Welcome to Moozweek, a round-up of news and views relating to Islam and Muslims in America and abroad.

Syria stays in the news

The civil war in Syria continues to grip Muslim Americans and Muslims abroad, especially on the news that the U.S. and Russia have struck a deal on the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons by 2014. Meanwhile,  the fighting rages on. Rebel forces, according to Time magazine are feeling abandoned by the U.S.; almost half of those forces, according to a new report from IHS Janes, are extremists. On Wednesday, fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria captured Azaz, a town near the Turkish border.

The deals also haven’t stopped talk that the Saudis, Turks, and other regional countries are sending arms to the rebels.

Women refugees attend a counseling session at a clinic near Mafraq in northern Jordan. With support from the UK, the International Rescue Committee is helping refugees who have crossed the border from Syria to escape the fighting by providing medical and psycho-social care such as trauma counseling. "Leaving our home to come to another country was the hardest thing to do, it was very difficult", says Basma*, pictured left.

Women refugees attend a counseling session at a clinic near Mafraq in northern Jordan. With support from the UK, the International Rescue Committee is helping refugees who have crossed the border from Syria to escape the fighting by providing medical and psycho-social care such as trauma counseling. “Leaving our home to come to another country was the hardest thing to do, it was very difficult”, says Basma*, pictured left. Photo courtesy DFID - UK Department via Flickr


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Syrian refugees forgotten?

Amid the deal-making and fighting, it appears that Syrian refugees, whose numbers are growing, are in danger of being forgotten, reports The Christian Science Monitor , with countries who pledged aid having delivered only a small fraction of the promised amounts. The Syrian refugee crisis is getting worse fast, and could have lasting consequences for the region, beyond Syria’s collapse, reports The New York Review of Books.

Bosnia refugees offer advice

Many watching the slaughter in Syria have been reminded of the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia’s Muslims by Christian Orthodox Serbs. While the parallels are not perfect, one similarity is that Syrian refugees in the West will face the same challenges faced by Bosnian refugees, who turned out pretty well, and offer some advice in this Public Radio International piece from Wednesday Sep. 18.

 Chicago area Islamic center sues city

The American Islamic Center in Des Plaines, Ill., a northwestern Chicago suburb, filed a religious discrimination lawsuit Monday Sep. 16 against the city for rejecting zoning permits to convert a vacant office building it purchased in February into an Islamic center.

City alderman said converting the building, which previously housed an insurance company and is in a manufacturing district, into a mosque would increase traffic, endanger mosque members in an area with heavy truck traffic, and hurt local businesses. Supporters of the 160-member congregation, comprised mainly of Bosnian refugees who fled the Bosnian War of 1992-1995, say their congregation would pose no more of a traffic and safety impact than the insurance company employees who once worked in the area.

In April, the Irshad Learning Center, a mainly Shiite congregation, won a religious discrimination lawsuit against the zooming board in neighboring DuPage County.

Harvard Law School gets Islamic law expert

Award-winning Islamic law scholar Intisar Rabb will be teaching next spring at Harvard Law School, where she will be a faculty director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program. The American-born Rabb, who is fluent in Arabic and Persian, now teaches Islamic studies at New York University School of Law. Her publications include “The Burden and Benefit of Doubt: Legal Maxims in Early Islamic Law,” and “Law and Tradition in Classical Islamic Thought.” She is on the board of the Journal of Islamic Law and Society.

Afghan police officer shot

Women in Afghanistan continue to fight for their rights to participate in Afghan society, and often pay a price most of us can’t imagine. Lieutenant Negar was the most senior female police office in Helmand Province, but was assassinated on her way to work. She had replaced another female officer who had been killed on the job.

Screenshot from the trailer of Wadjda

Screenshot from the trailer of Wadjda courtesy SonyPicturesClassics via YouTube

Love for Wadjda

“Wadjda,” the first film reportedly ever directed by a Saudi woman opened last week in New York and Los Angeles, and has been getting lots of love from critics. The story is about a 10 year-old girl in Riyadh and her struggle to buy her own bicycle, and according to A.O. Scott of the New York Times it is a “sharply observed, deceptively gentle film.” While most of the rest of the world wants to see it, the challenge might be getting Saudis to go, according to this New York Times profile of director Haifaa al-Mansour.

Video courtesy SonyPicturesClassics via YouTube

Diesel ad and Islamic couture

While reporting on the controversy over a new Diesel jeans ad featuring a white model in a redesigned denim burqa, I also got to learn a little about the influence of Islamic style on Western fashion. In his Eurasia Review piece, writer Angel Millar points out that just over a century ago, it was controversial for women to wear pants. Some of the first types, so-called “harem pants,” were developed in 1911. In 1996, Turkish-British designer Hussein Chalayan produced a runway show in which the first model came out with nothing but a face veil. Those who followed had progressively more clothing on, until the last model was covered head to toe. Ameena Meer, who worked on the Diesel ad, noted on MTVDesi.com, in her defense of the Diesel ad, that burqas have appeared in fashion shows in Paris while chadors have been on display at the Met in New York.

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