How Muslims Became the Good Guys on TV

p07drx41Hit show Homeland is about to end, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.

One of Hollywood’s many ugly truths is that, for all its claims to be a progressive industry, it has relied heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes, catering to and shaping the prejudices that are prevalent amongst its audience. This is especially true when it comes to who it chooses as its villains.

Even though the Cold War ended decades ago, Russians have remained a favoured variety of bad guy, and Germans have also had a rough ride thanks to the countless number of Nazi evildoers who have appeared on screen since World War Two.

But since the turn of the millennium, the demographic who has undoubtedly been the greatest single target for demonisation are Muslim-Arabs. Even before the events of 9/11, they found themselves portrayed variously as sleazy oil rich sex pests, exotic subservient women, misogynists and/or militant terrorists. But the tragedy of September 11 2001 and the subsequent war on terror only exacerbated their negative typecasting.


Waco mosque gets hate mail with ironic stamp in response to interfaith dinner

19225281_566454596858491_8243670641069761336_nThe Islamic Center of Waco on Tuesday said it received hate mail accusing Muslims of preying on and killing people after the organization hosted an interfaith dinner to celebrate the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

The mosque posted a photo of the letter, complete with a “love” stamp on the front, on Facebook and countered its accusations.

“We pray for this individual to cleanse the hatred in their heart for a people whom they refuse to even meet with,” the Islamic center said in the post. “What an eternal suffering it must be to live your life in fear and hate of a group of people you don’t even know.”

The sender tore a brief article from the Waco Tribune-Herald about an upcoming interfaith dinner at the mosque, where anyone from the community could join Muslims as they broke their fast during Ramadan, the sacred month of self-improvement.

Baccalaureate service: An interfaith celebration of diversity

bacc640Northwestern’s 161st annual Baccalaureate Service kicked off Thursday (June 20) with majestic music and a call to prayer from different faiths, giving graduating seniors, their parents and guests a time to reflect on the eve of Commencement.

The interfaith celebration of diversity included the sounds of a Tibetan singing bowl humming for several minutes as members of three other faiths took turns interjecting the sounds of their own religious traditions: Christian church chimes, a Muslim call to prayer and the Jewish shofar.

President Morton Schapiro, dressed in his purple regalia, welcomed some 600 guests in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, praising the power of the interfaith assembly and observing, “How beautiful is it to celebrate in one space the world’s greatest religions?”

The annual service welcomes all members of the University community, honoring multiple faith traditions. Above the stage hung seven flags representing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism and the Baha’i faith — some of the many faiths represented on campus. An eighth flag had a Northwestern ‘N.’

The President noted that other “secular” Universities are sometimes known to avoid faith, but “at Northwestern, we interpret secular as meaning welcoming all religions equally, too, and watching these religious traditions thrive here.”

President Schapiro evoked a passage from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 23, “The Death of Sarah,” and he spoke of her age, recorded in the Bible to be 127 years at her passing. He talked about teaching his students how a life can be broken down into stages at which people learn different things. As they get older, they incorporate the knowledge gained from each of those stages, he said.


Sri Lankan Muslims cope with anti-Islam sentiments after terror attack reporter, Colombo 
Sri Lanka 
June 26, 2019
Shamina Bakeer for many years wore a face veil out of modesty, but also because it made her feel more free to travel.Since the terrorist bombing attacks on Easter Sunday that claimed 253 lives, women in Sri Lankan capital Colombo have been subjected to a ban on the public wearing of face coverings.This decision was taken by the government as a security measure to stop perpetrators of violence hiding behind such apparel in the wake of the April attacks that mostly targeted Christians.
Thirty-year-old Shamina, a mother of two, welcomed previously being able to move around without being identified either as an old or young woman.Shamina is a strong believer in strict Islamic requirements in relation to the way women dress. Since the ban came into force, she has not gone out from her home, not even to her local mosque. She has also been forced to suspend teaching at an institute for Muslim women.

Shamina and other women hope the situation will change, but for now she accepts that the ban was imposed for security reasons and not as a form of religious discrimination.Outside Colombo, when visiting relatives, there are even greater pressures to conform to Islamic modesty and in a small community she was instantly recognizable.

How Jews, Christians and Muslims Disagree on Medical Ethics

Rabbi-Neril-and-Archbishop-PizzaballaEight Orthodox rabbis, two Catholic priests, one Sunni Muslim imam (religious leader in a mosque) and a Sunni Muslim kadi (religious judge) were asked to comment on four hypothetical questions on medical ethics.

Two pediatrician neonatologists (specialists in newborns Prof. Michael Schimmel and Prof. Francis Mimouni), one pediatric neurologist and Israel Prize-winning expert on Jewish medical ethics (Prof. Avraham Steinberg) and a professor at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine (Dr.  Moshe Kasirer) presented the clergymen with a questionnaire related to four simulated cases – Case 1, a non-viable, extremely premature infant; Case 2, a severely asphyxiated full-term infant with extensive brain damage; Case 3, a small pre-term infant with severe brain hemorrhage and likely extensive brain damage; and Case 4,  a full-term infant with Down syndrome and a severe heart malfunction. All were asked to present the approach of their religious/ethical approach.

Their answers in the latest issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal (IMAJ) showed major differences among the three religious opinions in the definition of viability and in their approaches to quality of life. The aim of the study was to describe the attitudes of the three major monotheistic religions when encountering four complex neonatal situations.

Israel’s population consists of 75.6% Jews, 20.6% Muslim Arabs, 4.2% Christian Arabs or others. It is “diverse, with people of different religions, many of whom seek spiritual guidance during ethical dilemmas,” wrote the authors. “It is paramount for healthcare providers to be familiar with different religious approaches. Neonatologists must be sensitive to culture and religious when dealing with major ethical issues in the neonatal intensive care unit.”

Looking at Case 1, one of the two Catholic priests said that the case includes a premature delivery and not an abortion. From a Catholic Christian viewpoint, the important decisionmakers must be the family together with the local priest of the family’s church. “The issues at stake include the fate of the child in a holy world and issues of human dignity. Since we must rely on the medical team’s experience and expertise, and since they state that there are no survivors in the current medical settings, we advise that only comfort care be provided to this dying patient. After death, the baby should be baptized and buried according to Christian customs,” he wrote.


An open letter to Christians and Muslims – Bishop Mario Grech (Malta)

Mary is ‘common heritage’ of Christians and Muslims


As time goes by we are progressively seeing an ever increasing number of foreigners living and working among us. It would be silly of us to think of them as a threat or as a purely economic resource.

It is a real pity that there are those among us who are tempted to regard them as some kind of inferior class of people and so they despise them even with violent acts or they take advantage of their vulnerability.

This is the case when they are exploited by being made to work for a pittance without the benefit of social security as required by law, or when they are offered shelter at rental rates far higher than is normally the case.

Their presence among us does not constitute simply a social and cultural challenge, but it has also a religious dimension. Indeed among these foreigners there is a sizeable presence of Muslims, both those coming from African countries and those from Eastern Europe.

Given the context of interreligious dialogue, I feel that at this moment of our history, characterised by the phenomenon of migration, it cannot be that God’s Spirit is not telling our Church anything. This dialogue helps to achieve a certain social harmony. When one considers the lack of accurate knowledge about Islam and the prejudice against it, one sees the need to dialogue with the Muslim world without denying anything of our Christian identity.


In northern Nigeria, Muslims and Christians take small steps toward reconciliation

webRNS-Nigeria-Election2-021519-807x538(RNS) KAMPALA, Uganda — Recently, a group of Muslims visited Christian widows and orphans in northwestern Nigeria and donated food, clothing and school items as part of efforts to enhance peaceful coexistence among different faiths.

“I can’t believe they came and visited me,” said Judy Ugwu, a mother of four who lives in Kaduna state in northwestern Nigeria. “They have given me enough food and clothes. I want to forgive every Muslim who has wronged me in any way.”

Ugwu, 38, who is a Christian, lost her husband early this year when gunmen dressed in military uniforms and armed with AK47 rifles, machetes and sticks attacked her village of Kajuru and killed more than 60 people. She accused the majority Hausa-Fulani tribe, who are predominantly Muslim and herders of cattle, for brutally murdering her husband.

“I had vowed never to forgive them,” she said. “They wanted to finish us (non-Muslim) during elections so that their people can ascend to power, but God protected his people.”

There has been constant conflict in northern Nigeria for decades, pitting the majority Muslim population against the minority Christian population.

In Kaduna state, the Hausa-Fulani tribe makes up 60% of the population, and the non-Muslim minorities who are mainly farmers make up the remaining 40%.