British foreign office: Muslim Brotherhood is “fundamentally non-violent” and contributes to peace

On Monday, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a report which argued that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are the “best ‘firewall'” against violence in democratic transitions. This was their conclusion because, when individuals and groups are excluded from the political process and subject to repression, they may resort to violence.

This appears to reverse the government’s stance, as defined by the 2014 review of the Muslim Brotherhood by UK then-ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Jenkins. The previous assessment saw the Muslim Brotherhood as a gateway to a violent form of radicalisation.

The new assessment sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a necessary policy partner in the Middle East.

Some politicians have expressed concern over the new report, including the chair of the foreign affairs committee, Crispin Blunt.

Campaign Launches to Get More Muslims Active in Politics

BOSTON — A nationwide campaign to get more Muslim Americans involved in local politics is being launched by a Massachusetts nonprofit.

Jetpac Inc. is focused on training Muslim Americans how to leverage social media, data analysis and other critical political tools to build winning campaigns for city council, school committee and other down ballot races.

The goal is to build stronger, more sophisticated grassroots political organizations with an eye toward the 2018 elections, according to Shaun Kennedy, Jetpac Inc.’s executive director.

“The community as a whole is about 50 years behind in terms of organizing,” said Kennedy, who is not Muslim. “The younger generation is trying to step up. The older generation just tried to fly under the radar. They didn’t want to be part of the political conversation. Unfortunately they are now, whether they like it or not.”

“Any Muslim candidate doesn’t need to draw attention to the fact that they’re Muslim. Someone else is going to do that for them,” he said. “At the end of the day, they are running as Americans. They’re not Muslim American candidates but American candidates who just so happen to be Muslim.”

Lawyer: NYC hopes surveillance deal alters image of police

NEW YORK — A New York City lawyer said Wednesday that the city hoped to improve the image of its police department when it reached a deal with civil rights advocates to allow a civilian to serve on a committee of high-ranking police officials as they discuss investigations relating to surveillance of political activities.

City attorney Peter Farrell made the comment as he urged a federal judge in Manhattan to approve a deal settling lawsuits contending that the police department had violated constitutional rights in its infiltration and surveillance of Muslim communities after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As part of the deal, an attorney chosen by the city’s mayor and police commissioner would serve for five years on a committee along with a dozen New York Police Department officials to discuss the initiation, continuation and closing of investigations pertaining to political activities.

The deal grew in part from a 2013 lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court by mosques, a charity and community leaders alleging that the department was discriminating against Muslims.

Several years ago, The Associated Press revealed that New York City police spied on Muslims, infiltrated student groups and sent informants to mosques.

First Muslim lawmaker appointed to House Intelligence Committee

Lauren French for POLITICO: “Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a closed-door meeting Tuesday she would name the first Muslim lawmaker to the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Carson would be the first Muslim to serve on the committee and was the second Muslim to be elected to Congress. He already serves on the Armed Services Committee and worked for the Department of Homeland Security’s Fusion Center — the clearinghouse established by the federal government to streamline data sharing between the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice and the military.
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The Muslim Taxi Driver

February 28, 2014

 

If you want to kill legislation that protects the right of Christians to withhold business services from same-sex couples, here’s one way to do it: Don’t warn people about Christians. Warn them about Muslims.

That strategy was on display in the campaign against Arizona Senate Bill 1062, which would have shielded businesses from discrimination suits if they acted on religious beliefs. Everyone understood that the bill would have allowed conservative Christians to refuse services for a gay wedding. But in Arizona, that wasn’t a strong enough argument against it. So opponents went for the Muslim angle.

Many Americans who talk about religious freedom are really just interested in the rights of conservative Christians. They’re not so keen on Muslims. In fact, they worry about Muslims imposing their beliefs on Christians. Two days ago, in praise of the Arizona bill, Rush Limbaugh complained, “Religious beliefs can’t be used to stop anything the left wants to impose—unless they’re Muslim religious beliefs, and then we have to honor those. But any other religious beliefs are not permitted.”

The first reference to Muslims in the Arizona fight, as far as I can tell, came from the Anti-Defamation League in a letter to state senators and in testimony before a state Senate committee on Jan. 16. If the bill were to pass, the ADL’s assistant regional director told the committee, “A Muslim-owned cab company might refuse to drive passengers to a Hindu temple.”

This week, as lawmakers voted on the bill and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer weighed whether to sign it, the chorus grew. On Feb. 20, the editorial board of the Arizona Republic warned Brewer, “The proposed law is so poorly crafted it could allow a Muslim taxi driver to refuse service to a woman traveling alone.” On Feb. 21, John Aravosis, the editor of Americablog and a political consultant, brought up theMuslim cab driver and other scenarios raised by the ADL. On Feb. 22, Box Turtle Bulletin, a gay rights blog, published a post titled “Did the Arizona Legislature Just Legalize Sharia Law?

On Feb. 24, USA Today columnist Owen Ullman asked, “if religious beliefs are a justification for refusing gay couples, shouldn’t Arizona extend the principle to all religious beliefs? Devout Muslims should have the right to refuse service to women who are not covered in burqas.” On Feb. 25, fellow columnist Kirsten Powers, a former communications consultantadded:

I can’t prove that all this Muslim talk influenced Brewer’s decision to veto the billlast night. But it definitely caused trouble. During the state Senate debate on Feb. 20, the bill’s sponsor struggled with the Muslim taxi driver question. (Skip to minute 1:22 of the video.) On Feb. 25 the state’s Capitol Media Services raised the taxi driver scenario in an analysis of the bill’s legal ramifications. On Feb. 26, CBS News asked the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which helped craft the bill, whether it would “protect a Muslim wedding photographer who does not want to photograph a Jewish wedding.” She said it would.

Slate.com: http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/02/27/arizona_s_antigay_bill_did_warnings_about_muslim_religious_freedom_help.html

USA Today.com: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/24/voices-column-on-arizona-anti-gay-bill/5775081/

Mars One encourages Muslims to join red planet mission despite ‘Fatwa’

February 21, 2014

 

A fatwa issued by Gulf imams has ruled it is un-Islamic to promote or be involved in a one-way trip to the Red Planet. According to reports in the Khaleej Times, a fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE prohibits Muslims from being involved in such a journey as it would pose “a real risk to life” and is tantamount to suicide.

The Mars One mission aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet. Crews of four will depart every two years from 2024 following an initial unmanned mission in 2018. The mission would use a worldwide reality television show to raise the estimated $6bn required to send the team to Mars and give them a chance of survival. The company behind the Mars One mission has said that Muslims should sign up for a trip to the red planet, following reports of a Fatwa against it being issued.

“Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Koran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful,” the committee, chaired by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said.

Volunteers were invited to apply for a ticket to Mars last year at a price of less than £30. The Mars One website states: “In a 1000 years, everyone on Earth will still remember who the first humans on Mars were. More than 200,000 men and women from around the world responded to the first call for astronauts.”

However, Mars One, a non-profit organisation that proposes to send four people to the red planet in 2022, has responded to the reports stating that the “Muslim world has for centuries had a rich tradition of exploration”. In a statement to the Telegraph, Mars One claimed the Koran “encourages Muslims to go out and see the signs of God’s creation in the ‘heavens and the earth’. The most influential example of this was the Moroccan Muslim traveller, Ibn Battuta, who from 1325 to 1355 travelled 73,000 miles, visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries,” Mars One stated. “The mission to Mars is a road that has never been walked before, even though the first settlers will be walking in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Neil Armstrong, or any of the other great explorers in history.”

 

The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/gulf-imams-issue-fatwa-warning-muslims-not-to-live-on-mars-as-it-would-pose-a-real-risk-to-life-9141631.html 

The Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/unitedarabemirates/10649939/Muslims-warned-in-Fatwa-not-to-live-on-Mars.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/unitedarabemirates/10654014/Mars-One-encourages-Muslims-to-join-red-planet-mission-despite-Fatwa.html

Arabs ready to pay for the first Mosque in Milan

January 29, 2014

 

Italian and foreign lenders are ready to put the money needed to build a new Mosque in Milan; this new plan is instead of the use of the Palasharp building. The City continues to conceal these plans, at least until there is something concrete.

A slow negotiation is taking place between the deputy mayor Ada Lucia De Cesaris, some Italian and foreign entrepreneurs, and of course representatives of Muslim communities. While most continue to be tight-lipped about the new place of worship, a rough draft for a new place of worship to be built on the former Palasharp was officially presented.

De Cesaris, confirms that the committee is working on various ideas, but opposes a clear selection by stating “no comment.” His office has denied that there has been any selection in anticipation of meetings with the leaders of Islamic organizations in Milan. Davide Picarddo, a spokesman for CAIM (il Coordinamento delle associazioni islamiche di Milano), agrees: “I can only say that there is a dialogue going on with this administration, and that there is full awareness, even on their part, that the new mosque can no longer be postponed.”

Picarddo admits that there is a project already in discussion: “It is obvious that CAIM has advanced a project, but for now we do not want to make it public due to the high possibility of many changes.”

Regarding the funds needed to construct the building , Picarddo’s words are very clear: “the Italian taxpayer will not spend a dime. We have asked Italian entrepreneurs and foreign foundations in the Persian Gulf, to provide the necessary funding. Milan is an international city, we have businessmen who come to visit from Arab countries. And it is here that there is widespread interest in a place worthy of prayer. Garages, basements and sheds, should not be a long-term plan.”

 

La Repubblica: http://milano.repubblica.it/cronaca/2014/01/29/news/islam_gli_arabi_pronti_a_pagare_per_la_prima_moschea_a_milano-77164903/

Twelfth Ecumenical Day of the Christian-Islamic dialogue

October 24, 2013

 

On the occasion of the XII Ecumenical Day of the Christian-Islamic dialogue, celebrated throughout Italy on October 27, the national organizing committee wrote an appeal to all of Italy. The committee consists of a series of pacifist and nonviolent associations, which are representative of the Christian and Muslim world. The appeal this year is entitled: “Religious freedom, the basis of civil society. One God, one humanity, human rights for all and all.”

To define this issue, the Committee started with a reflection on the “endless war,” which started on 11 September 2001 and  is still in progress. The text of the stresses that “the war, with the related issue of unclean production of armaments, is the dramatic emergency of our time, as seen by the recent events in Syria. Religions still provide cultural – religious motivations in an event, especially war, which can not be defined as solely political and economic.”

For the promoters of the Day there is no doubt that peace is a valuable asset and must be safeguarded at all costs. Many who celebrate the day participated in a day of prayer and fasting for peace, which was supported on September 7 by Pope Francis.

Also urgent is the issue of religious freedom on which little attention is given, and despite the provisions of our Constitution it is still largely unimplemented. “Freedom of religion” says the appeal “is the subject of conflict in many regions of our country, especially in the north, and not just for Muslims who are systematically denied permission to erect their own places of worship. Missing is a law implementing the constitutional rules.

Hence the need to reflect on these urgent issues. The hope is that this appeal can be widely distributed so that October 27, 2013 may continue, as has already happened in the last eleven years, a positive encounter between Christians and Muslims but also with other religions and with civil society more generally.

targatocn.it: http://www.targatocn.it/2013/10/24/leggi-notizia/articolo/dodicesima-giornata-ecumenica-del-dialogo-cristiano-islamico.html#.UmvMeBa50jE

Channel 4 chief rejects criticism over call to prayer Ramadan broadcast

Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham has rejected criticism that the broadcaster’s decision to air the Muslim call to prayer at 3am was “patronising”. Abraham told MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday that the daily broadcast fit “absolutely” with its public service remit and that it has attracted 181,000 viewers – almost triple its usual audience at 3am. Conservative MP Angie Bray questioned whether Channel 4 was “patronising” Muslims by airing the ritual at 3am, when most of the nation is asleep. Abraham countered that the timeslot is “just a practicality” of the three-minute call to prayer.

 

North Carolina GOP Is Using An Anti-Sharia Bill To Sneak Through Extreme Abortion Restrictions

The North Carolina legislature is advancing a package of stringent abortion restrictions that appeared in the Senate this week without any public notice. The anti-abortion measures popped up on Tuesday night, tacked onto a controversial measure to ban Sharia law, and caught women’s health advocates completely off-guard.

House Bill 695, which would prohibit the recognition of Sharia law in family courts — an increasingly popular conservative tactic that essentially serves to demonize the Islamic faith — was slated for consideration in a Senate committee on Tuesday. As soon as that committee convened, it quickly approved several abortion-related amendments to the legislation. HB 695 now combines several different anti-abortion measures that were in different stages in the legislature into one omnibus measure.

The new amendments would prevent insurance plans on Obamacare’s health marketplaces from covering abortion services, ban “sex-selective” abortions, impose unnecessary restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill to women, and require the state’s abortion clinics to adhere to complicated new regulations that would likely force most of them to close. A similar package of abortion restrictions has inspired weeks of protest in Texas, where thousands of reproductive rights activists have been rallying at the state capitol.