Archive for the “Islam” Category

Muslims and their religion

Gustave Doré / Crusades / Crusade against the Moors of Granada / via Wikimedia CommonsIronically, on the heels of the bakery massacre in Dakha, Bangladesh, I offer two more examples of a movement I call the Great Neocrusade … a campaign by militant American Christianists against Islam and Muslims here in the ‘States. Ever since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, this movement has gone from being more or less rhetorical, and has manifested physically in the form of retribution against Muslims (as well as non-Muslims erroneously thought to be Muslims).

The first item I have is from Buzzfeed News, which reports on an attack in front of a Brooklyn mosque (WebCite cached article):

Two teenage Muslims boys were viciously beaten outside a Brooklyn mosque early Sunday morning as their attacker called them terrorists, according to Mohamed Bahe, the director of the mosque.

The incident allegedly happened around 1:18 a.m. at the Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn in Sunset Park, after lengthy evening prayers common during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police initially said they had no record of the incident, however photos provided to BuzzFeed News showed multiple officers and police vehicles at the scene.

The NYPD denies this was a “bias” incident, however, they already lied to Buzzfeed about having been called to the scene and had to be confronted with contrary evidence before admitting otherwise … so their claims can hardly be taken at face value.

In the next item, WKYC-TV in Cleveland reports a foreigner had been falsely arrested as a terrorist in Avon, OH (cached):

The City of Avon and the Avon Police Department issued a statement of apology to a hotel patron the Avon Police Department arrested last week after a miscommunication over ties to ISIS.…

On Wednesday, June 29, the Avon Police Department received a 911 call from the sister of a woman who was working as a desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn and Suites on Colorado Avenue.

The caller reported her sister told her there was a male in the lobby “in full head dress with multiple disposable phones pledging his allegiance to ISIS.”

Avon Police then received a second 911 call from the desk clerk’s father who also requested assistance on behalf of his daughter.…

Officers, with guns drawn, ordered the man to drop his phone and get on the ground. After the man didn’t initially respond to the commands of the officers, police continued to give commands until the man complied and laid down.

Officers arrested the man, conducted a search, and did not find any weapons.

Contact was then made with the front desk clerk and responding officers found the man never made any statements related to ISIS, and there had been a miscommunication about the situation between the desk clerk and her relatives.

So, two liars called 911 to report a Muslim “pledging his allegiance to ISIS” and cops stupidly fall for it. Nice.

Look, as I’ve blogged so many times before: I get it. Really. I do. Honest! I understand the sanctimonious furor here. I get that Muslims around the world, and even here in the ‘States, have lanched terror attacks. I also really get that the Islamists who launch these attacks are enraged religionists who can’t and won’t tolerate anything that doesn’t jibe with their own beliefs, hence their terrorism. Yes, I get all that. Really!

What I don’t understand is the assumption that each and every Muslim in the world must be a terrorist, too, and that all Muslims are required to kill as many “infidels” as they can. The number of Islamist terrorists in the world is actually very small. If all Muslims everywhere were terrorists, then terror attacks would be going on in pretty much every city in the world, each and every day. With over 3 million Muslims in the US, the carnage would have to be truly staggering. There’d have to be dozens of Islamist terror attacks, and hundreds of deaths, each day in American alone.

Seems to me the way to deal with one bunch of violently-intolerant religiofascists isn’t to be violently intolerant right back at them. But hey, what could this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such things?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'Islam violent?! How dare you!!!' / Jack Higgins, Chicago Sun-Times / via CAIR ChicagoOnce again, the world has been treated to an example of the sanctimonious piety of the so-called “religion of peace.” This time, Islamist militants stomped into a bakery in an upscale neighborhood of Dakha, Bangladesh’s capitol, and as CNN reports, a bunch of innocent people are now dead (WebCite cached article):

Bangladeshi troops stormed an upscale bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave Saturday morning, ending an 11-hour siege by militants who killed 20 people and two police officers, officials said.

It was the deadliest and boldest act of terror in a country that has become increasingly numb to ever-escalating violence by Islamist militants.

The victims — most of them foreigners — were among roughly three dozen people taken hostage when attackers stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery on Friday evening with guns, explosives and other, sharp weapons Friday evening, authorities said.

CNN goes on to explain that this is the most savage and audacious of a number of Islamist attacks in Bangladesh in the last year or two. Several of these were very public events, too. I’ve even blogged about some of them. Among the reasons the militants have been able to organize as well as they have, is that Bangladeshi officials have been doing the dance of triangulation … i.e. trying to appease them in the hope that they’ll stop, but at the same time going after them just enough to be able to say they’re going after them. That a lot of officials have more or less openly said they don’t blame the militants for what they’ve done, hasn’t helped.

CNN also explains that, while ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood has accepted responsibility for this attack, it’s thought another group — al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (aka IQIS) — carried out this attack.

Note, too, this attack comes on the heels of the attack a couple days ago on the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey. As Maajid Nawaz explains in the Daily Beast, this has been a particularly savage Ramadan, and that’s been ISIS’s plan (cached). They’ve called for a worldwide “month of jihad,” it seems.

Sadly, many Christianists will react to all of this with a rather vile kind of sanctimonious glee. They’ll think — and maybe even say out loud — something like, “You see? Islam is an inherently-violent religion! This proves it! We Christians aren’t like that, we’re peace-loving!” It’s true that savagery of this sort is, at the moment, more or less a product of Islamism. But with that said, Christians need to accept their religion isn’t immune to this sort of thing, either. There really is such a thing as Christian terrorism, even if there’s a strong tendency not to admit it. And the way to deal with the raging intolerance of Islamist militants is not to be fiercely intolerant right back at them. OK?

Photo credit: Jack Higgins/Chicago Sun-Times, via CAIR Chicago.

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'Wishing a Blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors' sign / via Spring Grove Area (PA) school board member Matthew Jansen, via TwitterAmerica’s Christianists are having a bad time of it recently. They no longer can handle the existence of those insolent Muslim types in the midst of their precious Christian nation. The Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando FL just over a week ago was the last straw, it appears, and they’re not taking any more shit from any more Muslims. Oh, and they’re not going to stand for any good Christians wishing them well, either. As the York (PA) Dispatch explains, at least one vocal Christianist — and public official — in Pennsylvania is upset over a “blessed Ramadan” sign put up by a church there (WebCite cached article):

[The Rev. Christopher] Rodkey, pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown, earlier this month changed the sign in front of the 205 W. Main St. house of worship, as he does regularly.

This particular time, however, he changed it to read, “Wishing a blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors,” a nod to the monthlong Islamic holiday that began June 6.

On Saturday, June 11, a message was left on his cellphone by a man saying he was “shocked” by the “despicable,” “unbelievable” sign and that Islam is a “godless,” “pagan” religion.

“Are you sick? Is there something wrong with you?” the man asked after promising to share a photo of the sign on Facebook and Twitter “so everybody can see this, what you’ve done.”

Although he didn’t leave his name with the message, that man was Matthew Jansen, a Spring Grove school board member and an elected delegate to next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where he intends to vote for Donald Trump.

The Dispatch spoke with Jansen and obligingly regurgitated this Christofascist’s Neocrusade talking-points:

[Jansen] acknowledged he was irate when he called the cellphone, and the reason he left the message was the “greater issue of Islam.”

“The very next day after I left this message, 49 Americans were murdered by somebody who claims to be an Islamist,” he said, referencing the Orlando nightclub shootings committed by an American Muslim.

“It’s not a religion. It’s not a cult. It’s a system” designed to promote “global Sharia,” he said of the faith.

“Sharia law is inconsistent with the values and philosophies of western cultures,” Jansen said, adding he saw the sign in front of St. Paul’s as a blessing to a “pagan” religion.

“I think (St. Paul’s and Rodkey) deserve some pushback,” he said.

Jansen, who said he’s Protestant, said he doesn’t have a problem with any other religions. “This wasn’t any kind of a discriminatory thing,” he said.

Note the putative arguments here, which — as I’ve noted here on this blog — the Religious Right has been reeling off for years:

  1. “Islam isn’t a religion, it’s a political ideology”: This, of course, is absurd on its face. Some Muslims are politically-oriented, it’s true … but then, so too are a lot of Christians! So pardon me for wondering what the hell the difference is between them? I don’t see one.
  2. Islam equals ‘Shari’a Law'”: Most of the Neocrusaders who fall for this whine don’t even know what shari’a law is. They don’t know that it’s not the same thing as the religion of Islam; that not all Muslims want it; that even those who do, don’t agree on what it is; and they insist it’s about to be imposed on the US, even though the First Amendment explicitly forbids religious law. In short, they’re fucking ignorant and have no clue what they’re talking about. They just use “shari’a” as a snarl word to rationalize raging and fuming about Islam.
  3. “Islam is a pagan religion”: A lot of them base this on some notion that the deity of Islam, known as al-Lah (often spelled “Allah”), is an ancient moon god. The trouble is, aside from the fact that the crescent moon is sometimes used as a symbol in Islam, there’s really no association to speak of between them. It’s true that Islam, as founded by Mohammad, was influenced by the Arabic pagan traditions of his time … but it was also influenced by Judaism and Christianity, and is wholly monotheistic. In fact, it’s even more monotheistic than Christianity, whose central deity is a weird, logic-defying three-in-one and one-in-three figure.

Once again, we see a sanctimoniously furious Christofascist who’s trying to start up a pissing contest over whose religion can be more intolerant than someone else’s. It’s at times like this that I’m proud to be a cynical, skeptical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen who rejected religion (and all other forms of metaphysics) long ago and wants no part of any such conflict.

Oh, and for anyone who might say the aforementioned Orlando massacre somehow justifies Jansen’s putrid rant … please note that he left his message on Rodkey’s phone on June 11, a full day before that horrid event. So don’t go there — just don’t. Oh, and please note: Christians, too, are guilty of terrorism, themselves. Their body count might not be as high, but radical Christianists are every bit as violent and religiofascist as any radical Islamist might be.

Photo credit: Matthew Jansen, via Twitter.

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rainbow flag #usa #carlifornia #sanfrancisco #gaycommunity #rainbow #flag #sfThis is the seventh in a series of posts I plan about the recent Orlando gay-nightclub shooting, by an American Muslim who appears to have been influenced by ISIS and other violent Islamists. By now my readers will surely know a great deal about this horrific event. The topic of this post is:

Making a Game of the Language of Terror

The FBI just released redacted transcripts of the 911 calls the Orlando shooter made during his massacre (WebCite cached article). The redactions have outraged most folks on the Right, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, as reported by the Daily Beast, among a multitude of other media outlets (cached):

House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the decision to redact parts of the transcript, likening it to censorship and echoing Donald Trump and other Republicans’ complaint that President Obama would not use the term “radical Islamic terrorism” to describe the attack.

“Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous,” Ryan said. “We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS. We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.”

It is believed that Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS in the call, but the specific group was removed from the transcript of his original 911 call.

The Right’s sanctimonious fury hinges mainly on the accusation that the Obama administration is being “politically correct,” avoiding providing any connection between the shooter and his religion, Islam. There’s just one tiny little problem with that: The FBI’s transcript itself directly contradicts that contention! Here’s an excerpt from the FBI (emphasis mine):

In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.”

Did you catch that? I hope so. The FBI itself — and in its own words — explicitly reported the shooter had said he was “an Islamic soldier.” That’s right, folks. The FBI — supposedly hamstrung by its putative effort never to mention Islam in connection with the Pulse nightclub shooting — actually did so; they did it clearly and unambiguously. There’s no doubt about it … it’s there, in their own words.

Looking over what they released, I’d say the FBI redacted mentions specifically of ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood and its leader, as well as the content of hostage negotiations. It’s pretty easy to see why they’d not want to release the latter; it’d provide people insights into how hostage negotiators work, which they’d obviously prefer weren’t common knowledge. It’s harder to understand the omission of the name of ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They seem to want to deprive that primitive horde of recruiting material, however, that ship has already sailed — it’s been widely reported already, based on information the FBI and others have already provided, that the Orlando shooter had professed allegiance to them. ISIS can use any or all of those reports in its recruiting propaganda. The FBI redacting it from the transcript deprives them of nothing.

This move is also consistent with the Obama administration’s unwillingness, overall, to lend too much credence to the Islamist terrorists’ claims that they’re fighting for Islam. They’re trying to avoid tarring and feathering the whole religion. In this case, as I noted, they didn’t entirely remove all of that from the transcript. What’s more, it’s kind of foolish to avoid associating these savages with the religion they follow. To say the butchers are “radical Islamists” is most certainly not the same as saying that all Muslims are murderous radicals. It means only that some of them are. To note that some Muslims are radical isn’t even unique to their religion; pretty much all religions have radical extremist elements. Yes, even the “religion of love,” Christianity!

While this policy is misguided and naïve (as I’ve said often), it’s hardly scandalous. It’s a diplomatic approach, and as such, is a matter of judgement … and that’s a subjective thing. So reasonable minds can and will disagree on such matters. Diplomacy isn’t the same thing as “political correctness,” which is what most of the Right thinks is behind this effort.

In the end, what America’s Religious Right is really after, is ammunition they can use against their religion’s chief rival in the world. Unlike the Obama administration, they truly do wish to tar and feather the entire religion of Islam. They use events like the Orlando massacre to imply — or sometimes state outright — that Islam is an inherently barbaric and violent religion, one that requires all of its adherents to slaughter innocents any time they choose. What they ignore is that their own religion, Christianity, also happens to harbor extremists of its own. When this is pointed out to them, they tend to get their panties in bunches and spew laughable protests like, “But those guys aren’t ‘Real’ Christians,” as though there is such a thing as a “‘Real’ Christian.” (To be clear, there isn’t! To think so is to fall for the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.) In other words … if someone does to their religion what they feel compelled to do to Islam, they refuse to stand for it. That they’d use tactics against others that they don’t want used on them, directly contradicts the teachings of the founder of their own religion, who expounded “the Golden Rule”, and unambiguously forbid them ever to be hypocritical.

Photo credit: Hai Yang, via Flickr.

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Rainbow flag breezeThis is the first in a series of posts I plan about the recent Orlando gay-nightclub shooting, by an American Muslim who appears to have been influenced by ISIS and other violent Islamists. By now my readers will surely know a great deal about this horrific event. The topic of this post is:

Why, Of Course It Was About Religion!

Rather soon after the shooting, the shooter’s name was known to the media and they began inquiring about him. His father made an early statement to NBC News, trying to deflect the whole thing (WebCite cached article):

His father told NBC News that his son was affected by a recent incident involving two men showing each other affection.

“We are saying we are apologizing for the whole incident,” the elder Mateen said. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country.”

He added: “This had nothing to do with religion.”

Sorry, pops, but no. That’s not going to fly. Not with me, anyway. Pretty much all hatred of gays, and distaste for homosexuality, follows from religious objections to it. There’s no rational, non-metaphysical reason to be obsessed with homosexuality or to be outraged at gays’ existence. That’s something only religion teaches people.

Reports are trickling in that the shooter may have been bipolar and abusive, according to his ex-wife (cached). Also, co-workers had observed him to be “unhinged and unstable,” among other things (cached). So those who wish to absolve religion for any role in this, would seem to have plenty of ammunition: They can protest that he was mentally ill, sociopathic, etc. Any or all of those, however, can very well co-exist alongside a religious motivation. (I won’t even mention that we don’t, in fact, know with any certainty that the shooter had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, to begin with.)

Let’s be honest: If not for widespread, longstanding, pervasive religiously-motivated hatred for gays, why would anyone — even a (possibly) mentally-ill sociopath — have carefully selected a busy gay nightclub as his massacre target? The Abrahamic faiths have had their collective panties in knots over gays and homosexuality for something like 2,500 years, and they’ve infected occidental and Muslim civilizations with their nasty, odious bigotry. How can anyone reasonably insist that this played no role whatever in this savagery?

Oh, and in addition to the aforementioned insistence that his son’s massacre “had nothing to do with religion,” it turns out the shooter’s father actually shared his religiously-inspired hate for gays. CBS News reports on additional comments he posted to Facebook (cached):

The Orland gay club gunman’s father has well-known anti-American views and is an ideological supporter of the Afghan Taliban. A new message posted by the father on Facebook early Monday morning also makes it clear he could have passed anti-homosexual views onto his son.…

The elder Mateen says he was saddened by his son’s actions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He then adds: “God will punish those involved in homosexuality,” saying it’s, “not an issue that humans should deal with.”

So it seems the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Let’s hope everyone keeps an eye on pops, from now on.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Bangladeshi students block the road and stage a protest in Dhaka April 7, following Samad's murder. / CNN photoI’ve blogged a few times about how perilous it is to be an outspoken secularist or even atheist in Bangladesh. It seems al Qaeda has joined in with this fierce Islamofascist crusade; CNN reports that al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the latest such killing (WebCite cached article):

Ansar al-Islam, the Bangladesh division of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, has claimed responsibility for the recent killing of blogger Nazimuddin Samad, the jihadist monitoring group SITE reported Friday.

Machete-wielding attackers in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka killed Samad, 26, the sixth secularist writer or publisher to be killed in the city in the last 14 months.

Police said the attack late Wednesday on Samad, a master’s student at Jagannath University, was planned.

“He was on his way back home from his evening classes when he was circled by a group of three to four people,” said Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Nurul Amin of the Dhaka Police.

“First the attackers hacked Samad with machetes, then shot him.”

Police said the attackers then fled the scene on motorcycles. No arrests have been made.

Bangladeshi students took to the streets to protest against the brutal killing.

While I appreciate the protests (and this certainly isn’t the first such occasion), what’s disturbing is the reason they occur: The government of Bangladesh doesn’t really do much about these killings. They largely view the killing of outspoken secularists as a natural and understandable consequence of their outspoken secularism. In response to Samad’s assassination, as the (UK) Daily Star reports, a Bangladeshi minister has decided to investigate his writings rather than his killing (cached):

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal today said that the write-ups of the slain secular activist Nazimuddin Samad are needed to be scrutinised to see whether he wrote anything objectionable about religion.

He underscored the need for scrutiny in an interview with BBC Bangla Service while asked about possible cause behind the killing.…

“I cannot say right now why it happened or what exactly happened. I need to gather information first,” the minister responded, when asked about the murder that took place Wednesday night.

“It is needed to see whether he has written anything objectionable in his blogs.”

They do this because they’d rather pacify the Islamofascists than stop them. This is actually a very common response to militancy of any sort, because after all, it’s easier to capitulate in the face of violent bullies than it is to stand up to them and even fight them if needed. In the case of secularist bloggers being killed, it’s easier to blame them for their deaths than it is to go after their killers. That this “strategy” (which really isn’t any strategy at all) allows militants to take over, doesn’t seem to occur to anyone.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: CNN.

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Aftermath of Brussels airport bombing / (UK) IndependentThis morning, we Americans woke to some terrible — but not entirely surprising — news. The “religion of peace” has struck again. As numerous outlets, including CNN, report just now, three blasts rocked the city of Brussels, Belgium (WebCite cached article):

Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday killed at least 28 people, according to Belgian media, and raised the reality of terror once again in the heart of Europe.

“We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened,” Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters.

Belgian federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said it was too soon to know exactly how many people died in the bombings. Yet the Brussels Metro Authority reported that 15 died and 55 were wounded in the subway station blast. And public broadcaster VRT said at least 13 more were killed, and about 35 were injured, in the two blasts in the Brussels airport departure hall.

Of the two explosions at the airport, at least one was a suicide bombing, Van Leeuw said. A blast happened there outside the security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline check-in counters, an airline official briefed on the situation said.

It’s not yet clear which exact Islamist-terror organization was behind these attacks; there’ve been no claims of responsibility and officials are only just gathering information.[Update 1] At this point there doesn’t appear to be much to say that hasn’t already been said many times already. So I will close with what I said after the Paris attacks last November:

Clearly, the “Religion of Peace” has shown its true colors … again! … even if, by now, no sane person actually needs such an illustration. Predictably, Muslim leaders and organizations around the world have condemned the attacks on Paris, but let’s be honest: Those condemnations will accomplish nothing whatsoever. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck and all its ilk will continue their barbaric terror campaigns, and they’ll keep attracting Muslim recruits from around the world. It’s not going to stop just because some scholars of Islam mouth recriminations against Islamist terror. The Islamists already don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks, and they’re not going to, ever. Mere words don’t matter, and have no discernible effect on them.

The sooner the world’s Muslims begin actively (rather than just verbally) dealing with the festering sore deep within their religion, which these violent barbarians believe grants divine sanction to their savage terror campaign, the sooner something can actually be done about it. But sadly, I just don’t see that happening. Not enough of them have the courage to do so.

Nothing will change, I’m sure … just as nothing was done in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. It never does. I’m reminded of this classic Bible verse:

That which has been is that which will be,
And that which has been done is that which will be done.
So there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

P.S. Christianists had best not use this to get on their high horses and start bellowing out their usual sanctimonious Neocrusading crap. Right-wing (and yes, Christian!) terror exists, and is a greater danger to Americans than Islamists’.

Update 1: Reuters reports that ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever has, in fact, claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks (cached).

Photo credit: (UK) Independent.

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