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FACEBOOK PAGE: CHRISTIANS UNITED AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA
Days after communal violence rocked central Myanmar in late March, leaving more than 40 people dead and raising tensions in the mostly Buddhist country, a group of Muslims and a group of Buddhists decided enough was enough.
Thet Swe Win, a Buddhist, and his friend Minn Paing Soe, a Muslim, gathered with some of their colleagues from Yangon’s active civil society scene to see if they could work together on lowering tensions.
It wasn’t an easy conversation, even for these socially conscious, longtime friends. But then, nothing has been simple about the emergence of anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar following the end of decades of autocratic rule.
“We had a very long discussion that day and we got into a lot of arguments,” says Thet Swe Win, a construction manager by day, and the director of the Myanmar Youth Empowerment Program in the evenings. Instead of focusing on blame and disagreements over religion, the activists decided to look for a solution.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
Earlier this year, I wrote a excruciatingly detailed feature article describing how Wretched TV had deceptively edited footage of some Christian street preachers at the Arabfest in Dearborn, Michigan, in order to portray the Muslims in attendance as violent, bloodthirsty foreigners. I pointed out that the “Christian” preachers were led by Ruban Israel, a notorious street preacher (who was and is not supported by or connected to Wretched TV) who went to the festival specifically to agitate and incite the Muslims. If you look at unedited footage of the event, it’s clear that the “Christians” were inciting Muslims to hate, which, of course, never justifies violence, but it does explain why it happens.
I bring this up because it’s happened again. Ruben Israel returned this year to the Arab Festival and once again incited the festival goers to scream and yell and throw trash. Although Wretched TV did not report the story this year, it was picked up by The Blaze, American Vision, American Thinker, FrontPage Magazine, and other, smaller conservative websites.
Each of these reports has included and cited a YouTube video edited by The United West, a group “dedicated to defending and advancing Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam.” Good journalism would demand that these sites check their source and consider possible biases, but, for whatever reason, these conservative news sites report on the event as if the video was an accurate representation of what occurred. But it was not. Not at all. Here’s United West’s video:
I wish I had the time and energy to point out every deceptive edit in this video and all the manipulative ways in which this event was reported on, but I don’t. So here’s a short list, and if you’re interested in seeing more, watch the unedited, hour long YouTube video of the incident. Watch carefully. It looks a lot different if you’re paying attention.
FULL ARTICLE (WITH VIDEO) FROM PATHEOS
Last week, I had an essay up on HuffPost entitled “An Atheist Muslim’s Perspective on the ‘Root Causes’ of Islamist Jihadism and the Politics of Islamophobia.”
One of the goals of the piece was to emphasize the difference between the criticism of Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry: the first targets an ideology, and the second targets human beings. This is obviously a very significant difference, yet both are frequently lumped under the unfortunate umbrella term, “Islamophobia.”
I highlighted this distinction by describing myself as an “atheist Muslim,” which drew the single most commonly asked question about the piece by both atheist and Muslim readers: “How can you be an atheist and a Muslim at the same time? Isn’t that contradictory?”
Let me explain.
One of the central themes of the essay was that all religious people are selective in their religiosity. This cherry-picking is almost universal, and even inevitable considering the frequency with which contradictions appear in religious texts.
If this selectivity allows people to disregard some of the teachings of their faith, such as the orders to publicly execute non-virginal brides and homosexuals, or behead and mutilate disbelievers, it may not be a bad thing, for obvious reasons — even if it appears intellectually dishonest.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST
ALBANY, N.Y. — A Muslim group is accusing a Christian organization of defamation for publishing a book that accuses the Muslim collective of holding terrorist training in its enclaves.
The Christian Action Network refuses to back down, challenging Muslims of America Inc. to prove the allegations wrong in an upstate New York court.
The Muslim group has a community in Hancock, near Binghamton, N.Y., and others around the U.S. It calls the network’s accusations deliberate and damaging lies.
Attorney Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said the Muslim group is seeking retractions and $18 million in damages, and a halt to further publication of network founder Martin Mawyer’s 2012 book, “Twilight in America: the Untold Story of Terrorist Training Camps Inside America.”
The group’s residential communities are peaceful, Amatul-Wadud said.
“The property upstate has farms; it has gardens; it has buildings for work; it has little stores,” she said. “It’s a community of families and of individuals who are just trying to get by day to day.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
Eight days after Iran held a two-day conference denying the Nazi Holocaust, Washington-area Muslim leaders gathered at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to honor the memory of Jews murdered during the Shoah.
Standing before the eternal flame in the D.C. museum’s Hall of Remembrance, they lit candles to remember Jewish suffering.
Muslims “have to learn from the lessons of history and to commit ourselves, never again,” said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) in Sterling.
Joining him were American University professor Akbar Ahmed, who helped arrange the visit on Wednesday of last week, museum director Sara Bloomfield, three Holocaust survivors, ADAMS president Rizwan Jaka and representatives from the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Arab American Institute.
Magid, whose father had been a mufti of Sudan, had heard about the Teheran conference on his car radio. He wanted to go beyond condemning the event by organizing a delegation of Muslim leaders to declare their solidarity with Jewish victims.
“No Muslim anywhere has the right to turn Holocaust denial into an Islamic cause,” the Sudanese native said. “I applaud the Jewish community for making sure humanity never forgets how the Nazis murdered Jews, gypsies and disabled people, including more than 1 million children. They set an example for the rest of us on how to make people more aware of horrors like the genocide in Rwanda and slavery.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM WASHINGTON JEWISH WEEK
ELKADER, Iowa — Amid an expanse of undulating farmland, deep in the steep valley carved by the Turkey River, the town of Elkader sits most of the year in remote obscurity. Population 1,200 and gradually shrinking, it is the seat of a county without a single traffic light.
Improbably enough, this community settled by Germans and Scandinavians, its religious life built around Catholic and Lutheran churches, bears the name of a Muslim hero. Abd el-Kader was renowned in the 19th century for leading Algeria’s fight for independence and protecting non-Muslims from persecution. Even Abraham Lincoln extolled him.
This weekend, for the fifth year in a row, Elkader will welcome a delegation of Arab dignitaries to celebrate this rare lifeline of tolerance, spanning continents and centuries. Coming less than three weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, which the authorities say were committed by two Muslim brothers, the Abdelkader Education Project’s forum stands more than ever for an affirming encounter between the United States and Islam.
“Our audience is the people who are compassionate already,” said Kathy Garms, 63, a retired human-resources administrator who is the driving force in the Abdelkader project. “But there are so many people who are ignorant or scared or even hateful. We just hope that once they get across the starting line, they will listen.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
A group of Muslim, Jewish and Christian chefs from Chefs for Peace, along with American celebrity chef Art Smith, gathered on April 28 in Jerusalem to cook vegetarian dishes for a group of 60 guests, including US diplomats and alumni and students from various universities in the United States.
The ceremony took place in one of the best-known restaurants in Jerusalem, Eucalyptus, owned by award-winning chef Moshe Bassam, who is known for including ingredients mentioned in the Bible in his dishes and for his love of the history behind foods. “Moshe is a living treasure of Israel,” said Smith. “We went to the countryside to pick up wild thyme, asparagus and wild mushrooms [before the event].”
Bassam is not the only person who takes pride in using homegrown herbs and vegetables. “I brought grapes from the [US] South to use in my dish during the weekend,” said Smith.
Each of the five chefs — four from Chefs for Peace plus Smith — prepared their dishes in front their guests. Smith’s dish, not surprisingly, was made of wild mushrooms, grapes and local herbs. Johnny Goric, another chef and the organizer of the event, made a Mediterranean lentil salad.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR
The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world reject violence.They also hold socially conservative views: 90 per cent think homosexuality is wrong, 84 per cent believe sex outside of marriage is a sin, and 77 per cent think abortion is wrong. Yes, the latest Pew Research could be shrunk to a soundbite: Muslims sound like conservative Christians.
It’s an enlightening survey – showing just how varied, because widespread, Islam is. Look at the attitudes to polygamy: five per cent of Nigerians think it wrong while 85 per cent of those living in Bosnia-Herzegovina do. Again, more than 70 per cent of Saudis believe an apostate (someone who leaves their Muslim faith) should be executed while only 13 per cent of those in southeastern Europe do.
Talk of “Muslim” attitudes is tricky: a Muslim living in Beirut will have little in common with the mindset of the Muslim in Jedda. Similarly, a Muslim in Mali may harbour exactly the same hostility to gays as a Christian in Memphis. Every faith (and atheism is no exception) has its dark but deep-rooted prejudices – even in “tolerant” Britain. Mehdi Hasan has written about anti-Semitism among Muslims, while Baroness Warsi spoke out about Islamophobia at dinner parties among the bien-pensants. And we all know what secularists think of Christians.
More recently, in an address to the Board of Deputies a fortnight ago, Lady Warsi challenged the Muslim and Jewish communities to face their “wild” stereotypes about one another. Muslims should stop resenting Jewish success. Jews should stop suspecting that every statement against Israel masks an anti-Semitic attack. “To say so, would be like saying that any criticism of the politics of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was anti-Muslim.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)