Tag Archive: Muslim

Herman Cain Muslims


WASHINGTON — Republican Herman Cain is apologizing to Muslim leaders for vitriolic remarks he made about Islam while campaigning for the presidential nomination.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO has said communities have a right to ban Islamic mosques because Muslims are trying to inject sharia law into the U.S. He’s also said he would not want a Muslim bent on killing Americans in his administration.

On Wednesday, Cain met with four Muslim leaders in Sterling, Va. He said in a statement later he was “truly sorry” for comments that may have “betrayed” his commitment to the Constitution and the religious freedom it guarantees.

He also acknowledged that Muslims, “like all Americans,” have the right to practice freely their faith and that most Muslim Americans are peaceful and patriotic.


Ramadan And Fasting


NEW YORK — In a crowded dorm meeting room last week, Khalid Latif posed an unusual scenario to dozens of students and young professionals gathered for a weekly Islamic studies class.

“A girl walks into a (mosque) and she’s wearing a miniskirt,” the 28-year-old Muslim chaplain proposed to the group at New York University. “What do you think?”

Some participants giggled. Others looked perplexed. Traditionally, women and men are expected to wear conservative clothing in mosques. Most women who do not typically cover their heads will wear headscarves in a mosque. But the idea of a girl in a miniskirt entering an Islamic house of prayer? Absurd.

The answer, Latif suggested, was not to scold or ignore the woman, but to welcome her to pray.

“Your tongue has been given to you as a way of being closer to others and closer to the divine,” he told the group. “Think of how you use your tongue.”

The lesson is one of many the 28-year-old Muslim chaplain at the university has imparted in recent weeks as part of a popular series of classes and discussion groups he launched ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Aug. 1.

Little changes each year about the fasting month except its dates, which are determined by the lunar calendar. Muslims awake before dawn for breakfast and abstain from food, water and sex during the day before breaking their fasts with group dinners at night. The days are punctuated by prayers, and Muslims try to read the Quran, their holy book, at least once in its entirety before the month’s end. Mosques will also often organize community service activities.

But in his six years as the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Latif said he has noticed that Ramadan has become routine for many Muslims. As the director of the university’s Islamic Center, he works with hundreds of students, among them American-born Muslims, converts and international students from Islamic countries. The diversity of the group, he said, means a lot of varying ideas and questions about Ramadan and Islam.

A few weeks ago, Latif proposed an idea to those Muslims, many who have observed Ramadan since puberty, the time of life at which Muslims are required to start the practice of fasting: How about a class about Ramadan? Despite it being summer, when the student population empties out of NYU, hundreds of people signed up via the organization’s email list and website. The Islamic organization has hosted social events during Ramadan for years, but a class to teach Muslims about one of the most integral aspects of their religion was a new idea.

“We wanted to create an open space outside the mosque. A lot of Muslims get into a frame about religion where they feel unwelcome or judged or feel like religion is a set of rules,” said Latif, whose group has been meeting for six weeks to prepare for Ramadan. Latif’s students have kept daily journals of their spiritual progress, which they will consult during Ramadan as the group meets for dinners and more discussions to break the fast.

“Yet Islam is about reality. What fasting teaches you is the reality of your own situation and those around you. It allows you to think of what you can start changing about yourself,” he added.

Maureen Ahmed, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Stony Brook University, started coming to Latif’s classes after hearing about them from friends and watching online sermons about womens’ rights posted by Latif, who is also an imam (prayer leader). Unlike at many mosques, the majority of the class’s attendees have also been women.

“I don’t know where I stand with Islam myself,” said Ahmed, who is a research assistant at the Institute of International Education in Manhattan. Ahmed has fasted during Ramadan since she was young, but says she has only recently “come into my own terms about my religion.”

“I don’t have my parents telling me how to practice or what to do anymore. I have to figure it out on my own and what it means to me,” said Ahmed. “It’s good to come here and know if you don’t wear an hijab (headcover) or have other questions, that it’s OK.”

Ahmed participated in the recent conversation about the woman in the miniskirt as part of a class on the subject of character. Other classes have focused on Muslims’ intentions, habits, prayer and gratitude, as well as the legal aspects of fasting during Ramadan.

“Why you do what you do is really important, especially in regard to fasting. It’s much more meaningful if you look at it as more than abstaining from food,” said Latif, echoing one of the course’s themes.

Sara Mahmoud, who is studying for a graduate degree in public health at Columbia University, also recently began attending the classes with her friends after hearing about them from other Muslims.

“They help us get pumped up — as a group — about Ramadan,” she said. One of the simplest lessons from the discussions is about health and nutrition, she added. “A lot of people, when they break the fast, they’ll just gorge on tons of greasy food. You’re supposed to be taking care of yourself, not overeating.”

Latif, who was raised in a Pakistani-American family in New Jersey before attending NYU and training in chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary, said he was motivated to teach about Ramadan by his experiences as a counselor. As a chaplain at both NYU and the New York Police Department, he gets many questions from Muslims and non-Muslims alike about Islam. Hosting his classes outside of a mosque — the group also plans to meet in the basement of a Catholic church for breaking-the-fast dinners during Ramadan — may open up the discussion, he said.

In addition to the debate about the miniskirt, Latif posed another challenging question at the meeting last week.

“What is a good Muslim?” he asked the crowd.

“A good Muslim is one who prays five times a day,” a man offered in reply.

“Being a good Muslim is being kind to others,” another man suggested.

A woman chimed in: “Who is to judge?”

Terror in the Name of God


Since the capture of Anders Behring Breivik, the Oslo terrorist and murderer, at least two critical issues have emerged. The first is his sanity, or lack thereof. The second is that Breivik’s assaults may have been ideologically motivated. According to Breivik’s logic, the murder of 76 people was necessary to challenge the Muslim takeover of the West. It was also an act directed at some of the people who, in his mind, were making the conquest possible: liberals or, more specifically, the Labor Party.

But as important as these issues may be for determining his status as a terrorist, there is another important point to consider about the ruthlessness of his intents and actions. Breivik, like the vast majority of terrorists in the world, was a male.

On the surface of things, this may be a rather obvious and seemingly trite point to make given the horrific nature of his actions. For most analysts, what matters is that he’s a fundamentalist Christian, a terrorist, a racist, a murderer and possibly insane.

But in his own mind, Breivik is also a patriot. He is a man committed to the defense of his nation from the external threat of the “Other” — in this case, the Muslim other. According to Breivik, Norway, and the West more generally, are locked in a struggle with two possible outcomes: a West dominated by Islam or free of its presence.

Sound familiar? It is. Much like bin Laden and his associates, the ideas and visions circulating in Breivik’s mind closely resemble the cosmic battle imagined in the minds of al Qaeda fighters: the fear, the external threat, the internal traitors, the violent resistance, the utopian future. Breivik, like bin Laden, is nothing short of the archetypal extremist whose ghastly deeds reveal the malevolence of passion when mixed with fear and hate.

But Breivik, like bin Laden and a long list of others, is a man. And like the many men before him guilty of pitiless crimes against humanity, he acted in a way that begs us to consider the relationship between such violence and his notions of manhood.

Why, in other words, do some men seem to find violence as a reasonable course of action when dealing with a perceived threat?

Part of the answer, we believe, has to do with something much larger than Breivik’s sound or unsound mind — gender. Men like Breivik all imagine their communities as uniquely feminine. This idea is effectively communicated through the language of their struggle. Breivik, for example, claimed to be defending the “honor” of the West and, in his manifesto, regularly refers to the “penetration” of Muslim armies throughout history and the “rape” of Europe.

These men also believe that, in defending some imagined “sacred community,” they are also defending manhood. Most of us think of communities as something like the family. We think of the people at the local and national levels as our brothers and sisters of sorts — people with whom we share duties and obligations. Beyond our borders, however, are the outsiders — the other families. In this sense Breivik is much like the rest of us: a modern-day tribalist.

Where Breivik and others stop being like us is how they think about the tribe. Breivik believes the west exists as an essentially pure and vulnerable tribe. An important aspect of Breivik’s actions lies in the fact that he believes the pure feminine family of the West needs protection by the warrior men of which he is a part.

A quick glance at Breivik’s 1,500 page manifesto reveals explicit antipathy for “feminism” and its role in the Islamization of Europe. He refers to the “Knights,” who will lead the revolution fighting “bravely” as men defending their civilization. The manifesto is all about a macho world waging war on “feminism” and “Muslims” at one and the same time.

Of course, this is not to say that women have refrained from the glory of human cruelty. But there is something peculiar about the fact that it is mostly men who commit the extreme violence of terrorism. For reasons rarely considered by analysts, men like Breivik seem to feel a great sense of urgency to act violently in the name of their people — imagined or real — and defend its honor and purity.

Thinking about Breivik and others like him, we might do well to think more about their manhood as much as their ideologies since, more often than not, the two seem to go hand-in-hand in the play of their madness.

Anders Behring Breivik


One week after the Oslo drama, Anders Behring Breivik’s 1518-page manifesto reveals a detailed portrait of the suspected Norway shooter and of what he himself describes as his “privileged upbringing.”

Breivik was born in 1979 in London, where his father Jens Breivik was stationed at the Norwegian embassy. Less than a year after his birth Breivik’s father and mother divorced, prompting his mother Wenche Behring to return to Oslo. Breivik’s father remarried and remained in Europe, accepting a position in Paris where Breivik used to visit him during school vacations.

According to the Telegraph, Breivik described growing up with his mother in his manifesto, saying: “I do not approve of the super-liberal, matriarchal upbringing as it completely lacked discipline and has contributed to feminise me to a certain degree.”

In school Breivik seemed to have been a rather quiet child. Friends told Time magazine that he became a bit of an outsider at the end of sixth grade. “He was getting bullied,” a friend told the magazine.

By the age of 15, Breivik lost contact with his father. “I tried to contact him five years ago,” theTelegraph quotes him writing in the document. “But he said he was not mentally prepared for a reunion.” He did keep in touch with his stepmother, Tove Oevermo, who had divorced his father three years before. In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Oevermo said she said she had never seen any violent behavior in her former stepson. She did remember him talking about a book he was writing. In the manifesto , he describes his stepmother as “intelligent” but “obviously a traitor.” According to the Daily Mail he said: “Although I care for her a great deal, I wouldn’t hold it against the KT (Knights Templar) if she was executed during an attack.”

When he was about 15, Breivik got into graffiti. CNN reports he claimed to be the most active graffiti artist in the Norwegian capital by 15. Of that time he also wrote: “Unless you had Muslim contactsyou could easily be subject to harassment, beatings and robbery,” according to CNN. The network also points at some of the more paradoxical paragraphs in the document. Breivik writes: “As all my friends can attest I wouldn’t be willing to hurt a fly and I have never used violence against others … If we wanted to we could have harassed and beaten up dozens of Muslim youth. However, as we didn’t share their savage mentality, violence was pointless.”

Breivik’s right-wing political views seem to have fully developed in his late twenties, childhood friends saying that he had friends of Middle Eastern descent earlier on. A friend told the Guardian that it was only then that Breivik began posting right wing opinions on Facebook.

In 1,500-page manifesto, Norwegian mass-killer sets out Christian fundamentalist revolution against European Muslims.


By Marc Preel – OSLO

‘It’s pretty obvious he has thought a lot about it’

At more than 1,500 pages long and nearly a decade in the making, the manifesto detailing Norwegian mass-killer Anders Behring Breivik’s murderous “crusade” gives a chilling picture of a self-confessed “monster.”

It was designed to bring about the revolution he says is needed to end a centuries-long Muslim colonisation of Europe.

Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old now in police custody, draws together decades of academic research and serves up a dedicated diary of bomb-making subterfuge. The final entry comes just moments before Friday’s Oslo carnage.

“I will be labelled as the biggest (Nazi-)monster ever witnessed since WW2,” says the “Marxist Hunter” in what is at times a rambling, at times bewilderingly detailed thesis.

In it, it reveals his admiration for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and calls for adherents to spawn large families of white European ‘jihadists.’

“If you are not willing to sacrifice your own life, then I would strongly advise you to make babies and ensure that they will be willing to sacrifice theirs when the time is right,” he says at one point.

“I believe this will be my last entry,” the document states before closing with a series of posed pictures in old-fashioned military uniform or with an assault rifle — and those sharp, piercing eyes that have stared out of newspapers worldwide since his arrest in the hours following the carnage.

“It is now Fri July 22nd, 12.51. Sincere regards, Andrew Berwick, Justiciar Knight Commander, Knights Templar Europe, Knights Templar Norway,” he says in the tract “2083 — A European Declaration of Independence,” using an anglicisation of Behring Breivik’s Nordic name.

The Christian fundamentalist, as described by investigators expected to bring Behring Breivik before an Oslo court early on Monday, has now admitted to the Friday’s double attacks.

The car bomb explosion outside downtown government offices and the subsequent 90-minute shooting spree on a nearby island have now claimed 93 lives.

But police say he has not accepted “criminal responsibility” and his lawyer said on Sunday that he saw “nothing reprehensible” in his actions.

The text outlines his transformation as he strives to return Europe to an almost medieval racial and religious make-up.

It ranges from denunciations of political correctness to how to cover up the real reasons for purchasing chemicals from China for use in weaponry.

Friday’s sickening scenes trigger the start of a “pre-emptive war” he says.

It is “waged in order to repel, defeat or weaken an ongoing Islamic invasion/ colonisation, to gain a strategic advantage in an unavoidable war before that threat materialises.”

He adds: “We cannot afford to wait around and re-act when it is too late.”

The cross of chivalry represents the cover image of a PDF computer file accompanied by a 12-minute video, pulled from YouTube on Saturday night.

He launched his movement in London in 2002, he says, “one of several leaders of the national and pan-European Patriotic Resistance Movement.”

Concrete planning for Operation Martyr, as he baptised the events in and around Oslo, began in earnest in the autumn of 2009, with the setting up of “front” companies including a mining company and a farm to cover his acquisition of materials for military use.

The accelerating reduction in savings earned through these commercial activities represents an eerie countdown to his opening fire.

“In this manifesto, he appears like a loner and someone with a very peculiar intellectual influence,” says Thomas Hegghammer, senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) in Oslo, expert on terrorism and violent islamism

“If he wrote 1,500 pages, it’s pretty obvious he has thought a lot about it.”

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