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 Headlines 02/11/2018


• 40% of Americans say Islam is Incompatible with US Values

• Khashoggi Murder: Saudi Prince said He was Dangerous Islamist

• Anti-blasphemy Protests Spread across Pakistan


40% of Americans say Islam is Incompatible with US Values

Over 40 percent of non-Muslim residents of the United States believe Islam is not compatible with American values, according to a study co-conducted by the New America foundation and the American Muslim Initiative announced Thursday.

According to the survey’s findings, 56 percent of individuals in the US thought Islam was compatible with American values while 42 percent said the religion is incompatible. A large majority - 74 percent - acknowledged Muslims face “a lot” of bigotry while 56 percent expressed concern about the spread of extremism in American-Muslim communities. The survey found Republicans were significantly more likely to view Islam and Muslim Americans negatively, with over 70 percent thinking Islam “incompatible with American values.” 56 percent of Republicans expressed concern should a mosque hypothetically be built in their neighborhood.

The researchers also found that just under half of respondents personally knew a Muslim. However, knowing a Muslim personally does not necessarily correlate with positive views on Islam, a senior fellow at the New America foundation, Robert McKenzie warned in a statement to Al-Jazeera. A month ago the Muslim Advocates civil rights group published findings documenting 80 instances of “clear anti-Muslim rhetoric” espoused by candidates running for political office in the US in 2017 and 2018. 64 percent of the candidates documented had received a presidential endorsement or were running as incumbents.

The last week in the US has seen a spike in violence stemming from far-right movements and rhetoric -- 11 Jewish worshippers were murdered in a shooting attack in Pittsburgh, suspected pipe bombs sent to Trump critics around the country, and two African-Americans killed in a hate-motivated attack in Kentucky. “Many people who hate Muslims, hate Jews as well,” Walter Ruby of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum told Al-Jazeera. “I absolutely think the rhetoric that’s come from President Trump and others has contributed,” Ruby added. “I don’t want to entirely blame Trump but this movement of hate has coalesced around him, which certainly helped orchestrate,” he said. “It’s become a very dangerous situation.” [Source: i24News]

The results are not surprising given Trump’s frequent vitriol against Islam. In fact the only surprise is that the figure is not higher.

Khashoggi Murder: Saudi Prince Said He Was Dangerous Islamist

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the US he considered murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be a dangerous Islamist, media reports say. Prince Mohammed's reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted he had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia has denied the reports in the Washington Post and New York Times. A Saudi national and well-known critic of Saudi rulers, Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered on 2 October. His remains have not yet been found. On Friday, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkey's president, told Hurriyet Newspaper officials believed that Khashoggi's body "wasn't just cut up", but that the murderers "got rid of the body by dissolving it". His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, has called on world leaders to "bring the perpetrators to justice", in an editorial for the Guardian and other newspapers. Saudi Arabia denies its royal family was involved and says it is "determined to find out all the facts". Late last month, Prince Mohammed said that "the crime was painful to all Saudis". [Source: The BBC]

The Saudi narrative over Khashoggi’s death has changed several times. Now the crown prince looking to justify the gruesome murder is peddling the story that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist. Well if that were the case then perhaps the crown prince would like to explain why he was embraced by the Western media?

Anti-blasphemy Protests Spread across Pakistan

Thousands of Islamist protesters have brought Pakistan to a standstill, burning rickshaws, cars and lorries to protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row on false charges of blasphemy. Traffic jams held up ambulances and forced mothers to feed their babies by the side of the road, while authorities shut schools across most of the country. Footage from the protests shows anti-blasphemy campaigners clubbing and throwing shoes at posters of Pakistan’s chief justice and the new prime minister, Imran Khan, who on Wednesday night threatened a fierce government response if protesters did not disperse. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives for this noble cause,” one told the Guardian, “and have rejected whatever rubbish the prime minister said in his speech”. The landmark release of Asia Bibi, a 47-year-old farm labourer, has pitched the state into the latest of several battles with supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a rabid, fast-growing political party that exists solely to punish blasphemers. Asia was charged with insulting the Prophet Muhammad after she drank from a cup of water before passing it to Muslim fruit-pickers. Police have so far shied away from arresting protesters and the powerful armed forces, which often appear to align with Islamists, have yet to issue a statement, despite TLP leaders daring to call for mutiny in its ranks. On Thursday, rightwing religious organisations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), a charity founded by UN-designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, and the Jamaat-Ulema-e-Islam, announced that they would join the TLP protest on Friday, in what could become an unmanageable conflagration. The new government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared to backtrack on Thursday evening, sending a five-member negotiating team to meet Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of the TLP.

Government officials released contradictory statements on whether they had placed Asia on the exit control list, which would prevent her fleeing the country. In public speeches, Rizvi has said his only demand is that the mother-of-five be put to death, the punishment for blasphemy under Pakistan’s penal code. “Our sit-in will go on until the government accepts our demand,” he told the Guardian in a phone interview, denying reports that the sit-in would soon be over. [Source: The Guardian]

The protests are driven by the apparent capitulation of Khan’s government to let Bibi go at the behest of foreign powers and their conditions for loans.

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