Big spender: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf allegedly spent more than $3 million that was meant for charity for personal gain
What is an imam? A prayer leader. It takes one to know one. When you can longer face Islam, Islam faces you.
Last summer national feelings erupted over religious freedom conerns about the controversial plan to build a mosque near ground zero. Issues of religious freedom clashed with sensitivity over the feelings of the victims’ families. Imam Abdul Rauf proposed the construction.
Building on Faith
By FEISAL ABDUL RAUF
Published: September 7, 2010
AS my flight approached America last weekend, my mind circled back to the furor that has broken out over plans to build Cordoba House, a community center in Lower Manhattan. I have been away from home for two months, speaking abroad about cooperation among people from different religions. Every day, including the past two weeks spent representing my country on a State Department tour in the Middle East, I have been struck by how the controversy has riveted the attention of Americans, as well as nearly everyone I met in my travels.
We have all been awed by how inflamed and emotional the issue of the proposed community center has become. The level of attention reflects the degree to which people care about the very American values under debate: recognition of the rights of others, tolerance and freedom of worship.
Many people wondered why I did not speak out more, and sooner, about this project. I felt that it would not be right to comment from abroad. It would be better if I addressed these issues once I returned home to America, and after I could confer with leaders of other faiths who have been deliberating with us over this project. My life’s work has been focused on building bridges between religious groups and never has that been as important as it is now.
We are proceeding with the community center, Cordoba House. More important, we are doing so with the support of the downtown community, government at all levels and leaders from across the religious spectrum, who will be our partners. I am convinced that it is the right thing to do for many reasons.
Above all, the project will amplify the multifaith approach that the Cordoba Initiative has deployed in concrete ways for years. Our name, Cordoba, was inspired by the city in Spain where Muslims, Christians and Jews co-existed in the Middle Ages during a period of great cultural enrichment created by Muslims. Our initiative is intended to cultivate understanding among all religions and cultures.
Our broader mission — to strengthen relations between the Western and Muslim worlds and to help counter radical ideology — lies not in skirting the margins of issues that have polarized relations within the Muslim world and between non-Muslims and Muslims. It lies in confronting them as a joint multifaith, multinational effort.
From the political conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians to the building of a community center in Lower Manhattan, Muslims and members of all faiths must work together if we are ever going to succeed in fostering understanding and peace.
At Cordoba House, we envision shared space for community activities, like a swimming pool, classrooms and a play space for children. There will be separate prayer spaces for Muslims, Christians, Jews and men and women of other faiths. The center will also include a multifaith memorial dedicated to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
I am very sensitive to the feelings of the families of victims of 9/11, as are my fellow leaders of many faiths. We will accordingly seek the support of those families, and the support of our vibrant neighborhood, as we consider the ultimate plans for the community center. Our objective has always been to make this a center for unification and healing.
Cordoba House will be built on the two fundamental commandments common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam: to love the Lord our creator with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength; and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We want to foster a culture of worship authentic to each religious tradition, and also a culture of forging personal bonds across religious traditions.
I do not underestimate the challenges that will be involved in bringing our work to completion. (Construction has not even begun yet.) I know there will be interest in our financing, and so we will clearly identify all of our financial backers.
Lost amid the commotion is the good that has come out of the recent discussion. I want to draw attention, specifically, to the open, law-based and tolerant actions that have taken place, and that are particularly striking for Muslims.
President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg both spoke out in support of our project. As I traveled overseas, I saw firsthand how their words and actions made a tremendous impact on the Muslim street and on Muslim leaders. It was striking: a Christian president and a Jewish mayor of New York supporting the rights of Muslims. Their statements sent a powerful message about what America stands for, and will be remembered as a milestone in improving American-Muslim relations.
The wonderful outpouring of support for our right to build this community center from across the social, religious and political spectrum seriously undermines the ability of anti-American radicals to recruit young, impressionable Muslims by falsely claiming that America persecutes Muslims for their faith. These efforts by radicals at distortion endanger our national security and the personal security of Americans worldwide. This is why Americans must not back away from completion of this project. If we do, we cede the discourse and, essentially, our future to radicals on both sides. The paradigm of a clash between the West and the Muslim world will continue, as it has in recent decades at terrible cost. It is a paradigm we must shift.
From those who recognize our rights, from grassroots organizers to heads of state, I sense a global desire to build on this positive momentum and to be part of a global movement to heal relations and bring peace. This is an opportunity we must grasp.
I therefore call upon all Americans to rise to this challenge. Let us commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 by pausing to reflect and meditate and tone down the vitriol and rhetoric that serves only to strengthen the radicals and weaken our friends’ belief in our values.
The very word “islam” comes from a word cognate to shalom, which means peace in Hebrew. The Koran declares in its 36th chapter, regarded by the Prophet Muhammad as the heart of the Koran, in a verse deemed the heart of this chapter, “Peace is a word spoken from a merciful Lord.”
How better to commemorate 9/11 than to urge our fellow Muslims, fellow Christians and fellow Jews to follow the fundamental common impulse of our great faith traditions?
Contrast these two web-sites — decide for yourself which one conveys the truth about the religion of “peace.”
Left-handed pundits lobbed grenades about ignorance and intolerance while neglecting the facts. By allowing illegal immigrants to infiltrate the four corners of our country from Florida to Maine, by allowing manufacturing to dwindle in the name of capitalism, by allowing Somalis to create another barren Muslim population in our country, the Democrat-dominated government over the past four decades has created a rash of self-inflicted wounds that have festered to the point where our nation’s decline is evident to even the myopic. The greatest gash which, the Democrats voted for, was the Iraq War, because they, like the Republicans failed to inform themselves about the facts. Below is a another salient set of facts ignored by the mainstream electronic media, political leaders and the punditry on the Liberal left and the righteous Right.
Alice (34 friends, send message) wrote: 12h 27m ago
Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat
Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.
Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.
Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.
When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.
Here’s how it works:
As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:
United States — Muslim 0.6%
Australia — Muslim 1.5%
Canada — Muslim 1.9%
China — Muslim 1.8%
Italy — Muslim 1..5%
Norway — Muslim 1.8%
At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs.
This is happening in:
Denmark — Muslim 2%
Germany — Muslim 3.7%
United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
Spain — Muslim 4%
Thailand — Muslim 4.6%
From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for
Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:
France — Muslim 8%
Philippines — 5%
Sweden — Muslim 5%
Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%
At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.
When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris , we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam , with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in:
Guyana — Muslim 10%
India — Muslim 13.4%
Israel — Muslim 16%
Kenya — Muslim 10%
Russia — Muslim 15%
After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:
Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%
At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:
Bosnia — Muslim 40%
Chad — Muslim 53.1%
Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%
From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and ***ya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:
Albania — Muslim 70%
Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
Sudan — Muslim 70%
After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:
Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
Egypt — Muslim 90%
Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
Iran — Muslim 98%
Iraq — Muslim 97%
Jordan — Muslim 92%
Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
Pakistan — Muslim 97%
Palestine — Muslim 99%
Syria — Muslim 90%
Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%
100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of Peace. Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:
Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
Somalia — Muslim 100%
Yemen — Muslim 100%
Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.
Ground Zero Imam: ‘I Don’t Believe in Religious Dialogue’
Exclusive new translations from Arabic websites reveal Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf seriously misleads New Yorkers about his intention to infiltrate Sharia law through his Ground Zero mosque. (Don’t miss PJTV’s coverage of the Ground Zero mosque story.)
May 27, 2010 – by Walid Shoebat
Is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — founder of the hugely controversial Ground Zero mosque — lying to the American public and his fellow New Yorkers?
Pajamas Media has uncovered extraordinary contradictions between what he says in English and what he says in Arabic that raise serious questions about his true intentions in the construction of the mosque.
On May 25, 2010, Abdul Rauf wrote an article for the New York Daily News insisting:
My colleagues and I are the anti-terrorists. We are the people who want to embolden the vast majority of Muslims who hate terrorism to stand up to the radical rhetoric. Our purpose is to interweave America’s Muslim population into the mainstream society. [emphasis added]
Only two months before, on March 24, 2010, Abdul Rauf is quoted in an article in Arabic for the website Rights4All entitled “The Most Prominent Imam in New York: ‘I Do Not Believe in Religious Dialogue.’”
Yes, you read that correctly and, yes, that is an accurate translation of Abdul Rauf. And Right4All is not an obscure blog, but the website of the media department of Cairo University, the leading educational institution of the Arabic-speaking world.
In the article, the imam said the following of the “religious dialogue” and “interweaving into the mainstream society” that he so solemnly seems to advocate in the Daily News and elsewhere:
This phrase is inaccurate. Religious dialogue as customarily understood is a set of events with discussions in large hotels that result in nothing. Religions do not dialogue and dialogue is not present in the attitudes of the followers, regardless of being Muslim or Christian. The image of Muslims in the West is complex which needs to be remedied.
But that was two months ago. More recently — in fact on May 26, one day after his Daily News column – Abdul Rauf appeared on the popular Islamic website Hadiyul-Islam with even more disturbing opinions. That’s the same website where, ironically enough, a fatwa was simultaneously being issued forbidding a Muslim to sell land to a Christian, because the Christian wanted to build a church on it.
In his interview on Hadiyul-Islam by Sa’da Abdul Maksoud, Abdul Rauf was asked his views on Sharia (Islamic religious law) and the Islamic state. He responded:
Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed. [emphasis added]
When questioned about this, Abdul Rauf continued: “Current governments are unjust and do not follow Islamic laws.” He added:
New laws were permitted after the death of Muhammad, so long of course that these laws do not contradict the Quran or the Deeds of Muhammad … so they create institutions that assure no conflicts with Sharia. [emphasis in translation]
In yet plainer English, forget the separation of church and state. Abdul Rauf’s goal is the imposition of Shariah law — in every country, even democratic ones like the U.S.
But these attitudes are nothing new for the (alas, few) people who have been paying attention. Way back on September 30, 2001, Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed on 60 Minutes by host Ed Bradley. Their verbatim dialogue from this CBS News transcript concluded:
BRADLEY: Are — are — are you in any way suggesting that we in the United States deserved what happened?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.
BRADLEY: OK. You say that we’re an accessory?
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Yes.
Imam ABDUL RAUF: Because we have been an accessory to a lot of — of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, it — in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laden is made in the USA.
This is the “anti-terrorist” of the Daily Newsarticle?
The Feisal Abdul Rauf who spoke to 60 Minutes in 2001 is the same Abdul Rauf who, in the last couple of months, espoused the spread of Sharia law on Arabic websites and said the opposite in the pages of the Daily News. He is the man New York City authorities are about to allow to build a mosque on Ground Zero.
Caveat emptor. Meanwhile, perhaps some enterprising reporter should ask Abdul Rauf his opinion of that fatwa forbidding Muslims from selling land to Christians who intend to build a church on it.
Lebanese Liberal: Cordoba Initiative Chairman Abdul Rauf Is Not Truly Moderate
Posted on Friday Oct 15th at 8:02am
In a September 19, 2010 article on the liberal website Elaph, Lebanese journalist Joseph Bishara wrote that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, does not really believe in tolerance. He stated that Rauf is deceiving the public based on the Islamic principle of taqiyya (concealing one’s true beliefs) – that is, he is hiding his real intentions, which are to spread Islam in the U.S. while exploiting the liberties granted him by the U.S. Constitution.
Following are excerpts from Bishara’s article:
“Abdul Rauf’s Statements Raised Many Questions In My Mind – For I Do Not Believe That Islam Is Compatible With the Principles and Customs of American Society”
“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is mentioned almost daily on the news, ever since he entered into conflict with over 70% of the American public over the mosque he wishes to build near [the former site of] the Twin Towers in New York. Until quite recently, most people had never even heard of him, but now he has become one of the [country's] biggest celebrities, pursued by news agencies and media channels [alike]. He became famous after he and some of his Muslim partners purchased an old building, only a few meters away from [Ground Zero], in order to build, according to his statement, a large public facility that will include a mosque.
“Abdul Rauf provoked the American public when he released his plan [to build his Islamic center] near the place that, in the Americans’ eyes, has been sanctified by the blood of the hundreds [sic] of people who died in the 9/11 attacks.
“The American right is using all its influence to try and persuade the public to demand the removal of the planned mosque to another location. To this end, it is presenting Abdul Rauf’s statements and positions [to the public], so as to show that the man is not [really] moderate, that their apprehensions are well-founded, namely that the building of the mosque will be construed by the extremist Islamists as a victory…
“The American right accuses Abdul Rauf of extremism, of supporting terrorist organizations, and of refusing to condemn terror. Among his statements that the Americans have presented as damning are his claim that the U.S. administration was behind 9/11, that bin Laden is a product of U.S. [policy], that the 9/11 attacks benefited Islam and constitute an important milestone in the history of Islam in the U.S., and that the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. is larger than the number of Americans killed in 9/11.
“The Americans have also criticized Abdul Rauf for refusing to condemn terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah, and for saying that the U.S. must admit it has harmed Muslims [if it wants] terrorism to stop.
“I was disinclined to accept the position of the right-wing American media on Rauf without any evidence, so I decided… to follow his statements in order to discover what he is like and what his positions really are. One of his statements that caught my attention had to do with his efforts to Americanize Islam. He did not explain what he meant by this, so [the statements] was difficult to understand. I asked myself: How is it possible to paint Islam in American colors, when the Muslims condemn the U.S. as a land of heresy and hedonism, and as a land of perversions and licentiousness?
“Abdul Rauf’s statements raised many questions in my mind, for I do not believe that Islam is compatible with the principles and customs of American society, which are based upon the sanctifying of complete freedom… I told myself: if American culture is compatible with Islam, why then do Islamic scholars associate it with the devil’s unholiness, and why do most Muslims throughout the world reject it?…
“After thinking long and hard about Abdul Rauf’s statements, which stirred many doubts [in my mind] about the man, I concluded that his statement [about Americanizing Islam] could have [only three possible goals]: to generate a media storm, to convince the Americans that Islam is tolerant and can advance along with the culture in which it exists, or to convince the Americans that Islam and the American culture have principles in common. I rejected the second and third goals, because I believe that Islam, which is regarded by its adherents as sacred and absolute, is not compatible with American culture, which allows individuals to reject the absolute and rebel against the sacred.”
The Islamic Shari’a Is Incompatible with the U.S. Constitution
“A few days after making his statement about Americanizing Islam, Adbul Rauf made another statement – a very strange one that increased my suspicions regarding the goals of his illogical proclamations. He said that ’90% of the laws of the Islamic shari’a are fully compatible with the Articles of the American Constitution,’ and that ‘the disagreements between the two are few and insignificant.’ This statement is not merely puzzling but [totally] ludicrous.
“Abdul Rauf seems to think, with peculiar naiveté, that all those who hear him are stupid and ignorant, and know nothing about the real facts… because I know that the Islamic shari’a grants privileges only to Muslims, and not to others. The laws of the shari’a do not treat non-Muslims as [equal] citizens, but as dhimmis, who do not have the same rights and duties as Muslims. I asked myself: how can the shari’a be fully compatible with the U.S. Constitution? How can the seven Articles of the U.S. Constitution, which safeguard its institutionalized secular democracy that guarantee freedoms and equality to [all] citizens, be compatible with the Islamic shari’a, which places the fate of countries and peoples in the hands of an unworthy religious elite?
“The U.S. Constitution is man-made, modern and compatible with [today's] reality. It separates church from state; guarantees [rights] and dignity [even] to criminals; grants freedom of speech, worship and the press; prohibits violating the citizens’ right to protection; grants equal [status] to all citizens and [safeguards] the political rights of women.
“How can this constitution be compatible with the Islamic shari’a, which is immutable and not compatible with the times, makes religion a political matter and politics a religious matter, [advocates] chopping off body parts [as a punishment for criminals], designates Islam as the true religion and all other religions as heresy, threatens the safety of non-Muslims and treats them as dhimmis… and subjects women to male domination?”
Imam Abdul Rauf Is Deceiving the Public
“Imam Abdul Rauf’s statements raised many questions that I could not answer. But all these questions helped me understand that he is mocking the Americans, while counting on [the fact that] most of them are ignorant of the facts, on the American law that guarantees his rights… and on the Americans’ fear of terrorism and their wish never to see another event like 9/11.
“Imam Abdul Rauf calls for moderation, but his actions say otherwise. He is not trying to Americanize Islam, as he claims, because that is not possible. [On the contrary], he is trying to Islamize America by demanding to implement the Islamic shari’a and through his attempt to convince the Americans that Islam and the Islamic shari’a are compatible with the American culture and constitution.
“Abdul Rauf says he is trying to build bridges among religions, and that he is a man of peace trying to illuminate the tolerant face of Islam. But his illogical statements and his provocative actions reveal him in a different light. He is employing [the principle of] taqiyya, which is sanctioned by the shari’a, in order to Islamize America.”
 www.elaph.com, September 19, 2010.
 A principle which permits a Muslim to conceal his true beliefs or intentions, in order to protect his life or attain a worthy goal.
Saudi Prince Opposes ‘Ground Zero Mosque’
by Maayana Miskin
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed announced Thursday that he is not behind the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City, and on the contrary, he does not support the project in its current location. The prince spoke to the Arabian Business news website.
“I heard and saw a lot of news about me being associated with it, and it is all wrong. We did not finance this thing,” Al-Waleed said.
He said he opposes the location of the planned facility, close to Ground Zero, the site where the World Trade Center was demolished in the 9/11 attack nine years ago. “First of all, those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York, and not try to agitate the wound by saying, ‘we need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site,’” he said. “The wound is still there… I am against putting the mosque there out of respect for those people who have been wounded over there.”
He also expressed opposition to the location due to the businesses nearby. “The mosque has to be in a dignified location. It can’t be next to a bar or strip club, or in a neighborhood that is not refined and good,” he explained.
Muslims have the right to built a mosque where they want, the prince said, but should show respect and move it by choice. “Ten years ago is nothing when you talk about history,” he added.
Jan 8, 1:33 PM EST
Official: 11 dead in new violence in central Nigerian city plagued by religious fighting
By AHMED SAKA
JOS, Nigeria — Christian youths attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in central Nigeria, killing seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence that left one other person dead, an official said Saturday.
Another three people were killed and several others were wounded Saturday in Jos, when a meeting of a political party aligned with former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari collapsed into violence, witnesses said.
It was the latest unrest in a fertile region that saw more than 500 people killed last year in massacres pitting Christians against Muslims.
On Saturday, gunshots echoed through the troubled city of Jos, causing store owners to close their shops and families to hide inside their homes.
The violence began as Christian youths blocked a road leading from a neighboring village Friday night, trapping the Muslims inside their car, said lawyer Ahmed Garba, a member of an Islamic religious council. Garba told journalists Saturday that seven people died in the attack and one person survived.
Garba said once news of the attack spread, Muslims began retaliatory violence in the streets of Jos that has left at least one person dead.
Manassie Panpe, the Red Cross’ state secretary, said officials from the aid organization had found several injured people in the streets Saturday but that information remained scarce.
Nigeria, an oil-rich country of 150 million people, is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south. Jos is in the nation’s “middle belt,” where dozens of ethnic groups vie for control of fertile lands.
The Jos violence, though fractured across religious lines, often has more to do with local politics, economics and rights to grazing lands. The government of Plateau state, where Jos is the capital, is controlled by Christian politicians who have blocked Muslims from being legally recognized as citizens. That has locked many out of prized government jobs in a region where the tourism industry and tin mining have collapsed in the last decades.
On Christmas Eve, two bombs went off near a large market in Jos where people were doing last-minute Christmas shopping. A third hit a mainly Christian area of Jos, while the fourth was near a road that leads to the city’s main mosque.
Officials initially said at least 32 died from the blasts, while an official with the National Emergency Management Agency told journalists that he had counted 80 deaths from the explosions and the retaliatory violence that followed.
An Internet message attributed to a radical Muslim sect known in northern Nigeria as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks. However, the sect had never carried out an attack in that region before.
As the violence began, a political party known as the Congress for Progressive Change was holding a local meeting in Jos. Plateau state police commissioner Abdurrahman Akano told journalists Saturday that the party held its meeting at a different location than what it told police.
“Hoodlums later hijacked the meeting as they freely used dangerous weapons which led to burning of cars,” Akano said. “As people saw the mayhem, they started running and it spread to other parts of the city before the police was able to put the situation under control.”
Witnesses told journalists at least three people died and others were wounded in the fighting.
The party recently picked Buhari, a disciplinarian who muzzled the press during his year-and-a-half rule in the 1980s, as its presidential candidate for the April election.
Al-Qaida in Iraq threatens attacks on Christians
Posted 11/3/2010 8:11 PM ET
By Sinan Salaheddin, Associated Press
BAGHDAD — Al-Qaida’s front group in Iraq has threatened more attacks on Christians after a siege on a Baghdad church that left 58 people dead, linking the warning to claims that Egypt’s Coptic Church is holding women captive for converting to Islam.
The Islamic State of Iraq, which has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s assault on a Catholic church during Mass in downtown Baghdad, said its deadline for Egypt’s Copts to release the women had expired and its fighters would attack Christians wherever they can be reached.
“We will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood,” the insurgent group said in a statement posted late Tuesday on militant websites.
The Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq and other allied Sunni insurgent factions.
It is unclear exactly what led the group to seize on the conversion disputes between Egypt’s Muslims and its minority Christians, although the issue has become a rallying point for hard-line Islamists in Egypt.
In announcing its reasons for Sunday’s attack, the group said it had given the Coptic Church 48 hours to release the women it says had converted to Islam. The group also demanded the release of al-Qaida-linked prisoners held in Iraq.
“All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them,” it said.
The group specifically mentioned two Egyptian women married to Coptic priests it says are being held against their will. The church denies the allegation. Some believe the women converted to Islam to leave their husbands because divorce is banned by the church.
Over the past few years in Egypt, arguments over these kinds of alleged conversions have exacerbated Muslim-Christian tensions already high over issues like the construction of new churches. The two communities generally live in peace, though clashes have taken place.
The Baghdad church siege was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq’s Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as members of the community have fled to other countries to escape the violence.
The death toll in a series of attacks mainly targeting Shiites Tuesday in Baghdad, meanwhile, rose to 91, according to Iraqi police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Iraqi state TV aired footage Wednesday of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visiting victims of the blasts in Baghdad’s hospitals. The televised trips to civilians wounded in attacks were a first for al-Maliki, who has been struggling to keep his job since his Shiite-dominated alliance was narrowly defeated by the Sunni-backed bloc of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in the March 7 parliamentary election.
Neither bloc won an outright majority, setting up a fight for allies that has left the government stalemated. There was a glimmer of hope for political progress Wednesday when parliament’s acting speaker, Fouad Massoum, called the lawmakers to convene Monday and elect his successor.
However, the acting speaker only has the right to call parliament to session and can’t necessarily force all the members to show so it was unclear whether the date would hold or that the announcement signified any progress in the political talks.
Last week, Iraq’s highest court ordered the 325 lawmakers back to work after a virtual eight-month recess. The parliament has met only once since the March 7 vote for just 20 minutes to allow more time to choose a new leadership.
Under the constitution, parliament was required to meet within 15 days of final court approval of election results and choose a speaker, then a president. The appointments had to be put off because they are part of the negotiations over the rest of the new leadership — including a prime minister and top Cabinet officials.
Egyptian Security Guards Withdrew One Hour Before Church Blast, Say Eyewitnesses
Posted GMT 1-2-2011 5:26:13
Posted 1/5/2011 3:36 AM ET
AINA) — The car explosion that went off in front of Saints Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria killed 21 and injured 96 parishioners who were attending a New Year’s Eve Mass. According to church officials and eyewitnesses, there are many more victims that are still unidentified and whose body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants ( video showing dead bodies and limbs covered with newspapers in the street).
According to eyewitnesses, a green Skoda car pulled up outside the church shortly after midnight. Two men got out, one of them talked shortly on his mobile phone, and the explosion occurred almost immediately after they left the scene. On the back of the Skoda was a sticker with the words “the rest is coming” ( video of car explosion and Muslims shouting “Allah Akbar”).
It was reported that the bomb, locally made, had 100KG of explosives in addition to having nails, glass and iron balls inside. The strength of it not only caused glass panes to be shattered in all the neighborhood, but also made body parts fly into the building’s fourth floor, and to the mosque facing the church.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but officials hastily blamed either Al-Qaida or the Israeli Mousad of being behind the blast, but none of them mentioned the Egyptian state security which is viewed by Copts as the real culprit.
To clear his security forces of negligence, the Minister of Interior said that the blast was an “individual” case, caused by a single suicide terrorist detonating his vest, and has nothing to do with an exploding car. The governor of Alexandria claimed the attack as being aimed at Muslims and Christians alike.
After the blast, traumatized Copts were angered by chants of “Allah Akbar” from Muslims and began hurling stones at the mosque. Immediately security forces which were absent during the car blast and the ensuing events, appeared and starting shooting tear gas at the Copts, and they in turn hurled stones at them, said an eyewitness. Fifteen Copts were rounded up from their homes by the authorities.
After Friday prayers On December 31 and in front of Al Kayed Gohar Mosque in Alexandria, Salafi Muslims held the 17th in the series of demonstrations against the Coptic Church and its Pope Shenouda, repeating the Iraqi Al-Qaeda threats against Egypt’s Coptic Church, demanding the release of the two priests’ wives, Wafaa Constatine and Camilia Shehata, whom they claim had converted to Islam but were being held against their will by the church in monasteries (AINA 11-12-2010).
Following the massacre of the congregation at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Baghdad on October 31 2010, Al-Qaida threatened the Coptic Church and demanded the release of Muslim women held by the church, else Christians everywhere would be their target. As a result Egyptian authorities supposedly stepped up protection around Copt places of worship after President Mubarak said he was committed to protecting the Christians “faced with the forces of terrorism and extremism”.
“Security should know that those who demonstrated are the hand of Al-Qaida in Egypt,” said Hany el-Gezeiry, head of Copts4Egypt. “They should have arrested them to investigate who was behind them. They want to destroy Egypt from inside and the government kept quiet, giving them a free hand to do what they wanted. I believe Al-Qaida achieved what it wanted.”
El-Gezeiry asks why this Skoda vehicle was allowed to park in front of the church in an area cordoned off by security, when it was known that Al-Qaeda had already announced its intention of carrying out criminal acts against churches.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that security forces guarding the church withdrew nearly one hour before the blast, leaving only four policemen and an officer to guard such a big church and nearly 2000 people attending the midnight mass. “Normally they would have waited until the mass was over,” said el-Gezeiry. He also commented on the Muslim’s schadenfreude at the massacre at the church, who were heard chanting “Allah Akbar.”
“Is this a victory?” He asks. “Whoever saw this fire and people dying and body parts all over the place and could still chant ‘Allah Akbar’ is a terrorist.”
On January 6 2010, just before the Christmas Eve Massacre in Nag Hammadi, security withdrew its forces from guarding the church a couple of hours before the shooting of the Coptic congregation took place.
Attorney Mamdouh Nakhla, Head of Al-Kalema Human Rights Center, wondered if state security is an accomplice or just too cowardly to confront the Islamists in Egypt who carried out the Church massacre. “The crime is local and those who committed it are known, in addition there was a demonstration on the same day using the same rhetoric like al-Qaida. The Al Mujahedeen website threatens to repeat the attack in more churches. The site has addresses of churches and even how to make a bomb. Does security not know about it?”
“Anyone who says that it was a foreign or Israeli plot is trying to play down the crime and is trying to clear those murderers of this massacre, and I consider them their accomplices,” said Nakhla.
Nakhla said that he was preparing a complaint to be presented to President Mubarak asking for the resignation of Interior Minister Habib el Adly for failing in his duty of protecting the Copts, and for not telling the truth by saying that it was a suicide attack by one individual, when everyone could see the detonated car, just to clear his security personnel of the responsibility of letting the Skoda park in front of the church. “This 100KG bomb could not have been transported by one individual as the Interior Minister wants us to believe.”
On January 1, the funeral of the 21 people killed in the church massacre took place at St. Mina’s Monastery in King Mariout, 50 km from Alexandria. It was attended by representatives of the President, Minsters, the governor of Alexandria, as well as nearly 10,000 Copts who traveled from Alexandria. After the funeral, the Copts, angry with the governor of Alexandria, shouted “resign” and “we do not want you.”
Anti-Christian drumbeat loud before Egypt attack
By Maggie Michael – Associated Press – Tue Jan 4, 9:29 pm ET
CAIRO — In the weeks before the New Year’s Day suicide bombing of an Egyptian church, al-Qaida-linked websites carried a how-to manual on “destroying the cross,” complete with videos on how to build a bomb and the locations of churches to target — including the one that was attacked.
They may have found a receptive audience in Alexandria, where increasingly radicalized Islamic hard-liners have been holding weekly anti-Christian demonstrations, filled with venomous slogans against the minority community.
The blast, which struck Saturday as worshippers were leaving midnight Mass at the Mediterranean city’s Saints Church, killed 21 people.
President Hosni Mubarak has accused foreign groups of being behind the attack, which has sparked a wave of angry protests by Christians in Egypt.
But on the ground, investigators are searching in a different direction — scrutinizing homegrown hard-liners, known as Salafis, and the possibility they were inspired by al-Qaida.
Only two or three days before Saturday’s bombing, police arrested several Salafis spreading fliers in Alexandria calling for violence against Christians, a security official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
According to authorities, the strong belief among investigators is that local extremists who knew the area and the nature of their target were behind the blast. The Egyptian weekly Al-Youm Al-Saba said police were examining photos of the Salafis’ weekly protests for suspects.
In the weeks before the attack, al-Qaida militants on the Web spewing calls for “jihad,” or holy war, on Egypt’s Christians laid out everything anyone would need to carry out a bombing.
One widely circulated posting includes a so-called “Jihadi Encyclopedia for the Destruction of the Cross,” with a series of 10 videos describing how to build a bomb.
In the videos, an unidentified militant in a white lab coat and a black mask is shown listing the ingredients to make TNT and mixing up the chemicals in beakers.
The site lists Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, along with phone numbers and addresses — including Alexandria’s Saints Church. “Blow up the churches while they are celebrating Christmas or any other time when the churches are packed,” it says.
Security officials say they were aware of the online “how-to manual” before the church bombing and are examining any links between it and the material posted on Islamic websites.
One main Salafi group, the Salafi Movement in Alexandria, issued a statement condemning the bombing, saying its preachings “reject such practices.”
The ultra-conservative Salafi ideology has been gaining followers throughout Egypt in recent years, preaching a return to the ways of early Muslims. It calls for strict segregation of the sexes and rejection of any religious “innovations,” such as permitting boys and girls to attend school together or collecting interest on bank loans.
The movement has spread across class lines, among wealthy businessmen, the middle class and urban poor. Men grow long beards and shave off mustaches, to imitate the Prophet Muhammad. Women wear the black niqab robes and veil, which envelop the entire body and face, showing only the eyes.
In many ways, it resembles the doctrine of al-Qaida, with one major difference — while it advocates jihad against “foreign occupiers” in Iraq or Afghanistan, it rejects holy war inside Egypt, at least for now.
But many observers warn that some members are growing more radicalized and have begun to advocate jihad within the country, providing fertile ground for al-Qaida influence.
They cite the group’s unprecedentedly fierce campaign against Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church.
It was sparked by the case of two Christian women who reportedly converted to Islam to get divorces from their husbands, since the church bans divorce. The Salafis accuse church officials of forcing the women to renounce Islam and return to Christianity, a claim the church denies.
At weekly protests attended by hundreds outside mosques in Alexandria and Cairo, Salafis have accused the church of holding the women against their will. Vowing vengeance and denouncing Coptic Pope Shenouda III as an “infidel,” the protesters accused Copts of trying to “Christianize” Egypt’s Muslims and stockpiling weapons in churches and monasteries.
In September, one Salafi cleric, Ahmed Farid, wept as he told worshippers at an Alexandria mosque that Muslims were being “humiliated” by Christians, chiding them for “giving up jihad.”
At a Salafi protest in Cairo in October, some raised the flag of al-Qaida in Iraq — a black banner emblazoned with the phrase “there is no god but God and Muhammad is God’s prophet.”
Two days later, al-Qaida in Iraq attacked a church in Baghdad in a siege that left 68 Christians dead, the worst attack ever against Iraq’s Christian minority. The group issued a statement vowing a campaign against Christians unless the two women in Egypt were freed, and several other attacks on the community in Baghdad have followed.
Since then, calls on al-Qaida-linked websites for attacks on Egypt’s Christians have grown to a fever pitch.
A statement posted with the videos decries the failure of Muslims to act to free the two women.
“Will we keep on dreaming and dreaming, or is it time to wake up to the echoing boom and the flying torn limbs that will please the faithful and scare the infidels?” the statement reads. “Of course, it is better to act as a group, but that must not be an impediment between you and action. … Move forward on your own.”
The threats raise the question of why security officials did not do more to protect churches. On New Year’s, Saints Church had only three or four policemen outside and cars had easy access to the street.
Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s nearly 80 million people, accuse the government of ignoring threats against them and doing nothing about growing anti-Christian sentiment.
Experts say the government has tacitly allowed the growth of Salafism because it is not anti-government and does not get involved in Egypt’s politics, as opposed to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which is the regime’s main political rival.
“The Egyptian regime is harvesting the sour fruits for letting this extremist thought to grow and recruit thousands of young Egyptians,” said Rifaat Sayyed Ahmed, an expert on Islamic groups.
Dec 26, 2:18 PM EST
Al-Qaida threat on Iraq Christians linked to Egypt
By MAGGIE MICHAEL
CAIRO (AP) — The wives of two Egyptian Coptic priests, forbidden by the Church from divorcing their abusive husbands, desperately sought another way out by converting to Islam. When their intentions were discovered, police handed them over to the Church and their whereabouts since have been unknown.
The cases caused a furor at home that spilled over the borders and turned deadly when al-Qaida in Iraq cited the women as the reason behind the bloodiest attack ever on Christians in Iraq – a five-hour siege of a church in October that left 68 people dead.
It was a stark example of the schism between Christians and Muslims that runs through the Middle East and periodically erupts into violence.
“Amid the current sectarian discord, the timing is perfect for al-Qaida to show it is defending Islam and to exploit the situation to rally extremists against the churches,” said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert in Islamic movements.
Both Wafaa Constantine, 53, and Camilla Shehata, 25, lived in remote rural towns and enjoyed prestige as devoted and pious wives of conservative Coptic priests. But behind that veneer, a lawyer and a church official said the women were trapped in abusive relationships.
Both tried to seek a divorce through Church channels, but hit a dead-end because the Coptic Orthodox Church forbids divorce – a rule enforced even more strictly against the wives of priests. And they decided to rebel, not only against their husbands, but against the whole religion.
They sought to convert to Islam, something viewed as a disgrace in their community. The Coptic Church considers those who convert to other religions such as Islam dead, making the marriage contract invalid.
Though Egyptian religious authorities say the women never succeeded in converting, the controversy in both cases escalated with angry protests by Egyptian Christians, who accused Muslims of abducting the women and forcing them to convert.
That in turn galvanized Muslim hard-liners in Egypt who protested and accused the church of holding them against their will and forcing them to convert back to Christianity.
Al-Qaida in Iraq turned it into a cause celebre when it cited the women as the reason behind the Baghdad church siege. The group followed with more threats against Iraq’s Christian minority, creating such fear that most Christmas celebrations in the country were canceled.
Egypt’s Christian minority, estimated at about 10 percent of the country’s 80 million people, has grown more religiously conservative over the past three decades as has the country’s Muslim majority.
Egypt’s Salafi movement – extreme conservative Muslims – have long accused the Coptic Church here of conspiring to “Christianize” Egypt. Though Salafis in Egypt reject violence, their doctrine is only a few shades away from that of groups such as al-Qaida. Both adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam that supposedly is a purer form of Islam said to have been practiced by Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.
The Salafis have set up dozens of websites and Facebook groups to spread the word about the two women.
Hossam Aboul Boukhar, the founder of one of the websites, KamiliaShehata.com, said the Shehata case is not an Egyptian matter anymore but “an Islamic cause.” And he listed other women in similar situations.
“It is a phenomenon. The new Muslims, our sisters, are in misery because they are being tortured and imprisoned. We don’t know what is going on inside the churches,” he said.
In weekly protests from August to November, bearded men in white robes gathered outside mosques in Egypt to denounce Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Christian leader of Egypt, as an “infidel.” And they vowed revenge.
In one demonstration, Islamists raised a flag identical to that of al-Qaida in Iraq – a black banner emblazoned with the phrase: “There is no God but God and Muhammad is God’s prophet.” Two days later, al-Qaida in Iraq attacked the church.
Constantine’s story dates back to December 2004 when her brief disappearance led angry Christians to stage protests and clash with police for four days.
The agriculture engineer lived with her family in the Nile Delta town of Abou el-Matamer, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Cairo. She was married to a Coptic priest who lost a leg to diabetes. Naguib Giberail, a prominent Coptic lawyer familiar with the case, said her husband had an explosive temper.
For two years, Constantine sought help from the senior church official in her province, Archbishop Bakhamyous. She told him she was abused, according to Coptic clerics who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The clerics said Bakhamyous refused her plea for a divorce.
At one point, she disappeared for a few days and then reappeared, turning up at a police station in Cairo to declare she wanted to convert and needed protection.
Police said they notified Archbishop Bakhamyous and he insisted on meeting Constantine in a monastery, not at the police station. But police refused.
It was thought at the time that a colleague may have been trying to influence her to convert to Islam.
“Someone used her deteriorating relationship with her husband and told her that Islam offers her the solution,” said Archbishop Mouses, a top aide to the Coptic pope.
When she disappeared, hundreds of Christians accused Muslims of abducting her to force her to convert to Islam. After a few days, however, Egyptian judicial authorities announced that she had turned up and they said she remained a Christian.
Police said they handed Constantine over to the Church after she came to police for help.
Her husband later died in 2006.
Shehata’s strikingly similar story began to emerge in July this year.
The mother of a 2-year-old boy, she was working as a teacher in the town of Deir Mawas in Minya province, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) south of Cairo.
Egyptian news reports said she too left her home and disappeared for a few days.
Her husband, Father Tadous Samaan, rallied Christian protesters in Cairo, accusing Muslims of abducting his wife and forcing her to convert to Islam.
Three days after her disappearance, the church announced that Shehata was staying at a friend’s house in Cairo taking a break and that she remained a Christian.
Under heavy pressure from Islamists who accused the Church of holding her against her will, Shehata appeared in September in a videotape posted on an Egyptian news website, al-Youm al-Saba or the Seventh Day, insisting she had never converted to Islam.
“I am Christian and I will die as Christian,” the young woman standing in front of a picture of Jesus said in the video. But many Muslims doubted its authenticity.
According to the Coptic lawyer Giberail, police handed Shehata over to the Church.
Islamists have accused the police of collaborating with the church by handing the two “Muslim” women over to Church authorities to reconvert them.
The women’s whereabouts are currently unknown. But Egyptian news reports say Constantine has lived the past six years in Saint Bishoy Monastery in the oasis of Wadi Natroun in the desert south of Alexandria, while Shehata stays with nuns in a Church residence in Cairo.
Both have been incommunicado, and their families and Coptic officials refuse to discuss their situations.
Christians targeted by ‘religious cleansing’ in the Middle East, Sarkozy says
Following a New Year’s Day bombing that killed 21 people in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday said that Christian minorities in the Middle East are becoming victims of “religious cleansing”.
Iran rounds up Christians in crackdown
By BRIAN MURPHY
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 3:39 PM
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran has arrested about 70 Christians since Christmas in a crackdown that demonstrates the limits of religious tolerance by Islamic leaders who often boast they provide room for other faiths.
The latest raids have targeted grass-roots Christian groups Iran describes as “hard-liners” who pose a threat to the Islamic state. Authorities increasingly view them with suspicions that range from trying to convert Muslims to being possible footholds for foreign influence.
Christian activists claim their Iranian brethren are being persecuted simply for worshipping outside officially sanctioned mainstream churches.
Caught in the middle is the small community of Iranian Christians who get together for prayer and Bible readings in private residences and out of sight of authorities. They are part of a wider “house church” movement that has taken root in other places with tight controls on Christian activities such as China and Indonesia.
…Groups monitoring Christian affairs in the Islamic world say Iranian authorities see the unregulated Christian gatherings as both a potential breeding ground for political opposition and suspect they may try to convert Muslim in violation of Iran’s strict apostasy laws – which are common throughout the Muslim world and have at times fed extremist violence against Christians and others.
Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon described the Christians as “hard-line” missionaries who have “inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. He also suggested that the Christians could have links to Britain – an accusation within Iran that refers to political opposition groups Tehran claims are backed by the West.
Baghdad Raids on Alcohol Sellers Stir Fears
By JOHN LELAND
Published: January 15, 2011
BAGHDAD — Eight men carrying handguns and steel pipes raided a Christian nongovernmental organization here on Thursday night, grabbing computers, cellphones and documents, and threatening the people inside, according to members of the group.
“They came in and said, ‘You are criminals. This is not your country. Leave immediately,’” said Sharif Aso, a board member of the organization, the Ashurbanipal Cultural Association. “They said, ‘This is an Islamic state.’”
The intruders wore civilian clothes, said Mr. Aso and others at the organization, but their arrival was preceded by three police vehicles that blocked off the street. He said the men stole his ring and bashed him on the leg with a pistol.
Ashurbanipal, named for an Assyrian king, primarily publishes writings in the Assyrian language, but it also runs a private club that serves alcohol, which appeared to be the reason for Thursday’s raid. The intruders smashed liquor bottles and a glass refrigerator case before throwing a gas canister through the window of a car belonging to a member of the group.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 5 (UPI) — Two bomb attacks on mosques in northwest Pakistan Friday killed at least 71 congregants and injured about 100, officials said.
A suicide bomber struck a Sunni mosque in the Darra Adam Khel area near Pakistan’s tribal regions, the BBC reported. At least 67 people were killed and more than 80 others injured.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise because the mosque’s roof collapsed because of the blast.
“We fear there might be more casualties in the debris,” a local official said.
Later, a bomb was thrown into a mosque in Salman Khel village, killing four people and injuring 18, CNN reported.
Officials said it was not immediately known who carried out the attacks. In previous attacks on mosques and religious shrines, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility.
Witnesses told the BBC the suicide bomber was on foot and detonated the explosives at the mosque’s main gate after Friday prayers ended and worshipers were exiting the mosque.
The BBC reported the possible target could have been a tribal elder who had encouraged people to stand against the Taliban. It is not clear whether he was among the victims.
That Pakistan is a nation bound upon a wheel of fire is not in any doubt. The assassination of Salmaan Taseer, killed for speaking out against a blasphemy law that has been used time and again to persecute minorities and settle private scores, would itself have been a significant blow, depriving the nation of one of the few politicians willing to be fearless in facing down radicalism. But it was the image of lawyers sprinkling rose petals on to Taseer’s smiling assassin – as though he were a bride and they the family of the groom welcoming him into their fold – that dealt a body blow from which Pakistan’s liberals and progressives are unsure they can ever recover.
My Father Died for Pakistan
By SHEHRBANO TASEER
Published: January 8, 2011
TWENTY-SEVEN. That’s the number of bullets a police guard fired into my father before surrendering himself with a sinister smile to the policemen around him. Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, was assassinated on Tuesday — my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday — outside a market near our family home in Islamabad.
The guard accused of the killing, Mumtaz Qadri, was assigned that morning to protect my father while he was in the federal capital. According to officials, around 4:15 p.m., as my father was about to step into his car after lunch, Mr. Qadri opened fire.
Mr. Qadri and his supporters may have felled a great oak that day, but they are sadly mistaken if they think they have succeeded in silencing my father’s voice or the voices of millions like him who believe in the secular vision of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
My father’s life was one of struggle. He was a self-made man, who made and lost and remade his fortune. He was among the first members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party when it was founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the late 1960s. He was an intellectual, a newspaper publisher and a writer; he was jailed and tortured for his belief in democracy and freedom. The vile dictatorship of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq did not take kindly to his pamphleteering for the restoration of democracy.
One particularly brutal imprisonment was in a dungeon at Lahore Fort, this city’s Mughal-era citadel. My father was held in solitary confinement for months and was slipped a single meal of half a plate of stewed lentils each day. They told my mother, in her early 20s at the time, that he was dead. She never believed that.
Determined, she made friends with the kind man who used to sweep my father’s cell and asked him to pass a note to her husband. My father later told me he swallowed the note, fearing for the sweeper’s life. He scribbled back a reassuring message to my mother: “I’m not made from a wood that burns easily.” That is the kind of man my father was. He could not be broken.
He often quoted verse by his uncle Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of Urdu’s greatest poets. “Even if you’ve got shackles on your feet, go. Be fearless and walk. Stand for your cause even if you are martyred,” wrote Faiz. Especially as governor, my father was the first to speak up and stand beside those who had suffered, from the thousands of people displaced by the Kashmir earthquake in 2005 to the family of two teenage brothers who were lynched by a mob last August in Sialkot after a dispute at a cricket match.
After 86 members of the Ahmadi sect, considered blasphemous by fundamentalists, were murdered in attacks on two of their mosques in Lahore last May, to the great displeasure of the religious right my father visited the survivors in the hospital. When the floods devastated Pakistan last summer, he was on the go, rallying businessmen for aid, consoling the homeless and building shelters.
My father believed that the strict blasphemy laws instituted by General Zia have been frequently misused and ought to be changed. His views were widely misrepresented to give the false impression that he had spoken against Prophet Mohammad. This was untrue, and a criminal abdication of responsibility by his critics, who must now think about what they have caused to happen. According to the authorities, my father’s stand on the blasphemy law was what drove Mr. Qadri to kill him.
There are those who say my father’s death was the final nail in the coffin for a tolerant Pakistan. That Pakistan’s liberal voices will now be silenced. But we buried a heroic man, not the courage he inspired in others. This week two leading conservative politicians — former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan — have taken the same position my father held on the blasphemy laws: they want amendments to prevent misuse.
To say that there was a security lapse on Tuesday is an understatement. My father was brutally gunned down by a man hired to protect him. Juvenal once asked, “Who will guard the guards themselves?” It is a question all Pakistanis should ask themselves today: If the extremists could get to the governor of the largest province, is anyone safe?
It may sound odd, but I can’t imagine my father dying in any other way. Everything he had, he invested in Pakistan, giving livelihoods to tens of thousands, improving the economy. My father believed in our country’s potential. He lived and died for Pakistan. To honor his memory, those who share that belief in Pakistan’s future must not stay silent about injustice. We must never be afraid of our enemies. We must never let them win.
Reaction to killing shows Pakistan’s Islamic divide
Thursday, January 6, 2011 02:51 AM
By Sebastian Abbot
About 170 miles away, the country’s prime minister joined thousands to mourn the death of the politician, who dared to challenge the demands of Islamic extremists.
The cheers and tears across the country yesterday underscored Pakistan’s journey over the past several decades from a nation defined by moderate Islam to one increasingly influenced by fundamentalists willing to use violence to impose their views.
Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri in the fatal shooting of Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities that he acted because of Taseer’s vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.
As Qadri was escorted into court in Islamabad, supporters patted his back and kissed his cheek as lawyers at the scene threw flowers. On the way out, 200 sympathizers chanted slogans in his favor.
Many other Pakistanis were appalled.
“Extremist thought has become so mainstream that what we need to question in Pakistan is what people think constitutes extremism now,” said Fasi Zaka, a 34-year-old radio host and columnist.
Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, helped establish the country in 1947 as a moderate Islamic state welcoming all minority groups and religions. But that foundation has slowly been eroded over the years, especially in the 1980s during the military rule of Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who imposed a more conservative brand of Islam.
The U.S. participated in this process by providing Zia’s government with billions of dollars that it funneled to the mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in neighboring Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other ruling party officials joined up to 6,000 mourners under tight security yesterday to pay homage to Taseer at a funeral in the eastern city of Lahore.
The response to Taseer’s murder among ordinary Pakistanis seemed mixed. Some praised Qadri for killing the governor, who in recent weeks had spoken forcefully in favor of clemency for a Christian woman sentenced to die for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Others condemned the killing.
“It is sad that he spoke from the heart and was murdered,” said Farhat Firdous, a communications professional in Karachi.
Islam doesn’t mean peace in Pakistan
Monday, January 10, 2011 02:51 AM
By Jonah Goldberg
For years we’ve been hearing about how the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.
What if it’s the other way around? Worse, what if the peaceful hijackers are losing their bid to take over the religion?
That certainly seems to be the case in Pakistan.
Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani governor, was assassinated this week because he was critical of Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
Specifically, Taseer was supportive of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who has been sentenced to death for “insulting Muhammad.”
Bibi had offered some fellow farm laborers some water. They refused to drink it because Christian hands apparently make water unclean. An argument followed. She defended her faith, which they took as synonymous with attacking theirs. Later, she says, a mob of her accusers raped her.
Naturally, a Pakistani judge sentenced her to hang for blasphemy.
And Gov. Taseer, who bravely visited her and sympathized with her plight, had 40 bullets pumped into him by one of his bodyguards.
“Salmaan Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer,” Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri said to the television cameras as he was being arrested.
Now, so far, it’s hard to say who is the hijacker and who is the hijackee. After all, Taseer the moderate was a prominent politician, Qadri a mere bodyguard.
A reasonable person might look at this tragic situation and say it is indeed proof of extremists trying to hijack the religion and the country.
Except, it was Taseer who wanted to change the status quo and Qadri who wanted to protect it. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have been on the books for decades, and while judicial death sentences for blasphemy are rare, the police and security forces have been enforcing it unilaterally for years.
And what of the reaction to the assassination?
Many columnists and commentators denounced the murder, but the public’s reaction was often celebratory.
And what of the country’s official guardians of the faith?
A group of more than 500 leading Muslim scholars, representing what the Associated Press describes a “moderate school of Islam” and the British Guardian calls the “mainstream religious organizations” in Pakistan, not only celebrated the murder but warned that no Muslim should mourn Taseer’s murder or pray for him.
They even went so far as to warn government officials and journalists that the “supporter is as equally guilty as one who committed blasphemy,” and so therefore they should all take “a lesson from the exemplary death” of Salman Taseer.
If that’s what counts for religious moderation in Pakistan, I think it’s a little late to be talking about extremists hijacking the religion. The religion has long since been hijacked.
Pakistan is a special case because it has nuclear weapons and is inextricably bound up in the war in neighboring Afghanistan and the larger war on terror. U.S. relations with the Pakistani military remain strong, but as we’ve seen with Turkey, good relations with a military don’t make up for losing support from an allied government as it goes Islamist. And it seems unlikely that a government can long stay secular when the people want it to become ever more Islamist.
Sadanand Dhume, a Wall Street Journal columnist (and my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute), writes that even “relatively secular-minded Pakistanis are an endangered species.”
While most of the enlightened chatters remain mute or incoherent as they struggle for a way to blame Israel for all of this, the question becomes all the more pressing: How do we deal with a movement or a nation that refuses to abide by the expiring cliché “Islam means peace”?
How tolerant were Muslims in Pakistan?
Thursday, December 16, 2010 02:54 AM
The Monday “Not 2 be missed” article from the Associated Press, “Trashing of card called blasphemy,” is amazing. It stated that dozens of Pakistanis are sentenced to death each year under a law that makes reviling the Muslim religion a crime. This includes the disposal of business cards with the word Muhammad on them.
A recent program on National Public Radio stated that Iraqi Christians are fleeing that country after being targeted by Muslim suicide bombers.
We have our “nuts,” such as the Christian church leader who wanted to burn the Quran, but his ideas were not backed by our political system. Would a leader be persecuted in a Muslim country for wanting to burn a Christian Bible? Is this tolerance?
The Muslim world does not know that the Inquisition disappeared from the Western world a long time ago. Governments in the Muslim world do not realize that the Western world has been affected by the Magna Carta, the Protestant Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man and the separation of church and state. What Muslims do overseas does not help the position of those who live in this country.
How can Islam claim to be a religion of tolerance? Overseas, Muslim fundamentalists are trying to move their countries backward to the 14th century.
Special Dispatch No. 3491—Pakistan/Islamic Reform/South Asia Studies Project
500 Islamic Clerics and Religious Scholars in Pakistan Issue Statement Justifying the Assassination of Governor Salman Taseer: ‘Prophet [Muhammad] had Ordered the Killing of An Apostate for Committing Blasphemy Right Inside Masjid Al-Haram [Mecca Mosque]‘
On January 4, 2011, just a few hours after the assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, more than 500 Pakistani religious scholars and clerics issued a statement, lauding the assassin for keeping alive a “tradition of 1,400 years in Islam” which requires the killing of anyone committing an act of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. Most of the clerics and religious scholars belong to Jamaat Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, a coalition of Barelvi organizations.
While Salman Taseer, an outspoken voice for secularism and pluralism in Pakistan, was not known to have committed an act of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, he had recently emerged as a strong voice calling for amendments in Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. Taseer also went to meet with Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five children who has been given a death sentence for committing an act of blasphemy, and for whom he had sought to secure a presidential pardon. The Pakistani clerics believe that Salman Taseer’s call for amendments in the Pakistani blasphemy laws themselves constituted an act of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
On January 4, 2011, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the Elite Force that was responsible for the personal security of Governor Taseer, killed him in Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan. Other members of the Elite Force who were on duty alongside Qadri watched in silence as the assassin pumped bullets into Taseer. According to a report in the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Ummat, Qadri, who was later arrested, said that he planned the assassination three days earlier and has no regrets over the killing. Qadri belongs to the Barelvi school of Islam, which is known – unlike pro-Taliban Deobandi clerics – for its extreme adulation and love of Prophet Muhammad.
The assassin is in the custody of Pakistani police. The body of Governor Taseer was buried on January 5, 2011.
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For the time being, then, Pakistan may remain dependent on international assistance, including billions of dollars in military and civilian aid from the United States, even as fewer than 2 percent of Pakistanis pay income tax, with many wealthy members of government among those who pay nothing. The country’s tax revenues will remain among the lowest in the world.
BBC’s Panorama claims Islamic schools teach antisemitism and homophobia
Thousands of British schoolchildren are being taught Saudi national curriculum, according to programme
Children in Islamic schools are being taught antisemitic and homophobic views from textbooks, theBBC‘s Panorama will claim tonight.
A textbook used in some weekend schools reportedly asks children to list the “reprehensible” qualities of Jews, according to the programme.
It claims to have found 5,000 Muslim schoolchildren being taught that some Jews are transformed into pigs and apes and that the penalty for gay sex is execution. Some textbooks are said to teach the correct way to chop off the hands and feet of thieves. A spokesman for the programme said the pupils, aged six to 18, attend a network of more than 40 weekend schools across the country which teach the Saudi national curriculum to Muslim children.
One book for children as young as six is said to ask them what happens to someone who dies who is not a believer in Islam – the correct answer is “hellfire”.
Investigators claim to have also found a text for pupils aged 15 which reads: “For thieves their hands will be cut off for a first offence, and their foot for a subsequent offence.”
British Schools Muslim Rules, which will be aired tonight on BBC One at 8.30pm, says other texts for the pupils are said to claim that Zionists want to establish world domination for Jews, a spokesman said.
Michael Gove, the education secretary, told Panorama:”Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country. I have no desire or wish to intervene in the decisions that the Saudi government makes in its own education system. But I’m clear that we cannot have antisemitic material of any kind being used in English schools.”
At present, part-time weekend schools are not inspected by Ofsted but Gove said the educations standards watchdog would be reporting shortly on how to ensure part-time provision is better registered and inspected in the future.
British Salafi: We Should Attack David Cameron & Western System, Replace with Islam
The following are excerpts from a lecture delivered by British Salafi Abu Mounisa, in the Islamic Awakening Conference, held on December 15, 2010 and posted on the Internet. The conference, first planned to take place on November 27, 2010, but later cancelled by U.K. authorities, included 7 Muslim preachers who all studied for a lengthy time with radical Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad. Abu Mounisa’s lecture during the Islamic Awakening Conference was titled “Dawah and CGFE” (Call for Islam and Commanding Good and Forbidding Evil).
To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit
“Our Da’wa [Call for Islam] Should be the Da’wa that Attacks Their System, and We Replace It with Islam”
Abu Mounisa : “When we talk about da’wa [call for Islam], don’t ever think, my brothers and sisters, that our da’wa is only to address a few people on the streets, and call them to Islam. Our da’wa should be the da’wa that attacks their system, and we replace it with Islam. That’s what we need to do, my dear brothers, we need to call the whole of society to Islam. We’re not just calling one sister or one brother to follow the religion of Allah. We want the whole society to bow down to Allah. We don’t want only one sister to wear the khimar[veil] and jilbab [cloak]. We want the whole society to wear the khimar and jilbab . We don’t want only our brothers and sisters to make sujud [bow down] to Allah. We want the whole society to make sujud to Allah. This is the da’wa of the Prophet Muhammad. This is our da’wa , my dear brothers and sisters. [...]
“If you carry your da’wa stall, and you stand there, just inviting people to Islam, like [cleric] Zakir Naik [does], do you think that is going to change society? Without attacking the law and order? No, my dear brothers, there is no way it is going to change society. It’s impossible that society will change. You need to provoke society for society to be changed.
“Also, my dear brothers, what we need to understand is that when the Prophet Muhammad was inside Mecca, there were 360 idols in Mecca at that time. Today, people don’t worship physical idols. Today, people worship the ideas of democracy, freedom, and capitalism. This is what the people are worshipping today. The woman says: I am free to have an abortion. The man says: I am free to go for sexual promiscuity. Do you see what I mean? This is the reality of today.”
“I have Come to Destroy Your Gods”
“Who allows that freedom? Who allows that democracy? Who allows these false gods to exist? The government, the law and order, they are the ones that allow it. When the [people] said to the Prophet Muhammad: Why don’t you add your god amongst our gods? Just one more, just add it in. He said: No way! [...]
“He said: Do you think I am going to mix my God with your gods? I’m never mixing my God with your gods. It’s impossible for me to mix my gods [sic] with your gods, and I would never do so. I believe Allah is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need your gods. I have come to destroy your gods. When Allah gave the Prophet Muhammad victory inside Mecca, he went to the Kaaba and destroyed all 360 gods inside it. But do you know what? He never stopped there. Do you know what he did? He went to the areas of [the idols] Lat, Uzzat, and Manat… He went inside these areas, and he asked the people: Where is Uzzat, where is Manat? He went and destroyed them, killed them, chopped their heads off, beheaded them. That is why, my dear brothers, we need to behead democracy from its roots.
“We need to behead capitalism from its roots, take it, kill it from its roots. That is what we need to do. We should hate it so much, my dear brothers, that every day, we should attack their system. Every day. Just like the Prophet Muhammad did.[...]
“This is how we should feel. This is how we should believe. We should have the zeal in our hearts, for the sake of Allah, to destroy all their system and replace it with Islam.” […]
Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Hit a Woman Who was Dressed Immodestly “but Today We Can’t Go Around Slapping Every Woman in the Street”
“Who allows alcohol in the first place? The law and order. So we need to address the law and order. We need to attack the law and order. A man during the time of the Prophet Muhammad… Sorry, I apologize. One time, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab saw some woman, and she was dressed inappropriately. What Muhammad did… No, I’m sorry what Omar Ibn Al-Khattab did… He went up to her, and he hit her. He hit her. He said to her: ‘How dare you walk in the streets of Al-Madina, which belong to the Prophet Muhammad, dressed the way you are dressed?’ She turned around and said to him: ‘Who the hell are you to tell me to dress like this?!’ Do you know what he said? ‘I am the Emir of the Believers.’ But today, we can’t go around slapping every woman in the street. We cannot do that. It is not allowed for us to do that.
“So what we need to do is to address the munkar [evil]. We need to turn around and attack society. By removing the roots of the problem, you remove the issue. But if you just deal with the branches, grab a couple of branches here, a couple of branches there, it’s not going to solve the problem. It would never solve the problem. We need to attack the root of the problem, which is the man-made law, the man-made system, which we live under today. Do you understand, brothers? That is what we need to do.
We cannot just sit down until our brothers say: Brother, what you are doing is forbidden. Sister, your scarf is completely forbidden, a big hump on the head. You can’t do it like this. What you need to is tell the sister that her hump is wrong. You need to tell the brother he is wrong. Plus you need to command good and forbid evil, and make the society bow down to Allah.
That is what we need to do, my dear brothers. We need to attack the leaders. We need to turn around and attack, what’s it? Daoud Kamroon… Cameron. He calls him Daoud Kamroon. We need to attack him. We need to say: Your laws are oppressive. We need to deal with those laws, and replace them with Islam. ‘Whoever rejects theTaghoutand believes in Allah…’ So we would destroy his system and replace it with Islam. That is what we need to do.” [...]
Imagine that every day of your life begins with a morning call to prayer from minarets around the city or village in which you live.
Imagine that you are required to pray five times throughout the day, every day.
Imagine that the law of the land is based on Sharia, taken from the Koran.
Imagine that you live in a nation where stoning women, beheading criminals, and other draconian, ancient punishments are deemed acceptable.
Imagine being Muslim and knowing that conversion from Islam is punishable by death.
Imagine saying or doing anything that might be interpreted as disrespect for Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, can get you whipped or killed.
Imagine a religion that has no tolerance for any other religion, even those that existed for two or three thousand years prior to Islam.
Imagine a religion that sanctions suicide if it is done for the purpose of killing others.
Imagine a religion that has routinely taken over the temples and churches of other faiths and builds mosques in their place or a religion that builds its mosques upon the most holy sites of other religions.
Imagine a culture that reduces women to chattel owned by their fathers and their husbands.
Imagine a culture that permits the killing of women for “dishonoring” the family.
Imagine a religion in which a close associate of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said, “We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill four million Americans—two million of them children—and to exile as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the (Americans’) chemical and biological weapons.”
Imagine a religion that, on Iranian television, June 25, 2004, says, “May Allah, by virtue of the Hidden Iman, remove the evil America and Israel from humanity.”
A recent news report says “Al-Qaida is on the verge of producing radioactive weapons after sourcing nuclear material and recruiting rogue scientists to build ‘dirty’ bombs, according to leaked diplomatic documents.”
In his book, “In the words of our enemies”, Jed Babbin, wrote “Like the Nazis, the radical Islamists play on the same sense of persecution and cultural inferiority that many people in underdeveloped nations possess because they are oppressed. And, like the Nazis, the Islamists have convinced their followers that the problems of their world are the fault of others. The Islamists blame every ill of their world on America, the West, the Jews, and Israel.”
The Middle East and Northern African nations in which Islam dominates are in a state of turmoil, seeking to overthrow the despots that have ruled for decades. No matter who is selected to replace them, Islam remains the guiding principle in the lives of their people.
Imagine a religion that divides the world into Dar al Islam, the land of Islam, and Dar al Harb, the land of war.
They cannot be accommodated.
They negotiate only with the end goal of achieving domination.
They cannot be deterred except through the use of force.
The translation of the word “Islam” is “submission.”
We share the planet with 1.6 billion Muslims and we must either convert them or defeat them.
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