Wilders tried to claim legal fees from parliament: Volkskrant

Pipes and WildersAnti-Islam politician Geert Wilders last year tried to claim between €500,000 and €600,000 as parliamentary expenses for legal fees incurred during a trial for inciting hatred, the Volkskrant said on Saturday.

Sources told the paper Wilders’ claim was rejected after discussions between members of parliament’s management committee, known as the presidium and on the advice of an accountant.

Parliamentary parties are allowed to submit expenses claims to the presidium if they are for services needed to support their work.

Civil servants and most members of the presidium decided the legal fees for the trial were private expenses. In addition, the claim itself was “not very concrete”, the paper said.

Wilders’ was represented at his trial by celebrity lawyer Bram Moszkowicz who has since been struck off. The bill was not broken down into daily costs and there was no proper explanation of all the charges, a source told the paper.

One member of the presidium told the paper: “I saw the bill and I thought ‘well there is someone who understands about expenses’. There was no supporting evidence. It was an amount between €500,000 and €600,000.”

Three other members of the presidium have also confirmed the story, the paper said.

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Michele Bachmann: Obama embraced ‘agenda of Islamic jihad’

Michele BachmannOutgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) says President Obama has embraced the “agenda of Islamic jihad” at every turn.

“I have been very surprised, to answer your question, to see the president of the United States, at every turn, cut the legs off of our ally Israel, and in fact embrace and lift up the agenda of Islamic jihad,” she said in an interview released Wednesday with “Washington Watch“, a radio show produced by the socially conservative Family Research Council.

Bachmann criticized the president for writing to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to encourage a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program. “This really is a spiritual battle that we’re dealing with,” she added. “And while the president continues to say that this is not about the religion of Islam, I beg to differ.”

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Faith leaders stand in solidarity after Central Minnesota Islamic Center attacked

Central Minnesota Islamic Center interfaith eventSt. Cloud-area religious leaders said Sunday they stand with the Muslim community after a series of vandalism at the Central Minnesota Islamic Center.

Religious and community members, including members of the Great River Interfaith Partnership, met Sunday at the Islamic center on Fourth Avenue South. In the past month four incidents of vandalism have been reported there.

About 25 community members discussed the issue and looked at the damage done to the center. On Monday, Islamic center officials will meet with Bishop Donald Kettler.

Abdul Kulane organized the meeting and said he wanted to get support from the greater community. “We invited you to give some validity,” Kulane said. “We called you because we know you care.”

St. Cloud police continue to investigate the incidents and have increased patrols in the area. In late November someone broke the front window and community members had their vehicles damaged when they were parked for prayers before sunrise, center spokesman Mohamoud Mohamed said.

About a week later another window was damaged. Early this month another window was shot 10 times with a pellet gun, the damage still visible. The most recent incident was reported Dec. 15 when a window was smashed while two members were inside the mosque.

Mohamed said he does not understand why someone would target a building that is for peaceful praying and gathering. “This building is a symbol of this community,” he said. “The community has no value if it cannot show a symbol of freedom.”

Ahmed Abdi is secretary of the Islamic center. He said he left about 10 minutes before the Dec. 15 incident occurred. He said he is worried about his safety and safety of others who come to the center.

The Rev. Randy Johnson is the associate pastor at First United Methodist Church. He said as a community they have been here before, pointing at incidents in 2007 when a Muslim man was assaulted after leaving a mosque and cartoons put up near Somali-owned businesses in 2009 that depicted the prophet Muhammad.

“We stood with you then,” he said.

He said it’s a small minority that’s causing the damage. “We are not going to allow those voices to speak for our community,” Johnson said.

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Ad targeting Islam to go before judge

AFDI Islamic Jew Hatred ad

You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Can an ad proclaim “Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Quran” on a crowded bus?

That’s the free-speech issue before U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg in Philadelphia, who soon will have to decide whether a private group’s ad targeting the Quran and seeking to “end all aid to Islamic countries” can appear on SEPTA’s buses, trains, shelters, and kiosks.

Defenders of the ad say it falls into one of the First Amendment’s most preciously protected categories: public-issue speech.

SEPTA general counsel Gino Benedetti acknowledged the importance of free speech but took a different approach during testimony before the judge Wednesday. Benedetti said he rejected the ad in the fall because of its potential to cause harm and incivility in a transit system that serves and employs Muslims among its one million daily customers and 9,000 employees.

The ad, he said, “puts all Muslims in a single bucket as hating Jews. . . . My common understanding is that not every Muslim hates a Jew. I thought it was portraying Muslims in a harmful, injurious way.”

Produced by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), the ad features a photograph of a 1941 meeting between Adolf Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Palestinian Arab nationalist who made radio broadcasts supporting the Nazis.

Cofounded in 2010 by conservative commentators Pamela Geller and Richard Spencer, AFDI is a nonprofit incorporated in New Hampshire. Its mission statement says it opposes the “treason [of] government officials, mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

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Muslim woman sues county jail after being forced to attend Christian church service

Sakeena MajeedA Muslim woman who says she was forced to attend Christian church services during a 60-day jail stint in Cleveland on an assault charge has sued the county.

Sakeena Majeed said in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that a correction officer made her and other Cuyahoga County jail inmates attend Friday afternoon services led by a Baptist minister. She alleged that she was threatened with solitary confinement if she did not attend and that another correction officer mocked her when she refused to actively participate.

“That should be offensive to anybody, no matter what your religion is,” said her attorney Matthew Besser, who filed the lawsuit. “The government can’t tell you what god to pray to or to pray at all.”

Majeed’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A county prosecutor’s spokesman, Joe Frolik, declined to comment about it on Friday.

Majeed, of suburban Rocky River, was sentenced to the county jail on 3 April after pleading guilty to assault. She was arrested on her lunch hour on 18 July, 2013, after getting into a confrontation with a police officer who had stopped her for jaywalking, Besser said. Records show she was indicted on charges of felonious assault, assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Her sentence began 11 April.

Forcing someone to attend a church service against his or her will is a clear violation of the constitutional right to freedom of religion, a right that is not lost when someone is incarcerated, Besser said. Majeed primarily wants to bring the jail’s practice to light and to prevent what she experienced from happening to others, he said.

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Boca Raton, Florida: Man punches car after calling driver a Muslim, police said

A man in Boca Raton punched the hood of a car because he thought the driver was Muslim, police said.

Boca Raton police got a call about a drunken man who had punched a car at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at 101 Plaza Real.

The driver of the vehicle told officers a man, later identified as James Caputo, wandered into the street and was standing there. He stopped his car and waited for Caputo to get out of the street, but when he didn’t, he honked his horn to get him to move.

Caputo turned to look at the driver, who according to police has an olive complextion and dark hair, and started screaming at him.

According to the arrest report, Caputo cursed at the man, called him a Muslim and told him to go back to his country. The driver told police he is Lebanese but is not Muslim.

The driver yelled back at Caputo and then Caputo punched the hood of the man’s car, leaving a significant dent, police said.

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Texas school board let anti‑Muslim group pressure publishers to rewrite religion textbooks

Last month, the Texas State Board of Education approved a set of social studies textbooks after some disputes between Christian Right members of the board and scholars who had reviewed the texts. Although experts recruited by the Texas Freedom Network to review the proposed texts managed to convince textbook companies to remove some objectionable material, some claims demanded by conservative members of the board remained, including assertions that Moses was a direct influence on the founding of the U.S.

In an article for Religion Dispatches today, one of TFN’s reviewers, David R. Brockman, who teaches religious studies at Southern Methodist University, writes about his experience as a textbook reviewer and his frustrations with the board’s process for reviewing curricula on world religions. “The curriculum standards and the adoption process in Texas don’t simply lack balanced and accurate coverage of the world’s religions; they work against it,” he writes. “And while textbook publishers generally struggle against this tide, they are sometimes dragged along with it.”

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Manhattan Beach, California: Protesters ask school board to reconsider teaching Islam

Manhattan Beach school textbookA group of protesters asked the Manhattan Beach Unified School District to review how it teaches Islam at the school board’s meeting on Dec. 10.

A couple stood outside the building’s entrance with signs that said “Stop teaching Islam,” and “No Islam en la escuela” [sic]. As people entered, they handed out pamphlets that said in all caps, “TEACHING ISLAM WITHOUT WARNING LABELS IS LIKE STORING DRAINO IN A SUGAR BOWL.”

During the meeting, 11 individuals explained how they thought the school board should change or eliminate its teaching of Islam.

Mein Kampf reads like a love story compared to the Quran,” said Steve Amundson. “I propose Islam be removed from the curriculum. It’s more akin to Nazism than a religion.”

The parents of a Manhattan Beach Middle School seventh grader said that they became concerned when their son showed them his homework, which asked students to write down the five tenets of Islam.

“This is the homework that set us off,” said Judy Diethelm as she held up the worksheet. “He had to write down ‘Allah is the one true God.’ The curriculum being presented is indoctrination, and we are opposed to this.”

The boy’s father, Keith Johnson, said that they had asked the school’s principal to remove the textbook, Medieval and Early Modern Times. “We are not anti-Islam, but pro-equality,” he said.

Later, Gary Aven of Redondo Beach asked where the principal, John Jackson, was. “He’s right here,” said a man, indicating the man next to him. “Why didn’t you respond to that parent?” he asked, pointing at Jackson.

“Oh, I did,” said Jackson before Bill Fournell, the newly elected president of the school board, interrupted. “Sir, this isn’t an inquisition,” he said to giggles from a group of high school students.

Once public comment ended, Superintendent Michael Matthews said that the textbook and curriculum were “specifically prescribed” by the state, and that he supported that mandate.

“Scrutiny can be a great thing,” said Matthews. “I’m proud to be a place where people can come to us to speak their mind. But in terms of banning a certain part of the curriculum that people don’t agree with, I’m not going to go along with that.” He invited the protesters to give their feedback to the state.

After the meeting, Jackson and a couple of others discussed how they would exit the building. When asked if other parents had contacted him about the Islam issue, he said no. “Outside the board meetings, they’re the only ones,” he said.

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More damage at Minnesota Islamic center sparks fear

Central Minnesota Islamic Center vandalism (2)An Islamic faith center in St. Cloud was damaged again this week, and its leaders are voicing fears about its members’ safety.

The Central Minnesota Islamic Center in the 300 block of Fourth Avenue South reported a broken window shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday. Two people were inside when it happened, center spokesman Mohamoud Mohamed told the Times. He said they were on the other side of the building and weren’t injured.

This is the fourth incident of damage at the Islamic center in the past month, Mohamed said. He said this one was particularly concerning, because it appeared that someone used something heavy to break the window. “Every corner of our facility has now been attacked,” he said. “It is very sad to see that happening in this century, especially during this season.”

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