A weekly roundup of news about Muslims:
Anti-Muslim speaker to train Illinois police
The Illinois Anti-Terrorism Task Force is paying Sam Kharoba, who many Muslims say is a notorious anti-Muslim bigot, to train Illinois police officers about terrorism. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is urging Illinois law enforcement authorities to drop Kharoba, who will be speaking to officers on August 19 at Northeast Multi-Regional Training in Lombard, Ill. Kharoba has also trained police in Florida. Indeed, as The Washington Monthly and others have reported, anti-Muslim zealots training police about terrorism happens more often than we think.
Call to violence at anti-Muslim lecture
University of Central Florida professor Jonathan Matusitz told a crowd of 200 people on August 13 that Muslims were waging a “civilization jihad” and trying to “whitewash” their crimes. According to a local news report, at least one audience member advocated violence against Muslims. And a question for Tea Party and Brevard County officials: Why was Matusitz allowed to speak on taxpayers’ money?
Major Hasan’s martyr complex
Major Nidal Hasan, the Muslim American soldier who gunned down 13 fellow soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas and left many others seriously injured, told mental health experts the following year he wished he had been killed in the rampage because that would have meant God had chosen him for martyrdom.
“I don’t think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers,” he told the panel.
Some have suggested this sort of thinking is unique to Islam, but religious fanatics come in all stripes. Congolese warlord and Pentecostal
pastor General Laurent Nkunda, used religious fervor to lead his troops to kill. Yigal Amir assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because he believed Rabin’s support of the Oslo Peace Accords denied Jews their biblical heritage, and therefore justified the assassination.
Prickly proctor harasses hijabi test-taker
Iman Abdulrazzak did her part by sending in written notification that she would be wearing her hijab during a recent Massachusetts bar exam. The permission was granted, but a test proctor somehow missed the memo and in the middle of the exam dropped a note on Abdulrazak’s test paper demanding she take it off at test intermission. Luckily, another test manager confirmed Abdulrazzak’s permission, but not after causing some serious distraction for the harried test-taker. While its good that Massachusetts bar examiners will review their headwear policies, it seems like in a fairer world that the prickly proctor who harassed Abdulrazzak should pay for her exam.
Violence follows end of Ramadan
Following Ramadan, when Muslims are supposed to be unified, many parts of the Islamic world saw a sharp escalation in Muslim on Muslim violence.
In northeastern Nigeria, gunmen believed to be seeking vengeance against citizens who cooperated with the country’s military killed 44 worshippers in a mosque on Sunday, and 12 other people in a nearby village on Saturday.
Nowhere was the violence worse than in Egypt, where Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.
The Washington Post argued that the Obama administration, by not labeling the Egyptian Army’s ouster of Morsi on July 3 as coup, bears some responsibility for the bloodshed. Yet another story from Reuters says that U.S. and European governments urged Egypt’s military not to attack the sit-ins. While security forces were responsible for most of the bloodshed, Amnesty International and others have reported that, before the attacks on the camps, Muslim Brotherhood supporters had tortured and killed protesters from rival parties, and have since attacked Coptic Christians.
Sunnis underrepresented in Iraq
The International Crisis Group warns policy makers not to take their eyes off Iraq, where a continued lack of Sunni participation in the government is pushing the country back towards a Sunni-Shiite war. To avoid that, the ICG says, the national government needs to negotiate ceasefires with Sunni leaders at the local level.
Mali takes democratic baby steps
Citizens of Mali took a step toward democracy this week after former finance minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita graciously conceded defeat in the presidential election to former prime minister Soumalia Cisse.
Cisse tweeted his concession: “My family and I went to the house of Mr. Keita, future president of Mali, to congratulate him for his victory,” Cisse wrote. “May God Bless Mali.”
The move helps free about $4 billion in aid promised by international donors, but conditioned on the establishment of a democratically-elected government.
Saira Shah’s new semi-autobiographical book
Saira Shah made her name as a courageous journalist covering Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, the homeland of her father, the famous Sufi expert Idries Shah. There, she presciently observed in one of her dispatches, that the American-backed mujahedeen were importing “a brand of extremist political Islam that…had been almost unknown inside Afghanistan.” She later became a documentary filmmaker, winning several awards for the 2004 documentary “Death in Gaza.”
Shaw has most recently finished her first novel, The Mouse-Proof Kitchen. The 337-page book is described in this NYT book review as a “semi-autobiographical account” of the most recent chapter of her life, raising her severely brain-damaged daughter.
“The Patience Stone” now a movie
Like Shah, Atiq Rahimi is originally from Afghanistan, but lives in France. His most recent work, The Patience Stone, is a film based on his 2008 novel of the same name, in which a wife heroically strives to care for her critically wounded husband, even as her in-laws seem to have abandoned her.
The New York Times has a fascinating profile of the Iranian-born actress, and rebel extraordinaire, Golshifteh Farahani. “In a protest against the headscarf at 16, she shaved her head, taped down her breasts, dressed like a boy and rode a bicycle around Tehran.”
For the time being, the film is playing in New York and Los Angeles.
Halal Fest comes to Newark (Calif.)
If you dig halal food and live in Newark, Calif., you’re in luck. This Saturday (August 17) , marks the first Halal Fest. The bazaar will feature 17 food vendors with names such as “Chutney Mary’s,” “New Africa Kitchen,” and “RajaBelle’s Cupcakes.” The festival is open to all. The idea is to allow people to sample tasty food and get to know different cultures.
If you can’t make it, you can probably find a tasty halal restaurant in your town. Just got to zabaihah.com, — a halal Zagat’s with more than thousands of listings.