Moozweek: A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam in the U.S. and abroad
No-fly list takes another hit
A week after a federal judge in California ruled the government must tell a Malaysian woman if her name is on a no-fly list, a federal judge in Virginia is allowing a lawsuit to go forward that alleges the U.S. government violated the civil rights of Gulet Mohamed when it prevented him from boarding a flight from Kuwait to the U.S., where he lived.
Judge Anthony Trenga refused the government’s request to dismiss Mohamed’s case, writing in the 32-page ruling that “A No Fly List designation transforms a person into a second class citizen, or worse.”
Textbook tussles in Alabama, Florida
Anti-Islam activists in Alabama and Florida seeking changes to high school textbooks they allege have a pro-Muslim bias suffered two setbacks this week. After complaints were lodged against a Prentice Hall World History textbook by State Representative Ritch Workman, Citizens, for National Security, and the local chapter of ACT! for America, a Brevard County, (Fla.) committee found that the book did not favor Islam. It nonetheless issued a supplement with additional information about Islam.
A radioactive indictment
A federal grand jury in Albany indicted Glendon Scott Crawford of Galway, N.Y., for attempting to build a portable X-Ray device that shoots radioactive beams at Muslims, as well as N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Crawford’s partner, Eric Feight of Hudson, pleaded guilty, and will be sentenced May 22. He faces a maximum prison term of 15 years and a $250,000 dollar fine.
Murderer says wife was a bad Muslim
An Albany County (N.Y.) jury convicted Robert Williams, a convicted sex offender and a recent convert to Islam, of murdering his wife Sharene Wallace last March. According to Chief Assistant District Attorney David Rossi, Williams believed Wallace was cheating on him, and behaving improperly in front of the local Muslim community. In a videotape of the interview between a detective and Williams, the detective shows him a photo of Wallace and refers to her as a “Muslim woman.”
Williams responds: ”Muslim woman? If she was a Muslim woman none of this (expletive) would even exist.” Williams also took Wallace’s cell phone and text-messaged naked pictures of her to her contacts. He also added text messages. One text read: “I’m sorry everyone but I pretend like I’m a Muslim woman when in all reality I’m a (prostitute) and I represent Satan.”
Boston Muslims rally to block deportation of community activist
Boston-area Muslims are rallying to block the deportation of Siham Byah Jihad, who fled Morocco 16 years ago to escape an abusive arranged marriage, and settled in Massachusetts. Since then, according to supporters who have started a petition on her behalf, she has become involved in the local Muslim community, given birth to a son, Naseem, now four, and is studying to get a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Bunker Hill Community College.
But her visa has expired. When the immigration proceedings started, her work permit was revoked and she and Naseem now live in a shelter. Because she has been critical of the Moroccan government, Jihad worries she will be arrested if she is sent back to Morocco, but her biggest fear is being separated from her son.
Moroccan rape law modified
In Morocco, men can rape with a little less impunity. The Moroccan parliament voted unanimously Wednesday (Jan. 22) to remove a clause from a law on rape that allowed a man convicted of statutory rape to escape punishment if he marries his underage victim, according to The New York Times. However, the punishment for statutory rape amounts to a few years in prison and a small fine. The campaign to amend the law started almost two years ago when a 16-year-old Moroccan girl committed suicide after being forced to marry the man who raped her.
Kabul attack bridges Western-Afghan divide
Last week’s Taliban attack on a Kabul restaurant that killed 21 people, mostly Westerners, has been exploited by Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, but has also united Afghans and Westerners in Afghanistan, according to a New York Times report. Karzai has likened the suffering caused by the attack to the suffering caused by a NATO airstrike that killed Taliban fighters, but also some civilians. In the wake of the attack, many Afghans have visited the restaurant to lay flowers or offer condolences, while some 200 Afghans held a protest on Sunday against the attacks.
Muslims battling Al Qaida
While rebels in Syria stepped up their fight against the Al Qaida affiliated group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, this week the Iraqi government launched an offensive against ISIS, trying to dislodge the group from the important provincial capital of Ramadi. And just as U.S. troops paid and armed local Sunni tribesmen to help them defeat Al Qaida in 2007, the Iraqi government is employing the same strategy now.
Muslims making interesting music
Looking for a twist on Les Miserables? Check out the production by Fabrika, an Egyptian musical theater company, which is performed in colloquial Arabic. Fabrica, which will be performing Les Mis tonight (Friday, Jan. 24) in Boston, Sunday in New York, and Wednesday in Montpelier, Vt., has a mission of bringing innovative theater to Egypt, as well as advancing cross-cultural dialogue.
Carole King will be performing with several well-known and less-known artists Friday night in Los Angeles during MusiCares Person of the Year celebrations in her honor. Among them will be Ahmad El Haggar, an Egyptian oud player studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, who will accompany King on a traditional Egyptian number.
The Maldives has a long musical tradition, one interpreted beautifully by Ahmed Nasheed on his debut solo album Dhaalu Raa, which will be released in March. Nasheed sings in Dhivehl about local issues, but connects with anyone who likes sounds that are bluesy or funky. You can listen to tracks and learn more about Nasheed here.