House lawmakers split along party lines at a hearing on June 20 meant to gauge Muslim responses to earlier hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.
Testimony by four witnesses was overshadowed by Republicans who defended the four prior hearings and Democrats who questioned whether they were misguided or actually harmful to Muslim Americans.
Short on new data but long on rhetoric, lawmakers argued both sides of the same statistics and relied heavily on anecdotes.
“The overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans are outstanding Americans, yet the reality is that the Islamist terror threat comes from the community,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Muslim civil rights activists are headed to court to end a New York City Police Department program that they say violates their constitutional rights by spying on Muslims based only on their religion.
The lawsuit, Hassan et al. v. City of New York, is the first legal challenge against the NYPD's alleged spying and profiling of Muslim Americans in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that was first reported by The Associated Press last year. The suit, to be filed June 6 in a federal court in New Jersey, seeks an “immediate end” to the NYPD surveillance program, and calls for the NYPD to destroy all records of information obtained through the program.
Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a San Francisco-based civil rights group representing the plaintiffs, said civil rights groups, congressmen, and other officials have called on U.S., New York, and New Jersey officials to investigate the NYPD’s alleged spying, but to no avail.
“It’s come to the point that the community feels like politicians have failed them, so now they’re turning to the courts to seek justice,” Khera said.
Every year, somewhere between US$200 billion and $1 trillion are spent in “mandatory” alms and voluntary charity across the Muslim world, Islamic financial analysts estimate. At the low end of the estimate, this is 15 times more than global humanitarian aid contributions in 2011.
With aid from traditional Western donors decreasing in the wake of a global recession, and with about a quarter of the Muslim world living on less than $1.25 a day, this represents a huge pool of potential in the world of aid funding.
Muslim civil rights groups are calling a new Kansas law that bans Shariah in state courtrooms an expression of Islamophobia that is vulnerable to a legal challenge.
The law, signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday (May 28), does not specifically mention Shariah, or Islamic law, but forbids state courts from basing decisions on foreign laws that contradict rights granted by the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Muslim groups called the law little more than anti-Muslim propaganda.
Muslim communities in Kansas City, Columbia and Jefferson City maintain small funeral facilities, often inside mosques, for washing bodies of the deceased. But until now, many Muslims buried their loved ones in Muslim sections of Christian cemeteries, relying largely on non-Muslims to guide them through the process of death.
As the Muslim population of the U.S. has grown -- the number of mosques grew 74 percent in the last 10 years, according to a 2011 survey -- so has the need for Muslim-specific services like funeral homes and cemeteries.
Jay Hardy, the owner of Jay B. Smith Funeral Homes in Maplewood, Mo., and Fenton, Mo., said that in the 1970s, he handled one or two Muslim burials a year. Today that number is up to three or four each week, he said.
After lobbying from Muslim and Sikh leaders, the Los Angeles Police Department has agreed to modify its information-gathering program on suspicious activities after the New York Police Department came under fire for spying on local Muslims.
Since 2008, the LAPD has used the federal Suspicious Activities Reporting (SAR) program to file reports on potential terrorist-related actions, such as someone photographing certain buildings. Sikh and Muslim leaders said the LAPD’s Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau should ensure that future suspicious activity reports are prompted by actual behavior with apparently genuine criminal or terrorist elements.
After nearly four years in the Oval Office, President Obama is incorrectly thought to be Muslim by one in six American voters, and only one quarter of voters can correctly identify him as a Protestant, according to a new poll.
Voters do better identifying Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, according to a poll released Thursday (May 10) by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. A slim majority of voters -- 51 percent -- knows the presumed Republican presidential nominee is Mormon.
“Wow. He said it 100 times that he’s not a Muslim,” said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, expressing surprise over the persistent number of American voters (16 percent) who make the mistake.
Is there something insidious behind the belief, a concerted attack to link the president with a religion that's considered alien -- or worse -- by some Americans?
Over the weekend, the (seemingly) perennial fire-starter and certifiable wingnut Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., a 50-member self-proclaimed Christian congragation, made good on his threats to burn a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, in what he said was a protest of the ongoing incarceration of a Christian pastor in Iraq.
You may recognize Jones from his infamous 2011 Quran burning, one that federal authorities and President Obama personally attempted (in vain, sadly) to prevent the wrong-headed from what many critics feared would only serve to perpetuate further anti-American violence by so-called Islamic extremists and terrorists around the world.
This time, Jones claimed to be stoking his fires of unrest on behalf of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Muslim convert to Christianity who has been imprisoned by the Iranian government for nearly three years on charges of apostasy and reportedly is facing execution for his "crimes."
The Gainesville Sun newspaper reports that this weekend's Quran burning, which also included an effigy of Islam's Prophet Muhammad set aflame, took place in front of 20 spectators outside Jones' church, and the whole incident was broadcast live on the Internet.
NEWARK, N.J. — As friction over the New York Police Department's spying on New Jersey Muslims continues to grow, the state's top FBI officer said the uproar is damaging his agency's ability to gather important counterterrorism intelligence.
"What we have now is (Muslim communities) ... that they're not sure they trust law enforcement in general, they're fearing being watched, they're starting to withdraw their activities," Michael Ward, director of the FBI's Newark division, said Tuesday (March 6).
"And the impact of that sinking tide of cooperation means that we don't have our finger on the pulse of what's going on in the community as well -- we're less knowledgeable, we have blind spots, and there's more risk."
In his first public comments on the deepening controversy, Ward said the FBI has spent the years after 9/11 opening lines of communication with New Jersey's Muslim communities.
Muslim female soccer players are celebrating a decision by the International Football Association Board to allow them to test specially designed head coverings for four months.
Soccer's international governing body, known as FIFA, has prohibited headscarves since 2007, citing safety concerns. The new headscarves will be fastened with Velcro rather than pins.
The headscarf prohibition has generated controversy among fans of the world's most popular team sport, especially in Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.
NEWARK, N.J. — Amid concern over the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslims beyond New York City, New Jersey and federal law enforcement officials plan to hold a summit Saturday (March 3) to assure Muslim leaders that they are addressing the NYPD probe.
Amin Nathari, a spokesman for Newark's Muslim Community Leadership Coalition, said Muslim leaders planned to meet in Trenton with representatives of the FBI, the New Jersey State Police and the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to discuss the NYPD operations.
The U.S. Attorney's Office of New Jersey, the state police and the FBI's division in Newark confirmed they plan to attend, but offered no specifics. The state Attorney General's Office and Homeland Security declined to comment.
Evangelist Franklin Graham has apologized to President Obama for questioning his Christian faith and said religion has "nothing to do" with Graham's decision not to support Obama's re-election.
Graham's Tuesday apology came after a group of prominent black religious leaders criticized the evangelist for saying he did not know whether Obama is a Christian and suggesting that Islamic law considers him to be a Muslim.
Graham, president of the relief organization Samaritan's Purse and the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, said he now accepts Obama's declarations that he is a Christian.
"I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama," he said in a statement.
FBI officials say they are willing to consider a proposal from a coalition of Muslim and interfaith groups to establish a committee of experts to review materials used in FBI anti-terrorism training.
The coalition raised the idea during a Feb 8 meeting with FBI Director Robert Mueller, who met with the groups to discuss pamphlets, videos and other anti-terrorism training materials that critics say are either Islamophobic or factually incorrect.
"We're open to the idea, but they need to submit a proposal first," said Christopher Allen, an FBI spokesman who was in the meeting.
Groups at the meeting included the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Interfaith Alliance, and the Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaign.
Nuns vs. strippers. Oprah and Hasidim. A Christian TMZ.com? Muslim tweeter is in trouble. Female backlash against the GOP. Catholic television network EWTN files a lawsuit against the contraception mandate. Santorum says the contraception fight has "nothing to do with women's rights." Did Cardinal Bevilacqua die of foul play? A plot to kill the pope. Drive-thru funerals and more...inside the blog.
The people behind a popular chain e-mail about President Obama and the National Day of Prayer might want to think about the sin of omission.
That's omission, as in omitting facts.
The widely circulated e-mail claims that Obama canceled a National Day of Prayer ceremony at the White House in 2009, but later that year, a National Day of Prayer for Muslims was permitted on Capitol Hill, beside the White House.
Growing up in Kuwait, Asif Balbale thought he wanted to become a chemical engineer. He never imagined enlisting in the U.S. Navy, much less becoming an imam.
Balbale got his engineering degree after immigrating to the U.S. at age 21. With jobs hard to come by, he tried to enlist in the Army, but didn't weigh enough. Instead, he met the Navy's minimum requirements.
He was sworn in as a U.S. citizen in 2005 while deployed aboard the USS Boxer. Intending to apply for an officer program, Balbale, 31, mistakenly emailed a recruiter for the chaplain corps.
"God, I think, had better plans for me," Balbale said, looking back.
And so it is for a number of military chaplains who, by twists of fate or perhaps divine Providence, found their calling to become chaplains while on active duty.
TORONTO — Muslim clerics in Canada have issued a fatwa against so-called "honor killings" a week after three members of an Afghan family in Montreal were convicted of the murders of four relatives.
The religious decree -- only the third of its kind in Canada -- also prohibits domestic violence and hatred of women. It was issued on Saturday (Feb. 4) on the eve of Mawlid an-Nabi, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
"These crimes are major sins in Islam, punishable by the court of law and almighty Allah," said Imam Syed Soharwardy of Calgary, representing 34 clerics affiliated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.
More than 30 Muslim and legal advocacy groups are urging New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to investigate the New York City Police Department after the second scandal in as many weeks involving Muslim Americans.
On Thursday (Feb. 2), The Associated Press reported that it had obtained a secret 2006 NYPD report, "U.S.-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City," which recommended that officers "expand and focus intelligence" at Shiite mosques.
A jury on Sunday found three members of an Afghan family guilty of killing three teenage sisters and another woman in what the judge described as "cold-blooded, shameful murders" resulting from a "twisted concept of honor," ending a case that shocked and riveted Canadians.
Prosecutors said the defendants allegedly killed the three teenage sisters because they dishonored the family by defying its disciplinarian rules on dress, dating, socializing and using the Internet.
The jury took 15 hours to find Mohammad Shafia, 58; his wife Tooba Yahya, 42; and their son Hamed, 21, each guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
After the verdict was read, the three defendants again declared their innocence in the killings of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar 17, and Geeti, 13, as well as Rona Amir Mohammad, 52, Shafia's childless first wife in a polygamous marriage.
Read a roundup of the ongoing coverage of the Shafia trial and the religious, political and social issues related to the so-called "honor killings" inside the blog...
The families in the show don't conform to distorted Muslim stereotypes that its critics had apparently hoped to see on All-American Muslim.