Emily's blog

'Dangerous to Be a Christian'

Egyptian Copts in Greece hold pictures of Coptic Christians killed by Muslim Brotherhood Islamists in Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Copts in Greece hold pictures of Coptic Christians killed by Muslim Brotherhood Islamists in Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)

by: 
Lonna Lisa Williams

2013 saw an alarming rise of attacks on Christians that has continued into the first quarter of 2014. According to Open Doors, an organization that tracks Christian persecution worldwide, 2,123 Christians were killed last year due to their faith, compared to 1,201 in 2012. More than half of those reported killings occurred in Syria (1,213), followed by Nigeria (612) and Pakistan (88). North Korea, Somalia, and Iraq were among the top worst places for a Christian to live.

Egyptian Coptic Christians, in particular, are facing their worst persecution since the 14th Century. After the fall of Islamist President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood struck out against Egyptian Christians, the largest and one of the oldest Christian groups in the Middle East. At least 70 churches were burned or damaged, Christian homes destroyed and Christians killed. Women and children were shot down outside a church during a Christian wedding. Nuns were paraded through the streets.

Stalin once stated, "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic." So instead of leaving you with overwhelming statistics of Christians being slaughtered or driven out of the birthplace of Christianity, I will give you the face of one woman.

According to eyewitnesses, Mary Sameh George, a young Egyptian Christian, was parked outside a church on March 28, 2014 as Muslim Brotherhood rioters attacked. They fired guns on the church and set nearby cars aflame, killing four Christians, including Mary. They saw a cross hanging from Mary's rearview mirror and jumped on top of her car, pulled her out, undressed and molested her, pulled her hair, kicked her, and stabbed her in the heart. Then they slit her throat and paraded her naked body.

She had come to deliver medicine to a sick, elderly church member. The Egyptian police did not intervene to help her.

Martin Luther King said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Why is America and Europe keeping silent about the systematic genocide of Christians in the Middle East? Why are they harboring Islamists with dangerous agendas and allowing even their top leaders to support the Muslim Brotherhood that has been labeled a terrorist organization and banned in Egypt and Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we will get no clear answers. We will feel safe in our American or English homes, far away from such violence. Or so we think. Last year, a British soldier was beheaded by Islamists on a busy London street, in daylight. Also last year, a Muslim man was accused of beheading and burying two Christians of Egyptian Coptic descent. This happened in New Jersey, U.S.A.

Even in "moderate" Islamic-bending countries like Turkey, Christians have been attacked and killed, including several pastors or church workers whose throats were slit. I attended a church near Istanbul where the pastor and his family were given death threats, and the church was sometimes shot at with guns. My Turkish husband was tortured by the Turkish police who threatened to "rape your Christian wife" (that would be me).

One afternoon in Izmit we watched a Muslim Brotherhood group march through city center. Men, clad in black, yelled "Allahu Akbar!" with a few covered women and children following behind. I wanted to say something to them, but my husband grabbed my arm and led me away, whispering, "It is dangerous for you here. They could attack you."

It seems that the world is increasingly proving that it's dangerous to be a Christian.

 

Lonna Lisa Williams teaches English overseas and writes books about surviving cancer, travel adventures, science fiction, and fantasy.  You can follow her blog or find her onFacebookTwitter, and Youtube.  She also regularly contributes news articles and photo essays to “Digital Journal” and “Yahoo.”
This article and photo appeared originally on Digital Journal and was reprinted with permission of the author.

U.S.Connected to Muslim Brotherhood to ‘Support People of Egypt’

Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department

Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department

by: 
Raymond Ibrahim

On March 14, in a meeting with foreign journalists in Washington, D.C., deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Marie Harf confirmed, once again, that the United States is in “communication” with the Muslim Brotherhood but denied that this means it supports the Islamist organization.  The exchange follows:

QUESTION: Okay. The second question is: The State Department has recently said that it is in constant contact with the Muslim Brotherhood, as with the other political groups, you see?

MS. HARF: Mm-hmm, yes.

QUESTION: So do you think that these contacts have any effect on the United States relations with Egypt? And are these just mere contacts or support? Because this is very important for the Egyptian public opinion. Thanks.

MS. HARF: Well, they’re contacts, and let’s just – I’ll put it in a little context here. We think it’s important to have contacts with all the parties in Egypt, because all the parties in Egypt ultimately are going to need to be a part of Egypt’s future, and that we want to help them be a part of that future and move Egypt out of the situation it’s in today. So we think this is important to do. Do we always agree, do they always agree with what we’re saying? Of course not. But we believe it’s important to have the dialogue.

We don’t support one party or one group or one person. So when we’re talking about elections, when – I know there’s a lot of conspiracy theories about us supporting the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting the military or – there’s a lot. They can’t all be true, right? Because they’re mutually exclusive. But we don’t support one group. We support the process. We support the people of Egypt who make up these parties – right – as they are trying to determine how to get Egypt back on a better path.

One wonders: if the Obama administration does not “support one party or one group or one person,” why did it try to urge the Egyptian people in general, the Christian Copts in particular, not to protest against former president Muhammad Morsi (“one person”) and his increasingly oppressive Muslim Brotherhood (“one party”)?

Conversely, if the Obama administration is supportive of “the people of Egypt” in general, where was it when the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters were terrorizing Egypt, and continue to do so—including by burning and destroying over 80 Christian churches? But when millions of Egyptians protested against the increasingly oppressive Morsi/Brotherhood government, leading to their ousting, it was then that the Obama administration reacted by reducing aid to Egypt.

Indeed, in regards to Harf’s claims that “We support the people of Egypt,” the other day an Egyptian TV commentator summed up mainstream Egyptian opinion as follows:

Harf yesterday confirmed that her nation is in communication with the Muslim Brotherhood but denied that this means it supports them.  They’re just in contact—you know, “checking up” on each other.  She said that the United States is in contact with all political parties in Egypt.  In reality, they [Brotherhood] are no longer “political parties.” They are “terrorist parties.”

She stressed that they do not support any particular person or political party, adding “we support the people of Egypt.”  Apparently that explains why they stopped their aid and support?  They “support the people of Egypt,” even as the Egyptian people cannot stand the Muslim Brotherhood, has rejected them, and is rejoicing because the government finally designated them as a terrorist organization. 

So this is the sort of “support” Mary Harf offers to the Egyptian people—that the United States is in contact with a terrorist organization

Regarding a “conspiracy” between the U.S. and the Brotherhood, she said this cannot be true, adding that they only “support the people of Egypt as they are trying to determine how to get Egypt back on a better path.” 

What’s it to you?  If we want a democracy, a dictatorship, or just to stay as we are—we’re free to do so.  I really don’t understand this idea whereby they [the Obama administration] always show up saying “we support democracy” in the Arab world, and yet here is the result of their support: Every nation they have put their nose in, they destroyed it.

 

(The following is a video of the press conference. Skip to 13:05 for the question to Harf on Egypt:)

 

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum. Mr. Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents —has provided him with unique advantages to understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets.

What if 200,000 American Boys Were at Risk for Genital Mutilation?

A child forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation.

A child forced to undergo Female Genital Mutilation.

by: 
Raheel Raza

If 200,000 teenage boys in America were at risk of genital mutilation, people would no doubt take notice. So why is it, that with 150,000 to 200,000 American women and girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) – and perhaps 1,500 women victimized by forced marriages every year, that so-called “honor violence” has yet to cause public uproar in the United States?

Honor violence is gaining visibility in the United Kingdom and even inspiring the government to take action – yet other countries like the United States seem completely unaware that these abuses happen so close to home.

Honor violence is abuse perpetrated in the name of protecting or restoring a family’s “honor.” Although it often happens in Muslim cultures, it is not sanctioned by Islam or any major religion. And it is endemic in many countries. The United Nations estimates that at least 125 million women and girls have suffered FGM in Africa and the Middle East since 1989. The U.N. has also found that more than 60 million girls worldwide are child brides.

Estimates about the extent of honor violence in Western countries like the United States and Canada vary, primarily because these abuses often take place behind closed doors, and victims usually experience tremendous pressure from their families to remain silent. But we know that as many as a quarter of a million American girls and women have either suffered or are at risk of FGM – and the number of at-risk individuals actually increased by 35 percent between 1990 and 2000.

Although most Western societies have outlawed FGM, the law can be circumvented through practices like “vacation cuttings,” where families take their daughters abroad to have the procedure performed.

So what can we do about it? The most powerful tool we have is to put a face on the issue, like Malala Yousafzai and others have done. That is precisely why I agreed to participate, even in the face of personal threats, in a new documentary, Honor Diaries.

Honor Diaries features nine women who have been personally touched by this issue and is the first film to break the silence on honor violence. More than a movie, it is a movement for change that has brought together survivors and women’s rights supporters from all corners of the globe.

The U.S. government has a role to play as well. Once it has been re-introduced, Congress will have the opportunity to pass the International Violence Against Women Act – a bill that uses the power of U.S. foreign policy to support efforts to prevent women from becoming victims of abuse, supports intervention services such as health care for women who have contracted HIV/AIDS as a result of being raped, and offers training and assistance to other countries and NGOs battling this problem.

These are small but important steps in tackling an entrenched societal problem.
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. eloquently argued that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” When women and girls suffer in silence – whether in St. Louis, Mo., or a small village in Pakistan – it is a tragedy.

When those of us with the power to do something about it fail to speak up, we become complicit in the problem.

 

Raheel Raza is an award winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of Jihad and Sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.

U.S. State Department Policy Facilitates Al Qaeda in Somalia, Syria

A member of the all-female Syrian Islamist rebels group, the Ahbab Al Mustafa Battalian (Photo: © Reuters)

A member of the all-female Syrian Islamist rebels group, the Ahbab Al Mustafa Battalian (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Tarek Fatah

Just when you thought amateur hour had run its full course at the U.S. State Department, events in Somalia and Syria — two war zones where al-Qaida is a major player — show American ineptness has a lot more to offer.

First, came news the man hand-picked by Secretary of State John Kerry to act as the sole conduit for aid to Syria’s rebels, Gen. Salim Idriss, has been dismissed by the very Supreme Military Council of the Syrian “moderate” opposition he was supposedly heading.

Now, with no leverage on the ground, it appears the U.S. has given a walkover to whoever wins the Iran vs. Saudi Arabia proxy war in Syria.

With an insurgency that’s dominated by Islamist factions, including groups with connections to al-Qaida, even the best outcome will leave Syria in the hands of hostiles.

Further south in Somalia, the government that is supposedly an ally of the West has been accused of smuggling Western-supplied arms meant for the Somali army straight into the hands of the pro al-Qaida army of al-Shabab .

The “UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group” last week issued a confidential report accusing the Somalia government of allowing the diversion of weapons meant for its own army into the hands of a leader of the al-Qaida linked Islamist militant group, al-Shabab.

In its 14-page report to the Security Council’s sanctions committee, UN monitors said they had identified at least two centres for arms procurement within the Somali government that were distributing arms to militias not part of the Somali security forces.

The report, obtained by Reuters, pointed fingers at ministers inside Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government as being involved in the arms smuggling.

“A key adviser to the president … has been involved in planning weapons deliveries to al-Shabab leader Sheikh Yusuf Isse,” the report said.

It also referred to the role played by another Somali government minister in relation to arms purchases from a “foreign government in the Gulf”.

The UN Security Council had imposed an arms embargo on Somalia after the country was plunged into civil war.

However, in February, 2013, at the insistence of the U.S. and despite opposition from Britain, France and the Monitor Group, the Security Council voted to partially lift the arms embargo against Somalia, ostensibly to help Mogadishu in its war against al-Shabab.

At the time, those opposed to lifting the arms embargo warned of the relationship between the al-Shabab and Islamists within the Somali government, but it appears no one paid attention at the U.S. State Department.

Toronto lawyer Ahmed Hussen of the Somali Canadian Congress told me, “Many of us had vehemently opposed the lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, a country already awash with weapons. We were afraid sophisticated weapons would fall into the hands of clan militias and the al-Shabab. This UN report has confirmed our worst fears.”

Hussen says the less reported but more dangerous issue is how the west is training and arming Somali National Army recruits, only for them to then sell their weapons and uniforms on the open market or, worse, to the al-Shabab. “In essence, we are indirectly arming the very forces that we are fighting against in Somalia,” he said.

Message to U.S. President Barack Obama: Please stop saying, “Al-Qaida is defeated.” It’s not. It’s very much alive, and your policies are helping it stay that way.

 

Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

The New York Times Biased Coverage on Christian Persecution

The New York Times building in Manhattan

The New York Times building in Manhattan

by: 
Raymond Ibrahim

The New York Times has finally found a victim of Islamic aggression in Nigeria worth reporting on: homosexuals.   In a big spread complete with pictures appearing last week, the NYT’s Adam Nossiter wrote “Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays.”

While it’s all well and good to expose the persecution of any group, why does the NYT remain silent about the much more endemic and savage jihad to “sanitize” Nigeria of Christians—a jihad that has seen countless Christians butchered and countless churches destroyed?

A 2012 meeting of Nigerian church heads concluded that “the pattern of these killings [of Christians] does suggest to us a systematic ethnic and religious cleansing.”

Among other things in the group’s bid to cleanse the Muslim-majority north of all Christian presence, it has threatened to poison the food eaten by Christians and “to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women.” The group frequently storms areas where Christians and Muslims are intermingled—from villages to colleges—and singles the Christians out before slitting their throats.

In 2011 hundreds of Christians were killed and 430 churches destroyed or damaged. In 2012, 900 Christians were slaughtered.  Indeed, of all Christians killed around the world in 2012, 70% were killed in the west African nation. In 2013, 612 Christians were killed and some 300 churches destroyed.

The year 2014 promises to be the same.  Just the other day, over 50 Christians were slaughtered by “Allahu Akbar” screaming jihadis.

Thus, from a purely demographic point of view, we may deduce that for every one man who gets exposed as a homosexual in the privacy of his own home and killed for it, thousands of Christians expose themselves as infidels whenever they openly congregate and worship inside churches, as they do every Sunday, and get killed for it.

Based on numbers alone, then—assuming the NYT can agree that all human lives are equal, that the life of the Christian is equal in value to the life of the homosexual—the dramatically much bigger story has long been the relentless and genocidal jihad on Nigeria’s millions of Christians.

But of course, it’s not surprising that the NYT in general and reporter Adam Nossiter in particular, are biased concerning whose plight to highlight.  The NYT and Nossiter are the very ones who, on December 25, 2011—the day after Boko Haram bombed several churches during Christmas Eve services, leaving some 40 dead—published a spread equivocating the truth concerning the Muslim persecution of Christians in the African nation. On that day, the NYT’s Nossiter declared:

The sect, known as Boko Haram, until now mostly targeted the police, government and military in its insurgency effort, but the bombings on Sunday represented a new, religion-tinged front, a tactic that threatens to exploit the already frayed relations between Nigeria’s nearly evenly split populations of Christians and Muslims…(emphasis added).

“Until now?” The fact is that Boko Haram had been terrorizing and killing Nigerian Christians and destroying their churches  several years before the 2011 Christmas church bombings. Indeed, Christmas Eve 2010—one year to the day before the 2011 Christmas Eve church attacks—Boko Haram bombed several churches, killing 38 Christian worshippers.

Thus Nossiter’s characterization of the 2011 attacks as “represent[ing] a new, religion-tinged front” is not only inaccurate but unconscionable.

Moreover, whereas the NYT’s Nossiter asserted that there are “already frayed relations” between Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims, he talks of no “frayed relations” between Muslims and homosexuals: He correctly knows that the “fraying” comes from one direction.

And it’s the same concerning Nigeria’s Muslims and Christians—the “fraying” comes from one direction.  Yet, due to Nossiter’s prevarications, the reader is left with the impression that Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims are equally motivated by religious hostility—even as one seeks in vain for Christian terror organizations that bomb mosques in Nigeria every Friday to screams of “Christ is Great!”

When talking about Boko Haram’s jihad on Christians, the NYT’s Nossiter managed to insert another mainstream media favorite: the “poverty-causes-terrorism” meme. He writes, “The sect’s attacks [on Christian churches] have been further bolstered by festering economic resentment in the impoverished and relatively neglected north, which has an exploding birthrate, low levels of literacy and mass unemployment.”

Needless to say, when writing about the persecution of homosexuals, “festering economic resentment in the impoverished and relatively neglected north”—precisely where homosexuals are most persecuted—is never cited as a contributing factor.

Such are the ways that “reality” is created or evaded by the mainstream media and, from there, to the unsuspecting masses of the West.  The script must always prevail—reality be damned.

 

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum. Mr. Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents —has provided him with unique advantages to understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets.

Be Careful What You Say in Today's Turkey

A woman reads to police as part of a protest against Turkey's Islamist government.

A woman reads to police as part of a protest against Turkey's Islamist government.

by: 
Lonna Lisa Williams

Be careful what you say or publish in Turkey. Even if you are a journalist from another country, you could be arrested or expelled. Islamists in Turkey are trying to control free speech, protesters, the media, the legal system, and even the police. This week, new restrictions over the internet came into effect. The Turkish government will be able to block objectionable websites within hours.

One Turkish man told me, "Many internet sites are now blocked, especially foreign news sites. When there is a protest against Erdogan's restrictive policies, internet sites that cover it are blocked, and the local T.V. and newspapers are even more controlled. Hardly anyone knew about the protests in Istanbul yesterday."

In fact, the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul issued a warning to Americans living in Turkey to avoid yesterday's protest in Taksim Square, site of last spring's Gezi Park protests. I received this email from the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul:

U.S. Consulate General Istanbul informs U.S. citizens of news reports that a protest against recent legislation expanding the government's power to regulate Internet content is scheduled to take place at Taksim Square starting at 19:00 on Saturday, February 8. Large crowds and police presence are expected on surrounding streets as well, including Istiklal Street, and may begin to gather well before the scheduled start time of the protest ...The Department of State strongly advises avoiding the area during the protest.

However, when I looked at the U.S. Consulate's website, I could not find the warning under "Messages to U.S. Citizens." Did they remove it because Erdogan insisted that they cover up the protest?

When I was living in Turkey for two and a half years, I attended the Kocaeli Book Fair. Thousands of books were highlighted in huge conventional halls, many on the topic of Islam. But the book fair, controlled by the Islamist AKP party, allowed not one Bible. When I asked if I could find a Bible or any Christian book, the book fair director called security and labeled me a "Christian provocateur."

I left before I could be arrested, but the Muslim woman who came to the book fair with me later denounced our friendship. Although she had attended my wedding and freely posed for photos not only at the wedding, but on outings we had taken together and even outside the Kocaeli Book Fair, she complained to an AKP party prosecutor about a photo I published with her in it.

Police came to arrest me last September, just days after I left the country to teach English in China.

Ironically, Islamists demand rights they deny others. If someone exposes their restrictive policies, they immediately cry out, "Hate speech!" Recently, Digital Journal, the website where I often publish, was accused of "hate speech" against Islam and of shoddy journalism by citizen journalists.

The real enemies of free speech are Islamists who do not tolerate other religions, religious books, ways of dressing, smoking, drinking alcohol, and many other "haram" (forbidden) things. Sadly, Islamists kill more fellow Muslims (from minority sects like the Alevi and Shiite) than they kill Christians, Buddhists or other religious minorities among them. Just look at what has been happening in Iraq.

Recently, a French documentary about Syria interviewed Syrians who have been opposing Assad for years. These residents of Aleppo objected to the hijacking of their freedom revolution by Islamists who want to create an Islamic State in Syria, under sharia law.

One Syrian father declared, "Foreign Islamists who came to Aleppo saw a Syrian man smoking a cigarette and ripped it from his mouth, then destroyed the whole pack. They killed a Syrian girl for wearing a skirt. We cannot let them control our war for freedom."

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has been allowing foreign Islamists to cross the Turkish border into Syria and bring weapons. He publicly supports the Muslim Brotherhood. He has been making laws to hurt his own people and has fired or imprisoned thousands of people since the December, 2013 corruption scandal.

When he was mayor of Istanbul, Erdogan shouted at a rally:

“Democracy is merely a train that we ride until we reach our goal. Mosques are our military barracks, minarets are our spears, domes are our helmets, and the faithful are our army.”

Is this not the real hate speech?

There are over 80,000 mosques in Turkey, and Erdogan will not let Christians build one church in the capital city of Ankara. Ancient churches are being converted to mosques. Erdogan and his fellow Islamists ignore Turkey's long Christian history and other religious minorities while limiting free speech, freedom of the press, the ability to protest, and even the internet.

In Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by strict Islamic sharia law, a group of 15 school girls were allowed to burn to death in 2002 because they fled their school without their veils, and the morality police locked the gate so that no one would see them uncovered. Recently, a female university student died of a heart attack because a male ambulance crew was not allowed into her women-only university.

Policies like these show great hatred,and countries that call themselves democracies and bastions of freedom must speak out—or come under the control of Islamists who will not tolerate other ways of life than their own.

Reporter's Update: Reuters reported that, in an impassioned television interview late on Monday, February 10, Fatih Altayli, editor-in-chief of the mainstream Haberturk newspaper, said government pressure had left media editors intimidated and created a climate in which they were unable to publish freely.

"The honor of journalism is being trampled on. Instructions rain down every day from various places. Can you write what you want? Everybody is afraid," Altayli told CNN Turk.

Editors and reporters have said in the past they had received phone calls from government officials asking them to alter their coverage or dismiss journalists, but they usually only spoke out after losing their jobs.

"This is not the first time a senior editor has spoken about this, but the intensity of Altayli repeating 'I am not the only one' means the entire conglomerate media, at a senior level, has been kept under immense pressure from Erdogan," Yavuz Baydar, one of Turkey's most prominent journalists, told Reuters.
 

"But I truly doubt that the pattern of media managers acting like black boxes—keeping government and company secrets to themselves—can be broken," said Baydar, a columnist for Zaman newspaper, which is close to Erdogan's rival, Fetullah Gulen.

Baydar added, "The problem is, editors in conglomerate media seem to have sold their freedom and integrity at a price. They live in lies, constantly chased by the truth."

 

Lonna Lisa Williams teaches English overseas and writes books about surviving cancer, travel adventures, science fiction, and fantasy.  You can follow her blog or find her onFacebookTwitter, and Youtube.  She also regularly contributes news articles and photo essays to “Digital Journal” and “Yahoo.”
 

This article and photo appeared originally on Digital Journal and was reprinted with the permission of the author.

 

Canadian PM Shouldn’t Apologize to CAIR

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper on his visit to Israel.

Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper on his visit to Israel.

by: 
Tahir Aslam Gora

As the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, I am wondering why the fight between the Canadian Prime Minister and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), formerly known as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—Canada, is getting the attention of the media and our political parties.

The NCCM is demanding an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper over spokesman Jason MacDonald’s comment, “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”

This came after the NCCM criticized Harper for taking Rabbi Daniel Korobkin with him on a recent visit to Israel. The NCCM objected to the inclusion of Rabbi Korobkin in his delegation because, in their words, “on September 17, 2013, Mr. Korobkin spoke at a Toronto event in which he introduced, defended and praised anti-Muslim campaigners Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.”

I personally went to that September 17 event because I accept their right to free expression and wanted to understand their point-of-view. Both appeared to be very strong critics of Islam, but they were not hateful. They used the same Islamic texts that most Islamic organizations, even in the West, use to teach how to live in the 21st century.

Rabbi Daniel Korobkin delivered an introductory speech where he told the stories of three of his best Muslim friends. He simply talked about peace and harmony between various communities and the need for mutual, candid dialogue. But it clearly looks like groups such as NCCM do not believe in candid dialogue.

The NCCM is threatening to sue the Prime Minister’s office because of the spokesman’s remarks. I wonder how they would try to prove the remarks are false in court.

The NCCM announced on their website that, “As of July 6, 2013, CAIR.CAN will be known as the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).”

CAIR, or the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has documented links to Hamas. In July 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis ruled that “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR … with Hamas.”

Back on December 16, 2003, then-Board Chair of CAIR-CAN, Ms. Sheema Khan, filed an affidavit in the Superior Court of Ontario in which she admitted that CAIR-CAN was under the direction and control of the CAIR in the U.S.

The NCCM is embarrassing Canadian Muslims by demanding an apology from the Prime Minister. Some media, civil liberty groups and even our opposition party, the New Democratic Party, are acting as if the NCCM represents all Canadian Muslims.

Andrew Cash, a NDP (opposition) member of parliament said in his statement:

“On behalf of the NDP and our leader Tom Mulcair, I would like to express serious concern regarding the comments made by the Prime Minister’s Office addressing the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Muslim Canadians have made innumerable contributions to Canada, enriching our collective cultural heritage and continuing to strengthen our society.”

Cash reacted as if Prime Minister criticized the entire Canadian Muslim community. He assumed that all Canadian Muslims are represented by the NCCM because of its name.

Actually, no Muslim organization in Canada or anywhere else in the world represents all Muslims because Muslims are very diverse with ethnicities, cultural backgrounds and sectarian beliefs. Even though the NCCM are Islamists, they don’t get along with some other Islamist organizations.

There are over 25,000 Ahmaddiya Muslims across Canada. They do not have representation in NCCM. They are not even recognized as Muslims by NCCM and are a target of hatred, even in Canada.

There are roughly over 200,000 Ismaili and Shia Muslims in Canada. There are close to a half-million Sufis. There are many Muslims who are progressive but silent. They are not represented by NCCM.

Even our Prime Minister has overlooked this reality. He should have included those Canadian Muslims who are fighting anti-Semitism in his delegation to Israel – there are plenty to choose from. There’s my group, the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations. There’s the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow, the Progressive Muslim Institute Canada, Project Ijtihad, the Canadian Muslim Council for Interfaith Harmony, the Muslim Committee Against Anti-Semitism, and more.

Each of these groups represents different pockets of the diverse Muslims within Canada. That is part of the beauty of Canada.

 

Tahir Aslam Gora is the Secretary-General of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, an author and journalist. His interview with the Clarion Project details his anti-Islamist activism.

To the Marines: Time to Let Sgt. Hutchins Go

Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III with his wife

Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III with his wife

by: 
Diana West

I can't believe I'm writing these words: Marine Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III is going on trial - again.

Twice, Hutchins' conviction by a military court martial for unpremeditated murder in Iraq has been overturned due to factors precluding a fair trial. That means that twice, following Hutchins' initial conviction in 2007, he has been released from the brig a free man.

After his conviction was overturned the first time, there were eight months of freedom in 2010. Then, on the day his wife Reyna found out she was pregnant with their second child, Hutchins, a third-generation Marine, returned to prison.

Last summer, the military's highest appeals court overturned his conviction a second time. For the past six months, Hutchins has been living with Reyna and their two children, Kylie, 8, and Aidan, 2, while teaching marksmanship at Camp Pendleton. A new baby is on the way. Now, he - and they - must prepare for a new trial, his third. Why?

This twisting story with serial breaking points goes back to the night of April 26, 2006, somewhere in the Sunni Triangle west of Baghdad. Remember the Sunni Triangle? This was the pre-"surge" center of insurgent operations against our forces, who were daily coming under attack, usually by roadside bombs, or IEDs.

They were also daily encountering the insurgents behind these IED attacks, capturing "high-value targets," and then being ordered to set them free again. Sometimes there was insufficient "evidence" to hold them. Often, there was no jail space. Remember the bad old days of "catch and release"?

 

Saleh Gowad was one such official "high-value target," the mastermind behind a series of IED attacks decimating U.S. ranks. According to previous court testimony, Gowad had been caught and released three times by that April night in 2006 when Hutchins' eight-man squad was on the hunt for him.

The plan to kill him, according to the Los Angeles Times' recent recap of Hutchins' case, was "developed as a warning to other Iraqis not to attack Marines with sniper shots or buried roadside bombs."

The squad, later known as the Pendleton 8, kidnapped and killed the wrong Iraqi man and then faked evidence that he had been caught digging in an IED. Nonetheless, the Times points out, in the months following the incident, "attacks on Marines in the region dropped."

Strange. Or not strange. The identity of the killed Iraqi remains contested, along with a shocking number of other clues to this "crime scene." Or maybe not shocking. This was, of course, a battlefield. And it was a battlefield gone wrong, spinning out of U.S. control due to the fundamentally flawed, ultimately failed Bush counterinsurgency strategy of "nation-building" in Iraq.

Seven of the Pendleton 8 were out of prison by 2007, with none of them serving longer than 18 months. After a botched defense, squad-leader Hutchins, however, drew a 15-year-sentence, later commuted to 11 years. Babu Kaza, Hutchins' appellate attorney, has long contended that had Hutchins received a fair trial to begin with, he would never have been convicted of unpremeditated murder, or received more than a time-served sentence.

By now, Hutchins has served more than six years behind bars. Former Marines such as author Bing West have urged the military to drop the case and let Hutchins go free.

But no. Six years is not enough for the Marine brass. In their decision to re-try Hutchins, they seem less to be seeking justice than re-enacting a version of catch-and-release; or, in this case, release-and-catch. Release Hutchins, then catch him again. I call that cruel and unusual punishment.

Why is the Marine Corps doing this? And why now? A Marine spokesman speaks of the seriousness of the charges against Hutchins but sounds unconvincing. Meanwhile, hanging over this case is the specter of undue command influence that goes back to public comments Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made about Hutchins in 2009.

The Navy Secretary, of course, oversees the Marines. For related reasons, Hutchins recently requested a defense team and military judge from outside the Marine Corps.

The majority opinion that overturned Hutchins' conviction last summer didn't address the issue of undue command influence, but one of the appellate judges ruling in Hutchins' favor highlighted Mabus' comments as "disturbing and inappropriate."

The same words might be used to describe this dogged prosecution. It has ground on, even as literally thousands of Iraqi and Afghan detainees -- men who killed many Americans -- have received clemency, many from U.S. commanders. Why not some clemency for our own -- Hutchins and the rest of the veteran-prisoners of Iraq and Afghanistan known as the Leavenworth 10?

The question goes unanswered, the silence juxtaposed this week with another round of Taliban releases from Afghanistan jails and the president's promise to close Guantanamo Bay.

There is even more to the Hutchins case than is widely known. Last year, it came out that not long after Mabus' 2009 comments, Reyna Hutchins received word from the FBI that she was on an Al Qaeda hit list. So, too, was Tom Bolinder, a founder of the Military Combat Defense Fund, which has helped defray Hutchins' legal expenses.

The list was drawn up by Paul Rockwood Jr., an American convert to Islam and follower of the late jihad-imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Rockwood would be featured in Al Qaeda's Inspire magazine. Fearful months passed before Rockwood's capture and conviction on terrorism-related charges in 2010. He's serving an eight-year sentence.

Now, the Marines have Sgt. Hutchins in their sights instead. There's something wrong with this picture.

 

Diana West is a journalist and columnist. Her book, The Death of the Grown Up: How America's Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization was reviewed by Steven Emerson, who said it is "a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why ... many in the West are apologetic when confronted with the excesses of radical Islam and what we need to do to win the War on terror. "

Religious Accommodation Versus Freedom

Photo: Andrei Sedoff

Photo: Andrei Sedoff

by: 
Raheel Raza

Although Canada's diversity is usually touted globally, a clash of rights is now playing itself out.

Even though the struggle for reasonable religious accommodation is not a new issue in Canada, this is the first time that the challenge of religious accommodation at a secular institution of higher education is being noted, and argued, by the media here.

In September 2013, at York University in Toronto, a male student whose religious affiliation has not been revealed, asked to be excused for religious reasons from group work in which women were included. Sociology Professor Paul Grayson did not agree to the student's request; he said it marginalized females (who make up a majority of students at York) and was a sexist stance. The student relented and agreed to join the class. All was quiet until Professor Grayson decided to ask the university "brass" to weigh in. To his surprise, the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and the Director at York University's Centre for Human Rights said the student's request should be granted.

The case made headlines not only in Canada but internationally, where other Western countries with hugely diverse populations are also struggling with the challenges of competing human rights. There is already a petition supporting Professor Grayson's decision from two activist groups in London, England.

In UK, it has apparently become common practice to separate men and women at some lectures sponsored by Muslim groups. In November, the representative body of Universities [UUK] met with widespread opposition when it issued guidance endorsing gender segregation; it was forced to withdraw its guidance after intervention by Prime Minister David Cameron, who stated that gender segregation should not be enforced on audiences; he added, however, that such an opinion did not apply to worship services.

The UUK recently withdrew its guidance but left open the issue of voluntary segregation. A legal notice issued later, on behalf of a female student in the UK, stated that "gender segregation reinforces negative views specifically about women, undermines their right to participate in public life on equal terms with men and disproportionately impedes women from ethnic and religious minorities, whose rights to education and gender equality are already imperilled."

A poll taken by some media outlets shows that 70% of Canadians support Professor Grayson's decision and would like York University to take back its decision to segregate the classroom -- apparently out fear that if it does not, the precedent might be set for other, possibly unreasonable, accommodation. As Professor Grayson noted in his first response, "Can I assume that a similar logic would apply if the group with which he did not want to interact was comprised of Blacks, Moslems [or] homosexuals?"

He added that segregated classrooms could eventually require York to agree to segregated seating, segregated tutorials and even gender-specific instructors.

Grayson says that decision about this particular case will affect the future of gender equality at universities. If permission for gender segregation is upheld, it will open a Pandora's box for those who will undoubtedly come forward to ask for all sorts of other concessions.

Requests for religious accommodation are, however, already common in many Canadian schools. In October last year, some schools in Ontario said students should not dress up in Hallowe'en costumes because, according to the Niagara School Board, "some families don't participate in Hallowe'en, or can't afford costumes, and are excluded."

At the Valley Park Middle School in Toronto, where the Lord's Prayer was removed from schools many years ago, the principal allowed 400 Muslim students to pray in the lunchroom, with girls made to stand at the back. Educational institutions typically allow Muslim students to have special assigned rooms for prayer, where, if there is gender segregation, it remains within a specific group of people. Some colleges have built footbaths and special places for ablution. There has been no public dissent. Canadians, however, are now starting to ask how far religious accommodation can go before it becomes an impingement on the freedom of others. Although a nuisance, at least for now, it has apparently been viewed as a harmless one. The problem, as Grayson notes, comes later with: Where does it stop?

This issue is troubling at so many levels. Not even one women's group came out to lobby for women's rights or to remind the nation that a decision to support segregation is a slap in the face of equality.

Reasonable accommodation is good when not imposed from the top down. Reasonable accommodation is the multifaith chapel at Toronto airport with a large section for Muslims; unreasonable accommodation is the Muslim airport employee who insists on a separate room allocated only for him or her.

Reasonable accommodation is including Muslim books in the library; unreasonable accommodation is the demand to eliminate the Three Little Pigs from a traditional story. Reasonable accommodation is celebrating our religious holidays with joy; unreasonable accommodation is criticizing others who wish to say Merry Christmas and celebrate their culture, too.

Many of us who come from theocratic and patriarchal countries are wholly dependent on Canada's liberal, secular values of gender equality to maintain our freedom -- which others are working so tirelessly to curtail.

York University's decision to allow gender segregation suffocates and chokes the very values that make this country, and others like it, the great liberal, secular democracy we came here to seek.

 

Raheel Raza is an award winning author, journalist, and filmmaker on the topics of Jihad and Sharia. She is president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and an activist for human rights, gender equality, and diversity.

This article appeared originally on GatestoneInstitute.org

Islamism: What America Still Doesn't Understand

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is a symbol of Iranian inflexibility and deception in dealing with the West. (Photo: © Reuters)

Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei is a symbol of Iranian inflexibility and deception in dealing with the West. (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Barry Rubin

Around 2007, I gave a lecture at the Defense Department. One of the attendees presented a scenario suggesting that the "problem of Islam" was not political but a problem of verbiage.

There was a secret debate happening in the Defense Department and the CIA in which some people thought that all Muslims were a problem, some believed that only Al Qaeda was a problem, and still others thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem.

The main problem, however, was that all Islamism was a political threat, but it was the second position that eventually won over the Obama administration. Take note of this: Since 2009, if you wanted to build your career and win policy debates, only Al Qaeda was a problem. The Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat; after all, it did not participate in September 11. This view was well known in policy circles, but it was easy to mistake this growing hegemony as temporary.

Actually, it only got worse.

A Muslim Foreign Service officer recounted how some U.S. officials were trying to persuade the powers that be that Al Qaeda was split from the Muslim Brotherhood. Imagine how horrified he was. Still other officials told me that there was heavy pressure and there were well-financed lobbyists trying to force officials into the idea that Al Qaeda was the only problem. Some high-ranking defense department officials – for example, one on the secretary of defense's level – were pressured to fire anti-Muslim Brotherhood people. I know of at least five such incidences.

I personally was asked to participate in a contract and co-direct a project for the federal government, and my paper was to be on the idea that all Islamists posed a threat. To my surprise, I was told that my paper was rejected.

Shocked, I asked to speak to the two co-contractors on the telephone. Isn't it true, I said on the phone, that I was to have co-direction of this project? The response was, "Yes, it was." By the way, this co-director, who likely became interested in the Middle East in large part because of me, was very rude. I then told him that though the project had originally been my idea, and that I was going to walk away from it and not demand compensation.

In another incident, a high-ranking CIA official posited a paper that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat, only Al-Qaeda was, and U.S. policy should therefore depend on the Brotherhood. 

In another case, a U.S. official made a statement at a public function that neither Hezbollah nor Hamas posed a threat to U.S. interests.

By 2013, this thinking sprouted in a few people who argued that Iran could be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. The theoretical situation to government officials was thus clear: If you wanted to make some money in Washington, you would have to toe the line that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat. If sanctions ended against the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamists, including Iran, this could also lead to trillions of dollars in potential trade deals.

Note that in 2009 and 2010, an attempt was made to build such a model with Syria, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people were being murdered in a civil war.

But Iran was a far more valuable state. In fact, Tehran was a far easier target because it had far more money and could possibly be bought simply by agreeing not to build a nuclear weapon.

The following is what I predicted in my 1980 book Paved With Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran:

United States-Iranian relations could not possibly have been worse in the months following November 4, 1979. From the American point of view, the central problem was obtaining the release of fifty-three American diplomats being held hostage at the American Embassy in Tehran. To the Iranians the capture of the American Embassy and its occupants marked a successful end to one revolution and the opening shots of a second. For Iran, like Russia in 1917, was to undergo both a February and a November revolution–the first a political struggle to unseat the old regime, the second a social, economic, and cultural revolution to build a new Islamic society.

In Iran's case, it was the fundamentalist mullahs and their Islamic Republican Party who were seeking to achieve what the Bolsheviks had done in Russia–monopolize power. Like Lenin, Khomeini would in time turn against moderate segments of the revolutionary coalition and purge their members from positions of authority; like the Bolsheviks, the fundamentalists, once in power, would refuse to compromise with those ethnic movements that had aided the revolution; and like the Leninists, Khomeini's supporters would try to create a totalistic structure, subsuming into their ideological framework all aspects of national life, from the courts to the schools, from the military to the conduct of commerce, and even the daily behavior of the citizenry.

Thus, the United States and Iran, two countries whose friendship had begun with such high expectations and whose relations had included fine moments of selfless cooperation as well as many shameful episodes of corruption and insensitivity, were now the bitterest of enemies.

In 2014, I am convinced that the leadership of the Iranian Islamist regime still feels the same way, just as American policy makers still don't understand that nice verbiage has not changed anything.

Note that President Ronald Reagan sending the Iranians a key-shaped cake –supposedly to symbolize the "opening" of U.S.-Iranian relations – also demonstrated little understanding of Iranian extremism.

 
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