Human Rights Watch criticizes France’s counterterrorism bill

Counter-terrorism legislation proposed by the French government will “normalize abusive practices,” undermine personal freedoms, and may fuel prejudice against the Muslim minority, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

A bill presented last week would enshrine curbs on fundamental rights in law if approved by parliament, the rights group said.

Newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron wants the legislation to replace temporary emergency powers in place since Islamist militants attacked Paris in 2015.

 “Instead of truly ending France’s 19-month temporary state of emergency, the government is making some of its far-reaching powers permanent, but with little effective court oversight,” HRW’s Kartik Raj said.

“France needs to find a way to end its state of emergency without normalizing abusive practices.”

France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim minority, has grappled with a response to homegrown jihadists and foreign militants following attacks that have killed more than 230 people since early 2015.

The draft bill envisages extending police powers to stop and search people or conduct house searches. The law would also give officials more discretion in deciding when to invoke a risk of terrorism as justification for curbs on freedoms.

Mr. Macron has assured the European Court of Human Rights the legislation would respect public freedoms.

“As the text stands, it [the law] could, for instance, be used arbitrarily to prohibit any meeting at which ideas or theological concepts associated with conservative interpretations of Islam, such as Salafism, are expressed regardless of whether there is any demonstrable connection to criminal activity,” HRW said.

“Poorly worded laws that are likely to lead to closing solely Muslim places of worship may also help feed anti-Muslim rhetoric and prejudice prevalent in wider society,” it said.

Several mosques have been shut temporarily under the state of emergency, imposed after Islamist gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in a concert hall and restaurants and bars in Paris in November 2015.

ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES, CONFRONTING FEAR

Key Findings
This report presents a national strategy that aims to arrive at a shared American understanding of Islam in which being Muslim carries a positive connotation, and in which Islam has an equal place among the many faiths which together constitute America’s pluralistic society. The strategy has four priority areas of focus:
1. Advancing Islam’s principle of “be a benefit to humanity, avert harm from humanity” by enhancing Muslim involvement in the issues of other domestic communities which face challenges to full and equal protection and participation in society.
2. Establishing in the public conscience that Islamophobia is identical to other forms of prejudice and undermines American ideals. 3. Empowering a diverse range of legitimate voices to persuasively contribute, particularly in the news media, to the views of Islam and American Muslims within public dialogue. 4. Enhancing community ability to impact U.S. political and policy life through public service, voting, and meaningful political contributions. The report also examines Islamophobia in the United States and offers the following key findings: Key Finding 1: Seventy-four (up from sixty-nine in 2013) groups are identified as comprising the U.S. Islamophobia network. Key Finding 2: The U.S.-based Islamophobia network’s inner core is currently comprised of at least thirty-three groups whose primary purpose is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims.
Key Finding 3: Between 2008 and 2013, inner-core organizations had access to at least $205,838,077 in total revenue.
Key Finding 4: An additional forty-one groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes, make up the network’s outer core. $205,838,077 Total Revenue: 2008 – 2013 33 INNER CORE GROUPS ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ITS IMPACT IN THE UNITED STATES | CONFRONTING FEAR viii U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender
Key Finding 5: As of the writing of this report, anti-Islam bills are law in ten states. This is one-fifth of the nation. To date, however, none of these laws have been invoked in legal proceedings.
Key Finding 6: At least two states, Florida and Tennessee, have passed laws revising the way they approve textbooks for classroom use as a direct result of anti-Islam campaigns. In many instances, teachers simply informing students of the tenets of Islam’s central belief system generated backlash and allegations of attempts to indoctrinate students to become Muslims.
Key Finding 7: In 2015, there were 78 recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted; more incidents than ever reported in a single year since we began tracking these reports in 2009. Incidents in 2015 have more than tripled compared to the past two years in which there were only 22 mosque incidents reported in 2013 and 20 incidents in 2014. In fact, in both November and December of 2015, there were 17 mosque incidents reported during each of these months, numbers almost equivalent to an entire year’s worth of reports from the previous two years. Additionally, 2015 saw the largest number of cases in both the Damage/Destruction/Vandalism category as well as the Intimidation category.
Key Finding 8: Progress has been observed in the reduction in frequency and shrinking acceptability of anti-Islam law-enforcement trainings
Key Finding 9: Two new phenomenon—Muslim-free businesses and armed anti-Islam demonstrations—raise deep concerns.

Funding Islamophobia: $206m went to promoting ‘hatred’ of American Muslims

Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of California Berkeley report names 74 groups they say contributed to Islamophobia in the US
Inciting hate toward American Muslims and Islam has become a multimillion-dollar business, according to a report released on Monday.
Released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) and University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, the report names 74 groups it says contribute in some way to Islamophobia in the US. Of those groups, it says, the primary purpose of 33 “is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims”.
The core group, which includes the Abstraction FundClarion ProjectDavid Horowitz Freedom CenterMiddle East ForumAmerican Freedom Law Center, Center for Security PolicyInvestigative Project on TerrorismJihad Watch and Act! for America, had access to almost $206m of funding between 2008 and 2013, the report said.

Muslim and LGBTQ communities stand together against hatred and prejudice after Orlando shooting

Muslim and LGBTQ leaders came together at The 519 community centre, in the gay village, to denounce Islamophobia and homophobia.
Muslims and LGBTQ people both know how it feels to be treated badly or even hated sometimes because of who they are.
Mostly, these groups have suffered separately. But the tragedy in Orlando brought some members of both communities together on Friday night to end the daily Ramadan fast together in an expression of solidarity.
More than 150 people gathered at The 519 community centre, on Church St. in the gay village, to break bread and denounce Islamophobia and homophobia in the wake of the June 12 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub. Outside, candles burned in a shrine for the 49 victims of the massacre, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

Aziz Ansari: Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family

Today, with the presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and others like him spewing hate speech, prejudice is reaching new levels. It’s visceral, and scary, and it affects how people live, work and pray. It makes me afraid for my family. It also makes no sense.
Xenophobic rhetoric was central to Mr. Trump’s campaign long before the attack in Orlando. This is a guy who kicked off his presidential run by calling Mexicans “rapists” who were “bringing drugs” to this country. Numerous times, he has said that Muslims in New Jersey were cheering in the streets on Sept. 11, 2001. This has been continually disproved, but hestands by it. I don’t know what every Muslim American was doing that day, but I can tell you what my family was doing. I was studying at N.Y.U., and I lived near the World Trade Center. When the second plane hit, I was on the phone with my mother, who called to tell me to leave my dorm building.

Muted reaction of German Muslim leaders to Orlando touches upon uncomfortable issues of homophobia and media discourses

The response of German Muslim leaders and organisations to the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando has generally been relatively muted. Whilst the main federations – DITIB, ZMD, VIKZ, and IGMG – had been quick to denounce recent attacks in Brussels and Paris in official press releases on their websites, these organisations have remained comparatively silent after Orlando. In two tweets from his personal account, ZMD chairman Aiman Mazyek denounced the “mad deed” and expressed his solidarity with the perpetrator’s victims and their families. Mazyek then went on to criticise the media for pouncing on the supposed religious motivations of shooter Omar Mateen and refrained from further substantive comments on the events of Orlando. An article on the IGMG-leaning website Islamiq.de took the same line: instead of seeking the rationale for Mateen’s actions in his Muslim faith, the shooting ought to be seen as a non-religious hate crime, or so the article’s author argued. Only the small Liberal-Islamic Federation (LIB) released a statement explicitly condemning the attack and the religious references employed by Mateen. The LIB also vowed to fight homophobic prejudice.

 

The mainstream associations’ limited response might be due in part to the confusion that still reigns about the nature of attacker’s motives. As Yassin Musharbash notes in a piece for Die Zeit titled ‘But he did say IS though!’, Mateen’s ostentatious pledge of allegiance to the so-called Islamic State must be counterbalanced by an appreciation of his personal history of psychological instability and potentially suppressed homosexual tendencies. As Musharbash points out, the Orlando attack was not connected to the IS in a direct operational manner, nor does it seem to have been backed up by a clear politico-ideological outlook on the part of Mateen himself. Rather than being due to recognisably ‘religious’ factors, then, Musharbash sees Mateen’s reference to Islam and to the IS as a testimony to the power of the IS’s iconography and to its capability to establish itself and its vision as a countercultural force. On this view, the silence of Muslim associations is understandable and reasonable, since from an Islamic religious perspective there is comparatively little about the attacker that is worth commenting on.

 

However, the limited nature of German Muslim organisations’ reactions has also been criticised. In the Tagesspiegel newspaper, psychologist and anti-radicalisation activist Ahmad Mansour denounces Muslim leaders for giving in to the initial reflex-like claim that the attack ‘has nothing to do with Islam’. Mansour argues that Mateen’s jihadist leanings need to be taken seriously, and that the Muslim organisations and their leading personnel are averse to fighting the homophobic prejudice that has taken hold in their communities. Whilst many commentators in the German media – including renowned academic scholar Thomas Bauer – have pointed out that attitudes towards homosexuality have been historically more relaxed in Muslim societies than in the West, Mansour replies that this historically accurate observation must not detract from the fact that today homophobic discriminations and attacks are justified in recognisably ‘Islamic’ terms. The failure of the main Muslim associations to react to the Orlando shooting is thus seen as indicative of the unwillingness to recognise homosexuality as legitimate and to unquestioningly denounce homophobia.

 

http://www.islamiq.de/2016/06/13/muslime-verurteilen-massaker-von-orlando/

http://lib-ev.jimdo.com/

http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2016-06/orlando-attentaeter-islamischer-staat-medien

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/ahmad-mansour-ueber-islam-und-terror-der-islam-muss-sich-reformieren/13751768.html

CAIR 2014 Midterm Election Report

CAIR releases 2014 Midterm Election Report.
CAIR releases 2014 Midterm Election Report.

Key Points: The most significant anti-Islam action of the 2014 midterm election, Alabama’s Amendment 1, was approved by voters. Alabama is the eighth state to approve a law intended to vilify Islam. The measure was inspired by Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts legislation, which stigmatizes Muslims as a group from which the US needs protection. In Alabama, two organizations – Christians against Amendment One and the Christian Coalition of Alabama – organized opposition to the measure citing its threats to international adoptions, marriage law and religious liberty.

A Harris poll conducted prior to the election found that “just over half” of Americans would not vote for a Muslim candidate. However, observed usage of Islamophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail was present, but significantly down, from the 2010 midterm election.

Prior to election day, Republicans in New Hampshire modified their state party platform, signaling their intent to push a legal measure intended to vilify Islam. While Republicans were overwhelmingly responsible for pushing anti-Islam prejudice during the election, three separate incidents in 2014 showed that the party will, at times, act against Islamophobia.

The use of Islamophobic discourse to exploit voters’ fears remains an acceptable component of political campaigns. The overall effectiveness of employing such tactics remains in doubt.

As in the 2010 midterm election, Republicans were responsible for the overwhelming majority of anti-Islam electoral prejudice. Outside of an electoral setting, however, the party held some public officials accountable for employing anti-Muslim prejudice in 2014.

This brief on the presence of Islamophobia in the 2014 election offers only a snapshot of major highlights and does not purport to be a complete record. (CAIR)

Full Text of Report HERE.

The need for more Muslims in the German Public Sector

July 3, 2014

Sigmar Gabriel, currently Minister of Economic Affairs and Vice Chancellor of Germany, believes that Germany needs more Muslims in the public sector. He said that we are lacking Muslim judges, prosecutors, policemen, principals. One important reason for the underrepresentation of Muslims in the public sector, according to Sigmar Gabriel, is the presence of prejudice against Muslims; especially the perception that that they are fanatics.

‘Black Mass’ at Harvard: Not a black and white issue

When I first heard about the planned “Black Mass” reenactment at Harvard Extension School, scheduled for tonight (Monday), I had mixed feelings. (Update: Organizers have announced they are moving the event to an off-campus site.)

I am an atheist and an advocate of free expression. But as a member of the Harvard community, this event troubles me—and it raises concerns about the selective ways in which we support free speech.

The Cultural Studies Club at Harvard Extension School has argued that the reenactment, led by the New York-based Satanic Temple, is intended to be educational: “Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices.”

This event, however, is not merely a “different cultural practice.” It is designed to specifically parody and mock a sacred Catholic ritual.

After listening to arguments for and against the planned “Black Mass,” I wasn’t sure how to respond—but then I spoke with an atheist friend who is also a former Catholic. She said that she thinks the Cultural Studies Club should certainly be allowed to host this event. But she also said that, even as an atheist, it feels like an attack on her Catholic family members and friends.

So I asked myself: How would I respond if this were a ceremony designed to mock the sincerely held beliefs, practices, or identities of another group? How would I feel if it were a “Black Seder” instead of a “Black Mass”? What if this were a ritual mocking a same-sex wedding ceremony? The sense of liberation an atheist feels when she can speak openly about her skepticism? A Muslim call to prayer?

Would I react in the same manner?

It is a difficult question that evades an easy answer.

I don’t mean to equate Catholicism with Islam, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) identity, atheism, Judaism, or any other identity or worldview. Muslims, Jews, Catholics, LGBTQ people, and atheists have historically experienced very different kinds of oppression and prejudice, and continue to today.

Young Islam Conference

March 17, 2014

 

The Young Islam Conference sees itself as both a forum for dialogue and a mouthpiece for young Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It seeks to counter prejudice and negative ideas about Islam in Germany. Shohreh Karimian spoke to Esra Küçük, the managing director of the Young Islam Conference, about the forum’s background and aims

 

Source: http://en.qantara.de/content/young-islam-conference-interface-between-politics-and-society