Well folks, with all the stuff going on regarding Islam, Radical Islam, Islamic Fundamentalists, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, ISIS, etc. etc. there is no way we should be confused about the fact that it had to come to this sooner or later: The Muslims are digging themselves a hole that's getting deeper and deeper!
By Paul Ingram
PHOENIX (Reuters) - More than 200 protesters, some armed, berated Islam and its Prophet Mohammed outside an Arizona mosque on Friday in a provocative protest that was denounced by counter protesters shouting "Go home, Nazis," weeks after an anti-Muslim event in Texas came under attack by two gunmen.
The anti-Muslim event outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was organized by an Iraq war veteran who posted photos of himself online wearing a T-shirt with the slogan "Fuck Islam" on it and waving the U.S. flag.
More than 900 people responded on the event's Facebook page that they would take part in the demonstration, and by 6 p.m. local time police were expanding their presence in anticipation of growing crowds. Officers with riot helmets and gas masks formed a cordon for several blocks.
Among the anti-Islam protesters, some of whom called Islam a "religion of murderers," more than a dozen men in military clothing carried semi-automatic weapons. Others waved copies of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad drawn at the Texas event.
Depictions of Mohammad, which many Muslims view as blasphemous, have been a flashpoint for violence in Europe and the United States in recent months where those displaying or creating such images have been targeted by militants.
Meanwhile, anti-Muslim groups have been active in the United States, buying ads and staging demonstrations characterizing Islam as violent, often citing the murderous brutality of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
ACT OF RETRIBUTION
The Phoenix mosque targeted on Friday has condemned such violence, and held a series of sermons at Friday prayers last year by an imam who criticized militant Islamist groups such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and Nigeria's Boko Haram.
The president of the center had urged worshippers not to engage with the demonstrators.
"We should remind ourselves that we do not match wrongness with wrongness, but with grace and mercy and goodness," Usama Shami told worshippers during Friday prayers.
While some counter-protesters outside the mosque responded to the anti-Islam protest with obscenities, others followed his advice and chanted "Love your neighbor."
In January, gunmen killed 12 people at the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in anger at the magazine's cartoons featuring the Prophet, and a similar attack was foiled in Texas on May 3.
The pair of gunmen who opened fire near Dallas outside an exhibit of cartoons featuring Mohammad were shot dead by police without killing anyone. Leaders of the Phoenix Muslim community confirmed both gunmen had attended the Phoenix mosque targeted in Friday's demonstration.
Todd Green, a religion professor at Luther College in Iowa who studies Islamophobia, said that the brutal acts committed by Islamic State and other militant groups have colored many Americans' impressions of Muslims.
"Almost two-thirds of Americans don't know a Muslim," Green said. "What they know is ISIS, al Qaeda, and Charlie Hebdo."
U.S. officials are investigating claims that the Texas gunmen had ties to the Islamic State, but said they had not established a firm connection.
'EPIDEMIC OF ANTI-ISLAMIC SENTIMENT'
The Department of Homeland Security has been in touch with state and local law enforcement authorities, and was monitoring the situation in Phoenix, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
"Even expressions that are offensive, that are distasteful, and intended to sow divisions in an otherwise tight-knit, diverse community like Phoenix, cannot be used as a justification to carry out an act of violence," he told reporters.
Ritzheimer, the main organizer of the demonstration, said the point of the demonstration was "to expose the true colors of Islam."
"True Islam is terrorism. Yes, the ones that are out committing these atrocities and stuff, they are following the book as it’s written,” Ritzheimer told CNN.
Ritzheimer was a staff sergeant in the Marine Reserve and was deployed to Iraq twice, in 2005 and 2008, the Marine Corps said.
Anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who organized the Texas event, said she was not involved in the demonstration in Phoenix.
The mosque is a former church near the city's international airport that can hold some 600 worshippers. The Phoenix area is home to tens of thousands of Muslims.
The event is part of "an epidemic of anti-Islamic sentiment" that goes beyond protesting against extremism, said Imraan Siddiqi of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Don’t mistake that, they’re not saying they want to rid America of radical Islam, they are saying they want to rid America of Islam," Siddiqi said.
MEANWHILE: BACK HERE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE COMPLACENT:
VANCOUVER -- A judge is instructing a jury in the case of a husband and wife accused of plotting to bomb the British Columbia legislature that motive is key to deciding whether they are guilty of the terrorism allegations.
John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are accused of conspiracy to commit murder, placing an explosive in a public place, and possession of an explosive substance, in connection with the alleged plan set for Canada Day 2013.
She told jury members they have the option of finding the pair guilty of the charges, but without the added weight of acting on behalf of a terrorist group.
In order to determine if the pair is guilty of the more serious terror charges, Bruce says the jury must consider whether they were motivated by politics or ideology.
Nuttall and Korody have pleaded not guilty to the charges and their defence lawyers have suggested undercover officers posing as jihad sympathizers manipulated them into plotting the attacks.
Bruce says the jury should only consider if police coaxed or influenced the couple's actions when they are deliberating on the more serious terror charges.
When he was done, Zehaf Bibeau flipped the phone around, turned off the video and drove to the National War Memorial, where he fatally shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. He later died in a firefight with security forces on Parliament Hill.
Police said investigators originally believed these portions might explain how Zehaf Bibeau became radicalized. The Mounties said they needed time to analyze the language, talk to experts and follow up on "a number" of leads.
In their statement, the Mounties did not divulge the results of that work.
New Democrat defence critic Jack Harris said it was his hope the Conservative government wouldn't use the latest version of the video to ramp up public support for their controversial anti-terror legislation.
"I hope the prime minister and the government doesn't try to use this once again to frighten Canadians," Harris said. "They used that event (Oct. 22) to create Bill C-51, which I think most Canadians agree was overreaching."
As if on cue, however, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney issued a statement that did indeed link the video to the legislation, calling it a "stark reminder of the need to remain vigilant at home and abroad."
The release of the video comes days before the RCMP and the House of Commons prepare to make public an outside review of the security response on Parliament Hill on the day of the shooting. The Ontario Provincial Police were asked to conduct reviews of how the RCMP and House of Commons security handled having a shooter on Parliament Hill.
The House of Commons plans to release a redacted version of the report, eliminating portions it fears could compromise security.
Both reports are expected to be released late next week.
Controversial law that allows revocation of Canadian citizenship goes into effect!
TORONTO -- The federal government says it now has the power to revoke the citizenship of some Canadians convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.
A controversial new law, first introduced last June, went into effect on Friday.
The rules would also apply to dual citizens who take up arms against Canada by fighting in a foreign army or joining an international terrorist organization.
The new law has met with strong public criticism, and two Ontario lawyers have already launched a court case arguing it is unconstitutional.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander argued the new rules are meant to confront what he described as the "ever-evolving threat of jihadi terrorism."
"Our government knows that there is no higher purpose for any government than to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and we have never been afraid to call jihadi terrorism exactly what it is," Alexander said Friday at an event in Toronto.
He said the changes to the Citizenship Act will ensure that "those who wish to do us harm will not be able to exploit their Canadian citizenship to endanger Canadians or our free and democratic way of life."
Critics have expressed concerns about the way in which the new law could be applied to certain high-profile cases.
When they were first announced, the official opposition New Democrats extracted a promise from the government that the new rules would not be used to target Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was then a dual citizen.
Fahmy was convicted of supporting a terrorist group in a widely-denounced trial held in Egypt and was originally sentenced to seven years.
The Al Jazeera television producer later gave up his Egyptian citizenship in an unsuccessful bid to be deported back to Canada and is currently undergoing a new trial on terrorism charges.
In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair argued that Fahmy's case highlighted the risks inherent in the new legislation.
In October, Toronto-based lawyers Paul Slansky and Rocco Galati launched a constitutional court challenge against the new law. Federal Court Judge Donald Rennie dismissed the case earlier this year.
AND DESPITE ALL THIS HOOPLA, COMMON SENSE STILL PREVAILS:
TORONTO -- A Muslim high school in Ontario that complained about its boys' soccer team having to play against a team that included girls has been told it must abide by gender equity rules.
ISNA, which describes itself as a progressive co-ed independent school that strives to abide by Qur'anic injunctions, raised an objection at the game about the girls' presence on the field, and the girls sat out the second half.
The Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association -- which ISNA is a member of -- said the Muslim school complained about the situation for "religious reasons."
After examining the matter, ROPSSAA ruled that all its member schools are expected to abide by regulations that say if a sport isn't available for a girl on a female team, she is eligible to participate on a boys' team after a successful tryout.
ROPSSAA chair Paul Freier says the association's gender equity policy comes from the rules used by the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations.
"If a girl is good enough to play on the boys' team she can play," he said, adding that if a similar objection arose in the future, the school teams would have to decide to either play the game anyway, or default the match.
Freier noted that ISNA had been a member of the association for a number of years and hadn't had any problems in the past.
"I think probably they were just caught off guard," he said. "We assume every school that joins is expected to adhere to the constitution and bylaws of ROPSSAA."
ISNA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.