In many ways, life has not changed for many of my Muslim friends and me because the world has not changed. However, hope exists
A body on the floor of a place of worship is still a body
The fall, and the thump, and the snap
There is nothing beautiful about the way the blood sprays the sacred walls
The way it hangs itself a tapestry of death and despair
And we dig deep
We try to find the beauty in tragedy
The scars of the Christchurch massacre linger. Time has carpeted the pain. Slowly but surely, the shock recedes until all we feel is the echo of the tragedy. One year on after HajiDaoud Nabi walked out of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch and uttered the words “Welcome, brother” only to be met with bullets in response.
“Al Noor” is an Arabic term which means “the light”. In the Qur’an, the term is used to describe the divine light of God. A light that a man filled with hatred tried to extinguish when he opened fire on dozens of innocent people in their place of worship on their holiest day of the week.
At the start of this month, I felt a sense of anxiety. I thought it was just me. In preparing to write this piece, I started reaching out to my Muslim friends to check in with them and ask how they were feeling with the one year anniversary of the tragedy fast approaching. The responses have been similar in many ways – united by a common thread of sadness, fear, frustration, and a deep sense that pain is still felt.
The burgeoning field of Muslim literature, and Muslim fiction, in particular, is an exciting development for the English-speaking Muslim community. However, it is necessary for Muslim writers to seriously consider the quality of their work.
Once upon a time, it was extremely difficult for English-speaking Muslims to find good books – fiction and non-fiction alike – that was catered to their demographic. Fiction, in particular, was scarce, for both young children as well as teens. Much of it was poorly written, filled with atrocious spelling and grammar, and stilted from beginning to end.
It was not an enjoyable reading experience.
Alhamdulillah, the Muslim literary scene has evolved significantly since the early 90s. Today, we have award-winning Muslim authors such as Na’ima B. Robert, whose excellent YA novels have been published through mainstream publishers and numerous emerging writers whose debut novels are wonderful contributions to the existing body of modern Muslim literature.
Muslim publishers such as Kube Publishing, Daybreak Press, and Ruqaya’s Bookshelf are taking the lead in producing and distributing stories by and for Muslims. In addition, the publishing company Simon and Schuster launched an entire division dedicated to books by Muslim writers. Hena Khan, S. K. Ali, Karuna Riazi, and Mark Gonzales are just some of the authors whose Muslim-centered stories have been published through Salaam Reads and made accessible to schools, libraries, and the general public. The We Need Diverse Books movement has also played a significant role in promoting multicultural and marginalized voices within mainstream publishing, and the results are wonderful.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Days after Gulf Arab states expressed their support for President Donald Trump’s efforts at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, representatives from these same countries and other Muslim nations gathered in Saudi Arabia and rejected the White House’s plan as “biased.”
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the kingdom backs efforts that push for negotiations, but said such initiatives must reach a fair resolution that ensures the rights of the Palestinian people “through the creation of an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
He spoke at a gathering in the Saudi city of Jiddah for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which denounced Trump’s plan.
The formal rebuke by the OIC comes just days after Arab League nations unanimously rejected the White House’s proposals at a meeting in Cairo, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cut security ties with Israel and referred to White House adviser Jared Kushner, the chief architect of the plan, as simply Trump’s son-in-law.
The White House plan heavily favors Israel and ignores many of the Palestinians’ core demands by keeping some 750,000 Jewish settlers in place, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty of the strategic Jordan Valley, and asserting Jerusalem as the “undivided capital” of Israel.
Muslims from across the state will gather in Frankfort on Wednesday for the inaugural Muslim Day at the state Capitol.
People of the Islamic faith will tour the Capitol building, meet and speak with legislators who represent them, receive training on how to advocate for issues affecting the Muslim community, listen to guest speakers, including state legislators and national representatives of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and have a silent prayer in the Capitol rotunda.
The free event starts at 9 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. It’s sponsored by the Kentucky Chapter of CAIR and multiple city partners in respective Muslim communities. Lunch will be provided by the Islamic Center of Frankfort.
Ashiq Zaman, president of the Islamic Center of Frankfort, says he’s “very excited about the first statewide Muslim gathering in our capital city.”
“Muslim communities have organized locally in almost all corners of Kentucky for a while,” he said. “We find Muslim-owned businesses and restaurants serving halal (permissible) food pretty common.
“Muslim communities run Islamic centers, charitable organizations and even Islamic schools are becoming common in major cities in our state. However, I am not aware of any attempt to organize Muslims statewide.”
Imagine if China had incarcerated upwards of a million Christians. Or India said it would take all refugees except Christian ones. The west would be in a state of frenzy. Since both China and India’s targets are Muslim, their cause is given short shrift. Both US president Donald Trump and UK prime minister Boris Johnson claim to champion oppressed Christians. By downplaying much larger-scale violations against Muslims, they jeopardise what remains of the west’s human rights credibility. Such passivity reinforces the global shift to religious nationalism that began in the Muslim world.
The coming year will test whether these double standards are here to stay. Because Muslims are resented more than other minorities, their plight tests whether liberal democracy means what it claims to mean.
There are two reasons Muslims rank lower on the global totem pole than other groups. The first is politics. Opinion polls across the west — and beyond — show Muslims as the least trusted minority. They are thought to integrate less well and be more supportive of terrorism. People believe the Muslim reproductive rate is higher than other groups. Almost a quarter of the world’s population — roughly 1.8bn people — are Muslim.
The second is how badly most of the Muslim world treats its minorities. Whether it is Coptic Christians in Egypt, Shias in Saudi Arabia, or Sunnis in Iran, Muslim-majority countries are among the worst places in to be a minority. Do not even think of being Jewish in an Arab country. Combine these two stereotypes and you have a world that is largely callous about the fate of Muslims where they are a minority. To put it crudely, popular opinion is telling them to taste their own medicine. The fact that Muslim countries, particularly in the Arab world, have barely raised a whisper against the plight of the Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang, or protested against India’s Hindu nationalist makeover, only underlines the loneliness of Muslim minorities. Even their own look the other way.
Back in December 2015, you spoke out loudly and proudly against anti-Muslim hatred. “I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world,” you wrote in a post on Facebook, two days after then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced his plan for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country. “After the Paris attacks and hate this week,” you added, “I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others.”
The headline in the New York Times? “Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Reassures Muslim Users.”
Yet here we are in December 2019. Four years later, you and Facebook have gone from reassuring Muslims to amplifying hate and bigotry against us. You have allowed what the actor Sacha Baron Cohen recently described as “the greatest propaganda machine in history” to be used to target and persecute some of the most vulnerable Muslim communities on Earth.
FOR STARTERS, MARK, how does it feel to be complicit in an actual genocide?
I’m talking of course about the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. In March 2018, the chairman of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told reporters that social media companies like yours had played a “determining role” in the violence, having “substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict.”
Hit show Homeland is about to end, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.
By Mohammad Zaheer
21 June 2019
One of Hollywood’s many ugly truths is that, for all its claims to be a progressive industry, it has relied heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes, catering to and shaping the prejudices that are prevalent amongst its audience. This is especially true when it comes to who it chooses as its villains.
Even though the Cold War ended decades ago, Russians have remained a favoured variety of bad guy, and Germans have also had a rough ride thanks to the countless number of Nazi evildoers who have appeared on screen since World War Two.
But since the turn of the millennium, the demographic who has undoubtedly been the greatest single target for demonisation are Muslim-Arabs. Even before the events of 9/11, they found themselves portrayed variously as sleazy oil rich sex pests, exotic subservient women, misogynists and/or militant terrorists. But the tragedy of September 11 2001 and the subsequent war on terror only exacerbated their negative typecasting.