Monday, May 23, 2005

hanging out with the top brass...

Ziad Asali, the founder/president of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), is on the Progressive Muslim Union board of advisors. Hussein Ibish, the vice-chair of Progressive Muslim Union is a senior fellow at ATFP.

Asali's statements against the Palestinian right of return was recently condemned by dozens of grassroots Palestinian groups.

And here is a recent statement from ATFP on meeting the United States Secty of State: Rice.

The ATFP delegation will discuss with Secretary Rice the current situation in Israel-Palestine and how the United States can assist in improving the daily lives of Palestinians as well as providing them with a political horizon for the realization of President Bush's goal of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Huh? Bush's goal? Bush's goal? Bush has a goal? The guy who called Sharon a "man of peace" - he has a goal? Well he does no doubt, and not one that would be in the interest of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the Asra Nomani show went into top gear with an appearance on Nightline, here is a quote:

"If not america, where else? America has a history of bringing human rights to the world, of bringing social justice to the world. It is obviously from america that muslim women should do this."

Yeah OK, Nomani, "America has a history of bringing human rights to the world?" Quick, someone tell that to the Iraqis, and Afghans, and Palestinians --- don't worry about those bombs, and slaughter of over a 100K, just in the past year and half, in the war on Iraq. America is bringing social justice to the world!

Click here to read Zoltan Grossman's A century of US military interventions - and the slaughter of civillians associated with each "intervention."

We should not forget that The Amina Wadud (PMUNA advisory board member) media showcase was organized by Progressive Muslim Union Executive Director Ahmed Nassef, in conjunction with the "Asra Nomani Muslim Women's Freedom Tour."

Nomani's book was publicized right along side the Wadud event on the PMU "independent" media outlet: "Muslim Wake Up," her website was also designed by Ahmed Nassef ("Nassef Consulting").

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Designing Palestine

The Rand Corporation is the notorious think tank that came up with the notion of dividing up Muslims into "progressives/modernists" traditionalists, etc. and pitting them against each other... (These and other reports are often comissioned by the United States Air Force, and other arms of the US military/pentagon).

The recently formed group called "Progressive Muslim Union North American" (intentionally, or unintentionally) is ending up implementing the Rand Report.

The PMUNA's board of directors includes a former employee of the Rand corporation

- the "Progressive Muslim Union" board of advisors also includes the likes of Ziad Asali whose statements against the Palestinian right of return were widely condemned by dozens of Palestinians groups recently:

"From under the garb of hollow US democratization, Asali has in effect been diligently advancing the neo-conservative plan for the "New Middle East", where nations and people are reconstituted against their will."

Through organizations like American Task Force on Palestine, Asali has gone even beyond the Geneva Accords, the Nusseibeh-Ayalon Agreement and other such attempts that violate fundamental, inalienable and natural rights that are enshrined in international law.
It should be noted that Hussein Ibish, the vice chair of Progressive Muslim Union, is also a Senior Fellow at Ziad Asali's "American Task Force on Palestine"

However, the wider project is to completely re-design the "mid-east" and all Muslim majority areas of the world to fit in with the neo-con imperial designs...

The latest Rand project is to engage in Designing Palestine...

Forget about Palestinians, just sit in your office in Santa Monica, and design a state - that's how state and religion building is done these days...

Designing Palestine

On a Saturday in January last year, in his design studio in Santa Monica, Calif., all Doug Suisman had to go on were some maps and aerial photographs, an adrenaline spike supplied by a deadline, and the grandeur of his commission: design the state of Palestine.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Ugly and Ugly

There have been a couple of good recent articles regarding the latest Progressive Muslim Union NA media blitzes that are attempting to keep the "progressive muslim" brand distinctive.

On the latest media stunt...

Laugh? I nearly did!

Some background:

There is a marketing/brand promotion element to the Progressive Muslim Union campaigns, and Ahmed Nassef, the executive director of PMU NA, himself has a marketing background.

The PMU is being built around media hyped events. They use the mostly negative North American media attention focused on Muslims, to create a spectacle that would then give the PMU supporters and their high officials, prominancy in the American media. Being media savvy, they are fully aware of events that would get them this kind of exposure, and its implications for the Muslim community.

But media attention is only one part of any sucessful brand promotion campaign, that would then attract loyal consumers. The brand, in this case "progressive muslim union," must also appear to have integrity so that the consumer is willing to try out the product (in this case, the product is the "progressive islam" concept being manufactured by Omid Safi, secularist agnostic Hussein Ibish, Muslim Wake Up etc.).

BUT the brand has run into a snag: blogs! There are a number of Muslim blogs that have exposed the PMUNA: their lack of knowledge about Islam, their attacks on Muslim organizations, and cuddling up with right wing neo-con types such as FOX, and the anti-Palestinian group: Hillel.

Now Hussein Ibish is attempting to distinguish his brand from the other so-called "progressive/moderate Muslim" types. And in doing so he leaves out some critical facts about the PMUNA - such as that they had invited a bunch of neo-cons to their board, and only backed down on some of the most controversial characters, *after* they were exposed on the eve of their official launching.

An extended debate had taken place on various aspects of this group on the Network of Progressive Muslim e-list. During that debate - Ahmed Nassef, Omid Safi, Sara Eltantawi all defended their
choice of including these neo-cons on the basis of what they call "pluralism."

Hussein Ibish is one of the four co-founders of the PMUNA, and its vice-chair, and his name is part of the original invitation that was sent out, that included Bush lovers, and supporters of the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ibish is also a senior fellow of the "American Task Force on Palestine" whose founder, Ziad Asali was recently condemned by dozens of Palestinian groups. And Asali is also on the board of advisors of the PMU NA... surprise surprise!

The PMU may try to distinguish themselves, but it is their actions, and attitudes that determine what they are about. And given that they are more interested in attacking Muslim communities, and creating propaganda for Muslims' precieved lack of "progressiveness" - they are really not all that different from the other ugly "moderate/progressive" groups out there. It's Ugly and Ugly.

Indeed the PMU supporters regard the broader Muslim community as a "them" versus the good "us progressive types..." This is, of-course, exactly the kind of clear divisions that the Rand Corporation intended to accomplish. (A former employee of Rand is on their board of directors).

Meanwhile, the North American Muslim community might wanna tighten their seat belts, and hang on, as these nefarious groups attempt to take the community on a dangerous roller coaster ride. Perhaps best to watch the spectacle from the sidelines, and work on our own individual and collective iman during these times. And, at the same time to be aware that the "progressive muslim union" will continue striking at the North American Muslim community, and using the attack mode to push their own egotistical agendas.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Responding to "progressives"

Living Tradition Blog has an entry responding to Muqtedar Khan's recent article on MWU

... has carved out a place within the American mainstream media, but they haven’t made any significant changes within the American Muslim community.

Click here to read more

And over on the ihsan blog:

Once upon a time, such visits (to MWU) were at least sometimes enjoyable and even informative, but alas no longer. Instead, features have become dominated by self-promoting polemic and vituperative attacks on opponents or critics of the media event which was Amina Wadud's mixed-gender salah.

Click here to read more

And, meanwhile, the PMU NA has admitted Tariq Ali - a self proclaimed athiest - to its board of advisors (Tariq Ali has previously stated that he does not regard himself a Muslim). With athiests and agonistics (Hussein Ibish, vice-chair of PMUNA) engaged in the task of "reform" Islam, we have a better understanding of the kind of "Islam" the "Progressive Muslim Union" is manufacturing.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The rise and fall of Muslim Wake Up ?

Muslim Wake Up is a supposed "independent" web publication - whose "editor in-chief" Ahmed Nassef, is the executive director of "Progressive Muslim Union North America." Jawad Ali is the co-founder, and also acts as the editor of the web site.

While claiming "independence," the site serves as the editorial media outlet of the "Progressive Muslim Union." Rarely, if ever, opinions critical of the official position of the PMUNA are published on the site. As such, one might consider it to be the official mouthpiece/propaganda outlet of the PMU NA.

The above image for Muslim Wake Up "daily reach" is from Alexa, an online service that measures web site hits. While Alexa is not the most accurate, it does provide useful information when examining trends.

The spike reflects the Amina Wadud media show case event - for two-three weeks Muslim Wake Up pushed the event, and manufactured a controversy, drawing a large number of visitors to the site. Immediately after the event, the visitors disappeared, but not before the PMU executive director could boldly claim a "rising readership."

While other Islamic websites do have spikes, they can be traced to sacred periods in the Islamic calendar such as Hajj, Ramadan, and for Shi'a Muslim sites, the month of Muharram. Only Muslim Wake Up can lay claim to fame that it's spike is based on a media marketing gimmick.

The Living Tradition Blog had also done an analyses on MWU ?'s claims of popularity that you can view by clicking here.

Meanwhile, Muqtedar Khan who is on the advisory board of the PMU has written an article somewhat critical of MWU ? While the article is very mild, and fails to address many of the important issues that have been discussed here and on the Living Tradition Blog, and while there remains strong disagreements with Khan on many vital issues, the article does deserve a reading .

(And of-course, you won't find it on Pravda, I mean FOX, no, I mean... MWU ?).

Please return in a few days for a response to some of Khan's assertions.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Living Tradition on Asra Nomani

The Amina Wadud (PMUNA advisory board member) media showcase was organized by Progressive Muslim Union Executive Director Ahmed Nassef, in conjunction with the "Asra Nomani Muslim Women's Freedom Tour."

Nomani's book was publicized right along side the Wadud event on the PMU NA media outlet: "Muslim Wake Up."

The Living Tradition Blog has written a very good, and balanced review of Asra Nomani's latest.

Click here to read the review.