The mosque at the top of the world

North America’s most northern minaret opens (after an epic 2,800-mile
journey)

The most northern mosque in North America officially opened yesterday in
Inuvik, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, where there is a growing
Muslim population.

The opening marks the end of an arduous journey that saw the building
travel over rivers – atop barges – and bumpy, narrow roads to arrive
at its destination.

After being assembled in the city of Winnipeg, the mosque travelled some
4,500km (2,800 miles) and has been nicknamed ‘the little mosque of tundra’.

The most northern mosque in North America officially opened on Wednesday
in Inuvik, in the Canadian Northern Territories

The most northern mosque in North America officially opened on Wednesday
in Inuvik, in the Canadian Northern Territories

The mosque, nicknamed ‘the little mosque of tundra’, was build in
Winnipeg and travelled 2,800 miles to Inuvik

The mosque, nicknamed ‘the little mosque of tundra’, was build in
Winnipeg and travelled 2,800 miles to Inuvik

The new 1,554-sq-ft (473-sq-m) building is a step up from the
one-bedroom trailer Muslims in the town have used for prayer services
over the past 10 years

The new 1,554-sq-ft (473-sq-m) building is a step up from the
one-bedroom trailer Muslims in the town have used for prayer services
over the past 10 years

The mosque, which doubles as a community centre, is believed to be the
second most-northerly in the world, next to one in Siberia.

‘It’s a very personal achievement for all of us because we were in a
small building… and now we have this one,’ Ahmed al-Khalaf, who helped
organise fundraising efforts for the mosque, said

‘It’s a very personal achievement for all of us because we were in a
small building… and now we have this one,’ Ahmed al-Khalaf, who helped
organize

fundraising efforts for the mosque, said

At one point during the mosque’s journey to the small town in the
Arctic Circle, the building almost tipped over but was saved by a road
construction crew

Inuvik, a town of 3,300 people north of the Arctic Circle, has some 80
Muslim residents who until recently have met for prayers and religious
education inside a small trailer.

The new 1,554-sq-ft (473-sq-m) building is a step up from the
one-bedroom trailer Muslims in the town have used for prayer services
over the past 10 years.

‘It’s a very personal achievement for all of us because we were in a
small building, the old one, and now we have this one,’ Ahmed al-Khalaf,
who helped organise fundraising efforts for the mosque, said.

‘For the whole town of Inuvik, it’s another new building in town, and
everybody’s welcome here.’

Hussain Guisti, a member of a Winnipeg-based Muslim charity called The
Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, decided last year he would help design and
build a mosque for the northern community.

The group originally wanted the mosque to be built in Inuvik but soon
realized having a prefabricated building constructed in Winnipeg would
be much less expensive, even with the lengthy shipment factored in.

Inuvik Mayor Denny Rodgers said there is no sign of the type of
animosity encountered by new mosques in some parts of the United States.

‘We’re very much a multicultural town up here,’ he said. ‘Canada itself
is a melting pot, and Inuvik, when you look at all the different
cultures that are represented here, is just like that.’

Inuvik, a town of 3,300 people north of the Arctic Circle, has some 80
Muslim residents who until recently have met for prayers and religious
education inside a small trailer

Inuvik, a town of 3,300 people north of the Arctic Circle, has some 80
Muslim residents who until recently have met for prayers and religious
education inside a small trailer

There were only a handful of Muslims in the town 20 years ago, according
to Guisti. Like many northern communities, Inuvik has a near-constant
supply of job opportunities that has attracted people from all backgrounds.

They are mainly Sunni Muslims from Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan who were
drawn to northern Canada because of those job opportunities. More are
expected to make the trip now that there is a mosque in the Northern
Territories.

Panorama finds anti-Semitic texts in schools

22 November 2010

The BBC’s Panorama programme has found evidence that Muslim schoolchildren in England are being taught anti-Semitic and homophobic material from a Saudi textbook.

The syllabus used at a network of more than 40 weekend schools details how the hands and feet are chopped off as punishment for thieves and teaches that the penalty for gay sex is execution.

500 French Cemeteries Vandalized in France in Last Nine Months

November 2, 2010

Minister of the Interior of France, Brice Hortefeux, has announced that between the 1st of January and September 30th, 2010, almost 500 cemeteries have been vandalized across France. Hortefeux explained that 485 cemeteries and religious sites were vandalized, 410 of which were Christian sites, 40 of which were Muslim (of which 34 were mosques or prayer rooms and 6 were cemeteries) and 35 of which were Jewish.

The imam of Tarragona Condemned for Sexual Harassment

November 2, 2010

The imam of Cunit (Tarragona) has been condemned to one year imprisonment for harassing Fatima G, an intercultural mediator that works for the local government. During the trial it was discovered that the reasons that moved the threats were more economic than religious. According to police sources, in the mosque had been a business related with the regularization of papers to immigrants from Morocco. This business waned with the intervention of the intercultural mediator, who performed the same service for free from the city council.

Juan Williams, Islamophobia, and Journalistic Fairness

Jamil Khader
October 26, 2010

Should Juan Williams have been forced to resign after his unfortunate remarks about “Muslim garb”? Although I believe that something should have been done, I’m not sure firing him was the right answer. NPR could have taken him at his own word, demanding that he lives up to his “I’m not a bigot, but . . . ” remark… [continue reading]

Juan Williams, Islamophobia, and Journalistic Fairness

By Jamil Khader
Stetson University, Florida

Should Juan Williams have been forced to resign after his unfortunate remarks about “Muslim garb”? Although I believe that something should have been done, I’m not sure firing him was the right answer. NPR could have taken him at his own word, demanding that he lives up to his “I’m not a bigot, but . . . ” remark. Instead of turning this into an opportunity to confront the mostly irrational fears many Americans have about Islam and Muslims, NPR perhaps inadvertently fueled that fear even more. While he could have been easily turned into an ally in the fight against prejudice in all its forms, Williams is now instead basking with a 2 million dollar contract with Fox news.

First of all, we have to acknowledge the existence of this visceral fear that many Americans have about Islam and Muslims after 9/11, while at
the same time insist that public discourse must remain rational and devoid of absurd statement like the ones Mr. Williams has made. Mr. Williams is entitled to his own emotional visceral response, but he could have found a more productive way of articulating that fear. As a Muslim myself, I’m not really sure what Williams means by “Muslim garb” especially, since none of the 9/11 terrorists was wearing anything remotely close to the stereotypical Islamic garb Mr. Williams had in mind. In fact, from what I clearly remember of the security feed, these terrorists looked completely western. Nothing about their clothes was Islamic. Moreover, I have not come across any criminologist or sociologist who has made a link between clothing and criminal behavior, not even among Goth teens and tattooed bikers. Mr. Williams’ bias against Arabs and Muslims is clearly irrational, making it, in the words of the conservative republican commentator, Andrew Sullivan, “anti-religious bigotry in its purest, clearest form.”

By pandering to O’Reilly, Mr. Williams has unfortunately contributed to the demonization of all Muslims, those who are for him total strangers—they do not look like us and, therefore, they terrify us just by their looks. What makes this dangerous and irresponsible on his part is that Muslims are the most maligned ethnic/religious groups in the US today, and that his comments, or most of the bigoted comments that are continuously streamed in the media and public culture, could not have been made about any other ethnic or religious group in the country. It would be instructive to examine the reaction of those who came to Williams’ defense with and against the firestorm of condemnation and protest following the bigoted comments recently made by other journalists such as Helen Thomas, Rick Sanchez, and Octavia Nasr. As salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald states, “If we’re going to fire or otherwise punish people for expressing prohibited ideas against various groups, it’s long overdue that those standards be applied equally to anti-Muslim animus, now easily one of the most — if not the single most — pervasive, tolerated and dangerous forms of blatant bigotry in America.” It is not really difficult to understand the reason why Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Pam Geller, Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, among others, stayed silent when Thomas, Sanchez, and Nasr, but not Williams, were forced to resign. Again, our culture today condones racist and insensitive comments about Muslims, but not about other groups. Muslims, it seems, have not been granted entry into the gates of PC culture.

Unlike other recent cases of conspicuous journalistic bigotry, Williams’ remarks subtly condoned and legitimized prejudice against Muslims. What he seems to say to O’Reilly, in fact, is that the latter is certainly justified in his view of all Muslims as potential terrorists. Having publicly expressed such bigotry, Williams has lost all the credibility, fairness and objectivity that are the foundations of his profession (but obviously in some news outlets like Fox news this does not matter). Should he have been forced to resign over one comment? He clearly violated his employer’s ethical code, but he should have been at least given a chance to explain himself. More importantly, NPR like all other power institutions in the country cannot just demand from American citizens to be sensitive to diversity without providing them with the necessary training and the tools to deal with such touchy topics with the sensitivity and cross-cultural competence needed. Such an educational effort requires the continuous planning, cooperation and investment of everyone not through one diversity training session or day, but throughout the year. As one educator said, “Diversity is everybody’s everyday work.”

Beginning of Ramadan

The celebration of Ramadan during the month of August provokes alarm about the safety of the Muslim agricultural workers. Muslim workers ask for flexible working hours, while the employers demand from the workers a signed statement exempting the employer of any responsibility in case of work accidents derived from the lack of food and water during the hot summer days.

Further sources:

Diario de Navarra, August 12, 2010
http://www.diariodenoticias.com/2010/08/12/sociedad/navarra/el-ramadan-llama-al-ayuno-en-navarra-a-casi-15000-musulmanes

El Periódico de Cataluña, August 12, 2010
http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/sociedad/20100812/escenas-del-ramadan/431949.shtml

Lerida mosque re-opens its doors

20 days after being forced to close its doors on account of the number of assistants exceeding the permitted. The mosque holds a capacity for 240 persons but the assistance to the prayers exceeded some times the 1000. The towns administration had already offered for an alternative location in a industrial zone but the community claims the problem would not be solved as the building would only be able to hold 550 people. The Muslim community plans to build a new mosque on rural grounds counting on the city hall to permit the construction of the building, expected to hold over 2000 people.