Attorneys general from 16 states, DC fight travel ban appeal

The top attorneys from 16 states and the District of Columbia say President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban would hurt their higher education and medical institutions and have a chilling effect on tourism.

The attorneys general urged the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a brief Wednesday to uphold a ruling that blocked the travel ban targeting six predominantly Muslim countries. The attorneys general say the executive order seeks “to fulfill the president’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country.”

 

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.

Two Perham exchange students are kicked out of church

Perham, MN (WDAY TV) — Two exchange students attending school in Perham, Minnesota say they were kicked out of a church there when they questioned a nationally known speaker who says “Islam equals terrorism.”

The boys were kicked out of the Assembly of God church in Perham during a question answer period following a speech by Walid Shoebat. Shoebat says he is a former terrorist, and claims to be an anti-terrorism expert. He now calls Islam the devil and tours the country speaking to churches and schools – even collecting fees from Homeland Security.

CNN has exposed Shoebat, calling him a fraud. Today, the DC based Council on American-Islamic Relations contacted WDAY and said it is calling for a meeting with Assembly of God church leaders in Perham. hopes of strengthening interfaith relations and promoting understanding.

The two teenagers are Muslim, and attended the event featuring Walid Shoebat, a Muslim turned Christian.

 

Study Shows Increase in Negative Messages About Muslims in the Media

WASHINGTON, DC, November 29, 2012 — Organizations using fear and anger to spread negative messages about Muslims have moved from the fringes of public discourse into the mainstream media since the Sept. 11 attacks, according to new research by a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sociologist.

 

Titled, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam since the September 11th Attacks,” the study appears in the December issue of the American Sociological Review.

 

Christopher Bail, an assistant professor of sociology in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, used plagiarism detection software to track the influence of 1,084 press releases about Muslims from 120 organizations on more than 50,000 television transcripts and newspaper articles produced from 2001 to 2008.

 

“I found that organizations with negative messages about Muslims captivated the mass media after the Sept. 11 attacks, even though the vast majority of civil society organizations depict Muslims as peaceful, contributing members of American society,” said Bail, who also is a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar at the University of Michigan. “As a result, public condemnations of terrorism by Muslims have received little media attention, but organizations spreading negative messages continue to stoke public fears that Muslims are secretly plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.”

 

Bail said the mass media has not only contributed to the spread of negative messages about Islam, but also given fringe organizations the opportunity to raise funds and build social networks within elite conservative circles.

 

“They are now so much a part of the mainstream that they have been able to recast genuinely mainstream Muslim organizations as radicals,” he said.

Most importantly, Bail added, “The rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the American media not only tests foundational principles about religious tolerance, but may also validate foreign extremists who argue that the United States is at war with Islam, since American media messages routinely travel to the Middle East.”

Bail is working on a book that expands on this study. The book will explain how fringe groups not only create cultural change in the mass media, but also public policy and public opinion more broadly.

Judge: DC transit system must allow anti-jihad ads; says ads must be posted by Monday evening

WASHINGTON — The D.C. transit system must allow a pro-Israel ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages, a federal judge ruled Friday. A spokesman for the Metro system said it would comply with the judge’s decision and that the advertisements would go up over the weekend.

“The result is absolutely correct,” said David Yerushalmi, a lawyer representing the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the organization behind the advertisements. “There simply was no way under the First Amendment jurisprudence that we have today that this ad should not have gone up when contracted.”

The one-page ruling from U.S. District Judge Mary Collyer follows a similar court order in New York that cleared the way for anti-jihad ads to go up in that city’s subway system last month. The ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The transit system’s lawyers called the ad’s message “fighting words in the context of current events” and said the FBI was investigating a promise of violence if the ads ran in Washington. Still, the violence that roiled the region has largely abated since then, and there have been few reports of mischievous or hostile reactions to the ads since they appeared in New York.

Creator of new Muslim ‘Green Lantern’ super hero, brings some of his past to the comic page

DETROIT — When DC Comics decided to blow up its fabled universe and create a brave, diverse future, Geoff Johns drew from the past for a new character: his own background as an Arab-American.

The company’s chief creative officer and writer of the relaunched “Green Lantern” series dreamed up Simon Baz, DC’s most prominent Arab-American superhero and the first to wear a Green Lantern ring. The character and creator share Lebanese ancestry and hail from the Detroit area, which boasts one of the largest and oldest Arab communities in the United States.

“I thought a lot about it — I thought back to what was familiar to me,” Johns, 39, told The Associated Press by phone last week from Los Angeles, where he now lives. “This is such a personal story.”

Baz is not the first Arab or Muslim character to grace — or menace, as has historically been the case — the comic world. Marvel Comics has Dust, a young Afghan woman whose mutant ability to manipulate sand and dust has been part of the popular X-Men books. DC Comics in late 2010 introduced Nightrunner, a young Muslim hero of Algerian descent reared in Paris. He is part of the global network of crime fighters set up by Batman alter-ego Bruce Wayne.

Muslim America moves away from the minaret

In post 9/11 America the construction of new mosques in the US has sometimes sparked controversy and even confrontation. Is that why some new Muslim houses of worship are being built without the most recognisable features of Islamic architecture – minarets and domes?

The National Islamic Center in Washington DC is an imposing building with a towering minaret. One of America’s iconic mosques, it is surrounded by the flags of the Islamic countries which helped pay for its construction in the 1950s.
Its design was influenced by classical and traditional architecture in Egypt. Akbar Ahmed, a professor of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC and one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary Islam, says it would be impossible to build such a national mosque today because of the controversy it would arouse.

“It’s a bad time for Islamic architecture,” says Mr Ahmed, former Pakistani ambassador to the UK.
“If there was some visionary with money who wanted to build the Taj Mahal in the US, he’d be attacked as a stealth Jihadist.”

Iben Helqvist

Iben Helqvist
Research Assistant
Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Roskilde University
Universitetsvej 1
4000 Roskilde
Denmark
ibhe@ruc.dk

Area of Expertise:
– Muslim interest groups
– Political representation of Muslim minorities
– Muslim civil societies in Scandinavia, Germany and the US

CV available here
Narrative bio:
Iben Helqvist holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Roskilde University, Denmark. She has pursued her interest in Muslim minorities in Europe and the US by studying German integration politics at Freie Universität in Berlin, as well as ‘Contemporary Islam’ at American University in Washington DC. In DC she also did an internship with Muslim Public Affairs Council and gained valuable insight into national American politics relating to the Muslim-American community.

In her master’s thesis Iben studied Muslim interest groups in Denmark. She analyzed how these groups interact with politicians and the public administration and why it is difficult for Muslim interest groups to establish themselves as credible and reliable partners of the public administration in Denmark.

CAIR will release study on surveillance, profiling, and Islamophobia

On December 3, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will hold a Washington DC conference to release its 14th annual report, “Seeking Full Inclusion”. The study reviews the state of civil rights for Muslims in the United States.

The Council on American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR’s) new report will also examine the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in the 2008 presidential election and highlight a number of issues of concern to the American Muslim community, including watch lists, surveillance of mosques and new FBI guidelines that allow religious and ethnic profiling.

The study shows that 80 percent of anti-Muslim incidents occurred in 9 states plus the District of Columbia: California Illinois, New York, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

CAIR: Senator Arlen Specter cancels speech at anti-Islam event

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) has cancelled a scheduled appearance at an “anti-Islam” conference in Washington DC, hosted by a right-wing think tank headed by Daniel Pipes, who is regarded by many as one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes. Specter was to give the opening address at the conference, but cited a “scheduling conflict.” The premise of the conference, called “Libel Lawfare: Silencing Criticism of Radical Islam,” is that American Muslims are involved in a concerted effort to suppress free speech by misusing the American legal system. “We applaud Senator Specter’s decision to withdraw from this inaccurate, inflammatory and agenda-driven conference,” said CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Justin Peyton. “We strongly support free speech and other First Amendment rights, but believe the senator’s appearance at this event would have legitimized views not shared by the majority of Pennsylvanians of all faiths,” said a spokesperson for CAIR.