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Latest Islamist Watch Articles

Does CAIR Represent Boston's Muslim Community?  PJ Media  June 14, 2015
About Those 14 "Muslim-American Leaders" Who Met with Obama  The Blaze  February 10, 2015
When Moderate Muslims Speak, They're Ignored  Toronto Sun  February 3, 2015

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Nonviolent Islamism in the News

Muslim leader: 'ISIS-supporting Brits may be disenfranchised by Tory cuts'  Daily Mirror  July 7, 2015
7/7 bombings: British Muslims use 'breaking the fast' at Ramadan to remember victims  Independent  July 7, 2015
How do London's young Muslims view the 7/7 attacks?  BBC News  July 7, 2015
UK comes to standstill to mark 10 years since 7/7 attacks  Guardian  July 7, 2015
'You become a Muslim if you eat halal meat'  The Local  July 7, 2015

More Islamism in the News...


Look Who's Back! The Return of CAIR Massachusetts

by Johanna Markind  •  Tue, 7 Jul 2015, 11:51 AM

Last week, the Boston Globe ran a story about the emergence of a younger generation of leadership within the local Muslim community. "The younger leaders grew up in America, unlike many of their predecessors, and appear more willing to raise concerns about counterterrorism efforts targeting their community amid the rise of Islamic extremism and its global online recruitment efforts." A cynic might say they are more focused on demanding their rights than in cooperating against radical Islam.

Underscoring that conviction, younger Muslims established two new civil rights organizations in Boston in the last year alone: the Muslim Justice League and a revived Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national advocacy group.

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The Supreme Court and Marriage Equality: Is Polygamy Next?

by Johanna Markind  •  Mon, 6 Jul 2015, 8:57 PM

There has been some discussion (e.g., here and here) about whether the Supreme Court's June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing gay marriage portends the future legalization of polygamy in the United States.

The majority opinion, by Justice Anthony Kennedy, does not mention polygamy and its language appears to favor monogamy. It cites four principles: the right to marry as supporting "a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals," personal choice in marriage as an aspect of liberty, marriage as a safeguard for children and families, and marriage as a keystone of our social order. It concludes that both Due Process and Equal Protection require extending the same marriage dignity to homosexual as to heterosexual couples.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts frets that the majority's rationale could apply equally well to polygamous unions. He writes:

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When Did Carmen Ortiz Become an Islamic Religious Authority?

by Johanna Markind  •  Thu, 25 Jun 2015, 9:25 AM

Carmen M. Ortiz, US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts

After Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced yesterday, Massachusetts US Attorney Carmen Ortiz gave a press conference at which she hastened to assure us that his crime was "A crime of terrorism, a crime not religiously-motivated... And he couched his comments in line with Allah and Allah's views, which gives it a religious tone and there was nothing – as you heard Judge O'Toole say in the courtroom – there was nothing about this crime that was Islam-associated." Apparently the press wasn't buying it, because in response to an inaudible reporter's question, Ortiz doubled down: "That is a skewed view of the religion of Islam. That is not what Islam is all about... It's a radical ideology which really isn't at the heart of what is truly a peaceful and loving religion."

This is not a new theme for Ortiz, who offered similar views on May 15 following the jury's decision to impose the death penalty. "The defendant claimed to be acting on behalf of all Muslims. This was not a religious crime," she insisted, "and it certainly does not reflect true Muslim beliefs."

We have received similar assurances from others in the current administration, including President Obama, and from President Bush before him. It appears to reflect a desire not to smear all Muslims with the deeds of a few, and that impulse is commendable.

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How Much Popular Support Does CAIR Have Among American Muslims?

by Johanna Markind  •  Wed, 17 Jun 2015, 5:06 PM

In an article published by PJ Media and republished today by Islamist Watch, Johanna Markind explores how CAIR's efforts to "Ferguson"-ize the Usaama Rahim shooting only begged the question of where its local representatives were.  Although CAIR feigned otherwise, there is no local CAIR chapter in Massachusetts, and possibly never was.  In fact, CAIR seems to have lost four or five other chapters since 2007.  It has also lost membership support since 9/11.  The national organization is almost entirely dependent on large donations from unknown sources.


NY Times on Protecting the "Image" of Islam

by Johanna Markind  •  Tue, 16 Jun 2015, 11:39 AM

Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center

Today's New York Times print edition carries an article entitled, "Muslims Work to Shed Stigma Tied to Terror." The article can't quite decide what story it's trying to tell: Muslims as victims, external criticism of the community (which it tries to minimize), or Muslim self-criticism. The lack of focus and efforts to gloss over signs of extremism within the Boston Muslim community, even among those calling themselves moderate, result in an article more propaganda than journalism.

It begins with the executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) complaining that after terrorist incidents, the mosque is victimized by phone calls asking what connection it has to the perpetrator. This is a classic tactic of trying to change the subject from Muslims as perpetrators to Muslims as victims in the immediate aftermath of Islamist violence that has appeared very frequently in the media.

It mentions that Boston is one of three locations selected by the Obama Administration for a pilot program in countering Islamist radicalization and recruitment, given the anodyne name "Countering Violent Extremism." Why those three, and in particular, why is Boston one of them? The article, about the Boston Muslim community, does not ask the question directly.

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"Why Are There So Few Forced Marriage Prosecutions?" Asks BBC News

by Johanna Markind  •  Wed, 10 Jun 2015, 5:48 PM

In three separate items posted online today, the BBC reported about the first prison sentence handed down in the UK under new legislation against forced marriage. In all, the court imposed a 16-year sentence for rape, bigamy, and voyeurism, as well as forced marriage.

Four times in the three articles, BBC refers to culture (cultural traditions, beliefs, and practices) as the problem. For example: "Many say the problem lies in deep-rooted cultural traditions and that young people are reluctant to come forward to the authorities."

What culture is that? The articles do not say, but coyly supply suggestive details. One says: "The code of family honour and shame can run very deep in families with strong roots on the Indian Subcontinent." Another article elaborates: "The FMU [Forced Marriages Unit] was involved in cases covering 88 countries, with most from the Asian subcontinent [emphasis in original] - 38% from Pakistan, 8% from India and 7% from Bangladesh." The sentenced man entered into his forced, second marriage at a mosque. His victim was a "devout Muslim." The story quotes a woman from the Muslim Women's Network UK.

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NYT: The Positive Side of Ritual Modesty, Part II

by Johanna Markind  •  Mon, 8 Jun 2015, 3:31 PM

The New York Times continues to emphasize the upside of stringent dress codes for Muslim women

The New York Times continues its efforts to inculcate Americans with the value of wearing a hijab or scarf and expand their sympathy for Islamic modesty requirements. Today's print edition includes a feature story about a lawyer who started covering when she was in college, against her parents' wishes. The story sympathetically portrays the young lawyer's concerns about potential discrimination in hiring decisions and work assignments, and how she navigated them. It shares her piety, the "comfort and courage" she finds in her faith, and "elat[ion]" about the Supreme Court's recent decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch.

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Free Exercise of Religion, American Style

by Johanna Markind  •  Mon, 1 Jun 2015, 3:12 PM

Today's US Supreme Court decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch illustrates that the American conception of the role of religion differs markedly from that of France and Western Europe. The French Revolution viewed religion as the enemy and strove to create a secular society that dis-established religion by actively pushing it out of the public sphere. The burqa-ban and its progeny (e.g., the current debate over banning the Muslim headscarf at nurseries) are the latest manifestation of this approach, which is gathering steam in Europe – witness the Dutch debate over a partial veil ban.

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NYT: The Positive Side of Ritual Modesty

by Johanna Markind  •  Wed, 27 May 2015, 11:18 PM

The New York Times appears to be on a campaign to show wearing the hijab/veiling in a positive light, at a time when France is extending its ban on religious clothing and the Netherlands has proposed its own burqa-ban. Yesterday, it posted an article complaining about France's "'preoccupation' with Muslim women's attire." It offered anecdotes and claims from mostly unnamed sources arguing that France's ban on religious symbols in public places is counter-productive of integration and disabling and alienating to Muslim women.

Today, it posted a collection of feedback from Muslim women expressing their views about covering. These two dozen, culled from over a thousand responses, mostly favored covering or veiling, while emphasizing that it was a matter of personal choice. The Times reports, "For almost all of these women, it was a matter of personal choice." Almost. The responses are eloquent in expressing the positive aspects, but counter-arguments are largely missing.

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IW News Brief: French Food Fight, CAIRless Lawmaker

by David J. Rusin  •  Wed, 13 May 2015, 11:04 AM

Some French schools institute pork-or-nothing policies

As British schools increasingly ban pork, the opposite approach is gaining traction in France. Mayor Gilles Platret of Chalon-sur-Saône, a town in Burgundy, recently told parents that students who avoid pork for religious reasons will no longer be offered an alternative meat dish starting in September. This signals a "return to the principles of secularism," said Platret, a member of Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Union for a Popular Movement. Sarkozy, the former French president, defended the much-criticized stance, asserting that "if you want your children to observe dietary habits based on religion, then you should choose private religious education." Officials in Arveyres and Sargé-lès-Le Mans previously announced similar changes in their cafeterias, and Marine Le Pen pledged that substitute meals would be pulled from schools in towns won by her nationalist party in last year's local elections.

Putting aside the issue of whether such rules are productive or merely vindictive, the hard feelings underscore how dependence on government services exacerbates cultural strife. The more people expect from government, the more they expect it to conform to their own values. Arguments about too much or too little accommodation are the inevitable outcome. If you want something done right, do it yourself — advice that applies equally well to those who consume pork and those who reject it. What is the French term for "brown-bag lunch"?

Left: If pork is on the menu, French mayors like Gilles Platret want students to eat it. Right: Politician Larry Haler, an example of how not to deal with CAIR.

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ISLAMIST WATCH, a project of the Middle East Forum, combats the ideas and institutions of lawful Islamism in the United States and throughout the West. Arguing that "radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution," we seek to expose the Islamist organizations that currently dominate the debate, while identifying and promoting the work of moderate Muslims. Islamist Watch specifically does not deal with counterterrorism but works to establish that lawful Islamism is by and of itself a threat.

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