Welcome to Moozweek, a weekly round-up of Muslim nooz, vooz, and other stuff you may not have seen this week.

 

It’s a different kind of violence…

In its “Graphic of the Week,” The Public Religion Research Institute in Washington D.C. re-released an important survey, originally from 2011 but very timely today, “The American Double Standard on Religious Violence.”

The graphic found that when people claim to be Christian and commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity, 13 percent of Americans said those people were Christian, and 83 percent said they weren’t.

When people claim to be Muslim and commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, 44 percent of Americans said those people were Muslims, and 48 percent said they weren’t. 

 

Eyes on Central Asian Muslims…

Americans have heard a lot this week about the mostly Muslim regions of Central Asia. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the alleged mastermind of the Boston Marathon bomb attack, was acquainted with a Canadian-Russian militant who was killed by Russian police last year in Dagestan, while police arrested two Kazakhstani students for aiding Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after the attack.

Wanna know more about Muslims in this part of the world? Check out a new and timely report by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” The 157-page report surveys 38,000 Muslims in 39 countries, and offers interesting numbers on several Muslim-regions around the globe, including Russia and the central Asian countries of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. There, Muslim attitudes on important issues both match and differ in surprising ways with other regions. Here are three interesting Central Asian factoids based on the Pew numbers:

While “solid majorities” of Muslims in most countries polled want Shariah to be the law of the land, that wasn’t the case in Central Asia, where much smaller percentages of Muslims favored establishing Shariah.

Russia 42 percent

Kyrgyzstan 35

Tajikistan 27

Kazakhstan 12`

Azerbaijan 8  

 

Majorities of Muslims in all countries said suicide bombing was rarely / never justified, but those majorities were greater in the central Asian countries than most other Muslim countries. Here are the percentages of Muslims in central Asia who said suicide bombing was sometimes justified.

Kyrgyzstan 10 percent

Russia 4

Tajikistan 3

Kazakhstan 2

Azerbaijan 1

In most other countries polled, the numbers were significantly higher, including in Malaysia (18 percent), Egypt (29), and Afghanistan (39)

 

On the question of whether wives must obey their husbands, 89 percent of Muslims in Tajikistan and 84 percent Uzbekistan said yes, which was on par with results in South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. Smaller percentages of Muslims who agreed with that statement were in Kyrgyzstan (75 percent), Azerbaijan (58) and Kazakhstan (51 percent).   

 

CEO allegedly attacks Muslim Iraq War Veteran…Get’s praise…

Ed Dahlberg, the president of Emerald Aviation, an aircraft buying and selling company in Manassas, Va., turned himself in Wednesday May 1 to Fairfax County Police, who charged him with a misdemeanor assault for attacking a Muslim cab driver who is also an army reservist who served in Iraq. Mohamed Salim, originally from Somalia, video-recorded the exchange, which can be viewed at The Washington Post. It’s not pretty.  

 

Award-winning Muslimas…

On Monday May 6, the White House will honor Shireen Zaman, executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Washington D.C. research institute specializing in studies into Islam and Muslims. Zaman, as one of 15 “Champions of Change.” Zaman, who is of Indian descent, will be one of 15 Asian American and Pacific Islander women to be honored.

Stanford University awarded 12 American journalists their prestigious John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, including one to lawyer-journalist Umbreen Bhatti of Oakland Calif., cofounder of Islawmix. For anyone with an interest in Islamic law, the website “aims to add academic context and nuance to the increasing number of stories about Islam and Muslims in the news.”  

 

Muslima converts…

After my RNS story about stereotypes of female converts to Islam, HuffPost Live did an interesting 30 minute show in the subject, and included Seema Imam, an education professor at National Louis University in Lisle, Ill. who I interviewed for my RNS story.

 

Thoughts on a bomber’s widow…

I asked the women I interviewed for the converts story about what they thought of Katherine Russell, a convert to Islam and widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but didn’t get to include their answers in the story. Here are three answers:

“My heart immediately went out to Katherine Russell, I cannot imagine what she must be going through. However, from the news reports I have seen, she is wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf, therefore I believe her faith in Islam is strong. The decision to convert to Islam is a personal one, one which is done only after seeking proper understanding. There is no compulsion in religion. I believe she is still an ‘All American girl’ who happens to be a Muslim.” Malika Rushdan MacDonald, community activist, Boston, Mass.

“So much of her story remains to be seen. She was living apart from her husband and daughter, which struck me as curious. I worried that perhaps she was doing it to make ends meet. It is tragic for any mother to have to live apart from her child. In this case, it seems particularly sad given the environment her husband created. Certainly, living with a man building bombs bent on harming civilians is not a safe or nurturing environment for a young child.” Sarah Anjum, immigration lawyer, Toledo, Ohio.

“To see how the media has been treating Katherine Russell has made me sad honestly. The accounts that I read about her in the paper made her out to be this great girl until she was forced into conversion by an extremist. The narrative that the media is portraying seems to be the one the media wants everyone to believe-white, middle class girls only leave the comforts of their lifestyle after being brainwashed by jihadists.” Katherine Wilson, domestic violence counselor, Rhode Island.

 

If we can write together…

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, the NGO launched by rap mogul Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneier to promote ethnic and religious harmony, has launched its first Muslim-Jewish newsletter. The goal is to keep readers abreast of all things Muslim-Jewish around the globe.

 

Political clout in NYC…

Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians in New York City are hosting mayoral candidates at an “Electing the Right(s) Mayor Forum” on Sunday May 5 at New York University. The candidates will field questions from members of Arab American Association of New York, Islamic Center at NYU, Alliance of South Asian American Labor, Coalition for Muslim School Holidays, Interfaith Center of NY, Islamic Circle of North America-NY, Muslim Bar Association of NY, Network of Arab-American Professionals of NY, and United Sikhs.   

 

Morocco Recalls Its Jewish Heritage

The Museum of Moroccan Judaism has reopened in Casablanca following several months of renovations, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The museum features photos of synagogues from across Morocco, Torah scrolls, Chanukah lamps, and other, often ancient, Jewish-Morocco cultural objects. Morocco has about 3,000 Jews.

The JTA also recently reported that Morocco’s King Mohammed VI provided funding to restore a Jewish burial plot in Cape Verde, a west African archipelago nation where a few hundred Moroccan Jews settled when it was still a Portuguese colony.

 

Sufi Shrines in China…

Photographer Lisa Ross has come out with what appears to be a beautiful new book, “Living Shrines of Uyghur China,” sumptuously reviewed by The New York Review of Books. The Muslim Uyghurs have been involved in bloody protests with Beijing in 2008, 2009, and 2012.

“Instead of representing these political conflicts,” the review reads, “ Ross’s photographs are unassuming and quiet; people are never present and the objects she captures—stone on sand, cloth on stone, the skeleton of a dried animal—have an incandescent glow, as if lit by another sun. In fact, these images reveal a little-known religious tradition in Xinjiang—its desert shrines to Sufi saints.”

The photos are also on exhibit, through July 8, at New York City’s Rubin Museum of Art.

 

Quote of the week…

“Many times non-Muslim women who marry Muslim men in a muslim ceremony are converted to Islam in the course of the ceremony without their even being aware of it.  It is the duty of Christians to make this very clear to their sons and daughters,” reader comment following Religion News Service story, “Female converts to Islam facing growing scrutiny.”

 

2 Comments

  1. Oh, I must strongly disagree with Katherine Wilson’s description of media coverage of Katherine Russell: “…the media wants everyone to believe [that] white, middle class girls only leave the comforts of their lifestyle after being brainwashed by jihadists.” Seriously? As a domestic violence counselor Ms. Wilson squanders an opportunity to say something insightful that might be able to help a suffering woman out there. In any case, I’m a Bostonian survivor of domestic violence and also from a happily mixed family (all my in-laws are Muslim and we celebrate Muslim holidays in our home and follow many Muslim customs). My takeaway from recent news coverage is that the media narrative of Katherine Russell is actually one of marked restraint and absence of judgment. I only know what I have seen in the media, and that is that Russell was a sweet if unremarkable young woman who had the misfortune of marrying a man with a history of domestic abuse. By all accounts, he was controlling and demeaning. Her friends report that after their relationship began, their access to Katherine diminished and when they *were* able to visit her, her husband was combative and difficult. They repeatedly witnessed him calling his wife a “whore” and a “slut.” None of these people has *ever* proposed that he did these things because he was Muslim. It’s worth noting that all of these friends are from the time prior to Russell’s religious conversion. I have yet to see any report of any Muslima who knew her well enough to say one word about her. What does that tell us if we’re thinking clearly? Nothing good, I dare say. At minimum, this woman was tragically isolated. In contrast, many, many people, both Muslim and Christian, have stepped forward to relate their personal knowledge of both the Tsarnaev brothers. What we do know about Russell is that she discovered Islam through a man who was not only a manipulative abuser, but who eventually chose to be a murderer and was at the time of his death, little more than an apostate!

    For heaven’s sake I certainly understand the irritation of Christian converts to Islam, but Katherine Russell truly may not be the poster child we want to hold up as an example of being a misunderstood female convert who was at all times in control of her own destiny.

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