Dutch universities host study to ask: Why would you become a jihad activist? [PDF DOWNLOAD]

coverdawaactivism-207x300Why would you become a jihad activist? Three reasons.

A group researchers from Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Amsterdam presented their study among radical Muslims and why they’re interested in extremist ideologies. Three conclusions can be drawn.

1. Democracy is hypocrisy: events and the way the USA and other western governments have responded after 9/11 have caused a lot of anger among (radical) Muslims. According to them, Muslim are not allowed to express their opinion, while they themselves and their religion are being insulted regularly in the name of ‘freedom of speech’, by for example Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirshi Ali, Geert Wilders and the Mohammed cartoon in Denmark. They also feel that Muslims have been treated very badly in the name of democracy, referring for instance to the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and drone attacks in Muslim countries.

2. Discrimination of Muslims: Muslims feel discriminated and get annoyed because of the ‘Islam debate’, (judgmental) questions about Islam and the ban on the burqa and the negative coverage of the topic in the media.

3. Together against the rest: they feel safe within their own network, where they won’t feel judged by their opinions and where the kafir outer world won’t distract them from their ‘pure’ interpretation of the Islam. They enunciate however also their message outside this network, for example online.

A copy of the report (in Dutch) is available for download here.

Scalia on Muslim Beard Case: “Religious Beliefs Aren’t Reasonable”

 On Tuesday October 14,  the Supreme Court heard arguments in Holt v. Hobbs, a case about whether a prisoner in Arkansas has the right to grow a ½-inch beard for religious reasons. One of the more interesting threads of the oral argument was Justice Scalia’s assertion that religious directives are “categorical” and not open to a reasonableness analysis.

Dutch Somali Woman Among Those Arrested for Funding Al-Shabaab

July 23, 2014

A Dutch Somali woman is facing extradition to the United States on charges of helping to finance Al-Shabaab. The Dutch public prosecution says the woman has been arrested by U.S. authorities, and two other women were also arrested in the United States. The woman of Dutch nationality, born in Somalia, will appear in court to determine whether she will be extradited to the United States.

The arrested women face charges of providing support to al-Shabaab, which a United States Department of Justice statement identifies as conducting an insurgency campaign in Somalia. The statement said the women referred to the money they sent overseas in small amounts as “living expenses”, using terms such as “orphans” to refer to fighters.

If convicted the women face up to 15 years in jail.

NYC woman who fled marriage testifies against father

June 27, 2014

NEW YORK — The New York City cab driver from Pakistan and his daughter both began weeping the second she first took the witness stand at his murder conspiracy trial. Once composed, she told a jury that they had a loving relationship — and that he had once threatened to kill her.

The encounter came in a case where Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry has pleaded not guilty to charges he arranged the killings last year of two relatives of a man who helped his daughter flee an arranged marriage in Pakistan. Prosecutors at the trial in federal court in Brooklyn have likened the shooting deaths to so-called honor killings — the ruthless vigilantism against Pakistani women accused of disgracing their families.

‘‘I don’t want to hear any more complaints about you,’’ Amina Ajmal, 23, claimed her father warned her when he first learned she wanted out of the marriage. ‘‘I will kill you if you do anything wrong.’’

Though she agreed to testify for the government, Ajmal often sounded and acted on Thursday like she didn’t want to be there. There were long pauses before meekly mumbling answers to prosecutor’s questions about her father’s alleged misdeeds. Yes, she answered, he had threatened her, but she quickly added, ‘‘I don’t think he meant it.’’

The defense claims that Choudhry, who was in Brooklyn at the time of the deaths in Pakistan, had no hand in them. They say government agents coached the daughter on how to manipulate her father into making empty threats that were recorded for use as evidence against him.

Ajmal was born in Pakistan, lost her mother as a child, and was largely raised in Brooklyn by her Muslim father. She testified she was the only one of his five children to take to Western trappings like social media and to go to college. But in 2009, she said, her father tricked her into visiting Pakistan so the family could force her to marry one of her cousins there.

Md. faith groups to protest anti-Muslim Metro bus ads

June 9, 2014

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) – Members of Montgomery County faith groups plan to protest anti-Islamic Metro bus ads Monday in Rockville.
The Montgomery County Faith Community Working Group (FCWG) – which includes members of the local Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist and Zoroastrian faith communities – issued a statement saying they are “deeply saddened by the placement of anti-Muslim ads on buses owned and operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).”

The ads include photos of Adolf Hitler meeting with an anti-Jewish Islamic leader during World War II, and call for an end to American aid to Islamic countries.

The ads, placed by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, started appearing in May on 20 Metro buses in the D.C. Metro area.

The group previously ran ads on Metro buses in 2012 which were similar in nature, equating Muslims to “savages” and calling for support to Israel.

Metro originally declined to run the ads, so the American Freedom Defense Initiative sued for the right to place the ads. A federal judge ruled that Metro must run the ads, citing freedom of speech.

Monday’s protest will begin at 10:30 a.m. near the Rockville Metro station, at 1 Church Street near the intersection of Route 355.

Terry Jones, Quran-Burning Pastor, Plans ‘Dearborn Freedom Rally’ In Front Of Mosque

June 3, 2014

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor known for burning Qurans, is planning a rally in Dearborn, Michigan, outside one of America’s largest mosques. The event is schedule to take place on Flag Day, June 14, outside of the Islamic Center of America (ICA).

Jones, author of Islam Is of the Devil, explained on his website, Stand Up America Now, that “the purpose of the event is to rally against Islamic Sharia Law which threatens freedom of speech in the United States.” It’s being billed as the Dearborn Freedom Rally and it will be hosted by the American Patriotic Bikers.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. called his cause “un-American,” but noted that Jones has the right to free speech, according to the Detroit Free Press. Dearborn has a large Muslim population, and about 40% of the town is of Arab descent.

This isn’t the first time that Jone has planned Islamophobic events in Dearborn. In 2012, the city asked Jones and his Stand Up America Now co-founder, Wayne Sapp, to sign an indemnity agreement before speaking. A federal court later ruled that Jones’ freedom of speech had been violated, which led the city to change its special events ordinance.

Opponents Of Islamic Center Of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Have Case Declined By U.S. Supreme Court

June 4, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For years, opponents of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro vowed to take their legal fight to shut down the mosque all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That fight ended Monday (June 2), when the nation’s highest court declined to hear their case.

The four-year conflict over construction of the mosque, which opened in 2012, brought national attention to this Bible Belt city of 112,000 about 30 miles south of Nashville.

Hundreds marched in protest after Rutherford County officials approved plans for the mosque in 2010. Televangelist Pat Robertson labeled the Islamic center a “mega mosque” and claimed Muslims were taking over Murfreesboro. An arsonist set fire to construction equipment on the building site.

Mosque opponents eventually filed a suit against Rutherford County, seeking to block construction of the worship space.

On the surface, the fight was over the minutiae of Tennessee’s sunshine, or public notice, laws. Mosque foes claimed local officials failed to give adequate notice of a meeting where plans for the mosque’s construction were approved.

But a thriving anti-Muslim movement in Tennessee fueled the fight. Mosque foes asserted that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom did not apply to the mosque. In court, Joe Brandon Jr., a lawyer for mosque foes, said Islam is not a religion, and he argued that the mosque was a threat to the community.

Initially, a local judge ruled for the mosque foes and ordered a halt to mosque construction. But a federal court quickly overruled that decision, paving the way for the mosque to open in 2012. A state appeals court also later overturned the lower court decision.

Local Muslims, many of whom had worshipped in the community for years, found themselves having to defend their faith and their status as American citizens at the trial.

Members of the Islamic Center found help in local interfaith groups and other local leaders who rallied to their assistance. More than 100 local religious leaders signed a letter supporting the mosque.

Foes of the mosque haven’t given up yet. A group of plaintiffs recently filed suit to block local Muslims from building a cemetery on the mosque grounds.

According to the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, a ruling on the cemetery lawsuit is expected in mid-June.

The second-largest religion in each state

June 6, 2014

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. A little more than half of us identify as Protestants, about 23 percent as Catholic and about 2 percent as Mormon.

Figuring out each state’s largest religion is easy; more than three-quarters of Americans identify as Christians. But, make it second-largest and the results get interesting.

In the Western U.S., Buddhists represent the largest non-Christian religious bloc in most states. In 20 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, Islam is the largest non-Christian faith tradition. And in 15 states, mostly in the Northeast, Judaism has the most followers after Christianity. Hindus come in second place in Arizona and Delaware, and there are more practitioners of the Baha’i faith in South Carolina than anyone else.

The Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, which sponsors the U.S. Religious Census every 10 years, mapped out data on religious popularity. Knowing that Christianity was the leader in every state, ASARB highlighted each state’s second-most popular faith.

The data the ASARB release every 10 years are revealing: Adherents to any religious faith — that is, those who actually attend religious services — make up more than half the population in 28 states. Utah has the highest percentage of adherents, at 79 percent of the population, while just over a quarter of Mainers are adherents. North Dakota, Alabama and Louisiana are near the top of the list, while Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, Nevada and Washington sit near the bottom of the rankings.

This map is wrong

June 6, 2014

by Mark Silk

The other day the Washington Post posted an amazing map showing the second most populous religious tradition in each of the 50 states. Imagine, after Christianity it’s Baha’is in South Carolina, Hindus in Arizona and Delaware, and Muslims in Florida and Illinois.

The only trouble is that none of the above is true.

How do I know this? The map comes from the 2010 U.S. Religious Census taken by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. The Religious Census is based on self-reporting by religious bodies, a means of data collection that, depending on the body, ranges from highly accurate to wildly conjectural and self-serving. It is, in the aggregate, far less accurate than large random phone surveys that ask individuals to give their religious identity.

Thus, in 2008, Pew’s Religious Landscape Study showed more than twice as many Jews as “Other World Religions” (Sikhs, Jains, and others as well as Baha’is) in South Carolina. It showed more than four times as many Jews as Hindus in Delaware, and more than twice as many Jews and twice as many Buddhists as Hindus in Arizona. It showed over six times as many Jews as Muslims in Florida and over four times as many in Illinois.

And so on. Altogether, Jews come in second in at least half the states (not 15); Muslims, in at most a dozen (not 20), and Buddhists, in the remainder (throughout most of the West). The reason for the principal discrepancy (between Jews and Muslims) is that the U.S. Religious Census relies on reports of actual synagogue membership, and many self-identified Jews don’t belong to synagogues; while the reporting Muslim bodies provide estimates of mosque membership.

FBI: Flow of foreign fighters into Syria growing

WASHINGTON — The flow of foreign fighters into Syria has grown in just the last few months, with dozens of Americans joining the country’s conflict along with thousands of Europeans, FBI Director James Comey said Friday.

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have expressed concern about the influence of hard-line jihadists — many of them linked to al-Qaida — among the rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad. Officials say fighters from the U.S. or Europe looking to join the cause could become radicalized and import those influences and terrorist skills when they return home.

Speaking to reporters at FBI headquarters, Comey said the number of Americans who have either traveled to Syria or sought to do so was continuing to grow. He would not give a specific figure, but he said the number had grown by a few dozen since the start of the year. He said in a similar interview several months ago that dozens of Americans were trying to make their way to Syria.

The FBI also believes that there are Americans in Syria actively trying to bring other Americans over to the country, Comey said.

Comey compared the situation in Syria to that of Afghanistan, several decades ago, when thousands of Muslims worldwide who traveled to the country during the 10-year Soviet occupation returned home with the fervor of jihad and in some cases sought to overthrow their own governments.