Muslims in a Bible Belt town hold their breath

Murfreesboro is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country and an increasingly diverse one. Muslim and Christian students go to school and play sports together; their families patronize the same restaurants and stores.

Residents variously describe the town as a proud example of Southern hospitality, a growing “melting pot,” a suburb of “little blue dot” Nashville and the “buckle on the Bible Belt.” Its downtown with the old courthouse and Confederate-soldiers memorial yields to strip malls and chain stores, new housing developments and old cotton fields, and the university, with its 20,000 undergraduates.

Among the town’s couple hundred places of worship are 59 Baptist churches, including an Arabic Baptist church as well as Grace Baptist, whose deacon in 2010 greeted the construction of the new mosque next door by erecting 23 huge white crosses on the road.

Murfreesboro doesn’t need “to have a lot of Muslims,” Sally Wall said. “I think they can stay where they are and we stay where we are.”

But there’s more tolerance because of the public acrimony over the mosque, said City Council member Bill Shacklett.

“I wish some of the things hadn’t happened. But the one thing it has done is compel people to open their hearts and minds to be drawn toward each other . . . get out and flesh out your faith with different people,” Shacklett said, adding that Muslims and Christians have started to do that.

 

 

Partner of San Bernardino Victim Urges Tolerance of Muslims

A man whose boyfriend was killed in the San Bernardino terror attack criticized Donald Trump’s suggestion that Muslims be banned from entering the U.S. and encouraged tolerance in the wake of the shootings.
Speaking to students Monday in a “Terrorism in the 21st Century” class at California State University, San Bernardino, Ryan Reyes said his anger has shifted from the attack to how the nation has responded. He said the Muslim community should not be blamed for the actions of radical groups.
“A ban on anybody based on something like that, I was appalled that that notion even came up,” Reyes said of Trump’s Muslim ban proposal.

World Hijab Day celebrated on February 1st

world-hijabOn February 1st, millions of women, either Muslim or non-Muslim, prepared their headscarf to don hijab for a day, showing solidarity and respect to Muslim women’s choice to cover.

“I think it is important today to try to understand and experience other cultures and belief system,” Elizabeth Croucher, a non-Muslim Londoner, told OnIslam.net.

Muslim and non-Muslim women wearing a traditional Islamic head scarf will march on the streets of 116 countries to mark the third anniversary of World Hijab Day.

The World Hijab Day, held for the third consecutive year, is the brain child of a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding. Suggesting the event, Khan wanted to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it before judging Muslim women.

Germans push back against Pegida: “Intolerance must not be tolerated.”

Germans push back against Pegida. Call for tolerance. (Photo: Qantara.de)
Germans push back against Pegida. Call for tolerance. (Photo: Qantara.de)

“Against the backdrop of the Pegida protests, politicians in Germany must finally recognise that Islamophobia is a form of racism. Unfortunately, most decision-makers in this country are still a long way off doing that, says Armin Langer, co-ordinator of the Salaam-Shalom initiative in the Berlin district of Neukölln.” [Read more at Qantara.]

From Islam to Christ: the Conversion of Muslims from the Director of the Apostle

In an interview with director Cheyenne Carrone, whose latest movie The Apostle pays homage to a priest that she knew in her childhood whose daughter was killed by a young Muslim. The priest wanted to remain living near the boy’s parents “to help them live.” She was also inspired by a former Muslim who converted to Christianity and attended the same church as her.

She said that it is less likely for someone to convert from Islam to Christianity because it is forbidden. One hadith states, “One who leaves the religion, kill them.” She recognizes that in France this doesn’t happen and that “many Muslims are tolerant of conversion to Christianity when it comes to their brothers.”

When asked if she felt that “the difficulty for some Muslims to accept the conversion of their brethren tends to intensify,” she said “I don’t know. But I have a feeling that on the contrary things are changing, and that tolerance is slowly growing.”

Carrone has had difficulty finding movie theaters that will show her film due to its subject.

Former German Federal President promotes dialogue

July 11, 2014

Christian Wulff, former Federal President, encouraged people to enter into a dialogue with each other and particularly with Islam. He emphasized on the central role of world religions in promoting world peace. Rather than stressing differences he suggested to focus on the commonalities and, as a positive example, quoted the national soccer team of Germany. While talking about the ongoing essentialization of Islam and Muslim in Germany, he addressed the issues of tolerance and the readiness to engage in dialogue.

Comic for tolerance

Febraury 2, 2014

 

Soufeina Hamed (24) is from Berlin, studying Intercultural Psychology at the University of Osnabrück. She decided to wear a headscarf. Having observed and experienced marginalization and prejudices against Muslim females, Soufeina begun to draw comics about daily life of Muslims and non-Muslims in German society. The comics confront stereotype patterns of prejudices with creativity and intelligent humor.

 

Spiegel: http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/wunderbar/muslimische-studentin-mit-kopftuch-comics-fuer-toleranz-a-950428.html

Church Dialogue on Islam

January 12, 2014

 

While world events play out around the globe, it can be hard to fully grasp the role that religion plays. One local church is helping people better understand the world around them, but not exclusively through Christianity. “Welcome to Christ Episcopal Church if you’re visiting. This is our Tour of Islam,” said Adult Formation Leader at Christ Episcopal Church Charles Crawley. Islam is one of the world’s largest religions, accounting for about 20 % of the earth’s population. But, “people are just trying to understand what it is, because we just don’t have a good basic understanding,” said Crawley.

Kirkwood Professor of Religion Dr. Peter Jauhiainen says people often narrowly define the religion. “That provides a distorted understanding of what it’s all about,” said Dr. Jauhiainen. So Christ Episcopal Church organized its Tour of Islam. The idea is to help people of all faiths have a better understanding of world events and other religions. “We, it seems to me, operate on rumors, on information from people who don’t have a complete understanding,” said Doug Anderson.

Those misconceptions can easily affect how we understand the world around us, both past and present. “The other thing I remember from ’73 is the Arab Oil Embargo. Most of us are old enough to remember 25-cent gas,” said Dr. Jauhiainen.
Organizers say knowing more about our surroundings often leads to knowing more about other people, but simple tolerance isn’t enough. “Tolerance is lower on the diversity scale if you want to speak that way. But to move to acceptance, approval and affirmation of people that are different than us,” said Crawley. “I’m more concerned about understanding broad ideas and movements and changing attitudes, that’s more important,” said Dr. Jauhiainen.
CBS Iowa: http://www.cbs2iowa.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/church-dialogue-islam-24459.shtml

Christianity at risk of extinction in areas of persecution, says Warsi

November 15, 2013

 

Christianity is in danger of extinction in some countries because of persecution in areas where its followers are in the minority, a British government minister has said. Christians were being driven out of regions in countries such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root, said Lady Warsi, who has responsibility for faith communities.

She raised her concerns and called on politicians in countries such as Pakistan to “set the tone” for tolerance of religious minorities. Lady Warsi told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I’m concerned that the birthplace of Christianity, the parts of the world where Christianity first spread, is now seeing large sections of the Christian community leaving, and those that are remaining feeling persecuted.

She said 83% of countries had constitutions guaranteeing freedom of religion, but did not implement those provisions. “There’s an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights Council resolution on the treatment of minorities and tolerance towards other faiths. But we need to build political will behind that.

Asked whether Lady Warsi’s warning of the possible extinction of some Christian communities was correct, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, told Today: “I think in some parts of the Middle East that is probably true.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/15/christianity-risk-extinction-persecution-minority-warsi

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/persecution-threatens-extinction-of-christianity-in-ancient-homelands-warns-baroness-warsi-8941249.html

British tolerance is never a given. Post-Woolwich, it must be defended

If you’re living in a Muslim country you’ll notice Ramadan in many wonderful ways – but a not so wonderful way is the one where you live next to a mosque with really bad speakers over which it broadcasts those early, longer, seemingly louder calls to prayer during the holy month. In stark contrast, it is hard to imagine Channel 4’s planned 3am broadcasts of the Ramadan prayers will be observed by anybody not already observing this special holiday. And yet this move has been cast as a deliberate provocation by the channel itself – to bust our stereotypes of Islam – and by bigoted newspapers spinning the call to prayer as a call to impose sharia law in Britain.

 

And yet, rather than recognise how alarming and frightening this vicious spike in anti-Muslim attacks truly is, sections of the British media have been engaged in trying to underplay it. Underpinning all this was a confident appraisal of British culture, such as that suggested by Tony Parsons in the Mirror, who noted that we are “a civilised, polite, tolerant people” – as though that could magically stop us also being capable of bigotry or hatred. Forty percent of anti-Muslim attacks recorded by Tell Mama UK last year were linked to English Defence League sympathisers. But these attacks can only take place and then be so casually diminished in a culture that sees some degree of hatred or suspicion of Muslims as acceptable and understandable.

 

Fortunately, though, tolerance really is a component of British life: that is what has prompted the flood of messages of support for British mosques, the solidarity across communities, and the anti-fascist protests that are organised to face down racist mobilisations by the EDL. Tolerance is something that makes people proud of Britain, but it is never a given; it always has to be defended – more than ever in the testing times we face today, and even when the attacks seem as superficially schoolyard as the one about the televised call to prayer.