CAIR to boycott White House Eid celebration over Israel support

The Muslim advocacy group said it was “incredibly disappointed and deeply disturbed” by the administration’s position in response to the violence.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Saturday said it will boycott the traditional White House Eid celebration in protest at the Biden administration’s actions amid escalating violence between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, assuring him of U.S. support for Israel as it fends off Hamas-fired rockets and retaliates with airstrikes in Gaza. “My expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself,” Biden told reporters. The two leaders also talked Saturday, according to an Israeli readout.

In a statement, the Muslim advocacy group said it was “incredibly disappointed and deeply disturbed” by the administration’s position in response to the violence. “President Biden has the political power and moral authority to stop these injustices. We urge him to stand on the side of the victims and not the victimizer,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad added.

On Saturday, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of the Associated Press and other media outlets, in a strike that came hours after another Israeli air raid on a densely populated refugee camp in Gaza City killed at least 10 Palestinians from an extended family, mostly children, in the deadliest single strike of the current conflict. The spiraling violence has raised fears of a new Palestinian “intifada,” or uprising at a time when there have been no peace talks in years.


Why Jerusalem’s Aqsa Mosque Is an Arab-Israeli Fuse

The mosque sits on a site sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews, and it is a chronic flash point in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Dome of the Rock shrine, which is in the Aqsa compound.Credit…Oded Balilty/Associated Press

By Rick GladstonePublished May 10, 2021Updated May 12, 2021Leer en español

The violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem this month reflect its significance as part of one of the most contested pieces of religious territory in the Holy Land.

Here are some basics on the mosque compound, from its importance over the centuries for three major religions to why it is such a flash point today.

A view of the mosque, and the Old City, from the Mount of Olives.
A view of the mosque, and the Old City, from the Mount of Olives.Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

The Aqsa Mosque is one of the holiest structures in the Islamic faith.

The mosque sits inside a 35-acre site known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews as the Temple Mount. The site is part of the Old City of Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.


Sheikh Jarrah highlights the violent brazenness of Israel’s colonialist project

Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and associate professor at Rutgers University. She is the author of “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.” Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian writer and researcher based in Ramallah.

The young Palestinian writer Mohammed El-Kurd sits quietly in front of his laptop with a grin on his face, preparing for the launch of his most recent manuscript, “Rifqa.” He seems excited, anxious and afraid all at once, as he revises his poems and the paragraphs about his grandmother. She died at 103 defending her home from Israeli settlers who had already squatted in one part of it. El-Kurd seems to clutch onto his words in an attempt to ensure that the memory of his grandmother, of himself and his lineage, remains with him.

Some believe that what is documented cannot be lost, but El-Kurd’s calm is broken when we speak of his Jerusalem neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah, where he and his sister Muna are now trying to highlight the grave violations happening there as they face forced eviction.

Sheikh Jarrah is now practically a war zone as armed Israeli settlers, under the protection of Israeli police, terrorize the Palestinian residents. These are the very settlers who are looking to kick out families, including El-Kurd’s.

Sheikh Jarrah is the latest flashpoint of Israel’s expansionist project. The threats of eviction are part of what Palestinians describe as their “ongoing Nakba,” because the removal and forced exile of 80 percent of historic Palestine’s native population between 1947 and 1949 was not a singular event. It is the same reality we saw in Khan al-Ahmar, and in Araqib before that, and it is how every settlement was solidified, from Tel Aviv in 1948 to the newer settlements of Maali Adumim and Givat Hamatos in the West Bank.

Zionist settlement remains an ongoing process that seeks to remove Palestinian natives and replace them with Jewish-Zionists. In Jerusalem, the forced removals echo throughout the West Bank, throughout Gaza and among Palestinians forcibly exiled in the global diaspora.


What’s behind the clashes in Jerusalem?

JERUSALEM (AP) — For weeks now, Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed on a daily basis in and around Jerusalem’s Old City, home to major religious sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and the emotional epicenter of the Middle East conflict.

Jerusalem has been the scene of violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs for 100 years and remains one of the most bitterly contested cities on earth. The latest clashes began a month ago with an Israeli move to block some Palestinian gatherings at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, already a time of heightened religious sensitivities. After those restrictions eased, tensions over a plan to evict dozens of Palestinians from an east Jerusalem neighborhood continued to fuel confrontations.

On Monday, stun grenades echoed across a holy hilltop compound, and hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Police were also injured.

Here’s a look at why Jerusalem always seems to be on edge — and what set off the latest round of violence.


Israel views Jerusalem as its “unified, eternal” capital. It had captured east Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, in the 1967 Mideast war, along with the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians want those territories for their future state, with east Jerusalem serving as their eventual capital. But Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in a move not recognized internationally.

The fate of east Jerusalem has been one of the thorniest issues in the peace process, which ground to a halt more than a decade ago.


French minister: Muslims are the main victims of radical Islam

  • We need to prevent young people from enrolling into radical groups via social media,’ Marlene Schiappa says
  • Marlene Schiappa: ‘We must fight racism and prejudices, conveyed in particular by the extreme right movement in France’

PARIS: The first victims of radical Islam around the world are Muslims and this radical movement is an insult to French citizens of Muslim faith who observe their religion peacefully, according to Marlene Schiappa, French minister delegate in charge of citizenship.

Speaking to Arab News, she said: “Our objective will be to fight radical Islam by providing the locally elected with concrete tools to better control foreign funding and grants to associations, and thus counter hotbeds of separatism . . . we also need to prevent young people from enrolling into radical groups via social media, and falling prey to the Daesh propaganda.”

On April 11, the walls of the Avicenna Islamic Cultural Center in Rennes were covered with offensive tags against Muslims. Asked for her reaction to such Islamophobic acts committed in France, she said: “As the interior minister said, this is an insult to the country. In France, in 2021, we cannot condone the act of offending millions of innocent citizens who have no problems with the country as such. This is not my vision of France. I strongly condemn these acts, and I was very shocked by these outrageous tags.”


American Airlines CEO Fasts For Ramadan To Honor Muslim Employees

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker says he joined in a Ramadan fast in an effort to empathize with the carrier’s Muslim employees.

“The core of fasting is empathy,” Parker wrote Friday, in a LinkedIn post, quoting from an invitation he received from a Muslim employee group.

“Fasting helps us feel others’ pain, suffering, loneliness, poverty and hunger,” the invitation said. “In a way, it connects us as humans. Refrain from eating and drinking to experience what it’s like for Muslims to fast, and also to step into the shoes of impoverished people.”

The post is the latest in a series of actions by major airlines to show support for popular causes including voting rights, LGBTQ rights and carbon neutrality. By Tuesday, Parker’s post on LinkedIn had attracted 13,353 reactions and 536 comments.

Most were positive, and thanked Parker for showing respect. One, from Egypt said, “I find it awesome that you managed to fast all these long hours when you did not have to.”

However, a subset of comments decried a supposed lack of similar attention to Christian employees. One from Fort Worth said “I wish you had the same recognition and praise for Christian believers in the company. Christians fast regularly for the same reasons. I’ve never seen any special mention or recognition along that line.”


‘Iberian Moorings’ compares Muslim and Jewish golden ages

Known to Jews, Muslims, and Christians by three different names – Sefarad, al-Andalus, and Hispania, respectively – the Iberian Peninsula has been a center of fertile intellectual, cultural and spiritual production for multiple religious traditions.

book cover: Iberian Moorings

In his new book “Iberian Moorings,” Ross Brann, Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, compares the histories of the Jewish and Muslim traditions in the Iberian Peninsula between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, tracing how Islamic al-Andalus and Jewish Sefarad were invested with special political, cultural and historical significance across the Middle Ages.

For centuries, Brann wrote, scholars have celebrated the “Islamic Spain” of the medieval period and a “Golden Age of the Jews of Spain” during the same time.

“They designated al-Andalus or Sefarad as a place where exceptional social and religious tolerance prevailed and produced far-reaching intellectual and cultural achievement,” Brann wrote. “Al-Andalus and Sefarad have long since metabolized and come to constitute tropes of culture with histories of their own, fertilized and constructed by the interface of memory and the history constructed from it, the literary imagination and geographical desire. The tropes persisted as powerful and comforting, if nostalgic, signs of Andalusi-ness and Sefardi-ness, even when al-Andalus and Sefarad were no more.”

The Muslim polity of al-Andalus ended and the Jews, a minority population, were expelled from Spain in 1492 by royal charter. The same year, Christopher Columbus sailed west.


Young, Muslim and progressive: is another AOC-style upset brewing in New York?

Steinway is a bustling and noisy street in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The area locally referred to as “Little Egypt” is brimming with people grocery shopping and bicyclists rushing in and out of shawarma shops to deliver their next order. It’s a north African, south-west Asian neighborhood made up of small businesses like halal butcher shops, hookah lounges and Middle Eastern restaurants.

For Rana Abdelhamid, this neighborhood is home. On 14 April, Abdelhamid announced her run against the incumbent Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney to represent New York’s 12th congressional district, a region made up of a significant portion of Manhattan’s East Side, Astoria and north Brooklyn. It ranges from the fantastically wealthy penthouse apartments that line Manhattan’s Central Park to the struggling working-class areas where Abdelhamid grew up.

If elected, Abdelhamid would be one of the youngest members to ever serve in Congress and the third Muslim woman ever elected to the House.She has received the endorsement of Justice Democrats, a powerful progressive activist group that was instrumental in the victories of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman in their respective New York primary elections.

Just as AOC and Bowman beat long-established Democrats and then rapidly ascended to prominence on left of the party, so Justice Democrats hope Abdelhamid will continue the trend of a leftwing revolution sweeping across New York City that has already had a major impact on national American politics.

“My history in this district is rooted in my organizing, in my community, in my spirituality, in my education. I feel really connected. It comes from a place of love. This is why I’m doing it,” she told the Guardian in an interview at an outdoor cafe in Astoria.


History of women’s rights in Islam

Women’s rights have been a controversial topic throughout history. In Islam, men and women have similar rights, and in some areas women actually enjoy certain privileges that the men do not. In terms of property, married and divorced women have been given rights, and in fact at each turn they have been considered and provided for as appropriate. It is true to say that Islam gave women rights that are unparalleled in the history of women.

Prophet Muhammad said, “A person who is blessed with a daughter or daughters and makes no discrimination between them and his sons and brings them up with kindness and affection, will be as close to me in Paradise as my forefinger and middle finger are to each other.”

The Holy Quran repeatedly proclaims men and women’s equality in spiritual status: “But who so does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven.” (Ch.4: V.125)

Regarding education for girls, Prophet Muhammad said: “It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge.” On the economic front, Islam entitles women to possess money, property and other assets.


Interfaith dialogue can become a path to enlightenment, wonder and healing

“From the cowardice that dare not face new truth,

From the laziness that is contented with half truth,

From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,

Good Lord deliver me.”

—a Kenyan prayer, from “The Catholic Prayer Book”

This past weekend, I spoke via Zoom to a Lexington group called the Christian-Muslim Dialogue, which, as its name implies, is made up of Christians and Muslims who meet regularly to discuss religion and related matters.

I made a presentation to the group, and that was followed by discussion among the members and me.

I found the experience inspiring, and it reminded me why it’s important for people walking different paths to stay in touch with each other. Living in a fairly homogeneous corner of Kentucky, I don’t get to have interfaith conversations often.

In my presentation, I offered four observations about interfaith (and also interdenominational) dialogues that I think make them important.

First, if we hope to grow spiritually, it’s helpful to be able to hold more than one thought in our head at the same time. Getting to know people from other belief systems—whether we’re Muslims meeting Christians, or evangelical Protestants meeting Roman Catholics, or Mormons meeting Buddhists—introduces us to ideas, personal histories and theological traditions we might not have encountered before.