muslim Islamophobic websites would have us believe that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former IDF soldier, appointed a “Hamas-linked” operative as an advisor! Most of the recycled headlines in the looniverse read, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Appoints Hamas-Linked CAIR’s Ahmed Rehab to Advisory Committee. Yes, you read that right, a former IDF soldier, now the mayor of one of the largest US cities supposedly appointed a Hamas-linked individual to his advisory committee. That’s as surreal as Islamophobic stupidity gets. I mean I know they pack a lot into those deep dish pizza’s in Chicago, but there ain’t nothin’ in those pizzas that would make Emanuel, ever, appoint a “Hamas linked advisor!”
The well worn anti-Muslim smear and slander campaign (they never provide real evidence of Hamas links) against Rehab seems to have fallen on deaf, or at least unsympathetic ears, as good judgement generally sees clear through Islamophobic BS.
The most ironic and surreal part of all this is the true missed terrorist link: Mayor Emanuel’s own father, Ari Emanuel was really a member of a terrorist organization, the Irgun, but for Islamophobes such a link would never be an issue.
It is a staple of his “Police Blotter” website about Muslims: his assertions that mainstream Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) are “Hamas-linked.” He frequentlylinks his posts with these assertions. It is based on federal prosecutors naming these two organizations, along with 244 other Muslim individuals and groups, as “unindicted co-conspirators” in a case against the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim charity, in 2007. HLF was later convicted of supporting the terrorist group Hamas.
Federal prosecutors did this despite having no proof that these Muslim organizations had anything to do with the activities of HLF. Moreover, neither ISNA nor CAIR has ever been charged with any wrongdoing or criminal activity. Yet, Spencer continually calls CAIR and ISNA “Hamas-linked” in order to discredit anything mainstream Muslim organizations do and say, smearing them with the association with the terrorist group Hamas and terrorism in general.
He must stop doing so, because the assertion is incorrect.
In an opinion disclosed on October 20, an Appeals Court disclosed the ruling of a Federal District Court judge who ruled that that the Government should not have listed ISNA and CAIR as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the case against the HLF. When the ruling was initially made by the District Court judge, he sealed the ruling. This was appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and this Court ordered the ruling to be unsealed.
The Appeals Court judge wrote:
The Court held that the Government did not argue or establish any legitimate government interest that warranted publicly identifying NAIT and 245 other individuals and entities as unindicted coconspirators or joint venturers, and that the Government had less injurious means than those employed, such as anonymously designating the unindicted co-conspirators as ‘other persons,’ asking the court to file the document under seal, or disclosing the information to the defendants pursuant to a protective order.
The ruling came in a case brought by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), another “unindicted co-conspirator.” In fact, the District Court ruled that the Government violated NAIT’s Fifth Amendment rights by naming it as an “unindicted co-conspirator.” The Fifth Amendment, remember, guarantees due process of law. It states, in part:
No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…
In addition, a footnote in the ruling states:
NAIT’s motion was filed in conjunction with the Islamic Society of North America (“ISNA”), which is not a party to this appeal. Another entity, the Council on American Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) moved the district court for leave to file an amicus brief requesting that its name and all other unindicted coconspirators be stricken from Attachment A. CAIR’s motion was addressed in the order addressing NAIT’s motion, but CAIR is not a party to this appeal.
If I understand this correctly, this may mean that the District Court judge also found that the Government violated ISNA’s and CAIR’s Fifth Amendment rights by naming them as “unindicted co-conspirators,” but since they were not parties to the appeal, that part of the ruling will not be unsealed. In any case, it has been established that the Government was wrong and had no basis to name ISNA and CAIR as “unindicted co-conspirators,” and this totally pulls the rug out from underneath Spencer’s and other Islamophobes’ attempts to paint all maintream Muslim organizations as “extremist.” So, will Spencer stop saying CAIR and ISNA are “Hamas-linked”? We will see. I’m not holding my breath, though, for it’s been shown that facts don’t matter to the “Scholar” Robert Spencer.
You know, it is interesting…this news came out on October 20, but there was barely a peep in the media. A Google news search came up with only 3 links. Spencer didn’t mention it at all on his “Police Blotter.” But, that doesn’t surprise me. Maybe he thinks that no one will notice. Rest assured, we here at SW will notice, believe you me!
Islamophobes purposefully mistook these girls as child brides
The Loon world was whipped into a frenzy based on, as usual, the reinforcing winds of ignorance and hate. In what was meant to be an unremarkable story, Tim Marshall a reporter for Sky News blogged on a mass wedding celebration in the Gaza Strip officiated by Hamas. Marshall reports in his excellent blog Islamophobia. Ignorance or Propaganda?,
The party is for 450 grooms, the brides are elsewhere, some among the 5,000 or so guests. It’s the way things are done here, Personally I’m for the mixing of the sexes, but I’m not about to argue, I’m outnumbered.
Up on the stage there’s music and dancing. Everyone’s having a good time, even me, although the Hamas robocops are making me a little nervous. Sure Hamas have cold blooded killers among them, sure they support the murder of children in Israel, sure they are cracking down on women’s rights, but many of their supporters are just ordinary people. And they need a break…Then the fireworks explode, the cheering begins, and in march the Hamas scouts, bashing drums, looking every inch the future Hamas fighters many will be. Then the grooms, aged about 18 to about 28. They are holding hands with their young nieces and cousins, little girls aged from about 3 to 8, made up to the nines, wearing white wedding dresses.
So what has gotten the Loon world completely riled up? Well it seems that many of the anti-Muslims misconstrued the occasion and thought the grooms were actually marrying the little girls who were their nieces or cousins! Tim Marshall explains,
Our report on this put it into context saying that it took place just a mile from the Israeli border and was a message from Hamas about its strength confidence and future fighters. Oh and that the brides were elsewhere. Pretty straightforward.
It never struck me for a moment that the little girls might later be described in the bloggersphere as the brides! How naive I am.
Dozens, and I mean dozens, of websites took the video of the event and wrote lurid stories about Hamas mass paedophilia with headlines about ‘450 child brides’, and endless copy about how disgusting this was, how it showed how depraved Islam is, et al, ad infinitum. Site after site jumped on the story, linking from one totally wrong load of rubbish to the next. I’ll give credit to Tundra Tabloids who at least took down the video, but most sites just ploughed on regardless.
So which sites are these, and what have the various reactions been? Bartholomew gives us a hint,
The many websites that picked this up have responded in various ways: some issuing corrections, some quickly deleting their postings, and some insisting that it’s all true and that Marshall is trying to cover up the fact: “Why”, demands one site “would Tim Marshall defend the Gaza pedophiles?” One of the sites that decided to scrub was Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, which is worth noting as Spencer claims some sort of academic expertise on Islam.
Where does this collective hallucination and fixation on fiction originate from? The simple, straight forward answer is that it comes from the collective hysterical hatred shared by those who despise Islam and Muslims. It is a manifestation of Islamophobia, “ie. an irrational fear of Islam.” It springs from the idea that Islam is evil, inherently backwards, oppressive to women. The talking point goes, “Muhammad was a pedophile who married 9 year old A’isha and these vile Mooslims must be doing it now on this massive scale!” George Readings puts this into some context in a recent post on The Spitoons (via Bartholemew),
The “argument” goes that Muslims believe Muhammad to be a perfect model for behaviour and therefore the fact of Muhammad’s marriage to A’isha somehow proves Islam to be a depraved religion…This attempt to aggressively apply a modern British definition of paedophilia to seventh century Arabia strikes me as a sign of severe anthropological illiteracy…
…Marriage to a pre-pubescant child with whom consummation occurs upon reaching puberty is not a model most people would be happy with in the modern world (although Bolivia sets the age of consent at puberty).
Which is probably why nearly all Muslim countries have reformed these rules beyond recognition. The age of consent in Algeria and Malaysia is 16, in Indonesia it is 19 for males and 16 for females. In Egypt it’s 18 for both and Tunisia 20. Reform has not, however, come to Saudi Arabia. Back in April the world followed the case of a mother trying to obtain a divorce for her eight-year-old daughter who had been married off by her father to a friend he owed a debt. In the end she succeeded and now there is even talk of Saudi Arabia preventing marriage before the age of 18.
Poor Tim Marshall scoured the net in an attempt to let the Islamophobes know that they had gotten it wrong but what was the result?
I spent a few hours visiting websites and leaving comments where I could. To little avail. Instead I received a steady stream of vitriol. The best response was on a site run by a Debbie Schlussel . The guy who posted it said he wasn’t interested in the detail. The detail being the fact that the girls weren’t the brides.
It showed how much some people want to believe nonsense like this, as it re-inforces their prejudices, always a comfortably fun thing to do. But Hamas, and the jihadists do enough terrible things without having to make things up about them. Most of the stuff I read was outright, unthinking, gleeful, Islamophobia from people who clearly knew nothing about Arab popular culture. It’s as is they really beleive that because there are examples of child brides, it means all weddings are with child brides.
Debbie Schlussel is not new to LoonWatch readers, her doozy looniness is par for the course, so Tim shouldn’t worry, but he hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “It showed how much some people want to believe nonsense like this, as it re-inforces their prejudices, always a comfortably fun thing to do.” This is exactly the case — loaded with a bagful of prejudice and preconceived notions the Islamophobes took the wedding to be an affirmation of their pre-set conjectures.
When they were presented with the fact that they had stupendously erred some corrected themselves while others went into denial. It almost reminds you of some Biblical literalists who believe the world is 6,000 years old, you can present them with all the overwhelming evidence that point to the fact that the world is many millions of times older but they will stubbornly hold on to their literal interepretation of the Bible. This is not much different, and serves as a sweeping manifestation of the kind of irrationality that ignorance coupled with hate can produce.