The world is divided over the acceptance of homosexuality, a survey released Tuesday (June 4) finds.
There is broad acceptance of homosexuality in North America, the European Union, and much of Latin America, according to the Pew Research Center survey. The survey was conducted by telephone and face to face in 39 countries among 37,653 respondents from March 2 to May 1. The margin of error for the survey ranges from plus or minus 3.1 to plus or minus 7.7 percentage points.
Juliana Horowitz, the report’s lead author and a senior researcher at Pew, says, “I can’t think of any question we have asked where we have this sort of global polarization. In North America, Europe and several countries in Latin America, we have really high acceptance of homosexuality. In predominantly Muslim nations and in sub-Saharan Africa, we have equally widespread views on the other side.”
African nations and predominantly Muslim countries are among the least accepting of homosexuality. For example, about 98 percent of people in Nigeria say homosexuality should not be accepted. In Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country in Southeast Asia, 93 percent say homosexuality should be rejected.
Muslims have been demonstrating from North Africa to Southeast Asia, often violently, over the film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. But, in America, Muslims have been virtually silent over the video Innocence Of Muslims.
Why the subdued response in the U.S.?
Jonathan Brown, an assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, offers one theory. He thinks some American Muslims are too scared to protest.
“In a post 9/11 world, they’re absolutely frightened to stick their heads out in any way, shape or form,” he says. “They are still apologizing for attacks they didn’t do.”
Many American Muslims are fearful of appearing suspicious, voicing discontent with government or showing any solidarity with Muslims overseas, he argues. And if they do express their opinions, Brown says, they are absolutely tripping over themselves to show how truly moderate and civil they are.
U.S. Muslim groups have come out and condemned the violence abroad, including the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. But aside from that, Muslims in America have stayed on the peripheries, not wanting to be drawn into a fire burning overseas.
Members of the 8-year-old West Los Angeles Cousins Club say they have been intrigued to find how much Islam and Judaism have in common.
A guiding principle for the group is to discuss religion and spirituality, rather than delve into sensitive political issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the group’s eight-year history, there has been only one Arab member, a Syrian woman who attended for about a year. There was also briefly an Iranian American attendee, but most of the Muslim participants have roots in Southeast Asia or are converts to Islam.
The interchange between Muslims and Europe has a long and complicated history, dating back to before the idea of ‘Europe’ was born, and the earliest years of Islam. There has been a Muslim presence on the European continent before, but never has it been so significant, particularly in Western Europe. With more Muslims in Europe than in many countries of the Muslim world, they have found themselves in the position of challenging what it means to be a European in a secular society of the 21st century. At the same time, the European context has caused many Muslims to re-think what is essential to them in religious terms in their new reality.
In this work, H.A. Hellyer analyses the prospects for a European future where pluralism is accepted within unified societies, and the presence of a Muslim community that is of Europe, not simply in it. He draws upon his academic expertise in a variety of disciplines, including sociology, politics and religious studies, in order to give the reader a thorough theoretical backdrop. Uniquely, he combines this knowledge with his background as an independent scholar engaged in policy networks and institutions. The result is a work that has drawn critical acclaim from some of the most noted scholars in the West on a very important topic.
This is the first of a series of events that will be held on the themes of Dr. Hellyer’s book in 2009/10 in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Pluralism is certainly one of the key issues facing us today, and Dr. Hellyer’s book is a fresh perspective on an age-old topic.
Even in Omaha Nebraska, the heartland of America, Muslim Americans gathered to celebrate the end of Ramadan. A community of about 3,000 celebrated Eid Al-Fitr in the Hilton hotel ballroom room in Omaha. In the traditionally conservative Christian area, “They filed into the hall past non-Muslim Americans who, in bewilderment, stared at this unusual sight” reports IslamOnline. People with backgrounds from Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America all participated in prayers. One man observed: “This is really great to see so many cultures in one place at one time.”
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In a somewhat surprising relationship, the Lost Angeles Times reports on the befriending of Mormons and Muslim in the United States. While the two religions have very little theology in common, both have some shared values and have felt a feeling of isolation from mainstream America. The Mormon Church has become the largest contributor to Buena Park-based Islamic Relief, touted by some as the West’s largest Muslim based charity. Relief officials say that $20 million in goods and services has been donated by the Mormon church since the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia – about 20% of the charity’s annual budget. “We both come from traditions where there has been persecution in the past and continues to be prejudice… that helps us Mormons identify with Muslims” said Steve Gilliland, the LDS director of Muslim relations for Southern California. Muslims also echo the sentiment: “When I go to a Mormon church I feel at ease… When I heard the president [of LDS] speak a few years ago, if I’d closed my eyes I’d have thought he was an imam” said Haitham Bundakji, former chairman of the Islamic Society of Orange County.