Muslim White House staffer quits, slamming Trump’s travel ban

rumana-ahmed-11-e1487872045737A Muslim staffer on the National Security Council quit eight days into the Trump administration, citing President Trump’s travel ban as the motivating factor in a personal account published Thursday by The Atlantic.

Rumana Ahmed joined the White House in 2011 and said she decided to stay on with the Trump administration in the hope of giving “the new president and his aides, a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.”

“Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this – or because of it – I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration,” Ahmed wrote.

But she lasted just eight days, ultimately motivated to quit after the president signed an executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries and halting entrance of all Syrian refugees. Enforcement of the order has been halted while legal challenges play out in court, and the administration is expected to release a revamped version in the coming days.

“I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat,” Ahmed wrote.

She said the administration’s treatment of Muslims would fuel the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by legitimizing its propaganda.

“The Administration’s plans to revamp the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus solely on Muslims and use terms like ‘radical Islamic terror,’ legitimize ISIS propaganda and allow the dangerous rise of white-supremacist extremism to go unchecked,” Ahmed wrote.

She also suggested national security officials have little sway in the new administration.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MSN

I Am a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Not a Terrorist

23haddad-master768TORA, Egypt — I write this from the darkness of solitary confinement in Egypt’s most notorious prison, where I have been held for more than three years. I am forced to write these words because an inquiry is underway in the United States regarding charges that the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization to which I have devoted years of my life, is a terrorist group.

We are not terrorists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s philosophy is inspired by an understanding of Islam that emphasizes the values of social justice, equality and the rule of law. Since its inception in 1928, the Brotherhood has lived in two modes: surviving in hostile political environments or uplifting society’s most marginalized. As such, we have been written about, spoken of, but rarely heard from. It is in that spirit that I hope these words find light.

We are a morally conservative, socially aware grass-roots movement that has dedicated its resources to public service for the past nine decades. Our idea is very simple: We believe that faith must translate into action. That the test of faith is the good you want to do in the lives of others, and that people working together is the only way to develop a nation, meet the aspirations of its youth and engage the world constructively. We believe that our faith is inherently pluralistic and comprehensive and that no one has a divine mandate or the right to impose a single vision on society.

Since our inception, we have been engaged politically in the institutions of our country as well as socially to address the direct needs of people. Despite being the most persecuted group under former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule in Egypt, our involvement in the Parliament, either in coalitions with other political groups or as independents, is a testament to our commitment to legal change and reform. We spoke truth to power in an environment full of rubber-stamp parties. We worked with independent pro-democracy organizations against plans to hand the presidency to Mr. Mubarak’s son. We also worked closely with an array of professional syndicates and labor unions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES

US Muslim community campaigns to repair Jewish cemetery

_94790553_cemetery2A US Muslim-led fundraising project to help repair a Jewish cemetery that was vandalised has raised almost three times its $20,000 (£16,000) target.

The crowdfunding campaign, which calls for “solidarity with the Jewish-American community”, aims to help “rebuild this sacred space”.

More than 170 headstones were damaged at the Jewish cemetery in St Louis, Missouri on Monday.

It comes after a string of anti-Semitic threats targeting the Jewish community.

The fundraising effort, launched by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, has received nearly 2,000 donations and has raised more than $55,000 (£44,000).

“Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration,” the fundraising page states.

The project, which is still accepting funds, aims to repair damage at the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St Louis, but the campaigners said that any additional funds raised would be used to “assist other vandalised Jewish centres nationwide”.


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On Tuesday, the Muslim organisations the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations both spoke out against the vandalism.

“We encourage our members to reach out to their local synagogue and Jewish neighbours to express their solidarity and support and to generously support the rebuilding of the recently desecrated cemetery,” ISNA President Azhar Azeez said in a statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS 

Ohio, Where Muslim and Christian Refugees Form ‘Impossible’ Friendships

lead_960Stepping out of an apartment complex into a warm Ohio night, Nashwaan Saddoon got into an old minivan and drove through Toledo to a hookah joint called Rocket Lounge. Sitting beside him was his friend, Amjad Arafeh. The two men had met only five months earlier, but they lived in the same building and already they were very close, despite their different backgrounds. Saddoon, an Iraqi Christian refugee, had been kidnapped and held hostage by Islamic State militants a few years before. Arafeh, a Syrian Muslim refugee, had escaped shelling and bombing in Damascus.

When the minivan pulled up to Rocket Lounge, Saddoon and Arafeh joined the group of Arabs and Midwesterners assembled outside for their monthly Sawa gathering. Sawa, which means “together” in Arabic, is a community initiative designed to introduce refugees to Americans and to each other

At this particular gathering, someone needed a letter from the Lucas County Department of Jobs and Family Services translated from English into Arabic. He passed the paper around to get advice from the other men, including a refugee from Sudan, a Syrian American who had arrived four years earlier, a Toledo resident named Jake, and a case manager from a local refugee assistance organization.

Amid the serious business, men cracked jokes and took jabs at one another. Some seemed eager to have a guys’ night out, while others, in their silence, were harder to gauge. Saddoon and Arafeh sat side by side, chatting and laughing.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

 

 

Crowd Flocks To Times Square For ‘Today, I Am A Muslim Too’ Rally

mayor_bill_de_blasio_0219A crowd flooded Times Square Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, claiming they target Muslims.

The order, which was placed on hold earlier this month by a federal judge, banned travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also banned all refugees from across the globe. On Feb. 9, a three judge panel from the the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the temporary ban.

But at the rally, organized by music producer and businessman Russell Simmons, speakers said Muslims are under “increasing threat and pressure” under the Trump administration. The rally was titled, “Today, I am a Muslim Too.”

“(Trump) will leave a legacy of hate in America moving toward greater love,” Simmons said. “All of the diversity that we see here today will prevail, and America will go back to moving toward a more loving place.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the speakers at the rally.

“Here’s the message I want to give as mayor of this city, to everyone who’s here. Regardless of your faith or your background or where you were born, this is your city,” de Blasio said. “And to everybody, this is your country too. This is your country too. And think about the origins of this country – a country founded by people fleeing religious persecution. A country founded to respect all faiths and all beliefs. This is who we are as Americans, and this must be protected.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CBS NEWS 

I learned a lot about Islam –and biases I didn’t know I had

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous the first time I visited the Concord mosque.

It was a pleasant October afternoon, a Friday, and I attended the prayer service at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord to find out what Muslims thought of the 2016 presidential election.

I planned my outfit that day carefully – long sleeves and pants to cover up – and I asked the mosque president, Hubert Mask, if I should put something over my head. He said there was no need.

After parking outside the East Concord Community Center, I took a deep breath, straightened the scarf around my neck and went inside.

It was relatively empty five minutes before Jum’ah prayers began at 1 p.m., so I took off my shoes where I saw a few others lined up and went looking for Mask. He greeted me with a handshake and showed me into the prayer room downstairs, where his wife, Faizah, offered me a chair to observe from.

Several more women trickled in and took their place on the small prayer rugs angled towards Mecca. The Arabic recitations were unfamiliar to me – I tried to figure out the pattern in which the women stood up, got down on their knees, and then, in the posture so commonly associated with Islam, put their foreheads to the ground, their stocking feet poking out beneath them.

I perked up once the imam began his service, which was delivered in English. I heard ideas familiar to the ones expressed in my own church on Sunday: keeping patience through tribulation and responding to challenges with faith and peace.

They seemed particularly comforting as America navigated its way through the last month of an extremely divisive, anxiety-inducing election.

It wasn’t until the weekend after Nov. 8 that I returned to the mosque. I covered an anti-Trump protest earlier in the day, and after standing in the middle of protesters and counter-protesters shouting at each other over my head in downtown Manchester, the mosque was an oasis of quiet and warmth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONCORD MONITOR 

Inside the anti-Muslim organization that has ties to the White House

ctl-islam-trump-cair-act-muslim-20170217-001Roy White wants to inform as many Americans as possible about the terrorists he sees in their midst.

The lean, 62-year-old Air Force veteran strode into the Texas State Capitol in late January wearing a charcoal-gray pinstripe suit and an American flag tie, with the mission of warning all 181 lawmakers about a Muslim group sponsoring a gathering of Texas Muslims at the Capitol the following day. Although the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) works to promote Muslim civil rights across America, White wanted to convince lawmakers that it is actually working to infiltrate the U.S. government and destroy American society from within.

“They’re jihadists wearing suits,” White said of CAIR and other Muslim organizations. “That’s a tough thing for us to wrap our heads around because we don’t feel threatened.”

White is the San Antonio chapter president of ACT for America, an organization that brands itself as “the nation’s largest grass-roots national security advocacy organization” and attacks what it sees as the creeping threat of sharia, or Islamic law, in the form of Muslim organizations, mosques, refugees and sympathetic politicians.

The group has found allies among a coterie of anti-Muslim organizations, speakers and Christian fundamentalists, as well as with some state lawmakers. Bill Zedler, a Texas Republican state representative, said during a recent forum supported by ACT that he fears political correctness is masking the real problem: “Regardless of whether it’s al-Qaida, or CAIR, or the Islamic State, they just have different methodology for the destruction of Western civilization.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE