Protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 5, 2013, as part of ongoing protests against the ruling party, police brutality, and the destruction of Taksim park for a development project. Photo courtesy newsonline via Flickr (http://flic.kr/p/eDKBHa)

Protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 5, 2013, as part of ongoing protests against the ruling party, police brutality, and the destruction of Taksim park for a development project. Photo courtesy newsonline via Flickr (http://flic.kr/p/eDKBHa)


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A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam:

Hate on…

You like watching people behave badly? Check out this two-minute video of anti-Islamic protestors yelling at Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, while he was giving a talk about tolerance and civil rights at the Manchester Convention Center.

From Nicole Young’s story in The Tennessean: “People were turned away at the door because the facility was too full. Some grew angry and started hurling terms such as ‘communist,’ ‘socialist’ and ‘Muslim’ at law enforcement officials.”

More attacks…

Early Saturday, someone allegedly broke a window at the Muslim Society Center in Owatonna, Minn., which according to local Muslims has been attacked a few times before. On Saturday night, someone fired about two-dozen paintballs at the McKinney Islamic Association mosque in Texas. The previous week, the words “London Justice” were spray-painted with other graffiti on a mosque in Alpharetta, Ga., and a woman wearing a hijab was stabbed multiple times by an assailant in Antioch, Calif.

 No jail time…

In Nashville, a Texas man, Javier Alan Correa, received five years probation and eight months house detention, but no jail time, for telephoning in a bomb threat against the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tn. in 2011. The Murfreesboro mosque has been targeted by anti-Islamic groups who want to stop it expansion plans.

“I also understand not all Muslims are terrorists. I was just ignorant at that time, plus I had been drinking alcohol, so I wasn’t thinking very clearly, which is why I made a very poor choice in calling,” Correa said, in a prepared statement to the court room.

Anti-Shariah veto…

On Wednesday, I wrote a story about Missouri governor Jay Nixon vetoing a proposed bill that would have prohibited judges from considering Shariah law in their decisions. He cited its potential to invalidate the laws required to finalize foreign adoptions. But Nixon cited several other reasons in a two-page letter that contains many of the arguments opponents of the anti-Shariah laws will likely use in the future.

Bill-ignoring, bamboozled liar…

The sponsor of the vetoed bill, Sen. Brian Nieves, was pretty upset, “…he either didn’t read it, has been bamboozled, or is just straight up lying!”

Busy woman…

Easy to miss but so illuminating are the pieces depicting Muslims doing regular things, like work, sports, or art. Consider this Minneapolis Star-Tribune column, “On the Job,” which this week did a nice job profiling Saly Abd Alla, the civil rights director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Roast Post…

Two Muslim American men are suing the New York Post, the tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, for defamation and libel. Salaheddin Barhoun, 16, and Yassine Zaimi, 24, say that by picturing them on its front page with the caption “Bag Men” three days after the Boston Marathon bombing, the New York Post falsely depicted them as being involved in the bombing.

Muslim-Jewish dialogue, down under accent…

South African Ambassador’s Residence, Washington D.C.

South African Ambassador’s Residence, Washington D.C.
South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool with Rabbi Marc Schneier as Imam Mohamed Magid, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and Dr. Maqsood Chaudhary look on. (Photo by BJ Holtgrewe)

Nothing like personal contact to break down barriers. The Islamic Society of North America, the largest Islamic organization in North America, and The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, an interfaith advocacy group founded by rap mogul Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneier, brought imams and rabbis from South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand to Washington DC for a two-day interfaith visit. Organizers hope the trip will spark Muslim-Jewish dialogue in those countries at a time when Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise.

Four members of Congress attended: Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), both Muslims, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), both Jews. The religious leaders also met White House and State Department officials, and took-in a Washington National’s baseball game.

 

RIP Alixa Naff…

Alixa Naff, one of the earliest, most prolific and innovative chroniclers of Arab-American history, died Saturday at her home in Mitchellville, Md. She was 93. The longtime Detroit resident traveled the nation in a blue VW beetle, coaxing Arab Americans to tell her their stories and donate treasured family items for a collection now kept at the National Museum of American History.

 

Turkey protests…

Still trying to make sense of the protests in Turkey? The New York Times on Tuesday and Thursday had excellent explanatory pieces about power grabs and policy quandaries. The Jewish Daily Forward reflected that being Jewish under Turkey’s supposed Islamist government wasn’t so bad.

Homophobic Muslims…

In recent weeks, I’ve mentioned or seen a few items about Muslims being more open towards homosexuality. But homophobia is still rampant in the Muslim world, according to a June 4 report by Pew Research Global Attitudes Project. While most European, North American and South American countriesshowed rates of acceptance for homosexuality at between 60 percent and 88 percent, the acceptance rates in Muslim countries hovered in the single digits. Nigeria (1 percent), Pakistan, Tunisia (2 percent), Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Senegal (3), Palestinian Territories (4), and Malaysia, Turkey (9). Lebanon polled at 18 percent.

Islam vs. Science…

For those interested in the ongoing debate about Islam and science and how science has lagged in Islamic countries, check out this 90-minute debate between Muslim intellectual giants: Aasad Q Ahmed, professor of Islamic and Arabic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani nuclear physicist now teaching at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan. The debate was sponsored by the American Islamic Congress.

Rockin Hijabis…

Meet Random Stars, the first all-female band in the United Arab Emirates, the conservative Gulf kingdom. The National reports that the five women are all students at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the city of Al Ain, and were brought together by a British English teacher.

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