Young Muslim musicians marry faith, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll

In the early 1970s, singers such as the late Larry Norman transformed Christian music from hymns to rock ‘n’ roll by asking one simple question:

Why should the devil have all the good music?

Now a group of young Muslim musicians is doing the same for Islamic songs known as “nasheeds,” by combining hip-hop, country and pop music with the traditional message of their faith.

“Nasheeds are supposed to remind people of God,” said 22-year-old Mo Sabri of Johnson City, Tenn., one of the first Muslim singers with his own channel on Pandora.com. “If it has a good message, a song can be a rock song or have guitars and still be a nasheed.”

Sabri, 22, first began writing hip-hop nasheeds about two years ago. He sells his songs on iTunes and posts videos on YouTube. His first, called “Heaven Is Where Her Heart Is,” is about finding a girl who puts God first in her life.

His most popular song, “I Believe in Jesus,” has already been viewed on YouTube more than 1 million times.

Sabri said he wrote the song as a reminder that Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet and that all faiths should follow Jesus’ command to love their neighbors. It’s an idea that’s easier to spread in a song than in a debate because people will sing along before they have a chance to argue.

 

After Woolwich, don’t ban hate speech, counter it. Hate it, too

Facing Islamist violence, the British home secretary, like her counterparts in Europe, wrongly reaches for censorship The home secretary, Theresa May. ‘What May proposes is impractical, illiberal, short-sighted and counter-productive.’

 

In response to the vile murder of a British soldier by two Islamist extremists armed with meat cleavers, the home secretary, Theresa May, has suggested a broadcasting ban on people who hold “disgusting views” and the pre-censorship of online hate speech. We face a real threat of violence here, as do other European countries. Another Islamist extremist was arrested in France and has admitted to stabbing a French soldier. But this is not the way to reduce that threat. What May proposes is impractical, illiberal, short-sighted and counter-productive. It would curb a vital freedom without enhancing our security. Her suggestion should be consigned to the dustbin of hysteria.

 

The home secretary will reply that she wants to place the blocking duty not with her own bureaucratic enforcers but with Ofcom, the public regulator of broadcasting. But now a state regulator is to pre-censor editorial content, at the bidding of an interior minister, in the name of defending public security and fighting terrorism?

 

May’s proposed ban is impractical. If it didn’t work in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher tried to stop Sinn Féin/IRA spokespeople breathing the “oxygen of publicity” on terrestrial television, how much less will it work today – when publicity-hungry Islamist provocateurs like Anjem Choudary can just go off and post their videos on YouTube. So, says our knee-jerk home secretary, we should consider getting Google and YouTube, as well as the broadcasters, to block such footage in advance. Now not everything that Google does is good, whether on tax, competition or privacy, but to impose on it the editorial obligation to pre-screen everything going up on YouTube would destroy something incredibly valuable: an unprecedented ability to speak directly to one another, across oceans and continents.

No, the way to fight these preachers of violent extremism is not to ban them but to take them on, in every medium. Editorial judgments must be made – by editors, not by interior ministers.

 

Anonymous Hacks English Defence League, Publishes Member Information

29 May 2013

 

Anonymous, the shadowy global network of computer hackers, has carried out a cyber attack on the English Defence League (EDL) and released member information including names, addresses, and phone numbers. A YouTube video created by the group claimed that the attack was in response to a number of far-right groups, including the EDL, seizing on the Woolwich attack to further their campaigns of “hate, bigotry, and misinformation.”

 

The video, posted by member IWill Object and entitled “A Message from Anonymous UK to the English Defence League,” warns of future cyber attacks and threatens the EDL with “the systematic and comprehensive decimation of your cult.”

 

The personal details of EDL members and donors were published online on Tuesday. At least one EDL member has since received threats via calls by “anti-fascists and Muslims” to his mobile phone number since the information was released. The EDL has been particularly vocal in its condemnation of the Woolwich attack, condemnation which it has directed principally towards the Muslim community. The group organized a number of rallies last week, including a high-profile march to Downing Street on Monday which attracted more than 1,000 protestors.

 

NY Times Book Review: The Messenger and the Message

‘The First Muslim,’ by Lesley Hazleton

 

FirstMuslim-CoverIn today’s febrile cultural and religious climate, what project could be more fraught than writing a biography of Muhammad? The worldwide protests at “The Innocence of Muslims,” 14 minutes of trashy provocation posted on YouTube, are a terrible reminder to the would-be biographer that the life story of the prophet of Islam is not material about which one is free to have a “take.” Lesley Hazleton’s “First Muslim” is a book written by a white woman of dual American and British citizenship, published in America more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks. For many believers it is already — even before it is read, if it is read at all — an object of suspicion, something to be defended against, in case it should turn out to be yet another insult, another cruel parody of a story such an author has no business telling.

 

“The First Muslim” tells this story with a sort of jaunty immediacy. Bardic competitions are “the sixth-century equivalent of poetry slams.” The section of the Koran known as the Sura of the Morning has “an almost environmentalist approach to the natural world.” Theological ideas and literary tropes are “memes” that can go “viral.” Readers irritated by such straining for a contemporary tone will find it offset by much useful and fascinating context on everything from the economics of the Meccan caravan trade to the pre-Islamic lineage of prophets called hanifs, who promoted monotheism and rejected idolatry.

 

In the terms it sets itself, “The First Muslim” succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate. It deserves to find readers. However, its terms are those of the popular biography, and this creates a tension the book never quite resolves. Though based on scholarship, it is not a scholarly work. Factual material from eighth- and ninth-century histories is freely mixed with speculation about Muhammad’s motives and emotions intended to allow the reader, in the quasi-therapeutic vocabulary that is the default register of so much mainstream contemporary writing, to “empathize” or better still, “identify with” him.

First VW, Now Coke: Soda Company’s Super Bowl Ad Being Called Racist By Arab-American Groups

arab_cokeSuper Bowl advertisers have been releasing their commercials earlier and earlier, mostly in an attempt to build social media buzz before the big game. But as advertisers this year are learning, with this new opportunity comes a great deal of risk.

Coca-Cola is running into similar charges of using racial stereotypes from Arab-American groups who are objecting to that company’s use of an Arab man with camels.

But the Arab-American objections to the ad go beyond that simple cliché. In the ad, three groups set off in a race towards a huge bottle of Coke. There is even an interactive element for viewers, who can vote on whether they want the cowboys, bikers or showgirls to reach the bottle first. They cannot, however vote for the Arab man.

Imam Ali Siddiqui, president of the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies told NBC News, “The Coke commercial for the Super Ball is racist, portraying Arabs as backward and foolish Camel Jockeys, and they have no chance to win in the world.”

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is also up in arms. “What message is Coke sending with this?” asked Abed Ayoub, the group’s director of legal and policy affairs. “By not including the Arab in the race, it is clear that the Arab is held to a different standard when compared to the other characters in the commercial.”

Ayoub is intending to reach out to CBS and Coke about changing the ad, which already has close to 1 million views on YouTube and an elaborate, interactive website. “I want to know why this happened and how can we fix this if possible before Sunday,”

 

Muslim speaks out against Muslim ‘vigilantes’

27 January 2013

 

Last week East London witnessed so-called “vigilante patrols” by a handful of “radical Muslim” men targeting women, gays and public drinkers. When the videos of harassment became available on YouTube, it caused widespread public outrage and the police launched an investigation and have arrested six people who were then bailed out.

 

According to the Independent, locals say the “patrols” have failed to spark the kind of inter-communal animosity they were hoping to achieve with their attacks. Yet the Muslim groups strongly condemned the incident calling it “abhorrent”.

Shaikh Shams Ad Duha, principle of  the Ebrahim College in East London, in a sermon at East London Mosque which was placed on YouTube and has been viewed 20,000 times in less than a week, lambasted the men in the video for being “complete bigots” who were contravening Islamic law, not enforcing it.

Muslim Council of Britain and other Muslim organizations have also condemned the “vigilantes”.

Calif. judge denies another bid by actress to take down anti-Muslim film from YouTube

LOS ANGELES — An actress who appeared in the anti-Muslim film blamed for sparking violence in the Middle East has lost another legal bid to have the trailer taken down from YouTube.

A federal judge in Los Angeles denied a motion for injunction on Friday by Cindy Lee Garcia. It wasn’t immediately known whether Garcia’s attorneys would file an appeal.

Garcia lost a similar legal challenge in state court when a judge rejected her lawsuit in September.

“Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a religious fraud and womanizer, enraged Muslims and ignited violence in the Middle East, killing dozens.

Garcia said she was duped by the man behind the film, Mark Bassely Youssef and the script she saw referenced neither Muslims nor Mohammad. She also said her voice had been dubbed over after filming.

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.”

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.