Welcome to Moozweek, a weekly round-up of Muslim-related news you may not have seen elsewhere.
Moozweek This Week: Gay Muslim Moms. Fighting Homophobia. Hate Crimes. Hate Interrupted. Iowa Sleeper Cell. The Al Jazeera 12. New Reading.
Muslim mamas’ boy…
Among the first people to tweet congratulations to NBA center Jason Collins on becoming the first active professional athlete in a major sport to come out as gay was Kenneth Faried, a power forward who helped lead the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs this year. Faried is a practicing Muslim who was raised by two gay Muslim moms, Waudda, and Sister Manasin.
Hard to an NBA big man known as the “Manimal” was bullied as a kid. But Waudda, a mighty good ball player as well, taught her son to stick-up for himself, and how to rebound. He is also the first NBA player to join Athlete Ally, a group that fights homophobia in sports.
From an excellent ESPN.com story on Faried. “They pulled up in front of a modest home with a narrow porch. A woman was waiting there, wearing a Muslim veil. Waudda lit up at the sight of her. She told Kenneth that this was “Sister Manasin,” and he was struck by how reserved she was. Waudda was the boldest person in just about every room she entered, and Sister Manasin seemed as if she would be the meekest. But 11-year-old Kenneth could tell instantly the two women were a fit. “I don’t remember my mother saying, ‘She’s my partner,’” he says. “I just knew.”
Aswat, that’s what
The online Arabic language magazine Aswat is striking a blow against homophobia in the Middle East. Through its Facebook page, Aswat is calling for photo submissions from readers that denounce homophobia, and has been flooded with submissions. “The Love for All” campaign was started to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17. \
Mistaken for Muslim…
Religious illiteracy in America shows itself in some ugly ways. This week it happened at least twice.
An 82-year-old Sikh man is recovering after being attacked by a 29-year-old man with an iron bar, and that left him with broken ribs and in a pool of blood outside a Sikh Temple in Fresno last Sunday. Sikhs, who wear beards and turbans as part of their religion, founded in the 15th century in India, are frequently mistaken for Muslims, and have often been attacked by Islamophobes. In 2011, two Sikh men were gunned down in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove, while in 2010 in West Sacramento, a taxi passenger attacked his Sikh driver, but made anti-Muslim remarks.
Sgt. 1st Class Naida Hosan speaks Farsi, knows about Islam, works in intelligence and loves her work for the U.S. Army. Too bad some of the dimwits she worked with messed it up by taunting her with anti-Muslim slurs because of her Muslim-sounding name. Hosan, who is Catholic, even changed her last name to Christian Nova, and complained to superiors, but that didn’t help.
“It was just a very lonely feeling,” Christian Nova, whose father was Muslim but converted to Christianity after meeting his wife, told the AP.
If you wear a badge, don’t rub elbows with hate-mongers. That’s the message out of Ontario, Canada, where Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of Chabad @ Flamingo Synagogue in Thornhill, and who is also a York Regional Police chaplain, cancelled plans to host a May 13 talk by Pamela Geller, co-founder of Stop the Islamification of America, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Our concern is that Rabbi Kaplan is also a representative of the police, he wears a police uniform, and some of the comments that have been attributed to Ms. Geller really posed a conflict situation for us at York Regional Police,” said Inspector Ricky Veerappan of the York Regional Police.
The talk, which is sponsored by the hardline Jewish Defense League, will take place at the Toronto Zionist Centre.
Al-Qaeder? No, Elkader…
A beautiful story in the NYT by Samuel L. Freedman, about Elkader, Iowa, a tiny town named for a 19th-century Algerian independence fighter, and that celebrates its legacy with an annual forum.
From the story: “Improbably enough, this community settled by Germans and Scandinavians, it’s religious life built around Catholic and Lutheran churches, bears the name of a Muslim hero. Abd el-Kader was renowned in the 19th century for leading Algeria’s fight for independence and protecting non-Muslims from persecution. Even Abraham Lincoln extolled him.”
NYC mayoral candidates: Spying bad, Eid good.
So this is what it’s like to be fought over. Six Democrats and an Independent Party candidate running to succeed Michael Bloomberg as New York City Mayor sparred about police spying and Muslim holidays in a May 5 debate sponsored by a coalition of Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian groups.
At least two candidates, City Controller John Liu and unknown Erick Salgado, said the NYPD’s controversial surveillance of Muslims was unconstitutional, while others were critical of the program. All the candidates also said they would add the two major holidays on the Islamic calendar as holidays on the public school calendar.
Maryland mosque battle…
The Dar-us-Salaam Islamic community in College Park, Md. wants to leave its current overcrowded space, and build on a 66-acre plot of land in rural Howard County that previously was home to a Catholic school, but have met strong opposition from the neighbors. At Meredith Somers pointed out in her well-done Washington Times story, this is the latest case of a mosque getting a “not-in-my-backyard” from the neighbors. Pew has an excellent map tracking the various mosque disputes across the country.
Some Muslims and non-Muslims worry that the Boston Marathon bombing has exacerbated anti-Muslim resentment, while others say tolerance has won out against Islamophobia, except for some isolated incidences. Here’s a list of anti-Muslim attacks since the bombing, gleaned from newspaper reports.
May 4 Saturday. In Boston, two white men verbally and physically assault a U.S. citizen of Algerian descent as he walked out of a Boston restaurant.
May 1 Wednesday. In Northern Virginia, a taxi cab passenger verbally and physically assaults a Muslim cab driver, who is also an army reservist and Iraq War veteran.
April 28 Sunday. A backpack that said “USA Bomb” was left in the backyard of a Muslim family’s home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
April 27 Saturday. A mosque in Oklahoma City was sprayed with curse-word graffiti.
April 27 Saturday: A man verbally abused and threatened to shoot a group of Muslims at Seattle Center’s International Fountain.
April 17 Wednesday. In Malden, a Muslim woman in a headscarf was assaulted by a man who hit her in her shoulder.
April 16. A Bangladeshi man at an Applebee’s in the Bronx got beaten-up by a group of men he went outside to smoke a cigarette.
Pakistan will hold an historic election Saturday, the first time in that country’s modern history that a government has been able to finish a term without a coup or some other interruption. Pew offers an excellent Pakistan primer, whose Muslim population of about 180 million is surpassed only Indonesia.
Among the 39 nations asked whether they preferred democracy or a strong leader, Pakistan ranked last among those favoring democracy.
Al Jazeera expanding…
Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-owned cable broadcaster praised by fans for its serious approach to news but derided by some as anti-American, will this summer launch Al-Jazeera America, a 24/7 news network. The network will start with 12 new U.S. bureaus: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C.
David Rohde, the foreign correspondent who bravely covered the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia and later the war in Afghanistan, is out with a new book, “Beyond War.” Rohde, who had been held captive both by extremist Serbs in Bosnia and the Taliban in Afghanistan, exposes “the deep contradiction” between Washington desire to shape the Middle East with soft power all while slashing funding for the instruments of soft power, according to a New York Times review by Peter Beinart, editor of the Open Zion blog at The Daily Beast.
Max and Muhammad
A new journal, Sociology of Islam, will be launched this spring, and has tapped an impressive list of Islamic scholars, American and international, Muslim and non-Muslim, to shepherd the project. SOI will be published by Brill. The peer-reviewed academic journal will publish four times per year.
From SOI’s announcement: “Since Max Weber’s groundbreaking research on the sociology of religion, sociologists have grappled with aspects of religion both at the theoretical and empirical levels. While an increasing number of social scientists, particularly in recent decades, have employed innovative sociological frameworks for the study of Islam and Muslim Societies, this promising sub-discipline has so far lacked its own academic journal. The Sociology of Islam is intended to bridge this gap by functioning as an academic forum for the publication of innovative contributions to the study of Islam and Muslim societies.”