Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha

Muslims in America celebrated Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, with many parents facing the usual tough question: Should they send their kids to school or celebrate the holiday at home? In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick delivered Eid greetings via YouTube, while in Anaheim, Calif., nearly 20,000 Muslims prayed in Angels Stadium. Muslims also celebrated around the world.

Muslims praying Eid al-Fitr services at the ISBCC. RNS photo by Omar Sacirbey

Muslims praying Eid al-Fitr services at the ISBCC. RNS photo by Omar Sacirbey

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And as RNS’s Richard Ehrlich reported, this holiday is giving way to new traditions.

CAIR taps Jewish filmmaker to lead Philly office

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has tapped Jacob Bender, a Jewish documentary filmmaker and interfaith activist, to be executive director of its office in Philadelphia. In an interview with RNS, Bender explained why he took the job, as well as why he thinks Fox News, along with some politicians, bloggers and the NYPD, is a source of Islamophobia.

“Fox News continues to be engaged in Muslim bashing in that they constantly give forum to some of the most vile Islamophobes around,” Bender said. Still, Bender is hopeful Islamophobia can be overcome. As the director and producer of Out of Cordoba, a documentary about Muslim-Jewish relations, he got to travel the country promoting his work, and found it buzzing with interfaith groups.

“These groups happened from the ground up, not because religious leaders told them to form,” said Bender. “These groups are proof of the inherent goodness in the American public, and show that when people talk, democracy works better.”

Fox’s gaffes, Muslims’ gain

Maybe all that anti-Muslim bigotry on Fox is supposed to fool us while the network secretly helps Muslims. First, it conducted an embarrassing interview with Reza Aslan  that propelled his book about Jesus to the top of the best seller lists. Now, another Fox gaffe — reporting a fake story about President Obama bankrolling a Muslim museum — has people emptying their wallets for the International Museum of Muslim Cultures in Mississippi. It’s heck of a museum whose important work includes preserving ancient manuscripts from Timbuktu.

Moroccans kiss-in supports kissing teenagers

A few dozen Moroccans took part in a “kiss-in” last weekend to support three teenagers who were arrested last week for violating the country’s public decency laws after a picture of two of them kissing was posted on Facebook. The trial has been adjourned until November 22.

Historian reminds New Englanders of their history

Historian Robert Azzi of Exeter, N.H., has long been presenting fascinating facts about Muslims in colonial America. But it was a modern-day case of vandalism against a local mosque  — and the failure of locals to condemn the attacks — that prompted him to write this article in the local Portsmouth Herald, excoriating his fellow New Hampshire citizens and reminding them of Muslims’ role in early America.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Matthew Harris Jouett. RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Feds drop charges against businessman

Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a former Portland, Ore. businessman of Eritrean descent, who they accused of a plot to secretly funnel money to the United Arab Emirates. In May, Yonas Fikre sued the FBI, claiming he was tortured in the United Arab Emirates at the behest of the FBI.

Virginia newspaper pegs councilman to Islamophobes

A Virginia Beach city councilman running to represent the city in the state legislature has been linked to ACT! for America, described as an anti-Islamic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Bill DeSteph, the only city council member to vote against the building of the city’s first mosque, reportedly received a PowerPoint presentation and other anti-Islamic material from ACT’s local chapter.

Muslim-only Allah

Muslims, Jews, and Christians have used the word Allah for centuries. Nevertheless, a court in Malaysia has ruled that non-Muslims may not use the word Allah, which means God in Arabic. Many Muslims are embarrassed at the court’s decision.

Bosnian Bliss

News from Bosnia, where Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs remain largely divided after the country’s 1992-1995 war, is seldom good. But on Tuesday, the tiny Balkan nation of 3.8 million people  enjoyed its greatest night in years when the men’s national soccer team qualified for its first World Cup.

With the country still struggling to recover from the war, a multi-ethnic team made-up of several refugees is a feel good story that made former Bosnia correspondent Christiane Amanpour smile. And, they play some beautiful soccer.

Muslims commemorate genocide in Srebrenica

Prayer during the 2009 Srebrenica genocide commemoration. Photo courtesy The Advocacy Project via Flickr

Tickets to Bosnia

While the Bosnian soccer team will be booking tickets to Brazil, you might consider booking tickets to Bosnia, specifically the capital Sarajevo. The charming but once besieged city has recovered its creative energy, according to an encouraging and interesting article, “36 Hours in Sarajevo,” in the New York Times Travel section.

“In 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capital went from a beacon of diversity, with Yugoslav Muslims, Christians and Jews worshiping within feet of one other, to the site of a nearly four-year siege claiming more than 11,000 lives,” writes author Alex Crevar. “But much has changed over the last decade or so. The creative spirit that Sarajevans fought to preserve is very much in evidence these days.”

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