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Entries in Muslims (7)

Friday
Sep142012

Secretary Clinton Delivers Powerful Religion Speech After Middle East Embassy Attacks

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary Clinton delivered a powerful and personal speech about religion at an Eid ul-Fitr reception, marking the end of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The speech, at times, was a direct response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East, and the deaths of four diplomats at the hands of militants in Libya.

In her remarks, Clinton repeated much of what she’s said in the last two days, namely that the Benghazi attack was carried out by a “small and savage group,” and that the United States completely rejects what she called the “inflammable and despicable” anti-Muslim film circulating the Internet. However, Clinton pointed out all religions have faced insults and denigration, but that’s no justification for violence.  The response to such insults is what separates people of true faith from those who would use religion as an excuse to commit violent acts, she said.

“When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence,” said Clinton. “The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.”

She spoke movingly about her own personal beliefs as a way of re-enforcing her point.

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults.  They have withstood offense for centuries,” said Clinton. "Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

She asked the crowd to work towards building a world where if one person commits a violent religious act, millions of people will stand up and condemn it.

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer,” Clinton said forcefully. “They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

The secretary urged the audience not to be discouraged by the hatred and violence that exists, but instead resolve to do something tangible to promote religious tolerance in their own communities.

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue,” she reflected. “But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,” she said.

This year’s annual Eid event honored three young Muslim-Americans who are part of the State Department’s Generation Change program. The initiative, launched by Clinton two years ago, supports young Muslims to develop positive organizations and movements around the world.

Clinton acknowledged that given the deaths of the diplomats killed in Libya this week, the event had a more somber tone than in years past. But she also highlighted the outpouring of support the United States has received from the Muslim world.  She thanked the Libyan ambassador, Ali Suleiman Aujali, who gave a heartfelt tribute to U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, whom he called his dear friend, killed in Benghazi on Tuesday.

“I must tell you, Madam Secretary, and tell the American people, that Chris is a hero,” said Aujali. “He loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he [was] committed -- and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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

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

Thursday
Mar082012

Eric Holder: NYPD Spying Controversy 'Disturbing'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The New York Police Department has come under criticism for spying on Muslims outside their jurisdiction. Now the U.S. Attorney General says the operation is under federal review.

The recently-disclosed tactics of New York City police monitoring Muslims across the Hudson River at New Jersey businesses and mosques has drawn the scrutiny of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  

Testifying on Thursday before a senate committee, Attorney General Eric Holder added that he, too, is concerned, calling press reports on the situation “disturbing.”

“Just what I've read in the newspapers is disturbing and these are things that are under review in the Justice Department,” he said.

The head of the FBI's New Jersey field office says the NYPD surveillance has damaged trust between federal agents and the Muslim community.

While FBI Director Robert Mueller on Wednesday declined to wade into the issue when asked about it, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Jersey field office, Mike Ward, expressed his opinion on the matter, asserting that the NYPD operating in New Jersey has damaged trust between the FBI and the Muslim community.

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

Tuesday
Aug302011

9/11 Coloring Book Draws Criticism for Portrayal of Muslims

Really Big Coloring Books Inc.(ST. LOUIS) -- As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, one publisher has memorialized it in a manner that's generating a lot of controversy. Instead of appealing to kids with doe-eyed puppies and flowers, his new coloring book, We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids' Book of Freedom, offers children drawings of the Twin Towers burning and Osama Bin Laden in the moments before he was shot hiding behind one of his wives.

And while the publisher says the doodles represent patriotism, some Muslims are arguing that the book promotes the same stereotypes that have haunted Muslim Americans for years.

Wayne Bell, publisher of Really Big Coloring Books, Inc., in St. Louis, says that the book is a memorial tribute. "It is an informational piece to help educate children on events on 9/11," Bell said. He added that it is "a simplistic, honest tool."

As he describes it, the book is a 12-hour narrative of the events that happened on the day that forever changed America. Kids can color in the Twin Towers, Navy SEALs and former President George W. Bush, just to name a few. The graphic novel depicts the attacks by showing mourning Americans and alluding to the patriotism that brought the country together. In his interview with ABC News, Bell mentioned the songs included in the book, such as "God Bless America," and how the book quotes President Bush saying, "These acts shutter steel but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."

Such words are traditionally associated with hope, resolve, and bravery. But these aren't the words that Dawud Walid is focused on.

"It's disgusting," Walid said.

He's the Michigan representative for the Council on American Islamic Relations and says that instead of finding hope in the coloring book, he found hate.

Referencing part of the book that refers to the jihadists as "freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists," Walid notes that nearly all of the mentions of Muslims in the book are accompanied by the words "terrorist" or "extremist." He says this book is more than just coloring in the lines.

"Little kids who pick up this book can have their perceptions colored by those images…it instills bias in young minds," said Walid. He says that some of the narrative and photos aren't even correct, noting that bin Laden wasn't hiding behind a wife when he was shot.

Bell stood by the book as an "honest depiction".

"The truth is the truth," Bell said, adding, "It's unfortunate that they were all Muslim and that's the part people want to erase…I don't know what else you can call them."

Walid insists that by solely portraying Muslims as extremists, Bell is doing a disservice to all the Muslim Americans affected by 9/11. The book shows pictures of a woman mourning, a cross chain dangling from her neck. "Muslim mothers lost sons too," Walid said.

Aside from nomenclature, Walid said that he's not an advocate of showing children violent images and adds that he's not a huge fan of G.I Joe.

But Bell says his PG rating on the book should be enough. He encourages parents to read the book with their children and says that the burden falls on the parents to monitor what their children should read. When asked why make a PG book at all, Bell responded, "Why not? Why make PG movies? Why make video games?"

According to Bell, the coloring book is doing quite well and was in response to several requests he got for a book of this nature. He didn't have an exact count for the company's latest venture but emphatically noted that they've been printing books as fast as they can.

His publishing company has published coloring books on a gamut of topics from dinosaurs and zoo animals to African American leaders, President Obama, superheroes of the Bible and even the Tea Party.

Bell told ABC News that he would be willing to print a book reflecting positive images in the Muslim American community. If requested, Bell said, "I'd print it tomorrow."

"Well, I'm asking him to do it right now," said Walid.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

At Ramadan Dinner, Obama Honors Muslim Americans Lost On 9/11

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- At an Iftar dinner celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan Wednesday night, President Obama honored the Muslim Americans lost on 9/11 and spoke about the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the attacks, saying, “We must be the America that goes forward as one family.”
 
“This year and every year, we must ask ourselves:  How do we honor these patriots -- those who died and those who served?  In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago.  We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for,” Obama said.
 
“An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity.  An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity,” he said. “Put simply, we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger.  This is who we are and this is who we must always be.”
 
The president, who noted that many “proud and patriotic Muslim Americans” were lost in the attacks, told family members of 9/11 victims present at Wednesday's dinner that their loved ones “live on in the love of their families and a nation that will never forget.”
 
“Like so many faiths, Islam has always been part of our American family, and Muslim Americans have long contributed to the strength and character of our country, in all walks of life.  This has been especially true over the past 10 years,” Obama said.
 
The president highlighted the many Muslim Americans that safeguard communities across the country and work to protect the nation. “Make no mistake, Muslim Americans help to keep us safe,” he said.
 
Wednesday's event marked Obama’s third Iftar dinner at the White House, celebrating the break of fasting during the month of Ramadan. The president joked at the top of his remarks that he would be brief because “this year Ramadan is entirely in August. That means the days are long, the weather is hot, and you are hungry.”
 
Also among the roughly 100 guests in the State Dining Room were 32 ambassadors, two professional football players and the first Muslim elected to serve in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
 
“Ramadan is a time of reflection and a time of devotion.  It’s an occasion to join with family and friends in celebration of a faith known for its diversity and a commitment to justice and the dignity of all human beings.  So to you and your families, Ramadan Kareem,” Obama said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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