On Ramadan in Turkey

July 10, 2014

The Standard, one of the Austrians leading daily newspapers, is reporting on the Ramadan tradition. How and why Turkish Muslims or Muslims in general are fasting for the duration of 30 days. The story also focuses on a drummer in Istanbul, who is responsible to wake up the Muslims for “suhur” (the pre-dawn meal).

Ramadan in Austrian media

June 28, 2014

Because the fasting month of  Ramadan starts today, the ORF tried the enlighten some of its readers, who are not familiar with the Muslim religious tradition. The story tries to show the different ways that Muslims handle the month of Ramadan. For example, the report tells the reader, that because of exceptional rules soccer players do not have to obey rules of fasting during the soccer world cup games.

French imams gather at the Jewish museum in Brussels

June 9, 2014

On Monday, June 9, French imams gathered alongside members of the Belgian Association Against Anti-Semitism in front of the Jewish Museum in Brussels. The ceremony was held in order to commemorate those killed in the May 24 shooting in which Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche shot four people, three of whom were killed. The gathering included a prayer during which leaders of both the Muslim and Jewish communities joined hands before a moment of silence, followed by a candle lighting ceremony to honor the victims.

Hassen Chalghoumi, the “imam of Drancy,” was present at the ceremony. Chalghoumi is known for his fierce opposition to radical Islam and its violence, his denunciation of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and his close ties with France’s Jewish community. In his speech he asserted that “The Muslim majority must end its silence and state that we don’t have anything to do with this type of individual. I also urge parents to engage in dialogue with young people. If I am here, it is to demonstrate that the Muslim community supports the bereaved families. Because we are all victims. One cannot associate Islam with this mentally ill individual. He himself chose this path.” In an effort to prevent the influence of imams trained in countries outside of Europe, Chalghoumi emphasized the need for a “European Islam.”

Writer Marek Halter of the Jewish community also spoke. “It is important to reconcile religions and to remember that those who kill are not part of the majority, otherwise we all would have been killed,” said Halter. The initiative of French imams has touched the Jewish community in Brussels, especially the museum’s president Philippe Blondin: “It’s…a magnificent gesture of openness. I welcome them with great emotion.”

Following the shooting the European Union pledged to combat the “jihadist threat.” It has prepared a series of measures to identify young Europeans who have left to fight in Syria in order to prevent them from committing violent acts when they return to Europe.

Muslim leaders ask for equal billing with Jewish holiday on Montgomery calendar

Muslim community leaders in Montgomery County this week asked that the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha be given equal billing as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur on Montgomery’s 2015-2016 school calendar.

They described the issue as symbolic but important.

In 2015, both holidays will fall on Wednesday, Sept. 23, but a calendar draft does not give them the same weight. Yom Kippur — for which county schools will be closed — is listed beside the date. The Muslim holiday is included in a parenthetical notation: Eid al-Adha also falls on this date.

Muslim leader Saqib Ali asked at a school board meeting this week that the calendar be changed to say: Yom Kippur/Eid al-Adha.

“We need to see equal treatment,” Ali told the board. “Here is a case where, on a piece of paper — this is strictly a symbolic issue — but on this day when schools are closed, even on this day, the Jewish holidays are given sort of precedence or elevated.”

The calendar question comes after Muslim leaders have repeatedly asked that at least one of the two major Muslim holidays be recognized with a day off school in Montgomery.

This week’s calendar request, signed by six other leaders of the Eid coalition, “is a very, very minimal request,” Ali said. He said the convergence of the two holidays is a “happy coincidence” for Muslim families, but more is needed.

“If MCPS can’t list the holidays equally, if they won’t even grant that, then I think people are going to start asking questions about MCPS’s general attitude toward the Muslim community,” he said.

Board Member Christopher Barclay asked district staff to look into the request. He also said he believes a standard is needed for school closings.

James Inhofe Opines On How Obama ‘Suppresses Our Judeo-Christian Values’

WASHINGTON — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) all but accused President Barack Obama Wednesday of promoting Islam while “suppressing our Judeo-Christian values.”

The senior senator from Oklahoma held forth on the Senate floor on the greatness of George Washington, marking the 225th anniversary of the first president’s inaugural address.

Inhofe argued that Washington made clear the Christian God was responsible for the creation of the United States.

“We’re here because of the hand of God,” Inhofe said. “Washington’s leadership was grounded in God, and his leadership was God’s gift.”

He then suggested that Obama is betraying that holy gift, attributing the implication to his constituents.

With the charge that Obama promotes Islam, Inhofe was treading into some fringe territory. In a 2012 election Gallup survey, 34 percent of Americans correctly named Obama as a Christian. Just 11 percent thought he was Muslim.