Marches Against Islamic Law Planned in Some US Cities

Marches against Islamic law were planned Saturday in more than two dozen cities across the United States, but scholars and others say the protesters are stoking unfounded fears and promoting a distorted and prejudiced view of the religion. 

 

The group organizing the rallies, ACT for America, claims Shariah “is incompatible with Western democracy and the freedoms it affords.” 

What is Shariah?

But most Muslims don’t want to replace U.S. law with Islamic law, known as Shariah, and only “radical extremist groups” would call for that, said Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario. 

 

Shariah, Takim said, refers to guidelines or principles — how Muslims should live. “Fiqh” refers to jurisprudence, or specific laws. The values embedded in Shariah do not change and are shared among Muslims, he said, while fiqh is open to interpretation and change, and in fact differs among Islamic sects and communities. 

 

“In the public domain, Muslims are not required or expected to impose their laws on the country in which they live as the minority,” Takim said, adding there has never been an understanding “that the same laws would be applicable at all times in all places.” 

 

“The Quran allows slavery, so does the Old Testament. That doesn’t mean we allow it today, too,” he said. “Laws are amenable to change.” 

The marches come amid a rise in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S., including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Muslim head coverings and bullying of Muslim schoolchildren. 

State laws, far-right groups

But while there is little likelihood that Shariah would ever supplant U.S. law, some states have moved to insulate themselves against the possibility. 

 

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee have enacted laws prohibiting the use of foreign law in state courts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

 

In Idaho a Republican lawmaker earlier this year introduced a measure aimed at preventing Shariah from being applied, though an Idaho judge has never based a ruling on Islamic law. 

Two far-right groups, the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, are to provide security at some of the anti-Shariah demonstrations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. 

 

ACT for America has chapters around the country and says it is focused on fighting terrorism and promoting national security. It says it condemns bias against religious groups and is “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with peaceful Western Muslims as well as peaceful Muslims worldwide.” 

 

Counter-marches, freedom of speech

On Saturday counter-demonstrations were planned by opponents who called the events anti-Muslim. 

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who says her district has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S., said the marchers “will be total failures on Saturday because we will be united against them.” 

 

Freedom of speech has become a contentious issue surrounding the marches, apparently the first simultaneous anti-Shariah rallies held across the U.S. 

Portland rally moved

 

A march had been planned for Portland, but an organizer moved it to Seattle after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called on the federal government to deny a permit. Wheeler said the rally would exacerbate tensions after two men were stabbed to death in May on a commuter train while protecting two teenage girls from a man casting anti-Muslim slurs. 

 

The organizer said “inflammatory comments” by Wheeler put participants at risk of violence. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon scolded Wheeler, saying trying to deny a permit without imminent threat of violence amounted to unconstitutional government censorship. 

 

Seattle was one of the cities where a counter-march was planned. Aneelah Afzali, who heads a Seattle-area group that works against discrimination and hate crimes, said she will also be putting up an “ask a Muslim booth” so people can ask questions directly about Islam, and dispel any misconceptions. 

 

“We want to counter (the anti-Shariah march) and keep it as positive as possible, and educate people about what Islam teaches,” Afzali said in a phone interview. 

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US Commerce Chief Seen Imposing Mexico Sugar Deal Over Industry Objections

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is likely to impose a new sugar trade deal with Mexico even if final revisions to it fail to win support from the U.S. industry, trade lawyers and experts say.

After announcing a deal this week that would dramatically cut the amount of refined sugar that Mexico ships to the United States, officials from the two countries are working with their industries on final language that would govern its operation.

At issue is a new right of first refusal granted to Mexico to supply all U.S. sugar needs not met by domestic suppliers or other foreign quota holders.

A coalition of American sugar cane and beet farmers and a major refiner want a more explicit guarantee that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not Mexican producers, will dictate what type of sugar fills that gap. They are worried that a flood of refined sugar will pour in, rather than the raw sugar needed to keep U.S. mills running.

Sugar, lumber issues

The final sticking point stands in the way of resolving a years-long dispute over Mexican access to the highly regulated U.S. sugar market, which is protected by a complex web of subsidies and rationed quotas for foreign producers.

The sugar industry is known for its sway in Washington. But its point of view on Mexican imports is not shared by sugar users such as confectioners and soda makers.

The Trump administration wants to clear away the sugar dispute and a lumber trade row with Canada before starting full-scale negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement.

An industry rarely objects to a government-negotiated settlement of its anti-dumping case, and U.S. sugar producers could do little to stop the Commerce Department from implementing a final deal after a two-week comment period, said Seattle-based trade lawyer William Perry, who previously worked at Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

‘Never entirely happy’

While the industry could ask the International Trade Commission to overturn the settlement that suspends anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duty orders issued in 2014, chances for success look slim. The panel in 2015 rejected a challenge by two sugar refiners to the previous U.S.-Mexico pact.

“Petitioners are never entirely happy with suspension agreements like this,” Perry said. “They would rather have anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders with rates high enough to shut out imports.”

A Commerce spokesman said that Ross hoped the U.S. sugar industry would ultimately endorse the final agreement.

Willing to compromise

Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the administration was probably willing to compromise on some industry-specific concerns to help reach its larger NAFTA goals of reducing U.S. trade deficits.

The U.S. sugar industry must probably present evidence of new Mexican dumping before going back to Commerce for more changes to the deal, said Daniel Pearson, a senior fellow of the libertarian Cato Institute and former International Trade Commission chairman.

“They would do well to take this agreement and run with it and see how it works,” Pearson said, noting that it raises prices and keeps U.S. refiners well-supplied with raw sugar.

Mexico OK with language

Mexico made major concessions to maintain its access to the lucrative U.S. market, agreeing to ship no less than 70 percent of its quota volume as raw sugar to U.S. refineries. It gave ground on nearly all of the U.S. producers’ demands.

American Sugar Alliance spokesman Phillip Hayes said the final hurdle should be easy to address by making clear that the USDA, not Mexico, can dictate the type and purity level of any additional imports.

But Juan Cortina, head of Mexico’s main sugar trade group, said there was no problem with the language because any additional needs would filled with raw sugar, as Mexican producers would have to keep higher inventories of that grade.

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L’Oreal Set to Sell The Body Shop to Brazil’s Natura in $1.1B Deal

French cosmetics and luxury goods group L’Oreal has started exclusive talks to sell The Body Shop business to Brazilian makeup company Natura Cosmeticos in a possible 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) deal.

Earlier this year, L’Oreal had announced it was reviewing its strategy for The Body Shop, which it bought for 652 million pounds in 2006, and the sale of the business had attracted a wide range of bidders.

L’Oreal said on Friday it had received a firm offer from Natura Cosmeticos, and the proposed deal put an enterprise value (equity plus debt) of 1 billion euros on the four-decades-old beauty brand — an innovator in the mass marketing of cosmetics made without animal testing and with natural ingredients.

Founded in 1976 by British entrepreneur Anita Roddick, The Body Shop was a pioneer in its field but had since fallen victim to increased competition from newcomers offering similar products based on natural ingredients with no animal testing.

L’Oreal shares were up 0.7 percent in late session trading, as investors welcomed progress toward a deal and the price tag.

“It’s a good move, given that The Body Shop had been one of the least profitable parts of the L’Oreal business,” said Roche Brune Asset Management fund manager Gregoire Laverne.

Keren Finance fund manager Gregory Moore said the price tag had pleased L’Oreal investors, since earlier reports had stated it could be sold for around 800 million euros.

“The stock has reacted well to the news, because there were some people who thought it could be sold for less,” said Moore, whose firm owns L’Oreal shares in its portfolio.

Shares in Natura fell 2.4 percent on the Brazil stock exchange, with Natura saying it would take on loans to finance the deal.

Natura chief executive Joao Paulo Ferreira said The Body Shop would fit in well with Natura’s similar businesses, such as its Aesop brand.

L’Oreal shares are up around 10 percent so far in 2017, broadly in line with the CAC-40, with the stock having touched a record high earlier this month.

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Mosque Leader Quits After Imam’s Genital Mutilation Comment

A leader at one of Virginia’s largest mosques has resigned after the imam there made comments in support of female genital mutilation.

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, who was director of outreach at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, posted his resignation Friday on his website.

Abdul-Malik says he’s leaving after “many reprehensible statements” by Dar Al-Hijrah’s senior imam, Shaker Elsayed, including his recent comments on genital mutilation.

In a recorded lecture, Elsayed described the practice as a way to avoid “hyper-sexuality” and “the honorable thing to do if needed.”

Dar Al-Hijrah’s board denounced Elsayed’s comments Monday. Two days later, it placed him on administrative leave.

In the lecture, Elsayed says that the practice, also known as female circumcision, has received a bad name because poorly trained surgeons are too aggressive in the procedure. He said the surgery is properly carried out with a minimalist approach “so that she is not hyper-sexually active. This is the purpose.”

Elsayed later issued a clarification through the mosque’s website saying that “Islam would never support anything that harms anybody’s well-being” and that he should have avoided his comments on hyper-sexuality.

“I hereby take it back. And I do apologize to all those who are offended by it,” Elsayed wrote.

Abdul-Malik says in his resignation that the board’s actions against Elsayed are insufficient.

“Ultimately, The Board of Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center is responsible for the direction of the community and its leadership. They are proceeding in a different direction than I believe is in the best interest of the congregation and the community at-large,” Abdul-Malik wrote.

Neither Abdul-Malik nor Elsayed immediately returned calls Friday morning.

The Falls Church mosque has been mired in controversy since the Sept. 11 attacks, when its imam was Anwar Al-Awlaki, who later left the U.S. and became a senior figure in al-Qaida before being killed in a drone strike.

Elsayed has been controversial in his own right. He served as an unofficial spokesman for the family of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali during his 2005 terrorism trial. Abu Ali, who worshipped at Dar Al-Hijrah, was convicted of joining al-Qaida while studying overseas and plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush.

In a 2005 Associated Press interview, he defended the militant group Hamas, which the U.S. government designates as a terrorist group. “Everybody jumps on Hamas,” Elsayed said. “Look at how long Israel has occupied [Palestinian lands]. How long did it take to say enough is enough?”

He also told the AP that dating is prohibited in Islam and that women cannot marry a man of their choosing without he woman’s family’s consent.

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Source: Trump Legal Team to File Complaint Over Comey Memos

U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer plans to file a complaint early next week about former FBI Director James Comey’s disclosure of conversations with the president, a person close to the legal team said on Friday.

Lawyer Marc Kasowitz will file the complaint with the Justice Department’s inspector general and will also make a “submission” to the Senate Judiciary and Senate Intelligence committees about Comey’s testimony, said the source, who declined to be identified because the matter was not public.

Comey, in U.S. Senate intelligence committee testimony on Thursday, accused Trump of firing him to try to undermine the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Comey said Trump pressured him to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and told Comey that he needed his loyalty, even though FBI directors are supposed to work independently from the White House.

Kasowitz disputed those points and attacked Comey for leaking “privileged communications” to the media.

Legal experts have questioned Kasowitz’s contention that Trump’s private encounters with Comey should be considered privileged communications.

 

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Warren Buffett Auctions Off Lunch to Raise Money for Charity

The winning bid for a private lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett may top several million dollars in an online auction to benefit a California homeless charity that wraps up Friday night.

For the 18th consecutive year, Buffett is auctioning off a lunch to raise money for the Glide Foundation, which helps homeless people in San Francisco. The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has raised nearly $24 million through the auctions. Last year’s winner paid $3,456,789, which tied the record set in 2012.

Buffett has praised the charity for the work it does helping people. Buffett became a believer in Glide’s work after his first wife, Susie Buffett, showed him what the group was doing for the poor and homeless. Susie Buffett had volunteered for the San Francisco charity before her death in 2004.

“Everyone that has experienced Glide comes away a believer,” said Buffett.

Glide provides meals, health care, job training, rehabilitation and housing support to the poor and homeless.

This year’s eBay auction began Sunday and runs through Friday at 7:30 p.m. PDT.

Buffett says the only topic that’s off limits in the lunch conversation is what Buffett might invest in next, and the 86-year-old says he usually gets a wide range of questions.

The winners of the lunch auction typically dine with Buffett at Smith and Wollensky steak house in New York City, which donates at least $10,000 to Glide each year to host the lunch. If the winner chooses to remain anonymous the lunch has sometimes been held elsewhere.

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Ґрібаускайте: немає умов для послаблення санкцій проти Росії

Президент Литви Даля Ґрібаускайте заявила, що не бачить жодних підстав для послаблення санкцій Заходу проти Росії. Про це вона сказала у п’ятницю під час зустрічі з президентом України Петром Порошенком в Харкові. 

«З нашої точки зору, з точки зору НАТО, Європейського союзу та ОБСЄ ситуація на східних кордонах погіршується, демонстративна агресивна поведінка досі зберігається. Тому немає жодних умов для послаблення будь-яких санкцій», – сказала Ґрібаускайте.

Також вона заявила, що «нормандський формат» працює, проте може бути змінений чи розширений. 

«Але у нас немає іншого вибору, ніж виконувати мінські домовленості», – додала президент Литви.

Європейський союз, США та інші країни «Групи семи» скоординовано наклали санкції щодо низки пов’язаних із владою Росії фізичних і юридичних осіб, а також щодо деяких секторів російської економіки кількома пакетами. Чинність цих санкцій періодично продовжують через агресію Москви проти України у Криму й на частині Донбасу.

Лідери країн «Групи семи» на саміті наприкінці травня також висловили готовність запровадити нові санкції стосовно Росії, якщо вона й надалі не виконуватиме своїх зобов’язань щодо України за мінськими домовленостями.

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У Дніпрі через заворушення 9 травня повідомлення про підозру вручили 16 особам – прокуратура

У Дніпрі через заворушення 9 травня біля монументу Слави вручено повідомлення про підозру 16 особам. Про це у п’ятницю повідомили заступник прокурора області Роман Токар та керівник слідчого відділу обласної прокуратури Сергій Лисаченко.

За інформацією Руслана Токаря, слідство встановило роль кожного із підозрюваних, зокрема, було вручено повідомлення про підозру трьом організаторам, двом особам, які передавали кошти, одному координатору, який керував молодиками на місці подій, а також десятьом активним учасникам масових заходів.

Як зазначив Роман Токар, їхні дії кваліфіковані за різними статтями Кримінального кодексу України. Семи особам обрано запобіжний захід у вигляді тримання під вартою.

Він також поінформував, що слідчі уклали угоди з чотирма особами, які співпрацюють зі слідством, надаючи важливі дані. Ці люди брали участь у масовому заході, але фізичної шкоди учасникам не спричиняли, їм призначено штрафи – по 50 неоподаткованих мінімумів доходів громадян.

На брифінгу посадовці прокуратури оприлюднили частину фото та аудіо матеріалів слідства, які, за словами прокурорів, доводять провину підозрюваних.

«Слідчими встановлено, хто саме з підозрюваних спричиняв тілесні ушкодження потерпілим. Це все зафіксовано доказами, які здобуто по кримінальному провадженню», – сказав заступник прокурора області.

За словами Романа Токаря, досудове розслідування справи наразі закінчується, у п’ятницю розпочинається процедура ознайомлення обвинувачених з матеріалами справи, а наступного тижня вона має бути скерована до суду.

Як поінформував заступник прокурора, в ході слідства допитано понад сто свідків, проведено 38 обшуків, 90 впізнань та низку інших слідчих дій. 14 осіб у справі визнали потеплілими.

У Дніпрі 9 травня під час ходи до Монументу слави представників Соціалістичної партії і партії «Опозиційний блок» між ветеранами АТО, молодими людьми спортивної зовнішності і поліцією сталися сутички. Поліція застосувала кийки, постраждали кілька ветеранів АТО, одного з розбитою головою забрала «швидка допомога». Загалом, за даними поліції, постраждали 14 людей.

10 травня міністр внутрішніх справ Арсен Аваков звільнив керівника Нацполіції Дніпропетровщини Ігоря Репешка і призначив на його місце Віталія Глуховерю, який раніше обіймав посаду керівника Дніпровського інституту внутрішніх справ.

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