A weekly roundup of news about Muslims:
Muslim mother seeking justice for son killed on 9/11
A dozen years after 9/11, Talat Hamdani is still fighting for her son, Muhammad Salman Hamdani, an NYPD cadet and EMT who was killed on 9/11 trying to help people at Ground Zero. He was initially a suspect, and still hasn’t been properly commemorated, say critics, including, Mrs. Hamdani, who shared a lot of time for my story about her.
One of the more disheartening stories told by Mrs. Hamdani, a high school substitute teacher, was the Islamophobia she experienced at the hands of students.
“The moment they discover my faith, ‘Oh, so Osama Bin Laden is your friend? Have you met Osama Bin Laden?’ And I ask them, why do you say that?”
One boy responded, “You are Osama Bin Laden’s secret wife.”
She blames American politicians and the media. “This kid, grew up in this society, getting all this biased, prejudiced, wrong misinformation, and hatred towards Muslims,” she said.
How not to observe 9/11
What was supposed to be a 9/11 memorial “took on elements of an anti-Islamic rally Wednesday,” according to the Herald-Tribune of Venice, Fla. The low-point was a lengthy speech by Tom Trento, the leader of The United West, described as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“I’m not talking about radical Islam or moderate Islam. I’m talking about all Islam,” Trento said. “Their goal is to get every single one of us to convert to Islam. And they won’t stop until they do.”
Louisiana paper apologizes for story about Muslims
The Shreveport Times apologized to readers following complaints about a front page story on the 9/11 anniversary about how local Muslims were faring twelve years after the terrorist attacks.
Soldier stands up to Islamophobe
“What Would You Do” is an ABC show where a hidden camera watches how everyday Americans react to sticky situations. On one recent episode, an actor portrayed an Islamophobic customer harassing another actor playing a Muslim store clerk. The results are encouraging, as most people – but not all – in the store confronted the Islamophobe. In the most dramatic scene, a U.S. soldier tells the Islamophobe he wears his uniform to fight intolerance and tells the Islamophobe to leave the store.
Palm Beach County official rants about Muslims
Next time I need an objective quote about Muslims, I think I’ll call John Jamason, a public information officer from Palm Beach County. On the 9/11 anniversary, Jamason wrote on his Facebook page: “There is no such thing as radical Islam. All Islam is radical. There may be Muslims who don’t practice their religion, much like others. The Quran is a book that preaches hate.”
Matt Damon spends time at Muslim health clinic
No, Matt Damon didn’t convert, but he did spend some quality time at the United Muslims Medical Association Community Clinic, an award-winning clinic that serves low-income people in Los Angeles. Damon was there filming a documentary about global warming, and was interviewing UMMA staff about the effects of heat on pregnant women. I had a chance to touch on that topic for a 2010 RNS story about Islamic guidelines exempting pregnant and breast-feeding women from fasting during Ramadan.
Article delves into apostasy and death penalty debate
In 2006, Sheila Musaji started following the case of Cherif Bassiouni, a distinguished law professor at DePaul University who submitted his expert testimony to a court in Afghanistan which was trying a man who converted from Islam to Christianity. Citing historical and modern rulings, Bassiouni argued that apostasy is not a capital offense under Islamic law. Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.com criticized Bassiouni, asserted Islam mandates death for apostates, and accused the law professor of associating with violent Muslims.
It is a worthwhile read, both for Bassiouni’s clear and thorough descriptions of Islamic law, and Musaji’s analyses of some of the arguments made by anti-Muslim writers like Spencer.
The article ends with an update by Musaji, who recently discovered that Spencer has developed an “all-purpose statement” against arguments made by Islamic scholars against Islamophobia.
Shariah veto stands
Legislative supporters of an anti-Shariah bill vetoed by Missouri Governor Jay Dixon in June won enough votes to override the veto in the Senate, but narrowly failed in the House. Dixon argued that the bill would have made it harder for Missouri families to adopt children from overseas.
Video courtesy Pringlesman via YouTube
The Wrath of Khan
How does Abercrombie and Fitch feel about Hani Khan, the young Muslim woman who successfully sued the retailer for employment discrimination? A couple of pop culture savvy readers, who both left the comment “Khaaaaaan,” suggested they might feel like William Shatner in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”
American terrorist likely killed in Somalia
Alabama-grown terrorist Omar Hammani was reportedly killed by fellow terrorists in Somalia after he publicly broke with Al-Shabaab and Al Qaida. “He did what he wanted to do and he fulfilled his principles,” Hammani’s father Shafik told ABC News. How does one go from a cozy Alabama suburb to becoming one of the highest ranking officials in Al Shabaab? Read Andrea Elliot’s thorough New York Times Magazine piece from 2010, “The Jihadist Next Door.”
Exploiting Religion in Egypt
In Egypt, who has religion on their sidels? That’s the question asked, and answered, by Asma Afsaruddin, chair of the Department of Near-eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, in a Religion Dispatches piece that explores “the cynical use of religion to justify calculated political strategies” by the Muslim Brotherhood and the opponents who overthrew them.