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The Day Islamophobia Exploded

Many observers, bloggers and commentators have been monitoring and logging the rise of Islamophobia in recent years. I, myself, have expressed concern on more than one occasion that unless the acceptability of anti-Muslim sentiment is challenged it will take a tragedy on a large scale to wake people up to the rise of far right extremism. I have been working on a blog post addressing what I see as an impending tipping point for the EDL at their proposed Tower Hamlets demonstration. I’ve been sitting on it due to further developments and partly because I feared my theory would be considered slightly hysterical. In light of events in Norway this week, it appears that my, and many others fears were well founded.

This is part of the post I was going to title ‘The EDL and their East end Crossroads’.

With EDL demos mainly consisting of congregating, drinking, singing the same few songs and leaving, they achieve absolutely nothing in their quest of halting the Islamic jihad. Tower Hamlets could be the one where the violent online rhetoric is transferred into actions. The consequences of this could spell the beginning of the end for them as an organisation. How much longer will they be allowed to disrupt communities, waste police time and tax payers money? The rise in their profile means that more and more members of the general public are becoming aware of their reputation and what they stand for. Some will sympathise, the majority see them for what they are and reject them.

I predict that the Tower Hamlets event will further drive a wedge between the EDL and mainstream society and many members will have to choose which direction they wish to take. If there is large scale disorder I can see harsher restrictions being put on their marches or total bans. This will lead to frustration among the more moderate members who will become disillusioned and abandon the group. If the demo passes without incident due to kettling or lack of reaction from the locals, the more extreme element within the EDL will also be frustrated that what was supposed to be their showpiece demo failed to live up to its billing. Their resentment towards the government, local authorities, the Muslim community and the ‘left’ will grow, and their already unhealthy paranoia will force them to become more militant to satisfy their appetite for action and to achieve their goals. It will be the end of the EDL as we know it.

The organisation will have shed any illusion of inclusiveness and adherence to an obsolete mission statement, and ‘ordinary’ members will be marginalised. There is a real danger that regional divisions could evolve into underground urban militias, stockpiling weapons in readiness for the civil war that will never materialise. Nevertheless the ever changing demographics of the UK will fuel their paranoia and result in sporadic violence and possibly even terrorist attacks. This may sound like pure fantasy, but it’s already happening. In the UK, the last 2 years have seen over 30 recorded incidents of arson, vandalism or attempted bombings of mosques, assaults on individuals outside mosques or vandalism of Muslim graves. This is more than one incident a month, and many incidents go unreported due to fear of reprisals. I don’t see this stopping anytime soon unless serious action is taken or something tragic happens. Islamophobia and far right extremism are on the rise in Europe, and until they are both addressed on a governmental level they will keep on growing, and only a catastrophic event will cause people to treat the issue with the seriousness it warrants.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, maybe the EDL will just amble along on the fringes of mainstream society until they realise they serve no purpose, and the movement will fizzle out naturally. But the level of hatred and violent rhetoric that comes from a hardcore of members indicates that they won’t go down without a fight. They actually believe they are fighting a domestic war to win their country back. These people won’t just stop feeling the way they do and will exist in some shape or form, EDL or not. This is the reason I feel things will inevitably escalate before they improve. How quickly they escalate will be decided in no small part on September the 3rd 2011. Hopefully then we can help things improve.

I posted an article recently highlighting the relative scarcity of jihadist attacks in Europe and the US compared to other ideologies and how we need to change the perception regarding terrorism and terrorists. The reluctance to acknowledge the threat of domestic terrorism in order to chase the Islamic bogeyman has caused the powers that be to take their eye off the ball with catastrophic consequences.

Here’s an extract from an article I wrote back in April 2011.

In 2011, no one in the mainstream media would dare espouse openly anti-Semitic views akin to those above. No one would express their wishes to return blacks to the status they had in the Jim Crow era, whether they held them or not. Why then, in the 21st century is it acceptable to do both of these with Muslims?

It worries me to imagine how far this could go before it is seen for what it is. Where is the tipping point? What will be the catalyst that forces people to say enough is enough? Unfortunately it will likely be a tragedy on a large scale. It scares me to imagine how large. People are dying daily in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Hundreds of detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay without charge. The civilian death toll in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is in the hundreds of thousands. The people of Palestine are still living in a state of apartheid under siege. How much suffering needs to be inflicted before a watershed occurs?

As long as the GWOT continues, as long as Palestinians resist, and as long as there is oil in the middle east, there will be a need to demonise Muslims and Arabs. In recent weeks we have seen anti-Muslim hearings being held and anti-Sharia laws being passed in America. We’ve seen France criminalise 0.003% of it’s population by banning the niqab. Belgium have already done this. Holland is considering the issue of Halal slaughter. Switzerland has already banned the erection of minarets. Gaza has lost women and children with no media outcry, western condemnation or political debate for a no fly zone.

My hope is that making it as uncomfortable as possible to carry out this demonising will go some way to accelerating it’s demise. Don’t let anyone tell you they can’t be racist towards Muslims, because they can and they are. From the lowliest EDL member, to Republican Senators and Heads of State. Let’s not allow them to hide behind the false claims and propaganda. It’s a huge challenge due to the semantics and misinformation in use and the political implications. The influence of the Conservative Christian right and Pro Israel lobby also cannot be underestimated. But the court of public opinion will always hold considerable power. Public opinion needs to be informed to be able to pass judgement. That’s where we come in. Let’s take this opportunity in the age of social networks and internet revolutions to help raise awareness and stop the hate. Forward, share, join, like, tweet and retweet. Let’s become the generation that said ‘Never Again’ and really meant it.

I blogged this in June 2011.

The acquittal of Geert Wilders in an Amsterdam court yesterday was a victory for free speech. It was also a victory for hate and hypocrisy……What will this mean for Muslims in Holland, across Europe and the West? A report from Belgium shows that Islamophobia is at an all time high there, while anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise in the UK and US, ranging from verbal abuse, to mosque vandalism and physical attacks. France and Switzerland have also introduced legislation that infringe on Muslims practicing their faith. This legal victory will no doubt fortify those who share his views, and I would venture that we can expect some attention seekers to attempt to capitalise on it.

It seems insensitive to say I told you so at a time like this, but many of us did. The only surprise for me was the fact that the attack didn’t focus on Muslims. But something else that has struck me recently is that if there is one set of people the far right despise more than Muslims, it’s ‘the left’. Whether it’s because they see them as dhimmis, traitors, enablers or the manufacturers of the multicultural society they abhor. In some perverse way, the fact that white Europeans were the victims could be less damaging in the long term. It may sound callous, but with Caucasian natives being murdered it may bring home the gravity of the threat to the ruling elite, the media and general public in a way that the deaths of immigrants couldn’t. Also, the bombing of a mosque or immigration centre, with an equal number of Muslim casualties could spark continent wide race riots with dire implications for community relations which could take a generation to rebuild. The most fitting tribute the people of Europe could pay to these innocent kids and their families is to promise not to let this happen again, to anyone.

The only way we can do this is by ensuring that politicians, the media and anyone else with influence are aware of the problem. A good start would be to shine the spotlight as brightly as possible on the anti-Muslim ideologues that inspired Breivik’s imagination and actions. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, Daniel Pipes, Fjordman, Bat Ye’or, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney, Walid Shoebat, Andrew Bostom, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Melanie Phillips, David Horowitz and Front Page, Steve Emerson, Ibn Warraq, Gate of Vienna, SIOE among others all need to feel the heat. Whilst not directly responsible for the atrocity, their influence is undeniable. Whilst each and every one of them attempts to distance themselves from Breivik’s actions, their words of hate towards Muslims and liberals are freely available to observe on the world wide web.

Robert Spencer – “The girl is right: do not fear. Fight back against the jihad. Fear hands the jihadis a weapon.”

Pamela Geller“And I pray dearly that in the ungodly event that Tehran or its jihadi proxies (Hez’ballah, Hamas etc) target Israel with a nuke, that she retaliate with everything she has at Tehran, Mecca, and Medina…………… Not to mention Europe.” 

Geert Wilders – “We need a spirit of resistance, because resistance to evil is our moral duty.”

Daniel Pipes – “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…. All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

Walid Shoebat – “Kill them (Muslims)… including the children … “

Bat Ye’or“Those churches know perfectly well the dire condition of Christians in Muslim lands. But instead of denouncing it, they adopt the militancy of the Janissaries, those Christian slave militias that were the spearhead of the Islamic war against Christianity.”

Mark Steyn – “The Serbs figured that out–as other Continentals will in the years ahead: If you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.”

David Horowitz – “What other people wouldn’t be stringing up the people who were responsible or who they thought to be responsible.”

Brigitte Gabriel –  “America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.”

“It is not yet politically correct to talk about a religious war. But this is exactly what we are facing: a religious war declared by devout Muslims….It’s not radical Islam. It’s what Islam is at its core.” 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali – “No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.  I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”

This is just the tip of the Islamophobic iceberg. So far, this warmongering rhetoric has gone without the disapproval that would greet similar sentiments about blacks or Jews. Despite the rise in Islamophobic incidents, this brand of hate speech has been tolerated or ignored. Many of us who have been casting a more critical and analytical eye over developments have suspected it would only be a matter of time before some radicalised extremist took the only step left to take. Now it’s happened, we’ll see whether they will continue their irresponsible hate mongering. The attack by Breivik is seen by him as the start of a war, one that the aforementioned ‘counter jihadists’ have been using to spread fear and paranoia for years. The reaction of many of them has been one of surprise, as if the holy war they predicted was just a propaganda tool that they never seriously envisaged happening. Well, whether it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, it’s here now and the words and actions of these figureheads and their disciples will be scrutinised to the nth degree. They need to be held accountable and made to answer. If they truly condemn and regret the horrific events of last Friday, they must now enter meaningful dialogue to prove it. Does their humanity outweigh their hate? Are they willing to put their selfish agenda’s aside for the sake of peace? We shall see, as somehow I doubt this is the last I’ll blog on this subject.

For more articles on the threat of the far right and its ideologues I’ve linked some below.

http://yellow-stars.com/blog/2011/07/23/norway-attack-islamophobic-reaction/

http://yellow-stars.com/blog/2011/07/23/norway-and-europe-new-terrorist-threat/

http://yellow-stars.com/blog/2011/06/19/wrong-dangerous-directions-counter-terrorism-western-world/

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/07/25/rise_of_the_radical_right

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/07/26/europe_right_wing_extremism

http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/07/loonwatch-has-been-warning-about-a-anders-behring-breivik-for-years/

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/26/what-are-people-like-melanie-phillips-calling-for-then/

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The Preachers of Hate Series: Pt. 2 – Kamal Saleem

Following on from the initial post in my Preachers of Hate series introducing the first of the ‘Three Stooges’ of the Christian right, Walid Shoebat. I would like to continue with the introduction of Stooge number two, Kamal Saleem. Another ex-Muslim terrorist turned born-again Christian. Or so his self-confession goes. As in Shoebat’s case Saleem’s biography doesn’t stand up to even the mildest scrutiny.

The biography from his memoir The Blood of Lambs states:

Born in 1957 into a large Sunni Muslim Lebanese family in the heart of the Middle East, Kamal Saleem was breastfed Islamic radicalism by his mother, and taught to hate Jews and Christians by his father. His cousin was the Grand Mufti of Beirut. Recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood for jihadi militancy as a small child, he completed his first bloody terror mission into Israel for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the age of seven.

Like a star U.S. college football running back, Kamal ran important terror operations as a young man in the service of Yassir Arafat, under the coaching Abu Yussif and Abu Zayed (PLO/Fatah). He has worked for, and dined with, Muhamar Kaddafi (dictator of Libya). He has “carried the ball” for Baath Party leaders and military attaches of Saddam Hussein (dictator of Iraq) and Hafez al Assad (dictator of Syria), for Saudi Arabian sheikhs and princes, and for Abdul Rahman (Muslim Brotherhood). Kamal Saleem fought with the Afghan Mujahadeen for victory against the Soviets… before he and his patrons turned their attention to the destruction of the West – and Western freedoms – through Islamicization. Above all, Kamal thirsted for jihadic death to America.

He was well prepared: After mastering every form of offensive and defensive terror tactic, Kamal Saleem slipped into Europe and then the United States to make Islamic converts — and to radicalize them, along with assimilated Muslims, into vicious intolerance.

In 1985, Kamal’s world changed when he was injured in a serious automobile accident. At that accident scene a Christian man tended to Kamal and made sure he got the medical treatment he needed. Kamal had a spiritual journey and eventually converted to Christianity.

Prof. Doug Howard, a Saleem sceptic comments:

The book fits the familiar pattern of reassuring Christians of the superiority of their own faith tradition by negative comparisons with a dehumanized Islam. I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. He told stories, now repeated in The Blood of Lambs, of being recruited as a child for missions against Israel via tunnels under the Golan Heights, disguised as sheep; of visions of a rider on a white horse who, drawn swords in hand, commanded him to sever the heads of the infidels.

He gets those emphatic rivals, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood, both to recruit him. He recalls the intricate details of raids he carried out at age seven. Abu Jihad himself teaches him how to use an AK-47. He is shown off by Yasser Arafat as a model warrior. In Libya at age 14 he has Muammar Qaddafi gushing in gratitude. In Iraq, he waves to Saddam Hussein. He only meets one man smarter than himself, an American commander of the mujahidin at al-Qaeda, “the base,” in Afghanistan. No major war of liberation in the Arab world seems to have gone off without his expertise.

Professor Douglas Howard teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Michigan, where Kamal Saleem spoke last November. He was shocked to hear Saleem claim that a member of his family was the “the Grand Wazir of Islam.”

“Wazir is a variation of vizier,” Professor Howard explained. “The Grand Vizier was a political role in the Ottoman empire. No Muslim would ever claim that in connection with the role of mufti, which is a scholar of Islamic texts. It’s like someone saying they were the governor of Christianity.”

Chris Hedges of Truthdig:

Kamal Saleem claim’s to be the descendant of someone called the “The Grand Wazir of Islam,” which  Hedges points out is ”a title and a position that do not exist in the Arab world.” It can be further noted that the religion of Islam has no clerical hierarchy similar to the Catholic Church with defined positions such as the Pope, Bishops, Priests, etc. Kamal’s blooper in his bio is either a result of an ignorance of Islam and its structure or an attempt to manipulate the ignorance of his audience. Saleem says that as a child he infiltrated Israel to plant bombs via a network of tunnels underneath the Golan Heights, although no incident of this type was ever reported in Israel.

CAIR-MI – The Muslim Watch:

It’s also very interesting that Saleem claims to have been a terrorist inspired by Islam as a member of the secular, Marxist influenced PLO, whose long time executive committee member and long time spokeswoman, Hanan Ashrawi, was a Christian. Saleem wants us to believe that Ashrawi, George Habash and the countless others from Christian backgrounds in the secular PLO were also inspired by Islam as he claims was his “terrorist” motive in dealing with the pesky problem of illegal Israeli occupation.

Furthermore the Muslim Brotherhood, who Saleem claims he had dual affiliation with, was averse to the secular, Marxist leaning PLO during the time that he claimed to have been a member. In fact, it is also well known that the Muslim Brotherhood inspired Hamas was supported by Israel to be an “Islamist” counter to the secular PLO/Fatah. To this day, Hamas and the PLO have been at odds with each other to the point of killing each other in the streets of Palestine in recent years. Hence, Saleem’s claim of being an “Islamist” terrorist in the PLO while having felicity to the Muslim Brotherhood is utterly preposterous.

If he were indeed an “ex-terrorist,” I’m sure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would have deported him by now for fraud because people with terrorism ties cannot get entry visas much less obtain American citizenship. And the FBI does not simply let “ex-terrorists” walk the streets because they claim to have received the “Holy Ghost” without detaining them for questioning. Changing idelogies does not absolve persons under American law from terrorism ties that they admit to.

Reza Aslan:

Here’s a question: if the claims of these three are true, why aren’t they in Guantanamo?

Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has worked tirelessly to uncover precisely the kinds of constitutional violations of church and state that occurred when these three spoke, or rather, witnessed, at the Air Force Academy, put it this way: “If their claims are true, these alleged ex-terrorists should be deported or prosecuted, unless our government now considers conversion to fundamentalist Christianity a reason to disregard prior terrorist activities. If their claims are fabricated, they have criminally defrauded every institution that has paid them to speak.”

Strangely, no arrests warrants have yet been issued.

Yayah Snow at The Facts About Islam has exposed Saleem’s dishonesty by uncovering contradictory accounts of his conversion:

Conversion Story 1 – ABNSAT

In this conversion story Kamal Saleem is hospitalized through a car crash and ‘Jesus’ came to him whilst he is on his hospital bed and healed his bones. 

Conversion story 2 – KSLTV

In this conversion story, the doctors and the man who tended to him on the road (post crash) changed Kamal Saleem’s life. There is NO claim of ‘Jesus’ paying him a hospital visit and healing his bones. In fact this conversion story is very much due to the love Christians offered to him.

Conversion story 3 – CBN

In this conversion story, Kamal Saleem was healed by the doctors through conventional medical means (in this version, ‘Jesus’ did not heal him nor did he visit him at hospital ).

Kamal Saleem went to the doctor’s home to convalesce and fully recuperate after being discharged from hospital. Once he was well enough to take care of himself, Kamal Saleem had his hospital bills paid for by donations from local Christians and was also given a new car. He went home and questioned his ‘Muslim faith’ and then had a vision of ‘Jesus’ in his home. 

In this astonishing video Saleem appears to be literally making things up as he goes along. He claims to be hafiz, which means he memorised the Qur’an, and recited it 3 times by the time he was 10. He claims to have studied at Al Azhar Achareef University in Beirut. Which would be fine, apart from the fact that Al Azhar is the most famous and prestigious university in the Muslim world, and located in Cairo, Egypt. A Muslim as devout as he claims to have been would know this. He also recites random Arabic phrases and passes them off as hadith and quranic verses. They are all totally non-existent.

From the Village Voice:

Omar Khalifah, a student present at the now notorious conference at the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, said.  “We left our study for one week to try to find solutions, not to listen to a person who is speaking as a preacher, as if he is in a church.” Khalifah, who is from Jordan, says he was shocked and offended by the proselytizing he saw. Instead of educating their audience, Khalifah and other grad students say, the speakers denounced Islam and promoted Christianity.

Khalifah and other New Yorkers say they were initially annoyed at the trio’s alarmist rhetoric, including claims that jihadist ideology is being taught in 90 percent of American mosques, and the characterization of Islam as an inherently violent religion. But they were truly offended by Shoebat’s announcement that converting Muslims to Christianity was a good way to defeat terrorism.

Columbia law student Ernest Jedrzejewski compares the presentation to a Christian tent revival. “All we needed was a light from above and someone to suddenly get over an incurable illness,” he says.

Just like Shoebat, Saleem is an associate of Rev. Pat Robertson having worked for his Christian Broadcasting Network. Robertson is a Southern Baptist evangelist with a history of controversial statements. Some choice examples include:

Claiming some protestant denominations harboured the spirit of the antichrist.

Robertson stated that the acceptance of homosexuality could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombings and “possibly a meteor.” The resulting outcry prompted Robertson to return to the topic on June 24, where he quoted the Book of Revelation to support his claims.

The lead story on the January 5, 2006, edition of The 700 Club was Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s hospitalization for a severe stroke. After the story, Robertson said that Sharon’s illness was possibly retribution from God for his recent drive to give more land to the Palestinians.

On Muslims and their faith: “These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it’s motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with.”

On March 23, 1995, Pat Robertson led a television program in which he attacked Hinduism, calling it “demonic”.

On the January 13, 2010 broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson blamed the Haitians for making a deal with the Devil during their 1791 slave rebellion, resulting in the Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010 and other misfortunes.

In 2006 Saleem founded Koome Ministries which according to their website:

The intended impact of Koome Ministries is:

  • Call the church to PRAYER that all may see the redeeming power of praying for our enemies and to pray for Muslims – Daily (Luke 6:27)
  • To wake up, educate, and train the Christian and Jewish communities on the impending dangers of radical Islam
  • To reach the Muslims with the redemptive message of Christ and
  • To teach the Church “relationship evangelism” in order to reach Muslims with the Truth.

Taking all of the evidence into account i.e. the wildly fantastical biography, the glaring errors, self contradictions and complete fabrications, it’s impossible to take any of Saleem’s claims seriously. It would appear that he has never been a Muslim, let alone an Islamic jihadist. In fact, all indications point to him being a lifelong Christian. As with Shoebat, his history is an invention to gain credibility and it seems is being used as a smokescreen to proselytize to students and soldiers and demonise Islam and Muslims.

Links to full articles quoted in this post are below:

http://mujtahed.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/kamal-saleem-the-fraud/

http://thefactsaboutislam.blogspot.com/2010/10/abnsat-hoax-kamal-saleems-fanciful.html

http://thefactsaboutislam.blogspot.com/search/label/Kamal%20Saleem

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080211_the_war_against_tolerance/

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/02/27/apparently-terrorism-pays-it-pays-very-well/

http://www.villagevoice.com/2008-02-19/news/reformed-muslim-terrorists-preach-christ-to-college-kids/2/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/iobsessioni-stars-have-le_b_126693.html

http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/04/the-three-stooges-coming-to-a-campus-near-you/

http://www.loonwatch.com/tag/kamal-saleem/

The Other Terrorists

 

The Islamophobes have a number of default positions they revert to when being challenged by facts, or if they feel that they may appear discriminatory when they become aware that their generalising has inadvertently slipped into the realms of bigotry.

Critics of western foreign policy, racial profiling, or the prevalence of anti-Arab and anti-Asian suspicion that is being milked by the right wing, will sooner or later be faced with the 9/11 fallback. Remind them that we’re implementing a collective punishment across a whole faith group unfairly and you might hear the classic, but underused canard, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’. When you hear this coming from FOX anchors and Tea Party Republicans one could be forgiven for thinking that they may actually believe this. Conservative America is not generally renowned for its extensive knowledge of international current affairs, or indeed historical affairs. When you hear it emanating from the little Englanders of the British far right, it’s safe to say ignorance plays a significant part.

But much of this ignorance stems from the perception of what terrorism and terrorists look like. It’s vital that the western media reserves the label terrorism for the ‘enemy’, to feed the need for an evil bogeyman, to justify the war on terror and legitimise the ‘Muslim threat’. There is a tangible reluctance to label any domestic or non-Muslim incidents as terrorist related. The likes of Jared Loughner and Timothy Mcvey are considered lone psychopaths, paramilitary activity in Ireland is called ‘sectarian violence’, and civilian deaths in Afghanistan are just collateral damage. Leftist conspiracy talk, I hear you say. But is it?

Thankfully not much research is needed to debunk the notion that Muslims have cornered the market in terror.

http://www.europol.europa.eu/publications/EU_Terrorism_Situation_and_Trend_Report_TE-SAT/Tesat2010.pdf

http://www.europol.europa.eu/publications/EU_Terrorism_Situation_and_Trend_Report_TE-SAT/TE-SAT2011.pdf

If we take the EU from 2006 – 2010, there have been a total of 2139 failed, foiled or successful terrorist attacks. Of these only 7 were attributed to Islamic terrorists, which accounts for 0.32%. In other words, 99.68% of failed, foiled or successful terrorist attacks over the past 5 years have been non-Muslim.

http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005/terror02_05

Stateside, the FBI has statistics available which show that between 1980 – 2005 only 6% of terrorist attacks were down to Islamic extremists.

That didn’t take long did it? So how come we don’t hear about the other 90 odd % of the incidents? We probably do, but as they don’t fit the profile of what we’re told terrorism is they pass us by. You also have to remember that Islamic terrorism is big news, so will occupy more column inches, more airtime and generate more hysteria. Still don’t believe it? To give some idea of the reality I want to list some of the more notable incidents that have occurred since 2001. The criteria must match those of Islamic terrorism i.e. non-governmental groups or individuals acting on political, religious or racial motivation. Or more precisely:

Common definitions of terrorism refer only to those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians), and are committed by non-government agencies.


Right Wing/Christian – USA

 

Jim D. Adkisson opened fire in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville TN killing two and injuring seven (a note found in his SUV indicated this was intended as a suicide attack and said the church was apparently targeted because of its support of liberal social policies).

Alabama Free Militia, five members of anti-immigration militia were arrested for planning a machine gun attack on Mexicans.  During raids by federal agents, authorities seized 130 hand grenades, two machine guns and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition

Chad Altman and Sergio Baca were arrested for the arson of Dr. Curtis Boyd’s clinic in Albuquerque NM.

Daniel L. Barefoot, Sharon Renee Barefoot, Jonathan A. Avery, Jonathan Maynard, Marvin G. Gautier and Rossie Lynwood Strickland , six members of the Nation’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty to a variety of weapons and conspiracy charges in connection with an illegal gun trading scheme in the early 2000s to finance a plan to blow up the Johnston County, North Carolina, courthouse.

Kody Brittingham, a Marine is arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate President Obama. Brittingham also collected white-supremacist material.

 

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, two white power skinheads plot to target an African American High School and kill 88 blacks and decapitate 14 more (the numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic to white supremacists) and although expecting to fail try to assassinate Barack Obama.
 

Demetrius Van Crocker a white supremacist from rural TN attempted to acquire Sarin nerve gas and C-4 explosives that he planned to use to destroy government buildings.

 

James Cummings dirty bomb plot, Belfast, Maine, police discover the makings of a nuclear “dirty bomb” in the basement of a white supremacist shot dead by his wife. The man, who was independently wealthy, reportedly was agitated about the election of President Obama and was crafting a plan to set off the bomb.
 

Matthew L. Derosia rammed a SUV into the front entrance of a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul, Minnesota.
 

John Earl, a Catholic priest drove his car into the Northern Illinois Health Clinic and pulled out an axe before being shot at by a security guard.

 

David Anthony Fuselier and 4 other members of the American Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted in federal court in Louisiana on conspiracy and intimidation charges for burning a cross at the residence of three African-American men in Longville, Louisiana. The five men, who all pleaded guilty, had burned the cross in an attempt to coerce the victims into leaving the community.
 

Matt Hale of the World Church of the Creator was convicted in 2004 of soliciting the murder of Chicago federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.

 

Jeffrey Harbin who has ties to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) and was formerly a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, arrested for transporting 12 grenade-like improvised explosive devices.

 

Kevin William Hardham has been charged with illegal possession of an explosive device and attempting to use a “weapon of mass destruction,”  after leaving a backpack bomb with the potential of killing or injuring dozens of people along the route of a Martin Luther King Day “unity march” in downtown Spokane, Wash

 

Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe threw a Molotov cocktail at a clinic in Shreveport, LA.
 

David Hull, Pennsylvania Klan leader was convicted of a variety of illegal weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to use hand grenades to attack abortion clinics; he also allegedly told an informant that he had turned his car into a “suicide bomb on wheels.”
 

Hutaree “Christian warrior” militia.  Seven militiamen from the Hutaree Militia in Michigan and Ohio are arrested and charged with plotting to assassinate local police officers with the intent of sparking a new civil war.

 

Vadim Ignatov shooting attack on Muslim home in Oregon.

 

William Krar is charged for his part in the Tyler poison gas plot, a white supremacist related plan, his weapons cache included a half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers, and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases.

 

Thomas Hayward Lewis, a white power skinhead arrested in Mobile Alabama for vandalism and cache of explosives found in his home.

January 2009: A white supremacist named Keith Luke embarks on a killing rampage in Brockton, Mass., raping and wounding a black woman and killing her sister, then killing a homeless man before being captured by police as he is en route to a Jewish community center.

Dennis & Daniel Mahon send mail bombs to a diversity office in Scottsdale AZ that injure three.

David McMenemy of Rochester Hills, Michigan crashed his car into the Edgerton Women’s Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. He then doused the lobby in gasoline and then started a fire. McMenemy committed these acts in the belief that the center was performing abortions.
Justin Carl Moose plot to bomb abortion clinics.  The FBI alleges he referred to himself as the “Christian counterpart to (Osama) bin Laden”.
 

 Donny Eugene Mower was arrested on federal charges of attacking a reproductive health clinic in Madera CA, and authorities said he also is responsible for vandalism and menacing signs left at the city’s Islamic center.

 

Robert Pickett discharged a number of shots from a weapon in the direction of the White House.
 

Richard Andrew Poplawski – Three Pittsburgh police officers are fatally shot and a fourth wounded by Richard Andrew Poplawski, who had posted his racist and anti-Semitic views on white supremacist websites.
 

Daniel James Schertz, N GA White Knights member pleaded guilty to building pipe bombs designed to blow up buses carrying Mexican and Haitian migrant workers from Tennessee to Florida

 

Roger Stockham was arrested in a car laden with explosives outside one of the nation’s largest mosques in Dearborn MI.

Texas Militia former leaders plot to attack the Federal Building in Houston.

Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, a pair of “Patriot” movement radicals who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure”—threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting by James Wenneker von Brunn.

Clayton Waagner, claiming to act on the part of the “Virginia Dare Chapter” of the Army Of God mailed hoax letters containing a white powder to 554 clinics.

White supremacists planned to bomb a series of institutions associated with the black and Jewish communities including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

April 2009: Another gunman in Okaloosa County, Florida, similarly fearful of Obama’s purported gun-grabbing plans, kills two deputies when they come to arrest him in a domestic-violence matter, then is killed himself in a shootout with police.

May 2009: A “sovereign citizen” named Scott Roeder walks into a church in Wichita, Kansas, and assassinates abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

February 2010: An angry tax protester named Joseph Ray Stack flies an airplane into the building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas. (Media are reluctant to label this one “domestic terrorism” too.)

March 2010: An anti-government extremist named John Patrick Bedell walks into the Pentagon and opens fire, wounding two officers before he is himself shot dead.

May 2010: A “sovereign citizen” from Georgia is arrested in Tennessee and charged with plotting the violent takeover of a local county courthouse.

May 2010: A still-unidentified white man walks into a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque and sets it afire, simultaneously setting off a pipe bomb.

May 2010: Two “sovereign citizens” named Jerry and Joe Kane gun down two police officers who pull them over for a traffic violation, and then wound two more officers in a shootout in which both of them are eventually killed.

July 2010: An agitated right-winger and convict named Byron Williams loads up on weapons and drives to the Bay Area intent on attacking the offices of the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, but is intercepted by state patrolmen and engages them in a shootout and armed standoff in which two officers and Williams are wounded.

As well as the above incidents there have been over  40 cases, that I would classify as terrorism, directed at mosques in the USA since 2001. I haven’t included incidents labelled vandalism, graffiti, or assault. These are arson, bombings and shootings.

Far Right – UK 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article626697.ece

The films show balaclava-clad white British men brandishing guns, knives and clubs, calling on all Muslims to leave the United Kingdom or be killed. One appears to be a soldier who has served in the Gulf.

In one film a man tells Muslims to “go home” or risk being burnt alive. He threatens: “I’ll cut your head off,” and claims to have “comrades” across Britain who have “had enough”.

http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/2105392.bishop_was_sent_death_threat/

The Bishop of Oxford was sent a death threat calling for his beheading after backing a plan to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer.

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2009/winter/britain

A British neo-Nazi who sought to emulate Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was convicted in July of plotting a racist terror campaign targeting Asians and Muslims with sophisticated homemade explosives.

Prosecutors established that Neil Lewington, 44, an unemployed electrician, operated a bomb factory in his bedroom, where police found nine pounds of weedkiller, pyrotechnic powders and dozens of fuses and igniters. They also seized a copy of the Waffen SS UK Members’ Handbook, filled with schematics of electronic detonators and chemical weapons devices.

David Copeland, who in April 1999 conducted a 13-day bombing campaign against London’s black, Bangladeshi and gay communities.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6638139.ece

A network of suspected far-right extremists with access to 300 weapons and 80 bombs has been uncovered by counter-terrorism detectives. Thirty-two people have been questioned in a police operation that raises the prospect of a right-wing bombing campaign against mosques.

Several alleged right-wing extremists have been charged with terrorism offences in the UK in the past year. In one case, a jury convicted Martyn Gilleard, 31, a neo-Nazi forklift truck driver, who wanted to “secure a future for white children” and kept explosives at his flat in Goole, East Yorkshire. He built small hand-held bombs, and among the material seized were membership cards for the National Front, the British People’s party and the White Nationalist party. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

As well as these cases there have been in excess of 60 terroristic attacks on mosques in Europe, Canada and Australia since 2001. Again, these are incidents of arson, bombings and shootings. Including vandalism, assaults, grave desecrations would take the figure well into triple digits.

Ireland

 

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 1969 – 2001 – 481 killed (401 civilian)

Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) 1969 – 1997 – 1824 killed (621 civilian)

Irish National Liberation Army 1969 – 2001 – 113 killed (46 civilian)

Orange Volunteer Force (OVF) 1999 – 2011 – 36 threats, bombings, shootings & arsons. One of the group’s first actions was a synchronized attack on 11 Catholic churches. Peeples defended the attack on the grounds that the churches were “bastions of the Antichrist”. In 2001 he was jailed for ten years for possession of the weapons. He was released in 2004 and became the minister of a Pentecostal church on the Shankill Road in Belfast.

Ulster Defence Association (UDA) 1969 – 2001 – 260 killed (197 civilian)

Totals for conflict:

Injury: 47,541

Shootings: 36,923

People charged with paramilitary offences: 19,605

Bombings & Attempted bombings: 16,209

Deaths: 3,526

Civilian Deaths: 1,857

2011 has seen the return of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland with the murder of a police officer using a booby trap bomb planted in his car.

On 20th of June, 2011, the UVF invaded the nationalist area of the Short Strandand began attacking nationalist homes, the men were dressed in balaclavas and full camoflage gear. Republicans (Allegedly the Provisional IRA) opened fire, shooting 2 loyalists in the legs. Riots continued for hours, and a nationalist resident of the short strand was seriously injured when a breezeblock was dropped on his head by loyalists. A second night of rioting followed, with a press photographer being shot in the leg by Republicans.

June and July has witnessed rioting in Belfast lasting up to three nights at a time, involving up to 700 people, with petrol bombings and shootings taking place.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. It doesn’t take into account Basque seperatists ETA who between 1968 and 2011 have carried out up to 3,500 attacks killing up to 952, including 343 civilians. It also ignores eco-terrorists Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front and Puerto Rican nationalist groups who between them carried out 66% of all terrorist attacks in the USA from 1985 – 2005.

I have no doubt some will wish to expand the debate to prove that globally, Islamic terrorism is more prolific and devastating than any other form. This may, or may not be the case depending on how terrorism is defined and is something I will address in a future post.

Just Saying

Whilst reading for the purpose of a future blog I came across something that struck a cord. Fascism is a word that gets bandied about by both sides of the political divide without much thought with regards to its accuracy or suitability. It more often than not is used as an insult, normally when somebody’s opinions or actions meet resistance. I stumbled upon a set of criteria offered by Robert Paxton, a political scientist and historian specialising in fascism. It’s comprehensive yet simple, and point by point the parallels with a notorious ‘human rights organisation’ dear to us all became clearer to see.

From Professor Robert Paxton’s 2004 book, `The Anatomy of Fascism.’

1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions;

2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits;

3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts;

4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint;

5. fear of foreign `contamination.’

Applied to my observations on the EDL:

1. The EDL see the Islamification of the UK as inevitable and the perception that they are the only ones who can see this happening fuels a desperate paranoia. This manifests itself occasionally through violence and vandalism, and an increasingly violent rhetoric.

2. There is an overwhelming feeling within the EDL that white, working class Britons are being treated as second class citizens while Muslims and immigrants receive beneficial treatment from the government and liberal elite. They also feel that the EDL suffer from harsh treatment from the authorities and bad press because of this.

3. Tommy Robinson has earned an almost cult like adoration from EDL members who see him as a freedom fighter willing to sacrifice his family’s security and safety, and his own liberty for the ’cause’. They believe he is the victim of continued persecution from the authorities despite constant law breaking, and subsequent breaching of various conditions placed on him.

4. The EDL are a nationalistic, nativist organisation. They claim to accept anyone on the condition that they assimilate and don’t impose alien cultures or values on their adopted home. They believe, as the ‘indigenous’ population, that they are naturally deserving and entitled, as evinced by their favoured chants ‘who’s streets, our streets’ and ‘we want our country back’.

5. The EDL see Islam as a threat being spread through creeping sharia and stealth jihad. They constantly refer to Islam as a cancer, plague, disease or poison and Muslims as vermin.

Paxton states:

Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.

The EDL have an obsession with military imagery and terminology. They display an undignified sycophancy towards ‘our boys’, and an unhealthy need to mourn our ‘fallen heroes’ at any opportunity, hijacking processions and funerals and adopting numerous military charities. Anyone who doesn’t share their fervent pride in the armed forces is labelled as anti-British.

Off the top of my head we can add the suppression and censorship of internal dissent on social networking sites, the targeting of left wing groups and events (the Newcastle UAF meeting and recent anti-racism gig in Leeds) and the dissemination of dehumanising propaganda to the list. All classic tactics of fascist organisations.

Just saying.

The Preachers of Hate Series: Pt. 1 – Walid Shoebat

It gets depressing wading through the hateful anti-Muslim propaganda on various networking sites, so I’ve started my own little game to lighten things up. When I click on the shortened URL I have a little bet with myself as to which particular hate site will be revealed. The usual suspects crop up with tedious regularity. Pointing out the inaccuracies, and discrediting each individual source has no impact at all. Banging my head against a brick wall would be less painful and frustrating. They keep on coming, the same old sites and the same old names.

I’ve mentioned previously how the Islamophobic gravy train is particularly lucrative and well funded. Certain individuals have found a particular niche for themselves and exploit the Islamophobia to line their pockets and to further their own agendas. Some even fabricate entire back stories to provide an air of authenticity. Their supposed expert insight and inside knowledge of the Muslim threat has been lapped up eagerly by the right-wing media, conservative Christians, Tea Party and GOP candidates, the Zionist lobby and even government departments Stateside and their influence has seeped into the UK anti-Muslim movement. Unfortunately the anti-Islamophobia and anti-racism movement in the UK have been slow to recognise the threat these hatemongers pose.

I want to bring these people to the attention of a wider audience to ensure that they are exposed for the frauds that they are, despite their superficial credibility. The first of these people is Walid Shoebat, one of the Three Stooges of the Christian right. They are a triumvirate of self-confessed former Muslim terrorists who supposedly saw the light, converted to Christianity and want to inform the world how evil Islam is.

The bio on Shoebat’s website claims:

For the record, my name is Walid Shoebat. I used to be a radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of Jihad until I converted to Christianity in 1994. As a member of the PLO I was involved in terror activity, and was imprisoned in Jerusalem for three weeks. In prison, I was recruited to plant a bomb in Bethlehem as a result of which, thank God, no one was injured. My mother was an American and my father a Palestinian Arab. My parents sent me in 1978 to the United States to study at Loop College in Chicago Illinois.

Instantly, by revealing that he is Palestinian and claiming to have been a member of the PLO, he gains credibility as a poacher turned gamekeeper. But it doesn’t take long to unravel his story.

Shoebat the Terrorist

From Counterpunch:
He describes openly his past crimes and his jailing by the Israeli authorities. He admits to stoning Jewish worshipers at the Kotel (the western wall), having “worked with Fatah bomb makers in Jerusalem,” and even going on a bombing mission to destroy a branch of Bank Leumi. Shoebat abandoned it after noticing that Palestinian children were nearby. He speaks of the time he and other rioters mauled an Israeli officer. They “clubbed and pounded his head with a nail-studded stick, until the officer became a bloody gore.”

From the Jerusalem Post:
When he was 16, says Walid Shoebat, he was recruited by a PLO operative by the name of Mahmoud al-Mughrabi to carry out an attack on a branch of Bank Leumi in Bethlehem. At six in the evening he was supposed to detonate a bomb in the doorway of the bank. But when he saw a group of Arab children playing nearby, he says, his conscience was pricked and he threw the bomb onto the roof of the bank instead, where it exploded causing no fatalities. However, Shoebat’s claim to have bombed Bank Leumi in Bethlehem is rejected by members of his family who still live in the area, and Bank Leumi says it has no record of such an attack ever taking place. Shoebat’s claim to have been a terrorist rests on his account of the purported bombing of Bank Leumi. But after checking its files, the bank said it had no record of an attack on its Bethlehem branch anywhere in the relevant 1977-79 period.

Shoebat told The Jerusalem Post that this could be because the bank building was robustly protected with steel and that the attack may have caused little damage. Asked whether word of the bombing made the news at the time, he said, “I don’t know. I didn’t read the papers because I was in hiding for the next three days.” (In 2004, he had told Britain’s Sunday Telegraph: “I was terribly relieved when I heard on the news later that evening that no one had been hurt or killed by my bomb.”) Shoebat could not immediately recall the year, or even the time of year, of the purported bombing when talking to the Post by phone from the US.

From the Huffington Post:

The claims of the three ex-terrorists about their exploits as Muslim terrorists have long been questioned by academics and terrorism experts who have found a plethora of unlikelihoods and outright impossibilities in their stories. The most obvious question, of course, is why, if their stories are true, haven’t these three self-proclaimed terrorists, who have been traveling the country for years admitting to numerous killings and other terrorist acts, not been deported or jailed. Well, apparently, even our government’s terrorist hunters don’t believe these guys. According to a New York Times article about the trio’s appearance at the Air Force Academy, “A spokesman for the F.B.I. said there were no warrants for their arrest.”

“The question is if the three were actually terrorists then why they weren’t jailed or deported? Robert Birach, an immigration law attorney in Detroit, says the men would have had to have disclosed their affiliation with the PLO on their applications to become U.S. citizens if what they claim is true. “Failure to list the affiliation on the citizenship application is enough to go back and open the file and charge them with fraud and perjury,” Birach said. “And now they are admitting to being former terrorists. So under the Real ID Act, that’s enough for their removal from the United States.”

From We Hold These Truths:

In 2004, a gullible BBC correspondent quoting Shoebat:

“My whole dream was to die as a shaheed [martyr].  I would open my shirt hoping to be shot- but the Israelis would never shoot at the body, so I never succeeded, he said.” 

But the Intifada (uprising) did not start until 4 or more years after the 16-year old Walid went to America.  Also his statement that Israelis “never shoot the body” can only have been written by a Zionist, for hospital records prove Palestinians suffer head wounds most often, followed by body shots.

BBC News:  “One day, in the middle of a riot, Walid was part of a group which snatched an Israeli soldier who was trying to quell the violence.  They beat him senseless and tried to lynch him, before he was rescued by troops and the group fled. Walid was eventually caught and imprisoned in the Muscovite Prison in Jerusalem, but was released after a few weeks. He returned to violence straight away, bombing an Israeli bank in Bethlehem.”

The idea that he was arrested, then turned loose, is also quite unlike Israel, where many youths have been held without charges in prison for years. It is a land where torture is approved by the Supreme Court, and anyone suspected of beating a soldier would probably never see the light of day.

Walid confirms that his mother was an American, not a Muslim, and he left Beit Sahour for the USA on her arm when he was only 16. Had he had a criminal record, as he claims, he would not have gotten out ofIsrael, nor into the USA.

Shoebat the Muslim

But an uncle and a cousin of Shoebat, who still live in Beit Sahur in the Bethlehem area, where Shoebat grew up, said that Shoebat’s education was rather mild ideologically, and that religion did not play a dominant role.

This civilian journalist spoke with one of Walid’s many Palestinian American relatives, Kamal Younis. Kamal had checked his facts with other relatives and every one of them agreed that, “Walid’s entire biography is a manufactured fabrication. His handlers have taken one point and have twisted it and built up a fictional story.” Kamal clued me in, “His bio claims that his grandfather was the Muslim Mukhtar (chieftain) of Beit Sahour-Bethlehem. It neglects to mention that Beit Sahour is adjacent to Bethlehem, not a part of Bethlehem and also ignores the fact that in Beit Sahour at that time there were eight tribes; two Muslim and six Christian. Walid’s grandfather was only the Mukhtar for one of the Muslim tribes. Walid’s bio claims his grandfather was a friend of Haj-Ameen Al-Husseni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and notorious friend of Adolf Hitler. Walid’s grandfather never even met him and was a peaceful man.

The NY Times:

“They also question how three middle-aged men who claim they were recruited as teenagers or younger could have been steeped in the violent religious ideology that only became prevalent in the late 1980s.”

It seems strange that Shoebat is so insistent on his jihadist past when the PLO wasn’t an Islamist movement, but a secular political and paramilitary organisation.

Shoebat the Christian

He claims to have converted after his then wife challenged him to find a ‘mistake’ in the Bible. He decided it was perfect, and saw the light. But he didn’t become just an everyday, moderate Christian, he went the whole hog, from alleged Muslim extremist to Christian Zionist.

Former friend and colleague Simon Altaf:

This man may be a convert but is not a convert from terrorism or an ex-terrorist background.  It is clear he embellished his testimony because he knew he was going to make money out of it.  His actions speak louder than words.  He was converted by his American Christian mother who told him about the saviour while she lived in Israel with the family.

From Counterpunch:

Taking the word of the Bible as literal, he subscribed to the view that “the Jews have the Biblical right to the Holy Land, Israel.” In his public campaign he not only defends Israel across the board, on every account, but espouses positions widely held as extreme. His ultimate expectation is that Jewish control of Israel-Palestine is essential for Armageddon. Then, rapture will come. The Messiah will destroy the enemies of Israel, but the “many countries who confess Jesus as their saviour will be amongst God’s people, called as his people, and will all personally know the Lord Jesus Christ.” In short, the Jews will be forced to accept Christ or perish in hell ­ a deeply and traditionally Anti-Semitic view. His goals are deadly. Clearly, he seeks to further polarize Palestinians and Jews with his extremist positions. As with the overall influence of Christian fundamentalism, his theological tenets make reconciliation in this conflict less likely. Peace forestalls the End of Times ­ the end of the World, which some Christian fundamentalists such as Shoebat look forward to enthusiastically. His personal and religious stake is in helping speed along Armageddon.

From Eileen Flemming:

Walid’s relatives aren’t the only one’s doubting his integrity, Rev. Alex Awad, president of the Council of Evangelical Churches in Palestine, has denied large portions of Walid’s spin also. In a letter answering allegations made by Shoebat, Awad shows problems with his timeline and his poor knowledge of the Christian leaders in Palestine. “We urge God’s people everywhere not to jump on this sensational bandwagon,” said Awad. “Christians are called by God to prayerfully use the gift of discernment.”

Walid’s brand of Christianity has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus who promised it is the peacemakers who are the children of God and not those that bomb, torture, starve or occupy others.

Walid’s brand of Christianity thrives on fear and Jesus said: “FEAR NOT! You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Walid’s brand of Christianity leaves behind all the non-negotiables for those who claim to be a Christian; which is you must forgive, bless and love your enemies.

Shoebat is closely connected to prominent evangelists Pat Robertson and Pastor John Hagee. His lectures at the Air Force Academies have been accused of being nothing more than evangelical proselytizing.

From the NY Times:

Members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group suing the federal government to combat what it calls creeping evangelism in the armed forces, said it was typical of the Air Force Academy to invite born-again Christians to address cadets on terrorism rather than experts who could teach students about the Middle East.

“This stuff going on at the academy today is part of the endemic evangelical infiltration that continues,” said David Antoon, a 1970 academy graduate and a foundation member.

The three men were invited to talk about being recruited and trained as terrorists, not religion, although one of them, Zak Anani, did tell students that converting to Christianity from Islam saved his life, said John Van Winkle, another spokesman for the academy.

Prof. Douglas Howard, who teaches the history of the modern Middle East at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.:

“It was just an old time gospel hour — ‘Jesus can change your life, he changed mine’. That is mixed in with ‘Watch out America, wake up America, the danger of Islam is here.’ ”

Shoebat the Hatemonger and Conspiracy Theorist

Richard Bartholemew:

He uses his Arabic background to promote a bizarre re-interpretation of the Book of Revelation which purports to prove that the Bible predicts a Muslim Anti-Christ.

(1) Shoebat explains why Obama is pro-choice: Of course, because there’s nothing better Islamists want to do than have Americans kill their own children, so it’s not a problem for him.

(2) Shoebat explains Islam’s plan for Obama: Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers. But they are able to defeat us by sneaking in their man.

From Media Matters:

Shoebat: “[I]f Islam is not the Antichrist system, why do you think the devil wants to put a ‘cultural Muslim’ in the White House?”

From the Huffington Post:

Our source had turned around after Shoebat’s speech and asked the woman in the chair behind them at the conference what she thought was the solution offered by Shoebat.

“Kill them…including the children…you heard him,” was the full response.

Shoebat’s Las Vegas speech was described by our source as “frightening.”

Shoebat has said that “Islam is not the religion of God — Islam is the devil.”

From Crooks & Liars:

According to religion writer Richard Bartholomew, “Shoebat is a pseudo-expert on terrorism, Islamic extremism, and Biblical prophecy, and he teaches that Obama is a secret Muslim and that the Bible has prophesised a Muslim anti-Christ.” This means for some apocalyptic Christians that Muslims then would be allies of Satan in the End Times battle between good and evil. This battle ends when Jesus returns and with a vengeful God kills all these deemed to be non-believers in Christianity. This bloody and bigoted version of apocalyptic prophesies is rejected and condemned by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and every major Protestant denomination.

The Walid Shoebat Foundation

The Jerusalem Post:

[T]he Walid Shoebat Foundation’s working process is less than transparent, with Shoebat’s claim that it is registered as a charity in the state of Pennsylvania being denied by the Pennsylvania State Attorney’s Office.

[…]

Visitors to Shoebat’s Internet site are encouraged to make a donation to his foundation to enable him to disseminate his message. However, a notice on the page states that for “security reasons,” the money will not be debited to his foundation, but rather to a company called Top Executive Media. The name Top Executive Media is used by a greetings card firm from Pennsylvania called Top Executive Greetings, a company with an annual turnover of $500,000. When one makes a donation through the Shoebat Internet site, the Web address changes to topexecutivegreetings.com/shoebat.

This seems to be the only active page for the company; its homepage is blank.

Asked by the Post whether the Walid Shoebat Foundation is a registered charity, Shoebat replied that it is registered in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania State Attorney’s office said it had no record of a charity registered under this name.

Questioned further, Shoebat said it was registered under a different name, but that he was not aware of the details, which are handled by his manager.

“I remain separate to the running of the charity so that I am not constrained by church rules,” he explained, adding that the organization’s connection to certain churches meant it would be difficult for him to speak to secular audiences if he became too involved in running it.

Dr. Joel Fishman, of the Allegany County Law Library in Pennsylvania, expressed doubts about this donation process. If the money were being given to a registered charity, the charity would have to make annual reports to the state and federal government on how it was being spent, he noted.

Shoebat on Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of Park 51

SHOEBAT: His support of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic jihad movement has been expressed by him in the Arabic language. His manifesto ha s been expressed by – in Al-Ghad newspaper, and hadielislam.com, in several news media. In fact, Americans should listen to this. He says that the trend toward Islamic law and justice begins by religious movements like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic resistance. This is a straight support for terrorism.

Fox News didn’t fact check Shoebat’s inflammatory accusation that Rauf preaches peace in the United States while announcing his “support for terrorism” in the Arabic press.

We asked Ahmad Moussalli, a widely quoted expert on Islamic movements and professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut, to read the Arabic sources Shoebat cited on August 18  and to evaluate his claim that they show “a straight support for terrorism” and for “Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic jihad movement.” Moussalli responded that Shoebat’s remarks are a “blatant misrepresentation of the denotation and connotation of Mr. Rauf’s statements in Hadielislam and Al-Ghad newspaper. Rauf never expressed his support for the three organizations.”

Omid Safi, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina and expert on Sufism, also reviewed the Arabic articles and concluded that “they do not show any support for terrorism.” Safi added that “the accusation of ‘Muslim double-speak’ is one of the common accusations used by Islamaphobes like Shoebat” and said: “I would simply suggest dismissing what comes out of his mouth as much as I would dismiss anything David Duke would have to say about the essential nature of Judaism.”

To summarise, Shoebat’s claims of being a radicalised Muslim jihadist have been scrutinised by several analysts with testimony from friends and family, and appear to be a work of fiction. Even a claim of being any sort of Muslim would seem to be highly debatable.  Shoebat’s brand of Christianity is an extreme, apocalyptic interpretation, which relies on Zionism and a bloody Middle Eastern end-of-times scenario to realise it’s prophecy.  He believes that the bible predicts a Muslim anti-Christ, and that killing Muslim children is permissible as it prevents future generations of potential enemies.  The fact that he and his cohorts are permitted to evangelise to American troops should be cause for great concern. Even if his life story was accurate, the sheer lunacy that fuels his rhetoric, and the bilious views he espouses about Muslims should be enough to convince anyone that he’s a dangerous extremist who hasn’t changed his spots.

Full articles containing the extracts used and more Shoebat madness can be found in the links below.

http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/9/28/13035/0736

http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/walid_shoebat_kamal_saleem_zacharia_anani/

http://www.islamophobiatoday.com/2010/11/21/chip-berlet-fanatics-defame-murdered-u-s-soldiers/
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080211_the_war_against_tolerance/
http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/7/27/174342.shtml

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/02/08/452610/-USAF-Pays-Fake-Terrorism-Experts-Speakers-To-Bash-Islam-

http://www.abrahamic-faith.com/False%20Christians/Walid.html

http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/12/walid-shoebat-kill-them-including-the-children/

http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/right-wing-nuts-obama-is-a-mooslim-convert-mooslims/

Speak And Let Speak

The acquittal of Geert Wilders in an Amsterdam court yesterday was a victory for free speech. It was also a victory for hate and hypocrisy. I don’t believe that any religion should be exempt from criticism in a modern democracy, and critics should be able to voice their concerns without fear of physical reprisals. But what Wilders produces is more than criticism, it crosses all boundaries of respect and strides into full blown hate mongering. Some might argue that freedom of speech should also allow us to express our dislikes without censorship. I’d go along with this, but there needs to be a crucial caveat in my opinion. If you’re going to take advantage of your right to free speech, what you say needs to be based on facts. Especially if the facts are unpleasant and controversial. Much of what Wilders says is unpleasant and controversial, but not all of it is rooted in the truth. His views may be offensive to many people, but he has a right to air them. I argue though that he should also have an obligation to justify these views with fact based evidence. If he thinks women who chose to wear the hijab should be taxed, that’s his right, but his reasoning needs to be sound otherwise he just looks like another Islamophobic bigot. When asked if he would extend the tax to Orthodox Christian head scarves, he said no. So already we can see a clear anti-Muslim bias. Also, calling it a ‘head-rag’  probably doesn’t help his case.

Other views he has expressed include comparing of the Qur’an to Mein Kampf, the view that Holland should halt immigration from all Muslim countries and Muslims living in Holland should be repatriated, that the possibility of Dutch cities becoming majority non-white is a bad thing, and he supports the occupation, theft of land, displacement and violence against Palestinians. These views probably don’t differ a great deal from any other far right group, including our beloved EDL, and as much as I disagree with them and will challenge them, I support their right to express them. Beyond the standard right wing, anti-immigration fare though there lies a more sinister and devious rhetoric that we’re unaccustomed to from British politicians, and is more akin to American Christian evangelists and Zionists. He specialises in the demonisation of Islam and Muslims in a manner which is inflammatory and provocative, offensive and insulting, and wholly misleading and dishonest. Here is a selection of quotes from Wilders:

Islam is not a religion… the Quran is a book that calls for hatred, that calls for violence, for murder, for terrorism, for war, and submission…We should also stop pretending that Islam is a religion…the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.”

“It is not a coincidence that every terroristic act, almost every terroristic act, aimed and based on this fascist book, the Koran, and this wrong ideology, Islam, unfortunately has been done by people from Islamic [background]“

(Completely false, and a claim I will put to bed in a future post)

“I don’t believe in a moderate Islam.  I don’t believe in what some people call a European Islam. I don’t think there will be [a moderate Islam] and if there will be, in time, it will be in two or three thousand years.”

“Madam Chairman, this country has an excise tax on petrol and diesel, it has parking permits and a dog tax, it has an airline ticket tax and has a packaging tax, so why not tax the headscarf? A Head Rag Tax.”

“The Quran asks, commands Muslims to kill non-Muslims.”

“The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed.”

“Muhammad was a warlord. In establishing Islam he preached violence, he preached the slaughter of non-Muslims.”

“Europe is beginning to look, slowly but gradually like Arabia.” (VERY slowly. There are approx. 45m Muslims in Europe, only 5m are Arabs. 9% of a Muslim population that accounts for 6% of the total.)

“We need a spirit of resistance, because resistance to evil is our moral duty.”

“The media call it an Arab Spring, I call it an Arab Winter. Islam and freedom, Islam and democracy are incompatible.”

The claim that there is no moderate Islam, and other accusations of violently homicidal tendencies inherent to Islam will be news to anyone who has read the extracts below in the Qur’an, which Wilders claims is not open to interpretation.

There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. [2:256] 

“And do not kill yourselves, for God has been merciful to you.” (4:29)

‘He who has killed one innocent soul, it is as if he has killed all humanity. And he who has saved one soul, it is as if he has saved all humanity . . .’ (Quran 5:32)

“…Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (al-An’am 6:151)

“Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law)” (al-Isra’ 17:33)

“Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God.” (Bukhari)

All accusations can be refuted at the drop of a hat. It’s scaremongering at it’s worst, and if it’s not hate speech I don’t know what is. His views and proposals are blatantly constructed to discriminate against one section of society. He endorses the overt targeting of Muslims for unequal treatment. He wants to ban the building of new Mosques, ban Madrassas, ban the Qur’an, introduce a licence for the hijab, ban Halal slaughter, ban Muslim immigration, repatriate existing Muslims, enforce assimilation to his idea of western culture, the list goes on. All of this based on a totally false and distorted image of Islam.

The irony of him being the leader of the Freedom Party seems lost on him. It appears that basic human rights of freedom of speech, worship, expression or any other kind isn’t extended to Muslims in his world. Not just Muslims either though. This is where his hypocrisy becomes laughable. Wilders supported the rights of a Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten to publish insulting cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, yet when a Dutch website hosted an illustration of Wilders manning a Nazi style concentration camp for Muslims, he called for their suppression and bullied them into removing it. He has also condemned criticism from opposition parties and demanded apologies for what he deems to be insults. He actually succeeded in getting a prominent philosopher banned from criticising his party in a University lecture. These double standards are fairly typical for far right groups who purport to champion free speech.

It’s tempting to imagine how much leeway would be given to Wilders if he was demonising Jews for example. Consider that he recently spoke at a Christian college in Toronto, while the same Canadian city’s council has unanimously voted to outlaw criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitic hate speech is quite rightly off limits, as it seems is pointing out the transgressions of an apartheid state, but blatant Islamophobia is apparently acceptable.

Unsurprisingly, Wilders supporters were jubilant at his acquittal. Not only is it a triumph for free speech, but indicates to them that comparing Islam to Nazism is “…acceptable within the context of the public debate.”

What will this mean for Muslims in Holland, across Europe and the West? A report from Belgium shows that Islamophobia is at an all time high there, while anti-Muslim attacks are on the rise in the UK and US, ranging from verbal abuse, to mosque vandalism and physical attacks. France and Switzerland have also introduced legislation that infringe on Muslims practicing their faith. This legal victory will no doubt fortify those who share his views, and I would venture that we can expect some attention seekers to attempt to capitalise on it.

Despite initially being dismayed at the decision, and angry at the reaction from the usual candidates, I’ve taken stock. I now wish to issue a challenge to the supposed free speech advocates on the far right. I accept and respect your right to speak your mind, no matter how hateful. Now that the precedent has been set, I expect you to abide by the same ethos. Don’t like what us liberals have to say? Tough. Don’t like whatever rubbish MAC are spouting? Deal with it. Don’t want to be called fascist? Prove you’re not. Freedom of speech works both ways. We all have the right to it. I also urge you to remember this. Challenging what you say isn’t stopping you, state your case but expect me to state mine. It’s how a debate works, if you have a valid case there shouldn’t be an issue. Shouting people down, smearing, insulting and abusing them doesn’t prove your point or win an argument, quite the opposite. If you want this country to be the free democracy you claim Muslims are trying to put an end to, speak and let speak.

EDL: Exploiting the Defenseless League

This photograph was taken at the Justice for Charlene event.

 

I usually take great satisfaction in writing my blog. Whether it’s exposing bigotry and lies, or debunking Islamophobic myths. Even when researching pretty unsavoury topics and material it’s always in the knowledge that the end result will be worthwhile. But this one is a bit different. I’ve been pontificating over what to call it, what conclusions to draw, whether it’s wise to give my opinion or just report known facts, and even whether to bother writing it up at all. The reasons for this are varied and I’ll come to them shortly. This post is to address the case of Charlene Downes. A teenage girl who is missing, presumed dead. No body has been found and no one has been convicted. Two men were charged with murder and disposal of Charlene’s body, but the case collapsed due to the police handling. As a result we have a grieving family without closure and men accused of a heinous crime walking free, still under intense suspicion but unable to clear their names. There are two groups of people not able to continue with their lives in peace due to the incompetence of the police. Had the case been handled more professionally we may be in a situation where we have murderers behind bars and a family with peace of mind and a sense of justice.

My reluctance to write this piece revolves around its connection with recent demonstrations and campaigns involving the English Defence League. They have adopted the case, with the blessings of the Downes family it must be said, and recently held a demonstration in Charlene’s hometown of Blackpool. The protest was held with the supposed purpose of highlighting the police handling and demanding the case be re-opened. If you’re not familiar with the case you may be asking why the EDL have chosen this particular missing person to campaign for. The clue might be found in the fact that the accused men are immigrants. Iyad Albattikhi, a Jordanian, who ran the Funny Boyz take-away and was accused of the murder, and Mohammad Raveshi from Iran, the landlord and accused of aiding with the disposal of Charlene’s body.

I’d like to make it known that before embarking on the research for this case, I informed EDL supporters and sympathisers via social networking sites that I would be blogging about this. I requested any information on what the EDL had done in real terms to achieve justice for Charlene. The response was underwhelming to say the least. The only answer I received was that they were giving the case publicity and giving moral support to the family. If there are any supporters reading this I urge you to read the entire post and leave comments if I have omitted any important information.

Eventhough there has been no mention of the accused being members of a particular faith group, the assumption is that they are Muslim. Considering their names and origins it’s a fair assumption, but with certain sections of the media so ready to demonise Muslims it’s strange that their faith hasn’t been mentioned once. There has been no indication that they attend a mosque or quotes from people from the Muslim community, which is par for the course in instances of ‘Muslim crimes’. They may well be Muslims in an ethnic or cultural sense but that’s as far as any assumption can stretch without evidence. Not that it really matters as any claims that Islam in any way condones or encourages such behaviour are extremely badly informed.

The adoption of this case came at around the same time there were high profile cases of pimping gangs of Pakistani origin in the North West and Midlands. This was highlighted by Jack Straw as a cultural problem, and gave rise to the now infamous ‘Muslamic Rape Gang’ meme. Also in the North West the EDL have identified a spate of hit and run incidents involving immigrants as ‘road jihad’ or attributed it to the laughable phenomenon of ‘sudden jihad syndrome’. Rather than view these as simply criminal activities, they have become part of the ‘Muslim problem’. In the case of Charlene Downes, the EDL very much see it as an extension of the ‘Muslim men preying on underage white girls’ theme.

The problem for me is that raising any doubt about the EDL’s motives gives them the opportunity to accuse me of siding with paedophiles, killers and rapists, which is their crude way of shutting down any considered debate. Doubting the guilt of the accused will be viewed as traitorous and tasteless. The fact that the Downes family have welcomed the support of the EDL will also make me look heartless and spiteful. If they are getting comfort from the EDL why intrude? Criticism from the likes of me is just sour grapes at the EDL actually getting good press isn’t it? But that’s exactly my reason for doing this. Despite the conflicting emotions, I keep getting the overwhelming feeling that I’m witnessing the cynical exploitation of a tragedy for publicity. Not just publicity, but also for profit and the furthering of their divisive agenda. I have also been hesitant due to the fact that I have three young daughters myself, and I can only imagine the extent of the pain Charlene’s parents have experienced. But it angers me too much to think that they are oblivious to the hidden agenda of the EDL and will ultimately be forgotten about when they decide to move on to another cause.

Before continuing with the Downes story I want to touch briefly on the issue of these alleged Pakistani grooming gangs. It was the Times that decided to approach this controversial angle but it’s reporting may have been slightly selective. Libby Brooks addressed this possibility in her Guardian article:

But what has not emerged is any consistent evidence to suggest that Pakistani Muslim men are uniquely and disproportionately involved in these crimes, nor that they are preying on white girls because they believe them to be legitimate sexual quarry, as is now being suggested.

The Times investigation is based around 56 men convicted in the Midlands and north of England since 1997, 50 from Muslim backgrounds. Granted, such prosecutions are notoriously difficult to sustain, but, nonetheless, this is a small sample used to evidence the “tidal wave” of offending referred to by unnamed police sources. Martin Narey, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, which has run projects in the areas concerned for many years, tells me that, while he is pleased to see open discussion of child sexual exploitation, he worries that “decent Pakistani men will now be looked at as potential child abusers”. He insists: “This is not just about Pakistani men, and not just about Asian men. And it is happening all over the country.”

Narey also refutes the allegation that Muslim men are grooming white girls because of cultural assumptions about their sexual availability, as girls from minority backgrounds have been similarly abused.

Thus no official data exists on the ethnic or religious background of perpetrators of this form of child abuse, and local charities have stated publicly that they do not consider it a race issue. But it is worth noting that, when asked by the Times to collate its recent work according to ethnicity, Engage – based in Blackburn and one of the largest multi-agency organisations working on this issue – found that in the past year that 80% of offenders were white. Most child-sex offenders in Britain are white males, usually acting alone. In a random sample of 269 individual cases in which the internet was used to lure and groom victims, more than 95 per cent of the convicted offenders were white men aged from 18 to 70.

They were labourers and petrol pump attendants, architects and university professors: the widest possible spectrum of white British society.

There is an ignoble tradition of racialising criminality in this country. But even those who do want further investigation into the apparent preponderance of Asian perpetrators tell me that this is not about cultural expectations regarding the sexual susceptibility of white females but rather about opportunity and vulnerability, especially of young people within the care system.

The efforts of the Times to stand up this investigation are certainly considerable: selectively quoting or misquoting some groups, and inventing a category of “on-street grooming” that does not exist in law and was not recognised by any of the agencies I spoke to. It is also worth asking how responsible it is to provide ammunition to the violent racist extremists already active in these areas on such flawed evidence.

Meanwhile, the sunlight of investigative inquiry has yet to shine on our legal system which, all agencies agree, fails to cater to the needs of children who – groomed into acquiescence by practised abusers of all creeds and colours – don’t present as the perfect victims our limited version of justice demands.

Unsurprisingly the EDL have used the Times article to say ‘I told you so’ about Muslims and an excuse to demonstrate in Oldham and hold a flash demo in Derby where they marched through a pedestrianised area chanting ‘Muslim paedos off our streets’. Adding further ammunition was a claim from a West Mercia Chief Inspector that:

“These girls are being passed around and used as meat. To stop this type of crime you need to start everyone talking about it but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor. No-one wants to stand up and say that Pakistani guys in some parts of the country are recruiting young white girls and passing them around their relatives for sex, but we need to stop being worried about the racial complication.”

He seems to be suggesting that this is a problem for the Pakistani community in particular, and the victims have been chosen on racial grounds. Not being Pakistani, a pimp or policeman in these areas I can’t possibly know how accurate this claim is. But the suggestion that Pakistanis are any more likely to commit this type of crime, and their community is any more likely to turn a blind eye than any other ethnicity or community seems a dubious one to me. To insinuate that this is not a matter of criminality but one of culture and race is dangerous and unwise in my opinion. Even if there was evidence to suggest the issue warranted investigation, it can be done without the glare of the mainstream media. It’s not an issue of political correctness or appeasement as the right wingers would say, but about addressing the matter sensitively, discreetly and in conjunction with the community in question. When this particular section of our society is under increasing scrutiny, discrimination and profiling, and with far right groups mobilising and acting on a frequent basis, this would surely be a more beneficial approach?

Back to Charlene Downes. She was 14 years old when she disappeared in 2003. She left her home to meet friends but failed to return home by the morning. The police were notified and the investigation began.

Julie Bindel from The Guardian:

“Charlene was last seen in the town centre hanging around the alleyway that runs between the shops on Talbot Road and Clifton Street, which is full of fast-food takeaway outlets. During the search, more than 3,000 people were interviewed. Early on in the investigation, police became aware that Charlene, and a number of other girls, had been targeted by abusers active in the town. It emerged that the girls had been swapping sex for food, cigarettes and affection. Police are certain that Charlene was sexually abused by one or more men, over a period of time before she went missing, and that her death (they advised her parents in 2005 that they were convinced their daughter had been murdered) is linked to the abuse.”

From The Times story:

“Charlene Downes and her friends called it “P*ki Alley”. When they were hungry, wanted cigarettes or alcohol, or needed top-up credit for their mobile phones, they knew where to go because you could find almost anything down the alleyway. For a price. What Lancashire Constabulary uncovered when Charlene went missing from home in 2003, however, was almost a factory production line of child abuse involving the systematic grooming and sexual exploitation of dozens of young girls by a closely linked group of men.

The force’s initial “problem scan” identified more than 60 local girls, the youngest aged 11 but most aged from 13 to 15, as being “exposed and vulnerable” to men operating from a cluster of “honey-pot” locations in the town centre, all takeaway food premises. Children, many from troubled homes or in the care system, had been befriended by older men who flattered their desire to be treated as adults, showering them with gifts and affection before using them for sex both inside and outside the takeaway outlets.

The scale of the criminality was so disturbing that one of Britain’s first multi-agency child sexual exploitation projects, Awaken, was swiftly established in Blackpool to target offenders and offer support to vulnerable girls. A decision seems to have been taken at an early stage that one aspect of the abuse made the police findings too sensitive to be revealed publicly. In 2007, an unpublished report by police and local authority representatives from Awaken stated: “Analysis showed that in relation to the takeaways, non-white adult males working alone or within friendship groups were principally perpetrating the exploitation.”

In Blackpool, many of the owners and workers in 11 “honey-pot” food premises identified by police were of Middle Eastern origin. Charlene knew several of them. A young woman who knew Charlene, and whose identity The Times has agreed to protect, was 13 when she first came into contact with several of Blackpool’s takeaway workers. She has not forgotten the initial allure.

“They were older than you and you thought they were your friends. It all seemed so glamorous and exciting and young girls were drawn into it: the flash cars, the money, the alcohol, free food, sometimes drugs. She named two men in particular. Both are still closely linked to separate food outlets in the town. One “was married with kids, had a really young English girlfriend on the side but still chased after other young girls.

“He was a filthy old man. He used to offer me drugs because he said they would loosen me up. He made my flesh crawl.”

The other man “would say some awful things about white girls” yet was happy to proposition “literally every young pretty girl who’d hit puberty that came into his shop.

“He had no respect for us, the way we dressed, the way we drank, how forward we were. It was as though white girls were asking for it. He’d say that all English girls were slags, unlike Muslim women who wore the hijab and walked five steps behind their husband.”

Police started a murder inquiry when David Cassidy, a former friend of Mr Albattikhi, said the accused’s brother had told him the schoolgirl had been strangled and chopped up.

The link between Charlene and the accused had been made and a covert operation was initiated.

Detectives later bugged both Mr Raveshi’s home and car with secret listening devices and claimed the defendants could be heard on the tapes discussing her murder, with references to eating her body and a burial place.

Miss Turner told the court she considered Charlene to be her best friend and often went to visit takeaway workers at an alleyway at the rear of Talbot Road. She said: “We went there between 5pm and 7pm quite a few times. “We used to get free food from the people who worked there. We also used to hang around the arcades too.” But when prompted by defence barrister, Ian Goldrein QC, about a statement she made in November 2003, she admitted she vaguely remembered saying Charlene used “to snog some of the takeaway owners” and gave them sexual favours in return for free food. Miss Turner also told the jury she and Miss Downes were friendly with a number of Asian men in the area, one of who was Albattikhi.

The Independent:

During the trial, the jury was played taped conversations in which Mr Albattikhi, who ran a takeaway restaurant in the seaside town, joked that he killed the girl, that she was “chopped up” and her body had “gone in the kebabs”. In another excerpt, he said: “I killed her, I killed a girl … I was just angry.” His co-accused was heard on the tapes saying: “There is nothing left of her. She was here, she died, there really is nothing.”

The jury failed to reach a verdict. A retrial was set for April 2008. However, while preparing for the second trial, senior police officers raised issues with the surveillance evidence, much of which had been obtained by a police informant, David Cassidy, who had worn a wire-tap device when speaking to Mr Albattikhi and Mr Raveshi.

The IPCC said that Lancashire Constabulary’s investigation was “handled poorly and unprofessionally” and that the evidence contained a “catalogue of errors which undermined the court case”. Seven detectives will be disciplined.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was notified, as was the IPCC. The second trial was abandoned when the CPS offered no evidence against the men. Mr Albattikhi and Mr Raveshi, who say they have never met Charlene, were released.

Yesterday, after an 18-month investigation, the IPCC revealed that the flaws in the evidence included the fact that much of the recorded tape and video evidence was not properly transcribed, that the officers working on the investigation were “inexperienced and untrained”and that the informant, Mr Cassidy, was not properly briefed and so therefore asked the suspects leading questions.

In his opening address to the jury last month, Tim Holroyde, for the prosecution, claimed that a witness had heard Jordanian-born Mr Albattikhi joke with fellow takeaway employees about how the teenager had been chopped up, and how her body “had gone into the kebabs”. Mr Albattikhi, of Blackpool, denies murdering Charlene while Mr Reveshi, also of Blackpool, denies disposing of her body.

Ian Goldrein, QC, for the defence of Mr Albattikhi, questioned the integrity of the tape recordings, which took Detective Sergeant Jan Beasant 2,400 hours to transcribe over a two-year period.

He said that neither of the transcripts read by the defendants’ lawyers included anything about bones, a mincing machine or blood.

Mr Goldrein asked the witness why he waited months after the conversation with Tariq before he told police. Mr Cassidy said, “Because I did not know if what was being said to me that night was true. I had to determine whether it was hearsay or gossip.”

Det Sgt Jan Beasant spent two years and around 2,500 hours listening to the contents of the tapes but such was the poor sound quality that much of the content was hard to decipher at the trial with sound experts and police disagreeing over what was actually said.

John Bromley-Davenport QC, defending Mr Raveshi, claimed Det Sgt Beasant was totally unqualified for the task of listening to the tapes and already knew a huge amount about the case.

Ian Goldrein QC, representing Mr Albattikhi, accused Mr Cassidy of telling a pack of lies and that his evidence was unreliable because he had a lengthy criminal record for dishonesty.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for 49 hours before they conceded they could not reach a verdict on either defendant.

On his release Mr Raveshi, who like Mr Albattikhi spent two-and-a-half years on remand in jail, said the case against him was ‘shameful’ and indicated he would sue police.

The tragedy has also taken its toll on the Downes family. A week after the trial collapsed, Karen Downes was arrested for stabbing her husband, Robert, during an argument. He did not press charges, saying he understood his wife lashed out because of grief and distress.

Last month, Charlene’s older sister Emma, 24, went on trial for racially assaulting Iyad Albattikhi’s brother, Tariq, at a nightclub. The charge was dropped when she admitted a lesser charge of common assault, accepting she slapped the man once. She was stopped from doing so a second time when he grabbed her hand and told her: “It’s got nothing to do with me.”

Taking all of the above into consideration, all that can be reliably said is that Charlene and her friends had become involved with older men who worked in the various take-aways, been manipulated and taken advantage of, and now she’s missing presumed dead. It can’t be said for certain that any of the accused were involved in this activity. It is also pretty certain that fast food workers were supplying teenage girls with alcohol, drugs, food and other goods in return for sexual favours. Again, no hard evidence has been secured implicating the accused in this behaviour. Although the Times did report:

At the time of his trial Mr Albattikhi also faced a charge of raping a drunken young woman. The charge was subsequently dropped. Six young female witnesses appeared before the court to describe separate incidents of alleged indecent behaviour towards them. Two made claims against Mr Albattikhi and four against Mr Raveshi. In total, the jury was told of ten separate incidents involving Mr Raveshi and girls aged from 13 to 15. The prosecution claimed that he had been “grooming these girls, touching them, buying them gifts, to see how far he could get with them”. Girls spoke of Charlene “snogging some of the takeaway owners” in an alleyway to get free food, kissing Asian workers for free chips and often getting into cars outside the takeaways. The two defendants, who denied any knowledge of Charlene, also rejected every claim made against them by the witnesses.

You can argue that there is no smoke without fire, but without sufficient evidence no conviction can be made. Another fact is that the handling of the investigation was such that one officer will faced a disciplinary hearing, one has received a written warning and five will be given words of advice. Two other detectives retired before the investigation was completed and so cannot now be dealt with by the IPCC. A 10th, who has also retired but is still employed in a civilian capacity, will have his position considered. As a result the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that covert surveillance evidence gathered against the two main suspects in the case was flawed. This means that the evidence can never be submitted in court. To add insult to injury both defendants were awarded £250,000 in compensation.

But this isn’t where Charlene’s story begins, nor is it the full story of Blackpool.

Charlene was from a loving family, but, as social services noted prior to her going missing, a chaotic one. At the time that Charlene disappeared, a homeless man whom a family member had invited to stay was revealed to be a sex offender against young children. Her daughter “fell in with the wrong crowd”, whom she banned from the house. Eventually, Charlene was excluded from school for truanting. “When she was 13 she started going off the rails. I don’t know why.”

Charlene, was the third of four children born to Robert and Karen Downes. The family moved to Blackpool from the West Midlands in 1999, when she was 10. A serious case review would later reveal that the family had been known to statutory and voluntary agencies in both Coventry and Walsall, where “there were continued child protection concerns”.

In Blackpool, reports were logged “of violent incidents in the home, lack of adequate supervision… and some incidents… very suggestive of a risk… of sexual exploitation”. Charlene could have been helped, the review suggested, but a plan “to commence care proceedings should there be a continued lack of improvement to the quality and effectiveness of [her] parenting was lost sight of”. Frontline care staff, who displayed “a sense of helplessness and inability to act decisively”, also “lacked sufficient awareness of the risk… particularly in the area of exposure to sexual exploitation”.

Due to the vagueness of the nature of risk that Charlene was being exposed to, it would be wrong to speculate, and in no way am I suggesting that her parents were responsible. But the fact that she was exposed to an individual who was a child sex offender and she was known to be at continued risk should hopefully have been explored and investigated fully prior to the surveillance of Albattikhi and Raveshi. 

Regarding Blackpool itself:

There is also a more disturbing sub-culture alive in the town, exposed after the murder in 2003 of 14-year-old Charlene Downes who vanished after meeting friends in a bar. Her body was never found. Blackpool is home to about 800 sex offenders, proportionately more than anywhere else in the country, according to local police. Det Insp Tony Baxter says they come to prey on children and runaways – who often flee to Blackpool – knowing they can hide in cheap B&Bs, find cash-in-hand work and melt into the crowds during busy periods.

Seaside towns have long been recognised as something of a magnet for child sex offenders and Blackpool is not alone in attracting male, usually white, loners who prowl its amusement arcades, bars and takeaways to target children of both sexes.

Her sad story was of a child whose home life was so chaotic that the night-time streets, no matter how dangerous, held the promise of escape, excitement and companionship.

Blackpool has the highest level of alcohol-related mortality in England, levels of domestic violence at twice the national average and the highest proportion of heroin and crack addicts in northwest England. There are pockets of severe deprivation.

The Guardian:

In the search for Charlene, the police uncovered what was a barely hidden secret – endemic child sexual abuse and prostitution in the seaside town famous for its 1960s image of “kiss me quick” hats and sticks of rock. The Blackpool of childhood holidays past is still recognisable, but it has a dark underbelly of sexual exploitation. Before Charlene’s disappearance, this epidemic in Blackpool has been hidden, disguised by the party atmosphere and happy-looking kids with bucket and spades on the beach. “There have always been shocking levels of sexual abuse of children in this town,” says Sue McGurty, coordinator of Mothers of Sexually Abused Children (Mosac), “but before Charlene Downes went missing it was completely swept under the carpet.”

Seasonal employment in the town’s tourist industry and the large stock of low-cost, privately rented accommodation mean there is a constant flow of people moving into and out of Blackpool. Poverty levels are high: Blackpool is the 12th poorest area in the country. The number of children on Blackpool’s child protection register who are vulnerable to, or experiencing, sexual abuse is, at 16%, almost twice the national average, as is the number of children living in care homes or foster families. It is one of the only places in the country where girls do worse at school than boys. The suicide rate among the 15 to 19 age group in Blackpool is eight times higher than the UK average. Underage and unprotected sex is rife. HIV cases rose by 50% between 2001 and 2004; one in 12 girls is pregnant before the age of 18. A report published around the time of Charlene’s disappearance put this down to the resort’s “carnivalistic and hedonistic atmosphere”.

Children are attracted to the bright lights of Blackpool, so the town receives its fair share of runaways. And there are always plenty of sexual predators waiting for them to arrive, knowing they will be cold, hungry and homeless; probably already victims of abuse. On average, two more young children are found to be homeless in Blackpool every month.

There are approximately 800 convicted high-risk sex offenders living in Blackpool. Many choose to move there after their release from prison. “Why do so many child abusers want to live in Blackpool?” asks Wendy Shepherd from children’s charity Barnardos. “Alongside the increase in child sexual exploitation there is a marked increase in the sex industry in Blackpool, and sex tourism masquerading as stag weekends. Questions need to be asked about the links.”

There is some evidence that disproportionate numbers of men from migrant communities are involved in the abuse of girls. Opportunism is one possible explanation, according to a police officer who worked on missing children cases. “A number of them work illegally in the takeaways, which is where a lot of the vulnerable girls either work for pocket money, or hang out.”

Given Charlene’s history and vulnerability, it appears that tragically, Blackpool was the worst possible place to relocate to. To sum up my opinion on the case itself, the only thing I can say for certain is that the local constabulary have failed the Downes family badly. Regarding the guilt of the accused it’s impossible to say. The evidence and witness on which the case hinged were found to be completely unreliable, and any further evidence has not been heard due to this. Again, this is a result of the police handling. Should the case be re-opened? I don’t know the legal system well enough to say whether this is possible. New evidence would be needed to put the accused back on trial and unless there is a fresh investigation this won’t happen. I would like the case to be re-opened for the sake of the family and the accused. Until these men are found innocent or guilty in a court of law the lives of Charlene’s family and the two men are in limbo. One party living in perpetual grief the other stigmatised and living under suspicion for the rest of their lives.

As far as the EDL are concerned these men are guilty, and they may well be, the investigation being so flawed we don’t know. By selecting the incriminating ‘evidence’ and disregarding its unreliability and the verdict itself, they have reached their own decision on the guilt of the accused. Would they be quite so concerned if the accused were white Britons? Considering the EDL is a single issue organisation that target Muslims, my guess is no. An estimated 140,000 children go missing in the UK each year, many stay missing. A brief glance at the Missing Kids website will show you that Charlene Downes isn’t the only unsolved case of this nature. There’s no doubt in my mind that the EDL have chosen this particular case to further their cause and present themselves as a compassionate organisation. They have exploited vulnerable and desperate people and are misleading them. They will argue that they are giving the case publicity and bringing it back to the attention of the mainstream media. Unfortunately the violent reputation and unpleasant rhetoric of the EDL means that any publicity the case gets is going to be viewed with suspicion due to the group’s agenda and membership. No amount of protests will uncover new evidence, and with each protest costing the local police £100,000’s their actions are counter productive if anything.

I sincerely believe that there are a number of people within the EDL that think they are doing the right thing, and their intentions are genuine. But I also think they are being emotionally blackmailed and exploited by the leadership in the same manner the Downes family are. There is also a wealth of evidence available in the screenshots by ‘everything_edl’ linked below to show that a great deal of EDL members viewed the Blackpool demo as an opportunity for heavy drinking, settling personal vendettas and targeting the local Muslim community. Any concern for the Downes family was certainly secondary for a large number of supporters, and behaving with class and dignity was not on the agenda at all. If any proof is needed that this case has been used to make profit for the EDL there are also screenshots and analysis by ‘NototheEDL’ linked below. I have also included a link to the Casuals United shop which has been selling Charlene Downes memorial badges. They are priced at £2.99 with 50p going towards an as yet undecided memorial for Charlene. That’s right, only 25% goes to the bereaved family, the remainder stays within the EDL, a non-profit organisation. If every Blackpool attendee bought a badge that would mean a maximum of a not inconsiderable £1,500 for the family, but a whopping £4,500 for the EDL/Casuals Utd. Will this money be spent on lobbying, securing legal representation, a high-profile publicity campaign for Charlene or Stone Island clobber, court cases and class A narcotics for the EDL leadership? Call me a cynic but I know what my instinct is telling me.

http://casualsunited.webs.com/charlenedownesbadges.htm

http://twitpic.com/photos/NototheEDL

http://twitpic.com/54kvge

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As an aside. The Blackpool demo was relatively peaceful. See below for details of arrests. Don’t ask me why a human rights organisation member would need to carry an offensive weapon though.

Among the 10 arrested were three men from Merseyside – aged 27, 35 and 37 – who were detained on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in a public place, along with a 26-year-old man from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

A 29-year-old man, from Blackburn, and a 36-year-old man, from Darwen, were arrested by British Transport Police for public order offences.

A 21-year-old man from Gateshead was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon.

Crashing to Conclusions

Yet again the anti-Muslim blogosphere was awash with reports of creeping sharia yesterday. One story was of a Ukrainian girl who was tragically murdered in the Crimea region of the country. The killing was widely described as a stoning and attributed to sharia law in headlines. The Telegraph and Daily Mail were the first UK papers to jump on this story.

The Mail opened with:

“A teenage Muslim girl was stoned to death under ‘Sharia law’ after taking part in a beauty contest in Ukraine.”

and report:

“Police have opened a murder investigation and are looking into claims that three Muslim youths killed her, claiming her death was justified under Islam.

The Telegraph went with:

“Muslim teenage beauty queen ‘stoned to death’.”

To be fair to the Telegraph, their story go on to explain the conflicting reports regarding the murder.

“There were conflicting reports of how and why she was murdered. Some local newspapers claimed she had been stoned to death by hardline Muslims upset by her participation in the beauty contest and that police had three suspects in their sights.

But the police said her killing had nothing to do with sectarian violence and that the girl had been killed by a psychologically troubled classmate who had given her a lift on his moped and then robbed and possibly raped her before battering her to death with a rock.

“A student did it, killing his classmate. There is no other underlying reason, neither religious nor linked with inter-ethnic conflicts,” said Sergei Reznikov, a senior policeman involved in the case.

The area is home to more than 250,000 Muslim Crimean Tatars, and although there has been mob violence in the past sparked by perceived historical injustices, cases of Sharia punishment being meted out by stoning are unheard of.

Police said the main suspect, 16-year-old Bihal Gaziev, had a long history of mental health problems and was already in custody. He is understood to have confessed amid reports from his village suggesting he had developed an unhealthy and unrequited obsession with Miss Koren.”

Unfortunately, the headlines already say everything the Islamophobes want to hear, and the comments on the Mail article attest to the fact that most readers have neglected to read the full story. The usual suspects have also been quick to hijack this tragedy to further their anti-Muslim agenda.

Ignoring the fact that this murder was not only extrajudicial, but the punishment of stoning to death is not prescribed for anything resembling whatever this girl was supposed to have been guilty of in the Qur’an or Hadith. Had these news outlets resisted the knee jerk reaction and let the dust settle to discover the facts, they would probably not even have run the story. As much as three days ago there were Ukrainian reports available explaining the circumstances fully.

Was she ‘stoned to death’? Not in the sense one would consider an ‘Islamic’ stoning. She was killed by a blow from a blunt object, possibly a stone.

Was the murder due to her being a Muslimah acting immodestly? Firstly her name, Katya Koren, is not an Islamic name, and all reports from the Ukraine state that she was an Orthodox Christian. So the claim that she was Muslim appear to be totally false.

In that case it was a Muslim killing an immoral infidel? It doesn’t look like this was the case either. Bilyal Gaziev is a Russian who was orphaned and adopted by a mixed Ukrainian/Tartar couple as a 2 month old baby. His father is Muslim and his mother a Slavic Orthodox Christian. He was circumcised according to Islamic tradition and was technically a Muslim through patriarchal precedence. At 6 years old though, he asked to follow his mothers faith and was baptised as a Christian. Note that neither he or his parents were punished for apostasy. It looks therefore as though he wasn’t even a practicing Muslim at any point in his life. Reports suggest that his father was largely secular and wasn’t a regular mosque attendee.

It has also been revealed that he has been under psychiatric supervision since receiving a head injury at birth. Reports claim that Gaziev had developed a deeply “unhealthy” and “unrequited obsession” with Koren and lashed out when his advances were rejected. In some reports he claims to have fulfilled ‘sharia’, in others he is only able to explain that he just ‘wanted to kill her’.  The police psychiatrist described him as ‘a real wolf, the beast’.

To summarise, this murder has absolutely nothing connecting it to Islam other than it being the religion the killers adoptive father was born into. This isn’t the first, or will it be the last time the Islamophobes make assumptions and jump to the wrong conclusions, and as per usual they will either ignore the truth or spin it to suit their narrative. How many other inaccurate stories have fanned the flames of bigotry when there has been little smoke, let alone fire? I’ve copied an extract of a recent blog post below for starters:

Well there was that time when a series of bomb attacks hit India in 2007 & 2008. Without hesitation or a shred of evidence, Spencer claimed it was the work of a Bangladeshi jihadist group. Lo and behold, it then transpires that the attacks were carried out by a Hindu group, with no retraction or correction on Jihadwatch.

Then there was the case of the Muslim terrorist on a Maltese flight last year, who was praying in the aisle with a suspect packageExcept it turns out he was a Christian. A West Indian, dreadlocked Christian with a funny accent, but a Christian all the same. This particular story was deleted from Jihadwatch.

What about the infamous Gaza mass child bride extravaganza? Who could forget that? A field day for Islamophobes and Zionists. A photograph emerged in which numerous grooms were accompanied by primary school age girls dressed as brides. You can imagine the headlines. Yet again, this myth was busted by someone who was actually present. The young girls were the cousins and nieces of the grooms. But hey, they’re Muslims, you wouldn’t put it past them would you?

There’s the fact that Spencer uses a bogus translator to manipulate Arabic texts to suit his agenda. In one instance he reported a Fatwa giving Muslims permission to have sex with pre-pubescent girls, when in fact the true translation showed that the Fatwa was intended to do the exact opposite. The full read is absolutely ‘you couldn’t make it up’, facepalm material.

There are volumes upon volumes of work, comprehensively debunking Spencer’s dishonesty. Here is a start.

Robert Spencer and the disappearing articles

Robert Spencer’s “Scholarly” Credentials

On Spencer’s Credentials and Methodology

Understanding Jihad – Answers to Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)

“Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization – Five part series debunking Spencer’s written work.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Robert Spencer – A huge resource of responses and rebuttals of Spencer’s statements.

More on this here:

http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/05/katya-koren-ukrainian-beauty-queen-killed-by-disturbed-classmate-not-sharia-law/comment-page-1/#comment-76206

http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/6/1/muslim-girl-stoned-to-death-under-sharia-law-claims-daily-ma.html

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fkp.ua%2Fdaily%2F280511%2F282578%2F

Fundamentally Wrong

Fundamentalist, militant, radical, extremist. All words commonly applied to Islam and Muslims to describe the element involved in carrying out, encouraging or condoning terrorist or criminal activities. I have issues with some of these descriptions. We often hear the likes of Stephen Lennon claiming that the EDL are at war with fundamental Islam, or terrorists described as Muslim fundamentalists. To me, this just misses the point by such a huge margin and displays such ignorance that it can’t be ignored.

fun•da•men•tal [fuhn-duh-men-tl]

–adjective

1. serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.

2. of, pertaining to, or affecting the foundation or basis: a fundamental revision.

3. being an original or primary source: a fundamental idea.

–noun

5. a basic principle, rule, law, or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part: to master the fundamentals of a trade.

Synonyms – essential, original, primary.

Using the word fundamental to describe the violent jihadist outlook of terrorists, is quite blatantly insinuating that Islam in its original 7th century incarnation was violent, hostile and barbaric. Anyone who has studied Islam or the history of the Arab world will know how this perception is completely at odds with the truth.

The word Islam is a verbal noun which originates from the trilateral root ‘S-L-M’ (Shin-Lamedh-Mem) which translates as ‘whole-safe-intact’, and is derived from the verb ‘aslama’ which means ‘to give up’, ‘to desert’ or ‘to surrender’. Its religious meaning in the simplest term is ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’, or more poetically ‘entrusting one’s wholeness to another’ namely God. Another word derived from the same root is ‘Salaam’ which means ‘Peace’. ‘Muslim’ is the participle of the same verb of which Islam is the infinitive, and means ‘one who submits’.

It is also important to note that Muhammad was encouraging submission to Allah which is a contraction of the Arabic definite article al- “the” and ‘ilāh “deity, god” to al-lāh meaning “the [sole] deity, God”. So rather than claiming to bring revelations from a new deity named Allah, Muhammad was simply using the Arabic for the God already worshipped by Christians and Jews. For one to devote one’s life to the worship and adherence to the commandments of Allah (become a Muslim), one would need to accept that the Qur’an is the final word of God as revealed to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel. Naturally, as a prophet of God, Muhammad lived his life according to the message of God and encouraged others to follow his example. It’s logical to assume therefore that the message of the Qur’an, the life of Muhammad and the earliest examples of life under Islam are an accurate indication of the fundamentals of the faith.

Historians, scholars and biographers are quite unanimous in the opinion that the advent of Islam was a blessing for Arabia, and the deeds and words of Muhammad revolutionised Arabian society.

Muhammad approved and exhorted certain aspects of the Arab pre-Islamic tradition, such as the care for one’s near kin, for widows, orphans, and others in need and for the establishment of justice.

William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad was both a social and moral reformer. He asserts that Muhammad created a “new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. By taking what was best in the morality of the nomad and adapting it for settled communities, he established a religious and social framework for the life of many races of men.”

Bernard Lewis writes about the significance of Muhammad’s achievements:

“He had achieved a great deal. To the pagan peoples of western Arabia he had brought a new religion which, with its monotheism and its ethical doctrines, stood on an incomparably higher level than the paganism it replaced. He had provided that religion with a revelation which was to become in the centuries to follow the guide to thought and count of countless millions of Believers.

According to Lewis, Islam “from the first denounced aristocratic privilege, rejected hierarchy, and adopted a formula of the career open to the talents.”

Slavery

According to Jonathan Brockopp, professor of History and Religious Studies, the idea of using alms for the manumission of slaves appears to be unique to the Qur’an. Brockopp adds that: “Other cultures limit a master’s right to harm a slave but few exhort masters to treat their slaves kindly, and the placement of slaves in the same category as other weak members of society who deserve protection is unknown outside the Qur’an. The unique contribution of the Qur’an, then, is to be found in its emphasis on the place of slaves in society and society’s responsibility toward the slave, perhaps the most progressive legislation on slavery in its time.”

The Islamic prophet Muhammad encouraged manumission of slaves, even if one had to purchase them first. On many occasions, Muhammad’s companions, at his direction, freed slaves in abundance. Muhammad personally freed 63 slaves, and his wife Aisha freed 67. In total his household and friends freed 39,237 slaves.

Women

The Oxford Dictionary of Islam states that the general improvement of the status of Arab women included prohibition of female infanticide, and recognizing women’s full personhood.

William Montgomery Watt: “At the time Islam began, the conditions of women were terrible – they had no right to own property, were supposed to be the property of the man, and if the man died everything went to his sons.” Muhammad, however, by “instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education and divorce, gave women certain basic safeguards.”

Majid Khadduri writes that under the Arabian pre-Islamic law of status, women had virtually no rights. Sharia (Islamic law), however, provided women with a number of rights.

John Esposito states that the reforms affected marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Women were not accorded with such legal status in other cultures, including the West, until centuries later.

Nancy Gallagher, Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures, Infanticide and Abandonment of Female Children: According to some scholars, Muhammad’s condemnation of infanticide was the key aspect of his attempts to raise the status of women.

Maya Shatzmiller (1994), Labour in the Medieval Islamic World: The labor force in the Caliphate were employed from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, while both men and women were involved in diverse occupations and economic activities. Women were employed in a wide range of commercial activities and diverse occupations in the primary sector (as farmers, for example), secondary sector (as construction workers, dyers, spinners, etc.) and tertiary sector (as investors, doctors, nurses, presidents of guilds, brokers, peddlers, lenders, scholars, etc.). Muslim women also held a monopoly over certain branches of the textile industry, the largest and most specialized and market-oriented industry at the time, in occupations such as spinning, dyeing, and embroidery. In comparison, female property rights and wage labour were relatively uncommon in Europe until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jamal Badawi, The status of women in Islam: Women’s rights in the Qur’an are based around the marriage contract. A woman, according to Islamic tradition, does not have to give her pre-marriage possessions to her husband and receives a mahr (dowery) which she is allowed to keep.

Dr. Jamal A. Badawi: The position of women in Islam: In Islam, in some circumstances, a woman can initiate a divorce. According to Sharia Law, a woman can file a case in the courts for a divorce in a process called “Khal’a”, meaning “Break up”. However, under most Islamic schools of jurisprudence, both partners must unanimously agree to the divorce in order for it to be granted. To prevent irrational decisions and for the sake of the family’s stability, Islam enjoins that both parties observe a waiting period (of roughly three months) before the divorce is finalized.

Children

The Qur’an rejected the pre-Islamic idea of children as their fathers’ property and abolished the pre-Islamic custom of adoption.

Welfare

Sociologist Robert N. Bellah (Beyond Belief) argues that Islam in its 7th century origins was, for its time and place, “remarkably modern…in the high degree of commitment, involvement, and participation expected from the rank-and-file members of the community.”

The concepts of welfare and pension were introduced in early Islamic law as forms of Zakat (charity), one of the Five Pillars of Islam, under the Rashidun caliph Umar in the 7th century. This practice continued well into the Abbasid era, as seen under Al-Ma’mun’s rule in the 8th century, for example. The taxes (including Zakat and Jizya) collected in the treasury of an Islamic government were used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled.

Islam reduced the devastating effect of blood feuds, which was common among Arabs, by encouraging compensation in money rather than blood. In case the aggrieved party insisted on blood, unlike the pre-Islamic Arab tradition in which any male relative could be slain, only the culprit himself could be executed.

The Cambridge History of Islam states that the nomadic structure of pre-Islamic Arabia had the serious moral problem of the care of the poor and the unfortunate. “Not merely did the Qur’an urge men to show care and concern for the needy, but in its teaching about the Last day it asserted the existence of a sanction applicable to men as individuals in matters where their selfishness was no longer restrained by nomadic ideas of dishonour.”

Islam teaches support for the poor and the oppressed. In an effort to protect and help the poor and orphans, regular almsgiving — zakat — was made obligatory for Muslims. This regular alms-giving developed into a form of income tax to be used exclusively for welfare.

Sometime after 622 Muhammad drafted the Constitution of Medina. It constituted a formal agreement between Muhammad and all of the significant tribes and families of Yathrib (later known as Medina), including Muslims, Jews, Christians and pagans. The document was drawn up with the explicit concern of bringing to an end the bitter inter tribal fighting between the clans of the Aws and Khazraj within Medina. To this effect it instituted a number of rights and responsibilities for the Muslim, Jewish, Christian and pagan communities of Medina bringing them within the fold of one community.

The Constitution established: the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a haram or sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, a judicial system for resolving disputes, and also regulated the paying of blood money.

Hisham Ramadan: Understanding Islamic Law: From Classical to Contemporary: The Medina Constitution also instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups living as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture.

Welch in Encyclopedia of Islam states: “The constitution reveals his Muhammad’s great diplomatic skills, for it allows the ideal that he cherished of an ummah (community) based clearly on a religious outlook to sink temporarily into the background and is shaped essentially by practical considerations.”

The Basic Principles of Sharia

Respect for Divine RevelationClassical Islamic scholars interpret this to require freedom of religion, which means that each human has the right freely to seek truth.

Respect for the Human Person and LifeThis principle provides guidelines for what in modern parlance is called the doctrine of just war.

Respect for Family and Communityat every level all the way to the community of humankind as an important expression of the person.

Respect for the Environmentconcerns the relative priorities in protecting the environment versus protecting the other essential purposes of human life.

Respect for Economic JusticeThis requires respect for the rights of private property in the means of production, which is a universal human right of every human being

Respect for Political Justiceincluding the concept that economic democracy is a precondition for the political democracy of representative government.

Respect for Human DignityThis principle states that the most important requirement for individual human dignity is gender equity. In traditional Islamic thought, freedom and equality are not ultimate ends but essential means to pursue the higher purposes inherent in the divine design of the Creator for every person.

Respect for KnowledgeThe last universal or essential purpose at the root of Islamic jurisprudence is respect for knowledge. This can be sustained only by observance of the first seven principles and also is essential to each of them.

The second-order principles of this maqsad are freedom of thought, press, and assembly so that all persons can fulfil their purpose to seek knowledge wherever they can find it.

To summarise:

The word Islam has the same origin as the word for peace. Islam through Muhammad improved life for women, children and slaves. He reformed womens rights in marriage, divorce and inheritance, outlawed infanticide and encouraged and practiced the emancipation of slaves. He introduced the concept of welfare and social security through a tax system to benefit the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. He ended the blood feuds by introducing financial compensation in it’s place. He ended the constant battles in Medina by instigating a constitution that ensured the security of the community, religious freedoms, the barring of all violence and weapons, the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, and a judicial system for resolving disputes. His revelations and example were also the cornerstone of the basic principles of Sharia which stand up to scrutiny as a precursor to modern human rights guidelines.

These are examples of the effect that the fundamentals of Islam had on the Arab world. The basic, pure, uncorrupted principles at the core of Islam. The likes of the EDL attempt to evade accusations of discrimination by claiming they’re not against Islam, only the barbaric 7th century version practiced by extremists. They see cruel, inhumane and discriminatory acts being committed in developing or third world countries and assume their form of Islam is less evolved and therefore closer to the original version. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Poverty, lack of education and oppression means that a huge number of these people have never even owned or read the Qur’an. They are at the mercy of conservative clerics, corrupt authorities and Taliban style militias who use their own distorted versions of Islam and political views to subjugate and manipulate the public. The ideology espoused by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has deviated so far from the principles and morality of Islam that it ceases to be Islamic. In fact it could be argued quite convincingly that their motives are entirely political, and religion is only used dishonestly to justify their actions.

I want to have a look at the other adjectives that are often used to describe Muslims.

Radical – deviating by extremes, extremist, fanatical, rebellious, revolutionary.

Militant – belligerent, hostile, barbaric, aggressive, offensive.

Extreme – beyond reason and convention, fanatical, irrational, rabid, unreasonable.

How can someone adhereing to the fundamentals also be rebellious and beyond convention? How can someone follow the original theology but also deviate by extremes? Islam forbids aggression and excess and encourages moderation, even in religion.

‘We have made you a nation justly balanced’ (2:143)

‘Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries’ (Musnad of Abu Ya’la).

Muhammad once said to his close Companion Abdullah ibn ‘Amr: ‘Have I heard tight that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?’ Abdullah replied, ‘Yes, 0 Messenger of God: The Prophet said, ‘Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you (Bukhari, Muslim).

Islam only permits fighting in self defence, and commands to cease if the opponent surrenders.

Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors.

But if they cease, God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.

If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear (the punishment of) God, and know that God is with those who restrain themselves.

2:190-194

“If you kill one person unjustly it is as if you killed the whole humanity, and if you saved once person it is as if you saved the whole humanity.” (Quran Surah 5 Verse No 32)

Therefore a militant form of Islam which encourages hostility, aggression and barbarism is a departure from the fundamentals and un-Islamic. Just as Christians claim that someone acting in an un-Christian manner is by defenition no longer a Christian, the same must apply to Muslims. It may be a trivial point. It’s not going to stop extremists being extremists. But I thinks it’s crucial in changing the perception of Islam and understanding the situation. The belief that the problem with Islamic extremism is a dogmatic adherence to a barbaric 7th century religion is common even among non-Islamophobes. But it is clearly not true. The need for Islamophobes to make the link between Islam and crimes committed by its adherents means that we need to be clear on the these facts to be able to counter their claims. The best way I can think of putting it, even as an atheist, is by quoting Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) when he said that the problem isn’t too much Islam but too little.

EDL: Educating Dhimmi Liberals


Apparently the EDL are trying to educate us. As well as claiming to be a street army defending our nations values, culture, children and women and a human rights organisation, they are also providing an educational function. They want to teach us about the dangers of Islam. That’s right, this largely white, Anglo-Saxon, culturally Christian organisation wants to educate us about the evil message of the Qur’an. Forget that Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have been studying and interpreting the holy book for over a thousand years and are still debating and disagreeing. Forget that varying schools of thought have been developed over the centuries not only into Sunni and Shi’a Islam but into Ahmadiyya and Kharijite, and further branched into Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanafi, Twelver, Ismaili, Zaidiyyah, Alawi & Alevi. There was the development of Sufism and its numerous branches. Then, of course there are the ultra conservative Salafi or Wahabis. The list goes on. Forget all of that, the football hooligans, binge drinkers, book burners and the ‘not racist’ BNP voters of the EDL are here to put the record straight about this most diverse and multi-dimensional faith.

Of course, not all EDL soldiers and human rights activists have the time to study the Qur’an they’ve stolen before they perform the tradition burning ceremony. What with having to fit neighbourhood watch duties, humanitarian work and actual teaching around their day jobs (no laughing). Luckily though, there is a vast array of altruistic scholars that have kindly done the reading for them, and have published their findings in books and online. Those kind folks in Israel that translate the Qur’an for Guramit Singh, for instance. Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Geert Wilders etc. These people have all produced literature, made films, formed political parties and created organisations to educate us and protect us from Muslims. The fact that they are all unashamed Zionists is neither here nor there.

I started to wonder though, am I being a bit too hasty in dismissing the EDL’s capacity to educate those of us who don’t yet hate Muslims and fear the inevitable Islamic takeover? Have I learnt anything from the EDL? Surprisingly, the answer was yes.

The EDL has taught me that the direction of one’s political leaning has a direct correlation with one’s body odour & washing frequency.

The EDL has taught me that Xenophobia is a country.

The EDL has taught me that Brazil is a Muslim country.

The EDL has brought the existence of halal pork to my attention.

The EDL has uncovered Iraqi, interracial and Muslamic law in London.

The EDL has taught me of the existence of Muslim Infidels.

The EDL has taught me that you can’t build Mosques in Mecca.

The EDL has taught me that the New Testament is an updated version of the Old Testament.

The EDL has taught me the true meaning of irony.

Wearing a balaclava while demanding a ban on the burka is NOT ironic.

An ‘ex’ BNP member running a business that turns pale people brown is NOT ironic.

The son of immigrants being the leader of xenophobic organisation is NOT ironic.

The EDL moralising about the reported age of Aisha despite one of their leaders being a convicted paedophile is NOT ironic.

I consider myself a better person for opening my mind to the wisdom of the English Defence League.

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