Do Republicans Believe in Religious Liberty for Muslims?

181129-Obeidallah-Ilhan-Omar-tease_edcminIlhan Omar, the first hijab-wearing member of Congress, will be seated next January. Will Republicans back a rule change ensuring her right to wear it on the floor?

Donald Trump and his GOP talk and talk about their love of “religious liberty.” In May, there was Trump declaring that religious freedom is a “priority” of his administration.  And in July, Trump’s Department of Justice even announced the formation of a religious liberty task force.

Well, if Trump and the GOP truly believe that religious liberty is not just for Christians, then here’s a no-brainer for them. The Republicans in the House should unanimously support a recently proposed rule to ensure religious liberty for a soon-to-be-sworn-in Muslim member of Congress and push back against the anti-Muslim voices in their party when they attack this change—which, if history is any guide, they will!

Come January 3, 2019, Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) will be the first Muslim member of Congress ever to wear a hijab (head scarf). The problem is that a House rule enacted in 1837 bans any type of headwear, which would include Omar’s headscarf.

In response, Democratic House leader and expected next speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has formally proposed to ditch this 181-year-old ban on headwear in order to “ensure religious expression.” As Pelosi explained to NBC News, “After voters elected the most diverse Congress in history, clarifying the antiquated rule banning headwear will further show the remarkable progress we have made as a nation.”

This rule, while on the books, doesn’t seem to have been enforced. As AshLee Strong, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, explained in an email, “Under both Republican and Democratic Speakers, the House has never prohibited any kind of religious headwear.” That’s great to hear. But forgive me if I’m not quite reassured.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DAILY BEAST 

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Controversy over Wheaton professor’s hijab captures evangelical rift in new film

16mag-16hawkins-t_CA1-facebookJumbo(RNS) — Larycia Hawkins never questioned what she should do.

It was days after the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, in which 14 people were killed at a center for people with developmental disabilities. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized upon the religion of the two shooters and declared he’d ban all Muslims from entering the country, and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraged students at his evangelical Christian school to get concealed-carry permits because “good people” with guns could “end those Muslims.”


So Hawkins — then a political science professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical school in the Chicago suburbs — posted a photo on Facebook of herself in a hijab and announced plans to wear it through the Christian season of Advent as an act of “embodied solidarity” with Muslim women.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God,” she wrote.

The pushback was immediate. Within a few months, the first black, female tenured professor at Wheaton had lost her job.

Hawkins’ story is detailed in “Same God,” a documentary that premiered late last month at the LA Film Festival.

To filmmaker Linda Midgett, responses to the professor’s act revealed the polarization within both evangelical Christianity and the country as a whole.

The documentary tells Hawkins’ story through interviews with student and faculty supporters who were at Wheaton at the time and with the interfaith leaders who rallied to her side. Several more screenings are planned, including showings this month in New Orleans and Chicago.

So far, audiences’ reactions show the importance of Hawkins’ story and its resonance beyond Wheaton, Midgett said.

“In some ways, I felt like she got her voice back,” she said, “because she lost her voice when she lost her job and she just was kind of shuttled out of the evangelical community.”

What happened at Wheaton was the perfect storm, according to the filmmaker, touching on hot-button issues of theology, race, gender, academic freedom, religious freedom, Islamophobia. Some evangelicals thought that Hawkins was a heretic. Others believed she was doing the things Jesus had told his followers to do.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

More than a headscarf: Forum takes aim at misconceptions about Muslims

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Sameena Zahoor has been wearing a hijab since she was in college studying to be a doctor and she is aware that non-Muslims often have questions — and misconceptions — about the headscarf commonly worn by Muslim women.

Zahoor, a family physician from Canton, said it is not much different than coverings donned by nuns or members of religions outside of Islam.

“Yes, my experience being a Muslim woman has a lot to do with me wearing a headscarf,” Zahoor said. “No, I don’t think I’m a better Muslim because I cover — versus a person who does not cover. Yes, I do have hair underneath (my hijab). No, I don’t wear it when I go home, sleep in it or shower in it. Yes, it makes me feel hot and sweaty when I wear it in the summer. No, I was not forced to wear it and no I am not oppressed.”

It was that kind of open discussion — intended to break down barriers and spread understanding of Islam — that highlighted the Building Bridges: Getting To Know Our Muslim Neighbors event hosted Sunday by The Waterford Refugee Welcome Alliance and held at the Christ Lutheran Church in Waterford.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS 

Students of all religions wore hijabs to celebrate Islam Appreciation Month

5a72962988f03.imageSoha Samla doesn’t typically wear her Islamic hijab, but she wrapped a tan one around herself Wednesday to feel closer to God for the day.

Samla was one of about 80 people, some for the first time, who tried on hijabs of various colors and patterns. UF’s Islam on Campus put on the “Hijabathon” to kick off Islam Appreciation Month, said coordinator Sana Nimer. They invited students of all religions to wear a hijab for the day and take it home.

“Islam is not this big, scary boogeyman that people want to make it out to be,” Nimer said. “If you come talk to us, hopefully we can help you understand that and get rid of some misconceptions.”

The hijabs were donated by individuals and businesses, such as Haute Hijab, Abaya Addict and Hijab Culture, Nimer said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ALLIGATOR.ORG

Hijab-wearing Barbie doll introduced in honour of Olympic fencer

ST_20171116_BARBIE16DKXQ_3561757NEW YORK • Meet the newest Barbie, who has dark skin, the muscular thighs of an athlete and a hijab.

The doll, modelled after Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, was revealed on Monday evening at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York.

Ibtihaj, who was the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics in a hijab, won a bronze medal in the team sabre event in Rio de Janeiro last year.

The fencing mask, the uniform and the “Olympic-medal-thick” legs were all there, Ibtihaj noted while introducing the doll onstage at the awards show.

And for the first time in Barbie’s existence since the 1950s, there was a white head scarf tucked tightly around the doll’s face, with not a wisp of fake hair in view.

“Perfect hijab moment right here,” Ibtihaj, 31, said, turning the toy this way and that.

 In an interview on Tuesday, she recalled how important it was for her to play with dolls as a child – even as she was pursuing sports – and “envision myself in places where society told me I did not belong”.

I Am Not Your Muslim

muslimIf Islam were a skin color, there would be a sliding scale along which you could determine just how Muslim you are. On the extremely Muslim end, there would be classic identifiers — hijab or niqab for women, a beard and skullcap for men. On the light Muslim end, there would be those whose identity can only be determined because of a name or provenance, those who usually “pass” in public and are not immediately identifiable. Let’s call this the Identity Matrix.

In order to predict how likely it is that a Muslim will be discriminated against, another measurement needs to be overlaid over visibility — The Privilege Scale. Jobs, wealth, education and other markers of status interplay with the degree of perceived Muslimness that can confer or deny immunity. This is pretty much how identifiers are leavened with social status (or lack thereof) across minority groups in most parts of the world.

Certain attributes and accoutrements offer some Muslims a “pass.” Sara Yasin, a Palestinian American journalist, remarked on how comparatively easy her passage through life in the United States is due to her pale skin, hazel eyes and neutral first name. A pass almost always depends on the ease with which an individual can blend into the affluent dominant culture. It sounds dramatic, and it is.

The ways Muslims have been fingered, pathologized and persecuted mean that the Muslim identity is being calibrated and re-calibrated in order to settle upon one dominant narrative. During the presidential election, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims,” immediately casting suspicion upon any Muslim as a potential threat. He also suggested that Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parent who appeared alongside her husband to support Hillary Clinton, was “not allowed to speak,” because she was Muslim.

These broad strokes are not only the preserve of the political right. Liberals such as Bill Maher have been at it for years. On terrorism, Maher suggested that, “if Muslim men could get laid more, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

This drive to otherize and dehumanize Muslims is grotesque, and the speed and uncoordinated efficiency of it seems almost like a natural phenomenon. But it isn’t. It’s a confluence of unnatural, dynamic and calculated narrow interests that dictate who gets to be “mainstream.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR 

I’m So Tired

cropped-capa-blogNote:  This is from a blog  I just discovered challenging stereotypes about Muslims and other minorities.    Good place to visit often. 

“What do you think of ISIS?” Smile. Be calm. Be gentle. “Don’t Muslims believe you’re supposed to kill Christians and Jews?” They don’t mean any harm. They don’t know any better. “Do you shower with that on?” Laugh. Take it in stride. “Does your husband make you wear it?” It’s ok. It’s just a question. “I’m not islamophobic. After all, I’m friends with you!” Smile, laugh. Be quiet. You have to give a good impression. You’re the token Muslim, whether you like it or not. These are my thoughts when my dignity is taken away.

It’s so tiring to always be representing 1.6 billion people from all over the world. As soon as people find out I’m Muslim, which generally is pretty quickly because I wear the hijab, they think they have the right to ask me invasive questions. Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about friends who ask sincere, curious questions hoping to learn more about me and my faith. I’m talking about random strangers who interrupt my meal in a restaurant to demand information in an accusatory tone. There is a huge difference between the two.

A good example of this is my friend K. She and I often have conversations about faith and culture. She asks a million questions, and they’re all sincere and respectful. She often reminds me that if I don’t feel comfortable answering, that’s ok. THAT is actually wonderful. She wants to understand me. I love answering her questions.

On the flip side, there’s an incident that happened yesterday. I went to a local gyro joint for a nice Arab meal. The cashier, who I later found out was the owner, asked me why I was wearing a headscarf. I told him I was Muslim. He said he was an Egyptian Christian. I said “Assalaamu alaikum,” and he said “wa alaikum salaam.” We exchanged smiles. I took my food and found a seat. I dug in. A few moments later he pulled a chair up to mine and my husband’s table. He started by asking me why I converted, and I gave him the condensed version of the story. He proceeded to tell me I didn’t understand Christian theology, I didn’t know God and couldn’t know Him or love Him. He told me that ISIS were Muslims, the Quran teaches violence, and Islam is a cult. I patiently gave him simple but logical refutations to his horrible comments. He went on and, during our entire meal.  My husband, I should add, stood up for me and told him off. But I knew I couldn’t say anything.

FULL BLOG FROM GENUINEGEMSWRITING