Arab American group urges boycott of White House Iftar dinner

July 14, 2014

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urged all Arab and Muslims in the United States to boycott the Obama administration’s celebration of the holy month of Ramadan on Monday, arguing the president has condoned the killing of Palestinians in Gaza and the spying on some Americans based on their Muslim identities.

Like George W. Bush before him, Obama has hosted an Iftar dinner — the meal after sunset that breaks the day of fasting — each year he’s been in office. Other federal agencies, including the State Department, also hold iftar dinners to commemorate the holiday.

The ADC, the nation’s largest Arab American group, issued a statement citing both the administration’s support for Israel’s bombing campaign in response to airstrikes by the militant group Hamas as reasons not to participate in the administration’s celebrations.

Obama remains overwhelmingly popular with Muslims, although he has recently come under fire since Glenn Greewald and Murtza Hussain reported former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden had documents indicating the NSA had conducted surveillance on five American Muslim leaders.

The custom of celebrating Ramadan in the White House dates back at least to 1996, when then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a dinner during Eid-al-Fitr, the three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan noted in an e-mail Monday that the tradition may go back two centuries, according to accounts from the nation’s early days.

“Some consider President Thomas Jefferson to have hosted the first Iftar by a U.S. president, as he hosted a sunset dinner with an envoy from Tunisia over 200 years ago,” Meehan wrote. “The invited guests tonight include elected officials, members of the diplomatic corps, religious and grassroots leaders in the Muslim American community, and leaders of diverse faiths.”

The German Interior Ministry’s Controversial Poster Campaign: Encouraging Prejudice and Paranoia

Sometimes good intentions are just not enough: a new campaign by the German interior ministry, says Robert Misik, only contributes to the widespread paranoia about “the Muslims” – and thus encourages the very radicalism it wants to fight

The German interior ministry is currently on the hunt for missing persons. In fact, quite a lot has gone missing from the country’s security services: files about a gang of neo-Nazi killers which got lost and shredded, for example. But that’s not what the ministry is looking for: the “missing” it’s looking for are called Ahmed, Hassan, Fatima and Tim. Their friends can’t seem to talk to them any more – they’ve become strange.

All four of them – the three immigrants and the young German – have in common that, in fact, they don’t exist. They’ve emerged from the fantasy of some PR-types who’ve thought up a nice public relations campaign for the ministry’s “Radicalisation Advice Centre”. What they also have in common – at least according to the brief texts on the “missing” posters – is that they have all drifted into Islamist fundamentalism; they’ve been caught in the fangs of some radical preacher and their character has suffered a deep change, so that their former friends don’t recognise them any more.

It’s not just Muslim organisations and immigrants’ associations which are up in arms about the new campaign; many people working in the integration field are also shaking their heads in disbelief: the campaign, they say, encourages prejudice and paranoia. They want it stopped.

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.

Turkish Journalists Report on Netherlands

Policy makers in the Netherlands concerned with the effect of the country’s anti-Islam mood on relations with the Muslim world have organized a series of PR trips to the Netherlands for journalists from Muslim countries. In early December a group of Turkish journalists was brought to the Netherlands, whose reports are now appearing. A journalist for the paper Milliyet reports that “Nearly all the talks were about Dutch Turks, about the political developments and about Wilders… the Dutch wanted to show in particular how things were going well with the integration of the Turks”. While it is difficult to estimate the effect of the trip, Turkish television has broadcast a report about the growing Islamophobia in the Netherlands in its aftermath.

CAIR Asks FBI to Probe Vandalism at Chicago Mosque

The Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the FBI to investigate a recent incident of vandalism against a Chicago area mosque as a possible hate crime. The Islamic Foundation Mosque in Villa Park was vandalized last week, which is the fourth such incident in two months. A mosque employee discovered that two windows were shattered on the mosque, and a five-gallon tank of flammable liquid had been spilled in the mosque’s school – an area that is currently under construction. Two weeks ago, mosque authorities found a Star of David in a part of the mosque undergoing construction. Shortly before that, anti-Islamic messages were spray-painted on the outer walls of the mosque, and windows and glass were shattered in another prior incident.

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PR Newswire

ABC Chicago

Market Watch

Futuristic centre exhibition

Plans for a new community centre in North Harrow with a “futuristic design” were put on show last weekend. The owners of the current North Harrow Community Centre in Station Road, the Battlers Wells (BW) Foundation, have recently submitted revised plans to Harrow Council to be considered. In September last year, the Muslim group held a consultation on their plans and designs, which were met with opposition from local people. Samantha Sen, who deals with PR for the group said from the feedback collated from the consultation, they have adapted the plans in line with what people had said. The organisation’s plans are to demolish the current assembly hall and replace it with a new centre, sports hall, five-a-side football pitch, a children’s play area, 24-bedroom nursing home, a library and a prayer room. There will also be eight flats built on the site, a gym with separate areas for men and women, seminar rooms and a restaurant and cafe. Dr Nizar Merali of the BW Foundation, said: “This development will integrate all the communities and cultures. It will not just be for the Muslims in Harrow. “The idea behind this is to contribute something to the society we grew up in. “If given permission, the building will have a futuristic design. We are taking a risk with its look but it is something different. “We have already got a Mosque in Harrow and the idea isn’t to have a centre for Muslims, it is to allow everyone to come in.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=2E55BC69EA7A590A0A0BE9E6&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Dutch anti-Muslim film brings call for PR

Feared fallout from a new film critical of Islam has one Dutch lawmaker calling for a pre-emptive public-relations campaign by all of Europe. Alexander Pechtold, a member of the Netherlands parliament, said Monday that Europe must publicly explain the values of freedom of expression and democracy in order to prevent a backlash to the film produced by right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders. Here we are accustomed to democracy and freedom of expression but not everyone abroad is, Pechtold told Radio Netherlands.

Liaison Strives to Bridge Police, Muslim Cultures

At the headquarters of the New York Police Department, in a high-ceilinged, wood-floored room, Erhan Yildirim is speaking to a group of officers. As he lists facts about Islam, they crack their gum and tap their feet. Yildirim is slighter, shorter and snazzier — in a sleek Turkish-made suit — than most of his audience, and he speaks with a Turkish accent to their Brooklynese. Yildirim, as the part-time civilian liaison of the NYPD to Muslims throughout the city, is a man assigned to bridge cultures. “I’m the PR,” says Yildirim, and the PR goes two ways: At once, he is trying to redeem the name of the police department to Muslims and the reputation of Islam to police officers.