City of Brass

City of Brass

Terrorists attack Ohio mosque

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Earlier, I mentioned the Obsession DVD that was inserted in millions of newspapers around the country. That DVD paints a rigid and extreme vision of Islam, with intent to mislead rather than inform. Now, the predictable result of that hate-mongering propaganda is beginning to manifest; on Friday, a mosque in Dayton, OH was tear-gassed, with women and children inside:

Baboucarr Njie was preparing for his prayer session Friday night,
Sept. 26, when he heard children in the Islamic Society of Greater
Dayton coughing. Soon, Njie himself was overcome with fits of coughing
and, like the rest of those in the building, headed for the doors.

“I would stay outside for a minute, then go back in, there were a
lot of kids,” Njie said. “My throat is still itchy, I need to get some
milk.”

Njie was one of several affected when a suspected chemical irritant
was sprayed into the mosque at 26 Josie St., bringing Dayton police,
fire and hazardous material personnel to the building at 9:48 p.m.

Someone “sprayed an irritant into the mosque,” Dayton fire District
Chief Vince Wiley said, noting that fire investigators believe it was a
hand-held spray can.

According to fire dispatch communications, a child reported seeing
two men with a white can spraying something into a window. That child
was brought to the supervising firefighter at the scene.

This is the only mainstream media report on the incident so far. A diarist at DailyKos shares an email from one of the congregants, and that account is far more chilling. Some excerpts:

“She told me that the gas was sprayed into the room where the babies
and children were being kept while their mothers prayed together their
Ramadan prayers. Panicked mothers ran for their babies, crying for
their children so they could flee from the gas that was burning their
eyes and throats and lungs. She grabbed her youngest in her arms and
grabbed the hand of her other daughter, moving with the others to exit
the building and the irritating substance there.

“The paramedic said the young one was in shock, and gave her oxygen to help her breathe. The child couldn’t stop sobbing.

“This didn’t happen in some far away place — but right here in
Dayton, and to my friends. Many of the Iraqi refugees were praying
together at the Mosque Friday evening. People that I know and love.

[...]

“The children come into the room, and tell me they want to leave
America and return to Syria, where they had fled to from Iraq. They say
they like me, … , and other American friends — but they are too
afraid and want to leave. Should a 6 and 7 year old even have to
contemplate the safety of their living situation?

“Did the anti-Muslim video circulating in the area have something to
do with this incident, or is that just a bizarre coincidence? Who
attacks women and children?

Anyone who tries to disclaim any link between this despicable attack and the release of 20 million copies of the Obsession DVD is either a fool or a liar. That DVD was intended to bring about precisely this kind of demonization. What is most shocking about the Obsession DVD is that it is most likely funded by the very people you would think would know all too well the wages of this kind of directed hate, scapegoating, and fear-mongering.

Incidentally, it doesn’t stop here. There’s a new Islamophobic film due to be released in early October, in time for Eid al Fitr: The Third Jihad. This is a “tsunami of Islamophobia” that is clearly aimed at influencing the election in November.

Related: coverage of Obsession at Talk Islam. Also, in addition to the report by Richard Silverstein I linked above, see this report by NPR on the Clarion Fund, the secretive organization behind the DVD, and this essay by Sheila Musaji that goes in-depth about the Clarion Fund’s secretive backers.

UPDATE: New details have emerged in the case, including a lack of direct evidence of the irritant, and a can of pepper spray found nearby. More details in this follow-up post

Alayk as-salaam, ya shere Ramadan

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Ramadan is a rare opportunity for the believer, in which all acts of piety are multiplied a thousand-fold. As Ramadan draws to a close, our consciences weigh more heavily with the thought of all the opportunities wasted in which we could have done just a little more devotion and engaged in just a little more prayer. Tonight, by the Fatimid calendar, is the last night of Ramadan and tomorrow is my final fast, with Eid al-Fitr on Tuesday. Others will observe Eid on Wednesday or even Thursday, but regardless of your reckoning, there’s very little time left indeed. Tonight I will engage in late night prayers, from nisful layl to shafa witr, and try to redeem what little barakat remains for the taking. 

Security when Kaaba door opens

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I received these astonishing photos as an email forward, so I am unaware of their origin, but they certainly look legitimate. These are allegedly a glimpse of the heavy security around the Kaaba when the doors are opened by the Saudi authorities. It’s an impressive show of brute force.

Kaaba security - 2Kaaba security - 1

First debate: yawn

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There were really only two audiences for this debate – the people who know they are voting for McCain or Obama, and the people who haven’t decided yet. The former are essentially totally unmovable in their opinion, however much they may pretend to be persuadable (and I am unabashedly in this cohort). The second, are probably “low information” voters who simply haven’t had time to think about the election much and are looking to form a gut feeling about the candidates.

Let me state up front that I am firmly of the opinion that the average voter is a rational actor. I don’t think people are dumb or racist or gullible, as a rule. I do however subscribe to the GIGO principle – garbage in, garbage out – which means that a perfectly rational voter will come to an irrational decision if fed utter nonsense to digest. The thought process itself, not the end product, is the rational part.

This is why the McCain campaign is so hell-bent on propagating nonsense about Palin’s qualifications (“I can see Russia from my house!”), outright smearing of Obama (“he’s a pedophile!”), and other chicanery (“I will single-handedly save the nation by going to Washington and injecting presidential politics into solemn deliberations!”). In the software world this is referred to as FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. In other words, the McCain strategy is to swamp the low-info, undecided voter with an avalanche of garbage and hope that some of it sticks long enough to taint their conclusions about Obama’s fitness to lead.

tina-fey-01-af.jpgIn a nutshell, then, McCain’s objective in this debate was to avoid the issues and disseminate more FUD about Obama. Obama’s objective was to stand firm and demonstrate that he belonged on the stage. I think both of them achieved their goals, but in so doing made for a very boring debate for all of us in the first group, for whom this debate was not intended.
Overall, if I were to criticize Obama I’d say that his answers were too comprehensive. He needs to boil down his ideas more succinctly. He tended to try and be comprehensive, linking everything and drawing a great web of connections, relating everything to everything else so as to assert his knowledge on everything in a reassuring way. But in so doing we sort of lost sight of the small picture. Obama needs to factoid-ify his basic positions on the issues (Afghanistan – the real front of the war on terror. Iraq – expensive boondoggle that made us less safe. Economy – a mess because of Republican rule and military spending. etc.) Not because I think the low-info voter is a fool, but rather because anything more complex can be more easily FUDded into torturous meanings and picked apart by McCain’s operation. What the low-info voter will see is not Obama’s two full minutes of response to a question, but a summary of the summary. The more simplistic he can be in conveying his ideas, the more fidelity with which he can get them across.

I know that CBS and CNN had some encouraging polls that suggest the independent voters who sat through the debate were generally pro-Obama. But for every focus group the networks setup, there are millions more voters who won’t know anything of the debate beyond tomorrow’s headlines and the capsule summary on the evening news. That summary will of course include (for “balance”) the McCain spin, and it’s hard to see how any nuance in Obama’s answers will be preserved.
Fundamentally, the partisan supporters (myself included) will assume they were unbiased but still in favor of their man. But we don’t count. The key is the swingy middle, and where they stand, we won’t really know until the next debate (if that even happens – McCain’s camp is reported to be in full-panic mode about Palin’s disastrous media appearances, especially the Katie Couric interviews, which make the Tina Fey portrayal on Saturday Night Live seem pretty tame).
Sure, Obama won. I’m an Obama guy after all. But who cares what i think? Or what RedState thinks?

McCain_Wins_Debate.JPGAnyway, according to web ads that the McCain campaign was running this afternoon, McCain won the debate even before it took place. Clearly, further debates are redundant. John McCain is altering the deal.. pray he doesn’t alter it any further.

(Why, yes, that is a picture of Tina Fey up there. No, it’s not really relevant to this post at all. Unless of course McCain dumps Palin and runs the McCain-Fey ticket, in which case I’m so aboard.)

Previous Posts

Tweeting the Qur'an #ttQuran
My friend Hussein Rashid launched the idea of Tweeting the Qur’an a few years ago and the idea has steadily caught on, and even at

posted 1:04:00pm Jul. 10, 2014 | read full post »

The Criterion: reading the Qur'an is the foundation of ibadat in Ramadan
Ramadan is one-third over. Unlike past years, I've not written as much about my observances this year because I've been dedicated to

posted 1:00:20pm Jul. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Nominations now open for the 11th Annual Brass Crescent Awards
The Brass Crescent Awards is an annual awards ceremony that honors the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners. Founded in 2004 by myself and Shahed Amanullah, the Brass Crescent Awa

posted 5:18:45am Jun. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Ramadan Kareem from the Democratic Party and President Obama
The official twitter handle of the Democratic Party (@TheDemocrats) just posted this Ramadan Kareem message quoting President Obama: https://twitter.com/TheDemocrats/status/482895697222443008 "Ramadan reminds us of our shared responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves an

posted 4:00:46pm Jun. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Ramadan is coming - or has already arrived
Ramadan Mubarak! By the lunar Fatimid calendar, today (Saturday 28th June) is the 1st of Ramadan. The Mecca-centric calculations of The Fiqh Council of North America (affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America) also concur with the lunar calendar in declaring today the 1st of Ramada

posted 9:40:22am Jun. 28, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.