Pensacola Muslim community on edge after Naval Air Station shooting

Pensacola area Muslims worry there could be backlash after Friday’s shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. The accused shooter at NAS is from Saudi Arabia and was a Muslim.

The local Muslim community, like all other people of faith, have been praying for the victims and the families of Friday’s shooting. So far there have been no credible threats to the mosque or the local Muslim community. The thought of any potential backlash right now is simply out of fear.

On any given Sunday there are at least 80 students at the mosque’s Sunday school program. Only 37 showed up for class. Some parents keeping their children at home as a precaution.

The fear seems to be driven by negative sentiments. Salma Ashmawi is with the Islamic Center of Northwest Florida. She says the fear seems to be driven by a negative sentiment towards Muslims.

Ashmawi says the recent shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard produced a suspect but religion was never part of the conversation.

“I’m sorry the media highlights the faith being Muslim when something like that happens two say before that a Christian did something similar and there was no talk of him at all and nobody thought that oh Christians need to apologize for it and nobody thought his parents where bad. It’s just one person who did something horrible,” said Ashmawi.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MYNBC15

Saadia Faruqi: Writing a Muslim Protagonist for Young Readers

closeup-e1538005858270As a child, my favorite books were those in which I could see myself. As a tomboy and a devoted reader, the titular Harriet from Harriet the Spy, and Gwen and Jill from the series Something Queer is Going On, became characters I could rely on for comfort and understanding. Only later did I realize that, on top of being nerdy tomboys, these girls were also coded as queer, giving me subtle permission to be who I was—who I am.

But what happens when a child doesn’t have models like these? When the books she reads are full of children who look nothing like her, whose families look nothing like hers, whose stories—while they might be otherwise relatable—don’t center on people like her?  The writer Saadia Faruqi worried about how this dynamic might shape how her brown, Muslim daughter—growing up in Houston, Texas—understood the world, and her place in it.

Born and raised in Pakistan, Faruqi moved to Houston with her husband shortly after they were married, and has since invested tremendous energy in promoting better understanding between cultures in her adopted country. She has been an interfaith activist since shortly after September 11, 2001, when she began providing cultural sensitivity training for synagogues and churches, police departments, businesses, and teachers, among others. Faruqi is is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry, and prose. Her essays on faith and parenting have appeared in TheWashington Post, UpworthyThe Islamic MonthlyCatapult, and The Huffington Post, among other publications. Last year, Oprah Magazine featured her as a woman making a difference in her community.

After releasing a book of short stories in 2015, Faruqi recently published her first chapter book series for early readers, Meet Yasmin! Illustrated by Hatem Aly in an energetic style that focuses on the lively protagonist, the four-book series features a Pakistani-American girl who is active, imaginative, and independent. Each book (all were published simultaneously and can be acquired either as one unit, or as four individual stories) features Yasmin running into some kind of problem—like getting lost or struggling to be creative—and figuring out how to fix it, all on her own. Faruqi knew that brown and Muslim children were already having painful conversations, out of necessity, about discrimination and bigotry. So she wrote a book that gave them a break from those weighty subjects. As Faruqi explained in a piece for Nerdy Book Club, “Yasmin is happy and healthy and faces everything that comes her way with determination and courage. She’s someone we all want our kids to be. She’s just an ordinary American girl, and my kids need her so much.”

I spoke to Faruqi via Skype on Yasmin’s publication date. She was charming, with a warm voice and an easy laugh. We talked about the burden of representation and the need for perfection, her sizable work load, and the big challenges and deep emotions that come with writing for children.

FULL ARTICLE FROM GUERNICA 

Religious fundamentalism is a ‘plague,’ pope says

20191118T1114-31850-CNS-POPE-INTERRELIGIOUS-ARGENTINA_800-690x450ROME – Interreligious dialogue is an important way to counter fundamentalist groups as well as the unjust accusation that religions sow division, Pope Francis said.

Meeting with members of the Argentine Institute for Interreligious Dialogue Nov. 18, the pope said that in “today’s precarious world, dialogue among religions is not a weakness. It finds its reason for being in the dialogue of God with humanity.”

Recalling a scene from the 11th-century poem, “The Song of Roland,” in which Christians threatened Muslims “to choose between baptism or death,” the pope denounced the fundamentalist mentality which “we cannot accept nor understand and cannot function anymore.”

According to its website, the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue was founded in Buenos Aires in 2002 and was inspired by then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as a way “to promote understanding among men and women of different religious traditions in our city and the world.”

The pope welcomed the members of the institute who are in Rome to reflect on the document on “human fraternity” and improving Christian-Muslim relations, which was signed Feb. 4 by Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar and a leading religious authority for many Sunni Muslims.

“This is key: Identity cannot be negotiated because if you negotiate your identity, there is no dialogue, there is submission. Each (religion) with its own identity is on the path of dialogue,” he said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUXNOW

Global Muslim leader brings push for peace and tolerance to meeting with top LDS leaders, other Utah officials

J6QV5WTYZFAW3KHPFKZVRWVP44Every time there has been a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims anywhere since 9-11, many Americans demand to know why Islamic moderates don’t condemn such killings by fellow believers.

Of course, Muslim leaders in Utah, across the United States and in other countries repeatedly do decry these acts, but they can’t represent the 1.8 billion adherents on the planet.

Now there’s the Muslim World League, a pan-Muslim organization committed to moderation and nonviolence. It opposes all forms of extremism and the so-called “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West, and works to build bridges with other nations.

The league’s secretary-general, Mohammad Al-Issa, was in Utah this week, meeting with religious leaders, including the governing First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After his conversation with top Latter-day Saint officials, Al-Issa visited with apostle David A. Bedner and then headed to the church’s Welfare Square west of downtown Salt Lake City.

“What I’ve seen here is a great example of the true meaning of mercy and love to humanity,” the Muslim said in a church news release. “We, all around the world, need to follow this humanitarian [approach] exactly. Also, the whole world needs to get exposed to and learn from these efforts and projects.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE 

ESSAY: CHRISTIANS HAVE LIVED IN TURKEY FOR TWO MILLENNIA – BUT THEIR FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN 03 December 2019

Vowing to better protect Christians, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told media at the White House recently that Turkey will restore churches damaged during the civil war in northeastern Syria.

With this statement, Erdogan might have hoped to send signals addressing western concerns about the vulnerabilities of Christians in his own country, too. The percentage of Christians in Turkey declined from nearly 25 per cent in 1914 to less than 0.5 per cent today.

Christians in Turkey1

A Christian pilgrim prays at the historic Deyruzzaferan monastery in Mardin, in south-eastern Turkey. PICTURE: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

As I write in my recent book on religious minorities in Turkey and France, international events and domestic political interests improved the status of Christians in the 2000s.

Yet, the current international and domestic context makes their future uncertain.

Important centre of Christianity
Christians have lived in the region that is modern-day Turkey since the first century when Christianity emerged.

Many Christians escaping persecution in Jerusalem fled north and settled in cities across western, central and southeastern Turkey.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SIGHT MAGAZINE 

Why more Latinos in the U.S. are leaving the Catholic Church for Islam

latino muslimsLuis Lopez battled nerves as he walked to the front of the crowded prayer hall in Union City with his son. Together, they repeated word-for-word in Arabic the Shahada, the profession of faith required to convert to Islam.

“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” they declared at the mosque, located in a columned brick building that once housed a Cuban community center.

For Lopez, the conversion and embrace by the congregation four months ago brought a feeling of peace and a recognition of how far he’d come from a life that nearly ended 22 years ago in gang violence.

“They told me, ‘Come to the mosque, you’re going to feel welcomed,’” said Lopez, 41, a truck driver and former professional boxer from North Bergen.

With their religious journey, Lopez and his 21-year-old son joined a growing segment of the Latino population who are leaving Christianity for Islam. About 8% of all Muslim Americans adults are Latino, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, increasing by about a third from 2011.

In interviews, Latino converts said they are drawn to Islam because of the intense devotion to God, a simplicity in faith and focus on community that they failed to find in their former faith. But their conversion often is not easy, as they break ties with family and their Christian upbringing.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NORTH JERSEY.COM