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March 20, 2014

What Next for the Westboro Baptist Church?

fred phelpsThe virulently homophobic, anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is entering a new stage now that founder and patriarch Fred Phelps, Sr., has died. An estranged son, Nate Phelps, who first described his father’s impending death on Facebook, also claimed that WBC members excommunicated the senior Phelps in August 2013.

WBC would not confirm whether Fred Phelps had been excommunicated, asserting that information on WBC’s membership was private. A March 16 press release on the group’s website stated that the group has no singular leader but is headed by an eight-member board of elders.

According to Nate Phelps, WBC has undergone a number of changes over the last year. He claimed that tensions rose within WBC when the all-male board of elders marginalized WBC spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper.  In response to the power struggle between Shirley and the board, Fred Phelps allegedly called for kinder treatment between WBC members. The board then supposedly excommunicated Fred.

The ongoing inter-family strife within the organization, if true, signals a new chapter for WBC.  Shirley Phelps-Roper, Fred’s daughter, has been the most public face of WBC and acts as a lawyer for the group, as well. Nate Phelps claimed that Shirley could never be the leader of WBC because of passages in the Bible that cite women’s subservience to men. Another issue that could affect Shirley’s status within the church is her two daughters’ very public defection from the church about a year ago.

A new leader of WBC may emerge in the coming months now that Fred Phelps has actually passed. Nate Phelps speculated that possibilities include one of Fred’s sons, Tim Phelps, or Steve Drain, a member of the church who is not part of the extended Phelps family.  In the last few months, Drain appears to have superseded Shirley Phelps-Roper as spokesperson for the church.

Fred Phelps’ death and Shirley Phelps Roper’s alleged marginalization may change the public face of WBC but presumably not its message. The church will likely continue its many protests at the funerals of soldiers and other individuals and promote hate towards anyone who disagrees with its viewpoint.

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May 10, 2013

OnIslam Publishes E-Book Denying Jewish Connection To Holy Land

An Egypt-based website that provides religious guidance to Muslims worldwide has released an e-book called “Timeline of Jerusalem (Al-Quds)” that denies any connection between Jerusalem and Jews and depicts Israel as a state created through ethnic cleansing.onislam-ebook

The e-book is available on OnIslam.net, which is affiliated with radical Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Released in March 2013, the e-book contains three chapters: “Early History,” “Creation of Israel,” and “Systematic Judaization of Al-Quds.” In the “Early History” section, the booklet describes the Hebrew invasion of the Land of Canaan as “genocidal massacres against the native Canaanite tribes.”

Similarly, in the section titled “Creation of Israel,” Israel’s establishment is characterized as “a wave of genocidal massacres against Palestinians. Many notorious massacres were cold-bloodedly committed in Palestinian cities, such as Dir Yasin, Tantura, and Dawaymeh.”

The section on the “Systematic Judaization of Al-Quds” describes Jewish visits to the Temple Mount as provocations by “Talmudic-minded settlers, who conduct Talmudic rituals and call for the demolition of Islamic shrines in Jerusalem.”

The author of the e-book, Khalid Amayreh, a Hebron-based Palestinian journalist with ties to Hamas, attempts to establish an exclusively Arab and Palestinian historical identity for Jerusalem’s ancient occupants. Amayreh previously produced an e-book titled, “The Nazis of our time: The creeping Israeli genocide against the Palestinians.”

OnIslam frequently features articles on Qaradawi and publishes fatwas expressing support for “martyrdom operations,” or suicide bombings against Israel. The site also includes articles and religious rulings supporting violence against homosexuals, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content.

For example, a March 2013 fatwa by Maher al-Huli, the head of the fatwa department in the Palestine Scholars Association, was published on the website, ruling that non-Palestinian Muslims should not travel to visit the Al Aqsa mosque “while it remains captive by the state of the Jews.” The website also has a portal dedicated to the issue of homosexuality, which contains several articles denouncing homosexuality as “sexual perversions” that “spread corruption on earth.”

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June 1, 2012

Conspiracy Theories Mark Louis Farrakhan’s San Diego Address

Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan’s nearly three-hour speech in San Diego last weekend, titled “Guidance in a Time of Trouble,” was marked by myriad conspiratorial attacks against the U.S., as well as Israel.

While media reports following Farrakhan’s remarks primarily focused on his criticism of Obama’s stance on gay marriage and his “warning” that God will severely punish America if it attacks Iran, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel vitriol marked parts of his speech as well.

Farrakhan reiterated his views about how members of Congress are “afraid to speak out against the warmongering of Israel and their control through AIPAC of your members of Congress.” “Joe Lieberman and his crowd,” Farrakhan said, are pushing for war against Iran and “moving the goalposts” for Iran on the nuclear issue.

Farrakhan also promoted the NOI’s book “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” which argues essentially that the history of slavery in the New World was initiated by Jewish ship owners and merchants, who, as a group, the book maintains, remained the primary beneficiaries of the slave economy.

“How many of you have heard of the Holocaust?” Farrakhan continued. “Raise your hands. Jewish people want the world to know what Hitler did to them. Why? So it will never happen again. Don’t you want to know what was done to you? This book should be in your colleges in your African American studies. But I know who writes your pay checks.”

In addition to discussing how much of the American southwest was taken from Mexico through “trickery” and how birth control is a conspiracy by white Americans to keep the white majority, Farrakhan also attacked President Obama’s position on gay marriage. “He’s the first president that sanctioned what the scriptures forbid…Why is it that all you politicians take your oath of office on the Bible? If the book is no good, what the hell are you using it for to take an oath of office…?”

Farrakhan concluded his speech with a tirade warning America of calamity if it takes action against Iran. “So I’m warning you America, if you bomb Iran…The God that I represent is going to take out some of your cities with earthquakes… He’s going show you his power. In the meantime, one calamity after another until you submit, America, and know that judgment is here…”

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