US: Two sentenced to prison for foiled terrorist plot on Muslims

The defendants showed remorse as the judge declared them a “threat to everyone in our democratic society.” The two men planned to use homemade explosives in a terrorist plot on a Muslim community in upstate New York.

50060299_303Two men were sentenced to between four and 12 years in prison on Friday after threatening to bomb a Muslim community in the United States.

Defendants Brian Colaneri, 20, and Andrew Crysel, 19, had both entered guilty pleas. Monroe County Court Judge Samuel Valleriani told the pair: “Your terrorist threat was not only an invidious threat to the way of life of your victims, but also a threat to everyone in our democratic society.”

Both defendants expressed remorse, including for conversations they conducted between themselves via an online chat room as part of the plot. The two men had previously pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy in June.

“I never wanted it to go that far,” Colaneri said, according to local media outlet WHEC.

They and two others from the Rochester area were accused of planning to attack Islamberg, a rural religious community in the area of Tompkins, 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the north of New York City. Authorities arrested the individuals in January and said they had access to 23 rifles and shotguns, as well as three homemade explosives.

FULL ARTICLE FROM DW.COM

Muslim chaplain at Methodist school?

United Methodist affiliated Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia Hanaa-Unus-18has announced its first ever non-Christian chaplain in 150 years, hiring an Islamic woman as Muslim Community Coordinator.

The school’s dean of spiritual life, who’s an ordained United Methodist, explained:

Shenandoah is open to people of all faiths, or no faith, exploring their belief system and being leaders in this world for the greater good. Hanaa [Unus] provides the opportunity to be what we always say we value, and that’s a place that cherishes religious diversity.

The hiring raises interesting questions about church affiliated schools and the extent to which they should teach Christianity versus wider pluralism. Recently United Methodist affiliated Emory University hired a Unitarian Universalist as its senior chaplain. Should chaplains at church related schools believe in the deity of Christ?

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

How the West’s depiction of Prophet Mohammad has come a full circle

Today’s globalised context, provoked by colonisation, decolonisation and immigration has brought negative European perceptions of Islam and its Prophet to the attention of Muslims.

Was Mohammad a heretic and an imposter or a reformer and a statesman?

9780691167060In European culture, the Prophet of Islam has, more often than not, been vilified as a pagan idol. In the early Middle Ages, Islam was portrayed as a perversion of Christian teachings. Not merely a heresy but the sum of all heresies. Its founder was said to be “the chosen disciple of the devil.”

A caricature of the Prophet, which accompanies a work by Peter the Venerable, a 12th-century abbot of the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy — “Summa totius haeresis Saracenorum” (“A summary of the Entire Heresy of the Saracens”) — shows him as a siren, a monstrous combination of the human and the bestial. His purpose was to lure the unwary to their doom. This was at a time when the assumption was that the Saracens were like the Vikings or the Magyars and calls were frequent to the faithful to join the Crusades.

Yet by the 18th century, most portrayals of Mohammad were positive. In the late 16th century, Reformist polemicists explained the spread of Islam by the corruption of the established church, which led them to portray the Prophet of Islam as a champion of reform.

Mohammad is a “saint” only in comparison with the pope, yet Martin Luther introduces “a note of relativism that marks an important change in European discourse on Mohammad and Islam.”

Islam is viewed by some as one “sect” among others. John Tolan writes in “Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today” that because they were “plagued by violence and religious strife at home, Europeans looked to the Ottoman Empire not only as a threatening military power but also as a model of political unity and stability and of tolerance for religious diversity.

European Christian writers, Protestant and Catholic, saw the Turks as a double threat who could both conquer and seduce unwary European Christians. He adds: “Ottoman Istanbul was both an enemy capital and a bustling cosmopolitan city. The Ottoman Emperors seemed to have found ways to tolerate religious diversity and peaceful coexistence that Europe, riven by religious strife, was unable to put in place.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ARAB WEEKLY

 

Can Muslims get a fair shake in India?

India is back to square one, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move Monday to scrap special political rights for a Muslim-majority state in the Hindu-dominated country. The Muslim-rights issue, which led to the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim homeland in 1947, has now resurfaced: Can the Muslims get a fair shake in India?

By scraping Kashmir’s special autonomy status, Modi has taken a dangerous step toward implementing the vision of his ultra-nationalist party’s spiritual guru, the late V.D. Savarkar, who proposed more than 90 years ago to keep minorities under control in an India ruled by the Hindu majority.

Sitting in a prison cell on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, the convicted-armed-revolutionary-turned-Indian-nationalist drew up his solution to the vexing question of India’s minorities. His idea: The Muslims and Christians can stay in India, but they will be subservient to the Hindus; they will be granted no rights that may infringe upon Hindu rights; and since they are minorities, they must obey the majority.

This was not his initial plan, however. He initially wanted to convert the Muslims and the Christians back into Hindu. But he faced a big obstacle. Savarkar could convert the Muslims or the Christians, but could not arbitrarily decide their caste. A Hindu must belong to a hierarchical caste, and it is acquired through birth only. Hindu religion does not permit assigning a caste.

To overcome this insurmountable barrier, he revised his idea. He decided he is a Hindu, not an Indian. His motherland is Hindustan, which encompasses the land from the Himalayas to the Indus River. Hindustan boasts a 5,000-year-old rich culture, which influenced a vast number of people from Greece to Japan. On the contrary, India is a concept championed by the nationalists who wanted an independent united country for all of its inhabitants, regardless of their religion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HISTORY NEWS NETWORK 

Christians and Muslims against the isolation of Indian Kashmir

By Kamran Chaudhry

Tension remain high following India’s security measures in the disputed territory. Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state with a Muslim majority. The former executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission calls for a referendum to decide the issue of sovereignty.

PAKISTAN_-_0807_-_KashmirLahore (AsiaNews) – Some Christian groups are taking part in gatherings across the country in solidarity with the people of Kashmir, and against human rights violations in the Indian-administered territory.

Two days ago, Indian authorities isolated the disputed region and cancelled its autonomy, in violation of constitutional guarantees, sending thousands of additional troops to the only state with a Muslim majority.

The Presbyterian Church of Pakistan plans a “peaceful rally against Indian atrocities” on Friday at the Liberty roundabout in Lahore.

“We condemn the move by Indian government to revoke Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and also Article 35-A prohibiting property rights for non-Kashmiris,” said Rev Amjad Niamat, president of the Presbyterian Ecumenism and Interfaith Harmony Commission, speaking to AsiaNews. “This is the most serious attack against Kashmiris since it was made part of India in 1948.”

The “Indian government has taken many regressive steps,” he added, “from a secular state to fundamentalism. We demand a political and democratic solution as per UN resolutions in the past. Violence will not solve anything.”

Farooq Tariq, the Muslim spokesman for the Awami Workers Party, calls for the demilitarisation of Kashmir.

“All army troops either from India or Pakistan should be out of this zone. Similarly, we reject US President’s offer to mediate in Kashmir. We also reject religious extremists in Pakistan who have been demanding that Kashmir become part of Pakistan,” he said. “Kashmir has its own culture and traditions.” Others “should deal with them as Kashmiris and as an independent nation.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ASIA NEWS (ITALY)

I was the first Muslim ever elected to US Congress — and what I see happening in the UK scares me

(Note:  this article was published prior to the El Paso and Dayton massacres.  The observations and proscriptions it contains are even more pertinent now.)

by Keith Ellison         

trump-farageI’ve seen personally what hate looks like. Back in the 1990s, as a young criminal defense attorney, I represented young men in two different cases who were eventually acquitted after being charged for defending themselves against white supremacists.

Ever since then, I’ve closely followed how the far right’s language and images have leached into society; how it tries to justify its existence while concealing its violence; and how it’s become a globally connected movement.

Recently, we’ve seen white supremacist violence escalate dramatically around the world, from the Pittsburgh and San Diego synagogue shootings to the murder at the anti-racist Charlottesville rally in the US; from the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand to last month’s surgical assassination of liberal German politician Walter Lübcke. 

Not only did these killers share an ideology, but they drew inspiration from and celebrated each other. Despite this, under Donald Trump’s leadership, the FBI and Department of Justice have deprioritised investigating far-right violence.

These seemingly disconnected events are part and parcel of an emerging, global far-right movement whose core ideology is anathema to democracy. It uses nationalism as its cover, but make no mistake: its basic value is white supremacy.