NYC Mayor Defends Kelly, but Says Anti-Muslim Film Caused Damage

As his administration faces a firestorm over a video shown to hundreds of police officers that depicted Muslims as extremists, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg conceded on Thursday that the episode had damaged relations between the city’s Islamic community and the Police Department.

While the mayor defended the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who has apologized for the showing of the film to officers, he acknowledged that Mr. Kelly would have to work harder to improve trust among Muslims. The video, called “The Third Jihad” was shown for months to officers receiving anti-terrorism training.

Islam and the West Through the Eyes of Two Women

Very few of the heroes and villains made famous in the wars of the past decade are women. Of the scant exceptions, two of the most fascinating are the subjects of Deborah Scroggins’s thoughtful double biography, “Wanted Women.”
One is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born thinker and neoconservative darling; the other is Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who, in 2010, was sentenced to 86 years in prison for her assault on American personnel in Afghanistan. She is known as Al Qaeda’s highest-ranking female associate.

In “Wanted Women,” Scroggins traces the lives of Hirsi Ali and Siddiqui from their earliest childhoods down to the present. Hirsi Ali continues to live in the United States; Siddiqui now resides in Fort Worth, Tex., where she is incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center Carswell and receiving psychiatric treatment.

Alternating between the two women, Scroggins explores what she calls “their weird symmetry,” examining how the forces of contemporary history — war, poverty, colonialism and politics — have forged these “icons of the war on terror.” She writes: “When it came to dealing with the crises of Islam, they were mirror opposites, but there were hints in their complicated backgrounds that each woman might have gone in a very different direction, perhaps even to the extent of Aafia Siddiqui becoming a Westernizing feminist and Ayaan Hirsi Ali becoming a militant Islamist.”

Challenging the Silence of Others

Bharat Choudhary has seen the power of religious hatred up close. After the 2002 sectarian riots in Gujarat, Mr. Choudhary counseled victims who had been paralyzed or raped during the violence. His clients were Muslims. Mr. Choudhary is Hindu.

The jarring encounter would prove fortuitous, becoming the topic for his masters project, photographing young Muslims who were born in the United States. He admits that at first, he didn’t know much about them.

He realized the central question for many young American Muslims was how to be both authentically Muslim and authentically American. They were often asked – sometimes with hostility– whether they were Muslim first or American first. In many cases, the young men and women had found equilibrium.

American Muslims were proportionately better educated and better off financially than their British counterparts. Mr. Choudhary believes what divides Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States is mainly religion, while in England they are separated by political, economic and religious factors. In Britain, some of the poorest communities are predominately Muslim.

Abas Idris, Muslim Security Guard, Gets $465,000 In Calif. Harassment Suit

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco jury awarded $465,000 to a Muslim security guard who says his co-workers and supervisors called him a terrorist and an al-Qaida member.

The 27-year-old says he quit his job as a security guard for Los Angeles-based Andrews International in February 2010 after the company failed to take his complaints about harassment seriously. He had served as a guard at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio.

Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims blast Rick Santorum on ‘equality’ comment

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are accusing Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum of bigotry and ignorance after he said that “equality” is solely a Judeo-Christian concept.

“Where do you think the concept of equality comes from?” Santorum said on the campaign trail last Friday (Jan. 20). “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions. It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

New York police head says CIA officer temporarily assigned to department will leave in April

NEW YORK — The CIA officer working as a special assistant to the New York Police Department’s top intelligence officer will leave his post in April after nine months, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday.

The department was notified of the planned departure in November, just weeks after the completion of an internal investigation into how the federal agency established its unprecedented collaboration with city police.

The Associated Press had reported a day earlier that the officer’s assignment was being cut short, but at the time it was unclear how short or when the officer would be leaving.

NC man faces trial in plot to hire hit man to behead witnesses in his brother’s terrorism case

WILMINGTON, N.C. — A North Carolina man must stand trial in a plot to hire a hit man to behead three witnesses from his brother’s terrorism case, a federal magistrate judge ruled on Friday.

Following a day-long preliminary hearing, federal Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones Jr. also ordered Shkumbin Sherifi held without bond.

Sherifi, 21, was arrested last weekend after FBI agents tracked him to a Jan. 8 meeting in the parking lot of a Wilmington Food Lion grocery store with a government informant posing as the representative of a hit man. He is accused of paying the informant $4,250 toward the first killing while his mother waited nearby in a Honda minivan.

Public Priorities: Deficit Rising, Terrorism Slipping

Economic issues continue to be the public’s highest priority as the 2012 State of the Union approaches. Fully 86% say that strengthening the economy should be a top priority for the president and Congress this year, and 82% rate improving the job situation as a top priority.

The annual policy priorities survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 11-16 among 1,502 adults, finds that the federal budget deficit stands out as the fastest growing policy priority for Americans, largely because of increasing Republican concerns about the issue. Fully 69% rate reducing the budget deficit as a top priority — the most in any of the Pew Research Center’s annual policy priority updates going back to 1994.

Virginia anti-Sharia law unconstitutional

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says a new law that has been proposed in the State of Virginia is anti-Muslim and unconstitutional.

Titled Morris’ HB631, the new bill was introduced by Virginia General Assembly Delegate Rick L. Morris (R-House District 64) on January 11.

“Unfortunately, a state delegate in Virginia, has introduced a piece of legislation that is copied from an extreme anti-Muslim (and) racist who has made a template for such laws nationwide and they have been introduced in more than 20 states and now Virginia and Pennsylvania being the latest,” CAIR’s National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper, has told Press TV’s U.S. Desk.

The anti-Sharia proposed law would ban courts from applying religious traditions to proceedings, such as the execution of a will among Muslims. Not only the religious Muslim code, the new bill would also prohibit the application of the Catholic equivalent, canon law, and other religious guidelines.

The suddenly controversial bill is scheduled to be heard by a Virginia legislature House subcommittee next Monday.

In U.S. courts, judges can refer to Sharia law in Muslim litigation involving cases about divorce and custody proceedings or in commercial litigation.

CAIR to Santorum: Christians, Jews, Muslims Worship the Same God

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2012 — GOP presidential hopeful claims concept of equality ‘doesn’t come from Islam,’ but from ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim civil liberties organization, today condemned “inaccurate and offensive” remarks by GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who said yesterday that the concept of equality “doesn’t come from Islam” or “Eastern religions.” He claimed equality comes from “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

SEE: Santorum Says Equality ‘Doesn’t Come from Islam’ But From ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’
In a statement, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper said:

“The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, is the best refutation of Mr. Santorum’s inaccurate and offensive remarks, which are unbecoming of anyone who hopes to hold our nation’s highest office. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God and share religious traditions that promote justice and equality.