Al Andalus Brigade (an ISIS supplier) detained in Madrid

June 17, 2014

The Al Andalus Brigade had sent nine ‘fighters’ from Spain and Morocco to be integrated into the terrorist factions in Iraq and Syria. Specifically, had connections with groups from seven other countries. The group, one of the leading suppliers of terrorist organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), had managed to form its own structure and to maintain connections with groups in France, Belgium, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and Syria, as reported by the Ministry of Interior.

The group had significantly increased their activities in recent days, so the researchers considered a serious threat to national security.

Heritage’s ugly Benghazi panel

June 16, 2014

Representatives of prominent conservative groups converged on the Heritage Foundation on Monday afternoon for the umpteenth in a series of gatherings to draw attention to the Benghazi controversy.

But this one took an unexpected turn.

What began as a session purportedly about “unanswered questions” surrounding the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya deteriorated into the ugly taunting of a woman in the room who wore an Islamic head covering.

The session, as usual, quickly moved beyond the specifics of the assaults that left four Americans dead to accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the Obama administration, President Obama funding jihadists in their quest to destroy the United States, Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton attempting to impose Sharia blasphemy laws on Americans and Al Jazeera America being an organ of “enemy propaganda.”

Then Saba Ahmed, an American University law student, stood in the back of the room and asked a question in a soft voice. “We portray Islam and all Muslims as bad, but there’s 1.8 billion followers of Islam,” she told them. “We have 8 million-plus Muslim Americans in this country and I don’t see them represented here.”

Panelist Brigitte Gabriel of a group called ACT! for America pounced. She said “180 million to 300 million” Muslims are “dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization.” She told Ahmed that the “peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and she drew a Hitler comparison: “Most Germans were peaceful, yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million died.”

The panel’s moderator, conservative radio host Chris Plante, grinned and joined in the assault. “Can you tell me who the head of the Muslim peace movement is?” he demanded of Ahmed.

“Yeah,” audience members taunted, “yeah.”

Authorities: NYC man threatened Muslim advocate

June 16, 2014

NEW YORK — A New York City man was charged Monday with sending emails threatening to kill a leader of a Muslim civil rights group. 

The man, Bernhard Laufer, had been expected to appear later Monday in federal court in Brooklyn but instead was taken to the hospital for undisclosed reasons. There was no immediate response to a phone message left with his attorney. 

According to a criminal complaint, Laufer began sending the emails last year to the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group identified the recipient as its national executive director, Nihad Awad. 

Laufer, 56, was already facing attempted murder charges alleging he stabbed a man at a Queens mosque in 2012 while yelling, “I will kill you Muslim.” He was out on $200,000 bail when he sent an email accusing the Muslim group of framing him, warning, “CAIR will now be destroyed,” court papers say. 

In a statement, CAIR called the case “another incident demonstrating the actual, imminent harm that can result from Islamophobia.” 

Got religion on campus? Leave it off your resume

June 16, 2014

Recent college grads, take note: Mentioning a campus religion group on your resume — particularly a Muslim club — may lead to significantly fewer job opportunities.

Two new sociology studies find new graduates who included a religious mention on a resume were much less likely to hear back from potential employers.
The studies used fictitious resumes — with bland names that signaled no particular race or ethnicity. These were sent to employers who posted on the CareerBuilder website to fill entry-level job openings in sales, information technology and other fields suitable for first jobs out of college.

The researchers tested seven religious categories including: Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, and one faith they just made up, “Wallonian,” to see what would happen compared to people who made no faith reference.

Muslims faced the sharpest discrimination with 38 percent fewer emails and 54 percent fewer phone calls to the voice mailboxes set up by the researchers.
In New England, 6,400 applications were sent to 1,600 job postings by employers. But applications mentioning any religious tie were 24 percent less likely to get a phone call, according to the study published in Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.

Again, Muslims bore the brunt of discrimination, receiving 32 percent fewer emails and 48 percent fewer phone calls. Catholics were 29 percent less likely to get a call and pagans were 27 percent less likely — slightly better than the “Wallonian” applicants.

The Halal Guys: Cashing In on Street Cred

June 13, 2014

One recent evening, Mr. Hegazy, 54, wearing a traditional kufi, sat with a coffee at one of his regular tables, with two Halal Guys carts within sight across the way. He will sometimes sit there late into the night. “To watch the guys,” he said, gesturing to the scene.

To proudly illustrate a story about the Halal Guys being the first halal cart to secure a trademark, he made a fast phone call in Arabic; moments later, a boyish-looking young man appeared at the table with a takeout bag bearing the logo as proof.

Before Mr. Hegazy arrives in the evenings, cart workers have been known to set out cones to secure him a parking spot on Sixth Avenue. The Halal Guys know how to work the street.

But things are about to change for the Guys. More than a decade after three Egyptian men switched from selling hot dogs from their Midtown cart to serving halal food to Muslim cabdrivers, the Halal Guys are about to become a fast-food chain. The company — founded by Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed — signed a deal with Fransmart, the restaurant franchise consulting firm that took Five Guys Burgers and Fries from four locations in Northern Virginia and helped turn it into a chain with more than 1,200 stores and more than $1 billion in sales last year. Qdoba, a Mexican food chain, is Fransmart’s other success story.

Within a year Fransmart hopes to open Halal Guys outlets in Los Angeles, along the East Coast, across Canada and in the Middle East. The five-year plan is for 100 locations, as well as a presence in Europe.

An early glimpse at what a Halal Guys franchise might look like will come next month when the first shop opens on 14th Street, just off Second Avenue. A second location is planned to open near Columbia University’s campus in the fall.

Zach Brooks, the founder of Midtownlunch.com, a popular blog that has chronicled the city’s street-food scene since 2006, has followed the Halal Guys for years. “Those carts probably pull in a couple hundred grand a year,” he said. “But I don’t want to sound like an idiot. They could be making a million bucks.”
As to why the brand has become so strong, appearing on the to-do lists of tourists and standing above countless imitators, that, too, is something of a mystery. Maybe, Mr. Brooks suggested, the Halal Guys used better meat? Maybe it was the white sauce that is slathered over everything? Maybe it’s because people can’t remember a time when they weren’t there?

New Mexico Iraqi woman hurt in possible hate crime

June 13, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Iraqi Catholic refugee who was assaulted in her Albuquerque apartment appears to be the victim of a hate crime by an attacker who yelled obscenities about Muslims, police said.

According to Albuquerque police, a man last week forced his way into the home of Seham Jaber, shouting nasty remarks about Muslims and punching her in the head and stomach. The intruder then tore up her family’s citizenship papers in the June 5 attack, investigators said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” Albuquerque police spokesman Simon Drobik said.

Jaber, who speaks Arabic, told police the unknown assailant also stole at least $20,000 in gold, which represented her family’s life savings. The assailant also stole jewelry, she said.

The FBI now is investigating the case as a possible federal hate crime, Albuquerque police said Friday.

Md. faith groups to protest anti-Muslim Metro bus ads

June 9, 2014

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – Members of Montgomery County faith groups plan to protest anti-Islamic Metro bus ads Monday in Rockville.
The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group (FCWG) – which includes members of the local Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian faith communities – issued a statement saying they are “deeply saddened by the placement of anti-Muslim ads on buses owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).”

The ads include photos of Adolf Hitler meeting with an anti-Jewish Islamic leader during World War II, and call for an end to American aid to Islamic countries.

The ads, placed by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, started appearing in May on 20 Metro buses in the D.C. Metro area.

The group previously ran ads on Metro buses in 2012 which were similar in nature, equating Muslims to “savages” and calling for support to Israel.

Metro originally declined to run the ads, so the American Freedom Defense Initiative sued for the right to place the ads. A federal judge ruled that Metro must run the ads, citing freedom of speech.

Monday’s protest will begin at 10:30 a.m. near the Rockville Metro station, at 1 Church Street near the intersection of Route 355.

British Social Attitudes 31 (2014 edition) full report

British Social Attitudes 31 (2014 edition) [FULL REPORT PDF DOWNLOAD]

British Social Attitudes 31 (2014 edition)
British Social Attitudes 31 (2014 edition)

Each year NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey asks over 3,000 people what it’s like to live in Britain and what they think about how Britain is run.

Since 1983 we’ve been measuring and tracking changes in people’s social, political and moral attitudes.

The survey is a critical gauge of public opinion, and is used by the Government, journalists, opinion formers and academics.

 

More on the report is available here: http://www.bsa-31.natcen.ac.uk/

Prisons: the trap of radical Islam

June 8, 2014

In recent weeks the story of Mehdi Nemmouche, suspected of killing three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, has made international headlines. His chilling story illustrates the “plague of radical Islam in prison.” As a child, Nemmouche grew up in a chaotic household and was a repeated offender at a young age–jailed five times for robbery. It was during his last incarceration from 2007 to 2012 that he became associated with Salafis. Pinned as a “thug turned terrorist,” by Bernard Cazeneuve, Nemmouche acted on his transformation when he was released from his last prison term.

Prosecutor François Moins says that Nemmouche transferred prisons in March 2011 for security reasons. His character was “illustrated by extreme proselytizing, [he was] a member of a group of extremely radical Islamists, and frequently called others to prayer.” During his time in prison Nemmouche wrote to support groups for Muslim prisoners to gather information about the obligation of Muslim women to wear headscarves and to understand how Muslim men should trim their beards.

Le Figaro reports that in 2014, approximately 150 Muslim extremists attempted to indoctrinate their fellow detainees with radical beliefs. This number has barely changed since 2008, when a confidential report was released that mentioned 147 instances of proselytizing by radical Muslims. Le Figaro states that “clearly, the same ‘strong core’ is still fanning the flame of jihad at the heart of the incarcerated population that is composed, for the most part, of Muslims.” According to experts this number “approaches sixty or seventy percent in prisons in the banlieues.”

For religious extremists, prisons are especially conducive to promoting radicalism. They are overpopulated and often filled with young people with “shattered futures” seeking attention. Despite this, there are few resources available to combat the growing problem. The prison administration has developed an informational bureau, EMS-3, which is charged with monitoring the most dangerous inmates. The bureau is not permitted to monitor prisoners’ phone calls, and instead is “forced to tinker with the methods at hand to accomplish their missions.”

The EMS-3 has called on imams to stop the spread of radical Islam in prisons. There are 167 imams at the bureau’s disposal but according to sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, the EMS-3 needs “three times that much” to counteract the influence of extremist groups. “For the moment, too many imams still have an outdated view of Islam and don’t understand the experience of young people coming from the ghettos…A number of imams refuse to intervene in prison, on the grounds that the detainees are bad Muslims…”

The government is currently considering a “counter-discourse” that is used by moderate preachers whose availability is limited. According to a survey by Ifop-Atlantico, 76% of Frenchmen fear acts of terrorism by individual jihadists. At the end of June, Bernard Cazeneuve will present new measures aimed at strengthening special services to counteract the spread of radical Islam in prisons. Cazeneuve stresses that the need for such services increases as a growing number of Frenchmen are returning from fighting in Syria.

French Muslims mobilize against religious fanaticism

June 5, 2014

In the midst of the “Mehdi Nemmouche case,” the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM) published a “Citizens’ agreement of French Muslims” which condemns violence, lists the community’s goals and intends to clarify its place in France’s secular society. The agreement’s ninth article states: “Muslims in their entirety reject violence and do whatever is in their power to prevent young people from succumbing to the deleterious messages that encourage violence and fanaticism.”

Dalil Boubakeur, the CFCM’s president stated, “we have worked on these principles for several months, this agreement is not a product of the current situation and the events that are happening.” However, in light of the current tension surrounding Islam’s place in France, Boubakeur highlighted the current need to “distinguish the difference between what is good for our community and what is harmful.”

The text reaffirms that that “the word ‘jihad’ signifies in particular an individual’s inner fight and effort,” which assumes a “spiritual dimension, consisting of one’s best attempt to do good.”

The agreement’s first segment highlights the place of Muslims within French society. The CFCM underscores its commitment to France’s secular nature and its opposition to the full veil worn by some Muslim women.

In the second segment, dedicated to “the goals of French Muslims,” the text outlines the development of Islamophobia in France and stresses that the issue “concerns everyone.” The agreement underscores the importance of chaplaincies, especially those in prisons,that should “prevent and control all radicalism through religious education.”

The CFCM intends to present its text to the French authorities, however the agreement does not represent an initiative that is unanimously supported by all Muslim leaders in France. Since its establishment the council has been plagued by internal disputes linked to the leaders’ countries of origin (notably Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). The CFCM represents a small fragment of over three thousand religious organizations and the five million Muslims currently living in France.