Posts on social media make the claim that the government of Minnesota is allowing mosques to remain open amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak, while Christian churches are closed. Examples of this post can be seen here , here and here .
This claim follows President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that mosques might receive special treatment ( youtu.be/M3Ll18Cz4Yc?t=3000 ).
A sample post on Facebook reads: “Just want to inform you all that all Christian churches in Minnesota are closed!!! BUT the governor has allowed the mosque to remain open!! We should all be outraged at this! I spoke with a deputy with St. Cloud Police Department he said they are ALLOWED TO BE OPEN GOVERNORS ORDERS.”
This claim is false. The Minnesota state government confirmed to Reuters via email that there is “absolutely no distinction between churches and mosques in any order issued by the Governor.” It is true that in-person gatherings of congregants, without distinction of religion, are not allowed by the Governor’s Executive Order to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Minnesota’s Stay at Home Order visible here , states that all workers who can work from home must do so. However, it makes an exemption for faith leaders and workers in houses of worship, who are currently among those permitted to perform their duties “wherever their services may be needed.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM REUTERS
Several thousand Muslims across Ethiopia in recent days have protested against the burning of four mosques in the Amhara region.
The attacks last Friday in Motta town, more than 350km (217 miles) north of the capital Addis Ababa, also targeted Muslim-owned businesses. Muslims have called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called the attacks “attempts by extremists to break down our rich history of religious tolerance and coexistence”. Recent ethnic-based unrest in some parts of the country has at times taken religious form.
Prominent Muslim scholar Kamil Shemsu on Tuesday told The Associated Press news agency there are “political actors who want to pit one religious group against another” and blamed the negative role of activists and videos circulated online.
Amhara regional officials said they have arrested 15 suspects in connection with the attacks. Police commander Jemal Mekonnen told state media the attacks appeared to be triggered by news of a fire that broke out in an Orthodox church a few days earlier.
Regional officials were criticised for their slow response and their inability to stop similar attacks.
Many communities across Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, have seen demonstrations.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
(RNS) — For more than a decade, Rizwan Mawani has been living, working and praying with Muslims in 50 different communities across 17 countries. As you’d expect, he has visited plenty of masjids, as mosques are called in Arabic, meaning “a place of prostration.”
But Mawani, a 45-year-old Canadian scholar and research consultant, whose new book is called “Beyond the Mosque: Diverse Spaces of Muslim Worship,” also spent time in Sufi khanaqas, Shia husayniyyas, Druze khalwas, Ismaili jamatkhanas as well as religious schools known as madrasas and other spaces of Islamic devotion from Canada to China.
Mawani uses these varied sacred spaces as lenses through which to offer readers a primer on the expansive histories, varied architectures and evolving ritual practices of Muslims around the world.
“While the mosque has come to predominate over our architectural assumptions and is often considered as the place of worship for Muslims, a survey of where ritual takes place … demonstrates that there are alternative venues in which Muslims pray,” Mawani wrote in the new book.
FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICES
I’ve been asking myself lately what it means to be a good neighbor.
I was raised in a Christian home, went to a Christian church and a Christian school, then eventually enrolled in a Christian university. I learned very well how to love and edify my Christian community. What I didn’t understand was how I was supposed to interact with those who didn’t share my theology and belief system; those who dressed, looked, and spoke differently.
What did it look like for me to love that person and edify and build them up?
I was fortunate to find that Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), had much to say on the topic. When a lawyer asked Jesus how to get to heaven, Jesus responded to love God with everything and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Seeing some gray area in his response, the lawyer asked Jesus to define some terms. “Who is my neighbor?” the cunning lawyer asked. Jesus responded with a story about a man left for dead, who was passed along the road several times before he was saved by…a Samaritan?
Many Jews looked down on Samaritans (John 4:9). They were thought to be in a “perpetual state of uncleanness” (ESV Study Bible). I imagine the shock and horror on the crowd’s face as Jesus asked, “Who do you think the good neighbor was?”
The lawyer could barely muster the words. “The one who showed mercy,” he muttered. “Go and do likewise,” Jesus replied. In other words…go and emulate that guy.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST
Today’s New Zealand mosque shootings, which killed at least 49 people and were allegedly carried out by white supremacists, are only the latest on a long list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism. Despite the growing and constant threat, Western governments have failed to adequately address the danger of white supremacy.
An abbreviated list of recent acts of white supremacist terrorism includes Robert Gregory Bowers’ killing of 12 Jewish worshippers at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018; Alexandre Bissonnette’s massacre of six Muslims in the Quebec City mosque in 2017; Dylann Roof’s murdering of nine black Christian parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015; and Anders Behring Breivik’s slaughter of 77 people in Norway in 2011.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, numerous other white supremacist plots, including some that planned to kill as many as 30,000 people, have been foiled by law enforcement in the United States. Just last month, the American FBI arrested Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist and lieutenant in the US coastguard, for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks against black and liberal politicians and media personalities.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
A federal jury has found Marq Vincent Perez, 26, guilty of a hate crime in the arson attack on a mosque in Victoria, Texas, in January 2017. Perez, who is set to be sentenced in October, faces up to 40 years in prison.
When fire devastated the Victoria Islamic Center last year, an outpouring of support followed, with neighboring Jewish and Christian congregations offering to host Muslim services in their buildings.
“Hate crimes are not only an attack on a specific victim, they threaten the cornerstone of diversity that America was built upon,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner said of the case, according to a Justice Department release. “Perpetrators of hate crimes, like Perez, aim to chip away at our nation’s foundations by instilling fear into entire communities with violence.”
More than $1.1 million was donated to help rebuild the mosque, with the bulk of that money coming just days after the blaze. The mosque’s congregants were also embraced by the small Texas city, as the community held rallies and prayer vigils to reject hate.
According to recent postings on its Facebook page, the mosque has been nearly rebuilt and the new facade around the main entrance includes granite display blocks from the original building.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received,” wrote Omar Rachid, who attends the mosque, on the fundraising campaign’s webpage. “The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit and Humanity at its best with donations coming in from all over the world.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR
When the Bear Creek Islamic Center recently held an open house, more than 100 Christians and residents living near the mosque were able to pose questions about whether Islam considers Jesus a God, fosters terrorism and views women as a lesser gender.
“People live with opinions formed from sound bites,” said Kate Sunday, who is a Methodist and came with her husband. “We have dear Muslim friends who go to the mosque, and we wanted to experience what they experience. We differ when it comes to our prophet. But we are all children of God.”
GainPeace, a Chicago nonprofit established to promote better understanding of the Islamic faith, local mosques and other Islamic groups, has held more than 3,000 open houses during the past four years to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims and the Muslim faith.
Open houses have been held in nearly every major U.S. city, with a quarter of mosques holding at least one open house annually in recent years, said GainPeace executive director Sabeel Ahmed.
“We have felt that there are many barriers between Americans, and these barriers are giving rise to Islamophobia,” said Ahmed, a physician, who spoke at the Bear Creek Islamic Center open house. “This event helps us connect as humans. At the end of the day, we find that we have so many things in common.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Ashburn resident Amr Said came to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling to pray on Friday, seeking to restore his spirit a week after the unveiling of a Trump administration ban on travel that is keeping hundreds of fellow Muslims from entering the United States.
As he walked up the center stairs amid scores of other immigrants, Said, 35, saw a crowd of about 100 people holding signs that read “We are here for you” and “You belong.”
Inside, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark R. Herring delivered essentially the same message. Herring had come from the federal courthouse in Alexandria, where a judge agreed earlier Friday to move forward with a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the executive order that put the travel ban in place.
“We are here to send a message to President Trump that we will not stand by and allow his unlawful, unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order,” McAuliffe, like Herring a Democrat, bellowed to the cheering worshipers after they had finished the midday prayers.
His remarks, and the demonstration outside, filled Said with hope. “It makes a lot of difference, a lot of difference,” said Said, a software engineer who is originally from Egypt and who shook hands with several of the sign holders while exiting the mosque. “I feel that [the ban] is not going to continue if everyone speaks up.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST