American Muslims growing more liberal, survey shows

A major Pew survey reveals that American Muslims are growing more religiously and socially liberal, with the number who say society should accept homosexuality nearly doubling during the past decade.

The Pew Research Center, survey of 1,001 American Muslims exhibits that American Muslims are more likely to identify as political liberals and believe there are multiple ways to interpret the teaching of Islam.

The wide-ranging survey solicited opinions issues ranging from religious practices and political terrorism to social values.  The survey also found that the American Muslim population has been steadily rising for a decade, adding about 100,000 people per year.  An estimated 3.35 million Muslims now live in the United States, just 1% of the overall population.

The survey also reveals that despite persistent anxiety about Islamic extremism and religious discrimination, the Muslim community in America remains hopeful about their future in the United States.

After a Muslim-American shot and killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando last year, American Muslims were forced to come to terms with gays and lesbians in their mosques and families, prompting conversations about homosexuality and Islamic teachings, said Zareena Grewal, who studies the American Muslim experience at Yale University.
“After the Pulse shooting, Muslims were coming out of the closet across the United States, and the Muslim community, in public and private, was grappling with the issue in a much more honest way,” Grewal said.

Three of Germany’s Islamic associations forge an “Islamokemalist” front

Amidst escalating political tensions between Germany and Turkey, three of Germany’s Turkish-dominated Islamic associations have made clear their perspective on the causes of the current diplomatic spat.

Joint press release

On the anniversary of last year’s military coup attempt in Turkey, the DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB organisations issued a joint press release, calling for a “about-face in German-Turkish relations”.(( http://ditib.de/detail1.php?id=610&lang=de ))

In this document, the three signing associations bemoan that “Europe’s highly reserved reaction” to the attempted putsch had “deeply unsettled the people of Turkish descent. It is more necessary than ever to lift German-Turkish relations to the usual, cordial level.”

“Lack of solidarity”

The core message of the statement centres on Europe’s failure to “recognise the great trauma of July 15 [2016]”. DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB criticise what to them appears to be “widespread disappointment at the failure of the coup”. They castigate the “lack of solidarity with the Turkish people, considering 249 dead and thousands injured”.

The three organisations greeted the conciliatory signals made by Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Sigmar Gabriel, who had in the past repeatedly stressed the need to be supportive of Turkish democracy against the coup plotters.

The Gülenist foe

Overall, the statement paints a picture of Turkey as beleaguered by internal and external enemies, ranging from a PKK terror campaign to instable neighbouring states. It is against this backdrop that DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB see the coup attempt as having been committed by “a sect-like parallel state, which has infiltrated nearly the entire state apparatus through illegitimate networks and unlawful means” – i.e. the Gülenists.

Implied in this argument is always the suspicion that Germany is either too soft on Gülenists or that it even actively endorses the movement. In fact, a Turkish tabloid recently claimed that the Gülen organization was “Germany’s long arm”.(( https://twitter.com/ercankarakoyun?lang=de ))

Bridging old divides between DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB

Yet it is not only the statement itself that is of interest but also the entente of the three organisations responsible for its drafting. DİTİB, IGMG, and ATİB joining hands represents the convergence of previously disparate groups under the shared commitment to a strong Turkey led by an increasingly authoritarian President.

DİTİB, the subsidiary of the Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and thus an indirect organ of the Turkish statem has always pursued a line broadly sympathetic to current Turkish governments. Recently it has come under increasingly tight control of the AKP administration.

Islamists and nationalists

IGMG – in its full name “Islamic Community Millî Görüş” – is an offshoot of Necmettin Erbakan’s Islamist movement. As such, it did not use to be on good terms with DİTİB, as long as the old Kemalist elites were in charge of the organisation. This changed after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s arrival in power: Erdoğan’s own AK Party is a spin-off of Erbakan’s movement.

Finally, ATİB – the “Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe” – represents a stridently nationalistic version of Turkish Islam. Whilst some of the Union’s funding is derived from the Turkish state and Diyanet, it also has long-standing ties with hardline Turkish nationalism as incarnated by the “Grey Wolves.”

The rise of “Islamokemalism”

As such, ATİB’s co-signing of the press release with DİTİB and IGMG mirrors the rallying of Turkey’s far-right MHP party to Erdoğan’s persona and his authoritarian leadership style. In this respect, the agenda of the three associations is not as much Islamic as it is concerned with projecting a strikingly nationalistic picture of Turkish greatness.

Şahin Alpay, one of Turkey’s leading intellectuals arrested since the coup attempt, has referred to this marriage of authoritarian nationalism with Islamist references as “Islamokemalism”.(( http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2016-10/sahin-alpay-journalist-gefaengnis-silivri-tuerkei-putsch )) This term perhaps better than any other captures current developments in Turkey.

Iman And Halima Aden Get Real About Islam, Hijabs And Somali Pride

Halima Aden, a Somali-American has taken the fashion world by storm, rocking a hijab while walking the runway at the most recent New York Fashion Week. The 19-year old made headlines last year when she wore hijab and traditional clothes during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

She along with Supermodel Iman are speaking out about what it means to take pride in being Muslim women from Somalia, and its inspiring.

 

Iman shared her own experience as a black Muslim woman who chooses not to wear a hijab, adding: “I’ve heard all types of critiques—as a Somali girl, as a model, as a mom, as a Muslim who does not wear a hijab, marrying a white man, my late husband David Bowie. But you know, I live my truth.”

Nationwide Anti-Mosque Activity by ACLU

In the wake of the 2015 attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, anti-Muslim sentiment has spiked. Although these sentiments manifest themselves in many ways, attacks on mosques directly take aim at religious freedom. Existing and proposed mosque sites across the country have been targeted for vandalism and other criminal acts, and there have been efforts to block or deny necessary zoning permits for the construction and expansion of other facilities.

While mosque opponents frequently claim their objections are based on practical considerations such as traffic, parking, and noise levels, those asserted concerns are often pretexts masking anti-Muslim sentiment. Government officials in some areas of the country have yielded to this religious bigotry, treating mosques and Islamic centers differently than other proposed houses of worship and/or denying zoning permits without the compelling interest that is required by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (a federal civil rights law that affords heightened legal protection to the use of property for religious purposes). Even where local governments strongly support religious freedom, private citizens nevertheless often seek to intimidate Muslims into forgoing the exercise of this freedom.

Hear Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ Joyous New Song ‘See What Love Did to Me’

Yusuf / Cat Stevens will release a new album in the fall, his fourth since returning to the folk-pop style of his classic Sixties and Seventies work. The Laughing Apple bridges the artist’s present and past, combining newly written songs with covers of tracks from his early repertoire. Hear “See What Love Did to Me” – one of the brand-new selections – here.

The song’s lyric video features animations of Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ own drawings, made especially for the album. The artist himself turns up for a cameo near the end of the clip, as the song takes a religious turn: “And now I see what God did for me.”

 “‘See What Love Did to Me’ is a a song which extolls the virtue of Love and its destructive properties,” Yusuf / Cat Stevens tells Rolling Stonein a statement. “Based on a poem written by Yunus Emre, a Thirteenth Century Turkish poet. I fell upon the guitar riff back in 2006, while recording An Other Cup. It took eight years to find the right words and sentiments to marry with the joyous tune. It has musical ripples of Africa as well as India flowing through.”

Canada town votes against having a Muslim cemetery

The Canadian town of Saint-Apollinaire; has voted to oppose a zoning change that would allow a Muslim cemetery to be built.  The town’s decision to block the cemetery has led to an outcry amongst Muslims and civil-rights advocates across the country.

“We never thought people could oppose the installation of a cemetery,” the centre’s president Mohamed Labidi told Radio-Canada. “What are they afraid of?”  He went on say that this referendum may lead to human rights violation.

The cemetery was proposed by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, which was the site of a shooting that killed six people and injured 19 in January.

The mayor of the town supported the cemetery and has said he fears his town’s reputation has been hurt.

Muhammad Ali’s Muslim Faith Is Being Scrubbed From His Legacy

Muhammad Ali is remembered as a boxing legend, an Olympian, a civil rights warrior, a humanitarian, and a trailblazer for Parkinson’s disease awareness.

But one central part of his identity is missing from the official Ali Instagram and Twitter feeds: the proud, unapologetic Muslim.

Islam is conspicuously absent from the Ali brand, which is owned and managed by a New York–based licensing company ABG.

Sherman Jackson, a Muslim professor at the University of Southern California who’s written extensively about Islam and black America, said Ali’s religion is an inconvenient fact for companies looking to profit by putting his image on T-shirts, hats, and posters. Jackson, who delivered a eulogy at Ali’s funeral in Kentucky, said the duty now falls to American Muslims to ensure that a central part of his legacy isn’t lost to revisionism and commercialization.

“It’s up to Muslims to really understand his legacy, to really preserve it, and to put it where it ought to be in terms of the pantheon,” Jackson said.

Ali’s family has emphasized six core principles as key to his legacy: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. In public aspects of the Ali legacy, all those values are reflected except spirituality.

Kalkaska Village leader stands by Muslim killings call

Kalkaska Village President Jeff Sieting said Monday that he doesn’t owe anyone an apology over his Facebook posts, which denounce Islam and call for the killing of “every last Muslim.”

The posts were discovered by area native Cindy Anderson, who along with others unsuccessfully sought an apology last month. They’re now looking to remove Sieting from office.

One post Sieting shared said Muslims are destructive and “there is simply no place for them in our world.”  Sieting contends that his speech is protected by the First Amendment.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for state and national leaders to repudiate what Sieting posted.

“Sieting’s unabashed bigotry sounds eerily familiar to those who have stirred people to commit genocide against religious and ethnic minorities in other parts of the world,” said Dawud Walid, CAIR-MI executive director.

Islamophobes are attacking me because I’m their worst nightmare

Linda Sarsour is an activist and a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington.  She has received many threats and condemnation for her use of the word jihad in a speech delivered to a Muslim audience. 

Op Ed, by Linda Sarsour: “This week, conservative media outlets took a speech I gave to the largest gathering of Muslims in America out of context and alleged that I had called for a violent ‘jihad’ against the president. I did not.”

Sarsour goes on to state: “Sadly, this is not a new experience for me. Since the Women’s March on Washington, which I had the privilege of co-chairing with inspirational women from across the country, my family and I have received countless threats of physical violence. These ugly threats come from people who also spout anti-Muslim, xenophobic and white-supremacist beliefs. Their sole agenda is to silence and discredit me because I am an effective leader for progress, a Palestinian American and Brooklyn-born Muslim woman. In short, I am their worst nightmare.”

 

Hassen Chalghoumi: controversial imam and Muslim march organizer

Hassen Choulghami is the self-proclaimed former imam of Drancy, a banlieue north of Paris. Born in Tunis, he lived in Lahore for several years where he attended a madrasa. There have been conflicting reports as to how he spent his time in Pakistan; while several sources state that he attended a fundamentalist madrasa and was a member of the Tabligh movement, he has subsequently denied all accusations of religious zealotry.

Chalghoumi arrived in France in 1996 and was naturalized in 2000. In the mid-2000s he reportedly rejoined the Tabligh movement and was monitored by French security services. He once again vehemently denied any association with the movement and worked to transform his public image.

Today, Chalghoumi is known for encouraging inter-religious dialogue, notably between Muslims and Jews, and describes himself as a representative of a “moderate and republican Islam.” He gained attention in 2009 when he organized the “Conference for the Imams of France” with the objective of creating fatwas, notably to encourage peace between Muslims and Jews. Although the conference was largely a failure, the initiative made him a well known public figure and he gained favor with the Sarkozy and Hollande administrations.

He has also become close with France’s Jewish community and has made numerous trips to Israel. His relationship with the Jewish community is viewed as promising to certain Muslims, who see the Jewish community as an example of a successful minority religion. However, many argue that he has yet to be seen as a truly representative figure for French Muslims.