Islam and Islamism in America in 2015: Part II April-June 2015

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, January 29, 2016:

  • More than half (51%) of Muslims in America believe they should “have the choice of being governed according to Sharia.” Only 39% of those polled said that Muslims in the U.S. should be subject to American courts. Nearly a quarter believed that, “It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.” Nearly one-fifth of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the U.S. is justified in order to make Sharia the law of the land in this country. – Poll commissioned by the Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C.
  • “Ramadan is a special prayer time, a time for religion. We double-park here every Friday and they [allow it], but today they gave us all tickets, almost 100 cabs. This has never happened before. I can’t help but to think they are being prejudiced. They don’t understand. We have to be here.” – Mohammad Zaman, New York City cab driver.
  • “We have no way … to know who these people are … we don’t have databases on these individuals so we can’t properly vet them, to know where they came from, to know what threat they pose.” – Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, commenting on the Obama administration plan to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S.
  • ISIS is operating training camps just a few miles from El Paso, Texas. – Judicial Watch, citing Mexican law enforcement and intelligence sources.
  • Officials at Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, canceled “hijab day” after parents expressed opposition. Female students were asked to wear a headscarf, or hijab, for an entire school day, followed by a time for reflection and discussion.

The following is a chronological survey of some of the main stories about Islam and Islamism in America during the second quarter of 2015. Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Left: In June 2015, the New York Police Department issued parking tickets to more than 100 Muslim cab drivers parked illegally outside a mosque on the Upper West Side during Ramadan. Right: In January 2015, after complaints from Muslim students at the University of Minnesota, the university ordered that posters depicting a caricature of Mohammed be taken down. The ban was later rescinded.

APRIL 2015

April 1. Ahlam Ahmed, an 18-year-old year-old from Queens, said she wanted to become the first female Muslim firefighter in New York City. Ahmed stands five feet tall and weighs just 105 pounds. In an interview with the Village Voice, Ahmed expressed more concern over the dress code than the physical requirements for the job. “I have to be covered,” she said. “I love wearing the scarf. It’s for protection.” FDNY press officer Elisheva Zakheim said: “We try to accommodate religious practices, but safety is our first concern, be it male or female. We approach a lot of these questions on a case-by-case basis.”

April 2. A study by the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center forecast that, if current trends continue, there will be more Muslims in North America than Jews by 2035. The study, “The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050,” states that in the United States, Muslims will comprise 2.1% of the population in 2050, up from 0.9% in 2010. Jews, meanwhile, will fall to 1.4% of the U.S. population from 1.8% in 2010.

April 2. A newsletter distributed by the Republican Central Committee in Bonneville County, Idaho, included an article, “Islam in Idaho,” which warned that Muslims are “infiltrating” the state, and that Muslims have been taught to “be ready to rise up and kill” non-Muslims. The article called on readers to “demand that our lawmakers and law enforcers pay attention and ascertain whether or not there is a potential threat.”

April 7. U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House, criticized “less-than-loving” Christians. His remarks came just days after he sanitized any reference to Islam after jihadists slaughtered 148 Christians at a college in Garissa, Kenya. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said Obama’s comments at the prayer breakfast were “very disturbing.” He added:

“This comes right on the heels of Muslim madmen singling out Christians, calling them out by name, knowing which ones they wanted to execute, in Kenya. We have a president who never mentions the word ‘Christians’ except when he wants to denigrate them.”

He doesn’t want to offend Muslims. But he obviously doesn’t mind offending Christians. Somehow it’s okay to speak about Christians disappointing him, because they don’t always act with love. Well, that’s true. But what a grand opportunity to make a statement about what happened last week in Kenya. And once again, he’s silent with Christians when it comes to us being the victims of genocide.”

April 7. A scheduled screening of “American Sniper” at the University of Michigan was abruptlycancelled after school officials received complaints that the film perpetuates “negative and misleading stereotypes” against Muslims. A statement said: “While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcomed at our program.” On April 16, the university reversed its decision.

April 8. Writing in a magazine called Index on Censorship, the organizers of a women’s conference at the University of South Dakota recounted attempts by Muslim groups to ban a screening of Honor Diaries, a documentary film about the worldwide problem of honor killings and other violence against women.

April 8. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded that a high school teacher in Richmond, Texas, be disciplined for distributing “virulently anti-Muslim” material to students. The 8-page handout, distributed in a senior economics class at Richmond’s Foster High School, said that “Islam is more of an ideology than a religion. It is also an ideology of war.” The document also said that Muslims believe all governments except Islamic ones should be overthrown. “Only a strong response to this attempt at student indoctrination will send a message that our schools must never be incubators of hate,” said CAIR.

April 10. A HuffPost/YouGov poll found that more than half (55%) of Americans say they have unfavorable views of Islam, and six in 10 either are not interested or do not know whether they want to learn more about the faith. Just 7% said they had a very favorable view of the religion, and 14% said they saw it somewhat favorably.

April 13. Writing in Time magazine, Muslim feminist Asra Nomani described how Muslim groups pressed Duke University to cancel a speech she was invited to give to argue for a progressive, feminist interpretation of Islam in the world. The president of the Duke chapter of the Muslim Students Association sent an email to Muslim students about Nomani’s “views” and alleging that she was in a nefarious “alliance” with “Islamophobic speakers.” After she asked for evidence against her, Duke University re-invited her. Nomani wrote:

“This experience goes beyond feminism to a broader debate over how too many Muslims are responding to critical conversations on Islam with snubs, boycotts, and calls for censorship, exploiting feelings of conflict avoidance and political correctness to stifle debate. As a journalist for 30 years, I believe we must stand up for America’s principles of free speech and have critical conversations, especially if they make people feel uncomfortable.

“By standing on stage, I was standing up to the forces in our Muslim communities that are increasingly using tactics of intimidation and smears such as “Islamophobe,” “House Muslim,” “Uncle Tom,” “native informant,” “racist” and “bigot” to cancel events with which they disagree.

“These dynamics of silencing are often used against women such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born activist and author of a new book, Heretic. Brandeis University uninvited her from speaking after protests from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Students Association last year, and the Muslim Students Association at Yale University protested her speech at the university last fall.”

April 13. Nearly 300 Muslim delegates from more than 20 states met with elected officials and congressional staffers on Capitol Hill during the first-ever National Muslim Advocacy Day. The event was sponsored by the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of American Muslim groups, some of which are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Former FBI counterterrorism agent John Guandolo said the event was a “cunning bid by radical Islam to gain political power in the United States.”

April 14. Judicial Watch, citing Mexican law enforcement and intelligence sources, reported that ISIS is operating training camps just a few miles from El Paso, Texas:

“The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, targets New Mexico towns for easy access to the United States.

“During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

“According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling — and working for Juárez Cartel — help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

“Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity. The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.”

April 14. Students at Union Grove High School in Wisconsin were asked to “pretend you’re a Muslim” and “give three examples of what you do daily for your religion and any struggles you face.” WISN talk radio host Vicki McKenna posted the writing assignment on Twitter. “I feel that the purpose of the assignment is to show prejudices towards Muslims in America or to invent them or exaggerate them,” said one parent.

April 14. The Justice Department said U.S. citizens and residents can now find out whether they are on the “no-fly” list and possibly receive a summary of the reasons for their placement in the secret database. Around 47,000 people are on the no-fly list, 800 of whom are Americans. They are barred from boarding a U.S. carrier, a U.S.-bound flight or entering U.S. airspace.

April 16. A legislative committee in Augusta, Maine, voted 8-2 to reject a bill that attempted to codify the state and U.S. constitutions as the law of the land. The legislation, LD 330, was modeled after a law passed in Tennessee aimed at preventing the use of Muslim Sharia law in state courts there.

April 17. Officials at Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, canceled “hijab day” after parents expressed opposition. Female students were asked to wear a headscarf, or hijab, for an entire school day, followed by a time for reflection and discussion. Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart said the “Covered Girl Challenge,” sponsored by MHS’ Muslim Students Association, was meant to combat stereotypes Muslim women may face when wearing head coverings. Former school board candidate Sharon Poe said: “My belief is wearing these hijabs represents the oppression of women and Sharia law. I do not recall ever getting an email announcing a Christian Cross Wearing day or a booth for information about the Christian persecution from Islamic terrorists. What happened to the argument of the separation of church and state?”

April 20. The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of groups, defended Turkey ahead of Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on April 24. The USCMO published a statement opposing any recognition of the genocide of Armenian Christians in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. The group claims there has not been a “proper investigation of these events by independent historians.”

April 20. Turkish media reported that U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed to accompany Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the inauguration ceremony of a $100 million mega-mosque in Lanham, Maryland.

April 22. Amir from Seattle, Washington, sought advice on his student loans from financial guru Steve Rhode:

“I recently called to ask if I could get a lower pay-off amount as the original loans were 32K and now they are up to about 64K because of deferment and interest. They said no. My conditions have changed. I was born into Islam, however, never knew much about my religion. Since 2012, I have been learning more about my faith and it is strictly forbidden in my faith to have dealings with interest. I am offering to pay off the original amount I owe. However, due to religious reasons, I would like them to recognize that my awareness and conditions have changed from the time of originally accepting the loan. Can I get the interest wiped out and close this account and case with just paying the original amount borrowed?”

April 22. Mohamed S. Abdullahi, 30, of Phoenix, Arizona, was arrested after physically and sexually assaulting a woman after their arranged marriage. Police said the victim’s parents had married her to Abdullahi without her knowledge. After she learned of the marriage, she fled the state, but returned two weeks later to finish high school. The victim’s family members reportedly took her to Abdullahi’s residence against her will on April 20. Police said Abdullahi punched, bit and strangled her before sexually assaulting her.

April 23. In a letter, U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and André Carson (D-IN) asked the Obama administration to ban Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders from visiting the United States because of his anti-Islam views: “We respectfully request that the U.S. government deny Mr. Wilders entry due to his participation in inciting anti-Muslim aggression and violence. Mr. Wilders’ policy agenda is centered on the principle that Christian culture is superior to other cultures.”

April 24. The U.S. Justice Department said it would “monitor” an Arkansas gun range that declared itself a “Muslim-free zone.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) complained about statements by Jan Morgan, the owner of Gun Cave Shooting Range in Hot Springs. In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, CAIR said the range was “systematically banning Muslims from a place of business” and that doing so was “a violation of federal laws prohibiting racial and religious discrimination.”

April 24. The University of Maryland (UMD) postponed a screening of the film, American Sniper, after the UMD’s Muslim Students Association complained that the film “only serves to fuel hatred, promote Islamophobia, and discriminate against Muslim individuals.” One of UMD’s most famous graduates, retired American football quarterback and current sports commentator Boomer Esiason, tweeted he was “never donating another dime” to the school. “As a 9/11/01 victim I’m deeply saddened and insulted. #ChrisKyle is a hero!” Pastor Franklin Graham wrote:

“Can you believe that the University of Maryland canceled a screening of the movie American Sniper after Muslim students complained? Shame on the University of Maryland for listening to these voices! If these Muslim students can’t support the military members who do their job to protect us, let them leave America and go to a Muslim country. God bless America and our heroes!”

April 28. A middle school teacher in Georgia was fired after she criticized President Barack Obama and his supporters in front of students. Nancy Perry allegedly told students at Dublin Middle School that Obama is Muslim and Christians should not support him.

April 29. The board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) voted 9-2 to ban political and religious ads on all subways and buses in New York City. The move came a week after Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl ordered the MTA to run an ad from the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a free speech advocacy group. The ad featured a Muslim man with his face covered and the Hamas quote: “Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.”

April 29. An internal investigation found that the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota did not violate university policies on discrimination when it published a flyer depicting a caricature of Mohammed. Controversy erupted in January, when several professors organized a panel discussion about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. The panel was promoted with a flyer which recreated a Charlie Hebdo cover, with a red “CENSORED” stamp on top of it. After Muslim students complained, the university ordered that the posters be taken down, but then reversed the ban, saying it was a mistake. “There is no question in my mind that this poster was protected speech,” said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law. Professor Bruno Chaouat, who helped to organize the event, said the university’s decision to launch an investigation was part of a worrisome trend: “I think what’s going on is a global problem … of self-censorship.”

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Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. His first book, Global Fire, will be out in 2016.