Man arrested with explosives outside MI mosque praises McVeigh

http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/01/30/michigan_mosque_charges_roger_stockham/index.html

Sunday, Jan 30, 2011 17:18 ET

Man arrested with explosives outside Mich. mosque

A 63-year-old is arrested on explosives charges in a mosque parking lot after reportedly making anti-Muslim remarks

By Justin Elliot

Roger Stockham, a 63-year-old California man, was arrested on explosives charges last week after police allegedly found him with M-80s in the trunk of his car in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America, a Dearborn, Michigan, mosque.

Stockham was arraigned on Wednesday on one count of false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possession of explosives with unlawful intent, police said in a statement. Bail has been set at $500,000. The chief of police told the Detroit Free Press that Stockham has a history of anti-government feelings and he was attracted to Michigan because of its large Arab and Muslim population.

A spokesman for the Dearborn police told Salon today that no more information is being released and the investigation is ongonig.

But Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Salon some more details of what allegedly happened, according to his conversations with police and mosque officials: He says Stockham had been heard by an employee of a Detroit bar making anti-Muslim remarks, including “describing Muslims as the enemy.” The employee took down Stockham’s license plate and alerted police. When they found him in the mosque parking lot, police found a concealed knife on Stockham and a large amount of fireworks, including M-80 exlposives, in the trunk of his car, Walid says.

He adds that he heard Stockham had praised Timothy McVeigh as a hero; but that and the other details could not be independently confirmed.

Walid says there were roughly 500 people inside the mosque on Monday for a funeral when Stockham was arrested in the parking lot. Asked how the community is reacting, he said:

“I’ve heard a couple of different reactions: What they were saying is that this guy, whether he has some mental instability or not, he could have caused a lot of damage.” And, he added, “if his name was Ali or Muhammed and he did a similar thing at a synogogue, he would have been immediately labeled a domestic terrorist.”

This Web profile of Stockham suggests he is a Vietnam veteran with two children and a granddaughter.  And Talking Points Memo reports on his apparent MySpace page:

 

[H]e writes that he’s happy with how much he’s lived. “Ready for it to be over, but have a policy I contend with often: So long as I am alive, I can’t play dead,” Stockham apparently writes.

He writes that he has “four ex-wives” is “on meds and doing better than my history would predict.” He lists his heroes as Thomas Jefferson and “Tom Payne” [sic].

 

CAIR: Attack on Michigan Mosque Thwarted

BREAKING NEWS

CAIR: Attack on Michigan Mosque Thwarted

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/29/11) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today said that a bias-motivated attack on a Dearborn, Mich., mosque was thwarted by local police.

Law enforcement authorities and officials with the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn reported to CAIR that a white male resident of California was arrested on Monday evening in the mosque’s parking lot while he was in possession of explosive materials. The man is currently being held on $500,000 bond.

“We thank law enforcement authorities for their quick and professional actions in this troubling incident,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of CAIR’s Michigan chapter. “The increased number of bias incidents targeting American Muslim institutions must be addressed by local, state and national officials and law enforcement authorities.”
Walid said that earlier this month, CAIR called on state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate vandalism at a Missouri mosque as a hate crime.

Other recent hate incidents targeting American Muslim institutions and houses of worship have included an arson attack on an Oregon mosque, an arson attack on a mosque in Texas, threats against an Islamic school in Oklahoma, a bias attack outside an Ohio mosque, shots fired outside a New York mosque, an arson attack on the site of a planned mosque in Tennessee, a threat to a previously-bombed Ohio mosque, the defacement of a South Carolina mosque, hate mail sent to mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim organizations in Michigan and Ohio, and a bomb attack at a Florida mosque in May of last year.

The FBI also recently offered a reward for information about a possible bias-motivated blaze in the parking lot of a Louisiana mosque.

Video: Vandals Desecrate Place of Worship

http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext/?nxd_id=383566

SEE: Fla. Mosque Attack Called Terrorism

FBI Meets with Members of S.C. Mosque Defaced with Pork

http://tinyurl.com/2c4alcs

SEE: FBI Says La. Car Blaze May be Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/latest/111831399.html

CAIR: Muslim Woman Reports Attack in Car

http://tinyurl.com/2cyt4x7

Tulsan Accused of Hate Crime Should be Committed

http://tinyurl.com/5vchzuf

Video: Metro Detroit Mosques Receive Hate Mail (CAIR)

Video: Ohio Mosque Received Anti-Muslim E-Mail (CAIR)

SEE: Bombed Cincinnati Mosque Receives New Threat (AP)

http://pluralism.org/news/view/13863

Video: Texas Mosque Vandalism

Video: 5 Teens Arrested After Shot Fired Outside NY Mosque

Video: S.C. Mosque Members Say They’re Victims of a Hate Crime

CAIR is urging American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its “Muslim Community Safety Kit.”

SEE: Muslim Community Safety Kit

http://www.cair.com/ActionCenter/CommunityToolKit.aspx

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational

Subscribe to CAIR’s E-Mail List

http://tinyurl.com/cairsubscribe

Subscribe to CAIR’s Twitter Feed

http://twitter.com/cairnational

Subscribe to CAIR’s YouTube Channel

http://www.youtube.com/cairtv

- END -

CONTACT: CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: dwalid@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com

Comments on crisis in Egypt

http://www.theoaklandpress.com/articles/2011/01/28/news/doc4d434537c2f27350773534.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Oakland County residents, leaders react to Egyptian violence

Published: Friday, January 28, 2011

By CAROL HOPKINS
Of The Oakland Press

The current chaos and protests happening in Egypt are being monitored by many in Oakland County.

“I knew last summer things were getting pretty grim,” said Laura Landolt, Oakland University assistant professor of politics.

Landolt has traveled to Egypt for a decade in her study of human rights.

“The government simply refuses to reform, and at the same time it is having no success in economic development. The people are really frustrated.”

Landolt said Egyptians rioted in the late 1970s, but there has been nothing to match what took place in Cairo Friday when thousands of protesters rioted in what is being called a major escalation in the challenge to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Robert Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit in Bloomfield Hills, said Egypt is an important U.S. ally.

“Members of the Jewish community and the community at large are following events in Egypt because that country is so central to what happens in the Middle East,” he said.

“Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel and controls the strategic Suez Canal.”

Dawud Walid, an American Muslim and executive director of Southfield-based Council on American Islamic Relations, said people should get on the phone to elected officials.

“We should be calling them to urge a strong stance with the (dictatorial) Egyptian government, and telling them to allow the people to protest peacefully and mandate that Egypt bring about immediate (changes) to allow freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of religion,” said Walid, an imam who also urged people to pray for the Egyptians.

He said no free elections have occurred under Mubarak for three decades.

“The people there — Muslims and Christians — have suffered oppression,” he said.

“As Americans, we should uphold democratic aspirations of all people.

“We should know this is a messy process. Our own wasn’t neat and clean.”

Walid said he was following news of the protests on Twitter until the Egyptian government shut down Internet service.

“There is no doubt that social media has given voices to the voiceless,” he said.

“There isn’t one single organization or leader calling people to protest. It’s facilitated by common people active on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.”

Walid was concerned because he had been following a Cairo friend’s Tweets.

“He hasn’t sent anything in several hours,” Walid said Friday.

Roqaya Ashmawey, former editor of the Oakland University Post and former resident of Rochester Hills now living in California, said she has family in Alexandria, Egypt. “We’ve been in touch with them through landlines, since cell phones and Internet usage is out.” 

But despite her concerns for their safety, she said, “I am proud of the Egyptians for finally standing up for themselves absent a foreign – specifically U.S. – intervention, demanding democracy.”

She said she was disappointed that Vice President Joe Biden said Mubarak is not a dictator. She said democratic leaders do not turn off access to the Internet and mobile phones and arrest opposition leaders.

Young man beaten

An incident last summer hasn’t been forgotten by Egyptians, said Landolt.

“A middle-class, 20-something kid, Khaled Saeed, was at an Internet cafe in Alexandria, uploading images of Egyptian police sharing drugs they’d just seized,” said Landolt.

Landolt said as Saeed was on the Web, police came into the cafe and dragged him into the street.

“They beat him to death in front of everybody,” she said.

Landolt estimated the government has 20,000 political prisoners

“The government is very brutal but they never did this to a middle-class person in broad daylight.”

She said human rights activists make up the heart of the protesters.

Saeed’s death brought home the fact that “this could happen to any of us,” Landolt said.

Another factor in the protests is the continuation of “emergency law,” in effect 30 years, she said.

The law suspends all civil and political rights.

Landolt said the U.S. has backed Mubarak during his regime.

“We prefer stability over democracy,” she said.

Landolt said President George W. Bush pressured Egypt to allow democratic reforms.

She wonders if Mubarak may be facing overthrow.

“I think it’s too late for him now (to offer reforms),” she said.

“He could very well be out of power next week.”

***

http://www.detnews.com/article/20110129/NATION/101290357/1020/Metro-residents-riveted-as-turmoil-ensnarls-Egypt

Last Updated: January 29. 2011 1:07AM

Metro residents riveted as turmoil ensnarls Egypt

Kim Kozlowski / The Detroit News

As a nation in the midst of a revolution captivated the world, Aly Lela worried Friday about his family in Egypt, especially his sister, who joined protesters despite being five months pregnant.

Lela, a Rochester Hills resident, tried to discourage his sister from joining the thousands of people demonstrating against the 30-year regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But she said she could not stay home.

“I understood because today is a historical day in modern Egypt,” said Lela, who migrated to the United States 11 years ago. “This day — Jan. 28 — will be remembered for centuries to come.”

For days, widespread turmoil has engulfed Egypt, as residents protested, police swarmed the streets and the government imposed a curfew. Officials shut down Internet access Friday. Violence erupted and killed one person Friday, bringing the death toll to eight this week.

Many local Egyptians were preparing to demonstrate today in front of Dearborn City Hall as they hailed Friday as one of the happiest in their community.

“You’re talking about a 30-year dictatorship rule, and finally the people have had enough and are speaking,” said Shereef Akeel, a Rochester Hills resident and civil rights attorney. “Many people have come here for a better life and have tasted democracy, have tasted what freedom is all about. To see this uprising of a people expressing their will for a change … it is so momentous.”

Democracy in Egypt is also critical to the nation’s future, Akeel added.

“If Egypt is to grow and excel,” he said, “it must be governed by the people, and not a person.”

The violence in Egypt led the United States to issue travel alerts. Many airlines canceled flights to Cairo, the Arab nation’s capital. A Delta Air Lines flight on Friday from Detroit was heading first to New York, but the leg to Cairo was canceled, an airline representative said. However, an Air France flight from Detroit that stopped first in Paris before heading to Cairo was still on schedule late Friday.

“Everybody is scared to go over there,” said Alex Itani, manager of Rayan Travel, a Dearborn-based agency specializing in Middle East travel.

“It’s terrible over there right now.”

Waleed Saudi has been calling his elderly mother every day since the unrest unfolded in Cairo. Saudi, who teaches at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, says his mother lives about an hour from a protest site, but he is still worried about her safety.

His mother, he said, is “just hoping for a peaceful change in the country.”

He’s concerned government officials are trying to portray the protesters as poor people and religious extremists, but he says many of the demonstrators are well-off Egyptians seeking reform.

That’s why Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, encouraged people to write their lawmakers so they would lobby President Barack Obama to pressure the Egyptian government to institute immediate democratic reforms, including freedoms to exercise religion, speak freely, vote and peacefully assemble.

“It’s human aspiration,” Walid said. “All people want to be free.”


Muslim population set to outpace others

http://www.freep.com/article/20110128/NEWS05/101280386/1001/news/Muslim-population-set-outpace-others

January 28, 2011

By Niraj Warikoo

The world’s Muslim population is growing at a higher rate than the population of non-Muslims, a trend some say is playing out in metro Detroit.

The number of Muslims around the world is expected to increase by roughly 35% over the next 20 years, to 2.2 billion, according to population projections the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released Thursday.

The annual growth rate is forecast at 1.5%, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims, the report said. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 26.4% of the world’s population, up from 19.9% in 1990 and 23.4% in 2010.

In metro Detroit, the growth can be seen in the increase in the number of Islamic centers, schools and businesses run by Muslims. There are about 45 mosques in metro Detroit, roughly double the number 10 years ago, said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In just the last two years, four mosques for west African immigrants have been established in the region. And a new mosque opened last year in Dearborn, where about 30% of the population is Arab American.

One of the reasons for the growth is that Muslims, on average, tend to have more children, the Pew report said. The U.S. census doesn’t classify people by religion, so there is no hard data for Michiganders. But Walid said the trend is generally true for Muslim Americans in Michigan.

Suehaila Amen, 31, of Dearborn has seen big growth in the Muslim community. She notes that most students in several Dearborn public schools are Muslim.

“The rate our community has grown is immense,” Amen said.

But although previous generations of immigrants may have had large families, that’s changing, she said.

“You don’t see people having as large families as they used to,” Amen said.

Democracy in the Arab world and U.S. interests

In recent days, the Arab world seems to be flipped upside down from Tunisian strongman Ben Ali being forced to flee his country as protesters continue to take to the streets, self immolations protesting regime’s in Algeria and Mauritania and current demonstrations taking place in Egypt and Yemen.

President Obama in his State of the Union address two nights ago said the following:

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

These were interesting comments from President Obama especially the phrase “democratic aspirations of all people,” which seems to be a reference to the spirit of revolution that is sweeping the Arab world.  However in the context that President Obama and previous administrations have praised and supported dictatorships in the region for our national interests, I’ve read a number of blog posts and tweets from people in the region referring to Obama’s comments as “double talk.”  The truth of the matter is that our foreign policy has been that we really want democracy only if the people vote on individuals or parties that fit what has been defined as serving “American interests” in the region.

If we truly want democracy for the Arab world, then we have to understand that it’s going to be a messy process, which will entail some people being voted in that we may not care for especially if they attempt to exert any independence for their people from the influence of Western nations.  Let us also remember that the continued establishment of our democracy and self determination has not been a neat process.

After the Revolutionary War, we had legalized slavery for almost one century and a bloody civil war.  Native peoples were pushed off of their lands and had treaties brokered by them, by illegitimate representatives in some cases, which were broken by our government.  We had Jim Crow, the Tuskegee Experiment and the interment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  We had the turbulent 60’s.  And we continue to have structural and institutional racism despite there being an African-American president.

What I’m saying is that it took us over 150 years before we started to get ourselves right morally on a number of issues as a nation, so we shouldn’t possibly believe that the Arab world, if left alone to develop democracy organically, won’t have some major issues.

Let us pray for peace, justice and democracy in the Middle East and Africa during these turbulent times.