There’s been a lot written about “Jihad” in western media and usually all of it is negative or apologetic. I’d like to present the personification of “Jihad” and how it looks in real time, real talk. Rose Hamid may never be compared to Rosa Parks, but her bravery and calmness in the face of unremitting vitriol and harassment make her impact to America’s social development as significant. She speaks for herself quite well and it’s what she said, how she said it and how she behaved under the taunting and obscenity directed at her that compels me to post this video. I salute Ms. Hamid and you should too.
Good thing he didn’t have a gun but alcohol and the absence of his medication more than made up for his assault on a woman who was where she was supposed to be minding her own business who was also a Muslim. The attacker is also a white supremacist who hates police….the perfect profile of today’s American terrorist. He’s got all these things going on…he’s an alcoholic, taking medication for anxiety and a white supremacist…..how did he escape the attention of police? What’s really depressing is the woman he assaulted has been an American citizen longer than he has been alive. Perhaps she should have been the one beating the crap out of him!
Peter Kassig, an American is also an American Muslim who went to Syria to HELP Syrians not fight them and he is the latest hostage of the terror group ISIS to be threatened with death. In a letter to his parents he talks about how he is at peace with his religion and his decisions he made that took him to Syria but also that he is afraid of the uncertainty of death at the hands of this terror group. Is there anyone who still thinks the group has anything to do with Islam? It kills its native sons from all over the world; sounds more fascist than Islamist.
A report released this week has at last confirmed what we Muslim Americans have long known to be true: the threat posed to US national security by the radicalisation of its Muslim community is minuscule.
The study, by the Triangle Centre on Terrorism and Homeland Security, found that only 20 Muslim Americans were charged with violent crimes related to terrorism in 2011, and of the 14,000 homicides recorded in the United States in that year, not one was committed by a Muslim extremist.
We are thrilled that an objective, comprehensive investigation has revealed that only a tiny percentage of American Muslims support violent acts. However, we remain concerned that the greater danger to America’s civic union comes from an increasingly organised campaign that portrays all Muslims as potential terrorists and traitors.
Yes, there may be some Muslims who resort to violence; but it’s clear that these individuals signify nothing more than a statistical aberration, and are no more representative of the Muslim community as a whole than Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, or Anders Behring Breivik represent Christianity.
In recent years a network of politically motivated special interests has emerged that is determined to stigmatise and marginalise Muslims in all areas of American public life. After the Cordoba Initiative’s proposal to build an Islamic community centre near Ground Zero were distorted into a manufactured controversy by one such group, we were called “stealth jihadists” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. One person even claimed: “They seem like nice people now, but they will probably turn into extremists in 10, 15, or 20 years.”
What began as the work of fringe groups with racist ideologies has moved into the mainstream. The Islamophobic film The Third Jihad was played continuously between training sessions for new recruits to New York’s police. The film-makers were linked to an organised movement with a budget of more than $40m and sophisticated lobbying efforts in all 50 states.
Republican congressman Peter King – even as opponents questioned his own ties to IRA and Catholic terrorism in Ireland – convened a series of congressional hearings on the radicalisation of American Muslims that can only be described as a witch hunt. And on the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates from Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have used their platform to demonise American Muslims and question our loyalty to our country.
It was not always this way. Following the 9/11 attacks President Bush, at the Islamic Centre of Washington, said: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam … When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world … America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.”
Our allies in the interfaith and civil rights communities are working to counteract the fabricated opposition to Islam that is gaining strength in America today. In response to King’s hearings, a coalition of 150 interfaith organisations sponsored a rally proclaiming “Today I am a Muslim too”. It is the Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University that took a lead in exposing the New York City Police Department’s missteps with regards to the Muslim community.
We know that the bulk of the American public recognises the truth of Islamic moderation and tolerance. The hysterical invective may be well-funded, but it does not capture the heart of the nation. By standing tall together we will overcome those who spread hate and suspicion and return respect and trust to their rightful place at the centre of American political and civic life.
Michael Migliore an American citizen who was put on the no-fly list by US authorities possibly because he refused to talk to the FBI without a lawyer had to end his way to Italy by train from the West Coast and then by boat to England. The story doesn’t end there however, he was detained by authorities before the boat he was in even made it to port in Suffolk, England.
Migliore was responsible enough to make his way to Europe by 19th century means because of how the US government categorized him, but it seems that “brand” followed him to England as well which underscores the pernicious nature of the no-fly lists. Migliore’s crime seems to be being Muslim, knowing someone who was charged with terrorism and not talking to the FBI about that relationship without a lawyer (something any seasoned lawyer would advise and which he has the right to do). What this says is the federal government wants to rescind the right to have someone present when authorities talk to you AND the government wants to punish you for exercising your right to freedom of religion. That a 21 year old university graduate has to fight this fight against the two greatest powers in the world, the US and the UK, is shameful and disgusting. That no one or very few people in America is up in arms about this violation of Migliore’s inalienable rights is further indication of how close this country is to abandoning the principles of its Founding Fathers.
- Frequent flier fracas: Muslims face travel woes (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US Citizens Arrested, Interrogated, and Stranded Overseas (skydancingblog.com)
John Walker Lindh, the American who was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan at the very beginning of the Afghan/Iraq war and his subsequent mistreatment both by the Bush Administration and corporate media, which marked the beginning of America’s decent into lawlessness and criminality has always had a stalwart defender in his father Frank Lindh. The senior Lindh wrote a lengthy, detailed piece for The Guardian newspaper earlier this summer asserting his son’s innocence against the charges of terrorism leveled by Bush’s justice department and proclaiming that the son, John met bin laden at some point BEFORE 911 but wasn’t impressed with him and felt no desire to do whatever it was bin laden wanted done in the way of terror. He also says John was in Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance who at one point was even at odds with the Bush Administration, the implication being Lindh was doing America’s dirty work in fighting the NA until 911 happened. Below is an excerpt; the entire article is linked above
As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.
John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.
In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.
“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.
John remains silent.
“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”
Still no reply.
Tyson to Spann [for John’s benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”
I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.
John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”
Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.
There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group.
By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.
On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.
That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.
The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.
Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.
I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”
John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.
A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Times criticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.
Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.
Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.
In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.
On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.
In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.
Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”
John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.
In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.
At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.
The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.
On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.
John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”
After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.
Americans, and those who live within its borders, come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and while some of the American dream and the meaning of the words, ‘send me your tired and your poor; your huddled masses yearning to be free’ has not always turned out the way those huddled masses wanted at the time, America has been a largely successful experiment.
It is however, a work in progress, continually defined, reshaped, molded in a way that meets the needs of most of the 300 million plus who live within its borders. America has seen all sorts of people come and go. Many have blended and integrated themselves into the social fabric, indistinguishable from the whole, while others have chosen to retain their identities. The common thread has always been the rule of law that’s kept the entire cloth from unravelling.
Sure there are times in the Nation’s history we can point to when the administration of the law has not been equitable, but social agitation (something sorely missed in today’s citizenry) always corrected that inequity which resulted in a better mix of brown, whites, reds, and yellows. We discovered along the way that it wasn’t necessary to lose those colors or attitudes in the elixir of America; that sometimes it was healthy to keep them distinguished not seperated, visible, not homogenized, ‘in order to form a more perfect union.’
So it is that now we have black, white, Jew, Gentile, Muslim unbeliever living, perhaps askew, but in relative peace and with the knowledge they can take their grievance to the Law should the need arise. This is what happened to Amal Hersi a Somali American Muslim woman who was told service at a credit union was only possible if she blended and forsake her Muslim identity.
For Amal this was not an option, so she took her case to a higher authority, in this instance the people in charge of the credit union. No doubt the employee of the bank forgot their roots, forgot that despite the finely coiffed hair and contemporary styled clothes they wore that day, they most likely had an acestor, perhaps not too far in their past who looked like Amal and chose to stay that way…….or not. Most likely that distant relative decided when he/she ran into an obdurate public servant bent on defining their place in the American fabric they weren’t going to bend and that act of resistance made it possible for Amal to refuse today, which made the quilt that much more pretty and pliable for the common good.
Muslim women in the West have defined their role as one of modesty wrapped in clothes they’ve chosen to express their identity. In most cases, if not all, it is their conscious choice to wear hijab just as they also choose to obey the law and just as there is no penalty for embracing the latter, neither should there be for the former. The officials of the credit union, more in touch with the spirit of the Law than the wayward employee who started this all, recognized that instantly and issued a statement which said in part:
Navy Federal values and respects all its members. Working with the law enforcement community, we have recently implemented a policy to make sure we can positively identify everyone we serve in our many branches.
Navy Federal weighed very carefully the need to accommodate religious and cultural customs, as well as medical conditions. Our policy does not prohibit nor discourage the use of headscarves, and will make sure it’s thoroughly understood to all employees.
I salute them and nothing further needs to be addressed to them. To the employee who lost her way I would encourage a quick visual primer on American history. Perhaps they will see someone they know or someone who looks like them. While they’re at it they’ll most likely see someone who looks like Amal Hersi too.