Interfaith events excellent way to thwart senseless violence

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Guest columnist Zohaib Zafar is a graduate student at Cleveland State University and a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America.

A few weeks ago, in the Portland train attacks, three people were stabbed after they tried protecting two teenage girls from a terrorist named Jeremy Christian. One of the two girls was Muslim and wore the hijab. Christian told the girls they were nothing and that they should kill themselves, and he also reportedly said, “Muslims should die.”

It took three days for any condemnation of this terrorist attack to be displayed on President Trump’s social media. Furthermore, Trump’s response was tweeted using the Twitter account that he inherited from President Obama and not his own account, thus he did not reach many of his supporters.

Trump is very quick to condemn terrorist attacks that Muslims perpetrate in the West, but when they are perpetrated by those who are not Muslim, the response is not immediate, and often there is no response at all. If Trump continues to do this, he will leave a legacy in which he was more committed to serving his political interests than the safety of Americans.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CLEVELAND.COM

WORLD TRUMP BAN: HOW TO HELP MUSLIMS AFFECTED BY TRAVEL BLACKLIST

trump-travel-banThe Supreme Court ruled Monday that Trump’s new travel ban—which bars citizens from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for a period of 90 days—is allowed to restart Thursday.

Citizens from from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must now prove they have a parent, sibling, or child in the United States in order to visit. Visas already issued will not be revoked.

The ban has been criticized by politicians, judges and foreign leaders of other countries. The Council of American-Islamic Relations, said the ban “ignores the Islamophobic origins of the policy and emboldens Islamophobes in the Trump administration.”

Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have employment contracts in the United States are exempt from the ban. Existing visas have not been revoked, and there should be less chaos at airports this time.

During the last travel ban, immigration lawyers headed to airports to offer their services for free. Immigration lawyers who want to help can get in touch with the organizations below to offer their services free of charge once again. Anyone who needs help can contact the following organizations for legal advice.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK 

From Manchester to Jerusalem: The Limits of Trump’s Terror Narrative

170523062901-donald-trump-responds-to-manchester-attack-super-teaseA few hundred yards from the office where I work, 22 people were murdered on Monday night by a suicide bomber. A further 64 people were injured, many of them seriously. Among the dead were children and teenagers, and their mums and dads who’d come to collect them from a pop concert at the Manchester Arena.

The victims came from across the north of England. It was the worst terrorist attack in the UK for 12 years and the concert had been deliberately chosen to gain international attention and kill as many young people, particularly girls, as possible. Colleagues from my office and their children were among the injured and the dead.

The suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi ,was born and brought up in Manchester, his family had fled the Gaddafi regime in Libya in the 1990s and somehow he had become ‘radicalised’ into a destructive perversion of Islam that made him think murdering children was worthy of God’s blessing.

On Tuesday, on advice from my bosses, I worked from home. The area around our office was a ‘security zone’ in lock down. The city’s second biggest railway station, Victoria, was closed. Meanwhile, the body parts of those killed remained at the scene of the crime.

At home it was hard to concentrate on much. The news was about nothing but the bombing, and quite rightly the General Election campaign was suspended. Checking in with my work team it was clear how shaken and upset many of us were. The horror of indiscriminate terror was suddenly a part of our lives. We all knew the Manchester Arena. We knew people who were there the night before. There were friends of friends who were missing.

The narrative of terror

All around the world that day there was reaction to what had taken place. But it was Donald Trump, speaking in Jerusalem at the Israel Museum, who was determined to co-opt Manchester into his new narrative of terror.

“You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on…. Horrific, horrific injuries. Terrible.  Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity.  I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world. “

 

FULL ARTICLE FROM MONDOWEISS

What was Trump’s speech on Islam missing? American Muslims.

1060x600-93172dac1665d855104936ea9bdb1b0ePresident Trump, like his predecessors before him, has discovered the potent language of religious tolerance and interfaith unity when discussing Islam, as he demonstrated in his speech in Saudi Arabia to leaders of some 50 Muslim nations. But unlike previous presidents, he has not linked that rhetoric with recognition of the large, vibrant Muslim community in the United States.

As a historian who has studied efforts in the past to build acceptance of religious pluralism in the United States, I am concerned by Trump’s departure from historical precedent.

Can a message of tolerance to Islam abroad be persuasive without a corresponding affirmation of American Muslims at home?

In his widely anticipated remarks on Islam and terrorism,  Trump avoided many of the missteps his critics feared. He notably abandoned the harsh rhetoric that characterized descriptions of Islam during his 2016 campaign. Trump has set aside his insistence on the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” He has also rejected the broad generalizations of Islam that marked his demand for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration because their hatred was “beyond comprehension.”

With the exception of one apparent reference to “Islamic terror” — present in his spoken words but not in the written text of the speech — Trump struck a tolerant, inclusive tone. In his declaration that he was “not here to lecture” was the promise that the United States would not tell others “how to worship.”

More notable than the language of tolerance was Trump’s new emphasis on interfaith commonality. He declared the campaign against terrorism not “a battle between different faiths” but rather a fight that encompassed them all. He noted that a terrorist who “falsely invokes the name of God” should be considered “an insult to every person of faith.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Trump’s new tune on Islam unconvincing, experts in Mideast say

usa-trump-saudi(CNN) President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday will likely be met with skepticism and frustration in the Muslim world, according to experts in the Middle East who said his sudden shift in tone on Islam was unconvincing.

Trump gave his speech in Saudi Arabia, where he ditched his hard-line rhetoric from the 2016 election campaign and instead called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.”
Here’s what experts in three Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East thought of the speech.
 Jordan
Former Jordanian Justice Minister Ibrahim Aljazy said Trump’s shift in tone towards Muslims was notable.
Trump to Muslim world: Drive out terrorists
But Aljazy said that Jordanians and others in the Muslim world had hoped Trump would deliver clearer answers on American policy in the region.
“I would not call it a constructive tone since that people in the region, particularly Jordanians, are looking for a more clear approach to the Israeli policies and an end to settlements, which may pave the way for a true two-state solution and end of occupation,” he said.
“Referencing ‘Islamic’ terrorist organizations only will not be appreciated by the vast majority of people in the region when other forces are carrying out acts of aggression, especially as Arabs and Muslims are the prime victims of these organizations,” he said.
Trump also failed to acknowledge the importance of democracy and the rule of law in putting an end to the root causes of terrorism, Aljazy said.

President Trump Tries to Engage the Muslim World

20sat1-master768No American president in modern times has disparaged Islam as much as Donald Trump. From the attempted visa ban on Muslim-majority countries to his campaign claims that “Islam hates us” to his Islamaphobic advisers, the president’s record of hostility is well documented.

So his first overseas trip as president is something of a paradox, with a first stop in Saudi Arabia — a major force in the Sunni Arab world —- that includes meetings with members of the royal family, a summit meeting with other Arab leaders and a major speech on Sunday.

Does that mean Mr. Trump has changed his stripes? Given his casual approach to the truth and his malleable belief system, it’s impossible to know his true views on Islam. What we do know is that he needs all the help he can get from Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State. If he uses the speech and the trip to set a new tone with the Muslim world, that would be greatly in America’s interest.

The Saudis, who came to loathe President Barack Obama, are falling over themselves to turn the page. Mr. Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia “lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim,” the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters early this month, ignoring the fact that the real issue is not whether America is anti-Muslim but whether Mr. Trump is. It was he, after all, who stoked xenophobic fires to win the election.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

How Trump Spurred Muslims And Jews To Eat Together — And Build Bridges

picture1-1466692203On the February night that President Trump unveiled his travel ban on immigrants from Muslim countries, Samir Malik, a 31-year-old tech developer whose parents are from Pakistan, was on his way to dinner in Brooklyn.

Text messages buzzed on his phone. Activist friends of his were on the way to JFK airport to protest. He worried, would his friends and family be affected?

Malik found comfort in the Orthodox Jewish family of six that had invited him to dinner.

“How are you feeling? Do you feel cared for?” his Jewish host asked Malik and his wife, also Muslim, with roots in India.

The gesture was encouraging. The dinner was part of an initiative to bring together Muslims and Jews for small home-cooked meals through New York City. There have been two rounds of these interfaith dinners since February, each drawing around 100 participants.

“The idea is for people who don’t interact as much to have an opportunity to get to know each other,” said Lonnie Firestone, a Modern Orthodox Jew and freelance writer from Brooklyn who is spearheading the effort.

The genesis of this project for Firestone was the election of Donald Trump, which shocked many liberals. On the heels of a divisive and polarizing campaign season, Firestone wanted to organize something that would bring people together.

“Trump’s campaign had fostered an inhospitable environment toward Muslims and to a lesser but still notable degree toward Jews, I felt that Jewish and Muslim Americans should become better advocates for one other,” Firestone said.

Interfaith work like this, of course, is not new. But bringing Jews into Muslim home, and Muslims in Jewish homes for home-cooked meals, felt both urgent and untested to Firestone.

The dinners are organized alongside a string of New York organizations, both Jewish and Muslim. Participants have come from Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim; the progressive “GetOrganizedBK” group; the Altshul minyan, an egalitarian Brooklyn minyan also in Brooklyn; the Prospect Heights Shul ; the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee; the Islamic Center at NYU and a group called Muslim Urban Professionals.