Ex-honor student gets 5 years in terrorism case

April 17, 2014

 

An immigrant teen who had earned a scholarship to an elite U.S. college but helped solicit support for Jihadists he met online was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison.

Mohammad Hassan Khalid had earned a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University after just a few years in the United States, where his family was building a new life after leaving Pakistan.

As his parents and siblings worked to achieve the American dream, he retreated to his bedroom in the family’s cramped apartment near Baltimore, and joined radical Islamist chat rooms by the time he was 15. He was soon conversing with Coleen LaRose, a troubled Pennsylvania woman who called herself “Jihad Jane,” and other extremists.

“The upheavals of my life were distorted into a force of hate so strong that it wrapped me in its claws,” Khalid, now 21, told U.S. Judge Petrese B. Tucker. He said he had trouble speaking without being misunderstood.

Defense lawyers argued that Khalid was isolated and vulnerable because he was young, an immigrant and had Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder diagnosed since his arrest.

Federal prosecutors say Khalid used his “brilliance and eloquence,” along with his computer and video skills, to help them translate documents and try to recruit westerners. That got the attention of the FBI, which visited Khalid repeatedly.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ex-honors-students-terror-sentencing-scheduled/2014/04/17/14cd9ab8-c5f7-11e3-b708-471bae3cb10c_story.html

Jewish scholar lectures on ‘How Islam Saved the Jews,’ at UAB

April 22, 2014

 

David J. Wasserstein, a professor of Jewish History at Vanderbilt University, will lecture on “How Islam Saved the Jews” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

The free, public lecture will take place at UAB’s Volker Hall, Lecture Room A, 1670 University Blvd. The event is co-sponsored by the UAB Department of History and the Birmingham Islamic Society.

“It’s a chance for Jews and Muslims who are now often at odds politically to reflect on our glorious historical past and for a moment forget about our political differences, and work on future peace,” said Ashfaq Taufique, president of the Birmingham Islamic Society.

Wasserstein will discuss how the spread of Islam after Muslims conquered Mecca in 630 A.D. led to a thriving Muslim culture that also allowed a thriving Jewish subculture, until about 1300 A.D.

“Within a century of the death of Mohammad, in 632, Muslim armies had conquered almost the whole of the world where Jews lived, from Spain eastward across North Africa and the Middle East as far as the eastern frontier of Iran and beyond,” Wasserstein wrote in The Jewish Chronicle. “Almost all the Jews in the world were now ruled by Islam. This new situation transformed Jewish existence. Their fortunes changed in legal, demographic, social, religious, political, geographical, economic, linguistic and cultural terms – all for the better.”

If not for the Muslim conquests, Jewish culture might have died out, Wasserstein believes.

Alabama.com: http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2014/04/jewish_scholar_lectures_on_how.html

Mosque leader compares being gay to paedophilia and murder

March 20, 2014

 

The chairman of a mosque at the centre of a BBC censorship row over the issue of being both Muslim and gay has compared homosexuality to being “a compulsive murderer, gambler, or paedophile”.

Free Speech, the BBC 3 debate show, deliberately dropped the question “When will it be right to be Muslim and gay?” on its March 12 episode at the request of the Birmingham Central Mosque where it was being filmed. The live programme, which featured a panel including government minister and Lib Dem peer Susan Kramer, broadcast a pre-recorded question by Asifa Lahore, who bills himself as Britain’s “first and only gay Muslim drag queen”.

A week later Dr Mohammad Naseem, the mosque’s long-time chairman, defended his decision in a letter sent to Huffington Post UK.

He wrote: “There are people with homosexual tendency in Muslim countries but they respect the law and control their desire as others do.” Human beings do have weaknesses and tendencies which are not socially acceptable and so they try to have a control over them and do not give in. “A compulsive murderer, gambler, paedophile etc. could present the same logic and ask for accommodation by the society. Are we going to accept on the basis of freedom of action?”

Dr Naseem said Lahore “does not know his religion and has not got much links with it. He would have, otherwise, known that it is prohibited in Islam. If he wants to pursue [sic] his inclination then he is free to leave Islam and follow any ideology that suits him.”

Dr Naseem said the subject of homosexuality was not the topic for a TV discussion show but something that should be investigated by specialists and added that “Not being able to accept them in religion should not be confused with denying them their human rights such as their right to have education, employment, housing and respect.”

Free Speech said in a statement: “The Birmingham Mosque had offered the venue as a location for an episode. When asked if there were any issues for discussion that would be off limits, no concerns were raised. As a result the production company, together with the BBC and the mosque, made the decision to postpone the debate of the topic homosexuality and Islam until March 25th but agreed to show the pre-recorded segment.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/10710750/Mosque-leader-compares-being-gay-to-paedophilia-and-murder.html

The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/19/gay-muslim_n_4993241.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-26576673

The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/mar/14/bbc3-free-speech-debate-gay-muslim

 

Mohammad Asghar case: 28,000 people sign a petition calling for the release of the mentally ill Scot on death row in Pakistan

February 20, 2014

 

More than 28,000 people have backed a petition calling for the release of a mentally ill Scottish man sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy. Demands for Mohammad Asghar to be freed on humanitarian grounds have intensified since The Independent published an open letter today from politicians, academics, human rights campaigners and Islamic scholars appealing for clemency.

Mr Asghar, who has a history of mental illness and is thought to be a paranoid schizophrenic, had been detained under the Mental Health Act in 2010 shortly before he flew to Pakistan. Once there he became caught up in a dispute with a tenant who went to the police with letters written by Mr Asghar in which he claimed to be the Prophet Mohamed.

The online petition to David Cameron and Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, urges them to “intervene in the strongest possible terms to help save the life of a vulnerable British man”. The letter’s signatories raised concerns about the failing health of the 70-year-old grandfather and urged the Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, to intervene stating: “We respectfully urge you to consider using your discretionary powers as President to pardon Mr Asghar and to allow him to be released from jail so he can receive his treatment and be reunited with his loving family.”

 

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mohammad-asghar-case-28000-people-sign-a-petition-calling-for-the-release-of-the-mentally-ill-scot-on-death-row-in-pakistan-9142349.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/mohammad-asghar-case-an-open-letter-to-pakistan-president-mamnoon-hussain-9139630.html

Relaxed photographs of ‘suicide bomber Briton’ emerge

February 14, 2014

 

Pictures of a man suspected to be Britain’s first suicide bomber in Syria have emerged showing him looking relaxed and smiling with local children. The images were sent by Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41, from Syria to his family in the Langley Green area of Crawley, West Sussex. In one picture, he is seen wearing pink Minnie Mouse-style ears while he cuddles a child. In another, he is pictured kneeling surrounded by children as they give the peace sign.

Married father-of-three Majeed is suspected of driving a lorry into a jail in Aleppo and detonating a bomb last week. Officials have not confirmed the identity of the bomber amid reports that a UK jihadi, who used the name Abu Suleiman al-Britani, carried out the bombing.

Counter-terrorism officers have searched Majeed’s home in Martyrs Avenue, which is also the ex-home of schoolgirl Sarah Payne’s killer Roy Whiting, according to neighbours. Majeed, known as Waheed, left Britain six months ago, telling his family he was going on a humanitarian mission to Syria. Majeed’s uncle, Mohammad Jamil, 65, said Majeed – who is a father of two boys and a girl aged 18, 16 and 12 – had never shown any sign of extremism.

But this week extremist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed told the London Evening Standard that Majeed was ”a very dear brother”. He claimed Majeed had been an active student and valued member of the banned extremist Al-Muhajiroun organisation between 1996 and 2004 and had wanted to further the ”Muslim cause”. Bakri said Majeed would organise his sermons in Crawley and record the lectures and distribute them.

 

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10638651/Relaxed-photographs-of-suicide-bomber-Briton-emerge.html

How is Islamophobia measured in France?

January 28, 2014

 

The number of anti-Muslim acts committed in 2013 and recorded by the National Observatory Against Islamophobia has been published on Sunday, January 26. Last year, 226 anti-Muslim acts (164 threats and 62 actions) were registered with the police. This represents an increase of 11,3% from 2012, though a smaller increase from precedent years (+ 34% in 2011 and +28.2% in 2012).

Amongst such acts on the rise, officials at the Observatory are concerned with an increasing aggression against veiled women. According to the President of the Observatory, Abdallah Zakri, ‘this confirms the unsound climate existing in our country, which is favored by certain declarations made by politicians.’

The Observatory obtains its numbers from complaints filed to the authorities, which they get news of from sources on the ground, such as regional representatives of the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM), mosque leaders and the police. Mr. Zakri then compares their numbers with those obtained by the Ministry of Interior, and claims the findings are always very close. According to him, however, the numbers are always below the reality, as at least 20% of people are not pressing charges. Such an analysis is confirmed by the sociologist Marwan Mohammed who devoted a chapter of his book, Islamophoba: How the French Elite Fabricate the Muslim Problem, to measuring Islamophobia: Relying on the charges pressed by people to measure Islamophobia is a relatively fragile form of data.. We don’t have a viable study on the police reaction towards plaintiffs. Moreover, the complaint can sometimes be rebranded, for example as incitation to racial hatred.’

The findings of the Observatory are much inferior to those of the Collectif Contre l’Islamophobie en France (CCIF) who chooses to record acts on the basis of citizen declarations or media findings. In 2012, the CCIF had identified a total of 469 Islamophobic acts, more than twice the amount of the Observatory’s numbers, which had a total of 201 that year.

These differences reflect the political divisions between the CCIF and the Observatory. The Observatory emerged from the Conseil Francais du Culte Musulman (CFCM) and was created a few months after a convention was signed between the then-Ministry of Interior, Brice Hortefeux, and the CFCM, ‘to keep better track of’ Islamophobic acts.

Although The Observatory eventually broke away to create its own organization, its’ proximity to the government is regularly denounced by the CCIF. The CCIF, which from the start was closer the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF), willingly adopts a more polemical tone.

The numbers of the Observatory remain then more consistent with the numbers recorded by the Ministry of Interior. Researcher Marwan Mohammad suggests that Islamophobia is measurable so long as data is cross-checked. As for him, he relies on the number of complaints, the CCIF’s data, and on official sociological studies that regularly point to an increase in anti-Muslim sentiment.

 

Le Monde: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2014/01/28/la-difficile-mesure-de-l-islamophobie_4355742_3224.html

Islamophobia on the Internet: The growth of online hate targeting Muslims

December 9, 2013

 

On International Human Rights Day, December 10th 2013, the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) have released a major new report into the growing problem of online hate targeting the Muslim community.

The report examines anti-Muslim hate on Facebook and was produced by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, Australia’s only charity entirely dedicated to the growing problem of online hate.

This major work examines 50 anti-Muslim Facebook pages. The Facebook pages range from “The Islamic threat” which today passed the 113,000 supporter mark and continues to rapidly grow, to “Mohammad the PIG” which vanished after reaching 2000 supporters. From these 50 pages the report documents 349 images of anti-Muslim hate. These images represent 191 unique images and many repetitions as messages of hate move between the different pages. The message of hate in this report are divided into seven themes which the report discusses.

 

Full report at ohpi.org.au – http://ohpi.org.au/islamophobia-on-the-internet-the-growth-of-online-hate-targeting-muslims/

Book review: ‘I Am Malala’ by Malala Yousafzai

October 11, 2013

 

Marie Arana is the author of the memoir “American Chica” and the biography “Bolivar: American Liberator.” She was also a scriptwriter for the recently released film about education in the Third World, “Girl Rising.”

Malala tells of that life-shattering moment in a riveting memoir, “I Am Malala,” published this past week even as she was being cited as a possible candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-written with Christina Lamb, a veteran British journalist who has an evident passion for Pakistan and can render its complicated history with pristine clarity, this is a book that should be read not only for its vivid drama but for its urgent message about the untapped power of girls.

The story begins with Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the son of an imam (a preacher of Islam), who was instilled from boyhood with a deep love of learning, an unwavering sense of justice and a commitment to speak out in defense of both. Like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, Ziauddin was convinced that aside from the sword and the pen, there is an even greater power — that of women — and so, when his firstborn turned out to be a bright, inquisitive daughter, he raised her with all the attention he lavished on his sons.

Malala was born in 1997, as her father was struggling to found his school against a sea of troubles: a deeply corrupt government official to whom he refused to pay bribes; a mufti who lived across the way and objected to the education of girls, a practice he denounced as haram, or offensive to Islam; and the vicissitudes of a fierce jihad, visited upon them from time to time in Taliban raids that evolved from harsh rhetoric to outright killings. By the time Malala was 10 and the top student in her father’s surprisingly flourishing school, radical Talibs had penetrated the valley all the way to the capital of Islamabad and were beheading Pakistani police, holding their severed heads high on the roadsides.

We know how this story ends, with a 15-year-old child taking a bullet for a whole generation. It is difficult to imagine a chronicle of a war more moving, apart from perhaps the diary of Anne Frank. With the essential difference that we lost that girl, and by some miracle, we still have this one. Disfigured beyond recognition by her assailant’s gun, Malala was rushed to Peshawar, then Rawalpindi and finally to Birmingham, England, where doctors reconstructed her damaged skull and knit back the shattered face. But her smile would never be quite the same.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/book-review-i-am-malala-by-malala-yousafzai/2013/10/11/530ba90a-329a-11e3-9c68-1cf643210300_story.html

‘You’re a Stooge and a Frontman!’:Hannity Guest Explodes at Million Muslim March Organizer

If you thought things got heated during last week’s Hannity discussion on the Million Muslim March, tonight took things to an entirely new level. Chris Phillips, one of the organizers of the march faced off in a contentious back and forth with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which advocated for the “separation of mosque and state.”

Phillips said the march is not only about supporting “victimized” Muslims in the United States, but also the innocent Muslims who have died all over the world since 9/11. Asked for an example of how America “villain-izes” Muslims, Phillips asked Hannity, “aren’t you villain-izing them with this broadcast? These people are not radical Islamists. these are innocent Americans practicing their constitutional liberties, brother.”

“I haven’t met a Muslim that isn’t offended by the exploitation of 9/11,” Jasser said when it was his turn to speak. He suggested renaming the upcoming event, “How to radicalize Muslims in one march.” Calling the march a 9/11 “truther movement,” he accused Phillips of promoting the same ideology that produced the Boston Marathon bombing and the Fort Hood attack.

Hannity proceeded to bring up a picture of him dressed as a clown that Phillips posted online. “How would you feel if someone did that to the Prophet Mohammad?”

“I don’t worship Islam and I would be offended if friends of mine were offended,” Phillips said, shocking the other two men. “I’m not a Muslim.”

“So you’re a stooge,” Jasser responded. “You’re a stooge and front man for an organization that is destroying the mission to fight radical Islam around the globe.”

30-Year Prison Sentence in Plot to Bomb U.S. Bank

A Bangladeshi man who tried to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb, only to discover that the bomb was a fake and that he had been under constant federal surveillance, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Friday.

The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 22, came to the United States in January 2012 on a student visa with plans to carry out a terrorist attack, carrying instructions on how to make a bomb out of household items, as well as audio recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical cleric killed by an American drone strike in 2011. Mr. Nafis tried to find assistance and camaraderie on the Internet, but his efforts led him instead to an F.B.I. informer, who in turn introduced him to an undercover agent.

The agent met repeatedly with Mr. Nafis beginning last summer. In a sting operation, months long, Mr. Nafis developed his plot from a vague idea to a detailed plan to bomb the financial district, an attack that he hoped would “shake the whole country,” according to recorded statements he made during the investigation.