Minnesota’s Somali-Americans Urge New Treatment for Would-Be Terrorists

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge ordered three young men accused of plotting to travel to Syriato fight for the Islamic State kept in detention while awaiting trial, at least for now. That decision came after the defense argued that entrusting the men immediately to their families and Somali-American leaders was the best way to insulate them from radical Islam.

But United States District Judge Michael J. Davis, in a shift from what other federal judges have done in similar cases involving young people accused of being Islamic State recruits, signaled a willingness to revisit his decision in the coming months.  “This is way too important for us to treat it as a regular criminal case,” Judge Davis said at the end of the third hearing. “It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.”

But some Muslim leaders here are trying to make a different case: that the best way to push young people away from militant Islamic groups is to keep them engaged with their community, with responsible clerics and their relatives.  Such an approach, they say, would be a humane counterpoint to the terrorist narrative that the American justice system is anti-Muslim and strictly punitive.

Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)
Osman Ahmed, a Somali-American businessman. His nephew died after joining Al Shabaad. (Angela Jimenez for the NY Times)

Muslim Leaders Worldwide Condemn ISIS

Many Americans Want to Know Why Muslims Aren’t Condemning ISIS

ABC News’ Laura Ingraham, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Fox & Friends and other U.S. media commentators say that Muslims are silent and complicit in the barbarian crimes of ISIS.  Fox News host Andrea Tantaros said that all Muslims are the same as ISIS, and implied that all Muslims should be met “with a bullet to the head”.

Why don’t we hear Muslims condemning the barbarian ISIS terrorists?

Turns out they are loudly condemning ISIS … but our press isn’t covering it.

Father Elias Mallon of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association explains:

“Why aren’t Muslims speaking out against these atrocities?” The answer is: Muslims have been speaking out in the strongest terms, condemning the crimes against humanity committed by ISIS (or, as it is increasingly called, IS) and others in the name of Islam.

Father Mallon is right …

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – the largest Muslim group in the U.S. – called ISIS un-Islamic and morally repugnant,” noted that the Islamic State’s “human rights abuses on the ground are well-documented,” called the Islamic State “both un-Islamic and morally repugnant” and called the killing of American journalist James Foley “gruesome and barbaric”.  See this, this and this.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – the largest Muslim organization on the continent – released a statement denouncing the Islamic State “for its attacks on Iraq’s religious minorities and the destruction of their places of worship.” ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid said, “ISIS actions against religious minorities in Iraq violate the Quranic teaching, ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’  … ” adding, “Their actions are to be denounced and are in no way representative of what Islam actually teaches.”  INSA condemned the vicious execution of Foley at the hands of the terrorist group ISIS, terming it as “un-Islamic behaviour”, and said:

ISIS actions have never been representative nor in accordance to the mainstream teachings of Islam. This act of murder cannot be justified according to the faith practiced by over 1.6 billion people

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) released a statement condemning “the barbaric execution of American Journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).” MPAC urged “all people of conscience to take a stand against extremism” and offered condolences to Foley’s family. MPAC also noted the importance of countering ISIS and other extremist groups by working “to empower the mainstream and relegate extremists to the irrelevance they deserve.”

Seattle Interfaith Leaders to Seek Probe of Imam’s Forced Removal from Delta Flight

March 31, 2014

 

On Tuesday, April 1, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), along with a group of pastors, rabbis, imams, and labor leaders, will hold a news conference to ask Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the apparently bias-motivated removal earlier this month of a Seattle-area imam (Muslim religious leader) from a flight by Delta employees.

The imam, who is a Delta Platinum Elite member, was forced to disembark his flight and take another flight. He was reportedly informed by the Delta employee who escorted him off the plane that this was being done because a crew member judged “the way you used the restroom” to be “doubtful.”

“The Department of Transportation must investigate this shocking incident to hold Delta Air Lines accountable for discriminating against a respected religious leader,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari. “Not all passengers who go to the bathroom get kicked off their flight, so Delta’s discriminatory act was due solely to the imam’s perceived racial, ethnic and religious affiliation.”

Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim leaders and community members have been forcibly removed from airplanes after boarding due to their language, religious attire or appearance.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12431-seattle-interfaith-leaders-to-seek-probe-of-imams-forced-removal-from-delta-flight.html

Local religious leaders unite for change in immigration law

April 4, 2014

 

Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Southern California hold vigil calling for a revamp in federal immigration laws.

Several of Southern California’s most prominent religious leaders held a vigil for immigration reform in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, underscoring a growing interfaith effort to change the nation’s laws.

Immigrants who are in the United States illegally “need mercy and they need justice,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez, welcoming an array of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to the gathering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
“Times have changed,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. “Some have framed the issue as a monolithic issue of a particular denomination. But that is a myth. The immigration issue transcends all creeds, all colors, all languages.

“It does not matter whether my particular people are suffering,” he said. “But we look at it as our people are suffering. And we stand with those suffering people.”

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-interfaith-immigration-20140405,0,4994674.story#ixzz2yE27uDp5

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-immigrant-vigil-la-20140404,0,4480623.story#axzz2yE3oOxsF

Ramadan in Spain

Islam Hoy – Ramadam en EspañaVer vídeoIslam Hoy - Ramadam en España

A video portraying how the Ramadan is lived in Spain; Muslim leaders and others share their thoughts on all aspects from the sacred month: fasting; weather circumstances; integration and the meaning of the celebration.

A better alternative to boycotting the White House Iftar

This is the story of two Washington Iftar dinners.
First, the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren invited Muslim leaders to a diplomatic Iftardinner last week and Imam Antepli of Duke University wondered aloud if the event was meaningful. And then the Obama administration invited Muslim leaders to the White House Iftar dinner and Omid Saifi, the Islamic studies professor from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, called to boycott it.

It’s obvious: We, the American Muslims are struggling to identify the right posture: Boycott, and you sever a diplomatic tie; attend, and you are seen as endorsing a policy.
While I empathize with the demands laid out by Professor Saifi -I believe the Obama administration should abandon overseas drone attacks, halt nationwide racial and religious profiling, and release select Guantanamo Bay prisoners – I knew the boycott will fail to achieve anything beyond creating a social media ripple.

Obama celebrates Islamic holy month at White House with Ramadan dinner
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama saluted Muslim Americans on Thursday for their contributions in helping build the nation as business entrepreneurs, technology innovators and pioneers in medicine.
Obama spoke at a White House dinner he hosted to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The meal, or iftar, breaks the day of fasting when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Obama said Ramadan is “a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it’s also a time for family and friends to come together.”
He said it is a White House tradition to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, adding that these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country and reaffirms the freedom to worship.

Sermons preached in mosques will do nothing to prevent child sex abuse in south Asian communities

Last Friday, Muslim leaders across the country united in openly condemning instances of child grooming and trafficking gangs within their communities. Organised by the non-profit group Together Against Grooming (TAG) and supported by the Muslim Council of Britain, a sermon delivered in around 500 mosques highlighted both the “moral depravity” and Quranic condemnation of such acts, which have no place in the Islamic faith.

There is no doubt that the intentions of the lectures were amicable, particularly in light of recent cases involving grooming gangs in Oxford and Rochdale. Yet in attempting to disassociate the wider Muslim community from such deplorable acts, they may have instead found themselves contributing to the toxic narrative often espoused by anti-Islamic groups such as the English Defence League, who argue that paedophilia and abuse are inherent within the religion. Further, while the gesture may have been widely praised by the media, it will have achieved little in getting to the roots of the problem, or preventing further such cases.

 

That’s largely because the relationship between Islam and grooming gangs is spurious at best. Some may argue that while these men were far from pious, Muslim leaders have a civic duty to address these issues. Where mosques are integral parts of local communities, they should play an active part in addressing issues that affect wider society. But we shouldn’t simply place pressure onto mosques and imams, for in reality they can do little but continue stating the obvious: that such acts are abhorrent and impermissible. In fact, a more effective way of tackling the epidemic of grooming gangs lies in encouraging the quieter voices within Asian communities – residents, community groups and local business owners – to speak out. Victims of abuse often find themselves at the mercy of the perpetrators, who are empowered simply because those around them are more than willing to keep quiet and look the other way. In fact, their silence highlights a far more complex cultural issue – notably the cult of shame and honour that forms the basis of social organisation within many South Asian communities. Indeed, it is not just the young victims of abuse that these grooming gangs were exploiting, but also the sensitivities of their cultural heritage.

 

The truth is that beyond the names of the perpetrators, Islam has little to do with these crimes. The real problem instead lies with cultural taboos and a hesitance by traditional communities to engage with such sensitive topics, which is readily exploited by criminal groups. The result of this continued silence is more victims of abuse and further hostility toward the majority of law abiding Muslims.

 

Doesn’t religion cause most of the conflict in the world?

In this extract from the book For God’s Sake, one question is asked to four Australian writers with very different beliefs.

Religion is powerfully motivating and belligerent humans fight over it. Yet it’s true, religion has been a major feature in some historical conflicts and the most recent wave of modern terrorism. Religion has taken on extra significance today because globalisation is challenging and changing everything. Religious identity not only survives but can take on heightened significance when national and political alliances break apart. That religion can be so markedly different in the hands of the power-hungry, as opposed to the altruistic and virtuous, really says more about human psychology than it does about religion. That’s why so many human conflicts unfortunately involve religion.

None of this is to excuse the undeniable barbarity unleashed by religionists over the centuries. The misogyny, beheadings, terrorism, killings, beatings and cruelty are real. They continue. Today we see a growing battle in the Middle East between Shi’ite and Sunni; a Jewish state unleashing militancy against Christian and Muslim Palestinians; and an anti-gay crusade led by some Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders that threatens the sanctity of life itself.

Claiming religion is the source of the world’s evils is a careless comment. It’s far too easy to blame the Muslim faith for honour killings. I’m under no illusion about the fact that religion is routinely used to justify the more heinous crimes. But the 20th century is filled with examples, namely Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China, that didn’t need God as an excuse to commit genocide against a state’s own people.

York Muslims Greet Protestors with Tea

27 May 2013

 

A potentially volatile situation was defused early last week when York Muslims met English Defence League (EDL) protestors with tea and custard creams, leading to a constructive dialogue on the basis of mutual rejection of violent extremism. The Muslim Council of Britain, one of the country’s largest Muslim groups, has since come out in support of the strategy.

 

Mohammed el-Gomati, a lecturer at the University of York, said of the dialogue: “Even the EDL who were having a shouting match started talking and we found out that we share and are prepared to agree that violent extremism is wrong.”

 

Though the EDL protest outside the York mosque was comparatively small, only about 6 people, the non-violent resolution of the situation, constituted on the basis of shared cultural preferences (tea and sweets) and a common rejection of extremism, is being heralded as a model for future efforts to engage in dialogue with local communities by the Muslim Council of Britain. A statement on the group’s website encourages Muslims to seek common ground with fellow Britons and to open mosque doors to the public in a spirit of openness.

 

The events in York came as the EDL launched a number of protests across the country in response to the Woolwich attack on Drummer Lee Rigby, which the EDL has blamed on Islam. Many Muslim leaders have condemned the actions of the Woolwich attackers as un-Islamic, including Ismail Miah, leader of the York mosque, who said: “What they’ve done in London is for their own reasons but there’s no reasoning behind it from an Islamic point of view.”