President Obama announced that the United States would embark on a business exchange program in areas such as telecommunication and electronic technology, health care, education and infrastructure with the Muslim World. It is a part of the larger outreach efforts by his administration to begin a new era in US relations with Muslims. He declared that such new era “has already begun.” The announcement came in the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington D.C. The idea of the Summit had been mentioned in Obama’s Cairo speech last June.
Following warnings of violence, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creator of South Park, censored an episode about religious figures including prophet Muhammad. Prior to the airing of the episode, a posting on the website of a US-based group, Revolution Muslim, had warned the creators of South Park that they might face the same fate as Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic militant in 2004. Van Gogh had made a movie in which Islam was accused of violence against women. Comedy Central has declined to comment on the issue.
According to the LA times, Muslim organizations are “walking a fine line” in openly fighting extremism while avoiding backlash from the Muslim community. The organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim American Society are responding to the criticism that they have not done enough to fight extremism by embarking on public confrontation of radicalization of the youth. The campaign also includes certain programs to steer young Muslims away from extremist ideologies. Meanwhile, some critics from the Muslim community argue that such Muslim organizations have overstated the threat of radicalization and have inadvertently followed those voices who identify Muslims with extremism.
The Obama Administration has refused to share the evidence related to the last year’s Ft Hood shooting with the Senate. Defense Secretary, Robert Gates argues that sharing the evidence with the Senate could compromise the prosecution process. Two U.S. Senators have threatened the Administration to subpoena.
Several groups are planning to protest outside a fundraiser for a mosque. The protesters argue that the Falls Church mosque, the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, in Northern Virginia is linked to violence. Democratic Committee Chairman and former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and US Representatives Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) are invited to attend the fund-raising but Kaine and Moran will not attend. Two of 9/11 hijackers briefly worshiped at the mosque and one of its previous Imams was denounced by the mosque due to alleged links to the terrorists. Members of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force, Act for America and the Center for Security Policy are planning to protest outside the fund-raising event.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the chairman of the Cordoba Initiative that works to improve Muslim-West relations, argues that religion is a key part of the solution in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He uses the Sacred Text of Islam, the Quran, to show how Muslims and Jews are united and are capable of reaching out to each other through “Abrahamic ethics” as the core of monotheism.
Christopher Paul, a convicted Ohio terrorist, has had ties to Al-Qaeda according to a federal court ruling. In a fax sent to Paul in 1997, now Guantanamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi (an Al-Qaeda operative) sought Paul’s advice on where to send would-be jihadists. The two had met each other in 1992 in Afghanistan and kept contacting each other in 97, 98 and 99. Salahi was arrested in 2001
The federal government and the US Census Bureau are trying to convince some wary Muslims that the data will not be used against them. While other minority groups are also receiving the bureau’s special attention, Muslims are considered among the likeliest to decide not to fill the forms. This seems to be due to continuation of post-9/11 fear among some Muslims to be discriminated against. The Census, however, is prohibited from sharing information that could lead to identify individuals with law-enforcement agencies. The census workers are also committed to protection of confidentiality of data.
Jesse Nieto, whose son was killed along with 15 other sailors in the 2000 terrorist attack against the USS Cole, had used to display an anti-Islam decal on his car proclaiming “Islam=Terrorism,” as well as a picture of US flag with the words: “Disgrace My Countries [sic] Flag And I Will [defecate] On Your Quran.” He also displayed a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad as a re-creation of the Danish cartoons that had provoked Muslims. Mr. Nieto is a civilian employee at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base. After seven years of displaying these messages, Mr. Nieto was ordered to remove them. Nieto filed a lawsuit in North Carolina based on his right to freedom of speech. He has now won the case and is allowed to display anti-Islam decals on his car while driving on the base.
The Michigan chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has released five photos of the bloodied body of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a former Imam of a Detorit mosque. Abdullah was shot 20 times by FBI agents who were trying to arrest him last year. The FBI says that Abdullah was shot after he had opened fire on FBI agents.