Four Month Old Student Field Trip to a Mosque Causes Controversy—Wellesley Massachusetts

Students were taken to a mosque last spring, where five boys participated in a prayer service at the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Roxbury.

The superintendent says the trip was for part of a sixth grade social studies class called “Enduring Beliefs in the World Today.” The course includes lessons on different world religions.

A video, put together by the group Americans for Peace and Tolerance, recently emerged online of the trip. One of the female chaperons recorded video of the service, and she claims all the girls and female chaperons on the trip were asked to leave the prayer area and boys were then asked to join in the prayer. Many are questioning the timing of the release of the video.

“They just walked forward got in the line. No one told them to. No one asked them to. You know how little boys are,” said mosque member David Curran.

Boston area Muslim leader asks Muslim community to remain vigilant against radicalism

In light of this week’s arrest of Tarek Mehanna, an alleged terrorist with plans to attack Massachusetts malls and executive members of the federal government, a Boston-area Muslim leader has called on local Muslims to help “root out” radicals in their communities.

“As Muslims, we condemn the planning or committing of any acts of violence or terrorism,” Kaleem added. “We are particularly appalled by the prospect of random violence against our families, our friends and our neighbors in public areas.”

“If anybody senses imminent danger, they should alert the proper authorities,” said Kaleem, when asked if Muslims should call the cops on hate groups.

He added the Muslim community must show it’s more about civic pride and “pluralism.”

Massachussetts man arrested in terrorism case

A pharmacist living with his parents in the suburbs of Boston was arrested on Wednesday on federal terrorism charges. He was accused of conspiring to attack people at a shopping mall in the United States, and to attack two members of the executive branch of the federal government.

The man, Tarek Mehanna, 27, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The conspiracy occurred from 2001 to 2008, the acting United States attorney, Michael K. Loucks, said at a news conference in Boston Wednesday.

But prosecutors said Mr. Mehanna, born and raised in Massachusetts, was unsuccessful in acquiring weapons to carry out the attack, and was also repeatedly rejected by terrorist groups in his efforts to join them.

Canadian documentary on Islamic punk opens in theaters

Canadian documentary filmmaker Omar Majeed recently released his newest film, Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam. Taking its name from “Taqwa,” the Arabic word for “higher consciousness,” Taqwacore is a nascent music scene that both celebrates Islam while rebelling, in typical punk fashion, against the social and political constraints of the religion. “Drunk imams, punk ayatollahs and masochistic muftis” — all seek comfort in Taqwacore’s blend of anarchy and faith, even if those who belong admit to being part of a “minority of a minority of a minority.”

The film follows Michael Muhammad Knight, an American convert who wrote The Taqwacores (2003), a fictional account of Islamic punk rockers. Even though the novel had no basis in reality, it sparked a devoted following, inspiring many to create the world Knight imagined. One of the bands to take quickly to the movement were The Kominas (Punjabi for “bastards”), a Boston-based outfit fronted by Basim Usmani and Shahjehan Khan.

Majeed follows Knight, The Kominas and the Vancouver-based band Secret Trial Five as they tour the United States, singing songs such as “Shari’a Law in the U.S.A.”. The film also captures a performance for the Islamic Society of North America’s convention in Chicago. While a good number of Muslims walk out and security is eventually called, some hijab-clad women bop their heads along.

Allah, Amps and Anarchy: On the road with the first-ever Muslim punk-rock tour

By Evan Serpick In late august, a creaking green school bus with red camels stenciled on its side rolled up to the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. Seventeen exhausted, beer-reeking punks, with mohawks and dyed hair, walked up to the mosque looking for a place to rest. “I was surprised — they totally let us hang out there,” says Kourosh Poursalehi, 19, frontman for San Antonio’s Vote Hezbollah. “They even wanted CDs and stuff.” Vote Hezbollah (the band’s name is intended as a joke) is one of five Muslim punk bands that recently wrapped up a ten-date tour that took them from Boston to Chicago during August and September. The bands, which hail from Chicago, San Antonio, Boston and Washington, D.C., share left-of-center politics and an antipathy toward the president. And all have used punk as a means to express the anger, confusion and pride in being young and Muslim in post-9/11 America.

Muslim Network Expands To More Than 1 Million Homes

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A first-of-its-kind Muslim-American television network launched a year ago has gone from being a premium pay channel to a basic-cable offering on several cable and satellite systems, broadening its reach from 10,000 to more than 1 million U.S. homes. Bridges TV, featuring Muslim-American lifestyle and cultural programming, also has been approved by the Canadian Radio & Television Commission to start broadcasting in Canada. Founder and Chief Executive Muzzammil Hassan said the transition in markets including Detroit, Chicago, Boston and Washington means viewers while channel-surfing between Fox News Channel and CNN are coming across the English-language network and its coverage of issues like the Dubai ports controversy. “That completely changes and gives America a completely different and unique perspective that America has never had available before,” Hassan said. “That has been the biggest driving factor.” Bridges TV, with a staff of 25 to 30, produces a daily hourlong newscast at its studio in suburban Orchard Park. Broadcasts also include children’s educational programming, current affairs, cooking and travel shows, soccer and cricket matches, documentaries and sitcoms. As a premium channel for $14.99 per month, virtually all Bridges TV subscribers were Arabs and Muslims, Hassan said, giving the sense the network was preaching to the choir rather than advancing its goal of bridging understanding of American and Muslim cultures. The network “really fills a void,” said Adnan Mirza, a director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “There’s a clear disconnect between popular American media and the Muslim audience. … Americans are increasingly interested in better understanding Middle Eastern cultures, and Muslim Americans want to be better understood. Bridges TV creates a public platform for this dialogue.” The Buffalo office of the FBI has taken notice and will use the network for an “FBI Townhall Meeting” May 15, during which an FBI agent will field on-air questions and comments from Muslim and Arab-American viewers. Over the last several weeks, the network has been added to the basic cable packages of WOW! Cable, which has a presence in Chicago, Detroit and Columbus; Buckeye Cable in Ohio; and Shrewsbury Cable in Massachusetts. Verizon FiOS, a broadband service, and Globecast Satellite reach markets in Boston, Dallas, Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C. Bridges TV will soon launch on Rogers Cable in Canada. A charter sponsorship by Ford Motor Co. has offset the loss of premium subscription revenue, Hassan said. In its hometown market of Buffalo, Adelphia Communications will keep Bridges TV as a premium channel. A spokesman, Thomas Haywood, cited a low subscriber rate.

Tension Grows Over Mosque In Boston

BOSTON – It was to be the biggest mosque in the northeastern United States, a center of worship for Boston’s 70,000 Muslims and a milestone for America’s Muslim community.?Instead, construction of the $24.5 million center has been stalled by lawsuits and a deepening row between Jewish and Muslim leaders that reflects broader suspicions facing American Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Jewish leaders charge that former and current officials in the Islamic Society of Boston, which is building the 70,000-square-foot mosque, are linked to terrorist groups and have failed to distance themselves from radical Islam and anti-Jewish statements. The Islamic Society denies any connection to terrorism and considers itself victimized by a campaign to taint the mosque with accusations of ties to radical teachings. The society says it has repeatedly distanced itself from anti-Jewish statements by some of its leaders. Among Jewish concerns is whether a former Islamic Society trustee – outspoken Egyptian Sunni cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi – praised Hamas and Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department regards as terrorist organizations. “There is a great deal of anxiety,” said Larry Lowenthal, executive director of the American Jewish Committee’s chapter in Boston, whose Jewish population of 240,000 is the fifth- largest of U.S. cities. American Muslims are watching the case closely. “Unfortunately, I see the Boston case as indicative of a growing trend in anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown after 9/11,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest American Muslim civil rights group.