Documentary producer Ami Horowitz interviews members of the Somali community in Minneapolis and finds support for Islamic law (Sharia) over American law and restrictions on freedom of speech.
COMMENT: The Somalis constitute a sizable ethnic group in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Some estimates are that 1 out of every 3 people with Somali ancestry in the U.S. live in Minnesota – a 2010 survey estimated the Somali community to be at 85,700 in the United States. The largest growth influx occurred as a result of refugee program efforts in response to the Somali civil war escalation in the 1990s.
The Minneapolis area has been experiencing a number of incidents involving ISIS recruitment. A February 2015 NPR article notes:
In the discussions at the White House this week, one city has focused minds: Minneapolis-St Paul. It had been ground zero for terrorist recruiters in the past, and is fast becoming the center of ISIS’ recruitment effort in the United States.
See this post from the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog regarding April 2015 terror arrests in the area along with information on the US government contractors involved in the refugee resettlement program.
Either Islam will reform, or it will be in constant conflict with the West until one side or the other gives up.
– Jonathan Keiler
In a May 9, 2015 American Thinker blog post, Jonathan Keiler writes that Islam needs to reform and drop taboos that place it at odds with Western culture:
Pamela Geller’s “draw Mohammed” contest in Texas was provocative, but the problem is not with Geller or the contest organizers, it is with Muslims who insist that they were provoked because it violated a Muslim taboo against representational art. Muslims should not have been provoked by a contest that was about free speech. In the West free speech and activities that are offensive but don’t infringe the rights of others, are not only tolerated, but often celebrated. They are part of the fundamental fabric of society.
Muslims are entitled to their taboos; every religion has them. Religious taboos emerge, evolve, change or dissipate over time, and Islam is no exception to this process. Islam began without an accepted taboo requiring women to veil themselves, the practice becoming widespread only after the conquest of Mesopotamia. And over time, and depending on place, that taboo has waxed and waned.
Art has always been a part of religion, and beliefs about art within religions are not static. Western Christian iconography changed dramatically over time as Christianity grew from a small Jewish cult to an imperial faith. Byzantium celebrated icons, broke them, and celebrated again. In Buddhism, as the faith moved along the Silk Roads from India to China, Buddha changed from an aesthetic priest into a chubby party animal.
COMMENT/ANAYLSIS: Keiler further points out that the common trend of taking a politically correct apologist stance with Islam needs to stop:
Western pundits and politicians ought to do what they can to encourage reform, not hinder it by parroting Islamist positions in an attempt to assuage Muslims. This not only leads to moral absurdities — like blaming the victims of the terror attack in Texas instead of the perpetrators and their sympathizers — but it gives Muslims little reason to reform their religion.
We agree. Appeasing Islamists only bolsters their influence within Muslim communities, lessening chances for meaningful reform. As we pointed out in a follow-up to the Garland terror attack, this type of stance is simply a “win” for Islamists in using fear and intimidation to silence those that oppose them.
Related article by Keiler: An Islamic Reformation?, Jan 19, 2015
The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) has a history of being associated with Islamic radicals promoting terror …
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) advises that on May 2, 2015, the Islamic Center of Passaic County (Paterson, New Jersey) will host “Understanding Shari’ah: Sacred Principles for Human Development” in collaboration with the Fiqh Council of North America.
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch notes the following about the council:
The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) is an organization comprised of Islamic scholars associated with the Global Muslim Brotherhood. As FCNA itself acknowledges, the organization grew out of the activities of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and later became affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), itself an outgrowth of MSA. FCNA maintains a relationship with other similar bodies in the Global Muslim Brotherhood including the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) as well as the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Saudi Arabia.Two individuals known to have been ECFR members, Jamal Badawi and Solah Soltan, are also known to have been associated with the FCNA.
Most of scheduled speakers for the May 2nd event have firmly established associations with U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) organizations:
- Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi (ISNA, NAIT)
- Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah (ICNA)
- Dr. Ihsan Bagby (ISNA)
- Br. Azhar Azeez (President of ISNA and former CAIR executive)
- Sh. Mohammad Qatanani (HAMAS)
- Dr. Zainab Alwani (IIIT and daughter of MB leader Taha Al-Alwani)
- Sh. Yasir Fahmy
- Prof. Ebrahim Moosa
ISNA – Islamic Society of North America
ICNA – Islamic Circle of North America
NAIT – North American Islamic Trust
IIIT – International Institute of Islamic Thought
CAIR – Council on American Islamic Relations
The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) has a history of being associated with Islamic radicals promoting terror. A 2013 Clarion Project reports:
The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) was founded by Mohammad El-Mezain, who was convicted in 2008 for fundraising for Hamas through the Holy Land Foundation. It is led today by Imam Mohammad Qatanani, whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security.
Muhammad al-Hanooti was an imam at ICPC from 1990 to 1995. He was president of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a pro-Hamas organization and Muslim Brotherhood front organization, from 1984 to 1986.
… [FULL ARTICLE]
In January 2014, the ICPC hosted Syrian Sheik Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi as part of an 11-city tour across America and co-sponsored by the Syrian American Council (SAC). The Sheik al-Nabulsi supports suicide bombings and has labeled all Jews as combatants.
In 2014 we reported on the lobbying efforts of SAC on Capitol Hill and its ties to the MB.
COMMENT: We wonder if the SAC had enough clout with the State Department to waive visa restrictions that deny individuals promoting hate and violence from entering the U.S..
“Public officials, and that includes public school officials, violate the free speech clause of the First Amendment whenever they censor speech merely because it offends someone… Unfortunately, we are seeing this trend grow as Muslim activists play the victim card.”
– William J. Becker, Jr., Freedom X’s president and general counsel (8/12/2014 Examiner.com)
At issue was an April 24, 2014 after-hours town hall meeting at a local area high school planned by the Knoxville chapter of ACT! for America . The event was to feature Dr. Bill French (aka Dr. Bill Warner), an expert on Islam, and Matt Bonner of Crescent Project, a Christian ministry reaching out to Muslims with the Gospel.
In late 2013, the Knoxville chapter of ACT! for America had requested and received approval to use Farragut High School for the planned event. In March 2014 a press release was sent to the local newspaper promoting the event.
Around April 8, 2014, the County School offices received an email from AbdelRahman Murphy, the University of Tennessee (UTK) Muslim Chaplain and director of “Roots” a Muslim outreach program. Murphy’s email characterized ACT! Knoxville as an organization with a history of engaging in hate speech
Around that same time as Murphy’s email, CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper sent a letter to Farragut High School Principal Michael Reynolds expressing concerns about the event calling ACT! for America a hate group and characterizing French as a bigot. The letter closed with:
We support the First Amendment right to free speech — even the kind of hate speech used by these speakers — but believe, because of the need for a safe and inclusive learning environment, that a school is not the proper setting such an event.
I therefore respectfully request that you review district policies to determine whether you high school is an appropriate venue for a potentially hate-filled program.
On April 11, 2014, the School system sent a letter to the Knoxville chapter of ACT! for America, rescinding the agreement for the April 24th event:
The administration at Farragut High School has express ed concerns to me about the disruption your event scheduled for April 24th is causing to the educational environment at the school.
The primary purpose of our school facilities is to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable learning environment for our students. When other uses of the facility begin to impinge on or interfere with the administrations ability to provide a suitable educational atmosphere, it is necessary for us to reconsider that use.
A local news station reported on the cancellation indicating the decision to rescind approval was because “some” said the event discriminated against Muslims.
On August 4, 2014 , a lawsuit was filed by the nonprofit law firm Freedom X on behalf of John Peach, president of the Knoxville chapter of ACT! for America, and Bill French against the school system in U.S. District Court, for violating their First Amendment right of free speech and their Fourteenth Amendment rights of equal protection and due process.
On October 1st, an out of court settlement was reached. According to wbir.com:
The sides officially reached an agreement Wednesday night. Under the terms, the county will pay out roughly $17,500 in attorney fees, administrative costs and monetary damages tied to advertising for the event.
In addition, the school board on Wednesday – under the terms of the settlement – amended its policy regarding the community’s use of school facilities.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: CAIR frequently attempts to silence critics of Islam through intimidation or legal proceedings. In this case they managed to coerce the school system to do their bidding. CAIR’s input to the school system was most likely arranged by AbdelRahman Murphy, who served as an intern with the Communications Department at CAIR-Chicago in 2006. Murphy worked under the guidance of then communications director, Ahmed Rehab – the current executive director for CAIR-Chicago.
In addition to his work with “Roots” and as the Muslim chaplain at UTK, Murphy is the primary advisor to UTK’s Muslim Student Association and youth director of the Muslim Community of Knoxville (MCK). He makes appearances on the Muslim “talk circuit” and maintains a close relationship with Imam Suhaib Webb, of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC).
Germany criminalises all support for ISIL
As a followup to our coverage of the Sharia Police story out of Germany, it is now reported that Berlin has just instituted measures banning all support for ISIS/IS (the Islamic State) on German soil.
According to a report by euronews.com:
The measures prohibit all fund raising and campaigning, including any online support or public use of their symbols.
The Netherlands is the only other European nation to have introduced similar legislation.
Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere outlined why such steps were necessary:
“The terrorist organisation Islamic State is a threat, also for Germany’s public safety. We must prevent radicalised Islamists from carrying jihad to our cities.”
The article makes mention that the Sharia Police incident caused “alarm bells” and Berlin is concerned about radicalized German citizens returning from Syria and Iraq. The full article can be viewed HERE.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: As we pointed out in our followup to the Sharia Police story, Germany will not tolerate the level of activity seen in other European nations and the U.K. The memory of World War II and the events that led up to it are permanent reminders of the tragic results of allowing any type of radical or extremist movements to go unchecked. The Salafist threat, while representing a small fraction of the country’s Muslim population has increased over the last few years. As noted in a report we highlighted last year, “… authorities are concerned that most of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are especially susceptible to committing suicide attacks in the name of Islam.”
The EU is about to see an increase in Muslim immigration as result of the turmoil in the Middle East and it will bring with it, increased support for Islamist ideology. Most will likely settle in Sweden or Norway – countries that offer more liberal asylum laws and welfare programs.
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil“
– Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
Last week we reported on a story from Wuppertal, Germany about a group of Muslims photographed with “Sharia Police” vests. According to several news accounts, a Salafist group was patrolling the streets to recruit new members and lecture people they determined were violating Sharia law. The story was featured on a number websites and blogs, some sites even implying that the photograph was proof of an established Islamic “No Go” zone in Wuppertal. We noted that the reported actions were considered illegal and criminal charges were being considered against the group.
This week the following story was published by the Deutsche Welle (DW) media group:
Germany won’t tolerate ‘Sharia police’
The German government has strongly criticized nightly patrols in the city of Wuppertal by men calling themselves “Sharia police.” The 33-year-old behind the patrols claimed that their goal was only to raise attention.
Conservative members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition put forward a united front at the weekend against recent developments in the city of Wuppertal. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said civilians wearing uniforms bearing the logo “Shariah police” could not simply start patrolling German streets.
The groups reportedly hovered around sites like discotheques and gambling houses, telling passers-by to refrain from gambling and alcohol. Wuppertal’s police have begun pressing charges.
“Sharia law is not tolerated on German soil,” de Maiziere told mass-circulation daily Bild on Saturday. “Nobody can take it upon themselves to abuse the good name of the German police.”
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, meanwhile, told Bild that “the state alone” was responsible for the administration of justice in Germany. It was obvious, Maas said, that any illegal parallel system of law enforcement would not be tolerated. Christian Democrat party whip Volker Kauder was similarly emphatic in an interview to be published in this week’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
“Under absolutely no circumstances can we tolerate self-styled ‘Sharia police officers’ patrolling our streets and dictating what people should or should not do,” Kauder said.
The DW story noted that the person behind the Sharia patrols is Sven Lau, a 33 year old former firefighter. Lau, a Muslim convert, is a leading member of Germany’s Salafist movement and known to German security services. From DW:
Lau said that a “Sharia police” never existed, and that a group of men had simply worn the mock uniforms for a few hours. “We knew that this would raise attention,” Lau said, claiming that his goal was to spark a debate about Sharia law in Germany.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: European nations and the U.K. certainly have a growing threat being posed by Islamists pushing a Sharia based agenda that conflicts with established secular governments. It would be a mistake, however, to equate incidents in Germany as being comparable to reported “no go” zones found in France and Scandinavia. As we pointed out in our previous report, the German government regularly investigates/prosecutes Salafist activities as they would any group viewed as a threat to the German constitution. Additionally, a well placed source in Germany informed us it was inconceivable that authorities would ever tolerate a group wearing clothing/uniforms that identified them as police – it’s a clear violation of German law.
We have some doubts that media attention was the original goal behind the actions of Lau and his group, but if it was, the end results may have not been what was expected. Attempts have been made to remove any copies of the You Tube video showing the “Sharia Police” in action citing copyright violations. The original video was removed from the groups You Tube site. New videos have been posted by Lau, attempting to explain the incident away and stating there is no “Sharia Police.” These resemble attempts at damage control for fear of prosecution instead of encouraging debate.
Some additional information on Sven Lau has been reported on www.globaljihad.net
Brother Rashid is a former Muslim from Morocco who converted to Christianity and now hosts an Arabic-language call-in program on television.
COMMENT: A sobering message. Watch the video and make your own conclusions.
German police have initiated several criminal investigations into the group and have increased the police presence in the downtown area.
A photo has been circulating social media showing individuals wearing “Shariah Police” vests.
Wuppertal – They walk at night through the center of Wuppertal (NRW), wearing orange vests with the word “Shariah Police”.
The self-proclaimed Sharia police act as faith–police.
The suspected Islamists speak to youths on the street, they invite them to sermons, they want to recruit to Salafism. And they want to impose their rules of conduct:
► “No Alcohol”
► “No Gambling“
► “No music or concerts“
► ‘No porn or prostitution’
► “No drugs or smoking“
The article reports that German police have initiated several criminal investigations into the group and have increased the police presence in the downtown area.
Below is a video taken of the “Shariah Police” in action – minus the vests or any visible German police presence:
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: Other news reports indicate that the Wuppertal prosecutor was planning on charging up to eleven individuals in violation of the Breach of Assembly Act . Unlike some other European countries, Germany regularly investigates/prosecutes Salafist activities that are viewed as a threat to the German constitution. Several of the 9/11 attackers were identified as worshiping at a Hamburg, Germany mosque. Despite the efforts, it is a growing problem that is not likely to disappear – especially with some German politicians leaning towards appeasement.
The “bacon story” will probably not be the last report of a cultural clash in this area of New England.
We indicated in our original report that a quick search did not disclose a mosque/masjid or Islamic center in the town of Winooski. A 2010 census indicated the city population was 7,267. Several days later, Peter Wilson wrote in the American Thinker:
Unfortunately, Winooski is home to a number of Muslims whose religion teaches them that pigs are filthy animals. Like Jules in “Pulp Fiction,” they do not dig on swine.
Winooski’s Muslim population is mainly Somali Bantus, originally black Africans from southeast Africa, brought north by Arab slave traders (but that’s another story). Many Bantus fled to Kenya during the Black Hawk Down period of anarchy in the early 1990s, and in 1999, the United States admitted 12,000 as refugees.
According to the Burlington Free Press, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program resettled the majority of Somali refugees in Winooski, which has “a large number of relatively inexpensive rental units near jobs and public transit.” In 2009, “About a third of the students in the Winooski public-school system [were] English language learners… up from about 20 percent of the student population four years ago.” Note that ten years after their arrival, the refugees’ children remain “English language learners.”
A more detailed search on our end disclosed the following:
Somali Bantu Community Association of Vermont, Inc.
325 Main Street, Suite 8
Winooski, VT 05404
Islamic Society of Vermont
Suite 1, 182 Hegeman Ave
Colchester, VT 05446
Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
462 Hegeman Ave, Suite 101
Colchester, VT 05446
While Wilson’s article focuses on Somali refugees, the area’s Muslim population is more diverse. The town of Colchester is about 5 miles north of Winooski, VT and is the location of the Islamic Society of Vermont and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. According to a 2014 news report, there are about 3,200 Muslims living in Vermont, many being refugees from Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. Most arrived under U.S. resettlement programs and reside in Chittenden County, VT. This county includes the cities of Colchester, Winooski, as well as Burlington – the state’s largest city.
Vermont media coverage of the state’s growing Muslim population tends to have a positive spin, usually focusing on cultural diversity. There have been a few exceptions:
• Bosnian refugee Edin Sakoc, 54, of Burlington (a naturalized U.S. citizen) is currently facing charges of lying to immigration authorities about his involvement in war crimes as well as bribery. The Burlington Free Press reported:
A Bosnian war crimes suspect living in Burlington has been accused of trying to bribe people in his homeland who witnessed what he allegedly did, federal prosecutors in Vermont say in a new court filing.
“The government has been informed by some of its Bosnian witnesses that defendant attempted to bribe witnesses through intermediaries for testimony favorable to the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowles and Matthew Singer, a senior federal trial attorney in Washington D.C. claim in a motion filed with U.S. District Court in Vermont last week.
Edin Sakoc, 54, is facing charges he lied to immigration officials by denying, when he entered the United States in 2001 as a refugee, that he committed any crimes while in Bosnia.
He also allegedly repeated the lie in 2007 when he applied to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. If found guilty, he could be deported. Sakoc has pleaded not to the charges.
According to court filings, Sakoc raped a Bosnian Serb woman in July 1992, aided in the murders of two elderly men who were under her care and set fire to their family home.
• In 2010 Ali Abdi, a Somali refugee residing in Burlington, was convicted of sexual assault on a 9-year-old girl. Of note is that part of his defense was based on having a “different cultural background”. According to www.wcax.com:
Ali Abdi was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years to life in prison for sexual assault on a 9-year-old girl, despite pleas to the judge from two of his children.
Abdi had taken off during his trial, and was captured out of state. The jury was not told he ran away. He was convicted.
Abdi’s lawyer argued that the case has to be viewed as different from others, because Abdi comes from a different cultural background– he is a Somali Bantu. His lawyer, Erik Smart, told the judge that Abdi fled Somalia and spent 13 years in a refugee camp before arriving in Burlington. Smart says the Somali Bantu community has forgiven Abdi.
“I would venture to say this community views this crime differently than our own community would,” Smart told the court.
Following an appeal, in 2012 a new trial was ordered for Adbi because the Vermont Supreme Court opined that, “a juror might have been influenced by information about Somali culture he found on the Internet.”
• A 2012 article in Seven Days Vermont reported that despite being listed as one of the “safest cities in America”, crime is increasing in the city of Burlington, VT. One of the instances cited:
In one case, a 24-year-old Somali immigrant was robbed and stabbed by his alleged accomplices over their share of the loot from a series of thefts. On August 19, Ahmed Hirmoge stumbled into the Champlain Farms at South Winooski Avenue and Main Street at 4:20 a.m., bloodied from stab wounds. He told the clerk someone had “jumped” him behind the convenience store and took his cellphone, bicycle, leather jacket and $130 in cash.
According to police, Hirmoge said he knew the guys who robbed him: They were all breaking into cars the weekend before and scattered when a Burlington police cruiser rolled by. Hirmoge told police he went to the gas station to “get a drink” and ran into his cohorts there, who collected their share of the “proceeds” by force.
Within hours, police had arrested two teenagers for assault and robbery: Connor Fitzgerald, a 17-year-old high school senior from South Burlington with a tattoo on his neck that reads “wild boy”; and Tam Mai, a 16-year-old with a criminal record that began when he was just 10.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: As we previously reported, since 2008, refugees from predominately Muslim countries have accounted for over 50 percent of refugee admissions to the U.S. each year. Emergency allocation increases are being requested based on the current situation in Syria and Iraq. It would be a safe assumption that Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program will be handling a share of the future influx of refugees, placing them in the Chittenden County, VT area. The “bacon story” will probably not be the last report of a cultural clash in this area of New England.
We recently reported on a story about Sneakers Bistro and Cafe, a Vermont restaurant that took down an ad for bacon after a Muslim woman complained that it it offended her. The sign read, “Yield for Sneakers Bacon”.
Now several days later, the restaurant is feeling quite a backlash. From USA Today:
A Winooski restaurant’s decision to take down a bacon advertisement has become the center of an online backlash.
“It’s blown up beyond all imagination,” City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau said in an interview Monday.
Last week, Sneakers Bistro and Cafe removed a sign reading “Yield for Sneakers Bacon” from a garden at the Winooski Rotary after a woman who described herself as “a vegan and a member of a Muslim household” called the sign offensive in a post on Front Porch Forum.
“Given the large number of Muslim families in Winooski, as well as many others who do not eat pork for a variety of reasons, it seems unnecessary for this insensitive business sign to be at the city’s main crosswalk,” she wrote. The woman also complained that the sign “clutters an already dangerous crosswalk.”
The volume of negative comments over the decision to remove the sign was apparently significant. The restaurant’s phone voicemail was full early Monday afternoon and the owner found it necessary to remove their Facebook page. In response, an individual apparently not affiliated with Sneakers created a page named, Tell Sneakers Bistro How You Really Feel.
The Burlington Free Press reported:
The restaurant’s reviews on Google and Yelp have also taken a hit, with more than 50 recent one-star reviews referencing the controversy. Some of the Yelp users hail from as far away as California and Hawaii.
In regards to the original complaint about the bacon ad, Decarreau made the statement:
As I read her post, her request came as a vegan, not as a Muslim
** 8/27/2014- FOLLOWUP II