Judge rejects inmate’s suit seeking cleric from Muslim sect

SCRANTON, Pa. — A federal judge had dismissed a former inmate’s religious freedom lawsuit against a Pennsylvania jail, saying he had no right to a cleric from the specific Muslim sect he preferred–the Nation of Islam.

Courts have ruled inmates have a right to practice their religious, but that right isn’t unlimited and must be balanced against the jail’s ability to run safely and efficiently.  In this case, the judge agreed with an attorney for the jail who argued that the jail did offer Muslim services and religious items but the inmate didn’t participate because the cleric wasn’t affiliated with the Nation of Islam.

Jewish scholar prosecuted for anti-Muslim remarks in France

One of the world’s leading historians on the Jewish communities in Arab countries is being prosecuted in France for alleged hate speech against Muslims.

The Morocco-born French-Jewish scholar Georges Bensoussan, 64, is due to appear before a Paris criminal court over a complaint filed against him for incitement to racial hatred by the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, the group recently announced on its website.

The complaint, which leading French scholars dismissed as attempt at “intimidation” in a statement Friday, was over remarks about anti-Semitism by Muslims that Bensoussan, author of a definitive 2012 work entitled “Jews in Arab Lands,” made last year during an interview aired by the France Culture radio station, the Collective said.

The Collective based its complaint on two remarks by Bensoussan.

“Today, we are witnessing a different people in the midst of the French nation, who are effecting a return on a certain number of democratic values to which we adhere,” read the first quote flagged.

The second quote cited read: “This visceral anti-Semitism proven by the Fondapol survey by Dominique Reynié last year cannot remain under a cover of silence.” Conducted in 2014 among 1,580 French respondents, of whom one third were Muslim, the survey found that they were two times and even three times more anti-Jewish than French people as a whole.

“Besides, with the animosity toward the French nation, there will be no integration as long as we will not be rid of this ancestral anti-Semitism that is kept secret (…) as an Algerian sociologist, Smain Laacher, very bravely said in a film that will be aired on France 3, ‘it’s disgraceful to keep in place this taboo, knowing that in Arab families in France and beyond everybody knows but will not say that anti-Semitism is transmitted with mother’s milk,” the quote continued.

At least 12 people have been murdered in three attacks by suspected jihadists from France on Jewish targets in that country and in Belgium since 2012.

The anti-Islamophobia collective called Bensoussan’s statements “dangerous and in line with far-right rhetoric” targeting Muslims.

But three prominent French writers and historians — Jacques Tarnero, Yves Ternon and Michel Zaoui – disputed the allegations, calling the complaint against Bensoussan “scandalous.”

The cautions taken against Bensoussan “are part of a strategy of intimidation intended to censure any lucid statement, any form of criticism,” they wrote in a statement they published online last week.

The Collective Against Islamophobia in France wrote in its statement that Paris prosecutors initiated the prosecution against Bensoussan “in light of the gravity of his remarks.”

 

Dispute about Islamic theology

March 6, 2014

 

The public dispute about Islamic theology at German Universities and the Islamic theologist Professor Mouhanad Khorchide at the University of Münster has attracted the attention of the wider public. Since 2010, Islamic theology has been established at different German Universities in Münster/Osnabrück in Frankfurt/Gießen und Erlangen/Nürnberg.

Two conflicts have been arousing the issue of Islamic theology. First, the dispute between the Center for Islamic theology at the University of Münster and Islamic associations began in 2011, when the Center proposed different Islam experts for its science council and advisory board. Many of these candidates were dismissed by the Islamic associations. While some candidates of the Islamic associations were rejected, as the Federal Ministry of Interior assessed them inappropriate. In practice, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution assessed one of the candidates proposed by the Islamic Community – Milli Görüs as extremist.

The second conflict aroused about the person Mouhanad Khorchide. Having approved his engagement, Islamic associations rejected Khorchide´s employment at the Center, criticizing him for his remarks in favor of a liberal Islam. According to Engin Karahan, a representative of the Islam council, there is no trust left between Professor Khorchide and the Islamic associations. Thus, it would not be legitimate to continue his engagement at the University. It would be senseless for the University of Münster to offer Islamic theology without the cooperation with Islamic associations.

The coordination council of Muslims assessed the work of Khorchide as “not scientific enough”. Other theologists such as Professor Bernhard Uhde from the University of Freiburg called criticized the assessment of the coordination council of Muslims as dilettantish and an evidence for the power clash between Turkish associations and other Muslims.

Serda Günes, an Islam scientist from the University of Frankfurt believes the schools of Islamic theology processing a period of maturing. Islamic associations would not be able to respond to normative questions as solid and confident as churches would do. Therefore, they would try to compensate this lack with theological views, reacting irritated when being challenged by antagonizing positions.

 

Spiegel Online: http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/islamische-theologie-streit-in-muenster-um-mouhanad-khorchide-a-956587.html#

 

Dispute about Islamic theology

March 6, 2014

 

The public dispute about Islamic theology at German Universities and the Islamic theologist Professor Mouhanad Khorchide at the University of Münster has attracted the attention of the wider public. Since 2010, Islamic theology has been established at different German Universities in Münster/Osnabrück in Frankfurt/Gießen und Erlangen/Nürnberg.

Two conflicts have been arousing the issue of Islamic theology. First, the dispute between the Center for Islamic theology at the University of Münster and Islamic associations began in 2011, when the Center proposed different Islam experts for its science council and advisory board. Many of these candidates were dismissed by the Islamic associations. While some candidates of the Islamic associations were rejected, as the Federal Ministry of Interior assessed them inappropriate. In practice, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution assessed one of the candidates proposed by the Islamic Community – Milli Görüs as extremist.

The second conflict aroused about the person Mouhanad Khorchide. Having approved his engagement, Islamic associations rejected Khorchide´s employment at the Center, criticizing him for his remarks in favor of a liberal Islam. According to Engin Karahan, a representative of the Islam council, there is no trust left between Professor Khorchide and the Islamic associations. Thus, it would not be legitimate to continue his engagement at the University. It would be senseless for the University of Münster to offer Islamic theology without the cooperation with Islamic associations.

The coordination council of Muslims assessed the work of Khorchide as “not scientific enough”. Other theologists such as Professor Bernhard Uhde from the University of Freiburg called criticized the assessment of the coordination council of Muslims as dilettantish and an evidence for the power clash between Turkish associations and other Muslims.

Serda Günes, an Islam scientist from the University of Frankfurt believes the schools of Islamic theology processing a period of maturing. Islamic associations would not be able to respond to normative questions as solid and confident as churches would do. Therefore, they would try to compensate this lack with theological views, reacting irritated when being challenged by antagonizing positions.

 

Spiegel Online: http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/islamische-theologie-streit-in-muenster-um-mouhanad-khorchide-a-956587.html#

 

Virginia man’s challenge to no-fly list clears hurdle

January 23, 2014

 

A federal judge on Wednesday allowed a Virginia man’s challenge to his placement on the no-fly list to go forward, three years after he was stranded in Kuwait.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga issued a 32-page written ruling rejecting arguments of government lawyers who wanted the case dismissed. Trenga said that Gulet Mohamed suffers significant harm from his apparent placement on the list and the Constitution gives him the right to challenge his no-fly status.

Trenga acknowledged that Mohamed’s travel rights must be balanced against the government’s duty to protect its citizens from terrorism, but wrote that “the No Fly List implicates some of our basic freedoms and liberties as well as the question of whether we will embrace those basic freedoms when it is most difficult.”

The Justice Department is reviewing the ruling, department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said in an email late Wednesday.
The government has refused to say why it would have placed Mohamed on the no-fly list; in fact, the government won’t even confirm that Mohamed, or anyone else, is on the list at all. The government says only that people are placed on the list when it has “reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is a known or suspected terrorist.”

Mohamed, an Alexandria resident and naturalized U.S. citizen, was 19 when he was detained by Kuwaiti authorities in 2011. Mohamed says he was beaten and interrogated at the behest of the U.S. and denied the right to fly home.
U.S. authorities allowed Mohamed to fly home after he filed a federal lawsuit, but Mohamed says he remains on the list without justification.

Mohamed’s lawyer, Gadeir Abbas, who is with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the ruling “a stinging rebuke to the government’s use of the no-fly list.”
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/va-mans-challenge-to-no-fly-list-clears-hurdle/2014/01/23/7e063730-8432-11e3-a273-6ffd9cf9f4ba_story.html

Killer Marine told he ‘increased risk of revenge attacks’ and sentenced to minimum 10 years

December 6, 2013

 

A Royal Marine who murdered a badly wounded Taliban insurgent must serve at least 10 years in prison for a cold blooded killing that tarnished the reputation of the Armed Forces, a judge has said. Sgt Alexander Blackman was dismissed in disgrace and told his crime had betrayed the Marines and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks on British troops.

Blackman was given a life sentence at court martial for the battlefield execution of a badly wounded Taliban fighter during a patrol in Helmand province in September 2011. Jeff Blackett, Judge Advocate General, said Blackman’s behaviour during the murder, inadvertently captured on helmet camera, had been “chilling”. The video showed Blackman shoot the insurgent in the chest, telling him to “shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.” He then told the rest of his patrol to keep quiet because he had broken the Geneva Convention.

The judge said: “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood.” “By doing so you have betrayed your Corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan and you have tarnished their reputation.” He continued: “Your actions have put at risk the lives of other British service personnel. You have provided ammunition to the terrorists whose propaganda portrays the British presence in Afghanistan as part of a war on Islam in which civilians are arbitrarily killed.

Judge Blackett said the seven-strong military board, which included three Royal Marine officers, had taken 15 years as the starting point for deliberations on Blackman’s minimum sentence. They had reduced the term because of his record, the strains he was under and the provocation of brutal fighting against the Taliban.

The case is unprecedented in modern times, with no other serviceman having been convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield since at least the Second World War.

A consultant psychiatrist report concluded Blackman had suffered fatigue, poor sleep, grief from the recent death of his father and “the feeling, though unspoken, of paranoia that he was there to be shot at every time he went out.”

Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, said he was surprised by the severity of the sentence. A minimum sentence of 10 years is comparable with what some murderers received in Britain and Blackman could not be seen as a common criminal.

Lord West, a former First Sea Lord, said he had concerns about the decision to name Blackman and felt it had put his family at risk from domestic terrorists.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10500133/Killer-Marine-told-he-increased-risk-of-revenge-attacks-and-sentenced-to-minimum-10-years.html

CAIR-Cincinnati to Announce EEOC Complaints Against DHL for Firing 24 Muslim Workers Over Prayers

November 7, 2013

 

Later today, the Cincinnati chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Cincinnati) will hold a news conference to announce the filing of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) civil rights complaint on behalf of 24 former workers at the DHL Global Mail facility in Hebron, Ky., who were fired for exercising their legally protected religious rights.

CAIR-Cincinnati says the DHL workers were dismissed from their jobs for asserting their right to reasonable accommodation for their religious practices, including daily prayer.

“CAIR has informed the company of its obligation under the law to reasonably accommodate these workers’ religious practices,” said CAIR-Cincinnati Executive Director Karen Dabdoub. “Instead of abiding by the law and doing the right thing, DHL has decided to stand behind their violation of these workers’ civil rights.”

Background:

On October 9, DHL Global Mail fired a group of 24 workers, some of whom had been working at DHL for up to 6 years, for refusing to accept a new workplace rule that violated their rights under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In this case, the DHL workers had been using their break time to perform the evening (Maghrib) prayer. The company reportedly decided to eliminate flexible break times, thereby preventing the men and women from practicing their faith. When the workers asserted their legal rights, they were all fired.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12243-cair-cincinnati-to-announce-eeoc-complaints-against-dhl-for-firing-24-muslim-workers-over-prayers.html

On the Muslim Question by Anne Norton – review

Anne Norton rejects the ‘clash of civilisations’ view of Islam and the west, but offers little to replace it. Lawrence Rosen is the author of Varieties of Muslim Experience and The Culture of Islam offers the review of Anne Norton’s new publication On the Muslim Question.

 

Anne Norton thinks that the “Muslim question” is, if anything, a question about non-Muslims. She is straightforward in denying the claim that Islam and the west are involved in a “clash of civilisations”; castigating writers of various political persuasions who have, blatantly or inferentially, put forward this view. She thus criticises writers such as John Rawls (as well as those, such as Michael Walzer and Michael Ignatieff, who “have urged them on”) for saying that Muslims constantly seek empire and territory, for stereotyping Muslims’ political orientation as the antithesis of liberalism, and for promoting a false history that conceals liberalism’s own failings. In an effort to find more common ground, she underwrites Derrida’s assertion that Islam is “the other of democracy” because Muslim states could retain their distinctiveness while recognising Israel and promoting democratic values. And she surprisingly lauds Sayyid Qutb, the Islamic theorist executed by Nasser in Egypt, because “even this intolerant, fanatic man has something to teach us about human rights, human dignity, and equality”, given his support for private property and women in the workplace.

 

In a series of chapters on sexuality, freedom of speech and democracy, Norton recognises that valid differences of orientation exist. But she does not always help her own case by making assertions that are variously vague, trivial or wrong. For example, she says that terrorism is the precursor to democracy (as if the course of the Arab spring was inevitable), that randomness is “terrifying” (so much for evolutionists), that “Germany has no neo-Nazis” (when they number upwards of 5,000), that the publishers of the Danish cartoons “intended to provoke” (and not just insult) Muslims, that the veil is “profoundly erotic” (for elderly women?), or that calling your sports team the Redskins “honours an old enemy” (tell that to Native Americans).

 

But if the clash-of-civilisations approach is false, what options exist for addressing the differences presented by a Muslim minority in a western country? Having dismissed many of the arguments of western intellectuals about Islam, Norton indicates that neither outright assimilation nor distant toleration is to be preferred: rather she chooses the third option, moving “us” closer to “them”. Indeed, she seems to regard this as already having happened. True, some issues may be resolving themselves internally: many Muslim women have found common sartorial ground, older ones having given up the full veil, younger ones the miniskirt, both adopting a simple head scarf. And once we eliminate the clash-of-civilisations notion from our vocabulary, the mutual accommodations that already exist at the local level may only increase. But a common meeting ground is not always easily achieved.

 

Such a position may, however, come at the price of not really attending to the distinctiveness of the “other”. Norton knows little about Muslims: she gets her few references to Arabic wrong and never discusses the scholarship on Islam and Muslim cultures. In the absence of any understanding of Muslims in their own terms, moving closer to them risks being yet another exercise in self-congratulation: it yields few insights about us and none about them, and thus lacks both genuine understanding and real moral bite.

 

Muslims, like every minority, appreciate the need for camouflage in the face of muted suspicion, even if that need has diminished somewhat in the years since 9/11 and 7/7. But living as a chameleon may be harder now that we all notice each other noticing each other. Under such circumstances, anonymity, for many Muslims, may stifle their sense of valid difference and deprive non-Muslims of really seeing their neighbours. If that happens, we may avoid the “clash”, but it may come at the cost of an arrangement neither community should be eager to call “civilisation”.

 

Judge dismisses terror charges against Fla. Muslim cleric, citing weak evidence

MIAMI — Citing a lack of evidence, a federal judge on Thursday dismissed terrorism support and conspiracy charges against the younger of two Muslim clerics accused of funneling thousands of dollars to the Pakistani Taliban.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola ruled that “no rational trier of fact” could convict 26-year-old Izhar Khan, who is imam at a mosque in suburban Margate north of Fort Lauderdale. Trial is continuing against his father, 77-year-old Hafiz Khan. Scola said the evidence against the older Khan is much stronger.

“This court will not allow the sins of the father to be visited upon the son,” Scola wrote in a seven-page order.

Federal prosecutors earlier dropped charges against another of Hafiz Khan’s sons who also had minimal involvement. Izhar Khan’s attorney, Joseph Rosenbaum, said a judge’s dismissal of charges is rare, particularly in a case linked to international terrorism.

Hafiz Khan, imam at a downtown Miami mosque, still faces four terrorism support-related charges that each carry maximum 15-year prison sentences. Prosecutors said Hafiz Khan orchestrated the sending of at least $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban between 2008 and 2010, money that was allegedly used to help mujahedeen fighters attack Pakistani and U.S. targets.

In his order, Scola noted that the older Khan was recorded by the FBI talking “openly and brazenly” about raising money to help overthrow the Pakistani government so that strict Islamic law could be imposed. The recordings showed Hafiz Khan praised suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan and the attempt in May 2010 by Faisal Shahzad to detonate a bomb in New York’s Times Square.

Sentence of Administrative Court – Muslim girl cannot be dismissed from swimming lessons

September 28

 

The Administrative Court of the Federal State of Hessen has rejected a lawsuit by a Muslim family, who did not send their twelve-year-old daughter to the school swimming lessons. The family’s action has been rejected also by the Administrative Court of the city of Kassel. The girl has argued that swimming with boys would be forbidden by her religion. She would like to participate at swimming class, but only in case the class would be attended by properly covered girls, and no boys.

The court had to find a balance between different rights. Although the freedom of religion would be protected as it would be her right to avoid seeing or touching boys, this freedom would restrict the constitutional goal to ensure equal education.

As a result, the Court decided for rejection, while recommending the girl to wear an Islamic swimming dress, the Burkini.

 

The position of tribunals in this matter is not uniform. Recently, the Administrative court of the City State of Bremen had permitted girls to be released from sport classes with the beginning of adolescence.

 

So far, there have been no reactions by Islamic organizations such as the Islamic Religion Community of the States of Hesse or the Turkish-Islamic Union of the State of Hessen.