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Archive for the ‘Muhammad Cartoons’ Category

UPDATE: PART 2 is now up. 

Last night I attended the panel discussion, Totalitarian Islam’s Threat to the West, that took place on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. The panel consisted of notable Middle Eastern and Islamic experts, Dr. Yaron Brook, executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute (the organization that hosted the event actually, L.O.G.I.C. hosted the event), Dr. Wafa Sultan, and Dr. Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum and current instructor at Pepperdine University. They were quite a distinguished trio, encompassing vast expertise on the discussed subject from knowledge and experience–sometimes very direct personal experience as seen from their biographies in this post yesterday.

I thought it would be beneficial to post pictures I took at the event so that those who are interested might garner a decent understanding of what one might expect if one were to attend such a gathering in support of individuals, like the panelists, who not only wish to express their viewpoint, but who also wish to practice their freedom to express that view, no matter how controversial it may be.

So, without any further introductory and unnecessary exposition, enjoy the pictures (with some added annoying exposition.)

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A few UCLA police officers enjoy some dinner before the event. The police presence was unsurprisingly fairly large. It appeared there were probably around 20 to 30 officers covering all entrances and exits at the building where the panel discussion was to take place.

Standing in Line

The line to get into the auditorium was long, and it extended quite a ways down the street behind me….

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…as you can see.

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As the line started moving to allow entry, some young Muslims began handing out literature.

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The literature consisted of pamphlets entitled “Exposing Daniel Pipes.” But it did not consist of naked photos. Instead the pamphlet included information about the evil of Dr. Pipes, denouncing his expertise, deeming him a bigot and anti-Muslim propagandist. It goes on to read how his website, Campus Watch was created to restrict free speech by “stifling any criticism of Israel or its policies and by blacklisting any professors who dare not comply. Pipes labeled these academics as ‘advocates of suicide attacks and militant Islam,’ ‘self-hating,’ or ‘anti-American.'”

Of course, anyone who has actually visited Campus Watch knows that claim is absolutely preposterous. From the website…

CAMPUS WATCH, a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds.”

Campus Watch is designed to ensure what the Muslim pamphlet is accusing Dr. Pipes of doing, doesn’t happen–namely biased academia favoring the Arab or Palestinian position over the Israeli one. Having an opinion is fine. Forcing that opinion on impressionable college students without at least offering an opposing rebuttal is disingenuous and unethical. In all actuality, Campus Watch and the Muslim students pushing the “Exposing Daniel Pipes” disinformation leaflet are in general agreement–desiring a need to reduce bias.

Of course, when you have quotes denouncing Pipes from people such as Hamid Dabashi, Josehp Massad, and Rashid Khalidi, it’s apparent how biased those who were handing out the pamphlets really were.

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Before we entered, everyone was subjected to the metal detectors. Security was understandably tight for this event. Such procedures only seemed to increase the tension that was floating through the air.

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More metal detecting.

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Inside the building, but just outside the auditorium, more propaganda, but this time it’s from the event organizers–Ayn Rand literature including free copies of her seminal work, Atlas Shrugged. Personally, I can’t stand Ayn Rand, and I think Objectivism is contradictory and essentially ridiculous.

Anyway, from this point, I found my way to a seat where I settled in until the panelists arrived on stage.

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And here they are! From the left, introducing Dr. Yaron Brook, Dr. Wafa Sultan, Dr. Daniel Pipes, and on the far right, the mediator for the panel.

(From this point forward, the quality of the pictures degrades considerably. The lighting in the auditorium was poor, and when I end up heading back outside, it’s after sundown which makes taking decent images even more difficult. I apologize for the quality or lack-there-of.)

At the beginning of the discussion, each panelist, beginning with Dr. Brook, offered a four minute opening declaration concerning the danger of radical Islam and the threat it presents against the west. For those who have little knowledge of militant Islam, the majority of the nights discussion would likely have been eye opening to say the least.

Those in the audience who were there in dissent were probably steaming after Dr. Brooks comments, and again I could sense the tension, rising even further. It was obvious to me some members of the audience were there merely to disrupt the proceedings, and while I didn’t wish to profile too much (that annoying politically correct side that’s been indoctrinated into my very soul for over three decades), I found myself picking out several individuals who I suspected might be party to a protest were one to ignite–notably several early 20’s hijab-wearing women a few rows behind me who appeared to be of Middle-Eastern descent.

Finally, Dr. Pipes began to speak, touching upon the concept of capitulation through political correctness to Islam (militant or otherwise), particularly on the American university campus and specifically UCLA. It was a powerful beginning, but short-lived. At that point, the protestors began running interference.

UPDATE: PART 2 is now up.

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If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one – if he had the power – would be justified in silencing mankind.
John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

While mostly arising from conservative circles, the multitude of concerns being expressed regarding the hyper-liberalization of colleges and universities seems to rise exponentially on a daily basis.

While I do believe the university should be an institution of free thought, encouraged via the professors and teaching staff, evidence abounds that anything other than politically correct authoritarianism is being discouraged and squelched with extreme prejudice by the very leaders of these institutions who are taxed with ensuring the minds of students remain open and flexible to many ideas and ideals whether those leaders agree with them or not. Pushing one’s own singular vendetta on impressionable minds, while not offering alternatives to one’s personal beliefs is deservingly ignominious.

A tenet such as (x+5)(x-3) = x2+2x-15 isn’t really debatable. It just is. But the free exchange of ideas is being threatened on the campus and in the classroom. According to recent study conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), more than 70 percent of universities and colleges ban protected First Amendment speech. Some go even further.

Michigan State University has been under fire for the creation of their Student Accountability in Community Seminar (SAC) program. SAC exhibits an overtly Orwellian approach to “unacceptable” speech and/or actions by forcing students who participate in such conduct into an “early intervention” or thought reform designed to strip them of their distasteful morals. Students can even have their university account frozen if they refuse to attend a required SAC seminar. Of course, what might be considered worthy of a timeout in the SAC chair is rather abstruse as presented by the MSU program. Needless to say, if it isn’t politically correct, it isn’t protected by the freedom of speech provision in the First Amendment. With SAC, Michigan State University has in essence, and without any reservation what-so-ever, entirely disregarded the First Amendment. This is a particularly heinous policy to support for any higher education institution in the United States.

The Gates of Vienna blog has posted a particularly potent and well-written piece concerning the subject of free speech in the west–on university campuses and in general. The writers’ intent to offend the reader is obvious. This does not in any way overshadow the importance of the message. In fact, the message is stronger in its timeliness because of the offense.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Free to Say What?

by Baron Bodissey

We have freedom of speech in this country, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

We’re free to say anything we like, with notable exceptions carved out after 220 years of jurisprudence — direct incitement to violence and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Free speech must be punishedAnd we are about to add another exception: “hate speech”. A generation of college students has come to maturity under a regime in which free speech most emphatically does not include the right to say anything that might be construed as hateful towards minorities, women, gays, disabled people, animals, trees, etc.

These students are in the revolutionary vanguard of the softened-up, so that by the time Congress slips through a law that actually criminalizes “hate speech”, the constant repetition of the mantra “hate speech is not free speech” will have taken its toll. Everybody will already be used to the idea, will accept it as a given, and, after the required Supreme Court decision, the new, leaner version of the First Amendment will become the law of the land.

If you think I’m being paranoid or overreacting, then you haven’t seen Rep. John Conyers’ proposed kid-gloves-for-the-Koran resolution, H. Res. 288 (the full text is here):

Resolved, That the House of Representatives —

1.   condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
2.   declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
3.   recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
4.   calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.

This is pernicious on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. It asserts that one person’s right to be respected overrides another person’s right to speak freely. It singles out a single religion, Islam, for special treatment. It accords the holy book of the Muslims more respect than is owed the flag of the United States.

This is a CAIR-sponsored Trojan horse, ready to be rolled through the gates into the First Amendment. And its sponsor is about to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When I defend the right to free speech, what am I defending?

The Founders weren’t thinking about the right to print gay porn. When they crafted the First Amendment, they most emphatically intended to protect political speech. A lot of what passed for political speech in those days was insulting, libelous, vicious, and mendacious, but the framers of the Constitution were determined to leave it unrestrained.

But what about today? What words are so dangerous, so foul, so beyond the pale, that the force of law is required to protect them?
– – – – – – – – – –
The example I am about to give is so offensive that I will be in hot water for posting it here, even though I don’t subscribe to it myself, even though I find its appalling and repugnant, even though I would not willingly share the room with someone who uttered it. The amount of trouble I bring down upon myself will illustrate my point.

I’m displaying it here as an image, so as not to be indexed for the obnoxious phrase by the search engines:

READ FURTHER…

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Also, here’s more information on SAC at Michigan State University.

Michigan State University Engaged in Thought Reform

December 14, 2006

FIRE Press Release

EAST LANSING, Mich., December 14, 2006—It may be almost 2007, but it feels more like “1984” at Michigan State University. The university’s Student Accountability in Community Seminar (SAC) forces students whose speech or behavior is deemed unacceptable to undergo ideological reeducation at their own expense. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is challenging Michigan State to dismantle this unconstitutional program, which presents a profound threat to both freedom of speech and freedom of conscience.

“Michigan State’s SAC program is simply one of the most invasive attempts at reeducation that FIRE has ever seen, yet it has been allowed to exist at the university for years,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “As bad as it is to tell citizens in a free society what they can’t say, it is even worse to tell them what they must say. Michigan State’s program is an immoral and unconstitutional program of compelled speech, blatant thought reform, and pseudo-psychology.”

According to the program’s materials, SAC is an “early intervention” for students who use such “power-and-control tactics” as “male/white privilege” and “obfuscation,” which the university cryptically defines as “any action of obscuring, concealing, or changing people’s perceptions that result in your advantage and/or another’s disadvantage.” Students can be required to attend SAC if they demonstrate what a judicial administrator arbitrarily deems aggressive behavior, past examples of which have included slamming a door during an argument or playing a practical joke. Students can also be required to attend SAC for engaging in various types of constitutionally protected speech, including “insulting instructors” or “making sexist, homophobic, or racist remarks at a meeting.” When participation in SAC is required, “non-compliance typically results in a hold being placed on the student’s account,” an action that leaves the student unable to register for classes and thus effectively expelled from the university. Students are required to pay the cost of the SAC sessions.

Once in the program, students are instructed to answer a series of written questionnaires. In their answers, students must specifically describe how they are taking “full responsibility” for their offensive behavior and must do so using language that the director of the session deems acceptable. Most students will be asked to fill out this questionnaire multiple times, slowly inching closer to what administrators deem to be “correct” responses.

In a letter on November 20, 2006 to Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon, FIRE pointed out the stark contradiction between the SAC program and the values of a free society: “[A]t the heart of all concepts relating to freedom of the mind is a recognition of our own limitations—like us, those in power are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and therefore have no right to dictate to others what their deepest personal beliefs must be. Concern for free speech and freedom of conscience is rooted in the wisdom of humility and restraint. The SAC program, which presumes to show students the specific ideological assumptions they need to be better people, crosses the boundary from punishment into invasive and immoral thought reform. We can think of no way in which the SAC program can be maintained consistent with the ideals of a free society.”

FIRE’s letter to President Simon also underscored Michigan State’s legal obligation to abide by the First Amendment. FIRE reminded her of the Supreme Court’s decision in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), a case decided in the midst of World War II that remains the law of the land. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the Court, declared, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

Michigan State has informed FIRE that it will be reviewing the SAC program, but FIRE is calling for nothing less than its total dismantling.

“Michigan State’s SAC program shows a breathtaking lack of respect for individual dignity and autonomy. I urge anyone who cares about the rights of students and the sanctity of private conscience to take a long, hard look at the SAC program’s materials,” Lukianoff said.

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process rights, freedom of expression, and rights of conscience on our campuses. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at Michigan State University and elsewhere can be seen by visiting www.thefire.org.

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The real star of this particular entry is not the USNews and World Report “Culture Clash in Denmark” story, but rather the preceding post by Hugh Fitzgerald, one of the writers who assists in maintaining the Dhimmi Watch blog site (the other writer being controversial Islam scholar, Robert Spencer.)

It is interesting to see how many “officials” in the upper echelons of our government (or most people in America) continue to view the United States as a perspicacious entity detached from the rest of the world–“officials” filled with so much hubris (or stupidity) that we need not overly concern ourselves with something so exotic and incongruous because we tend to view it from our own fixed macrocosm as something manageable (Iraq anyone?) Silvestre Reyes proved that one need not even possess any semblance of intelligence, let alone the needed expertise, on subjects that lie directly in the road of one’s own perceived specialty. Of course, public perception of expertise is often more important than verified proficiency. Why? Because most people either don’t want to know, or they only want to know the viewpoint that coincides with their blindly accepted political belief system.

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Fitzgerald: What they learn — and don’t learn

“There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.” — from this article

The tone of this “senior U.S. offical who follows the phenomenon” is troubling. He appears to think the problem is that of the Europeans, who are “uncomfortable with Islam” — as opposed, perhaps, to Americans, who have such a much more extensive experience with Islam than do the people of Europe? When he says of the Europeans that “they see it as an alien body in their midst,” does he think that is wrong? Does he think it is the fault of those bad old Europeans, or does he think they made a terrible, a colossal, a life-threatening error in their heedlessness about Islam, when they let Muslims in in such numbers?

And does he think that there is a lesson here for the United States? And does he think that perhaps the doctrines of Islam itself might be worth looking into? After all, they uncompromisingly divide the world between Believer and Infidel, and between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb, and preach the doctrine of endless war — not necessarily by open combat, for the money weapon also comes into play, as well as “pen, speech” and Da’wa, and now demographic conquest (discussed endlessly at Muslim sites and in the Muslim media, for everyone is keenly aware of this instrument of conquest in the Camp of Islam, even as they are amazingly unaware of it in the Camp of the Infidels). They view Europe as a land to be taken over, won for Islam, not a place where Muslims are to embrace, in the slightest, the doctrines or beliefs or legal and political and social institutions of permanently inferior Infidels. Does this “senior U.S. official” understand that?

The distant, almost unsympathetic tone, suggests that he does not. And if that is true, he needs a short but intense course in Islam and in the history of Islamic conquest — and not from John Esposito, and not from Karen Armstrong, and not from anyone certified as a “Muslim Sensitivity Trainer” by CAIR.

But the course he would most likely take, or has already taken, would probably be like the one now being given in a Virginia public school. That one is taught by one more useful idiot with the usual nonsense about “finding out about Islam” — and then limiting that finding out to the most obvious and the most innocuous: the rituals of worship that tell non-Muslims nothing about the effect on Muslims of the texts of Islam. Students will get the Shehada (and possibly be asked to recite it), the five daily prayers, the zakat or charity (but only toward fellow Muslims), Ramadan and other dietary rituals. What fun not to eat this, not to eat that! What fun, and how completely worthless as a guide to what Islam is all about, unless the students are told that in Islam everything is regulated, not merely food: including hairdos, wiping yourself, and of course how to speak to Infidels. They’ll also learn about the hajj, with pictures of a million pilgrims as they walk widdershins round the Magic Wonderstone, but no discussion of the Stoning of the Devil and what that is all about.

There will be no real study of the Qur’an, no look at 9.5 or 9.29 or 5.82 or a hundred other key verses. No discussion of why the date of Sura 9 matters (it was either the last or the second to last to be composed). No discussion of “naskh” or abrogation. No discussion of the hadith — why, I’ll bet the poor students in Virginia never find out what the Hadith are, much less will be given a website or two where, to their increasing horror, they can read a few hundred of the most important. Nor will they learn the real details of Muhammad’s life, or his significance as the Main Actor in Islam, far more real to Muslims than distant and whimsical Allah, and a guide, a Perfect Man, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil. None of that.

It will be a guide to nothing and nowhere. Possibly the students will come out radiant that they have “learned all about Islam.” Possibly some self-satisfied parents or some ACLU group or some school committee panjandrums will offer self-congratulations all around for this exercise in “dispelling myths” and “ending stereotypes.”

And a good time, an idiotically good time, will be had by all.

And nothing will have been learned. Nothing.

It will be a worthless course by an ill-informed naif. It should be condemned by everyone. Instead, it is very likely just the kind of thing this “senior U.S. official” has attended.

Photograph by Joachim Ladefoged VII for USN&WR

Friday prayer at the mosque run by Imam Ahmed Abu Laban, who helped spur anti-Denmark protests

Culture Clash in Denmark

The close-knit Danes find their liberal ideals tested by a growing, alienated Muslim population

By Thomas Omestad

Posted Sunday, December 31, 2006

COPENHAGEN–This, a recent study concluded, is the happiest country on Earth. With Denmark’s cradle-to-grave social welfare, highly regarded healthcare and education, prosperity, and small-country ethnic cohesion, the land that gave us Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales also excels at producing a good life in reality.

And yet, over the past year or so, the contented Danes have been forced to face both their greatest international crisis since World War II and the rise here of separate Muslim communities where many are unable or unwilling to enter the Danish mainstream. The international uproar over publication of 12 prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper triggered violence that left at least 139 people dead, Danish diplomatic outposts torched in Lebanon and Syria, and Danish goods boycotted. Suddenly, Denmark felt dangerously exposed–a country of just 5.4 million people facing the wrath of an Islamic world exceeding a billion people.

The violence outside Denmark ultimately quieted down, though the country’s security-threat level remains elevated. At home, the bitter disputes over the cartoons have highlighted an unhealed–and potentially hazardous–rift between the dominant Danes and the Muslim immigrants living in what are being called “parallel societies.” Ask Danes and Muslim immigrants alike, and many will say there is something a bit rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark.

The legacy of the cartoon uproar is not all bad. Private efforts at building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslim Danes have accelerated. Secular Danish Muslims condemned the violence overseas and appealed for dialogue. That, say Danes, has encouraged a greater appreciation of the differences–political and otherwise-among Muslims here.

“Time bomb.” Still, the cartoon crisis itself did not prompt any basic rethinking of how to integrate Muslims more deeply into Danish society. And the country is now preoccupied with things Muslim. Attention is riveted on any controversy linked to its Muslim residents–so-called honor killings of female relatives, street crime, terrorism probes, unemployment, forced marriages, use of veils, and so on. Denmark is pondering the specter of ever more young Muslims–unemployed and undereducated–finding their identities not as coolly secularized Danes but as fervent or even radical Muslims. “We are sitting on a time bomb,” warns Eva Smith, a law professor and racism expert at the University of Copenhagen.

The ferment in Denmark is especially striking because of its progressive traditions, but it also reflects the broader tremors rattling western Europe, where tangled issues of national identity, culture, religion, and security arising from Muslim immigration have bolted to the fore. Old, ethnically grounded societies are being roiled by the presence of Muslim newcomers–or at least by the reaction to them. “There’s kind of an unspoken assumption that they’re not really Dutch, not really Danes, and so forth,” reasons one senior U.S. official who follows the phenomenon. “Europeans are uncomfortable with Islam, and they see it as an alien body in their midst. … Europe’s got a huge problem, and they’re just getting their minds around it now.”

The cartoon controversy, along with frustration over the slow pace of Muslim integration, is leading some Danes to question their prized image as an open and tolerant nation. This, after all, is a people who under Nazi occupation spirited nearly all of their 7,000-some Jews to safety in Sweden. In the 1960s and 1970s, Denmark sought to offer one of Europe’s most liberal immigration policies. Many came as guest workers and were later joined by family members and asylum seekers. Even so, Denmark remained remarkably mono-ethnic; only about 4 percent of the population is Muslim. Coming mostly from Arab states, Iran, and Pakistan, the immigrants have clustered in a few neighborhoods in Copenhagen and other cities.

Yet as the preoccupation with Muslims has deepened in recent years, Denmark has swung in the opposite direction, erecting perhaps Europe’s most restrictive set of rules. A rightist, anti-immigration party sits not in government but at its side; the ruling coalition relies on its votes to govern. The mood toward immigrants has, with exceptions, soured. The share of Danes who view Islam as incompatible with democracy has shot up. And Muslims are often portrayed as troublemakers who sup at the table of Danish generosity–all the while rejecting what makes Denmark special. “They create ghettos. … There are a lot of criminals,” says Henrik Pedersen, a Dane who runs a Copenhagen trucking business. “Muslim people should be in a Muslim country.”

More sophisticated immigration skeptics worry that “Danish values” are under threat by politicized Muslims who resist assimilation. These values include democracy, far-reaching personal freedoms, equality between the sexes, and the trust born of unusually strong social bonds. One government minister frankly called the Danes a “tribe” in describing their group identity. “The whole quality of Danish life stands or falls with this community of values,” adds Ralf Pittelkow, a newspaper columnist and coauthor of a bestselling book on the Islamist challenge. “Danes need to feel reassured that the main features of Danish society remain unchanged. … We are at a crunch point.”

Some Danes argue that evading the impact of immigration is impossible. “Some people want to keep Denmark as a kind of museum,” says Helle Stenum, the chairwoman of MixEurope, a pro-integration group. “We are a rich, safe society that is scared.” Adds Copenhagen schoolteacher Maia Lisa Petersen as she rushes to a subway station, “These other cultures, other values force us to wake up. … We can’t hide anymore in this nice, perfect little Scandinavian world.”

Nor can the Muslim immigrants easily hide in enclaves that insulate them from the culture that surrounds them. They say that the political and media atmosphere has turned against them–particularly since the cartoon crisis. “It totally changed my view of Danish society,” says Mustafa Kucukyild, 26, who came from Turkey as a 1-year-old boy. “The spotlight is on Muslims. I’m much more cautious about what I say.” As the kebab and pizza restaurant where he works fills up with blond-haired college students, he is talking about his estrangement from the Danes. Kucukyild is asked if, having spent nearly all his life here, he feels Danish. “Definitely, no,” he replies. “No matter how much you want to be, you always have this black hair,” he says, grabbing at a lock of his own. “I will always be a foreigner.”

The alienation is pervasive, and it goes well beyond the discomfort some Muslims feel toward Denmark’s permissive atmosphere. “Danish people are very hard people, very cold,” claims Hassan, a middle-aged, Iraqi-born businessman in the Copenhagen district of Norrebro, where Danes often mix with immigrants. Hassan says that his children are adapting better than he is, though his 15-year-old daughter has faced problems in class–a teacher has chided her about her head scarf. Other immigrants report occasional hassles of other sorts: snide comments or being bumped on buses, being barred from nightclubs or followed by department store security officers–or the “what are you doing here?” stares in coffee shops. (Some Danes counter that Muslims are being overly sensitive, playing up an image of victimhood.)

more…

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“Missed opportunity” doesn’t even begin to describe the debacle that the Islamic world has yet again perpetrated in the name of their prophet Muhammad.

Provided to the Muslim faithful, courtesy of the major representation of Christian faith embodied in Catholicism and specifically the Pope, is the perfect occasion to demonstrate to the rest of the planet and particularly the west, how they can truly represent themselves in a civilized manner by taking this opportunity to protest peacefully their chagrin at the perceived slight by Benedict XVI.

Instead, they riot. Muslims throughout the Mideast and southeast Asia have taken to the streets, committed violence against others–particularly Christians. A jihad has already become inevitable according to many radical Islamists, including Al Qaeda.

Perhaps the Pope should have used a little more discernment before reciting the ancient text where from he drew words denouncing Islam and particularly the prophet Muhammad as “evil,” because as expected, the Muslim world has grossly over reacted to an intent that may or may not have even been there in the first place. Even more, a little spiritual discernment probably would have benefited the Pope far more than intellectual discernment. I’m reaching wildly here, but if the Pope would have consulted his boss first, if he would have really thought about the torment that could be caused as a result of his actions, I think he might have approached the subject differently. Did he not recall the anarchy that ensued after political cartoons depicting Muhammad appeared in European newspapers?

Regardless, Muslims have yet again proven their readiness to embrace violence as a means to denounce those who give them slight. It benefits them little, while continuing to alienate their faith and ideals even further to the western world. It makes me sad for them.

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Pope’s apology fails to quell Muslim anger

Mon Sep 18, 1:01 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI’s apology for remarks seen as critical of Islam, have failed to quell anger in the Muslim world as Iraqis burned him in effigy and Al-Qaeda in Iraq vowed to “smash the cross.”

Despite appeals for calm from Islamic and Western leaders, protests were held from Indonesia to Iraq over the pope’s citing of a medieval text last week that criticised some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as “evil and inhuman.”

The leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said he was “deeply sorry” Sunday for the offense caused by his remarks and the Vatican launched a diplomatic offensive to explain to Muslim countries his position on Islam.

A handful of Muslim groups welcomed the 79-year-old pope’s apology but it failed to stem the tide of anger in many Muslim nations.

Mohammed Habib of Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood said they considered the apology a retraction of the pope’s statement, but some Egyptian lawmakers demanded diplomatic ties with the Vatican be suspended.

The powerful All India Muslim Personal Law Board based in the northern city of Lucknow called for an end to protests against the Vatican but demonstrations were held elsewhere.

In Jakarta, some 100 hardliners rallied outside the Holy See’s mission in the Indonesian capital, waving a banner depicting the Vatican as an “axis of Satan.”

Some 150 protestors from a youth party marched through the Pakistani Kashmiri capital Muzaffarabad chanting “Death to Pope” and burned him in effigy.

The pope was also burned in effigy in this southern Iraqi port city where hundreds of Iraqis staged a demonstration on Monday and called for an apology.

The 500 protestors, followers of Ayatollah Mahmud al-Hassani, a mystical Shiite Muslim cleric, also burned German and American flags and called for the pope to be tried in an international court.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq warned in an Internet statement Monday it would wage jihad, or holy war, until the West is defeated.

“We say to the servant of the cross (the pope): wait for defeat… We say to infidels and tyrants: wait for what will afflict you. We continue our jihad,” said the statement attributed to the Mujahedeen consultative council.

“We will smash the cross,” it added, and “conquer Rome.”

Another armed group linked to Al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Sunna (Partisans of the Precepts of the Prophet), denounced the pope as “Satan’s hellhound.”

In Tehran, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei compared the pope’s remarks to caricatures published in a Danish newspaper last year deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons set off deadly protests in the Muslim world.

“The issue of insulting cartoons and remarks of some politicians about Islam are different links in the conspiracy of the crusaders and the pope’s remarks are the latest links in this,” Khamenei said.

In Jordan, a government spokesman said the pope’s apology was a “positive step in the right direction” but “we expect more steps.”

Morroco’s King Mohammed VI, who recalled his ambassador to the Vatican, called on the pontiff to demonstrate his respect for Muslim beliefs. “I’m speaking to you as head of the Catholic Church to ask you to have the same respect for Islam that you vow to other beliefs,” he said.

In the Gulf, newspapers continued to slam the pope with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Yom saying his comments were more than “an ordinary blunder requiring an apology.”

The Vatican sought meanwhile to reach out to Muslims.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone told the Corriere della Sera that Vatican ambassadors had been asked to explain to political and religious authorities in Muslim countries the full text of the pope’s speech, which they said had been taken out of context and “heavily manipulated.”

Other appeals for calm came from the European Commission, which condemned “disproportionate” reaction to the pope’s remarks, and French President Jacques Chirac, who warned against “anything that increases tensions between peoples or religions.”

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