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

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.

4th of July; the Founding Fathers and the Challenge of Islam

 

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Rabat – Upon the declaration of the US independence on July 4, 1776 two of the first three states to acknowledge the country’s sovereignty and freedom were Muslim, zealously supporting America’s notion that freedom lies in being fearless.

Morocco was the first state to recognize the independence of the United States of America, signing the first Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, under Morocco’s Sultan Muhammad III in December 1777.

Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, was the next to recognize the American independence.

The Mysore State in India followed their example, being the third to praise liberty as a breath of life to all nations.

The actions of those states centuries ago are the proof that the 4th of July should not just come and go.

Americans must make it a remarkable day and a celebration; a great opportunity to further elevate the magnificence of national integration and appreciate the Muslim contribution to it— but, unfortunately, this is not the case today.

“I remember my supervisor at work made a comment about how Morocco was the first supporter of American independence; and that they had always been a really close ally to the US, but that is something not included in the things we are learning while we study the American history,” said Paige Duskie, a 20-year-old student from Huntsville, Alabama who is currently working for a Human Rights NGO in Rabat, told Morocco World News.

Muslims have been at the center of attention for years from a socio-political perspective.

A wide variety of events, including acts of terrorism and extreme violence, which severely concerned the global community, caused the United States to largely discriminate against Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MOROCCO WORLD NEWS

Pop culture got Islam wrong for years. ‘Ramy’ made getting it right look easy.

V2VFDMDV7UI6TJ57ZCSDXBHOGEWhen “Ramy,” comedian Ramy Youssef’s Hulu show about a Muslim Egyptian American millennial debuted in April, it was facing down a lot of pop-culture history. Instead of being a terrorist or a nameless victim, Ramy is the show’s main character. Instead of presenting Islam as a brooding, world-historical force, “Ramy” made religion one of its major subjects, taking audiences inside one person’s spiritual journey. And “Ramy” took on these tasks as the first show on a mainstream, U.S. outlet that centers around Arab and Muslim experiences. That’s a lot of pressure to place on a freshman series, especially one that runs only 10 roughly 25-minute episodes.

But “Ramy” works because it embraces those challenges. Youssef has made it clear that this show is based on his experience as a first-generation American and that he does not expect every viewer to recognize themselves in the show. Instead of driving away viewers with different life stories, the specificity of “Ramy” is what makes it such a pleasure, whether you’re Muslim, Egyptian American, millennial or none of those things at all.

When I moved to the United States in 2010, I was struck by shows such as “Homeland” and “24,” in which the portrayals of Muslims and Arabs were based on negative stereotypes and tropes that are downright wrong and harmful to the Muslim community. We’re constantly portrayed as terrorists or barbaric villains, the women as exotic and oppressed, or caricatures with no depth or nuance. I was confused when I constantly saw a plethora of praise for these types of shows when I felt their representations of Arabs and Muslims were downright wrong. Why were they just ignoring what seemed obvious to me? And it wasn’t just the characters. It was the incorrect translations, the whitewashing of story lines, and the exaggeration of sets, accents and attire. The fact that such simple things were overlooked made me feel as though my culture didn’t matter. I was upset, but I quickly turned that anger into what I felt would be more useful: I wanted to be informative to others and to let people know that some of their favorite shows contain harmful errors.

Watching “Ramy,” by contrast, was refreshing. Instead of presenting Islam as nothing more than a spur to — or a check on — terrorism, “Ramy” explores a more familiar dilemma: Ramy fully embraces his religion but is torn by the temptations life has to offer“Master of None” tackled these tensions in a single second-season episode about the almost-magical allure of barbecued pork that struck me as simultaneously exaggerated and underdeveloped. “Ramy” has over-the-top elements, too, such as Ramy’s affair with a married woman, but the series treats temptation as a theme worth exploring at much greater length.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Islam and Hip-Hop: Muslims in America

maxresdefaultThough it’s one of the most diverse religious groups in America, the U.S. Muslim population has been subject to narrow interpretation and unfavorable stereotypes. The misconceptions about the “dangers” of the religion became much more prevalent post-9/11, resulting in a surge of Islamophobia and faith-based discrimination in the nation.

“Anti-Muslim sentiment is just systematic of a deeply entrenched anti-blackness that the country is built off of,” Imam Khalid Latif, executive director of the Islamic Center at NYU, told Complex. “And if people have to understand anything, and they’re trying to understand how to break this down, they got to know where it’s coming from.”

In an effort to shed more light on American-Muslim culture, we’re presenting Islam and Hip-Hop: Muslims in America—the latest installment of our docuseries, Complex News Presents. Speedy Mormon sat down with several members of the religion to discuss everything from representation in the media to institutionalized discrimination to the common thread between Islam and hip-hop.

FULL STORY AND VIDEO FROM COMPLEX

At Muslim Sunday school, learning about Islam — and correcting misconceptions

muslim_sunday_school-2-mansoorOff a highway in central Connecticut is the mosque with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school.

More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.

So before they head out into the “real world,” they aren’t just learning the tenets of Islam, said Dr. Reza Mansoor, their teacher on a recent Sunday. He’s coaching them on how to defend their faith from misconceptions.

“By the way, As-Salaam-Alaikum,” Mansoor greeted them. “If you use an Arabic term and you don’t translate, dinged one point, OK? So As-Salaam-Alaikum means God’s peace be with you all.”

Mansoor is president of the mosque, called Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and he is big on translating Islamic phrases and words. Take jihad, for instance. It means a struggle — usually a personal, spiritual one — but if you hear jihad in the media, he said, it’s almost always associated with extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam, like the 9/11 terrorists.

“If you use jihadist for terrorist, you unfortunately give the terrorists… a position much higher than what they are,” Mansoor told his students.

People tend to fear what they don’t know. And when Islam is viewed as a threat, that makes Muslims a target.

“Just imagine someone calling you a terrorist and telling you to go home,” Aissa Bensalem, 17, said during the class. “I had one of my friends say that they were scared to come to the masjid because they were afraid that they were going to be shot on.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CTMIRROR.ORG

Minnesota Muslims shift toward eco-friendly practices during Ramadan

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As the clock approached midnight, volunteers in the kitchen of the Islamic Center of Minnesota’s female-only clubhouse washed cutlery and ceramic plates to be used for the next iftar dinner in the days to come.

It made more work, but that meant less trash after the traditional evening meal to break the fast during Ramadan.

“A few years ago, when we decided to organize iftars, we reached out to the community and asked for old plates, silverware, dishes and cutlery. We have been using them since,” said Sally Hassan, director of the clubhouse, called Club ICM, in Fridley. “People are used to the convenience of using plastic or paper plates. They want the easy way out.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE