Moozweek: A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam in America and abroad.
Policeman keeps his job
Officer Peter Burns of the Pleasantville, N.Y., Police Department will have to undergo a psychological evaluation but gets to keep his $98,000-per year job after posting a racist and vulgar anti-Obama rant on Facebook.
“The fact that he (Obama) is still alive bewilders me,” Burns wrote on a Facebook page he ran under the name “Coon Trapper.” “Go die in a shallow grave you Muslim commie.” Burns also incurred a 60-day suspension without pay or benefits, lost 25 days of vacation, and must take a sensitivity program.
As Raw Story noted, racism by police is not uncommon.
Murfreesboro cemetery scare
U.S. House Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., worries the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has received permission to build a cemetery, and believes the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act is to blame. DesJarlais, a physician and anti-abortion advocate who advised a patient with whom he had affair to get abortion, wrote on his Facebook page: “There is a difference between legislation that would protect our religious freedoms, and legislation that would allow for the circumvention of laws that other organizations comply with on a daily basis.”
If the Murfreesboro mosque sounds familiar, its because its the same mosque that opened in 2012 after overcoming strong, some say vitriolic, opposition that still exists today. In fact, opponents haven’t given up, and are filing to have their case against the mosque heard at the Supreme Court.
New and old mosques
There was substantially less fanfare in Iowa, where the Waterloo City Council approved a request from the local Bosnian Muslim community to build a new mosque, cemetery, and soccer field. Iowa is also home to the oldest mosque in America, and the town of Elkader was named after a 19th century Algerian war hero. The only question is whether the Bosnians, mostly refugees from the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, will spend more time in the mosque or on the soccer field.
In Bridgewater, N.J., town officials heard arguments for and against the AlFalah Center. Muslim leaders there want to convert a former catering facility into a mosque, daycare and community center. In San Francisco, city officials closed down a mosque cited for several serious safety hazards, but are working with Muslim leaders to let them return and save the building, which has been approved for designation as a historic site.
Answers for Michigan Islamophobe
Earlier this month, Michigan Republican leader Dave Agema made news for posting an anti-Muslim rant that asks questions such as, ‘Have you ever heard of a Muslim marching band or Muslims serving the sick?’ Nathan Lean, a researcher at Georgetown University, took time to answer the rant.
Muslims in Alaska
While Muslims can be found almost anywhere in America, it seems it’d be harder in Alaska. That’s why the appearance of three Middle-Eastern Muslim exchange students at the University of Alaska Southeast Rec Center was such a big deal. According to a report in the Juneau Empire, the program, funded by the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program, built bridges between two places that are very far apart. The few Muslims that live in Alaska are building the state’s first mosque.
Chasing Muslim-American dollars
While analysts and reporters have studied and written abput the spending power of Muslim Americans, many American companies still don’t know how to tap into that wealth. That’s left an opportunity for Melanie El Turk, founder of online fashion retailer Haute Hijab, and many other Muslim Americans to tap into their-inner-entrepreneurs and start their own companies, reports WBEZ Radio in Chicago.
Tunisians adopt constitution
The Tunisian parliament overwhelmingly adopted a new constitution, notable for being one of the most progressive in the Muslim world, and for receiving support from both religious and secular members of Parliament. Tunisia’s transition to democracy offers hope that Egypt and Libya, where things have not been so smooth, can accomplish the same, but, analysts warn, final success depends on whether the politicians and people can maintain the good will and cool heads that have gotten them this far. And some regional commentators say Tunisians don’t want the most progressive constitution in the Arab world.
In Egypt, the trial of ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood resumed. Morsi, who is accused of orchestrating a 2011 prison break, was defiant, but powerless inside a glass cage.
Boko Haram strikes again
The Islamic extremist group Boko Haram struck twice this week, killing dozens of civilians in separate attacks against a church and marketplace. The Nigerian government recently created an elite military squad, partly funded by U.S. aid, that will focus on Boko Haram, but the latest massacres have Nigerians demanding new strategies, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
Magazine illustration controversy
The British magazine The Spectator is under fire for a cover depicting two hook-nosed, bearded Middle Eastern men, one wearing a white keffiyeh, representing Saudi Arabia, and the other a black turban, representing Iran. The cartoon-like illustration accompanies a story, “Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East’s 30 year war.” Many critics charged the magazine with racism.
Halal certifiers have certified one of Japan’s best-known whaling ships, the Nisshin Maru. The world’s only factory ship received the designation after the owners decided to switch to an alcohol-free hand cleaner for whale meat handlers on board. Still, should a ship mired in so much controversy receive a halal designation?