The Washington Post: “After controversy, Muslim call to prayer sounds from front of Duke University Chapel”

Susan Svrluga, Sari Horwitz, and Michelle Boorstein for The Washington Post: “The Muslim call to prayer echoed across Duke University’s quad Friday, the day after university officials canceled plans to have weekly services begin with an amplified call to prayer from atop the chapel’s bell tower.

That initiative had sparked such intense debate, even threats, according to university officials, that they reversed the decision. But Friday’s call to prayer, held at the base of the chapel rather than at its pinnacle, was a peaceful gathering.” (The Washington Post)

Joué-lès-Tours, Nantes, Dijon: surge in terrorist threats

Three violent acts in three days have heightened fear surrounding terror attacks in France. There does not appear to be any connection between the three attacks. On December 20 in Joué-lès-Tours a man carrying ISIL’s flag assaulted several police officers in a police station before being apprehended. The following day, a motorist drove through pedestrians and called out “Allah Akbar” in Dijon, causing injuries. On Monday, December 22 another motorist drove through a Christmas market in Nantes, causing one death and nine injuries before critically injuring himself.

Members of government gathered on December 23 in order to discuss measures against terrorist threats. “We must mobilize all security and legal services,” declared prime minster Manuel Valls after the meeting. “We must protect the public, the French. With only a few hours until Christmas, it’s the security services’ mission and we must also protect public agents who are targets of certain terrorist acts.”

According to criminal psychologist Roland Coutanceau, the first attack can be categorized as an act of terrorism because “there is an extremist belief that we can decode in the man’s life.” However, he stated that the second attack in Dijon was committed by a mentally ill person with a history of hospitalizations in psychiatric wards and therefore cannot be definitely described as an act of terror. Coutanceau argues that in the final attack “we see that there’s a criminological logic present in what one calls mass murder but does not necessarily connote a terrorist logic. It could be, but it’s not necessarily the case.”

Dutch Imam Elforkani quits preaching after threats

Yassin Elforkani, youth-imam from Amsterdam, decided to stop preaching in the Omar al-Farouk mosque in Utrecht since he is being threathened by extremists Muslims. They view him as a traitor and apostate because he tells youth not to go to Syria and Iraq to fight the jihad. He is therefore known as Holland’s most well-known critic of jihad.

Dutch rapper Hozny punished for threatening Islam critic Wilders in video clip

The Dutch rapper Hozny was sentenced to 80 hours of community service a conditional sentence of two years of prison for a hiphop video in which Islam critic Geert Wilders is allegedly portrayed in a threatening manner. The video (watched more than 580.000 times on Youtube) showed a Wilders look-alike that is put at gunpoint. At the end of the video gunshots are heard while the look-alike is not in sight. The video has stirred wide controversy and condemnation.

 

Rapper Hozny has justified the video as an artistic expression and critique of Wilders’ plea for less Moroccans in the Netherlands during the Dutch municipal campaign last year. During a gathering Wilders asked a crowd of it wanted more or less Moroccans in the Netherlands where upon the crowd chanted “less, less.” The incident had exploded into a controversy in and of itself resulting in more that 5000 reports against the Dutch member of parliament.
Hozny explained he wanted to chock with his video but not to threaten. The court nevertheless decided against the rapper and argued that the freedom of expression should not be used as a refuge for someone who makes dead threats to another, even if it it done in a more or less artistic manner. It further argued that the usage of dead threats is detrimental to the public debate on the freedom of expression and its limits.

Militant Islamist website calls for attacks on France and President Hollande

March 11, 2014

 

A militant Islamist website has created a series of posters calling for attacks on France and for the assassination of President Francois Hollande in reprisal for the country’s policies in Mali and the Central African Republic, the SITE monitoring service said late on Monday.

The al Minbar Jihadi Media Network, a well-known Islamist website, created six posters as part of a campaign it dubbed, “We will not be silent, O France,” SITE said.

The forum’s “Media soldiers for the support of Islam” designed the posters, which can be downloaded and printed by visitors to the site.

France’s troops in the Central African Republic, around 2,000 soldiers, are supporting a 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission.

“To our lone-wolves in France, assassinate the president of disbelief and criminality, terrify his cursed government, and bomb them and scare them as a support to the vulnerable in the Central African Republic,” one of the posters said.

Hollande has said his troops would work to stop the Central African Republic splitting in two and to disarm rival fighters.

A source in the French president’s office said that while the government was very alert to the threat of attacks, they were not a new phenomenon.

“This is not the first time there have been threats,” the source said. “There were others during the Mali intervention and even before, so we took precautionary measures.”

“Just because they (threats) are being publicized does not mean that they are new… Sometimes they are more dangerous when they are not publicized.”

Al Minbar Jihadi Media Network publishes news for various al Qaeda affiliates and other jihadists and has had an online magazine since July last year.

A French-led offensive in January 2013 drove out Islamist militants who had seized control of northern Mali. Small groups of fighters loyal to Islamist groups including the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa and al Qaeda in the Maghreb still operate in the desert region, carrying out periodic attacks.

Kidnappings and killing of French nationals has since then taken place as a form of reprisal.

Two French journalists were abducted and killed in Northern Mali in November, with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claiming responsibility.

 

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-jihadist-message-france-20140311,0,1599382.story

Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security chief, cites threat as some travel to fight in Syrian civil war

February 7, 2014

 

Delivering his first policy address since taking office in December, Johnson covered a broad range of topics, from appropriate uses of force by Customs and Border Protection agents to declining worker morale at Homeland Security, which has consistently received some of the lowest scores in the federal government’s annual worker-satisfaction survey.

The secretary noted that his morning intelligence briefings range in scope from “the latest terrorist plotting to a weather map,” adding that his department must constantly evolve to answer national security threats and hazards.

“Syria has become a matter of homeland security,” said Johnson, 56, the fourth Senate-confirmed secretary of Homeland Security.

Johnson said people from North America and Europe are traveling to war-torn Syria to fight, adding that “they will encounter radical, extremist influences” and possibly return to their home countries with the intent to do harm.

He also discussed home-grown terrorism, saying: “We face threats from those who self-radicalize to violence, the so-called ‘lone wolf,’ who did not train at an al-Qaeda camp overseas or become part of an enemy force, but who may be inspired by radical, violent ideology to do harm to Americans.”

He noted the Boston Marathon bombings in April that killed three people and wounded more than 200 others. The attacks were allegedly carried out by two brothers living in the United States who spent time in Muslim-dominated parts of Central Asia. One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police, and the Justice Department has said it will seek the death penalty against the other, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

 

Washington Post.com: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/jeh-johnson-homeland-security-chief-cites-threat-as-some-travel-to-fight-in-syrian-civil-war/2014/02/07/b1e8635e-9038-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html

Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’

January 19, 2014

 

Amal Farah, a 32-year-old banking executive, is laughing about a contestant singing off-key in the last series of The X Factor. For a woman who was not allowed to listen to music when she was growing up, this is a delight. After years of turmoil, she is in control of her own life.

On the face of it, she is a product of modern Britain. Born in Somalia to Muslim parents, she grew up in Yemen and came to the UK in her late teens. After questioning her faith, she became an atheist and married a Jewish lawyer. But this has come at a cost. When she turned her back on her religion, she was disowned by her family and received death threats. She has not seen her mother or her siblings for eight years. None of them have met her husband or daughter.

It can be difficult to leave any religion, and those that do can face stigma and even threats of violence. But there is a growing movement, led by former Muslims, to recognise their existence. In more than a dozen countries people who espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam can be executed under the law, according to a recent report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union. But there is an ongoing debate about the “Islamic” way to deal with apostates. Broadcaster Mohammed Ansar says the idea that apostates should be put to death is “not applicable” in Islam today because the act was traditionally conflated with state treason.

“The position of many a scholar I have discussed the issue with is if people want to leave, they can leave,” said Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “I don’t believe they should be discriminated against or harmed in any way whatsoever. There is no compulsion in religion.”

Baroness Warsi, the Minister of State for Faith and Communities, agreed. “One of the things I’ve done is put freedom of religion and belief as top priority at the Foreign Office,” she said.

The Ex-Muslim Forum, a group of former Muslims, was set up seven years ago. Then, about 15 people were involved; now they have more than 3,000 members around the world. Membership has reportedly doubled in the past two years. Another affiliated group, the Ex-Muslims of North America, was launched last year.

Zaheer Rayasat, 26, from London, has not yet told his parents that he is an atheist. Born into a traditional Pakistani family, he said he knew he didn’t believe in God from the age of 15. “For a lot of older Muslims, to be a Muslim is an identity, whereas, for me, it’s a theological, philosophical position. They might feel they have failed as parents; some malicious people might call them up, gloating about it. Some would see it as an act of betrayal. My hope is that they will eventually forgive me for it.”

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/allah-vs-atheism-leaving-islam-was-the-hardest-thing-ive-done-9069598.html

 

Muslims in Britain: Seeking to Combat Extremism

The brutal killing of Lee Rigby in London in May by two Muslim converts was widely condemned by Muslim religious leaders, but still led to a rise in threats made against Muslims and mosques. Many Muslims in Britain, however, work to try to counter extremism. Joanna Impey reports.

Qantara: http://en.qantara.de/content/muslims-in-britain-seeking-to-combat-extremism

‘Muslim Patrol’ vigilante pleads guilty to assault and threats

October 18, 2013

 

A Muslim convert who was part of an east London gang of self-styled vigilantes calling themselves the “Muslim Patrol” pleaded guilty in court on Friday to assaulting two people in the street. Jordan Horner, 19, admitted two charges of assault and using threatening words and behaviour in January this year.

The group threatened to kill non-believers and “shank” them, meaning stab them. They also uploaded videos to YouTube criticising non-Muslims for being inappropriately dressed. Horner and his group allegedly said: “Why are you poisoning your body? It is against Islam. This is Muslim Patrol. Kill the non-believers.” One then told another to “go get the shank” in reference to a knife, but as the group of men started walking away Horner threw punches at two of them, hitting one in the jaw.

The actions of the “Muslim Patrol” were condemned by the East London mosque, which described them as “utterly unacceptable and clearly designed to stoke tensions and sow discord”.

During that incident, he pushed one photographer outside the Walthamstow house of the radical preacher Anjem Choudary two days after Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in Woolwich on 22 May. He also threatened to cut off the head of another photographer, before causing £3,000 of damage to her car.

He will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

 

The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/18/muslim-patrol-vigilante-guilty-assault

Update: Dutch Embassy in Yemen Remains Closed

14 August 2013

 

The Dutch embassy in Yemen will remain closed until further notice, according to a foreign affairs ministry spokesman. After closing due to terrorist threats, the embassy was thought to be reopening this week, however this has not happened. Embassy activities are being handled through ministry in The Hague.