MOOZWEEK:  A weekly compilation of news about Muslims in the U.S. and abroad:

Kenyan man saves American lives

Among the stories of heroism to emerge from Al Shabab’s siege last month of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi involves the son of a former Kenyan security minister who rushed to the scene armed with a pistol to help save a North Carolina family.

“I think I did what any Kenyan in my situation would have done to save lives,” Abdul Haji told The Telegraph in a gripping account. Haji said he drew courage from the bravery of 4-year-old Portia Walton, who was captured by Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic running towards Haji’s outstretched hand. Even the New York Post acknowledged the poignancy of the image, with the headline, “US girl ran to Muslim hero in Kenya mall.”

“I think I owe Mr. Haji a hug or two,” Portia’s mom Katherine said.

Interestingly, some people weren’t interested in Mr. Haji’s religion, but in his gun.

Does learning Arabic lead to indoctrination?

Learning Arabic may set you on the slippery slope to Islamic indoctrination. That’s the worry of some parents in Daphne, Ala., where Daphne High School has replaced its French language course with Arabic. “Arabic leads right into the Muslim teaching, and that is where the danger is and that is what I am absolutely against,” said one resident with grandchildren at the school. Daphne High School also happens to be alma mater of Omar Hammami, the American-born terrorist reportedly killed a few weeks ago in Somalia by his former Al Shabab cohorts.  

Muslims sue Sears for firings

In Rockaway Township, N.J., two former Sears employees are suing the store for discrimination, alleging they were fired in August because they are Muslim. Shams Uddin, who had worked at the store since 2008, and Samiha Mitwally, who had worked at Sears since 2002, said they had spotless records, while the lawyer suspects a new manager is to blame.

Anti-Islamic remarks earn Va. Beach councilman reprimand

Virginia Beach city councilman Bill DeSteph earned a reprimand from the city’s Human Rights Commission for anti-Islamic comments he made at a city council meeting on whether to grant the Crescent Community Center Corp. a permit to build the city’s first mosque.

“We deplore the unfounded accusations of terrorist ties made against Virginia Beach citizens of the Muslim faith,” the Human Rights Commission said in a letter to the mayor and city council. DeSteph was the lone dissenter in the council’s vote to approve the permit.

NYC mayoral candidate supports surveillance of Muslims

New York City Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota told Buzzfeed that he supports the NYPD’s warrantless surveillance of mosques and Muslim businesses and organizations because, in his view, it’s not really spying; it’s observation.

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked Lhota, who served as Rudolph Guiliani’s deputy mayor,  for a meeting. Several other candidates objected to controversial program, first revealed by news reports in 2011.

But as New York Magazine reported last month, while Democratic candidates have expressed discomfort with the program, few have come out explicitly against it.

Democratic voters expecting their new mayor to take a bite out of the anti-terror tactics they find troublesome might be setting themselves up for disappointment.

MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota meets with transit workers (2012).

MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota meets with transit workers (2012). Photo courtesy MTA Photos via Flickr

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

Texas Tea Party comments criticized

The San Angelo (Texas) Tea Party is distancing itself from alleged comments made by one of its former presidents and another activist at a Sept. 10 local meeting on radical Islam. Terry M. Campbell reportedly told the 40 people in the audience, “There are four Muslim families in San Angelo…and that’s four too many.” When asked whether there was such a thing as a moderate Muslim, guest speaker Dorrie O’Brien, author of “500 + Islamic Words You Should Know,” said she couldn’t answer the question.

Campbell denied making the comments, but it was still too much for chapter President Nathan Boates and his VP Lyleanne McClellan-Thee. They criticized the speakers for failing to distinguish between radical Muslims and mainstream Muslims.

“We obviously don’t think that they should all be lumped together,” McClellan-Thee said.

Future looks scary to Afghan women

With U.S. and NATO troops getting ready to leave Afghanistan, many women in the worn-torn country fear the Taliban will try to reassert its misogynistic interpretation of Islam, writes journalist Razeshta Sethna in, one of Pakistan’s best known English news outlets. But a bleak future can be avoided, she says.

Strife between Egyptian Muslims and Christians falls as nationalism rises

In Egypt, strife between majority Muslims and minority Christians has been subdued by nationalism, reports RNS correspondent Monique El-Faizy. Not since 1919, when Egyptians protested British colonial rule, has Egyptian nationalism been so strong, El-Faizy observes. Today, however, the unifying force is revulsion for the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Egyptian nationalism is the broad umbrella under which a coalition of anti-Brotherhood forces has assembled, but there is a difference between today’s events and those of the early 20th century. Back then, the threat was external; now it comes from within Egypt and consists of Islamist internationalism.”

Egyptian flag

The Egyptian flag waving in Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt (Jan. 2011). Photo courtesy sowar online via Shutterstock

Mostly-Muslim Bangladesh punishes politician for crimes against Hindus

A court in Bangladesh, one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, sentenced an Islamist member of Parliament, Salahuddin Chowdhurry, to death for genocide and other crimes committed against Hindus during the country’s 1971 war for independence from Pakistan, reports RNS correspondent Richard S. Ehrlich. Between 500,000 and three million people, mostly in Bangladesh, died in the war, which lasted under a year.

A young girl holds a flag during the 40th Celebration of Bangladesh Independence.

A young girl holds a flag during the 40th Celebration of Bangladesh Independence. Photo courtesy Shumona Sharna via Flickr

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

British Muslim fights for women, against bigots

As Britain’s first chief prosecutor who is Muslim, Nazir Afzal deals with British bigots who tell him to go back where he came from (Birmingham), and Muslim misogynists who tell him not to air dirty laundry. But Mr. Afzal, as the New York Times pointed out in worthwhile profile, keeps fighting to stop forced marriages and any violence against women, no matter the color of the attackers.

Progressive Muslim cafe

Need caffeine with your peace, love and understanding? Check out Cafe Rumi, a coffee shop and culture spot to be opened by Muslims for Progressive Values on October 8. MPV supports LGBT-friendly mosques, female imams, and an inclusive brand of Islam.  Cafe Rumi will be located on 5998 West Pico Blvd. in LA.


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