McConnell: We don’t have religious tests in this country

Several top Senate Republicans raised concerns Sunday that President Trump’s order to halt the admission of refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries had not been properly vetted and could harm the relationship between the United States and key allies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cautioned that the United States does not have a religious test for entry into the country, though he stopped short of rejecting the order in its entirety. McConnell said that Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, are key allies in the fight against terrorism and urged caution in regard to Trump’s plan to implement “extreme vetting” for refugees from countries where a majority of the citizens are Muslim.

“I don’t want to criticize them for improving vetting,” McConnell said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think we need to be careful. We don’t have religious tests in this country.”

ABC Family Drops Alice in Arabia Pilot After Complaints from Muslim Groups

March 22, 2014

 

ABC Family recently ordered a pilot of a potential new series called Alice in Arabia, about an American teenager who’s kidnapped and kept as a prisoner at a distant relative’s home in Saudi Arabia. The pilot script was written by Brooke Eikmeier, who previously worked as a cryptologic linguist in Arabic while serving in the U.S. army, but it came under intense fire from Muslim advocacy groups for concerns it would paint unfair, broad stereotypes of the Muslim faith.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations panned a leaked copy of the script, with its “familiar narrative of a beautiful girl kidnapped from the United States by sinister Arabs, held against her will in the desert, and threatened with early marriage.”

And now ABC Family has officially shelved the pilot for good. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee touted the victory against a show that “perpetuates demeaning stereotypes” about Muslim individuals, and used the opportunity to highlight other issues they believe ABC should be addressing as well.

Mediaite.com: http://www.mediaite.com/tv/abc-family-drops-alice-in-arabia-pilot-after-complaints-from-muslim-groups/

Jersey City Islamic center fire under investigation

March 1, 2014

 

JERSEY CITY (WABC) — Authorities are trying to find out what caused a fire Friday morning at an Islamic center in Jersey City.
The blaze caused extensive water and fire damage at the Al Tawheed Islamic Center.
“All the rooms inside, everything and the roof, too, its big damage,” said Mohamed Osman, a mosque member.
It was around 5:30 a.m. Friday when flames and smoke were shooting through the roof of the mosque on Westside Avenue as several people were showing up for morning prayer.
Bilal Arshad never made it inside.
“All that smoke came in my face; I went away from the door. It was just, way too much to handle,” Arshad said.
By late morning, members of the mosque’s executive board made other arrangements for their midday prayer service.
It was held at the armory in Jersey City.
Investigators are now trying to figure out just how the fire began.
“My investigators have not given me any indication that they’re comfortable where it started yet, but we will, wherever it started, we will find out,” said Jim Shea, Jersey City Public Safety Director.
No one was injured in the blaze, which reached three-alarms. The structure was destroyed.
Firefighters were working in extreme cold conditions which caused water to freeze.

ABC: http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_jersey&id=9448408

Beauty Pageants Draw Social Media Critics

“Miss America victory marred by racist slurs.” — Time, Sept. 16

Not since so-called “bra-burning” protests upended the 1968 Miss America contest have beauty pageants attracted so much controversy.

 

Last Sunday, the Miss America pageant crowned a 24-year-old of Indian descent, Nina Davuluri from Syracuse, which was seen as a sign of cultural progress until racist messages popped up on Twitter.

 

Those who had written off pageants as anachronisms of the tail-fin era suddenly found that the swimsuit-in-heels rituals were back in the cultural-wars cross-fire.

 

In the case of Miss America, no sooner had the glimmering crown been placed on Ms. Davuluri than the furor erupted.

 

 

 

 

“Congratulations Al Qaeda,” tweeted one user, @Blayne_MkItRain (the account has since been deleted). “Our Miss America is one of you.”

 

Bloggers were quickly compiling lists of the most inflammatory tweets, including a Buzzfeed listicle that generated more than five million views.

 

“Idiot racists got so mad, they started mixing up Indian, Indian-American, Arab, Muslim, and everything in between,” wrote Laura Beck on Jezebel, summarizing a collection of hate-tweets that she included in her post. “It’s (literarily) a most impressive display of dumb mixed with intolerance and even more stupidity.”

 

The cultural relevance of pageants, it seems, only spikes whenever they can be dragged through the mud.

 

All the chatter on blogs and social media did not seem to hurt the show’s popularity. According to Nielsen, the ABC broadcast of the pageant, which crowned the winner for 2014, had its best ratings in nearly decade: it drew an average of 8.6 million viewers, a 21 percent increase compared with the contest for 2013, which was in January.

Boston implications

Among the most insightful discussions of the Boston bombing case occurred on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. While Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still unable to speak due to his wounds, a number of themes are emerging in the aftermath of the rampage.

First is the startling revelation (for some) that we may have now migrated from large-scale terrorist assaults to al-Qaeda directed assaults to individuals independently radicalized by violent Islamic jihadism. David Remnick, Martha Raddatz, George Stephanopoulos and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, had this exchange:

Indeed, the link connecting lone individuals, jihadist ideology and the decision to engage in terrorist activities is so fine, and largely, invisible to authorities that it poses a huge challenge to national security experts. Such individuals are not in any real sense part of al-Qaeda and so the administration (if that is the pattern here) probably had no choice but to utilize the criminal justice system.

Raddatz summed up:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to be eradicated Martha Raddatz, but it does come at a time when the al Qaeda leadership top to bottom has been pretty well decimated.

My Jihad, Controversial Ad Campaign, Rolls Out On San Francisco Buses

For the second time in recent months, billboards on side of San Francisco’s fleet of buses have become the front lines in a fight over the place of Islam in American popular culture.

A new series of ads from the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ spinoff group My Jihad promote an awareness campaign directed at redefining the widespread conception of the meaning of the controversial word. The advertisements are slated to run on 35 city buses throughout the month of January.

 

“The intention of the campaign is to educate our fellow Americans on what the word ‘jihad’ means,” Zhara Billoo, the executive director of CAIR’s Bay Area chapter, told ABC 7 News. “A common misconception of the world ‘jihad’ is that it means armed struggle or holy war…The proper meaning of jihad, as many of us frequently describe it, is ‘to struggle’ and that’s it…For many that means building relationships with their neighbors to making it to work on time or doing better on their diets.”

 

Billoo explained to The Huffington Post that her organization has seen an rise in anti-Muslim attitudes across the country in the past few years and this campaign is an effort to counter that. “We’re troubled by how the word ‘jihad’ has been hijacked by people who…have made careers out of pushing anti-Muslim sentiment,” she said. “For too long people outside the Muslim community have been telling us what our religion really teaches.”

 

These ads come in the wake of a series of controversial advertisements sponsored by conservative blogger Pamela Gellar’s American Freedom Defense Initiative that ran on buses both in San Francisco and around the country last year. Those ads, which immediately sparked a firestorm and denouements from both local Jewish and Islamic groups, read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man…Support Israel Defeat Jihad.”

 My Jihad

Update: Dutch MP to Receive Australian Visa

2 October 2012

 

Following speculation that anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders would not be permitted to visit Australia, immigration minister Chris Bouwen has announced that a visa will be issued. Bouwen told ABC radio that the visa procedure had taken an extended time period because “we had to find a balance between our freedom of expression and his rather extreme views.”

Anti-Islam Ads Remixed in San Francisco and New York

As my colleague Benjamin Weiser reported last month, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had violated the First Amendment rights of a pro-Israel group by refusing to run an ad that refers to Arabs as “savage” on 318 city buses.

The ad campaign was devised by Pamela Geller, the crusading anti-Islam blogger who fought to block the construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center two summers ago. The full text of the ad, which refers to a statement by Ms. Geller’s intellectual hero Ayn Rand, reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” Then, between two Stars of David, the tag line appears: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

While the judge gave the New York City transit system 30 days to consider its options for appeal, the ads have already appeared on the sides of buses in San Francisco, provoking anger from Muslims and supporters of the Palestinian cause.

As the local ABC affiliate in San Francisco reported, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency took the unusual step of denouncing the ads and running huge disclaimers on the sides of the buses to disavow what a spokesman called the “repulsive” message from Ms. Geller’s group it was forced to accept.

Rock & Roll Jihad Interview of Salman Ahmad on ABC, Oct 3 2010

The British and American governments’ latest weapon in the fight against al Qaeda isn’t a missle or an intricate piece of technology, but a long-haired rocker named Salman Ahmed.

Ahmed is the lead singer of rock band Junoon, a band that is using music to urge students to choose electric guitars over extremism.

Ahmed, who has already reached over 30 million records sold, is arguably the biggest rock star in the Muslim world. But he has a much bigger mission: rock and roll jihad.

The concept is loosely defined by Ahmed as a way of using music to stand up to the violent rhetoric of Islamic terrorists. … [Read More]

Aftermath and Consequences

“On May 1st, New York’s Times Square was the target of a failed terrorist attack. In the extensive coverage of the incident, you will find the timeline of the incident leading to the arrest of the suspect right before he scarped the country. The coverage will also include the news following the arrest, the charges against the suspect and the debate around the suspect’s Miranda rights. It will review some of  the immediate consequences of the incident including debates about the effectiveness of the no-fly list, the heightened security measures in NYC and potential effects of the incident on US foreign policy. International dimensions of the incident in linkage to Pakistani Taliban as well as the coverage by Pakistani sources have also been included. Finally, a collection of links related to the suspect’s background is available.”

USA Today: Pakistani-Americans’ “Worst Fear”
Associated Press via CNN, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal: Questions about the No-Fly List
Associated Press via CNN and The New York Time: On Terror-Watch List Individuals Buying Gun
Associated Press via CNN and MSNBC: Bill aiming at Stripping Certain Americans of Their Citizenship
CNN: Tightening Security Measures at East Coast Airports
Associated Press via The New York Time and La Times: Extra Security Measures
Associated Press via ABC, CBS News, USA Today: Abandoned Truck Forces NYC Bridge Shutdown
Associated Press via ABC 4, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post: Police Investigates a Suspicious Package
MSNBC: Petraeus on the “New Generation of Terror”
Huston Chronicle: Petraeus: Suspect Likely Acted Alone
USA Today: Potential Effects on US Foreign Policy