Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Real Issue: Choice Between Modesty and Nudity

Historically, African Americans have looked at the country of France with respect and admiration. When African American solders were sent to France in 1917, during WW I, they were treated with respect and consideration. The French citizens demonstrated open-mindedness toward African Americans soldiers. The recognition and respect, without marginality, demonstrated by France was in direct contrast to America's Jim-Crowism and segregation leveled at its Black citizens.

However, after 93 years France has shifted its political and social policies of democracy and equality toward 'secularism' at a cost of religious freedom. In America, where 24-30% of its Muslim population are African Americans, the respect for France has shifted to regret and condemnation at the French Senate, which adopted into law banning Muslim women from wearing veils -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women. This law denies Muslim women the right to cover their faces in public arenas such as hospitals, schools, government buildings and while using public transportation.

The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a women to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by law.

The real issue, from a Muslim's perspective, is framed around the choice between 'modesty' and 'nudity'. The non-Muslim political face may suggest that the real issue is the choice between 'religion' and 'secularism'. Secularism may be viewed as the endeavor to maintain the separation between 'church' and 'state'.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that a person's choice of dress is a personal matter. Islam teaches modesty for both men and women but underlying all Islamic injunctions is the Qur'anic principle that 'There is no compulsion in religion'. Thus if a woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, chooses not to cover her head then that is her right but on the other hand if a woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, chooses to cover her head or face then that too is her right and ought never to be interfered with. This belief was echoed by President Barack Obama in a speech in Cairo last June 09. He said:

" is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim women should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretense of liberalism."

America! Religious freedom is a gift that we must honor, preserve and protect. Our claim as a great nation is not through discrimination, prejudice and intolerance, but through exemplifying the qualities of freedom, justice and equality.

Allah, bless America!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

American Muslims Vow to
Replace Every Holy Quran Burned

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA invites all Muslims to respond to assault on holy book with patience, prayer and peaceful protest

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA intends to donate at least one copy of the Holy Quran for every one that is burned in the Dove World Outreach Center’s “International Burn a Koran Day” on Sept. 11.
Despite calls from religious leaders, politicians and civic groups around the world to cancel an event that will only fan the flames of extremism, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, has vowed to burn copies of the Holy Quran on Saturday.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community strongly condemns the desecration of Islam’s holy book, but will respond in its tradition of peaceful protest.
“Here in the United States, we don’t burn books,” said Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. “We read them freely and debate their content. As Muslims who stand for peace, we proclaim the holiness of all sacred scriptures and invite everyone to an open dialogue on the Holy Quran. ”
Copies of the Holy Quran will be donated to libraries, college campuses and interfaith groups by all 70 chapters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Interfaith symposia honoring all holy texts will continue to be held across the country.
For more information, please contact spokesperson Waseem Sayed at 909-636-4397 or visit  
About the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, reformist and fast-growing international movement within Islam. Founded in 1889, the Community spans more than 195 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, established in 1920, is the first American-Muslim organization.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organization to believe that the long-awaited messiah has come in the person of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India. Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. Ahmad’s advent has brought about an unprecedented era of Islamic revival and moderation. He divested Muslims of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is also the only Islamic organization to endorse a separation of mosque and state. More than a century ago, Ahmad taught his followers to protect the sanctity of both religion and government by staying loyal to one’s homeland. He cautioned against irrational interpretations of Quranic pronouncements and misapplications of Islamic law. He continually voiced his concerns over protecting the rights of God’s creatures. Today, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community continues to be an advocate for universal human rights. It champions the empowerment and education of women. Its members are among the most law-abiding, educated, and engaged Muslims in the world.

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 YouTube - Video 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Holiness of Burning, Burning Hate

Posted by Ramona's Voices  on Thursday, August 19, 2010.

The city of Gainesville has denied Dove World Outreach Center’s application for a burn permit to set fire to copies of the Quran on Sept. 11, but the church plans to burn the holy books anyway.
The Gainesville Sun, 8/18/10

So let me get this straight:  A "church" called Dove World Outreach Center, 50 members strong,  followers by their own admission of the Christian bible, reaches out to another faith by threatening to burn their sacred book.  Is that the way it looks to you, too?

Dove World calls itself a "New Testament" church, but quotes lavishly from--surprise!--Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Their calling--given to them by God, according to them--is to denounce both the Quran and Homosexuality.  It's a big job but they're a feisty bunch.  No sitting on their hands in that "church".  They have signs:

 They have tee shirts:

They have FaceBook:   (Sorry, couldn't stay.  My hair can only stand on end for so long.)

But their website is where it's at:  In a blog titled "No Homo Mayor Protest",  Fran Ingram seems to want to make the  rant about those "homosexual sinners", but inexplicably cites a quote from Exodus first: Exodus 20:14 (New International Version)14 "You shall not commit adultery"

Then she goes on to cite Leviticus 20:10-17 as proof that homosexuality is a sin.  There is, yes,  mention of men with men in one of those eight verses, but there's a whole lot of killing required for men and women together, for all kinds of abominations, including adultery.  Death to adulterers!  (Which may explain that measly Dove World Outreach Center membership of only fifty.)

The seeming head blogger, Fran Ingram, wrote another blog called "Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran".  It explains all.

Reason #1:  The Koran teaches that Jesus Christ, the Crucified, Risen Son of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords was NOT the Son of God, nor was he crucified (a well documented historical fact that ONLY Islam denies).  (!!)

#2:  The Koran does not have an eternal origin. It is not recorded in heaven. The Almighty God, Creator of the World, is NOT it's source. It is not holy. It's writings are human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings.(Oh, my.  How to break it to Fran that the Christian bible's writings are also "human in origin, a concoction of old and new teachings"?  How to tell her that the reason she's using "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" is because the Brits came up with the "King James Version" of the bible long, long  after Christ was no longer of this earth, Anglifying it to suit their anal-retentive, misogynistic, royalty-revering needs?)

#3:  The Koran's teaching includes Arabian idolatry, paganism, rites and rituals.  (Depends on what you mean by "paganism".  As for idolatry, rites and rituals--We kneel, we stand, we chant, we cross our hearts, we sprinkle water on heads of young and old alike, we hang Christ on a Crucifix in our living rooms and over our beds, we touch the hem of Virgin Mary statues, we devote entire catalogs to Christian lucky charms. . .)

#4:  The earliest writings that are known to exist about the Prophet Mohammad were recorded 120 years after his death. All of the Islamic writings (the Koran and the Hadith, the biographies, the traditions and histories) are confused, contradictory and inconsistent. Maybe Mohammad never existed. We have no conclusive account about what he said or did.  (Oh, boy.  See #2 above.  Or better yet, read the Christian bible.)

#5:  Mohammad's life and message cannot be respected. The first Meccan period of his leadership seems to have been religiously motivated and a search for the truth. But in the second Medina period he was "corrupted by power and worldly ambitions."  (Uh huh.  Hmmm.  Sounds a lot like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, Paul Crouch, Ted Haggard, Jim and Tammy, George Rekers and a whole lot of supposed "Christian leaders".  Of course, they aren't deities.  At least not to the rest of us.)

#6:  Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature. There is no separation of church and state. It is irrational. It is supposedly immutable and cannot be changed. It must be accepted without criticism.  (Sounds like a Christian Right wet dream.)

#7:  Islam is not compatible with democracy and human rights. The notion of a moral individual capable of making decisions and taking responsibility for them does not exist in Islam. The attitude towards women in Islam as inferior possessions of men has led to countless cases of mistreatment and abuse for which Moslem men receive little or no punishment, and in many cases are encouraged to commit such acts, and are even praised for them. This is a direct fruit of the teachings of the Koran.  (So the Koran is based on Leviticus and Deuteronomy? And this is a bad thing?)

#8:  A Muslim does not have the right to change his religion. Apostasy is punishable by death.  (That death thing is pretty harsh (a big thing in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, by the way.)  Burning in Hell for non-believers is pretty harsh, too.  But how does the bible feel about liars?)

#9:  Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West. (You want to see irrational fear and loathing--look first to the Old Testament, then follow that line to the Religious Right.  You could start with the Dove World Outreach Center.)

#10:  Islam is a weapon of Arab imperialism and Islamic colonialism. Wherever Islam has or gains political power, Christians, Jews and all non-Moslems receive persecution, discrimination, are forced to convert. There are massacres and churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship are destroyed.   ("The Qur'an states: '...There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is here forth distinct from error...”[2:256]
In the light of the above verse, a person has to be insane to belief that Islam prescribes execution for apostasy.
The Qur'an further states:
' Say (Muhammad it is) truth from Lord of all. Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, LET him disbelieve.' [18:29]
In no uncertain terms, Allah commands Prophet to allow people to believe and disbelieve. If the Shariah recommends to kill an apostate, this law cannot be Islamic because it contradicts the above two verses."

 Okay. now let's have a look at Deuteronomy 7:1:  “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. [1] You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire."

So out of those 10 reasons there are NO reasons for burning the Quran.  But that won't stop them, any more than a plea for common sense will stop them from attacking "homos".  They are on a mission to avenge their version of God, and common sense is a big, fat loser.

But wait. . .happily, there's more:  Apparently their God is no match for the city, the bank and the insurance company.

An email to the Dove World Outreach Center flock:

DOVE WORLD OUTREACH CENTER needs your support! 

City of Gainesville denies burn permit – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

RBC Bank calls in mortgage – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

Cottons All-Lines cancels insurance – BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS

We will proceed with the Koran Burning Event, Saturday 9/11, 6-9pm, as planned. 

RBC Bank called in our mortgage with a limited time to pay it off. Now Cottons All-lines Insurance has also cancelled our commercial insurance on our property putting our mortgage in immediate default. We need to raise the $140,000 to pay off the RBC loan immediately.

Oh my God.  Could it GET any better?  Yes, it could.  The IRS could take one look at that web page and decide that using the words "God" and "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" doesn't make them a church.  (Dove World was accused in 2009 of selling used furniture for profit on eBay, using volunteer help from church members, including Dove World Academy students, who are not allowed outside contact even for weddings and funerals.  I'm looking for the outcome.  Haven't found it yet.  Dove World leader Terry Jones says he does pay taxes on TS Company, their eBay furniture company, but won't say how much.  Read the linked article above for the full story.)  

The only time any of the phony "churches" believe in separation of church and state is when they can get around having to pay taxes. A "church" only has to prove 51% usage in order to get full tax exemption.  Pretty good, huh?  That means they can claim outside profits of up to 49% of their income and still not have to pay taxes.

The unfortunate truth is that God's hate pays way more than God's love.  Wonder if there's a bible quote for that.


Burning Scripture: An Act of Hatred, Not Harmony

His Holiness Khalifatul Masih V, Mirza Masroor Ahmad

Burning the Holy Qur'an would be a most provocative act and would achieve nothing but cause distress and anger to millions of peace-loving people worldwide. We believe that burning any religious scripture is directly contrary to the teachings of not just Christianity, but of all of the world's major religions.
Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10) 
Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another...(Ephesians 4:32)
Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. (Proverbs 20:22) 
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:17-18)
The Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has said that religious extremism of all kinds must be eradicated:
Religious extremism, be it Christian extremism, Muslim extremism or any other kind is never a true reflection of the religion. Indeed a number of churches have condemned this act. There is nothing wrong with intellectual or theological debate but this should be conducted within the bounds of decency and tolerance. Instead what we are seeing is hatred being spread.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has always expressed deep concern that some so-called Muslims have tarnished Islam's name with their cruel and hate-filled acts. Those who perpetrate such acts fail to realize the true teachings of Islam. The Holy Qur'an was sent as a gift to mankind, and its teachings are filled with love. tolerance and respect. It is through such attributes that we can achieve peace, an objective that His Holiness has repeatedly emphasized:
The world needs peace, love and brotherhood. The world needs an end to wars, Instead of walls of hatred being erected we need peace to prevail and for this to occur people of all faiths must join together. As I said there is nothing wrong with debates but they should take place in a peaceful and respectful environment.
We would like to reiterate that Islam categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any cover or justification for any act of violence, whether committed by an individual, a group or a government. According to Islam, no religion can sanction violence and bloodshed of innocent men, women and children in the name of God, since all religions came from God Who sent His prophets to create peace.

The Holy Qur'an champions the sanctity of life:
...whosoever killed a person - unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land - it shall be as if he killed all mankind; and whoso gave life to one, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind. (5:33) [Translated by Maulawi Sher Ali]
This verse leaves no doubt that in Islam there is no justification whatsoever for terrorism.

We invite the world to open a civilized dialog and to study Islam firsthand in light of its true teachings and in light of a community that reflects its most peaceful message.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community champions "Love for All, Hatred for None" - a peaceful and inclusive motto that extends to our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters and indeed all of God's creation.

We hope that by engaging in civilized dialog we can build bridges, remove misunderstandings about Islam and Christianity and lead the way together to create a more peaceful and harmonious society.

All Biblical references are from the King James Version.

This article is authored by Navida Sayed

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is Burning Scriptures A Biblical Teaching?

On the ninth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Dove World Outreach Center is planning to hold a "Burn a Koran Day," citing Islam as an evil religion and claiming that "Islam is of the devil." The Center is defending its plans with a Biblical reference from The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 19, verse 19.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:11-20)
This is the only such incident of "book burning" recorded in the New Testament. However, for verse 19:19 to be used in support of Christians gathering together to burn the scriptures of other faiths publicly is not logical and is unsupported by any other Christian teaching. The scrolls that are burnt in this verse are burnt by their owners themselves, the implication being that they are aware that what is contained within is not truthful and they fear being disgraced as those as those who has been using Jesus' name to drive out demons were disgraced. They openly confess their actions and then burn the scrolls to show they are putting an end to such practices in the future.

This is a completely different scenario from the one being presented by the Dove Center to justify burning the Qur'an. In fact burning a Holy book of believers of another faith was not and could not have been the teaching of Jesus, who taught love, compassion and forgiveness:
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:9-10)
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sendeth rain on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-45) 
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1-2)
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)
In light of these clear teachings, we urge the Dove World Outreach Center to reflect upon the peaceful message of Jesus (peace be upon him) which is clearly a message of peace, not hatred.

Love for All, Hatred for None

All Biblical references are from the King James Version

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community condemns in the strongest terms reports that the Dove World Outreach Center, based in the United States, is planning to burn copies of the Holy Qur’an on 11 September. This would be a most provocative act and would achieve nothing but to cause distress and anger to millions of peace loving persons worldwide. Burning any religious scripture is a horrific act and is directly contrary to the teachings of all the world’s major religions.

Speaking about this issue from London, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said that religious extremism of all kinds had to be eradicated. He said:

“Religious extremism, be it Christian extremism, Muslim extremism or any other kind is never a true reflection of the religion. Indeed a number of churches have condemned this act. There is nothing wrong with intellectual or theological debate but this should be conducted within the bounds of decency and tolerance. Instead what we are seeing is hatred being spread.”

It is most unfortunate that some so called Muslims have tarnished Islam’s name with their cruel and hate filled acts. Those who perpetrate such acts fail to realise the true teachings of Islam. The Holy Quran was sent as a gift to mankind and its teachings are filled with love, tolerance and respect. However the evil acts of the extremist minority have led to a belief that it teaches hatred, killing and intolerance.

His Holiness continued:

“The world needs peace, love and brotherhood. The world needs an end to wars. Instead of walls of hatred being erected we need peace to prevail and for this to occur people of all faiths must join together. As I said there is nothing wrong with debates but they should take place in a peaceful and respectful environment.”

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad also spoke with regret of the killings of two innocent Ahmadi Muslims in Sindh Province earlier this week. Dr Najam al-Hasan and Pir Habib-ur-Rehman were both martyred due to their faith. Thus the number of Ahmadi Muslims killed in Pakistan so far this year is 95.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community expresses its hope that the Dove World Outreach Center withdraws its plans to burn copies of the Holy Qur’an. If they fail to do so then it is hoped that such an act is not allowed to take place by local authorities.

If however the event does take place the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will conduct its protest in a peaceful and law abiding manner. Fanaticism should not be responded to in a like manner but instead in a reasoned and peaceful way.
Further Information:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Stand-up and Preserve Freedom of Religion

A police officer shows guns and ammunition recovered from Taliban insurgents
who storm Ahmadiyya mosque and massacred 86 worshipers. - Photo by AP
Muslim fundamentalist elements of Pakistan were so threated by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community's message of 'Love for All Hatred for None' that they brutally massacred 86 worshipers during Friday Prayer services May 28, 2010, at two mosques in Lahore. 

The attacks are the culmination of years of un-policed persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is a minority sect in Pakistan. In 1974 government legislation was passed that declared Ahmadiyya Muslims to be 'non-Muslim' and in 1984 further legislation was passed in which the practice of their faith was outlawed. At regular intervals since then Ahmadiyya Muslims have been attacked, but the May 28th massacre is the most cruel and barbaric.  The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who are based in 195 countries, are peace loving and tolerant people and yet they are continually targeted by extremist factions.   

In America, the opium of religious intolerance has once again addicted her right-wing Christian fundamentalist elements. Their irrational attacks on American Muslims by the GOP's leadership not only runs counter to the American ideal of religious tolerance, but poses a threat to our national security. Rants by the GOP leadership have instigated a fire storm of hatred, fear and religious bigotry from the likes of Joe, the Plumber to Mary, the Cashier. This xenophobic behavior reinforces the perception that the U.S. is obsessively anti-mosque, anti-Muslim, and anti-Islam

Christian Fundamentalism is to America what the Muslim Fundamentalist is to Pakistan. Muslim Fundamentalist in Pakistan spawned the Taliban insurgents, which massacred 86 Ahmadiyya Muslims in a fit of religious intolerance. Likewise, in America, the day will not be far off when the flames of religious intolerance incite individuals and groups of Christian zealots to murder in the name of God unless people speak out and act out against Islamophobia

America is a multicultural society; Its religious landscape is diverse and the people are encouraged to exhibit the will to frame America's future in the light of its founding principles. The principles that support freedom of religion are more relevant now than ever. The notion that America is a Christian centered nation, when viewed in the light of its religious diversity, is the thinking of theorist. In practice America strives when it rises to meet the standards of its founding principles. Its greatness rest on its ability to shape a future where its citizens have freedom of religion. We must "try real hard to understand that bumping into your neighbor’s customs and faith ought to bring you a sense of warmth, curiosity, and compassion—not fear, not revenge ..." 

Above it all we don't want America to be reduced to a Pakistan. Pakistan, a country founded on noble principles, but after 60 years its government has made it a capital crime for its religious minorities to practice their religion. 

In the words of Rabia Munawar Mir, contributing writer for the Muslim Sunrise magazine, "Pakistan is a nation in turmoil. It is a nation condemned by the international community for harboring extremists in its borders. It is a nation condemned by its citizens for being unable to provide basic public security services. It is a nation condemned by democratic standards wherein a running candidate's assassination becomes a rouse for giving power to her poorly educated husband. It is a nation condemned by human rights groups that constantly scream "wolf" loud and clear and without the fear of threat to their own lives. And though every time there is a wolf, they go unheard, ignored, their voices suppressed beneath a deluge of political excuses and administrative flaws" (Muslim Sunrise, Fall 2010, page 13). 

We can not just standby and watch this happen to America. Every American citizen has the responsibility to preserve our religious freedom and our collective dignity as a nation. 

Freedom of Religion Means Any Religion 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shameless Schemers like Sarah Palin, the Tea Partiers and Right-Wing Christians Trying to Start a New Religious War Against Muslims CounterPunch / By David Rosen


The building of a Muslim community center two blocks from the site of the WTC has become the latest controversy in America's long fought religious wars.
August 15, 2010 

     Baitul Hafeez  Masjid,  ST. Louis, MO

The building of a Muslim community center in an abandoned building two blocks from the site of New York’s former World Trade Center has become the latest controversy in America’s long fought religious wars. The construction of the center, often referred to as a mosque, has become the latest rallying issue for the Christian right, Tea Party proponents and Republican operatives in their war to impose moralistic and corporatist values on America.

It is too early to know how the Muslim center issue will be resolved, but it is clear that the rantings of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Abe Foxman (of the Anti-Defamation League) and others have played an important role pushing a local issue into the center-stage of national politics. Since the horrendous attacks of 9/11, Muslims in general and American Muslims in particular have been the targets of an undeclared religious war promoted by Christian fundamentalists and self-serving Republicans. For some among these religious zealots, Islam is a threat to their belief that the U.S. is a white Protestant nation. Over the last four centuries, Quakers, Mormons, Catholics, Jews and many others have been targets of religious persecution, often the victims of imprisonments, hangings, lynchings and other acts of violence.
Rightwing ranters might well not know the history of religious intolerance in America, but they are surely aware that they are fueling a deep-seated rage among a certain scary segment of the Christian populous. This round in the ongoing religious culture wars has yet to explode into the ugly violence that took place in the aftermath of 9/11, and one can only hope that the current controversy will not lead to attacks on Muslims.
Sadly, like the attacks that followed 9/11, rightwing ranters like Palin and Gingrich will act “shocked” by the violence if it occurs and will claim innocence as to their roles fomenting it. With a knowing sneer, they will wash their hands of the blood they have caused and seek out other innocent victims.
* * *
In an excellent article on Tomdispatch, Stephen Salisbury details the current Manhattan Muslim center controversy and the spreading anti-Muslim hysteria being whipped up around the country over the opening of new local mosques. As Salisbury opines, “The angry ‘debate’ over whether the building should exist has a kind of glitch-in-the-Matrix feel to it, leaving in its wake an aura of something-very-bad-about-to-happen.” [, August 11, 2010]
Salisbury discusses the ongoing protests against mosques also taking place in New York’s Brooklyn and Staten Island as well as in California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He connects these controversies to the headline-grabbing opportunist comments by Palin (in true Palin-speak, “peaceful Muslims” need to “refudiate” the center) and Gingrich (who calls on Saudi Arabia to open churches and synagogues).
He also draws attention to the pernicious role played by Rick Lazio, New York State Republican gubernatorial candidate, who assails the center as subverting the right of New Yorkers “to feel safe and be safe.” Because New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Attorney General (and likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Andrew Cuomo have come out in support of the Muslim center, it will like be a major issue in the November election.
Most importantly, Salisbury provides an invaluable overview of the anti-Muslim campaign that arose in the wake of 9/11, reminding readers just how alarmingly vicious good-old Christian love can be.
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Part of the “glitch-in-the-Matrix feel” that Salisbury notes is the absence of a recognition that the current Muslin center controversy is part of a long history of religious intolerance in America.
In the days following the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush, a born-again Christian, in a spontaneous and unscripted statement blurted out the unspoken truth that guided the U.S.’s initial military counter-attack campaign in Afghanistan: "This crusade," he said, "this war on terrorism." While Bush’s admission was later repudiated and disappeared from the public discourse, it define the unstated goal of the ultra-reactionary Christians who were his core-constituency and knew full well what he meant.
At the heart of Bush’s crusade agenda was an invocation of the "shock and awe" tradition that defined religious wars since the grand crusades of the Middle Ages and an acknowledgement that they needed to be applied in Afghanistan. The grand crusades waged by the Roman Church were against Muslims and Jews to capture and hold ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Lands, and to defeat Orthodox or Eastern Christianity. Many perished. Similar, crusaders were waged against Christian heretics, including early Protestants, and done so in the name of their absolutist god.
This tradition was brought over to the New World with the Pilgrims and other early British settlers. The worst and most sustained form of religious war in America has been waged against the Native people. For all the annual whitewashing that takes place at Thanksgiving Day parades, early Puritans fought the Pequot Indians in Eastern Connecticut until 1637 when the General Courts of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colony launched a war of extermination against them. (Native people found that the Pilgrims stunk, literally; Europeans rarely bathed, believing it unhealthy, and seldom were naked, believing it immoral.) The white Christian race and religious crusade against Native North American people persisted for centuries.
Pilgrims also imposed religious intolerance on themselves. Early Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers were aligned with the Church of England and looked badly upon those who contested their orthodoxy. Those challenging Calvinist dogma were subject to banishment, whipping, branding, ear-lobbing and even hanging. Early leaders like Thomas Hooker, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were banished. Early Quaker settlers in Plymouth were also banished and four were hung publicly.
Over the subsequent centuries, Americans have witnessed repeated bouts of religious intolerance. Not surprisingly, these episodes were often accompanied by the same shrill rhetoric we find shouted today by those opposing the Muslim center.
The Know Nothing movement grew out of the Second Great Awakening or the Great Revival of the 1830s and became the American Party that flourished during the late-‘40s and early-‘50s. It got its name when members where asked the party’s positions and simply said, "I know nothing." It drew together Protestants who felt threatened by the rapid increase in European immigrants and, most especially, Catholics, flooding the cities. It felt that Catholics, as followers of the Pope, were not loyal Americans and were going to take over the country. It had strong support in the North that witnessed large-scale Irish immigration after 1848. The American Party captured the Massachusetts legislature in 1854 and, in 1856, backed Millard Fillmore for president, who secured nearly 1 million votes, a quarter of all votes cast.
The Ku Klux Klan was established in 1866 and, during Reconstruction, began a systematic campaign against freed African Americans. However, by the ‘80s, it had lost its way as a racialist organization. It was revitalized in the wake of the Atlanta trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman who had been falsely charged and convicted of murdering Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old white Christian girl, in 1913. In 1915, after the Georgia governor commuted his sentence, Frank was forcibly removed from the state penitentiary where he was being held by a mob of white Christians and lynched. Subsequently, many of those who participated in Frank’s murder came together to re-launch the Klan.
In the late-‘10s, the Klan aligned with nativists, eugenicists and the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) to not only promote temperance but racialist and anti-immigrant policies. As WWI hysteria mounted, ASL’s New York representative, William Anderson, equated being pro-German with being anti-American: German beer, saloons and breweries were the unnamed enemy. He had a deep antipathy toward Catholics, accusing the Church of mounting an “assault on law and order,” of opposing Prohibition because it was promoted by Protestants and accusing it of engaging in “efforts to destroy [the Prohibition] victory and bring back the saloons.” Anti-Catholic antipathy contributed to the defeat of the country’s first Catholic nominee, Al Smith’s, in the 1928 presidential election.
Many other episodes of religious intolerance have taken place since the ‘20s. However, John Kennedy’s 1960 presidential victory marked the moment in American history when anti-Catholic appeals in national election were no longer acceptable. Similarly, the growing acceptance among Christian evangelicals of the notion of the “last days” has lead to a weird embrace of Jews and Israel and may have contributed to a moderation in anti-Semitism.
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In the days before 9/11, most informed people accepted Islam as a variant within the Abrahamic tradition. However, in the aftermath of the attacks, even this claim came under suspicion. Earlier this summer, Ron Ramsey, a Republican candidate for governor of Tennessee, claimed that Islam is a “cult” that did not deserve First Amendment protection: “You can even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, a way of life, or a cult -- whatever you want to call it... .” Challenged by a diverse assortment of Tennesseans, including traditional conservatives, Ramsey has backed off this assertion.
If truth be told, the Manhattan Muslim center is both a real issue and a fictitious spectacle. It is real in the sense that its being built at the designated site on Park Place will be a victory for religious tolerance. America is undergoing a profound economic and cultural realignment. Traditional white society is giving way to a truly multi-cultural America; conventional Protestantism is giving way a significant increase in the Catholic populous (mostly Hispanics) and growing Muslim, Hindu and Sekh communities.
The Muslim center story, like that of Michelle Obama’s holiday in Spain, is a false issue, a spectacle promoting social deception. Since Obama’s victory, the Republican right has implemented a very effective wrecking-ball strategy, attempting to destroy every issue considered. Its guiding principle is simple: Obama and the Democrats can do no right. To realize this goal, it did anything and everything in its power to make sure as little as possible got through Congress, got honestly assessed in the media and got to help ordinary Americans. Sadly, the Christian Republican right is succeeding and the Obama leadership remains clueless.
A century-and-a-half ago white Protestants came to accept Irish immigrants as white. While hard to imagine today, early Irish immigrants, those who came to America in the wake of the 1848 famine, were seen by many traditional Protestants as “n------,” not really different from African Americans. Faced with the inevitabilities of post-Civil War modernization, old-world Protestants changed. And with it, racism changed.
The challenge that faces today’s Anglo-American Protestant descendents, those who see Muslims as “n------,” is whether then can change and accept America as a multi-cultural society.