Muslim members of Congress host Ramadan feast at the Capitol

CONGRESSWhile Rep. Ilhan Omar fasts during Ramadan from food and water — and even, she is quick to point out, from coffee — her responsibilities as a congresswoman often keep her from breaking her daily fast at a celebratory iftar meal. Sometimes, she said, it’s a quick bite to eat after the sun sets and then back to the House floor for a vote or to a committee meeting.

But not on Monday. On this night, halfway through the month-long holiday of Ramadan, Omar enjoyed a buffet of food as she and two other Muslim members of Congress hosted some fellow members for a traditional Ramadan meal.

The congressional iftar, hosted at the Capitol, was a night for Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) to explain their faith to their colleagues. Of course a break-the-fast meal in the halls of Congress included a hefty serving of politics alongside the naan and kebabs.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

How a controversial Muslim figure helped ignite the controversy over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments

2e09b7d31a5f7beb9549b0a041bbbec5(RNS) — Since President Trump tweeted a provocative video juxtaposing clips of Rep. Ilhan Omar and the falling Twin Towers, Omar has faced a surge of criticism along with direct threats of violence, both online and offline.

But how did a video of Omar’s comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, part of a speech about how Muslims should not lose their civil liberties because of the actions of extremists, explode into such a massive controversy?

Credit a controversial Australian imam, little known in the U.S. until now.

For three weeks, the contents of Omar’s 20-minute speech at a Council on American-Islamic Relations fundraising banquet last month went virtually unnoticed.

Then a video clip about the speech landed in the path of Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who posted about it on Twitter: “First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something’. Unbelievable.”

Crenshaw didn’t appear to have come across the clip on Fox News, which broadcast the entire speech live, nor did he seem to have come across it on a right-wing blog or news site.

Crenshaw had actually retweeted a post by Australia’s Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, who had uploaded a clip of Omar’s speech to Twitter and claimed that her speech minimized the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

America’s Islamophobia Is Forged at the Pulpit

gettyimages-97549379-1The first time I remember hearing Islam equated with terrorism from the pulpit, I was a 17-year-old junior at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis, where my mom was—still is, in fact—an elementary teacher. It was 1998, long before Islamophobia seized the Western mainstream. My family attended a small, nondenominational evangelical church in the suburb of Carmel, where my dad was the music pastor.

“A good Muslim,” our head pastor, Marcus Warner, intoned that Sunday morning, “should want to kill Christians and Jews.” He insisted that this was the only conclusion possible from a serious reading of the Quran. As a doubting young evangelical who would later become an agnostic, this extreme statement made me uncomfortable even then. Today, in the wake of the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, it should be considered every bit as offensive as the worst anti-Semitic tropes .

But a harsh double standard has been in effect, as the brouhaha over the comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) proved. The United States recognizes anti-Semitism for the poison it is, and polices—at least on the left—even accidental falling into its tropes. But the religiously inspired Islamophobia I grew up with continues to shape Washington’s foreign policy—and Islamophobic statements too often pass without criticism in the public sphere.

To be sure, the statements about Israel by Omar, one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to U.S. Congress, did conjure up anti-Semitic tropes. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, she chose her words more carefully, avoiding the rhetoric of “allegiance” that rightly caused many to criticize her language. Some of that criticism, however, was not only made in bad faith—it was shaped by the very Islamophobia that darkly mirrors anti-Semitism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY 

Five myths about hijab

From hijabi Barbie to the hijabi emoji, the Muslim headscarf is now ubiquitous. For some, a woman with her hair covered or her face veiled evokes victimhood and a system of domination, or perhaps exoticism (think of the real-life and theatrical versions of “Not Without My Daughter”). Fox News host Jeanine Pirro stoked those fears this month when she said the “hee-jab” worn by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is “antithetical” to the Constitution. That’s one of many myths that persist about wearing hijab.

MYTH NO. 1
‘Hijab’ means’headscarf.’

This month, Army Times reported on an alleged incident in which an Army sergeant was ordered to remove her headscarf by a senior noncommissioned officer, even though the sergeant had “an approved exemption from her brigade commander to wear a hijab in uniform.” In a story about first lady Melania Trump covering her head for a 2017 audience with the pope but eschewing a scarf for a visit to Saudi Arabia, NBC News reported that the Saudi government “did not request that Mrs. Trump wear a head covering known as a hijab, or a headscarf.”

“Hijab” means “curtain” or “partition,” not “headscarf.” The Koran uses forms of the words “khimar” and “jilbab,” but not “hijab,” when describing women’s dress. “Khimar” means “cover” and corresponds to what we would call a scarf; “jilbab” is an outer garment.

“Hijab” has become a common way of describing a Muslim woman’s head covering, but sharia rules on modesty are about more than covering one’s hair — they deal with a range of attire and conduct, applicable to both men and women, intended to protect interactions between men and women from sexual innuendo. It’s not necessarily offensive to use “hijab” as a synonym for “headscarf.” (It’s a lot closer than other terms, as long as you say “wearing hijab” rather than “wearing a/the hijab.”) But either way, fixating on one piece of cloth misses the point of sharia’s holistic rules for modest behavior.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Do Republicans Believe in Religious Liberty for Muslims?

181129-Obeidallah-Ilhan-Omar-tease_edcminIlhan Omar, the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, will be seated next January. Will Republicans back a rule change ensuring her right to wear it on the floor?

Donald Trump and his GOP talk and talk about their love of “religious liberty.” In May, there was Trump declaring that religious freedom is a “priority” of his administration.  And in July, Trump’s Department of Justice even announced the formation of a religious liberty task force.

Well, if Trump and the GOP truly believe that religious liberty is not just for Christians, then here’s a no-brainer for them. The Republicans in the House should unanimously support a recently proposed rule to ensure religious liberty for a soon-to-be-sworn-in Muslim member of Congress and push back against the anti-Muslim voices in their party when they attack this change—which, if history is any guide, they will!

Come January 3, 2019, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will be the first Muslim member of Congress ever to wear a hijab (head scarf). The problem is that a House rule enacted in 1837 bans any type of headwear, which would include Omar’s headscarf.

In response, Democratic House leader and expected next speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has formally proposed to ditch this 181-year-old ban on headwear in order to “ensure religious expression.” As Pelosi explained to NBC News, “After voters elected the most diverse Congress in history, clarifying the antiquated rule banning headwear will further show the remarkable progress we have made as a nation.”

This rule, while on the books, doesn’t seem to have been enforced. As AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, explained in an email, “Under both Republican and Democratic Speakers, the House has never prohibited any kind of religious headwear.” That’s great to hear. But forgive me if I’m not quite reassured.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST