Video: Statement of Muslim Community at Newtown, Conn. Interfaith Service with President Obama

Statement read by Jason Graves, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, Conn.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The Muslim community of the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown, in Connecticut and throughout the nation joins with our fellow Americans in grieving for those who died in this senseless tragedy and praying for them and their families.
We ask God to grant those lost a special place in paradise and we ask their families to be granted the strength to endure the unendurable.
It is in such times of almost unbearable loss that we seek comfort with our Creator and that artificial divisions of faith fall away to reveal a nation of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, son and daughters, all united in a desire to bring healing and renewed hope.
The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, tells us that God’s mercy and compassion are without limit and always available for those who ask. God says: “When my servants question you about Me, tell them that I am near. I answer the prayer of every person who calls on Me.” (2:186)
In the Quran, God also says: “Give glad tidings to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from God.” (2:155-157)
So let us all, of every faith, of every background, pray for God’s comfort at this time of heartbreaking tragedy.
“Verily, with every difficulty there is ease. Verily, with every difficulty there is ease.” (94:5-6)
Ameen

Man Behind Anti-Islam Video Gets Prison Term

 

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the man behind “ Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Islam YouTube video that ignited bloody protests in the Muslim world, to one year in prison for violating parole.

The man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is also known as Mark Basseley Youssef, a name he legally adopted in 2002, appeared in Federal District Court here and pleaded guilty to four charges of violating a probation sentence imposed on him in 2010 after a bank fraud conviction. Each of his guilty pleas, worked out with prosecutors in advance, was related to his maintenance of the two identities.

In turn, the government agreed to drop four more probation violation charges, all of which pertained to Mr. Nakoulaís work on the “ Innocence of Muslims.” Prosecutors had maintained that Mr. Nakoula lied to the police about the extent of his involvement in the project.

In accordance with the sentencing request by Robert Dugdale, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted the case, Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled that Mr. Nakoula would serve one year in prison followed by four years of probation. She rejected a request for home confinement in lieu of prison from Mr. Nakoulaís lawyer, Steve Seiden, telling Mr. Nakoula that he had already “ struck a deal far more favorable than he might have otherwise suffered.”

U.S. Public Opinion Toward Arabs and Islam: How “The Video Incident” May Affect U.S.-Muslim Relations

A provocatively offensive film and violent demonstrations protesting it have once again roiled the relationships between Americans, Arabs and Muslims. In both the United States and the volatile transition states of North Africa, popular reactions have been swift, severe and complicated by domestic politics. But beyond the partisan scorekeeping and the loudly raised voices, how have these recent events changed the way the American public views Arab and Muslim communities? Within the emerging democratic Arab states, how has the furor over the video altered the public debate regarding freedom of speech, civil liberties and other constitutional rights? Finally, how are these issues examined within the context of religious expression, pluralism and tolerance—values that are central to American identity?

On October 8, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings hosted a discussion on these questions and unveiled a new University of Maryland public opinion poll examining attitudes just days after violence erupted in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The poll, conducted by Nonresident Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami, gauges American public attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims and toward U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Highlights of key findings from the poll include:

1. Most Americans believe that the the recent violent attacks against the American embassies in Libya and Egypt are the work of extremist minorities, not majorities, but most are dissatisfied with the reactions of the Libyan and Egyptian governments.

2. There is support for decreasing aid to Egypt, but not for stopping it.

3. A majority of Americans believes that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would result in a drastic oil price increase, Iranian attacks on American bases, and a worsened American strategic position in the Middle East.

4. Majorities of the American public support increasing sanctions on Syria and imposing an international no-fly zone, but overwhelmingly oppose bombing Syria, arming rebels, or sending troops to Syria.

Man Tied to Anti-Islam Video Held on Probation Charge

LOS ANGELES — Muslims across the Middle East outraged by an anti-Islam film made in America wanted swift punishment for the man behind the movie, and now Mark Basseley Youssef is behind bars. But he’s jailed for lying about his identity, not because of the video’s content.

Court documents show Youssef, 55, legally changed his name from Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in 2002, but never told federal authorities, who now are using that as part of the probation violation case against him.

Youssef was ordered jailed without bail Thursday until a hearing is held to determine if he violated terms of his supervised release on a 2010 bank fraud conviction. Prosecutors allege he used multiple aliases and lied to his probation officers about his real name.

Youssef, an Egyptian-born Christian who’s now a U.S. citizen, sought to obtain a passport in his new name but still had a California driver’s license as Nakoula, assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Friday. Youssef used a third name, Sam Bacile, in association with the 14-minute trailer for the movie “Innocence of Muslims” that was posted on YouTube. It portrays Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile.

The case isn’t about Youssef’s First Amendment right to make a controversial film. Rather, Dugdale said, it’s about his failure to live up to his obligation to be truthful with federal authorities.

“The fact that he wasn’t using his true name with probation, that’s where the problem is,” said Dugdale, who noted federal authorities now will refer to Nakoula as Youssef.

Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles’ School of Law, said U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal’s decision to order Youssef held without bail is supported by the evidence.

Judge Rejects Request by Actress That YouTube Remove Anti-Muslim Video

A US actress who appeared in an amateur anti-Islam video that sparked protests across the Muslim world is suing the film’s suspected director.

Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a “hateful” film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.

She is also asking a judge to order YouTube to remove the film.

The film, Innocence of Muslims, which was made in the United States, has sparked protests across the Middle East, North Africa and as far away as Sri Lanka, with some demonstrations turning into destructive and violent riots.

According to Ms Garcia, the script she received had made no mention of the Prophet Muhammad or made references to religion.  She claims she has received death threats since the video was posted to YouTube, and says her association with the film has harmed her reputation.

In a court filing lodged with Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, Ms Garcia alleged fraud, slander and intentional infliction of emotional distress. YouTube has so far refused Ms Garcia’s requests to remove the film, according to the lawsuit, although it has blocked it in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.

“This lawsuit is not an attack on the First Amendment nor on the right of Americans to say what they think, but does request that the offending content be removed from the Internet,” the complaint states.

Google, which owns YouTube, has blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt.

A spokesman for YouTube said they were reviewing the complaint and would be in court on Thursday.

Google Has No Plans to Rethink Video Status

SAN FRANCISCO — Google said on Friday that it would not comply with a White House request to reconsider the anti-Islam video that has set off violent protests in the Arab world in light of its rules banning hate speech on YouTube, which it owns.

 

Google said it had already determined that the video did not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech. In this case, the video stays up because it is against the Islam religion but not Muslim people.

 

These actions came after Google temporarily blocked the video on Wednesday in Egypt and Libya of its own volition — not because it violated laws or YouTube’s terms of service — an extraordinary measure that it said it took in response to the delicacy of the situation. The video is accessible in the rest of the world, even as protests spread to nearly 20 countries, from North Africa to Indonesia.

Meanwhile, a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that the company had restricted access to a link to the film in Pakistan, at the request of its government.

 

Kevin Bankston, director of the free expression project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit group that focuses on digital civil liberties, said that Google, as a private company, could decide what was appropriate on its sites and what was not. But he added, “Considering the power that many of these platforms have, it’s important for them to be as clear and transparent as possible about those decisions.”

Germany’s Far-Right Campaigns with Xenophobic Posters & Islamophobic Video

20./ 21.12.2011

Officers of Berlin’s Federal Police Department searched the offices of Germany’s extreme right-wing Nationalist Democratic Party (NPD) shortly before Christmas. The search was a reaction to the party’s xenophobic and islamophobic campaign for the Berlin state elections in September. The party used various posters that violated the dignity especially of Muslims living in Germany; one poster, for instance, showed a cartoon drawing of a woman with a headscarf, a man with a turban and a black person on a “magic carpet” with the comment “Have a nice trip home”. Furthermore, the party published an islamophobic video on their website. However, the police search for evidence against the two leading members of the party was not successful.

The search of the party’s offices in Berlin was shortly after the second attempt to ban the party altogether. Following the arrest of a former NPD member suspected of being involved in the murder of nine foreigners, the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 federal states had agreed to set up a working group to launch a new legal case against the party. Germany’s Interior Minister Friedrich explicitly articulated the aim to outlaw the party.