A weekly roundup of news about Muslims:
Wichita schools pull Five Pillars poster
As part of its world history curriculum, the Wichita Public School system teaches Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. So, to help its students learn about Islam, Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary illustrated the Five Pillars of Islam on a bulletin board. But someone didn’t like the pillars, took a photo, posted it on Facebook, and caused an uproar. A local Fox News Radio commentator called it a “giant wall display” promoting Islam. The school took the pillars down.
Anti-Muslim terror trainer tossed
The Illinois Anti-Terrorism Task Force cancelled anti-Muslim activist Sam Kharoba counter-terrorism lecture to Illinois police officers. Since he didn’t get a chance speak last weekend, here is a sampling of nasty stuff he’s said in the past. It warrants repeating that this sort of ridiculousness happens a lot.
Not in Mulberry
Massachusetts changes religious headwear policy
University of Michigan law school graduate Iman Abdulrazzak has won a major court battle. The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners will now allow people who take the bar exam to wear hijabs, yarmulkes, and other religious headwear without prior approval. The policy was changed after a proctor hassled Abdulrazzak for wearing a hijab, even though she received prior consent. She complained, and won. Can we call her Hijabi McBeal?
Accolade for Muslim charity
Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that helps people evaluate charities, has ranked Helping Hand for Relief Development sixth on its list of Top 10 Charities Relying on Private Contributions. The Muslim American charity works in Muslim and non-Muslim countries. That should come as good news to Muslims whose charitable giving has been chilled by legal scrutiny.
U.S. politicians ponder response to Egypt uprising
Politicians in the United States and around the world are debating whether their countries should continue sending aid to the new military government in Egypt, which since taking power a few weeks ago has killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Any decision to suspend aid may prove ineffective, as rulers in Saudi Arabia, the cradle of Islam and home to some of the most conservative strains of Islam in the world, has vowed to support the generals in their crackdown against the Brotherhood, the New York Times reported. Israel and the United Arab Emirates have also supported the crackdown. But at least one writer, Zack Gold at Foreign Affairs, argues that security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and Egypt thrived under Morsi, and that as unrest threatens to spill into Egypt, Israel will soon miss the Muslim Bwill soon miss Morsi.
One reason some people fear the Brotherhood is because they perceived them, or at least some of its members, to be hostile towards religious minorities. The legitimacy of those worries was evident in recent days, with attacks against dozens of churches, according to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others. While those attacks have been attributed to the Brotherhood, The Washington Post noted that the military hasn’t done much to stop them.
It’s also worth noting, as Global Post did, the 10 U.S. companies that profit most Egypt’s military.
Cataloguing Boko Haram’s crimes
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued a new report on the Nigerian Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram. According the six-page report, since Jan. 1, 2012, Boko Haram attacked at least 50 churches killing 366 people. And those are just a few of the findings.
Now there are new reports that the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekou, may have been killed followed a gunfight in June, although observers doubt that will hurt the group.
Ali Khamenei and America
Several profiles of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, have been written over the years. But in the wake of Iran electing a new president, none is perhaps more interesting and relevant for Americans than the one offered by Akbar Ganji, a famed Iranian dissident-journalist, in Foreign Affairs. His argument: Khamenei has long distrusted America, but still believes Iran and America can be friends.
Speaking of making friends, congratulations to the George Mason University Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, whose Iranian School for Conflict Resolution and Peace started its second semester this month. It nearly doubled the number of students, to 132, who represent different regions and ethnic groups in Iran.
LGBT rights may be included in Turkey’s constitution
Turkey took a step towards greater LGBT rights by mentioning in the preamble of its draft constitution “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Hey Vladimir Putin, you paying attention?
The Quran as fine art
Need an excuse to visit Boston? How about “Sacred Pages: Conversations about the Quran,” a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts which explores old and new Qurans, and how Muslims, including a few in Boston today, interpret the Quran over time. Radio Boston offer’s an intriguing program on this exhibit, which runs until February 23, 2014.