‘Execution-Style’ Killing Of Three Young Muslim Men Sparks Outrage


Police have yet to identify a motive in the gruesome shooting death of three young Muslim men in a Fort Wayne, Indiana, house.

But the deaths have been acutely felt in the Muslim community — and some observers worry that the triple killing is the latest manifestation of a tide of anti-Muslim prejudice gripping the country.

Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Tairab, 17, were killed “execution-style” on Wednesday, according to Fort Wayne’s public safety director Rusty York.

York told a local ABC affiliate, 21 Alive, that there was “no reason to believe this was any type of hate crime, or focused because of their religion or their nationality whatsoever.”

He even noted that the house, rented out by a landlord who lives elsewhere, had become a place where young men of African descent often got together for parties.

The Fort Wayne Police Department did not offer The Huffington Post any additional comment about the suspected motive on Sunday.

Hamzah Sharif, the imam of the Islamic Center of Fort Wayne, did not mention a possible motive in a Facebook message about the young men’s funeral. He instead lauded the presence of the town’s other communities of faith at the service.

“All of [the] Fort Wayne community showed unity and solidarity against violence and stood together to pray for the three young men along with their families,” Sharif wrote.

Ahmed Abdelmageed, director of experiential education at Manchester University’s college of pharmacy in Fort Wayne, acknowledged that the deaths were an especially painful blow for Muslims, but warned against assuming it was a hate crime.

“‘Execution Style’ and the word ‘Muslim’ have certainly been forever ingrained in the minds of American Muslims and they trigger painful images of 3 beautiful souls lost for simply being Muslim,” Abdelmageed wrote on Facebook. “I caution however that the reason does not appear to be related to them being Muslim.”


More Minnesota colleges are hiring advisers to work with Muslim students


Fardosa Hassan rarely lingers at her bare Augsburg College campus ministry desk.

In the chapel of the Evangelical Lutheran Church-affiliated school, she hosts regular Friday prayer for Muslim students and faculty. In the campus wellness center, she brings in a therapist and imam to undercut the idea that seeking treatment for depression is un-Islamic. She takes Religion 100 students to mosques in the college’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

“Islam has called me to serve my community,” Hassan said.

A growing number of Minnesota private campuses are enlisting Muslim student advisers as their Muslim enrollment has sometimes doubled or tripled in recent years. The new hires help students find internships, fit prayer into busy class schedules and process anger at the extremists behind the recent Paris attacks. They’ve also reached out to broader campus communities in hopes of challenging the heated political discourse about Islam.

The job title is spreading nationally, where several campuses have faced backlash over their choice of Muslim chaplains. Off-campus, Augsburg’s pastor Sonja Hagander has had to explain why a Lutheran college’s campus ministry would hire a practicing Muslim.

“With the growing number of Muslim students, it was really key to have a Muslim student adviser,” Hagander said. “We can’t help but do what we’re doing.”


Should Christians let Muslims use their buildings?

famagustaA Church of Scotland minister has spoken of the backlash he suffered when he opened his church for Muslim Friday prayers after the local mosque was firebombed.

Rev Ian Taylor opened his Bishopbriggs church after the local Islamic centre was badly damaged in the attack last November. But a parishioner reported him to his local presbytery, a colleague criticised him and he was targeted online from the US.

It’s not the only time ministers have been criticised for offering their churches for Muslim use.

Last March the vicar of St John’s church, Waterloo, was forced to apologise for an inter-faith worship event. Giles Goddard opened his church for Muslim prayers but was told by the Bishop of Southwark he had infringed Church of England guidelines. He said: “I remain committed to finding ways for Christians and Muslims to acknowledge our shared heritage and history, without minimising the uniqueness of both our traditions.”

The two situations are very different, as we’ll see. But should Christian churches ever be used for Muslim prayers?

How Muslims and Christians relate to each other is a very vexed question at the moment. In the US, Wheaton College got into a terrible tangle over the Larycia Hawkins case, in which the college didn’t seem to know how to handle a professor who said Christians and Muslims “worship the same God”.

And, of course, the issue’s complicated by the present geopolitical situation in which Middle Eastern Muslims are targeting Christians for expulsion and massacre (though most victims have been other Muslims).


Why Everyone Should Study Islam – A Christian College Student’s Advice for all Americans


Editor’s NoteSimran Jeet Singh is an Assisant Professor in the Department of Religion at Trinity University.  This essay was written by his student as a part of a class assignment on why people should study Islam.  

My name is Bethany, and I am a collegiate athlete, sorority girl, and dog lover hailing from a Christian family in Bethesda, Maryland. This summer while driving to a morning swim practice I made the mistake we all make once in our driving career. While searching for a power bar in my bag, I let off the brake without noticing and rolled into the bumper of the jeep Cherokee in front of me.

I pulled over to the shoulder, grabbed my water bottle and went out to give my sincere apologies to the other driver for the unexpected “love tap.” What greeted me on the other side of my door however, was the opposite of love. I walked straight into a torrent of Arabic and Muslim phrases being thrown at me faster than I could even react. I was confused and speechless.

I was not a part of the Islamic faith in any sense, and who was this person antagonizing me for it? I could not look this driver in the face, and my eyes wandered to the water bottle in my hand with my name gracefully stretching across its width in large Arabic letters.

My big sister in my sorority had made it for me after finishing her Arabic class last semester. It was then that I put two and two together.

It was a big misunderstanding. The driver had seen the Arabic and automatically jumped to conclusions. Confusion quickly turned to anger, and I turned my back, got in my car and pulled back into traffic. I cried the rest of the drive to practice, not out of sadness or anger, but out of disappointment.


There Is No “Other” America


the crowd goes wild

Taken at the 09/14 Donald Trump rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

“It is not American.”

That’s what most of my friends tell me when I tell them about the latest horrific comments made by Donald Trump, who at the moment appears to be heading towards being the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land. Even by the admittedly outrageous standards of Donald Trump, this seemed beyond the pale. Shooting Muslims by bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. This, not in an anonymous hate group website, but under the full glare of spotlights, from the mouth of the leading Presidential candidate, in a political rally.

This is America.

During a recent rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Donald Trump talked about how he would protect Americans. To make his point, he told the story ofJohn Pershing, a U.S. general who took some 50 Muslims captive in the Philippines in the early 1900s:

“He took fifty bullets, and he dipped them in pig’s blood. And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the fiftieth person he said ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem, okay?”

As if the moral of the story was not clear enough, the GOP front-runnerreiterated the message for the mob crowd:

“We better start getting tough and we better start getting vigilant, and we better start using our heads or we’re not gonna have a country, folks.”

This is where we are as a nation. This is our America.


Egypt Sentences Coptic Teenagers to Prison for Insulting Islam

egypt-christianCAIRO — An Egyptian court sentenced four Coptic Christian teenagers to up to five years in prison on Thursday after finding them guilty of insulting Islam, the latest of a series of high-profile blasphemy convictions that have drawn sharp criticism of Egypt’s judicial system.

The teenagers were convicted in Minya, an arid province south of Cairo, where they had been accused of filming a 32-second video in which they mocked the Muslim mode of prayer, said their lawyer, Maher Naguib.

A prominent TV presenter, a poet and a novelist have received jail sentences in recent months for blasphemy or offending public morals, in cases that seem to be at odds with the image of Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who styles himself as a bulwark against extremism.

The police initiated the prosecution of the Coptic teenagers after a Muslim classmate discovered the video. Three of the teenagers were sentenced to five years in prison, while the fourth, who is still under 18, is to be detained at a juvenile detention center.

The poet Fatma Naoot in 2008. Ms. Naoot was given a three-year sentence in January for a Facebook post that criticized the slaughter of animals for the Muslim feast Eid al-Adha. Credit Hamed Mossad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The teenagers did not attend Thursday’s hearing, and their lawyer said they would appeal the decision. “Their parents have sent them to uncles and aunts outside of Minya,” Mr. Naguib said. “They feared for their safety. They are all terrified and crying now.”

The Egyptian justice system has been under scrutiny over the investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student whose mutilated body was discovered on a roadside in early February. His body had extensive bruising and cigarette burns, signs of torture that are frequently associated with the Egyptian security forces.


The long history of Muslims and Christians killing people together

battle 1

In 1683, a vast Ottoman army camped outside the gates of Vienna. For centuries thereafter, the siege and final decisive battle that took place would be cast as a defining moment in a clash of civilizations — that time the forces of Islam were halted at the ramparts of Christendom.

Yet look just a little bit harder, and that tidy narrative falls apart. The Ottoman assault had been coordinated in league with French King Louis XIV. And perhaps more than half of the soldiers seeking to capture the Austrian capital were Christians themselves. There were Greeks, Armenians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Serbs, all fighting alongside Arabs, Turks, Kurds and others in the Ottoman ranks.

[When the West wanted Islam to curb Christian extremism]

One of the main figures joining the Turkish campaign was Imre Thokoly, who was a Protestant born in what’s now Slovakia and an avowed Hungarian nationalist. Tens of thousands of Hungarian peasants who were angry at the rapacious behavior of the Catholic Church, and the imperial Habsburg dynasty in Vienna had rallied to Thokoly’s banner. His alliance with the Ottomans enabled the rapid Turkish march toward the Austrian capital.

It reflected, writes British academic Ian Almond in his 2009 book “Two Faiths, One Banner: When Muslims Marched With Christians Across Europe’s Battlegrounds,” how “little use terms such as ‘Muslim’ and ‘Christian’ are to describe the almost hopelessly complex web of shifting power-relations, feudal alliances, ethnic sympathies and historical grudges” that shaped much of European history.

That sense of nuance fades over centuries, and certainly wasn’t apparent last year when another Hungarian nationalist — the country’s current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — cited the legacy of the Ottoman conquest to justify keeping Syrian refugees from passing through Hungary’s borders.

“I have to say that when it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we are the only ones who have experience because we had the possibility to go through that experience for 150 years,” Orbán told reporters last year, apparently referring to the period of dynastic warfare and mayhem that was sparked by the initial Ottoman invasion in the 16th century.


Bishop challenges Catholics to combat ‘ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry’


Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego and Muslim leader Sayyid M. Syeed discuss the “ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry” in keynote speeches at the University of San Diego Feb. 17. Facilitating the discussion was Ami Carpenter, center, who is an associate professor at the Catholic university’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies. (CNS photo/Denis Grasska, The Southern Cross) See MCELROY-SYEED-LECTURES Feb. 22, 2016.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy is challenging U.S. Catholics to take an active role in combating “the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice.”

“We are witnessing in the United States a new nativism, which the American Catholic community must reject and label for the religious bigotry which it is,” he said in a keynote address delivered Feb. 17 in the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

The evening event took place against the backdrop of the first national Catholic-Muslim dialogue, which was held Feb. 17-18 at the Catholic university.

Last May, after more than 20 years of regional dialogues with representatives of the U.S. Muslim community, the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established a national Catholic-Muslim dialogue.

Motivated by the call of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic faiths, the dialogue seeks to foster understanding and collaboration between Catholics and Muslims. Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich has been named its first Catholic co-chairman.

In addition to Bishop McElroy’s speech, the evening also featured a keynote speech by Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, who reflected on the state of Catholic-Muslim relations from the Muslim perspective.


Steve Chalke: Some Muslim teaching is closer to Christ than some churches’

muslimSteve Chalke, pastor and founder of the Oasis charity, has told Christian Today he believes parts of Islamic theology better reflect God’s character than some Christian teaching.

In an interview to coincide with the release of his new book Radical, Chalke explained how he had come to the conclusion “Muslims and Christians worship the same God”.

Within Christianity there are vastly different interpretations of God, Chalke said, citing issues such as human sexuality, women bishops and speaking in tongues on which he disagrees with some other Christians.

“As individuals we all worship different shades of the same God,” he told Christian Today.

“There are Christians who worship a militant, violent God. There are Christians who worship a God who doesn’t want women in leadership. There are Christians who worship a God who says if you are gay you will burn in hell. There are Christians who worship a God who does not believe in global warming.”

He added: “I don’t separate from them even though they have a very different take on God’s character from me.”

He cited the theologian Miroslav Volf, who took a similar line in his book Allah: A Christian Response.

Chalke went on to describe certain elements of Islamic belief such as the theology of ummah or community, which he found “very attractive”.

“I know some emphases in Islamic teaching come closer to the teaching of Christ and the Bible than some teaching in Western churches,” he said.


“Hijab is Not an Islamic Duty”- Scholar

timthumbCasablanca – Last month at Al Azhar University, Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed defended a thesis that sparked a heated debate among religious scholars. The candidate concluded that Hijab, or the veil, is not an Islamic duty.

The claim is not the first of its kind, but the mere fact that it is adopted in Al Azhar University – the Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning –makes it controversial.

Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed argued that Hijab is not an Islamic duty. He stated that Hijab refers to the cover of the head, which is not mentioned in the Holy Quran at all. “Nonetheless, a bunch of scholars insisted vehemently that the veil is both an Islamic duty and one of the most important pillars of Islam,” he added.

In doing so, the PhD candidate points out, “they deviated from the purposes of the Islamic law and “Sahih Atafsir” or the true interpretation. They rejected reasoning and relied only on literal text.”

According to Mohamed Rashed, these scholars de-contextualized the verses of the Quran and interpreted them in their very own liking, following some ancient scholars, as if what they said is sacred and is no subject to Ijtihad.

Ijtihad is a technical term, which literally means “exertion” in a jurisprudential sense; it is the exertion of mental energy by a Muslim jurist to deduce legal rulings from Islam’s sacred texts.

The researcher continued that the scholars, who claim that Hijab is an important pillar of Islam, departed from “Al Minhaj Assahih,” or the true path, of interpretation and reasoning, which interprets the verses according to their historical context and the causes of revelation. These scholars  “interpreted the verses in their general sense, overlooking the causes of their revelation, intentionally or due to their limited intellectual capacity resulted in psychological scourge.” Worse yet, they approached hundreds of important issues in the same way.”

“The supporters of Hijab as an Islamic duty base their arguments on inconsistent and wrong evidence. They would ascribe various meanings to the veil, from Hijab to Khimar to Jalabib, a fact which shows that they digressed from the true meaning they intended to address, the cover of the head,” he added. The researcher attempted to deconstruct the three claims that are derived from interpretations of the sacred texts.