Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons urges dialogue between Muslims and Jews during Israel visit

To hip hop and fashion mogul Russell Simmons, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is like “a rap beef” that can be resolved through dialogue and understanding.

“A little trust, and it’s over,” he said.

When he isn’t managing his clothing line Phat Farm or promoting artists, Simmons champions an eclectic mix of causes, from veganism to gay rights to yoga.

In Israel, he’s focusing on interfaith trust. He said creating dialogue should be as simple as a mediating a rap battle, were it not for the political deadlock between Palestinians and Israelis.

Muslims and Jews “have the same aspirations and goals that are much greater than the things they call differences,” Simmons said.

Simmons arrived in Israel on behalf of a foundation that aims to promote face-to-face dialogue between ethnic and religious communities. He discussed yoga with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Ahmed Hussein, and received a blessing from the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz.

Simmons even did a headstand in front of the Dome of the Rock, one of the holiest sites to Muslims, though he said it was “for the kids” and not for any yogic spiritual reason.

Filmmaker switches sides and now opposes mosque

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An outspoken supporter of a planned mosque that has sparked opposition in Murfreesboro, Tenn., has switched sides and joined the anti-Islam movement.

Eric Allen Bell, a documentary filmmaker, was a fixture at court hearings and protests over the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in 2010. Back then, he was making a movie called “Not Welcome,” which depicted mosque critics as Southern Christian bigots.

Now he says the mosque is part of a plot to destroy America. He claimed the mosque is “built on a foundation of lies” in a recent op-ed piece at the anti-Islam site Jihadwatch.com.

“I want to communicate that the biggest threat to human rights is Islam,” he said in a recent phone interview.

Mosque supporters feel betrayed by Bell. They wonder if he was a fraud or has been paid off by anti-Muslim groups.

“Only a hired gun would switch sides like this,” said Jace Short of the group Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom.

Man who used Web site to “warn” ‘South Park’ creators sentenced to nearly 12 years

One of the men who had issued “warnings” to the creators of Comedy Central’s “South Park” back in 2010 — saying they risked death if they showed the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume — has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison.

Jesse Curtis Morton founded the now-defunct Revolution Muslim Website which he and another defendant, Zachary Chesser, used to deliver threats against Matt Stone and Trey Parker over their show’s 200th and 201st episodes, in which viewers were led to believe Muhammad was disguised in a bear suit — only it turned out to be Saint Nicholas in the costume

Comedy Central censored the episodes when they were telecast in April of 2010, clumsily wiping out the cartoon bear-suited Santa Claus from its scenes. This, in turn, caused Stone and Parker to issue an angry statement complaining of the censorship, which the Viacom-network did after Chesser and Morton posted that the cartoon satirists would likely be killed for their depiction (or not) of Muhammad.

Prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said Morton’s stiff sentence was necessary because his site inspired a variety of would-be jihadis, including “Jihad Jane” Colleen LaRose; Antonio Benjamin Martinez, who plotted to bomb a military recruiting station; and Jose Pimental, who plotted to assassinate members of the U.S. military returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the AP added.

Agent: Chemicals, other bomb-making material found in Saudi man’s apartment

AMARILLO, Texas — Federal agents who searched the Texas apartment of a Saudi man accused of gathering materials to make a bomb found sulfuric acid and nitric acid, among other things, an FBI agent testified Friday.

During the first day of testimony in the trial of Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, Special Agent Aaron Covey walked jurors through the 22-year-old former chemical engineering student’s apartment in West Texas using photos taken hours after Aldawsari’s Feb. 23, 2011, arrest. Prosecutors contend Aldawsari gathered bomb components with the goal of targeting sites across the U.S.

Prosecutors presented more than 80 exhibits Friday, many of them photos that gave jurors a first look at Aldawsari’s sparsely furnished apartment near Texas Tech University.

Aldawsari came to the U.S. in October 2008 from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to study chemical engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. He transferred in early 2011 to nearby South Plains College, where he was studying business. A Saudi industrial company, which was not identified in court documents, paid his tuition and living expenses.

In his opening statement earlier Friday, Cogdell called his client a failure who never presented a true threat.

Court documents say Aldawsari wrote in Arabic in his journal that he had been planning a terror attack in the U.S. even before he came to the country on a scholarship, and that it was “time for jihad,” or holy war. He bemoaned the plight of Muslims and said he was influenced by Osama bin Laden’s speeches.

FBI bomb experts have said they believe Aldawsari had sufficient components to produce almost 15 pounds of explosive — about the same amount used per bomb in the London subway attacks that killed scores of people in July 2005.

Texas Man Is Accused of Threatening Tennessee Mosque

A Texas man was indicted Thursday, accused of threatening to use violence to stop construction of a mosque that for two years has divided the community of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and has become a national barometer of anti-Muslim sentiment. The United States Justice Department said the indictment was an aggressive stance in support of religious freedom and was intended as a warning to people who might resort to violence and other illegal activity to prevent the mosque or any other religious institution to operate.

“What we’re hoping is that this sends a very strong message to any would-be individual who would threaten a mosque or take an action that would result in an individual’s constitutional rights being violated,” United States Attorney Jerry Martin said Thursday afternoon.

A federal grand jury indicted Javier A. Correa, 24, of Corpus Christi, Tex., accusing him of violating the civil rights of members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in connection with a long, threatening message he is said to have left on the center’s phone last September.

The Justice Department has been investigating threats and violence against the Islamic community in Murfreesboro, which is about a half-hour southeast of Nashville, for almost two years. Leaders of the congregation have been building a 12,000-square-foot mosque and community center, hoping to open it before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins at the end of July.

Since the project began, the site has been repeatedly vandalized, construction equipment has been set on fire and residents have tried to block the project in court. The F.B.I. and other federal agencies are investigating a 2010 fire as a possible hate crime.

GOP Rep. King defends hearings on Muslim radicalization, terrorism ties

WASHINGTON — House lawmakers split along party lines at a hearing Wednesday (June 20) meant to gauge Muslim responses to earlier hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.

Testimony by four witnesses was overshadowed by Republicans who defended the four prior hearings and Democrats who questioned whether they were misguided or actually harmful to Muslim Americans.

Short on new data but long on rhetoric, lawmakers argued both sides of the same statistics and relied heavily on anecdotes.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are outstanding Americans, yet the reality is that the Islamist terror threat comes from the community,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, the ranking Democratic member, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said he hoped the hearings did not increase hate crimes or religious profiling, and worried that America’s image abroad is of a nation at war with Islam.

GOP Rep. Peter King on Wednesday defended hearings on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims and how that potentially leads to terrorism – amid continued arguments about the need and appropriateness of such hearings.

The meeting was the fifth such for the House Committee on Homeland Security — led by the New York congressman and created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Additional information on the Millatu Ibrahim group

June 15

 

Millatu Ibrahim defines itself as Takfiri, a radical interpret of Islam. Basic information retrieved from blog-pages describe the Millatu Ibrahim group call Muslims to witness Allah in front of the public with the “Shuhahda” and distance themselves from any other unbeliever “Kufr” in order to be on the “safe side” of Islam.

 

Denis Cuspert (36) alias Deso Dogg alias Abu Talha Al-Almani started is public activity as a “Gangster Rapper”. His songs are about violence and crime among youth in German cities. He was born and raised in Berlin by his German mother as his father, who was from Ghana left the family when Cuspert was a baby. Cuspert had a difficult childhood: he was often in conflict with his stepfather, a former American Army soldier and strict disciplinarian. He was sent to a home for difficult children and returned after five years. He experienced racism at school and begun to participate at demonstrations against the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war in 2003. Having joined Turkish and Arab youth gangs in Berlin, he committed crimes for which he was sentenced to prison.

 

Cuspert became a known figure in the socially problematic areas of Berlin. His “nasheeds” (Islamic vocal songs) praising Al Qaeda’s late leader, Osama bin Laden (“Your name flows in our blood”), or the Taliban leader Mullah Omar have made him a high ranked rapper in the Jihadi scene. In 2011, he was prosecuted for possessing illegal weapons and ordered to pay a fine.

 

Recently, Cuspert has left Berlin for Bonn, calling the city a “lost case”. Little is known about Cuspert’s real motivation to move. Commentators speculate that the reason is the increasing authorities’ pressure after the release of his hate, violence-praising “nasheeds” in May 2012.

 

Cuspert is believed to have inspired the self-radicalized Arid Uka, who shot two American airmen at the Frankfurt airport in March 2011. His “nasheeds” would “incite violence and unrest through inflammatory videos and fiery speeches that praise terrorists and attack the West”.

 

Mohamed Mahmoud (27), also known as Abu Usama al-Gharib, was born in Vienna, Austria. His father was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and asked for political asylum in Austria. Mahmoud joined an Al Qaeda training camp in Iraq in 2003 and founded the youth organization “Islamic youth in Austria”.

 

After moving to Berlin, he was sentenced to four years prison for hate speech and activities in terrorist and criminal organizations. Already during his time in prison, Mahmoud was in contact with Cuspert. They became closer after that Mahmoud was released in September 2011. In the same period, Mahmoud moved from Berlin to Solingen and became the dominant Imam of the local “Millatu Ibrahim mosque”.  Mahmoud and Cuspert have been regarded as “online pioneers” of the German Jihadi scene, providing Islamists with an entertaining and heterogeneous platform to interact on.

Muslim Speaker causes controversy in the University of York

19 June 2012

 

A controversy sparked when the University of York’s Islamic Society invited Yusuf Chambers last week to speak at their event entitled ‘Patience, Perseverance and the Final Exam’. The event was criticised by Stand for Peace, one of Britain’s leading Jewish-Muslim interfaith organisations, for Chambers anti-homosexual views that he had expressed earlier.

 

Chamber’s speak was postponed briefly by the University due to technical issues but University later allowed the event to go ahead due to their commitment to free speech.

A Muslim couple is being tried under terrorism charges

20 June 2012

 

Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, and his wife Shasta, 38 have been arrested for terrorism offences in Manchester. They had been preparing a bomb to attack on Jewish targets in Manchester. After a domestic quarrel the police were called to their house. They then discovered the intention of the couple and arrested them. Muhammad Sajid Khan has already pleaded guilty to terrorism offences but his wife has denied any involvement. The trial is continuing.

16 British Muslims are travelling to Bosnia as part of a charity project

22 June 2012

 

Made in UK, a London based charity is taking 16 young Muslim volunteer a month-long programme to Bosnia & Herzegovina. They are travelling to the region to live and work with families around Srebrenica.

 

The programme aims to revive the concept of a journey as an act of learning and enrichment, while providing volunteers with valuable experience of life in a region that is recovering from brutal conflict.