Moozweek: A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam in America and abroad.
Hijabi travel hassles and secret court rulings
Traveling over the holidays can be hard. Traveling with a hijab, anytime, can even be harder. Ask hijabi Amira Jaradat, who documents her “airport adventures” at xojane.com, a women’s website. “If people look at you and think, ‘Please don’t let her be on my plane,’ you’re gonna have a bad time.”
Jaradat adds that being white doesn’t help, but acknowledges that hijabis of color have it even worse. Rahinah Ibrahim, a 48-year-old Malaysian national who was stopped and searched in 2005 at San Francisco International Airport when she was a doctoral student at Stanford, knows that too well. Now a professor in Malaysia, Ibrahim supposes she was placed on a no-fly list, and is suing the federal government. The scary part, however, is that because so much of the testimony was deemed classified and given in secret, the judge’s ruling, expected soon, may never be made public.
Ibrahim’s case caught the attention of the New York Times editorial board, which penned a scathing indictment of the watch lists.
Award to NYPD’s Kelly divides Muslims
It’s no secret that many Muslim New Yorkers distrust the NYPD and its outgoing Commissioner Raymond Kelly, following revelations that it set-up an extensive spying program targeting Muslims. That’s why many Muslims were caught by surprise when the Muslim Advisory Council, a group of 10 Muslim leaders created in 2012, presented Kelly with a plaque “in recognition of his engagement with the city’s community,” as well as a “transition document” that described the NYPD’s Muslim outreach efforts as a “model” for other cities to emulate, including efforts to recruit Muslim officers. That didn’t go over well with many Muslim American groups, such as the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called the award a “cheap public relations stunt.” And one former council member, Dr. Ahmed Jaber, who resigned from the council after the spying program was revealed, told The HuffingtonPost the expectations he had for improving Muslim-NYPD relations were never close to being realized.
While the NYPD issued a press release about the accolade, it kept quiet about the transition document’s litany of complaints against NYPD missteps, including designating mosques as terror organizations and showing counter-terrorism trainees a vehemently Islamophobic film, which included an appearance by Kelly.
Meanwhile, an interfaith group of religious leaders condemned the NYPD spying program.
More fake stories
The Islamophobic fiction just keeps coming. We recently noted fake Islamophobic stories about jihadis making puppy bombs and Muslim radicals throwing a woman out a window — both bogus. The newest story to demonize Muslims comes from ConservativeFrontline.com, which published a piece about President Obama launching a federally funded program to teach America’s school children about Islam.
“We have killed millions of Muslims overseas since the September 11th attacks,” Obama told a press conference in the story, which has gone viral, adding, “Learn about the Muslim community, the beauty of the Sunnah, and the magic of the Qur’an.”
For people who were fooled by the outlandishness of the story, Politifact sets the record straight.
Malala on Peacemakers list
Malala Yusufzai, the soft-spoken Pakistani teenager who did what scores of powerful Muslims couldn’t do, namely become a voice for Islam louder than the Taliban, is on a distinguished “Peacemakers, 2013″ list compiled by Nicholas Burns, the former State Department power-broker turned Harvard Kennedy School of Government international relations lecturer. Burns, who also writes many interesting columns on peace and diplomacy for The Boston Globe, said Yusufzai “continues to advance with a clear moral voice the rights of girls and women to education and dignity across the Muslim world.”
Also making the list were The Parent’s Circle Family Forum, an organization of more than 600 Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost a loved one in the long conflict and who are working for reconciliation. “Tempered by collective loss,” Burns writes, “this courageous group is a bright, if lonely, light in the bitter conflict afflicting the land holy to Christians, Muslims, and Jews.”
Speaking of Muslim girls’ education, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen were among the big names this week supporting Project G.E.M. (Girls’ Education Matters) at a fundraiser at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, Mass., which raised over $70,000. Since launching in 2010, the G.E.M. program has raised more than $400,000, built schools for girls in Pakistan and Somalia and helped more than 9,000 girls go to school.
Anti-Shiite terror continues
Sunni extremists have been targeting Shiites throughout the year, and years past, so why should the final weeks of 2013 be any different, especially when the targets are pilgrims heading to Karbala to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Muhammad. There is at least one story, however, of extraordinary bravery.
Muslims dominate Human Rights Watch’s top 10 stories
They don’t exactly make for light reading. but seven of the stories on a Top 10 story list by Human Rights Watch have to do with Muslims, and are well worth reading:
10: Syria: Brigade Fighting in Homs Implicated in Atrocities.
9: To Trap a Dictator — Chad’s Hissene Habre.
8: Egypt: Security Forces Used Excessive Lethal Force.
6: Burma: End “Ethnic Cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims.
5: Saudi Arabia: Halt Execution of Sri Lankan Migrant Worker.
4: Syria: Government Likely Culprit in Chemical Attack.
1: Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence.
Muslim convert tells his own story
Ohioan Michael Wolfe converted to Islam twenty-some years ago and has since spent his life telling Muslims’ stories to Americans — among the best are the film “Prince Among Slaves” and the book “Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith.” This week, Wolfe took some time to tell his story to the Strange Fruit podcast at WFPL in Louisville, where he was giving a talk about Christian figures in Islamic theology.
A Christmas special hosted by a Muslim
Do Muslims celebrate Christmas? Of course, says Citizen Khan, the title character played by British sitcom writer Adil Ray in his hit BBC comedy. Skeptical? Check out his Dec. 20 Christmas special, which as far as I know, is the first Christmas special hosted by a Muslim. ”The Christmas message of peace and love is one that we can all agree with, regardless of whether you are Muslim or one of the not-so-good religions,” Mr. Khan recently told The Guardian.