America rejects Arabs even at memorials


RAY HANANIA

Like all Americans this week, I paused to commemorate the tragic violence that took place at the end of the Boston Marathon last year on April 15 killing three and injuring 263 more.

But I was disappointed that the one-year commemoration in Boston of the terrorist killings reflected the same kind of selfish commemoration that has cloaked many past acts of violence. Muslims and Arabs were excluded, as if we were not Americans.

I can tell you upfront that I am an American. I am insulted that people in the US continue to stereotype their anger to direct their hatred against people who are Arab or Muslim. I can tell you that unlike most Americans, I served in the US military active duty during the Vietnam War. I was proud to be able to continue what my brother and father and uncle did, all of whom served in the US military.

My father and uncle served four years through World War II fighting the Nazis in Europe and defending freedom as much as anyone else who wore or did not wear a military uniform. Yet, they and I are constantly disrespected by the undercurrent of revenge hatred that permeates America today.

The Boston terrorists, Tamerian Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, happened to be Muslims. And in their planning of this vicious attack, they asserted that they were defending Islam, as if Islam had chosen them as the religion’s defenders.

The fact is the two killers just happened to be Muslims and in fact were not true Muslims. They were not Arab. Yet Americans continue to hold Arabs and Muslims responsible for every act of violence by every crackpot who comes from the Middle East or a Muslim country. The Tsarnaevs were from Chechnya, where the Muslim population has been brutalized by the Russians.
They don’t represent Islam. They don’t represent Arabs. And they certainly don’t represent me, or other Arabs, Christian and Muslim, who continue to be persecuted and vilified in the news media and by political opportunists who seek to exploit the growing racism in America to advance their individual political agendas.

I know that I could have sung “America the Beautiful” as powerfully and as meaningfully as anyone. I am as patriotic and more patriotic than any of those who were invited to speak at the commemoration ceremonies.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that no high profile Muslims or Arabs representing the other victims in this vague and blurring concept of the “War on Terrorism” were invited to speak or participate or to express their own patriotism and demonstrate that they are “Boston Strong,” too.

Just this past week, a white man was arrested and charged with the murder of four innocent civilians at Jewish community centers in Kansas City, yet no one dared to denounce him as a “white terrorist” or as a “Christian terrorist.” The suspect’s Christian religion suddenly had become insignificant, even though it reflects a disturbing far rightwing corner of American militant and fanatic Christians.

He’s “different” from Christians and doesn’t represent the “Christian” religion. Yet somehow, all Muslims and even Arabs, Christian and Muslim – and yes, Christian Arabs do exist America – are represented by the self-proclaimed two Islamic terrorists who murdered innocent Americans so viciously and so cowardly in Boston last year.

I want to know when the real America will return? When will the America that stands up for justice, freedom and fairness return to this country? When will Americans stop pretending to embrace the US Constitution and the “American way” and start living it? Stop talking and start doing. Because what many Americans are doing is not what America stands for.

I’m an American. I’ve done more than most Americans by serving my country when the call to stand up and put my life on the line was made when I was younger. I didn’t hesitate. I was there in uniform ready to fight, doing what I was told.

And I am tired of having to remind people who claim to be American, but are not, that I am more of an American than they could ever be. Because I believe in justice. I believe in fairness. I believe that one man’s insanity does not represent the beauty of an entire race of people. I reject racism. I reject racial hatred. I reject xenophobia. I reject discrimination.

I embrace true American patriotism, which means speaking for and defending every American regardless of their race, religion or their creed. And, added to that, true American patriotism means that we stand together regardless of the race, religion or the creed of the terrorist fanatics who deserve our scorn as a nation.

I happen to be Christian, too. But if you think of me as a Muslim, I am as proud to be thought of that way as I am proud to be a real American.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania.

Looka’ here


Found this article floating around Facebook and thought it a harbinger of things to come in America.  Women in western societies are accepting Islam absent male influence; they are deciding on their own to embrace a religion that many see as oppressive to women and women’s rights, yet in doing so making a statement that they want to decide their future, their relationships independently and in their own way.  That’s what western societies offer their citizens…the right to choose, and it seems so long as freedom of religion is not criminalized like other free choices that used to be available to women….the number of women who embrace Islam will most likely increase for the time being.

However, this young woman’s life choices seems to be a precursor to becoming Muslim.  Reading her story might make it easier for objective observers to see why women in America accept Islam

hijabi

I am an American non-Muslim woman who has chosen to wear the hijab. Yes, you did read that correctly! I am not conducting an experiment on what the hijab is like or trying to explore the lives of Muslims. I have made a permanent life decision to only show my face and hands while in public, and I love it!

When I was younger, I found the hijab to be beautiful, but unfortunately I thought that a lot of the myths about the hijab were true, and so I was daunted by it. When I started college I studied Arabic and made friends with the Muslim students in my classes. A few of the girls wore a hijab, and even though I liked the look of it and respected their right to wear it, I thought that it was oppressive.

Unfortunately, around the same time, I began to notice that some of the men at my university would openly speak about their female classmates as though they were moving pieces of meat. I would often have to hear stories that I rather wouldn’t about what these boys would like to do to this girl or that one, and I began to notice their looks. Before entering university, I would catch men looking at me in an inappropriate way from time to time, and I would just ignore it, but after hearing these conversations and feeling their many looks, I couldn’t just ignore it anymore.

I mentioned how I felt to some of my classmates, and often I got responses like “boys will be boys,” or “it’s just their biology, they can’t help their behavior.” At the time, I bought these responses, and I thought that my discomfort was just my problem. I thought that these people had a right to behave the way they were, and I had no right to try and stop them. When I got engaged, this all changed.

My fiance is my soulmate. We met in junior high and were friends for years before we began dating. He had asked me out a few times before then, and even though I turned him down, he always behaved around me in a respectful way. It was because of how he always treated me that I eventually agreed to go out with him. The day he proposed to me is, so far, the happiest day of my life. Once I made the decision to make a lifelong commitment to him and only him, it seemed obvious that no one had the right to treat me like their sex object. Whenever I would notice someone looking at me inappropriately, I no longer felt uncomfortable, I felt outraged! But I still had no idea what I could do about it.

couple

Finally, one day I saw one of my hijabi friends at school and ran over to say hi to her. She started to walk towards me, and for some reason I was just struck by her. She was wearing a scarf and an abayaa like she normally did, but in that moment she looked regal and powerful. In my mind I thought, “Wow, I want to look just like that.” I started researching the hijab, and I learned more about why Muslims wear a hijab, what makes a hijab a hijab, and how to wrap scarves. I watched youtube videos, browsed online hijab shops (including Haute Hijab) and the more I saw the more I was impressed by how these hijabi women exuded class and elegance. I wanted so much be like these women, and couldn’t get the hijab out of my mind. I even started dreaming about it!

There were many things I liked about the hijab. I liked the thought of having so much control over my body and how the outside world saw it, but what I also liked was how well it fit with my feminist beliefs. As a feminist I believe that women and men should be equals in society, and that the norm of treating women like sex objects is a form of unequal and unfair treatment. Women in American society are looked down upon if they don’t dress in order to be attractive for others, but I believe that women shouldn’t have to conform to some ridiculous and unattainable standard of beauty. The hijab is a way to be free of that.

However, the way the hijab best complemented my feminist beliefs was how it was about so much more than women’s clothing. As I understood it, the hijab is about how men and women should interact while in public. Men also dress in a non-revealing way, and both men and women are supposed to treat each other with respect. I was happy to learn that both men and women were expected to be responsible for their own actions, and impressed at how egalitarian the ideals of the hijab are.

At this point, I was certain that I wanted to wear a hijab, but I had a problem. I was afraid that wearing a hijab as a non-muslim would be offensive, and I was too afraid to ask my friends. I found one youtube video on the subject, and though it said that it wouldn’t be offensive, I still wasn’t sure. But eventually, after weeks of thinking about the hijab, I finally asked one of my friends. She told me that she wouldn’t be offended, and then pointed out that Muslims aren’t the only ones who wear headscarves, many Jews and Christians do as well.

I started wearing it off and on for a few weeks after that, and once I felt comfortable I always wore it when I left home. Soon after, I left for an internship in Jordan. I was afraid that the Jordanians would not like that I was wearing a hijab, but quickly after I got off the plane I found otherwise! When I told people that I was an American non-Muslim, they were excited to see that I wore a hijab. People often told me that they thought it was a very good thing that I was wearing it, and some people were touched that I would show such respect to their culture. Best of all, I will never forget the sight of a fully grown man jumping with excitement because I was wearing a jilbab! These memories will always bring warmth to my heart, and they give me strength back in the states when I have to deal with angry glares or awkward questions about my hijab.

Sometimes I will still catch men looking at me in a disrespectful way, but I take joy in knowing that though they may try, they still cannot see what they want to. Because of the hijab, I understand that my body is my right, and I will be forever grateful to the Muslim women who taught that to me.

 

 

Juan Cole’s Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism


Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism

Posted on 04/17/2013 by Juan Cole

Erik Rush and others who hastened to scapegoat Muslims for the Boston Marathon bombing are ignorant of the religion. I can’t understand why people who have never so much as read a book about a subject appoint themselves experts on it. (Try this book, e.g.). We don’t yet know who carried out the attack, but we know they either aren’t Muslims at all or they aren’t real Muslims, in the nature of the case.

For the TLDR crowd, here are the top ten ways that Islamic law and tradition forbid terrorism (some of these points are reworked from previous postings):

1. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted). 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.”

2. If the motive for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it.

3. Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare. The Quran says, “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” (8:61) The Quran chapter “The Cow,” 2:190, says, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”

4. In the Islamic law of war, not just any civil engineer can declare or launch a war. It is the prerogative of the duly constituted leader of the Muslim community that engages in the war. Nowadays that would be the president or prime minister of the state, as advised by the mufti or national jurisconsult.

5. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)

6. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”

7. Sneak attacks are forbidden. Muslim commanders must give the enemy fair warning that war is imminent. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice.

8. The Prophet Muhammad counseled doing good to those who harm you andis said to have commanded, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

9. The Qur’an demands of believers that they exercise justice toward people even where they have reason to be angry with them: “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”[5:8]

10. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.

 

The Cooked Up War on Christmas


FoxFireEvery year at this time we get inundated with news stories about the war on Christmas and how some body, most likely foreign, dark or un-Christian, or some institution, such as a state or local government, judges or courts, have joined forces with satan to deny Christians their God given right to celebrate Christmas.  FoxNews is one of many leaders in this false narrative that lawmakers are encroaching upon Christian values with political godlessness….it gets the attention and indignation of a lot of folks and it’s good for ratings/subscriptions, etc even when it is NOT true.  This kind of story is a seasonal one, much like hurricane coverage that takes place every year from late summer to late fall along the eastern seaboard of America, or which school has the number one college football or basketball team that’s debated on the airwaves, ironically enough around Christmas time to the advent of March Madness.

warThe difference however in this type of story is the rather sinister appeal it has to certain segments of society that seize upon this news to demagogue issues of immigration and diversity within the landscape of America.  Is it really worth getting angry, excited over someone who says “happy holidays” instead of Merry Christmas?  Some bemoan the fact that such difference in language takes away from the religious nature of the holidays, as if celebrating Christmas is only religious if it’s done by EVERYBODY instead of an individual and their family and friends.  This time of year Christians feel put upon, denigrated, assaulted by the actions of governments, judiciary, and individuals which most likely contributes to a siege mentality instead of a celebratory one and media pundits with an agenda usually centered around political power and or financial prosperity are too eager to exploit such apprehension at this time of year.  Instead of asking who or what is waging a war on Christmas, Americans should be saying ‘enough’ to divisiveness.  Do Jews think it necessary for people to wish them a Happy Hanukah or are Muslims insisting that non-Muslims wish them Eid Mubarak in order for them to feel as if they have really celebrated their religious holiday?

America has become a country of over 300 million people, many of whom do not celebrate Christmas, who should be, must be able20329437_SS to coexist with their Christian brethren who do celebrate during this time of year, and vice versa. Doing so doesn’t diminish the value of either party to the American fabric nor does it adversely impact  the festiveness of any group’s religious holidays.  Why can’t we get that America?!?!?  Perhaps during this time of year, people should turn off the denizens of the public airwaves who want to incite animus between people of different faiths and backgrounds.  This time of year  is stressful enough, with all the crowded shopping centers and streets and the anxiety that comes with breaking the routine in ways that are reserved for only this time of  year.    Instead of worrying about one’s reply to “Merry Christmas”, maybe we ought to be happy that we are able to go out and about and immerse  ourselves in the spirit of Christmas without the worry of whether we will be  shot  in the  mall of our choice.

It appears to me that people who focus on the differences of their fellow citizens during a time that’s supposed to celebrate the birth of the founder of present day western ethos are the true disbelievers in the message of a loving Christ, choosing to point to the sins of their detractors to the point of inciting public discord.  It’s troubling that there aren’t a lot of people who don’t get that.

Memory hole material-Muslim Americans are not extremists and don’t support it


Muslim Americans

Muslim Americans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite news and opinions to the contrary, Muslim Americans are just as normal as any other American citizen and NOT inclined to the violence we are all told they engage, but the negative image of Islam is  not for lack of trying.  Pundits have been pounding the message that Muslims in America are a threat to the American fabric ad nauseam; public officials have jumped on the bandwagon with congressional hearings and campaign speeches that are simply demagoguery that have lead to violence against Muslims or those who were mistaken for Muslims.  However, the facts do not support these rather erroneous conclusions.  Rather they point to an entirely different conclusion altogether. (The emphasis in red is mine)

As the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, a comprehensive public opinion survey finds no indication of increased alienation or anger among Muslim Americans in response to concerns about home-grown Islamic terrorists, controversies about the building of mosques and other pressures that have been brought to bear on this high-profile minority group in recent years. There also is no evidence of rising support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans.

On the contrary, as found in the Pew Research Center’s 2007 survey, Muslims in the United States continue to reject extremism by much larger margins than most Muslim publics (countries) surveyed this year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project. And majorities of Muslim Americans express concern about the possible rise of Islamic extremism, both here and abroad.

…..Nonetheless, Muslim Americans have not become disillusioned with the country. They are overwhelmingly satisfied with the way things are going in their lives (82%) and continue to rate their communities very positively as places to live (79% excellent or good).

At a personal level, most think that ordinary Americans are friendly (48%) or neutral (32%) toward Muslim Americans; relatively few (16%) believe the general public is unfriendly toward Muslim Americans. About two-thirds (66%) say that the quality of life for Muslims in the U.S. is better than in most Muslim countries.

…..As in 2007, very few Muslim Americans – just 1% – say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often justified to defend Islam from its enemies; an additional 7% say suicide bombings are sometimes justified in these circumstances. Fully 81% say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are never justified.

A comparably small percentage of Muslim Americans express favorable views of al Qaeda – 2% very favorable and 3% somewhat favorable. And the current poll finds more Muslim Americans holding very unfavorable views of al Qaeda than in 2007 (70% vs. 58%).

….Opposition to violence is broadly shared by all segments of the Muslim American population, and there is no correlation between support for suicide bombing and measures of religiosity such as strong religious beliefs or mosque attendance. Yet opposition to extremism is more pronounced among some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others.

….

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Muslim Americans endorse the idea that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard; just 26% say hard work is no guarantee of success. Among the general public, somewhat fewer (62%) say that most people who work hard can get ahead.

U.S. Muslims are about as likely as other Americans to report household incomes of $100,000 or more (14% of Muslims, compared with 16% of all adults), and they express similar levels of satisfaction with their personal financial situation. Overall, 46% say they are in excellent or good shape financially; among the general public, 38% say this. Muslim Americans are as likely as the public overall to have graduated from college (26% of Muslims vs. 28% among the general public). Because as a group Muslim Americans are younger than the general public, twice as many report being currently enrolled in a college or university class (26% vs. 13%). Similar numbers of Muslim Americans and members of the general public report being self-employed or owning a small business (20% for Muslim Americans, 17% for the general public).

When it comes to many other aspects of American life, Muslim Americans look similar to the rest of the public. Comparable percentages say they watch entertainment television, follow professional or college sports, recycle household materials, and play video games. About one-in-three (33%) say they have worked with other people from their neighborhood to fix a problem or improve a condition in their community in the past 12 months, compared with 38% of the general public.

When asked to choose, nearly half of Muslims in the U.S. (49%) say they think of themselves first as a Muslim, while 26% see themselves first as an American; 18% volunteer that they are both. In a 2011 survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 46% of Christians in the U.S. say they identify as Christian first while the same number identify as American first. White evangelicals are much more likely to identify first as Christian (70%).

The survey also finds that compared with Muslims elsewhere, Muslim Americans are more supportive of the role of women in society. Virtually all Muslim Americans (90%) agree that women should be able to work outside of the home. Most (68%) also think that there is no difference between men and women political leaders. These are not the prevailing views of Muslims in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

And on a key foreign policy issue, Muslim Americans are far more likely than Muslims in the Middle East to say that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of the Palestinians are addressed (62% say this; 20% disagree). In this regard, the views of Muslim Americans resemble those of the general public, among whom 67% say a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist while protecting the rights of the Palestinians; 12% disagree.

….Many Muslim Americans are highly religious: 69% say that religion is very important in their lives, and about half (47%) report at least weekly attendance at a mosque for prayer. Similarly, about half (48%) say they make all five salah prayers daily, and another 18% report making at least some salah daily.

….Overwhelming numbers of Muslim Americans believe in Allah (96%), the Prophet Muhammad (96%) and the Day of Judgment (92%). Yet the survey finds that most reject a dogmatic approach to religion. Most Muslim Americans (57%) say there is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of Islam; far fewer (37%) say that there is only one true interpretation of Islam. Similarly, 56% of Muslim Americans say that many different religions can lead to eternal life; just 35% say that Islam is the one true faith that leads to eternal life.

What the study shows is American Muslims are engaged in their communities, optimistic about their future and the future of the country in which they live, have strong bonds to America and its way of life, eschew violence overwhelmingly, yet identify with their religion and are productive members of the society. I remember as a 9th grade student studying civics being told all of the characteristics above were examples of good citizenship, yet today despite having embraced life in America, Muslim Americans are condemned for the very attributes we hold dear.  Stop the hypocrisy America, you can do better than this!

A Christian reflects on why he’s fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan


I thi

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to br...

dates and a glass of milk during Ramadan to break fasting at sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nk his heart is in the right place, although I don’t know if I agree with the the conjugal background for  his reason but that’s for another blog.  However, Huffington Post has a blog devoted to people who are reflecting on why they are or are not fasting during Ramadan….not all of the people who write are Muslim it appears, and it’s worth a look now and then.  I chose this one for reasons of my own.

Why A Christian Is Fasting For Ramadan:

My girlfriend is Muslim, but she is also very supportive in all of my endeavors. So, I decided to do half-day fasts for six days out of the week, and one full day. We live in a pretty rural area where Muslims are few and far between. It’s the closest thing she has to fellowship, aside from her family.

The first day of Ramadan was July 19. It is now July 27, and I am starting to understand why folks fast. I do feel like my thought process changes, and I feel much closer to God. Religion is religion. Christianity and Islam have very similar underlying themes, and most don’t notice we do worship the same God. Just because we call Him a different name doesn’t mean we’re not talking to the same person.

Fasting food every day is easy, but the liquids are what really kill me. I have been very tired during my morning anatomy class, and every time I pass Arnold Palmers in the beverage section in Speedway, a little part of me dies. But, I believe I will come out of the other side of this a better man.

— Matt Schiffbauer

It’s that time of year again-time to incite divisiveness and add a little bit of victomhood with it


English: The 2005 White House Christmas Tree, ...

Image via Wikipedia

Every Christmas season, people on the Right of the political spectrum, and especially now with a black President with a funny sounding name or whenever the opposition party is in power, tell America how they are being denied their right to celebrate Christmas, or how the religious significance of the holidays is being taken away from it.  We won’t even talk about how rarely do those same self-righteous right wingers talk about spending time in their houses of worship or how extremely commercial the season of Christmas is and how important it is that people BUY things or SPEND all of their money and then more money that they don’t have to pull the economy out of its year long doldrums in order to keep alive the god of Capitalism.  The Right wants America to feel victimized that the lack of mentioning  the baby Jesus will get in the way of celebrating Christmas; saying Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays is akin to ethnic cleansing, racial bigotry, and makes the holiday season far less rewarding for them. Robert Parry of ConsortiumNews.com wrote about this phenomenon six years ago.

….the Right’s media has created another world for its followers – where Christians are persecuted for celebrating their faith, where they are repressed by cruel non-Christians and evil secularists.

This perceived persecution exists even as America’s downtowns and shopping malls are bedecked with the red-and-green Christmas colors and Christmas symbols are everywhere, even in cities like New York with large populations of Jews and Muslims.

Somehow, listeners to Fox News and right-wing talk radio are convinced that Christmas is threatened despite the fact that Christmas carols are pumped into nearly all public places, including elevators and grocery stores where both Christians and non-Christians must go.

Another major beef from conservative Christians is that the federal courts have restricted displays of the baby Jesus in the manger on government property and that public schools have replaced “Christmas concerts” with “winter concerts” and the “Christmas vacation” with a “winter vacation.”

Nevertheless, schools are closed for about two weeks to accommodate Americans wishing to celebrate Christmas. Despite the U.S. principle of separation of church and state, Christmas remains an official federal holiday, an exception to the rule that is afforded no other religious observance. Jews, for instance, don’t expect Christians to honor Yom Kippur by taking the day off, nor do Muslims expect the government to show undue deference to Ramadan.

In 2005, led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, some conservative Christians boycotted stores that offered their customers the non-sectarian greeting of “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” In some cases, “Merry Christmas” is now spit out as fighting words…

This season is no different.  Among some of the articles lamenting the absence of “Christ” in Christmas is this one from Conservative News Central

The 63-foot Sierra White Fir lighted at the U.S. Capitol Grounds on Dec. 6 as the official 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree includes a prominently displayed ornament paying homage to President Barack Obama, but includes no ornament readily visible to a person standing near the tree’s base that uses the word “Christmas,” or includes an image of the Nativity, or bears the name or image of Jesus Christ.

This very first paragraph speaks to the immaturity of the argument that follows.  Because no one sees an ornament of Christ while standing at the foot of the 63 foot tall tree but did see one for Obama means there is a war against Christian is an insanely absurd notion that in today’s America is too easily believed by far too many people.  It doesn’t matter to the purveyors of such filth that what was done to this tree is the same thing that has been done in years past, where a state theme is selected and citizens of that state determine what it is placed on the tree. For the previous three years, Wyoming, Arizona and Montana have had the honor, or rather distinction of doing the same thing, with the same results but no mention of the heresy of omitting Christ from their ornaments was written about.  Perhaps Terrence Jeffrey, the author of CNC’s article,  didn’t get the memo on how the Capital Christmas tree is decorated or maybe he was confused with it and the White House Christmas tree urban legend, categorically denied, that said the 2011 Christmas tree will be referred to as a “Holiday tree” and will not display religious themed ornaments.  Accuracy or truth is the first casualty in the war being waged by the Right for the soul of America.

Rachel Maddow uncovered another one of the war on Christians during Christmas themes, equally false and easily verified as such, with respect to Sarah Palin. You can read and hear about it here.  Instead of spreading holiday cheer, members of the Right want to spread dissension and discord…hardly the themes worth mentioning when celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace.  So, my question is why are Americans so easily distracted from that fact by such charlatans of faith?  Not everyone in America is a Christian, that’s a fact.  Not everyone believes in Christ as the son of God…that’s a fact but that should not deter those who do from enjoying and celebrating this holiday.  Neither should they make non Christians feel they are any less citizens of this Republic for not joining them in that celebration.  That is the beauty of freedom of religion.  No one is a victim when it is practiced unfettered by each and every one of us.  Christians should tell those who make it a seasonal war of hate and division to get on with the celebration and spend less time with the fighting.

 

The Oppression of Egyptian women under military rule


We may never know the name of the woman pictured here who was brutalized by the Egyptian army in horrific ways, but she is symbolic of what happens to Egyptians, men and particularly women, under the military rule of the government of Egypt.  There is nothing that this woman could have done to merit the public treatment she received at the hands of the men in this picture.  We will never know if the men are Christian or Muslim……does it matter, they  disrobed her purposefully and publicly and beat her mercilessly and senselessly.    This is the fate of women who protest against the government of Egypt and it doesn’t matter to the thugs who participate in this mass orgy of violence and sexual humiliation whether their victims are Muslim, Christian, Jewish,  Egyptian or foreign, expressions of dissent of any form is not tolerated and public examples must be made of those who violate that unwritten tradition or culture.  This is the face of totalitarianism, not Islam, of autocratic militarism that has plagued Egyptian society, our ally, for over 30 years.  It is what Lara Logan saw and faced during her last visit to Tahrir Square.  It is raw, naked brutal, and it is ugly.  You can read about what else women in Egypt are facing and have faced from the military regime here.  The accounts there are demoralizing, and inhumane and characteristic of military rule which has its own precepts and pillars, in that part of the world.

Members of Muslim Paramilitary ‘Mahdi Unit’ charged for home invasion


Finally, news that every American should be concerned about.

Michael Schaffran and Cody Jacob Rogers, arrested after Gautier home invasion.

Two members of a Muslim paramilitary group called “The Mahdi Unit” were charged with kidnapping and burglary for allegedly conducting a home invasion while clad in ski-masks, military garb and bullet-proof vests.

Ahmed Abdulla, 32, and Abdulla Ahmed, 18, were arrested after allegedly breaking into a home on Tuesday night in Gautier, Mississippi. They were each charged with three counts of kidnapping and burglary of an occupied house, the Sun-Herald reports.

According to police, Abdulla and Ahmed dressed up in military gear, ski masks and bullet-proof vests, broke into the house, and attacked the three people who lived there. At the time of the arrest, Abdulla had a knife, though Ahmed was unarmed.

Authorities say Abdulla is the “commander” of a paramilitary group of teenagers called “The Mahdi Unit” or “The Tactical Support Unit,” and Ahmed is the “captain.” According to an operations manual allegedly confiscated from Abdulla and Ahmed, the goal of the group is to “promote Islam, obtain offenders who are a danger to society, do community service work for mosques and halfway houses, and do security for different functions.

You can read more about these miscreants and their threat to America  here.  Now that we know who the REAL enemy is here in America, why don’t we work together to eradicate it and get back to healing this society so that we can coexist peacefully!

Another What if post


What if this headline were displayed across newspapers and magazines across the country

A little-known movement of radical Muslims and self-proclaimed prophets wants to infiltrate government, and (pick the candidate of your choice) might be their man.

Well such a headline was written about presidential hopeful Rick Perry and it hasn’t elicited very much conversation, much less outrage in political circles which leads me to wonder whether Perry has been “chosen” by the political elite to be the next president?  If so, that would spell disaster for America on a scale similar to the one we faced after the Bush II presidency four years ago.  More on that later.

Perry has come out identifying himself as an avowed Christian, and while that’s admirable, there’s nothing Christ like about his actions or beliefs as they pertain to the citizens of his state or to this Republic.  Perry has attached his political ambitions to a group called the New Apostolic Reformation which believes among other things

they have a direct line to God. Through them, they say, He communicates specific instructions and warnings. When mankind fails to heed the prophecies, the results can be catastrophic: earthquakes in Japan, terrorist attacks in New York, and economic collapse.

Some consider Freemasonry a “demonic stronghold” tantamount to witchcraft. The Democratic Party, one prominent member believes, is controlled by Jezebel and three lesser demons. Some prophets even claim to have seen demons at public meetings. They’ve taken biblical literalism to an extreme.

… what makes the New Apostolic Reformation movement so potent is its growing fascination with infiltrating politics and government. The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.

It’s not that we haven’t seen this coming from Perry and his coreligionists.  His national day of prayer and fasting, which we wrote about here should have set off all kinds of alarm bells in print and electronic media but it didn’t. Neither did all of the negative headlines outlining Texas’ shortcomings, which some could say mirror what’s happening on the national level that has inspired Perry to run for election.  So what were some of those other headlines?

For all the controversy over the national debt ceiling, here’s a surprise: Since 2001, the debt load in conservative Texas has grown faster than the federal debt.

Gov. Rick Perry’s……. state’s unemployment rate is the worst in nearly a quarter century.  Despite being one of the loudest critics of President Obama’s stimulus, Perry used billions of dollars of federal money to patch Texas’ budget shortfalls, and was thus able to create and maintain lots and lots of public sector jobs. In fact, if you look at net job creation between 2007 and 2010, it’s clear the only thing keeping Texas buoyant was government jobs.

….Texas now ranks dead last among the 50 states in the percentage of adults who have a high school degree.  That’s down from 38th in 1990.

and those are just for starters.  Perry made remarks about the Federal Reserve chairman which bordered on the insane and caused members of his own party to call him out on them. Yet despite all this, Perry still is considered a legitimate candidate by the public and the media  for the GOP over far more reasonable, legitimate, responsible  and presidential candidates, like Ron Paul, Mitt Romney or  Jon Huntsman.  The fact that anyone considers him legit is a scary reflection of the state of American politics.  Riding the wave of the Tea Party movement that has attracted the total fringe of the conservative movement, Perry’s run for president and his widespread acceptance is a terrible harbinger of what’s to come for America and you needn’t be a member of the New Apostolic Reformation to see that!

 

 

We keep hearing from the “Right” how our country is built on Christian principles, which they, the “Right” seem all too eager to dismiss or disregard whenever it suits them


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

Hat-tip to FRWritings who tweeted, ‘Conservative Christians dont have a Christian Problem, Conservative Christians Have a Reading Problem; Bible doesnt it say to Crush the Poor‘ and indeed it doesn’t.  First some background.  Over the past decade we, the People, have been besieged with the notion that our world is in a clash of civilization with, most notably Muslims, who want to destroy our religious traditions and foundation and replace it with this encroaching and evil “sharia law” that will plunge us into darkness, insolvency and eventual death.  Even when there is no external or internal threat from a belief system that is indeed different from America’s majority, we manage to conjure it up and exaggerate it into life threatening proportions which have become easily believable by most Americans.

However, the potential for death and destruction come not from those sources the “Right” claims oppose a Christian ethos, but rather from those who falsely promote that Christian tradition.  The “Right” having taken up the cause of the economy and the necessity to increase revenue through budget cuts and tax increases has decided to attach itself to budget cuts and tax increases that disproportionally affect the middle class to the exclusion of the more well off and rich of society. Companies and corporations that have reaped tremendous profits at  the expense of the 90% of the US tax bracket, have refused to accept any responsibility for the US economy and have been enabled in their denial by the same Right which claims an alliance to Christian principles. These very same conservative politicians that tout the virtue of America in its clash with other civilizations have bet   against America during her times of economic hardship, making hypocritical their claims of American  exceptionalism and grandeur.  As FRWritings said in his tweet they haven’t read the Bible at all or rather have forgotten what it says in Luke 12:48- Much will be required from everyone to whom much has been given. But even more will be demanded from the one to whom much has been entrusted. Did you read that part folks?

 

In the UK Muslims are better neighbors to have than many Christians who are deemed “militant”!


All we hear on this side of the pond is how Europe is being threatened by Muslim hordes hell bent on the destruction of Western society.  It seems, however that is Muslims who are preserving and honoring Western society more so than their Christian counterparts, if this article is to be believed.

“I think there’s an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society.

Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.

The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian.

Imagine that!

 

Assaulting adherents of a faith because of their religious texts is a funadmentally flawed concept for Christians


and here’s why.

the Bible overflows with “texts of terror,” to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery….

portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races – of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted…..

Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions . . . all are in the Bible, and occur with a far greater frequency than in the Koran.

and so it goes.  With all the Biblical references to death, murder, terror does that mean that Christians are terrorists and murderers and in order to preserve mankind we must institute collective punishment against all those who proclaim the Christian faith.  Such talk is ludicrous, yet it is the type of talk directed towards Muslims who have been living peacefully, relatively speaking, for decades if not centuries in North America.  The purveyors of this idea of collective punishment, a Biblical injunction ironically enough, claim that they are not racist or bigoted because Islam is an ideology, not a race, but they seek to make  illegal practices of Muslims associated with the Islamic religion, like the ritual washing before prayer, or even the prayer itself even when such actions are beneficial to the greater society and not just Muslims like interest free banking, and they claim this is not racism or bigotry?  It is the very definition of bigotry: intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself  and xenophobia.

To say that terrorists can find religious texts to justify their acts does not mean that their violence actually grows from those scriptural roots….The difference between the Bible and the Koran is not that one book teaches love while the other proclaims warfare and terrorism, rather it is a matter of how the works are read. Yes, the Koran has been ransacked to supply texts authorizing murder, but so has the Bible…If Christians or Jews want to point to violent parts of the Koran and suggest that those elements taint the whole religion, they open themselves to the obvious question: what about their own faiths? If the founding text shapes the whole religion, then Judaism and Christianity deserve the utmost condemnation as religions of savagery. Of course, they are no such thing; nor is Islam.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Trouble spelled P-E-R-R-Y


Rick Perry, governor of Texas is trouble, no matter how you look at it.  He’s trouble for non-Christians and Christians alike, especially after his recent announcements here where he encroaches on everyone’s constitutional right to freedom of religion by proclaiming ‘there’s hope if people will seek out the living Christ.’ One can only guess what happens if you don’t seek out Christ….despair, hopelessness, darkness…..which leads me to Perry’s other troubling announcement, where he likens himself to a prophet!?!  So Prophet Perry wants to convert you to the living Christ, and refusing to accept his invitation means what for you the citizen of Texas and/or the United States?  Does this imagery come to mind to any of you, from a time when someone else maybe foisted upon  himself such divinity?

 

America’s corrputed notion of Christianity


The Founding Fathers wanted government to  make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof prescient in their vision that doing so would lead to a fragmented Nation, but racism has driven those who aspire to power to insist that their religion should reign supreme in the body politic of America because it’s what this country was founded on.  We’ve disputed that notion a time or two here.

ConsortiumNews’ writers have weighed in heavily on this subject in a series of thought provoking articles.  This one examines how Christianity has morphed into something that allows its followers to wage war, death and destruction on enemies real and imagined and in the process stray far away from its core values.

The first Christians tried to be faithful to Jesus’s commandments to “put away the sword,” ”do not repay evil for evil,” “do unto others that which you would have them do unto you,” “do good to those who persecute you,” “pray for those who despitefully use you,” “love your neighbor as yourself,” “turn the other cheek,” “love your enemies” and “love as I have loved you.”

Jesus’s earliest followers regarded the human body as the holy temple of God here on earth, and, knowing that violence to a holy place was considered an act of desecration (and therefore forbidden), they refused to kill or maim other children of God, and therefore they also refused, out of conscience, to become killing soldiers for Rome.

Martyrdom, in the first three centuries, was regarded as the ultimate act of social responsibility. And the church flourished!

The Roman Emperor Constantine first recognized Christianity as a valid religion around 311 CE and he made Christianity the official state religion within decades.

He showered the now-legal church with the goodies of the Empire and the Christians accepted them, not aware that property, dominative power, wealth and the tight connections to militarism were eventually to become curse for the church.

Before long Christians began endorsing, and then participating in, un-Christ-like acts of homicidal violence in war.

n 311 CE, you could not be a Christian and be a killing soldier in Rome’s army. By 416, you couldn’t be in the Roman army unless you were a Christian! It had all turned around in 105 years, and Christianity has been a war-tolerating religion ever since….

Massacres of non-Christian “infidels” in the Crusades were soon followed by massacres of fellow Christians. In the Middle Ages, the organized church actively persecuted, tortured and murdered millions of women who were feared as intellectuals, midwives and “witches.”

The use of atomic bombs against the civilian targets of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was perhaps the spiritual low point in Christendom’s history of un-Christ-like cruelty and inhumanity to man.

It is a little known fact that Ground Zero for the second bomb was the largest Christian church in the Orient. The Nagasaki Urakami Cathedral and most of its members were vaporized in nine seconds by an all-Christian bomb crew on Aug. 9, 1945. American Christianity remains unrepentant.

And then there was the horrific example of German Christianity, easily Nazified because of its historical connections to Prussian militarism, and therefore allied to Hitler’s policy of perpetual war.

Many “good Germans” had good-paying healthcare-related jobs but they found themselves obediently participating in the extermination of the mentally and physically deformed “useless eaters.”

Many “good Germans” earned their livings participating in the oppression and extermination of gypsies, homosexuals, trade unionists, liberals, communists and Jews; and many churches consented to those atrocities by their silence.
The Jewish Holocaust occurred in part because the German churches had, for centuries, falsely blamed the Jews for killing Jesus (a myth), ignoring Jesus’s commandment to “love as I have loved you.”

The movements of Gandhi, King and Jesus, as well as a multitude of other examples of successful nonviolent, faith-based resistance movements throughout history, are proof that nonviolence can work, but they are only for the faithful and the courageous.

Far more courage is demanded of unarmed resisters who may be forced to jail or to their deaths, than is asked of modern super-patriotic warriors who do battle using highly lethal, high-tech weaponry that almost guarantees their physical survival.

 

Most likely the founding fathers were good students of history.  They realized that if the State endorsed one religion, Christianity for example, over another it would lead to the corruption of that religion which could be easily pliable in the hands of the omnipotent state and thus loose its religious character and meaning.  Maybe that’s why they weren’t too keen on insisting that America was to be a Christian nation; they possessed crystal balls that allowed them to peer into our future and see how religion could metastasize into large mega churches with their own television stations that would swindle people out of their money and their souls while feeding them into the meat grinder of an expansionist state that needs bodies to fight wars of empire.  This might be one of the endearing legacies of our founding fathers, that in refusing to refer to America as a Christian country they hoped that would make us  more Christian. Sadly, such is not the case.

Holiday Spirit


Fox News channel store in the airport

Image by ario_ via Flickr

Bill O’Reilly and his minions at FoxNews want Muslims to “refudiate” terrorism, and absent that they are to be suspect.  O’Reilly et.al also waged a very public campaign to out those who didn’t share the “Christmas” spirit in the same way as he did, saying absent their vociferous bellowing of “Merry Christmas” they were surreptitiously sabotaging Christmas.

Muslims on the other hand were taking a much more pro-active stance about the holidays….something you can read and see here.

Early Christmas morning, hundreds of Muslim-Americans turned out to help their Christian friends by doing the volunteer work that they would normally do. Muslims say this is a way to allow Christians to celebrate the Holiday by stepping in to provide meals to seniors and distributing toys to needy children……

Once again putting a lie to the myth generated by the pundits who are on the payroll of today’s racists/fascists media whores. Oh and speaking of myths, did you hear the one about the Justin Bieber endorsement of the Ground Zero/Park51 mosque that really wasn’t an endorsement at all??  The Islamophobes, who constantly prove themselves to be the worse America has to offer, were tricked again into showing their racist colors by falling for another satirical website that claimed Bieber said something about Park51 that he really didn’t say.  Why don’t these people just admit they have nothing but their own animus which drives them towards insanity and stop hanging excuses on things that really don’t exist?!?!

Mosque foes recently started a boycott of Bieber after he made comments in support of the mosque project in an interview with Tiger Beat, a teen fan magazine….

I was able to reach the proprietor of the site, who confirmed that the Bieber item is in fact a hoax. “[T]he fact that some people take it seriously is hilariously depressing,” he said in an e-mail.

 

Depressing indeed, and par for the course.  America, wake up.

 

Separation of Church and State- A Resounding Yes!


The US is awash in people who are mistaken in the belief that America was founded as a Christian nation, some even saying the Judeo-Christian ethic is the standard by which the country governs and conducts itself to the exclusion of other faiths.  We’ve written about that here a time or two and demonstrated that nothing could be further from the truth.  A more recent article affirms that and can be found here.

Not once does the U.S. Constitution or any of its amendments use the words Christian or Christianity. The only times the word religion is used in the Constitution is in the prohibition of a religious test to run for public office and in the First Amendment, forbidding any limits on the free practice of religion.

Yet 53 percent of Americans believe the United States was established as a Christian nation.

Today’s misconception about the United States as a Christian nation, of course, is not the only example of Americans failing to live up to the founding ideals.

The Baptists and the Quakers suffered severe persecution in Colonial days. The Roman Catholics and Mormons were the targets of persecution in the 19th Century, and the Jehovah Witnesses and Christian Scientists were demonized in the 20th Century. The bias against Muslims has become the challenge of the 21st century.

 

It’s clear the argument that America is a Christian nation is a means by which people can deny those who don’t fall under the appellation “Christian” their God given right to live in peace in America.  In an earlier post we’ve shown how the “Christian” disease can spread and engulf victims that were once considered a part of the Judeo-Christian ethic further underscoring the destructive nature of the argument.  America has always been a place where people who valued freedom of expression settled to live peacefully and even at times tumultuously with their neighbors, without fear of being denied the freedoms they cherished without due process.  That should not change in today’s climate, all the race-baiting and homophobic clamoring to the contrary.  America is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, Wicca, atheist nation united by a rule of law that says any expression is allowed and cannot be limited, censored, altered by the State.  Leave it at that America; don’t tread on the rights of any of your Citizens!

Terrorism-The unequal treatment of two religiously motivated crimes


lady-justiceTwo men, one Christian and the other Muslim, commit murder just one day apart in the United States. Both appear to have been motivated by their religious beliefs. The Christian murderer is Scott Roeder and his victim is Dr. George Tiller, a physician from Wichita, KS who performed late term abortions. The Muslim murderer is Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad and his victims are Pvt. William Long and Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula who were new U.S. Army recruiters.

These two murder cases expose the media’s and our legal system’s bias against Muslims. Both crimes seem to fit the definition of terrorism motivated by religious extremism. The media and the legal system, however, are treating these alleged murderers and their crimes very differently.

The Muslim murder suspect, Mr. Muhammad, is charged with terrorism along with first degree murder. Mr. Muhammad’s faith has been front and center from the very earliest news reports. The American-Muslim community’s almost immediate repudiation of Mr. Muhammad’s murder was and still is largely ignored.

On the other hand, the Christian murder suspect, Mr. Roeder, is not being charged with terrorism. His faith has not been the focus of news reports even though there seems to be ample evidence to suggest that Mr. Roeder espouses extreme, right-wing Christian beliefs. And lastly, the media is giving anti-abortion groups ample opportunity to distance themselves from the murderous actions of one of their own.

Let’s start with the terrorism charges. Domestic terrorism is defined as an act that is dangerous to human life (guns were fired in the direction of the victims – this requirement is met) and which is a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or any State (both shootings fulfill this requirement) and which appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion or to affect the conduct of a government by, among other things, assassination (an argument for this element can be made in both shootings).

Mr. Muhammad is charged with 15 counts of engaging in a terrorist act. This is in addition to the murder charge. Mr. Roeder is charged with murder but there are no terrorism charges. On the face of both cases there seems to be ample indications that these men committed murder with the objective of intimidating a civilian population or with the intention to influence a government policy.

So, why a terrorism charge in one case but not the other? Both cases are heinous. Both local communities surely want to send the strongest message possible to the public that these crimes will be punished to the greatest extent of the law. And ultimately a judge or jury will decide whether the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt so the prosecutor runs little risk by adding the appropriate terrorism charge.

The disparate treatment of these two murder cases began right from the first media reports. Most major newswires and major newspapers focused heavily on Mr. Muhammad’s religion very early on.

The Associated Press reported on Mr. Muhammad’s crime by stating that a “Muslim convert with political and religious motives” shot two uniformed soldiers. The New York Times described Mr. Muhammad as “an American convert to Islam.” CNN reported that Mr. Muhammad is a “Muslim convert”.

Let’s compare the reporting by these same news sources on Mr. Roeder’s murder. The Associated Press is mum on Mr. Roeder’s Christian faith. Ditto for the New York Times and CNN. None of theses same news sources make any mention of Mr. Roeder’s religious affiliation or the obvious role his extremist religious beliefs may have played in the killing of Dr. Tiller.

What exacerbates this obvious bias in reporting is the willingness of the media to offer the anti-abortion groups immediate opportunities to distance themselves from Mr. Roeder’s murder while none of them provided a similar opportunity for the American-Muslim community even as they reported that Mr. Muhammad is a Muslim. Major national and regional American-Muslim organizations issued almost immediate statements condemning Mr. Muhammad’s murderous actions so the excuse cannot be a lack of public condemnation of the murder from the American-Muslim community.

To the American-Muslim community this unequal treatment is at the very least annoying and more likely very troubling. The bad news is that this situation is not going to change in the immediate future.

Not enough Americans know what real Muslims are like. There are up to 7 million Muslims living in America. By contrast there are a few hundred million Christians in America. Suffice to say that Americans feel more familiar with Christian values than they do with Muslim values. They don’t realize just how similar these values are – both faith traditions abhor the killing of innocents and neither faith condones the actions of Mr. Muhammad or Mr. Roeder. Plus, the steady stream of news about Muslim extremists killing others and themselves in suicide missions overseas certainly doesn’t help.

There is only one way for American-Muslims to sway Americans’ opinion of Islam. More Americans need to know what real Muslims are all about. While the media can do its job better by giving a voice to the American-Muslim community, American-Muslims need to take matters into their own hands.

American-Muslims need to become civically engaged. They need to get involved on issues of the common good and not just special interest issues. It has to be at the grassroots level with one on one interactions predicated on substantive work that gives non-Muslim Americans a chance to see firsthand what American-Muslims are all about.

President Obama’s message to the Muslim world, including his numerous nods to American-Muslims was great, but American-Muslims need to do some serious, old school, grassroots relational work of their own.

Hat tip to AltMuslim comment.

These are our neighbors


eboo_patel

“I Am an American With a Muslim Soul

Ilove America not because I am under the illusion that it is perfect, but because it allows me — the child of Muslim immigrants from India —

to participate in its progress, to carve a place in its promise, to play a role in its possibility. John Winthrop, one of the earliest European settlers in  America, gave voice to this sense of possibility. He told his compatriots that their society would be like a city upon a hill ,a beacon for the world. It was a hope rooted in Winthrop’s Christian faith, and no doubt he imagined his city on a hill with a steeple in the center. Throughout the centuries, America has remained a deeply religious country, while becoming a remarkably plural one. Indeed, we are the most religiously devout nation in the West and the most religiously diverse country in the world. The steeple at the center of the city on a hill is now surrounded by the minaret of Muslim mosques, the Hebrew script of Jewish synagogues, the chanting of Buddhist sangas, and the statues of Hindu temples. In fact, there are now more Muslims in America than Episcopalians, the faith professed by many of America’s Founding Fathers.

One hundred years ago, the great African- American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois warned that the problem of the century would be the color line. The 21st century might well be dominated by a different line — the faith line. The most pressing questions for my country (America), my religion (Islam), and all God’s people may well be these: How will people who may have different ideas of heaven interact together on Earth? Will the steeple, the minaret, the synagogue, the temple, and the sanga learn to share space in a new city on a hill? I think the American ethos — mixing tolerance and reverence — may have something special to contribute to this issue.

America is a grand gathering of souls, the vast majority from elsewhere. The American genius lies in allowing these souls to contribute their texture to the American tradition, to add new notes to the American song. I am an American with a Muslim soul. My soul carries a long history of heroes, movements, and civilizations that sought to submit to the Will of God. My soul listened as the Prophet Muhammad preached the central messages of Islam, tazaaqa and tawhid, compassionate justice and the oneness of God. In the Middle Ages, my soul spread to the East and West, praying in the mosques and studying in the libraries of the great medieval Muslim cities of Cairo, Baghdad, and Cordoba. My soul whirled with Rumi,  read Aristotle with Averroes, traveled through Central Asia with Nasir Khusrow. In the colonial era, my Muslim soul was stirred to justice. It marched with Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the Khudai Khidmatgars in their satyagraha to free India. It stood with Farid Esack, Ebrahim Moosa, Rahid Omar, and the Muslim Youth Movement in their struggle for a multicultural South Africa. In one eye I carry this ancient Muslim vision on pluralism; in the other eye I carry the American promise. And in my heart, I pray that we make real this possibility: a city on a hill where different religious communities respectfully share space and collectively serve the common good; a world where diverse nations and peoples come to know one another in a spirit of brotherhood and righteousness; a century in which we achieve a common life together.

So you might know who they are……


…the dead of Gaza, children, under the age of 18. I wish I could put a face to each of their names.

27/12/2008
Ibtihal Kechko Girl 10
Ahmed Riad Mohammed Al-Sinwar Boy 3
Ahmed Al-Homs Boy 18
Ahmed Rasmi Abu Jazar Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Halabi Boy 18
Tamer Hassan Al-Akhrass Boy 5
Hassan Ali Al-Akhrass Boy 3
Haneen Wael Mohammed Daban Girl 15
Khaled Sami Al-Astal Boy 15
alaat Mokhless Bassal Boy 18
Aaed Imad Kheera Boy 14
Abdullah Al-Rayess Boy 17
Odai Hakeem Al-Mansi Boy 4
Allam Nehrou Idriss Boy 18
Ali Marwan Abu Rabih Boy 18
Anan Saber Atiyah Boy 13
Camelia Al-Bardini Girl 10
Lama Talal Hamdan Girl 10
Mohammed Jaber Howeij Boy 17
Nimr Mustafa Amoom Boy 10
29/12/2008
Ismail Talal Hamdan Boy 10
Ahmed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Ahmed Youssef Khello Boy 18
Ikram Anwar Baaloosha Girl 14
Tahrier Anwar Baaloosha Girl 17
Jihad Saleh Ghobn Boy 10
Jawaher Anwar Baaloosha Girl 8
Dina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Samar Anwar Baaloosha Girl 6
Shady Youssef Ghobn Boy 12
Sudqi Ziad Al-Absi Boy 3
Imad Nabeel Abou Khater Boy 16
Lina Anwar Baaloosha Girl 7
Mohammed Basseel Madi Boy 17
Mohammed Jalal Abou Tair Boy 18
Mohammed Ziad Al-Absi Boy 14
Mahmoud Nabeel Ghabayen Boy 15
Moaz Yasser Abou Tair Boy 6
Wissam Akram Eid Girl 14
30/12/2008
Haya Talal Hamdan Girl 8
31/12/2008
Ahmed Kanouh Boy 10
Ameen Al-Zarbatlee Boy 10
Mohammed Nafez Mohaissen Boy 10
Mustafa Abou Ghanimah Boy 16
Yehya Awnee Mohaissen Boy 10
Ossman Bin Zaid Nizar Rayyan Boy 3
Assaad Nizar Rayyan Boy 2
Moaz-Uldeen Allah Al-Nasla Boy 5
Aya Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Halima Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
Reem Nizar Rayyan Boy 4
Aicha Nizar Rayyan Girl 3
Abdul Rahman Nizar Rayyan Boy 6
Abdul Qader Nizar Rayyan Boy 12
Oyoon Jihad Al-Nasla Girl 16
Mahmoud Mustafa Ashour Boy 13
Maryam Nizar Rayyan Girl 5
01/01/2009
Hamada Ibrahim Mousabbah Boy 10
Zeinab Nizar Rayyan Girl 12
Sujud Mahmoud Al-Derdesawi Girl 10
Abdul Sattar Waleed Al-Astal Boy 12
Abed Rabbo Iyyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 10
Ghassan Nizar Rayyan Boy 15
Christine Wadih El-Turk Boy 6
Mohammed Mousabbah Boy 14
Mohammed Iyad Abed Rabbo Al-Astal Boy 13
Mahmoud Samsoom Boy 16
Ahmed Tobail Boy 16
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 17
Hassan Hejjo Boy 14
Rajeh Ziadeh Boy 18
Shareef Abdul Mota Armeelat Boy 15
Mohammed Moussa Al-Silawi Boy 10
Mahmoud Majed Mahmoud Abou Nahel Boy 16
Mohannad Al-Tatnaneeh Boy 18
Hani Mohammed Al-Silawi Boy 10
01/01/2009
Ahmed Al-Meshharawi Boy 16
Ahmed Khodair Sobaih Boy 17
Ahmed Sameeh Al-Kafarneh Boy 18
Asraa Kossai Al-Habash Girl 10
Assad Khaled Al-Meshharawi Boy 17
Asmaa Ibrahim Afana Girl 12
Ismail Abdullah Abou Sneima Boy 4
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 18
Aya Ziad Al-Nemr Girl 8
Ahmed Mohammed Al-Adham Boy 1
Akram Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 13
Hamza Zuhair Tantish Boy 12
Khalil Mohammed Mokdad Boy 18
Ruba Mohammed Fadl Abou-Rass Girl 13
Ziad Mohammed Salma Abou Sneima Boy 9
Shaza Al-Abed Al-Habash Girl 16
Abed Ziad Al-Nemr Boy 12
Attia Rushdi Al-Khawli Boy 16
Luay Yahya Abou Haleema Boy 17
Mohammed Akram Abou Harbeed Boy 18
Mohammed Abed Berbekh Boy 18
Mohammed Faraj Hassouna Boy 16
Mahmoud Khalil Al-Mashharawi Boy 12
Mahmoud Zahir Tantish Boy 17
Mahmoud Sami Assliya Boy 3
Moussa Youssef Berbekh Boy 16
Wi’am Jamal Al-Kafarneh Girl 2
Wadih Ayman Omar Boy 4
Youssef Abed Berbekh Boy 10
05/01/2009
Ibrahim Rouhee Akl Boy 17
Ibrahim Abdullah Merjan Boy 13
Ahmed Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Aya Youssef Al-Defdah Girl 13
Aya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Ahmed Amer Abou Eisha Boy 5
Ameen Attiyah Al-Semouni Boy 4
Hazem Alewa Boy 8
Khalil Mohammed Helless Boy 12
Diana Mosbah Saad Girl 17
Raya Al-Sersawi Girl 5
Rahma Mohammed Al-Semouni Girl 18
Ramadan Ali Felfel Boy 14
Rahaf Ahmed Saeed Al-Azaar Girl 4
Shahad Mohammed Hijjih Girl 3
Arafat Mohammed Abdul Dayem Boy 10
Omar Mahmoud Al-Baradei Boy 12
Ghaydaa Amer Abou Eisha Girl 6
Fathiyya Ayman Al-Dabari Girl 4
Faraj Ammar Al-Helou Boy 2
Moumen Alewah Boy 9
Moumen Mahmoud Talal Alaw Boy 10
Mohammed Amer Abu Eisha Boy 8
Mahmoud Mohammed Abu Kamar Boy 15
Marwan Hein Kodeih Girl 6
Montasser Alewah Boy 12
Naji Nidal Al-Hamlawi Boy 16
Nada Redwan Mardi Girl 5
Hanadi Bassem Khaleefa Girl 13
06/01/2009
Ibrahim Ahmed Maarouf Boy 14
Ahmed Shaher Khodeir Boy 14
Ismail Adnan Hweilah Boy 15
Aseel Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Adam Mamoun Al-Kurdee Boy 3
Alaa Iyad Al-Daya Girl 8
Areej Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 3 months
Amani Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 4
Baraa Ramez Al-Daya Girl 2
Bilal Hamza Obaid Boy 15
Thaer Shaker Karmout Boy 17
Hozaifa Jihad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Khitam Iyad Al-Daya Girl 9
Rafik Abdul Basset Al-Khodari Boy 15
Raneen Abdullah saleh Girl 12
Zakariya Yahya Al-Taweel Boy 5
Sahar Hatem Dawood Girl 10
Salsabeel Ramez Al-Daya Girl 6 months
Sharafuldeen Iyad Al-Daya Boy 7
Doha Mohammed Al-Daya Girl 5
Ahed Iyad Kodas Boy 15
Abdullah Mohammed Abdullah Boy 10
Issam Sameer Deeb Boy 12
Alaa Ismail Ismail Boy 18
Ali Iyad Al-Daya Boy 10
Imad Abu Askar Boy 18
Filasteen Al-Daya Girl 5
Kamar Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 3
Lina Abdul Menem Hassan Girl 10
Unidentified Boy 9
Unidentified Boy 15
Mohammed Iyad Al-Daya Boy 6
Mohammed Bassem Shakoura Boy 10
Mohammed Bassem Eid Boy 18
Mohammed Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Eid Boy 18
Mustafa Moeen Deeb Boy 12
Noor Moeen Deeb Boy 2
Youssef Saad Al-Kahloot Boy 17
Youssef Mohammed Al-Daya Boy 1
07/01/2009
Ibrahim Kamal Awaja Boy 9
Ahmed Jaber Howeij Boy 7
Ahmed Fawzi Labad Boy 18
Ayman Al-Bayed Boy 16
Amal Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 3
Toufic Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 10
Habeeb Khaled Al-Khahloot Boy 12
Houssam Raed Sobeh Boy 12
Hassan Rateb Semaan Boy 18
Hassan Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 2
Redwan Mohammed Ashoor Boy 10
Suad Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 6
Samar Khaled Abed Rabbo Girl 2
Abdul Rahman Mohammmed Ashoor Boy 12
Fareed Ata Hassan Azzam Boy 13
Mohammed Khaled Al-Kahloot Boy 15
Mohammed Samir Hijji Boy 16
Mohammed Fareed Al-Maasawabi Boy 16
Mohammed Moeen Deeb Boy 17
Mohammed Nasseem Salama Saba Boy 16
Mahmoud Hameed Boy 17
Hamam Issa Boy 1
08/01/2009
Anas Arif Abou Baraka Boy 7
Ibrahim Akram Abou Dakkka Boy 12
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Baraa Iyad Shalha Girl 6
Basma Yasser Al-Jeblawi Girl 5
Shahd Saad Abou Haleema Girl 15
Azmi Diab Boy 16
Mohammed Akram Abou Dakka Boy 14
Mohammed Hikmat Abou Haleema Boy 17
Ibrahim Moeen Jiha Boy 15
Matar Saad Abou Haleema Boy 17
09/01/2009
Ahmed Ibrahim Abou Kleik Boy 17
Ismail Ayman Yasseen Boy 18
Alaa Ahmed Jaber Girl 11
Baha-Uldeen Fayez Salha Girl 5
Rana Fayez Salha Girl 12
Rola Fayez Salha Girl 13
Diyaa-Uldeen Fayez Salah Boy 14
Ghanima Sultan Halawa Girl 11
Fatima Raed Jadullah Girl 10
Mohammed Atef Abou Al-Hussna Boy 15

Hat tip to Robin@Sabbah blog.