July 2009


By Jonathon Lyons, for the Miami Herald:

Recent public opinion surveys show a majority of Americans see “little” or “nothing” to admire in Islam or the Muslim world. Seventy percent say Islam has nothing in common with their own faith, an increase from 59 percent two years earlier.

Those with the strongest anti-Muslim views rely most on the media — not personal experience, travel or study — for their information about Islam. Nor is the nation’s educational elite any less immune to the power of the predominant media narrative of Islam as irrevocably violent, anti-modern, anti-women and anti-democratic.

This same narrative dominates every aspect of the way we think and speak about Islam. It shapes how we listen to what Muslims say and how we interpret what it is they do. As such, it exercises a corrosive effect on everything from politics and theology to international relations, human rights and national security policies, including today’s “war on terrorism.”

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After the death of Neda Soltani, a sixteen-year-old Iranian philosophy student, the Western world remembered her as a martyr fighting for her freedom, and a symbol of resistance. Images of her were utilized in protests against the Iranian regime in order to show them their inhumanity, and the opponents’ solidarity. However, when it came to the oppression of the Uighurs, particularly women, in China as well as the horrendous murder of Marwa Sherbini, a thirty-two-year-old Egyptian mother of two, in Germany, the Western media, as well as its commentators, tried to shift the blame on the Muslim world for not protesting the incident; instead of focusing on their own double standards when it comes to the oppression of women.

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Muslima Media Watch has posted a link to an article concerning Islamic garments, particularly worn by women, by Nursel Guzeldeniz for Online Opinion:

In his opinion piece titled “Sarkozy and the burqa”, published recently in On Line Opinion and written in support of French President Sarkozy’s latest proposal to ban the burqa from public places in France, Kees Bakhuyzen makes an absurd connection between outlawing this piece of cloth – which only a tiny number of Muslim women wear in Europe – and the equality between men and women.

Rather than questioning the real political motives behind Sarkozy’s manipulative symbolic gesture, Bakhuyzen views this proposal as a progressive step to fight against the rise of Islamism in Europe and the western world.

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An excellent, in-depth article by Maulvi Yahya Nomani, for TwoCircles.net:

While Islam stresses good relations with people of other faiths, it is also mindful of its distinctive teachings and of the fact that the aim in life of its true followers is not to wallow in worldly comforts. In other words, it does not permit its moral identity and principles to be sacrificed or diluted. It does not allow Muslims to blindly imitate others so that the identity and distinctiveness of Islamic teachings and principles are wiped out. Islam does indeed call for unity and brotherly relations with people of other faiths, but not at the cost of the distinct identity of the Muslims. It cannot allow Muslims to lose their identity by being absorbed into another community.

According to a hadith report, the Prophet warned Muslims against imitating or following the ways of other communities. This issue has been incorrectly understood by some people. The actual import of this hadith is to warn Muslims from adopting or imitating those aspects of the identity of other communities that relate to the latter’s religious and social distinctiveness and with regard to which they are completely different from Muslims. It is obvious that a community that imitates or adopts such customs and practices of another community would soon be overwhelmed by the latter and made to feel inferior, and that it would gradually begin to lose its own identity, finally ending up being absorbed into the community whose ways it imitates.

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(Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugene Delacroix)

By Alfred de Montesquiou for the Associated Press:

RABAT, Morocco — From the western edge of the Muslim world, the King of Morocco has dared to tackle one of the most inflammatory issues in the Middle East conflict — the Holocaust.

At a time when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of the Holocaust has made the biggest headlines, King Mohammed VI has called the Nazi destruction of the Jews “one of the most tragic chapters of modern history,” and has endorsed a Paris-based program aimed at spreading the word among fellow Muslims.

Many in the Islamic world still ignore or know little about the Nazi attempt to annihilate the Jews during World War II. Some disbelieve it outright. Others argue that it was a European crime and imagine it to be the reason Israel exists and the Palestinians are stateless.

The sentiment was starkly illustrated in March after a Palestinian youth orchestra performed for Israeli Holocaust survivors, only to be shut down by angry leaders of the West Bank refugee camp where they live.

“The Holocaust happened, but we are facing a similar massacre by the Jews themselves,” a community leader named Adnan Hindi said at the time. “We lost our land and we were forced to flee.”

Like other moderate Arab leaders, King Mohammed VI must tread carefully. Islamic fervor is rising in his kingdom, highlighted in 2003 by al-Qaida-inspired attacks in Casablanca on targets that included Jewish sites. Forty-five people died.

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From the BBC:

A group of soldiers who took part in Israel’s assault in Gaza say widespread abuses were committed against civilians under “permissive” rules of engagement.

The troops said they had been urged to fire on any building or person that seemed suspicious and said Palestinians were sometimes used as human shields.

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A New York Times op-ed article entitled, “Behind the Violence in Xinjiang,” by Nicholas Bequelin, explains the root problems of the ethnic clashes in China:

HONG KONG — The eruption of ethnic violence in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the most deadly recorded in decades, seems to have taken both Beijing and the world by surprise. It should not have.

The violence, coming on the heels of massive protests in Tibet less than 18 months ago, reflects the profound failure of Beijing’s policies toward national minorities, whose areas represent almost four-fifths of the country’s landmass but whose population makes up only 8 percent of China’s 1.3 billion people.

The Uighur people, much like the Tibetans, have a history, culture, religion and language distinct from the rest of China. Their homeland, the ring of oases that formed the backbone of the Silk Road in ancient times, was only incorporated into the Chinese empire in the 18th century.

And the effective colonization of Xinjiang only started after 1950s, when Beijing began to settle People’s Liberation Army soldiers who had put down the short-lived independent East Turkestan Republic (1944-1949) on military state farms. The proportion of Han Chinese in the population of Xinjiang leaped from 6 to 40 percent as a result of state-sponsored population transfers from other parts of China.

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