Muslim leaders begin European bus tour against terrorism in the name of Islam

FRANCE-RELIGION-ISLAM-MARCHThe tour, involving around 60 imams, will visit the sites of terror attacks by Islamist extremists.

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Muslim leaders launched a European bus tour in Paris on Saturday to express opposition to terrorism in the name of Islam.

Under the banner “Muslims’ march against terrorism,” imams from around Europe and North Africa planned to visit sites of recent terrorist attacks, starting at the Champs Elysees and passing through Germany, Belgium and other parts of France over the next week.

“Our message is clear: Islam cannot be associated with these barbarians and these murders,” who kill in the name of Allah, said Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy, France, according to Le Figaro. The initiative is the brainchild of Chalghoumi and Marek Halter, a French-Jewish writer and intellectual.

The tour will land at the site of an attack on a Christmas market last year in Berlin on Monday, before holding a ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday. It is set to stop in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France (visiting the grave of a priest who was stabbed), and a Jewish school that was targeted in Toulouse. It will also pass back through Paris and the Bataclan nightclub, according to the Belgian paper La Libre, wrapping up on July 14 in Nice, where French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to participate in an homage to victims on the anniversary of the truck attack on the Promenade des Anglais.

FULL ARTICLE FROM POLITICO

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Mantra at new mosque in Metro Detroit: ‘Islam for all’

DEARBORN

Dearborn Heights — Inside a former church on Ford Road is a room that soon will be filled with high-tech equipment to broadcast the message of Islam to the world.

The room will be stocked with computers, video cameras and other media equipment to produce online sermons, radio programs and a comprehensive website aimed at reaching Muslims here and around the English-speaking Islamic world.

The project is part of the Islamic Institute of America, a new mosque in Dearborn Heights led by Imam Hassan Al-Qazwini — one of Metro Detroit’s most prominent Muslim leaders. Hundreds of people attended the first Friday prayers at the mosque last week.

B99517316Z.1_20170411212322_000_G3A1EG0BI.1-0Al-Qazwini, 52, led the region’s most prominent mosque, the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, until resigning nearly two years ago amid controversy. Now he has ambitious plans for a new community.

Among them: monthly interfaith seminars for non-Muslims, a social work outreach to those suffering from problems such as drug addiction and domestic violence, a youth speakers bureau to fulfill growing community requests, a Middle Eastern gift shop and numerous educational programs for youth as well as an arcade in the basement for kids.

 Also envisioned by Al-Qazwini is the nation’s first seminary to train Shia imams — so American-born Muslims don’t have to leave the U.S. and spend years in the Middle East, like Al-Qazwini did and where his two sons are studying to be Islamic spiritual leaders.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT NEWS 

Vicar And Imam Star In Amazon Christmas Ad

The video shows a real vicar – Rev Gary Bradley from Parish of Little Venice – with an imam played by Zubeir Hassam, the principal of the Muslim School Oadby in Leicester. The pair enjoy a drink together before ordering each other knee pads using Amazon’s service.

Bradley told Christian Today the ad had “a very important message, particularly at this time of year”. He said in his parish “we have people of all faiths sharing the area and it is important that we understand and relate to each other”.

He added: “For the last 15 years people of different faiths have come together, with their faith leaders, to celebrate united worship before Christmas, worship which focuses on peace and the need to strive for unity.”

he two plan to meet regularly after filming together. Bradley said it was a particular pleasure “to consolidate the pastoral and theological concerns which bind us together”.

Simon Morris, director of advertising at Amazon, said it was an “authentic and charming story” adding he had consulted the Church of England, the Muslim Council of Britain and the Christian Muslim Forum before filming.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY 

Imam of Cedar Rapids (Iowa) mosque aims to change American outlook on Islam

AR-160819842CEDAR RAPIDS — Hassan Selim’s religion stands at a crossroads.

That’s how the 28-year-old Egyptian-born religious leader of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids views the current tension surrounding Muslims in the United States and around the world.

As Imam, the worship leader in a mosque, Selim is attempting to teach his congregation how to be comfortable with their faith, he said. At the same time, he also is teaching them to use their religion as tools without creating a shell around themselves — something members of the public may misinterpret as sinister, he said.

“What I’m trying to do is find and define for my congregation an understanding of Islam that allows them to feel comfortable being both Muslims and Americans,” Selim said. “Unfortunately right now, there are many voices saying they can’t be both or both are at war.”

The mosque in Cedar Rapids hosts a mixed congregation of as many as 4,000 members of multigenerational American-born families and recent immigrants.

“Throughout history, someone has always been at the forefront of issues. Now it’s just (Muslims’) turn,” said Paul Habhab, Cedar Rapids resident and a Muslim who attends prayer at the Islamic Center.

Selim, who also is vice president of the Inter-Religious Council of Linn County, is not attempting to prove anyone wrong about Islam. Instead, he hopes to show others that Islam and America could benefit one another in an inclusive relationship.

“I don’t have the idea that I can just stay in my mosque or monastery or place of worship and ask God to make a change happen,” Selim said. “I believe you’ve got to be the change.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GAZETTE 

Muslims, Jews and Christians unite to condemn murders of two Muslim men in New York

gettyimages-589921262Members of different Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith groups have banded together to condemn the senseless violence committed against two Muslim men that happened in Queens last weekend.

Last Saturday, an imam, or an Islamic worship leader, and his assistant were fatally shot by an unidentified suspect. The two men were killed in Ozone Park as they were leaving a prayer service. Police officials are still trying to determine the motive of the suspect for carrying out the attack.

Although it was not explicitly said that the murder was an act of religion-based violence, an interfaith group comprising the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, Temple Beth El of Somerset, the Somerset Presbyterian Church and Fanwood Presbyterian Church released a statement to show their support for the families of the slain victims and their condemnation of the Queens shooting.

“On behalf of a broad multi-faith coalition of more than 120 organizations throughout New Jersey, we are deeply saddened at the cold-blooded assassination yesterday of Imam Maulana Akonjee of the Al Furqan Jame Masjid in Queens New York and his assistant Mr. Thara Uddin who were wearing the traditional Muslim garments,” the statement reads.

In addition, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) also made their own statements condemning the murder of the two Muslim men.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN DAILY

‘If we were not brothers before this, we certainly are brothers now,’ a Dallas imam tells a minister

The minister and the imam had known each other barely a year.

They had met at a vigil after the mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church in June 2015. They had encountered each other at rallies to protest gun violence and domestic violence, to memorialize a long-ago lynching, to counter a Ku Klux Klan rally, to remember victims of the Orlando attack.

“We’ve had to come together so many times because of tragedy and heartbreak,” said the Rev. Michael Waters, pastor of the Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church.

As the first shots rang out Thursday evening in downtown Dallas, tragedy and heartbreak again brought them together. Waters spotted Imam Omar Suleiman in the crowd near the intersection of Market and Commerce streets, and together they fled what had quickly become a war zone.

The two men, along with Waters’s wife and several parishioners, sprinted to the nearby Omni Hotel. Waters, in a clergy collar and a T-shirt that read “Hope Dealer,” soon flagged down the driver of a Ford Excursion and offered him all of the cash in his wallet to take the group back to his church in South Dallas.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist. So why did the NYPD spy on me for years?

elshinawy_240x180_61454638842A couple of weeks after I began lecturing on Islam at New York City mosques, something strange happened. Acquaintances and congregants told me they’d been approached by law enforcement officers who asked about me and my talks. Soon after, I began to notice suspicious people in the audiences. One gentleman stood out — he was the most frequent attendee, but he regularly fell asleep while I spoke.

It was 2003. I was enrolled at Brooklyn College, studying English literature. I’d grown up in New York and loved the city. But I’d also seen the way Muslims were discriminated against, particularly after Sept. 11, 2001. In the year after the attacks, hate crimes spiked tenfold. I wanted to encourage Muslims to stay strong in their faith in spite of these assaults. I spoke on theology and visiting the sick, on skepticism and the sinful pursuit of instant gratification, on the gravity of injustice and the vastness of God’s mercy.

I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I consistently rejected violence and terrorism in my lectures. Still, for a decade, I felt like I was under surveillance, pursued by shadowy law enforcement officials seeking out a crime that didn’t exist.

In 2013, my fears were confirmed. I found out from an Associated Press investigation that I was a victim of the New York Police Department’s aggressive surveillance of Muslims. After 9/11, the NYPD began to track large swaths of us. Officers secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, then spied on imams and recorded sermons. The department conducted at least a dozen of these “terrorism enterprise investigations” since 2001, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing and minimal oversight from judges. No charges were ever brought as a result of the activities of the so-called “demographics” unit.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST