MOOZWEEK: A weekly compilation of news about Muslims in the U.S. and abroad.
Muslim praise for Pope Francis
Looking for a model Muslim? Look at Pope Francis. That’s the assessment that Mohamad Bashar Arafat, president of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland, gave to Catholic News Service this week. Arafat was visiting the Vatican as part of a U.S. State Department speakers program. In the interview, Arafat said Pope Francis was “motivated by love and compassion,” and praised his efforts promoting world peace, ending conflicts, and his support for migrants.
Malala Yousafzai’s uncommon grace
Among the names nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced today, was Malala Yousafzai, the teenage advocate for girls’ education who was shot in the head in Pakistan by Taliban assassins, almost exactly one year ago. She didn’t win, but does come away with the honor of being the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee ever. And on Thursday, she was awarded the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. Earlier in the week, she appeared on The Daily Show, showing amazing grace, maturity and wisdom.
Making a case that Yousafzai deserves a Nobel, Adil Najam, a Pakistani Nobel prize winner himself who has taught at Tufts and Boston University, explains that it is not just for her trauma, but for her convictions.
Can she give Muslims a good name the way the Taliban give Muslims a bad name?
Drones, Muslims, and U.S. foreign policy
The New York Review of Books has a thorough and enlightening review of a new book about Islamic terrorism and U.S. foreign policy by Akbar Ahmed, a well known Islamic studies expert at American University and Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom. Ahmed argues that in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, drones have morphed America’s war against radical Islam into a war against tribal Islam. The result is an appetite for revenge. This can be averted, Ahmed believes, not with violence, but by talking with the tribes who extremists are trying to win over.
Pakistanis protest church bombing
Some 200-300 Pakistani Muslims and Christians formed a human chain around St. Anthony’s Church in the Pakistani city of Lahore to protest the suicide attacks that killed some 100 people at All Saints Church in Peshawar on Sept. 22. They held signs that read “One Nation, One Blood” and “No More Dialogue, Only Action,” and called for an end to the terrorist attacks that have ravaged the country of 180 million people. Muslim and Christian protestors also formed a human chain around a church in Karachi on Sept. 30.
Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, visits Rick Warren
Pastor Rick Warren tweeted recently that Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens, dropped by to visit with him while he was working on a sermon. That bothers the folks over at Jihad Watch, which seems to be the only place that noticed. They accuse Islam of being a radical Muslim, and prove it with some statements he made in the 1980’s. Newsflash: Islam mellowed long ago, which is probably why the Jihad Watch article doesn’t have any crazy statements from him after 1989.
Back in 2009, Warren and Islam spoke together, and hugged at a Islamic Society of North America convention.
Thomas Jefferson’s Quran
Have doubts about the Founding Fathers tolerating Muslims? You may want to pick up “Thomas Jefferson’s Quran: Islam and the Founders,” a new book by Denise A. Spellberg, an Islamic history specialist at the University of Texas. Or you can start with Spellberg’s recent essay in Salon, where she shows in fascinating historical detail how the Founding Fathers argued that Muslims, along with Jews, pagans and other religious minorities, should have the same freedoms as Christians (provided they were white and male).
Morsi’s upcoming trial
Egypt’s military leaders have set Nov. 4 as the trial date for Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who they ousted from the presidency in a July 3 coup. He is now charged with inciting killings of opponents while in office. Since the coup, Muslim Brotherhood protesters and other Morsi supporters have clashed regularly with police, leaving hundreds of people dead. The courthouse could become a flashpoint.
Tunisians discontent with government
A poll about Tunisia released this week by the Arab American Institute, found a “deeply dissatisfied electorate and an extremely polarized society.” The poll of more than 3,000 people surveyed in August found that about two-thirds of Tunisians said their country was moving in the wrong direction, while three-quarters believed the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party was not fully committed to democracy. While that may sound a bit like what’s happening in Egypt, the Tunisians seem to be handling their differences better, with Ennahda and opponents agreeing this week on a caretaker government to shepherd the country until new elections.
Judge awards Muslim worker
A U.S. district court judge has ordered Sacramento-based American Patriot Security to pay $66,000 in back wages, court fees and other costs to Abdulkadir Omar, who alleged in a 2010 discrimination complaint that the company fired him from its office in Kent, Wash., because he refused to shave his beard. The case is the latest in which Muslims have successfully sued charging employment discrimination.
Al Jazeera ratings low
The latest Nielsen ratings found that Al Jazeera America’s News Live program handily beat CNBC’s Mad Money last Friday. Unfortunately for Al Jazeera America, that seemed to be the only good ratings news, as many of the network’s programs scored just single digits and often zeros in the important 25-59 demographic, which translates into just a few thousand viewers. Part of the problem, as media reporter Andrew Kirell pointed out, is that Al Jazeera America has less than half the distribution of CNN, FOX, MSNBC and other competitors.
Fox falls for a fake story
Did you hear the one about President Obama wanting to fund a Muslim museum? So did Fox News, except they didn’t know it was fake.