Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, April 2011
Islamophobia in the US:
Reinvention and Abuse of Sharia Law to Scare Americans
April 4, 2011
Verse: Honor Each Other
Attack on NY Muslim Student Leads to Hate Crime Charges
(AP) Alaska GOP Turns to Fringe Blogger as Islam Expert
(Salon) ADL Backgrounder: Stop Islamization of America
(SIOA) ADL Backgrounder: ACT! for America
NY Times Reporter Discusses Increasing Anti-Islam Sentiment
Hijabi for a Day in Minnesota
VERSE OF THE DAY: HONOR EACH OTHER - TOP
"O humankind! We created you from a male and female and made you into nation and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise each other). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous."
The Holy Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 13
ATTACK ON NY MUSLIM STUDENT LEADS TO HATE CRIME CHARGES - TOP Judy L. Randall, Staten Island Advance, 3/31/11
CAIR-NY contact: Cyrus McGoldrick, 212.870.2002, 203-206-6883
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A Dreyfus Intermediate School sixth-grader was arrested today on felony hate-crime charges.
The 12-year-old boy and an accomplice -- who is being sought -- allegedly assaulted a female classmate about noon in the Stapleton school.
The 12-year-old reportedly demanded to know if she is Muslim and attempted to pull off her headscarf, a law enforcement source told the Advance.
A source at the school described the victim as an honors student.
The boy was taken from the school by officers from the North Shore's 120th Precinct and charged with "harassing the girl, beating her, throwing her to the ground, asking if she is Muslim and trying to pull off her scarf," the law enforcement source said. (More)
NY: MUSLIM GIRL PUNCHED, KICKED IN ALLEGED HATE ATTACK - TOP Doug Auer, New York Post, 3/31/11
A Staten Island schoolkid has been charged with felony assault as a hate crime after he tried to rip the religious headscarf off a fellow female classmate, The Post has learned.
Osman Daramy, 12, allegedly attacked the victim today around noon inside the Dreyfus Intermediate School on Warren Street in Stapleton.
He and a 13-year-old accomplice beat the girl up, punching and kicking her, before she fell to the ground, authorities said.
"Are you Muslim?" Daramy allegedly barked before grabbing at the hijab wrapped around the victim's head. He was apparently unsuccessful in removing the covering.
Daramy, who has previously attacked the victim four times over a two-month period, was arrested, authorities added. He is also charged with aggravated harassment. (More)
----- VIDEO: FLA. IMAM'S CLASS VISIT CANCELED OVER TEA PARTY PROTESTS - TOP
Watch the video.
CAPE CORAL - The idea of a school's Islamic guest speaker ignited an uproar at the Lee County School District and as a result, his appearance was been canceled before it even began!
Wednesday, the principal of Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral called off the scheduled visit from an imam. He made the decision after some parents threatened to pull their kids out of class.
Imam Mohamed Al-Darsani, from the Islamic Center for Peace, says he is disappointed and hurt.
Al-Darsani says with a religion that already faces so much discrimination, this is just another blow. But, he says, it motivates him to continue promoting peace for Muslims. (More)
CAIR: MEASURE TO STOP SHARIA LAW CALLED DIVISIVE - TOP Sean Cockerham, The News Tribune, 3/31/11
JUNEAU -- Palmer Republican Rep. Carl Gatto has set off a political firestorm with a bill aimed at stopping what he deems as the potential of Islamic religious law -- Sharia -- trumping the U.S. Constitution in Alaska courts.
Gatto said he has strong support of Mat-Su area tea party groups and has received nearly 500 emails and phone calls from places like New Zealand, Poland and Israel in support of his bill. It's part of a push nationally by conservative state legislators, with similar measures introduced in more than a dozen states.
A Muslim group in Anchorage says Gatto is spreading an anti-Islam message and the Alaska Civil Liberties Union argues the bill could have unintended legal consequences. The Alaska Department of Law, meanwhile, testified it's hard to see the bill having any real effect as U.S. law already reigns supreme in Alaska's courts.
Gatto said he grew up in New York City, where his Italian neighborhood clung to technically illegal customs like giving a child whiskey to help with illness. But the world of other immigrants is different, he argued.
"I'm more concerned about cultures that are vastly different from European immigrants, who come here and prefer to maintain their specific laws from their previous countries, which are in violent conflict with American law," Gatto said. "That's the issue that I am worried about." (More)
CAIR: JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARS ALASKA FOREIGN LAW BILL - TOP Chris Stein, Associated Press, 3/30/11
JUNEAU, Alaska - A bill to ban the use of foreign law in Alaska courts was applauded by some House lawmakers Wednesday as a bulwark against the possibility of Islamic law, while other lawmakers questioned its necessity during the proposal's first hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. (More)
ALASKA GOP TURNS TO FRINGE BLOGGER AS ISLAM EXPERT - TOP Justin Elliott, Salon.com, 3/31/11
When an Alabama Republican legislator introduced a bill to ban Shariah law and subsequently couldn't define Shariah law, I thought we had seen the single most ignorant and problematic of the anti-Shariah efforts.
But now the Alaska GOP is giving Alabama a run for its money. In becoming the latest state legislator to seek to ban Islamic law, Alaska Republican Rep. Carl Gatto called a fringe anti-Muslim blogger to testify as an expert witness in the House Judiciary Committee.
That would be Pamela Geller. The New York-based blogger delivered a statement by phone and then took questions from Alaska legislators during the hearing Wednesday.
Geller is the blogger who spread many of the original falsehoods about the so-called "ground zero mosque" (sample headline from her "Atlas Shrugs" website: "Monster Mosque Pushes Ahead in Shadow of World Trade Center Islamic Death and Destruction"). Her blog also regularly features conspiracy theories such as the classic, "Malcolm X is Obama's father."
That Geller was called as an expert in anything in a deliberative body is remarkable. The Anchorage Daily News reports on her testimony: (More)
BACKGROUNDER: STOP ISLAMIZATION OF AMERICA (SIOA) - TOP Anti-Defamation League, 3/25/11
Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy "American" values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari'a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the "falsity of Islam."
Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who took over the group's leadership in April 2010, view SIOA as protecting against a powerful and dangerous "Islamic machine" that stands to threaten the security and cultural fabric of the U.S. Geller, in views she outlines in her blog, has linked Islam to bestiality and rape of minors and described the Qur'an as "inspiring" violence. Geller has also charged that Muslim immigration has caused "rampant" honor killings in North America and Europe, compared Muslims to Nazis and asserted that Hitler was inspired by Islam.
Geller and Spencer work closely with David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry. Yerushalmi is one of the driving forces behind Shari'a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari'a law in American courts. Geller and Spencer head the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a non-profit organization that was incorporated by Yerushalmi. AFDI and SIOA organize most of their activities and initiatives together, and AFDI serves as host through which Geller and Robert Spencer publish their blogs. (More)
BACKGROUNDER: ACT! FOR AMERICA - TOP Anti-Defamation League, 3/25/11
ACT! for America is an organization dedicated to combating what it describes as "the threat of radical Islam" to the safety of Americans and to democracy. ACT! promotes the idea that Islam is a backward and seditious political ideology and that Muslim immigration to the U.S. must end.
The organization was launched in 2007 and is constructed around the persona of its founder and president, Brigitte Gabriel, who came to the U.S. in 1989. Gabriel's personal story of growing up Christian in Lebanon and as "a survivor of Islamic terror" is featured prominently in ACT!'s publications and is often cited in speeches by its leadership.
In her writings and public appearances, Gabriel often portrays Islam as a threat. In her book They Must Be Stopped; Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It, she wrote, "It is not yet politically correct to talk about a religious war. But this is exactly what we are facing: a religious war declared by devout Muslims....It's not radical Islam. It's what Islam is at its core."
Gabriel claims that 20 percent of all Muslims support a radical form of Islam that justifies suicide terrorism and works for the establishment of a global totalitarian Islamic state. She further claims that "tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government."
Gabriel's views are in line with a growing field of groups that use community concerns about Islamic extremism to stoke fear toward the Muslim community at large. Among other groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda are Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) and the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE). (More)
----- CAIR-FL: MUSLIMS CONFRONT ALLEN WEST AGAIN FOR COMMENTS ON ISLAM - TOP ARUN SIVASANKARA, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3/31/11
Two Coral Springs Muslims confronted Allen West at a town hall meeting last week about his comments on Islam and terrorism, close on the heels of the Congressman's exchange of words on the same topic with a leader of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Pompano Beach recently.
Unlike CAIR director Nezar Hamze, Samir Kakli and Shehryar Wahid did not have the Koran with them, but that did not seem to hamper them as they put their point across. West defended his stand on the issue, and judging from the response of an overwhelmingly supportive crowd, did a good job of it.
"I happen to be a Muslim," Wahid said. "I've read some of your comments regarding Muslims and I am a little worried about my children's future. As far as I am aware, you haven't taken the opportunity to meet with your Muslim constituents to explain yourself or to hear them."
West was quick to respond. "I never talk about Muslims; I talk about radical Muslim ideology...There is a radical element out there. When I was in Afghanistan and Iraq, we had many Muslims who were killed by the enemy. I went in the villages where people were throwing acid on little girls who were going to school. Now, if you don't want me to stand up against that kind of ideology, then, I tell you, I am not changing."
"I still feel this is important that you need to meet with your constituents," Wahid intervened. ...
"You said that you were just talking about the radicals and that you are not making statements about Islam," Kakli said. "The problem I have about that is that you have made blanket statements about Islam and the Koran." (More)
NY TIMES REPORTER DISCUSSES INCREASING ANTI-ISLAM SENTIMENT - TOP Michael Shammas, Duke Chronicle, 3/31/11
American Muslims are facing increasing amounts of public distrust and hate speech, said Andrea Elliott, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times.
Elliott gave a lecture titled "Islam in a Post-9/11 America" in the Sanford School of Public Policy Wednesday afternoon to discuss the challenges Muslims face assimilating into American society. She stressed that some Americans are starting to believe that terrorism and Islam are synonymous, even though Muslims have fought for, and even died in the service of, the United States.
"The perpetrators of [the 9/11] attacks were of course not Muslim-American," she said. "And even though some of their victims were, and even though thousands of American Muslims later served in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan, this episode left many Muslims feeling they have lost their face in America to... fear and suspicion."
The event was sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center and the Sanford Institute's DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. After lecturing for nearly an hour, Elliott spent approximately 15 minutes taking questions from students and faculty in attendance. (More)
----- CAIR: READING THROUGH THE QURAN, A FEW FIRST OBSERVATIONS - TOP Megan Hart, The Muskegon Chronicle, 3/31/11
I wasn't quite sure how to take it when I got "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Islam" in the mail.
The book, sent by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was one of several surprising results of my column a few weeks ago about my plan to read through the Quran. I also received a copy of the Quran with commentary (which is much longer and heavier than the commentary-free version I had been using), and a Facebook "friend request" from a medical student in Pakistan.
From the opposite viewpoint, someone sent a copy of a speech about the threat Islam presents to America, and two people suggested a DVD made by a former terrorist who converted to Christianity.
While receiving the "Complete Idiot's Guide" wasn't the most flattering moment of my career thus far, it has provided an interesting starting place for the study of Islam, as has the commentary-enhanced copy of the Quran. I have to read both, along with my uncommented copy of the Quran, with the understanding that they are written by Muslims, with obviously positive views of Islam, with the same skepticism I have for Christians writing about other religions.
So here are a few interesting notes on what I've found so far:
• There is no concept of original sin in Islam. Christians believe that Adam and Eve's original sin of disobedience to God was passed to their descendants, and all are born sinful and cannot save themselves by their actions. Therefore, they depend on faith in Jesus' power to take away their sins. By contrast, Muslims believe children are born innocent, and need only live good lives in obedience to Allah's commandments in the Quran. ...
I'm still slowly making my way through the Quran, as I did with the Bible when I was in college. Keep checking MLive for updates, or even better, join me in reading. You might find a few surprises. (More)
HIJABI FOR A DAY IN MINNESOTA - TOP Amanda Bankston, The Minnesota Daily, 3/31/11
When 6-year-old Olivia Trembley was younger, getting a glimpse of a woman wearing the hijab, a traditional Muslim headscarf, was like being in the presence of royalty.
"She used to think the headscarf meant they were princesses," her mother, Sarah Trembley, said.
Both mother and daughter learned the true meaning behind the hijab when they participated in the Hijabi for a Day event Wednesday as part of the annual Islam Awareness Week hosted by Al-Madinah Cultural Center and the Muslim Student Association.
Members of the student organizations provided more than 100 free scarves in front of Coffman Union to non-Muslim women -- and even men -- willing to wear the traditional covering for the day. (More)
----- GOP AND MUSLIMS ARE PERFECT TOGETHER - TOP Why can't these fellow conservatives be friends? Jonathan Zimmerman, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/31/11
Stop the spread of sharia law! Ban gay marriage and abortion!
As the 2012 elections inch closer, GOP lawmakers and presidential hopefuls are tripping over each other to denounce the alleged threat posed by Islam to the American body politic. They're also trying to rally so-called values voters with appeals to conservative cultural themes, especially on marriage and reproduction.
Memo to Republicans: Muslims are cultural conservatives, too. And if you can stop maligning them for a moment, they might move over to your column.
It has happened before. Consider American Catholics, who voted overwhelmingly for Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, our only Catholic president. They were also widely vilified by evangelical Protestants, who warned that JFK would put America under the heel of Rome.
That's why Kennedy had to make his now-famous campaign speech promising he would not take orders from the pope. Evangelicals weren't mollified. The Vatican "does all in its power to control the governments of nations," insisted Christianity Today, the Rev. Billy Graham's magazine.
The charge echoed a tradition of anti-Catholic bigotry going all the way back to the birth of the republic. There's a troubling parallel between that history and the contemporary attacks on Muslims, who have been accused of conspiring to replace American law with their own religious code. (More)
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