#MyJihad: San Francisco Tells Hate Group Leaders Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer To Hit The Road

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We covered the #MyJihad ad campaign back in December, a campaign that seeks to reclaim the term Jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike. The response from Islamophobes has been nothing short of shrill, quixotically they want nothing more than to highlight and advance the “Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad.”:

These advertisements challenge the prevailing idea about Jihad being foremost about “Holy War,” a view which is most enthusiastically propagated by the hate group AFDI/SIOA and their founders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (whose Ad campaigns this past year have sent an opposite message of hate and racism.)

In response to the bus ads Islamophobes are going berserk, which is understandable as they have pegged their careers and lives on demonizing Islam and Muslims. The question I would ask is: If Muslims are telling you that they don’t believe in the “Jihad” of Bin Laden why tell them they have their religion wrong? What interest does it serve Geller and Spencer to propagate the Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad? That seems to be the height of absurd Islamophobia.

Recently, Geller and Spencer have put up response ads to the #MyJihad campaign, however not only have they been shown to be the kooks that they are but the money they spent on the ads are being used to fund Human Rights research on discrimination against Muslims!

Controversial ad campaign appears on San Francisco buses

by Claudine Zap

Bus ads many believe are anti-Muslim have roared into San Francisco. The campaign, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), includes one running on 10 of the city’s Muni buses with an image of Osama bin Laden, the burning twin towers and the tagline, “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”

The ads supposedly quote from extremists. One attributes a statement from the militant group Hamas, which reads: “Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah.”

AFDI had beat back an attempt by New York City’s transit authority to block a similar campaign in that city’s subway system. Comparable ads have run in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

San Francisco officials have condemned the campaign, but they have allowed them to run. The $5,000 the group paid to Muni will go to the Human Rights Commission to study discrimination against the Islamic community, according to the city.

“These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,” District Attorney George Gascon told local ABC News on Monday. The city has also created a campaign of its own to counter the ads.

Geller & Spencer promote Muslim “collective guilt” over a FB post

Geller & Spencer promote Muslim “collective guilt” over a FB post

by Sheila Musaji
Pamela Geller posted an article Dearborn Muslim calls for killing anti-Islam protesters and her partner in the AFDI hate group posted an article with the same title.

They reprinted an article by David Wood which included a screen grab of this FaceBook post:

This is a hateful message.  The individual responsible should be ashamed.  If there are any FaceBook regulations that he has violated, he should lose his ability to post.  However, this single hateful message was all that it took for Geller & Spencer to not only post articles including the “Muslim” description, but also to tweet on the #MyJihad hashtag


Spencer asked “Will Dearborn authorities investigate Aboudi Berro? Don’t hold your breath.”  Geller said: “Islam in America. Respect it.”

So, according to them, this tweet by one individual jerk somehow is representative of “Islam in America” and this should be investigated by local law enforcement.

I wonder why their concern is always so selective, and only focuses on Muslims who behave badly.

Here are a just a few tweets from Islamophobic spammers on the #MyJihad site:









Would Geller and Spencer agree that all of these are hateful?  If so, why do such statements not concern them?  Would a headline like “Christian calls for killing Muslims” serve any purpose.  Are all Christians or all Jews somehow responsible for the bigotry of some?  Should all of these individuals also be investigated?  If they are not investigated is that “proof” of some Christian conspiracy to impose their will on non-Christians.

I doubt that they would be concerned, as some of their own AFDI/SIOA/SION leadership have previously suggested genocide, wiping out Muslim “bacteria” and “destroying Islam”.

This is pure hatred.

Robert Spencer needs to learn to do a fact check

Spencer is working hard to disassociate himself from one of his fans

Robert Spencer needs to learn to do a fact check

by Sheila Musaji

An individual using the twitter name @LearningKoran posted two hateful and unacceptable tweet on the #MyJihad hashtag.  Here are those tweets:

 

Many Muslims involved with the #MyJihad campaign responded to him as soon as we saw the tweets.

The MyJihadOrg account administrator tweeted him and told him they don’t condone such talk and consider himself blocked.

I posted a reminder that Sheikh Ali Gomaa said Violence is never an acceptable answer to provocation.  I told him that such a statement was totally outside the bounds of Islam, and that I found it fascinating that the #MyJihad campaign angers Musim extremists & Islamophobes.

Angie Emara posted a series of reminders:  calling him a hypocrite and an extremist and someone trying to sabotage the campaign.  She told him that it’s funny how you & Islamophobes share the EXACT sentiment towards majority Muslims!  She asked him “what’s wrong w u? Islam was never ever by force. U ruin the beauty of Islam picking ayat out of context 4 ur benefit”.  She asked him to “change the condition of your heart” and told him “you have major issues.seek therapy. That’s not Islam.”

Within hours he stopped posting, and when his twitter name was clicked on it said he was suspended.

No one involved with #MyJihad knows who this person was, whether he/she is a Muslim, or why he would make such a hateful post. Sad little incident, but handled as well as anyone connected with #MyJihad could handle unsolicited tweets.

However, that was not the end of the saga.  Robert Spencer posted an article with a screenshot of the tweet and Spencer’s own comments.  Spencer said “The deceptive and misleading #MyJihad campaign has apparently attracted at least one persistent Misunderstander of Islam. No doubt Hamas-linked CAIR’s Ahmed Rehab is in deep talks with this fellow already, explaining to him that jihad doesn’t really involve killing anyone, but is really just romping through the daisies.”

He is correct that the individual misunderstands Islam.  The rest is simply an attempt to cast aspersions on the #MyJihad campaign as if they can control individuals tweeting using that hashtag.  Spencer also does not mention any of the responses to this individual.  Not only do Islamophobes not know how to do a “search”, they also don’t know how to follow a conversation on twitter.

All Spencer would have had to was to follow the conversation, and he would have seen that the individual was immediately called to task and condemned for what he had said, asked to stop, and ultimately suspended.

But, Spencer is too busy demonizing Islam and Muslims to be concerned about facts.  He used this non-incident to stir up a frenzy among his readers.  The comments under Spencer’s article show how easily they are influenced.  Here are a few:

— John Spielman “These pagan muslim’s blind devotion to their demon god Allah’s cult of death is getting tiresome.” — Meryl Petkoff “The psychological projection of pedohammedans is f’ing SURREAL!. Poe’s Law is all that comes into mind when i read verbiage like that.”— Iloveport “I say, bring it on!!! You camel urine drinking numbnut maniacs.  I’m ready and able. You’re not kidding when you say this is getting tiresome. I’m so tired of the major a**kissing going on to appease these bozo’s.  Let’s dance….

And since he began the title of his article with the #MyJihad hashtag, many of these folks are tweeting this, again overwhelming the hashtag with hate.

Anyone who visits the hashtag can see over the course of any day how many Islamophobes come there and post hateful messages.  Some individuals post scores of messages each day, many of them repeat whatever is the current meme in an article on Pamela Geller or Robert Spencer’s sites that begins with the #MyJihad hashtag.  Some post the exact same comment over and over.  See the article Anti-Muslim Propaganda Against #MyJIhad Campaign for many of the claims made and responses to them.  Sometimes 20 or 30 of them will retweet or repeat the same comment over the course of a few minutes.  It is amazing that there are human beings who can find so much time to do nothing except spread hatred.

Some are more hateful than others one calling himself @pissedizard calls Muslims “vermin”, “demons” and “disgusting”, says “all Muslims smell like ass. Dead,rotting ass”, and has made a number of tweets suggesting directly that Muslims should be killed.  One of his tweets appears at the top of this article.

Robert Spencer would never notice such hatred directed at Muslims.  And, that is not surprising, since there has been plenty of it from his own AFDI/SION board and he has made no condemnations.  He also does not remove hateful comments from his site.

I wish we knew how the solitary nut job @LearningKoran was suspended by twitter, as the gang of about 30 Islamophobic nut jobs who are serial spammers of the hashtag should also be suspended, but continue with no problems.

All of this is very frustrating, but the Muslims involved with the #MyJihad campaign are resolute and committed to taking back Islam and the term jihad from both the Muslim extremists and Islamophobes.

It would be wonderful if not only more Muslims, but also any non-Muslims who believe in mutual respect, bridge building, and understanding would visit the hashtag and help to keep it from being overrun by haters.

It is amazing that projects such as #MyJihad through which American Muslims are attempting to counter extremist interpretations are seen as so threatening to those who say they wish Muslims would speak up.  Whatever claim or catch-phrase is put out by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer becomes the meme of the day, endlessly repeated by their followers on the #MyJihad hashtag and drowning it in hate.  All they are doing is making it more difficult for American Muslims to counter actual extremism.  They are a painful distraction.
UPDATE 1/28/2013

David Wood on a site called Answering Muslims posted an article about these tweets from @LearningKoran.  He titles his article “Muslim Tries to Educate Me about Peaceful Islam, Then Calls for the Execution of Critics!”.

Even David Wood notes that @LearningKoran became angry when he was condemned by individuals involved in the #MyJihad campaign, and before he was suspended by twitter posted this tweet:

 

Wood is one of the individuals who has been a serial tweeter of anti-Muslim messages, so not surprisingly his view of this exchange casts blame on Muslims and Islam.

The reality is that no one knows who this person @LearningKoran is, or whether or not he is a Muslim.  He could be anybody.  One of the difficulties with social media like twitter is that individuals can set up an account and a screen persona using any name they wish and post anonymously.

Whoever @LearningKoran is, he deserves condemnation as does @pissedlizard and others who have posted such messages threatening Muslims.  You can see screen shots of a few of these hateful anti-Muslim posts at the bottom of the page.

About that Muslims Harass Christian & Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help Story

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About that Muslims Harass Christian & Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help Story

by Sheila Musaji

This particular strategy of the Islamophobia network is getting tiresome.

Pamela Geller posted #MyJihad in Paris: Muslims Harass, Attack Christian and Jewish Neighbors, Police Refuse to Help in which she published an email she received from an anonymous “Atlas reader” in Paris.

We are supposed to take her word for it that this individual’s statement is true.  Geller, of course, will take the word of anyone who has anything negative to say about Islam and Muslims.

What is the story that Geller must share with the world?

An anonymous reader of her site asks Pamela to help her “tell the world about what is going on here so that people will fight these horrible pigs.”  [the “pigs” she refers to are Muslims.] In her story she complains about the French “socialist government”,  altercations with Muslim neighbors, and bizarre incidents that she is aware of (like Muslims forcing a Jewish child to eat pork or they would kill her parents).

This would be laughable if it wasn’t for the fact that there are individuals who do take Geller’s postings seriously.  This is the sort of incoherent story you get from people walking the streets and talking to themselves.

Not content with putting this story out on her site, Geller also tweeted it out using the #MyJihad hashtag, as part of her ongoing effort to undermine that positive effort by Muslims to take back the term from both Muslim extremists and Islamophobes.  And, her followers followed suit, tweeting and re-tweeting this “story” using the #MyJihad hashtag.

Interestingly, the two groups who share extremists views about Islam – the Muslim extremists and the Islamophobes - both attacked the campaign.  Geller & Spencer accused the #MyJihad campaign of inspiring a Chicago bus threat.  They also began churning out articles with the hashtag #MyJihad in their titles, and then tweeting the titles of those articles and encouraging others to re-tweet, in an attempt to take over the #MyJihad hashtag by overwhelming it with hateful messages.  Many of the articles they have come up with have been, even by their standards, disgraceful.  Here are just a few of these false hate pieces from the past few days:  (Don’t worry, the links take you to responses, not the original)  #MyJihad: Egyptian Cleric Warns Christian Women: If You Don’t Wear a Veil You’ll Be Raped - #MyJihad: Muslim cleric tells converts to bury their Christian parents as if they were dead dogs - #MyJihad in Serbia: Kosovo Muslims destroy Serbian Orthodox monastery.  In addition to these new lies, they are recycling many of their old lies in tweets including the hashtag, e.g. #MyJihad 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars - #MyJihad 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11, etc.   See the RESOURCES FOR DEALING WITH ISLAMOPHOBIA SUMMARY section below for links to responses to many of these current and previous hateful claims.

Based on Geller’s past performance it is difficult to believe that any sane person could take her rantings seriously, but they do.  I prefer to save myself the trouble and just use the Pamela Geller:  Shrieking Harpy Rant Generator to get my dose of Geller “humor” for the day.

Why does this story sound so familiar?

Geller, and her partner Robert Spencer have proven hundreds of times that they have a Tenuous Grasp of the Concept of “Truth Telling”.

One of the many previous lies they spread was very similar to this current one.  In that case Geller posted an article titled “Hate Crime” which shared an email from a reader who had supposedly been harassed by Muslims in her neighborhood and was unable to get law enforcement or elected officials to do anything about it.

In that case, the writer calling herself “Danusha (Redacted) PhD” claimed a Muslim man accosted her and “impeded” her ability to walk down the street, and that Muslims regularly mock her, and one even hit her with his SUV.

When the article was originally posted it included this introduction to the email by Geller:  “The hypocrisy loooms [sic] large. Here’s a letter I thought I should share with you. I expect the gutless congressman who witnessed his Muslim constituents dancing on 9/11/01 will do nothing but hide beneath his desk. If this continues — auxiliary law enforcement will be necessary.”

Subsequently the original email from the “victim” was removed from Geller’s site, as was Geller’s lead in to the article, and replaced with an almost incoherent rant. In that rant, Geller claimed that ” I’ve removed the letter from this post because of threats to its author. The incredible evil that is standard operating procedure for those on the left led them to try to identify the author, and effectively target her for retribution. Thus I removed the letter. Imagine: this woman lives in fear every day, and the response to this violation of her basic human rights was an attempt to out her and put her life in jeopardy. That’s what we’re dealing with.” 

An article I wrote at the time exposing this nonsense, notes that according to Charles Johnson

… the individual who wrote this letter is Danusha Goska and he links to an email sent to a site called VDARE from this person in 2008.  That email complained about “Hispanic noise pollution” in her neighborhood.  In that email she included a copy of a letter that she had sent to her local mayor and claims that her complaints have gone unanswered.  The VDare site posts a note at the bottom of this post saying Goska, a teacher and Democrat, previously wrote to us about her experience with National Public Radio. with a link to this previous letter.

That link takes you to an email she sent which included an “essay” she had sent to NPR.  At the bottom of the “essay” is this:  Goska, a writer, teacher and Ph.D. from Indiana University does “manual labor to make ends meet.” She submitted this essay to NPR (e-mail) which rejected it.

Johnson also turned up a strange film review posted by a person named Danusha Goska.

In a simple google search I turned up a number of articles including this one - Islam and Terror: Some Thoughts after 9/11 by Danusha V. Goska, PhD.

She seems, like Geller to be focused on anti-Muslim rabble rousing.  Geller, rather than explain that she had been taken in by an email from a seemingly unstable person, instead pulled the email, and substituted a rant that still managed to make it seem as if the information contained in that original email was accurate.

This pattern of making outrageous claims based on no evidence at all, and then if caught out, attempting to conceal the evidence is a pattern.

About that “wear a veil or be raped story”

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About that “wear a veil or be raped story”

by Sheila Musaji
Pamela Geller posted another of her articles distorting reality beyond reason.  In the article #MyJihad: Egyptian Cleric Warns Christian Women: If You Don’t Wear a Veil You’ll Be Raped she links to an article titled Egyptian Cleric Warns Christian Women: If You Don’t Wear a Veil You’ll Be Raped by Sharona Schwartz on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.  Geller also tweeted a link to her article using the hashtag #MyJihad in her ongoing effort to undermine that campaign by Muslims to take back the term jihad from both Muslim extremists and Islamophobes.

Both Schwartz and Geller come up with their alarmist titles and conclusions from their misreading of a Reuter’s article which is compounded by their hatred of Muslims.  They both link to this article, but obviously didn’t understand it.

What is the actual story?

The Reuters article says that Hisham el-Ashry, that they describe as an “obscure preacher”, and a very unsavory character, said in a television interview that “I was once asked: If I came to power, would I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on the streets, then they can.”

The Reuters article goes on to note the negative response to this man’s statements from ordinary Egyptians, and then says:

…  Egypt’s top Islamic institutions, such as al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, and Dar al Ifta, the central authority for issuing religious rulings, have long said religious practices should not be imposed on people.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, the country’s most senior Islamic legal official, has dismissed the self-styled preacher’s views.  “This sort of idiotic thinking is one that seeks to further destabilise what is already a tense situation,” Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a statement to Reuters.  “Egypt’s religious scholars have long guided the people to act in ways that conform to their religious commitments, but have never thought this required any type of invasive policing.”

So an obscure member of the Muslim lunatic fringe made a misogynistic statement and was immediately condemned by Egypt’s Grand Mufti and other mainstream Islamic scholars.  He is obviously an extremist, and deserves to be condemned.  However, he didn’t threaten anyone with rape.  He expressed his stupid opinion that somehow “inappropriately dressed” women are responsible for men’s criminal actions towards them.  A despicable opinion, but not a threat or “warning”.

Before either Geller or Schwartz get so self-righteous about focusing attention on such a marginal figure spouting hateful, misogynistic nonsense, I would remind them that they are certainly aware that he is not alone in holding such hateful views.  You can find such lunatic fringe figures in any community.  Here are just a few examples found in a very short search:

In the Satmar Orthodox Jewish village in Williamsburg, NY there is a group called the Va’ad Hatznius (modesty patrol).  According to the Jewish Forward: “…  most of their energies are directed towards ensuring that women and girls dress and behave modestly.  Their reasoning is clear: When a female wears revealing clothing or chats with the opposite sex, it could entice the men, and lead to dire consequences. In other words, the goal of their injunctions is to inhibit the sexual impulses of the male population.”

A Catholic priest in Italy said that women were partly to blame for encouraging domestic violence by failing to clean their houses and cook properly and for wearing tight and provocative clothing.

An immodestly dressed woman was stoned by Haredi Jews in Beit Shemash, Israel.

An 8-year-old girl was called a ‘whore’ and spat on as she walked to school through an ultra-orthodox settlement in Israel because she was “improperly dressed”.

A modesty patrol in Jerusalem was indicted for cruelly beating and threatening a woman with death after taking it upon themselves to interrogate her about her relationships with men.

A 14-year-old girl was hospitalized in Jerusalem after a “modesty guard” spilled acid on her for wearing pants. The attack occurred in Beitar Illit, a Jerusalem suburb where tensions between religious and secular residents are on the rise. Paramedic Dror Eini said the girl told them that “the modesty guards have been threatening her for quite some time.”

Unless they are going to become just as incensed over all such displays of misogyny the they are only proving once again that their motivation is not concern for protecting women, but only a pathological need to denigrate Muslims and Islam.

#MyJihad: Can “jihad” survive Pam Geller?

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An excellent article by Alex Seitz-Wald of Salon.com on the background, import and history of the #MyJihad campaign and the “counterjihad” effort to derail it.:

Can “jihad” survive Pam Geller?

by Alex Seitz-Wald (Salon.com) 

MyJihad.org bus ad featuring two volunteers, an American-Muslim and an Israeli-Jew. (Credit: MyJihad.org)

So you want to rebrand a word. It’s hard to think of a more difficult rebranding project than “jihad.”

Since Sept. 11, the term has become synonymous with terrorism and villainy — but now a group of Muslims is trying to reclaim the word from the extremists, and redefine “jihad” to mean something normal and peaceful and good. They realize this won’t be easy.

The campaign hinges on the idea that “jihad” has two commonly accepted usages. One is the violent, physical struggle most of us are familiar with. The other, which many Muslims and Islamic scholars consider the more correct definition, refers to the inner struggle to do good and follow God’s teaching; Muslims strive to attain this every day. This is the “proper meaning” being promoted by My Jihad, a public education campaign recently launched on billboards and on buses in Chicago.

“The campaign is about reclaiming Islam, and not just ‘jihad,’ from both Muslim and non-Muslim extremists,” said Ahmed Rehab, the leader of the effort, in an interview. “Whether it’s the bin Ladens and the al-Qaidas of the Muslim world, or the Pam Gellers and Frank Gaffneys of the non-Muslim world, ironically — even though they come from the two opposite ends of the spectrum — they agree exactly on the same definition of ‘jihad’ and on the same worldview of Islam versus the rest of the world.”

In fact, the ads were directly inspired by Geller, the anti-Muslim blogger and activist, who has plastered her own billboards on subways and buses in New York. They label Muslims as “savages” and incite viewers to “defeat Jihad.”

“Everybody was talking about the ‘savage’ part, but to me, that’s just sort of an insult — she thinks I’m a savage, I think she’s an idiot, we’re even,” he said. “But the problem for me was the use of the word ‘jihad.’ When no one seemed to care about that, I realized that we have a problem.”

In billboards on buses and subways, smiling Muslims and non-Muslims share universal human aspirations, personalized by the individual “jihads” of the non-actor volunteers who share their struggles. In this context, a jihad is no more threatening than a New Year’s resolution. “My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule,” one woman with a headscarf and a barbell says. Others deal with raising children, doing well at work, and making friendships with different kinds of people. To Rehab, jihad means that when you are “confronted with two choices, you make the right choice and not the easy one.”

Ads have already gone up on buses in Chicago and San Francisco, and will soon go up in 10 other major American cities and a handful of international ones, including London, Sydney and Melbourne. There’s a website, Facebook page and Twitter hashtag where people can share their own personal jihads.

On Monday, Egyptian activists working with the group even unfurled a giant banner in front of the main church in Cairo wishing a Merry Christmas (Coptic Christians celebrate the holiday on Jan. 7) in contravention of hard-line Islamic proclamations that Christmas should not be recognized.

That may not sound so scary, but the opposition has been predictably vitriolic. The group’s Twitter and Facebook pages have received hateful messages from hard-line Islamists. Geller, predictably, is exercised.

She has written at least a dozen posts using the campaign’s #myjihad hashtag, which currently represent about two out of every three posts on the front page of her influential anti-Muslim blog. Geller also seems determined to play a game of bait and switch to sabatoge the rival campaign. She registered the domain name MyJihad.us (the real URL ends in .org) and is even trying to run copycat ads that are clearly designed to be confused with Rehab’s. In her ads, the peaceful Muslim is replaced with pictures of Osama bin Laden and the burning twin towers. She trying to get approval from the Chicago Transit Authority for the ads to appear on city buses, but they may be rejected for infringing on My Jihad’s copyright to the template.

One would think that My Jihad is exactly the kind of moderate Muslim voice that Geller — who claims to be so threatened by Muslim “extremists” — would want to promote. But in reality, “the extremists on both sides need each other for validation. And we’re a threat to both,” Rehab said.

Rehab is the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), but he’s doing this on his own time and with separate funds to keep it a grass-roots effort. What started as a Facebook group less than a month ago has grown into a sophisticated public relations campaign that has already raised $20,000 and recruited dozens of volunteers, most of whom are “soccer moms” who don’t want their kids to feel intimidated at school because of their religion, Rehab said. “These are the army of My Jihad,” he quipped.

But can the popular conception of “jihad” really be changed with some ads and a hashtag?

“I would look at this conflict as I would any other product: We have an image problem,” said Arash Afshar, an Iranian-American marketing consultant who is not involved with the campaign. “This is exactly what Muslims should be doing … The way to combat an image problem is not to simply sit back and hope it goes away. You develop a branding strategy and motivate your already existing fan-base.”

The challenge will be to sustain the campaign, he said, pointing to the similarly buzzy and controversial Israel Loves Iran campaign.

The challenge is no doubt immense, however, explained Jean-Pierre Dubé, a professor of marketing at Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. “The problem we have here is that this is a case where we literally want to do an about-face on the interpretation of the word. And there’s so much passion behind how people have used this term that it’s hard to imagine this is something you can change overnight.”

Still, there are plenty of examples of brands dramatically turning their image around, Dubé said. Marlboro, contrary to its contemporary image of masculine ruggedness personified by the Marlboro Man, was initially marketed as a cigarette for women. Its signature red color comes from a red band on the tip designed to hide lipstick stains — “A cherry tip for your ruby lips,” as the slogan went. Likewise, Mountain Dew successfully remade itself as a drink for the X-Games in the 1990s. There’s even some precedent, of sorts, in the religious world. Catholicism essentially tried to rebrand itself in the 1960s with Vatican II, though the success is more dubious.

But those turnarounds took a lot of time and “tons and tons of money,” Dubé noted, and there was hardly the passion around the gender connotation of Marlboro as there is around the concept of jihad. What jihad needs is a “brand hijacking,” Dubé said, like what happened to Doc Martens in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when teenage grunge rockers took over what had been a gardening boot. When Doc Martens executives realized the potential, they immediately changed gears to capitalize on the trend.

The problem here for My Jihad, however, is that there is no central authority in Islam, unlike in Catholicism or with Doc Martens, and thus no “owner” of the brand associated with jihad. So you have Rehab and his cohort trying to execute a “hijacking of a hijacking,” as Dubé put it, to take back the word from the extremists who initially commandeered it. But in the end, no one can rightfully claim to be the final arbiter of the word “jihad.”

If you talk to other Muslim activists, they’ll probably agree that the general usage of “jihad” is an unfortunate perversion, but they are wary to engage in what seems like a losing battle over semantics, especially when there are so many other pressing problems with Islamophobia. Rehab said he’s sympathetic to this argument, but that semantics are important and that his community is starting to realize it. “That was my message to the community. Not only is it so misidentified, but we as Muslims — a lot of us — have resigned ourselves to that and moved on or even stopped trying to change it.”

This isn’t the first effort to change the popular usage of “jihad.” In 2005, Islamic historian Douglas Streusand submitted a paper to the Pentagon arguing that the military should stop using the word to refer to Islamist militants. “If we are calling them ‘people who strive in the path of God,’ in other words — if we are calling them meritorious Muslims — then we are implying that we are fighting Islam, even if we’re not,” he wrote. To make a comparison more Americans would understand, Streusand said calling militants “jihadis” is “like calling Germans during the Second World War ‘National Socialist Aryan Heroes.’”

UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, a prominent critic of puritanical interpretations of Islam, has long campaigned against the modern usage of the word. “When I write an article speaking to extremists and convincing them that they are wrong theologically and morally and legally, I consider myself in a state of jihad. I expect to be rewarded by God,” he told NPR in 2006.

Rehab and his compatriots realize it will be difficult to change the meaning of “jihad,” but he’s hoping the campaign will at least “start a conversation” about a concept that is critical to the practice of Islam, yet completely misunderstood. The same could be said about Islam more generally in the West. The religion, omnipresent in pop culture and foreign policy debates, is still mysterious to so many Americans and its popular image too often dictated by the extremists, and not its everyday adherents. If nothing else, the fact that Geller feels threatened shows they’re doing something right.

Hopefully, this campaign can start to demystify Islam by taking the edge out of the scariest word in the religion and making jihad as quotidian as going to the gym. That’s Rehab’s jihad, what’s yours?

Close

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon’s political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

Did AFDI’s “Savage/Jihad” hate ads inspire bus threats?

Did AFDI’s “Savage/Jihad” hate ads inspire bus threats?

by Sheila Musaji
Pamela Geller posted an article with the hysterical title CAIR’s #myjihad Chicago campaign inspires …. bus jihad – Wannabe Jihadist threatens ‘jihad’ bombing on Chicago bus.  Robert Spencer posted his own misleading article.  She includes a link to a Chicago Tribune article.  She and her partner in hate, Robert Spencer also tweeted a link to their articles using the #MyJihad hashtag, and their minions followed suit.

What is the story

The Chicago Tribune reported that a man named Caleb Russell threatened to blow up a CTA bus in Chicago and told police he was “jihad against the white devil”.  Several passengers told police that Russell made derogatory and racial remarks and threatened to “blow this (expletive) up.”

His booking photo included is quite alarming, and may speak to his mental state.  A few other news sources have posted on this, but none have any additional information.  That’s all that is known so far.

No idea if the man is a Muslim or not, no idea about his mental state, no idea about anything at all except that this incident happened.

How would Geller know his motivation or what inspired him.  Her “defeat jihad” ads have also run in Chicago.  Whether this man was influenced in any way by either of these ads is impossible to say.  However, it certainly is possible to make an educated guess.

The implication of the AFDI ads is that jihad and terrorism are synonymous which could give an ignorant person the idea that such an act was covered by the word “jihad”.

The #MyJihad campaign ads (whose motto is ““Taking back Jihad one hashtag at a time from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists.  Taking back Islam.”)  are giving a very opposite message to both Muslim and non-Muslim extremists. See “My Jihad” #MyJihad Campaign Angers Hizb-ut Tahrir and AFDI Extremists.  Which includes the statement:

“There are only two groups who equate jihad and terrorism – the terrorists and the Islamophobes.  Neither terrorists or Islamophobes have the right to co-opt or hijack or defame the term jihad by their criminal interpretations. We reject the terrorist definition and we reject the Islamophobes definition of Jihad in favor of the traditional, legitimate, respectable, spiritual concept. JIHAD is not a dirty word.”

Which ad and which worldview is more likely to have given anyone the impression that terrorism against civilians is the meaning of jihad?

"My Jihad" campaign was sparked by AFDI/SIOA's series of hateful ads against Muslims(MyJihad.org).

Pamela Geller to Release New Anti Jihad Bus Ads in NYC | Blaze Exclusive

The original subway ad (Photo Credit: American Freedom Defense Initiative/ABC News)
Using nothing except common sense, and a heart not filled with hate, any rational person can see which ad is likely to stir such base passions.

This is a case of simply making something up without any facts at all.
**********************

See the full article Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for much more information about and links to responses to many claims, including critical reports on the Islamophobia Industry.  Here is a summary:

The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade.  They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films.  They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally.   They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”

Sadly, the Islamophobic echo chamber has been aided by some in the Jewish and Christian clergy, and even by some of our elected representatives, particularly in the GOP.

These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, Abrogation (Naskh) in the Qur’an, etc.

Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist.   They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad.  The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.

Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.    Islamophobes consistently push demonstrably false memes such as:  – we are in danger from creeping Sharia, – the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, – 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  -  There have been 270 million victims of “jihad”  -  There have been 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks since 9/11    – Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded.  Muslim and Arab organizations and individuals are connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label, or accused of not condemning Hamas.  When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence.

The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences.

You would never know from listening to any of the members of the Islamophobia Industry that Muslims have defended  freedom of speech, participated in interfaith dialogue, defended freedom of faith against apostasy laws,  condemned blasphemy laws, condemned holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, promoted non-violent solutions to the many problems we face, called for protecting all houses of worship and condemned any attacks on churches or synagogues anywhere, condemned violent responses to numerous incidents including the response to the Innocence of Muslims film, spoken out against child marriage, are working to stop domestic violence in our community, etc.  Type condemn into the TAM search engine and 145 statements of condemnation come up in addition to the collections in our lengthy section Muslim voices against extremism terrorism and violence  Muslims speak out loudly and clearly condemning our own extremists, and their extremist statements and actions.  Type “lunatic fringe” into the TAM search engine for many such articles condemning particular extremists and extremist groups and activities.
You would never know that Muslims are decent, hardworking, productive citizens, making a positive contribution to this society.  Muslims haven’t just spoken out against abuses carried out anywhere in the world that dishonor Islam, but also worked doing positive things.

The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence”, or that nothing that they say could have had anything to do with any act of violence are nonsense.  The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,  or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense.

The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.   There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic.  There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)  are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle. , and that the SPLC calls Pamela Geller “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam. There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.   There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.   There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

Click on the logo “Muslims denounce extremism and terrorism” on the front page of TAM for an extensive resource listing not only Muslim responses to extremism, but also resources for countering Islamophobia.

 

Sheila Musaji is the founding editor of The American Muslim (TAM).  Sheila received the Council on American-Islamic Relations 2007 Islamic Community Service Award for Journalism,  and the Loonwatch Anti-Loons of 2011: Profiles in Courage Award for her work in fighting Islamophobia.  Sheila was selected for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims published since 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan.    Biography  You can follow her on twitter @sheilamusaji ( https://twitter.com/SheilaMusaji )

Sumbul Ali-Karamali: Who Are You Calling a Jihadist?

sumbul_ali_karamali

Sumbul Ali-Karamali shares her views and understanding of Jihad. (h/t:Fred A.)

Who Are You Calling a Jihadist?

Jihad, Jihadi, jihadist, even — most ridiculous of all — counter-jihadist. These labels are used by laypeople and journalists alike, often using jihad as a synonym for “any violence undertaken by Muslims.” An extreme example is the ad campaign posted a few months ago on New York City buses, equating Muslims to savages and any opinion not supportive of Israel as “jihad.” In fact, the ads — the creation of Pamela Geller, who is the head of what has been deemed a hate group — equate savagery with jihad, as well.

More recently, another set of bus ads have hit Chicago — this time, trying to counter some of the hate. The first features a young family with the caption, “My jihad is to march on, despite losing my son. What’s Yours?” On Twitter, too, check out the #MyJihad hashtag, where statements vary from the inspirational (“My jihad is to build friendships across the aisle”) to the humorous (“My jihad is not to eat the whole box”).

So what does jihad really mean, then? The media and anti-Islam manipulation of the word has so obscured the actual meaning that confusion is inevitable. I even encounter, alarmingly, a reluctance on the part of journalists and lay people to believe Muslims who try to explain their own religion and what jihad actually means.

Well, I’m a Muslim woman, an American, and a former corporate lawyer, and I know my religion pretty well, as I’ve not only been a practicing Muslim all my life, I have an additional degree in Islamic law. So let me explain what jihad, a specifically defined term of art, means in Islam.

The word itself means “effort” or “struggle.” Generally speaking, jihad can be divided into two broad categories: the internal jihad and the external jihad. The internal jihad is the struggle to make oneself  better — more just, more fair, more compassionate. The external jihad is the struggle to make society better — more just, more fair, more compassionate. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, who died in 632, once famously described the internal jihad as the “Greater Jihad” and the external jihad as the “Lesser Jihad.” The most difficult struggle and the greatest, in other words, is the struggle to improve our own selves.

The external jihad can again be divided into further categories. How can we improve society? First, by “jihad by the word” which is using verbal persuasion to try to correct an injustice in society, such as letters to the editor or petitions. If that doesn’t work, then Muslims may use “jihad by the hand,” which is doing good works to correct an injustice in society, such as volunteering in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. And the last resort is “jihad by the sword,” which is taking up arms to correct an injustice in society.

But here’s what vast majority of Islamic scholars, for centuries, have decreed when it comes to jihad by the sword: it can be exercised only to overthrow an oppressor or in self-defense. That’s right: only in self-defense or to overthrow an oppressor.

Some scholars over the centuries have even contended that the jihad doctrine does not allow the overthrow of a mere run-of-the-mill oppressor, but only one who is actively preventing people from practicing their religion.

Other Islamic scholars, however, disagreed with this opinion; they said that invading a country and oppressing its people was sufficient reason to fight back (I suspect that’s what Americans would do if we were invaded), and that no suppression of religious practice was necessary. But, even so, they confirmed, jihad must be exercised only in self-defense or to overthrow an oppressor.

What about al Qaeda’s version of jihad? It’s not jihad. Terrorism has never been allowed in Islam, not in 1,400 years of history, and in early Islam it was severely punished.

Using religion as justification for violence is not unique to any one religion. Religion was used to justify the Crusades, as well as the Spanish Inquisition, and the attendant killing of tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews. In modern times, the Serbs’ genocide of Bosnian Muslims and themassacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat by Hindus also were at least partly, by some, justified by religion. But no religion condones murder or genocide.

To the Pamela Gellers of the world, a Muslim living in the U.S., going about his or her business and living everyday life as an American, is practicing jihad. But if that means that Muslims are trying to make themselves better people, then that’s a good thing. If that means that Muslims are trying to make their societies better by working within the law to correct injustices, then that’s a good thing. And it’s no different from what most of us are trying to do, regardless of our religions.

“#MyJihad” Brings Out Anti-Muslim Rage Amongst Hypocritical Islamophobic Warmongers

Social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz with the anti-extremism campaign MyJihad: Reclaiming Islam. On Twitter the trending hashtag #MyJihad has been quite lively as the reclamation of this very central theological term and concept has been met with a warm welcome from audiences, specifically Muslims who have long felt misrepresented by the misappropriation and manipulation of the term “Jihad” in the public conscience (due in large part to the actions of extremists such as Bin Laden and their counterparts, the self-described “counter-Jihad” extremists like Anders Behring Breivik, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.)

According to the MyJihad website the campaign officially kicked off on Tuesday, December 11. We first got wind of the campaign back in September when it unofficially launched on Facebook and twitter. Back then, Garibaldi wrote about the campaign,

It is clearly an attempt to reclaim the meaning of Jihad from the extremists and absolutists in both the “West” and the “East,” who feed off of each others hate.

Garibaldi’s article focused on a Twitter exchange between the founder of the MyJihad campaign Ahmed Rehab and JihadWatch director Robert Spencer in which Spencer inadvertently admitted that Jihad means more than “warfare” or as he likes to paint it “terrorism” against innocents, which proves the campaign’s purpose:

Robert_Spencer_Ahmed_Rehab_My_Jihad

The campaign is now displaying ads on buses that essentially have Muslims explaining how they relate to Jihad in their daily lives, a reality that has long gone missing from the overall discussion which tends to take the side of the extremists and the sensational.

Jihad in the face of personal loss:

MyJihad1

Jihad has to do with making friendship across the isle:

MyJihad2

A Muslim man with prayer beads and a Jewish man with Hebrew on his shirt (which I can’t really make out) building friendships:

MyJihad3

This Jihad has to do with the challenge of wearing a veil and judging those who “cover”:

MyJihad4

These advertisements challenge the prevailing idea about Jihad being foremost about “Holy War,” a view which is most enthusiastically propagated by the hate group AFDI/SIOA and their founders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (whose Ad campaigns this past year have sent an opposite message of hate and racism.)

In response to the bus ads Islamophobes are going berserk, which is understandable as they have pegged their careers and lives on demonizing Islam and Muslims. The question I would ask is: If Muslims are telling you that they don’t believe in the “Jihad” of Bin Laden why tell them they have their religion wrong? What interest does it serve Geller and Spencer to propagate the Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad? That seems to be the height of absurd Islamophobia.

Of course Geller and Spencer are resorting to conspiracy theory, pushing the idea that this is all “Taqiyya,” and that the non-Muslims who are involved are a bunch of “dhimmi” half-wits. It seems that in response they want to reproduce their own Ad which essentially copy the MyJihad campaign but emphasize the voices that MyJihad is pushing against:

BinLaden_GellerAd

It is apt, here, to highlight what MyJihad founder Ahmed Rehab has said about his motivations in initiating this campaign. He remarked in a tweet that he was inspired by the words of a South Side Chicago Imam who said that,

“When you have a glass of dirty water on the side of the road all you have to do is put a clean glass of water next to it and let the people decide which one to choose.”

Robert Spencer’s Attacks on #MyJihad Campaign Debunked

Garibaldi of Loonwatch wrote about a recent twitter exchange between terrorist inspirer and pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer and Civil Rights activist Ahmed Rehab. Spencer was forced into undermining his career long effort to demonize Islam and Muslims, reluctantly conceding that the term Jihad means more than “terrorism” and “violence,” a position he is loathe to share on a daily basis with his readers since it doesn’t fit his scheme of evil Muslim hordes Islamizing the universe.

This fits a pattern of doublespeak on Spencer’s part: on the one hand he tells his audience that there are “no distinctions between peaceful and violent Muslims” and that the “only good Muslim is a bad Muslim,” yet when pressed in public about his positions he backtracks, and says things like, “Islam makes a lot of people be very moral and upright and live fine lives.”

This brings us to Spencer’s recent double speak, in which he tells his fans that the “true meaning” of Jihad is the one that is forwarded by radical Muslim preachers. Intriguingly, Spencer finds himself in the unenviable company of agreeing with extremists such as Omar Bakri, Anjum Chaudhry, Osama Bin Laden and others who believe that the targeted killing of innocents is a legitimate expression of Jihad in Islam.

Spencer’s article begins by first trying to delegitimize the #MyJihad campaign, he writes,

“The deceptive and misleading #MyJihad campaign…”

Off the bat one can see that Spencer has already made up his mind, for him anything that runs counter to the “Jihad is evil” mantra is unacceptable. That is why he is eager to hide the true import of the campaign: giving voice to how millions of Muslims relate to Jihad in their daily lives. The #MyJihad campaign also clearly states on both its website and Facebook page that its goal is, “taking back Jihad from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists alike.”

One would think that if Spencer was honest about promoting peace and justice (words he bandies about meaninglessly), and not being anti-Muslim he would welcome such an initiative. Of course Spencer would be out of a David Horowitz Subsidized job if he welcomed the campaign. Spencer goes on to write,

This campaign is designed to foster complacency among Americans, and to blind them to the fact that Islamic jihadists are committing violence in the name of jihad around the world every day.

Spencer is worried by the educational potentiality of the #MyJihad campaign and attempts once again to obfuscate its message. Clearly Spencer missed the memo about what this whole campaign actually is about, let’s repeat it for him,

“taking back Jihad from anti-Muslim and Muslim extremists alike.”

Robert Spencer’s many faulty claims regarding Jihad have been directly debunked in Danios’ Understanding Jihad series. In this series Danios tackles Spencer’s assertions one by one, adding context and facts and also criticizing the enormous falsities Spencer forwards about Jihad, thereby putting “Jihad” in proper perspective. This may be the reason why to this day Robert Spencer refuses to reply to Danios’ rebuttals in the series and has also ran away from Loonwatch’s open invitation to debate.

Also read Sheila Musaji’s article: AFDI/SIOA Roll Out 8 More Anti-Muslim Ads