Amina Sboui: Femen is an Islamaphobic organization with lack of financial transparency
August 20, 2013

Amina Sboui, the Tunisian activist who sparked controversy for posting topless pictures of herself on Facebook, said Tuesday she had left the radical feminist group Femen, accusing it of Islamophobia and a lack of financial transparency.

The young woman also criticised the lack of financial transparency of Femen, the movement founded in Ukraine and now based in Paris, which has become famous for its topless protests against dictatorship in support of women’s rights.

“I don’t know how the movement is financed. I asked (Femen leader Inna Shevchenko) several times, but I didn’t get a clear answer. I don’t want to be in a movement supported by suspect money. What if it is financed by Israel? I want to know.”

Amina, who identifies as an anarchist, sparked both scandal and a wave of online support earlier this year after she was threatened by Tunisia’s increasingly assertive hardline Islamists for posting topless pictures of herself on Facebook.

“I do not want my name to be associated with an Islamophobic organisation,” she told the Maghreb edition of the Huffington Post. “I did not appreciate the action taken by the girls shouting ‘Amina Akbar, Femen Akbar’ in front of the Tunisian embassy in Paris,” Sboui said.

Those chants were a parody of Allahu akbar (God is greatest), a phrase frequently used by Muslims to express their allegiance to and praise of God.

Amina also criticised the burning of the black Tawhid flag, which affirms the oneness of God, in front of a mosque in Paris.

“That offends many Muslims and many friends of mine. We must respect everyone’s religion,” she added.

The Femen protests took place as Sboui was being held in pre-trial detention for painting the word “Femen” on a cemetery wall in protest at a planned meeting of radical Muslim Salafists in May in the central city of Kairouan.

She was finally released at the beginning of August pending her trial for desecrating a cemetery.

Source

ACLU sues NYPD over unconstitutional Muslim surveillance programJune 18, 2013
The ACLU, together with the NYCLU and CUNY’s CLEAR Project, filed a lawsuit today challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional policy and practice of targeting entire Muslim communities for discriminatory and suspicionless surveillance. The NYPD’s vast religious profiling program has cast an unjustified badge of suspicion and stigma on hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers, based on nothing more than their religious faith and practice. We represent civic and religious leaders, two mosques, and a charitable organization, all of whom were swept up in the police department’s dragnet surveillance because they are Muslim.
As documented extensively in the NYPD’s own records and in Pulitzer prize-winning reporting by the Associated Press, NYPD officers and informants have routinely monitored mosques and businesses frequented by Muslims, including restaurants and bookstores. The department has also sent paid infiltrators into mosques, Muslim student associations, and beyond to take photos, write down license plate numbers, and keep notes on people simply because they are Muslim. Video surveillance cameras have been mounted outside mosques, recording every person who goes to worship. Maps created and maintained by the NYPD show the location of scores of mosques and Muslim businesses across New York’s five boroughs. A senior NYPD representative has admitted that these mapping activities have not generated a single lead or resulted in even one terrorism investigation.
The NYPD’s discriminatory surveillance is based on a false and unconstitutional premise: that Muslim religious belief and practices are a basis for law enforcement scrutiny. That is a premise rooted in bias and ignorance, not good law enforcement or fact. It is a premise that is both demonstrably wrong—terrorism is not a Muslim phenomenon—and deeply unfair to the millions of American Muslims who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City. The NYPD’s surveillance program would be unthinkable if it targeted churches or synagogues, Christian reading rooms or Jewish community centers. The fact that it maps and sends informants into mosques and Muslim-owned businesses is no different. Like all Americans, our Muslim communities are entitled to protection from discriminatory religious profiling and intrusive police surveillance.
The NYPD’s religious profiling has profoundly harmed New York’s Muslim community. Long before the AP confirmed the vast scope of this program, knowledge and fear of unjustified surveillance permeated the community. Our client’s stories how deep the damage has been. The NYPD’s monitoring of mosques has forced religious leaders to censor what they say to their congregants, for fear that their statements could be taken out of context by police officers or informants, resulting in further unjustified scrutiny, or worse. Some religious leaders have felt the need to regularly record their sermons to defend themselves against potential mischaracterizations. Disruptions resulting from NYPD surveillance have also diverted precious time and resources away from religious education and counseling, both of which are part of mosques’ core religious mission. And fear of NYPD surveillance has diminished congregants’ attendance at mosques, prompted distrust of newcomers out of concern that they are NYPD informants, and prevented the mosques from fulfilling their mission of serving as religious sanctuaries.
The same fear of NYPD surveillance has also diminished the ability of charities—like one of our clients, Muslims Giving Back—to raise funds to support their efforts. Muslims Giving Back and one of its leaders, our client Asad Dandia, discovered in October 2012 that the group had been infiltrated for months by a paid NYPD informant posing as a friend and enthusiastic participant in the organization’s religious mission. Since then, mosques have been reluctant to host or support Muslims Giving Back, for fear of other NYPD informants. This type of chronic mistrust cripples the ability of organizations like Muslims Giving Back to solicit the donations from congregants that sustain their charitable activities. Baseless law enforcement scrutiny has interfered with Muslims Giving Back and Asad’s mission of promoting and providing charity to needy New Yorkers in accordance with one of Islam’s primary tenets.
Read more about our clients here.
This discriminatory profiling and the harms it has caused our clients violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and guarantee of government neutrality toward religion. Our suit asks the court to end the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program and to prevent future surveillance based solely or predominantly on religion in the absence of individualized suspicion of criminal activity. It also seeks to expunge the records of all of our clients created because of the program, and to appoint a monitor to ensure that New York City truly ends all of the unconstitutional practices inherent in its religious surveillance efforts. We hope the court recognizes that suspicionless and discriminatory surveillance based on nothing more than religious identity has no place in New York, or anywhere else.
Source
Submitted by http://dashielsheen.tumblr.com/

ACLU sues NYPD over unconstitutional Muslim surveillance program
June 18, 2013

The ACLU, together with the NYCLU and CUNY’s CLEAR Project, filed a lawsuit today challenging the New York Police Department’s unconstitutional policy and practice of targeting entire Muslim communities for discriminatory and suspicionless surveillance. The NYPD’s vast religious profiling program has cast an unjustified badge of suspicion and stigma on hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers, based on nothing more than their religious faith and practice. We represent civic and religious leaders, two mosques, and a charitable organization, all of whom were swept up in the police department’s dragnet surveillance because they are Muslim.

As documented extensively in the NYPD’s own records and in Pulitzer prize-winning reporting by the Associated Press, NYPD officers and informants have routinely monitored mosques and businesses frequented by Muslims, including restaurants and bookstores. The department has also sent paid infiltrators into mosques, Muslim student associations, and beyond to take photos, write down license plate numbers, and keep notes on people simply because they are Muslim. Video surveillance cameras have been mounted outside mosques, recording every person who goes to worship. Maps created and maintained by the NYPD show the location of scores of mosques and Muslim businesses across New York’s five boroughs. A senior NYPD representative has admitted that these mapping activities have not generated a single lead or resulted in even one terrorism investigation.

The NYPD’s discriminatory surveillance is based on a false and unconstitutional premise: that Muslim religious belief and practices are a basis for law enforcement scrutiny. That is a premise rooted in bias and ignorance, not good law enforcement or fact. It is a premise that is both demonstrably wrong—terrorism is not a Muslim phenomenon—and deeply unfair to the millions of American Muslims who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City. The NYPD’s surveillance program would be unthinkable if it targeted churches or synagogues, Christian reading rooms or Jewish community centers. The fact that it maps and sends informants into mosques and Muslim-owned businesses is no different. Like all Americans, our Muslim communities are entitled to protection from discriminatory religious profiling and intrusive police surveillance.

The NYPD’s religious profiling has profoundly harmed New York’s Muslim community. Long before the AP confirmed the vast scope of this program, knowledge and fear of unjustified surveillance permeated the community. Our client’s stories how deep the damage has been. The NYPD’s monitoring of mosques has forced religious leaders to censor what they say to their congregants, for fear that their statements could be taken out of context by police officers or informants, resulting in further unjustified scrutiny, or worse. Some religious leaders have felt the need to regularly record their sermons to defend themselves against potential mischaracterizations. Disruptions resulting from NYPD surveillance have also diverted precious time and resources away from religious education and counseling, both of which are part of mosques’ core religious mission. And fear of NYPD surveillance has diminished congregants’ attendance at mosques, prompted distrust of newcomers out of concern that they are NYPD informants, and prevented the mosques from fulfilling their mission of serving as religious sanctuaries.

The same fear of NYPD surveillance has also diminished the ability of charities—like one of our clients, Muslims Giving Back—to raise funds to support their efforts. Muslims Giving Back and one of its leaders, our client Asad Dandia, discovered in October 2012 that the group had been infiltrated for months by a paid NYPD informant posing as a friend and enthusiastic participant in the organization’s religious mission. Since then, mosques have been reluctant to host or support Muslims Giving Back, for fear of other NYPD informants. This type of chronic mistrust cripples the ability of organizations like Muslims Giving Back to solicit the donations from congregants that sustain their charitable activities. Baseless law enforcement scrutiny has interfered with Muslims Giving Back and Asad’s mission of promoting and providing charity to needy New Yorkers in accordance with one of Islam’s primary tenets.

Read more about our clients here.

This discriminatory profiling and the harms it has caused our clients violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and guarantee of government neutrality toward religion. Our suit asks the court to end the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program and to prevent future surveillance based solely or predominantly on religion in the absence of individualized suspicion of criminal activity. It also seeks to expunge the records of all of our clients created because of the program, and to appoint a monitor to ensure that New York City truly ends all of the unconstitutional practices inherent in its religious surveillance efforts. We hope the court recognizes that suspicionless and discriminatory surveillance based on nothing more than religious identity has no place in New York, or anywhere else.

Source

Submitted by http://dashielsheen.tumblr.com/

Topless Tunisian activist Amina Tyler: ‘Femen have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable’ April 10, 2013
A Tunisian activist, who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online, has broken her silence to condemn the “topless jihad” that was organised in support of her. Amina Tyler posted images of herself with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page, earning calls for her death from a local preacher who feared her act “could bring about an epidemic”.
Women’s movement Femen, which celebrated its fifth birthday on Wednesday, responded by organizing bare-breasted rallies across the world, touting them as a cry against the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.”
Since the event – which inspired the creation of a group of Muslim women fiercely opposed to Femen’s work – Amina has remained out of sight. Amid fears for her life, the 19-year-old was rumoured to be in a psychiatric hospital, while attorney Bochra Bel Haj Hmida insisted Amina was well and with her family. 
Now footage of Amina has surfaced on French TV channel Itele, in which the teenager said she does not want to be associated with Femen’s recent actions. 
She told CAPA journalist Benoit Chaumant: “I am against [it]. Every[one] will think that I encouraged their actions. They have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable.” 
When asked what she thought of the reaction to her topless photograph, Amina replied: “At the moment I don’t regret what I did. But I do not know what the future holds.” 
As to whether she supports Femen “whatever happens”, she says: “Until I’m 80-years-old. Because they are true feminists.” 
Chaumant says that for her own safety, Amina hopes to leave Tunisia soon.  “They [her family] believe she is at risk of death – she is at risk of death. So they want to keep her with them, at their house.” 
In what was believed to be her last interview before she went underground, Amina told Frederica Tourn she she believed she would be beaten or raped if the Tunisian police found her. But she insisted she was not afraid: “No, nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. “Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”
As for what the reluctant poster-girl’s comments will mean for Femen – and indeed for Muslim Women Against Femen, this remains to be seen.
Source
Just in case any of you racists out there still believe that your support of Femen’s racism is justified because of Amia Tyler. 
Like everyone has already been telling you, the action was racist & insulting & it is really obvious that your condescending, eurocentric bullshit is not reaching out to help, is not being an ally & is not following the lead of the oppressed group & individuals you are pretending to stand for. Instead, it is projecting your European racism on a group of people who do not need you to mock their culture.

Topless Tunisian activist Amina Tyler: ‘Femen have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable’
April 10, 2013

A Tunisian activist, who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online, has broken her silence to condemn the “topless jihad” that was organised in support of her. Amina Tyler posted images of herself with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page, earning calls for her death from a local preacher who feared her act “could bring about an epidemic”.

Women’s movement Femen, which celebrated its fifth birthday on Wednesday, responded by organizing bare-breasted rallies across the world, touting them as a cry against the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body.”

Since the event – which inspired the creation of a group of Muslim women fiercely opposed to Femen’s work – Amina has remained out of sight. Amid fears for her life, the 19-year-old was rumoured to be in a psychiatric hospital, while attorney Bochra Bel Haj Hmida insisted Amina was well and with her family.

Now footage of Amina has surfaced on French TV channel Itele, in which the teenager said she does not want to be associated with Femen’s recent actions.

She told CAPA journalist Benoit Chaumant: “I am against [it]. Every[one] will think that I encouraged their actions. They have insulted all Muslims everywhere and it’s not acceptable.”

When asked what she thought of the reaction to her topless photograph, Amina replied: “At the moment I don’t regret what I did. But I do not know what the future holds.”

As to whether she supports Femen “whatever happens”, she says: “Until I’m 80-years-old. Because they are true feminists.”

Chaumant says that for her own safety, Amina hopes to leave Tunisia soon.  “They [her family] believe she is at risk of death – she is at risk of death. So they want to keep her with them, at their house.”

In what was believed to be her last interview before she went underground, Amina told Frederica Tourn she she believed she would be beaten or raped if the Tunisian police found her. But she insisted she was not afraid: “No, nothing they could do would be worse than what already happens here to women, the way women are forced to live every day. “Ever since we are small they tell us to be calm, to behave well, to dress a certain way, everything to find a husband. We must also study to be able to marry, because young guys today want a woman who works.”

As for what the reluctant poster-girl’s comments will mean for Femen – and indeed for Muslim Women Against Femen, this remains to be seen.

Source

Just in case any of you racists out there still believe that your support of Femen’s racism is justified because of Amia Tyler.

Like everyone has already been telling you, the action was racist & insulting & it is really obvious that your condescending, eurocentric bullshit is not reaching out to help, is not being an ally & is not following the lead of the oppressed group & individuals you are pretending to stand for. Instead, it is projecting your European racism on a group of people who do not need you to mock their culture.

I have been tortured in different kinds of ways. There are no human rights over there. That means they could do whatever they wanted to with us. They tortured me to force me to sign papers and every time I’ve refused, they kept on torturing me in different kind of ways. They really tried everything to break us including psychological and physical torture. I myself got tortured by electroshocks and waterboarding. I have seen also kids 9 years and 12 years old inside the camp. It was very difficult to watch how those kids getting beaten up in front of me.

Former Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz about his time at the prison.

More than 100 Guantanamo prisoners have entered their 40th day on hunger strike protesting their living conditions, torture & the confiscation of religious articles, including desecration of prisoners’ Korans. 

100+ Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike, possibly in grave conditionMarch 12, 2013
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay inmates have claimed “all but a few men” are on a hunger strike over their Qurans being taken away. The condition of the strikers "appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level," they said.
Most of 130 people housed in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay may be involved in the strike.
"My client and other men have reported that most of the detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are elderly or sick," Pardiss Kebriaei, a New York lawyer representing Yemeni detainee Ghaleb Al-Bihanim, told AFP. Men have reported coughed up blood, lost consciousness and were forced to move to other wings of the facility for observation.
The first reports of the widespread hunger strike in Guantanamo emerged in early March.
The protest was allegedly sparked by interference with the inmates’ personal belongings.
“Since approximately February 6, 2013, camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said in a March letter to the US Military.
They added that men’s Qurans were confiscated in a “desecrating”manner, and that prayer time was not respected. Most, if not all, of the Guantanamo detainees come from the Middle East, and are devout Muslims.
Prison officials have acknowledged that the hunger strike is taking place. However, they deny that it is a large-scale event: Nine detainees are refusing food, five of whom are being fed through tubes inserted into their stomachs, according to Robert Durand, director of public affairs for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Durand also said that the claims of desecration of the Quran were unfounded.
"To be clear: there have been no incidents of desecration of the Quran by guards or translators, and nothing unusual happened during a routine search for contraband," he told AFP.
Guantanamo Bay is a US Military prison facility opened on the wake of 9/11, as part of the George W. Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror.’ The prison currently holds 166 people, many of whom have spent over a decade there without official charges brought against them. Washington has alleged the inmates are terrorists who plotted or acted against the American people. Guantanamo Bay became a source of heated public debate after it was revealed that US forces had tortured detainees.
Barack Obama promised to close the facility at the beginning of his first term as president, but the facility remains open.
Source
Not only has the facility remained open, Obama oversaw a $40 million renovation in July 2012. The prison has received more than $500 million in renovations since 9/11.
Also, many Guantanamo detainees had been found to be innocent over the years, even though they served many years inside the prison. WikiLeaks released military files that revealed about 150 innocent men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo in the past few years.
Most were Afghan or Pakistani farmers, drivers or working men who were arrested in an attempt at intelligence gathering & never had charges brought against them or were ever taken to court but held for lengthy periods of time.

100+ Guantanamo inmates on hunger strike, possibly in grave condition
March 12, 2013

Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay inmates have claimed “all but a few men” are on a hunger strike over their Qurans being taken away. The condition of the strikers "appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level," they said.

Most of 130 people housed in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay may be involved in the strike.

"My client and other men have reported that most of the detainees in Camp 6 are on strike, except for a small few who are elderly or sick," Pardiss Kebriaei, a New York lawyer representing Yemeni detainee Ghaleb Al-Bihanim, told AFP. Men have reported coughed up blood, lost consciousness and were forced to move to other wings of the facility for observation.

The first reports of the widespread hunger strike in Guantanamo emerged in early March.

The protest was allegedly sparked by interference with the inmates’ personal belongings.

“Since approximately February 6, 2013, camp authorities have been confiscating detainees’ personal items, including blankets, sheets, towels, mats, razors, toothbrushes, books, family photos, religious CDs, and letters, including legal mail; and restricting their exercise, seemingly without provocation or cause,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said in a March letter to the US Military.

They added that men’s Qurans were confiscated in a “desecrating”manner, and that prayer time was not respected. Most, if not all, of the Guantanamo detainees come from the Middle East, and are devout Muslims.

Prison officials have acknowledged that the hunger strike is taking place. However, they deny that it is a large-scale event: Nine detainees are refusing food, five of whom are being fed through tubes inserted into their stomachs, according to Robert Durand, director of public affairs for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

Durand also said that the claims of desecration of the Quran were unfounded.

"To be clear: there have been no incidents of desecration of the Quran by guards or translators, and nothing unusual happened during a routine search for contraband," he told AFP.

Guantanamo Bay is a US Military prison facility opened on the wake of 9/11, as part of the George W. Bush administration’s ‘War on Terror.’ The prison currently holds 166 people, many of whom have spent over a decade there without official charges brought against them. Washington has alleged the inmates are terrorists who plotted or acted against the American people. Guantanamo Bay became a source of heated public debate after it was revealed that US forces had tortured detainees.

Barack Obama promised to close the facility at the beginning of his first term as president, but the facility remains open.

Source

Not only has the facility remained open, Obama oversaw a $40 million renovation in July 2012. The prison has received more than $500 million in renovations since 9/11.

Also, many Guantanamo detainees had been found to be innocent over the years, even though they served many years inside the prison. WikiLeaks released military files that revealed about 150 innocent men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo in the past few years.

Most were Afghan or Pakistani farmers, drivers or working men who were arrested in an attempt at intelligence gathering & never had charges brought against them or were ever taken to court but held for lengthy periods of time.

Who are the Tuareg? Background amid conflict in Northern Mali
February 19, 2013

FOR COSMOPOLITAN music lovers, the Tuareg people burst onto the scene in 2001 when their most prominent musical group, Tinariwen, kicked off an internationally acclaimed music festival outside of Timbuktu in the Malian desert. Ten years later, after playing over 700 shows in the U.S. and Europe, Tinariwen won a Grammy for “Best Foreign Language Album.”

But Tinariwen has an important history that dates back before 2001. Its members were part of the Tuareg resistance to the Malian government up until the 1990s. Most grew up in refugee camps after theishumar generation was forced out of the traditional Tuareg lifestyle by government action.

They became critical of their ancestors’ strict social hierarchies. But as Tinariwen became an international sensation, its members donned traditional Tuareg dress and helped to recreate images of a romanticized past.

With the crisis in northern Mali and the French government’s military intervention in its former colony, the Tuareg have become a focus of attention in the West in a new way. In both the mainstream press and in United Nations resolutions, they have been wrongly conflated with Islamic jihadists, while their legitimate grievances against the Malian government have been ignored.

A court in the Malian capital of Bamako issued arrest warrants last week for Tuareg leaders from both the Mouvement National de Liberation de L’Azawad (MNLA), the most prominent political Tuareg group, and Ansar Dine, an Islamist group, imported into northern Mali from Southeast Asia, with a particularly evangelical and sectarian Salafist history. These two groups are completely different in aim, origin and strategy, but the Malian state paints them with one brush.

The UN has already ducked the pressing economic and political questions facing residents of northern Mali by denouncing the right of the Tuareg to independence. France can’t be allowed to claim that military intervention is the solution to the “problem” in Mali—while it ignores the dire economic conditions at the roots of the discontent among the Tuareg.

THE TUAREG speak Tamasheq, part of the Berber language group. They are a majority Muslim group of a million-and-a-half people living in Niger, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Burkina Faso. Historically nomadic and pastoralist, the Tuareg dominated the vast desert areas of these countries.

Now, because of a series of droughts in the Sahara, forced sedentariztion, restrictive land policies of the Malian state and state repression, they have become a migrant workforce in northern Africa. Some still practice pastoralism, but many more rely on urban jobs, remittances and state aid. Before the fall of the Muammar al-Qaddafi and his regime in Libya last year, some found employment in the Libyan state machine, including its military and security services.

Since military control of the Tuareg was never feasible because of the problems of desert combat, the Tuareg maintained a great deal of autonomy. They were exempted from mandatory military service and didn’t pay taxes. The colonial masters effectively allowed the practice of slavery to continue among the Tuareg.

For this reason, sub-Saharan Malians in the South resented the privileged position that the Tuareg were afforded by the colonial state. According to the historian Baz Lecocq, most of the Tuareg view French colonialism as a better alternative to administration by the central Malian government since independence.

The Tuareg are the dominant ethnic group in the desert and in Kidal, but are a minority even in the two biggest Northern cities of Mali, Timbuktu and Gao. Although they make up less than 10 percent of the Malian population, the nomads have had a disproportionate impact on the fortunes of the Malian state since its founding in 1960. (details in full article – link @the bottom of this page)

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TO CATEGORIZE a group of nomads as a “nation” may or may not be appropriate. It is an especially complicated question in post-colonial Africa, where colonial meddling in territorial boundaries forever changed power relations between indigenous groups.

Nevertheless, the Tuareg share a language and a history, and see themselves as a coherent group. They are unquestionably oppressed by the Malian state. Between 1964 and 1967, they were subjected to a fierce campaign of forced sedentarization, away from their traditional nomadic lifestyle. In the tradition of the colonial masters, the Malian state continued to appoint Tuareg chiefs and leaders, overturning democratic choices made by Tuareg clans. The use of Tamasheq was forbidden in schools.

During the Tuareg rebellions of 1962-63 and 1990-94, the Malian army meted out brutal collective punishment. It was accused of poisoning wells and mass killings of both civilians and livestock. The Malian state declared certain desert areas “forbidden zones” and threatened to shoot anyone in those areas—a particularly damning policy against a people who depend on grazing livestock.

The Tuareg have always claimed a right to self-determination in the Azawad, the desert region of Mali, Niger, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. If part of this right rests on the claim that they have historically dominated the area, though, then that claim is complicated by the question of slavery.

The Tuareg practiced certain forms of slavery—very different, it should be noted, than chattel slavery in the New World—until Malian independence. Noble Tuareg families kept house slaves (“iklan”) and demanded tribute from “slave” agricultural villages. Historically, they had also been involved in trafficking slaves across North Africa. One element that spurred the Tuareg to rebel in 1962 was their desire to control their social hierarchies (and slaves) without intervention by the state in Bamako—which, unlike the French, undertook a serious effort to end unfree labor.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THERE ARE at least four forces fighting in northern Mali.

Beginning in November 2011, a series of high-profile kidnappings of Westerners took place in northern Mali. These kidnappings were either carried out by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or by forces affiliated with the Algerian secret service. (Anthropologist and United Nations consultant Jeremy Keenan believes Algerian forces have quite likely participated in high-profile kidnappings in the Sahara since 2003.)

Then in January 2012, probably emboldened by a new flow of arms to the region after Qaddafi’s downfall, Tuareg fighers began a series of skirmishes with the Malian military. Their chief aim was seemingly to wrest economic concessions from the state.

Into the fray jumped the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). These two jihadist groups have been joined by Ansar Dine, which is made up of ethnically Tuareg people, but should not be called a “Tuareg” group—it has its origins in Southeast Asia. After recruiting the prominent Tuareg leader Iyad ag Ghaly following the decline of the political Tuareg movement, Ansar Dine gained a significant Tuareg following. But its aims aren’t about overcoming the historic oppression of the Tuareg people, but rather a larger agenda of gaining dominance for Salafist Islam.

The total number of fighters between the three Islamist groups is probably about 2,000 people. The MNLA, the largest political Tuareg group, is now staunchly in opposition to these groups.

The Tuareg, like any other “nation,” is not a uniform group. Since the first uprising in 1962, it has been divided into factions—some want to take the claim of “self-determination” to its logical conclusion of political secession by any means necessary, and others want some type of autonomy, gained through negotiations with Malian state.

The latter forces won out. The MNLA that is dominant today claims the mantle of the Mouvement Frente Unite de l’Azawad, one of the most important groups that negotiated peace with the Malian government in 1996.

In 1996, the Bourem Pact ended the second Tuareg uprising. The Malian state, with the support of the international community, both states and NGOs, devoted some $9 million for a Disarm, Demobilize, Reintegrate (DDR) program that provided cash for weapons to the rebels, credits for small businesses and increased funding in infrastructure. Schools and health care centers were built, and an additional $150 million was pledged for reconstruction. The city of Kidal got electricity for the first time in 1996.

In return for their agreement to lay down arms, Tuareg administrators gained greater powers of self-governance. In addition to the DDR program and investment in infrastructure, several thousand Tuareg fighters chose to integrate into the Malian army. In exchange for giving up the armed resistance, the Malian army took them in as soldiers and paid them a regular salary.

With this history no doubt in mind, the MNLA today is fighting, in practical terms, for more economic aid and an end to state repression. In an obscure part of its website and in French, there is a demand for “sovereignty” and “self-determination.” But in a document called “The renewal of the Armed Struggle in the Azawad,” intended for an international audience, the MNLA emphasizes more pragmatic and practical demands: dialogue with the Malian state, an end to military killings and the intervention of the “international community.”

It is this “pragmatism” which has led the MNLA to accept French military intervention in northern Mali. According to Canadian socialist Roger Annis, the MNLA “entered into talks with the Mali regime in December for autonomy in the northern region. A January 13 statement on the group’s website acquiesces to the French intervention, but says it should not allow troops of the Mali army to pass beyond the border demarcation line declared in April of last year.”

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THE TUAREG question is an international one. More Tuareg live in neighboring Niger than in Mali, and there, too, they have organized a movement against state repression—their most recent uprising ended in 2009.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou said, “The threats in Mali constitute a domestic security problem for Niger”—and sent 500 soldiers to the international peacekeeping force in Mali, imploring the international force to disarm the MNLA. The Niger government signed a deal with the U.S. to host a base for surveillance drones.

Niger, like Mali in the period before the latest crisis, had adopted a strategy of trying to assimilate the Tuareg, integrate them into the state (a Tuareg was appointed Prime Minister in 2011) and grant limited economic concessions. Large uranium mines in Niger represent huge potential profits for French companies, as well as geopolitical power. Thus, France and Niger’s ruling elite both want stability.

Despite incredible mineral wealth, Niger’s gross domestic product per capita is around $374, according the World Bank. Mali’s is around $669, despite huge gold reserves.

So while it is right in a sense to talk about a “nationalist insurgency,” it is important to note that Tuareg poverty is, more than anything else, the driving impulse for a people who have learned that armed struggle works in wresting economic concessions from the state.

This is important to recognize because Western governments and the UN have spent a lot of time “rejecting” the Tuareg’s right to self-determination. In July 2012, UN resolution 2056 stated, “reiterating its categorical rejection of statements made by the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) regarding the so-called ‘independence’ of northern Mali, and further reiterating that it considers such announcements null and void.”

By pretending that the Tuareg are simply focused on the creation of a separate state, Western governments can ignore their more immediate demands. They can ignore the real crisis—that 400,000 northern Malians have been displaced from their homes.

Source/Full Article (parts were removed for reduced Tumblr sizing)

US deploys forces at Anti-American sentiment grows in Middle EastSeptember 15, 2012
Washington said it was deploying forces to cope with violence in as many as 18 different locations as deadly Muslim anger spreads over a US-made movie that mocks Islam.
Two US marines were killed in Afghanistan when insurgents armed with guns and rockets stormed a heavily fortified air base late on Friday in an attack that the Taliban militia said was to avenge the film.
The attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, which continued until Saturday morning, was a major security breach at a base where Britain’s Prince Harry is stationed and has been the target of specific death threats.
It came after at least six protesters died in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan on Friday as local police battled to defend American missions from mobs of stone-throwers.

A Tunisian protester runs for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a demonstration against a film mocking Islam in Tunis on September 14. Washington said it was deploying forces to cope with violence in as many as 18 different locations as deadly Muslim anger spreads.

Symbols of US influence in cities across the Muslim world came under attack — embassies and schools as well as fast food chains — as protesters vented their fury at the low-budget American-made YouTube film, “Innocence of Muslims”.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington was configuring its forces to be able to cope with widespread violence following its deployment of Marine counter-terrorism units to Libya and Yemen and its stationing of two destroyers off the North African coast.
"We have to be prepared in the event that these demonstrations get out of control," Panetta told Foreign Policy magazine.
He did not offer any specifics. But the magazine said that the Pentagon was discussing, but had not yet decided, whether to send a third platoon of 50 specially trained Marines to protect the US embassy in Khartoum.
Guards on the roof of the embassy fired warning shots on Friday as the compound was breached by protesters waving Islamic banners, after earlier ransacking parts of the British and German missions in the Sudanese capital.
The US embassy compounds in Egypt and Yemen have also been breached in the past week, and on Tuesday the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when a mob torched the consulate in Benghazi.
Source
This is outrageous. People of sovereign countries are furious that the US continues to dehumanize its citizens with military presence and wars that have ravaged entire countries. But the American response is to deploy more military. US imperialism is plaguing the entire world. 

US deploys forces at Anti-American sentiment grows in Middle East
September 15, 2012

Washington said it was deploying forces to cope with violence in as many as 18 different locations as deadly Muslim anger spreads over a US-made movie that mocks Islam.

Two US marines were killed in Afghanistan when insurgents armed with guns and rockets stormed a heavily fortified air base late on Friday in an attack that the Taliban militia said was to avenge the film.

The attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, which continued until Saturday morning, was a major security breach at a base where Britain’s Prince Harry is stationed and has been the target of specific death threats.

It came after at least six protesters died in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan on Friday as local police battled to defend American missions from mobs of stone-throwers.

A Tunisian protester runs for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during a demonstration against a film mocking Islam in Tunis on September 14. Washington said it was deploying forces to cope with violence in as many as 18 different locations as deadly Muslim anger spreads.

Symbols of US influence in cities across the Muslim world came under attack — embassies and schools as well as fast food chains — as protesters vented their fury at the low-budget American-made YouTube film, “Innocence of Muslims”.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Washington was configuring its forces to be able to cope with widespread violence following its deployment of Marine counter-terrorism units to Libya and Yemen and its stationing of two destroyers off the North African coast.

"We have to be prepared in the event that these demonstrations get out of control," Panetta told Foreign Policy magazine.

He did not offer any specifics. But the magazine said that the Pentagon was discussing, but had not yet decided, whether to send a third platoon of 50 specially trained Marines to protect the US embassy in Khartoum.

Guards on the roof of the embassy fired warning shots on Friday as the compound was breached by protesters waving Islamic banners, after earlier ransacking parts of the British and German missions in the Sudanese capital.

The US embassy compounds in Egypt and Yemen have also been breached in the past week, and on Tuesday the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when a mob torched the consulate in Benghazi.

Source

This is outrageous. People of sovereign countries are furious that the US continues to dehumanize its citizens with military presence and wars that have ravaged entire countries. But the American response is to deploy more military. US imperialism is plaguing the entire world. 

Glenn Greenwald on how the US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude
September 15, 2012
One prominent strain shaping American reaction to the protests in the Muslim world is bafflement, and even anger, that those Muslims are not more grateful to the US. After all, goes this thinking, the US bestowed them with the gifts of freedom and democracy – the very rights they are now exercising – so how could they possibly be anything other than thankful? Under this worldview, it is especially confounding that the US, their savior and freedom-provider, would be the target of their rage.
On Wednesday, USA Today published an article with the headline “After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?” The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny:
"Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?"
Did you know that the “USA helped free” Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute reporton Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place “in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak”, and then added:
"It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we’re seeing right now.
That it was the US who freed Egyptians and “allowed them” the right toprotest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region’s dictators).
Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel’s claim that the US freed them with the”made in USA” logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak’s security forces; or with Hillary Clinton’s touching 2009 declaration that “I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family”; or with Obama’s support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak’s replacement in the name of “stability”.
Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as “ironic” on the ground that it was the US who freed them and “allowed” them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets.
Read more

Glenn Greenwald on how the US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude

September 15, 2012

One prominent strain shaping American reaction to the protests in the Muslim world is bafflement, and even anger, that those Muslims are not more grateful to the US. After all, goes this thinking, the US bestowed them with the gifts of freedom and democracy – the very rights they are now exercising – so how could they possibly be anything other than thankful? Under this worldview, it is especially confounding that the US, their savior and freedom-provider, would be the target of their rage.

On Wednesday, USA Today published an article with the headline “After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?” The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny:

"Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?"

Did you know that the “USA helped free” Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute reporton Brian Williams’ “Rock Center” program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place “in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak”, and then added:

"It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we’re seeing right now.

That it was the US who freed Egyptians and “allowed them” the right toprotest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region’s dictators).

Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel’s claim that the US freed them with the”made in USA” logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak’s security forces; or with Hillary Clinton’s touching 2009 declaration that “I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family”; or with Obama’s support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak’s replacement in the name of “stability”.

Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as “ironic” on the ground that it was the US who freed them and “allowed” them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets.

Read more

August drone strike update
Pakistan: August sees the highest number of CIA strikes in Pakistan since October 2011. A number of senior militants are killed along with at least two named civilians.
Yemen: At least 26 people are killed in five confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen. This is still less than the May peak. Civilian casualties are confirmed for the first time since May.
Somalia: For the fourth month no US military actions are reported in Somalia. In related news, three Ugandan helicopters crash-land prior to an anticipated assault on militant-held Kismayo.

Total CIA strikes in August: 7Total killed in strikes in August: 29-65, of whom at least 2were reportedly civilians

All actions 2004 – August 31 2012

Total Obama strikes: 291Total US strikes since 2004: 343Total reported killed: 2,558-3,319Civilians reported killed: 474-881Children reported killed: 176Total reported injured: 1,226-1,359For the Bureau’s full Pakistan databases click here.

The CIA launched seven drone strikes in August, the highest recorded in any month since October 2011. The rate of strikes has continued to rise through the year.
Source
Additionally, the number of actual civilians killed is much higher as Obama has recently redefined ”militant” (with militants not qualifying as citizens) as ANY male over the age of 18 who is killed by a drone strike. Simply by being in the zone that is bombed and being male and being over the age of 18, these young men are automatically deemed militants, and thus are not counted among civilian deaths. This is one of many reasons why I would NEVER vote for Obama again. 

August drone strike update

Pakistan: August sees the highest number of CIA strikes in Pakistan since October 2011. A number of senior militants are killed along with at least two named civilians.

Yemen: At least 26 people are killed in five confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen. This is still less than the May peak. Civilian casualties are confirmed for the first time since May.

Somalia: For the fourth month no US military actions are reported in Somalia. In related news, three Ugandan helicopters crash-land prior to an anticipated assault on militant-held Kismayo.

Total CIA strikes in August: 7
Total killed in strikes in August: 29-65, of whom at least 2were reportedly civilians

All actions 2004 – August 31 2012

Total Obama strikes: 291
Total US strikes since 2004: 343
Total reported killed: 2,558-3,319
Civilians reported killed: 474-881
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,226-1,359
For the Bureau’s full Pakistan databases click here.

The CIA launched seven drone strikes in August, the highest recorded in any month since October 2011. The rate of strikes has continued to rise through the year.

Source

Additionally, the number of actual civilians killed is much higher as Obama has recently redefined ”militant” (with militants not qualifying as citizens) as ANY male over the age of 18 who is killed by a drone strike. Simply by being in the zone that is bombed and being male and being over the age of 18, these young men are automatically deemed militants, and thus are not counted among civilian deaths. This is one of many reasons why I would NEVER vote for Obama again. 

At least nine “militants” were killed when US drones targeted a vehicle at 7 pm on Tuesday in the Sheen Khwar area on the outskirts of Humzonee village
In an effort to avoid criticism for murdering thousands of random civilians, the term militant is defined by the Obama administration as being a male over the age of 18 (military age). 
August 23, 2012
The official told The Express Tribune that four missiles were fired on the vehicle. He added that it could not be ascertained whether any senior insurgents were among the dead.
“The militants were leaving a house for an undisclosed location when they were attacked by the drones,” the official said.
A local tribesman said that he was on the way to his house when two drones launched four missiles on the militants’ vehicle, adding that the militants were from the group of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an influential commander who is believed to be hosting the Haqqani network, the deadliest of all Afghan Taliban groups.
Another official in Miramshah said a compound near the vehicle was also damaged in the strike. “One of the missiles also hit a nearby compound which was badly damaged after catching fire,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, at least six militants were killed when US drones fired missiles twice in North Waziristan.
Humzonee village is inhibited by the Dawar tribe and is located close to the Miramshah market.
There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, this year.
Source
The Obama administration continues to proudly kill as many people near and around Pakistan as they can. Everyday the people of Pakistan become more and more outraged by the increasing violence via drone strikes that is being perpretrated against civilians in that country. By defining “militants” as young men, we are creating the next generation of real militants. What choice do they have? Fight back or roll over and wait to die seems to be their only options. Meanwhile, Obama spends millions on the campaign trail and sleeps well knowing that more Pakistani civilians die every day.
People who care about national security in America should be outraged and should demand everyday that these drone strikes stop immediately.

At least nine “militants” were killed when US drones targeted a vehicle at 7 pm on Tuesday in the Sheen Khwar area on the outskirts of Humzonee village

In an effort to avoid criticism for murdering thousands of random civilians, the term militant is defined by the Obama administration as being a male over the age of 18 (military age).

August 23, 2012

The official told The Express Tribune that four missiles were fired on the vehicle. He added that it could not be ascertained whether any senior insurgents were among the dead.

“The militants were leaving a house for an undisclosed location when they were attacked by the drones,” the official said.

A local tribesman said that he was on the way to his house when two drones launched four missiles on the militants’ vehicle, adding that the militants were from the group of Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an influential commander who is believed to be hosting the Haqqani network, the deadliest of all Afghan Taliban groups.

Another official in Miramshah said a compound near the vehicle was also damaged in the strike. “One of the missiles also hit a nearby compound which was badly damaged after catching fire,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, at least six militants were killed when US drones fired missiles twice in North Waziristan.

Humzonee village is inhibited by the Dawar tribe and is located close to the Miramshah market.

There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, this year.

Source

The Obama administration continues to proudly kill as many people near and around Pakistan as they can. Everyday the people of Pakistan become more and more outraged by the increasing violence via drone strikes that is being perpretrated against civilians in that country. By defining “militants” as young men, we are creating the next generation of real militants. What choice do they have? Fight back or roll over and wait to die seems to be their only options. Meanwhile, Obama spends millions on the campaign trail and sleeps well knowing that more Pakistani civilians die every day.

People who care about national security in America should be outraged and should demand everyday that these drone strikes stop immediately.

Former Disney employee discriminated against for being Muslim; ‘modern-day Jim Crow’ bias 
August 20, 2012
An ex-Disney employee filed a federal lawsuit Monday against her former employer, alleging she was discriminated against and harassed because of her Muslim beliefs.
Imane Boudlal, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in Morocco, started working at the Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel in Anaheim in April 2008.
Boudlal alleges she was subjected to ethnic insults such as “terrorist” and “camel” by co-workers and supervisors. Boudlal said she reported the harassment to supervisors, who acknowledged the problem but allegedly did not take any action.
Boudlal claims she got into a dispute with her supervisors in 2010 when she asked to wear a hijab, or headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women, at work. After two months of considering the request, she was told she could not wear the head covering because it would violate Disney’s “look” policy, according to the lawsuit.
Boudlal says she offered to wear a hijab bearing colors matching her uniform or with a Disney logo, but her bosses instead suggested she work in a back area out of sight of restaurant patrons.
Boudlal says she was also given the opportunity to wear a large fedora-type hat on top of her hijab, and was fired when she refused those options.
Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said: “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths.
We presented Ms. Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab. Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.”
In August 2010, Boudlal told City News Service that “I don’t keep rejecting (Disney’s proposals) for no reason. The problem is they don’t want an Islamic woman working at Disney.”
In a statement released after the lawsuit was filed, Boudlal said she was harassed before she started asking to wear a hijab.
"Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth, but I faced harassment as soon as I started working there," she said. "It only got worse when I decided to wear a hijab. My journey towards wearing it couldn’t have been more American; it began at my naturalization ceremony. I realized that I had the freedom to be who I want and freely practice my religion. Neither Disney nor anyone else can take that from me."
Boudlal also alleged Disney has a double standard with regard to its “look” policy, noting that some employees had tattoos and wore jewelry and hairstyles in violation of the work code. Christian employees were allowed to wear marks on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, which would technically violate the policy, she said.
Boudlal is being represented by American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, who blasted Disney for the way the company handled the dispute.
"Had Imane been Princess Jasmine, a cartoon Muslim, Disney would not only have permitted her to wear a hijab, they would have exploited it," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California.
"The film ‘Aladdin’ grossed over $200 million in revenues. But Disney’s tolerance of religious practices of Muslim women does not extend to real-life women," he said. "Imane would have been acceptable to Disney only were she an animated character. This is not Mickey Mouse bigotry — it is cold and calculating religious intolerance unacceptable according to our laws and most cherished values."
Another ACLU attorney, Anne Richardson, said: “At Disney, animated characters have more civil rights than the people who work there. This is modern day Jim Crow. Muslims who want to express their religion by wearing a headscarf have to work in the back, out of sight.”
Source

Former Disney employee discriminated against for being Muslim; ‘modern-day Jim Crow’ bias

August 20, 2012

An ex-Disney employee filed a federal lawsuit Monday against her former employer, alleging she was discriminated against and harassed because of her Muslim beliefs.

Imane Boudlal, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in Morocco, started working at the Storytellers Cafe at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel in Anaheim in April 2008.

Boudlal alleges she was subjected to ethnic insults such as “terrorist” and “camel” by co-workers and supervisors. Boudlal said she reported the harassment to supervisors, who acknowledged the problem but allegedly did not take any action.

Boudlal claims she got into a dispute with her supervisors in 2010 when she asked to wear a hijab, or headscarf traditionally worn by Muslim women, at work. After two months of considering the request, she was told she could not wear the head covering because it would violate Disney’s “look” policy, according to the lawsuit.

Boudlal says she offered to wear a hijab bearing colors matching her uniform or with a Disney logo, but her bosses instead suggested she work in a back area out of sight of restaurant patrons.

Boudlal says she was also given the opportunity to wear a large fedora-type hat on top of her hijab, and was fired when she refused those options.

Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said: “Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has a history of accommodating religious requests from cast members of all faiths.

We presented Ms. Boudlal with multiple options to accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as offered her several roles that would have allowed her to wear her own hijab. Unfortunately, she rejected all of our efforts and has since refused to come to work.”

In August 2010, Boudlal told City News Service that “I don’t keep rejecting (Disney’s proposals) for no reason. The problem is they don’t want an Islamic woman working at Disney.”

In a statement released after the lawsuit was filed, Boudlal said she was harassed before she started asking to wear a hijab.

"Disneyland calls itself the happiest place on earth, but I faced harassment as soon as I started working there," she said. "It only got worse when I decided to wear a hijab. My journey towards wearing it couldn’t have been more American; it began at my naturalization ceremony. I realized that I had the freedom to be who I want and freely practice my religion. Neither Disney nor anyone else can take that from me."

Boudlal also alleged Disney has a double standard with regard to its “look” policy, noting that some employees had tattoos and wore jewelry and hairstyles in violation of the work code. Christian employees were allowed to wear marks on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, which would technically violate the policy, she said.

Boudlal is being represented by American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, who blasted Disney for the way the company handled the dispute.

"Had Imane been Princess Jasmine, a cartoon Muslim, Disney would not only have permitted her to wear a hijab, they would have exploited it," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California.

"The film ‘Aladdin’ grossed over $200 million in revenues. But Disney’s tolerance of religious practices of Muslim women does not extend to real-life women," he said. "Imane would have been acceptable to Disney only were she an animated character. This is not Mickey Mouse bigotry — it is cold and calculating religious intolerance unacceptable according to our laws and most cherished values."

Another ACLU attorney, Anne Richardson, said: “At Disney, animated characters have more civil rights than the people who work there. This is modern day Jim Crow. Muslims who want to express their religion by wearing a headscarf have to work in the back, out of sight.”

Source

Mosque in Joplin, Missouri hit by second fire in five weeksAugust 6, 2012
A mosque in southwest Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, officials said.
The fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin was reported about 3:30 a.m. Monday, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said. The sheriff’s department said the building was a total loss. No injuries were reported and no charges have been filed.
Imam Lahmuddin, who leads the mosque and was in the building until late Sunday, said he was “sad and shocked” about the fire.
"I’m still in front of the building looking at the damage and nothing can be saved," Lahmuddin said in a telephone interview Monday. "But since we are people of faith we just can remember that this is a thing that happened because God let it happen, and we have to be patient, particularly in the month of Ramadan, control our emotions, our anger."
A blaze at the same building July 4 caused minor damage and was determined arson. No arrests were made and the FBI has offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to charges in that fire.
The agency released video footage of what appeared to be a man starting the July blaze that did not cause extensive damage. Sharon Rhine, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said the center’s security cameras were burned in the Monday fire.
The FBI is investigating the cause of the latest fire and whether or not it was also the result of arson, said agency spokeswoman Bridgett Patton.
A Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization meanwhile called for more police protection at mosques and other houses of worship following the Joplin fire and a deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the mosque fire.
About 50 families belong to the Islamic Society of Joplin, which opened in 2007 as a mosque and community center. The FBI led an investigation in 2008 when the mosque’s sign was torched. That crime also remained unsolved.
Lahmuddin, who has lived in Joplin for about four years, said several people were at the center late Sunday. He said despite the attacks, the center’s members have good relationships with residents and other churches. He said many are doctors at area hospitals.
On Sunday, a gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The imam said it was a cause of great concern that both faiths had seemingly come under attack.
"I heard that yesterday, and this morning we see this happen in our place," he said. "We are more fortunate that no one here got hurt in this incident."
Source

Mosque in Joplin, Missouri hit by second fire in five weeks
August 6, 2012

A mosque in southwest Missouri burned to the ground early Monday in the second fire to hit the Islamic center in little more than a month, officials said.

The fire at the Islamic Society of Joplin was reported about 3:30 a.m. Monday, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office said. The sheriff’s department said the building was a total loss. No injuries were reported and no charges have been filed.

Imam Lahmuddin, who leads the mosque and was in the building until late Sunday, said he was “sad and shocked” about the fire.

"I’m still in front of the building looking at the damage and nothing can be saved," Lahmuddin said in a telephone interview Monday. "But since we are people of faith we just can remember that this is a thing that happened because God let it happen, and we have to be patient, particularly in the month of Ramadan, control our emotions, our anger."

A blaze at the same building July 4 caused minor damage and was determined arson. No arrests were made and the FBI has offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to charges in that fire.

The agency released video footage of what appeared to be a man starting the July blaze that did not cause extensive damage. Sharon Rhine, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said the center’s security cameras were burned in the Monday fire.

The FBI is investigating the cause of the latest fire and whether or not it was also the result of arson, said agency spokeswoman Bridgett Patton.

A Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization meanwhile called for more police protection at mosques and other houses of worship following the Joplin fire and a deadly attack at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the mosque fire.

About 50 families belong to the Islamic Society of Joplin, which opened in 2007 as a mosque and community center. The FBI led an investigation in 2008 when the mosque’s sign was torched. That crime also remained unsolved.

Lahmuddin, who has lived in Joplin for about four years, said several people were at the center late Sunday. He said despite the attacks, the center’s members have good relationships with residents and other churches. He said many are doctors at area hospitals.

On Sunday, a gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The imam said it was a cause of great concern that both faiths had seemingly come under attack.

"I heard that yesterday, and this morning we see this happen in our place," he said. "We are more fortunate that no one here got hurt in this incident."

Source

Philippine college bans Muslim students from wearing hijabAugust 5, 2012
A Catholic-run college in southern Philippines has stirred controversy by banning Muslim students from wearing Islamic headscarves.
The ban was ordered at the Pilar College in the mixed Muslim-Christian port city of Zamboanga. 
Head of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Mehol Sadain, along with local politician, have asked the college to reconsider its decision.
In an open letter to Pilar College Sadain wrote: “I am writing, not to argue, but to enlighten; and not to object, but to appeal for your kind reconsideration and compromise, in behalf of the hijab-wearing Muslimah enrolled in Pilar College.” Sadain added that wearing hijab was a “sign of modesty and obedience to God” and posed no threat to the educational institution’s teachings. "Pilar College should realize that while educational institutions can formulate their own policies, the same should not run counter to existing laws and state policies,” the NCMF head said. The college, run by the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary has defended its actions, saying that the core of its curriculum is based on Christianity. 
The complaint has reached the local city council, which asked the school to provide answers.
The school is believed to be the first in the mainly Catholic but largely tolerant Philippines to enforce an outright ban on wearing the hijab. 
More than 80 percent of the Philippines’ nearly 100 million population are Catholic, while Muslims form a large minority in the south of the country.
Source

Philippine college bans Muslim students from wearing hijab
August 5, 2012

A Catholic-run college in southern Philippines has stirred controversy by banning Muslim students from wearing Islamic headscarves.

The ban was ordered at the Pilar College in the mixed Muslim-Christian port city of Zamboanga. 

Head of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Mehol Sadain, along with local politician, have asked the college to reconsider its decision.

In an open letter to Pilar College Sadain wrote: “I am writing, not to argue, but to enlighten; and not to object, but to appeal for your kind reconsideration and compromise, in behalf of the hijab-wearing Muslimah enrolled in Pilar College.” 

Sadain added that wearing hijab was a “sign of modesty and obedience to God” and posed no threat to the educational institution’s teachings. 

"Pilar College should realize that while educational institutions can formulate their own policies, the same should not run counter to existing laws and state policies,” the NCMF head said. 

The college, run by the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary has defended its actions, saying that the core of its curriculum is based on Christianity. 

The complaint has reached the local city council, which asked the school to provide answers.

The school is believed to be the first in the mainly Catholic but largely tolerant Philippines to enforce an outright ban on wearing the hijab. 

More than 80 percent of the Philippines’ nearly 100 million population are Catholic, while Muslims form a large minority in the south of the country.

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Malaysians protest persecution of MuslimsAugust 4, 2012
Thousands of people in Malaysia have taken to the streets in protest at the ongoing violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The protestors gathered in front of the Myanmar Embassy to voice their outrage at the persecution and massacre of Muslims in the Southeast Asian country. They demanded a meeting with the officials of the Myanmar Embassy. Their request, however, was declined by the Myanmar’s officials. The demonstrators also called for an immediate end to the violence against Rohingyas. 
Reports say some 650 Rohingyas have been killed in the Rakhine state in the west of the country in recent months. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.
The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education, and public services from them. The world body has also described the Muslim community as the Palestine of Asia and one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. 
Earlier this week, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Myanmar government for the killing of minority Rohingya Muslims during a recent wave of sectarian violence in the country.
“Burmese (Myanmarese) security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists during deadly sectarian violence in western Burma in June 2012,” the rights organization said in a report on Wednesday. HRW also called on Myanmar to “take urgent measures to end abuses by their forces, ensure humanitarian access, and permit independent international monitors to visit affected areas and investigate abuses.” The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who, it claims, are not natives, and classifies them as illegal migrants though the Rohingy as are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the eighth century.
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Malaysians protest persecution of Muslims
August 4, 2012

Thousands of people in Malaysia have taken to the streets in protest at the ongoing violence against the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

The protestors gathered in front of the Myanmar Embassy to voice their outrage at the persecution and massacre of Muslims in the Southeast Asian country. 

They demanded a meeting with the officials of the Myanmar Embassy. Their request, however, was declined by the Myanmar’s officials. 

The demonstrators also called for an immediate end to the violence against Rohingyas. 

Reports say some 650 Rohingyas have been killed in the Rakhine state in the west of the country in recent months. This is while 1,200 others are missing and 80,000 more have been displaced.


The UN says decades of discrimination have left the Rohingyas stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education, and public services from them. 

The world body has also described the Muslim community as the Palestine of Asia and one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. 

Earlier this week, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the Myanmar government for the killing of minority Rohingya Muslims during a recent wave of sectarian violence in the country.


“Burmese (Myanmarese) security forces committed killings, rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims after failing to protect both them and Arakan Buddhists during deadly sectarian violence in western Burma in June 2012,” the rights organization said in a report on Wednesday. 

HRW also called on Myanmar to “take urgent measures to end abuses by their forces, ensure humanitarian access, and permit independent international monitors to visit affected areas and investigate abuses.” 

The Buddhist-majority government of Myanmar refuses to recognize Rohingyas, who, it claims, are not natives, and classifies them as illegal migrants though the Rohingy as are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the eighth century.

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