Archive for April, 2013

News and Analysis (4/10/13)

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

While John Kerry kids himself into believing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute can ignore UN Res. 194, Khaled Mashaal demonstrates his own naivete by “seeking to transform his Islamic militant movement that rules Gaza into a widely recognized political force …without making concessions toward Israel needed for international acceptance”:

Whatever your opinion on the morality of drone strikes may be, it’s hard to argue their effectiveness against the man who was reported to have been killed by one:

Amina Tyler helps advance liberation of Muslim women when she bares her breasts about as much as the guy in the trench coat out by the schoolyard helps advance the liberation of Western men when he flashes his private parts:

“The Buddhist monk grabbed a young Muslim girl and put a knife to her neck. ‘If you follow us, I’ll kill her,’ the monk taunted police, according to a witness, as a Buddhist mob armed with machetes and swords chased nearly 100 Muslims in this city in central Myanmar”:

The U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka has called upon moderate Buddhists to help stop the “hate speeches, vilification and even attacks on Muslim-owned businesses and places of worship by Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist groups” that have been met by inaction “that has spurred allegations that the government supports the campaign, which it denies”:

“In my judgment, the 2006 Memorandum by requiring the plaintiff, a non Christian, to remain on parade with his cap off whilst a Christian minister said a prayer, was a violation of the plaintiff’s freedom of religion” — Bahamian Chief Justice:

“I can’t work in public institutions, and now I can’t work in private institutions. What is my future? In my opinion, this is a disastrous law” — an Algerian graduate student:

Syria’s state news agency immediately sought to capitalize on the announcement by declaring it “proves that this opposition was never anything other than a tool used by the West and by terrorists to destroy the Syrian people”:

No one knows what will happen after the foreigners leave Afghanistan …

… but unless the Taliban is part of the solution, expect a civil war:

News and Analysis (4/8/13)

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The brawl in which seven Buddhists and a Muslim died broke out in a “severely overcrowded Indonesian detention center” whose homeless Rohingya inmates get no “welcome mat rolled out to them…. The country has a long track record of trying to avoid resettlement of refugees, whatever their religious beliefs, and that’s unlikely to change soon” …

… and four Christians and a Muslim die ” when hundreds of angry Copts who had attended a funeral service at St. Mark’s Cathedral spilled out into the streets of Cairo, chanting “With our blood and soul we will sacrifice ourselves for the cross”:

“The president’s office said earlier this week that it was not involved in the legal action against Youssef, and that it recognizes the ‘importance of freedom of expression'” …

… and the chief Egypt’s chief prosecutor is being pressured to step down …

… so if the Muslim Brotherhood wants to arrest entertainers without incurring condemnation from America, they should let the Israelis teach them how it’s done …

… and ditto for intimidating journalists:

With neither breakthrough nor breakdown at the talks, all sides except Israel still want a diplomatic solution:

In Afghanistan both sides continue to slay combatants and noncombatants alike …

… and the death of a U.S. diplomat brings a question back to haunt teh new US Secretary of State:

“Hamas officials played down the campaign — a stance adopted in the past that allows the group to distance itself from a controversial crackdown while at the same time instilling fear in those it targeted”:

“The bloggers, who deny they are atheists … want a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamic party, for campaigning against Bangladesh’s independence more than four decades ago”:

While Muslim women must struggle to get their Islamic right to divorce …

… a Muslim feminist fighting to free Islamic traditions “from the conservative interpretations that have helped construct this very incorrect image of the oppressed Muslim woman” says a woman’s decision to veil can be liberating …

… while a Femen activist in Tunisia insists she didn’t mean to be provocative when she exposed her breasts in support of the Ukrainian “Topless Jihad”:

News and Analysis (4/4/13)

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

British personnel were told to pretend the prisoners had been captured by Americans so that the government could “to side-step a Geneva convention clause that would have obliged it to demand the return of any prisoner transferred to the US once it became apparent that they were not being treated in accordance with the convention”:

Bassem Youssef loves Islam, but a jab by guest on his popular satirical program about people who build mosques for the tax deduction has become the excuse for a crackdown transparently motivated by an attempt to silence his ridicule of the foibles and missteps of the ruling FJP and its Muslim Brotherhood backers:

“In years past, local businesspeople would complain of the dizzying array of bribes and permits they needed to open up something as simple as a restaurant. Now folks are just going ahead without worrying about the state bureaucracy or the police”:

The same man who raised concerns that a mop “sink installed outside the House chamber men’s restroom could be intended to accommodate Muslims’ ritual of washing their feet before prayer” would rather kill a school voucher bill than see any vouchers go to Muslim schools:

Glenn Greenwald analyzes how Islamophobia is advanced under the guise of “rational atheism” by the likes of Sam Harris who claims “that there are unique dangers from Muslims possessing nuclear weapons, as opposed to nice western Christians (the only ones to ever use them) or those kind Israeli Jews”:

A judge ordered his release for lack of evidence two years ago, but the government, which has appealed, says the ballet dancer would rather stay in Guantanamo than go back to Russia:

Palestinians respond with hunger strikes in the prisons and demonstrations in the street over allegations that an inmate’s death from cancer was due to lack of treatment; Israel kills two demonstrators and exchanges fire with Gaza:

“An airstrike by U.S.-led forces mistakenly killed four policemen and two civilians in eastern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said Thursday”:

“Suicide squad dressed as soldiers leaves 44 people dead and over 100 injured in deadliest day for civilians in more than a year”:

Women and the American Mosque

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

In a March 27 webinar, seven major organizations (including Women in Islam, ISNA, and CAIR)  released their third report on American Mosques in the US, this time on Women and the American Mosque. The report is simply excellent!  You can read it at: http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/The-American-Mosque-Report-3.pdf

The main findings of the report are that fewer than half of US mosques are welcoming of women, as measured by four criteria: attendance of women at Friday prayers, use of a curtain or divider to separate women (a practice that has actually increased over the past twenty years), women’s programs and groups, and women’s participation in mosque governance. Comparing mosques using the four criteria, it was found that those that were most welcoming to women (i.e., met all four criteria, or 3 out of 4 criteria) were W. Deen Mohammed mosques, while those that scored poorest (0 or 1-2 criteria) followed the Salafi approach. Results are also correlated with ethnicity of the congregation, and birthplace of the Imam. The most interesting results, I thought, classified the mosque according to its approach in interpreting Islam:
– looking to the purposes of Quranic text (what we try to do in our Quran Study class), and interpreting and applying them to meet today’s circumstances (56% of mosques self-identify themselves under this category),
– following great scholars of the past (31% of mosques),
– following a particular school of thought (11% of mosques),
– following the Salafi approach (1%),
and correlating this classification with the measure of whether or not a mosque is friendly to women. The results: no method of interpretation made the mosques predominantly women-friendly, not even the “looking to purposes” approach.

The report recommends that mosques develop a strategic action plan to promote the participation of women, as measured by raising female attendence at Friday prayers from 18% at present to 33% over the next decade, offering space in the main prayer area for women to pray without a curtain if they so desire, including women on the mosque’s board, and supporting women’s inclusion in word and deed (in Friday sermons, programs, newsletters, lectures that interpret Islam, and on websites). The object would be to change the underlying belief that women’s presence in a mosque is a source of “fitnah” to a principle that the very dignity of the American mosque depends upon the presence of women. ISNA has stated that its No. 1 priority going forward will be masjid development, with women’s issues at the top of its list of things to improve.

Sisters, perhaps we should help too.  May I suggest that each of us who attends or lives near to a local mosque should make a copy of this report, and give it to the governing Board with a request that that mosque develops its own action plan to include more women. Let’s see if we can get husbands to help with the request.  They are intended to be our quwamma. All recognize that when women attend mosques, they bring their children, which strengthens the development of a sound Islamic foundation for the entire family.

I know some of us (myself included) have turned away from mosques as places that have failed to reinforce our Islamic faith. Perhaps with the aid of this report, however, it’s time to go back to mosques to make our concerns known. It would be a constructive way to renew the discussion on the interpretation of Islam to its original purpose, that of a protection and a spiritual renewal for men and women alike.

Alphecca Muttardy

News and Analysis (4/2/13)

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

The violence Myanmar takes its toll on schoolchildren …

… but arrested Buddhist monks are released after Video footage on YouTube shows monks actively involved in the attack on a Fashion Bug store, and a nationalist monk accuses the Muslim victims of provoking the Buddhists and offers a very non-Buddhist take on how to respond to the alleged provocation:

When Palestinian schoolchildren throw stones at armed occupation soldiers, their called terrorists, but when Israeli settlers injure unarmed Palestinian schoolchildren with stones, they get a pass:

Wondering how the US fell into its fiscal crisis? A Harvard study has the answer …

… and for those who still think the U.S. invaded Iraq for its oil, take note: the spoils go to China:

“There seems to be no limit to the Ethiopian government’s use of its anti-terrorism law and unfair trials to stop peaceful dissent” — Leslie Lefkow, HRW deputy Africa director:

The comedian “said he will hand himself in to the prosecutor’s office Sunday. He then added, with his typical sarcasm: ‘Unless they kindly send a police van today and save me the transportation hassle'”:

The proposed law would expand the current law barring “state employees from wearing prominent religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves, Jewish skullcaps or large Christian crosses in public schools, welfare offices or other government facilities” into the private sector:

“Hamas parliamentarians in Gaza acted alone to approve the new law, and the movement’s critics have for years accused it of trying to build a separate state in Gaza.” A “women’s rights activist in Gaza, said …, “To say that the old law did not respect the community’s traditions and that they [Hamas] wanted to reform people now is an insult to the community'”:

“The claim of responsibility and the boldness of the attack renews fears that al-Qaida’s local fighters are regrouping and have not been uprooted by a three-month-old French-led offensive” …

… while the senators’ junket hints at greater US involvement:

“Nobody from the Taliban side met with Karzai” — Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid: