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Pearl, Okinawa Rape… Murder & Rape of Teen Iraqi Girl, Abeer al-Janabi

Abu Reem

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In memory of our sister, Abeer al-Janabi…

1996: Three US Servicemen were convicted of raping a 12-year Japanese girl. On the trial’s opening day, Gill (one of the servicemen) said that he raped the girl, while Ledet and Harp (the other two servicemen) said they had been bullied by Gill into abducting the girl and that they did not participate in the rape itself. While passing sentence, Chief Judge Shinei Nagamine said Ledet received a lighter sentence because he did not actually have intercourse with the girl. “He tried to have sexual intercourse but was unable to because he realized she was so young,” Nagamine said.

The Punishment: 7 years imprisonment for each in Japanese jails. According to the article, the “sentence was lighter than expected”.

Fast-forward to 2002: Daniel Pearl, a journalist for WSJ was kidnapped and brutally murdered by extremists in Karachi, Pakistan. Videos of the beheading flashed around the world and Islamophobes ranted and raved about how this proved Islam promoted terrorism. Following Pearl’s tragic death, the Daniel Pearl Foundation was created in 2002, three books were published, various articles were written in all the major newspapers, HBO produced a movie “The Journalist and the Jihadi“, and about 2 months ago, a movie “A Mighty Heart” was released. And I add that Pearl deserved no less.

The Punishment: Four men were charged in Pearl’s death. Three were given life imprisonment and one was given the death sentence.

Fast-forward to 2006: In March, four of our nation’s soldiers gang-raped and murdered a 14-year girl named Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, after murdering her mother Fakhriyah Taha Muhsin, 34; her father Qasim Hamza Raheem, 45; and her sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza, aged 5. According to the military, PFC Steve Green, SGT Paul E. Cortez, SPC James P. Barker, PFC Jesse V. Spielman and PFC Bryan L. Howard planned the girl’s rape. PFC Howard was told to monitor a radio as the others entered the victims’ house nearby. The affidavit states that Green ordered the father, mother and younger daughter into a bedroom. Shots were fired, after which Green emerged and reportedly said, “I just killed them, all are dead.” Green and at least one other individual proceeded to sexually assault Abeer Qassim Hamza, after which Green fired two or three shots into her head, killing her.

Abeer’s mother, Fakhariya, was reportedly worried that her daughter had attracted the attention of U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint near their home. She asked her neighbor, Omar Janabi, if Abeer could sleep in his daughter’s room. Janabi agreed, but it proved to be an ineffective deterrent as the attack took place in broad daylight the day after.

Based on reports, after the rape the lower part of Abeer’s body, from her stomach down to her feet, was set on fire. The fire eventually spread to the rest of the room and the smoke alerted neighbors who ran to tell Abu Firas Janabi, Abeer’s uncle, that the farmhouse was on fire and that dead bodies could be seen inside the burning building. Janabi and his wife rushed to the farmhouse and doused some of the flames to get inside. Upon witnessing the scene inside, Janabi went to a checkpoint guarded by Iraqi soldiers to report the crime.

I had written a little piece about this on my old blog (graphic content, not suitable for children) and there is more here.

The Punishment:

  • In February, Sergeant Paul Cortez was sentenced to 90 years in prison.
  • Last November, Specialist James Barker was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
  • A few days ago, Private Jesse Spielman was sentenced to 110 years in prison. (See here and here)
  • Also, Private Bryan Howard, who served as a lookout, was sentenced to 27 months in jail for acting as an accessory and helping to obstruct justice.
  • The last soldier is yet to be sentenced but don’t hold your breath for anything much worse.

While the papers and news tickers are screaming “Soldier sentenced to 100 years in prison”, the truth in fact is that all three could be free on parole in only 10 years!

Consider for a minute the circumstances of this brutal rape and murder. Think about the savagery and animal-like behavior of the perpetrators.

Compare it to to the “light” sentence for the rape of the 12-year old Japanese girl, who is still ALIVE. Or compare it to the beheading of Pearl and the punishments meted out by the “terrorist safe-haven”, “uncouth” nation of Pakistan. Or compare it with Ali Timimi was handed a life sentence WITHOUT the possibility of parole. Or compare it with the witch-hunt of Dr. Sami al-Arian. Or compare it with our brother Sabri BenKahla was tried twice and finally ‘found’ guilty, receiving 10 years without parole. Note what the article on Sabri states, “Under normal sentencing guidelines, Sabri Benkahla would have received at most a three-year term for his convictions this year on charges of lying to a grand jury, obstruction of justice and making a false statement.But for the first time, prosecutors were able to obtain a stiffer sentence by arguing that Benkahla’s lies effectively promoted terrorism by obstructing a wide-ranging terror investigation.”

Compare it with all it above, and then tell me, doesn’t the light punishments for the four soldiers deserve human outrage? Not just Muslims, but especially Muslims. How can it be that a rape of a 12-year old Japanese girl justified what was called a ‘light’ sentence of 7 years in Japanese prisons, how can it be that Sabri receives 10 years for just LYING, while the gang-rape, murder of this 14-year old Iraqi girl and the murder of her father, her mother, and her 5-year old sister wasn’t enough to justify a life-sentence at the least, let alone the death penalty? Each of these soldiers gets JUST TEN YEARS? How will we justify this light treatment of the heinous crime of our “civilized” soldiers to the rest of the world, especially to the Iraqis? What a farce! What Injustice!

Imagine if 5 Muslim men, even 5 non-Muslim men (though the “Muslim” effect would have been worse) had conspired and carried out what they did in Iraq right here in America? Do you think we would be reading this about the murderer’s relative: “Spielman’s grandmother, Nancy Hess, collapsed outside the courtroom after the verdict was read; Fischbach ran to her side and called 911. Soldiers in Spielman’s unit fanned the woman with napkins.” What would the headlines be blasting? Would there be any punishment less than the death penalty meted out (and might I add justifiably)?

Where are the news reports about the relatives of Abeer, the VICTIM? Why is it that I had to search really hard and come up with the following from a UK newspaper (nothing in US papers that I could find):

The murdered girl’s surviving family said today they were disappointed that Spielman did not receive the death penalty. The crime outraged Iraqis and significantly increased tensions with American forces in Iraq.

“We were expecting the death penalty against those criminals and the place to carry out the sentence is where the incident happened,” Janabiat’s cousin, Abu Ammar, told Reuters. Her uncle, Hadi Abdullah, said the family wished the sentence could be appealed so that the death penalty could be imposed for all those responsible.

And this is only one incident that was “caught”… Read this report on The Nation and consider just this one quote from a soldier, “I just brought terror to someone else under the American flag, and that’s just not what I joined the Army to do”

——————
Conclusion:
Some might say that the media’s collusion with the government’s propaganda, its whitewash of certain events and the sensationalism of other events is as clear as the sun during a cloudless day. Others might insist that it is the government that is severely restricting access to the events in Iraq and other military zones in order to minimize the “public relations” collateral damage. Both arguments have merit.

But what about our Muslim bloggers (with few exceptions such as this)? While we take out time to blast the terrorism in the name of Islam (and rightfully so), while we call out the “lunatics” amongst us, why do we not find it worthwhile to sound off about the injustice committed to one of our sisters and her family? Or even the recent massacre at the Red Mosque? Would we be as quiet if Abeer was our own blood relative? What are we afraid of? Remember, we are not calling out for armed militancy, we are not calling out for terrorism, all we are calling out for is JUSTICE. We are still in the land of “free speech”, aren’t we? Why aren’t we asking for the same standards to be applied to Muslims as they applied to others… not special treatment, merely FAIR treatment.

Inna lillahi wa innah alehi raajioon.

Related Material:

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Muslim

    August 6, 2007 at 10:57 AM

    Wow, thanks for pointing out that the US gov’t is unjust.

  2. Avatar

    Dawud

    August 6, 2007 at 11:09 AM

    As salaam aleikum!

    Blarb, I’m still new to the Muslim blogger community so I want to know—what can we possibly do ?

    I’m cynical on this–so please enlighten me!

  3. Avatar

    ruth nasrullah

    August 6, 2007 at 11:14 AM

    Walaikum asalaam, Dawud.

    On Jinnzaman’s web site – http://jinnzaman.hadithuna.com/abeer-hamza-memorial/ – he has information about memorials that are being scheduled around the world.

  4. Avatar

    Bismillah

    August 6, 2007 at 11:23 AM

    as salamu alaykum wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakatahu,

    inna lilahi wa inna elayhi rajeeon..

    SICK subhanAllah .. how do we act when we hear these things?? this is not only the murder… and MUTILATION…and before that [authobillah] RAPE of a YOUNG MUSLIM GIRL.

    what do we do?? how do we act? where is our outrage chanelled into constructive measures…? and here i guess is my real question: what are those constructive measures we need to take?

    Ustadh, may Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward you. If you ever have time to address these questions I would seriously appreciate it… we hear of these things so sadly more than one time… what do we DO?!

  5. Avatar

    Abu Musáb

    August 6, 2007 at 11:46 AM

    If I didn’t believe in the concept of Aakhirah, I’d go insane reading this.

    To believe that there is true justice in our times is to believe that Santa Claus truly exists.

    May Allah accept Abeer and her family as martyrs.

    May Allah curse and punish the forces of taghoot and gather its leaders together with Fir’awn in hell fire.

    Ameen!

  6. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    August 6, 2007 at 12:21 PM

    Salaam aliakum

    I strongly encourage everyone to read the report in The Nation (linked above). One of the co-authors is Dr. al-Arian’s daughter. It’s long, so make sure you have some time to spare, but I assure you once you start you won’t be able to stop.

    Incidents such as these should galvanize us and motivate us to speak out at the double standards employed, by the corporate media and political elites. Educate your friends and co-workers, express to them how you feel, and why you feel this way. Write letters to your local newspapers. The anti-war movement is gaining strength, and we all need to do our part, even if it seems that what we are doing is trivial. Remember that only a few decades ago, this same country had to pack its bags and basically declare defeat in Vietnam merely because the population rose up in protest and refused to support their government in what they viewed as an unjust and evil war. Many Americans, including us, view this war in a similar way – surely we can try to cause a difference?

    And remember that there are plenty of untold stories as well. Here is yet one more victim, probably classified as ‘collateral damage’ by our forces.
    http://www.hishamstory.4t.com
    (excuse the poor English – its obviously written by Iraqi relatives of the boy).

    All of these incidents are tragic. They move our souls and fill us with varying emotions of despair, anger, and, yes, vengeance. Yet, throughout all this, we need to keep our faith in Allah firm, and realize that He will give the righteous their due and the impious theirs. It is not our right to take the law into our own hands. For those who listened to my talk on the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah that I have given in more than one place recently, it is incidents such as these that are ‘our’ equivalents of Abu Jandal and Abu Baseer. Sometimes, all we can do is verbalize our anger and educate others about the reality of the situation, and then make du’aa to Allah to help those who have been wronged, wherever they might be.

    Wa Allahu al-Musta`an wa alayhi al-tuklaan…

    Yasir

  7. Avatar

    MR

    August 6, 2007 at 12:30 PM

    :( SubhanAllah

  8. Pingback: To My Little Sister « iMuslim

  9. Amad

    Amad

    August 6, 2007 at 3:28 PM

    ASA, Sh YQ, for those who have not heard your lecture… can you summarize in a few lines what Abu Jandal and Abu Baseer refers to?

  10. Avatar

    Abu Abdurrahman

    August 6, 2007 at 4:53 PM

    Even better, why not have a summary and ALSO stick the talk up on MM?

  11. Avatar

    jinnzaman

    August 6, 2007 at 8:35 PM

    assalamu alaikum

    May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) bring tranquility and justice to our sister Abeer and to the rest of the Ummah and bestow upon humanity the light of guidance. Ameen.

    Its still not too late to organize a vigil in your area. If you are interested, contact abeermemorial@yahoo.com or visit the website abeermemorial.blogspot.com to find out where the vigils in your area are happening.

    May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) reward the brothers and sisters at Muslim matters for spreading the word about the vigils. Ameen.

    Let us become one Ummah and move as a single formation and set aside our differences for the cause of the preservation of the rights of the people and the establishment of Islam, inshaAllah.

    masalama

  12. Avatar

    your bro

    August 6, 2007 at 9:10 PM

    # Treaty of Hudaibiyyah (2 parts) – by Yasir Qadhi
    Part 1

    Part 2

  13. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    August 6, 2007 at 11:31 PM

    jazakallahu khayr yourbro for the links, but the lecture he is giving now is modified a bit to incorporate parallels to what is going on now. insha’Allah if we can get a recording we’ll try to post it.

  14. Avatar

    your bro

    August 7, 2007 at 12:13 AM

    how can I enable html on my posts? How were you able to add hyperlink to the text? jzk.

  15. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    August 7, 2007 at 12:38 AM

    html is already enabled, if you know html code just type it into your post and it should post appropriately

  16. Avatar

    khawla hurayrah

    August 7, 2007 at 11:59 AM

    Assalamu’alaikum
    It brought tears reading this post. May Allah have mercy on Abeer and her family that died with her.
    To remind myself and others, remember the hadith that talks about this world being only prison for the believers and paradise for the non believers. I do not envy their sentencing being lighter in this world because….

    Allah is Wise and Just, and on the Day of Judgement, justice will be done to all.

    May Allah make it easy on all believers to be steadfast in this Deen and save us from the fire. Ameen

  17. Avatar

    Faraz

    August 7, 2007 at 2:13 PM

    But what about our Muslim bloggers?
    Here is my piece on the topic, written back in July.

  18. Amad

    Amad

    August 7, 2007 at 2:27 PM

    Jak Faraz… I have added it to the list… if I missed more entries, pls post them here, and I’ll add them. wasalam.

  19. Avatar

    Sister Basmah

    August 8, 2007 at 2:14 AM

    SubhanAllah. May Allah grant Abeer and her family Jannat-ul-Firdows and forgiveness for all of their sins.

  20. Avatar

    Din

    August 8, 2007 at 8:25 AM

    Good article..in general..but 1 question:

    What do you mean when you say ” And I add that Pearl deserved no less.”?

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  24. Avatar

    Din

    August 9, 2007 at 7:47 PM

    ?

  25. Amad

    Amad

    August 9, 2007 at 8:05 PM

    I mean that Pearl deserved no less than what he got in terms of all the tributes, the movie and other stuff in his honor…. That was an important clarification… so it may not be misconstrued in a completely opposite sense.

  26. Avatar

    Din

    August 9, 2007 at 10:59 PM

    oh okay…:-)…

    ( pehaps edit your original text a bit to reflect what you meant as well…I almost misred it!)…

    Jazakallah khair for your response..

  27. Pingback: Remembering my dear sister Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi at Indian Muslims

  28. Avatar

    Te

    September 3, 2007 at 4:06 AM

    Great web site. Very interesting. I am a humanitarian who takes pleasure in the sharing of information and experiences.

    With that all being said, please forgive this one innocent question:

    In regards to the service members involved in the Okinawa rape case, are you saying the punishment was light, or not severe enough? I just want to make sure the right message is being sent. In my humble opinion, ALL rapists mentioned above (this includes accomplices) should at least be castrated.

    Also, I have dealt with US military prisons. It is highly unlikely that service members guilty of heinous war crimes will have 100 year sentences reduced to 10. Especialy those involved with the execution of a family and rape of a child.

    The 7 year confinement for the rape of the 12 year-old Okinawan girl was awarded in Japanese courts. Though U.S. prison systems are lenient, I can assure you that the military court system would have been much harsher. I have personally seen service members get twice that for much less.

    A point of interest:
    I can not find proof that those involved with the Okinawan rape were registered in the states as sex offenders. The animal that planned that attack is now dead. He went back to the states, raped a woman, killed her, then killed himself. There is something terribly wrong if assaults on foreign victims are not considered offenses worth registering.

    As said before, I like sharing information and experiences. Let me know if I’m wrong. I will not hesitate to revisit my research.

    God bless.

  29. Amad

    Amad

    September 3, 2007 at 4:29 PM

    Hello Te.
    thank you for your comments.

    Yes, I believe the punishment was definitely too easy. I don’t understand all the ins and outs of the sentencing issues, but it would seem that with good behavior, the soldiers would be able to get out on parole. So their fate in 10 years seems to be in their control… When I posted this on dailykos, someone mentioned that we could write to the prison warden and petition him/her not to allow the parole or something to that effect. Again, i would need some education on that.

    thanks

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#Current Affairs

Zahra Billoo Responds To The Women’s March Inc. Voting Her Off The New Board

Zahra Billoo

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Women's March Board

Earlier tonight, I was voted off the Women’s March, Inc. national board. This followed an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.

The past 48 hours have been a spiral of bad news and smear efforts. Part of the smear campaign is motivated by opponents of the Women’s March, because the organization has traditionally challenged the status quo of power and white supremacy in our country. However, much of the campaign is driven by people who oppose me and my work challenging the occupation of Palestine, our country’s perpetuation of unjust and endless wars, and law enforcement operations targeting the American Muslim community.

The Women’s March, Inc. is an organization I once held dear. I spoke at the first march, spoke at regional marches every year after, spoke at the convention, participated in national actions including the original Kavanaugh protests, and worked to mobilize Muslim women for their efforts.

During the past few years right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies, have targeted the Women’s March, Inc. For so long, I’ve admired their resilience in speaking truth to power, in working together, and in never cowering. Over and over again, the co-founders of Women’s March, Inc. put their lives on the line, winning power for all women in all of our diversity. The Women’s March, Inc. that voted me off its board tonight is one that no longer demonstrates the strength that inspired millions of women across the country.

To see and experience its new leaders caving to right-wing pressure, and casting aside a woman of color, a Muslim woman, a long-time advocate within the organization, without the willingness to make any efforts to learn and grow, breaks my heart. This isn’t about a lost seat, there will be many seats. The Women’s March, Inc. has drawn a line in the sand, one that will exclude many with my lived experiences and critiques. It has effectively said, we will work on some women’s rights at the expense of others.

To be clear, anti-semitism is indeed a growing and dangerous problem in our country, as is anti-Blackness, anti-immigrant sentiment, Islamophobia, ableism, sexism, and so much more. I condemn any form of bigotry unequivocally, but I also refuse to be silent as allegations of bigotry are weaponized against the most marginalized people, those who find sanctuary and hope in the articulation of truth.

In looking at the tweets in question, I acknowledge that I wrote passionately. While I may have phrased some of my content differently today, I stand by my words. I told the truth as my community and I have lived it, through the FBI’s targeting of my community, as I supported families who have lost loved ones because of US military actions, and as I learned from the horrific experiences of Palestinian life.

In attempting to heal and build in an expedited manner within Women’s March, Inc., I offered to meet with stakeholders to address their concerns and to work with my sisters on the new board to learn, heal, and build together. These efforts were rejected. And in rejecting these efforts, the new Women’s March, Inc. demonstrated that they lack the courage to exhibit allyship in the face of fire.

I came to Women’s March, Inc. to work. My body of work has included leading a chapter of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization for over a decade, growing it now more than six-fold. In my tenure, I have led the team that forced Abercrombie to change its discriminatory employment policies, have been arrested advocating for DACA, partnered with Jewish organizations including Bend the Arc and Jewish Voice for Peace to fight to protect our communities, and was one of the first lawyers to sue the President.

It is not my first time being the target of a smear campaign. The Women’s March, Inc., more than any place, is where I would have expected us to be able to have courageous conversations and dive deep into relationship-building work.

I am happy to have as many conversations as it takes to listen and learn and heal, but I will no longer be able to do that through Women’s March, Inc. This action today demonstrates that this organization’s new leadership is unable to be an ally during challenging times.

My beliefs drive my work, and I am not seeking accolades or positions of power. These past few days have been the greatest test of that. My integrity, my truth, and my strength comes from God and a place of deep conviction. I will continue my work as a civil rights lawyer and a faith-based activist, speaking out against the occupation of Palestine and settler-colonialism everywhere, challenging Islamophobia and all forms of racism and bigotry in the United States, and building with my community and our allies in our quest to be our most authentic and liberated selves.

Onward, God willing.

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski

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As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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5 Quick Things Americans Can Do For Uyghurs Today

Abu Ryan Dardir

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“I may die, but let it be known that my nation will continue their struggle so long the world continues to exist.” Kazakh leader Uthman Batur. He said these words as Chinese authorities executed him for resisting the communist occupation. Currently, China has, one million Uyghurs (Uighurs), Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities held in concentration camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) (East Turkistan) in northwestern China.

Their struggle surpasses the 10 or so years since we have become aware of it. Just like the Rohingya genocide, we waited till the last minute. We are always late and say, “Never Again.” It happens again and again.

In my lifetime, there have been horrendous genocides that could have been prevented to stopped. As a child, I remember Rwanda in the headlines, then a year later Bosnian genocide. Then we hear these demonic stories after the fact. I remember stories from survivors from Bosnia, and thinking to myself, “How are you here and functioning?”

Let us not be fooled to why this is happening now. It is related to economic advantages. The Chinese government’s present signature foreign policy initiative is the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) that seeks to connect the PRC economically to the rest of the Eurasian continent through massive infrastructure projects that will stimulate international trade. The western and south-western components of the BRI require the XUAR to serve as a transportation and commercial hub to trade routes and pipelines that will join China with Central and South Asia, the Middle East, and the entirety of Europe. As a result, the XUAR has become an important strategic region for the Chinese, and the state views its indigenous populations as an obstacle to developing its vision for this future critical center of international commercial networks.1

The expansion of their trade route also ties in Iran hence the sanctions placed, but that’s a different report for a different time. China, of course, has defended their actions by claiming its an anti-terrorism plan. Getting reliable information is hard. China has made it a point to make things difficult for reporters. Yanan Wang, a China-based journalist from the Associated Press, has reported extensively on and from Xinjiang.

In a ceremony at Asia Society on Tuesday commemorating AP’s 2019 Osborn Elliott Award for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, Wang described the subtle ways government minders worked to thwart her reporting: “(Both of the times we went there we arrived at the airport, we had a welcoming committee from the local authorities. They’re always very polite and professional. They say that “you’ve arrived in Xinjiang and we’re here to assist you in your reporting. Tell us what you’re working on so we can help you.” They offer us drives in their car and plenty of hospitality.

Basically, from the moment we arrive, we’re followed by at least one car. There are a bunch of interesting scenarios that we came across. You can see that the local handlers are trying hard to be professional. They are members of the propaganda department, so they’re PR professionals. They don’t want to make it appear like it’s so stifling. At one point, we were taking photos, and someone suddenly appeared on the scene to say he was a “concerned citizen.” He said he’d seen us taking photos and that it was an infringement of his privacy rights. He had this long monologue about privacy rights and about how it wasn’t right for us to take photos of him without his knowledge. We asked him, “Well, where are you in these photos?” and he’d go through all of them. He said we had to delete all of them. He’d say, “This is my brother,” or “This is my place of work, you have to delete it.”

They had all of these interesting tactics to work around the idea that they were trying to obstruct our reporting and make it appear that someone who claims to be a concerned citizen.)”2

On top of that, locals that talk to journalist are punished, sometimes go missing.

I decided to do something this time around; I got in touch with an Uyghur community near my residence to see how an individual could help. It started at a Turkic restaurant, and from there, I have been involved in whatever capacity I am able. Through this effort, I got in touch with a Turkic professor in Turkey who has students stranded as they are cut off from contacting family back in Xinjiang. He helps them out financially; my family and friends help with what they can.

As Muslims in the West, there is no doubt we should act. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim).

How Can You Help Uyghurs

Here are a few things you can do to help:

1. Ask Congress to pass To pass S.178 & H.R.649 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. Urge your senator and representative to support this cause. It has been introduced. This bill can help the Uyghur community to be treated like Tibetans (another region oppressed by China).

2. Stay informed. The mainstream media is not the place to get accurate information on the situation. Be skeptical of where the data is coming from, stick to reliable sources that are verified. As mentioned above, journalists find it difficult to report.

3. Donate to Uyghur Human Rights Organizations to end concentration camps: UHRP, Uyghur American Association  Donate to Awareness Campaigns: Save Uigur Campaign 

4. Boycott or reduce buying Made in China products

5. Follow these links for updated information: facebook.com/Uyghur-Human-Rights-Project-227634297289994/ and facebook.com/ChinaMuslims

This crisis is an ethnic cleansing for profit. These are dark days as we value profit over people.

1.Statement by Concerned Scholars on mass detentions | MCLC …. https://u.osu.edu/mclc/2018/11/27/statement-by-concerned-scholars-on-mass-detention s/

2.Why It’s So Difficult for Journalists To Report From …. https://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/why-its-so-difficult-journalists-report-xinjiang

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