Around 20 UK mosques opened their doors to the public on Sunday in a move to ease tensions between Muslims. The Muslim Council of Britain said that the mosques would give a warm welcome to visitors and answer any queries regarding Islam that the people in the community might like answered.
However, the event was surrounded with conspiracy after Cathy Newman claimed in her tweet that she was ushered out Streatham mosque in North London, which caused outrage in the social media questioning the event held by the Muslim Council of Britain. Cathy Newman later apologised after CCTV images contradict the Channel 4 presenter’s claims that she was “ushered out of the mosque” during Open Day held by UK mosques. The CCTV images obtained by the Huffington post showed that Miss Newman arriving at the mosque and being directed by a male congregant, but leaving alone through the courtyard. The mosque had previously denied Miss Newman’s claims, saying that her comments provoked death threats and voice mails which were reported to the police.
Cathy Newman apologised for the “misunderstanding”. She said “as the primary purpose of Visit My Mosque day was to increase understanding of Islam, I was horrified to hear the mosque I visited in error has had death threats. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding there has been. I would be happy to pay a private visit to South London Islamic Centre once again.” she said in a statement. Although she made the claims on that day, she later added that she was received warmly by the people in Hyderi mosque.
On his trip to Doha, Qatar, the German President Wulff has called on Muslims and Christians around the world to tackle existing prejudices and unite in a fight against violence. According to Wulff, religious pluralism was an important foundation for a peaceful coexistence in diverse societies. In particular religious leaders should make some efforts to improve mutual respect. Wulff made his appeal during the “Alliance of Civilizations”-meeting in Doha, an initiative by the United Nations to combat mutual suspicion, fear and misunderstanding between Islamic and Western societies.
Espersen herself suggests that the misunderstanding may have occurred as a result of her explanation of Danish law: “I can confirm that I have told several of my conversation partners that freedom of speech is not without limits in Denmark. There are two limits: the blasphemy paragraph, which is paragraph 140 in criminal law and the racism paragraph as in paragraph 266b,” Espersen says.
The Danish embassy in Cairo has issued a news release in which it has clarified what Espersen said. Linguistically, the part of the statement concerned could be misinterpreted as an apology for the cartoons, as it is not fully clear what the regret refers to, and in translation into Arabic, or in oral conversation, could easily be misconstrued as an apology for them.
October 14, 2010
Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lene Espersen says that claims in Egypt that she should have apologised for the media printing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, are a misunderstanding.
The English-language Egyptian Gazette has reported under the headline ‘Denmark apologises to Musims for cartoons’ that Espersen apologised for the cartoons during a visit to Cairo recently.
In response Lene Espersen says: “I fully refute having apologised… I am always very careful in explaining exactly what Denmark’s position is on this issue. So I can fully deny having apologised”.
August 19 2010
The mail sorting center in Niewegein has posted rules which bar prayer during work and enforcing breaks at set times, Telegraaf reports. The rules pose a problem for Muslims who are fasting during Ramadan, as the evening shift break comes an hour before the end of fasting. While a worker reported that his employer felt that “fasting is your choice, your problem”, the mail service says the rules are a misunderstanding and that is it possible for employees to consult with management on whether it is possible to go eat.
While some New York City Muslims feel media coverage of Islam portrays them as radicals and terrorists and increases the discrimination they experience, other residents feel there is too much political correctness surrounding Islam to effectively control terrorism. However, they do not feel all Muslims are terrorists and do not want to be labeled Islamophobes.
A Texas woman was told in a job interview with CareNow that she would be unable to wear her hijab to work as part of the company’s “no-hat” policy.
“Being that I wear a head scarf to cover my hair as part of my religious practice, I felt very discriminated against. I have worked in many places that have a ‘no hat’ policy, and I have never been confronted with a problem regarding my head scarf. I can’t imagine this being an issue with an organization like CareNow. Please confirm if this is really a policy at CareNow.”
CareNow replied stating that the correct information had been given on the company’s denial of religious accommodation.
The Council on Islamic Relations CAIR called on the company to allow her to wear the headscarf, adjust the policy to accommodate religious symbols like the hijab, and formally apologize to the applicant.
CareNow President Tim Miller told the Associated Press, “I would apologize for any misunderstanding, definitely … but I don’t really feel like there is anything that we did that is wrong and our policy is wrong.” He then stated, “We apologize to Dr. Zaki for the misunderstanding. We will clarify our policy, and will continue our ongoing sensitivity training.”
“Care Now has made religious accommodations for employees in the past,” he said, adding that the company is interested in “sitting down with Dr. Zaki and discussing a job.”
The Glasgow branch of Islamic Relief has been badly damaged by a fire which police say was started deliberately. Owners of the Islamic Relief store said the incident followed threatening phone calls made during its Gaza emergency appeal in January. Politicians and leading Islamic figures condemned the attack as “despicable” and said it was lucky no-one was injured as there are flats above. Around £80,000 worth of damage were caused in the suspected racist attack.
Osama Saeed, chief executive of the Scottish-Islamic Foundation said: “This also shows not just a misunderstanding of Islamic Relief’s humanitarian work, but also the growing threat of Islamophobia”. Two men, aged 26 and 34, have now appeared in court charged in connection with the fire.
Indonesia, the world`s largest Moslem country, considers the pro-Koln group`s plan to hold an anti-Islam congress in Cologne, Germany, on Sept 19-20 to be counterproductive to interfaith dialogs, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “Any plan to organize an anti-Islam congress would be counter-productive to interfaith dialogs which also involve European nations,” Teuku Faizasyah said on Thursday. The Indonesian government, along with other ASEAN members and other countries through bilateral relations had been active in holding interfaith and cultural dialogs to solve differences and avoid misunderstanding, he said. “We hope there will be sensitivity (on the part of the congress` organizing committee) because such an event will only worsen misunderstanding,” he said. He said the German government had yet to confirm the group`s plan to hold such a congress. “So, we have heard the plan only from a news report,” he said. Last week, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed deep concern about the plan to organize the anti-Islam congress.
In the spirit of Edward Said’s Orientalism, this book graphically shows how political cartoons-the print medium with the most immediate impact-dramatically reveal Americans demonizing and demeaning Muslims and Islam. It also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the Muslim world in general and issues a wake-up call to the American people.
Full-text New York Times Book Review (January 6, 2008) available here. (Some news site may require registration)