A new documentary trains a critical eye on the mosque in America. Unmosqued trains a critical eye on the future of the mosque in America. Based on research compiled by Dr. Ihsan Baghby at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Unmosqued, is a look into the dynamic and future of the American mosque.
More information on the film and the research that led to the creation of the film can be found here.
Yesterday morning at a local High School, four classes for a total of about 100 children attended the very first viewing of the Documentary film “Beyond Islam’s Doors,” directed by Fabrizio Fantini. Daniela Asquini of the video library of Emilia Romagna and Marisa Iannucci of the Islamic Center of Ravenna were also in attendance. The community has already supported intercultural and interreligious dialogue with a visiting exhibition held in the local museum last December in which Christianity, Judaism and Islam were explained in an educationally effective way for students.
The Documentary Film that was screened will be officially unveiled in Bologna in April 5 of next year. The film documents Islam in Romagna specifically in Ravenna and Bologna showing all the prejudices, opinions and experiences of the Muslim community.
The film follows an Islamic community. Also documented is the construction of the Mosque of Ravenna with all the strengths and weaknesses of the work. For example, women are fairly “marginalized” in the prayer area on a mezzanine far from the male community.
The film states that the Italian Constitution, on which you swear when you get citizenship, “is sacred.” Many of the respondents of the Islamic faith profess a faith in democracy and also belong to trade unions and associations for peace. What emerges is the idea that the principles of equality, coexistence, peace, democracy, are really sacred to believers and non- believers, and certainly represents an Islam that is compatible with the Italian population. The High school where the viewing took place is one of the top players in the cultural scene and attentive to integrate students from today with others from many countries around the world.
The documentary “I sought to find Maradona [the famed soccer player] but I found Allah,” by Lorenzo Cioffi and Ernesto Pagano, presents two Neapolitan youth who converted to Islam, Ciro and Francesco. The protagonists discuss the reasons for conversion and anecdotes related to their choice. The documentary also includes Augustine Gentile and Massimo Cozzolino, teacher of Islamic religion and head of the Mosque in Piazza Mercato in Naples, respectively. Gentile and Cozzolino also discuss the case of the two boys within the broader phenomenon of a “return” to Islam in the city. The documentary broadcast on Rai News2.
The Leyton Islamic Sharia Council, the institution which was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama documentary on sharia councils in Britain, has criticized the BBC for its undercover reporting and for editing the footage out of context.
The documentary features an undercover BBC reporter posing as a woman complaining of domestic abuse, and shows members of the Islamic Sharia Council staff urging her to go to the police only as a last resort. The documentary alleges that some women who turn to these sharia courts are not aware that their rulings on such matters as child custody disputes are not legally binding. The Islamic Sharia Council has challenged the impartiality of the BBC investigation, asserting that the Panorma crew had a “pre-determined agenda and stereotype of how shariah councils operate.”
For its part, the BBC has rejected accusations of impropriety, saying in a statement to the Guardian, “Panorama fully stands behind its investigations into the workings of some of Britain’s Sharia Councils.” The documentary, entitled: “Secrets of Britain’s Sharia Councils” has garnered the attention of many British politicians and was heavily referenced in a recent parliamentary debate on the role of sharia courts in the United Kingdom.
Last week, the German television station “ZDF” aired the first of its five-part documentary on the history of religious wars with a special focus on Islam, entitled “Der Heilige Krieg” (Holy War). Motivated by the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, award-winning German journalist Guido Knopp, one of the key heads of the ZDF’s Contemporary History Department and well-known for his documentaries on the Third Reich, has explored the history of religious wars, going as far back as the 7th century. Each of the five parts of the documentary centres on distinct historical periods, starting with the 7th and 8th century in the first part, entitled “the prophet’s sword”. This is followed by episodes on the “Crusades to Jerusalem”, “Turks in Vienna”, “the Emperor’s Jihad”, and, the most topical, “terror in the name of faith”. Knopp’s final conclusion is that there is no such thing as a “holy war”. After it had been aired last Tuesday, the first episode received both positive as well as critical acclaim.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich., is similar to many high schools in the state of Oklahoma. The students are energetic and boisterous on occasion, the faculty and staff are supportive of the students and the football team is a source of pride and enthusiasm for the entire school. The story of that school is told in the documentary film “Fordson” that was made by a talented Arab American filmmaker, Rashid Ghazi. Dearborn, Mich., was the site of a large Ford plant in the early decades of the last century and thousands of Arab immigrants, the majority of whom were Muslims, came to work there.
And that community, we are told, is now home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the U.S. Oklahomans should take note that no efforts have been made to introduce Sharia law into the Dearborn municipal code. The images of Dearborn include a variety of small businesses that cater to the Muslims and it explained that those businesses helped to reinvigorate that community after the Ford plant closed years ago.
The story contained in the movie is a familiar one, high school athletes who are supported by family and an inspirational coach, a school principal who can be stern, and a game against a rival team at the end of the season. But the majority of the football team at Fordson and the coach and principal are all Muslims, and while the players struggle during practice to not eat or drink during the daylight hours in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, that is the only discernible difference between this and any other story of a high school football team in the American Heartland.
Prior to the transmission of Channel 4’s Dispatches, Lessons in Hate and Violence, a number of newspapers ran articles about the extremism and abuse in some mosques and madrassas. Muslim groups gave their reaction after the programme aired. The British Muslim Forum condemned abuse and bigotry but said that such incidents and attitudes were not widespread in the 2,000 Islamic institutions across Britain. It urged Channel 4 not to “fall in the trap of ‘Islam bashing’ or creating fear, hatred and racism against Muslims and their holy faith as has become fashionable these days by over-generalising and exaggerating such isolated incidents.”
The group also said it was “of extreme concern that the programme producers were aware of the incidents since July 2010 but failed to pass the information on to the relevant authorities, thereby compromising the health and safety of the children involved”.
Documentary maker Masood Khan explores the Muslim community’s struggle against extremism. In the first of three videos, he goes to Luton to see how Salafi Muslims are rejecting the extreme rhetoric of al-Muhajiroun, despite still holding not-very-moderate views themselves. In the second part, Khan meets Kalsoom Bashir, a Bristol community worker who is challenging the conservative Islamic view of women. In the third video, Khan meets Hanif Qadir, who co-founded the anti-extremist youth group Active Change Foundation after training as a mujahid soldier and becoming disillusioned with extreme Islamist ideology.
Documents concerning the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam (nowadays also known as Ansar al-Sunna) released by Wikileaks, claim that the group is behind a number of beheadings, threats, and car bombs in Iraq. Ansar al-Islam was founded by Mulla Krekar, who is living in Norway since 1991. He has not been granted Norwegian citizenship, and since 2006 he’s on the UN terror list. Krekar or Ansar al-Islam is mentioned 184 times in the documents released by Wikileaks. One example is published by NRK who has read all the documents concerning Ansar al-Islam and Krekar:
«XXXXXX obtained the vehicles and arranged their delivery to the homes of the insurgent leaders for installation of the explosives. (..) YYYYYY was to participate in the attack. YYYYYY was a prominent amir and associated with Mulla Krekar, the grand leader of Ansar al-Islam.»
This has led to new debates in Norway about the controversial Krekar, and whether or not he should be persecuted or deported. Amongst others Siv Jensen, leader of right wing Fremskrittspartiet, says she wants to see Krekar in jail.
A documentary film by Swiss Television entitled “Behind the Veil – Muslim Report Switzerland” has caused controversy due to the interference of the Swiss government’s integration officer. The film shows disturbing scenes which had shocked the country, such as the secretary of the Muslim community justifying the beating of wives, and an imam who preached that unbelievers were “lower than animals.” The integration officer was to see to it, that an interview of the documentary team was derailed.