Meal builds bridges between Muslims and inner-city residents

News Agencies – June 10, 2012

Dozens of volunteers from Edmonton’s Muslim community spent their Sunday helping feed inner-city residents. They set up in the Hope Mission, preparing and handing out 800 roast beef dinners.

“It’s a human obligation,” said Ahmed Ali, one of the volunteers.”We all might succumb to this type of situation, so it’s good to give back.” When they were still finding their feet in their new home, Ali says his family often relied on charities and organizations for food.

The meal has been a tradition in Edmonton for a decade. Ali says it’s a chance to disprove some of the stereotypes that plague both the city’s immigrant and homeless populations – especially in the wake of media attention that Ali says often paints the communities in a bad light.

Artist Lalla Essaydi challenges stereotypes of women in Islamic cultures

The young girl growing up in a harem in Morocco is sitting alone in an abandoned house surrounded by olive trees. For one month, the girl will speak to no one and be spoken to by no one. This is her punishment for “stepping outside the permissible space” and rebelling against rules that give her brothers more freedom.

Confined to this lovely but deteriorating house, attended only by servants, a young Lalla Essaydi begins to think about the private spaces that women in the Arab world must inhabit. It is this place of punishment to which Essaydi will return decades later to understand the artist she has become. Her work, she says, will become haunted by spaces she inhabited as a child.

Essaydi, who has risen to international fame for her stunning portraits of women in Islamic cultures, questions the barriers imposed on Arab women and challenges stereotypical Western depictions of women who live in harems.

Opening of the Inscriptions for the Online Islamic Feminism Course


Educaislam training center in collaboration with the Department of Theology and Religious Sciences “Ellacuría” Carlos III University organized the “First Course of Islamic Feminism: Gender Equality in Islam” to be held from May 1 to June 25, 2012. Its objective is to understand the contributions of Muslim feminists to contemporary Islamic thought and encourage deconstruction of gender stereotypes in Islam.

Meet some all-American Muslims, the reality, not the show

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was a mixture of Southern hospitality and confounding stereotypes and expectations. Of course, there was food, stuffed grape leaves and slightly spice samosas. At the end of the evening, everyone got to take home a copy of the Koran, complete with translation and commentary. In between a panel representing a range of races, ages, ethnicities and professions communicated the message that being Muslim and American is complimentary, not mutually exclusive.

Distinguished by their very ordinariness, the photos that flashed behind them – of families on trips, with children, having fun with friends – conveyed a message of “we’re a part of the community and we’re like any other hard-working Charlotte citizen.”

The organizer of “Meet the Muslims of Charlotte” – a co-founder of Muslim Women of the Carolinas — was born in Buffalo, N.Y., with a mother from Colombia and father from Palestine. Rose Hamid is a US Airways flight attendant who wears a hijab and is used to answering questions; she does it with a smile.

Warith Muhammad challenges all kinds of stereotypes. He is an African American, born in New York City and born into Islam. He is also a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, who said his faith informed his decision to join the force, “to serve and protect.” During a break, Muhammad told me, “Everything I do, I always keep humanity first,” whether it’s assisting a homeless person or answering a domestic violence call.

The people he assists notice his name, he said, and believe he is “a man of character” because of it. Muhammad said that once, as a compliment, someone he helped told him, “You must be a Christian.” And when he said he was a Muslim, the man answered, “It’s all the same thing.”

Ramadan Festival Discontinued in the Netherlands

2 August 2011


Several media outlets note the start of Ramadan and its influence for the daily lives of Muslims in the Netherlands and abroad. Although for the past six years the country has celebrated Ramadan with a festival designed to counter stereotypes about Muslims and build relations with non-Muslims, the events will not occur this year. In the past the festival involved sponsored iftar dinners, which “local authorities no longer have the budget to fund”. Radio Netherlands Worldwide carries a photographic overview of Ramadan, and notes that “people in the Middle East are experiencing this year’s Ramadan in quite a different way” given unrest in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt.

Norway massacre exposes Christians to ‘terrorist’ stereotype Muslims have faced since 9/11

When the “enemy” is different, an outsider, it’s easier to draw quick conclusions, to develop stereotypes. It’s simply human nature: There is “us,” and there is “them.” But what happens when the enemy looks like us — from the same tradition and belief system?

That is the conundrum in the case of Norway and Anders Behring Brevik, who is being called a “Christian extremist” or “Christian terrorist.”

As westerners wrestle with such characterizations of the Oslo mass murder suspect, the question arises: Nearly a decade after 9/11 created a widespread suspicion of Muslims based on the actions of a fanatical few, is this what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of stereotype?

Psychologists say stereotypes come from a deeply human impulse to categorize other people, usually into groups of “us” and “them.”

“Sadly, the last ten years, the term has been co-opted in public discourse and only applies to Muslims,” he said. “Now here we have a right-wing Christian extremist who has committed an act of terror, and many people don’t know how to react.”

Book: “I Speak for Myself” – American Women on Being Muslim

A group of Muslim American women has embarked on a quest they have long considered overdue. Feeling neither heard nor understood, they told their stories in a collection of essays which encapsulates an overarching challenge they face daily – how to find a balance between staying true to their faith and navigating established societal norms in a country partly accepting, yet also partly weary of Islam.

Compiled and co-edited by Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala, the book – “I Speak for Myself” – contains first-person narratives by 40 Muslim women born and raised in the United States who, as the editors point out, have been “negotiating a dichotomy of Islamic and Western values since birth.”

Representing many walks of life, the women point out that the book is not intended as a response to existing stereotypes nor as a pontification about a post-9/11 world, but is simply an attempt to provide others an honest and unfettered glimpse into their lives.

Muslim Americans see bin Laden’s death as start of new chapter

For Muslims in the United States, life has been divided into two distinct eras: before Sept. 11, 2001, when most Americans weren’t particularly aware of Islam, and afterward, when many began associating their faith with terrorism. If you were an American who also happened to be Muslim, inhabiting both identities could sometimes feel perilous.

So when the news broke, via Twitter, Facebook, e-mails and phone calls, that al-Qaeda’s mastermind had been eliminated, many Muslim Americans let out a collective sigh of relief.

“Osama bin Laden never represented our community, Islam or Muslims,” said Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

On Monday, the leaders of several prominent Muslim American organizations hailed bin Laden’s death, saying they hoped it would remove what one called the “sexy face” of terrorism for young radicals and allow the United States’ relations with Muslim nations to stop revolving around the issue of terrorism.

However, some still doubted that bin Laden’s demise would alter negative stereotypes about Muslims in the United States.

Rethinking Radicalization:

Summary: Radicalization is complex. Yet a thinly-sourced, reductionist view of how people become terrorists has gained unwarranted legitimacy in some counterterrorism circles. This view corresponds with—and seems to legitimize—“counter-radicalization” measures that rely heavily on non-threat-based intelligence collection, a tactic that may be ineffective or even counterproductive. Only by analyzing what we know about radicalization and the government’s response to it can we be sure that these reactions are grounded in fact rather than stereotypes and truly advance our efforts to combat terrorism.