Our Founders knew that religious liberty is essential not only to protect religion, but because religion helps strengthen our nation. From our Revolution to the abolition of slavery, from women’s rights to civil rights, men and women of faith have often helped move our nation closer to our founding ideals. This progress is part of what makes us a beacon to the world.
Recently some American politicians have made shocking comments regarding Muslims — shocking because they have been cheered on and gained political mileage; shocking because the politicians pretend they are honoring the U.S. Constitution; and shocking because the politicians are willing to overlook the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights for all in order to dehumanize Muslims.
American Muslims feel sad, depressed, and frightened about this trend. Fascism takes a long path, but it starts this way. At the same time, we are optimistic that these days that are upon us will pass and that Islamophobic politicians and their backers will fade in due course.
When Karen Hunt Ahmed and her Muslim husband divorced four years ago, many friends asked her, “Now you can stop this Islam stuff, right?”
Some friends, she thought.
“Like it was a hobby I took up when I got married and now I’m supposed to drop it,” said Hunt Ahmed, president of the Chicago Islamic Microfinance Project, which she founded with two colleagues in 2009.
Hunt Ahmed, 45, is part of a growing sorority of female American converts to Islam, especially those who are or were married to Muslim men, who must deal with the perception that they converted to Islam because of domineering boyfriends or husbands.
The stereotype was revived in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, when news emerged that the wife of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Katherine Russell, converted to Islam after meeting Tsarnaev in 2009 or 2010 when she was about 21.
A few weeks ago, we asked you to sign a petition asking the Department of Justice to investigate hate crimes against the Islamic Society of Joplin’s mosque. Federal officials are offering $15,000 for information leading to the man who set the mosque on fire July 4th.
Beau Underwood wrote for Sojourners two weeks ago: “The biblical call to love our neighbors as ourselves requires Christians to speak out against these attacks. By protecting the rights of American Muslims to worship in the United States, we provide a powerful witness to those countries where Christian minorities face attack and persecution, such as Nigeria, Egypt, Somalia, and Kenya. If we expect others to take our advocacy for global religious freedom seriously, then our efforts must begin in our own backyard.”
More than 5,500 of you signed this petition, which is incredible! But we don’t have to stop there.
On Wednesday, 42 interfaith religious and advocacy organizations signed on to a letter condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann and others in Congress for their accusations that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. government.
The claims — one aimed at Sec. Hillary's Clinton aideHuma Abedin — have also been condemned by members on both sides of the aisle. One of the most impassioned defenses of Abedin came from Sen. John McCain (R - Ariz.), saying, "When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.”
WASHINGTON — The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is persecuted around the world, but it has plenty of friends on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., joined more than 20 House colleagues and at least one senator on June 27 at a reception to mark the first visit of the Ahmadiyya’s spiritual leader, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, to Congress.
The Ahmadiyya have faced severe repression, Pelosi said, “but you refused to turn to bitterness or vengeance.”
“The message we carry is 'if you are being hurt, do not respond with hurt,'" said Ahsanullah Zafar, president of the Ahmadiyya community in the U.S.
Against a backdrop of heartland fears that U.S. Muslims seek to impose Islamic law on American courts, a leading Muslim group will launch a campaign Monday to dispel what it called misconceptions about Shariah.
The "Defending Religious Freedom: Understanding Shariah" campaign comes at a time when more than 20 states are considering or have passed laws forbidding judges from considering Shariah in their deliberations.
Many Americans associate Shariah with the harsh punishments carried out in a few Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, even as U.S. Muslim groups insist they have no desire to introduce Islamic law on themselves or others.
"There were all these wrong notions about Shariah," said professor Zahid Bukhari, president of the Islamic Circle of North America, which is sponsoring the campaign.
The most worrisome thing, he said, was that the level of hatred toward Shariah had spread from the margins of society to the mainstream. The ICNA campaign has already drawn fire from "anti-Shariah" groups in the United State
Verizon, the national cable television operator, has decided to drop Bridges TV, a pioneering television network that seeks to challenge stereotypes of Muslims and create understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Verizon is the main distributor for Bridges TV, which was launched in 2004 and relies on Verizon to reach 19 of its 26 markets, including Los Angeles, metro New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C.
Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art, and the Architecture of Silence. And, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice.
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