Rabat’s ‘American Peace Caravan’ Builds Interfaith Bridges to Curb Extremism, Islamophobia

Interfaith-Religious-Leaders-Fight-Extremism-Through-Dialogue-in-Rabat-‘Peace-Caravan_-640x426Rabat – As anti-Muslim sentiment appeared to have increased across the world, the agenda of the second edition of the American Peace Caravan has focused on new initiatives intended to dampen Islamophopia and extremism.

The event, which took place from October 24 to 26 in Rabat, aimed to build a bridge of co-existence between religions. The conference participants wanted to find concrete ways to allow Jews, Christians, and Muslims to cooperate more as a collective of ethical communities rather than ideologically-drive self-interested lobbies, according to a statement issued by the organizers.

The conference reunited imams, rabbis, and pastors from 20 countries, with the view to build peace by advancing human dignity and the common good.

The religious leaders renewed their vows to the fight against extremism and religious violence through dialogue and respect among all religions.

The second edition of the conference also highlighted a set of recommendations to eradicate Islamophobia, which was the result of a “clear lack of leadership,” according to a statement by the organizers.

The event, which was held in cooperation with the Forum for Peace Organization (FFP), took place at the headquarters of Morocco’s Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs.

The agenda of the three-day symposium included several workshops and discussions on different topics, including mutual vision amongst co-religionists and their impact on peace, the role of religion in public life and challenges facing co-existence and opportunities to enhance it.

The FFP statement has also praised Morocco for hosting “graciously” the event under the patronage of King Mohammed VI.

Speaking the opening session of the event’s second, Moroccan Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Taoufiq, and President of the Forum for Peace Organization, Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, stressed the importance of religious leaders in espousing the values of peace and in the protection of minority rights.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MORROCO WORLD NEWS 

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Why Christians Should be the Biggest Advocates of Religious Freedom For Muslims Read

christians-muslims-dialogues-in-pakistanSometimes because I write so much about Christianophobia, some feel the need to tell me that Islamophobia exists. No kidding? Do you think when stories such as this one come out that I am ignorant of Islamophobia? It is as if some individuals do not comprehend the possibility that we can have anti-Christian and anti-Muslim hatred in the same society.

But Islamophobia does not merely manifest itself in violent acts. It also manifests itself in the double standard some people have in their treatment of Muslims. For example, the desire to create higher barriers for Muslims to enter the United States can also reflect Islamophobia. When we treat individuals worse because they are Muslims, then we are furthering an ugly Islamophobic mentality.

Unfortunately, the way some Christians have approached Muslims reflects Islamophobia as well. There have been Christians who have tried to stop Muslims from building their mosques. Other Christians have called for a stop of Muslim immigration to the United States. This attempt to treat Muslims worse than we treat those of other faiths or no faith is wrong. The sad thing about the reality of how some Christians have dealt with Muslims is that we have a great deal of incentive to protect the religious freedom of Muslims. When we fail to do so, we fail to fully live out our faith, and we set ourselves up for future hardship.

Before I go into why Christians should defend Muslims, let me be clear about something. I am Christian and not Muslim. I believe that Muslims are wrong about the nature of God and in their belief that Allah is God. I support any efforts at witnessing to Muslims as long as it does not involve coercive tactics. To those who say that Christian proselytizing is evil, then I will ask you to give up telling Christians what to do. When you tell Christians what to do, you are proselytizing about your beliefs to Christians. Stop being a hypocrite!!

So my defense for religious freedom for Muslims is not a defense of Islam. I will leave that for Muslims to do. But I defend their right to be wrong just as I hope that non-Christians will defend my right to be wrong.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PATHEOS

 

Every Time I Hear a Mass Shooter Wasn’t Muslim, I Feel Relief

171004_POL_Relief-ShooterNotMuslim.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2The first thing I felt Monday morning was grief. The slow trickle of news about another mass shooting can feel like just the next chapter in a long national assault on helpless victims, but it’s important we focus our energy on the victims whose experience in Las Vegas on Sunday night is new. Right now, I’m thinking about them and everyone else who has experienced this horror. My heart is broken.

The second thing I felt Monday was relief. That’s what I always feel when I learn a mass shooter wasn’t Muslim.

I wish, like many other Muslims I know, that my mind didn’t immediately arrive at “Oh God, was it a Muslim terrorist?” That’s a terrible way to think. But I don’t just feel that way because I don’t want my community to be forced to confront false associations. I’ve learned Americans have more pointed, sobering conversations about the root causes of this violence when they’re forced to confront a perpetrator they can’t so easily separate from themselves.

I know what will happen as soon as I hear a Muslim-sounding name connected to a shooting on the news. There’s question of accountability: Why didn’t “moderate Muslims” do more to stop it? What could I have done in New York to stop the Muslim shooter in Florida? Or California? If the shooter was born in America, the question then turns to the parents: Should they ever have been allowed to come here?

That’s how it went down after Omar Mateen was identified as the shooter in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in June 2016, until Sunday the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Within hours, reports chased down his immigration status and his connections with foreign terror groups, and a New York Times writer declared it the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. By the following Monday, then-candidate Donald Trump had also seized on Mateen’s religion and national origin, bragging on Twitter “for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” He added, in an angry, rambling speech, “The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE

Two Muslim Teens On Navigating Girlhood And Islamophobia In Their America

5994935f1400001f002c31b7Welcome to ”The Story We Share,” a series of Q&As that profile two people with similar identities ― but who live in very different places. As part of HuffPost’s Listen To Americatour, we’re exploring how people’s lived experiences overlap and diverge depending on their zip codes. What is the “American Experience?” It depends where you look. 

***

Along with the growing pains that typically mark the transition from girlhood to adulthood, American Muslim teen girls also face the challenge of dealing with discrimination because of their religion.

This added layer of vulnerability became apparent during Ramadan this June, when a 17-year-old teen girl named Nabra Hassanen was abducted and killed while walking near her Virginia mosque. The tragedy hit close to home for many young Muslim girls. Like their peers around the country, Hassanen and her friends had left their mosque to eat suhoor, a pre-dawn Ramadan meal, at a fast food restaurant. The joyful nature of that treasured Ramadan ritual was shattered that Sunday morning in Virginia ― and the effects were felt across the country.

Hundreds of miles away, in Florissant, Missouri, 17-year-old Salsabel Fares learned about Hassanen’s death through her friends and from her parents ― and not through social media, where she typically gets her news.

The murder stunned her. She told HuffPost she nearly broke out in tears when she heard about it.

“I was so incredibly upset,” she said. “It just scared me reading it. Because of my religion, I fear for my safety and I fear for my life.”

MOHAMMAD FARES
Salsabel Fares is a 17-year-old from Florissant, Missouri.

In Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Arshia Hussain, another 17-year-old Muslim girl, echoed Fares’ words.

“That could have happened to any of us, to any Muslim girl,” Arshia told HuffPost. “There are so many Muslim girls thinking that it could have happened to them.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST 

The five most feared buzzwords associated with Islam in the West, and what they really mean

We need to change the way we talk about extremism to strip the alt-right of its audience, which has been brainwashed into thinking my faith is synonymous with terrorism.

jakarta-istiqual-mosqueThe post-9/11 era has been rife with Islamophobia, populism and the growing support for the far-right across Europe and the US – most notably in recent years.

Hostility and discrimination against Muslims in the UK has peaked, resulting in 1,260 hate crimes in the year up to March 2017. A culture of fear, capitalised on by so-called terrorism experts and pundits, has created a vehicle for all types of extremists to target anything associated with Islam. Here are some of the most commonly misused buzzwords.

1. Islam

When most people hear the words “Islam” or “Muslim”, their mind conjures up images of brown bearded men, burqa-clad women, Isis, Al-Qaeda, and all manner of other stereotypes. A Google image search will confirm these preconceptions, but there are 1.3 million Muslims in the world: we don’t all look the same or hold the same views.

The word “Islam” originates from the Arabic root word salaam, which translates as “peace”. For Muslims, Islam is not a political ideology but a way of life which involves adhering to the five tenets of faith: belief in God, fasting during Ramadan, making pilgrimage, giving to charity and praying five times a day.

Muslims are not a homogenous entity; they come in many forms, including different Islamic philosophies and difference levels of observance. Many Muslims believe that prophet Muhammed is a direct descendant of Abraham through Ismail, and that Islam has many parallels with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Islam should not be viewed in isolation, it is as much a part of our society as any other faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT 

How Muslim Americans are fighting Islamophobia and securing their civil rights

58cc424b2c00003b00fef053The past year has been a difficult one for American Muslims.

According to a July 2017 Pew survey, 48 percent of Muslims report experiencing at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim advocacy organizations found these trends were particularly intense during the 2016 campaigns and the early months of the Trump presidency.

And while the survey shows that Americans report warmer feelings toward Muslims today than they did in 2014, Muslims continue to be the most negatively rated religious group – followed closely by atheists. In fact, about half of Americans (49 percent) believe that at least “some” Muslim Americans are anti-American.

As a scholar of religion and politics, I’ve studied how U.S. Muslim advocacy organizations have advanced their community’s integration in America. Their work reminds us that minorities in the U.S. are still struggling for civil rights.

Spikes in anti-Muslim sentiments and hate crimes appear to correlate with elections cycles. This is not a coincidence. In recent years, politicians have increasingly relied on anti-Muslim rhetoric to mobilize voters. What was once considered unacceptable discourse by members of both parties has gradually been normalized, particularly among Republican candidates.

During the 2016 presidential primaries, for example, Sen. Ted Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” Ben Carson claimed that Islam was incompatible with the Constitution. And former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned that some immigrants were trying to “change our fundamental culture and values and set up their own.”

Muslim Americans are responding through organizations that represent their interests, and are increasingly visible, engaged and assertive. At the grassroots level, their presence is seen through the work of activists like Linda Sarsour, a co-sponsor of the 2017 Women’s March. At the policy level, Muslim advocacy organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations also work to advance the community’s legislative agenda.

There are an estimated 3.35 million Muslims in the U.S. A majority of them, 58 percent, are first-generation Americans who arrived in the U.S. after the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. As these immigrants began to settle in the U.S., they established institutions. In fact, most Muslim advocacy groups were founded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but gained prominence in the post-9/11 era.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE 

‘Love Thy Neighbor?’

When a Muslim doctor arrived in a rural Midwestern town, “it felt right.” But that feeling began to change after the election of Donald Trump.

 The doctor was getting ready. Must look respectable, he told himself. Must be calm. He changed into a dark suit, blue shirt and tie and came down the wooden staircase of the stately Victorian house at Seventh and Pine that had always been occupied by the town’s most prominent citizens.

That was him: prominent citizen, town doctor, 42-year-old father of three, and as far as anyone knew, the first Muslim to ever live in Dawson, a farming town of 1,400 people in the rural western part of the state.

“Does this look okay?” Ayaz Virji asked his wife, Musarrat, 36.

In two hours, he was supposed to give his third lecture on Islam, and he was sure it would be his last. A local Lutheran pastor had talked him into giving the first one in Dawson three months before, when people had asked questions such as whether Muslims who kill in the name of the prophet Muhammad are rewarded in death with virgins, which had bothered him a bit. Two months later, he gave a second talk in a neighboring town, which had ended with several men calling him the antichrist.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST