Florida Killings: Radical Islam And The Far Right, Under One Roof

The Hamptons condo and apartment complex in Tampa is quintessential Florida. Lush and modern, the stucco homes are painted in a soft rainbow of pastels. All around are palm trees, Spanish moss and lily pads.

“It is a very quiet place. You have a lot of children that live here. A lot of professionals live here, retirees,” said resident Michael Colon, 66.

But on May 19, that tranquility was shattered in an improbable case that involves four young roommates at the complex.

Two of the men are dead and the other two are in jail.

The story brings together fundamentalist Islam, neo-Nazis, guns and explosive materials — all under the same roof.

And the investigation has morphed to include Tampa police, the FBI, the ATF, the National Guard, as well as state and federal prosecutors.

From one extreme to another

The case began with a hostage drama.

Devon Arthurs, 18, was holding three people at gunpoint in a strip mall across the street from the Hamptons complex, according to police. Arthurs told police he was angry about U.S. military attacks in Muslim countries.

After 15 minutes, Tampa police persuaded Arthurs to surrender. He then led them to the apartment he shared with three other young men.

Arthurs said all four once held neo-Nazi beliefs (though some family members dispute this claim). But here’s the twist: Arthurs said he had converted to Salafi Islam, an ultraconservative form of the religion.

He told police he shot dead two of his roommates inside the apartment because they disrespected his new faith.

And the story kept growing stranger.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

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“Stunning Stories” of Muslims Saving Christians in the Philippines Hailed by Church Leaders

marawi-city

Roman Catholic church leaders in the Philippines have hailed the “stunning stories” of Muslims saving Christians from the Islamic State terrorist group in Marawi, and said that Christians are also helping thousands of Muslims.

“We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more!” the Philippine bishops said in a statement on Monday, as reported by Catholic News Agency.

The IS-backed Maute militants in Marawi, who attacked and captured parts of the city at the end of May, have carried out vast atrocities. The militants are said to be torturing civilians, including the minority Christian population there, and are using people as sex slaves and human shields.

The Filipino military said on Tuesday that as many as 500 people have been killed in the battle for the city, with 381 of them believed to be IS-linked fighters. The civilian death toll has also been rising, Al Jazeera reported.

Some local reports have said that as many as 2,000 civilians may have been killed so far, though army officials have said that such numbers stem from “unverified reports.”

The Catholic bishops insisted in their statement that the war is “not religious,” and said that Muslim and Christian civilians have been helping each other escape the radical militants.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Members of Manchester’s Muslim community among those most strongly condemning deadly bombing

la-fg-britain-muslim-manchester-20170523Greater Manchester police ran a mock anti-terrorist operation a year ago featuring a bomber shouting in Arabic, “Allahu akbar,” or God is great.

Eight hundred volunteers took part in the overnight drill at a huge shopping center on the outskirts of the city to make it as realistic as possible and prepare the city’s emergency services for an attack.

But the day after the practice drill, authorities apologized to the city’s Muslim community and admitted they had been guilty of stereotyping.

After Monday night’s suicide bombing, many Manchester residents praised police, fire and ambulance workers for their rapid response. The 22-year-old suspect in the suicide bombing, for which the Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility, was described as an English-born son of Libyan immigrants.

Muslim leaders were among those who were quick to condemn the attack, which killed 22 people and wounded dozens, and declare that the city would not be divided.

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of Ramadhan Foundation in Manchester, said in a statement that the deadly explosion after an Ariana Grande concert was the “darkest day” in the city’s history.

Shafiq said the people of Manchester would not be divided and would instead “mourn, remember the victims and get on with our lives.”

“I love Manchester and its people — we are a resolute people and will not be divided by these barbaric animals or cowered by their violence,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES 

Muslims United For Manchester Is Raising Money For Victims Of The Terror Attack

FB-OG-Image-2LaunchGood, which raises money for both projects and cause work that empowers Muslims in need, and for the Muslim community to return the favor, is helping respond to the Manchester attack.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 22 people, including children, and wounded nearly 50 others at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England on Monday night. It’s the latest attack in a string of tragedies perpetrated by the Islamic extremist group, which has staged more than 140 attacks in 29 countries, killing at least 2,000 people, since it became active in 2014.

In less than 24 hours, however, Britain’s local Muslim community had issued its own response, one that among Muslims, in particular, has become an increasingly popular way to express their support of communities affected by a group that’s obviously not representative of the values and religion they hold dear. A campaign entitled “Muslims United for Manchester” appeared on LaunchGood, a crowdfunding site that works like a blend of both Kickstarter and GoFundMe. The service allows anyone to raise money for both projects and cause work that empowers Muslims in need, and for the Muslim community to return the favor, promoting their own fundraising efforts to improve or support some broader social good.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FASTCOMPANY

Trump’s new tune on Islam unconvincing, experts in Mideast say

usa-trump-saudi(CNN) President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday will likely be met with skepticism and frustration in the Muslim world, according to experts in the Middle East who said his sudden shift in tone on Islam was unconvincing.

Trump gave his speech in Saudi Arabia, where he ditched his hard-line rhetoric from the 2016 election campaign and instead called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.”
Here’s what experts in three Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East thought of the speech.
 Jordan
Former Jordanian Justice Minister Ibrahim Aljazy said Trump’s shift in tone towards Muslims was notable.
Trump to Muslim world: Drive out terrorists
But Aljazy said that Jordanians and others in the Muslim world had hoped Trump would deliver clearer answers on American policy in the region.
“I would not call it a constructive tone since that people in the region, particularly Jordanians, are looking for a more clear approach to the Israeli policies and an end to settlements, which may pave the way for a true two-state solution and end of occupation,” he said.
“Referencing ‘Islamic’ terrorist organizations only will not be appreciated by the vast majority of people in the region when other forces are carrying out acts of aggression, especially as Arabs and Muslims are the prime victims of these organizations,” he said.
Trump also failed to acknowledge the importance of democracy and the rule of law in putting an end to the root causes of terrorism, Aljazy said.

Opinion: ISIS doesn’t represent Muslims, is real enemy of Islam

514295701By targeting Islam and Muslims in the name of terrorism, we indeed provide the terrorists what they want – religious legitimacy.

Two months after Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) renamed itself as ‘Islamic State’ and declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph in June 2014, the terror outfit carried out a chain of gruesome murders with the beheading of US journalist James Foley. Later, American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff and English aid worker David Haines too were beheaded in similar fashion. These acts of modern-day savagery stunned the world. In the past two years, ISIS has killed over 1,200 people outside Iraq and Syria.

A series of heinous acts by the ISIS in the name of Islam has put the world’s second largest and fastest-growing religion under global spotlight. Despite the fact that most of Muslims dislike and detest the ideology of the terror outfit according to a study by Pew Research Center conducted in 2015, the negative perception of Islam has touched an alarming level in the post-9/11 world. Every terror attack by the ISIS further fuels the existing trend of Islamophobia

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDIA.COM

Egypt’s Christian minority in sombre mood for Easter holiday

Ragaay prays and lights a candle in front of a wooden figure of Jesus in her home at the Cairo suburb of MaadiMembers of Egypt’s Christian minority flocked to church on Friday but two church bomb attacks on Palm Sunday that killed 45 people have left many in a sombre mood over Easter.

Worshippers from the nearly 2,000-year-old Coptic Christian community attended church services, but the holiday to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ was being observed in subdued fashion, according to church officials.

In the city of Alexandria, Christians congregated at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, historic seat of the Coptic Pope, to attend Good Friday prayers. Worshippers passed through a metal detector at the building entrance, where one of the bombs went off.

Rafiq Bishry, head of the church’s organizational committee, said he was surprised that so many people had come.

“We expected that people would be too scared to attend prayers but there was no need for our expectations because there are a lot of people here,” he told Reuters Television.

“This is a clear message to the whole world that we are not afraid,” he said.

Last Sunday’s attacks in Alexandria and the city of Tanta were claimed by Islamic State, which has been waging an insurgency against soldiers and police in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

The group has now stepped up assaults on Christians and warned of more attacks to come. It has claimed to have killed 80 people in three church bombings since December.

Maha Ragaay, a Coptic Christian teacher who lives in Cairo, said she had avoided watching television on Palm Sunday, afraid of seeing the bloody images broadcast after the bombings.

FULL ARTICLE FROM REUTERS