Moozweek: A weekly roundup of news about Muslims and Islam in America and abroad.
Muslim figure skater a Sochi hopeful
Muslim American kids looking for sports heroes usually turn to basketball, football, and soccer. Now they can add figure skating to the list, thanks to Yasmin Siraj, a 17-year-old from Brookline, Mass., who is competing this weekend for a spot on the U.S. Women’s Figure Skating Team that will compete in next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. The daughter of an Iranian mother and Saudi Arabian father, Siraj is a proud Bostonian. She is also an accomplished pianist who has performed at Carnegie Hall, loves Persian food, the film Mean Girls, and has been to so many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs she knows the Hebrew service. Did we mention, she’s going to Harvard in the fall?
Let’s hope Siraj is the best known Muslim in Sochi, and not these guys.
Fox Islamophobia in 2013
Media Matters has a short video reviewing some of the Islamophibic things Fox’s news personnel have said in 2013. These are just some highlights. The video doesn’t include the embarrassing interview with Reza Aslan, or the episode asserting that the U.S. Constitution shouldn’t apply to Muslims.
Tulsa man punches woman with headscarf, slashes tire
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to press hate crime charges against Stuart D. Manning of Tulsa after he punched a woman in a parking lot, called her a “Muslim bitch,” and slashed one of her car tires’ with a knife. The woman is reportedly Lebanese Christian. Manning was reportedly upset that the woman had parked too close to his car, but said he was too drunk to remember the incident. An Oklahoma City mosque was also vandalized last year, and Oklahoma is one of seven states with ant-Shariah law legislation.
Apartment complex faces stiff penalty for discrimination
The Department of Justice has levied $317,000 in penalties against Stonebridge at Bear Creek Apartments in Euless, Texas. Four years ago, two former leasing agents spoke up against the owners, who they alleged were discriminating against Muslims and people of South Asian descent.
Colbert takes on Al Jazeera America anchor
Stephen Colbert didn’t throw any softballs at Al Jazeera America anchorman John Seigenthaler, who was Colbert’s show earlier this week. “When did you become radicalized? What’s your angle? And how will you stop viewers from being scared of the Al Jazeera symbol, which looks like exploding Arabic?” It’s a funny five minutes.
Muslim women helping Philly seniors
Fatimah Melvina Ali of Philadelphia is 83, but she’s not slowing up. Ali is known to her friends as “the 24-hour sister” because she’s always on call. Twenty-four years ago, she helped co-found the Jewels of Islam, an organization of 120 Muslim women who help the elderly of any faith with home-cooked meals and visits to relieve isolation and depression.
“At the end of the day, I ask myself, ‘what did you do?’” They operate out of Masjidullah, an inner city mosque that honors faith through service.
U.S. and Iran find a common enemy
The New York Times had an interesting story this week about how the U.S. and Iran may be squaring off over Tehran’s nuclear program, but are finding common ground in the need to fight a resurgence in Sunni extremism in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Common interests between the two countries has been discussed before. Matthew Kroenig of Georgetown University, however, argues in Foreign Affairs that there is still plenty of time to attack Iran.
Syrian situation worsens
The situation in Syria continues to grow worse, with rebel forces having to fight more of their battles against Al Qauda connected groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (aka the Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant). The number of refugees is staggering, according to the UNHCR in this very helpful graphic. The New York Times reports that extremist groups are now looking to recruit Americans who have come to Syria, so that they can train them to conduct terrorist acts in the United States.
On Monday January 13, people in New York City will have a chance to help Syria and listen to beautiful music, thanks to Music For Life International, a group that puts on top-shelf concerts at Carnegie Hall for people in trouble spots. Leonard Bernstein conducted the first in 1987. This Monday’s concert is for the children of Syria, and will feature works by Shostakovich.
Refugee children in danger of being trafficked
Rohyngya refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar often face more danger when they seek refuge in Thailand. According to Human Rights Watch, many refugee children are sent to “trafficking camps” where they are held for ransom or sold into forced labor. U.S. House Resolution 418, which would pressure Myanmar to stop the abuses, doesn’t have enough votes. Physicians for Human Rights is one group supporting the bill. It is opposed by anti-Muslim activists.
New book recalls Bosnian conflict
Kenan Trebincevic, a talented young Bosnian-American writer, has co-authored a book, “The Bosnia List,” with Susan Shapiro, recounting his return with his senior citizen father to the country he fled amid war when he was 11. According to this short review, Trebincevic took the journey reluctantly, but it proved transformative, according to this Publishers Weekly review. “The great instruction of this important work, is the author’s moral transformation that helped him replace hate with grace, if not forgiveness.”
A new calendar features Islamohunks
Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi who wrote “Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women,” have released their “Hot Muslim Men of 2014″ pinup calendar. The calendar includes former Mr. Texas, Rehan Jelali (Mr. January), now a trainer to stars like Ben Affleck; comedian Hasan Minhaj (Mr. March), host of “Failosophy, new MTV news show; and Sal Khan (Mr. August), founder of Khan Academy, a website that offers thousands of free educational courses to the masses. Mattu and Maznavi like to call them Ji-hotties.
The Islamic Monthly
Still need more to read? Then check out the newest issue of The Islamic Monthly, which features a podcast by the widow of Ibrahim Todashev, and articles about Washington D.C.’s diplomat mosque, how “terrorist” is becoming an ethnic slur, and how getting killed by a drone has become a patriotic duty in Pakistan.