13 December 2012
Imran Firasat is a Pakistani citizen who rebelled against Islam when he and his Buddhist wife were rejected by their society due to their interreligious marriage
.After a series of police persecutions he and his wife were finally granted political asylum in Spain in 2006.
He then started a blog criticizing the Islamic religion, called “A World without Islam
(Mundo sin Islam). Similar to the movie, “The Innocence of Muslims,” he created a short story”The Innocent Prophet: The Life of Mohammed from a Different Point of View,” posted on YouTube (removed recently).
In April of this year he officially campaigned for banning the Qu’ran from Spain and there were indications that he planned to burn the Sacred book in one of the main squares of Madrid
. He was influenced by the North-American Pastor Terry Jones
, his main partner in the making of his movie. The police called him for interrogation and asked him to leave the country
As a consequence of this movie, he was condemned to death penalty in Pakistan and Indonesia. In Belgium as well, screenings of the video raised fear of terrorist attacks in the country. Due to fear of terrorist acts, the Madrid Court has requested an alteration the video. His status of political refugee is also in jeopardy. On the 13th of December of 2012 the Court ordered the suspension of the video.
16 December 2012
The objective of the Congress was to reflect and speak about social action and volunteer work from a religious perspective. There were several roundtables and a space dedicated to the discussion of feminine volunteer work.
News Agencies – December 20, 2012
A Muslim woman who is the complainant in a sexual assault trial in Toronto has lost her bid before Canada’s top court to have an unimpeded right to wear her niqab while testifying. In a split Supreme Court of Canada decision, the seven judges largely upheld a lower court’s ruling that the woman, known only as N.S. to protect her identity under a court-ordered publication ban, may have to remove her niqab.
The woman, known as N.S.in the court, appealed to the Supreme Court arguing her sincere religious beliefs meant that her face must be covered before all males who are not close relatives. Lawyers for the two men accused of sexually assaulting her when she was a child argued that a fair and open trial means the face of a witness must be seen because facial cues are important to establish credibility.
Susan Chapman, lawyer for LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, reads the case differently. “The starting proposition here is that she’s entitled to wear it [the niqab] until somebody demonstrates, namely the accused, that it will impact adversely on his fair trial rights …The onus I see is on the accused.”
Part of the court evidence is that the woman did remove her niqab to be photographed for a driver’s licence, in front of a female photographer. Lawyers for the accused men point out that her religious convictions were not so strong that she refused to go through the licensing process, even though the photo could be demanded by any number of police officers who might be men.
17 December 2012
The outcome of the UK Census 2011 was published last week. The census data revealed a sharp rise in the Muslim population. The Muslim population in the UK has significantly risen between 2001 and 2011 from 1.5 million to almost 3 million. Hence, Muslim proportion has increased from 2% of the population to 5%. In some towns, Muslims make up almost 50% of the population, and in large cities like London and Manchester they make up around 14% of the population.
Muslim populations in Manchester (over 100,000), Birmingham (plus 96,000), Bradford (plus 55,000) and most of the inner London boroughs, notably Newham (plus 64,000), Tower Hamlets (plus 58,000) and Haringey (plus 52,000). Tower Hamlets remains the local authority district with the greatest proportion of Muslims – 34.5%. The 2011 census estimates that there are now 2.7 million British Muslims, with nearly 40 per cent of them — a million — living in London.
The census data also revealed a sharp increase in foreign-born residents: 7.5million residents of England and Wales were foreign-born in 2011 Just 44.9 per cent of Londoners are White British. Further less than 90 per cent of country is white for the first time ever. According to the census data Christianity has been in decline: Around 59 per cent British people now call themselves Christian and a quarter say they have no religion.
Muslim Council of Britain Welcomed the Census 2011 results, and commented that “the growth in number points to the fact that Muslims play a significant part in the increasing diversity of Britain.”
Julian Bond, director of the Christian Muslim Forum, said the figures reinforced the need to “think about the best possible way to engage with Islam and think about whether people should be having days off for Eid, how Ramadan is accommodated and how religion is taught in schools”.
December 14, 2012
A striking feature of the 2012 race for the White House – a contest that pitted the first Mormon nominee from a major party against an incumbent president whose faith had been a source of controversy four years earlier – is how little the subject of religion came up in the media. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, just 1% of the campaign coverage by major news outlets (including broadcast and cable television, radio, newspaper front pages and the most popular news websites) focused on the religion of the candidates or the role of religion in the presidential election. Only 6% of the election-related stories in major news outlets contained any reference to religion.
Media attention to religion’s importance in the campaign peaked during the primaries, when several Republican candidates spoke about their Christian beliefs. The prominence of religious rhetoric in speeches by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and others fueled speculation about whether white evangelical Protestants – who made up about one-third of all Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters in 2012 – would withhold support from Mitt Romney because of his Mormon faith. Indeed, the biggest single religion-related campaign story came more than a full year before the election, when a Texas minister publicly called Mormonism a “cult.” That incident, in October 2011, generated fully 5% of all coverage of religion in the presidential campaign.
When Romney captured the GOP nomination and named Rep. Paul Ryan, a Roman Catholic, as his vice presidential running mate in August 2012, they became the first non-Protestant ticket in the Republican Party’s history. But as the primaries gave way to the general election campaign, the subject of religion subsided in the media, in part because neither Romney nor President Barack Obama made much effort to raise it. Fewer than one-in-seven religion-related stories in the campaign (13%) resulted from statements or actions by either candidate.
Rather than focusing on the religious beliefs and practices of the candidates, media coverage of religion during the 2012 campaign frequently centered on the political clout of white evangelicals and their electoral choices – a topic that accounted for 29% of religion-related coverage overall. Talking about evangelicals became a way for the media to address the question of what impact Romney’s Mormon faith could have on the race, confronting religion as a tactical “horse-race” concern.
Romney was the subject of about twice as much religion-related coverage as Obama, and 45% of all religion-related stories in the campaign took the horse-race approach, dealing with how religion might impact the vote. In all, 34% of the religion coverage focused on faith as a character issue, or mentioned it in passing as part of a candidate’s identity. There was far less coverage (16%) of how religion might impact policymaking or governance.
These are among the key findings of the new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Pew Forum, both of which are part of the Pew Research Center. The study examined nearly 800 religion-related stories from cable television, network broadcast television, radio, newspaper front pages and the most popular news websites in the country between August 2011 and Election Day (Nov. 6, 2012). In addition, the study involved a sample of specialized religious publications and an analysis of hundreds of thousands of messages about the candidates’ faith on Twitter and Facebook; the social media analysis relied on technology developed by Crimson Hexagon. (For more details on how the study was conducted, see the Methodology.)
In the end, the basic contours of religion in U.S. politics remained unchanged in the 2012 election, according to a Pew Forum analysis of exit poll results. In particular, white evangelical Protestants voted as overwhelmingly for Romney (79%) as they did for Republican candidates John McCain in 2008 (73%) and George W. Bush in 2004 (79%). Indeed, white evangelicals voted as strongly for Romney as Mormons did (78%), according to the Pew Forum analysis of exit poll data.
ST. LOUIS — A Muslim taxicab driver is suing the city of St. Louis, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission and a private security company, saying he has been harassed and arrested because he insists on wearing religious garb.
Raja Awais Naeem, who works for Harris Cab and manages a shuttle service called A-1 Shuttle, says his religious beliefs require him to wear modest, loose-fitting clothing and a hat called a kufi. But that garb has run afoul of the taxicab commission’s dress code for cabbies, Naeem claims in the suit filed Thursday (Dec. 13) in St. Louis Circuit Court.
Naeem, originally from Pakistan but now a U.S. citizen, said he has been told he must adhere to the commission’s rules requiring a white shirt, black pants and no kufi. Baseball caps are allowed, as long as they have no logo other than the taxi certificate holder.
He claims he has been harassed and had his taxi license suspended when he continued wearing clothing he says is required by Islam, including the kufi, a loose shirt called a kurta and loose-fitting pants called shalwar. Naeem said the clothing maintains modesty by concealing the figure.
In his lawsuit, Naeem says he was written a citation by a Whelan Security guard in June 2011 for wearing “foreign country religious dress.” Other times he had his taxi license suspended or was told he would be arrested for trespassing if he worked in his religious clothing, he said.
“I don’t understand how you can justify somebody wearing his religious clothes getting arrested,” Naeem said in a news conference on the courthouse steps, where he was joined by other cabbies and his lawyer from the ACLU.
His suit seeks an injunction to allow religious dress for cabdrivers, and civil damages including attorney’s fees and other costs.
A bizarre chain email sent to district and school board officials in the Dallas area this October titled “IRVING ISD INDOCTRINATING ISLAM” inspired a recent investigation of “Islamic bias” in the district’s curriculum. Despite the outlandish claims, the district requested that an official from the organization that created the curriculum to respond. The results of a 72-page investigation done by the organization were not surprising: there’s a Christian bias in schools, not a Muslim one.
The official told the board that a bias toward Islam didn’t exist, even mentioning that “she hired a ‘very socially and fiscally conservative’ former social studies teacher who ‘watches Glenn Beck on a regular basis’ to seek out any Islamic bias in CSCOPE [the curriculum].” She “asked her to look for anything she would consider the least bit controversial.” The Dallas Morning News has the details of an investigation that mentioned “every religious reference in the CSCOPE curriculum, from kindergarten to high school”:
– Christianity got twice as much attention in the curriculum as any other religion. Islam was a distant second.
– The Red Crescent and Boston Tea Party reference mentioned in the email were nowhere in CSCOPE’s curriculum, although they may have been in the past.
– If there was any Islamic bias in CSCOPE it was “bias against radical Islam.”
This isn’t the first time Texas has debated the perceived presence of too much Islam in its school books. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education banned any books that “paint Islam in too favorable of a light.” The reasoning was head-scratching: “the resolution adopted Friday cites ‘politically-correct whitewashes of Islamic culture and stigmas on Christian civilization’ in current textbooks and warns that ‘more such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the US public school textbook oligopoly.’” A Texas based civil liberties advocate said at the time that “the members who voted for this resolution were solely interested in playing on fear and bigotry in order to pit Christians against Muslims.”
The EEOC is suing ABM Security Services, which provides guards for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, for religious discrimination after an employee claimed she was forced to choose between keeping her job and wearing her traditional Muslim head covering.
ABM hired Tahira, a devout Muslim, and she reported for training wearing a khimar, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. Her trainer told her to take off the scarf, but she refused, explaining that her religion required it. An ABM representative told her that she could not work at the convention center while wearing the khimar and sent her home.
Tahira filed an EEOC complaint, noting that ABM never discussed accommodations that would allow her to perform the job and observe her religious beliefs. EEOC mediation attempts failed, and now, barring a settlement, the lawsuit will go to trial.
Statement read by Jason Graves, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, Conn.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The Muslim community of the Al Hedaya Islamic Center in Newtown, in Connecticut and throughout the nation joins with our fellow Americans in grieving for those who died in this senseless tragedy and praying for them and their families.
We ask God to grant those lost a special place in paradise and we ask their families to be granted the strength to endure the unendurable.
It is in such times of almost unbearable loss that we seek comfort with our Creator and that artificial divisions of faith fall away to reveal a nation of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, son and daughters, all united in a desire to bring healing and renewed hope.
The Quran, Islam’s revealed text, tells us that God’s mercy and compassion are without limit and always available for those who ask. God says: “When my servants question you about Me, tell them that I am near. I answer the prayer of every person who calls on Me.” (2:186)
In the Quran, God also says: “Give glad tidings to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from God.” (2:155-157)
So let us all, of every faith, of every background, pray for God’s comfort at this time of heartbreaking tragedy.
“Verily, with every difficulty there is ease. Verily, with every difficulty there is ease.” (94:5-6)