al-Qaeda hates Obama al Farsi

The release of photos of Obama wearing a turban and African tribal robes seems to have infuriated Al Qaeda, if the messages at the jihadi webforum "Al Hesah" are any indication. MSNBC's FirstRead blog has the details:

Evan Kohlmann of Global Terror Alert, and an NBC News terrorism analyst, was among those who watched as the Al Hesbah message board lit up. Al Qaeda sympathizers cited the image as evidence that American political leaders, particularly Hillary Clinton, want to portray Islam as a political negative.

“In this case,” Kohlmann said, “it would appear that the publication of the Obama photo, along with the insinuation of an intended negative political impact from being classified as ‘Muslim,’ has only served to antagonize the ranks of those who admire and support al Qaeda.”

This discussion has been viewed several hundred times on the Al-Hesbah network, Kohlmann adds, and it has been among the top 40 most popular discussions on Al-Hesbah the past three days. Most of the discussions are about events in the Islamic world, particularly the conflict between the West and Islamic militants.
“Not only are they enraged by the implication that being Muslim is something to be ashamed of,” Kohlmann added, “but moreover, they are nearly equally indignant about the much-rumored notion that Obama (who has repeatedly declared his faith in Christianity and his support for Israel) is somehow in league with them.”

In fact, Kohlmann added, al-Qaeda supporters are so insistent about their hatred for Obama that they have gone as far as to portray him as an "Iranian agent" secretly sent to take over the United States and fight a war against Sunni Muslims.

One user, with a login that suggests Saudi nationality, claimed in his response, "Obama is actually of Persian-Iranian origin. Many of the Persians emigrated to Kenya after the fall of the Persian empire... . We ask Allah to destroy Obama, Kerry, Clinton, America, its allies, and its slaves."

“As far as they are concerned,” Kohlmann said, “there is basically no difference between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or even George Bush.”

I find it amusing - and typical - that as usual the Ultimate Enemy are the Shi'a. Of course from Al Qaeda's perspective, there is one meta-Enemy, a conglomeration of the Shi'a, the Jews, America, Sex, and ... I don't know what, whatever else comes along I suppose. Still, the idea of Obama being a Persian "Manchurian" candidate is pretty hilarious. No one can fault Al Qaeda for an excess of logic.


"Obamas and Osamas hate America"

Republicans hate muslims. Look at this disgusting example of a diarist at RedState who bends over backwards trying to insinuate the Obama-muslim smear without explicitly endorsing it. Liberals, muslims, terrorists, all are wrapped into one shiny and convenient America-hating package and equated with a deft exchange of consonants.

It's not worth quoting except to note that the author closes with a link to an essay ostensibly about the "maturing of patriotism post 9-11." The irony is surely lost on them.


the Eteraz Mutiny

Ali Eteraz picks a fight with Sepia Mutiny, arguing that while they are not biased against Pakistan, their perception (and blog coverage) is stale and rooted in outdated political theory:

I think SM suffers from two major problems when it comes to Pakistan.

a) SM does absolutely no outreach to the Pakistani or Pakistan-American blogger groups.... even when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated the main SM thread about it didn’t manage to include a single Pakistani blog? Oh: but Belmont Club, the ultra-right wing American blog made it! It is, in fact, not until comment #57 that a Pakistani voice is linked to.
b) SM’s analysis about Pakistan runs somewhere between George Bush and John McCain, not just problematic (we can disagree politically), but out of touch.

Take, for example, SM’s post about the Pakistani elections. It is entitled: “Victory for the Pakistani People?” It goes onto make the generous prediction: “Eventually the new general in charge of the army will be forced to take over, just like Musharraf did eight years ago. But hey, I don’t mean to be a party pooper.”

Nevermind that the current General — Kiyani — has refused to permit the military to partake in civil society, but what the hell is up with the question mark? Landmark elections, praised by three US senators, which rolled back tyranny, crushed music-banning Islamists, brought a secular resurgence, and in terms of voter turn out were equal to or exceeding previous elections, where even the tyrant’s party was gracious in defeat, get a question mark?
the SM posts, with their unhealthy obsession with the Zakarian idea of “Illiberal Democracy” are tired and stale, reflective of an analysis that no longer applies. Not only that, the application of the principle of Illiberal Democracy is not even Zakarian, since Brother Fareed himself says mostly good things about where Pakistan is headed.

I think this is a fair critique overall, but as I pointed out in comments, Zakaria’s analysis of Pakistan has evolved over time; SM might be lagging him a bit but then again, while process is progress, I note that herr general Mush still wont step down from power even after the election. Zakaria is right to point out how far pakistan has come - it certainly is no Zimbabwe! - but there are miles yet to go before Pakistan is, ahem, on par with India. (and lets be fair, India still is a poster child for Zakaria’s thesis of illiberal democracies as well).

I am also not clear about the “outreach” issue. More links to the pakistani blogsphere? A better route would be for Pakistani bloggers to make use of the News tab and submit stories to sepia directly - that way you are participating in sepia on its own terms. SM is not just a blog but a behemoth, it’s the Desi Daily Kos. They are not under obligation to outreach to you, you need to do the legwork to reach in. As you said, they aren't inherently biased, just less aware of the nuance - so join the mutiny and lend your macacas.

At anyrate, it would be cool if sepia had a pakistani voice on board. I nominate Zack Ajmal.


Who Speaks For Islam?

John Burgess of Crossroads Arabia blog gives a heads up on a new book by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, titled "Who Speaks For Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think." The book promo text reads,

In a post-9/11 world, many Americans conflate the mainstream Muslim majority with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority. But what do the world’s Muslims think about the West, or about democracy, or about extremism itself? Who Speaks for Islam? spotlights this silenced majority. The book is the product of a mammoth six-year study in which the Gallup Organization conducted tens of thousands of hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations — urban and rural, young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate. It asks the questions everyone is curious about: Why is the Muslim world so anti-American? Who are the extremists? Is democracy something Muslims really want? What do Muslim women want? The answers to these and other pertinent, provocative questions are provided not by experts, extremists, or talking heads, but by empirical evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims.

I can appreciate the enormity of the task - which is probably why this book is coming out now instead of three years ago when it might have been immensely more useful in blunting the rising jafi tide. It's worth noting that the Pew Global Voices polling probably has covered a lot of this ground before, so it will be interesting to see how Esposito and Mogahed's results compare, especially if they are more comprehensive. They give a preview of their work in this op-ed:

Our new study, "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think," reflects the views of 1.3 billion Muslims. The book is based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews conducted in more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations or nations with sizable Muslim populations. Representing more than 90 percent of the world's Muslim communities, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind. The results defy conventional wisdom and the inevitability of a global conflict -- even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

The study produced some surprises. It showed that Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable. Those who do choose violence and extremism are driven by politics, not poverty or piety. In fact, of the 7 percent of respondents who did believe that 9/11 was justified, none of them hated our freedom; they want our freedom. But they believe that America -- and the western world in general -- operate with a double standard and stand in the way of Muslims determining their own future.

I will probably pre-order the book as well. Should be a handy reference for bloggers in the Brass Crescent.


no friends on the right

Though I consistently argue that we muslims need to keep some distance between ourselves and the political left, it must always be noted that the political right is far, far worse. Exhibit #15382 at RedState.com.

UPDATE: And here's exhibit #15383 - labeling Kosovo a "jihadist state".


western feminism and Islamic values

Kudos to Jill at Feministe for raising the issue of how oppressive head-scarf bans are - just as oppressive in their own way as mandatory burqas. She quotes extensively from an article in the NYT written by a Turkish woman detailing her experiences with the ban at Turkish universities. I found this particularly cogent:

Ms. Benli was the first person in her family to get a college education. She earned her law degree before the state began to enforce the ban in the late 1990s. But her two years of additional graduate work was stopped by the restriction, an interpretation of an earlier court ruling. A 300-page master’s thesis at Istanbul University law school had to be orally defended on campus. Her mother, also covered, pressed her to remove her scarf, to no avail.

“I just couldn’t do it,” Ms. Benli said in an interview in her small law office this week. “I left the room crying. They marked me absent.”

She says the reasons, deeply personal and hard to put into words, are a combination of her relationship to God and her aversion to accepting what she sees as misplaced authority.

“This is related to my private life,” she said. “It’s my personality. My wholeness.”

In one particularly traumatic example, as told to Ms. Benli by several of her clients, a university rector forced several women to uncover their heads in front of him, in order to obtain his signature to allow them to transfer out of the college he was taking over and no longer allowing them to attend.

The state, she said, was saying, “No matter what you think, I can make you do what I want,” an attitude which, if obeyed, made one feel “degraded.”

An analogy might be if the Dean of a college required women to strip to their underwear before receiving their diploma. It might be more cloth than the woman wears the next day at the beach, but whether the cloth is imposed upon or forbidden from, it is the woman's sense of self-modesty that is violated.

Unfortunately, many feminists argue that "less is more" with respect to clothing and that taking clothing off equals empowerment. My classic essay on the Burka and the Bikini drew much criticism from feminists because they could not accept that a bikini could also be oppressive. This mindset manifests immediately in comments to the post at Feministe:

I don’t agree with headscarves/burqas, in that they’re clearly tools designed to supress female freedom/identity. Yet at the same time I obviously hope everyone has the freedom to wear what they damned please, and some women clearly want to cover themselves in this (to my, western eyes) demeaning fashion- and they should have the freedom to do so, and go where they please when they do. Yet some women are clearly forced to wear these things against thier will (or, worse still, have lost sight of even the concept of having a choice in the matter at all).

Note how the commentor is compelled to raise the issue of forced-veiling and is much more comfortable with denouncing that aspect of control, whereas the right to veil is treated with dripping condescension, "clearly" demeaning. It's essentially impossible to communicate with people of this mindset, the best you can do is register your dissent and hope that a reader coming across it will understand our point of view.

The danger in allying western muslim political identity to the Left should be clear. Muslims must remain an independent entity from the greater Left, because the secular divide is simply impossible to cross. At best we can be allied against external threats but we must be wary - a headscarf ban is not outside the realm of the possible here in the United States, should Progressivism grow ascendant. The greatest bulwark against it woudl be to articulate our own liberal, Islamic sense of feminism in which we fully embrace the right of a woman to choose her expression of faith and reject any a-priori assumptions about how much cloth - too much, or too little - is intrinsically oppressive.

UPDATE: I cross-posted this at DailyKos and the resulting debate was quite vigorous. I think the comment by Jerome a Paris, one of DK's better-known voices, is instructive of the secular divide to which I refer.


muslims protest "wearily" against Danish cartoons

Pity the poor victimized Danish media, who now are deprived of victimhood itself - the expected muslim protest against their provcation of reprinting the offensive Muhammad SAW cartoons was not exactly the rabid violent mob they seemed to be hoping for:

Many said they simply could not understand the motive unless it was hatred for Islam.

But the overwhelming mood was not so much anger but weary resignation; a sense that they have been through this crisis once before and nothing has been learnt.

Some Danish Muslims said they felt the problem was not the Danish people who were, if not well informed about Islam, at least generally liberal.

Instead, they pointed the finger of blame at the Danish media, saying it had stirred controversy instead of trying to help mend community relations.

Why, they sound like civic-minded reasonable people who just want to get along and would appreciate not being slagged off all the time. Go figure.

Still, I think some applause for Jyllands-Posten, true heroes of the Enlightenment and brave warriors for selective speech, is in order.


one stupidstorm was not enough! we must have more!

I confess to not caring about what the Danes do:

Danish newspapers have reprinted one of several caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad which sparked violent protests across the Muslim world two years ago.

They say they wanted to show their commitment to freedom of speech after an alleged plot to kill one of the cartoonists behind the drawings.

Three suspects were held in Denmark on Tuesday "to prevent a murder linked to terrorism", officials said.

The cartoons were originally published by Jyllands-Posten in September 2005.

Danish embassies were attacked around the world and dozens died in riots that followed.

Jyllands-Posten and many other major newspapers - including Politiken and Berlingske Tidende - reprinted the caricature in their Wednesday editions.

The cartoon depicts Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse.

They have every right to republish the cartoons, but that doesn't absolve them of their role in any violence that may result. Provocation is not cost-free. With rights, come responsibilities. This is analogous to yelling Fire in a crowded theater and while I certainly hope that nothing ill comes of it, I am not going to gnash my teeth about my faith if some louts decide to accept the invitation and bait from Jyllands-Posten et al. It's not my concern, and I wash my hands of it.

UPDATE: Indscribe weighs in:

The caricature is not just offensive because Islam forbids pictorial depiction of Prophet, but also because the 'bomb-shaped turban' in the caricature is a fascistic attempt and such hatespeak is unimaginable in a continent where the mention of Holocaust and doubts on its veracity can land a person in jail.

Clearly, when it comes to Islam, things are different. Hurting sentiments no longer remains an issue. Given the kind of furore the cartoon controversy had generated in the past, the irresponsible reprinting can severely hurt the process of reconciliation between Muslim countries and Europe.

That's the central point - that the supposed "free speech" that the Danes purport to hold sacred does not in fact exist. To claim then that there is soe higher purpose to their provocation and deliberate insult - to muslims, not to Islam - is a lie.

The vast majority of muslims will look at Denmark and see something rotten indeed. That denmark is revealed to be a third-world country in terms of attitude, despite its first-world status in geography, is the ultimate consequence of their actions. That is the true consequence of this supposed fight for free speech to which they pretend to aspire.


documented voter intimidation in Virginia primary

Sepia Mutiny is on the scene. Shameful.

(though, I wonder if voting for Hillary would give abhi an in with Huma Abedin?)


They hate us for our freedoms

via thabet, comes indications that the bugging of UK MP Sadiq Khan was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg:

The covert eavesdropping of the MP Sadiq Khan is alleged to be just the first case in a far wider operation to bug terrorist suspects and other serious criminals introduced after the September 11 attacks.

Lawyers, including the human rights solicitors Gareth Peirce and Mudassar Arani, were allegedly "routinely bugged" by police during visits to see clients at Woodhill prison. Listening devices were said to have been concealed in tables at the jail.

Nationally it is thought that many more people may have been covertly recorded.
The scandal came to light after Mr Khan, a Muslim Labour MP, was covertly recorded during two visits to a terrorist suspect held at Wood­hill prison in Milton Keynes in 2005 and 2006.

It led to a political outcry as the bugging of MPs has been prohibited since the 1960s. Mr Straw was forced to set up an inquiry. He insisted he had known nothing of the operation before last weekend, although it later emerged that officials in his department had learnt of the allegations two months ago.

Now someone with detailed knowledge of the operation claims that Mr Khan's visits were allegedly among "hundreds of conversations" bugged by Det Sgt Mark Kearney during his time with a four-man intelligence team based at the prison since early 2002.

The recordings are deemed so sensitive that copies are stored at a secret facility protected by armed guards.

Initially, only a handful of prisons implemented the alleged bugging policy - including Woodhill and Belmarsh - but over the past 18 months the secret policy is alleged to have been rolled out across Britain.

it's not just the UK, of course - here in the US we also have the fight over FISA. On one side we have the Constitution and our rule of law, and on the other we have those who would tear those thing asunder for the sake of "security". They hate our freedoms, indeed.


hijab as political symbol

The headscarf ban in Turkey has been partially lifted, marking a significant step away from the secularist legacy of Kemal Attaturk:

Turkey's parliament voted on Saturday to lift a ban on female students wearing the Muslim headscarf at university, a landmark decision that some Turks say will undermine the foundations of the secular state.

Parliament, where the ruling centre-right AK Party has a big majority, approved the constitutional amendments by 411 votes to 103.
The headscarf issue cuts to the heart of Muslim but secular, Western-oriented Turkey's complex identity.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party, which has Islamist roots, says the headscarf ban is an unfair denial of individual rights and religious liberty in a European Union candidate country where two thirds of women cover their heads.

Erdogan's own wife and daughters wear the headscarf as do those of President Abdullah Gul and many AK Party ministers.

But Turkey's old secular elite, which includes the judiciary, university rectors and army generals, regards the headscarf ban as crucial for maintaining a strict separation of state and religion.

Opponents of the hijab argue it is a slippery slope towards "Islamic" rule, but since the hijab is clearly a statement of free speech in the Turkish context (unlike in Saudi Arabia, where it is a symbol of oppression), denying it is arguably on the slippery slope towards oppression as well. Given Turkey's secularist background, the dangers of a slide into Islamic rule are slim, whereas maintaining such strict bans is probably what gave the Islamic parties in parliament their life to begin with. The people of Turkey are muslim, regardless of the elite's secularist tastes. Trying to oppress that identity only serves to strengthen it in opposition and resistance. Providing it the outlets it needs is the best way to tame it towards more useful channels. It isn't the Islamic political parties arguing you cant be Turkish and muslim at the same time.



Micharl Savage went on one of his trademark rants about muslims and CAIR:

"I'm not gonna put my wife in a hijab. And I'm not gonna put my daughter in a burqa. And I'm not gettin on my all-fours and braying to Mecca. And you could drop dead if you don't like it. You can shove it up your pipe. I don't wanna hear anymore about Islam. I don't wanna hear one more word about Islam. Take your religion and shove it up your behind. I'm sick of you."

"What kind of religion is this? What kind of world are you living in when you let them in here with that throwback document in their hand, which is a book of hate. Don't tell me I need reeducation. They need deportation. I don't need reeducation. Deportation, not reeducation. You can take C-A-I-R and throw 'em out of my country. I'd raise the American flag and I'd get out my trumpet if you did it. Without due process. You can take your due process and shove it."

"What sane nation that worships the U.S. constitution, which is the greatest document of freedom ever written, would bring in people who worship a book that tells them the exact opposite. Make no mistake about it, the Quran is not a document of freedom. The Quran is a document of slavery and chattel. It teaches you that you are a slave."

CAIR has a lengthy rebuttal and an audio excerpt posted as well; listen to it by clicking here.

Savage was not amused by this and is trying to sue CAIR, invoking copyright law. As Ars Technica notes, this is a pretty blatant attempt at silencing his critics and the use of the audio is obviously fair use. The EFF has gotten involved and is helping CAIR defend against Savage's lunacy. Savage's actual legal filing was barely coherent, filled with

an extended rant about "CAIR and it's [sic] terror connections" and how the group was "tied to terror from the day it was formed."

Savage isn't just upset about copyright; in fact, he complains at one point that his remarks were taken out of context and that many other selections (i.e., more copying) from his show would indicate his regard for Muslims. Savage is upset that CAIR used the clip to convince some advertisers to pull their support for his show, a practice he seems to think is illegal.

He also makes a racketeering claim against the group and says that "the role of CAIR and CAIR-Canada is to wage PSYOPS (psychological warfare) and disinformation activities on behalf of Whabbi-based [sic] Islamic terrorists throughout North America. They are the intellectual 'shock troops' of Islamic terrorism."

instead of anything actually resembling a substantive legal argument. presumably he'll blame his impending legal loss on the dirty liberals and their mental disease.


I'm sick of being on the retarded team

just great:

An article about the Prophet Muhammad in the English-language Wikipedia has become the subject of an online protest in the last few weeks because of its representations of Muhammad, taken from medieval manuscripts.

I wish we had a religious equivalent of Australia. We could ship the loons there and then their descendants would create an enlightened civilization with cool slang and wicked senses of humor.

I suppose I should mention again that there is no insult to Islam whatsoever in depicting the Prophet SAW. In fact, Muslims have depicted the Prophet SAW throughout history. Here's one example (via sepoy), entitled "Muhammad and his companions" circa 17th century:

muhammad and his companions

And non-muslims have also done so, not solely to offend but also to pay sincere homage, such as on the frieze of the United States Supreme Court honoring Muhammad SAW as a lawgiver:

Depiction of the Prophet SAW at the Supreme Court as a lawgiver

so, frak off, you loons.


Kalpana Chawla, 1961-2003

Five years ago, Shuttle mission STS-107 was lost over the skies of Texas. I remember that morning clear as day. I've got a memoriam post at my geekblog for the mission as a whole, but I wanted to also make special note here of Indian astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who also perished aboard Columbia as a member of the crew and India's first female in space.

Wikipedia notes that Kalpana in Sanskrit means "imagination of the mind" and thus also "creation".