New York City public school kids getting new Muslim, Lunar New Year holidays

February 4, 2014


Mayor de Blasio said Monday that he’d move forward with closing schools for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, two Muslim holy days, and for Lunar New Year. But he was hesitant regarding Hindu festival Diwali.

Appearing on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, the mayor said he hadn’t taken a position on whether Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated in India and other South Asian countries, should be a day off from school.

But he said he’d move forward with closing schools for Lunar New Year and for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Muslim holy days.

“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.


NY Daily News:

Vilks will speak at a Anti-Muslim Conference

August 7, 2012


Lars Vilks* will speak at a conference in New York on September 11, 2012. The organizer is the anti-Muslim organization SION (Stop Islamization of Nations). Its founder says to have inspired Anders Behring Breivik.  A representative of SION was recently in Stockholm to hold his first speech at “the first global meeting against Jihad and radical Islamism.”


According to Anna-Sofia Quensel, a researcher at EXPO (an organization which regularly reports on activities of the far-right extremists), SION has its roots in Denmark going back to 2005. Since then there have been a European and an American branch, but since the beginning of 2012 an international umbrella organization has been formed (SION).


”The organization is a part of the counter-jihad movement. Its members claim that an intricate Islamizing conspiracy is underway against the West. Among other things, they claim that a holy war is being waged against the West and our ideas,” says Quensel. It is from this milieu that Breivik retrieved much of his opinions. Robert Spencer, who is one of the initiators of SION, has been quoted over 150 times in Breivik’s manifesto, according to Quensel.


Quensel also points out that from the SION’s point of view, Lars Vilks is an important person. “He is often mentioned because he has been threatened for his drawings and installations. He will speak about freedom of expression and he is used as an example of what can happen and how freedom of expression is threatened.” According to her Lars Vilks is a figurehead for SION, and his presence at the conference will also put focus on Sweden. “He comes as one of those who has received death threats and will be used as such. It sends a signal to the entire movement that Lars Vilks actually shares their views so that becomes a powerful signal to the outside.” Moreover, according to Quensel, there is a great risk that Lars Vilks legitimizes the movement, regardless of his personal motives (to participate).


”This is anti-Muslim environment and a movement which is active in attempts to prevent an Arabic TV-channel’s broadcasting from the US. In this environment he (Vilks) chooses to speak about freedom of expression. Now, which signals this sends is a matter of interpretation,” says Anna-Sofia Quensel.


When DN (Daily News) contacts Lars Vilks he says that he is attending the conference to speak about his experiences. “This is above all a part of my art project where I include Al Qaida and Al-Shabab. When this organization (SION) contacted me they became a part of my project. They play a large role in the big drama about Islam, Muslims and fundamentalism.”


What does it mean for you that the organizers have expressed anti-Muslim views?


“They can have any opinion thet want in the name of the freedom of expression.”  Cannot see that I play any significance in their situation. I want to have insight of the movement and how they think.”


EXPO (a racism watchdog organization) is of the opinion that your presence there contributes significantly to the anti-Muslim movement and that they will use this event to advertize (their views). What is your view on that?


”It is free to have any opinion you like, we should protect that.”


Do you think that other people can interpret (your presence at the conference) as you legitimizing them (the anti-Muslim movement)?


“Sure, we have freedom to interpret things differently. I have been exposed to various interpretations, so I’m used to it.”


Are you not concerned that you might add to the wrong interpretation of your (work), something that you usually mention?


“No, you have to shoulder that risk when you do art which touches upon suh a delicate issue. I will most likely create more enemies, but I’m used to it. People who do not want any nuances will view things in black and white.”


You have received much attention. Do you see all of this as a PR-stunt?


”No I can’t say i do. I have already received much attention even before,” yas Lars Vilks.


Signed: Fredrik Lennander



* Lars Vilks is a Swedish artist. He is best known for his defamatory portrayal (street installation) of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. Vilks has characterized his own skill in the actual crafts involved in sculpture as quite limited, and although his artistic ideas can be seen as characteristic for his generation of Swedish conceptual artists, he has remained something of an outsider in the Swedish art scene for most of his career.

Tennessee Muslims feel blessed this Ramadan after federal court rules in their favor

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is always a joyful time for believers, but a Tennessee congregation was feeling especially blessed this year as they worshipped Friday.
Opponents spent two years trying to halt construction of a new mosque for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, but a federal judge ruled this week the congregation has a right to worship there as soon as the building is ready.
“Ramadan this year reaches us at a very special time for us as a community,” Imam Ossama Bahloul told the congregation at Friday prayers. “We have received the good news about the federal court not standing on our side, but standing on the side of the Constitution
Although there has been an Islamic center in Murfreesboro for 30 years, the new building brought vehement opposition, including a lawsuit, a large rally and even vandalism, arson and a bomb threat.
Opponents of the mosque, who used the issue to raise wider arguments against the faith of Islam, have not commented to The Associated Press on the federal ruling.
Joe Brandon Jr., an attorney for mosque opponents, told Murfreesboro newspaper The Daily News Journal that he is exploring options for legal action.

A Swede was a secret agent working for three different countries

June 11, 2012

Spying against Sweden is increasing according to the Swedish Intelligence Agency (SÄPO). The Agency also suspects that at least 15 states are doing illegal surveillance in the country. The Daily News has reported that a Swedish man have been a secret informer for Libyan, British and Swedish intelligence services simultaneously. His code name is “Joseph” and he has on the regular basis reported Muslims as suspected terrorists.

Usually foreign spies target large Swedish firms and sensitive information on Swedish policies/politics. Another focus is given to spying on recent immigrant communities, and usually those who are political activists seeking asylum in Sweden. Regime critics and opposition activists who live in Sweden have regularly been threatened and their movements and activities traced.


The information about Joseph’s activities today is uncertain – he lives in a city in Sweden, he has children and officially his financial circumstances are highly limited. Despite that, he is regularly traveling across the world. AS recently as couple of weeks ago, he had visited his former homeland, Libya. This we his second trip since the fall of the regime. Moreover, according from the information from DN he had met with one of the rebel leaders Abdel Hakim Belhaj on his last trip.


Joseph claims that he is not an informant working for any of the mentioned states. “You are talking to the wrong guy here. Alright. You know nothing what this is all about,” he was reported to have said to a DN’s reporter. Howoever, a fax message from the British intelligence agency MI6 from 2003 is contradicting his claims. The message is a part of a set of documents gathered by Human Rights Watch in Libya in the wake of administrative vacuum followed by the fall of Qaddafi regime.


The MI6 document starts with the words, “Greetings from MI6 in London” and it is a four pages long document describing a meeting with “Joseph” in Manchester. It is dated December 11, 2003 with an address of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The fax message gives details about Joseph and how he was recruited by MI6. He had names of 11 Muslims from Sweden who he described as possible terrorists and accomplices. He also had a list of names of individual board members in a Muslim association in Sweden. The document further shows that Joseph had contacts with Qaddafi’s intelligence services (ESO) and the Swedish security agency (SÄPO). The document further hints that his first step has been to hand over the list of names to (MI6). The names of people he suspected to be “jihad sympathizers” in Sweden. MI6 in turn sent the list to Libya.


The DN had investigated the list and, at least, two individuals from the list more closely. The two persons have been in Joseph’s immediate closeness. Another individual was now deceased Muhammad Moumou (Abu Qaswarah) listed as a terrorist by both the United Nations and the European Union in 2006.


One of the most important question Joseph had posed is how is he to handle his contacts with the Swedish SÄPO. Joseph further wanted to inform MI6 about his contacts (with SÄPO), something MI6 was not interested in him doing. The Libyan ESO has, according to the document, been deeply aware of his informant status and work. Joseph had also been firmly instructed not to reveal his cooperation with other agencies to SÄPO. ESO and MI6 agreed that Joseph shall cancel his meetings with Swedes and inform them that he was ill.


”Joseph” is protected as a source by DN, however the newspaper’s reporters investigated into his real identity and could establish it after some time.  He is a 45-year old male who immigrated to Sweden in the end of 1980s from Libya. A few years later be became a citizen. He is registered to reside in a two-room apartment in a well-kept residential building. During some periods he worked as a store assistant. People familiar with Joseph describe him as secretive and suspicious of others. He could disappear without any explanation despite his limited funds on long expensive trips. He has even been convicted of domestic violence for beating up two of his earlier girlfriends. He has also been sentenced for theft and for making threats. Most recently he has been convicted of shoplifting.


Despite all of these issues he has established himself as a known figure in the Muslim community. “He knows people everywhere, in Stockholm, Malmö, Göteborg,” one of his acquaintances comments.


SÄPO never comments any individual cases, however, according to their annual rapport for 2011 Libya is one of the countries which has conducted intelligence gathering in Sweden during several years. On several occasions the Swedish authorities have deported Libyan spies. Furthermore, according to SÄPO persons as information sources are tremendously important in intelligence gathering (counterterrorism etc.)


According to Magnus Ranstrorp (researcher at the Swedish Defense College) it is unusual to be an agent for three separate intelligence agencies. “It is unusual since there are so many states involved, that is, that the Libyan regime and the British agency and even the Swedish (SÄPO) seem to have bilateral relationships to him (Joseph).”

Signed: Mattias Carlsson

‘SalamWorld’ to be Facebook for Muslims — but much cleaner

Salamworld, based in Istanbul, will be launched during Ramadan in July in eight languages. The social network aims to have 50 million users within five years.

Muslim users who choose to ditch Facebook for the upcoming social network SalamWorld shouldn’t expect to find a Madonna video or discussion of sex anywhere on the site.

The company hopes to be a far cleaner version of Facebook, by “filtering out harmful content” and ensuring that its pages “uphold and respect family values,” according to the company’s commercial.

“The content that is being used on other social networks is not very secure and full of haram,” one of Salamworld’s owners, Abdulvahed Niyazo, told the Hürriyet Daily News. Haram is an Arabic term meaning “forbidden.” “We don’t want our young people to absorb all these ideas that are not familiar to them,” he said.

But some believe that young Muslims won’t welcome a social media site containing only halal content, as they will perceive the filtering of content as Web censorship.

Canadian Diplomat’s Grave Moved in Turkey after Muslim Complaints

The National Post – December 14, 2010

The remains of a Canadian diplomat buried in Turkey were reportedly forcibly removed from a local cemetery after a prominent Muslim family said they weren’t comfortable praying next to a Christian grave. Hans-Joachim Himmelsbach, 65, a retired trade commissioner from Vancouver who was living in Turkey, died about three weeks ago after suffering a blood clot to his brain while he was recovering from a throat operation, his stepfather, Heinz Koletzko, said in an interview.
Mr. Himmelsbach was buried in a Christian ceremony at a local cemetery in Bodrum, a tourist resort community on Turkey’s south Aegean coast. Mr. Himmelsbach’s family obtained permission from the municipality for a priest to perform the ceremony, Mr. Koletzko said, as is required in Turkey for religious groups not officially recognized by the state.
But his wife, Ilknur Himmelsbach, a Turkish citizen, told the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review that Mr. Himmelsbach’s grave was recently moved against her wishes to a remote area of the cemetery at the request of a local Muslim businessman who felt Mr. Himmelsbach was buried too close to the family plot.

Five years after 7/7 bombings London commemorates its victims

Five years after the terrorist attacks on the London underground, the papers review what has changed since then in terms of security, anti-terrorism laws and the situation for British Muslims.

The Guardian features a comment on the lost narrative of British Muslims, who have been “stigmatised en masse” by some media and government policies. Another Guardian article talks of the flaws of neo-liberal government policies towards terrorism that have only increased the risk of new attacks, which another comment in the same paper supports, claiming that the government’s “Prevent strategy” has not made anyone any wiser and urging the government to learn how to work with “ordinary Muslims”. A commentator of The New Statesman describes how his life, being a commuter and a Muslim living in Britain, changed on 7/7 2005. The London Daily News commemorates the victims and lists the names of those deceased in the attacks, while The Independent talked to those who witnessed the bombings but survived them, and gives an insight into how they cope with the experience today.

Veteran Vendor Lance Orton Is Times Square Hero

(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS) – “I’m not a celebrity, I’m just an average Joe,” Lance Orton told the New York Daily News Sunday night from his apartment in the Bronx. But this average Joe is being hailed as the savior of Times Square.

Orton is one of the street vendors who alerted police to the suspicious dark-colored SUV that contained a home-made bomb, reported The New York Times . Orton sells T-shirts near the area in which the car was parked.

He and Duane Jackson, a handbag vendor, were the first to notice that something was strange about the car. Jackson told MyFox NY’s ‘Good Day NY’ co-host Greg Kelly : “When the smoke started, I realized there might be more to this than meets the eye.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had dinner on Sunday night in Times Square with Jackson and NYPD Officer Wayne Rhatigan, who was alerted by the vendors and was the first to begin to clear the are around the SUV. Orton, though passed on dinner with the mayor, according to .

According to Reuters , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised Orton: “Lance Orton saw something and did something about it.”

Orton said in a TV interview after the incident that he’s been a street vendor for 22 years. Walking with a limp and wearing a Monster energy drink T-shirt, he said of his vending position: “I don’t have too much choice. Nobody’s giving me a job.”

Surrounded by reporters as he walked to a taxi on Sunday morning, Orton was a bit surly, claiming: “Part of my reason for having this attitude is I’ve given some of you interviews before and you wrote the opposite of what I said in the paper, so that’s my problem with you.”

When asked if he was proud of his actions, he said: “Of course, man. I’m a veteran. What do you think?” As he got into the cab, the Vietnam vet said his advice to the city of New York was: “See something, say something.”

Now Orton is being mentioned in news articles around the world. His family members are also being sought out.

Miriam Citron, the mother of Orton’s son, told the New York Times that Orton would regularly alert police if something didn’t look right: “When he was in Vietnam, he said they had to make decisions and judgments from their gut, from their own feelings … His instinct was telling him something’s not right.”

Orton’s mother, Jean Jarrett, told the Daily News : “I’m sure he saved a lot of lives.”

Germany to take steps to integrate Turkish community

Placing immigrant integration into society at the center of state policy after years of denial and neglect, the German government is finally dedicating time, money, and energy for progress on this still unresolved matter, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) wrote on Monday.

The diagnosis of the “disease” by the coalition government led by Germany’s first female chancellor, Angela Merke – a Christian Democrat elected in 2005 – is seen by Turkey as a significant turning point after years of implementing a so-called denial policy. The German government has long ignored the parallel societies arising from differing social, cultural, and religious traditions of the Turkish immigrants that began arriving in the country in the 1960s under the guest worker scheme. Turkey may also be to blame for failing to develop strategies to help its citizens integrate into German society, considering them sources of capital flow back to the country.

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Link between child porn and Muslim terrorists discovered in police raids Paedophile websites are being used to pass information between terrorists

A link between terrorism plots and hardcore child pornography is becoming clear after a string of police raids in Britain and across the Continent, an investigation by The Times has discovered. Images of child abuse have been found during Scotland Yard antiterrorism swoops and in big inquiries in Italy and Spain. Secret coded messages are being embedded into child pornographic images, and paedophile websites are being exploited as a secure way of passing information between terrorists.
British security services are also aware of the trend and believe that it requires further investigation to improve understanding of terrorists’ methods and mindsets. Concerns within the Metropolitan Police led to a plan to run a pilot research project exploring the nature of the link. One source familiar with the proposal said that this could eventually lead to the training of child welfare experts to identify signs of terrorist involvement as they monitor pornographic sites. Concerns have already been expressed at Cabinet minister level about the risk of vulnerable Muslim youths being exploited by older men. Officers have noted that child sex abuse images have been found during investigations into some of the most advanced suspected plots. However, it is understood that the proposed research project was never implemented because the AntiTerrorism Branch was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases it was having to deal with. Richard Kerbaj and Dominic Kennedy report.

See full-text articles:

Times Online

London Daily News