MUSLIMS IN CHICAGO SAY THAT TRUMP’S STATEMENTS HAVE PAINTED A TARGET ON THEIR BACKS

By Arnab Mondal
Medill Reports

As Dilara Sayeed, a 51-year old Muslim in Chicago, entered an office building for a meeting, she had an experience which she had thought almost unthinkable a few years ago.

Besides her office attire, Sayeed was also wearing a colorful hijab, a symbol of her faith. Sayeed is a social activist, an educator and a Harvard alumna. She also ran for election in the Illinois House of Representatives to represent District 5 in 2018. As such, her work and achievements, rather than her religion, had been at the forefront of most interactions.

As Sayeed got into the elevator, however she was confronted by an elderly white woman, a complete stranger, who said she would go to hell for wearing the hijab.

Sayeed said she hadn’t experienced this kind of negativity since she was growing up. “People used to yell things like ‘Go back to your country’,” she said. “I even got bullied constantly at school because of my religion.”

The situation had improved over the years as the Muslim community in Chicago grew, and people became more understanding towards Muslims. However, everything changed again when Donald Trump became president three years ago.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MEDILL REPORTS

What Happened in the Tennessean’s Newsroom After That “Indefensible” Anti-Muslim Ad

“I was feeling in myself, ‘Can I even come back to this place?’ ”

Subscribers of the Tennessean opened their Sunday papers last weekend to discover a full-page ad that warned a “nuclear device” would detonate in Nashville on July 18,. The ad said it would be set off by “Islam”—not by Muslims, not by a terrorist group, just by “Islam.” The ad, created by a fringe post-apocalyptic Christian organization called the ministry of Future for America, set off an immediate furor as it traveled online. The Tennessean itself called it “utterly indefensible” and rushed to find out how it had made it into print. By Monday, a sales manager had been fired.Alex Martin Smith@asmiff

This morning, the Nashville @Tennessean — the largest newspaper in the state — published a full-page ad from a far-right client warning “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee.” It’s accompanied by photos of Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

On Sunday, David Plazas, the opinion and engagement director at the Tennessean and the USA Today newsrooms in Tennessee, had started a furlough, like many of his colleagues, because of the coronavirus economic slowdown. He was immediately called back to address the crisis. We spoke on Tuesday about how the ad came to be, the paper’s firm response, and the impossible work of local journalism right now. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Aymann Ismail: When did you first see the ad?

David Plazas: I’m a print reader. I get the print newspaper to my home every day, and I was just as shocked an anybody, because I saw the ad at the same time that the majority of our leadership did. It was extremely upsetting. I was angry. I’ll be honest with you: I was feeling in myself, “Can I even come back to this place when I finish my furlough?” That was the initial raw emotion I had. But then I also said, I have the responsibility and the duty to do what I can to try to make this right. Because I have the capacity to do so.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE

When it comes to negative stereotypes, I feel your pain — twice! | Opinion

As an American Muslim and a law-enforcement officer, I’ve been drawing scary parallels between the Muslim and law-enforcement communities after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard all Muslims being painted with a broad brush of criticism and condemnation when only one commits an act of terrorism. Some Americans say things such as: “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim,” or “Muslims aren’t the problem, it’s the system of Islam,” or “Not enough Muslims speak out against terrorism.” The list goes on and on.

This type of rhetoric is the kind of inappropriate stereotyping that creates division and fear. Sometimes it’s based on pure bigotry. Muslim leaders often say, “There is a very small minority in the Muslim world that commits acts of terrorism,” or “Don’t blame all Muslims for the actions of a few,” or “Muslim leaders across the globe continuously condemn terrorism.”TOP

Besides verbal condemnation of the acts, there’s little or no systematic work done internally by the leadership of the Muslim community to deal with this deadly problem. This, of course, is a major grievance that continues to impact the entire globe which, in turn, fuels the negative stereotyping.

Muslims have reversed the negative stereotyping, and some leaders have started using the same rhetoric against law enforcement: “Police officers are racist.” “Police officers target the black community.” “You can’t say there are only a couple of bad cops. It’s the system that’s racist.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIAMI HERALD

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.

by Saba Aziz

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.

More:

The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.

US college pluralism story

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen] 

“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Scapegoating Muslims

A Religious Studies student brought a dish to her mother at work one day. She and a friend had been visiting a local mosque. The dish consisted of goat meat, rice, and cheese. Everyone working the shift that night sampled it. We all agreed it was delicious. She talked about how hospitable the Muslim community was. She and her friend had a good experience and intended to return.

When Was This?

This took place during the year 1997.  Up till then, most of us had negative views about Islam and Muslim countries. All of us were old enough to remember the hostage crisis involving the US embassy in Iran. We remembered the 1991 Gulf War. We forgot that most Muslim countries were allied with the US. The first attempt on the World Trade Center had been made in 1993. And some of our coworkers remembered the Black Muslim movement.

We knew the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) kept raising the price of oil causing gas prices to soar. Since we lived in the southeastern US, we heard about how Israel was always under threat from “Arabs.” We knew very little if anything about Arab Christians.

The 1995 bombing was first blamed on “Islamic terrorists” before it was learned that it was done by neo-Nazi terrorists. The primary suspect Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran. He murdered 168 people.

A Convenient Scapegoat

September 11, 2001 brought about more scapegoating of Muslims. President George W. Bush attempted to differentiate between “radical Muslims” such as Osama bin Laden’s Al Queda network and Muslims who wanted nothing to do with such groups. And then in 2003, President Bush initiated the War with Iraq as an extension of “The War on Terror.” All of his attempts to differentiate between Muslims evaporated in people’s minds.

Muslims are a minority in America. Islamic culture is definitely foreign. European history is rife with stories of conflicts with Muslims. The Song of Roland begins with a description of Muslim leaders in Spain as the real enemy. Muslims have played the role of “the other” in the minds of Americans due to this heritage from Europe.

Government officials try to make distinctions between Muslims that are neighbors and Muslims that are enemies. It is not working. The reason for that is very simple. The problem is fundamentalist Christianity.

Scapegoat Theology

The scapegoat is the person who takes the blame but doesn’t deserve it. In our usage it is synonymous with the “fall guy” in scandals. Leviticus 16 mandates a dual sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. Two goats are chosen. One is slaughtered as a “sin offering.” The next goat is the sins of the people and driven into the wilderness “for Azazel.” The latter is called “the scapegoat” in early English translations of the Bible.https://9f3de2b157f5773035d07814e8d39e24.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.htmlDriving the animal into the wilderness is supposed to be mean it has no place in the community. By being run off, the goat takes the sins away. What’s more is the goat doesn’t belong to the community either.

Fundamentalist Christianity looks for a clearly defined manifestation of the Enemy (Satan). It developed looking for enemies. There were no shortages of enemies. Evolution, Communism, Labor Unions, Feminism, Women Suffragists, and alcoholic beverages took their places in Hell’s kingdom. Why is Islam viewed as an enemy?

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Jeff Goldblum, Dr. Phil and the Clumsy Art of Celebrity Contrition

After saying something dangerous or ignorant, public figures tend to double down or give snarky non-apologies. The Hollywood Reporter columnist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offers them some advice.

12biz_kareemillo_w-h_2020One of Jeff Goldblum’s most famous movie lines is from Jurassic Park, when, as Dr. Ian Malcolm, he admonishes: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” The same can be said about stars when publicly offering their opinions to millions of people: They are so focused on the entitlement to speak, they don’t stop to think if they should. Now Goldblum faces media backlash for saying something that some argue is anti-Islam. He’s part of an ongoing media Geiger counter that tests every celebrity utterance to see if it’s radioactive. That’s as it should be, because their words can have a healing or harmful effect. And when it’s harmful, some choose to apologize, some to double down, and some offer a snarky non-apology.

Goldblum appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race and, while judging a contestant’s stars-and-stripes-themed hijab and caftan, mused, “Is there something in this religion that is anti-homosexuality and anti-woman? Does that complicate the issue? I’m just raising it and thinking out loud and maybe being stupid.” The internet exploded with accusations of malicious Islamophobia. As a Muslim who has faced insults and threats for more than 50 years, and has consistently called out anti-Muslim sentiments in politics and popular culture, I’d have to say this is not such a case. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t dumb. It just wasn’t malicious.

Everything depends on context. In this case, Goldblum wondered aloud — oblivious and ill-informed — about the contrast between the traditional Muslim outfit and the treatment of women and homosexuals on a show that celebrates both. He voiced a common myth about Islam, as well as about Judaism and Christianity: that they are monolithic religions with only a single viewpoint. Orthodox Judaism, Catholicism and evangelical Christianity often espouses what some would consider homophobic and misogynistic teachings. But there are many versions that teach acceptance. That Goldblum didn’t know this is disappointing; that he expressed the movie-villain version of Islam is dangerous because it perpetuates misunderstanding and hatred of Muslims.

Clearly, that was not Goldblum’s intention. Anyone who knows him from his interviews or watches his addictive The World According to Jeff Goldblum on Disney+ knows that part of his appeal is his quirky charm and think-aloud, off-kilter musings. Unfortunately, on RuPaul’s show these musings were not charming. But the backlash and the backlash to the backlash are merely the left and right flagrantly brandishing their street cred.

But there are plenty of examples of stars who have offered some heinous opinions and, when called out, refused to take responsibility or offered an insincere apology, despite the possibility of violence, injury or hate. Many of them take their lead from President Trump, who in recent weeks touted an unproven medicine for COVID-19 that resulted in an Arizona man dying (and causing a shortage of the medicine for lupus patients) and wondered about the potential of disinfectant being ingested or injected (resulting in three men drinking liquid cleaning products to ward off the virus and NYC Poison Control receiving twice the usual amount of calls). When asked whether he takes any responsibility for these men, Trump said, “No, I don’t.” The first step in a sincere apology is to take responsibility for your actions to show you are smart enough to understand the repercussions. Refusing to do so doesn’t make you look strong or right, it makes you look foolish and reckless.

Dr. Phil recently appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle to proclaim that the country was overreacting to COVID-19. Despite not being a medical doctor (his Ph.D. is in clinical psychology), he felt qualified to tell 3 million viewers that “45,000 people a year die from automobile accidents; 480,000 from cigarettes; 360,000 a year from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that. But yet we’re doing it for this? And the fallout is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed.” First, his opinion is contrary to all the data-driven medical opinions from experts. Second, his facts are wrong: According to the CDC, 32,000 Americans die annually from auto accidents and 3,536 a year die from unintentional drownings. Third, it’s a false analogy that doesn’t relate to how a contagion works.

His clarification was even worse: “Yes, I know those are not contagious, so probably bad examples. I referred to them as numbers of death we apparently find acceptable because we do little or nothing about them.” Now, he falsely claims we do nothing about these problems. Is he not aware of vigorous anti-texting, anti-drinking ads to curb auto accidents or pool safety campaigns in every state? Worst of all was his apology: “If you didn’t like my choice of words, I apologize for that.” It blames the viewer for taking offense, for not being smart enough to understand his true meaning. This is the Real Housewives Syndrome: Every apology is phrased “I’m sorry that you were offended …” and not “I was wrong.”

Two celebrities who got it right when it comes to apologizing are Miley Cyrus and Lizzo. In 2017, Cyrus complained that rap lyrics were too lewd, adding, “I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little.” YouTuber Kenya Wilson, a Cyrus fan, responded with a video saying, “It wasn’t the right thing to say, it was bad, it was racially insensitive, it had racist undertones and it wasn’t OK, point blank, period.” Afterward, Cyrus wrote in Wilson’s comment section: “I am aware of my platform and have always used it the best way I know how and to shine a light on injustice. I want to start with saying I am sorry. I own the fact that saying … ‘this pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little’ was insensitive as it is a privilege to have the ability to dip in and out of ‘the scene.'”

In September 2019, Lizzo tweeted, “Hey @Postmates this girl Tiffany W. stole my food. she lucky I don’t fight no more.” Further investigation showed the driver had tried to deliver the food but no one answered the door, and Lizzo promptly apologized: “I apologize for putting that girl on blast. I understand I have a large following and that there were so many variables that could’ve put her in danger. Imma really be more responsible with my use of social media and check my petty and my pride at the door.”

Both were humble, contrite and mature.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 

The Coronavirus Is Empowering Islamophobes — but Exposing the Idiocy of Islamophobia

GettyImages-1208729252-edit-1024x707IF ANTI-SEMITISM is the world’s oldest hatred, perhaps Islamophobia is the world’s weirdest.

How else to explain the fact that a pandemic of global and historic proportions, a novel coronavirus that is infecting people in almost every country and territory on Earth, has been weaponized by the far right to attack … Islam and Muslims?

Take India, where the spread of the virus has been dubbed a “corona jihad” by supporters of the far-right BJP government; they  claim the pandemic is a conspiracy by Muslims to infect and poison Hindus. The government itself has blamed around a third of India’s confirmed Covid-19 cases on a gathering held in Delhi by a conservative Muslim missionary group called the Tablighi Jamaat; one BJP minister called it a “Talibani crime.” As The Guardian reports, “Muslims have now seen their businesses across India boycotted, volunteers distributing rations called ‘coronavirus terrorists’, and others accused of spitting in food and infecting water supplies with the virus. Posters have appeared barring Muslims from entering certain neighbourhoods in states as far apart as Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh.” There have even been reports of Indian Muslims being attacked, beaten, and lynched.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INTERCEPT 

My Muslim friend Ali and my Christian commitment to his life of faith

How American hostility toward Muslims has shaped my pastoral vocation

011520faithmattersDuring Sunday worship 13 years ago, my district minister invited me to the front to bless me in my first pastoral calling. I stood with her, looking at all the faces of church members and community friends, side by side, snug in the pews. She asked, “Will you seek to be faithful in prayer, in setting forth the scriptures, and in seeking the good of this congregation?” As I said yes I glanced around the room, my eyes meeting those of my friends—people who weren’t members of the church but had come together to support me, to affirm my calling.

With my yes I made a commitment to this whole gathering, church members and others. They embodied, for an hour, a mestizaje of lives from different traditions, to borrow a concept from mujerista theologians. That congregation was an amalgamated body, a hybrid of people rooted in various communities. For my identity as a minister, the line between the church and the world has been permeable from the beginning, a calling to a congregation of mixed constitution.

Among the gathered body that day was my friend Ali. Over the years he had visited our Mennonite community for Sunday worship and I had joined his Muslim community for Friday prayers. Our communal singing captivated him; their embodied reverence mesmerized me. Once I went with him to Eid al-Fitr, the service at the end of Ramadan where Muslims come together for their salat, their worshipful devotion. That year they gathered in the main arena at the state fairgrounds. We took off our shoes and added them to the endless lines along the walls. With his prayer rug tucked under his arm, Ali walked me to the chairs for non-Muslim guests before he weaved his way through men sitting cross-legged on their mats. I watched him roll out his rug, lift his hands to his ears, drop his arms to his side, then reach his arms to hold each other across his chest. He and the others stood in silence, waiting for the imam to lead the first takbir, the invitation to call upon God.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN CENTURY 

Kuala Lumpur Summit: Five major issues facing Muslim world

Leaders from some of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nations set to address issues like Islamophobia, poverty.

8640640e438d4a4d9b7181c2d155a779_18Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Leaders from some of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority countries are set to meet in Malaysia‘s capital on Thursday to address issues such as Islamophobia and poverty, with the organisers insisting the event is not meant to rival the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will preside over the meeting with fellow heads of state, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is also expected to attend.

According to the organisers, at least 250 foreign representatives from 52 countries and 150 Malaysian delegates will also join the KL Summit. They include government officials, scholars and leaders from various non-government sectors.

But there are also notable absences, including the leaders of Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to the Karachi-based Business Recorder, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan cancelled his trip after a visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

On Tuesday, Kuala Lumpur-based news website Malaysiakini reported that Khan had called Mahathir to apologise for his absence. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will attend instead.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Controversial anti-Islam speaker attracts twice the crowd in Willmar(Minnesota) with protest and prayer vigil outside

110819.n.wct.BookClub1.0058WILLMAR — Usama Dakdok’s first visit to Willmar was a quiet and private affair last month, but his second visit was anything but that.

Two very different crowds gathered Thursday evening at the Kennedy Elementary School, where the Egyptian-born pastor of the Straight Way of Grace Ministry came to deliver his message that Islam is dangerous. It’s a message he’s been delivering to communities in Minnesota and other states for more than a decade.

Outside the school, well over 200 people joined under the message “we are better together” to celebrate Willmar for its cultural diversity. The diverse crowd, including many from Willmar’s Somali community, came in opposition to Dakdok, but focused on their message: Willmar is an inclusive and welcoming community.

The Rev. Dane Skilbred, Vinje Lutheran Church of Willmar, and Aden Hassan, imam for the Islamic Society of Willmar, joined in celebrating the city’s “welcoming resolution” in a formal address to the crowd. An interfaith group including leaders from ISAIAH, a coalition of faith communities, and the Islamic Society of Willmar helped organize the gathering as a prayer vigil.

Some who joined the event felt moved to grab the megaphone and offer their own words to celebrate the community.

“We are here for the right reason,” said Bonnie Hauser, semi-retired after serving as an elementary instructor in the Willmar Schools. Hauser told the audience that she was proud to be a Willmar teacher, where children of different ethnic and faith backgrounds learn together.

“This is what I know my community could be,” said Jessica Rohloff, a lifelong Willmar resident and a community organizer.

Najib Aqib, a member of Willmar’s Somali community, didn’t grab the megaphone, but he was among those who joined to support the prayer vigil. He said he moved to Willmar in 2005 and has found it to be a very welcoming community, and that is why he came to the event.

“This is the best place to live,” he told the West Central Tribune.

FULL ARTICLE AND VIDEO FROM WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE