Obama ignores attacks on his Muslim ties

CAIRO – A vicious campaign to scare Americans of White House hopeful Sen. Barak Obama by playing on his connections to the Muslim world might not be all bad news. “He understands that there are scurrilous attack e-mails going on underground that distort his religious affiliation and worse, but his judgment is that he trusts the American people more than that,” David Axelrod, a top Obama strategist, told the Washington Post on Nov. 29. “He genuinely believes…that people want to have a president that the world looks at and says, _I believe this guy has an understanding of us and how we fit together on the planet.'”

US Muslim Students Clear Stereotypes

CAIRO – A leading US Muslim advocacy group is championing a leadership training seminar for fighting stereotypes and empowering American Muslims to define themselves in US society, reported the Daily Southtown on Thursday, September 27. “We have to fix that, by making people aware of who we are,” said student Nadia Ahmed. Ahmed took part in the leadership training seminar organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) at Universal School in Bridgeview to teach American Muslims how to clear stereotypes. What non-Muslims might think when they see hijab-clad women at the shopping mall, asked Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of CAIR’s Chicago office. “Terrorists, crazy, oppressed,” the students shouted.

Sweden: EU Muslims scoff at Qaeda Sweden bounty

CAIRO – European Muslim leaders have scoffed at a bounty offered by Al-Qaeda in Iraq on the heads of a Swedish cartoonist and a reporter for publishing a cartoon lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). “We don’t think like this at all. It is criminal to call to kill somebody,” Helena Benouda, chairwoman of the umbrella Muslim Council of Sweden, said in statements. “It is really unnecessary and it’s ugly, especially in the moment of Ramadan,” she added, referring to the Muslim holy fasting month.

Citizenship Classes in UK mosques

A pilot program funded by the British gov’t is introducing citizenship classes at mosques in the town of Bradford. CAIRO – A pilot program funded by the British government is introducing citizenship classes at mosques in the racially and religiously tense town of Bradford to educate Muslim teens about basic duties and shield them against extremism, despite objections from some to singling out Muslims. “The impact this teaching could have is quite considerable,” Jane Houghton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, told The New York Times on Tuesday, August 21.

UK Remembers Islamic Heritage

CAIRO – To prove that the European country has a century-old Islamic heritage, British Muslims are championing a drive to renovate Britain’s first and oldest mosque, finding help from the local church. “Repairing…(the) mosque with British money, either from the government or the Muslim community, would act as a powerful symbol of British Islam,” Mohammad Akbar Ali, chairman of the Abdullah Quilliam Society, told The Independent on Thursday, August 2. “It is a religious heritage that all British Muslims can be proud of.” Founded by British revert William Quilliam (later Abdullah), the mosque was officially opened on Christmas Day in 1889 on Number 8 Brougham Terrace in Liverpool. “Quilliam is proof that Britain has its own Islamic heritage,” said Ali. Years of neglect have left its toll on the Muslim place of worship.

Envied French Muslim Minister

CAIRO – French Justice Minister Rachida Dati is facing a smear campaign by right-wing media and “jealous” politicians, who cannot swallow a Muslim woman of poor ethnic background holding such a prestigious post, Britain’s Times reported on Tuesday, July 17. “Rachida Dati is paying for being an outsider, because she is young, a woman and of North African origin,” said Dominique Sopo, the Socialist President of the SOS Racisme organization. He said Dati, as an “atypical” minister, has sparked “resentment” among the “republican aristocracy.” Dati, 41, has become in no time one of the most popular politicians in France with six books on her life and battle against adversity being rushed into print.

US Officials Engage Muslim Youth

CAIRO – Officials from the Homeland Security, State and Justice departments have been engaged in “unprecedented” meetings withtwo dozen young Muslims on several issues, topped by reports about the radicalization of Muslim American youth. “For me, this conference is about trying to find out what it means to be an American Muslim in terms of political and civic engagement,” Omar Sarwar, the Columbia University graduate who ditched a career in banking to go back to school and study politics and religion, told The Washington Post on Sunday, July 15. Organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the National Muslim American Youth Summit was held over the weekend in Capitol Hill.

Turks Snub German Integration Summit

CAIRO – An integration summit called by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to bring ethnic minorities into mainstream society was overshadowed by a boycott of Turks, the country’s largest minority, in protest at the recently approved integration law that they say discriminates against Muslims, reported Deutsche Welle on Friday, July 13. “The Turkish community is not taken seriously,” said Kenan Kolat, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD). Kolat said the Turks boycotted the one-day summit on Thursday, July 12, in protest at amendments to the immigration act approved by parliament earlier this week.

Muslims Fault Blair’s Imam Strategy

CAIRO – The British government is misguided if it thinks that imams whether homegrown or foreigners are to blame for extremism and that training them in UK university is the solution, Muslim experts and university imams told the Guardian on Tuesday, June 12. “The problem is not imams and their countries of origin,” said Ibrahim Mogra, an imam at De Montfort, Leicester and Loughborough universities. “The tiny proportion of extremists usually have nothing to do with imams,” he insisted. Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Glasgow, agreed. “People who are involved in extremism will not usually involve their imam,” she stressed. “Imams are not the solution to the problem of terrorism.”

Music of Arab composers goes to Europe concert halls

The works of 25 modern Arab composers are to be performed in major European concert halls for the first time, with London hosting a preview in June, organizers said on Wednesday. After London, the programme will go to festivals in European capitals, including Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, and then, from 2009, to the respective native countries of the composers. “All of these musicians deserve international exposure and recognition, and most are underappreciated in their own communities,” said the statement. The concert series has been named after Islamic philosopher and scholar Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870-950), who wrote a major treatise on music and taught in Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus.