Number of Muslims in Japan More than Doubles in A Decade

Many are students who study nearby at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University (APU) and work part-time at the hotels around town. Others have come to man the fishing boats and shipyards that the ageing and shrinking local population can no longer fully staff.

The ranks of worshippers have grown in recent years, as the government has sought to attract more foreign workers and students.

The number of Muslims living in Japan, though small, has more than doubled in the past decade, from 110,000 in 2010 to 230,000 at the end of 2019 (including as many as 50,000 Japanese converts), according to Tanada Hirofumi of Waseda University.

The country boasts more than 110 mosques. That is a welcome change, notes Muhammad Tahir Abbas Khan, a professor at APU and the head of the Beppu Muslim Association (BMA).

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL QURAN NEWS AGENCY

Supreme Court says Muslims placed on no-fly list can sue FBI agents for damages

  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of three Muslim men who said they were placed or kept on the government’s no-fly list in retaliation for refusing to serve as terrorism informants for the FBI.
  • The court wrote in a unanimous opinion that the men may sue individual FBI agents for money damages under a federal law protecting religious exercise.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “permits litigants, when appropriate, to obtain money damages against federal officials in their individual capacities.”

The SupremeCourt ruled Thursday in favor of three Muslim men who say they were placed or kept on the government’s no-fly list in retaliation for refusing to serve as terrorism informants for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The court wrote in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas that Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari may sue individual FBI agents for money damages under a federal law protecting religious exercise.

Thomas wrote in the brief opinion that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act “permits litigants, when appropriate, to obtain money damages against federal officials in their individual capacities.” Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest member of the court, did not participate in the case.

The case was one of four decided on Thursday morning, among the first decisions in the current term, which will end over the summer. All of the cases were decided unanimously. The court did not take any action on two Republican challenges before it concerning the 2020 election, including Texas’ effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s loss in four battleground states.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNBC.COM

CAIR Condemns Attack on U.S. Capitol as ‘Violent Insurrection,’ Calls on President Trump to Resign or Face Impeachment

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, today condemned the ongoing attack on the U.S. Capitol as an act of “violent insurrection” and called on the government to do more to protect those in harm’s way. 

CAIR also encouraged both Republican and Democratic leaders to demand President Trump’s immediate resignation from office for inciting the violence and impeach him if he refuses to step down. 

SEE: Violent clashes break out as Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol  
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/06/trump-supporters-rally-in-washington-to-protest-election-results.html 

Police clearing pro-Trump mob from US Capitol after rioters stormed halls of Congress 
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/06/politics/us-capitol-lockdown/index.html 

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: 

“Today’s attack on the U.S. Capitol represents the culmination of the far-right extremism that Donald Trump first unleashed on the campaign trail five years ago. Make no mistake: the armed Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol are violent insurrectionists. 

“We pray for the safety of everyone under siege on Capitol Hill, including lawmakers and their staff. We call on our government to protect those in harm’s way, and we urge Congress to demand that President Trump, who is responsible for every act of seditious violence committed today, resign or face impeachment.”  

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.  

FULL STATEMENT AND ARTICLE FROM PRNEWSWIRE.COM

Why the Persecution of Muslims Should Be on Biden’s Agenda

The incoming U.S. president must hold China and other countries accountable for religious persecution—and counter Beijing’s global campaign to destroy human rights.

A recent Pew Research Center report documented the highest level of government restrictions on the free practice of religion worldwide in more than a decade. The Middle East and North Africa, Pew found, continues to have the highest prevalence of government restrictions, while Asia showed a sharp increase in the use of force against religious groups, including property damage, detention, displacement, other forms of abuse, and killings.

While Christians were targeted in 145 countries worldwide in 2018, according to the Pew study, Muslims came in close behind, facing harassment in 139 countries. But while Christians face serious repression in much of the world, government actions against Muslims were greater in scope and scale, impacting hundreds of millions of people.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY

‘Ignore baseless rumours’ — Muslim scholars say Covid vaccine permissible even if it has pork

New Delhi: The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has become the first Muslim body in India to categorically state that Muslims are permitted to use the Coronavirus vaccines, even if they contain pork extracts, as it sought to dispel all rumours suggesting otherwise.

In an advisory issued Saturday, the JIH said, “Islam gives great importance to human life and also emphasizes on its protection.”

It added: “If an impermissible object is transformed into another thing, totally different in properties and characters, may be considered as clean and permissible. On this basis, the use of Gelatine derived from the body part of a haram animal has been considered to be permissible by Islamic jurists. Same is the opinion of some jurists about pork Gelatine.”

JIH vice-president Salim Engineer said there is no objection in using a vaccine which uses pork, if it is the only option. “If there are other options, then that’s great. But if this is the only option available, then there should be no guilty conscience in using the vaccine. This is a matter of life and death,” Engineer told ThePrint.

Even as spokespersons of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca — the three top vaccine makers — have clarified that pork products are not part of the vaccines, pork-derived gelatin is known to be used as stabilisers for safe storage and transportation of the shots.

Last week, Mumbai’s Raza Academy wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) seeking details about all the vaccines being developed and whether they contain pork extract.

“We just wanted to know which vaccines contain what elements. If there are vaccines that don’t contain pork then we will use those. This isn’t an advisory, but merely a request for transparency,” Saeed Noori, general secretary of Raza Academy, told ThePrint.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE PRINT (INDIA)

Mutual respect is key: Interfaith couples on celebrating differences

Annie Johnny and Satyabrata Rai have been married for five years now. The couple first met on Facebook, in 2009. After dating for a couple of years, when they announced the relationship to their respective families, they were unhappy initially. “Not only because of religious differences but also regional — I am Christian from Kerala, brought up in Delhi, and my husband belongs to a Nepali tribe, and is from Darjeeling. Of course, the major problem both the families had was ‘What will people say?’,” Annie, 34, tells indianexpress.com.

There were fights and arguments, but the couple did everything they could to convince their parents. The families finally met each other. “They could see that the relationship was good; the respective families liked each other and so, thankfully, for us, it did not lead to much of a problem.”interfaith wedding Annie and Satyabrata

In 2015, Annie and Satyabrata tied the knot in a Christian as well as a Hindu wedding ceremony without converting to either religion. While religion has “not been a big thing” for the two, the years of togetherness have made the couple more accepting of each other. “If one is getting into an interfaith relationship, there needs to be a lot of respect for each other. More than religion, it is about a sense of familiarity you feel with the culture you grow up in. And then you may not be able to see the negative or positive aspects of it in totality, and when your partner is able to highlight those, it actually helps in a better understanding,” says Annie.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INDIAN EXPRESS

Commentary: Trump wanted to keep Muslims out. Now Muslims are helping the country fight COVID-19.

Helene Cooper, a New York Times correspondent who is participating in the Moderna vaccine trial, during an exam at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, Sept. 9, 2020. Cooper was invited to participate in the vaccine trial because of her multiple risk factors: she is a Black woman, a Type 1 diabetic and asthmatic. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Jan. 27, 2017, was an unforgettable day for American Muslims. President Donald Trump signed the first version of what would become known as the Muslim ban. It was the first discriminatory policy that the Trump administration implemented impacting thousands of people around the world, separating American families and harming vulnerable populations. There were many cases of green-card holders being detained despite the fact that they had been living in the United States for years and obtained their greens cards through legal immigration processes. The intention of this ban was clear in that it sought to exclude American Muslim communities from the fabric of this nation.

Despite intense opposition and criticism, the Trump administration further pushed for countless other policies that had the same discriminatory goal as the Muslim bans and targeted Muslim communities. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court allowed the third iteration of the Muslim ban to go into full effect on June 26, 2018.

More than two years later, nearing the end of Trump’s presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 80 million confirmed cases and 1.7 million deaths globally, with over 19 million cases and 333,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. Jobs were lost, entrepreneurs and small businesses struggled to stay afloat, economic inequality deepened, education switched to online learning, people isolated themselves, travel was restricted and more. Now, the light at the end of the tunnel, which has proved to be the vaccine, is finally here. The credit for developing it goes to a Muslim couple, scientists Ugur Sahin, a Turkish immigrant to Germany, and Ozlem Tureci, the daughter of a Turkish physician, who also migrated to Germany from Istanbul. The two scientists founded the BioNTech company, which teamed up with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that was found to be more than 90 percent effective and is now being distributed in the U.S. and elsewhere along with another from Moderna.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE

Latino Muslim group works to bridge communities in Chicago. ‘We need as a city to remember what it is to be human.’

Their mission brings them to Chicago streets most people try to avoid.

“They say, ‘Here come the Muslims’ every time we show up on Friday night to pass out food to the homeless,” said Raul Gonzalez, director of outreach for the Ojala Foundation, an organization of Latino Muslims. “We let them know God has not forgotten about them.”

The foundation describes itself as a bridge between the Latino and Muslim communities, and its community work as a way of helping the needy while spreading the faith of Islam.

Every Friday night, people from the foundation pass out meals in the Heart of Chicago neighborhood on the Southwest Side. The group also sponsors cleanups, provides classes on Islam and holds potlucks to promote fellowship.

“Many Hispanics that convert to Islam are lost because there are few places to teach them and guide them on how they should act as Muslims,” Gonzalez said. “At Ojala, we offer classes to Muslims and we have fellowship, plus we do our part in helping others, restoring them to a better place.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM BLUEMOUNTAINEAGLE.COM

Arab Spring: The end of political Islam as we know it

Abdullah Al-Arian

While the ‘Islamist idea’ will likely endure, the political actors face an existential struggle to survive the onslaught of the past decade

Last month, Tunisia’s parliamentary speaker and head of the Ennahda Party, Rached Ghannouchi, came under fire for comments he made following a meeting with the French ambassador. Warning to all tyrants: The Arab Spring lives onRead More »

Following a recent string of violent attacks, the French government cracked down on the country’s Muslim community, shutting down charitable organisations, surveilling community members, including children, and interrogating them regarding their religious and political beliefs. At the same time, they demanded that community leaders adopt a pledge in support of French values and declare their disavowal of “political Islam”.

The government’s harsh measures prompted condemnations around the world, including calls to boycott French products in many Muslim-majority countries.

It was within this context that Ghannouchi’s comments raised eyebrows across the Arab and Muslim worlds. After meeting with France’s newly appointed ambassador to Tunisia, Ghannouchi asserted that domestic developments within France would not impact Tunisian-French relations, declaring “without hesitation our solidarity with the French state and the brotherly French people during the recent terrorist events, and we affirm that we are all fighting the same enemy, which is terrorism, and Tunisia faces this danger like the rest of the world”.

The transformation

What surprised many observers was not that a high-ranking official in the Arab region would express such sentiments, but that it would come from the founding leader of a movement that traces its roots to the Islamic activist trend established by the Muslim Brotherhood.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MIDDLE EAST EYE

Pandemic heightens dangers to international religious freedom

AMMAN, JORDAN — Christians and others practicing their faith experienced serious challenges to religious freedom around the world this year, heightened by dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The challenges ranged from institutionalized practices to violent killings and kidnappings. Others saw threats to religious freedom in pandemic lockdown restrictions.

In Iraq, where Pope Francis is set to make a pilgrimage next March, pandemic conditions permitting, Catholic leaders have expressed grave concerns for the conflict-ridden country’s brutally displaced Christians and other religious minorities, like the Yazidis.

About 150,000 Christians are left in Iraq; prior to a U.S.-led invasion in 2003, they numbered 1.5 million. Sectarian warfare followed, devastating the country’s historic and diverse Christian communities and culminated in the takeover by so-called Islamic State militants of their historic heartland in the Ninevah Plain in 2014. Christians fled, threatened with conversion to Islam or death, while Yazidis faced genocide and sexual enslavement by ruthless Islamist militants.

Catholic Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil has warned of “a growing loss of hope” among Christians. But he recently told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “To have His Holiness come to visit us now may very well be the thing that saves us. Certainly, this visit will provide real strength and courage to the Iraqi Christians to remain in our homeland and rebuild here.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER