Three deeply disturbing stories tonight revolving around the growing climate of hate and violence against Muslims in the new Era of Trump.
Today in Washington DC, the If Not Now activist group continued its protest against the Aipac national conference. Yesterday, the young activists had succeeded in blocking the entrance to the conference hall. Today, they were met by JDL thugs who beat on them with staves and kicked them in the head till they drew blood. A Palestinian-American father of four, Kamal Nayfeh, was pummeled so savagely he needed 18 stitches and almost lost an eye. His daughter had to scream at police who seemed loathe to arrest the thugs. They even threatened to arrest her if she didn’t stop. They finally did arrest the attacker.
But the fat zhlub-thug in this video, Meir Weinstein, leader of JDL Canada boasts of his exploits just before high-ranking it out of the U.S. Considering he’s boasting of beating U.S. citizens to a pulp and crossed an international border to do so, the FBI and RCMP might want a few words with him. Naturally, virtually every claim he makes is an outright lie. Or perhaps an alternative fact. According to the Forward and Washington Jewish Week, two of his followers were arrested, Yosef Steynovitz of Vaughan, Ont., and Rami Lubranicki of Howell, N.J.
Instead of expelling Muslim refugees from our shores Trump may want to ban Canadian head-bangers like this creep.
Yesterday, 29 year-old Iranian architect Aalia Ghandi completed a 30-hour trip from Tehran to visit her sister in Portland. But when she landed there, Border Control detained and interrogated her for six hours. Eventually, they refused to permit her to enter the U.S. despite her having a valid U.S. visit for her two-week vacation. She was shipped off first to a federal detention center, then back to Portland, and finally to another federal immigration jail in Tacoma, WA (just south of my home in Seattle). Aalia is spending her second night behind bars. Her American family has had a single brief telephone conversation with her. All subsequent contact has been restricted.
When Border Control was asked by the ACLU on what grounds she was being held, it was told she was not being held under the Trump anti-refugee executive order. Which they had to say, since a federal judge in Hawaii placed an indefinite stay on enforcement of the president’s order. One agency said she was being held under a “federal warrant.” Which is preposterous because there are no outstanding criminal warrants of any kind against her. Another agency called her detention of “minor administrative matter.” But they refuse to specify what precise violation they found.
During the interrogation, the feds asked Aalia’s sister whether she was coming to the U.S. to babysit her children. That’s a common way foreign au pairs enter the U.S. and then overstay their visas. But she is an architect and has visited the U.S. before, and returned to Iran.
They wanted to ship her right back to Amsterdam but she refused. She now is claiming refugee status on the grounds that if she returns to Iran the regime will view her with suspicion and persecute her due to her U.S. arrest. The ACLU has warned that she may may face months in prison till her case can be heard.
If anyone reading this knows her family please be in touch. I will help in any way I can.
Also in Oregon, an Iranian-American who’s lived in this country since 2010 came home from a three-day Canadian vacation to find his home had been ransacked with Islamophobic graffiti sprayed-painted in every room and on every piece of furniture. A note on his coffee table was weighed down by seven .45 caliber bullets in the shape of a cross.
The irony is that Hasel Afshar is not Muslim. He’s Baha’i, an offshoot of Islam which is reviled by the Iranian regime. Adherents of Bahaism are persecuted mercilessly there. That’s one of the reasons he left, hoping to find a safer home abroad. He says he will clean up the mess and sell his home and move to Australia or Canada. It’s not worth dying for this. Though it pains me to hear this and know that this is his judgement of my homeland, I can’t disagree with him.
Donald Trump and his alt-right supremacists have composed a new Battle Hymn of the Republic. And they are trampling out the vintage of Islamophobic hate where the grapes of wrath are stored.
On a related subject: the City of Seattle has just filed a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has threatened to withhold U.S. funding from cities which declare themselves sanctuaries for refugees and immigrants. Mayor Ed Murray (who readers may remember I oppose on the issue of Israel-Palestine) and the city attorney have filed the suit in the same court which overturned Pres. Trump’s first Muslim travel ban. I’m proud that my city is taking on this noxious policy. This is last night’s PressTV interview I gave:
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.