Unity Walk celebrates all faiths in remembrance of 9/11

A microphone reverberated with the deep and sonorous Muslim call to prayer shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. “Allaaaaaah — uh — Akbar!” An entire congregation bowed its head in prayer — a Jewish synagogue filled with Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Pentecostals, Greek Orthodox, Baha’i and others.

On Sunday, days before the nation commemorates the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and as a bitterly divided Congress and country debate whether to authorize missile strikes against another Middle Eastern country, hundreds of Washingtonians gathered for the ninth annual 9/11 Unity Walk, seeking to find what people of different faiths share in common rather than what divides them.

Throughout the afternoon, Christians learned to chant with Hare Krishnas, carefully holding laminated mantras on their laps. Sikhs gave turban-tying demonstrations. Others practiced yoga and tai chi or danced in peace circles. The faithful or the plain curious could help the poor by bagging potatoes at St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox church or making trail mix at the Embassy of the Vatican, open to walkers for the first time in honor of Pope Francis and his dedication to the poor.

A Syrian American who would only give his name as Wasim out of fear for his family still in that country, said he would never have imagined as a boy that he would be so comfortable in a synagogue, praying for peace, for an end to war, for President Obama not to drop bombs on his country, with others of so many different faiths.

It was that spirit, he said, that drew him to the Unity Walk. So often, religion is about converting other souls to the “One True Faith,” about destroying others who don’t believe the same things you do.

 

Boston Marathon bombing suspects met 9/11 conspiracy theorist through mom’s health aide job

BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev befriended a brain-damaged anti-U.S. government conspiracy theorist through their mother’s health care aide job years before the deadly attack, a lawyer said Tuesday.

 

Attorney Jason Rosenberg, who represents the family of Donald Larking, said Larking shared publications with the brothers and discussed theories including that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting didn’t happen or the U.S. government was behind them.

 

The attorney said the Tsarnaev family had a relationship with the Larkings that started years ago when the brothers’ mother began working as a personal care assistant for Larking’s wife, a quadriplegic since birth.

 

Rosenberg said Larking, who lives in West Newton, just west of Boston, was shot in the head in 1974 in an attempted robbery while working in a convenience store. He said Larking suffered brain damage that led to problems with his decision-making and judgment.

 

The lawyer’s account first emerged in a Wall Street Journal article, which included Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s former landlady talking about publications that had been in his Cambridge apartment.

Landlady Joanna Herlihy told The Associated Press she salvaged publications after authorities had searched the apartment and items were discarded. She confirmed that among them were an Alabama-based publication that uses a Confederate flag on its website and a weekly publication that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls anti-Semitic.

 

Rosenberg said Tuesday he doesn’t think Larking helped the Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, formulate ideas but may have made them believe others felt as they did.

 

“(They) were seeing someone who was Caucasian and was born in America who was saying the same things,” the attorney said.

The brothers took Larking to their mosque, and he converted to Islam and still attends the mosque, Rosenberg said.

New Book: Why the West Fears Islam – An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies

Why the West Fears Islam flyer finalWhy the West Fears Islam
An Exploration of Muslims in Liberal Democracies

Jocelyne Cesari

Paperback Aug 2013 – 9781403969538
Hardback Aug 2013 – 9781403969804

About the book
Are Muslims threatening the core values of the West?

Jocelyne Cesari responds to this question by presenting testimonies from Muslims in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States. Her book is an unprecedented exploration of Muslim religious and political life based on several years of field work in Europe and in the United States. It provides original insights into the ways Muslims act as believers and citizens and into the specifics of western liberalism  and secularism, particularly after 9/11. It shows how the visibility of Islam in secular spaces triggers  western politics of fear. Its unique interdisciplinary scope allows for an in depth analysis of data polls, political discourses as well as first hand interviews, and focus groups with Muslims.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Shari’a, Burqa, and Minarets: What Is the Problem With Muslims in the West? An Exploration of Islam in Liberal

  1. Muslims As the Internal and External Enemy
  2. Islam: Between Personal and Social Identity Markers
  3. Multiple Communities of Allegiance: How Do Muslims Say ‘We’?
  4. Religiosity, Political Participation, and Civic Engagement
  5. Securitization of Islam in Europe: The Embodiment of Islam As an Exception
  6. How Islam Questions the Universalism of Western Secularism
  7. Salafization of Islamic Norms and Its Influence on the Externalization of Islam

Conclusion: Naked Public Spheres: Islam within Liberal and Secular Democracies

 

About the Author

Jocelyne Cesari, is a political scientist, specializing in contemporary Islamic societies,
globalization and democratization. She is Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center
for Peace, Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown University. At Harvard University,
she directs the international research program called “Islam in the West.” She has written
numerous articles and books on Islam, Globalization, Democratization and Secularism in
Western and Muslim-majority contexts.
Her most recent publications include Encyclopedia of Islam in the United States (2007),
Muslims in the West After 9/11: Religion, Politics and Law (2010), The Awakening of
Muslim Democracy: Religion, Modernity and the State (2013).

Praise for the book:

“This book is an eye-opener that denies all sides the luxury of willful ignorance or
unchallenged ideological projection. Bold, sophisticated and almost embarrassingly
informative, Jocelyne Cesari’s effort is certain to elevate the discourse around one of the
most important relationships of our time: that between Muslims and their Western
compatriots.” – Sherman A. Jackson, King Faisal Chair of Islamic Thought and Culture, The
University of Southern California, and author of Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking
Towards the Third Resurrection

Half of Britain’s mosques have been attacked since 9/11

Around half of mosques and Muslim centres in Britain have been subjected to Islamophobic attacks since 9/11, academics have warned as the far-right English Defence League prepares to march to the south-London scene of Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder. The figures are highlighted in a report which also found that the number of anti-Islamic attacks increased by as much as tenfold in the days following the Woolwich attack.

 

Despite the warning signs, a senior Government adviser told The Independent that there remains a “lack of political will” to take on the rise of Islamophobic attacks in Britain. The adviser, who did not want to be named, said that attempts to “tackle this issue – even before Woolwich – struggled to attract buy-in,” with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, identified as the primary source of frustration.

 

Professor Nigel Copsey, of Teesside University, the author of the new report which showed that between 40 and 60 per cent of mosques and other Islamic centres (around 700) had been targeted since 9/11 – said: “There has undoubtedly been a spike in anti-Muslim incidents since the Woolwich murder. An obvious concern now is whether the number of hate crime incidents return to ‘normal’ levels or whether Woolwich has been a game-changer in terms of increasing the underlying incidence of anti-Muslim hate over the longer term.”

 

But Dr Matthew Goodwin, associate fellow at Chatham House and an expert on extremist groups said that “the broader picture is more positive than we think. Young people are more at ease accepting Muslims in society.” A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “There is no place for anti-Muslim hatred or any kind of hatred in Britain, and we are committed to tackling this unacceptable scourge.”

Pentagon: 9/11 ‘mastermind’ did not get henna or other dye to color his beard at Guantanamo

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The Pentagon has given a partial explanation to a Guantanamo mystery: How the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks managed to dye his beard.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s bushy grey beard has been colored a rusty orange during court appearances. Spectators had assumed he used henna, which is used by some Muslims as a hair dye.

A Pentagon spokesman says Mohammed used “natural means,” such as juice from berries that he receives in his meals. Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said Tuesday that Mohammed did not receive any “outside” means to color his beard.

Mohammed is kept under such heavy security that his lawyers can’t even reveal routine conversations with their client.

He is charged with four other prisoners with aiding and planning the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Lawmakers divided on post-9/11 program that collected info on Americans, not terrorists

WASHINGTON — Stinging criticism from Congress about a counterterrorism effort that improperly collected information about innocent Americans is turning up the heat on the Obama administration to justify the program’s continued existence and putting lawmakers who championed it on the defensive.

The administration strongly disagrees with the report’s findings, and leaders of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee are distancing themselves from the report. The review criticized the multibillion-dollar network of “fusion centers” as ineffective in fighting terrorism and risky to civil liberties.

The intelligence reports reviewed by the subcommittee were produced by officials in the Homeland Security Department’s Intelligence and Analysis division, which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks with the hope of connecting the dots to prevent the next terrorist strike. This division has never lived up to what Congress initially hoped for.

Though fusion centers receive money from the federal government, they are operated independently. A federal law co-sponsored by Lieberman and Collins authorized that centers cover criminal or terrorist activity.

Five years later, Senate investigators found, terrorism is often a secondary focus.

The report is as much an indictment of Congress as it is the Homeland Security Department.

One of the report’s recommendations is that the department needs to do a better job of tracking how its money is spent; that’s a recommendation with which both Collins and Lieberman agree.

Despite that, Congress is unlikely to pull the plug because the program means politically important money for state and local governments, and Homeland Security officials are adamant that the money is well spent.

Citizen Held After 9/11 Wins Right to Be Tried

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that the United States, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, wrongly imprisoned an American under a law designed to keep trial witnesses from fleeing and that since there was evidence that the government may have willfully misused the law against him, his case should go to trial.

Judge Edward J. Lodge, who was appointed by President George Bush, issued his rulings late on Thursday in the longstanding case of Abdullah al-Kidd, an American who was seized at an airport in 2003, imprisoned for 16 days, repeatedly strip-searched and left naked in his cell. The Justice Department had sought to have his trial request summarily dismissed and denied having misused the law in detaining him.

Mr. Kidd’s lawyer, Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the ruling, saying, “It will finally put the government on trial for its post-Sept. 11 practices.”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The department could appeal the decision or seek a settlement with Mr. Kidd.

Judge Lodge’s ruling affirms a June decision by United States Magistrate Mikel Williams that stated: “The circumstantial evidence supports the inference that al-Kidd may have been detained for reasons in addition to securing his testimony at trial.”

Magistrate Williams, who granted the Federal Bureau of Investigation the warrant to arrest Mr. Kidd while he was at Dulles Airport outside Washington on his way to Saudi Arabia in 2003, also said that the information given to him to justify the arrest was misleading. He was told that Mr. Kidd had a first-class one-way ticket and had received more than $20,000 from Mr. Hussayen. In fact, Mr. Kidd had an economy-class round-trip ticket, and the payment was salary for work he had done for Mr. Hussayen’s company.

In addition, the F.B.I. agent failed to mention that Mr. Kidd was a citizen, born and raised here, that his wife and son and many family members were in the United States and that he had never failed to cooperate with the F.B.I. Mr. Kidd was on his way to Saudi Arabia to work on his doctorate in Islamic studies, not to escape trial testimony.

Fewest Numbers of Americans Concerned about Terrorism since 9/11

Findings from the 2012 Chicago Council Survey of American Public Opinion

September 10, 2012 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fewer Americans are concerned about international terrorism as a “critical” threat to the United States than at any point since September 11, 2001, according to the 2012 Chicago Council Survey released today. While a majority is still worried, the intensity of concern about terrorism has steadily declined. At the same time, most Americans do not credit the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan with reducing the threat.

The survey report, Foreign Policy in the New Millennium, from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, will be discussed by a panel of experts hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and NPR as part of The National Conversation series. For more information, download the reportwatch a live webcast of the event starting at 12:30 p.m. EST, and follow @ChicagoCouncil and @TheWilsonCenter for live updates.

While Americans consider the Middle East as the greatest source of future threats, they are gradually shifting their foreign policy focus towards Asia and a rising China, viewed as important more for their economic dynamism than as a potential threat. For the first time since the Council first asked the question in 1994, a majority of Americans (52%) see Asia as more important to the United States than Europe (47%).

The 2012 Chicago Council Survey finds that the views of “Millennials”—those between the ages of 18 and 29—are shifting in a more pronounced way than those of older Americans. They see the world as less threatening, and show less concern than other age groups about international terrorism (see figure), Islamic fundamentalism, and the development of China as a world power. Millennials also favor a less activist approach to foreign policy, with a slight majority (52%) saying the United States should “stay out” of world affairs, compared to just 35 percent among older age groups.

When looking at partisan differences, the 2012 Chicago Council Survey finds that political polarization on many aspects of U.S. foreign policy is overstated. Opinions in “red” and “blue” districts overall are similar. While the parties often differ in degree, there is generally consensus among the majorities. Independents, however, distance themselves from both Republicans and Democrats. They are less likely than both to support an active U.S. role in global affairs and less likely to view U.S. leadership as “very” desirable.

Other key findings of the 2012 Chicago Council Survey include:

•         Just over half (54%) support an attack by U.S. ground troops against terrorist training camps and facilities, down from 82 percent in 2002.

•         Majorities oppose the UN authorizing a strike on Iran (51% opposed), oppose a unilateral U.S. strike on Iran (70% opposed), and do not want to get involved in a potential Iran-Israel war (59% opposed).

•         To deal with the crisis in Syria, majorities of Americans support diplomatic and economic sanctions (63%) as well as a no-fly zone in Syria (58%).

More than 1,800 Americans were surveyed for the 2012 Chicago Council Survey.  The 2012 Chicago Council Survey was made possible by generous support from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Korea Foundation, and the United States-Japan Foundation.

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, founded in 1922, is a prominent, independent and nonpartisan organization committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning.  The Chicago Council has been conducting nationwide public opinion surveys on American views on foreign policy since 1974.  These surveys provide insights into the current and long-term foreign policy attitudes of the American public on a wide range of global topics.

Was There Really a Post-9/11 Backlash Against Muslims?

Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin complains that “most of the mainstream media still takes it as a given that there is an ongoing and brutal post-9/11 backlash against Muslims in America that fuels discrimination against followers of Islam.” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the backlash characterized as “brutal” in the mainstream media, or that anyone has bothered to actually quantify media coverage on the subject. It would be helpful to have links to the specific coverage Tobin is complaining about. But I am among those who thinks that Muslims face both informal prejudice and are discriminated against by the state, while Tobin says “there is virtually no evidence for this assertion and much empirical data to argue for the opposite conclusion.”

He goes on to cite census data showing that the number of Muslims in America is growing, up 1.6 million in the 10-year period that ended in 2010. “Is it possible or even likely that Islam would be thriving in the United States if it were not a society that is welcoming Muslims with open arms and providing a safe environment for people to openly practice this faith?” he asks. “The answer is an obvious no.” Before concluding he offers three additional arguments to consider:

  • “Every new survey about American society continues to show there are no obstacles to Muslim advancement or systematic ill treatment.”
  • “Those who make these false claims argue that law enforcement activities seeking to root out Islamist support for terrorism either abroad or at home constitutes a form of discrimination. But such actions, such as the New York Police Department’s surveillance of mosques or community centers where Islamists have congregated, are reasonable reactions to a real threat that deserves the attention of the authorities, not the product of arbitrary bias. Nor do they threaten the vast majority of Muslims who are hard working, law-abiding citizens.”

“America is not perfect, but it is a far safer place to practice Islam, or any other faith, than almost all Muslim countries, where religious-based discrimination is commonplace and dissent is ruthlessly wiped out. The backlash myth may die hard, but it remains a myth.”

Accused 9/11 plotters to appear in Guantanamo Bay court

Early Saturday morning in a courtroom inside the highly guarded detainee prison at the U.S. Naval Base at  Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, five of the alleged top plotters in the Sept. 11 attacks will speak for the first time under a new Obama administration plan to hold them accountable under military tribunals for the worst terrorist strikes in America.

It will be a test for the prisoners, including alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, of whether to plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment hearing — and whether to use the occasion as a platform to denounce the United States and call for more terrorist attacks around the world.

But in a larger sense the hearing, which kicks off the long-awaited military trial of the so-called Gitmo 5, will be a test of Obama himself, who in 2008 pledged to close the island prison and to try the five defendants in a civilian courtroom setting. He was unsuccessful on both counts. Now, what unfolds in Cuba over the next several months could weigh heavily on the upcoming presidential campaign.