News Agencies – June 19, 2012
A French appeals court has approved the construction of a large mosque in the city of Marseille, home to an estimated 250,000 Muslims. The mosque, seen as a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France, has attracted national controversy.
The court overturned an October ruling by Marseille’s administrative tribunal that cancelled the project’s construction permit for supposed failures to meet urban-planning requirements. A community association led by a local butcher had filed a complaint against the building permit, saying the mosque project did not fit with the surrounding urban environment. The 22-million-euro ($28-million) project would see the Grand Mosque, boasting a minaret soaring 25-metres (82-feet) high and room for up to 7,000 worshippers, built in the city’s northern Saint-Louis area.
Concerns about racial profiling and other questionable tactics used to investigate the possible terrorist recruitment of Somalis living in the United States are prompting some Muslim leaders in Saint Louis and elsewhere to limit their cooperation with the FBI.
Federal agents are intensifying their efforts to make connections and conduct investigations within the Somali community across the US, as concerns grow that some are being recruited to radicalization and association with al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists. About two dozen teenagers and young men have disappeared from the Minneapolis area, and returned to the Horn of Africa over the past two years, according to the FBI. Some critics say that what the FBI calls community outreach to bridge closer ties to US-Somali communities, actually involved the use of coercion, threats, and intimidation. “The Somali Muslim community in particular feels they are under siege by law enforcement,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
50 mosques and 50 synagogues representing more than 100,000 Muslims and Jews paired up throughout the United States to learn from each other, and mutually commit to combating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. In Saint Louis members of Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel and the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis visited each others’ houses of worship to learn, and discuss how to help each other battle religious ignorance that can lead to intolerance and hate. “God created us not to despise each other, but to come to know and love one another,” said Imam Muhamed Hasic of the Islamic Community Center.
The gathers were part of an event called the “Weekend of Twinning,” organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding in New York. The organization’s president, Rabbi Marc Schneier, said: “As the children of Abraham, not only do we share a common faith, but share a common fate. We must strengthen our bonds of concern, compassion and caring for each other.”
Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)
All members of the Harvard community are cordially invited to attend the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program’s first annual conference entitled, “Interpreting the Islamic Tradition in the Contemporary World.” Events will be held on Saturday, November 3 and Sunday, November 4. The agenda for the conference events is below. The conference is free, including the lunch reception on November 3 and the Gamelan performance on November 4. The events will take place on the first floor of the Barker Center both days.
Saturday, November 3
9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Thompson Room, Barker Center
John Bowen, Washington University in Saint Louis: “Ibn Ashur in Aceh and Paris: Adapting Shar?`a by way of its Objectives”
Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Princeton University: “Religious Authority and the Language of Ijtihad in Contemporary Sunni Islam”
Asef Bayat, Leiden University: “Fun and Fundamentalism”
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm Barker Center Middle Eastern lunch reception for members of the Harvard community
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm Thompson Room, Barker Center
Said Arjomand, State University of New York-Stony Brook: “Islamic Constitutionalism: Paradoxes and Pitfalls in the Appropriation of the Islamicate Political Tradition”
Farid Esack, Harvard University: “Redeeming Islam: Constructing the Good Muslim Subject in Contemporary Religious Studies”
Omid Safi, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: “Reforming Islam in the ’Axis of Evil’: Contesting Islam in Post-Revolutionary Iran”
Sunday, November 4
9:30 am – 12:30 pm Thompson Room, Barker Center
Mahmood Mamdani, Columbia University: “Distinguishing Bigotry from Blasphemy in Contemporary Freedom of Speech Debates”
David Cook, Rice University: “Faith and Fornication: Behind the Murji’a Debate in Contemporary Islam”
Sherman Jackson, University of Michigan: “Ibn Taymya and Black Theodicy”
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Barker Center Concluding remarks, closing reception
Performance by Boston Village Gamelan Group