Washington State Muslims Fight Islamophobia with Personal Stories

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July 30, 2019

TACOMA, Wash. — Muslims in Washington state are building bridges with their neighbors in a new series launching today in Tacoma. Muslim organizations, alongside the Associated Ministries of Tacoma-Pierce County, hold the first “Sharing Our Stories – Meet Your Muslim Neighbors” event at Skyline Presbyterian Church.

Head of the American Muslim Empowerment Network at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound Aneelah Afzali said the goal is to find common ground with people through personal stories. She’s seen this kind of relationship building work as an antidote to Islamophobia in the past. Last year, Afzali spoke with two women at a Longview event who never had met a Muslim.

“They actually cried to me. They admitted that they had hatred in their heart, that they had fear in their heart and that that two hours really removed that and they gave me a hug,” Afzali said. “I mean, they brought me to tears. It was a profound and powerful moment and it just reminds me of the power that personal stories and those personal relationships have.”

Afzali said the goal is to bring this series to more rural and conservative parts of the state. A Seattle-based public relations firm created videos of three Muslim individuals for the event. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion and then a chance for people to speak with folks of different faiths directly.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m.

Afzali said she finds this type of event necessary as political divisiveness and Islamophobia ramp up around the country. Along with an increase in attacks, an investigation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found anti-Muslim organizations are making big money. The report “Hijacked by Hate” said mainstream philanthropic institutions funneled at least $1.5 billion to a network of 39 anti-Muslim groups between 2014 and 2016.

Afzali said that amount of money, combined with a misunderstanding of the religion, is a recipe for disaster.

“So when this is happening and people don’t have the personal connections with people who they know, it allows for fear and hatred and even violence to grow,” she said. “And we’re seeing the consequences of that all around us.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL

Christians, Muslims pray at ruins of Philippine town’s church, mosques

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St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi, Philippines, is seen May 11, 2019.  (CNS photo/Eloisa Lopez, Reuters) 

By Catholic News Service

MARAWI, Philippines (CNS) — Christians and Muslims prayed in the ruins of a church and a mosque in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, which was devastated by a five-month siege in 2017.

The prayers July 27 were led by Father Teresito Soganub, parish priest of the Marawi Catholic cathedral, who was held hostage by gunmen during the shooting war, ucanews.com reported.

“I hope that whatever happens, we can continue to journey together for peace in Mindanao,” Father Soganub said, referring to the rebuilding of places of worship in the city.

He said the Catholic cathedral, which was torched and desecrated by extremist gunmen, is a Christian symbol of “interreligious dialogue” with Muslims.

“It hurts me to see the church, where I served for years, in ruins,” a teary-eyed Father Soganub said.

The priest, together with Muslim religious leaders, also visited mosques that were damaged during the conflict. The five-month siege left a trail of death and destruction and displaced thousands of people.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONG ISLAND CATHOLIC 

Muslims save Christians from al-Shabaab attack

Al-Shabaab-main_article_imageMuslims are said to have warned 20, mostly Christian employees at a government hospital of an attack by a jihadist fundamentalist group in Kutulo town, Kenya.

The building site for a government hospital in Kutulo was being constructed by non-local Christian workers when locals were reportedly warned about an imminent al-Shabaab attack on July 21st, according to Open Doors, a charity serving persecuted Christians.

A number of Muslim locals quickly warned the workers to leave the site and helped evacuate them to safety.

 

“They confronted the gunmen who proceeded to the site and failed to get what they wanted. [The attackers] opened fire but no one was injured before they escaped,” north-eastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik told media.

The foiled attack took place in Mandera County, in the northeast corner of Kenya. This area borders Somalia and is Muslim majority. According to an Open Doors worker, this was a “show of solidarity from locals”.

The Open Doors worker said: “The area feels more like Somalia than Kenya and usually is a very hostile place for Christians. Most of Believers who live here came here from other areas of the country for work and some for ministry. But they are treated like unwanted outsiders and face a lot of harassment and the continuous threat of targeted al-Shabaab attacks.

“Please thank the Lord with us that another bloodbath was prevented. Pray that this kind of action will become the new norm in this area. Pray for the protection over those who took this bold move.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM PREMIER.ORG (UK)

For religious American Muslims, hostility from the right and disdain from the left

Contributor, PostEverything

July 25

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is the author of “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World” and the co-editor of “Rethinking Political Islam.”

End Of Ramadan Is Celebrated In Brooklyn With The Eid Al-Fitr FestivalIt is an odd time to be a Muslim in America, in part because it depends on which America you happen to live in. Here, too, there are two Americas.

On the one hand, this is a sort of golden age for American Muslims and their place in public life. Sometimes it seems like Muslims are everywhere, even though they’re not. They star in their own television shows; they headline the White House correspondents’ dinner ; they win Academy Awards; they become Snapchat sensations. Some of it is more subtle but striking nonetheless: If you live in a semi-hip urban setting, it’s not unusual to see a headscarf-wearing woman in an ad flanked by a rainbow coalition of other diverse Americans.

This can make it easy to forget the other reality that exists alongside the liberal pop-culture embrace of Muslims. The increase in anti-Muslim bigotry and other forms of discrimination against Muslims is well documented. But even if you don’t experience it or see it, you know Islamophobia exists, because it is there on social media. It is also in our president’s rhetoric. It is inescapable.

The Lebanese saint who unites Christians and Muslims

Image_from_the_Shrine_of_St_Charbel_Credit_Hannah_Brockhaus__CNAImage from the Shrine of St. Charbel. Credit: Hannah Brockhaus / CNA.

July 24, 2019
Hannah Brockhaus
Catholic News Agency

ANNAYA, Lebanon – St. Charbel Makhlouf is known in Lebanon for the miraculous healings of those who visit his tomb to seek his intercession – both Christians and Muslims.

“St. Charbel has no geographic or confessional limits. Nothing is impossible for [his intercession] and when people ask [for something], he answers,” Fr. Louis Matar, coordinator of the Shrine of St. Charbel in Annaya, Lebanon, told CNA.

Speaking in Arabic with the help of an interpreter, Matar said the shrine, which encompasses the monastery where the Maronite Catholic priest, monk, and hermit lived for nearly 20 years, receives around 4 million visitors a year, including both Christians and Muslims.

Matar, who is responsible for archiving the thousands of medically-verified healings attributed to the intercession of the Maronite priest-monk, said that many miraculous cures have been obtained by Muslims.

Since 1950, the year the monastery began to formally record the miraculous healings, they have archived more than 29,000 miracles, Matar said. Prior to 1950, miracles were verified only through the witness of a priest. Now, with more advanced medical technology available, alleged miracles require medical documents demonstrating the person’s initial illness and later, their unexplainable good health.

One of the miracles documented by Matar at the end of December, when he spoke to CNA, was that of a 45-year-old Italian woman. Suffering from a neurological disease, she was hospitalized after it was discovered she had tried to commit suicide by consuming acid.

In the hospital, the doctors discovered that the damage to her esophagus and intestines was so extensive, “the last way possible to cure her was believing in God and praying,” Matar commented.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC SAN FRANCISCO 

General Synod (Canadian Anglican) passes motion to sign, endorse Christian-Muslim dialogue

DSC_1579-696x463General Synod voted July 15 to sign on to “A Common Word Between Us and You” and endorse it as a model for Christian-Muslim dialogue.

“A Common Word” is a letter written in 2007 at the initiative of 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and political figures, according to the Rev. Scott Sharman, animator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, who gave a presentation to General Synod before the motion.

More than 400 Muslim leaders from around the world have since signed on to the letter, which is addressed to Christian leaders and is “an invitation to Christians to dialogue.” The title comes from a line from the Qur’an, Sharman said: “O People of the Book, come to a common word between us and you.”

The letter extends “an invitation to look at two foundational principles present within both of our respective scriptures: the call to love God above all things, and the call that follows from that, to love our neighbours. Love of God and love of neighbour is the starting ground.”

The resolution presented to General Synod involved two steps: becoming, as a church, signatory to the letter, and endorsing it to “use as a model…a kind of Christian-Muslim dialogue starter kit,” Sharman said.

The letter presents “a new kind of relationship between Muslims and Christians than has been possible for so much of our history,” according to Sharman. “It does not look for agreement, but it seeks to find common ground that could make for peace.” Since 2008, the letter has received 70 responses and nearly 200 sign-on endorsements by churches and Christian leaders.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ANGLICAN JOURNAL (CANADA)

These copycat bills on sharia law and terrorism have no effect. Why do states keep passing them?

b0c3b8d6-75d6-4328-8369-b1e46146032c-AP_17032732466766 A far-right think tank pushed model bills on sharia law and terrorism in dozens of states. Civil rights groups say the goal was to stoke fear.
Updated 2:20 p.m. CDT July 21, 2019

A lawmaker in Idaho introduces legislation to prevent traditional Islamic law from infiltrating U.S. courts.

In Florida, a legislator proposes striking at the foundations of terrorism with a bill bolstering victims’ ability to sue its supporters.

The lawmakers’ efforts are seemingly unrelated, their statehouses almost 2,000 miles apart.

But both get their ideas, and the actual text of their bills, from the same representative of the same right-wing think tank.

And when they introduce the bills, the same activist group dispatches supporters to press for passage.

Eric Redman of Idaho and Mike Hill of Florida are among dozens of legislators who have sponsored copycat bills written and pushed by a network of far-right think tanks and activists.

The legislation was developed by the Center for Security Policy, which was founded by Frank Gaffney, a Reagan-era acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, who pushes conspiracy theories alleging radical Muslims have infiltrated the government. Once the copycat bills are introduced, local chapters of the Washington, D.C.-based ACT for America, which describes itself as the “NRA of national security,” encourage their supporters to show up at legislative hearings and flood lawmakers’ inboxes and phone lines in support of the bills. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has claimed that up to a quarter of all Muslims support the destruction of Western civilization.