THREE-QUARTERS OF MUSLIM VOTERS SAY THEY’LL PARTICIPATE IN PRIMARIES: CAIR

american muslimsNearly three-quarters of the nation’s Muslim voters intend to participate in primary elections this year and a large majority plan to support the Democratic Party, according to a new survey.

The survey, released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday, found that 74 percent of Muslim voters polled said they will be voting in upcoming primary elections, and 67 percent said they will vote for Democratic Party candidates. More than half of respondents said they’d vote for Hillary Clinton and 22 percent back Bernie Sanders. The survey was published hours before the Iowa caucuses.

When compared with the 17.3 percent of eligible American citizens who participated in statewide primaries for both parties in 2012—a record low—CAIR’s reported voter intention numbers seem remarkably high.

Despite Donald Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.—an idea that a quarter of Americans agree with, according to a December poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal—seven percent of Muslim voters polled by CAIR said they’d vote for the real estate mogul to be the Republican nominee for president. Ted Cruz was the second-most-favored Republican candidate in the survey, at two percent, and overall less than 15 percent of Muslim voters said they’d vote for Republican Party candidates.

The number of Muslims who plan to vote in this year’s primary elections is higher than in the 2014 midterm elections, and “may be driven at least in part by concern over the rise in Islamophobia nationwide,” Robert McCaw, CAIR’S government affairs manager, said in a statement on Monday. Less than 70 percent of Muslim voters polled in 2014 said they planned to vote in that year’s midterm elections, said CAIR.

“Toxic political attacks from the Trump and [Dr. Ben] Carson campaigns are definitely driving interest” from Muslim voters to participate in the primaries, McCaw tells Newsweek by phone. He adds that not all people who say they plan to vote in the primaries will actually do so.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK

American Muslims See Islamophobia as Election Issue

Although the numbers of Muslim Americans are comparatively small — just under one percent of the adult population — political analysts say Muslim voters can make a difference in this year’s presidential election in states with closely divided electorates such as Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

At the Islamic Society of Orange County, the largest mosque in Southern California, a volunteer urges those U.S. citizens who have come for Friday prayer to register as voters.

Fareed Farukhi, an accountant and chairman of the Islamic Society of Orange County, is concerned about many issues, from improving education to global warming.

Asad Shafiq, a business professor, worries about racial disparities and income inequality, “and how that gap has grown in the last 40 or 50 years. And what should we, as American people, do about it?”

Overshadowing those issues, these Muslim voters say they feel they have become targets in the campaign.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA NEWS

Muslim Leaders Vow To Protect Rights Of Religious Minorities

moroccoThe rise of ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia has brought horrific persecution of non-Muslims — Christians, Jews and other religious minorities. Now, a group of Islamic scholars, Muslim leaders and government ministers from Muslim-majority countries has promised to work together to protect those minorities, saying Islam forbids religious persecution.

More than 100 countries were represented at the gathering of Muslim leaders in Marrakech this week, sponsored by the Moroccan government and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, an organization led by Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah.

One of the organizers, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf from the United States, says the meeting had one focus: the plight of religious minorities in Muslim lands.

“We have people being enslaved into sexual slavery,” he told NPR from Marrakech. “We have Christian churches that have been there for long before Islam was in these lands, that are being destroyed. And we have Jews in Yemen, one of the oldest Jewish communities, now the very existence of which is threatened.”

While some prominent Muslim leaders belittle the plight of non-Muslims in their countries, those who came to this meeting heard testimony from other faith leaders about the conditions in their countries.

Sheikh Sattar Jabbar Hilu, speaking on behalf of his Sabian sect in Iraq, said they and other minorities face killing and deportations, and the situation is getting worse.

The message from this meeting: Such persecution is un-Islamic. Nearly 1,400 years ago, the Prophet Muhammad directed the preparation of a governing outline for an Islamic state, the Charter of Medina. It was named for the city in Arabia where Muhammad had taken refuge.

At the time, Medina was inhabited by various tribes and religious groups, and the charter mandated peaceful coexistence and religious freedom for all.

“Today we need to re-publicize this document,” says Recep Senturk, an Islamic scholar from Istanbul’s Fatih University, who was among those in Morocco. “Especially when we see that the minority rights are violated. Those people who are involved in terror activities, they are misusing the name of Islam and misusing the name of the Prophet Muhammad to justify their evil actions.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR

Another model of Christian-Muslim harmony?

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In Iraq and Syria, minority Christians are still on the run from Islamic State. Yet in the rest of the region, the tragedy has triggered an unusual competition of ecumenical goodwill. Religious leaders in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon have recently proclaimed their societies are models of coexistence between Muslims and Christians. Outside the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia have also hailed their interfaith social harmony.

Now another place may soon be added to the chorus – Cyprus – and perhaps help in drowning out Islamic State’s assertion of a right to dominance in the holy land.

If negotiations aimed at reuniting Cyprus can conclude this spring, as seems more possible than ever, the divided Mediterranean island can also claim to be a model of Muslim-Christian reconciliation.

Since 1974, Cyprus has been split between ethnic Turks in the north and ethnic Greeks in the south, a result of Greece’s then-junta trying to take the entire island. Turkey still keeps thousands of troops on the Turkish side. Trust between the two communities has improved, a result of international efforts, but remains low. They have lived apart for decades. And both sides have claims to settle against each other.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR 

Being Muslim in Kansas

It takes two hands, a safety pin and two straight pins to turn a scarf into a hijab. Three pins if the wind is blowing across the Great Plains. Maira Salim stands at her dresser mirror with a pin in her mouth and a bedroom full of scarves. Her long brown hair disappears and then her neck. Maira leans in for inspection, making sure not a wisp of hair is showing.
Different scarves go with different outfits. She likes a black scarf with her red Converse sneakers. Her emerald scarf is nice with the satin dress she wears on holidays, tottering on gold heels as she walks across the asphalt parking lot of her Wichita mosque. The camouflage scarf makes her mother cringe — “You look like a boy!” — but Maira thinks it’s perfect with her mirrored sunglasses.

button“I never wanted to be the weird religious girl,” she says.

Without a hijab, she would be a college senior who lives in a subdivision with her parents, two younger sisters and grandfather. She’d be the annoyed oldest daughter who has to pick up her little sister from swimming. She’d be the 21-year-old who works at her father’s used-car lot haggling over Dodge Chargers by a chain-link fence. She would be a business major who binge-watches “Quantico” instead of doing her take-home exam.
With the hijab, her country sees a Muslim in a headscarf. Grabbing her purse and keys, Maira — pronounced MY-ra — leaves her house already knowing the questions that are waiting.

“Do they make you sleep in it?”

“Is it allowed to touch the ground?”

“Can you hear me in that?”

“Does it come from overseas?”

Over and over she gives the same answers, trying to be polite and informative when sometimes she wants to say, “Really? Are you serious?” The lack of even the most basic knowledge about Muslims depresses Maira; it became terrifying in a year in which America’s television was stuck on the ISIS channel. One day she was at a traffic light when a woman rolled down her window and screamed, “Go back to your own country.” Nothing like that had ever happened before. The woman drove on while Maira sat there, scared and then angry, wishing she had yelled back that she was in her own country.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Muslim leaders plan summit on protecting non-Muslims in their midst

640x392_94734_74307.jpgHundreds of Muslim scholars will meet in Morocco next week to reassert the rights of non-Muslims living among them as Christians and other religious minorities flee extremism across the Middle East for safety and freedom elsewhere.

In these times, Muslims must affirm their tradition’s true teachings on tolerance, said Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the U.S. The summit meeting, expected to attract more than 300 Muslim religious leaders, will hark back to the Charter of Medina, in which the Prophet Muhammad enumerated the rights of non-Muslims 1,400 years ago.

“The prophet was religiously persecuted, so he knew firsthand what it was to experience religious persecution,” said Yusuf, speaking on a pre-conference media call Thursday (Jan 21). “His religion ensured the rights of religious minorities,” and Islamic history reveals a generally strong record of tolerance.

Yusuf, who will attend the Jan. 25-27 conference in Marrakesh, is a student of the conference’s leading spiritual voice — Shaykh Bin Bayyah — a Mauritanian Islamic scholar and authority on the rights of religious minorities. Bin Bayyah heads the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which will host the conference with the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco — a country lauded for its tolerance in a region often distinguished for its lack of it.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Can this US company ban Muslim prayer breaks? They just did.

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A Wisconsin manufacturing plant is telling Muslim employees they can’t leave the assembly line to pray. While the company claims “undue hardship” from prayer breaks, Muslim employees and advocates say there was never a problem.

Muslim employees can only leave work to pray during meal breaks, according to a new policy imposed at Ariens Manufacturing in Brillion, Wisc.

“It is absolutely discrimination on its face,” employee Adan Hurr told WBAY News. “Allow me to pray so that I can go back to work and do what I love to do, which is working for Ariens. But we are not allowed to do that.”

Islamic faith requires Muslims to pray five times a day. Until the new policy was announced Thursday, Muslim employees at Ariens were permitted to leave their station at the production line to pray twice during their shifts. While practicing the five-minute prayer, the Muslim employees would allocate their duties amongst coworkers.