a "party atmosphere" in Baghdad

This used to be the lead paragraph, but keeps being shunted down:

But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

Mabruk, ya Iraqiiyah! Today, Alija Izetbegovic's words ring true:

Dictatorship is immoral even when it prohibits sin, democracy is moral even when it allows it. Morality is inseparable from freedom. Only free conduct is moral conduct. By negating freedom, and thus the possibility of choice, a dictatorship contains in its premises the negation of morality. To that extent, regardless of all historical apparitions, dicatorship and religion are mutually exclusive. For, just as in the body-spirit dilemma, religion always favors the spirit, so in the choice of between wanting and behaving, intent and action, it will always favor wanting and intent, regarldless of the result, that is, the consequence. In religion, an action is not valued without the intention, without "intent," that is, without an opportunity or freedom to act or not act. Just as coercive starvation is not a fast, so the coerced good is not good and is from the religious standpoint valueless. That is why the freedom of choice, that is, of action or lack of it, of abiding or transgressing, is the prerequisite at the basis of all prerequisites of all religions and all morality. And that is why the elimination of this choice, either by physical force in dictatorship or obedience training in utopia, signifies their negation. From this the idea follows that every truly human society must be a community of free individuals. It must limit the number of its laws and interventions (degree of external coercion) to that necessary extent in which the freedom of choice between good and evil is maintained, so that people would do good, not because they must, but because they want to.

For more on Izetbegovic, the "anti-Qutb", see these posts at Ideofact.


mixed messages

Edward at ObWi noticed the same speech against terror by Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, the Chief Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca as did Laura, and asks the reasonable question, why don't those anti-muslim zealots celebrate messages such as this, given that it's exactly what they are ostensibly asking for from Islam and muslims. Here's an excerpt:

A leading Saudi cleric issued a plea today for Muslims not to heed calls to wage terror attacks in the name of Islam. Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudeis, the state-appointed preacher at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, told pilgrims in a sermon marking the feast of Eid al-Adha that scholars must preach moderation to confront militants, who were using "misguided and void" interpretations to justify violence.

His sermon, dedicated to the 2.5 million Muslims performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, echoed comments made yesterday by Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al Sheik. The kingdom's grand mufti said the greatest test to the nation of Islam came from its sons who were "lured by the devil" to carry out acts of violence.

Sheikh al-Sudeis said militancy was not a valid interpretation of Islam. "Because Muslims have strayed from moderation, we are now suffering from this dangerous phenomenon of branding people infidels and inciting Muslims to rise against their leaders to cause instability," he said.

"The reason for this is a delinquent and void interpretation of Islam based on ignorance ... faith does not mean killing Muslims or non-Muslims who live among us, it does not mean shedding blood, terrorising or sending body parts flying."
The preacher warned that extremism would ruin the Muslim nation: "This phenomenon has expanded so much that scholars must confront it with concrete proof from Islam to protect our youth from its stench and putridity."

Laura points out (and Edward did not seem to notice this) that the speech was delivered not for the benefit of foreign media, but was a sermon directed to 2 million muslims performing the hajj.

Now, several commentators (notably Tacitus) pointed out that this particular sheikh has a history of saying things that are quite different in tone from the above rosy rhetoric:

O Allah, support our brother Mujahedeen for your sake and the oppressed everywhere. O Allah, support them in Palestine, Kashmir, and Chechnya. O Allah, we ask you to support our Palestinian brothers in Palestine against the aggressor Jews and usurper Zionists. O Allah, the Jews have oppressed, terrorized, and indulged in tyranny and corruption. O Allah, deal with them for they are within your power.

Such sentiments are expressed in his sermons at the Grand Mosque with a regular frequency.

However, looking at things from Al-Sudayyis' perspective, which is Qur'anically inept, it is clear that the statements are not contradictory. Within the particular world view of Al-Sudayyis, these facts are true: (1) The Jews are the root of all evils against Islam (directly inherited from Qutb), (2) Jihad in defense of religion is justified and worthy of praying to Allah for victory, and (3) Hirabah against innocents is not justified and will be the ruin of the Islamic politic entity (though, presumably, not Islam, see point 1).

Looking pragmatically at his statements, my assessment is that he is trying to insulate the Saudi regime from accusations of heresy, so that Al-Qaeda's renewed attention to toppling the Saudi dynasty via acts of terror against Saudi citizens is delegitimized. However, there is also a mainstream element here with regards to asserting that the struggles of Sunnis in Fallujah, Palestinians in Gaza, etc which he has cited in previous sermons as justified jihad are by definition not hirabah against innocents, but legitimate resistance to oppression.

Note that no less a thinker as Steven den Beste has pondered whether citizens of a democracy can really be considered civilians in an armed struggle, given that democracies uniquely give the citizen sovereign power over their government. From the perspective of a Palestinian father whose girl was killed by a tank, or an Iraqi girl with her father's blood on her face, the Israeli and American citizenry who voted to power those whose policies led to their tragedy are culpable. While I disagree with the idea that there is no such thing as a civilian (for other moral reasons), it is useless to deny that such an interpretation has been articulated by thinkers on both sides of these conflicts. While Al-Sudayyis' interpretations are contrary to mine, I think that he sees himself as acting out of a consistent set of principles with regards to justified war or not. Given that my own nation is engaged in "just war" of its own definition, I am content to agree to disagree with him. May the better ideology win.

Al-Sudayyis' statements are certainly self-serving, but having been articulated to a group of 2 million hajjis from around the globe, his personal agenda is also diluted (99.999% of those who heard his message about rejecting terror certainly will never have heard a sermon of his castigating Jews for perceived evils, either). The event therefore is notable and worth celebarting as a positive event. I fully agree with the assessment of the man in the ObWi thread, but those who seek to discredit this message against terror on the basis of his past (and assuredly present) anti-semitic rantings are missing the point.

And Edward's point about the motives of those specific anti-muslim zealots in American society, such as infest LGF and the conservative talk radio airwaves, also went unacknowledged in the fuss over Al-Sudayyis's credibility. That, for obvious reasons, is far more a concern of mine as what Al-Sudayyis spouts off in his sermons on Fridays.


Virtual PCs on Intel chips

ArsTechnica talks about Intel's "Vanderpool" technology, which will allow multiple OSes to run simultaneously on the same CPU:

Broadly conceived, virtualization refers to the ability to run more than one operating system on a given platform in a secure mode, simultaneously. This could have a number of uses, from allowing for large servers to fulfill many different roles, to providing a means for desktop machines to be serviced remotely without interrupting a user. Additionally, the technology could be used for mutli-boot systems that would run more than one OS at once. In fact, if you're thinking that this sounds a bit like the love child of multi-boot systems with software like VMWare or Virtual PC/Server, you're not too far off the mark. Vanderpool provides for a means to take virtual machine architecture down to the processor level. Such virtual machines run as guests on the physical processor, and have protected access to the system's resources, without "knowing" that it's running in a virtual machine.

Intriguing. On-chip support for virtual machines is a step beyond what is possible with VMWare (commonly used to run Windows apps on the Mac platform, for example). You could conceivably run a mini-ISP off of a Vanderpool-capable server...


Christian missionaries and tsunami relief. what could go wrong?

via Yahoo India:

Samanthapettai, Jan 16 (ANI): Rage and fury has gripped this tsunami-hit tiny Hindu village in India's southern Tamil Nadu after a group of Christian missionaries allegedly refused them aid for not agreeing to follow their religion.

Samanthapettai, near the temple town of Madurai, faced near devastation on the December 26 when massive tidal waves wiped it clean of homes and lives.

Most of the 200 people here are homeless or displaced , battling to rebuild lives and locating lost family members besides facing risks of epidemic,disease and trauma.

Jubilant at seeing the relief trucks loaded with food, clothes and the much-needed medicines the villagers, many of who have not had a square meal in days, were shocked when the nuns asked them to convert before distributing biscuits and water.

Heated arguments broke out as the locals forcibly tried to stop the relief trucks from leaving. The missionaries, who rushed into their cars on seeing television reporters and the cameras refusing to comment on the incident and managed to leave the village.

Disappointed and shocked into disbelief the hapless villagers still await aid.

"Many NGOs (volunteer groups) are extending help to us but there in our village the NGO, which was till now helping us is now asking us to follow the Christian religion. We are staunch followers of Hindu religion and refused their request. And after that these people with their aid materials are leaving the village without distributing that to us," Rajni Kumar, a villager said.

What bothers me most about this is the utter lack of Christian charity by these so called "missionaries". How can you look at a hungry child's outstretched hand and deny them the food they need?

The worst thing is that the Christian faith as a whole is maligned unfairly by this kind of behavior - especially since there has been a lot of this Christian fundamentalist intolerance on display recently.

UPDATE: I am surprised at the "it can't be true" denials I'm receiving in comments and via emails. Josh emails:

find the Yahoo India story somewhat suspicious, mostly because it mentions nuns, which strongly implies that the Christians in question were Roman Catholic. (You also get nuns in Christian Orthodoxy, but the likelihood that they're delivering aid in Indian is close to nil -- contrast with the rather strong presence of Catholic nuns in the country.) Suffice it to say that this just isn't something you'd typically see Catholics doing -- their aid and relief efforts are generally fairly professional and nondiscriminatory. Now, were these Protestants of a certain stripe, I'd be more inclined to believe it; however, you don't usually get those types very far out of east Texas, to say nothing of Tamil Nadu. Just my $0.02 -- it seems really fishy.

Andrew made a similar point in comments. Let me first point out that "nuns" is a generic term which of course someone froma Roman Catholic background (such as Andrew and Josh) would interpret in a specific manner. The words "priest" and "pastor" are interchangeably used (and translated) in comon speech. Given that there are hundreds of religious organizations operating in a relief capacity, each with their own legions of personnel, so some confusion is expected.

But more importantly, there's no reason to think that this behavior is beyond the pale of a Christian sect (as Joshua S. predictably implies in comments). This is hardly an isolated report. If an Indian-based news source is too suspect, then perhaps an Anglo source will be more palatable? Here's the Chicago Tribune:

AKKARAIPETTAI, India -- The Christian evangelists came in the morning, wearing fluorescent yellow T-shirts emblazoned with "Believers Church" on the back and "Gospel for Asia" on the front. They loaded up hundreds of villagers, mostly Hindus, in vans and trucks and drove them 6 miles away.

There, away from the eyes of village officials, each tsunami survivor received relief supplies--a sleeping mat, a plate, a sari, a 55-pound bag of rice and, in the bottom of a white plastic bag proclaiming "Believers Church Tsunami Relief," a book containing biblical verses warning against the dangers of alcohol.

"What do I do?" asked Muthammal, 35, who uses one name like many in southern India and wears the red bindi on her forehead showing she's Hindu. Like many here, she cannot read. "They are asking us to come all this way. It is so difficult."

Members of the Believers Church also have handed out Bibles to tsunami survivors on the streets and in relief camps. They set up an orphanage for 108 children, including many Hindus, and asked the children to recite Christian prayers six times a day. The Protestant church did not register the orphanage with the government, authorities said. K.P. Yohannan, the leader of Believers Church and Gospel for Asia, said the church had tried to get government permission.

The article goes on to detail a number of other groups, but the basic point here is clear: there most certainly are Christian aid groups that are taking advantage of tsunami victims. This is undeniable. Whether the Vatican is involved or not is irrelevant; my own affinity for the Roman Catholic organization (which is the best analogy in Christianity to my own religious hierarchy) actually makes me sympathetic to Andrew and Jish (T)'s defense, but I did not lambast the Catholic Church in my original post. In fact, I think of "nuns" in a generic sense myself and basically assumed it was a Protestant group. Protestants right here in the US are quite transparent about their intentions:

In an e-mailed weekly newsletter called "Falwell Confidential," which was obtained by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the evangelist said: "Hundreds of thousands are in dire need of medical attention and personal counselling. And in this heavily Muslim part of the world, millions have never even heard of Jesus Christ."

The newsletter, which is distributed by Jerry Falwell Ministries, said donations would be used to distribute food and Gospel tracts in the region.

We can have a legitimate debate about whether prosletyzation is in fact wrong, for a group that believes its ministry is as important a salvation of the sufferer's soul as the food is for their body. But what gets my goat is the denial of food outright. Pretending that Christian missionaries don't have ulterior motives is pure denial, and there's no reaon to discount the report, given that the actively pro-prosletyzation agenda of many such groups is hardly a secret.

Oh My God

Today is Eid ul Adha, or "Bakri (goat) Eid". It commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son for God's command. Jews and Muslims differ whether it was the son Isaac or Ismail - but to me that difference only underscores the brotherhood of faiths under the patriarchal figure of Ibrahim Nabi AS.

A father, asked to sacrifice his son - says yes, because of total submission to his Creator. As with Job, it was a test of faith.

While NPR and all local radio today is obsessed with the spectacle of the 40m inauguration of President Bush's second term, something happenned that hasn't been covered in Iraq, something which all the painted schools can never make up for. That something is a horror which I can barely bring myself to even link to. let alone describe: a family in their car is fired upon by soldiers, the parents killed instantly, the children largely unharmed but covered with their parents' blood. It is beyond imaginging. The tsunami tragedy was different not for its scale but for its agency - those of weak faith asked themselves about what type of God could unleash such a horror upon so many innocents. The agency here however is all too human, the self-inflicted wound that mankind visits upon itself with disturbing and grim frequency.

To the goats, the Eid may well be a tsunami of sorts, but they do not understand the higher purpose behind it. Perhaps the Iraqi people can relate. Our purpose in Iraq is as unlikely to be defined clearly in Bush's second term as in his first.

Look at this girl's face and try to comprehend - but do not linger, because it will gnaw at your soul. I've looked at it already for too long.

much better commentary from Jim and Steve.


Eurabia debunked

Randymac has a great post at GNXP about why the concerns about a demographic takeover by muslims in Europe is as false and racist as the "Jew York City" argument that jews control America's foreign policy. Key point:

Racism is, then, a critical element--perhaps a dominant concept--relative to these concepts. If European Muslims or New York City Jews are inherently subversive, undermining legitimate decisionmaking processes in political and social life, how can anyone who belongs to either category be allowed to participate at all? Eurabia and Jew York City are, at their roots, concepts which demand the ghettoization of the groups from which they take their names, their exclusion from any non-subordinate role. These terms' use is a good marker for some sort of highly exclusionary racism.

Moral argument aside, the demographic argument is nicely skewered by Randymac earlier in the post and then finished off by Zachary Latif in the comments:

Cognitive bias skews perception and Randy makes the very good point, that all things being equal, a population of 15mn isn't exactly going to overwhelm 480mn in the forseeable future. As for forecasting to 2100, it's futurology and in the same manner how my 1970's books commented on the 90's.

The maths don't work and one would have to build certain stereotypes to conclude that it could ever happen; i.e Muslims inherently have large families and part of their cultural self-awareness.

Well Iran, the Islamic theocracy, has a plunging TFR (total fertility rate) as Iranian women are encouraged, by Mullahs no less, to use contraception and limit their family size. Surely there is some truth in that Dutch Muslims would have interact in a more liberal environment than their Iranian co-religionists?

Some time ago, Randy had made a more detailed demographic analysis of muslims in France using actual census figures. Also see Scott Martens' comments in followup. The main point is that muslims represent such a tiny minority that any talk of conquest-from-within is fear-mongering driven by anti-muslim hate rather than any legitimate concern about borders, language, and culture.

However, this is not to deny that minority groups can often wield disproportionate political power. My observation, however, is that the political influence they wield is directly proportional to their perceived persecution complex. The perception of persecution (whether valid or not) is the single greatest impetus towards political activity.

The Jewish community has been historically active, politically speaking, because their history of persecution is tragically well-documented. The ADL serves an essential watchguard role. On the foreign policy front, the AIPAC lobby derives most of its urgenyc of action from the perceived existential threat to Isreal's existence (a threat which, unlike the domestic case, is now largely moot in my opinion given Israel's complete air and ground superiority).[1]

Note that the importance of CAIR, and the increased political posture of Muslim-Americans, has also grown in direct response to 9-11 and the infringement of civil liberties. I believe that the political influence that the Euro-muslim community wields will follow similar lines, especcially if the reactionaries continue to overstep their bounds with regard to demanding cultural assimilation at the expense of religious freedom - such as coercing muslim schoolchildren to eat pork meals at school with the threat of expulsion (original article in french).

It is the right of the Jewish community in America and the muslim communities in America and Europe to press via the political system for their rights. What is not right is participation in that system as a means to dismantle it, of course, but anyone who claims that the mainstream muslim community on either side of the Atlantic truly seeks an overthrow of civil law and institutionalism of extremist Shari'a has a substantial burden of proof. Ultimately, the muslim and jewish communities will find it impossible to prevent significant cultural cross-pollination as their numbers grow (as can already be seen in the high rate of crossover marriages in the Jewish community here in the US). So by the time muslims reach numerical mass significant enough to pose a potential threat to the established order, if ever, the question will be largely moot. Only racists can argue otherwise.

[1] I think that the actual influence over foreign policy is not as great as AIPAC imagines. There is a considerable influence over foreign policy by the neocon cabal, but that derives from their fundamentally Cold War mindset of proxy nations. The entire Iraq adventure is to create another Israel, a proxy nation for regional influence.

discourse unchained

The debate at RedState has been remarkably well-composed in the face of a seeming invasion by extremist trolls from the far right of the spectrum. Some long-term commentators are routinely unpleasant, but recently there has been a spike in egregiously stereotypical wingnut commentary. Examples: a snit about the GOP tent being too big, a viciously-timed racist attack on the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (which I troll-rated and now appears to have been deleted, thankfully), and the suggestion that we nuke Iran. These are growing pains which I am sure the admin team will eventually recognize need to be be dealt with proactively. The regular commentators at RS responded admirably to these events as well, so there certainly is enough community policing. For now. Without a consistent set of guidelines for using the ratings system (example), however, as RS grows further it will be harder and harder to manage the crapflood.


ends and means

In a nod to the pre-LGF civility of the past, Joshua left a thought-provoking comment:

In his previous post, Aziz takes the position that no matter how flawed the leaders of CAIR are, their work is needed and so CAIR must be supported. And in these posting I'm taking the position that no matter how flawed Daniel Pipes is, his work is needed and so must be supported.

I can certainly see how my position can be interpreted thusly, but it's not exactly a parallel analogy. CAIR's leaders are flawed, but in harmless ways. There is absolutely no way in which CAIR's leadership can endanger the national security of the United States in a metrial sense, or undermine the fabric of a free society that we take all too much for granted (all the more fragile in the wake of the Bush Administration's various stances on domestic political propaganda, secrecy, torture, and arbitrary incarceration of "enemy combatants"[1]). For all theirfaults, the CAIR leadership is primarily a civil rights organization, and this places them on the side of the Founders.

Pipes, with his advocacy of a strongman in Iraq rather than a freely elected government, and his apologia for Japanese internment[2], stands firmly on the other side. Even his attempt to define the "good guy muslims" required that muslims such as myself eschew the basic tenets of our belief - a standard whose ludicrousness is self-evident when applied to Christianity[3].

Are Pipes' writings useful? No. They paint a one-sided picture of a non-existent fifth-column threat, and thus undermine liberty not just for muslims but for all citizens. Is CAIR a useful organization? Yes, because they defend those liberties (and not alone - they have even fought alongside the ADL in common cause). There is a line in the sand, and I choose my side without hesitation. Pipes can stand upon the other side with the likes of Mubarak and Putin.

[1] A term that can even be applied to US citizens without due process. At least Lincoln formally suspended Habeus Corpus, on the record. The present Administration prefers subvert civil liberties via more indirect means.
[2] Pipes has repudiated the concept of muslim internment, and distanced himself from even the mandatory registration issue - but remains in denial that such policies are the natural policy extension of his own arguments.
[3] The argument that only Islam is responsible for terror is nonsensical. The Oklahoma City bombing and the anthrax attacks were borne of the fabric of the culture of right-wing "Christian Identist" white supremacy, a proto-fascist movement whose rise David Neiwert has ably chronicled in his landmark essay on fascism. McVeigh's ties to the Identists are well-documented and thus refute the claim that his "atheism" can be separated from these groups' ideologies.

Brass Crescent Award Winners

On behalf of both alt.muslim and City of Brass, we'd like to thank everyone who voted (over 250 validated ballots cast!) in the First Annual Brass Crescent Awards. Voting was very close in most categories, and we would like to be the first to congratulate our winners and Honorable Mentions, as well as extend our thanks to all the nominees and voters for helping make this celebration of the Islamsphere a success. We also would like to thank Crooked Timber, A Fistful of Euros, Ideofact, Head Heeb, Amygdala, Left Edge North, Liberals Against Terrorism, Velveteen Rabbi and all the others (including the nominees) who linked to us and helped publicize the Brass Crescent Awards.

We'll keep a permanent list of nominees for the Brass Crescent Awards available, as they represent a dynamic, creative, and powerful cross-section of Muslim thought on the web. We fully expect next year's crop of nominees to be just as interesting, if not more so, than this year's candidates. We plan to run the Awards again next year, inshallah, so start bookmarking posts, series, comments, and blogs now!

Winners and Honorable Mentions may email us or leave a comment below to receive HTML code to display a badge announcing their achievement if they desire.

Let's not keep you waiting any longer - listed below are this year's winners and Honorable Mentions. (In cases where the second place candidates were tied, we jointly awarded Honorable Mentions):

Winner: avari/nameh
Honorable Mentions: Abdusalaam Al-Hindi and veiled4Allah

Winner: Haroon Moghul (avari/nameh)
Honorable Mentions: Thabet (Muslims Under Progress) and Zack Ajmal (Procrastination)

Winner: Haroon Moghul (avari/nameh),
Explaining the Mideast to the Midwest

Honorable Mention: Abdusalaam Al-Hindi, Driving while menstruating

Winner: Leila M on Muharram
Honorable Mention: Zack Ajmal on Marriage

Winner: Riverbend (Baghdad Burning)
Honorable Mention: Aunt Najma (A Star From Mosul)

Winner: Asif Iqbal (Asif Iqbal's Multi-Lingual Blog)
Honorable Mention: Zack Ajmal (Procrastination)

Winner: Muslims Under Progress
Honorable Mention: HU

Winner: Chapati Mystery
Honorable Mentions: Ethnically Incorrect and Mere Islam

Winner: Juan Cole (Informed Comment)
Honorable Mention: Abu Aardvark

Winner: Malo's Adventures
Honorable Mention: PakPositive

Winner: Silent Spring
Honorable Mention: Al Muhajabah (veiled4Allah)

Winner: Silent Spring
Honorable Mention: Razib Khan

Winner: A Dervish's Du'a
Honorable Mention: Sister Scorpion

Mubarak to all winners and nominees! Please let us know your comments about the Awards, suggestions for new/obsolete categores, etc in the comments below.


Daniel Pipes not renominated to USIP

This is a huge victory for American muslim interests:

President Bush has failed to take any action to renominate Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace.

Bush appointed Pipes, a conservative Middle East analyst and syndicated columnist who has drawn the ire of some Muslims, to the publicly funded institution on August 23, 2003, after a Senate hearing on the matter ended without the presence of a quorum necessary for a confirmation vote. The controversial recess appointment ended in early December with the closing of the previous Congress. The institute has removed Pipes's name from the list of board of directors posted on its Web site.

Pipes told the Forward that he has not asked to be renominated by the president and that he had not queried the White House about its intentions. [...] Pipes said that he "tried to be helpful to the USIP," but he acknowledged that "at certain times I was frustrated."

The nomination of Pipes, who has made a career out of identifying and denouncing what he sees as radical Muslim penetration of American institutions, was opposed by senators Edward Kennedy, Tom Harkin and Christopher Dodd, all Democrats; Arab and Muslim groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations as well as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and Middle East analysts Judith Kipper of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and William Quandt of the University of Virginia. Many conservative-leaning newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The New York Sun, supported it. Several Jewish communal agencies, including the American Jewish Committee and the Zionist Organization of America, supported Pipes.
Pipes did not have a peaceful tenure at the institute, which was created by Congress "to support the development, transmission, and use of knowledge to promote peace and curb violent international conflict," according to USIP's mission statement. Last March, he clashed with the organization, lambasting it in his column for hosting a conference with a group, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, that Pipes charged employs personnel who are Muslim "radicals."

The institute's director of congressional and public affairs, Kay King, responded to the criticism in a letter that Pipes posted to his Web site, danielpipes.org.

"The Institute was aware of and took seriously the accusations made against CSID and some of the speakers at the event," King wrote. "These allegations were investigated carefully with credible private individuals and U.S. government agencies and found to be without merit. The public criticism of CSID and the speakers was found to be based on quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo."

(go to bugmenot for login access to the full article)

Kudos to President Bush for recognizing that Pipes was an affront to the stated goals of the USIP. The damage, however, has been done - notably with the denial of entry to Tariq Ramadan, against whom Pipes led a successful jihad to paint as an extremist, despite his moderate views of assimilation and unity of muslims with their adopted western homelands.

Note that The Forward paints the decision as "an apparent victory for radical Muslims and the left wing of the American foreign policy establishment," but that is of course their singular perspective from the extreme right Likud flank of Jewish politics. I would be interested to know if teh Forward shares Pipes' view of Tariq Ramadan as an extremist - if so, you can safely conclude that the Forward has more interest in opposing muslims in general rather than any promotion of a moderate muslim mainstream.

in defense of public libraries

Doverspa, one of the most intellectually honest conservatives I've ever met, has made a radical "Modest Proposal": doing away with public libraries:

First, megastores already allow patrons to enter their stores, grab a book, read it in its entirety while in the store, and not buy it. They recognize that these customers will return and probably buy more as a loyal customer; moreover, the customer could be offended if they are asked to leave or buy the book. This already being the case, the incentive to create a loyal customer base could lead to a more advertised effort to attract "in store readers" would only be strengthened if there were no public libraries competing.

Second, megastores could create a Blockbuster-style rental system if they weren't facing free competition from public libraries. Renting books for a week or two for a couple dollars could be both profitable and a convenient way to build a customer base that may buy books in the future.

Third, the massive donations that go to public libraries could be used more efficiently by creating and distributing membership cards to school age children and those below a certain income level. Right now, public systems must maintain buildings, buy land, pay staff, and fund other operating costs. Buy using the private megastores that already exist, all donations could go directly towards rental fees without duplicating the private investment of megastores.

Thus, the development of widespread megastores gives us an infrastructure to use to make books as widely accessible as under the public system without the cost of duplicating the whole endeavor from buildings to staff.

I am opposed to this for the reason that libraries are not just repositories of books - they serve an integral cohesive role in local communities that no bookstore can hope to replace.

First, librarians choose books for the collections based on concerns other than best-seller lists and marketing. If Borders and B&N replaced libraries entirely, we'd have much less rich a tapestry of literature and instead have aisles of derivative chaff.

Look at the science fiction section of any library and compare it to the B&N section. At the library, youll find older works by Asimov, out of print stuff by Heinlein, rare stuff by Dick and compendiums and anthologies crammed full of short stories that just aren't in print any longer - true treasures. Meanwhile at B&N, you find about fifty nearly identical ripoffs of each other and a pile of movie novelizations. You will find some of the main classics (Foundation, Stranger, etc) but none of the secondary sphere of supporting works). The same analogy can be made with any genre. The point is that blind reliance upon market entities will filter the content in very dramatically different ways than will a professional class. It would be disastrous.

Second, libraries promote a scholarly love of reading amongst even very young children in far more richr ways than a B&N staffed with surly high school wage slaves can hope to match. I whetted my joy of reading at my home town public library's reading programs each sumer, starting from age six. My first job was at that same library, shelving books. My home town has now two decades later expanded that old library to a modern multi-story facility and my visits there revealed a new generation of children and adults, not just reading, but searching for knowledge in all the various mediums that a library has to offer. Libraries are not just for books, they are for movies, newspapers, journals, reference materials, online queries, local government hubs, meeting halls, public continuing education centers, and much much more. The calendar of events at MPPL is just a hint of how integrated the institution is as a resource for the citizens of Mount Prospect.

Third, access to the content in a library is free, and not held hostage to changes in policy. There is a digital divide in this country - libraries still serve as the primary means of access to online resources for a great many working-class stiffs for whom a computer is out of reach. To argue that bookstores would have incentives to make available their resources to the publc for free - or even worse, "rent" their books out - is to impose limitations and conditions upon knowledge itself. As a simple example - would any bookstore provide you the resources to file a Freedom of Information request with your local state government? How can the citizen oversee their representation if they are denied access to the resources freely that they need to hold their elected officials accountable?

Can such an institution be replaced with something as crass as a book store cum-cofee shop? Can an intangible website provide such an anchor to a local community? Can the integrity of a collection be maintained when profit rather than scholarship is the driving motivator? Throwing away the benefits of a library only to have it replaced with a mere... store... is indeed throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There is no better use of taxpayer money than investing in itself.


Allah's sanctuaries

capt.sge.tsp39.040105180919.photo01.photo.default-384x264via Haroon is this amazing and authenticated collection of photos of masjids surviving the devastation of the tsunami.

One commentator at Haroon's blog asks just what these photos are supposed to prove. They are not meant to prove anything. They simply are.

Did Allah preserve mere brick and stone? If so, then the same Allah allowed innocent children to be washed away. I reject both propositions, for they surely are either both true or both false.

But to be able to appreciate a miracle of symbolism, that is something else. Amidst tragedy, there are signs for the believer to remind them of their priorities. The masjid is the Sanctuary provided to the soul by Allah - and in a tragedy, one for the flesh as well. That when all the wrath of dunya came down upon the works of man, only those that are dedicated to the hereafter remained; this is fact, and one which the muslim will remember with humility and awe. That is the result if not the purpose of their survival.

Look with a leaden heart if you will at these photos. I see in them a promise of renewal. Those masjids will stand alone only for a little while - and they will be fuller than before.

And remember - there were human miracles as well...

dec2904 yahoo


Vote in the Brass Crescent Awards!

Voting has now officially begun for the Brass Crescent Awards - you can vote online (email confirmation is required, but email addresses will be discarded after the final tally).

online voting form for the First Annual Brass Crescent Awards

The final list of nominees is quite long so I decided not to post them here at City of Brass, however the voting form has all the blogs, authors, and links you need to make an informed choice. Please participate and spread the word so that we get as much exposure for the Islampshere as possible!

We have also setup a
discussion thread
for all participants to share why they voted for a given blog, and for nominees to make their pitch if so desired.

Please do spread the word so we can get as much participation as possible!

If you are a Brass Crescent Awards nominee, encourage your readers to vote by including this snippet of HTML on your blog:

<b>VOTE for (YOUR BLOG NAME) in the Brass Crescent Awards for (CATEGORY)!</b><br>
<a href="http://altmuslim.com/brasscrescent.php">
<img src="http://www.abde.net/images/cityofbrass/brasscrescent_nominee_small.gif"></a><br>
<a href="http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=azizhp&comment=brasscrescentvote1425">discussion thread</a>

Even if you are not a nominee, we could use your help in promoting the Awards and the Islamsphere as a whole - help us publicize the Awards by including this snippet of HTML on your blog:

<b>VOTE in the Brass Crescent Awards</b><br>
<a href="http://altmuslim.com/brasscrescent.php">
<img src="http://www.abde.net/images/cityofbrass/brasscrescentvote_vert.jpg"></a><br>
<a href="http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=azizhp&comment=brasscrescentvote1425">discussion thread</a>


Brass Crescent Awards update

UPDATE: Voting has begun! The online form is now open - note that email confirmation is required, but all emails will be dicarded after the final tally.

Online Voting Form for the Brass Crescent Awards

The nominations period for the Brass Crescent Awards ends today! You can submit your last-minute nominations to this thread: Nominations for the Brass Crescent Awards

Some clarifications on the noination process: you can nominate as many blogs as you want to each category, self-nominations are especially encouraged for Best Post and Best Series, and blogs authored by non-muslims are eligible to be nominated (and non-muslims are expressly invited to make nominations).

The nominations will be tallied and posted here at City of Brass and at AltMuslim.com tomorrow (Saturday). The voting process will begin on Monday at AltMuslim.com and will continue for the full week. We will announce the winners in each category the following Monday.

Muslim typecasting

You are a shia
You are a SHIA. You are devoted to the Prophet and
the 12 Imams, pray on a clay disk, and may or
may not beat yourself in Muharram. Everyone
hates you, by the way.

What Muslim stereotype are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

props to Sister Scorpion for the quiz. Minor quibbles: I'm actually Ismaili, so it's 21 Imams and I pray on a cloth rug, not a clay disk. I do beat myself in Muharram, but don't draw blood. Just bruises. Otherwise, that about covers it. BTW, The Wahhabi cartoon is hilarious!

I noticed that Sister Soljah, by virtue of posting her quiz results, seemed to attract the usual inane muslim poseurs to her comment thread. My condolences. As Zack says, there seems to be an irony deficiency in the Ummah.

And yeah, everyone hates us. tawakilt ala allah...


Pipes vs CAIR: bring it on

Daniel Pipes, who thinks Iraq should be ruled by a strongman because Iraqis cannot handle democracy, who systematically misrepresents news sources to make his polemical arguments, and has become an apologist for Japanese internment during World War II, now accuses the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of materially aiding and abetting the terror attacks of 9-11:

86. Council on American Islamic Relations and CAIR Canada (collectively, CAIR), have aided, abetted, and materially sponsored and al Qaeda and international terrorism. CAIR is an outgrowth of the Hamas front group the Islamic Association of Palestine. The FBI's former associate director in charge of Investigative and Counter-Intelligence Operations described the Islamic Association of Palestine as an organization that has directly supported Hamas military goals and is a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants. It has produced videotapes that are very hate-filled, full of vehement propaganda. It is an organization that has supported direct confrontation.

87. CAIR and CAIR-Canada have, since their inception, been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism. These organizations play a unique role in the terrorist network. They emanate from the notorious HAMAS terrorist organization and like so many of the terrorism facilitating charities named and indicted by the United States government they are engaged in fund raising under the guise of assisting humanitarian causes they are, in reality, a key player in international terrorism. The unique role played by CAIR and CAIR-Canada is to manipulate the legal systems of the United States and Canada in a manner that allows them to silence critics, analysts, commentators, media organizations, and government officials by leveling false charges of discrimination, libel, slander and defamation. In addition, both organizations have actively sought to hamper governmental anti-terrorism efforts by direct propaganda activities aimed at police, first-responders, and intelligence agencies through so-called sensitivity training. Their goal is to create as much self-doubt, hesitation, fear of name-calling, and litigation within police departments and intelligence agencies as possible so as to render such authorities ineffective in pursuing international and domestic terrorist entities.

88. The role of CAIR and CAIR-Canada is to wage PSYOPS (psychological warfare) and disinformation activities on behalf of Whabbi-based [Wahhabi-based, DP] Islamic terrorists throughout North America. They are the intellectual "shock troops" of Islamic terrorism. In the years and months leading up to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 these organizations were very effective in helping to ensure that North American law enforcement and intelligence officials were sufficiently deaf, dumb, and blind to help pave the way for the attacks on the United States. The role played by these entities is an absolutely essential part of the mix of forces arrayed against the United States as they help soften-up targeted countries so as to facilitate and enhance the likelihood for a successful attack.

CAIR, which defends the civil rights of muslim-americans from the rising tide of anti-muslim hate[1], is an admittedly flawed organization at the level of its national leadership. I debated the role of CAIR in response to critics and drew the important distinction between some of the rhetoric by its leaders and the important work it does on the ground. I also dispute the assertion that CAIR receives funding from explicitly Wahabist-terrorist sources and that CAIR is sympathetic to the terrorists who hate America.

Pipes talks incessantly about the need for moderate muslims to take control over their extremist brethren - but then championed the denial of Tariq Ramadan entry to the United States. Tariq Ramadan has castigated muslim anti-semitism and exhorts European muslims to integrate with their host cultures. This is not good enough for Pipes, presumably because Ramadan is unabashedly proud of being a muslim in addition to being a moderate, and will not surrender his religious identity or beliefs by renouncing the Qur'an as the word of God or the divine authority of the Holy Prophet SAW. This is akin to an expectation that religious christians renounce their belief in Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour who died for their sins, in order to escape suspicion of being Timothy McVeigh-style separatist white nationalists.

Pipes's appointment to the US Institute of Peace (USIP) by President Bush (which was made as a recess appointment in order to escape confirmation hearings which would have exposed Pipes to questioning about his extremist anti-muslim agenda) is the single reason that the Administration deserves no benefit of the doubt for its rhetoric on its commitment to improved relations with the muslim world. I greatly admire President Bush's personal convictions, especially his strong leadership after 9-11 in calling for Americans to see their muslim co-citizens as fellow victims of terror rather than scapegoats. But as long as voices like Pipe's are representative of US policy, then there can be no compromise.

Daniel Pipes is an enemy of Muslim Americans, because he would have us renounce our faith. He cannot conceive that I can be a practicing muslim and a loyal American simultaneously - and voices like Tariq Ramadan, who champion precisely that synthesis, are ones he actively seeks to silence rather than promote. CAIR as an organization has its share of fools, but in an era where 27% of Americans think muslims should be required to register with the federal government, it is far more an honest and authentically American institution (as a protector of civil rights and the very liberty that we Americans hold so dear) than the sham USIP.

And by Pipes' own rhetoric and beliefs, which place him at odds with successful elections in Iraq, make him as susceptible to charges of aiding and abetting the terrorists as anyone else.

It is my hope that this lawsuit against CAIR gets immense publicity indeed. Daniel Pipes may get hosannas from preaching to the crowd at LGF, but the court of mainstream public opinion (well, at least 73%, anyway) is a different matter.

We muslims should also note that the Jewish comunity, especially the Anti-Defamation League, have been defending themselves from precisely this kind of groundswell of hate for decades. If we can work together with them in mutual respect, we have much to learn. We should build bridges to the Jewish community whenever possible because in solidarity with them we will find strength.

UPDATE: Though I had linked it above when I posted this entry, let me draw attention again to this debate at Tacitus.org where I acknowledge the CAIR leadership's intellgience vacuum, but defend the broader organization's purpose. In the context of the rising tide of anti-muslim hate in this country, CAIR remains the only group (at the individual chapter level) that muslims can turn to for support. I encourage readers who are interested more in my opinion of CAIR to visit the debate thread, I will post an updated defense of CAIR that takes some of the counter-arguments in consideration. Note that Paul "Bird Dog" who authored the thread and I have pretty much distilled our disagreement about CAIR to whether or not it can be proven that the group receives money from (specifically) fudamentalist Wahabi groups in Saudi Arabia or not. If such a link can be proven, then my position towards CAIR would harden dramatically. Anecdote and inference are not proof, however, and not all Saudi money is tainted (just ask the Committee to Re-Elect George W. Bush). I have not seen even the slightest shred of evidence - or even an attempt - to prove that CAIR actively supports terror activities by poroviding them material aid, which is why the lawsuit can be dismissed completely as a vendetta rather than a serious attempt to prosecute.

[1] see my series on anti-muslim hate: 1, 2, 3.

Muslim civil liberties: an assault

First came Michelle Malkin, whose apologia for the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was a thinly-veiled argument by analogy to muslim-Americans. (Eric Muller has an exhaustive review and rebuttal of the claims Malkin makes in her book)

Next came the shocking poll by Cornell University that revealed 27% of all Americans support mandatory registration by Muslim citizens. (original PDF link, weblog)

Now comes along Daniel Pipes, who argues that restriction of muslim-american civil liberties is neccessary. And of course, he quotes Malkin favorably. From Editor and Publisher:

NEW YORK When an opinion survey released by Cornell University last week found that 44% of Americans wanted to curtail the civil liberties of all Muslim-Americans, with better than one in four saying they should all be required to register their location with the federal government, many commentators expressed concern. Not syndicated columnist Daniel Pipes, however.

In his latest column he declares that he was �encouraged� by the Cornell survey, calling it �good news.� But he also identifies �the bad news,� which he describes as �the near-universal disapproval of this realism. Leftist and Islamist organizations have so successfully influenced public opinion that polite society shies away from endorsing a focus on Muslims.�

In addition to those who want all Muslim-Americans to register, 29% agree that law enforcement agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations, and 22% said the federal government should profile citizens as potential threats based on the fact that they are Muslim or have Middle Eastern heritage.

Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, says the backlash against such notions stems from a �revisionist� negative view of the Japanese internment during World War II wielded by such �radical groups� as the American Civil Liberties Union.

He hailed the recent work of columnist Michelle Malkin, who supports the Japanese internment and claims the apology by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, plus the nearly $1.65 billion in reparations paid to former internees, was premised on faulty scholarship.
�These steps may entail bothersome or offensive measures but, she argues, they are preferable to �being incinerated at your office desk by a flaming hijacked plane.��

Bothersome? I again quote Benjamin Franklin - those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. In New Hampshire, the state motto is "live free or die". Frankly, I'd rather be incinerated by a plane.

(BTW, Daniel Pipes now seeks to sue CAIR for complicity in the 9-11 terror attacks. The circle is closed...)

UPDATE: Pipes responds to the criticisms with some clarifying points:

(1) I am encouraged by the results of the Cornell survey because it means that many Americans understand the need to focus on the segment of the population that is engaged in Islamist activities; I do not specifically endorse its notion of Muslims having to register their whereabouts.

(2) I raised the subject of the Japanese internment because it "still matters" in its influence on the U.S. public debate, and not because I advocate the internment of anyone today.

Pipes appears to be backtracking here. Malkin herself sought to deny that her argument was structured as a framework for muslim internment, but she has a picture of Mohammed Atta on the cover, and explicitly compares Japanese espionage to subversive behavior by Arab and Muslim Americans today. Given that she Defends Internment on the basis of such thin evidence, its impossible not to connect the dots. Likewise, Pipes seems to be in similar denial about what his rhetoric on the need for muslims to accept second-class status means. Perhaps he and Malkin are truly ignorant of the slippery slope on which they have been cavorting.