Arrests call upon US Muslims to publicly discuss their faith

The death of a Detroit Muslim leader and other recent terror-related arrests are forcing US Muslims to talk about their faith in public in order to ensure the world understands that they condemn violence.

Because religion is so integrated in American society, the dialogue is more natural than it might be in European countries such as France, which has derided some public discussions of religion, says Malika Zeghal, associate professor of the anthropology and sociology of religion and Islamic studies at the University of Chicago.

Infamous Islamist imam from hamburg forswears terror

Muslims should make peace with Germany, argues former hate preacher Mohammed El Fazazi, the man who once provided religious instruction to the men behind the 9/11 terror attacks. In 2001, imam Mohammed El Fazazi of Morocco preached that it it is a Muslim obligation to “slit the throats of non-believers” in a Hamburg mosque. Among his listeners and star pupils were Mohammed Atta, Ramzi Binalshibh and Marwan al-Shehhi, three of the men who participated in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Today, eight years later, Mohammed El Fazazi has foresworn acts of terrorism against Western targets. “I admit that I went too far and overshot the target,” he wrote in an open letter to his daughter, who lives in Hamburg, and Muslims living in Germany.

Muslims living in Germany, he said, should draw attention to themselves and their issues through “peaceful demonstrations, strikes and protests that are far removed from indiscriminate attacks” and the “killing of innocent people with the argument of killing kuffar,” or non-believers.

CAIR celebrates 15 years of Muslim civil liberties defense; Muslims weigh in on effectiveness

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is celebrating 15 years of defending the civil rights of Muslims in the United States. Since 9/11, the organization has been more involved with Congress and law enforcement to advocate Muslim issues and ensure policies and investigations target the right groups while protecting the rights of law abiding Muslims.

To commemorate its success, IslamOnline.net discusses CAIR and its effectiveness with Muslims from an array of backgrounds.

CAIR: Islamophobia machine targets American Muslims

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today distributed an editorial, entitled “Islamophobia Machine Targets American Muslims,” outlining what the Washington-based Muslim civil rights group says is a campaign by “extremists of all stripes who coordinate and cooperate in a relentless effort to demonize Islam and deprive American Muslims of their civil rights.”

CAIR distributed the editorial through ISLAM-OPED, a syndication service designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues.

Canadian arrested in foiled Danish newspaper plot

Tahawar Hussain Rana, a former Pakistani cadet and medical student who received Canadian citizenship and since settled in Chicago, is accused of helping mastermind a terrorist plot that he and alleged conspirators dubbed the Mickey Mouse project, with branches stretching from a Toronto office tower to radical groups in Pakistan. Rana’s co-accused, a Pakistani-American who changed his name to David Headley, told the FBI he wanted to kill two Danish journalists in retaliation for their paper’s publication in 2005 of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

The alleged conspiracy ended in a dramatic raid October 18, when more than 100 federal agents, some with assault rifles and body armor, descended on Rana’s slaughterhouse in rural Illinois while helicopters and surveillance planes buzzed overhead. Rana admitted he was aware Mr. Headley was affiliated with Pakistani terrorist groups, the FBI said.

Belgian Muslim vigilance website launched

Vigilance Musulmane (Muslim Vigilance), a think tank and watch dog group based out of Belgium, has launched a website detailing their work ensuring for proper treatment within the country’s constitution, as well as the neutrality of the State and the separation of religion and politics in the country. The website features news articles on these topics. It is coordinated by Abdelghani Ben Moussa.

String of terror arrests in US raises discussions of possible increases in homegrown radicalism

Five men in the last five months have been arrested on terror charges in the US. Their efforts to carry out violent jihad plans varied in sophistication, with more serious plots raising questions as to whether a rise in homegrown radicalism may be taking place in America.

“For the most part, these guys are not totally dangerous on their own,” said Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical intelligence at Stratfor, a global intelligence company. “The grass routes guys are amateurish and don’t have the ability to do (large scale) damage… when they get dangerous is when they get a trained operational commander who has skills to plan and do surveillance.”

Jena McNeill, policy analyst for homeland security at the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said that while the United States always faces some type of terror threat, the danger of home grown terrorism has not increased.

“I don’t want to downplay the possibility that it could increase, but it is not as bad as Europe,” she said, adding that radical Islam poses a greater danger across the Atlantic than it does in the United States.

Spanish imams launch independent training body

Spanish Muslims have launched an independent, self-regulatory body to train imams in the southern European country, IslamOnline.net reports. The Islamic Union of Imams and Preachers in Spain will be entrusted with training imams and preachers across the country.

Chairman Sheikh Alaa Said explains that “the growing Muslim community in Spain required the launch of an official Islamic body to unify efforts of imams and preachers nationwide”. He admitted that many mosque imams are not well-prepared to do their job: “We have nearly 700 mosques in Spain, most of which are supervised by volunteered imams who have not studied religious sciences or been trained perfectly to do the job.” The new umbrella organization, with specialized committees on fatwa, research, and training, seeks to rectify this lack of training and unify the country’s imams.

Toronto imam defends mosque address

A Toronto imam said yesterday he did not intend to insult non-Muslims during an address at his mosque on those who want the niqab and burka banned. Said Rageah, the imam at Toronto’s Abu Huraira Centre, said that only someone who did not understand Islam would have come away from last Friday’s prayers thinking that anyone at his mosque hated members of other faiths.

Imam Rageah yesterday said in a brief interview that in both references he was not literally meaning “destroy” but rather to confound or weaken those that would infringe on their rights. In last week’s address, he used the word “kuffar” repeatedly, a word some say is highly derogatory of non-Muslims, especially Christians and Jews. Tarek Fatah, a Canadian Muslim commentator, likened the word to a racist slur. Walid Saleh, professor at the study of religion at the University of Toronto, said this week that kuffar could be seen as a neutral term.

Boston area Muslim leader asks Muslim community to remain vigilant against radicalism

In light of this week’s arrest of Tarek Mehanna, an alleged terrorist with plans to attack Massachusetts malls and executive members of the federal government, a Boston-area Muslim leader has called on local Muslims to help “root out” radicals in their communities.

“As Muslims, we condemn the planning or committing of any acts of violence or terrorism,” Kaleem added. “We are particularly appalled by the prospect of random violence against our families, our friends and our neighbors in public areas.”

“If anybody senses imminent danger, they should alert the proper authorities,” said Kaleem, when asked if Muslims should call the cops on hate groups.

He added the Muslim community must show it’s more about civic pride and “pluralism.”