‘Our response to hate’: Muslim and Christians’ moving reaction after Britain First stormed bookshop accused of promoting jihad

uk shopDozens have spoken out in support of a bookshop invaded by members of far-right group Britain First, who accused the store of selling literature that promotes Islamic Jihad to children.

Footage published by Britain First showed leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen alongside ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson storming into the store.

They confront a volunteer working at the shop and accuse him of selling extremist literature, which he forcibly denies, Birmingham Mail reports.

The son of the owner of the store, who did not wish to be named, told the Mirror the ‘invasion’ by Britain First was due to an isolated incident where a book, Bringing Up Children in Islam – which was said to encourage parents to “keep alive in the children the spirit of jihad” – had been sent to the store as a sample and appeared for sale in error.

He said the book had been picked up and put on the shelves by accident,and was not meant to be put on sale. He insisted there were no other books like this in the store.

Christians and Muslims have spoken out in support of the store in Alum Rock, Birmingham, after seeing the footage posted online by Britain First when they confronted staff.

Britain First call themselves a Christian organisation – but their actions drew the ire of the community.

Posting on Twitter, councillor Mariam Khan wrote: “Amazing Easter Sunday spent visiting Islamic bookshops on Alum Rock Rd with Christian neighbours from local Church. Our response to hate.”

And social commentator Waheed Saleem said the West Midlands Police van was visible on the road after an “unwelcome visit” by Britain First.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIRROR (UK)

It’s Not Enough to Dismiss Islamophobia

lead_960A new book argues that conversations about Muslims in America and Europe are about more than rights and freedoms.

Controversies over Islam take somewhat different shapes in Europe and the United States. While France attempts to ban  burkinis, or full-body bathing suits worn by some Muslim women, U.S. state legislatures attempt to ban the use of sharia law in American courts.

And yet, argues Nadia Marzouki in her new book, Islam: An American Religion, anti-Islam arguments in the West have become “surprisingly standardized.” It’s “no longer possible to discuss Islam’s place in Western societies without systematically invoking a series of normative oppositions: good/bad, moderate/radical, faith/law, West/Muslim, modernity/tradition, and so on,” she writes. “For a majority of Americans and Europeans, Islam remains an opaque object that one is unable to think of in any way other than as a problem, threat, or retrograde legal code.”

 

It’s not enough to understand this simply as Islamophobia, argues Marzouki, who is a research fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. She believes Islam has become a cipher in Western societies for the tough questions of secular, liberal democracies: how much to champion liberty over equality, for example, and whether legal rights should entitle Muslims to fully express their faith in public. As much as Europe and the U.S. have different histories and legal traditions, she claims, anti-Muslim groups in both places share their discomfort with these challenges.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Inside the anti-Muslim organization that has ties to the White House

ctl-islam-trump-cair-act-muslim-20170217-001Roy White wants to inform as many Americans as possible about the terrorists he sees in their midst.

The lean, 62-year-old Air Force veteran strode into the Texas State Capitol in late January wearing a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit and an American flag tie, with the mission of warning all 181 lawmakers about a Muslim group sponsoring a gathering of Texas Muslims at the Capitol the following day. Although the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) works to promote Muslim civil rights across America, White wanted to convince lawmakers that it is actually working to infiltrate the U.S. government and destroy American society from within.

“They’re jihadists wearing suits,” White said of CAIR and other Muslim organizations. “That’s a tough thing for us to wrap our heads around because we don’t feel threatened.”

White is the San Antonio chapter president of ACT for America, an organization that brands itself as “the nation’s largest grass-roots national security advocacy organization” and attacks what it sees as the creeping threat of sharia, or Islamic law, in the form of Muslim organizations, mosques, refugees and sympathetic politicians.

The group has found allies among a coterie of anti-Muslim organizations, speakers and Christian fundamentalists, as well as with some state lawmakers. Bill Zedler, a Texas Republican state representative, said during a recent forum supported by ACT that he fears political correctness is masking the real problem: “Regardless of whether it’s al-Qaida, or CAIR, or the Islamic State, they just have different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 

Steve Bannon’s Islamophobic film script just one example of anti-Muslim views

The emergence this week of a script for an Islamophobic film written a decade ago by Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has drawn new attention to Bannon’s past statements about Islam, and to his view that “the Judeo-Christian west” is engaged in a “global war” against “jihadist Islamic fascism”.

Here is a selection from the script published by the Post, and previous statements Bannon has made about Islam.

‘Loss of the will to win’

The road to the establishment of an Islamic Republic in the United States starts slowly and subtly with the loss of the will to win. The road to this unique hell on earth is paved with the best intentions from our major institutions. This political/accommodation/appeasement approach is not simply a function of any one individual’s actions but lies at the heart of our most important cultural and political institutions.

– from Destroying the Great Satan, a 2007 film script by Stephen Bannon.

FULL FRIGHTENING ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN 

How Trump changed Americans’ view of Islam – for the better

imrsPresident Trump is expected to announce a ban on Muslim immigrants into the United States. However, polls conducted in the last year show that, despite his electoral success, Trump’s views on Islam and Muslims do not have wide support among the American public.

Americans’ opposition to accepting refugees from Middle East conflicts have been highly exaggerated. As I noted last June, “even in the middle of a U.S. presidential campaign that has been breathtaking in its exaggerations and racism, with devastating terrorism providing fuel, 59 percent of Americans say they are ready to accept Middle East conflict refugees” assuming they are screened for security. As usual, Americans were deeply divided along partisan lines on this issue.

Four polls during the election year revealed extraordinary, progressive and unexpected shifts that cannot be explained by events during that year. Attitudes toward “Muslim people” became progressively more favorable from 53 percent in November 2015 to 70 percent in October 2016.

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FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Letter of Recommendation: The Life of Marshall Hodgson

09mag-09lor-t_ca0-master768Viewed in the least charitable terms, academia is a small fraternity of ambitious backbiters engaged in the production of work so dense that only other members of the order can hope to understand it. But some scholars arrive on the scene bearing such a combination of intellect, urgency and charisma that their achievements resonate long after the Festschrift is printed and the memorial lecture empties out.

One of these was Marshall Hodgson, a great American scholar of Islam who died in 1968 while jogging on the University of Chicago campus. He was 46, and he left behind a manuscript that would become a magisterial three-volume book, “The Venture of Islam,” published posthumously through the efforts of his widow and colleagues. Before “The Venture,” there was no English-language textbook, no unified history, about the many linked empires that emerged out of the revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad in 610 A.D.

Before 1957, when Hodgson founded his yearlong course on Islamic civilizations at Chicago, there was no course like it. Islamic studies in America was an outgrowth of European Orientalist thought, which focused on Arabic language and literature and the core Arab lands of Islam. Persianate and Turkic dynasties were considered backwaters: Persians were important for their pre-Islamic achievements, Ottomans for their role in European diplomatic history. Sufism — the vast mystical current of Islam — was a blip in European and American historiography. A roughly 500-year period was glossed as a time of “Oriental decline,” wherein Muslim empires were said to languish under ineffectual despots.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE 

Mosques get threatening letters: Trump will ‘do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews’

imrsThis is an alert to Christians to make an extra effort to show our support for our Muslim neighbors pushing our elected officials, including our president elect, to renounce in no uncertain terms the hatred the election has fostered and fed.  

Letters threatening that President-elect Donald Trump will do to Muslims what Adolf Hitler “did to the Jews” were sent to three California mosques last week, according to the Council on Islamic-American Relations, or CAIR.

The handwritten letter, which referred to Muslims as “children of Satan,” were mailed to Islamic centers in San Jose in Northern California and Long Beach and Pomona in Southern California. It called Trump the “new sherriff [sic] in town” who will “cleanse America and make it shine again” by eradicating the country’s Muslim population.

“You Muslims are a vile and filthy people. Your mothers are whores and your fathers are dogs,” the letter states. “You are evil. You worship the devil. But, your day of reckoning has arrived.”

The letter went on to say that Muslims “would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge.”

The Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose was the first to receive the letter, according to CAIR, a civil liberties and advocacy organization for Muslims in the United States. Authorities were alerted Thursday night after the center’s imam found it in the mail, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

On Saturday, CAIR said the Islamic centers in Long Beach and Pomona also received a similar letter.

“The hate campaign targeting California houses of worship must be investigated as an act of religious intimidation, and our state’s leaders should speak out against the growing anti-Muslim bigotry that leads to such incidents,” Hussam Ayloush, executive director for CAIR’s office in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The letter, which was signed “Americans for a Better Way,” ended with “long live President Trump and God bless the USA.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST