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Islamic World News ( 24 Oct 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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European Muslims Debate: Should Gays Be Executed?

Dudley: Mosque protest: 33,000 sign up

Making Islamists Squirm

Joy for Jack Thomas as jury rejects 'jihad' case

Michael Coren: The jihad on Egypt's Christians

MELBOURNE: Australia's 'Jihad Jack' cleared of taking Al-Qaeda cash

Africa: Media has a role in fighting terrorism

CHICAGO: Finding Islam on Chicago Bus

Misuse of Qu'ran by terrorists doesn't make Islam a religion of violence

Savage ridiculed Ethiopians, declaring they "have flies around their eyes"; labeled Islam "a bloodthirsty religion"

Opinion: What's wrong with having a Muslim for president?

The Turkish Theologist who stopped wearing the headscarf



European Muslims Debate: Should Gays Be Executed?

FrontPage magazine October 23 2008

By Bruce Bawer

One of the pillars of the future totalitarian state in 1984 is the practice of doublethink, which Orwell defined as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary.”

As it happens, this is a precise description of exactly what’s been going on in many parts of Europe in recent years, as multicultural ideology has been confronted by realities about Islam that, in a doublethink-free world, would send that ideology crashing to the ground in flames.

For a case in point, I will refer the reader to an episode I’ve mentioned previously in this space — an Oslo debate last November at which the deputy chairman of Norway’s Islamic Council, Asghar Ali, refused to reject the death penalty for gays. When Senaid Kobilica, the head of the Islamic Council (which represents 60,000 Muslims), was asked where he stood on the question, he replied that he couldn’t give a definitive answer until he got a ruling from the European Fatwa Council. This week it was reported that he’s still waiting.

But not to worry! Kobilica added that he’s “100 percent certain that the fatwa council will not come out in favor of something which conflicts with European law.” Meaning that while the death penalty for homosexuals is, indeed, an orthodox Islamic position — one about which the Fatwa Council’s head, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has himself written sympathetically — Western Muslim leaders, in accordance with the Koran (and with good strategy), prefer in such controversial cases not to challenge infidel law. (There will, after all, be time enough to execute gays in the coming decades, as the Muslim population attains critical balance in one country after another — first, most likely, in France and Sweden and the Netherlands, and in Norway some time after that.)

What are most chilling about all this, however, is not the positions of these Muslim leaders but the reactions of the Norwegian establishment. Or, one should say, the lack of reaction.

Consider this. After last November’s debate, it emerged that Asghar Ali not only was deputy chairman of the Islamic Council but was also on the board of the Oslo Arbeidersamfunn, the largest and most influential association within Norway’s ruling Labor Party. Asked about Ali’s views, the head of the Oslo Arbeidersamfunn, Anne Cathrine Berger, lamented that some people “can’t see the difference between a board member’s views and the organization’s views.” Despite scattered calls for his dismissal, Ali remained on the board. (When a new board election was held in February, Ali chose not to run again.)

That’s not all: Ali is, in addition, secretary of the 37,000-member Electricians’ and IT Workers’ Union. After the November debate, the union’s website posted a “clarification” by Ali saying that “as a Norwegian Muslim” he in fact rejected the death penalty for gays. The words “as a Norwegian Muslim” amount to a disingenuous dodge — they’re the rhetorical equivalent of keeping your fingers crossed behind your back. To state that one rejects the death penalty for gays “as a Norwegian Muslim” isn’t the same as saying that one rejects it, period. Like what Kobilica said about European law, it’s simply an Islamist’s way of affirming that he accepts infidel law as it now stands; such a statement reveals absolutely nothing about his real position on the question, or about whether he is, in fact, dedicated to the goal of ultimately changing this and the rest of Norwegian law to conform with sharia. At this point in the ongoing Islamization of Europe, the slipperiness of Ali’s “clarification” should be manifest to any infidel who’s made an effort to understand how Muslims think about these matters. Yet the head of the Electricians’ and IT Workers’ Union , Hans Olav Felix, pronounced himself satisfied with Ali’s ”clarification,” and Ali remains in the #2 spot at the union.

As for the Norwegian government, there has been no serious effort, as far as I know, to rescind from the Islamic Council its half million kroner a year in state support. And the media? After a news cycle or two had passed, the Norwegian media dropped the whole pesky little business of Muslims executing gays down the memory hole and resumed treating the members of the Islamic Council as if they were congenial folks who are model immigrants, lovers of Norway, and (that magic word) moderates. When Norwegian security services expressed concern in February about the possible role in terrorist funding of money sent abroad by Norwegian Muslims, Dagsavisen went straight to Asghar Ali for a quote pooh-poohing the idea. Dagsavisen’s article ended as follows: “Ali emphasizes that the Norwegian Muslim community has definitively rejected extremism.” The fact that Ali himself had refused only weeks earlier to reject the death penalty for gay people had already been deep-sixed.

In the same month, Muslims rioted in Denmark, and Aftenbladet ran a piece portraying Kobilinka as an embodiment of moderation and reason. He was quoted as calling on Muslim youth in Norway to control themselves and blaming the riots in Denmark on “inequality and discrimination.” His argument that Muslims are the victims of bigotry, and that this bigotry is the cause of any unrest by Muslim youth, was treated as self-evident; meanwhile, the fact that this self-proclaimed opponent of discrimination had recently refused to reject the death penalty for gays went unmentioned.

As if all this weren’t enough, in April Aftenposten ran a profile of Kobilica by Kristin Høiland. Her headline: “Travel-Happy Imam.” The subhead: “He loves the mountains, enjoys skiing — and considers his journey to Norway among the most important of his life.” Høiland’s text glowed with enthusiasm for this exemplary “new Norwegian”: “We have seldom met anyone so happy to be living in this country. … Kobilica could be mistaken for an unusually well-dressed Norwegian … [he’s] a young, modern imam, dressed in suit and tie, and available by cell phone and e-mail.” Also, he’s “hospitable,” he’s a “bridge-builder,” the atmosphere in his office is “informal and friendly.” When he tells Høiland that he wants “to show that Islam is an inclusive religion” that “adapts to the society we live in,” you might expect her to reply with a query about executing gays, but no: her next question is “Do you have any dream destinations?”

A search through all the major Norwegian papers and several lesser ones shows that none has been moved in recent days to editorialize about the Islamic Council’s continued on-the-fence posture about executing homosexuals. On the contrary, instead of acknowledging that more than a few Muslim leaders in Europe are well on their way to being the continent’s new Nazis, the Norwegian media have continued, in the face of all evidence, to cling to the mantra that Muslims are Europe’s new Jews. To read the Norwegian media, you’d think European Muslims are huddling together in their homes, trembling in terror that an Islamophobic mob will break down the door any second and drag them out to be lynched. The media make no effort to reconcile such fantasies with the reality that Muslim leaders are out there every day, throwing their weight around with increasing self-assurance and being increasingly open about their devotion to even the most brutal parts of sharia law.

As it happens, the news that the Islamic Council was still awaiting the Fatwa Council’s verdict on gays came a day before a report that Mullah Krekar, Norway’s #1 resident terrorist, was suing Norway in the European Court of Human Rights because he wanted “to see that I’m getting everything I have a right to.” What both of these stories underscore is that on every front, and with every weapon they can find — lawsuits, veiled threats, guilt-tripping, and puff pieces masquerading as journalism — Islamists are poking and prodding at the edifice of European democracy in a tireless effort to weaken the system and bend it ever more surely toward sharia. They’ve realized that the work of jihad — of restoring the caliphate, of making Europe a part of the umma — doesn’t require suicide bombs and airplane missiles; for the prevalence in the West of useful idiots who’ve been brainwashed by multiculturalism makes such weapons superfluous.

    Bruce Bawer’s book While Europe Slept is now in paperback.

His website: Source: Europe news


Mosque protest: 33,000 sign up

23rd October 2008

MORE than 33,000 names have been collected against controversial plans to build an £18 million mosque in Dudley.

The petition, organised by Councillor Malcolm Davis, urges Dudley Council to activate a covenant attached to the Hall Street site which states that if the building is not “substantially completed” by the end of the year the council has the option to buy back the land.

The start of building work has been delayed because of a planning wrangle, following the development control committee’s original refusal of the plan.

The Dudley Muslim Association won approval at appeal but a judicial review by High Court judges is now pending after the council decided to take legal action against the inspector’s verdict.

The petition was presented at last week’s full council meeting and Council leader Councillor J David Caunt told members the hearing had been delayed and would not now be heard until next year.

UK Independence Party member Cllr Davis said a 32,752-named petition was handed in at the meeting and more sheets have been given in since, taking the total to more than 33,000.

He said the petition, which is still open, proved the extent of opposition to the building of a mosque and urged the council to activate the covenant and to redesignate the land for industrial use.

A council spokesman said a decision on whether to enforce the covenant had not yet been made.

“We will be carrying out some consultation work with Dudley Muslim Forum, to which the association belongs, to discuss a way forward,” he added.  Source: Dudley news


Making Islamists Squirm

FrontPage magazine

October 23 2008

A few weeks ago Bridget Johnson reported here at Pajamas Media about the jihad against free speech being waged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against the national DVD distribution of copies of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West, in more than 70 papers.

Not only has CAIR filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission against the group sponsoring the campaign, the Clarion Fund, but they have also demanded that the IRS investigate the organization’s tax-exempt status, claiming that the Clarion Fund is a front group for an Israeli organization. The evidence they have provided, however, is little more than the guilt-by-association variety.

I will only pause momentarily to note the outrageous hypocrisy of CAIR calling anyone else a front for foreign organizations, especially after an FBI agent testified two weeks ago in a federal terrorism finance trial in Dallas, identifying CAIR as a front group for the terrorist organization HAMAS and the international Muslim Brotherhood.

But if Obsession gave CAIR heartburn, a new documentary by the same director, The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America, will undoubtedly give them kidney stones.

There are two cardinal reasons why CAIR and other Islamic extremist groups will find The Third Jihad even more deplorable than its predecessor.

The first is that the film directly challenges their claim to speak on behalf of all American Muslims. In fact, the film is narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Josser, a devout American-born Muslim physician, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Josser has been one of the most outspoken American Muslim leaders against the agenda of radical Islam in the U.S. and the organizations that actively work to advance the jihadist cause against our country. And he has done this through numerous television appearances on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and many other outlets, in print through articles and editorials, and speaking regularly on the national lecture circuit.

To have a mainstream Muslim leader — who is unashamedly pro-American and anti-jihads; who cites his military induction oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as a personal fundamental commitment; who is not tainted with multiple ties to foreign jihads groups and Islamic terrorist organizations; whose parents came to the U.S. from Syria fleeing the very oppression and religious extremism that typifies the Muslim world; who rejects the constant grievance-mongering and endless claims of victimization of Islamic extremists; and who is willing to publicly call out groups like CAIR for their extremist agenda to undermine the very liberties that make us Americans — leading this charge might be one of the most serious challenges that these groups have ever faced.

In the person of Audi Josser, American Muslim families can find a leader that represents their values and concerns, which presumably differ not at all from the concerns of non-Muslim families — children, jobs, making ends meet. No doubt they are eager for representatives of their community who can speak for them without screeching about Zionists, Palestine, the Crusades, Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the seemingly endless list of Western iniquities.

In The Third Jihad, Josser pointedly attacks the central elements to the public narrative advanced by radical Islamic groups — that there is no problem within Islam, that there is no religious element to Islamic terrorism, and that any expressions of fear about the spread of Islamic extremism and terrorism are merely reflections of latent bigotry and Islamophobia of those concerned.

The threat identified by Josser is the result of two converging trends: first, an inherent militarism within Islam itself, and second, the highly politicized and violent approach to Islam that developed throughout most of the 20th century. The three jihads referred to in the film’s title are the initial wars of Islamic conquest; the Ottoman (...)

    Patrick Poole is a regular contributor to and an anti-terrorism consultant to law enforcement and the military.

Source: Europe news


Joy for Jack Thomas as jury rejects 'jihad' case

Katie Bice

Oct 24, 2008

A JUBILANT Jack Thomas mouthed "Thank you" to a jury yesterday as he was finally cleared of terrorism charges related to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida.

Thomas, 35, stood composed as the jury returned its verdict, but broke down as jurors left court.

He then climbed through a gap in the railings of the prisoner's dock to embrace his tearful wife and parents.

But lawyers for Thomas are calling for an inquiry into the conduct of the Australian Federal Police and Commonwealth Director of Prosecutions in pursuing him on terrorism charges.

Lawyer Rob Stary says there was never enough evidence to convict Thomas on terrorism offences and an inquiry is needed to see who was pushing the case and how much it cost.

The jury did find Thomas guilty of falsifying his passport, an offence that carries a maximum two-year jail term; he has already served about 10 months.

Outside court, Thomas hugged his family as lawyer Jim Kennan, SC, said his client would quietly celebrate.

"He has now been acquitted of all terrorism-related charges, and obviously that is a matter of great satisfaction for him," Mr Kennan said.

"It is a big relief for him. He has had this hanging over his head for many years."

Mr Kennan refused to be drawn on the long pursuit of his client by federal authorities, but took a swipe at terrorism laws and called for a Bill of Rights to be introduced.

"We are concerned about the terrorism laws and we are concerned about the erosion of civil liberties," he said. "The continual erosion of rights . . . is a matter of genuine community concern."

Thomas has lived through a roller-coaster legal saga since his arrest in Pakistan in January 2003.

He was sentenced to five years' jail, with a two-year non-parole term, in February 2006 after a jury convicted the Muslim convert of the terror-related charges of taking $US3500 and a plane ticket home from senior al-Qaida member Khaled bin Attash.

But the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions.

However, prosecutors used an interview Thomas gave to the ABC's Four Corners to successfully apply for a retrial, arguing it was new evidence.

After a failed High Court bid by Thomas -- also the first Australian subjected to anti-terror control orders -- to stop the retrial, he once again faced the Supreme Court last week.

Prosecutor Nick Robinson, SC, told the jury Thomas had been approached by bin Attash to be bin Laden's "white boy" working in Australia.

He said while Thomas refused the request, he took the $US3500 and a travel ticket.

Mr Robinson claimed Thomas was a calculating man who mixed with significant al-Qaida decision-makers.

The court heard Thomas went overseas in 2001 because he believed he had a religious or moral obligation to fight with the Taliban for an Islamic state in Afghanistan. He went to the Al-Farooq training camp, where he saw bin Laden at least three times, and took part in military training preparing him for the front line.

Thomas claimed the $US3500 was raised by sympathetic Pakistanis so he could return to Australia, and that bin Attash hijacked the plan.

Justice Elizabeth Curtain bailed Thomas to appear back in court for a plea hearing on Wednesday. Source: Herald sun


Michael Coren: The jihad on Egypt's Christians

October 23, 2008

By Kelly McParland Michael Coren

Last week I was supposed to interview Father Zakaria Boutros on my television show. It would have been the second time I had spoken to this gentle, thoughtful man, one of the leading figures of the Egyptian Coptic Christian community and now obliged to live in exile in the United States after twice being arrested in his homeland. But on this occasion the interview was suddenly cancelled. A $60-million bounty had just been put on his head by Muslim extremists in Iran and Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda were thought to be intent on fulfilling the fatwa and it was considered too dangerous to allow him to travel to Canada. The fact that the United States government bounty on Osama Bin laden is a mere $25-million rather puts the case of this disarmingly gentle and jovial priest into proportion.

Because while he is anonymous to most North Americans, Boutros is famous or notorious throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, where his daily television broadcasts attract enormous audiences and his Web site millions of hits. His style is uncompromising. Speaking in Egyptian accented Arabic, and fluent in Islamic scholarship and the various sub-cultures of the Muslim world, he carefully unwraps the layers of the Koran and the life and teachings of Muhammad and presents his viewers with a virtually unprecedented critique of their faith. It’s the combination of accessibility and originality that makes him so threatening to militant Islam.

“We know people are leaving Islam because of what I say and they know people are leaving Islam because of what I say,” he explains. A long pause, then: “People in the West simply don’t understand the significance of this in a world that has not and probably will not embrace pluralism. The Islamic response is not to argue with me but to try to kill me.”

Nor is this just the sordid reaction of wealthy fanatics and terror mobs. Last month the Iranian parliament voted on a draft bill, the “Islamic Penal Code,” whereby any woman who left Islam would be punished with life in prison and any man with execution. 196 parliamentarians supported the bill, seven opposed it. The world’s reaction, including the United Nations’, to this contravention of myriad international laws has been screamingly silent.

Iran is in fact merely attempting to institutionalize what is already reality in Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Even in areas of the Islamic world, such as Palestine and Iraq, where Christianity has traditionally been tolerated, conversion is still seen as socially and morally criminal.

Egypt is a particularly acute and troubling case because of the size of the Christian minority, the horror of their treatment and the systematic and cynical denial by the Egyptian government and their puppets and fellow travellers abroad. There are between eight and ten million Christians in Egypt, around 10% of the population and for the last 30 years in particular they have faced organized discrimination in the law, education, employment and housing. As a consequence they leave Egypt in disproportionately large numbers.

Beyond this now regular, degrading oppression there are numerous cases of grotesque violence. In January, 2000, for example, in El-Kosheh, Upper Egypt, 21 Christians were killed in rioting by local Muslims, aided by the police. When authorities eventually reacted, they arrested more than a thousand local Christians, many of whom were tortured. There are numerous cases of Coptic girls being kidnapped by Muslim gangs and then being forcibly converted and married to Muslim men. If they flee these marriages and try to return to Christianity they are killed as apostates.

Church desecration is common, as are public burnings of Bibles and Christian literature. There are also documented cases of Christians being ritually crucified, the rape of Christian girls and the prolonged beating of children, some of them babies. These are not isolated incidents condemned by the state, but part of a reoccurring pattern often ignored and, in some regions, actively encouraged by police and militia. Egyptian apologists will point to certain Christians in positions of influence or, more frequently, argue that these accusations are propaganda -- lies told by Christians and Jews in North America and Europe.  

They are not. Spend time with an Egyptian Christian living in forced exile and the stories and the pain tumble forth as the toxins of dark experience flow from their memory. Or speak to Father Zakaria Boutros, if he is allowed to travel and manages to survive the multi-million dollar bounty on his head.

Michael Coren is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster. His Web site is Source: Network National post.


Australia's 'Jihad Jack' cleared of taking Al-Qaeda cash

MELBOURNE (AFP) — An Australian Muslim convert was Thursday found not guilty of receiving money from the Al-Qaeda terror network after travelling to Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Former taxi driver Jack Thomas was acquitted on the terror charge in a retrial in Melbourne more than two years after he became the first Australian to be convicted under anti-terrorism laws introduced after the attacks on New York and Washington.

But the retrial jury did find Thomas -- dubbed "Jihad Jack" by the media after his trial -- guilty of altering his passport.

Thomas, who trained in an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan, was found guilty in February 2006 of accepting 3,500 US dollars in cash and an air ticket home given to him in 2003 by a senior Al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan.

The 35-year-old was retried after the court of appeal quashed his original conviction, ruling that an Australian police interview with Thomas in Pakistan in 2003 was conducted under duress and was therefore inadmissible.

"He has now been acquitted of all terrorist related charges and obviously that is a matter of great satisfaction to him and to those of us who represented him," said Thomas's lawyer Jim Kennan outside the Melbourne court.

Thomas should never have been retried, he said. "(But) we put ourselves (to) the jury ... and they have reached this verdict and we are happy with it.

"It has been a difficult period for him very obviously and it has now come to the satisfactory end in my legal view," Kennan said.

Prosecutors had alleged Thomas accepted money and the air ticket from a man claiming to have a message from Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who allegedly wanted a "white boy" to work for him in Australia.

The operative allegedly told Thomas he could offer 10,000 US dollars immediately to anyone willing to carry out an attack, the court was told during the retrial that started last week.

Prosecutors sought the retrial after Thomas gave a television interview in 2006 in which he told how he went to Afghanistan in 2001 to fight for the Taliban in the country's civil war.

Taking his wife and young child, he told how he went to train with the Taliban in March 2001 but later ended up in an Al-Qaeda camp, although he claimed he only found that out when bin Laden turned up for a visit.

He found world's most wanted man to be polite, humble and shy. He appeared to "float across the floor", he said in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview that was played extensively to jurors by prosecutors.

"He didn't like too many kisses. He didn't mind being hugged, but kisses he didn't like," Thomas had said in the comments that were later used against him in court.

Thomas, who was not remanded in custody, had denied both charges against him.

He said he accepted the money and plane ticket simply because he wanted to return to his family and had no intention of becoming an Al-Qaeda operative.

He got the items from Pakistanis sympathetic to the Taliban and that the Al-Qaeda operative had "hijacked" the situation, pretending the items were a gift from him, he claimed.

Thomas's lawyer had said prosecutors had not provided any evidence of a money trail, nor had they shown that the man who gave Thomas the cash was linked to Al-Qaeda.

Thomas will reappear in court for a pre-sentence hearing on the passport charge next week. Source: AFP NEWS


Media has a role in fighting terrorism

By Sam Makinda  

October 24, 2008: While terrorism may be as old as human society, there has not been any period in my lifetime when this form of political violence has occupied the attention of governments and analysts as it has in the decade since the bombing of the American embassy in Nairobi in August 1998.

Terrorism is essentially a tactic of war. However, following the massive attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, American President George W. Bush declared the so-called global war on terror.

For a time, the media and various governments around the world reacted to the 9/11 attacks as if terrorism had entered a totally new phase. But, there was nothing new about suicide bombings, which had started in Sri Lanka two decades earlier and spread to the Middle East.

The subsequent American-led approach to terrorism has both been justified and condemned around the world ever since.

My concern here is not with the American characterisation of terrorism, but with the possible roles the media and other civil society organisations can play in educating society about counter-terrorism.

Having participated in a counter-terrorism workshop, which was addressed by the director of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, Brigadier David Mwangangi, in Nairobi earlier this week.

The workshop, which is the fifth in a series organised by the South African-based Institute for Security Studies and, brought together African decision-makers, scholars and civil society representatives to discuss counter-terrorism approaches.

Objective views

In the discussions, numerous questions were raised about the role of the media in counter-terrorism.

For example, can the media provide objective views on terrorism and counter-terrorism? In what ways should the media balance their responsibility to inform the public and while not undermining security agencies?

The effectiveness of the media’s role in counter-terrorism activities is circumscribed by at least three factors.

The first is the level of training. Without adequate training in such issues as security studies, law and the international human rights conventions, the media cannot play a meaningful role in counter-terrorism.

The second factor that determines the effectiveness of the media’s role is the relationship between the security agencies and sections of the media. If the security agencies do not trust the media, it is not likely to share important information with them.

However, whatever trust there is between them, the country is served better if journalists remain aware of the possibility that security agencies might feed them on propaganda. This is why proper training by journalists is so crucial.

Adequately trained journalists often ask questions that go beyond the superficial briefings of government officials. They also remain alert to the possibility that terrorists and governments can try to feed them with propaganda.

The third factor that determines the effectiveness of the media’s role in counter-terrorism is the level of awareness among the audience.

Society needs to be known that the media does not always report objectively. In conveying information, they always interpret what they observe, re-creating reality.  

Makinda is a professor of security studies at Murdoch University.

 Source: Business Daily Africa


Finding Islam on Chicago Bus

By Aisha Qidwae, IOL Correspondent

CHICAGO — Leslie C. Toole has been considering to embrace Islam for the past ten years. But when the Chicagoan teacher saw a simple, yet striking ad on a public bus, he knew the moment has come.

"I never truly committed and when I saw that sign I knew that was the final sign to complete my move," Toole, 45, told

Toole had come across Islam on a street corner ten years ago when a man handed him a pamphlet telling him he'll find enlightenment in it.

"And I kept reading and reading and I wanted to make sure that I understand what I got involved in."

Just last month, an Islam advertisement rolled past him on one of the Chicago Transit Authority buses. The sign caught his eyes and eventually he called the number on the giant ad.

"How to become a member of Islam was my primary question."

Toole embraced Islam on Monday, September 29.

His story is similar to that of 13 other Chicagoans accepted Islam this month alone thanks to the Islam ad campaign of GainPeace, a Chicago area outreach project of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

The group spent $30,900 to place signs on 25 public buses serving across Chicago.

The ads direct people to a toll-free hotline, 800.662.Islam, and a website established to help those who are seeking answers to questions about Islam.

The campaign was initially to run from September 19 to October 20, but it has been extended till November 23 because of the massive positive feedback.

The hotline has received thousands of calls, in addition to up to 300,000 hits on the website.

When curious Chicagoans dial the hotline, GainPeace also provides them with an English copy of the Noble Qur'an, The Message magazine on Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as brochures and books on topics related to Islam.


Campaigners say the aim of the bus ad campaign was to find a novel way to steer people toward information on Islam.

"The topic [of the ad] is Islam: the way of life with different prophets' names," Sabeel Ahmed, Director of GainPeace, told IOL.

"The bottom and top message are supposed to generate more interest in people."

Ahmed affirms that with the hotline and the website, people would get the chance to know more about Islam, with the opportunity to call knowledgeable Muslims to clear up any misconceptions, biases or fears.

"We want to create a channel through the website so people can interact with us and work out the commonalities, to get to know each other better." Toole, the new Muslim, believes that the simple yet stark ad which merely says "Got Questions? Get Answers" is a brilliant way to draw people's attention.

"I thought it was a neat idea…I had never seen that before."

The Islam ad campaign does not run in Chicago alone.

ICNA, a New York-based grassroots organization that has 22 chapters across the US, has organized similar campaigns in Seattle and New York.

In Big Apple, 1,000 ads went up on the city's subway cars last month, portraying in a visual format questions that people may have about Islam.

Because of campaign's success, other cities in the US and Canada have asked the group to help start similar projects.

A recent US survey revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Islam and do not see any common grounds between the Muslim faith and their own Christian beliefs.

When a person embraces Islam, the group appoints a Big Brother or Big Sister, who becomes a mentor for the new Muslim, proving information, support and advice.

"The mentor is like a guardian angel," says Ahmed, the GainPeace director.

The mentor and the new Muslim meet face-to-face and stay in touch with mails and phone calls.

Toole, who has chosen Ilyas as his new Muslim name, is very grateful to his mentor.

"He's been very helpful. He's provided me with tons of books to move me forward."

GainPeace also provides the new Muslim with the Shahada package, which includes: A How to Pray DVD, a Help Yourself in Reading the Qur'an book, and brochures on various topics about Islam.

It also offers online classes once a week for new Muslims, which Ilyas is looking forward to joining.

"I'll be able to learn everything from Muslims' lifestyle to prayer practices and the Arabic language."

Ilyas says that the more he knows about his new religion, the more confident he feels that he has made the right decision.

"It's definitely perfect for me.

"It's hard to explain because when you know something is right, it’s just a deep-rooted feeling inside of you that you found home."   Source: Islam Online


Misuse of Qu'ran by terrorists doesn't make Islam a religion of violence

23 Oct 2008

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."

Who said these words? Mohammed? After having read Pastor Tom Newton's recent diatribe against Islam, one could be justified for thinking so. But that person would be wrong, for these words are attributed by the evangelist Matthew to Jesus himself. (Mt 10:34)

Does this make Jesus a warmonger? Of course not this verse has to be placed in the whole context Matthew's Gospel to be correctly understood. Yet some of his disciples down through the centuries have used such biblical passages to justify their recourse to violence in the name of their faith. Christians have sought to expand the Church through war and conquest, fighting Muslims in the Middle East and in Spain during the Middle Ages, enslaving South American natives as they slaughtered each other during the terrible Wars of Religion of the 16th century, and killing each other again in Northern Ireland during the twentieth.

It is not for nothing that John Paul II, in the Jubilee Year of 2000, prayed for forgiveness with the following words: "Christians have often denied the Gospel; yielding to a mentality of power, they have violated the rights of ethnic groups and peoples, and shown contempt for their cultures and religious traditions: be patient and merciful towards us, and grant us your forgiveness!"

In the same way that some Christians have twisted the Bible against itself to justify their violence, Muslim terrorists have twisted the Qu'ran. But in the same way that a misuse of the Bible does not make Christianity a violent religion, a misuse of the Qu'ran does not make of Islam a religion of violence. To isolate a few verses from the Qu'ran as Pastor Newton does to justify his condemnation of Muslims is as wrong as to isolate from the rest of the Gospel the verse I quoted at the beginning of this letter in order to condemn all Christians.

As for seeking to convert the whole world to their faith, Muslims are no different than Christians. We both believe that we have received the fullness of revelation from God, and that we are duty-bound to share that revelation with others. It is a source of great tension between us, and we both need to learn how to live our differences in respect and peace. But we Christians certainly cannot accuse Muslims simply because they resemble us in zeal. To do so is to condemn ourselves.

Beyond these theological arguments, however, I worry that there is another agenda at work here. And that agenda can only be named xenophobia, fear of the stranger. This attitude is dangerous: dangerous to those who are thus targeted, and dangerous to our society as a whole. Xenophobia led to the death of six million Jews not so long ago and not so far away. Xenophobia is what we need to fear, not Islam. As leader of the Roman Catholics of this area, I invite all men and women of good will to move beyond dark suspicion and to see in the Muslims who live among us people of quiet faith and deep respect who only seek to live in harmony and friendship and, with us, to build community.

I turn to my Muslim neighbours with the words that Cardinal Tauran, the prefect of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, addressed to the world Islamic community only a few weeks ago at the end of Ramadan: "Dear friends, I hope that you, with your families and those close to you, purified and renewed by those practices dear to your religion, may know serenity and prosperity in your life! May Almighty God fill you with His Mercy and Peace?"

Paul-André Durocher, Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall  Source: Standard Freeholder


Savage ridiculed Ethiopians, declaring they "have flies around their eyes"; labeled Islam "a bloodthirsty religion"


On the October 23 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage said of Ethiopians: "The people down there have flies around their eyes," adding, "I never went into an Ethiopian restaurant. The Ethiopians come here to eat American food." Earlier in the broadcast, while discussing Ramadan and the continued violence in Iraq, Savage suggested that Islam is "a bloodthirsty religion that's practiced over there by a bunch of throwbacks, and we're gonna to kill 'em." Savage called for the United States to say: "That's it, we're leaving them; we're killing them."

Savage has previously labeled illegal immigrants "vermin," claimed that "the Asians still chew 'em [dogs] up," and called Arabs "non-human," as Media Matters for America has documented.

According to Talkers magazine, The Savage Nation is played on over 300 radio stations and reaches more than eight million listeners each week, making it the third most-listened to radio talk show in the nation behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.

From the October 23 edition of Talk Radio Network's The Savage Nation:

SAVAGE: I'm trying to get away from the murder by the Muslims there in Iraq -- I hate it. I hate seeing women and children blown up when they're buying candy, and the next day, we're lectured about Ramadan, the holy month -- the holy month, Ramadan; the end of the holy month, and they're killing women and children.

Why doesn't someone say, "It's a bloodthirsty religion that's practiced over there by a bunch of throwbacks, and we're gonna kill 'em"? "That's it, we're leaving them; we're killing them, now get out of there." That's what the whole world is screaming at Bush. [...]

SAVAGE: And I had a good weekend. Don't think I had a bad -- I had a very good weekend. I mean, I did. The fortune cookie story I told you indicates it all. I can't wait to eat the leftover Chinese food tonight after the show. Mmm, boy, it's better the next -- it is so good the next night. I don't know why. You put it in the microwave, and you don't have to go out. You don't have to ask anybody. You don't have to watch liberals putting their hands together and bowing every time they bring them a napkin or a glass of water -- "Oh, thank you."

Why do they do that in Asian restaurants for? Most of the Asians have been here longer than the white people have -- the ones in the restaurants. What are they bowing? "May I have a napkin?" "Oh, thank you." They do their hands together. You ever seen liberals in Asian restaurants? The Japanese look at them like they're nuts; they have no idea why they're bowing and putting their hands together. "Can I have a glass of water?" "Oh, thank you." Then they pay and they say thank you to the owner, you hear?

Instead of the owner saying thank you to them for business, the liberal says thank you to show how good they are -- they went to church. That's like a church move for them to go to an Asian restaurant -- hell, any ethnic restaurant.

I can just imagine them at an Ethiopian restaurant what they must carry on. Do liberals go to an Ethiopian restaurant? Could you imagine they're eating food from that area? What do they eat down in Ethiopia? I never went in one. There was one in San Francisco. Why would you eat in an Ethiopian restaurant? The people down there have flies around their eyes. What would they -- what kind of cuisine come from Eretea [sic]? I never went into an Ethiopian restaurant. The Ethiopians come here to eat American food. You don't need to wind up with flies in your baby eye -- baby's eye. —A.I.    Source: Media Matters


What's wrong with having a Muslim for president?


OPINION: Where is the outrage over the implication in the US that Islam equates to terrorism, asks Bryan Mukandi?


A FEW WEEKS ago, an American friend told me that she wanted her country's elections to come to a close sooner rather than later.

I was a little surprised. The elections have been more entertaining than anything else on television all year. They have been better than even the Olympics. They started before the games, and were still a great source of drama months later.

So why was my friend, a person as fascinated by politics as I, not enjoying the race? She said it was because presidential elections divide the country. As a person who is not from the United States, I must confess that I was not moved by her concerns very much. Admittedly, I think the whole system is a silly way to pick a leader, ridiculous in fact. But even though I have heard people argue that the idea behind football is just as ridiculous, I still watch the sport. However, over the last couple of weeks, things have changed. I too am now sick of the whole thing and want it to end.

It started with the use of the word "terrorist" at Republican Party campaign rallies. Then there was the use of Barack Obama's middle name - he even joked recently that he was clearly named Hussein by someone who did not think that he would ever run for president.

The icing on the cake was the woman who, at a town hall meeting, told John McCain that she was afraid of Obama because he was an Arab. McCain promptly took the microphone from her and went on to explain that Obama was not an Arab, but was instead, a decent family man. For that intervention, McCain was praised by some in the media for having "defended" Obama.

Some analysts and political commentators have criticised the McCain campaign for propagating the idea that Obama is a Muslim and "pals around" with terrorists. What surprises me is that while there seems to be a lot of outrage at the false Muslim allegations, the same is not true of the implication that Islam equates to terrorism. Why is it that the description "decent family man" can be thrown out as a counter to the suggestion that one is an Arab?

As The Daily Show's Jon Stewart noted, are there no Arabs who are decent men with families they love? Would a "no Ma'am, he is an American citizen" not have sufficed?

The optimist in me believes that with respect to prejudice, the world has made considerable progress and it is now only a matter of time before racism fades away. But sometimes I wonder if people just need an "other" on whom they can cast their doubts and fears.

Maybe different groups just take turns at being the victim. Jewish people had a stint, black people are hopefully coming out of theirs, and it looks like the group of the moment are the Muslims. All it took was one or two unhinged groups and a couple of acts of terrorism. Now, one can almost publicly say things like "they don't like us", "they have a violent culture", or "they think we are all infidels and want to take over the West".

As for who "they" are, that's obvious - people with names like Hussein and people who wear headscarves. It's not just an American phenomenon either. In July, the Daily Mail's Peter Oborne wrote: "Islamophobia - prejudice against Islam - is Britain's last remaining socially respectable form of bigotry . . ."

I think that allegation holds for much of Europe. My German friend, for example, who is often mistaken for a Muslim due to his complexion, is frequently called a terrorist on the bus in Berlin. As for real Muslims who stand out because of their dress, there have been more than a few complaints of prejudice. All because of an extreme fringe group, which is probably no more representative of the whole as the Ku Klux Klan would be of white America today.

I think Colin Powell put it best. He said that pictures of such bigotry were being viewed in the rest of the world and did not serve America's interests. He also asked why a Muslim could not run for the presidency. And that is a good point. Catholics can become president and it is looking like the same is true of black people. The jury is still out on women.

What about other groups? If the idea of a Latino or a Muslim in the White House is beyond belief, what does that say of American society? Either the White House is strictly reserved for those who profess to be orthodox Christians (that excludes Mormons like Mitt Romney) and the whole notion of plurality is a lie, or something has gone wrong.

If the US is the most progressive nation in these matters, what are the implications for western democracies? Is the idea of people being judged on merit, by the content of their character rather than on characteristics like race and religion just an illusion?

I do not know what it is like to be a Muslim today, but I do know a thing or two about being a minority. Most minorities, in my experience, tend to look to the broader society for clues as to where they fit. There is an insecurity that is inherent in being defined as different.

In the same way Obama's success will lead to more African-Americans engaging in the wider society, the allusions to Islam and terrorism in election events may have the opposite effect with Muslims and people of other non-Christian faiths. Because America is America, that will have ripple effects beyond that nation's borders.

Thankfully, in about two weeks this process will be behind us. The politics of race and religion will eventually fade into the background. People will be able to focus squarely on their finances, or pick any number of distractions. And hopefully, the scars of this election will not be too disfiguring.

• Bryan Mukandi also writes a blog, outside in, on The Irish Times website - © 2008 The Irish Times


The Turkish Theologist who stopped wearing the headscarf

By Kinia Adamczyk. , Konya, Turkey.

‘I’m tired of telling people who do not believe the headscarf is God’s rule that I’m a person who speaks, laughs and dances like them,’ explains Nuriye Duran- Özsoy. The theologist is seated on a red sofa in the lobby of the Rixos hotel in Konya, central Turkey, the city where she grew up, and she is tired of explaining why she decided to take the headscarf which she has worn she was thirteen off. It is well past 11 pm, but she goes over it patiently one more time, her feet tucked under her legs. Her boss had told her to take off her scarf if she wanted to continue teaching. The petite, now short-haired woman wondered why the man, although a practicing Muslim like her, didn’t back her up in their common faith.

Questioning the headscarf

Nuriye with friends and colleaguesNuriye with friends and colleagues | (Photo: Kinia Adamczyk)She was head of the Baskent Women’s Platform, a role model for practicing Muslim women in Turkey, when she made the decision aged 27. Some accepted her decision but were ‘upset for her’. Others cried ‘we lost you’. ‘I can’t change overnight just because I took off my scarf,’ she explains. ‘I am the same Nuriye as yesterday. One woman from the ministry of religious affairs initially strongly disapproved of her decision, but Duran-Özsoy kept her position at the head of the Platform. The woman later apologised.

Duran-Özsay’s rebellious and inquisitive tendencies emerged in university. As a student, her peers criticised her for wearing pink and red bright colours. ‘I always liked to wear nice clothes. Some people said it was against the rules of God, but this is their opinion and it is not related to religion.’ From 1996, a more ‘liberal time in Turkey’, Duran-Özsay and her girlfriends began questioning the headscarf as well as women’s rights, roles, relationships and attitudes within Islam. ‘In the past, it was always men who taught religion, but now then we started discussing our role in society through a feminine point of view.’

Today’s political symbol

In 1998, shortly after this liberal wind of change, the headscarf ban was strictly enforced. Like many of her classmates, Duran-Özsay quit her degree not because ‘it was God’s rule’, but because she didn’t accept the authority that was forcing her to uncover. She was unhappy when the current ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), which foreign media generally regard as Islamist, came into power in 2002. The headscarf issue, which is now hotly debated since the government technically lifted the ban in February 2008, was not on the agenda at the beginning of its rule. ‘Religious men do not understand our problems. They do not want to hear them. It made me think that God would not want me to have all these problems because of the headscarf.’

Turkish students’ debate

In her eyes, the function of the garment has evolved over time: in modern societies, it has become more of a tradition whilst it was a custom in the Arab world at the time the Koran was written. ‘It is not God’s will to all women today,’ she says. In the eyes of Turkish secularists, the headscarf has become a political symbol and a threat to the foundations of the Turkish republic. ‘The ban assumes that there is one headscarf and that its meaning is clear,’ argues Yesim Arat, a political science scholar from Bogazici University. Yet there are many ways to wear it and women do it for different reasons, be it out of social pressure or personal choice and belief. Either way, the ‘covered women are turned into Trojan horses infiltrating the secular republic. Meanwhile the state falls into the trap of authoritarianism, alienating the liberals within the Islamic community and radicalising the illiberal Islamists,’ holds Arat.

For Duran-Özsay, it is essential women discuss the issue. ‘I think we have to solve this problem as soon as possible; we have to discuss whether the headscarf is a God’s rule or not, because most of us are having psychological problems from this situation. We have to solve this as women, and not let men decide for us.’    Source: Café Babel