Activists petition to free Kurdish immigrant
A group of activists has launched a petition to grant a new trial to Yassin Aref, a Kurdish immigrant in Albany, N.Y., who was convicted in 2006 on terrorism-related charges. His defense lawyers have recently uncovered new evidence that shows Yassin was confused with an Al Qaeda operative with the same name. It’s been a sad, harrowing ordeal that you can read about in this riveting story in New York magazine.
From the piece: “The interrogation lasted much of the night. He says he never heard specific charges. At some point they told him his house and mosque were being raided, and all he could think about was his wife and three children, who had arrived in Albany with him as U.N. refugees in 1999.”
Islam in schools
Members of the Brevard School Board in Florida are reviewing the Prentice Hall World History textbook after Florida state house representative Ritch Workman and two local anti-Islamic groups, Citizens for National Security, and the local chapter of ACT! For America, alleged the book had a pro-Islamic bias.
A lawyer for the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the groups don’t like textbooks that present Islam in an objective way.
And in Minnesota, Muslims are urging Little Falls High School in Little Falls, about 100 miles northwest of Minneapolis, to withdraw approval for an event featuring Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America, a designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gabriel, the subject of a disturbing 2011 NYT story, was invited by the Central Minnesota Tea Party chapter.
NC anti-Sharia bill passed
State lawmakers in North Carolina passed a bill Wednesday night that would prohibit judges from considering Shariah, or Islamic law, in their decisions. The bill now goes to Republican Governor Pat McCrory who can either sign it or veto it. If McCrory does sign the bill into law, North Carolina will join Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Washington as states whose legislatures have adopted anti-Shariah laws, according to Gavel to Gavel, a web publication that tracks state legislatures.
Anti-Muslim incidents in northern California
The San Francisco and Sacramento chapters of CAIR received nearly 450 complaints in 2012 of discrimination, FBI interview requests, and hate crimes, according to a report released July 24. That’s a dramatic increase from the previous year, when the two chapters received 283 complaints. Employment discrimination accounted for the largest portion of complaints, 17 percent.
Ben Youcef can act and sing
Abdulwahab Benyoucef, aka Ben Youcef, was born in Algiers and now lives in Hollywood. His acting credits include terrorists in the hit show Law & Order and in the film Munich. But other days, he goes to different Los Angeles area mosques to give the “adhan,” or call to prayer. According to this NPR story, it’s one of the most beautiful you’ll ever here. Check out the video.
Al Jazeera names woman president
Al Jazeera America, the international cable news channel, named Kate O’Brian a senior vice president at ABC News and a veteran journalist, as its first president. AJA will debut August 20, anchored by the nightly program “America Tonight,” according to a July 23 New York Times report.
“I’m looking forward to showing the Al Jazeera viewers that there is a strong demand for the type of in-depth reporting for which Al-Jazeera is so well known,” O’Brian said in a statement.
A Sufi walks and whirls again
Emily O’Dell, the Whittlesey Chair of History and Archeology at the American University of Beirut, practiced and long and hard to become an accomplished whirling dervish, a practitioner of the Sufi art of connecting with God through whirling. Then she found herself in a wheelchair, facing the possibility of never walking again. But thanks to an assortment of spiritual healers, she’s walking, and whirling.
Group wants Iranian Sufis freed
Human Rights Watch is calling on Iran to quash verdicts and abandon charges against 11 Sufis who were prosecuted and sentenced to various jail terms, solely because of their peaceful activities on behalf of their Sufi order, and their contributions to the Majzooban news website that covers abuses against the order members.
Muslim Brotherhood translated
For Egypt-watchers, one of the more interesting blogs you’ll find is “MB In English,” which translates articles and papers by Muslim Brotherhood leaders into English.
Juz recitations coming up
The Quran is supposed to be a big part of Ramadan, and every night this month mosques hold special prayers known as taraweeh. On the first night, imams will get through roughly one-thirtieth of the Quran, and then read another thirtieth every night and complete the Quran on the last night. These one-thirtieth sections are known as juz.
If you like Quran recitation, then check out MuslimMatters.org, where they have compiled a list of the best juz recitations from around the world for every night of Ramadan.