Michigan Case Adds U.S. Dimension to Debate on Genital Mutilation

NYT Op ED:

The arrest of 3 doctors in Michigan for performing female genital mutilation prompted Tasneem Raja, 34, a journalist, to write about being cut in New Jersey. She said she had received “an outpouring of emails from people saying thank you.”

“This Michigan case made me think I want to speak out,” said Nazia Mirza, 34, who was cut at age 6 in her hometown, Houston. “To me it’s very much like a rape survivor. If you don’t say anything, then how are you going to expose it and bring awareness?”

But Ms. Raja said the case was exposing a spectrum of feelings. Even among Bohra women who oppose cutting, she said, views range from “women who say this has greatly impacted their sex life and their ability to enjoy sex, to people like me who walked away with lifelong emotional trauma, to people who say, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is.’”

Texas terror suspect planned mosque attack, officials say

April 4, 2014

 

Robert James Talbot Jr. considered himself a revolutionary seeking to create a different society by robbing an armored car, killing police and even blazing a bloody path though a service at a mosque where he would shoot men, women and children at prayer, officials said.

Talbot was ordered held without bond Wednesday at a hearing in Houston, Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for Kenneth Magidson, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas, said in an email. Talbot, 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested last week, but government terror experts gave new details at Tuesday’s hearing on what they said were his plans.

When Talbot was taken into custody, prosecutors released documents outlining what they said was his effort to recruit five or six like-minded individuals “to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers. Talbot created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement,” the complaint alleged.

His goal as stated on Facebook, according to the complaint, was to create a “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community … [for] those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”

The complaint alleges that in a March 15 Facebook post, Talbot said: “In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.”

FBI special agent Renee Cline testified at the hearing that Talbot “wanted to go to a mosque on Friday and take women, children, men and shoot them,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Cline added that Talbot planned to hit the mosque during a prayer session when the most people would be there.

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-terror-suspect-mosque-attack-20140402,0,2322303.story#axzz2yE3oOxsF

Mosque attacks common nationwide; imam takes incident in stride

JOPLIN, Mo. — One simply has to type the words “mosque fires” into a search engine to determine how common fires like the one Wednesday at the Islamic Society of Joplin mosque are.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have tracked dozens of fires, firebombings and incidents of vandalism at mosques around the country over the past five years.

A few examples:

• A mosque in Queens, N.Y., was firebombed in January with worshippers inside. There were no injuries.

• An arson attack on a Houston, Texas, mosque was reported in May 2011.

• Construction equipment was set afire at the site of a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in August 2010.

• An Oct. 31, 2011, arson fire at a mosque in Wichita, Kan., caused an estimated $120,000 in damage.

• Closer to Joplin, someone in April 2011 burned three copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and left a threatening letter near the entrance of the Islamic Center of Springfield mosque. The anonymous letter claimed that Muslims would “stain the earth” and that Islam wouldn’t survive.

The mosque had earlier been vandalized with graffiti.

An FBI agent last month said there have been positive developments in the Springfield case.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday called for state and federal agencies to investigate the Joplin mosque fire as a possible hate crime.

Why basketball is Muslims’ favorite sport

For many Muslim Americans, college and professional basketball provides heroes they can take pride in, symbols of affirmation at a time when they face hostility from some Americans. And it serves as a way to develop fellowship with their fellow believers while reaching out to non-Muslims.

“Every Muslim community I go to, there’s this obsession for basketball. Almost every mosque you go to, there’s a basketball court outside,” said Musab Abdali of Houston.

At the moment, there are at least eight Muslim players in the NBA (four Turks, two African Americans, one Iranian, and one Tanzanian), and one of them — center Nazr Mohammed of the Oklahoma City Thunder — is currently in the middle of a tense series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the special relationship between Muslims and basketball goes beyond any particular player or team and embraces the sport itself. It is not unlike the one described in “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story,” a 2010 documentary film written by Ira Berkow, a Pulitzer-prize winning sportswriter.

 

Omar Abdelkader, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, is an observant Muslim but admits that, at least as a kid, he was occasionally seduced by the swish of a perfect jump-shot over the Islamic call to prayer.

“Sometimes we’d sneak out of prayers to play ball,” recalled Abdelkader, who grew-up attending the Worcester Islamic Center in central Massachusetts. Like a growing number of American mosques, the Worcester Islamic Center has a basketball court — and hence a built-in temptation for younger members.

Toronto’s Largest Muslim School Tournament

OnIslam – March 8, 2012

The Annual Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST Toronto) is set to open on Saturday, March 10 on the York University campus for an annual Muslim interscholastic tournament. Launched in 2001 by a freshman at the University of Houston, MIST is a fun, educational, interactive program of competitions and workshops. It aims at bringing high school students together from around the country to develop leadership, communication, and other creative skills, all while gaining a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslims.

MIST Toronto was the first MIST region to be established outside of the United States back in 2008. In just four years, MIST Toronto not only became the largest MIST region, but also it became the biggest Muslim high school event in North America.

Texas man convicted of trying to sneak out of US to join al-Qaida, faces 20 years in prison

HOUSTON — A Texas man accused of attempting to sneak out of the country with restricted U.S. military documents, money and equipment in order to join al-Qaida was convicted Monday of trying to help the terrorist organization.

Barry Walter Bujol Jr. was convicted of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 8.

Prosecutors said Bujol sought to join al-Qaida and to provide it with money, the documents and GPS equipment. He was arrested in May 2010 after a two-year investigation and was taken into custody after using fake identification to sneak into a Houston port and board a ship bound for the Middle East, authorities said.

But the 30-year-old said he never sought to harm the United States or any American, and the reason he wanted to leave the country was due to his displeasure with U.S. foreign policy. He said he wanted to become a better Muslim.

Group known as Anonymous claims to have hacked Texas law enforcement website, emails

HOUSTON — The group known as Anonymous claims to have hacked into the email accounts of more than two dozen Texas law enforcement agencies or officials in retaliation for arrests of its supporters and what it sees as harassment of immigrants by authorities in the state.

The group appeared to briefly take over the website of the Texas Police Chiefs Association on Thursday, replacing its home page with one that listed police departments and officials whose email accounts Anonymous said had been hacked. The group posted a statement on the police website saying it was “attacking Texas law enforcement” because of arrests of its supporters and what the group sees as harassment of immigrants by authorities in the state.

Robert Mock, one of the individuals whose personal email account was apparently breached, said he had only been made aware of the possibility earlier Thursday.

“I’m upset, as anybody would be whose account was hacked into,” he said. “This wasn’t my work account. Got my private information out there. I don’t even know what’s out there.”

Anonymous listed Mock as being a lieutenant with the Houston police department, but Mock said he had left the department about four years ago. Mock said he still worked in law enforcement in the Houston area but declined to say where he was employed.

In addition to his cellphone and water bills, Anonymous also posted emails of jokes that were forwarded to Mock that made fun of Arabs and Muslims.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry to host major prayer event in Houston

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy in the next few weeks, will start to change that on Saturday, by hosting a day of prayer and fasting in Houston dubbed “The Response.”

Some of the groups and figures involved in prayer event are highly controversial. Following the Fort Hood shootings two years ago, a top official at the American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, said Muslims should be not allowed to serve in the U.S. military. He has also suggested Adolf Hitler and the German soldiers who carried out the Holocaust were gay, and their sexual orientation was part of the reason they orchestrated the mass killings.

David Carney, Perry’s top political adviser, said that economic issues will be the biggest focus in next year’s election, but he argued that voters would not punish a candidate for talking about his religion.

Texas teacher put on leave after making Osama bin Laden ‘uncle’ remark to Muslim student in class

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas — A Southeast Texas school has put a teacher on leave pending an investigation into an allegation that he asked an American-born Muslim student if she was grieving because her “uncle” had died, referring to Osama bin Laden, a school district spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The teacher, whom officials of the Clear Creek school district did not identify, is accused of offending the American-born female student Monday during a ninth-grade algebra class at Clear Brook High School in Friendswood, located 23 miles southeast of Houston.

District spokeswoman Elaina Polsen told KTRK-TV of Houston the teacher was placed on leave after another student reported the taunt to her mother.

“The student did the right thing and immediately notified an adult regarding the teacher’s comments. The principal at Clear Brook High School notified the child’s parents and has been in communication with the family,” Polsen said.

Miss USA Takes A Stand

By JOY SEWING

As the first Muslim to be crowned Miss USA, Rima Fakih isn’t bothered by criticism that wearing bikinis and revealing clothing goes against the teachings of her religion. During a brief stop in Houston this week, the newly crowned Miss USA said she hopes her new profile will help expand the notion of what it means to be a Muslim American.