Tuesday, September 21, 2010

curiouser and curiouser

One seriously has to wonder at not only Feisal Abdul Rauf's reactionary politics, but also his judgement on who he chooses to hang out with, and who ends up supporting such a project! We might not know the specifics of what Mr. Rauf had in mind when he first thought up Park 51, but we can get a good idea by looking at some of his supporters.

Ameena Meer formed an organization "Muslims for Peace" to raise funds for the Park 51 project, and here is what she was raising funds for:

As for the charges against Imam Feisal, as someone who listened to his new-agey-self-searching qutbahs over the past 15 years, they were down to a word, spiritual and reassuringly apolitical. He never failed to remind us to be grateful for being American Muslims.

Really? Mr. Rauf is "apolitical?" Of-course he is not, he just refuses to discuss US imperialism, he has no problem with being political, so long as he is opportunistically serving the US regimes (both Bush and Obama).

we need the points of view of all Muslims who are open to dialogue, from Hamza Yusuf and Reza Aslan,Irshad Manji, Parvez Sharma, El-Farouk Khaki and anyone else who wants to make peace with his or her faith.

All of whom are supporters of empire at best, with some of 'em outright anti-Islam and anti-Muslim (yes I count Hamza Yusuf as a pro-empire figure.) Where does she get the idea that (aside from Hamza Yusuf) those others want to make "peace" with Islam? They are already at peace with their pro-empire/zionist faith!

And then there is this:

The director of the "Amityville Horror" remake says he's been subjected to a real-life nightmare courtesy of an ex-wife who duped him into thinking he was a dad -- for 17 years.

It wasn't until Andrew Douglas took a paternity test last year that he learned Ameena Meer had conned him into thinking he was the father of her daughter, court papers say -- and now he wants his ex to pay through the nose for the heartbreaking lie.
He's suing her for $671,991 in damages -- the amount he has paid in child support over the years -- as well as legal costs for their 1999 divorce, and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

Meer, the head of Muslims for Peace, an organization that has been collecting donations for the mosque near Ground Zero, denied intentionally misleading her ex. "Of course I didn't lie," she said.

Friday, September 17, 2010

how rats flee a sinking raft

While reading Ikhras's post on Hussein Ibish I thought just how ironic the whole Park 51 situation has become. Hussein Ibish, as regular readers of this blog might remember, was one of the original founders of the Progressive Muslim Union North America (PMUNA) and a search of this blog will turn up numerous entries on his antics.

But at the time, six years back, many of the proggies were quite happy with Feisal Abdul Rauf (although, I've not been able to find any specific references of Ibish lovin' Rauf - if someone does, please leave that info. in the comment section.)

Here we have an article by Raheel Raza of the reactionary statement issuing mill Muslim Canadian Congress written in November of 2004 on the founding of the PMUNA (I refuse to link to their website, but a google search will turn up references).

I went to NYC ostensibly to attend the launch of the Progressive Muslims Union of North America and I got there two days early. My hosts in Manhattan are part of a group that had decided that through science and technology, Ramadan and Eid can be predicted in advance so that Muslims can begin and end together. The decision was for a Sunday Eid and they invited me to join them at the Eid prayer and celebration.

We drove to the Dorral Arrowood Convention Center in Rye Brook New York where the auspicious event was arranged by ASMA (American Sufi Muslims Association). 300 men, women and children prayed together in the great Ballroom – yes, side by side with no partition. These people have broken away from the traditional mosque culture (where usually women are relegated to another area) because they want to offer prayers with their families, friends and loved ones, and they took another bold step by inviting an Imam of their choice. And what a brilliant choice!

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is a dynamic man with a vision as large as his heart. Author of a new book titled “What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims in the West”, he was educated in England and Malaysia and has a degree in Physics from Columbia University. Founder and CEO of the American Sufi Muslim Association (ASMA Society) and Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City, twelve blocks from Ground Zero, he has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West and is a leader in the effort to build religious pluralism and integrate Islam into modern American society.

Regarded as one of the world’s most eloquent and erudite Muslim leaders, Imam Feisal is a charismatic public speaker and has appeared in national and international media such as CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and BBC. He has been quoted in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Jerusalem Post, and Associated Press.

The Imam’s sermon could have been easily accepted in a church, synagogue or temple as he spoke about two kinds of religion – good and bad. He talked about Islam with a small “i” and said it means submission to God by anyone: Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist. This must have sat well with John Bennet, a lone Buddhist in the congregation who heads Imam’s Feisal’s Cordoba Initiative. Imam Feisal is the architect of the Cordoba Initiative, an inter-religious blueprint for improving relations between America and the Muslim world and pursuing Middle East peace. As a tireless advocate for an ecumenical solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has impressed his vision on US lawmakers and administration officials, most recently as member of the National Inter-religious Initiative For Peace in Washington DC.

Young people surrounded the Imam after the sermon but the surprise did not end there for me. Following the prayer, there was brunch and live music – some enthusiastic families also indulged in a bit of ‘bhangra’. I was also astounded to see the Imam’s wife does not cover her head. Daisy Khan leads women in prayer at their mosque and is involved in interfaith dialogue at an international level. Upon my questioning, she said “I’ve done my own ijtihad (research and reasoning) and found that modest dress is what is required so I believe this is fine for me.” Wow, I felt I had found the ‘progressive’ Muslims.

And now she has this to say about Abdul Rauf:

"A hundred million dollars can help people sell their souls" (3:26)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

who's who on Council of Foreign Relations

The Council of Foreign Relations is a pro-empire "think-tank." Its membership includes such imperial luminaries as:

Dick Cheney
Condoleezza Rice
Paul Wolfowitz
Robert M. Gates
John D. Negroponte
Richard Perle
Leslie Gelb
Colin Powell
Alice Rivlin
Madeleine Albright
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Henry Kissinger

The CFR Religious Advisory Committee includes some interesting Muslim names:

Feisal Abdul Rauf

Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Los Angeles, CA

Reza Aslan

Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel has joined the ultra Zionist (and I mean that in all of its negativity) ADL organization that is now supposedly going to be taking on anti-Muslim issues - yeah right. Eboo Patel has previously hooked up with war criminals, so this step is not much of a surprise.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Park 51: A manufactured controversy

While I think the article below accurately analyzes the geopolitical aspect of this manufactured controversy, I would caution readers with regards to other aspects, because it relies too heavily on reporting done by Asra Nomani who, as regular readers of this blog will remember, is not exactly a credible source, and herself has a background in manufacturing controversies (she was one of the main forces around the Amina Wadud led Friday prayers manufactured controversy.)

Asra Nomani:

"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."

It could be that Feisal Abdul Rauf and his friends (that includes Asra Nomani) may be looking for a scapegoat in this affair, and may use the developer, who initially paid for the site, as an excuse to back out.

The plot hatched maybe thick, but Muslims should focus on opposing Islamophobia, and at the same time raise issues about the legitimacy of "leadership" exercised by Abdul Rauf, his wife Daisy Khan, and their circle:

The entire ‘911’ Mosque controversy has been made into world news by CNN and other select media. The US head of the military command in Afghanistan, General Petraeus got into the fray with a plea to the Florida pastor not to burn Korans, a move which naturally led several other wanna-be preacher bigots to say they too planned to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center event. The President, Barack Obama, got into the act by praising the building of the mosque as a symbol of Americans’ religious freedom and tolerance.

At the end of the day it all fuelled a “Clash of Civilization” tension across America, and had the convenient effect, whether the mosque is built on the site or not, of reinforcing the US Government version of the collapse of the World Trade towers on September 11, 2001, namely that the destruction was carried out by two commercial hijacked jets being deftly rerouted into the two towers. And that the Boeing jets had been allegedly hijacked by 19 Arab students, armed only with paper box cutters, who had just been trained at a Florida flight school to fly small Cessna-size private planes. By keeping alive the myth of the “Second Pearl Harbor,” as George W. Bush once called 9/11, perhaps some people such as Barack Obama or General Petraeus hope to keep attention on the need for US military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, or even spreading the war beyond Afghanistan.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tariq Ramadan opposition to Park 51 - for the wrong reasons

Tariq Ramadan, interviewed on Democracy Now expressed his sympathies for the bigot Islamophobes and recommended against the Park 51 project from going forward:

So, in my position, if this is a symbol—and we have to listen to this collective sensitivity of the Americans after what happened in September the 11th—is to say, look, on that, we can understand. We are not accepting anything which has to do with, you know, a free Muslim zone, but we should listen to what is said and what is felt.

Ramadan's position is confused, to say the least, and anyone listening and/or reading the transcript can see that obviously enough. Essentially what he says is that while Muslims should continue struggling for our rights, we must also try to understand Islamophabia, and not thread on this "collective sensitivity." It is like saying to the attacker: "I'm so sorry I hurt you with my presence, let me go ahead and move back to the back of the bus" an apology for being Muslim.

And it is also very similar to Feisal Abdul Rauf's statement:

Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them, the imam said; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West and Israel.

All the time we are supposed to ignore the horrendous crimes committed against Muslims by the US/British regimes.

Ramadan at the close of the interview does mention that the Park 51 project is supported by the US State Department, but this is, of-course, not the reason for his opposition.

I think that I would just take—you know, something which is to consult the community. I think that it was a project on his own he was going to have and supported by the State Department, supported by other religious communities, and there is a lack of internal communication. I think that this is where the problem started.

To understand this position, we would like to remind our readers that Tariq Ramadan is not all that different from Feisal Abdul Rauf: Ramadan was an advisor to the criminal Blair regime and serves a similar function as that of Rauf. The difference is that Ramadan did (at one time) have a significant following in Europe, Rauf on the other hand focused almost all of his energies on acting on behalf of the US regimes.

IF the Park 51 project should go ahead at its present location, it needs to be inclusive of the Palestinian, anti-war, and other social justice groups. And Feisal Abdul Rauf, being a US regime's spokesperson, should be removed from any and all leadership positions. Opposition to Park 51 should not be based on lending a sympathetic ear to bigotry.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Park 51 CIA connections

An interesting article on the Park 51 project's advisory board member's CIA connections, nothing surprising but a good read:

...one of the earliest backers of the nonprofit group, the Cordoba Initiative, that is spearheading the Ground Zero mosque, is a 52-year-old Scarsdale, New York, native named R. Leslie Deak. In addition to serving on the group's board of advisors since its founding in 2004 by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Deak was its principal funder, donating $98,000 to the nonprofit between 2006 and 2008. This figure appears to represent organization's total operating budget—though, oddly, the group reported receipts of just a third of that total during the same time period.

Leslie Deak's resume also notes his role as "business consultant" for Patriot Defense Group, LLC, a private defense contractor with offices in Winter Park, Florida, and in Tucson. The only names listed on the firm's website are those of its three "strategic advisers." These include retired four-star General Bryan "Doug" Brown, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command until 2007, where he headed "all special operations forces, both active duty and reserve, leading the Global War On Terrorism," and James Pavitt, former deputy director for operations at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he "managed the CIA's globally deployed personnel and nearly half of its multi-billion dollar budget" and "served as head of America's Clandestine Service, the CIA's operational response to the attacks of September 11, 2001."

Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid on Park 51

Eid Mubarak to all conscientious brothers and sisters.

Imam Talib, in an interview with Illume Magazine correctly points out:

“The way that this whole issue (Park 51) is playing out is the result of what I call a failed strategy on the part of Arab and southern Asian Muslims to be accepted into American society or assimilated into American society and a successful strategy on the part of the status quo [and] ruling class on the other hand.” Abdur-Rashid believes that the failed strategy of Arab and southern Asian Muslims was in not promoting a dialogue with African-American Muslims once they arrived in America, especially after the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Immigration Act of 1965.

“An important part of their assimilation strategy has been to put an immigrant face on Islam in America,” said Abdur-Rashid. “Many of the immigrants who have come here have been financially well off. This has enabled them to found influential national organizations as they pursue a strategy of empowerment. All immigrants want to be empowered; all immigrants want to be part of American society. They’ve worked to put an immigrant face on Islam in America.

“As these immigrants have come here, two things have happened. One is that their goal has been to assimilate into White America, since we all know there are two Americas. And the America that these southern Asian and Arab immigrants have strived to assimilate to is not the America you and I are sitting in right now,” said Abdur-Rashid. “In doing this, the fact is that they came to this country and, for the most part, ignored the presence of African-American Muslims. [They] made no attempt to link with us, work with us, dialogue with us.

“Up until the past couple of decades, when you said Islam and Muslims in America, people have always thought about African-Americans. All of the famous Muslims in America up until this decade have been African-Americans who have had a tremendous impact on American society. Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar. The list goes on.

“It’s failed not because these same Muslims had ill intent towards African-Americans; it was because they didn’t know the territory,” Abdur-Rashid continued. “They underestimated the underbelly of American society and the role that racism toward people of color has always played in American society. After Sept. 11, their artificial white privilege was revoked and they just became another kind of nigger in America. And the status quo started treating them like that.”

Imam Talib has made an important point, that just one or two other African - American Muslim leaders have also raised in recent months, most notably Imam Musa who has called for a move away from cathedral Islam in the US and towards a Re-Africanization of Islam in the US.

However, I would add that this business of assimilating into the worst aspects of the US is not just an immigrant Muslim phenomena, post 9-11, and even pre-9-11 African-American Muslims also embarked on this project. I need not go into those details in this blog entry, but I'm sure Imam Talib is not unfamiliar with this trend.

The question is whereto from here? The alphabet soup Muslim groups, given their dismal track record, have obviously failed in providing a clear response to the hate filled Islamophobia we have witnessed recently, and contrary to the blabber from Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim community center is *not* about to solve our concerns. But the controversy has succeeded in exposing the failure of this liberal/pro-regressive strategy of hooking up with the US State Department and becoming representatives of the Bush/Obama regimes.

What we need is a serious re-think not only on part of the immigrant Muslims, but also non-immigrant esp. African - American Muslims. This re-think is not all that complicated, and does not really require millions of $$$ spent on conferences (aka "halal" dating venues) - what is needed is a refocus of Muslims, in the US, on Islam, on social justice, on oppressed communities, focusing our energies on the horrendous situation in poor neighborhoods throughout the US - African-American, Latinos, Asians, and even poor Whites., a situation made dramatically worse because of the economic depression. And Muslims must put our fears aside, and also focus our energies on stopping the US empire's continued war crimes against our sisters and brother Muslims all over the world.

If Muslims had our act together, and were not into becoming the next great thing on Wall Street, or the US State Department, or spending energy on thanking people who don't care a hoot about Muslims perhaps we would have been on the forefront of organizing communities to withstand the robber baron thefts. Unfortunately, we are far behind, and there are not even a bare handful of Muslim groups that are involved in such serious, and Islamically required work. Instead, we have to contend with the likes of State Department designed "dream Muslims" who are nothing more than a distraction.

Inshallah, the events of these past few months, and the sincere prayers of our sisters and brothers will bring about a much needed change.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Moderate Muslim smokescreen- Dream Muslim

In fact, Abdul Rauf, who has been employed by the FBI to give sensitivity trainings and by US State Department to tour the Middle East and facelift the crumbling US image abroad, is described by supporters as a “dream Muslim.” Fareed Zakaria, the hawkish pundit affiliated with The Council on Foreign Relations, went so far as to return the medal given to him by the Anti-Defamation League after the ADL voiced its disapproval of the Center and its founder.

“Dream Muslim” is an interesting designation, especially as Abdul Rauf was unknown to the majority of the Muslim Americans before Park 51. His career has been more devoted towards ambassadorship of Islam, particularly to government circles, than outreach to Muslim Americans themselves.

If the soul of “moderate” Islam is the issue at hand, there is something amiss in designating as representative, an individual possessing little equity with the 10 million-strong demographic of Muslim Americans. According to Zakaria, Feisal Abdul Rauf, “has spent years trying to offer a liberal interpretation of Islam” and “argues that America is actually what an ideal Islamic society would look like because is it peaceful, tolerant and pluralistic.” Equating Islam with an America whose roots lie paradoxically in imperialist Protestant evangelicalism and Enlightenment god-abandonment, is hardly reassuring.

Meanwhile, the alphabet soup of Muslim and Arab organizations, in the US, continue their appeasement. They have obviously not learnt even an iota of a lesson from this manufactured "controversy." Ikhras reports:

Park51 continues to serve its house function; leading Muslims away from the urgent priorities of opposing the occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine and shifting Muslims’ attention to pleading for recognition from the empire and expressing gratitude for its acknowledgement of their legal rights. A number of recent examples on how the Arab-American and Muslim-American “leadership” encourages the Arab and Muslim communities to ignore Zionist politicians’ war crimes and thank them for consenting the establishment of an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan.