Beware of extremism in religion because that was the only thing that destroyed those before you. --Prophet Muhammad, p.b.u.h.

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Muslim hero in Paris grocery attack gets French citizenship

French authorities on Tuesday honored a Mali-born Muslim employee who saved lives at the kosher supermarket attacked by terrorists as a hero and granted him French citizenship.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised Muslim Lassana Bathily, 24, for his “courage” and “heroism” during a ceremony in the presence of Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Cazeneuve said Bathily’s “act of humanity has become a symbol of an Islam of peace and tolerance.”

“Tonight I’m very proud and deeply touched,” Bathily said with tears in his eyes, humbly stressing that he doesn’t consider himself a hero. “I am Lassana. I’ll stay true to myself.”

Bathily was in the store’s underground stockroom when gunman Amedy Coulibaly burst in upstairs on Jan. 9 and killed four people. Bathily turned off the stockroom’s freezer and hid a group of shoppers inside before sneaking out through a fire escape to speak to police and help them with their operation to free the 15 hostages and kill the attacker.   »»» New York Post

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: These Terrorist Attacks Are Not About Religion | TIME

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a Muslim and a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player speaks out about terrorism.

When the Ku Klux Klan burns a cross in a black family’s yard, Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts

Another horrendous act of terrorism has taken place and people like myself who are on media speed-dial under “Celebrity Muslims” are thrust in the spotlight to angrily condemn, disavow, and explain—again—how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam.

For me, religion—no matter which one—is ultimately about people wanting to live humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance and friendship with those outside the religious community. Any religious rules should be in service of this goal. The Islam I learned and practice does just that.

Violence committed in the name of religion is never about religion—it’s ultimately about money. “Follow the money.” Forget the goons who actually carry out these deadly acts, they are nothing more than automated drones remote-controlled by others. Instead of radio signals, their pilots use selective dogma to manipulate their actions. They pervert the Qur’an through omission and false interpretation.

How is it about money? When one looks at the goal of these terrorist attacks, it’s clearly not about scaring us into changing our behavior. The Twin Tower attacks of 9/11 didn’t frighten America into embracing Islam. The fatwa against Salman Rushdie didn’t prevent the publication of The Satanic Verses. Like all terrorist attacks on the West, they just strengthen our defiant resolve. So the attack in Paris, as with most others, isn’t about changing Western behavior, it’s about swaggering into a room, flexing a muscle, and hoping to elicit some admiring sighs. In this case, the sighs are more recruits and more donations to keep their organization alive. They have to keep proving they are more relevant than their competing terrorist groups. It’s just business.

Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop bringing Islam into these discussions. I know we aren’t there yet because much of the Western population doesn’t understand the Islamic religion. All they see are brutal beheadings, kidnappings of young girls, bloody massacres of children at schools, and these random shootings. Naturally, they are frightened when they hear the word Muslim or see someone in traditional Muslim clothing. Despite any charitable impulses, they also have to be thinking, “Better safe than sorry”—as they hurry in the opposite direction.

When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising the Prophet Muhammad or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims.

I look forward to the day when an act of terrorism by self-proclaimed Muslims will be universally dismissed as nothing more than a criminal attack of a thuggish political organization wearing an ill-fitting Muslim mask. To get to that point, we will need to teach our communities what the real beliefs of Islam are. In the meantime, keep my name on speed-dial so we can get through this together.   »»» TIME (U.S.)

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Paris Mayor to sue Fox News over Muslim claims

The mayor of Paris has said she will sue Fox News for its inaccurate reporting about the city following the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The US network claimed there were “no-go areas” in the French capital where police and non-Muslims refused to go.

Anne Hidalgo said the people of Paris had been “insulted” and the city’s image had been “damaged”.

The network has since apologised for making “regrettable errors” on air regarding the Muslim population.

Ms Hidalgo told CNN: “When we’re insulted and when we’ve had an image, then I think we’ll have to sue. I think we’ll have to go to court, in order to have these words removed.

“The image of Paris has been prejudiced, and the honour of Paris has been prejudiced.”

Fox has also apologised for comments by so-called “terror expert” Steven Emerson, who claimed Birmingham, England was “totally Muslim” and ruled by Sharia law.

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro subsequently said Emerson had “made a serious factual error that we wrongly let stand unchallenged and uncorrected”.

In fact, 80% of Birmingham’s population is non-Muslim.

British Prime Minister David Cameron responded by calling Emerson “a complete idiot”.   »»» BBC News

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Misinformed expert or misinformation network?

Terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson is more than a comic buffoon. His claims about no-go zones for non-Muslims in European cities are just part of a wealthy network spreading Islamophobia across the west.

On Sunday, the veteran terrorism expert Steven Emerson appeared on Fox News to discuss Europe’s Muslim population and claimed that Birmingham was an example of a ‘totally Muslim [city] where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in’. The claim led to him being ridiculed online, and after the news media picked up on the story he issued an apology to ‘the beautiful city of Birmingham’ for his ‘terrible error’. So high profile was the story, that the Prime Minister David Cameron felt moved to comment, reportedly describing Emerson as ‘a complete idiot’.

The claims were idiotic. But Emerson is not simply an ‘idiot’, or a hopelessly misinformed ‘expert’. An examination of his background, the sources of his ideas, and the funding for his think tank the Investigative Project on Terrorism, show that he is part of what the Center for American Progress in a widely cited 2011 report Fear Inc. described as ‘a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts’ that ‘peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam’.    »»»

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Nous sommes tous Charlie — We are all Charlie

Cartoon Le Figaro (France)Charlie Hebdo is a weekly satirical magazine that used editorial cartoons (caricatures) to criticize and attack every radical and extreme aspect of French and world society–politics, social movements, religion (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.). Their form of satire had no nuance; it was brutal and extremely provocative. Legally, they had the right to say what they said and to draw what they drew. Perhaps they underestimated the level of personal risk; perhaps they felt called to speak out as they did. They chose to brandish raw meat in a society that (sadly) has some wild beasts that cannot pass up a free meal.

But the massacre of the entire editorial staff and two policemen (12 dead and 11 wounded, some seriously) during the weekly editorial meeting was an act of PURE EVIL.

One of the attackers said “We avenged the Prophet.” NO, they did not. They betrayed the fundamental beliefs of Muslims and violated key sections of Shari’ah.

The wholesale killing of many people without due process, without a trial, without knowing if each of them was guilty or innocent of any crime is FORBIDDEN in Islam. God himself, in the Qur’an, says that when Islam is reviled by others, we are to ignore them. The laws against blasphemy and the use of violence by some Muslims against blasphemy are NOT found in the Qur’an. They are man-made laws and extreme actions that go beyond the Qur’an and Shari’ah.

When the caricaturists of Charlie Hebdo played with fired and criticized the radical elements and actions of SOME Muslims (and others in other circumstances), they should have been seen as supporting (not undermining) REAL Islam. Indeed, in attacking extremism and radicalism in all ts forms and among all communities.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, said, “You must not do evil to those who do evil to you; you must deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

In its own, ofter over the top way, when Charlie Hebdo attacked the extremists in every sector of French life (religion, politics, economics, etc), it gave meaning to a well known saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“The ink of scribes is just as valuable as the blood of martyrs.”

The planners and perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo massacre are guilty of the shari’ah capital crime of “hirabah”–spreading disruption an mischief in the land. By their EVIL actions, they and all their supporters have shown themselves to be renegades, heretics and blasphemers against Islam.

Those involved with Boko Haram, Da’esh (ISIS), as-Shabbab, al-Qaeda, etc. are NOT representative of the majority of Muslims or the teachings of Islam.The Imam of the mosque in the French town of Drancy (who has been under police protection for several years because of his support for the freedom of Charlie Hebdo to express himself) said tonight that “the Prophet of those who carried out the massacre is not Muhammad; their Prophet is Satan.”

Speaking about extremists, the Prophet Muhammad said:

…when no Alim [knowledgable, learned person in the religion of Islam] is to be found, some people will take ignorant men for teachers. These will be questioned and they will reply without [true] knowledge. They are themselves misguided and they misguide others.”(Sahih al-Bukhari)

In the Qur’an, God ordered the prophet to “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)

May Allah the Perfectly Just and the Perfectly Merciful, to whom all humanity belongs and to whom all humanity returns, reward all the soul of every person who dies as may be proper for him or her.

The Muslim Qur’an and the Jewish Talmud both say that to save one human being is as if all humanity had been saved and to unjustly kill one human is as if all humanity had been destroyed.

Nous sommes tous Charlie.

Islamic Leaders Condemn Paris Attack

Leaders from Muslim countries and organizations joined the worldwide condemnation of Wednesday’s deadly attack on a magazine office in Paris, and said it shouldn’t be associated with the Islamic faith.

* Al-Azhar, the thousand-year-old seat of religious learning in Cairo that’s respected by Muslims around the world, referred to the attack as a criminal act, saying that “Islam denounces any violence,” according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.

* The Organization of the Islamic Conference strongly condemned the attack. A spokesperson for the OIC’s Islamophobia Observatory in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia said that violence and radicalism are “biggest enemies of Islam.”

* The French Council of the Muslim Religion condemned the “barbaric” attack and said that first thoughts are with the victims and their families. It also called on “all those committed to the values of the Republic and democracy to avoid provocations that only serve to throw oil on the fire,” and on French Muslims to “exercise the utmost vigilance against possible manipulations from extremist groups.”

* Indonesia, the world’s most-populous Muslim nation, “condemns the attack” and “sends condolences to the government and people of France,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

* “Egypt stands by France in confronting terrorism, an international phenomenon that targets the world’s security and stability and which requires coordinated international efforts to eradicate,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

* “We, as Turkey, condemn with hatred any kind of terror,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in Ankara. “We are against any form of terror regardless of where it comes from and what its motives are.”

* Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry expressed “sympathies and full solidarity with the French government and people in their fight against terrorism,” in an e-mailed statement. It called on the international community to work through international laws to uproot terrorism so that “its shrapnel won’t hit the innocent anywhere else in the world.”

* Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned the attack and said any terrorist action against innocent humans was against the teachings of Islam, according to the news agency IRNA. “Such actions are a continuation of radical waves and physical aggressions which have spread throughout the world in the past decade, and incorrect policies and double standards in confronting extremism and violence have unfortunately given way to a spreading of such undertakings,” she said.

* “We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures,” said the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the U.S.. “The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions.”

* The Muslim Council of Britain said on Twitter: “We condemn the attack on CharlieHebdo. Whomever the attackers are, and whatever the cause may be, nothing justifies the taking of life.”

* Saudi Arabia has “followed with deep sorrow” the killings in Paris and condemns “this cowardly terrorist attack which is incompatible with Islam religion,” according to the official SPA news agency.

* Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said that “these actions that targets civilians contravene all values and principles, moral and humanitarian.”

*The United Arab Emirates said that “ that such appalling criminal acts require cooperation and solidarity at all levels to eradicate this menace.”

* “Malaysia condemns in the strongest terms all acts of violence. We stand in unity with the French people. We must fight extremism with moderation,” Prime Minister Najib Razak said in Twitter posting.

* King Mohammed of Morocco ‘‘strongly condemned the odious, cowardly terrorist attack’’ in a message of condolences to French President Francois Hollande, according to state news agency MAP.    »»» Bloomberg (U.S.)

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Charlie Hebdo: A crime by individuals not a community | Letters | World news | The Guardian

The brutal slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office was nothing but base criminality. But it was committed by three men NOT a community – still less a religion. What has happened since is that the Muslim community as a whole is being charged with collective guilt by association.

I do not recall white Norwegians being asked by the media to scrutinise their “values” and beliefs in the same way in 2011 following the murderous rampage by the neo-nazi Anders Behring Breivik, in which he murdered 77 people. Such an argument would have been absurd. It is equally absurd to condemn millions of people because they happen to be the co-religionists of three brutal murderers.   »»» The Guardian (U.K.)

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Charlie Hebdo: Don’t blame this bloodshed on France’s Muslims

Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the mosque in Drancy – scene of those Holocaust deportations during the Nazi occupation – spoke up for many when he said of the killers: “They have sold their souls to hell. This is not freedom. This is not Islam and I hope the French will come out united at the end of this.”

Two of the dead – Ahmed Merabet, a police officer, and Mustapha Ourad, who was working in the Charlie Hebdo office – were themselves Muslim. Many fellow Muslims were among the crowds that poured on to the streets on Wednesday night in a show of solidarity for the Charlie Hebdo victims, rallying behind President Hollande’s call for national unity.

Despite all this, the seemingly inevitable backlash has begun, with mosques being targeted. Blank grenades were thrown at one in Le Mans on Wednesday night, with bullet holes also found in its windows. Shots were fired at a Muslim prayer hall near Narbonne, in the south of France, while an explosion close to a mosque in Villefranche-sur-Saône was described by a local prosecutor as a “criminal act”.   »»» The Guardian (U.K.)

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Sydney siege: Muslim bride interrupts her wedding day to lay down bouquet in tribute to victims

Bride lays flowersA Muslim bride received applause on Sunday as she interrupted her wedding day to lay her bridal bouquet in tribute to the victims of the recent Sydney siege at Martin Place.

Barrister and mother-of-three Katrina Dawson, 38, and café manager Tory Johnson, 34, were both killed in the siege in which lone gunman and self-styled cleric Man Haron Monis held people hostage in a Lindt café for 16 hours. He was killed when police stormed the area to end the stand-off.

On on Sunday, dressed in her bridal gown, wearing a headscarf and a veil, Ms Kassem chose to visit the siege site before the formal pictures were taken for her wedding, and received applause from the crowds as she lay down her bouquet.

“She acted out of respect for her country (Australia) that will one day be the country of her children and grandchildren.”   »»» The Independent (Australia)

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The Criminalisation of Islam in The British Media

Professor Paul Baker of Lancaster University, in the U.K., carried out a unique research entitled, ‘The Representation of Islam and Muslims in the UK Press 1998-2009′. Along with three other academics, Professor Baker embarked on a rigorous study that involved the analysis of more than 200,000 articles, equating to over 147 million words of journalism. The use of “corpus linguistic methods” in creating an “acceptable bias” was amongst other objectives of their endeavour.

There were some interesting conclusions that were drawn from the research:

– For every positive article there were 21 negative articles.
– Words such as “extremist”, “radical”, “terrorist”, “fundamentalist” and “cleric” have become synonymous to Muslims in the media.
– The use of “moderate Muslim” is used in every positive article, and it appears that “moderate Muslims” are conveyed as good for not being “fully Muslim”.
– Many newspapers that publish anti-Muslim/Islamophobic bloggers/columnists exploit the PCC’s (now IPSO) defence of “individual robust opinions”.
– Muslims as a religious minority tend to be guilty by association of faith for the crimes of a minority of their coreligionists.

The political context behind the above findings were the 9/11 attacks, the subsequent War on Terror, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the 7/7 bombings in London. However, the demonisation of Islam and the biased coverage of Muslims have worsened since.

Whether it’s women’s dress code, halal meat, support for the Syrian revolution, charities, banning speakers from universities, human rights activists or aid workers, the criminalisation of Islam and Muslims in the British media has increased since Professor Baker’s research. The disproportionate coverage of crimes committed by Muslims in comparison to non-Muslims, and the constant reference to a Muslim’s religion when it has no relevance to a story is also another emerging pattern in recent times.   »»» Huffington Post (U.K. ed.)

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