A new mission in the Middle East

And so a reluctant President Barack Obama is taking a war-weary America much deeper into another Middle East conflict. He calls it military anti-insurgency.

The president promises it will not be a war like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, involving tens of thousands of American combat troops, deployed over a decade or more. But nevertheless it’s a kind of war — which inevitably will cost money and the lives of some Americans directly involved in the fight, whether they are pilots, advisers or special forces gathering intelligence.

President Obama’s address to the nation this past week in which he outlined a plan to “degrade and destroy” the barbaric group that calls itself the Islamic State has set off intense discussions in world capitals, in Congress and among the mainstream and social media. There are of course critics of his plan, but support for deeper American involvement in the Middle East is stronger than it would have been just a few months ago.

This is reflected in new polling that shows strong support among the American people for taking action against these extremist militants. In the latest poll, 65 percent of Americans said they wanted the current air strikes against the insurgents increased, including going after them in Syria as well as in Iraq — which the president has now pledged to do. One has to assume that the public beheading of two American journalists was a major factor in what represents a significant shift in American public opinion.

Still, is such a war really necessary? Based on my own years of experience in the region — and on the analyses of those I have come to trust over the years — I too have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it is.

The Islamic State, usually called ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) but referred to by the White House as ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, which includes Syria and Lebanon) is not an actual state although that’s what it aspires to be. In fact it claims to have established a caliphate, meaning the state of the caliph, who historically was Islam’s recognized successor to the prophet Mohammed. The would-be caliph is the current leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi, a shadowy figure who is said to have a Ph.D. in Islamic studies who spent time in an American-run prison during the Iraq war.

ISIS is no ordinary terrorist group. It is a military insurgency with plenty of arms and money. Many of its weapons are American, captured when ISIS military convoys rolled into Iraq from Syria in June and Iraqi forces capitulated.

Financial support originally came from rich conservatives in Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf Arab states. Nowadays it comes from extortion, from large banks captured during recent fighting, and from selling the oil ISIS is effectively stealing from Syrian and Iraqi oil fields.

ISIS occupies a significant amount of territory in northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq, an area about the size of Maryland. And it has under its occupation roughly 8 million people, most of them Sunni Muslims, on whom it is forcing its extremist version of Islam and brutally murdering those who resist.

Some Syrian Sunnis, turned off by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s despotism — and some Iraqi Sunnis, who have been ostracized by the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government of former Prime Minister Maliki — have joined ISIS out of conviction (among those are former officers in Saddam Hussein’s army who were banned from serving in Maliki’s Shiite Iraqi military.) But many Sunnis have inevitably joined ISIS out of fear.

There is no doubt that ISIS presents a serious threat to virtually every country in the Middle East. But in attracting a couple of thousand young Muslim thrill seekers from Europe and a hundred or more from the United States, ISIS is also a potential threat to Europe and America.

Indoctrinated and trained by ISIS, these young radicals who have European and American passports are of justifiable concern. When they return home to London, Paris, Berlin or New York they may very well be on a mission to do harm to the “non-believers” of the West. Homeland security will be on the lookout for such people, but as the Turkey-Syrian border has become so porous, identifying those with ISIS ties will not be so simple.

There is one school of thought that the president is taking these new steps principally because of his fear that ISIS may indeed be planning to hit Americans. As he said at the beginning of his Wednesday address: “As commander in chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people.”

In any event, President Obama and his diplomatic team must put together a credible coalition of committed partners. Some of these, in addition to Iraq, are going to have to be willing to provide combat troops, because this fight cannot be won by air power alone. Virtually all Muslim states in the region, especially the Turks and Saudis need to be directly involved. And Sunni Saudi Arabia has got to stop its proxy war against the Shiites of Iran and start worrying about the ISIS threat to its unique role as guardian of the Muslim holy places of Mecca and Medina.

When President Obama said a couple of weeks ago that he didn’t yet have a strategy for dealing with the problem of ISIS, as usual he was hammered by Republicans and the news media. In fact, Obama knew what he wanted his strategy to be, but elements of that strategy were not yet in place — namely, the specific commitments of his Muslim partners to the anti-ISIS coalition.

This remains a work in progress. And if there develops a perception that the Muslims are just window dressing for still another American war against Islam, then this operation will not succeed — and Americans will be less safe. Yet that would also be true if Obama did nothing.

Barrie Dunsmore is a former foreign correspondent for ABC News. He lives in Charlotte.

Article source: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20140914/OPINION06/709149915

Moeen Ali Condemns ISIS, Urges British Muslims to Stay Away

Moeen Ali signs autographs at Southampton where his six wickets won England the Test vs India.

England cricketer Moeen Ali has condemned the brutal beheading of British aid worker David Haines by Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). The devout Muslim said that ISIS’ actions did not reflect Islam and condemned the killing of people from other religion.

ISIS jihadists beheaded Haines in what they termed as “a message to allies of America.” The Briton was the third westerner to be executed after American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The recent developments have left Britain shocked and while Prime Minister David Cameron has promised strong retaliation, Moeen Ali has criticized the act and – more importantly – urged British Muslims to not join the terror outfit.

In an interview to Huffington Post, Moeen – who is of Pakistani descent – was quoted as saying that Islam condemned what ISIS was indulging in. “As Muslims we need to understand the ruling behind (whether) guys can go (to fight). From my understanding.. we’re not allowed to go and fight.. We’ve got to be patient as Muslims,” he said.

While Moeen was earlier cautioned for wearing a ‘Save Gaza’ wristband during an international Test against India, his new message and appeal would be welcomed especially when many young British Muslim youth have reportedly joined ISIS ranks.

Article source: http://sports.ndtv.com/cricket/news/229797-moeen-ali-condemns-isis-urges-british-muslims-to-stay-away

Mike Jones: Bennett out of line with Muslim quotes

Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2014 12:00 am
|


Updated: 2:32 am, Sun Sep 14, 2014.

Mike Jones: Bennett out of line with Muslim quotes

By MIKE JONES

TulsaWorld.com

|
0 comments

Stoking the fires of prejudice and fear certainly is not new in the political arena. But that doesn’t mean making such comments gets a free pass.

Recently, Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, said: “The Quran clearly states that non-Muslims should be killed. Arab is the ethnicity, not Muslim or Islam. Be wary of the individuals who claim to be ‘Muslim-American.’ Be especially wary if you are Christian.”

He said he has no intention of apologizing, and that is evident.

Picking and choosing and taking verses of the Quran out of context is a frequent, but no less repulsive, trick for those out to curry favor from certain blocks of voters.

Such cherry-picking, along with charges, among others, that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ties to terrorist organizations, is unfair.

CAIR and other Islamic organizations, as well as Muslim individuals, have denounced the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, including the beheading of two Americans.

But it’s very easy to make charges and often much more difficult to prove them false. It’s a familiar, although questionable, political ploy. Politician “A” tells people that someone is a terrorist. The accused, person “B,” then has to come along and explain why he or she isn’t a terrorist, which can require several words and even several sentences, at which point the eyes of those listening begin to glaze over.

Then, politician “A” again calls “B” a terrorist. Guess which most will remember.

This also works with the words “traitor,” “liberal” and “tax hike.”

A good example comes from the 1950 Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Florida. It’s accuracy often is questioned, but it, nevertheless, is a good story.

Sen. Claude Pepper was a three-time incumbent and was being challenged by U.S. Rep. George Smathers.

At a speech in rural Florida, Smathers supposedly claimed that Pepper was a “known extrovert,” his sister a “thespian” and his brother a practicing “homo sapien.” He also accused Pepper of practicing “nepotism” with his sister-in-law and of “matriculating” with young women in college. Smathers also said Pepper “practiced celibacy” before marriage.

Imagine having to explain your way out of those charges. Smathers won the election by 67,000 votes.

Sadly, the attack on Muslims is not funny. It is cruel, dangerous and plainly unAmerican and unChristian.

Critics of CAIR will accuse the organization of simply covering up its ties to radical Muslim groups.

And, in fairness, it is easy for groups to hide their moral and economic ties.

In the case of CAIR, however, most of the rumors appear to be just that, rumors.

Bennett served in the Marine Corps for 21 years and for that he deserves our thanks. That, however, does not make him an expert on Islam or the Quran. And it does not make him immune from criticism when he deserves it.

“I am not against all Arabs or people who follow the religion of Islam,” he said. “The religion has been changed. It used to be peaceful.”

The fact is, Muslims and their organizations worldwide, including CAIR, have condemned the actions of ISIS, and especially the murders of two American journalists.

And, despite what Bennett believes, the great majority of Muslims are not intent on killing Christians. They want to live in peace, just like most of us.

Bennett can criticize President Obama for his handling of Mideast events, there is plenty of room for that. But condemning Muslims and Islam for the actions of murderous zealots is unfair and dangerous.

If Bennett wants to take the words of ancient texts at face value, he needs to re-read the Old Testament. Just because it calls for stoning for certain infractions, doesn’t mean every Christian or Jew believes that is still necessary.

Yes, there are passages in the Quran that can be violent toward nonbelievers or enemies. But, before casting that stone, take time to read the second book of the Old Testament, Exodus, or the third, Leviticus.

Take some of the chapters literally, ignoring the history or the metaphorical value, and the Old Testament can be pretty violent and intolerant.

There are chapters and chapters of God ordering Moses and Joshua to kill everyone they encounter, enemies and non-believers, men, women and children.

Leviticus lays down laws, many of which are punishable by death. Stoning is a popular form of execution.

Israelites could be stoned to death for anything from blasphemy to homosexuality to being “familiar” with witches. God also told the Israelites to make slaves of their enemies.

Most right-thinking Christians don’t follow such ideas today. Yes, there are some radical Muslim sects that still stone and mistreat women.

ISIS is of that mindset. But ISIS is the group that is being condemned by moderate Muslims, the majority.

Why must Americans fear people who are different? Every minority that has helped build this country was at first mistrusted and often mistreated. From the Native Americans, to the Germans, who Benjamin Franklin feared would ruin Pennsylvania, to Irish and Hispanics.

Oklahomans, of all people, who are descended from a variety of ethnicities — most of whom were mistreated — ought to be the most tolerant of people.

Fear, however, combined with political ambition too often overrides what is right.

Rep. Bennett is only the latest in a long line of politicians who play on fear and distrust to further their careers.

He and others ought to be ashamed, but I doubt they will be.

Mike Jones, 918-581-8332

mike.jones@tulsaworld.com

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Sunday, September 14, 2014 12:00 am.

Updated: 2:32 am.


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Mike Jones

Article source: http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/mikejones/mike-jones-bennett-out-of-line-with-muslim-quotes/article_b6d8069e-af24-5191-b89f-a3cc291e5a6d.html

CAIR Grows Through 20 Years of Service

WASHINGTON – As the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) marks 20 years of service for the American Muslim community, here follows a short summary of key milestones achieved by the American Muslim advocacy group for the service of the Muslim minority:

 

1994

CAIR organizes informational leaflets to express concern that the action movie “True Lies” stereotyped Muslims as terrorists. In response to those concerns, 20th Century Fox agreed to include a first-of-its-kind disclaimer in the end credits of the film.

Following a months-long campaign coordinated by CAIR, Recycled Paper Greetings apologized for an anti-Muslim greeting card, offered to end publication of the card and offered to exchange unsold copies of the card returned by retailers.

These cases helped establish the template for CAIR’s advocacy work.

 

1995

CAIR coordinates the American Muslims community’s response after initially being blamed for the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City.

One month after the bombing, CAIR issues its first annual report called “A Rush to Judgment” on Islamophobia and American Muslim civil rights. This begins an annual tradition of issuing reports documenting Islamophobia and assessing the civil rights of American Muslims.

CAIR intervenes in two cases in which Muslim women were fired or sent home from their jobs when they refused to remove their hijabs, the head scarf worn by Muslim women.

In one case, a California woman was sent home from her job as a Pinkerton Security Investigation Services security guard when her immediate supervisor claimed the scarf was not part of her uniform and had to be removed. In the second case, a Muslim teenager in Northern Virginia was fired from her job with Sears, Roebuck and Co. when she refused to take off her scarf to begin work after her initial orientation.

These cases began a long CAIR tradition of defending religious accommodation in the workplace.

CAIR opens first chapter in northern California.

 

1996

CAIR wins its first major hijab case against Quality Inn Hotels and JC Penney.

In response to a CAIR “Action Alert,” Muslims worldwide contact US News World Report to protest an editorial in which that magazine’s editor-in-chief claimed the Prophet Muhammad had a “doctrine of deceit.” The magazine later apologized in an editorial.

 

1997

CAIR announces settlement of a four-month dispute with athletic footwear giant NIKE Inc. over the marketing of a shoe with a logo resembling the Arabic word “Allah” or “God.” The dispute had repercussions throughout the Islamic world. NIKE also agreed to construct playgrounds at several Islamic centers nationwide.

A CAIR representative joins the Civil Liberties Advisory Panel to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. CAIR raises the issue of airline “profiling” of Muslims and Arabs.

CAIR issues “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” and months later “An Educator’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices.”

 

1998

In response to stereotypes in the 20th Century Fox film “The Siege,” CAIR coordinates a successful national campaign involving mosque open houses, newspaper advertisements and other grass-roots efforts.

An Internet e-mail list called CAIR-NET is launched to provide Muslim activists in North America with worldwide news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance.

A second e-mail list called ISLAM-INFONE is launched to reach media professionals, elected officials and opinion leaders.

 

1999

CAIR announces a settlement in the case of seven Dulles International Airport workers sent home for refusing to remove their hijabs.

CAIR also announced the resolution of a dispute with California-based Solectron Corporation over prayers by Muslim employees at a plant near Atlanta, Georgia.

 

2000

CAIR releases a first-of-its-kind exit poll of Muslim voters in the presidential election. CAIR participates in the first `Eid reception at the White House.

 

2001

CAIR publishes the first comprehensive report on American mosques.

CAIR issues first congressional guide.

CAIR coordinates national Muslim response to 9/11 terror attacks and publishes a full-page ad condemning the attacks in the Washington Post on Sept. 16, 2001.

 

2002

The CAIR Library Project places educational materials about Islam and Muslims in more than half of the nation’s 16,000 libraries.

 

2003

CAIR launches a national advertising campaign designed to foster greater understanding of Islam and to counter the rising tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States. The year-long “Islam in America” campaign includes a series of ads on the New York Times editorial page.

CAIR urges people of conscience nationwide to contact the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to ask that committee members reject the nomination of Muslim-basher Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

 

2004

Millions of television viewers watch CAIR’s “I am an American Muslim” public service announcements designed to help reduce anti-Muslim discrimination and stereotyping.

CAIR launches an online petition drive designed to disassociate the faith of Islam from the violent acts of a few Muslims. The petition on CAIR’s web site and signed by hundreds of thousands of people called “Not in the Name of Islam” allows Muslims around the world to help correct misperceptions of Islam and the Islamic stance on religiously motivated terror.

 

2005

CAIR distributes tens of thousands of copies of the Qur’an to Americans of all faiths and millions view CAIR’s “Not in the Name of Islam” television public service announcement rejecting links between Islam and terrorism.

CAIR launches an initiative called “Muslims Care” designed to promote volunteerism in the American Muslim community. The campaign offers Muslims the resources and information they need to help improve the communities in which they live by volunteering for worthwhile activities and causes.

CAIR coordinates release of a fatwa against terrorism and religious extremism issued by the Fiqh Council of North America (FQNA).

 

2006

CAIR educates Americans about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by distributing educational materials through the “Explore the Life of Muhammad” campaign.

CAIR’s Chicago chapter offers the first Muslim Youth Leadership Symposium (MYLS).

 

2007

CAIR distributes thousands of “Beyond Stereotypes” media guides to American journalists.

 

2008

CAIR calls for Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigations of an apparent attempt by a foreign-based group to influence the presidential election through the distribution of millions of anti-Muslim DVDs called “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to voters in presidential election swing states and to key opinion leaders nationwide.

 

2009

CAIR calls on Muslims to help distribute free copies of the Qur’an to 100,000 local, state and national leaders by the end of the year. The new “Share the Qur’an” campaign, which is designed to enhance understanding of Islam by opinion leaders and policymakers nationwide, was prompted by President Obama’s address to the Muslim world in which he quoted from the holy text.

 

2010

CAIR challenges the anti-Muslim bigotry generated by the manufactured controversy over the Park 51 Islamic Community Center in New York.

CAIR creates a new department to deal exclusively with growing Islamophobia in America.

CAIR successfully blocks the certification of an anti-Shari`ah state constitutional amendment in Oklahoma that would have been the first-of-its-kind institutionalized discrimination against Islam and American Muslims.

CAIR releases three groundbreaking national television public service announcements (PSA) distributed on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and featuring Muslim first-responders. Some 13 million people viewed the PSAs.

 

2011

CAIR files a first-of-its-kind amicus (friend of the court) US Supreme Court brief in the case (United States v. Jones) seeking the court’s support for the requirement that a warrant be obtained before placing a GPS tracking device on any individual’s vehicle.

CAIR exposes the bias inherent in Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) series of congressional hearings on Muslim “radicalization.”

 

2012

CAIR coordinates the community response to a string of attacks on American mosques during Ramadan.

CAIR launches a comprehensive voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaign and commissioned a survey that indicated a high turnout of 91 percent of Muslim voters.

CAIR responds to anti-Islam rhetoric with a banner ad campaign using a Qur’anic verse in the Washington, D.C., metro system.

 

2013

CAIR releases a report called “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States” which reveals that anti-Islam groups received more than $119 million in funding between 2008 and 2011.

CAIR publishes security guidelines called “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” in response to bias attacks, including a series of incidents in 2012 targeting American Muslim institutions.

CAIR welcomes the decision by The Associated Press (AP) to revise its Stylebook reference to the term “Islamist.” The change came after CAIR approached AP about modifying the reference, which had been added to its influential stylebook.

 

2014

CAIR convinces Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to withdraw its accreditation for a three-day training program offered by John Guandolo, a notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist. CAIR also convinces a Kansas sheriff’s department to cancel training for its officers by Guandolo.

The ABC Family Channel drops a new series called “Alice in Arabia” after CAIR approached the network about negative stereotypes in a script for a pilot of the series.

Brandeis University drops Islamophobe Hirsi Ali as an honorary degree recipient after CAIR and other groups expressed concerns about her anti-Islam prejudice.

Article source: http://onislam.net/english/news/americas/477425-cair-grows-through-20-years-of-service.html

Megyn Kelly tears apart CAIR rep; destroys his lies, rails against Shariah Law

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly questioned how the Council on American-Islamic Relations can defend what it describes as “moderate” Islam.

“It is true that Islam is not ISIS, but it is also true that ISIS is Islamic, is it not?” she asked Thursday of her guest, Hassan Shilby, chief executive director of the council’s Florida chapter.

“Unfortunately, you know every single faith has had crazy extremists distort and twist their faith to justify their crazy political ends,” Shilby said. “And the reality is, Megyn, is that moderate Muslims, Christians and Jews have a lot more in common with each other than they do with extremists from within their own faith. And actually, extremist Muslims and extremist anti-Muslims have a lot in common, and that is that they both distort the Islamic faith to promote their twisted agenda, which is rejected by the 1.7 billion Muslims in the world.”

Watch Dana Loesch slap the snot out of Steven Crowder to make great point about moderate Islam

Kelly argued that the Islamic State terrorist group adheres to a “form of Islam,” saying even “moderate” Muslims have controversial stances.

“But it’s not just the extremists,” Kelly said. “You look at Egypt, an ally to the United States – or at least it was. The administration has been on the fence about that, but 84 percent there, 84 percent favor the death penalty for leaving Islam, [and] 82 percent favor stoning for adultery. It doesn’t seem like the most moderate religion when Shariah law comes into the picture, and this group takes that to an extra extreme – to an ultra-extreme, and they do it in the name of Islam.”

Shilby dodged Kelly’s questions, directing blame at other religions. He even suggested Kelly didn’t know what she was talking about.

“I know if you’re a woman and you commit adultery, under Shariah law, they want to stone you, alright?” Kelly responded. “So I know that. And I know that if you decide you no longer want to be Islamic, they want to kill you.”

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Article source: http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/09/13/megyn-kelly-tears-apart-cair-rep-destroys-his-lies-rails-against-shariah-law-145287

Egypt seeks broader alliance with US over Libya

CAIRO As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought Egyptian support on Saturday for an international coalition to combat jihadi groups, Egypt pressed for broader international efforts to fight militants in its troubled neighbor, Libya.

The Egyptian position adds another layer to the complexities facing the United States as it seeks support among allies in the Middle East to battle militants who have overtaken a third of Iraq and Syria and threaten to upend the region.

Cairo’s call also risks further aggravating regional rivalries that could undermine U.S. efforts to build a durable coalition. Qatar and Turkey back Islamist-allied militias in Libya, while Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia support their opponents.

Military officials said that in exchange for Egypt’s support for the coalition to combat the so-called Islamic State group, it seeks assurances that sorting out Libya will be at the top of the U.S. agenda. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

In meetings with Kerry, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi used language that for the Egyptians clearly referred to Libya, according to a statement by the presidential spokesman.

“(He) stressed that any international coalition against terrorism must be a comprehensive alliance that is not limited to confront a certain organization or to curb a single terrorist hotbed but must expand to include all the terrorist hotbeds across the Middle East and Africa.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shurki also brought up this issue more than once during a joint press conference with Kerry.

“We support all international efforts to fight terrorism… and we will take all measures that are intended to eliminate this phenomena altogether, whether in Libya or any other part of the Arab world or in the African continent in particular,” he said.

Military operations in Libya would be a major shift in Washington’s position — U.S. officials have repeatedly warned against intervention there and said that only a political resolution will end the country’s turmoil.

Egypt, for its part, has already moved in that direction however, launching airstrikes against militias in Tripoli last month along with the U.A.E.

Officially, Cairo has repeatedly denied sending troops outside its borders and says it is not planning any military action in Libya, a country now dominated by Islamist-allied militias and with which Egypt shares long stretches of porous borders.

Egypt’s government accuses Turkey and Qatar of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, once the country’s most organized political organization but now banned and branded a terrorist group by Cairo, a position the United States does not share. Last year the army overthrew the country’s elected president, Mohammed Morsi, who came from the group, after mass demonstrations against him.

Nearly 40 nations have agreed to contribute to what Kerry said would be a worldwide fight to defeat the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. On Thursday, representatives from 10 Arab countries, including Egypt, met with the top American diplomat in the Saudi city of Jiddah promising to “do their share” to fight the Islamic State militants.

“Almost every country has an ability to play some kind of role in this fight against ISIL, and to join this coalition one way or the other,” Kerry said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

While avoiding delving into details about Egypt’s exact role, Kerry referred to the country as “an intellectual and cultural capital to the Muslim world,” saying it has a “critical role” to play in denouncing the harsh ideology of the Islamic State group.

Egypt is home to Al-Azhar University, one of the oldest and most revered centers of religious learning for Sunni Muslims. It has issued several statements and religious edicts condemning the Islamic State group and its self-styled caliphate.

Kerry hailed Egypt as an “important partner” in the emerging coalition while stressing that the need for Cairo’s support would not lead Washington to ignore human rights concerns.

U.S.-Egypt ties have been strained since July 2013, when el-Sissi, then the army chief, overthrew Morsi amid massive protests demanding his resignation.

The U.S. has criticized Egypt’s subsequent massive crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and withheld some military aid while urging Cairo to press ahead with a democratic transition and respect human rights.

Kerry called Egypt a friend and an ally, and said the U.S. wants the government in Cairo to succeed. He acknowledged that “sometimes friends have disagreement over one thing or the other” but insisted decades-long ties between Washington and Cairo would endure.

When asked about Egypt imprisoning journalists from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network on terrorism-related charges, Kerry said he had raised those concerns with el-Sissi on Saturday.

He insisted: “Let me be clear. The United States doesn’t ever trade its concern for human rights for any other objective. It is always a concern. It’s an honest concern.”

Article source: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/09/13/5171730/kerry-seeks-egypt-aid-in-battle.html

Ethics show visits with US Muslims

Here’s the lineup for next week’s “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” program, to run at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday on KTSC-TV.


“U.S. Muslims on ISIS” — As the nation marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and President Obama outlined his strategy to defeat Islamic State militants (ISIS), American Muslim groups this week joined together to reaffirm their condemnation of violent extremism waged in the name of religion.

Host Bob Abernethy and Managing Editor Kim Lawton talk with Haris Tarin, Washington Office Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, about the U.S. response to ISIS and the efforts of American Muslims to respond to potential future threats.

“Echoes of Ferguson” — As the leaders of Ferguson, Mo., start addressing the lessons of their community’s violence, the experience of other cities may be helpful.

When there was violent unrest in Boston, as Dan Lothian reports, members of the clergy learned to work both with the police and with potentially violent youth. They achieved much-publicized changes, but they also may have claimed success too soon.

“Stone Circles” — Not just at Stonehenge in England, but all over the world, including the U.S., there may be evidence of prehistoric stone circles many think were used for religious reasons.

Lucky Severson visited one such site recently found in Virginia’s Shenendoah Valley.

Article source: http://www.chieftain.com/life/religion/2889722-120/isis-muslims-violent-american

Tulsa Muslims Support US Actions Against ISIS

TULSA -

Muslims in Tulsa showed their support for U.S. military strikes against ISIS.

Organizers of Friday’s rally near 71st and Memorial said ISIS does not represent Muslims or the Islamic faith.

They said they don’t want anyone to make generalizations and judge other Muslims by the actions of a radical minority.

“We don’t agree about what they’re doing,” said rally organizer Housam Soueissi. “They don’t represent Islam and Muslims, and we’re here to stand and tell the world that we don’t approve of their actions.”

Ten Arab states and France have agreed to join the U.S. air strikes against ISIS.

Article source: http://www.newson6.com/story/26522752/tulsa-muslims-support-us-actions-against-isis

At 20, CAIR Leads Muslims’ Quest for Justice

WASHINGTON – As the US largest Muslim civil rights organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has made great strides to further the cause of justice for American Muslims, while facing enormous challenges during its 20-year history, including battling Islamophobia and negative Muslim stereotypes.

“I believe we’ve managed to give (Muslims) a national and local face both in front of the general public and in policy-making circles, which is something we did not have before,” Nihad Awad, who has served as CAIR’s national executive director since the group’s inception, told OnIslam.net.

CAIR celebrates on Saturday, September 27, its 20th birthday in a ceremony that will gather hundreds of Muslims from all walks of life.

Since its founding in 1994 by Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, CAIR has worn many hats as an advocacy group and a defender of Muslims’ rights including religious accommodation in workplace.

The group has also played a part in politics and in Hollywood, both by encouraging Muslims to vote and by discouraging the entertainment industry from portraying American Muslims in simplistic and often offensive terms.

Moreover, it has sought to educate teachers and business owners across the country about basic Islamic religious practices.

Yet, one of CAIR’s major early victories was in 1995 when American Muslims came under fire and were initially blamed for the deadly bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City, an act later found to be perpetrated by American Timothy McVeigh.

The group worked to coordinate the American Muslim community’s response to the tragedy and, one month after the bombing, issued its first annual report called “A Rush to Judgment.”

This report led to the group producing annual reports identifying and documenting Islamophobia in America and assessing Muslims’ civil rights.

“CAIR has transformed our community from one which was marginalized and on the sidelines to one that is now on the radar screen for many in our society,” Awad said.

“This is an important shift.”

Muslim Voice

  For many American Muslims, CAIR gave them a much needed voice in public, bringing them out of the shadows.

Ashley Hammad, a Muslim who lives in Texas, agrees, calling CAIR a “dominant voice for the American Muslim community.”

“There is always a published statement on our behalf regarding domestic and international issues, whether it’s to remind the nation of our upcoming month of fasting or simply disagreeing with actions of those abroad,” Hammad told OnIslam.net.

“I respect their dedication and hard work they put into becoming such an involved party in national political matters.”

In regards to hard work, Hammad said some of the biggest challenges facing CAIR are counteracting the way American media portrays the Muslim community.

“The entire Islamic experience has been reduced to current news, and if people let their minds be led by American packaging it’s not only an injustice to us but to the faith itself,” she added.

Hammad said she understands the challenges Muslims face, especially in the light of biased news coverage.

“It will be hard for CAIR to work against the ongoing Islamophobia in western media outlets,” she said.

“CAIR aims to show how peaceful and just our religion is, and it also defends our right to freedom of religion. The media counteracts that goal and just makes that much more work for CAIR to do.”

However, Hammad said she recognizes the progress the organization has made in terms of visibility and serving as a tool for American Muslims.

“They’ve come a long way and become more accessible via local chapters,” she said.

CAIR has 34 offices across the United States and boasts a diverse staff, including scores of high-ranking female staffers and leaders, converts and born Muslims, and people of other faiths, including Jacob Bender, the executive director of CAIR’s Philadelphia branch.

Bender is the first Jew and the first non-Muslim to serve in such a role.

Diverse Community

Serving a diverse community, Awad said it’s not only the responsibility of the American community at large to open its eyes to who Muslims really are, it’s also Muslims’ responsibility to ensure their fellows Americans see them as engaged, peaceful and productive members of society.

“American Muslims bring diversity to the table, and we want to honor and defend that diversity,” Awad said.

“It’s not a deficit, it is a plus that we leverage, and we are probably the most diverse Muslim organization in the country.”

“American Muslims must communicate their issues, presence and contributions by being civically engaged on all levels,” he said.

Awad added that reverts to Islam and those born Muslims who have lived all their lives in the United States can contribute greatly to this cause.

“You can see that converts or people born and raised (in America) have a lot to do with the success of CAIR as an American success story,” Awad said.

“CAIR has helped the immigrants and those who were born here to work together to produce a workable, American-based successful formula that defends the rights of Muslims, adheres to the laws and traditions and makes Muslims proud.”

Joyce Miller, who reverted to Islam in 2011, said those who choose the faith may have an advantage over some immigrant Muslims when it comes to dispelling stereotypes.

“We can easily identify with our non-Muslim peers because we were exposed to the same cultural influences,” she said.

“We’ve spent time in our communities, maybe volunteering or advocating for important causes. In relating well with others and showing good citizenship, we can set the example of what it means to be American Muslims.”

After twenty years of CAIR hard work to correct misconceptions, biased media remained the biggest problem facing American Muslims.

“The reality of Muslims today is that they live a happy and peaceful life, they are hard workers, and they are pioneers in engineering, science, art and education,” Awad said.

“But the news media is simplistic and does not provide depth and backgrounds to our image. That is dangerous.”

Article source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/americas/477423-at-20-cair-leads-muslims-quest-for-justice.html

Commentary: Muslims should be first, loudest to debunk ISIL’s claim on Islam

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state.” –​ President Obama in his address to the nation Wednesday

About the second point, reasonable people can quibble. The terrorist army that calls itself the Islamic State is certainly trying to build a state – and not just a state but a superstate, or caliphate. They’re not there yet; their delivery of social services seems spotty at best, though they do collect taxes and uphold the law (in a fashion).

More relevant, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a state. Morally, this weed stinks just as much whether you call it a state or a soccer league that rapes, tortures and murders people on the side. And legally, statehood would matter – and not very much – only if the U.N. and other bodies agreed to recognize the fledgling caliphate’s legitimacy. That’s not going to happen even if the Islamic State opens up post offices and DMVs on every corner.

The president’s first assertion is trickier. Is the Islamic State “not Islamic”? Moreover, is it really “clear” that it’s not Islamic?

Not even a little? Is it Islamic-ish?

If we’re talking clarity, I’d say the Islamic State is clearly not Mormon. Or Lutheran. Or Buddhist. It most certainly is not the most extreme example of Quakers gone bad ever recorded.

As for its not being Islamic, that’s at best unclear, if not just clearly wrong. And the fact that the majority of its victims are Muslim is irrelevant. Lenin and Stalin killed thousands of Communists and socialists; that doesn’t mean Lenin and Stalin weren’t communists and socialists. If such terrorists who kill Muslims aren’t Muslims, why do we give them Korans when we imprison them?

The president faces the same dilemma that bedeviled George W. Bush, and I sympathize with him. It is not in our interest for the Muslim world to think we are at war with Islam, not just because it is untrue but more specifically because we desperately need the cooperation of Muslim nations. That’s why Bush constantly proclaimed that “Islam means peace.”

But it also seems flatly wrong for an American president to be declaring what is or is not Islamic – or Christian or Jewish. Given the First Amendment alone, there’s something un-American in any government official simply declaring what is or is not a religion.

Bush’s formulation in his Sept. 20, 2001, address to Congress was better: “The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.”

Regardless, I’m not the kind of purist who would object to Obama’s version – if it worked. Aeschylus first noted more than 2,400 years ago that the first casualty of war is the truth. And if saying that the Islamic State is guilty of religious false advertising makes it easier to win a war, that’s fine by me.

But does it work?

Bush’s assurances that “Islam means peace” had little to no discernible effect. It’s unlikely that Obama’s non-Islamic classification will do any better.

Anyone who thinks jihadism is authentically Muslim won’t change his mind because a president says otherwise.

In fact, maybe it’s a mistake to concede the point up front? Instead of Americans trying to persuade Muslims of the world that terrorism is un-Islamic, why shouldn’t Muslims be working harder to convince us?

Think about it. Whenever a tiny minority of bad actors hurts the reputation of its ethnicity, faith, or cause by doing terrible things in the name of its ethnicity, faith, or cause, the responsible thing is for the moderate, decent majority to cry “Not in our name!” or “They don’t speak for us!”

That is what morally decent Jews, Christians, atheists, whites, blacks, Italians, Irish, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, environmentalists and pretty much every other classification of people I can think of do whenever their cause is hijacked or their identity besmirched. Silence may not automatically imply consent, but it does invite suspicion.

To be sure, there are Muslims who have had precisely this reaction as well. But can anyone deny that the world would be a better place if more Muslims felt – and demonstrated – that terrorists were giving them a bad name?

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He can be contacted at:

goldbergcolumn@gmail.com

Twitter: @JonahNRO

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Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/09/13/muslims-should-be-first-loudest-to-debunk-isils-claim-on-islam/