advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about politics, economics, and more…

Oklahoma Shari’a Law Controversy: The Secret Plot Is Finally Uncovered February 9, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (FNS)—After an exhaustive 18-month investigation, FNS is able to exclusively report that, contrary to popular opinion, Oklahoma’s controversial State Question 755, which is intended to prevent State courts from considering Shari’a law when making legal decisions, was intended to counter an effort already underway to impose such a legal code on the citizens of the State, perhaps as soon as this fall.

Amazingly, the effort to impose Islamic law involves some of Oklahoma’s most prominent business leaders, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art.

Here’s the story, as it can now be reported:

Clay Bennett, the Chair of the ownership group which owns the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder, was a student at Cairo University during the early 1980s. At that time he was introduced into the community by his father’s business associate (real estate has been at the core of the family business), Tendei El-Furlough, who had been helping to steer Mideast money to the Oklahoma real estate investment group.

Even though membership was illegal at the time, El-Furlough was a senior representative of the Muslim Brotherhood, and over the family dinner table Bennett and another Oklahoma exchange student, Brook “Boots” Hall, Jr., who would later serve as an executive in his family business, the Fred Jones Companies, Inc., would hear tales of the Caliphate and how such a political arrangement would help the plight of those in the country where Bennett was living, and across the Arab world.

(Hall’s presence in the country was related to the family’s, and El-Furlough’s, multi-decade association with Braniff Airways)

In the dark days of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, it was very difficult to be a part of the Brotherhood, and as Mubarak’s Government clamped down on any potential political opposition, Bennett’s friend El-Furlough, along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Hari Al-Paratestes, began to reach out to see if a safe place could be found where the Muslim Brotherhood leadership could escape, lay low for some length of time, and then either return to Egypt when things were more hospitable, or begin the creation of the Caliphate from a new, safer, location.

Bennett and Hall were interested, but he knew it would take several years before his plan could come to fruition.

They knew if they were going to create such a haven in Oklahoma that there would have to be some presence in the State that would serve as a focal point for creating cultural change, and they later determined that a sports team could be such a vehicle.

This was most likely going to be a professional basketball team, and as it happens the NBA has been looking to expand their international presence. Conversations were held with Commissioner David Stern, and he was induced to consider making a deal that might lead to the Muslim Brotherhood moving to Oklahoma—and the NBA expanding to several cities in the oil-rich Middle East.

The OKC ownership group first attempted contacts with the Charlotte Hornets, with whom a relationship was established. After two seasons, it was determined that the team was unwilling to be controlled by the OKC ownership group, and the relationship was terminated. (There are rumors that the Charlotte ownership group and numerous players threatened to “spill the beans” regarding the “cultural change” element of the deal, and that payments were made to keep them quiet; this has not been fully confirmed.)

Stern next suggested a team from a “liberal” city: Seattle.

Contacts were made, a deal was struck, and certain Seattle players were “brought in” on the deal with certain cash payments and ownership rights. The new team is known as the “OKC Thunder”.

Bennett began using the team as a “vehicle for change” from the very beginning. For example, before each game, a member of he clergy comes to the floor and leads a prayer; plans are afoot to have more Islamic Imams leading those prayers as this year ends and next year begins.

The changes in the team rosters also reflect the new cultural focus: gone are players like Wally Szczerbiak, Eddie Gill, and Ronald Dupree. Now the Thunder sports players such as Thabo El-Sefolosha, Nenad Al-Krstic, and there are persistent rumors that they’re trying to acquire Lewis Al-Rashad (his birth name) from the Washington Wizards. Serge Ibaka, of course, is the only Chechen in the NBA, and he was brought on board fairly easily.

The Fred Jones Museum (where “Boots” Hall is a Board member) is assisting in the process of “acculturating” Oklahoma residents with their “Mediterranea” exhibit, which will run on the Sooner campus from March to May of 2011, just as the Thunder begins rolling out their Islamic pre-game prayers.

The exhibit will highlight how American artists such as Max Kuehne, William Stanley Haseltine, and Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow were influenced by “the legacy of the Greco-Roman past and the influence of Christianity and Islam”, to quote the exhibit’s website.

More than four dozen similar events have been organized during the next few months throughout the State in an effort to prepare the way for a bill to be introduced in the Oklahoma Legislature in early 2012 that would allow the use of Shari’a law for disputes between Islamic persons; this is one of the preconditions for Muslim Brotherhood leaders to be able to move to the State.

Efforts have been made to “smooth the way” with Oklahoma’s new Governor, Mary Fallin; one example was the group’s substantial donation to the Governor-elect’s transition/inauguration committee, augmented by other donations from groups with energy interests, including The Williams Companies and Devon Energy. Avalon Staffing, the private prison operator who would like to operate in Egypt one day, is also associated with the group and donated $26,000 to the committee.

All of this—the purchase of the team, arranging the change in prayers, the NBA expansion to the Middle East, the Headquarters-in-exile of the Caliphate itself—was put at risk when Rex Duncan came to the table with his State Question (SQ) 755, which will, to quote Duncan directly “constitute a pre-emptive strike against Shari’a law coming to Oklahoma.”

The Question (officially known as the “Oklahoma International Law Amendment”), which would, if passed, become an Amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution, passed in November of 2010, with a 70%-30% “yes” vote.

Despite the efforts of Duncan and others across the State, the Bennett/Hall “Muslim Brotherhood Alliance” group was able to quickly obtain a court order barring enforcement of the law; that order remains in effect today.

As a result, the effort to bring Shari’a law to Oklahoma is again moving forward, unless Duncan and his allies can again stop the process and save the Sooner State from this previously undisclosed international plot.

Sources in Egypt indicate that the Brotherhood is anxious for the new legal code to be adopted as quickly as possible, just in case President Mubarak begins a sudden crackdown and plans and people associated with the Caliphate have to be brought out of the country.

FNS was unable to obtain a comment by press time from any of the involved parties; we are continuing to seek any available statement from press sources.

Advertisements
 

On Fear: The Islam Edition, Or, Do You Know My Friend Wa’el? September 22, 2010

We last got together about ten days ago, when I put up a story that hoped to explain to the Islamic world that, Qur’an burning aside, we don’t really hate either them, or our own Constitution.

I pointed out that, just like everywhere else, about 20% of our population are idiots, that this means about 60,000,000 of us might, at any time, be inclined to burst into fits of random stupidity, such as the desire to burn Qur’ans to make some sort of statement, and that the same First Amendment that protects the freedom of stupid speech also protects the rights of Islamic folks to freely build mosques…and finally, that this apparent “paradox of freedom” is exactly why the US is the kind of country that many Islamic folks the world over wish they lived in as well.

I then went off to enjoy my Godson’s wedding, and I ignored the posting until the next Monday.

On the two dozen sites where it could be found, this was apparently considered to be a fairly innocuous message…with one giant exception, which is what we’ll be talking about today.

Long story short, some portion of this country’s population has some bizarre ideas about Islamic folks…but maybe if they knew my friend Wa’el, they might see things a bit differently.

This world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those that feel

Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Orford, in a letter, August, 1776

So all of this took place at Newsvine…and if you’re not familiar with how things work there, users may “seed” a story that they find of interest, so that it may attract the interest of others. What happens is that the user reposts a shortened version of the original story, along with a link back to the source.

My original posting on the site had fewer than ten comments, but by Monday Newsvine user btco’s seeded version of my story had about 300 comments; today there are more than 625.

Those who were not liking the story basically came down to one of a few categories of responders; here’s one example…

…I live a few minutes from Dearbornistan in Michigan and I can tell you that, as a place with a great deal of Muslims, they barely speak out against the Islamofacists that kill. There is outrage; however, but that outrage is aimed at America instead of the Islamofacists that should be the target of the aforementioned outrage. In fact, Dearborn has seen Muslims verbally attack Christians and forbid them for handing out Christian pamphlets, their 1st amendment right to do so, as this goes against the @!$%#ed up Sharia Law. Until Dearbornistan demands that they will abide willingly with the constitution and ignore the racist and misogynic crap that is Sharia law, then Dearbornistan Muslims side with the enemy and that enemy is Islam.

…and here’s another:

Christianity underwent reformation and was tamed by enlightenment period (during which, BTW, was harshly criticized).

Islam is in its original forms, claws and all.

And people like you, who for some dubious reason think it should be allowed to be what it is are doing great disservice for Muslims whose minds are set for the reforms and who want to live like normal, 21 century people, but are forced to “submit” to medieval dogma.

The idea that all Islamic folks worship a Moon God, that neither democracy nor any other religion can co-exist alongside Islam, that after beating them, all Islamic men send their four wives out to distribute “terror tomatoes” among the infidel population, and that, for adherents of Islam, both the Bible and the Constitution are immoral and corrupt all seems to be accepted wisdom for a bunch of the commenters (except for the “terror tomato” part, which I made up myself); it all seems to come from an apparently long-circulating email that was posted in the comments over and over that purports to prove that Muslims can’t be good Americans.

So is all this true?

Well…let’s start with the question of whether Islamic people can co-exist with democracy…and to help answer that question, let me introduce you to my friend Wa’el.

Wa’el Nawara has been trying to advance the interests of democracy in Egyptian politics for many years now, in the form of his work for the El-Ghad Party, in the face of an Egyptian Government that has been ruled, since the end of King Farouk’s reign, by just one political party, the (secular) NDP. The founder of El-Ghad, Ayman Nour, was imprisoned and tortured for basically getting 8% of the vote in a 2005 Presidential election against the current President, Hosni Mubarak.

To prevent this from happening again, it is also alleged that the Egyptian Government helped to orchestrate a temporarily successful “takeover” of the party from within. (This is not uncommon; the Egyptians security apparatus has acted against numerous parties, including the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood.)

Shortly after Wa’el and I became acquainted (I had been researching a series of stories about Egyptian politics when we were introduced) he was inside the offices of his own Party, which were burned by a mob that was allegedly associated with Egyptian State Security (an event that was recorded, live, by people across the street). Afterwards Wa’el, along with many of the 30 other people who were in the building, were arrested and detained for…you guessed it…suspicion of arson.

It’s not just Wa’el, or the other members of his Party…nor the other members of other Parties, either.

If were to take the time, you’d find out there’s a Center for Democracy in Lebanon, you’d discover that Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and even Saudi Arabia have all held recent local elections, and you’d find out there’s even a debate in the UAE as to whether adopting democratic reforms might be appropriate.

Outside the Gulf, India’s current President is their third Muslim President, Indonesia, which is 80% Muslim, elects their Presidents (even as they struggle with sectarian violence)…and all of that tells me that anyone who thinks Islam and democracy are incompatible should do some more reading.

Can Islam accept the presence of other religions?

One answer can be found in what is today’s Spain, but what used to be Andalucía (or Al-Andalus, if you prefer Arabic), where Moors ruled for centuries over Jews with far more compassion and respect than they ever received under Christian dominion; another, in today’s Egypt, where Christian Copts and Muslims have lived together for thousands of years, even as tensions have increased recently between the two groups.

Does Wa’el beat his four wives?

Not as far as I can tell—and if his one wife ever found out he had three other wives…I’m guessing that wouldn’t go so well for Wa’el.

Is the Bible corrupt to those who follow Islam?

Those who follow “mainstream” Islam believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but they don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, or that He was crucified. Is that corruption? I don’t know, and I guess you’ll have to decide that one for yourself.

Now we need to be fair here, and acknowledge that one branch of Islam does indeed represent much of what my most conservative friends are afraid of: Wahhabi Ikhban. Here’s what the Library of Congress has to say about the sect:

Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab was concerned with the way the people of Najd engaged in practices he considered polytheistic, such as praying to saints; making pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques; venerating trees, caves, and stones; and using votive and sacrificial offerings. He was also concerned by what he viewed as a laxity in adhering to Islamic law and in performing religious devotions, such as indifference to the plight of widows and orphans, adultery, lack of attention to obligatory prayers, and failure to allocate shares of inheritance fairly to women.

When Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab began to preach against these breaches of Islamic laws, he characterized customary practices as jahiliya, the same term used to describe the ignorance of Arabians before the Prophet. Initially, his preaching encountered opposition, but he eventually came under the protection of a local chieftain named Muhammad ibn Saud, with whom he formed an alliance. The endurance of the Wahhabi movement’s influence may be attributed to the close association between the founder of the movement and the politically powerful Al Saud in southern Najd (see The Saud Family and Wahhabi Islam, 1500-1818 , ch. 1).

This association between the Al Saud and the Al ash Shaykh, as Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and his descendants came to be known, effectively converted political loyalty into a religious obligation. According to Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab’s teachings, a Muslim must present a bayah, or oath of allegiance, to a Muslim ruler during his lifetime to ensure his redemption after death. The ruler, conversely, is owed unquestioned allegiance from his people so long as he leads the community according to the laws of God. The whole purpose of the Muslim community is to become the living embodiment of God’s laws, and it is the responsibility of the legitimate ruler to ensure that people know God’s laws and live in conformity to them.

So what have we learned today?

Well, we learned that there is a community of Americans out there who are profoundly afraid of Islam, or anything connected with it, and the odds are that they know very little about the religion, other than what they’ve seen and copied and pasted, over and over, in a particularly ignorant email.

My friend Wa’el, on the other hand, lives a life that disproves those myths: in addition to being the target of a mob, he’s been jailed, along with many of his friends and associates, for trying to create a more democratic Egypt, he has just the one wife, who lives as an equal in their house, and his own country, Egypt, is one of numerous Islamic countries that have other religions well-established within their borders.

We also learned that numerous countries with Islamic populations are countries with varying degrees of representative democracy…and that the world’s largest democracy just inaugurated their third Muslim President.

Now the question that we’re addressing today is whether Muslims can be good Americans—and the fact is that Wa’el and his family would make great Americans…even though they’re not…and if I can point to Muslims who would make great Americans and live halfway around the world…how much you wanna bet we can find tens of thousands more in the heart of Dearbornistan?

 

On The View From Egypt, Part One, Or, How Professionals Rig Elections October 3, 2008

It has been but a few hours since Sarah Palin took the stage to have a conversation with Joe Biden, and of course the Nation has a ton of questions.

What will happen now?
How will we view all this in a few days?
How will it affect McCain and Obama?

I don’t know…and I’m not even going to try to figure it out right this minute.

Instead, we’re going to take a trip halfway across the world to a country that has been essential to understanding the Middle Eastern story, has been at the center of international conflicts time and time again…and has lessons to teach us that, if we learn them well, could make us a much smarter “Foreign Policy Nation” than we are today.

The country? Egypt.

So grab your virtual passport…and after we arrive, there are a few people I want you to meet.

This is part one of a bigger story, and over the next few days I’m going to try to give you some recent history (well, recent for a country with a history that goes back 7,000 years…), along with an explanation of how political factions are aligned today…how some political factions aren’t even allowed to align…and a few words about the hazards of having an opinion in Egypt—even if it’s online.

Included will be a critical lesson: Democracy and Freedom, which we say we support, can lead to the election of people we don’t like…and that the true measure of a democracy is accepting—and sometimes even encouraging–those outcomes, even if we don’t like them.

So before we can talk about Egyptian politics, we have to talk about…Egyptian Politics.

The Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt has provisions that pretty much guarantee that there will be no meaningful political opposition. We’ll go right to the Constitution itself for an explanation of how it’s done (where it appears, emphasis was added by me):

PART ONE
THE STATE

Article 5
The political system of the Arab Republic of Egypt is a multiparty one, within the framework of the basic elements and principles of the Egyptian society as stipulated in the Constitution (Political parties are regulated by law).

PART TWO
BASIC CONSTITUENTS OF THE SOCIETY
CHAPTER 1
Social and Moral Constituents

Article 7
Social solidarity is the basis of the society.

PART THREE
PUBLIC FREEDOMS, RIGHTS AND DUTIES

Article 47
Freedom of opinion is guaranteed.
Every individual has the right to express his opinion and to publicise it verbally or in writing or by photography or by other means within the limits of the law.
Self-criticism and constructive criticism is the guarantee for the safety of the national structure.

Article 48
Freedom of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed.
Censorship on newspapers is forbidden as well as notifying, suspending or cancelling them by administrative methods.
In a state of emergency or in time of war a limited censorship may be imposed on the newspapers, publications and mass media in matters related to public safety or purposes of national security in accordance with the law.

The “State of Emergency” provision was invoked in 1981 after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat—and it has been faithfully renewed by his successor, President Hosni Mubarak, every two years since, most recently in May of this year.

You may have noticed that political parties are regulated by law. Specifically, it’s Law 177/2005. Below is the important language (emphasis will again be added where I think it is needed):

Article 4:
For a political party to be established or maintained, it shall satisfy the following conditions:

ii: The party’s principles, goals, platforms, policies or modalities of exercising its activities shall not contradict the Constitution or requirements of maintaining national unity, social peace and the democratic system.

iii: The party’s platform shall constitute an addition to the political life according to specific methods and goals.

iv: In its principles or platforms or in practicing its activities or selecting its leaderships or members the party shall not be based on religious, class, sectarian, categorical, geographical grounds or on manipulating religious feelings or discrimination on account of origin or creed.

VI: The party shall not pose as a branch of a foreign party or political organization.

Article 7:
A notice in writing shall be submitted to the chairman of Political Parties Affairs Committee stipulated in Article 8 hereof as regards the establishment of the party signed by at least 1000 constituent members whose signatures shall be officially authenticated. The members shall be drawn from at least ten governorates with no less than fifty members from each….

Article 8:
The Political Parties Affairs Committee shall be composed as follows:
1- the Speaker of the Shura Council, as chairman;
2- Minister of Interior;
3- Minister for the People’s Assembly Affairs;
4- three former heads or deputy heads of the judiciary bodies who are not affiliated to any political party; and
5-three public figures who are not affiliated to any political party, as members.
The selection of the members stipulated in Items 4&5 shall be made by a Presidential decree for three years renewable.
The Committee shall have the competence to examine and consider notices of the establishments of the parties according to the provisions of this law, let alone the other competencies stipulated therein…

We will continue with the text of Article 8 in a moment, but before we do, some explanations are in order.

The Shura Council is one of the two halves of Egypt’s Legislative Branch; and it serves a function somewhat similar to that of the United States Senate.

Because Egypt’s National Democratic Party (NDP) controls Parliament and the Presidency, the Political Parties Affairs Committee (PPAC), who grants the license you need to form a political party (and can revoke it as well…) consists of the Speaker of the Shura Council, (obviously, an NDP member), two members of the President’s Cabinet, and six people appointed by the President.

The obvious conflicts between this arrangement and what we would think of as a true multiparty system will be the focus of part two of this story…but for now, we return you to Article 8, already in progress:

…To exercise its competencies, the Committee may demand much documents, papers, data and clarifications at it deems as necessary, from the concerned parties as much time as it determines. It may also demand any documents, papers, data or information from any official or public body and it may conduct on its own or through a sub-committee of its own such research as it may deem appropriate. It may also commision [sic] any such official bodies as it may deem appropriate to conduct or study necessary to reach the truth about matters submitted thereto…

Article 9:
The party shall be a private judicial person…

Article 11:
The resources of the party shall consist in subscriptions of its members, financial support received from the State and the donations by Egyptian natural persons…

The party may not accept any contribution, privilege or benefit from any foreigner, any foreign or international body or from any judicial person type even if it enjoys Egyptian citizenship.

These clauses tell us that the Government’s PPAC can start it’s own investigations of any party—and that Parties are not allowed, by law, to align themselves together in coalitions.

I am often guilty of going too long in these stories…so let’s get to the end of part one.

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and the NDP have created an ongoing quarter-century “emergency situation” that allows them to decide who can be a political party, that allows them to revoke the license of a party that they feel violates the rules they create…and because of the Constitutional mandate to protect “National Unity”, any political party that says the NDP is doing anything wrong is potentially in violation of the law.

These rules create conditions that are impossible to satisfy, and as a result politicians, protesters…and even bloggers…are at risk for arrest and imprisonment. But that’s a story for another day—and to make the story better, when we get together next time we’ll be meeting one of those politicians in a very close-up and personal way.