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Trump Discusses an Alternative for Travel Ban

Trump

Iranian citizen and U.S green card holder Cyrus Khosravi (L) greets his brother, Hamidreza Khosravi (C), and niece, Dena Khosravi (R), 2, after they were detained for additional screening following their arrival to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to visit Cyrus, during a pause in U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. February 6, 2017

Washington – U.S. President Donald Trump had announced that he will be considering several options in face of the judicial block of his travel ban for seven Muslim countries.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One on his way to Florida, he said he was confident that he could win any legal battles. But he indicated he was also thinking about alternative strategies.

Trump’s original order, which he called a national security measure meant to head off attacks by extremist militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

A federal judge in Seattle suspended the order last Friday after its legality was challenged by Washington state. The court said the ban violates constitutional principles. That ruling was upheld by an appeals court in San Francisco on Thursday, raising questions about Trump’s next step.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimously decided to pause the president’s executive order.

When asked by reporters about the new order and what it may contain, Trump said that it will include new security measures.

“We have very, very strong vetting. I call it extreme vetting and we’re going very strong on security. We’re going to have people coming to our country that want to be here for good reasons,” he stressed.

The President took it to Twitter announcing that he was confident that his lawyers would win the argument before the country’s highest court. In another tweet, he said: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

Trump declared that he will continue to do his best for the safety of the country, promising that he will introduce new results as of next week.

He added: “We will continue to go through the court process, and ultimately I have no doubt that we’ll win that particular case.”

Meanwhile, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) teamed up with police forces and local authorities in several states on the Mexican border during a wide-ranged arrest campaign.

The Mexican government warned Friday of a “new reality” for its citizens living in the United States and advised them to “take precautions” following the deportation of an undocumented mother after a routine visit with U.S. immigration authorities.

ICE said most of the people targeted in homes and workplaces from Southern California to Atlanta and other cities were criminals.

Activists estimated the number of arrested illegal immigrants to be of 500.

Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 36, of Mesa, Arizona, was taken into custody Wednesday during a routine check-in at the central Phoenix offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Over the past four years, federal immigration authorities had given her a pass to remain in the U.S. rather than deport her back to her native Mexico. But this time, the mother of two children born in the U.S., was deported to Nogales, Sonora, on Thursday.

Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the case illustrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States, facing the most severe implementation of immigration control measures.

Mexican consulates “have intensified their work of protecting fellow nationals, foreseeing more severe immigration measures to be implemented by the authorities of this country, and possible violations to constitutional precepts during such operations and problems with due process,” the statement added.

The ministry then advised the entire Mexican community to take precautions and stay in touch with nearest consulate, to get the help needed to cope with a situation of this kind.

In a related matter, Trump said he would reduce the price of the wall he wants built on the U.S. border with Mexico.

“I am reading that the great border WALL will cost more than the government originally thought, but I have not gotten involved in the … design or negotiations yet,” Trump tweeted.

“When I do, just like with the F-35 FighterJet or the Air Force One Program, price will come WAY DOWN!”, he said in another tweet.

Trump’s response came after media reports estimated the price of a wall along the entire border would cost $21.6 billion. During his presidential campaign Trump had cited a $12 billion figure.

(Source / 12.02.2017)

Israeli authorities ban UN Muslim staff, Gazans from praying at Aqsa

un-moslim-staf

The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have prevented UNRWA’s Muslim staff members and worshipers from the blockaded Gaza Strip from gaining access to the holy al-Aqsa Mosque for the tenth week running.

Media chief at the Civil Affairs Commission, Mohamed al-Mukadma, said the IOA banned Gazans and UNRWA staff members from performing their prayers at the holy al-Aqsa Mosque—the third holiest site in Islam.

Such bans have been frequently issued on claims that Gazans exceed the time-span allotted for them to visit Occupied Jerusalem and pray at al-Aqsa Mosque then return to the Strip on the same day.

(Source / 10.02.2017)

How Russia’s Muslims view Trump’s anti-Islam stance

President Donald Trump holds up one of the executive actions that he signed in the Oval Office on Jan. 28, 2017, in Washington, DC

US President Donald Trump has sparked fury across the world, especially among Muslims, with his recent attempt to prevent nationals of seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The countries affected are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Trump’s executive order, signed Jan. 27, has been on hold under a temporary restraining order issued Feb. 3, but three federal judges are set to hear the government’s appeal of the hold at 6 p.m. ET Feb. 7.

Most Middle Eastern, Muslim-majority countries, as well as European leaders, condemn the action and consider it an anti-Islam ban. Iraq’s Foreign Ministry expressed its “regret and astonishment” over the ban. The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Iran called the order “insulting” and a “gift to extremists.”

Even the UK, a close US ally, described the ban as “divisive and wrong,” as British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson tweeted. The ban recalls Trump’s anti-Islam comments made during his election campaign, and fueled speculation that he will try to take even more strict measures against Muslims and Muslim-majority countries.

There are more than 20 million Muslims living in Russia, constituting about 15% of the country’s total population. Islam is the second-largest religion there, after Orthodox Christianity. Most Russian Muslims live in the seven republics of the Russian Federation: Bashkortostan and Tatarstan in the Volga-Urals region; and Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia in the Northern Caucasus. There are also huge Muslim diasporas in big cities in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Despite Russia’s significant Muslim population, it hasn’t condemned the ban and prefers not to comment on it.

“It is not our business,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

There also haven’t been any official comments on the ban made by Muslim official representatives in Russia or the authorities of predominantly Muslim-populated regions of Russia.

Chechen Republic leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who likes to express his views on the range of political and world issues via social media, also remained surprisingly silent — though he had been quick to congratulate Trump on his victory in the November 2016 presidential election. He also shared his views on the first telephone conversation between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying on Instagram, “The conversation opens a new page in Russian-American relations. The results of the talks are not only important for the both countries but for the whole international society as well.”

Al-Monitor contacted the administrations of some of Russia’s Muslim-populated regions and representatives of Islamic organizations for comment on the situation. The most common response was, “We have no authority to comment on that issue.”

However, a source in one of the most influential Islamic organizations in Russia agreed to express his views on condition of strict anonymity.

“Without any doubt, any anti-Muslim ban concerns us and we are closely following the situation. But no one will make official statements on that, especially if they contain condemnation,” he told Al-Monitor.

Iskander Gilyazov, a historian and Tatar social activist, told Al-Monitor, “Why hasn’t Russia condemned the ban? I think it’s part of a political game.”

Gilyazov, a professor at Kazan University, added, ”It’s a reflection of the euphoria that prevails here [in the federal government] after Trump’s victory.” According to Gilyazov, Russian Muslim authorities have taken a cautious position and prefer to wait for Trump’s next moves before reaching conclusions.

Another expert told Al-Monitor, “Russian Muslims, as well as the majority of Russians, are tired of sanctions and isolation from the world. They believe that with a new administration in the White House their lives will get better. That’s why Russian Muslims don’t rush to comment on Trump’s policy,” said Rais Suleymanov, a specialist on Islam and an expert at the Institute of National Strategy.

He said Russian Muslims also don’t feel too much sympathy for Muslim immigrants.

“It’s necessary to keep in mind that Russian Muslims are not immigrants in Russia and, more than that, they feel all the negative consequences of immigration, especially from Central Asia,” Suleymanov explained.

Vusal Kerimov, a Moscow-based political expert and a representative of Moscow’s Talysh diaspora, suggested it isn’t surprising that there has been no official reaction from Muslim representatives. “Why should there be? Any criticism would be controversial to the Kremlin’s official line. That is why Muslim social activists preferred not to touch the American election at all. Peskov said, ‘It’s not our business.’ I fully understand this position,” Kerimov told Al-Monitor.

Russian Muslims who spoke with Al-Monitor reacted negatively to Trump’s ban and anti-Islam rhetoric, but those who agreed to comment on the record about the situation don’t think it will affect them or lead to the rise of Islamophobia in Russia. Gilyazov, the professor, concurred.

“I personally condemn Trump’s anti-Muslim stance. But I understand that it is a result of prevailing Islamophobia in Western countries and an expression of the political incorrectness of the new American leader,” Gilyazov said.

Journalist Nasima Bokova also believes “the ban and anti-Islam stance won’t impact Muslims in Russia or worldwide.”

“Russia has its own story with its Muslim population, which has been a natural part of its culture and history for many centuries,” Bokova, former editor in chief of magazine Musulmanka (Muslim Woman), told Al-Monitor. She also believes there is no threat to American Muslims. “American society is tolerant enough. I used to live there and saw with my own eyes that most Americans are not Islamophobic at all.”

While there are still some concerns that Trump’s anti-Islam stance will lead to the rise of Islamophobia in the world, there is a strong possibility it might have quite a different effect.

“The recent ban and Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric could lead to the rise of anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiments among Muslims. Some extremist elements could probably benefit from the situation — some of them could take revenge on the USA and American citizens and this wave could spread around the world. As a result, people will say that Trump was right,” Kerimov, the Moscow political expert, told Al-Monitor.

(Source / 09.02.2017)

Why GCC has been silent on Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

US President Donald Trump waits to speak by phone with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in the Oval Office at the White House, Washington, Jan. 29, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” executive order targeting seven Muslim-majority African/Arab countries received a chorus of criticism from around the world and within the Beltway. A number of Washington’s traditional allies, in addition to Iran, the United Nations and the Arab League, condemned the new American president’s decision, as did scores of US lawmakers on both sides of the partisan divide.

Save Qatar, which expressed a subtle disapproval of Trump’s executive order, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, however, have been absent from this wave of condemnation. The 45th president’s phone conversation Jan. 29 with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud did not cover the “Muslim ban.” The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) foreign minister and a Dubai police official went as far as to defend the move as within the US right as a sovereign nation, while dismissing the interpretation that the executive order is Islamophobic. Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman have, thus far, been silent. The lack of condemnation from the GCC is indicative of the Arab Gulf states’ “wait-and-see” approach to the new US administration and their vested interests in staying on Trump’s good side at a time when their economic and security challenges require close cooperation with Washington.

The GCC royals have numerous agendas that they see as best protected by pursuing better ties with Trump than they enjoyed with Barack Obama. Public criticism over the American president’s executive order could set back such interests that include securing greater US support in countering Iran’s regional conduct, safeguarding their sheikhdoms from the Islamic State (IS) and attracting foreign investment for their economic diversification programs.

A major disappointment that the Saudi leaders and other Arab state officials encountered with the Obama administration was its perceived weakness on Iran. From the GCC’s perspective, the last administration failed to take adequate action to counter Tehran’s conduct across the region, most notably in Syria and Yemen, which most in the council see as a grave security threat to the Arabian Peninsula monarchies. There have been clear signs that the Trump administration is determined to take a harder stance against Iran’s posture in the Middle East.

On Feb. 1, as the United States and three of its Western allies were conducting three-day war games in the Gulf to “ensure the free flow of commerce” through the Strait of Hormuz, national security adviser Michael Flynn warned that Washington is “officially putting Iran on notice” while engaging in a “deliberative process” to “consider a whole range of options” vis-a-vis Tehran. Flynn’s words were a response to Iran’s testing of a ballistic missile and an attack waged by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels against a Saudi naval vessel. Two days later, Flynn’s words translated into action once the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and companies affiliated with Tehran’s ballistic missile program, and others supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. Unquestionably, such actions provide Riyadh with a rather optimistic outlook on the new administration’s approach to addressing the Islamic Republic and the alleged threat it poses to the GCC.

The Obama administration’s refusal to create a “no-fly zone” in Syria for fear of drawing the United States into a bloody Middle Eastern war frustrated the Saudis and Qataris, who unsuccessfully sought to pressure Obama into stepping up the US military’s involvement in Syria against the regime. Despite Trump’s calls for severing Washington’s support for Saudi/Qatari-backed Sunni rebels in Syria, the US president’s advocating for “safe zones” in Syria and Yemen received a full endorsement from the Saudi king during his phone call with the American president.

A source of unease in the kingdom and other Arab Gulf states is that Trump will not lead a “typical Republican administration.” Rooted in a history of deeper cooperation with former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, the GCC has long been more comfortable with Republican White Houses that catered to oil interests and conducted more militaristic foreign policies against common adversaries of the United States and the GCC. Trump’s rhetoric, however, about making the GCC pay more for its defense while calling for a US-Russia partnership in the Middle East unsettled Arab Gulf leaders who feared that the real estate mogul would view the oil-rich monarchies as merely “cash cows” rather than vital allies and fail to take their concerns about regional tensions seriously. Although it is too early to determine how the GCC will eventually fit into Trump’s grander Middle East foreign policy, these early moves signal that the 45th president is likely determined to work closely with the Arab Gulf states on the Iran file.

Although many were baffled as to why the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” (the official title of every Saudi king since 1986) did not raise the executive order during his recent phone call with Trump, strategic interests rather than religion and socially constructed identities form the basis of state-to-state relationships. Many in the GCC found Trump’s Islamophobia repulsive and disturbing, as underscored by many Saudi elites’ highly negative reaction to the property billionaire’s December 2015 call for a “Muslim ban,” yet officials in Riyadh are careful about which battles they wish to pick with the 45th president. The election of Trump, regardless of the many objections that some in the GCC may have previously articulated about his candidacy, will not change the fact that Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states remain dependent on the United States for their security. Rather than condemning his executive order, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are instead focused on advancing mutual interests with the new White House while avoiding any public spat between the GCC and Washington.

A number of outstanding issues, chiefly the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which Trump endorsed and permits US citizens to sue the Saudi government for its alleged role in the attacks on Sept. 9, 2001, are sensitive matters that the United States and the GCC must eventually address. The Arab Gulf states will be in a better position to do so if they warm their ties with the new administration. As the Saudis seek to move forward with Vision 2030, an ambitious transformation plan aimed at ending the kingdom’s economic dependence on oil, investment from the United States and other wealthy countries is crucial. By supporting the “Muslim ban,” either through an outright endorsement or calculated silence, the Saudis and other Arab Gulf states are investing in a better relationship with Washington as the JASTA question remains a major problem for US-GCC relations that Trump will eventually need to address.

Not lost in the equation is the defense industry’s vested interests in a continuation of Washington’s alliances with the six GCC members. Although many in the media quickly pointed to the absence in the “Muslim ban” of countries where Trump has business interests, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE — the countries of origin for all but two of the 9/11 hijackers and thousands of IS members — another factor is that the United States is not a major arms seller to most of the seven countries listed: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. With James Mattis heading the Pentagon and Rex Tillerson serving as America’s top diplomat, these two figures have close ties to the GCC and view the Arab Gulf states as pivotal American allies in the Middle East, particularly as the White House flexes its muscles in the Gulf to send Iran a bold message.

Nonetheless, the Saudis are not entirely at ease with Trump and his “Muslim ban.” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ statement that “perhaps other countries need to be added” to the list is unsettling for the Arab Gulf states, which many of Trump’s critics have argued deserved to be placed on any such list before countries whose citizens have never waged a single deadly act of jihadi terrorism on US soil. If the administration adds any members of the GCC, it is doubtful that most Arab Gulf officials will remain silent.

(Source / 07.02.2017)

Sarsour v. Trump: Palestinian-American Activist Sues the President to Overturn Muslim Ban

sarsour-vs-trump

We turn now to Sarsour v. Trump—a sweeping lawsuit the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed Monday challenging Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees from entering the United States and banning entry into the U.S. to all 218 million citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The lawsuit calls Trump’s ban a “Muslim Exclusion Order.” It argues the executive order is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. We speak to the lead plaintiff, Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who was also co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to Sarsour v. Trump, a sweeping lawsuit the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed Monday challenging President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees from entering the United States and banning entry into the U.S. to all 218 [million] citizens from seven Muslim majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The lawsuit calls Trump’s ban a “Muslim Exclusion Order.” It argues the executive order is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist, lead plaintiff in the case. She helped organize the Women’s March on Washington, as well.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Linda. We last saw you at the beginning of that march, the day after the inauguration, a march that trumped the Trump inauguration, the crowd three times, I think—

LINDA SARSOUR: Yeah, absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —was the size. But you’re suing Donald Trump now, along with a number of other plaintiffs. Explain what’s the basis of the suit.

LINDA SARSOUR: Well, the basis, first of all, is that we believe that the Muslim ban is unconstitutional. We also believe that there is some preference of one religion over another, which also violates the Constitution. And we actually believe we have standing now, as we saw the acting attorney general fired by Donald Trump, who said that she would not defend something that she felt was indefensible and unconstitutional.

As a lead plaintiff, as you know, there’s a lot of Jane and John Does on there, which are being protected for their legal types of status that they have, but we have anywhere from Yemeni, Somali, Sudanese students. We have medical students who are here, who are actually serving the American people. We have religious leaders who are here on R1 visas, who, if travel back to their country, would not be able to come back. I mean, these are—we have American citizens who have wives who are also trying to get visas to come into the United States. We’re separating families. I mean, the stories that we are defending in this lawsuit are a lot more important than my name, but being able to put a public face as an American Muslim on this lawsuit, because we will not allow Donald Trump to get away with this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Of course, the Trump administration is claiming that it is not a Muslim ban, that it’s a ban on specific countries. And I’m wondering your response to that.

LINDA SARSOUR: Absolutely. I mean, we saw the Muslim registry program back in 2003 under the Bush administration, that actually started with about six countries, and then it went to about 29 countries of origin. So we have seen precedent of making this list a lot larger.

And what’s really interesting is we talk about we want to keep America safe. From who? From Syrian refugees? Since when can somebody tell me a time or a case where there has been a Syrian refugee in this country who has committed an act of terror? And that’s the problem here. There is absolutely no basis or no data that supports this particular list of countries. I don’t support any list of any countries. These refugees, in particular, are leaving war, conflict. They have seen torture and massacre, and they need a safety haven. And we have heard him say, “Well, maybe the Christian refugees,” so basically saying we’ll take the Christians and not the Muslims.

And again, all of the campaign rhetoric that we heard, Juan, during the campaign, people said, “Oh, don’t worry, he’s just playing to the base. He just wants votes.” Guess what. It’s all been policy prescriptive, and we’ve watched him one executive order after another. And we’re going to stop him now. This is only the first 10 days. We don’t know what’s to come.

AMY GOODMAN: So, former New York mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News and explained how Donald Trump planned to institute the executive order barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

RUDY GIULIANI: I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So, when he first announced it, he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up. He said, “Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger! The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal. Perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, close adviser to Donald Trump. Linda Sarsour?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, Rudy Giuliani is a known racist Islamophobe. And he basically—what he was trying to explain here, that it was a Muslim ban, but they were going to find another way to package it so it didn’t come off unconstitutional. And it is very clear to so many people, including the acting attorney general who has now been fired, that this is unconstitutional. We have had members of Congress, some of whom are not always good on the issue, saying this is unconstitutional. So to tell me that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are going to know more than a woman who has served 27 years in our Department of Justice is absolutely outrageous. So, we are going to continue to challenge this executive order and many unconstitutional executive orders that are to come.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’m wondering what you think of the media coverage so far of this issue, because, clearly, the media has been somewhat more confrontational to the Trump administration. But on this issue of the Muslim ban and of Trump’s executive order on immigration, what’s your sense of that coverage?

LINDA SARSOUR: I think, generally speaking, the media has been pretty good on this issue. Why? Because there is no other way to be about it. It’s very clearly unconstitutional. And also, the uprising at airports across the country, you cannot ignore the people rising up against this administration. Since the Women’s March on Washington, we have seen continued mass mobilization in cities across America, where people are just putting a call out and people are coming out in the thousands, whether it be here in New York City, in Atlanta, in Cleveland, Ohio, in San Francisco, in Los Angeles. So, the media can’t ignore that. And I think more of that is to come.

AMY GOODMAN: And Trump is hitting the media hard. And so, a lot of it is clearly self-defense. But on this issue of who he wants to keep out of this country, I want to turn to an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, when Trump said persecuted Christians will be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status in the United States.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’ve been horribly treated. Do you know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very—at least very, very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim, you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that the—everybody was persecuted, in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So, we are going to help them.

AMY GOODMAN: “So, we are going to help them,” referring to the Christians. Linda Sarsour?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, those claims are all baseless. Yes, of course, there are some Christians that are being persecuted in many countries across the world. But in—let’s take Syria, for example. They were a minority that were protected by the government for a very long time. And for him to say that Christians are seeing more than Syrian Muslims, for example, who are being displaced in the millions, as five—over 500,000 Syrians have been massacred, mostly by the Assad regime. So, to claim that one religion is more persecuted than another, I think, is, first of all, divisive, which we don’t need right now in this world, and I think it’s also untrue.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, the Times says, the U.S. “accepts tens of thousands of Christian refugees. According to the Pew Research Center, almost as many as Christian refugees (37,521) were admitted as Muslim refugees [about 38,000] in the 2016 fiscal year.” Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about the—another topic related to the recent attack in Quebec, which initially the reports were that it was a Moroccan Muslim. It turns out to have been not only a white nationalist, but someone who is basically a supporter of Donald Trump and of Marine Le Pen, the right-wing leader in France. Your reaction to this attack and how that was initially covered?

LINDA SARSOUR: I mean, it’s not the first time. It’s like the Boston bombing, when we had two young Algerian boys with bookbags, and we called them the “bag men,” without absolutely no information on these young men. Same thing is happening right now in Quebec. And what really bothers me about this is that it creates more animosity, and people never see the correction. People see whatever the media first reports. And to know that a white nationalist, a supporter of Donald Trump, walked into a mosque and killed six innocent people, the fact that people don’t feel safe to pray in a country like Canada or now in the United States—we have now security across the mosques. I’m on listservs where people are talking about what types of precautions. I mean, this is not why Muslims or any person of any faith came to the United States. We should feel safe. And the fact that you could be on your knees in this country praying to your god and to be shot is absolutely horrific. I was horrified. And I just the pictures of the victims’ fathers, you know, and people who have contributed to the society who are now not here with us today.

(Source / 04.02.2017)

Canadian PM say Quebec City mosque shooting a “terrorist attack on Muslims”

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The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a “terrorist attack on Muslims”, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a “terrorist attack on Muslims”, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement.

Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, the mosque’s president told reporters on Sunday. A witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre.

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” said the mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui.

Quebec police said there were many victims and deaths, but did not confirm the death toll. They said two people had been arrested, but there were no immediate details on the suspects.

A witness said a heavily armed police tactical squad was seen entering the three-storey mosque. Police declined to say whether there was a gunman inside the mosque at the time.

Police tweeted later that the situation was under control and that the mosque had been secured and occupants evacuated.

Yangui, who was not inside the mosque when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers. He did not know how many were injured, saying they had been taken to different hospitals across Quebec City.

Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.

The shooting came on the weekend that Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States on national security grounds.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police were providing additional protection for mosques in that city following the Quebec shooting. “All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” he tweeted.

Canada’s federal Liberal legislator Greg Fergus tweeted: “This is an act of terrorism — the result of years of demonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!”

‘NOT SAFE HERE’

Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants.

In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural centre.

“We are not safe here,” said Mohammed Oudghiri, who normally attends prayers at the mosque in the middle-class, residential area, but not on Sunday.

Oudghiri said he had lived in Quebec for 42 years but was now “very worried” and thinking of moving back to Morocco.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and news of the shooting sent a shockwave through mosques and community centers throughout the mostly French-language province.

“It’s a sad day for all Quebecers and Canadians to see a terrorist attack happen in peaceful Quebec City,” said Mohamed Yacoub, co-chairman of an Islamic community center in a Montreal suburb. “I hope it’s an isolated incident.”

Read | PM Justin Trudeau says Canada will take refugees

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the centre had received threats.

“In June, they’d put a pig’s head in front of the mosque. But we thought: ‘Oh, they’re isolated events.’ We didn’t take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope,” she said.

Bendjeddou said she had not yet confirmed the names of those killed, but added: “They’re people we know, for sure. People we knew since they were little kids.”

(Source / 30.01.2017)

9 Non Muslim Scholars on Muhammad

9 Non Muslim Scholars on Muhammad

“The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the Prophet. There is Muhammad, the Warrior; Muhammad, the Businessman; Muhammad, the Statesman; Muhammad, the Orator; Muhammad, the Reformer; Muhammad, the Refuge of Orphans; Muhammad, the Protector of Slaves; Muhammad, the Emancipator of Women; Muhammad, the Judge; Muhammad, the Saint.  All in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero.”

Michael H. Hart

Michael H. Hart

Annie Besant

Annie Besant

Dr. William Draper

Dr William Draper

George Bernard Shaw

Bernard Shaw on Muhammad

Alphonse de LaMartaine

Alphonse de LaMartaine

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy

W. Montgomery Watt

Watt

Mahatma Gandhi

gandhi

(Source / 17.01.2017)

Close all mosques & ban the Koran: Poll-topping Geert Wilders launches ‘de-Islamization’ manifesto

Article of 27 Aug, 2016

Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders © Laszlo Balogh

Dutch far-right Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders, the wild-haired head of the right-wing Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), launched a new manifesto that calls for the “de-Islamization” of the Netherlands as he leads in the polls to become the next prime minister.

Titled, “The Netherlands is ours again,” Wilders published the one page, 11 point screed on Thursday, highlighting the party’s hard-line positions on Islam.

View image on Twitter

NEDERLAND WEER VAN ONS!

The document, published ahead of a general election in March, calls for the closure of all mosques and Islamic schools, a ban on the Koran, and “no more immigrants from Islamic countries.”

A ban on “Islamic headscarves” in public is also proposed, as well as the prohibition of all “Islamic expressions which violate public order.”

All these measures will, Wilders argues, save the country €7.2 bn (US$8bn).

Trying to out-Trump Trump? Geert Wilders vows to ban the Koran in programme for 2017 election. Trans @redlightvoices

“The PVV is fighting Islam, wants to close the borders of the European Union and all the billions we thus save giving back to the people,” Wilders said in a statement. “My message to Netherlands: Netherlands must again be ours.”

“Jihad is not a temporary phase but a permanent war” (Sayyid Qutb)

Let’s fight back against Islamic barbarism now

It also targets the European Union with the party promising to hold a referendum on the country’s membership in the EU.

The PVV is also calling for spending to be increased in the areas of policing and armed forces while they want “no more money for foreign aid, windmills, art, innovation, public broadcasters.”

Wilders’ plans have been described as “utterly bizarre and unbelievable” by the leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal, Sybrand van Haersma Buma.

“The program will further polarize Dutch society,” he said.

Wilders, who has twice appeared in court for inciting hatred in both 2011 and in March 2016, will emerge as the biggest party following March’s elections, if the opinion polls are to be believed.

There is a catch though, with most parties stating they won’t go into coalition with Wilders.

Joining Trump @convention will b Dutch racist Geert Wilders inciting hateful supporters into a lather of hate https://twitter.com/EsKaLiDiNg/status/754026631568748544 

Wilders, who has often been compared to US Republican presidential Donald Trump for both their shared hair styles and immigration policies, attended the four-day US Republican Party convention in July.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

What’s that with right wing/radical politicians having weird hair? Wilders, Boris Johnson, Trump? I smell a pattern.

Trump will bring Geert Wilders next. They’re going to have a hair throwdown.

“I wish we had political leaders like this in the Netherlands who defend their own country… and forget the rest,” Wilders said of Trump’s bid for the US presidency.

If Hillary is America’s Angela Merkel I guess Trump must be our Geert Wilders

In 2009, Wilders was banned from the UK on public security grounds after his film “Fitna” branded the Koran a “fascist book” and linked it to terrorism, causing much controversy. An immigration tribunal ruling overturned the ban shortly after, however.

The following year, the PVV supported a minority government led by the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). This relationship ended in 2012, however, when the PVV pulled their support over austerity measures VVD wanted to introduce.

(Source / 25.12.2016)

Ahok’s Blasphemy Trial on Indonesia’s national TV and mob justice threatening pluralism in every Muslim country

blasphemy-trial

Ahok wept during the trial and insisted his comments were aimed at politicians “incorrectly” using a Quranic verse against him, not at the verse itself

Indonesia blasphemy case: Emotional scenes as Ahok trial begins

There were emotional scenes in court on the first day of the blasphemy trial of Jakarta’s governor, a Christian of Chinese descent.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, cried as he denied allegations he insulted Islam.

Mr Purnama is the first non-Muslim governor of Indonesia’s capital in 50 years.

The case is being seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The prosecution said Mr Purnama insulted Islam by misusing a Koranic verse which suggests Muslims should not be ruled by non-Muslims, to boost public support ahead of February’s governorship election.

He insisted his comments were aimed at politicians “incorrectly” using a Koranic verse against him, not at the verse itself.

If convicted, he faces a maximum five-year jail sentence. After the short hearing, the trial was adjourned until 20 December.

Rights groups say the authorities have set a dangerous precedent in which a noisy hardline Islamic minority can influence the legal process, says the BBC’s Rebecca Henschke in Jakarta.

Read further

Suggested Reading

Freedom of Speech: A Core Islamic Value!

The specter on national television is really putting Secularism on trial for every Muslim majority country, either you have it or you don’t

The Muslim Times has a large collection of articles to expose the fallacy of the blasphemy politics in the Muslim majority countries

ahok-coming-to-the-trial

Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, arriving for his trial for alleged blasphemy at a district court in Jakarta on Tuesday

(Source / 13.12.2016)

Flynn: Prophet Muhammad and Quran Are “Incompatible” With Modernity

flynn

National Security Advisor-designate Michael T. Flynn is a lightning rod for controversies surrounding the Trump transition team. Yesterday, 53 advocacy groups released a joint statement urging President-elect Donald Trump to rescind his appointment of Flynn, describing him as a “completely inappropriate choice to serve in the most senior national security position in the White House.” Flynn, the letter notes, exhibits a “lack of respect for the rights and dignity of Muslims.”

In a previously unreported video, reviewed by LobeLog, of an interview at the Republican National Convention, Flynn directly attacks the prophet Muhammad and the Quran and blames the introduction of Islam for the Middle East’s alleged failure to “become modern.”

Indeed, Flynn has previously said that “fear of Muslims is rational” and describes Islam as a “cancer.” But some analyses of Trump’s pick for national security advisor have glossed over Flynn’s sweeping anti-Muslim statements. Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake, for example, described Flynn as having “spoken and written at length about combating radical Islam, not just the most extreme terrorist groups inspired by this ideology.” And mainstream publications like Politico and The New York Timeshave published articles focusing on Flynn’s fixation on combating “radical Islam,” which Flynn sometimes acknowledges is separate from, although closely related to, the Islamic religion.

But a video published by Dinesh D’Souza’s “head researcher,” Kimberly Dvorak, shows Flynn engaging in a lengthy interview one day before his speech at the GOP convention in Cleveland.

He said (my emphasis):

I always say use the phrase “invest in civility and not in conflict.” If you invest in civility you’re helping a nation, you are challenging a nation. So, like Kuwait or the UAE or the Saudis or Egypt or any one of them. You’re challenging them to take a hard look at their entire system, their entire ecosystem, because if they want to have their religion, their quote-unquote religion, and they want to have their security, and they want to pretend like they have women’s rights, and they pretend like everything’s fine, … I can tell you, it’s not.

[…]

In 2015, there were more books translated in Spain, that year, in one year, translated into Spanish, than there were books translated in the Arab world for the last thousand years. OK? So a thousand years ago, the Arab world would have had all the Nobel prizes – Science, Art, Peace – they would have them all a thousand years ago, so what changed was this guy Muhammad comes into play and, honestly, we’re dealing with a text that is ancient and not helpful and a society that lives on that text and it can’t come to grips with modernity, with becoming modern.

Watch it:

Flynn regularly calls for a “reformation” of Islam, praising Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood. But his remarks in the video go considerably further, saying that Islam’s central figure and core tenets are the impediment to progress in the Middle East.

Back in June, Flynn published “The Field of Fight,” coauthored with neoconservative writer and Foundation for Defense of Democracies “Freedom Scholar” Michael Ledeen.

They wrote:

The world badly needs an Islamic reformation, and we should not be surprised if violence is involved.

[…]

And we’ve got to stop feeling the slightest bit guilty about calling them by name and identifying them as fanatical killers acting on behalf of a failed civilization.

Flynn’s remarks are particularly troubling, given that the 1.6 billion Muslims who constitute approximately 23% of the world’s population are members of a religion he holds incompatible with modernity.

Flynn and Ledeen wrote a lengthy diatribe against Sharia law, a favorite bogeyman for anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, suggesting that Islam and Muslims are undertaking a subversive campaign to undermine U.S. laws.

They wrote (my emphasis):

Sharia is the basic legal system derived from the religious precepts of Islam, mainly the Koran and the hadiths (supposedly verbatim quotes of what the prophet Muhammad said during his life). In its strictest definition, Sharia, is considered the infallible law of God. They want to impose a worldwide system based on their version of Sharia law that denies freedoms of conscience, choices, and liberties. Basic freedoms![…] I firmly believe that Radical Islam is a tribal cult and must be crushed. Critics get buried in the details of the sunna, hadiths, the umma and the musings of countless Muslim clerics and imams. These so-called Islamic scholars keep their message so complicated so as to create chaos, to confuse in order to control. Now, Pol Pot, Stalin, and Mussolini were transparent. Sharia is a violent law that is buried in barbaric conviction.

Perhaps the scariest part about this to a man who grew up in tiny Rhode Island is that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) now says if we criticize the Prophet or Islam, we can be charged with blasphemy. That is like saying as a Roman Catholic (and a Saint Mary’s School-educated Catholic at that), I cannot criticize the priest who raped and the cardinals and bishops who cover it up!

[…]

Muslims want to apply Sharia law by using our own legal system to strengthen what many Americans believe to be a violent religious law that has no place in the United States.

Although his previous remarks often conflated Islam and “radical Islam,” allowing journalists to ascribe his inflammatory comments to a rabid hatred of Islamism and Islamic radicals, this interview, alongside the musings in his book, shows the national security adviser-designate explicitly deriding the entire Islamic religion, its central prophet, its holy book, and its followers.

Fortunately for Flynn, he won’t face a Senate confirmation hearing for his position. But the Trump transition team—where Flynn’s son, who promoted the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, was but is no longer involved—will, no doubt, be under increasing pressure to rescind Flynn’s appointment.

(Source / 07.12.2016)