A wrap-up of Muslim news, July 29 – Aug 2:

Poetic justice for Aslan

Most readers will have heard of the infamous Fox TV interview with religion scholar Reza Aslan, in which host Lauren Green, repeatedly asked him why a Muslim would want to write a book about Jesus.

There is some poetic justice. The horrid interview went viral, boosting Aslan’s book on Jesus (No. 1 on Amazon) and driving crowds to his book readings. Praise Jesus.

Crayola succumbing to Shariah?

The Pickens County (Ga.) Republican Party is urging members to call Crayola, the crayon maker, after it featured free coloring pages that had Ramadan themes, on its website.

That reporter might be an assassin

Brigitte Gabriel, head of the anti-Muslim group ACT! for America, asked reporter Josh Moniz of the New Ulm Journal not to film her Tea Party-sponsored speech in Mankato on July 30. Why? Because, Gabriel said, his pretty small flip camera, seen here, could be hiding a gun. Luckily, Moniz tweeted highlights of Gabriel’s speech.

Why did ABC dump Glenn Beck?

The conservative talk-meister revealed this week that the Council on American-Islamic Relations threated ABC with a boycott if it continued to use him as a commentator. After CAIR’s threats, Beck said, Diane Sawyer, quit taking his calls. Really.

Tennessee mosque opponents appeal

Can’t taxpayer money be better spent? That’s what Saleh Sbenaty, a board member at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Tennessee, wants to know. Lawyers representing opponents of a new  mosque appealed a court’s decision to allow the mosque to be built.

Joe Brandon, a lawyer for the plaintiffs (Experienced. Driven. Compassionate.) answered:

“What is wrong with wanting to ask questions about direct ties to terrorism? What’s the harm in that? Why do we have to undergo cavity searches at the airports? It’s because of the Muslims.”

A double standard in news coverage of terrorism?

Steve Randall and Sara McCloskey at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting argue that violence by Muslims receives much more coverage that violence by Westerners. For example, the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby by Muslim extremists was mentioned in nearly 500 U.S. newspaper and wire stories, while the murder of Mohammed Saleem, a 75-year-old Muslim man stabbed to death in a hate crime in Birmingham three weeks before Rigby, was mentioned in one 136-word UPI brief.

Is Al Jazeera America afraid of Al Jazeera Arabic?

That’s the premise of a couple of interesting articles by Michael Calderone, a media reporter at the HuffingtonPost, and Glen Greenwald of The Guardian. Perhaps the most damning evidence is an email from an Al-Jazeera journalist accusing the American executives of trying to distance themselves from its flagship network in Doha. Al Jazeera America will debut August 20.

“The missive… excoriates network officials for running away from the Jazeera brand…” wrote Greenwald.

Speculation about Huma Abedin’s motives

There was a lot of speculation this week about why Huma Abedin, one of the most powerful women in Washington, and a Muslim, would want to stay with Anthony Weiner, a disgraced congressman turned NYC mayoral candidate who is on his second sexting scandal. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times figured it was her upbringing in Saudi Arabia, where women are used to getting treated poorly.  Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, writing at the National Review online, thinks she is a Muslim extremist mole.

“The marriage to Anthony Weiner, a prominent Jewish progressive, enables Huma Abedin to deflect attention from her associations with various Islamic supremacists even as, during her tenure as a top State Department official, American policy embraces Islamic supremacists,” McCarthy writes.

There was some sanity out there, however, thanks to Elissa Strauss, writing at The Forward’s Sisterhood blog.

“This conspiracy talk assuming she has more power than she does sounds a whole lot like the ‘Elders of Zion,’ and is outright dangerous,” Strauss wrote. “Us Jews have witnessed what happens when a person or group is perceived to have more power than they actually do and it’s a shade of ugly that nobody should ever see again.”

“So, everybody, let’s leave Huma alone. Okay?”


Lashes and prison for Saudi liberal activist

A court in Jeddah convicted Raif Badawi, a liberal activist and founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, of violating the country’s anti cyber-crime law and insulting Islam. Why? Liberalism is akin to disbelief, according to the judge. The punishment? 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Imam prays at Congressional session

Imam Talib Shareef with Leon Panetta and Ebrahim Rassol

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (far left) speaks with South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rassol (center) and Imam Talib Shareef (far right), retired chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force and 4th resident Imam for the Masjid Muhammad at the Muslim Iftar at the Pentagon, July 25, 2012. By DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo (Released) (Flickr: 120725-D-BW835-487) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Imam Talib Shareef, a retired United States Air Force Chief Master Sergeant, opened the July 31 session of the House of Representatives with a two-minute prayer. Sharif is a 30-year Air Force veteran who co-founded Muslim Military Members, Muslim-American Military Association, and Muslim-American Veterans Association.  He studied under the late Imam W.D. Mohammed, and is now imam at Masjid Muhammad in Washington D.C. one of the most historic mosques in America.


Morocco’s Muslims and Jews break fast

Over at The Daily Beast, veteran reporter Souad Mekhennet has a hopeful yet cautionary piece about Muslim and Jewish relations in the northwest African country, but hopes that it won’t be threatened by some of the nationalism unleashed by the Arab Spring.

“For generations Muslims and Jews grew up together here in Morocco. We are brothers and sisters and in some cases shared even the same mother’s milk,” said one iftar participant.

A new Quran app

To commemorate the last 10 days of Ramadan, which Muslims generally believe to be the most blessed days of the month, The Book Foundation is offering a free app containing a translation and commentary on the Quran.

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