Shooting Spree at Swiss Islamic Center
ZURICH — A gunman used a military assault rifle to fire on a dozen worshipers at an Islamic centre at the Swiss city of Lausanne late on Monday, injuring one seriously, police said on Tuesday, November 13. “He injured one person seriously before worshipers immobilised him on the ground,” according to a police statement cited by Reuters. The man entered the centre and fired over a dozen rounds toward a prayer room, police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel added.
Islamophobia is widely rampant in the West. Individuals and groups with malicious intents are deliberately distorting the image of Islam and Muslims. Its dangerous implications were realized by the former U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and to confront it, he arranged a seminar in December 2004. A more recent example is the “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” led by the neo-conservative David Horowitz across college campuses in the United States. Because it concerns more than a billion world Muslims, it is crucial to remedy these misrepresentations. Much of the criticism is primarily directed at the Qur’an, the holy scripture of Islam, alleging that it teaches terrorism to the Muslims. Therefore, this article will quote the relevant verses under objection, and discuss them in their correct textual and contextual references. Indeed, the objections are made in complete disregard of Islam and Muslim history initiated by the Qur’an. It is as if Islam came into being yesterday, and these protagonists are awakening the world to its real enemy. Thus obviously there is a political agenda behind this propaganda war. That the superpower America in collaboration with the West should hasten subjugating Muslim populations of the entire world. In essence, it is directed at victimizing the victims of the current war on terrorism. The fact is that one could play havoc with any document by narrowly picking its parts to suit one’s designs. But to be honest, one must look at what follows and what precedes those specific quotations. As well as examine the totality of message.
Racism there and here
Sadly, racism is alive and well in the twenty-first century. Hate, intolerance and prejudice persist in many ‘developed’ countries. Nooses (the ultimate symbols of racism, cruelty and injustice) have been placed in several public locations throughout America by people intent on intimidation. Last year November, comedian and actor Michael Richards (of Seinfeld fame) became unglued when a group of African-Americans heckled him incessantly. He repeatedly referred to them as ‘n–ers’. Last April – without any provocation – Don Imus (host of MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning, CBS’s popular and high-earning show) described the (mostly African-American) Rutgers University female basketball team as, ‘nappy-headed hos’ (kinky-haired whores). And, a few weeks ago Duane “Dog” Chapman’s son released a recording of a tirade in which his father strongly voiced disapproval of the relationship between him and his African-American girlfriend. In it, the ‘Dog’ (a famous bounty-hunter and ‘star’ of A&Es Dog the Bounty Hunter), repeatedly used the word ‘n–ers’. Racial bias was even evident in eminent Nobel laureate, 79-year-old geneticist Dr. James Watson. A few weeks ago he proffered that ‘tests’ suggest that Africans (Black people) are not as intelligent as their White counterparts. Dr. Watson’s so-called ‘tests’ were obviously far too elementary. Intelligence tests cannot be generalised for all populations – results thus obtained will be flawed. Thanks to the vigilance of the media, the influence of African-American caucuses and well-thinking individuals worldwide, all offenders apologised profusely and were duly penalised for their woeful transgressions by way of lost earnings. But racism exists right here in Jamaica – a predominantly Afro-Caribbean country. In the 1980s I booked a room in one of our well-known Ocho Rios hotels with indivi-dually owned apartments. In spite of the booking and confirmation, there was great difficulty finding a room with a functioning air-conditioning unit. I noticed that many apartments were vacant, so, I inquired of the receptionist why she didn’t put me up in one of them. She whispered, ‘The owners don’t want any Black people in their apartments’.
Dancing With Desmond: Who cares about a South African cleric’s false charges? Maybe we all should!
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League and the Zionist Organization of America engaged, for what only seems like the umpteenth time, in a tit-for-tat dust-up of duelling quotes between their respective leaders Abraham Foxman and Morton Klein. The focus of their dispute was whether or not it was a good idea for Jews to advocate against an invitation to South African cleric Desmond Tutu to speak at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Tutu was invited and then disinvited after some local Jews, citing the ZOA’s research on the Anglican archbishop, protested. Then, after the ADL weighed in against the protest, Tutu was reinvited. The debate hinged on whether a ZOA press release which focused on Tutu’s history of anti-Israel statements, was accurate. A Jewish Telegraphic Agency story reported that the most damning quote cited by ZOA from a 2002 speech given in Boston was an inaccurate summary rather than a direct quote as claimed. But a subsequent release from ZOA with more quotes from Tutu made it appear as if the substance of their original missive might have actually been correct. In the end, a comment to a JTA reporter by Klein that made it seem as if he didn’t care about the accuracy of his research so long as his intended targets were bad guys was the worst mistake ZOA made. That got Klein a lot of bad press, but it left me wondering why anyone should care about anything the 76-year-old Tutu says, let alone at a school in Minnesota that I (and probably most of you) had never heard of before this. Tutu may be a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize but other than that dubious honor (which puts him in decidedly mixed company), what has Tutu done other than give speeches for the last 20 years?
Whites’ Great Hope?
As he campaigns across the country, Sen. Obama, the son of a black father and a white mother, is both revealing and tapping into a changed racial landscape, especially among younger whites. After decades of often bitter polarization and racial tension on issues ranging from the spread of civil rights to affirmative action, many whites say they are drawn to Sen. Obama precisely because they think his mixed-race background reflects America’s increasingly diverse population and projects a more optimistic vision of the country’s racial future. Sen. Obama’s candidacy, whether it succeeds or not, appears to mark a turning point in race and politics in America: It is prompting significant numbers of white Americans to consider voting for him not despite his racial background, but because of it.
- Obama on verge of breakthrough by carving path along racial divide
Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has made his place in the history books as an inspirational orator who has become a serious African American candidate for president from a major party – but now, he is approaching what could be his biggest moment of truth. Political observers say Obama’s future will depend on whether he can make the jump from being a distinguished presidential contender to what some have called the Tiger Woods of American politics – an African American who can cross the racial divide and inspire people of all races as the party’s nominee.
Muslim Singer With a Country Twang
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ask Kareem Salama, billed as the first Muslim country-western singer, what makes his music “country,” and he grins for about half a beat before answering, “Probably my accent.” It is a full-bore Southern drawl, rooted in his rural Oklahoma childhood, and startling to those who don’t expect an Arabic name to come intertwined with such a distinct down-home voice. But the question hanging over Mr. Salama’s nascent career is whether he can find acceptance for both parts of his identity. After all, country is generally not known for the diversity of its stars, or its aficionados. Country has a flag-waving contingent, which torched Dixie Chicks albums after the singer Natalie Maines criticized President Bush; the singer Toby Keith’s star rose after he released a post-9/11 song about kicking someone in the rear end because “it’s the American way.” Will they be able to get beyond Mr. Salama’s name to his songs?
Danes Elect Parl., Muslims Vote Left
COPENHAGEN — Four million eligible voters were voting on Tuesday, November 13, to elect a new 179-member Danish parliament, with Muslims giving the thumbs-up for Social Democrats and pro-immigrants parties. “I voted for the Social Democrats,” Mansur Abdelaziz, an Iraqi, told IslamOnline.net after casting his ballot. “They are pro-immigrants,” added Abdelaziz who migrated to Denmark 20 years ago. There are four million eligible voters in Denmark. Under Danish laws, immigrants who have spent more than three years in the Scandinavian country are entitled to casting ballot in local and national elections. They are electing 179 members to the parliament from a total of 808 candidates, representing nine parties and 12 independents. There are 23 Muslim candidates contesting the polls, most prominent of whom are Syrian-born MP Naser Khader and hijab-clad Asmaa Abdol-Hamid of the leftist Unity List.
- Muslims have no Church!
Interview…..An-Na’im: Yes, human rights and secularism need political support. If you fail to convince people that secularism and human rights are good for them, and if you do not manage to convince them of this in terms of their own religious beliefs, then you leave the field to the fundamentalists. You then give them the opportunity to mobilise the power of faith for their own political purposes. And, by the way, religion has not disappeared from Europe either! Those values which society chooses to uphold, whether in national institutions, or laws, are all religious values. Is religion to you then the ethical-cultural tradition? An-Na’im: Yes, in one sense. I do not believe that secularism has any ready answers to profound ethical problems. In order to fulfil its function, secularism needs to be ethically minimalist. There are many questions in which it cannot interfere. It can handle the basics about how we can live with and maintain respect for one another. But answers to questions on things like abortion or the right to take one’s own life must be sought elsewhere. For most people, it would be religion that they would turn to. In Europe, the word Sharia is associated with hands being cut off, with stoning or the oppression of women. An-Na’im: First of all, I believe that religion and the state should be separate, institutionally. If one looks at Muslim history, one sees that the two have always been treated as separate entities. The idea that politics and the state go together is postcolonial. In Muslim history, this came about only in the 20th century. Before then an Islamic state, like the one in Iran, was something unknown. What is it then that you mean by Sharia? An-Na’im: The Sharia appears in the Koran in the sense that believers look at the sources of their faith in order to find guidance. The Sharia is not a law. The state cannot decide to make a family law out of it. It would then no longer be the Sharia, but rather the political will of the state……
- ‘And then what?’ A strike on Iran may be one problem too many for Bush
In Washington and in the world at large, fears are growing that the US may mount a pre-emptive military attack on Iran. President George W. Bush recently described the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme in near-apocalyptic terms, warning America’s partners to prevent Tehran from obtaining the bomb if they were “interested in avoiding world war three”. Vice-president Dick Cheney declared, in an echo of his prewar rhetoric on Iraq: “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”New US sanctions on Tehran, tensions between the two countries in Iraq and a New Yorker magazine article alleging that the White House has told the Pentagon to work on plans for an attack have all intensified the air of confrontation. In Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian president, declared last week that Iran was using as many as 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium at its centre in Natanz. If those devices were working smoothly and at full speed – according to inspections and intelligence reports, they still are not – they could produce enough fissile material for a bomb within a year.
- Record prices net Opec $658bn
Crude oil revenues for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are this year set to reach $658bn (€448bn, £315bn), an increase of almost 9 per cent from 2006 levels, as prices reach records and the group starts to reverse last year’s production cuts, according to US government data. The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US energy department, estimates that revenues will increase even further in 2008 to a high of $762bn, a 16 per cent rise from this year, driven by continued strength in oil prices and further output increases.The large increase in oil income this year, a five-fold jump since 1998, is helping Opec’s members, including Iran and Venezuela, to flex their political muscles. The gradual climb towards the symbolic $100-a-barrel level is transforming the domestic economies of producer countries, allowing Opec members to go on spending sprees or launch big development projects. It has also created an assertive group of Middle East sovereign wealth funds that have been seeking high-profile acquisitions beyond their borders. “Opec countries are becoming more powerful,” said Mark Spellman, head of energy practice at Accenture, the consultancy firm.
- L.A. City Council places ‘symbolic’ ban on racial slur
What started as a feel-good discussion on ways to reduce racial bias quickly turned into a freewheeling debate Friday as the Los Angeles City Council voted to declare a “symbolic moratorium” on the use of a common slur against African Americans “in the context of threats and violence.” Voting 11 to 0 on a resolution by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, the council ceremoniously banned the use of the word “nigger” after hearing testimony from lawyer Gloria Allred, a group of civil rights leaders and the owner of the nightclub where “Seinfeld” star Michael Richards used the word repeatedly during a stand-up routine last year. The testimony quickly veered into other territory as several African American audience members addressed the council to argue that the city had not worked hard enough to protect its black residents from gang members of Mexican descent. “This is a false attempt by Councilman Parks to cover up the fact that they have not done anything with the illegal alien gangs who are killing black Americans in South Los Angeles,” said the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. One speaker said he would prefer a moratorium on gang violence and out-of-wedlock births. Another said that in South Los Angeles, “you have one race of people exterminating another race of people.” Parks, who is running for county supervisor, acknowledged that the resolution was symbolic and would not do anything to end the “ills of the world.” Nevertheless, he and his colleagues said the council needed to make a statement about discrimination.
- Crack sentencing needs another fix
Congress probably didn’t set out to pass racially discriminatory laws 20 years ago when it first began clamping down on crack cocaine. The intention was to stem a drug epidemic that was rapidly tearing inner-city neighborhoodsapart — driving gang warfare, splitting families and, it was feared, creating a generation of “crack babies” too hopelessly damaged to ever become productive members of society. The result was federal sentencing guidelines that imposed much harsher terms on dealers in crack than in powder cocaine. Regardless of the intention, those guidelines proved not only discriminatory but ineffective — as well as unjustified by scientific research. More than 80% of those serving time in federal prison on crack charges are African American. This has justifiably fueled distrust and disrespect for the law in black communities. Why should a black crack addict get more time than a white cocaine addict? Especially when research has shown that the two drugs are pharmacologically identical? Moreover, 20 years of harsh crack sentences have done nothing to stem the drug trade. As of Nov. 1, the sentencing disparity has been eased, and Congress did the right thing by allowing the changes to take effect. Today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a panel created by Congress in 1984 to ensure fair terms for those convicted on federal charges, will discuss whether to make the reduction in sentences retroactive — a move that would shave an average of at least two years off the terms of nearly 20,000 inmates. The Justice Department argues that returning all those convicts to the streets represents a potential danger to the community. Perhaps, but then the release of any inmate represents a potential danger; anyone eligible for release has already served ample time for his or her crime. Because the Sentencing Commission has already ruled that the crack guidelines were unfair, it would be inconsistent to keep inmates in prison simply because they were sentenced before the rules were changed. What is unfair now was unfair then.
- In book, FBI agent says Saddam Hussein cried at last meeting
WASHINGTON – After confessing to slaughtering 180,000 Kurds and plotting to build a doomsday nuke, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was so upset when his FBI interrogator left for home that he cried like a baby. FBI Special Agent George Piro whipped out two Cuban Cohibas – Saddam’s favorite cigar – and they smoked on the patio behind his cell at Baghdad’s airport. “When we were saying bye, he started to tear up,” Piro recalled in the new book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack.” The self-effacing G-man was hardly surprised – he had spent nearly a year carefully becoming Saddam’s best friend in a successful ploy to extract confessions from the notorious brute. Piro’s inside account of spending up to seven hours a day, every day, for eight months with Saddam is revealed in the new book by journalist Ronald Kessler. Piro, then 36, began grilling Saddam in early 2004. Instead of bright lights, loud music or waterboarding, the Beirut-born Arabic speaker – who immigrated to the U.S. as a teen – built a rapport with the dictator nabbed in a spider hole. He treated him with respect and took care of his every need.
- Kelly Defends NYPD Shooting Of Teen With Hairbrush
According to neighbors, the incident began when the victim, identified as 18-year-old Khiel Coppin, had a verbal fight with his mother, who then called police. When she called 911, the teen could be heard in the background claiming he had a gun. “I got a gun and I’m gonna shoot you,” Coppin could be heard saying during the call.
That’s when they say he started screaming from the window in his building along Gates Ave. before climbing out and crossing the sidewalk. According to police, he was ordered to stop by police, but refused.