One has to admire US President Donald Trump‘s tenacity. Despite the many fiascos of his Middle Eastpolicy, he keeps going down the same path, with the same partners, come what may.
Since his first foreign trip landed him in Saudi Arabia and Israel two years ago, the president has been on a roll, trampling all over traditional liberal US policies, defying the United Nations, violating international law and heightening tensions in the Middle East – all at the request, or in support, of these special partners.
This trend intensified over the past few weeks. The White House overrode Congress to continue assisting the Saudi war effort in Yemen and lent its support to the renegade general, Khalifa Hafter, during his assault on the Libyan capital, Tripoli. It also proclaimed the Syrian Golan Heights part of Israel and gave approval to the Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territories.
It tightened sanctions on Iran, designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp a “foreign terrorist organisation” and deployed carrier strike group battleships to the Gulf.
As a result of these policies, tensions throughout the region are escalating, yet the Trump administration won’t reconsider, let alone reverse any of them. It has only really done that once – when it stepped back from its hastily-taken position on the blockade of Qatarby Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt two years ago.
But that’s the exception that confirms the rule.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
Most Americans say they don’t know a Muslim and that much of what they understand about Islam is from the media.
It’s not surprising then to see the many misunderstandings that exist about Muslims. Some see them as outsiders and a threat to the American way of life and values. President Donald Trump’s controversial policy to impose a ban on Muslims from seven countries entering into the United States played into such fears.
What many don’t know, however, is that Muslims have been in America well before America became a nation. In fact, some of the earliest arrivals to this land were Muslim immigrants – forcibly transported as slaves in the transatlantic trade, whose 400th anniversary is being observed this year.
The first American Muslims
Scholars estimate that as many as 30% of the African slaves brought to the U.S., from West and Central African countries like Gambia and Cameroon, were Muslim. Among the difficulties they faced, were also those related to their faith.
As a scholar of Muslim communities in the West, I know African slaves were forced to abandon their Islamic faith and practices by their owners, both to separate them from their culture and religious roots and also to “civilize” them to Christianity.
Historian Sylviane Diouf explains how despite such efforts, many slaves retained aspects of their customs and traditions, and found new, creative ways to express them. Slave devotionals sung in the fields, for example, kept the tunes and memory of a bygone life alive well after the trauma of dislocation.
Diouf argues that blues music, one of the quintessential forms of American culture, can trace its origins to Muslim influences from the slave era. She also demonstrates how the famous blues song, “Levee Call Holler,” has a style and melody that comes from the Muslim call to prayer, the “adhan.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION
It has taken me years to heal from the hate I’ve experienced. But I share my story to help build a better world for my children — all our children.
My son is named Jibreel, which is Arabic for Gabriel. I wanted him to have a strong name, one he could draw inspiration from. A line was drawn in the sand for him before he was born. He sits on one side of it and doesn’t know the line is there because he’s only 2 years old. Baby J is consumed with his garbage trucks, cement mixers and kicking his soccer ball around the house.
Meesha is 10 and plays soccer, like a boss. We joke that she’ll have only her first name on the back of her jersey, like a Brazilian. Meesha is a Farsi word meaning “always springtime, always in bloom.” I’m glad my baby plays soccer, and I am more grateful that soccer builds strength and courage. If she ever gets shoved, Meesha will know how to hold her own. My daughter already knows a line is there.
As a parent, I cringe knowing I cannot protect my children from hate. They will walk into it like a glass door, painfully, jarred into reality. I hope I can equip them with the tools to see the glass door for what it is, but also to have the strength to find the catch and throw the door wide open. But I still worry, because it took me years to come to terms with how to deal with hate.
FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY
The various groups that were drawn (or in some cases, dragged) to the United States have themselves been made up of a variety of smaller identity groups: Italian Catholics and Irish Catholics; Polish Jews and German Jews; Latinos from Guatemala and Latinos from Brazil. If, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, the poetical nature of the United States is determined by the dynamics of engagement between those identity communities, then there is also American poetry to be drawn from such dynamics within those communities.
No nation has a Muslim community that is more ethnically, racially, or theologically diverse than the United States. For many years, these various Muslim groups created separate spaces, such as mosques, schools, and community centers. Those who were less ritually observant often found no space at all. But the era of Islamophobia has forced them all together and raised fascinating questions about what it means to be American, what it means to be Muslim, and who gets to define the identity of American Muslims.
Ansari offered lessons in the science of prejudice through a set of humorous stories about Muslims. He reminded his audience that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. If you just changed the music on Homeland, he joked, we wouldn’t look so scary.
In a New York Times op-ed published a few months earlier, Ansari wrote on several of the same themes, but this time through the poignant story of instructing his parents not to go to the mosque for prayer lest they wind up the victims of an Islamophobic attack.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY
The words “I think Islam hates us,” “True hatred among Muslims is too great,” “Over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical imams,” “Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization” from prominent U.S. politicians, brand Muslims as un-American, unassimilable, and potential societal and security threats to the United States.
In the minds of the likes of President Donald Trump, Representative Peter King, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, Muslims have an utter indifference to human life as well as to “American values.” Clearly, the relationship between Islam, Muslims and American national identity has reached a boiling point. Separating fact from fiction is more important than ever.
The facts surrounding Muslims in America present a drastically different picture than the aforementioned claims by U.S. politicians. Muslims have lived on American soil before the United States even existed. The Founding Fathers of the United States welcomed the migration of Muslims to U.S. soil. American Muslims are far from monolithic and represent one of the most diverse religious populations in the country. Muslims are among the most educated populations in American society. Islamic organizations in the United States regularly participate in interfaith dialogue and civic national projects. Muslims are not responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in America. U.S. Muslims do not prefer to be governed by Islamic law (Sharia). All of the preceding statements are facts. These facts are verified by the actions of U.S. Muslims as well as by research carried out by leading academic units and advocacy organizations across the country.
FULL ARTICLE FROM DAILY SABAH
America is now openly hostile to Muslim immigrants. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Our country’s stance has been rendered clear: If you’re Muslim, you’re not welcome here. Period.
I don’t want that to be the case. I condemn that stance as fundamentally un-American.
But I’m no longer going to parrot the oft-tweeted line that has become ubiquitous in the Trump era: “This is not who we are!”
Twitter exploded with “This is not who we are” tweets, well-intentioned pleas that people around the world maintain a belief in the basic decency of Americans.
READ: Muslims grapple with ruling that they believe redefines their place in America »
But let’s be honest. That line isn’t meant to reassure a wary world. It’s meant to make the people who type or utter it feel better. It’s as much a cop-out as it is false.
The travel ban may not be who you are. It’s not who I am. But it is who we — as a country — are right now.
We are a country that doesn’t want Muslims to come here. We are a country that doesn’t want people from Mexico or South America or Central America or Africa to come here. We are a country that wants people who weren’t born in America but have lived here and put down roots to leave, even if it means they’ll return to countries plagued with violence and poverty. We are a country that will intentionally separate mothers from their children as a means to deter non-white people from coming here, even if they’re facing certain death and seeking asylum.
That’s who we are. It gets dressed up in “we’re a nation of laws” rhetoric, but it is what it is, and the world can see it more clearly every day. No amount of denial will make that change.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE