Film highlighting interfaith prayer at the U.S.-Mexico border set for release

san diegoOn the last Sunday of every month, the Muslim call to prayer sounds across the U.S.-Mexico border. A Christian service also begins, as a sermon is delivered.

These are the shots captured in the short film, “A Prayer Beyond Borders”, produced by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) California, MoveOn and Beyond Border Studios.

Members of the Christian and Muslim community in San Diego and Tijuana gather at both sides of Friendship Park to pray, listen to sermons and congregate. Gathering at the space is a way to show support to separated families at the border, according to a statement from CAIR San Diego.

The film, which will be officially launched on Oct.7, was months in the making. The Border Church, founded by Rev. John Fanestil, has been holding prayer services at Friendship Park since 2008. They were approached by some of the city’s Muslim community, now dubbed “The Border Mosque”, around six months ago. A collaboration soon sprung up.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUTE 

Ambivalent nativism: Trump supporters’ attitudes toward Islam and Muslim immigration

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Trump speaks at a campaign rally in HamptonEditor’s Note:This working paper is part of a multi-year Brookings project—”The One Percent Problem: Muslims in the West and the Rise of the New Populists.” Other papers in the series are available here.

Contents:

  1. Islam and the American Right
  2. Survey data on Trump voters’ attitudes towards Muslims and other groups
  3. Trump supporters’ views on Islam, national identity, and immigration in their own words
  4. Conclusion

Despite representing a little more than one percent of the total U.S. population,[1] American Muslims have long been viewed with suspicion by their fellow citizens. This has been true since the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis in the late 1970s, but American attitudes toward Islam turned especially negative following the September 11 terrorist attacks, which many American commentators blamed directly on Islamic religious doctrines.[2]

 

The political right in the United States, on average, has exhibited more suspicion of Islam and Muslims than the political left, and many conservative media personalities have expressed considerable hostility towards Muslims.[3] Other conservative political and intellectual leaders have called for religious tolerance, however. Thus, conservatives in the electorate have received mixed messages from elected Republicans and conservative opinion leaders. American attitudes toward Islam and Muslims became an especially important subject after Donald Trump was elected president on a right-wing populist platform that explicitly called for a ban on Muslim immigration. This paper examines Trump supporters’ views on questions of Islam, immigration, and national identity. Beyond asking whether Trump’s supporters favor exclusionary policies, I investigate how strongly these supporters feel about Islam, considering whether opposition to Islam is a critical part of their political worldview, or just one element of a broader nativism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE SITE 

For American Muslims, family border separations are personal

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(RNS) — When Imam Arjan Abu Sa’ad turned on the news to see reports of toddlers being pulled from their families and detained in cages after crossing the U.S. border, he was shocked. 

“I never thought I would see that in America,” he said.

So when members of his Tampa, Fla., congregation came to him, also feeling helpless in the face of separated families’ anguish, the imam realized they had an opportunity to live out their faith.

“The message of Islam is mercy to humanity,” said Abu Sa’ad. “Our faith commands us … to be part of the solution and not the problem.”

On June 22, two days after President Trump signed an executive order ending his family separation policy, the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area (ISTABA) held a news conference at which the group offered to host every migrant child separated from his or her parents. The offer includes covering all transportation costs.

“Our ultimate goal is to protect the children,” said Ahmed Bedier, who heads the mosque’s public outreach. The idea was originally his; as the founder of the organization United Voices for America, he’s long worked on increasing Muslim civic engagement. Surrounding him as he spoke were a group of Muslim mothers who had volunteered to take detained children into their homes and a few local interfaith leaders. “These children continue to be housed and locked up into these detention centers, which we find to be unacceptable.”

Bedier told Religion News Service that the mosque is still awaiting a response from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, after his contacts in the Department of Homeland Security rerouted the offer there.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

How cities help immigrants feel at home: 4 charts

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As anti-immigrant sentiment erupts in Western democracies from Germany to the United States, some cities are still finding ways to make immigrants feel at home.

I conducted hundreds of interviews with immigrants in New York, Paris and Barcelona intermittently for over a decade to understand how each city integrates – or excludes – its migrants.

My new book, “A Place to Call Home,” explains why some cities and their residents do better at incorporating foreign-born newcomers in the local economy, culture and politics.

A feeling of belonging

On the surface, immigration in these three cities looks quite different.

Over one-third of all New Yorkers were born abroad, the majority of them in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Paris, where 20 percent of the population is foreign-born, most immigrants and their children come from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and other former French colonies in North Africa.

Much of Barcelona’s immigrant population, around 17.8 percent of its total population, is Latin American or Moroccan.

Despite their diverse origins, the immigrants I spoke with consistently cited the same elements as being critical to their sense of urban belonging, helping them to feel “at home” while working, socializing and raising a family in the city.

New York and Barcelona, it turns out, foster this sense of belonging more than Paris does.

Nearly 70 percent of the first-generation Latino immigrants I interviewed in New York City feel that they are part of the community. Just under half of first-generation Moroccans in Barcelona felt that way. But only 19 percent of North Africans in Morocco feel like part of the community.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION 

On World Refugee Day, Muslim family recalls warmer welcome in decades past

srebrenicaDURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — Long before President Trump’s travel ban, barring entry to the U.S. from several mostly Muslim countries, and before millions of Syrians and Iraqis fleeing civil war began flooding Europe and trickling into the U.S., there was another wave of Muslim migration to this county.

Almasa Bass was among them.

She and about 130,000 other Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, settled in the U.S. as a result of the bloody conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Arriving in Washington state as a teenager alongside her parents and her younger sister, Bass started life anew — learning a new language and a new culture and adopting a new national identity.

On World Refugee Day (June 20), established by the United Nations to draw attention to the plights of the world’s 68.5 million displaced people (about 25 million are refugees), Bass is grateful to President Clinton and the U.S. for providing her family refuge and a home.

But she looks around with sadness at the difference 20-plus years have wrought.

“When we came here we felt welcomed. We never felt any vitriol, and to this day I never felt any animosity because of who I am,” said Bass, 41, who now lives in Durham, N.C., with her husband and 8-year-old son.

Trump has slashed the total number of refugees who will be admitted into the U.S., from 110,000 in fiscal 2017 — a bar set by former President Obama — to 45,000 in fiscal 2018, which started in October.

He has pushed for a crackdown on asylum seekers, a reduction in immigrant visas and the construction of a border wall. His “zero-tolerance” policy calls for criminal prosecution of all those caught illegally crossing the border. And in recent weeks he separated parents and children at the border.

It’s part of a larger post-World War II rethinking about refugees and other migrants happening not only in the United States but across Europe, too, said Niklaus Steiner, director of the Center for Global Initiatives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

Holy Alliance of Jews, Christians, Muslims Protects Migrants From Trump’s Deportation Efforts

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Last summer, the pastor and rabbi of a church and synagogue that share a building in Denver raised their hands in blessing over the head of Araceli Velasquez and officially welcomed the undocumented immigrant and her family to take sanctuary in their house of worship.

Nearly a year on, Velasquez, her husband and three young sons are still living in the cavernous, 100-year-old building that is home to Temple Micah and Park Hill United Methodist Church.

Velasquez came to the United States to flee the gang violence she had experienced in her native El Salvador, but her asylum request was denied.

The subsequent decision to give her sanctuary is part of a groundswell of grassroots actions by Christians, Jews and Muslims seeking to protect undocumented immigrants in the United States – particularly Latinos – who are facing an unprecedented crackdown under the administration of President Donald Trump to detain and deport them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HA’ARETZ

Don’t Mess With This Muslim From Texas—He Just Got Elected!

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Something truly wonderful happened in Texas on Saturday night. In between a rodeo championship in Fort Worth, a country music festival in Austin and people honky tonkin’ from Amarillo to San Antonio, history was being made in the mid-size city of Euless, Texas.

In this north Texas city that boasts a population of a little over 50,000, the good people there elected the first minority ever to the Euless City Council. And not only that, the person they elected by a 37-vote margin was both a Muslim and a Pakistani immigrant by the name of Salman Bhojani.

A Muslim immigrant winning an election in Trump’s America, where he’s made anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry a cornerstone of his campaign, is truly inspiring—especially in a red state like Texas. While Bhojani was subject to anti-Muslim attacks during the campaign, his win truly represents a victory of American values over Trump’s un-American views.

But this wasn’t an easy win for Bhojani, who possesses all the qualifications of someone who should easily win a local race. He’s a Boy Scout leader, a family man, has served on the city’s parks board for four years and is a lawyer practicing in the area. If he were Christian and white, I bet the GOP would’ve loved to recruit Bhojani.

But he’s not. Bhojani is a brown, Muslim Pakistani immigrant who came to America in 1999. And while the election was non-partisan, that didn’t stop a Republican state representative—who was not even a candidate in the race—from trying to gin up anti-Muslim animus. So there was Texas representative and Trump wannabe Jonathan Strickland doing his best to scare local voters about the dangers of a Muslim American seeking elected office.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST

A Muslim immigrant and a Christian pastor find common ground — and try to connect with their Latino neighbors too

Abdul-Dan-1020-1Abdul Taleb has run Mi Carnal market for 12 years. It’s a corner grocery store on busy Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland. People in this low-income neighborhood, known as the San Antonio district, stop in to buy fresh mangoes or cuts of meat.

In this neighborhood, where 42 percent of the residents are foreign-born according to the latest available Census estimates, customers might come from Mexico, Guatemala or Cambodia. East Oakland, the 94601 zip code, is nearly half Latino, 20 percent black and 20 percent Asian. One of Taleb’s customers is Dan Schmitz, who for nearly 30 years has lived in the Oak Park apartments, just a five-minute walk from Mi Carnal.

“I’ve known and shared meals with Abdul for a long time,” says Schmitz. “That’s just part of the nature of the neighborhood.”

The two men often engage in the kind of chitchat that usually takes place between a shopkeeper and a customer: the weather or the price of milk. And it might have stayed that way, had it not been for Donald Trump winning the presidential election last November. Only after the election did both Schmitz and Taleb realize how much immigration policy factored into their spiritual callings.

Taleb himself is an immigrant; he came to America at age five. His grandfather was the trailblazer of the family, leaving Yemen for the US in the 1970s. The older Taleb first worked as a farmhand in Fresno, and eventually moved to Oakland where he opened a pair of Mi Carnal grocery stores. These are the stores Abdul Taleb now runs.

“I grew up in the neighborhood,” Taleb explains. “I have managed to learn the Spanish language very well so I can communicate with a lot of my customers and friends.”

Schmitz watched Taleb grow up. He came to the neighborhood in 1989 to volunteer with a Christian charity. Now, Schmitz is the lead pastor of the New Hope Covenant Church, located just a few blocks away from Mi Carnal market.

After the election of President Trump, anxiety was high. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates 10 percent of people in the city of Oakland are undocumented.

By Christmas, Schmitz and his congregation — mostly college educated whites and Asians — felt they had to offer their neighbors more than holiday goodwill. So they set up a table in front of one of Taleb’s Mi Carnal markets, handing out gift bags and “know your rights” flyers in both English and Spanish about what to do if you are questioned by immigration agents.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PRI.ORG

Anti-Muslim, Anti-Refugee Rhetoric Poses a Big Threat to Our Communities

58cc424b2c00003b00fef053By Mohamed Abdulkadir Ali

Wednesday saw a significant blow to the Trump administration’s attempts to institute a Muslim ban. A Federal Judge in Hawaii struck down a revised travel ban, saying it was driven by “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” as evidenced by comments made by the administration and Trump himself. As a Somali-American living and working in a large refugee community, this animus has long been apparent and has deeply affected me and those in my community.

Since the launch of his presidential campaign two years ago, Donald Trump seemed to have a particularly virulent animus toward us Somalis. In stops in Minneapolis, and Lewiston, all home to large Somali refugee populations, he referred to Somalis as a “disaster” to the communities they moved to, as a dangerous threat to their neighbors, and as potential terrorists. This was underscored by repeated calls to prevent Muslims from entering the country, warnings of the dangers of Muslim refugees, and denunciations of Islam as an enemy of America.  Many in our community called it hate.

Why does he hate us” was an often repeated question.

When the executive order was announced in January, it was clear to many of us that its creation was driven by this hatred.  Statements of securing our nation and preventing a terrorist threat, many of them baseless, could not cloak that this order was an amalgamation of Trump’s unique brand of cheap jingoism, xenophobia, racism, and Islamophobia.  We were being targeted, because of our nationality, of the color of our skin, and of our religion. When the second version of the order was released, despite attempts to “water down” language targeting Muslims, it could not sterilize the intent. Two years of anti-Muslim speeches and rhetoric are well documented and videos of him railing against refugees and Muslims can be easily found on Youtube.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

 

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Trump blocks Muslim refugees, America loses a part of itself

ct-immigration-ban-protest-photos-20170128Let me address those celebrating President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees from Syria and other predominantly Muslim countries.

Let me address those who think keeping out Muslim refugees has somehow made us safer. That it has somehow made America better. That it has somehow shown us to be strong.

You are wrong. Woefully, embarrassingly, pathetically wrong.

As Trump signed the order Friday — with Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, two men who had previously denounced such an order, standing at his side, complicit — the terrorists won. The Islamic State militant group won.

This is exactly what they wanted. For us to defy who we are, who we’ve always been.

They can claim victory for getting us to bend to their will, not due to force, but due to fear. Baseless, unfounded fear. Fear that is not becoming of most Americans I know. Fear ginned up for purely political purposes. Fear that will now cost innocent children, women and men their lives and any chance at a future. Fear that will embolden our enemies and help drive up their numbers as the evil portrait they paint of us — as a Western power at war with Islam — is confirmed in some young minds.

Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Chicago advocates condemn Trump’s order on refugees, migrants
Part of who we are went away as that order was signed. And we are not better for it — not at all.

We don’t look strong. We look cowardly.

And each and every person out there celebrating this decision, you don’t look tough. You don’t look patriotic. You look ignorant. And weak. Because you have turned your back on people in need.

You who are Christians have gone against everything Jesus taught. Everything.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE