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Entries in islam (15)

Thursday
Sep132012

Police Sent to California Home of "Innocence of Muslims" Producer

Thinkstock/Getty Images(CERRITOS, Calif.) -- As outrage over the anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims spreads across the Middle East, police were sent to the California home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the film's producer, who according to authorities is frightened for his life.

Sheriff's Deputies were sent to the Cerritos, Calif., home of Nakoula, 55, on Thursday to protect him and his family, a senior law enforcement official told ABC News.  According to a sheriff, the police were at Nakoula's home overnight Thursday but have now left, as media reports identifying him as the man behind Innocence of Muslims, and listing his address, have circulated.

According to California law enforcement officials, Nakoula, who is also known to authorities as Bacily Nakoula, was frightened for his life and "scared of retaliation" against his family.

Sheriffs from the Cerritos police station were sent to his home to keep Nakoula safe and to provide a uniformed presence to assist the members from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, official reports said.

A senior official said that they also had sent local law enforcement officers to the production company Media for Christ on Hamilton Avenue in Duartes, Calif., to keep watch on the facility, which authorities said was affiliated with making the film that has been a trigger for anti-U.S. violence and protest in several countries.

On Thursday, protesters rushed the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, while further demonstrations broke out outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

Two days earlier, protesters in Cairo scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down the American flag in an angry demonstration against the film that depicts the founder of Islam as a fraud and a womanizer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Who Is Sam Bacile? Anti-Islam Filmmaker's Bio Doesn't Add Up

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The filmmaker who produced an incendiary, anti-Muslim movie that stirred extremists on Tuesday to storm the U.S. embassy in Egypt -- and may be linked to the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya -- may have gone into hiding, as doubts rose as to his true identity.

Following Tuesday's riots, a California man calling himself Sam Bacile took credit for making the film Innocence of the Muslims and identified himself as an Israeli Jew in two news interviews.

But a search of public records and inconsistencies in Bacile's own accounts, as well as information from a radical Christian who helped produced the movie all suggest that "Sam Bacile" is a pseudonym and is not Israeli but an Arab Christian.

"I've met him twice.  He is not a citizen of Israel.  He is in hiding," Steve Klein, a member of a far-right anti-Islamic Christian group who says he helped with the film's production, told ABC News.

Klein said Bacile was not Israeli or Jewish, and suggested he was an Arab Christian who was a U.S. citizen.

Three U.S. Christian groups, including two identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Council, and a third that advocates for Egyptian Christians, or Copts, have been linked to the production or eventual distribution of the movie.

The controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, who in 2010 sparked riots in Afghanistan after burning copies of the Koran, told ABC News that he had been contacted to help distribute the film.

Klein, a member of the Church of Kaweah, listed as an anti-Muslim hate group, said Bacile and the film's other backers were "refugees from the Middle East."

"The folks that I'm working with have come from a culture where they've been tracked down, driven from their homes.  Close family members have been kidnapped, raped and murdered," said Klein of the filmmaker.

Christians in much of the Middle East are persecuted and their plight has been made a cause for many American fundamentalist Christians.

Clips of the low-budget movie, which portrays the prophet Mohammed as a fraud, pedophile and homosexual, appeared on the YouTube page of a person identified as "Sam Bacile," who also left a later YouTube comment in colloquial Egyptian Arabic.

Searches of federal and state public records including civil and criminal court documents and real estate filings revealed no mention of anyone with Bacile's name. 

There is no record of a Sam Bacile, or a similarly named person, having received a real estate license in California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Muslim Leaders in DC Condemn Libya Attacks and Anti-Muslim Film

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Council on American-Islami Relations (CAIR) and Muslim leaders in Washington Wednesday condemned the violence in Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
 
“We are shocked and outraged by the killing of the US Ambassador in Benghazi.” Said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “It is a crime against humanity.”
 
Awad addressed the possibility that the attack could have been spurned by the anti-Muslim movie demeaning the Prophet Muhammad circulating on the Internet.  “It is a trashy film … it doesn’t even deserve our attention.” Awad said. “The prophet never returned an insult with an insult.”
 
“We should not play into the hands of the extremists here in this country or there.” Awad said. “We should rise above.”
 
Also speaking at the event was a friend of Ambassador Stevens, Esam Omeish, director of the Libyan Emergency Task Force. Omeish discussed recently meeting with Amb. Stevens at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli and the pride Stevens had showing him the new visa section so that the embassy could help Libyans find more opportunities in the United States.
 
“This is a sad day for Libyan-American friendship, but these colossal events will not detract us nor deter us from pursuing a brighter future of freedom,” Omeish said.
 
Omeish said Stevens was a “man of honor, dedication and commitment to the progress of Libya and freedom of the Libyan people. … He was there. … I will surely miss him.”
 
CAIR communications director, Ibrahim Hooper, said that the Muslim community was not worried about reprisal attacks or an increase in hate crimes, but they were mindful of that possibility.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Father of 'American Taliban' Is 'Proud' of Son's Testimony in Group Prayer Lawsuit

John Walker Lindh's mother and father, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, in 2002. SHAWN THEW/AFP/Getty Images(TERRE HAUTE, Ind.) -- The father of John Walker Lindh, the young American who was captured in Afghanistan after 9/11 and sentenced to prison for aiding the Taliban against U.S. troops, said he is proud of his son for fighting in court Monday for the right to pray with other Muslim prisoners.

"I was really proud of John," Frank Lindh told ABC News. "Today he did such a good job of explaining the daily prayer. It was a really well-informed testimony. It shows how much depth of knowledge he has about Islam."

John Lindh, who pleaded guilty to helping the Taliban and carrying explosives, testified in court Monday that a prison policy limiting group prayer has forced him to sin.

Lindh, 31, is suing prison officials for the right to pray five times a day with fellow Islamic inmates instead of praying alone in his cell.

Lindh is being held in the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

"I am a Muslim and my religion requires that I perform five daily prayers in congregation. This is mandatory and not optional," Lindh wrote in a handwritten complaint to prison officials that was also filed in federal court.

A ban on daily group prayer was instituted in 2007 after Muslim inmates ignored a lockdown caused by a fire alarm, court documents stated. Inmates are free to pray in their individual cells.

Every Friday, Lindh and his fellow inmates in the specialized unit are permitted to gather in the multipurpose room of the prison for the Jum'ah prayer service, which the Koran dictates must be done in a group, court documents stated.

The Communications Management Unit, which was established in 2006, has been referred to as "Guantanamo North." Inmates whose communications are considered "high risk" to the prison community and the public's security are housed in individual cells within the unit, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Amos Guiora, a professor of law at the University of Utah who teaches religion and terrorism courses, said daily group prayers in the unit are unlikely to be a terrorism concern.

"I don't think it raises security concerns, but if it goes beyond the text of the prayer than I can understand how it could be seen as a security question," Guiora said.

The daily prayers typically take "only a few minutes," according to Lindh's lawsuit.

Frank Lindh said he and John's mother take turns each month commuting from their homes in California to visit their son in Terre Haute, which is 70 miles from Indianapolis.

He said he gets a 15-minute phone call from his son every Wednesday, while John's mother gets a call every Sunday.

"It's a very safe environment for John. I'm sorry he's in prison but this is the best circumstance, that he is not in the general population," the elder Lindh said.

John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teenager, was captured in Afghanistan on Nov. 25, 2001. During his sentencing, he condemned terrorism and said he made a "mistake" joining the Taliban.

"Although I thought I knew a good deal about the Taliban when I went to the front line, it's clear to me now that there were many things of which I was not aware," he said.

At the end of his testimony Monday, Lindh was placed in chains and transported back to Terre Haute. On Tuesday, he will be provided with a video link so he can still be present during proceedings in his case, his father said.

Lindh is eligible for release in 2019.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan032012

New York Arson Attacks Under Investigation as Hate Crimes

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Four arson attacks in Queens, N.Y., are being investigated as possible hate crimes against Muslims, police said.

The attacks, which took place around 8 p.m. Sunday, targeted an Islamic center housing a prominent Shiite mosque, a bodega and two private homes.

Police and fire officials say at least two of the attacks appear to have stemmed from a dispute at the bodega, where a customer of Guyanese descent argued with an employee.  The customer allegedly returned to the bodega and tossed a Molotov cocktail behind the counter.

Authorities were investigating whether the employee worshiped at the Islamic center, which was hit by a similar firebomb made from a glass Starbucks bottle.

"No matter what the motivation was of the individual who threw Molotov cocktails in Queens last night, his actions stand in stark contrast to the New York City of today that we've built together," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement Monday.

The door of the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation Islamic center was blackened by the blast but the building did not catch fire.

"We thank Allah (SWT) that no major damage or injury was caused by the blast," reads a message on the foundation's website.  "The Foundation reiterates its resolve to continue to serve the community and to strive to bring love where there is hatred, light where there is darkness and enlightenment where there is ignorance."

A fifth attack involving an incendiary device thrown through the front window of a home in neighboring Nassau County at 9:40 p.m. is also under investigation.  The device did not ignite a fire, and no injuries were reported.  NYPD officials say the firebomb matched the Molotov cocktails used in the first three Queens attacks.

Although none of the attacks caused any injuries, flames that erupted at one of the homes took more than 60 firefighters about 40 minutes to control.  The other home attacked, which also serves as a Hindu temple, was hit by two Molotov cocktails thrown from a van that sped away.  The bottles fizzled out.

All five incidents are under investigation as arsons.  At least some appeared to target Muslims.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

FBI Muslim Training Material ‘Inappropriate’ and ‘Offensive’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(QUANTICO, Va.) -- Controversial training material about Islam provided to a small pool of FBI agents at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. were inappropriate and offensive, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Thursday.

The briefing documents, first revealed by Wired’s Danger Room blog, emphasized that mainstream Muslims are violent, and included a graphic that shows that Muslims who are, “Pious and Devout” have tended to be more violent historically than Christians or Jews.  The briefing slides noted, “Jihad is motivated by the strategic themes and drivers in Islam,” while another described the prophet Mohammad as a “Cult Leader.”

The FBI has previously said that the use of such training materials was quickly halted.  But Mueller expressed his concern about the training materials Thursday, appearing before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Questioned by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., about the training materials, Mueller said, “I think that’s a very valid concern.  And as I have pointed out, I think this is an unusual, very unusual occasion.  And this particular instance the individual who gave the training -- reports of what had been in that training came to -- came up from the students and we took action to assure that that inappropriate, offensive content was not provided to others."

“I think these are isolated incidents, and in the course of that review we’ve had outreach to academicians and others to assist us in reviewing the materials and assuring that that offensive -- that offensive content does not appear,” Mueller said.  “We have 34,000 employees and we do a great deal of training.  We understand the sensitivity and the importance of assuring that that training that we give to our persons are appropriate...I  believe these were unusual circumstances, but we are doing everything we can to do a top-to-bottom review of that training to assure we eliminate any of it.”

Mueller said that the FBI needed diverse training for FBI agents to identify future threats.

“It should not be based on religion; it should not be based on religious characteristics.  But, nonetheless, we have an obligation to identify those particular characteristics that might give us a warning as to a person who will undertake an attack against the United States," he said.

“It’s not necessarily the international terrorism side alone,” Mueller said of the range of threats the FBI faces.  “We have militants within the United States...and there’s a certain amount of investigation that has to be done to enable us to identify those persons who would undertake the attacks against the United States.  But we want to assure, and I assure you that we want to do it in such a way that is consistent with our values."

“Our outreach over the years has been very successful, I think, in bridging the relationships with the Muslim-American community.  And this is, I think something that’s unfortunate, and we’ve addressed it,” Mueller said in defense of the FBI’s outreach to Muslim-Americans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul132011

'Ground Zero Mosque' Clears Legal Hurdle to Build

Protesters attend a pro-mosque rally near the proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2010 in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- The backers of the controversial "Ground Zero Mosque" have won a court fight clearing the way for them to build the mosque and community center complex two blocks from the site of the 9/11 terror attack.

In a decision that was made public Wednesday, New York State Supreme Justice Paul Feinman dismissed a lawsuit by former firefighter Timothy Brown who argued that New York City was wrong to allow the destruction of a 150-year-old building to make way for the Islamic center.

The ex-firefighter who was among those who responded to the terror attack on the World Trade Center said the old building had been struck by debris during the collapse of the twin towers and was a "living representative of the heroic structures that commemorate the events of that day."

In a 15-page decision Feinman wrote, "Mr. Brown's claim that his ability to commemorate will be injured, is not yet recognized under the law as a concrete injury that can establish standing. Such an injury, although palpable to Brown, is immeasurable by a court."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative legal group that filed the lawsuit on Brown's behalf, said they plan to appeal the ruling.

"This decision fails to give appropriate consideration to first responders and others who risked their lives and lost loved ones on Sept. 11," ACLJ attorney Brett Joshpe said in a statement.

The ACLJ "remain[s] confident that this mosque will never rise above Ground Zero."

Brown and the ACLJ were appealing a ruling last summer by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission which decided to allow a 150-year-old Park Place building to be razed to make way for the center, a project dubbed Park 51.

The cultural center's chief organizer, Feisal Abdul Raufsaid he is "certainly in agreement with the ruling."

"Tim Brown is somebody who I met more than once and we expressed our sensitivities to the issues of the 9/11 families, many of whom are our friends. We have a strong commitment make sure whatever we do meets the sensitivity of the families," Rauf told ABCNews.com.

Rauf and other organizers, who include his wife Daisy Khan and Sharif el-Gamal, plan to erect a mosque and a $150 million "architecturally iconic" complex a couple blocks from Ground Zero to "benefit the whole community." But funding remains a question.

Rauf said that the organizers are putting together a capital campaign to fund Park 51. "A lot of things are being looked at, donors, loans and how to pay it off. There's a lot of work that goes into putting it together," he said.

Rauf said organizers don't expect to break ground for another three to five years.

Project 51 has been a source of national controversy since its unveiling last May. Opponents as well as supporters demonstrated at Ground Zero in reaction to the commission's decision to allow the mosque last August. Opponents were vocal in expressing their opinion that a mosque so close to the spot where Islamic terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center represented a victory monument to the attacks.

President Obama was drawn into the controversy when he initially endorsed the mosque. "As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at a White House ceremony last summer that marked the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

But in a visit to the Gulf Coast subsequent to that comment, Obama later dialed back his public support, saying that he supported the Muslims community's right to build the mosque, but was not sure it was a good idea to build so close to Ground Zero.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May112011

Mosque Controversy: 'Bomb Making' Sign Riles Neighbors

Comstock/Thinkstock(AMHERST, N.Y.) -- A dispute over a mosque in Amherst, New York, has the community buzzing about a sign posted in a neighbor's yard that reads, "Bomb Making: Next Driveway."

Many of the mosque's other neighbors have come to its defense, saying linking the religious center to terrorism is preposterous, and though town officials say they don't like the sign, they say there is nothing they can do about it.

The dispute started when the Jaffarya Islamic Center started a new mosque construction two years ago.  According to Amherst town supervisor Barry Weinstein, the homeowner next to the mosque had several disputes with the mosque leaders and the town council over the facility's lighting and fencing.

The property is zoned for a community facility, and there are several businesses on the street, but the mosque is next to a residential property.

After several investigations by the town council and police department over the sign, they have determined that the sign is protected by the first amendment and cannot be forcibly removed.  Weinstein has made several attempts to contact the homeowner and Police Captain Michael Camilleri says they did speak with the homeowner over the civil matter.

"Other than monitor the situation, there's nothing that we can do," Camilleri said.

The grand opening celebration of the mosque is scheduled for Saturday, when leaders and participants will come from Ontario and New York City to participate in events.

The person listed at the residence with the sign, Michael Heick, could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May052011

Teacher Mocks Muslim Student, Claims Osama Bin Laden Connection

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A Houston math teacher is under scrutiny after allegedly making racially-fueled comments to a Muslim student regarding the death of Osama bin Laden.

The female student, an American-born ninth-grader at Clear Brook High School, said that her algebra teacher told her "I bet you're grieving" about the death of the former al Qaeda leader, according to ABC News Houston affiliate KTRK-TV. He then proceeded to refer to bin Laden as the girl’s uncle, at which point she broke into tears.

“His response was, 'Oh, okay,' and just kind of smirked and giggled and walked away," the girl’s mother, who asked that she and her daughter’s identities not be released, said.

The school district was quick to distance itself from the instructor, whose identity has also not been released.

“The sentiments allegedly shared by this teacher are not reflective of the staff at Clear Brook High School or anyone within the Clear Creek Independent School District,” administrators said in a statement.

The teacher has been placed on administrative leave and an investigation into the incident is underway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May022011

Muslim-Americans React to Death of Osama Bin Laden

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Muslim-American associations in the Washington, D.C., area lauded the death of Osama Bin Laden in a press conference Monday and said the country must focus on moving forward.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, reiterated the stance that bin Laden never represented the interests of the Muslim community and expressed hope that people across the world would disassociate Bin Laden and al Qaeda from the religion of Islam.

“Osama bin Laden never represented our community, Islam or Muslims.  In fact, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in addition to killing thousands of Americans on 9/11,” Awad said.  “He and al Qaeda have killed countless of innocent Muslims in the world that followed 9/11.  Our thoughts and prayers are always and have been always with the families of those who were killed on 9/11 and those who were killed in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“In those ten years, we have grown.  We’ve grown as a nation.  We’ve learned more about one another that has created a resilience that I believe now demonstrates that the Phoenix is rising out of the ashes of 9/11,” Imam Johari Abdul Malik, an executive committee member of the Council of Muslim Organizations, said.

Despite bin Laden’s death, they warned al Qaeda will continue to maintain a strong presence in the world. 

“Osama bin Laden’s name and his videos will no longer be produced to remind us of the hatred he fomented,” Abdul Malik said.  “It is also a day to say we have to move beyond the acts of revenge to reconciliation, that unfortunately al Qaeda still exists and they will continue to foment a message that is un-Islamic.”

They urged leaders to exercise caution and move away from a system of divisiveness to one of reconciliation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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