Man confesses to Missouri mosque and clinic fires, prosecutors say

October 22, 2013

 

A Missouri man has confessed to twice trying to set a Planned Parenthood Clinic on fire and also admitted to setting a blaze that destroyed a mosque in the same town in 2012, federal prosecutors said in court documents filed on Monday.

When Jedediah Stout, 29, was charged Friday with two arson attempts at the Joplin, Missouri, clinic on October 3 and 4, authorities made no mention of his suspected involvement in an August 6, 2012, blaze that gutted the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque.

But in a motion filed on Monday seeking Stout’s continued detention, federal prosecutors said he also had confessed to the mosque blaze and an earlier fire at the mosque on July 4, 2012, that caused minor roof damage. Stout remains in custody pending a Tuesday hearing.

Muslim community leaders raised more than $400,000 from around the world in less than three weeks to help rebuild the mosque in Joplin, the only Muslim house of worship within a 50-mile radius, according to a website posting at the time. Money is still being raised for the project.

Authorities gave no motive for Stout’s alleged actions at the mosque or the Planned Parenthood clinic, which does not provide abortion services.

According to a federal affidavit, surveillance video helped identify Stout as a suspect.

 

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/22/us-usa-crime-missouri-idUSBRE99L04A20131022

Comments by Rector of Islamic University Rotterdam Draw Attention

October 18, 2013

 

The rector of the Islamic University of Rotterdam (IUR) has become the target of press attention after publishing an article stating his views on various aspects of Islamic practice for Sunni and Alevi Muslims and his perspectives on current political events in Turkey. The publication appeared on the personal website of rector Ahmet Akgündüz in Turkish. It has been summarized in Dutch and English news sources in the Netherlands with considerable variation.

Newspaper Trouw notes that Akgündüz states the impossibility of dialogue with anyone who does not adhere to the six principles of faith and five pillars of Islam, and that it is not permissible to intermarry with or eat food slaughtered by some Alevi Muslims. According to Trouw, he further opposes the building of a Sunni-Alevi mosque complex nearby Ankara.

The English publication NIS news claims that Akgündüz’s publication calls opponents of Turkish Premier Erdogan “enemies of Islam”. Their quotation of Akgündüz’s statement that stoning is “one of the prescribed punishment within Islam” is amplified as material for the headline of their article “Islamic University Dean Supports Stoning”.

The unclarity over Akgündüz’s position and the controversial article prompted attention from the Dutch government, with members of the Liberal (VVD), Labour (PvDA), and Christian Democrat parties citing concern about the article, primarily due to the role of the Islamic University of Rotterdam in training Imams in the Netherlands.

In response to the controversy, the IUR has issued a press release stating that it stands in solidarity with the rector, emphasizing his academic qualifications and asserting that the views he presents in his writings are sufficiently neutral and not politically motivated. The press release also asserts that the statements in the media misquote Akgündüz’s position, directly contradicting the quoted positions regarding the acceptability of marriage to or eating meat slaughtered by Alevi Muslims.

Conversation in the press, and clarifications of Akgündüz’s position, is ongoing.

 

 

Personal website post of Ahmet Akgündüz (Turkish)- http://new.ahmetakgunduz.com/?p=112

NIS News (English)- http://www.nisnews.nl/islamic-university-dean-supports-stoning.html

Trouw (Dutch)- http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/5091/Religie/article/detail/3528817/2013/10/17/Rector-Islamitische-Uni-dialoog-met-niet-moslims-is-onmogelijk.dhtml

Press release IUR (Dutch)- http://www.nieuwwij.nl/nieuws/iur-onjuiste-berichtgeving/

Derby Muslim faith school closes on first day of Ofsted inspection

A controversial Islamic faith school in Derby – under fire for forcing female staff to wear headscarves – abruptly shut its doors on Wednesday hours after the arrival of inspectors from Ofsted, citing unspecified “health and safety” as the reason.

 

Parents who visited the Al-Madinah school, which opened last year as part of the government’s free school programme, said they were told by staff that the reason for the sudden closure was confidential. In a statement, Ofsted said: “We can confirm that Ofsted is currently undertaking a two-day inspection of the Al-Madinah school in Derby.

 

The inspection and the closure comes less than two weeks after a teacher quit the school which has about 200 pupils from reception class to age 13, saying all female staff were being required to follow Islamic dress codes and that pupils were being segregated in classrooms, with girls sitting at the back.

 

The inspection by Ofsted was triggered by complaints about the school after the Derby Telegraph revealed the allegations. The school is also being investigated by the Education Funding Agency, the schools’ financial watchdog, over alleged irregularities involving contracts with suppliers, while the Department for Education is said to have had the school under review before the public allegations were made. The Department for Education said: “We are waiting for Ofsted’s final report and considering all legal options.”

 

A note to parents on the school’s website from head teacher Stuart Wilson told parents: “Owing to a health and safety issue, I have taken the decision to close the school to primary and secondary pupils until I am confident that all children are safe on site.” The school is expected to reopen “in the very near future,” according to the message.

 

Fox & Friends Host Airs Fake Story About Obama Funding Muslim Museum

The National Report strikes again.

The satirical website, which is less obviously satirical than the Onion (and some would say far less funny) fooled Fox News host Anna Kooimaninto believing its fake story that President Barack Obama was using personal funds to keep a Muslim museum open during the government shutdown.

Of course this juxtaposed perfectly against a story of veterans being denied entry into the World War II memorial, which was probably the National Report’s goal all along.

Diesel Burqa Ad: Islamophobic Or Empowering?

(RNS) Islamophobic or empowering? Those are among the reactions to a new Diesel jeans ad featuring a heavily tattooed, topless white woman wearing a redesigned, denim burqa.

The slogan next to her: “I Am Not What I Appear To Be.”

Racist and condescending are among the criticisms that have been leveled at the ad, created by Nicola Formichetti, former stylist to Lady Gaga, who made waves last month with her song “Burqa.” But others, including a female Muslim marketing consultant who advised Diesel, said the idea was to make people question assumptions and stereotypes.

“This was to challenge that idea that when you see a woman in a burqa, or niqab or even hijab, that you assume certain things about her,” said Ameena Meer, an observant Muslim and founder and principal of Take-Out Media, the consulting firm that advised Diesel.

Not everyone sees it that way. Sana Saeed, senior editor at the Islamic legal news website Islawmix, tweeted that she has dreaded the day when capitalism would consume the veil.

And Shruti Parekh, a New York City videographer and member of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, wrote that the ad is “rife with Islamophobia and attacks on the Muslim world.”

While Muslim women in the West who wear burqas must suffer through negative connotations and open hostility, Parekh wrote, the white model in Diesel’s ad doesn’t.

Islamic group urges sobriety – and invests in bar chain

An Islamic organisation that has argued sobriety is an “obligation on Muslims” and a “revolutionary duty” has invested in a bar chain offering £1 “shooters’” and £3 cocktails.

 

Accounts filed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s charitable trust in 2009 listed as an investment the Baa Bar Group, a Liverpool-based company with eight locations across the North of England, worth £38,250. Accounts for the year ending 30 June 2012 showed continued investment in the chain, which on its website encourages customers to “follow their own deepest of animal instincts”. The message couldn’t be more different from the IHRC’s own publications. Among these is Quest For Unity by Imam Achmad Cassiem. The report says: “The greatest underminer and saboteur of discipline and confidence is alcohol and so-called social drinking.” It goes on to claim that the “oppressor” is “making enormous profits from liquor” and urges Muslims to refrain from producing, distributing and consuming alcohol.

 

The IHRC did not respond to invitations for a response and The Baa Bar Group declined to comment. However Jacob Campbell, research director for Stand for Peace, an interfaith organisation that campaigns against extremism, is quoted as saying: “Although bizarre on the face of it, it actually isn’t all that surprising. Islamist groups tend to take the view that the ends invariably justify the means… Better by far to become morally bankrupt than financially so.”.

Abu Qatada’s family follow him out of Britain

Abu Qatada’s wife and five children left their taxpayer funded home in north-west London and were driven to Heathrow Airport by officials from the Home Office just after lunchtime. They then boarded the 5.05pm American Airlines flight to Amman, where Qatada is currently awaiting trial of terrorism charges.

 

The family’s departure signals a victory for the Home Office, which successfully secured Qatada’s deportation from Britain last month, following a decade long legal battle, which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer in excess of £3 million. A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed that the family had left and said they had also abandoned their bid to be granted the right to live here permanently. Sources said the Home Secretary would also use the powers available to her to prevent the family from returning to Britain in the future.

 

Members of the extremist English Defence League had also held protests against the family’s continued presence in the UK. In a letter to an Islamic website, one of Qatada’s sons recently wrote: “Racist pressure groups in Britain hold demonstrations outside the house on a weekly basis between four in the afternoon and eleven in the evening. These demonstrators would scream and curse at us and at Islam.”

Boston Marathon bombing suspects met 9/11 conspiracy theorist through mom’s health aide job

BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev befriended a brain-damaged anti-U.S. government conspiracy theorist through their mother’s health care aide job years before the deadly attack, a lawyer said Tuesday.

 

Attorney Jason Rosenberg, who represents the family of Donald Larking, said Larking shared publications with the brothers and discussed theories including that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting didn’t happen or the U.S. government was behind them.

 

The attorney said the Tsarnaev family had a relationship with the Larkings that started years ago when the brothers’ mother began working as a personal care assistant for Larking’s wife, a quadriplegic since birth.

 

Rosenberg said Larking, who lives in West Newton, just west of Boston, was shot in the head in 1974 in an attempted robbery while working in a convenience store. He said Larking suffered brain damage that led to problems with his decision-making and judgment.

 

The lawyer’s account first emerged in a Wall Street Journal article, which included Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s former landlady talking about publications that had been in his Cambridge apartment.

Landlady Joanna Herlihy told The Associated Press she salvaged publications after authorities had searched the apartment and items were discarded. She confirmed that among them were an Alabama-based publication that uses a Confederate flag on its website and a weekly publication that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls anti-Semitic.

 

Rosenberg said Tuesday he doesn’t think Larking helped the Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, formulate ideas but may have made them believe others felt as they did.

 

“(They) were seeing someone who was Caucasian and was born in America who was saying the same things,” the attorney said.

The brothers took Larking to their mosque, and he converted to Islam and still attends the mosque, Rosenberg said.

Muslim woman asked to remove headscarf during bar exam in Springfield

On Wednesday and Thursday, law school graduates aspiring to practice in the Commonwealth gathered in Boston and Springfield to take the 16-hour bar exam, broken into several parts. During the morning portion of the test Thursday, recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School Iman Abdulrazzak was handed a note from an exam proctor asking her to remove her headscarf.

 

The note, written in capitalized block letters read, “Headwear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. We have no record of you being given prior written approval. Please remove your headwear and place it under your seat for the afternoon session.”

While “headwear including hats, scarves, caps, hoods, bandanas, visors, costume headgear or sunglasses” are prohibited from the examination room, religious headwear is permitted. “Headwear that has been granted prior approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for religious or medical reasons only,” according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners’ security policy.

Such religious headwear includes Jewish yarmulkes, Muslim hijabs and Sikh dastars.

Though it is clear that prior approval is needed for headwear, Abdulrazzak said her request to wear the hijab was approved Monday. Additionally, it is unclear why the proctor gave her the note during the exam instead of waiting until the lunch break.

During the break for lunch, Abdulrazzak called the Bar office to request she be allowed to take the exam in the afternoon with her hijab on.

Executive Director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners Marilyn Wellington told law news website Above The Law the issue was resolved quickly.

Islam is way more English than the English Defence League

The English Defence League’s definition of what constitutes the English working class is a classic case of projection. To take the “working class” tag, never mind that Tommy Robinson (the leader of the EDL) owns his own business and so is technically petit-bourgeois – making him officially entitled to buy a cream and gold bathroom. The more contentious bit of the EDL’s identity is its claim to represent “the English”. The problem with this claim is that a hundred people will come up with a hundred ways of defining Englishness and each with disagree violently with each other. To quote George Bernard Shaw: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.”

 

So while football hooliganism (out of which the EDL has spawned), covering your car in St George’s flags (English flag as opposed to the Union Jack), wearing balaclavas (a prevalent item of clothing at EDL marches and rallies) and spending time in prison (Tommy Robinson the leader of the EDL has been convicted of assault) is one definition of Englishness, others do exist. Today our meetings with foreign cultures are awkward precisely because we lack a solid sense of who we are. A lot of the fear shown towards Islam comes from the death of the Christian soul – we see a people who actually believe in something and we are intimidated.

 

By contrast, most Muslims cling on to values that were once definitively English and that we could do with rediscovering. Islam instructs its followers to cherish their families, to venerate women, to treat strangers kindly, to obey the law of any country they are in (yes, yes, it really does), and to give generously. One recent poll found that British Muslims donate more money to charity than any other religious group. Much is written about the need for Muslims to integrate better into English society, although states that 99 per cent of them probably already do.

 

This is a blog post written for the Daily Telegraph by Dr Tim Stanley. He is a historian of the United States. His biography of Pat Buchanan is available now. His personal website is www.timothystanley.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley.