MOOZWEEK: A weekly compilation of news about Muslims in the U.S. and abroad:
American Muslims condemn attacks in Kenya and Pakistan
It was a bad week for Islamic extremism. Members of Al-Shabab, the Somali terrorist group, killed more than 60 people in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall; Pakistani extremists bombed churches, killing more than 80 people, and Sunni-Shiite violence hit mosques and funerals in Iraq.
While Fox News accused Muslim Americans of staying silent about these attacks, Mother Jones showed that Muslim American groups have condemned the attacks.
Among them were Somalis in Minnesota, the state with the nation’s largest Somali community.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations was quick to “strongly condemn” all three attacks, describing the Iraq violence as “barbarity” and the Nairobi strike as “cowardly,” while also supporting American efforts to help victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
In addition, CAIR condemned the attacks on churches in Pakistan: “No one with a shred of humanity would commit such despicable acts against innocent men, women and children,” the group said.
Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said, “This perverted mindset that sheds blood without regard to any humanity must be confronted and challenged by all of us; we must all work together to fight this type of extremism.”
Muslims for Progressive Values condemned the attacks as “un-Islamic, wrong and contrary to the teachings of our Holy Scriptures,” and rejected the phrase “Islamic extremism” as an insult to peaceful Muslims.
Journalist James Ferguson, who spent time reporting in Kenya and Somalia, reminded readers there was no need to be afraid of young Muslims in America.
Pakistan to add another blasphemy law
Blasphemy against Islam and Prophet Muhammad is a capital offense in Pakistan, where Muslims have often levied the charge against Christians without merit. Now, Pakistan’s government has a solution for trumped up allegations of blaspehmy: make false charges a capital offense as well.
American Iranian Detente?
A meeting between President Obama and new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani didn’t happen as hoped at this week’s convening of the UN General Assembly, but hopes for an American-Iranian detente remain high, not least of all among the Iranian people, reports the Wall Street Journal. The Financial Times writes that such a detente would be “game-changing.” While Obama and Rouhani didn’t meet, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did, marking the first time in more than 30 years that a meeting has been held between the top diplomat from each country.
Attacks on Sikhs and Muslims spike
It was a busy week for hate crimes and bigotry, too. I reported about a Sikh community physician in New York who was beaten by a group of teenagers who called him “Osama” and “terrorist.” A short while later, a Muslim woman was assaulted a few blocks away. Check out Stanford University’s “Turban Myths” study, which puts some numbers to the bigotry and religious illiteracy that has hit the Sikh community since 9/11.
A few hours before those incidents, in a dramatic scene captured on video, a man walking by a pro-democracy rally in Times Square yelled “f****ng terrorist” at a Muslim woman protesting there, and ripped her placard out of her hands. Police at the scene handcuffed the man and took him away as protestors taunted him.
On Wednesday, the ACLU and a group called United Sikhs called on the Mississippi Department of Transportation to investigate the harassment of a Sikh truck driver. The driver was arrested by police officers for a flat tire and called a terrorist, according to the ACLU. He was then ejected from the courtroom for not removing his traditional turban.
“The fact that officers may be unfamiliar with Sikhism or other minority religions does not give them license to harass and degrade members of the public who follow those faiths,” said Bear Atwood, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
Over objections, mosque construction is approved
Virginia is for Lovers. Except when they want to build a mosque. That’s the message some audience members at a Virginia Beach City Council meeting sent in a debate just before a vote on whether to allow local Muslims to build the city’s first mosque. The council approved the mosque 9 to 1, over the objections of residents. Forget traffic concerns, said one man, “We do not want mosques in Virginia Beach. Personally, I don’t want them anywhere.”
Muslim producer at NPR detained at border
Sarah Abdurrahman, a producer for On The Media, the acclaimed media review program on NPR, and a Muslim, used to think “law” and “due process” protected people who have “nothing to hide.” Then she was detained for six hours with several friends and family members returning from Canada over the Labor Day Weekend. In a discomfiting but enlightening piece for OTM, Abdurrahman described what it was like to held by border patrol agents who won’t tell you why you are being held, and what it says about transparency, or lack thereof, at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
A new campaign to boycott Al Jazeera advertisers
David Caton, head of the Florida Family Association, is organizing a boycott of companies that advertise on Al Jazeera America, the month-old news operation owned by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera. Caton may be a one-man band, but in 2011 he persuaded Lowe’s to pull advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim.
Field trip canceled after parents complain
Students in the Honors World Studies class at Hendersonville High School in the suburbs of Nashville will no longer make annual field trips to a local mosque and Hindu temple after a parent complained that the class was promoting Islam.