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Posted on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:34 p.m.

Ann Arbor community and faith leaders responding to 'anti-Muslim rhetoric' sweeping nation

By Ryan J. Stanton

A Florida minister has called off plans to mark the anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday by burning copies of the Quran, but local community leaders say they still plan to protest the rise in "anti-Muslim rhetoric" and "Islamophobia" sweeping the nation.

Ann Arbor City Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, announced plans this week to bring forward a resolution at the council's next meeting affirming the city's commitment to religious tolerance, including respect for the Islamic faith.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, is working with community leaders to bring forward a resolution affirming the city's commitment to religious tolerance, including respect for the Islamic faith.

Ryan J. Stanton |

At a meeting earlier this week, Hohnke condemned the increasing vandalism and protests against mosques across the United States and violence against Muslim Americans — acts that have come in the wake of controversy over a proposal to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York.

"A cab driver in New York was attacked for being Muslim," Hohnke said, citing other anti-Muslim acts that he characterized as despicable. "Local movement groups have asked that the community speak out in support of religious tolerance, so I've been in discussions with the chair of the Human Rights Commission, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, and the Interfaith Round Table."

Hohnke said he wanted to let the public know that "we're working on a response to show our support to the Muslim community and express our commitment to diversity here in our community."

Chuck Warpehoski, co-director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in Ann Arbor, said there's a movement afoot among local faith leaders to speak out against what they're characterizing as "Islamophobia."

Several Ann Arbor-area pastors and religious leaders have decided to preach about religious tolerance from their pulpits this coming Sunday. The 10:30 a.m. worship service at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor will include a recitation from the Quran and a sermon on "Christian positive regard for Muslims," said the Rev. James Rhodenhiser.

Warpehoski said he hopes a better understanding of Islam will come from continuing a community discourse about peace and respect for people of other faiths.

"One of the biggest misperceptions of the Muslim faith is that it's singular — that there's one way of being Muslim," he said. "Most Muslims do oppose terrorism. Every Muslim I know has condemned the Sept. 11 attacks."

Dawud Walid, the Michigan director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a leading Muslim activist, said no recent anti-Muslim incidents have been reported locally, but he hopes to keep the hysteria happening in other states from reaching Michigan. He said he's been impressed with the community response in Ann Arbor.

"Ann Arbor has a national reputation of being a city of inclusion and promiting diversity, so we welcome this resolution coming in front of the council, and we hope it's passed and adopted by other cities in the state of Michigan," he said.

Walid said he believes the anti-Muslim sentiment across the United States is a product of this year's mid-term elections, in which the Republicans are seeking to take control of Congress.

A recent national survey by the Pew Research Center found nearly one-in-five Americans believe President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Walid believes Republicans are latching onto that.

"Bashing Muslims is more than just religious hatred — it's a political strategy for some perverted politicians. It's an attack against the president and, by default, Democratic incumbents who are linked to the president," he said. "There are national political leaders who are using the politics of fear to bolster their names. For instance, former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich recently equated the religion of Islam with Naziism. Rudy Giuliani recently has made anti-Muslim remarks with regard to the Park51 Community Center project in Lower Manhattan. And Sarah Palin and others have made similar comments."

Walid said it's important that religious and political leaders in Michigan speak out loudly against bigotry and for the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

"History shows us in numerous events the negative and disastrous consequences of silence when seeing minority groups are being attacked and actively marginalized," he said.

Warpehoski said he's worried what could happen on the anniversary of 9/11.

"In the greater Detroit area, I've heard concerns about suspicious people watching the mosques, so I'm nervous about what we're going to see on Saturday," he said. "I'm worried that people who are angry and are misinformed are going to make things worse."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

to all including moderators..the preceding several respectful exchanges represent the best of, in terms of those with often strongly held differing views on some matters being able to see past those in order to reach accomodation on common-ground issues in this forum. ( and i'm as capable of snarky partisan nastiness as anyone, but always have that olive branch available for those willing to take it and reciprocate....a point highly relevant to the topic of this thread. and scylding: my mistake indeed on the chess piece spelling. i would actually like to chat about those areas of obvious difference you mention. FYI i am also a sculptor, 2 of whose commissioned pieces draw on anglo-saxon/norse topics ( viz. beowulf and 'the battle of maldon' epic poem).


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 11:43 p.m.

And Robyn, if you missed it because they were not put on right away, I listed the links to the whole "False Witness" series just above Bedrog's last post where he states that the history and cast of characters who make up the synagogue stalkers is told in that series. This is very pertinent to the whole question of which religious minority is being harassed right here under our noses, not in New York and Tennessee. Thanks for your interest and concern. ContreMilice


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:31 p.m.

I thank you for the information and the links. I'll be spending some time reading about this. bedrog: (for some reason I always think 'bad dog' when I see your sig... LOL!) Part of being an adult and owning the sincere desire to 'make the world a better place' is the ability to debate issues passionately and unapoligetically - yet still respect the other person and their point of view. After all - disagreement is the basic foundation of recognizing change is needed. It also allows us to benefit from the ideas and ideals of how others view an issue and creates a pathway for solutions that everyone can be satisfied with. Besides - if everyone agrees with everything you say - life gets pretty boring don't ya think?


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

Good eye, Bedrog! "Lewis", though. Your interests are broad, from things Islamic to Norse/Anglo-Saxon. I really do mean the following in the most positive way, although in writing, it will sound worse than it should: I suspect that you might even be able to explain to me how someone educated and reasonable about a number of issues could be so liberal as to like Al Franken.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

scylding...didnt mean to neglect you in my salutation/olive branch to robyn. your last post hadnt appeared on my screen when i responded to hers ( his??). is that the 'lewes chess piece' in your photo? if so, and from your screen name, we seem to have some common interests in medieval, anglo-saxon /norse history.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 6:53 a.m. your interest in contremilece's...there is alot on this ongoing situation in recent issues of the WASHTENAW JEWISH NEWS ( available online) from jan 2010 ( lead article 'false witnesses', with photos); feb 2010 ( 2 articles/ photos) by a defector from the group; may ( 2 more). "false witnesses 'is the overarching title of the series. the annn arbor news also intermittantly covered this over the years, and the city council and interfaith leaders have weighed in years ago, but not consistently and rather tepidly as contremilice noted.Some in fact harbor some of the 'perps' in their congregations, without much trouble evidently.. The whole story, re contre's excellent post, is indeed a necessary backdrop to this current thread, despite several posters' (real or fake) opacity on such things. ( and at least one poster here is an active participant in the events described.his photo's there too). although you and i have wrangled on other threads, your interest in this is appreciated.


Wed, Sep 15, 2010 : 2:13 a.m.

Scylding and Robyn: Thank you for your heartfelt, supportive comments. Robyn, the whole story can be accessed online as written by a number of people. Here's what someone who escaped from the so-called Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends, had to say in her expos of the people who have tried and triedalways and ever to failto hijack everything in town from the (University of) Michigan Student Assembly to City Council to local peace groups to the Peoples Food Co-op in their singular monomaniacal hatred of Jews that they only thinly veil under the guise of anti-Zionism. These are the same folks who carry obscenity-laden, hate-dipped signs while they menace the worshippers at Beth Israel Congregation on the Jewish Sabbath, i.e., every Saturday, and other holidays for the past seven years in the vain hope of trying to coerce a whole congregation to accept the picketers' narrow, toxic world view. They call their harassment picket in which they stand like storm troopers of the 1930s in front of a Jewish house of worship brandishing their ugly signs of Nazi-like contempt, including swastikas on more than one occasion, a vigil. A cynical ploy and false taxonomy not terribly unlike Goebbels and his big Nazi lies. When I was in the vigil, we would defend ourselves time and time again against the charge that we were motivated by hate. Hate? Us? Nothing could be further from the truth. Now it seems clear to me that we were indeed motivated by hate, as well as by dissatisfaction with our own lives, by a romanticized view of one side of a complex conflict and a romanticized view of our own ability to change things. We hated ourselves, toothose of us in the group who were Jews. How else could a Jew go out of his or her way to present Jews as the arch-villains of the world? The term self-hating Jewhow ridiculous! we used to say. But how appropriate the term actually was. Much more at in The few and the justpp.1, 8, and 13. In the same issue: False Witnesses II: The devils in the details (or vice versa), p. 9. But, why not start at the beginning with False witnesses in _Washtenaw Jewish News_ (WJN), December 2009/January 2010, pp. 1 and 26-27 online at then read the above follow-ups, and finally, this informative series concludes with False Witnesses create own Newspeak in WJN, March 2010, pp. 1 and 32-33; Its the witness, not the name, thats false, pp. 2 and 33-34; and Jewish peace activist distributes Hamas forgery, other hate texts, and fraudulent internet quotes, p. 33, all at This series of articles demonstrates clearly where the bigotry lies on the local scene and the double standards of those getting steamed up about acts of hatred that have not manifested themselves in Ann Arbor while ignoring a seven-years long ongoing act of hate-driven intolerance, harassment, and stalking still taking place against members of a _local_ minority ethno-religious group, an act that is all but condoned by the silence of local non-Jewish spiritual leaders whether Muslim or Christian. ContreMilice


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

@ contremillce: Great post. You really should submit a more detailed story to as a gust editorial. I for one would like to get a bit more history about this issue.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

@Contremilice: a very powerful, well-argued, and timely post. Thank you! I look forward to seeing anyone in opposition dare to try to rationalize away the obvious and brazen religious bigotry and racism the Jewish community has been enduring in oh-so "inclusive" Ann Arbor for years! @Bedrog: we have fought mightily elsewhere. I'm glad that, here at least, we became allies. I enjoyed it.


Tue, Sep 14, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

speechless..well, based on this thread alot of quite accurate and thoughtful material has been aired that is justly,factually and logically critical of aspects of islam and many ( though not all!!) of its varied followers and unthoughtful ( dare i say 'kneejerk"?) apologists. This is not the fault or "prejudice' of the posters, some of whom seem to have come to their present views reluctantly, as i have.... It's just reflective of the realities of our times.. ( some posts of that side are a bit unfair too, but hey...first amendement, eh?) This is as it fairly should and will be be every time an unfairly biased post/thread/ resolution appears on or in city council. good job IFCPJ (and Cordoba center too?).


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 11:10 p.m.

So far, only Bedrog and Demistify have raised this important distinction about _which_ religious group is truly experiencing hatred, bigotry, and intolerance on a habitual basis here in little old tolerant Ann Arbor. Chuck Warpehoski, co-director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice in Ann Arbor, said there's a movement afoot among local faith leaders to speak out against what they're characterizing as Islamophobia." What would be truly uplifting would be if local faith leaders, particularly Muslim religious leaders and other non-Jewish clerics, would strongly, recurrently, and unreservedly condemn the despicable example of antisemitism on display for the past seven plus years whereby a group of fanatics have been picketing a Jewish house of worship, namely Beth Israel Congregation, for about seven years now on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and other days holy to Jews, thats right, here in Ann Arbor, not in some distant dark corner of the globe. With their menacing and racist signs, the ubiquitous presence of the so-called Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends is an ugly example of racism, intolerance, and Judeophobia festering on Washtenaw Avenue and wherever they thrust their abhorrent signs in people's faces including Jewish and Israeli cultural events. As long as most of the towns non-Jewish people of faith and organizations such as the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the Interfaith Round Table remain silent on this issue, these brownshirt wannabes will feel a sense of entitlement to demonstrate their hatred and intolerance for a particular religio-ethnic group in town. While hatred towards any religious group should not be tolerated including any such acts against those who practice Islam, fortunately, there are no indications of such anti-Muslim acts in Ann Arbor, no picketing of any mosques or other Islamic religious institutions. And, thats how it should be. If Dawud Walid really believes that Ann Arbor is a city of inclusion that promotes diversity, and feels its important that religious and political leaders in Michigan speak out loudly against bigotry and for the First Amendment rights of all Americans, will he go on record and forcefully denounce the actions of the synagogue picketers? Walid is quoted as stating, History shows us in numerous events the negative and disastrous consequences of silence when seeing minority groups are being attacked and actively marginalized. Agreed. So why all the deafening silence when another minority group is being targeted right here in Ann Arbor? Not to condemn whats happening right under our noses smacks of self-righteous, self-serving hypocrisy. As long as a band of Jew haters such as the JWPF is accepted in their loathsome acts of intolerance whereby racism is practiced right here with impunity in Ann Arbor and resolutions such as the one City Council Member Hohnke is proposing do not include a severe rebuke of this very local longstanding act of intolerance, such proclamations fall far short of truly zeroing in on the hatred that is actually practiced in our midst and not that of far-off cities and states. Lets deal with actual religious intolerance in our own front yard before we start talking about what goes on far away from here. If we ignore this local brand of hatred, what gives us the justification to gripe in such a local forum as the City Council about those acts taking place beyond our borders? While City Council did indeed issue a resolution condemning the synagogue picketers several years agoa laudable act dealing with an issue taking place within our city limitsno other leaders have come forth to regularly and vigorously call for an end to this insupportable harassment of a religious minority in our own neighborhood since the early days of this ongoing act of bigotry began some seven years ago.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:09 p.m.

@Speechless. You act as though there has been no technological advancement in long-distance weaponry since colonial times, a ridiculous absurdity. It may not quite be surgical, but to act as though it's no more precise than the blitz of Hamburg in WWII is preposterous. Furthermore, if the terrorists weren't hiding behind the skirts of their people, we wouldn't have a problem, would we? Anyway, you sidestepped the question at hand regarding the fact that you see the terrorists as morally equivalent with innocent civilians. Stick to the point, will you?


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:33 p.m.

"... Al-Quaida/Taliban and the innocent civilians whom they endanger by their presence... one is an actionable target, namely the former, and that great effort should be expended (and has been) to avoid harming the latter...." The notion that intended military targets can be cleanly, 'surgically' bombed in the midst of an innocent surrounding population has been a British and American imperial fantasy passed down through the decades. While it's been proven false over and over again, this trope continues to be used as a tool to steer public opinion away from anti-colonial and anti-war positions. A lot of thoughtful people, of course, won't easily be fooled by a Gingrich-style hysteria campaign, the kind of mindset which a city council resolution would presumably address. Yet they might still be susceptible to the modern science fiction of high-tech weaponry that blasts away 'bad guys' while the 'good people' nearby can go about their business like nothing happened.

Duane Collicott

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 8:06 p.m.

Would it be too much to ask for City Council to keep themselves focused on city business? I really don't care how they, as a group, feel about the Iraq war, a new law in Arizonan, the state of Muslim relations in the US, or breastfeeding in swimming pools. It is an abuse of their position on City Council to opine on side topics such as these, even if we are all in agreement with them. We did not bestow that office on them to speak for us on issues that have nothing to do with the business of the City of Ann Arbor. Any opinions they have on these subjects should be expressed as individual citizens in places such as newspapers and blogs like, just like the rest of us.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Your comment is inherently weak, Speechless, and barely worthy of response. If there is any side of this argument that is arguing that there is no moral difference between Al-Quaida/Taliban and the innocent civilians whom they endanger by their presence, it is your side. Demistify and I have consistently indicated that one is an actionable target, namely the former, and that great effort should be expended (and has been) to avoid harming the latter. You and ERMG see them all as equally innocent and untargetable, apparently. Why don't you explain for us all how that is a logical stance. Good luck.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

"... given recent history... American "Christians" prefer killing innocent civilians using smart bombs dropped... by unmanned drones or nearly invulnerable manned aircraft..." From a comment in reply: "... I find... characterization of al Qaeda and the Taliban as innocent civilians a trifle odd... striving a little too hard for moral equivalence." Does this reply intend to infer that Afghans drone-bombed by "Christian" American forces must belong to either one or the other? That recalls the kind of manic logic used 40 years ago to justify the My Lai massacre — all those dead Vietnamese families were "communists" after all, and hence brought on their own mass-murdered fate. Now similar reasoning gets applied to all Afghan families caught in the lethal crossfire between the U.S. military and two former close U.S. allies from the Reagan era: al Qaeda and the Taliban. Here we have yet another indication of the timeliness of Hohnke's proposal.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

My apologies to the reader: In my last post, I failed to delete at the end some fragments from the post I was responding to. Sorry for the confusion.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

@Ghost: Your evident discomfort with recent posts quoting statistics, and attempt to distract from them, reminded me of your earlier post with highly selective data about treatment of minorities in some Muslim countries. So, let us review it. It is true that there are Jews left in Iran, but they are one-tenth the number before the mullahs took over. The Bahai are treated even worse than the Jews. There used to be a vibrant Jewish community in Iraq, but Saddam Hussein drove them all out. The Christians are rapidly fleeing Iraq, beset by both al Qaeda and Iranian-sponsored Shiite militias. Only a couple of hundred Jews remain in Syria, held hostage by the regime. A comparable number remaining in Yemen are huddled in an enclave in the capital city, brought there by a government that claims it cannot guaranty their safety otherwise. In the other Muslim-majority countries that you mention, which somehow do not include any where the fundamentalists are in power, the Jewish population is strongly depleted or non-existent. Christians are still hanging on in Lebanon, but their leaders keep being assassinated. In Malaysia, a Muslim who converted to Christianity was condemned to death for it. Second, for the record, it is also an incorrect statement regarding Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan, and a whole host of Muslim-majority states. Third, such a statement as Stunhsif's verges on "All blacks are... " or "All Jews are... " and therefore ought be dismissed out of hand for what it is. Fourth, he might be thinking of Saudi Arabia? What he says is true of that country, but that leads us to...


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

@Ghost: I find your characterization of al Qaeda and the Taliban as innocent civilians a trifle odd. You are striving a little too hard for moral equivalence.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

@ERMG: the issue at hand is Muslims in this country, and the supposed phobia in reaction to them. It has been proven that a meaningful percentage of them harbor a mind-set that is quite hostile to their fellow citizens (see my previous post), so concern regarding them is not a phobia. It was further posited that Christians do not harbor similar hostile intent toward their fellow countrymen. You have shifted (and changed) the subject very far afield, switching the venue to battlefields overseas, and so, you have not been successful in countering these arguments regarding our domestic environment. Regarding your subject, namely war, the battlefields in the current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are not of our choosing, but the enemy's. Apparently, you would prefer that we carpet bomb the residential districts that Al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists insist on cowering in (putting their innocent countrymen in danger), as opposed to using laser-guided weapons of precision to remove them, nearly surgically, from the surrounding civilian tissue? We are not responsible for their cowardice, ERMG, but we have gone to extraordinary lengths to minimize the damage to the surrounding populace that it constantly threatens. The restraint we have exercised is far above that of any civilization in history.


Mon, Sep 13, 2010 : 6:33 a.m.

tree town...amen to wakan tanka/gitchi manitou/ huitzilopochtli worship......never any conflict at all among precolumbian native americans. oh,wait! but, seriously, a diligent study of comparative religions/history is indeed a good thing in defusing chauvenism....and such curricula are readily available in the U.s., although hard to find in middle eastern schooling...and possibly in texas too, if the current board of education has it's way.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:05 p.m.

Looking at the majority of these posts I feel so sorry for all of you who have limited yourself to looking/believing in only one of these three western religions. You should really take a look at the faith of those indigenous people who populated the forest where your living room now stands in. It is a more harmonious way of life than anything associated with the messiah loving, prophet is holier than I, we gotta get to heaven to see if the joneses made it deity kind of worship. As a prolific 70's band once said "free your mind and your..."


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 8:20 p.m.

Piggy-backing off the facts that Scylding presented showing that 26% of American Muslims (ages 18-29) think that suicide bombing is either often/sometimes justified (15%) or rarely justifed (11%), I suggest we do a poll with American Christians of the same age. My guess is ZERO percent would say this could ever be justified. Nuff said? Good Day No Luck Needed


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:09 p.m.

speechless...demistify's last ( as several of my previous on the same theme)makes an excellent summary statement of how the ann arbor city council should be framing this matter in a legitimate, instead of grandstanding, way. And i suspect i'm probably far more aware than you-- both from an historical point of view and current events in spain/ cordoba and elsewhere -- of the significance ( for actual good vs disingenuous 'feelgood' p.r. ) of the name 'cordoba' in this project....(which by the way i don't actually have strong feelings about one way or the other if the imam in charge is indeed 'kosher', although I'm against it if he's not.. and there's a mixed bag of credible information on that score.). what i DO object to are the patronizing, demeaning and 'infantalizing' attitudes TOWARD MUSLIMS by those ( some posting here ) who automatically absolve them from any responsibility whatsoever for their own plights abroad and negative attitudes toward them here. This is both amnesiac and ignorant of history and current events. While i like howard dean and patrick leahy ( al franken too)they are respectable voices for opposing points of view, as is my friend/colleague akbar ahmed ( a diane rheim/ cnn regular and an exile from a pakistan gone batty whose own family is of the ethnic group that comprises the taliban, on whom he has written more knowlegeably than anyone,... sometimes citing me, actually). HE opposes the project as gratuitously provocative...a point echoed by the canadian muslim spokesbody. so keep on keepin on, and never ever respect another point of view or listen to an informed opposing argument. p.s while i was writing this 'scylding'...someone with whom i've had forceful disagreements on other threads, and indeed been more on your side than his/hers...has posted some very good points indeed.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

To take this back to the article, Chuck Warpehoski says, in the article, that [o]ne of the biggest misperceptions of the Muslim faith is that its singular that theres one way of being Muslim. Most Muslims do oppose terrorism. Every Muslim I know has condemned the Sept. 11 attacks. I am going to confront this line of thinking, and I am going to do so citing mainstream research (from Pew Research) and accurate observations of that research. It is tough medicine, and I put a lot of effort into it. I will be very disappointed if it disappears without an explanation, There is a problem embedded in Warpehoskis words, and all of this rhetoric about a wave of Islamophobia sweeping the country. The problem is that most is not good enough. It isnt good enough that most Muslims do oppose terrorism. That could mean that as little as 51% oppose it. As it happens, according to a study done by Pew Research in 2007 (, 78% of American Muslims answer never to the following question: Can suicide bombing of civilian targets to defend Islam be justified? But how good is that, really? Heres how the rest answered: 8% said often/sometimes; 5% said rarely; and 9% said that they dont know (see pg. 53 of the study). That means that, under some circumstances, fully 13% answered that suicide bombings against civilian targets are acceptable in the defense of Islam, and 9% are conflicted about it. Thus, more than 1 in 10 Muslims that you meet, right here in the United States, thinks that it would be okay under certain circumstances to blow you up in defense of Islam, and another 9% are scratching their chins trying to decide. Thats actually the good news; if you look at American Muslims between ages 18-29, a stunning 26% will answer that such suicide bombing is either often/sometimes justified (15%) or rarely justified (11%) (see pg. 54 of the study). Maybe there isnt just one way of being Muslim, but the way that is being chosen even by American Muslims (who are among the most moderate in the world, according to the study) is turning out large numbers of people who cant seem to figure out that blowing up innocent civilians on purpose is NEVER acceptable. Furthermore, the much higher percentage of acceptance of this brutal tactic among younger American Muslims hardly bodes well for the future. Phobia is defined as an irrational fear or anxiety, usually in response to some particular thing. I do not consider it irrational to have suspicions about, and discomfort with, people among whom at least 10% think its okay to blow me up under certain circumstances. Frankly, I consider the effort to whitewash this reality and to pretend its not there to be the truly irrational mentality sweeping the country.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 4:25 p.m.

"... is getting quite tiresome and depressing to see many of those from MY liberal left being so utterly doctrinaire and resistant to 'smelling the roses' of reality...." "... you are doing it yet again ( i.e. stereotyping...)" If being highly respectful of personal rights and religious freedom (including freedom from religion) — along with support for Hohnke's proposed resolution — qualifies as doctrinaire behavior, then I happily plead guilty. Elements of the political hard right have significantly stepped up rhetoric of hysteria in regard to Islam since Obama took office. As pundit Joe Conason suggests, such unleashed hysteria might have caused unintended damage to the Republican administration during the Bush years, but now Gingrich, Palin, et al., have nothing to lose by engaging in all-out Know-Nothing-ness. Now, in 2010, it's time for full-throated "gutter politics" from grandstanders: The nutty Park 51 controversy has become the current flash point. While the far right drives the opposition, centrist and liberal politicians, including Howard Dean, have jumped on the bandwagon to varying degrees, either out of fear, opportunism, political convenience, or a desire to make the issue go away by agreeing and then trying to move on. The more reactionary factions in the Israeli lobby seem delighted, while J Street has joined the ACLU in a principled defense of free speech and freedom of religion. Democrats with a spine who have stepped up to criticize or condemn the rising level of prejudice surrounding the Park51 religious community center include Senators Al Franken, Russ Feingold, Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy: Some brief but rather pointed remarks on the topic from Sen. Russ Feingold: Libertarian Ron Paul repudiates conservative opponents of the NY project: On the controversy over Howard Dean sadly caving in on the Park51 issue: Mayor Bloomberg joins Jon Stewart on The Daily Show to slam the critics:


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

A resolution before the Ann Arbor City Council presumably should take into account what happens in Ann Arbor. So, if this is about fighting religious bigotry, let us consider how matters stand here: The Islamic Center has never been subjected to any disturbance. Neither has any church. On the other hand, Beth Israel synagogue has been harassed for the past 7 years during its religious services by demonstrators with banners (one sports a swastika) and with bullhorns. (Incidentally, the posters who brought up Fred Phelps should note that he also pickets synagogues). If Councilman Hohnke is sincere in his stated intentions, his resolution cannot ignore the most blatant act of bigotry that continues to occur in his city.


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Interesting topic, both sides have valid points of view but neither is really willing to back up and look at things from the opposing perspective. This is an interesting article and it is fairly local as these issues are a very real part of life for those who live in Dearborn Michigan - an area with a large Middle Eastern community. I won't say a Muslim community because there are many Christians - some from predominantly Islamic countries - in Dearborn too. What happens and how are attitudes changed when the role of the tolerant and intolerant is switched?

Roger Roth

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 8 a.m.

Edward and Craig, when I Google up "get rid of religion" I get 1,410,000 hits. Next, I'm going to Google "why do I get 1,410,000 hits when I Google 'get rid of religion.' :)


Sun, Sep 12, 2010 : 6:52 a.m. are doing it yet again ( i.e. stereotyping...which you rightly claim is wrong) in your last post,which inaccurately tries to rebut the several of mine. a) I'm hardly a 'far righty'as you imply. Quite the opposite in fact, the only times i ever voted non-democrat being in primaries to sow mischief in the ranks of the opposite party. b) I am a retired academic with a specialty in islamic cultures and history ( and not a terribly shabby background in related subjects) so i'm also hardly someone who follows prepackaged FOX rhetoric as you also foolishly imply( indeed the only times i ever watch it really are for the SIMPSONS and HOUSE reruns). I must say it is getting quite tiresome and depressing to see many of those from MY liberal left being so utterly doctrinaire and resistant to 'smelling the roses' of reality on the topic at hand. Fortunately in this case i can support our president on these matters without conflict, as he seems far more capable of nuance than you...i.e appropriately holding out an olive branch/ and dulcet rhetoric in one hand while holding forceful action ( e.g. drones)in the other...much like teddy roosevelt and his 'quiet walking with big stick', of which i approve. happy 9/12


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

Thank goodness we are almost to 9-12. The headlines of "anti-muslim rhetoric sweeping the nation" belongs in a "rag magazine". Why is so desperate to lead with a divisive title like that? This is all made up garbage Muslims practice their faith in the USA in complete saftey. Christians on the other hand, cannot practice their faith safely in the middle east whether it be publically or in private, for that they risk death. There is not a single Christian church in Iraq or Iran. How do muslims in the USA defend that? The silence if deafening! Am I am quite certain that will never post this!


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10:09 p.m.

"... one would think that the differences between violence against women that is criminalized by the wider society/authorities vs the same sort of abuse that is sanctioned or perpetrated by that society/authorities should be apparent...." Until well into the 20th century, predominantly Protestant/Catholic countries lived with more than their share of socially and legally sanctioned discrimination against women. Under a century ago, it was argued by "well-bred" men and women that it would be uncivilized to allow women to vote. In regard to violence directed toward women, until recent decades it has been Western custom to state in public and in the law that such violence is wrong, only to look away when it takes place and pretend it doesn't occur. Gender-related violence elsewhere in the world generally mirrors what happens here or what used to happen more commonly until not all that long ago. Western cultures can be tricky, as their unwritten traditions may quietly allow for the flourishing of terrible behaviors which they do not formally sanction. As for fundamentalist extremism in Muslim countries, it's getting very tiring to hear the same hypocritical talking point repeated over and over about how every Muslim across the globe is personally responsible for every extremist who in any way is linked to a variant or sect of Islam, while Protestants, Catholics and Jews share no comparable responsibility for the minority of hateful crazies found under their own respective ideological banners. As for the unsupported assertion that followers of Islam are loathe to criticize fundamentalist extremists — while member of other religions vigorously rein in their own — let's call that claim for what it is: a nasty smear being used as justification to allow a larger campaign of religious prejudice and fear to move forward and gain some traction in the interests of far-right politicians. Unfortunately, the overall tone in the numerous comments from those unsympathetic to city council member Hohnke's proposed resolution makes that potential item even more relevant than before this article was posted.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 6:35 p.m.

I appreciate your intellectual honesty, Bedrog. Very decent of you. I notice Ghost didn't try to defend the indefensible. Instead, just bashed his own society some more. No surprise there.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 6:17 p.m.

A few comments: 1. In countries where muslims live, there are practices practiced that are not recognized by Islamic scholars as part of Islam (they are cultural idea, not religious). Such as honor killings, female genital mutilation). 2. As a muslim, there has been a growing anti-muslim attitude with the Park51 controversy. I wasn't here after 9/11 so I cannot compare, but it does affect me. Let's just say that even though it was a religious holiday, this Friday, we were very toned down. And even with that, the looks from people (either hateful or suspicious) of a family eating ice cream, were sad. My family stands strong with the American ideal that "We the People" means ALL Americans, and that with freedom for all, also means religious freedom for Muslims as well. Here is a link from Juan Cole (a U of M historian) explaining more about 9/11 from a different point of view:


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

ghost: although ive disagreed with him/her elsewhere scylding is correct in your little tiff regarding the treatment of women in some islamic societies. one would think that the differences between violence against women that is criminalized by the wider society/ authorities vs the same sort of abuse that is sanctioned or perpetrated by that society/authorities should be apparent to anyone. but evidently not. oh well! fortunately it's almost 9/12.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

@ERMG wrote: "As a follow-up to my last, the American Bar Association estimates that 1.3 million American women are assaulted by their partners every year. Nope--husbands beating their wives never happens in this so-called "Christian" country." ERMG: first of all, to call the United States "Christian" is misleading in this context, as we have millions of people of all faiths, and many millions practicing no faith at all; second, the men perpetrating genital mutilation, stoning, and other hateful crimes against women in a number of nations where a certain religion is imposed by the state, and where such treatment is both sanctioned by the local religious leaders and by the over-arching religious government, is a wholly different and much more heinous thing than assaults that are perpetrated against women in contradiction to the law and the guidance of all Christian religious leaders. In the first situation, there is nothing protecting the women from their attackers; in the second (here), at least there is a strong religious stance defending women and the rule of humane law that stands between them and their assailants. No legitimate Christian leader advocates violence against women, of any kind. I dare you to defend that statement with regard to the other faith being discussed here, many mainstream leaders of which condone it or even demand it (such as in Iran). There's just no comparison.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

It's so nice to know Mr. Hohnke is working on " the city's commitment to religious tolerance, including respect for the Islamic faith". Now how can we get him to give the same attention to some more less "newsworthy" causes, like the condition of the local streets and bridges, etc. After all, that's what he is suppose to have some control over and what he was elected to deal with.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 10:36 a.m.

On this day of all days, I would call on all Muslims, people of Islam, to make efforts to improve overall relations with the people of the United States by calling on the community center builders of New York to relocate their planned build to a less controversial location than very near ground zero. The right to build where they wish is not the issue; it is the message it sends, as the act of a conqueror. May God bless the families impacted by the events of this day in 2001, and may God bless all Muslim Americans dealing with the fear based backlash instilled by a few radicals. Peace.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 7:48 a.m.

I once invited a Muslim lady to our Christian church and she couldn't believe she would be welcome their. She said she had been taught since childhood that christians hated them. So until both sides stop their biased teachings there will be problems between different religions.


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

so sorry blaine coleman is 'uneasy at the way this debate is framed'. would he be happier if it were framed in the modus operandi he has used : i.e picketing the place of worship/events of those with whom he disagrees with the most incendiary symbols possible? ( swastikas at a synagogue in his case) in fact he and terry jones are soulmates,as extremists from both poles typically are. and MODERATORS: we were doing so well


Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 6:36 a.m.

This is another instance of council wasting time on matters that it has nothing to do with. Focus on Ann Arbor issues! If you want to work for the UN, then quit your council job and apply for a job with them!


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:13 p.m.

@EMRG, I know it is hard to do but please actually respond to what I asked my friend and stay on task. How many spouses ( and let's do percentages because you like that) have been killed in the USA for infidelity over the past 10 years? As well, how many homosexual's have been victims of "hate crimes or terrorist acts" in the USA over the past 10 years? If a husband in the USA beats his wife and she files charges with solid evidence, the man goes to jail. Does this happen in Iran or Iraq. First off, in Iran or Iraq, the woman could not even file charges, she is treated like a black person was treated in the USA 150 years ago. As a percentage Mr. Ed, there is no denying that the number of murders commited by spouses for infidelity are 1000 times plus in the muslim world versus the USA. As well, the number of homosexuals killed in the USA for simply being gay is less than 1/100th of 1% of what it is in the muslim countries. The perpatrators of these acts are not charged, they are looked upon as hero's, how sick is that? Unfortunately, spousal abuse happens throughout the world. But no one can deny that the death rate for infidelity and being gay in Muslim countries is thousands of times more likely than in the United States of America. What does that tell us about tolerance from their religious community. I truly feel bad for any person that is gay in a muslim country or any female that may fall prey to the temptation of another mans "tender heart", because they both may end up dead for an act that does not deserve the consequences.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 10:57 p.m.

Does anyone else think that the sheer volume of responses, and replies to the responses, tells something? Freedom, religious and other, is the basis for our society. Ann Arbor is one of the most accepting places I have ever lived, and even here, there are conservative and liberal people with extreme views. The point was, and should be, that all of these people have a right to believe what they will. Anyone who believes that all Muslims are evil is wrong. Anyone who believes that all Christians are bad is wrong. Anyone who believes that all Jews are terrible is wrong. Any group of individuals has members that are good, members that are awful, and everything in between. This just shows how far we as a society have to go.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 10:07 p.m.

"... After the City has spent so many years refusing to install a stoplight that would have saved lives at the city's masjid (the mosque)...." It would be a fine idea for the city to install a pedestrian-controlled red light for that crosswalk on Plymouth Rd. west of Nixon, similar to the one planned for Huron and Third/Chapin. That could be brought forward as one example of a helpful, concrete step to complement Hohnke's resolution with action. "... City council is once again spending time working on a non-issue...." A widely promoted campaign of falsehood and bigotry by the right against followers of Islam is a non-issue? (See the 2nd link in my earlier comment.) "... The article implies that there is some sort of anti-Islamic feeling sweeping the country...." There certainly is an concerted attempt afoot to instigate such feeling. Hohnke's possible council resolution would represent one of many small efforts across the country intended to blunt the effect of the bigotry spewing from Gingrich, Palin, Faux News and other well-connected sources, so that it won't reach the point where it actually can sweep the country. A sickening level of intolerance has already been successfully generated by the far right over the Park51 religious recreation center in Manhattan. Some conservatives love freedom so much that they're determined to tear up the Bill of Rights just to preserve it. (Other conservatives, meanwhile, like New York's Mayor Bloomberg, feel disgusted and embarrassed by this. Also, see the first link in my earlier comment.) "... I think that what is lacking is a solid statement from the Muslim community that deplores the lack of tolerance of Muslims from around the world who choose a path of intolerance and cruelty...." A request along these lines only makes sense in the hypothetical context of every American Christian writing a personal note of apology for the horror inflicted upon the country by the likes of Terry Jones and Fred Phelps.

John Q

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 9:35 p.m.

"I have grown to distrust the Muslim faith and those who fervently practice it specifically due to their own behavior. No one else's. No resolution can change that. It seems to me to be a religion based on violence, intolerance and hate. That's what I've concluded from reading countless news stories and interviews. We can't appease that hate. No one can appease a bully - the only way to stop one is to stand up to one." Shorter version: "I've never met a Muslim or talked to one but I can form an expert opinion on what they think and do based on what I've read on the Internet." Before sharing your "expert" opinion about what Muslims think, why don't you try talking to one who you actually know?

Steve Hendel

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 8:59 p.m.

OMG, back to the 60's and the Human Rights Party's resolutions regarding nuclear-free zones, among other issues totally out of the Council's bailiwick. Just what we need...another resolution supporting virtue and taking a firm and fearless stance against evil. Councilmember Hohnke, neither you nor your fellow Councilmembers were elected to office so that you could deblate and pass high-sounding but, in the end, meaningless resolutions regarding issues over which you have neither responsibility nor authority. There are plenty of open issues over which you DO have some practical control, so I'd suggest you stick to those.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

We have a number of things run together in this article: 1) City council is once again spending time working on a non-issue rather than taking care of real City business. 2) The article implies that there is some sort of anti-Islamic feeling sweeping the country. There is no such thing happening any more than there being an anti-Jewish feeling or anti-Catholic feeling sweeping the country when some isolated incidents arise and are covered (over and over and over again) in the media. 3) One of the comments (Pam Stout) referred to a study indicating a decline in favorable opinions of Islam among Americans. Why does this surprise anyone? In addition to the recent terror activities of SOME Muslins and the threatened stoning to death of a woman in Iran, we have the very insensitive actions of an Imam in NYC building a "mosque" at what is really part of "ground zero", and the uprisings and attempted murders associated with anyone who dares be critical of that religion. Combine this with what we know happens to non-Muslims in Muslim countries and it is no wonder that the favorable opinion is being weighted down. It may be an old cliche to say "some of my best friends are Muslim", but in my case it is true. I know them to be loving and honorable people. I know how to differentiate between the kind of people I know and the actions I see and read about in various channels of the media. I think that what is lacking is a solid statement from the Muslim community that deplores the lack of tolerance of Muslims from around the world who choose a path of intolerance and cruelty. Don't tell me that terrorism is wrong, but "you know, they've had a hard life and it is understandable". Don't tell me that we are to blame in whole or in part: there is no more tolerant country than the US and none more dedicated to freeing people around the world. Such a statement widely made and adopted by Muslims around the country would do more for their own sense of themselves and their relationship with all others in our (that is OUR) country than anything else. It would certainly beat some lame resolution from City Council.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 8:28 p.m.

@EMRG, the Qu'aran may not state anywhere that it is ok to kill women for commiting adultery but it certainly doesn't stop some of them for doing it does it? Not many male Christians out there that kill their wives for commmiting adultery are there? Not many Christians ( whether male or female) that kill gay people (because they are homosexual) either are there? And the muslim community wants everyone to be tolerant of their religion but they are not tolerant of anyone else's religion as those of other faiths are considered "infidels". Nuff said! Lastly, AA city council needs to "stay on task" and work on what they were hired to work on. No one outside of A2 gives a rats behind about what some council member thinks about supposed "anti-muslim" rhetoric.

Blaine Coleman

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 8:25 p.m.

I am uneasy with the way this debate is framed. On the one side, you have an argument that Muslims worship a dangerous doctrine, and therefore must be caged, deported, exterminated... or something. On the other side, the "liberal" argument is: don't worry, those Muslims won't take too much of our City Council's time-- let's vote that Muslims should be "tolerated" (unless, you know, it becomes time-consuming.) Are Muslims only worth a few minutes of City Council's time? After the City has spent so many years refusing to install a stoplight that would have saved lives at the city's masjid (the mosque), after the City has spent so much effort to smother any resolution of moral support for Palestine-- now they want to pose as defenders of Muslims? Muslims should demand much, much more of City Council members. The Interfaith Council should demand much, much more of City Council.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 7:42 p.m.

Hohnke's proposed resolution is timely, given what's going on nationally. With its generic rants over endless terror threats fading in effectiveness, the far right once again casts about for a new theme to whip up public fear. Their focus returns again to Islam, this time riffing on a variation of bigotry tactics once employed against Catholics during the 1840-50s by the Know-Nothings. The Qur'an replaces the Vatican as the intended target of frenzy and mania, and mandatory Sharia for all substitutes for Papal conquest on the Potomac. This is what life is like inside an Orwell novel. But then again, on a good night I might dream vividly of the Right Rev. Terry Jones standing high in his pulpit at the Norwegian Blue Tabernacle in Gainesville, preaching to the converted ones about the virtuous life of Brian and a greater tolerance for the People's Front of Judea. Oh, and it's silly to argue that council shouldn't discuss this or other relevant topics until they've fully mowed all the parks and fixed each & every bridge. Time-wise, this is a brief agenda item that does a fine deed. Well worth it. Here's a few links related to Park51, Gingrich's hysteria, and Howard Dean:


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

to those going back and forth on the koran or the bible or any other ancient/ ambiguous text: all this is trumped by what people in the real world do in the name of their faith ( erroneously or not). go tell the female victims of islamic honor killings and maimings in gaza and the punjab and baluchistan; lashed (and possibly lethally stoned) adulteresses in iran; beheaded and clitoridectomized girls in somalia etc etc how islam so respects it's womenfolk... and also read an accessible- to- the -layperson article on gender roles in marriage among the pashtun/pathans ( the folks who bring you the taliban) by chuck and cherry lindholm in a Natural History magazine from around 1979 called 'marriage as warfare'... i could also recommend some of my own and my ex -wifes academic stuff on such issues in tribal islamic regions but i don't want to blow such anonymity as i have ( plus it's boring).... and then you can talk.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 6:26 p.m.

"The passage you cite does not support his claim." Sure doesn't.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

"the Koran advocates 100 lashes for an adulterer,..." luckily in good Ol'Merica we just think half their assests is enough. I betcha Tiger Woods would rather face the lash.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:36 p.m.

ERMG - He mentions above this Surah 4.34. I don't know about it but I did a search and it's of course up to scrutiny what it actually means. (well at least from the couple exapmles I saw)

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

Right. You have to look at what people are actually doing in the name of their faiths, rather than what they say they are doing. Meanwhile, the Koran advocates 100 lashes for an adulterer, not necessarily death.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

"Quoting this Jesus person seems to be as relevant to some people as quoting Michigan football statistics is to another group." Yes I think it weakens an argument greatly to look at certain things a regligion says, AND THEN point out that "our," or "my" religion doesn't do that. If I remember correctly from my 'Bible as Lit' class in high school, god laid down some bogus stuff too. It makes it a no win situation pitting one against the other as eaach side can pull out plenty of "dirt" on the other.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:15 p.m.

No idea, Lokalisierung. Quoting this Jesus person seems to be as relevant to some people as quoting Michigan football statistics is to another group. Think for yourselves, people. Use your brains and form your own moral guidelines.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:05 p.m.

"New Testament trumps the Old oh ye of little faith." What does that mean?


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

The concept of "Islamophobia" is so overblown.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

I find it "interesting" that there are so many people who find the AA City Council's action on this issue to be controversial. I doubt that it took up a considerable amount of Council time, as I'm certain there was little, if any, debate.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:38 p.m.

" Jesus told his followers not to have symbols of any kind." Sure but I don't know if "what jesus said" really fits in to this discussion?


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:37 p.m.

steve b.,re your critique of 'chuck norris' :Just as critics cherrypick passages in the holy books of all faiths,so do believers themselves.... and the plethora of ultra- violent jihadist groups in today's islam ( and often in the past as well) simply cannot be swept under a rose colored carpet..... extremist christians like terry jones and fred phelps are also doctrinal cherrypickers who resemble noone so much as the the taliban and al-qaeda in their bigotry... BUT they are not on the verge of running countries, or committing mayhem among both infidels and fellow believers alike...largely because they are effectively reined in by members of their own society.. wish the islamic world could say the same, per my previous.

Val Losse

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:33 p.m.

There are so many comments that I didn't read all of them. I don't know if this point was made; Jesus told his followers not to have symbols of any kind. As everyone can see symbols cause a lot of trouble because there will always be somebody who will do something to someone's symbol. A symbol is not the religon nor is the written word it is what is in the hearts of the people who believe.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

"Lest someone grasp a few passages from the Bible, oh maybe Deuteronomy, and use them to describe the entire family of Christian religions." While I agree with what you're saying, that is infering that Chuck Norris thinks that Christianity isn't "full of hate." I don't know, maybe he does. It's certainly been at the heart of more deaths in history than, well i don't know what but a lot. I'm not so sure I wouldn't think Chistianity was full of hate after reading maybe the Old Testament.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

What's interesting about the latest fad council has embraced is that they are doing their best to appease the most inflexible, intolerant, hate-filled group of people in the entire world. If Muslims want respect, they have to stand up and protest hatred in their own ranks. Meanwhile, if you want to play the Google game, "death to Jews" generates 100 times the hits of either their Muslim or Christian counterparts. This so-called "illegally occupied" non-country is legally governed by a political party that calls for the violent deaths of every Jewish person in the entire region. Every single one. So, forgive me if I pass on supporting this irrelevant councilman's limousine guilt. I have grown to distrust the Muslim faith and those who fervently practice it specifically due to their own behavior. No one else's. No resolution can change that. It seems to me to be a religion based on violence, intolerance and hate. That's what I've concluded from reading countless news stories and interviews. We can't appease that hate. No one can appease a bully - the only way to stop one is to stand up to one.

Steve Borgsdorf

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

It is rather flimsy (I'm willing to call it flimsy because I'm pretty certain you aren't the REAL Chuck Norris) to offer a couple of passages from the Quran and then dismiss the entire religion as "full of hate." Lest someone grasp a few passages from the Bible, oh maybe Deuteronomy, and use them to describe the entire family of Christian religions.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

@maple..may i respectfully suggest that not all who are critical of aspects of islam are ignorant or prejudiced ( which implies pre-judging without knowledge or real information). although many no doubt are, others are 'post judiced'...i.e. harsh judgement reluctantly,and only after diligent search for information which is totally reasonable. a widespread automatic defensiveness and dismissal of such informed critiques only hardens the perception of muslims as excessively and destructively un self-critical. This stands in contrast to other faiths which,perhaps equally excessively on occasion, over criticize themselves, (which can however lead to positive self correction when its not totally outlandishly self-loathing, as it is with one particular poster here). The cartoon riots are a paradigm of this point as is the inability of the supporters of the NYC mosque to empathize with many of even its more thoughtful and liberal critics (like howard dean, the anti-defamation league etc). Notable exceptions to this sorry tendency are my friend, public intellectual/ scholar/diplomat akbar ahmed ( also no fan of the NYC mosque), washington post op-ed writer scholar/diplomat ijaz mansoor and hirsi ali, the somali activist. Unfortunately ( but sadly no longer surprisingly) 2 of these voices in the wilderness of unreflexive self-pity, are under either fatwa or exile from their native countries... sad...

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

@Leann:"Once you step into the more conservative or less educated regions, you hear more anti-Islam statements, ie downriver, Brighton, Texas, southern states, etc." @Rob Skrobola: "To read your post, we now know: Anyone that is a conservative is uneducated. Anyone living in Brighton hates Muslims. People in the south are bigots." Mr. Skrobola, I think you need to hone your cognitive reading skills a bit. The conclusions you draw are not accurate.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:54 p.m.

@Atticus: Nowhere did I make any comment whatsoever about the contents of the Quran, as you claim. You paint with a very broad brush and lump together all that offend you without restraint. At least, Joe McCarthy limited himself to guilt-by-association. You dispense with the association part.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Chuck, as I stated before, it's not our buisness to police the world...And it's not our buisness to tell others what to believe, and what to conform to. Have a good weekend, ALL.

Rob Skrobola

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:32 p.m.

@leann: Although I support the idea of this cause, I don't think it is Ann Arbor community that needs teaching of tolerance. As a conservative, I think Ann Arbor is a shockingly intolerant community. Your post is a perfect example of that fact. To read your post, we now know: Anyone that is a conservative is uneducated. Anyone living in Brighton hates Muslims. People in the south are bigots. Could you point out how you are being any less provincial and "us vs. them" than the people you are vilifying? Rob

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

To Chuck Norris and demistify, First I believe your particular interpritation of the quran is wrong, and is in line with Bill Oreily, and Glen Becks interpretation. And even if it was correct, people are free to believe whatever they want... No matter how terrible, racist, sexist, dehumanizing, ect.. You must also understand that our constitution protects peoples rights to their own free thoughts just as it protects your right to your own free thought. And even if our country became over run with the majority being religious extremeist, our consitution is supposed to protect us. Thats why we can't let our constitution be voided out by religous extremeist, weather they be athiest, Christians, or Muslims. Also, you should note that whatever happens in other countries is not relevent to us because they dont have all of the same constitutional standards as us.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:23 p.m.

Maple, I should not have said "hanging", though gays are routinely killed in Arabic Muslim societies and in Shite Iran--the mullahs state that it is the Koran that commands such. Also, I am not "PC stating intolerance of others' beliefs". I'm not saying that any offensive beliefs should be banned (that would be PC); I'm just pointing out what some difficult Muslim beliefs and practices are, which make people not wanting to destroy the Muslim faith (all faiths have offensive beliefs to many others), and trying to explain why people of good will, who may be concerned about human rights as we understand them in the West, are sometimes afraid of an overly strong Muslim presence in the public square.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

As a Muslim I thank the Ann Arbor City Council for taking a stand to show that there are SOME places in this country where we can still reasonably expect to be treated like human beings and have somebody stand up to support our rights as Americans and human beings. After living for many years in the Bible Belt where my family and I were treated like dirt every time we left the house, life in Ann Arbor has been a breath of fresh air. My family and I still go home in amazement and trade stories about how we were actually treated like normal people when we went places. Of course there ARE still problems and prejudiced people. Especially when stepping outside of the 25 square miles surrounded by reality... when we go to Ypsi and Saline and other country areas things aren't as relaxed anymore. Some of you have claimed that there is no rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric. I am astounded by such a statement, clearly you have not watched the news much lately. This has to do with more than just the Qur'an-burning incident and there have been protests and bigoted rhetoric thrown around over mosques in multiple states, not just in Manhattan. There have also been acts of violence in the past few months including a mosque that was bombed, one that was shot at, and a construction site that was set on fire. Bigoted rhetoric has involved not just fringe right-wing bloggers but mainstream politicians. Finally, as in the past, I see people posting completely made-up stories about what they believe "Islam" or even the "Koran" says. For example one commenter above claims that the Koran mandates "hanging for gays". Sorry, but no such verse exists, nor does one similar to it. It is just completely made up. It is also pretty disturbing to note that we can always expect that if there is an article on any news site that mentions ANYTHING about Muslims, the comments quickly fill up with all sorts of bigotry, conspiracy theories, false statements, slander of individuals, xenophobia... those of you who think there is no problem of anti-Muslim rhetoric should ask yourselves why this does not happen when articles are published about other faith/ethnic/racial/etc groups. It's to the point where many of us feel we have to restrain ourselves from reading comments threads on otherwise positive stories because of the depression the comments often induces.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

When a Hamas member was elected mayor of Bethlehem, he proposed building a mosque on Manger Square. There is a mosque in Jerusalem on the site of Solomon's Temple. The site of mosques (and of the houses of worship of other religions) is often chosen for its symbolism. In the past, conquest by warriors of a different religion has frequently been accompanied by replacement of an existing house of worship by one of the new masters on the same spot, usually after destroying the old one. Remember the Taliban blowing up a thousand-year-old Buddhist temple. More recently, they and their al Qaeda allies have been blowing up Shiite mosques in Iraq and Pakistan (with the worshipers inside).


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

ed...although i imagine you were being a bit facetious with your earler 'enjoyment of food leads to cross-cultural understanding' implication,you actually have hit on a real issue: i.e. many people, including professional anthropologists like me ( and anthony bourdain on occasion, although i like the guy alot), sometimes wind up being excessively tolerant of bad behaviors in other cultures because of an initial attraction to some attractive aesthetic aspect ( food, art, dance, etc) in the culture that has nothing to do with fundamental moral virtues/behavior.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

Okay, we're all against religious intolerance. That isn't the issue. All I ask is that Council Members (like Carsten Hohnke) PLEASE stop wasting time and grandstanding to get cheap applause and pats on the back by bringing up no-brainer issues that are happening in OTHER cities and start doing the work you were "hired" to do and deal with the real problems and issues in OUR city.

Bob Needham

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:54 p.m.

Couple off-topic comments removed. Also, for the record, it hasn't really "turned out" that the La Shish owner was sending money to Hezbollah -- federal officials believe that *may* have happened, but he was never charged with supporting terrorism, much less convicted, and denied doing so. The outstanding charges against him are on tax-evasion and immigration issues.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

bedrog, I got the sense that he was trying to say in other words, that Lebanese can't be trusted to cook because they will only funnel the money to support alqada.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

Blain, Thats a pretty broad statement...Especially considering that most of the decisions to occupy were made under a Republican congress and president. How many wars did we have when Clinton was in office? Sorry but I just don't subscribe to the "all political parties are exactly the same" mentality.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

atticus...i think 'demistify' simply said he cant dine at la shish anymore, for the reasons cited, as indeed none of us can. Not that he doesn't like lebanese food anymore.. But palm palace ( at the old la shish location), and the new Sheesh on main street are still, and will remain, popular with those of us who are able to separate the very real problems in the contempory islamic world from good chow.HAifa felafel is also particularly good for a quick meal. For that matter,although i totally favor the current policy of droning the taliban into oblivion, id love to see a good afghan restaurant in town. Indeed some of the best in the u.s. are owned by the brother of the country's corrupt and double dealing president hamid karzai.. and just writing this makes want the 'chapli kabob' and 'chapandaz' stew at the HELMAND in cambridge mass..YUM!

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

Good point treetown...I guess I should have been a little more descriptive. I certainly dont think people have the right to burn toxic waste. Leaves on the other hand is a whole nother debate.

Blaine Coleman

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:32 p.m.

Should the focus of City Council and interfaith activism be to arrive at a consensus that Muslims should not be murdered, and that the Qur'an should not be burned in public? After all these years, is that the most that City Council and interfaith peaceniks can rouse themselves to demand? Let me tell you what that kind of broad-broad-coalition activism does: It makes the Democrats, the Republicans, and the occupation generals (such as Petraeus) look like humane people whose first concern is to protect Muslims. Yet the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine have killed millions. Who is financing and cheering on those occupations? The Democrats, the Republicans, and the occupation generals (such as Petraeus). I would rather see the City Council and interfaith groups simply push for an immediate end to those occupations. That is much more important than going hysterical over some guy in Florida shaming himself by desecrating his church's collection of Qur'ans.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:27 p.m.

Atticus, you can't burn leaves in the city. unless you have a card.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

demistify, are you now unabale to enjoy Lebanese food because of the rumored actions of one Lebanese person?


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

"@lokalisierung, do you leave Ann Arbor?" Sure I do, I understand Ann Arbor loves to think of themselves as interlectually superior to places such as "downriver, Brighton, Texas, southern states, etc," but the entire country is not made up of those regions. Our city won't even get medical mary jane rolling, how liberal is that? I can't respond anymore in depth becasue I think maybe my post was removed for not contributing to this sacred thread.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

Ed, "not enough people have enough access to delicious food made by people of other faiths" True, I used to enjoy Lebanese food at La Shish, until it turned out that the owner had been skimming its proceeds to finance the terrorist organization Hizbollah; he fled from the Feds to Lebanon and his restaurants closed.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:20 p.m.

@ leann, you said "Although I support the idea of this cause, I don't think it is Ann Arbor community that needs teaching of tolerance. Once you step into the more conservative or less educated regions, you hear more anti-Islam statements, ie downriver, Brighton, Texas, southern states, etc" you make it sound as though conservatives are more likely to be intolerant and or less educated. To me this sounds as if you are not a very tolerant person, it also reaks of Ann Arbor elististism.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:10 p.m.

The fact the article states "favorable opinion of muslims declining since 2005," even though it does not state whhere this information/poll/research comes from, certainly doesn't make me think it's "sweeping the nation" as the author states in the title of the story.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

Technojunkie, the history of one religous group murdering another is irrelevant as it pertains to our rights in THIS country. I also believe that people have the right to burn anything they want, no matter how offensive it is to others... weather it be flags, bibles, or kurans. That being said, I believe political leaders should be speaking out against these thing, so long as they are not infringing on people rights to do them. I also share your sentiment that art is a matter of oppinion. And am against any public funding of art that is offensive to any religious group.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

Every story and every comment I read states Jones should NOT burn the books... but the headline of this story tells me the opposite -- "'anti-Muslim rhetoric' sweeping nation" where is this rherotic? I visit dozens of sites a day and follow the Drudge Report (which links to stories everywhere) and the only rhetoric I have read is about how americans will be in danger when muslims protest the book burning... forget philosophies and what is right or wrong -- am I this clueless to be missing this part of the story? That there is 'anti-Muslim rhetoric' sweeping nation??????


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:46 p.m. the risk of opening an old can of worms we have all had way too much of, i would simply like to point out that here in ann arbor the only religious institution subject to unjust and simple-minded'stereotyping' and harassment has not been a mosque but a synagogue, and this for 7-years duration... and i hope the city council bears this in mind in its assorted 'freedom of worship' resolutions.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

@lokalisierung, do you leave Ann Arbor? Although I support the idea of this cause, I don't think it is Ann Arbor community that needs teaching of tolerance. Once you step into the more conservative or less educated regions, you hear more anti-Islam statements, ie downriver, Brighton, Texas, southern states, etc. I believe this is due to the religious leaders in the south, in addition to conservative politicians that make blanket statements, i.e. Palin. After this past election and hearing Palin state what she thought was American and patriotic started the fire. I do not have a flag flying in my front yard, but it does not mean that I am not patriotic.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

@Edward: Journalists have an incredibly powerful voice, yet instead of informing, I only see indoctrination. When one writes biased journalism, it is countered by further biased journalism, and so on. Biased journalists are part of the problem. They are inadvertedly, but directly, contributing to the Anti-Islamic Sentiment stirred by the local, national, and international media. Very sad.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:25 p.m. your ( disingenuous?? sincere??) questions about how a given holy book can possibly be at odds with real beliefs and behavior: holy books like the quran, bible and vedas are old, complex and inherently ambiguous---especially in their multiple translations and often multiple authors. In the case of the quran...which unlike the others --IS mostly the product of one person ( Mohammed)the ambiguities reflect mohammed's extemely well documented political history/ agenda ( pro- jewish when he thought he could convert them, anti jewish when he realized he couldn't do so that readily. Which then led to a brutal campaign against them, which has given its name to a current long-range iranian missile...the 'kaibar'. In other words he was no different, in his time, than, say, martin luther a millenium later( first philosemitic looking at jews as allies against the catholic church...then antisemitic when that didnt pan out). The actual behavior/ beliefs of real world believers...muslim, christian, jewish etc... are even more readily discernable than post hoc historical speculation, so no need for you to unfairly bash those posters, like TOP CAT ( with whom i rarely agree) who are, sadly, accurate in stating some troubling facts about a large, although of course not universal, segment of contemporary world islam.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

@Atticus F. Craig as stated in the article this is simply "a resolution affirming the city's commitment to religious tolerance". Whats so wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with religious tolerance...I'm all for it. Its just that the whole meat of the article and quotes is about intolerance of Islam. "protest the rise in "anti-Muslim rhetoric" and "Islamophobia" sweeping the nation." "Hohnke condemned the increasing vandalism and protests against mosques across the United States and violence against Muslim Americans" ""we're working on a response to show our support to the Muslim community" "speak out against what they're characterizing as "Islamophobia." I am merely suggesting religious intolerance isn't confined to Muslims in America although to read the article its all that is discussed. I would further suggest that in the big picture being a Muslim in America is a much better gig than being a Jew or Christian is in predominately Muslim countries.

John Q

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.

"when Pastor Jones wants to burn the Koran in a demonstration of his congregations religious beliefs, many of these same people say he should be stopped and portray him as the be all and end all leader of the Christian faith." Who are these "many of the same people"? I can't think of anyone who thinks that Pastor Jones represents anyone but himself outside of the people who think all religions are evil or crazy. I also haven't heard one person who has said "he should be stopped". Many people think he's a fool and that he shouldn't do it. I haven't heard one person say that there should be any legal effort to stop him.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 1 p.m.

What I do not understand is how people are for the gournd zero mosque claim they should be allowed to build it and the Islamic terrorists do not represent Islam as a whole and anyone who disagrees is intolerant/ignorant/hateful/phobic....yet....when Pastor Jones wants to burn the Koran in a demonstration of his congregations religious beliefs, many of these same people say he should be stopped and portray him as the be all and end all leader of the Christian faith. Heck, if he goes through with it, he will unleash the rath of the Muslim world upon us. I have not heard about the rath of Christianity being unleashed when people burn the bible. The fact that the Ann Arbor city council is wasting their time and energy on it all (while not surprising in the least) justs adds to the hype.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

I think the media has much to do with the 'phobia' and the fanning of the flames regarding this issue. Two things that makes things worse: 1) So pseudo-pshychologist wannbe attributing the things some people say as being a symptom of a larger, more ominous problem involving a specific political ideology. Biased people tend to give biased opinions. Goes both ways. And 2) The media will make a mountian of a mole hill if it means they can get their viewship all riled up - and their ratings up at the same time. Face it - this is a Pastor of a small church - only 50 members, but they sure are getting a lot of attention aren't they? Thing is - none of us would probably even know about this if the media wasn't harping on it 24 hours a day - everyday. Then we have the White House and the Pentagon involved... Seriously - there are much more important issues for the media, the White House and the Pentagon to be focused upon. That said - no I don't agree with what that pastor is doing, I really don't think it is in line with Christianity and it portrays an incorrect and corrupted version of Christianity. At the same time, I find it appalling that Muslims would threaten the lives of Americans because some pastor whom no one outside of his town or congregation would have even KNOWN about until the media made him the big story of the day. I also find it a bit offputting that our government will spend this much time handwringing over this issue but burning a Bible or an American flag doesn't so much as raise an eyebrow. And worse yet - the threats of violence if some person does burn a Quran. This issue has become so polarizing that people fail to look at both sides clearly and realize that both sides are wrong and right but neither is completelt wrong or right.

Jay Thomas

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:57 p.m.

They can't keep our infrastructure together but just love to pass resolutions about perceived injustices elsewhere in the country.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Craig as stated in the article this is simply "a resolution affirming the city's commitment to religious tolerance". Whats so wrong with that?


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

In the immortal words of Rodney king, "can't we all just get along?"

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:42 p.m.

"@Craig - when I "google up" the phrase "Bomb Ann Arbor Now" I get 17,000 hits, but that doesn't mean that there is a set of terrorists from Ohio ready to fly north along US-23." when I google "Bomb Ann Arbor Now" I get 294,000 hits but sadly you missed my point entirely. within the city limits of Ann Arbor there is no ground swell of anti muslim sentiment. The city council opting to look at a slightly bigger picture, the country as a whole. I am merely suggesting they can look even bigger than that. The city council weighing in on international affairs is not without precedence.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:36 p.m.

lovaduk, thats nothing more than an attempt to put a 'PC' spin on the intolerance of another persons beliefs. In this country you have the right to BELIEVE whatever you want...No matter how offensive it is to others.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:31 p.m.

"Universally" is a pretty strong claim. Many so called Christians feel the same way. I mean let's be honest, people that believe in religion have the ability to believe anything, without any facts or basis in reality. Whether the thoughts be good or bad.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.

I wish Muslims no harm, but that's more than the wish for other faiths. I knew many Muslims, and they are fine people, but they almost universally hate Jews, though the Koran calls the Jewish people the "people of the Book"; and I would hate to see them reach majority status since they, and the Koran, advocate hanging and otherwise killing gay persons, and they treat women like third class citizens.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

@ Ed and Craig, you both should be expecting a visit from men in dark suits and sunglasses shortly

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

Craig, the number of 'google hits' is not an acurate way to guage anything...this should be ovbious because is far more anti muslim rehtoric floating around our culture than there is anti christian. Besides persecuting anybody for their religious beliefs muslim, christian, or whatever is simply wrong.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:12 p.m.

@bunnyabbott, I totally agree. Making a mountain out of a mole hill if you ask me.

Top Cat

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

People of the Islamic faith appear to be doing just fine in America. However, not so for Christians and Jews living in most countries that deem themselves Islamic.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

While Mr. Hohnke is at it, he should form some local committee that addresses issues regarding his faith and national set precedence, if he has time. Makes sense while he's on a roll about religion.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

when I google up "death to Muslims" I get 17.4 million hits. when I google up "death to Christians" I get 21.2 million hits. So Islam doesn't have a corner on the "phobia" problem.

Atticus F.

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

I'm glad to hear city council speaking out about this issue. I also think it's very relevant, since we do have muslims who live in this community, work, and go to school here.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:58 a.m.

I don't see that this has reached the level of hysteria. I don't even see this as an issue that the CC should even be discussing.


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

"Dawud Walid, the Michigan director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and a leading Muslim activist, said no recent anti-Muslim incidents have been reported locally, but he hopes to keep the hysteria happening in other states from reaching Michigan. He said he's been impressed with the community response in Ann Arbor." Thanks Honke. Maybe now you can focus on what's happening in ANN ARBOR! Then again, maybe you want to talk about Arizona's laws next. Any other issues that are no where near Ann Arbor, or Michigan for that matter that you'd like to further waste meeting time with?


Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

I don't know aboot all this "new wave" of anti muslim sentiment. More should I say I think it's being whipped up by the media, I doubt it's any different now than it has been in years. Oh my gosh, a cab driver attacked in New York?!? Wow what are the chances of that?

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

Religious freedom is a significant part of our history as Americans. When I see the intolerence with book burnings and protests, it just makes me sick. Those who are promoting such ignorance need to reread our history, and remember why so many of the imigrants came to America. That is what makes this country great and we cannot forget it.