Moozweek: A weekly round-up of news about Muslims and Islam in America and abroad.

Moroccan skier vies for Sochi gold

Could a Moroccan win skiing gold at Sochi? Adam Lamhamedi, 18, may be that person. Born to a Moroccan father and Canadian mother in Montreal, Lamhamedi won Alpine Skiing Super G gold at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck. Lamhamedi trains with the Canadian team but has always wanted to race for Morocco. “I wanted to prove Moroccans can ski well, and today I proved it,” he told Boxscore News after winning at Innsbruck.

Video courtesy of Youth Olympic Games via YouTube

Several other Muslim-majority countries have sent athletes to Sochi, including Albania, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Sochi’s Muslims, past and present

Sochi once had a significant population of Muslims until Czarist forces pushed them out at the end of the Caucasian War in the 1860s, reports Tim Murphy in a fascinating article in Mother Jones. Sochi’s last mosque shuttered in the 1930′s. But many Caucus Muslims have come to Sochi in the last several years to help build the Olympic facilities, increasing the number of Muslims there to about 20,000. Despite many promises to build a new mosque, it hasn’t happened.  Murphy suggests more than money and logistics are behind the inaction.

Did the age of modern genocide begin in Sochi? That’s the uncomfortable question and title of an article by Joshua Keating of Slate. Keating explores the Circassian Genocide of the 1860s, as well as a largely unknown protest against Sochi because of the genocide. According to historians, Russian forces massacred and expelled the Circassians from the region, herding the survivors to Sochi where in 1864 they were either killed or put on ships bound for Turkey. “You’ll be skiing on mass graves,” warned one anti-Sochi group.

Olympic fire of Winter Olympic Games Sochi 2014 in Rostov-on-Don, on January 22, 2014.

Olympic fire of Winter Olympic Games Sochi 2014 in Rostov-on-Don, on January 22, 2014. Mikhail Kolesnikov / Shutterstock.com">Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Muslims in commercials, the sequel.

Barely two weeks’s after Best Buy rolled out a pioneering commercial featuring a likable employee named Mustafa, Coca-Cola made waves with a commercial during the Super Bowl that featured a series of clips of multi-ethnic Americans, including a shot of three hijabis running up to a food cart, followed by a second clip of a young woman in a blue hijab, to the soundtrack of a multi-lingual rendition of America the Beautiful.  One-term congressman and noted Islamophobe Allen West said the commercial was “disturbing” and a sign that America was on the road to “perdition.”

But most of the response was positive. “I almost had tears in eyes,” wrote “minaraelrahman” at the blog Hijabi Life. “(F)or the first time, I felt like a commercial was able to capture me as I am: an American.”

Video courtesy of Coca-Cola via YouTube

Convert portraits

Coke and Best Buy aren’t the only folks exploring what it is to be American. Photographer Claire Becket takes a shot with a gripping series of photos of American Muslim converts.

Muslim American experiences

Perhaps the dudes of Alpha Lambda Mu, with their promises to pray more and study more of the Quran, aren’t the first to come to mind when one hears “fraternity,” but they say fraternal ideals of “loyalty, sincerity, and brotherly forgiveness” are also Islamic ideals to be taken seriously, according to this New York Times article about the University of California, San Diego chapter, the second chapter in the nation. Moozweek mentioned the first chapter, at the University of Texas-Dallas, last September.

What’s it like to have to go to the school library when everyone else is in sex ed class, or to be told by your parents you can’t go to the prom, but then break their rule? Muslim American writer Haroon Moghul talks about these and other dilemmas in a four-minute NPR piece, “Growing Up Muslim In Massachusetts.” Or, you can read his contribution to “Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Sex, Love, and Intimacy.”

 "Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy" book cover courtesy of Beacon Press.

“Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy” book cover courtesy of Beacon Press.


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

California mosque vandalized again

A mosque in Manteca, Calif. has been vandalized for a second time in four months. Vandals spray-painted vulgarities on mosque property, and left strips of raw bacon strewn in the parking lot. The attack is being considered a hate crime. A community spokesman said the mosque would hold an open house this Sunday for anyone who may want to come and learn about the mosque and the people who worship there.

Houston Muslims help fire victim

When an insurance company denied Annie Brown her claim after her East Houston home burned down, and also told her she would need to spend $2,000 of her own money to clean it up, a city councilman and the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations came up with volunteers and garbage bags, and did the job themselves.

Unspeakable suffering of Syrian children

A new UN report has found that both the Assad regime in Syria and the collection of rebel groups trying to topple it, have killed, maimed, tortured and sexually assaulted children, as well as forced them to fight in the raging civil war.

The majority of the half million Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban areas like Ramtha. Although they have been welcomed by Jordanian communities, many refugees are poor and unable to obtain legal jobs. The UK is helping to meet the needs urban refugees as well as those in camps.

The majority of the half million Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban areas like Ramtha. Although they have been welcomed by Jordanian communities, many refugees are poor and unable to obtain legal jobs. The UK is helping to meet the needs urban refugees as well as those in camps. Photo courtesy of DFID - UK Department for International Development, via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Human Rights Watch urges Tunisia to free prisoners

Now that Tunisia has a new democratic constitution, Human Rights Watch is urging the country’s leaders to free Jaber Mejri, a blogger jailed for mocking Islam, and other prisoners whose jailing violate international human rights law. “Tunisia’s new constitution has bold protections for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience,” said Eric Goldstein, the group’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. “Mejri’s sentence violates his freedom of speech.”

Sunni-Shiite violence soars in Pakistan

In Pakistan, Sunni extremists have escalated attacks against the country’s Shiite minority, while some Shiite’s have retaliated. It’s a sad and complex history of violence that Naveed Ahmad explains for RNS.

Dallas gets major Islamic art collection

While Texas may be home to some of the best art museums in the country, it has lagged in Islamic art. That is changing now that the Dallas Museum of Art has signed an agreement to have custody for 15 years of “The Keir Collection,” a trove of 2,000 pieces, such as ceramics, centuries old manuscripts, textiles, and carpets. A New York Times story notes that the Dallas deal reflects a dramatic rise of Islamic art in America, but often because war, resources, and other problems make it hard for museums in Muslim-majority countries to take responsibility for such art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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