Thanks, Trump, for Making Americans Heart Muslims

49576948-cachedDonald Trump has done something truly amazing: He has inspired thousands and thousands of Americans to stand up for Muslims in opposition to his “Muslim ban.” It’s such an astounding development that I’m almost happy Trump won!

I’ll be blunt: I never expected to see so many of my fellow Americans take to the streets in over 30 cities from New York to Los Angeles to even Omaha, Nebraska, to make it clear that they not only opposed Trump’s “Muslim ban” but were standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslims. As a Muslim American, I found it hard not to get emotional seeing this outpouring of support for our community.

It was especially awe-inspiring to see so many protesters expressing solidarity with our community by holding up signs that read, “We are all Muslims now.” In fact, The Daily Show’s “Muslim correspondent,” Hassan Minhaj, noted on the show recently the “beautiful irony” at play given Trump’s fear of the spread of Islam. Minhaj then joked, “Well congratulations, Mr. President, mission accomplished,” as a protest sign that read “We are all Muslims now” appeared on the screen.

And this Sunday in New York City we may very well see the biggest gathering of all of people coming out to stand with Muslims. That’s when the “I am a Muslim too” rally will be held in Times Square organized by Russell Simmons, Imam Shamsi Ali, and Rabbi Marc Schneier.

Simmons explained via email, “This rally is meant to focus on this attack on our Muslim brothers and sisters because an attack on them is an attack on all of us.” He added, “We can never truly be free until all of us are free.”


The Sultan and the Saint: A Two Day Summit on Building Christian-Muslim Relationships


Unity Productions Foundation, in partnership with the Franciscan Action Network and the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, is hosting a two-day leadership summit to build peace and strengthen relations between Muslims and Christians across the United States. Leveraging the powerful new docudrama film produced by UPF, The Sultan and the Saint( and inspired by the courage and peacebuilding efforts of St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al Kamil during the height of the Crusades’ deadly conflict, this summit will bring 75 – 100 key Muslim and Christian Pastors, Imams, writers, activists, thought leaders and others together to forge positive new relationships and collaborate for good. The purpose of the summit is to develop action plans for local collaboration and best practices in promoting strategies to build relationships focused on proactively addressing Islamophobia at the local and national levels.

Peace Requires Encounter: A Two-Day Summit on Building Relationships, opening on the evening of March 17th and ending on the 19th, will be held at Georgetown University in the heart of the nation’s capitol. Hosted by the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, the event will center around an all- day workshop and team-building training during the day on Saturday the 18th, and then followed by a film premiere on Saturday night of UPF’s The Sultan and the Saint, a 60-minute documentary film. Following the film screening, senior faith leaders and activists will discuss the film’s message and ways the two faith communities can bridge divides. Participants are being invited from around the country and will be trained in using the film in their local communities.

* Attendees are encouraged to help bring The Sultan and the Saint film to their community and to further expose the film to their respective network and or organization.

To register for travel and lodging assistance, please visit this page to apply for limited stipends to attend:


Election in Indonesia’s Capital Could Test Ethnic and Religious Tolerance

14indonesia1-master768JAKARTA, Indonesia — In one of the most contentious campaigns in the history of Indonesia’s young democracy, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, is battling on two fronts: in the court of public opinion and in the court of law.

Mr. Basuki, an ethnic Chinese Christian who leads the capital of the world’s most populous predominantly Muslim country, is not only campaigning in the election on Wednesday but also defending himself against criminal charges of blasphemy against Islam.

He and his chief political ally, President Joko Widodo, have labeled his court case a conspiracy by “political actors” who aim to quash his re-election bid for one of the country’s most powerful offices. Some political analysts also called the court case, which they say violates a decades-old ban on using ethnicity and religion as a political weapon, a move by opponents of Mr. Joko to weaken the president in the prelude to his 2019 re-election bid.

A series of rallies in Jakarta late last year that drew hundreds of thousands of hard-line Islamists, including one in November that turned violent and left one dead and hundreds injured, have eroded Mr. Basuki’s once double-digit lead.


All of Islam Isn’t the Enemy

09thu2web-master675.jpgIs President Trump trying to make enemies of the entire Muslim world? That could well happen if he follows up his primitive ban on refugees and visa holders from seven Muslim nations with an order designating the Muslim Brotherhood — perhaps the most influential Islamist group in the Middle East — as a terrorist organization.

Such an order, now under consideration, would be seen by many Muslims as another attempt to vilify adherents of Islam. It appears to be part of a mission by the president and his closest advisers to heighten fears by promoting a dangerously exaggerated vision of an America under siege by what they call radical Islam.

The struggle against extremism is complex, and solutions must be tailored both to the facts and to an understanding of the likely consequences. Since 1997, the secretary of state has had the power to designate groups as foreign terrorist organizations, thus subjecting them, as well as people and businesses who deal with them, to sanctions, like freezing their assets. President Barack Obama resisted adding the Brotherhood to that list.

There are good reasons that the Brotherhood, with millions of members, doesn’t merit the terrorist designation. Rather than a single organization, it is a collection of groups and movements that can vary widely from country to country. While the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, it renounced violence decades ago, has supported elections and has become a political and social organization. Its branches often have tenuous connections to the original movement founded in Egypt in 1928.

Under State Department guidelines, the “terrorist” designation is intended to punish groups that carry out terrorist attacks. There’s no question that some such groups have grown out of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas, the adversary of Israel, which the United States named a terrorist organization in 1997. Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has worked to crush the Brotherhood in his country since he overthrew his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, a former Brotherhood leader, in 2013. But there is no evidence that senior Brotherhood leaders ordered any violence or carried out any of the recent major terrorist attacks in Egypt, according to the analysts Michele Dunne and Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Forum: US Muslims’ defense: The Constitution

The night before, Reuters had reported that President Donald Trump would soon sign an executive order blocking visas for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa. The move, an expression of the “Muslim ban” that Trump touted during his campaign, marooned Muslims legally working or studying in the United States and threatens to divide families who have relatives in their home countries.

Cochran is director of the Virginia chapter of Emerge USA, an organization founded in 2006 to help Muslims get involved in local politics across five states. It’s one of many organizations that American Muslims created in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect and advocate for their embattled community. That very morning, she was already set to travel to Richmond to meet with state lawmakers to communicate the concerns of Muslim Virginians.

If Trump keeps his campaign promises — and so far there’s every indication he will — the country may see a return to the excesses of the Bush era that saw American Muslims profiled, surveilled, harassed and marginalized. Trump’s administration is more openly anti-Muslim than any in history. Trump himself has stated that “Islam hates us”; his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has called Islamism a “vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people”; his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, once operated Breitbart, an alt-right news site known for anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Sixteen years ago, many American Muslims didn’t know where to turn for help. There was no Emerge USA for them to email. They had almost no political, social or cultural capital. Now they are far better prepared. That’s because American Muslims have learned to arm themselves, not with weapons but with the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. In the crucible of American society after 2001, Muslims have fully embraced the democratic ideals, expansive religious freedom and rich civil society that truly make America great.


Muslims and Christians unite to call for bridges not walls

ap3841919_articolo(Vatican Radio) US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to tighten restrictions on arrivals to the United States has been widely condemned, although polls suggest that US public opinion is sharply divided on the policy.

Amongst other restrictions, the Order issued on January 25, bans nationals from seven mainly Muslim countries from entering the US, it places a temporary ban on all refugee admissions and prioritizes refugee claims by religious minorities (Christians in mainly Muslim countries).

Faith-based organizations and human rights groups have called for a re-think of the Executive Order and have urged governments to address the structural causes of forced displacement and share the responsibility of providing for refugees.

Amongst them, the Jesuit Refugee Service – JRS – that has released a joint interfaith statement with the Italian Islamic Religious Community – COREIS- calling for bridges, not walls.

Linda Bordoni spoke to COREIS President, Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini and JRS Advocacy Officer, Amaya Valcarcel about their appeal.

Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini explained that a common sensitivity and Christian and Muslim shared values are at the roots of a continuing collaboration and cooperation between the Italian Islamic Religious Community and the Jesuit Refugee Service that goes back in time over the past 12 months or so.

“Unfortunately what is happening in the US, through the statements of President Trump, somehow pushed us to increase our brotherhood and react – or pro act – giving a joint brotherly interreligious Islamic-Christian response on the need to be much more consistent and honest on humanity, on refugees and migrants, and even on politics” he said.

Amaya Valcarcel pointed out that JRS is very glad to be able to speak out together with the Islamic Community in Italy and said that theirs is first of all a message of faith.

“Christians and Muslims inhabit religious traditions that are rooted in the experience of exile and in the hospitality of God and of God’s own, so hostile attitudes towards displaced persons have no place in our religious traditions and manifest a grave moral failure” she said.

In line with their faith, Valcarcel said, all people of goodwill should promote a more generous culture of hospitality.

She points out that within the Christian tradition, in the Old Testament there are no less than 36  explicit invitations to ‘love the stranger’.

“Also Jesus tells us to love the stranger and care for the stranger. He himself puts himself as a stranger” she said.


Cable News Sure Could Talk To More Muslims About The Muslim Ban


The three major U.S. cable news channels rarely invited Muslim guests on air to talk about President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, a new report shows.

On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order that indefinitely bans Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S., shuts down the whole refugee program for 120 days and bars all immigrants and visitors from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen ― all Muslim-majority countries ― from entering the U.S.

From Jan. 30 through Feb. 3 ― while heartbreaking stories surfaced of border officials detaining and deporting people or stranding them at airports overseas ― CNN, Fox News and MSNBC invited just 12 Muslims as on-air guests during primetime hours, according to the report from the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters.

CNN hosted seven Muslim guests, MSNBC hosted two, and Fox News hosted five (all during a single episode of “The First 100 Days”). Two of the guests appeared on programs twice, meaning there were 14 total guest appearances by 12 Muslims.

Those 14 guest appearances represented a small fraction of the 176 guest appearances on the news networks from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on those five nights, when Trump’s Muslim ban dominated the national conversation.