Countering Irrational Attacks on Islam: A religion Pop Quiz

OK, put your books away. We’re having a pop quiz.

Below are four quotes. Each is from one of two sources: the Bible or the Quran, although, just to make things interesting, there’s also a chance all four are from one book. Two were edited for length and one of those was also edited to remove a religion-specific reference. Your job: identify the holy book of origin. Ready? Go:

— “… Wherever you encounter (nonbelievers), kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post. …”

— “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

— “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ … do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

— “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

All right, pens down. How did you do?



Nearly 7 in 10 Americans OK with Mosque in Their Community

A new poll shows that a majority of Americans would be okay with a mosque in their community.


(Photo: AP/Rockford Register Star, Scott Morgan)
This photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2010, shows the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford mosque being built in Rockford, Ill. Muslims have been a part of the Rockford community for at least 20 years, but they haven’t had a prominent physical structure on the city’s landscape that visibly symbolizes their presence. The brick octagon-shaped building topped by a gold dome and featuring a green and gold minaret is the latest addition to the Muslim Community Center. It is the result of a 10-year fundraising campaign and a growing Muslim community.

Sixty-nine percent of surveyed Americans agreed while 28 percent disagreed, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, released Thursday.

Opposition mainly comes from the South where half of the rural population is against mosques in their area.

Muslims make up 0.8 to 2.6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In recent years, particularly since the proposal of an Islamic center near the site of the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks in New York, Muslims have been met with increasing fear and opposition to their attempts to build mosques.

The American Civil Liberties Union has documented anti-mosque activity in 21 states over the past five years.


Attempt to Ban Shari’a Law in Missouri: Political Theater

Lawmakers in Jefferson City (MO) are proposing a bill that would prevent Missouri courts from applying laws based on the law of foreign countries, cultures, and specifically laws based on the Islamic faith. This bill seems redundant and unnecessary, as our courts are required to uphold the Constitution and laws that do not violate the Constitution, and would not uphold a law (foreign or religious) that would be in contradiction to our Constitution or legislatively enacted laws. The real intent of this proposed bill, as reflected in the singling out of Islam and the comments made by the bill’s co-sponsors, is to demean Islam and the thousands of patriotic Missourians who follow the Islamic faith.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Representative Don Wells, has commented that this legislation is needed to prevent the threat of Sharia, law based on Islamic principles, from being implemented by courts in this state. He has stated that the threat of Sharia to our state is similar to the threat that was once posed by Polio. By using such inflammatory language, our state representatives are furthering Islamophobia and misconceptions about Islam.



Muslim, Christian groups rally against US pastor

LAHORE: Several religious groups held protests on Wednesday against the reported burning of the Holy Quran by an American pastor in a Florida church in the United States.

Besides parties affiliated with the Deobandi and Wahabi schools, the protestors included a Christian organisation as well. The speakers at rallies organised by the former urged the people to prepare themselves for jihad against America. The Christians rally, however, also voiced opposition against the misuse of blasphemy laws in the country.

Addressing protesters in front of the US consulate, leaders of different religious parties vowed to struggle for strengthening the blasphemy laws, particularly Section 295-B (defiling of the Holy Quran) of the Pakistan Penal Code.



Democracy in the Arab World?

AMMAN, Jordan — The cry first rang out from the fed-up people of Lisbon and Madrid: “Basta!”

It echoed across South America, to the banging of pots and pans. It resounded in the old capitals of a new Asia, was taken up in a Polish shipyard, awakened a slumbering Africa. And now, a generation later, it’s heard in the city squares of the Arab world: “Kifaya!”


From Morocco in the west to Yemen in the east, the sudden rising up of ordinary Arabs against their autocratic rulers looks like a belated postscript to the changes that swept the globe in the final decades of the last century — a period scholars dubbed the “third wave of democracy.”

“Now we’re witnessing the fourth wave of democracy,” a smiling Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political activist, assured a visitor to Amman. “We’re lucky to live to see it.”


Faith Under Fire: A 9/11 Muslim Chaplain’s Response to the King Hearings

The recent hearings on “Radical Islam” are not going to strengthen us, they are just going to push us further apart, says Imam Khalid Latif, a Muslim chaplain at New York University and with the New York Police Department. Demonizing a group isolates them from the rest of society, he says, and prevents us from being able to understand the qualities and values that we do share. He also talks about standing with families of 9-11 victims, as a Muslim chaplain with the New York Police Department, and how the families have accepted him although the Secret Service has not always been as welcoming. Learn more about Imam Khalid Latif.


Clashes and Coalitions: Christian-Muslim Relations in Egypt

On March 11, the one-month anniversary of former President Mubarak’s resignation, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria to celebrate national unity and condemn sectarianism. The march was called by the same youth coalition that launched the revolution. This time their slogan was “No to sectarian strife.”

Egyptians from all spectrums of society were waving flags and banners reading “Muslims and Christians are one.” Hundreds of people held up crosses and copies of the Qur’an, chanting “Christians and Muslims are one hand.” Around the country, Muslim imams addressed religious harmony in their Friday sermons. In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, an army general stood on the makeshift platform and lifted high the cross and the Qur’an, saying to the massive crowed, “The crescent and the cross are one. We are all Egyptians, Muslim and Christian.” In the now world-famous square, Muslims and Christians prayed together for the unity and safety of Egypt.

It was a peaceful and profoundly heartwarming day. Yet these unity marches came after days of sectarian violence in Egypt that included the burning of a church south of Cairo and clashes between hundreds, if not thousands, of young Christians and Muslims. In an impoverished Cairo suburb, 13 people were killed and more than 140 injured.



Iraq: Protest Organizers Arrested, Disappeared, Threatened

from CPT:  Christian Peacemakers Team

Police and security forces in Suleimaniya have arrested and tortured many organizers of and participants in the daily anti-corruption protests in recent days. Several organizers have also disappeared or received death threats. In a marked increase of tensions, an unknown number of additional security troops have deployed to the city, but apparently refrained from taking the protest site by force.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani threatened yesterday, 12 Marchto “deal” with the protests if they do not end by 21 March 2011. Rather than complying, protest organizers have announced more visible actions in the coming week.

“The truth has been unleashed,” a young protester told CPTers today (Sunday), “and cannot be silenced, not even by more soldiers.”

“Even if there are only fifteen people left at this square,” said another, “I will never leave until this corrupt, unjust government is finished.”



Despite Violence, Egyptian Mosques Calling for Christian-Muslim Unity

by H.A. Hellyer

Having been in Cairo since just before the uprising began I’ve witnessed the tensions between Muslims and Christians erupt into violence over the past week, which has resulted in a church being attacked, and fighting between Egyptian citizens. The response of the country was unanimous, and I saw it play out on Friday, the first after this outbreak. Friday has become the day of prayer and protest in Egypt every week – and they do go hand in hand here.

The sermons across the mosques are calling for national unity, and are castigating any Muslim who might think that Islam permits any action against Christians. The sermons are clear: Christians have as much right to be in Egypt as Muslims, and they stand together against the forces of counter-revolution.

And following the sermons of the Friday congregational prayer of the Muslims, Muslims and Christians gather in Tahrir Square, the birth-place of the revolution that saw Muslims and Christians protecting each other and standing over each other in prayer. And in that square, as all over Egypt, they are calling for unity among Muslims and Christians and to stand firm against extremists from all quarters.



Saudi Forces Prepare to Enter Bahrain After Day of Clashes

Saudi forces are preparing to intervene in neighbouring Bahrain, after a day of clashes between police and protesters who mounted the most serious challenge to the island’s royal family since demonstrations began a month ago.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain is expected to formally invite security forces from Saudi Arabia into his country today, as part of a request for support from other members of the six-member Gulf Co-operation Council.

Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday cut off Bahrain’s financial centre and drove back police trying to eject them from the capital’s central square, while protesters also clashed with government supporters on the campus of the main university.

Amid the revolt Bahrain also faces a potential sectarian conflict between the ruling minority of Sunnis Muslims and a majority of Shia Muslims, around 70% of the kingdom’s 525,000 residents.

The crown prince, Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, said in a televised statement that Bahrain had “witnessed tragic events” during a month of unprecedented political unrest.