Germany’s growing hate problem

Der Spiegel reports: Germany has a hate problem — one that is growing.

“You’re as big of an asshole as that idiot Ralf Stegner,” a certain Birgit M. recently wrote in a letter to Thomas Kutschaty, justice minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It was a referrence to the deputy party leader of state chapter of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who recently said the organizers of the weekly Pegida marches in Dresden and elsewhere should be investigated by intelligence services. “You should all be put in a sack and have a hammer taken to you,” Birgit M. wrote in her tirade.

Then there was the man who called Dorothea Moesch, a local SPD politician in Dortmund, late in the evening on June 30. “We’re going to get you,” he threatened. “We’re at your door.”

Another local SPD politician in Hesse, district administrator Erich Pipa, has been similarly threatened. “We can have you taken out at any time,” he was informed in a letter.

And in Bernau in the eastern state of Brandenburg, graffiti scrawled on the wall of a warehouse namechecking the local mayor reads, “First Henriette Reker (the mayoral candidate stabbed in Cologne last weekend), next André Stahl.”

These are but a few examples — four politicians who have taken a stand, and, if the threats are to be taken seriously, may now need to fear for their lives. Kutschaty fell into the crosshairs for saying, “Pegida is not about protecting the Western world, it’s about its demise.” Moesch, for her part, attracted ire because she organized a protest against right-wing extremism. Pipa became the target of hatred because he was recently awarded a Federal Cross of Merit, Germany’s highest civilian honor, for his longtime lobbying work on behalf of refugees. Finally, Stahl was the subject of denigration because of his public declaration that he wants refugees to feel welcome in his city. [Continue reading…]


Tweets on Justin Trudeau — elected Canadian prime minister


Harper’s campaign is embracing Islamophobia to make Canada’s election a referendum on the niqab

Rafia Zakaria writes: On Oct. 9, Zunaira Ishaq, an immigrant from Pakistan, finally took her citizenship oath and became a Canadian. Her refusal to take the oath without niqab, or a face veil, has been a subject of legal battle between Canada’s courts and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

This controversy has become a backdrop for Canada’s parliamentary elections today. Having lost legal challenges that would have prevented Ishaq from taking the oath while veiled, Harper’s Conservative Party is now vowing to pursue a niqab ban during citizenship ceremonies and to consider a wider ban for all public employees if re-elected. His opponents, the Liberal Party’s Justin Trudeau and the New Democratic Party’s Thomas Mulcair, have dismissed the niqab issue as a distraction and oppose such bans.

Harper’s fear-mongering reflects Canada’s growing distance from the “respect for multiculturalism” and “freedom of religion” enshrined in its own Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms. A Conservative victory in today’s polls would express an endorsement of Islamophobia and a xenophobic fear of the immigrant “other.” It will also show that the country’s commitment to women’s right to choose does not extend to Muslims who wear the face veil. [Continue reading…]


The German lynchmob: Islamophobe movement returns with a vengeance

Der Spiegel reports: “I’m not a Nazi,” the innkeeper says, standing without an umbrella in the rain. “I know negroes, I know the döner kebab Turks. I just want my peace and quiet and my German rights.”

“Those aren’t Nazis,” the neighbor says, pointing to a group of young men. “Those are young people who the system has turned into who they are.”

We’re going to have to defend ourselves against the “Kanaken,” says a steward wearing a white band on his upper arm, using a German racial slur that refers to Southern Europeans and people from the Middle East.

Last Wednesday night, in the Einsiedel district of Chemnitz, a city in the eastern state of Saxony, a barricade set up by local citizens was still standing, as it had been for the past 48 hours. Once again, hundreds of people had gathered on Anton Hermann Strasse, which leads straight past pretty burgher houses up to a camp that used to belong to the Pioneers, the East German equivalent of the Boy and Girl Scouts. Those manning the barricade weren’t letting anyone through who wasn’t obviously recognizable as a local resident. The improvised checkpoint in front of a hotel was occupied around the clock.

An entry on the Facebook page for the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (more commonly known by its acronym, Pegida) had claimed last Monday that buses packed with “invaders” were making their way toward the camp. In response, local residents blocked the only road to the planned refugee accommodations — and Saxony police did nothing to stop them. [Continue reading…]


‘Homeland is racist’ graffiti artists sneak messages on the show


How the old left still struggles to face new realities in the Middle East

In an interview, Dr H.A. Hellyer says: Many of our assumptions have been challenged in the past 5 years, since the revolutionary uprisings took place in the Arab world. I can still remember a world where academics wrote about the ‘resistance axis’ in the region, and the likes of Hizbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus were a part of that, described as ‘counter-weights’ to the machinations of right-wing neoconservatism and imperialism. The frames are wholly different now, on both of those points, due to the Syrian revolutionary uprising – and that leads to an important question for the Arab anti-imperialist left, as well as the old left in the West. Is this what left-wing politics is about, where we sacrifice the Syrian revolutionary uprising on the altar of some kind of imagined ‘resistance’ – while another type of foreign interference, be it from Tehran, Moscow, or Hizbollah, is critical in propping up a regime that has overseen the killing of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians? That’s a question that ought to be asked. In so doing, I hope the answer is not for the left to decide that they ought to become akin to the right-wing, whether in the West or the Arab world, and lose their time-honoured commitments to social justice as leftists. But rather, that the left ought to become more nuanced, and really take seriously the autonomy of people as a motivating factor, even when it is politically inconvenient. [Continue reading…]

Last year, Germano Monti, a freelance journalist and pro-Palestinian activist, wrote that neo-Nazis, Stalinists, Catholic fundamentalists and pacifists have found common ground in a diffuse brand of anti-imperialism: Fear of Islam is playing an increasingly significant role in the politics of the right wing. In the run-up to this year’s European elections, the leaders of various European extreme right-wing groups have met on a number of occasions – in Spain last November, for example, and in Rome in February 2014. Jens Pühse of the German NPD attended the Spanish meeting, as did members of the Syrian National Socialist Party (SSNP).

The SSNP is a close ally of Assad’s ruling Baath party and has two members in the Syrian cabinet: the deputy prime minister and another minister. The party deploys its own units to fight side-by-side with the regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah militias against the Syrian rebels. The ideology of the SSNP, which was founded in 1932 in Beirut, as well as its symbolism are obviously modelled on that of German National Socialism: a raised right arm is used as a salute, and the emblem emblazoned on the flag closely resembles a swastika. The SSNP’s Italian representative is the aforementioned Ouday Ramadan, who is in charge of organising support for the Assad regime in Italy.

The rapprochement between neo-Nazis, Catholic fundamentalists, Stalinists and pacifists under the banner of anti-imperialism is a crucial factor in the lack of solidarity with the Syrian people, particularly in left-wing circles. This small “red-brown army” is extraordinarily active on the Internet, with websites and blogs that initially seem to be left wing. Over the past three years, this army has managed to paralyse the Italian solidarity and peace movement for Syria by relentlessly invoking the spectre of a supposed NATO attack on Syria and a Zionist-Salafist plot against the Assad clan’s “secular, anti-imperialist and socialist” regime. [Continue reading…]


Anti-Muslim rallies end up inspiring acts of love and service

Carol Kuruvilla writes: A loosely affiliated group of armed protestors organized anti-Muslim hate rallies across the country on Friday and Saturday. But instead of dividing the communities they targeted, news about the rallies strengthened bonds between interfaith allies and inspired numerous acts of community service around the U.S.

Grassroots organizers behind the so-called “Global Rally For Humanity” used Facebook to encourage “fellow patriots” to protest Islam outside their local mosques and Muslim community centers. On some pages, the protests were billed as “open carry” events and participants were encouraged to come armed with guns.

Although up to 35 Facebook pages were created in support of the rally, according to the anti-bigotry group Center for New Community, the majority of these were deactivated in the days leading up to Friday.

And in an extraordinary show of solidarity, interfaith networks in neighborhoods across America and online stepped up to show their support for their Muslim friends. [Continue reading…]


Britain struggles with its portrayal of Muslim citizens

H A Hellyer writes: This week at the conference of Britain’s ruling party, the Conservatives, prime minister David Cameron raised the issues of extremism and integration in Muslim British communities. Last week, the “Britishness” of one of the Muslim contestants in The Great British Bake Off, a television cooking show, was queried, and a Muslim woman who models for H&M found herself at the centre of a similar experience. The Muslim cook in a headscarf, Nadiya Hussain, won the contest to wide acclaim. But in 2015, the issue of “Muslims and Britain” still does not seem to have been resolved, even though it has been discussed for quite some time.

When Mariah Idrissi accepted an offer to model for fashion retailer H&M while wearing her headscarf, she probably expected some opposition from mainstream society. Yet, few could have quite predicted the barrage that came from some quarters. An otherwise reasonable conservative English commentator, Peter Hitchens, took the opportunity to raise the alarm. He suggested that it wouldn’t be long before Britain had “veiled Muslim Cabinet ministers, TV newsreaders and judges” and that this was “all part of a slow but unstoppable adaptation of this country to Islam”. As a result, non-Muslim women would eventually be pressured to “conform” by disappearing “beneath scarves and shrouds”.

It was a rather peculiar claim. Britain is a tolerant democracy, with a special role for the Anglican Church. All of that ensures that faith is generally respected within the confines of the rule of law. Already, there are Muslim women with headscarves who serve the United Kingdom as civil servants and lawyers – why would Cabinet ministers or judges prove to be some kind of dreaded milestone? The excellent journalist Fatima Manji is already a popular face on TV screens via her work on Channel 4. Has that, somehow, led to undue pressure on even her colleagues to wear headscarves, let alone the rest of the British population? Obviously not.

But Hitchens is hitting at a particular issue, as is Mr Cameron, and others, albeit from a variety of angles. The issue remains: is it possible for Muslims to be discussed in public discourse simply as British citizens, rather than problematic in some way? [Continue reading…]


The U.S. gazes into the Islamophobic abyss

By Christian Christensen

“When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race — out of every race. America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect.”

These are eloquent words. Words of justice and understanding. Words of reconciliation. They are the words of President George W. Bush – spoken at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on September 17, 2001 – a mere 6 days after the Al Qaeda attacks that killed almost 3,000 in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. They are also the words of a President who said that Jesus Christ was the political philosopher who had influenced him the most. And, they are the words of a President who, using falsehoods on Iraqi WMD and links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda as moral and legal justifications, would green light a military invasion and occupation of Iraq that would leave hundreds of thousands of civilians dead and an entire region destabilized.

Fast-forward 14 years to the candidacies of Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Would either man utter the words uttered by Bush, let alone only days after the 9/11 attacks?

[Read more…]


Donald Trump: I would send Syrian refugees home

BBC News reports: Donald Trump has said he would send home all Syrian refugees the US accepts, if he becomes president.

The billionaire, who is the current frontrunner in the Republican race for the White House, told a New Hampshire rally: “If I win, they’re going back.”

It marks a reversal in policy – earlier this month he told Fox News the US should take in more refugees.

A migrant crisis has gripped parts of Europe and the US has pledged to take 10,000 refugees from Syria next year.

Half a million people have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe in 2015, with the largest number from Syria, where 250,000 people have been killed in a civil war.

On Wednesday night, Mr Trump told an audience at Keene High School: “I hear we want to take in 200,000 Syrians. And they could be – listen, they could be Isis [Islamic State].”

Describing them as a “200,000-man army”, he later added: “I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they’re going back.” [Continue reading…]


Islamophobia has a long history in the U.S.

Khaled Beydoun writes: On the morning of 19 April 1995, the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was rocked by a bomb. The domestic terrorist attack killed 168 people and injured 680 more. Minutes after, media reports speculated that “Islamic extremists” or “Arab radicals” were the culprits.

Ninety minutes after the explosions, Timothy McVeigh – a white, Christian male – was arrested and later linked to the attack. There had been no evidence to support the idea Muslims had anything to do with the bombing.

Despite people with similar ideologies to McVeigh were responsible for the majority of domestic terrorist attacks in 1995 – a figure still true today – the legislation that followed the Oklahoma city bombing did not place its focus there.

The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) was the beginning of policing of Muslim subjects and communities. One part of this legislation led to the disparate investigation of Muslim American political and social activity, while another led to the deportation of Muslims with links – real or fictive – to terrorist activity.

This policing was broadened and intensified after the 9/11 terrorists attacks. More recently, US Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme, as well as political demagoguery, further expands the suspicious focus on Muslims. [Continue reading…]


New poll highlights the depth of Islamophobia among Republicans

A poll of Republican primary voters in North Carolina included these findings: It’s safe to say Ben Carson and Donald Trump’s recent comments about Islam aren’t going to hurt them too much with their base of supporters. 44% of Carson voters think Islam should be illegal in the United States, to only 38% who think it should be legal. And with Trump voters the numbers are even more extreme — 52% think Islam should be illegal to just 31% that believe it should be allowed. Republican voters in the state as a whole are evenly divided with 40% thinking the practice of Islam should be legal and 40% thinking it should not.

Given those numbers it’s not surprising that on the more narrow issue of whether a Muslim should be allowed to serve as President, only 16% of Republicans say yes to 72% who say no. And this all feeds into a broader concern that President Obama is waging a war on Christianity — 72% express that sentiment to only 20% who disagree with it. [Continue reading…]


Long after 9/11, a pervasive climate of Islamophobia persists across America

The Guardian reports: Aya Beydoun wants to be president of the United States. On paper, the 17-year-old already is not an implausible future occupant of the White House.

She’s an ambitious, articulate, near straight-A student, planning to use a college law degree as a stepping stone to politics. She already chairs her high school politics club.

Her problem – at least according to Ben Carson, one of the leading presidential candidates in the current Republican field – would be that she is Muslim.

Aya’s voice quivers when she mentions Carson, a former paediatric neurosurgeon who studied at the University of Michigan just a few miles from her home.

The teenager was at home last Sunday, watching the TV with her mother, Wanda, whose parents came to America fleeing the Lebanese civil war in 1970, when the pair heard Carson’s incendiary remarks.

In his trademark quiet, civil voice, Carson, who is currently trailing only Donald Trump in the Republican polls, said on NBC News on Sunday that Islam is incompatible with the US constitution and he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation”.

Beydoun said: “I see a lot of awful things in the media; people dying, discrimination, politicians being disgusting, but this really hit home because that was me he was talking about.”

“I’m educated enough to know that what he’s saying is absolutely against the constitution, but what about all the kids in my area who don’t know that? Now they’re going to think that maybe they have to lie or keep their religion a secret, maybe they can never fulfil their dreams.”

Carson’s comments did not emerge from a vacuum. They marked just the latest example of an increasing tolerance for Islamophobia in the Republican presidential race, as views historically associated with the Tea Party fringe have been thrust to the mainstream. [Continue reading…]


This is how easy it is to be suspected of being a radical if you’re Muslim

BuzzFeed reports: British Muslims have detailed the innocent, everyday acts that have led to individuals being suspected as radicals, from holding open doors to writing class projects about foreign policy.

Amid international criticism of the arrest of a Texan schoolboy for building a clock his teacher thought was a hoax bomb, a new report highlights growing concern among UK Muslims that they are being unfairly targeted for being suspected extremists.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) submitted the examples to David Anderson QC, the UK’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, who included them in his annual report published on Thursday. In the report, Anderson warned the government’s counter-terrorism legislation risked alienating Muslims and could provoke a backlash in certain communities. [Continue reading…]


Why Ahmed Mohamed should have been a topic at Wednesday’s GOP debate

Philip Bump writes: If there were a story tailor-made for the current political moment, it is the story of Ahmed Mohamed. Mohamed is the Irving, Tex., high school freshman whose homemade clock was inexplicably mistaken for a bomb by a teacher at his school.

That is an admittedly generous use of the word “inexplicably.” Mohamed is the son of an immigrant from Sudan. His father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed, told the Dallas Morning News that his son “just wants to invent good things for mankind. But because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

That’s not an unreasonable assumption. The incident occurred only a few days after the 14th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. And as the Morning News makes obvious with the “related” stories that accompany its article that the city leadership in Irving, Tex., was criticized earlier this year for a law that some perceived as unfairly targeting Muslims. [Continue reading…]


Ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the Central African Republic largely ignored by media

Khaled A Beydoun writes: Muslims are only newsworthy when behind the gun, not in front of it.

Modern journalism continually reaffirms this baseline with regards to domestic crises and, perhaps even more so, international human rights calamities.

The systematic targeting of Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR), a nation ravaged by strife since March of 2013, has devolved into massive scale ethnic cleansing.

However, few outside of the African nation and beyond the human rights community are even minimally aware of this humanitarian crisis.

In the past several weeks, armed militias have roved through the western part of the nation, intimidating and brutalising Muslims. [Continue reading…]


Activists want more transparency in counterterrorism efforts

The Associated Press reports: Muslim groups and civil rights activists across the nation Thursday called for greater transparency in a program by President Barack Obama’s administration that’s aimed at countering homegrown terrorism.

Organizers, including representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, spoke out at coordinated events in Boston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis — the three cities where the Countering Violent Extremism program is being piloted.

Among their concerns is that organizers still refuse to share basic information about what the localized efforts will actually look like. They also object to federal authorities conducting invitation-only discussions about the program, referred to as CVE, to the exclusion of dissenting groups.

Last week, more than 200 academics, terrorism experts and government officials gathered for a conference in Arlington, Virginia, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. It was titled “Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Lessons Learned from Canada, the UK and the US.”

Among the attendees and panelists were leaders of the CVE efforts in the pilot cities, according to a copy of the program provided to The Associated Press.

“This isn’t a community-based process,” Nadeem Mazen, a city councilor in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and board member of the local CAIR chapter, said during a small gathering in front of Boston City Hall. “This is a whole different level of federally coordinated assault on our civil liberties.” [Continue reading…]


Lawsuit targets top Bush officials who led witch hunt against Muslims after 9/11

The Associated Press reports: It has been nearly 14 years since the Sept. 11 attacks, but a lawsuit on behalf of Muslims rounded up in the aftermath has barely moved forward as lawyers try to show how frightening it was for hundreds of men with no ties to terrorism to be treated like terrorists, locked up and abused for months at a time.

The lawsuit finally got a green light from a federal appeals court last week, with two judges willing to let the courts grapple with what happened in the days after the worst terrorist attack in American history, when the largest criminal probe in U.S. history tested the boundaries of civil liberties.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit against three former top U.S. officials, including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Holding the defendants “in solitary confinement 23 hours a day with regular strip searches because their perceived faith or race placed them in the group targeted for recruitment by al-Qaida violated the detainees’ Constitutional rights,” the majority wrote. “The suffering endured by those who were imprisoned merely because they were caught up in the hysteria of the days immediately following 9/11 is not without a remedy.” [Continue reading…]