Tennessee mosque receives final occupancy permit, was subject of 2-year legal battle

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A Tennessee mosque has received its final approval after a nearly two-year legal battle to prevent it from opening.

Islamic Center of Murfreesboro board chairman Essam Fathy said Thursday he was relieved and happy the mosque has its permanent occupancy permit.

Since construction was approved in May 2010, the mosque has been targeted by vandalism, arson and a bomb threat.

A group of neighbors sued Rutherford County to try to stop construction. Among other things, they claimed that local Muslims were compelled by their religion to try to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.

That claim was dismissed, but construction approvals were voided briefly for other reasons before a federal judge last month cleared the way for the mosque to open.

Pluralism and prejudice: How conflicts over religious pluralism reveal America’s new ‘Sacred Ground’

The only Protestant running for president in 2012 is President Obama, an American of both a racially and a religiously diverse family background. Both vice-presidential candidates are Catholics, and Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, is Mormon.

Does it matter?

Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core thinks it does. In his new book, “Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America,” Patel sees our political process as a mirror of our increasing diversity, especially religious diversity. He writes, “America is among the most religiously diverse countries in human history and by far the most religiously devout nation in the West.”

The question Patel poses, however, is how are we, as a nation, managing these factors? Are we furthering the narrative of “American exceptionalism” in which religious freedom and tolerance are supposed to be one of the best ways we showcase our values to the world? Or are we losing “social capital” to religious fragmentation and even enmity?

Patel takes quite a risk in this book, starting with the manufactured Islamophobia around the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” and his own anger and disgust at this blatant manipulation of religious intolerance for political purposes.

And then, as Patel often does, he provides a teachable moment. At the height of what has been called the “summer of hate” in 2010, he writes that he gets a phone call from Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, one of the most respected Islamic scholars and public intellectuals in the United States. He tells Sheikh Hamza of his anger at this “ridiculous hatred” by a “handful of bigots.”

The core message of “Sacred Ground” is exactly that. Now is the time for not only Patel and Interfaith Youth Core, but also for all of us who believe in the promise of America, to do our best work.

Sheikh Hamza’s words to Patel also reminded me of what we often say in the peace movement: a conflict that cannot be named cannot be mediated.

NC men convicted of plotting attack on Marines base get lengthy prison sentences

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two men were sentenced Friday to long prison terms for their roles in a North Carolina-based terror ring that aspired to kill U.S. military personnel.

A federal judge in New Bern sentenced accused ringleader Daniel Patrick Boyd to 18 years. Boyd is a 42-year-old Muslim convert who lived near Raleigh and pleaded guilty in 2011 to charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and plotting to murder, kidnap, maim and injure persons abroad.

In June, a jury found 36-year-old Anes Subasic guilty of the same charges. The Bosnian native got a 30-year sentence.

Prosecutors said the men were members of a terrorist cell that raised money, stockpiled weapons and trained for jihadist attacks against those they considered enemies of Islam. All seven men convicted as members of the plot, including two of Boyd’s sons, were either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. An eighth indicted man is believed to be in Pakistan.

Dylan Boyd was sentenced in December to eight years in federal prison and Zakariya Boyd was sentenced to nine years.

Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan, Ziyad Yaghi and Hysen Sherifi were convicted after a month-long trial held last year around the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, each receiving prison terms of between 15 and 45 years.

The men were convicted following testimony by two FBI informants that members of the group plotted to attack the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., and earlier attempted to travel to Israel with the intent of creating mayhem.

New poll finds Americans evenly divided in views of Muslims

Americans are almost evenly divided in how they view Muslims, according to a survey released Thursday (Aug. 23) by the Arab American Institute in Washington.

But the online survey, which also gauged views on Mormons, Jews, Catholics, evangelicals, Buddhists and Hindus also found a striking generational gap and significant differences between political groups.

“The American Divide: How We View Arabs And Muslims,” found that 41 percent of Americans had unfavorable views of Muslims, compared to 40 percent who held favorable views.

That’s an improvement from 2010, when another Arab American Institute survey found that 55 percent of Americans viewed Muslims unfavorably, compared to 35 percent with favorable views. The latest poll surveyed 1,052 people between August 15-16.

Professor Jack Levin, co-director of the Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University, attributed the spike in anti-Muslim sentiment in 2010 to protests against a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. “That effect has been fading over time,” Levin said.

The report, which had a margin of error of 3.1 percent, also found that 42 percent of Americans thought Muslims could do a good job in government, while 32 percent said they could not because their loyalty was suspect.

Nearly six in 10 Americans said they don’t know a Muslim compared to three in 10 who said they did, while the rest were unsure. People who knew Muslims were more likely to have favorable views of them.

American Taliban Lindh says Ind. prison’s ban on daily group prayer violates religious freedom

INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. government claims it has the ultimate proof that American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh might foment hate and violence among fellow Muslim inmates if they’re allowed to pray together daily. He has already tried, it argues.
But Lindh, 31, accuses the government of going too far in its drive for security and trampling on his freedom of religion by restricting group prayers among Muslim inmates in the Terre Haute, Ind., prison unit where he has been housed since 2007.
Lindh is expected to testify Monday in federal court in Indianapolis during the first day of a trial that will examine how far prison officials can go to ensure security in the age of terrorism.
Muslims are required to pray five times a day, and the Hanbali school to which Lindh belongs requires group prayer if it is possible. But inmates in the Communications Management Unit are allowed to pray together only once a week except during Ramadan. At other times, they must pray in their individual cells. Lindh claims that doesn’t meet the Quran’s requirements and is inappropriate because he is forced to kneel in close proximity to his toilet.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing Lindh, contends the policy violates a federal law barring the government from restricting religious activities without showing a compelling need.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2009 by two Muslim inmates in the unit. Lindh joined the lawsuit in 2010, and the case has drawn far more attention since then. The other plaintiffs have dropped out as they were released from prison or transferred to other units.
Lindh had been charged with conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists, but those charges were dropped in a plea agreement. He is serving a 20-year sentence for supplying services to the now-defunct Taliban government of Afghanistan and carrying explosives for them. He is eligible for release in 2019.

The government allocated € 70,000 to restore the mosque ‘Anas Ibn Maalik’

25 August 2012

The UCIDCE received 70,000 euros to restore the mosque “Masjid Anas Ibn Maalik ‘thanks to a grant approved yesterday by the Governing Council and is part of the program to rehabilitate temples in the city, since they are” cultural heritage “.

The spokesman of the Muslims of Ceuta criticizes “scoundrels” politicians who wear the veil “as electoral strategy”

21 August 2012

The president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Ceuta (Ucidce) Laarbi Maateis, has censored the  “scoundrels political parties and associations ” who “used the hijab – the headscarf – as decoy during electoral campaigns and cause alarm for the rest of the year “after an association that works in defense of gender equality in the two autonomous cities, ‘Búscome’, has termed as “macho” the expressions allegedly discharged by imams who led the prayers at the end of the month of Ramadan.
Maateis has denied, however, that during the prayer such assertions had been made. “During the prayers [attended by about 3,000 people], the imam asked Allah to give our children the faith to wear the hijab according to the conviction and education of each family, no more, because nor a father, or an imam or a head of state may force it to anyone, “warned the President of the UCIDCE.

Bottle Filled with Acid Thrown at Full Time Islamic School in Illinois

An Islamic school in west suburban Lombard is at least the second Muslim institution to report an attack this past weekend.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago says the College Preparatory School of America, an Islamic school at 331 W. Madison St. in Lombard, was subjected to vandalism on Sunday night.

The council says someone hurled a 7-Up bottle filled with acid and other unspecified materials at the school during the nighttime Ramadan prayers.

During the prayer session, worshipers heard a loud bang and went to find an empty bottle thrown on the window of the school. No one was injured.

Vandals shoot paintballs at OKC mosque

The Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City was fired upon by paintballs early Sunday, and the vandals fled the scene before they were apprehended.

About 2:45 a.m., the vandals pulled into the parking lot of the Grand Mosque, 3201 NW 48, and fired upon the building’s doors, Hassan Ahmed, the mosque’s imam and director said.

“A car pulled here in front of the main entrance and started shooting paintball guns, but at the time, I didn’t know it was that. I thought it was bullets they were shooting into the building. And I could hear when I was coming from the house, but before I reached there, they were gone,” Ahmed said.

Police arrived a few minutes later, but by that time, the vandals were gone.

Hank Williams Jr.: ‘Muslim’ Obama ‘Hates the U.S.’

Country star courts additional controversy at Iowa State Fair

Hank Williams Jr. unleashed another round of invective aimed at President Obama last week at the Iowa State Fair, according to the Des Moines Register. Speaking to crowd on August 17th, Williams Jr. proclaimed, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!” The statement was reportedly well received by the audience.

In July, Williams Jr. told Rolling Stone that Obama “hates America in the first place, forget about the flag.” His latest album, Old School, New Rules, also contains plenty of charged lyrics directed at the president. Williams’ outspoken antipathy toward Obama hasn’t been without consequences: Last October, the country singer compared the president playing golf with Speaker of the House John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, to “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” prompting ESPN to pull Williams’ “All My Rowdy Friends” from its Monday Night Football broadcasts and end a 20-year relationship with the singer.