Moozweek: A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam in America and abroad.
Michigan GOP urged to condemn committee member
Muslim and Arab groups are calling on Michigan Republicans to condemn Republican National Committee member David Agema for posting on his Facebook page an old and well-known anonymous email that lauds Catholics and criticizes Muslims.
“Have you ever been to a Muslim hospital? Have you heard a Muslim orchestra? Have you seen a Muslim band march in a parade? Have you witnessed a Muslim charity? Have you seen Muslims shaking hands with a Muslim Girl Scouts? Have you seen a Muslim Candy striper? Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?,” posted Agema. Critics say the former state legislator has a history of making Islamophobic comments. He also wrote anti-Shariah law legislation.
A dearth of Muslim villains?
U.S. Senate candidate Chris McDaniel thinks there aren’t enough Muslim villains on television. According to the Dark Horse Mississippi blog and Mother Jones, back in 2006, when McDaniel was host of Right Side Radio, a syndicated program, he said: “There’s one person that cannot be a villain in Hollywood, ever,”
“The Muslims,” his co-host replies.
“Yeah, isn’t that neat,” Mr. McDaniel answers before complaining that Hollywood is always going after Russian white guys.
McDaniel might want to pick-up a copy of Jack Shaheen’s book, Reel Bad Arabs, which catalogs and describes a couple of hundred movies in which Muslims and Arabs have been cast as villains.
Hate crime charges
A 50-year-old Seattle man faces hate crime charges after he allegedly verbally assaulted two Saudi Arabian men who go to college in the area, and then punched one of them in the chest. The bus driver called police, who made the arrest.
And in Tulsa, another man faces hate crime charges for attacking a woman in a parking lot. The woman was as described as having a thick Middle Eastern accent and wearing a headscarf. Stuart D. Manning allegedly called the woman a “Muslim b—-” before punching her in the forehead and sticking a knife in her car tire.
Shooter pleads guilty
Joshua Allen Casey pleaded guilty in a South Carolina Court this week to shooting his gun towards a cluster of homes known as Islamville, in the town of York. Casey said he has no problem with his Muslim neighbors, and wants to put the incident behind him. The African American Muslim community was founded some 30 years ago.
Muslims fighting extremism
While Al Qaeda is reemerging in Syria and Iraq and America’s pullout from Afghanistan has some worried that the Taliban will take over that country, several news stories this week showed Muslims fighting back against extremism, often in creative ways.
In Syria, the New York Times reported that Syrian rebels have turned against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, an extremist group linked to Al Qaeda. Human rights groups and media reports allege that ISIS is behind the executions of hundreds of Syrian civilians. In areas under their control, ISIS and other extremists groups are imposing restrictions on women. According to Human Rights Watch, these groups have prohibited jeans and make-up, mandated headscarves and abayas. They forbid women from going out in public alone.
In Afghanistan, the mainly Tajik residents of the Panjshir Valley said they would be ready to take on the Taliban, once most U.S. troops withdraw from the country at the end of this year. “We can fight the Taliban if they want to come back,” a local police officer told The New York Times, reminding about the region’s role in ousting the Taliban from power in 2001. “We all know what is possible in Afghanistan.”
Afghans are also defying the Taliban by restoring relics. In 2001, the Taliban smashed hundreds of artifacts in the National Museum of Afghanistan that bore a human or animal likeness. In all, the museum had lost roughly 70 percent of its collection. But about 300 of the 2,500 pieces smashed by the Taliban have been “painstakingly” restored.
Seeds of genocide
A United Nations official is warning that the “seeds of genocide” are being planted in the Central African Republic, where the rebel Muslim group Seleka overthrew the government only to be overthrown by Christian militias, that retaliated with its own killing campaign.
“It has all the elements that we have seen elsewhere, in places like Rwanda and Bosnia,” said John Ging, director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “The elements are there, the seeds are there, for a genocide.”
Female rulers compete in Bangladesh
For most of the last 20 years, the world’s third-largest Muslim country, Bangladesh, with about 160 million people, has been ruled by one of two women: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, or the former prime minister and opposition leader now under house arrest, Begum Khaleda Zia. The two rivals have long-competed against each other, but their appetites for power could be driving the country towards the type of instability that terrorists prey on.
Golden Globe Winner Amy Poehler shared my RNS story about the exhibit of Middle Eastern photographers, She Who Tells a Story, on her Smart Girls Facebook page. Miss Poehler also shared this about the plight of women Syria, and this about an opera about Mukhtar Mai, and this about a teenage Muslim girl scientist, Zarin Rahman, who did a study on the effect of staring at computer and TV screens in sleep for teens.
Iranian film festival
U.S.-Iranian relations have enjoyed a thaw in recent months, but before that, it was usually culture that did the diplomacy between the two peoples. Culture still plays an important role in humanizing people, and the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will be making its contribution by hosting the annual Boston Festival of Films from Iran from January 17-24. Can’t get to Boston? You can still see another acclaimed Iranian film, “The Past,” by Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, which is playing in Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and several other U.S. cities.
MLK Day hip-hop show and disclaimer
If you’ll be in New York City on Martin Luther King Day, you may want to stop by S.O.B.’s to hear Talib Kweli, a.k.a. The Prince of Brooklyn. He also performed with Mos Def (a.k.a. Yasin Bey) as the duo Black Star. Kweli is not Muslim, according to his twitter account. “I am not Muslim, but I recognize western demonization of a beautiful way of life. Islam doesn’t oppress women, men do.”