Archive for February, 2018

News and Analysis (2/20/18)

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

“Fawzi Khimiri … has been waiting for over three years for the government to approve his permit to open a newspaper and telephone card kiosk.” So why don/t Tunisians understand hat the lack freedom is behind the lack of jobs?

A fellow Christian finds Harrison’s apology inadequate because he “posted it on Facebook rather than standing before the cameras — or in front of those whose feelings he’d hurt — and answering for his transgression”:

“Jews have to stand up EVEN when — ESPECIALLY when — the wrongdoing is BY Jews/the Israeli government” — Sarah Silverman:

The Supreme Court had already ruled that she “has the right to live freely and choose a life of her choice” so now she demands to be reunited with her husband:

Can you imagine the reaction of Muslim villagers to a Muslim man acting as a Hindu priest? Wrong. They “offered a helping hand — some donated their land for the temple expansion while offered financial help”:

The Turkish invaders and their rebel allies “have taken about 45 villages, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” which reports “at least 205 Syrian rebels and 219 Kurdish militiamen dead, along with 112 civilians”:

News and Analysis (2/16/18)

Friday, February 16th, 2018

“Contempt for and irrational fear of a religious group cannot be squared, Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote, with the First Amendment’s bar on religious discrimination”:

“Hyatt’s mission statement proudly and boldly states: ‘We embrace all … perspectives … and ways of thinking’ … [yet they] did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would host white supremacists or neo-Nazis at its hotels”:

In leading by their example coupled with the message that they convey, Muslim “chaplains transcend the alleged divisions between Islam and western visions of society … [and] are able to neutralise the breeding ground for extremist views”

It is futile “to expand the bureaucracy and create a coterie of well-paid official spokesmen, who, because of their capacity as state employees, will likely have zero legitimacy among the people for whom they are meant to speak” …

… “The Muslim faith is a religion and, as such, takes care of its own household affairs. The last thing you want is the state to act as guardian” — Ahmet Ogras, president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith:

“[T]he two planned prayer rooms were to be multifaith facilities … but could not reach an agreement … [with] the anti-Islam group … [that previously] protested a halal shopping district”:

“Each rejection pushed Rahman to work harder.” When she felt like giving up, her mother told her, “You have to keep trying.” Station manager Marshall Porter says On her third try at channel 4, they decided, “This is the best candidate”:

“My intent on inputting this on my personal Facebook page was to emphasize that Christianity is not the only religion being targeted for exclusion in our public school. It was not meant as a personal attack against the Islamic faith”:

After Syrians successfully foil an Israeli attack with an Iranian drone, Netanyahu declares Lebanon a “factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel;” Saad Hariri warns him against making a tragic “miscalculation”:

News and Analysis (2/14/18)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
“While I think it’s completely unfair that Katebi has to laugh off an artillery volley of micro-aggression and blatant racism, her poise, power, and brilliance was absolutely breathtaking”:

To the far left Macron’s plan to “influence the organisation of Islamic institutions, … meddle in the training of imams and … weigh in on how Islam in France is to be financed” threatens secularism, but the far right is fine with it:

The French claim that Tariq Ramadan is a flight risk holds no water, and in any case doesn’t explain why he is in solitary confinement and prevented from speaking to his family, even by phone:

“[A]ll media and foreign diplomats were barred from entering the court room during the trial.” Her father said that Israelis “don’t want to show the world it’s just a theatre” and that Israel holds itself “above the law”:

“Community leaders … will know more than government officials will about problems that might be cropping up … [than] government people” and are better placed “to steer somebody who is at risk of taking a wrong path”:

“Muslim man who was removed from a flight before takeoff in April and interrogated by the FBI after talking on his phone in Arabic”:

“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russia … [insist that] an air strike hit a rebel depot full of chemical munitions”:

Islamic Education in the United States

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

[This is a summary of a panel discussion held at the Cato Institute on February 1, 2018 featuring Shafiq Siddiqui (Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action) and Sabith Khan, California Lutheran University discussing their newly published book on their research on Islamic schools in the U.S. The discussion was moderated by Neal McClusky.]

Shafiq Siddiqui opined that Islamic schools were more energized by the events of 9/11 and the Great Recession. The economic crisis had a negative impact but prompted Muslims to look at the experiences of other educational institutions and led to more public engagement.

Sabith Khan described the methodology of their research. They had to create a comprehensive database of Islamic schools. The sector is not exceptional. They comply with tax laws and some are accredited; they struggle within the community. It is an unsettled question: what is an Islamic school? Some don’t apply for subsidies of school choice because they don’t want to or know how to deal with the paperwork.

Siddiqui noted that there is no majority ethnic group among Muslims in America. This is the seventh wave of Muslim immigrants and the first to survive. Within the broad ethnic spectrum there are seven schools that are African-American. There are two or three Shia schools. Shias will attend the Sunni schools, which is reflection of the economic difficulties of setting up schools, but it also reflects the Qur’anic verse “We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other).” (49:13)

Khan reported that the schools also have non-Muslim students and teachers, and that they often are started at mosques or Islamic centers and often remain as part of them, whereas in other cases they become separate institutions. The degree of diversity varies. There seems to be a lot of ecumenical behavior, more concerned with hiring those who believe in the mission than those who believe in the faith. Siddiqui added that one can find teachers who do not practice the faith instructing children in their responsibilities in the faith.

Siddiqui said that all four of his children graduated from public school but went to Islamic elementary school so they could learn Arabic. They memorized at least one thirtieth of the Qur’an. The biggest criticism is that Islamic schools are trying to isolate their children but the administrators of those schools work to achieve the opposite, arranging sports leagues and debate competitions with other schools.

Khan noted that it has been said that Indians live simultaneously in the 13th and 21st century and opined that the challenge is how to be true to your traditions in the current era. Civic engagement within a religious community correlates with civic engagement with the broader community.

Neal Mcclusky observed that there is evidence that private schools do a better job of teaching the civic values we want public schools to teach but that the popular perception is different. He asked how Islamic schools deal with the fear that they may be inculcating extremism or violence. Siddiqui quoted one Islamic school administrator as saying, “We don’t have time to teach extremism.”

Khan reported that some schools are going away from Islamic branding. Siddiqui said that Islamic schools look for ways by which they may be accountable such as tax filings, accreditation and applying for government funding and voucher money. Many schools use the same textbooks as public schools, except for Islamic studies.

I asked whether their systematic research supports my personal anecdotal observation that the Islamic schools tend to increase in diversity as they grow and then split into more homogeneous schools that again diversify as they grow. Siddiqui replied that divisions are more over ideas or personalities than ethnicity.

Siddiqui said that there are Muslim accrediting agencies. He was uncertain as to the fraction of graduates who go on to college and graduate schools, but believes it is the 90% range.

Siddiqui observed that when there is a scandal in the nonprofit sector it affects the whole sector and when there are charges of extremism against an outlier Islamic school, whether true or false, it affects them all. Yet, at the same time the number of allies and defenders against such generalized attacks has grown.

Noting that there are Christian schools that have used controversial books, McClusky asked if there is a benefit to society to including a wide variety of schools in a school choice program. Siddqiui replied that since funding is the number one barrier to Islamic schools, administrators would support school choice. As a participant in two schools that went from pre-choice to a choice situation, he has seen its success as an equalizer. He thinks the UK, Germany, and Belgium allow designation of where some tax dollars (not a lot) can be directed, and argued that we have to trust our country a little more, saying that it was established on a set of ideas, the positive power of market forces among them. He thinks we have enough regulations and civic society oversight to deal with the risks of choice without fearing inclusion of Islamic schools.

Siddiqui noted that there was a big push to establish Muslim charter schools, but he recommends against creating a charter school only as a means of funding because you will face lawsuits if your intention is to preserve Qur’anic Arabic and Islamic studies. However, if, like the Gulen movement, you do not wish to establish an Islamic school but rather to “enhance the society,” then charter schools are appropriate.

Khan acknowledged that there is a definite lack of special needs education. He asked a cab driver how he was able to send three children to Islamic schools and he said they waived 80% of the charges. Once a school reaches a certain maturity it can start to offer such benefits.

Siddiqui noted that by and large Islamic schools are less expensive than secular private schools and more affordable, relying on philanthropy. School choice laws are complicated; vouchers allow you to increase tuition and some programs would prevent discounts to the poor.

Siddiqui reported that no Shia schools responded to the survey. They did not ask questions along ideological lines. There are a small number of schools that break down along those lines. He doubts one could get enough liberals or salafis to make a purely ideological school as they do in England. He joked that you can’t even find another person in the community who likes the same sweetness in his tea as you do. Khan explained that the operating definition for the survey was schools that defined themselves as Muslim.

Siddiqui opined that by and large people send their children to Islamic schools do better than those who go to other schools, but that Muslim nonprofit organizations in general have to be better nonprofits. Khan quoted a board member of a mosque and Islamic school in Tennessee who asked, “Why should I file with the IRS when I am only accountable to God?” Siddiqui thinks that he is an outlier.

Khan said that there are schools and mosques challenging the norms of gender segregation. He added that there are enough sources within the tradition to challenge these norms without having to go outside the tradition.

They didn’t study weekend schools, which are products of Islamic centers. Islamic centers are not regulated. In the schools studied, principals and teachers are predominately women. The challenge of gender within the Muslim community exists but the challenge of gender within this country exists. Khan  fought for women as an attorney and knows the horror stories; but he said to apply them to all 2,200 of these schools is not justified. Gender inequity is a problem both Muslims and Americans have to solve.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

News and Analysis (2/11/18)

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Is Israel’s increased violence aimed at provoking a regional war that could form a pretext for U.N. intervention to demand Hezbollah abandon its missiles?

“With Islamophobia at historic levels, a Muslim social services provider finds that women who flee to shelters often confront new abuses from non-Muslim survivors and staff members”:

“[I]t was supposed to be a multi-faith prayer room. However, … the Pyeongchang Olympics Gangwon Citizens’ Islam Countermeasure Association, launched its protests specifically against Muslims who were coming for the Winter Olympics”:

“The connection between Middle Eastern and Mexican food goes all the way back to the Moors” but it took a Palestinian and a Mexican to make a culinary exploration of “the political potential between [U.S.] Muslims and Mexicans:

Iranian women protesting legal imposition of the hijab and American Muslim women opposing the stigma against headscarves” alike are demanding recognition of “an individual’s dignity and freedom of choice”:

The overwhelming majority … [of mass casualty attack in the U.S.] was conducted by individuals who were motivated by white supremacist or anti-government ideological beliefs or non-ideological grievances” …

… The Muslim victims of one such crime engaged in “philanthropy [that ranged f]rom helping the homeless to supporting scholarship and Syrian refugees”:

“The current Indian and Israeli governments share a common political vision of repression, exclusion and a blatant disregard of human rights. The real support for Palestine lies with the Indian people, … taking the form of … BDS initiatives”:

Newsy’s Chance Seales reports that  ‘Jihad’ Makes Us Think ‘Terrorism,’ But That’s A Huge Inaccuracy:

News and Analysis (2/8/18)

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Among the keywords Boston police “tracked using Geofeedia … [were] innocuous Arabic words routinely used to discuss religion or community, including ‘ummah’ (which means ‘community’ in Arabic)”:

“[T]he data that underlies it has been connected to a set of interpretations and conclusions . . . that can’t be drawn from how this report was structured” — David Sterman, policy analyst at New America:

“Because we don’t have any power or self-determination. We don’t feel we have freedom. Because everything is centralised by the government”:

“[M]ilitary intelligence officials have been in contact with Muslim Brotherhood figures in prison lately to agree on a deal whereby senior leaders will be freed in exchange for disengaging from politics”:

“Many Muslim doctors across the nation have opened their own facilities funded primarily through donations to help the poor and the uninsured”:

“Mennel Ibtissem’s voice won over the jury on the French TV show, but her political positions alienated pro-Israel and Islamophobic groups”:

“‘Christelle’ allegedly identified a scar on Ramadan’s groin,” but an alleged “plane reservation … would show Ramadan flying from London to Lyon at about the same time the woman said the assault took place”:

“It’s not easy for a girl to find a job and go to work outside of her home in Afghanistan. Now, with just one laptop at home, she can work online and earn money and help her family”:

In just ten years the number of “women … working in the 30 largest Muslim-majority economies” has gone from 100 million to 155 million, mainly due to ” the rise of technology as an enabler of work“:

New and Analysis (2/5/18)

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Before the Israeli High Court ruling two decades ago prohibiting its free use of torture, “physical abuse of Palestinians had been routine and resulted in several deaths in custody.” Since then, Shin Bet has carefully hidden it:

“[A]s a documentary filmmaker, I felt a responsibility to represent the majority of British Muslim women – the ones like me – whose voices, until now, had remained largely unheard”:

“Where they talk of the liberation and freedom of Muslim women, but are silent on Ahed Tamimi. We know that this exclusive brand of white mainstream feminism isn’t really about an all-inclusive sisterhood” …

… and those outraged by the use of tax money to promote fashionable Muslim dress seem unconcerned about Australia’s sale of arms to bomb Yemen that “has helped kill at least 5000 civilians and put seven million at risk of famine”:

The chairperson of the Representative Council of France’s Black Associations says that by dismissing Diallo from the its digital advisory council, the state “‘helped her show how freedom of speech is different based on your color”:

“The Congress-appointed government watchdog for the war in Afghanistan is expressing the concern that the American people are not getting basic facts about the conflict. Analysts agree, and say it’s not going well”:

“I deeply regret that my comments on social media have caused hurt and have undermined my professional record. It was careless and it has caused concern among those who have expressed faith in my ability to effectively lead IOM”:

Stereotypes of Islam “as backward, its teachings and punishments redolent of the Middle Ages and … of Buddhism as the perfect spirituality for the modern age [are] equally a Western fantasy” used “to justify the genocide … of the Rohingya“:

Israeli officials are now convinced “that Egypt is now dependent on them even to control its own territory” and “Sisi has taken … care … to hide the origin of the strikes from all but a limited circle of military and intelligence officers”:

The theme of a conflict between a Palestinian Muslim and a Lebanese Christian transcends its setting: “No one has a monopoly on suffering”:

News and Analysis (2/2/18)

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Both Democrats and Republicans are trying to shut Muslims out:

The man’s conviction for “a murderous terrorist attack on worshippers leaving a mosque” has triggered “a complete review of the national security threat posed by the extreme right”:

The post-ISIS competition is to rebuild the war-torn nation, but with Syria split between Asad and the rebels, aid is highly politicized making successful reconstruction as unlikely as in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya :

“[A]udiences unschooled in the faith [of Islam] can see “Bilal” as a universal saga” but despite “elements of historic profundity and beauty in” the film its “over-earnestness … makes it feel more like a lesson than entertainment”:

NGO’s “often use Western teaching materials that don’t fit the Afghan cultural context, lending the gender equality message a foreign tone. They … don’t point to … Islamic religious teaching about gender” equity:

The police “admitted that the content of the documents they obtained from them is the information that the public already knew. He said the contents are same, … [yet] the court rejected the defense’s application for bail”:

“In 2015, former President John Mahama proclaimed freedom of faith, opening the way for more displays of religion in the secular country”:

“Although local aesthetic values are based on local narratives and ethnic identities, they also sometimes involve implicit critiques of prevalent Western conceptions of beauty”: