Meet Frank Gaffney, the anti-Muslim gadfly reportedly advising Donald Trump’s transition team

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that amid the Trump transition team shuffle, Frank Gaffney had been brought in to help advise on security issues. (On Wednesday, the Trump team denied Gaffney was advising the transition, but would not confirm or deny whether he’d spoken with Trump this week.) Last year, we took a closer look at the former Reagan official’s controversial career:

In June 2009, shortly after President Obama wrapped up his visits to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Washington Times ran an opinion piece suggesting that the newly inaugurated president might be the first to be a Muslim.

It starts slowly, saying that Obama might be the “first Muslim president” in the same sense that Bill Clinton was once dubbed the “first black president” — which is to say that he’s not Muslim, he’s just sympathetic to the community. But a few paragraphs later, that conceit evaporates.

“With Mr. Obama’s unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls ‘the Muslim world’,” columnist Frank Gaffney wrote, “there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.” That evidence? Obama referred to the “Holy Koran.” He said he knew about Islam. And he used the phrase “peace be upon them” when mentioning Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Obama, Gaffney wrote, was engaged in “the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich.”

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, confronting Trump about the proposal on Tuesday, told Trump that CNN “wouldn’t even put that poll on the air. It’s a hack organization with a guy who was dismissed from the conservative circles for conspiracy theories. You know that.” (Trump disagreed.)

President Obama Slams ‘Yapping’ Over ‘Radical Islam’ And Terrorism

He called it yapping, loose talk, and sloppiness. President Obama dismissed criticism of his administration’s avoidance of the term “radical Islam” and urged America to live up to its founding values Tuesday, speaking at length about inclusiveness and religious freedom.
Obama called out Republicans for criticizing the way he discusses terrorism and extremist groups — which follows the same logic as his Republican predecessor — and he directed particular attention at the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Regarding terms such as “radical Islam” and “radical Islamists,” Obama said, “It’s a political talking point. It’s not a strategy.”
NPR.org: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/14/482041137/president-obama-slams-yapping-over-radical-islam-and-terrorism

Radical Islam Or Radical Islamism? It Depends Whom You Ask

The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, claimed allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State during a phone call to 911 early Sunday. And that’s reignited a debate over how to label the ideology that apparently inspired the attack.
Republican Donald Trump and many on the right say it’s “radical Islam.” But Democrat Hillary Clinton used a different term: “radical Islamism.” It’s not just a debate over semantics.
“What exactly would using this label accomplish?” President Obama asked Tuesday as he spoke about his administration’s fight against ISIS. He spoke at length about the language debate. “Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
NPR.org: http://www.npr.org/2016/06/14/482011041/radical-islam-or-radical-islamism-it-depends-who-you-ask

Politics and Prejudice: Countering Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Race

If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing – playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus – to win the vote. But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high cost to American Muslims, to America’s international stature, and increasingly, to the political careers of those who fuel it.
It was not long ago that American Muslim children watched leaders “accuse” President Obama of being a Muslim, as if there is something inherently wrong with the world’s second largest religion or its 1.5 billion adherents.
Since then, a number of U.S. elected officials continue to contribute to the prevailing climate of intolerance and discrimination confronting American Muslims.

President Obama’s Statement on Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”
But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.
Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

Twitter features #muslimapologies

On Tuesday, September 23rd, Muslims with Twitter handles Tweeted #muslimapologies, a tongue-in-cheek response to President Obama’s speech at the United Nations where the President of the United States told the General Assembly that it is time for Muslims to stand-up against ISIS. As The Washington Post points out, “#MuslimApologies represents another reaction: Frustration over the assumption of collective responsibility.

Many of the tweets express weariness about having to apologize for the actions of extremists who claim to represent Islam, a religion with an estimated 1.6 billion adherents worldwide.”

Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama's speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.
Muslims took to Twitter in #muslimapologies campaign after President Obama’s speech at UN calling on Muslims to denounce IS.

Iftar at the White House- Navigating Power, Privilege & Justice in Ramadan

Last week, I was among several dozen Muslims who attended an iftar at the White House with President Obama. This has now become an annual tradition where the President extends greetings to the Muslim community and occasionally chooses to speak to other relevant issues. Two years ago, for example, President Obama selected this occasion as a platform to weigh in on the sensational anti-Muslim hysteria taking place in the debate around the proposed Cordoba House project in Lower Manhattan, otherwise known as the Ground Zero Mosque. At the time, the critique was mainly from extreme edges of the right wing who managed to make some noise about the President’s alleged “pro-Muslim” leanings.

This time around, most of the push back regarding the iftar I heard was coming from voices within the Muslim community.

-So why did I attend?
I am the executive director of a nonprofit organization that organizes around a number of key issues impacting low-income communities of color while providing direct services to those same community members.

I went because I believe in the process of critical engagement which I define as a long-term commitment to shape, deeply inform and/or passionately contest the often disparate policies and conditions that govern our lives or sustain profound inequalities in the world. Such a process carries with it an admission that we certainly will make mistakes along the way and perhaps even fail to insert ourselves more forcefully around an issue or two.

Ramadan is an ideal time to interrogate how far our private and public actions are from the loftier ideals that our faith traditions call us to. It is a perfect time to scrutinize the privilege that some of us disproportionately benefit from and to honestly consider all the types of unjust power structures and policies we contribute to through our tacit support or deafening silence.

Lawmakers ask Obama for religious diversity summit

Nearly 40 members of the U.S. House, among them Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims, sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday (July 17) urging him to convene a “Religious Diversity Summit” and do more to fight discrimination against religious minorities.

“The targeting of religious minorities in America is reaching a crisis point and we believe your leadership is crucial to stemming this rising tide of violence,” the letter writers said.

The letter comes just ahead of the first anniversary of the Aug. 5 attack by a white supremacist on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., that killed six worshippers. Muslim advocacy groups say there has been an increase in attacks against mosques and Muslims since the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15.

All 37 signatories were Democrats, including Buddhist Hank Johnson of Georgia, Hindu Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Muslims Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Andre Carson of Indiana, and Jews Jared Polis of Colorado, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Henry Waxman and Alan Lowenthal, both of California.

“The terrible and very public episodes of violence this country has seen over the past several years deserve a response, and as elected leaders we have an obligation to be a part of that response,” wrote Arizona Democrat Raul M. Grijalva, one of several Christians to sign the letter.

Two accused of plot to kill Muslims with X-ray weapon

A Ku Klux Klansman working for General Electric and an accomplice are facing terrorism charges in Upstate New York for allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other “enemies of Israel,” federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. They were due in federal court in Albany on Wednesday.

Crawford, an industrial mechanic with GE, claimed the “Hiroshima on a light switch” device could fit in a van, be triggered remotely and deliver lethal doses of ionizing radiation that would kill its targets as they slept, the complaint stated. Feight allegedly agreed to build the electronic controls.

In April 2012, authorities were notified that Crawford had gone to an Albany-area synagogue and and contacted a local Jewish organizations “seeking out individuals who might offer assistance in helping him with a type of technology that could be used against people he perceived as enemies of Israel” and the United States. He called these perceived enemies and Muslims “medical waste” and “scumbags.”

Crawford told an informant he planned to buy or build a battery-powered, industrial-strength X-ray device and hoped to land a part-time job in a metal shop with X-ray tubes, according to the complaint.

A year later — April 15, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings — Crawford said in an e-mail exchange monitored by the FBI that he had found a power supply. He railed against President Obama, whom he derided as “your treasoness bedwetting maggot in chief,” for “bringing the muzzies here without background checks.”

Guantanamo Bay hunger strike grows; 41 now being force-fed

The number of hunger strikers being force-fed by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has risen to 41, with the protest showing no signs of abating more than a week after President Obama renewed his commitment to close the detention facility.

The military said in a statement Thursday that 103 detainees are on hunger strike and that 41 of them are being force-fed. The military also said four detainees who are being force-fed are being observed at the hospital.

There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, a majority of whom are Yemeni nationals. Two years ago, Obama imposed his own moratorium on sending detainees to Yemen because of concerns about security there. But he said he will lift the ban.

Obama also said he will appoint senior envoys at the State and Defense departments to oversee and accelerate the process of moving detainees.

There has been no visible progress on these commitments, but administration officials have cautioned that it will take time to restart the effort to close the facility.