Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hindu chauvinist BJP sweeps to power in India

By Keith Jones 

17 May 2014


The Hindu communalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) have swept to power in India’s general election, buoyed by popular anger over soaring food prices and mass unemployment and the support of Indian big business and the corporate media.

The BJP will have 282 seats in the incoming Lok Sabha—the first time in three decades any single party has secured a majority in the 545-member lower house of India’s parliament. The 54 seats won by the BJP’s NDA allies are more than the total secured by any of the opposition parties and mean that the government will have the support of at least 336 Lok Sabha MPs.

What hopes India’s workers and toilers have that the BJP will deliver on its election campaign promises of jobs and development will soon be dashed.

Big business has championed the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate—the self-styled Hindu strongman, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi—as the instrument through which to impose socially incendiary “pro-market” reforms in the face of mass popular opposition.

Modi is notorious for his role in instigating the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom. But he has impressed India’s corporate elite and the likes of Goldmann Sachs, which recently issued a gushing report on Modi’s potential to serve as an “agent of change,” by lavishing investors with land and tax concessions, illegalizing strikes, and otherwise doing their bidding.

The Indian bourgeoisie’s enthusiasm for the arch-communalist thug Modi underscores that it is turning to reaction and authoritarian methods of rule to realize its ambitions to transform India into a hub of cheap-labor production for world capitalism.

In an editorial published yesterday, the London-based Economist declared, “The last [Congress Party-led] government dithered and was preoccupied with bolstering India’s welfare state. India’s new rulers must be more strategic and ruthless.”

Billions of dollars have poured into India’s money markets in recent weeks in anticipation of a BJP victory and on Friday, India’s stock markets again soared to record highs. But as last summer’s rupee crisis illustrated, India’s economy is massively dependent on in-flows of foreign capital and can be roiled by disgruntled foreign investors almost overnight. Standards and Poor’s reiterated yesterday that it will slash India’s credit rating to junk status if the new government does not demonstrate in the next two to three month’s its commitment to “fiscal prudence”—i.e., massive social spending cuts—and “structural reform.”
An historic debacle for the Congress Party

Friday’s election results constitute an historic debacle for the Congress Party, the party that has led India’s national government for all but 13 of the 67 years since independence.

The Congress has won just 44 seats, little more than a fifth of its tally in the last election and not enough under the rules of India’s parliament to be recognized as the official opposition.

The Congress’s central role in the politics of the Indian bourgeoisie has been bound up with the broad multiethnic, cross-communal popular following it developed due to its association with the struggle against British colonial rule and the rudimentary reforms enacted in the aftermath of independence.

Already by the late 1960s, under conditions of the breakup of the post-Second World War capitalist boom, the Congress was coming into violent conflict with the working class. But with the assistance of the Stalinist Communist parties, it staggered on, becoming in the process a dynastic party revolving around the Nehru-Gandhi family.

While the Congress last won a parliamentary majority in 1984, it has remained until now the bourgeoisie’s principal political instrument and has done most of the heavy-lifting in the repudiation of “Congress socialism”—the state-led “national development” program the bourgeoisie pursued in the first four decades after independence.

It was the Congress-led government of Narasimha Rao that, between 1991 and 1996, initiated the bourgeoisie’s turn to neo-liberal policies and adoption of a cheap-labor, export-led growth strategy. It was a Congress government that locked India into a “strategic partnership” with US imperialism and has presided over a rapid expansion of India’s military, pressing forward with the development of an air-land-sea nuclear-strike capacity and the building of a blue-water navy.

The “reform”-fueled expansion of Indian capitalism over the past two decades is the subject of endless glowing reports in the West. But the fruits of India’s economic growth have been appropriated wholesale by a tiny capitalist elite and the most privileged sections of the middle class, leaving more than three quarters of the population to survive on less than $2 a day and half of all India’s children malnourished.

Returned to power in 2004 after six years in opposition, the Congress claimed that it would deliver “reforms with a human face.” This was a sham on par with its earlier claims to be building “Congress socialism.”

It consisted of taking a tiny fraction of the increased revenues generated by India’s rapid economic expansion to provide work and food for the hungry. While the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government continued to spend the equivalent of less than 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on education and health care combined, it was selling off at fire sale prices and outright gifting tens of billions of dollars’ worth of public assets to Indian big business.

The twin shocks of the 2008 world financial crisis and the post-2010 halving of Indian’s growth rate made it impossible for the Congress to sustain even the derisory social supports it enacted in the UPA’s first-term. While joblessness soared and prices rose at double-digit rates, the Congress slashed social spending and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took to the airwaves to demand Indians “tighten their belts” to attract foreign investment.

Big business, meanwhile, turned on the government for failing to redeem with sufficient speed its repeated pledges of further pro-investor reforms.
The complicity of the Indian Stalinists

Responsibility for the fact that the Indian bourgeoisie has been able to exploit mass anger against the Congress-led government to push Indian politics still further right lies first and foremost with the Stalinist parliamentary parties—the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM.

They and their Left Front have played a pivotal role in implementing the bourgeoisie’s neo-liberal agenda. This includes sustaining in office both the minority Congress-led government that initiated the Indian bourgeoisie’s “new economic policy” and the Congress-led UPA government from May 2004 through June 2008.

In those states where they have formed the government, the Stalinists have enacted what they themselves call “pro-investor” policies, slashing public spending, illegalizing strikes in IT and IT-enabled industries, and using police and goon violence to crush peasant opposition to the expropriation of their land for big business.

These endless betrayals have shattered the Stalinists’ base of support in the working class. In the 2009 elections, the Left Front’s Lok Sabha delegation was more than halved, falling to just 24. In 2014, the CPI won no seats and the CPM was reduced to 9.
A government of crisis and reaction

The ruling elite will use the BJP’s strong parliamentary majority to try to intimidate the working class and justify state repression.

In reality, the BJP’s real base of support is extremely narrow. Benefiting from the mass anger at the Congress and the complicity of the Stalinists, and shamelessly lying about the true import of its “development” program, the BJP won 171.5 million votes (a 31 percent share of the popular vote) in a country of 1.2 billion people.

From the get-go, the Modi-led government will be a regime of extreme crisis. It is tasked with imposing, under conditions of global capitalist crisis, a class-war agenda that is inimical to the vast majority: the slashing of social spending; the reduction and eventual elimination of price subsidies for energy, fertilizer and food; the gutting of restrictions on mass layoffs and plant closures; privatization; the shifting of still more of the tax burden onto working people. The list goes on and on.

Moreover, large swathes of India’s population—above all, the working class—is deeply hostile to the BJP’s noxious Hindu communalist agenda.

The BJP is itself a highly combustible political formation. It combines captains of industry who are livid that India is “wasting” billions on keeping the hungry alive, recruits from the most bellicose and antidemocratic sections of the national-security establishment, and the cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) militia and associated Hindu supremacist outfits.

Between the end of the election campaign and yesterday’s vote-count, Modi, himself a lifelong RSS member, and other senior BJP leaders had a series of meetings with the RSS leadership to discuss the BJP’s next steps.

With the BJP enjoying for the first time ever a parliamentary majority, sections of the Hindu right will invariably begin agitating for it to enact some of its longstanding communally-charged pledges—repeated in its current election manifesto—such as abolishing the unique status of Jammu and Kashmir and building a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of the razed Babri Mosque.

Moreover, as opposition mounts to the BJP government’s big business socio-economic agenda, it will respond with the only means it has of mobilizing its base and popular support—rank communal appeals directed at scapegoating Muslims and other minorities.

India’s neighbors, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, have all announced their readiness to work with a Modi-led Indian government. But behind the business-as-usual façade, there is undoubtedly deep concern. Modi’s strongman image is built in part on his attacks on the UPA government for “appeasing” Pakistan and being “soft” on China. And during the election campaign, he repeatedly called for the expulsion of Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, including after communal violence in Assam resulted in the death of more than three dozen Muslims.

The Obama administration is eager to draw India even more tightly into its anti-China “Asian Pivot.” Toward that end, it has been anxious in recent months to set aside the flap over the visa restrictions Washington placed on Modi in 2005 because of his role in the Gujarat pogrom. On Friday, Obama telephoned Modi to congratulate him on the BJP’s election victory and invite him to visit the White House.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Anti-Muslim diatribe promotes false suspicion

By: Ihsaan Gardee

May 16, 2014


In "Terrorists in our midst" (May 12), Danny Eisen and Tom Quiggin apparently sought to educate the public about the threat of terrorism.

Instead, they presented a conspiracy-laden diatribe that, in a sweeping stroke, smeared our long-standing Canadian organization as "terrorists" and despicably suggested we intend to destroy Canada from within.

By painting a far-fetched plot of sedition, the writers deliberately avoided the truth and mimicked the documented anti-Muslim cottage industry south of the border.

Rather than educate, their article misled readers by suggesting associations between known terrorist groups and Canadian Muslim organizations that have roundly condemned terrorism and extremism.

Since 2000, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has engaged with fellow Canadians, promoting active citizenship and outreach. As a mainstream organization, we have worked tirelessly, educating Canadian Muslims about their rights and responsibilities, building mutual understanding between communities, participating in major public inquiries and appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada.

We participate in important coalitions with respected organizations such as Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to uphold fundamental rights and the rule of law -- indeed, to help make Canada an even better place for all.

NCCM's entire body of work is public and we have consistently denounced all forms of violent extremism and specifically condemned terror groups such as al-Qaida and Hamas. No amount of mudslinging will change these facts.

Apparently, this was not enough to escape the shameful suggestion NCCM is among the "terrorists in our midst." Why? The writers absurdly claim NCCM's predecessor organization, CAIR-CAN, was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, a foreign political group. This is patently false. The public record shows our organization was launched in July 2000 in Ottawa by prominent Canadian Muslims led by Globe and Mail columnist Dr. Sheema Khan.

The writers then base their shoddy claims on an obscure document dated May 1991. This 23-year-old document featured one person's ravings about "sabotaging" western civilization and contained a list of American Muslim groups in existence at that time.

Some claim this document was the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood's plan in America, but experts such as George Washington University's dean of the School of Public Affairs, Michael E. Brown, say "(n)obody has ever produced any evidence that the document was more than something produced by the daydream of one enthusiast."

How this document has anything to do with NCCM is beyond any comprehension of reality.

Yet, this single, two-decade-old article has now taken on a role analogous to that of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It has been used by far-right conspiracy theorists and their sympathizers to suggest an all-out Muslim plot to subvert Canada and the United States.

But Eisen and Quiggin are not alone in dressing up false statements as facts.

Earlier this year, NCCM sent an open letter urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reconsider inviting an individual to officially accompany him on his visit to the Middle East because that person had publicly endorsed two prolific anti-Muslim campaigners.

Rather than address our legitimate concern, the prime minister's spokesman tried to silence us with an egregious smear by saying NCCM has "documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas." When confronted, the PMO has remained tight-lipped about their dangerous accusation.

We subsequently issued a legal notice for defamation to the PMO. Any level-headed Canadian would do the same.

As noted, NCCM has consistently condemned terrorism and terror groups and openly advocates pluralism and a human rights agenda. How then could we be associated with such a group?

The writers seem to want people to believe NCCM is "tied" to Hamas through a "Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy" of which we and Canadian Muslims are unaware. The ludicrous nature of their claim instead speaks volumes about them and their intentions.

Eisen, like many Muslims in Canada and abroad, has suffered personal loss from al-Qaida's terrorism. He has spoken publicly about it with the prime minister and purportedly shares a close relationship with the governing Conservatives.

This, however, does not justify smearing us and other Canadian Muslims with the tar of terrorism any more than it would justify saying all Catholics are stealth supporters of IRA-style terror. Such a divisive approach only plays into the hands of extremists.

Recall the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was an anti-Semitic hoax claiming a Jewish plan for global domination. It was an extremely perilous lie as history attests. Surely, we have learned much from that time.

Whether talking about Jews or Muslims, there is no conspiracy for societal domination. Suggesting as much is more than just false and offensive -- it is outright dangerous and it should be shunned.

Canadians deserve a basic standard of evidence and honest debate from both our elected leaders and our media instead of peddling baseless claims that spread fear and suspicion.

Ihsaan Gardee is the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM).

From Prisons to Black Sites, US Hand in Global Torture Exposed

Amnesty International report on global torture exposes inhumane acts perpetrated by United States

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer
(Photo: Bob Jagendorf / creative commons)

Thirty years after ratifying the UN Convention Against Torture, the U.S. government has dodged accountability for perpetrating torture in domestic prisons and CIA black sites and embroiling foreign states in inhumane acts.

So finds a report on global torture released Tuesday by human rights organization Amnesty International. According to the study, torture and abuse have been reported in at least 141 countries around the world in the past five years.

A survey conducted by Amnesty found that 44 percent of people across the world are afraid they would be in danger of torture if taken into state custody in their country.

(Photo: Mellowbox / Flickr Creative Commons)


In the United States, 32 percent of respondents expressed such a fear—which, according to the report, has merit.

"In some maximum security isolation or segregation facilities across the USA, many thousands of inmates are held in solitary confinement in small cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Many have little access to natural light or out-of-cell recreation time which amounts to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment," reads the study.

U.S. torture is not confined within its borders. "The U.S. government is also failing to ensure accountability for torture and enforced disappearances committed in the context of counter-terrorism operations. No one responsible for the use of interrogation techniques such as 'water-boarding,' prolonged sleep deprivation, and stress positions in Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-run secret detention centres around the world has been brought to justice. The U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence has conducted a review of the now-terminated CIA programme, but its 6,000-plus page report remains classified."

Rebecca Gordon, author of Mainstreaming Torture and lecturer at University of San Francisco, told Common Dreams that the U.S. climate for torture has only grown more permissive since the beginning of the War on Terror. "One of the things we've seen polls show that almost 13 years out from September 11th, 2001, people are more willing to approve of torture as a tool of 'security' than a decade ago," she said.

The report states that the U.S. has involved other countries in its acts of torture: "Torture and ill-treatment has also been documented in parts of the European Union (EU), with some countries also failing to effectively investigate allegations of complicity in torture carried out in the context of U.S.-led counter-terrorism operations," states the report.

According to Gordon, "U.S. pressure on European countries to participate in housing CIA black sites and allow their airports to be used for renditions has corrupted a number of European governments in their stance on torture. One of the effects of torture by the United States—a country universally (if not accurately) recognized as a democracy—is when that country participates in torture in a quasi public way, it creates a legitimation of torture as a practice."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Supreme Court of Canada hearing tomorrow on whether right to strike has constitutional protection

NUPGE will appear as intevernor arguing that the right to strike as referred to in the Charter should be interpreted based on Canada's obligations under international labour law.


Ottawa (15 May 2014) — The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a historic case on May 16 on whether the right to strike is a constitutionally protected right under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Right-to-strike case from Saskatchewan reaches the Supreme Court

The case centres around a 2008 Saskatchewan law, the Public Service Essential Services Act (PSESA), which the government said was necessary to ensure essential services are maintained during a strike of public employees. However, PSESA's definition of essential services was so broad that practically any public service employee could be designated as an essential worker and therefore not eligible to exercise the right to strike. For all intent and purposes, the legislation took away the right to strike for almost all public service workers in the province of Saskatchewan because it made strikes in the public service workplaces totally ineffectual.

Numerous unions in the province, under the umbrella of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), initiated a court challenge, arguing the legislation violated members' freedom of association rights under Section 2 (d) of the Charter. The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench agreed and struck down the law as unconstitutional in 2012. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reversed that decision in 2013.

NUPGE granted intervenor status; will focus on Canada's obligations under international law

In 2009 the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) submitted a complaint against the PSESA to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Geneva-based UN body responsible for establishing and monitoring international labour standards. The ILO strongly condemned the legislation as violating ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association, which was ratified by Canada and all provincial and territorial governments in 1972.

NUPGE is one of 14 unions granted intervenor status on this case by the Supreme Court, the largest number of unions ever to appear on a case before the Supreme Court. NUPGE's intervention will focus on Canada's obligations under international law. 

"We are proud to be intervening on such an important case for labour rights," says James Clancy, NUPGE National President. "Our long and consistent efforts organizing against anti-labour legislation is a testament to our philosphy that labour rights are human rights. Canada's signature must mean something on international laws. Our governments have responsibilities that cannot be ignored and we look forward to putting our case forward tomorrow with the other intervening unions."

Well-known and respected human rights lawyer Paul Champ, representing NUPGE, will point out the Canadian government's repeated claim that the adoption of Canada's Charter is one of the means by which the government has implemented international human rights treaties into domestic law. He will argue thatmany of the provisions in the Charter were modelled on international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the ILO's Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association. All these international instruments recognize the right too strike as a fundamental human right and Canada is a signatory to each of them.

This hearing is the third major labour rights case the Supreme Court of Canada will have heard this year. In February it heard a case on whether the right to join a union is constitutionally protected and a case on whether workers in Canada have the right to collective bargaining without substantial interference from government legislative actions. All three rulings are expected in 2015 and will likely determine the degree of constitutional protection Canada's Charter provides to a wide range of labour rights.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

Students real target of Hudak cuts to school support staff – PC cuts sound the death knell for full-day kindergarten, says CUPE Ontario President

MAY 15, 2014


Education cuts proposed today by  PC leader Tim Hudak put students’ health and safety at risk, jeopardize student achievement, and will effectively kill the full-day kindergarten program that has proven to be a boon to families across the province, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“Cutting 9,700 school support staff will hurt students, and Tim Hudak knows the students who are already at risk are the ones who will be hurt most by his plans,” said Hahn. “He is literally talking about decimating the number of support staff – the custodians, school secretaries, library technicians, psychologists, and maintenance workers who keep our schools clean, operating efficiently and keep our students safe.”

Hudak’s plan would see massive cuts to the people who support our most vulnerable children across the system, including educational assistants and child and youth workers. The Tory proposal will also mean fewer early childhood educators (ECEs) working to deliver full-day kindergarten programs for Ontario’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

“Families will be particularly incensed about the cuts to ECEs and teaching staff in the full-day kindergarten program. These changes would completely undermine the educational and developmental aspect of the play-based curriculum,” said Hahn.

“It would, in short, devastate the program, while also compromising safety. We are, after all, talking about children who, in many cases, are under four years of age.”

Hudak’s proposals for a reduction of 9,700 school support staff come on top of the 100,000 public sector job cuts they previously announced which will lead to longer wait lists and real cuts to many of the vital public services people across Ontario rely on every day, Hahn said. 

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 905-739-3999 Ext. 240

Students real target of Hudak cuts to school support staff – PC cuts sound the death knell for full-day kindergarten, says CUPE Ontario President

MAY 15, 2014


Education cuts proposed today by  PC leader Tim Hudak put students’ health and safety at risk, jeopardize student achievement, and will effectively kill the full-day kindergarten program that has proven to be a boon to families across the province, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“Cutting 9,700 school support staff will hurt students, and Tim Hudak knows the students who are already at risk are the ones who will be hurt most by his plans,” said Hahn. “He is literally talking about decimating the number of support staff – the custodians, school secretaries, library technicians, psychologists, and maintenance workers who keep our schools clean, operating efficiently and keep our students safe.”

Hudak’s plan would see massive cuts to the people who support our most vulnerable children across the system, including educational assistants and child and youth workers. The Tory proposal will also mean fewer early childhood educators (ECEs) working to deliver full-day kindergarten programs for Ontario’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

“Families will be particularly incensed about the cuts to ECEs and teaching staff in the full-day kindergarten program. These changes would completely undermine the educational and developmental aspect of the play-based curriculum,” said Hahn.

“It would, in short, devastate the program, while also compromising safety. We are, after all, talking about children who, in many cases, are under four years of age.”

Hudak’s proposals for a reduction of 9,700 school support staff come on top of the 100,000 public sector job cuts they previously announced which will lead to longer wait lists and real cuts to many of the vital public services people across Ontario rely on every day, Hahn said. 

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 905-739-3999 Ext. 240

Students real target of Hudak cuts to school support staff – PC cuts sound the death knell for full-day kindergarten, says CUPE Ontario President

MAY 15, 2014


Education cuts proposed today by  PC leader Tim Hudak put students’ health and safety at risk, jeopardize student achievement, and will effectively kill the full-day kindergarten program that has proven to be a boon to families across the province, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“Cutting 9,700 school support staff will hurt students, and Tim Hudak knows the students who are already at risk are the ones who will be hurt most by his plans,” said Hahn. “He is literally talking about decimating the number of support staff – the custodians, school secretaries, library technicians, psychologists, and maintenance workers who keep our schools clean, operating efficiently and keep our students safe.”

Hudak’s plan would see massive cuts to the people who support our most vulnerable children across the system, including educational assistants and child and youth workers. The Tory proposal will also mean fewer early childhood educators (ECEs) working to deliver full-day kindergarten programs for Ontario’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

“Families will be particularly incensed about the cuts to ECEs and teaching staff in the full-day kindergarten program. These changes would completely undermine the educational and developmental aspect of the play-based curriculum,” said Hahn.

“It would, in short, devastate the program, while also compromising safety. We are, after all, talking about children who, in many cases, are under four years of age.”

Hudak’s proposals for a reduction of 9,700 school support staff come on top of the 100,000 public sector job cuts they previously announced which will lead to longer wait lists and real cuts to many of the vital public services people across Ontario rely on every day, Hahn said. 

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316

Mary Unan, CUPE Communications, 905-739-3999 Ext. 240

Amnesty International report details worldwide torture

By Thomas Gaist 

15 May 2014

A report released by Amnesty International on Tuesday details the persistence and growth of torture in countries around the world over the past 30 years. “Torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing,” the authors conclude.

Populations in many countries face torture, the report said, “at every stage of people’s interaction with police or security services, from being taken into custody through to detention and prison.” The report also notes frequent use of torture, including forms of sexual abuse, against children and young people by police forces.

Surveys conducted by Amnesty show that large numbers live in terror of being tortured, with 44 percent of people surveyed from 21 countries worldwide saying they feared being tortured if arrested by police or security personnel. Countries singled out include Mexico, Nigeria, Morocco, Philippines and Uzbekistan.

Speaking to the media, the report’s author acknowledged that a significant factor in the widespread use of torture has been the policies of the American government. “Since the so-called war against terrorism, the use of torture, particularly in the United States and their sphere of influence…has got so much more normalized as part of national security expectations,” said Salil Shetty of Amnesty.

However, Amnesty focused its analysis on a number of peripheral countries, though many of these have close relations with the major capitalist powers. In Nigeria, the report documents the case of Moses Akatugba, who was arrested in 2005 at age 16 by police. The police proceeded to beat him, hang him by his limbs for hours, and shoot him in the hand, in order to force him to sign a confession for a robbery he did not commit.

“The pain of torture is unbearable. I never thought I would be alive till this day. The pain I went through in the hands of the officers was unimaginable. In my whole life, I have never been subjected to such inhuman treatment,” Akatugba said in testimony for the report.

In another case detailed in the report, Alfreda Disbarro was picked up by Philippine police, falsely accused of selling drugs, and taken at gunpoint to a police headquarters. Disbarro was brutally beaten as the police sought to extract a confession, with her head slammed against a wall, her eyes poked, and a mop shoved into her mouth.

Amnesty cites numerous psychological symptoms resulting from torture, including “anxiety disorders; depression; irritability; shame and humiliation; memory impairment; reduced capacity to concentrate; headaches; sleep disturbance and nightmares; emotional instability; sexual problems; amnesia; self-mutilation; preoccupation with suicide; and social isolation.”

Notably, Greece and Argentina registered the highest levels of opposition to torture, with between 85 and 90 percent rejecting its use under all circumstances. Both countries experienced CIA-backed military dictatorships that used systematic torture and murder to maintain power.

In Greece, after seizing power in a 1967 coup d’état, the US-backed junta quickly set up torture centers where the Greek military police practiced a range of tortures, including ripping out hair from the head and pubic regions, jumping on stomachs, pulling out toenails and fingernails, and shoving of clothes soaked in excrement down throats.

With the full support of the US government, the regime of Jorge Videla in Argentina tortured and murdered more than 20,000 workers and left-wing militants from 1976 to 1983, as part of its own “war on terrorism.”

The report references the use of solitary confinement by the US, writing, “In some maximum security isolation or segregation facilities across the USA, many thousands of inmates are held in solitary confinement in small cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. Many have little access to natural light or out-of-cell recreation time which amounts to cruel inhuman or degrading treatment.”

However, Amnesty treats the use of torture by the US government as an unfortunate policy mistake, largely in the past, rather than as an organic outgrowth of its geo-strategy.

In reality, the US is a principal practitioner and promoter of torture. After the September 11 attacks, the US created a network of torture centers, known as “black sites,” spanning numerous countries including Thailand, Afghanistan, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, where prisoners were routinely disappeared. The CIA itself perfected “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

During its occupation of Iraq, the US employed savage torture against the people of Iraq, most notoriously in the US-run prisons at Abu Ghraib.

President Barak Obama has further entrenched the torture regime, shutting down all investigations of abuses carried out under the previous administration and quashing countless lawsuits against the perpetrators. While the black sites have supposedly been shut down, Guantanamo Bay remains open, while the government has shifted its tactics in the direction of drone assassination.

The minimization of the role of the US imperialism in supporting torture and torture regimes is accompanied, on the part of Amnesty International, by a deliberate effort to single out regimes targeted for overthrow by the US.

For instance, Amnesty writes of “abuses against protesters and opposition activists in Russia, Azerbaijan and, most visibly, in Ukraine, in response to the EuroMaydan demonstrations. It is estimated that over a thousand people were injured as a result of the use of excessive force by police, including the shooting of more than a hundred individuals.”

In fact, the sniper fire that killed hundreds on the Maiden was directed by the US-backed, neofascist opposition forces that now control the reigns of the security apparatus. These same forces have, with continuous support from the US, since carried out fresh atrocities including the massacre of more than a hundred people at the Trade Union House in Odessa.

With respect to Syria, Amnesty wrote, “Reports of torture and other ill-treatment in Syria have skyrocketed since protests in March 2011 drew a brutal response from the authorities.”

Unmentioned is the fact that US-backed, al Qaeda-linked Syrian opposition militias have regularly carried out summary mass executions and torture, and that the internal conflict was fomented by the US as part of its drive to dominate the entire Middle Eastern region.

Despite its occasional criticism of US policy, Amnesty International has close ties to Western governments and wealthy foundations. NGO Monitor noted in a 2012 report that the agency had received millions of pounds from Britain’s Department for International Development since 2008, as well as millions of euros from other governments in recent years. Financial reports show that Amnesty receives support from billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and other similar entities.

Amnesty’s executive director from 2011 to 2013, Suzanne Nossel, previously served as deputy assistant secretary for international organizations at the US State Department. Nossel also worked at as a vice president for the Wall Street Journal from 2005 to 2007.

Pamela Geller Is Back With Another Anti-Islam Metro Ad

newgellermetroad.jpg
Via Pamela Geller. 
In 2012, anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative funded ads throughout the Metro system with a quote from the Quran next to a photo of the burning Twin Towers. Ads that cost Metro $35,000 over a failed effort to block them. 

Now she's back with another awful ad, this one claiming that "Islamic jew-hatred" is "in the Quran" as a response to an ad about "Israel's occupation" from the American Muslims for Palestine. From Geller's blog:
The DC Metro transit authority made multiple demands for the substantiation of every claim in our ads before they would accept the ad, and I, of course, happily provided that substantiation. The libelous American Muslims for Palestine antisemitic ad (below) did not have to provide substantiation. The MTA had no problem with their antisemitism. And you cannot provide evidence of a smear and a bigoted lie. But it is proof of the AMP’s hate. Our ads are in response to the vicious Jew-hating ads that American Muslims for Palestine unleashed on Washington, DC Metro buses last month. And might I add, had we not sued and won in NYC and DC for violating our First Amendment rights when they tried to refuse our previous ads, our ads might never have gone up.
Because of the 2012 court ruling stating that Geller's ads are protected speech, a Metro spokesperson said they declined to challenge them this time around. But they do sport the disclaimer: "This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. Advertising space is a designated public forum and does not imply WMATA's endorsement of any views expressed."

For the uninitiated, here's a description of Geller from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled her Stop Islamization of America foundation a hate group:
Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She's relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the "love child" of Malcolm X. She makes no pretense of being learned in Islamic studies, leaving the argumentative heavy lifting to her Stop Islamization of America partner Robert Spencer. Geller has mingled comfortably with European racists and fascists, spoken favorably of South African racists, defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps. She has taken a strong pro-Israel stance to the point of being sharply critical of Jewish liberals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --- 316 Days: Stall Tactics Used to Delay Khaled Al-Qazzaz’s Court Appearance

May 14, 2014


Khaled Al-Qazzaz was scheduled to appear today before a judge to rule on his release. Khaled was transferred early morning from Tora maximum security prison to the court house where he was held in a holding cell for several hours. Around mid-day he was placed back in a prison van and returned to Tora prison without appearing before the judge.

The courts have informed his legal team that the case has been re-scheduled to Saturday May 17. No reason was given.

The family is concerned because this may be a stalling tactic in order to build a fabricated case before the May 17 deadline in which a judge may rule in favor of Khaled’s release as he has not been accused with any wrong doing or charged.

Khaled has been held for 316 days of which 168 days are considered, under international law, “enforced disappearance” and are not being recognised by the Egyptian courts. In a note Khaled wrote on April 27, 2014 he has expressed concern. “I fear that new charges might be added to justify this very complicated situation” said Qazzaz.

Khaled worked, like so many others, to build a new democratic Egypt, exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. He became a staffer of the first democratically elected government and for this he was detained.

Member of Parliament Marc Garneau, the Liberal Critic of Foreign Affairs, is currently on a trip visiting several countries in the Middle East. On May 14 and 15 he will be visiting Egypt and meeting with officials from the current military-backed Egyptian government.  Sarah Attia, Khaled Al-Qazzaz's Canadian wife, met with MP Marc Garneau in Ottawa and has asked for his support.

Sarah is urging MP Marc Garneau to tell the military-backed Egyptian government that Canada will not tolerate this injustice any longer, and demand her husband’s release.

Background

Khaled Al-Qazzaz, a permanent resident of Canada and father of four young Canadian children, has been unlawfully detained in Egypt for 315 days. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has been held without charges for nearly one year now. Khaled currently spends his days and nights in solitary confinement in a cramped insect infested cell slightly larger than a broom closet in one of Egypt’s most notorious prisons.

According to Egyptian legal due process, after 5 months of detainment without charge the detainee must appear before a judge who decides whether to release the individual or to further extend the detention. Khaled has been detained since July 3, 2013, the day of the military coup, but the Egyptian authorities refuse to recognize the 168 days in which he was held in an undisclosed location without legal process. Khaled was transferred to Tora Prison on December 17 and as such, his 5 months of detainment in Tora will expire on May 17, 2014.

Khaled’s court appearance has been delayed twice, first scheduled on May 10 and then scheduled for May 14.

Further information can be found at www.freekhaledalqazzaz.com

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For more information:

Ahmad Attia
647-292-5049

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Free Community Dinner and Teach-in Disability Justice

How failing to address colonialism, slavery and white supremacy in mental health maintains the racist foundations of Western Psychiatry

Location: Unceded Algonquin Territory, Glebe Community Centre, 175 Third Avenue, Scotton Hall

Date and time: Thursday May 22nd 6:30pm-9:00pm

In 2011 Abla Abdelhadi was criminalized, tortured, assaulted, forcibly hospitalized then legally charged for being a Palestinian womyn with a mental illness in the USA. Since then and through the group she founded Justice for Abla, Abla Abdelhadi has been struggling against her criminalization and educating activist communities about disability justice. With the help of Nadia Kanani's research Abla was able to understand that in fact psychiatric labelling, treatment, institutionalization and the lived experience of racialized psychiatric survivors has been shaped by colonization, slavery, scientific racism, eugenicist discourses and imperialism and exclusionary immigration policies in the settler colonial states of Canada and the USA. Justice for Abla understands that Abla's experience of police and state violence for being a racialized mentally ill womyn happened on stolen Indigenous lands, within the context of on-going colonialism. As a Palestinian womyn she understands that as a settler on these stolen Indigenous lands she must support the struggles of queer, trans, two-spirit Indigenous womyn and girls. She has been privileged to work closely with and receive so much support from Families of Sisters in Spirit which supports families of missing and murdered Indigenous womyn and girls. Families of Sisters in Spirit understands that seeking “mental health support” for the intergenerational traumas of colonization, residential schools, the 60s scoop, missing and murdered womyn, and on-going erasure and colonization of Indigenous peoples from Western Psychiatry and the Psychiatric Institutions that were used to further the colonization process is not an option. 

Justice for Abla and Families of Sisters in Spirit in collaboration with Nadia Kanani would like to invite you to join us for a free vegan/vegetarian community dinner and discussion of how important it is to have a disability justice framework where the lived experiences of colonized and racialized people with disabilities is understood in intersectional ways--we cannot address mental health and racism separately. 

Hosted by Justice for Abla and Families of Sisters in Spirit with the support of OPIRG-GRIPO

This event is wheelchair accessible.

Supreme Court Harkat decision maintains fundamentally unfair process for non-citizens

Supporters at Supreme Court of Canada today

See also: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mohamed-harkat-security-certificate-upheld-by-supreme-court-1.2642459

May 14, 2014

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) are disappointed with the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Harkat, which leaves in place a fundamentally unfair process that relies on secret evidence in deciding whether to deport a non-citizen, potentially to a risk of torture. 

In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the security certificate scheme, finding that Special Advocates can adequately compensate for the failure to share with the persons concerned some of the evidence used against them.

The ICLMG and the CCR regret that this decision leaves in place unequal protections for non-citizens' basic rights. When these rights are at stake for citizens, such as in criminal proceedings, we do not tolerate the use of secret evidence. Non-citizens deserve an equal opportunity to know and respond to the evidence used against them. The Court did not engage with the discriminatory aspects of these provisions. The Court also failed to refer to international human rights law, which should provide a crucial framework for Canadian law.

Decisions made using secret evidence in immigration proceedings have dramatic consequences for the individual: a person found inadmissible on security grounds cannot make a refugee claim and is only eligible for a much narrower risk review, with a higher standard of proof. There is therefore a real possibility that affected persons will be sent back to face persecution, in violation of Canada's international human rights obligations. Because the definition of security inadmissibility in Canadian immigration law is very broad, those affected may include people who have never engaged in or promoted violence and who represent no threat to Canada's security. 


In its ruling, the Court places the responsibility of ensuring a fair process on the judge hearing the case. This is an extremely challenging task, in a context where a person, whose life may be at stake, does not have access to all the evidence. This challenge is faced not only by judges, but also by members of the Immigration and Refugee Board, as similar proceedings involving secret evidence are heard there. 

The ICLMG and the CCR welcome the emphasis placed by the Court on ensuring, within the security certificate scheme, that the process is fair and that only evidence that would (not just could) endanger national security is excluded. Also welcome is the note that Supreme Court hearings should be held in public. 

The ICLMG and the CCR intervened jointly in the case, represented by Barbara Jackman, Sharry Aiken and Andrew Brouwer. 

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For more information, contact:

Anne Dagenais Guertin
Communications and Research Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
613-241-5298 ext. 2 communications@iclmg.ca

About the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

The ICLMG is a national coalition of Canadian civil society organizations that was established in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The coalition brings together some 38 NGOs, unions, professional associations, faith groups, environmental organizations, human rights and civil liberties advocates, as well as groups representing immigrant and refugee communities in Canada. The mandate of ICLMG is to monitor the Canadian government around anti-terrorism and national security measures, and to defend the civil liberties and human rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, federal and provincial laws, and international human rights instruments.


ICLMG
Roch Tassé
National Coordinator 613-241-5298 ext. 1
coordination@iclmg.ca


ICLMG
Anne Dagenais Guertin
Communications and Research Coordinator 613-241-5298 ext. 2
communications@iclmg.ca

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reject All Attempts to Memorialize Canada's Criminal Role in Afghanistan

Harper Dictatorship Pays Tribute to Destruction of Afghanistan


May 13, 2014



On May 9, the Harper dictatorship said it is "commemorating the end of our country's military mission in Afghanistan and paying tribute to the fallen, to the sacrifices of the wounded and to military families." According to a government press release, "Canada's mission in Afghanistan is the most significant military engagement with respect to the number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed since the Korean War." It goes on to enumerate the number it says were killed in the mission, including civilians. Pointedly, this figure does not include those who have committed suicide since returning from their deployment. It certainly does not mention the thousands of Afghan civilians killed by Canadian or other NATO forces in the 13 years of illegal war and occupation.

Windsor action against closing of Veterans Affairs offices Jan 31, 2014 

The government also announced it "will construct a national memorial to Canada's mission in Afghanistan and add the dates of the Afghanistan mission on the National War Memorial." The monument, which will "reflect values Canadians hold dear and echo the nation's pride in our country's efforts and accomplishments in Afghanistan," will be unveiled in 2017.

This is shameless self-serving PR activity by the Harper government. It is desperate to resurrect its tattered reputation of being “pro-soldier” and “pro-veteran” while the very soldiers and veterans it professes to support do not perceive it as such. Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino, who is seen by veterans as an arrogant bully, was featured prominently on the day flanking Harper, wearing medals.

Harper is straightforwardly accused by soldiers and veterans as being pro-war and aggression. The Harper government uses occasions such as the so-called Afghanistan Memorial Day to glorify war. By parading tanks and helicopters, it also promotes the militarization of civilian public institutions such as Parliament. Meanwhile, it treats the human beings lost to war, whether Canadians or those from other countries, as mere statistics. 

These activities by the Harper dictatorship are anathema to the anti-war spirit of the majority of Canadians who oppose the war in Afghanistan and Canada's role in it. They are an insidious attempt to disinform Canadians about the sheer illegality of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in the name of the highest ideals.



Windsor action, one of many across Canada which opposed participation in the war in Afghanistan

Afghanistan was a NATO mission, neither authorized by Parliament nor endorsed by the Canadian people. Canada’s military was at most times under U.S. command and integrated within the U.S. military. Paying tribute to this on the National War Memorial, or by building a new monument to this NATO mission, is to try to assert that being part of the U.S. military apparatus will be the norm for the future. It is no coincidence that this rushed ceremony takes place right as Canada sends F-18s as part of NATO sabre-rattling against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine.



The values espoused by the Harper government, which it claims represent some unassailable ideals that "Canadians hold dear" could not be further from what Canadians fight for everyday -- peace, justice, the rights of all and the power to exercise control over their affairs. The Harper government's values are neo-liberal in both content and presentation, whereby anti-human, anti-social and pro-war imperialist aims are couched in terms of their opposite -- high ideals of humanitarianism, responsibility to protect, etc.


Furthermore, the memorial activities over which the Harper government presided on May 9 are a snivelling message to the U.S. imperialists that this is a government that does not serve the public interest or uphold international law and is offering up its youth as cannon-fodder for the commission of future war crimes. It must not pass!


These memorial activities, which co-opt the memory of those killed and wounded in Afghanistan to sanitize the commission of war crimes, are meant to destroy Canadians' prevailing anti-war sentiment so that they do not take up the pressing need to empower themselves and establish an anti-war government which would remove itself from the clutches of NATO so as to affirm Canadians' right to decide their domestic and foreign relations. Such a government would ensure that Canada is a force for peace in the world by upholding the principles of sovereignty of all countries, and the resolution of conflicts through peaceful, diplomatic means.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Are Millennial Muslims Doomed To Become Unmosqued?

May 12, 2014 By Hind Makki
Unique among Western and industrialized nations, the US boasts a high rate of people who say they believe in God. Not all of these people regularly go to church, synagogue , mosque or temple, but over 90% of adult Americans say they believe in a Divine Being. The US is the most religiously diverse country in the world and the most religiously devout country in the West. I believe that this is because religion has remained in the realm of the marketplace of ideas since the time the first Puritans – who after all left Britain to preserve what they believed was their right to separate church from state – arrived on American shores. Their whole purpose in leaving the UK was so that they can protect their freedom to practice their religion the way they saw fit – not the way their government or any other legislative body saw fit.


Indeed, the Protestant Reformation, of which the Puritans were inheritors and champions, could rather simplistically be explained as a religious revolution that occurred when an increasingly educated class of citizens decided that they would no longer accept what they saw as interference by the institution of the Catholic Church into the religious life of believers. Top down institutions, be they absolute monarchies, or the papal system, inherently had a corrupting influence on the moral beliefs of regular citizens. The early European colonizers of the US had as their main moral objective the protection of church and state. This resulted in a peculiarly American form of creating religious communities for the people, by the people and of the people.

Modern Americans – including Muslims – are not immune to this concept that religious congregations have the right to identify, implement and protect their own specific needs, even if that means breaking away from existing religious congregations and developing their own communities that fit their own needs*. The Mormons and the Amish are prime examples of this. American Jewry split into three schools of thought in the 19th and 20th centuries as a matter of survival. American Catholics today differ greatly on important matters from the official Vatican stance. And the city of Providence, RI was founded and named based on this principle.

Traditionally, American religious groups either splintered, separated or mutated into something new when congregations began to feel that religious institutions were no longer serving their needs. Indeed, this history is what led to the Black church, and later the Black mosque under the leadership of al Marhoom Imam Warith ad Deen Muhammad, to become the moral compass of this country. Black liberation theologyhas always held a microscope to the realities on the ground in America and called out American society for not living up to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution and enshrined in our legal system.

This is the religious culture that has framed the understanding of Millennial Muslims to their relationship with religious institutions – whether they are converts, children of converts, children of immigrants or children of second-generation immigrant-origin parents. Framing American religious culture in this way helps us to understand the phenomenon of unmosquing, the rise of 3rd spaces, and ultimately, can help institutions develop religious communities that may lead to the remosquing of Millennial Muslims.

Millennial Muslims are living in a time and a place where diversity and freedom of expression are celebrated as a virtue. Where sexism, racism, classism and ethnocentrism are legally, officially and culturally discouraged. Where social media has given an outlet & platform to marginalized voices and democratized public discourse. And their peers are leaving religion altogether for the first time in American history (over a quarter of Millennials say they are “nones” in religious affiliation). And they are the first group of immigrant-origin Muslims to be part of multi-generational Muslim families, mosques & institutions.

In the years after 9/11 I noticed something peculiar in my own generation (I straddle the line between Generation X and the Millennials, and here I’m talking about both groups). In any case, what I noticed is that younger, American born or raised, well-educated working professionals, seemed to be leaving the mosque in droves. Their community service, artistic endeavors, political activity and even spiritual revival occurs outside of the mosque. Though many mosques continue to be sustained by constant waves of immigrants, the fact remains that many mosques have not been able to cultivate generational loyalty. Further, many American Muslims between the ages of 18-40 live where their jobs and universities are; not necessarily where their parents raised them. As they criss-cross the country, Millennials are looking for welcoming spiritual communities and don’t join the mosques that are unable to provide spiritual care for them. Before we talk of the remosquing of these generations, which I do think is critical, we must identify and acknowledge the reasons why Millennials and Gen Xers are becoming unmosqued. Among them are:

Mosques are simply not welcoming for many people who don’t see financial or leadership transparency

Racism & ethnocentrism are off-putting to Millennials who are the most racially diverse American generation in history


Young people don’t feel heard by mosque leaders


Women’s spaces are typically unwelcoming


The prevalence of spiritual abuse from leaders ill-equipped to handle social problems of their congregants

I’m aware that many in my generation are keen to blame. The Uncles for everything that’s wrong with mosques and walk away from mosques. Many are still involved in the Muslim community by developing and building other critically necessary institutions, shaping new narratives, deepening the creative arts, challenging Islamophobia, and so on. As the daughter of Muslim activists who’ve sacrificed all their lives for the sake of our communities, that is not my position; I know I stand on the shoulders of giants. I try to follow the Prophetic tradition that teaches us, “He is not of my community who does not respect the elderly nor show kindness to the young.”

However, I have faced my own difficulties regarding mosques, not least because of my gender. Based on my experiences, the physical spaces women & girls occupy reflects the value mosque leaders believe they add to the community. I run a website called Side Entrance and this year, my goal has been to focus on solutions. To that end, I have been polling women about what it would take to get them to remosque. One woman – the daughter of an imam, and who is currently is on the board of her local Islamic school) told me that when she was a teenager, her mosque was a refuge for the youth. They would meet there for fun. Play basketball, have a poetry slam, enjoy ice cream after Maghrib. But leadership changed and the tone of the mosque changed along with it. The mosque was no longer Dar Assalam, an abode of peace, for these youth. So they left and haven’t returned.

Because I don’t want to only highlight the difficulties of this situation, and I do believe that mosques must play a stronger role in providing spiritual care to American Muslims, I’ve come up with some modest practical steps to take that might help create a welcoming abode of peace by. Please share your thoughts, add your own suggestions and give feedback in the comments area below.

Modest Practical Steps for Mosques to Take

1. Develop and offer climate surveys, asking young people what their needs are & try to implement them

2. Include young people in decision-making committees, or facilitate a way to have their voices be heard

3. Identify, train & hire imams who can offer pastoral care to the community

4. Diversify your sense of community – once a month have a congregation or imam swap with a mosque that has a different ethnicity

5. Make sure khutbah topics are relevant by soliciting feedback

6. Incorporate community service & interfaith activities as part of your mosque ethos

Millennials feel that that religious leaders are not equipped to offer pastoral care for a generation of Muslims dealing with mental or drug problems, domestic abuse, a rising divorce rate, generational gap between youth and parents, and an organized Islamophobia cottage industry. Millennials are flocking to 3rd spaces like Ta’leef Collective in California or the Nur Center in Virginia because mosques are no longer abodes of peace for them. If existing mosques are interested in cultivating generational loyalty among American Muslims, then reimagining how they can welcome back Gen Xers and their children, and become abodes of peace for Millennials must be a priority. Because this generation of American Muslims, and all those who will come after, are certainly operating within the framework of that peculiar American religious culture that encourages the creation of religious congregations for the people, by the people and of the people.

*This piece, based on my remarks at the 2014 ISNA Mosque Forum, is the second post in my Remosquing series. You can read the first post here.