Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, April 2011
Islamophobia in the US, April 18, 2011:
Ohio Candidates Boycott Tea Party Over Islam-Bashing Flap
Ill. Muslim Shopper Verbally Harassed
CAIR-Ohio: Speaker Painted All Muslims in a Bad Light
Video: FBI Questions Libyans in Chicago (CAIR)
CAIR-LA Condemns Anti-Jewish Hate Crime
CAIR-MI Rep Receives Awards for Civil Rights Advocacy
Anti-Sharia Laws and a Phoenix Lawyer
The Growth of Islam Among Latinos
VERSE/HADITH OF THE DAY: DO NOT DESPAIR OF GOD'S MERCY - TOP
"Say: 'O My servants who have transgressed against your own souls, do not despair of God's mercy, for God forgives all sins. It is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'"
The Holy Quran, 39:53
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "I would not trade this verse for the whole world."
Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 752
OPPONENTS CRITICIZE OKLA. BILL TO RESTRICT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - TOP Michael McNutt, Oklahoman , 4/11/11
Opponents spoke out today against a bill that would prohibit foreign laws from being enforced in state courtrooms.
The measure, House Bill 1552, easily passed the House of Representatives, but has languished in the Senate and is considered dormant this year.
Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said HB 1552 would threaten all international business contracts and companies in the state.
“When international and national companies are told they cannot choose the terms of their own contract, they will choose a different state in which to do business,” he said.
“This bill will harm our state,” Awad said. (More)
POLICE SAY ANGRY WOMAN SHOUTS AT MUSLIM SHOPPER - TOP By Jesse Marx, Orland Park Patch, 4/11/11
A Joliet woman was accused of verbally harassing a Muslim women and writing anti-Muslim graffiti on a bathroom stall inside an Orland Square Mall department store on March 24.
Luana L. Merle, 51, of the 10-100 block of Independence Drive in Joliet, was charged with disorderly conduct. Police said she let out a shriek when she saw a Muslim woman walking her way in Kohl's around 2 p.m. and then began shouting insults, at times coming within inches of the woman's face. (More)
ATTACK ON SIKH MEN TRIGGERS OUTCRY IN ELK GROVE, CALIF., AND BEYOND - TOP By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times, 4/11/11
Orange police chalk marks the lonely stretch of roadway where the crime occurred.
Surinder Singh, 65, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, were out on their customary afternoon stroll in this suburb south of Sacramento when they were shot near the bright green bus shelter overlooking California 99, where they often stopped to rest. Singh died at the scene. Atwal remains in critical condition.
No arrests have been made and no motive established in last month's shooting of the elderly Sikh neighbors, which has triggered a national outcry.
Police have not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime. It is a scenario that has played out numerous times since Sept. 11, 2001 -- Sikhs mistaken for Muslims and randomly attacked. (More)
CAIR: OHIO CANDIDATES BOYCOTT TEA PARTY DEBATE OVER ISLAM-BASHING FLAP - TOP Lou Whitmire, Mansfield News Journal, 4/11/11
MANSFIELD -- The four Mansfield mayoral candidates will not participate in the mayoral debate Monday night sponsored by the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association.
The decision was announced at 4:45 p.m. Sunday outside Mansfield City Hall jointly by Republican primary candidates Bill Anliker, Bob Ball and Tim Theaker, as well as Ron Kreuter, who is challenging incumbent Mayor Don Culliver in the Democratic primary. ...
Candidates cited their belief in First Amendment protection of speech and their concern that this tea party association has chosen to sue the Mansfield City Schools in federal court instead of working together to resolve the disagreement.
The Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association is suing Mansfield City Schools in federal court, claiming the district violated its civil rights when it withdrew permission for a controversial tea party event to take place on school grounds.
The non-school event was a presentation by Usama Dakdok, characterized by some as "anti-Islam," on March 28. (More)
SPEAKER PAINTED ALL MUSLIMS IN A BAD LIGHT - TOP Julia Shearson, Mansfield News Journal, 4/11/11
The talk by Usama Dakdok that was arranged by the Mansfield North Central Ohio Tea Party Association was a frightening portrait of religious bigotry. Dakdok grossly distorted Islam and Muslim beliefs. He mistranslated and misinterpreted religious texts and demonized Muslims in a frenzy of demagoguery.
Dakdok accused Muslim Americans of being traitors bent on destroying America. He claimed Muslims are demons who hate Christians and Jews. He said the Quran was only about "killing," and that "there is no loving Muslim."
Dakdok told the crowd that Muslims are coming to kill Americans and their children, destroy the Constitution, impose Sharia law, wipe out their freedoms and enslave the population. He claimed Muslims had infiltrated the White House, the TSA, the U.S. military, and the CIA. He said "Obamacare" was a plot to bring in foreign Muslim doctors whose immigrant families would overrun the country. He hypnotized the crowd with tautologies and viciously attacked his straw man.
Joseph Goebbels, Germany's notorious propaganda minister once said, "The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly -- it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over." That unfortunately is what Mr. Dakdok did. His propaganda raised a stack of cash that could hardly be held in the hands of Ms. Bonnie Oleksa, the event's organizer. (More)
This is regarding the NAACP effort to stop the use of a public podium to spread hate. I salute NAACP, CAIR Ohio and other peace- loving citizens. We, the Muslims living in Mansfield, Ohio, USA, are a peace-loving community and love to have peace everywhere. We always denounce violence, hatred and injustice against any community and we will always do this.
I totally agree with NAACP and CAIR's stance that this event must not take place at a public place, specially from an educational institution. Mr. Usama Dakdok is more than welcome to use any other venue to spread his hate, but not a public school.
In the past we had open house at our mosque and would do it again. I invite everyone to come and know about Islam, first-hand. And beware of the hate mongers like Usama Dakdok and others.
I also would like to alert the citizens of Mansfield that there are two tea parties in Ohio. One led by Barbara Walter is the real and peaceful tea party and other is North Central Tea Party, which is a minority but filled with extremists. So beware of it.
God Bless America.
Arshad Ahmad Mansfield
Editor's Note: Mr. Ahmad is president of the Islamic Society of Mansfield.
VIDEO: FBI QUESTIONS LIBYANS IN CHICAGO (CAIR) - TOP
Watch the video.
FOX Chicago has learned that this city is one of eight U.S. cities where FBI agents will be conducting the interviews with Libyan visitors. The agents will be asking the same questions.
"If the government is trying to learn more of what's going on the ground then that's a good thing," CAIR Chicago representative Lindsey Stemm, said.
Organizations concerned about the FBI's questions met with the federal agency yesterday.
They said asking questions isn't a problem - they just don't want it to be looked at as profiling.
"As a civil rights organization, we just want to make sure that the community has representation with them in those types of situations," Stemm said.
CAIR: ON CONDEMNING TERRORISTS - TOP Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/10/11
A lot of Americans who don't like Muslims much say they rarely hear Muslims publicly condemning acts of violence by Muslims. One reason is that, while Muslim organizations routinely send out condemnations, they don't appear in news coverage because they are so routine -- they are not "news."
So here's the kind of condemnations news editors get after just about every attack by Muslims on anyone -- in this case from the Council on American Islamic Relations on the April 1 attack on a U.N. compound in Afghanistan that killed at least 12 people as a protest took place against the burning of the Quran last month by a Florida pastor:
"We unequivocally condemn this act of senseless violence. Nothing can justify or excuse this attack." (More)
CAIR-LA CONDEMNS TWO SOUTHERN CALIF. ANTI-JEWISH INCIDENTS OF BOMBING, HATE CRIME - TOP
(ANAHEIM, CA, 4/9/11) - The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today condemned two incidents that targeted a Los Angeles synagogue and an Orange County Jewish man. According to police and news reports, an explosion Thursday at a Santa Monica synagogue that was initially thought to be an accident was found Friday afternoon to have been started by a homemade pipe bomb. The bombing shattered windows of the Chabad House and sent part of the metal debris through the roof of a neighboring residence. No one was injured. Police are looking for the suspect, a homeless 61-year-old man named Ron Hirsch, who is considered to be "extremely dangerous." In a separate incident that occurred Wednesday evening, three men confronted a Jewish man in Coto de Caza, first demanding money. The men then allegedly started hitting and kicking the victim, and one of them even allegedly hit the victim in the head from behind with an object.
The victim reported to police that anti-Semitic slurs were used during the assault, and he underwent immediate surgery for his injuries. Two of the three suspects have been arrested and are being charged with assault, theft and committing a hate crime. A third suspect is at large.
"Targeting individuals and houses of worship because of religion is abhorrent, and we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community against these disturbing attacks," said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.
In the synagogue bombing, Hirsch is wanted on charges of possession of a destructive device and other charges. Anyone with information should contact Santa Monica Police Detective Leone at (310) 458-8949. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Munira Syeda, 714-851-4851, firstname.lastname@example.org
CAIR-MI REP RECEIVES AWARDS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCACY - TOP
(SOUTHFIELD, MI, 4/11/11) - A representative of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) recently received two awards for civil rights advocacy at the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights (MCHR) annual banquet held at Marygrove College in Detroit, Mich.
CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid accepted the Spirit of Detroit Award given by the City Council of Detroit and the MCHR 2011 Activist Organization Award for advocating for the civil rights of all Americans through encouraging dialogue and building coalitions that promote justice and understanding. (More)
VIDEO: CAIR-NY CRITICAL OF ANTI-MUSLIM WITNESSES AT HEARING - TOP
Watch the video.
In the US state of New York, another hearing similar to Republican Senator Peter King's last month hearing on the 'radicalization of Islam' has been held, promoting Islamophobia.
The hearing was held by Republican New York Senator Gregory Ball and focused on US Homeland Security preparedness, a Press TV correspondent reported.
From the Council of American Islamic Relations, Cyrus McGoldrick criticized Senator Ball's choice of witnesses critical to radical Islam, who were also a part of King's hearings.
"At the testimony, people like Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney should not be accepted as any type of expertise related to HomeLand Security or anything about Islam," McGoldrick told Press TV.
Holding the same view, New York Council of Islamic Relations' Zead Ramadan said, "He kind of poisoned the water by bringing in the two, because they are infamous. All scholars and academics denounce their rhetoric, because it's not based facts, or law enforcement statistics."
The Director of the Arab American Association of New York, Linda Sarsour, was also invited.
"We are also concerned about radicalization. We're concerned about terrorism as well, but we want to make sure that it's just not focused on one community. There are true threats from Neo Nazis and other hate groups in this country," she said. (More)
CAIR: NY SENATORS CLASH OVER PANEL TESTIMONY ON MUSLIMS - TOP David B. Caruso, Associated Press, 4/8/11
NEW YORK (AP) -- A legislative hearing on New York's readiness for another terrorist attack degenerated into name-calling and bruised feelings Friday after a state senator solicited testimony from two activists known for their hard line on Islam and opposition to the construction of new mosques in the United States. (More)
NY: HEARING ON TERROR INCLUDES HEATED DEBATE ON ISLAM - TOP Thomas Kaplan, New York Times, 4/8/11
In a local reprise of a polarizing Congressional hearing last month on the question of Islam and terror, state lawmakers warned in grave terms on Friday of the threats facing the New York area, while other lawmakers and interfaith groups criticized the proceedings as anti-Muslim and incendiary.
The hearing, which was convened by the State Senate's homeland security committee, was something of a spectacle: Security was ramped up at the office building in Lower Manhattan where state legislators have work space, and television cameramen easily outnumbered lawmakers.
Adding to the theatrics, the hearing began to great fanfare with testimony from the lawmaker who convened the Congressional hearing, Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican, who has promised further federal inquiries into what he describes as the radicalization of American Muslims. (More)
ANTI-SHARIA LAWS AND A PHOENIX LAWYER - TOP David Safier, Tucson Citizen, 4/10/11
Ever hear of David Yerushalmi, a lawyer based in Phoenix with offices in D.C.? I hadn't. But he's the guy who wrote the template for the anti-Sharia laws popping up in state legislatures all over the country. He works with Frank Gaffney, an Islamophobe who founded the Center for Security Policy. When asked, the legislators sponsoring the bill don't even know what Shariah law is.
One of the dirty little secrets -- actually a dirty big secret -- of conservative state legislators is that they have many of their bills handed to them by national organizations. The orgs write template bills with blanks which the legislators fill in to make them state specific. A bill will be tried out in one state -- Arizona or Florida or Ohio -- and if it flies, it will soon be proposed in other states. (More)
TEXAS LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE ANTI-ISLAM BILLS - TOP Anna M. Tinsley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 4/11/11
Texas lawmakers are considering whether to ban state courts from considering foreign religious or cultural laws, such as the Islamic law of Shariah.
The goal "is to require a Texas court to uphold and apply only the laws ordained by the constitutions of (Texas and the United States), prohibiting any other interpretation," said Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, a former Arlington mayor pro tem. "This is now happening all over Europe ... and in Dearborn, Mich.... and it could spread throughout the United States.
"We all know what Shariah law does to women - women must wear burqas, women are subject to humiliation and into controlled marriages under Shariah law," he said. "We want to prevent it from ever happening in Texas."
A bill by Berman to prevent foreign laws from being recognized in Texas courts, as well as a twin proposal by Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, went before the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence last week. Both bills were left pending.
Texas is among several states - including Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee - considering bans on the recognition of foreign laws, according to the Institute for U.S. Law.
Several civil-rights and interfaith groups have blasted the legislative efforts in Texas and other states as unconstitutional and unfair to Muslims. (More)
DOES FLORIDA NEED 'PROTECTION' FROM SHARIA LAW? - TOP Polk County Democrat editorial, 4/9/11
In a move to ward off the latest threat to peace, harmony and the sanctity of the rule of law in the Sunshine State, the Florida Legislature is considering a bill that would ban the use of Islamic Sharia law in our courts.
Reasonable people may be asking themselves: Is there a threat that women may have to wear burkhas at the beach? Might consenting adults be pelted with stones for illicit liaisons or flogged for running a stop sign? Can Sharia law supplant the Florida Constitution? Replace state statutes? The bottom line is: No.
But this bill isn't about that. It's all about political atmospherics.
Companion legislation introduced by Sen. Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla, (SB 1294) and Rep. Larry Metz, R-Eustis, (HB 1273) does not mention Sharia law, which is based on the Quran and other writings of Mohammed. Under the title, "Application of Foreign Law," the bill "specifies the public policy of this state in applying the choice of a foreign law, legal code or system under certain circumstances. Declares that certain decisions under such laws, codes or systems are void." (More)
THE GROWTH OF ISLAM AMONG LATINOS - TOP Jameelah Xochitl Medina, 4/11/11
Although many US Americans of all ethnicities are embracing Islam, I often wonder if ancestral memory plays a role in the number of Latino/as embracing the faith of Islam.
Latino/as may be first or even 3rd and 4th generation in US America, and many more are indigenous to the Southwest. While Latino/as embody an ancestral mix of Indigenous, Spanish, and African blood and have been referred to as a "cosmic race" because of the roots in these three ethnic cultures, their ancestral mix of religious cultures is not talked about as much.
From the geographic branches of their Spanish and African heritage, many Latino/as have a religious mixture that includes the three Abrahamic faiths--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three religions have a long history in Africa, particularly North Africa, and a long history in Spain, specifically southern Spain.
Thus, the ancestral memory of Islam for many Latino/as who feel urged to convert to Islam may be rooted in four types of ancestors: 1) with a Moorish Muslim ancestor in Spain between the years of 711 and 1492 when the North African Moors ruled Andalusia, Spain; 2) with African captures, many of whom practiced Islam, who were taken to all parts of the Americas as slaves; 3) with a morisco ancestor who feigned Christianity and blended in with the mass of Mozarab Spanish migrants from Andalusia (approximately 36.9% of all Spanish migrants) who arrived in the Americas between 1493 and 1600, and 4) with Indigenous ancestors who were introduced to Islam by both North and West African traders and runaway African slaves (cimarrones) with whom they built and cohabited in freetowns or palenques. (More)
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