Kayak Defends Cutting Ties to ‘All-American Muslim’

Another company has pulled its ads from TLC’s controversial docu-series “All-American Muslim,” saying it did so because TLC “was not upfront with us about the nature of this show” and was deliberately “trying to pick a fight” over the series. The online travel company Kayak.com also says that its chief marketing officer watched a couple of episodes and thought they were lousy.

Kayak.com got swept up in the story about the decision by the giant home-improvement retail chain Lowe’s to yank its ads from the series, which is about five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe’s had become the target of a campaign by the conservative Florida Family Association, which said the show is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

But on Wednesday, Kayak’s chief marketing officer, Robert Birge, sought to distinguish his company’s decision from Lowe’s: He savaged the Silver Spring-based TLC over its handling of the show in a “We Handled This Poorly” blog post on Kayak’s Web site.

“When TLC pitched ‘All-American Muslim’ to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim. However, what was not disclosed was the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.,” Birge said in the statement e-mailed to The TV Column.

Reality TV Goes Where Football Meets the Hijab

“All-American Muslim,” the latest from TLC (the channel behind “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”), starting Sunday night: “Through these families and their diverse experiences, we will explore how they blend their values and traditions with everyday life in America.” The author Reza Aslan, whose media entertainment company, BoomGen Studios, has been helping TLC with publicity, calls it “a groundbreaking, intimate look inside the lives of a group of Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., who are struggling with the everyday issues that all families deal with.” He adds, “Except they are doing it at a time of unprecedented anti-Muslim hysteria in America.”

The new TLC show, ‘All-American Muslim,’ offers up plenty of characters for a look at the everyday lives of a community much the same as any other.

Muslim families claim discriminatory admission policies of Catholic schools in Dublin

Four Muslim families claim that their sons were refused admission to secondary schools run by the Catholic Church in South Dublin due to their religious background. The denominational educational system of the Republic of Ireland, in which most primary and secondary schools – though state-funded – are under the patronage of the Catholic Church, allows for discriminatory admission policies based on religion and for giving preference to pupils of a Catholic background.

While the four families did not encounter any problems in securing places for their daughters in Catholic girls’ secondary schools in the area, their recent applications on behalf their sons at boys’ secondary schools were rejected on the grounds of the limited availability of places. Two families appealed to the decisions at the Department of Education which upheld their appeals.

Furthermore, one family complained about impingements on freedom of religion as its son had to attend Catholic Religious Education classes and participate in religious services held at the school.

The spokesperson of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Ali Selim, confirmed the rising number of complaints by Muslim parents who experience difficulties in finding places for their children in secondary schools in Dublin. Selim demands immediate action by the Department of Education which needs to provide clear guidelines on admission policies that prevent discrimination against on religious grounds: “All of us are taxpayers and preference should not be on the basis of religion or race. This is not a Muslim issue, it affects all non-Catholics.”

Program examines Japanese and Muslim wartime experiences

The Bridging Communities program was created three years ago by the Los Angeles chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League out of concern that Muslims were struggling with some of the same burdens Japanese faced in the years after the Pearl Harbor bombing.

While organizers acknowledge the Japanese experience during WWII – when more than 100,000 were forced into camps – was much more intense than what Muslims have faced in a post-9/11 world, they say there are similarities in the fear and suspicion aimed at a specific group during wartime.

“Following 9/11, all three (organizing) groups noticed a parallel between how Japanese Americans were treated after World War II and how American Muslims were treated after 9/11,” said Alex Margolin, a program associate with the Japanese American Citizens League in LA.

After angry protesters hurled insults at Muslim families attending an Orange County charity event in March, the Japanese American Citizens League and Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, among others groups, showed up at city council meetings and press conferences to condemn the incident. (Note: The linked YouTube video was edited by the Council on American Islamic Relations. Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly, who appears in the clip, has said her comments at an earlier protest were taken out of context and she was not at the evening rally in which protesters yelled slurs outside the charity event.)

The Japanese American Citizens League was also among the first to issue a statement warning against intolerance toward Muslims immediately after the World Trade Center attacks, said Patty Wada, the league’s regional director.


French “Refuge” centre helps Muslim gays

For many gay and lesbian young people in France, Le Refuge is a lifesaver — literally. Since 2003, the organization has helped hundreds of desperate youths, most of them from Muslim families, who have been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets. But the charity is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking assistance. The organization, France’s only refuge for gay and transsexual youth who are abandoned by their families, offers 22 rooms to desperate young people like Amine. For up to six months, 18- to 25-year-olds can live in one of Le Refuge’s homes in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, complete with educational, medical and psychological support. They can finish their schooling, search for jobs and start to build a new life.

Since its founding in 2003, Le Refuge has cared for about 200 young people, including 80 in the last year alone, says Nicolas Noguier, 33, who is the organization’s founder. About 70 percent of the people living there are young men. Most come from Muslim families.

Saudi-trained Canadian Imam preaches against music

The National Post – February 15, 2011
A Saudi-trained Canadian, Bilal Philips is among a small group of lecturers who preach against most forms of music — a controversial prohibition that surfaced in Manitoba recently, where a dozen Muslim families want to pull their children from music class.
While Mr. Philips argues that Islam does not prohibit all music, he says it only allows adult male singers and “folk songs with acceptable content sung by males or females under the age of puberty accompanied by a hand drum.” In his book, Contemporary Issues, he also says adult women are forbidden from singing “in order to keep the sensual atmosphere of the society at a minimum. Men are much more easily aroused than females as has been thoroughly documented by the clinical studies of Masters and Johnson.”
But the Islamic Institute of Toronto says on its website that many scholars disagree with that interpretation, and consider music permissible as long as it does not contain “sensual, pagan or unethical themes” or subliminal messages. The debate over the permissibility of music in Islam has stirred controversy in Winnipeg, where several families who recently immigrated to Canada have told the Louis Riel School Division they want their children excused from compulsory music class, as well as co-ed physical education.

Muslims in Manitoba request exemption from physical education classes

News Agencies – February 5, 2011

A dozen Muslim families who recently arrived in Canada have told Winnipeg’s Louis Riel School Division that they want their children excused from compulsory elementary school music and co-ed physical education programs for religious and cultural reasons. “This is one of our realities in Manitoba now, as a result of immigration,” said superintendent Terry Borys. “We were faced with some families who were really adamant about this. Music was not part of the cultural reality.”
The families accept physical education, as long as the boys and girls have separate classes, but do not want their children exposed to singing or the playing musical instruments, Borys said. The division has suggested they could instead do a writing project to satisfy the music requirements of the arts curriculum.
However, a local Muslim leader says there is no reason for young kids to be held out of music or phys-ed classes based on religious and cultural grounds.
Borys said that there had been one or two requests for kids to be excused previously, but this year a dozen families came forward at six schools. Borys said that school division contacted a member of the Islamic community whom the parents suggested, consulted the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and looked at what other jurisdictions are doing about accommodation, particularly Ontario.

Temecula California: Mosque Is Approved

The Temecula City Council voted 4 to 0 Wednesday to allow about 150 Muslim families to build a mosque after months of angry debate over the plan. Opponents say that the Islamic Center of Temecula could bring extremist activity and traffic woes to the region in Riverside County, about 80 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The Islamic Center was formed in 1998, and its members have been worshiping in a warehouse. The group plans to build a 25,000-square-foot mosque.

After an eight-hour hearing that didn’t wrap up until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the council approved the mosque by unanimous vote. It did so after City Atty. Peter Thorson warned council members that they had to base their decision on such mundane municipal concerns as the project’s environmental impact or compliance with zoning rules, not on whether they approve of Islam. To do otherwise, Thorson pointed out, would be to violate the 1st Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion.

Profiling Dutch Muslim Victims of Sexual Abuse

December 5 2010

Radio Netherlands Worldwide this week runs a profile of the stories of four Muslim women in the Netherlands who have experienced sexual abuse, under the headline “Sex Abuse in Muslim families goes unreported”. The accounts, from Dutch Moroccan women victimized by male family members, are accompanied by comments, from emergency shelter Fier Frieslan, that Muslim girls may not always file a complaint in cases of abuse, as well as from a representative for the National Centre for Expertise on Honour-related Violence claiming that “there isn’t a higher incidence of incest in the Muslim community than in the native Dutch community”.

Government Takes Action against Forced Marriages

16 September, 2010

Following the publication of a report on forced marriages in Zurich, the Ministry of Justice is now drawing up a bill on the issue which is expected by the end of 2010. The bill may lead to tougher penalties, and is designed to improving the legal tools which can be used to fight forced marriages.
Many of the cases in the Zurich report involve Muslim families, however the issue is “not related to Islam as such,” according to Janine Dahinden, professor of transnational studies at Neuchâtel University. “It is more of a generational conflict between parents and children.”

The report also indicates that the number of people seeking advice with regard to forced marriages is growing. This is seen as a positive step by Karin Aeberhard, co-director of the Mädchenhaus Zürich, Switzerland’s only girls’ refuge. “It’s not such a taboo anymore,” she says.