As England play their first games of Euro 2012, I’d like to be an England fan. But even though I’m English, it’s hard.
For a start, as a British Muslim, I am unsettled by the sight of England supporters dressed as Christian knights and jovially waving Crusader shields at the European championships in Poland and Ukraine. Footage of last night’s cagey opener with France was interspersed with close-ups of young men dressed in the armour of Knights Templar hordes. There’s an irony in the fact that images of Polish supporters chanting antisemitic slogans and giving Nazi salutes have been met with such deserved outrage, but to brandish a sword and recall the brutal and bloody invasion of Muslim lands is portrayed as harmless banter.
There is an obvious difference of course. I don’t for a second believe that those dressed as Christian knights do so to offend Muslims – I hope not, anyway – whereas there is obvious menace in the sickening behaviour by neo-Nazis. But this doesn’t make it any less disturbing an image for the Muslims in this country and around the world.
The Crusades are romanticised in the west as heroic battles to win back the holy lands in the name of Christianity. But for Muslims they are remembered as two centuries of brutal and unprovoked attacks on Arab lands. To celebrate this in fancy dress recalls a bloody and divisive chapter in Muslim-Christian relations. That may not be the intention of those donning the fake chainmail and helmets but there’s no denying it’s a uniform of war that certainly doesn’t instil a feeling of inclusiveness in me.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONDON GUARDIAN
I was an athlete all through school. I played soccer and basketball for all four years of high school and all four years of college. We played a lot of parochial schools in our league. They would pray before games and again afterwards. We also played Orthodox Jewish schools and had to plan our games around Jewish holidays. I don’t ever remember there being any conflict about the fact that we were playing religiously oriented teams so I was rather surprised to read about the recent controversy in Texas.
Image source: Imanacademy.org
Iman Academy, an Islamic school in Texas with 500 students, was hoping to join the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), an organization that manages competition among hundreds of schools in the state. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that a traditionally Christian organization was less than thrilled at Iman Academy’s interest in membership. But I can’t see how athletic association between schools has anything whatsoever to do with religion.
TAPPS has a history of religious intolerance. Recently the school refused to reschedule a game against an Orthodox Jewish team. The game fell on the Sabbath. Negative publicity and legal pressure shamed TAPPS into acquiescing but their stance on non-Christian religious observance is clear: non-Christian holidays simply aren’t as important as Christian holidays and don’t need to be respected.
FULL ARTICLE FROM MY FELLOWAMERICAN BLOG
With 500 students, increasing academic prestige and an established soccer team, Iman Academy SW, an Islamic school in Houston, was seeking membership in 2010 to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, a group that organizes competition among more than 200 schools in the state.
In addition to an application form, Iman Academy SW was given a questionnaire. Among the questions:
¶ “Historically, there is nothing in the Koran that fully embraces Christianity or Judaism in the way a Christian and/or a Jew understands his religion. Why, then, are you interested in joining an association whose basic beliefs your religion condemns?”
¶ “It is our understanding that the Koran tells you not to mix with (and even eliminate) the infidels. Christians and Jews fall into that category. Why do you wish to join an organization whose membership is in disagreement with your religious beliefs?”
¶ “How does your school address certain Christian concepts? (i.e. celebrating Christmas)”
The private-schools association, known by the acronym Tapps, was established in the 1970s to coordinate sports among Christian schools. The organization drew national attention this week when it refused to reschedule a state semifinal boys basketball game for an Orthodox Jewish day school, which could not play at the scheduled time because its players observe the Sabbath.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
Jerusalem (CNN) – Less than a week after the arson of a mosque in northern Israel, dozens of Christian and Muslim graves were vandalized in an Arab section of the Israeli city of Jaffa.
More thahan 100 graves were vandalized in the Muslim cemetery of al-Kazakhana and at a nearby Christian cemetery in the Ajami neighborhood of Jaffa, according to residents and a CNN producer who visited the locations.
Some of the graves were spray painted with graffiti while others were smashed.
Residents say the vandalism took place Friday evening as the Yom Kippur holiday was beginning in Israel, but police suggested it might have taken place a day or two prior.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN INTERNATIONAL
Following months of denials, the FBI is now promising a “comprehensive review of all training and reference materials” after Danger Room revealed a series of Bureau presentations that tarred average Muslims as “radical” and “violent.”
But untangling the Islamophobic thread woven into the FBI’s counterterrorism training culture won’t be easy. In addition to inflammatory seminars which likened Islam to the Death Star and Mohammed to a “cult leader,” Danger Room has obtained more material showing just how wide the anti-Islam meme has spread throughout the Bureau.
The FBI library at Quantico currently stacks books from authors who claim that “Islam and democracy are totally incompatible.” The Bureau’s private intranet recently featured presentations that claimed to demonstrate the “inherently violent nature of Islam,” according to multiple sources. Earlier this year, the Bureau’s Washington Field Office welcomed a speaker who claimed Islamic law prevents Muslims from being truly loyal Americans. And as recently as last week, the online orientation material for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces included claims that Sunni Islam seeks “domination of the world,” according to a law enforcement source.
FULL STORY FROM WIRED
It was a Tuesday evening in August 2010 when a 21-year-old art student from suburban New York hailed a taxi cab on a Manhattan street, carrying a couple of notebooks, an empty bottle of scotch and a folding knife. After asking the cabbie if he was a Muslim, the student, Michael Enright, muttered “consider this a checkpoint” before slashing at the driver’s neck and eventually fleeing through the car window.
The driver, Ahmed H. Sharif, survived with relatively minor injuries. Enright, who had actually visited Afghanistan earlier that year as part of a group aiming to promote interfaith dialogue, was arrested and charged with a hate crime.
The attack may well have been the most acute example of anti-Islamic sentiment last summer, but it was hardly the only one. For months, a debate raged over the plan to build an Islamic center within several blocks of the World Trade Center site – with critics weighing in from around the country, including some family members of 9/11 victims. In Florida, the Rev. Terry Jones threatened to burn a Quran if the proposed site wasn’t moved. (Efforts to block the center’s approval failed and Jones, though he backed away from his initial threat, went through with a Quran-burning in March after finding the Muslim holy book guilty of crimes against humanity in a televised “trial.”)
FULL ARTICLE FROM CBS NEWS
A few years ago, the respected Cambridge scholar T J Winter, also known by his Muslim name of Abdal Hakim Murad, gave a fascinating lecture to Humanities staff and students at the University of Leicester. The title was “Islam and the threat of the West”, turning on its head the more usual – then and now – “Islam and the threat to the West”.
It was a novel approach which, in a nutshell, illustrated that, historically, aggression has been directed more from Europe to the Muslim world than the other way round. His evidence for such a view was impeccably sourced.
I thought about Abdal Hakim’s talk this morning as I read the reports coming in of the dreadful bombing and shooting in Norway wherein, of course, there was speculation that these two events were “Islamic-terror related”. No doubt we will learn more over the coming days, but the early signs are, in fact, that the perpetrator was a “blond, blue-eyed Norwegian” with “political traits towards the right, and anti-Muslim views”. Not surprisingly, the man’s intentions were neither linked to these “traits”, nor to his postings on “websites with Christian fundamentalist tendencies”. Any influence “remains to be seen”; echoes of Oklahoma 1995.
Interestingly, this criminal is described by one unnamed Norwegian official as a “madman”. He may well be, but this is one way that the motivations for heinous crimes can be airbrushed out of the story before they have the chance to take hold in the popular imagination.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
In the immediate wake of the bombing and mass shooting inNorway that left at least 92 people dead Friday, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg declared that it was too early to say whether terrorism was involved.
Some interpreted the statement to mean it was unclear whether Muslim extremists were behind the attack.
Right-wing websites quickly pointed the finger at “jihadis,” and Pamela Geller, publisher of the website Atlas Shrugs and executive director of Stop Islamization of America, wrote on her site: “You can ignore jihad, but you cannot avoid the consequences of ignoring jihad.”
Counter-terrorism experts soon weighed in, implicating Al Qaeda.
Then Anders Behring Breivik, described by police as a “right-wing Christian fundamentalist,” was arrested in connection with the attacks.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
Editor’s note: Dean Obeidallah is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on various TV shows including Comedy Central’s “Axis of Evil” special, ABC’s “The View,” and CNN’s “What the Week” and “The Joy Behar Show.” He is executive producer of the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and The Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival. Follow him on Twitter.
(CNN) – Herman Cain, Republican presidential candidate and winner of this year’s Arizona and Georgia Tea Party straw polls, has a campaign slogan: “Lets Get Real.”
So I guess he was just keeping it real when he recently declared that he was not “comfortable” appointing an American-Muslim to his Cabinet or to a federal judgeship
FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN