Archive for March, 2008

60 Minutes: The Torture of Murat Kurnaz

March 28, 2008

The CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes will broadcast an interview with Brother Murnat Kurnaz this Sunday.  Kurnaz will tell of how he was tortured by the United States while in Afghanistan and after being brought to Guantanamo.  When it became clear that Mr. Kurnaz was guilty of any wrongdoing, the torture and imprisonment continued on for years, as it does for the brothers in Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons and as it continues for thousands of Muslims in the prisons of “Muslim” nations all over the world.

And it is to Allaah (swt) Alone that we can turn for help. 

You can now view the video here. 

Former Terror Detainee Recalls Captivity

Tells 60 Minutes He Was Held Underwater, Shocked, And Suspended From the Ceiling 

A German resident held by the U.S. for almost five years tells 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that Americans tortured him in many ways – including hanging him from the ceiling for five days early in his captivity when he was in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Even after determining he was not a terrorist, Murat Kurnaz says the torture continued. Kurnaz tells his story for the first time on American television this Sunday, March 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Kurnaz, an ethnic Turk born and raised in Germany, went to Pakistan in late 2001 at age 19 to study Islam and wound up in Pakistani police custody. It was three months after 9/11, and Kurnaz says the U.S. was offering bounties for suspicious foreigners. Kurnaz says he was “sold” to the Americans for $3,000 and brought to Kandahar as terrorist suspect.

He claims American troops tortured him in Afghanistan by holding his head underwater, administering electric shocks to the soles of his feet, and hanging him suspended from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar and kept alive by doctors. “Every five or six hours they came and pulled me back down and the doctor came,” he recalls. “He looked into my eyes. He checked my heart and when he said ‘okay,’ then they pulled me back up,” he tells Pelley.

Read the article here.

The Pentagon responds with the nonsensical lying rote garbage statements they’ve learned from the Commander-in-Chief “We treat all detainees humanely.”

New York Times: Many Muslims Turn to Home Schooling

March 27, 2008
Karima Tung, 12, one of three girls home-schooled by their mother, Fawzia Mai Tung. An important part of the school day: reading the Koran.  
US 
Many Muslims Turn to Home Schooling
Published: March 26, 2008
Across the United States, Muslims who find that a public school education clashes with their religious or cultural traditions have turned to educating their children at home.

See the full article here.

Abu Noor’s comments:

 The article seems a little jumbled to me.  It seems the author believed (based on some kind of statistical analysis in one very small area and I’m not sure what else) that the root of the phenomenon of Muslim home schooling was about Muslims wanting to keep their daughters out of school (and perhaps society in general) especially after they hit puberty.  Even though he felt he had statistics to back this up based on the fact that more girls were homeschooled than boys, he could not really get any Muslim parents who would talk with him to describe their reasoning in this way.  So, he reported some of the other reasons and some of their quotes but he still basically described the phenomenon the way he saw it.

Now, I wouldn’t deny that keeping kids away from the aspects of society and especially the public schools for adolescents that Muslim parents perceive as harmful is part of the drive for both Muslim schools and home schooling.  In many areas Muslim schools are not that plentiful, or parents cannot afford them, or some parents feel they may have some of the same issues the public schools have. 

The article mentions some factors that complicate this, though.  There are many converts who choose to homeschool and largely these are people who are from this country and who themselves grew up in the regular public school system.  These people often of course have the zeal of the convert as well as knowing exactly what goes in the culture.  Of course, other converts may take the attitude that they “turned out alright” or that they want their kids to be comfortable dealing with the whole society.   On the other hand, some recent immigrants may be more fearful of the society (especially for their daughters because there is no doubt that double standard is strong in many Muslim immigrant cultures) while other immigrants came here so that their children will have educational and therfore financial opportunities. 

 There is also a phenomenon represented most famously by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of a deep critique of the American educational system which goes far beyond the normal concerns about being exposed to bad influences of other kids with different moral values.  Shaykh Hamza had a famous lecture several years ago entitled “Lambs to the Slaughter” about the Western educational system and he has promoted home schooling alongside non-Muslim critics of current prevailing educational methods such as John Taylor Gatto.  Of course one perhaps paradoxical thing you will notice about many of Shaykh Hamza’s closest followers and just fans in general is that most of them are people who are either converts or children of immigrants who who have in most cases gone through the mainstream Western educational system and usually done very well in it.   

Of course, because there are at least “two Americas” it also matters if one lives in a place where the public schools are any good or a place where they are a disaster.  Similarly the whole notion of home schooling or attending a Muslim school requires communities that are either wealthy or who are really willing to sacrifice to create an alternative educational pathway for their children.  This is one thing I have to admire about the people I come from, the catholics in America, is that even at a time when most of them were not wealthy and many were immigrants they sacrificed and struggled to establish a massive alternative educational system in this country at a time when in many places the regular public school system was unabashedly a protestant one. 

My own oldest daughter, Noor (obviously!) attended a Muslim school for two years and has now attended a public school for two years since we have moved to a community with an outstanding and diverse school system (diverse racially and socially, but hardly any other Muslims).  She’s still young and we’ve been very happy with her teachers in both the Muslim school and the public school.  So, we’ll see what happens…we’re kinda making it up as we go along.  I am a big supporter of Muslim schools because I think its important that we have such institutions in our community but I must say that even in an area like the Chicago metropolitan area with hundreds of thousands of Muslims and despite all the impressive sacrifices and work of the last generation (May Allaah (swt) reward them for I grow more and more amazed at what they did accomplish as I get older) there is still only enough Muslim school infrastructure to educate a very small fraction of the Muslim children.  And with all the challenges inherent in trying to homeschool, it is clear that barring some major unforeseen change in the community, the vast majority of American Muslim school children will grow up attending the public school system, for good or for ill.

Unfair Dealing: The Toronto Homegrown Terror Threat

March 26, 2008

There is a must watch documentary available to watch regarding the alleged Toronto Terror Plot.  As with many of these stories which start with sensational allegations and much self-congratulation by authorities in the media when one actually examines the truth one sees a parade of shady informants, agent provacateurs, and government security services interested more in widening their own powers and selling a story to the public than in actually protecting anybody or in the innocent Muslim lives that are ruined. 

Go to this Muslim Matters Post to see the video.

 UPDATE:  One can also go here for more information about the brothers and how you can help.

Roundup of Easter Commemorations

March 24, 2008

The great website Slugger O’Toole

has a roundup of different Easter Commemorations from around Ireland from different segments of the Republican movement here.

Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais (Patrick Pearse)

March 23, 2008

I want close this series of posts I did for Easter weekend with a mention of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the1916 rising.  (For a dramatic retelling of the events leading up to and inc;uding the Irish Rising of 1916 including great sketches of all the amazing personalities involved I highly recommend this book.) I hope to come back to the topic of Pearse later because he was a very interesting figure.  Pearse was always deeply committed to the Irish language and cultural revival and, though early in his career he was a moderate home rule supporter, he quickly moved towards becoming one of the most radical and romantic of the 1916 leaders.  Pearse was fervently Catholic, but was also a great proponent of the pre-Christian Irish heritage as well as of the Protestant republican tradition of men like Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmett.

Other than his reading of the Easter Proclamation from the steps of the GPO (see the text here), Pearse is perhaps best remembered for his oration at the gravesite of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa

Rossa, the great Irish Fenian leader and author of “Irish Rebels in English Prisons” was exiled from Ireland in 1870 and died in the U.S. in 1915.  His body was brought back to Ireland to be buried and Pearse gave the funeral oration.

 Padraig Pearseorossa-funeral.jpgJeremiah O’Donovan Rossa Funeral

“It has seemed right, before we turn away from this place in which we have laid the mortal remains of O’Donovan Rossa, that one amongst us should, in the name of all, speak the praise of that valiant man, and endeavour to formulate the thought and the hope that are in us as we stand around his grave. And if there is anything that makes it fitting that I rather than some other–I, rather than one of the grey-haired men who were young with him, and shared in his labour and in his suffering, should speak here, it is, perhaps, that I may be taken as speaking on behalf of a new generation that has been re-baptised in the Fenian faith, and that has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the Fenian programme. I propose to you, then, that here by the grave of this unrepentant Fenian, we renew our baptismal vows; that here by the grave of this unconquered and unconquerable man, we ask of God, each one for himself, such unshakeable purpose, such high and gallant courage, such unbreakable strength of soul as belonged to O’Donovan Rossa.

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Sami Al-Arian Hungerstrike Update

March 23, 2008

Please visit this site for more information.

Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
March 18, 2008

DR. AL-ARIAN TRANSFERRED TO VIRGINA

ALEXANDRIA, Va.– On Tuesday, Mar. 18, Dr. Sami Al-Arian was transferred from the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC back to the local jail in Warsaw, Virginia where he was held previously, to comply with a judge’s March 3 order granting him immunity for a THIRD grand jury appearance. On Mar. 3 Dr. Al-Arian began a water and food strike to protest persistent harassment and psychological torture by the Department of Justice. He has since lost 30 pounds.

Dr. Al-Arian is being asked to testify before yet another grand jury less than three weeks before his scheduled release date. His attorneys have advised Dr. Al-Arian not to testify, as the plea agreement signed with prosecutors in April 2006 removed the possibility of cooperation. Additionally, these grand jury subpoenas are a trap intended to prolong Dr. Al-Arian’s imprisonment long after his promised release date. If he testifies, he is to be charged with perjury, facing years of additional prison time. If he is convicted of criminal contempt for not testifying, Dr. Al-Arian faces a minimum of five years in prison. These efforts to convict Dr. Al-Arian in a wholly separate case (more than two years after he was acquitted by a federal jury) are clearly a last-ditch, vindictive effort on behalf of the Justice Department, led by a rogue prosecutor who has made bigoted statements against Muslims, to punish Dr. Al-Arian for his acquittal. The Department of Justice must keep the promise it made to Dr. Al-Arian in his plea agreement and release him on April 7, when his current sentence is up.

Members of Dr. Al-Arian’s family visited him last weekend at the prison medical facility where he was being held in Butner, North Carolina. They observed the effects of the hunger strike on Dr. Al-Arian, noting symptoms of severe dehydration. As of Monday, Dr. Al-Arian was examined by a doctor only one time in nearly a week. The government refuses to allow an outside doctor to examine Dr. Al-Arian despite requests by his attorneys, family members, and thousands of supporters. Butner Medical Center received thousands of telephone calls from concerned people from across the country and around the world.

TAKE ACTION

Given that Dr. Al-Arian has been on a hunger strike since March 3, 2008 we urgently ask all conscientious and justice-seeking individuals to FAX OR WRITE Judge Gerald Lee to ask for an immediate end to Dr. Al-Arian’s suffering.

1- Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314

Fax: (703) 299-3339

2-Please contribute to the National Liberty Fund to help alleviate costs of Dr. Al-Arian’s legal defense:

Please send checks to:

National Liberty Fund
P.O. Box 1211
24525 E. Welches Road
Welches, OR 97067

Éirí Amach na Cásca

March 23, 2008

easterlily.jpg

The Easter Proclamation

Poblacht na h Éireann.[1]

You can read a PDF copy of the Proclamation in Irish here.

The Provisional Government
of the
Irish Republic
To the people of Ireland.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years[2] they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Easter, 1916 by William Butler Yeats

March 21, 2008

Yeats’ politics ranged across the spectrum during his lifetime, but no one can deny that he was a great force in the Irish cultural revival and that he was one of the most notable poets in the English language of the 20th century.  Here is his remarkable poem reacting to the Easter Rising of 1916.

Easter, 1916 

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

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This Blog Mentioned on Bloggingheads.tv

March 20, 2008

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9562?in=00:59:08

A big thank you to Robert Wright for calling people’s attention to this blog on my favorite web site http://bloggingheads.tv .  And a big thank you to Mickey Kaus for keeping me humble.

Michael C. Dawson: Is Obama Wrong About Wright?

March 18, 2008

I encourage people to read Michael Dawson’s piece about how Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s views are actually mainstream in the Black community. As a student of African American history, I admire Dawson’s work in the area of political science, in teasing out the various Blackamerican political attitudes and doing work on determining the popularity of different strands of ideology in the Blackamerican community today. See his work “Black Visions.”

“March 17, 2008 — Senator Obama is mistaken. The problem with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago minister who is the Obama family’s pastor and the subject of recent fierce attacks in the media, is not, as Obama has stated, that “he has a lot of the…baggage of those times,” (those times being the 1960s).

The problem is also not, as one paper characterized Obama’s position on his minister, that Wright is stuck in a “time warp,” in a period defined by racial division.

No, the problem is that Wright’s opinions are well within the mainstream of those of black America. As public opinion researchers know, the problem is that despite all the oratory about racial unity and transcending race, this country remains deeply racially divided, especially in the realm of politics.

Most white people and the mainstream media tend to be horrified (in a titillating voyeuristic type of way), when they ‘look under the hood’ to see what’s really on blacks folks’ mind. Two thirds of whites believe that blacks have achieved or will soon achieve racial equality. Nearly eighty percent of blacks believe that racial justice for blacks will not be achieved either in their lifetime or at all in the U.S. In March 2003, when polls were showing strong support among whites for an invasion of Iraq, a large majority of blacks were shown to oppose military intervention.”

Read the whole article here.

UPDATE: You can also read Michael Dawson’s post-Obama speech reaction here.

I actually have a similar attitude towards the preaching of Jeremiah Wright as I do towards that of Minister Farrakhan. I am tremendously excited by what I often hear in their preaching of the true Prophetic tradition, that which is exemplified most clearly in the Qur’an and the Old Testament. It is precisely this element that is most often missing from white Christians, where the liberals and progressives often lack the deep faith which is intrinsic to the Prophetic view of reality and where conservatives believe in what Cornel West calls “Constantinian Christianity” which is a Christianity wedded to embracing and justifying empire and the ruling elites. Of course, because I am a Muslim I have some theological issues with the specifically Christian teachings of Mr. Wright and I take those issues seriously. Also, I think that one sees in Rev. Wright and Minister Farrakhan, at least on occasion another phenomenon which I think can be rightly condemned and which is sometimes not separated out from the true Prophetic teachings that they may also express. That phenomenon is the over simplification of complex realities into charges that are false. Rather than a complex analysis of how the “war on drugs” and the “war on crime” are designed to serve the interests of certain groups and with the knowledge that immense harm will result to other groups, sometimes in the midst of giving a speech such analysis is truncated to specific claims which may be not entirely verifiable or which condemn an entire group as a whole. This is closely related to the type of conspiracy thinking which seeks succinct explanations for complex phenomenon. Many times the fact of a conspiracy is actually real but because it is complex and impossible to understand in all its aspects, it gets boiled down to a simpler conspiracy which distorts reality and may scapegoat certain groups which are vulnerable themselves.

The real point of going through all this is to state that despite the specific aspects which I refer to above which sometimes make me uncomfortable, I would be a million times more uncomfortable listening to a sermon of Constantinian Christianity or its Islamic equivalents. (I hope to outline what I see as being Prophetic Islam and what I see as the equivalent of Constantinian Islam in a future post, inshAllaah). Which is why, in America today, I am most comfortable among Blackamericans and Muslims.

The challenge for Obama is to try to condemn the specifically problematic aspects of Rev. Wright’s sermons without condemning the “Prophetic Christianity” aspects. What most people are actually calling for condemning and what he would probably have to do to become President is to condemn the “Prophetic Christianity” aspects as a whole. But then he would be losing his soul.

Allaah knows best.