Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is it Bold or Stupid?

So you think your people have been unfairly locked out by the government and the change in administration could be a chance for a fresh start. Does it make sense to tap the former spokesman of a genocidal regime tied to the world's worst terrorists to help make your case?That's the basic question in Patrick Poole's report on Abubaker Ahmed al-Shingieti, president of American Muslims for Constructive Engagement (AMCE). To make matters worse, Poole writes, AMCE includes officials from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), including al-Shingieti. CAIR has been linked through court evidence to a Hamas front operating in the United States during the 1990s. The IIIT remains under federal investigation into possible terror financing.

They all share links to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose American-based members once described their role in this country as "a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers.." Poole notes that Al-Shingieti served as spokesman to Sudan's president at a time the country was slaughtering Christians and serving as a sanctuary for some of the world's worst terrorists:

"Investigating his background we find that despite his recent image makeover as an expert in interfaith relations and reconciliation — a dramatic change from his service as a henchman to a genocidal government — that Abubaker al-Shingieti has not changed his Muslim Brotherhood allegiances in his various transitions, just merely changed employers. Many of his AMCE colleagues have made similar transitions to respectability without distancing themselves from their terrorist ties.

What's a little genocide between friends? Thus we can expect that the agenda al-Shingieti carries in his contacts with the Obama administration will continue to be in service to the Muslim Brotherhood's ‘grand jihad' he has served for the past two decades."

Some very pointed questions must be answered before the AMCE wins so much as a returned telephone call.

By IPT News | Fri, 23 Jan 2009 at 2:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Mounting Assaults on Free Speech

A Dutch appellate court's ruling that anti-immigration lawmaker Geert Wilders can be prosecuted for hate speech is generating a lot of reaction. Wilders, producer of the 15-minute film Fitna, is accused of insulting Muslims in the film and in other statements.

Dallas Morning News editorial writer Rod Dreher calls the prosecution both mind boggling and outrageous:

"I would say that it's outrageous to think that now people in the Netherlands risk criminal prosecution for criticizing religion and religious believers, but I think we all know no atheist is going to be hauled into the dock for criticizing Christians (nor should he be, I underscore). This is all about sacrificing free speech and a vital civil liberty to buy social peace. You don't have to agree with Wilders to grasp the meaning of this, though the Dutch court's action goes a long way toward vindicating Wilders' claim that the Dutch are losing their freedoms and their democracy because of the Muslim presence among them."

The Wall Street Journal distinguishes between speech that threatens and that which merely offends:

"There are of course limits to free speech, such as calls for violence. But one doesn't need to agree with Mr. Wilders to acknowledge that he hasn't crossed that line. Some Muslims say they are outraged by his statements. But if freedom of speech means anything, it means the freedom of controversial speech. Consensus views need no protection."

And Wilders is not alone. In Vienna, a far-right legislator named Susanne Winter was convicted Thursday for hate speech, including her reference to the Prophet Mohamed as a pedophile.

More on Wilders' case been be found here.

By IPT News | Fri, 23 Jan 2009 at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Gaza and Repercussions in the War on Terror

Fear of confrontation with Britain's ever expanding militant Islamist movement is indirectly "undermining the Western defense against the jihad," the invaluable Melanie Phillips writes in this column in the European edition of the Wall Street Journal.

She summarizes a series of violent demonstrations preotesting Israel's war against Hamas and the capitulation by Britain's political leadership against Hamas-instigated violence in the name of a rapid cease fire.

"More serious still, Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell cited as fact the Hamas claim that 300 children had been killed in Gaza, even though Israel has given a much lower figure, and said the Israeli action was ‘disproportionate' and the bombing was ‘indefensible and unacceptable.'

Similarly, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, commenting after this weekend's cease-fire that ‘too many innocent people' had been killed, made no mention of Israel's strenuous attempts to minimize civilian casualties, nor Hamas's responsibility for holding Gaza's civilians hostage.

In fact, the British government has effectively taken the view that Israel should not be allowed to defend itself by military means against the Hamas rockets that ministers have taken care to condemn."

Police did little to quell the demonstrations, which featured frequent attempts to storm the Israeli embassy and attacks on Jewish-owned businesses. Pro-Israel demonstrators were told to stow their Israeli flag, though, because they were "inflammatory." These are ripples in the broader issue of tamping down global jihad, Phillips writes, because jihadists throughout the globe share the same ideological motivation.

As a result, "ministers are intent on appeasing Muslim extremism and intimidation both at home and abroad."

By IPT News | Fri, 23 Jan 2009 at 9:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Confusing, Conflicting Gaza Death Tolls

There's no doubt Israel's offensive against Hamas claimed a lot of lives in Gaza. But exactly how many died is unclear and the portion of civilian casualties is even more unsettled.

Israeli military officials are denying an Italian journalist's claim that no more than 600 people died in the three weeks of fighting. Lorenzo Cremonesi, a correspondent for Italy's Corriere Della Sera, reported that the death toll was inflated after visiting Gaza hospitals and interviewing local Palestinians.

The Israeli military and Palestinian medics each put the death toll at around 1,300 people, so that number seems to be fairly credible. However, Israeli Defense Forces say two-thirds of the dead were Hamas operatives and fighters or members of other terrorist organizations, often dressed in civilian clothing. They are compiling a list of the dead and claim it already contains the names of 750 Hamas members (if so, then a clear majority of the dead) while the Palestinians insist a majority of the dead were civilians.

Hamas claimed fewer than 50 of its people were killed. Those jumping blindly on high-end casualty counts should remember, similar claims have been exposed as wildly off base in the past.

By IPT News | Thu, 22 Jan 2009 at 2:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
ACLU Sues MAS-Run Minneapolis Charter School

A Minneapolis charter school has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues taxpayer money is being used to promote religion, in violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) "advances, endorses, and prefers the Muslim religion over other religions or nonsectarian approaches in connection with school activities and fosters entanglement between government and religion," the lawsuit says. It seeks injunctions forcing the school to correct the violations and to "refund to the state of Minnesota the pro rata portion of student aid TIZA has received for its students."

The school has around 430 students in kindergarten through 8th grade, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. It received $3.8 million in state funding this academic year. Most of the students live in poverty, the lawsuit notes, yet they do score well on standardized tests.

Still, school officials have tried to keep its administrative practices a secret. Administrative handbooks stress "requirement that information about the operations of TIZA be withheld from the public" and threatens to fire violators. That, the suit says, is inconsistent with running a public school.

TIZA is run by officials at the Muslim American Society's (MAS) Minnesota chapter which control the curriculum and land on which the school is based. This creates conflicts of interest for school administrators, the lawsuit says. In addition,

MAS' stated goal "shall be to attain the pleasure of Allah (God)" and identifies its mission as "to present the message of Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims."

Muslim prayer sessions are held during school hours and religious material is posted on classroom bulletin boards, the lawsuit says. Girls adhere to a stricter dress code than boys and women faculty are required to be "covered from neck to wrist and ankle."

The lawsuit describes the school's namesake, ibn Ziyad, as "a Muslim military leader who conquered portions of what is now Spain and Portugal during the eighth century.

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