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Archive for the ‘Islamophobia’ Category

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INTRO:

In the past we have had superheroes who flew, who possessed amazing strength, astounding agility, could stretch and duplicate.  Superman, Spiderman, Batman & Captain America were the heroes we read about in comic books, fantasy universes superimposed over our own real world.

Today though, we need a new hero.  One firmly rooted in reality and our world, because our foe is the politician who lives in a fantasy world, a fantasy world that he is trying to impose upon our own.  And, if successful, will usher in a time of pain and suffering upon the innocents, and will wreck this once great country.

His tool for accomplishing this goal?  The lie.  And, thus is born Truth Matters Person.  Unlike most prior superheroes, Truth Matters Person has no set age or sex or gender identity or race or religion.  Truth Matters Person consists of everyday people who look for and do not turn away from truth, and then are not afraid to tell that truth to all.

All of these stories contain only part of the truth, a necessity in order to achieve brevity.  However, at the end of each there will be links to the more complete truth.  Also, all words spoken by Trump in these stories are actual quotes from his tweets and his speeches.

Episode 1:   The Dangerous Hordes of Refugees

2ff1cd0ecda4a9a2b839be9fb4611b56“Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are – some could be ISIS. Is our president insane?”  “Refugees from Syria over 10k plus more coming. Lots young males, poorly vetted.”

No Donald.  The truth of the matter is that we do not take in many refugees at all asian_girl_vol__1_by_animegamer001compared to other countries.  Canada has taken in 32,400 for example.  And this is out of 4.9 million Syrian refugees.

Of those that the United States has taken in, 72% are either women or children under the age of 14.

22868475614_e0f545173a_bBut, but, but the vetting, there is no vetting.   “Altogether, under the Clinton plan, you’d be admitting hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East with no system to vet them…”

I’m glad you brought that up Donald.  The truth of the matter is that we have an extremely asian_girl_vol__1_by_animegamer001thorough vetting system for refugees, more thorough than any other in the world.   It takes on average 18 to 24 months for a refugee to go through this process.

It starts with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees interviewing and checking refugees and deciding which ones should be forwarded to the US as a potential refugee for the United States.  From there, the refugee has to pass numerous interviews from several agencies, their biometric data collected and checked against several security and law enforcement data bases, more interviews, and more checks.  During this process the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department,  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,  Department of State, and the National Counterterrorism Center check their identity and backgrounds against several databases.

The link provided below by Natasha Hall, whose job was to vet these refugees, is an interesting read and highly recommended.  Often those countries that many are claiming do not have enough documentation –  such as Iraq and Syria –  do have more than enough to properly check people out.  And, if there is not enough documentation on a particular candidate, then that person does not get through.

Further, there are medical evaluations done, and towards the end of the process, the refugees have to attend a Cultural Orientation to teach them about practices and customs here in the United States.  By the way, once in, they are not just let loose.  Instead, various different agencies whose purpose is to help the refugee settle in and find jobs meet them and guide them during this initial period.

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c07c45_61a2c43deb564d6fa3857650cbe3858f.jpg_srz_1903_1269_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzWe “are letting tens of thousands of people come in from Syria and nobody knows who these people are and a lot of those people are ISIS.” “We have no idea who we are letting in. You’ve seen what happened.”

 

Donald, a lie does not become truth just because it is repeated.  I have already shown you that we do know who we are letting into our country.  And, the truth is, that we have seenasian_girl_vol__1_by_animegamer001 what has happened by letting these Syrian refugees in.   We save lives, and give people who are suffering and afraid and lost a chance to create a new home.

And despite the claims that these refugees are a burden on our economy, they have proven to be a benefit.  As the PBS article linked to at the bottom notes, they add to the labor market and add needed skills.  As the US News article notes, also linked to at the bottom, while Cleveland spent $4.8 million dollars settling refugees into their area, they wound up creating an economic benefit of $48 million dollars through increased demand for goods and services and because refugees start up new businesses that hire people.

As for the danger they pose, so far there have been no fatal attacks by any Syrian refugee in the United States.  As the Atlantic article notes, also linked to at the bottom,  over the last 40 years the United States has accepted 3.25 million refugees.  Only 20 of them have been convicted of attempting or committing terrorist acts in the United States.  Further, only three Americans have been killed in attacks by refugees, and these were by Cuban refugees during the 1970’s.

Due to our already extreme vetting system, refugees  pose no more danger to you and to the citizens of the US than any other citizen.  In fact, most of the attacks carried out by Muslims in the United States have been by permanent residents or native born citizens who had become radicalized.

The truth is, instead of being afraid of the refugees, we should be welcoming them.  Instead of turning the United States into a Fortress of Solitude and Isolation, we should live up to our reputation of welcoming the weary and embrace our common humanity.  We should be showing the world that we have the courage and decency to act upon our empathy for those in need instead of allowing overwrought fear to cause us to spread hatred and rejection.

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And the Truth Shall Keep Us Free!

To learn more both for personal satisfaction and in order to better spread the truth, check out these links.

On the demographics of the Syrian refugees,

From Migration Policy

http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/syrian-refugees-united-states

From the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

http://www.unhcr.org/en-us

http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

Good article about Syrian refugees by US News

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2016-12-19/countries-hosting-the-highest-proportion-of-syrian-refugees

More information about our refugee vetting system.

Here is the article by Natasha Hall, the former immigration official whose job was to vet refugees.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/02/01/refugees-are-already-vigorously-vetted-i-know-because-i-vetted-them/?utm_term=.304f0cda8b00

From the US Department of State, the graphic at the bottom of the article provides a very good guide to the process.

https://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/admissions/

The New York Times provides a simpler version of the same graphic I mentioned above about the vetting process.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/29/us/refugee-vetting-process.html

And here is an article by a refugee who went through the process.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/i-went-through-americas-extreme-vetting-214703

On the dangers of refugees. 

Here is an Atlantic article about the “dangers’ of refugees.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/01/trump-immigration-ban-terrorism/514361/

And one from CNN on the same subject.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/29/us/refugee-terrorism-trnd/

On the economic impact of refugees,

An article from US News

https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/09/15/would-syrian-refugees-be-an-economic-boon-or-burden

And from PBS

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/whats-the-economic-impact-of-refugees-in-america/

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Daesh, al Qaeda, and other Islamic terrorist groups claim that the United States is waging a war with Islam. That we hate Muslims and that our religious liberties are for Jews and Christians only, not Muslims. That Muslims are a hated and second class citizens, at best, within our borders. These claims are part of how they manage to gain recruits, highlighting our supposed intolerance of Islam and Muslims and casting this as a religious war of self-defense on their part.

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For the most part, we have avoided playing into that scenario of theirs internally. American Muslims are among the most integrated of any countries. However, now we are letting our fears and biases provide an element of truth to the terrorist claims, making their propaganda and recruitment efforts even more effective.

With the rise of hate crimes against Muslims in America, talk of internment camps, registries, and such what do you think would happen to those Muslims who truly do love the US and are proud to be citizens? Imagine if this were to happen to Christians here, what would happen to your loyalty to the US? What if your religion were demonized and reviled, you and your family and friends viewed with suspicion and often outright hatred? What if friends and family who are Christian living outside the United States could no longer visit you?

I know that these proposals are not in place…..yet. But they are being talked about and too many Americans are thinking them a good idea. Along with the fact that too often when mosques are being built they are being protested, that even Islamic cemeteries face an uphill fight to get city government approval to be created, when protesters armed with guns march outside your mosque – how safe would you feel in your own country? American Muslims make up the single largest group providing tips to the FBI on possible terrorist activities. What do you think would happen if that should cease?

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And in foreign affairs, this sort of rhetoric and these actions would be devastating. Our Muslim allies such as Jordan would cease to be allies. Our European allies would, justifiably, revile us. If a small percentage of Muslims based largely in the Middle East and Africa can create this much harm to us, imagine if the percentage were larger – or even to become the majority worldwide?

Carpet bombing Daesh with the huge loss of civilian and innocent life would indeed destroy the military capability of Daesh. But it would also give Daesh a huge propaganda win, feeding life into its Frankenstein creature of an American war on all of Islam. Our allies in the region would turn into our enemies. Muslims worldwide would decry the loss of innocent lives. And, if we made the sands glow, to paraphrase Ted Cruz, even our European allies would denounce us.

The short term destruction of Daesh’s military capability would be hugely offset by the fact that they would have won the propaganda war and would gain millions of new adherents and sympathizers. And take a good look at Paris – does that sort of action really require a country to support it? They can work underground and with the sympathy and help of millions of other Muslims, Muslims that had opposed them before, they can create even greater havoc and chaos more frequently.

This language, these proposals, these possible actions are just what Daesh and the other Islamic terrorist groups want. They want us to act out of fear, to violate our own supposed morals and principles, and create a reality in which more Muslims than ever would flock to their banner. There are many signs that Daesh is having a harder time recruiting Muslims. These actions and this rhetoric can turn that trend around for them. Trump, Cruz, and others as doing exactly what the terrorists want. Far from fighting terrorism, they are helping it.

And the above is just the practical reasons why all of this rhetoric from Trump, Cruz and too many conservatives is harmful. Just as important, in fact even more important, are the moral considerations.

We are holding people accountable for the actions of others due solely to the fact that they belong to the same religion. Not because they helped those responsible for their terrorist acts (the great majority denounce and condemn them). Not because they shared the same exact religion – like Christianity there are many forms of Islam, some good and some evil. Not because they even shared the same nationality or origin. Just because they share the same religion.

This violates all of our principles and morality. Our constitution requires that there be no religious test for office. The same principle should hold true here too – no religious test should be used to condemn a person. Especially not an American citizen.

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This is not the only supposedly American principle this hateful rhetoric and proposed actions violate – innocent until proven guilty comes to mind too. Extreme gun rights people argue, correctly, that law abiding gun owners should not be blamed for the actions of those who use guns to kill (note: I do not intend and will not be drawn into a gun control debate here as that would take attention away from the central message). Yet, they seem to, as a group, to be one of the groups who have a hard time applying this to other situations – law abiding Muslims should not be held accountable for the actions of those who are not.

Our current political climate and the rhetoric and proposals coming mainly from the conservative and Republican side are helping the terrorists. Ironic that. And scary too.

 

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I have a very conservative critic (whose views and thoughts match many of the extreme right) who claims that I always and only criticize whites and Christians. Never Islam, never non-whites.

Not true.

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What my critic does not understand is that when I post blogs about gay marriage and rights, when I post blogs about women’s rights, abortion, and on and on and on, that even though I may be addressing them to Christians it applies to all groups within the United States. And out of the United States even.

I focus on the United States because that is where I and my family live, and where my grandchildren will grow up. I address Christians because they have the numbers and hold the political power and are the main threat to such rights here in the United States. But it applies to all.

When I criticize those who attack Islam here in the United States, what my critic does not understand is that I am protecting their rights as American citizens and in so doing protecting the rights of all Americans. When I point out that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists and are good citizens my critic does not understand that this does not mean that I agree with their views and beliefs.

My defense of Sharia courts in the United States is a good example. I often do not agree on how they may rule in issues of divorce or women’s rights. However, I also do not agree with many of the Jewish and Christian courts that operate within the United States that also rule on these issues based on their beliefs. However, as long as they do not violate US law and the Constitution, then they should be allowed as part of our freedom of religion and of conscience. Defending their right to do so is a very different thing from agreeing with their views. My critic often does not seem to understand that.
What my critic does not understand is that I have criticized Islam before, in different forums and venues.. For example, in one blog about blasphemy I did so.

I will not call Islam evil, which is what I believe my critic wants. I will not because it is not. It can be evil, it can be good. Just like all religions.

What my critic does not understand is that a religion is what its followers make of it. There is enough material both good and evil in all sacred works, enough history both good and evil in all religions that whether a religion is evil or good is dependent upon how its followers put that material together – what they find central in its writings, what they find inspiring in its history. And such creations vary not only between different times, groups, countries, and regions, but even between individuals.

When I discuss motives and causes of terrorism and violence, what my critic does not understand is that I am not excusing such behavior but seeking to understand it so as to come up with the best way to either stop or reduce it. Without understanding good policies cannot be reliably formed and acted upon. Instead harmful actions that may feel good but actually work to make the problem worse happen.

What my critic does not understand is that my comments are tailored to the problem and issue at hand. My critic does not need to understand the deficiencies of Islam or the problems within the black community. What my critic needs is to be reined in as he puts too much emphasis on them – to the point of becoming very misleading – and given some perspective. My critic paints with too broad a brush and holds all Muslims accountable for the actions of a few. My critic sees blacks as almost solely responsible for their own problems and solely responsible for solving them.

What my critic does not understand is that I focus on what I see to be the bigger issue not being addressed. Islam is in no danger of taking over the US and Muslims do not pose a danger of stopping gay rights and such. Therefore I concentrate on the Christians who are.

Black already know and are working on the problems within their community. However, white privilege and the past history of racial injustice also has a large role to play in our current racial problems and needs to be addressed. Without them being addressed true racial equality and justice will never be achieved. Something that many do not acknowledge, and so I address it.

 

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That is why, although I know that there are problems within much of the black community that they need to work on to improve, and that there is much within Islam as practiced by most Muslims that I strongly do not agree with, I do not dwell on those with my critic. It is not needed within the context of our discussion. What is needed is the other side, the one that presents a fuller and thus more accurate picture of reality. And, in so doing, provides a better basis for finding true solutions.
Since my critic has such a hard time understanding all of the above my critic sees me as never criticizing non-whites or Islam, and believes my views to often be cowardly. As I said, not true. I am not afraid of criticizing Muslims and Islam (and have done so), nor am I afraid of guns. However, my views are more shaded and complex than my critics. And thus more in tune with reality.

Of course, I realize that I have mistitled this blog. And knew it from the beginning. This blog will not satisfy my critic as my critic will continue with their simplistic views of reality and how it works, and their view that a hammer as the all purpose tool that will fix all problems. But, that is OK. I am satisfied with my views even as I challenge them and change them as evidence indicates.

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I am both saddened and enraged at the cowardice and lack of humanity being shown by too many Americans today, many of them Republican politicians.

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So much for being the home of the brave when we are too cowardly to provide shelter and protection to those coming to us for help from horror and abuse.

So much for being the land that says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” when we turn away those in need.

And why are we so willing to give up our shared humanity, our ideals, our empathy and what had been considered deep seated beliefs? Two reasons.

First, Paris was attacked by Muslims, and the refugees are Muslim. Never mind that the vast, vast majority of Muslims condemn these terrorists. Never mind that these refugees are also victims of the same people who attacked Paris.

You would think that the victim of our enemies would be considered sympathetically and efforts made to help them. But too many Americans are refusing them, vilifying them and even comparing them to rabid dogs. They want to kick out any Syrian refugees already here and refuse any more. Men, women, and children. No matter that they have nowhere to go and that returning to Syria would result in their deaths.

Second: a Syrian passport found near what remained of a dead terrorist. From that many have made a leap to concluding the terrorists are coming in with the refugees. Never mind that all the other terrorists were French and Belgium, many of them being born and raised in those countries. Never mind that the mastermind was not a refugee and was instead a Belgium, being both born and raised there.

And never mind that the passport was likely faked, and the possible terrorist was not a Syrian refugee, as discussed in this Wall Street Journal article.

And why, one might ask, would a terrorist organization wish to plant a passport to stir up fear and animosity against the refugees. The reason is simple, it is because the vast majority of Muslims are against them and their terrorist tactics. It is because they know that most Muslims do not believe as they do. And so they set it up where we, in our fear and ignorance, will act in such a way so as to push the moderate Muslims into their arms. They want us to do the work of radicalizing the majority of Muslims, and in so doing grow their ranks for them.

And we, cowardly, ignorant, fools that we are, gladly do so. Governors are refusing to house the refugees. Republican Presidential candidates, supposedly bright and moral people of courageous convictions talk of not only not taking more refugees in but sending those we do have away. Others wish to use this as a pretext to take away the rights of some Americans, those who are Muslim. Warrantless searches, making them wear a special ID, refusing to build new mosques or tearing down ones already built. When it comes to Muslims and refugees our fears are turning us into Nazi’s

And in our fear of the terrorist, we wind up helping them recruit new followers. We make their lies about us true.

Religious liberty! Hah! Only for the Jew and Christians. They can live by their laws as they wish. But not the Muslim. The U.S. wants to ban them from doing so.

Religious liberty! Hah! Only for the Jews and Christians. They can build churches and synagogues where they wish. But Muslims trying to build a mosque face protests and refusals. Even the attempt to create a Muslim cemetery resulted in protests and a massive effort to deny them.

A land of hope and opportunity, a haven for those in need. Hah, they turn away hurt and crippled children. Unless they are Christian.

Some talk of the risk that a terrorist may sneak in among the refugees. They say that we need to ensure that the US has a proper vetting process to keep the terrorists out. This includes all manner of politicians and presidential candidates.

Ignorant fools.

Our vetting process already takes 18 to 24 months. As this Atlantic Monthly article discusses, this includes background checks by the UN Commission for Refugees as well as background checks by every intelligence and security agency the U.S. has – Department of Homeland Security, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Defense Department and others. In addition to these background checks these refugees face multiple interviews as well as a physical exam. This is the most secure and thorough vetting process we have.

The result of this vetting? Of the 784,000 refugees that the U.S. has accepted since September 11, 2001 only three people have been arrested for terrorist activities. “None of them were close to executing an attack inside the U.S., and two of the men were caught trying to leave the country to join terrorist groups overseas.”

So I call bullshit on all of those governors and Republican presidential candidates who say we need to examine and modify our vetting process, that we don’t have one. They are in the position to know better and should. They are using the politics of fear to gain power.

As for those who are buying into that fear and hatred – get informed. Don’t stay so ignorant – it is a disease that can be cured. Do not let your fears and bias keep you blind.

People such as the Syrian refugees are why we have a refugee program, so that we can live up to the words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Words that we have a dismal history of failing to live up to, but one that I hope we will someday.

So despite our ideals, despite our extensive and successful vetting, despite the desperate need we say, “No, never mind all of that. We reject you, we deny our shared common humanity, we deny our own stated ideals and values. We are instead afraid of you, of refugees such as the family whose five year old daughter lost a leg in the violence in Syria and whose 11 year old son lost two fingers. No, we quiver in fear and turn a blind eye to you and with a cold and hardened heart turn you away, reject you. Just as we have done other refugees in the past.”

And in so doing, in so saying, we provide immeasurable help to the enemy, the violent Islamic extremists.

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Unlike France which has announced that even after the attacks they are not only still committed to taking in 20,000 refugees but will now take in 30,000 Americans seemingly have no moral courage and empathy for those in need.

Fools. Cowardly fools.

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I get several newsletters from organizations that I normally disagree with.  I do so in order to make sure  that I have not missed anything in regards to evidence or reasonings that would change my mind.   Most of the time they don’t, but they do provide interesting, entertaining, frustrating, and annoying readings at times – often at the same time.   Not to mention the feeling of smug superiority that I often in reading their material (plan to work on that little fault of mine someday) 

This particular one that I am about to go over was sent to me by the Middle East Forum – a conservative American think tank founded by Daniel Pipes that “promotes American interests in the Middle East and protects Western values from Middle Eastern threats”.

A week ago they sent me an article by Raymond Ibrahim that was published in FrontPageMagazine.com titled “The Pentagon’s Bow to Islamic Extremism’.   In reading it I saw plenty of red flags that this article may not be totally reliable.  It presented only a few facts that were then skewered for all they were worth.   And instead of my usual sigh of annoyance and resignation I, instead, thought – Wow, what a wonderful exercise in skeptical thought this would make.

And so here it is, an exercise in skeptical thought.   I will be posting the complete article as it was sent to me, with breaks in it for me to comment on specific passages.

The Pentagon’s Bow to Islamic Extremism

by Raymond Ibrahim
FrontPageMagazine.com
February 12, 2014

“Caving to pressure from Muslim groups, the Pentagon has relaxed uniform rules to allow Islamic beards, turbans and hijabs. It’s a major win for political correctness and a big loss for military unit cohesion,” said a recent report.

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First paragraph and already so many issues.  The first one that struck me was the sentence – “Islamic beards, turbans, and hijabs”.  

Religions that require men to have beards – Many varieties of Orthodox Judaism, Sikhism, Rastafarians.   So, it is not just Muslims who will benefit from this, although you would not know it from the wording.  

Sikhs_on_the_move!

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muslims3Turbans – Sikhs also are required to wear turbans.  Many Rastafarians do too.  For that matter, many Muslims do not wear turbans; just look at photos of Palestinians, Egyptians, Afghans, and so forth.   But, again, from the wording you would think that only the Muslims wear turbans and that all of them wear this headgear. 

Hijabs – this is the one item that is correct, and it is feminine attire.  However, what was overlooked here is how many Muslim women do not wear the hijab.  

Of course, I was now interested in actually reading the Pentagon report on this topic.   And I thought it was good of them to provide a link to it.   However, that link was not to a report but to another article in the Investors.com about this same topic that also decried McDonald’s changing standards in caving to Shariah Law too.   Not sure how a site meant for investments can be considered a reliable or authoritative source – but it sure does look good having a link in nice colored letters spelling out “recent report”.   Makes it look all think tanky and such. 

First two learnings from this:

1)      Beware of articles that overly generalize and yet at the same time focus on only part of the story.

2)      Beware of articles with links that look good, but only look good.  

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Of course, now I was interested in what the Pentagon had actually done and said.  So, I looked into it and quickly found these two articles from Military Times – a much more relevant source than an investment site – “Wide Variety of Faiths Led to New Policy to Accommodate Them” and “Religious Exemptions for Troops Easier to Request Under New Rules”.  

Some interesting facts here that are not mentioned in the article; 

news singhFirst, this change was brought about because of a Sikh request to be allowed to wear his turban.  Not a Muslim, a Sikh. 

Second, until now, there was no military wide policy for determing exemptions to uniform and grooming regulations due to religious reasons.  This has now set one. 

Third, religious exemptions are not automatic.  They are considered on a case by case basis and, if they run counter to that service’s regulations, have to be approved by that service’s three star personnel chief.  If they do not run counter to established regulations then they can be approved by unit commanders. Further, a soldier’s exemption is not for always.  Anytime a soldier moves to a different job or deploys, they have to re-apply for the exemption.  

Fourth, several factors are considered in making a decision to allow a religious exemption or not.   I think the “Wide Variety…” article stated it nicely. 

“The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless they have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline,” says Navy Lt. Cdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman.

Rules can be bent, but they can’t be broken. The bottom line, Christensen said, is that accomplishing the mission at hand comes first. Always.

That means a shave if facial hair prevents the proper fit of a gas mask, leaving behind a religious garment interferes with a flak jacket, or delaying prayer when a patrol must be run.”

So, one paragraph in and already this article is totally discredited.   The change was not prompted by “pressure from Muslim groups” but from a wide variety of different religious groups and people, with the proximate cause being a request from a Sikh.  

Also, from the first paragraph, and indeed the rest of the article, you would not know that this is an exemption process and one that is not automatically given.  Nor would you know that the unit mission takes priority.  In fact, from this paragraph, and the rest of the words that follow in this article, you would think the exact opposite.  I am guessing that they realized this since they provided a worthless link instead of one leading to a site providing good specific information on what had changed and why.  This was no accidental error. islamophobia1

So, since this article has already been discredited as being based on incomplete, misleading, and very biased information, then why read the rest of it?  For myself, it is interesting to see where they go with it; which is, as you might already have expected, in a totally Islam bashing and basically Islamophobic direction.  

 ————————————————————————————————-

This new relaxation of rules for Muslims comes at a time when the FBI is tracking more than 100 suspected jihadi-infiltrators of the U.S. military. Just last month, Craig Benedict Baxam, a former Army soldier and convert to Islam, was sentenced to seven years in prison due to his al-Qaeda/jihadi activities. Also last month, Mozaffar Khazaee, an Iranian-American working for the Defense Department, was arrested for sending secret documents to America’s enemy, Iran.

———————————————————————————————————————–It would be nice if they would cite sources for their claims.  However, I did find a NPR report on this. 

The reason the FBI is investigating is due the Fort Hood murders by Major Hasan that took the military by surprise even though there were warning signs.  Now, of these 100 suspects, only about 12 are serious enough to continue investigating.   Something this article neglects to mention. 

It also fails to mention is that these investigations involve not just military members but their family and also military contractors.   You are talking about a huge number of people being investigated in which only 12 warrant more serious follow ups.   A problem, yes.  But not an out of control and huge one.  

Further, the FBI also investigates for white supremacist and neo-nazi groups links.   Yet I see nothing here about the dangers of these groups despite the fact that most of the incidents of American domestic terrorism have been by militias and other such groups. They mention Braxton’s military service, although his crime was committed after leaving the military.  From the wording you would think he had “infiltrated” the military and was working from inside.  He was not.  

In order to continue avoiding providing a proper context for this story, they also do not mention the military members who join domestic militia groups that have been known to engage in domestic terrorism.  Nor do they mention the anarchist group in Georgia with not only ex members of the military but active duty soldiers.  Here is a CBS newstory about this.  

(AP) LUDOWICI, Ga.- Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group composed of active duty and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components and was serious enough to kill two people – former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York – by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.

“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”

In other words, this article is being very selective in what information it presents.   It does not give you all the information nor the context needed for an honest understanding of what is happening.  

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According to a Pentagon spokesperson, the new religious accommodations—to allow Islamic beards, turbans, and hijabs—which took effect very recently, would “reduce both the instances and perception of discrimination among those whose religious expressions are less familiar to the command.”

The report concludes that, “Making special accommodations for Islam will only attract more Muslims into the military at a time when two recent terror cases highlight the ongoing danger of Muslims in uniform.”

But it’s worse than that; for not only will it attract “more Muslims,” it will attract precisely the wrong kinds of Muslims, AKA, “Islamists,” “radicals,” etc.

This is easily demonstrated by connecting the dots and understanding that Muslims who adhere to visible, non-problematic aspects of Islam—growing beards and donning hijabs—often indicate their adherence to non-visible, problematic aspects of Islam.

Consider it this way: Why do some Muslim men wear the prescribed beard and why do some Muslim women wear the prescribed hijab? Most Muslims would say they do so because Islam’s prophet Muhammad commanded them to (whether via the Koran or Hadith).

Regarding the Muslim beard, Muhammad wanted his followers to look different from “infidels,” namely Christians and Jews, so he ordered his followers to “trim closely the moustache and grow the beard.” Accordingly, all Sunni schools of law maintain that it is forbidden—a “major sin“—for men to shave their beards (unless, of course, it is part of a stratagem against the infidel, in which case it is permissible).

The question begs itself: If such Muslims meticulously follow the minor, “outer” things of Islam simply because their prophet made some utterances concerning them in the Hadith, logically speaking, does that not indicate that they also follow, or at the very least accept as legitimate, the major, “inner” themes Muhammad constantly emphasized in both the Koran and Hadith—such as enmity for and deceit of the infidel, and, when capable, perpetual jihad?

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My, such concerns for allowing Muslims to serve in their military (they are American citizens and thus it is their military, just as it is mine and any other American’s).   And for not allowing the wrong sort of Muslim into the Military, as if judging by their beards or lack of them is a way to figuring this out. 

To show the grave flaws in this sort of thinking consider the following.  Major Nidal Hasan.  No beard.   The Boston bombers, neither of them had a beard.     In fact, if you look at the 2013 FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List, of the nine men listed, three did not have beards. None of them are wearing turbans.   

 In fact, none of them are American, which means that they would be very unlikely to be able to enlist in the military.    

Looking at Wikipedia for the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list gives a longer one, a listing of 22, of which most are not wearing turbans and nine have no beards.  There is only one American on this list, making the 21 others unlikely to be able to enlist in the US military.  

I mentioned earlier that the FBI also investigates for ties to white supremacist groups and neo-nazi groups.  The FBI has discovered and stopped many more attacks on Americans by these groups than by Muslim citizens.   Does this mean that we should now be concerned about attracting whites to the military?   Perhaps we need to go to an all black, Hispanic, and Asian military.

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domestic terroist 1I thought it might be interesting to look at the FBI’s list of Most Wanted dt2Domestic Terrorists.   None of them were Muslim.  All of their terrorist acts were done in the name or anarchy or ecology.  Seems that most of the terrorist acts committed by Muslims were committed by non-Americans.  Muslims who are American citizens, by the evidence, are not very likely to engage in terrorist acts.     Which means dt3that this whole article is doing them a grave disservice, insulting their dt4patriotism, their honor, their morals.  

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As for the verses and themes emphasized in the Koran and Hadith, since they did not provide any specific verses or references for this, let me just say that these are often taken out of context and ignores other verses within those works.   Here is a blog I did on this “Response to a Faulty Document About Islam” – my apologies for some formatting issues on this blog, I was having some issues with wordpress that day and decided what I had was readable enough (by the way, I am much better at this now – thank goodness!).

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Even in the Islamic world this connection between visible indicators of Islamic piety and jihadi tendencies are well known. Back in 2011, when Islamists were dominating Egypt’s politics, secularist talk show host Amr Adib of Cairo Today mocked the then calls for a “million man beard” march with his trademark sarcasm: “This is a great endeavor! After all, a man with a beard can never be a thug, can never rape a woman in the street, can never set a church on fire, can never fight and quarrel, can never steal, and can never be dishonest!”

His sarcasm was not missed on his Egyptian viewership which knew quite well that it is precisely those Muslims who most closely follow the minutia of Muhammad—for example, by growing a beard—that are most prone to violence, deceit, and anti-infidel sentiments, all of which were also advocated by Islam’s prophet.

Speaking more seriously, Adib had added that this issue is not about growing a beard, but rather, “once you grow your beard, you give proof of your commitment and fealty to everything in Islam.”

Similarly, after Egypt’s June 30 Revolution ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, “overt signs of piety [beards and hijabs] have become all it takes to attract suspicion from security forces at Cairo checkpoints and vigilantes looking to attack Islamists.” Clubs and restaurants banned entrance to those wearing precisely these two “overt signs of piety.”

While Egyptians instinctively understand how fealty to the Muslim beard evinces fealty, or at least acceptance, to all those other problematic things Muhammad commanded, even in fuzzy Western op-eds, the connection sometimes peeks out. Consider the following excerpt from a New York Times piece titled “Behold the Mighty Beard, a Badge of Piety and Religious Belonging”:

[A]ll over the Muslim world, the full beard has come to connote piety and spiritual fervor…. Of course, the beard is only a sign of righteousness. It is no guarantor, as Mr. Zulfiqar [a Muslim interviewee] reminds us: “I recall one gentleman who came back from a trip to Pakistan and remarked to me, ‘I learned one thing: the longer the beard, the bigger the crook.’ His anticipation was people with big beards would be really honest, but he kept meeting people lying to him.”

The italicized portion speaks for itself. Whereas the Muslim beard ostensibly represents religious piety, some people, mostly Westerners, are shocked to find that those who wear it are often “crooks” and “liars.”

In Islam, however, outer signs of religiosity on the one hand, and corruption and deceit on the other, are quite compatible. After all, the same source—Islam’s prophet Muhammad, as recorded in the Hadith—that tells Muslims to grow a beard also advocates deception, the plundering of infidels, the keeping of sex slaves, adult “breast feeding,” and all sorts of other practices antithetical to Western notions of piety if not decency.

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There are so many over generalizations and falsehoods about Islam and Muslims within this article that, since my main focus is the Pentagon policy, I am not taking the time to show them all wrong.   But, as a representative example, lets just do one – the adult breast feeding.   This article claims that “Muhammad, as recorded in the Hadith” tells Muslims breast feed adults.   The link provided goes to another article by the same author as this one.  Amazingly though, this article actually provided a link to a BBC article on this subject. 

Yes, there was one cleric who issued a fatwa saying women should breastfeed men- as a way of breaking down the segregation of the sexes.   However, his fatwa was immediate denounced by most other Muslims and clerics and he later retracted it as an error in judgment and reasoning on his part.   I wonder, if this author and this think tank take the proclamations of the Westboro Church pastor as being definitive for all of Christianity.  

The other statements and claims made about Islam are similarly flawed.   They are the product of a mind more concerned with casting Muslims and Islam in the worst light possible, even if misleading statements and lies have to be used to do so. 

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Incidentally, it’s the same with the hijab, or cloak that some Muslim women wear, also on Muhammad’s command. One reformed Islamic jihadi from Egypt accurately observes that “the proliferation of the hijab is strongly correlated with increased terrorism…. Terrorism became much more frequent in such societies as Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and the U.K. after the hijab became prevalent among Muslim women living in those communities.”

And so, at a time when the U.S. should at the very least be wary of those who openly wear their Islamic radicalism around their face and head—beards for males, hijabs for females—the U.S. Pentagon (of all places) is embracing them in “celebration of multiculturalism.” Wear loyalty to the U.S. is most needed, the Pentagon embraces those who show that their loyalty is elsewhere (among other things, the beard and hijab are meant to separate “pure believers” from “impure infidels”).

Of course, none of this is surprising considering that the Pentagon also considers Evangelical Christians and Catholics as “extremists” on a par with al-Qaeda.

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This skeptical exercise has gone on long enough and that last claim is deserving of a blog in and of itself – one which I have no plans for doing currently.  

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Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, April, 2013) is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum

 

So, what does my skeptical analysis of this piece show?  As I wrote earlier – this article is nothing but a smear on the morals and patriotism of Americans who are Muslim.  It is a smear and attack on good Muslims of all nationalities.  It is slanted, bigoted, and biased.  It seemingly deliberately ignores many facts about what the Pentagon is doing, about Islam, about terrorism, and about Muslims.  In addition, it presents what few accurate facts it has in a biased and prejudiced way, an alarmist way that creates unnecessary and immoral turmoil and division.  It is nothing more than a bigoted hate piece. It is a dangerous shame that it has cloaked itself with the reputation of a “Think Tank” status so as to wear a respectability it does not in any way deserve.   And that is why skeptical thinking is so valuable – it is not the obvious hate groups that are the main problem, but rather, those who wear a disguise.

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The other day I was talking to another student in the Masters of Liberal Arts program who was taking a course titled “Islam and Politics in the Middle East”.  Since I had taken that same course last year, he was asking me questions about how the professor graded (good professor with a lousy system for providing timely feedback on assignments).

During this discussion he mentioned that he had asked the same question to this professor several times and had never gotten a straight answer, but that he intended to keep asking until he did get one.  His question was “Why don’t Muslims in the Middle East stand up to terrorists?”     I told him that, if he wanted me to, I could answer that question.  Since this is a question that I have heard many, many times I thought I would share my answer here.

They do stand up to terrorists.

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One such person has been much in the news lately and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize – Malala.   She is a prime example of a Muslim standing up to terrorists.  As is her family who supported her and have also spoken out.  As are her classmates who, despite the terrifyingly real danger, still go to school.   As are the parents of these classmates who support their daughters and continue to keep them in school.   As are the girls who go to school anywhere that extremists are present, and their families who support them.

They are the women politicians in Iraq, Pakistan, and other countries that have an active extremist presence.   They are the women who work outside the home in those same countries.

Saudi Women DrivingThe women who drive in Saudi Arabia are another group who are standing up to terrorists and the thinking that supports them.

Muslims stood up to terrorists and the thinking that supports them in Egypt recently with the massive protests that caused the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood from their government.

The demonstrators in Libya who came out to support the US, apologize for the killing of ambassador Stevens, and against the terrorists.  This was followed by an attack by hundreds of Libyans on the compound of an Islamist militant group thought to be one of the ones behind the attack on the US embassy, in which these protestors evicted the militiamen and set fire to the building.

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They are the thousands of Egyptian Muslims who surrounded the Christian Coptic Churches  during their Christmas Eve Mass services to protect them against the terrorists.

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They are the many thousands of Muslims in Afghanistan who protested against their government’s plans reconcile with the Taliban, saying that any such plan would be a “betrayal of the Afghan people’s long fight against extremism”.

More examples could be mentioned, but let us also not overlook the values and work of the Muslims who teach their children that the Qur’an does not condone terrorism and the killing of the innocent;  the Muslims who work hard and help others, regardless of their faith or backgrounds;  whose daily life models values at odds to those of the terrorists.   They are the Muslims who live peacefully and who encourage others to do the same.

As for those Muslims who do nothing in areas that the Taliban or the other radical extremist groups control, consider how outspoken and bold you might be knowing that it is not just your life that is in jeopardy but that of  your parents, your spouse, your children.   That not only might you be tortured and killed, but those you love too.   The wonder is not that there are so few Muslims standing up against these people, but that there are so many.

Those of us living safely so far away have no right to criticize so easily and unthinkingly what we have not tried to understand first.  Nor do we have a right to be so vocal while also being so ignorant of what so many Muslims are doing to stand up to terrorists.

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In my Sunday paper I saw an article about Algeria joining other Islamic countries in a demand for limiting freedom of expression.  They wish to prevent attacks on Islam such as the recent video by banning any denigration of Islam.  Many Islamic groups and Muslims also wish to extend this to include all religions.

In my discussions with some Muslims I have also encountered the idea that free speech should have limits, among them being any attack or denigration of religion.   Not all Muslims promote this, but I believe that a majority of them do. 

In the article I mentioned above, I was struck by the remarks made by Malaysia’s foreign minister Anifah Aman, so let me start with these remarks.    

From (the link here is to the same article on another site)

  http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-09-29/algeria-at-un-limit-free-speech-protect-islam

 “When we discriminate against gender, it is called sexism. When African Americans are criticized and vilified, it is called racism. When the same is done to the Jews, people call it Anti-Semitism. But why is it when Muslims are stigmatized and defamed, it is defended as ‘freedom of expression’?”

Mr. Aman is quite correct that we do have labels for different acts of discrimination and hateful speech – sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism.  However, at least in the United States, even though we condemn such speech the government does not control such speech.  It is covered by our freedom to express our opinions no matter how cruel, upsetting, and wrong they may be. 

It is why we allow the Klu Klux Klan to march and distribute their hate literature.  It is why we allow groups such as the Westboro Church to demonstrate at funerals and express their bigoted and ignorant view.   It is why we allowed the art exhibit with the cross in a glass of urine to be displayed.  It is …. well, you get the idea.

I have no problem labeling such things as the video as Islamophobic.  In fact, I condemn that anti- Islam video as ignorant, insulting, and hateful.  However I will not lobby to have it banned and I will work to prevent it from being banned by the government.     

The reason for this is not because we feel that these groups are correct or that the government is endorsing them.  Further we realize that such speech and actions hurt good people, that they are lies that some succumb to, that they are barbaric.  So, given this, why not limit such speech.  The reason is simple – to allow the government the power to regulate speech, to determine what is hateful and biased speech that should be censored it to give it too much power; power that will eventually, and sooner rather than later, be misused. 

Here is an excerpt from a rather long but informative and interesting article title “Blasphemy Laws Exposed:  The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamations of Religion””.   It is a very good read and I would urge those who are interested in this subject to read it as they find the time.  But for now, as I said, a short excerpt from it: 

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/Blasphemy_Cases.pdf

“Such laws risk promoting an atmosphere of intolerance by providing a context in which governments can restrict freedom of expression, thought, and religion, and can result in devastating consequences for those holding religious views that different from the majority religion, as well as for adherents to minority faiths.  The loose and unclear language of these laws empowers majorities against dissenters and the state against individuals.  Governments and individuals frequently abuse national blasphemy laws not only to stifle dissent and debate, but to harass rivals, legitimize violence, and settle petty disputes.”

 

To all of the Muslims… in fact to anyone who believes that some form of censorship is a good idea – and I know of many besides Muslims who believe that – I would ask them to consider how comfortable they feel in giving their government the power to decide what is free speech and what is hate speech. 

For the many Muslims who have lived under so many dictators and tyrants, do you really want them to have this sort of power? 

Far better to fight such hate speech with peaceful speech – letters, books, peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, speaking out in defense of the truth – than in trying to censor such speech.  It is sloppy, oftentimes frustrating and painful, but it also protects our rights, rights whose lose would be much more painful, frustrating, and damaging than any form of hate speech.

From:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2012/10/muslims_for_free_speech_can_islam_tolerate_innocence_of_muslims_.html

 

“Free speech doesn’t mean moral acceptance. You can censure hatred without censoring it. In fact, free speech protects your right to criticize and refute hateful speech. Or you can ignore the insults, as Mohammed did.

Free speech invigorates debate, strengthens critical thinking, and thereby arms citizens against tyranny. It will make the Muslim world a better place. Yes, bigots will abuse freedom of expression. But the greater danger is that governments will abuse the power to restrict this freedom—or that in the name of peace, dissent will be silenced anytime a mob threatens to riot.”

And now, I thought I would let just some of the many Muslims who do understand free speech and its importance speak out. 

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2012/10/muslims_for_free_speech_can_islam_tolerate_innocence_of_muslims_.html

“The best way to counter hatred is to defy it through convincing arguments, good actions and free debate. Much can be done to fight hatred without restricting speech, and governments should condemn hatred and set the example. Any legislation that restricts free speech including religious symbols can be used to quell social and political dissent. … Countless incidents show that when governments or religious movements seek to punish offenses, in the name of combating religious bigotry, violence then ensues and real violations of human rights are perpetrated against targeted individuals. …

Governments and individuals frequently abuse national blasphemy laws to stifle dissent and debate, harass rivals, legitimize mob violence, and settle petty disputes. The loose and unclear language of these laws empowers majorities against dissenters and the state against individuals. They provide a context in which governments can restrict freedom of expression, thought, and religion, and this can result in devastating consequences for those holding religious views that differ from the majority religion, as well as for adherents to minority faiths. … Rather than criminalizing speech, U.N. member states should step up their commitments to fighting hate crimes, countering hateful discourse, opposing discrimination and promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue.”

Muslim Public Affairs Council and Human Rights First

“People of good will and good faith have to use their constitutional right to free expression to condemn incitement. Trying to craft a bill or statute to ban it is nearly impossible without banning some other type of speech that may be legitimate. I think it’s crappy for the guy to have [created the anti-Islam film]. I think it’s despicable actually, but it’s like when people want to burn a Quran. … I don’t think there’s any way to have a rule to ban the kind of incitement contained in that movie. [But] we aren’t helpless. … You see Coptic leaders denouncing this film, you see Jews, Christians, Muslim leaders. It’s more powerful than just banning. … The best thing to do would be—with this movie, Quran burning, Nazis marching—is for people to say, ‘You have a right to do it, but you’re wrong.’

A lot of foreign leaders don’t understand. Nasrallah [leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah] said if [America] was really against the film, you’d ban it. Actually, no, you’re wrong about that. But you don’t understand this country. Nasrallah doesn’t understand that as a law-abiding person he’d be able to practice Islam more freely in American than anywhere else in the world. If you are a Shia Muslim in Saudi Arabia, life is going to be hard. A Sunni in Iran, life is going to be hard. If you want to wear a religious [emblem] in Turkey, tough times. France, they want to ban you from wearing religious symbols. In Switzerland you can’t build a mosque with a minaret on it. The thing about it, freedom of speech, it’s a good and bad thing. It applies to everybody. Once you start making exceptions, you start the erosion of the principle.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress

 

“[Muslims should] re-read the Quran itself and recall the Prophet of Islam’s own teachings that the most a wise Muslim should do to respond to an insult is by either ignoring and marginalizing the offender or, even better, to respond by ‘arguing with what is better [speech].’ Upholding freedom of speech in the West, as opposed to backing down, ups the ante on moderate, educated Muslims to speak up and more emphatically remind reactionary violent extremists—and the silent majority standing on the sidelines—what the Quran and the Prophet commanded them to do in response to insults. They will also need to explain to them how freedom of speech works, and how it is that actions of free Western citizens are separate from the actions of their governments. And maybe, just maybe, argue that the people of the Middle East should adopt free speech and disassociate between their own governments and the speech, actions, beliefs and thoughts of citizens. Middle Eastern governments should no longer pretend to be their citizens’ nannies protecting them from the “harms” of speech …

Islam Hussein, Egyptian blogger

American Muslim leaders should explain that while freedom of speech often leads to hate speech, most times society benefits from free speech. Free speech develops critical thinking among the general population and acts as a protector against governments that attempt to violate the civil rights of its people.”

Free Muslims Coalition

 

Those of us that understand the importance of freedom of speech even if it offends (or maybe especially when it offends) need to work together – whether Christian, Atheist, Jewish, Muslim, whatever – to ensure that the UN does not support blasphemy laws and that those countries that already have such laws should strike them in the name of freedom of conscience and speech.

 

 

Finally, I would like to point out that not only do Muslims need to fully appreciate the value of free speech, but so do many European countries.  The protestors and those Muslims advocating anti-Blasphemy laws are quite right in pointing out much of Europe’s hypocrisy in outlawing hate speech, outlawing those who argue that the Holocaust never happened, outlawing speech considered demeaning to minorities and yet do not do the same against Islamophobic writings and speech.  It is hypocrisy.  And it is wrong. 

From

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/frame_game/2012/09/free_speech_vs_hate_speech_why_is_it_legal_to_insult_muslims_but_not_jews_.html

Not only do most Muslims need to learn free speech, but so does much of Europe. 

Addendum:  During my research for this blog I came across a wonderful group working both against hate speech and bigotry and also against laws restricting free speech.  It is called Human Rights First.    For those interested in getting more involved or becoming more informed this is a good place to start. 

http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/about-us/

 

 

 

 

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